Weekend Reflections and Intentions 12.09.2018

What a week! I am EXHAUSTED. It was a really great week, but I feel seriously hungover and depleted today. December is flying by and oh so busy. Last week was a lot of fun, but I’m hoping life in general gets a bit less chaotic these last few weeks of the year.

Shepard got his glasses a few days early on Tuesday! He’s adjusted to them remarkably well. I thought it would be a pain getting him to wear them all the time, but he’s taken responsibility for them like a pro. He cleans them twice a day, picked out a couple different cases to keep in different spots if he needs to take them off, and has generally just happily accepted them as part of his life now. I think he looks adorable in them!

We had a great family night on Tuesday, making perler bead ornaments that Twinkle (the elf) brought us. I never got around to buying us family ornaments this year, but I like these even better.

Trying to be festive, I bought a bag of chestnuts and we roasted them while we worked. The internet told me they had to be peeled while they were still hot, so I proceeded to burn the pads off all ten of my fingers getting the shells off. I legitimately burned all my fingers and it’s caused me quite a lot of issues trying to do EVERYTHING else this week. So annoying! And I thought they tasted disgusting. A few people have told me since that I probably should have roasted them longer than the directions told me, but I have a hard time believing I would have liked them at any level of roasting. Ick.

On Wednesday there was a scheduled late start and I spent the whole day prepping the house for my Favorite Things party. I should have been working on it earlier in the week, but I was too distracted trying to wrap presents. Even though I did most of the decorating weeks ago, the house was finally clean enough to take pictures of it!

Our main advent calendar. Greg gave this to me the first year we were married, I think. It’s held up pretty well! I’ve gotten pretty lazy the last two years and mostly just stuff it with different kinds of Andes candies because they fit the best.

The family room at its cleanest. You can see part of the twinkling white lights Greg and Shepard strung up around the entire room.

Our little skinny tree that brings more festive cheer to the room most of the family spends the majority of their time in.

One of my favorite Christmas candles to light because I love the cinnamon buttercream scent and woodwick fireplace noises. Unfortunately, two minutes before my party was supposed to start this candle set off the carbon monoxide alarm above it. I didn’t know that was a thing, but apparently it is? And because it was carbon monoxide instead of smoke it took me ages to get it to shut off. Fortunately nobody was at the party when it was supposed to start, so nobody had to know! 😀

Still my favorite little part of the house. So happy, especially when I light the fireplace candles. I love all the stockings and the nativity my grandma painted for me.

And my reading corner. LOVE.

My contribution to the party was my big cheese tray. So yummy.

I wrote more about the party the other day, so I won’t rehash it again. But it was so much fun! Annie also loved being in the thick of everything. She was so wiped out by the end that she fell asleep on my friend’s feet!

Thursday was St. Nick’s Day. Greg got mad at me for going too overboard last year, so I tried to reign it in a bit this year. I know it still looks like a lot, but I promise it wasn’t. Everybody got a bag of their favorite candy and a book and the boys each got a box of poptarts and a slap bracelet. The whole family got a new board game and a Christmas puzzle to encourage more family time.

The cats got bags of treats which they apparently are now crazy excited about and kept obsessing over all day Friday. They don’t normally get treats, but now they act like they’re starving to death. Annie too this week. I don’t think she likes the food she has because she almost never eats it, but has been finding tons of naughty ways to sneak people food. She’s really been pretty hyper this whole week. We’ve gone to the dog park every day, but she is crazy wild again by afternoon. It’s kind of frustrating. It’s going to be a long winter.

Greg had an eye appointment on Friday morning and got news that he needs glasses too. He refused to buy them at the huge office markup and ordered a pair online for $35… We’ll see how that goes. Caden is feeling pretty left out and wishes he had glasses now too.

The boys had a sleepover at Grandma’s on Friday night and we had our annual Madison Christmasy date night. It was pretty chilly, though, so we didn’t walk around State Street the way we usually do. Because of lack of non-event parking, we ended up at Lucky’s 1313. It was good! I loved the giant pretzel, which is just our new favorite thing to order anywhere. My tater tots were great too. The wrap was not very exciting. I ate most of it for lunch on Saturday instead.

We stopped at Trader Joe’s before going home since we were in the area. I think I’m finally stocked up on the cookie boxes I wanted to give to a bunch of people this year in lieu of making a ton of my own treats. It was a really nice night. I wish we made the effort to go on dates like that more often.

Saturday was pretty crazy. Greg had to go pick up the boys by 8:15 because Caden was headed off on a birthday party at Cascade Mountain to go tubing. Greg also left at nine to go to an all day gaming party. I was madly working on my (maybe) last batch of Christmas dolls. Then Shepard and I went to the dog park for awhile before heading out to a birthday party he was going to at the YMCA. After dropping him off I had to come back to Columbus to pick up Caden and his friend and head back to the Y for them to swim too. After the party we went to Wendy’s for dinner and then had a low key night with them gaming and me working. The day actually went a lot more smoothly than I expected and I only had to deal with a lot of whining at bedtime. But it was very exhausting.

I started working at 5:30 this morning, desperate to finish up my last six Christmas dolls. I’m pretty disappointed in how few I had time to make this last month. Life is just so busy. I have no problems selling the majority of the dolls I make, so it’s frustrating when I can’t produce up to my own personal standards. But…I just have to be okay with it. I wanted to continue to work this week, but I think there are too many other directions my attention needs to focus on. It took me four hours to finish this batch up this morning and I was stressed out every minute of it. I think I’m ready for the break.

Sunday Intentions

On to this week! I’m feeling pretty stressed out because I find out on Wednesday if I need the bone graft surgery or not. I’ve had this hanging over my head since July, but it’s become a lot more real and overwhelming the last few weeks. We’re starting to feel like even if I do need it, it’s probably not going to be squeezed in this month. Which is a relief time wise, but I’m SO not happy about the potential of starting another year with huge surgery and accompanying medical bills. I’m trying not to stress out about it until I actually know one way or another. But I still feel like I need to be basically ready for Christmas by Wednesday morning and I am NOT ready at all.

My main goal for the first half of this week is to get all the presents wrapped. I’d say I’m about 95% done shopping now. There are just a few more things I need to pick up which I’m hoping to do on my errand day Tuesday. But if I can just focus and get down to business, I think I can do almost all the remaining wrapping tomorrow. If I break out of this funk I’ve been in today. I’ve done absolutely nothing but read and lay around since I finished my dolls seven hours ago.

The second half of the week I will hopefully be excited and relieved to know that I don’t need surgery and then I can finally relax and enjoy the rest of the holiday season! I want to do a ton of reading. A little bit of baking. And I want to start exercising again. With the snow last weekend I drove the boys to school every day this week and I’m starting to feel it. Driving them allows me a no excuse way to head straight to the dog park every morning, but I think we could both really use the walking time too. I’m pretty sure all potential icy spots are gone by now, so I need to get back out there. And if it snows/rains again, I NEED to find a way to exercise in the house and actually do it!

And that’s about it! I will surely post an update on Wednesday after the doctor. Pray for good news!

My Favorite Things

Last night I hosted my fourth annual Favorite Things Party. It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions! It’s a great way to see friends and celebrate the season together in a unique and fun way. It’s also an awesome way to give and get some really cool presents! (I am ALL about presents!) All you do is invite a group of great people over and ask everyone to bring three of their favorite things in a certain price range (I did $8-10 this year) wrapped and ready to give. Provide a bit of food (I always do a mega cheese tray and wine), let everyone else know they’re welcome to bring their own treats if they choose, and then gather and enjoy! After a proper amount of time to linger and eat you have everyone put their name three times on paper in a bowl and go around the circle drawing recipients for each of your gifts and explaining a little about why that item is your favorite thing. It’s really fun, you’re pretty much guaranteed to go home with three really great little gifts, and you have plenty of ideas for other special things you might want to check out later. It always turns out to be a great night!

As I was thinking about my favorite things for this party, I decided I really ought to do a blog post of my favorite things of the year. I kind of have a tendency to get totally obsessed with certain items and I just want to share them with the world! I’ve been considering doing a more regular post on my favorite new thing of the week or month, so keep a lookout for that! 🙂 In the meantime, here’s a pretty comprehensive list of everything I’ve been obsessed with in the last year.

