New Year’s Resolutions: 2009 Update and 2010 List

So, let’s see how I did with my goals for last year:

1. To get close to my goal weight by July/August (which should be attainable)  I didn’t make it to my goal weight and ended up gaining ten pounds.
2. To run a 5K in April/May (which I’ve already started training for)  I realized that I hate running.
3. To buy only thrift-store clothing this year (which I’ve been doing since April of last year!!)  I was almost totally successful here.  I bought maybe three articles of clothing and they were on clearance from Kohls!
4. To finish knitting my sweater by March  *sigh*.  Nope.  I did get the front and back knitted up.  Just need to seam the neck and do the sleeves.
5. To learn to knit cables (I’ve already got the pattern and recipient in mind!!)  I did learn to knit cables!  But I didn’t do much with it.
6. To give 100% homemade Christmas gifts this year (and not buy anything, even the packaging!).  I was almost 100% successful on this, and the two gifts that I didn’t do homemade were donations to charities in memory of someone special, so I didn’t feel that it was a failure.
7. To sell a craft this year, whether it be on Etsy, or at a local craft festival, or whatever…  No dice.  School took up most of my knitting time this year.
8. To shop at a farmer’s market this year (local produce, here I come!!)  I did this a few times, and I want to make it a regular habit in the new year!
9. To keep the house more organized and get rid of things when we don’t need them anymore (Started this one on New Year’s day!!)  Big no here.  The house still looks like a totally awful wreck.
10. To go camping!  Twice!  Once in a tent in sleet!

 #1 was my most disappointing failure this year…since I tend to focus too much on the negative, it’s hard for me to look at the list and be pleased that I managed to do most of the things on there.  But, you know, I think it’s the first year that I did get so many things accomplished, so I’m trying to give myself a little slack.  There’s a whole new year to accomplish everything that I can!

So, without further adieu, here’s my 2010 list; the topics are in keeping with my major blog topics:

1.   Food/Fitness:  This year, I want to examine my dysfunctional relationship with food and heal it.  I want to get a better idea of the things that work best for me, not food blog “fads” or plans from magazines…I want to figure out what foods are bad for me personally and what ones make me feel best and focus on coming up with a way of eating that highlights the latter while minimizing the former.  I also want to become one of those people I envy when it comes to exercise; I want to become someone who likes exercise and who looks for ways to fit it into everyday life and makes it a priority.  I want to love it.

2.  Frugality:  We definitely need to renew our focus on frugality this year.  I think that, partway through last year, we became a little ambivalent toward being the people who forego things to save money and we slacked off.  This year, I want to have a renewed focus on saving money, on cutting out takeout food and making more things from home and on looking for ways to cut expenses and make a little more dough here and there.  I also want to grow some of our own produce this year, whether it’s just a few things in pots or something larger-scale.

3.  Knitting:  This year, I want to learn to do colorwork and incorporate it into my projects this year.  I also want to incorporate cables into my work this year.  I really enjoyed the handmade Christmas project, so I want to do that again this year, but have individual gifts for everyone in my family and to incorporate color in those.  I also want to finish this freaking sweater this year:).  All I need to do is seam the top together for the neck and pick up stitches and knit down the sleeves.  I should be able to finish that by the end of January.  I want to start my Christmas knitting earlier so I’m not scrambling too badly in December.

4.  Simple Living:  I want to move toward a much more minimalist lifestyle.  I know that I’ll never be one of those “100 possessions” kind of people, but I also know that there’s a lot in this house that isn’t necessary and that we can remove.  I want to get rid of stuff, examine what stuff really matters, and not feel so obligated to keep so much stuff for sentimental reasons.  I’ve been so happy since I quit the band in August, so I’m not going to take on any new responsibilities right now since Joey and I have so much going on.  I want to refocus on making things from scratch…I find that, when I try, making things from scratch really isn’t that much harder than getting the “convenient” version.

Those are my big things for the year…with #1 being my greatest focus.  I can’t afford to let that one go anymore.  I don’t feel healthy and I don’t like it.

Here’s to 2010, and I hope that it brings all the best!

The Blur That Was 2009

This year:

  1. I started graduate school and completed five classes, getting straight A’s in each.
  2. Joey and I went to the beach for a short weekend getaway.
  3. We spent every moment possible hanging out with James before he left for Iraq for the year.
  4. I made a lifelong friend in Shannon and we got to be a part of the Garzoni family.
  5. We camped in July and October, the latter in tents and with sleet.
  6. I sprained my ankle.
  7. We took James to Indy to report for duty and, for the first time, I had to say goodbye to a friend as he went off to war.
  8. I learned to knit cables.
  9. I finally got control over my depression and anxiety and found out that I’m stronger than I think I am.
  10. I made an almost-100% handmade Christmas.

I also started a food blog, started writing as a featured publisher for FoodBuzz, and I started writing for Examiner.com as Charlotte’s Frugal Living Examiner (yes, I’ve been super-slack this month).  And, one of the most important things that happened this year was that I became a vegetarian after we lost Lady in February.

