top view of morning learning ukulele play process in bed

Tools of the Trade

When I first started blogging, the laptop I had was not great. It worked, but it was very slow and the charger was messed up. My boyfriend-at-the-time was kind enough to let me use his desktop computer to work on Freshly Stale, but I would just get high and dilly-dally and never got around to actually writing.

Then, coming to Seattle, I forgot to bring my laptop entirely. Eventually, I got a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard to work on, but it wasn’t the same as having a real computer. Sure, it had a keyboard. But it was a tablet. Websites displayed as mobile sites instead of as desktop sites. Certain features of site-building on WordPress were restricted. It wasn’t great. I didn’t write a whole lot when I first came out to Seattle, even though that adventure gave me so much to write about.

My old roommate had let me use his MacBook whenever I wanted, but I didn’t. It would have been rude to take it to work because, well, it wasn’t my laptop. That’s why I got the tablet; to be able to write and work on Freshly Stale while at my job.

skeleton covered in spider web
Photo by cottonbro on

It seemed like a better option than a laptop at the time because I thought I wanted to save up for a MacBook. An iPad was affordable AND it would let me try out digital art, so I figured it was worth the investment until I had saved enough for a real computer.

Turns out, I don’t really want a MacBook after all, but I’ll tell you about that in another post.

Like writing, I also love playing music. But…I didn’t bring my ukuleles to Seattle, either. What can I say, I left Ohio in a hurry!

It didn’t take long for me to miss playing, so I got myself a cheap little $25 ukulele. Can you guess how that turned out?

Like the tablet, I hardly ever used it.

Invest in Your Tools

After landing a full time job, I got myself a little ChromeBook. It was on sale for Black Friday, and I had just shattered my iPad (though I still don’t quite know how. I think my old roommate stepped on it. At any rate, it ended up being a blessing in disguise!).

For Valentine’s Day, I invested in a tenor ukulele. That instrument actually cost more than the laptop that I’m typing on right now!

And do you know what?

I’ve written (typed) nearly every day since getting my own laptop. I’ve practiced ukulele nearly every day as well.

Using the Right Tools

gold ipad beside stylus
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on

Even though I had a way to type with the iPad, I wasn’t working on Freshly Stale daily. I had access to the internet, and I had a keyboard, so what was the problem?

The problem was that no matter how much I wanted it to work, a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard just isn’t the right tool for blogging.

It’s good for digital art, journaling, playing mobile games, and watching movies, yeah. But running a website?

Sure, it worked. But it wasn’t much better than trying to run the site from my phone, which I’ve also done, and don’t recommend. It’s possible, yeah, but it’s just plain not that pleasant of an experience.

Tools are used for a specific purpose, and for the sake of a specific outcome. It’s so so important to use the proper tools for whatever project you may be working on. The whole reason we have tools is to make things easier and more efficient.

Using the wrong tool does neither of those things, and can even make your task more difficult, too!

Consider Bob Ross

Have you ever seen the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross? If you have, you might have noticed that he uses various tools while painting. A broad, soft bristled brush is perfect for blending and smoothing out textures like lakes and skies.

Does he ever use a brush like that to make mountains, or happy little trees?

No, never!

It just isn’t the right tool for the job.

The results you get are directly and inevitably affected by the tools that you use.

Using the wrong tools is just setting yourself up for struggles, and possibly even failure. Similarly, low quality tools can be a set-up for low quality results.

Think about a low quality paint brush. In my experience, they’re always shedding bristles onto the canvas, which then need to be picked off, which in turn leaves marks showing exactly what had happened.

It’s easier to just start with high quality tools in the first place! Remember, high quality doesn’t always mean high price. There are some really good deals out there (and if looking for apartments in Seattle has taught me anything, it’s that a lot of low-quality things are audaciously overpriced, too)!

Quality Matters

I had a ukulele, so why didn’t I play it every day?

Well, it was a $25 instrument, and trust me when I tell you that it sounded like a $25 instrument. No matter how much I practiced, it just sounded bad.

So naturally, I just stopped playing altogether.

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on

I mean, why would I keep it up if there was nothing I could do to improve the instrument’s tone? I didn’t think it sounded so bad when I tried it out in Guitar Center, but the more that I played it, the more I remembered that neither one of my ukuleles back in Ohio sounded anything like the one in Seattle.

Now, I want to let you know that I have absolutely no idea how much my other ukuleles are worth. My soprano, Harold, was a gift, and my baritone, Barry, was only $6 from Goodwill (remember what I said about some good deals out there?). But based on the sound of them, I know that they’re more than just $25, or $6 instruments.

They had good tone, and I played often. I missed playing so bad, and didn’t think that it would make much of a difference if I bought a cheap ukulele vs an expensive one, so long as I had a uke to strum.

Boy, was I wrong!

Your Passion is Worth Investing In

Having the wrong tools makes any task frustrating. So does using low-quality tools. Your passions are things that you want to spend a lot of time doing, right?

Save up if you have to, and then invest in your passions.

love your life clipboard decor
Photo by Natasha Fernandez on

Using a tablet instead of a laptop sucked, playing a cheap instrument sounded bad, painting with old brushes was frustrating; I never spent time on my hobbies and I was miserable.

I was lucky enough to be able to save up a couple hundred dollars to invest in a computer and a ukulele. Not everyone has that luxury. For me, the amount I spent comes to less than $1.50 a day for an entire year.

Change How You Think About Investments

By setting aside less than a dollar fifty a day for just a year, I was able to afford tools that I now use on a regular basis.

Don’t just look at the lump sum of your investment on tools. Consider your ROI (return on investment) as well. Keep in mind, your ROI isn’t always monetary.

I wasn’t blogging daily before. I wasn’t playing ukulele daily before. But I’m spending at least 7x more time on my hobbies now and all it took was less than $1.50 a day. Have I made any money from either of those hobbies?

hourglass near heap of american dollars
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on


But would I gladly spend $1.36 a day to be able to spend hours working on Freshly Stale, and to play my ukulele?


Please, please believe me when I tell you that having the right tools makes a world of difference.

Saving up can be hard, I know. There’s bills to pay, after all. I’ve found that saving money is a little bit easier when the cost is divided by 365. That way, I can see how much I would have to put aside every day to have enough saved up to reach my goal in a year.

Maybe it’s a long term goal, or maybe it’s a short term goal, in which case I would divide the total cost by a different number. Just break that lump sum down into bite-sized pieces. Saving money is like eating an elephant.

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time!

Thank you so much for reading! Don’t forget to like and subscribe for more Freshly Stale content ☺️

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