Formula 10.0.6 Peeling Face Masks

This was the first item I picked out to give at my party. I first tried the orange Get Your Glow On Peeling Mask earlier this year when I saw them at Target and picked a few up as little Valentine gifts for some friends. (They don’t sell them at the local target anymore, but you can find them at Ulta and target.com.) I think the peeling masks are so much more fun and feel so much more useful than sheet masks (which I’m not against, I just like the peeling!). This one smells great. I was really excited to see Ulta put out a sample set of all six of their masks this Christmas. I immediately bought one for myself and my party gift. Funnily, my friend Laura is the one who ended up with it – one of the friends I gave the original mask to at Valentine’s Day, who I also gave a set of masks to for her birthday last month because she told me how much she loves them, and she brought these masks as one of her own favorite things to give! They’re great. 🙂

Bones Coffee

So I only started drinking coffee on my 33rd birthday when my mom gave me a Keurig that I wanted pretty much just because the cool robin’s egg blue color matched my kitchen. In the last 14 months I’ve become a bit of an addict. While I definitely love my Keurig for its speed and ease (the boys especially love it for making their own hot cocoa whenever the mood strikes), I’ve really been venturing out into “real” coffee the last four or five months. I don’t really like the way any of it tastes in the Keurig’s reusable cup, so I’ve since acquired a french press, an aeropress, and from a Cyber Monday sale – a little pourover. I think I like the taste from the french press best, especially with this brand of coffee, but the pourover is really winning me over because it’s so much easier to clean (with our plumbing issues I have to try crazy hard to not get ANY grounds going down the drain). Anyway, I think I just came across Bones from a random facebook ad and took a chance on it buying multiple sample packs over the last few months. And I love it! It’s incredible to me how each of the flavors comes through so strongly (I only liked flavored coffees). My favorite flavor is one that they had this summer as a limited edition – chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake. The chocolate, the strawberry, the cheesecake – every flavor was so distinct in every sip. I’ve liked every flavor I’ve tried except perhaps the chocolate orange. But I’m not a huge orange fan to begin with and the flavor was super strong on that one.

Candles from TJMaxx and Marshall’s

The third gift I gave at the party were three little candles from Marshall’s in holiday themed scents. I’ve always loved candles, especially in wintertime, but in the last couple of months I have been seriously obsessed. I have to look at them in every store I go to, but my favorite place to buy them are discount stores like TJMaxx and Marshall’s because you can get the most bang for your buck and most of their candles really smell amazing. My favorite company, and the one they seem to sell the most of, is DW Home. The cinnamon scents are always a sure bet, but I like a lot of their pines and vanillas too. Though Greg is apparently super sensitive to pine scents now, so I’m not allowed to burn them when he’s home. 🙁 If you enjoy candles and don’t want to spend a ton of money on them, I highly recommend checking out these stores. The variety is huge and it changes with every season.

Third Love’s 24/7 Perfect Coverage Bra

I was on the hunt for a new bra for over a year. I tried so many online companies and went to pretty much every store I could think of that sells bras for more (ahem) well endowed women. It was so discouraging. I had heard about Third Love a million times because they’ve sponsored so many of the podcasts I listen to. But I was pretty turned off by the price. Eventually, armed with a good coupon code, I decided to give them a shot. And I will never go back! They are seriously the most comfortable and well fitting bras I have ever tried. I did their fit finder quiz and they recommended a size different from what I’d been wearing and it worked so perfectly. The only downside to Third Love is that they seem to sell out very quickly whenever they have a size in stock. Also, if you need the bigger sizes, this is the only style they sell them in so it’s the only one I can vouch for. It’s taken me about eight months, but I’ve now acquired six of them and threw away all my old ones. These are the best and SO worth the price to have something that fits properly and will last a long time.

Mantraband Bracelets

I discovered Mantrabands when I was laid up after my ankle surgery. Something about the simple cuff with words of encouragement so plainly stated really resonated with me and what I needed during those months. I have four of them now and wear them when I’m feeling a little down on myself or my life. I really like that they come in multiple colors and have so many different mantras to choose from. There have been a couple times in the last few months they’ve even offered the chance to write your own mantra on a band. I think these would make perfect gifts for anyone going through a time of struggle and needs a little uplifting.

Mezzetta Habanero Hot Sauce

This has been my favorite hot sauce for probably the last eleven years. I have very vivid memories of stopping at the only store in Minnesota that I knew sold it on my way home from work before I had Caden. Because it’s been such long standing favorite and I eat it multiple times a week right now, it definitely deserves a spot on my favorites list. I love spicy food, tacos are my true love, and I need a good hot sauce to spice everything up. I’m not a fan of cayenne based sauces, jalapeno sauces are rare and kind of weird, but habanero – the best. Over the years I had a hard time getting ahold of this because it was only available on their website with massive shipping costs. But now it’s on amazon and makes me so happy! It can never, ever go away.

Only Love Today Book

I’ve been reading this book for over a year. Not because it’s crazy long or hard to get through, but because I want to savor each little nugget it has to offer. It’s hard to describe exactly what kind of book this is, but I’d probably call it a bit of a devotional, with less (but not no) emphasis on religion/God. I think it’s an amazing book for anybody who has children living at home with them. Rachel Macy Stafford offers so much wisdom on putting those little lives and your relationship with them above everything else because love is what truly matters in life. Each “chapter” is only a page or two long and I usually read one a day during my morning quiet time. I can’t recommend this book enough!

Cool and Unique Mugs

My coffee obsession has come with a mug obsession. And I’m pretty picky about what I like. For awhile I was mostly using handmade pottery mugs that I picked up at craft fairs. But more recently I’ve gotten addicted to checking out Marshall’s or TJMaxx for mugs. Every once in awhile I find an amazing one – and it’s usually the only one there (like this pumpkin spice llama mug above). I’ve started collecting so many that I only have space to store 10ish at a time, so I’m now fully committing to have an arsenal of mugs to rotate by season! This was definitely my favorite fall find. A few weeks ago I found an amazing Santa one I use almost every day.

TJMaxx/Marshall’s/Home Goods

Okay, yes, I have a problem. Like seriously, an absolute addiction to these stores. I can no longer pass one up, EVER. I think this began when we lived in Minnesota and every month or two I’d drive to the next town over to visit their TJMaxx Home Goods. I’ve always liked stopping by them when I’m shopping in an area with one, but lately – I NEED to go in. Always. When I took my Minnesota vacation in August by myself I went to every discount store in every town. That’s seriously all I did for an entire day. I think I like them so much because every visit is like a treasure hunt. The stock changes so rapidly. Lately, with all the fun seasonal things out, I’ve been going to the closest Marshall’s almost every single week. I can’t stop. I’ve already mentioned candles and mugs are my favorite things to look for, but I also really love checking out the bath and beauty section, the food area, the blankets (they have THE BEST blankets) and pillows, and the small stationary/notebook section. The only areas I rarely look at are clothes, which I guess is the bulk of the store. But there are so many treasures to be found around the edges! I’ve also realized that one day every week or so, tjmaxx.com offers free shipping. Dangerous! I’ve gotten a few great blankets and pillows online that I haven’t seen in store. I’m super excited that they’re currently building a TJMaxx and a Home Goods store right between the Target and Costco I shop at every week in Sun Prairie! I can’t wait!

Bombas Socks

This is a new obsession, but already a favorite. I’ve never been that excited or interested in socks, but with the shifting winter weather I had been getting frustrated with all the lighter weight socks I wore all summer (needed tennis shoes every day for my ankle – lame!). Bombas had so many great coupon codes around Black Friday that I decided to check them out. And I LOVE THEM. Definitely pricey, but they seem to be very high quality, very thick and comfortable, and they offer coupon codes pretty often. I love these so much that (spoiler alert) a lot of people might be getting a pair for Christmas this year!

Frostbeard Studio Candles

My brother gave me this candle for my birthday and I loved it so much! I’ve heard of Frostbeard Studio before, but had never ordered a candle before. I loved that it’s a candle for book lovers (great marketing for book lovers! :)) and it actually smelled amazing. I’ve since ordered a few more in Christmasy scents. The Bookstore one is still my favorite and I really like Christmas in the Burrows. I currently have Bah Humbug lit right next to me. These candles are definitely more expensive, but I use it as a little treat to myself when I’m sitting down at my computer or in my chair to read for a long period of time. It doesn’t appear to be available at the moment, but I’m really hoping to get their Bookworm and Old Books scents sometime in the future.

Coffee Gator Pour Over Kettle

If you’re making coffee in any of the methods I talked about above, this is almost an essential accompanying item. Also – all of those coffee things are really only best if you’re making one cup/coffee for only one person. Which works great for me, but maybe not the best if you drink more than a cup at a time or are making for multiple people. Anyway, this little kettle is so much cooler than microwaving water and trying (and often failing) to get the perfect temperature. This one will tell you when it hits the ideal temperature. I love it! It really works great with the same company’s little pourover in teal that I bought last week.

Scribbles that Matter Bullet Journal

I started a new bullet journal at the beginning of this school year and this is the brand I went with. It’s really so great! The pages are really thick and it lays flat when opened. I’ve tried many other journals that regular bujo’s recommend, but this has definitely been my favorite. I love all their fun color combinations too!

