Sunday, October 7, 2012

100 Days to a Better Me - Check in #3

Since September 1st, I've been doing a "100 Days to a Better Me" challenge in which I've been working on activities that seem most pressing at this time for me and are a continuation of what I have been working on during this pivotal year in my life.

I am keeping a chart for each the challenge so I can mark off and write about the 100 day journey I'm on. This also helps keep me accountable and on track with my goals.

Here's an update about how I've done with each of the things I'm working on:

Health - Food and Fitness

- For the next 100 days, eat three servings of fruits or vegetables every day.

There were several days towards the end of September where there were limited fresh fruits and vegetables in house. Also, while I was on a trip for about four days, I didn't eat three meals a day. So, I didn't do so well on those days in terms of reaching the goal I set.

On the remaining days, I did do well with eating three servings of fruits or vegetables every day.

One of my favorite salads during the time period:
salad greens with fresh peaches, blueberries, snap peas, and feta cheese.

- For the next 100 days, get at least 20 minutes of daily exercise.

During this two-week period, I found that the longest times I walked were when I was on the trip and had to walk through airports.

My preferred way to exercise has been by doing outside work - dragging the hose to the barn to fill the horses' water, moving the hose around the yard to water the trees before everything freezes, and putting 50 bales of hay in the barn with the help of the next door neighbor and his friend.

- For the next 100 days, instead of 2 cans of Diet Cokes or Diet Pepsi, drink only 1 can. 

I am now 37 days into the challenge and I find that I am reaching more for water than for pop. On a couple of the days, I didn't even finish a can of pop.

In about three weeks, I will eliminate that last can of pop and drink water only. I think this gradual change from 3-4 cans each day in January, to 2 cans in the spring and summer, to 1 can in the fall has made the transition much easier. My body has gotten use to the decrease in caffeine over a slower time period. However, I think it was necessary since I was drinking pop each day for 28+ years.


- Make it a point to learn at least one new thing each day.

I liked this part of the challenge because it seems like there is something new every day that I can learn. Some of the things I learned during the past 14 days include:

=> Nutmeg loses its flavor quickly. Skip the pre-ground stuff and whole instead. Rub the seed along a fine grater. Place the seed in a jar in a cool dark place. It will last for one year.

=> Celery leaves can be baked in a 200 degree oven until they are crisp. Crumble and mix with coarse salt. Sprinkle on deviled eggs.

=> To reduce mildew in the bathroom, leave the bathroom door open and/or ventilation fan on for 20 minutes post-shower.

=> For a fiberfill, down, or feather-filled pillow, fold it in half with a heavy book on top. If it pops back so it's flat - keep it. Otherwise, it should be tossed.

=> Lip balm can be dabbed on a small paper cut as well as nicks from shaving. It soothes the sting and stops the bleeding quickly.

=> Natural sources of Vitamin E prevent cancer while synthetic versions of Vitamin E promote cancer.

=> The tree of contemplative practices has several categories: stillness, generative, creative, activist, relational, movement, ritual/cyclical, communion and connection, and awareness. I tend to fall into the creative and activist categories.

=> There are quite a few varieties of Acer cultivars. These Japanese Maples come in a wide variety of colors: yellow, orange, and red.

=> Seasonal allergies can cause dark circles under eyes. Rubbing eyes irritates the skin and can lead to melanin build-up. Eye cream with brighteners like Vitamin C can help.

=> I learned what a series and parallel are in terms of electricity. Did hands- on experiments with the girls to visually show what these mean.

=> The artificial sweeteners in diet sodas can cause a multitude of health issues, including an imbalance of glucose and insulin levels that can increase the risk of diabetes.

=> Those who drank two or more diet sodas a day experienced 500% greater waist circumference increases, according to the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging which collected data from 474 adults over nine years.

=> A dwarf dairy goat is the size of a golden retriever and can produce up to a quart of milk per day.

- Homeschool 5-6 days each week, and take one day off to ensure I don't burn out from teaching.

Out of the past 14 days, I homeschooled the girls actively 8 days.

Helped Olivia make Spanish tapas.
This tied into the book "Ferdinand" that I read to her.

I provided a list of things for them to do while I was on a trip for four days. They followed the list and did the work they needed to do during that time period. Two days I took off.

Sophia's nature journal entry about birds that are blue.

