The Top 3 Ways I Welcome the New Year

The Top 3 Ways I Welcome the New Year

With every New Year comes a rush of energy and thought processes. Resolutions are often times geared towards health, fitness, organization, doing more, giving more, changing habits. Something about the turn over of the calendar year sparks energy around wanting to better ourselves. While I am not a big believer in setting New Years Resolutions, I do think that this is a great time to ride that energy wave and set some goals. There’s nothing like a fresh start, and the first of the year is a natural time to start new.

The top 3 ways I like to welcome the New Year are to Clean up and Downsize, Set up a Calendar, and Set Attainable Goals for January.

Clean Up and Downsize:

Once the holidays are over, my first step is to clean up. Our family celebrates Christmas, which comes with a host of decorations, wrapping supplies and inevitably new gifts scattered all around. Come New Years Day we are ready to pack everything up for next year. Putting away our wrapping supplies, taking down the decorations and removing the tree from our living room can already create a sense of relief. As much as I enjoy Christmas, having an open space back in our living room already gives me the visual sense that we magically have more room! A quick clean of the house always gives me a sense of starting fresh. Just having to vacuum up the pesky pine needles means I know have a freshly cleaned floor…bonus! There’s nothing like a clean floor, or a freshly organized kitchen that makes me want to keep it that way.

My next step is to try and downsize. With all of the new gifts coming in it’s a great time to eliminate and downsize on some of our unused items. If you have children, when you bring in new toys take a few minutes to remove toys that are no longer being played with. This is a perfect opportunity to choose toys for donations and gift to children who didn’t have such a fruitful holiday. As your children get older, encourage them to participate in this. You will be helping them develop a sense of pride and giving. Being aware of what we are blessed to have and how we can provide to those less fortunate are life lessons that will certainly stay with your children. And, it clears up some space in your house!

Set up a Calendar:

I don’t make fancy layouts, but do enjoy using a bullet journal for my list making. Each day I use a new page with my daily to-do list, and then I keep a number of running lists. Some examples might be recipe ideas, grocery lists, on going to-do’s, etc. I try and keep my daily to-do lists realistic, and the running to-do list a list of everything I would like to complete. Being able to check things off my lists is hugely motivating for me, but seeing a list that I barely made a dent in can seriously keep me up at night. If I have completed my daily list, and end up with spare time, I just check my running to-do list and see what else I have time to accomplish. My productivity tends to sky rocket when I feel like I’m really making progress.

Our family has always struggled to sync our calendars, so this year we are going old school and giving a paper calendar in the Kitchen a try. I use my phone to organize my personal calendar and work calendar, but I’m not always able to keep up with my husbands schedule. This year we are hopeful that having something hanging in the kitchen will be the visual reminder we need. It should certainly cut down on our arguments around whether we remembered to tell each other about a schedule change! You have to find a system that works best for your family, and really work to implement it!

Set attainable goals for January:

Look at the year and set a long range goal, then break that down to small chunks. If I don’t have a long range goal, setting goals just for the month is my go to. I then take that goal and break it down even smaller so that I know it is something attainable. When I sat down to think about what I wanted to achieve in January my list was long! Some examples were:

  • Drink more water
  • Use a meal plan
  • Bring lunch to work
  • Track our spending
  • Read 1 book

That’s a lot! Then I worried that I was setting my sites too high and would be setting myself up for failure. So I took each of those goals and I broke them down into more achievable chunks.

  • Drink more water – 8 oz. in the morning, 8 oz. in the afternoon
  •  Use a meal plan – Block off time on Sundays, plan 5 meals
  •  Bring lunch to work – pack lunch in the evenings so that I’m ready to just grab it in the morning.
  • Track our Spending – enter our weekly spends each Saturday rather than at the end of the month.
  • Read 1 book – read for 20 minutes 2x a week

I’m also giving myself the flexibility to know that goals change and adjust and it’s just for one month. By February I will know how well, or not, my goals went and will have a better idea of what comes next.

How do you greet the New Year? Do you set resolutions? If so, are you able to keep them for the full year?

Cheers to a successful 2018!

Welcoming 2016

Happy New Year!  I absolutely love this time of year, for me it has always been about fresh starts and new beginnings.  I don’t usually do “New Years Resolutions” because I generally set myself up for failure.  But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a time to start fresh and a time for thinking ahead to what we can accomplish in the new year.

This year we are looking forward to many things, particularly finding a place to call our “home”.  And we have certainly started off the year full force ahead!  We visited 8 homes today.  Talk about exhausting!  In the meantime we have major budgeting goals and will be starting to put into place the debt snowball method.  We haven’t checked out Dave Ramsey’s book yet, but if you are interested in learning more about the Debt Snowball Method I would recommend checking out his book: The Total Money Makeover.

In addition having relocated Simply Living to this location, and finally purchasing our own domain, is a big New Year step!  Out with the old and in with the new!  I’m excited for the potential that this new location has to offer us and I’m excited that you are all along for the journey!

And now, here is how we ended 2015…

Homemade Donuts!
Homemade Donuts!

That’s right…we made homemade donuts!  It’s been years since we’ve done a NYE party, and tend to prefer staying in and enjoying each other’s company instead.  So this year we decided on games and appetizers, and then to try a new recipe for dessert.  Gotta check off another month, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, check out my Ravioli post where I talk about my birthday wish.

