Sunday, January 27, 2013

Virtual Tea Date

It's the last week of January and I've shockingly kept up my goal to blog twice a week. Yay. Back when I used to blog a lot, I feel like reading my blog was a pretty good insight about what is going on in the life of Kelly. But lately, because I've been blogging a lot less, I feel like it hasn't been so much. Jenna does these posts she calls Virtual Coffee Dates, where she basically just tells her readers what she would if we were on a coffee date. I think it's my favorite posts when people just tell me about their life… maybe I'm super nosy? Anyway, I'm going to do it anyway, but call it a Tea Date, since I don't drink coffee. Of course you can order whatever you want :)

If we were having tea today, I would tell you that although it's no secret that I am a summer girl, I am having more fun this winter than I expected to. Thank goodness for breweries to entertain me and my friends/family when it is frigidly cold outside. 

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Oh, and if you are wondering- that french toast photo is from Zaftigs in Brookline. I went there last Wednesday night with some friends and it is SO ridiculously good. So, make that… thank goodness for breweries and food. 


If we were having tea today, I would tell you that I made my official return to yoga on Saturday morning. I've been wanting to return for awhile, but last week was legit crazy. Nothing bad happened but it was SO busy/stressful. I had to implement a breathe in a difficult moment rule several times, so I figured when better to return to yoga. I am going to try to go once a week for awhile now. I know I need to improve my ability to manage stress. I just don't know how. 

If we we having tea today, I would tell you that I am totally dreaming ahead to summer. Eric and I want to go on a big trip and our current plan is Germany, with a stopover in Iceland and a few day trip to Austria from the Munich area. This plan has changed 700 times, so stay tuned. If you have been to any of these places, send recommendations my way. I also have my eyes on several triathlons and races for the summer. I am going to do at least 3 sprint triathlons, and then hopefully also an aqua run, which is 1 mile swim and a 5K.

If we were having tea today, I would tell you that I really like my job and I can see myself doing this job, or something similar for many years. It has not always been this way, in fact, I once google searched other job possibilities while my students ate snack. It was definitely an all time low. Everyone has them, right? I remember my first few years teaching people in my school would retire and there would be a big celebration of their 35 years of teaching, and I'd be thinking "oh god, 30+ more years of this!?" This year my class is hard. They challenge me every day. But, I never want to quit. I always want to just push through, and maybe tack on an extra 7 hours to every day. Somehow I have struck a balance, so I actually have a life outside of work. Somehow I have mastered some of the smaller challenges of teaching so I can focus on the bigger ones. Somehow I just kind of love it. Don't know how that happened, but I'm thankful. 

If we were having tea today, what would you tell me? 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tababa and other Workout Adventures

One of my goals for the month of January was to try a new work out class at the Y that I have never done before. It may sound easy, but I've tried a wide variety of workout classes over the years. A few weeks ago, my friend asked me to try a class called Tabata. I had never heard of it, so I looked it up, and still not knowing much decided to give it a try on Tuesday night. 

It turns out, Tabata was developed by a Japanese scientist, who did some research and learned that high intensity exercise, even when short, is more effective than longer moderate intensity exercise. In Tabata Training, you have 20 seconds of high intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated for 4 minutes, which is considered one Tabata session. Then, you have 8 sessions, so the whole work out takes approximately 32 minutes. If you are interested, you can read more of the back story of Tabata. 

From my understanding, this is basically all the rules of Tabata, so my class may look different than others, but here is what it looked like:

We needed 2 sets of weights, a heavy and a lighter, as well as a step used in a step aerobics class. We started first with a quick cardio warm up and then started on the first Tabata session. In each session we alternated between 2 workouts, a strength workout and a cardio workout. We followed the 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest throughout. We repeated each individual exercise 4 times, for 4 minutes. After the 4 minutes, we got a new strength exercise and a new cardio exercise to repeat. 

