Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reflections on 2015 and Resolutions for 2016

Happy New Year!

2015 had its ups and downs for me. At the beginning of the year, E and I broke up. Dealing with that was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do, especially when I will still care for him forever. I am strong and that is all I have to say about that. Also, I didn't move out of my hometown, but, don't worry, that's still on the to do list, especially following how Shannon (of The Simply Luxurious Life) is head over heels in love with her new city of Bend, Oregon! Her glee is infectious. I didn't even manage to visit my beloved Philadelphia last calendar year. I've really missed this city lately and will have to plan a daytrip soon. 

Fortunately, 2015 was also filled with wonderful times and things. ...with books, movies, food, drink, friends, family, blogging, and simple pleasures. I continued trying new recipes throughout the year. A couple of them like the Quick & Easy Italian Pork Chops and Brookies are in regular rotation! In the spring, Elizabeth and I saw the stunningly beautiful cherry blossoms in DC as usual. I indulged in an epic shopping spree for my April birthday, which differed from my normal travel experience. A college friend visited me during the summer. I have always wanted to show F Annapolis and I'm glad she liked it. In October, I introduced an exciting new blog series, each highlighting a signature item of mine. Also during the fall, I made a new friend, something that is hard to do past age 22. Despite any low points this year, I am still reveling being in my 30s. I have always wanted to be grown up and now I feel like I have arrived. This year, I have employed self-discipline and developed habits to become a chic woman, a chic that appears effortless to many. I will, however, share many of my secrets in a post or two soon. Even though things could improve, I like to think that I live well for being as poor as I am (and saving money). I am trying to blog in an increasingly authentic way and I think my readers truly respond when I'm real.

My Resolutions for 2015 were:

1. To branch out in cooking. 
I resolved to try new recipes and I succeeded. However, I set a goal of making 50 new recipes from late 2014 through 2015 and actually only made 17 recipes, 18 if you count following a second recipe for a single dish. I still have two new recipes to post about, so expect them. You may also check out my Recipes Tried Pinterest board. I didn't do as many as intended because I often couldn't afford many new ingredients. As a result of this commitment, however, I acquired so many more pantry items and pieces of equipment. My kitchen is now much better off! I enjoy cooking, baking and the Italian art of arranging (think antipasti), so I had a good time keeping this resolution. I so missed childhood activities like making chocolate chip cookies from scratch, that I was happy to have had the excuse to have done them again. I'm not going to commit to a new cooking resolution or goal for 2016, but I'm definitely going to stay in the kitchen.

2. To master portion control.
This is my life struggle! While I still have many moments of pigging out and naturally clear my plate, I truly am getting better at this more often. Better than ever before. The last time I dined out with my parents, for example, I ate half of my roast turkey club sandwich on white toast (hold the mayo) and chips in the restaurant and the other half with chips for lunch at home the next day. I like to divide leftovers into my smallest containers and my beloved cheddar cheese into snack-size bags as well as serving myself food on small plates and snacks in small ramekins. It's all about making the right decision convenient and the wrong decision inconvenient each time I eat or drink. Recently, I started using a measuring cup to regulate portions of pasta. I have thought about pouring wine into a quartino carafe which is about a glass and a a half and then only pouring from that into my glass, especially for dinner parties. I'm also trying to decide what I'm going to eat and drink or what I'm not ahead of time, so that I may possibly stick to it during the meal or event.

3. To live more fearlessly.
I remain a fearful driver, but I do make myself practice driving every once in awhile. I realize that the more I drive around town, the more comfortable I become. When compared to driving and even though I do overthink and worry a lot, I still feel like I've made strides in this area, that my actions have reflected my choices and not my fears. I am open to life. In fact, the last job I applied to wasn't even located in Philadelphia! I am also working on letting my loved ones in, even if they don't understand. This blog has become more personal and I want to publish even more. 

4. To work on my blog everyday.
Fail. Ugh, I have wanted to work on my blog more often for years... Some weeks, I only do an entire Sunday post and publish it same day! I finally realized that I should change my schedule to fit myself though. Read on for what I plan to do this year...

My Goals for 2015 were:

1. To score a new job and move out of my hometown.
That didn't happen. Maybe this year.

2. To have a physical exam.
I didn't make it to the doctor. For health insurance purposes, I did complete a biometric screening during the summer and my numbers were good. 

My Resolutions for 2016 are:

1. To work on my blog more often.
I sincerely resolve to regularly work on my blog in 2016. Working includes writing and editing text, taking and editing pictures, and finding pictures or researching topics. I have a plan of attack this time.

It helps to be specific, so within my resolution, my crystal clear goal is to publish 9 times every month. Even if I take a blogging break, posts should still be scheduled to publish during that time. If I want to post more than nine times, those posts will just have to be published the following month, so that I can finally feel like I'm ahead. I will continue to post about either a simple pleasure or signature item every Sunday, with an exception of substituting another topic as needed. You have fair warning since I may need to do so in catching up this January! Ideally, I plan to schedule a post to go public another day of the week, so that readers can enjoy a post very few days. I am a reliable person and I want my blog to reflect that. It should have greater consistency. Twice a week is not guaranteed though as I will be satisfied with how ever I can squeeze in the four or five remaining posts after the Sunday ones, just achieving nine before month end. This is the fifth post during January, so you may expect four more before midnight going into February 1st, two on the last couple of Sundays this month and two not. That's 108 posts for the year, which is more than I have ever done. I am committed to accomplishing this goal.

