Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Trying my Hand at Pickling September 1, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 6:14 pm
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So I could spend some time in this post apologizing for my long absence, or I could just get on with my post.  I don’t want to make excuses so I’ll choose option two!

Along with my theme of being behind, I realized one of my Christmas gifts from Dave has gone unused.  He got me a box of spices from Urban Accents.  I was really excited about it when I got it, but I stowed it away and you know what they say about out of sight out of mind…I opened the box up and one item in there really caught my eye: a Sweet & Tangy Pickling Spice.  I have never made my own pickles before and I thought I’d give it a shot.

box of spices

My town has a Farmer’s Market every Thursday morning.  The problem is I usually remember it as I drive past it on my way to work.  Last week I remembered on Tuesday and I made sure I was up in enough time on Thursday to go on a walk, stop by the Farmer’s Market and pick up some farm fresh cucumbers!  The packet in my spice box only called for 1lb of cucumbers, but the deal was $7.50 for a plastic grocery bag full.  I had $8 cash on me so it seemed perfect.  Fast forward to this past Sunday when I started this recipe and I realized 1lb is only 3 cucumbers!  Needless to say I need to come up with something to do with all the rest of the cucumbers I have now.

The recipe doesn’t require much:

ingredients

1 lb cucumbers, 1 cup white vinegar, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 cup water1 packet pickling spice

Instructions:

  1.  In a medium pan, pour the water and vinegar in and bring to a boil.
  2. Open the spice packet and add it to the boiling mixture along with the sugar.

spices

3.  Make sure the sugar is dissolved and then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

4.  While the mixture is simmering, wash and cut the cucumbers into spears.

5.  Place the spears in a heatproof dish and pour the hot mixture over the spears.

6.  Let these sit for 1 hour at room temperature.

transfer

As you can see in this photo, I first poured the mixture into a bowl.  I immediatly realized the mixture wouldn’t cover the cucumbers so I moved the spears and mixture to a shallow dish.  This still didn’t cover them completely so every once and awhile I’d turn the spears making sure they call got a fair time to soak.

Pickling

 After the hour was up, I tried a pickle and it was delightful.  The only thing that was lacking was the temperature. I like pickles cold.  The package told me to serve the pickles immediately or refrigerate.  I decided to refridgerate so I could get the cool crunchy pickle I craved!  I fit all the spears into a tall glass jar (I knew I kept these for a reason!) and proceeded to pour the mixture into the jar.  Well that filled up about ¾ of the way.  I knew they needed to be covered completely so I ended up adding some water.  I screwed on the top and then turned the jar upside down a few times to make sure the mixture was fully combined.  I was pretty pleased with how easy it was to do this and how accomplished I felt.  Do you have a special recipe you use for pickling?  I’d love to hear about it!

 

Rent The Runway Review May 12, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:21 pm
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I want to tell you guys about a service that I tried out called Rent the Runway.  I’m not being paid to write about them.  I was just so pleased about my experience I had to share!  I heard some chatter about it so I thought I’d check it out.  I started out by looking at their website.  Here is how they describe themselves:

Rent the Runway is a fashion company with a technology soul. Powered by a transformative business model, proprietary technology, a unique reverse-logistics operation and some of the smartest people on earth, we’re in a position to challenge old systems and rewrite new rules. By giving people access to remarkable luxury experiences, we’re changing the meaning of ownership — and revolutionizing retail in the process.

Here is why it was a no brainer for me:

  • Since I’m not paying full price to keep the dress, I can look at options that normally wouldn’t be an option for me
  • I won’t be guilted into wearing a dress to multiple events in order to justify the purchase
  • I can rent two sizes at a time (for no extra cost) so I won’t need to be worried about not trying it on ahead of time
  • Vitual process is less exhausting than physically searching through racks and racks of dresses
  • Can plan ahead or find something last minute

