Yesterday I hemmed the shirt and marked the buttonholes. I didn’t actually do the buttonholes, because right now it’s a really nice shirt, and it is easy to destroy that by making bad buttonholes. I have an old-fashioned machine, not the modern kind where you just tell it to make buttonholes and then it does. It requires courage to make buttonholes.

But then what doesn’t require courage? I got up with my husband at 4:19 and wrote my business plan. It seems, given the modesty of my goals and the fact that I’m offering something that is so widely needed, that I really won’t be able to fail. Of course, I spent several months thinking of myself as an unemployed person who happened to work a lot, and then several more months thinking of myself as a person who obliged at websites, sort of like being a babysitter or something, rather than as a business owner. However, I got the Zentrepreneur books from a Frugalreader pal, and read through them all thinking, “Well, yeah, of course.” They advocate a design-centered business, having a written plan, continually improving your skills, behaving with integrity, having a good website, stuff like that. These are not the type of business books that focus on whether to be a sole proprietership or an LLC (though they mention it), but the pep-talk kind. You can finish up thinking, “Why yes, I am a dragon and a tiger; I can do that.”

I guess you could also end up thinking, “These guys are whack. I don’t want to be a dragon or a tiger, I just want to know what the heck an LLC is.” This is why both types of business books succeed.

Now I’m reading Life@Work: The Art of Balance. This is also a used book. I probably should have asked the people from whom I acquired these used books whether they worked through them and became successful businesspeople, so they no longer need them, or if perhaps they just gave up.

So maybe I have to build up my courage to make buttonholes, but I have four billable hours today, plus at least four unbillable hours, so I think I’m on track with work. Increasing the proportion of billable hours is the ticket. Giving up thinking of grading papers as “unbillable hours” is probably also necessary.

animals8sm I did other things yesterday besides make minimal progress on #1 son’s shirt. I also played four handbell pieces, very badly. I attempted to weasel out of it for the second service, and in fact was even able to persuade CD to take my place, but Bigsax refused to allow that. I decided I should quit handbells completely, in fact. That’s how bad I am at it.

Sigh.

Then, when Pink Hebe suggested that I could just get an elephant pattern, rather than just wishing for the one in the Last-Minute Knitted Gifts book, I toddled around the web a bit and found this excellent elephant pattern.

animals3smThe book it’s in also contains this excellent Puss in Boots and the fine penguin below, along with a whole bunch of other knitted animals. It’s out of print, but I found it for $9.95.

It is true that I don’t have anyone on my Christmas list who would really want a knitted toy. It is probably also true that I wouldn’t have time to knit toys for people even if they did want them.

And yet I ordered this book, and it was less than Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, so I guess it could be worse.

animals5sm The sad fact is, I have no Christmas gifts at all. I don’t think I have ever left my holiday shopping and/or making this late. I’m going to end up being one of those desperate last-minute shoppers. Or one of those all-night knitters. Slippers rather than toys, perhaps.

I still have to pay quite a lot of #1 son’s tuition. I also have a lot of invoices out still. If people pay me, then I can pay the tuition, and then if there’s anything left, I can buy Christmas gifts.

In the same way that I read these business inspiration books rather than the ones that explain how to do your quarterly estimated tax payments (I have one of those, too), I may take this knitted animals book as inspiration for Christmas gifts rather than actually making penguins to put in people’s stockings. I may just buy Wii Music for the whole family. And make slippers. Or cookies.

Have you done your holiday shopping/ creating/ planning yet?