2018 goals

2017 was a such whirlwind and busy, yet amazing year! There were so many highlights, and I can definitely say it was one of my favorite years so far (is that a thing? Can you have a favorite year?).

I’m a big believer in two things related to goals: First being, you don’t have to set goals on January 1. Any day of the year can be your January 1, if you so choose. Last year, mine was April 15. Seriously – I did not set any resolutions until April. And I still accomplished them! Second, I’ve learned from experience that I don’t accomplish goals as well unless they mean something to me. I can’t commit to something for a year unless there’s a reason why I’m doing it.

Last year, my big focus was on connecting. It was my word of the year, and I think I was pretty successful at that. Omar and I spent a lot of time discussing what it meant to be in a marriage and what that looked like for us, I spent quite a few weekends with some of my closest friends, and ended the year with a lot of family time!

This year – my focus is….focus! It’s my word of the year. I want to take the things I started last year and continue to refine them.

That being said, here are my five goals for 2018, and why they are my priorities. These aren’t in any particular order (if they were, marriage would obviously be first!). A lot of this is based off of my Powersheets work. I swear by my Powersheets, and if you are looking for a good place to start, I could not recommend them enough.

Goal 1: Continue working to steward our finances well

Why this is important to me: We are so lucky to both have well paying jobs that we enjoy, and we know we are so fortunate to have the things we do. However, we also have student loan debt and big goals we want to accomplish in the next fews years: we want to buy a house and start a family. We also believe strongly in helping  our community and giving generously.

Steps I can take to reach this goal: Set up auto draft for Omar’s IRA, pay at least an additional $3,000 on our student loans this year (after minimum payments), complete Nancy Ray’s Contentment Challenge from March – May, continue having our end of mont budget meetings, stick with our weekly grocery budget, add at least $100/month into our emergency fund.

How I will feel at the end of 2018 after accomplishing this goal: More in control of our finances, and excited that we will be closer to long-term goals we set for ourselves!

Goal 2: Continue working toward a healthy lifestyle

Why this is important to me: I want to be healthy for myself and my family. I know that I’m at a place in my life where it’s the easiest to be active, and I want to create a strong foundation now. I am a strong believer that healthcare starts at home, and don’t want to get stuck in the cycle of “sick-care” – diabetes, strokes, heart problems and dementia all run in my family.

Steps I can take to reach this goal: Signing up for April 5k, running the City of Oaks 10K this fall, continue to go to yoga class twice a week, get ready for the gym right after work so it’s easier for me to go, drinking 60 oz of water a day, eating raw vegetables at least twice a week.

How I will feel at the end of the year: Healthy and strong

Goal 3: Spend more time on things that matter to me

Why this is important to me: I want to live life intentionally and play an active role in my life and the lives around me.

Steps I can take to reach this goal: Continue to lessen my TV consumption, listen to the news on the way to work instead of checking it multiple times a day/when I’m home, no cell phone surfing at dinner, evening walks with Omar and Sadie device-free, less time in general on my cell phone (I’m still working on a plan to do this!)

How I will feel at the end of the year: More connected to my friends and family.

Goal 4: Cultivate our marriage

Why this is important to me: This kind of seems silly to write out, because obviously my marriage and Omar are important to me. But my marriage is important to me, and I want to lay a strong foundation now.

Steps I can take to reach this goal: Compliment Omar on something once a day, continue our weekly Sunday meetings (we base this loosely on this post, and I have to say it’s one of the best things we do for one another, hands down), not being distracted with my phone or dinner when he tells me about his day, continue our weekly “date nights” (that’s in quotations because we are on a budget, therefore a date night mostly consists of a nicer dinner at home and playing a board game – we don’t go out to eat often!).

How I will feel at the end of the year: More confident and loved – when one of us puts more effort into our relationship, the other almost always does the same.

Goal 5: Simplify our home processes and continue making our home a refuge for others

Why this is important to me: I feel this goal in general needs a bit of explaining. As we’ve had guests stay with us in our townhouse, a comment we’ve frequently gotten was “I just feel so relaxed here!” (or something to that effect). Neither one of us realized how important that was to us until we starting hearing it. Now, we love having people feel comfortable in our home, and we love when people feel at home in our home. Because we live close to two huge highways (40 and 95), we have people who swing by, or are near town, a lot, and it’s often on somewhat of a short notice. We love having people come by, even if it’s last minute, so I want to continue working on simplifying our home routines.

Steps I can take to meet this goal: Continue inviting guests with open arms into our home, revamp our chore list into a system that works for the two of us (something we had in 2017 but fell to the wayside in the chaos of wedding planning).

How I will feel at the end of the year: Grateful! I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so much love from our friends and family, and I love inviting people into our home.

