October Recap, November Goals

October Goals Recap:

  1. Work out 6 days a week, even if I can’t restart BBG yet. -Complete! I am so happy I managed this one. This is still an ongoing goal, but this is a great start. Plus I didn’t even hurt myself! 
  2. Continue working on my photography, but with more focus. I would really like to build up my skills and create some stock-style photos for my blog. – I did pretty well with this one, but not great. I was hoping to work on this on a daily basis and didn’t quite manage that. I do think that I have been making progress with my photography skills!

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In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t take this picture. Boyfriend was nice enough to take some cooking “stock style” photos for me.

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The following photos were not taken by me, but are some of my favorites for this month. Boyfriend is wonderful and helped me get some photos that could be used for profile/general ones of me for the blog and other social media sites. I’m not a big fan of having my photograph taken, but I really like how these turned out!

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He played around with the camera settings for this one. I think it came out pretty neat and unexpected!

November Goals:

  1. Continue working out 6 days a week using Kayla Itsines’ guide.
  2. Incorporate the “active” into my active rest day. Do a stretching or yoga session to work on flexibility and decrease stiffness.
  3. Wake up on time to do my workout before work. This has been a pretty irregular thing for me so far, but I know that my day goes so much better when I do this!
  4. Finish at least 3 DIY projects

That’s it for this month’s recap and November’s goals! I’m excited to see what November brings!

How did your goals for October go? Any new goals for November?

Exploring Grandma’s Attic: Adventures in Jewelry Making

Confession time: I love jewelry! Like, seriously love jewelry. It might be a problem….but it’s one I’m okay with. Even more so if it is unique jewelry, and at Grandma’s Attic there is plenty of that!

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Grandma’s Attic is a store in Ames, Iowa and has so many awesome offerings including handmade jewelry, belly dancing scarves, incense, jewelry repair and custom pieces! This shop is not a new one for me, but instead an old favorite.  I’ve only made jewelry here a couple times, though I’ve shopped here many times. Some of my favorite jewelry is from here! This time was especially fun because I got to introduce one of my friends to the joys of jewelry making!

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Christy going over the basics of jewelry making with Salina before we got started.

Salina and I decided to spend a Saturday afternoon in the store exploring the beads and making some new jewelry. It was so much fun!

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Just a few of the THOUSANDS of beads available! Aren’t they pretty?!

Narrowing down the choices and deciding what style I wanted to make was so hard! I knew I wanted a necklace, but I went in with no idea of what style/colors to put into that necklace. On the other hand, Salina seemed to know right off she wanted to make a bright, colorful bracelet.

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Bracelet in progress!

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Not only was I apparently very intent on what I was doing, but Salina is very sneaky with the camera!

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Once we had our beads selected and laid out in the pattern we wanted, it was time to start stringing them!

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Starting the beading process
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Almost done stringing the beads!
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Stringing the beads for my necklace.

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Once we were done stringing the beads and making sure the fit was what we wanted, Christy would finish off the pieces, adding the clasp and other necessary things to turn it into actual jewelry. And voila! A beautiful piece of jewelry, ready to take home!

Here is how our pieces turned out!

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Review of Experience:

This is probably one of my favorite ways to spend some time with a friend! Not only is it fun and relaxing, but you get something unique to take home and wear! Plus I love that unlike going to a movie or something similar, the conversation just flowed all throughout our time at Grandma’s Attic. We had a great time!

Christy is great with both beginners and repeat visitors. Whether someone needs a rundown of how to start, feedback on a design or help when stuck, she’s always there to help!

Approximate Cost:

This is the other great thing about Grandma’s Attic. You pretty much choose the cost. Beads are priced individually and are wide-ranging. You can make something to suit any budget! You saw a few of the beads available above, but here are a few more!

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Other Services Offered:

As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of different offerings at this store! In addition to offering the make-your-own-jewelry, Christy does jewelry repairs, custom designs and her own jewelry is there for sale too. In fact, her jewelry is usually the case I head straight for! All of the pieces I have bought over the years are ones she has made herself, but she also carries a large inventory of other jewelry as well. Some of it is antique, others just unique, but all of them are pretty awesome!