Pentel EnerGel Pens

Last year I was all about Papermate Flair pens. Which I still LOVE and use every day in my bullet journal. But this year I’ve discovered these and use them everywhere else. They write so smoothly and the colors are great. I of course have a rainbow set at my desk and blues in the area of the house where I actually have to sign important things. 🙂

TACOS

Tacos have been my favorite food for as long as I can remember. But it’s only been in recent years that I realized tacos can be soooo much more than seasoned ground beef, hot sauce, and cheese in a hard taco shell. I’ve become seriously obsessed with tacos in all their flavors and forms. Whenever I go on a trip I’m immediately looking for cool taco joints. I went to a few amazing ones in DC this fall. There’s one in Madison called Bel Air Cantina that we all love. I usually eat at Chipotle or Qdoba every single week on my big errand days. I recently bought a tortilla press and figured out how easy homemade corn tortillas are to make. I often whip up chicken tacos for my lunches multiple times a week. I even occasionally eat egg breakfast tacos – and I don’t normally like eggs! I try to make Taco Tuesday an actual thing and try different recipes every week. I have at least six different taco cookbooks. This is my most recent one and I love all the simple yet delicious ideas it has. Tacos are the one food I could never, ever live without. SO GOOD.

A Space of Your Own

I fell in love with our house because of this living room. And because the tv and video games and everything are in the family room at the back of the house, I’m the one who spends the most time in this pretty area (where my computer also is). I realize not everyone can basically claim a room mostly for themselves (and their dog!). But I think it’s so vitally important to try and carve out a little nook for doing whatever makes you happiest. When we lived at our apartment, that was my sewing area. And while I also have a great full sewing room at our house, my favorite area is my little book corner with the amazing gigantic chair Greg got me for my birthday. I try to spend at least a little time reading there every day. Sometimes I just sit and savor the comforting solitude. It’s awesome in December when I also get to take in all the Christmas decorations and candles. This is pretty much my favorite place in the world and I’m so lucky I get to spend my time in it every single day!

BOOKS

I’ve saved my ultimate favorite thing of all time for last – BOOKS. I absolutely adore, love, and lust after books almost every minute of every day. I’ve loved reading for always, but this year actual books in their physical form have become so beloved to me. Granted, I still really like reading on my kindle because it’s easier and more portable and can be done in the dark. But I love BOOKS so much. I want them all. I want to research them, look at them, hold them, shop for them, think about them, read them, share them, gift them. If all anybody ever gave me for the rest of my life was books I would be so very happy. My favorite of the year has been The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I read it back in February, but I still think about it often. It was so fun and delightful and a delicious romance. I know it might not be for everyone, but I loved it soooo very much. I’m so excited for Thorne’s next book coming out in January!

I think that’s about it! I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, but this is a pretty comprehensive list of everything I’ve been obsessed with this year! I would LOVE to hear about your favorite things!

December 2018 Goals

I’ve been having a hard time coming up with goals for December. I like my monthly goals to be measurable so I can look back and clearly see if I met them or not. But measurable in December feels overwhelming and like way too much pressure. My general attitude for December is to slow down and be open to enjoying life in ways that I have a hard time with in any other season. So even though it might be tough to decide if said goals have been accomplished, I’m going to structure my intentions for the month around them anyway.

1. Keep making healthy choices (DO NOT GIVE UP)

I was doing so great with this for about a month. Then Thanksgiving happened. And a lot of Thanksgiving pie leftovers. And a birthday party filled with delightful foods I’d been denying myself all month. And then I started buying awesome unique Christmasy treats and sampling them as they arrive. Then I started eating a dessert – or two – every day. Then the processed foods started creeping back in. Then the sidewalks got icy and my daily steps decreased by at least half every single day and I haven’t found anything to do in the house yet to supplement that regular exercise. In just over a week I’ve hit such a downward spiral and I’ve been losing so much motivation to stay strong and make the choices I KNOW will make me feel better. It doesn’t help that the rest of my family has become a group of nonstop grazers. They snack alllllll day long. I’m trying to put a stop to this and get them to actually eat more at meals, but it’s not working very well. So on weekends when we’re all home I feel very resentful of all their eating when I’m supposed to be saying no. My willpower has faded fast. But I don’t want to give up. My weight has pretty much plateaued the last two weeks. Which is better than going back up, but I still have a lot I’d like to lose. And really, I just want to FEEL good. So even though there are going to be tons of extra parties and treats and get togethers this month – which I’m definitely going to allow myself to indulge in if it feels worth it – I want to be making better choices all the rest of the time. Keep eating good breakfasts that fill me up. Keep making actual homemade lunches instead of waiting until I’m so hungry that I just grab a bag of something crappy. Stay away from the fast food. Try to limit the sugar. Find a way to exercise in the house. Basically, just stay on track and do not give up.

2. Prioritize people and memories

It’s well known that I have a very bad habit of putting my own agenda and to do lists above basically everything else. I want to be better this month. I’d like to be more emotionally available in the evenings and weekends when my family is home. One thing I’m doing to try to facilitate this is to have Twinkle, our elf, bring some family activities to do together every few days. Today he brought four small Christmas perler bead kits because I know we’ll have time tonight to all sit down and work on them together. I’ve also got some new board games, a holiday puzzle, and gingerbread houses in the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to a nice date night with Greg this Friday and there might be time to squeeze in a mini date with each of the boys before the month is through. There’s also tons of opportunity for large family stuff around Christmas. I just want to be present and open to spending time with people and stop revolving my life and energy around things that genuinely don’t matter in the big scheme of things.

3. Be done with everything by December 16th (possibly the 12th)

I usually like to take most of the month off from sewing because there are lots of handmade things I want to do for gifts and get too stressed trying to do it all. Unfortunately, since I took basically all of October off from work, I’m still just so very far behind on doll making. I’m not sure how much more I can do in the next week and a half, but I’m going to try my best. But come December 16th – I’m done. I will officially be “on vacation” the last two weeks of the year. Ideally I would also like to get all Christmas prep done by the 12th. That’s the day I have my next ortho appointment and find out if I need a bone graft surgery before the year is out. I’m praying I won’t need the surgery at all because that would suck. But if I do need it, we’re hoping it happens before the 31st so the surgery will essentially be free since we used up all our deductible in February with my first surgery! I really do not want to start another year with a pile of medical bills. It’s incredibly stressful not knowing if this will happen until the 12th because it’s kind of a big deal and something that needs to be planned around! I’m just hoping to have absolutely all presents bought and wrapped by the 12th with a freezer full of easy meals just so we’re prepared for the worst case scenario.

4. Read. A lot!

December is basically my time for fluffy reading. I just want happy and sweet and uplifting books to fill my life. Most of the books are also relatively short, so I’m going to shoot for 12 books this month. It really doesn’t matter, but most months I read 9-11, so it’d be nice to have it be my biggest book month of the year, and also round out my total books for 2018 at 120. Basically, I just want to give myself permission to sit down and read and enjoy the decorations and candles and piles of blankets and pillows any time the mood strikes!

I think with all the potential uncertainty I’m facing right now, four intentions are enough to keep me busy and focused for the month! I’m sure the days are going to continue to fly by and I just want to make the most of them and feel like my time was well spent, precious memories were made, and I truly lived my LIFE to the fullest – focusing more on people and doing the things that make me happy instead of only thinking about what “needs” to be done.

Happy December!

What I Watched November 2018

Lots of tv and movies this past month! Unfortunately, no new or exciting podcasts or music to write about, so we’ll stick with the screen today!

TV – Alone

A Million Little Things

I’m still enjoying this one. I guess I just really have a thing for solid groups of friends. It amazes me how easy tv can make adult friendships look. If only it were that easy to stay connected in real life.

God Friended Me

I don’t really have a lot of things to say about what I watched this month other than I liked it!

The Resident

Still love it! I’m a little disappointed in Devon’s cheating kiss, but they sure did have some good chemistry!

The Good Doctor

This show just plain delights me. Everyone is so great!

Modern Family

Still trucking along!

Take Two

I finished up the first season. I liked it! Nothing incredible, but still fun and sweet and a good filler show in between my favorites.

Shameless

I’m really losing interest after loving this show for years. I like being able to root for the characters and everyone continues to make so many stupid choices. It’s gotten old.

Splitting Up Together

Another it’s okay type of show.

Alone Together

I binged the second season in two days. Benji and Esther have such a fun friendship. I LOVED the finale when they were almost forced to kiss and were so completely disgusted by it. I hope they really do continue as best friends and nothing more for the entirety of this show.

You

Okay, I’ve definitely reached the point in further episodes where Beck on screen annoys me as much as Beck in the book. I know it’s supposed to, but this show still has so much creep factor that I have a hard time enjoying it. But I’m going to see it through.

TV – Together

American Vandal

We finished up season two. Definitely not as good as the first season, so I understand why it was cancelled. But still an intriguing concept for a show.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Meh. Still meh. Everyone is so ridiculous and annoying.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

We watched the first episode of this new darker Sabrina show on netflix because it was getting so much buzz. Not for us! Too dark.

Bodyguard

So much great buzz around this one too. I liked it, but Greg was bored by it. It did seem pretty slow. I think we’ve only watched two, maybe three episodes. I plan on finishing it at some point.

Daredevil

I’m liking this season so much more than the last one! I’m so happy Elektra is gone. Though as much as I love Wilson Bethel (Hart of Dixie – SWOON), I really have no interest in his Bullseye character, other than that he seems to really be quite the match for Daredevil. I just want more Matt. Always more Matt.

