Monday, December 31, 2018

101 Things to do in 2018 - End Of Year

2018 has been a year of change, adventure, and most importantly, GROWTH!  I've changed a lot this year, and 100% I mean that in a good way. Don't get me wrong, I was content with life before, but that’s just it. I was CONTENT. As this year comes to a close, I'm happier and healthier and so much more focused on the things and people that matter. I fell in love with life again, and it has made ALL the difference!!

This year, I tried to be more deliberate in my 101 list.  Last December, I took what I could and split them into monthly goals/wrote them under the month they would likely be most do-able in into my Happy Planner.  Because of this, I was much more excited to complete them, and also more aware of what I wanted to accomplish.  Since I consciously kept track of them all year, it makes this post especially fun for me to look back at now, because it shows a sort of reflection on my year and a lot of what I did! Also, I really loved that I left some blank spots at the end so I could add to the list as the year went on. I'd never done this before, but if I learned anything this year it is that things can change in a heartbeat!

1. Watch classic movies I have never seen before (I mentally changed this to "movies everyone but me has seen before" because as it turns out I have no attention span for movies that are in black and white or look "old.")
  • Brother, Where Art Thou
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Ghostbusters
  • Stephen King’s It (the original)
2. Take a photo a day to document the little things (did really well on this for the first 7 months of the year, but then I got a new phone and the app I was using didn't download my progress from my last phone so I kind of quit...)

3.  Post one blog every week (also did really well on this for about 6 months but then I moved back to Tennessee and spending time with people became more of a priority and writing was put on the back burner...)

4.  Learn to play the guitar
5.  Re-learn how to play the piano
6.  Read 24 books (find reviews here) (79)
7. Visit someplace haunted
8. Make one new recipe a month
9. Try a new food
  • Nectarine
  • Spring rolls
  • Passion fruit
  • Calamari
  • Duck
  • Scotch eggs
  • Cow tongue
10. Take an exercise class
11. Participate in a 5K

12. Have a picnic
13. See the sunrise 
14. See the sunset

#14 Sun setting on the Gulf of Mexico, somewhere near Cuba
15. Be an extra in something (Nashville Season 6, Episode 1, 2, 11 & 15 )

16. Read all the HP books again
17. Complete a jigsaw puzzle
18. Save my change all year
19. Send 12 random cards/letters/gifts
20. Leave a $10 tip for a bill under $10
21. Send birthday cards for all the birthdays!
22. Make and send Christmas cards
23. Make and send Valentine’s Day cards
24. Stand in the ocean (decided the Gulf counted)
25. Rediscover my purpose
26. Grow a plant I can eat 
Home grown basil

27. Take a cooking class

28. See 25 artists in concert (36)
  • Morgan Evans
  • Carly Pearce
  • Brad Paisley
  • Jon Pardi
  • Lauren Alaina
  • Cassadee Pope (x2)
  • Little Texas
  • Lonestar 
  • RaeLynn (x2)
  • Runaway June
  • Michael Ray
  • Joe Diffie
  • Dwight Yoakam
  • Brett Eldredge
  • Brad Paisley
  • Chris Janson
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Spirit Animal
  • Wilson
  • Theory of a Deadman
  • Chelsea Field
  • Jon Langston
  • Luke Bryan
  • Cole Swindell
  • Gym Class Heroes
  • Machine Gun Kelly
  • Fall Out Boy
  • Jake Rose
  • Hunter Hayes
  • Lindsay Ell
  • Kalie Shorr
  • Tara Thompson
  • Emily Earle
  • Leah Turner
  • Steven Lee Olsen
  • Jason Aldean
29. Listen to all the songs in my iTunes library (Was on track...then crashed my computer. oops)
30. Ride a rollercoaster

