Week 2 of 52: My 19 for 2019

1: Focus on healthy daily habits: yoga, water, fruits and veggies, and activity

When I’m good, it’s easy to stay good. When I’m bad, I can be really bad. Thankfully, I started off the week by attending a restorative yoga class and that helped set the tone for the rest of the week. With the exception of one morning, I did well with starting off my day with a big glass of water before coffee and then guzzled day enough of the wet stuff to keep me hydrated.

I did eat more fruits and veggies than usual, but I’m still not hitting my daily target so I placed a big fruit and veggie order last week. I have a ton of clementines, zucchinis, avocados, and other green goodies for us to eat our way through before they go bad.

Speaking of food, my experiment with meal kit deliveries has been very mixed. The one we tried out two weeks ago had delicious, easy to make meals but we were both starving after dinner because the portions were smaller than we would normally eat. I could add a salad or a side from our pantry, but part of my desire to occasionally use these services is to stay out of the grocery store or having to do any additional thinking or planning. We’re going to do this service one more time this week to see if it’s worth the occasional delivery, and I have plenty of veggies to make a side dish or a salad so we’re not pulling out a bag of tortilla chips when we’re still hungry after dinner.

I’m giving up on the second delivery service that I tried. Sadly, it was the one I was really rooting for because it had a lot of great pescatarian meal options and organic veggies. It ended up falling flat with every recipe. While the portions were generous enough to fill us up, the meals themselves were bland and the seafood didn’t seem to be the best quality. I ended up throwing away one cooked meal entirely because it tasted so bad.

2: Read 25 books

I finished my first book of the year! Click here to read my review of Rock Needs River. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can download this book for free during the month of January through their First Reads program.

3: Get dog barking and door behavior under control

Text to my husband

Text to my husband

Many of the dog training blogs that I’ve read online have said to ignore the dog while they’re barking. The bad behavior will disappear because what the dog wants is your attention. These dog trainers have clearly not met our dogs. Also, how long can you listen to two small but very loud dogs barking before you do react?

This week while doing a little research before finally booking an appointment with the trainer, I came across an article that said to thank the dogs for alerting you by barking. Normally, I tell our dogs no thanks or no, but for the past few days I’ve thanked the dogs for drawing my attention to the mailman/squirrel/kids getting off the school bus/wind/loud car driving down the street. I’ve also made a weird ah-ah-ah sound when they keep barking. Much to my shock, this seems to be somewhat working at least with Thor. The first time I made the ah-ah-ah sound he looked at me like I had three heads. It does not seem to be working with Barkley as much, and while he’s more reactive than Thor is when he gets excited, it’s usually Thor who starts the barking and Barkley follows.

Just staring out the window trying to find stuff to bark at

Just staring out the window trying to find stuff to bark at

We had friends over on Saturday and while the dogs didn’t offer the sweet, calm, docile greeting I dream of, they were much better behaved. Who knows if this is a long term solution, but I’m willing to give a few more ah-ah-ah’s to see!

4: Get dressed up once a month and go on a date (with my husband)

We had a sushi date for lunch yesterday, but I was dressed in my usual (sweatshirt or equivalent) attire so it doesn’t count as a dress up date.

I’ve been eying the calendar of a theater that opened up a few blocks away from our house. I really want our neighborhood to become more walkable so I’d like to support this place by attending shows and giving them my money, but their performances seem to be a little more experimental and I’m decidedly pretty straitlaced and boring. I’m hoping that they’ll add a few concerts or musical performances to the mix.

5: Makeover master bathroom

Week 2 of 52: My 19 for 2019 update

We had friends over to our house for the first time last night and I was kind of embarrassed by the paint samples on the wall. Maybe the secret to finally getting motivated enough to finish this room is to keep inviting friends over and showing them our bathroom!

6: Secret (for now) project

Still secret.

7: Write! Write! Write!

It is so good to be back in my writing group! We meet weekly at the senior citizen center and are led for two hours by our feisty and funny teacher. These people are so kind, funny, and encouraging. And talented! I have so much to learn, and all of my classmates are good teachers.

8: Be more social

Macaroons for the road after a tea date with girlfriends. This was a very social week for me. A+

Macaroons for the road after a tea date with girlfriends. This was a very social week for me. A+

9: Post regularly on Instagram

Two posts this week:

10: Automate bill payments

Still doing this the hard way. I’d like to get everything automated before our February bills are due.

11: Go on 10 camping trips

We’ve already knocked out our first trip! I’ll post soon about our eventful trip to Northern California.

12: Plant a garden and grow 125 pounds of produce

I’ll be starting seeds in a few weeks based on this handy calendar.

