Tuesday, January 31, 2017

It's Tough

It's tough to find the desire to blog lately.  I seem to waiver back and forth between feeling depressed and anxious all the time.  I'm completely distracted with worry about what is coming next for myself, my friends, and my family under the dictator that is acting as president.

Hopefully I'll figure out how to get back to enjoying things again and find something to share soon.

In the meantime, I'm contacting my senators and emailing Grab Your Wallet companies I will no longer purchase from to remove myself from mailing lists and deleting my online accounts with them.

Fun times.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Backpacker Travel

**This is getting ready to head to Mexico in 2013

Awhile back I mentioned that my family would be traveling to London and Paris in 2017.  We are starting to get our travel plans pulled together and logistics booked to get from place to place. Something that we have spent quite a bit of time on is deciding on what we needed to travel.  Over the years I have become a big fan of minimalist travel.  I hate lugging big bags from place to place when I truly only use 25 - 30% of what I have packed.  So as time has gone by, I have pared down my "must haves" and gotten to a place where I believe I can travel to Europe for a week in a carry-on backpack.  My husband and children are going to attempt to do the same.  We may end up come back with an extra bag to account for souvenirs but the experience will be less stressful if we travel light. This has led me to start evaluating what my needs are not only for this trip but the lifestyle that my husband and I have dreamed about over the years.  We travel at least a couple of times a year and hope to increase that as time goes on, eventually making travel our highest priority.  Living out of backpacks for months at a time is where we hope to end up in early retirement.  We'll have to wait and see how that pans out.

This weekend we had two objectives - jackets/coats and the backpacks themselves.  It's a good thing because I have had a nasty flu/cold for a week and really was just capable of online shopping.

Jackets. To be honest, we both needed heavier jackets because we have both lost weight and needed not only something that would fit better but also would keep us warm but allow us to move about freely, especially while wearing a backpack.  I love my wool pea coat but I do not want to worry about feeling hot and itchy while traveling. We both settled on softshell jackets by Columbia.  He chose the Hooded Ascender SoftShell  in black and I chose the Kruser Ridge Softshell in black.  Both are on sale on the Columbia website right now so we grabbed them before they sold out.  I would have loved to get one with a hood but alas they were sold out.  We tried these on at Cabellas to be sure and weight seemed nice, not to hot or cold.  Since we will be in 40-45 degree weather we felt it was a good choice and I'm sure I'll be wearing mine throughout our milder winter days in Kansas.

On to the backpacks.  This is where it gets a little crazy.  There is so much information about deciding on a perfect backpack out there we had a hard time choosing.  And because we are buying backpacks that we will use for years of travel, we wanted to be selective and get something that is not only durable but good to travel for weeks if not months at a time. We quickly leaned towards the brand Osprey which seems to offer a large variety of backpacks in various cubic sizes as well as people build sizes. I like the idea that I am wearing a backpack made for a tall woman and not a short woman because hopefully the waist band will hit in the right place. Osprey also offers a lifetime warranty, awesome!  I ordered the Osprey Farpoint 40L in black.  It holds 40 liters.  That sounds like a lot but is relatively small in the world of backpacks.  It is, however, small enough to pass as a carry-on which I like.  I have a cross-body Fossil Morgan Top Zip Purse that I can wear with it (crossbody) which will pass as my small item so I feel the combination of both will be sufficient.  I debated going larger but then I thought if I did, I'd only fill it up with more things I don't need.  And the weight would become more than I want to deal with. I know we will be doing a lot of walking and even traveling by train and the last thing I want to do is feel like I am lugging bricks around.  I also purchased a set of travel cubes which I think will make my life easier.  Depending on what we think of the Farpoint 40, my husband may go with it.  If not, he may end up with a larger bag, we'll have to wait and see.  

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Online Savings

Last year I posted about several sites I use save online and figured it was time to do an update.

I recently discovered a new tool called Honey that I have started using and wanted to pass it on to the few of you who read my blog.

