January 2017 Review

Hello and welcome to my first monthly progress review! I have a lot of goals for this year so I thought a good idea would be to look at my stats and progress each month and see how I’m doing.

Blog Stats and Progress

I haven’t been keeping track very well, but I believe I got 16 new followers in the month of January for a total of 161 (excluding myself). I’d really love to reach 500 followers this year, so we’ll see. 200-250 is probably a more attainable goal. I did also just purge a few followers who no longer seem to be active on WordPress.

I got 307 views on my blog for the month of January, compared to 166 in December when I wasn’t posting regularly. I had 203 visitors, 81 likes and 20 comments. Not too bad!

My most viewed post is still my Birdseye Protein Copycat post which got 253 views alone last year and 51 this month. My two Bullet Journal posts came in second and third.

Personal Goals and Bullet Journal Update

My main goals for the month of January were to exercise every day, lower my sugar intake, and practice my French every day (as well as fill out everything on my habit tracker). Exercising every day sounds intense, but I kept it simple. In the morning I’d do a very short routine just to get myself moving, and at night I’d tackle my current exercise challenge.

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I’m happy to say I completed this entire thing from Jan 1 – 30. It was not always easy but I powered through it. 100 squats is hopefully no one’s idea of fun, because it’s definitely not mine.

For lowering my sugar intake, I really paid attention to what I ate during the day. My main goal was to cut out everything containing high fructose corn syrup, and limit what I ate that contained other kinds of sugar. I bent the rules a bit sometimes like if I was in a hurry to head out the door and was starving, I ate part of a Power bar, or if I woke up in the morning starving on a weekend, I ate a bowl of Raisin Bran or Cheerios. Sometimes you just need a quick sugar burst when it’s low before, in my case, you get sick or cranky. At night after dinner I allowed myself less than a serving of good chocolate or cookies.

For February, my main goal will be to start and maintain a cleaning habit. I’ll be starting off with a ten day cleaning challenge and go from there.

Bullet Journal To Do and Habit Tracker:

I didn’t use my monthly to do list too much, I’ll stick with this format for another month and see if it gets used more eventually before I scrap it.

My habit tracker however was brilliant. I somehow managed to fill it out 100% for the month, which I’ve never done before and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else do either. I added a water and sugar tracker as well as a line for my writing word count.

I managed to fill out every box by keeping my bar set low. It’s about building habits after all. I made the bed every day (easy), made sure the kitchen sink was mostly clear at bedtime (not always entirely possible since our dishwasher broke twice this month but I made an effort every day), exercised twice a day, read (at least for five minutes), wrote (at least for five minutes), deliberately filled my water bottle and kept it with me, and kept my sugar intake low for the day.

I managed to write 11,220 words for the month! That’s really good, I will definitely keep up writing even a little bit every day.

For February, I’m keeping my habit tracker mostly the same.

 I removed the making the bed habit because I feel like that one is in place enough that I will keep it up regardless, when I go into the bedroom to get ready in the morning. I also removed the sugar habit though I plan on still keeping the intake on the low side. I’m still going to focus on dishes, exercise, reading, writing and water.

New this month is my teeth habit, sometimes it’s easy to skip brushing your teeth in the morning if you’re not going anywhere, and I’d like to fix that, shooting for twice a day. Also new is my cleaning tracker, to mark it off I need to clean at least one thing a day.

So far the only things noted on my to do list are tv shows that are starting in February and a book I need to read.

Bullet Journal Editorial


I really like my editorial calendar, I just need to figure out how to use it more efficiently. I figured out that scheduling all the books I’m going to post in advance is not a good idea, as sometimes I get new ones that need to go up around the pub date, and sometimes I start reading others that I don’t want to finish, let alone write about. I do think I’ll keep it for February though, as you can see below, even though I already messed up on it in a couple of places.

Bullet Journal 2017 Goals and Movies to Watch

I added this page after I posted my setup for 2017. This is going to be a running list of things I want to work on. So far I’d say I’m doing pretty well on my goals.

