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Okay we're just going to pretend April didn't happen. No, I'm kidding, I'll still show my recap. I think it's important to show that some months do not go the way you planned. I wouldn't say I did none of my tasks in April, it's that I literally didn't pick up my Powersheets until April 20. I KNOW. So I didn't bother going back and filling in any of the dailies. I'm sure I avoided toxic people every day, and I'm 99% sure every day was vegan, and most days were 0 sugar, but still. This planner only works for me when I check in daily, so going back and filling in the boxes when I know I didn't look at it that day goes against what I'm trying to do, so I'm not giving myself the check marks. It'll encourage me to be better in future months (just how my brain works.) Anyway, here's the dismal look, prepare yourself:


April Recap


1. Get Married - The only goal I made significant progress on. But we have the rings, all the clothes, the dinner is booked, everything but final details done, like buying the shoes I'm eyeing. Didn't go get the license but I even mentioned that in the last post that it would probably get pushed to May just based on timing.

2. House Sanity - WE. HAVE. A. PERMIT!!! I know, you're all as shocked as I am but it FINALLY came through in mid April. So we just have to wait for a 3 day span of no rain since they start with the roof and well... April. So the start date kept getting pushed back but at least we got the permit. And that inspired me to get to work on the wardrobes and cleaning up the place, so I did give myself the weekly check marks for that because I know it was forefront of my mind and we did a lot of work on those fronts.

3. Get My Concealed Carry License - Nothing on this goal for April.

4. No Spend Year - April breakdown:
  • $571.58 on bills.
    • $41.47 security system
    • $114 electric
    • $124 gas 
    • $61.98 water/trash
    • $130.13 TV/wifi 
    • $100 house cleaning
  • $435.871 on groceries. Prices are wild.
    • $55.28 for myself - salad greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, grapefruit, apples, black beans, chickpeas, rotel, veggie burgers, tortillas.
    • $298.98 for John - a few snack things and frozen pizza, heavy on the essentials like eggs and almond milk, and then the meat and produce to make: pork chops, chicken thighs, pasta with meatballs, burgers, peanut chicken, steaks, stir fry, tacos, probably a couple others I'm forgetting. The cart was full, yes, but not nearly what it should have been for it being over $350.
    • $81.61 at Costco, mostly for me. Quinoa, beans, canned tomatoes, guacamole cups, some veggies, and I got cashews for John.
  • $59.12 on pet expenses.
    • $16.08 on dog treats
    • $43.04 on potty pads for Hawkeye
  • $120.94 on gas for my car. Prices are bonkers here too and unfortunately I had to drive a bunch.
  • $25 on a car wash.
  • $114.84 on an oil change.
  • $58.01 on a gift for John's cousin, for her baby shower.
  • $163.07 on household expenses.
    • $12.97 on dishwasher detergent
    • $6.05 on trash bags
    • $144.05 at Costco. Most of that expense was John's razors and Liquid IV, but I also got sponges, batteries, and some cleaning supplies.
  • $150 on entertainment (girl's night out, seeing a band, cocktails with John, lunch for Betsy's birthday)
  • Things I acquired but didn't pay for: cat food and dog treats (gift card)
I did manage to stick to my fun budget for events, and I shopped the sales the couple of times I went grocery shopping.

5. No Sugar Year - All I had was the daily goal and I didn't go back to update anything before the 20th.

6. How Not to Die Year (Vegan Year) - Woof, what an off month here. Completely stopped tracking the weight and diet so I did none of the monthly goals, not even reading the book. And most definitely not the exercising.

7. Prioritize Self Care - The fun stuff is the other thing I managed to accomplish, and how. We did a bar crawl day date, a girls night out, plus I added in a lunch with Betsy for her birthday and saw a band at a bar with Megan. Lots of fun was had. But I did not prioritizing the self care routine and absolutely did not wear the Invisalign. I know I avoided toxic people every day but again, not giving myself those marks because I didn't check in daily.

8. Build a Successful Business - GYST weekend was a success, I got so much done. I also gave myself the checks for YouTube every week because I can go back and clearly see that I posted a video every Friday. I most definitely did not post to Instagram every day, but I got into a better rhythm in the second half of the month.

May Tending List


Alright so here's the May look:


1. Get Married - Gotta get everything done, we're signing the papers June 4th! We have to go get the license, and then check off any other tiny details that are on my to do list. Everything big is done. But there's just small things left, like I need shoes that match my dress and need to make sure Eric and Beth have my mom's address and know what time to be there. Simple stuff.

2. House Sanity - The goal for May is just construction in general, making sure it progresses properly and not murdering anyone in the process. I want to keep some semblance of a cleaning routine, because the dust will kill me if I don't, but it obviously won't be the usual level. And I want to help at my mom's house each week. She comes home in a couple of days and she wants to declutter and spruce the place up a bit since we're signing the marriage papers at her house. I mean, it's literally just 6 of us and besides Beth, everyone has seen her house, so I don't know what the big deal is (and we're only going to be there for 15 minutes tops), but she likes things a certain way so I will be there to help.

3. Get My Concealed Carry License - As mentioned last month, this goal is on the back burner until the wedding stuff is done. So I'll pick this back up next month or in July.

4. No Spend Year - The usual on the daily and weekly - no spending and shopping grocery sales. As for the monthlies, I want to begin the holiday prep where gifts are concerned. I have some items already so I need to make a list and organize things better and start making a plan. And we're dog sitting! Eric and Beth are both going to start some 12 hour shifts, at the same time, so they would otherwise need to put their dog in a kennel/doggie day care, and most aren't open as early and late as they need, so he would have to stay overnight. And our house is basically dog day care anyway. Most times I watch him for free while they're out of town because it's not very often, but since it's going to be quite a few long days and early drop off times, they offered to pay. Still much less than the kennel would cost, and with me he gets constant care and attention (well, with Hawkeye). So that helps with no spend year, it's a little extra fun money and money to go towards holiday gifts.

5. No Sugar Year - The usual, no sugar every day. I also want to find a new fruit this month since the season is starting here in Chicago. I've been on nothing but apples and grapefruit for months, time to add in some berries or maybe even try something totally new.

6. How Not to Die Year (Vegan Year) - I want to try just one new dish this month. Either that I make, that my mom makes, or that we try at a vegan restaurant. And then the usual vegan diet on the daily section, plus exercise. 

7. Prioritize Self Care - For the monthlies, I'm going to get some new makeup. Mainly foundation and concealer. It's been a long time, and I would like fresh stuff for the wedding. Plus, I have Ulta gift cards, so it won't cost anything. I also include fun in self care, so it's time to start planning for street fest season! My favorite. There's one at the very end of the month, but I'm not sure if I'll make it. But there's plenty in June, July, and August so I need to start figuring out which to go to and let my friends know to add it to their calendars as well. For the more personal prep type self care, I want to do the full gua sha routine 3 times per week (I love it, I just don't always have the time every night), wear my Invisalign daily (LOL), avoid toxic people which I've been fantastic at and want to continue, and read. I sleep so much better when I read at night and stay off the screens.

8. Build a Successful Business - List and ship the boxes of the month, as always, and start prepping for June since we'll have the wedding and I won't have time that first week of June when I would normally do it. I also want to make sure I prioritize discord, instagram, and YouTube each week. Nothing crazy, no daily posting or anything, but putting in some effort to make sure each platform grows.


I sure hope I can keep better track in May than I did in April!! What do you have planned for this month?

May Goals (Powersheets Tending List)

Monday, May 2, 2022

You know, I think I struggle every year in March. I should go back and look at my old posts, but I'm almost positive that's the pattern. When you look back at the actual checkmarks I gave myself, it seems like I did well, but the majority of the days of March were a struggle. So, on to April goals but as always, let's start with the look back at March and a chat about those struggles.


March Recap



1. Get Married - Date settled, officiant booked, and estate planning almost done! We also picked up my rings from the jeweler mid month, booked the dinner, and I ordered a dress. John knows what he's wearing. I also started making the handfasting cord (it's a pagan thing) and it's turning out so pretty. This goal was the only one that was smooth sailing.

