December 2015 Review

I can’t believe this month is over already and it’s almost 2016!

The end of the month is a popular time for reviewing a bullet journal/planner setup and examining what worked and what didn’t. I’ve definitely made some changes to my Arc bullet journal since I last posted about it.

First is my dividers. The Giftie Etcetera style setup wasn’t working for me, so I shifted things around. Now my dividers are (unofficially): Current Month, Next Month, Future, Household, Personal, Collections, Notes/Reference. So far this is working better for me, but as with everything, that’s subject to change.

I started using a single list with day headers as opposed to migrating things every day (which gets old). At first I was migrating when I started a new spread, but then I dropped that too. This is working out So Much Better than migrating a billion tasks every day. Now if I could pick just one header style I’m able to draw…

Part way through the month, I started missing my week layouts. Sometimes I need to write something down a few days in advance, but it doesn’t really need to go on the month log. I drew out the week to finish out the month, but I’m “shopping” for a printable that I like. (If I don’t find something, I’ll make it up myself.)

IMG_20151230_115313027

Another thing I changed was my “today” marker/dashboard. The one I had made stuck up past the cover of my notebook and was getting bent up. I made a new one with two sheets of cardstock that sticks out the side, and that’s working out better.

What else is changing?

  • I’m taking the habit tracking off my month log for January. I put one for SAVERS on the back of the month log page.
  • I want to add meal planning to my weekly spread. This is an area of my life that needs serious work.
  • I’ve added a blog planning calendar. I’ve been using Trello in the style of Kara’s (Boho Berry) tutorial, but it’s just not an effective tool for me. I’m going back to a simple (undated) calendar with Post-it flags. We’ll see how this works out.
  • I may switch to my Sharpie Pens. It’s a toss-up.
  • I got a Walmart gift card for Christmas, which I may use for supplies (stay tuned!).

I think that’s all for this time.

Are you making changes to your bullet journal or planner for the new month/year? Do you have any suggestions for planner printables or meal planning? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget to follow the blog, and find me on Twitter and Instagram for more content.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Goals and Accountability

With the end of the year approaching, and all the discussion of goals for the new year going on in the planning community, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about what you want to accomplish in the next year. I’m usually not one for resolutions, but I’ve seen more discussion of choosing a word or a theme instead of the traditional resolutions that get ditched after a few weeks.

(Incidentally, one of the last resolutions I made was to replace my soft drink habit with drinking water, and that has stuck!)

Of course there are more than a few resources on discovering a word, theme, or phrase for the year (they’ve been bouncing around Bullet Journal Junkies). Before I had my end of the year “vacation” (aka, being smart about using up the PTO I can’t carry to next year), I hadn’t really had time to go through any of those courses. Still, I kept in mind what might be a good word or theme for me.

Inspired by Kara at Boho Berry, I’ve been trying to get back into the Miracle Morning (SAVERS). I did well with that several months ago and I feel like it was good to have that time for myself before anything else in the day. I fell out of the habit though, and need to work to get back into it.

Another thing I want to work on is my housecleaning routine. I can’t seem to get into a good rhythm of getting everything done on a predictable basis. I’ve tried lists from Clean Mama, Unfuck Your Habitat, and Flylady (whose emails and writing style just drive me crazy). In looking for alternatives to Flylady, I found the original Sidetracked Home Executives–on which Flylady’s system is based. Impatient as always, I searched until I found a good overview of the system I could work with until I can get the book. I’ve started making my card file in order to help me keep things up. (The bonus to this system is that when Andrew is off work and in the mood to clean, I can provide a list of things he can do to help me instead of scrambling to come up with something.)

In light of those two personal goals, I kept ending up at “routines” and “building routines” for my word. My aim isn’t to make life boring, but to simplify by making parts of it a bit more predictable. Back when I had first moved into my apartment, I had routines (at least for cleaning) and it was just comforting to know when things would be done.