I’m thinking this year I’ll grow:
Early girl, sun gold, cherry, and heirloom tomatoes
Meslun and leaf lettuce
Kale and collard greens
Zucchini and squash
Cucumbers
Basil, mint, and parsley

Am I missing anything?

13: Go on girls’ trip to the hot springs

Still working on this.

14: Perfect home cleaning routine

The zone system plan was a failure last week, but we’re trying it again this week.

15: Fashion makeover

Not cute.

Can someone just nominate me to be on Queer Eye please?

16: Complete 12 craft projects

0 down, 12 to go!

17: Launch FOLL website and create email template

Working on the home page!

18: Clean out and organize cabinets and closets (and keep them that way)

I watched an episode of the Marie Kondo show this week, but still no progress on the cabinets. Can someone nominate me to be on her show too?

19: Spend less time on my phone

I’m still spending too much time on my phone, but I’m down 15% from last week’s car trip binge and nearly three hours of my phone time this week was reading Rock Needs River on my Kindle app.

What are you working toward in 2019?

I’d love to hear about your goals in the comments!

Book Review of Rock Needs River

While this book posits itself as an open adoption story, I would argue it centers more on Vanessa McGrady’s winding journey toward and complicated feelings about becoming a mother. And she seems to be a very good one at that. She’s a fiercely loving and protective mother, which redeems the more complicated, flawed, and frustrating parts of herself that she puts forth in this book.  - Review of Rocks Meets River by Vaness McGrady

This book was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me. I started off loving it — couldn’t put down — then toward the middle I grew frustrated and almost deleted it, but I decided to push through and I’m glad that I did.

I enjoyed the writing style, each page filled with a gritty sort of honesty that makes me feel uncomfortable and cringe inside, yet draws me in more. You can feel the author’s pain and longing as she realizes that she wants to become a mother while barreling through several failed romantic relationships. Despite some misgivings, I began rooting for her and hoped that she could get it together and make her dreams of a child come true.

When she is unable to have her own biological child, she, along with her husband, adopts her daughter from a couple experiencing homelessness. Much of the book explores her unraveling relationships with her spouse and her child’s biological parents.

While beautifully written, I often found myself wanting to shake the protagonist due to a lack of self-awareness and her occasional bad behavior. I wish this was a work of fiction instead of a memoir because I think it would have quelled my anxiety over how this book might damage her relationship with her loved ones in real life, and my concern that her daughter’s story isn’t hers to tell.

While this book posits itself as an open adoption story, I would argue it centers more on Vanessa McGrady’s winding journey toward and complicated feelings about becoming a mother. And she seems to be a very good one at that. She’s a fiercely loving and protective mother, which redeems the more complicated, flawed, and frustrating parts of herself that she puts forth in this book.

Read this book for free!

I downloaded Rock Needs River through Amazon’s First Reads. Each month, Prime subscribers get early access to new releases and can typically download one or two books for free. It’s how I found two of my favorite books from last year!

No Kindle? No problem! I actually read this book on my iPhone app.

Three bits of sunshine

Class starts!

For most of last year, I was part of a writing group that met at our local senior center. I love being in a school/classroom setting and my fellow writers were so encouraging and talented, so it really filled my cup. But last fall, I decided to take a break and what a mistake that was! My class starts again today and I can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to and read their incredible short stories and prompts.

Technology!

While the internet can sometimes be the worst (hello, trolls), it can also allow us to connect with loved ones far away in ways we couldn’t otherwise. This week a good friend received some really bad news and I felt so powerless and wanted to do something nice. If the physical distance wasn’t so great, I would have whipped up a good old fashioned Midwestern casserole to drop off. That wasn’t an option, so instead I was able to have some food and other items delivered to their door. I used Prime Now, but Like Neighbors or a similar service are all great ways to help out if you find yourself in the same situation.

New vacuum!

After debating whether to get a new vacuum for way too long and then which one, I finally bought one! I chose to go with a Dyson that was on sale, and I’m glad that I did. It does a very good cleaning the floors and the couch. It was horrifying and fascinating to vacuum a few rugs that were recently cleaned with our old model and see how much yucky stuff came up! Ew. I think this will work wonderfully for every day cleaning jobs (I tend to vacuum about every other day because I have long hair plus two very furry puppies), but we’ll still keep our ‘ol reliable plug in vacuum for big jobs like when we baking soda the couch and rugs every once in a while.

