Category: Goals

oh, hello 2015.

pigeon painting on canvas

Happy 2015, friends! I hope your year is off to a good start.

Like everyone else, I’m determined to make 2015 a great year. When next December rolls around, I want to feel excited about writing my paragraph in our family’s annual Christmas letter. I don’t want my personal summary of 2015 to be essentially the same as 2014… and 2013.

January 2015 is already very different than any other January in my life. Last Friday, I won a ticket to the Altitude Design Summit in Salt Lake City, which is a conference for creative bloggers. It’s less than three weeks away, so I’m scrambling to get ready! I’m looking forward to attending a small dinner sponsored by Joann Fabric and Craft, which is one of my favorite places to shop and dream.

I usually create a list of goals for the year, and sometimes I’ve chosen one little word to focus on. I have LOTS of ideas swirling around in my head of ways I want to improve my life in 2015, but I haven’t developed a specific list of goals yet that I’m ready to share with you. My overarching desire is to continue to pursue my personal goal of “creating a life I love.” And as I do that, I intend to blog much more frequently in 2015 than I did last year, which was an unusually quiet year for my blog.

Now, about that pigeon up there… Many of you will recognize the pigeon as a character from Mo Willems’ books, such as “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.” I snapped a picture of the pigeon from one of the books, photoshopped it to death, and printed it out. Then I transferred the outlines to a 16×20″ canvas with transfer paper and a stylus. I’m not a painter, but I managed to more or less follow the lines, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I originally created this when Ethan was six months old and hung it in his bedroom. Now he’s two years old, and it hangs over the toilet in the bathroom. It’s fun to think of the pigeon greeting my older kids in the morning before I do.

So hello, 2015. Let’s create a good year.

100 miles in September

Alex's Million Mile 2014

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and in honor of my little friend Luke, I’m participating in Alex’s Million Mile — Run. Walk. Ride. It’s a month-long global event to increase awareness of childhood cancer and raise money for pediatric cancer research through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

But the main reason I’ve joined Team Luke isn’t actually to raise money or increase awareness — it’s to support my friends whose lives were forever changed last year when their adorable little boy was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, Luke is currently doing really well. I dropped off dinner at their house last week, and if it weren’t for the fresh row of stitches, you’d never know that he had just gotten home from having brain surgery. But even though Luke’s tumor is stable, his condition is chronic, and so I’m participating in Alex’s Million Mile to remind his family that they’re not alone on this challenging journey.

My personal goal for the month is to log 100 miles through a combination of walking and biking. I’m so glad biking has been added as an option this year, because last September I walked 100 miles… and pushed a jogging stroller for almost all of those!

Walking 100 miles won’t cure cancer, of course, but I’m happy to go the distance to support my friends on their journey.

my goals for May 2014

goals-may-2014

Whoever said that “April showers bring May flowers” wasn’t kidding about the first part! Yesterday we got 5-7 inches of rain that I (and later, we) worked very hard to keep out of our basement. I lost two pounds (what?!) and our basement stayed dry. We’ve gotten a couple quotes for fixing our water drainage issues, but the work won’t be done for another month or so.

Today, the first of May, is a beautiful day! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the doors are wide open.

And it’s time to set some new monthly goals. These are my goals for the month of May:

  • spring clean the house. As you can see from the picture above, I’m starting with the chest freezer.
  • finish the kids’ bathroom makeover. This is one of my goals for the year, and my progress has stalled. I still want to paint, make new curtains, and hang some art on the walls.
  • add a project gallery to the blog. I want to make it easier for you and others who stop by to find older projects that are still worth checking out.
  • sew something. It’s been far too long since I sewed anything, but last night I reorganized some of my sewing supplies, and I’m eager to work on a new sewing project.

goals for 2014

goals for 2014

I love setting goals. Choosing a specific goal helps me to stay focused on things that are important to me. Writing them down helps me to clarify and remember what I want to pursue. I set goals for the day, for the weekend, for the month, for Ethan’s naptimes… and of course I set goals for the year.

In 2014, I’d love to:

  • create a Project Life album
  • give the kids’ bathroom a makeover
  • make lots of new foods for dinner
  • take more photos of myself
  • learn to use my Silhouette Cameo
  • read a dozen books
  • finish buying Christmas gifts before the week of Christmas
  • host a craft night
  • develop a more interactive community on my blog/social media
  • shoot in manual on my DSLR

I’ve started on several already, and I’m eager to dive into the rest. And no matter how many of these I achieve by the end of the year, I’ll be thrilled.

Have you set any of the same goals for yourself this year? Which are you most eager to hear more about?

choose: my one little word for 2014

For the third year in a row, I’m focusing on one little word. My word for 2014 is choose.

choose: one little word for 2014

Several other words were serious contenders, but when choose popped into my head one night while we were traveling over the holidays, I immediately knew it was the word I wanted to focus on. I have a number of reasons for selecting choose, and I want to explore them more throughout the year ahead. It’s overwhelming to try to describe them all at once, so for now I’ll just say this. Life is good, but there are so many ways I could be living a better life, and it’s up to me to make the choices that shape my life.

