101 Things in 1001 Days

I first found a reference to the 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge on Pinterest. Essentially, you make a list of 101 things that you want to accomplish, large or small, and give yourself a deadline for completing them. I’ve never been a big fan of “bucket lists” because of their open-ended nature. I like more specific and short-term goals. The 101 in 1001 challenge takes the best of both perspectives by allowing for some large goals as well as for some smaller projects.

My list is divided into categories: Faith, Family and Friends, Homemaking and Organization, Health, Writing, Cooking, Reading, and Just for Fun. The categories pretty much sum up my interests. 🙂

Without further adieu, here are my 101 things…

101 in 1001

Faith

  1. Read the entire Bible in 2017
  2. Read the entire Bible in 2018
  3. Pray for someone I don’t like every day for a month
  4. Find a place to volunteer at church – completed January 7, 2017
  5. Blog about a blessing in my life once a week
  6. Pray for my church every day for one month
  7. Pray for a different missionary every month
  8. Read Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
  9. Memorize ten Bible verses

Family and Friends

  1. Knit a baby gift for my cousin – completed January 18, 2017
  2. Knit a baby gift for my college friend – completed January 18, 2017
  3. Visit my college best friend
  4. Celebrate our 2nd anniversary
  5. Celebrate our 3rd anniversary
  6. Celebrate our 4th anniversary
  7. Have people over for a meal ten times – (1. January 14th, 2. January 15th, 3. February 2nd, 4. February 25th, 5. February 26th, 6. February 27th, 7. March 5th)
  8. Teach Tigger how to sing Jesus Loves Me
  9. Hand letter some cards for friends and family
  10. Write an encouraging note to someone
  11. Make a birthday cake for Jesus with Tigger – completed December 24, 2016
  12. Leave a note in my husband’s lunch five times
  13. Go to five weddings
  14. Go to my brother’s college graduation
  15. Go to my other brother’s high school graduation
  16. Be a bridesmaid
  17. Throw a birthday party for Tigger
  18. Go to a play with my husband
  19. Take my husband and Tigger to Moses Cone
  20. Write a will
  21. Send letters to each of my squad friends
  22. Join a MOPS group
  23. Take a meal to someone who is hurting
  24. Knit a toddler-sized hat for Tigger
  25. Have another baby

Homemaking and Organization

  1. Come up with 101 things for this list – completed December 15, 2016
  2. Declutter my clothes – completed March 3, 2017
  3. Organize the pantry – completed January 27, 2017
  4. Implement the Daily Tasks from A Slob Comes Clean – completed March 1, 2017
  5. Implement the Weekly Tasks from  A Slob Comes Clean
  6. Send Dana a fan email (bonus points if she writes back)
  7. Hang the pictures! – completed January 8, 2017
  8. Fill out my blog planner – completed March 20, 2017
  9. Update my resume
  10. Figure out what a bullet journal is and how to use one – completed January 1, 2017

Health

  1. Do a kettle bell workout three times a week for three months
  2. Cut all sugar for the month of January 2017 – completed January 31, 2017
  3. Cut all dairy for the month of January 2017 – completed January 31, 2017
  4. Cut all gluten for the month of January 2017 – completed January 31, 2017
  5. Run one mile
  6. Run a 5k
  7. Quit soda – completed February 1, 2017

Writing

  1. Write more than one brief for COG
  2. Write two blog posts a week – so far so good! – February 10, 2017
  3. Write a blog post about each number as it is completed
  4. Buy a domain name – completed December 23, 2016
  5. Make a content calendar for 2017 blog posts
  6. Write a guest blog post – completed January 25, 2017
  7. Create a printable – completed March 13, 2017
  8. Write reviews of some of my cookbooks
  9. Choose a word of the year – completed December 30, 2016
  10. Watch the videos in that blogging Facebook group – completed March 16, 2017
  11. Participate in a link party – completed March 20, 2017
  12. Write an ebook
  13. Hit 100 posts on the blog
  14. Delete that Twitter account I never use – changed my mind on this one. 🙂
  15. Write comments on 101 blog posts – lost track, but I’ve commented on a lot of things
  16. Set up a newsletter – completed January 27, 2017
  17. Write a letter to myself to be read at the completion of this challenge