Outlander

Even though it still feels pretty slow, I’m enjoying the current season of this too. Except I feel like Brianna and Roger have zero chemistry. It annoys me.

Movies

Three Identical Strangers

This movie was so sad! I wasn’t expecting that. I had no idea what it was about when we started it and it took such a depressing turn about halfway through. Still good, but not very happy at all.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

I was surprisingly pretty intrigued by this one. Still pretty dumb, but also inspired a lot of laughs!

The Princess Switch

I have a really hard time letting go of what the real people are possibly thinking and feeling while they’re acting. So watching Vanessa Hudgens play two different people with two different accents and then trying to have those same characters do poor accents of each other’s when they switch places – it was highly distracting to me. But I really enjoyed this sweet holiday movie! Definitely a bit cheesy and a very clear demonstration of how people in Hollywood have no idea how people should be dressing when they’re spending all of their time in snowy weather. But it was fun. 🙂

The Holiday Calendar

I liked this one too, other than the fact I found it really weird they kept calling it an “advent calendar” in the movie, but couldn’t title it the same way. But both Christmas movies were a great way to ease into December and start getting myself in the right mindset for the holiday season!

What I Read November 2018

November was a pretty off reading month. I only read eight books. And technically I finished the last one today (December 1st), but I’m going to count it for November anyway. It was another month of starting and stopping so many books. I almost never do that, but it’s been happening so often this fall. I’ve been in such a slump and I hate it. Of the books I did finish, though, there were some very clear winners and a couple of total letdowns.

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman
Rating: 4 stars

I had a Barnes and Noble gift card burning a hole in my pocket the week that this book came out. I love Nick Offerman and figured I’d give it a shot. I think celebrity couples – particularly the ones that seem to have great relationships – are so fascinating, which I’m sure many, many people would agree with! Having the opportunity to get a deeper dive into their marriage was a pretty good reason to read this book. And overall – I liked it. My main issue is that the majority of the book was just a back and forth dialog that was clearly just written directly from a real conversation they had. I think listening to this on audio would have been a more enriching experience, but the hard copy book includes so many silly photographs that you don’t want to miss out on that either. The ideal solution would be to read and listen at the same time. I liked that in certain chapters they were brutally honest and really come across as an authentic couple with ups and downs that just wants to make it work together forever. But there are also chapters where Megan especially seems to just gloss over so many things, that it then feels inauthentic and annoying to me. But overall a fun and fast read.

Something New by Lucy Knisley
Rating: 4.5 stars

I just happened to read about this graphic novel somewhere the same week I found out my sister-in-law was about to get engaged. I immediately ordered it as an engagement gift, but wanted to read it first to make sure it was really as good as promised. And I really enjoyed it! I’m new to the graphic novel world, but I’d say this is a pretty great one. It’s autobiographical to Lucy’s own marriage and relationship history with her husband. She retells their entire history and then gets into everything that happened in the year of their wedding planning. I really liked how she showed how important the wedding was just to THEM and making it their own and in a smaller budget was super important and doable. I definitely agree that this will make a great gift to any newly engaged couple!

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
Rating: 2.5 stars

This was an interesting “novel.” I’m always on the lookout for books with unique formats and I love photography, so I was really curious about this book when I read about it somewhere online. I got it from the library and read it in about half an hour. There are almost no words to this story, just a variety of photographs and photos of memorabilia and a few newspaper articles. While I was intrigued by the visual telling of a story, I was also a bit confused about what actually happened. I need a bit more clarity in my reading. The concept was unique, but not enough depth for me.

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
Rating: 2 stars

This was my 100th book of the year and quite a disappointment. It’s another example of a very popular book that I really did not enjoy at all. It’s supposed to be a psychological thriller, but I didn’t find anything about it captivating or keeping me turning the page. The characters seemed ridiculous and unbelievable and I couldn’t stand it any time they had dialog. Overall, this book was just not for me.

Pines by Blake Crouch
Rating: 3 stars

I have heard so many great things about the Wayward Pines series that my expectations were set too high. Granted this was just the first of the trilogy, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. The main character was just constantly being thrown into life threatening situations and had to keep running for his life, while also being super confused. I thought the book felt a little disjointed and I still can’t understand the whole suspending life thing. I’m sure I’ll eventually pick up the second book, but I’m not in any hurry.

Never Never: The Complete Series by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
Rating: 4 stars

It took me a really long time to figure out that I hadn’t read this series. I’ve read everything by Colleen Hoover, but couldn’t understand why I hadn’t read this when it came out years ago. I was searching my book database and couldn’t find it, so I finally picked it up. And, I’ve read it. But I realized by book two that I had only read book one – now it’s sold as a completely trilogy in a single book. Anyway! While this collaboration wasn’t quite as good to me as Hoover’s other books, I enjoyed it, for the most part. I didn’t like Charlie’s character much and I found it stressful how the characters just kept losing their memory every 48 hours and AGAIN and AGAIN we had to go over them re-learning everything. I liked Silas, though, and enjoyed the ending.

This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel
Rating: 5 stars

I really loved this book. But it took me an extremely long time to finish. It’s about a family with five boys and the youngest is transgender. The book jumps around a lot, but mostly focuses on when Claude/Poppy first decides he wants to become a girl at age 5 and when things start getting a lot more complicated when she is 10 and the secret is out. All the characters in this book were so endearing and wonderful. I loved reading about their family life and the focus of the book gave me a lot to think about. Which is probably why it took me so long to get through. I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this, though, after all the buzz about it last year. I think it’s one of those books that everybody should read to enhance your perspective on issues like these that are happening everywhere, but so rarely talked about. Also, I really love this new paperback cover above. I think there was something about the peeled orange on the original cover that really turned me off from ever wanting to pick it up. Covers sometimes DO matter!

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise
Rating: 4 stars

In recent years I’ve become really obsessed with book research. I LOVE going to actual bookstores and looking through books, but find it nearly impossible to actually purchase a book without doing some research and reading reviews. Sometime in the last few years I decided to stop trusting the blurb on the back and my initial reaction to it. And I think it’s kind of been my downfall. I’ve been looking back on the books I’ve read this year, searching for gift ideas and thinking about my end of the year best book post I’ll be writing later this month. And honestly, it just hasn’t been that good of a reading year. Fiction especially has disappointed me time and time again. And I think it’s because I’m putting way too much stock in what other people have to say about a book instead of simply trusting if I’ll like it or not. Anyway, all that to say, I found myself at the library this week picking up a few reserved Christmas books I wasn’t able to get on my kindle. I rarely look for books at our library because it’s teeny tiny and I feel like people are always watching me, or I’m in the way because my favorite YA section is crammed up against all the tables where everyone sits. I don’t feel comfortable browsing there, so I just don’t. But since I was there – we were all there, actually – I took a stroll through the YA section and this one jumped out at me. And I really liked it! Sure it’s not going to be for everyone, but I love YA, I love sweet romances and first loves that end in a very well timed perfect kiss. The premise of this one got a bit crazy for awhile, but I thoroughly enjoyed the main group of characters and the friendships that stuck through thick and thin. I definitely recommend it.

And that’s it for November. I’m really looking forward to a lot of sweet, light, romantic holiday reads in December. Though I’m also planning to stick in a few more serious reads I picked up as gifts for people, but feel weird about giving unless I can personally vouch for them! AND big news – Colleen Hoover has a new book coming out on December 18th!!! This was a surprise after seeing her in August when she said she hadn’t had time to write all year because of the first Book Bonanza. Anyway, I’m hoping to make reading in general a much bigger priority this month!

November 2018 Reflections

Happy end of November!

I’m so behind in my posts, I decided to just go ahead and do my monthly recap instead of trying to remember what I did every day the last two weeks and just write about that. It feels a little irrelevant and boring at this point. Or maybe always?! 🙂

Looking back at my goals from the beginning of the month, I was planning for a slow November. It was far from slow! Something about this school year, or this fall, seems busier than it’s ever been. We’re constantly running around, seem to have things going on almost every night, and I am just crazy busy trying to balance everything during the day. It’s so exhausting. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or this is just the season of life we’re in right now and I need to learn to deal with it. I’m really hoping winter will finally quiet down. Because I’m terrified of walking on potentially slippery ground EVER AGAIN, I think winter will be quiet just because I’m going to flat out refuse to go anywhere!

Anyway, here’s a quick recap on the goals I was aiming for in November. I think I did a pretty great job this month!

1. Write EVERY DAY

Well, I gave up on this one in the middle of the month because it was stressing me out and putting too much pressure on my already overloaded mind. It’s funny how by giving myself permission to prioritize writing, I suddenly had very little interest in doing it. I’ve just been too busy to even want to stop and get my thoughts down. But…it’s okay. I guess this is why I’m not a career writer. Maybe that is never meant to be.

