Monday, January 30, 2017

Vegas PL Pages // 6X8 Travel Mini Album

ALL we are doing is moving. We have so much stuff. I'm basically a hoarder at this point. I swear I've been getting rid of the excess, and I have more to sort even still... but my goodness. I've thrifted so/too many treasures.... oy. 

The goal is to finish tonight!! So that way we can officially start getting cozier in our new space. We have most of the furniture situated... but we are still working to unpack boxes (or store long-term).. so basically we have furniture set up.. but also just a ton of CRAP everywhere. Hoping hoping hoping to be done soon!!! 

I started this album back in July and I've been having so much fun with it! I shared my first four PL videos recently, they showed my Houston & Galveston Pages, my San Francisco Pages, my Georgia Pages, and finally my Nashville pages. Check those out! To learn about the process, supplies, etc. for my other sections, you can watch my videos. :)










What do you guys think?

I am also currently working on the last (small) section of this album, and then I am going to continue my 2016 Monthly Highlights PL album, which I am about half-way done with! I'll probably do something for 2017 as well.. .but since we are just moving right now... it will be easy to catch up on quickly!

Have you done any scrapbooking or project life albums? 

Have you been to Las Vegas? What was your favorite thing there?

Any fun trips planned for 2017???!?!?!

I would love to hear about it!

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Erin's Book Challenge 6.0

Happy Wednesday! I hope you guys are having a great week so far! We've been moving like crazy, last night was our first night sleeping in our new "apartment" with our cats... oh my. Poor things.

Needless to say, very very little time for reading! Hoping to settle in soon, because I really miss normal life!!

Today I am sharing a reading challenge list I am participating in. This one is Erin's Reading Challenge 6.0.

Because I am doing my Book Ban... (not fully successfully..) I am choosing all (or almost all) books I own/already have from the library! :)

Erin's Reading Challenge 6.0 (initial post and rules)

January 1 - April 30 - each book must be 200+ pages




5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.
Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber (library) - because I needed something light, and already had this one from the library!

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.

10 points: Read a book with six words in the title.

15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (own) - not quite sure on this one... 

20 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title (inspired by the book Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin that I read last challenge with a character who is obsessed with homonyms.) Helpful link: https://www.cooper.com/alan/homonym_l...

20 points: (Submitted by Linda) Read a book by your favorite author.

25 points: (Submitted by Christina) Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum (can't remember if I own this...) OR In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (own) - Love Capote's writing! Polar opposites these books... hahah

30 points: (Submitted by Peggy) Read a “Rory Gilmore” book. The character of Rory from the Gilmore Girls was shown reading over 300 different books throughout the series. Choose one of them from this helpful link: https://www.buzzfeed.com/krystieyando... HELP! TOO MANY GOOD OPTIONS!!! 

30 points: (Submitted by Stef) Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read.)

35 points: (Submitted by Ferne) Read a book with time travel. Helpful link: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/4...

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (do not own!) OR The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (do not own!) OR Green Darkness by Anya Seton (do not own!) - this last one could also work for the green category!

I'm REALLY excited about this list. These are almost all books I own, already have from a friend or the library, and I have been wanting to get to many of these for quite a while. :) 

Is any one else participating? What's on your list?

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, January 23, 2017

Nashville PL Pages // 6X8 Travel Mini Album

Hi everyone! 

I hope that you had a great weekend! We spent the majority of it packing and moving. We are very close to being done, I think this week/weekend we will finish! Woohoo! :) 

I enjoyed seeing all of the lovely marches and unity around the world this weekend! Seeing people come together is a lot of what we have been missing lately, and I found it truly heart warming. I watched live feeds from two cities near to me, friend who were there, no arrests at any of the marches in the entire country! Amazing! Of course, enjoying something nice like that always comes with the criticism of folks who are only seeing the "bad" side, or who don't seem to want to investigate the purpose of it....... so I had some facebook grumbles over the weekend too... KC has actually been taking away my phone! ha! Because it's seriously a great way to have a nice day ruined. hahaha It's actually working really well that he's been taking it away! As for the grumbles ... there's nothing much I can do to change the way people want* to see things! So... moving right along!

MY CATS ARE A HUGE PAIN IN THIS VIDEO! :P

I learned about PL in the last few years, it's a fun style of scrapbooking that has divided pockets and page protectors. You can buy kits to fit in the pockets (usually 4 X 6 and 3 X 4 cards and matching stickers, etc.) and it kind of gives you some limitations and different formats on how you can scrapbook. I really like it, but I am enjoying this approach a little more than the few times I have played with the kits. It's easy but it still lets me be creative. A win win in my book! :)

I started this back in July and I've been having so much fun with it! I shared my first three PL videos recently, they showed my Houston & Galveston Pages, and my San Francisco Pages, and my Georgia Pages, check those out! To learn about the process, supplies, etc. for my first two sections, you can watch my videos. :)








What do you guys think?