Cooking

  1. Try one new recipe a month
  2. Have one vegetable with every supper for a month
  3. Cut sugar
  4. Keep the food budget at $75 per week
  5. Make a 30 day meal plan and corresponding grocery lists – completed March 13, 2017
  6. Figure out how to make an avocado taste good
  7. Make homemade Larabars
  8. Drink black coffee
  9. Write about my love of Aldi
  10. Make refried beans from scratch – completed March 15, 2017
  11. Make salsa from scratch
  12. Either make or delete every recipe I have pinned on Pinterest
  13. Feed my family for one week using only ingredients that are available at Aldi

Reading

  1. Make a list of my ten favorite quotes
  2. Read twenty books from the Rory Gilmore Challenge
  3. Get a library card at the library in our new city
  4. Read fifty books
  5. Join GoodReads to keep track of all of these books – completed December 15, 2016

Just For Fun

  1. Document the stories of all of our Christmas ornaments
  2. Learn how to do eye shadow
  3. Judge at five debate tournaments – (1. March 11, 2017)
  4. Be on the launch team for a book
  5. Judge the final round at a debate tournament
  6. Learn how to do some hand lettering
  7. Take a halfway decent picture with the fancy camera
  8. Buy something with my monogram on it
  9. Visit a new state
  10. Take a break from Facebook for a week
  11. Watch 10 documentaries
  12. Vote in a primary
  13. Vote in a general election
  14. Go to a museum here in our new city
  15. Make some sort of decoration for my home

I’m looking forward to doing these! My 1001 days began on December 15, 2016, and will end on September 12, 2019. 

A Minimalist’s Three Favorite Baby Items

A Minimalist's Three Favorite Baby Items

In my 21 years on this earth, I’ve lived in 7 different towns in 3 states. I am naturally a messy person and a bit of a pack rat, but that life experience has mostly cured me. If I’m not in love with an item enough to keep packing it, moving it, and unpacking it, then I get rid of it. The older I get, the more ruthless I am about decluttering.

As I’ve been preparing to move again next month, I’ve been reflecting on which baby items I should keep. My son was born 2 months ago, and these are some of the items we have found to be the most useful:

Fisher Price Rock N Play – At first, I was skeptical about this. However, my preliminary research showed that people love it, and now I know why. It’s light weight, which makes it easy for me to transport from room to room. It securely holds the baby so I can do other things. Tigger sleeps in it frequently. I have developed a technique of dragging it along behind me with my foot while also holding Tigger. (I never knew the ninja-like skills that motherhood would require.)

SwaddleMe Swaddle Blankets – I was unconvinced of the usefulness of these before Tigger was born. Back in the dark ages when my little sister was born, we did not have such things and she turned out fine. However, there is a reason why Tigger is nicknamed Tigger on the blog. The child never stops moving. When he needs to go to sleep, he tends to wave his arms and overstimulate himself. Swaddling keeps him still and helps him to be calm enough to go to sleep.

Some people really like the Aden and Anais brand of swaddle blankets, but I just could not bring myself to fork over that type of money. The link I have included is to Amazon, but I bought mine for $3.50 each at my local Once Upon a Child.

Infantino Sash Mei Tai Carrier – Tigger loves to be held. Holding him in the carrier allows me to use my hands to cook, start laundry, tidy the house, etc. We decided to start with this more basic, inexpensive carrier. It works for babies who are as small as 8 lbs. Tigger was nearly 9 lbs. at birth, so we were able to use it from the beginning. I might consider upgrading to an Ergo when he gets older, but this is working well for now.

What are your three favorite pieces of baby gear?

 

 

Grief Sneaks Up on You

One year ago today, I was taking my last college final. It was for a 400 level statistics course, the hardest class I’d ever taken. I had to present a research poster with a partner that was worth 30% of my grade.

