Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 To-Do List: 4th and Final Recap

At the beginning of the year, I made a 2014 To-Do List with four things I really wanted to accomplish in the new year:

#1. Blog more reastically.
#2. Cook more.
#3. Participate in more races.
#4. Read more.

If you missed the first three recaps, they can be found here:
2014 To-Do List: 1st Recap
2014 To-Do List: 2nd Recap
2014 To-Do List: 3rd Recap

So, here we go for the 4th and final recap!

#1. Blog more reastically. 
Um, yeah. I know I didn't. haha. Until December, that is! December and my 25 Days of Christmas are the only reasons I have so many blogs in the last quarter of the year! haha

#2. Cook more.
Well, I've just really decided I enjoy baking a whole lot more than cooking.  Not to say that I haven't cooked, just not nearly as much as I had hoped when I added this to my to-do list at the beginning of the year.  I tried this awesome Monkey Bread recipe on Thanksgiving that's super easy and will definitely be making it again!!  Also, I used Memaw's recipe and made her cheeseball for the first good!!  Oh, and I can't forget Maple's Christmas Cookies I made! ;)

#3. Participate in more races.
The last three months was an exciting time for races!! There was one that Mom and I were supposed to do that unfortunately was cancelled the week prior.  :(  

In October, I signed up for a virtual race to have some extra motivation in my half marathon training.  I signed up for the Halloween 10K and completed that! I came across the US Road Running website somehow, and it's very neat--you can choose from a WIDE variety of races to compete in, all with different themes.  Since it's a virtual race, you can run or walk anywhere or any time, but they do give you a deadline.  After you complete the distance, you log-in to your account on their site and log your finishing time.  Also, you can choose to sign up for either a 5K, 10K or even half marathon for some.  I don't recall seeing any marathon ones, but that doesn't mean there aren't any!
It costs under $20 to sign up, and you're mailed a race bib and finisher's medal for completing it!  You can also choose to spend about $25 dollars, and you get a shirt to go with it! I have so many race shirts, so I just wanted the bib and medal.  While you really don't get the race environment for the virtual races, as you would in a big event you go to, it's still not that bad.  You can run WHERE you want to and WHEN you want to...just sign up for an event!! Plus, it helps when you want to run a race, and there aren't any nearby at the time!

Also, I completed my first half marathon!!!!  Then came the fun Christmas races!!! First on the list was the Christmastown 8K! It was a BLAST!!  The following weekend, we all did the Tacky Light Run, which was at night so we could see all the tacky light houses! Super cool!

#4. Read more.
Yeah, so, I didn't read any books these last three months. Whomp.I started a book yesterday....if that should count! haha

And here's the final look back at the year:

#1. Blog more realistically.
Original Goal: Blog 2-3 times a week.
Accomplished: So, if I wanted to blog, on average, 2-3 times a week for the year, that meant I would've needed 104-156 blog posts.  This year, I had 100 blog posts. So I was close, but only because of December!!

I broke it down by month so I can look back and see which months I really slacked on...haha

January: 7
February: 4
March 7:
April: 8
May: 9
June: 7
July: 10
August: 6
September 6:
October: 4
November: 5
December: 27  (including this one!)

#2. Cook more.
Original Goal: Find some good recipes and cook more often.
Accomplished:  Well, I actually did a little better on this than I thought. The beginning of the year, I started out stronger when making MEALS, but then snacks and baked goods just became my "go-to" haha. I made a grand total of 13 new things (that I documented....who knows, I may have made something that I didn't blog and I've forgotten about it!!)! Hey, that's about an average of one new thing a month! haha.

In January-March, I made: Jep's Best Baked Beans, Jep's Meatloaf Choice, Willie's Famous Chicken Strips, coffee cake, BBQ bacon wrapped chicken tenders, and roasted peppers.
In April-June, I made: guacamole, mango salsa, and mango smoothies for after my runs!
In July-September, I made: Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole and orzo salad recipe
In October-December, I didn't do much, but tried a couple new recipes (see above), and I definitely remember making chex mix and pretzel rings! :) Mmmmmm.

#3. Participate in more races.
Original Goal: Sign up for more fun races I want to participate in.
Accomplished: This was my favorite thing on my to-do list!!! I had so much fun finding new races to sign up for and complete, and I'm pretty proud of all that we did! I did 8 races this year (because 2 of the races I signed up for were cancelled at the last minute; and other races sold out FAST. Maybe next year :)

In January-March: The only race we did at the beginning of the year was the Monument Avenue 10K...but that's's an annual event that we all always look forward to!
In April-June: Mom and I walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure with some of our family friends. Matt and I also did The Color Vibe!!
In July-September: We only did one race, but this was a BIG ONE. Matt, Dad and I completed the Spartan race!!  HUGE accomplishment.
In October-December: As I just mentioned above, I completed the Halloween 10K, the half marathon, the Christmastown 8K, and we did the Tacky Light Run!

#4. Read more.
Original Goal: Read more books for fun.
Accomplished: The middle of the year is where this to-do list item succeeded!!!!  This year, I read a grand total of 34 books!

