Pony Up

It’s time to step up and look back at the resolutions I set at the beginning of the year, to see what I accomplished and how much progress I made.

I only had 3 resolutions last year but they were pretty lofty. Looking back, though I tried to define how I was going to achieve each one but I wasn’t nearly specific enough – and some weren’t even realistic.

Let’s take a look.

1. Project Tone and Tighten: Goal – lose 3 lbs. of holiday weight gain and then maintain while also toning up all over. Verdict: Fail.

To be honest, I don’t think this one was a very good goal. First of all, lose 3 lbs. Really? That’s like the difference from one day to the next just in retaining water! 3 lbs. is laughable! While saying you want to maintain your current weight is good in theory, there are no parameters around that. No one can be the exact same weight every single day. Our bodies are too dynamic. So something like “stay within the 135-140 pound range while continuing to exercise daily and eat a healthy diet” would have been better.

Also, I never took measurements or before/after pics in January so there was no way to measure the “tone all over” part, other than what I can see in the mirror, which is definitely deceiving. That being said, I did try various workout programs (like the 30 day Shred, P90X and Kosama) to add variety to my workouts. I ultimately weigh the same today that I did when I made this resolution so I didn’t lose the 3 lbs but I did tone up a bit.

DSC01088

2. Operation Dream Home Goal – sell our current house and buy our forever home. Verdict: Success!

We put a lot of time, money and effort in to getting our old house market ready and were able to sell it in 3 months, which is really good considering the market we were dealing with. There were some frustrations during that 3 months as I wanted things to move faster, but ultimately we got there.

We also found our dream home! At the time of making my resolution, I didn’t spell out any specifics of what that dream home should have but we later did when we were ready to shop. After searching for what seemed like months and looking at hundreds of houses, the very last one we looked at turned out to be “the one”. We’ve been living in it now for 3 months (OMG!) and couldn’t be happier with our home!

front

3. Mission Debt Diet – Goal – pay off all credit card debt and pay down loans while also creating a nest egg. Verdict: Fail.

This one was definitely not specific or actionable enough. It was also too lofty and not doable, particularly considering Operation Dream Home. I should have come up with specific dollar amounts to put aside each week/month for paying off the credit card and also determined a specific amount for savings. Instead I just threw whatever extra money we had at the credit card. Some months it was only $100 and others it was $600. However, one valuable lesson I learned was that you can’t be so focused on putting all your money toward one thing and forgetting another. I was so hell bent on getting the credit card balance paid off that I would put TOO much money toward it, leaving us with not enough to live on. So I would have to pull money from savings or start charging things, which just defeats the whole purpose. Slow and steady wins the race.

I paid off a good chunk of it for the first part of the year but then as we started working on the house, we added a bunch back on to it. Today, we’re sitting with a little less on the card then we had in January but still have a ways to go. I’m going to carry this goal over to next year only come up with a specific and achievable plan.

There you have it. Overall, I didn’t do all that great. However, I learned lessons that I can apply toward my goals for next year and hopefully be more successful! Stay tuned for my list of goals for 2012!

Oh! One item that I committed to in January which wasn’t really an “official” resolution was to write daily in my Perpetual Journal.

journal

I can happily report that I have done just that! The fun part will be starting back at the beginning come January 1, 2012 and comparing each day of the New Year to the same day the year before. I imagine some days will be eerily similar (“long day at work, I’m tired”) while others will be drastically different (like on the days when we lost a loved one or something of significance happened). Should be interesting!

Pack ’em up, Move ’em out!

Well we did it. We took a deep breath, closed our eyes and stepped off the cliff.

And thank God our realtors were there to catch us.

I’ve been talking for months about needing to call our real estate agents to begin talks of selling our house. We finally called them and set an appointment for last night. I have never sold a house before and had all kinds of questions about how it would work, what we need to do to get the house prepared and when we should aim to have it ready. I feel very dumb when it comes to this kind of thing.

Our realtors, Michael and Kristin, are the ones who sold us our current house. That was a little over 5 years ago. We were so impressed with how they treated us and handled the process that we knew we wouldn’t want anyone else but them helping this time around.

They came over and walked through each room of the house and told us what needed to be done to get it ready. Mostly it’s just cleaning, decluttering and staging.