Week 1 of 52: My 19 for 2019

1: Focus on healthy daily habits: yoga, water, fruits and veggies, and activity

We were on the road much of this past week and I didn’t get in as many veggies and good things that I’d like, and I can feel it. Next week is a chance to make myself proud and do the things that make my body and mind feel good. I’ve signed up for three yoga classes and we’re getting a Sun Basket delivery on Monday so we can get back on a good path before I get back to grocery shopping and our normal routine.

2: Read 25 books

I took half a dozen books on our trip, but only managed to read two magazines and flip through the pictures and skim a few paragraphs of Adventure Roads of Oregon. It is a library book, but I think we’ll end up purchasing it because it’s filled with great information for dry camping and adventuring in Oregon, plus the photos are incredible. While on the road, I downloaded Body Love based on Rachel Hollis’s suggestion — the Kindle version is only $1.99 right now.

3: Get dog barking and door behavior under control

I emailed a trainer that has good reviews on Yelp before we left. I heard back from his office staff and I need to do a little more research before I go ahead and book a session. If it works, it will be well worth the money but it’s not cheap.

4: Get dressed up once a month and go on a date (with my husband)

We’re thinking about going to a show next month, but still brainstorming for January. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

5: Makeover master bathroom

Still staring at those paint samples on the wall…

Still staring at those paint samples on the wall…

6: Secret (for now) project

Still secret.

7: Write! Write! Write!

I signed up for my writing class and I’m excited to start it this week!

8: Be more social

I chitchatted with a bunch of strangers while on our camping trip so I’m going to consider that social enough for this past week!

9: Post regularly on Instagram

No posts this week.

10: Automate bill payments

Still doing this the hard way.

11: Go on 10 camping trips

We’ve already knocked out our first trip! I’ll post soon about our trip to Northern California.

12: Plant a garden and grow 125 pounds of produce

I’m excited to get my garden started! I’ll be starting seeds in a few weeks based on this handy calendar.

13: Go on girls’ trip to the hot springs

No trip planned yet.

14: Perfect home cleaning routine

This was an easy one for this week! We were out of town for the week and we had cleaned the house before we left.

My friend Kelly had this great advice: “I’m sure you already use a dry swiffer but if not, that’s incredible for a quick dog hair sweep. And I use those pamphlets from the housekeeping services in the mail to eyeball what “they” are supposed to do on a rotating schedule to see what I could do.”

My husband suggested that we try using a zone system in our house to see if it would help us keep things cleaner and more evenly split, so we’re going to give it a go. I’ll let you all know how it goes!

15: Fashion makeover

This week of camping didn’t exactly lead to any fashun moments for me. Sticking this travel pic from JLD here as inspo for a practical and put together look for while on the road.

16: Complete 12 craft projects

0 down, 12 to go!

17: Launch FOLL website and create email template

We picked out a template for the website and I’m going to start working on it in this week. I’m so excited!

18: Clean out and organize cabinets and closets (and keep them that way)

Scared to even open the doors. Time to watch the Marie Kondo show for inspo?

19: Spend less time on my phone

Oh holy geezearoni, I just took a peek at my phone usage for the past week while I was riding shotgun on the road. It’s scary!

What are you working toward in 2019?

I’d love to hear about your goals in the comments!

My 19 for 2019

2018 is coming to a close and I’m not sad to see her go. While it wasn’t an entirely bad year, it didn't exactly feel like a great one either. I’m hopeful that 2019 will be full of many happy memories and lots of good stuff happening.

I don’t usually make New Years Resolutions, but this year I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s 18 for 2018 and one of my fave bloggers Mavis Butterfield’s weekly goals updates, so I’m going to try this out. Some of these items are long term, some are short term and could be completed in a weekend, and a few of them may not be finished at all. And that’s ok! This is just what I’m striving toward this year.

1: Focus on healthy daily habits: yoga, water, fruits and veggies, and activity

Positive thoughts: this year I am going to attend yoga at least twice a week, drink 12 ounces of water before coffee or tea in the morning and then 44 more ounces throughout the rest of the day, eat all of my servings of fruit and vegetables each day, and close my activity rings on my watch.

2: Read 25 books

These faces. So full of sweetness and so much barkiness.

These faces. So full of sweetness and so much barkiness.

3: Get dog barking and door behavior under control

You know that we love our puppies. Maybe too much. But one thing that we haven’t done super well is teach them manners. They bark all day long and their excitement when we come home and have guests over drives us, but especially me, a little bonkers. Since we can’t seem to fix it on our own, we’re going to call in the big guns and get some professional help. Here’s hoping for some (mostly) bark free, but cuddle filled days ahead!