Some examples of the strength exercises we did are: bicep curls, tricep extensions, and squats with weights. For cardio, we did a ton of jumping: jumping up on the steps, jumping jacks, side shuffles, high knees etc. I had to modify some of the jumping after awhile because my knee was not impressed but it still felt like a good workout. 

At the end of the 32 minutes, we did about 10 minutes of abs and a cool down, so the entire class was 45 minutes long. It went by really fast because we kept changing things up a lot. It was very similar to a bootcamp class in a lot of ways, but I feel like we changed activities even more often, which I really liked. 

Other awesome gym classes I have tried include Urban Rebounding (my absolute favorite), Hula Hooping, Kickboxing, pilates (an old favorite I would like to start going to again) and Kettlebell Training. The only time I ever had a major gym class fail was when I went to "Boxing" when I was studying abroad in Australia. Though literally nothing else I did in Australia was healthy, I was a very consistent gym goer and I managed to convince a friend of mine to attend the "Boxing" class with me. For some reason, I decided in my mind that Boxing = Kickboxing. Well, it doesn't. It was ALL arms, no kicking at all. Ow. My arms hurt so much the next day I was struggling to take notes in class. I was sore after the Tabata class the other day, but still managed to continue on with my busy week without any difficulty. It was the good kind of sore :) 


Do you like to try out new workouts? What's your favorite class at the gym? 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Adventures in Sweet Potatoes and Bulgogi

How was your weekend!? 

I had today (Monday) off for Martin Luther King Day, so I had a nice, busy 3 day weekend. It included dinners at two delicious restaurants, one of them new to me (but the 3rd oldest restaurant in Boston!) called Marliave :) I went with 3 friends from college, as well as Eric and my friend's husband. We are all picky eaters with eating restrictions and everyone loved it, so I feel like that is real sign of an amazing restaurant. The weekend also included a baby shower and a baptism. Babies, babies everywhere. Here I am below with my college roommates (except my direct roommate Ash) and my mom at Teddy's baptism. 

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The best thing about a 3 day weekend is having Saturday and Sunday to do fun things, and not really needing to be productive until Monday. I spent today swimming, getting as much work as I could handle done, and visiting my friend Tiff and her almost 9 month old Lia. I also cooked up a storm and I have to share these amazing recipes with you. 

My first cooking adventure was Bulgogi Tempeh. If you don't know what Bulgogi is, it's a Korean marinade that Eric is a huge fan of and usually orders with beef at our favorite Korean BBQ. I also had a student's mom make us some delicious Bulgogi back in December. I'm not a vegetarian but I don't love cooking meet either, so I liked the idea of making it with tempeh. You can find the recipe here . I was lucky that Eric enjoys cooking Asian foods so I had a lot of the ingredients in the house already, but they are not impossible to find even if you don't. I used regular soy sauce and substituted the onion with mushrooms. I poured this on top of quinoa and it will be my lunch for the week. 

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My second (actually simultaneous) cooking adventure was sweet potato veggie burgers, or if you are like Eric and fundamentally object to calling something without meat a "burger" then sweet potato patties. I also found this recipe on Pinterest and made a few changes. I can't do whole burgers made of beans (stomach wise), so instead of using 1 sweet potato and 2 cans of beans, I did 2 sweet potatoes and 1 can of beans. The recipe was relaxed as far as spices so I let Eric swoop in and add whatever he felt like which was: paprika, red pepper flakes, onion powder, salt and pepper. I also omitted the tahini because I don't really like it. I got worried halfway through that they weren't going to stay together so I added some egg whites to a few of them, even though they were supposed to be vegan. They all were fine, so I think you could go either way. 

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I ate one and a half on a sandwich for dinner with avocado. I love sweet potato and avocado. Best. Eric ate his as a side with a piece of steak :) Hey, at least I cooked for him. Sort of. 

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Here are some other Pinterest recipes I want to try soon: Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew, Black Bean Sweet Potato Red Quinoa Soup,  Blueberry and Raspberry Baked Oatmeal, and Strawberry Banana Bread. 

