Bullet Journaling for 2017

Over the past 9 months, I’ve become a Bullet Journal addict.  I’ve always been a fan of pen and paper for keeping track of my schedule, to-do list, and goal setting.  I like the physical act of writing things out.  It helps my mental processes.  I also like crossing things off lists!  There’s something satisfying in changing the status of a task.  🙂

I’ve tried many, many planners ranging from the expensive Franklin Covey options to the inexpensive 3-month Emergent Task Planner.   When I heard about the Bullet Journal system, I was currently using the Passion Planner, which offers some great pages for setting long-term goals and breaking those goals down into manageable daily tasks.  It also helps in focusing your daily to-do list to achieve long-term results.  What I didn’t like about it was the lack of flexibility in  using its pages.  I think I used almost as much white-out as I did ink!  In truth, I was missing my Emergent Task Planner!

The Bullet Journal system was attractive because it was simple and flexible.  I could use any journal and could get as creative as I wanted or keep it as simple as I wanted.  I confess…  I have an obsession with office supplies.  I had an entire drawer of brand new journals, so I just picked the one on top and got started.  I took a spin through Pinterest for inspiration and spent the next three months experimenting.  Because the Bullet Journal system is so flexible, you can start a new journal any time you like, which made changing journals or tools very simple.  It took me about 6 months to really develop a style and tools that worked for me, but now that I have, my Bullet Journal is helping me stay focused on my goals.

Many people who use the Bullet Journal system prefer to use the notebook designed for Bullet Journaling.  Many also prefer the classic Moleskin line of notebooks.  For me, I wanted a notebook with some of my favorite things about other planners.  I loved that the Emergent Task Planner was spiral bound.  I could lay it flat and view two pages or easily flip to lay flat on one page.  I loved using engineering paper, because it was squared and made it was easy to create grids.  I’m not a fan of spending $30 on a journal or a notebook.  I live on a farm and have horses, dogs, and a cat.  Things get destroyed, spilled on, etc. on a regular basis.  My last notebook was eaten by our puppy.  Yes, eaten!  So…  I settled on the Miliko Transparent Hardcover A5 Spiral Notebook, which sells in a 2-pack on Amazon for $12.99.

I have a few must-have tools, which include a ruler, Sharpie pens, and page tabs.  I use all the basic pages for a Bullet Journal (index, future log, monthly logs, and daily logs).  For a few months, I went down a rabbit hole on Pinterest and went a little nuts with the creativity, but in the end, I settled on the pages I needed and a level of creativity I’m comfortable with.  I have a monthly habit tracker, brainstorming lists for blog entries and books I’d like to read, a 2017 calendar, 30-day challenge trackers, expense logs, a gratitude list, and a Bible study tracker.  I also take notes here and there for work or writing.  Since there’s no set format, my Bullet Journal adjusts from month to month as I need it to.

As usual, I didn’t make useless New Year’s Resolutions, but I did start January with a fresh habit tracker.  One of the big things I need to tackle this month is a sugar detox!  I gave in one too many times to the seasonal sweets at Dollar General and need to get back on the healthy train.  🙂  I always re-order my monthly habit tracker in order of the habits that are the highest priority, so my top two are always Bible study and prayer.  The next 3 tasks for January 2017 are all about diet and exercise.  I’m looking forward to the days getting longer and my behind getting smaller.

If you’re interested in Bullet Journaling, I highly recommend starting with the Bullet Journal videos.  I also recommend checking out my friend Hillary Yeager’s BuJo series.  She’s much more creative than I am!

Hope you’re having a wonderful new year!

Shrove Tuesday with a Twist

Shrove Tuesday is traditionally a time for us Episcopalians to come together to eat pancakes and burn chrism and palms.  It comes from the tradition of feasting on the contents of your cupboards in preparation for the fasting of Lent, which begins the following day.  For our household, Shrove Tuesday took on new meaning.

I was working from home and got a message from my husband’s aunt.  For the last three years, we have been living in one of her homes, paying the mortgage, and arguing about whether or not to buy the place.  She insisted we treat the place as our own, because she knew I wanted to buy the place, and she had no interest in moving back in.

Things change…

Her circumstances have changed radically in the last three years.  Our intentions have changed radically.  We have spent the last two months stressing out about getting the house ready to sell and making sure we take care of her.  She has spent the last two month living in an apartment while we live in one house and another house remains on the market.  Between a crappy economy and unforeseen family circumstances, she needs her house back.  She contacted us feeling guilty, but we were relieved.  Panicked, but relieved.

