A new chapter, a new reading life in January 2021. I've been faithfully reading from my bookshelves or library holds and I racked up quite the stack of finished books in this first month of the new year; off to grand beginnings tallied towards my 2021 Reading Goals. I'm pleased as punch with this month's titles having read quite a few 5-Star books and at least one, if not two or three, will be vying for, at the very least, a top ten spot - for sure.
I am going with a clean and simple design to document what I've been reading this year. I am using a 4 x 8, Citrus Twist album, so this will hold ALL the pages of various sizes (4 x 8, 3 x 8, 4 x 6, and 4 x 4, plus fold outs and inserts) below. I am using one embellishment for each individual page, otherwise clean lines and color. I'm pleased with the simplicity and it is super easy to keep up with throughout the month, as I finish a book or two I create their companion page. I will bundle print through Persnickety Prints (hoping to place an order sometime this month).
All of the page reviews above will be printed in their various sizes and inserted into my READ 2021 4 x 8 Citrus Twist album. They are a mix of sizes above (4 x 8, 3 x 8, 4 x 6, 4 x 4, fold outs, and inserts). Below are the pages I created that give a quick look of what I read in January.
The book shelf page (fold out) on the right is a page I will insert in to each month adding more and more books of what I have been reading. Hopefully the book shelves will be filled with colored spines of completed books.
Last year, in 2020, during some of the hardest days of the year, when a pandemic had begun sweeping the globe, I wrote stories. And for the next 100 days I showed up. Every single day. And, I told stories all about me.
It may have been during some of the hardest days of the year - when I wrote those stories - but, writing those stories was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But here's the thing: It was excruciating, yes, but, it was also so very good.
That's why I am doing it again in 2021. While a pandemic continues to plague the planet, I will be writing stories. Beginning January 31st, I will use a one word journal / writing prompt to tell stories all about me. The exercise of writing these little stories are mostly for me. But, I can't help being hopeful that all these stories about me will serve a greater purpose someday. Maybe my kids will see me how I see me. Maybe, things, thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams, might reveal to them the more of who their mom is/was.
This project is part of a global creative initiative called #the100dayproject. Creatives and artists, like me, choose a creative project and do it everyday for 100 days. My creative endeavor is write 100 stories using one word writing prompts.
Last year I created an album using a Citrus Twists 4 x 8 album. This year I am changing things up. I will be creating a bound 5 x 8 BLURB trade book in black and white. I'm going for clean and simple, of course, formatted and numbered stories with the one word prompt as the title of each story. Above, is the cover page of my book. And, below are the pre-selected one word writing / journal prompts (with the caveat that I can change things up, delete a word, add a word, write out of order...).
I have repeated several words this year because - a year later my story will be different. Many of the words I already have stories I want to tell in mind. That doesn't mean, though, that once I get to that word, I won't go in a completely different direction. I will go wherever the story takes me.
I went back and forth for almost a month 1) deciding if I would even choose One Little Word® for 2021, then 2) whether I would join Ali Edwards' One Little Word class, then, finally 3) what One Little Word would I choose this year.
I landed pretty hard on RISE. Especially after I [also] read the Hebrew definitions which included things like 'to be roused or stirred; to establish, to restore, to strengthen; to come active in a position, or resistance; revolt or rebel; to come into action; to get up; soar, boost, resolve - RISE up, RAISE the bar, ARISE, RISE - & SHINE...
So many possibilities.
I am pretty excited for what God has for me this year.
And, yes, I did join Ali Edwards' One Little Word class for 2021. She changed it up BIG TIME this year inviting in other voices to the monthly prompts to engage with our word, to make our words visible in our lives.
I have a simple plan thus far: Document using a 4 x 8 Citrus Twist album. And after that, anything goes. I will definitely attempt all of the prompts this year (I completed 7 months last year) but I probably won't do anything like the norm. I'm thinking organic and creative this year. I am hoping to share what I come up with each month, though, here on the blog and on Instagram @suebug63.
Today I am sharing 10 Things. Every month, in fact, I will be sharing 10 things. No rules. Just 10 things. Maybe, 10 answers. Ten random thoughts. Ten lists. Ten - of anything. You get the drift, right?
