one new year goal: A-Z reading challenge

I'm still in the process of coming up with a solid New Year's resolution-type plan, but I'm planning on it centering around taking better care of myself - sleeping, taking vitamins, exercise, etc. It's also going to include something I love very, very much but I sometimes let slip in favor of things like TV: READING.

I absolutely love to read, always have. Apparently I taught myself to read out of a cookbook as a kid (according to my mom). Last year, I started using Goodreads to see how many books I read, what books they were, etc. I assumed I would read about 50 books- one a year. I actually only read 31 - and that counts a couple I didn't even finish!

So my new plan is the following: To participate in the A-Z Challenge for reading this year.
The challenge: 52 books total (one a week on average). You pick 26 by the title, one for each letter of the alphabet (so starting with A, B, etc.) and 26 by the author, one for each letter of the alphabet (same thing).

from the site: If you want to give the X's a go... For authors, try to find an X in the first name, middle name, or last name. For titles, it doesn't have to be the starting word. Try to find an X somewhere in a title, and it'd count in my book.

Still can't find a book for the letter you need? I'll take your word for it. I've been there. I know. If your library doesn't see the need to order books just because it starts with an X, then I don't blame you for not wanting to special order a book that you may or may not enjoy. You gave it your best, don't feel bad. You can still make this challenge work for you.
And my one disclaimer: I occasionally reread books. I will probably do so this year. If I do, I think they count if they fit in the challenge - so long as there are 5 or less for the year. If not, they don't count - I can still read them (clearly) but not as part of my 52.

I'm excited! I really love to read, and I love finding new books. Now I'll have a reason to turn off the TV!
Anyone care to join me?


Christmas goals - how did I do?

OK, a few weeks ago (almost 3 to be exact), these were the holiday goals I had in mind. Want to see how I did?
  • Make a list of all the gifts I still need to get. -  
    • HALF COMPLETE - Did I make a physical list? No. Did I made a mental list? Yes. Did I miss anyone? No. So while it was less organized than planned, I think that's a success. So, COMPLETE!:) 
  • Get the above gifts.
    • COMPLETE - I did get all of my gift shopping done before Christmas!
  • Christmas cards! Yup, still do them. Need to get all the addresses and write the cards and send them out. 
    • 85% COMPLETE, aside from the people who didn't send me their addresses in time. Those still need to get mailed. I don't really feel like battling the snow to go to the mailbox right now. I also have an online "happy new year!" card for a few people, that I will send on Wednesday/Thursday.

  • Aside from the previously mentioned almond bark, bake some cookies. Specifically, Mama Pea's dough balls - the snickerdoodle ones. Yum yum yum.
    • COMPLETE! -  I made dough balls THREE TIMES. (One epic failure and two successes, in case you were wondering). I also baked cranberry walnut scones. I even have pictures so I can write blog posts about it!

  • MAIL MY FAMILY'S GIFTS. Yes, I said that already, but I am not going home for the holidays so I really need to do this. It's my first year away from my mom and brother on Christmas. Not getting the gifts there = not cool.
    • COMPLETE!! I waited until the last minute, as always. BUT, they all got there on the day before Christmas. 
  • Wrap presents! And try not to hate it. Last year, I actually had fun doing it. That's a first, trust me.
    • COMPLETE - I wrapped all my presents, and I didn't 100% hate it. 
  • Switch the CD in my car (it's the backup music for when the radio is really bad) to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
    • COMPLETE! It skips. I need to burn a new copy.  
  • Finish decorating! Then I can post pictures!
    • Umm... 75% COMPLETE. Never really "finished" decorating - I had lights for the windows that I never put up. And I never took pictures. But I still can! So perhaps I'll "complete" this goal by December 31.
  • Play in the snow!  
    • Not complete yet, but have you seen the news?!?! We have over a foot of snow outside. I'll play in it before December 31.  
  • Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. Yearly tradition!!
    • COMPLETE- OMG I FORGOT TO WATCH CHARLIE BROWN BEFORE CHRISTMAS. So I did it while snowed in all day. I did watch Love Actually and Miracle on 34th Street. I also plan on watching the rest of my holiday movies while it's still "the holiday season" (aka, before New Years.)

Stay tuned for A) A follow up on how I did with those last couple of nagging goals (decorations/pictures, last minute cards, etc)  and B) A description of the rest of the holiday.

How was your holiday weekend everyone?? Anything fun happen?

Oh, and PS - CONGRATULATIONS to MARGO and ROB, who got engaged over the holiday weekend :) :) :)


winter wonderland!

OK, who remembers when I wanted it to snow so I could play in it?

Well, at first, I thought we'd just get a little. Last week we had a couple of days with a couple of inches. And then, yesterday, the day after Christmas, I got my wish!!

the Charles River this morning - from boston.com

Brookline last night - again, boston.com

woo hoo! it's a real blizzard, no work for me today (though Chris did have to venture in, poor guy). I am thinking about bundling up to take some pictures in my neighborhood, instead of stealing other people's!

happy snow day Massachusetts (and NY/NJ I believe)!!


yoga challenge fail

OK, so I started off REALLY well with the 31 days of yoga challenge...and then my back hurt. Like, really hurt, so I took 2 days off (last Tuesday and Wednesday).

