Looking Back At My 2019 New Year's Resolutions

With today being the last day of 2019, I thought it would only be fitting to take a look back at my resolutions for the year.

My resolutions as I wrote them at the beginning of the year were copied in, and then below, in bold, is a look at how things went!

1.  Declutter / purge & organize EVERYTHING.  I have lived in my condo for almost half a year now, and I think it is time to do some decluttering / purging and organizing.  When I moved, I tried to be thoughtful when I unpacked, and make the best decisions on where things would go, or how to set up certain areas.  And while I did have those good intentions, after living with things for awhile, not everything is working like I had planned.  For example, I like having the paper bags I use for recyclables on the main floor, so I can grab one easily, but maybe the coat closet isn't the best place.  Or, grouping all my rubbermaid containers with all my decorations in a certain area seemed like a great idea, but I probably should have labelled them (like my mom advised - mom's usually do know best, haha!), and maybe spread them out a bit instead of stuffing them in one corner.  But, I basically want to touch everything, even stuff I went through not too long ago with the move, see if it's worth keeping (if not, then donate, toss, or sell), and figure out the best place for it, to keep things organized in the long run.

Well, I didn't get to EVERYTHING, like I had hoped, but I did make progress!  The coat closet was one of the areas that I hit close to the beginning of the year, and it looks just as good as it did when I first organized it!  I feel like that's when you know you did a job well done.  Another area that I dragged my feet on, but finally organized and purged was my bathroom closet.  I am just kicking myself for taking so long to do it!  I also got the garage in order, and it's a little ridiculous the amount of joy I get when I go out there and see everything stacked and hung.  It's so nice and organized!  Other areas were also organized (I got rid of a good amount of shoes!), but I still have a ways to go with some spots, like the basement.  Progress is good, though!

2.  Be better with money.  I wasn't sure how to label this one, so it's kind of vague, yet all encompassing.  Honestly, I think I have a pretty decent handle on my money already, but I know I can improve.  I want to create a bit simpler budget / tracking system, plan more for future purchases, and as always, save.  And I also want to pay more attention to my retirement / health savings...all those things.

I didn't really focus on this as much.  Like I said at the beginning of the year, I think I have a decent handle on things, but my hope was to improve.  I just didn't take the time to figure out how to improve. 

3.  Find a skincare routine.  As I get older, I realize how important it is to take care of your skin.  And while I have my own 'routine', I don't know if that really is the best.

Well, I did up my face wash game, but honestly, even with the addition of some new products, I still don't have a 'routine' that I love.  I feel like there are SO many options out there, and it's overwhelming.  Most things are pretty pricey, so I don't want to go all in on something, only to find out that it doesn't work for my skin and then be back at square one, and out the money.  Any suggestions on how to handle that, because I still do really want to try and find something!

4.  Foster better relationships.  While this is something I want to do with everyone, I especially want to work on my friendships.  I am guilty of getting caught up in my own day to day that sometimes I don't reach out as often as I should, or make plans as I should.  Or I get in my own head about friends that have families, thinking they are too busy, and then I don't reach out.  I swear I have good intentions, but my execution sometimes lacks.

I would say this was hit or miss.  There were still times I had hoped to catch up with someone, or reach out about something, and then totally failed on the execution.  But I do think I improved at least some!

5.  Be healthy.  The quintessential new year's resolution - one that has been a personal resolution for quite a few years now.  But, maybe this year is the charm?!  I would like to work on my eating - the whole 80/20 thing (80% good for you food, 20% not as good for you food), and eating more veggies.  Another thing is being more active.  In addition to consistently working out in the mornings, I need to make sure to get up more often at work.  Taking a quick afternoon break to walk up and down the stairs is something so small and doable, and pretty impactful.  Whenever I have been consistent in taking an afternoon stair break, it has definitely made a difference.

