My Goals for 2018

As I reviewed this list, it became very obvious to me that I wrote it at a time when I was anticipating several, very busy months. I’ll be working five days per work in January and four days per week in February, and splitting my work weeks between two different college career centers. I realize this probably sounds absurd to people who typically work full-time, but over the past few years, we’ve built our family’s life and schedule around me working 2-3 days per week. This schedule has allowed me to be flexible about the large number of school holidays, delayed openings, half days, and vacations our daughter has, as well as her sick days and snow days. I’m also able to get most of our household errands done during the week, so we don’t have to tackle them as a family on the weekends. It has worked out well for us, and as a person who despises dislikes change,  deviating from it is fairly nerve-wracking.

As a result, this list includes many things that focus on organization, time management, and de-stressing, all with an eye toward efficiency. I only realized this after I had been putting together the list for a while, and it made me snicker at myself, a little bit.

My Goals for 2018

This is truly a random assortment of goals for my upcoming year, and they touch on a variety of different parts of my life, including cooking, organizing, mental health, and decluttering. Some are bigger and loftier than others, and some are just small and light. I tried to make my goals as specific and measurable as possible, but some didn’t quite hit that mark. My original plan was to come up with a list of “18 for 2018”, but it started to feel overwhelming. Instead I’m going with a list of 12, which felt more natural and allowed me to identify some things that I really want to accomplish this year.

Here are my goals for 2018:

  1. Write in a gratitude journal five nights per week. I’ve done well with this in the past, and really want to get back into it. It’s a small, daily task, but one that can have a substantial, positive impact.
  2. Meditate for at least five minutes, three days per week. This is something I’ve struggled with in the past. It’s very difficult for me to keep my mind focused on, well, nothing, for an extended period of time. I’m easily distracted, and my mind is naturally drawn to lists, tasks, and other thoughts. However, the evidence in favor of meditation is overwhelming, so I’m keeping at it this year.
  3. Cook a ham. My family never ate ham when I as growing up, but I now enjoy it in small doses. More importantly, I think of it as a meal centerpiece item that intimidates me, yet I don’t think it’s actually that difficult to make. This year, I intend to find out!
  4. Make cinnamon rolls from scratch. I really enjoy cinnamon rolls, but I’ve been adamant that I won’t bake anything requiring yeast, because it’s too long and drawn-out of a process. I still feel that way, but I think homemade cinnamon rolls – let’s be honest: the ones in the can don’t come anywhere close to the real thing – make a great, special-treat breakfast, and I want to at least attempt making them.
  5. Make a cheesecake from scratch. Good cheesecake is divine, but most store-bought versions leave a lot to be desired, in my opinion. I did attempt making cheesecake from scratch once before, but it was runny in the center, which ruined the whole thing. I know I can do better, and this year I’m going to do it!
  6. Get comfortable making pie crust from scratch. I took a pie and pastry-making class in NYC when we lived there, but for some reason it stressed me out more than it gave me confidence. I haven’t made a crust from scratch since then, but this year I will!
  7. Clean or declutter for 15 minutes per day, five day per week. I tend to get overwhelmed easily, and then big messes go untouched for, well, ever. Forcing myself to spend a very short amount of time tidying, cleaning, or decluttering every day should help me keep on top of the messes that can accumulate.
  8. Exercise for 30 minutes per day, five days per week. exercise more in the new year? I know – how cliché! But we just got a treadmill, so I really and truly have no excuse not to do so, especially during these cold and dark winter months. As with the last goal, small, regular doses should be more manageable.
  9. Create a weekly meal plan. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time or know me in-person, you know how I feel about cooking and meal-planning. The bottom line is that – despite dreading it every week – I know meal-planning saves me time, money, and my sanity. Thus, I plan to soldier on with this one. (I also got myself a great, new meal planner from Carrie Ellie, which should help.)
  10. Try one new recipe per week. I own quite a few cookbooks, and have stacks of recipes I’ve torn out of magazines, yet I tend to fall back on my tried-and-true recipes. Trying one new one per week should help get me out of this rut.
  11. Dispose of one box of stuff per month, especially children’s clothing and toys. Between my daughter’s outgrown clothes, her huge number of toys, and my own clutter, there’s plenty of stuff to unload in our house. I plan to utilize our local consignment store, the local Habitat for Humanity Restore, eBay, Craigslist, and to dispose of one box of stuff per month.
  12. Have a (brief) look-ahead session prior to start of each month. I have a fridge calendar, a planner, and an accordion filing folder for storing paperwork needed in the upcoming months. I know I should go through all of them before the start of every month to avoid surprises and forgotten appointments, but I rarely do. This year, I’m putting this into place!

