January 28, 2016

Link Love (S&T 1/28)

Stuff, Things, etc.

+I cried at the end of Downton last week (1/17's episode).  Spoiler here.

+I like this. I have a purse problem.

+You might've seen this on Facebook: a doctor explains what parents are doing wrong.

+This was on Facebook too: why you should never ask someone when they are having kids. (But since this is a Buzzfeed article, there's a typo. See if you can find it.)

+Funny tweets.

+I've been loving the Saturday spin class here because the instructor is wonderfully motivating and, like, good at it (which is rare). She also has the best taste in music.  She played Taking Back Sunday AND some of the 90s music remixed in a way that is really perfect for cardio. I'm pretty sure all I listened to for the first two years of college was Taking Back Sunday.

+I pinned this orange chicken recipe because it's kind of embarrassing for me to admit how much I love Panda Express.  We had P-Ex catered at school a few months ago and I ate two platefuls and then I almost fell asleep in the middle of reading class.  It was awful.

+And while you're on Food52's site, look at this list of things to do for yourself in the kitchen this year.  Some of it seems very tempting, some seems impossibly easy, and some just seems impossible.

+This might be the best thing I've seen someone in Hollywood say about snubbing. The only person who is ever allowed to complain is Leonardo DiCaprio.

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January 27, 2016

Why Our Christmas Tree is Still Up

Growing up, we put the tree up in mid-December and took it down right after New Year's.  It was the 90s and early 2000s and people were still regular-achievers then, not the overachievers you see on the internet these days.  So I have no background in leaving Christmas trees up until March. That's a tradition and accomplishment I've begun all on my own.

The first Christmas we were married, Scott was deployed.  I got a tiny pre-lit tree super cheap at Fred Meyer and just stuck it in the living room.  I didn't even have any ornaments, except for the personalized one I got at a craft fair that fall.  Since our family had sent presents for Scott and since I had bought presents for Scott, I stuck them next to this two-foot tree and we had Christmas again in February when he came back.

The year after, we were moving in February, so I packed up Christmas ASAP.  I'm hyper about purging and packing when it comes to moving.

The year after that, Scott deployed in December and I swore we weren't doing Christmas.  This meant that I, obviously, put the tree up in mid-November and left it up until March.  It was just me living there. And we had two living rooms. The tree was nicely lit and decorated in the living room we didn't use.  The benefit to this was that I could take it down in March and be all Now Christmas is over but hey! It's March! Deployment is a third of the way over!  -----sometimes you have to play mind games with yourself to get through things, you know?

The next year we were prepping for a move again so the tree came down pretty quickly.

In Missouri, our house had no place for our 7 foot tree so it came down rather quickly too.

Last year, I left it up for awhile I think.  I don't really remember.  (Which is weird because I remember everything...I've blocked out a lot of 2014-2015 I believe.)

This year, the tree is still up and I don't really have a reason.  The boxes for Christmas decorations are in the basement and I don't feel like hauling them upstairs and then hauling all that back out to the shed.  It's cold out.  And Scott doesn't know where I like the boxes to go for easy access next year.  Plus he's busy.

The only reason why I can think of that I leave Christmas trees up foreverrrr is because of that first year and it just seems natural now.  Like, why wouldn't you want to look at twinkle lights for a few months instead of a few weeks?  And living in northern climates, spring isn't exactly around the corner.

Do you take your tree down ASAP? Given that it's artificial, of course, I don't think there's anything that's stopping us from leaving them up year round (there's an idea...).

January 25, 2016

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up...  I've been reading this, and at first it seemed a little hokey. Like it was too simple.  But the more I read, and the more I thought about the stuff in my closet(s), the more it resonated, and it really sunk in.  The three questions you need to ask yourself when de-cluttering: Does this spark joy?  Is it useful? Has it served its purpose? A lot of things are useful (i.e. my Aeropostle shorts I haven't worn since 2011). Joy is sparked by good memories I had while wearing those shorts. But have they served their purpose? Absolutely.  I haven't worn them in almost 5 years. They're kinda big and kinda too short and that's why I haven't worn them and I don't plan on wearing them in the future but I've been hoarding them away because I remember the good times of 2009-2011 when I see them.  But I have pictures of me wearing the shorts. I don't need to have them hoarded in the back of a spare closet in a Rubbermaid tub.