The best part is how easy this recipe was.  You would never be able to tell based on how amazing they tasted.  We only needed to purchase one ingredient, we already had the rest in the kitchen, and it took less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients needed:

  • Pillsbury Homestyle Biscuits
  • Melted Butter (about 1 cup)
  • Cinnamon and Sugar mixed together, use judgement, we mixed until light brown.
  • Oil for frying (We used vegetable Oil)

That’s it…told you it was easy!

Step 1:

Cut the donut hole out with a cookie cutter.  We didn’t have a circle, so we used a star, and it was straight up adorable.

Star donut holes, because, why not?!
Star donut holes, because, why not?!

Step 2:

Warm oil in pan on medium high.  Add biscuits and brown on each side.  The middle still seems gooey, but I promise that will make them soft and delightful.

Brown biscuits in warm oil
Brown biscuits in warm oil

Step 3:

Dry and cool fried biscuits on a plate with a paper towel.  We fried 4 at a time, so we cooled 4 while we fried the other 4.

Cool on a plate with a paper towel. This will also absorb excess oil
Cool on a plate with a paper towel. This will also absorb excess oil

Step 4:

Once all biscuits are cooled, dip one side into melted butter.  Drip off excess butter and dip into cinnamon sugar.  Repeat on other side.

Donuts and Donut holes dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar.
Donuts and Donut holes dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar.

Step 5:

Enjoy!  OH wow they were SO good!  So good that I need to emphasize with all caps!  They were unbelievable warm, but were still soft and yummy the next morning.

Homemade Donuts!
Homemade Donuts!

I would absolutely recommend this recipe.  Not only are they delicious, but they are super easy.  They made the perfect dessert with our sparkling apple cider on NYE, but they would also make a wonderful addition to a breakfast or brunch.  No messy recipes, no deep frying, easy peasy and YUM!

What are your plans for the New Year?

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Cabbage Soup Diet

Well, it was around this time last year that we were in the middle of our Girls Weight Loss Challenge.  That was fun, but took a lot of work to organize, so I decided to do one on my own this year.
Being the year of our wedding, I’ve already been hitting the gym, mainly doing weight training.  The cabbage soup diet is only a week long low fat, high fiber diet.  You loose a lot of weight quickly, but then after the week you have to work to keep it off!  I think it is just the kick in the pants I need…
I started cooking my soup today, and will start day 1 tomorrow.  I got the recipe from Catherine, who also had lots of good tips on her website, check her out!
I started with all of the ingredients:
Cabbage, green pepper, onions, diced tomatoes, carrots, celery, bouillon cubes, and water.  (I left out the mushrooms, but you’re welcome to add them!)
The colors looked amazing while they were starting to cook:
I had read in multiple places that the soup is very bland, but that it is ok to season it, just without salt.  This will probably be my biggest downfall…I’m a huge salt fan!  I don’t like anything too spicy, but I did add a little curry powder for some flavor.  Along with some parsley, basil, garlic and onion powder.  Here it is simmering away…
Tomorrow marks Day 1, so I’m allowed to eat as much soup as I want along with as much fruit as I want, minus Bananas.  I’ll come back and let you know how it tastes!
Since I knew I would be starting this cabbage soup diet Monday, I made a special very unhealthy dessert Friday:
Tastes as good as it looks…if you want the recipe, go check out Quick Dish. And, it’s gluten free, for those of you with special diets!

Are any of you trying new diets this year?

New Hair!

I’m starting off the new year with some big changes!  The first one, completed today, is a drastic new hair style!  Here are two of the most recent pictures I could find of my “old” hair.

I went to the salon today, and cut off a 12 inch ponytail!  I’ll be sending it in the mail to Locks of Love this week.  Hopefully it can be used to make a hair protheses (wig!) for some lucky little kid.  I love the feeling that I can help someone gain back some confidence and sense of normalcy by just donating my hair.  I’m happy and fortunate to have more than enough to share!

While the scissors were cutting their way through, I might have been having a minor internal panic attack.  I’ve been meaning to cut my hair for a while, but I’ve been having trouble letting go 🙂  But I’m overjoyed with the outcome!  It couldn’t have been better, check out the new ‘do!

Love it!  But my neck is cold!  SO glad it’s scarf season 🙂

Anyone else starting off the New Year with any changes?

Happy New Year!

Hours after finally welcoming the new year, 2011 has arrived!

Cheers to 2011!

Along with welcoming the new year I would like to welcome you all to my little nook in the blogosphere world.

In the past I have attempted the age old tradition of starting “New Years Resolutions”.  Though with every good intention, and every attempt to hit the ground running come January, I have never successfully managed to keep a resolution.  This year I have only one resolution.  Simplify.  The term can be applied to every aspect of my life.  Less stress, less clutter, less complication…just simply live.

B and I ready for whatever comes with 2011!

   I’m not sure yet what shape this blog will take, but it will most likely follow my adventures in the kitchen, craft world, and day to day life.  I’m hoping that 2011 has some good things in store for me, and for all of those that surround me.

Lo and I are ready too!

My New Years Eve entailed a lot of this….

Fumbling my way through Rock Band?  You bet!

Some of this…

Dancing with the Wii!

And, luckily, ended with this!

Kiss at Midnight!

What did yours entail?  Happy New Year everyone!

Cheers!