• March 22, 2017

    Bullet Journal

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    I am willing to bet that you’ve already heard about bullet journaling – it seems to be all the craze right now.  I wanted to try it out before giving my assessment and thoughts on the idea, so I’ve been using my journal since the new year and am ready to share my experiences with you.

    First, though, for those of you who are not yet familiar with the system, here is a video from the original creator to help explain the idea/process:

    Ok, got it?  Pretty simple, right?  And fairly ingenious, really.

    First, my journal is a simple Moleskine, dotted, in the extra large (7.5×10) size.  My favorite thing about this journal is the dots.  While setting it up, I had considered a lined journal, but opted for the dots which afford wonderful guidance as I draw and create graphs and date boxes.  I think a lined journal could work, but you’ll have more obvious horizontal lines in your open spaces and you’ll struggle more getting the vertical lines at proper right angles.

    As I use it, I am finding that it’s a bit large to carry around and use away from home.  I like that I have room for my little drawing and such, but might give a smaller size a try next year.  I also am finding that this journal’s pages are quite thin and ink shows through so that  I can really only use one side of the page.  I have heard that the Leuchtturm brand has a bit thicker paper.

    Now, for the set up: I kept to the, sort of, standard way they recommend to start.  I have key, yearly calendar, and index pages:

    Key

    Index

    Year

    Pages to track goals, books, movies, and travel:

    Resolutions

    Books

    And then I start my months and calendars.  Each month starts with a page that includes a habit tracker, a month calendar, and space for goals that I have that month.  I also include a picture or quote here to liven the page  up a bit:

    Month

    After the initial month page, I have a page to write daily gratitudes.  These pages go along with the theme of the first page or with a holiday/feeling that I associate with the month (so, for February, it was hearts and for March, it was thistles and tea).

    Thankful

    Finally, after the gratitude page, I have each week for the month drawn out.  These pages include space for each day, a menu for the week, and a space for notes or a to-do list (this is where I use the transfer system with the >, <, X, etc symbols as suggested in the video and my Key page.

    Week

    Overall, I really like this system.  It has helped me to hold myself accountable and to remember things like sending birthday cards and scheduling appointments.  The set up time is a bit long and the book is less convenient than having an app in my phone, but I find the time setting it up and physically writing or drawing in the book is sort of meditative and does help my brain to slow down a bit.  I’ve also discovered that I am in love with washi tape and I really love experimenting with different hand lettering styles and art!

  • March 8, 2017

    Skin Care Routine

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    Many people start to see their skin look duller in their 30’s because cells do not regenerate as quickly as in your teens and 20’s.  Fine lines and dark circles, and sun spots also start to make an appearance during this time which makes your late 20’s and 30’s an essential time to start caring for your skin if, like me, you have just kind of ignored skin care in general so far in life.

    Now that I am getting older and 30 is only months away, I decided it was time to start doing some research and find out what I ought to be doing to take better care of the skin I’m in.  I learned that, in addition to my regular sunscreen and moisturizer, I will also want to add a gentle cleanser, vitamin C serum, and eye cream.

    Micellar-Water

    A gentle cleanser is super important to start with when caring for  your skin.  Remember how I said your cells won’t regenerate as quickly as they did when  you were  younger?  Well,  you don’t want to over exfoliate, but you still need to keep your skin clean and those cells moving!  Plain old soap and water is ok, but I chose Pacifica Coconut Micellar Water as my cleanser.  Micellar water works by specifically pulling dirt and oil away from your pores and skin without harsh chemicals (and doing a better job of it than soap), making it the perfect pick me up in the morning and a great way to remove light make up at the end of the day.  I chose Pacifica because it is gluten free, cruelty free, and is made in the US.  It also smells really nice and (I’ll admit I’m a sucker) the packaging is gorgeous.

    Vit-C-Serum

    Vitamin C Serum is my next essential product because it treats the onset of wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin.  Vitamin C is the only vitamin proven to actually work in anti-aging studies.  It works by producing collagen in the skin which helps tighten and firm it.  I chose Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C BB Serum because it is gluten free and cruelty free.  It also works as a serum and moisturizer, which I really like.  I apply this daily as part of my night routine.

