Thursday, December 29

2016 Goals: Recap

Way back in December of 2015, I posted my goals for 2016. Unfortunately, I didn't blog for most of 2016. I posted 57 times in 2015. In 2016, I only posted... 18 times. So you guys didn't get to check in with me for most of this year. I'm sure you were crushed, haha.

I had five goals that I classified as "big" goals:
  • Graduate from law school
  • Marry J
  • Move to Denver
  • Get a job in Denver at a great firm
  • Pass the Colorado bar exam
Not that you couldn't have deduced this, but I did manage to make all of those goals! I graduated from law school, married the love of my life, moved to Denver, got a job here at a firm that I love, and I passed the Colorado Bar Exam!

The smaller goals were slightly trickier for me.

Read 12+ books this year and continue my 12x12 challenge
Guys, this is the first year since 2014 that I didn't complete my 12x12 challenge. I'm not proud of it. In fact, I feel pretty ashamed. There are a few days left in 2016 (so it's not impossible) and I still need to read three books. Can I read three books in five days? I guess it depends on how big the book is and how much time I read. I probably can't do it. As we got into December, I felt all this pressure to complete the challenge, to the point where I felt guilty and annoyed and reading felt like a chore I had to do instead of something fun I got to do for myself.

So here's the deal: If we're counting all the books I had to read to prepare for the bar exam, I definitely surpassed 12 books this year. I probably read 30 books. But since I didn't count casebooks in law school, I don't count bar exam study books. I also read two cookbooks this week (don't judge me - there were stories in them and they were charming and I loved every second of it), so if we count those, I only have one book to read. But I suspect most of you (ahem, Mom) won't count the cookbooks, which leads us right back to me only reading 9 books this year.

Give away 200 things
BOY did I succeed here. J and I moved cross-country this spring, which means we had to pack up everything we owned, shove it into a UBox or our cars, and then find a place for it here in Denver. We probably gave away 400 things by the time we moved out of our apartment in New Hampshire... then I reorganized everything we owned here before Thanksgiving. We filled up four (big) boxes with donations. That was probably another 200 things, easily. I didn't count, but I would be shocked if we gave away less than 500 things this year. It's not that hard once you realize what you need, what you love, and what you don't. Also, when you move.

Run 8 miles at one time
Well, it was a good thought, haha. I still have this goal, but I didn't come close to achieving it this year. I think this spring, when I was still running at the YMCA in Concord, I made it to three miles at a time... but then we moved to a high-altitude city, I didn't have a gym, and my body wasn't ready for outdoor running for the most part. I just joined a local YMCA about two or three weeks ago and started running again, but I'm basically starting from scratch. I ran a mile yesterday. Just seven more to go!

I also tried to go vegetarian for a month (or as long as I could this year). J and I actually made it to around February without breaking once, but I had a job interview in Denver and I could tell they weren't ordering anything with meat just to be nice to me, which made me feel awkward and guilty, and then once they finally did order something with chicken in it, I kind of felt obliged? I wanted them to think I was cool and chill and flexible, so yeah, I caved to peer pressure, haha. 
I still ate 99% vegetarian for the next month or so, but by the end of March, I was done. It was a fine experience, though nothing new to me. I'll probably go vegetarian again soon, or at least stop eating red meat.


As the year went on, and especially as the year started coming to a close, I've been stressing about not meeting my goals. I think I had it in my head that I wasn't doing well this year, but looking back, the only two I didn't achieve were my 12x12 project and running 8 miles at a time. Both are things I think I'll try and do (in some form or another) next year and in future years, because they're things that are good for me and bring me a lot of joy.

This has been a hell of a year. Obviously some really good things happened, but it was rough for me. It was the year of worrying. 

All spring, I worried about grades and classes and socializing. I worried about law school drama and finding a new apartment in Denver and getting a job in Denver and moving. This summer, I worried making our apartment feel homey and about the bar exam. I worried if I was studying too much or not enough or if my studying was even working. I worried about the bar exam results and finding a long-term job and fitting into my wedding dress and looking thin enough. Then, this fall, I worried about the wedding and looking pretty in pictures and if I would ever get a long-term job and planning for Thanksgiving and the presidential debates and the election and the aftermath. All winter, I've been worrying about doing a good job at work and whether our apartment and car are in good shape for the weather and if I'm working out enough and if we spent too much on Christmas presents (probably, haha) and whether I'm making my friends and family proud and whether I'm going to finish my 12x12 project...

