2018 Goal Update

I love to take some time at the beginning of a new year to look back at the previous year. It’s always interesting and helpful to see what worked, what didn’t, and how I did on my goals.

In the past, I’ve felt frustrated and even embarrassed when I didn’t accomplish my goals, but this year I have a different attitude. Instead of looking at unmet goals as failures, I’m taking time to actually examine why they didn’t work out.

A look back at the year and a 2018 goal update.

So let’s see where I ended up with a 2018 goal review.

Personal Goals

1 | Lose 20lbs through exercise & intermittent fasting.

Final Result: By mid-year I was down 10lbs and feeling pretty good, but the fall was a busy season of transition and unfortunately I didn’t meet this goal. I’ve realized that I’m less concerned with the number on the scale and more focused on how I feel overall so I have different health goals for 2019.

2 | Create a weekly meal plan.

Final Result: This happened some weeks, but not every week. I haven’t found a consistent system, but when I plan our dinners for the week, my stress level is much lower. I’m rolling this 2018 goal over into 2019.

Home Goals

3 | Organize & decorate the master bedroom so it feels like a peaceful haven and not a cluttered catch-all.

Final Result: While I wouldn’t call this complete, we’ve made some strong progress. We have a few small tasks and our bedroom should feel even more restful than it already does.

4 | Declutter the entire house & develop systems to prevent clutter.

Final Result: I reduced the clutter in our house tremendously over the course of 2018. Every room was purged. I’m still working on putting systems in place that prevent clutter from reappearing.

Linen cabinet organization as part of my 2018 goal to declutter the whole house.
the linen cabinet got a much-needed refresh

Marriage Goals

5 | Go on a monthly date night.

Final Result: Success! We managed a night out every month, and we even spent a weekend away in Tahoe (we were with friends, but we had some good quality time sans kids).

Making monthly date nights a priority was a successful 2018 goal.

Family Goals

6 | Develop a chore system for the kids with the dual purpose of teaching responsibility and providing an opportunity to earn money.

Final Result: This one completely bombed. I had one month where I tried a money-earning method I’d read about and it was a major fail. One kid found it so overwhelming and stressful that I was forced to pull the plug mid-month. Needless to say, we still want our kids to learn to earn money, as well as share responsibility in the upkeep of our home so onward we go.

Business/Work Goals

7 | Launch a new business & work towards consistent income.

Final Result: While I did start a new content creation business, my effort to earn consistent income from it was derailed in the fall when I started working part time at my husband’s company. Yes, I was earning extra income, but the transition from full time stay-at-home-mom to part time working mom was much harder than I anticipated. Now that I have a better handle on my schedule, I have some big plans for 2019.

Reflecting on 2018

I’ll be honest: 2018 was a difficult year for me. During the summer, three of my closest friends moved across the country (along with their kids who were my son’s best buddies). In the fall, I went back to work part time, which was a good but challenging transition. And in December, after 8 years of living 10 minutes away from us, my parents moved back to Colorado.

2018 was also full of blessings and fun memories. We took an amazing family vacation to the beautiful island of Kauai. I took my kids to the County Fair for the first time. We spent the 4th of July at a local resort with family and enjoyed crazy good fireworks. We camped and played at the beach and opened our door for many gatherings with friends and family.

While I didn’t meet some of the goals I set, I also learned a lot about where I want to focus my time and energy. I’ve spent time thinking about what worked and what didn’t, as well as laying out goals for 2019. I’m starting the new year with excitement and anticipation, feeling ready for some new challenges.

What were your goals for 2018 and how did they turn out? Tell me in the comments!

Share with a friend:

The Ultimate Under $50 Gift Guide For Women

The holiday season is upon us, mamas! With just a few weeks until Christmas, I’m both excited and a little overwhelmed. This season can be crazy! So I’ve created this gift guide to provide some inspiration to help you find just the right gift for the important ladies in your life.

Everything you see here is UNDER $50 and all but a few items are available on Amazon Prime! Can I get an amen for free two-day shipping?! So here’s your ultimate holiday gift guide for her…

*I will receive a small commission when you purchase items using the links below. This comes at no extra cost to you and I only recommend items I would actually purchase myself.

Gifts for The Reader

Sweeter Still's 2018 Under $50 Holiday Gift Guide for Her

1 | Personal Library Kit – a fun little set for the reader who really likes to keep track of her books.

2 | Library Card Socks – these cute socks will bring back memories of a time before electronic checkout.

3 | Card Catalog Notecard Set – this set of 30 notecards looks like replicas of card catalog inserts from the Library of Congress. Just perfect for the friend who loves to send handwritten notes.