31. Go ice skating
32. Finish all my paper craft scrapbooks
33. Make a 2017 digital scrapbook
34. Go to an NHL game

35. Go to an MLB game
36. Join a book club
37. Visit a foreign country (Haiti, Jamaica)

38. Take a road-trip
39. Celebrate a random holiday
40. Go stargazing
41. Learn to write calligraphy (started working on it!)
42. See 5 artists in concert that I have never seen before (16)
  • Morgan Evans
  • Carly Pearce
  • Jon Pardi
  • Lauren Alaina 
  • Little Texas
  • Lonestar
  • Brett Elredge
  • Wilson
  • Spirit Animal
  • Chelsea Field
  • Jon Langston
  • Gym Class Heroes
  • Machine Gun Kelly
  • Fall Out Boy
  • Jake Rose
  • Steven Lee Olsen
43. Open an Etsy shop - HeyDreamerDesigns
44. Make my first Etsy sale 
45. Go snorkling
46. Write a children’s book
47. Send flowers, just because
48. Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway
49. Take a goat yoga class
50. Attend an NFL game
51. Go camping (Does it count if I went for the s'mores then came back home to my own bed??)
52. Send unused/expired coupons to military families

53. Make $100+ in Poshmark sales
54. Organize all of my pictures on my phone/computer/hard drives
55. Win a giveaway
56. Fly a kite
57. Unsubscribe from all the dumb emails
58. Watch everything on my Hulu "to watch" list
59. Take a craft class
60. Go to a zoo
61. Go on a cruise

62. See 5 different movies in the theater
  • Super Troopers 2
  • Deadpool 2
  • First Man
  • Mary Poppins
63. Have a bonfire
64. Finally watch Grey's Anatomy
65. Watch everything on my Netflix "to watch" list
66. Attend a blogger event
67. Attend the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville (busy weekend and crappy weather...didn't go)
68. Attend a concert at the Opry
69. Attend a concert at the Ryman
70. Attend a performance at the Bluebird Cafe
71. See an artist get inducted into the Opry
72. Get my first brand deal
73. Visit a distillery that I haven't been to yet
74. Go hiking in the Smokies
75. Go dairy-free for a month 
76. Visit a botanical garden
77. Make my own wine 
78. Cliff jump into water 
79. Ride in a helicopter

80. Learn to ride a motorcycle
81. Try eggnog
82. Swim under a waterfall
83. Go kayaking
84. Solve a Rubik's cube
85. Learn how to code (took two courses at our local university, not a master yet but it is progress!)
86. Go to a drive in movie theater 
87. Ride a train
88. Visit a museum
89. Attend a free concert
90. Explore Atlanta
91. Learn the dance to Copperhead road
92. Try all the taco places in Nashville (find my first post here)
93. Try all the taco places in Huntsville (find my post here)
94. Take a picture of all the murals in Nashville
95. Take a girls' trip to St. Louis
96. Be the MOH in my bestie's wedding

97. Go to a musical
98. Sing karaoke 
99. Eat at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, GA from Fried Green Tomatoes

100. Go to the Opryland Christmas lights
101. Meet a music artist I haven't met yet
  • Craig Campbell
  • Runaway June

54/ 101 (53.5%)

It doesn't seem like a lot, and as the year went on I feel like I "accomplished" more than only half my list, but its also a lot better than I have ever done! I'm excited to get started on 2019's for that post in the next few days!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

#gretchensbooks2018 - December

In 2018 I read 26,921 pages in 79 books by 58 authors. This was by far the most I have read in any given year since I began keeping track of my books in 2015. The downside of teaching full time again is that it severely cuts into my free reading time, so I'm going to keep my goal for 2019 at 50!

Feel free to follow along with next year’s reads on Instagram using the hashtag #gretchensbooks2019, or add me on Goodreads!

*This post contains affiliate links, which means when you purchase something through that link, you're helping support this blog at no additional cost to you!*

(Summaries are from Amazon, but all reviews are my own!)

