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 swap.com 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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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

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #10

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 #10

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

I’m not going to lie: October was a pretty terrible month for my goals. I started working my second, part-time job, which made our family’s life a lot crazier than it typically is. More chores and errands got pushed to the evenings and weekends, and there was less time to focus on other things. Also, we were away one weekend, hosted a birthday sleepover for our daughter another weekend, and celebrated Halloween, all in October, too.

Our pumpkin patch haul

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

I barely cracked a book in October. 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. I do want to finish it, but it may be a little while longer… 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 definitely didn’t try any new activities in October, but I did start a new job. I’m working part-time at a local, liberal arts college, filling in for someone who’s going out on maternity leave. I’ve been working at a different, liberal arts college for more than seven years now, and while the work is the same, I had some anxiety about new coworkers, new systems, and getting up-to-speed quickly. Fortunately, it’s been a great experience, so far, and I’m feeling somewhat settled-in there, already.

Happy 8th birthday to my girl!

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.)

A perfect fall day

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

Now that I’m working more, meal planning and cooking have definitely slipped. (Regular readers may have noticed that I’ve been slacking on weekly meal plan posts, lately.) I tend to have a basic framework in mind – what’s in the freezer and the pantry, mostly – and make simple meals from there.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

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This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My Goals for 2017: Check In #9

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 #9

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

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

As in August, I didn’t make much progress on reading in September. I started reading a book my father recommended – American Pastoral – but just could not get through it. I’ve heard other people rave about this book, too, but the style just didn’t suit me. I need more plot than this has, to hold my attention. I also started reading, What Happened, in September, and I’m about halfway through it. 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.

After making good progress on this goal in August, I didn’t try any new activities in September. I did, however, spend the entire month doing Weight Watchers. I started in mid-August, set a goal of losing 15 pounds, and achieved it early this month (October). I did Weight Watchers for the first time about a decade ago, so I can’t claim that it was new to me this year…

A highlight of my September: meeting the Beekman Boys!

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 extremely well with both metrics in September! It helped that my daughter started school at the beginning of the month, so I was able to walk during the day, on most days.

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

I’m finding that I don’t dread meal planning as much as I used to. I did a good job of creating meal plans and trying new recipes in September, despite the fact that I was doing Weight Watchers.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

Stonewall Kitchen, LLCThis post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #8

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 #8

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

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

I really stalled out with reading books in August. Part of this had to do with the fair amount of traveling I did throughout the month, and not wanting to lug books around with me. Also, I get a lot of magazines, and I love reading them. My stack of to-be-read magazines grows a lot when I’m reading books, and periodically I like to make some progress on them. This leaves my total number of books read in 2017 at 13. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

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

Woo hoo – I finally made some more progress here! Early this month, we took a family vacation to Mont Tremblant resort village in Quebec. (You can read a summary of the trip here.) During the winter, Mont Tremblant is a ski resort. For many reasons, I’ve never been skiing. My strong aversion to the cold is high on the list, as is my fear of heights and falling from them. Specifically, ski lifts scare the bejeezus out of me.

Who’s having fun on the ski lift??

During the summer, the most popular activity at Mont Tremblant is the luge ride down a portion of the mountain. Driving a luge down the mountain was scary enough, but to get to the starting point, you have to take the ski lift. This was terrifying for me, but became a little less so, each time I did. (I did the luge three times.)

I’m not sure if I’m counting this as two – riding a ski lift and driving a luge – new things, or just one. What seems right to you?

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

(I changed this goal last month, and you can read my explanation for it here.)

I thought this would be a good measure of my activity level, since I wear my FitBit daily and it tracks this metric, but in August I realized that FitBit is a bit more generous with what it considers to be active minutes than I want to be. As a result, I’m easily hitting this target, sometimes without doing what I would really consider true activity. Fortunately, it also tracks what FitBit considers “exercise”, which is more in-line with what I’m trying to capture. This is where I’ll be looking to measure my progress toward my goal of 150 minutes of activity per week.

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

This goal was particularly challenging in August, since I started doing Weight Watchers, with a plan to lose 15-17 pounds. (As of the time I wrote this, 5.5 are down…) I did Weight Watchers once before, about a decade ago, and I lost 27 pounds, with minimal discomfort. This is in large part because I love repetition; variety is definitely not the spice of my life! (Thus the need for 2017 goal #2!) I figured out a few meals and snacks that made the most of my daily Points allotment, and basically hit repeat daily.

