Challenges | Prep for 2015

One thing I wish I had done for 2014, which I will be doing for 2015, is get myself a couple of challenges.  These are different from goals or resolutions (which I don’t really make) because they have concrete steps built into them.  My challenge for 2013 was to graduate from college.

This doesn't have much to do with the post, but that's my planner for next year.

This doesn’t have much to do with the post, but that’s my planner for next year.


Decide on an area of your life where you want a challenge, first.  Do you want a fitness challenge?  A travel challenge?  A career change challenge?  Maybe you’re struggling to fit your hobbies in with your job and school and family.  A hobby challenge (maybe photo a day?) will help you keep them in your life.  Maybe you’ve moved to a new city and haven’t seen much of it yet.  With a little searching you can easily find a list of the best sites to see, and make that into a challenge, or maybe there’s already a challenge for your city!

For 2015, I will be participating in the Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge.  (You can find the Pop Sugar post here, and I will be uploading a video about it too!)  This amounts to 50 books (or 52 depending on how you interpret the trilogy point) to read during 2015, but it’s more limited than that.  This challenge presents 50 specific types of books, including a graphic novel, a book by a female author, and a book more than 100 years old.  For a different reading challenge you could choose the Rory Gilmore reading list, but that is 335 books long so you may want to choose one season or an arbitrary number of books from Rory’s list.  If you’re not into being restricted in your reading, you could try a GoodReads 50 book challenge.  You can actually personalize that to any number of books that works for you, so if 50 seems too high or too low, you can change it up.  (This year I said 40, but I didn’t take it very seriously, and I didn’t reach it).

A fellow Creampuff on Tumblr, Juli, made this incredible 2015 TV & Movie Challenge, if that’s more your speed.  Much like the 2015 Reading Challenge above, this has different categories, and requirements for completion.  (Sidenote, don’t know what a creampuff is?  You need to watch Carmilla).


If you’d prefer a fitness related challenge, you could try Couch to 5k.  Or doing a certain number of 30 Day Shred cycles.  If you’re into swimming set a concrete time goal and write out the steps.


Writing an entire novel is a great challenge, if it’s something you’re into.  Nanowrimo and the Office of Letters and Light could get you started.  Rachel Hawkins (author of one of my favorite series) and Victoria Schwab (author of the incredible Near Witch) have a system involving stickers and a calendar which you could adopt.


I recently adopted Rosianna Halse Rojas’ 100 Jobs Challenge from 2012 but have since given up because I got a job (actually, since I wrote the draft of this post, I got two!  more info to come).  I’ll probably pick that back up when my seasonal job ends, though.  If you’re in need of a career change, or just a career in general, this would be a great one.  For a career change, though, I’d recommend getting some clear steps in mind before you attack applications.  For more about career searching, keep your eyes open for Job Interview Week next month.  January is all about that Job Search for many of us.


I’d recommend picking a couple of challenges to keep yourself motivated.  I’ll probably pick a fitness challenge as well, but I haven’t decided what yet.  If you want something more long term, create a 25 By 25 style list of goals.  I recently-ish revised mine to reflect my current priorities.

Maybe I just prefer challenges to resolutions because I’m competitive.  I am both a Leo and a younger sister, after all.



Planners | Prep For 2015

Let’s talk about planners. I am the ultimate planner nerd. I’ve had planners since I was like 10, although I’ve only consistently used them in college and since. Bring me your planner questions!


First, let’s decide what kind of planner works for you. Do you want a ring bound? A wire bound? A regular bound? I’ve used all of the above. Generally my favorite is the ring bound, because you can always add pages, but for 2015 I’m using a bound planner from Target. (In fact, it’s this one). Do you need to have your notes in the same place as your planner? Then a ring bound might be for you. I usually ended up carrying a separate notebook anyway, so I didn’t use the notes section of my ring bound planner as much as I theoretically should have.

2015 Planner

Get at me 2015!

