Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thirty Before 30: 6 Months In

An update on my Thirty Before 30 list is well overdue. I can't believe that it is already the end of January. My 29th birthday is 4 months away, which leaves me only 16 months to complete every item on this list.

To catch up, you can read my entire list here: Thirty Before 30

My last update was on August 28. You can read that update here: 1 Month In

In these updates, I will only list the things that I have accomplished or the progress that I have made towards larger goals.

Make at least 5 Quilts (including one for Parker and Maggie): In Progress (2/5)
I have currently completed 2 quilts, and I am working on my 3rd. None of those have been for Parker and Maggie. Hopefully, I can get theirs done before their birthdays this year. I think that I will go over my original goal of 5 quilts. I have so many ideas and so many things that I want to do.  The 2 that I have finished were both donated to my church's Harvest Sale auction in October. 

One was this simple baby quilt. 

And the other was this handprint quilt.  
I will do more detailed posts about them later. 

Watch at least 10 movies, made in the 1980s, that I haven't seen before: DONE
As of my last update, I was 4/10. Since then, I have watched at least 6 more. Netflix has been my friend, especially late at night when I can't sleep. Here's a list of all the 1980s movies that I have watched: 
  • Pretty In Pink
  • Girls Just Want to Have Fun
  • Flashdance
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Say Anything
  • Clue
  • License to Drive
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
  • An Officer and a Gentleman
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Playing for Keeps
That's 11... I will probably continue to watch some 80s movies... because there are SO many that I haven't seen. I tried to throw in some different one's so they weren't all 80s teen movies. I still have some suggestions from other people that I want to watch. I will probably more than double my original goal of 10. 

Read 50 books (including 5 classics and 10 nonfiction): In Progress (2/50)
I'm really not doing good on keeping up a good pace on this... so I will have to catch up soon. So far, I've only read 2 books, both of which were by the same author. I blogged a lot about "Raw Edges" by Sandra D. Bricker. I also read her Christmas novellas "Merry Humbug Christmas." 

I'm currently reading 2 books, and I have a ton downloaded on my Kindle... so I need to play catch up a lot on this goal. 

Direct the Christmas Play at Church: DONE
Most of November and December were dedicated to directing the Christmas play at my church. I worked with about 40 kids between the ages of 1 and 11 to put on the play. We used "Sing a Song of Christmas" from Brentwood Benson Publishing. It was a lot of hard work, but it turned out great! I'm waiting for my copy of the DVD so that I can sit back and view it without wearing my 'director' hat. I've had many compliments on the play, and I'm already thinking up ideas for next year. It was such a great experience working with those kids. 

Overall, I have 2 items completely checked off, and there is progress on a couple other ones. I really need to step up my game... I'm a little behind where I wanted to be at this point, but I still have time. I think that all of them are manageable. I am going to take some time to sit down and really make out a plan of when to get things done, and if I need to make a couple of changes to the list, I will. It is my list, and I reserve the right to edit it a little bit.  Hopefully by the end of next month, I will have a lot more progress to report.

Do you have a list of goals? How are you coming on completing them? 
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Honey Apple Cinnamon Pork Loin in the Crock Pot

Sunday, our church Relay for Life team hosted a crock pot lunch after church to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Basically, everyone on the team brought one pot dishes, or crock pot dishes and then for a donation, people could get some of whatever they wanted to eat.

I like cooking in the crock pot because its easy... but I don't do it a lot because a lot of crock pot recipes aren't intended for just one person, and I'm really not a fan of eating leftovers for days on end. So, whenever I get the chance to make one of the dishes I have pinned on my crock pot dishes board, I jump at it.

Some time last year, I made Honey Apple Pork Loin using this recipe. I love apples... and honey... and cinnamon, and I'm not a huge fan of pork loin, unless it is really cooked right. While it was good, I felt like the flavors were a little too mild for me.

I decided to make it again, but to change up a few things to enhance the flavor. The original recipe calls for Red Delicious apples. Since I'm an apple lover, I know that there are a lot of apples that have much more flavor than the standby Red Delicious, and that Red Delicious aren't really recommended for cooking or baking. When I was at the grocery store, the best option that they had was a Fuji apple. They are Red Delicious cross breed, and have a much better taste, in my opinion. So, I sliced up 2 Fuji Apples, placed them in the bottom of the crock pot, gave them a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, and drizzled with honey.

Then, to add more flavor to the actual pork, I cut the slits in it like the original recipe, but I then sprinkled the whole pork loin with cinnamon, and gave it a good rub. I sliced another apple and placed them in the slits that I'd cut into the pork. Once that was all done, I gave it a very very generous drizzle of honey. I put the remaining apple slices on top and sprinkled with cinnamon again. This is what  it looked like right before I turned the crock pot on. 

