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!

One-Year Bullet Journal Recap

With January coming to a close, I realized that it’s been almost a year since I started my bullet journal!  I began my current journal in the middle of February 2016, and did a One Month In post last year.  From the posts and videos that I’ve seen on bullet journalling, spending an entire year in a journal is actually fairly pathetic.  I think 6 months might be the standard, but yet here I am, with pages left to fill and only a month left in my journaling year.


There are a few reasons for this…

  1. I rely mostly on weekly spreads to do my planning, so not EVERY day has a separate list
  2. I tested out a Happy Planner for awhile after wandering into the scrapbooking section of our local Michaels (obviously this didn’t stick, but it was so pretty!)
  3. We went to Scotland for vacation in September, and I didn’t do a blessed thing in my bullet journal the entire time
  4. Shortly after we arrived home from Scotland, I found out that I was pregnant, and also that I would be be one of the many mothers-to-be that spend months feeling AWFUL.  I completely lost interest in most things during this time, and therefore had no need for planning/bullet journaling

Yes, it took awhile to get back into the swing of things once the morning sickness ran its course, so most of the autumn is missing from my bullet journal.


But, as this is a bullet journal…  None of that matters!  This set-up as you go system makes it easy to pop in and out without having any blank sections.  It’s there for you when you need it, and I love that aspect of the bullet journal.  I’d say the only facet I’m not crazy about is the time it takes to create my monthly and weekly spreads when it’s time to move into them. 


If you visit the Bullet Journal website, far-future planning is not a focus of the system.  You can create monthly lists of events, and there is a popular 6-month spread that most people like to use for future events, but setting up weekly/monthly spreads for the rest of the year all at once doesn’t work very well.  You want to have your planning, notes and daily lists all together (or I do at least!).  But like I said, sometimes I put off using my notebook because I don’t feel like creating my weekly and monthly calendars when I need them. 


I don’t see a way around this small nuisance in my bound Leuchtturm 1917 notebook (which I love), but I’m toying with the idea of using a disc-bound system for my next year’s journal…  In the past, the discs seemed to get in the way, but maybe it’s worth being able to simply print off my weekly and monthly pages and stick them in as I come to them.

Just an idea!  Watch this space 🙂  I also thought it might be interesting to do a flip-through video when I’ve filled my journal, but we’ll see!

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!

Looking Back & Looking Ahead


With Christmas over, 2016 seems done and dusted now.  It’s time to reminisce on the past year and/or look forward to the new one.  I personally find taking stock of the past year a bit of a hassle, but I’m certain that it’s the best way to start looking forward, as neglecting to look back often results in the same mistakes and the same oversights.

So here we go…

2016 GOALS

I’ve already run into a problem with this one, and can’t remember what I even wanted to accomplish!  I’m sure I came up with something, and probably wrote it down somewhere, but since my bullet journal wasn’t begun until February, I’m not sure where this life list would have been written… 

Obviously, a goal for the new year would be to make a list that I will look at after January…  See, looking back is already paying off!

Reading more (like 12 books in the year) is always on my list.  This year went fairly well, with a few months making up for book-less months, so I’m going to say that I’m happy with my 2016 reading schedule.  I found some authors I really loved (Liane Moriarty!!!), and even enjoyed a few audio books.  So happy with it that I won’t be changing it this year.

Blogging more was also most likely on the list, and I definitely failed.  Obviously.  New goal: blog posts at least 3 times a month!  It’s bewildering to me how easy it is to neglect a hobby that you actually enjoy…

I also vaguely remember wanting to try out a new business venture in 2016, and I did that, so good for me!  I failed at it, but all in all, it came at the right time and ended at the right time and I don’t regret it.  No new goal here however.

And that’s all I can think of when it comes to looking back on 2016 goals, so on to 2017!

2017 GOALS

As I mentioned above:

  1. Remember my goals
  2. Read 12 books
  3. Write 36 blog posts



  1. Create a home out of our new house
  2. Have a baby and keep it healthy!
  3. Fill an art journal

Six is probably a weird number for a goal list, but I’m leaving it there.  2017 is shaping up to be a intense year honestly…  We will be moving in March, our new baby (our first) is scheduled to appear at the end of May, and Mr. Brown is preparing for a deployment at the beginning of summer.  I have a hunch that these events will change many of my priorities and desires.  Maybe I’ll re-evaluate my goals this summer, but until then, let this be a list I can find all year!