There's so much I can get rid of simply because it's heavy. Metaphorically, knowing I have bins and closets full of things I'm desperately clinging to makes me feel heavy.  In a literal sense, every time we pack up a house or reorganize things, I'm reminded of how much I have that is pulling me backward.  I don't need the iPhone box from 2013. I don't need old prescription bottles.  I don't need the purses I will never use again.

Some other tidbits from the book that I enjoyed:

+Everything must have a place.  YOU will feel better when everything has a place.  Part of the reason why moving and remodeling is so stressful is because not everything has a place. By getting rid of things we/I don't use/need, everything can have a place because it's not as cluttered.

+You can't live in the past.  So if you're hanging onto items simply because they remind you of other times, it might be time to let them go.  I became very selective in what I kept.  My biggest issue is hanging onto clothes from the past.  I don't wear them anymore (see shorts example above), but I store them away to keep.

+You have to handle each item in order to decide if you want it.  This means you need to really be in the mood for de-cluttering. Last summer, I split my wardrobe in half by taking a day to try on everything I owned and paring it down to what I actually wore and what actually looked good. It was worth it.

+Holding onto things you might need someday can turn into a waste of time, effort, and space.  I've spent more time in the past shuffling my storage around than I have using the stuff I had stored away.

There are some exceptions that I made to the author's advice:

+I save my old planners.  In some box, in some shed, I have my planners from college.  In the closet, in our "paperwork" box, I have my planners from 2012 through 2015.  I enjoy the nostalgia they provide me.

+Also, while I do take things I need out of my bags at the end of the day, I don't unpack my purse or tote bag. They have a hook by the door...if I started taking things out, I would forget those things in the morning.

I thought I was going to read this book and just sort of absorb the advice and maybe apply pieces of it at some point.  However, I started tidying right away, one box at a time. I'm not done, of course, and I don't have the means or the time to do it all at once like Marie Kondo implores you to do (i.e. Scott is not always on board with my need to de-clutter).  But I've made a lot of progress.  The biggest step was not getting rid of things, but changing my thinking from This is mine. I need it. to Did it serve its purpose? Can someone else use it now?

January 24, 2016


Somehow, between 4pm and 6pm on Friday night, I ended up with a sore throat. That snowballed into a sinus thing that has lasted all weekend.  Thinking I could overpower it, I went to a spin class on Saturday morning and then to the grocery store. Then I sat on the couch for 9 hours and watched t.v.

I literally did nothing else.  I stared at my stack of papers to grade. I thought about writing blog posts....I watched New Girl for the second or third time instead.

Today, I met a coworker for breakfast (note: I was too sick to do this) and then sat around all day.  I could really use a sub tomorrow but the amount of time and energy it takes to put together plans for a Monday is too much.  I can't do it.  It's so tempting...but I can't.

I stopped at Walgreens to buy some Afrin (because it is the only thing making life bearable at this moment) and I couldn't get the child-proof lid off.  I tried forever on the drive home.  I thought about taking it back to the store.  Finally I went at it with a pair of scissors.  I think the lid was defective.

It looks like an ape opened it and then chewed on it for awhile.  But hey, at least it's open and I didn't slice any fingers off in the process.

"Cheers" to a sick Monday...I'm not sure what's worse: being sick on Monday or the Broncos winning today. A definite toss-up.

January 21, 2016

A *thing* called laziness (S&T 1/21)

I figure I should share what I'm thinking...since I'm writing this post at 7:30 on a Wednesday night and I also figure I'll keep things light.  Currently, we're watching New Girl reruns. Definitely light.

Each day, I put on actual clothes. I wear them all day long. By 4:30pm, I am home and changing into my leggings and/or sweatpants (temperature-dependent). And every day, as I drive home, I contemplate taking an outfit picture.

I never do. It's just too much work to spend 97 seconds taking two or three pictures.  I'm that lazy. Plus, if the temperature is below 50 degrees, I'm mildly uncomfortable and that just won't do.

Anyway, I like these pants and I like my new boots and I like mixing patterns and I was having a good hair day...

A good hair day by my definition anyway.

The corduroys are from Kut From the Kloth (Stitchfix) and they hold their shape in such a wonderful way.  Maybe expensive pants are worth it.
The sweater is Target from years ago and the shirt underneath is J.Crew.
The scarf was from my mom and it's like a plaid flannel and there's nothing better than that.
The boots are Madden Girl and are very wide and look best with leggings, but I just went for it with the pants on this day.  It worked out okay. They look big because the camera's at an upward angle (there's no way I was retaking pictures...though maybe I should've...this is an awful angle).