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Other items for sale include, but in no way are limited to, belly dance scarves, a few wall tapestries, incense, perfume bottles, Egyptian-themed artwork and statuary, along with wooden boxes. There is more, but it would be impossible to list them all!

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Have you ever made your own jewelry? Did you go to a store like this one, or make it at home? Do you have any stores like this near you? Let me know what you think!

Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! Welcome to this week’s meal prep! I’ve been keeping it pretty simple lately, focusing on budget-friendly meals, utilizing items from our freezer and making sure to only cook as much as we can eat in a week.

This week I made a couple new recipes and they turned out great! So without further delay, here is this week’s meal prep! Enjoy!

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Our regular sweets and treats. The protein balls are Boyfriend’s new favorite and are actually saving us some money! For our first break he is having these now as part of his snack instead of the Reese’s FastBreaks he was buying 🙂 I love finding these healthy snacks!

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This week Boyfriend actually made a request, so we are having spaghetti! I’m trying my hand at recipe development, so this sauce is a brand-new recipe. While I have improvised and created sauce recipes before, this was my first attempt at recording it while cooking. As such, it still needs some tweaking…but it turned out great (if a bit thick) and filled with veggie-goodness! (It did make a lot of sauce, but if there is some left over we can freeze it or make some more pasta)

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These are based off of the Honey Mustard Pork Chops from the Healthy Eating on a Budget cookbook from this site. The only change I made was I used local Garlic Mustard instead of Honey Mustard. I also simmered the sauce for approx 8-10 min after the pork chops were done to thicken up the sauce. They do mention simmering the sauce in the recipe, but don’t give any sort of timeline, so here is mine!

I made Balsamic Brown Butter Asparagus as a side for these. Check out the recipe below!

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I’m back to having Buffalo Chicken Salads for this week. While I really like the taco salads, it’s nice to keep switching things up…and I do really love this chicken! Check out the recipe on this site. I have been known to use some of the leftover chicken on baked open-faced sandwiches and there are so many other ways you can use it too!

That’s it for this week! I’m really enjoying trying to create my own recipes, so expect this to be the first of many! Hopefully!

Have any of you tried creating your own recipes from scratch? Any tips for a newbie like me? I would love to hear from you!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

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Sunday Meal Prep

You know what amazes me? How out of all of the expenses that we have as adults, one of the only essential ones we have any control over is our grocery budget! We have control over all non-essential costs (or at least most), but when it comes to essential costs like bills, food and gas, we are pretty much out of luck. The grocery budget can make a huge impact on weekly costs…I know it does on ours.

So this week I decided to rejuvenate my efforts to reduce our grocery expenses while still keeping a focus on healthy eating. No easy task! That being said, I think I did a pretty good job this week! I did try a couple things this week I’ve never done before in my attempts to keep our budget lower and still healthy. I made homemade vegetable stock and cooked a dish using chicken drumsticks. I know, neither of these sound particularly adventurous, but I have never cooked either of these before. I have never even cooked chicken with any sort of bone in.

In my re-focusing on budget as well as health, I did some extra research when creating my menu this week. A few of the recipes came from this site and while I was originally unsure about how good recipes coming from a government resource would be, I was pleasantly surprised by how well these turned out! The Barley Jambalaya, Couscous with Peas and Onions and Quick Tuna Casserole all came from free cookbooks on this site. 🙂

So on to this week’s meal prep! Enjoy!

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Molly’s Chicken, Couscous with Peas and Onions, Saucy Green Beans and Barley Jambalaya.

For the Molly’s Chicken, make sure to read the comments section. There are a lot of good ideas in there! As for the Saucy Green Beans, check out the recipe below if you have missed it in previous posts!

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Our regular salads, looking delicious as always!
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This is mostly our freezer foods, excluding the Quick Tuna Casserole. The tuna casserole I forgot to photograph earlier, so it got included in this one instead! Also present are enough breakfast burritos for over 2 weeks, smoothies and vegetable stock.
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I really like how this tuna casserole turned out. It definitely was quick and so tasty!
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Smoothies! My favorite post-workout food, now prepped in the freezer to be pulled out the night before!