2. Stop eating fast food for the sake of having a fast meal

This has been really tough, guys. This whole weight loss journey I began about five weeks ago has been A STRUGGLE. So many emotional ups and downs. So many days of the scale going up and down. As of today, 34 days after I started, I’m down 8.4 pounds. Which is great, I think! My goal was to lose 10 pounds by the end of January, so I’m doing far better than I expected of myself. But most of the loss was in those first few weeks when I was using Noom and Lose It. I’m proud of myself for still going down now that I’m doing everything totally on my own without counting calories, but the changes day to day feel very insignificant. Anyway, I definitely have times of being totally hangry pretty much every day. I miss eating  what I want, when I want, and not thinking about portion size. I REALLY miss grabbing fast and easy food choices when I’m out running errands and feel like I’m starving. I realized that I just can’t have a full shopping day and expect myself to still come home and take the time to make a healthy late lunch for myself. So once a week I’ve been going to Qdoba or Chipotle which feels like a very worthy reward for being pretty good the rest of the week. And since errand days are always the days I get the most steps, I feel justified in splurging for the extra calories. As for actual fast (fried) food, I’ve only had it once. I planned it, which was within the rules I set for myself. I ordered a chicken and waffle sandwich from KFC. And it was SO not worth it. I’m going to stick with this goal for next month too. I just want to remember how crappy I feel after eating certain foods and drill it into my brain that it is not worth feeling like crap just for the convenience of something fast I can eat while I drive back home.

3. Finish 75% of my Christmas shopping

Okay, I’m not going to do the math, but I’d guess that I’m at least 90% done!! It’s been a pretty crazy two weeks of doing research on what to get everyone, finding the best deals, trying to take advantage of all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. But with the exception of a few small filler gifts, I’m basically done. With everyone! I’ve been a bit overwhelmed, though, because when you do all your Christmas shopping for about 25 people – most of them needing multiple gifts – in a week and a half, all of those gifts start showing up at your door at the same time. Part of the reason I feel like I’m getting absolutely nothing done this week is that every single day a massive pile of boxes is delivered to my door and I need to figure out what to do with all of them. I did a round of wrapping earlier this week to try and further get ahead of everything, but it’s just A LOT to deal with. But when it’s all done, hopefully within the next week, I will be SO relieved to just sit back and relax and not have to worry about gift buying anymore in the month of December.

4. Write a Book Bonanza reading list

This is probably one of the easiest and most enjoyable things I’ve assigned myself, but I haven’t done it yet. There are maybe around 120ish authors who will be at Book Bonanza in August, and I’ve at most read books by 5-8 of them, I’m guessing. I’d really love to do a quick search on every author and find at least one book of theirs I’d like to read by the time I head to Texas in August to meet them. I suppose the month isn’t over yet, but I did buy my Book Bonanza ticket almost three months ago, so I really need to get going on this list!

5. Have a meaningful date with Caden

We did this! A few weeks ago we went to The Mineshaft and shared a huge pile of appetizers followed by games in the arcade. It was really nice! I want to make this a more regular part of our monthly routine.

Reflections on the last two weeks

Treat your delivery drivers

I heard about this idea last year from Jessica Turner at The Mom Creative. You fill up a box of treats (ideally food AND drinks, but the drinks are too risky in the below freezing temps most days around here) and leave it out for all your delivery drivers. I started a this a few weeks earlier than last year since all of my packages have already been rolling in. I also got a cover this year because last year the squirrels realized that box of snacks existed and raided it every single day, leaving food wrappers strewn around the neighborhood. Anyway, I think it’s just a really fun thing to do. Maybe they’ll take something, maybe they won’t, but at least the gesture means something. My dad has worked at FedEx my whole life and I know how insane this time of the year is for all delivery workers. I hope that getting a little treat when they stop by our house brings a joy to their day! And because I love variety, I have about ten different options in that box and try to switch things out every few days, taking note on what gets eaten the most (Little Debbies) and make sure things like that are in stock. 🙂

Pre-Thanksgiving date night

Exactly one month after I left DC, I saw Dianne and Jack again as they were in town visiting her dad for Thanksgiving. It’s nice that she can always kill two birds with one stone when she’s in the area and make some time to see me too! The four of us went out for Mexican the night before Thanksgiving. It was fun! I wish we could do couple dates more often.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving began the way every holiday begins – with a sick child. Caden, who rarely gets tummy sick, was rolling around with a bucket and moaning and groaning. He sort of spit up once and then laid in bed all morning, while we tried to decide what to do. Seeing as he seemed to be getting better, we continued on with our initial plans.

We always have Thanksgiving at Greg’s parents’ house and my parents come too, so we don’t have to eat two meals anymore. Shepard and I worked on this gingerbread turkey before the meal.

I was in charge of desserts, like I always am (and am thrilled about!). I always try to make my most unique things for Thanksgiving that still kind of fit the traditional offerings, but with a few twists. This was an apple gouda sage pie. The gouda was in the crust and I didn’t taste it at all. I only put in half the sage because I don’t like sage, but I couldn’t taste that either. But…it was a really good apple pie!

This was a triple cherry pie with a chocolate crust. My dad told me I ruined it with the chocolate crust and refused to even taste it, which is kind of a shame since I halfway made it for him because I know he loves cherry pies. But Greg also loves cherry pie and this was his request. Of course the recipe called for fresh cherries, which you will not find in November! I used frozen cherries, twice the amount called for, and it was kind of a juice explosion disaster. But if you only ate the top crust and a scoop of the filling it was delicious! And I normally don’t like cherry pie at all.

I only planned to make two pies since our group was pretty small this year, but I was so worried about the cherry pie being too juicy to eat that I stayed up late to make this black bottom peanut butter mousse pie. I added a bit of salt to each of the layers and it was PERFECTION. In retrospect, three pies for six eating adults (the boys didn’t have any) was definitely overkill. But as we’ve already established in this blog post, I love variety!

Shepard showing off the themed desserts he made on Wednesday night with my mom. He was very proud of them!

A moment of calm in the midst of a pretty trying day with a certain child. I know he wasn’t feeling the greatest, but he was also still being the way he is at basically every family gathering these days. It was rough. It’s ALWAYS rough.

And finishing the evening with some Thanksgiving Mad Libs and clay art projects with Shepard and the grandmas and me. I love how much of a kick he gets out those stories! Overall, it was a very nice Thanksgiving and I am forever thankful that I’m not responsible for the turkey or the sides!

Black Friday

I had big plans to work together to get the house fully decorated on Friday. But Thursday was so difficult with Caden that Greg decided to go into work so he didn’t have to spend the day with us. I still really wanted to get the tree up, but of course I had a few other things I really needed to do first (shopping!). Shepard was very impatient with me and started the tree on his own. He gave up right after I joined him and I ended up doing pretty much the entire thing myself. The boys spent the rest of the day playing with their friend while I decorated and cleaned.

After dinner we all went down the road to the Christmas parade! It’s really like the tiniest parade that has ever existed, but so many people show up and the atmosphere is festive and fun. Afterward Santa and a few people make a super long speech at the library that I have never been able to hear a single word of – I have NO CLUE what they talk about for so long every year. But then Santa lights the Christmas tree and everyone cheers.

Since everyone was actually in a good mood after the parade we powered through and finished decorating the tree. Greg and Shepard also put up the smaller tree in the family room and went crazy hanging twinkling white lights around the entire room. Our main tree shifts positions in the living room every year, but I really like this year’s placement. I have a perfect view from my big reading chair to the left.

Work Stuff

I spent a lot of time debating how to make sales over the Black Friday weekend. I decided to stay up late Thanksgiving night to finish these 12 ornament dolls. I offered one free with every order placed on Friday and Saturday. On Small Business Saturday I added an extra 15% off. I had exactly 12 sales on those two days so it worked out perfectly. On Cyber Monday I offered 25% off everything and made a giveaway doll that every sale for the day got entered in to win. Overall, it was very successful. I’ll probably do the same series of sales next year. There were a lot of people who wanted to just outright buy the ornament dolls, though, so this week I’ve been working on a batch of 24 of them to list for individual sale. I’ve just been so busy with other stuff I’m still not done with them.

McKenna’s Birthday Party

On Saturday night we went to my goddaughter McKenna’s 6th birthday party. It was also her sister Alaina’s 3rd birthday party – they have the same birthday. It was so fun to hang out with them! But also really sad that it’s been an entire year since I last saw her. This year just flew by.

Such a happy and fun little girl!

House Stuff

One of my totally random purchases in the last few weeks were new shades for our living room. Before we had a pretty translucent white curtain that was broken and couldn’t properly be opened (See tree pic a few paragraphs earlier.). It definitely looked a little bare at first, but I LOVE this new upgrade. I got the light filtering shades so it’s still pretty bright in here even when they’re closed. But I also feel like we finally have a lot more privacy in this room in the evenings, which makes me really happy. Unfortunately, that big curtain was also hiding a bunch of paint that peeled away when we put those plastic window sheets on our first winter here. I was really hoping to immediately patch all that up this week, but again – NO TIME. I’m hoping in the next year or two we can replace all the regular blinds that are left in the house with shades like this. They just look so much nicer.

