Monday, December 31, 2012

Document: December

Oh. my. goodness!  I can't believe another year is gone!

12 in 2012.
I posted an update of my progress through the year a few days ago, but I really feel like having set goals helped me to use my time wisely and productively.  I'll be doing something a bit different for 2013, but it was so exciting to see how much I was able to accomplish this year.

Even though I ended the year with a decent record (90 books, 41 new books), I only read four books in December, and two of those were textbooks I finished for school.  I was pretty busy with Finals and Holiday Baking, but I think the biggest difference was that I began crocheting a lot more this month instead of reading to relax.  I am really excited to get back on track with reading this next year ;)

December was the month of baked goods, but due to some camera malfunctions, I didn't get to post any pics!  I was able to make lots of cookies and fudge, AND Doug and I were able to cook and eat at home much more than we had been during the first week of the month.

As for January, you'll just have to be patient ;)  I have picked some new goals for 2013, and I am so excited to move forward next year!!!

Delicious: Meal Plan

Doug and I went shopping last week after Christmas for enough food to last for two and a half weeks!  Thanks to my list of Weekly Goals, I realized I never posted our meal plan; this plan will cover us until we leave for our trip to Florida ;)

Monday (12/31) -- Tuna Melts
Tuesday -- Fish Fry w/ Potato Fries
                  Eating Out w/ Family
Wednesday --  Steak w/ Mexican Rice
                        Pork Stir Fry w/ Fried Rice
Thursday -- Meaty Spaghetti w/ Spinach
Friday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Rice
Saturday -- Hamburger Helper
Sunday -- Beef Roast w/ Potatoes, Peppers, and Onion

Monday (1/7) -- Sliced Steak and Spinach Alfredo
Tuesday -- Eat Out for my Birthday!!!
                  Breaded Pork w/ Baked Potatoes
Wednesday -- Soup and Sandwiches
                       Buffalo Chicken, Cheddar, and Spinach Pasta
Thursday -- Steamed Shrimp w/ Cheddar Broccoli Rice
Friday -- Steak w/ Fried Rice
Saturday -- Grilled Chicken w/ White Cheddar Shells
Sunday -- Pork Fajitas w/ Fajita Rice
Monday (1/14) -- Tuna Helper

De and Doug's Den: Favorite Books of 2012

After posting about the books I read this year, I was asked about what my favorite books/series of the year were.  A lot of the books and series that I love I have blogged about, so I'm going to try to focus on the new books I read this year ;)

The Alchemyst Series by Michael Scott
I had read the first few books of the series prior to this year, but The Necromancer and The Warlock were absolutely brilliant (and I am expecting the same from the conclusion of the series, The Enchantress).  For someone who loves all mythology, this blend of Egyptian, Norse, Greek, Roman, and more (including historical figures like Virginia Dare and Machiavelli) has so much action and intrigue; the plot is ever-changing and rushing forward like a river, while the characters try to adapt to maintain control.  Just excellent.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This series (and movie) swept the nation in 2012, but it is the first book in the series that really captures the quintessential struggles of life under a strict regime, so strict that children are forced to fight to the death annually.  The other books of the trilogy (Catching Fire and Mockingjay) are also excellent books (and contain much more action and perspective than the opening book of the series), but the depth and character development of the first book is practically unmatched in the remainder of the series.

Something Blue by Emily Giffin
I had so been looking forward to reading Something Borrowed that I almost didn't bother reading the follow-up Something Blue; I am so glad I did!  While Something Borrowed had a lot of suspense and emotion, Something Blue was a journey.  Full of emotion and personal development/growth, Darcy's story was so much more than I could have hoped for from this sequel.

The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
I honestly tried picking one of the three books of the series, but I just couldn't!  Of the three books I have read, all were witty and well planned; I can normally figure out what is happening in a mystery/detective novel, but these books all surprised me.  Definitely more on the "Chick Lit" side of mystery novels, but easy to read and so hilarious!

The New How to Study Your Bible Book and Workbook by Kay Arthur (et al)
This set was on my Christmas List for a reason!  I love Kay Arthur's method of Inductive Bible Study, and the new book and workbook help explain the principles in more detail.  I found book to be very helpful in explaining her methodology further and how to use this in my own study.  The workbook had printed Bible passages from different genres (epistle, prophecy, poetry, narrative, etc) and instructions to assist the reader in learning how to do this kind of study.  This is a must read for anyone looking to dig deeper in studying the Bible.