Next we need to decide is what size planner you’ll need. I’ve used tiny planners, but I don’t like the lack of space. I’ve used big A5 planners, but they’re hard to carry around everywhere. Usually I default to something about the size of a personal Filofax – 3.7×6.7 inches. For a ring bound planner, keep in mind that your actual binder will be larger, which is part of what makes them even bulkier. If you always carry an enormous purse, I suppose it won’t make much difference, but I also like to be able to grab a small one and just go do my errands. Maybe stop by the bookstore or the library. So I like medium sized planners. If you’re responsible for multiple people, especially kids, you might want a larger planner than I do.


Once you’ve decided what size planner you need, and what kind you want, the fun part happens. You get to shop for a planner. I used three different planners in 2014, and none of them were quite perfect. I like to shop online a bit for planners before I go and actually buy one in a store. Target has a great selection, both from the Sugar Paper LA line and from their regular line. (I honestly debated whether I should spend the $8 on my new planner for a really long time, but I love it so much I decided it was worthwhile). Barnes & Noble also has a good selection, as does Staples. If you’re in the Filofax game, you should look around online first because buying from their website is very expensive.

I recently came across the Passion Planner. If I didn’t already have my 2015 planner, I might have bought the Passion Planner. It was created by a young woman who felt lost for years, and then created the planner to work herself out of that lost feeling. I think it looks gorgeous, and fascinating, and incredibly useful. You can even try it out for free!


If you’re like me, though, you’re too nervous to buy a planner without reading a bunch of blog posts about different types and different specific planners. One of the best planner blogs is Plannerisms. For Filofax planners specifically, there’s Philofaxy. If you like the look of a Filofax, but also think it looks a little boring, check out Gala Darling’s guide to Filofaxes. Trust me, Gala never does anything boring.


This year I chose a bound, pretty, Sugar Paper LA planner from Target because I kept coming back to it. I’ll probably bring a small notebook with me everywhere so I can make notes and have an overall to do list from which I choose that day’s tasks. I know I’ll need that notebook because I’ve tried all different kinds of planners before, and I know myself. Try different kinds of planners, you’ll learn something even if you hate that particular planner.

For more about prepping for 2015, watch this space.

Revised (again) 25 By 25

Don’t worry, I’ve only added my twenty-fifth goal, finally.  I’ve had only 24 for a month and change, and I finally figured out my twenty-fifth a few days ago.  And then I achieved it.  (I’m making a video about this soon, so keep an eye on my channel).

25 By 25

  1. Move into my own apartment not with an immediate family member.  (Roommates are cool).
  2. Get a tattoo.
  3. Run a 5k.
  4. Attend a group meditation.
  5. Visit 2 new US cities.
  6. Visit Europe.
  7. Finish writing a novel.
  8. Buy a subscription to Evernote Prime.
  9. Buy a subscription to Spotify Premium.  (Student is just $5/month!) (There’s a sale now for $0.99 for three months but it’s only available until December 31!)
  10. Adopt an animal.
  11. Attend a Phi Sigma Pi conference.
  12. Try out a notebook planner.  (March 2013, I don’t like it).
  13. Complete my master’s degree.  (Enrolled at SEMO for Secondary Education).
  14. Visit Canada
  15. Buy stock.
  16. Learn basic French.
  17. Build my own website.  (Not just a mockup).
  18. Learn basic Spanish.
  19. Get a driver’s license.  (June 2013!)
  20. Give thank you cards to all my professors at AU in my final semester. (December 2013!)
  21. Start sharing short stories on my blog. (November 2014)
  22. Share poetry on my youtube channel. (November 2014)
  23. Purchase a DSLR camera. (November 2014)
  24. Instead of birthday gifts, ask for donations to charity.
  25. Have a job I’m proud to display on LinkedIn. (December 2014)

To be clear about that last goal, everyone’s pride is different.  Mine is definitely one of my biggest weaknesses, and I see why it’s considered a cardinal sin when I think of how proud I can be.  So getting a job that I’m proud of enough to put it on my LinkedIn page and display it to the world, not just mentioned in text messages where I’m always qualifying why I have it, is a really nice feeling.

