2010 resolutions update

imageAs we’re nearing the end of 2010, a lot of people are thinking about their new year’s resolutions for 2011. I very rarely participate in the new year’s resolution craze—this coming year I’m not going to have a new year’s goal considering I have a list of 27 things to do before I turn 27 next November that I haven’t yet put much of a dent in. But over this past year, on top of my weekly goal list, I made a lengthy resolutions list, and I thought I should update on how I did this year in making these things happen.

1) I will write more.

I feel like I accomplished this. I didn’t put any specific measurements to it, but I’ve been journaling consistently once a week this year, sometimes twice, with an occasional miss. I’ve also blogged some, so I’d call this a success. The next step is to get back to creative writing, my real desire, something I haven’t done in a long time and feel drawn to do.

2) I will read more.

This one is also a success. I did manage to squeeze in 12 books this year, one being the NCV Bible which I completed reading in November (it took me two and a half years to read the whole thing!). I re-read all the Harry Potter books in preparation for the movie last month, and I also established one night a week as reading night, which I’ve been able to stick to on most weeks.

3) I will honor the Sabbath.

Like I said in my original new year’s resolution post at this time last year, for me, this is Sunday. That may change—I’ve started reading the Bible over again and this time I’m studying it, not just reading, but for now, I’m trying to get into the habit of taking a day of rest. Obviously there were quite a few weekends when I didn’t succeed at this, especially because it’s a habit that I have to form, but I’d say more weekends than not I did take Sunday to rest, so I’d call this one a win, too.

4) I will find a home church.

I was most worried about this one, but I did it! Fortunately for me I mentioned my church hunting woes at work one day and a lot of co-workers had some great suggestions, and I found a church as a result of that conversation. I really love it—I love the music, the atmosphere, and the teaching. It’s been really great.

5) I will take better care of my body.

This goal has definitely been my biggest challenge this year. I still haven’t successfully found a workout routine, but I haven’t given up. I have, however, made a lot of good choices when it comes to the food that I eat, so at least I’ve made some progress there! Hopefully into 2011 I can really tackle this.

6) I will be more loving.

This goal happens to be the least quantifiable, but I think I met my own expectations of what I wanted to do. My goal was to train myself to think more about others and less about myself—I’ve made a lot of progress in this and it’s something that I’ll continue to work on as life goes on. There’s always room for improvement here, especially because people are generally selfish by nature, including myself.

All in all I’m really happy with my progress over the last year, and I’m determined to carry the good habits and thoughts into 2011.

Happy new year! :)

27 before 27: #27 add to Disney movie collection

I hadn’t planned on completing this goal so soon (#27 on my 27 before 27 list: add another classic to our Disney movie collection), but my mom and dad are apparently looking out for me, because they bought us Beauty and the Beast for Christmas! :)

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I definitely plan on adding many more to our collection, but this is a start and enough to cross off another goal!

27 before 27: #16 attend a rock concert

On December 12th, I completed #16 on my 27 before 27 list: attend a rock concert. On a whim, JB and I decided to go see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra! :) We went to see them two Christmases ago, but we enjoyed the show all the same! And if you don’t think TSO counts as rock…then you have never heard their really good stuff. ;) Here are some pictures chronicling the evening—enjoy!

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27 before 27: #1 make a dessert from scratch

Cookies and I have a love-hate relationship…I love them, but they hate me. Okay, the cookies probably don’t hate me, but I am notoriously terrible at making cookies unless I buy that pre-made cookie dough that’s already cut into perfect little disks. Hence why I chose sugar cookies for #1 on my 27 before 27 list: make a dessert from scratch.

Step 1 – make a mess of the kitchen

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Step 2 – mix, roll, and cut

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Step 3 – make an overdone batch

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Step 4 – make an underdone batch

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Step 5 – make a batch that’s juuuust right!

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Mission #1 complete (12/07/2010). :)

27 before 27

For the past two years, I have created a weekly goal planner for the new year—I started with a yearly calendar in Excel and thought of a goal for every week of the year. After two years of doing this, I feel really satisfied with the things I’ve accomplished by this exercise, but as I approach the end of year 2, I feel like it’s time for something different—something a little more fun and a little more flexible.

Enter the “27 before 27” list. I had this idea a while ago and I’ve been working on this list for a couple months now. I’ve been eager to start but I thought it was too early. Now that I’m about 1 week from my 26th birthday, I feel like I can get started. :)

Some of these things are looming tasks that I never get around to; some are simply fun little things to remind myself to relax once in a while. In any case, here is my 27 before 27 list:

1)                make a dessert from scratch

2)                visit a new hockey rink

3)                take a class

4)                start a garden

5)                visit the farmer’s market

6)                travel to a new state

7)                sew something

8)                read a classic novel

9)                send an unsolicited gift

10)          meet a neighbor

11)          paint the hallway

12)          donate blood

13)          preserve wedding dress

14)          finish organizing/printing photos

15)          update résumé

16)          attend a rock concert

17)          buy some red high heels

18)          go camping

19)          walk or run for a purpose

20)          go to a museum

21)          go canoeing

22)          have a 100% “me” day

23)          buy a bicycle

24)          celebrate 4-year graduationversary

25)          color an entire coloring book

26)          read a non-fiction book

27)          add to Disney movie collection

What do you think?

