Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October Goals

So, September was like the worst month ever as far as goals go.  I didn't manage to reach any of the goals I had set!  First time I've been completely shut out in a month.  It wasn't that I was depressed or that I decided they weren't worth the work, it was just that I feel like my schedule is so jumbled.  It used to be that I'd get up and have about seven hours before I'd have to go to work.  Then I'd get home from work at 11:30pm and be in bed by 12:30am at the latest.  Now, I get up, have about two and a half hours before I leave for work and then get home around 5:30pm, and have about four and a half hours before I'm in bed by 10pm.  It's just been weird getting used to having two blocks of time and most of it being in the evening.  I've also found it's way easier to be social when you're off work by 5:30.  I have something going on at least a couple nights a week after work. 

Anyhow, still working out the kinks of the schedule.  Here's what I was hoping to do in September:
  • Set weekly goals. (Only happened one week.)
  • Quiet time and exercise before computer. (Happened a handful of times.)
  • Exercise three mornings a week. (Nope!  Did do a couple walks after work though.)
  • Read four books. (Only read two.)
  • 20 blog posts. (Nope. Only 8.)
  • Sew 20 things. (Closest I got was picking up some more fabric.)
  • Start Christmas shopping list. (Nope.)
  • Gratitude journal or morning pages. (Gratitude journal happened like twice.)

On to October!
  • Set weekly goals.  I seem to do better when I have a to do list of sorts for the week.
  • Read four books.  (Which should actually be six books, if I want to have a prayer of making my Goodreads yearly goal of 48.)
  • Sew 20 things.  The craft fair is fast approaching.
  • Start Christmas shopping.  I really want to enjoy December and not spend it scouring the internet for gifts and trudging through stores.
  • Clean my office/ sewing room.  It's gotten pretty cluttered again.
  • Come up with a morning routine.
  • Come up with an evening routine.
And that's it, but as discombobulated as I've been, it's going to take all my mental powers. :)

Want to see every one elses goals?  Check out the linkup over at My So Called Chaos.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

October Reading List

So, I'm going to need to read six books a month for the last three months of the year to reach my goal of 48 books read for the year.  It's not impossible, but it's definitely going to take conscious effort on my part.  I'm still hopefully, and I'd like to get even more than six done in October and November so I can take it a little easy the month of Christmas. :)  We'll see.

I should finish Child 44 this week, and then it's on to one of these gems...

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde- Now that I have the next three books in the series, I figured it's time to pick it back up.  I'm a little fuzzy on where the action stopped in the last book, but Fforde usually does a good job of bring you back up to speed.  Thursday Next, the heroine of these books, lives in an alternate world to ours where literary characters are real.  These are funny, witty, and well written, and I'm so glad I can finally pick up the series again.

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood- This is the finally book in the MaddAddam trilogy and I've had this one in my to be read pile for quite a while.  I actually had it on my reading list last November but never got to it.  I'm hoping this is the month.  Fall seems like a good time to read about a dystopian world.

Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott- I love Lamott, but this is my first foray into her fiction.  I hope it's as dazzling and her essays.

Dracula by Bram Stoker- It is October after all, so this seems like an appropriate classic to tackle.  Reading the description on Goodreads made me realize I really don't know much about this story at all.  I've seen various incarnations of Dracula in movies but I'm not really sure I've seen one totally based on the book.

Well that's what I'm hoping to read.  How about you?  What are you reading this month?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

September Book Recap

How September flew!  I ended my job at the hospital on September 9th, and started my job at the credit union on September 12th.  So my whole routine has been turned upside down, but I think it's going to be a good thing once the dust settles.  Unfortunately, all that upheaval caused a lack of reading on my part for September.

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell was unique.  It had three narrators and revolves around two sisters growing up in the slums of Scotland.  Their loser parents wind up dead, and the girls decide not to tell anyone because they'd rather continue fending for themselves than be put in foster care.  Their elderly neighbor knows something is up, but can't quite put his finger on it.  He's determined to help the girls out anyways.  There's a wide assortment of wrenches in their plan, including a drug dealer their dad owed money to, an over zealous grandfather who shows up, and a truancy officer.  Goodreads describe it as "coming of age" and I suppose it is.  And it was good, but there was just something missing for me.  I can't quite put my finger on it.

