Thursday, December 31, 2015

The goals of 2015

Remember when I was all '2015 is gonna be the best year ever!' and proceeded to tell you why? Then in July I was all like, I mean it's pretty awesome but I haven't done much towards the list?

Well now I want to be all like.. let's check in and see how 2015 went.

Ever since I was 20, each year has been better than the last. 2015 was no different. It was a great year. But as for the goals / facts I predicted at the beginning of the year...

I am going to complete a half marathon in under 2 hours.

Nope. But I'm not mad about it.

I am going to buy all of my Christmas presents using Swagbucks (aka no out of pocket expense) and will have all purchases done by the end of November.

I mentioned in July that I didn't care about the Swagbucks part of this goal anymore, but I did get all of my Christmas shopping done by the end of October. I actually stopped using Swagbucks exclusively, and made almost $500 this year from ebates. So I would say it evens out.

I am going to Europe.

I sure did, and it was awesome (Paris, Rome and Dublin). This was a bit of a cheater goal because it was already booked (I think?) but still. It was a lifelong dream, so it works.

I am going to cross so much off my 30 before 30 list.

Not really. I think I crossed a couple off, but again, I'm not really mad about it because letting go of goals that no longer fit your life is not a bad thing. Plus, I have one more year.

I am going to DC with some awesome girls.

Yep. Woohoo. It was awesome.

I am going to 'give' something each month. My time, money or donating to goodwill. Something every month.

I didn't really shout it from the rooftops, but I made sure that every month I did something big or small to help someone besides myself. I can be a very selfish person so this was a great goal.

I am going to be thankful this year. Every month, not just November.
I did a thankful post each month and it was so fabulous to remind myself constantly that I have so much to be thankful for! I think I might even continue to do it.

I am going to live more in the moment - stop planning and focusing on the future so much.

Like I said in July, I don't know why I wrote this one. I like planning and dreaming of the future. But really, I have been trying to focus on the here and now at least 50% of the time, and letting myself dream / plan for a million different futures the other 50% of the time. Considering it used to be like dreaming 90% of the time, I'm doing well.

I am going to read 150 books.

I did achieve this goal, but I won't be doing it again. I didn't like how I was constantly checking my progress and not reading certain books because their length would slow me down or whatever.

I am going to love every item in my closet and get rid of all the things I don't wear.

Yep. I did. It was really hard, but by the end of the year I finally got rid of all the things I was keeping for a sentimental reason or that I couldn't sell on eBay. I now 100% love everything in my closet, and while I wouldn't mind some more things (because I'm still a shopaholic at heart), I'm good for right now.

I am going to make sure every single thing in my house is either beautiful or useful. 

Towards the end of the year, when I got rid of all the clothes in the spare room that I was hoarding holding on to for sentimental reasons or having no luck selling them, I cleaned out that entire closet and the other spare room. We are not minimalists and never will be, but I feel comfortable with our level of crap right now.

I am going to become a badass chef wannabe and person who sews things.

I really did not work on this until the end of the year, oops. I am definitely still a wannabe in the kitchen, but I am getting better. I also sewed a few things, nothing amazing, but hey. We're getting there.

I am going to spend time with real friends, not wasting time on the people who let me down in 2013. I'm not mad about it, I'm just over fake friendships.

I mentioned in July that I totally gave up on all the fake friends and I haven't looked back. It is such a good feeling. 

I am going to take care of myself. I am going to be the healthiest and fittest person I can be not because I want to lose weight but because healthy is where it's at.

This will never be something I can cross off completely and not worry about. It's something I have to work towards every day. I have to make good decisions and put the chips down. I have to exercise and not worry about the scale. 

I am going to love myself. I am going to be positive and nice, I am not going to say negative or mean things that I wouldn't dare say to a stranger, so why say them to myself?

This goes hand in hand with the above. Although, to be perfectly honest, for the first time ever, my mind is in a good spot and I don't constantly hate myself or think awful thoughts when I look in the mirror. And that is way more important than the scale.

and with that... 2015 is over, and so are all those goals. I think I will make less goals in 2016!

