Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Road Trip

I just got back from a little summer road trip!  My masterminds group and I went on a little getaway about two hours northwest of home and rented an awesome Airbnb place for a couple days.  (By the way, if you're thinking about trying Airbnb, use this link to get $25 off your first booking, and I'll get a credit too!)

Do you ever picture something going one way and then it turns out completely different.  I guess that's how life pretty much goes, isn't it?  But really, I was looking forward to this trip as a chance to just relax, unwind, recenter my goals, and plan out the rest of 2016, and while it was relaxing, it really didn't happen like I imagined.  I had brought three books I wanted to read while I was there (two to finish and one to start) and didn't finish any of them.  I brought along my prayer cards to work on, but didn't even get them out of my bag.  But, I think sometimes God is trying to show you something else.  And I'm still figuring out what all that was.  Maybe I'll let you know when I do.

Trees along the shore of the Amnicon River

But, there was a lot of nature to observe.  We saw half grown bunnies, full grown gophers, deer, tons of dragonflies, bees, and of course mosquitoes, and found all sorts of wildflowers.  My favorite part was Saturday when we visited two state parks.  Amnicon State Park and Pattison State park are both pretty close to each other, and provide lots of waterfalls to see and nature trails to hike.

Foot bridge over Amnicon River

 We also found the cutest little coffee/fabric/gift shop!  Talk about heaven.  A place that sells fabric and coffee!  I need such a shop closer by. 

Also, am I the only one who gets like post vacation blues?  Monday was okay, because there was laundry to do, stuff to put away, and work, but yesterday I just felt kind of blah all day.  I just wanted to stay in bed and nap and by the time I had to go to work in the afternoon, I just wanted to go to sleep for the night.  I think it's all the anticipation and then it's all over, in a few short days.

Anyhow, are you planning any summer trips or fun days?  Shoot me some ideas.


Monday, June 13, 2016

June Goals

I feel like I'm constantly running behind on here! My June goals were all made over a week ago, but I seem to have a hard time getting around to blogging them the last few months.

First, a quick recap of May.  For some reason, May was an abysmal month for me.  Here's what I hoped to accomplish:
  • Spend half an hour writing, three times a week. Fail.  I wrote a handful of blog posts and a few times throughout the month, but not close to this.
  • Walk 10,000 steps three times a week.  Sorta...I came close on this one, but can't be sure because the last week in May, my cellphone died.  Also, in the weeks prior my battery was draining hardcore.  (Probably not a coincidence.) So there'd be times I would take my phone out of my pocket to check my progress only to find it was dead.  
  • Continue to exercise 30 minutes a day, five times a week.  Success!  It's getting harder now that it is hotter, but I try to walk on my lunches and/or in the morning when I get up, and/or with friends, so some days I walk a couple times a day.
  • Memorize ten Bible verses.  I made good progress, but don't have them solidified yet.
  • Finish my prayer cards.  Ah, no.  Not done yet.
  • Increase veggies and decrease grains.  Nope.  I didn't realize how much grains I really eat though, so it was eye opening.
  • Read four books.  Only got two done, which is really putting me behind on my Goodreads goal for the year!
  • Daily devotions and prayer time.  Was doing good, but falling back off the wagon.  I really need to get back in the habit!  Ha!  Typing that totally gave me a visual of Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.  Cracks me up.

And here are the new goals for June, or as I'm taking to call it, "The Month of Finishes":
  • Finish two of the Craftsy classes I'm currently taking.
  • Finish sewing half of the things I've started.  Which, seems very overwhelming now that I've looked through all the half finished projects I have.
  • Finish the five books I've started- or at least decide to not finish them if I'm not interested in them any longer.
  • Finish cleaning my office, which will be easier if I clear out some of the projects.
  • Finish memorizing my ten vereses.
  • Finish my prayer cards.
  • Read four books.
  • Daily devotions.
  • Exercise 5 times a week.
  • Work our a plan for the second half of 2016.
There's a lot on here, but I know clearing up some of this will make more space in my life for new projects.  After awhile, stuff hanging over your head gets suffocating.

