Living my *best life* with 2018 resolutions

January 1st always comes with a clean slate and the feeling to be your best self and live your best life in the new year.  I don’t usually do resolutions, but I started a fitness *lifestyle* last year and I really want to keep on keeping on with that.  It makes me feel so good to know I’m burning calories, getting faster and building muscles!

Anyway,  I have a few resolutions and goals for 2018 and I’m so excited to share them with you!


Fitness/Health Resolutions

Attend Orangetheory a minimum of three times per week.  This is partially because I want to not just maintain, but keep increasing my fitness level, but it’s also because I want to make sure I’m getting enough bang for my buck out of my bougie gym membership!

Compete in one race or competition per month.  I already completed an indoor triathlon last weekend with my high school girlfriends, so I’m happy to already be done my January competition!  I’ve already signed up for a taco and margarita 5K in May and I’ve organized a list of all my tentative upcoming races, deadlines and prices.  I’m looking to do a few 5Ks, possibly another triathlon (outdoors this time, sprint) and maybe Bike to the Bay in the fall.  I love a good theme, so that’s definitely a way to get me signed up!

Consume alcohol 2 days or less per week.  I feel better when I don’t drink.  I look better when I don’t drink.  It’s somewhat a waste of calories and if I’m working hard in the gym I should be working hard at home too!

Had a great time last weekend at race #1 of 12 in 2018!
Finance Resolutions

Add $5,541 to my emergency fund.  Since I pulled some money from my emergency fund in December to get my pesky student loans completely paid off, the current balance makes me feel very nervous.  I’d like to focus on growing this fund back up to a level where I’m more comfortable.  (I’ve already put some Christmas gift money and my rent money from this month in, so I’m well on my way!)

Have 15+ no spend days per month.  We’re 10 days in to 2018 and I have 8 no spend days so far!  I really feel like I’m killing it in this category.  When I looked back at my spending in 2017 I wasn’t happy with how much was spent in the “Miscellaneous” category, so I’ve broken out a few more categories in my budget (including a health & wellness category for my OTF membership and race registrations).  I definitely have an issue with impulse shopping and I want to find a way to curb that.  Losing a no spend day might give me some motivation.  We’ll see.

Max out Roth IRA.  I have done this every year starting in 2013, so 2018 will be no different.

Max out HSA.  My company has contributed $500 annually to my HSA but that won’t happen starting this year, so I definitely want to make up the difference.  Even with the match, I was only adding about $2,500 per year, and I’d really like to start maxing out at the full $3,450.  This will mean my contribution per pay goes from $80 to about $133.  Tough to swallow, for sure, but without my student loan payment, I should be able to make this work.  (And it’s pre-tax!)  This will start in April when my benefits plan year switches.

Maintain 401k contributions at 8%.  Last year I moved from 6% (gotta get that full match!) to 8%.  While I’d love to increase it again this year, I’m not sure that will be reasonable given my increase to my HSA.  We’ll see how it plays out and maybe reassess in the fall.

Home Resolutions

Clean sink every night.  I used to be right on it with making sure my kitchen was straightened up every morning before I left for work and every night before I went to bed, but I have really found myself letting all of that go.  I’m making it a goal to deal with the sink every single night.  This will include loading/unloading/running the dishwasher, usually a quick wipe down of the stove and counters, and washing/drying/putting away the hand wash only items.

Install trash bag roll holder under the sink.  I haven’t found a convenient place to keep my trash bags, so I think this option will be best.

Build wine fountain for backyard.  I bought this tutorial months ago and have done nothing with it.  In my option it’s money wasted and I really do think the fountain would be a nice addition to my yard, so come spring, I’m going to do it!

Professional Resolutions

Take and pass my PE exam.  I can’t progress to the next level professionally until this is done, so it’s a no-brainer.  I’m planning to prepare over the summer and sit for it in October.

Continue teaching.  This past fall I started teaching a course at the local community college.  It was really fun and I loved it, so I signed on to teach again this spring semester.  I love being busy, I love teaching and I love the little bit of extra money I’m bringing in.

Publish 12 blog posts.  This means I only have to do one per month…which is totally manageable, right?  Already 1/12th of the way there!


Whew!  I thought they were so simple, but when I list them out it seems to be a lot on my plate all at once!  I downloaded the Strides app to my phone so I can track everything that is “trackable” and so far I LOVE it.  For those of us who are very data oriented and visual, it does a great job with showing you progress bars…and where you SHOULD be at this point in the day/week/month, which is super helpful for guilty girls like me!  I definitely recommend it.

Home, Sweet Home – Delaware Homesick Candle

I’ve been following Homesick Candles for a while now, and obviously was DESPERATELY awaiting the release of their Delaware candle.  (How could I not?  It’s so on brand for me!)  It finally came out, so it took about 3 minutes for me to enter my payment information and hit “purchase.”  Less than 48 hours later, I had it in my hands!

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delaware homesick candle

Before I even got the candle out of the packaging, I could smell it.  Seriously, it is so fragrant and smelled so good.  The Delaware scent is “hints of Delaware strawberries, the Delaware River, and sandy beaches.”  As an “expert” on all things Delaware, I’m not sure these are 100% the most iconic scents of Delaware (maybe the River, but uhm, it’s a REALLY bad smell), but they sure do make a nice candle, so I won’t complain!

Another thing I really love about the candle is the aesthetic.  I love that the candle is a neutral ivory,the jar is clear and the label is subdued and classic.  I’ve already sat it in my dining room and my living room and I know it will work well in other parts of my house as well.