I don’t work 6 hours per day yet, and I don’t have a cleaning schedule, but I have been consistently posting at least 3 blog posts a week, practicing my French and writing every day.

Under Health and Food, I have been exercising and cutting down sugar. Working on the flexibility thing, this month I managed to grab my left foot twice and touch my toes a few times, but nowhere near consistent. I’d also like to start making freezer meals so I have a stock of go to meals I can just throw in the crock pot if I don’t feel like cooking on a weekend.

Movies to watch is self explanatory, it’s a continuation of the list I started last year. Embarrassingly, I just updated my blog version of this list for 2017 as I was writing this post.

Bullet Journal Weekly/Daily

I just don’t have enough going on in my day to justify taking the time to make a daily log. I like seeing my week at a glance and filling in anything I need to remember. I took inspiration from a few pretty bullet journals I’ve seen online for this one. I divided it into regular To Dos and Work To Dos. At the bottom of each day I also added the part of my exercise challenge I needed to do that day.

On the opposite page is my weekly list page. I have a list of blog posts I need to write for the week, my meal plan at a glance, my goal tasks from my master list that I’m focusing on, my reading list, my jobs, and my exercises. Each week I choose a short morning routine to do every day. The first week I had a notes section I didn’t use so the next week I removed it. Then the week after that I added a weekly to do list. I may have too many to do lists.

This was a bit long winded, I should come up with a more efficient way of reviewing the month.

Saving Wishes by G.J. Walker-Smith

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I downloaded this book during an ebook sale quite a while ago and just now got around to reading it. I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Charlotte (Charli) Blake is a seventeen year old who grew up in a tiny town in Australia and has no other dreams beyond leaving it behind to travel the world. She just wants to get through French class with her nemesis teacher, Gabrielle Decarie. Everything changes when a new guy in town almost runs her over with his car.

Adam is everything every guy in town is not: cultured, handsome and kind. He sees more in Charli than her troublemaker ways. He’s also Miss Decarie’s cousin from America. The more they learn about each other, the more they feel like they were destined to meet. There are too many coincidences.

As their relationship progresses, secrets start unraveling at a quick pace. Adam’s secret that he’s rich is the least interesting one of the lot, and far less life changing than the others. Will Charli give up her travel dreams for love, or will her ‘flee-itis’ keep her from simply letting herself be happy?

As a rule, I find most YA these days to be predictable and overdone, but I really liked this one. I like how they convince us that Adam and Charli are actually in love, but it’s very realistic in that no one expects a seventeen year old to actually change her life for a guy, nor does she really want to.

I really recommend this book. The secrets that come out are not what you’d expect, I like when books surprise me. I also like that this is the first of a series that actually feels like it’s not a cash grab. A lot of books tie everything up pretty neatly and then you see that it has a sequel or a series and it feels pointless. The ending is left open enough that a sequel makes sense, and I might be purchasing it at some point.

Click below to go to Amazon to buy the book. This is an affiliate link, so any purchases will go towards supporting this site. I was not compensated in any way to write this review. As of the time of this writing, the Kindle version of book #1 is free.

Saving Wishes

Weekly Pinterest Roundup — January 30

Welcome to my weekly Pinterest roundup, no images belong to me, only their respective owners. Click each picture to go to the link.

Pinterest is a huge help in my day-to-day life, I use stuff from it every single day from recipes to fitness routines to just cool lifestyle ideas. Every week I like to round up a few things that I really liked recently.

Inspiration:

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This poem tells about a hard truth a lot of people need to or will eventually learn, to just walk away from a bad situation.

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I’m not into the whole ‘food is medicine’ thing, but what I do believe is that food is preventative medicine. What you eat matters, and the ‘regarded as safe’ ingredients should still probably be avoided.

Food:

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I love this vegetarian stir fry dish.

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It’s no secret that spinach is my favorite vegetable but I also love edamame, and who doesn’t like rice?