Saturday SOS—blender cleanup

image Smoothies and milkshakes are the best in the summer…cool, refreshing, and depending on how you make them, they can even be healthy. They’re way cheaper made at home than purchased at a restaurant, and they’re fun to make. But blenders…blenders are not fun to clean.

Taking all the little pieces apart and trying not to impale yourself as you wash them is a pain and takes a long time, so I wanted to share with you how we clean our blender at home. It’s so easy!

Once you’ve made your delicious cold beverage of choice, empty the blender of its contents right away into glasses. Now, before you enjoy said drink, fill the blender with warm water and add a bit of dish soap (fill it to the same height as the previous contents). Now, put the pitcher back on the stand, put the top on, and blend away. The soapy water will get into all the same nooks and crannies as the drink you just made. It’s important to do this right away so nothing gets dry and sticky.

Now just rinse and set on a towel or in the dish rack to dry! Easy! :)

Do you have any cleanup tips for the kitchen?

Saturday SOS—organizing your to-do list

To-do list book. So there’s a daunting list of tasks on your list and you have no idea where to begin. Sometimes you just pick a task at random and go. Sometimes you don’t start on your to-do list at all just because it looks so scary. Well, the first thing on your to-do list should be “organize my to-do list.”

If you want to get through that list, you need to put things in order. It’s possible to waste lots of time figuring out what to do next, and it’s also possible to over think it so much that you just give up. You can avoid both of those problems by sorting your list before you begin. I organize my to-do list using the following 4 categories:

 

1) Quick. Any task that will take me less than 5 minutes comes up to the top of the list. At home, that can be something as simple as “feed the cats” or “add orange juice to the shopping list.” At work, usually it’s sending a follow up email, or searching for a blue pen in the filing cabinet. It’s important to do the tasks that take the least time first for two reasons. Firstly, it boosts your energy. If you can cross off multiple things in the span of 10 minutes, you’ll feel totally productive and energized to do more. Secondly, if someone is waiting on you for a quick answer, you will boost their productivity by getting the answer to them as quickly as possible.

2) Urgent. Anything that must be done by a certain time or by the end of the day should be next on your list. At home, this might include paying the electric bill or making an important phone call. At work, it could be finalizing a presentation or finishing a spreadsheet. Either way, get those things that are very urgent out of the way next. You’ll feel a lot of relief when those tasks are over!

3) Important. Next, tackle the things that are important but might not have a strict deadline. This could be clipping coupons for shopping on the weekend, or setting up a meeting that isn’t until next week. These are things that need to be done but aren’t as time-sensitive as the tasks mentioned above.

4) Can wait. These are the tasks that are just kind of floating—we know we need to do them at some point but they really can wait. At home this could be hemming a pair of pants you don’t wear very often. At work it could be reorganizing your filing cabinet.

 

So much to do in the back To-do lists come in all shapes and sizes. There’s really no one way to make a to-do list—just find what works best for you, whether that’s on a piece of notebook paper, on your iPhone, in a planner, or on a bunch of post-its. I keep my work to-do list in an old-school paper planner. I keep my “at home” to-do list on TeuxDeux.com.

Depending on what you use to record your to-do list, you’ll have to figure out how to organize it. For instance, when prioritizing my work to-do list, since it’s on paper, I use highlighters. (Pink for “quick,” orange for “urgent,” yellow for “important,” and green for “can wait.”) On TeuxDeux.com, I just drag and drop the tasks into the appropriate order based on the 4 categories above. Do whatever you find increases your productivity the most.

How do you organize your to-do list?

images via Flickr (To-do list book. by koalazymonkey) (So much to do in the back by boboroshi)

recipe share: black bean & mango tostadas

black bean & mango tostadas

Check out this amazing recipe I discovered in a recent issue of AllYou magazine—black bean and mango tostadas. Inexpensive, fast, healthy, and delicious…what more could you want in a meal? When JB and I make it, sometimes we substitute pineapple for the mango, and last time we doubled the black beans and turned it into four burritos (lunch leftovers!). Whatever works for you! But trust me, you want to try this. It’s awesome.

via myrecipes

inspire me Monday: living

get busy living

via Dweebist 

In the midst of the busy life, the new house, preparing for an anniversary trip, much insanity at work, and new health problems arising in my little family, it’s easy to get busy doing things and forget to just “live.” This might sound abstract, but it really inspired me this morning. Hope it inspires you, too.