How was your weekend? Have you made any good recipes lately? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Household Contributions- K + E Style

I admit it. I'm a bit nosy and I love to read about others people's lives. Nora and Nilsa did this post recently, and I thought I'd steal it. Hope you enjoy learning more about the life of Kelly and Eric :) 

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Obviously I am not including anything about childcare as Eric and I have no kids or pets and thus no responsibilities as far as that is concerned. Happily. 

Vacation Time: Eric and I are very lucky that we have the same vacations. We usually start/end school slightly different days and have some differing days off, but for the most part we take vacations together, which is the best. I plan the vacations, which I love to do.

Work: Eric and I work in different school districts, and at different grade levels, but we work similar hours. We both work full time, plus I tutor after school and Eric runs an after school program at his school. 

Food: We used to grocery shop together, but now we mostly order from Peapod (read about the pros and cons here). We make the list together, Eric puts it into his phone and pays the grocery bill and I wait for the delivery guy to come and put away the food when it arrives. I go to Panera weekly and on occasional Whole Foods and Trader Joes runs. As for cooking, we each make our own breakfasts and lunches for the week (which normally involves me cooking something on Sunday for lunch). Eric cooks dinner 90% of the time. We also have our own shelves of the pantry for our breakfast/lunch and snack foods. Eric claims that I am bad at sharing and he is good, but I think this photo of me stealing a sipping of Eric's drink on Saturday says it all...

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Clearly, sharing is not caring. 

House Cleaning: We both pick up after ourselves for the most part, unless one of us goes on a random cleaning rampage which we have both been known to do. Eric washes a lot more dishes than me, I love to run and empty the dishwasher. I also happily fork over my salary from one tutoring student every other week for someone to clean my house. Best money spent ever. Not kidding. 

Laundry: We both do our own laundry. I am too picky about how my delicate things are done/taken out of the dryer. Eric is too picky about how his clothes are folded. 

Yard Work: All Eric. My only contribution to this is when I feel bad for Eric and contribute to the shoveling by doing the front walkway. Even this is rare. I am spoiled… really. 

Home Improvement: This is mostly all Eric… and my mom. I did make a collage of photo frames this summer… which Eric put up. Do I do anything to contribute to this household? 

Communications: I'd say this is more me. Eric jokes that I am in charge of his social calendar and he has to contact me to know if he is busy. Obviously he chats with his own friends and family, but I am often planning things, I send out Christmas cards, thank you notes, buy most presents etc. Good to know there is some reason Eric would miss me if I was gone. 

Activities: I plan a lot of activities, but Eric often gives ideas. As I mentioned, he never knows our schedule though, that is all me. 

Finances: We have our own accounts and credit cards, though Eric did somehow score a copy of my credit card which I'm happy to say he does not abuse :) We split big monthly household expenses evenly, and are each in charge of separate smaller bills that we originally divided when we moved in together 5 years ago. I pay heat and electricity and he pays cable/internet. We both pay our own car insurance, I pay homeowners insurance. Eric pays for more things on a daily basis like the grocery bill and eating out, and I pay for bigger things like classes, trips etc. It sounds confusing but works well for us. 

Who Wears the Pants: Me. Anyone know who knows Eric knows he only wears shorts :) 

How do you divide household chores? 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Delicate Balance Between Saying Yes and Saying No

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. This year Eric and I did an event gift for my brother and sister for Christmas. We got together yesterday to actually do it, and it included a day trip up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where we visited three breweries (Smuttynose Brewing Company, Redhook Brewery, Portsmouth Brewery) and delicious pizza restaurant called Flatbread Company. 

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It was a fantastic day with wonderful people that I am very lucky to have in my life. 


I have blogged before about how one of my life goals is to say "no" more, and not agree to things just because I will feel guilty if I don't. I say this is one of my life goals because I think it is not something I will ever fully master. Does anyone? Sometimes I think I don't even really want to, since some of the best things I've done in my life I've been unsure about at first.