One other change that I made, to enhance the flavor, and to ensure that it wouldn't dry out, I added about 2 cups of apple juice to the pot. Since I had a lot more meat, I cooked this on low for about 10 hours (over night) so it was ready to go right around lunch time.  Here's what it looked like halfway through the cooking. 

It smelled so good while it was cooking! I couldn't wait to try it... Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of it when it was finished because I dropped it off and by the time I got over there after church, it was almost gone!  There was just enough for me to get a taste... and it was so good. A big improvement over the last time. The flavors were so much better. It shredded nicely and the apples were so full of flavor. 

This is definitely one that I will be making again and again. What is your favorite crock pot dish?  photo signature_zps44215db5.png


Friday, January 24, 2014

Pit & Peak is Back!


My favorite link up Pit and Peak is back! Allie and Jen are hosting now, and I'm so excited that they are doing this link up again. 

Most people that are doing it this week are writing their posts, but I decided to vlog mine, because sometimes it is easier just to talk than it is to write out things. So here is my Pit & Peak... 

Sorry that I kind of rambled for a bit... 

So in the video, I mentioned that I'm going to start giving some shout outs to a couple of blog posts that I really enjoyed over the prior week. This is going to be completely random... just posts that I really liked, or that I resonated with in some fashion. This week, you should check out: 

It Is Well With My Soul

What are you Pits & Peaks this week? Have you read any blog posts that you would recommend? 
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Clean Slate

I am ridiculously excited about today. Last week, I officially changed my major (again) and today, I begin the classes that I need to finish. This is the beginning of the end of school for me. I feel as if the slate has been wiped clean, and I am starting fresh. 

There is obviously a long back story to this (sudden) change in my major, so I will try to give you the abridged version. 

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher. I worked extremely hard in High School in order to obtain a highly regarded scholarship, which I was awarded. Two years into my degree, I decided that I didn't want to teach anymore, and that I wanted to go into Business Management. Then I got engaged, and we all know how that ended. School was no longer a priority for me... I just stopped going... until, I got laid off from my very corporate job. 

Ironically, the day that I got laid off would have been my first day as a teacher, if I had stuck with the 4 year plan and graduated on time. I took this as a huge sign from God that in the classroom is where I belonged. Because my GPA had suffered and was incredibly low, I decided to sit out for 3 years and reapply to school under their forgiveness policy. 

In 2011, I re-enrolled at ECU and with forgiveness, my GPA was back up and I was re-admitted into the Elementary Education program. Things went great the first semester... and then the combination of working full time, going to school full time and clinical depression got the best of me. My grades started dropping and I just wasn't happy.  This continued for a few semesters... throw in some advising changes and some unnecessary classes and it just wasn't a good combination. 

Last Monday, I met with my advisor and the director of the advising center. They presented me with a couple of options... one of which was changing my major to a new program that ECU is offering... a Bachelor of Science in University Studies. They said that because I had a wide variety of classes under my belt, that this program might be a good fit for me. 

Basically, it is kind of a "create your own degree" program, within set parameters. On Tuesday and Friday of last week, I met with the advisor for this new program, and got excited about school again. There is a very real possibility that I can graduate this summer. 

So what will this degree program allow me to do? Several things. I can still get a teaching license. In North Carolina, there is a lateral entry program where I can work towards obtaining a teaching license while I am working in the classroom as a teacher. They accept graduates with various Bachelor's degrees. This would be the most perfect path for me. I could have a job as a teacher in August. 

However, the Education field is changing so much these days. I'm not sure that it is where I want to be 'stuck' forever. Having this degree (and a Communications minor) will allow me to have a fall back option if after a few years of teaching, I decide it isn't for me. 

So today, a week after classes have already started, I am walking into my new home at ECU. I am excited, nervous, and anxious... and all the other emotions that are mixed in there. My notebooks are organized, my pencils are sharpened and my book bag is packed. 13 semester hours are ahead of me and I have a great feeling about this. 

I'm thankful that this option was presented to me. I was so unhappy in the Elementary Education program. Most days I felt like this: 

But today, I'm looking forward to this new challenge... It will take me less time to complete this, there are less hoops to jump through and I have options.  Here's to putting all of those reasons that my slate is clean behind me and embracing the fact that I have a new start to focus on! 

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Getting older...

I was driving the other day, and started thinking about how I can tell I'm getting older. Then today, I checked my bloglovin and saw that Chels at Red Velvet Rooster had posted a list of signs she is getting old. I decided to follow suit and present to you...
5 Signs that I am getting Older

  • When speaking to someone, I say things like "When I was a kid...." or "I remember when..." or "It used to be..."
  • Babies that I remember being born are now old enough to have their own babies. 
  • The phrase "Kids these days..." has slowly made its way into my vocabulary. 
  • Hair color is necessary... not just because I feel like changing it. 
  • I relate to lists like these (and feel nostalgic) : 

In a few months, I will begin the last year of my 20's.... and that makes me feel really old...
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Internet ADD aka Online Procrastination

The Internet is a wonderful thing. There are so many interesting things that you can find online... There is a wealth of information readily available at your fingertips. Most days, I feel like I live online. I do a lot of work online... but I also waste a lot of time online too.

