Friday, September 12, 2014

Being an adult

Okay, so its Friday morning and I still haven't written anything on my sixth goal this week: Create something once a week. I did start 2 different projects but some things just take longer than others so at least one of those will probably pop up here next week. With that said, I got a lot done this week including driving 7+ hours of Tuesday for a lunch date with my Grandmother (at Mcmenamins northern most location; another stamp), waiting at DMV for 1.5hours (though it was so worth it in the end), and making a bunch of phone calls yesterday that I have been putting off for too long. That's right, I decided to be a sort-of adult this week and got things done:

Went to the DMV to change 2 different car titles, grocery shopping, took my ring to be cleaned, closed a bank account, added myself to another one, changed doctors and dentists (from our hometown ones to ones closer to where we live now), finished paying off a few things, dehydrated 3 full stacks of apples, bananas, and strawberries for school snacks, leveled my gnome warrior from 17 to 39, got the oil changed, signed myself up for blood donation next week, scheduled 2 dentist appointments and 1 hair cut appointment, made 2 jars of peanut butter, ordered food and medicine for my 4-legged children, and celebrated national yoga month by doing some yoga.

Did I mention I'm going camping today and I already prepped all the meals, packed the car, and cleaned the house, so all we have to do is make the fire and enjoy ourselves. Now you're asking: how would I have accomplished my creative goal? I tried a new recipe - Pear & chocolate chip muffins.

I like to make small muffins for those mornings when J doesn't wake up in enough time and I had this recipe from my mom that I just had to give a try. My mom is a wonderful baker and growing up we always had cookies or muffins or cake or something being made. Since J and I met in middle school, he knows my mom's desserts well and jokes that, though mom and I look like twins, she is a million times better in the kitchen than I am. I have improved over the years (when I first moved out I always overcooked chicken in the microwave and now its my go to meat when I'm feeling lazy).

As Yoda says, I didn't try the recipe, I did it! Its a fairly simple one so I thought I would share it here:

Pear & Chocolate Chip Muffins: yields 18 muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Combine: 1 3/4c. flour, 1c sugar, 2tsp baking powder, 1/4tsp salt
  3. Combine: 2 eggs, 1c sour cream (or greek yogurt), 1/4c melted butter, 1tsp vanilla
  4. Mix the dry and wet combos together (when mixed, it will be doughy)
  5. Add 1 1/2c chopped pears (or apples) and 1 c. mini chocolate chips to mixture
  6. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, using all of mixture
  7. Mix 1/4c chopped walnuts, 1/4c sugar, 1Tbsp soft butter
  8. Sprinkle walnut mix on top of muffins
  9. Bake 18-20 minutes

And there you have it, a delicious snack! I don't have any pictures of the process because it was just that simple that I believe in you. The only picture I did take was what you see to the right - this one is going camping with us for a on the road snack. This camping trip I will be checking off at least 3 different goals on my list: #1: Unplug and turn off for 24hours a month, #3: go camping 5 times, and #23: Read 10 books (I'll be finishing the first of A Song of Ice and Fire series; aka Game of Thrones). I can already see a few posts that will come out of this weekend trip so tune back in next week. Until then, live long, take time for yourself away from technology, and prosper!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Somewhere I've never been

For some of my 23 by 24 goals, I knew exactly how I would go about accomplishing them (such as goal #23: Read 10 books for pleasure - I have a long list of books to read so picking just 10 was cake). On the other hand, there were a few goals that I really just hoped to accomplish but wasn't sure how they would turn out in the end. Goal #13 was one of the latter - travel somewhere I've never been. After going on a once in a lifetime road trip with my family last summer, I learned that traveling, no matter how far, to see something new was so refreshing and life giving. No doubt this goal will always be on my yearly goal list.

Now, as it turned out, J and I planned a visit to his grandmother's house in Madras for last weekend. As I was looking for spots to maybe hike in the area I realized that Crater Lake was only a 2.5 hour drive south. Now, in my mind, seeing Crater Lake was as big of a deal as seeing the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore (both places we saw on our family road trip). I proposed the idea to J only to find out he had also never been to this top wonder of Oregon. The plan was made to leave early from his grandmother's house on Sunday morning, grab coffee on the way, take as much time as we wanted driving around the rim (we had our pup with us and none of the lake view trails allow dogs), and have a late lunch at Bend's Old St. Francis Mcmenamins hotel (I'll talk more about this later).