 

I feel strongly that when you share your goals, you are more likely to accomplish them, which is why I wrote all of these out. What goals do you have for 2018? And more importantly, why?

 

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10 great things that happened in 2017

I can’t believe 2017 has flown by the way it has. It’s been such a great and amazing year and I am so grateful.

Here’s my top 10 things from 2017!

1. Getting married!  I almost started with saying that this list was in no particular order, but then I remembered that this was the number one best thing this year, so there WAS a bit of an order 🙂 (but the rest of this list is in no order!)

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Photo by Leslie Perkins Photography 

2. Bachelorette weekend. You can read about it here, but it was such a fun weekend with some of my favorite people. I felt so special the whole weekend. It was perfect (and Beyonce themed!)

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3. Our mini-moon trip. We won’t have our big honeymoon until February (which I am so excited about!), but we took a small trip to Tennessee right after the wedding and had the best time.

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4. Preparing for our marriage. This was such an amazing part of 2017. We really dug deep into preparing not just for a wedding, but for a marriage and it was the best decision we made our entire engagement season. We had a lot of deep (and, sometimes hard) conversations, but we entered our marriage feeling strong and supported by one another.

5. My bridal shower. It was so sweet and I felt so loved! My maid of honor and bridesmaids knocked it out of the water. And it included a ton of Chic-fil-A chicken mini’s, which are my absolute favorite!

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6. Our first holiday season as a married couple. This time ended up being so much more busy that I originally planned, but it was so fun!

7. Sadie and Sherlock. I love both of them so much. Our dog and cat bring so much laughter into our lives. 2017 was the first full year as a family of four.

8. Boldly practicing gratitude. This was one of my big 2017 goals, and it has been so life changing. I’ve been working to boldly express my gratitude to those around me, and it’s been such a great practice. I feel lighter and happier.

9. My family and friends. They were so supportive during the stresses of planning a wedding, and I am so, so grateful.

10. Omar! He’s the best. He knows me better than anyone else and still loves me unconditionally.

How to host a Christmas cookie exchange

One of my favorite events this year was holding our first Christmas cookie exchange. It was so fun, and will definitely be something we will repeat.

Here’s how we did it!

We had about 6 people total, which I think was a good number, although you certainly could invite more. Everyone picked a cookie to make, and I let everyone know it was on a first come, first serve basis – i.e. whoever picked that cookie first, no one else could make! We lucked out that everyone went for unique cookie options so there wasn’t an issued there. I ended up making three different kinds of cookies (nutella, sugar, and mint chocolate chip), and chose them after everyone else had chosen.

Set up for the party was easy because we already had everything festive up! I bought some plates that said “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” from Target, but that’s all I really needed decor wise.

The food: this is always my favorite part. Here’s a picture of the food table for the party:

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We had a cheese board, sausage and cheddar balls, roasted chick peas, and cucumber sandwiches. We tried to keep the food on the more savory/salty side since everyone was eating cookies!

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On the cheese board, we had brie, parmesan, and unexpected cheddar (it’s a cheddar from Trader Joe’s and it’s so. good). We also had summer sausage, spicy salami, and pepperoni . And to finish it off, I added some almonds, grape tomatoes, grapes, and cranberries (for a festive touch).

As far as activities, I kept it super simple this year. Luckily everyone there knew each other very well, so a lot of the time was spent chatting and catching up. Then we watched Elf. I think I would like to add some games for next year, but we will see 🙂

I bought cookie tins for everyone, and before each person left, they were able to take as many cookies as they wanted to.

It was so much fun! Have any of you all ever hosted a cookie exchange? I’d love to hear about it!

What I did and didn’t do this month

Hi friends!

Ergh, I really haven’t been here as much as I would have liked this month.

I’ll be honest, here’s a list of stuff I didn’t do this month:

1. Go to see Christmas lights: this is one of my favorite traditions, and nope, it just didn’t happen.

2. Blog: see above. I had so many ideas but I just didn’t have the time.

3. Work out as much as I would like.

But, I have to be honest. This month was great, even though I didn’t do any of those things(which are usually on the top of my to do list)!

1. I helped make dinner for our local fire station and baked cookies for 60(!) police officers from our local station: our neighborhood does this every year, but this was my first year participating. It was so much work but so fruitful.

2. Had the best date night with Omar: we tried Brewery Bhavana. The food was amazing and we had so many good conversations.

3. Baked two of my grandmothers coconut cake recipe: it is everyone’s favorite, and a lot of work, but so worth it.

4. Spent time with friends and family: some which I hadn’t seen in years!

This month was a lot of saying yes to things I didn’t think would come up, and it was great. Looking at my December goals, it’s kind of funny how different, yet the same, my month was.

Coming up this week, I’ve got some year end reviews, my 2018 goals, a review of my first cookie exchange, and my January goals!