What are your goals for 2018??

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Monday Meal Plan #49

Happy Monday! I hope you had a lovely weekend!

Weekend Recap

Our weekend was a nice mix of down time and activity. Thursday was my last day working at Skidmore until January 8, so Friday I got some present shopping done. Then that night was my husband’s work party in Troy. I hadn’t been there in about eight years, and I was impressed by how cute the area we went to was. I definitely want to go back and walk around – although I think we’ll wait for the spring.

I typically find my husband’s work parties pretty excruciating, but this year’s wasn’t so bad. I’m a pretty introverted person, so hours-long social events tend to exhaust me. Plus, it’s even harder when (1) most attendees are somewhere between tipsy and drunk, (2) I don’t know the people very well – and some not at all, and (3) a lot of the discussion is about work people and/or things that happened at work. My husband and I sat with a very nice couple for the dinner portion this year, and that helped a lot.

On Saturday, my husband took our daughter to one of her favorite places: the arcade. Saratoga doesn’t have a standalone arcade, but there’s one in the bowling alley. As usual, she came home with several junky, plastic toys, and a couple of disgusting candies. I decided to brave the crowds, and hit the local Target and Bath and Body Works in the mall that afternoon. I waited until 4:00 to leave, but things didn’t start to empty out until about 5:00. There are somethings I absolutely adore about the holiday season, and some – like traffic and crowds at stores – which can’t end soon enough!

Yesterday, my daughter and I went to the house of a friend, who was hosting a gingerbread house making event for a group of kids. My husband decided to take advantage of a few hours of alone time, and went to see the new Star Wars movie. Sunday afternoon and evening entailed a good bit of lounging and prepping for the week, plus several games of Monopoly Junior with my daughter. I lost all but one of them.

The Week Ahead

I’m off from both of my part-time jobs until January 8, so the focus of this week is last-minute shopping, wrapping, baking, and miscellaneous Christmas prep. My boss at Skidmore is hosting a holiday lunch for staff at her house this afternoon. We’re each supposed to bring a dessert, and a $15 gift for the Yankee swap. The only other scheduled activity for the week is my daughter’s holiday party at school. It’s for an hour on Thursday morning.

And looking ahead to the Christmas holiday, we’ll spend Christmas Eve at home, then head to my husband’s parents’ house in New Jersey on Christmas day. My parents will come to our house for a few days between Christmas and New Years, for our Christmas celebration with them.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at our house this week:

What are you having for dinner this week? Are you traveling for the holidays?

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Sample Sunday Giveaway!

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably seen my Sample Sunday posts. I love sample sizes and trying new products of all kinds, but I’ve been hanging onto my stash for a while, rather than putting them to use. About a month ago, I started pulling out a few each Sunday, to use over the next week or so. (You can see all of the samples I used in November in my November Product Empties post.) Here are today’s samples:

This week’s samples

To spread the sample love – and in appreciation of my readers – I’m giving away a bag of samples this week! Here’s what the winner will receive:

So many sample goodies!

It’s a mix of makeup, skin care, and fragrance samples, from brands including Clinique, Farmacy, Lancome, and Benefit.  They’ll come in a cute Sephora bag, like this:

How do you enter? I’m glad you asked! Enter right here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US residents, only. The winner will be chosen on Wednesday, 12/20/17. Good luck!!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #11

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things. (I’m what the author Gretchen Rubin would call “an obliger”, based on her personality framework.)

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m using this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’m sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #11

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Okay, guys, what can I say? I started thinking about my goals for 2018, and pretty much stopped working on my goals for 2017. I’m not proud of it, but I clearly threw in the towel, mentally . (It also didn’t help that I developed a minor YouTube addiction over the past couple of months…)

I’m going to go through the motions here, but don’t expect much:

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

I barely cracked a book in October November. The reading that I did do was all magazines and the Sunday New York Times – which take me a full week to get through, anyway. Technically, I’m still reading, What Happened, since it’s still sitting on my nightstand with a bookmark in it.  At this point, my plan is simply to finish that book, and call it a year. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future, plus those that I couldn’t get through – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

I’m going to give myself credit for completing this one. Early in the year, I attempted snowshoeing for the first time. Over the summer, I rode a ski lift and drove a luge down (a portion of) Mont Tremblant. And this fall, I took on a second, temporary, part-time job, and worked a good bit more hours per week outside the home than I typically do.

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races. Get 150 minutes of activity every week.

(I changed this goal a couple of months ago, and you can read my explanation for it here.)

