Looking Back and Looking Ahead 2018 ed.

design.pngJanuary is halfway done, and it’s time for me to reflect on my 2017 goals and decide on a few goals for this new “even” year!  Yay!

To be honest, the major reason I’m documenting my goals on this largely neglected blog is because unlike writing down my goals in a notebook or on a list, I can’t lose a blog post!  I know exactly where to find my resolutions, which is very helpful.

So here we go…

2017 Goals

  1. Remember my Goals – I’d say this is checked off since I improved this year by documenting my goals on last year’s blog post instead of losing my list completely.
  2. Read 12 Books – This was a definite check, I read 20 books last year!  That’s what happens when you have a baby, are awake at all hours, sleep train, live alone, and quit your job.  Let me know if you want my list!
  3. Write 36 blog posts – 36? 6? Well, I wrote at least 1… but clearly not even close to 36.
  4. Create a home out of our new house – We didn’t end up in a new house like we planned after we found out about our new family member, but I did land in a different house.  I now live in what we call the Monroe House, just down the street from my parent’s house, and a house that I have now landed in 3 times.  However, I have made it into a comfy home, so check!
  5. Have a baby and keep it healthy – CHECK!!!!!  Finlay is still alive!!!!  Partly due to my mad parenting skills, but mostly due to God’s grace and my family’s support.
  6. Fill an Art Journal – Well I crafted a new art journal…  But certainly didn’t fill it…

In summary, I’m pretty pleased with my progress on 2017’s goals!  Like I’ve mentioned before, 2017 was the hardest year of my life, for so many reasons…  Some of which I can’t even share.  But looking at what I was hoping for at the beginning of the year, and what I’ve accomplished, I can see that 2017 has taught me that I am not alone or helpless.  Many things happened to me this year, most that were completely out of my control, but as I type this post I can see many blessings.  I have a happy baby, a warm and peaceful home, and a loving family 5 minutes from my front door, I am blessed.

So what about next year?  Well here we go!

2018 Goals

  1. Read 24 books
  2. Cook my way through Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals Cookbook
  3. Switch over my cleaning and household products to non-toxic alternatives
  4. Finish my Art Journal!

I’m going to stop there for this year.  While I’m hopeful that 2018 will be less traumatic than 2017, I know that it will also be full of its own challenges.  Finlay will be mobile, my husband will come home, and we will probably move again.  As you can see, no blog related resolutions this year!  I don’t plan on ending my blogging activity, but obviously making it a goal to write more blog posts hasn’t worked for the past 5 years.  I end up writing when I feel like it, and that’s just fine.

What are your goals for 2018?


Fall is here and it’s time for an update! aka My Favorite Things

As I write this little post, Halloween is tomorrow and the lawns around town are now covered with yellow, red and orange leaves.  I’m a spring girl myself, but fall is also good…very good!

So here’s what I’ve been up to lately…


#1 Filling my new Bullet Journal

I’ve had a bullet journal for awhile now, and recently started a fresh one.  I spent some time in a disc-bound system for several months, but then remembered why I never stick with that type of notebook…  I hate maneuvering around those crazy discs!  It’s just not comfortable.  I love being able to switch around pages and add in folders and such, but it comes at a price, and that price is too high.

Interested in bullet journaling and want to see more?  I plan on writing a post dedicated to my current notebook, but here are some links in the meantime:

One-Year Bullet Journal Recap

Bullet Journal Flip: One Month In!

#2 Nurturing an addiction to podcasts

Podcasts are nothing new for me (see this post for some of my favorites), but lately I’ve been listening to them more than ever.  Having a podcast going is a great way to keep my daily life…ie. changing the baby, rocking the baby, bathing the baby, feeding the baby, waiting for the baby to go to sleep, etc… from driving me nuts.  My favorite podcast lately has been Up and Vanished.  It’s another true crime podcast, but one of the best I’ve ever listened too, and I’ve listened to Serial.


#3 Keeping baby Finlay alive

So far so good!  Just wanted a reason to get a picture in here 😉


#4 Exploring the world of Essential Oils

I FINALLY DID IT!  Yep, I’ve joined the ranks of Young Living essential oil users…  I’ve been on the essential oil train for a few years now, but had thus far held out as far as the “expensive” brands were concerned.  I scoured the internet to find the cheapest oils for any recipes that I wanted to try, but after hearing about Young Living for these past few years, I finally decided to give them a try to see if they really are any better than what I’ve been using.  So far… maybe.  Yeah, I haven’t had my kit very long yet, but I definitely prefer the scents of these oils to my cheapo stash.  And I surprise myself when I say that I appreciate the whole “Seed to Seal” concept, it’s nice to be able to trust that I’m getting the real deal and also nice to be among friends that have used and loved these oils for years.

