Friday, October 2, 2015

September Budget

This month we managed to put extra toward the mortgage and more than usual in savings, so I'm grateful for that.  It helps that utilities were nice and low because of the pleasant weather.  The grocery bill was lower than usual also, which I'd like to attribute to our garden, although I'm not sure if that is really the case.  Veggies are so cheap that it is hard to gauge how much of an effect the garden produce is having.

We'd also crossed the half-way mark on the house, counting from the sale price of the house, not the amount we borrowed, but still: progress.  Right now we have 4.5 years on the mortgage if we make bigger-than-usual payments and 7.3 years if we revert to the actual payment.  I am really looking forward to FT entrepreneurship when the house is paid off.

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My husband, proud CEO of Charlemagne Beard Oil, achieved a yeard in early September.

A yeard, is a beard that has been grown for a year.  This is a photo from around that time.  I'll have to see if I can find a photo that better shows off his length.  But I wanted to celebrate the moment, even belatedly!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pottery Class Results

This is what I made during my 10-week class:

Except for the pastel green and yellow pot with the black outlines on its petals--one of the instructors made that for me since the piece to its left (another pot-with-petals) kept getting broken and repaired.

Here is a close-up of some favorite pieces:
I like making pottery, but it is a whole lot harder than it looks.  Plus some things crack for no reason and glazing can be unpredictable.  (Of course, somethings also crack for very good reasons....)

I asked my instructor what she thought of my abilities and she said, "You have a good design sense, but you are too hasty."  So, I said, "Creative, but impatient."  She nodded.

I'm hoping do to pottery again because I like the practical aspect.  Among the other little experiments, I made two vases, three pots for plants, a pencil holder or two, and three matching containers for utensils that match our yellow-and-black kitchen.  Most the above turned out OK.  Also, making pottery is really soothing and meditative.   

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book on Anxiety

Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry
by Catherine M. Pittman and Elizabeth M. Karle

This book was a wee bit repetitive, but it made the relevant science of the brain perfectly clear to a non-sciencist like myself.

What I found most interesting is that anxiety can have two different routes through the brain.  There is cortex-based anxiety that basically comes from our thoughts and that we are quite cognizant of.  Whether we are obsessing over some problem, or reasoning ("If this happens, I won't be able to pay the mortgage"), we know those thoughts are there.  The cortex notifies the amygdala, and we get the faster heartbeat, adrenaline, tensed muscles, etc. that we associate with being stressed out.

But there is also amygdala-produced anxiety that completely by-passing the thinking parts of the brain.  Very useful when you are suddenly in danger from a mad dog or drunk driver who seems to come out of nowhere. It's not the time to stop and analyze the situation!  The kicker is, though, that the amygdala can set off the danger/anxiety chain reaction when there's nothing wrong because something went wrong once in a similar situation.  And because there's no thinking involved, you may not even know why.

One example from the book was a woman who felt anxious and upset at baby showers and Thanksgiving dinners.  She just wanted to escape, even though there was nothing unpleasant about these events.  She had no idea why.  Eventually, she figured out that when she was in grade school, her teacher had had the students stand in a circle and read out-loud, and she was derided for her poor reading ability.  Her amygdala associated being in a circle with anxiety, hence gathering around the table at Thanksgiving or sitting around the room at a baby shower made this woman anxious.

Happy, both the cortex and amygdala can be retrained.

I was really fascinated by this idea because I dislike dogs---but I didn't as a child, and I cannot remember any negative dog experience.  But if it is amygdala-based anxiety, I wouldn't have to remember it.

Plus I have plenty of cortex-based anxiety, worrying, obsessing, and general stressing-out and the book has some techniques for dealing with that.  Nothing revolutionary, but it was nice to have it all in one place.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Movie Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Item One: Forget the James Thurber Story.  There's no connection except the title.

But I watched this movie this past spring and really liked it enough to remember to write about it now.  (Ben Stiller does such a great job playing an ordinary guy and I believe the underlying idea of the movie that ordinary people really are important.)  Plus I loved how carefully the visual elements of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty were planned.

Sometimes you can just tell folks put a lot of love into a movie.  It won't change your life but it's pretty high quality brain candy.

Monday, September 21, 2015

More Alcohol Ink Tiles

These are so good for me to make because there is so very little control over the process....  It just happens.

I'll be selling these at the St. John's Craft fair in November.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Free Wash Rags

Growing up, we used old T-shirts for rags.

My husband was not a fan.  He would actually BUY flimsy, disposable rags, which he called dishcloths and which were blue and came neatly folded.

I thought this was a waste of $.  Finally, I realized that if I cut the T-shirts into neat rectangles, minus seams and stacked tidily in a box, that he would tolerate them.  So, whilst watching TV, I cut stained and otherwise rejected T-shirts from the St. T's Thrift Store's discard bag into neat rectangles.  (My favorite privilege of volunteering there is rummaging through the discard bag.  The other ladies can't decide if I'm admirably thrifty or crazy.  But don't worry, the ones I don't pick aren't thrown away.  There are many forms of recycling.)

The dishcloths sat atop the fridge. Then I decided to cover the box with wallpaper scraps from the Free Fridays at the EcoStore.  So what follows cost me absolutely nothing.  (It saved me almost nothing.  But it was fun.)

I didn't end up embellishing the box with flowers cut from old cards, but I thought about it.

Wall-papering the box actually required more forethought than I had expected in order to hide seams and deal with corners.

 Now it is not such an eyesore on top of the fridge.

Have you made anything lately?