My next step (because I love quotes) was to find some quotes that I could put in my bullet journal as a reminder of my goals. The first one I picked was good, but it reminded me of the second (which I think is better):

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” – Mike Murdock

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

I’ve already started on the goals I’ve mentioned above, but I’d like to incorporate checking in to keep myself accountable. My hope is to do a status update here on the blog either every other week, or every month (whichever seems appropriate). Of course we’re also working on our budget and paying off what we owe others, so it’s possible I’ll incorporate all the goals in one regular update.

Are you setting goals for the new year? Let me know in the comments!

As always, don’t forget to follow the blog, and find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Reluctant Gamer Series #1

As promised in my 3 Month-iversary post, here is the inaugural post in my video game series.

I call myself a reluctant gamer because video games have not been a major hobby of mine. Ever. When I was growing up, my only exposure to video games came through an Atari (2600? 2800?) and an Apple IIGS computer. I don’t remember being particularly “good” at the Atari games, but there was a Strawberry Shortcake I enjoyed. On the computer, we had Tetris. During elementary school I had a copy of a computer game that was set in space (on the moon?) and you had to grow crops, figuring out the ideal conditions in the greenhouse/lab to get the highest yield from the shortest time and amount of resources. I think when I was in middle school or high school I talked my parents into buying a used Nintendo at a yard sale and played some Mario games. (I wasn’t successful at Duck Hunt. At all.) I downloaded a couple of free computer games when I was in high school too. I think they were more puzzle-based (I don’t even remember the names now).

Probably the most “serious” I ever was at gaming was during college. (What else are you supposed to do with a dedicated wired internet connection and no need for sleep?!?) I got into Zuma/Zuma’s Revenge (I don’t remember which) and the Sims. There was also some Guitar Hero on other people’s systems. Since college, I haven’t really had the computer hardware for a lot of gaming–my college laptop got used almost to the breaking point, and when I replaced it gaming wasn’t a priority.

Since I met Andrew, I’ve gotten back into gaming a little, but definitely not to the extent that he plays. I got into Dragonvale (mobile) a couple years ago, but I couldn’t even say the last time I touched it. I played Words with Friends, then switched to Word Chums (that I do keep up with). I got into Puzzles + Dragons when I went to PAX East with Andrew this year (he knows someone involved with the game). I started out playing it on my phone, moved my account to the Kindle Fire version, and now I have the 3DS version that includes Mario variation.

Games I have played then abandoned: Pokemon Omega Ruby (not my thing), Spore, SimCity 4, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Other games I play sporadically: Mario Kart 7 & 8, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Peggle (it’s been a while), Plants vs. Zombies (also been a while), 2048, Angry Birds, Catistry (Kindle), Mii Streetpass Games, Super Mario Bros. 2 Gold Edition, Gummy Bears Mini Golf, Yoshi’s New Island

There is no shortage of games available to play now as we have: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U, PS Vita, PSP, Nintendo 3DS (x2), Andrew’s gaming computer, Kindle Fire, Moto X phone (Android, x2).

Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post, and what your favorite games and platforms are.

Don’t forget to follow the blog, and find me on Twitter and Instagram for more content.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Our Budget Journey: The Beginning

Welcome to the first month of mine and Andrew’s financial makeover! If you’re interested in learning how we decided to start budgeting to pay off our credit cards and loans, keep reading.

When Andrew and I met, our finances were in totally different states. I’d been living on my own for a couple of years, had a pretty good handle on my bills (I didn’t worry about things being cut off), and had started building a credit history (paying off my bill every month). I didn’t have a ton in savings, but I had a little for “just in case”. Andrew wasn’t working at the time (hard to find jobs in a small town; the site he works for isn’t big enough to pay wages), and had student loans from when he had attended college for a while (that were being deferred). As I said, totally different states.