Do you also suffer from the thing called laziness? It's not that I can't do something. It's that I won't do something.  There's a difference.

January 20, 2016

Stitchfix Semi-Fail

This service is addictive.

I don't shop unless there's something I need/want to get right away, so the only way I'm going to add new clothes is to have them chosen for and delivered to me.

This time, I had a different stylist (a new one each month seems to be their method of operation) and her name was Jennifer.

The first thing I pulled out was a bracelet.  I thought I had "no jewelry" clearly marked all over my style profile, but somehow "bracelet" was unchecked...meaning she would of course send me a $28 bangle. I have very small wrists and this barely fit me.  What a waste of an item. I can pick out my own jewelry. I need clothing to wear.

The second was an anorak. An $88 anorak that looks of equal to or less than quality to my $40 Target anorak.  Also, it's 20 degrees in Colorado this month and I don't know what I'd do with an anorak until spring.  Another wasted opportunity.

This pullover looking winning.  However, it clung in weird ways and wasn't super flattering.  I like the style, color, and material, but not the cut. It wasn't long enough.  Again, if items like this aren't long enough to be worn with leggings, I don't even know what we're doing with them in the first place.  It was $64.

This dolman style top (I hate the word dolman) was something I didn't expect to like. However, it was soft, neutral, and clung in all the right ways.  A keeper.  It was $48-$20 styling credit.

Some jeggings. Some $78 jeggings. These jeggings had a super-high, super-thick, pleated waistband and that was such a turnoff.  I did try them on.  They were just oddly tight. I could've made them work. But $78 for leggings. With a weird waistband? Never. They were so soft though.  I really wanted them to be perfect.  Perfect jeggings that I would wear at least once a week (maybe twice) for 9 months out of the year: that would be worth $78.

The total for my box with the discount would've been $209, which wouldn't have been a bad deal with all things considered.  I just didn't love the items enough. So that was kind of a missed opportunity on their part.  I considered getting it all (even the dumb bracelet) before I started trying things on.

Anyway...I don't know how I feel about the idea of keeping up with Stitchfix. I feel like the "stylists" are as qualified as I am to "style" and write little notes about how one can put clothing items together. Anyone with a working eye, a pair of skinny jeans, and a scarf could figure it out.

I'm feeling very judgmental right now, apparently.  They're making it to easy for me to write not-so-good reviews.

January 19, 2016

Why I really needed a new phone

I was eligible for an iPhone upgrade in November.  I wrote over two years ago (I can't find this post but I know it exists somewhere) about about how I was apprehensive to give up my 4S to get a new one back then because of all the memories my first iPhone and I had together.  We'd been through a lot!  However, I do still have it, in a box in the basement.

With this phone, a 5C, I couldn't wait to get rid of it.

I told Scott that I wanted a new phone because I wanted a new phone.  It wasn't broken, cracked, or scratched. I just have very few positive memories attached to it.  I told him I wanted to get rid of it because it reminded me of Missouri and Missouri was hard.

He thought I was crazy (and on some level, I'd agree) and said, You had a lot of friends in Missouri.  True.  The people I knew in Missouri were wonderful.  But Missouri was the year where my skin decided to betray me and that really colored my experience in a negative way.  It was the year I went to doctor's appointment after doctor's appointment, starting with my skin and leading to them trying to figure out an underlying cause.  Then we found out we were moving after 11 months, I had to quit another job, I had to apply for another job, we moved into a unicorn-adorned remodeling project in the desert and it was hot and there were moths and....It was a stressful year full of being unsure of myself.  I had no friends in Colorado, Scott was gone a lot, I knew nothing about the place, and I'm just now (18 months later) feeling like I finally have a footing. 2014 and a giant chunk of 2015 were HARD.

So I got the 5C phone right as all this was being set into motion in November 2013 and, ever since, I've felt like I've been carrying around a weight.  My phone, obviously, wasn't not pulling me down but it was like this abstract symbol of all of that heaviness and I needed to get rid of it because I didn't want that feeling anymore.

Therefore, when the Apple Store offered me $200 for it, I jumped on that. They made me sign a form saying that I would not ask for my old phone back because it would be shipped off to California to be refurbished as soon as I watched them destroy the SIM card.

I didn't even hesitate.  That $200 bought me my new iPhone 6, an Otterbox, and a screen guard. And I got money back on an Apple giftcard (maybe I need a new iPad...you never know).