It's been a whole year of a lot of unknowns. I'm not the kind of person who's going to just "trust" that things will work out. I believe very strongly that things work out when you make them work out. There are unknowns in every second of every year, but this year was a big one for me, and for J. A lot of big, stressful stuff happened, and I worried a lot about whether everything would work out like I planned.

I knew 2016 was going to be stressful and that it was going to make me grow and push myself. Given how much we had going on, I'm really happy with how much I got accomplished, even if it wasn't as much as I hoped for.

Tuesday, December 27

Life Lately {vol. 57 + Christmas}

First off, happy holidays to all my friends and family! A lot of people travel during this time of year, so I hope you all got to your destination safe and sound. J had to work every day up until yesterday (Christmas) and has to work this next week too, so we didn't have a chance to fly "home" to South Carolina for Christmas. Fortunately, I had a few days off, so I spent Thursday and Friday of this last week at home, cleaning frantically and getting ready for the holiday here in our apartment. I have today off too, but it's back to work today - which I'm actually super ready for. Lots to do, and I'm excited to get back into the "normal" swing of things!

To catch up, here's what's been happening in my world!

After I took the bar exam but before I got my results, my mom offered to buy me a really nice bag for work (that could hold files, my computer, etc.) that would last me a long time. She gave me a ton of options since I'm not really into purses, and I fell totally in love with this Kate Spade bag! While it shows up really purple in this photo, it's really more of a dark merlot color.

I got my latest Stitch Fix in the mail!

What is it that compels animals to lay on anything you put down? I laid this book down for no more than 5 seconds and Leif immediately crawled over and plopped down, haha.

As I've said before on the blog, I've been trying really hard to purge our apartment of things we don't need. A couple weekends ago, I cleaned out our linen closet, which was the last thing in the apartment that really needed going-through.

I finally finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up! Still need to blog about my review, but I did think parts of it were really useful.

I know I'm a bit of a romantic (okay, a lot of one), but there's nothing more picturesque to me than twinkle lights at night... especially in my own apartment. 😊

I got the chance to wear one of my new sweaters from Stitch Fix to work! It's my new favorite top - so soft, flattering, comfortable, and super cute. I actually have to stop myself from wearing it more than once a week. I have a problem.

Since we had to sell the cat tree when we left New Hampshire (no room in the UBox, unfortunately), Leif has really missed scratching cloth. Weirdly enough, James only wants to scratch cardboard scratchers (fine by me), but Leif has always preferred cloth - which sucks when he wants to scratch at our furniture. Finally, after yelling at him countless times for scratching our mid-century desk chair, I caved and bought him a small "nice" scratching "post." Leif immediately attacked the post and has only scratched at that since! We're all thrilled. Best $25 ever spent. 😊

I added a second set of lights to our bedroom. Because you can't have too many lights, right?

I started my 10th book of the year! I got it in college and have read it before (it's light-hearted and pretty surface level, but a good kind of "fan-fiction"), so it was perfect as a quick read.

My firm invited me to go to a legislative appreciation breakfast that the Colorado Women's Bar Association put on. The breakfast was great (that BACON tho), the coffee was coffee, and I met a bunch of new people!

I love getting pictures from J during the work day. 😊 His schedule is way different from mine, so he often gets to sleep in with the kitties - I'm so jealous, but look how cute they all are!

J and I took a date night to a ramen restaurant in the Highlands called "Uncle," and it was incredible! We're trying to make an effort to get out more, and it's been super fun.

At Uncle, J got the salt and pepper quail appetizer and I got the chilled tofu. His was crunchy and good, but I was ALL about the chilled tofu - plus it was only $3! J ordered the kimchi ramen, while I got the pork belly ramen. J was obsessed with his, but mine wasn't quite for me. I'm not huge into meat, and I think the pork belly was just too "meaty" for me. We went back a few days ago with my bestie Hannah and her partner, Eric, and I got the duck ramen. That was PERFECT for me, so I'm definitely going back to the duck next time.