    Eye-Cream

    The next product I’ve started using is an eye cream by bareMinerals.  Much like the vitamin C serum, eye creams are meant to reduce fine lines and plump the area around your eyes to look healthier and younger.  Eye creams also help fight dark undereye circles and tiredness in your face caused by stress and exposure to the environment.  I chose bareMinerals Brilliant Future Age Defense & Renew Eye Cream because it is generally considered gluten free and is cruelty free.  I’m also pretty sure it’s made in the US.  I use this daily as part of my night routine.

    Mask

    The next two products are less essential and more fun in my mind.  First, I got the Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful Mask.  I use this once a week to help keep my skin hydrated, which it really needed during the cold winter months.  The nice thing about this mask is that you don’t have to wash it off, so it really holds the moisture in!  It’s gluten free, cruelty free, and made in the US.

    Hair-Mask

    Next is the Moroccan Oil Hydrating Mask for hair.  I use this once a week as well to keep my hair hydrated and looking good.  It is super easy to use – I just shampoo like normal, rise and squeeze as much water out of my hair as possible.  Then, massage in some of the mask and go about the rest of my shower time stuff, rinsing the mask out after 5-10 minutes.  Easy-peasy, and it smells amazing!  It is gluten free and cruelty free.

    Since starting my skin (and hair) care routine about a month ago, I feel that my skin is looking brighter, cleaner, and healthier.  It is showing fewer fine lines around my eyes and I think the dark circles are going away too.  I’ve been really happy with my choices and am starting to see why so many people are willing to throw down serious cash for these kinds of products.  I’m glad to have started caring for my skin and hair at this time in my life – it is starting to give me more confidence, not only because my skin looks good, but also because I am taking time on a daily basis to do something small but good for myself.  Having this skin care routine is almost meditative and forces me to slow down a bit and really be nice to me – no wonder it’s working!  *grin*

  • March 1, 2017

    GM Appreciation Party

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    March 4th is GM appreciation day!  If you don’t know what a GM is, you probably won’t care too terribly much about this post (sorry).  For those who do, please let me encourage you to celebrate your GM and the hard work they put into making your game nights entertaining, difficult (but not too difficult), and fun!  I’ve never been a GM myself, but I am married to mine and can tell you first hand that they pour their heart and soul into creating great games.  My husband spends a lot of time thinking about the game, writing stories, and planning encounters for the game.  He sleeps with his rule books next to the bed and has notebooks and more computer files dedicated to the game than I will probably ever know.  When he’s not planning games, he is watching other people run games on YouTube to gather ideas and improve his style.  On game weekends, we spend the whole day cleaning, prepping for the game (music, game board, etc), and generally feeling anxious about how things will go that evening.  All of this takes a lot of time and energy and I really don’t think the players in our group (or in many similar groups, from what I’ve been reading online) have even the slightest inkling how much he’s invested in the story.  So, I threw him a little GM appreciation party at our last game night (there’s no way I could pull it together for the actual day since we already had a game night scheduled for the weekend before and people are too busy to get together two weekends in a row).

    Decorations

    First, I decorated using fun party stuff I had already.  I also used templates from minieco to make paper dice that hung down all over the room.

    Close-Up

    Then, I planned the menu.  I made a tavern stew (I added 2 more cups of beef broth and lots more spices), chocolate truffles (I found inspiration here and here), and the other players provided hard cider and some of hubsters favorite snacky foods.  The decorations and food were a big hit and a lot of fun, too!

    Mini

    It was a great night and I really enjoyed putting everything together for my hubby and GM.  He works so hard, he deserves to have something nice to appreciate everything he does!

  • February 22, 2017

    February Round Up

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    I hate to say it, but this month really sucked, ya’ll.  Work has been incredibly stressful and after being out sick for a week, it became that much more stressful.  Right.  Plus, I was sick forever which is never fun.  Because of it, I had to miss out on plans with friends, a couples massage with my hubby for Valentines, book club, and I was still sick on his birthday too so he ended up having to cook for himself and was still sleeping in the guest room in hopes of self preservation.

