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Hi all, it’s pretty obvious by now that I’m super-crappy at keeping this blog updated ūüôĀ

However I have created a new venture, a follow-on from my 2012 Project-a-Day blog. I’ve learned a lot from my old blog and I’ve expanded the reviews and hopefully polished up whole process a bit more. I also have some shops come on board with ¬†discount codes and upcoming giveaways etc.

Cross Stitch Review

Anyway, please check it out and if you like it, please mention it to your friends or in any groups you are in. I’d like this to get a broad reach to repay the store owners and designers who have put faith into my little venture.

Thanks and I promise to update this blog soon!


The big goal for 2014 is for me to stitch from my stash and not buy anything other than what I can get from my local Spotlight (Joanne’s style shop). ¬†Unfortunately Spotlight has decreased its range so I’m only picking up DMC thread. ¬†I thought they still stocked Mill Hill beads but I was wrong! This has made the goal a little more difficult but it’s still worthy given the amount of WIPs and already kitted or partially kitted projects in my stash.

To be completely open and honest, Julie has bought the two sets of beads and two pieces of fabric I’ve so far needed as gifts. ¬†But she did wait until I¬†absolutely needed the items Right Now. ¬†For that I am grateful and very appreciative.

I have also been gifted charts by Ronnie Douglas, Tammy Pollard and Michele Anderson.

However it is now late-March and I feel my resolve weakening.  There are some fabulous designs on Etsy that I would love to get my hands on stitch to now such as:

I Cross Stitch - by Clouds Factory

I Cross Stitch – by Clouds Factory

Wash Your Hands - by Alicia Watkins

Wash Your Hands – by Alicia Watkins


and of course gorgeous new charts by well-known designers such as this:

Eleganza - by Alessandra Adelaide (AAN)

Eleganza – by Alessandra Adelaide (AAN)


So I have been feeling my resolve weakening.  When/if I cave in and buy cross stitch stash then I must give a generous gift from my stash to the person who guessed closest to the date.

So far I can give my commiserations to ¬†Tammy Pollard & Kim Howe who guessed I wouldn’t last past early January, Mel Clyne, Niina Kroger, Heather Cartwright & ¬†Ee Koon Goh who guessed I wouldn’t make it to the end of February, and Mariangela Caligiuri, Kay Jones, Lynda Garrett Melanson-Orme,¬†Em Jay, Emma Joseph, Kenny Layer & Deborah Sharp who thought I wouldn’t make it this far into March.

To “help” me stiffen my resolve Julie has “offered” to be the one to select the generous gift from my stash for the winner. Being a recipient of Julie’s generosity on many occasions, I’m a bit afraid of how much stash I might have left at the end of her gift giving (on my behalf).

Julie has said “It will be truly epic!”.

So after being doused with that metaphorical bucket of ice water, I feel I’ve got a good chance of making another month or two!

OK so I didn’t write this post on 1 March. I decided on my goals for the month, but I didn’t do much reflection as to why some goals seemed to be so much easier for me than others ….

I felt really buoyed by the progress made in February, I achieved three of my four goals. So I decided to keep focus on the same area – food and fitness.

So the goals for March are:

  1. Walk for 1 kilometre each day
  2. Do my Basic Bodyweight Fitness three times per week
  3. No junk food
  4. Reduced desserts


I achieved this last month, so I’m continuing it this month, just increasing the level a little. ¬†It takes around 10-12 minutes to walk 1 kilometre (0.6 of a mile). So this is a small increase on last month.

Motivation for this habit: I’ve given another $50.00 to the Bank of Julie. ¬†If I walk every single morning in March I get my money back. If not, she gets to keep it. This is my choice, my stick that will make me get out of bed.


To attempt the Beginner Bodyweight Workout (Nerd Fitness) every second day.  This is the basic beginner workout that requires no equipment and just a determination to start.