Hope everyone has a fabulous New Years, however you are celebrating!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The best (and worst) books of 2015

I was so excited when Steph and Jana announced they were doing a bonus show us your books because I always like posting about books at the same time as everyone else, makes me feel less like 10 year old Kristen who would sit in the library at lunch because she didn't have any friends.. ahem. Anyway! Two posts today because I wouldn't miss either link up.

Life According to Steph

About halfway through the year, I did a top 10 books of 2015 so far, and while they are all still good books, and I would absolutely recommend all of them, only a couple are repeated on today's list. Picking the 'best' or 'worst' books, even when it's only your opinion, is so hard because what constitutes best? Some of these books blew me away with how well they were written, others gave me all the feels but could have been written by a ten year old, others randomly pop into my head several months later, others might have had me professing my love immediately after but I forgot about them 2 weeks later, others I would recommend but wouldn't read again.. it's hard, y'all. But I tried.

The best books this year

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay - I loved this book so much and I couldn't even really tell you why. 
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan - besides the fact that I am unnaturally obsessed with all things Royal, I just loved this book. It was like 'squeeee' inducing.
The Martian by Andy Weir - I've talked about this book so much I should really just shut up about it. But I loved it, especially because I didn't expect to, and don't you love when that happens?
Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot by Liana Moriarty - I loved Big Little Lies, it was so interesting and captivating, I stayed up to finish it. What Alice Forgot was so different but just as captivating and I loved it so much, Plus, Australia.
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - This is one of those books that I don't 100% remember after reading it several months ago, except I remember the feelings I had whilst reading it, and they were such good feelings.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - this series sucked me in, loved it. Hate that it isn't finished.
Easy by Tammara Webber - This book had so many great reviews that I was a little hesitant to start it, but it blew all my expectations out of the water. Loved it.
Winter by Marissa Meyer - It's very rare that a series ends as well as this one did. I will read anything Meyer writes.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - so many emotions.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - this book was fabulous and I loved it. But holy mackerel, it was long.
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall - this book was not very good, I'll be honest, but it was adorable I just loved it, and that's all you can really ask for in a book.

Runner up reads

Still Alice - Lisa Genova - this book was just straight up heartbreaking.
Dumplin by Julie Murphy - I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult - I haven't read a lot of Picoult's books but dang, she can write a good one.
Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson - love a good regency romance.
One Plus One by JoJo Moyes - Moyes can do no wrong in my eyes. This wasn't what I was expecting, which made me love it even more.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - this book was weird.. it was good, really good, but in some parts it was boring. Overall it was quite heartbreaking, but beautiful.

Disappointing reads 
(they weren't bad, they were just disappointing for some reason or another)

We Were Liars by E Lockhart
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Lizzy & Jane and The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay.

Wish I hadn't read these

Station Eleven, The Sisters of Versailles and Spelled.

Feel free to disagree or share yours!

Bye 2015, hello lots of races in 2016 (hopefully)

I know everyone and their dog is saying this, but: December? End of 2015?! Where did the year go? Where is my life going?! Okay, calm down.


This is the last Training for Tuesday for 2015! I love this link up because it helps me stay accountable, and aware of my current fitness routines / situation. Meaning, if I know I have to write about it, I might actually work out.

I've been working on baby step goals for the last couple of months, so I have been trying to focus on just one 'big' thing rather than making and not achieving 10 little goals.

Last month, I mentioned that I really wanted to:

Get my portion sizes under control
I didn't really do anything towards this, turns out the holidays weren't the best time to attempt something like this. Oh well.

Eat more fruits and vegetables
The only way I'm going to get all my fruits & veggies every day is by having a smoothie for breakfast (banana, strawberries, blueberries & spinach). It takes 2 seconds to make if I prep the night before. I think I had one for breakfast most mornings, if not, I had my oatmeal and blueberries. I didn't have a strong veggie game though, unless you count beans.

Work out 3-4 times a week
Super pass! At the end of November, KC and I had a super long talk about how unhappy I was at my gym.. seems silly, but it was so limited and it made me not want to workout. I used to love body pump in Australia, but only one place offers it here, and a couple other places offer copy cat classes, but all of them were too expensive or far away. I only paid $10 a month at planet fitness, but if I wasn't going, it was $10 too much. KC goes to the gym and the pool, and the YMCA (or do I just call it the Y?) has a pool, classes, weights, cardio etc etc. I joined after Thanksgiving and he will join next year when his gym & pool memberships run out. We haven't been a member of the same gym in a couple years, so it will be nice to workout together again, even if it's just weekends.