Other Decorating

It’s taking me so much longer than I’d like, but I am very slowly making sure the rest of the house is decorated and ready for Christmas! One of my completely unplanned for Black Friday purchases was this little Christmas tree for our room. I love it so much! This is the first tree that I was ever able to pick out – not a hand me down or one we got on super clearance because it was the only one available. Putting this tree up inspired me to finally clean up our dresser top and reorganize my whole makeup area. Our room is looking very spiffy right now!

Edible Slime

Shepard saw a video the other day of people making edible slime and insisted he had to do it too. I bought the ingredients he told me to (gummy bears, cornstarch, sugar) and he and Greg made it. It looked so gross!

I’m not sure I’d call it a successful experiment, but they certainly had a lot of fun doing it! What a sticky mess, though!

End of the Month, by the Numbers

  • I worked about 61 hours this week over 21 days. Most days just 2-4 hours which is pretty realistic for what I can fit into my schedule right now. I’m still hoping to someday just have a normal work at home DAY and not work on nights or weekends at all. But I haven’t figured out how to do that yet!
  • I took Annie to the dog park 13 times. Our number is going up because I’ve been driving the boys to school more often with the cold or snow or their inability to get ready on time. If I’m already in my car with Annie it just makes more sense to get a little dog park time in!
  • I ate at restaurants 9 times this month. Better than last month’s 15, but still feels like a lot. At least I know my choices this month were a lot healthier.
  • I know they were healthier because I concluded that I “felt good” 22 days of the month. In October I only felt good in my body 9 days of the month. That’s a lot of progress!
  • I felt like I did some sort of nourishing self care 13 days of the month. Not so great. I’m hoping that number will jump significantly in December and I stop letting my to do list stress me out and rule my life and happiness so often.
  • I had a pretty even amount of quality time with Greg, Caden, and Shepard this month. I had 3 days of friend quality time.
  • My average happiness rating for the month was 6.7, only a tiny bit higher than October’s. I’m not very generous in my rating system – I’ve never given myself a 10/10 day. But I did have a lot of 7-9’s this month.

And that’s it for November! Happy December!!

 

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 11.18.2018

The weekend is already almost over! They usually seem to drag on and on around here, but this one went mighty fast. This whole week has been fast as November zooms on by. It wasn’t a particularly exciting week, but I did have a few interesting things to share.

I wrote about it a little in my last post, but on Monday I made the official decision to stop counting calories. It seems to be going pretty well overall. I’m down 7.2 lbs since I started trying about three and a half weeks ago. Progress has definitely been slower after the initial two weeks, but most days the scale is still going down tiny bit by tiny bit, so I must be doing okay with keeping myself in check. I’ve had a few lapses (see my restaurant dinner below!), but nothing I felt I had to beat myself up over either. My biggest problems continue to be feeling like I’m starving to death while surrounded by my biggest temptations when I’m out of the house and running errands for long periods of time. I know there are definitely things I can do to try and avoid that happening, but it’s still pretty rough. That’s when I get crabbiest. But just general meals every day have been going pretty well. I’m trying to keep my portions in check and avoid excess snacking and only have one (or none) very small dessert a day. I’m hoping if I continue to focus on what my body actually needs and make my decisions based on what will make me FEEL better, I’ll continue to lose weight and get healthier.

That being said, I did plan a Qdoba lunch for myself after running errands on Monday morning. I even got nachos, which are probably about the least healthy thing you could get there! But I avoided all the temptation filled aisles at the stores, ate a very low calorie breakfast, and planned a light dinner to compensate treating myself at lunch. And the next day the scale dropped some more! It helps to know that I don’t need to deprive myself ALL the time. I just need to not eat like that every single day!

Okay, enough weight loss stuff! Monday was just a super active day with errand running and doing things around the house. Then both of the boys’ evening activities were cancelled due to teacher illness, so we ended up having a quiet night in.

On Tuesday morning I took Annie to the dog park. We were the only ones there, but she was having the time of her life! Just nonstop running as fast as she could the entire time we were there. It brings me so much joy to see her so happy and in her element! I love going on walks because it gets ME more exercise, but letting her just run and play unrestrained is the best. I even decided to do a little hiking around on my own, walking laps around the park. The dog owners often do that, but it’s been quite a struggle for me since I broke my ankle. All the uneven ground and big hills. I was definitely sore on Wednesday because of it, but I was proud of myself for making the effort!

On Tuesday night I had my date with Caden! We went to The Mineshaft in Hartford. It was about a 40 minute drive, but I think it was worth it. 🙂 We settled on sharing a giant soft pretzel and an appetizer platter with chicken tenders, haystack onions, and mozzarella sticks. I really should have made a better choice with the mega platter of fried food, but the pretzel was AMAZING. I will definitely be back someday to get another pretzel. Best I’ve ever had. The spicy cheese sauce that came with it was also fantastic.

The reason I picked this restaurant was because they have a huge arcade on the second floor. So after a really nice meal in which Caden shared more about his school life (which he NEVER talks about at home), we went up and bought ten dollars worth of game tokens. I assumed he’d want to play more than that, but he was pretty content to just use it up and then be done. He asked me to play a Pac Man battle game with him and he used the rest on his own. When we were picking out prizes with all the tickets he won, his first thought was to decide on what he should get Shepard. I love when that sweeter side comes out. It really was a great night and I hope I can follow through with making this happen every month. Or at the very least, every other month.

I went back to the dog park on Wednesday morning and Annie had the greatest time wrestling with a dog we hadn’t met before. They were so evenly matched for playtime. I just stood there and laughed at them for a solid half hour. I spent the rest of the day just working.

Thursday I was supposed to be working and I ended up spending a huge chunk of time working on Christmas present shopping and doing other things online. This is why I try to get my shopping done in November – it’s such a distraction to me! We have so many people to buy for and it just weighs on me until I get it done. I LOVE getting presents, but having such an overload all at one holiday is a bit overwhelming. I’ve made a ton of progress in the last few days, though!

We had an at home date night Thursday evening. It was pretty lame. Like super lame. Next week when we’re back to normal schedule, I’m insisting on a real date out of the house. Hold me to that!

On Friday morning I FINALLY finished up those custom order dolls and shipped them out. I can’t believe it took me all week. I also finished up this single doll that’s still available for sale! 🙂 I LOVE this huge size doll. But I can’t make them often because people don’t usually want to spend that much money on one.

Right after I finished the dolls, my mom came over for coffee! I wanted to show her my french press and aeropress and share some of my favorite Bones brand coffee with her. We hung out and had our coffee and then went on a mini shopping morning. The apple orchard I like to go to was having a holiday craft fair, so we stopped at that first. Then checked out two local stores we don’t get to often. It was a really fun morning! Exactly what I needed after a somewhat stressful couple of days.

Friday night I gave myself a real break! I had a pile of books, two of my babes, all the candles lit, and read in my chair. It was so wonderful. I want every night to be like that. Every night WILL be light that starting next week when the Christmas tree is up in the place of where that little chair is!

Saturday morning was pretty lazy. Then in the afternoon we were invited to a friend’s board game party. The four of us went over. I just hung out, but Greg had an awesome time playing games well into the evening. Caden and I left late afternoon because I had some things I needed to get done around the house, but Shepard and Greg stayed until bedtime. It was nice to be invited to something and have some unique social time.

Today has been pretty laid back too. Greg worked on Caden’s room for awhile (I cleaned Shepard’s room last weekend). I went to the dog park again – Sunday mornings are usually pretty busy which is a nice change from the weekdays when we rarely run into another dog. Then I took a nice nap and we headed over to the in-law’s house for dinner. Cindy and I ran over to the local candle outlet first and I bought yet another candle. I seriously have an addiction this fall. I want candles lit ALL THE TIME. Cozy overload. And now we just got home, had some shower battles with the boys (showering is apparently THE WORST), and now Shepard and I are ready for some Great British Baking Show before he heads to bed.

Sunday Intentions

My main intention for the week is to just go with the flow, don’t put too much pressure on myself for production, and enjoy family and friend time. I’m definitely a little bit stressed out with how few Christmas dolls I’ve made so far and would love to knock out a batch this week. But realistically I know it’s probably not going to happen. And I just have to be okay with that.

Monday will be errand running, as usual. I still haven’t made my grocery list or even made a final decision on my Thanksgiving desserts. I’m sure that’ll take most of the morning and then I’ll take my usual nap and make a fast dinner between the boys’ activities. Hopefully I can at least start a doll batch at some point tomorrow.

Tuesday will hopefully be a full work day. No other plans.

Wednesday is just a half day of school, which will zip by. I want to make my Thanksgiving desserts right away in the morning to get that done. Then in the evening Dianne and Jack are in town, so we’re going out to dinner while the boys and Annie spend some time with my mom. That’ll be a fun night!