It’s a very personal thing to have someone analyze your home and tell you what makes it “unappealing” (which, they totally did NOT say, it’s just how I felt. They were super nice about it and had great suggestions). I understand they were looking at it with a critical eye, and from the perspective of a potential buyer, and that it wasn’t a personal reflection on us. But it’s hard not to feel that way. The knick-knacks I think are cute have to go. The photos that I love to look at every day must be taken down. We have to re-arrange some furniture so that it looks more inviting.

All of that to say that we really don’t have to do too much to the house.

We don’t have to repaint or fix anything broken or redo entire rooms. I guess that means we’ve done a pretty good job of maintaining it over the years. And they said our style is tasteful and will go a long ways. All good things.

You wanna know the best part? They suggested we get cracking and have it ready to go by the end of April.

I’ll give you a minute to look at the calendar. Ready? Ok. Yeah. That gives us 4 weeks to do the following:

  • Get a storage unit rented
  • Clean every room from top to bottom with a fine-tooth comb
  • Clean out all closets, drawers, cabinets to just the essentials
  • Pack up all knick knacks and “personal” family type items (photos, etc)
  • Re-arrange furniture in a few of the rooms
  • Take all boxes and various extra furniture to storage
  • Replace a sink or 2 and possibly a bathroom countertop
  • Clean up the yard and plant flowers, lay down mulch, etc
  • Put away all of Isabella’s toys and only keep out those that can fit in to a rubbermaid container
  • Paint or restain all baseboards and woodwork
  • Meet with a mortgage lender to see how much we can afford and how much of a loan we’ll get approved for
  • Start looking for a new house

4 weeks for all that? Pffftt…no problem!

I tell you this – I’m SO glad CJ painted the outside of the house last fall so we don’t have to worry about any of that now. Phew!

Now the new adventure begins! Op Dream Home just got kicked up to high gear!

Ready, set go!

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Samson’s Room

Master Bedroom

Samson’s Room

As mentioned in previous posts, we are planning to sell our home this summer and move to a bigger place. In order to get our current house ready, we need to go through and really clean out the rooms/closets and also do some small maintenance work. I have slacked lately but with spring approaching, it has reminded me that we need to get crackin’! Summer will be here before we know it!

So, I’ve decided to tackle one room/closet each weekend  until we’re done. I’m going to start at the back of the house and move my way up, which meant that this last weekend I knocked out Samson’s room.

Yes, Samson, our dog, has his own room. I thought all dogs got their own rooms, just like all chocolate is good for you. No? Huh.

Ok, so he only has his own room because his kennel is so massive, it practically takes up a whole room. When If he gets to the point that he can be trusted without a kennel and/or we have another child, he will lose his prime real estate. But for now, we let him live under the illusion that he’s high enough in the pack to earn a room of his own.

This was a good place to start because there is not that much in his room and so I knew it would be a quick job (and thus instant gratification). Saturday I tackled the visible surfaces (shelves, top of his kennel which we totally use as a giant table) and storage cabinet. Sunday I cleaned out the closet.

I started with the storage cabinet. It’s basically divided in half with the left side open from top to bottom, with a shelf on top and a rod for hanging stuff. The right side is split into a cabinet on top (with 3 shelves) and 2 drawers down below. The shelves I use to store all my cameras (I have 5), miscellaneous scrapbook stuff, and board games. The drawers contain candles and candle accessories and the left open side is for gift wrapping.  

(NOTE: I am totally OCD when it comes to how I organize my gift wrapping stuff. I have gift bags grouped from largest to smallest and split out between Christmas and all other occasions. I have a container for rolls of wrapping paper, boxes to house ribbons and bows, and then keep extra boxes on the top shelf for wrapping the gifts in. Finally, and this is the piece de resistance, I have all tissue paper neatly folded and hung on hangers, organized by color and pattern. What’s that noise? Was that the sound of my readers mouths hitting the floor in total awe of my mad organizational skills? Oh, wait, no, it was the sound of everyone laughing at my crazy nerdiness. Eh, same same.)

When cleaning out the cabinet, I pretty much just tossed extra boxes, bags and papers that aren’t needed anymore and then shuffled other things around to look neater. I also went through the candles and accessories, getting rid of a lot of them (do I really need 8 votive holders and 5 blue candles? I think not). This freed up one of the drawers completely and left the other one looking much better.

Here’s the result:

Nice, huh?

Next I tacked the top of Samson’s kennel. Most of this was just stuff that got thrown there at one time or other because we were too lazy busy to put it in the right spot. So it was just a matter of taking the items and putting them in their rightful home. Done and done.

