Archive by Author

My 2020 Goals

16 Jan

As I mentioned before, I don’t do resolutions. Instead, I like to pick specific and attainable goals to focus on for the year. I’ve been letting the idea of my 2020 goals marinate for awhile and I think I’ve finally come up with this year’s list.

Rather than choosing a word, like “Balance” in 2017 and 2018 and “Thrive” in 2019, I’ve decided to pick a phrase: “Do something about it!” This year’s focus is on being my own problem solver, not procrastinating and pushing myself outside of my box when necessary.

When it comes to my specific goals, here’s what I’ve come up with for this year:

Goal #1: To Get out of my Rut

Specifically: Plan a fun weekend each month of the year.

It becomes so easy to just work-work-work every week and then chore-chore-chore each weekend. If I’m lucky, I snuggle up on the couch with a book or a television show for a bit, but still… I get stuck in a rut. My plan for 2020 is to plan (and look forward to) one weekend of fun each month. I’d like it to be a weekend *away* each month, but I’m not sure if that is sustainable for the whole year.

My initial list includes: a weekend at Kingsmill to celebrate my mom’s birthday, a snow tubing trip, a weekend at my bestie’s house, possibly traveling for a conference, a trip to Universal Studios, beach weekends, and more!

Goal #2: Take Care of Myself

Specifically: doctor’s appointments, annual screenings, dentist appointments, massages, pedicures, etc.

I’m 42 years old, which apparently comes with a bunch of health-related appointments. Just off the top of my mind:

  • Annual physical – once a year
  • Annual OBGYN check-up – once a year
  • Annual mole check at the dermatologist – once a year, sometimes every 9 months
  • Annual mammogram – once a year
  • Doctor’s appointment/labs to keep an eye on my cholesterol – every 6 months
  • Dentist cleaning/check-up appointments – every 6 months

I feel like I’m missing something? Anyways, there are also extra appointments… like next week I get to have two more moles cut off and tested. Then I get to go back two weeks later to have my stitches taken out. If I have to force myself to get poked and prodded, and sliced and diced… I feel like I need to get some annual goal points for it!

The other part of taking care of myself is self-care. This includes hair appointments (cut and color), massages, pedicures and doing my own fingernails. These little things make me feel happy and I often put them off way too long. So my goal for 2020 is to keep up with a more frequent massage and pedicure schedule because it makes me FEEL good.

Goal #3: Improve Healthful Habits.

Specifically: increase our automatic deposits into our retirement accounts, drink more water, incorporate more movement into my day, pack my lunch, exercise, and learn.

Let’s break these into little bite-size goals:

  • Increase our automatic deposits into our retirement accounts: I’ve already taken the first step by having a call with our finance guy to discuss our plans. Increasing the monthly amount for our existing account was easy, as a verbal instruction was all he needed. Now, it’s on to the paperwork for our second account. It’s sitting on my desk and I’m hoping to get everything together and turned in… soon.
  • Drink more water: Why is this one so hard for me? I can literally go days with just drinking coffee and the occasional sip of water with meals, but I KNOW I need to get more water into my system. I have a big cup at work, so my 2020 goal is to drink at least that cup full during the workday, every day of the week.
  • Incorporate more movement into my day: it is very easy for me to sit down at my desk and not get up again for hours. Sure, my iWatch reminds me when I’ve been sedentary for too long, but I’m pretty good at ignoring it. I’ve decided to give myself a goal of doing laps around the office. I initially set 10 laps as my goal, but so far I’ve only gotten up to 5 laps. I’ll keep trying though!
  • Pack my lunch: I spend less money and eat healthier when I pack my lunch, so my goal is to pack my lunch 3 – 4 days each week.
  • Exercise: In addition to just being more active throughout the day, I also want to get back into a gym routine. I’ve already signed up for a 10k in April, so I should probably do some sort of exercise before I run it.
  • Learn: I am a total nerd and I really do love learning. I’m planning to continue checking out lots of random books at the library, and I’d like to take some lessons throughout the year. Maybe do an iSky visit and a cooking class (perhaps one with Jack too!). I also bought myself a ukulele because I’ve always wanted to learn how to play a stringed instrument, so I’m slowly learning how to play!

How about you…do you set goals or resolutions for yourself for New Years?

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!

AR Workshops: Feeling Crafty… Again and Again

14 Jan

I’ve blogged about the AR workshops before, where I’ve made a plank sign, a chunky knit blanket, and then an advent calendar. Each time I go to a workshop I have the BEST time, which means when a friend and/or family member mentions that they’d like to try it out… I end up signing up for another workshop!