And Thursday is Thanksgiving! I’m hoping to go on a long walk and/or take Annie to the dog park for a long time in the morning to burn some calories and energy. She’s coming along with us on Thanksgiving this year, if I feel like she’ll be calm enough in a new house! We’ll head over to Greg’s parents’ midday and enjoy Thanksgiving! My parents and brother will be joining us over there so we only have to eat once. I really enjoy this tradition we started a few years ago making the day a bit less chaotic (and food stuffed) for the four of us.

And I’m really looking forward to decorating our trees on Friday! We have the local Christmas parade in the evening. Probably more decorating on Saturday and my goddaughter’s birthday party in the evening. All in all, it should be a really enjoyable week that I am definitely looking forward to.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mid-Month Check In

One of my top goals for the month was to challenge myself to write something every day. I thought that the challenge would inspire me and actually get my creative juices flowing because I had permission to write before and above all else every single day this month. Usually, writing is pushed aside, even though it’s the thing I want to do the most. But when I’ve been giving myself the chance to make it a top priority? I suddenly have nothing to say.

The biggest struggle has been actually putting it first. I keep assuming that if I wait until evening I will have thought of something amazing to talk about by then. Instead I’m exhausted, my brain hurts, and writing is really the last thing in the world I feel like doing. I’m also highly distracted by the fifty other things I hadn’t gotten to yet that day and hope to squeeze in before bedtime. Writing under those circumstances is not enjoyable or affirming. It’s just another task on my to do list.

Overall, I’ve found myself just about as dissatisfied with life as I was in October, when I basically took most of the month off from work, thinking that was the source of my anxiety. And it really is still a pretty large contributing factor. I just do not feel like I’m producing enough and I can’t understand why. I guess if pressed for a solid reason, the answer is probably that I used to spend every waking minute sewing. I’d easily sew 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. Aiming for more balance in my life, now I’m lucky to get in 5 hours a day and I try pretty hard not to work much on weekends. I think it’s better to live this way, but it doesn’t change the fact that I used to make maybe 20 or more dolls a week and right now I’m struggling to even get a handful done. Last week I made six. This week it appears I’m making four. And most of those ten were custom orders – which is obviously still money in my pocket, but it leaves a huge amount of customers anxious and waiting for Christmas dolls that should have arrived in the shop by now and haven’t. It makes me wish I hadn’t worked so hard all those years (when it didn’t feel like work because I genuinely loved giving all of my time to it) because I set myself up with unrealistic expectations for how much I can produce in a week, now that I’m trying to find more balance in my life with everything else going on.

Another source of frustration is my lack of making self care a priority. I wrote about this last week, but I’m doing a pretty poor job of living that way myself. At night when I fill in all the tracking boxes in my bullet journal, I have a box for self care. I sit there for a minute and think back on my day and try to decide if at any point during it I put some area of my health or happiness before a mundane task or chore and the answer is almost always no. I have not been prioritizing myself and my enthusiasm for life has clearly been lacking. This isn’t the kind of life I want to live, but again and again and again it just keeps coming back to my stupid to do list and everything I SHOULD be getting done, yet no matter how hard I try I never feel like I’m doing enough. And how do you fit in a break for self care when there are six loads of laundry waiting to be folded, a pile of dishes at the counter, and you know you haven’t had a solid conversation with your husband in a week? I KNOW everything would feel better if I took the necessary time to feed my own soul first, but in practice it is so incredibly hard to do.

This whole weight loss ordeal has also been getting me down. I was using the Lose It app for a couple of days after I cancelled Noom. And I did really like it. It made calorie counting more fun because it attached little images to everything you ate during the day, and it gave me a more manageable amount of calories to strive for while still telling me I’d lose weight. But the actual act of counting – and more importantly, just needing to THINK about counting every minute of every day was making me so distressed and angry. This is why I hate actively trying to lose weight. It takes over your entire life and whether you want to or not, you’re forced to think about it with every decision you make during the day. Or it’s at least that way for people like me who work at home and have constant access to food and no one to witness me eating day in and day out. The stress of counting everything and feeling like I had to starve myself in the morning when I’m most hungry to try and save calories for dinner when I clearly would still want to eat the dinner I was making for my family was making me absolutely miserable. So…I stopped. It might be temporary, depending on how this week shapes up. Maybe I need that accountability even if it feels like it’s ruining my life. But I’d like to think that I’ve been learning enough after a few weeks of tracking, and because this is the first time I’ve genuinely wanted to live a healthier life, that I’ll continue to make better choices. And even if the weight doesn’t drip off, I’ll at least FEEL better. And while I don’t want to be defined by the number on the scale (more than a number!), I am continuing to weigh in every morning so I can keep myself in check and evaluate what I did right or wrong the day before and continue to improve how I take care of myself physically.

There are a number of other factors that have been contributing to my general malaise this month. I’ve had almost no connecting time with Greg. I think we need a real date, or something, but we’ve just been so busy. We’ve also been dealing with an onslaught of ten year old attitude problems. And “attitude problems” is putting it mildly, believe me. It’s hard to muster up much joy when every single night is hour after hour of battling and everyone just wanting to escape to their own corners of the house to just not have to deal with any of it anymore. Family time is supposed to be those sacred hours when you’re all together and you’re all made better for it. I feel like family time in our house just brings out the worst of us all. And I don’t know how to change that. The truth is that I’m often not even part of it because I’m still dealing with my stupid neverending to do lists every night. I’ve been trying to get the boys to help out more because hey, I wouldn’t have to work so hard if I had help. I don’t want to ask Greg for more help because he already works so hard during the day for us and then he spends every possible minute trying to keep the boys happy at night, at the sacrifice of never, ever having a minute to himself. But it makes sense that at ages 10 and 7, our children should seriously be held more accountable to help out around the house. They’re part of the family too. But at the mere mention of doing something unpleasant they retaliate in extreme anger and I usually just give up. Which leaves them resentful of me for even asking, me resentful of them for never helping out and putting everything on me even though I’m at least supposed to be working ON WORK all day too. And then it comes back to me being exhausted from to do list items and having nothing left to give Greg and him being exhausted from sassy and angry children to have anything left for me.

Anyway! I didn’t mean to ramble on quite so much and sound quite so depressing! To be honest, last week was just pretty sad because of those two trips I thought I was going to get to take next year and now neither of them are happening. I was also taking this all natural mood enhancing vitamin thing that I found at Costco, figuring it couldn’t hurt, right? Well, I think it did. I stopped taking it this week and I feel so much better about everything. I’m also going to release myself from my writing daily challenge and just write when the mood strikes. If I have something to say then I still have full permission to make it my highest priority of the day. But it’s no longer a requirement. What should be a requirement, though – SELF CARE. I think I should require myself to do something joyful and lifegiving every single day, no matter what. Ideally that will happen in the evenings when still working on household chores starts to really grate on me.

As for work, it still needs to happen. I still need to make those dolls. But maybe I need to set better boundaries for myself to help limit my anger over never feeling like I’m producing enough. I usually take it day by day and just work as much as I can in between doing everything else. But maybe I need to get better about setting nonnegotiable hours where I will do or think about nothing else except sewing. I’d probably get more done just by avoiding all the multi-tasking. I’ll have to think on this one.

I’m hoping the second half of the month will be much happier than the first half. It’s exciting that Thanksgiving is already next week with Christmas just around the corner! I’ve been having so much fun working on my holiday shopping and hope to make a pretty great dent in my lists by the end of November. There is a lot to look forward to and I think now that I’m starting to shake that funk I’ve been in for the last few months, I can finally start turning things around.

Sunday Intentions 11.11.2018

I keep saying it and then a million things come up, but I think this just might be the week when life actually slows down a tiny bit. There’s not much on the calendar! I hope I can use that to my advantage and finally make some headway on a few projects.

I was hoping to go see Bohemian Rhapsody tomorrow morning as a treat to myself after all the crap of last week, but I just noticed that they no longer have any daytime showings, even though it just came out like a week ago. So that’s annoying! Maybe something else new and exciting will come out in the next few weeks, or I can fit a nighttime showing in sometime.

So I’ll stick with running errands on Monday morning and then the usual after school activities with a fast and easy dinner in between. I’m also hoping to work on organizing our back door area where everyone just dumps all their backpacks and coats and boots and shoes. It looks AWFUL right now. I wanted to do it today, but ended up cleaning Shepard’s room instead. I think it’ll be easier to do all the coat stuff when I’m home alone.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I’m hoping to just keep my head down and WORK. I feel so incredibly behind. It’s already halfway through November and I’ve made a whopping three Christmas dolls. I still have those complicated custom orders I need to take care of first. I’m not sure why my productivity has gone down so much in the last few months when the opposite should be happening. But I need to tune out everything else and just GET STUFF DONE. No excuses this week.

Tuesday night I’m planning to go on my date with Caden. In an attempt to go somewhere new and show him that I can care about the kinds of things he likes to do, I think we’re going to go to The Mineshaft in Hartford. The menu looks great, but they also have a big arcade room. I remember going there a few times as a kid and it’s one of the places I kind of wanted to take the boys all summer, but never got around to. So this is the time to check it out.