If you had asked me to give up my 4S a few years ago, I wouldn't have. It means too much to me. I can be ridiculously sentimental, but I was not even wavering in handing over my 5C.  It was a definite non-decision.

Do you use phone upgrades right away? I tend to sit on them for a few months, which is dumb because 2 years is 2 years. Sometimes it takes awhile to adjust to the change of a new one, I guess.

January 18, 2016

Food I Can't Make

Yesterday I wore my Steelers jersey to Costco.  I felt like a moving target.

Even worse than a playoff loss, is a playoff loss when the winning team is your current state's team.  It's just...annoying. All the blue and orange makes my eyes hurt.


I made macaroni and cheese last night and it was just not as good as I wanted it to be.  Disappointing that even my solace of comfort food was ruined after an even more disappointing Steelers' loss. I found myself wishing I had a box of Annie's. I would prefer a box of Annie's White Cheddar and Shells to the time/effort/taste of what I made last night.

It made me think about food I'm not good at making, so I just don't.  Sometimes it's easier to know when to give up.

1. Omelettes. I'm really bad at them. It's not even worth it.  I make scrambles instead.  Same difference. I order omelettes when I go out for breakfast instead because that's the only way I'll ever get to eat one.

2.  Hamburgers. Since I don't eat burgers, I never really learned how to make them. The last time I tried them on the grill (for Scott and a friend), they were raw on the inside. I had no idea.

3. Salads.  I usually order salads at restaurants because I rarely make them at home. I do love a good salad, but it takes so much work and effort and grocery shopping to prep salads.  Plus, they never taste as good at home.

4. Hard-boiled eggs. Again, I don't eat them, so I don't know how to make them. I've tried all the different methods.  Scott's not picky about food at all but even he side-eyes my attempts at hard-boiled eggs.

What foods are you really bad at making? Anything you've given up on?

January 15, 2016

The Crawford Hotel

These are all just kind of random pictures and I certainly don't consider myself a lifestyle blogger because I'm bad at things like selfies and rarely document "lifestyle" in the form of photos. But this is just some of what we did last weekend. 
Scott made reservations at The Crawford Hotel at Union Station in downtown Denver.  

The room had a Nespresso machine which lets you know what kind of hotel this was (i.e. $$$ and it was not bolted down...I'd bolt it down). 

This is the older part of downtown.  Coors Field is on the next block.

I appreciated that things were still all lit up for Christmas because I, too, have my Christmas tree still up.

Each room came with an iPad.

Instead of hanging out at the lounge buying $7 beers, we watched the Steelers game in the room while eating ice cream. 

We went to Fruition for dinner. 

Scott told them it was my birthday so they gave us sparkling wine. 

It was almost pitch black inside the restaurant so pictures aren't the best....these are latkes. With a pear chutney and apples and sauteed kale.

And I went with the vegetarian option since it sounded tasty: this is some type of homemade pasta (almost like gnocchi) with hazelnut pesto (amazing), some sort of grain, and it was on top of macadamia nut butter (almost amazing).

Vanilla Cheesecake with mango sorbet.
Fun fact: I've never actually met another person with my birthday. January 10th is not a popular one. However, the lady sitting right next to me was also born January 10th and she's a teacher too.  This was worth the trip alone. We're a rare breed. 

At the hotel, we got ice cream.  Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Cup. 

The lounge that was right outside of our room, but the doors were completely soundproof so we heard nothing.  Also allowed me to fall asleep before 10pm. 

The whole place was like a fun little community with bars, coffee shops, and restaurants.  

In the morning, I got a manicure at the Oxford Hotel Spa next door and wanted to visit the Tattered Cover Bookstore, but we needed to head out.  Plus, no need to end the weekend with a parking ticket if we overstayed. We opted for the parking garage instead of the super expensive valet service and we used Uber to get to and from the restaurant.  I highly recommend the hotel, the restaurant, and the spa.  Uber too. It worked better than I thought it would. 

January 14, 2016

Stuff and Things 1/14

Stuff, Things, etc.

I didn't mean to completely drop the blogging ball this week.  I usually write my blog posts on Saturday mornings and last Friday, Scott surprised me by saying we were going to Denver for the weekend for my birthday.  So Saturday morning was spent running errands and packing a bag instead of writing and relaxing.

The winner of the $10 Starbucks gift card is Micah!  Congrats!  Shoot me an email with your address and it'll be on its way.