We got an A. I had my 4.0 GPA for the semester, and I would graduate summa cum laude. Thrilled, I bounced out of the classroom and down the stairs to meet my friend Elizabeth for some sweet tea. She looked oddly serious as I approached her.

Elizabeth told me that my Granddaddy had been moved to hospice. He was dying. My dad would be arriving on campus in 30 minutes to pick me up.

I was too stunned to cry, too stunned to do much of anything. My elation over my A was shattered. Granddaddy had been diagnosed with lymphoma earlier in the school year, but this was a sudden turn for the worse.

I’ve got to get my stuff out of the dorm, I’ve got to clean for white glove, I’ve got to get out of here, I thought. Elizabeth offered to do my white glove cleaning for me. We went to my RA to see if that would be approved. The RA said she would do it herself and not to worry about it. Then I got out of my “must get things done” mode and cried.

My fiance had helped me pack my car the previous weekend. Elizabeth took my remaining belongings to her apartment for safekeeping, and I got in the car with my dad. I called my fiance to let him know what was happening. Then I called my boss and let him know I wouldn’t be back at work the next day.

Granddaddy died a week later, but the next day was the last day he was really able to communicate. He told me he loved me, that he was proud of me, and that he was glad I was getting married. I squeezed his giant hand and told him I loved him too.

A little over a month later, it was the day before my wedding. I was counting the boutonnieres and realized that I had one more than I needed. Puzzled, I counted off the people who would be wearing them. My dad, my fiance’s dad, my pastor, my fiance’s step-grandpa, Granddaddy…not Granddaddy.

Granddaddy wasn’t coming. I had ordered the flowers before he died. I held what should have been his boutonniere in my hand and tried to pull myself together.

Grief sneaks up on you. Grief is an extra boutonniere, a Scrabble game, a crossword puzzle in the newspaper. It’s a letter that I received from him in third grade. It’s not orderly or logical. Grief is a process, and a year later I haven’t forgotten.

How comforting it is to know that death is not the end.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Revelation 21:4

No Longer Off the Grid…

Hello there!

I am back from my blogging hiatus. It’s been a busy couple of weeks since “Tigger” arrived. I decided on Tigger for his blog nickname, since he is as active now as he was before he was born. He is just darling, and we are starting to get a bit more settled.

I don’t really do birth stories, so suffice it to say that I am quite grateful for hospitals and medical interventions. We had some complications, but they were dealt with before they turned into anything major.

I am hoping to get some new posts up soon! I’ve missed writing.

When to Declutter

It’s starting to feel like spring here, which means time for spring cleaning. I’m also 38 weeks pregnant, and I’ve been nesting as much as possible. The combination of these two circumstances means I have been in major decluttering mode for the last few weeks.

When should I declutter?

My answer to this is simple: If I feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in my home, then I have too much stuff. A home is supposed to be a place of peace, not a place of stress. Having less stuff makes me less stressed. Less stuff means less cleaning and less maintenance.

Due to a variety of circumstances, my husband and I had to choose an apartment in a brand new city in about two hours. We didn’t originally plan to get a 2 bedroom apartment, but that was what was available. We decided that the second bedroom would be our “stuff room.”

For an embarrassingly long amount of time, the so-called “stuff room” was the dumping ground for everything that we didn’t want to declutter. We both had boxes that we’d packed up before we left for college and hadn’t touched since.We started college in 2011 and 2012!

The impending arrival of our little boy got us motivated to clean through our boxes. After a 3 day weekend and multiple trips to Goodwill, the stuff room is now the baby’s room.

IMG_1653
I knitted the blue alphabet blanket. We can’t paint in our apartment, but hanging the blanket adds a splash of color.

We also have pictures hanging on the walls now! I always think a home looks more finished once there are pictures on the walls.

When to Declutter

Decluttering has had so many benefits. This morning my grandmother called and asked if it would work for her to visit this evening and tomorrow morning. Since I’ve been decluttering for the last couple of weeks, I was able to have my house in a state where I could have visitors in less than an hour. I love having that freedom!