Honey is a free browser add-in that you use when you shop online.  It does a few things for you.  First, it automatically looks for all the coupon/promo codes available and applies the best one for your purchase (and even stacks codes if allowed).  Second, it will provide you the best price when shopping on Amazon.  If the listed price is higher than other offers online, it will link you to the cheaper price. As someone who shops on Amazon almost weekly (Love Amazon Prime) it is definitely a nice perk. And lastly, it offers cashback.  I am a big Ebates fan so I'm not sure I'll use it for this purpose but thought it worth mentioning.  And if you aren't signed up with Ebates... you are throwing away money each time you purchase online.  It is by far one of the best ways to earn some extra dough with very little effort.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What I got for Xmas 2016

Disclaimer - this is not a post to brag about what I got for Christmas.  Some of my favorite blogs and vlogs are the "what I got for Xmas" type and thought it would be fun to share because I am always interested in learning about what kinds of things others are into... and even find some new interests for myself.

PJs - A gift from my mom they are super comfortable and have an Indian-inspired design.  Definitely will be nice to wear on our trip to London & Paris in the Spring.

In The Charcuterie - A cookbook about making your own meats.

Felt Succulent Kit by Craft Crush

Paint by Sticker book - looks like a nice way to relax

Dirty Dancing CDs - because I have tix to see the Broadway show in a few months and need to brush up on the soundtrack!

Owl Paint by Number - again, nice and relaxing project

Breakfast Club Funko Pop - Allison Reynolds

Etsy Gift Cards - So much to decide on I am having trouble selecting anything.  I may just wait till I need a new pattern.

Billie Jean mug - Probably the most desired item on my list, Fair is Fair!

Fleetwood Mac on vinyl

Books!  - Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, Peter Beagle's Summerlong,  Make the Most of Your Time on Earth, Flannery O'Connor's The Complete Stories, and the Judy Blume Boxed Set (all my own so I don't have to share!)

Tarte SwampQueen palette

Marshall Headphones

Echo Dot - Alexa sits on my nightstand now and mostly streams Florence + the Machine since I am so obsessed lately

Movies! - Alice through the Looking Glass, Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children, and Super Girl

Yankee Candle Wax Warmer - Love me some white owls!

White Owl Mug


Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything.  I am incredibly thankful for all my gifts but mostly just thankful for the time with family to celebrate the season.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Christmas Vacation 2016 Recap

My family and I have a tradition of taking off the last week of Christmas to enjoy a nice family staycation.  This year we had a total of 10 days off in a row which made it a nice long break.

Christmas Eve my family headed out for dinner at a local restaurant called Greystone.  It is a steak and seafood place and new to all of us.  In prior years we have gone to Scotch & Sirloin but thought it would be a nice change.  Our overall impression was it was decent.  Some things were just ok (steak, prime rib) and some things were excellent (soup, corn, mushrooms).  The bit that we didn't love was the noisy table behind us that was a buzz kill to our dinner... we could barely hear each other talk. After dinner we opened gifts with my mom and sister's family.

Christmas morning my family was up early to open presents from each other and from Santa.  There were some big hits including the Chewbacca Mask, a Tablet, and a Drone.

For Christmas Dinner I hosted 40 people from my and my husband's family.  It was our biggest turnout yet. We had family from out of town in attendance this year as well which made it extra special.  We typically do a White Elephant gift exchange and we did again this year but we also played two additional games that I set up.  The first was the Paper plate Christmas Drawing game.  Each person followed a set of directions while drawing on a paper plate sat upon their head.  The second game was the saran wrap ball which was a much bigger hit.  Essentially a ball of prizes is rolled up in a big ball of saran wrap and people have to get the prizes out while wearing gloves and restricted to the time it takes their neighbor to roll doubles with two dice.  It was a lot of fun to see people go crazy over this ball.  Definitely a repeat for future years.

After Christmas we had quite a bit planned in advance to make the most of our break.  We had several outings for lunch and dinner.  I have a couple of family members who are obsessed with Abuelos so we made our annual visit there.  I managed to squeeze in a couple of my favorites including Wasabi which has my favorite sushi and Meddys, a Mediterranean place I love.

We checked out Color Me Mine where we selected and painted a ceramic.  It was a little pricey but we did hit it on a day where we got 50% off studio fees.  I think mine turned out best but then again, I'm partial to myself lol.