Today I read an interesting blog post about The Emotional Disentanglement Glove, which is basically about being able to say no to something without feeling like a terrible person. But I also read another article by Tina Fey about how many opportunities she has had in her life because she has played by the rules of improv in her real-life, always saying "yes." The idea is that even if you think maybe I'm not ready, maybe this makes me a little nervous, just say yes and then figure out how you will do it later. 

These two articles and the thoughts behind them have summed up for me where I want to be with saying yes or no at this point in my life. I want to say yes to things I am afraid of, like going on a helicopter ride, or teaching something new to my students, or meeting blog friends. I want to say no to things that do not fit into my life right now, not because I'm scared but because I just cannot do everything and I have to prioritize what I want most. I want to say no to things that I would only say yes to because I feel guilty. 

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Without a specific goal, I think I did well with this in 2012. I said yes to another helicopter ride, to an 11 mile beach hike and another crazy hike up on a mountain a few days later. I said yes to a photography class where I learned how to operate my camera. I said yes to meeting amazing blog turned real life friends. I said yes to two triathlons, a swimming class and a 5K. I can't remember what, if anything, I said no to, but I think that's okay because saying no probably means it wasn't that important to begin with. 

This year I want to say yes to more quality time with everyone I love, more travel, and more triathlons. I want to learn some words in a new language, make lots of photo collages and continue to say yes to reading books, even if I'm not sure they are ones I like. I will say yes to things I don't even know exist yet. I like that. 

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to Create a Realistic Travel Budget

As you all know, I LOVE to trip plan. I love planning trips almost as much as I love going on trips. I've mentioned before that Eric and I would like to go on a somewhat big trip this summer. I spent a lot of this past week trying to figure out what was realistic time and budget wise, so I thought I'd share how I make a travel budget. I'm not claiming to be an expert, so I'd love to hear your travel budget tips in the comments. 

How to Create a Realistic Travel Budget

Step 1: Begin with the transportation costs, especially if you need to take a plane. Often times, this is the most expensive part of your trip and it also requires the least research because you often can't really save THAT much on a flight cost. I usually use Kayak or Orbitz to get a general sense of how much I'm going to have to pay on which airline. If you are going somewhere within the USA, try Bing, they have that cool feature that tells you when is a good time to buy your ticket (if tickets are trending up or down). Ultimately, unless there is a major cost difference, I usually try to buy directly with the airline. I always figure that if there is any kind of issue with my flight, I'll have an easier time rescheduling if I am booked directly with the airline. Luckily I've never had to test out this theory, so it's just a theory. Oh, and also, if you are staying in one place (which I rarely ever do) it's worth looking at plane + hotel packages on Orbitz and Expedia. 

Step 2: Next, I like to figure out where I will stay. For me, this requires significantly more research than the plane. First, I like to visit my old friend Tripadvisor. On my first visit, I just like to read through some of the top hotel reviews for some ideas about what the best location to stay within a given city or town is, and what the general hotel costs are. Obviously it's going to depend a lot on what you want, but I always think it's a great sign if one of the top 3 rated hotels is actually affordable and not a million dollars a night. Next, I have to figure out approximately how long I want to visit this location, which may involve skipping to step 3 and returning to step 2 later. If I plan to stay in one location for several nights, let's say 4 nights to 1 week or longer, I start to seriously consider renting an apartment or a house (if I will have more people). I have had some great success with Homeaway for house rental. Once I know what kind of accommodation I want, I revisit Tripadvisor. When reading reviews, pay attention to your deal breakers only. People always have SOMETHING bad to say about a place, but it may not be something you really care about. I care most about a place being clean, and having comfortable beds. If you have any specific questions, I highly recommend the Tripadvisor forums. I follow a similar method when booking the hotel as I do to the plane, I prefer to book with the hotel directly unless the cost difference is significant. 

Tips for saving money on your accommodation: Stay with friends or family. Choose to stay at an apartment or rental house instead of a hotel. Look into AAA discounts if you are a member. Consider paying ahead for your hotel room, often you can get a better deal if you are willing to pay ahead. 