Another resolution I made some progress on.  I have definitely gotten better about eating more veggies.  I discovered my love for steamed green beans with a bit of butter, salt and pepper this year.  I also have done really well with taking an afternoon stair break at work.  I do this with one of my friends/coworkers, and not only is it a nice break from our desk, but it provides a bit of accountability and some time to catch up.  The hope to consistently work out has been a little all over the place.  But I did start personal training sessions, so I always have that one really good workout a week, and since starting, I have made improvements on my own at home workouts, but still not quite where I was hoping.  I am getting stronger, which is a win, but I know I can still work on my eating, and the workouts a bit, too.

All in all, I am not exactly sure what to say about this year's resolutions.  Looking back, I feel like I made some good progress in certain areas, while others didn't get prioritized (looking at you, resolution #2).

I wouldn't say it was a banger year in terms of resolutions, but it's not like it was bad either!  And even if it was 'bad', I still love making resolutions.  While they may not take throughout the year, I like setting them - if anything, it's an interesting look at where my focus was at the beginning of the year to now!

To end my last post of 2019, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year's Eve!

Christmas 2019

Hey all!  Long time no blog post!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  I was off the last week and few days, and goodness was it nice.  I would say it's back to reality now, but with New Year's in just a few days, it'll be another 'off' week.  Kind of nice to ease back into things, though.  

Thursday, December 19th
My first day off was the Thursday before Christmas.  I started it off with a workout - I was regretting my early morning session up until I got to the gym, but it was nice to get in one really good workout before taking a break.  And I treated myself to a Starbucks after!  I did a whole lot of nothing the rest of the day.

Friday, December 20th
I waited until traffic had died down before I headed to my parents'.  It was a bit of an eventful drive, with a few slow downs, but I made it safe and sound.  On deck for the day was prepping for the weekend, and making sugar cookies.  The cookie making is one of our newer traditions, but it's quickly become a favorite.  The dough wasn't quite chilled by the time we were ready to bake, but throwing it in the freezer for a bit helped with that.  It was a family affair - my mom and I doing the baking and frosting, then my dad finishing the cookies off with sprinkles.  I also stopped by my favorite boutique, Charmed, for one of their 12 Days of Christmas deals.  I shopped, and caught up with one of my good friends from high school.  

Saturday, December 21st
Saturday we headed to my brother's house to have our Christmas together.  We were out the door just before sunrise, and got to see the beautiful skies on our way.  The day was set to be pretty low key, and we spent it visiting and just hanging out.  My nephew and I did a gingerbread house, which was quite hilarious, haha.  We cut the tip of the frosting a bit too far, giving it a large opening, giving it more of a melted snow look.  It was really fun, though!

Sunday, December 22nd
We celebrated Christmas this day, complete with matching pajamas for the boys and our traditional Christmas breakfast.  It was fun seeing the boys open their presents.  The baby was more interested in the paper, but my older nephew was into opening all the gifts...and helping baby brother with his unwrapping, too.  We spent a good chunk of the day playing with new presents, before heading to Speedway.  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a lights display, called Lights at the Brickyard.  I was so excited to go.  Between going to the Indy 500 the past few years, and my nephews love of all things Indycar, I have become a big fan and the thought of actually driving on the track, while seeing Christmas lights was pretty darn neat.  My brother had gotten us a Speedy pass - something I would highly recommend - so we were able to jump in line right when we got there, and we also got some extras, like going up to the 8th floor of the pagoda.  It took us about 45 minutes to get through the lights, then we checked out the extras, before heading home.  One of the security guards was kind enough to take a family photo of us - the only one of us all from the weekend!  It was really fun and such a neat experience.

Monday, December 23rd
After the whirlwind of the weekend in Indy, we got back to my parents' and had a nice and easy day.

Tuesday, December 24th
Tuesday started off nice and slow, with a cup of coffee and a good Hallmark movie, Double Holiday.  A lot of the day was spent in the kitchen, prepping for our Christmas Eve dinner, and Christmas Day.  And watching Christmas movies, specifically A Christmas Carol - one of our traditions.  I can't remember if it was this night, or Monday night, but we got out to drive around and check out Christmas lights.  I know I am biased, but my parents' is by far my favorite.  Although as I went to take a picture, I noticed that part of the lights were out on the garland around the door.  My dad checked them out, but unfortunately there was no quick fix.  But I still think it looks beautiful!