2. Happy House, Happy Spouse - The only thing I had this month in this category was to meal plan and prep. It was actually tougher than usual because John was on furlough (it's a good thing in the fire department - they get 21 days off in a row, three times a year), which meant way more meals. Not to mention he's Catholic, so no meat on Fridays during Lent. So the entire month of March. And he's a total meat and potatoes Midwesterner, the only meal he doesn't regularly have meat is breakfast. The planning part wasn't hard, since I made the pantry challenge a goal (see below), but there was much more prep than usual! I spent a lot of brain power just thinking about food and time in the kitchen (and dishes), and John ended up ordering out a few times anyway.

3. Get My Concealed Carry License - All I wanted to get done this month was find different course options, which John did. He got his FOID card in the mail, which is awesome and came much quicker than expected. We're putting the goal itself on pause though because with construction (supposedly) starting and getting married, we have enough going on. Just makes sense for this to be a second half of 2022 goal. 

4. No Spend Year - Got my money earned for my April events - I cashed in on Swagbucks, and I hit my weight loss goals to win both HealthyWage and DietBet. DietBet will pay out (over $350) before I have any plans. HealthyWage won't pay out until May ($500), but that will fund some summer plans. Success in the dailies, I had zero no spend violations this month. And the pantry challenge helped keep costs down so much, I'm glad I cleared out the stockpile. As for what I actually did buy, here's my March breakdown:
  • $509.60 on bills.
    • $41.47 security system
    • $114 electric
    • $124 gas 
    • $130.13 TV/wifi 
    • $100 house cleaning
  • $26.42 on household. Needed hand soap and cleaning products.
  • $61.67 on gas for my car.
  • $167.69 on vehicle/plate registration.
  • $145.25 on dog grooming.
  • $41.87 on gifts. Cherry beer for John and a Dunkin gift card to Steph for her birthday, which I acquired by redeeming my credit card points. And as she knows, I used a card from my mom's stash to mail it.
  • $32.41 on entertainment. We ate out at Olive Garden after we picked up my rings. I paid.
  • Things I almost bought but didn't: Go Gently by Bonnie Wright, which comes out next month but was available for pre-order (hoping my library gets it quick). If you don't follow her on YouTube, you should; dividers for the deep freezer - it's so hard to organize but what I found still isn't the perfect solution so I'm looking around more; and dermaplaning little razors (does it work? I'm on the fence.)
  • Things that got taken care of but I didn't pay for: 6 months of car insurance for both my car and my mom's, my mom's dog going to the vet, a dress for the wedding, getting my hair done, and treats for the dogs. Technically I paid for these things but then my mom put money in my account to cover it all so I didn't really pay for them. I also got gua sha tools on Amazon using a gift card, worth it.
5. No Sugar Year - Going strong but a struggle, I thought about sugar a lot. As you can see in the dailies, I managed another almost full month of no sugar. Admittedly, made easier by my pantry challenge, but still. The only trip up was Olive Garden. The marinara sauce most likely had sugar, but I knew that when ordering and just went with it anyway. A tiny detail! But overall I feel really good about avoiding traditional sugary items, like dessert, but man the hidden sugar is just in everything. I really want pizza (vegan of course), and despite the number of vegan frozen pizza options, it's still a bust. They all have hidden sugar. I finally found a crust option (by Banza) and a vegan cheese option (by Violife), and I can make my own sauce. So it's already on the menu for next month, but it was eye opening to see just how difficult it is to find processed foods without sugar, even among so-called healthy options like cauliflower crust. Oh and I did finish reading Sweet Poison, which was another great resource to learn from.

6. How Not to Die Year (Vegan Year) - Lost my 5 lbs! It was slow going, honestly, and I wanted nothing to do with exercise this month, but the pounds came off through diet alone, thank goodness. Which got me to my wins on my bets, so that was exciting, and now I have just 6 more pounds to the healthy weight for my height. And I used up a tea each week, amazing how many flavors I had with just a few servings left. So much room in the cabinet now to stock with the types I love best (hibiscus and a blueberry green from Harney & Sons, FYI.) Dailies went really well too. Vitamins on point, since I want to use up what I have so I can try a different kind, plus stuck with the vegan diet all month and did not cave on pizza. And 75 Hard complete! I only managed easy walks and stretching but it counts.

7. Kate Middleton Energy - I got so many great self improvement books from the library this month, so I had no trouble keeping up with the weekly reading goal. I had to read daily in fact just to get them done before the return dates. I also stuck with my self care. Nothing too difficult, just weekly hair and face masks. Invisalign was absolutely the hardest task on this whole list and as you can see, I managed almost no days. This moves to next month but I'm still anticipating difficulty. 

8. Build a Successful Business - Monthly boxes shipped, plus successfully worked on future tasks every week and even gained (more than) one patron a week. I posted more to instagram but not daily. And it was more to stories than an actual post, but that counts. Another month that felt like staying stable, which is good, but not growing.

April Tending List



1. Get Married - Checking some little things off this month - ordering the rings John wants, deciding my clothing (I did order the dress but I need it to arrive and make sure it's good, and then find shoes), and possibly go get our marriage license. It's good for 60 days so pretty much any time mid April and later, so we may not go until May. We'll see.

2. House Sanity - Changed the wording of this one, but the goal is essentially similar. Construction is starting (where have I heard that before), so my goal is simply to not let it kill me while retaining some semblance of our meal plan and cleaning routine. Wish me luck? I also plan on working on our wardrobes this month. John declared none of his long sleeve shirts fit any more so he needs to try those on, and since I lost weight, I need to try on all my own clothes too and see what needs to go and what needs to be replaced.

3. Get My Concealed Carry License - Nothing on this goal for this month. Since others are more pressing, this can just be on hold until after June.

4. No Spend Year - No spending on the dailies as usual, plus I need to shop the grocery sales each week since we completed the pantry project and need new items. I also want to stick to my budgets for events. Finally adding some fun things to the calendar (girl's night, GYST weekend and lunch with Betsy, draft day, our anniversary, and Hawkeye's birthday, at least!) and I earned the 'fun money' to enjoy them, but I still need to stick to the planned budget for each thing.

5. No Sugar Year - No sugar on the dailies, as usual. Just need to keep those cravings under control.

6. How Not to Die Year (Vegan Year) - A few things in this category this month, in addition to the vegan diet that's usually on the dailies. I added exercise to the dailies this month, since I don't have the 75 Hard to keep me in line. Even just a quick walk with the dogs will count. I want to read the second book, which is How Not to Diet and it's huge. I would also like to hit my goal weight this month. It might be a stretch considering how long it took for the last few pounds to come off, but it's within the realm of possibility so I'm adding it to the list to keep motivated. Which is why 'trying a new workout' is on the weekly agenda. Nothing crazy or long, just different toning moves or something. I also need to do the in person weigh in for weight watchers! I've only done the digital program but in order to make 'lifetime' and thus get all the tools for free like the app, you have to weigh in in person, have at least 5 lbs to lose, hit your goal and then weigh in at the studio each month to keep your lifetime status. I want it, you get a special charm and everything and I'm a child. I want my charm. And the studio is like 2 minutes from my mom's house, it's not a problem.

7. Prioritize Self Care - This is a new one! Instead of the Kate Middleton energy I was going for before. It's a similar goal though, some overlapping items. First, fun. This month is for fun, there's been little planned fun these last three months and now that 75 Hard is over, I want a cocktail. I want to enjoy all the events I have planned, and I want to schedule a bar crawl date day with John. He's off work for a few weeks in April and that means we could bar crawl on a Wednesday if we wanted. I also want to remember my weekly self care routine - hair mask, face mask, fixing up my nails and feet. And can I remember to wear the damn retainer this month?? Every day? My guess is no but I'm only aiming for more days than last month. Can I make it to 10?? Oh and last daily - avoid toxic people. I have two in mind for this (Michael, you know all about this!) and I think I can go all way to September without having to see them. I also blocked them already on my phone and instagram so nothing but queen energy and happy vibes over here.