{Pssst, this isn’t a sponsored post, but if you want to find an AR Workshop you can find them here: https://www.arworkshop.com/}

Well, I did TWO more workshops in December that I wanted to share with you all!

Welcome Sign

I saw that they had some holiday themed front porch signs and almost chose one of them… but then I thought I’d rather have something I could use year-round. I stained the wood a darker brown and then used off white, gray and moss green for the stenciled accents. Even though my intentions were to lean this against the brick wall on my front porch, I still went ahead and attached the hanging screws and wire to the back of it to give me some options. I also attached a cute little gingham ribbon, which you can see in the last picture.

In progress:

Here I am with Lindsey and her adorable holiday themed sign:

And here are the signs made by my sister (in law), Jaclyn, and her mother:

I initially leaned this in our front entrance area to let it fully cure before I paint it with a coat of polyurethane. But then I decided that I liked it there! So now I’m not sure if this will eventually work its way outside or not.

Jewelry Display

My sister Kelsey came into town for the holidays and she also wanted to visit the AR Workshop (she also realized there is one just 10 minutes from her house in Richmond!). I wasn’t sure what other projects I really *needed* to make, but then this jewelry display caught my eye. I have a collection of bracelets that were just living in a box on my dresser… which leads to me forgetting what I actually own. I thought this display could be perfect for displaying them!

I went with the phrase “Leave a little sparkle wherever you go” and stained the wood dark. Then I chose off white and gold for the stenciled text, as well as the tray accents and around the sides of the display.

In progress:

When everything was dry, I added the jewelry hooks  to both sides and then used the nail gun to put all the pieces together, including the lazy susan contraption on the bottom which allows the display to spin around.

Here’s the three of us with our projects (me, Jaclyn, and Kelsey):

And here is the jewelry display at home all loaded up:

Once again, I had a wonderful time hanging out with everyone at the workshop. And now that I’ve attended FIVE workshops I have enough stamps to do a free project. I have my eye on one for February, so I’ll keep you posted!

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!

My Noom Review

13 Jan

Okay, for those of you looking for the short and sweet point: Noom is a nope for me.

Now, for the longer story…

I was unhappy with my weight around my birthday, so I decided to use some birthday money to invest in 4 months of a Noom subscription. Noom is a weight loss app that you can download. The cost varies based on whatever special they are running, but I think at the time it was like $120 for the 4 months.

Noom is a four-part process:

  • You weigh in each morning and track it on a chart.
  • You log your food throughout the day. It gets divided into green, yellow and red zones to help you focus on eating healthier food (no food is off-limits).
  • You get a few articles to read each day which are designed by behavioral psychologists to help you make sustainable lifestyle changes, rather than being on a restrictive ‘diet’.
  • You get access to a “goal specialist” and a “group coach”, as well as a support group of other people going through the program at the same time.

 Month 1 thoughts (October-ish):

I started out strong. I weighed myself and logged it every single morning and tracked every bit of food that I ate throughout the day. I lost about 4 pounds within the first 10 days and then just stuck there for the rest of the month. At this point, I was enjoying the reading and learning all the little psychological tricks on why we do what we do. I was excited about Noom and brought it up in conversation with my friends (probably too much). After week two, my goal specialist reached out. I was hoping for someone who would really help me feel motivated, but instead he was kind of annoying and each chat felt like homework. Basically, every post ended with a question and it was a little more time consuming than I expected. As for my group, the group coach posts prompts on the page and then only a few people in the group bother to respond. During the first month, I responded to a few prompts each week.

Month 2 thoughts (November-ish):

I’m still reading the daily articles, but I’m finding them less interesting at this point. I’m still weighing myself in on a daily basis, but I haven’t lost any weight. Instead I’m up a pound, I’m down a pound, I’m up two pounds… and it’s pissing me off. I’m still tracking my foods, but not 100%. I find my goal specialist irritating and his responses are starting to feel canned. I ignore him for a couple weeks and he keeps posting “hey, we haven’t talked in awhile and I’d love to know how you’re doing.” I feel guilty, but not guilty enough to deal with him. My group is becoming less active and I probably only post once a week.

Month 3 thoughts (December-ish):

Hello holidays! The daily scale thing is starting to make me a little crazy. I know that everyone fluctuates, but the up and down is starting to wear on me. I’m more of a weigh-yourself-once-a-week kinda girl. I’m still on average about 3-ish pounds less than when I started Noom and with the holiday treats surrounding me that is certainly a win. The articles seem to be getting longer and more plentiful. I’m completely over the goal specialist and the group coach. Both are basically nothing but canned responses and prompts and barely anyone in my group comments at all on our group page. I decide to give myself a break for a week and I don’t log in at all between Christmas and New Year’s. I feel like my brain is a lot healthier when I stop weighing myself daily and tracking every bite.

