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    Day 6: Wed. | Dec. 14 – Best Changes We Made This Year #AMonthofFaves2016 – to your Day / Life / Routines / Blog / Habits
    Yeah, yeah, I’m behind. I got sick last week and then got busy so I need to play catch up!

    Forest has been in the family for over two years now and I still feel like I’m trying to adjust my life and routine. It seems every few months there’s a slight change with his development which alters our ability to do something, usually for the better, and then there’s another shift. It’s always subtle, like my ability to cook and bake more because he needs a little less supervision and isn’t constantly needing me to hover over him. That said, I still haven’t found my rhythm to make time for everything I would like to do.

    If there’s one thing I see consistently from many people (namely women) post-kid is that sometimes we can be more productive than before we had children. Sure, I’ve lost several hours in my day for things that I previously would have been able to do things but somehow I manage to squish in things that I want to do—most days at least. There has been a lot of prioritizing and me realizing I enjoy doing a lot of different things but needing to focus on one thing at a time—or maybe two things—is about all I can do. Parsing them out throughout the days is also something I’ve had to develop. Maybe I read during Forest’s bedtime and I write a bunch of blogs up on weekends. Or I spend a few hours once or twice a week in the evenings processing photos so I can wrote those blogs out on the weekends. Lunchtime is where I’ve had to co-opt a lot of my time, where I’ve spent time doing a lot of my gardening or working out, depending on the season. For more than half of this year it has been the gardening hour. Once I quit the gym at lunch and dedicated my ‘hour’—read: about 40 minutes, subtracting out time to drive to and from work plus time to shower if needed—I realized that’s what I needed to do to get anything done. I wish I had the luxury to lounge on all of those lunch hours but I don’t. Sometimes they are used for errands and rarely are they used to dilly dally—maybe more so in winter than anything. Even then, I can figure out something else I need to do, chores or creatively, during that hour.

    I wish I could become a morning person, someone who can just jump up and get going with the day. While I have become accustomed to waking up earlier than I used to and enjoy these morning hours more, I still need time to wake up, drink coffee and move slowly. It’s why my goals for morning workouts continue to stall. I know morning workouts would solve a lot of time issues but it is a difficult challenge to overcome. Maybe this will go on my list of things to be better about this coming year, managing morning hours during the work week more efficiently.

    While I guess I have made strides on many fronts in day to day life I don’t think I’m at the level that I need to be for things to click just a little better. This post is a bit of a brainstorm, I suppose, on what I need to work on for next year. I’ve realized over the years that a lot of my hobbies and interests are seasonal and I should play into that more. I also rely on how I feel to motivate me versus pushing through much of the time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

    I think I’ll refrain from going on further but I can see myself turning this into a post about next year and that’s coming soon. How about you, what positive life hacks or changes have you made this year?

    Day 6: Mon. | Dec. 12 – The Most Unique, Weird or Most Memorable Book(s) Read This Year – not necessarily your favorite book because it could be memorable for how bad or how much you liked or disliked the characters.

    Most Unique/Interesting
    Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout: I wrote about this book in the August book report this year and I think I can put it down as one of the more unique books I read this year. I still do not like Olive, maybe liked her more in her later years, and I hated how she/(the author) said ‘Ayuh’, which is apparently a Down East Maine thing to say. It was annoying. Maybe it translates well when spoken but reading it gave me twitches. The book was unique because of the stories within the story, the perspectives over the years; it gave me ideas for my own writing—some future writing.

    The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer: Also in the August book report was my review of this book and it goes down as the best audiobook listen as well as the most unique. Amanda’s narration plus her use of music interspersed throughout was perfect. I can’t imagine reading the book any other way.

    Day 7: Tue. | Dec. 13 – 5 Books on Our Winter Reading List #AMonthofFaves2016 – which books are your must read this winter?

    This is what I’m currently in the middle of or about to start:

    On a Farther Shore by William Souder: I grabbed this from Overdrive a week ago; it’s a biography of Rachel Carson. While I have Silent Spring and The Edge of the Sea on my bookshelf, I have never read them. Yes, I’m a bad environmentalist. And honestly, while I knew a few basic things about her, this book has shed quite a bit of light into her life before Silent Spring. I’m about 55% done with the audiobook and it is an easy listen. I will definitely be reading her books next year.

    Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield: Welcome to another Jane Austen book reinvented! This is Pride & Prejudice in America circa present day. I first heard about this on the What Should I Read Next? podcast and put it in my queue on Overdrive. It recently came up and I’m only 10% into it (a Kindle read) but it isn’t bad. I am starting become a little weary of all of the P&P reboots, though I don’t mind post or pre P&P stories such as Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife but the remixes are hit and miss. Update: Since I started drafting this post last week I have managed to get about 75% through the book over the weekend due to a car trip. I’ll elaborate more later this month but I am loving this adaptation so much! There’s enough changed to the story for it not to feel tired and sloppily written.

    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Another ‘must-read’ book by the podcast above and just about everyone who reads on the blogsphere, so it also came available last week. As soon as I finished Eligible I’ve got to launch into this one.

    Aside from books I’ve got a stack of magazines to read! What’s on your winter reading list?

    Day 5: #WeekendReading {Picking Favorites} – Let’s support each other by sharing our faves from other #AMonthofFaves participant blogs, eg. your favorite posts, a book added to your reading list, or a blogger you just discovered

    This will be a mix of favorites and just plain must-reads!

    Favorite Blogs
    As I was going through my sorted blogs on Bloglovin’ I am realizing that so many of my ‘Must Reads’ never update any more. It’s terribly disappointing!

    +6512 and Growing: I found this blog a few years ago while blog hopping and have loved it ever since. The writer is from Durango, Colorado and typically posts once a week with a wonderful story that somehow usually manages to involve parenting, gardening, and being outdoors. Rachel writes about peaceful parenting and empathy and always reminds you that there is a better way.
    +Julie Zickefoose: A mix of natural history, art, and regular ol’ life, I love Julie’s blog because she can weave a story into just about anything—and she has a fantastic sense of humor!
    +Growing with Plants: I came across this blog via another favorite, Gayla Trail’s You Grow Girl, a few years ago and love it for the fact that this guy is a hardcore plant enthusiast. I would love to have the collection he has! He’s a fairly regular updater and always has something interesting to say and shows tons of plants I’ve never even heard of.

    Favorite Podcasts
    Ok, so this is reading for your ears! Hi, I’m Misti and I’m a podcast addict!

    +The Popcast with Knox and Jamie: This is a recent addition to my feed in the last few months and it is oh so delicious in the form of frivolous ear candy. These two have a great dynamic and discuss just about anything pop culture. If you need a break from any of the self development or political podcasts, take a deep dive into this one!
    +Matrimoney: Chris and Kelsey podcast twice a month discussing their money from budgeting, purchases, planning for the future as well as little side notes from their life. They are pretty transparent about how much they make, spending, and pros and cons of various things they are doing with their money.
    +The Girl Next Door: The same Kelsey in the podcast above hosts another podcast with her next door neighbor and friend Erica and discuss all sorts of friendship and neighborly items. They start the podcast off with a cocktail which is something fun to listen to as I’m not a cocktail drinker.
    +One Bad Mother: If you ever need to commiserate with someone about the woes of parenting, Biz and Theresa are the two that will be your shoulder to lean on. Their Memorial and Labor Day Spectacular episodes are some of the bests because other moms are calling in to talk about their parenting geniuses and failures as well as rants and you can just about identify with all of them. I don’t listen to every episode but it is one of my favorites.
    +Root Simple: This is the audio companion to the blog, as the host Eric likes to say. They are a simple living, gardening, DIY blog and podcast. Currently on hiatus due to Kelly’s recent and sudden heart surgery—details on their blog.
    +Pantsuit Politics: I found this one a few weeks before the election and really love it as it showcases both a Republican and Democrat woman discussing their take on weekly politics. FTR the Republican, Beth, did not vote for Voldemort and was ready to vote for Hillary until Evan McMullin came into play. An overall balanced podcast!
    +Slate’s Trumpcast: I avoided this one post election but now I kind of wish I hadn’t because it looks like they were pushing the red warning alarm that others weren’t picking up on. Dip into this one because I think we’re about to face some seriously troubling times.

    Particular Episodes
    +Outside’s interview with Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell: I have a very heavy heart about the upcoming landscape regarding the environment and the state of our public lands under a Voldemort administration and this interview almost brought me to tears. It was good to have someone with a diverse background (O&G and outdoor enthusiast knowledge with her leadership at REI) in this position.
    +Rage Phase episode from Call Your Girlfriend: This was the post election episode and while I listen to this podcast here and there, this episode reminded me to come back and listen more often.
    +Post Election Action Plan from the Edit Your Life Podcast. It also has a list of action items and newsletters to subscribe to keep you up to date with what’s going on with the new administration.
    +Foodscaping and Community Building with Brie Arthur on the Native Plant Podcast
    +Martha Stewart on Radio Cherry Bombe: Martha sounded so down to earth in this episode…loved it!