Step 3: Decide what big things you want to do on your trip. I never plan my whole trip ahead of time, but I like to at least look into the bigger things I will want to do, especially the ones that cost a lot. For example, in Sedona most of what we do is free because it's all hiking, but we do like to do the Pink Jeep tours which are not cheap, so I always factor that into the budget. 

Step 4: Decide if you need to rent a car. Most likely by the time you get to this point it will be obvious whether or not you need a car rental, but if not, go back and look at what you want to do and do a quick google search for "do I need a car in  [insert city name here]?" If you need to rent a car, price out whether it makes the most sense to rent the car at the airport or in town. Usually it's cheaper to rent in town but sometimes the cost difference is not enough to be worth it, especially if you need transportation from the airport into town. 

Step 5: Add in an estimated food cost. This is the part I am worst at, but I am trying to get better. Do some research on restaurants you are likely to eat at (again, it doesn't have to be exact just get a general sense for restaurant prices in the area). If you are going to have a kitchen, obviously food cost will be lower. If there is a Starbucks or small breakfast cafe nearby this can cut down on breakfast costs, and I love Subway for cheap lunches on vacation. I usually try to overestimate on food, because I figure that is better than guessing less and not having enough money in the budget.

Step 6: I like to add a little wiggle room for extra touristy stuff we might do. This depends on the length of the trip, where you are going, and if you are a person who likes to do a lot of shopping. I overestimate here anyway just so I don't end up not having enough money ready for the trip. It's always nice to come back under budget right!? 


Bam. Now you know how much your trip will cost and you know you can not afford to go on a trip. Kidding. Unless you want to go to Australia like I did, in which case this will definitely prove you cannot go haha. Oh well! The best part of this is that if you do it before you start booking, you can go back and cut here and there- find a cheaper hotel, decide not to rent a car (if it's not necessary) etc so you can save money. I swear, half of the fun of a trip is planning it! :) 


Do you have any tips for saving money on travel and/or creating a travel budget? Where is your next trip going to be? 




Sunday, January 6, 2013

Photo Collages

In December, one of my goals was to post a photo each day to my Facebook wall. I wanted to see if I ever had a shot at doing a 365 photo challenge that many in the blogging world have successfully completed. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to accomplish a month of photos, only skipping one day and making up for it on January 1st. I actually loved doing it and it's been a lot of fun to look back on my entire month in photos. I did try to give up once, but then the next day at work I had some friends tell me how much they enjoyed looking at my pictures and I figured that was my sign to keep going. 


So, will I ever do a 365 day photo challenge? Probably not. I had the advantage of Christmas (lots of things to take photos of) and a vacation in December and it was still hard some days. But, I do want to take more photos in 2013, particularly of more of the small events and little moments that make my life so wonderful. 


One of the surprising discoveries I made during my photo challenge was the wonderful world of photo collages. There were several days over the month that I had more than one picture I wanted to show off. I discovered a website called Picisto which allowed me to create several fun collages, and then while I was in Miami with only my iPad I discovered an app called Pic Collage, which did the same thing. Here are some fun collages I made over the month: 

December 2, 2012: Visiting Katie and Teddy, Dinner with the Family

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December 9, 2012: Celebrating Hanukkah with Sarah and Brian as part of our Religious Exchange Program (aka enjoy each other's traditions)

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December 13, 2012: Will Run for Wine with Eric

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December 15, 2012: Celebrating Christmas with Sarah and Brian as part of our Religious Exchange Program, Part 2

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December 24, 2012: Christmas Eve 

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December 28, 2012: Miami Trip 

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When I was in high school, I loved making photo collages for friends by printing out a bunch of pictures, cutting them up and then arranging them. This is way easier, but equally fun to look at. I made it a goal for the month of January to make 1 photo collage a week. If I like it, maybe I'll do it all year. Who knows!? Here is Week 1: 

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I had a great week of watching fireworks (or attempting), having dinner with my friends, and visiting with my favorite dog. If only I didn't have to say goodbye to that beautiful Miami beach! 