If you know me at all than you know that like actress Kristen Bell, anywhere below a 3 or above a 7 on my emotional scale, I'm probably crying. Since I could hardly contain my excitement, J let me drive on the way there. As we traveled the final 9 miles after the pay station, I had tears in my eyes with overwhelming excitement. I'm certain I am a smidge dramatic but that first glimpse of the bright blue water completely took my breath away.

Merriam Point; First viewpoint when entering park from north entrance

According to the park guide, it was a 33 mile drive around the Lake and the suggested time of travel was 2-3 hours. 

Map of Crater Lake

We stopped at just about every spot we could, got out to take pictures, and jumped back in the car to take in more of the sights. It was absolutely spectacular!

Discovery Point
Kerr Notch; first time we were able to really see the Phantom Ship rock (also, wish I had a camera like that)
Cloudcap Overlook; the best spot to really capture the entirety of Crater Lake

We did make a brief visit to the gift shop for gifts for family (if you're reading this, dear siblings, be keeping an eye on the mail) and a few things for ourselves (2 postcards and a coffee mug). Once we were satisfied that we had taken in all we could take in for the morning, we made our way back north for a very late lunch.

If you live around the Portland area, perhaps you've heard of the restaurant/pub/bar/hotel Mcmenamins. It is probably one of my most favorite places to eat and they have this real nifty marketing strategy of using passports to have customers travel to their different locations. The passport itself is $20 and for most of the locations you don't have to do anything except ask for a stamp. Once you get all the stamps for a certain area, you are rewarded with a prize. So far I've completed 3 areas entirely and have various stamps from others. J and I agreed that the passport would be used similar to how we use group-ons - if we already plan on eating out or going somewhere, only then would we decide on Mcmenamins. Since we had traveled down to Crater Lake, it only seemed logical to have lunch on our way back to Madras, in Bend, to get another Mcmenamin location full of stamps, and collect the prize.

Thankfully the Old St.Francis Restaurant and Hotel allowed dogs on their side patio. We seated ourselves and I ordered an oldy but a goody - Cajun Tots, a Communication Breakdown Burger (a huge burger with everything on it - perfect for leftovers), and a Ruby (a light, crisp ale). While waiting for our food, I went inside to see what the photo challenge was. For some locations, you have to complete a photo challenge and show it to the front desk in order to receive your stamp. Up to this point I had experienced 1 fairly simple photo challenge (Mcmenamins Edgefield) and 1 slightly more difficult (Mcmenamins Lighthouse Brewpub). To my great relief, Bend's was quite easy: "As you look for your car keys, look up at the hotel for another set of eyes or perhaps some prayerful guidance in helping shine a light or two". Okay, so in the parking lot I should look towards the hotel and there should be a light by, perhaps, an angel.

Not an angel but it is Father Dominic O'Connor

Showed this photo to the front desk, along with the other stamps I had already collected from the 2 bars and pub as I wandered, and was given a choice of my prize. Since our pup, Worf, had been such a trooper through it all (he's a bit of an anxious dog when it comes to just about everything, though he has improved so much since we adopted him) it only made sense to choose the Mcmenamin's dog bandana and a poop bag dispenser (you can never have too many poop bags!).

The stamp from the front desk is upside down

Two other things I love about Mcmenamins, besides their food, is that they honor the history of their location and they always have great artwork lining their walls (though occasionally their halls are so dimly lit, you have to squint to see). I definitely recommend any one of the Mcmenamins locations to anyone visiting the Pacific Northwest!

Museum of Wonders

At the end of the day we had traveled to somewhere we both had never been, had very full tummies, and were ready for much needed rest. 

Goal #13 is checked off the list!