Wednesday, December 25th
Christmas Day!  I was lucky enough to have two traditional Christmas breakfasts this year.  We always do monkey bread, then some kind of eggs and fruit.  It is just the best!  I opened up my presents, poured over a cookbook that I received until it was time to head out to my grandma's.  It was a smaller crew with just my parents, me, my aunt, uncle, cousin and grandma.  But it was a great time.  Presents were a lot quicker than they used to be, but no less fun.  My mom made us all books about our Michigan vacations, and seeing the reaction on my cousin, aunt/uncle and grandma's face when looking at them was priceless.  We snacked on apps, then sat down for the big meal.  Afterwards, we played a couple rounds of Blitz before parting ways.  

Thursday, December 26th
I always crack up at those memes that talk about the time between Christmas and New Year's just being a fog.  Because it truly is!  My mom and I did a little after Christmas shopping, getting some deals on decorations for next year.  And getting a few things to add to my winter decor.

Friday, December 27th
Another 'what day is it' day.  It was nice to have nothing planned.  We worked on the Christmas puzzle, watched movies, and ate pizza.

Saturday, December 28th
We finished up the puzzle - finally!  My mom picked a hard one of us this year.  I can't tell you how many times I told her never again...and how many times we wished my brother was there with us.  He is the puzzle master.  We had Christmas with my dad's side of the family, and it was such a blast.  It was so nice catching up with everyone.  

Sunday, December 29th
I was out the door early to beat the forecasted rain, and some of the traffic, which I luckily did.  It's always bittersweet after the holidays.  I am sad because Christmas is over, and after leaving home, but the idea of getting back into a routine, and the impending new year is always exciting.  I took my time unpacking, did laundry, ran errands, and ended the night typing out this post, while watching the fire roar on Netflix, haha!

I am hoping today will be a good one, easing back into work, knowing that we have another holiday in just a day!  Happy Monday!   

Linking up with Lindsay.

Friday Favorites: St. Louis Wheel, Snow Boots & Rudolph

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Happy Friday!  Here's a few favorites for the end of the week.

1.  Rewinding back to last Friday, I had the day off from work.  It was a full day of fun, with a trip to the St. Louis Wheel, lunch at Polite Society, ice cream at Clementine's, all followed by a movie, Knives Out.  The weather was really nice which made it all even better - cool enough for a sweater, but warm enough to go without a coat.

The St. Louis Wheel is a newer attraction, and I had been wanting to go.  I was super excited, but also super nervous.  My one and only encounter with a ferris wheel was at the Illinois State Fair one summer in high school.  And I can't say I was a huge fan of it, haha!  But, I really wanted to go.  And I am so glad I bucked up for it, because it was so neat!  And so much better than a regular ferris wheel!  It was really cool to do during the day, but I can only imagine how much neater it would be in the evening.  I hope to go back and do it some night!

I am usually a red wine drinker, especially when it's cold out, but for some reason white wine was calling my name at Polite Society.  Reisling was one of the first wines I ever drank, and it remains my favorite white wine.  So refreshing and crisp!

Clementine's is by far my favorite ice cream in the city, specifically their gooey butter cake flavor.  YUM!

Knives Out was quite an interesting movie...kind of like a big game of Clue!

All in all it really was a great day.

2.  The St. Louis area got a decent amount of snow Sunday - Monday this week.  I have a love/hate relationship with snow.  I love it, but hate it when it gets in the way of driving, or messed with traveling.  Lucky for me, there was no where I had to be, so I was able to enjoy the snowfall.

I did get out in it a few times to shovel.  My dad taught me to keep up with the snow.  Makes things a lot easier and quicker if you do a little bit at a time!  I actually like shoveling, and enjoyed the reason to get outside...and to break out my new snow boots.

Earlier this year, I said good bye to my favorite ivory, pink and gray snow boots.  I had those things since college, and loved them so much.  But, they were cracking, and really not in good shape.

