101 in 1001: February Update

Thursday, February 15, 2018

We're really close to the end of this 101 in 1001 challenge.  I honestly don't think there is anything else I'm going to end up crossing off the list, but I'll definitely be participating in the last link up and sharing everything that I did manage to accomplish.  Here is what I've accomplished since my last update.

Visit NYC -  On November 27th my best friend text me out of the blue and said she was going to her parents house in DE for a few days and asked if I would be able to meet her in NYC.  I was a bit skeptical at first because the bus times sucked and I had to catch the bus in Syracuse.  Also, I would be on the bus for 10 hours in 1 day.  I said yes though because I hadn't seen her in a year.  We had a great time in NYC on December 4th.

Pay off one Student Loan - We paid off my Federal Student Loan in January!  Every time we pay something off, it's a small weight off my shoulders.  I'm so ready to have the personal loan paid off, hopefully in April!

Put together a financial plan and stick to it -  I'm counting this as finished.  We've been really good with our money over the last 8 months and I know it'll just keep getting better this year!  We have a solid plan to pay off our debts by April of 2020, but we're trying hard to be debt free by the end of 2019, before we PCS.

Book Reviews: January

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I am so happy to say that my reading year has started out fantastic!  My first read of the year was one of my favorites yet and I haven't read a book yet that I didn't enjoy!  I'm really enjoying Erin's challenge! 

Linking up HERE

I have so many feelings about this book that I'm not even sure I can write a good review right now.  I think this book will get a post of its own.  If I don't get around to writing a review, just take my word for it and read this book ... 5/5
Read for Book Challenge By Erin

After the heaviness of Beartown, I really needed something light and cute.  This book was just what I needed.  There were some parts that were annoying because it tried a bit too hard to be angsty, but for the most part it was a cute story.  My favorite part of this book is that Reagan and Dee's friendship was a central part of the story rather than just the love storyIt was cliche and a bit predictable, but I enjoyed it ... 3/5
Read for Book Challenge By Erin

This book would have been so much better if it was just a tad shorter because holy hell did some parts just drag on!  Other than that, though, I enjoyed it.  It just took me a bit to get through and it was a bit overly wordy.  It's basically a Will and Kate fan-fiction so if that doesn't sound like your thing, then I probably wouldn't bother but if it does then it's an enjoyable read ... 3/5
Read for Book Challenge by Erin

I really enjoyed this book.   I know that the maid was a fictional character, but the facts about how Andrew Carnegie rose through the ranks and became so wealthy are actually true.  It was interesting to learn more about the Carnegie's, a family I knew very little about before reading this.  I also enjoyed reading about and Irish immigrant.  Even though Claire was a fictional character, the hardships she and her family faced were very real at the time - my Grandmothers family were Irish immigrants, so hearing different stories is always interesting to me.   This is a solid read and I'd definitely recommend it ... 4/5.
Read for Book Challenge by Erin

Life Update: January

Thursday, February 1, 2018

In 2016, I did monthly updates and I'm really glad I did.  It ended up being a really great year and I'm happy I have those posts to look back on.   I decided not to go that route in 2017 and I'm glad I didn't because for the most part it would have said "this month I worked 2 jobs and went to the dog park".  Hopefully, with my husband home, this year will be better than last so I've decided to give the monthly updates another go.

January was friggin' cold.  We spent the first half of the month in the negatives - not my cup of tea! Luckily it warmed up bit later in the month - so over these long cold winters!

We paid off my first student loan!  I'll go in to a bit more detail in my next financial update, but I'm ecstatic!   Every time we pay something off I feel a little bit weight lifted off my shoulders.  As exciting as it is to pay everything off, I can't wait for this part of our lives to be over!

I got a different second job.  The hotel is basically dead all winter so I wanted to get something more stable for a second job.  I accepted a job at another restaurant that seems pretty steady through the seasons.  I'm really hoping to make more money to speed up this debt snowball.  We're on a roll and I don't plan to slow down. 

I started a new cleaning schedule at the beginning of the month and I'm happy to say that I've been sticking to it pretty well.  I do one or two rooms per day so that I don't end up spending my entire day off cleaning the house.