Also, what didn't get done this past weekend: an ice cream cake. Highly disappointing.

I've been battling it out with my iPhone this week.  I've been eligible for an upgrade since November, but there's something wrong with my storage capacity software and it also affects how things are saved to iCloud.  Therefore, I spent an hour at the Apple Store on Tuesday while they tried, to no avail, to back up my phone and process my upgrade.  I had a new phone and case in hand...and then the gentleman (who was very patient and nice) said he just didn't feel comfortable deleting everything from my current 5C without knowing I had all my pictures and videos on my computer first (i.e. instead of trusting the Cloud).  So, I drove home and backed everything up on iTunes and tomorrow I'm going to get my new phone.
What a ridiculous ordeal.  And such a first-world problem that I'm ashamed to rant about. It wouldn't be such an issue if we didn't live over an hour from the Apple Store.

I found this on one of my favorite blogs last night.  The brilliance...it's remarkable.

If you haven't watched Making a Murderer, you should.

Scott bought me a coat rack for my birthday.  I've been saying we need one for the basement. And then he also ordered me heavy-duty floormats for my car.  You can tell we've been married for 6 1/2 years.

But we also went to a fancy restaurant in Denver and stayed at a fun hotel and he had to do whatever I asked all weekend, including put that coat rack together.  So it all worked out.

If you have a chance, hop on over to Joey's blog and leave some kind words. She's been through a lot this week and support from fellow bloggers can be so uplifting.

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January 13, 2016

Winter Book Challenge (Jan. 1-April 30)

I mentioned that I wasn't doing any sort of numbering or challenging when it came to books this year, but I saw a Winter Book Challenge and thought it might be fun to give myself some direction. I'm a little late in posting this list (which story of the world this week, really), but I already started two of these for this month.

Any book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Book that starts with the letter "D": Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Book with a 4-word title: Letters to the Lost by Iona Gray

"Mother/Father/Daughter/Son/Child(ren)" in the title: Daughter by Jane Shemilt

One of Amazon's Top 100 Authors: Killing Reagan by Bill O'Reilly

Book set in Asia: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

On this make-you-laugh list: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Friend/family favorite: I believe I'm going with Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte because I've never read it and/or Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan J. Stradal

From the year you were born:  All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum (Pickings were slim and I considered re-reading Hatchet because I thought about doing it for school anyway...then I remembered I hate Hatchet.)

**Starbucks winner is being posted tomorrow.  Life got away from me this week.**

January 12, 2016

December Books

#72 The House Without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock B+
I mentioned this in last month's post. I read it in a day or so and then I read it to my 4th grade class.  They were enthralled.  I didn't even think they would like it. They don't like most things, I've reluctantly discovered. But they loved it. They clapped at the end. (Though this group of kids is just odd because they clap for everything...they are not necessarily empathetic toward each other ...or me, for that matter...but they applaud everything.)
Since it takes place in 1946, I asked them if they'd seen the "Ralphie and the Red Rider BB Gun" movie.  Most of them had, so I told them this took place around the same time and to picture the town, the house, the clothes from that movie in order to visualize what is happening in the book.
I'll read it again next year. It's a quick one. I did it in 10 days.

#73 You're Not So Smart by David McRaney F
This was more just like an article that should be in a psychology journal, not a book. I thought it would be an in-depth analytical look at why we have so many Facebook friends and why constant validation makes us tick, because that's what the cover/title implies. It's not like that. Don't waste your time.

#74 Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella D
There are two schools of thought on this one: If you love Kinsella's Shopaholic characters, you will be delighted with another edition of the story. However, you will be sorely disappointed with the flat/lifeless/deflated versions of previously vibrant characters.  You will wonder what exactly happened to Kinsella in the time between the first book and this book. Becky is weird. Luke is a background character. Tom and Jessica aren't there. It's just put together in a really terrible way with a plot that's not worthwhile. There's no flair to it. Listening to the last hour of it (it was 9 hours long), I was actually cringing.
Secondly, if you'd never read a Shopaholic book before and tried to read this as a stand-alone, you will be confused.  Without the previous 8 or so books  (I don't know how many there are), this book has no meaning and it barely had meaning based on my knowledge of the previous books anyway. It's not the same. Take us back to England, Sophie.
Whereas, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (book #2) was so good that I actually read it first, and it had meaning all on its own.
Disappointment with a capital D. I wish Kinsella would write another stand-alone.