It seems like the last couple of months I’ve been achieving goal after goal, and taking steps toward other goals, like making a plan for moving out, or creating a savings goal spreadsheet, or deciding on what my first tattoo will be when I finally find an artist I’m comfortable with putting needles and ink to my body.  Have you been meeting your goals?  Tell me all about your goals in the comments!  Let’s chat.

Last Revision | Original 25 By 25 List

November Goals

In addition to my 25 By 25 goals, I have some monthly goals.  Some of them are aiming towards my 25 By 25 goals, but mostly they’re just things that will make my December easier and better.  I read that making your goals public helps to keep you accountable, so here goes.
Monthly Goals
Grad School
– Finish all my Internet in Education coursework
– Finish my first draft for Grad Research
If I can get all this done, I can focus on editing my research paper in December.
-Write 5 blog posts
I’m getting behind, like a lot.
-Update blog sidebar
I really want to do a whole blog makeover, but I’m starting with the sidebar.
-Share another flash fiction on blog
-Share a poem on YouTube
-Record 3 videos
-Edit 2 videos
My videos are basically non-existent right now, so let’s just look forward for now.
-Check H&R Block class
Not to out my nerdiness, but I really love math and I’m fascinated by our byzantine tax system. 
-Plan 2 family visits to museums (MHM & SLSC)
I really want to show my family around my museum where I intern, and there’s a Sherlock Holmes exhibit at the Science Center.
-Finish outlining current novel-length WIP.
-Schedule doctor appointment.

Revised 25 By 25

Last month, I was looking at my 25 By 25 list and trying to figure out why I avoided looking at it so much.  Then, it dawned on me.  Duh!  Because it no longer fit with my goals and felt daunting and impossible, rather than like a challenge I was excited to win.  So I revised it.  The current list much more fits my goals and my life as it is now, and I have no trouble looking at it.

25 By 25

1. Move into my own apartment.  (Roommates are cool).

2. Get a tattoo. (I’m thinking something like this on my left ankle).

3. Run a 5k.

4. Attend a group meditation.

5. Visit 2 new U.S. cities.  (Next spring my mom & I are planning to go to Indianapolis!)

6. Visit Europe.

7. Finish writing a novel.

8. Buy a subscription to Evernote Prime.

9. Buy a subscription to Spotify Premium.  (Student price is only $5/month!)

10. Adopt an animal.

11. Attend a Phi Sigma Pi conference.

12. Try out a notebook planner.  (Did it March 2014, not a fan).

13. Complete my master’s degree.

14. Visit Canada.

15. Buy stock.

16. Learn basic French.

17. Build my own website.

18. Learn basic Spanish.

19. Get a driver’s license.  (Did it June 2013!)

20. Give thank you cards to my AU professors in my last semester.  (Did it!)

21. Start sharing short stories on my blog.

22. Share poetry on my YouTube channel.

23. Purchase a DSLR camera.  (I’m a big photography nerd, I handled my first film SLR at 11, but haven’t been able to buy a DSLR yet.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday are calling my name!)

24. Instead of birthday gifts ask for donations to charity.

25. TBA

I haven’t figured out a 25th goal, but I’m sure I will.  I kept the ones I’d already completed, as a pat on the back for actually meeting those goals.  I made it into a cute graphic, which I’m going to print and hang on my wall, though I might print it with a white background since we’re low on color ink.  For a simple template version of this, click here.  It can be edited in any simple editing software, or printed to hand write.

25 By 25

Thanks for visiting, and if you’ve created a 25 By 25, or a 101 in 1001, or any other goals list, please share in the comments!  I love to read about other people’s goals.  But remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

8 Tips To Decorate Difficult Spaces

Whether you’re in college now, or just graduated, you’re probably looking at a small, difficult to decorate space.  Maybe you’re in a small dorm with concrete walls, or a tiny apartment where you can’t paint or put holes in the walls, or maybe, like me, you’re back with your family.  Theoretically you should be able to change things at home, but not if your room also functions as a guest room.  Luckily over the last couple of years here, I’ve picked up a few tips for decorating spaces you can’t decorate.

