2016 Midyear Checkpoint

Well let’s just say that this year has not gone the way I thought it would go back in January when setting some personal goals.  I can’t say anything negative or bad has happened, but I haven’t really pushed forward with many of my fun, non-work related goals.

This stagnant status seems to be a trend for me and it’s one I reflect on annually. However, the annual reflection without action is really starting to piss me off. I’m always offering advice to younger relatives and friends about how they need to plan out their goals and take the baby steps to get there, but here I am at the same place in a lot of areas of my life.

I’ve done well professionally and am so grateful to be part of an organization that cares for its employees and has a direct positive impact on the families it serves. Outside of wishing I had a better handle of my work-life balance, I really have no real complaints about my professional life. Are there areas of improvement there?  Yes, of course – there always should be if you care about your work!

Where I feel like I’ve just stopped pushing is on items that affect my personal fun goals. So let’s use this Memorial Day to do a little reflection and status check.

When I look at the goal planning session I conducted earlier this year, there were four main areas that I decided to put a little more emphasis on for 2016 and my theme was to commit.

Financial Health

  1. Eat out Less – failing miserably
  2. Pay down 1% of my student loans – I reached about 30% of that goal
  3. Create a new revenue source by stocking my etsy shop – still empty!
  4. Have a 3 month emergency fund – not even 1 month yet but there are now savings that I haven’t touched in quite some time (major progress)
  5. Start a weekly savings plan – am officially on wk 4 of a 26-week $1000 savings plan

Physical Health

  1. Workout 3x/week – has not happened once!
  2. Increase my daily steps to 10K/day – barely hitting 5k/day
  3. Drink 8-12 cups of water/day – I have been habitually confusing diet coke and coffee for water
  4. Cook more at home – this one happens in spurts

Home Health

  1. Declutter closets – I start but never finish
  2. Declutter shoes – donated 5 pairs of shoes (so much more should go)
  3. Declutter my craft room – I keep adding to it instead
  4. Donate or sell more than you accumulate – not even close

Mental Health (have more fun)

  1. Read 12 books – I am one book behind for my 1 book/month pace
  2. Regular blog posts – ha ha ha ha (I didn’t really need to answer that one)
  3. Do something creative every day – I am realizing that while I would love this, it just isn’t realistic

While I can’t say I’ve been completely ignoring everything on this list, it is frustrating to see that nothing has had good or consistent progress.  I think I may have bitten off more than I could chew for 2016, so I am going to pick one goal in each area to focus on for the remainder of the year. If any of the other items get completed too – they will be an added bonus!

I’m trying to not be too hard on myself because I always strive to be better and at times think I should excel in everything that I do.  However, it’s time to give myself a little breathing room and acknowledge the fact that I set way too many goals for myself.  It’s fantastic to set goals to reach but if these are all challenge areas to begin with, what makes me thing I can accomplish it all just by writing it down?

There has to be room for baby steps and time for habit development.





Planner Nerd Alert: My Happy Planner & My Uncalendar

I recently noticed a trend both in the crafting community and in my younger colleagues…the paper planner is making a comeback.

For a visual learner like myself, this was very exciting. I was most excited by how I saw my crafty friends transform their planners in to beautiful pieces of art. So I absolutely wanted in on the fun.

What made me do a screeching halt…the COST of some of these planners. I just couldn’t wrap my head around paying that much for paper! Yes, as a scrapbooker I realized that this is the most hypocritical statement I could ever make!

Well lo and behold, Me & My Big Ideas had a very reasonably priced planner called the Happy Planner (about half the cost of some of the high end planners I was eyeing). It wasn’t just functional, it was also super cute and had all these embellishments I could buy. It ALSO came on my favorite type of binding – the disc system.  If you know nothing about disc bound notebooks, be prepared to have your worlds rocked.

I first heard about the disc bound system from teacher friends.  Levenger was probably one of the first companies I had discovered that had this system.  But like the Franklin Coveys of the world, I simply couldn’t justify that price when I was in graduate school (a LONG LONG time ago).  Don’t get me wrong – their stuff is gorgeous!  I just couldn’t justify the expense when I was trying pay off my debt.

