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November goal review and December goal setting

I can’t believe it’s already December 1st! I think I say this to myself every time we enter a new month. Mostly, I can’t believe that 2011 is coming to an end. It’s been an interesting year, but I feel like I’m ending it on a high note and I feel very blessed.

Anyway, a month ago today I posted my November goals. I’m glad I only set a few because it ended up being another busy month, but let’s see how I did.

My November 2011 Goals

  1. Get at least one more room of our house “finished” - Um, sort of? I did put a lot of stuff away when I thought someone was coming to clean our house (remind me not to buy anymore Groupons for cleaning companies) and I’ve also gotten a good start on Christmas decorating. Nothing is really ever “finished” right?
  2. Send out some handwritten cards - YES! I sent out the two cards I mentioned last time and I’ve also been trying to send encouraging messages to people on Facebook and via text. It’s been good and people really seem to appreciate it.
  3. Bake, bake, bake - I have taken this one to a whole new level. I’ve baked desserts, enchiladas, vegan meatloaf for Thanksgiving, cinnamon rolls from scratch (first time ever), and a lot more that I’m sure I’m leaving out (plus some no bake things too). Very happy with this one and want to continue.
  4. Homemade Christmas presents – I’m working on this one too. I didn’t get started until the week of Thanksgiving but I’ve already got one gift nearly finished and just a few more to do before December 25th, let’s hope I can buckle down!
  5. Rest – I haven’t taken a nap in a few weeks so I definitely need to get on this. I also didn’t do enough fun shopping/browsing but hopefully I can find some small local shops to visit this month (no malls or Target for me this time of year, too much stress). But I have been spending more time at home during the week and I’m learning to say no to things from time to time when I just don’t have the energy to be somewhere.

So, in review, even though they each required a little explanation, I would say I was fairly successful at meeting my goals for November. I could have done better but at least I made some intentions and followed through on all of them to some extent.

Now, what to do for December? Hmm…

My December 2011 goals

  1. Stay active during the holidays - The colder it gets outside, the harder it is for me to stay motivated to go out, get in the car and go to the gym. It’s easy when I’m at work because the gym is here, but we get a little over a week off after Christmas and being away from work (hence, off my normal “schedule”) can make staying active more difficult. But I have plenty of options to use over the break, including a temporary membership to the YMCA and a Groupon for Zumba/Yoga classes, so no excuses. Staying active to me means getting in some sort of movement outside of your normal daily activities at least a few days a week and resting when you need to as well (it’s important to recognize resting needs vs. wants, ha ha).
  2. Keep up with reading/listening – I see a theme here. Keeping up with the things I’m already doing now while I’m off work. In the past few months I have discovered audio books and it helped me reach my goal of reading 12 books in 2011, I’m actually on #13 right now. I buy them at a used bookstore and then sell them back to buy more, but I also live down the street from a public library, so I need to utilize that more. This will be easy to do for most of the month but I think this one will be challenging at home because I won’t be at my desk with headphones on able to listen. Perhaps I will be able to read a “real” book that week! Ha ha. Maybe that’s the real goal here, read one “paper” book. If you are interested in what I read or want to swap book ideas, find me on Goodreads. I have decided to up my goal to 24 books in 2012, eek!
  3. Stay happy – This one is not just for me but for all of you as well. It’s so easy to get bogged down by this time of year. The changing weather and less sunlight can be depressing, or maybe you are just stressed out by the holidays in general, or by your family and friends. Things can get kind of crazy this time of year. My friend Rob wrote a post around Thanksgiving called GrAttitude where he talked about how we “ramp up into higher gear.  Guests coming over, visiting relatives, dinners to cook, houses to clean, games to watch, presents to buy, etc.  The purpose of the holiday gets lost, stress increases, relationships strain…” I agree with him that our attitude really determines how things go. We can make a choice to be angry or stressed out  for whatever reason or we can choose to put it all aside and give thanks to God for all our blessings. We can choose to be grateful and happy. (Disclaimer: I know this “choice” doesn’t apply to everyone, some of you are probably dealing with some very tough emotions right now, maybe you lost a loved one recently or you are just going through a difficult time in life. I just pray you are able to find joy and happiness.)
  4. Send Christmas cards - This is something I haven’t done in years, believe it or not. I just sort of got out of the habit and now that we know so many people I was always afraid that we wouldn’t be able to do one for everybody and then someone would get offended and so on. Another one of my goals for 2012 is to care less about what people think or at least don’t invent what I think people will think because I’m probably wrong anyway. But I plan to send a few or some, as many as I can and to write thoughtful messages in them and not just sign my name to a stack of cards (not that there’s anything wrong with that, ha ha).
  5. See November’s goals - I want to keep up with what I started last month. They were all good goals that I believe can apply all year long.