Surprising Insights from the Unchurched by Thom Rainer
This was an assigned book for one of my classes, but it gave so much insight (ha ha) to what people are looking for from the church.  Most churches are using "seeker sensitive" tactics to draw in outsiders and new members, but most "unchurched" people came to church due to a relationship they had with a member (their friend, their sibling, their child, their parent, etc).  They stayed because the people (and especially the pastor) were friendly and welcoming.  Many of them appreciated and stayed due to the strong message and stance the pastor and church took on sin and moral issues.  This book is such an eye-opener for anyone in ministry or involved in a church.

The Green Letters by Miles Stanford
Each chapter is short (2-5 pages) but very full of ideas, Scripture, and thoughts from Christian greats.  It took me a few chapters to understand where the author was coming from, but he moves so slowly and so methodically so that the reader must understand and accept each principle into his or her own life before moving forward.  Every principle builds on the last, making this a great book to work through in a small group or in personal study.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
This book lays out the disciplines that every Christian should apply to their own lives.  What I loved about it was that it not only listed and disciplines and explained their necessity, it gave many ways in which the readers could apply those disciplines to their lives.  Whitney begins with the two most important disciplines (Bible Reading and Prayer) in order to build a strong foundation to begin putting the remaining disciplines into practice.  So great for personal growth, an accountability team, or small groups.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Dec 30-Jan 5)

I can't believe how much has happened in the last week!  With our relaxing trip to NC in the middle of the week, it feels more like two weeks ;)

1.  Cleaning, Cleaning, and more Cleaning! -- The kitchen still needs some work
2.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!) -- Just realized I never did my blog!  Oops...

3.  Safe Trip and Fun Time in NC
4.  Relax and Enjoy Christmas w/ Friends and Family
5.  Start thinking through Goals for 2013 ;)

The next two weeks are my "down" weeks before classes begin and our trip to FL.  I am hoping to be setting up my new laptop this week and relaxing for my birthday next week, but there are still some things around the apartment and for back-to-school that need to be done!

1.  Order textbooks!
2.  Inform Professors about FL Trip (during 1st week of school)

3.  Update Menu Plan (and blog!)
4.  Finish cleaning the kitchen
5.  Laundry!

6.  Get back to exercising normally (burn off those Christmas goodies!)
7.  Set up Doctor, Dentist, and Hair appts
8.  Relax and Enjoy New Years'

Saturday, December 29, 2012

De and Doug's Den: The Books of 2012

This year, I set a goal to read 100 books including 50 I had never read before.  While I ended a little short of my goal (90 books, 41 new books), I still can't believe how much reading I was able to do this year!!! 

This post is just a summarized list of what I read this year ;)

The Alchemyst Series (books 1-5)
Avalon High
Harry Potter Series (7 books)
Heroes of Olympus Series (3 books)
The Hobbit
Hunger Games Trilogy (3 books)
The Kane Chronicles (books 1-2)
Percy Jackson Series (5 books)

Fiction/Chick Lit
Ashley Stockingdale Series (3 books)
The Austen Series (6 books)
Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives
Shopaholic Series (books 1-5)
Sleeping Beauty Proposal
Something Blue
Something Borrowed

Heather Wells Series (3 books)
Stephanie Plum Series (books 1-3)
Sue Grafton Series (books A-B)
The Westing Game
Women's Murder Club Series (books 1-3)

Religion/Biblical Study
Encountering John from the EBS series
Genesis from the NIVAC series
Genesis in Time and Space
The Gospel Accoridng to John from the PNTC series
How to Read Genesis
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
The New How to Study Your Bible Book
The New How to Study Your Bible Workbook

Church Administration
Innovate Church
Perspectives on Church Government, 5 Views
Preventing Sexual Abuse in Congregations
The Reformers and Their Stepchildren
Surprising Insights from the Unchurched

7 Practices of Effective Ministry
And He Dwelt Among Us
The Green Letters:  Principles of Spiritual Growth
Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders
The Principle of Position:  Foundations of Spiritual Growth
Radical:  Taking Back your Faith form the American Dream
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

I think the thing that surprised me most about this list is the range/diversity of books that I read this year.  Obviously, I had to read a lot for school (20 books from this list), but I feel that I gained a lot from the books that I read this year.  After all, that is the point of reading!

