Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

The FIRE Quilt.

It’s funny how the things you see every day, without really noticing them anymore, can suddenly hit you in a different way.(

This quilt lives on my bed during summer. I made it at least ten years ago, back in the days before my side-hustle of selling thermomixes stopped me quilting. 

Being slightly frugal by nature, I liked the idea of using scraps that most people would throw away to make a useable-sized quilt, so as I made other quilts, I’d save the tiny scraps. Every now and then I’d have an afternoon where I’d sew these scraps together into squares. Each square is 5″. (I know it’s weird to talk in inches, but that’s what quilting deals with, probably because so many Americans do it, those wild and crazy people!)

Some of these scraps are only 1/4” wide. I liked the idea of randomly coming across a sliver of material and making it part of the larger whole. Most strips are wider, but few are wider than 1”. I wanted to use the scrips and scraps and create a riot of colour. 

This quilt was definitely a long-term project. It took me 9 months to complete. Yes, it was the baby I made when I didn’t want to make a fifth actual baby!!

I didn’t buy any extra fabric for this one; I just used what I had. This means that there are recurring fabrics throughout, but no square is the same as any other.

The funny thing is that you could point to any strip in this quilt and I’d be able to tell you where it came from. The doll quilts I made and sold on Etsy to try and earn some money when I was stuck at home with the kids. The quilts I made for the boys with a sewing machine I borrowed from Blogless Sandy, because I couldn’t afford to buy one for myself. The quilts I made for friends and for my family. The quilts I made for David25’s friends who supported him when he was a teenager and dealing with debilitating depression. They’re all there and I remember them.

It occurred to me this morning that our collective hike towards FI/RE is put together a little like this scrappy quilt. 

We begin with the big picture in mind. A life free of any commitments that we don’t want to do. A life where we can build our days as we please. 

But there are So Many Days between when we find out about FI and when we reach it. 

On its own, each day seems insignificant. Just a scrap of time, neither here nor there. We move through our days, sometimes almost sleepwalking through them as the day-to-day routines swamp us. We realise this is happening only when the end of the month comes as a shock – “Where did February go?!?” – or “OMG!! Christmas is nearly here! How did that happen?”

And yet, every day is a strip of time that’s building a bigger whole.

I have to admit, I get impatient when I think about retirement. I like my job but it seems that my days of freedom are so far away. My job and the commute become irritants which are standing in my way of living how I want to live. A little bit of this thinking is good, because it keeps you moving towards your goal. Too much of it, though, isn’t good. It sucks the fun out of life.

I think that the whole concept of FIRE appeals to long-term thinkers. We’re really good at focussing on the far-away goal and moving towards it. This is a terrific trait, but we run the risk of letting it ruin the very thing we’re striving for – improving our quality of life.

Certain sacrifices need to be made in order to reach the over-riding, lofty goal. But just like the quilt, the goal won’t be reached without every strip of time being included in it. What a waste if all we do is focus on the future!

No one on Earth has a quilt that is the same as this one. 

Do I need to make the obvious comment about our lives?

Make each strip count. Do something every day – no matter how small – to bring a smile to your face. We all have a ‘FIRE Quilt’ – it’s just that mine is lying on my bed and yours is your life. On the way to bringing your ‘quilt’ together, take the time to let those colours sing.

****** For those who’d like an update on how Scout is doing after her brush with death, I wrote about her on my other blog.

Here she is, looking sleepy, but alive.


  1. Cath

    This is a wonderful post and such a lovely metaphor. I have a big glass jar filled with bits and pieces from old knitting projects and I love the idea of doing something with them all one day!

    • FrogdancerJones

      You should! You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your project will be totally and utterly unique.

  2. Michelle @

    Lovely analogy! A great project to have worked on. Like a quilt, the pursuit of FIRE also has a lot of emotion weaved into it and unique, memorable threads on the journey. Thanks for sharing.

    • FrogdancerJones

      What a lovely comment.
      Thanks so much.

  3. Liz

    This is absolutely beautiful!

    • FrogdancerJones

      Not sure if you mean the quilt, the dog or the post!
      I’ll just say thanks very much.

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