    Favorite Newsletters
    Newsletters are taking off this year it seems. Here are a few I’ve subscribed to and have loved!
    +The Popcast Newsletter: Knox puts together the newsletter and he does a fabulous job of finding the best reads and interesting tidbits of news in popular culture for the week. Put this one on your list!
    +The Girl Next Door Podcast Newsletter: They recently started their newsletter so I don’t have a ton to say about it yet but so far they’ve put together some interesting links and recipes to share!
    +Hollywood Housewife/Laura Tremaine’s Secret Posts: I did not really follow Laura’s blog when she was writing it but did follow her on Twitter and only recently joined her newsletter, which she sends once a month. So far it has been interesting with the latest one being a holiday extravaganza of favorites.
    +Paul Jarvis’ Sunday Dispatches: Paul usually provides a thoughtful post each week on the topics of creativity, simple living, and minimalism, among others.

    Post-Election Must-Reads
    A month out from the election and I’m definitely not into the acceptance stage of the grief cycle yet. I still bounce between anger, bargaining, and depression and the occasional denial where I zone out and think Is this real life? I might move to acceptance when I hear the word impeachment uttered by Congress. I’ve tried to write post-election posts a few times but have stopped. I think I will use this spot for some interesting things I’ve read over the last month.
    +Autocracy: Rules for Surival by Masha Gessen on the New York Review of Books. I admit, the first few days after the election I was definitely thinking, nah, autocracy? Not gonna happen…but this last month, watching what comes out on Twitter and the media from him and his surrogates—not to mention his actions? Yep. I can buy it. Eyes open, people. This isn’t the only article or person discussing this, multiple journalists and historians familiar with autocracies worldwide are very uneasy.
    +How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour
    +We Elected a Climate Denier. Now What? from Katie Boué
    +After the Election: What you need to know about the public land heist
    +Fannie Lou Hamer’s testimony at the 1964 DNC Conference

    And a non-election kinda-sorta political read, Boomtown, Floodtown a joint investigation with Pro Publica and the Texas Tribune about the Greater Houston area and its increasing flood problems in conjunction with unrestricted growth and impending climate change. It absolutely hits home for me having experienced several flood events since moving into our house in 2012.

    Whew, that was long…hope you didn’t get lost in links!

    Day 6: Favorite Book to Movie or TV Shows #AMonthofFaves2016 – what were your faves; did you both watch the movie and read the book; which was better?

    +Harry Potter Series

    +The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    +Pride and Prejudice 1995

    +Little Women 1994
    Full disclosure: I have actually never read the book. Yes, heap the shame on me now!

    +A/The Little Princess – Shirley Temple version


    +Call the Midwife
    I read the first book and like the tv series much better!

    Another book I have not read. But, with Benedict Cumberbatch is there anything else needed?

    How about you?

    Day 4: This Is How We Blog #AMonthofFaves2016 – – Essential Computer Programs, Browser Plugins, Websites and / or your blogging routine

    I started blogging back in 2002 on the old Blogger/Blogspot service, followed by a few jaunts to some hosted sites that my brother had, before going to Geocities and coding the site myself. In 2003 I took an online HTML course that helped me do all of that coding and by inspecting the HTML of other blogs I was able to eventually put something together. For a long time I coded my own RSS feed, too! That was a pain! Finally, in late 2009 I downloaded WordPress to my site and I’ve been using that platform ever since. I still do the basic design coding but I really haven’t changed the layout other than the header and some side buttons. I know that I really need to work on building a better site that works with phones and other devices but I’m kind of lazy on that end.

    As for my blogging routine, pre-Forest I blogged 5-7 days a week. It was easy to spend time scheduling blog posts and I really enjoyed writing here. Even with Forest around when he was around 2-6 months old it was fairly easy to kind of stay on top of a regular schedule but as time has gone on I definitely have periods where I don’t post. My problem is usually because I have a backlog of photos to process and I am not interested in processing them. I’m working on getting motivated for that and trying to spend time writing a bunch of posts at once to pre-scheduling.