8 Tips To Decorate Difficult Spaces

  1. Command Strips

If you’re in college you’re probably hearing (over and over) that these are the only things that you can use on your walls.  We certainly did at my undergrad.  But since command strips are really quite strong, and they come off clean, they’re perfect for this type of space.  I use them to hang my bulletin board, my magnet boards, my calendar, and a few photos.  You can’t tear off paint or drywall with command strips, you don’t put holes in the walls, and they even come in a mock-nail form.


  1. Fun Calendar

While plain calendars are probably a bit cheaper, a fun calendar can add pizzazz and fun to your space.  Pick your favorite animal, your favorite artists, your favorite city, and find a calendar of it.  You can pick them up from almost any store.  Images not really your thing?  Try a whiteboard calendar and color coordinating markers.  A fun calendar can add some beauty to a place when you can’t add a gallery wall.


  1. Cheap Frames & Photos or Cards

There are so many services to get your photos printed for less than 10 cents per print.  Get a bunch of your favorites printed, then head to your local dollar store and pick up some 4×6 frames.  Then you can put them on a surface or hang them with command strips.  Framing your photos gives your space a really homey feel.  Photos not your thing?  Try holiday cards.  I don’t know about your family, but when I was at college my mom always sent me cards for almost every holiday (even Halloween).  I would stack them around the room or hang them on my bulletin board.  Now, I have a graduation card from my Little, a Christmas card from my friend, and a pen pal card from Jordyn on the chest in my room.  Once I pull them out of storage I want to use command strips to hang some postcards I got from friends while they were studying abroad.

8 Tips To Decorate Difficult Spaces

  1. Magnet Boards/Bulletin Boards

I have a small bulletin board and two small magnet boards in my room to hold little bits and bobs.  The great thing about these boards is that they hold so much.  Family photos from my childhood? Check.  Fortunes from fortune cookies?  Check.  Notes from friends?  Definitely check.  You can switch out what’s hung on a board with no fuss, and it takes only a few command strips to hang each one.  Tip: buy a cheap cookie sheet or pizza pan to use as a magnet board, even a burner cover for the stove will work!


  1. Curtain Ties

I have curtains.  I also have blinds.  I hate blinds.  So I just keep them pulled all the way up and use my curtains instead.  But it’s much harder to get natural light with curtains.  Some curtains come with curtain ties, mine for whatever reason didn’t.  So I made my own out of ribbon.  Even if your curtains come with matching ties, making your own from ribbon, yarn, fabric scraps, or some other material is a simple way to make your space your own.  They can match, they can coordinate, they can be complete opposites, but they’re your own.  For that matter, choosing curtains you like is a great way to personalize your space.


  1. Using furniture as decor

Maybe you can’t hang anything on your walls, but if you pick furniture you like, which all goes well together, you can make the space your own.  A change as simple as a new headboard, or new lamps that match, can change the entire way a room feels.  Make sure that your sheets and blankets and pillowcases are ones that you like, and ones that coordinate.  I like to mix a solid color sheet with a patterned blanket and pillowcases.  Show off your photos or cards on the tops of different pieces of furniture.  Add a new lampshade to make your lamps pop.  (I totally have my eye on a gorgeous lamp, but I can’t change my lamp).  Stack your prettiest books on some extra space on the dresser.  Rearrange your furniture until you love the way it looks.  Especially if you have a small space, try to open up the floor, it’ll make every room look larger.


  1. Room Spray

This one isn’t really decorating, but it helps a lot.  If you’re unhappy with how your space looks, at least make yourself happy with how it smells.  I just switched over to my fall scents (pumpkin spice may not be a great coffee, but it’s a great room spray) and it really livens up my room.  Maybe I can’t rearrange all my furniture to the way I like it, but I can make it smell like fall in my room.  Room sprays are pretty cheap, don’t take up much room, and can have a therapeutic effect on you.  (It should go without saying, if you share your space with a roommate or flatmate, make sure that the scents are amenable to you both).