Since I joined, I have been going to 2-3 body pump classes a week, plus running or cross training (yoga, barre, elliptical) 3 times a week. I hurt my knee around the middle of the month and had to back off a bit, but I still stayed strong.

It's amazing what a difference it makes when you actually like what you are doing. I know everyone says that, but I was always like 'well I like running, I like yoga, I like strength training'. Trouble was, I didn't like where or how I was doing it. Also, the membership is quite a bit more expensive than planet fitness, so it helps me get out of bed in the morning. Plus, it's closer to work whereas planet fitness was close to my house, which meant I still had morning traffic to deal with after my workout. This way, I beat traffic and am 5 minutes away from work.

Now the real test will be sticking to it in the new year when the gym is packed and there is no room to move. We'll see!

I'm not going to set monthly goals for January, but I did want to talk about the races I would like to do in 2016. I am only registered for one right now, and races can really add up so I doubt I will do all of them, but it would be nice!

Anthem 5k - 27th February

Rodes City 10k - 12th March

Papa John's 10 miler - 26th March

The Glo Run - sometime in June

The Color Run - also sometime in June

YMCA Turkey Trot - Thanksgiving

Also, thinking of another race in November, we'll see...

Of course, I'd do a race almost every weekend if I could afford it, but Louisville doesn't offer a whole lot and when you start travelling for races it adds up even more, so I like to keep the travel to a minimum if possible, and really make it worth it when I go (I wouldn't travel for a 5k). So yeah. That's how my 2016 looks, but I'd love to travel for at least one race....

Enjoy the rest of 2015 everyone! Got any lofty goals for 2016?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Oh Winter, how I loathe thee

Apparently yesterday was the first day of Winter. We all know how I feel about seasons starting randomly in the middle of the month (not random at all, actually, but moving on) so I won't go on about that today, but rather I thought I'd be an annoying debbie downer a different way, and talk about how much I hate Winter, and why.

Things I hate about Winter:

It's cold.

There is ice on my windshield and it makes it hard to see.

I have to scrape said ice, and that adds time to my morning routine, I'm not a fan of that.

I get ice / snow all over me when I scrape, which of course makes me colder.

You can't use your wipers on the ice, apparently.

You also shouldn't put water in your wiper thingy because apparently it can freeze (who knew? NOT the Australian).

My feet are always cold.

Snow is wet.

The idiot who parks on the road, thus making the snow plow man miss our driveway. Super not fun, rude parking on the street guy.

Everywhere cranking the heat. I'm sweating before I can get my damn coat off.

Getting out of the hot bath or shower. No fun.

I get super complainy. Seriously, I'm so annoying.

The sun deceives me. It's sunshiney and bright because of the snow, but still bloody cold. Rude.

Thermostat wars.

Driving. I do not drive well in the snow, I'm sure I piss people off, but the cocky arrogant bastards who've been driving in the snow since they were like 5 and are sitting up my ass because wah I'm going slow so I don't die - guess what, you're not making it any easier.

Being in the passenger seat. KC is one of those cocky arrogant bastards. Okay, not really, but he's 1000% more comfortable behind the wheel than I am, and I cry just as much in the passenger seat. I just want to stay home please.

KC gets snow days. That's annoying. But he drives me, so that's cool.

Hot tea or hot chocolate makes everything fabulous for like 5 minutes, but then it's empty and I have to make another, but I don't want to get up because cold.

Dirty snow. It's pretty for like 5 minutes.

Permanently wrapping myself in a blanket makes going to the bathroom or leaving the house inconvenient.

Did I mention it's cold. Never mind that December has been unseasonably warm so far, I bet we will be paying for it in like April when Spring doesn't show up.

Things I like about Winter:

I can keep a chapstick in my car and it doesn't melt.

We don't have to mow the grass.

Kentucky isn't as bad as other places, thank Zeus. It could be worse, y'all.

Linking up with Kathy and Nadine.