Talk must now become action…

CrossofashesOur dream building about downsizing into a travel trailer while we build our dream home is no longer talk.  It is our reality.  I’ve spent the last month trying to discern God’s will and soul-searching for just the right thing to do or to give up for Lent.  God called.  He wants me to give up my stuff.  :p

I joke, but it’s true.  I asked.  God answered.  I know someone who needs to sell her travel trailer.  I know someone who needs our house.  I know two people who are facing an empty, too big nest with too much stuff.  This is a win-win-win for everyone.

I’m scared…

I won’t lie.  My husband and I are terrified about how this is all going to come together.  We’re terrified that we’re going to be stuck in a travel trailer together with 3 dogs and a cat and be completely miserable.  What if we fight?  What if the dogs fight?  What if we can’t get everything done in time?  What if his aunt is upset about something we did to the house?  What if the truck breaks down?  We have a million fears and questions.

But we also have faith…

FortyDaysFortyItemsWe know God provides.  We’ve both seen it.  God has plans for us, and those plans are GOOD.   God has called, and we will answer, knowing that God will be there for us and that this journey is another positive step toward a stronger marriage and a more fulfilling life.

So as Ash Wednesday arrived, I committed to spending Lent parting with many of my material possessions.  When Easter Sunday arrives, we will be living a new life in a new place.  We will be manifesting our new intentions to devote our lives to being a positive force of transformation in the world.  The next 40 days will be full of temptations, but I am sure that with God’s help, we will come out the other side renewed and restored.

What are you committing to this Lent in preparation for the Lord’s death and resurrection?  What fears do you carry with you?  How will you overcome?

My Ore-Ida Totchos Adventure

20160106_111914As a part of my Jingle VoxBox from Influenster.com, I received a coupon for a free bag of Ore-Ida Tater Tots, which were to be used to try out one of the Totchos recipes from the Kraft Recipies Totchos Hub.  We choose the Loaded Totchos recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. (32 oz.) Ore-Ida Tater Tots
  • 1 container (8 oz.) Kroger Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup Kraft Three Cheese Ranch Dressing
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh green onions, divided
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Kroger Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled

Steps:

  1. 20151231_111602Pre-heat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Bake tater tots as directed on package.
  3. Cook bacon as directed on the package.  Crumble.
  4. Mix sour cream, dressing and green onions until blended.
  5. Spread tater tots onto platter.
  6. Top with sour cream mixture, bacon, and cheese.

The Good…  This was sinfully yummy.  All of the things you love about Nachos mixed with all of the things you love about Tater Tots!  Easy to make too.  We used real bacon, so that had to be cooked separately, but it was still an easy dish to whip up.  Other than over time, for which we were doing other things, it took maybe 15 minutes?

The Bad…  The plate is supposed to serve 12.  There were 3 of us, and we devoured it all.  That means that each of us consumed 1120 calories , 80 grams of fat (32 of which were saturated fat), 140mg of cholesterol, and 2400mg of Sodium.  Yikes!  I highly recommend that if you make this, you make it as a party dish or as a side dish when serving several people.  Don’t temp yourself into throwing portion control out the window!

My Jingle VoxBox from Influenster

I’ve been a member of Influenster.com since September 2013.  I’ve had a great time testing/reviewing products.  Most of the products I receive I’ve never heard of or at least never tried before.  My Jingle VoxBox was no exception.

My Jingle VoxBox included the following:

20151229_151735With the exception of the tater tots, I had never tried any of the products I received.  I’d heard of the NYC eyeliner and Biscoff cookies but had never tried them.  I *still* haven’t tried the fake lashes and don’t plan to.  99% of the time, I love the products, but every now and again, I get something like fake lashes that I wouldn’t be caught dead using!

In completing some of my VoxBox tasks, I did a little research on IttyBittys.  They are absolutely adorable and come in just about every character you can imagine, including Star Wars and Scooby Doo characters.  I had intended on giving my little Rapunzel to my granddaughter Addy but completely forgot it when we went to visit on New Year’s Day.  I’ll have to let you know what she thinks of it the next time I see her.

The Biscoff cookies were a big hit.  I had three packages, so I shared with my husband and daughter.  We all agreed…  They’re going on the grocery list!

While we enjoyed the tater tots, we tend to avoid frozen foods, so they won’t be on the grocery list except for the occasional splurge.

20151231_111602I love, love, love the Cetaphil moisturizing cream.  I have a terrible time with dry skin in the winter, and I usually have to use a hand cream some times as many as 6 times a day.  I’m using Cetaphil twice a day.