Here's the breakdown by quarter of how many books I read:

January-March: 2
April-June: 12
July-September: 20
October-December: 0

And here's a list of all the books I read:

Melissa Explains it All by Melissa Joan Hart
Reshaping it All by Candace Cameron Bure
Growing Up Duggar by Jana Duggar, Jessa Duggar, Jinger Duggar and Jill Duggar
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
Si-cology 101 by Si Robertson with Mark Schlabach
The Duck Commander Family by Willie & Korie Robertson and Mark Schlaback
Mates, Dates & Cosmic Kisses by Cathy Hopkins
Mates, Dates & Chocolate Cheats by Cathy Hopkins
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs
Innocent in Las Vegas by A. R. Winters
Why 26.2? by Bonnie Jean Schaefer
Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson with March Schlabach
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Hairspray and Homicide by Cindy Bell
The Women of Duck Commander by Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica and Lisa Robertson
The St. Valentine's Day Cookie Massacre by Elisabeth Crabtree
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Side Effects May Very by Julie Murphy
Cruel Summer by Alyson Noël
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
A Sixteenth Summer Novel - Pulled Under by Michelle Dalton
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Maple's First Christmas (With Us!)

There's no doubt about it...we love our dog! Maple is the perfect addition to our house and family!  We also love how much our families love her!

For Christmas, Maple received lots of new toys and treats (just like she asked Santa Paws for), and she loves having so many new things to play with.  At least, I assume she does, haha.

On Christmas Eve, before Christmas Eve service, Mom and Abby stopped by to give Maple her first presents:

"Hmmm...I know there's something in here somewhere!"

 A new jacket!


They also gave her (us) this new Christmas ornament. I love it!!

Later on Christmas Eve, we took Maple over to Matt's parent's house, where she received more treats!

Maple's present from Dad got left in the car, so he brought it by after Christmas.

"I know that's for me...I want one!"

"These are so good!"

More paper to play with!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

25 Days of Christmas: Day 25


I hope everyone enjoyed Christmas!!  It seemed like the whole day went so quickly!!

As always on the holidays, we had a busy day, starting early, and ending after dinner.  We did manage a break in between this year, and I even found time for a 15 minute nap. (Just 15 minutes?? That's it?!)  But, as crazy as the day might be, I enjoy it because we get to see so many family all in one day!!  We might have to rush off from one place sooner than we'd like to, but we try to fit in as much as we can.

Because I was so caught up in enjoying Christmas, I don't have many pictures of the entire day.  I only have two pictures on my phone from today.  TWO.  One of our Christmas tree lit up when I got up this morning, and one of Matt and me when we got home this evening.  That's it.  I did have my camera out in the morning while we did gifts here and then with Mom's side of the family before breakfast, but after that, my camera never made another appearance.  Unfortunately, because everything was so rushed, most of the pictures are really blurry. :(  I wish there was a way I could fix them now....or go back in time and fix the light/settings/everything. haha.  Also, being the one who takes the pictures most of the time, there are never as many of me it seems!  Hmm..need to do something about that!

Part of me is sad that I don't have more pictures, but the other part of me is glad I didn't add one more thing to do.  Plus, I was with Matt's family during all the other times, so I know his mom has lots of pictures :)

Our tree this morning..

I know, I know.  Call me cheesy.

Looks like Santa Paws and Santa Claus came!

Maple sees toys!!

"Deddy, give me that cookie!!!!"

 Maple loves her Tigger.

So many toys (and clothes!).  Thanks to Santa Paws and Auntie Abby.

"Do you guys think there's anything else for me around here?"

Kisses for Deddy.

Awww, Maple loves her new bag from Deddy. (Momma loves it too!)

I have been so excited about this gift for Matt, and it's been hard to keep it a secret!
He finally got a waffle maker!

Love these next two of Maple!

Headed out for family time!

Helping carrying gifts..

Ok, you see that HUGE rope toy on the mantle?  That's for Annie, obviously.  That toy didn't stand a chance!  She started shredding it in no time!  It was hilarious!  Every time she had torn it up more, she's walk around the room, carrying it, like, "Look everyone, look at my progress!!" haha

Abby had some great expressions this year...

I got this awesome Origami Owl necklace with a sparkly snowflake inside!
Apparently I was too anxious and excited to put it kinda looks like everyone just ditched me! haha

This next series of pictures...just watch Abby's face change from confusion to excitement!

LOVE this new candle!!!!!!

Annie still chewing away...

Then, Abby got a new coat.  And realized that she matched her new Indian statue. haha

Dad's clever wrapping

Apparently, after reading my blog posts, he realizes I need a rolling pin.  An empty beer bottle will only work for so long....haha

Matt's great new sign!

This was my favorite part of the morning.  I get excited to pick out gifts for people and then see their reactions.  So, I was excited for everyone to open what we gave them!

...Annie still going to town...

Home for the night..just in time for some Maple snuggles :)

That's all for this post, and that concludes this year's 25 Days of Christmas!
But, this isn't the end for the Christmas posts! I still have lots of pictures to share!! :)

And, if you have any ideas for next year's 25 Days, start throwing them out there!  
I do have several ideas myself, but you might've thought of something I haven't yet!