I suffer from Internet Attention Deficit Disorder... I like to call it, iADD. I sit down with one goal in mind, and before I know it, I have started doing fifteen other things, and the task that I started out to do has not been completed. For example, yesterday, I sat down to write my blog post about being a church kid and a church adult. Before I knew it, I was on the church website, on the church Facebook page, on YouTube watching videos that had nothing to do with church, checking my email, checking JWA email, posting on a Facebook group... and then it was time for a meeting, and my blog post had not yet been finished.

Here are the top 5 things that contribute to my iADD:

  1. Facebook - I love Facebook to death, but it is the biggest time suck ever. There is just so much to do on there. Pretty pictures... and videos... and links to explore... Not to mention, the addicting games and groups... and the notifications that must be checked as soon as they arrive... 
  2. YouTube - For me, this one has become huge lately. Why do I care what some young 20 something in California is doing all day long? Why am I watching videos about Natural Mamas who eat their placenta? Why, just why? Because it is there... and it must be watched... Darn those suggested videos and their catchy titles. HOURS that I can never get back have been wasted watching pointless videos made by people who are making thousands of dollars from YouTube videos that I don't even care about... 
  3. Pinterest - This one has gotten a little bit better for me as of late. I used to spend hours at a time scouring through pins and creating boards of things that I will never use. I have thousands of pins and people are always adding more... What I have started doing, is only opening Pinterest when I am looking for something specific. It has become like Google for me... If I'm planning a party or something like that, I open it up and look for ideas. Some days, I still waste time looking for hair ideas that I will never be able to recreate or food that I know I won't ever attempt to make. 
  4. Blogs - I have this crazy of habit... when I find a new blog, and I've read a couple of posts that I like, I will go into their archives and read the posts in chronological order. So, I go back to the beginning and read all of the posts... many of which contains links, and then I'm stuck in this vicious cycle where I'm clicking on links and reading all the things that are to be read. I jump from blog to blog, and sometimes even go back and read my own old posts... 
  5. Wikipedia- Maybe I'm just a nerd, but I can (and have been known to) spend hours on Wikipedia, looking up useless information. Usually, this happens when I am reading something else or watching a video and something strikes my attention and I feel the need to look up more information about it. No one ever read the encyclopedia as much as I read Wikipedia. 
In the time that it has taken me to write all of this out, I have posted a Facebook status... Shared a photo on Facebook... done a few google searches... checked school email, checked Blackboard for school... replied to some comments... checked Pinterest a couple of time... and I currently have 7 tabs open in Chrome. I need help. 

Do you suffer from iADD? Should we start a support group? Would we ever get anything done? 

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

On Being a Church Kid and a Church Adult

The other day, my friend Michelle, shared a blog post on Facebook that was entitled "20 Signs You Grew Up as a Church Kid." Growing up as the quintessential Free Will Baptist Church kid, I related with so many of the signs that the blogger wrote about. As I read through the list, I found myself laughing, shaking my head in agreement, reminiscing on my own youth group experiences and longing to ensure that the church kids I work with now are able to look back in 10 or 20 years and still relate to parts of the post.

I've attended the same church since I was 2 weeks old. My family has been a part of that church for much longer. Growing up, I was heavily involved and was always at church. I wasn't one of those kids who felt like I was being forced to go to church, I wanted to be there. My friends were there. We had a large youth group, who for the most part, were all close friends. My best memories come from being a part of that group.

As I previously mentioned, I was heavily involved with my church, as a child and especially as a teenager. A week of my summer was spent in the beautiful NC Mountains at Cragmont, at Young People's Bible Conference. I met wonderful people, some of who I still keep in contact with. Every May, we always went to the State Youth Convention... this is where I was introduced to eating strawberries with powered sugar... and where I grew closer with my church friends, youth leaders and other youth from all over NC. I was a state youth representative, and a state youth officer. I taught Sunday School and worked in the Nursery. I directed Vacation Bible School... I sang in the choir, and sang solos when requested. I was as involved as I could be.

And then something changed... I went to college, and for the first year or so, stayed somewhat involved, but slowly started pulling away... until eventually, I was only attending church on special occasions, like Easter, Homecoming and Christmas. I was going through a period of a lot of change in my life, and for some reason, church just didn't fit in with that. Church was probably the place that I should have been seeking out, but it got left out.