Have you done any scrapbooking or project life albums? 

Have you been to Nashville? What was your favorite thing there?

Do you have any creative goals for 2017?

I would love to hear about it!

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, January 20, 2017

Have You Heard? // N'sync - "Giddy Up" // Thowback

Whew... it was kind of the week from hell. But, it's over! Hooray!

What's better than N'sync after a long week...? Possibly many things depending on who you are. But it's working for me today.



Have a great weekend!

We are packing, moving, and having fun this weekend.

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Life Changes... We're Moving! // Here We Go 2017!

So... things are still brewing, and if I'm being honest, getting worse... :(

BUT... we are still focusing on what we can do, change, and ways to stress less on our own.


Which brings me to some big decisions for me and KC. After a long time deliberating (and honestly not considering it for a while...) we've decided to move in with KC's parents. Sorry if the title is misleading. We're not moving anywhere exotic. haha

They offered quite a while ago, and we had no intention of taking them up on it. But the bottom line is, with all of the stress and chaos going on right now, I'd like to be closer to having our own little haven... which we do not right now.


By moving in with them we will be able to save (at least) twice as quickly, and then possibly be able to buy a home! We've been decided on it for a little more than a week, and we are moving fast. We've already moved almost all of my books over there, I've packed up my hanging clothes, and purged a lot of very old things! My in-laws have already blocked off a doorway to create our "apartment" on the lower level of their home, and things are being moved and painted, packed, and stored. I'm feeling really good about the progress, and our current goal is to be out by the end of the month. #ambitious

ALL THESE CLOTHES WERE DONATED!!! WOOOHOOOOO! 



We will actually have MORE space than we do in our current apartment, but we'll have to share a kitchen and venture up a level for our showers. That's something I can live with for a while. Meal prep might be tricky, but I am sure we can figure it out.

Because of all of this, some of my other goals might temporarily suffer, but I think it will be worth it. All that being said, we are over our yoga goal for both weeks in January so far! So that's good!


We also downloaded this app that my (banker!) sister recommended, called "You Need a Budget". She's been able to save loads by using it, and so we are giving it a try too! It's $60 per year, but if we can save even half of what my sister did... it will be WELL worth it! I'm hoping that we can be ULTRA frugal these next few months, and be mega homebodies so we can make progress even more quickly!


Anyhow, making changes feels good, I know that this is something that we can do, a change we can make, progress we can monitor and see. Which feels really good when there are so many things we CAN'T control.

It's hard to say for sure how long we will be with my in-laws. It will be influenced a lot by how much we are able to save extra, by being super thrifty... and the house market, etc. once we are "ready" to look. Lots of factors here! If I'm being ambitious... I'd like to get out by October.... but that may not be realistic down the line. All the same, I hope we can continue to be ambitious and make progress.

This idea was definitely at least partially influenced by Kristen and (her) KC's big change/move. I wanted to do it then... but needed a kick in the pants from life. TAKE IT BACK, LIFE. TAKE IT BACK! :P

What are you guys up to?!

What are your top budgeting strategies?!??!?!

Any super cheap meals that you love? Meal prep strategies?!

Send me your links ladies!

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, January 16, 2017

How to Set & Track Goals Using Your Planner & Evernote // Planner Addict


This post is for those of you who love planners & goal setting. As you guys know, I am big into both. I posted about my first ECLP 3 Months In, and 6 Months in, I also filmed a companion video tour of my planner and I saw that you guys were interested in this post. So here we go, feel free to ask questions if I leave something out! :)



I made a youtube video to explain this process, feel free to read/watch or both. I'm a visual person, so I figured I would get some videos into the world for other folks who are too. :)

Evernote:

The first thing I do when I make a list of goals, is stick it into Evernote. It's a program that you are probably familiar with, but it keeps little stacks of editable/sort-able notes in one place. You can keep the program on two devices and access it online anytime. I keep Evernote on my iphone and my computer. This way, I can ALWAYS see my goal lists. I like to use Evernote in combination with my paper planner - but it's also great because I can use it on-the-go... when I don't have my tote or planner with me. It also makes it easy to flip between one set of goals to the next. I have a lot, so it can be hard to keep track of!