That's all I have for now - until next time, get out there, travel, live long, and prosper!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Shabby Geek

Since I suck at keeping up with this on a scheduled basis, I again have changed my mind about what I will be doing: I'm going to type up and post as I complete items on my 23 by 24 goal list. Now, if I'm really on top of things that will be at least 1 post per week for the goal #6: Create something at least once per week. Well, it just so happens I have two posts worth of things to chat about so here goes.

I have recently decided to quit denying my love of things that some may view as odd and embrace geekdom. With that in mind, I've also been considering how to turn my home into a mash up of my love of the old and vintage with my love of video games and various fandoms. I took the plunge today and created a sign for our entryway.

I started with some Pinterest - inspiration:

For those who don't know, the hearth stone (on the right) is from the game World of Warcraft. When activated, the hearth stone returns you "home" (being where ever you set it to be).

Materials and supplies:
  • Wood
  • Paint and/or crayons
  • Paint brush(s)
  • pencil and paper or stencil
  • hardware to hold it all together and hang
Price: If you already have all the supplies/ ask around to borrow or recycle this is has the potential to be free
Time: Approx. 4 hours (including time for paint to dry)

For this project, I already had all the supplies so price for this was free. I suggest before going out to buy wood (which is fairly cheap as is), you should check out Craigslist. I am always seeing people with posts for free scrap or fire woo. For me, the boards I used actually started out as the foot board to my bed (check out that here), then were re-purposed into a dog bed, and were then just hanging out in the craft closet. I cut down 3 boards to be stacked on top of one another and attached them to another piece of scrap wood. Its fairly easy so I will just direct you to the inspiration tutorial (click on the image above).

After assembling the boards, I created a sort of stencil using word. If you already have a stencil, great! you can skip this paragraph. If not, simply type the letters up as needed in the font you want (I downloaded a WoW font for "HOME" and used the typewriter font for the rest). Obviously you don't have to print every letter so for just type up the letters "HOMEiswhert". The way the sizing worked was HO and ME each had their own page and the rest of the letters fit on a single page. Now cut out your letters.
If you look close enough you can see the pencil tracing I completed for the 'E'
Lay your letters out on your boards and rearrange as you see fit. I definitely suggest taking your time to make sure you have it just the way you want it. If you're using a stencil you can paint right over the top, keeping the stencil in place with tape. If you're using letters printed and cut out like me, I suggest tracing and then going back in with paint. 

Maybe you can tell or maybe not but the hearth stone grey/white color is actually from crayon because I didn't have the right color for it but I think it turned out quite nicely. If you don't have paint, before you run out to your nearest craft store, try some different mediums on the back of your boards to see how that might look. In all honesty, I didn't intend for the colors to be so similar to my original inspiration. We have a lot of blue in our house and we've been trying to lighten it up with spots of orange and red so the "home" was supposed to be more orange but it dried quite yellow. Anyway, let your master piece dry for at least an hour, hang with sturdy hooks and you're done. Now time to admire your work!

Also on the entry wall is a window from the house I grew up in and lots of fun knobs that my mom sent me. We hang our bags on the ones with heavy metal plates and our keys and dog leashes on the small ones.
There you have it, my first plunge into... shabby geek? Sure, we'll go with that - a mash up of shabby chic and geekdom. One more thing to check off my 23 by 24 list.
I will be posting another goal I completed in the next few days so tune back in for that. Until then, live long and prosper!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Penny pinching

Last year, J & I found ourselves in a less than perfect situation - J had graduated from college and the professional world was not being too kind and I had signed an agreement with my school that I would only work in a work/study position. We had saved the amount of money they had suggested in case of unemployment but that only lasted us so long. For a few months (okay, more than a few), we were almost entirely living off of family (thank you!) and food stamps. Even when I could pick up a few hours at work (I found the one work-study job that allowed more than 10hr/wk - usually averaging 15-20hrs), we were no where near meeting our bills each month. We are in a much better situation now, but continue to live by the helpful tips we picked up while being beyond poor. So, whether you’re already in a bind (I’m sorry) or just wanting to save a little money, here are some great tips to get you started in your penny pinching journey.