Saturday SOS—laundry tips

Other people's laundry We all have those chores that we loathe, that we put off until the last minute because we just hate to do them. For many people, laundry is one of those chores. Fortunately, I don’t mind it so much (don’t worry—I make up for it by hating to wash dishes). Here are a few tips from my own experiences that might help ease your laundering pain.

1) Wash all different colors together. I sort by type (towels with towels, jeans with jeans, bedding with bedding, etc.) rather than by color. Do keep in mind that this won’t work if you’re washing a brand new pair of jeans (they should probably be washed separately a few times) or anything else that might dye other clothing. But in all my years of doing laundry, I’ve always washed everything together (at least since the days of college and having to be very thrifty with my quarters) and have never ever had a color bleeding debacle.

2) Use cold water for everything. I know your mom told you that warm or hot water gets your clothes cleaner, but she was mistaken. Unless you have some serious stains to tackle, just use the cold/cold setting. You’ll save money by not using the extra electricity to heat the water, and you won’t have to worry about running the shower or the dishwasher while the laundry is on.

3) If you use liquid detergent, measure it out into your handy measuring cap and then throw the cap into the washing machine. This way you’re sure to get all the measured detergent into the wash, and you won’t have a sticky cap to deal with afterward. And even if you accidentally throw the cap into the dryer when you transfer the clothes, it should come out unscathed.

4) Don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets on towels. I know we all hate the static, but we also hate those towels that are all smooth and don’t absorb liquid! Especially when you buy a new set of towels and they don’t seem to dry well, wash them the first few times without any fabric softener…the same substance that takes away the static also coats the towels in a film that makes it difficult for them to absorb.

5) Easily de-wrinkle a load of dry clothes with a damp washcloth. If you’re like me, every once in a while you’ll forget you have dry clothes in the dryer and you’ll leave them there overnight. The result is a load of extremely wrinkled clothes when you finally remember them. Well, who has time to iron an entire load of clothing? (Not me!) Dampen a clean washcloth, throw it into the dryer with your clean clothes, and set it on a short cycle (10-20 minutes). The washcloth kind of steams your clothing and they come out de-wrinkled!

I hope these tips help you in your future laundry endeavors. Do you have any laundry tips to share?

weekly geekery: punctuation Etsy roundup

If my love for all things English and grammar wasn’t already apparent…here’s an Etsy roundup of all things punctuation!

Little Sterling Silver Question Mark Studs

Little Sterling Silver Question Mark Studs, $15.00 at CatherineMarissa’s Etsy shop

Quotation Mark Earrings

Quotation Mark Earrings, $7.50 at nerdgoddess’ Etsy shop

Question Mark Vintage Typewriter Key Necklace

Question Mark Vintage Typewriter Key Necklace, $15.00 at KeysAndMemories’ Etsy shop

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Ampersand, $21.50 at silverlining11’s Etsy shop

via Etsy

craft share: paper doily garland

Seeing this precious paper doily garland on Nice Package makes me want to host a tea party or some other adorable type event.

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tutorial here via Nice Package

If you try it out, I want to see pictures! :)

inspire me Monday: perfection

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via Dweebist

inspire me Monday: second chances

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There’s no point in wasting time feeling sorry for yourself because you made a mistake, did the wrong thing, or disappointed someone. I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way, as this attitude runs in my family. We’re human—we make mistakes! We fail sometimes. We disappoint others and ourselves. But every second is a second chance…we should stop worrying about what we did and worry about what we can do.

via Dweebist

Sunday Resolutions Update

For those of you who are still interested in my resolutions updates (and by “for those of you” I mean “for me so I’ll get my butt in gear”), I’ll say up front I’ve not been doing well on most of my goals. There is a lot going on in my life right now…all the things that come with the end of the “fiscal year” at work, a huge project at work that I’m spearheading, and now house stuff.

Yes, indeed, Jonathan and I are looking to buy our first home. We’re pretty far along in the process…pending a home inspection and a loan approval (and closing, of course), we should be getting a house next month.

I’m very excited about it, but I do tend to slack on my resolutions when I have so much going on. I don’t think I’m going to be able to give 100% to my resolutions in the coming weeks. I have to give myself a break while I’m so busy. But I do think I can do better. And I will, starting today!

For those of you who are interested, here’s a picture of the house. Hopefully Jonathan and I will get out soon to take pictures of our own, but this picture on the listing is the best I can do for now.