Fast forward a year: Andrew had a part-time job in my town, had moved in with me, but still had no car. Then I had a sudden job change, which led to me working where I do now (~45 miles from where we were living). Now Andrew needed a car, so I pulled money out of savings to lend him for that. Then he also got a new job near my new job. We ended up making that drive every day for 7(?) months, through a really nasty winter. O_o

During that winter, we began looking for a house closer to our jobs. (Andrew also totaled his car on one of those bad winter mornings, and ended up borrowing money from my parents for another car.) Rent was even more outrageous in the new town than what were were already paying, not to mention we had plans to get a cat, which added more to the bill (in places that even allowed animals). The obvious option was to just buy a house. I went through the process of mortgage application (Andrew’s credit was busted by those student loans), we found a house, and boom–30-year commitment to buying a home. Of course there were other expenses attached to the home-buying process, which were super easy to put on my credit card until we could get our finances better settled.

Guess what? In 19 months, we didn’t manage to get our finances “better settled”. Something would come up, or I’d just put it on the credit card (they kept raising my limit!), and pretty soon that started to accumulate because we couldn’t always afford to pay off the balance. Are you wondering about those student loans? They were still accruing interest, and no payments were being made. My savings? Pitiful. Andrew’s savings? Nonexistent. Don’t forget he was still paying back that family loan for the car. Thankfully “Murphy” did not visit us in this time.

In the last several weeks, I started watching some budgeting and debt-free living videos on YouTube (mostly GazelleInTents). I honestly can’t recall how I came across them, but I’m glad I did (along with all the other budgeting YouTubers). I’d heard of Dave Ramsey before, and the debt snowball, and played around with budgeting, but I never got really serious about it. But I’ve been tired lately: tired of running bank balances to the bottom, tired of needing to put things on the credit card because we don’t have the money now, tired of not “owning” all the things we have. (It used to be a point of pride for me to only be paying current bills.)

So starting in December, we’re following the Dave Ramsey plan. I put together a budget in Google Sheets in the style of GazelleInTents (they have a tutorial series). We’re lucky that this month Andrew gets 3 paychecks and in January, I do. If the rest of the month goes as planned, we will be able to complete Baby Step 1 ($1000 baby emergency fund) and work on Baby Step 2 (pay off all debt except the house). Baby Step 2 is where we’ll be for probably the next couple of years though. It could be much worse! The only debt we have besides the ones I’ve mentioned is the furniture we financed (at 0% at least) right after we moved in.

It’s going to take work to really get things under control. This month hasn’t been perfect (go me for picking a gift-giving month to start tightening our belts!). We are doing better than the past few months though, and more importantly, We Have A Plan. Andrew and I have had discussions about this (I really tried not to spring it on him) and hopefully that’s helped his anxiety about his student loans.

I’m not positive how I’m going to work this series into my blogging schedule yet, but I’m thinking a monthly update will suffice. In January, I will post some more specifics about where our balances started (Dec. 1st) and the progress we were able to make.

Are you on a journey to live debt-free? Do you have any tips for us on budgeting? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget to follow the blog, and find me on Instagram and Twitter for more content. I’m sharing recently liked YouTube videos in my Twitter feed, including many on budgeting and becoming debt free.

Thanks for reading!

Meet Our Cats

I’m way overdue for posting about the “paws” part of my blog/username. Stay tuned for cat pictures!

When I started the blog, we were a single cat household. We adopted Caramel in May 2014, about a month after we moved into our house. We found her through our local cat rescue. We had checked out a few of the cats they had available online, then went by one of the local pet stores to see who we could meet. Caramel was there all by herself (the rescue was stopping to drop more off) and I just couldn’t not get her. I’m a sucker for animals–especially cats–but there was just something about her that I couldn’t say no to.

10253761_10152466825457526_5405470617489991070_n
Adoption Day!

I worried when we first brought her home because I’m a worrier because she seemed very anxious for the first few weeks. Eventually she settled in though and there have been no regrets with getting her. She’s my baby, though she actually turned 2 in September.