Cooking & Cleaning:
  • Make a menu, make the grocery list, and only buy what’s on the list. Don't forget the value of couponing, buying stuff on sale, and buying local. It can also be helpful to download the store apps before going shopping for exclusive coupons.
  • Make a compromise on brand vs price. We buy store brand canned vegetables, but buy more expensive whole grain pasta or Rotel vs generic tomatoes and green chiles.
  • Look at the “per unit/ounce/lb” price rather than what each boxed item costs, a smaller can may cost less than a larger can but when you’re paying double per unit, its more cost efficient to buy one large than 2 little.
  • At the same time, you don’t always need to buy in bulk, especially if its something that may go bad before you can use all of it. We almost always buy coffee creamer per ounce (we drink a lot of coffee), but we’ll buy only specific recipe ingredients (heavy cream, green onions, bbq sauce) for the single night instead of having a half used ingredient for months.
  • Buy foods that can be used in more than one way. Greek yogurt can be used in so many ways - substitute for milk in recipes (½ yogurt & ½ water), sour cream, whipped cream (seriously! I once ate some lemon curd with it when I made too much and I could’ve sworn it was whipped cream).
  • On that note: Decide what you’re going to buy/ do then find the coupons (not the other way around)
  • Stop eating out (I'll be honest, I don't understand the difficulty with this one, its just as convenient as a crockpot meal)
  • Feeling a bit hungry? Drink some water (not soda or juice - water!; you may not be hungry, just a bit bored). 30 minutes till meal time? Drink some water (don’t eat on an entirely empty stomach). Bored? Drink some water. Its good for you.
  • It's okay to have the same thing multiple times in a month, you'll survive - find creative ways to spice up usual recipes, like stirring in an egg with your top ramen.
  • Schedule the occasional leftovers meal instead of throwing out perfectly fine food. With just the two of us, we almost always make more than we can eat in one meal so we’ll often also eat it for lunches and leftover dinners throughout the following week.
  • Embrace your crockpot and dehydrator - this is the only item that I would say splurge on even if you're in a crunch. It'll save you money in the long wrong. A dehydrator allows you to dry food (herbs, fruits, veggies, etc) that may go bad otherwise and create little snacks that would be more expensive to buy at the store (ex: banana chips = $3.99/lb or bananas in the dehydrator = $.69/ lb)
  • Make things homemade (often cheaper and healthier) and DIY (only when saving you money! - make your own swiffer pads from fabric scraps, dryer sheets/ balls vs buying them, rags vs paper towels, handkerchiefs vs tissues)
  • Recycle & reuse (cut down on garbage costs and save the environment)
  • Only run the washer/dryer and dishwasher when full

  • Cable vs netflix/ amazon prime (free for students)/ hulu plus/WWE Network and share the cost with multiple people
  • Internet speed - threaten to cancel to get better deals. You may not see much difference at 20MB/s vs 50MB/s or check if your city has GoogleFiber (1GB/s, that’s 1024MB/s)
  • Find fun & free activities near by (walking/busing distance even) to do rather than spending $$ to do the same (discount days, free nights, donation for admittance, etc) or volunteer
  • Community events and celebrations. We went to Portland Opera for kids, Rose Festival, and Scandinavian Festival and all were free.
  • Shopping therapy - Even from my very first job in high school, I would always go to the store right when I got my pay check and buy myself something really small ($1-$5) - some new sticky notes or a candy bar - and the rest would go into the bank. Just a little something to say, “I earned this!” Even if you don’t have the money for that, do something for yourself - go for a walk, 15min quiet time, etc.
  • More on shopping therapy - when we first started in our funk, I would walk around the store and look at all the stuff I couldn’t buy… then it hit me how unhealthy this was because, even without money, I lived a pretty good life. My walks around the store became looking at all the stuff I didn’t need because my life was pretty great as it was and buying that extra little something wasn’t going to make it any better.
  • Keep an eye out for free movie screenings (We’re actually just went to one and have tickets to another in 2 weeks) and other free events

