Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change


The Adventures – January 2017

Here’s a round-up of what I saw, did, and read this month! Follow my Instagram Stories for in-the-moment photos + videos. You can find years of Adventures here.

The News:

  • My new book, Map Your Business, is now out on Amazon! I've also got several boxes here of the print version and I'm sending out copies to everyone who pre-ordered first, and then I'll have more available. If you want a signed copy, find it here!
  • I'm teaching at a summit for LYS owners with Gwen Bortner in Asheville, NC in April. More info here!
  • I've started a new Friday video series where I talk about the lessons I'm learning while I build my own biz. Find it here!

The View

A photo posted by Tara Swiger (@taraswiger) on

A photo posted by Tara Swiger (@taraswiger) on

A photo posted by Tara Swiger (@taraswiger) on

A photo posted by Tara Swiger (@taraswiger) on

A photo posted by Tara Swiger (@taraswiger) on

A photo posted by Tara Swiger (@taraswiger) on

I am so grateful for…

  • TNNA! Meeting students + hanging out with Starship captains is the best part!
  • The community that has grown around the #ExploreYourEnthusiasm hashtag. I love seeing what you're working on while you watch or listen to the podcast!
  • A series of complex adventures (print book, travel, teaching, webinars, online classes) all going very right, in a very short period of time.

The Finds:

I’m reading:

I'm listening to: 

I'm eating: 

I'm loving:

What did you read, listen to and eat last month? Come tell me on Facebook!

What I’m Reading: October 2016

A list of alllll the books I read this month (there were a lot!) and what I plan to read next. Read more at TaraSwiger.com.

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I read

  • How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, by Scott Adams – I took copious notes on this book! In it, the Dilbert cartoonist explains how he reached crazy goals (spoiler alert: systems!). So you know I loved it and recommend it.
  • The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, by Sherri Lynn Wood – Oh man. I love this book. It gave me so many quilty ideas! It's exactly the kind of craft book I love – lots of ideas + inspiration + “how to think” stuff, without step by step instructions (which I never follow anyhow).
  • Leaving the Saints, by Martha Beck – Oof. I thought I was reading a (well-written) book about the author leaving the Latter Day Saints. And then it turns into so much more. It gutted me and I'll be thinking about it for a long time.
  • The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, by Susan Wise Bauer – Yes, the author is a bit sniffy about those of us who haven't had a “classical education” but I always say what I learned in college wasn't so much conjugating French verbs but HOW to learn anything, and how to think critically. This book gives you the tools to apply that critical thinking to both fiction and non-fiction. It also provides a list of books in literature, history and philosophy to round out your classical education. Since it's a library book, I didn't read the blurbs for all the suggested books, but I did take notes on critical method and the books I haven't yet read. (I started a new note keeping system during reading, would you like to see it? Lemme know on Facebook!)
  • Year of Reading Dangerously, by Andy Miller – The above book led me to the “reading” section of my library (meta!) where I found this. Funny, interesting, and definitely got me re-excited about my Great Books project. (My list is here.)
  • Self-Compassion, by Kristin Neff – This book is summed in her TED Talk. If you enjoy the talk, read the book. (It's just $7.99 on the Kindle right now!)
  • Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle-Melton – Like I said last month, I found Glennon's blog, read a ton of her archives and immediately checked her first book out from the library. And then her next book came out and I snatched it up… and then it was named Oprah's next Book Club pick. I hope that won't turn you off from this, a totally gripping memoir about a woman's understanding of herself, as a woman, in this world that objectifies and sexualizes us.
  • All the Things We Never Knew, by Sheila Hamilton – Another memoir! This one by a woman who slowly uncovers her husband's mental health diagnosis and struggles to keep him safe and alive, even after it's totally destroyed their relationship.

What I’m reading

I need some more recommendations! Tell me on Twitter or Facebook!

Yeah, so I read a LOT this month. I didn't even share them all here (I skipped the ones I didn't love, or wouldn't recommend.)  Here's to another great month of reading!

What I read last October.

And in October 2014.

What are you reading?

The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the news  on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The view

Beau knows what comes after a workout: PEANUT BUTTER shake.   #priorities
We stand in amazement at Troy's pizza skillz. #lilbros #notsolittle
Knitting socks with Teddy (& @mistydot). We're working on something great. Announcement soon!
Sooo excited to announce my newest, just-for-fun project: a crafty video podcast with @mistydot! We're talking knitting, dyeing, spinning, quilting and taking you with us to yarn shops & fiber festivals!  1 episode up with a new episode coming tomorrow &
Buying interfacing for @craftypod's T-shirt quilting class on @creativelive (tomorrow!) but Hancock's doesn't  make it easy.