Enter one of my hundreds of trips to a Staples store. I’m a girl that loves her office supplies, so I can roam a Staples as if it was my craft stores. I’ll look at the many pens, post its, etc. Well, can you imagine my shock to discover that they had a disc system too?  it’s called Arc and it’s the more reasonably priced version of the Levenger system so of course I had to have it.

Are you noticing a trend?

Up until this summer, I had been using my Passion Planner. I love the planning, goal setting and reflection of the planner but I quickly realized that I did not need the time slots. I keep my appointments on my phone and outlook so there was an entire chunk of the planner that I wasn’t using at all.  What I needed was a place to write to-do lists per day.

The Happy Planner seemed to be more of what I was looking for so i purchased it!

The day that it was scheduled to arrive, I boldly proclaimed my love of planners on facebook only to be immediately schooled by the very same teacher friend that told me about the Disc system. She told me about the revolutionary planner called The Uncalendar – it gave her the space to lay out her week and to jot down multiple lists in one space.  Multiple lists?  What?! I immediately looked it up and realized that this layout was exactly what I needed for work!

So even though I was literally waiting for one planner, I ordered a SECOND!  Let’s all chuckle together….these two planners together equal the cost of one the more high end planners I was considering.  OF COURSE they are, right?

But what has happened is this…I think I have found the perfect work planner (which is where I needed it most) while also now having a fun calendar for my goals. Logically, I have to decorate both with my arsenal of supplies!  So here’s a few sneak peeks. I need to take some better pictures later, but these pics will give you a general idea of how I’ve made them both work for me (for now). I tend to post more on my instagram if you want to see other potential layouts.

Maybe my perfect planner combines both, but maybe I’ll whittle down to one eventually. For now, I’m enjoying the creative process of jazzing up the very serious task of scheduling out my week.


My Happy Planner – I’ve eliminated the Morning, Afternoon and Evening sections and instead converted them into my goal sections. Each area has tasks or journalling. Despite all the cuteness, I wasn’t very good about accomplishing my tasks or documenting my progress this week. Next week will be better!

The blank Uncalendar was a little too bold and intimidating for me at first glance.

The blank Uncalendar was a little too bold and intimidating for me at first glance. The primary colors serve an organizing purpose that I choose not to use so I needed to diffuse the intensity of the overall look.

The Uncalendar's weekly layout jazzed up a bit. There are no dates and there are lines for task jotting! Since I only use this for work, the weekend boxes along the bottom tend to become areas of creative liberty.

The Uncalendar’s weekly layout jazzed up a bit. There are no dates and there are lines for task jotting! Since I only use this for work, the weekend boxes along the bottom tend to become areas of creative experimental fun.

My favorite part of the Uncalendar is the block page. Look at all those different blocks?! Those turn in to different targeted lists for projects or departmental work. I looooooooooooooove this aspect of the planner.

My favorite part of the Uncalendar is the block page. Look at all those different blocks?! Those turn in to different targeted lists for projects or departmental work (I oversee two plus have special projects). I looooooooooooooove this aspect of the planner.

Meal Planning 101

About a year ago, I lost a dear friend to Breast Cancer.  When I reflected on the many things I learned from her as we all surrounded her with support and love, I knew that not paying attention to my health was essentially an insult to someone who fought so hard to have one more day. I started to gather information on how to eat better, how to be more active, and how to start saving up for the unexpected emergency.

I came across a great meal planning tool on Pinterest that I knew I wanted to try because it would be a useful way to gather all the healthy recipes I had in emails and print outs. The only problem – it’s tedious. So I waited and waited to officially get started on my binder.

I finally delved in and started to post pics on my Instagram account (@nechaidez) this week.  I’ve had quite a few people ask me to share this tool so I’m sharing….but not claiming any credit for the amazingness of this tool. The menu planning guide and templates I used below can be found at Handmade by Carmona. She has a video and free printables to get you started. It’s a pretty simple tool that is easily adaptable to reflect how you categorize food.