4 | Electric Tea Kettle – I don’t even like tea, and I would still be excited to receive this adorable kettle! It comes in a variety of fun patterns.

5 | Bicycle Bookends – every bookworm needs a way to keep her stash of books in order and these fun bookends add a decorative touch to any shelf.

6 | Reader’s Journal – Sometimes my brain is too full of mama stuff to remember all the books I’ve read. A simple journal is the perfect place to track the books you read and maybe even a brief summary.

7 | Bookish Candle – Wizardy Buttery Drink, Oxford Library, Bah Humbug, and more scents are found in the Frostbeard Etsy shop sure to delight any candle-loving bookworm.

8 | Book Bath Caddy – perfect for a relaxing soak in the tub with a good book. Don’t worry… it has a place to put your wine glass too 😉

9 | Beautiful Books – many readers don’t just love the stories, they appreciate the books themselves. Gift a special reader with a couple volumes from a beautifully-designed set.

10 | Cable knit Throw Blanket – who doesn’t need a cozy blanket to snuggle under while enjoying a winter evening?! I love that this one is lined with super soft sherpa to make it extra comfy.

Gifts for the COOK

Sweeter Still's 2018 Under $50 Holiday Gift Guide for Her

1 | Copper Measuring Spoons – these pretty spoons would make a lovely addition to any cook’s kitchen.

2 | Hand Blender – with both blade and whisk attachments, this handy tool (no pun intended) would make it a snap to blend up culinary creations.

3 | Salt & Pepper Grinders – electric grinders make seasoning a dish that much easier.

4 | Le Creuset Baking Dish – what chef doesn’t appreciate the quality of Le Creuset? For under $50 this square baking dish is sure to be a hit.

5 | French Press Coffee Maker – do you have a self-described coffee snob in your life? Treat her to this lovely French press so she can be her own barista.

6 | Marble Rolling Pin – not only nice looking, this marble pin is naturally non-stick, making it a great gift for a buddy who loves to bake.

7 | Pot with Strainer Lid – the built-in strainer in this pot’s lid makes cooking pasta a breeze. Plus the locking handles ensure your noodles don’t end up in the sink.

8 | Ceramic Mixing Bowls – this set of sturdy, ceramic bowls in classic white would work in any kitchen for prepping meals or serving.

9 | Cravings: Hungry for More cookbook – my love for Chrissy Teigen is mostly related to Comments by Celebs, but this cookbook is chock full of mouth watering recipes sure to please.

10 | Ipad/Cookbook Stand – this stand adapts to hold either a tablet or a cookbook for easy display in the kitchen. Its best feature are the arms that hold the pages in place (or keep your tablet from tipping).

Gifts for The Traveler

Sweeter Still's 2018 Under $50 Holiday Gift Guide for Her

1 | Blanket Scarf – a cozy scarf that doubles as a blanket during travel makes it an efficient yet chic item to pack.

2 | Stainless Steel Water Bottle – I love the marble design of this sturdy, reusable water bottle.

3 | Cozy Socks – perfect for a long plane ride or a chilly destination, these cozy socks will keep your tootsies toasty.

4 | Pacifica Hand Lotion – Indian Coconut Nectar is my favorite scent of this super hydrating lotion that’s perfect for parched skin after a day sitting in the dry air of a plane.

5 | Jewelry Organizer – there’s nothing like packing some fun jewelry only to open your suitcase and find a tangled mess. Save your fave traveler the hassle with this cute leather organizer.

6 | Eye Mask – this cute mask will help the frequent traveler catch some z’s on long flights.

7 | Travel Charger – not glamorous, but extremely useful, this travel charger will power up your phone or tablet on the go. My husband powers this up before camping so he can charge his phone if needed.

8 | Luggage Tags – these tags are a fun addition to any suitcase. Multiple options available.

9 | Carry-On Tote – this sturdy canvas tote is perfect for taking on the plane. It actually has a sleeve on the back that slides over the handle of a suitcase for easy transport.

10 | Ipad Case – a simple protective case keeps tablets safe during travel.

Gifts for the Outdoorsy Gal

Sweeter Still's 2018 Under $50 Holiday Gift Guide for Her

1 | Happy Camper Shirt – a little more stylish than your basic tee for your fave camping enthusiast.

2 | Pom Pom Hat – with a super soft  fleece lining, the outdoorsy girl will stay toasty even in cold temps.

3 | 40 oz Thermos – keeps liquids hot or cold for 24 hours so whether it’s coffee time or cocktail hour, campers are covered.

4 | Swiss Army Knife – if you’re going to get one of these handy little tools, be sure to get the one with the corkscrew obvi 😉

5 | Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook – give your adventurous buddy a giggle with over-the-top survival situations like “How to Jump from a Moving Car.” Also includes more relatable tips like “How to Escape from a Mountain Lion.”