From there I tackled the CDs. We have one whole bookcase full of CDs. We also have one full of DVDs but I culled through those last fall so I didn’t spend any time there. Some of the CDs were duplicates, some were just old or ones we didn’t want anymore. I put all those in a shoebox and plan to take them to Half Price Books or CD Warehouse and sell them. I don’t think I’ll get all that much money but hey, a couple bucks is better than nothing!

With that, I was done on Saturday.

Sunday came and it was time to dig in to the closet. Here’s the deal – this closet is CJ’s. He keeps all his clothes in here and I keep all mine in the 2 closets we have in the master bedroom. So what that he has one closet and I have 2? I mean, one of mine is only a half closet so really we’re practically equal. Anyway so most of this closet was going to be CJ’s job to go through. I was not about to decide which of his clothes to keep and which ones he should toss. .

However, in the back of the closet was a whole bunch of my old artwork that I totally forgot I had. It was stuff going all the way back to Jr. High and High School. I spent a lot of time just looking through the pieces and remembering when I created them. It really brought a lot of memories and emotions flooding back. But, I can’t keep it all so I set up 3 piles: Keep, Toss and Sell. I figure, while I may not want to keep them all, some are too good to throw away so I might as well try to sell them. If no one buys, fine, at least I tried.

To be honest, it was hard to decide. For any of you who are artists, you know how personal your work can be. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went in to making these. To throw them away seems heartless and to put them out there for sale really makes me feel vulnerable. But it was a step that was time to take. So I filled one bag with paper for recycling and my portfolio file got filled with items for the trash. Most of those were paintings I’d created during a really dark time about 10 years ago. They are VERY depressing images and it was actually kind of healing to throw those away. It was like closing a chapter on that part of my life.

Now I’m left with items to keep and items to sell. The keepers are few and they will tuck back in the closet nicely without taking up much room. The items to sell create a bit more work for me. Now I have to take pics of each one and post them on this blog (which will come when I have time!). Again, this really makes me nervous but in a good way. I just hope people like them and I can sell at least a couple.

The only other items in this closet were some extra pillows and comforters, which we put in space saver bags (you know, the ones that you use a vacuum to suck the air out of. It’s so fun to do that and watch them shrink down to a fraction of their size. Love it!). Now the 2 comforters and 3 pillows we had, which took up a massive amount of space, are flat and easily slide under the bed or on a top shelf. Woot!

That’s it for Samson’s room. It’s all done and organized (except for the stack of artwork I have to shoot). Feels good to cross one room off the list. Next weekend will be the master bedroom!

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Resolutions Update 2

Is it just me or did February fly by in a wink? Seems like just yesterday I was writing about how we did on our resolutions for January and now I’m checking in again.

To be honest, I don’t have that much to report. Spare time seems to be harder to come by as the days go on. I hardly have time to write blog posts much less do projects around the house. Add to that the fact that I’m exhausted by the time I get home from work each day and you can see why I haven’t made much progress.

Excuses? Yes they are. The fact of the matter is that I haven’t been very motivated. I think I have a mild case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the sense that the cold, dark days make me want to curl up on the couch and hide until Summer rather than clean out a closet or do a workout. I am hoping that as we get in to March and Spring starts to make itself known, I will feel more inclined to take on some projects.

I talked several times this month about my struggles with food and healthy eating. I continue to try and make improvements in that area not so much to lose weight but to feel better. It’s still a struggle every day. I think I’m doing pretty good however we just got several boxes of Girl Scout cookies delivered to our house yesterday! Doh! God is testing me…

We did well with our budget in January. February was pretty good too. While we went over budget in some categories (eating out) we went under in others (groceries) so in total, we were under budget by $48. I’ll take it! Also, I have continued to make regular payments to us (in terms of savings) and extra payments to our credit card. I’m also paying over on the principle of our house payment each month. All of those things are progress and I feel good about that.

One money test will be our summer vacation. We are heading up to Michigan for our niece’s graduation from high school. We are very excited to see that side of the family and help celebrate her accomplishments. However, it’s not going to be cheap. So we are starting to plan and save now so that we don’t have to add on a bunch of charges to the credit card that we’re working so hard to pay off.

As for the house stuff…well I can’t say we’ve done anything there other than maintain status quo. I am, however, going to make it a priority to get 2 closets cleaned out this month and call our real estate agent. Those are relatively small goals and totally doable. I just have to get off my lazy butt!

How are you doing on your resolutions? This is the time of year when people start to fall off the wagon and give up on their goals – so we need to dig deep! Find that resolve and motivation to keep yourself going and let’s help each other!