Planner Set Up:

The way the vertical ECLP that I am using works has a specific set up, so I will share that first. You might have to adapt this method depending on how your planner is set up.

My planner has:
  • a spread for yearly goals in the front. 
  • monthly spreads where you can view the whole month, with a small side bar for monthly goals.
  • a weekly spread that breaks up each day vertically into three sections. I divide these sections into "Brand" - blog and stationery brand, "Home" - chores and errands, and "Self" - personal goals and chores. 
    • The weekly spread also has a left hand side bar that I use for my menu and a spot for a "thankful thought" - great for gratitude journaling.
    • The weekly spread also has blank lines below each day, that is where I add in anything that has a specific time, like an event, appointment, etc.
Paper Planners & Goal Setting:




Yearly: 

When I make a list of yearly goals, I put it in the front of my planner. The ECLP I bought last year has a spot for yearly goals in the front, however, you could write yours out or print them and tape them into the front of your planner with washi tape. However works for you. :)


Monthly: 

The next thing I do is break down my yearly goals into monthly ones. For example, in 2016 I want to read 50 books. So in January, I added a monthly goal to read 5 books. In my ECLP there is a spot for monthly goals on the month overview page. However, if your planner doesn't have a spot for this, feel free to add in a page with tape, or go straight to writing them on a weekly page. Repeat with each goal. Sometimes my monthly goals are not related directly to my yearly ones, but are other things that I really want to get done. Like a cleaning or organizing project, or planning out a future trip. I add these in at the same time - generally at the end of the previous month.

At this time I also write in any birthdays, events, vacations, etc. into the monthly format. Because one of my goals often relates to movies, dates, concerts, etc. etc. If it is already planned I might write it on the page in ink - or add a sticker. For travel I like to use strips of washi tape to mark off the days on my monthly view. I also look at my FB saved events, and websites for theaters, etc. and place a post-it note in the monthly pages of my calendar to mark an event we *might* go to. The post-it includes, title, location, time, time range (if it runs for a week, etc.), and price if I can find it. - that way I have all of the info. KC and I (or sometimes just I) narrow down those post-its and buy tickets for things that we really want to go to. Sometimes we have to narrow more than others, and recently we've been trying to plan only one event per weekend on our own, because we know we'll end up spending time with family or friends - or both! This keeps us from being so busy. However, things tend to be clumped, for whatever reason there is always quite a bit happening at the same time, and nothing happening at other times... and so it goes.

I also mark our pay days as well. This is helpful in general, but also for goals related to making bigger purchases or extra purchases. For example, I had a goal to buy new bras every month in the first few months of the year. Knowing when we would be paid helped me to order them at a good time.



Weekly:

When I add planned events (not possible ones) to my monthly spreads, I also add them to my weekly spreads. I write those events (including time and place) on the lines below my vertical daily section. That way I never forget because I wasn't looking at the monthly page. I also will add them in as needed, it's not always done way in advance. I also add washi tape for vacation days over the full three sections of the vertical weekly spread for each day I will be gone. I don't schedule out vacation activities in my planner, I just block those days off. I shouldn't be blogging, working, or worrying about chores when I am on vacation. For events that are re-curring or planned for just that week, like a dinner with a friend, or KC's "guys night" - I also write those in on the blank lines.

At the end / beginning of each week I look through my monthly goals and try to place them into my weekly page. For example, if I have a goal to send out a birthday gift for my dad, I go into my planner and add to pick it out several weeks in advance, package it up a week in advance, and send it - all within time for it to get to him.

Other goals, like reading 5 books per month are put into my weekly format in a simpler way. I just write "read" in my "self" section of my vertical ECLP daily. That way I am reminded to read daily. I also track my goal completion/progress in my planner which helps as a motivator. (more on that later).

For goals like trying 5 new recipes within a month, I try to put those into a blank side column where I keep my menu notes. I write out each day of the week for lunch and dinner and then fill in the blanks. This also helps me keep on top of knowing when we'll need more food or what night will be good to go out to eat. We typically try to plan going out to eat around other evening activities on the weekly schedule. If we need to get a second set of groceries later on in the week, I also write that in on my weekly schedule under the "home" section of my vertical ECLP where needed.


There are a few things that I write onto my weekly spread under the "self" section every day. I write "Read. Create. Move. Floss" - so I remember to do those things - or can track easily which days I did not do those things. I just cross them off as I complete them. If you use a cleaning schedule or schedule out when to pay bills, etc. etc. you could easily add those into your weekly spreads in advance.

Paper Planners & Goal Tracking:

So you know how I set up my goals, but here's a bit more on how I visually track them. It definitely helps me to see my progress as I flip through my planner!