6 | Enamelware Mug – these darling enamelware mugs are just right for coffee by the campfire.

7 | Camping Kettle – keep away the chill with this lightweight outdoor cooking kettle.

8 | Quilted Puffer Vest – this lightweight puffer vest is perfect for layering with its fitted profile.

9 | Picnic Basket – not every trip outdoors involves climbing mountains. Gift a nature lover this adorable picnic set for a relaxing afternoon in the fresh air.

10 | Woodsy Candle – this Maine Woods scent would be ideal for the nature lover who feels cooped up.

11 | Knit Gloves – not only will these cute gloves keep hands warm on a hike, but the touchscreen-friendly fingers make it easy to snap a photo at the summit.

I hope this gift guide is helpful! I know I’ll be purchasing at least a few of these items myself. Happy shopping, friends!

Looking for more holiday tips? Read how I started using our Elf on the Shelf to share the true meaning of Christmas with our littles. Or learn how to host a holiday meal without the stress!

Share with a friend:

How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal

Updated 11/5/18

The holiday season is my favorite time of year, but it can be really stressful if you’re hosting dinner. Getting all the food ready to serve while it’s still hot and making sure all your guests are comfortable while doing it… that’s a daunting task! Over the past several years of hosting holiday meals, I’ve learned a few tricks to make the process go more smoothly. I can serve a delicious meal AND enjoy myself!

6 steps to help you plan a stress-free holiday meal so you can actually enjoy your day.

1 | Plan your menu in advance

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a step I’ve glossed over in the past. Sure, I knew we were eating turkey for Thanksgiving, but I didn’t think through all the sides ahead of time. Instead of shopping sales or prepping food ahead of time, I was left doing everything at the last minute. Planning the menu for your holiday meal allows you to save money, time, and stress.

2 | Delegate responsibilities

Just because you’re the hostess, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Once you plan your menu, ask guests to bring side dishes that can be reheated before dinner. Desserts and appetizers are a great option if you really like to have control over the menu. I’m not super confident about making gravy so I always put my dad in charge of that task.

If you have a large group, be specific about what they should bring so you don’t end up with repeat dishes. It’s not hard (or unreasonable) to send an email asking guests to tell everyone what they plan to bring.

Give your kids cleaning duties. Even younger ones can help unload the dishwasher or run a vacuum before guests arrive. I’m not super confident about making gravy so I put my dad in charge of that task.

3 | Prepare food ahead of time

Many side dishes can be prepared ahead of time and reheated prior to dinner without affecting the quality. Potatoes, stuffing, rolls and desserts can all be made a couple days ahead.

Be sure to account for reheating time to ensure you have room in your oven. Vegetable sides should usually be made the day of, but you can still wash and cut your veggies earlier in the day.

4 | Make a timetable for day-of cooking

Write out your full menu, noting the oven temperature and cooking time needed for every dish. Figure out which items will fit in the oven and can be cooked at the same temperature.

Then, counting backwards from the time you plan to sit down to dinner, determine when each item needs to go in the oven. With this masterplan in hand, you won’t need to worry about dishes not being ready in time or sitting out until they’re cold.

5 | Set your table the day before

Iron your tablecloth and napkins. Lay out place settings and your table decor or centerpiece. Set up extra tables and chairs if necessary. By doing these tasks the day before, you’re freeing up your time on the big day for cooking and spending time with guests.

If you need to use your table the day before a gathering, delegate as many of  these tasks as possible to family members. You can find some beautiful inspiration for your Thanksgiving table decor HERE.

6 | Plan outfits & lay them out the night before

If your holiday gathering is completely casual, you can skip this step. If you have a more formal celebration to attend or certain outfits in mind for your family, save your time and sanity by laying out these items in advance.

Prepping ahead not only ensures that clothing is definitely clean and presentable, it also eliminates the time spent picking out clothes or debating choices with a child (not that this would ever happen in my house lol.)

What are your tips for a stress-free holiday meal?

Five tips for a stress-free holiday meal.
Share with a friend:

21 DIY Halloween Costumes

It’s hard to believe, but Halloween is right around the corner! Every year, I see so many unique DIY Halloween costumes, and a lot don’t require a ton of crafting or sewing skill. My 7yo son is in the superhero/Star Wars/ninja phase that lends itself best to store-bought costumes. My 10yo daughter likes to get a little more creative.

I thought it would be fun to pull together some of my favorite DIY costumes. Unbeknownst to me, my husband bought my son a Black Panther costume, but my daughter is definitely eyeing a few options on this list. Here are some of my fave DIY Halloween costumes this year…

Disco Ball

This is such a cute and fun option for the little one that likes to stand out.

