SAL #9 Crown of Thorns

I really can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks since our last update! I still haven’t finished this project. Summer has finally arrived here in NY and I have been in my garden and outside on hikes when I am not at work.

I did make some progress though so hopefully you can tell the difference. Here is where I left off last time:

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and here is the point I am at now:

More of the thorns is completed and I am slowly making my way to the left side of the chart.

I hope to complete this project in the next week. I might need a snow storm to get it done though!

Please visit the other stitchy bloggers in our group by clicking on the links below. We post from all over the world!

See you in three weeks – MM

Young Crafters Series – Evelyn Naujokas

I met friendly, young, Evelyn Naujokas while I was shopping at a small, local, home goods store in a neighboring town. She was watching the store for the owner who was on vacation out of the country and while people browsed she sat behind the counter patiently waiting to cash them out. I noticed she was working on a rag hooking project. This piqued my interest of course, being a stitcher myself.

I struck up a quick conversation with her intrigued by her quiet attention to her project. This was her first rag hooking project, which an older friend of hers had started her on. I asked her a few questions about her experience with the project which she happily answered. She cashed out my purchase and then I was on my way.

A day or so after that conversation with Evelyn I couldn’t stop thinking about her and her WIP (work in progress) so I messaged the owner of the shop, who is a lovely woman and friend and I asked her if the young woman watching her shop that day would be interested in sitting down with me for an interview for my new blog series on young crafters. She said absolutely!

Evelyn and I met a week later at the local library and for almost an hour we chatted about the things going on in her life, most especially her new love for rag hooking.

First let me tell you what rag hooking is. Rag hooking in my mind is a bit different that rug hooking in that you are using strips of old fabric instead of bits of yarn. While scraps of rags helped to use and not waste leftover fabric to make rugs a hundred years ago, now in the twenty first century people hand dye fabric to make it a craft instead of a necessity. A pattern is hand drawn on the canvas to be used and the fabric strips are pulled through with a crafter’s hook to make a raised loop which after hooking many raised loops along the hand drawn pattern an image forms.

I asked her how she became interested in this type of craft considering there are so many other kinds of crafts to learn. She said her boss at the restaurant she serves at part-time hosts a rag hooking crafters group once a month for food and conversation and of course hooking. Evelyn said she used to watch the group and what they were working on and after a few times of her boss observing her watching the group, presented Evelyn with her own rag hooking kit!

A little background on Evelyn….She comes from a traditionally conservative family with three sisters, all of them crafty in some way. They love to go to flea markets and turn their finds into treasures. Each of her sisters and parents have different crafting styles ranging from sign and furniture making, to watercolor painting and gardening. Evelyn is currently a student at Monroe Community College majoring in Interior Design but she also expressed interest in being a Sommelier. A Sommelier is a Wine Steward who works with managing wine selection, purchase, storage, sales, and service in the hospitality industry.

Part of our conversation turned to how rag hooking helped her manage her stress level during school finals and other stressful times in her life. We even talked about her view on social media and the good and bad that can come from using our phones and being on media like Facebook and Instagram. We both agreed it was very easy to waste large amounts of time on social media and browsing the Internet mindlessly. Evelyn said what she loved about hooking was at the end, when the project was done, she had something tangible she had accomplished. She does not get that feeling from scrolling through Facebook. What she did like about social media was seeing new ideas and styles.

I really enjoyed my time with Evelyn and I plan to stay in touch with her to watch her progress on her project.

I think crafting really brings people and their creativity together. I belong to a Stitch-A-Long (SAL) group where a group of us from all over the world, update our progress on our Works in progress (WIP) every three weeks. Now how would I have ever gotten to know these wonderful ladies if not for my stitching?

I plan to post throughout the summer, stories of different people I hear about that are bringing back vintage crafting styles. Believe it or not these types of crafts are not just for “old ladies” anymore. Instagram shows young people with extraordinary talent in long forgotten crafts.

There is so much more I could write about my conversation with Evelyn Naujokas but suffice it to say I think she is a very talented and personally engaging young woman with a good head on her shoulders. Thank you Evelyn for indulging me with my new blog series. It was truly a pleasure!

See you next week everyone with another young crafter’s story! -MM

Not Impressed With Our Debt – Week 44 of 80 – Challenges

Remember when I told you about a trip to the emergency room in November last year and as of yet had not been billed for it? Well I finally got the bill…all $3200 of it. Yeah, and I have insurance and I still had to pay over $4000 for an emergency visit! This high deductible crap is getting old.

To add to our debt this month we desperately needed a new lawn tractor to mow our large yard. The one we have been using was getting too run down and the expensive repairs really didn’t fix the problems the mower had so we reluctantly bought a new one. We felt that a quality mower from a real dealer was the way to go. The initial cost is more expensive but the quality is 10 times better than a mower from a Walmart or Home depot. This new mower like the medical bill, cost us about $3200.

So our debt went up $6400 this month.

I considered giving up for a few months on these financial posts because our debt went up instead of down which just sounded awful to me and because I have two other blog series I want to pursue this summer.

However, after thinking about it more I  want people to know that things aren’t always going to be rosy when you are trying to get rid of debt. My husband told me I was making paying off our debt sound too easy and that to the reader we weren’t struggling every week. We ARE struggling every week. That is a reality for us, but do people really want to hear about reality? The bottom line is every single week we are paying off our debt regardless of the setbacks.

There is always going to be something that comes along that is a set back for a while. Vehicles come and go, home repairs from storms, new mattresses and those pesky medical bills to name a few but you can’t let it slow you down or break your commitment to paying off debt. Two steps forward, one step back? I guess that’s the case for us this time. Debt has its highs and lows.