This was my #2016TopNine, so I felt compelled to include this. I can't help laughing, because literally every picture taken here (except for the picture of my new Kate Spade purse) was taken within a week in October, 2016. Pictures of the rehearsal dinner, the wedding, my pre-wedding haircut, and my name on the list of applicants who passed the Colorado bar exam. Not a diverse nine pictures, but a bunch of great ones nonetheless. 😊

I don't think anyone really understands how much I love clementines. Sometimes before work, I buy two bags just so I don't have to buy more during the week. 😂

I bought us tickets to see the lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens! During the winter season, they put lights on all the plants so you can buy tickets to walk around them at night. J wasn't super into it at first - it was cold, we found a weird parking spot, he was hungry, and he wished he was running - but after my unending optimism and the pretty lights, his attitude improved. Mostly, it was just nice to get out of the apartment (or work).

Plus, I'm a sucker for pretty lights. 😊

Messy apartment, but wearing my favorite sweater that J got me either last Christmas or the one before. If you can't read it, it says "All Men Must Die," from "Game of Thrones." Most of the time, people love it, but every once in a while I meet someone who either doesn't get the reference (or who's just an asshole) and who acts like I'm suggesting we kill all men. I'm only half-kidding about that part. ;)

Christmas wrapping! I'm pretty terrible at wrapping presents, but I did manage to get every present wrapped this year!

2006/2016. My attitude was the biggest change. It's not that I'm necessarily less self-conscious now or more confident, or skinnier, or prettier... It's that I know my worth now. My eyes have been opened to social injustice. I'm no longer ashamed to like what I like. I've gained a real sense of self that I wouldn't change for anything.

I was craving Christmas cookies, so I scoured Pinterest and found a recipe for Spritz cookies! My mom used to make them all the time and they're my favorite cookie - basically just lots of sugar and butter. ;) Usually they're pressed out of this big, hand-held press machine, but I didn't have that, so I just rolled them into small balls and pushed them down with my thumb. They turned out perfect! I took a big batch to work, and they were all gone within the day.

My grandma sewed J and I this PERFECT (purr-fect?) Christmas tree skirt since we didn't have one. I'm not a huge fan of cat-themed stuff, but this print is what dreams are made of for me! Realistic-looking cats in Santa gear, complete with pom-poms?! I am SOLD. 💗

I FINALLY joined a gym in town! As I'm sure you remember, I had a membership at a barre/yoga studio in town all summer, but it was around $80/month and that was adding up fast. So I finally found a gym I liked, which happens to be only a block and a half away from my work and which is only $40/month. The gyms here in town are so overpriced, so this was actually a good deal. It feels SO good to work out again!

I've been trying to make an effort to treat myself more often and make more time for self-care. I'm so "responsible" that I rarely make time for myself beyond watching Netflix when I get home from work. I don't take baths a lot because showers are so much more practical and baths take longer... but I made an exception to use my last both bomb from LUSH! It's called Sex Bomb and it's my favorite one. Anything that turns my bath water pink is alright by me.

My sweet boys. They hardly ever sleep next to or near each other, so I had to document it.

I'm terrible at keeping plants alive, and I loved the dichotomy between the plants and the snow outside.

I bought myself a present since I was already shopping on Amazon. I needed a new planner for 2017, though I didn't expect it to be quite this big.

Last Sunday, I went over to my friend Rachel's house to make gingerbread houses with her and her family. It was actually my first time making a gingerbread house, but it was a blast! I made one house for me (on the left) and one for J (on the right). They're not very pretty, but they were tons of fun to make!

All the treadmills and ellipticals were taken when I got to the gym the other morning, so I decided to do fifteen minutes on the stairmaster. It. Kicked. My. Butt. It was SO difficult, but I loved the struggle. I had to stop by the grocery store before work to pick up a salad for lunch, so I also picked myself up a donut to treat myself! 😊

Phew! I was exhausted all day from my stairmaster workout.

On Wednesday last week, I decided to try out the treadmill again. I did two miles - basically running half and walking half.  I loved it! I haven't been running at all lately, and it made me really rethink that. I loved the workout and can't wait to go running today!