I am so grateful for…

  • New projects
  • Big ideas
  • Making messy art
  • Letting go


The Finds:

I’m doing:

I'm quilting along with Diane yesterday and today – turning my old t-shirts into something snuggly! It's free to watch live, so join us here!

I’m eating: 

  • Pad Thai
  • Homemade pizzas! (Because someone always asks: Daiya mozzarella melts pretty well, but I'd rather skip the fake cheese and add LOTS of pesto)
  • Samosa Pot Pie from Bake + Destroy

In case you missed it: 

What adventures have you had?

My big crazy goal…results

I've got a lot of help hand-quilting.
This year I set a huge crazy goal: I would make 6 quilts in the remaining 9 months of 2013. That might not be a lot for some people, but considering I had only made a total of 3 quilts in my whole life, it was just big enough to be inspiring.

Today I've written about the power and magic of setting big crafty goals, over at Sew Mama Sew. You can read it here.

Since I think it's a safe bet that I'm not going to finish another quilt in the last few days of the year, I wanted to update you on my goal (and show you my newest quilt, which has been an internet-secret.)

This year, I finished:

  • Emerald Isle (pictures and full story here).
  • Red Kaffe (more below).
  • Candy Christmas (more below).

I started

  • A baby quilt.
  • Crystal Coast, another collaborative quilt with my mom.

No, I didn't reach my crazy goal of 6 finished quilts. But I DID finish (and start) more quilts than I have in any other year. And I know how 2 handmade quilts in my house and gave my mom another fabulous gift. I've also had more quilt ideas than I do what to do with. (Next up: something like this and this.)

Red Kaffe

This quilt started as a fabric bundle my mom bought. Last December she passed it on to me, because she just wasn't into the colors anymore. I got obsessed with following #scrappytripalong quilts on Instagram. Even though this fabric bundle was nothing like you'd usually use in a quilt like that, I decided cutting up all those big prints would make an interesting, fractured quilt. (You can read more about the details here.)
Bound and washed and perfect. Beau approves.

I finished it around the beginning of August, but it still hasn't had an official photo shoot.
Inappropriately obsessed with my adorable hand stitches.
Final verdict: SUPER HAPPY.

Candy Christmas.

After writing this post on holiday gift-crafting, I had an epiphany: My mom really appreciates a handmade gift. She cried when she opened last year's quilt. So if I'm going to craft for anyone (I hadn't planned to), it's gotta be a quilt for her.

I had this epiphany late in the afternoon on November 14th.

I went right to Fabric.com and started to click around for fabric ideas, then found Stitched in Color's Penny Patch QAL and knew it was the perfect pattern. I hit the fabric shop on November 15th and bought everything I'd need + found a few pieces that would work, left over from quilts mom + I have made together:
After looking through my scraps, I have everything I need! #quiltsbyChristmas

I starting cutting on November 19th…
Onto the neutrals! #quiltsbychristmas

And kept working…
Today's to do list.

All squares finished, back to the design wall. See any weird spots? #pennypatchqal

I pieced the top in two nights, the week of Thanksgiving.
Off the wall and ready to sew. Tomorrow. #pennypatchqal

I sandwhiched it late Wendesday night, so that I could be handquilting during the Thanksgiving drive.
Sandwiching the quilt top. #pennypatchqal

And then I spent every spare second, for 3 weeks, handquilting with cream thread, inside the big squares.
My weekend plans. I must finish hand quilting this weekend so I can sew on binding this week.

On December 18th I trimmed it…
Trimming before binding! #pennypatchqal #yay
and machine stitched the binding to the front:
Sewing on binding while watching Charlie Brown. Perfect.

and handstitched the binding to the back:
Hand stitching the very last bit of binding...in the car on the way to the gift recipient. #stitchfaster

I finished it in the car on the way to Mom's house on December 20th and wrapped it on the trunk of my car, in a parking lot.
Finished! Wrapped it on my trunk, in a parking lot.

And I gave it to Mom the morning of December 21st!
The finished quilt reveal. #yay #pennypatchqal

Moms new Christmas quilt, on top of last year's Christmas quilt. #nofilter #pennypatchqal

Final Verdict: TRUE LOVE.

How about you?

What goals did you set in 2013? Which do you reach?

We're reviewing our year inside the Starship this week, and finding our own North Stars to guide in 2014. Boarding closes next week, so beam up before then!




