Last year at this time I was working on my office, transforming it from a cast-off desk in the corner of #2 son’s bedroom to a practical and pleasant workspace. Apparently this is the time of year for home improvement, because I am currently working on a couple more spaces.

First, the patio. At left you can see the reading spot on my porch. #1 daughter and I shopped for plants and made ourselves nice little gardens last month, and the porch reading spot is very nice indeed, particularly now that the hydrangeas are blooming lushly.

However, I also wanted the back yard patio to contain a nice reading spot, so I bought a couple of steamer chairs at a very nice price and added them to the patio. This prevented me from kitting the place out with a table and chairs and fire pit, so I have chosen to look on this as an economy measure.

These chairs are very nice, with a romantic aura and the perfect stretch-out-and-read shape, but they are definitely in need of cushions, and the cushions from the lawn chairs absolutely don’t do the trick. You stretch out on them and begin to enjoy your book, and pretty soon you find that your head is wedged between the slats and your legs are getting striped. I will therefore be making or buying some new cushions for them. I may at some point also spring for a little table, just big enough for a stack of books and a glass of iced tea. Otherwise, I think that’s all I needed for a perfect back yard reading spot.

The other area I’m working on is the spare room. It has been the bedroom of both #1 son and #1 daughter in the past couple of years, but I feel fairly confident now that it will only be called into service as a guest room, so I plan to make it a guest room/sewing room.

#1 daughter has offered to come and spend a day with me decorating the room. She’s quite good at that. My office currently has a daybed in it, which means that people who come for meetings often have to lounge on the bed, which is weird. We’re going to put the bed into the spare room so I have more floor space in the office, add a bookshelf or two in there, and get the spare room nicely organized and functional for sewing and crafts, as well as making it yet another nice reading spot. You simply can’t have too many of those.

Accordingly, I bought a couple of those Closet Maid cube shelving units. I don’t have much skill with this sort of thing, so it took me hours to put the blamed things together, and then I had further time with the label maker to identify the proper use of the cubbies, but over the course of yesterday afternoon I got one corner into shape.

I was also cooking and baking. I made puff pastry from scratch, plus a dinner of chicken fricassee with roasted grapes, green beans, and potatoes with Gruyere cheese. The cheese was also featured in my pastry lesson, along with anchovy paste, in little pastries which were supposed to be allumettes, matchsticks. In fact, they spread out into ovals, but they tasted marvelous.

#1 son came over for dinner and he and my husband watched a game while I cooked. We talked a bit about the things he is supposed to be writing for me, and he spouted a lot of stuff about his feelings on writing. I think I need to hire a writer who doesn’t have a lot of feelings on writing, because they seem to get in the way of producing stuff, which is what our company does. It’s a shame, because he’s a very good writer, but he just may not be as prolific a writer as I need.

In any case, I was able, in and around those things, to put together the shelves. They are a very dark brown, almost black, called “espresso.” I got a fairly large one for fabrics and a small one for patterns, which I set on top of the large one. I put a couple of cardboard magazine holders next to the small shelf, to hold larger pattern envelopes and issues of Burda magazine.

 This seems like a practical way to store patterns and fabrics. I sorted the patterns by type and the fabrics by color, so it should help with planning as well as making it easy to find stuff when I need it. 

It also makes it pretty clear that I have so much fabric and so many patterns that I don’t need to buy any more, possibly ever.

There was a time when I didn’t have a stash. I used to buy what I needed for a project, complete the project, and be finished.

I’m not sure what happened to that. It may be my discovery of the SWAP that caused me to have a stash. A SWAP, which stands for Sewing With A Plan, is a planned wardrobe. You choose a neutral color and a fashion color, find a print containing those colors and buy yards and yards of print and solid fabrics, enough to sew up 11 coordinated items.

You then sew up those items, and have a marvelously versatile wardrobe. This makes a lot more sense than sewing and knitting things at random because they appeal to you, and then having nothing to wear them with, so that you do not in fact wear them.

However, if you buy the fabric for a SWAP and then fail to complete the sewing, you’re left with all those yards of fabric.

So I have here many yards of fabrics in gray and burgundy, and in dark brown and teal, my uncompleted SWAP color schemes. I was thinking of beginning (and who knows, possibly even completing) a pink and gray SWAP for fall. However, I could just sew anything at all from my stash, confident that all the colors will go together.

The problem, of course, is time. However, I’m doing pretty well on the whole balanced life goal recently. We hired some people, which helps with the time, and I’m also being more disciplined about working during work hours and not working during non-work hours. As a business owner, I can’t expect to work a flat forty hours a week, but I can keep it to 50 or so, and make sure that I spend my non-work time doing things I like, not in an exhausted stupor.

I’ve managed to get sewing, reading, baking, knitting, music, and friend and family time back into my life. I get regular exercise and do a little bit of traveling. I still want to bring more activity into my life, though. I may get back to gym class, and I would like to do more hiking and camping again. I’m definitely making progress.

There will be some work taking place today, however, because one of our new workers wants to come over and get some help with his assignments. I probably should have scheduled him for Monday instead of taking weekend time. However, investing some time in the workers means I get more help and can move closer to that 40 hour work weel, so it’s worth doing.

I also plan to go to church, but beyond that, I hope to spend much of the day in reading and needlework.

#1 son says that I need a routine that includes early morning hikes. I like this idea. I don’t know what exactly I need to do to move it from being an idea to being a reality… Probably I should schedule a hike each Saturday, get up early, and drive off for my hike before I get involved in other projects or lured into working. If I plan when and where to do the hike during the week, and lay out my clothes and water bottle and whatever the night before, I ought to be able to manage it.

Then I could spend the afternoons lolling about reading and knitting with a sense of satisfaction.