Current Thoughts: February 2018



 Hello! January is over! It took forever...why? Why is January the longest month EVER?

Anyway. Here's what's going on in my life atm...

  • Babycakes is in a hitting/no no no to everything/tantrum, and it flippin' SUCKS. Like I know it's part of being a toddler, but it's also so damn infuriating and also concerning because I don't want my kid to be the brat. Hopefully it's just a stage, which I think the biting was, but ugh. Not a fan.


  • On the other hand, SHE TALKS SO MUCH! And does so many things! It's so cool to see her put things together and make her own connections and thoughts, and see her little personality come out more and more. Totally adorable and awesome and fun. Definitely have to be super careful about what I say/watch/listen to/do, because she copies literally EVERYTHING.

  • Basically, living with a toddler is literally like living with a real life Sour Patch kid.



  • Hubs & I have a halfway plan of getting out of debt, possibly within the next 1-2 years. I know some people act like debt itself is the worst thing on the planet, but truthfully I'm just proud of us for realizing our mistakes and working to fix them. It's dependent on a few things that aren't set in stone quite yet but look very probable. Like, we took half our tax return to pay off my student loan! And have fairly responsible plans for the other half. Overall, yay, successful adulting! 

  • More successful adulting: I went to the dentist! I know, this SHOULDN'T be a big deal...but I haven't been since high school. It's terrible, but whatever, it's my life. I'm going to end up getting 5 teeth removed (wisdom teeth+an extra...literally I just have an extra tooth behind my normal tooth). Anyway, this is nothing and I probably have a long road ahead of me, possibly braces IF I can afford them which I'm not sure I can. But, I did a thing I've avoided for a decade so GOOD FUCKING JOB, ME.


  • I think I have hacked my own Facebook. I hate Facebook because it is supposedly about connection, but IT'S NOT. At least not for me. No one talks TO each other, they mostly talk ABOUT each other...or themselves. But it does provide useful information for researching restaurants and community events, selling things in BST or Yard Sale pages, etc. Sooooo...I decided to unfollow all of my "friends!" With all due respect to them...it's not being used as a means of actual communication. I started to just unfriend people, but that would potentially cause drama that I am just not prepared to handle at the moment. It's great. I'm not worried about missing info, because my IRL friends or Hubs will keep me clued in on the major developments. 



What's up with you lately?

Show Us Your Books: February 2018



Shout-out to Teh Megan for lending audio books & vastly upping my amount this month...bloggy friends FTW!

First things first: this didn't quite rip me to shreds the way her previous book What I Never Told You Did. This could be because I couldn't devour it in one sitting the way I did the first book, or because it ends slightly more hopeful (in my opinion). But holy hell. This book examines family and friendship and the feminine experience and specifically mothers and daughters in a billion different complex and thoughtful ways. The adoption situation was really difficult to consider given that we are hoping to be licensed for foster care any day now.
★★★★

Again, a book that examines family and love and friendships and culture and fame and sexuality in an intensely personal and thoughtful way.  Not at all what I expected- but in a great way. It was deep and I loved it.
★★★★★

I'm not sure how much I can say about this that hasn't already been said. It's touching, it's relevant, it's a story about family and friendship and tragedy. I avoided it for a while because I thought it would be hard to read, and some of it was. There were parts that were shockingly normal and parts that were heartbreaking- that juxtaposition felt like a poor writing choice at first and then felt very intentional as I thought about it. It's a roller coaster of emotions- I laughed and cried and agreed and questioned. Read it.
★★★★★



★★

 The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn
Now this was a somewhat chic-lit done correctly (see below DNF for context). It was complicated and flawed and weird. I love stories that show the little hidden lives of different people in the community, all these tiny gems that are so easy to miss in real life. It looses points because there were two arcs that I didn't feel were necessary- not because they were bad or frustrating, they just added nothing to the overall narrative. One went on too long but got nowhere, and one was a single chapter that again went nowhere. They seem to be included to showcase more varieties in relationships, which I like, but these were not done well (especially noticeable in a novel where that exact thing was done brilliantly for at least 3 other couples). But overall a good read and one of the first books in a while I have breezed through with pure enjoyment.
★★


What have you been reading lately? 
Link-up & let us know!
Life According to Steph

Bullet Journal Walk-Through: Part 2


 Okay, now it's time to talk about why the Bullet Journal is better/different than a standard planner.

Because truthfully, that's what a lot of the last post looked like- a DIY planner. And that is one aspect for it.