November progress + December goals

 

Hi Friends!

I can’t believe November flew by this fast.  I think it was the fastest month this year so far. It was just a busy month, but so good. Here’s how this month wrapped up for me! A lot of things I planned for ended up getting canceled, and to be honest, I am so grateful for that because, to be honest, I completely overbooked myself.

1. Joyfully prepare for the holidays at work – this went somewhat OK! We had to cancel one of the events because I realized it was too much for our small office, but we are full steam ahead on everything else!
2. Santa Paws 5K – This…got canceled. Probably on November 2. It just wasn’t in the budget for us this year, and that’s OK! We had so much going that I was actually glad this
3. Close my bank account and open new savings account – mostly done! The new savings account is open, but I’ve not closed my old one yet. Like I said..this month was just too busy with the holiday, plus we had quite a few doctors appointments. Plus, we had a wedding to go to and other social events we didn’t want to miss – building and nurturing relationships can be way more important than checking off a to-do list, and we definitely leaned toward that this month, which is A-OK in my book! 
4. Volunteer with Omar – This got canceled but not by us! The Salvation Army decided to start their program two weeks later, and so our weekend got cut.
5. Get passport  – Yes! This is done! 
6. Pay final cruise payment – This is also done! I am so excited for our “honeymoon” that just so happens to be 5 months after we got married 🙂

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From our first married Thanksgiving 🙂 

 

December monthly goals:

1. Enjoy the season  – We, thankfully, have finished all of our Christmas shopping (shoutout to Cyber Monday deals!). We really made it a priority to get all of the “work” part of Christmas done early so we can savor the season and not get carried away in the commercial side of the season.
2. Enjoy the Christmas parties –  One of the things I’m most grateful for is that all of our bridal party from the wedding became super good friends! One of my bridesmaids is hosting a Christmas party this weekend, and the majority of my bridal party is able to make it! I’m also hosting a Christmas cookies and movies party, and we have a few work and other parties to attend. It’s a bit hectic, but I’m so excited!
3. Organize my Pinterest – This seems silly, but I use Pinterest a lot, especially for meal planning, and right now my Pinterest is so chaotic! It’s difficult to read through and figure out what recipes we’ve tried and liked, and what we haven’t. Organizing this will help with my meal planning each week, which is always a weekly goal on my Powersheets. I’ve actually (slowly) started to work on this, but I’d like to really dig into this goal during my downtime.
4. Enjoy our Christmas traditions 

Weekly Goals – these are simple this month because… it’s December and things are crazy

1. Meal Plan
2. Date Night with Omar – even if it’s at home!

Daily Goals – Also simple this month

1. Get Moving
2. Drink Water

 

Our Christmas traditions

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Christmas is my FAVORITE time of year. I’m much more of a summer person (I don’t like the cold at all) so Christmas is definitely one of the things that makes the winter more bearable for me.

Here’s some of my favorite Christmas traditions (and some that I want to try!)

1. Christmas tree: every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving, we make pizza and cookies, put on Elf, and put up our Christmas tree! We do the tree so early because we are always traveling for Thanksgiving, and I want it to be up when we get back from our Thanksgiving travels.

2. Christmas lights and hot chocolate: we always find some free (or cheap) Christmas lights to go visit, take hot chocolate, and spend an evening looking at lights. If you’re in the Triangle I would recommend Piper Lights in Wake Forest and the Planters Walk lights in Knightdale. I’m sure there are others as well. I’ve heard about the lights the Town of Wendell does as well, so I’m hoping we can check that out this year also.

3. Cookies: I love baking cookies and always make a ton for Christmas. I spend one evening just baking up a storm, and give them to friends and family. It’s a great way for me to try different recipes and taste them without eating them all myself. (PS – I keep a lot of the recipes on my Pinterest page.)

4. New Years trip with Omar’s family: every year we take a trip for New Years with Omar’s family. I think this year it will be to Charleston! I’ve never been to Charleston, so I’m super excited!

Traditions I want to try: 

1. The Duke Christmas concert: I have heard so much about this concert, but we’ve never gone! It’s free, and supposedly really gets you into the holiday spirit.

2. Raleigh Christmas Parade: We’ve never gone, and I’d like to check it out.

3. The Nutcracker at the DPAC: I think it would be so fun!

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Giving Tuesday

I am not a Black Friday fan at all. When I was in high school, my friends and I would stay up all night and go Black Friday shopping early in the morning, but now that I’m older, I have absolutely no interest in dealing with the crowds.

That being said, we do complete all of our Christmas shopping on or by Cyber Monday. That way, shopping is done and we can enjoy the holiday season. We do 99.9% of our Christmas shopping online, and it’s absolutely worth in my opinion. That being said, today is Giving Tuesday!

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Continue reading “Giving Tuesday”