Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the tag “2014”

A Year in Review: 2014

2014 was a year of dealing with grief, of learning to live life without Dad and learning to live with a little boy in my life; a year of work changes and opportunities, and overall, a year that flew by, seemed frantic, but also took me to a new place in realizing what matters in life.

Here is how I did on my 2014 goals:

1. Pay off credit card, student loan dent, etc.: No dent in the student loan, though made significant progress in credit cards.

2. Build my relationship/sense of family with my man and his son: It goes without saying that beyond dealing with the death of my Dad, this was my number one priority for 2014. It is what I am most proud of for the year; I never thought I’d be in a ‘step mom’ role, but it has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine.

3. Cultivate my green thumb:We had a somewhat successful garden outside, a very successful sunroom potted tomato plant, and I planted flowers throughout the various warm seasons. I am happy to report that I have kept my sole houseplant alive- a peace lily that was sent to the family when my Dad died.

4. Plans with friends more frequently: I’d say about a 60% success rate. Various life things got in the way and I didn’t have friends over for dinners/game nights like I wanted, but still managed to make plans with friends both near and far. It’s clear as life and adulthood happens, this is one of the things I have to work hard to maintain.

5. Challenge myself in the kitchen with recipes, new foods, etc.: I made a lot of new things this year, including more than a few loser dishes, but overall, I think I did alright. I did not bake bread or make risotto this year, but I think the overall kitchen confidence/cooking thing really is more of an ongoing life goal.

6. More yoga, painting, writing, and reading: Yes, yes, yes, yes. I read 51 books. I started an awesome yoga practice that has changed my outlook on being healthy. I amped up my freelance writing which also helped me get my creativity going for my own personal writing. While I haven’t painted anywhere as much as I thought I would, it has become an awesome activity for Little Man and I to do together and something we both enjoy.

7. More day trips and exploring local spots: Q&I were really good about this in the late winter and spring as cabin fever snuck in, but the summer brought yard work and house cleanouts that limited our weekend exploring. We bought a small  blowup pool for the backyard to enjoy with Little Man– after that, he didn’t really want to go anywhere else! We are starting to compile a fun list for places to visit together and as a family.

8. Hiking: We did a fair amount in the spring and fall, even taking Little Man with us a few times. It was nice to discover some close spots that we could visit after running errands on weekends to get some time outside.

9. House ( office, garage, basement): The office project sort of went away by March when that room was made into Little Man’s space with a bed and lots of toys. The desk still remains in there, but I haven’t sat at it in months, which hasn’t been too much of an issue as I’ve been doing a lot of my writing on the laptop at the dining room table. It’s not ideal, but for situation at the moment in a small house, it works. The basement is a bit of a mess still with various bits of furniture being stored there that came out of my grandmother’s house. There were some really great pieces I wanted to save, but until we get a bigger place or reorganize upstairs, they’ll stay there. Things are far better contained now, with a nice workout area setup for Q and me. The garage– nothing happened there at all.

10. Take a vacation-  My Mom and I went to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. It was awesome.

2014- Year of Peace

My word for 2014: Peace.

Peace with the death of Dad. Peace with my life as it is now, not how I think it should be at this point in life. Peace with the disorganization of house, the inability to have a clean car, and the fact that I’ll never read all the books, movies, etc. Peace with knowing that I’m living the best life I can at this moment, making the choices that seem like a good decision for me, my man, my family, work, and friends.

21 days in and I’m doing alright I think. With my day off yesterday, I didn’t obsess about the to do list or freak out about not getting around to cleaning the kitchen floor again. I just enjoyed the day off with my man and let things happen as they did. It was a good feeling at the end of the day knowing I did what I wanted and didn’t feel compelled or attached to some list or idea of things that “had to get done.”

I’ve a lot of other goals for 2014, the biggest part of it is just adjusting to this new normal and way of life AD ( After Dad). I had a bit of a freak out about that on Friday night when I realized how much things have changed ( and how quickly things can change), but keeping “peace” in mind, I’m really trying to stop worrying about everyone and everything that’s out of my control, and focus on what’s in front of me.