I also feel ready for my little boy to arrive. I know that even if the house falls apart for a while after he is born, the major projects are done. Even if all we can do is keep up with the kitchen and laundry, we should be in pretty good shape.

Do you find freedom in having less stuff?

 

Simple Hospitality

What do you picture when you think of hospitality? Do you envision a home cooked dinner with friends in an immaculate house? While that is certainly one form of showing hospitality, it can take on many other forms as well.

Romans 12:10-13 says “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”

Merriam-Webster defines the term hospitality as “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests.”

It doesn’t necessarily have to involve an elaborate meal. Rather, hospitality can be simply opening one’s home to others.

Simple Hospitality

I recently met a young woman at church who is also relatively new to our area. I’m (hopefully) in my last month of this pregnancy.Unfortunately, this means that I don’t have my normal amount of energy. Despite this, I invited her over for coffee one morning. This was probably the most simple instance of hospitality possible. We made coffee in my Keurig and chatted for about an hour and a half.

It was simple, but she let me know later that our time together had been an encouragement to her. Hospitality isn’t about showing off our homemaking skills. It’s about being encouraging and showing the love of Christ to others. 

Learning to be a better homemaker is important, and it’s something that I’m striving towards. However, I can’t let the perfect “be the enemy of the good.” Even when I can’t pull off elaborate meals, I can still be generous and friendly with what I have. My attempt this week taught me that even something simple can still be an encouragement to others.

Hospitality is for HIS glory, not for my own glory.

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”  – 1 Peter 4:9

Pre-Baby Freezer Meal Round Up

freezer meal plan

Last weekend I made my first ever large batch of freezer meals. One of my friends came over for an afternoon and we made 8 meals. A standard family sized recipe usually results in enough food for 2-3 meals for my family, since we only have two adults eating regular food. My freezer is quite well stocked now!

 

The most difficult aspect of making freezer meals was the planning. I really didn’t cook at all before I got married, and I still frequently consult Google to answer my questions. What can you freeze? What can’t you freeze? How long do freezer meals last? From my research, the consensus among pregnant ladies is that you can start making freezer meals at 34 weeks and have the food still be good when you need it. I was 34.5 weeks when I had my cooking day.

Prior to cooking day, I investigated which recipes would store well. I decided to select only recipes that I had previously made and enjoyed. I don’t want to take up valuable freezer space with something that we won’t actually eat. Next, I went to the grocery store with my husband in tow for moral support. I usually go alone, but this was just so. much. stuff.

When we got home, I put everything away and cleaned my kitchen thoroughly. I love waking up to a clean kitchen, and I especially needed a clean kitchen to survive a full day of freezer cooking.

On cooking day, we focused on making dinners. Earlier in the week, I had made several different breakfast options for the freezer as well. I don’t particularly love chopping food, but fortunately my friend does. She was a lifesaver, especially when it came time to chop vegetables for the soup.

Here is what I currently have in my refrigerator and freezer for after the baby arrives:

In the Refrigerator:

  1. Muffin in a Mug  (Original Trim Healthy Mama Book) – This is probably my favorite simple breakfast. It isn’t difficult to prepare, but it does require a decent bit of measuring out various ingredients. In the interest of saving time when I have a crying newborn, I put all of the dry ingredients in a snack sized Ziploc bag. The outside of each bag is marked with what wet ingredients still need to be added. I have 15 of these snack bags prepared and ready to go.
  2. Man Muffin in a Mug (Adapted from the original Trim Healthy Mama Book) – My husband bought a container of chocolate flavored protein powder before we got married, with the intention of mixing some of the powder in his milk and drinking it that way. It was the first time he’d purchased this particular brand, and he found that it didn’t taste very appealing when mixed only with milk. In an effort to salvage the disappointing protein powder, we developed a variation of the standard Muffin in a Mug recipe. We use the chocolate flavored protein powder instead of unsweetened cocoa powder. The powder tastes far better when it’s hidden in a baked good. As I did with the standard Muffin in a Mug, I put all of the dry ingredients in snack sized Ziploc bags and labeled them with further instructions. (Note: This wouldn’t be considered on the Trim Healthy Mama plan because the protein powder is not a type that is plan approved. However, it uses up something that would otherwise be wasted, and that works for us).