These are quite possibly the best smoothies I have ever made and sadly I can’t tell you how to make them. I kinda just threw things in, blended it for a long time (I really need a new blender) and voila! Very Berry Smoothies! I promise, I will try to record the ingredients and amounts next time!

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My first attempt at homemade vegetable stock! I think it turned out pretty well, though I’m sure there is room for much improvement.

For these, I used vegetable scrapes from previous meal preps that I had frozen with this in mind. I love that I could make all of this stock out of scrapes that would have otherwise just gone in the trash can!

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And last, but definitely not least, our sweets and treats! All of the weekly favs are there, including our newest addition: Cookie Dough Protein Bites!
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Seriously, these Cookie Dough Protein Bites are awesome. Make sure to check out this lovely lady for the recipe!

That’s it for this week! What have you been cooking? Do you focus much on budget meals? I would love to hear some of your healthy budget-friendly meals!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

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I will also sometimes add red pepper flakes to this while it is cooking for that extra kick!

Fitness Update: I’m Finally Back at it!

Those of you who have been following my journey for the past couple of months know that these last couple months have been rough for me, fitness-wise. Two injuries and a flare-up from a recurring back problem have made it very difficult to do much more than cardio on the treadmill.

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Me after BBG Day 1 workout. I was exhausted but feeling great!

But I’m back! Yesterday was Day 1 of Kayla Itsines’ BBG1 and I’m so glad to be back to doing the program! It was definitely rough with my lower activity since I stopped, but I didn’t seem to lose much progress during my down time. I’m a little worried about arm day since I don’t have full mobility or comfort back in my finger yet, but I’m pretty sure it should be fine.

I also decided to participate in a wellness challenge through my work called the ZP Challenge. I am participating in 2 out of the 4 possible categories; fitness and food. This basically is a month-long challenge in which you track how well you do by checking off if you made healthy food choices that day and had more than 30 minutes of exercise. I figured I’m already focusing more on my healthy and wellness, so why not participate?! It definitely has provided that extra level of motivation and I love checking off the box for the day saying I met my goals!

That’s all for this month’s fitness update! Now that I’m back at it I hope that I will have more to say this time next month, including progress photos from my first month doing BBG!

How are you doing on your fitness goals? Find any new tools or programs to help with motivation lately?

Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! Welcome to this week’s meal prep!

I honestly don’t have a huge amount to say for this week. I made a few new recipes, all of which turned out delicious! This week was a week of firsts…First time cooking with mushrooms and first time cooking with pizza dough. I’m a little behind on my skills, huh?

Now on to the meal prep! Make sure to check out the new recipe at the bottom!

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As you can see, the weekly regulars are all present, with a new addition!
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I’m sure you’ve noticed that we like our treats, and these are no exception! These are peanut buttery, chocolate-filled balls of energy and tastiness! Seriously though, they take 5 minutes and are really good. The only change I made from MySweatLife’s recipe is that I used chocolate protein powder instead of vanilla. I’m sure they are delicious with vanilla, but all I had was chocolate, so that’s what I used!
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Quick Shepard’s Pie, Pasta Primavera, chopped veggies for Veggie Pizza Rolls and sliced red onion for sandwiches and other random meals.
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This Pasta Primavera was a new recipe for us, and a first time cooking mushrooms for me. I love how this recipe turned out! I will definitely be making this again.
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The cut up veggies above turned into this wonderful dish halfway through the week! This was the first time I ever used pizza dough and I have to admit, I was a little nervous and I had a hard time making them into rolls. They turned out great though, and the process definitely got easier partway through!
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This bean soup is one of my favorites….hearty, filling and healthy! Check out the recipe below!
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Our salads for the week turned out wonderful! I am so happy that I found Mason Jar Salads and decided to give them a try. They make healthy lunches so much easier!