#75 A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson C+
So my biggest issue with Life After Life was that it never gave a resolution.  I read something on Goodreads that mentioned A God in Ruins (a sequel of sorts) gives that conclusion.
This is probably one of the weirdest and most depressing books I've read yet.  I listened, desperately, hoping for resolution and I would note key words and phrases, repetition, and potential clues.  The only clue I heard was the constant repeated phrase "the dead were legion". There was one instance of Ursula mentioning that someone should assassinate Hitler, which ties back to the first book.  Other than that, it was the same characters, kind of, and a completely different story.  I didn't care about Teddy's daughter. I didn't care about his flying days in WWII.  I just wanted to know what magical mystical quality made Ursula live and die repeatedly.
Nothing. It had a story to it, I suppose, and the ending was not mind-blowing. I wouldn't say it's not worth a try, though.
They say you can read this book before Life After Life and there's no particular order.  I agree with that.  As a stand alone, I would've hated this book though.  I recommend Life After Life.  This one is optional as a sequel because it's not really a sequel.

#76 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon D- (Only because giving it an F would mean I would encourage no one to read it, ever. It doesn't bother me if YOU like it. I just didn't.)
I gave this one star on Goodreads. I would be willing to make it one and a half because I did finish the book, but there was some heavy skimming going on. Meaning, I read 50% of it in one night, skimmed to 94%, found out what happened at the end, and had no desire to pick up a sequel.
It was just...bad.
Claire was fine as a character in 1945, but she was insufferable in 1743.
I would watch an episode of the Starz show, just to see how they adapted it. But I have a feeling it would be like watching The Tudors or something. Not enjoyable.
Gabaldon needs to hire an editor.

#77 The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans D
This was kind of boring. I had hope...but no. It wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but that's all I can say about it.

#78 Case Histories by Kate Atkinson B-
Atkinson's books are a conundrum to me. I like them, I don't love them. They aren't the best thing I've ever read, but she does know how to weave a tale.  There is SO much time-jumping and period-shifting that it's very easy to get confused.  You cannot skim, lest you miss the entire point of the book during that one paragraph in which you were distracted by petting the dog lying next to you (or something...).
This is a true-crime-esque book.  Three separate cold cases are woven together and attempted to be solved by a private investigator.
It took me forever to finish because, like I said, paying attention is important.


There was supposed to be a 79th book but I got lazy and didn't finish it and then my iPad died and I forgot to charge it and so I couldn't access my Kindle app...I'll add it to January.  78 books in one year is still pretty spectacular so I'm happy with myself.  I'm not setting a number goal for 2016, but I'm still reading.  If you put 100 fabulous books in front of me, I would definitely read them in a year.  But it takes a lot of time to seek out good books and that is what stresses me out.

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books!

January 8, 2016

A Few Friday Favorites

Yesterday was full of complaints, so today we're keeping things positive.

1. My birthday is Sunday. Which means I'm going to Athleta to buy a few treats and I got a new pair of boots too. There will also be ice cream cake. I have an idea for a new one and I hope it works.

2.  As is tradition for this blog, I'm giving away a $10 STARBUCKS CARD because it's my birthday.  This year, to be entered, you have to answer a question in the comments: What is your favorite book ever? I'm doing a winter reading challenge and need a "friend favorite" (See #3 on this list for why I'm asking you, a blogger).  I'll pick a winner by Monday!

3.  Have you tried the Slate Audio Book Club podcast?  Love it.  I'm not saying the people I see everyday don't read, but I don't generally make it a habit of getting into book conversations with people other than fellow bloggers.  The last time I got into a face-to-face conversation about books, the person talked about how beautifully written and sweet 50 Shades of Grey was.  It's really hard to come back from that.

So when I have the opportunity to listen to fellow readers discuss books I've read, and maybe no one I know has the desire to read, I jump on it. So far, I've listened to The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, Life After Life (helped tie up some potential loose ends!), The Martian (though I didn't read it), and All the Light We Cannot See (just to see why people seemed to like it so much).

4. And Rodan and Fields. I won a $50 gift card *just* for selling products.  There are more giveaways than I can keep track of each month and often my sponsor has to remind me to enter them because I forget that I'm eligible!
While RF is a form of multi-level-marketing, there's no quotas and you don't have to set up a stand at craft fairs or host parties in your home. It's a mostly virtual business; there's no paperwork! And you don't have to hold onto any products unless you want to. I have one drawer in the bathroom closet that holds R+F products.  The fact that I'm not personally responsible for boxes of products was what sold me on the business end of things.  And, you know, the fact that the products actually work.
If you're even a little bit interested in this opportunity, let me know...I'd love to chat with you about it.