4: Get dressed up once a month and go on a date (with my husband)

5: Makeover master bathroom

I painted sample colors on the wall an embarrassing amount of time — uh, a year or two ago? — and that’s about as far as I got in fixing up this space. I’d like to keep it really simple by finally slapping some paint on the wall and maybe swapping out the light fixtures and adding shelves on the wall and…

6: Secret (for now) project

This is something that I’ve dreamed of doing for a long time. I’m keeping it a secret for now, but plan on telling you all about it later this year.

7: Write! Write! Write!

I’m not a great writer, but it is something that brings me a lot of joy. I’m going to rejoin my writing group to keep the creativity flowing.

8: Be more social

Totally ‘grammable walk with these guys today #justwaittilitrains #iboughtthemraincoats

A post shared by bec b. (@sunshineshed) on

9: Post regularly on Instagram

10: Automate bill payments

I pay our bills and invariably, at least two or three times a month, I panic and worry that I’ve forgotten to pay one. Then I start stress sweating while frantically logging in to all of our accounts to double check. Is this normal or a personality quirk? Either way, I’d really love to sit down once a month to pay the bills and then not think (too much) about them until the next time they come due. Do you have a system, program, or budget app that helps you with this? I’d love to hear about it. In the past, I’ve tried checklists, phone reminders, and budget categories. The bills always get paid on time, I just continue to worry that I’ve forgotten one. Some bills are on autopay, but even so I worry about them. Am I a lost cause?!

11: Go on 10 camping trips

My helper plus a small veggie garden haul

My helper plus a small veggie garden haul

12: Plant a garden and grow 125 pounds of produce

It took me several years of failure, but I’m finally getting decent at gardening. Last summer, I grew a little over 40 pounds of produce in our raised beds! I think I can do much better in 2019 if I get my seeds started earlier and convince my husband to build me a few more beds…

13: Go on girls’ trip to the hot springs

14: Perfect home cleaning routine

I feel like we’re always cleaning, but our home never feels clean. Getting a house keeper isn’t in the cards at the moment and neither is getting rid of my husband or dogs, so what’s a girl to do? Guess we’ll find out…

15: Fashion makeover

I’m in need of a serious hair and fashion makeover.

16: Complete 12 craft projects

17: Launch FOLL website and create email template

I’m going to help the friends of my local library create a standalone website to help them get members more involved and have an easier way to renew registration and donate online. The email template will also help them save money as they are currently mailing out quarterly newsletters.

18: Clean out and organize cabinets and closets (and keep them that way)

19: Spend less time on my phone

What are you working toward in 2019?

Tips for the best binge watching experience + 11 shows you need to watch

This coming Friday marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. If you're young and hip, that means more socially acceptable time for cocktails — yay for youthfulness! — but for the rest of us, that just means extra darkness. It’s a nice contrast from the typical gray days of the PNW this time of year if you ask me. 👋 If you don’t have holiday party plans this weekend, here are my best tips for binge watching your way through 48 hours.

The setting

I much prefer binge watching on a couch to chair or a bed. Our is this one from Crate & Barrel, which is pretty large and can comfortably fit three to four dogs and a sprawled out human.

Dog sitting my parents’ dogs plus our two four legged friends

Dog sitting my parents’ dogs plus our two four legged friends

We have new-ish vertical blinds since the dogs destroyed our old ones (shown in the pic above) while trying to terrify our kind neighborhood mailman. It gets so dark and cozy in our living room now that we don’t have gaping, dog head sized holes in the corners! I like to turn on the electric fireplace and cuddle under a blanket.

You’re the Worst. No, not you. It’s the name of the show I’m watching.

You’re the Worst. No, not you. It’s the name of the show I’m watching.

Necessities

Here are a few must-haves for optimizing your binge watching experience.

Best pajamas ever for binge watching TV

Soft, comfy, and classy looking enough to fool you into thinking you’re not a slob after hour four of Billions.

Buy
Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 1.23.47 PM.png

Luxurious and the perfect weight. Available in Costco for about half the price if you can find it in store.

Buy

Accessories

A few add ons to upgrade your experience.

Accessories+for+binge+watching

Sometimes you binge a show that your spouse is more into than you are (love you boo), and a puzzle is your saving grace. Sci-fi shows be damned!

Buy
Accessories+for+binge+watching

Puppy cuddles! Barks & Thor are not currently for sale (unless they break the new blinds — I kid!). If you don’t have a pup, it might be time to get one!

Snacks

It’s v. v. very important to keep your energy up, especially if you’re watching a thriller.

Snacks for binge watching TV

This is my current go-to bev. Most days, it’s a mocktail, but occasionally I like to add a splash of tequila (stop judging me, Charlene).