8. Build a Successful Business - Dailies, post to Instagram - pretty standard. Weekly, post to YouTube every Friday and actually remember to promote it on other platforms. And for the monthly goal, GYST weekends, which I love. It stands for get your shit together and I do them at least twice a year with Betsy and more often on my own, and it's where I get focused and check everything off my to do list without distraction. For me that's mostly creating content, for Betsy it's often blog related or home organization related. We also sometimes check things off our 101 list. But this time, I'm prioritizing content and working ahead. So her and I will be doing that the 22nd and 23rd, and I'll be continuing the weekend after that as well.


What's on your agenda for April? Are you prioritizing fun this month too?

April Goals (Powersheets Tending List)

Friday, April 1, 2022

This post is just a quick notice, to inform you of some changes in case you want to keep following this blog. The custom domain (simplebystephanie.com) is set to expire this summer and... I just don't want to pay for it again. Technically, it's not even allowed under my no spend rules! And I don't feel like it's worth the price to keep it up. So I'm letting it go. But this blog will still be available at simplebystephanie.blogspot.com. 

Right now, the blog is redirected from my very first blog name, so bourbonandglitter.blogspot.com (wow, so many iterations since then!) I'm going to change it later this month, but that means if you follow via some sort of RSS reader, like Feedly, you're going to have to find the new domain. It won't automatically update anymore.

I hope that makes sense? Basically, if you don't see a post in 2 weeks about my April goals, try going directly to simplebystephanie.blogspot.com and it will be there!

Update Your Reader

Monday, March 14, 2022

February was really good progress for me on certain fronts, not so much on others. Maybe it was the shorter month? You wouldn't think 2-3 days would make much of a difference, but when you only have so much time for those monthly tasks, maybe that does makes a difference. Anyway, onwards to March and more goal progress. But first, as always, the recap.


February Recap



1. Get Married - We actually accomplished a lot on this front this month. We met with the jeweler and got the whole ring thing situated at the beginning of the month. So now that part is moved over to John's task list because he wants to pay for it and then surprise me with it at some point, but we get to pick it up this coming week. He's still undecided on what ring he wants or if he wants a tattoo, but whenever he decides, I'll make sure to add that to my task list and pay for that. I also talked to Julie first thing and it was, as expected, pure drama. Even though we told her last September this was happening, she assumed we'd hold off until next year since she got engaged to her boyfriend of 9 months in December. Because, apparently, 'this is the year of Julie.' I wish I could make this up, but she honestly has always been that delusional and toxic so we didn't expect much different. And for a few other reasons, based solely on his mom's and sister's actions, John has joined me on my scorched earth policy (a story for another time to cover all their disrespectful behavior), which I love. So we settled on a June date to have a little dinner/paper signing event, and his mom and sister won't be in attendance. I actually found a good option for an officiant that can come take care of the paperwork part, so I can book that easily this month. And I reached out to my old co-worker (and friend I've known since grade school!) to get the pre-nup drawn up and get new estate planning paperwork done (wills and powers of attorney), and he'll have those done any day now and we'll be able to review and sign them this month.

2. Happy House, Happy Spouse - Hosted for the Super Bowl, check. John loves doing that, and hosting these events stress-free is part of my happy house goal. So I kept it simple, got a cleaning service the day before, made easy foods (you'll see below), let other people bring stuff, let John get the booze. Delegation is key. As far as my weekly items, I just missed the clean home reset the first week, but otherwise got the cleaning routine down each Monday and also meal planned and prepped the whole month.

3. Get My Concealed Carry License - This goal ended up on the back burner this month with all the other stuff we had going on. I did e-mail the guy, a fellow Chicago firefighter, who runs the course to see what 2022 dates he was planning, but he never got back to me. John will follow up at some point but otherwise we'll find another class. John needs to renew his FOID card though, so we just submitted that info. Probably best to have that before the class (though it's not a requirement.) And I didn't make it to the shooting range, since I ended up making plans with both Ida and Megan, and that plus the Super Bowl put me over my limit of 'socializing' and 'attending things outside of the house.' There's one range a bit outside Chicago that's free on Sundays, but you have to go right at sunrise really before the crowd, and that just wasn't happening with all the other events.

4. No Spend Year - I did a great job shopping the sales each week. Not that there were too many (damn inflation), but I did what I could and at least checked all the flyers before shopping. I was also able to at least roughly plan out the 2022 gifts. Christmas is still a general sketch, but enough to be able to check it off the list. On to the daily spending - here's my February breakdown:
  • $673.07 on bills.
    • $33.27 security system
    • $114 electric
    • $124 gas 
    • $229.12 TV/wifi ($50 higher this month, I forgot to call and renew the discount, but it's back on for the next bill)
    • $72.68 city utilities (water and trash, charged every other month)
    • $100 house cleaning (the best money I spend all month, I tell you! We skipped it in January, it was so necessary before the Super Bowl.)
  • $41.47 on gas for my car. Almost made it to March without having to fill up yet this year, but John has been using my car more because the heating core (whatever the hell that is) is broken in his truck, so he has no heat until he finds a mechanic to fix it. He still drives it to his job, but for other errands he takes mine.
  • $285.99 on pets. (Plus $158.73 on a gift card)
    • $35.27 on duck jerky treats
    • $145.25 on grooming for both dogs
    • $53.88 on Hawkeye's dog food (the bag is monstrous, it'll be interesting to see how long this lasts, even when Joey and Eric's dog Levi eat it all the time.)
    • $2.42 on wet food
    • $49.17 for potty pads for Hawkeye (again, it'll be good to know how long these last.)
    • (+$159.73 for cat food, used Amazon gift card. So not counted in that total number but noting it anyway.)
  • $517.67 on groceries.
    • $25.56 at Aldi
      • $6.69 for myself. A cucumber, two avocados, two zucchini, and a container of hummus.
      • $18.87 for Super Bowl. We have John's immediate family over to watch each year and they bring food (see below), and John supplies drinks. I got a cheese tray, triscuits, two frozen apps (pigs in a blanket and stuffed jalapeƱo poppers), and meal prep containers. Not a no spend fail, because limited spending on hosting is one of my allowances under my personal rules. And the containers were necessary - I sent all tempting leftovers home with the guests!
    • $108.91 at Marianos 
      • $12.97 for myself. More Super Bowl supplies. But I knew I needed to make things that fit my current diet or I'd be too tempted. So I got a veggie tray to go with the Aldi hummus and Snyder's pretzel rods, which are the only ones without sugar FYI. There are a lot of great vegan party foods I could make but I knew I'd be the only one eating them so it wasn't worth the effort or the leftovers.
      • $24 for Super Bowl. Other things I got for the party that I didn't eat: bakery cookies, salsa, Fritos, supplies for John to make chili
      • $71.94 for John: cherry ice cream (barf), frozen fruit and veggies, a cucumber, potatoes, eggs, a box of stuffing, plus supplies to make tacos, pasta and meatballs, and stir fry.
    • $44.62 at Aldi. Black beans, chickpeas, diced tomatoes, frozen veggies, avocados, mushrooms, onions, a cucumber, and mini guac cups. The supplies for more burrito bowls, to use up the quinoa I had on hand from January's Costco trip (and Aldi was significantly cheaper for the same shit, I tracked it). If it ain't broke, don't fix it - I eat the same thing for months until I get sick of it, then switch. The rest of the month I used up what I had which included smoothies, frozen black bean burgers, and lentil fritters, so I'll have to switch it up for March and get all new groceries and make new recipes.
    • $65.77 at Costco. This was a future stock, I didn't actually need anything. But Megan really wanted to go and since I have the membership, I took her. In exchange, she took me to Orange Theory Fitness for the first time (for free) and I almost died so I don't know if that was a good exchange. That workout is no joke, good lord. Anyway, she paid for her own groceries of course but no sense trekking there and not getting anything, so I got:
      • $18.38 two big bags of frozen veggies for myself (groceries)
      • $47.38 paper towels for my mom's house, toilet paper for us (household)
    • $55.81 at Marianos
      • $8.48 for myself. Frozen spinach, Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, salad greens, and yellow bell pepper.
      • $47.33 for John. Frozen pizza, frozen stir fry veggies, triscuits, deli ham slices, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion.
    • $217 at Mariacos. Right at the wire! Which is why grocery total is so high this month and will be so low next month. We just went and did a stock up to last a couple weeks.
      • $19.36 for myself. Beans, Amy's soup, cucumbers, broccoli, apples, and ingredients for vegan chili (which I did half on John's tally, he'll have at least half.)
      • 197.64 for John. Frozen pizza, ice cream, breadsticks, eggs, lots of meat and a marinade, almond milk, yogurt, Chex mix, peanut butter pretzels, stuffing, pasta, pasta sauce, pickles, potatoes, bell peppers, and salsa.
  • $5.75 on spending fails. The first of the year, and the first amount I'll have to match to donate to a charity of Steph's choice at the end of the year! John and I went downtown to pick out my ring. Parking was validated and he kindly covered lunch at Flat Top (if I had paid for that, it would not have been a fail, it would have been goal or entertainment excepted) but I paid for coffee. This is a clear rule on my no spend year plans, and for a reason. I spent too much on coffee out last year and there's no point. I only drink it black and I make it much cheaper at home. Sure, this was an outing and special circumstance, but my rules were clear - no coffee unless it's a gift card, and I picked a coffee shop I did not have a gift card for. No wiggle room on this, it's not even an exception under 'if I earn 'free' money.' 
  • Things I acquired for free: two books (Sweet Poison and one on Norse and Germanic folklore), silver and gold jewelry cleaners, and this fucking fabulous Nicolas Cage pillow cover, all Valentine's Day gifts from John. And a coffee from Starbucks the day I got my booster, which I covered with a gift card leftover from Christmas, which is why it's not a fail like the other one.
  • Things I almost bought but didn't: black liquid eyeliner, a pill organizer, yoga pants with pockets, the Macabre tarot deck, Dixi rings, and unsurprisingly, this book on toxic in laws which thankfully they have at the library, I placed a hold on it and I should have it in hand by the time this post is live!