Organization and Home Maintenance

- Declutter one area in the home. (Spend an average of 15 minutes per day on this project or 105 minutes per week.)

I did about 1 hour and 45 minutes of decluttering over the past two weeks. It's more than the last check in period, but not enough to keep pace and make up for time I didn't do in previous weeks.

At this point, I want to do 4 hours and 40 minutes today to make up for the time I didn't spend on this goal. This will get me back on track and moving forward with this goal.

During the past couple of weeks, I cleaned some of the hobby shed and gathered items that could be donated to the thrift shop. I also cleaned out the car and vacuumed it. Although both aren't the home per se, they are areas where things are stored and/or we spend time in.

- Work on the list of items that need to be done to address water damage. Do at least 10 items on the list (there are 74 projects) over the next 100 days.

I continue to empty the two dehumidifiers that are running continuously on the 1st and 2nd floors. I also check the big dehumidifier in the basement on a daily basis. The bucket doesn't need to be emptied since I have a hose that drains in the sump pump/well area.

The humidity level in the basement is down to 40% from 95%. This is major progress. During the last time period it was down to 55%. The main floor is still at about 55% humidity (down from 75%); and the second floor is at 40% (down from the original 75%). Once the entire second floor gets down to 40%, I'm going to bring the dehumidifier downstairs so it can get that area more in line with the other areas of the home.

We made a decision on which tile will go in the bathrooms as well as the kitchen. Returned the samples to the flooring store. At this point, though, I need to wait at least a month until the gutter bill is paid in full. There are too many projects that need to get done, but a finite amount of money.

Spiritual Growth

- For the next 100 days, make a point of doing some form of prayer each day in preparation of and during the Wellspring program.

About half of the days, I didn't feel like I intentionally did any form of prayer. Of the days that I did, I wrote in my journal, worked on writing my spiritual history for the Wellspring program.

On two of the days, I attended the Wellspring program (3 hours one Sunday and 2 hours the following Sunday). This included prayer, meditation, period of silence, deep listening to others in the group, journaling, and making a presentation to the group on October 7th.

I need to be more intentional during this upcoming time period, because a part of the Wellspring program is taking the time for daily spiritual practice.

Caring for and Connecting with Others

- Continue participating in the 3 in 30 Challenge as a way to stay accountable for setting three goals per month and reaching them.

For the 3 in 30 Challenge, we've been using up leftovers rather than making new meals almost every day. However, there were days that I did try new recipes that were on the menu plan I developed.

Easy egg casserole that I made.
It was very good.

For about four days, I was away so I couldn't work on the goals for the week. I set new goals for October and posted about that on October 5th.

- Begin participating in the 30 Days of Lists and Autumn Blog Challenge.

The 30 Days of Lists definitely fell by the wayside. It was just one too many projects to do during September. So, at this point, I'm going to do the remaining lists when I have time. I did two more which brings me now to September 18th.

Out of 14 prompts for the Autumn Blog Challenge, I chose to write about four of them:
=> Important Qualities in Friends
=> The Most Memorable Halloween
=> Halloween Costumes through the Years
=> Pumpkin Carving

=> Pumpkin Spice Bread - My Favorite Autumn Recipe

Pumpkin Spice Bread that I made during
the first week of October.

- Complete the 12 in 12 Challenge that Sophia, Olivia, and I are doing by December 12, 2012 (12-12-12).

We did several things on the 12 in 12 Challenge in September:
=> Made quite a few donations to Family Pathways (clothing, books, and non-clothing items)
=> Donated items to Northwoods Humane Society: cash, cans, and Kitten Chow.

Jewell, a dog living at Northwoods Humane Society,
who needs a new home and loving family.

=> Put out the hand-embroidered toy for a child to find.
=> Sang in the children's choir at one service.
=> Wrote about what we did in September and posted it on the blog.

The girls sang in the children's choir on September 30th.

I received a beautiful thank you note from my friend, Yoshiko, in Japan. She wrote in response to the note I sent her and said some wonderful and touching things to me in the letter. I feel so fortunate to have such a good friend.

- For the next 100 days, actively look for something positive in each person in my family every day, and write it down. Use these for Christmas gifts.

I have done this each day, and am enjoying this project. I had hoped to start typing the list of qualities. At this point, I truly do need to begin or it will become rather overwhelming during the holidays.