Rather than just telling you why I think it’s a smart move, I thought I’d also share my experience with you.  I went on their website and created an account.  This allowed me to create a ‘shortlist’ (think similar to a Pinterest board) for different occasions.  I was searching for a dress to wear to my friend’s rehearsal dinner so I named it ‘HP Rehearsal.’  You enter in the date of the event and then can search by size, occasion, price, length, color, trend, body type, sleeve, neckline, age, style, and or designer.  I love being able to narrow the search so much.  I started my search by date to be sure not to fall in love with a dress that wasn’t available when I needed it.  I took my time ‘hearting’ dresses for a few weeks before choosing one.  Once I finally made a decision, I was able to choose 2 sizes (for no extra charge) and place the order.   I signed up for the PRO Account which pays for itself if you rent twice in one year.  It costs $29.95 and covers shipping and insurance on all orders for one year.  It also provides a free rental on your birthday.  I placed my order and waited for the special day to arrive!

I had arranged for the dress to arrive a day before my event.  It actually ended up being delivered on the day of the event.  This made me a little nervous which prompted me to call their customer service team and request an extra day of rental and it was granted to me!  When I opened the box I was pleasantly surprised to see a free sample of Aveeno lotion along with the garment bag.  I wasn’t sure what the packaging would entail and thought the bag was a fancy touch!  The first one I tried on fit like a glove and I was very relieved my plan worked out because I was not excited about my backup dress.  Even if it didn’t fit, Rent The Runway has a ‘Fit Guarantee’ where if neither of the dresses sent fit they will try to send you an alternative in time for the event or give you a credit.  I really don’t see how you can lose here?!

rent 1
rent 2

I wore the dress to the rehearsal and since I had earned an extra day with the dress, I ended up wearing it on Easter Sunday too.  Monday I placed the two dresses (no garment bag or hangers) into the pre-labeled UPS envelope provided and threw it in a UPS drop-off bin.  The whole process from ordering to returning was incredibly easy and I will be doing it again this year.  In fact I booked a trip to Vegas for my birthday and I think that would be the perfect occasion to rent for.

 

HP Themed Party April 21, 2015

I usually write about projects I’ve done, recipes I’ve tried, or a goal I’ve accomplished, but today is about a party someone else planned.  All I did was attend and enjoy.  I was so impressed I just had to share it with you!

All the perfect elements for a Harry Potter themed party:

banner

Sorting Hat and House Banners

hodge

Floating Candles, Owlrey, and Butterbeer!

toliets

Toilet Décor

quid

Quiddich Beer Pong complete with a Golden Snitch

Last but not least good friends with awesome costumes!

Last but not least good friends with awesome costumes!

Two weekends ago I attended a 30th birthday party for two of my good friends.  Their husbands planned the whole thing complete with personalized Hogwarts letter and a train ticket serving as the invitations.  No detail was spared in all their planning.  Everywhere you turned there was another detail!  I couldn’t even capture everything.  I missed the train track tape leading from their house to the garage with a note that I had arrived at Platform 9 and ¾.  There was a closet labeled ‘The Chamber of Secrets’ and when opened had a spider hanging from the ceiling.  The ‘Room of Requirement was where everyone kept their coats.  There were also huge posters of the characters scattered on the walls. I was so impressed with it all.  If you ever plan a Harry Potter themed party, I hope you are able to use some of these ideas and Jeremy & Brandon thanks again for accepting us into Hogwarts!

 

Photobooth Backdrop April 8, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:47 am
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This past weekend I stood up as the maid of honor in one of my closest friend’s weddings!  I took the week before to help out with special projects and one of my favorites was a homemade photobooth.  To be fair there was no actual booth, but the other bridesmaids and I created a similar concept for a smaller cost than a traditional booth.  Here are the materials we used to put the backdrop together:photobooth

-Curtain Rod
-2 sets of curtains
-3M Hooks
-Two large pieces of tulle
-2 strands of Christmas lights
-paper pennants
-chalk marker
-twine
-safety pins

We researched a bunch of different options to be the backdrop to the photobooth.  There were PVC pipe structures, plywood structures, paper streamers, and a curtain setups.  We ended up choosing the curtain option because we thought it would be the simplest and still look professional.