I also appreciate having such a hefty discount when I want to expand my collection!

#5 Watching…

Community on Hulu…  For the second time.  LOVE IT.

Alrighty, that is all for now!  What’s coming up this month?  Well, if you’ve heard of NanoWriMo, you’ll know that I’ll be trying (again) to write a 50,000 word story…  I mean, what else do I have to do?

You’ve gotta see the baby!

It’s been one month since little boy Brown made his appearance, and I’m finally sitting down to write an update!  I honestly am a bit proud of myself for getting to it this quickly 😉

So now for the all-important birth stats:

Born at: 8:18pm on 5/15/17 (due date was 5/27)

Weight – 8lbs 9oz

Length – 21 inches

I’m going to try not to give that many details about my “birth story” today, but here’s a short version!

At about 12:30am (why do these things always happen in the middle of the night?), I was home trying to sleep when my water broke. Since I was feeling perfectly normal otherwise, I picked up my mom and grandma and drove us to the hospital. I was admitted around 2:30am, and I then called the Red Cross to get the ball rolling for Mr. Brown to come home, but was told that I shouldn’t have called. Apparently I was supposed to wait until the baby was born to call, which was bad news at a bad time. I wasn’t too happy about that obviously… I mean, at this point the baby is definitely coming soon, so why the wait?  

I ended up texting Mr. Brown with the situation, and in the end (MANY hours later), I found out that he was able to find a way to come home as soon as he got my message that morning.

Did I mention that this whole process took MANY HOURS? Since I wasn’t experiencing any contractions, I had to be induced around 8am. Luckily for me, modern medicine came to my rescue when things got tough, and my epidural was a complete success! Yes, I had an epidural… I’d actually put in my request and signed the paper as soon as I was admitted. So my long labor wasn’t bad at all, and I’d highly recommend my birth plan to anyone asking!

Mr. Brown’s plane ended up landing about 10 minutes after Walter Finlay made his appearance, but it was wonderful that he could make it so much sooner than I’d thought he’d make it.

One month in, Finlay and I are still figuring out how things work, but he’s still alive! His daddy spent about 10 days with us after the birth, and a few days last week, but we’re on our own for the next 9 months or so. This little baby is super-cute (obviously), but I know that it’ll be a hard road ahead. I’ve never been a baby/kid-person, so I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Apparently this is normal for newbie parents. At least according to my Google searches on “How to get my newborn to sleep in a crib.”

So there’s the update! The past week of my life has consisted of hauling around car seats, baby swings, and my “lightweight” stroller to doctors’ appointments, errands, and visits. I’ve been waging war against an onslaught of pests that seem to think my new/old house is their new/old house, and I’ve been tracking baby naps, my diet, and baby bowel movements. It’s a brave new world! Oh boy…




Springtime Favorites!


It may still be chilly outside, with the trees bare and my heavy coat still in use, but spring is definitely lurking nearby.  Everything feels a bit lighter, the nice days seem to be growing more and more prevalent, and the idea of spring cleaning doesn’t feel completely ridiculous.

As we are heading into a new and wonderful season, I felt like adding to the positive vibes with some of my current favorite things!




The Valentine’s blossoms that graced the Brown household last month have somehow started the ball rolling on having fresh flowers around.  Mr. Brown gifted me a lovely bouquet on the 14th, and then I just couldn’t walk away from some lonely, but sweet roses left behind in our Walmart (at 50% off).  These flowers are just beginning to lose their luster, and I plan on replacing them in the name of Springtime!

Cleaning Videos…

So cleaning is not my preferred pastime, nor is it a talent of mine, but my YouTube subscription feed has been cleaning-heavy over the past week or so, and I have to admit that I find myself slightly inspired.  Here are a couple of cleaning videos that I’ve liked lately:

Do It On a Dime

Rachel Talbott:


New Haircare goodies!

