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.


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.

My Bullet Journal Setup for 2017!

My 2017 Bullet Journal Setup -- A Writer Cooks

Are you looking forward to the new year? I know I am. And one of the things I’m looking forward to the most is using my brand new bullet journal! Here is a link to the post I made last year showing off my 2016 bullet journal!

The only thing I asked for from my parents for Christmas was a Leuchtturm notebook. It’s a bit more expensive than something I’d buy for myself. They came through and ordered me one in Emerald, it’s definitely more green in person than in this picture.

Definitely a cool thing about the Leuchtturm is the premade index pages and already numbered pages. I didn’t tend to use either too much in my old bullet journal but it’s definitely a nice feature.

Page number 1 has to be a title page. I’m not the most artistic or creative type so I went for more of a plain minimalist title. It was surprisingly hard trying to figure out spacing and stuff like slanted lines. Any more creative bullet journalers have tips?

I really loved this idea for future planning from PageFlutter. It combines the future planner with the basic monthly layout and makes planning in the future much more organized. This leaves so much more room on my monthly page for more interesting stuff, as you’ll see in the next picture.

Also, there’s a lot of showing through for darker lines like the title page, but luckily no bleeding through of ink.

For January, I went with a simple to-do list and habit tracker. I’ve done full page habit trackers before in my old journal but I thought I’d keep it simple to start out with, with half a page and only a few habits to track. I have room to add a couple more and as the year goes on I might track more habits and make it larger. For my to-do list I forgot about the bullet part of bullet journaling, hence the alignment mistake.

This goes with the next post I will be putting up about my blog in 2017. I’m planning on being a lot more organized and making it a point to keep up with blog posts, making a serious plan and doing a lot in advance. I only post on weekdays because my weekends are so random, so I made a small calendar only for Monday through Friday. We’ll see how it works out and I may keep or change it for February.

I still need to work on headers and straight lines. My one and only ruler went missing so I’ll need to figure something else out. I did do it in pencil first and that seemed to help a bit.

Weekly Pinterest Roundup

Welcome to a new weekly post on my blog where I feature some great stuff I’ve found on Pinterest during the week. Click on each picture to head to the source!

Inspirational Stuff:

I love this creative layout for the bullet journal, it really inspires me to make mine look better.

This is the story of my life, considering I’m an editor.

Some good writing advice.


I love this makeup and hair look together.

I really like how all of these outfits are like business casual but are still stuff I would probably wear.

My husband and I have been binge watching The Office, and I adore Erin’s style. I wish there was more of her on Pinterest.


I have leftover frosting from the cakes I made a couple of months ago, this seems like a great idea to use it.

I love spinach, I love grilled cheese, how amazing does this look?


So our new house that we’re waiting to close on has these awful cabinets, and I’ve been looking up ways to make them look awesome. Expect a lot of before and after pictures in the coming months!

I adore the look of white cabinets  with silver accents, so this is gorgeous.

And this pantry is so inspiring.


New Year’s Resolutions 2016

Happy New Year!

I’ve been looking forward to the new year for quite a while. I’ve already made my plans for what I want to accomplish. It’s quite a list, so I’m hoping overachieving will at least get a few things done.

  • My overall goal is to be more productive this year. I’m as guilty as anyone about falling into the YouTube/Pinterest/Facebook trap while online. I want to set up my website blocker to be useful and actually turn it on when I need to work on stuff.
  • I want to write every day. Even if it’s not 500 words a day, I want to make some progress.
  • Read every day. I have a large book list to get through this year, since I want to revisit the books that really inspire me to write. I’ll post the book list later on.
  • Study. I want to take 20 minutes every day on each of the subjects I want to study and hopefully be quite good at by the end of the year. These are French, nutrition and web development.
  • Speaking of web development, I have big plans for my blog so keep an eye out.
  • I have a list of food goals I want to work on, found in the second list of this post.
  • Watch a huge list of movies I’ve missed out on over the years. These are mainly cult favorites or just interesting movies I’ve wanted to check out over the years. Movie list posted later as well. I knocked one off already last night.
  • Work more on home care. I want to get on a cleaning schedule, or at least complete one task every day.
  • I also want to work on keeping up with personal care things a bit more than I do already. These are things like keeping up with exercise routines, drinking more water, grooming tasks I put off more often than not, stuff like that.
It’s a huge list, but they’re all pretty small goals overall, like devoting less time to watching YouTube and more to personal development. I just need to schedule my time better.
Food goals for 2016:
  • Stock up around $5 every week. We’re planning a huge purchase of stocking up on food this weekend, so I won’t need too much week to week for a while.
  • Eat more fruit. With a lot of food stocked up, we’ll have more money to spend on healthy snacks.
  • Try to eat veggies at every dinner if not more than once throughout the day.
  • Food prep weekly. I really felt very prepared the week that I chopped and stored tons of ingredients and snacks for the week. This can include making rice in a large batch for the week.
  • Make more things from scratch, like bread, dried beans and veggie burgers.
  • No food waste. Make sure I use up all things like fresh greens and potatoes before they go bad.
  • Try new foods often. Self explanatory.
  • Hit nutrient goals. I’ll be tracking my meals for my weight goals, along with vitamins and minerals in them, and I’d like to work on getting the nutrients I’m more deficient in, like folate and B vitamins.