5. No Sugar Year - I kicked ass in the face of temptations this month. Like I mentioned, we ate out at Flat Top Grill, and I was diligent about checking the various sauces for sugar. Thankfully, they have a detailed allergens list on their website, and sugar is included. We also hosted the Super Bowl and even though I made things that I had eat (including vegan brownies), John's family always brings tons of food to events. I think it's a German thing, "feed all the people." And not much of it was vegan or sugar free. Think taco dip (dairy), artichoke dip and ritz crackers (dairy and sugar), cookies (sugar), pizza, cheese and crackers, chili, chicken wings, and more. All things I would have eaten in the past, minus the meat, but I stuck to my plans! Very proud of that. And John was very good about not getting me chocolates for Valentine's Day, he knows I'm serious about this. Second half of the month was a lot smoother, but events will only ramp up when we head into the warmer months so I'll need to make more strategies for myself. Relying on willpower alone is a recipe for sugar disaster. I did read the book I listed, plus I'm currently reading Sweet Poison since John got it for me.

6. How Not to Die Year (Vegan Year) - I'm honestly quite impressed with myself for doing two months fully vegan. When I was just vegetarian (my entire life before this year), cheese could have been considered a food group all it's own in my pyramid. And somewhere near the base. Pizza of course, cheese added to veggie burgers and burrito bowls, nachos were life, the list goes on. I never ate meat or enjoyed eggs much, so no big change there, and vegan butter is an easy substitute, it's so close to the dairy kind. But the cheese is a big change for me. I feel better for it! Feeling more confident as time goes on about not having any, and about double checking for milk, butter, or eggs in any prepared foods I have. Which is few, naturally. I also kept up with the 75 Hard challenge (easier this time around because I'm ignoring the requirement of one of the workouts needing to be outside. Not in Chicago in February, pal.), checked in weekly with the weigh ins, and only missed three days of taking my vitamins.

7. Kate Middleton Energy - Yeah... I gotta tell say, this is the goal that's most likely to get changed when I do the quarterly refresh at the end of this month. I love Kate on the fronts of general style and poise in the media but at the end of the day, I'm just not a Kate all the time. I'm a Meghan - when you realize your husband's family is toxic AF, you move your family to a different damn continent. I'm so on board with that attitude, especially this month. I actually do feel like I've mastered a lot of these things, but the ones I haven't (being known for my patience and kindness comes to mind) aren't something I'm interested in working on.


I did enforce time boundaries, which was nice, but daily serenity? Not so much. Between John's mother/sister and the contractor/permit issues, I got way too worked up. But then I realized I feel best and most myself when I'm in bitch mode. I get shit done when I'm pissed off. So I definitely need to think on this goal going forward.

8. Build a Successful Business - Held steady this month. Got all my tasks done off my list, got the February boxes listed, checked in on Discord every week, and enforce my morning office hours every day. I wouldn't say it was a growth month, but steady is good! I do feel like, even though I got the tasks done, I didn't work as much this month, so I need to step that up this month.


March Tending List



1. Get Married - For monthly items, we need to settle the estate planning, the date (it's 99% set), and book the officiant. Those are the main things, none of which are too difficult. Slow and steady progress.

2. Happy House, Happy Spouse - Weekly meal plan and prep makes the list again this month. I like having the reminder to sit down once a week and actually make the plan.

3. Get My Concealed Carry License - Course options is back on the list this month. John says he knows a few other guys who teach it, so he's planning on reaching out. This is just a note for me to remind him about it, really.

4. No Spend Year - The usual suspect on the dailies - no spending. For a monthly goal, I'm spending March doing a pantry challenge. Plus fridge and freezer. I stocked up quite a bit over the last two months, including that last minute grocery run to Marianos. I think I have like 2 weeks of dinners of just lentil fritters alone in the freezer! Plus I still have canned beans, tomatoes, lentils, oats, soups, frozen vegetables, smoothie cups and more. Yes, these staples last a long time, but not forever. So it's a use up the stockpile month. I'm also going to work on earning 'fun money' this month. I have some events planned in April that would otherwise violate my no spend year rules. But I gave myself the allowance that if I earned 'fun money', that would be okay. So that means Swagbucks and other ways of earning that are outside of my podcast business. Thankfully, I think my DietBet pays out this month, or at least early April!

5. No Sugar Year - No sugar on the dailies of course, need somewhere to track it. I also want to finish reading Sweet Poison.

6. How Not to Die Year (Vegan Year) - All the same dailies. Vegan diet, vitamins, and also still 75 hard because Megan and I are going until the end of the month. Actually until we have girls night out mid April, go us! And I'm still not at the place where I'd remember to take my vitamins without the checklist. I don't have it tied to any other activity (like always taking them after lunch or before I brush my teeth), so I only take them when I look at the PowerSheets and think 'oh yeah, let me go take those now and get my check mark.' Which is fine, that's what the page is for, but I do need to figure out how to function without it at some point. I also want to focus more on weight loss this month, rather than maintaining. Shooting for 5 lbs off. Oh and my weekly item is based around drinking more tea. I have a few types and a bunch have 5 servings left. I really need to clear out the stash, so I can reorder only my favorites, so the goal is to finish off a type each week.

7. Kate Middleton Energy - The only thing on the dailies is to wear my Invisalign. Which I suck at. I've had the trays for like 6 years and I've only let my front crooked tooth get worse. And yes, some of the 'Kate Middleton' things on my list are entirely superficial, and straight teeth is one. My parents paid for it all those years ago, I really should use them! In the weekly section, I want to spend time each week reading my library books. Which don't seem to fit the goal on the surface, but the books are 'Toxic In Laws' and 'Emotional Blackmail' so yeah, they fit. Hopefully I'll learn useful strategies for dealing with toxic people and keeping my composure. In line with that, I want to focus on my longer self care routine each week as well, which is really just a hair and face mask. But it makes me feel better.

