Monday, October 22, 2012

The Results Are In

The 53rd birthday has come and gone and a new year of challenges is before me. This blog started out as a 52@52 blog to record my progress on my 52 Things at 52 challenge I set for myself over a year ago. When I embarked on this venture, I knew that completing all 52 items would probably not happen and I was fine with that. The goal was to work towards the completing and to gain better habits and be more aware. In this, I feel I was successful because several good things have come from my 52 challenge.

I'll start with a listing of the items I did complete within the year. I read over 52 books, I tried 52 new recipes and added quite a few to my recipe book as keepers.  I did have 52 lunches with friends, I visited a National Park in Nevada, I watched 52 sunsets, I took 52 photos I was proud of, I wrote over 52 entries in a journal and developed a habit of writing again. I feel much more confident in shooting photos in manual mode, I found 52 ways to give apart from the holidays, learned more than 52 lessons from the year and showed my love for Russ in over 52 ways. I hosted a Japanese dinner for friends, improved my prayer life and made two new friends. I played in the rain, visited 5 new states and decluttered a room. I attempted to give blood but my blood was rejected, spent several days with elderly people, reconnected with an old friend and had no colas for an entire year. I collected 52 things, avoided the scale and went rock climbing.

Things that were partially accomplished were writing on my blogs. I think I did 20 posts. I wrote about 20 letters, 10 thank you notes, 31 scrapbook pages, learned 33 new things, took 32 walks away from the normal neighborhood walk, watched maybe 24 sunrises, tried 21 new foods cooked by others, made about 40 care phone calls, completed 27 classes and 10 cards in the art journal challenge. I had about 25 technology free days and explored 10 new places in Georgia. I made progress in many of the challenges but didn't totally complete 52 of each one. Many of them I quit recording in my book so I had to guess at how many I had done but was honest when I determined those I had done and those I really didn't spend the time on.

Good things that came from the challenge was that I developed a regular habit of reading my bible. I believe I learned a lot from all my readings too and it is something I will continue. I developed a good writing habit with all my journal writing and accomplished a lot of journaling that will eventually turn into scrapbook pages.   I didn't really miss colas this year and even though I'm now permitted to drink them, I'm choosing not to have them very often. I rediscovered my love of cooking with all the recipes I made this year and I think Russ and Amber enjoyed being my taste testers. I mastered manual mode on my camera which is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I'm still not perfect at it but have learned how to make adjustments as needed.  I felt a great sense of worth through my accomplishments. It gave me something to strive for and made the year fun.

I love challenging myself to grow and change. I think that it will be an annual thing now to set up some sort of challenge for myself at my birthday. I would recommend it to anyone who feels like they are in a rut. It's a great way to push yourself to go beyond the same ol' same ol' stuff. As of this post, this blog will be completed and my further birthday challenges will remain on my Snippets of Life blog. Yes, there is a "53 challenge" so go there to check it out and see what's new with me. Sayonara 52. It was a good year.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Classes Taken

Big Picture Classes One of the things I've learned to do in my lifetime is to keep myself busy so that I don't have time to feel depressed or lonely. I do this with reading or scrapbooking or bible study.  I usually have so many things that I want to get done in a day that I just can't seem to find the time to do them all. I determined when I first married that I would try to learn something new every year. I would find a craft class to take or joined homemakers clubs to learn from other women. I'm so glad that I've kept up with this because I have found much happiness in my creative life.

Now that the kids are grown and on their own, I find that I have more time to myself than ever so the challenge is ever before me to find happiness in my life.  My scrapbook hobby has been the one hobby that I've stuck with consistently for the longest. It was a total match for my crafting needs. I love words, I love photos, I love pretty paper and glue, I love memories, I love history and preserving it. Scrapbooking has opened up to so many other avenues of crafting that I now consider myself a memory keeper. I try to keep current with all the latest trends and am always trying something new. Some have been fun to try but nothing I would continue doing and others are things that grab ahold and keep me intrigued enough to keep learning more about them. Art Journaling has been one of those things for me this year. I've delved into watching videos on You Tube of other artists creating pages and it has inspired me to try my hand at it as well. Oh how I'm loving getting messy with art supplies. I've found I have an inner artist in there waiting to come out and once again find there just aren't enough hours in a day to do it all.

The most exciting thing within the scrapbooking industry in that past 6 years has been the growing number of classes online. People are making good money teaching scrapbook classes online. One of my friends from the UK, Shimelle Laine, was one of the first to start them and it has snowballed into a big business this time. I try to take classes from Shimelle whenever I can to support her. She does an excellent job of inspiring many. I'm thankful I got to meet her in person as a friend in our early UK scrapping years. She's a dear sweet lady and it's exciting for me to see her success in the business. Currently I'm in her "Learn Something New Class" for the 6th year in a row. I still love looking at my book from several years ago. I don't always do the project but I love reading how she's changed her book each year.