First we had to measure the space we were allowed to use in the venue.  We decided on 5 feet across and 7 feet tall.  We were very lucky that they had no problem with us using 3M hooks on the wall.  We used three heavy duty hooks that were rated to hold 5 lbs each (two on each end and one in the middle). Definitely don’t want the whole thing falling on someone’s head!  We placed the curtains on the rod and hung the whole thing up on the hooks.  We started hanging the lights vertically up and down the curtain and used safety pins at the top to secure the wire in place.  I will note that this was the most time consuming part of the project.  Also because our Christmas lights were a green wire and we had a cream background we ended up flipping the whole thing around so the lights were behind the curtain.  If you had white wire it might have been okay to sandwich the lights between the curtain and tulle instead of at the back.  We draped the tulle over the top of the rod and arranged it at the floor in a bunch.  I was unsure if the tulle would be necessary, but in the end I think it made the look a little softer.  The last thing we added were the paper pennants.  I found these at Michaels and they look like a chalkboard although they are just paper.  We had purchased a chalk marker for the wooden sign you see pictured above and it was perfect for this.  I tried my best to design some chalkboard letters and wrote out their names and the year ahead of time.  When we were putting the photobooth together we used twine to string the pennants into two different strands and tied them to the ends of the curtain rods.  Then we stood back and hoped the lights would show up when it was dark.

We were lucky to be able to leave the booth set up in the space so we actually put it together at the rehearsal dinner and left it up for the wedding the next day.  When we were able to get into the room, we plugged in the lights and it looked amazing!  I could not get over how professional it looked.  The other bridesmaids had worked on procuring and crafting props for everyone to use for pictures.  Since the bride is American and the groom English, they had a lot of fun coming up with funny props to fit those themes.  Cowboy hats and crowns, flags and tea cups.  The list goes on and I think everyone had a ton of fun with all the choices available.  I was very glad the bride and groom asked for our help and we could create the vision they had for their big day!

photobooth 2backdrop

 

Headache Pillow DIY March 11, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:04 am
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I had a sewing project on my aspiration list for awhile.  I tried to make a jacket a few years ago….Didn’t really go anywhere past the fabric cutting stage.  This year I almost took it off my list, but decided I should just tone my expectations down a bit and I would be able to complete something.  I remembered I had pinned a Headache Pillow when Pinterest was brand new to me.  It linked up to Whitey’s blog Elm Street Life, where she had a tutorial.  I found it on my beloved ‘Possible Projects’ board and decided it was definitely something I could handle.  On top of it being a simple project, it would be useful too.  I tend to get quite a few headaches and it sounds weird, but it makes me feel better to put pressure on my head.  This pillow is filled with lentils and its nice and heavy.

The only thing needed to create your own headache pillow is: fabric, thread, lentils, and lavender.  I also needed a sewing machine to get it all put together.  That is where my sister comes in.  She has a sewing machine which I knew would help me get the job done a lot quicker.  I suppose I could have sewn by hand, but I assure you I do not have nearly enough patience for that.

sewing 1

Instructions:

  1. Fold your fabric in half longways and then measure and cut so that folded in half it measures 6×18 in. (or 12×18 inches when unfolded).
  2. Next, I made sure the fabric was facing inside out and then started pinning around the edges to prepare to sew.
  3. Setup your sewing machine- I cannot help you with this. I struggled and Kate helped me and in the end I sewed straight lines around the edges of my fabric and just left a small opening.
  4. Next I added some of my lavender along with the 2 lbs of lentils.
  5. Sew the opening closed.
  6. Now you want to separate the lentils in half and sew a line down the middle of the pillow. I am particular so I made my sister get out her kitchen scale so I could make sure the lentils were evenly distributed on either side of my pillow.  You could be less crazed and just estimate.
  7. I sewed a straight line right across the middle of the pillow and then repeated step 6 over to the left and then right so in the end you are left with 1 pillow that has 4 sections.

Sewing 2

The process is super simple, but really time consuming.  I ended up making two pillows in one night, but it probably took me 2 hours plus.  I thought for sure I’d finish all 5 I had planned to make.  I think it would have gone a bit faster if I was an avid sewer.  I still need to finish my last three.  And please, if you are my friend and have headaches, be warned.  You might be getting one of these from me.  Even if you think it’s silly, please accept it and act impressed that I made it myself.  You can always use it as a paperweight or something else equally useful!