So what about you? What do you want to accomplish in December and the final month of 2011?

Sometimes it just takes music

Confession: I am one of those people that thinks you are crazy for dragging out your Christmas decorations right after Halloween. I roll my eyes when I hear Christmas music playing at some stores before Thanksgiving has even had a chance to make an appearance.

There is a natural order to things, why skip over one and go straight to another? And Christmas is such a crazy time of year, why drag it out? I must also add the disclaimer that I worked in retail during the holidays for 6 years, that may have something to do with it ;)

However, I might just get it now. It’s not just a time of year between Thanksgiving and January. It’s a season. It’s a feeling. It doesn’t matter whether you only feel it from December 1-25, or if you start feeling it in October when the leaves start changing, or you feel it all year long. Retail and other craziness aside, it can be a truly wonderful time of year.

What do I have to thank for this? I got visited by three ghosts. Ha, just kidding, obviously! But I did get visited by some new holiday music. That’s all it took!

I still don’t like that music they play at the mall. If I have to hear one more version of “Rudolph” I think I might scream. But a few artists I really enjoy outside of holiday music have put out holiday music albums recently that have suited me better.

1. A Very She & Him Christmas by She & Him

This was one of the “What’s New” albums on Spotify a couple of weeks ago. Zooey Deschanel has a very unique voice. It’s like a young, soft voice that also projects age and wisdom. Does that even make sense? My favorite tracks on this album are “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” (I like how they switched parts) and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

2. A Holiday Carole by Carole King

Carole King could sing the phone book and I would love it. She just has one of those voices that brings me comfort. This album also showed up on Spotify. I guess I should really thank Spotify for my new found holiday spirit. My favorite track so far is “Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday” and when Carole says “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” I really want to ;)

3. Midwinter Graces by Tori Amos

My best friend gave me a copy of this album a couple of years ago and it is always the first one I pop in when I start decorating my house. As the title implies, it’s more of a seasonal album for Winter than it is for the holidays but the themes are interjected. It’s very unique. My favorites are “A Silent Night With You” and “Winter’s Carol.”

If you aren’t a lover of the traditional or commercial holiday songs and you like any of the above artists, I highly recommend these albums.

And now, I apologize if I’ve ever judged you for feeling the holidays early. I’m sure you didn’t care anyway, as the joy you feel in your heart at this time of year is surely stronger than any “bah humbug” people you may have encountered ;)

Okay, seriously, who am I?

November goals

Can you believe it’s already November 1st? That means in two months, it will be 2012! Crazy, right?

Even though yesterday was Halloween, I was still surprised to see the word November showing up everywhere this morning: on my phone, computer, tv, etc. It just seems like the year has flown by, but then again, I think it feels that way every year.

I haven’t done this in a while but I couldn’t help but remember that the 1st of the month is a great time to set some new goals. Not like “lose 5 lbs this month” or “do x number of yoga sessions” type of goals. I have been looking at things a lot differently lately. My goals this month are more in the realm of mental and spiritual as opposed to physical challenges.

My November 2011 Goals

  1. Get at least one more room of our house “finished” - We moved into our new place back in July and sadly, the only thing that’s really done is the basement, which is because my awesome husband spent a whole day down there putting it all together. I’ve just been too busy or tired to get started anywhere else. It makes me feel better to have things in order, so I will remember that as I work on some things this month.
  2. Send out some handwritten cards - I have a couple of cards to send this month and maybe some more if I think about some people I’d like to contact. One is for a family member that is ill and another for a sweet family at my church.
  3. Bake, bake, bake - I made some oatmeal raisin and pumpkin cookies this past weekend to take to the Hootenanny and even though I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on them, they turned out great and it made me want to make some more stuff. We are having a special “Parent Sunday” at the youth cafe this week, so I will get to start on this goal sooner rather than later ;) I also want to practice some holiday dishes I hope to make.
  4. Homemade Christmas presents – Since it’s November 1st, this means I have about a month and a half to get my Christmas presents ready. I plan to make a lot of stuff this year, I’ve already started on some knitting projects and I have some ideas for a few other things. Just need to nail these down, get the supplies and get going. Making things makes me happy!
  5. Rest – Even though the previous things I’ve mentioned are going to take up some of my time, I do want to mainly focus on relaxing this week. I have been busy nearly every weekend over the Summer and Fall and finally, November is here and I have ZERO plans on my Saturdays for the next several weeks. I want to go out for coffee, maybe browse a store or two, then spend the rest at home taking naps and snuggling with my doggie :)