We did an Escape Room at WeXcape.  This was our first time trying and while we didn't make it out of the room in an hour, we did have a good time and would definitely do it again.

We hit up The Alley for a day of bowling, go-carts, video games, and laser maze.  I really enjoyed the bowling and it had been a couple years since I last bowled.  We definitely need to do this more often and hopefully when my brother in law doesn't have a bad back!

We had a game night where we ate junk food and played some games as a family.  We are definitely a competitive bunch!

We saw a few movies -- Rogue One (just my husband and kiddos because it is so not my thing), The Arrival, and Passengers.  I really liked The Arrival.  It had multiple themes which were hopeful and relevant to the world today.  The power of communication is deeply underestimated.  I also enjoyed Passengers more so than I thought I would.

And last, we did some sitting around at home watching movies (Alice Through the Looking Glass!) and vegging.   It was a great break and I'm sad to see it go....

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Happy New Years Friends!

I wrapped up the last couple of weeks of the year with a staycation at home with my family.  We had a nice holiday break with a lot of planned activities.  I'll save the recap of Christmas for my next post but it was a great holiday nonetheless.

I took a look back at my 2016 Goals that I posted about last year.  I had three goals.

1) Lose another 50 lbs.  I had lost 53 lb in 2015 and aimed to lose another 50.  Did I make it?  Not quite.  I lost 38 pounds in 2016.  That puts my total weight loss to date at 92 lb.

2) Get my business off the ground.  Well that did happen and is still up and running.  I would say I am still having success but quickly needing to decide what I want to do. To be honest, I really like running my side business and it has been profitable but there are a couple of challenges -- finding places to source product and the ever increasing fees of the selling platform.  As time has gone on, it has become more difficult to make a profit.  So I have some decisions to make in the new year about what I want to do.  One thing I know for sure, I will still have a side business, I'm just not sure what it will look like.

3) Declutter.  I definitely feel that I have had some major successes in this area.  For one, I have kept the organizing that I did early in 2016 in place and have not let things go.  I have also continued to declutter room by room and not over purchased.  My closet is my best evidence.  As I have lost weight, I have bought some new clothes but I have not refilled my large closet at all.  I still have more to purge but the house has definitely come together more and the junk has decreased.

So what's in store for 2017?

Before I get to goals I want to just comment about going into 2017.  I am a bit afraid, I admit, of what this next year brings.  Not so much on a personal level but where my country stands.  I have no sense of stability or normalcy right now.  I have feelings that the ground I stand on could fall from under me at any moment.  It isn't a great feeling and even harder when you try to reassure your children that things will be ok. I really hope they are but my skeptical side says the country is in for a bumpy ride . I am also entering into my 40th year this year which is surreal (people who are 40 are old....).  Each year that passes since my dad has passed away is just a little bit harder because I just don't want to do that year without him... the feeling lessens after a couple of days but I admit I am in the thick of it right now.  So I will do the very best I can to be hopeful and true to myself and will be happily surprised if things turn out better than I expect this year.

So on to my goals for 2017.

1) Lose another 30 lb. I took a break from keto over the holidays but am ready to jump back on the wagon.  30 lb will put me at a pretty good place and is something I can be comfortable with in this body.

2) Save.  Every year we save a little more but haven't been as aggressive as we could be.  I spent the last couple of months getting my old 401K and pension rolled over to an IRA with my new company and have been working on getting our contributions aligned to allow us to be more aggressive.  I also want to work on building our savings for some big trips we want to take in the next couple of years (Japan!).  I don't want to get all personal with $$ amounts but I think this year will allow us to save our most yet.

3) Practice Mindfulness.  This is something I have been working on for the last several years but given the state of a lot of things, I feel it is important that I take a bigger role in being mindful of my decisions and how I choose to spend my time, money, and energy.  There are going to be things I can't control and best I get started on thinking about how I want to deal with those things now.

4) Reading.  I didn't post about this last year but I made a goal to read 20 books last year.  Compared to 10 years ago, this feels like nothing. These days, though, 20 books seems reasonable.  Unfortunately I came up a little short in 2016 and only read 18 books.  That isn't going to stop me from trying again for 20 in 2017.  In fact, I think I might just go read right now.