I obviously cross out or check off goals that I have finished within the yearly and monthly goal formats. I check them off on the daily sections as well like a to-do list. But there are other ways I track my goals in my planner too.

When I don't meet a goal, or I need to move it to the next month I mark that on my monthly goals by putting a "N" for "Next Month" or a marker of progress in the box instead of a check mark. For example, if I wanted to plan out a trip in advance, but didn't make it, then I might put in an "N" for "Next Month." In which case, I then go ahead and write it down on the next month's goal area - even if it's not time to set all of the goals for the next month yet. If I had a goal to read 5 books, but only read 4, I might put a 4 in the check box instead of a check. Did I complete it? No. But seeing something there helps me look back on how close I got, and what I DID achieve. You could use any sort of color coding, symbol coding (ala bullet journal), etc. to code these types of things. Whatever works for you!

Another thing I do to show my progress is to mark things that I have finished/done in my weekly pages. For example, if I finished a book on a given day, I mark that into my "self" section of my vertical ECLP or below that. Ex: "Finished Dumplin'" This way I can easily see while flipping through that I finished a book on that week/day. I do the same thing for my goal about watching Disney movies.


For menu planning and cooking goals specifically, I use the left hand blank space for my menu, and below that I make another box that says "New Recipes" - I write the ones from the menu that are new in the new box, and continue that total weekly at the bottom to see how close I am getting to my goal for the year.

For workouts and healthy eating I mostly just add little notes on my daily spread. Under the "self" section of the vertical layout next to "Move" I put what exercise I did and how many minutes next to it. I often circle it so it's easy to see. Other times I put notes to myself like, "No soda today!" etc. You could use the sections to write in little circles that represent cups of water and check them off as you drink them, whatever works for you and whatever you are wanting to track.


The last way that I track goals in my planner is by utilizing the blank pages at the end of each month and also at the end of the planner itself. Things I have used those pages for:
  • checklists and ideas for KC's bday week
  • random notes
  • books I have read so far this year
  • book challenges and my picks for them - which I check off as I finish
  • keeping track of my "book ban" progress - more on that later
  • lists of books I've been meaning to read - for when I need an idea
  • lists of shows to start watching & catch up on with KC - by genre
  • ideas for food when people come over - just in case!
  • I also keep addresses in the back of my planner. If someone moves I add a post-it with the new address until I know what it will be long-term.
  • I keep track of the new things I have tried each month - new foods, experiences, etc. etc.
I think the longer I use this, and the more time I have to continue organization within my life and goals, the more things I will use my planner to track. Up ahead I am hoping to focus more on cleaning schedules and all things healthy living within my planner.

Bottom Line:

Use your planner in a way that works for you, and track the things that you care about. If you don't have a goal to read, you don't need to track your books, etc. Don't use it for things you don't care about. Make what you have work for you! It doesn't have to be expensive, extensive, fancy, pretty, etc. It just needs to be what works for you. If you can write in sections of a $5 planner and have the space to track what you want to, do it! :)

Whew! This is the longest post in existence... but it should give you a good and specific idea of how I use my planner, how I keep it organized, and how I create and track my goals within my planner. I hope that this helps some of you and gives you ideas on how to use yours.

Do you have any questions?

Did I miss anything?

How do you track your goals in your planner?! I'd love to know!

Any new strategies you are trying for 2017?

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, January 13, 2017

Have You Heard? // A Fine Frenzy "Now Is The Start"

Hello friends!

I mentioned that my new year is off to a rocky start due to some external stuff... (thank you for your sweet comments by the way!!) but I'm feeling oddly motivated by not having any control over it. Does that make sense? Either which way, I'm happy to say I've mostly kept motivation to make changes that I want to make, and work toward things I want to see happening soon!


This is one of my favorite, "you can do it!" songs. It's upbeat and fun, and it makes me want to dance and sing. I don't know, but I'm feeling like it's a good start to the first full weekend in 2017. I hope it gives you a feeling like you can do whatever it is you hope to this weekend!



I actually love a lot of this album, and I think I may have shared this one before.. but I don't care! hehe

Enjoy & have a lovely weekend!

What are you up to this weekend? We are supposed to get an ice storm. So we have some possible plans (hanging out with my sister while the boys watch football, and prepping marmalade with my friend Rachel to can on Monday!) Yay, for long weekends! Other than that, I am hoping to continue the productive streak and possibly see La La Land. Has anyone seen it yet?!?

Other Posts Recently: Georgia Travel Album Video, My Favorite Books of 2017, and Goals for 2017 and Word of the Year.