When I started this series of posts I didn’t really think many people would read them. Do people really care that much about debt? You know what though? I have been surprised by the number of people that have come up to me and have mentioned how much they look forward to reading my debt challenge posts and to keep doing it.

Is there any good news you ask? Our home equity balance is now at $228. You know what that means right? Happy dance to come this month! I will have a BIG post when I make that last payment in a few weeks.

Keep at it my friends…keep at it. -MM

SAL 7- Crown of Thorns

What a gorgeous weekend it has been for us here in Upstate NY! Sunny and even warm today is the forecast. Before I run outside and play in my garden here is my three week SAL update.

Three weeks ago I left off with almost having the bottom finished:

After three weeks here is how far I have come:

I have finished the entire bottom half though it is hard to see with the wrinkle mark from the hoop. I got quite a bit done on the thorns!

I hope to finish this project in the next two updates. Although it’s been an amazing piece to work on my eyes definitely need a break.

Please visit the other members of this fun and extremely creative SAL group. If you are interested in joining us please contact Avis who is at the head of the list of Blogs.

See you again in June! -MM

Not Impressed with our Debt – Week 39 of 80 – April 2019 Results

April was catch up month for us so as expected the results are not spectacular.

We started off the month with $25,421 and as of today we are at $24,750. That’s down $671 which is the lowest I think I have had so far. But hey, it’s still forward progress right?!

I was only able to make a regular payment to the home equity this month so that debt went from $900 to $578. In the month of May baring anything unforeseen we should be doing our happy dance for paying it off! Fingers and toes crossed.

Even though April was less that productive in my mind I did realize something very exciting which will keep us motivated and moving forward in getting our debt gone for good.

I really started all of this paying off debt stuff in August of 2014. Our starting point was a whopping $143,775.35. Totally embarrassing right? Keep in mind that part of all of that is our mortgage but only about $50,000. That means over $90,000 was pure car, credit card, and home equity loans. Yikes right?

But here’s the cool thing, in less than 5 years, we have paid off an astonishing $71,300! Our total debt right now including house, car, credit cards, and loans is down to $72,475.

I couldn’t believe it when I tallied it. I have kept a white board since 2014, diligently marking down our progress every week and month for each debt when have. Cars have come and gone and credit cards have been paid off one by one.

My husband and I are pretty proud of what we have accomplished. It makes it worth the hard work we put into it. Hopefully some day we can pay for a vacation by swiping our debit card and not our credit card right?

We will see what May brings! See you next update. -MM

Not Impressed With Our Debt – Week 38 of 80 -Who’s Paying the Bills?

Who pays the bills in your household? For us it’s obviously me since I am blogging about it but recently I have had a few conversations with people about their bill paying practices.

One point from these conversations has been coming up more frequently. That point is are both you and your spouse or significant other named on your household bills? In other words, does the Cable bill come with your name and your mate’s name, or just one of your names?

This could be a big problem if it is just one of you. If something happens to the person solely named on the bill and the other person is not on it, making changes to that account can be slow and excruciating.

Example: I had a client tell me she paid the bills in her house but her husband always took care of the cell phones. He went out and got them new cell phones a few months ago and of course the bill was in his name even though he didn’t pay the bills but he was the one who opened the account. Her husband unfortunately died and now the cell phone company will not help her remove one of the phones from the account because her name is not on the bill. “He’s dead” she told them!  They told her in order to change anything she has to prove he is deceased by sending them an original death certificate (which costs money). If both of their names had been on the account there would not be a problem. In talking with her she said it never crossed their minds to do anything differently.

That happens a lot. I made my husband put me on his credit card account so I could talk to them about an issue we were having. My husband opened the account but never thought to add my name. I love him but he is terrible with knowing what to say to these people over the phone so when we had a problem he would call and then tell them please talk to my wife and he would hand the phone to me. Adding me meant I could just talk to them myself without having to bother him at work.

Another example I heard about recently from another client was her husband had some dementia problems and he had had two internet routers installed and they were paying for two internet services! They obviously only needed one service but when she tried to cancel one they would not let her or even talk to her since she was not on the account. I asked her why she wasn’t on the account since she paid the bills for the household and again the answer was it just wasn’t something they had ever thought about.

After these discussions with others and from my own experience I am making it a priority to look at every one our bills to make sure that the correct name and both names are on them. Believe it or not I have two bills that still have my first married name on them because I have been too lazy to change them. I have been married almost nine years to my second husband! I just haven’t wanted to send a copy of our marriage papers in to change my name. Silly right?

Now I don’t want you to think this is just something that the older population has to deal with as they age and pass away. Making sure your bills have the proper names on them is critical at any age. God forbid you’re a 28 year old father of two and something devastating happens to their mother, your wife, when she gives birth to your third child and you don’t have Power of Attorney for her affairs and all of the bills are in her name…see what I mean? You just never know.

There are so many things to think about when it comes to being responsible with our money. Every day we need to work at it. What can we improve? What will make our experience easier? These are all questions we have to ask ourselves.

Next week I will check in with my end of month results! See you next week! -MM

 

 

 

SAL-#5 Crown of Thorns

Good Morning from sunny New York! What a beautiful day it is going to be. Before I go out and dig in my garden all day I thought I better update you all on my progress with Crown of Thorns. Here is where I ended three weeks ago:

And here is where I am now:

I am feeling good with the progress I made this time.

I am part of a Stitch-a-long group that reports our progress every three weeks to each other. We are from all over the world. If you would like to join our group please contact the fabulous Avis. Her link is the first link in the group below. Please visit the other members blogs to see what they are up to!

See you in another 3 weeks! -MM