2015 In Review and My Goals for 2016

2015…What a year! I have been thinking over how to sum up 2015 and it’s been difficult to say the least. 2015 has been a year all about change and growth for me, in so many ways. I am so thankful for the support of both my parents and Draz (formerly known as Boyfriend :-P) throughout this year. As with any period of growth, this year was not without it’s frustrations and difficulties and I don’t know what I would have done without them!

My relationship with Draz has been one of the biggest factors in the changes that have occurred. We’ve been together for a little over a year and a half now and it’s through his support, feedback and help that I have found the confidence and motivation to finally do some of the things that I had dreamed about in the past!

One of the major changes of the year: I started this blog! I can’t believe I have been blogging since April! (really May, since April just had my Introduction post) This blog and all of of the people that it has brought into my life have helped motivate me, push me and grow my confidence, along with so many other things.

The other huge change this year: I am finishing this year in the best shape of my life! I have struggled with my weight and fitness for so many years and for the first time in my life I feel comfortable and secure in my own body. No, I’m not where I would like to be yet, but I now believe that I will be and I’m loving the process of getting there! Plus I have found such an amazing community of BBG ladies on this journey and I can’t wait to get to know some of them better!

While these two things are the biggest changes this year, there are so many other smaller ones…many of which I can credit to the confidence I have found through my blogging and fitness journey!

I am happier and more content than I have been in so many years. I have formed a couple new friendships this year, though this is something I still really need to work on….I have a hard time meeting new friends.

I also started making things again, which is something that I have really missed. I’ve even put some of my pieces up in the house! Our home is really starting to come together more and I have been decorating, which I hadn’t done very much of in all the years I have lived here.

All in all, this year has been amazing…So many changes, many of which I would have never dreamed of a couple years ago!

Now we are on to the next difficult part: A few of my favorite photos from this year! This has been really really hard for me to narrow down! Enjoy!

 

If 2015 is any indication, 2016 is going to be an incredible year! Here are my goals for the coming year!

Personal

  1. Keep my workouts at an average of 5-6 days a week.
  2. Take 1 exercise class
  3. Take 1 class for building a new skill, like metalworking, painting, or wire wrapping.
  4. Start and/or complete 1/3 of my Day Zero project

Blog and Business

  1. Average 3 posts a week on the blog
  2. Learn how to use 1 new platform or social media site
  3. Have at least one guest post on the blog
  4. Launch my jewelry business and make first sale

What things from this year are you really excited or pleased about? Any surprises? What about your goals for the upcoming year? I’d love to hear your thoughts and plans!

Sara (1)

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?

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?

Bingeable Podcasts

How do you entertain yourself? Radio, Pandora, TV? Podcasts maybe?

While I do love Pandora and probably would go crazy without my daily dose of jazz, I listen to a lot of podcasts almost every day. A LOT…like 5-7 hrs a day most days. My real-world job is pretty much menial tasks and doesn’t require a whole lot of thought. Enter podcasts!

I actually only started listening to podcasts at all about 6-8 months ago. I know, I’m really behind on the times! So instead of being bored, or just daydreaming (though I do a fair amount of daydreaming anyways), I can use the time to learn new things, listen to interviews, be inspired, or just be entertained!

So without further ado, here are some of my favorites!

History:

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  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – This is by far my favorite podcast! I have listened to many of his episodes multiple times. I just recently finished up re-listening to his series on World War I. His use of first-person accounts really makes me connect with the events he’s telling about.
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class – This one is a lot of fun and so random sometimes! I have learned about so many different topics that I would never have even thought to look up or find out about. Just today I listened to ones on Mary Ann Cotton, the Amazons of Dahomey and an interview with the author of “The Billion Dollar Spy”.
  • The Egyptian History Podcast – I have been into Egyptian history for as long as I can remember (at one point I could write my name in hieroglypics) and this one has been so fun to listen to!
  • The History of Rome – I am actually planning on re-listening to this one soon. There was so much detail and I would like to absorb more of it!

Entertainment:

  • The Art of Slaying – My guilty pleasure…Buffy the Vampire Slayer! This podcast is an episode-by-episode analysis and discussion. I have not finished this one yet, but I loved what I have listened to!

Art:

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  • Artists Helping Artists – While I am not a painter (though I wish I was!), this podcast has inspired me artistically, entertained me, and helped jumpstart my putting my studio together.
  • The Potter’s Cast – This podcast makes me wish that I had my kiln already! I am planning on getting one soonish, but these interviews are just so inspiring and motivating! (And as a complete side-note, this podcast helped confirm that the brand of kiln I’m planning on is the right one to go with)

Fitness:

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  • The FitCast – So many good interviews and information! I can’t say enough good things about this podcast. It’s entertaining, informative, and motivating! Every time my motivation is lagging, The FitCast gives me a boost!