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Goals & Word


Wow, Happy Wednesday friends,

I don't know about you, but 2017 has started with an explosion... and not a good one. I'm not really ready to get into it, but let's just say this explosion has caused some after booms for me and KC (and plenty of others). Most of which are confusing. But KC and I are trying to use our energy in a positive way, if not getting little intensely motivated/extreme. More on all this later...bleh.

Reflections & Goal Planning/Explanation: 

I did some reflecting on 2016 and a lot of what I realized about my anxiety is that it often stems from a lack of space. Whether that is physical space, mental space, or a sense of freedom. So a lot of my goals are centered around those ideas. :) This may seem like a giant list, but a lot of it is written to accommodate specific ideas, and *trying* things... even if I don't end up implementing them longer-term. Some of them are also things that I am currently doing, that I want to continue with. I've been thinking hard about all of my goals and issues I want to work on, and what those big and small moving pieces are. So, I am choosing the word "space" this year for obvious reasons. I don't usually pick a word, but I think it will really help me focus this year! :)

Health 

Work out 3x's per normal week (at least)
Put Healthy Meals on Rotation
Try 25 New Healthy Recipes (add them to rotation if we like them enough!)
Get new mattress = sleep better
Continue to take stairs and walks at work
Try out at least one active hobby (ideas: SUP, kayaking, boxing, etc.)
Get dental work done
Visit a dermatologist
Attempt grazing - I'm the WORST snacker...
Focus on healthy breakfasts & caffeine sources

Stress

Limit & be intentional with plans that we make
Do one de-stressing activity per day (yoga, coloring, reading, meditating, etc.)
De-clutter (physical clutter = mental clutter)
     -sort through boxes and tubs in storage at KC's parent's house - ALREADY STARTED!
     -coat closet
     -wall hanging items
     -kitchen cabinets/kitchen craziness...
     -under bathroom sink
     -bathroom linen closet
     -jewelry box
     -vanity!!
     -boxes of un-homed junk...
     -things I hide in the closet....
     -filing paperwork....
Reduce amount of technology that I have to deal with
     -limit notifications
     -unsubscribe from email lists
     -delete drobox from laptop...
     -have "un-reachable" times?
     -etc.
Check long-standing items off my to-be-done list. I love Gretchen Rubin's 1 hour per week idea!
     -being healthy (folded in above)
     -dentist (same)
     -DSLR skills
     -sewing skills
     -reading classics
Make a point to listen to music!
Purchase an essential oil diffuser
Look into getting a weighted blanket

Brand

Populate my Etsy with invite templates
Do a bridal show (maybe)
Make Flyers and put up around town #oldschool
Re-brand blog
Continue/improve with Youtube
Scheduling items (see scheduling section below)
Learn more about what y'all like reading about in this space!

Creative

Take a cooking class
Pick up (try) either: sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery... something NON-paper!
Do a 2017 PL/scrapbook album (monthly highlights, as the year goes on) - keep sharing the progress!
Attend more non-concert live performances
Do some type of photo challenge (even a short one)
Apply to be on 2018 creative teams with documenting brands!
Take a DSLR course
Food in Jars challenge with Rachel (flexibly!)
Make a new dessert
Get a better/more versatile printer for documenting

Scheduling

Set up a rough guideline for using my Tuesdays well (or a rigid schedule)
Make a social media posting schedule (because I forget and it stresses me out!)
Make a cleaning schedule
Try some meal-prepping schedules - find something that works pretty well

Cozy Family - inspired by the ideas of hygge and minimalism

Learn about Hygge and apply some ideas from it to our day-to-day life
Create more traditions with KC as our own little family (seasonal, holiday, weekend, little things, etc.)
Make a point to enjoy and experience each season
Be at home more
Take our time and be slow

Books

Read 50 total books
Read at least one book from each category:
     -biography/memoir
     -poetry
     -graphic novel
     -horror
     -science fiction
     -thriller
     -mystery
     -historical fiction
     -short story
     -essay
Complete a reading challenge
Read 5 Non-fiction books, not including cookbooks/craft books that are just skimmed
Read 5 Classics (ideas: Jane Austen & F. Scott Fitzgerald, War and Peace, and Wuthering Heights)
Continue with book ban (specifically reading mostly owned books, and selling them once I am done reading!)

Travel

Go back to NOLA
Plan out NYC!
<3 p=""> Visit at least two other new places (even if they are close-by)
Travel with friends
Try a new food

Entertaining

Find a dress for SIL's wedding
Plan bachelorette/shower night for Juliet
Continue having game nights
Epic KC bday week
Have a "Galantine's Party"!
Give 6 little gifts
Spoil the heck outta Jess's baby
Swap GG nights for Movie nights with close friends
Generally plan more things with my girlfriends (because they're pretty amazing)

What do you do specifically do de-stress?