And then... I don't know what happened. I did Thursday, but then I stopped again. I blame the following:
  • a 2 hour drive + 8 hours running dissertation subjects + a 2 hour return drive on Friday did not make me want to do anything except for eat dinner and get in my bed on Friday - which is exactly what I did.
  • I tried to get up early on Saturday, but Chris likes to stay in bed on Saturday mornings and be lazy, and that just makes it too tempting to stay in there where it's warm!
  • Yesterday, we went to Chris's grandparents' house for amazing Sunday lunch, and I didn't do it before we left because, again, lazy+warm....and then I had eaten SO much food when I got back, I decided to watch Lie to Me instead. (side note - Anyone else watch it? Thanks to Anna and Ben for that recommendation... I love it! And it's totally based in real psych research too. Paul Eckman, if you want to look him up.)
  • Last... stupid Verizon took the video I liked (YogaWorks) off of on demand, and I had to find a new one. Annoying.
So far, I've done 7 days, out of 13 (well today is day 13, but unless I motivate quite a lot in the next 1 hr and 37 minutes, it's not happening). While this makes me feel like a total failure in some aspects, in other aspects...that's still every other day on average, which is WAY more yoga than I did any month in the last year. So it's still progress, right? RIGHT?!!?

Anyone have some comforting words (or alternately, a big giant kick in the ass) for me?:)


thinking ahead to 2011

**note - I wrote this post on December 9th. Why it didn't post then, I don't know, but I just found it so here it is!! Thoughts still appreciated!**

As many of you know, I really liked The Happiness Project, and I read Gretchen Rubin's blog for more happiness-related inspiration.One of her recent posts was about choosing one word to set a theme for next year, instead of doing your typical resolution. Since that's pretty similar to my three-words-for-my-bracelet strategy (and how I named this blog!), I'm seriously considering it, but no idea what word to pick. Some thoughts:
  • energy - I always need it.
  • happiness - this is sort of self-explanatory.
  • challenge - I am defending my dissertation in April. I'm going to start a new job and as of now, I have no idea what that will be yet. Could be a challenging year.
  • relax - this is the front runner now. 2011 has the potential to be a somewhat stressful year - with good things! dissertation submissions, and graduation, and being a bridesmaid x 3, and planning our wedding too - I may need a reminder to relax.
Thoughts, everyone? Any other ideas for a theme for 2011? What would you choose?


oops - forgot the holiday goals.

In all of my posting excitement, I forgot to include any holiday-related goals in my December Goals - or maybe, I'm just trying to meet my goal of posting 4x/week....yeah right, I can only wish I was that clever.

image credit

Anyway! in no particular order, here's what I want to do in the next 18 days before Christmas!
  • Make a list of all the gifts I still need to get.
  • Get the above gifts.
  • Christmas cards! Yup, still do them. Need to get all the addresses and write the cards and send them out.
  • Aside from the previously mentioned almond bark, bake some cookies. Specifically, Mama Pea's dough balls - the snickerdoodle ones. Yum yum yum.
  • MAIL MY FAMILY'S GIFTS. Yes, I said that already, but I am not going home for the holidays so I really need to do this. It's my first year away from my mom and brother on Christmas. Not getting the gifts there = not cool.
  • Wrap presents! And try not to hate it. Last year, I actually had fun doing it. That's a first, trust me. Why is that, you ask? Because my mother used to make me wrap all of her presents for everyone. And she used to forget to take my presents out of the pile, so I would pick up a penguin ornament or the rereleased copy of E.T. on DVD, and know it was mine, and she would just say "ssh! just wrap it!" clearly, I've been scarred for life.
  • Switch the CD in my car (it's the backup music for when the radio is really bad) to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
  • Finish decorating! Then I can post pictures!
  • Play in the snow! clearly it will have to snow and stick for this to happen, but I would really like a white Christmas...
  • Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. Yearly tradition!!
how about everyone else? Anyone have any Christmas goals? Have any other good cookies for me to make - especially gluten free ones? :)

**yes, this post is half in red and half in green. because, again, I'm such a cool kid.


manic monday = the last day of classes!