And maybe other people don't need as many random notes and stuff as I do, but...I do need them. So here are all the other things I keep track of in my Bullet Journal.

Now, theses things did take a little longer than the stuff in the last post. But these are things I will use for weeks/months/all year, and it's totally worth spending a 15-30 minutes to set up because it saves me so much time and stress later when I am paying bills or menu planning.

List of Approved Meals
I've mentioned before that I have finally gotten into a rhythm with meal planning. This page has helped a LOT. I get a lot of recipes from Pinterest, but got tired of having to search through pins for ideas. So I started this list of meals that we enjoy and broke it down into categories: Vegetarian, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Seafood, & Crockpot. We are trying to eat slightly healthier and this helps create variety in our monthly meals. This picture is right after I created it so there have been a lot more recipes added, but you get the general idea.


 Bill Tracker

This is sadly probably my favorite page in my journal. I got tired of having to track paper bills for account numbers, or having to try 4 different password and user name combinations when logging in to pay bills. So this lists the bills I have to pay each month (things that are autodrafted are not included) along with my usernames & password hints- all that info is under the "redacted" black spots (notice hints, not actual passwords...I lost my last journal, and although it was returned very quickly, I still don't recommend putting all that so openly, but clearly I'm a privacy weirdo). But, this page is PEFECT example of how something that took maybe 20 minutes to create is saving me literal hours over the course of a few months, and just makes me happy because look at that- only a person with her shit at least halfway together would do that. Go, me! In case you can't tell, the categories are "Amount, Paid On Date, & Confirmation Code" on the left and "Month" on the top bar.

Cleaning Schedule
I am not good at cleaning, y'all. It's just not my jam. So please don't judge this list too much...but it's a somewhat realistic expectation. We get off track really easily and certainly don't manage to complete everything every week; however this makes it so much easier to jump back on the cleaning bandwagon when we inevitably let the house go to shit for a few days due to holidays or sickness or whatever. I have added the quote "Clean enough to be healthy, messy enough to be happy" to the bottom left because that's basically my philosophy and helps me remember that cleaning is important but also...so are other things.


Date Night Ideas
Hubs & I are really trying to do better about supporting local businesses...which is why all these are blacked out, haha. But you get the general idea. It's a go to list so we can't say "Idk, what do you want to do?" on the rare occasions that we can actually have a date night. The arrows on the left indicate that we haven't been to a place before but want to, and the dollar signs obviously indicate price with more dollar signs indicating a more costly experience.


 Randomness
The Random Dates page is for quick things like the last time we changed the oil, got the dogs vaccinated, etc. The Random Notes page now has notes about Babycakes' pediatrician's walk-in hours, log in info for my health insurance and 401K stuff, and as you can see the numbers for my representatives in Congress. I haven't used all this as much as I should, but it's definitely come in handy.


 For Babycakes & Hubs
I am the worst at figuring out what to get both Babycakes & Hubby for birthdays or holidays. So these pages are super simple and just a place for me to list possible gifts for them. Also have one of these pages for ME, because a) sometimes people ask what I want for holidays/birthdays, and b) I'm terrible at remember what I actually wanted when I try to get something nice for myself.


To Be Read
Yes, I have my TBR on Goodreads. But I like having this in my bullet journal because it's just easier visually to "pick" my next read.  Also as you can see I include the location at my library, if my library has the book, or notes if I want to purchase the book/already own it.


Hurricane Prep
This is something I need basically every year since I live close to the coast of North Carolina. Got tired of having to search for the same info each year.

Blog Ideas & Blog Planning
You wouldn't know it, because I have not been blogging at all lately, but I actually have all these ideas on deck for blog posts. Much like the cleaning spread, it's nice to know that this is here waiting when I actually get the motivation for blogging. One day my ideas train & motivation will line...maybe.


Podcast Tracking
I originally made a Podcast Page so I could remember which day different podcasts came out and keep up with them. That's actually not been a big issue, because my phone tracks a lot of that. BUT, I like to binge podcasts the same way I would on Netflix. Unfortunately, my phone and computer don't link as well as my TV and phone re: Netflix. So I binge podcasts during the day then want to continue on my way home or while making dinner, etc. I originally just wrote down the names of the podcasts I wanted to try after I finished my current binge, but then I started counting down so I could easily keep my place when switching from my computer at work to my phone (btw I totally recommend both of these podcasts).


Post-It Page 
This post is in case I want to write down a few quick things to grab in the store so I don't have to take in my whole notebook, or if I want to leave a note for my husband. I typically have my bujo close by, so I quickly write a note and stick it somewhere he will see it (usually the TV or the microwave).