The list of states is pretty extensive and Homesick Candles even has different options for different parts of California.  If you’re like me and hail from a less populated area, keep your eyes and ears out – any remaining states are under development!

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If you just adore your home state the way I do, don’t just stop at a candle.  There are so many great “state” home decor items that I just cannot get enough of!  I didn’t do very much clothing shopping (as in none) in the Nordstrom sale a few months ago, but I did get a set of these Delaware stemless wine glasses.  They’re really beautiful and a subtle way to give a nod!  I think they’d make a great housewarming or wedding gift as well.

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My roommate also brought home this perfect wine stopper for me a few weeks ago when he had stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Like Target, BB&B is one of those stores where you walk in for one item, but realize you need about a dozen more that you can find in the “under $10” or “as seen on TV” sections.

My collection of Dela Darling Delaware Decor (say that 5 times fast!) is still growing, but I’d love to add the throw pillow and gold foil print shown below soon!

Single Lady Tips: Cookbooks

Although I do pull a fair amount of recipes off of Pinterest (follow me here and you’ll see how many I’ve really pinned and tried!) I love using a tangible cookbook.  They just look so pretty stacked or shelved in your kitchen or dining room and it can be so nice to just sit and page through looking for a great new recipe to try!

Of course, all the single ladies (and guys) will understand the struggles I face as so many cookbooks really don’t focus on my needs AT ALL.  Here’s what I look for in a cookbook:

  • Quick recipes – TBH I don’t want to spend 4 hours every night preparing my dinner.  I’m good with an hour or so as long as that can feed me at least two dinners and one lunch.
  • Simple recipes – I’m not saying it has to be 3 ingredients or less, but it’s best if I generally have 90% of the ingredients on hand and the terminology isn’t too complicated.  I don’t have the patience to cook like Julia Childs every night!
  • Reasonable portions – It’s nice to find recipes that are good for only two servings since I’m just one person, but it’s also good to find recipes that are good for more, especially if it’s one that freezes well (hello crock pot recipes!).
  • Delicious – Should this really be something I have to say?

Let’s get to it – the good, the bad and the ugly of my cookbook obsession!  (Really just the good, the very, very good.)

30-MINUTE ONE-POT MEALS

30 minute one pot meals

I picked this guy up at Costco last weekend for $12.99, but you can get it on Amazon for only $12.35!  I haven’t made anything yet, but am planning on whipping up the “Pan-Seared Chicken with Creamy Garlicky Wine Sauce” for dinner sometime this weekend.  I’m excited to really work my way through it for a couple of reasons. One, they look so appetizing and two, 30-MINUTE ONE-POT MEALS.  Seriously, I can be done cooking and cleaning up in less than 35 minutes.  I don’t play when it comes to amazing things like this!

The Little Black Apron

little black apron

I can’t lie to you guys: I bought this book because the cover was SO CUTE!  Also, clearly the marketing team knew who they were talking to because the subtitle “A Single Girl’s Guide to Cooking with Style & Grace” couldn’t be more fitting for my cooking goals.

I think this is a great book for true beginners because it does a great job of defining so many terms and helping you understand how to stock your pantry and how to “whip up” simple things at the last minute out of staples.  It also gives you recipes with only  a few servings (think 2-3 depending on how much you actually eat), which is pretty cool for the single ladies (or single dudes).  My favorite recipes in this book are the salads.  I often find I get really uninspired by lettuce and The Little Black Apron has some really great ideas of how to dress up your greens and some great vinaigrettes you can make just a few servings of!

Cravings

cravings

You know I had to go for at least ONE super-trendy, totally-in-right-now cookbook!  Chrissy’s book uses a ton of whole, fresh ingredients and usually I’m pretty familiar with everything on the list.  My favorite in her book is the “Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Almonds;” honestly, it’s a pretty simple recipe, and uses ingredients I usually have around or love to eat, but wouldn’t normally throw into one dish.  This is why I need cookbooks though – to help with the inspiration!

Crock Pot 5 Ingredients or Less

crock pot

Y’all know I love a good set it and forget it crock pot meal, especially now that it’s cooling down and we’re heading into fall and winter.  There’s not much that can beat the smell when you walk into your house after work and you can tell that your dinner is ALREADY DONE.  Seriously, whoever came up with crock pots, I bow down to you.  Also, whoever came up with crock pot LINERS, you’re equally as great.  You have made clean up a cinch!  I promise, they are totally worth the $$$.  Anyway, this crock pot book does a good job of utilizing ingredients you have on hand and the recipes are super easy.

On my List:

I have a few other books that I don’t LOVE quite as much, but there are also a few that I’ve got my eye on…

Eat Like a Gilmore

It hasn’t been released yet, but I may or may not be planning to pre-order…

Skinnytaste: Fast & Slow

I’ve loved every skinnytaste recipe I’ve tried from the blog, so I think this whole skinnytaste quick-fix thing is a great idea.

Make it Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ina Garten is one of those totally aspirational chefs.  When I watch any of her shows, I’m just thinking, “I see now; I just need to harvest my own wheat/vanilla/oranges/EVERY SINGLE INGREDIENT.  Then I’ll be able to make perfect gourmet meals in 15 minutes while also cleaning my house and traveling to foreign countries.  I’ve been doing it all wrong with the store-bought variety.”  Props to Buzzfeed for the amazing Barefoot Contessa listicles: 1|2|3

Spoiler: I am 75% Barefoot Contessa.  I’m shocked it’s that much!

The Tucci Cookbook

Basically I just love Stanley Tucci and I feel like his cookbook would be pretty good.  I think there should be an audio version to go along with it, so you can listen to him explain the recipe as you’re reading it/cooking.