Are you focusing on one little word for 2014? If so, I’d love to hear what it is!

my goals for January 2014

goals for January 2014

Do you love January as much as I do? The first few days are always so refreshing and invigorating! As usual, December was filled with all kinds of fun Christmas events, shopping, and projects, but as much as I enjoyed the Christmas season, it feels so good to head into a new year and turn my attention to other things.

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I’m setting some goals for myself this year. Goals and resolutions might seem like the same thing to you, but to me they feel different, and I’m going with the wording that is most inspiring to me.

I’m still finalizing my “official” list of goals for 2014, but I’ve set a few smaller goals for the month of January. You’ve probably heard that goals should be SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based — and I kept those criteria in mind as I set these goals. For some reason, I also wanted my goals for January to be things that my kids could understand and support. Nothing too private or abstract.

One thing that helps me reach my goals is keeping them visible. Obviously, if I forget what my goals are, I’m much less likely to achieve them! So to keep my goals in mind, I borrowed an idea I stumbled across recently — Shannon Brown’s summer fun list. I printed each of my four goals onto a 3×4 card and hung them on the wall near my desk. (Actually, I printed two on a 4×6″ card and cut it in half, since that’s the smallest size I can easily run through my printer.) At the top of each card, I left room for a square photo. When I meet my goal, I’ll print out a 2.5″ photo and attach it to the card. The cards can then be slipped into my Project Life album at the end of the month when I set new goals for February.

goals for January 2014 - closeup

In case you’re reading this on a smartphone and the images are too small to read, these are my goals for January 2014:

  • make something new for dinner
  • finish an unfinished project
  • read a good book
  • move towards my pre-Ethan weight

That’s it. Totally doable, right?

I’d love to hear what your goals are for 2014 — or just for January. Reading about other people’s goals is so inspiring! And who knows? Maybe one of your goals will become one of MY goals for February.

September goal: walk 100 miles

new sneakers

This month I’ll be walking 100 miles in a bright shirt and bright shoes in hopes that my little 3-year-old friend with a brain tumor will have a bright future.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and I’m participating in the Million Mile Run, a month-long event sponsored by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. My goal is to walk 100 miles during the month to raise awareness of childhood cancer and to support my friends whose son has cancer.

fighting childhood cancer

I bought the yellow Million Mile Run t-shirt as a tangible commitment to meeting my goal, and last week, I bought new sneakers too. My previous pair was almost four years old and actually had a hole in them, so I was overdue for an upgrade! It seems that most sneakers these days are neon, so I decided to embrace the trend and came home with the brightest pair of shoes I’ve ever owned.

Somehow I’ve already managed to put 25 miles on them this week in honor of little Luke. I’m using the MapMyRun app on my iPhone to track my distance, and I’ve been very impressed with the accuracy of the GPS. But the best part of using the app is that it’s linked with the Million Mile Run website, so my miles are automatically added to the Team Luke page every day.

It’s not too late to join! You can sign up as an individual or with an existing team. I wish there didn’t need to be a Team Luke, of course, but there is, and so I’m walking 100 miles to help fight childhood cancer.

my summer list 2013

my summer list 2013

A few days ago I found a list on my iPhone of things I would love to do this summer. I apparently wrote it in early June and then forgot all about it! The list is far from complete, but it feels too late now to add more things, so here it is.

>  make popsicles
>  make peach jam
>  eat a fresh tomato
>  make ice cream
>  read books
>  freeze corn

Ha! I must have been hungry when I wrote the list! So far I’ve done half of the things on my list — and there’s still plenty of time to make popsicles, peach jam, and ice cream. Summer really is the best season for eating, isn’t it?

I’ve seen a ton of popsicle recipes on Pinterest this summer, and I’ve pinned the yummiest-looking ones to my POPSICLES board. Do you have any favorite popsicle recipes to share? My mouth is watering already!

best

Twenty thirteen is going to be my best year.

How do I know? Because I’m going to choose to make it a true statement. Every January, I hope that the year ahead will be even better than the year that just ended. We all do, don’t we? I usually make at least one New Year’s resolution to improve my life in some way. This year, in addition to my New Year’s resolution to read 13 books, I’m focusing on one little word.

BEST

In 2013, I want to be the best I can be.

The best wife.
Best mother.
Best homemaker.
Best friend.
Best daughter.
Best sister.
Best blogger.
Best photographer.
Best cook.

Of course, I’m not going to be the best mother EVER or the best cook EVER. That’s impossible — because really, there’s no such thing, is there? Instead, I just want to be the best I can be. I want to feel my best. Have the best attitude. Look my best. Make the best use of my time. Create the best memories.

I have a habit of setting unreasonably high standards for myself that I can never achieve — and so sometimes I don’t even try. This year, instead of feeling bad about myself when I fall short of perfection again, I want to end each day, each week, each month knowing that I’ve done my best. No matter how flawed or inadequate I may feel, I want to remember that my best is good enough.