    *sigh*

    I am trying to find the light, though, and focus on what good there has been this month.  Because of my illness, I was able to read a lot.  My books this month were Spook by Mary Roach, Bonk by Mary Roach, and I’ve started the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  Clearly, I really enjoy Mary Roach’s snarky, scientific writing.  She’s provocative, honest and real which I found so refreshing that I just kept looking for her books.  She does have a couple I still haven’t read, but by the end of the month I was ready for a change.  Outlander is spectacular.  I’ve seen the television show already and thoroughly enjoyed it – so far the book and show line up quite well with each other, but, of course, the book is better.  I am loving the insight and thoughtfulness that the book is able to provide, something television and film rarely really get right.

    I also spent a lot of time listening to music.  Not just any music, though, Broadway music.  Specifically, the soundtrack to Hamilton.  Clever, fun, informative, and relatable are not words I ever thought I’d attribute to anything about early American history… but Hamilton does it!  Someday, I will see the show.  Probably a mediocre band of performers from a local theater group, but I will see it.  And I will know every song by heart when I do.  Probably because it’s the only thing I’ve listened to all month.

    Before getting sick, hubster and I did make it to the movies to see Hidden Figures.  I loved everything about this movie – the characters, the set and costumes, the story, the significance of a story like this in times like this…  So. Good.  If you haven’t see this yet, go now!  Take your daughters, your sisters, your mom… any woman you can find (men, I suppose, should also see it.  It’s just so, so important for women to see right now).

    I have also discovered a new snack food that I am super obsessed with.  Harvest Snaps are surprisingly amazing.  I picked up a couple bags on a whim when I was grocery shopping and fell in love.  Or, in obsession.  They have the consistency of a Cheeto, but don’t have all the nasty artificial crap on them.  My favorite flavors are the tomato basil lentil beans and the lightly salted snap peas.  Mmm…. so yummy.  And if you try really hard, you can convince yourself they are healthy.   *grin*

    Finally, now that I am feeling better, hubster and I are working on making up for missing his birthday and Valentine’s Day!  We’ll be making fondue and eating cake all weekend long! It’s not quite the same, but at least there is cake!

    And there you have it!  February was hard but not wholly unpleasant.  Just remember to look for the good things even when you’re not feeling the good things.  <3

  • February 15, 2017

    UGH

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    Well, it’s that time of year, I guess.  I’ve been sick with a really bad cold for a week now and I’ve gotta say… I’m so tired of this!  I am one of those people who resist illness pretty well, but once I do get sick, I get really sick.  So, yeah.  That’s where I’m at right now.

    I am fortunate, though, that the job I have offers paid sick time and I was able to stay home and let my body heal for a few days without sacrificing my paycheck and ability to cover costs at home.  I know not everyone has this option, so I’m trying to look on the bright side.

    Anyway, I hope to be back in full force next week – wish me luck!

  • February 8, 2017

    Manly Valentine’s Ideas

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    I don’t know how your man feels about Valentine’s Day, but mine hates it.  It’s not that he doesn’t love me or want to show it, but the idea of being made to spend a ton of money or make some grand gesture just for the sake of a holiday makes him crazy.  He’s not really a sappy kind of guy… very sweet, but not sappy.  This is a little unfortunate because I like the idea of a day dedicated to thinking about love and the person you love.  So, to help you ladies who know what I’m talking about, I’ve come up with my top 5 ideas for a Valentines Day that is romantic, and manly, enough to please everyone.  *grin*

    1. Steak Dinner

    Food is the way to every man’s heart and what could be more manly than a steak dinner?  Of course, if he’s a vegetation or doesn’t enjoy steak, you should probably think about substituting this with whatever his favorite food is.  Whatever you choose, you can make a special meal yourself (or, even better, together!) or you can reserve (in advance!) a seat at a favorite restaurant.

    2. Gift basket with his favorite beer/cider and snacks

    Remember how food is the way to a man’s heart?  Well, I’m pretty sure snacks and booze are a close second to an all out meal for most guys.  Ideas for things to include: a bottle or two of beer or cider, a growler with a coupon for a fill, and snacks (jerky, cookies, mixed nuts, dark chocolate, etc.).

    3. Massage

    Pretty much everyone I know enjoys a good massage – whether you send him to a professional (or go together with him as a date) or give him a more intimate experience yourself, he’ll enjoy being nice and relaxed!

    4. Something from his favorite movie/show/book/comic

    If you’re looking for something a little more tangible – something you can actually wrap up and give to him – you might look to his fandoms.  Search for artwork, Pop Figures, or t-shirts/hoodies that reflect his favorite characters.  Etsy is a great place to find this kind of gift.