This extreme repetition does not lend itself well to meal-planning for other family members, so my poor husband and daughter are having a lot of basic dinners. Grilled fish and chicken are things we can all eat, and some nights I have a Smart Ones frozen dinner, while they eat something that would blow through too many of my daily Points. In the meantime, I’ve been gathering recipes for when I can eat more normal foods again.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

Beekman 1802

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #7

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 #7

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

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

I read two great fiction books in July: Saints For All Occasions, and Every Last Lie. I started and gave up on one nonfiction book – Own It – and am currently reading another one, Is It All In Your Head? I haven’t finished the latter, yet, but I really enjoyed both of the fiction books. This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to 13. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

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

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂 However, we’ll be going on our family vacation in August, and with activities like zip lines and bob-sledding available to try, I’m confident I’ll knock at least one more off my list.

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

Even though we’re more than halfway through this year, I’ve decided to change this goal. I created the original goal of running at least three 5K races because I thought it would motivate me to run consistently. Spoiler alert: it hasn’t! Instead, I’ve decided to change this goal to one that my doctor reminds me of every year at my physical: get at least 150 minutes of activity every week. I think this will actually motivate me to achieve consistency much more effectively. And since I wear my FitBit daily and it tracks just this metric, it’ll be very easy to follow my progress toward this goal.

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

I’m still loving grilling season! I don’t know why, but I find dinner much more manageable this time of year. Grilling feels much less complicated: few ingredients are required, many things can be grilled, and clean-up is fairly minimal. It also helps that I’m out-and-about more during the warmer months, and great, fresh food is easy to come by.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #6

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 #6

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

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

I spent much of June catching up on my huge pile of magazines. I read The New Yorker, O, Money, Vanity Fair, Kiplinger, Real Simple, Beekman 1802 Almanac, and Martha Stewart Living, plus the New York Times Magazine and the Sunday NY Times. I love all of them, but easily fall behind and acquire a towering stack of to-be-read magazines. I dedicated much of my reading time in June to paring down the stack.

I did read one book in June, though: The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love. Not surprisingly, it was about people with (severe) amnesia, and what neuroscientists have learned and are learning from them. This is brings my total number of books read in 2017 to eleven. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

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

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

I ran my first 5K in June! I have no idea what my time was, since I forgot the start and stop my watch at the appropriate times, and didn’t check the clock as I crossed the finish line. But I know I ran it faster than I had been running this distance on my own, probably in large part because the course was extremely flat.

I’ll confess that I fell off the running wagon after that race, but with two more races to, I’ll be getting back at it soon.

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

Grilling season is here! I don’t know why, but I find dinner much more manageable this time of year. Grilling feels much less complicated: few ingredients are required, many things can be grilled, and clean-up is fairly minimal. It also helps that I’m out-and-about more during the warmer months, and great, fresh food is easy to come by.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #5

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.

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 going to use this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’ll be sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #5

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

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

In May, I returned to nonfiction and read Killers of the Flower Moon, and The Dirty Life. I learned a lot from Killers of the Flower Moon, which is about a time and place – Oklahoma in the early 1900s – I knew nothing about. It tells the story of a disturbing period during which Native Americans were murdered for their lucrative land rights. The Dirty Life, which is about a woman who falls in love with a farmer, leaves her life in NYC to start a new farm with him here in upstate New York, was fine.  This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to ten. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

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

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

I went for a few more runs slow jogs in May, but I’m still not in particularly good shape. My first 5K is coming up on June 17th, so I need to make the most of the next couple of weeks.

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

Twice in May, I received meals from 9 Miles East, which I continue to enjoy. I was able to customize my plan to include more entrée servings, and fewer salads. We also had the “Chicken Parm Monday To Go” from Augie’s To Go. It includes a large tray of chicken parm and ziti, a basic, two-serving salad, and bread. I don’t like poultry, but my husband loved the chicken parm.

My husband cleaned out the grill, so it’s ready to go for grilling season! For some reason, I find grilling dinner much less intimidating than cooking. It’s easy, requires only a few ingredients, and almost everything tastes great grilled. Here’s just another reason to love summer!

How are you doing with your 2017 goals/resolutions?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #4

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.

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 going to use this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’ll be sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #4

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

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

In April, I read The Dry, and The Lowland and  I really enjoyed both of these fiction books. This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to eight. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

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

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

In April, I finally went for my first jog in about three years! Amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I managed to jog for 27 minutes, including up a hill. While my pace was glacial slow, it gave me hope that getting back into decent cardiovascular shape won’t be completely impossible. Just to be on the safe side, though, I decided to postpone my first 5K until June. And I registered for this one, so I can’t postpone it anymore.