In the Freezer:

  1. Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls (Young Wife’s Guide) – These are a “treat food” that I normally wouldn’t make, but I am of the opinion that immediately after giving birth is not the time to go on a diet. I baked the cinnamon rolls completely and froze them in Ziploc bags. I made the frosting as well and froze it in a separate bag. My husband has sampled several of these and given them his stamp of approval.
  2. Bisquick Pancakes – I made up a large batch of these using the recipe on the box. I bought Bisquick a while ago to use in a recipe that we ended up not liking very much, so I’ve been looking for a way to use up the rest of the box.
  3. Trim Healthy Pancakes (Original Trim Healthy Mama Book) – Apparently there is a stereotype that low-carb pancakes have to taste like cardboard. These are AMAZING and are probably one of my favorite breakfast foods. No cardboard here! I made several batches. I’ll be able to easily reheat a few pancakes at a time.
  4. Banana Bread (Money Saving Mom) – I made two loaves of this. My husband and I ate one right away and froze the other. It’s delicious! Adding some chocolate chips to the top is optional, but I liked the added sweetness.
  5. Cheeseburger Pie (Original Trim Healthy Mama Book) – Cheeseburger Pie is a good “man meal.” I halved the original recipe, assembled it in a loaf sized disposable pan, and put it in the freezer. The lid is labeled with cooking instructions.
  6. Taco Meat – My friend browned the ground beef for me while I worked on assembling some other meals. We added some of my homemade taco seasoning mix and then froze the meat in 2 quart sized bags.
  7. Crockpot Chicken Fajitas (Cooking Classy) – This was one of the first crockpot meals I discovered on Pinterest, and it’s still one of my favorites. To adapt it for the freezer, I put the tomatoes in one bag, the spice-coated chicken in another bag, and the chopped vegetables in a third bag. Layering the ingredients in the correct order is important, so it wouldn’t have worked to freeze the whole thing in a single large bag.
  8. Crockpot Southwest Chicken (Coers Family) – Not from one of the official Trim Healthy Mama books, but it works great as an E and it’s SO EASY. I dumped all of the ingredients in a gallon bag and froze it as is.
  9. Black Bean Soup (Money Saving Mom) – I started making black bean soup after my husband requested a meatless meal. It’s very good, but it makes a massive amount of soup! When I make it, it’s typically dinner for two nights and my husband’s work lunch for most of the week.
  10. Ranchy Chicken Potatoes (As Jules is Going) – It’s a survival mode meal. Easy and tasty. I froze it in a disposable pan, so I’ll just need to pop it in the oven.
  11. Crockpot Chicken Teriyaki (Passion for Savings) – You have to sign up for emails from Passion for Savings to get the recipe. The chicken teriyaki recipe is our favorite out of this set. I originally signed up and downloaded her set of freezer meal recipes back when I was having horrible morning sickness.
  12. Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole (Briana Thomas) – I might write a blog post about how much I love Briana Thomas’ recipes someday, especially her breakfasts. All of them are Trim Healthy Mama approved, and all of them are delicious! I’ve really been craving carbs lately, so I’ve made this to eat immediately several times. I went ahead and cooked this one all the way through so I’ll just need to thaw and reheat it.
  13. Honey Mustard Baked Chicken (Simply Rebekah) – Another very simple recipe, and she even includes tips for freezing it!
  14. Chicken Tetrazinni (Shugary Sweets) – This thing is so off plan, but it’s tasty and it makes a ton of food. I cooked the full amount and split it into two 9×13 disposable pans.

My freezer is packed, and that makes this nesting mama’s heart happy.

2016-03-07 14.40.59 HDR