What's your favorite thing this Friday?

January 7, 2016

Stuff and Things 1/7

Stuff, Things, etc.

+In case you missed it, I finished my self-imposed Recipe Challenge.  That will not be happening again anytime soon. I don't know how legitimate food bloggers do it everyday.

+Who has watched Making a Murderer?  Holy crap.  We watched it all in 2-3 days and are still reeling.  Scott has his own theory about what happened (spoiler in white below...highlight to read)...

Scott (and I, now) think that Lt. Lenk killed Teresa himself because there was 36 MILLION DOLLARS hanging over his head. What would YOU do if someone told you that you had to be personally responsible for a 36 MILLION DOLLAR settlement?  I think you would do just about anything.  The insurance companies that backed the Manitowoc County police department and court system had already said they weren't paying it; this was all on the people involved in the false conviction in 1985.  I think Lenk would've done anything to get out of that.  
And I believe there's a special place in hell for Lenk, Colburn, Weigart, Fassbender, and Kratz.  Though, Ken Kratz already got his.  I'm just waiting for karma to circle back around and get the others.  Also, the Halbach family made me mad.  I think they wanted someone, anyone, in jail so badly that they believed anything the police told them.  I don't blame them, but I do know that if it were me, having the wrong person in jail for the crime would be as bad as having no one in jail for the crime. 

+I wish Advocare would stop sending me emails.  I don't like that stuff and since it's January, everyone is on the Advocare train.  I've had people tell me they can't use Rodan+Fields because it's not organic; these same people use Advocare.  I wonder what kind of profits you make selling Advocare? Has anyone sold it?

+Thinking about 2016, I set some goals and I'm attempting to really center myself (thanks for the word, Steph!) and balance out what I like/want/need in my day-to-day.  When I look back at 2015, I might've tried, on some level, to do too much.  2015 wasn't the worst year ever, but it wasn't the best. 2014 was a year I hated.  I actually hated it. Loathed it.  I wouldn't go back.  So I have high hopes for 2016 in comparison to the last two.

+I ranted about the gyms here the other day.  I've been waiting for them to update from a December to a January class schedule (just to make sure there is a class on Saturdays).  They updated approximately half the PDF file.  But not all of it.
Also, this is there:
It should say "horse", not "hoyrse"

+On a Dexter-related note, the principal asked me in front of the staff the other day what my favorite TV show is.  Without thinking, I said Dexter.  I'm not sure how that makes me look.  I suppose it was a better answer than my potential second-favorite: Weeds

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January 5, 2016

Adjusting for betterment and convenience.

How's that for a title? Because I believe that we should be trying to better ourselves in small ways, even when "slow down" is being preached from every angle. I also believe that we need to schedule our lives in a way that makes things easier on us. The more convenient something is, the more likely we are to do it.  This title even has a handy acronym: ABC.

Stuff I just can't do anymore: 

I'm done forcing myself to read. While I do truly love a good book, setting a goal and being disappointed when I can't find a good book really bothers me. It bothers me more than I'd like to admit. Like, in May and October I had some terrible book months. I hated most of what I read. But I'd set a goal of 70 books in 2015, so onward I went.  I mean, I've had GREAT book months this year, like in June and July. But the pressure I put on myself to exceed last year's goal was too much.  I definitely hit 70 books in November so I beat my own record, but now where? 80 books? 100? I can't do it.
I'll still be listening to audiobooks and reading paperbacks and sharing recommendations (and taking recommendations), but no number-oriented goals for next year. In addition, I love re-reading books, so maybe I'll do more of that.

No recipe challenges. Oh God, no recipe challenges.  I became super unmotivated around July, and didn't really get back into it until a few weeks ago. I do love to cook, especially when the weather turns wintry. I love to share recipes too, but there will be no number-oriented goals in this regard either.  That was a futile experiment in pushing myself and I'm not sure how it turned out really.

Stop doing schoolwork at home.
This may sound odd, but I rarely did schoolwork at home in Alaska.  My motto was Work when they're working and If you're working on the weekends, you're doing it wrong. I would often grade math tests at home, but that was it. When I taught 2nd grade in Missouri, they didn't really have grades, so I almost never did a thing at home.
At some point this year, I started bringing papers home to grade. It took me until December(!) to realize I was putting a lot of pressure on myself.  By utilizing my prep period and before-school time, I'm getting more done at my desk. Also, if everything doesn't get graded, it's not the end of the world.