Fast forward a few years... I felt that something was missing, and that I needed to be in church, but I just didn't feel like I was getting it from my home church. I started visiting a few other places. I liked them, and they were a little more contemporary, but nothing felt like home. It's very hard to go to a church where you don't know a lot of people, especially when you have been in the same church environment for over 20 years. Its even harder, when you are by yourself and the rest of your family is still attending your home church. I was still connected to my church, and was still involved some. I still wrote the bulletin every week... I had planned a couple of the Easter Egg Hunts and still went every so often. I was still a member, but not a faithful one.

Then last year, one of my goals was to be more consistent with my church attendance. I just felt like I needed to get back in there, and be present. I needed to be more active in the church. There was a huge hole that needed to be filled, and church was what was missing. So, when they were looking for a volunteer to direct Vacation Bible School, I said that I would do it. I knew that I needed to start attending more regularly, so I did.

Now, about 7 months later, I hardly ever miss a Sunday... or Wednesday.... or Sunday night. I jumped back in, head first, and I'm serving God through my church in many different areas. I've gone back to the things that I was used to... teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, singing solos, playing my flute during the offertory song... But, I've also found new ways to be involved. Instead of being in the youth group, I am now one of the youth leaders. I'm working with the AWANA program, which was started at my church after I had graduated. I'm keeping busy with all of my roles at the church, but it feels good. It feels like I'm back where I am supposed to be. I've come full circle, and I feel like I am "home" again.

It is still hard to believe that I'm no longer that church "kid," and now I am the church adult that is responsible for instilling the love of Jesus Christ in these kids. I am helping them to make memories. I can only hope that they look back on their church experience in a few years and see the same wonderful memories that I see from my childhood in the church.
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One Little Word

Last year, at the beginning of the year, I posted my "one little word;" a word that I would focus on for the entire year. My word for 2013 was "Consistent." In my post last year, I listed several things that I wanted to be more consistent in doing. Overall, I'm not extremely happy with my consistency last year. I had spurts of being consistent with certain areas, but I was never really consistent with everything at one time. Probably the one thing that I worked on the most was becoming more consistent with my church attendance. I'll post more about that later.

I was thinking about what my one little word for 2014 would be, and I was actually sitting in a church service when it hit me. A friend of mine was singing a song, and it just spoke to me so much. It described what I've been feeling for a long time now.

I've been wasting my time 
I've been losing my mind 
I've been running races 
Still don't know what I've been chasing 
But my eyes still can see 
Bluer skies that wait for me 
And I'm on my way 

Time for me to fly 
Time for me to soar 
Time for me to open up my heart and knock on heaven's door 
Time for me to live 
It's time for me to sing 
Time for me to lay down all my worries and I'll spread my wings 
Time for me to fly

And in that moment, while listening to the song, I knew that my one little word for 2014 should be...
I have felt "stuck" for a long time... in many areas of my life. It's time for me rise above all of the stuff that's been keeping me bogged down and just fly. Soar above all that's been holding me back. 

This year's word is a lot less "measurable," and more of an experience. Here's to flying high in 2014! 
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Monday, January 6, 2014

Well, hello there, 2014: and a 5 for Five

I can't believe that we are almost a week into a new year. Time is flying, and there is always so much to get done. Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat over the past few months, as I have been busy, and haven't had a lot of time to think about life, much less write about it.

The Holidays have come and gone, and I'm slowly trying to pull myself of the associated funk that always seems to creep in during that time of year.

I'm trying to get my blogging mojo back... it has been missing for quite some time. I have been reading a few posts here and there, but I've pretty much been absent from the whole blogging world. Honestly, I think I got too caught up in trying to 'fit in' and grow my readership and all that stuff... I stopped wanted to write blog posts that were important to me... and just write for a new link up everyday. I lost sight of the reason that I started blogging in the first place. I felt like the posts that really mattered, no one was reading or responding to. I have to get past all of that and just keep blogging... maybe the numbers will come, maybe they won't... but I have to just keep writing and not worry so much about all of the statistics..

With the encouragement of some friends (and their moms), I am back. I can't promise that posting will be on a regular schedule or that they will come every day... but I can try to post more and I have a feeling that some people will hold me accountable for that.

I have some plans for some upcoming posts... updates I need to make and changes that I want to make. so stay tuned.

And because I need the motivation, I am linking up with Jenn at Party of One for 5 for Five.

This week, I want to accomplish these 5 things:

  1. Actually start using the planner that I got for Christmas. Yes, we are almost 7 days into 2014, but I haven't written a single thing on my calendar. 
  2. Update the JWA website and send out the newsletter. I'm slipping on my communication duties. 
  3. Give my refrigerator a good cleaning. 
  4. Mail some Tupperware catalogs. 
  5. Write 3 blog posts.
I think that I can get all of those goals accomplished. I will report back next Monday. 

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