    WordPress Plug-ins
    Akismet: This is a spam catching plug-in that seems to get faulty with updates from time to time. Anytime there’s an update it is almost guaranteed for there to be a period of time where spam comments get through. I haven’t found a better plug-in for spam but if you have a recommendation, send it my way!
    Google XML Site Maps: This is a useful tool for creating a site map for your blog when it comes up in a search engine.
    Link Within: I like this handy plug-in because it displays three similarly minded blog posts at the end of a post that helps your readers access other content that may be of interest to them.
    Updraft Plus: I highly, highly recommend this plug-in for backing up your wordpress site! You can download the backup package to your computer or do a cloud service such as Dropbox and then download the backup later. It came in very handy for me last year when I was working on consolidating our websites and my blog was down for a little bit. So easy to ‘restore’! Get this!
    WP Touch Mobile: Just a basic plug-in to make your site suitable for mobile devices. I haven’t modified it at all…I probably should.
    Wordpress Popular Posts: This displays your most read posts on the side bar. It’s fluid so some posts change every few days but it does give me a good guide on what is being read around here.

    Day 5: Most Useful Tools For Getting Sh&! Done #AMonthofFaves2016 – Apps, websites, planners – how and what do you use to get life and / or work Shit done?!

    I think I inherited my mom’s list making skills. She always kept a lined notepad on the end of the kitchen counter when we were growing up. Ok, she still does. I’ve used a variety of planners through my life, usually smaller spiral bound ones from my university or the Sierra Club when I was in college. As I got older I kept other similar planners but typically opted for small journals or notebooks instead. This year I have started doing a modified bullet journal which I have really loved. Even I don’t pull it out at home to mark things off, I keep it handy during the work day to remember things I need or want to do, or things to buy, or interesting things I’ve come across. It’s just a great way to get it out of my head!

    Apps…well, I’ve tried. I have downloaded and deleted workout and meditation apps and have briefly tried making lists on my phone but I hate it. So, nope, not using those. I’m not a digital planner person.

    As for other online tools, I do like to use to shorten links and started using IFTTT for posting things to social media.

    Alright, what blogging or GTD tools do you use?

    Today I meshing Day 2 and 3 together since they both have to do with reading. As usual, links are not sponsored.

    Day 2: – 5 Popular Books Worth the Hype #AMonthofFaves2016

    I’m going to mix books from this year and in the past that have been hyped that have been fantastic, in my opinion.
    Read This Year
    +The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
    +Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

    Read Another Year
    +The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
    +Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
    +Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

    Day 3: This Is How We Read #AMonthofFaves2016 – eg. Number of books read so far, genre you read the most from, picture of favorite (or most often used) reading location, most read author, % eBooks, hardcovers, paperbacks and/or audiobooks, hint at what your favorite read of the year is (let us guess), types of books you wish you read more of, month you read the most and least)

    My word for this year was ‘Read’ and read I did. It was the first 8 books of the Babysitters Club series that I received in 5th grade for Christmas that catapulted me into a life long love affair with reading. I mean, I read some before that but not like I did after that series. Over the years I’ve had periods where I didn’t read as much and I always felt like I was missing something, only to realize later it was that I wasn’t reading. I started off hiking on the AT trying to listen to audiobooks but that didn’t work for me and I finally gave in and opted to just carry a dang book, extra weight be damned! Most of the time they were cheap dollar store reads but sometimes they were more substantive books.

    I’m primarily a give-me-an-actual-book reader but this year I’ve embraced reading on the Kindle app on my phone as well as listening to audiobooks—they just have to be sped up a bit. As for reading location—there’s a location? I will read anywhere. I love cracking open a new hard cover but paperbacks are wonderful, too. I plan on doing a more thought out review of what I’ve read this year here in a few weeks so I won’t elaborate much more now on some of these topics. My most read author ever is definitely (outside of Ann M. Martin and her gang of babysitters) Lucy Maud Montgomery. I have read pretty much every book she wrote. I’ve also read a lot of J.K. Rowling, Philippa Gregory, Francine Rivers, and Diana Gabaldon. As for genres, I like historical fiction both for adults and YA, non-fiction across various subjects, and other fiction.

    How about you? What can you recommend to read that fit the literary hype?

    Andi at Estella’s Revenge is doing a themed blog writing session for December and I thought it might be worthwhile to do a modified version here. I’ll be compiling several of the prompts into one day as time goes on because I do plan on writing about other things throughout the month. Here’s to day 1!

    The prompt: These Are A Few of My Favorite Things for 2016– eg. to eat, drink, wear, smell, see, do, enjoy, best thing I bought, most used gift received etc, favorite concert, outdoor activity, place visited, most squee worthy moment of the year, biggest change. Links aren’t sponsored.