That’s about it over here! What are your goals for November?

Farewell, Christmas 2009

For our family Christmas celebration, I decided to provide a dish I’m quite familiar with: Happy Herbivore’s Vegan Meatloaf :)

This is the main ingredient…

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Putting the loaf in the pan.

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There are a few people in my family who do not like ketchup so I did half and half on top.

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My plate – meatloaf on a bun with chips and veggies. Suzie got a few of my carrots :)

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Also had a couple glasses of Riesling!

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Merry Christmas!

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Feliz Navidad

On Wednesday night, we went to Lights Under Louisville, which is this really neat underground cave that they decorated with lights and other Christmas (and Hanukah!) decor. You drive through the whole thing in your car!

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Yesterday I ended up not going to the gym after all because we had rather warm weather, so I went for a run! I must’ve been excited or out of practice because my knees were hurting a little bit last night.

This morning, I was going to make a special breakfast but since it was already 8:30 (I slept late for once) and lunch is at 1, I decided to just make a simple bowl of pumpkin oat bran :)

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With coffee of course!

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Time to go make a meatless meatloaf! I am really excited for my family to try it, I really think they will be surprised.

Have a great day!

First Vegan Christmas

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!

Hope you all get lots of presents and quality time with your families these next few days. Suzie sure has been enjoying hers so far!

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This morning, I decided to make a special pancake breakfast :)

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Yet another Mama Pea repeat. I could live off her recipes alone ;-)

This time I added extra cinnamon and it definitely made a difference! It was really hard not to eat the last one but I knew three was more than enough, plus it means I get to eat it again another day.

I’ve been really excited about my first vegan Christmas. My first vegan Thanksgiving was a success and my in-laws have been very accommodating to my lifestyle choices. Now it’s time to celebrate with my family!

My mom sent out an email earlier in the week to let us know what food would be there and that we could bring anything we like. I am taking a meatless meatloaf and replied that I would love for everyone to try it!

I think it just might happen. And my aunt asked me to bring copies of the recipe :)

I thought about making a dessert too but honestly, I am kind of dessert-ed out right now so I think I will just pass. Unless there is wine…

What are you doing for Christmas? Will you be making any special dishes?

I’m off to the YMCA to enjoy my complimentary Christmas-break membership. Spinning here I come!!

Dodged the bullet

Holy heck, it feels so good to be back!

A lot has happened these past several days but the first thing on my mind is that I am so thankful that in my section of Kentucky, we’ve managed to dodge the major winter storm bullet. We have had some freezing rain and flurries but NOTHING like what many others in the Eastern parts of our state have had, not to mention you guys up in the Northeast.

I thought my tooth debacle was not a very fun early Christmas present, but at least we aren’t snowed in without power. My heart goes out to all those people.

Breakfast this morning was a lovely, warm, crisp bowl of oats with a honeycrisp apple, cinnamon and peanut butter. Need I say more?

I feel like I have so much of my life to catch up on before Christmas that I don’t even know where to begin. But don’t worry, blogging is a part of that again, thank goodness :)

Are you ready for Christmas?

First of many

One of the hilarious things about this time of year is all the Christmas parties we end up going to!

One of my favorite parties to attend every year is the party held annually by my friends Carrie and Kristin (they alternate their homes each year) which gets all us girls together for some food, drinks and FUN!

Isn’t Carrie’s tree beautiful? :)

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The theme was “A Tacky, Wacky, Crazy, Kitschy Christmas” so it was our duty to wear something to fit the mood.