This year I challenged myself to take 52 new classes. I have quite a few classes in my files that I have paid for and not completed so I hoped to get through some of them this year but so far have only done a few from my already paid classes. I have taken quite a few classes though since it's almost become an addiction to me to join into new classes whenever they look interesting. I don't even want to know how much money I have spent on them but there's a little voice inside of me that says I'm always happy to support good people trying to make money doing good things. My most common places to take classes are through either Shimelle, Big Picture Classes or Jessica Sprague. I've taken a few classes from Two Peas in a Bucket and a few at Get it Scrapped and Renee Pearson. I can always count on Shim, Stacy and Jessica to give good value to the classes they promote so I tend to stick with them. At the end of the challenge year I will post a list of the classes I've taken this year. I don't think I'll make it to 52 but I will finish quite a few before the year is up. I think I am at 26 so far. It doesn't really matter if I hit 52 or not....I'm learning and growing and that's what is important after all. May I never stop learning within my lifetime.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

52 Week Art Journal Challenge

I started out very motivated for the art journal challenge. I found a deck of cards that had skull and crossbones on it that was given as a gift at a halloween party. I knew I wouldn't have any problem covering over the backs of those cards. I got up to week 6 and then got the prompt for 7 which was "shoes" and I wasn't inspired so I quit working on them. You can see the first six here. I pulled them out the other day and they made me happy. I liked what I had done so far. It's late in the challenge but I am going to attempt to finish most of them. I've decided to work out of order though and pick the prompts that inspire me right off and just keep checking them off until I finish them. I'm thinking I may bind them together in some way...maybe with rings or my binding machine. Not sure on that yet. Since starting these cards last October, I've been playing around more with art journaling techniques. I have two journals going right now. One is for bible verses and the other is just to experiment with anything artsy. I also have a sketchbook going that I'm playing with zentangles in. Even if I don't finish this particular challenge it has helped inspire me to find my inner artist and express myself in more ways than scrapbooking......and that's a good thing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another One Checked Off

When I was writing my initial list I was looking for things I could do with a "52" in them so I randomly added a facebook challenge just for fun planning that I would see what the number of friends became after a year. I happened to recheck my list the other day and saw that I was at about 512 friends which amazed me. I thought 520 was shooting a little high and really didn't anticipate achieving it. But, when I saw I was that close I decided to put a little effort in and see if there were others out there that I could request a friendship with that would bring my number up. I started looking through the "people you may know" list and found quite a few in there that I didn't realize were on facebook now. I clicked on the "add friend" button on several of them just to see what would happen and lo and behold...I hit the 520 friends mark today. I did a screenshot of my profile and circled the friends number as proof. It was a silly little goal but in the end was a little fun checking it off. It's amazing to think that there are 520 people out there who have been a part of my life in some way. Now that I've reached the 520 mark, after my birthday I think I will starting deleting some . The newsfeed will be more interesting if I delete some who are just crowding the spaces with random quotes, pictures and videos. Or...maybe I'll just hide them all. I laugh sometimes when I think back to 2006 when I joined facebook and how much it's become a part of everyone's lives now. Who knows, maybe I'll give up facebook after I turn 53. Just think of the extra time I would gain. Hmmmm, maybe I will.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Reading 52 Was Easy

It's no surprise to me that I've completed my reading goal a month early. I've always loved to read and am constantly looking for new authors to inspire me. I always have a book with me in case I can find a few minutes to read. I usually read breakfast and lunch and love to read outdoors whenever I can and soak in some good vitamin D at the same time.

I think the one very positive thing that has come from my reading goal this year is that I've included reading the bible into my daily routine. In my rules I set up before starting it said that 52 chapters in the bible would count as one book. My goal was to read the bible more and I was afraid that I would focus so much on reading 52 books that I would neglect my bible reading. So bible reading was included within my reading goal. I started with Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes to get my routine started. They say it takes 28 days to establish a habit so I made it a point to have my bible with me every morning at breakfast. I always had a pen with me to mark items that I wanted to be able to find later and even made notations back to other scriptures when I saw verses that explained another verse. After establishing the routine, I then continued on and read the entire New Testament. Then began the Old Testament. I'm currently reading in I Samuel. I will admit that I had to really focus to get through Leviticus and Numbers but I did find some interesting things along the way.

I've been gravitating towards books on houses, mansions and diaries this year. I've found a few new authors I like and will be following as they write more things. A few that I liked were Natasha Solomon, Sandra Dallas, Robert Barclay, Lucinda Riley and Deborah Raney.  Some of my regular favorites all brought out new books this year and I've read them all. Karen White brings one out in May and November and I always anxiously await her latest novel. The Strangers of Montague Street and Sea Change both kept Karen on my all time favorite author list. Richard Paul Evans "Walk" series has me waiting every May for a new installment. Charles Martin didn't disappoint as well with his release Thunder and Rain. A few of my other favorite finds this year were The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons, The Book of Hours by T Davis Bunn, More than Words Can Say by Robert Barclay, The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley and Beneath a Southern Sky by Deborah Raney. There is a big pile of books in my bedroom that I'm anxiously waiting to read and I'm looking forward to hibernating for the winter with a blanket, cup of tea and begin working my way through the pile.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cookin' Towards the Goal