Foster Care Prep/Tax Info
Everything in this post so far I spent more time than normal making. But these next two are examples of quick, on the fly lists. The top pic is a list I made with To-Dos for turning our spare room into a kids room for foster care (hopefully we get licensed soon!) and the other was for tracking all the documents we needed to turn in to our accountant for tax purposes. These are both examples of stuff I was trying to remember and list in my head but NEEDED to be written down so I actually got it right. There is a note on the FCR page with the boxes that show when certain items have been posted to Craigslist/Yard Sale FB Pages and then when they have actually been sold.



One of the things I most appreciate about the bullet journal...culture? I guess, is that it has taught me how to view information organization differently and more broadly. 

I feel mentally more creative, not necessarily in an artful way but in my ability to use different systems for different information.

Okay. Whew. I think that is a pretty intense walk-through, but maybe it sparks some interest in the bullet journal world, which I personally think is awesome. It's been a great way to organize my thoughts and life, and just makes me feel a little bit more in control and confident overall.

Bullet Journal Walk-Through: Part 1



I've talked about bullet journaling here & there but decided to do an official walk-through of my 2018 bullet journal.

If you want to look into it, I suggest starting with BulletJournal.com. There are tons of groups and Pinterest pins...but some people make it very artistic and it can be overwhelming.

Basically it's an analog system...which means it uses symbols. So you make a list and use a symbol to denote it, like a bullet (•). Then you X it out when the task is complete. I bought the official Bullet Journal, although you can use any notebook, which came with the basic key although Pinterest will show you a TON of more complicated options. I really only use the Task/Completed/Migrated/Irrelevant options, but again there are a lot if you want/need them. But the beauty of BuJo is that you can ignore whatever doesn't work for you.



The system doesn't really include any new information but it's beautiful me in it's simplicity. What made it really stand out to me were 2 things specifically.

1) You can make your own "weekly spread," kind of like you would see in a traditional planner. You can also do "monthly spreads." BUT since you make them yourself and can use ANY NOTEBOOK, you can also include basic to-do lists or important information. Traditional planners never have enough blank or "notes" pages for me unless I customize them, which makes it both really expensive and really heavy to carry around. So I would end up with a planner but then also with random lists in a million different notebooks. This way I get everything in one notebook.

2) The crazy simple but mind-blowing idea of an index. Basically, number your pages (or buy a notebook with numbered pages). When you write a list or something important, you write down what page it is on at the beginning of the notebook. Dude, this is so stupid and simple but holy fuck it's changed my life. Not only do I have everything in one book, but I have a list of WHERE it is in the book instead of flipping through the book frantically because I know I wrote something down at some point but can't remember where.



Some people think that setting this up would be too much or time-consuming. And it did take a little bit of time to get my system down. But it really takes less than 10 minutes to do each week. There are few things I spent more time on, which I'll talk about later, but this post specifically goes over the standard things and they are all really simple.

Also...because I am huge nerd, and love pens and being at least a little creative and a little organized some stuff I made more elaborate because it was fun to me :)


Future Log
In the bullet journal world, this is called a Future Log...basically it's a yearly overview by month. You can place holidays and birthdays and doctor appointments and all that stuff that you need to remember a long time from now.

Monthly Layout


I started a new Bullet Journal for 2018, because I wanted to use a dotted one (I started in a basic lined journal). I created monthly layouts (just a basic calendar for each month) for the first 6 months of the year, because I'm not sure when I will run out of space in this notebook. Lots of people don't do this until the month actually starts, and just use the Future Log. But I think I like doing it this way. I messed up on the one in the picture, because I don't like how the middle column is splits both pages. But I've fixed that in the other ones and this one gives you a basic idea.


Weekly Spread

The next major thing is weekly spreads. This is basically the typical part of a standard planner, but you DIY. You can see I have my daily cleaning tasks on there. I also write down each night's meal on there, from my meal plan. Just makes it easier to know what all I have going on that day.


 Most people do weeklies as they come, like on a Sunday, and that's for a few different reasons. 1) There are lots of different ideas for how to set these up- some are better for very busy weeks, some are better for weeks that don't have much going on, and some people just like the ability to switch it up. 2) The point of doing a bullet journal v. a traditional planner (IMO, anyway) is the ability to use pages for WHATEVER YOU WANT. So if you set up a lot of weeklies at a time, that's taking space for other notes you may want to include in the notebook...so you do things as you need them for the most part. Again, for me at least, it's about having ONE NOTEBOOK for ALL THE THINGS rather than having a pre-printed planner and other random notes. So if you use a book for a month or a year, it's up to you. Everything is done chronologically. 