The power of choosing (and quilts)

This week, as we've been map making in the Starship, I've been thinking about my own goals, and my investment into the belief that This Is What Works.


Even though I'm always exhorting you find what works for you. Even though I'm always reminding you that what works for someone might not work for you…there a few things that I stand by as Good For Just About Everyone. Map-Making is one of them. Not because you need to grow. Not because you need to do more.

But simply because, this is what's bumming you out.

When you feel like you're not going anywhere, when you feel like you “never finish anything” (a phrase I hear a lot!), the problem usually can be boiled down to one thing: you don't have a direction. All of your dreams and hopes and ideas live in the puffy land of One Day. And so you beat yourself up, you feel bad, you don't think you know/act/ARE enough.

And, darling, that's just not true.


You are enough. Brave enough to follow your dream. Strong enough to do the hard work. Smart enough to make the big decisions.


The reason you're stuck is because you don't know which way to turn. So, by making a map, you pick a direction. You just pick one. ANY direction is fine as long as you start making movement towards it. The Map doesn't care what your destination is. The power is in CHOOSING. Choosing to focus yourself. Choosing a path. Choosing to figure out what will get you there. Choosing to take action. Choosing to honor your dream by making it do-able.


Once you get in the habit if taking consistent action toward your hopes, you might not need a map, you might be able to wake up each day and just do what you need to do, without creating some big plan.

Then again, you might be the kind of person (like me!) who likes to have milestones to reach, who likes to set crazy challenges to test what you're capable of.

And that brings us to what I really planned to write about today – my crazy quilt goal. Last March I decided to try to finish 6 quilts in 2013. I joined the Finish-a-long to keep me on track. Last quarter I hoped to finish two..but I only completed one. This quarter I want to finish the two I've started and get as far as possible on a brand new quilt.

Here's the two I've got so far:

Red trip

(You can read more details here)

I am so close to being done! I just have 8-10 short hand-quilting rows left! I'll share all the details when it's done!


Blooms & Dots

This is another collaboration with my mom. We each picked 9 fabrics, cut them in strips, and are piecing all 18 fabrics into our own tops. I'm still not 100% sure on my layout, but I have a 40″x40″ panel done so far.



What are you choosing this week?

What's the goal you're working towards right now?




The Adventures

Every week is an Adventure..and these are the view, the finds and the path that made this one special. You can see all my adventures here.

The View

Yay! Jay hung a shelf & now my shawls can be admired! (Not sure what will go on the shelf, this was just silliness)

A new place for shawls!

Yay! Just found my long-lost favorite bobby pin!

My long-lost favorite bobby pin

Three things to remember (this year), from Mary Oliver.

A Mary Oliver poem read New Year's morning

The Finds

  • The BIG FIND of the week was a Scrappy Trip  quilt-along. The best way to view it is the Flickr group, or the Instagram tag #scrappyquiltalong. The pattern is here…and I will be starting it this weekend.
  • If you wanna join me, this is a great guide to how many strips (and thus, fabric) you'll need.
  • And in between this weekend's quilt obsession, I jumped all over the Seafoam edition of Project Life. Can't wait!
  • If you've been wondering how to eat more veggies, whole grains and less meat or cheese, this series is a very good place to start. (You don't have to be fully vegan to want to eat more vegetable-centric meals!)

The Path

  • It was completely delightful to get to meet Maritel. If you missed it, you can catch up on our conversation here.
  • I opened up the Map-Making Guide this morning (yes, I use it to make my quarterly plans!) and was overwhelmed with the desire to update it ALL. So I did! New fonts, new facts (gathered from over a year of helping explorers make their own maps!), and a few edits for great clarity.
  • Finally! I jumped into a “public” Facebook page. Hang out with me here?



How was your week? What was your view, path or finds?


The Holiday Adventures

Every week is an Adventure..and this is round-up of the view, the links and the inspiration that made it special. You can see all the adventures here.

The View

Beau's new fave spot- the back of the couch, over my shoulder.

Four strips down, 7 to go! #quiltsbychristmas

And now... I have days of this ahead of me. #handquilting #quiltsbychristmas

Still life from a handquilting afternoon.

The finds


  • The Internet blew up over Instagram's new Terms of Service. Here's the scary way of looking at it…and here's the less-scary way of interpreting it (short version: YouTube + Twitter have nearly identical language). I'll be on Instagram for the near future, but I'm also on Flickr if you've moved there (with their new app, I'll be more involved in commenting, fo sho.)



  • This video is my favorite thing of the week, for thinking about how I want to work in the New Year.