For 2013, I want to continue reading a variety of books and new (to me) books, and I hope I've inspired some of you to join me in reading next year!!!  Whether it's 1 book each season, 1 book each month, or 1 book each week, START READING! ;)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Determination: 12 in 2012

I cannot believe that 2013 is right around the corner!  This time of year is always so exciting for me; I love the joy and merriment that comes with Christmas and New Years, as well as getting to celebrate my birthday!  Even more so, I love that feeling of starting fresh, of wiping the slate clean and moving forward, full of opportunities and motivation ;)

In my journey to slow down and enjoy life, I decided to take my New Years' Resolutions and spread them out over the year in order to accomplish one goal per month.  This worked very well for this last year; I was able to focus and accomplish much more this year than I thought I would!!!

-- Have an Organized Apartment/Spring Cleaning (updated here)
-- Update Photos/Scrapbook (updated here)
-- Make Memories (we made so many memories, including a trip to NC and to Williamsburg, and having friends from FL visit)
-- Spring Cleaning (in April here and here)
-- Update Apartment (Apartment-versary) (in June)
-- Clothing Control (updated here and here)
-- Holiday Prep (updated for Halloween here and Thanksgiving here)
-- Health Goals (affected by my appendix, but updated here and here)
-- Holiday Baking (listed here)

In addition, I had wanted to cook new recipes this year and read 100 books.  I will be posting about the books I read this year in a few days, but I really enjoyed how much cooking I was able to do this year, especially this spring and summer!

Most of all, I think I learned a lot this year.  I learned how to deal with being sick while Doug is also sick.  I've learned to adapt and be flexible when things change or emergencies happen.  I've learned to care more about the people in my life than the things (or the cleanliness/organization of those things).  I've learned that it's okay to not have everything together; that I can take a break, regroup, and try again.  I've learned how to make the most of my time and energy.  Most of all, I hope I have learned how to take all these lessons and move forward to grow even more next year ;)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (12/23-29)

Well, it took a few days and almost all my energy, but I finally managed to get all my Christmas Baking done and shipped!

1.  Lots and Lots of Baking
2.  Mail out Christmas Baskets to PA and FL (by 12/18)
3.  Laundry!

4.  Eat real food (and not Basket leftovers!) -- We ate real food, but more takeout than I wanted ;)
5.  Spend time with friends

Due to some camera problems, I can't share as much as I wanted, but I'm am looking forward to a break this week and some relaxation in NC!!!

1.  Cleaning, Cleaning, and more Cleaning!
2.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)

3.  Safe Trip and Fun Time in NC
4.  Relax and Enjoy Christmas w/ Friends and Family
5.  Start thinking through Goals for 2013 ;)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Dec 16-22)

Wow!  This week has just flown by, but it has been really good to finally begin Christmas Break!

1.  Greek Review and Final Exam
2.  Take John Exam

3.  Christmas Basket Cooking
4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Decorate for Christmas!

6.  Go see the Hobbit this weekend ;)
7.  Watch Christmas movies
8.  Relax a bit!!!

This past week is one of the rare occasions where I accomplish everything on my list, though I did not do as much baking as I would have liked.  I'm still doing the first batches of everything (which normally ends up being extra or for Doug and I, not for baskets), but this week I will be working like crazy to finish up baskets to mail out to family and friends and distribute before we leave for NC for Christmas!


1.  Lots and Lots of Baking
2.  Mail out Christmas Baskets to PA and FL (by 12/18)
3.  Laundry!

4.  Eat real food (and not Basket leftovers!)
5.  Spend time with friends

It's a short list this week, but I will be spending almost all day Monday baking, as well as most of Thursday and Friday.  With no classes or homework, I should still be able to get some rest and enjoy my time off!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

Finals are officially over!!!

(Except for that online one I am taking today, but still.)

If you think this means I can go back to cooking "regular" meals instead of fast and easy meals, you would be wrong!  Since I am packaging and mailing some of the Christmas Baskets, I will be working hard over the next week to get everything made, packed, and shipped to arrive by Christmas.  Since I will be doing a lot of baking, I will still be trying to plan for quick and easy meals through Christmas!

On the plus side, I planned too many meals for Finals Week (we had a lot of leftovers), so I have some meals still ready to go ;)

Thursday:  Take Out -- Celebrate end of Finals!
Friday:  Brunch for Lunch (before seeing The Hobbit)
Saturday:  Soup and Sandwiches
Sunday:  Broiled Salmon w/ Pasta
Monday:  Grilled Chicken w/ Pasta
Tuesday:  Pizza
               Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
Wednesday:  Taco Pockets
                     Soup and Sandwiches
Thursday:  Chicken Fajitas w/ Rice
Friday:  Hamburger Helper
Saturday:  Take Out!
Sunday:  Tuna Melts
Monday-Wednesday:  In NC with family!
Thursday:  Take Out during the drive home
Friday:  Pizza

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Dec 9-15)

This week has been absolutely crazy, but it's over now!  Needless to say, I feel pretty good about the week.

