Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January Goals Update

Earlier this month I put it out there some of our goals for 2011. I've been thinking about them and making them measurable. While I never posted them here, they are on my ipod touch and I think about them everyday. I've called others in to help me be accountable for my goals. Here are my personal goals for 2011:
  • Hit magical goal weight by March 30th. - This magical goal weight is my happy weight - where I look good, my clothes fit well, and I feel great. I began the year about 6 pounds short of that goal weight after trying to attain it for 4 months.
  • Walk 300 days in 2011. - I didn't put a mileage goal on this because I wanted it to be attainable regardless of what life brings me this year. Walking 300 days out of the year should be very attainable.
Here are our family goals for 2011:
  • Family - visit family, have family visit, explore expansion of the Louisiana Johnston clan. 
  • Pay down debt by $25,000.
And here is Jarrod's goal for 2011:
  • Find an exercise that he doesn't hate. Stick with it.

Most of these are measurable and reasonable. I will need to stretch to reach them, but it is possible. I think about these goals everyday and am excited to report that I have made some decent strides on hitting them.  I know we're not quite at the end of January yet, but I wanted to give you an update on how we were doing. Here's my update:
  •  Since January 1, 2011 I have successfully lost 2 pounds!! I know this doesn't seem like much, but it's the only headway I've had in 4 months! I couldn't be more thrilled. Can't you tell by the exclamation points!! ;-) Just about 4 pounds left until I hit my magical goal weight.
  • Since January 1, 2011 I have walked 19 days. That's 19 days out of 25 (I'll walk tonight making it 20/26). This means I'm walking an average of 75% of days and I should be walking closer to 82% of days. I still feel really good about this goal. I've been walking to work nearly everyday and sticking to a good schedule. 
  • Since January 1, 2011 we have not seen any family with the exception of my sister. However, we have a trip planned in February to visit our closest friends, family is visiting us in February, and I'm hoping more family in March. We'd like to take a trip to Dallas sometime this quarter, but are waiting for a few things to fall into place before doing that.
  • Since January 1, 2011 we have paid off $1,900 in debt. It was a bit of a crazy month financially, so I'm thankful that we were able to do this. Yes, we need to pick up the pace to hit our goal. We have budgeted even more for February and will use any money we get back from the IRS straight to debt. We're coming along! 
  • Since January 1, 2011 Jarrod has taken 3 yoga classes. It's a special kind of spiritual yoga and he's loving it! It's taught by a local clergy friend of ours and Jarrod finds it very relaxing. It's helping him stretch his body and clear his mind every Tuesday morning. I am thrilled for him.
There you have it, folks! Goals are coming along well, I think. We definitely need to stick to this pace and we'll be golden!

What are your goals for 2011? Are you sticking to your plan?
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Thursday, January 20, 2011


When Jarrod and I got married, our dining table was a small, rickety, circular black table. It was glossy and not large enough for 4 people. We had 4 black chairs that I like very much, but I knew the table would not be ours forever.

You see, Jarrod and I like to play dominoes. We are expert Mexican Train players and enjoy breaking the set out when we have guests. This small table made it impossible to host a game that included more than just the two of us. (yes, we play dominoes just the two of us...) We also like to have people over to eat, but that's a whole other story. Something had to be done.

I began dreaming about a new table. I knew I wanted something with a leaf, preferably one that could be stored within the table so we didn't need to worry about that. It would need to go with our existing birch bookcases or the black chairs and it needed to be solid and able to with stand many years of family meals, games of dominoes, and dinner parties.

We got serious about finding a table in October. I started searching on Craigslist - I was looking for something that needed a little love, but that would fit all of my criteria. I was willing to put in the work to make it exactly what I wanted if it had good bones. One sunny afternoon we found it. We were at a flea market and found a gem of a table. It was a deep red wood with a laminate top - totally not our color - with solid wood legs, rounded corners, and an extra leaf that fits snugly inside the table. It would comfortably sit 6 without the extra leaf. Ultimately, it was perfect. Minus the color, but I was going to overlook that.