What are your goals for the year? Am I crazy with too many?

My Key to Surviving 2016 – Bullet Journal

You’ve possibly seen these before. I stumbled across these on Pinterest and fell in love. I’m not the most organized person ever, even though I make a ridiculous amount of lists. I’ve tried countless apps to organize my life and keep up with my habits. Finally, everything is in one place, neat and organized, and I’ve been getting so much done!

For an in-depth look at how it is done, check out the official website and the video explaining it. For now, here’s mine.

I’m using a heavy-duty spiral bound notebook that my husband brought me from work. It’s nothing fancy, just a dark red with the name of the college he works for on the front.

The index and page numbers are key. You number each page as you get to it and log it in the index. Then, when you need to find your Christmas list, you can turn to the index and find that it is on page 18.

Next is my future log. I only made it for 2016 months so I haven’t had much use of it so far, except to mark down the date of my good friend’s wedding under April. When April comes around, I can check out my future log and write down her wedding in the proper spot in my monthly log. And, of course, it’s good for marking anniversaries and birthdays.

This is my monthly log for December. Write down all the days of the month down the side with the day of the week next to them, and mark important events. I wrote down events like shopping and a concert (both didn’t happen), plus Christmas, New Years and what days I needed my baking to be done by.

On the other side is my habit tracker. I wrote down things I want to make a habit off and I color in a box for every day I complete it, like exercising, taking my vitamins and reading before bed. I’ve been pretty good about doing most things. The Xs are for my planned exercise rest days, on Sundays.

This is what my weekly and daily spreads look like. On my weekly pages, I mark down the dates, my meal plan, my cleaning chart, my planned blog posts, and what I’m reading. It can also be weekly specific like for all of the Christmas baking I need to do.

On my daily pages, I write down the day of the week, the date, and all of the tasks I need to do. I also have a cute little countdown to Christmas on the side. I’m still working on how I want this to look, plus I change up the color of the divider and date box for each week.

There you have it. This is how I’m planning out my next year, I think I’m going to keep up with it unlike every app I’ve tried. There is so much freedom to do whatever you want, like making a page for a wishlist, reading list, list of goals, anything you like, while also providing a bit of structure.

Have you ever heard of a bullet journal? Do you keep one?

Harry Potter and the Future of Wednesdays

It’s only the beginning of December and I already surpassed my reading goal for the year by a few books. Reading and reviewing books has been a great learning experience this year, and I especially enjoy getting to read books before they come out.

Next year I’m going to change things up a bit though. I set too hectic of a pace this year for scheduling books to read and review and haven’t had any time to just read for pleasure.

I’m going to cut way down on the NetGalley books I read because I was choosing any and all that sounded interesting, and ended up with quite a few that while they were good, they just didn’t speak to me.

This coming year I want to focus more on my writing and revisit some old friends, books that inspired me to write in the first place. I probably won’t be doing quite as many full book reviews, but I definitely want to check in every Wednesday to share my thoughts on writing and whatever I’m currently reading.

Also on the agenda is to finish the Harry Potter series as my husband has been nagging at me to do. I’m in the middle of Order of the Phoenix right now, so just over halfway through the series.

My honest opinion on Harry Potter is that I like it, but I don’t love it.

A big part of that is, I’m sure, because I didn’t read it as a kid, when it was new. I’m reading it as an adult with thousands of books behind me and also from a writer’s perspective. The setting is magical and the world-building is incredible, but I just can’t like Harry.

Pretty much every book suffers from having a main character that is the Main Character. Everything happens to him because that’s what the book is about, events that involve this one character.

He is saying all the time that he doesn’t want the attention that comes with his reputation, he just wants to be ‘normal’ but it is clear he enjoys the perks it gives him. He expects to be treated differently. When Ron and Hermione become prefects, he is put out that he didn’t get that honor because he did all this stuff for the school and he’s clearly favored by Dumbledore.

I’m probably reading too much into these books, but it just irritates me that he’s handed everything in life and gets away with breaking rules all over the place. It’s typical for a main character, it just seems to be a bit too much in my opinion. At least it seems to be lampshaded a bit in the story.

Just my thoughts about the series halfway through.