  • Borrow from the library/ friend vs buying or, if you do buy, sell them back to Amazon to break even (or make a lil $). Amazon has plenty of good classic ebooks for free and check out Project for all models of eReader
  • If your school employs peer tutors paid by work-study/tuition dollars, utilize the resource. They like money, and you like good grades. You likely paid for them with your tuition anyway.
  • Apply for any scholarship or grant you qualify for. Your financial aid department may have some contacts or tips on locating them.
  • Check for comprehensive textbook price comparisons. You can specify rent vs buy, paper vs ebook, and takes Amazon Prime into account on price of shipping.
  • Take notes on loose paper rather than in a bound notebook (or on your laptop but really, I think writing it down does better for your memory and you won’t be distracted with the internet) - you get way more paper that you can bind however you want and you won’t end the semester with those awkward empty back pages that you’re not sure if you should recycle or tear out to use at another time.
  • I’m putting this under school just because it would only apply to college students but, whether you have your own health insurance or you’re paying through the school, utilize the health and counseling center! It doesn’t cost anything extra and if you are overly stressed, you are more likely to get sick or have a lowered immune system.
  • If not in school, you may have free clinics or places aimed toward low SES

Around the house:
  • During the day, keep the lights off and windows open - allows airflow and keeps it cooler...unless its super hot, then close the windows and blinds
  • Take short showers rather than baths to cut down on water costs
  • Turn the faucet off when brushing your teeth
  • Put a filled water bottle in the back of the toilet to lower the water level
  • Compost: its great for the environment (less garbage) and can be used in a vegetable garden
  • Spring doesn’t have to be the only time you go through, clean everything, and send stuff off to the local goodwill. Go through your house and find things you don’t need and either donate them or reuse them (okay, so this doesn’t save you money but it sure does make you feel good)

Saving and earning those extra cents:
  • Compare APR/savings at different banks. Seek out Credit Unions, they may have less fees and better rates. Read the fine print of account requirements. Compare to online checking accounts which offer ~1% APY
  • Internet surveys, Amazon’s mechanical turk, and freebie samples (FreebieShark, FreeStuffFinder, & Hunt4Freebies). I’ve earned a good amount through the ipsos surveys and MTurk that I was able to apply towards my amazon account and buying school books. Plus, with the surveys and freebies, you’re getting to try out brand new things at no cost to you (I’ve received shampoo, candles, lotions, feminine hygiene items, and even money just for saying that I’d try it out). You can also sign up to test out higher end stuff, though it may take a while for you to be chosen (I signed up with Nike 9 months ago and just heard back that I can try stuff out!)
  • Walk, ride your bike, carpool, or take public transportation
  • Donate blood (okay, its not actually fun but they sometimes give fun thank yous like free admittance or a fun free snack at a local restaurant and you are helping save people’s lives) or other fluids - plasma, marrow, semen (yup, I said it. Honestly, you’re making a little bit of money and you’re helping someone)
  • Find out if your employer has negotiated discounts at local retailers. J's work has everything from hotels to shoes to food
  • Groupon when you were planning something, not based on what deals they have (like I said with couponing)
  • Utilize eBay’s ‘Best Offer” option on auctions and Buy Now’s

What we didn’t know then but are doing now:
  • Use the envelope method - Have some pre-determined amount of savings automatically deposited into a savings account, so that it’s out of sight/out of mind
  • Offer to participate in studies (eg we live pretty close to OHSU and they are often needing participants. I didn’t get called back about the study but as an example, researchers were wanting to test out a new type of tooth filling = free dental check up, fillings on your teeth with state of the art methods, and you get paid for your time).
  • Seek out local professional schools (Medicine, Dental, etc) for potentially cheaper medical appointments with current doctoral students with certified doctors watching over.
  • Adjust your tax withholding so that they are only taking what they need (you don’t get loans interest free so neither should they and its not like a savings account because you are earning interest on it either) and you don’t own any at tax season - ideally, you get $0 back and you pay $0. Having a small tax bill come April is preferable to a small refund.

And there you have it. A lengthy list of easy ways to save money (they really are easy). Just take it a step at a time and don’t stress it. We weren’t able to just change our lifestyle to meet every single one of these, it took a bit of time. In the end though, you feel better about saving money. Remember, its always better to be frugal because you want to not because you have to.