1. Scrapbooking. After a year + of scrapbooking with physical product I am returning to probably 90%+ digital scrapbooking. I say probably 90%+ because I have quite the stack of Ali Edwards' Story kits and Story By The Month kits plus a plethora of stamps that I need to use, and/or use up. However, the majority of scrapbooking I do this year will be digital. It is where I am most comfortable, and most creative. My brain works better digitally and stalls rapidly when I attempt to create with paper + products.
2. RISING. My One Little Word® for 2021 is RISE. I am delighted to be taking the class by Ali Edwards, again. And, even more intrigued with my One Little Word - Rise. The class is - different this year, as Ali has added other voices, creative guests, to the monthly prompts. Truthfully, I am both excited and uncomfortable. Perfect, in fact, for my word! Rise up and out of my comfort zone.
3. GIVING. In 2017, I began a year of intentional giving. Each week I gave of my service, my gifts, or my money. I did the same thing in 2019 (although I didn't document all 52 weeks), I am approaching this personal growth project again this year. I am RAISING the bar on my/our giving. There is a quote I've recently seen, "We rise by lifting others." One of the ways I can lift others is through serving them, giving of my time to them, and yes, even giving money toward those in need. I am excited once again about this project. I cannot wait to see what God does through our giving - that only He can do!
4. Game-changing. I was reading Anne Bogel's latest book, Don't Overthink It, and in the short essay, Limit Yourself to Free Yourself, Anne shares how she overcame the should I's or shouldn't I game that arose regarding whether she should stay to 'finish' out her barre classes. She had made the commitment to attend but when the instructor had given the class the option to leave after class before the cool down period, before the stretch and breath work. Anne tells us that she couldn't settle in to the stretching and breathing because she couldn't decide if she should take the option the instructor had given, to leave early. This back and forth with herself each class meant she wasn't enjoying those last few minutes of class. Until she finally made the decision to be all there.
THIS was a GAME CHANGER for ME!
I have been swimming regularly, 3-4x a week since the end of July 2020. While I have been swimming regularly, I recently have been playing the overthinking game with myself with questions like, "I can't swim any more laps than I already am because I need to get home. I've already committed 2 1/2-3 hours towards swimming (driving to the pool, swimming, showering, driving home) I can't add any more laps. Yes, I have x amount of time left on my lap swim reservations but the extra time is just too much. Over and over in my head. I became frustrated with how much time I was spending in the pool. I wasn't enjoying my swimming. I even wanted to quit before I was finished with my 1 mile.
Remember, I said Anne's essay was a game changer. Because I came to a similar decision, "Susan, you already resolved to swim! You already made the decision to swim further, and improve!" I decided to let go of the back and forth and decide once and for all: I resolved I would take all the time I had, or needed. And, it was freeing just like Anne said it would be.
5. Purging. My big house project for the year is my scrap studio. Simply point, there is too much stuff in the room. A big purge is in order, as soon as possible. The closet needs overhauled. I need to make the hard decisions of what to keep and what to let go. The BIG desk with hutch is choking the life out of the room, and me, every time I go in to the room. The carpet needs pulled up...and then there is the endless list of need-to-do's - before I can work on redesigning the room to make it work for me, and our needs.
6. Breakfasting. Jeff and I swim every Saturday morning, early. Like 7 am early. Then, we go eat breakfast out together. There are a plethora of breakfast spots around town and we have fun picking out a place to eat and then even more fun eating as breakfast foods are some of our favorite foods. We recently tried Debi's downtown on Bay Street and it has become another favorite place. We, each, have found our signature dishes over the past few visits. Those dishes we keep ordering each time we go to that particular restaurant. We have found signature dishes at almost every place we eat breakfast. For me at Maple Street Biscuit Company, The Squawking Goat with extra pepper jelly sauce. At The Breakfast Club, The Smackwater Jack omelette with crispy hash browns. At Debi's, The Egg's Benedict with extra hollandaise sauce...I just saw there is a new restaurant opened on 17 I think we'll need to try.