Personally when I make a weekly layout I go back to my monthly layout and transfer any info specific to the current week from there. Yes that means I write something twice, but it also means I'm more likely to remember it! Which is a win for me.

Wardrobe & Memory Tracker

I also do a monthly wardrobe tracker and monthly memories. Basically, I felt like I was wearing all the same outfits all the time so this will make sure I don't, ya know, wear the same pants every third day because I just recycle them out of the dryer. Also, I suck at traditional journaling or scrapbooking anymore so I like this quick little memory tracker. No, these things don't really go together...but they are things I want to keep up with and it's easier for me to fill them out when they are directly beside each other.


I basically repeat these layouts over and over (although I am trying out different weekly layouts atm to figure out exactly what I like the most). It doesn't bother me to repeat these because if I have a week when I'm not busy or not doing anything, I just don't have to make a layout for that week. Also, they are SO EASY I can literally do it at work in less than a minute.

These are the bare bones of my bullet journal. But, if this was all I needed then I could use a traditional planner. So stay tuned for the additional stuff I use my BuJo to keep up with, coming later this week!

Three Things: Blogger Annoyances






Here are three things that drive me absolutely CRAZY when visiting other blogs:

  1. Pop-up ads: It is 2018 people! WHY DO YOU STILL DO THIS?!?! Does anyone actually follow you on Pinterest or sign up for an email with that stupid pop-up?! Have a button, sure! But get rid of that freakin' pop-up for the love of all that is holy. 
  2. Not replying to comments: I definitely stop following blogs that do not return comments (unless it is like a huge blogger that gets thousands of comments). A FB friend has started blogging and she writes beautifully, but she only talks about her blog on Facebook and does not acknowledge anything that actually HAPPENS ON THE BLOG. Sorry, not wasting my time writing into the void.
  3. Linking with a link-up with a post that has NOTHING TO DO with the topic of the link-up. This is a lazy and selfish way to get more clicks, and it's bullshit. 

What are your top blogging annoyances?

Slack Blogger Lately

Hello everyone...in case you haven't noticed, I haven't been blogging that much lately.

The crazy thing is...I have a blog plan! I have ideas. Stuff that I'm actually kind of interested in talking about.

But I'm not doing it. Maybe I'm still not back on schedule from the holidays and crazy weather. Maybe I just don't have quite as much time with my new class (which is fine, but a complete and total shift from the way last semester's class was structured). 

I am not sure. And really I'm not sure why I'm writing this.  It feels like writing about the fact that I'm not writing is...stupid.

But I still exist. Life is going pretty well. Just lost my blogging mojo a bit.

Three Things: January 2018

Borrowing from Jana Says because...I have no blogging motivation lately. 

Three foods I hate and refuse to eat
  •  German dumplings (Kartoffelknödel)
  •  There are also some dumplings that a local Chinese restaurant makes that I don't like...basically not a big fan of dumplings. 
  • That's really it- my husband & I have made an effort to be more adventurous and less picky when eating. Most of my food issues are more related to stuff being the right temperature, haha. 
 
Three foods I love and eat more of than I should
  • Chips & Salsa
  •  Candy bars
  • Waffles
 
Three things chores I avoid until absolutely necessary
  • Cleaning the bathroom (sink, showers, mirror, all of it)
  • Dusting
  • Cleaning my car  

Three chores I always do
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Grocery shopping 


Three wardrobe staples
  • Skinny jeans
  • Leggings
  • Cardigans
Three things I don’t spend money on
  • Brand name foods in the grocery store (store brand all the way, even couponing it's usually cheaper)
  • Bras (I know it's supposed to matter, but who has the time to even go bra shopping-it's the WORST)
  •  Jewelry 
Three things I do spend money on
  • Stationary stuff
  • Purses/bags
  • Snack food or coffees (not "need it for basic human survival food" but fun food)

Three TV shows I frequently watch in reruns
  • Parks & Rec (although, currently bumming me out a little)
  • F*R*I*E*N*D*S
  • Gilmore Girls 

Three genres I generally don’t read
  • Anything set in a world war, which seems super popular but I can't for a variety of reasons.
  • Mystery/thriller, I used to be all about it in high school and think I just need a break.
  • Sci-if, I've tried but it's just not my thing. 

Three things I’m looking forward to this year
  • Spending time at the beach
  •  Visiting Biltmore
  • Becoming a foster family