    5. Something to support his hobby

    Look to what he spends his time on.  Things like art supplies, games or game accessories (eg: headphones, miniature figures, manuals, dice, etc.), gym stuff/sports gear, and fishing/hunting supplies will be a big hit.

    The most important thing about Valentine’s Day is to pay attention to your fella and do something nice that reflects his interests.  I don’t know any men who love red and pink hearts or fancy, overpriced flowers… so rather than getting wrapped up in the commercial side of the holiday, get wrapped up in things that will show you’re genuinely supportive of him and his stuff.  And if he’s any kind of decent guy, he’ll happily do the same for you!

    <3

  • January 25, 2017

    January Round Up

    OOoooh man.  This month isn’t over yet?  Really?  Still going for about one more week, eh?

    I’m pretty darn over it.

    First of all: the snow.  Good gracious God in heaven, the snow.  This January we’ve broken records with the snow.  Now, I am a mountain girl and totally ok with snow and all that…. But this city of mine ain’t really ready to deal with what Mother Nature is layin’ down!  I actually shoveled the street in front of my house a couple weeks ago.  Yes, you read that right, I shoveled the street.  Frankly, there were no other options besides staying home for all of January.  So. Yeah.

    You’d think with all that snow, I would have had lots of time to read lots of books.  Joke’s on you though, because I was shoveling all that snow in my street instead of reading.  For January, I was only able to just keep up with my book club requirements with A Day of Honey by Annia Ciazadlo and Gulp by Mary Roach.  I enjoyed A Day of Honey, but I really loved Gulp.  She is super provocative and sarcastic – it actually made me think about Jenny Lawson’s books a lot.  Can’t wait to see what the other ladies at book club think about it!

    There were a couple of new (well, new and new to me) shows I have been enjoying.  The first was A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix.  Can I just say that Neil Patrick Harris is a genius?  And that I love him?  It. Is. So. Good.  The second show I’ve been obsessing over is Jane the Virgin, which I never thought I’d say.  Actually, I never thought I’d watch it, let alone love it.  For those skeptics like I once was… just give it a try.  It’s way too complicated to really explain here, but it’s basically an Americanized telenovela with all the drama you’d expect, but also with lots of great humor to balance it out.  Please, just go watch a few episodes, ok?  Ok.

    This month we are also starting up a new D&D campaign, so I’ve been doing some character building.  I’ll be playing a gnome wizard named Moonie Mugglewump and I’m really excited about her!  Think, Luna from Harry Potter mixed with Kvothe from the Kingkiller Chronicles and a bit of Judy Hopps from Zootopia.  Fun, right?  First game is this weekend, so we’ll see how I get back in the swing of it all!

    Aaaand the last thing I have to share with you for January is that I’ve started a Bullet Journal.  I’ll do another more detailed post sometime about bullet journaling, but suffice it to say that I like the layout options and tracking method a lot so far.  I have been enjoying the creative aspects and also use it to help with mindfulness.  I am not a great artist, but there is hope, I think, for me yet!

    So, there you have it.  This was my… interesting… January (sans political issues/concerns/ fears/hopes/whatever because this should be a happy place for me and for anyone out there who is reading).  Here’s hoping that February will have better surprises in store!

  • January 18, 2017

    Hope

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    Hope.  This year – 2017 – I decided that I would focus on hope and make it a priority to stay positive in all the varied aspects of my life.  Since then, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about this post and trying to figure out how to convey all of the things I want to you.  I’ve wracked my brain and started this a hundred times in my head.  But, if I’m being completely honest, I have also been fervently avoiding this post.

    You know how when you ask for courage, life tends to give you all kinds of terrible challenging things to be courageous about?  Or you ask for patience and life presents you with trials that make you feel… not so patient?  That’s kind of how I am feeling right now about hope.  Sometimes I just don’t feel very hopeful.  Sometimes I think it would be better to pull the covers over my eyes and pretend the world doesn’t exist from the comfort of my bed.

    Perhaps that is just it, though.  Perhaps hope (and love and gratitude) is not meant to be a feeling so much as it a choice.  Perhaps hope means dragging yourself out of bed when you’d rather stay hidden.