Put ice in your glass, fill up one third of the way with pomegranate juice, top with Italian soda (Trader Joe’s lemon is my favorite), squeeze a wedge of lime, and then a splash of tequila if you’re feeling feisty. Enjoy!

Snacks for binge watching TV

I like to make a snacky plate for watching TV. A little cheese, some crackers, a few nuts, olives, and something sweet is a perfect combo. The goat cheese selection at Trader Joe’s is my favorite and you can’t lose if you pick up some dolma while you’re there.

Other fantastic options: pita and hummus, chips and salsa, apples and peanut butter

Shows

Here are my favorite binge-worthy shows. Some are current with recent or upcoming seasons. Some are oldies but goodies.

What to watch on Prime Video

Hilarious, endearing, and occasionally naughty. We’re saving season 2 for our next road trip.

WATCH HERE

Delightful even if slightly predictable, I was sad when this three part series concluded.

WATCH HERE

This fast paced and thrilling show will make you have very confusing feelings about Jim Halpert.

WATCH HERE

What to watch on Netflix

I’m typically not a fan of sci-fi, but I can watch this show puzzle free.

WATCH HERE

Hilarious and absolutely absurd. I worry in my most dramatic moments that I’m Moira.

WATCH HERE

Super weird! Can’t wait for season 2, which was filmed in my public library (RIP).

WATCH HERE

Shows on Hulu

Holy geeze oh petes! Addicting, super freaky, and a little mentally draining. Take a Golden Girls break after each episode.

WATCH HERE

Supe supe super inappropriate, so if you’re reading this Mamaw: please stick to Parenthood.

WATCH HERE

I had a teensy bit of an emotional breakdown when this series ended (sorry, hubby). Worth a watch or a rewatch.

WATCH HERE

Shows on Premium Channels

I dislike all of the main characters of this show, but I can’t walk away. We have cheap access to Showtime thanks to this student deal through Spotify, but for everyone else here’s a free week trial.

I am only mildly embarrassed to admit that I watched 90% of this show one Sunday. Here’s a free week trial to HBO. I will happily pay for a (short-term) subscription when season 2 comes out.

My 18 favorite books from 2018

A list of the 18 best books that I read in 2018, including Rachel Hollis's Girl Wash Your Face and Gretchen Rubin's The Four Tendencies. Many of these books would be great selections for your book club. Enjoy!

These are some of the best books that I read this past year. Some made me laugh. Some made me cry, but don’t worry I’m cheap so you don’t have to buy: all of them should be available at your local public library. Read on!

Self help-y

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you need a kick in the pants

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you need a mind and body reset

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you need personal insight

Personal finance

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you need a money mindset reset

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you want to run away to the woods

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you realize money can’t buy happiness

Couldn’t put it down

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you’ve ever wondered what your therapist is thinking

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you want a book that I read because

♛Chrissy Teigen♛ tweeted about it

Historical fiction + biographies

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you crave beautiful (and 💔) storytelling

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you’re fascinated by Americans joining the Royal Family

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you’re interested in lifestyles of the OG rich and famous

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you want a seemingly rags to riches story

Goofy chick lit

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you need a silly distraction

My 18 favorite books from 2018

If you feel like your life is a mess

Worth a mention

Hilarious, but kinda R-rated

Hilarious, but kinda R-rated

Four things I can't stop thinking about

Too many women are dying in childbirth

This post terrifies me as someone who hopes to give birth someday. US maternal mortality rates are much higher than those in the developed world, especially for black women. California is the seeming exception to the rule, leading the way to healthier outcomes for women with a 55% reduction in maternal deaths due to protocols adopted in 2006.

This book has everything. Self reflection. Deeper understanding. The answer to the questions you didn’t know you know you wanted to ask.

In all seriousness, I read this book last weekend and found it to be incredibly helpful and worth a mention in case there are any fellow Obligers reading this.

Check it out from your local library and let me know what you think. I’ve already requested a few of her other books.

My favorite pajamas of all time

They are so soft and comfy. I have worn them at least once weekly for almost a year and a half and they’re still holding up. I like to wear them with a tank underneath. (Not an announcement. I just like the length for layering)

Pro tip: buy PJs in a color that complements your skin tone. For someone pale like me, jewel tones work. Mine are in purple, which doesn’t seem to be available at the moment so go with solid green instead.

You bet your boot(ie)s

I have spent two years searching the internet and shoe stores far and wide for a pair of comfortable, cute, affordable, and waterproof-ish (because Oregon) booties. If you have a pair that you’d like to nominate, please leave a link in the comments!