A friend recommended Sorels, and it just so happened they were running a sale at the time so I went ahead and ordered them.  I hadn't really gotten a chance to wear them, so I was super excited for this snow fall.  They definitely lived up to expectations - comfortable and they kept my feet warm and dry.  Not to mention they are super cute!

3.  I grew up watching the claymation movies on TV.  When Hallmark came out with a Rudolph ornament, my mom got one for both me and my brother.  The little nose lights up, and it's the cutest thing.

Sometimes I forget about it, but this past Monday, when I was working from home, I started walking around the house while I was on a call.  As I passed the tree, I saw Rudolph, and pressed the button to light his little nose.  It was just so darn cute!  I then proceeded to continue lighting up his nose throughout the day.  It's the little things!  

That's it for today - hope you all have a great weekend.  Only 5 more sleeps til Christmas!

Linking up with Erika and Andrea. 

My 2019 Christmas Card

One of the things I love about Christmas time is sending (and receiving) Christmas cards.

And honestly, I love the whole process.  I start looking at Christmas cards wayyyyy too early in the year, pick out my favorites, and then slowly narrow the selection down.  

This year I had a hard time figuring out which cards I wanted to go with - I felt like there were so many great options! 

Ultimately, I ended up choosing a tree with ornaments, with a very simple 'Merry Christmas' message.  

What drew me to this card was the simplicity of it, and also the look of the ornaments - they reminded me of shiny brites!  Which, if you are new around here, are kind of an obsession of mine.  I have been collecting shiny brites over the past few years, and have the little tree in my room all decked out in them.

So from me to you...Merry Christmas!  

A quick story before I go...

I ordered these cards from Minted, and was pretty disappointed when I opened the box.  The bottom of my name was at the edge of the card, with some of the cards having it partially cut off.  It appeared to have plenty of room in the proof, so I am not quite sure what happened.  I ended up emailing customer service, included pictures, and ended up getting a partial refund.  They offered to reprint and send, free of charge, but since I ended up procrastinating a bit with my cards, I didn't want to take the time for that.  Instead, I asked for a partial refund.  I honestly wasn't sure if that would even be an option, but they were open to it!  At first I was thinking to myself I needed to find a new place to buy cards, but their customer service really changed my mind on that.  It just goes to show what a difference good service can make!

What's Up Wednesday: November & December 2019

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I have a bit of a confession to start off this post.

I have been a bit off my blogging game lately.  Like most things, I feel that once you get off schedule with it, then it's harder and harder to get back on top of it.  And that's where I am at.  I feel like since September, things have just been so busy and time is moving at the blink of an eye, and it's been hard for me to stay fully on track with blogging.  

I know that will change come the start of the new year, but for the rest of this year, blogging may be hit or miss.  I have posts coming tomorrow and Friday, and then a few more before the end of the year, but as it usually is with the holidays, it won't be back to regularly scheduled posting until January.

This blog isn't a job for me (although I do make a very little bit of money off it) - it's what I consider to be an online scrapbook of my going ons, my likes, etc.  Even though it isn't a job, I still like to hold myself to a regular posting schedule.  It's something that is self imposed, but it's still something where when I get off track to the point where it's hard to get back into it, then it feels off.

But, I am going to convince myself to let it go for now, and worry about it come January.  Because it is almost Christmas!  And Christmas is not the time to be worried about my (self imposed) blogging schedule.

Since I missed What's Up Wednesday last month, I am covering both November and December in this post.  

What I'm eating this week... 
This week is a bit of a free for all.  I have a few options stocked in the refrigerator, and this whole week is just a game time decision of what's going to be for dinner.

What I'm reminiscing about...
Christmas over the years...