This year I’m going to be the best Rachel I can be.

thirteen books

I think I spent more time reading blogs than books in 2012. Actually, I’m sure I did — and I’m sure that’s true every year. I love following along with my favorite bloggers, and I find them to be very interesting and inspiring.

Seven years ago, in December 2005, I realized I hadn’t been reading much more than the newspaper and the internet, so I made a New Year’s resolution to read one book a month in 2006. Throughout the year, I developed a list of the books I had read, and by the end of 2006, I had read 25 books — which far exceeded my original goal. Since then, I’ve been keeping track of the books I’ve read each year, and I’ve read at least 11 books each year… until 2012.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I only read five books this past year. Five! And only one of those is a book I would recommend. So as 2012 drew to a close and I started thinking about New Year’s resolutions, I made a resolution to read more.

2013 New Year's Resolution: read 13 books

In 2013, I will read thirteen books (or more!), and I’m excited to see what books will be on my list at the end of the year. Maybe I’ll even discover a new favorite. What are your favorites? I’d love to hear your recommendations.

done is better than perfect

As I was power-washing the patio on Saturday afternoon, my thoughts kept drifting to a quote I recently wrote on my chalkboard: “Done is better than perfect.” I’ll be the first to admit that this statement isn’t true 100% of the time, but as a perfectionist, it’s a helpful idea to keep in mind.

I’m choosing to focus on the word “grow” this year, and I’ve been thinking that it sure would be nice to grow beyond my perfectionist tendencies a bit. Sometimes my perfectionism keeps me from starting a project, because if I’m not sure that I will be successful at something, then I’m hesitant to even begin. Other times my perfectionism prevents me from finishing something. I’m pretty good at tweaking things endlessly or putting a project on hold before it’s finished, convinced that it won’t be good enough. (Case in point: I started writing this yesterday, but I couldn’t get it right, so I didn’t post it.) And I can think of countless ways that my perfectionism stands in the way of making decisions.

Just to be clear, being a perfectionist doesn’t mean that I think all of my projects or decisions actually ARE perfect. It’s just that I tend to set unreasonably high standards for myself. And of course, there are also many ways in which my perfectionism serves me well, and I’m very glad about those!

So as I try to overcome some of my perfectionist tendencies, I’m trying to embrace the concept of “good enough.” Sometimes DONE really is better than PERFECT. Is our power-washed patio 100% dirt-free? No. Does it look good enough to host a party out there next week? Yes. And is crossing the power-washing off my to-do list better than having a perfect patio? Absolutely!

 

grow: plan ahead

Back when 2012 was new and shiny, I chose a word to focus on throughout the year, rather than making traditional New Year’s resolutions. My word is GROW.

One big way I’m striving to grow this year is to procrastinate less. My tendency to procrastinate doesn’t usually mean that I do things too late, but it often means that a lot of the joy is stripped out of the process when I finally do that thing. It’s hard for me to find pleasure in something when I’m hurrying through it, feeling overwhelmed, or — worse yet — feeling guilty for not doing it sooner.

There are a thousand ways procrastination manifests itself in my life, and there are probably an equal number of reasons for my procrastination. And so there are also a thousand different pep talks I have to give myself. One of those is simply, “Plan ahead.”

Sometimes I surprise myself by heeding my own advice. After the kids were in bed last night, I found myself stitching together a paper flag bunting for a birthday celebration that is still several weeks away. (Weeks! Not days. Not hours. Weeks!)

Not surprisingly, party prep is a lot more fun when I’m not racing to get everything done in time! I even took the time to snap a couple photos that I posted on Instagram. This is what I found behind the sewing machine after I fed it 220 little brightly-colored triangles.

I’m so accustomed to procrastinating on things like this that now I’m fighting the temptation to go ahead and hang it up right away. I’ll try to wait a few weeks. After all, I haven’t even gotten around to designing the invitations yet…

foods I want to make from scratch

I don’t make my own ketchup or churn my own butter, but for the most part, I make my food from scratch. There are a variety of reasons for that — taste, nutrition, cost, personal enjoyment, and just overall control. But as much as I pride myself on being a DIYer in the kitchen, there are also plenty of foods (or ingredients) that I buy ready-made — for reasons of taste, cost, convenience, and personal sanity!

Over the last ten years, I’ve developed a mental list of foods I want to try to make from scratch that I normally buy. Why? Because I can. I mostly just want to understand the process, remove some of the mystique, and prove to myself that a real person can make these things at home.

Some of them I have already made with varying degrees of success:

The only one of those I was really satisfied with was the pita. The others will need a lot of practice and tweaking!

But there are still several more I would like to try:

  • mozzarella cheese
  • fortune cookies
  • angel food cake (I’ve always used a boxed mix!)