    In 2011, Michelle Obama addressed a group of young women leaders in South Africa and said “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”  She goes on to say that when people start asking questions and begin having these conversations… these are acts of hope and the ripples grow exponentially outward from there.

    So, I guess what I am saying is that if the world is overwhelming, and you know you can’t solve all of the problems you dearly wish you could; If there seems to be no good or joyful thing to keep you going; If you’re struggling – choose hope.  Choose to crawl out from the protective covers of bed and begin again.  Find a thing that you care about,or a thing that gives you peace and let that be the first stone dropped into the water and watch how the ripples spread.  Your question or thought or passion may ripple so far that you become a source of hope for someone else who needs it.

    In the coming months, I implore you to find your hope and spread it around like wildfire.

  • January 11, 2017

    Books of 2016

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    If you’ve been reading the Bliggity Blog for awhile, you will know that a couple of years ago I challenged myself to read a book with a title from every letter of the alphabet.  Well, 2016 is the year I finally finished the challenge!  The last few letters were:

    E – Every Last Tie by David Kaczynski

    N – Name of the Wind (Kingkiller #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

    R – Reading Lolitta in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

    T – Ten Days in a Mad House by Nellie Bly

    V – Valentine Grey by Sandi Toksvig

    X – X-it by Jane George

    Once the challenge was complete, I kinda went to town with all the books I’ve been hanging on to as well as a bunch of books for book club!  I’ve really enjoyed having a group to read and discuss books with – it’s been really wonderful and I’m tempted to join another (goodness… would I have time?  Maybe a YA lit group?).  Anyway, in the past, I’ve always given a synopsis or review of the books I read, but this year there are just too many.  I enjoyed most of these books, though, and would recommend them all to the right reader!  :)

    Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

    You’re Never Weird on the Internet  (Almost) by Felicia Day

    An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Alder

    Push by Sapphire

    Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

    The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller #2) by Patrick Rothfuss

    As Always, Julia edited by Joan Reardon

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

    The Rat Queens

    Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya van Bremzen

    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

    Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

    Stir by Jessica Fechtor

    I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

    Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

    Buffering by Hannah Hart

    Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

    Currently, I am reading A Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo for book club and it’s been really good.  I’ll continue to keep record and share with you how things are going and what I’m new things I’m finding!  Right  now, I am on track for my goal of reading 30 books in the year before I turn 30!  :)

  • January 4, 2017

    Resolutions

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    Well, friends, we survived the dumpster fire year of 2016!  Pat yourself on the back and wave a banner – you did it!  No matter how bad things got, you stuck it out with me and came out on the other side battered and bruised, but alive.  Good job!  Depending on where you and and what your life philosophies may be, 2017 is either looking really good or really scary for you – but you know what?  We’re gonna survive it (and hopefully thrive in it…) just like we did in 2016.

    Every new year, my husband chooses an overall theme for the year.  I’ve never really done that before, but I think this year deserves a theme: Hope.

    If you’ve been reading my blog in recent months, you will know I went to Hawaii with a dear friend back in October and I learned a lot of things about worldviews and lifestyles.  I learned a lot about the idea of Aloha and it struck me as something very hopeful.  Since then, I’ve been sort of working towards a lot of my resolutions in wishy-washy, nebulous ways, but I want to really make them a priority this year.  I want to make real, concrete change in my mind and my life:

    Be more present
    - Bullet Journal
    - Meditation
    - Less phone/tv time

    Be more grateful
    - 1x per month, do something nice to thank the awesome people in my life
    - Weekly gratitude journal – bullet journal section
    Be less “busy” and more productive
    - Less distractions – tv, Facebook, etc.
    - Set real goals and try to meet them

    Be more open to people and opportunity
    - Check in with friends and family
    - Think outside the box more – try new things

    Be healthy
    - Less sugar
    - More water
    - More exercise

    To me, these things really represent hope.  Being real and grateful, opening myself to the universe and what’s in it, and moving forward with positivity in my heart, mind, and soul.  This will NOT be easy.  It’s not necessarily all things that can be measured, but it’s things that I  know can make a real difference between dumpster fire despair and hope.  Find hope, ya’ll and cling to it for dear life because life is dear.  And YOU are dear.  Take care of yourself this year.  <3