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Stacy’s challenges

A Month of Letters Challenge

A Month of Letters Challenge

I’m piggybacking on an existing challenge this month that loosely falls into my goals for a healthy year.  The more I read about longevity the more I realize how important relationships and community are, so I’ve joined A Month of Letters.  I was first introduced to this challenge by a fellow book blogger, Care, years ago and always look forward to my February postcard 🙂  I decided to join in this year because it fits nicely with my broad goals.

Last year I wrote letters of appreciation to people I admired, but not people I knew.  This month I’ll be sending people I know something in the mail.  Maybe it will be a letter, a postcard, a bookmark, a comic I  think they’d like…anything goes if I can put a stamp on it.  Also, I will send one postcard a day through Postcrossing, a hobby I’ve enjoyed these last 5 years.

Here’s a few things I have for inspiration.  Maybe on my next post I’ll share my postcard collection.  I have hundreds of postcards just waiting to be mailed to the right person.  Maybe you will be one of them!

IMG_1539In addition to my 10,000 steps, I’ll also be taking another crack at 7 glasses of water a day.

January update

January update

Okay, this month has been a great one for steps, I’m 30 for 30 for getting 10,000 everyday, but less successful for the water and blogging!  My Fitbit has stopped synching (again) so I’m just going to ignore that and focus on the daily ‘party on my wrist’ as I like to tell Gage, that happens when I hit 10,000.  You will often find me pacing around the family room while Jason and I watch something at night.  He doesn’t complain, but I make myself nervous 🙂 I think I can make this 10,000 steps a goal for the whole year.  We’ll see, but I’m feeling good about it.

I’ve been drinking more water, but after the first week or so haven’t been getting 7.  So I bought a new glass container to use everyday to keep track.  I’ll start it tomorrow and make it my February goal.

I did say that I wanted this to be a year of health both mentally and physically so in February I’m adding A Month of Letters to my goals.  I’ll post about it more tomorrow, but if you’re interested check out  the site to commit.

So, I’m excited about this year and about hooking up with another challenge next month that’s right up my alley.

2018 and a fresh start

2018 and a fresh start

We’re going to do things a little differently this year.  I’ve been fighting a nasty cold/flu thing for about a week and a half and when I hopped on the scale last night I realized that I had gained another 4 pounds this past year.  I need to make this year about good health so instead of a monthly challenge like I’ve been doing I’m going to switch it up a bit.  I’m going to start doing things for my health, mind and body, and add one new thing every month.  Over the next few days I’ll take some stats and pics and see what I can accomplish by just adding good habits to my life.

For January I’m going to walk 10,000 steps and drink 7 glasses of water every day.  This doesn’t seem like much to you, but it is necessary for me.  I don’t know where I’ve been on the walking since I haven’t kept track in a few years.  My best guess is that I’m 50/50 on getting to 10,000.  And the water, that’s always a fail.  When I did my juicing month I actually started to like water a bit, but even if I don’t ever love it, I need to drink it. So, for this first month, easy achieveable goals to move forward.

I am still going to do the Master Classes this year too, but they may not be done in 30 day increments. I’ve made it through 13 lessons and am really liking the James Patterson on Writing Course.  A few of my favorite quotes…

“Everything you write should be moving your story forward.”

“You want your readers to have strong feelings about your characters.”

“In my opinion, one of the biggest secret of suspense is setting up questions that the reader MUST have answered.”

James Patterson Master Class Challenge – 5 lessons in.

James Patterson Master Class Challenge – 5 lessons in.

I’m not sure where to start in these MasterClass posts.  You can see the instructors on the homepage and the FAQ here.  Before I signed up for the yearly deal I did look around at a few reviews and  they were generally positive, although the most common complaint was customer service.  I found this interesting article from last spring that said the A List instructors make $100,000 plus a percentage of the generated money for the their class.  It seems that James Patterson was one of the first instructors.

So, for the Patterson class I paid $90 for 22 lessons with the thriller bestseller.  The $90 gives me access for as long as I want it for all of the lessons, worksheets, interactive comment section for each lesson and suggested assignment and a Hub for the people in the class to have different questions and topics happening at once with different threads.  It’s as interactive as you want it to be.  The instructors even have office hours where they answer direct questions from students.  At this point I don’t know how often that happens, but I have seen the clips (just haven’t clicked on any yet).

I’ve watched the first 5 lessons and have carved out a little writing time for myself every day that we’re home.  I’m coming up with 200 word story ideas right now and trying to do three a night.  It’s been fun because there is no pressure that they be something I’m going to use and I’m able to sort of focus on the lessons and hone in on the idea and story aspect.  The first five lessons covered Passion + Habit, Raw Ideas, Plot, and Research.

IMG_2451This is from page one of the lesson 5 worksheet. I print them out and use the space provided to take a few notes while listening or even from the comments section.  There was a great discussion on one of the first lessons about the best writing software to use and that was coming from the other students.  The lessons are short.  around 10-13 minutes each, so they are easy to fit into your schedule.

More in a few days.  Is there anything you’d like to know?

James Patterson Teaches Writing Master Class Challenge

James Patterson Teaches Writing Master Class Challenge

I love the 30 day challenges, even when I fail to complete them.  Having a goal to focus on every month has been motivating and fun, but coming up with ones that I want to do is a challenge all on its own.  Last summer I signed up for a Master Class with James Patterson during one of my challenges, but I never started.  And then Master Class sent me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  I paid $90 for the pass to Patterson’s class that I could use whenever I wanted, no expiration date.  Then I received an email offering me the rest of the classes for only $90 for a whole year!  I looked at the site again and found 30 experts in their fields so I decided to start taking the Patterson class and see what it was all about.  I watched the first 4 (of 22) lessons, did the daily writing, and read through some of the conversation threads.  Is James Patterson my favorite author?  Nope. I checked and found out that I haven’t read a Patterson book since 2011.  But what I found when I listened to the short videos by Patterson was that I was inspired by a man who had gotten to the very top of his field.