And you can follow the link up for The Monthly Goals, or join and share you June Goals.  It's not too late!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Unfinished Business... or Things I Should Have Finished Months Ago

Am I the only one that puts off things that has to be done, but then feels really good when I finally do it?  There's some things I just hate doing, so I let them hang around like a rain cloud, always waiting for me.  So, a couple Wednesdays ago I decided to tackle all this stuff that was hanging over my head- financial paperwork for my home loan, made appointments to get my car realigned (something I was supposed to do after I got new tires at Christmas time), get the oil changed, and set up with a new provider (mine moved) for my yearly physical.  And to cross all this stuff off felt great!  Afterwards I decided to reward myself with a trip to the greenhouse to buy some flowers and herbs, and I planted them that very evening, and then mowed the lawn.  It was a super productive day of crossing stuff off. 

But, it got me thinking, how much stuff do I have hanging over my head in other areas, weighing me down.  I decided to focus on my hobbies. 

And that dear friends, is what brought about this picture:

This is most of my unfinished sewing projects, and all the books I've started but not finished.  I'm guessing there's three quilts, a shirt, a dress (that showed up in very near the same state in a similar post nearly three years ago!), several tote bags, and an apron.  There's five books that I'm reading.  Some haven't been picked up for months. 

And... there's Craftsy.  I love Craftsy.  I've learned how to make homemade bread, how to cook hearty vegetarian, and how make fettuccine from scratch, but I have a tendency to sign up for classes and be all gung-ho, but then not finish them.  So, I have a handful of Craftsy classes I would really like to finish too.

So, I decided it's time to finish what I started and get through some of these projects.  It will clear out space in my craft room, clear out mental space to tackle new projects- because lets me honest, it's no fun to sew in a room full of half finished things staring at you.  It makes me feel like Santa and the Island of Misfit Toys.  And as for books, if they're not that good, I should just get rid of them, and if they are worth my time, finish them.

How about you guys?  I can't be the only one with a crazy amount of works in progress, can I?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June Reading List

I can't believe we're already a week into June and I haven't put up my June reading list yet.  These books have been sitting on my breakfast island waiting for their write up, so I figured it's best just to do it.

I'm still trudging through We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, and while I'm making daily progress on it, it's not the kind of book you want to sit down and plow through on a Saturday afternoon.  Trying to absorb all the history and horror is hard and exhausting.  So, I read a chapter here and there and then set it down and come back to it.  So, I was looking for some lighter June reading.   Here's what I've chosen.

Still Mine by Amy Stuart was recommended by Diane from Book of Secrets.  I found a copy on Bookmooch so I requested it.  Turns out, it's an Advance Uncorrected Proof, which always kind of bothers me for some reason, but I'm determined to not let it and get this book read.  The book itself is a mystery, about a woman on the run, who shows up in a remote mining town and uncovers another woman's mysterious disappearance.  It sounds like a nice straightfoward mystery, and I think it will make a good vacation read

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell is my classic pick for the month.  Someone on Goodreads summed it up as Pride and Prejudice for Socialists.  I'm not sure if that makes it more or less exciting for me to read it, but it does pique my curiosity.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is a novel of epic proportions.  It involves Jesuit priests in space travel to visit alien life with horrific results.  Only one member of the mission makes it back and he refuses to talk about what happened.  Which really just makes me want to know what happens. :)  I received it from A Book Olive in a past swap and while I have some pretty ambitious goals for June, and am not sure I'll get it read, I really hope I do.

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada is a book I selected without really knowing what all it was about.  I thought it was a fictional story of a father who lost his son, who was a Nazi soldier, in World War II, and decides to protest the Nazi regime by posting anti-Nazi postcards around Berlin.  But, it's really based on the true story of Otto and Elsie Hampel, and their grief after their soldier son is killed, and their attempt to stand against Nazi control.  Hans Fallada's story sounds almost as interesting as the Hampels.  He was a writer prior to the start of the Third Reich, and was born Rudolph Ditzen.  (There's even a few mentions of him in Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts.)  He refused to pump out propaganda for the Nazi's and was pretty much blacklisted.  He suffered morphine addiction, was jailed and had kind of a chaotic life, but shortly after the war, he wrote this book.