Do you regularly make any of the items from either part of the list? If so, I’d love to hear your advice. I’m sure you have some!

a few weekend goals

The weekend has arrived, friends. And like always, it is accompanied by a to-do list… and confetti, apparently. We still have heart-shaped confetti on the table from our Valentine’s Day supper, and I guess I’m just not quite ready to get rid of it yet.

See how there are only a few things on my list of goals for the weekend? Don’t be deceived by my short to-do list. That first one is a doozy.

#1 – It’s time to turn these white walls beige. Unfortunately, that requires moving two desks, two filing cabinets, two bookshelves, and a piano. Can’t wait.

#2 – The numbers on the scale have crept up a bit during the past few months, and it’s time to reverse that trend. Even if I’m only down a few ounces by the end of the weekend, at least I’ll be heading in the right direction.

#3 – I was happily making chili and heart-shaped cornbread muffins for my family on the 14th, and now it’s time for a nice dinner out with my love.

#4 – I feel like I’m the only person who hasn’t been watching Downton Abbey, but I don’t want to watch Season 2 until I’ve seen Season 1. Now that I have the DVD, I can play catch-up! Have you been watching it? I’m missing out, right?

Too bad I didn’t write “create and package confetti” on my list of weekend goals. I could have crossed something off already! This sweet little packet of paper flower confetti is a custom order from my shop and it’s ready to go out in tomorrow’s mail.

What are you up to this weekend? Anything involving paint or confetti? Whatever you do, I hope your weekend is a happy one.

grow.

I love New Year’s resolutions. Each time a new January approaches, I get all excited about making resolutions to do more, to do better, to change something. As I was thinking about goals for the year during the early days of January, the word grow came to mind… and it stuck. The concept inspired me so much that I decided not to set any resolutions for 2012. It’s true. Project-loving, goal-loving, list-loving Rachel did not make any New Year’s resolutions this year. Because honestly, I make personal resolutions all the time. Probably daily. It’s just how I’m wired.

So instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I’ve decided to follow the trend of choosing a single word to focus on for the year. The word I have chosen is grow.

Rather than striving to achieve specific goals by December, I want to focus on overall growth this year. At the end of 2012, I want to to be able to look back at various aspects of my life and identify ways in which I have grown during the year. Sure, I’m keeping in mind some areas in which I’d like to grow, but I’m not going to formalize them into resolutions.

Right now, I’m simply giving myself the freedom to grow.

twelve by 2012: 4 down, 8 to go

My twelve by 2012 list doubles as a holiday to-do list, so it’s fun to be making progress.

On Monday we baked cookies (#1), on Tuesday morning we welcomed our Elf on the Shelf (#2), on Tuesday evening I finished creating my only handmade gift (#9), on Tuesday night I baked mini cookies (#1 again!), and tonight I downloaded A Very She & Him Christmas (#8). Hooray for checking things off while enjoying the holiday season!

The handmade gift I created is for my niece, whose American Girl doll is soon going to be sleeping soundly in a cozy fleece sleeping bag. It’s almost identical to this sleeping bag I made for Magen’s doll a couple months ago, but the lining matches that Pepto Bismol pink color in the flowers.

sleeping bag for American Girl Doll

sleeping bag for American Girl Doll

sleeping bag for American Girl Doll

Also, Zippy (our Elf on the Shelf) had a little surgical procedure done tonight that will make him more bendable, but when the effects of the anesthesia wear off, I’m sure he’ll be feeling more adventurous than ever!

twelve by 2012

I love projects, goals, and lists, so when I found this twelve by 2012 project on the oh, hello friend blog recently, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Never mind that it started two months ago and wraps up at the end of 2011. The goal is simply to make a list of 12 things you’d like to accomplish by 2012… and then do them! With less than three weeks to go, I kept my list very realistic — and completely focused on the holidays.

Here’s to achieving 12 goals by 2012!

looking back at my summer goals

At the beginning of the summer, I set ten goals for the warmest, sunniest season of the year.

So how did I do? Let’s see.

#1 | Taste every flavor of IZZE.
When I set this goal, I had never taken even one sip of IZZE — and I didn’t even know how many flavors there were. But throughout the course of the summer, I drank every flavor of this all-natural fruit soda that I could find in the store — peach, clementine, grapefruit, blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, and apple. Grapefruit was my favorite. It reminded me of Ting, a grapefruit soda that I enjoyed in Jamaica 15 years ago.

#2 | Take one photo every day.
YES! I faithfully snapped a photo every single day, and posted them in weekly installments. Here are the photos by week:

June 21-25
June 26-July 2
July 3-9
July 10-16
July 17-23
July 24-30
July 31-August 6
August 7-13
August 14-20
August 21-27
August 28-September 3
September 4-10
September 11-17
September 18-22

There were days when my photography definitely felt uninspired, but I also ended up capturing beauty I never would have noticed if I hadn’t forced myself to take photos.

#3 | Eat 3 new foods.
I might have done this, but I pretty much ignored this goal. I do remember eating crab mac and cheese for the first time, and it was delicious.