Silas Marner by George Eliot was my only other read for the month.  This book took me way longer than it should have, but by the time I finished it, I wasn't really sure what all the hoopla was about.  It's a classic, but it doesn't really have anything exciting, or suspenseful happen.  Silas Marner goes from being a miser to a nice fatherly type figure who cares for Eppie's happiness above his own, but I felt like this could have been knocked down to a short story no problem.  Blasphemous I suppose, but I think it's by far the most disappointing classic I have read to date.

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, 
and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki were all part of my Books n Bloggers Swap with Jenni King.  You can read more about it here.

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood was found on a trip to Goodwill.  It's a collection of her short stories, so I'm looking forward to giving it a read.

and at the library used book sale I found:
One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, the author of A Walk in the Woods
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell, which is the sequel to The Sparrow- my favorite read of 2016!

So that brings my year to date totals up to 30 books read, 46 books acquired.  I'm really going to have to have a good fourth quarter to get my goal of 48 books read accomplished, but I do think it's still possible!  How bout you?  Are you on track with your yearly reading goals?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fall Sweet Progress Swap is Open

Guys!  This job change is seriously wrenching up my mojo!  I really like the job and the people I work with, but it's been way harder for me to adjust to getting up and going to work in the morning and then having the evening free instead of having all morning free and then rolling in to work at three in the afternoon.  But, it's getting better.  I've been making lists and working on getting back in a routine.

This week I have lots of exciting blog stuff planned and I'm kicking it off today with the announcement that Happy. Pretty. Sweet. and Mrs. AOK have opened the sign ups for the autumn edition of the Sweet Progress swap.  Remember when I signed up last July for the summer edition?  Well, now we're on to a new season so it's time to get ready for more fun!

If you're interested in joining up here's what you need to know:
  • Sign ups close October 6, so get moving.
  • It's open to USA and Canada.
  • You'll be paired up with another blogger, get to know them, and put together a box of about a $20 value before shipping.
  • Ship your package by October 26.
  • Link up opens November 1st.
  • For more info, visit either of the hosts.  And to join, you just need to fill out the Google form on their blogs.  (Click the picture above to be taken to their blog. 
So if you love fall, get in on the fun!  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Outdoor Entertaining

Living in northwest Wisconsin means you spend a lot of time outside.  We don't have many big cities nearby, but we have plenty of woods, water, and nature to enjoy.  Two weekends ago, I went geocaching with some girl friends and we had way more fun than any of expected.  This week we got together for a campfire and to try out some new marshmallow roasting sticks.

Campfire Collage

Since we got together after work, I wanted to make something quick and tasty for supper.  So, we roasted some veggies in the coals.  I had gotten everything cut up in the morning, so when my friends arrived, I was able to just lay everything out on a tray and let people assemble their packets.  I used precooked sausages, but you can use hamburger or hotdogs or whatever you like.  I also precooked my potatoes because I wanted to be sure they would be done in time.  I also used julienne carrots, shredded cabbage, onions, parsley, basil, and chives.  But, you could add mushrooms, cauliflower and whatever other veggies you desire.  You simple pile your selection on to a sheet of aluminum foil, add a little butter, salt, pepper, whatever you like.  Then tightly wrap it up and bury it in your campfire.

We only roasted ours for about fifteen minutes and as you can see, it was cooked through.  Size of packets and fire temp will definitely affect your cooking time, you also need to be sure your meat is cooked if you use something like raw hamburger.  There's something about cooking your food over a fire that makes it extra tasty!  I'm hoping to get a couple more campfires in before the snow falls.

For dessert, smores, of course!  But, I wanted to fancy it up a little, so I decided to go beyond just Hershey bars and grams.  I also had mini Mounds bars, Rolos, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Brownie Brittle and gluten free crackers.  It was fun trying different combinations and I ate way too many marshmallows.  Tripworthy sent me a box of their roasting sticks to try.  They're telescoping, so they fold up small and have a handy little carrying case.  My first impression was that they didn't feel super sturdy, but I was wrong, they held up great to a night of roasting and the handles are nice and smooth.  While you can buy stronger sticks, they don't fold up and these worked perfectly.  If you do a lot of camping away from home, these are worth a look due to their travel friendliness.