Thanks to my FitBit, I’m able to track my minutes of daily activity and exercise. I did okay with this goal in October. My work days are difficult, since my job is 100% sedentary. (I sit in a chair and provide career counseling to students all day.) However, now that I’m trying to maintain my recent weight loss, I’m putting extra effort toward cramming more steps into every day. (You can read a recap of my Weight Watchers experience here.)

Despite the extra effort, I had a difficult time overcoming the combination of my sedentary job and overall lifestyle, and the cold, dark weather. My husband, who really wants to lose some weight in 2018, found a good deal on a treadmill on Black Friday, and it arrives next week. This should be a big help in reaching my activity goals.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

I’ve fallen almost completely off the meal-planning wagon, and it shows in our dinners. As of today, I’m off from work until January 8. I want to finish 2017 strong with meal plans, and possibly even create a full meal plan for the entire month of January.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions? Have you set your goals for 2018?

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Beekman 1802

Product Empties: November, 2017 Edition

I recently started watched a wide variety of videos on YouTube, and discovered the “product empties” genre. Are you familiar with these? Basically, people show empty containers of products they finished during the month, and most also give mini-reviews of them. A lot of the empties videos I’ve seen focus on makeup, and/or skincare, and/or household products, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these videos exist for other kinds of products, too.

The first couple of times I watched these videos, I found them kind of ridiculous. I mean, what’s the point of looking at the empty packages of products other people have used?? But I did appreciate the reviews of some products I was interested in, and eventually I started to wonder about the quantity of products I used up in given month. How many hand soaps? Cleaners? Lip balm? So… I decided to keep track of my own product empties from last month!

Here’s what I finished up:

Personal Care

That Bath & Body Works lotion smelled so good!!


  • Pack of Finish Powerball dishwasher tablets: These work well, so I stock up whenever they go on sale.
  • Bath & Body Works Caramel Pumpkin Swirl 3-wick candle: Read about my candle obsession here.
  • Bath & Body Works Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow 3-wick candle: I’m (obviously) a sucker for these sweet, candle scents.
That’s embarrassingly few cleaning products…

Skincare & Makeup

That liquid lipstick looked frightening on me!

Product Hit of the Month: Hands down, that wonderful Bath & Body Works Salted Caramel Apricot body cream!

Product Miss of the Month: Definitely the Stila lipstick. The product, itself, may be great, but that color was appalling on me!


If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen my Sample Sunday posts. I love sample sizes and trying new products of all kinds, but I’ve been hanging onto my stash for a while, rather then putting them to use. As a result, I’ve started pulling out a few each Sunday, to try out over the next week or so. Here are the samples I finished in November:

Do you use any of these products, too? Are you a big fan of samples, or do you stick with the tried-and-true?

Frugal Real Food Meal Plans

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Monday Meal Plan #48

Happy Monday!! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Weekend Recap

It was a pretty productive weekend for us, especially my husband. He was on a cleaning and decluttering tear, in advance of our holiday party next weekend. In addition to reorganizing my messy pantry area – what can I say; I can’t resist stocking up when there’s a great deal! – he purchased and set up shoes racks that tripled the amount of shoe storage space in our mudroom, and mounted our new vacuum on the wall. (He’s an avid deal-hunter, and got an amazing  Black Friday deal on it at Target.)

So much more room for shoes and boots!!

My daughter and I braved the crowds on Saturday, and went to the mall and Target. She had a friend over yesterday afternoon, and after she left, it was time to get back into the Sunday night routine…


The Week Ahead

It’s going to be a semi-hectic week for me. Monday morning, I have a committee meeting at my daughter’s school, then I have my annual physical, followed by my annual visit to the gynecologist. (I don’t typically schedule both appointments on the same day, but scheduling with my doctors can be tricky, and it just worked out this way this year.) I’m working at Skidmore (my temporary job for this year) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and on Friday I’ll be running errands and prepping for a holiday party we’re hosting Saturday night. The party prep will continue on Saturday, and on Sunday, we’ll probably be cleaning up and relaxing.

My daughter has a Brownies meeting until 5:00 Monday evening, gymnastics at 6:30 Wednesday night, and a friend’s birthday party on Sunday.

Weekly Meal Plan

Here’s what what’s on my dinner meal plan for this week:

  • Monday: Stuffed shells from the freezer w/ frozen veggies
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday: Maryland crab cakes w/ green salad and couscous
  • Thursday: Pasta alio olio (recipe from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking)
  • Friday: Pancakes and sausage – brinner!
  • Saturday: Par-tay!!
  • Sunday: Homemade macaroni and cheese (specific recipe TBD) w/ roasted veggies

What are you having for dinner this week??

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