#4 | Try 10 new recipes.
I’ve been in a cooking rut, and I think I only tried two new recipes over the summer. These “cowboy cookies” were the first.

#5 | Add two dresses to my wardrobe.
I didn’t do as much sewing over the summer as I hoped, so I sewed exactly zero dresses for myself (and I bought the same number).

#6 | Create 10 things.
I created way more than 10 things — including a skirt for Magen, friendship bracelets, a doll-sized sundress, oversize numbers for birthday photoshoots, a card, beach umbrella tote bags, and more.

#7 | Send 10 pieces of happy mail.
I “only” ended up sending eight fun things in the mail, and three of those were postcards from our vacation in Chincoteague.

#8 | Lose 10 pounds.
Or not.

#9 | Read as many books as possible from Magen’s summer reading list.
At the end of the school year, Magen’s teacher sent home a list of 100 recommended books. I read 35 of them, including many I had never read before.

#10 | Do all 31 things that are currently on my ongoing written to-do list.
This was basically a “try to get caught up!” resolution. I did 12 mostly mundane things, and also crossed off another 6 items that I decided I no longer wanted to do.

I may not have accomplished everything on my list, but I love lists and projects, so I enjoyed having some fun goals to work toward throughout those three glorious months known as summer.

my summer goals

The arrival of summer is a great excuse to write a list, set some goals, and wear flip-flops as much as possible.

two years of unread books

On the way home from the Philadelphia Sixers game we attended last week, Tim and I got to talking about books — what we read, why we read it, where we like to get our books, etc. Books aren’t an unusual topic of conversation for us, but this time, as we talked, I got to thinking about My Life List.

Item #4 on my list is to read 1000 books. When I wrote that on my list, I did some very quick mental math to figure out whether it’s even remotely feasible to read 1000 books during the remainder of my lifetime. Answer: it is, but I’m going to need to live a while.

If I live until I’m 85, I have another 54 years to enjoy reading. And if I’m going to read 1000 books during that time, I need to read 18.5 books a year, which comes out to one book every 19-20 days. Is that doable? Maybe.

Five years ago, I wasn’t reading very much, so at the beginning of 2006, I made a New Year’s resolution to read at least one book each month. By the end of the year, I had surprised myself by reading a total of 25 books. I haven’t read nearly as much in the years since then, and if you look at my track record for the past several years, it’s clear that I’m going to need to step up the pace a bit if I’m going to reach my new reading goal.

Here are the number of books I’ve read during each of the past five years (2010 figures are incomplete, of course).

2006 – 25
2007 – 14
2008 – 12
2009 – 12
2010 – 16 and counting

I’ve always taken a pretty haphazard approach to selecting books to read. Often I’ll just stumble across something that looks interesting either at the library or some kind of used book sale. Sometimes I’ll read a book that a friend recommended to me or that I’m generally familiar with due to its popularity. And of course, when I was in a book club, I read whatever we all agreed on.

There are tons of books that sound interesting that I’m sure I would enjoy reading. But as I think about my goal to read 1000 books during the remainder of my lifetime, it makes me realize that I have a finite amount of time in which to read a finite number of books. So while I’m not entirely sure what this will mean, I’ve decided to be a bit more mindful about the books I decide to read.

Currently, this means that I’m reading “Dreams from My Father” by Barack Obama, and soon I will also read his book “The Audacity of Hope.” I bought them for a few bucks at our local library’s used book sale this fall, but they’ve been sitting on one of our bookshelves for a few weeks, waiting for me to finish reading some other books.

Speaking of books on the bookshelf, while I was writing this, Tim walked into the room and found me kneeling on the floor in front of a bookshelf, pulling out books and putting them on a stack. I own an embarrassing number of books that have never read. And by embarrassing, I mean 36.

Half a dozen of those are ones I purchased new, but the other 30 books were bought for cheap at either a used book store/sale or the Green Valley Book Fair. Interestingly, I purchased 23 of the books within the past 15 months, so they definitely still have a good chance of being read, but I’m still embarrassed to realize that I’ve amassed so many unread books. If I start now, I could have them all finished by the beginning of 2013, but who likes to plan their entertainment two years in advance?!

However, I clearly need a little intervention, so I’m developing a few guidelines for myself while reserving the right to be spontaneous. Here are my guidelines:

1. Being mindful of the fact that I will read a finite number of books in my lifetime, choose wisely.

2. Check my “books I want to read” list more often.

3. Read the books I own before buying more!

(I don’t like that last guideline, but I’m going to try to stick to it. Boo.)

This American Life on the go

Earlier this week, I spent some time organizing Hayden’s bedroom and sorting through clothes that are too small for that growing boy. While I worked, I listened to episodes of This American Life via an app on my iPhone, since one of the goals on My Life List is to listen to all episodes of This American Life.