Final Product!

Final Product!

Few Tips if you plan to create one yourself:

  • I bought the loose lavender from Whole Foods- you purchase by weight and I was surprised at how reasonable it was.  That whole bag I have pictures above was something like $4.50.
  • I ended up ditching the pins because I thought they were harder to sew with.  Plus this isn’t a project that needs perfect stitching.  When I use it I will feel like death and not be inspecting the stitching.
 

Blue Apron March 3, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:28 pm
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For Christmas, I bought my Aunt and Uncle a small subscription for a service that sends ingredients and recipes straight to your door.  I was intrigued by it and when I saw a coupon come up on Gilt City (like Groupon but a different company) I purchased three meals for two people from Blue Apron.

I created a login on their website and then started watching for a week providing meals that piqued my interest.  The way it works is you choose 3 meals for the week and they can send them for two ($60) or four ($140) people.  This feels a bit steep to me, but then again I had a coupon so I only paid $40.  I choose the following three meals for my first delivery: Lamb & Beef Shawarma with Radish Salad, Three-Cheese Cannelloni with Butternut Squash and Kale, and Crispy Chicken Thighs Kimchi and Maitake Mushrooms.  The delivery came on March 4th in a rather large heavy box.  Here you can see the opening process.

unbox

I was super impressed how well packed and organized this thing is.  On top was a letter telling me about the three meals being sent to me.  Then there were three illustrated recipe cards that tell you specifically what measurements you have of each ingredient as well as breaks down the steps to create each meal.  Did you catch the part about illustration? Pictures are the best part in my opinion, because then you can make sure you are on the right track!  Last night I decided to make the Shawarma so I thought I’d share my experience with you.  Here are the ingredients that came in my box:

ingredients

I followed all the directions to a ‘T’. Because everything was pre-measured for me, the hardest part was cutting up all the ingredients.  I was a bit disappointed because the cucumber and mint were not very fresh.  I had to throw out probably half the mint because it was already bad when I received it.  You can see it didn’t effect the final product too much.  My pita wrap was delicious and there was enough leftovers for another one the next day for lunch!  My favorite part about using this service is it won’t take much of my time and I still get to have home cooked meals.  I love to cook, but it usually takes me quite awhile to plan my meals for the week, make a list, and then grocery shop for it.  All the decisions are made for me plus I can cut out the grocery store!  I don’t think I’ll do it every week, but it’s definitely a nice option when I have a busy week or want to treat myself.

complete

 

Brilliance on the Cheap February 25, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 1:10 am
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I haven’t written in a long time which I feel bad about.  I have been working on quite a few things from my aspiration list though so I thought I’d share.  I feel like I am working on these much earlier than usual which is promising for accomplishing more than I’m accustomed to.

  • Did some volunteering this month reviewing resumes for community members who were about to attend a job fair.
  • Kept up with a regular Yoga practice minus a slight break when I had Bronchitis.
  • Saw The Addams Family Musical with Karla at the Mercury Theatre.
  • adamsBought a new to me car and sold the old one (this was very difficult work because I had trouble finding a resource that could tell me all the steps I needed to take. I am working on my own how-to guide so that may show up sometime next month)
  • TiggyOrdered 2 chargers so I have no excuse to not use my currently dead Fitbit
  • Started and halfway finished a sewing project which I will share when it’s fully done. I underestimated the length of time it would take, but now that I had some practice it should be easier.
  • Hosted a Galentine’s Brunch with a heart theme…there was even heart shaped bacon!
  • brunchAttending a Spa party my friend is hosting this Friday and I’m going to try acupuncture for the first time!
  • Created a heart wreath at the end of January and made my own jewelry cleaner yesterday!

Okay I think that is enough updates for one night.  But I did want to share the jewelry cleaner with you real fast.  It was so easy to throw together and the results were impressive!  Here is what you’ll need:

Ah! Look at how dirty that water is!

Ah! Look at how dirty that water is!