Of course, we had to end the month with my pulling my hair out.  Josh's radiator went up and we had to get it fixed immediately.  Luckily a guy he works with knew a guy and we got it done at a fraction of the normal price, and he did a solid job.

Nothing too exciting in January - for now we're just working and trying to stay warm.  I'm ready for winter to be over so we can actually do things!

Linking up HERE

January Health Goals

Monday, January 15, 2018

This year I really want to focus on my health.  Last year was probably the worst year I've had health/fitness wise in a long time.  I've gained weight, I feel sluggish, and I've lost a good bit of muscle mass - in short, I feel like crap.  So, this year I want to make monthly goals to get myself back on track.  This blog will be my accountability partner through the year. 

January is about easing myself back into things.   I start back at the gym tomorrow and have my routine all written out.  I've started adding more healthy things to my plate each meal.  For example, instead of buying kettle cooked chips to eat with lunch, I bought strawberries and clementines. 

What I really want to focus on this month, though, is drinking enough water.  Anyone who knows me in real life knows that water is pretty much all I drink.  However, I feel like I don't drink enough, so I really want to focus on making sure I'm getting at least 65oz (about 2 liters) of water per day.   I have broken this goal up into a few "subgoals" to make this easier and to make it easier to track.

1. Drink one 8oz glass of water before each meal
Water always makes me feel full, therefore my portions are smaller if I drink a glass of water before each meal.  It is recommended to drink a full glass approximately 20 minutes before each meal.  This will help with both keeping hydrated and keeping my portion sizes under control.

2. Drink two 8oz glasses of water right after waking up
Doing this has many benefits but the main thing I'm concerned with is that it kick starts your metabolism.  Some other benefits are that it eliminates toxins, re-hydrates your brain, and stimulates your digestive system.

3. Use my Fitbit to track my water intake 
I used to always wear my Fitbit and now I hardly ever do.  Back in 2016 when I was wearing it regularly, I was keeping track of both my food intake and my water intake.  It's a habit I want to get back in to, and I'll start with my water intake.

Next month I hope to have a few more goals to help me get a good gym schedule going, but for now this is a pretty good start. 

Meet Belle

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I am a terrible doggy Mom!  We've had this pretty lady since November 29th and I have yet to introduce her.  Everyone, meet Belle!

Our first pup, Bolt is very active and very social.  We (I) started noticing that he seemed a bit down over the summer - except when we would go to the dog park and play with other dogs.  I told Josh about this and we decided that we'd get another dog, but not until he got back from deployment.  I thought it would be a better idea to wait until after Christmas because we'd be going home for Christmas and I didn't think we'd be able to find a place to board a dog on such short notice ... but my husband does what he wants.

Josh told me one random day that he was going to go down to the SPCA and "just look".  I had been closely following the dogs on their FB site and didn't think any were a good fit for Bolt, so I wasn't worried and just humored him.   I then get a text message while I'm at work and this is what I see ...

... all I said was "shit".  I knew we were getting this dog.  She was a stray and they had just gotten her in - she didn't even have a name, we named her.  She was in isolation after getting her shots and flea stuff which is why I didn't see her on the site.  We were the first ones to know about her and the first to put in an application.   All we had to do was get Bolt over there to meet her and make sure they got along.  When I first saw her I was a bit worried, she was way smaller than she looked in pictures and Bolt can be a bit rough.  She was only 9 months so she still has some growing left to do and I quickly realized that girlfriend can hold her own.   Luckily they got along really great, and our application was accepted.  They said we could pick her up that Wednesday because she was scheduled to get spayed on Tuesday.

The first few days royally sucked because she was crated for most of the day.  Since she had just gotten spayed she couldn't play with Bolt for at least a week, so we had to get creative with letting them get to know each other.  It actually worked really well.  We also let her roam around the spare bedroom since there was nothing high that she could jump on and nothing for her to get in to. 

Once she was healed and could play with Bolt, it was nonstop fun for them!  She absolutely adores him, and has no trouble keeping up with him.   It's been fun watching them become fast friends!  We definitely love our little princess!