For some reason I decided to start at the very beginning of the archives, which goes all the way back to 1995. I learned that the radio show was called Your Radio Playhouse, which helps me understand why the different stories in the show are called acts. I also learned that the show has greatly improved over the past fifteen years.

I listened to episodes one through four (that’s four hours of not-so-great radio), followed by episode #394, called Bait and Switch. The nice thing about having an iPhone is that I can listen to any episode of This American Life for free at any time via the little $2.99 TAL app I bought earlier this year. The bad thing about the app is that it crashes a lot, and doesn’t save your place. The good news, however, is that they recently made it possible to save one episode for offline listening, which works nicely and doesn’t crash.

The other thing that works nicely is the arm band that I originally bought when I started the Couch to 5K running program, which I completed last weekend.

I expect to spend a lot of time with my iPhone strapped to my arm as I continue to work towards my goal of listening to all episodes of This American Life. I’ve even created a page to track my progress.

Current status: 45 down, 373 to go…

I got it! –with a 20-gauge shotgun.

When Tim was packing for our trip to the Penn State football game this past weekend, he asked whether I wanted him to take the shotgun along.

Seriously? Um… yes, please.

It’s not that we expected the tailgating scene to turn violent. It’s just that “shoot a gun” is one of the items on My Life List, and Tim was doing his part to make that possible.

After the game on Saturday night, we drove to our cabin not too far from State College where we crashed for the night. Before we headed home on Sunday, Tim got out his 20-gauge shotgun and some clay pigeons and taught me how to shoot.

Was I nervous? Absolutely! Did I hit the targets? Of course! Well… after a few tries. (Fortunately, they were stationary, not flying through the air.) Each shot was loud and a bit jarring to my body, but shooting that gun and hitting my target was FUN.

I still can hardly believe I was standing on a hillside shooting a 20-gauge shotgun yesterday afternoon, so I’m glad I have this little video to prove it to myself. You can’t see the bright orange target, but I hit it.

The best part? Right after Tim stopped recording, I turned around and said, “I got it!”

We are… Penn State!

Five weeks ago, I was cruising through Facebook on Sunday evening when I saw that my friend Ali was excited about having tickets to a Penn State football game. I commented to express my enthusiasm for her good news, and she asked whether I was a Penn State fan. “Not yet,” I wrote, “but I’m married to one.” Within a few days, Tim and I had bought tickets for the same game (Penn State vs. Michigan) in seats right next to Steve and Ali.

I don’t really consider myself a football fan yet, but if I’m going to cheer for a college football team, it’s going to be Penn State. Plus, I’ve always thought it would be fun to go to a big college or pro football game, and with a stadium that seats 107,282 fans, Penn State definitely meets that criteria. (Beaver Stadium is the second largest stadium in the US — only the University of Michigan’s stadium is larger.)

So yesterday morning Tim and I loaded up the SUV and headed up to Happy Valley. The fall leaves were already past their peak, but it was a beautiful drive to Central Pennsylvania.

After arriving on campus and finding our parking spot, our first destination was The Creamery. We waited in line for an hour to buy the biggest ice cream cone I’ve ever eaten.

There was only one size you could order, and it was ridiculously huge — and only $2.75! I had a hard time picking a flavor, and almost chose Monster Mash, but eventually chose Peanut Butter Swirl, which was quite yummy. It took me half an hour to eat it.

What flavor would you have ordered?

After our visit to the Creamery, we spent some time checking out the campus (this is Old Main as it was getting towards dusk)…

… and buying Penn State gear. I didn’t think I needed a Penn State t-shirt for $21, but when I found exactly what I wanted for only $7, I decided to get it. It’s pretty simple (it just says Penn State in varsity lettering above the logo), but I like it — and I wore it to the game last night, even though you couldn’t really see it under my coat.

The game was an 8:00 game and the weather was supposed to be quite chilly, so we bundled up pretty good before we made our way towards the stadium. This was the view from our parking spot.

When we got to our seats, it was fun to see Steve and Ali, who had driven up from Virginia for the game. On the way in to the stadium, we were given white pompoms, and it was really neat to see people using them during the game — especially in the student section, which was already a white-out (everyone in white clothes). Of course, we did the wave several times, but the coolest one was a slow-motion wave. And I was introduced to the tradition where one side of the stadium yells “We are!” and the other half responds with “Penn State!” Back and forth, over and over.

So how do I describe our evening? The stadium was huge, the atmosphere was electric, the marching band was great, and Penn State beat Michigan 41-31.

WE ARE… PENN STATE!

my life list

Inspired by Maggie at Mighty Girl and Karen at Chookooloonks, who followed in her footsteps, I’m creating a life list. Otherwise known as a bucket list, a life list is simply a list of things you want to do while you’re still alive.

Most people’s life lists include 100 items, but I’ve been creating mine for about 10 days now, and I only have 40 things on my list so far. I plan to continue adding items to my list as they come to mind, so I’m OK with just having 40 items for now.