Becoming a two cat household started in August, when this sweet-faced little cat showed up on our front porch looking hungry. I truly believe Esmerelda knew which house was the best one in the neighborhood to get fed, lol. Of course after we started feeding her, we realized she was going to have kittens (because no good deed goes unpunished!).

IMG_20150803_193526549
Seriously–who could let this face go hungry???

We planned to deal with the kittens as necessary once they came, but she had them at a neighbor’s house and those people took the kittens in. Once the kittens were old enough to be weaned, we staked our official claim on Esmerelda. I had gotten attached to those beautiful eyes, and just hoped that Caramel would accept another cat (she generally doesn’t like other animals).

Through brief supervised interactions, Caramel did warm to Esmerelda (yay!). In November, Esmerelda got a clean bill of health and she’s been an indoor kitty ever since. (We did have a slight scare that she was going to have more kittens, but that was a false alarm.) She was pretty anxious about not being allowed back outside at first, but she’s adjusted and I think she’s happy to be spoiled.

 

We have no plans to add more animals for the time being (although we are having Esmerelda spayed next week). At the time we adopted Caramel, we didn’t particularly plan to get a second cat, but I feel like Esmerelda adopted us and it was meant to be.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share and/or comment below.

Also, don’t forget to follow the blog, and find me on Twitter and Instagram for more content!

 

Update: What I’m Using

Now that I’ve fully migrated into my Arc notebook, I wanted to do an update post on what I’m using to plan. You can see what I moved from here.

I had given up on my Inkjoy pens last month in favor of my Acroball multi pen and have not regretted that decision in the least. I still have a pen crush on Sharpie Pens though, and I want to try Staedtler pens also. Mostly there is a paper quality issue that’s stopping me from switching to the felt tip pens–the Arc paper is great with them, but my cheap printer paper and grid paper are not. I plan to upgrade my paper quality though, so I’m sure I’ll trade pens again eventually.

I’m finally in my Arc notebook! I love how much more flexible it is than the bound book I was using before. Now I just have to get settled with how I want everything arranged. I’ve already changed things from the last time I talked about it (*facepalm*). I don’t think my change this time was from unrest, but from my actual use of the journal. It’s easy to think how you’d like to have things set up, but then when those plans are put in practice, things change. Overall, I do like using the Arc for my bullet journal, I just need to figure out my ideal arrangement of things.

Let me know in the comments what houses your planning system (ring binder, bound notebook, discbound, etc.) and what your favorite products are.

Don’t forget to follow the blog, and find me on Twitter and Instagram!

Have a great day! 🙂

November Knitting

Sadly, I don’t have as much knitting to report as I would like to have. My stick to a project and finish mojo hasn’t been so strong.

I want to knit, but I want to start new projects (which is a problem). The problem isn’t the projects I have in progress. The problem is the “ooh shiny!” start-itis I developed a few years ago. I’d ultimately like to finish the projects I have on the needles and get back to only having one (max 2) going at one time. At 3 I feel like I want to get everything done, but since I can’t work on all of them at once, decision fatigue sets in and I don’t work on anything. I still enjoy knitting, so this is something I need to make an effort to correct!

Here are my knitting goals for the rest of 2015:

  1. Finish my mom’s socks. They’re an “IOU” from last Christmas(!).
  2. Knit a moebius cowl for my mom’s birthday (in December, but this will be a fast knit).
  3. Complete chart pages 5 and 6 of the Doctor Who scarf.

I have my time off from work on my side somewhat. The 24th, 25th, 31st, and January 1st are holidays. The three weekdays in between (28th, 29th, 30th) I’ve taken off as my workplace doesn’t allow vacation carryover. So at least I’ll have some good knitting time during the holidays–and time to relax and hang out with the cats!

If you’re a knitter (or do any other crafts), let me know in the comments what projects you want to finish before the end of the year.

Don’t forget to follow the blog, and find me on Twitter and Instagram!

Have a great day! 🙂