Do you have an essential oil diffuser? If so, which one, I'm on the hunt... but there's tons to sift through! #overwhelmed

Likewise, there are a ton of books on Hygge, have any of you read them? Also sifting through TONS of those!! 

Healthy/easy breakfast ideas? Send them my way!! 

What do you do for little traditions with your family/SO/Roomie/etc.?

What types of posts do you most like to read here? Which ones don't you love? What do you want to see more of, or added to this blog?

I know most of you have posted your goals for the year, and I've loved reading them! But feel free to tell me more about them below!!

Let's do this 2017!

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, January 9, 2017

My Favorite Books of 2016 // Bookworm

Since I missed the 2016 linkup, here are my favorite (& least favorite) books of 2016!


Delightful from Beginning to End: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy & Anna and The French Kiss (Series) by Stephanie Perkins


OMG. MUST. FINISH. THIS.: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas & Mara Dyer (Trilogy) by Michelle Hodkin


Children's Book / Art Book: Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess by Janet Hill < also, most whimsical.


Cookbook: Cake Magic! Mix and Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations by Caroline Wright - every cake we have made has been AMAZING, and I'm not really a cake person!


Best Fantasy (different types, and I read A LOT!): Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-GarciaThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake , and The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. - these three were all surprises in their own ways... and I loved them!


Best Series (Retelling): Scarlet Trilogy by A.C. Gaughan (spin on Robin Hood, reads like action-packed historical fiction) & Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (sci-fi twist on Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White)


Best Series (Dark): Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin


Short Story: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins


Historical Fiction: The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay - loooooved!


Horror: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - not scary, really different and enjoyable!


Self Help: Radical Self Love by Gala Darling - loved the amount of practical ideas and activities in here. More user-friendly than many self-help type books.


Romance: Anna and The French Kiss (Series) by Stephanie Perkins < sweet, & A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas < sultry. I didn't read any true romance novels this year.

Best Non Fiction: No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering by Clara Benson - quarter life crisis + travel. I found this inspiring and relate-able.


One that I Like More as Time Goes On: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith


Pleasant Surprises (didn't expect to like so much!): Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding - because I had already watched it, Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz -because I didn't know anything about it, & don't read a ton of mystery.


Let Downs (thought they'd be better): Starting Now by Debbie Macomber & 12 Days of Christmas, The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen, Austenland by Shannon Hale, Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle, Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber. Macomber's books fell flat for me... does she have a ghost writer? SAA is my fave, but this one was a little over the top. I still liked it, but not as much as the others. Austenland was not as enjoyable as the movie for me. Summerlong was a struggle. Did not like. Miss Peregrine was really boring for me. Witches of East End books were a little silly, not nearly as fun as the television show. The Secret Healer was not great... couldn't finish it. Either bad translation or too basic of writing. Also in this category: Exposure to a Billionaire. Cool idea, not a fun read.

Struggling to pick a more narrowed list...

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 

Life According to Steph

What were your favorite books of 2016?

What's on deck for 2017?

See my 2015 favorites, here. - much shorter list! HA

XO,

Alexandra

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Twelve Months In // 2016 Goal Review

In order to keep up with my goals for 2016 a little better, I have been trying to do monthly mini goals. :) See my 2016 goals here

December Goals:

1) Finish Christmas Gifts (planning, purchasing, wrapping, sending/delivering)




Whew, you guys! I feel like a Christmas miracle in terms of getting this stuff checked off! :) Our plans went quickly, mine for KC just rabbit holed into this great idea! The purchasing was overall easy and met with lots of lovely holiday discounts for Cyber Monday, etc. We spent a few days wrapping and knocked that out quickly. How cute is the fox paper?! I even got Olya's blog swap gift shipped out a full day early! :) We got small gifts shipped a few weeks into December, and the big ones shipped out in time to meet their folks. I feel good about it all! :) 

2) Do some reflecting on 2016 goals, and set goals for next year!




I did a tiny bit of thinking about goals early in December, but most of the big thinking came at the beginning of 2017.... and I'm excited to share my goals with you soon! :) 

3) Decide what project life size and method I want to do next year




Blegh, I was waffling between another 6X8 and a 9X12. Leaning 6X8 because it was fun and easy.... now I'm thinking I'll decide as I go, but each month will probably end up being a book. I got a mini 4X4 album that I think will be fun to use. :) 

4) Watch 2 Disney Movies - almost there!!