not sure if this will be a coherent post, but here's a ramble for you nonetheless.
  • today was Brandeis's last day of classes for the semester. this. semester. FLEW. unbelievable. I'm starting to get that "second semester senior" feeling.... guess that makes sense, because next semester will be my last in school, EVER. spent a couple of hours looking at job postings today and I just want to GRADUATE already.
  • 31 Day Yoga Challenge: so far, I've done yoga every day! some days have been more fun than others. My favorite yoga to do has been the Yoga Works Beginner AM/PM Yoga - it's free on demand. I think it reminds me the most of the classes I used to take. Like Anna said, I could probably do the intermediate ones, but I like the beginning ones better for now. Actually, on Friday night I tried to do an intermediate one post-glass-of-wine-and-salad, and post-12-hour-day-with-4-hours-driving, and it was brutal so I gave up and switched to an easier one. Whatever that one was, it had a cartoon girl and weird music. Not doing that again. I also tried one from YogaDownload - I tried the Yoga for Runners 25 minute, because my hips hurt and I thought it would help. I liked it, but I like Yoga Works better so far.
  • Speaking of Friday, I went to UMass-Dartmouth to run dissertation subjects for the day. 16 in one day! I'm going again this Friday and hopefully it will be just as productive. On the way back, grabbed salad for dinner at Watch City (man, I miss being able to drink their beer).  Saturday I stayed home for the day except for a quick run (2.06 miles done towards those December Goals! Oh, and Emily and I watched Sex and the City 2. And it was.... AWFUL. Like, I have never been so happy to have not seen a movie in the theater. Sunday I felt like crap. All stuffy and headachy, which I still am, so been trying to lay low. 
  • Currently, I am sitting on my couch (post-yoga! with my glasses on! they fell off during. Can't you picture it? I'm such a cool kid...right) watching The Sing Off. Fun fact for those who don't know - I sang in one choir or another (or voice lessons, or a capella groups at summer camp) starting at age 8 until college. Sometimes, I still miss it. Which is why I LOVE Glee and why I am currently enjoying this show. Chris is out, and he called to tell me that it's snowing, but it's not snowing by our place.
  • Oh, but I almost didn't mention the best part of the day.... MY NEW PLANNER STARTED TODAY!!! So I get to use it. (Thanks again to Sarah for posting about the wonders of the Space 24 planner, which I am now enjoying!!!) And, I got a new notebook (a Moleskin Peanuts 60th anniversary notebook with Snoopy on it, in case you were wondering), and I just started using that too. I'm going to get another one to use for dissertation things (I think the other one had Woodstock on it!! cute!), because I might as well have something to smile at during my hours of writing and statistics. I got new pens, too. I love new office supplies!!! Anyone else with me on that? (cough cough...Cheryl... )


December Goals

Inspired by my bestest friend and my my "twin", some December goals of my own:

  • 31 Day Yoga Challenge. complete it.
  • Copying Anna, run at least 20 miles this month. Hopefully more, but let's aim low, it's getting cold and dark outside.
  • Since I am running the Jingle Bell run, do a faster 5K than I did in the 10K last month. (which I will blog about. I swear. I even have a picture of us!)
  • Get all of my grading done for the semester by December 18th, a week before Christmas.
  • Make a plan to get my dissertation written by the proper deadlines.
  • Redo my CV (what we call resumes in this crazy academic world) so I can get, you know, a job. Or at least start applying.
  • Rewatch all of the Harry Potter movies before Christmas (Chris and I try to do it every year).
  • Mail my family's presents home in time for them to actually be there ON Christmas, not afterwards.
  • Blog at least 4 times a week. I want to get back into it!
  • Make almond bark from scratch- I've been dying to try it. 
  • Watch all of In Treatment. I'm almost done with Season 1, Emily has Season 2, and Season 3 is on demand until January 3rd, so if I want to watch it I need to get on it!
Any other ideas for me? Do you have goals for the month that you'd like to share?:)


31 Day Yoga Challenge

I've decided to join several lovely ladies, inspired by this one in particular, and do a challenge - 31 days of yoga, to be exact.
(does that remind anyone else of 25 Days of Christmas? on ABC Family? which is something that I LOVE, btw.)

ANYWAY! yoga. I love yoga, and I decided recently that I wanted to start doing it again - back in college I used to go to the classes at Healthworks (oh, I miss Healthworks too, but that's another story), and I get into phases where I do it on the Wii Fit or on demand on tv. I asked for a yoga pass to one of the studios near our apartment for Christmas, so this just seems like perfect timing.

The rules: at least 20 minutes of yoga a day for 31 days straight. Today was Day 1, and I'll do it every day until 2011!

Reasons for the challenge:
  1. as mentioned above, I really love yoga.
  2. Starting when I switched to eating gluten free, but especially over the last 6 months, I've been getting into the idea of "healthy living" - reading blogs, cooking more, and trying to exercise. This seems like a good way to do it.
  3. I figure it will be good for stress - I'm doing fine right now, but dissertation writing starts for real (yikes) shortly, and if I get into the yoga habit maybe it will be one I can keep....
  4. I want to see how much better I can get in 31 days. Maybe I'll finally be able to keep my balance.
  5. Since I am getting into running, and we are apparently going to keep running races (right, Katie? Miranda? Christen? Anna? culminating in Disney Princess Half Marathon 2012? I'm really only motivated by running by Cinderella's castle...) it can only help, right?
Day One report: Since I didn't do anything this morning, I did a yoga video on demand tonight, while I recorded the last Top Chef episode of last season since I never saw it. Now, watching that in bed. The yoga was more challenging than I was expecting it to be, but in a good way - I haven't really done it in a few months, so that's probably why!

Anyone else want to join in, or make up your own? It'll be fun!