Thanks for reading! As always, you can follow me on Pinterest to see my inspiration, Twitter to see whats new, and Instagram to catch my photo-a-day. Join me next week, same time (roughly), same place. Live long and prosper!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

23 by 24

Today is my 23rd birthday! Today I look back over what I accomplished and what goals I want to set for myself for the next year. Though I didn't complete all last 22 goals by my birthday, I still feel great with what I accomplished:

1. Read through the entire bible - Still working on it; it didn't exactly help that I pushed this one to the side until the 30 days leading up to my birthday.
2. Watch the sunset at the beach - Check! In fact, multiple times check!
3. Graduate with both degrees - Heck freakin' yeah! I now have not 1 but 2 bachelor degrees.
My 22 by 23 list at the start of my planner
4. Take a big step in my relationship with J - Check! Though we were living together before, we moved into a new apartment and, a few months later, adopted a dog.
5. Do something to make myself proud
6. Jog/ run 3 miles without stopping - Sadly, no. I did do 3 5ks this last year but I still don't feel I quite met this goal.
7. Develop and follow a weekly workout plan - EEeeek! Definitely no where close. I have tried but there's always one reason or another I stop 1-2weeks in.
8. Read 5 books just for fun - 3 out of 5 isn't too bad! I read S, The Magician's Nephew, and Wicked. In all fairness though, I did read a lot more than that in taking 18 credits fall semester and 19 credits in the spring.
9. Journal regularly - Instead of forcing myself to write a page every night, I decided that I'm satisfied with keeping my past planners. Looking back at my previous planners, I get a picture at what was important to me, how I was feeling (stressed, bored, relaxed, etc), and what I was striving for. I did upgrade to a larger moleskin planner this year with more room for doodling, keeping notes, and journaling as I feel the need.
10. Learn to take a quick (less than 5 minutes) shower - Check! Ha, but J can vouch that I don't do this very often. I just wanted to figure out how to do it in times that I'm in a hurry.
11. Learn Yoga - Checkish. I certainly learned how but actually doing it on a regular basis as I had hoped hasn't quite happened yet.
12. Finish all the crafty things I have started - So close! I finally got jars for my sand from my travels and sewn up a few things but I continue to have a wine cork board partially finished, cross stitch patterns drawn up but not started, and crocheted scarves half done. Lets say its a work in progress now that its the summer.
13. Improve hygiene overall (brush teeth, wash face, etc.) - Check! Its embarrassing that at 22 I needed to put this on a list but I struggled with keeping to a daily hygiene routine (though I did use my water pik religiously).
14. Purge the apartment - Check, though when it came time to move, I didn't have much of a choice. It felt good to finally get rid of a few things from my past and make room for the future.
15. Go star gazing - Surprisingly no. Plans are in the making though for this to happen in the next few weeks.
16. Have coffee with my mom - Check! You see, my family moved just before my birthday last year and on our road trip to their new home, every morning my mom and I would have coffee together to update our blogs. It is one of my favorite parts of the trip and I wanted to be sure to have coffee with her when I visited for Christmas.
17. Spend an entire day on myself - Check! At the time, I thought I would be busy everyday, all the time. Now I just have to laugh because I have had almost too much time to myself with school being out. It's a good reminder, though, to make time for myself with life starts to pick up again.
18. Unplug for 48 hours - Check! For our anniversary, J and I stayed the weekend at the beach and just relaxed. The only electronics we used were our phones for occasional navigating and our kindles for reading. It was so wonderful!
19. Volunteer & donate more - Check! J and I spent the day with Habitat for Humanity back in November and I donated blood 3 times (as often as I could, since there's a limit to how often you can donate).
20. Ride my bike to school 25% of the time - Check!
21. Get closer to my goal weight - Eeehhh.. lets just say no but I do feel better about the weight that I am so that's something, right? 
22. Speak positively about self and others - Check! Though I do occasionally fall into gossip or a self-loathing funk, I feel much better about how I talk about myself and others.