We did it! We watched Big Hero 6 and Frozen. Big Hero 6 is the stinkin' cutest thing I've ever seen. Baymax is my favorite. KC even got me a Funko Pop of him for Christmas! :) We watched Frozen on a snowy day.. .so all was right with the world.

5) Get an essential oil diffuser


Nope...

6) Decide if we want to buy a new bed or not....


WE DID THIS ON THE LAST DAY! Yay, 1 year later on our anniversary (again!) we actually made the purchase. SO. JAZZED. CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU! :) Hello, decent sleep. Let's be BFFs!

7) Read some fairy tales! 


I read half of The Snow Queen... LOL

8) Find a way to celebrate the holidays with our friends. :)




We ended up having a New Year's Day game night. It was fun and basically counts. :) hehe

9) Work on Simply Alexandra Stationery holiday cards & giveaways!




I finished up my three orders... and didn't do any giveaways. Perhaps new year giveaways. :)

10) Finish KC and I's holiday Cards!




Yes, I did this and I think they turned out super cute! :) After doing everyone's holiday cards we end up doing New Year's letter type post cards. :) These are not our cards... just my thank you notes... because I'm feeling #lazy . 

Overall Total: 7/12

Overall December was a calm month as expected right up until the holidays. Work was relatively low-key, we didn't have tons of events to plan or host, we didn't even have lots of social stuff on our calendar. Praise Gouda. However... I was being kind of lazy... or like random busy... ? Like my friend and I hung out longer after dinners in December. We slept in more... I didn't want to spend my nights designing our cards.. or coming up with TONS of giveaways like last year... so it's a mix of laziness and that most of my goals only benefited myself and had no urgent timeline! HA.