My sweet hubby bargained with the man and we paid him with a hundred dollar bill. Jarrod went home to get his truck and within an hour, I was helping him unload our beautiful new table. I couldn't have been more thrilled. Once we got it in the house, I began dreaming of table runners, colors of stain, and bench seating. Thankfully Jarrod talked me down once again and we lived with it red for several weeks.

I knew I needed to get it done before the weather turned cold - the table would have to be sanded and painted outside on our deck. One weekend in early December the table and I spent a great deal of time together out on the deck. I took it apart, sanded, dusted, sanded, cursed, sanded, and dusted. Finally, a workable surface! Once the legs, table top, and sides were completely sanded down (I used a hand sander for most of it and did a rough sand and then a fine sand) I wiped it down one last time. I did not sand down the laminate completely, just enough to take the paint. We knew we would stain the sides and legs a deep black stain to match the chairs. The top we finally settled on a slate gray.

In order to prepare for the gray, I needed to paint the top with an oil-based primer. I did this to insure that the gray would have full coverage and so that it would adhere to the laminate. I've never used oil-based paint of any kind before and I would like to never have to use it again! I did 2 coats of primer, allowing it to dry completely for 24 hours before applying the next coat. Once the final coat was completed, we left the table alone with a van blowing on it for about 72 hours.

While I was waiting for the top to dry, I stained the rest of the table. I used Minwax Wood Stain in Ebony and rubbed off any excess between applications. I think it took 4 coats before I was happy with the color. After the final coat, we waited for it to completely dry for 72 hours.

You can see how long this process is taking! In the midst of it, I wished we had a garage where we could do these projects! Once the primer was completely dry, it was time to apply the gray. We weren't entirely sold on gray. I knew I didn't want black (I didn't like the old table) and Jarrod didn't want anything too crazy (like blue, red, etc.) Gray it was! We got several swatches and finally settled on this baby. We lost the swatch, so I can't even tell you what color it was exactly... We just bought a quart of it at Wal-mart and were good to go.

As soon as I started painting, I was sold. I loved that it was dark enough so that it didn't stand out but soft enough to be unique. Thankfully Jarrod loved it too and I continued painting. It took 4 coats before I was really happy with the color. Thankfully, it was latex paint and dried very quickly. I did a coat about every 12 hours until I was happy and then waited another 72 hours for it to set completely.

The final step was the poly. I was not looking forward to this step AT ALL. I bought Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane in Satin and got to work. I did the sides and the legs while Jarrod tackled the top. One coat done! We directed the fan at the table and made sure our animals stayed away for 24 hours. We did another coat. There were some spots in first time that we knew we'd be able to take care of with the second coat. Jarrod had a light hand and smoothed on the poly as gently as possible.

Another 24 hours goes by.

I'm still not 100% happy and think we need to go with a third coat on the top. Worst mistake ever!

We did a final coat and we got bubbles! I'd been warned about bubbles and here they were. We tried to wait and see if they went away. They didn't. So I sanded it down and did one last coat. It's not perfect, but it looks pretty darn good!

The $100 for the table and about $15 for the supplies makes this beauty a $115 and she's absolutely perfect! (not counting the 4,723,543 hours we put into it!)

Here she is all dressed up for New Year's Eve!

What do you think? Don't you just want to come on over and play some dominoes with us?
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Green Smoothie

While I definitely love my fair share of cookies, brownies, and ice cream, it should come to no surprise to you that I eat fairly healthy. I haven't had white bread in years - I'm a wheat bread convert. I have grown to love brown rice, wheat pasta, and spaghetti squash. I can't remember the last time I had red meat in the house - ground turkey is my preference. I eat a lot of salad, carrots, celery, and cottage cheese. Yeah, I'm that girl. Don't hate - I have already had one cookie today and it's not even 10am.