Motivation: Having difficulty figuring out a good prod for this one to make it stick. ¬†The lose weight and feel better seems to be amorphous and too lengthy. ¬†Julie has suggested an immediate reward system. ¬†I’m having trouble finding an instant reward that will motivate as well as a chocolate biscuit would. However a non-food based reward would be preferable.

Junk Food

Working on the adage “I cannot outrun my fork” the next step is to remove all junk food from my eating plan. ¬†Garbage in does not help achieve my results. ¬†So no hot chips, no McDonald’s, no pizza from the local pizza shop, nothing from a food court that has been sitting in a bain marie.


Similarly, I’m reducing desserts back to an occasional treat. ¬†If I am out at a restaurant / fancy caf√© / dinner party with friends then it is okay to indulge. ¬†If not, then no desserts. ¬†I think this is a sensible decision in terms of willpower and a healthy eating plan.


So that’s it. ¬†Any thoughts? Suggestions? ¬†Anyone want to share their life goals for this month?

OK so it is the 19 March. ¬†I did do a Feb recap and plan March’s goals but I didn’t post them here. ¬†So here it is!

How did I go with my plans and aims for the month:

  • Walk for 5 minutes each morning before breakfast
  • Do my¬†Angry Birds Workout¬†three times per week
  • Cut out all soda from my diet
  • Shop my stash when stitching

Well I passed three and failed one.

What Worked:

I have not  bought a single item towards my cross stitch hobby.  Miss Julie has helped by buying items to finish off WIPs I have been working on recently; a couple of packets of beads.  She also, before I even knew the list was available, bought all of the beads and embellishments needed for the new Passione Ricamo SAL. She bought for both of us so we can share packets of beads where only a few is needed of each colour.

What really made this one difficult to stick to this month is of course all of the glorious new charts that keep coming out and my wanting to ditch my WIPs to start these new ones immediately; of course that impulse is what got me into a position of overflowing WIPs in the first place!

I also walked for a minimum of 10 minutes every day. ¬†I ¬†tracked my walks each day via Runkeeper, so anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook can see and verify that the walks actually happened.¬†The caveat suggested by Julie that I do not touch social media until I have completed my walk has helped enormously in the “just get out of bed and do it” stakes. ¬†It also helped that it didn’t rain this month and often it was a great idea to get the walk in early before the temperatures rose to horrendous heights. And yes I have therefore “won back” the $50 I gave to the bank of Julie ūüôā

I cut all soda/pop/soft drink from my diet. ¬†This wasn’t a difficult one to do as I don’t obtain¬†soda for myself except when out buying junk food. ¬†Reduce the junk food and cut out the soda and everything works. ¬†I do allow soda water in my new food outlook as it is merely water and CO2 and it makes other people comfortable in a social setting if I have of something fizzy while they are drinking fizzy drinks.

What didn’t work:

I did not complete my workouts this month. In fact I did not complete one single workout. ¬†I really don’t know what the psychological block is with the strength workouts but I can come up with 100 different excuses not to start. ¬†So I can’t spend my hard-won $50 on anything useful. ¬†At this point I have left it with the bank of Julie.

In Summary:

I’ve learned there are three types of willpower:

  1. I will do this … (walk every morning)
  2. I won’t do this … (buy stash, drink soda)
  3. I want this long-term …. (workouts)

So I seem to be pretty good at the WONT willpower, I’m doing OK with the WILL willpower, ¬†but I’m absolutely rubbish at the WANT willpower. ¬†Thinking long-term (not that strong to begin with) has disappeared completely since the onset of chronic pain.

How to increase my WANT willpower requires further thought, maybe some reading.  Any suggestions or thoughts? How do I stop sabotaging my long-term goals for immediate gratification?

So after looking at what didn’t work last month, the fitness side of life, I decided to read Nerd Fitness¬†to regain some enthusiasm¬†and look for tips to make this work for me. I realised that what I left out of the equation last time was a sense of¬†accountability that impacted on me and any form of ¬†reward, Ye Olde Carrot & Stick!