    1. Monarchs: Oh man, this was a fantastic year for monarchs in garden. I can’t believe how many caterpillars we had this year but it was awesome to see Forest learning about caterpillars and really enjoying looking for them in the garden. Hopefully next year there’s more survival!
    2. My salad spinner: Back in the summer I bought this salad spinner in an effort to enjoy and keep my salads fresher for a longer period of time. I did some crowd sourcing on social media to determine if they were worth it (they were) and found this collapsible salad spinner that I absolutely love. Now that it’s salad season here in SE Texas I will be using it quite a bit.
    3. Osprey Exos 58 backpack: It took me forever to decide which backpack I wanted but I finally opted for this one. We’re hoping to hit the trails for our first overnight with Forest sometime in the New Year!
    4. Moleskine modified Bullet Journal: After trying to deviate from my usual to-do list making in a random notebook, I tried to go to a fancy planner last year. I did not like it: it didn’t suit my needs and it was too large. As I kept hearing more about bullet journals I researched their format and decided to create a modified journal/planner/to-do list for myself. It has worked out perfectly for me! I don’t use the symbology that the more hardcore bullet journalers use, and I realized I don’t really need the table of contents, but just the idea of it has worked for me. I use washi tape to pretty it up. I can’t wait to make a new one for next year!

    How about you? What’s some of your favorite things from this year?








    “Whoa! Big Boat!” – Forest

    It’s been a few months since I’ve done one of these!

    1. Stranger Things: I can’t say enough about this Netflix series. Marisa brought it to my attention and so I dipped into an episode one evening a few weeks ago and was enthralled. It makes me want to retreat back to the 80s! So much good stuff in this series: I hope Winona Ryder has a comeback career after this. The kids in this series are fantastic actors. Eleven…oh, Eleven!! I can’t wait to see what else they do with this series!
    2. The DNC renewed my zest for politics and of course I had to imbibe in some (balanced) political discussions…though in this election cycle I’m not sure that’s easy to find. However, Pantsuit Politics podcast is a bipartisan podcast that has been uplifting to listen to. I don’t watch the political pundits on the cable news stations because it’s a bunch of b.s. (though sometimes I like to get a little spin from Bill Maher) but this podcast was just what I needed to satisfy that zest for politics without wanting to punch someone. Also, I love the name because I abhor everyone hating on Hillary for wearing pantsuits. I don’t enjoy wearing dresses (though I do like a good outdoorsy skirt) and much prefer pants. Also, the pantsuit and pants are of course a big eff you to patriarchy establishment:

      Here is a true fact: It wasn’t until 1993 (1993!) that women were allowed (allowed!) to wear pantsuits on the Senate floor. The “allowing” occurred, in the end, only because Barbara Mikulski and Carol Moseley Braun decided to defy an arcane rule, leading, eventually, to its erasure. (Or to its modification: Pants-clad women are now allowed in the Senate chamber so long as the pants in question are accompanied by a jacket.) The rebellion was fitting: Pants are, in their way, political. Women started wearing them in the U.S. around the same time that they won the vote, and the garments reflected their egalitarian ambition. And suits are symbolic from the other side of the spectrum: They are the ultimate totems of cheerful corporate conformity. They whiff of willful captivity.

      From You’re Fashionable Enough Hillary in The Atlantic.

      That said, if you like dresses–wear them! But enough with the pantsuit and fashion critique nonsense.

    3. Alright, something more frivolous. Getting off two hours early today and going to Target to pick up some school supplies for Forest and other miscellany—because, it’s Target. My trips to Target are few and far between these days and when I do get there it is usually with a toddler in the shopping cart. An hour to myself to browse? Pretty darn nice.
    4. Working out! After 2.5 months off I was definitely feeling the lack of movement other than the ocassional walk and gardening. I put together a weight lifting program for myself to get back into the swing of things at home. Hoping to add cardio sessions on weekends for now and eventually add a day or two in during the week at lunch when it cools off. We’ll see, but for now it feels good to be working out again.
    5. It’s been a lot of monarch talk this summer but yesterday I finally saw a gulf frittilary caterpillar on a native passiflora vine. We have a ton of passiflora but I haven’t really seen many gulf frittilary butterflies around here until recently.

      Alright, that’s it for this week! What’s up in your world?






















    This kid: turning into a big boy, got a hair cut, always has a cracker in hand, ready to explore the world.

    Love, love, love him!

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