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

I tried two local, no-cook options in April. First, I tried the home meal delivery service from 9 Miles East, which I loved! I ordered the Meal Plan Plus, which comes with a four-serving dinner entrée, several salads, a soup, and two servings of grilled veggies with quinoa. It took my husband and me all week to finish everything we received! (Our daughter prefers to stick with chicken nuggets and mac and cheese – sigh…) We had the entrée and salads for dinner several nights, and I had soup, salads, and veggies and quinoa for lunch all week. Their food is local, seasonal, healthy, and delicious, and we’ll definitely be ordering from them again! If you live in the Capital Region or the Boston-area and are interested in trying the 9 Miles East home meal delivery service, contact Adam (Adam@9mileseast.com), let him know that Amy from My Upstate Life sent you, and you’ll save $10 on your first order.

The second option I tried in April was the “Mama’s Ziti To Go” dinner from Augie’s To Go. For $21.95, we got a large tray of ziti with meatballs and sausage, a basic, two-serving salad, and bread. I really enjoyed the meatballs and the ziti, but was not a fan of the sausage. Our super-picky daughter enjoyed the ziti, which was a huge win! They offer a couple of other weekly dinner-to-go specials, including my husband’s beloved chicken parm, which we’ll probably try in the future.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals/resolutions?

Frugal Real Food Meal Plans

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Spring Cleaning My Life

One of the many things I love about seasonal change is the chance for a fresh start. Each season entails different clothing, different routines, and different activities, sometimes dramatically different, sometimes more subtle. So when I read this recent post from Modern Mrs. Darcy, it really got me thinking about some changes I need to make this spring. These are the ways I’m spring cleaning my life:

  1. Start wearing sunscreen daily again. I know I should make this a priority because I don’t want to end up with skin cancer, but I’ll sheepishly admit that my fear of wrinkles and leathery skin is what really motivates me to slather on sunscreen in the warmer months. I’ve already found myself looking like a lobster once this spring, when I spent several hours outside without sunscreen, the day after using retinol on my face. (Talk about an anti-aging fail!) I love trying different skin care products, and I’m starting with this one and this one this spring.
  2. Move more – much more. I’m not an active person by nature, and I go into full-on hibernation mode in the winter. Unfortunately, as my doctor kindly pointed out at my physical last fall, I’ve gained 10+ pounds over the past five years. Judging from the warmer weather clothes I’ve dug out of the back of my closet recently, this trend has not been reversed. Now that it’s warm again, I have no excuse for not walking and/or running on a very regular basis. And my 5K goal from my goals for 2017 should give me plenty of motivation to get moving soon. Plus, I’ve got my Fitbit to keep me honest…
  3. Get outside daily. Whenever I’m feeling unsettled or out-of-sorts, I notice a quick improvement in my mental health after going outside. This is true even during the dead of winter. I’m not sure if it’s the sunlight, the fresh air, or just being in nature, in general, that makes the difference, but it consistently works. However, I love sitting on the couch (see change #2 above), reading, blogging, and just generally hanging out inside, so I need to make a real effort to get up and out every day to get the benefit of being outside.
  4. Research and plan free activities. Is it just me, or are there countless ways to spend a few dollars on kids during the summer? There’s the carousel, ice cream, festivals, splash parks, and all sorts of other activities competing for attention and cash. But I also know that there are lots of free activities in our area, and I need to put a little effort into researching and planning them. Our library is a great starting place, as well as the local parenting blogs and newsletters. I need to start filling the calendar with them as soon as I start hearing about them.
  5. Invest in some casual dresses and skirts. In past years, I’ve worn mainly shorts during the summer, even though I don’t really like them. They ride up, they’re really casual, and they simply do not flatter my body. This spring I’m investing in some casual, warm-weather dresses and skirts. I’m going to start by ordering a box from Stitch Fix. I haven’t received one in a while, but this seems like a great time to get some help refreshing my wardrobe. (Read about my love-hate relationship with Stich Fix here.) To keep costs down, I’m also doing some sourcing on ThredUp. They have tons of brand-new and excellent-condition clothes for great prices. Finally, I’ll take my shorts to the consignment store, to make a little money back on them.

Are you making any changes to your life this spring?

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