Bowl
1 tbs salt
1tbs baking soda
1tsp dish soap
1 cup warm water
Papertowel
Aluminum foil
Old toothbrush
Dirty Jewelry

  1. Line the bowl with aluminum foil
  2. Place the first 3 ingredients in the lined bowl
  3. Add the warm water (It’s going to fizzle)
  4. Next add the jewelry (The first set of jewelry I did was silver, but then I did a second batch of gold)
  5. Leave it in the solution for 10-15 minutes
  6. Retrieve each piece of jewelry and scrub with the toothbrush
  7. Rinse each piece in water and set it on paper towel to dry.

I must say I was a bit skeptical when I read about this solution on POPSUGAR’s website, but it worked like a charm and I didn’t even have to spend any money on fancy jewelry cleaner!  Try it out some time!

 

Finally on the Wall February 4, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:21 am
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Last year’s aspiration list had an item about creating a new work space at home.  I did buy a new desk and chair, but I never hung all the art I planned to hang.  I have a lot of art accumulated from many a Renagade Craft Fair and a few Etsy shops along the way as well.  It’s all been sitting around waiting for me to display.  I have been slowly purchasing 3M products so that I won’t make any marks on my landlord’s walls (dang those hooks are expensive!)  One day I just laid all the pieces out on my bed along with the frames I have unused around the house.  I measured the length of the desk and placed the measuring tape across the bed and then used that as my starting point for placing everything.  Then I forced myself to create something I liked.  I kept trying to give myself excuses, like I don’t have enough frames, or that the items didn’t go well together.  But I pushed through and made myself hang things up.  I knew I wanted the marquee arrow to point to the print that says, ‘This Little Light of Mine I’m going to Let it Shine.’  I used that as a bit of an anchor and arranged everything else around it.

collage

I used hooks and velcro to hang the heavy frames and the lighter things have a binder clip attached to them and are hung on a clear plastic 3M hooks.  Perhaps I’ll add some more frames after a while, but I actually like the casualness of the binder clips.  Now I actually get to look at the art I’ve worked so hard to choose and collect instead of it gathering dust under my bed.

numbered

Cheat Sheet

  1. Light Bulbs by TwoTonePress (I purchased at a Renegade Craft Fair (RCF))
  2. La Petit Prince- by Nacnic (Sorry no longer available in this shop)
  3. Get Your Sh*t Together by Orange Beautiful Design Studio (My sister gifted this to me for a housewarming gift)
  4. This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna let it Shine by littlethingsstudio (I purchased at a RCF)
  5. Marque Arrow from Target (Sorry no longer for sale, I bought it a few months back)
  6. It’s Not What the World Holds for You by littlethingsstudio (Sorry no longer available. I purchased at a RCF)
  7. House Key by Ace Hardware (One of a kind!)
  8. A Ship at Sea is Safe, but that’s not what Ships are Built for by Unknown (I can’t for the life of me remember the artist)
  9. 4127 Grove Watercolor- by BlueHousePaperie (Custom watercolor of childhood home, my sister commissioned)
  10. Be Kind Even to Mean People- by TheDetroitCardCo (purchased at a small pop up craft fair)
 

DIY Gifts- Vanilla Extract & Cookie Jars January 28, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 1:40 am
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A long while ago, in October I instagramed this photo:

jars

Homemade Gifting 2014 Begins

I did follow through with my plan and I made homemade vanilla extract and cookie jars for my friends.  The vanilla was simple but time intensive so you do need to plan ahead for it.  The cookies were easy to put together and hopefully a nice treat for people who don’t like to measure everything when they are baking.  Here is the finished product:

finsihed

I didn’t want to post about these before Christmas because it would spoil the surprise, but how perfect would these be for a Valentine’s gift?!  First let me tell you about the vanilla.  I researched this quite a bit because I was amazed you could make your own vanilla extract.  There are exactly 2 ingredients necessary for this creation: vanilla beans and vodka!  I ordered the beans off Amazon.  I planned to use Quart sized Ball jars for the cookies so I grabbed two of them to make the vanilla in.  The first step is to slice the beans lengthwise and then in half.  I had a total of 25 beans.  I will warn you that this process is a bit sticky and awkward since the beans have a tough skin.  After a few beans, I really got the hang of it and it became easier.