8. Build a Successful Business - Need to list and ship the March boxes. Listing is happening today, so shipping starts tomorrow. Should have this crossed off by mid month. For my weekly items, I absolutely need to start working ahead on my future tasks for April and beyond. Getting into the time of year when my schedule is busier, so I have to stop putting it off and work on something every week. I also pretty much ignored Instagram in February since it wasn't on my PowerSheets like it was in January, so it's back on the daily list this month. And hopefully that will help me remember to promote patreon and get one new subscriber each week (or a total of 5 for the month, at any point, would count too.)

I also have noted on the monthly section the 'PowerSheets Date' because the planner offers a quarterly check in and reset. So you run through a quick questionnaire and generally note how each goal is going, so you can adjust and make any changes before going into the next quarter. I'll take some time to do this exercise towards the end of this month.

What do you have planned for March? How did your goals progress during the last two months?

March Goals (Powersheets Tending List)

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

A happy start of the 2nd month of 2022 to you. I hope the first was good to you. Mine started out not so great but it rallied. I started the year sick (you'll see below) and that was not fun. I'm hardly ever sick anymore so when it hits, I do not handle it well. And I feel like it throws everything off track! But I think I still managed to pull out some big wins for my goals for the month. So let's recap January and then look ahead to this month.


January Goals Recap




1. Get Married - Made a full list of tasks to get done and even accomplished the first one, which was getting in touch with a jeweler to reset a diamond into a new setting. Didn't go do it, but made the call! We go next week.

2. Happy House, Happy Spouse - Decluttering went well, as I knew it would. I really love getting reset for a new year, so the room by room declutter was perfect. I wasn't able to start it until halfway through the month, but it still worked out fine. As far as the weekly goals, I was mostly able to set up a clean home reset hour one day a week, which helps me stay on top of things and keep the house looking nice both for us and for any guests that may drop by. (Just that first week while sick that I couldn't get to. Technically not checked off for the '5th week' but that's because we're not at cleaning day for this week yet.) And then I deep clean once a month, which takes 4 hours. I was also totally on top of meal planning and prepping this month. When I'm being super strict with my own plans, I'm also great at staying on top of a solid meal plan for John.

3. Get My Concealed Carry License - Just an easy goal of heading to the shooting range this month: check! It's actually pretty close by. 10 minute drive from our house, 6 from my mom's, which is where we've been staying a few nights here and there, keeping the house safe, since my mom's in Florida until May. Again, didn't get to it until later in the month (literally last Wednesday) but thankfully it didn't matter that this goal came in just under the wire, it still got done.

4. No Spend Year - As far as the monthly goal, I did make my yearly spending plan. I looked ahead at each month and planned out what might be happening and what birthdays were coming, so I have a general idea of what expenses could arise. And then the daily section is where you can see what progress I made. If the spending was on the approved list, like bills, pets, and groceries, I gave myself the day's check mark anyway. Only non-approved spending meant getting a blank box, so no blank boxes for January! But here's the breakdown of what I spent in January:

  • $91.97 at Walgreens. Well this first spending of the year was 0% fun. It's also not a violation of my rules because medical is allowed, and that's what this was. I started the year sick. It was awful but my own fault. I went out and shoveled snow without layers and then got a stuffy nose which led to a sore throat and weakened immune system, so I spent the whole first week to 10 days of January with a head cold. And since John (a) was just sick before me and (b) generally has the immune system of one of those carnival prize goldfish, we were out of pretty much every medication in the house. I had to stock up on throat lozenges, nasal spray, throat spray, mucinex, elderberry, and nyquil. Plus more tea, honey, and gatorade for John. And we stocked pretty well so I don't foresee much spending in this category in the future. Fingers crossed, at least.
  • $467.16 on bills.
    • $54.99 security system. It randomly went up $5, so I called and they gave me a loyalty discount, so future bills will be knocked down to $39.99. Win!
    • $114 electric
    • $124 gas 
    • $174.17 TV/wifi
  • $294.01 on groceries. Let me know in the comments if you like this break down or if it's just annoyingly long. 
    • $101.52 at Costco. John's parents gifted us a membership for Christmas. So I stocked up on a couple of things. I actually separated the costs out for this one, for my own knowledge. I pay for all the groceries but John and I eat almost none of the same things, so I wanted to know how much my own diet is costing me. Just curious. So I'm going to keep it separate as long as I can, knowing that eventually I'll have one big shopping trip and be too annoyed.
      • $3.52 for white vinegar, which was a household supply. I use it for cleaning and laundry.
      • $55.15 for John (cashews, ketchup, bbq sauce, olive oil, canned corn)
      • $42.85 for me (black beans, garbanzo beans, quinoa, canned tomatoes with chilis, mini guac cups)
    • $79.82 at Revive. One thing I surprisingly suck at as a vegan is fruit consumption. I don't know why. But I love it in smoothie form, and I'm much more likely to make them when the different fruits are already together and portioned, like these cups. Which I only get on sale of course. This link gets you 50% off if you want to try it out. I just add water and blend. I think you can add milk too, but I prefer water. Since I was just starting out the year of no sugar (during which fruit is fine, even blended, just no fruit juice), I figured these would be a good option to have instead of a dessert at the end of the night. Particularly the ones with cacao added. And I was right, it was so easy to make a big salad for dinner and then have a smoothie after. Didn't even think about any additional dessert! I got 18 cups so it ended up being like $4.40 a piece. I honestly don't think I could make it cheaper on my own due to all the extra seeds and proteins added, along with the cost of fruit in Chicago in winter (and the pandemic inflation on groceries/produce in general right now.) But I do make my own in the summer.
    • $34.66 at Aldi. Just some other produce essentials, all for me - salad greens, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, potatoes.
    • $35.34 at Marianos. Meat and seasonings for John.
    • $42.67 at Marianos. This was my portion. I got some produce because it was on sale and it was the specific things I use to make lentil fritters (onions and zucchini), and I had a ton of lentils on hand. They freeze well, so it made sense to buy them now and start stocking the freezer. I got frozen spinach and broccoli for the same reason. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and apples were also on sale, which I like as snacks, plus mushrooms for my black bean burgers. Again, had all the other ingredients so why not make and freeze them? I also got sourdough pretzels, Mary's seed crackers, and real, nothing added peanut butter. I've been wanting some crunchy/salty snacks and when you're doing vegan and no sugar, options are limited! Oh and I grabbed two cans of Amy's lentil soups, which make a great emergency option for a lunch or dinner so I don't resort to take-out.
  • $66.45 on pets.
    • $15.47 at Amazon for dentastix
    • $50.98 at Petco for two bags of the food my mom's dog eats
  • $94.98 on goals. Limited goals spending is allowed under my goals, and I spent to go to the shooting range, part of my 'get my concealed carry' goal. I debated whether this should be entertainment though instead and thus needs to come out of my 'free money', but ultimately decided to place it under goals.
  • $0 on other.
    • I started the year with Amazon gift cards and I used part of that to order new storage bags for our Christmas tree. The old one ripped. Gift cards are fair game so no violation of my rules, I just want to track items coming in as well.
  • Things I almost bought but didn't: coffee from Starbucks and Dunkin, like 8 times; chipotle, twice; new slippers; a new ceramic canister for dog treats; two books (Sweet Poison and Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, both of which made it onto my gift wish list I share with John); lipstick.

5. No Sugar Year - Clearing the house of the damn sugar was a first hurdle! I thought I did a good job of not keeping much over the holidays but I was wrong. Thank god for firefighters who eat anything, because we just packed everything up for John to take in on New Year's Eve and leave there. The only sugar left in the house is John's stuff, which isn't anything I like so I can resist (he's more about gummy and fruity candy, and cookies. None of which I like, I'm a pure dark sometimes milk chocolate girl.) For the weekly goal, I planned to make myself a no sugar vegan dessert each week to make the transition easier. The first week was fruit smoothies, then my favorite, the vegan brownies, but then I actually found that I didn't need to bother. It wasn't a trigger any more, so I just had a chopped up apple after dinner each night. And as you can see in the daily section, it was a successful, almost full month of no sugar. There was just one minor screw up. John wanted Panera so I opted for the Mediterranean veggie sandwich, no cheese. But I completely forgot to change the bread and the one it comes with does have sugar. Didn't even realize until halfway through. I think it's a fairly minor infraction but I'm being totally transparent here. But I do also have to mention, I was very glad I made the medical exception. Since I started the year off sick, I needed throat lozenges and nasty syrupy stuff. Both of which were disgusting and I was happy to be rid of them but they did in fact contain sugar.