  1. Simplicity

My final tip is to keep things simple.  Too many items in any space will clutter it up.  Clutter can make your space look cramped and small, and completely disrupt the feel of your rooms.  Whether you believe in feng shui or not, every room has a feel.  With decor I’m definitely more on the minimalist side, but I do have a lot of photos around.  Even with a lot of items you can keep the space simple by grouping them.  Remember the rule of thirds, and that the human eye likes things in threes.


I’ve been making my space nicer little by little but since my room doubles as the guest room (#couchsleeper) it’s tough.  I can’t replace any furniture (although I added my bookshelf I’ve had since I was 4, and a storage ottoman), so I’ve had to find other ways.  Curtain ties, photos, cards, and a little rearranging helps make my room a lot better.  More me.  I hope my tips can help you make your spaces more you.

P.S. I’m starting my grad classes today!  Wish me luck!

Wanderlust Wanderlist

Wanderlust Wanderlist

I have a wicked case of wanderlust.  I’ve always had one, but it’s gotten worse the older I’ve gotten.  The list of places I want to go grows longer and longer. This is just a sampling of the places on my wanderlist.  

Damascus, Syria

Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world.  It’s been continuously inhabited since at least the second millenium BC, and boasts an amazing, rich history.  Damascus definitely occupies one of the spots on my list.

Cardiff, Wales

Floyd is Welsh.  It comes from Llwyd via Lloyd, originally meaning grey.  I’ve never been out of the US, but one of my first stops would be Cardiff.  Partly for the connection to my heritage, partly because of the connection to the world of Doctor Who.  Both Doctor Who and Torchwood were filmed there, and the city played a key role in Torchwood.  It’s a beautiful city I’d like to see in person.

London, UK

Who doesn’t want to see London?  Having grown up in New York, I have a healthy appetite for all things city.  London has pubs from the seventeenth century!  My historian heart speeds up just thinking about this city!

Paris, France

Another one that’s on everyone’s bucket list.  Really, what I’d love would be to just travel the entire continent of Europe, but that’s probably not possible, so I picked a few cities in Europe I want to see the most.  Paris used to not be one of them, because I had a distaste for all things French after a terrible experience with a bad French teacher.  Then, I got into the world of tumblr and pinterest and saw Paris in the details.  I saw photos from people’s trips, read their stories, watched their videos and gifs.  And I totally fell in love.  It’s back on the list.  (Plus, the Fitzgeralds lived in Paris.  I’m totally obsessed with Jazz Age American expats in Paris).

Cairo, Egypt

I think I get it from my mother that I’m so weirdly fascinated with Egypt.  She always has been, and she always took me to any museum that had an Egypt exhibit, especially the Brooklyn Museum.  In fact, if you read my post Why History, you’ll know that my entire outlook changed while in that museum looking at a piece of papyrus from the Book of the Dead.  Needless to say, I’d want to travel all over Egypt and see all of the ancient sites.  Especially the Valley of the Kings.  If you’re also interested in Egyptology, head over to the Google+ circle; I’m in it and always find cool things to read there.

San Francisco, CA

Shamefully, I’ve never been west of Kansas City.  Most of my travel has been along the East Coast and in the Midwest.  San Francisco has been on my wanderlist since I was a little girl and watched Charmed for the first time.  So much media since has been set there that I feel like I’ve gotten a taste of the city, but just enough to make me want more.

Rome, Italy

My mom’s family is Italian.  I cook Italian.  Everyone always says I have a lot of my nonna and my bisnonna in me, but I never met them.  I’ve wanted to travel to Italy forever, and Rome has a vast history that I’d love to explore.  Not to mention, I could brush up on the Italian I haven’t used in four years.  Italy, Italy, Italy!

There are so many more places on my list (Seattle, Byblos, Delhi, Cape Town, Stockholm, ahhh!) but I’m leaving this list at these seven.  I could go on forever!  Where is on your list?