Total complete: 15 out of 22

Now for this years 23 goals I want to accomplish by the time I turn 24:
1. Unplug & turnoff for 24hours once a month
2. Pick my own berries & make them into jam
3. Go camping 5 times - Went for my birthday so really 4x
4. Make a new friend - New school, so many new people; might as well befriend on for them :)
5. Lose (at least) 50lbs through a healthy diet and weekly exercise - No more excuses! This is the year to make it happen. I'll be developing this goal more over the next few weeks to find a way to make this goal happen.
6. Create something once a week
7. Get on Dean's list every quarter
8. Get into grad school or get a job utilizing my degrees - I want to go to grad school but I know that life can sometimes take unexpected turns so I want to leave room for those surprises.
9. Go on a long walk or jog with Worf (my pup) once a week - We take him out at least twice everyday but it would be good for his anxiety and my health to get out of the house and just go for a long walk.
10. Start a new holiday tradition & cook a full meal
11. Finish reading through the entire bible
12. Find a home church to attend - I have really struggled with church (and the people in the church) for a while now but J & I agree it would be good to find somewhere to call home.
13. Travel somewhere I have never been - Whether by car, plane, or train (or maybe even boat), I want to travel somewhere I have never been before.
14. Say something positive everyday - Find something positive in everyday rather than dwelling on the negative that can too often take control.
16. Photo a day - Follow me on Instagram to see how I'm doing!
17. Transfer all pictures and music onto an external harddrive
19. Finish an entire puzzle book - I believe this is a bad habit I picked up from my grandmother but I will buy a new puzzle book, do maybe 25%, then buy a new one. No longer! I will finish an entire book before moving on to the next.
20. Write a letter to myself to read when I turn 30
21. Get Tattoos touched up and/or redone - I got both my tattoos a few months after turning 18 and both have minor mistakes that I hope to get touched up this year. I also wouldn't mind getting an all new tattoo but we'll see how that goes
22. Be seen on tv - I know this one is a bit silly but in August, J and I are going to see WWE RAW live and with our great seats that we snagged, we plan on being as excited as can be. Now to see if the cameras catch our smiles.
23. Read 10 books for pleasure - This really shouldn't be a problem since I own over 200 books, either hardcopy or on my kindle (majority of them were free), that I would love to read. I'm thinking of starting with the LOTR series.
Obviously, there are two that are still blank but they will soon be filled in. I'm debating over what I want those last two to be because I want to be realistic with my goals while still stretching myself. Some ideas I'm bouncing around are giving blood x times (I'm going to give blood anyway but do I want that as one of my 23) and/or writing x number of snail mail letters or postcards. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thanks for reading! As always, you can follow me on Pinterest to see my inspiration, Twitter to see whats new, and Instagram to catch my photo-a-day. Join me again soon but until then live long and prosper!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Studying the Bible

A little less than a year ago I wrote about reading my way through the bible after putting "Read the Bible" on my 22 by 23 list (We'll talk more about that next week). You can get the full reading list here or use the YouVersion Bible App (free!). Admittedly I did very poorly and with my birthday 2 weeks away and a few goals left to meet, I got to work. As I was reading, though, it felt pointless to be reading just to say I had done it. I began searching for Bible study tips:
Thanks Pinterest!
Thanks Pinterest!
Of course, the next step was creating a journal for such a quest. Pinterest also has a lot of suggestions in this area but before I even got started, I knew that assembling a journal would end up taking longer than actually reading the Bible. Why do I really want to read through the Bible? If my focus was to be on understanding the writings in their time and place and simply learning, the journal would need to be simple.

Following the Bible in a year plan, I kept notes on each chapter, asking:
  • What (a summary of the chapter)
  • Who (key people/ attributes of God)
  • When (if it talks about a time that the events occured)
  • Where (to put it into perspective on a map)
  • Anything else (aka notes; for anything additional I might want to remember: verses, personal insights, etc.)
I also left the first page blank so that as I filled up the pages, I could keep a table of contents, for when I want to go back over my notes.
Some chapters fill up an entire page, while others only take up a few lines with the summary.
Asking these questions has begun to really put the Bible into context for me. I also printed out a few resources as they came up in my study: Twitter's Chapter a day, Geneology (which I have occasionally to added throughout my study), Tribes of Israel mapConquests of Joshua, Ancient Israel map, and various other maps and timelines. It is amazing just how much more a bible story makes sense when you understand the context.

