Friday, December 28, 2012

8 Tips for Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions

Let's look at common New Year's resolutions:
  • Lose weight/exercise more/eat healthier
  • Quit smoking
  • Spend more time with family/friends
  • Save money/get out of debt
  • Learn something new
  • Volunteer
These are also the New Year's resolutions that people usually forget about within 6 weeks of the start of the new year. So, what can you do to help you get on track and stay on track with self-improvement?

SweetGreen Dupont Circle by Elvert Barnes, Flickr
1. Make a better list of New Year's resolutions. You know what's missing in that list up there? Specificity. How much weight? How much money? How much time? Quantify the list and make sure it's realistic. 

2. Along with specifying quantity, make a plan that involves micro-actions (term borrowed from Tammy). On a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, how will you be working towards accomplishing the Big goal? Consider forgetting the resolutions altogether and make a list of tasks rather than Big Goals. For example, "Bring my lunch to work every day" is a smaller task that you can focus on more easily than the Big Goal. Even better: "Learn to make fun Bento boxes to take to work," is a great micro-action that gets your mind off the Big Goal while still working towards it. 

3. Make sure your resolutions are goals you really want. Duh. It might be that what you want is to look in the mirror and be happy with the person you see. That doesn't necessarily mean that you need or want to lose weight. Get it?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas in my neck of the woods

There's so much goodness happening in such a little place. Here's what Christmas is looking like in my apartment. 

First, batch #2 of gingerbread cookies. I made cookies for my knitting group last Sunday, but I didn't use all the dough. The recipe I used is here, and the fact that the dough stayed good for a week is pretty impressive too. 

Last night, I was abruptly inspired to make paper snowflakes. I quickly realized that I needed to go back to first grade because I kept cutting wrong and they fell apart. Not to be thwarted, I still used the small pieces. By the way, the snowman painting on the refrigerator is from last year. He's a permanent fixture. 

Smile! I kept making faces and things that looked more like ancient alien artifacts and tribal masks than snowflakes. It was all unintentional. 

Do you see it? I saw a bull at first and then decided it was a Viking and then decided it was Yoda. I'll bet you've never thought about those things having similar silhouettes. 

Another by the way: Vikings in unexpected places make me laugh. For example, I laughed hysterically when I saw a young man wearing a Viking helmet while just driving around town one day. It's the horns. 

And I made a "snowflake" from one of the small scraps that looks exactly like a Christmas tree. Again, totally accidental. It's good, though, because now I can say I put up a Christmas tree. 

But since I don't have an actual tree to decorate, I strung up some lights around my front window. Hi, parking lot! 

On the string of lights, I've hung some of my ornaments collected over the years. My family used to do an ornament exchange each year, which sounds so lovely and Martha Stewart-like until you see the dinosaur and wooden fish and robot. 

Goody! Yellow sludge! Yesterday, apparently I suffered a fit of domestic goddessness because I also decided to make a hand/body scrub based on this recipe. I don't have any pretty mason jars (this is an old pickle jar), so it doesn't look very nice, but it works like a charm. Oh, and it's completely edible. I used grapeseed oil instead of olive oil.

I've been a knitting fool these past couple weeks! I just finished a baby blanket for my friends who are expecting (below), and hours after I finished weaving in the ends of the blanket, I started on this really easy hat for my sweetheart (pattern here). I'm almost finished as you can probably tell. I hope to finish today! 

Here is the baby blanket. I really like how it came out. The yarn is a smooth, lovely cotton (no, really), and it's self-striping yarn, which I adore. I think the colors are great for a late-spring baby. It was a quick knit (pattern here).

I'm not sure my camera and the lighting are doing the colors justice. The hat above is actually a very dark navy. The blue-green color in the blanket is kind of an emerald or tropical green and the red color is a cherry red. 

So that's my simple Christmas this year. I'm thoroughly enjoying my time off work. Aside from all these projects, I've been sleeping a ton, which is nice.

I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season.   