6. How Not to Die Year (Vegan Year) - I re-read the book, complete with tabs this time to mark all the best passages and ideas. Which will really come in handy the rest of this year, because I like to remember the 'why' behind what I'm doing. What disease does flaxseed help prevent? Why is broccoli the ideal cruciferous veggie? And as you can see in the daily section, I stuck to the vegan diet this month and remembered to take my vitamins like an adult (almost) every single day. Just missed the days I stayed at my mom's and totally forgot to bring the vitamins with. I also did my weekly weigh ins for Diet Bet and Healthy Wage, to stay on track with my weight loss goal as a continuation from last year. And as part of this goal, I also started the 75 Hard challenge (again) with my friend Megan. Which is only slightly related, but daily exercise is part of the How Not to Die lifestyle, so I figured this was the best goal to track it under. 

7. Kate Middleton Energy - I edited my makeup and skincare down as part of my declutter process. I feel good about what I kept and how that's taking care of my skin. It's also a pretty simple lineup, which makes the daily 'personal prep' goal a lot easier - makeup, hair, and getting dressed each day. A lot simpler when your makeup collection is just a few items. Obviously though, I still didn't do much by way of this goal. If I was less strict, I could have gotten a lot more passes. I would do like 75-90% of the routine most days, but I didn't get the check unless it was 100%. I'll have to come back around to this goal. If you care what I ended up with in my makeup/skincare collection, I can make a post about it. Oh and I did a digital detox day weekly, which isn't too tough for me I find. I allow Netflix, but no e-mails, work related online updates, social media, internet, news, all the mentally draining shit. I mostly just read and work on house things that day though, with a show I've seen before playing in the background. 

8. Build a Successful Business - January boxes listed and shipped! I made a set number, as I'll do for each month, that just stay in the shop until sold out. I also managed my 3 content batching days, which make my life so much easier and the whole creation process more streamlined. I posted to Instagram most every day that I intended to. I take weekends off, but it started out a little more sporadically than that. I got better in the last two weeks though.


February Tending List




1. Get Married - Just two quick things on the list. First, make the appointment to get the ring done. Should be easy enough. Second, have a chat with John's sister to let her know what we're planning and the timeline. Her boyfriend proposed on Christmas Eve. I don't think she planning anything for this calendar year, because she wants a big thing not affected by covid and because they've only been together a couple months. But we need to make 100% sure she's not planning anything for the early summer. Because for as low key as what we're planning is, if we interrupt her schedule in anyway or take the spotlight off her for a second, the meltdown will be nuclear. And we'd like to avoid that, obviously.

2. Happy House, Happy Spouse - Part of this goal is hosting related so first up is Super Bowl! It's very small, we only ever have John's immediate family, but still. There's some prep involved in that. And I'm keeping the same weekly goals of doing the clean home reset and keeping on top of meal planning and prep. They remain on the list until I feel confident that I don't need the check mark to keep on doing it, and we're not there yet.

3. Get My Concealed Carry License - Pretty simple goals here - find a date for the class, and visit the shooting range again. There's an instructor John wants to use because he's a Chicago firefighter too, so it's actually on John's task list to get a list of dates from him, which I can then run past a couple other people who expressed interest in taking the course when we do.

4. No Spend Year - Not spending is always going to be in the daily section for 2022. Other than that, I have shopping grocery sales in the weekly section. I shop every week to 10 days, and we tried to work through what we had in January, so it's not like we have a ton of stockpile left. I almost never check the circulars to see what the good deals are, and produce (and groceries in general) is so expensive right now. Time to cut this bill down! Oh and in the monthly section, yes, gifts. I'm trying to spend little to money on gifts this year. Not that I won't get gifts for others, just that I plan on using other means to get them, like Swagbucks, cash back rewards from my credit card, or using the gift cards I already have. But I need to make a plan for that, which starts with knowing approximately how much I'm spending on people and list out some ideas.

5. No Sugar Year - Like no spending, no sugar will always appear in the dailies. And this month, I'm also specifically making a no sugar dessert for the Super Bowl. I don't know that anyone else will try it, but I need something to keep myself away from anything sugary that other people may bring (John's uncle always brings cookies, for example.) For this purpose, I want to re-read Year of No Sugar. I read it a couple of years ago and enjoyed it, and remember her talking about desserts quite a bit in there. Going to get some ideas and tips.

6. How Not to Die Year (Vegan Year) - No monthly tasks here, mostly dailies. Sticking with the vegan diet, which will be a daily task all year too, taking my vitamins because I still absolutely need a check mark to remember to do this, and of course to continue with the 75 Hard challenge I'm doing with Megan. I also want to complete my weekly weigh ins for WW and DietBet.

7. Kate Middleton Energy - I'm all about the serenity this month. Well I am all this year, it's my word of the year, but it did not go great in January. The contractor pissed me off too many times. But this month, I'm not rising to that nonsense. I'm letting John take over. Just going to try to remember 'serenity' every day, make sure nothing makes my blood pressure rise. And a big part of this will be creating and enforcing time boundaries each week. Our schedules will always be unpredictable and different, solely because of the fire schedule. 24 hours on, 48 hours off. Doesn't matter what day of the week it is. So I can't really say "I'll do this on Sunday, this on Tuesday" because what I can do in a day depends on whether John is home. Example: I can't wash all the sheets and towels on Monday if he works Sunday and picked up a Tuesday shift for someone, because the washer will be full of his uniform and bedding all day. I need more flexibility in my schedule. But I also have times of day where I work best mentally, so I need to block those on the calendar for work hours and not schedule errands then. All in all, I need to create better time blocks, which will allow me to be more calm and graceful.

8. Build a Successful Business - I sell boxes on Etsy every month, so that will probably appear as a regular task as well. Also this month I would like to clear out my task list for February and March. I have listed all the things I need to do and content I plan to create, so I'd like to finish it all this month. John is on furlough in March, which makes it harder to get work tasks done since he's home all day. Better to get it all done early! I also need to set and enforce week day office hours, as well as check in on the discord server each week.


What's on tap for you for February?

February Goals (Powersheets Tending List)

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Like I mentioned in the Powersheets post on Monday, I have some more details to share about the goal I titled 'How Not to Die Year.' It does essentially boil down to a vegan year, but with a few more nuances. First though, the results of my food sensitivity test!


Food Sensitivity Test Results 


One of the things that John got me for Christmas was a food sensitivity test. I asked for it, of course, so I was very excited to send it back in and get my results. The one I got is from Everlywell (not sponsored but you get some sort of discount with that link if you want to try it out for yourself.) It's fairly straightforward - the kit they send includes two lancets. You prick your finger and place the blood drops on the card with your name on it. Mail it back in and your results come in just a couple of days. I couldn't believe how quickly it came. But yes, if you have issues with blood or needle pricks, this is not for you! I have no such issues so the whole thing took me maybe 5 minutes.

My results? Thankfully, not super highly sensitive on anything they tested for. But a few moderate sensitivities, which can still cause symptoms: cow's milk, eggs, cashews, brewer's yeast, clams, ginger, and yogurt. And to a lesser extent, mozzarella and white mushrooms. I guess I'm not surprised - cheese has always caused issues for me, and most people can't tolerate cow's milk, we all just have it anyway. Lots of reasons for that, from marketing to government subsidies, but that's a post for another time. And I never really ate eggs on their own, but it makes sense why so many desserts turned me off, especially cookies, since eggs are a main baking ingredient. Made my decision to have an all vegan year that much easier. I've never eaten meat, so the only real holdouts for being totally vegan were cheese and chocolate, both things that very much cause some digestive issues for me, along with headaches and flushed skin.