I first heard about the "green smoothie" about 2 years ago. My boss would make them everyday and I'd be left to clean the blender/glass. It wasn't pleasant.

I was reminded about the green smoothie a few weeks ago and decided that 2011 was going to be my year for trying out the green smoothie. I researched some recipes, looked at the nutritional information, weighed the pros and cons, and finally bit the bullet and bought everything to make some for this week. Here's my recipe:
1/2 orange or 1/2 cup of cubed pineapple
1/2 banana
1/4 c strawberries
1 cup kale or spinach
1/3 c 1% cottage cheese or yogurt, greek or regular works great!
4-5 ice cubes

I usually make 2 at a time and save one for the next morning. I throw all of these things either in a blender or a large cup and blend with our immersion blender. There was some trial and error, but before long I was able to find the perfect consistency. Here's my review:
I don't like oranges and I don't like kale, so it's a good thing that they just cancel each other out. The acidity of the orange balances the bitterness of the kale and I don't taste either of them. The ice cubes combat the frothy tendency. The cottage cheese blends up nicely and adds more protein than yogurt would. Besides, I don't like yogurt and didn't want it in the house if this smoothie thing was a bust. The smoothie basically tastes like a strawberry-banana smoothie. You definitely have to get past the kale texture and color, but once you do, it's smooth sailing! Here's the nutrition information for my green smoothie. Not a bad deal to start your day with 14 g of protein, and more vitamin A or C than you'd need in 2 days!

Any of you jumped on the green smoothie band wagon? What are your thoughts?
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Monday, January 10, 2011


I'm working on an in depth post on goals, but until then, I wanted to share with you my 2011 wish list. While this may seem completely random, being the Dave Ramsey fan that I am, I am always spending money in my head at least 75 times before I spend it in real life.

Here's my wishlist for 2011.

I was going to come up with 10 items, but I just couldn't think of 3 more. I probably will think of them right after I hit publish! 

I already own this shirt in pink, black, and light gray. I'd really like it in white, but I'd seriously buy it in any color that they make! It's in the athletic section at Target, but I wear them all the time. They fit well, aren't too thin, and aren't too tight in the wrong places. I wear mine under sweaters, t-shirts, or dressed up with a necklace and cute shoes. For $12.99 you really can't go wrong!

After longing after and coveting nice cameras, I finally decided that an entry-level DSLR is in my future. As Jarrod and I prepare for a baby someday, I want to be able to capture every moment with a great camera. I'm pretty swift in photoshop, so it's a shame that we don't have one already. I've some some research and like the Nikon, but am open to other suggestions. (I've also checked out the Canon.)

Sleeping on a double bed is working fine for us right now, but I know the day will come where we'll need a larger bed. Our mattress is incredible old and was cheap 5 years ago. This bed matches our Hemnes 6 drawer dresser and looks great in person. I'd also love the Hemnes night stands as well.

Since we're already stocking up at Ikea, let's get another dresser while we're at it! The dresser we have is officially Jarrod's (but he does share a drawer or two with me!) and I'd love to get my own someday. This sweet and feminine dresser would not only provide me a place to put my folded clothes, but the smaller drawers next to the mirror would be perfect for jewelry. Our bedroom right now is too small/doesn't have enough wall space to accommodate this dresser, but you can bet it will be on my list once we move!

I have also recently decided that I need a bicycle. No, we don't have a garage or shed to store a bike, but I think it'd totally work hanging on our living room wall... I walk to work several days a week - for exercise - and would love to add biking to my list of skills. If I had a bike, I think I'd ride to and from work most days of the week. It's only 4 miles to work, which takes me an hour walking, but I could cut my commute incredibly, giving me even more sleep time! Like the camera, I have done a moderate amount of research, but an open to suggestions. I'd like a hybrid bike - one that can be good for street riding and also off-road terrain. I'd like a light bike so that I don't need to worry about the extra weight. 
I would love a mid-thigh length winter coat. Here in Louisiana it only gets into the 30s a few days a year, but it'd be nice to have a heavier jacket for the colder days. I have a nice coat from several years ago from the Gap that I still love, but it's Ivory and I'd love something in black, charcoal, or chocolate brown. 
7. Camelbak - Groove