The reason I don’t have 100 things on my list yet is that I’m purposely taking my time. Several years ago, I made my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days much too quickly, and at the end of the 1001 days, there were a lot of undone things on my list that I didn’t even care about doing. I loved having a list of things to pursue, but I was too careless in my initial creation of the list.

The things on my life list are things that I have a genuine desire to do. They aren’t things that I feel like I ought to do, or worse yet, ought to WANT to do, just because they’re popular or trendy. And they aren’t things that I’m obsessed about doing. They’re simply things that I would enjoy doing. Also, it’s entirely possible that I’m just not dreaming big enough, but for the most part, I’m only listing things are reasonable and doable — in other words, not ridiculously expensive, and not dependent on a specific person or set of circumstances that are beyond my control.

So, without further ado, here it is.

:: RACHEL’S LIFE LIST ::

1. Drive on the Autobahn.
2. Hug a redwood.
3. Ring in the new year in Times Square.
4. Read 1000 books. 21/1000
5. Go to the top of the Washington Monument.
6. Eat lobster in Maine.
7. Own a VW.
8. Make cheese.
9. Shoot a gun.
10. Attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
11. Listen to all episodes of This American Life (including everything in the archives). see my progress here
12. Give birth.
13. Eat a cheese steak in Philadelphia.
14. Sew 100 things. 24/100
15. See a moose in nature.
16. Go to Vegas.
17. Make ravioli from scratch.
18. Drive a Mack Truck.
19. Cut a six-pointed paper snowflake.
20. Go to a college or pro football game.
21. Grow basil.
22. Understand how to use aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
23. Compost.
24. Join the National Weight Control Registry.
25. Sell something I have made. (11/13/11)
26. Take a culinary class.
27. See a show on Broadway. (9/15/12)
28. Make a sun-dried tomato spinach bagel (like Mr. J’s).
29. Memorize our wedding vows.
30. Develop a perfect brownie recipe.
31. Go on a school field trip as a chaperone.
32. Make a cheesecake.
33. See the Northern Lights.
34. Run a 5K.
35. Dress up in a costume for Halloween.
36. Refinish or reupholster a piece of furniture.
37. Hit golf balls on a driving range.
38. Be a “stay-at-home” mom.
39. Love my blog.
40. Love my body.
41. Love my wardrobe.
42. Love my home.
43. Host a pop-up dinner party.
44.
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47.
48.
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100.

I’m excited to see what else will make its way onto my list. And of course I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I begin to complete items on my life list. Can’t wait!

frozen assets

Last evening I decided that I’d like to eat up all of the food in my freezer before I move to Pennsylvania in July. Tim already has a chest freezer in the basement, which I’m pretty excited about, so it’s not that we won’t have enough space for my frozen foods. Besides, my only freezer is the one that occupies the top third of my fridge, and it’s not even full. Transporting the items for 300-ish miles also wouldn’t be a problem (thanks for the cooler-on-wheels, Joy!), but it just seems like a good idea to go ahead and eat up the things that have been hanging out in my freezer for a while.

Over lunchtime today I put on my winter gloves and took inventory of my freezer. Here’s what I found:

FRUIT:
* strawberries (locally grown) – 3 packs
* peaches (locally grown) – 10 packs
* pineapple tidbits
* applesauce (homemade)
* bananas – 3

VEGETABLES:
* green peppers (grown in my garden) – 1 bag of strips
* green beans (grown in my garden) – 18 10 packs (Uh-oh. There were more than I realized!)
* pumpkin – 3 containers
* tomato sauce – 5 containers
* mixed vegetables
* lima beans

MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD:
* ground beef – 5 packs
* ground beef seasoned and ready for shaping into 2 hamburgers
* chicken breasts – 4 2
* cooked chicken breast
* cooked turkey – 4 1 pack
* shrimp

BREADS:
* dinner rolls – 12
* tortillas
* pumpkin waffles (homemade) – 5

BEANS, NUTS, SEEDS:
* cooked pinto beans
* cooked black beans
* hazelnuts
* pecans
* walnuts
* ground flax
* sesame seeds

OTHER:
* seasoned breadcrumbs
* yeast
* leftover flour mixture and parmesan cheese mixture from making parmesan chicken strips

: :

I already have plans for some of the items, so stay tuned for some yummy recipes!

My Summer To-Do List

My Summer To-Do List

  • sell my house
  • quit my job
  • plan a big party
  • move to Pennsylvania
  • change my last name

It’s true… Tim and I are getting married!  :)

projects I’ve abandoned

As someone who is both conscientious and a little bit stubborn, I like to finish the things I start. But what happens when I don’t? Does that mean I’m a quitter? or that I’ve given up?

Those aren’t labels I like to attach to myself in regards to projects I’ve started, so I prefer to use the word “abandoned.” It’s a more positive word that puts me back in control of the project, rather than vice versa. Whether or not it’s entirely accurate, it sounds as though I consciously chose to stop doing a project, rather than that it was a helpless or hopeless situation.