1.  Greek Review/Final Prep -- Saving that for closer to the Exam
2.  Submit John Paper (due 12/9)
3.  Finish John class early!!! -- Just the exam left to take...tomorrow!

4.  Christmas Basket Baking Shopping
5.  Laundry, Laundry, Laundry! -- still working on it

6.  Make time to Exercise
7.  Get to bed early!

This week is Finals Week, but now that my paper is complete, things will be a lot easier!

1.  Greek Review and Final Exam
2.  Take John Exam

3.  Christmas Basket Cooking
4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Decorate for Christmas!

6.  Go see the Hobbit this weekend ;)
7.  Watch Christmas movies
8.  Relax a bit!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Delicious: Christmas Baskets 2012

I am SO excited to begin baking for Christmas!!!

Although, mainly I'm just excited for an excuse to "taste" lots of yummy treats and use my KitchenAid Mixer several times a week.

Anyways!!!  Since I had this week off from grocery shopping (for "real" food), I was able to go and focus on what I needed for the Christmas Baskets.  Last year I made a lot of recipes for Christmas Baskets (including Hot Chocolate Mix, cookies, my Gram's famous fudge, and candy), but this year, I wanted to focus on making a few really great recipes and perfecting them.

So, here's what I'm making this year!!!

Apple Oatmeal Cookies.  I made these last year for our baskets, and they were a big hit!  Not only do they taste Christmasy (apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon), but they are diabetic-friendly, easy to make, and the whole house smells yummy ;)

Gram's Famous Fudge.  This is the ultimate Christmas sweet for my mom's side of the family.  It's just not Christmas without Grandma Fudge, and since she rarely makes fudge anymore (maybe one tray a year), it is such a treat to have her fudge pot, her recipe, and her blessing to work hard to recreate her magic ;)  While the recipe is a family secret, I try to share the finished product with as many people as possible.

Sugar Cookies w/ Royal Icing.  This is brand new to me.  Even though I consider myself a cookie expert (after years of helping my dad bake 100+ dozen cookies each Christmas), I have rarely made sugar cookies.  I got a highly recommended recipe for cookies that shouldn't lose their shape, and very detailed instructions and recipe for Royal Icing.  I decided to do snowflakes and Christmas trees since those are pretty simple to decorate (mostly one color with small decorations/details), so they shouldn't be too difficult, right?

Chocolate Slabs Two Ways.  When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I was really excited.  Not only are these chocolate slabs easy to make, they are easily customized for whatever flavors you like!  I am planning on making White Chocolate Peppermint Slabs and German Chocolate Cake Slabs (Semi-Sweet Chocolate with Coconut and Walnuts).  This seem quick, easy, and classy to me; I hope everyone else thinks so too!

Puppy Chow.  I really liked the Chocolate Covered Pretzels I made last year, but I wanted something that would a bit easier to make.  Puppy Chow was the obvious choice.  It is crunchy, chocolately, sweet, and only takes 3-4 minutes to make.  While there are dozens of recipes online, I had tons of friends who made this on a regular basis in college, so I memorized a basic recipe from them ;)

Even though I have a Paper to finish and two finals looming, making these treats is a great way to take a study break and celebrate Christmas a little bit every day!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (12/2-8)

I think I did pretty well last week with my goals:

1.  Greek -- 2 quizzes, 2 assignments
2.  John Paper Research

3.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
4.  Start New Cleaning Schedule -- Doing what we can ;)
5.  Laundry!

6.  Keep Exercising!
7.  Schedule a Hair Appt -- Hopefully calling tomorrow!
8.  Have an Spa-at-Home Day ;)

This week will be really interesting and fun though!  Classes end Wednesday, which begins Finals Week; I am also beginning my Christmas Basket Baking this week.  Doug and I are also on the verge of sickness, and I am really hoping that we can get extra rest (and extra vitamins!) to stay healthy for just one more week!

1.  Greek Review/Final Prep
2.  Submit John Paper (due 12/9)
3.  Finish John class early!!!

4.  Christmas Basket Baking Shopping
5.  Laundry, Laundry, Laundry!

6.  Make time to exercise
7.  Get to bed early!