7. Listing.To-do list for the month:
Put all printed scrapbooking pages in their assigned albums
Place an order at Persnickety Prints of all the scrapbooking pages that I still need to print
File 2020 bills
Prepare for 2020 taxes
Purge scraproom (See above)
Hire out for a deep house cleaning
8. Eating the first of many new recipes from the Magnolia Table cookbook by Joanna Gaines. Jarrod baked up Jo Jo's biscuits, which were divine, and her easy sausage gravy (with a few modifications) making it our own was delicious. We'll add both to our family recipes. Several more recipes on the menu this month such as BLT Sandwiches with a Herb Mayonnaise which are on the table today! And, I am eating salads-in-a-jar for my lunches. The best part is the zesty Italian chicken that Jeff grills up for me, and cuts it up into my-bite-size pieces.
9. Tryingsomething new when I swim. Actually, a couple things. First, and a simple change, I am counting my laps in lengths instead. The rapid increase in number of lengths completed is doing worlds of good for my motivation. The other thing this month I am trying is swimming with hand paddles. I have used hand paddles before, but years - and years ago, and those paddles were a simple rectangle shape. These hand paddles are contoured to your hand. I am hoping this addition to my swimming laps routine will increase my power and I will be able to swim the lengths in less time.
10. READING. Out of the 2021 reading starting gate, 7 days into the new year, and I have finished a book almost everyday. I had a few books started at the end of last year and finished them bam, bam, bam. I put fresh HOLDS at my local library (and continue to add to that list) and picked up 2 books that same day, reading both of them - over the next 3 days. The simple reading challenge of READ 100 Books in 2021 has been freeing. I can read whatever I want and I'm not limited to a category.
Jarrod (my culinary arts student) and I are collaborating on a big annual project cooking our way through the Magnolia Table cookbook by Joanna Gaines. It might seem like an unconventional cookbook but we chose it for two reasons, 1) we own it. That might seem intuitive, but I had considered purchasing another cookbook and Jarrod suggested let's use one we already own. And, 2) We chose the Magnolia Table because she shares recipes that are 'tastes like home', recipes that speak to our family's heart and stomach without any, dare I say, foo foo recipes. Sure, we are up for trying new things and testing our palettes but we just aren't in to way out there recipes.
While I hope to be able to cook through the cookbook within a year, I'm pretty sure our train will be derailed a time or two, but I am hoping to make quite the dent in re-creating as many recipes from the Magnolia Table, as possible.
Today, I am sharing our January 2021 menu that, if executed, will give us a giant headstart. Here is our approach to cooking our way through the Magnolia Table cookbook:
Plan a monthly menu. I had gotten out of the habit of creating a monthly meal plan, rather I had been making a weekly plan on the fly. Planning monthly, I can see much easier places on a calendar that I might be able to try a new recipe. It will also help me keep track of the recipes that we complete. Planning is key to execution.
Feel free to replace ingredients, make simple changes to the recipes, to suit our tastes. There are a handful of recipes that have ingredients I doubt my whole family will eat. Therefore, rather than skip that recipe I am giving ourselves permission to make them our own. Joanna even suggests in her introduction, "I want you to feel inspired to personalize these recipes and adjust them as you need for your family's tastes. If you don't like onions, take them out!..." Here's a for instance: For her Quick Orange-Walnut Sweet Rolls it calls for crescent rolls. Jarrod and I are going to replace that with bread dough and adding heavy cream before baking. Rolling out bread dough is almost just as quick as opening a couple cans of crescent rolls and I know will taste way better.
Taking notes. My goal is to make this cookbook Magnolia Table's and ours, as well. We'll make notes directly in the cookbook of changes we make/made to the recipes, possible changes for next time (maybe with a post it), write what worked with recipe - and what didn't, and include our personal reviews: is the recipe a keeper, just so-so, make again soon!
Take photos of our creations and blog about it. I, of course, am hoping to keep up with photo-taking (and maybe improve on my foodie photos this year) and blogging about our experience with the recipe and this project.
I am super excited about our year-long project and can't wait to try some new scrumptious recipes.