Month 4 thoughts (January-ish)

I’m done. I still have a few weeks left on my subscription, but I’m so over it. Once again, I feel like a ‘diet’ failure and each time I see the app on my phone I’m reminded that Noom has worked for thousands of people… but not me. I’m in that “I’m too fluffy and I ate too much over the holidays” phase, and I think maybe if I could just force myself to use the app again I’ll do it *right* this time.

Monday comes around again and I do my weigh in and start tracking my food again. By Wednesday I’ve stopped. Putting this much focus on food and my weight is making me unhappy and stressed. On most days I’m still 2-3 pounds down from where I started. Did Noom help me lose weight? Possibly. However, any time I buckle down for a couple weeks and forgo snacks that is typically what I would lose. For free.

When it comes down to it, I know what’s healthy and not healthy. I know I should drink more water. I know I should be more active each day. It’s not magic, it’s just hard. The Noom app didn’t work for me. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace for it. Maybe I’m just not a food tracking sort of person. Any which way, I’m pulling the plug.

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!

Financial Goals: Tips I’ll be Following This Year

9 Jan

Did you know that almost 65% of American’s make New Year’s Resolutions? (source) Yup. And the top five categories for New Year’s Resolutions are: Health (39.2%), Self Improvement (31.64%), Money (29.81%), Love (16.51%), and Career (13.69%).

I’m still working on my 2020 goals, but one of them is absolutely going to be to improve my finances.

I came across a really interesting article in US News & World Report called “Make the 2020s Your Best Financial Decade” and pulled out some of my favorite tips for you (you can find the full article here):

Set Clear Financial Goals

The article suggests that you decide on a key goal or two for the next decade and then break the goal down into steps. For our family, one of my big financial goals is to save more for retirement (which is also one of their suggested goals). When Travis left his last job and started his own business, we rolled over his 401k but then didn’t add to it since we were waiting to see how the business was doing. For our joint retirement account, we have a small amount automatically come out of our checking account on a monthly basis.

Well, for 2020 we decided to bump it up! I already had a meeting with our financial planner and we decided to increase our monthly savings. We started an automatic payment into Travis’ retirement account and we also doubled our automatic payment into our joint retirement account. As for my retirement account, I qualify for a 401k at my new company in June and I will absolutely start adding money there as soon as I am able to. While unfortunately we are not able to top out our annual retirement savings accounts, by adding a little more when we can it will certainly help!

Minimize the Costs of Unimportant Items

The article states that you should try to minimize any expenses that don’t really matter to you and gives the example of buying the store-brand in household supplies. For us, I’ve noticed a huge change when we shop at Aldi rather than our other grocery store. Sure, there are some things that Aldi doesn’t carry, making it necessary to also do a Martin’s run, but for the majority of the items we can save big. I’m making it a goal for us to do the absolute majority of our grocery shopping at Aldi throughout the year.

Learn How to Cook at Home

Everyone knows that eating food you make at home is much less expensive than going out all the time. And we do eat dinner at home the majority of the time on weekdays, only going out on weekends. One thing that really helps me is getting our Home Chef subscription. We had been doing Home Chef about once a month to mix things up. It’s like a compromise between making our own food and going out to eat, because the menus are so diverse and its fun for me to try making new recipes. I’m going to start using Home Chef more in 2020.

Another area for improvement for me is to pack my lunches more often. My big temptation is going out for lunch since I work right in Baltimore and there are so many yummy food options near my office. One of my goals for 2020 is to pack my lunch 4x a week. If a lunch averages $10 – 15, this could take me from spending $50 – 75 per week to just $10 – 15 per week. Based on an average savings of $50 a week, that is an annual savings of $2,600!

Question Every Subscription

The article points out that you might not need a Netflix subscription if you already have Amazon prime. Or you may not need a gym membership if you typically exercise outside. While I won’t be getting rid of our Netflix, Amazon, or gym subscriptions, there are other annual payments that need a closer look.

I recently got rid of my FabFitFun quarterly subscription, and Jack’s Highlights High Five magazine because we realized we could easily cut them. I’m also considering whether I need my Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription, our Amazon Free Time subscription for Jack’s Kindle, or my magazine subscription to Magnolia magazine. By being more choosy with our subscriptions we currently have, it also helps me to decide if it’s really necessary to add additional subscriptions to our monthly bills.

Are you planning to make any small financial changes this year/decade?

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!