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Thanks for keeping me accountable. I hope you’re all doing well with your goals!

book banter: Severance

Severance, Robert Olen ButlerSeverance

Robert Olen Butler

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Severance is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. In fact, it’s a little creepy. The premise is based on two scientific theories: 1) that a person’s head remains conscious for one and a half minutes after decapitation and 2) that humans speak at the rate of 160 words per minute when they’re in a heightened state of emotion. These two theories indicate that a person who is decapitated might think 240 words before they’re completely dead. Based on this figure, Butler has written a series of short (240 words each, to be precise) monologues of decapitated people, fictional and non-fictional. These monologues are presented in chronological order, starting with Mud (“man, beheaded by saber-toothed tiger, circa 40,000 B.C.”) all the way through the author himself (“writer, decapitated on the job, 2008”). Fortunately, Robert Olen Butler was not decapitated in 2008—that would’ve just been too weird.

The book is interesting especially because of the glimpse it gives you into the lives of famous characters you’ll recognize: Medusa, John the Baptist, George (AND the dragon), the lady of the lake, Marie Antoinette, and so on. I’m mostly intrigued by the format of these monologues. I’ve never heard of a book quite like this and I’m always impressed with books that are out of the norm.

I doubt, however, that I’ll read the book again. It was entertaining and engaging, but not something I would gain insight from by reading it another time. I definitely think it’s an interesting read, but I’d suggest borrowing it from the library rather than buying it.

book banter: The Lightning Thief

image  The Lightning Thief

Rick Riordan

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I recently finished reading The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. To be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. I would definitely say my favorite book genre is fantasy, and I would also say that I love young adult literature, but this book didn’t really do it for me.

I felt like the invention of this new world, this world that involves gods and monsters and magical weapons, seemed very forcibly created. I also felt disconnected from the characters for the same reason. Everything was very pushed. Rather than showing the reader that a character was experiencing something through that character’s actions, Riordan would outright tell the reader. I find that this makes this new universe pretty unbelievable and not very engaging.

I do think, however, that there are people who would find this book enjoyable. I also think the story has enough potential that the movie might be pretty awesome. :) But I’m disappointed to say that I have no interest in reading any more books in this series.

Sorry to write a bummer review. Hopefully the next book will be better!

Sunday Resolutions Update

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If you’re keeping up with these updates with any consistency, you might have noticed I didn’t post a resolutions update last week. Actually, I’ve done very well on all fronts, including the frequency of my workouts (the hardest part of all for me). Since I’ve done well, I didn’t feel the need to post last Sunday. I think it’s important that I keep on updating about my progress, but I think perhaps I don’t need to do it every week anymore. Everything is coming easier for me now that it’s been a few weeks and I’ve been holding myself accountable via this blog. So I’ll definitely keep updating, but probably on a bi-weekly basis for now until either 1) I start to lapse and need to update weekly again or 2) do even better and can further reduce the number of resolutions update posts (let’s hope for the latter)! :) Thanks for reading—keep holding me accountable!

  1. I will write more.
  2. I will read more.
  3. I will honor the Sabbath.
  4. I will find a home church.
  5. I will take better care of my body.
  6. I will be more loving.

I can do it!

Success is a fight between you and yourself. ~ Unknown

Happy Valentine’s Day—some LOST-themed valentines for you and your “other”

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via The Daily What

weekly geekery: Final Fantasy Creatures etsy roundup

Here’s a little taste of what the Etsy world has to offer on Final Fantasy creatures:
image Cactuar Gotta Go Hat, via peanutbutterhats
image Moogle Fleece Hat, via animemom88
image Chocobo Scarf, via michigami
image Moomba Art, via zionfeather9
via Etsy

recipe share: peanut butter bars (with Super Bowl party variation)

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I love chocolate. I love peanut butter. And, let’s face it—I love powdered sugar and butter, too. This is probably one of the unhealthiest treats you could possibly make, but it is delicious. Readers, meet Betty Crocker’s peanut butter bars.

 

 

Ingredients:

Cookie Base
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® peanut butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
Filling
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk
Frosting
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, stir all Cookie Base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom of pan using floured fingers. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
3. In small bowl, beat all Filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over cookie base.
4. In microwavable bowl, microwave all Frosting ingredients on High 30 seconds; stir until smooth. Cool 10 minutes; spread over filling. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows.

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Now I realize this is coming a bit late for this year’s Super Bowl, but you might want to reserve this idea for next year. You simply make the pb bars per the recipe above, then you get out your (AKA hurry to Hobby Lobby the night before to buy a) handy-dandy football-shaped cookie cutter, and cut the bars out (each batch will make 12 bars). Then just pipe on some white frosting in the shape of stitching and, voila—

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peanut butter bar footballs!

These were a smashing success! Did you make any creative dishes for the Super Bowl festivities?

inspire me Monday: success

 the best revenge

via Dweebist

inspire me Monday: rainbow palette

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via Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr


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