Thursday morning, I asked J to help my dye my hair! I've been wanting to go dark for a while now, mostly due to the weather, but I'd been avoiding it due to time and indecision. It's kind of a red-ish brown now, which I love! At the very least, it's a change of pace which I desperately need.

After going grocery shopping, I picked up an asian chicken salad from Trader Joe's for dinner.

Thursday was my dad's birthday, though I missed it since I wasn't in South Carolina. My dad sent me this picture of him at dinner with my family, and it makes me sooo happy seeing him so happy.

That night, I had some wine and watched "The Santa Clause" while J was working.

My little baby is such a ham!

My mom sent me her Chex Mix recipe last week, and I finally had a chance to make it on Friday! It wasn't quite as good as hers, but I made some changes to the recipe - taking out the nuts (I'm not a fan except concerning raw almonds, weirdly enough) and the corn Chex (I added more rice Chex and wheat Chex, because I prefer them anyway).

The finished product of all the Chex mix. There was sooo much, but I'm glad because we've been eating it like crazy!

J had to work on Christmas Eve even though it was his birthday, but since I had the day off, I relaxed with a face mask, champagne mixed with raspberry/cranberry spritzer, and watched "Fixer Upper" pretty much all day!

My bosses got me a gift card to a really nice seafood restaurant for Christmas, so I made reservations for Saturday to celebrate J's birthday! I didn't realize it was in Union Station until a day or two beforehand, but it looked beautiful!

I started with oysters (💗💗💗) while J had he crab soup with sherry whip!

My handsome birthday boy 💗

I'm so in love with this dish: I got two appetizers as my entree, and this one was fried sardines with roasted squash and mushrooms. It was earthy and sweet and salty and PERFECT!

This was my other app/entree: scallops with radicchio, grapefruit, and honey. It was also delicious, but I wasn't expecting it to be so bitter. It really brought out the sweetness of the scallops, which I wouldn't usually describe as sweet. 

We celebrated Christmas on Sunday morning and Facetimed with my family while we opened presents. My little brother got J this horse mask on my recommendation and it's killing me! 😂

Usually I get the cats a couple presents, but since we're saving to get them a cat tree, we didn't get them anything this year. I felt bad for like, a moment - until I realized they would have tons of fun with the boxes and wrap.

I got a hell of a haul this year: Chex Mix and a container from my Grandma, a luggage scale, tons of coffee, chocolate-covered marshmallows (they're already gone), Takis, chocolate, carmel apple pops, an Instax mini with film, a cover for an iphone chord, a Game of Thrones coloring book, a "Boss Babes" coloring book, The Forest Feast cookbook, Happy Hippie body wash from LUSH, two kinds of tea from Starbucks, rose water toner from LUSH, a LUSH solid shampoo bar, Advil (from my mom, since she used a bunch of mine over Thanksgiving), a name plate that says, "What Would Beyonce Do?", some knee-high socks, two t-shirts, two pairs of running leggings, a work outfit from Banana Republic, a green plaid shirt from Urban Outfitters, the 5th season of Ally McBeal, two minimizer bras, "Missoula," some booties, a pair of black flats that I badly needed, a whole bunch of spices (not pictured), and (also not pictured) a Roomba from J's mom!

This is one of the t-shirts I got from my parents. I can't wait to wear it to work!

J was exhausted after opening presents for about four hours. He went back to bed for a few hours, and then came back out to the living room to play video games.

I started (and finished) this cookbook that I wanted sooo badly! It makes me want to throw a party for all my friends, though I'm sure I wouldn't be able to manage it so effortlessly as the author seems to. 😊
I normally would wear leggings and a sweater all day if I wasn't going to work, but I purposefully got dressed up today so I could wear my new boots (and my flannel and new necklace)!

This is honestly the first flanel shirt I've ever owned and I am OBSESSED. 

As much as I loved this break, I'm really excited to go back to work and to celebrate this new year! I'm sooo sick of 2016 and ready for it to end. I know I'm not the only one, haha. I hope you all had as good of a holiday as I did, whether your gifts were practical, fun, or both!