- Continue with Foodie Penpals as a way to introduce others and myself to healthy food options.

I received the box from my penpal. I wrote about what I received, and posted it on October 1st.

Everything that my penpal sent was delicious.
The salt-water taffy, by far, was the favorite item in the box.

During November and December I will be taking a break from the Foodie Penpal program. The cost for buying the food combined with shipping it (about $15 for the food plus an equal amount for shipping) is more than I want to and can spend right now. I hope to be able to return to it in the future.

Creative Expression

- Continue with Take a Stitch Tuesday; and do a weekly journal entry which includes the stitch of the week, personal reflection, and gratitude list.

I did not do anything with the embroidery stitches. In all honesty, I am rather torn about this activity. As much as I like learning new embroidery stitches, it all feels so overwhelming right now. I feel like I learned quite a few stitches and have a nice embroidery journal.

Yet, I don't want to quit doing the journal because the personal reflection and gratitude list is something important that I want to do to mark this difficult year. I've thought about just doing the reflection, gratitude list, and collage...and leaving out the embroidery part.

Maybe I just need to write and keep up with that part and do the embroidery when I have time. However, the longer I wait the more behind I'm going to get. I just don't know what to do at this point.

- Continue with the Embroidery Journal Project and do one embroidered quilt square for each month (September, October, November, and December).

I completed the embroidered quilt square for the month. I wrote about it HERE.

Finished embroidered quilt square.
Each item symbolizes something that happened during September.

- Complete Coloring Mandalas - For Insight, Healing, and Self-Expression.

I did 2 mandalas during this time period both on the 29th of September I'm a bit behind with this goal.


- Don’t buy anything that I don’t absolutely need for 100 days. Use any money I save to do one of the following:
=> Pay down my debt.
=> Put it toward my six-month emergency fund.
=> Put it toward a car to replace the one with 214,000+ miles on it.

Out of the 14 days, I didn't spend anything on 11 days (79% of them)! I'm very happy about that.

There were days that I did spend money on things that we needed:
=> Food - only the groceries that we absolutely needed or could freeze or can (thereby saving money during the winter and spring when produce prices will invariably go higher). Pears were marked down over 30 cents per pound, so I bought a flat of them so I am able to can them and use them in the off-seasons.
=> Homeschool Supplies - purchased some items at United Noodles in Minneapolis for us to sample that were made in different countries that we are studying as part of the Eastern Hemisphere curriculum. (United Noodles is the largest Asian grocery store in the Midwest.)

An entire aisle of shelves filled with soups 
at United Noodles.

=> Household Supplies - purchased only the key items we needed.

=> Gasoline - for the car.
=> Shoes - Olivia needed shoes since the pair she had were too small. She has one pair for everyday wear and the other for dress-up. She also needed a pair of soft-soled slippers to wear for equestrian vaulting since she has started doing doubles on the horse and her other pair could get stuck and potentially result in an injury.
=> Car Maintenance/Repair - The brake line was rusted through and brake fluid leaking. The brakes were not working properly and could have gone out completely had I not brought the car in when I did. The bill was a lot more than I had hoped it would cost. However, at least the brake line as well as the front and rear calipers are new and working. This is especially important going into winter when brakes seem even more critical.

Finding free things to do that are fun
is a great way to save money.
Sophia, Olivia, and I visited an alpaca farm at the end of September.
This is one of the babies that is about a month old.

Some of the things that I purchased that I didn't absolutely need were:

=> Halloween Costume for Sophia. As a way to save money, though, we went to the thrift shop. We found exactly what Sophia wanted and everything fit perfectly. For only $15, it saved a lot of money compared to what I would have spent at Target or another retailer.


All in all, I'm very happy with the progress I'm making. It's good to have these goals and be making a conscientious effort to reach them.


Anonymous said...

Wow you are doing a great job! Keep at it!

Kat @ Inspiration CAN be Found Everywhere said...

I agree with Natasha you are doing a fabulous job. You are doing so much and getting things done I'm feeling like a slacker

Keep up the great momentum-we're all watching

Diane said...

Very inspirational. Keep it up!

Lauren Ivy Chiong said...

Your progress is phenomenal, Ann! Keep up the amazing work. You're an inspiration!