Areas where I can't compromise:

Pilates. This is self-explanatory.  I do Pilates at least 6 days a week and I highly recommend it to ANYONE. I'm trying to get Scott into it. My friend is trying to lose baby weight and I've got her on board now. I probably sound like such a broken record, but if you don't have time to go to classes at the gym or weight train or do whatever it is that you believe is physically good for your body, 5-60 minutes (seriously, you pick how long you want the workout to be) a day on a mat will change your life. If you're interested in joining my Pilates group, here's some information.  As said in this video, I've now learned how to exercise for the right reasons and that is certainly worth the $9 I pay each month.

Walking the dogs. We do a mile loop each day. It's the best way for me to unwind after a day of being cooped up at school. It tires them out too. On the weekends, we do 2-3 loops a day. The neighbors probably think I'm crazy.

Meal-planning. It gives me a ridiculous amount of peace to know that we have a plan for dinner every night. I've been making one grocery trip a week and spending about $100 on average each time. This has been going on for over a month now and it's given me a great sense of accomplishment because I know I'm not making wasted trips.

New things I'm trying:

I'm introducing cardio back into my life. The reason why I've slacked on running (ugh) and classes at the gym is because the gym here has the most inconvenient schedule known to man.  The reason why I didn't follow-through with cardio in Colorado Springs is because the altitude just wrecked my lungs.  EVERYTHING hurts when there's not enough oxygen getting through your bloodstream.  I didn't have time to build up resistance or train so I just let it go and focused on Pilates last year.  However, since Thanksgiving, I've been walking the dogs at least one mile a day and sometimes up to three miles a day.  This isn't sidewalk-walking.  This is put-on-all-your-winter-gear-and-trudge-through-the-field walking.  Lo and behold, I'm in much better shape, cardiovascularly, than I was a few months ago.  I'll keep at it and add in Saturday spin classes or something. Scott still thinks I should be an instructor.  Maybe someday.  My #1 biggest complaint about Colorado Springs (and Ft. Carson) is the lack of gyms/lack of fitness classes.

De-cluttering.  This isn't really new because I love a good purge, but I've been struggling with the small amount of closet space in this house. I'm convinced this home was owned by people who A) liked unicorns, and B) didn't own clothes, shoes, or a vacuum.  The vacuum has to stay in the guest room closet because there is literally no where else to put it.
Therefore, I've had the line from the Shopaholic books in my head lately: "Cut back or make more money".  This isn't about money; it's about space. So my alternatives are "Move or reorganize". Since I don't see us moving (never say never), I suppose I'll have to reorganize our spaces and that means getting rid of things.  Plus, I don't want something unless it's useful or beautiful/on display.  The important stuff is what I can see every day. I have tubs for other things that I still feel the need to hold onto.  That's why we have sheds outside.  I got rid of two garbage bags of clothes last week and it feels amazing to free up the space.  I have lots of blankets and stuff I wouldn't mind getting rid of because they're taking up space in said tubs, but I think that these would be useful in an apocalypse so that is literally the reason why I still have two giant tubs of sheets and blankets we don't use, ever.  This also applies to the giant container of Folgers coffee that is in our deep-freeze. When things get that bad, we might want Folgers coffee.

Honing in on meal-planning.  I've been meal-planning for the last month and a half (see above), but I'm REALLY going to pull out all the stops.  I've got a set of meal-planning sheets and I *plan* to use them.

Read a/some devotional(s).  Since I'm a failure at all things Bible-reading and since we're awful people and don't go to church (sigh), I've got a few devotionals I need to be reading each day.  I'm piling them, in a neat and Pinteresty way, on my desk so they are the first thing I see in the morning.


So, those are my goals. I don't know that I'd call them resolutions because they're on-going. Resolutions seem to be something that fall by the wayside come January 15th.  

Is there any way you are trying to better yourself or push yourself in 2016?

January 4, 2016

Pictures at Red Rock Canyon

This is a nice little cop-out post on a Monday when I have to go to work after two weeks off.  
Such is life. 

The dogs rarely (never) cooperate when out of their element. They waited in the truck.

Pictures by Kayce Photography.  She's based in Temple, Texas.