That being said here are my goals for the year ahead:

( in random order)

1. Pay off credit card and make a dent in student loan payback, all the while increase my savings and start making bigger contribution to retirement.

2. Build my relationship/sense of family with my man and his son

3. Cultivate my green thumb, hoping that the lessons and guidance my Dad gave me will help me do it on my own this year!

4. Plans with friends more frequently

5. Challenge myself in the kitchen with recipes, new foods, etc.

6. More yoga, painting, writing, and reading especially reading the books on my physical bookshelf before the books on the hypothetical read list!

7. More day trips and exploring local spots

8. Hiking in the spring/summer/fall

9. Do something about garage ( leaky roof, mildewed old paneling interior, etc.)

10. Take a vacation. It’s only 21 days into the year, but I need one already.



Reflecting on 2013

With all that’s going on right now, I’m just trying to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of my life. Even though 2013 ended tragically, it was actually a good year up to that point. I found love, went on a trip of a lifetime, had successes at work, and made improvements at home and in life that have brought me happiness.

I made a lot of goals at the beginning of 2013, with some success and some failures, but overall, it was a good year. Here’s a recap:


– Switch over all retirement stuff to one firm- This was so ridiculously easy, it was almost shameful that I didn’t do it sooner.

– Knock out 5% of debt- HAHA. Funny. I clearly have math problems because 5% of my debt is A LOT OF MONEY. I was successful in barely using credit for anything other than my trip to Holland and a few gas and grocery purchases.

-One Month No Buy Challenge- Did 2! One in May following my Holland trip, another in September.

– Continue to grow my emergency fund- Didn’t grow as much as I’d wanted, but was able to put aside a bit from each paycheck.


-Do more walking and start weight training at home with kettlebell- I’d say I was about 75% successful with this. My man and I love going for walks so from April through October or so, we walked almost every day, on the beach, through my neighborhood, and at local parks. Now that the cold months have set in, we’ve now set up a mini gym area in the basement and are using it together about once a week, but both of us want to improve our health for 2014 so this will continue on this year ( and frankly, is a lifestyle change not a goal).

-Eat breakfast everyday- Somewhat successful. I am in the habit now of making sure I have a piece of fruit or something before I leave the house and try to eat some yogurt when I get to the office, but this is something I’m trying to be better about. For a few months, my guy was making delicious omelettes when he had time in the morning, but schedules are constantly changing so this hasn’t happened as much in the past few months. Again lifestyle change, not just a goal.


– Set up a working office/reading/painting room- Done in the sense that all these things exist in the same space and I set it up, but it’s still become the room in the house where a lot of things land, so it’s not a super effective space at the moment. I still have yet to hang things on the wall in there too.

– Get new blinds for the entire house & new privacy sheers for front door & sunroom- 25% achieved since I only did the front door.

– Paint front door inside&out, scrape/paint interior of sunroom- 75% achieved. Front and side door, bulkhead outside were done and 3 interior windows in sunroom were completed.

-Clean up and prettify backyard including new back fence- DONE! With my 2012 tax return, I had a nice back fence installed and then had some landscapers come and take away a lot of the gross nastiness in my backyard, took out a few bushes, and planted a bigger garden. This spring I’m planning on doing some major trimming and weeding, hopefully grow some more grass, and plant more flowers.

– Larger summer/fall vegetable garden- See above! Had the most success with tomatoes, least success with green peppers.

– Research remodeling attic- Done and the decision is to not do it. For the amount of work and pricing, it would be comparable to just moving to a slightly bigger place.


– Be more social: Yes! I went out more with friends, started dating again and found the love of my life in the spring.

– Have friends& family over for dinner at least once a month: I was good about this a few times, but didn’t have friends over enough.

-Read 50 books: Completed.

-Get with it with the blog- I posted more and took a few breaks, but posted every day in October which was fun.

-Disciplined with freelance writing: No progress here.

– Scan and organize career portfolio of media articles, exhibit reviews, work achievements, etc.- They all sit in one pile in the unorganized office awaiting their scanning fate.

-Get out of house more to do the things I love: Success though by the summer time, I just wanted to be in my ( or my parent’s) backyard.


Overall, it was a good, successful year! Stay tuned for 2014 goals!

Post Navigation