You know I absolutely love my Camelbak Better Bottle. I'm on my third bottle and wouldn't buy anything else. It's awesome, doesn't leak, is PBA free, and comes in pink. This is Camelbak's newest bottle and has a built-in filter in the straw! I typically don't mind tap water, but when I'm traveling I tend to drink less water because of the tap water. Airports, gas stations, etc. don't provide the best drinking water. This bottle is awesome because it means I can drink filtered water from a tap anywhere! As a United Methodist, I am against the privatization of water sources and won't buy bottled water. This is a great way to continue drinking a gallon a day no matter where I am!


Some of these items will find a home with the Louisiana Johnstons this year. Any advice on what we should buy first? What are some of your favorites?

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Goals and plans for 2011

I'm not big on making New Year's Resolutions. Typically because I break them before Valentine's Day. Around this time each year I dream, vision, plan, and make goals for the coming year. Last year I put my mind towards getting in shape. I dropped about 15 pounds, increased my activity, and drink water like a fish. Jarrod and I made goals of one date night per month, less TV, more new recipes, making new friends, and paying off debt.

Some of the goals we achieved with incredible success - we paid off all but one debt, had some awesome and creative date nights, and made delicious food all year long. We didn't cut back on TV as much as I'd like, but we did become more conscious of when it is on. This year we have new goals and dreams for 2011.
  • Spend more time with family - being far from our friends and family in Dallas makes it challenging to see everyone we love more than once a year. Seeing our favorite children once a year simply doesn't work for me. Last year we went to Dallas 5 times, but they were all between the end of September and the end of December. This year I hope to spread them out some.
  • Love our jobs - we love our jobs and our church so much. We plan to continue loving what we do in 2011. 
  •  Expand our family - That's all I'm going to say about that right now. 
  • Continue doing what works - paying off debt, budgeting, eating dinner together at the table every night, praying together, and maintaining open communication. 
I'll post some pictures from our Christmas vacation soon. What are your goals for 2011? Do you make formal resolutions?
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Recap

Hello again, everyone! I am going to try to update more in the new year. In fact, I already have several blog ideas that I'm going to start writing soon.

We put our Christmas decorations up in mid-November. We set up our first tree together and hung 5 stockings on the mantle. We had a couple strands of lights that we put on the tree and around the deck outside. I carefully set up 4 nativity sets around the living room. I love setting them up every year and was excited to add a new set this year. Sadly, setting up our tree wasn't nearly as exciting. This is our second Christmas as a family, but only our first year setting up a tree. We lacked seriously in the ornament department. Thankfully, the season provided us many new decorations for our tree.

Here are some of our favorite ornaments of 2010.
A pink gift from my fellow walker, Renee!

This beautiful heart is hand painted from the inside. Thanks, Matthew and Peyton!

My sweet husband lives in Chuck Taylors. These were a perfect gift from my team captain and dear friend, Laurie!

This nativity was our gift at a church ornament exchange. We got so lunch with this handmade clay piece.

Clear glass ornament + pink feathers = colorful ornament!

This one is a little heavier than the feather version above. Both made by me with things around the house to bring a little more pink to our tree.

Cute pink Chucks like my custom ones!

These beautiful angels were a gift from another walker and dear friend, Laurie O. They were in sets of three, all gorgeous!

 We are excited about collecting many more ornaments over the years. We picked up some gorgeous silver decorations for next year. Someday we'll have a few trees - a pink one for me, a music one for Jarrod, and a colorful one for all of our sentimental ornaments. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. I'll share our goals for 2011 soon! Lots of exciting things going on with the Louisiana Johnstons!
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