So, I signed up.  I’ll be doing Patterson this month.  In January Jason and I will be doing the Documentary a Day challenge together again and in September I’ll be doing my third Book a Day Challenge (hopefully with a few of you!).  In between I’ll be doing Master Classes and learning from the likes of Steve Martin, Gordon Ramsay, Dr. Jane Goodall, Judy Blume, Bob Woodward and so many others.  I may even let you guys pick for me a couple of months!

I’ll be back with some details about the class, right now I have about five minutes to finish this and then I’m booked til Monday.  Have any of you tried a Master Class? Are you curious?  Stay tuned 🙂

Pinterest Challenge ends with barely a whimper

Pinterest Challenge ends with barely a whimper

Ok, I think I made it halfway with this challenge, about 15 pins.  I had major trouble accessing Pinterest and my pins for days on end and it just became too frustrating to work around so I gave up.  Before I did quit some really nice things happened.  Three of the pins ended up being so, so useful.  Day one was cleaning my office.  Remember the pics?

IMG_2148 IMG_2150 IMG_2151 IMG_2152Embarrassing.  Wanna see how that pin has my office looking today?

IMG_2404 IMG_2405 IMG_2406 IMG_2407So much better!

I’ve also been using the meal planning pin for 3 weeks and I LOVE IT!  It makes things so much easier!  I’ve only been making one trip to the store a week which is amazing since it was 2-3 times before AND I’m trying new recipes!  So glad I took the time to set this up.

Also G’s chore chart has been a success.  We have been taking lots of little trips and that will continue for a bit, and it’s easier when we’re on the same schedule every week.

For these three pins alone the challenge was worth it.  There were two others that I didn’t post about but were equally great.  I found this pin which was a great idea for what to do with G’s train postcards.  So we started with this IMG_2262We’ve added more since then and it’s been fun.  We also tried this  great muffin recipe.  We’ve made these zucchini carrot muffins several times since.  We don’t put the icing on it. IMG_2251

Even though the 30 day challenge was a fail I do feel like we won with the five things I listed.

I’ll be doing something a bit different with the challenges starting tomorrow.  Come back and see!  I may even let you participate 🙂

Pinterest Challenge – Veterans Day

Pinterest Challenge – Veterans Day

G is a product of generations of veterans.  His dad, his grandpas, two of his great grandfathers and numerous other family members past and present all spent time serving our country in the military.  Jason’s time in the Navy actually put us in the same place at the same time over 21 years ago.

I found this pin which was perfect for this challenge and for Veterans Day.  G got a video recorder for his birthday and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for him to do his first interviews.  Last night he interviewed Dad and this morning his Grandpa.  Last night with Dad he didn’t look up from the paper and cut him off one time when his answer got too long, and then they watched the video of the interview on the television so he could see himself on the big screen.  Today with his grandpa was better.  He looked up after he asked every question and waited for the full answer before moving on.  I was proud of him.  And proud to have so many veterans in G’s life to show him true bravery and service.

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Pinterest Challenge – Books and Shepherd’s Pie

Pinterest Challenge – Books and Shepherd’s Pie

Yesterday, I had very little time so I found a few pins with Thanksgiving books for kids and reserved as many as I could at our library.  I’m guessing I’ll have a pretty big pile waiting for me in the next few days.

Tonight I tried a new recipe that I found for Shepherd’s Pie.  I love the website this is pinned from.  It clearly marks every recipes with all the different allergies on the side.  It’s wonderful!  I had to substitute peas for carrots and pork for beef, but we all loved it.  I’m having lots of success with these Pinterest recipes.

I made the potatoes and the meet/veggies combo and G put them together.  He loved licking his fingers and the spoon.  Potatoes never go to waste in this house.

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Pinterest Challenge- Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs

Pinterest Challenge- Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs

I tried a new recipe tonight and G loved it (Jason liked it too).  No one in the house likes coconut, but when I’m so limited in what I can cook, I decided to give it a shot.  This pin stood out to me because it looked like something my guys would eat and it incorporated a few new ingredients in the daily diet.

As for anyone who has made chicken meatballs, they are not nearly as soft and juicy as beef, but the sauce helped with that.  Also, in my pics you may notice purple in the meatballs and those are most likely the purple carrot and the red onion.  Click on the link to get the full recipe.  From start to finish this took me about 40 minutes.

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When I served them I put the sauce on the bottom of the plate so they could control how much they wanted, but they both liked it, so I’ll mix them next time.  Also, next time I’ll serve them over rice.  We had leftovers from last night as an appetizer so we didn’t need a full meal.  This is one I’d put in the rotation once a month.

Pinterest Challenge – Chore List

Pinterest Challenge – Chore List

G has never had a set list  of chores and as I was looking at some of my pins I realized that I missed the boat on this years ago.  There are chore ideas for 2 year olds!  I looked around for some good starters and decided on 7, since he’s 7, and found a great printable chart on this pin.  These are all easily doable for him but I wanted to start with something achievable, so he could be successful.  I told him if he had 40 stickers by the end of the week he’d earn $2.  We’ll see what happens this week and see if I have to adjust.

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