Since I don’t own an ugly sweater, behold, Josh’s silly football Santa hat with green ball ornament earrings :)

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Court rocked her antlers!

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Before we headed to the party, which is an hour away in Lexington, I snacked on a piece of bread with peanut butter.

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This held me over really well but eventually I got hungry and checked out the spread.

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I started with some pita chips and hummus.

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Carrie steamed some edamame, which was really good and lots of people snacked on it throughout the night ;-)

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Over the course of the night, I had several more bites of pita and hummus plus a few drinks!

Some vino blanc…

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I can’t remember the name of this next one but it had champagne in it and tasted a little bit like a cosmopolitan! It started with a P, what was it?

Ah yes, Poinsettia.

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I’m so glad we used the smaller champagne flutes, that definitely helped me keep things in check.

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This was some sort of pomegranate drink that Kristin made. I definitely don’t recall the name of this one. But the Poinsettia was my favorite.

We also did a good deed at the party, which ended up being a very fun activity for me. I wrote out two cards to soldiers at Walter Reed hospital.

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I think all the girls really enjoyed it too!

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Then there was some wastebasket-ball (which I ended up winning).

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Some karaoke ;-)

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And a gag gift exchange, where Court and Amy scored their very own Snuggies!

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Beth’s was pretty classic too.

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We stayed way past my bedtime but honestly, it was so much fun I didn’t want it to end. But I proceeded to sleep most of the way back to the Ville and crashed as soon as I got home.

Thanks Carrie for hosting such an amazing party. I really enjoyed myself and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Do you attend Christmas parties? What do you enjoy the most about them?

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For me, it was a combo of the belly laughs I shared with friends and writing the cards for the soldiers. I hope it blesses whoever gets them :)

December 2008

I was inspired by Caitlin, Jenna and a few other bloggers who got in the way back machine and found out what they were up to this time last year. Sounded like fun to me, so here it goes!

In December 2008…the highlights from my 68 posts that month.

Oh Lord…I declared my undying love for John Rzeznik on his birthday. Yeah, I’ve still got it, even if you don’t see it on the blog much. Ha ha ;-)

Tofu Chocolate Pudding ’nuff said.

Suzie got her first sweater :)

I let you inside my head for a discussion (with myself) about Oreos

I was building my running back up after a long hiatus, yay!

I started having doubts about the Biggest Loser. One year later, I don’t watch it at all :(

Behold, the Reindeer Crack Chow. It’s so not vegan, so I’m safe from it’s grips this year!

Went to an awesome Christmas party with my friends that I will be attending again THIS FRIDAY :)

Probably my favorite post of this blog, EVER…posting on my progress from January 2007-December 2008

I made a pre-Christmas workout plan and stuck to it for the most part. That same post also revealed that gas was $1.59 at the time!!

I tried my first Spin class at the Y and was instantly hooked (praying for a temporary membership over the holidays again!)

I forgot about Alley Cat Cafe! I need to go back there. Wonder if they have vegan options? My meal was apparently veggie.

I had my one and only visit to Karma Cafe, where I had french fries for the first time in years! The restaurant has since closed for business. Sad :(

I finally got to try that dang Pumpkin Spice oatmeal! Do they have it again this year?

Photo credit: Megansmunchies.com

Forrest Griffin lost the light heavyweight UFC title (boo! But he just won his last fight so I’m hopeful)

To get my hopes up for this year, the high on December 21st was 26, BUT it was 57 degrees on December 30th! Come on heat wave!!

In summary…

  • I was still using my cell phone camera for pics, eek!
  • It was neat to see how a lot of my meals were meatless (not all of course, but quite a few).
  • I was still using Equal in my coffee, ewwww! Plus countless other fake “sugar free” foods.
  • I noticed in a lot of posts, that I was feeling good about myself and my body.
  • However, I was still posting a lot of calories and my weight. I don’t care to do that anymore!
  • I was taking Suzie on a lot of walks…need to get back into that again!
  • I really need to find Mighty Maple PB again, yum.
  • Ditto for that Cranberry Fig Hummus!
  • I was completely, totally, utterly, addicted to sugar. Wow.

That was a fun trip down memory lane. A lot changes in a year! It makes me wonder what December 2010 will be like…

Happy Hump Day! Girl’s night potluck tonight, woo hoo…hopefully no more fires!

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