That’s it for the week! I’m having a lot of fun trying out new recipes right now. Mixing it up is really making my meal prep so much more enjoyable! Do you do anything to make your meal prep fun or more enjoyable? I love cooking, but hours in the kitchen can get a little monotonous. Trying out new recipes adds some excitement for me!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

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101 Things in 1001 Days

Do you like making lists? I love making lists. Lists of chores, errands, goals, plans, projects….pretty much anything I can make a list of. But this list was even more fun than all of those others!

I had seen this project a few times on different bloggers sites, but mostly thought “Oh that’s neat. Good for them.” and moved on. But the project stuck in the back of my head, not really gaining ground, but still there. When I was wandering around on the internet last week I stumbled across another blogger’s list and instead of the previous “Oh that’s neat” I thought “That sounds really fun! I should do this. Just think of all the things I could get done!” After that decision, I checked out the website for this project, Day Zero and started working on my list.

Now, I don’t know if I will get everything done on the list. I would love to think so, and I’m certainly going to try, but realistically at least a few things won’t get done. I tried to make the items challenging and/or something I had been putting off doing without choosing items that were completely unreasonable.

With all that being said, enjoy!

101 Things in 1,001 Days

Start Date: October 6, 2015

End Date: July 3, 2018

  1. Get $2000 in Emergency Savings
  2. Take a day trip to a state park I’ve never been to
  3. Complete Kayla Itsines BBG1
  4. Complete Kayla Itsines BBG2
  5. Take a trip to another state (for at least 3 days)
  6. Attend a BBG Meet-up
  7. Start my business
  8. Blog 5 days a week for a month
  9. Take a weekend trip with Mom
  10. Meditate daily for a month
  11. Complete a 365-day photo project
  12. Take a cooking class
  13. Take a metal-working class
  14. Upgrade my camera
  15. Take a photography class
  16. Run a 5K
  17. Attend a blogging conference or workshop
  18. Go to a jazz festival
  19. Make a piece of wood furniture
  20. Complete a pull-up
  21. Do 30 consecutive full push ups
  22. Learn to can vegetables
  23. See a ballet
  24. See an opera
  25. Write a recipe ebook
  26. Have a picnic
  27. Learn to sew
  28. Finish 5 crochet projects
  29. Go to an art museum
  30. Attend the local crochet & knitting group
  31. Learn Japanese to a conversational level
  32. Take a pottery class
  33. Go zip-lining
  34. Bake a birthday cake
  35. Get dressed up for a special dinner
  36. Go to the Omaha Zoo
  37. Get a massage
  38. Take a ballroom dancing class
  39. Go rock climbing
  40. Take a yoga class
  41. Create a gallery wall
  42. Read a book of poetry
  43. Wear a two-piece swimsuit
  44. Go to a drive-in movie
  45. Bake a pie from scratch
  46. Make a new friend
  47. Find and buy the perfect LBD
  48. Find and buy the perfect shoes to go with the LBD
  49. Complete a coloring book
  50. Learn basic HTML
  51. Wear a skirt or dress every day for a week
  52. Have fresh flowers in the house every week for a month
  53. Have a date night once a month for six months
  54. Learn how to make sushi
  55. Do something special for my 30th birthday
  56. Build a snowman
  57. Wear nothing black for one week
  58. Meet an online friend in person
  59. Save $10 for each task completed
  60. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
  61. “Re-learn” how to ride a bike
  62. See 2 stage productions
  63. Visit Hindu Temple and Cultural Center
  64. Pick 10 books by unknown (to me) authors and read them
  65. Go to a personal clothing stylist
  66. Do a handstand
  67. Send in a card to PostSecret
  68. Do henna on someone else
  69. Refinish deck
  70. Build pergola
  71. Take parents out for a nice dinner
  72. Do yoga outside in a public place
  73. Go ice skating
  74. Go to a local town festival
  75. Plant and maintain a raised garden for one summer
  76. Plant a fall garden
  77. Visit two friends from college
  78. Make a meal entirely from the garden
  79. Learn to play the guitar
  80. Take another bellydance class
  81. Do an outdoor photo-a-month project: Ada Hayden
  82. Go to a poetry reading/event
  83. Write a letter to my college mentor
  84. Go on the Boone Scenic Valley Railroad
  85. Go minigolfing
  86. Make a healthy pizza from scratch
  87. Go canoeing or kayaking
  88. Find a daytime job
  89. Go to an arts festival
  90. Go to a crafts fair
  91. Attend a holiday service with my parents
  92. Attend a religious service of a religion I’m unfamiliar with
  93. Run a charity race
  94. Donate any clothes I don’t use anymore
  95. Go to a big fireworks show
  96. Declutter and organize basement
  97. Go to hot balloon festival
  98. Take a floral arrangement workshop
  99. Read 100 new-to-me books
  100. Make treats for everyone at work for no reason
  101. Go to 2 cultural festivals