Time always goes so much faster than you want it to.  I’ve noticed this already…last month, Joey and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary.  My ten-year high school reunion (which I couldn’t attend) was this past weekend.  Ten years.  I don’t feel that much older.  I don’t feel like my family is that much older.  It all went so fast.

However, this year, I think I’m ready for 2010.  While I am proud of what I was able to do in 2009, I also left a lot undone:

  1. I was not successful in my diet/exercise endeavors and, in fact, gained ten pounds this year.
  2. I continue to procrastinate at school, which makes me feel like I’m squandering a huge opportunity I’m being given.
  3. I let my frugality go for the sake of convenience…takeout, the grocery store near the house, etc.
  4. I did not declutter my house.

So, there are things that I want to tackle in 2010…a list will come later, but I know that I’m ready to let 2009 be the past and to jump headfirst into 2010.

Merry (Rainy and Blustery) Christmas

I joked all week at the weather report that God must be really pissed about Christmas this year….they called for a NASTYNASTY rainy and blustery day on Christmas day, bookended by beautiful days.  So weird.  But, looking out the window right now, they were totally right…it’s pouring and windy and gross and it sounds very tornadic.  They are even calling for thunderstorms this afternoon.  So, maybe God’s finally had enough of our consumerism and desire for huge, showy productions and displays that we seem to think will absolve us of the fact that we spend the rest of the year pretending like He doesn’t exist.  I know, that’s a downer, but I got to thinking…every time I hear someone say “remember the reason for the season” I get a little irritated.  If “He” was the real reason for the season, there wouldn’t be all of this crap.  There would be contemplation, reflection, prayer, thanksgiving, and outreach…not crowded stores full of people muscling each other out of the way to get the last “Zhu Zhu” Hamster thing or whatever the hell it’s called.  There wouldn’t be having to make sure that the Christmas cards are better than everyone else’s were last year.  There wouldn’t be the five million commitments and the “you have to bring a fifteen dollar gift to the party…and it better be something that people will actually want.” 

There would be feet to the pavement.  There would be feeding the poor.  There would be donating to animal shelters.  There would be homeless animal adoptions.  There would be giving gifts, real gifts, to people in need.  There would be loving your neighbor.  There would be time spent together, not in “sanctioned, structured events,” but in simple gatherings to eat together and share the year’s joys…and maybe even sorrows.

This year, we cut back on commitments, and we are giving handmade gifts (with two exceptions which I can’t blog about yet).  I have to be honest, it’s liberating to let go of the “trappings” of the season…I don’t know that our focus has been perfect, in fact, probably far from it, but it’s easier to focus on the “reason” when there are fewer distractions vying for attention.

Before next Chrismas, make a list of what you normally do each year.  Then, take a long, hard look at it and think about whether or not it is consistent with your faith, with why you celebrate.  If it’s not, change it until it is, or try to cut it out entirely.  It doesn’t have to mean a boring and uneventful holiday.  And, it may just give you new focus and meaning when you tell someone, “Merry Christmas.”

God bless us, everyone.

Establishing Morning and Evening Routines…

So, I’ve previously discussed how I need to get myself into regular routines in the morning and evening (that consist of more than complaining about how worn out I am and then doing the bare minimum to be able to function…allegedly).   But it’s much easier said than done, yes?  And I don’t know about you, but with me, I enjoy thinking about what I’m going to do more than actually implementing it.  The planning is fun, but the working?  Not so much.

But, plan we must!  Let’s think about our ideal morning and evening routines; what would they include?  Here’s mine:

Morning:

  • Wake up, 5ish
  • do yoga
  • shower/dry hair, etc.
  • read a little Bible
  • have breakfast
  • drop lunch in lunchbox
  • dress and leave for work.

This really doesn’t look a lot different than what I do now…the yoga and Bible are new things; however, I’m already getting up at 5:20 am as it is.  To fit these things in, some forethought and planning needs to happen at night to get rid of morning time-wasters.  Here’s what I want to incorporate into my evening routine (this is after dinner and whatnot);

Evening

  • lay out clothes for tomorrow
  • put lunch for tomorrow together and have together in fridge
  • face/teeth/meds
  • read in bed

My normal evening routine now is:  tv, tv, tv, get irritated at Joey for forcing me to brush my teeth, fall into bed.  But honest, to add preparing lunch and hanging up clothes for the next day really doesn’t add that much time.  And adding just ten minutes to my PM routine would save twenty or thirty minutes the next morning.

The next step?  Looking at simple ways to start incorporating what we WANT in our routine.  Before I go to bed, I’m going to think about what I’ll wear tomorrow, and I’m going to fold it up and put it on the dresser.  A small step, yes, but a step nonetheless.

How about you?  What do you want to add to your regular routines?  What do you need to get rid of?

Christmas To-Dos

  1. Knit another five or six gifts (thankfully, small ones)
  2. Figure out what I want to make as my “edible gift.”
  3. Make said “edible gift.”
  4. Find superbly-awesome and thrifty/recycled wrapping material/style.
  5. Wrap said gifts in said superbly-awesome/thrifty/recycled wrapping material.
  6. Cook Christmas lunch (Chili…OH yeah!!)
  7. Avoid sweets at work (stay awaaaaay).
  8. Survive the office with almost everyone gone (No, I CAN’T help you.  No one can.  Call back after the Holidays.  KTHXBai!!)