I finally decided to have my haircut a few months ago at our local Ulta Beauty store, and walked out a new woman!  I absolutely loved what that amazing hairstylist did with my troublesome hair!  Let me tell you, I NEVER feel this way after a haircut.  Even the professionals don’t seem to have much luck working with what I’ve got, but this stylist made my hair look better than it’s ever looked.  Now, this may be TMI, but I don’t wash my hair everyday (and no, that is not my problem – it’s a fairly recent habit).  I go a few days between washing, and obviously, the last day on the cycle isn’t quite as good as the first, but my Day 3 hair after this haircut and style still looked amazing!  It was so hard to breakdown and wash it…

Sheer talent has most to do with that wonderful hair transformation, but by golly was I gonna try to recreate the magic.  I bought a few products that I remembered the stylist using, as well as switching the brush I use to blow-dry my hair, and I’ve honestly seen such a difference!!! 

One such product is the Redken Diamond Drops.  I’m loving this stuff!  I only use it when I blow-dry my hair so I don’t use it up too fast, but that combined with a couple of new drugstore products has really helped making my hair behave better.  It could still use some help, but I’m already pleased with the improvement!

My Sephora Z-Palette…


Have I mentioned my z-palette before?  Here it is!  I’m really enjoying having my favorite things all in the same palette 🙂  Although, I suppose it’s important to mention that none of the products in my Sephora Z-Palette are actually from Sephora…


img_0092                 img_0093


I’ve been “on Instagram” for years, but over the past few months I’ve enjoyed it so much!  I do enjoy posting my own pics, but the best part is scrolling through my feed.  I’ve collected a lovely bunch of Instagrammers, and there are so many beautiful things to see!

Bellabeat Leaf

I’d say the next most used app on my phone currently is the Bellabeat Leaf app.  This is the 3rd fitness tracker I’ve owned, and it’s my favorite.  I love how pretty it is to wear, and I’ve managed to use it daily.  The app is also pretty, and I really like the Mindfulness piece to it.  Meditation is something I’ve dabbled in over the past year, and I like how this app allows me to easily listen to short and sweet exercises, and then have that practice filter into my overall health data.  Sweet!



What a long post this is turning out to be!  Well, here’s the last bit…

The Bob Newhart Show

Say what?  Yep!  I’m loving the Bob Newhart Show on Hulu.  I’m on season 3, and find the show a relaxing and funny way to wind down.  It’s a bit different, and maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s awesome.  I love Bob, his neighbor Howard, the receptionist Carol and Jerry his dentist friend the most.  I also love the style of this 1970s sitcom.

Ok, enough for today!  I seem to have a lot of favorites right now, which is wonderful as far as I’m concerned 😉  Let me know if there’s anything you think I’m missing out on!

A Place to Call One’s Own

I have a cat, and her name is Evie.  She’s a beautiful long haired tabby with the classic kitty attitude, and although she is often hard to predict, she’s convinced me that she truly likes having me around.  And of course, the feeling is mutual!

I’m not one to buy toys or presents for Evie.  She honestly seems to care less about any of the things I brought home when we first adopted her 3 years ago, so I gave up pretty quick.  She’s not even into catnip!  However, as we will be moving soon, I thought it might be nice if she had a refuge that would move with her, and was a place of safety and security. 

Enter YouTube!


I’m a self-proclaimed YouTube addict, and one day I spotted a cat teepee (or tipi!) in the background of a beauty-blogger video that looked so chic and sweet that I knew I’d like to get something like that for Evie.  After searching online, I found that I’d have to spend about $60 for what I wanted, which wasn’t too surprising I suppose.  If you’re interested, check out http://www.cattipi.com/.

Remember, I said that my kitty has a record of being completely uninterested in everything I present to her, so I wasn’t about to spend $60 on something that she may not even use. 

On to Pinterest!

So here’s what I found:



These teepee’s are perfect!  The only catch is that it’s fairly complicated for someone with my skill level (keeping in mind that my kitty may not even sniff it).  So I decided to keep looking for something easier.

I was successful!



This tipi* DIY is incredibly simple – not that it’s impossible to make a cutting mistake…ahem…

cat teepee materials.jpg

After just minutes of construction and minimal materials, I came up with this:


Not bad!  I actually love the look of it, and was very pleased when the kitty started popping in to nap.  Perfect?  Almost.  It’s just not sturdy enough, and would definitely need some more reinforcement to be a permanent feature of our living room.  But it’s a start!  I plan to experiment a bit with bracing the bottom somehow, and may even decide to use the Fudge and Joy tutorial in the end.  Until then, the kitty seems pretty happy, and so am I!

little Christmas Pleasures


I’ve faced Christmastime with a blend of excitement and dread for most of my adult life.  On one hand there’s so much to look forward to, on the other hand, there’s just so much to do!  I don’t want to sound too much like a Scrooge (a little Scrooge is festive after all), but just making lists of gift ideas gets me a little stressed…or maybe it’s my lack of ideas?