But the other foods on the list did surprise me, and for that, I'm glad I took the test. Because I never would have figured them out on my own through an elimination diet. I mean, cashews? I've never had a visible nut reaction so it wouldn't have even occurred to me to test myself for this, but cashews are the main ingredient in processed vegan foods, like vegan cheese and sauces! No wonder I always say 'I don't like vegan cheese.' What I really mean is 'vegan cheese gives me stomach pains and headaches' but I guess I only knew that information subconsciously. 

And brewer's yeast? I mean, why would I even consider that the problem. I knew certain beers were bugging me and causing headaches, but in America, beers are required to be yeast free so it's all filtered out. I assumed it was a gluten or sugar problem (in a fun turn of events, gluten is an absolute 0 on the reaction scale for me, I have no sensitivity to it whatsoever), but apparently the effects of the yeast in the beer before the filtering is enough to cause issues. It's also present in wine, which explains why I also get an instant headache from wine and dislike it so much. Oh, and it's in soy sauce, so it probably wasn't the high sodium in Chinese food that was bothering me, or at least not solely. It was this tricky brewer's yeast.

How Not to Die Year


This title comes directly from the book by Dr. Greger. I've mentioned this before, it's one of my favorites. As is the corresponding cookbook. At the end of the day, it's a book advocating for a plant-based lifestyle. Each chapter contains information on the leading causes of death for Americans, mostly diseases that can be prevented through eating the proper nutrients. Nutrients that come only from a well-rounded plant-based diet. And specifically through avoiding all of the bad stuff we already know leads to clogged arteries and more, like meat, trans fats, dairy, and processed who knows what. It's a fascinating read, and one that I'm working my way through again right now. This time with little sticky tabs to mark the most important passages.

Last year, I worked on the Blue Zone Living Challenge, which is very similar in terms of what to eat, but also emphasizes the importance of things like family and community connections, regular daily movement, and regularly de-stressing. I tackled these other aspects really well, but not so much the food aspect. So I wanted to focus on that this year, which made the How Not to Die plan a better fit, because it's much more detailed about the 'diet' plan. It's not actually a diet designed for weight loss, but a whole vegan diet based lifestyle change.

Although the book contains tons of scientific studies and detailed information, the author was able to condense it down into the Daily Dozen plan, and provides a free app to track your days by. It's incredibly straightforward. Each day, Dr. Greger recommends eating 3 servings of beans, 1 of berries, 3 of other fruits, 1 of cruciferous vegetables, 2 of greens, 2 of other vegetables, 1 serving of flaxseeds, 1 of nuts and seeds, 1 of herbs and spices, and 3 of whole grains. I would never remember the full count on my own so the awesome thing is, the app tells you exactly how much constitutes a serving, and offers a full list of foods to eat to cover that serving. Plus you get a nice little box for each serving to make a check mark in. It even includes space to check off your water intake, moderate daily exercise, and your B-12 supplement. 

Now, I may not hit every check mark every day, but the closer I can get, the healthier my eating habits. If I include all those things into my day, I wouldn't even have room in my stomach for anything else on the more unhealthy end, like cheese and processed grains! I'm someone who needs a lot of guidance and hand-holding in making my meal plan for the week, so something this structured is exactly what I'm looking for. Plus, the recipes in the cookbook (and I've loved everything I've made so far) note at the bottom which serving and how many of them they check off.

So this year, I'm mainly aiming to stick to a vegan diet so I'm not triggered into physically feeling bad by eating the things high on my sensitivities test. And the Daily Dozen plan is definitely the best way for me personally to make sure I'm getting the nutrients I need across the board, without feeling stressed and overwhelmed when making a meal plan. To consider this a win or give myself an A at the end of the year, I need to: (a) stick to a vegan diet, (b) cut out processed foods, even vegan ones like frozen fake meat burgers or nuggets, (c) take my damn vitamins daily and not sporadically like I currently do, and (d) end the year with completely normal blood test results. Which they mostly were this year, just insanely low on vitamin D and a little too high on some of the 'bad' markers.

If you have an vegan (cashew free!) recipes or meals that you love, please share. I'm always looking for new options.


Have you taken a food sensitivity test? What gives your immune system issues?

How Not to Die Year (and Food Sensitivity Test Results)

Friday, January 7, 2022

If you've been reading for awhile, then you'll know that I attempted to go 'no sugar' over the summer of 2021. And I did great all the way up to Halloween candy. Damn that candy. I don't even like it! It's just that addicting. So I decided to tackle this goal again, and get more months and good habits under my belt before the holiday season hits. No sugar 2022 it is.


No added sugar, I should say, because some whole foods are perfectly healthy for you but contain sugar (fruit! quinoa!) and are not off the table this year. But everything else is, because sugar, namely fructose, is poison. Don't believe me? You simply must watch the most interesting hour and a half video on YouTube. There are so many obesity related diseases rampant in America and no matter how many no carb, no fat, no meat, no ___ diets people try, Americans are still fatter and more unhealthy than ever. And it's directly correlated with sugar. (And seed oils, but I don't eat much of those anyway so one problem at a time.)

The No Sugar Science

Sugar, namely fructose, is highly addicting. The more you eat, the more you want to eat - the average American eats half a cup of sugar a day. Drinking something with fructose (juice or soda) before a meal actually makes you eat more. Unlike drinking a glass of water which fills the stomach the same way, but makes you eat less. So sugar itself may not be highly fattening, but it encourages you to eat so much more, leading to weight gain. And the cycle only gets worse because, like any other drug, the more you consume sugar, the more you need to get the same high and satisfy the craving. Which is why quitting cold turkey for an extended period of time makes the most sense - it's hard to just limit intake on addicting substances.

Sugar also lowers your immune system, increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol,  heart attacks, certain cancers, fatty liver disease, depression, dementia, and Alzheimers. I'm sure there's more - it's poison. There's a lot of science behind why the glucose in fruit is necessary for humans and why fructose absolutely isn't and blocks insulin but again, I recommend watching the video because science major I am not.

My Own Sugar Issues

Here's the thing I already know - added sugar makes me feel awful. It's an absolute migraine trigger for me. I started paying much closer attention to sugar. Vegan brownies made from dates? Delicious and pain free. Conventional brownies? Sugar crash, including pounding headache, within 30 minutes. It became clear that my issues were all associated with consuming added sugar. And looking back at 2020, when I couldn't seem to get headaches under control, they were highly correlated with sugar intake. When I intentionally started losing weight and eating better (October 2020), the headaches subsided, but it still took me until mid-2021 to make the direct sugar connection.

The added sugar in just about everything makes it really complicated. Bread, ketchup, pizza, tacos, salad dressing, frozen foods, etc etc - everything has hidden added sugar. Because that's what makes it taste good and keep you buying more, so companies keep on adding more. And I need to quit it. It directly over laps with my vegan diet I plan on talking all about in tomorrow's post, but since sugar is such a specific subset, I decided it needed its own goal and its own post.

My No Sugar Year Rules

I'm a rule follower by nature (enneagram Type 1 here, and an ESTJ), so I have to have a list to refer to. I'm also an obliger and extrinsically motivated, which means I need to post about it here and have other people read it in order to remain accountable. So here's what I came up with:

1. No added sugar. It sounds simple enough but sugar really is in everything, and under sneaky chemical names, so it can be tough when determining whether something processed fits the bill. It almost never does, so that means real food - more on that tomorrow. No sugar means: white and brown sugar, cane sugar, powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane syrup, honey, agave, fruit juice, sugar alcohols, and artificial sweeteners. I'm sure there's more I forgot, so if I find myself buying something packaged, I need to research the ingredients list to make sure it's not hiding in there under another name.

2. Fruit is fine. Fruit is real, whole food, and it's good for you. It has fiber and nutrients that negate the bad effects of fructose, and fills you up before you even hit danger levels of sugar. So I'll be having fruits often, hopefully daily, but about 3 servings a day or less. (I actually don't like it that much so...) And like I said, a lot of whole, real foods have sugar, like quinoa. That's okay. Fruit juice is still the devil's drink though, no fruit juice allowed.