Oh, and it’s the Solstice today, so happy Solstice….and for the fundies out there, no, it doesn’t automatically make me a pagan to say that.  Solstice has been incredibly important to just about all of the indigenous cultures of our world.  From this point foward, the days get longer again…thank goodness:).

Have some tea:

And a Kins:

And enjoy your night:)

Getting Back into the Grind…

Back to the salt mines today…although it wasn’t unsuccessful.  I got my big case taken care of and we surpassed our goal, so all in all it was a good day. 

Conversely, though, I’m achy and my stomach hurts.  I think it’s probably finally just categorically rejecting Thanksgiving. 

On an excellent note, I pulled a couple of recipes from The Jew and the Carrot and I’m making a Jewish feast tomorrow night for our friend John!  J&C is such an awesome blog…it has great recipes and very interesting cultural and religious perspectives.  As a Christian, I think it’s a good idea to learn more about a modern culture that directly descended from the cultural atmosphere in which Christ lived and in which the early church developed.  What interests me most about J&C is the similarities in what we face toward our own religion…the questioning beyond old answers, thinking ethically about items not specifically mentioned in scripture (vegetarian/veganism), the move toward a more organic, simple, authentic life.  I love it. 

I love seeing our generation stop taking the crap that we’ve been fed for so long as truth.  More is not better.  Cheaper is not always better.  Conversely, “stuff,” spending on stuff, is not better.  Quantity matters less than Quality.  Time is more important than Money.  Power is useless in the end.  The newest, shiniest technology isn’t always an advantage.  Sometimes pen and paper is better.

I have hope for our generation; hope that we’ll let go of “stuff” and instead will focus on people, relationships, helping, caring, spending time, creating things, and taking care of ourselves.  The American Dream is not power and prosperity, or, at least, it shouldn’t be.  It’s being able to spend the time you want with those you love without having to worry.  And there’s a hell of a lot more that we could be doing to make those things happen.

A Minimalist Christmas…or an Attempt, at Least

A vintage Kins-shot to start the post; I found lots of old pics on our external hard drive, so I saved some to include in posts for you.  This one was particularly cute, I think…Shelli was very interested in the camera.  you can also see her little shaved belly; they spayed her at six weeks; sometimes they do that to help them be more adoptable.  It helped us a lot because we couldn’t have afforded the spay fee.

I don’t feel like talking about food today.  Suffice it to say that I had too much of it yesterday and the day before and that I’m pissed about that and plan to eat extremely cleanly for the next week at least.  Also suffice it to say that I’ve learned a very important lesson about being a vegetarian at omnivore family gatherings:  I will need to bring a very good veggie dish to every one I go to.  Green beans?  Cooked in beef stock.  Turnip greens?  Same thing.  My options?  Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes.  I’m sick of them.  Anyway, on to other things.

One of the most fundamental aspects of voluntary simplicity is the idea of “minimalism,” or reducing one’s possessions down to what is absolutely necessary and/or important.  Possessions should reflect one’s values, and those values should not include amassing as much “stuff” as possible.  One of the first steps, I daresay, into a more simple life is taking inventory of one’s possessions and paring them down to the important stuff.

We’ve done this a few times; we’ve had two or three yard sales and have made decent money, but we’re still really bad about keeping stuff because “we might need it later.”  I’m over that.  We have an office that we can’t even get into, and the dresser in the bedroom is so covered with junk that I have to stand on tiptoes to put my hair in a ponytail in the morning.  Our mission for the next few weeks is going to be to get those rooms cleared out.

A truly minimalist Christmas is impossible for me; I’m stuck in the corporate world, and we have THREE, yes, you heard me right, THREE holiday “events” that we have to participate in.  And, as much as I like the people I work with, the amount of time/energy/money that we have to spend on those events is incredibly draining.  Then, our church puts on a musical every year, with six performances (and a dress rehersal) that ends up taking up an entire week of our lives, and then we need to fit in a Sunday School fellowship…etc, and the list goes on.  For me, this year, our commitments will not allow for minimalism (although watch out, because that very well may change next year), but at least I can take some steps now to help reduce the clutter and stress of the holiday season.  Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. cleaning off the dresser
  2. getting rid of articles/paperwork that I don’t need anymore
  3. putting away/organizing my shoes
  4. getting the bedroom closet so that we can store clothes in there again.
  5. starting on the office

Now, anyone can “clean.”  The point of the minimalist-driven clutter project is to take a very hard look at EVERY item and asking oneself whether or not it’s really that important.  Have you used it in the last three months?  four months?  If not, then you probably want to sell it, donate it, or chuck it if you can’t do anything else.  Don’t be overly sentimental; just let it go.

If you need help mustering up the courage to start, check out Far Beyond the Stars.  This guy is extremely serious about the minimalist lifestyle, to the extreme.  While the lengths to which he goes may not be for everyone, his philosphy is something that can really be taken to heart, and his tips are worthwhile, regardless of what level you’re comfortable taking them to.

Enjoy your Saturday!