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I often mix avocado with tuna, or spread it on top of sardines, and this looks delicious too.

Style:

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I love how simple yet elegant this dress is.

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These shoes are so colorful! Very color block, is that still a thing? I remember a few years ago color blocking was a huge trend.

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Another simple and elegant long skirt.

Other Stuff:

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This was an inspiration for our bathroom redo that I showed off last week.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #14 and 16

Welcome to my weekly throwback book review! Each week I’ll be rereading and reviewing one or two books from my childhood. I was a huge reader as a child and these books shaped my life. I couldn’t possibly get rid of them, so I still have a large collection that I am sharing with all of you in the form of reviews.

It’s been a while since the last book I own, which was #9. What We Missed: #10 Schoolhouse Mystery, in which the kids are dared to go to the most boring place, a remote fishing town, because everywhere they go, they find a mystery. Big surprise, they find a mystery anyway having to do with the village when they open up a schoolhouse for poor kids. #11 Caboose Mystery, in which they spend some time living on a train in the caboose. Lots of weird things happen with some circus people and there’s a missing necklace.

#12 Houseboat Mystery, in which the kids decide living on a houseboat will be fun. There’s something about a mysterious dark car and a missing vase. Are you seeing a pattern here? #13 Snowbound Mystery, in which they decide to go live in a cabin and get snowbound, and have to find some secret recipes?

#14 Tree House Mystery: The kids are finally done traveling, and after being summer for a whole stretch of books and then a random snowstorm, it’s nice weather outside again. The Aldens get new neighbors in the form of parents and their two sons who are eight and ten, and somehow younger than Benny, who we still have no idea how old he is. The kids seem bored so the Aldens come up with the idea of helping them build a treehouse in their yard. Come to find out, there was a treehouse built by the boys’ dad and uncle in that tree before, and they no longer speak because each one thought the other had lost or stolen their telescope.

While building the treehouse, they find the telescope hidden in a hole in the tree, and while looking through it, they discover a mysterious window in the roof of the neighbor’s house, and find out that it is in a boarded up room in the attic that no one knew was there. A woman had lived there before and her grandson had come to visit for the summer, and when she moved out, she didn’t want kids playing with her grandson’s toys so she hid the room instead of… taking the toys with her? Mystery solved I guess.

This one wasn’t too bad. It was a nice, kid-friendly mystery that was easily solved, though it was strange.

#15 Bicycle Mystery: I don’t own this one. The kids apparently take a bicycle trip to visit their great aunt again. They find a dog and go on an adventure to return it to its owner.

#16 Mystery in the Sand: I remember this one more than most of these. They’re living on the beach for a bit in a mobile home owned by their great aunt (seems a bit small for the sister of a rich guy, who owned a ranch and then a nice New England home). They make friends with an old man who has a metal detector, and Benny finds a locket with the initials RL. There’s also a mysterious big house in town with a reclusive lady living there. When Violet rescues a cat from traffic, they are invited into the big house where a second woman asks to paint her with the cat. This is Ruth Lane, a descendant of the original owners of the house, and the other woman is her housekeeper.

The kids befriend the two women, as they do, and Benny returns the locket to Ruth Lane. Their grandfather arranges a gallery opening for Ruth Lane’s art to benefit a cat shelter so the town can get to know  the two women.

As far as mysteries go, this one isn’t bad either. The power of children’s kindness saves the day again. We’re close to the end of the original 19 or so books by Gertrude Chandler Warner so it’ll be interesting to see the differences in the series once the ghostwriters take over.

Throwaway by Heather Huffman

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I downloaded this book during an ebook sale quite a while ago and just now got around to reading it. I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Jessie was a foster kid who was taken in by a pimp upon aging out of the system and has been a prostitute ever since. It’s been fourteen years with no end in sight, though she’s really wishing for more to life.