Using her tool, I started my meal planner.

  • Step 1 – gather all your favorite recipes and separate them by meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • Step 2 – put them in their own sections
  • Step 3 – number all the pages in each section
Ignore the colors - I hadn't watched the video when I took this picture. The number is the page number of the section and the text is the name of the recipe.

Ignore the colors – I hadn’t watched the video when I took this picture. The number is the page number of the section and the text is the name of the recipe.

  • Step 4 – write each recipe and corresponding page number on a separate post it (color coded by food category).
    • My post-it color and themes for breakfast that I modified
      • Lime = Grains
      • Red = Breads
      • Orange = Eggs
      • Blue = Potatoes
      • Green = Fruits/Veggies/Legumes
      • Yellow = Other (mostly meat heavy items)

I adopted the worksheet sections to reflect how I saw my categories of food. I even went back and changed orange to Eggs when I realized I didn't need pasta in my breakfast section.

  • Step 5 – On a laminated menu sheet, attach recipes in the appropriate meal sections for the entire week. I haven’t gotten this far yet so I apologize for not having a picture. I’ll update once I have a week’s worth of meals laid out!

By putting recipes in their sections, you can then look in your fridge and see that you have a lot of potatoes. So when you’re planning your menu, you can go straight to the section that has potato recipes (blue) and plan out some meals that will use up the potatoes before they expire.

I apparently have a lot of veggie/fruit/legume breakfast options (green section)

I apparently have a lot of veggie/fruit/legume breakfast options (green section).

It also lets you see if you lean to heavy in one direction or the other when you lay out the whole week….helping you stay accountable to having a well rounded nutritional intake.

I’ve only just finished my breakfast section, but I can already see how useful and easy this will be to use. I’m going to become much more intentional about what I eat and more accountable to myself about what types of calories I choose to consume.

The biggest perk – I will spend less money eating out and waste less groceries that spoil because I forget I have them.

That’s a win-win!

My biggest kitchen challenge

So here’s a secret about myself….(note: my closest friends know this isn’t a secret)

I’m super organized at work but not at all as organized at home. This drives me crazy and I go into deep cleaning/organizing waves when the chaos starts to add stress to my coming home from work. Home should be where I go to unwind after a tough and/or long work day but I don’t prioritize organizing my own belongings.

I know that part of my chaos issue is that I tell myself I’m too tired to deal with so I just ignore it. Obviously, doing this multiple days a week means that things start to pile up – laundry, dirty dishes, mail, etc. I also use the excuse that I live alone and no one will see the mess unless I invite them over.

This is no way to live a life. I should be ready for impromptu visits (which I hate) at all times. I shouldn’t be afraid to have friends come over to pick something up or to just hang out. I like my house…I like my friends and family…so I should be able to have them over on a whim.

So I’ve decided that I will do a weekly examination of my lack of household organization and start tackling the reason behind it and put a plan in to motion.

Issue #1: I hate doing dishes (partly because I don’t have a dishwasher)

1. I can’t add a dishwasher because I don’t own my place, so I need to find a solution that works.

2. I love to cook so that means there will always be a pile of dishes.

3. I often only have dinner at my house.

So my solution to the pile up of dirty dishes is to reduce how many I produce. No, this doesn’t mean I’ll be eating out more! I’ve decided to adopt a non-popular solution.  Solution #1: Paper plates and disposable utensils! 

paper plates

I know it’s not eco-friendly to go this route, but I need to make a choice that helps me stay more organized in a space I use daily. For meals that are just made for me, it will be much easier to eat and toss. Sure, I’ll still have to wash pots & pans, but if I can lessen the amount produced, maybe I can get in to the habit of leaving the sink clean every day. I’ll of course be kind to my guests and bust out the real plates and silverware.

Solution #2: make sure the sink is clean every night before going to bed.

These all seem easy and doable. Let’s see if I can keep it up!  There is no reason why I can’t keep the sink clean. Washing dishes always takes less time than i think it will. It will be even less if I just tackle on the spot. So I need to create a new habit – one that lessens the stress of the visual chaos and keeps my house clean!