I'm not sure how light of reading it's going to be and I have even more book goals that I'll tell you about later, but let me know what you're planning on reading this month.  I'm always looking for new titles to check out.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

May Book Recap

So there was not much reading accomplished in May.  The month started out really well.  I finished up my first book only a couple days in, but the next two I picked have been deeper and heavier.  But, let me tel you what I thought of the two I did read.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Morarty was the first of Moriarty's books I've read and I wouldn't be opposed to reading more. I would classify this as a beach read.  There's a little bit of a mystery, a little soul searching, and some reflecting, and a nice resolution at the end.  The premise is that Alice wakes up after falling off her spin bike at the gym and hitting her head only to discover that she doesn't remember the last ten years of her life.  The last thing she recalls is being happily married with a baby on the way, with her and her husband remodeling their dream home.  Now she finds out she's getting a divorce, her sister barely talks to her, her shy, quiet mom is remarried and a salsa dancer, and she has three kids!  It's a good read and it was interesting to find out what happened in the missing chunk of time. I wasn't sure how it would end, but as a lover of happy endings, I enjoyed it.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is taglined as "Some Instructions on Writing and Life" and I'd say that is true.  I feel like Anne Lamott would make a great best friend.  She'd tell you the truth with humor, always be encouraging, and have a fun way at looking at things. This book really inspired me to get back to writing just for the sake of writing and find my voice.  She also gave me new insights and presented a different way of looking at things.  Her sense of humor shines through every page and I found myself laughing out loud more than once, and quoting passages to friends and then listening to them laugh out loud.  I took longer to read this book than I should have, but I really wanted to soak it all in and once I was finished, I felt like I should immediately go back and reread it, highlighting and underlining pertinent parts, but I'm afraid it would be covered in yellow highlighter and notes in the margins.  I highly, highly, recommend it to anyone who wants to write but isn't sure how to begin, as it gives practical advice for writers of all levels without regard to skill.  It's definitely a keeper.

I started a third book, about the Rwandan genocide, and am still trudging through it.  It's hard because it's full of inhumanity and terror and the history of an area I know little about.  It's well written, but definitely not enjoyable or light.  Hopefully, I will finish it in June and can tell you more about it next month.

As for what I acquired- look at that!  Absolutely nothing new!  Feels great to not add more to the to be read pile.

And what about you?  What are you reading or adding to your reading list?  Let me know in the comments below.

2016 Totals:
Read 17

Acquired 20

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Seven Things I Never Told You

I have been blogging for several years now and but to be honest, I don’t feel like my blog is doing what I want it to, and honestly, I’ve changed what that is a couple times.  When I first started blogging, I had visions on monetizing in my head.  I was hearing stories about bloggers who did that for a full time job!

“Oh how fun!” I thought, “Write blog posts, get free clothes, and pepper affiliate links throughout posts and watch the dollars role in.  Good by cruddy job, hello blogging.”  (Okay, I may not have thought exactly that, but I think it was there in the back of my mind.)

But, it turns out monetizing a blog is not for everyone.  I have no problem including an affiliate here or there or giving a shot out to something I love, but it feels fakey-fakey for me, to be throwing affiliate links into every single post.  And most of my clothes come from thrift shops and the Kohl’s sale section.  Plus I live about half the time in scrubs so that doesn’t provide much in the way of monetary compensation.  I hate feeling like I’m encouraging people to buy things they don’t need.  And finally, it dawned on me- (first of all) I don’t want to be that type of blogger, and (second of all) that I didn’t have to be!

So, I want my blog to feel less like a Target and more like my living room.  I want you to feel like you can sit down, pull your feet up on the couch, drink some coffee, and discuss books or baking or sewing or traveling or something deep and abstract with me.  But, since I was initially all about the bling and had visions of dollar signs in my head and since I’m pretty introverted, I didn’t really tell you much about me at the start.  So we’re going to start over fresh okay?  Some of this information may have come up in blog posts offhandedly before, but I’m going to lay it all out as a getting to know me type thing, okay?  Okay!