Its nothing fancy - insightful notes surrounded with beautiful drawings and doodles - but it fits my needs perfectly. I do color code a smidge, just to keep things in order:
Orange = things I learned from looking them up (research)
Red = Questions I have
Blue = personal insights
Purple = Verses to remember

Some miscellaneous other tips:
  • Play some relaxing music to keep you focused
  • Find a comfortable seat but not one you usually sit in for another activity (ex. I sat in at the dining table in a different chair than usual)
  • Be realistic in your goal setting (something I'm still learning)
  • Do what works for you
  • Do it for you and no one else

Comparing the reading I did when I started this goal and when I picked it back up again a few weeks ago, I feel like I have learned so much more using this system of studying. As I read through each chapter, I know that I will be able to go back later and do more in depth topic and character studies, using the information that I am writing down now. Check out these awesome blogs for in depth scripture study journal printouts: The Red Headed Hostess , One of a Kind, and Stone Soup for Five. Taking notes has made the reading that much more meaningful to me and, though it takes a lot longer to get through each chapter, I enjoy the time spent reading.

With only 2 weeks left before my birthday/ dead line I am only 34% through the bible (I started the month at 5% and took a 1wk break to volunteer at a camp with my brother). I'm confident I'll eventually make it all the way through but with July 5th (my birthday!) right around the corner, I'm not so sure I'll meet my deadline.

As always, you can follow me on Pinterest to see my inspiration, Twitter to see whats new, and Instagram to catch my photo-a-day. Thanks for reading and join me next week, same time (roughly), same place. Live long and prosper!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Back again and cleaning up

Okay, I'm back again. I left for the school year for two reasons: 1. I really wanted to focus in on finishing off my college experience strong and without regrets (success!) and 2. I was really struggling financially and no amount of cutting back or diys made it any better. With that said, I'm in a much better place than I have been in I don't even know how long. As I wrestled with if I should continue keeping a blog I had to ask myself what about blogging drew me in. I have concluded that the reason is similar to the career field I'm working my way into: I want to help people. I spend way too much time searching the internet for inspiration in simplifying my life and making it that much more enjoyable. Sometimes I can't find exactly what I'm looking for and am forced to be my own sort of creative so why not share that with others that can't find exactly what they're looking for.

Lets start off easy: 

A simple cleaning checklist for a stress free life

Though I only have pets and a boyfriend, I like my apartment to be as clean as possible at all times but going to school and work can sometimes get in the way. Whether you're living on your own or have a full house of rambunctious kids, finding time to keep your own space clean can be a challenge. First I started with a day of cleaning and what I usually did.  Next, I divided those tasks into days and made a cleaning list that worked for me with items to do daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Finally, I slid it into a page protector and hung it on the fridge. This allows me to use my nifty dry erase markers to check things off and wipe clean at the end of each day.

 Occasionally, I'll go back and move items around or add new to-dos but for the most part, my list has stayed the same. Some weeks, I'm only able to do whats listed for the day but other weeks I go through and do the entire list in one clean-all day.

As you can see, I don't have anything besides the dailies on Friday-Sunday. That's because I know that even if I had something down, I probably wouldn't do it. It also frees up those days to do the monthly and quarterly cleaning when those come around.
I also have a section for groceries and other notes. That way, as I head out the door to go grocery shopping, I can either copy down the list or snap a picture of it on my phone.

And there you have it. My own cleaning task list - nothing fancy or high tec. Click here if you want this cleaning list (don't worry, its free!). Feel free to copy, change, or take inspiration from this as you see fit to your own cleaning needs.

You can also follow me on Pinterest to see my inspiration, Twitter to see whats new, and Instagram to catch my photo-a-day.

Thanks for reading and join me next week. Live long and prosper in the sun!