76. A Sin Such As This by Ellen Hopkins (3/5 ★)

Tara thought she was finally settling down when she married the handsome Dr. Cavin Lattimore. Just as she was willing to overlook his gambling habits, she discovers his secret meetings with Sophia, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend and his son Eli’s occasional girlfriend. Life gets even more complicated when Tara’s niece, Kayla, starts hooking up with Eli. In a matter of weeks, Tara has reluctantly gone from rich, single San Francisco professional to Lake Tahoe housewife managing her niece’s whiplash moods, while resisting her stepson’s tantalizing sexual advances.

Adding to the family drama is her younger sister, Melody, who’s having a serious marital breakdown, which means she might know something about her husband Graham and Tara’s brief dalliance years ago. As Tara’s fragile trust in her family teeters, timed with the arrival of certain people from her past, she also can’t shake the feeling that someone’s watching her. Baiting her.

Tara has always considered herself a tough, self-made woman after surviving a childhood defined by poverty, abuse, and neglect. For years, she suffered from the sins of others. She committed a few of her own. Now she wonders if the misdeeds of her past are about to catch up with her—and if she can ever outrun them.

Ellen Hopkins came out with not one, but TWO new books this year! This one was the sequel to Love Lies Beneath which released in 2015.  I definitely prefer her teen stories to the adult ones, but I enjoyed this book just the same. Most of the book was pretty predictable, though there was a small bit at the end that I didn't expect.  I wish I would have re-read the prequel to this prior to reading it; perhaps then I would have enjoyed it more.

77. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (5/5 ★)

Harry Potter is leaving Privet Drive for the last time. But as he climbs into the sidecar of Hagrid’s motorbike and they take to the skies, he knows Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters will not be far behind.

The protective charm that has kept him safe until now is broken. But the Dark Lord is breathing fear into everything he loves. And he knows he can’t keep hiding.
To stop Voldemort, Harry knows he must find the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them.
He will have to face his enemy in one final battle.

Finally finished! Though I definitely enjoyed reading this series all the way through for the second time this year, I think I'm going to resolve NOT to read books I've already read in the new year.  It's hard to not want to read my worn in favorite stories, but my "to read" list on Goodreads is growing faster than I can keep up with it!

78. People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins (3/5 ★)

A gun is sold in the classifieds after killing a spouse, bought by a teenager for needed protection. But which was it? Each has the incentive to pick up a gun, to fire it. Was it Rand or Cami, married teenagers with a young son? Was it Silas or Ashlyn, members of a white supremacist youth organization? Daniel, who fears retaliation because of his race, who possessively clings to Grace, the love of his life? Or Noelle, who lost everything after a devastating accident, and has sunk quietly into depression? One tense week brings all six people into close contact in a town wrought with political and personal tensions. Someone will fire. And someone will die. But who?

My second Hopkins book this month, and third this year! This wasn’t my favorite book of hers; honestly, it probably isn’t even in the top 10. Though it semi-included the usual verse that she typically writes in her young adult novels, it wasn’t fully like I’m used to.  I also didn’t care for the second person narrative- written in the point of view of “violence,” speaking to each character. I appreciated the message, and as always, I appreciated the various stories within the book that all turn out to be connected in some way. If you haven’t read her books, I really do recommend most of them, just maybe not this one! (Also I own a copy of each novel, if you’re looking to borrow!)

79. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (3/5 ★)

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

I've been wanting to read this book for ages, since I read Gone Girl almost five years ago. I finally picked up this copy, as well as another of Flynn's books from McKay's this summer, and only just finally got around to reading it now. Morbid stories always sound like the perfect 7AM beach reads, amirite? Okay, well maybe not, but all the other books I was reading at the time were hardcover which aren't my favorite to stash in a bag. I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t love it. It was odd, not necessarily in a bad way, but it just wasn’t incredibly engaging. The ending was semi-predictable with a slight twist which I appreciated. I definitely preferred my first Flynn book, but I do have one more to read by her yet so hopefully I like it better!

Reading Challenge: 79/52 books read in 2018

Safe to say I succeeded my reading goal for this year- twice! (The first goal was 24). You can find previous book reviews here!

Please always feel free to leave recommendations in the comments below!