So without further ado, following is a list of Projects I’ve Abandoned:

1. 101 Things in 1001 Days (the 1001st day was last Thursday, but I abandoned it long before that)
2. New Year’s Resolution 2009: watch AFI’s top 25 musicals
3. 15 Things I Plan to Do With My Tax Refund

I was going to add NaBloPoMo to the list… but I guess by posting this, I haven’t abandoned it quite yet.

New Year’s Resolution 2009: watch AFI’s top 25 musicals

I’m fully convinced that the hardest part of making a New Year’s resolution is choosing one, not keeping it. Classic resolutions just don’t inspire me, so as each year draws to a close, I’m faced with the delightful challenge of coming up with a unique, creative resolution that I can get excited about. Thanks to some Wikipedia-surfing after watching “42nd Street” earlier this week, I have made just such a resolution.

My resolution for 2009 is to watch all 25 movies on the American Film Institute’s list of the top musicals of all time.

1. Singin’ in the Rain * (01.10.09)

2. West Side Story

3. The Wizard of Oz

4. The Sound of Music *

5. Cabaret

6. Mary Poppins * (03.14.09)

7. A Star Is Born

8. My Fair Lady * (05.20.09)

9. An American in Paris (02.27.09)

10. Meet Me in St. Louis (05.21.09)

11. The King and I

12. Chicago (04.18.09)

13. 42nd Street * (04.26.09)

14. All That Jazz

15. Top Hat (05.16.09)

16. Funny Girl (02.25.09)

17. The Band Wagon

18. Yankee Doodle Dandy

19. On the Town (05.17.09)

20. Grease

21. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers *

22. Beauty and the Beast

23. Guys and Dolls * (01.30.09)

24. Show Boat * (05.24.09)

25. Moulin Rouge!

Surprisingly, I have seen only eight of the musicals on the list (indicated by an asterisk)… but I’ll be happy to watch those again during 2009! Like my list of “101 Things in 1001 Days,” I’ll come back and add the date when I watch each of the 25 movies.

Meanwhile, I guess I’ll be hosting a lot of movie nights. Popcorn, anyone?

missing pieces in my United States puzzle

If I were putting together a puzzle of the United States that included only the states I have visited, there would be eight pieces missing. Six of them would be edge pieces, while the other two wouldn’t really fit anywhere. Eventually they would probably be relegated to the lower left corner of the puzzle.

Eighteen months ago (and for the preceding six years), there were 11 pieces missing from my puzzle, but during the summer of 2007, I visited Washington (and British Columbia!), and in June 2008, I checked Nevada and California off the list. So I’m down to eight.

Here’s the map:

states-not-visited

If U.S. geography isn’t your forte, these are the missing states (clockwise from the top left):

Alaska
Oregon
North Dakota
Michigan
Alabama
Mississippi
Louisiana
Hawaii

The other day, someone who lives in one of these states jokingly asked me when I would be visiting. I didn’t have an answer. One of my unofficial life goals is to visit all 50 states, but at the moment I don’t have any travel plans beyond Christmas and New Year’s. None.

So tell me, dear readers… which of these states should I travel to next?

If you live in one of them, tell me why I should visit you. Or if you just happen to love one of these states and think I haven’t lived ’til I’ve been to _____, tell me why I should make that state my next vacation destination.

Here’s your opportunity to practice the art of persuasion. On your mark, get set, go.

the New Year’s resolution I forgot about

For the past few years, I have made at least one New Year’s resolution each year. I take these resolutions seriously, which means I actually follow through and work on them throughout the year. I make resolutions that are inspiring, not burdensome.

A few weeks ago I suddenly asked myself a rather panicked question: “Did I make a New Year’s resolution for 2008?” I knew I had considered NOT making one this year, but it had been so long since I had thought about New Year’s resolutions that I couldn’t even remember whether I had made one last January. I hoped this meant that I had not made one, because the only other option was that I had let my resolution fall by the wayside.

After wracking my brain and coming up with nothing in the resolution department, I consulted my journal. I was relieved to see that I had not written about any New Year’s resolutions for 2008, which meant that I had not made any. Perfect. I was off the hook.

Or so I thought.

When I was getting ready to write about my most recent experience of baking bread on Friday, I did a search on my blog for the word “bread” to see whether I might want to link to a previous entry I had written on the subject. In the process, I somehow stumbled across This Post. Oops. Apparently I had made a New Year’s resolution after all. The resolution: to expand my culinary repertoire. It was fun and inspiring. For a while, I cooked and ate all kinds of new foods, and I kept an unofficial list. The last thing on the list was added in May.

Summer was my downfall, I guess. I took an intensive class and vacationed in California and grieved the tragic death of an amazing young man. I took long walks in the warm evenings, painted my master bedroom, and did fun things with fun people. When fall rolled around, my life was more packed than ever. In addition to my full-time job, I started a 12-hour-a-week internship, and it never crossed my mind that I was supposed to be expanding my culinary repertoire.

My poor, neglected New Year’s resolution… :(