What I'm loving...
the snow (expect when driving - the roads are either crystal clear or they are bad in my opinion!)
all the Christmas lights
Kindle Unlimited

What I've been up to...
I started off November with a fun DIY to help me countdown to Thanksgiving and focus on thankfulness.  I really enjoyed filling out a tag each day, and look forward to having to become a tradition, year after year! (post here

One of the things I was most excited about in November, was attending AC2 Live.  I love when Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper are together - they just crack me up so much.  The show was everything I was hoping for...and more.  I could not stop laughing.  Both have very, very interesting lives, and it was so neat to hear more about each of them. (post here)

I took a semi-spur of the moment girls trip to Dallas.  I really didn't know what to expect, because it was my first time there, but it was such a neat city.  I really hope to go back again soon! (post here)  

The weekend after Dallas, my mom came to help me decorate for Christmas.  It really came together so nicely, and I just love being home, surrounded by all the decorations! (post here)

Then, before I knew it, it was Thanksgiving!  I spent the weekend and first part of the week in my favorite city, Chicago, then headed home to my parents'.  Thanksgiving was wonderful, and my mom and I shopped and shopped the following two days.  I extended my trip through Sunday, and it was so very nice being home that extra bit of time. (post here)

The rest of the month has been a bit of a blur, although I made sure to get in a movie night, my church's annual cookie walk, and a Christmas lights drive. (post here)

Oh, and I cannot forget one of my favorite posts of the year - my Christmas home tour! (post here)

What I'm dreading...
Christmas being over...as much as I like the start of a fresh, new year, I hate when Christmas is over.    

What I'm working on...
Same as what I said in October - 2020 resolutions!  I know they aren't for everyone, but I truly do enjoy making them.

What I'm excited about...
All the Christmas celebrations, seeing my family, my friends' annual New Year's Eve party...lots of good things coming up!

What I'm watching...
All my usual TV shows, although most have gone on break now, as well as Hallmark movies, and a little bit of Netflix.  

What I'm reading...
Right now, I am just reading Kindle Unlimited books like crazy.  I love that I can have them right at my fingers tips.

I did share my holiday book review last week, if you are in the mood for some holiday recs! (post here)  Out of the bunch, if there is one must read, I would say it is Christmas Shopaholic.  I really enjoyed that book!

What I'm listening to...
My favorite Pandora station for the holidays - Bing Crosby (Holiday) Radio.

What I'm wearing...
My very favorite thing to wear here of late is my Lululemon Align Leggings.  I always thought people were crazy for paying that amount of money for leggings, but goodness gracious was I wrong.  Usually when I get home from work, my joggers are my go to comfy pants.  And since having these leggings, instead of my joggers, I have been reaching for the leggings.  I remember hearing that they pill, but so far they have washed well for me.  Granted, it hasn't been long at all, so time will tell, but so far they are the best things.  They fit true to size - I did get the shorter length, though, just so they weren't super long on me.  

I still really like the Zella leggings, but those have a bit more compression and I would say are thicker.  The Align leggings are made to feel like a second skin, and while they still hold you in, there isn't that compression feeling, if that makes sense?

I have still been wearing my Spanx faux leather leggings (order one size up, and petite) when I want to up my look a bit.  I kick myself for waiting so long to buy those!

With the snow we had this week, I have been making good use out of my Sorel boots I purchased earlier this year.  I got them towards the end of winter, so they didn't get much use (if any!).  I was super excited to pull them out this week, though!  They were comfy when shoveling snow, and kept my feet super warm and dry.  And I think they are super cute. 

One more thing to mention.  When I was in Chicago before Thanksgiving, I came across this coat at The North Face.  I wasn't in the market for a new coat - I had just gotten one the year before.  But for whatever reason, I wasn't feeling it this year.  I tried this coat on, just to see, and fell in love.  The fit is awesome - it's super flattering as it cinches a bit at the waist, and flairs out a bit at the bottom.  Another thing I really like is that fact that it isn't quilted.  I think that helps make it seem a bit more flattering / less bulky (even though it is very thick and warm), and it makes the coat a bit more elegant...if parkas can be elegant, haha!  I wasn't able to find it on sale, which stinks because it is expensive, but I did get 10% off by signing up for the VIPeak Rewards at The North Face.  I also was able to get a little bit of cash back, too, through Rakuten.  While not much, every little bit helps, and really, as much as I love this coat, it is worth every penny!

What I'm looking forward to next month...
The start of a new year, life (outside of work) slowing down a bit, getting to use my new Emily Ley planner, and my 2020 resolutions!

Linking up with Shay and Lindsay.