2016 Goal Review:


Where did the year go??!?!?!??!
  • Read 50 books 57!
    • 7 classics - just 1!
    • 2 eco friendly books - zero!
    • 25 fairytales, folktales, myths, legends, etc. (some of which may not be full books, could be short stories, poems, etc.) - 17
Calling this a pass! I finished the 50 (passed it actually!) woot! I only read 1 classic, and 17 fairy tales. I didn't read any eco books. Overall I am pleased with the variety and number of books that I read. I tried to read diversely... but I am hoping for even more in 2017 (including classics and non-fiction!)
  • Get TSA Pre Approved - (Oh, the time we'll save!!)
We decided not to do this mid-way through the year.
  • Get a New Bed
We decided with everything else going on this year that we would just get a new mattress rather than a whole new bed. Plus our apartment is so small. Thinking about how to fit a huge bed into our tiny space was stressful! We had lined up to purchase it at the same time as KC's sister so we could share the IKEA delivery (~$150). Unfortunately we got home from Savannah and they had already finished all of that. Pretty disappointing... but we did all the deciding on our anniversary.. .so we technically passed. YAHOO! :) We just got a mattress/box spring thingy... but it counts! :)
  • See Coldplay / Get Tickets to See Coldplay - if they ever announce their North American tour dates...
Check! We purchased tickets for August and it was a great show. We took a short weekend trip to Tulsa, and a road trip with my friend Jessica so we could check Coldplay off of her bucket list! :) See the trip, here.
  • Visit 6 New Places
    • 1 on our list for a long time
    • 1 road trip
Check, check, check! We have more than completed this one! We visited Houston,GalvestonSan Francisco, Carmel, Big Sur, Weston, Missouri, Savannah, Tybee Island, and Jekyll Island and Las Vegas and Boulder City, NV. We also went back to Nashville - which was a true road trip. 
  • Try 50 New to Me Recipes
Check! This goal was surpassed! Lots of new favorites, and a cake book I will NEVER give up!
  • Plan 12 Date Nights
Check! I did this. Most of our date nights were concerts, movies, dinner, nothing too creative. I hope to get more creative about it in the future... but it's still a pass.
  • Watch 12 Disney Movies
We were doing really badly at this one, until June. Oddly enough, we were very busy, but managed to stay home some nights for Disney movies. We are also adding Disney DVDs to our collection which is good! We finished this goal right before Christmas, this year we watched: Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Finding Dory, Tarzan, Mulan, Tangled, Pocahantas, Beauty & The Beast, Cinderella, Big Hero 6 (OMG!), and Frozen.
  • Do Yoga / Dance / DVD Workout 150 times
Fail! My friend Rachel and I tried to use a google doc to track our workouts and/or text about it. We did SO well at this in April, and I did OK in May... but June was a wash. Rachel has still been doing fine, but I fell off the wagon. Since then I did pitifully at DVD workouts. One weird discrepancy is that Rachel and I count walking... but my 2016 goal doesn't include it. I also count a good day as taking as many stairs as possible (I work on 7!) And that doesn't count either. So, we shall see how it all shakes out. I only did about (a pathetic) 30 DVD workout sessions. Walking and stairs happen multiple times per week now... so I really don't know how to count this. But it's basically a fail.
  • Make a Point to Eat Lots of Veggies at least once per day
Check! This is a poorly written goal, but overall I think we have been making veggies more of a priority. We've been doing mason jar salads, some meatless meals, and even eating more fruit. So, I think we are reasonably on track here in terms of progress, I hope to do even better in 2017!! But I want to keep eating more veggies. The end of the year has been worse... but overall I think this is enough improvement to constitute a pass.
  • Get All Dental Work Done - I'm a big baby, and I'm TERRIFIED
Fail! None of this yet. I just need to suck it up and make the appointment!
  • Learn About (or how to do) 5 New Things
Check! I learned how to make Vanilla Extract, Blackberry Jam (canned it too!), how to use Airbnb, a little about the history of lingerie at a WWI Museum event, and about Halloween Trivia for a work party. Also, you cannot deny the awesomeness that is learning to do a crockpot hot chocolate. :)
  • Get an essential oil diffuser and eco-friendly candles
Half way on this one. I did get some lavender vanilla candles from The Honest Company. I also bought a few more Aura Cacia oils from Target. I now have Lavender, Orange, Vanilla, Peppermint, Tea Tree, and I can't remember the others off the top of my head. Now I just need to find a diffuser - and eventually a case to put the oils in.
  • Save Money - we did great at this in 2015!
Check! We did way better at this than we did last year! (and we did pretty well last year!) Mostly because we didn't really start last year until August/September. We have been able to set aside money every other paycheck, and most of that is still in our account. We do take some out when we travel, but we try to limit that. Half way through the year, we adopted a key strategy in intentionally planning the fun things we'll do... and having that limit there for our wallets as well as our sanity. We have not been home enough and it really takes a toll! I did not start at a new grocery store yet, and I still have some other savings goals. I am happy with where we ended up. Even if we lost a chunk of change on the mattress. #investments Also, yay for that book ban! :) (even if I'm only doing so/so on it.... :P )
  • Find a Treasure
Check! This one was written ambiguously on purpose. What a romantic notion to find a treasure. As it turns out, treasures are everywhere when you look...  so I may just have to do a post on finding treasures. :) 
  • Seek Out Water - drink it, be near it, hear it, look at it... you get the idea, as much as possible.
Check! I have always been pretty good about drinking water. I carry around a 20 oz tumbler of icy water every day and always finish it, and usually refill it multiple times. Our new strategy of freezing a bit of water in the empty tumbler and then filling it full with water in the morning works really well and is saving on ice. Though it does make the straw float as the ice melts hahaha! 

We are fortunate that many of our travels have taken us near water this year. In GalvestonSan Francisco, Carmel, and Big Sur it was too cool to actually get in the water... at least in the passing amount of time we had there. But just being near it made me feel good. & it never hurts to dip your feet. When we went to Georgia, we made sure to plan some beach time. We really enjoyed swimming at Tybee's north beach and getting caught in a seriously scary/exhilarating storm afterward. We also swam in Jekyll. Just being near the water so much has been really nice!

Even though I feel good about my water goal for the year so far, I'd like to try some of these things in future years: going to our apartment complex pool more, visiting the local lake, trying SUP, trying kayaking, having some type of water fountain, etc. in our house. Or maybe listening to those nature sounds.

Bottom Line: I think I did pretty well with these goals this year! We abandoned the TSA Precheck, which is ok! I didn't enjoy the struggle of getting a new bed (but we did it!!), going to the dentist was a fail, and DVD workouts were pitiful...... But I think that chunking out my yearly goals into monthly goals helped... and that possibly doing it more intentionally into weekly goals will help in 2017! Another thing that majorly helped was my ECLP and using it to plan better and be more organized! Because you all were interested ... I filmed a goal setting video using my 2016 ECLP. It is coming soon if you're looking for planning inspiration! :)

How did you do on your 2016 goals? 

How does your progress influence your goals for 2017?

Have you made your lists for 2017? If so, I'd love to read them! I promise to share mine soon! :)

Anyone else doing a 101 in 1,001 list? Check out my 2 year progress HERE.

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch for, What's New With You?

What's New With You

XO,

Alexandra