Thursday night is our regular date night. It’d be nice to get out of the house this week, but since I’m already going out on Tuesday and Greg has a lunch date with a friend on Friday, this might not be the week for it. We’ll see. We could really use a real date, though. It’s been an extra rough couple of parenting weeks.

On Friday I’m contemplating going to a holiday craft sale at my favorite apple orchard. We’ll see how far I am on dolls by that point. It’s probably not worth taking a big chunk out of my morning, but maybe I’ll want the break.

And so far no plans next weekend! I think it’ll be a good week to just hunker down and get as much done as I can so I can enjoy baking and Thanksgiving festivities next week.

Have a good week, everyone!

Saturday Reflections 11.10.2018

Well, time to reflect on this rollercoaster of a week. Honestly, it was kind of a really crappy and disappointing week. But there were definitely some high points so this post won’t be a total bummer. 🙂

I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to talk about it yet in last weekend’s post since it wasn’t officially announced, but the reason we were in Chicago last Sunday was to celebrate my sister-in-law Melissa becoming engaged to Andrew! He proposed on Saturday and then threw her a huge surprise party to celebrate. It was adults only, so we weren’t able to go, but we met the rest of the family down there on Sunday for a really nice brunch and then some hanging out time at their apartment. We’re all so happy to have Andrew officially becoming part of the family!

There was no school on Monday because it was the end of the quarter. Originally I wanted to take the boys and Annie to the Verona dog park, but we had just spent six hours driving in the car on Sunday, and another long drive was about the last thing I felt like doing. I still wanted to take advantage of the day rather than just sitting at home, so with the bribe of frappuccinos, we managed to get to Woodman’s, Target, Costco, and Marshall’s all before lunchtime! The boys were actually really good too! It was exhausting, but no fights or whining the entire morning. Miraculous.

At noon on Monday the tickets for Rachel Hollis’ one and only personal growth conference were supposed to go on sale. I’ve become a huge Rachel Hollis fan since reading her book and listening to her podcast and I really enjoyed seeing the documentary they made from their conference last year. When I heard her 2019 conference was scheduled to take place in Minneapolis I was SO excited that it was within driving distance and totally planned on going. Unfortunately, the Hollis Co. ended up putting those tickets on sale at 11:40, while I was still making lunches. By noon when I got on my computer, it was sold out. 3400 tickets instantly gone. They were of course psyched, but it was hugely disappointing for all the people that didn’t get tickets, especially because they went on sale earlier than we were told. To try and make up for it, they immediately said they would have another conference in July, place TBD. I feel like the chances of this second conference also being within driving distance are pretty slim, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to go to that one either. It’s a huge bummer.

Tuesday was a big work day. In a moment of insanity, I decided to open up the option of custom orders. I’m anxious to get going on Christmas dolls, but I often have a lot of people asking me for custom orders in December which is when I absolutely am not interested in doing them. I figured I’d give people one last chance – and have the solid proof that I offered it! Anyway, not many people took me up on it, but two of the people that did made it SOOOOOOO complicated. I basically spent the entire day Tuesday and Wednesday emailing back and forth with these ladies, digging out pile after pile of fabric, photographing everything to get approval and then having them change their mind an hour later. It was super stressful. Every once in awhile making custom orders is an awesome challenge, but for the most part….I just really don’t like it.

Meanwhile, I spent all of Tuesday agonizing over whether or not I should continue with Noom. My 14 day free trial was ending on Wednesday and on Thursday I was going to get $150 for six months of the program taken out of my account. I had this information in my original sign up email from them – November EIGHTH. Desperately trying to make a decision when the pros and cons seemed to keep canceling each other out, I started reading reviews online. Almost every single review was 1 star. Mostly because of how unfairly Noom automatically deducts money from your account once they have access and they refuse to refund you and they make it impossible to get in contact with a real person. One review told how to check your settings to see when your next billing cycle was going to go through. I decided to do that and guess what? They were going to take that $150 off out on November SEVENTH. A day earlier than they said they would, before the trial was officially over. And that seriously pissed me off, so I cancelled immediately. I had a few other reasons, but the main one being that if they’re that shady about their financial practices, then they don’t deserve my money.

Anyway, I was relieved to have finally made a decision after going back and forth on it a million times in the last two weeks. But then it left me with nothing to keep accountable and stay motivated. At the recommendation of some other people online I ended up getting the free app Lose It on Thursday. Unfortunately, after a 6 lb weight loss in the first 12 days, I’ve just gone back up since then. I’m feeling pretty discouraged with all of it. And hungry. And desperately wanting carbs all the time.

On Wednesday I got distracted doing online Christmas shopping. I’m definitely making progress toward my goal of getting 75% done this month! There are a few people I don’t have anything for yet, or any ideas, but most people on my list are getting close to done! Once I spent the morning working on that, I just worked on dolls the rest of the day.

We had an at home date night and I made a tasty pizza. It was pretty uneventful, we just ate and watched some tv. Late at night, though, the one good trip related thing that happened this week – Greg’s parents booked a trip to Universal Studios in Florida for the six of us in February! It’s a Christmas gift/surprise for the boys, so don’t mention it! But it should be really fun. We’re going to be there over Shepard’s birthday because it happens to be the only break they have from school this winter/spring.

Thursday I did the #onedayhh challenge. No need to go over that again. You can read the post if you’re interested!

We woke up to snow on Friday morning. As usual, we were not prepared for it! Spent the early morning digging through winter things and realizing that nobody’s coats or boots fit anymore. We made do and sent the boys off to school. I spent the morning working on the first round of custom dolls.

At 11:00, tickets were going on sale for another trip I was planning on taking. It’s a craft retreat for women at The Whatever Craft House in Newton, Kansas. I first heard about the craft house last year when a TON of people I follow on social media had a retreat there. It’s this incredible rainbow colored house filled to the brim with gorgeous arrays of art supplies and rainbow decorations and beautiful bedrooms with colorful vintage quilts. I’ve been hearing about the house and these particular retreats done by a fellow maker and how amazing they are. When I found out about one happening in January, another Wisconsin maker contacted me and asked if I wanted to go with her and we could carpool. I jumped at the chance, we worked out the simplified plan, and just waited for the tickets to go on sale! I assumed it would also sell out immediately, so I was on my computer constantly refreshing and purchased my spot the second I had the chance.

And that’s when everything went downhill. Again. I immediately told my friend I got a ticket and she told me that’s great, and that it’s too bad she’s busy that weekend. What?! Apparently she had a conflict and just never thought twice about telling me. I of course blame myself for not actually confirming with her again this week that we were doing this, but it was still really frustrating. It’s not like we know each other well – just talk at Cranberry Fest every year and occasionally on social media in between. I’m a pretty forgettable person, so no surprise she apparently forgot we had planned to do this together. It was just really, really frustrating and disappointing.

I spent the rest of the day just overwhelmed and stressed out and trying to figure out how I could make a 10+ hour drive by myself IN JANUARY, twice in four days. I don’t even like driving for two straight hours and have never come close to 10! Plus it’s pretty much guaranteed I’d have to leave the night before and get a hotel in order to get to the retreat early enough. Same on the way back, unless I drove late into the night which is a terrible idea for me. Plus it’s January, in Wisconsin, and the weather could be horrendous. I looked into flights, but there were no direct flights from any airlines and nothing less than $400. And I’d still face the conundrum of getting from the airport to the house, which would be another expense. Once Greg realized I’d be going by myself he was instantly against the trip as well. It just didn’t seem like there was any way to make this happen, without spending a ton of extra money. The only reason I could go on the trip in the first place was because the retreat itself was such a great deal. (3 nights, all meals but two, supplies for six group craft projects, and a bag of awesome things crafters around the country donate for swag, all for $500.)

After agonizing – again, theme of the week here – all day and night, I spoke to the retreat leader and explained the situation and asked if there was any way I could cancel my spot. She asked if I’d like to wait for awhile and see if anyone else from WI ends up signing up (still spots left). I told her I’d wait through the weekend, but after thinking about it again all day, I just wrote and asked her to cancel. I can’t go. And it really sucks. So…I don’t have my money back yet, so it’s not official, but 99% sure this trip is not happening either.

Anyway. In happier news. Last night I went to the annual Peddler’s Barn Christmas sale with my mom and Cindy. We go each year and true to form, it was FREEZING last night. It was also packed. I ended up with a full bag of fun doll accessories that I haven’t yet taken out since getting home, but I’ll try to take a photo tomorrow!

And today I spent the entire day early Christmas shopping with Cindy! We went all over the place – mostly our favorites: TJMaxx, Marshall’s, Home Goods, and Trader Joe’s! With a quick lunch at a place called Zoup. It was really tiring, but we found some great stuff! It was awesome to make some headway on all my stocking stuffers.

And that’s been the week! I’m hoping next week is a lot less mentally tumultuous. I need a rest.