With the financial side of things I employed some techniques to help me, two apps to help keep track of my money, and unsubscribing to all stash unload groups on FB and many cross stitch shop newsletters. ¬†I didn’t do anything to help make the fitness side easier.

So the goals for February are:

  1. Walk for 5 minutes each morning before breakfast
  2. Do my Angry Birds Workout three times per week
  3. Cut out all soda from my diet


In Summer in Melbourne the hottest times of the day are 4-6pm and the coolest time is 6am.  So It makes sense to exercise in the morning.  This goal is not about doing any form of fat-burning exercise; it is about creating the habit of getting up and exercising.

Motivation for this habit: I’ve given Julie $50.00. ¬†This is a huge amount of money for me.¬† I’ve only got it because some bills I planned for came in under expected cost. So …. Julie holds this windfall. ¬†If I walk every single morning in February I get my money back. If not, she gets to keep it. This is my choice, my stick that will make me get out of bed.

The other motivation (this one suggested by Julie): No using the iPad/iPhone/laptop until after my walk. This encourages me to get that walk done so I can see what’s happened with you guys overnight, and means I don’t get distracted with FB etc and suddenly its midday and too hot to walk. So I plug all devices in outside the bedroom at night, and lay out my walking clothes and shoes ready to just put on in the morning,

A final assistance as provided by Julie and Ian is the gift of an unused treadmill that was gathering dust in their garage. This is for those days when it is raining (excuse me while I giggle madly) or simply too hot already to go outside (more likely). so I can use the treadmill under the aircon.


To do the Angry Birds workout every second day.  This is a bodyweight and dumbbell workout that I can tailor to my fitness levels and should not spike the migraine.  I plan to do this in the afternoons. A walk will boost my metabolism for a little while, so doing this in the afternoons should lengthen that boost.

Motivation: If I complete all of my workouts for the month, I will buy myself something to help with my fitness journey; a pull up bar, some better socks, a set of adjustable dumbbells. I’ll decide exactly what at the end as I will have a better idea at that time¬†as to what is the highest priority, The best part is that if I complete all of my workouts AND all of my walks, then I’ll have that $50 to spend towards that reward – how’s that for financial planning and motivation ūüôā ūüôā

I will sort out a gym space in the back room to do workouts so there’s no faffing about finding space etc. I’ll also set the workout up on Numbers on the Pad so I can enter my progress each time and adjust my workout difficulty easily.


I’ve found that I work best when concentrating on only one aspect at a time. ¬†The financial side has settled down into a routine so this month I’m focusing on moving my butt off the couch. ¬†However in anticipation of adjusting the diet I’m throwing in a little change here of cutting out all soft drinks / fizzy drinks / soda / pop.

I don’t normally drink these but they have crept back into my diet in the last couple of months, so they can quietly creep back out. ¬†I hope my friends will support me here and not feel uncomfortable when I ask for water.

So that’s it. ¬†Any thoughts? Suggestions? ¬†Anyone want to share their life goals for this month?


OK it’s evening on the 31 January 2014. ¬†So how did I go with my plans and aims for the month:

  1. Have all of my financial accounts out of overdraft and into ‚Äúthe black‚ÄĚ
  2. Using 2kg dumbells do Bent Over Dumbell Rows. 3 sets of  8 reps with 2 minutes between each set.
  3. Walk a minimum of 5000 steps per day every day.
  4. Shop my stash when stitching

Well I passed two and failed two.

What Worked:

I have not ¬†bought a single item towards my cross stitch hobby. ¬†I have been given a fat quarter of black 25ct evenweave by Julie for ¬†SAL that wasn’t going well, but nothing has been added to the stash. Incidentally the threads for this SAL (Brodeuse Bressane) ended up coming from Julie’s stash too – but that was a victim of circumstance ūüôā

Tammy made it really difficult with her new Colour Cascade Designs, many of which have been added to my Lust List, but I’ve managed to make it to the end of the month! ¬†I think I can continue this one to the end of next month.