50 States Books

Monday, January 8, 2018

Last week I wrote about my reading goals for the year, including finishing the 50 States Challenge.  I figured I'd share the books I've chosen for this challenge just in case anyone else was thinking about tackling this. 

Alabama: The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Alaska: Upstream by Melissa Lion
Arizona: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Arkansas: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
California: Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway
One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus
Colorado: The Shining by Stephen King
Connecticut: All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Delaware: Are You Scared Yet by Hunter Morgan
Florida: Abandon by Meg Cabot
Georgia: The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Hawaii: Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
Idaho: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
Illinois: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Indiana: The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter
Iowa:  Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Kansas: The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
Kentucky: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Louisiana: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Never Never by Colleen Hoover
Maine: Picture This by Jacqueline Sheehan
Maryland: Divine Fall by Kathryn Knight
Avalon High by Meg Cabot
Massachusetts: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Michigan: Marlena by Julie Buntin
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Minnesota: Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Mississippi: The Chamber by John Grisham
Missouri: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Montana: After the Rain by Renee Carlino
My One and Only by Kristan Higgins
Nebraska: Tease by Amanda Maciel
Nevada: Void Moon by Michael Connelly
New Hampshire: Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
New Jersey: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
New Mexico: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
New York: Faithful by Alice Hoffman
The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen
North Carolina: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
North Dakota: A Country Christmas by Debbie Macomber
Ohio: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise
Oklahoma: Hereafter by Tara Hudson
The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
Oregon: The Shack by Wm. Paul Young
Pennsylvania: Only Ever You by Rebecca Drake
Rhode Island: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
South Carolina: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
South Dakota: Blood Ties by Lori G. Armstrong
Tennessee: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Texas: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Utah: Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Vermont: All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg
Virginia: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Washington: I was Here by Gayle Forman
West Virginia: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
Wisconsin: Dairy Queen by Catherin Gilbert Murdock
Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Wyoming: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Book Reviews: December

Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy to say I ended 2017 on a good note as far as reading goes.  I enjoyed all of the books I read in December and I really hope this continues into January :)
Linking Up Here

This book was not what I expected at all!  I LOVED it!  To be honest, this book didn't seem like something I'd like, but it seemed like everyone loved it so I decided to check it out.  TJR does such a good job of bringing Evelyn Hugo to life - she is such a well developed character!  Her life story is so heartbreaking and totally not what I was expecting at all.   Definitely read this book  ... 4/5

This was probably my least favorite of the series so far, but the ending was good enough that I will probably read the next book.  I don't know what it was about this one but it just didn't grab me like the first two did.  I'd still recommend the series to anyone who likes this kind of thing ... 3/5

I have mixed feelings about this book.  I did enjoy it and it was definitely a quick read.  I did find myself having trouble putting this book down.  However, the ending was so rushed that it kind of spoiled the book a bit for me.   I loved Ava and Leah's parts of the story and I do think they tied those stories together really well at the end.  While Marglyn and Darcy's stories were important, I just wasn't as in to them.  I do think this book is worth reading and I did enjoy it - I just wish it was a bit longer ... 3/5

I was really looking forwards to this book because one of the main characters was obviously on the Autism spectrum.  He had a lot of the same characteristics as my brother - sensitive to clothing, sensitive to sound (he also wears noise canceling headphones), intensely focused on things he's interested in.  I think she did a great job with David's character and I really enjoyed reading the chapters from his perspective.  I liked Kit, too but David is what really made this book great for me.  I did have a "oh no, please don't" moment when I thought this was going to be a "she's all that" kind of book where the nerd becomes cool, but it wasn't - thank goodness!  I really enjoyed this book and will be checking out more by this author ... 4/5.

This was a cute Pride and Prejudice "retelling", I enjoyed the story and I liked the characters for the most part.  What knocked this down in stars for me was the horrible editing.  I found tons of missing punctuation marks and 3 incomplete sentences that made no sense.  She needs a new editor ... 3/5
Hayley Larue Design