beans

I placed have the beans in one jar and then started pouring in the vodka.  Once each jar was filled, I tightened the lids and placed them in a cool dark place.  I bottled on October 26th so there was plenty of time between then and Christmas for the vodka to take in the vanilla flavor.  Each week I would give the jars a good shake so the flavor would be stronger.  When Christmas was pretty close I decided to bottle the vanilla.  I struggled with how to strain the beans, but in the end I used my metal colander and coffee filters.  Once it was filtered, I used a funnel to pour the vanilla extract into the amber bottles and added a bean to each bottle to increase flavor further.

Next piece of my handmade gift is the cookie jars.  The idea here is that each ingredient for a cookie recipe is premeasured and included so all someone has to do is mix the contents of the jar with some butter, egg, and vanilla and their cookies are ready to go in the oven! The hardest part was actually choosing a cookie recipe.  I wanted to choose something I would want to eat so when I found the Christmas Crunch Cookie recipe and the only thing I disliked was white chocolate chips, I decided to go with it.  I simply switched that part of the recipe to milk chocolate chips instead.  The only tip I have here is to make sure to tamp down all the ingredients after you add them to the jar.  You can see in the picture below I used an ice cream scoop.  You can also see in the picture next to it, how much higher the flour is when I didn’t tamp it down.  It was annoying to do, but all the ingredients won’t all fit if you don’t take that step.

jars 1

Last thing was the presentation of the jar.  Since the ribbon on the tags I bought were too short, I just taped the ribbon to the top of the jar’s lid.  Then I decided to use red tissue paper to cover the taped top of the jar.  I started by cutting two layers of tissue into squares.  Then I screwed the lid on to make indentation in the tissue, removed the lid, cut out the new shape of the tissue and screwed the lid back on.  I think they turned out pretty cute!  Lastly, I printed the recipe and taped it to my Joy Tag.

jars 2

If you are interested in this particular cookie recipe, I found it through Pinterest and it linked me to Katy & Abby’s blog- Blue Eyed Bakers.  Here is the recipe.  Remember I changed the white chocolate chips to milk chocolate!

Christmas Crunch Cookies:
The Jar Contains:

¼ cup sugar

 

 

½ cup M&Ms

½ packed brown sugar ½ cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups flour ½ cup rice krispies
¾ tsp baking soda ½ cup chocolate chips
¼ tsp baking powder


Instructions:
Beat together ½ cup butter, ½ tsp vanilla extract, and 1 egg in a large bowl.
Add the contents of the jar and stir until well mixed (the dough will be crumbly).
Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350°
for 10-12 minutes until puffed and golden.

 

~30 aspirations for 2015~ January 6, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:42 pm
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~30 aspirations for 2015~
.1. Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
.2. Read at least twelve books and document
.3. Try at least 1 new recipe every month
.4. Complete some type of service every quarter
.5. Try at least one Acupuncture Session
.6. Complete a sewing project
.7. Learn to play 1 piano song beautifully
.8. Travel to somewhere I’ve never been before
.9. Attend the new church I researched at least four times
.10. Regularly practice Yoga & Meditation at least once per week
.11. Go see a play I’ve never seen before
.12. Complete at least one project per month
.13. Take a hot air balloon ride
.14. Take at least one class on Coursera
.15. Complete a scrapbook of my trip to NYC in 2013 with my sister
.16. Do a spa day including at least 3 treatments (and don’t feel guilty!)
.17. Host a themed party
.18. Learn to make my Nana’s sauce and ask her to critique it
.19. Attend a midnight premiere of a movie
.20. Plan a trip and meet out of town for a girl’s weekend
.21. Buy a Ukulele and learn to play a song
.22. Use my new planner effectively to stay organized
.23. Take a camera class to learn about my new Nikon camera
.24. Start a regular swimming routine
.25. Sell my current car and buy a new/new to me vehicle
.26. Try a new hair style
.27. At least 40,000 steps per week measured by the FitBit
.28. Start every week with a Ted Talk
.29. Prepare and give a great MOH speech in April
.30. Get my ear pierced

 

 
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