As of this moment, all of my current bills are paid and my transaction account is in the black. I was given some money by my mum, but the ease of budgeting my money via YNAB and tracking my money with Pocketbook helped me from inadvertently getting back into a hole. ¬†It also reduced a lot a of stress as I knew at any one time how much money I had and where it was. ¬†I no longer had to remember that I was putting money aside for a bill later in the month or that I had already spent the money but it hadn’t been taken out of my account yet.

Using these two programs I am certain I can keep my finances under control and on track to my end of year goal of:  Have a one month financial buffer.  I should also be able to cope with unexpected costs on my own as time goes on.

What didn’t work:

I did not walk 5000 steps every day. I did not keep up with my workouts. Part of this was due to migraine flare-ups and the resultant fatigue/exhaustion/depression that lasted days afterwards. Partly this was also due to the heat, as this is Summer in Australia and partly this is due to apathy. ¬†Once I perceive that I have “failed” at a task, I find it more difficult to devote any enthusiasm to it.

So in summary I’ve learned that with the help of my friends and family I can learn to abstain from spending money. ¬†I still need to work on finding ways to get my butt off the couch. ¬†Progress towards one out of two end of year goals is not bad. ¬†I can live with this.


I’ve decided on a couple of serious resolutions this year. I’ve made them specific, measurable, and I have a tools and process in place to help me achieve them.

By the end of the year I aim to:

  1. Have a one-month financial buffer.
  2. Be able to do a bodyweight pull up .

Aim: ¬†To ¬†have enough money in the bank to pay for all of my ongoing bills one month ahead of time.¬†To help achieve this ¬†I’ve set up my budget through You Need a Budget and am tracking my spending via Pocketbook (the Aussie version of Mint). ¬†Already I have pared back on non-essentials and cancelled any participation in SALs that require the purchase of charts, fabric or threads ¬†to participate in. ¬†I’m challenging myself to shop my stash and am running a competition in conjunction with this. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge!

Most budget apps get you to list out all of your bills and then wait for the money to come in to pay them.  The YNAP approach is to look at your money and prioritize where it needs to go before the next amount of money comes in.  It seems like such a small thing but it is a fundamental change in mindset for me.

Aim: To¬†grab a bar and pull my chin up and over up it and back down once.¬†I’m overweight. I’m in the morbidly obese category. ¬†Until recently I thought of exercise as a generic adjunct to losing the fat. Then I read this article and stopped to think, what do I want to achieve with my fitness? That led to some introspection and I decided that I’d really like to be ¬†able to rock climb. ¬†So lifting my own body weight is step one on that journey. ¬†I have a training regime that will get me as a slow pace (thanks to Bruce the migraine) to that point hopefully by the end of the year. ¬†Then I can move on to the next phase. ¬†Coupled with this will be better eating and more walking to reduce the amount of weight I have to lift ūüôā ūüôā

I’m currently using Striiv and Runkeeper for my walking progress and MyFitnessPal for my general food and fitness diary. I’ve also joined Nerd Fitness for general fitness motivation. So if anyone else is planning these kinds of activities this year, please friend me on these networks so we can encourage each other along.

4 week goals:

  1. Have all of my financial accounts out of overdraft and into “the black”
  2. Using 2kg dumbells do Bent Over Dumbell Rows. 3 sets of  8 reps with 2 minutes between each set.
  3. Walk a minimum of 5000 steps per day every day.

I may not achieve all of these goals, especially the financial one, but I will try my best, roll with it, and if necessary, adjust the timetable for February.

Except for the occasional skein of DMC floss from Spotlight (the Aussie version of Joann’s I think) I will attempt to only shop my stash for 2014. That means no purchasing¬†of charts, threads or fabric for 2014. Do you think I can make it?