And with that, I'm offline (except for welcoming new Starship Captains aboard) until the new year.

Speaking of, the Starship closes January 3rd. If you're curious, sign up here to learn more about who the Starship is for, and to get to know a few of the members. And if you're hoping to get my book or any support for your biz for a holiday gift? Here's a template for asking.

The Adventures

Every week is an adventure…and this week was hot air balloons, quiet words, and stacks of books.  Past adventures can be explored here

The View

Epic game of Risk. #fallbreak
And then: the waterfalls.
And now, hiking the Appalachian. #fallbreak
Simpson's Clue. #fallbreak
Andre finds books snugglable

The Delights

  • I've been totally surprised by my very quite introduction of this. Just one tiny tweet (to a half-written page…it's still not finished!) and the response has been…delightful. If you're into it, jump on it.
  • Fitocracy. I'm not sure I can say anything more about this, but suddenly everything that seemed so un-Tara feels do-able + interesting. I blame it all on Lolly.
  • I could not be more excited about (and obsessed with getting everything just right for) the upcoming Holiday Sanity Kit (coming next week! Sign up here to make sure you don't miss it – there'll be a limited number) It's my first ever real-mail business-y goodness, and I'm having so much fun with it.
  • Quilting. Still. Spoonflower is having a Buy 1, Get 1 sale, so I'm finally going to order my first self-designed fabric!
  • I love hearing that I'm not the only one who procrastinates in order to savor an exciting project!
  • Too busy this holiday season with ORDERS to spend time marketing? Here's how to make it last, on Rena Tom for makers, and one for retailers on Vianza.


What was your week like? What were your adventures?

Two years ago (exactly!): Planning for non-planners
Three years ago: My photos – in a book!
Four years ago: Slowing

The Adventures

Every week is an adventure…and this is where I collect the week's photos, finds and lessons.  Past adventures can be explored here

 The view

Mutual snorgling

Beau + Andre do this ALL the time (we call it snorgling), but this is the first time I was able to capture it. 

Fall colors! 

Love the new fabric shop in town

Late night quilting.

Started a quilt

Had a party for a little bro

This @hrosstweets book is soo inspiring, I'm doodling fabric designs.

Love, LOVE this book

Hail! Everything (including yarn that was drying) is covered in it.


The Lessons

The new Heather Ross book has me dreaming of fabric design. I've devoured all the posts mentioned here, added about 100 new books to my to-read list….and started my first design last night. The lesson? It's harder than it looks, but there's nothing like a new passion to fuel my creativity!

As I'm embracing new crafts (quilting and fabric design) I'm also deep into writing a new Holiday Sanity Playbook…and the combination of making and business-thinking has me pondering how the two affect each other. How do your creative skills inform your business decisions? What skills can cross over? Do you apply your lessons-learned-while-crafting to your business adventures? Or do you keep them entirely separate? So many of my readers + students are whip-smart + confident when it comes to their craft (whether it's actual crafting, or writing, or painting)…but they're tentative about business decisions.  How can I help you translate the confidence in one area to the other?

The finds

A year ago: Podcast: Multiple Streams of Income
Two years ago: Coffeshop Clarity 

Feel Good: Quilting

As part of my feel-good experiment, I'm saying yes to the stuff that feels good. One of the biggest challenges (for me) to doing what feels good is LOGIC. I can logic-away all kinds of fun stuff, insisting that I don't have time, I don't have energy, I really should spend my time on finishing those other projects instead of starting a new one. But this month's experiment is saying YES to something I know will feel good, so instead of saying NO to my newest crazy idea, I fully embraced it.

This week's crazy idea was Elise's Quilts by Christmas challenge. After a recent weekend spent quilting with my mom, I wanted to do it again. I was visiting this weekend and my mom has a great quilting set up: a big table to cut on, two sewing machines, plenty of ideas, so this was the perfect storm of inspiration and opportunity. Before I left I sent mom a link and my new quilt was born.

Love LOVE new fabric store. Unfortunately, didn't have black I needed. #quiltsbychristmas

We spent the weekend buying all the supplies, experimenting with the best way to cut triangles (we settled on this one), cutting, sewing, and ironing.
Part of my feel-good experiment: giving in to #quiltsbychristmas Details on the blog.
It felt great to dive into a new project: the endless Pinterest-searching, the fabric-buying, the cutting, sewing, chatting, charting. And you know? None of the logical reasons I had to not start matter at all. I feel refreshed and inspired for my other projects, and knowing that one of my Christmas gifts is halfway done feels fabulous.

What feel-good activity have you been logic-ing away?

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