  1. I'm 33 years old and married to Jim.  We’ve been married for nearly nine years now and I can honestly say I love him more now than I probably did in those first couple years.
  2. We have no kids.  I have no desire to have kids.  I do not hate kids.  I have friends with kids.  But neither one of us wants any kids of our own. 
  3. I have to cats that you probably have seen occasionally in pictures here on the blog.  Gargoyle is a ten year old diluted calico, and Honey Badger is a 4 year old long haired tabby.  They’re spoiled and I do talk to them in baby voices and act like they answer me back.
  4. I work full time, second shift, as a Health Unit Coordinator at the hospital here in town.  It sounds like a glamorous title, but really I’m the secretary for the med-surg unit.  This means if you come to visit a patient, I’m the one at the desk with the nurses that will tell you what room your mom is in.  Or if you call to talk to her nurse, I’ll probably be the one answering the phone once switchboard transfers you back.  I also do the order entry, supply order, running, and calling when I need lab to come draw some blood right away or if a lunch tray needs to be ordered.  Plus other duties as assigned.
  5. I was home schooled for all of high school and part of junior high.  This does not mean that I participated in the National Spelling Bee, or that I didn’t have any books and just had some hippie dippy education where life was my teacher.  I had books, I wrote reports, I took tests.  I also went on to college and did just fine.  I have the student loan bills to prove it. ;)   I did not go to prom or play extracurricular sports, but since I’ve always been an introvert, I didn’t really mind. 
  6. I’m from Wisconsin and love it here (most of the time).  I love Lake Superior and road trips and traveling and getting below the surface of things and finding out what makes people tick.  Even people I don’t especially like, I find myself wondering why they act the way they do. 
  7.  I dream about having a tiny house, and am in a constant quest to downsize my possessions.  I’m also in a never ending quest to visit every used bookstore I see and shop any fabric sales I come across, so obviously there’s some give and take.
And that’s about it for now.  I hope that helps you know a little more about me, and gets things into a more relaxed, laid back place.  So tell me about you, any fun facts?  Or interesting anecdotes you want to share?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Recap of My $20 Challenge

Last month, one of my goals was to spend only $20 for the whole month on things that were extras.  Things like clothes, books, eating out, and snacks, were all considered extras.  I was at $18 on April 15 and I managed to make it until April 20 before I failed.  I crossed the $20 threshold with the purchase of a Mississippi Mud from Cabin Coffee.  And you know what, it was totally worth it!  My husband and I had been appliance shopping in the nearby big town and he offered to take me to Cabin Coffee because he knows it's my favorite.  Mississippi Muds are these iced frappe drinks made with hazelnut and dark chocolate and sprinkled with espresso powder.  They’re like a kiss from the coffee fairy and the absolute perfect ratio of chocolate, coffee, whipped cream, and ice.  Then, I went to Hobby Lobby and got some greeting cards.  And from there, it kind of spiraled.  I went shopping with my friend Lori at the end of April and had to get Mother’s Days’ gifts for both the moms, I found a pair of jeans at Goodwill and a shirt that I thought would come in super handy.  (I’ve worn the jeans once and the shirt not at all.)  And then there was coffee to drink and meals to eat while we were out of town for the day.

All in all, what did I learn from my spending slow down?
  1. What counted against my total relative term.  You'd think a splurge would be obvious to spot.  But my husband questioned purchases I thought of as routine that he thought were going against my totals.  Like my once every six weeks massage.  I really do feel great after having one, but is it a necessary thing?  Probably not. And then there's grocery shopping.  Are dried portabellas a necessity or a splurge?  What about yummy juice smoothies bought with the groceries?  So, I realized I'm spending more than $20 on things that I pick up with the groceries or that I really don't think about that much.
  2. I don't really need much. I spent the month not buying any new books, no internet purchases, no new fabric, hardly any clothes, and you know what?  No one asked me why I wasn’t wearing anything new.  No one asked if I was deprived.  No one asked if something was wrong.  Because no one noticed!  In fact, after a while, I really didn’t even notice.  It’s not like I was running out of stuff at home.  I still had plenty of clothes to wear, plenty of books to read, plenty of fabric to sew.  The only time I really even felt deprived was when someone would order food at work and ask if I wanted to order.  But to be honest, I brown bag my lunch about 95% of the time, so it was more just a reminder that I couldn't order even if I wanted to.
  3. Spending money on experiences is more fun than spending it on things.  I already knew this was true, but tracking my spending more closely made me fully realize this.  Going out to eat with friends was much more enjoyable than buying another thing I really didn’t need that was just going to take up more room in my house.
  4. I have a knee jerk reaction to buy when I see a sale sign.  For example, if I see a cute shirt on sale, I think I should buy it, when really, if I think about it, I don’t even need a shirt because I already have three others that are the same color or style and serve the same purpose this shirt would serve.  I need to be more conscious about what I’m lugging home and whether it’s something I really need or even want, or am I just buying it because it’s a good deal. 
So, while I didn’t live up to my goal of $20, I was much more conscious of how much I spent and where my money was going.  It also made me realize that I do occasionally spend money frivolously and I need to be more aware of what I'm spending on.  I would definitely recommend tracking your expenses for a month or limiting yourself to a certain dollar amount to anyone who is trying to gauge their spending and how they use their money.