More Coffee Less Talky

What's your favourite thing about Winter?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Universal Studios Orlando Recap

If you would like to see all my travel posts, including recaps, tips & recommendations and packing guides, please visit my travel page.

After Disney World, we visited Universal for a couple of days. KC and I are both Harry Potter fans, and I thought KC would enjoy this part of the trip more (less princesses, more thrill rides). I was definitely right, though I was a bit surprised that I had a great time as well. I expected to like it, but not as much as I did - we both had a blast.

Universal Studios Orlando

When I was planning this portion of the trip, I was really conflicted on whether we should go for one or two days. I didn't want to miss out on anything, so we chose two days. We really only 'needed' one, but I am glad we had two because the second day was much more relaxed.

Fair warning, I totally kept getting the two parks mixed up. We arrived early morning and got into one of the parks before it opened, heading straight to the Harry Potter areas. We rode tons of rides, drank tons of frozen butterbeer, had tons of fun. We spotted Woody (several times) and easily covered both parks in one day, even with the early closing time (7pm). The Harry Potter areas are amazing with their attention to detail, and it was so fun to see all the things that we loved from the books and movies.

I will say, KC and I are not fans of those simulator rides, but the ones we rode at Universal were pretty fun - in my opinion, way better than the ones at Disney. There was only one ride that was really not great, and that was (sadly) the Men In Black ride.

We went out to dinner with Kate who so generously picked us up and dropped us off, and naturally she was tons of fun and we had a great time. Thanks again Kate!

The next day we were in early again, and we rode some of the rides we had enjoyed the previous day, and then basically wandered around. We spent a lot of time in the Harry Potter areas before they got jam packed, and when they started to get too insane, we decided to ride all the water rides. I love a good water ride, not gonna lie. We got absolutely soaked and then it started to absolutely bucket down and we were the only idiots walking through it - hey, already wet, right? Overall, we had such a good time at Universal, KC definitely preferred it to Disney, and we would absolutely go back. The rides are more fun (for us) and it was way less crowded and insane.

Anyway. Pictures! I ended up splitting them up into Harry Potter stuff and not Harry Potter stuff, so they're not quite in order. I know, super exciting stuff and clearly that needed to be explained. Also, it should be noted that we only have 2 (count them, two) photos of the two of us from Universal. They aren't the best, but whatever. Sometimes those are my favourites.

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Where we stayed

Loews Royal Pacific Resort - this was the cheapest option for the 'on property' hotels. The price was a bit steep, but it comes with a few benefits, namley the early access and the fast pass (or whatever it is called) that you get - it works for everything but 2 of the Harry Potter rides and the Hogwarts Express. Honestly though, it was so amazing to be so close (10 minute walk) to the park, rather than catching buses everywhere like at Disney. So it was worth it.


I didn't really track or take note of where we ate and things like that like I did for Disney. I will say we got one of their soda thingys and shared it, because we are crazy soda drinkers (giving it up soon, promise) and it was well worth it. Other than that, we ate normal theme park type food and it was fine.

Random notes:

Universal are hardcore about their 'don't bring crap on the rides' rules, and you'll need to put your stuff in a locker. 90% of the time it's free for a certain amount of time, although near the water rides they know they can get you and it's like $4 for an hour and a half.

It's easiest to carry your ticket / fast pass thingy by wearing a lanyard, which is why you see us wearing them the whole time. Just make sure you tuck it into your shirt before you go on a rollercoaster, it will fly off. You can put them in your pocket of course, but you have to take them out every time you go on a ride (the fast pass thing, not the normal ticket).

The little Blues Brothers show was so much fun! They come out and play a couple of songs, it was great to relax for a bit and sing along (loudly).

We loved The Mummy ride. Super fun. We rode the hardcore rollercoaster - rip it something? - twice in a row, and we both blacked out the second time and decided that was enough rollercoasters for the day. The Harry Potter rides are fun, though I thought the Gringotts one was a bit boring. The dueling dragons was so fun we rode it like 6 times. We like rollercoasters!

So that was our trip! Not kidding, I am still exhausted and it was a month ago. I feel like I need to sleep for a month.

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a good weekend - we, along with millions of others, saw the new Star Wars movie. Did you?