I was a little less excited about the PureIce nail polish.  I was NOT a fan of the Shore Bet shade, but I did really like the polish.  It dries quickly and doesn’t have a harsh chemical smell.  I won’t be buying that shade, but I’ll be giving other shades a try.

I don’t wear make up.  Maybe twice a year if ever.  So… I gave the eyeliner to my daughter, who just about squealed when she saw it in the VoxBox.  Still waiting to hear what she thinks!  She promised pictures and a review.  🙂

If you’re active on social media and are interested in receiving free products to review/test, you should sign up for Influenster.  I’m glad I did!

Free Personal Finance Education

Offered by Bank of Americain partnership with Khan Academy, BetterMoneyHabits.com is a financial learning website geared mainly toward young adults. You can create an account to personalize your experience. You can earn points and badges by watching videos and takings quizzes. You can also set goals for what you want to learn. All of the lessons are geared toward learning about personal finance. Most lessons are taught through videos, have key takeaway points at the end, and a quiz you can take.

BetterMoneyhabitsHere are some available topics:

  • Credit
    • What is credit score?
    • Ways to build credit
    • Keeping credit healthy
    • Managing my credit report
    • Sal Khan & experts discuss credit
  • Saving & Budgeting
    • Managing my personal budget
    • Saving for what’s ahead
  • Debt
    • Getting out of debt
    • The cost of debt
    • How interest works
    • Paying down student loans
  • Home Buying & Renting
    • Deciding to buy or rent
    • How credit impacts home buying
    • How much home can I comfortably afford?
    • My mortgage options
    • Starting the mortgage process
    • Saving for a down payment & other costs
    • Understanding home refinance
  • Taxes
    • Planning my taxes
    • How taxes affect my paycheck
  • Car Buying
    • Preparing to buy or lease
  • Banking Basics
    • Basics of the banking industry
    • Personal banking

Car Care Tips to Save on Gas

In the words of Rich White, executive of the Car Care Council, “You can’t control the price of gas, but you can control how much gas you burn by performing proper maintenance and how you drive. Performing simple and inexpensive maintenance can save as much as $1,200 per year in gas costs.”

Here are some maintenance tips to help you save on gas:

  • Keep your car properly tuned
  • Keep tires properly inflated
  • Replace dirty or clogged air filters
  • Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil

And here are some driving tips to help your fuel efficiency:

  • Follow the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 50 mph. Each 5 mph over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.25 per gallon for gas
  • Avoid unnecessary idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Warming up the vehicle for one or two minutes is sufficient.
  • Avoid quick starts and stops. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city.
  • Consolidate trips. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much gas as one longer mufti-purpose trip.
  • Don’t haul unneeded items in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces fuel economy up to 2 percent.

For more information, check out the Car Council Tip site.

MyGoodwillRewards Card

Do you shop at Goodwill? If you don’t, you should consider it. Not only is it a great source for low cost, second hand items ranging from jeans to dishes to couches to surround sound systems, but they also offer exceptional discounts and a great rewards program.

Here in Middle Tennessee Goodwill stores offer all of the following discounts:

  • Everyday: 50% off the Color of the Week: YELLOW
  • 1st Saturday of the Month: 50% off everything!
  • Sundays: 99¢ clothing on the Color of the Week
  • Mondays: Receive $5 off for every $25 you spend
  • Tuesdays: Receive two points for every $25 you spend when you use your MyGoodwillRewards card
  • Wednesdays: 99¢ clothing on the Color of the Week
  • Thursdays: Seniors 60 or older with a valid ID receive 20% off regular-priced items
  • Fridays: Receive two points for every $25 you spend when you use your MyGoodwillRewards card

Rewards programs, like discounts, vary from state to state. To get a MyGoodwillRewards card, go to your local Goodwill store to sign up. In middle Tennessee, you have to go online to the MyGoodwillRewards website to activate your rewards card after signing up.

In middle Tennessee, you receive 1 rewards point for every $25 you spend each visit. You also Tuesdays and Fridays. For example, if you went to Goodwill on Monday and spent $30, you would receive 1 reward point. If you went to Goodwill again on Friday and spent $65, you would receive a total of 4 points: two points for spending $50 and another 2 for double point Friday. You receive $25 off of a purchase of $25 or more for every 10 rewards points that you receive. You get $25 off for your birthday as well. MyGoodwillRewards members also get additional discounts from time to time.

Goodwill offers great everyday low prices. Shirts and skirts for $5.99. Jeans and dresses for $8.99. Books ranging from 99 cents to $2.99. When you add discounts and the MyGoodwillRewards program, Goodwill is an excellent way to get great second hand merchandise for bargain prices.