All year long I've been pinning recipes to Pinterest in my "Recipes I Want to Try" board.  The past few weeks I've started working on the "try 52 new recipes" goal. Russ and Amber has been my taste-testers and they let me know if they like or dislike them. I've been fortunate to have picked some good ones because I think we got a thumbs up on every one I tried. Here is a list of the ones I've tried so far. You can link to them through my pinterest board. Most of them are pinned there.
  1. Chicken Chili with Rice
  2. Cornbread (from Taste of Home)
  3. Spicy Peanut Chicken
  4. Hungarian Goulash
  5. Oven Fried Chicken
  6. Oven Potatoes
  7. Almond Chicken
  8. Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
  9. Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef
  10. Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells
  11. Ranch Pork Chops
  12. Blackberry Cobbler
  13. Melt in Your Mouth Chicken
  14. Green Monster Smoothie
  15. Basil Chicken with Coconut Sauce
  16. Alfredo Pizzas
  17. Good Morning Smoothies
  18. Lime & Coconut Chicken
  19. Chipotle Rice (Lime & Cilantro)
  20. Peanut Butter Oreo Dessert
  21. Cajun Ranch Chicken Pasta
  22. Spicy Honey Chicken
  23. Green Smoothie #2
  24. Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
  25. Salisbury Steak & Mushroom Gravy
  26. Brown Rice Pilaf
  27. Oatmeal Smoothies
  28. Spicy Honey Chicken
  29. Quick Chicken Salad
  30. Garlic Lime Chicken
  31. Parmesan Roasted Potatoes
I'm almost half way there on the recipes. I haven't even begun on the desserts but since I'm trying to be good and reach the weight loss goal, I might just stick with dinners. Can you tell we eat a lot of chicken? This has been a fun goal to work on. I've been writing the recipes we like down in my recipe book so I will have them   available as needed for reruns. The nice thing is that I'm getting out of the "same ol' same ol'" rut of all my regularly rotated recipes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Working on the Goal Weight

Green Monster Smoothies
When I started this challenge I decided that I would not look at the scales for a whole year. I was able to do that for almost 11 months. I stepped on the scales a few weeks ago prior to my trip to Colorado to check the weight of my suitcase. Since the suitcase wouldn't register a weight just sitting on the scales, I had to weigh myself first and then hold the suitcase and weigh again to get an approximate weight of my bag. To say I was a little shocked would be an understatement. I was at the highest weight I've ever been and let's just say I didn't like the number I saw on the scales. It was definitely higher than when I started. I think I had been in denial that since all my clothes still fit that I really hadn't changed much. With all the travel we did this spring and summer it was difficult to diet because we were constantly eating at restaurants. I figured I'd really concentrate on it when the travel schedule slowed down and I could fix my own meals. The time is here now.  As soon as I returned from Colorado I kicked "project lose weight" into gear. It started with a smoothie I'd pinned on Pinterest. (You can find it here) Hannah saw it and also pinned it and she was the one who tried it first. She sent me a text message saying she had tried it and loved it. That was inspiration for me to give it a try since I knew she was way pickier than me with what she liked.  I went to the store and bought all the ingredients and made a plan to use this smoothie to replace one of my meals. Sometimes I drink it for breakfast and sometimes for lunch and occasionally I've had it for supper. It is delish! Not only is it good for me, it also gives me more energy, something I've been lacking since menopause came upon me.

The next step I am testing that is very much an "unknown" is adding a little iodine into my life. I've been reading several articles online about iodine, thyroid and metabolism. You can find one article here. I've been so very frustrated with my metabolism lately and if I had to pinpoint the one thing that causes me to give up on the weight loss bandwagon it is the slowness at which I lose weight now no matter what I try. The more I read on iodine and thyroid I see that it may be the cause of my metabolism slowness, lack of concentration and achy muscles. So I went to our local health food store and asked them about it. The man recommended that I try something called Atomidine. The bottle was $17.99 so I had to really commit to it to pay that price.I decided to give it a try. I bought a bottle of it before leaving and he told me to get a small glass of water in the morning on an empty stomach and put one drop into the water. I looked at the bottle and realized with using only one drop daily, it will last me quite awhile.  When I look at it that way, the price doesn't seem too high. I've found that less water is better for me when drinking it because it has a medicinal taste to it.  Combining this with the green monster smoothie is really perking up my energy level and I feel like I am more focused and functioning better.....And the fact that I lost 8 lbs in the first week is not too bad either. My goal at this point is to get my weight down at least 20 lbs by the time we go on our New England Trip in October. I have been walking when I can and moving more around the house due to my new found energy. My pants are definitely feeling looser around the waistbands too. Along with the smoothie, I'm following the basic South Beach Diet principles of low carbs (mostly at phase two level). It helps that Russ is doing South Beach with me so that I will stick with it longer. Who knows I've still got a month, I may reach that "goal weight" goal just yet.  I will at least have put in a good effort towards it.  Today, I'm thankful for green smoothies and more energy. Woohoo!