So, what's your favorite thing to roast over your campfire?  Let me know in the comments below.

I received these roasting sticks from Tripworthy in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How to Diffuse Essential Oils- Two Ways

So, if you have any interest in essential oils, I'm sure you've seen those nifty little, electric oil diffusers.  They're great and Amazon sells tons of different styles- ones that look like rocks, ones that have color changing lights, different shapes.  But, what if you're not sure you want to invest in a diffuser?

If you're just getting started playing around with essential oils, you can find soapstone oil diffusers that use candles  for under $10 at Walmart.  You use a tealight candle to heat your essential oil solution and provide yummy, clean smell wherever you need it.  Just, add water to your diffuser's basin, mix in oils of your choice and place a lighted tea candle inside your diffuser.  The heat will help the scent permeate the room.

Using a Candle Diffuser

For a little fancier way to get some natural scent into your living space, you can heat some herbs or fruits and essential oils on the stove top.

Stovetop Diffusing

It's September so fall is coming.  That means it's time to put away flowery scents and switch to citruses and spice.  Bergamont is a great citrusy scent.  It's uplifting, and supposed to relieve anxiety.  It's one of my favorites.  Here's two ways to diffuse it.

Candle Diffuser
10 drops bergamont
5 drops clove
Mix with water in the diffuser, light your candle and enjoy the fresh fall scent.

Stovetop Diffuser
10 drops bergamont
1 sliced lemon (or orange)
1 cinnamon stick
Place in a kettle on the stovetop, simmer on low.

Regardless of which method you use, be sure to keep an eye on them.  If you end up letting all your water evaporate off, you could wreck your soapstone diffuser or end up with burnt lemon and cinnamon stick in your kettle.

I received this bottle of essential oils for free from Tomoson in exchange for an honest review, but all thoughts are my own.  If you are interested in purchasing your own bottle, you can find them on Amazon, currently for $14.50.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Goals and August Recap

We're already 13 days in to September!  It's crazy!  And I'm finally getting around to posting them.  Ugh!  But, I did have them made at the beginning of the month and met with my goals group already, things were just busy at the beginning of the month here on the blog.  So, let's jump right into how August went...

August Goals
  • Reestablish morning routine.  Doing better but still not there.  This is going to be really important with starting the new job and being back to working a day shift.
  • Start back with morning pages.  Ah no.  Like not at all.
  • Walk at least three times a week.  Another big fat no.
  •  Clean eating.  I maybe did a little better, but still have a long ways to go to get that back under control.
  • Sew twenty things for the upcoming craft fair.  Yes!  And have more ready to go!
  • Read six books.  Nope.  Only read three.
  • Four creative excursions.  Yes!  Went kayaking by myself, and spent three different days with three different friends.  Plus, took a little hike on a new trail with my baby brother, so I think this one went pretty well.
  • More blog posts.  I was aiming for twenty, but ended with fifteen, which was still my best month in 2016.

Here's what I'm to do this month:

  • Set weekly goals.  I think I'll do better with my monthly goals if I have a weekly attack plan.
  • Quiet time and exercise before turning the computer on.  I have a habit of turning on the computer and then getting sucked in for hours, neglecting things like my morning routine.  I think this will help turn that around.
  • Exercise three times a week. 
  • Read four books.
  • Twenty blog posts.  I came so close last month that I really want to see if I can do it this month.
  • Sew twenty things.  If I can make twenty things each month before the craft fair, my table will be well stocked.
  • Start Christmas shopping.  At the very least, make a list.  I want to be done with my shopping by December 1 so I can actually enjoy Christmas and all the festivities and not be stressed with shopping.
  • Gratitude journal or morning pages.  Aim to do one or the other each day.
So that's my September goals.  And don't forget to check out the link up over at My So Called Chaos to see what everyone else is working on this month!