Do you think you could ever do a 365 day photo challenge? Do you like taking pictures? 

Friday, January 4, 2013

The More That You Read...

"The more that you read

The more things that you will know

The more that you learn

The more places you'll go" -Dr. Seuss

Perhaps this Dr. Seuss quote links my loves for reading and traveling? 

I stole this fun 2012 book stats from Emily. If you do not participate in our awesome blogger book club yet, you really should make it your New Year's Resolution :) 

Kelly's Book Stats 2012

How many books read in 2012? 50, on the dot. 

How many fiction and non fiction? 41 fiction, 9 nonfiction. I fully admit I prefer fiction. 

Male/Female author ratio? 13 male, 37 female. I swear this is not on purpose. Perhaps I need to take more book recommendations from Eric?   

Favorite book of 2012? Well, favorite author of 2012 is definitely Sarah Jio. I loved, loved Violets of March, The Bungalow and Blackberry Winter. All amazing books. 

Least favorite? Probably 50 Shades of Grey, only book I gave 2 stars all year. Even that wasn't as bad as I expected it to be...

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why? I picked up and put down the book Room several times. Technically I did not finish it in 2012, but I actually did finish it on January 1st 2013. I ended up liking it, it just took me a bit of effort to get into! 

Longest and shortest book titles?  11/22/63 was the longest at 849 pages, yikes! The 7th Month was an especial by Lisa Gardner and was only 71 pages, so that has to be the shortest. 

How many books from the library? I would guess close to half, maybe more- I didn't pay for many books this year. 

How many books read did I purchase? Not many… I would guess 3 or 4? 

How many were gifts? I don't think any… 

How many were given to me for reviews? None

How many books read on kindle? I would say probably 45 or so. I love my Kindle. 

Any re-reads? The Great Gatsby was the only re-read this year. 

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading? Germany, England, Australia, France, Italy, Yemen, Bora Bora, Czech, and an undisclosed country in South America (seriously- I can't figure out what country State of Wonder took place in?)

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation? I probably would not have read 11/22/63 without my friend Sarah's recommendation, but it was really good so I'm glad I did. I actually read a lot of random books this year that I wouldn't have found without a recommendation! 

Instead of doing my Top 10 book events, I'm going to do my Top 12 Books in 2012, in case you want some ideas for books to read this year: 
What were your favorite books in 2012? 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bring it 2013

The holidays and vacation came and went, and just that like my alarm went off in the pitch black this morning and I was back at work. Good thing those kiddos are cute is all I can say. 


A year ago when I did my first post of 2012, I decided to focus only on monthly goals. This worked really well for me so I plan to do it again. I do have a couple of big goals for this year including reading 40 books (which may get up to 50 again if I end up reading as much), going on a big trip this summer (maybe) and trying lots of new fun things. But, overall I plan to stick to my monthly goals and challenges which seems to work best for my short attention span.


I don't know if this will be interesting to anyone else, but this school year my professional goal is actually to make my students make monthly goals (3 times during the year, one math goal, one writing goal and one reading goal). In November, we tried our first one- the kids made math goals. Some examples were: learn to count to 100 (or 30, depending on where they began), learn the number combinations to 10 (like 2 and 8 more is 10), learn to count by tens or fives, identify teen numbers etc. The whole month I made a huge deal of it, held daily practice sessions, got the parents involved, etc. In the end, almost every kid met their goal and it was pretty cool to watch. This month we are doing writing goals. The kids are pretty excited, and actually wanted to know today if I met my reading goal for 2012, even though I'm not sure if they possibly comprehend the concept of one year or how long it takes to read an adult book, ha ha. 


January is going to be a busy month for me, but I have some goals in mind: 

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Last year I really jumped off the blogging bandwagon, and I'd like to get back into it this year. I'm starting easy with 2 posts per week, but considering I wrote 3 in the month of December total, that's a big step in the right direction. I hope you will check in and say hi! 


What are some goals you have for the upcoming month or year? Do you work well with goals or do you prefer to just see where life takes you?