Anyway, there are so many great ideas out there for creating a “stress-free Christmas,” like limiting the gifts we buy, saying no to the majority of our Christmas invitations, or starting our Christmas preparations in June. 

Most of these options sound a tad dour to me honestly, but I definitely get their practical sense.  When things get tough, it’s time to take a step back?  However, when I think of the Christmas pleasures I enjoy the most, I find that my excitement and dread seem to be completely intermingled.  In fact, those frenzied nights when I picked up last minute gifts on Christmas Eve, the years when I went a little nuts with just who got on my gift list, or the Decembers when I found myself at a Christmas celebration every weekend are my favorite memories.

Therefore this is not a blog post about solutions for the chaos, but a list of what I personally find awesome about the Christmas season:

  1. Christmas Decorations

While hauling out the box of Christmas decor from the attic isn’t fun at all (ask Mr. Brown), the final effect of glittering lights, red poinsettias (fake for this kitty-loving household), and green wreaths and garlands is so worth the hassle!  And I don’t even have kids yet!  The plethora of Christmasy decorations warms my heart, which actually fools the rest of my body into thinking that our drafty old house is actually cozy.  Awesome.


  1. Cozy Indoor Activities

When the weather is nice, indoor activities such as reading, knitting, and watching Netflix with a cup of creamy hot chocolate equals couch potato status.  But stick those activities in December, and you have hours of comfy recreation guilt-free.  I love hanging out indoors, and the Christmas season puts a “savoring the moment” spin on practically everything I enjoy spending time doing this time of year.  Awesome.

  1. Christmas Crafts

As I mentioned, ’tis the season to get stuck in with some Christmas crafts.  There is so much inspiration this time of year!  Would you like your home to look like an Anthropologie store this Christmas?  Well, there’s a YouTube video/blog post/Facebook link for that!  Sure, you may only get to enjoy your creations for a few days once they’re complete, but it’s the process people, the process!  Awesome.


***check out livelaughrowe.com for an easy DIY to make these wine cork trees!

  1. Holiday Entertainment

In the age of Netflix and Hulu, I find myself barely ever re-watching my favorite movies these days.  Although for most of my life, I had no problem watching good movies over and over again, the past couple of years have found me preferring to watch “so-so” movies I’ve never seen to rewatching just about anything.  However, Christmas movies (or any movies with a Christmas scene somewhere before the credits) are still sacred, and I always watch the same few every year.  A Christmas Story anyone?  Awesome.

Maybe the secret of enjoying the Christmas season is simply our state of mind?  When you find yourself frantically wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, scouring the stores/internet for just the right gift, or adding the Christmas Eve candlelight service to your long list of places to be, remember that these are what make this time of the year so special.  Also, try to stay out of debt…that’s probably good advice as well.

Tidying Up: Miscellaneous Madness

I’ve come to the dreaded MISCELLANEOUS category.

Let me just warn you fellow MariKondo explorers… This category seems impossible to complete all together and in one go. Do not attempt.
How do I know this? I know this because it took me 1 week to sort through 1 section of the Miscellaneous category! I cannot imagine gathering up & sorting everything that falls under this category in one shot (this is practically everything you own if you think about it). I cannot imagine looking at a pile that includes cotton balls, paper plates, candles, thread, food, hot glue gun refills, and make-up. Seriously, my heart is beating faster just thinking about the chaos.

Shake it off Jennifer! It never happened.

Ok, let me calmly describe my process for plunging into the Miscellaneous category.

1) Decide that pressing on in one shot is madness

2) Create multiple sub-categories:

Hobbies, Décor, Media & accessories, Health & Beauty, Cleaning Supplies, Food, Kitchenware & Small Appliances, Furniture, Household & Survival supplies

3) Sort each category

4) Walk through each room to catch any leftovers

Just in case this sub-category business is causing mild panic for my readers…

You mean we have to read 10 posts on boring Miscellaneous junk!

No judgement here, that’s what I’d be thinking. In the coming weeks/hopefully not, but maybe months, I’ll make my way through this Miscellaneous jungle, and report back when I’ve reached the halfway point (to keep motivated), and then again at the finish line. Hobbies is done as of this past weekend! Small victories!

I hope everyone is having a good week! My next sort through will begin this weekend…think of me…