In addition, I believe that I have figured out a better schedule to work on the blog. Before, I always wanted to write after dinner and chores. But from 7:30 to 8:30 in the evening, my energy is at its absolute lowest. I often cannot force myself to work on it during this crash. I have even tried drinking another espresso after lunch in order to avoid this crash. This time slot never worked and I admit defeat. I feel inspired, composing blog posts in my head, in the morning. I am usually off from work every Sunday and Monday, so I can blog in the morning and/or even early afternoon on those days. I go into work a half an hour later each Saturday, so I could work on it for 30-40 minutes before my shift. On each one of those days, my minimum is working for a half an hour, but I can work as long as I would like. The toughest part is actually to start. Once I begin, I'm on a roll. If I don't feel like blogging, only 30 minutes before checking it off my list is incentive. That's three days of working on it. If I miss one of those three, I should schedule a makeup during a weekday evening, even writing it in my planner. I would also be more likely to edit or place the finishing touches on an entry in the evening than to start a post. This schedule might fit me better.

It helps to be aware of my personality pitfalls and how to overcome them. Everything had to be perfect for me to start. I needed to be feeling creative. My perfectionistic tendencies make me procrastinate and now I will try to just do it. I also prefer things finished, but I will strive to start a post even if I know that I cannot commit to finishing it. Honestly, I should be working when inspiration strikes!

Over the past several months, I have truly managed to stay on top of so many things. It feels odd that I haven't conquered a major activity of my life yet. Now, it's beyond time to blog better. This is a creative outlet for me and maintains great importance in my life. 

2. To entertain more.
I enjoy entertaining. I also adore the idea of becoming a fabulous hostess. If my income had been greater, then I would have hosted more in the past. But the beauty of a budget is that it enables you to spend dedicated money on what you want and need, cutting other non-essentials. I plan to make dinner parties and other gatherings a priority. If money is tight, then I could orchestrate a potluck meal! At my current job, I will be able to entertain more during the summer than the winter, so the amount I entertain will actually vary based on time of the year.

Recently, I have created an entertaining box. In this nice red shoebox-sized container, I stored food and drink items that I will only serve when I have guests. I have wanted to do this for awhile! Plus, my like-minded friend Kate from Seeking Small brought this idea up to me! Right now, there are three boxes of crackers! Carbs = love, after all! Townhouse Italian Herb Flatbread Crisps are a recently discovery and are simply delicious, but such a flavor punch! I also have the Hint of Salt variety of Triscuits and my favorite Toasteds in Harvest Wheat. Crackers would pair with cheese that I would keep in the fridge. I also have two items for afternoon tea squeezed in. One is a box of Irish Breakfast tea bags and the other is a Bonne Maman jar of strawberry preserves (for scones). No matter how little I have in my checking account, I can now pull out a delicious treat whenever I have company. As Jennifer of The Daily Connoisseur pointed out in her last video and blog post (on batch/freezer cooking), "being chic is being prepared." 

Michelle's entertaining box.
I own two and would like one more, but they are ridiculously expensive.

Its contents.
Crackers, anyone?

Its home in my linen/entertaining closet/pantry.

3. To have fresh flowers in my home more often.
Every week, I limit myself to both a certain dollar amount and item count at both Target and the grocery store due to budget. Often, even a small bouquet of flowers at the grocery store gets cut. I want to make their purchase a priority. I love flowers and their beauty feeds my soul. Maybe I could buy them once a month during the winter and then every other week, following a payday Friday, during the spring, summer and fall. Or when I entertain!

4. To fit into my current clothing size better.
This is another way of saying I would like to lose 5 pounds and keep it off. I am a bit up in weight, still within my normal 15-pound fluctuation though, just a bit towards the higher end. I think I gained about 7 pounds during the second half of summer, then lost a pound at the end of the year and another during the new year. I don't want to go down a dress size. A lot of thought went into those clothing choices and I want to wear what I love. When a garment is tight and my curves are bulging out, I don't feel fabulous. I want to look and feel my absolute best. I want the confidence that comes with that. I love my birthday and hope to accomplish this weight loss goal by April 15th. I certainly want to look my best on my birthday. I will continue my lifelong focus on portion control to accomplish this. I believe in moderation. In savoring something decadent, but it being balanced with healthier choices. Until accomplished, I plan to abstain from a couple of foods however. I just don't love donuts, things like that, and am able to go without them completely until April 15th. Once I hit this weight loss goal, I want to maintain this weight until year end. Of course, if I lose an extra five pounds to get down to 145 lbs. for a bikini this summer (as well as the very bottom of my size typically), then that's even better!

Selfie in January

I feel like my resolutions this year are more fun-loving when compared to those of previous years. They're about a closer connection with others and seeking beauty. Flirtatious even. I am a woman ready to meet whatever adventure 2016 brings with good humor and grace.


  1. A great list of goals to work towards! I, for one, am looking forward to reading more from you this year! :)

    1. I am about to sit down to dinner, which is the leftover half of the delicious Chinese take-out the office ordered for lunch. I'm not sure if I have ever divided it into two before... It's certainly enough for two! I'm trying to fit into my clothing better.

      And thank you for your comment.

  2. I so enjoy your blog and I, too, look forward to reading more from you in the coming year ;-) Happy New Year!

  3. Darn, my comment disappeared! Anyway, I love that bento box and red...my favorite color! An entertaining box is a great idea. I haven't tried Toasteds but the other 2 are yummy! Looking forward to seeing more of your posts, sounds like you have a good outlook on 2016 :)

    1. That box is really nice. And I'm not even using the flexible built-in dividers. It's a good red too. I will likely order a third one. If you want one too, buy it on amazon, for $14.22 price as it sometimes swings up to $18.89.

      Toasteds in Harvest Wheat are my current favorite. It does taste like what but has a subtle butter or sweet note. I love it with cheddar cheese.

      Thank you so much! I'm optimistic, so always.

  4. I am glad that I finally got a chance to check out this place. Great views, food is nice. The quality of service at LA venues was great, and the environment were pretty comfortable. I’ll say I will look forward to visit again.