 

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Obligatory Resolutions Post

Obligatory Resolutions Post

I’ve noticed a theme this year when it comes to resolutions. Seems like everyone I’ve talked to (or read) has said the same thing – they don’t normally do resolutions but this year is different. Why is this year so different for everyone? While I can’t speak for humanity as a whole, I can tell you my position. For me, I’m making resolutions because I feel stronger this year than I ever have about setting and hitting certain goals. In previous years I had some vague notions of what I wanted in my life, but nothing specific. This year, I’m getting down to brass tacks and making things happen!

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s just as important to plan out how you are going to meet a goal as it is to define it.

So, here are my resolutions for this year (BTW, it makes it way more fun if I put catchy names to them so, bear with me and my cheesiness):

Project T&T (Tone and Tighten)

What: Lose the 3 pounds I put on over the holidays and then tone up all over. I REALLY want to get rid of this muffin top and I’d love to have more definition in my arms, legs, and abs. I’m already seeing more tone from doing the one hundred push ups program. Hoping to see even more progress as I continue. But the goal here is to maintain my weight loss so that all the work I did last year doesn’t go to waste.

How: By doing what I already know works – watching calories (I’ve found that 1400 calories a day works for my body when trying to lose weight) and steady workouts. You may have noticed that a couple of weeks ago I added a section to the right sidebar called “Today’s Workout”. In here, I will record what exercises I’ve done each day. This holds me accountable and call also give you ideas if you’re in a workout rut.

Operation Dream Home

What: Sell our current house and buy our forever home (then I can cross that off the bucket list!). To do that, we have to make sure our house is in tip-top shape so that we can sell it quickly and at our asking price (or close).

How: First off, I’m planning to go through each room and de-clutter. We’ve accumulated too much “stuff” and it needs to go. Once the extra junk is gone, I want to re-organize the remaining items. This will help keep me sane and it will present the house in a neat and tidy way. We also have various things around the house that need fixing or updating: scratched baseboards, repainting the walls, getting new sinks, etc. We have some good friends who are realtors so I want to invite them over and do a walk through of our house as it exists today. They can then tell us what we need to invest time and money into and what we can leave as is.

Here’s one project I’ve already finished – the “catch all” kitchen counter. We have an area to the left of the stove that is where we keep files, stamps, papers to shred, my purse, etc. It is always so messy and I am constantly losing stuff.

Here’s the before:

Notice the files in the back are all crammed in together, there is stuff scattered on the counter, and my purse and lunch bag are eating up a lot of space. So, I put hanging file holders on the wall and labeled them “To Shred” and “To File”. This got rid of one filing system on the counter and freed up some space there.

Here’s the after:

Doesn’t that look so much better? It was a simple fix that went a long way.

Mission Debt Diet

What: To pay off all credit card debt and pay down loans, while also creating a nest egg. To be honest, we really don’t have that bad of credit card debt when compared to the national average. But it’s still more than I’m comfortable with so this year it will be paid off. I also want to pay down as much of our mortgage and car payments as possible so that we’re in a better spot come Spring/Summer when we buy a new house.  

How: Budget, budget, budget! I created a spreadsheet that lays out our fixed expenses (bills) versus variable expenses (shopping, groceries, eating out, etc) and our income. Our bank has a neat feature that shows us our spending report for 2010 (how much we spent in various categories throughout the year). So, I took that and figured out what our monthly spending was in each area.  Then we came up with our new budget goals. Here’s an example:

I then created an expenses worksheet that will help us track our spending. I broke out sections for each area and included our dollar allotment at the top. As we spend, we’ll write it on the worksheet and can then see how close we’re getting to our budgeted goal. We’ll have to use it for a while and make adjustments as we go but I think it will help.

Ihave posted it in the kitchen so we remember to record our expenses:

(inside our pantry door)

(Sidenote – see the wall sconce in the background? That’s the one Isabella’s woobie got lost in way back when. Yeah.)

This one will really challenge us to get creative. We’ll have to shop smart, plan meals, and say “no”. It will definitely be an adjustment but it’s necessary and after a while, we’ll get used to it and it won’t feel so restrictive.

There you have it!  Those are my 3 resolutions for 2011. I think they are all doable and I’m really gung-ho about them right now. By posting them here, I’m hoping this will help me stay accountable. The competitive side of me will not want to admit public defeat!!

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135 and 135 are not the same