Here’s the competition:
Comment on my Facebook post and choose the date that you think I will cave and buy stash! The person who chooses the resultant correct date will receive a package of charts, threads and fabric from my stash.

Only one person per date. Yes you can choose 1 January 2014¬†¬†Yes you can choose 31 December 2014¬†¬†I will tailor the prize in terms of fabric count, colours themes etc for the winner. Entries close at the very¬†end of 2013, Australian time. That’s a touch over five days time.

I’ve received a couple of Christmas cards reminding me that I haven’t posted on this blog in six months (and of course not everyone is on Facebook) so I’d better do a catch up so you can all see that I am still alive. ¬†Hi, I’m alive !!!

I feel I haven’t really accomplished much this year but I forget that my life has to be measured in baby steps these days.

Wyndham Vale

Wyndham Vale

I’ve been in my wonderful Casa del Triffid for 12 months now. I have steady gardeners visiting once a month to keep the yards mowed, clean, weed-free and the trees and shrubs pruned when necessary. ¬†A Christmas present from Ian & Julie is a lovely herb bed that the gardeners will be putting in the back for me next Monday.

I have been responsible for my own shopping, cooking and tidying for around six months (I relied on Lite & Easy pre-prepared food packs for the first six months). ¬†Although I don’t feel very successful in this area – I had unrealistic expectations of creating healthy nutritional meals three times a day and having a company-ready house daily – I think I’m doing OK.

Project 42 (exercise + diet + mindset = healthier Me) has had a few setbacks but I’ve finally found that the ONLY exercise that wont upset Bruce the migraine is walking. ¬†So I’ve been walking … strolling … NOT power walking. ¬†A walk to the shops and back is 10kms and takes about 2 hours. ¬†It also burns over 1000 calories. ¬†I’m happy with this. ¬†I try to do this once a week depending on weather and migraine. Also I’ve increased the number of times I get up or walk about for a break while doing things, just to keep the metabolism moving. ¬†Its all about the little things.

In late-November I saw a new neurologist, she is US-trained and in her 40s. ¬†Unlike all of the other neurologists I’ve seen who are Australian/UK trained (completely different ideologies) and male and in their 70s. ¬†She’s changing my meds around and currently has me on a strong anti-inflammatory to see if that will help. ¬†She is taking me off the Topomax which she believes is causing more ¬†neurological side-effects than the migraine. ¬†So I’m currently in Week 4 of a 5-week med swap. ¬†At this point I’m in more pain and have less energy, but I am sleeping more than I was. We will see when I’m through the transition.

Abby and Little Miss are working out well together.  Little Miss has become a fuzzy slug.  A slothful, laid-back cat who is more than happy to let Abby be the alpha. Miss is my lap cat, sleeps on me in bed, and is becoming my stitching cat (she is good when I stitch but she still thinks that whole DMC skeins are the BEST cat toys ever!).  Abby is happy to accept this furry addition to the furniture and the attendant second food bowl, multiple spawning water bowls and extra litter bowl.  Otherwise Abby just continues as the familiar but independent soul.

There was some stitching done during the year, much drooling over new designs and discovering of new designers. ¬†Also I joined an Australian Stitchers Facebook group who coincidentally started up a monthly get-together during 2013. ¬†I’ve met a great group of stitchers and we will continue these get-togthers into the next year. ¬†Anyone who is in the Melbourne area on the dates in question are welcome to come along!

In the next little while, I will copy over some of my previous Facebook updates and photos of my stitching, the cats and anything that could be of interest.

Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, and Blessed Be to you all !!!!


Ah ! Another thing I learned from QI. If you have a real Christmas tree this year (as in a chopped down sapling) contact your local zoo and see if they want the tree after Christmas. Apparently elephants can go through 5 trees each a day, given the chance, and may other animals can use them too.

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