Have you seen this project, maybe even made a list of your own? How did it go? Do you like the idea of a multi-year goals project like this one?

Sunday Meal Prep

This week has a few really good new recipes, but sadly not quite as good of pictures as I usually try for. With the trip to the ER right after this meal prep got done (check out the beginning of this post if you are confused), I didn’t get the photos taken until about halfway through the week. I’m sure you aren’t surprised to hear that the delay meant a decent amount of the food was mostly gone!

So without further delay, enjoy this week’s meal prep!

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I feel pretty safe in saying that these Skinny Chicken Enchiladas were the big hit for this week! These were delicious! Lately I’ve taken to chopping up some extra veggies for steaming to go with dinner after work as a healthy side dish. I’m really liking this new habit!
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For this Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup, I kept half and froze half. It freezes really well!

I did have a funny incident with this soup! I was separating it into containers, picked up a mason jar filled up for the freezer and it split in half! Soup everywhere! The dogs were pretty happy about that. To say I was a bit startled would be an understatement! I got the mess all cleaned up and got back to cooking, but it just goes to show that not everything goes smoothly each weekend! 🙂

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That little bit of chicken in the upper right is all that is left of the delicious Greek Yogurt Parmesan Chicken! Also shown are my Saucy Green Beans and Potato Soup.
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This potato soup is much more tasty that the first picture shows! Check out the recipe for this and my Saucy Green Beans below!
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This picture is from a couple weeks ago, but much better than what I could take halfway through the week. All of these were made this week too, since these are some of our favorites: Sweet Potato Banana Bites, Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins and grapes with cheese cubes.
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This picture was from last week, but these are the same salads I made this week. This taco salad is one of my new favorite types, while Boyfriend is still sticking with Shredded Buffalo Chicken!

And that’s it for this week! Make sure to check out the recipes below!

What are you making this week?

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

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September Favs, October Goals

September

To say that this month did not go as planned is a bit of an understatement. That being said, I am not really upset about that either.

I started off the month in good spirits, sure that I would be telling you I had made it 4 weeks through Kayla Itsines’ BBG. This did not even come close to happening! First my back, neck and shoulder locked up. Then, just as I got cleared to restart the program and was all excited about starting the next day, I sliced my finger open. Another ER visit, more stitches, and not being able to put pressure on my finger for at least another week, possibly longer.

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I am really pleased that I am still managing to work out some, both on the treadmill and with some BBG workouts (modified when needed). I do hope that I can restart this coming month though!

I can’t say that the above pic is a “fav” but it does represent something that matters to me. I am pretty proud of myself for not giving up or having a mental setback of sorts with this most recent injury. This is the third injury in a row and it honestly feels like my body has turned against me sometimes. But I know I can keep at it, do what workouts I can and I will get back on track! I just have to remember that this is a journey and that will include times where things don’t go as I would like.

And now that I’m done whining about my setbacks 😉 On to the September Favorites!

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I did pretty good about my second goal this month, which was to photograph something every day. I did take at least one photo most days!

October Goals

  1. Work out 6 days a week, even if I can’t restart BBG yet.
  2. Continue working on my photography, but with more focus. I would really like to build up my skills and create some stock-style photos for the blog.

How was your September? Did you reach the goals you set for yourself? Any goals for October?