3. Medication and vitamins are exempted. Is there sugar in my Flintstones chewable vitamin? Sure tastes like it. But I'm not checking the ingredients list because it's the only multivitamin I can ever take regularly. Because I'm 7. So I'm giving myself an exemption for this, as well as any other medication I may need. Because almost all of it has sugar of some sort, but it's obviously not the same thing as a cup of ice cream.

That's it's, three simple rules! Simple in theory, at least, not so much in practice. But that's the point. Let me know if you think there are any hurdles or details I forgot about, so I can include them into my rules list. I love starting with a well-thought out plan.

No Sugar Year - 2022

Thursday, January 6, 2022

So last year, it was one of my goals to make 2021 a no spend year. And although I didn't overspend and in fact spent less than in previous years, it still wasn't the successful shopping ban that I had planned. There were a few reasons for it, reasons that I plan on tackling in advance this year so I can stick with the plan I had intended. Just in 2022 instead. And one of the main things was not being absolutely crystal clear on my personal rules, as well as not having any accountability or check ins. You'll see coming up next month that my goal check ins will be much more detailed, so I'll have a space to track my spending (among all my other goals too), plus I'll have the blog itself and you readers as accountability. 


So in order to consider this goal a win and give myself an A at the end of 2022, here's what I need to accomplish:

Rules for the Year

Spending allowed on:

  • Bills, which include electric, gas, water/city utilities, security system, TV/wifi, Netflix (though I'm starting the year with a Netflix gift card I asked for for Christmas, and that should cover the first 8 months), and health insurance. And anything car related like insurance and registration, but often my mom pays for these and in exchange, I pay when I take her dog to grooming every month and watch him for 6 months out of the year and pay for all the dog food and vet visits. It evens out.
  • Gas for the car, because I don't drive around randomly or for fun, so I'm never constantly filling up. Not something I overspend on. And other car needs like oil changes (probably due for that soon, now that I think about it...) and if I absolutely must pay for parking. My allowance in this category for something not totally necessary is two car washes this year.
  • Groceries, including household supplies like tissues, toothpaste, and vitamins, but I do plan on tracking this better and utilizing sales along with proper meal planning. And less waste.
  • Getting my hair done. I get highlights and I only do it twice a year. And it costs me exactly $400 for the year.
  • Dog expenses. Food, groomings, vet visits, all that fun stuff.
  • Cat and wildlife expenses. For the feral cats of course, which is just food. And I buy oats, nuts, and seeds for the birds, squirrels, ducks, and geese. The opossums get our scraps and leftovers. What can I say, I love animals.
  • Medical expenses. Obviously, any co-pays. And any medical needs like Advil or cough medicine - not like I'm buying those things for fun! I won't be adding any experimental vitamins or supplements. I know what works for me and what I need, so only the essentials unless recommended by my doctor.
  • Repairs. Should something get a tear or my phone stops working, I can get it repaired instead of getting a new one.
  • Gardening. We ripped out the giant bush/tree things in the front that I was allergic to and now I need to plant something new and we want to make it a black and red garden. Plus mulch and plants for the back. Things I hate spending money on but my mom loves this project so it's like spending on 'bonding time' really.

Absolutely no spending on:

  • Candles
  • Books, e-books, cookbooks, magazines
  • E-content, like Etsy downloads and online courses. This also includes phone apps, though I've rarely paid for any since owning a phone. But I'm trying to make a complete list here.
  • Planners, pens, other stationary
  • Home decor and other home items like dishes, towels, organizational bins, etc.
  • Coffee outside the house, unless I'm using a gift card.
  • Makeup, skincare, or haircare. I should have everything I need for the year other than when skincare or makeup runs out. I can only replace something once it's actually run out - so no experimenting or buying extras that aren't part of my current lineup. I specifically asked for Ulta gift cards for Christmas for this purpose. And no spending on getting my nails done or buying more supplies to do them at home. I have what I need to use up for the year and plan on getting new Dazzle Dry polishes for Christmas at the end of the year.
  • Clothing and accessories. Which would include underwear, shoes, scarves, jewelry, purses, etc. I think I'm all set but may need a pair of sandals for the summer. That would be the only allowance in the clothing category.
  • Witch supplies, unless it's absolutely necessary for the podcast/YouTube/patreon. I tend to expand the definition of necessary and write it all off as a business expense but that doesn't mean I'm not still spending money on it. 
  • Eating out/ordering in
  • Drinking
  • Entertainment
  • Junk food and sugar. I get John some snack type crap food at the grocery, which is fine for him, but off limits for me this year.
  • Halloween decor. A tough one for me! But I think we have everything I particularly want for decor and party purposes, and I don't want to get anything else until I display everything and see a real need. If there's anything new this year from my favorites (Spirit Halloween and Grandin Road) that I love, I'll put it on my birthday and Christmas wish list.

My allowances:

  • I'm allowed to spend on fun things like drinks/entertainment (street fests, date night, lunch with Betsy, a bar crawl here and there) only if I use 'free' money in some way. This means gift cards or money I earn online like through Swagbucks.
  • I'll need things to furnish the new upstairs: a king size bed, sheets and a comforter, a desk and desk chair, and possibly nightstands. Maybe a couple other things, but that's to be expected when adding on an entire new master bedroom and office area. But no decor items! Strictly the furnishings part.
  • Limited spending on hosting. We host Halloween (though it's been very small and low key the last two years, for obvious reasons), and we may host the 4th of July. There are obviously costs associated, like food, drinks, and ice, but my aim is to keep these costs low, use what we have, and not lump everything into 'hosting essentials' like random Halloween home decor.
  • Limited spending on goals. I have other goals this year that will cost money. Like getting married. Even without a wedding, at the bare minimum we have to pay for the marriage license (a bullshit racket in its own right, but that's a post for another time). There's also a few things on my 101 list that will cost money. But I still plan on keeping these expenses as low as possible.
  • Limited spending on gifts. I'm usually pretty good at finding deals so I don't spend a lot anyway, but since John is hard to shop for, I tend to go overboard at the last minute. I'm setting a budget for everyone this year and sticking with it. Under $1,000 for sure, but I'm aiming for under $500. I'll have a better idea and a more definite budget as the year progresses.

The Carrot and the Stick

Here's where I'm changing up something important: the cost of not following my own rules. You would think that since it's my money that I would automatically be driven to follow the plan. This is not the case. In all goals and goal setting, you need to know how you operate best to stay on track and I know that I'm (a) extrinsically motivated, meaning that I NEED outside accountability because I'm incapable of answering only to myself and (b) pressed by the stick, not the carrot. I'm much more likely to get things done if there's a punishment looming rather than a prize or just the pride of a job well done. Procrastinators will totally understand me, because you too have the instant gratification monkey and panic monster in your brain (best TED talk ever), and get stuff finally completed at the last minute because there's a real threat if you don't, like getting fired or failing a class. 

So my stick: having to donate the matching amount of whatever I spent that didn't follow my rules. $1 candy bar? $1 to charity. $40 dress? $40 to charity. Now, we donate anyway, donating itself is not a punishment, and we will still do our regular donations this year. But having to give extra that's based solely on the amount I spent on crap I didn't need? That will sting. Like Jay-Z said, if you can't afford to buy it twice, you can't afford it. To make it sting a little more, I'm letting Steph pick the charity at the end of the year. And we do not align politically so she could totally pick the DNC and I'd have to do it. Talk about motivation. (She wouldn't, she has much smaller/closer to home/more productive charities she always talks about, but still! Ball would be in her court.)

My carrot I haven't decided on yet, but there will be one. I'm working this year on rewarding myself for the things I accomplish so maybe I can learn to be more carrot-motivated. But I haven't worked out yet exactly what those rewards will look like. If you have any ideas, I'm all ears.


And that is my no spend list. Let me know if there's anything I forgot, because it's entirely possible. I looked at my last couple of months of spending to help me figure out the rules, but I could have missed some categories. Trying to be thorough here! Are you curtailing your spending at all this year?

No Spend Year - 2022

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

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