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

First, how did I do this year? 

✔ Run a half-marathon. 

✔ Eat healthier and more economically. Mostly, yes. I resolved to eat more vegetables, which I have since becoming a weekday vegetarian, but I still need to work on my sugar intake.

✔ Increase flexibility and strength. And people keep telling me I look like I've lost weight!

✘ Find a suitable dwelling. Sadly, no. I continue looking, but it's probably not going to happen for a while. 

✔ Knit more. 

✘ Read more! Not really. 

 Take more risks. I think quitting a good full-time job to go back to juggling part-time work was kind of risky. The bf moved in with me. And I've recently decided to invest in myself a bit by taking classes that might not immediately pay off. 

Considering I kind of forgot what my resolutions were soon after I wrote them, I did spectacularly well. It goes to show you that change starts with really wanting it. The question is: what do I want for the upcoming year? 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

8 Current Projects

It's finals week, and I'm not feeling very inspired to write my list of 8 things! So, here's a little update disguised as a list:

1. Knitting yoga socks. They're socks with the heel and toe part left open. They keep your feet a little warmer while still giving you grip. And, they're much easier to knit than actual socks. 

2. Knitting a baby blanket for a very good friend who's recently announced she's expecting. 

3. Making laundry detergent. I found this list of 10 recipes, and I chose #4, which is one of the powdered ones. Having to heat stuff up seems too much like real work. I'm planning to track how much it's really costing me compared to regular commercial brands and, of course, how well it works. 

4. Job hunting. Oy. It never ends.

5. Making interesting concoctions with my weekly CSA share. I'm enjoying it, but it is sometimes a struggle to use everything before it goes bad. I've decided I love leeks, and I'm rediscovering potatoes. 

6. Baking stuff. Yes, it's that time of year. I've been trying to put my bread machine to use more often, and I've been baking a lot of cookies.  

7. Hanging Christmas lights. I wasn't planning to do it this year, but I invited my knitting group to my apartment yesterday, and it seemed like a good enough excuse to put them up. Twinkly lights make me happy. 

8. Signing up for classes. I've decided to invest in myself. More on this to come. It's something I should have done a year ago, but it's hard to justify the money spent when I'm already pretty strapped as it is. But, I can't keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results, so it's time to broaden the horizon.

What are you up to? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Zumba Story

Zumba Jam with Eric Aglia
I recently went to a workshop for Zumba instructors where we learned new choreography for our classes. The instructor leading the workshop told us his story of how he came to find Zumba and what it did for him and his family. He asked us to share our stories--with him and with anyone else who would listen. 

My story is below, but before you read, I can't stress enough that everyone should have something that brings them joy in their lives. For me, it's the sweaty combination of dance, pretending like I can sing in Spanish, and generally actin' a fool  that is a typical Zumba class. The question is: what is it for you?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

8 Lessons Learned: The Knitting Edition

I've been knitting for four years now. Although I tend to pick it up off and on, I do really enjoy it. I'm in favor of people finding hobbies of any kind, but knitting is special to me because it's what I would consider my first (and maybe only) real hobby. Here's what I've learned since I started:

1. You will have to restart every project at least once. Get over it.

Knit Elvis by Aine D, Flickr
2. Buy yarn you like (or that the recipient likes if it's for someone else), regardless of fiber. I briefly tried being a yarn snob (that is, no cheap stuff like acrylic), but that ended when I bought some pricy alpaca yarn only to find out that, yes, even buttery alpaca makes me itch. 

3. There are more knitters out there than you realize. Knitting is an at-home type of hobby, so you don't see it happening, but it's going on all the time behind closed doors. Since I started knitting, I've met a lot of people who also knit--even people I already knew but didn't realize were knitters. 

4. It's not just for old ladies. The thing about old ladies is that they generally have the time to do it and the inclination (gifts for children and grandchildren), but if a younger person also has the time and inclination, then there's no reason not to. In my knitting group, among the regulars, about half are grandmothers.