She meets Gabe, a cop who is trying to nail her pimp for his ties to the mafia, and they are instantly smitten with each other. He’s trying to do his job while also keep her out of danger and convince her that she deserves a better life.

When Gabe is shipped off to Afghanistan and isn’t around to protect her anymore, a raid goes wrong and Jessie barely escapes with her life. She uses the resources Gabe left her just in case to leave St. Louis and start a new life in the little town he took her to. Of course, things can’t turn out well for a runaway prostitute until all loose ends are tied up, so her life is going to get crazier before it gets better.

I thought this book was okay. I downloaded it so long ago that I didn’t remember what it was about, so I was somewhat surprised at the plot and how many twists and turns it took. I felt for Jessie as she felt she didn’t deserve nice things and her desire to create a halfway house for other foster kids who aged out with nowhere to go, so they wouldn’t make her mistakes. However, as other reviewers have said, the love story was a bit too unbelievable in its ‘love at first sight’ way, and a book about a prostitute and the mafia could have been a bit darker and more realistic.

Click below to go to Amazon to buy the book. This is an affiliate link, so any purchases will go towards supporting this site. I was not compensated in any way to write this review. As of the time of this writing, the Kindle version is only $0.99.

Throwaway

Our Bathroom Makeover!

So we bought a house last summer, and have been working on it ever since. There’s been a ton of painting and replacing old things, and just all sorts of minor renovations. The house was built in the late 80s and is totally dated. It’s also a running joke about how the builders cheaped out on literally everything.

This half bathroom renovation is the most recent project and it is the first room to be totally done!

Before we get to the reveal, here are the before pictures!

The original hallway leading to the bathroom. The doors to the left hide the tiny laundry room. Featured: ugly brown everything, gross floor with peeling up tiles that look like they got wet at one point. Plain beige walls.

The gross bathroom. Ugly two tone cabinets, gross sink, toilet with disgusting caulk around the bottom, unnecessary brown cabinets, ripped wall.

Terrible dated medicine cabinet with a mirror that was too high for me to even look in, and huge light fixture.

We painted the walls a light gray, all of the trim and doors white, changed out the doorknobs and pulls on the laundry room. We also replaced the flooring with some nice vinyl tiles.

Painted the walls of the bathroom a very light purple, painted all the trim in the bathroom white as well, replaced the toilet. We had professionals replace the floor and toilet as we weren’t sure what we would find.

Sorry for the lighting, I tried to add some natural lighting as well but it still came out dark. We replaced the vanity, mirror and light, as well as the toilet paper holder, towel holder and faucet. The faucet has an LED in it, we still haven’t figured out why. I love how artsy that towel holder is.

Here are the three before and after photos side by side.

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Weekly Pinterest Roundup — January 23

Welcome to my weekly Pinterest roundup, no images belong to me, only their respective owners. Click each picture to go to the link.

Pinterest is a huge help in my day-to-day life, I use stuff from it every single day from recipes to fitness routines to just cool lifestyle ideas. Every week I like to round up a few things that I really liked recently.

Inspirational:

I focused on cleaning pins this week, as it’s something I really want to work on in my life. Here are a few helpful pins I found that I want to try out.


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I like this 10-day Cleaning Challenge I found. Each day actually has a few tasks to go with it, but I thought it would be good to just focus on cleaning everything that falls under that category on each day.

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I think I posted this one a while back, but this is the updated version, and the site has a lot more information and resources.

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I like this cleaning flowchart for an all-in-one clean the entire house day.

Food:

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I need to finally buy some turmeric, and I love the flavors that go together in this dish.

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I pinned this for two reasons. I adore spinach, so this really intrigued me. And the pin description said something about ‘your kids will never know there are vegetables in this!’ It made me laugh, because I think most kids would be suspicious of a green muffin.

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Spinach and hummus and pasta all in one dish? Yes please.

Style:

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This wardrobe is very me, I love the colors, I would just switch out a lot of the black for more navy blue.

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These colors are so fun! I love yellow and turquoise.