Humanistic:

  • TED Radio Hour – One of the top podcasts (to me) on this list! I have listened to so many episodes, on so many topics. I have smiled, laughed, cried…so many emotions have been inspired by this podcast. I have heard amazing stories from incredible people. The episodes are thought-provoking and moving. Their most recent 2-part episodes called “Screen Time” was fascinating!
  • On Being – A very spiritually-based podcast, she interviews so many amazing people. Their stories, their messages, and their lives are so beautiful to listen to. There have been episodes that have inspired changes in my life, especially to try to be more mindful in my daily life.
  • Invisibilia – Another NPR production (like TED Radio Hour), this podcast is still pretty early on. Only one season in, I am eagerly anticipating their new episodes. With episodes like “How to be Batman,” “Fearless,” and “Our Computers, Ourselves” this podcast is not to be missed!

That’s all for now! Do you have any favorite podcasts? Have you listened to any of these ones? If you have, what is your favorite one?

Lessons in Gardening: The Conclusion

This year has been a year of exploration for me…one of trying new things and pushing my boundaries. One of those things I pushed myself on was learning to garden. Something that I’ve always wanted to do but never tried. Gardening intimidated me. It still does.

That being said, I am super excited about how this first foray into gardening went! I still have a HUGE amount to learn, but I did manage to grow some tasty veggies and herbs in the backyard and some pretty impatiens in the front.

Here is how they are looking now:

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There are a few little tomatoes still growing, but overall the plants seem done. That’s ok though. We did get some veggies out of them (like the ones pictured below!) and it was a fun experience!

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Just for some perspective, here is how the garden progressed over the summer:

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I do need to do some more research between now and when we plant next year. Things like when to harvest, how often to water, etc were all things that were beyond my knowledge this year. For example, I really struggled with getting the impatiens to grow originally. Thankfully I have a very patient dad who dealt with my calls asking if my plants were dying (they weren’t) and if the veggies were ready to harvest (they were actually past due on that one 🙂 )

With this initial experiment in gardening a success, I can’t wait to plan out our garden for next year! We are tentatively planning on one raised garden bed instead of the pots for the veggies and herbs. In the front, I am hoping to find some more shade-lovin’ plants to put up there and really overhaul patchy yard.

Oh, and check out this little guy I found crawling around when I took these last photographs! Anyone know what type of caterpillar it is? It’s pretty cute and fluffy!

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What about you? How is your garden growing? Are you a first-timer like me, or more experienced? If you are a first-timer, are you planning on doing it again next year? I would love to hear about your experiences and any tips you might have for me!

DIY Glass Etching: Personalizing Glass Candle Holders

Decorating the home can be difficult, trying to balance between bringing in your own personality and managing costs. One way I have found to do this is buying things that are basic and inexpensive and then adding my own personality to the item.

Now I am by no means a decorating guru! I am still feeling my way through this journey as my dad and I remodel this house, and this project is just one of the many steps on that journey!

This is not the first time I have done glass etching, but this is the first time that I have made my own stencils for it. At least, it’s the first time I have made them successfully 🙂 I am thrilled with the results!

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I couldn’t seem to get a very good picture of this, but hopefully you get the idea! I have actually had this candle holder for quite a long time, but I finally decided to play with it some and make it my own. I knew I wanted to do glass etching, but there are very few style options in pre-made stencils. So I decided to make my own! Using a roll of Magic Cover Clear Transparent vinyl (like this one), I sketched out a few designs. It took a few practice attempts before I had any success at transferring a stencil to glass, but it’s all part of the learning process! I will detail out some of the difficulties as we go.

As for the designs, I really like the flowing feeling of the scrollwork and wanted to mimic that in my designs for the glass holders. And you may have noticed that I enjoy floral, henna-inspired designs.

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I only took pictures of two out of the five while they were in progress, but they all looked pretty similar. This is the part that I had some difficulty with is earlier practice pieces.

The first attempt was one a spare wine glass. After sketching out a simple floral design, I cut out the design and then tried to transfer it to the glass. It would not line up, no matter what I did! I figured it was the curve of the wine glass, called it a learning experience and moved on. I then tried another practice design on a straight glass and had the same problem.

Overall, both of these practice attempts showed that to successfully transfer the design, I had to apply the vinyl to the glass after I sketched it but before cutting it out. Once I learned this lesson, it worked much better!

After cutting out the design, I applied a coat of the Armour Etch with the paintbrush. While the directions on the bottle say 5 minutes for custom stencils, I found that leaving the Armour Etch for closer to 7 minutes seemed to work a little better.

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Once the 7 minutes was up, I washed the Armour Etch off, removed the vinyl and wiped down the glass with a paper towel.

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I am really happy with how they turned out! I love being able to personalize the decor in our home!

What do you do to bring your personality into your home? Do you like adding your own touches and DIY decor projects?

Learning Henna

Henna is something that I had seen before, but hadn’t had any personal exposure to until around a year ago, when I went to a small gathering teaching about henna. I didn’t do any myself, but was shown how to and had a design done on my hand. I was hooked! I immediately went home and started researching, reading as much as I could. I ordered some from Henna Caravan shortly after that and started practicing. I honestly haven’t done much yet, but I am slowly working to build my confidence.

Here is some designs I did last summer. Read More