Donut

I love that this simple costume is made with items found at the dollar store. Cheap and easy!

Statue of Liberty

If it’s down to the wire and you’re still in need of a costume, this would be a cinch to pull together (and would work for an adult too).

Skeleton

White duct tape makes for a simple DIY costume that can be removed later.

Pokemon – AsH Ketchum

Of all the Pokemon-related costumes, this is one of the simplest I’ve seen. Your kiddo can carry around a Pikachu stuffed animal and call it a day 🙂

Smiley Face/Emoji

This is darling and would be super easy to customize to your preferred emoji facial expression.

Slice of Pizza

A hot glue gun would make this pizza slice a cinch to put together. Your little one could even personalize it with their fave toppings!

Minions

I was really pushing for Despicable Me as a family costume idea this year, but I couldn’t get the kids on board. Maybe next year!

Crazy Cat Lady

This cute costume had us all cracking up. The giant rollers are a nice touch!

Wind Sock Man

I think this is such a creative (and easy to DIY) costume. We’ve all seen these guys thrashing around in front of the Jiffy Lube!

Octopus

If I was still in charge of my kid’s costumes, one of them would for sure be wearing this. So easy to put together and so dang cute!

Robot

Is this not the best robot costume?! Granted, it would take more work to make, but it’s so cool that it’s definitely worth a little extra time.

Han Solo

These next three costumes are for the little Star Wars fan in your life. I’m sure Han will be popular this year after the release of “Solo” this summer.

Rey

Star Wars definitely knows how to bring the female heroines into the action. Rey is a great character and this costume would be really easy to throw together last minute. There are even instructions for the staff.

BB-8

Who says droids are boys anyway?! This is a fun spin on BB-8. (Side note: I love her Disney princess skates.)

Minecraft (Creeper, Steve & Zombie)

The Minecraft fan will go crazy over these easy, yet accurate costumes. The biggest challenge would be getting the right sized boxes!

Vending Machine

I must say, this is one of my favorites. It’s just not your typical costume. They were really thinking outside the box (see what I did there #pun intended).

Troll (Princess Poppy)

Trolls is one of my absolute favorite kids’ movies, and this Troll hair is over the top in all the right ways! Obviously you could customize based on your personal Troll preference. The instructions are detailed and the supply list is minimal, both pluses in my book.

Lego Ninjago

I’m a big fan of this semi-homemade lego ninja costume. No need to kill yourself trying to make the lego head when they sell masks, but the rest is pretty impressive DIY. You could replicate this idea with a lot of lego figures (Lego Batman, Emmett, etc.)

Lumberjack

Other than the adorable beard and the axe, this is basically just normal clothes, which means your kiddo can wear them again. Maybe you don’t have suspenders just laying around, but they sell them in multiple colors at the party store. The beard definitely makes the costume though!

Lawn Gnome

I couldn’t find the source of this little get-up, but I wanted to include it because it’s so cute. FYI shorts and a white version of that lumberjack beard would make a great boy version. If your sewing skills are a little lacking, you can probably make it work with iron-on tape and a hot glue gun.

DIY Halloween costumes for kids.

source unknown

There you have it. Hopefully you’ve got some ideas for your own DIY Halloween costumes now! Which of these is your favorite??

DIY Halloween costumes for kids.

Share with a friend:

How to Simplify Meal Planning

How to simplify meal planning to make your day run more smoothly.

Confession: meal planning is not my strong suit. I know it would help my week go more smoothly, but I struggle with implementing this strategy. One of my goals this year is to improve in this area so I’m taking steps to simplify meal planning.

prep some Back-up freezer meals

To start, I want to have a few crockpot meals in the freezer for busy days. Even this takes some planning because most meals have to thaw beforehand.

If I look ahead at the week and see that Thursday is going to be busy, I’ll have to thaw a freezer meal on Wednesday to make dinner easier the next night.

I did some research on Pinterest for freezer meals and found Six Sisters’ Stuff. They have a great post for making 8 slow cooker freezer meals in one hour. I chose three of the eight meals to start: Black Bean Taco Soup, Hearty Beef Stew, and Cilantro Lime Chicken.

Meal planning takes the guesswork out of dinner, making your busy nights go more smoothly.

I labeled gallon Ziploc bags with each meal, today’s date, and the time each takes in the slow cooker. Then I just followed the instructions and dumped everything in. It took me about an hour to get everything ready for these three meals.

use a Menu Tracking Sheet

Each week, I can usually predict which nights I need to have a meal that’s either in the crockpot all day or very quick to prepare. Particularly when the kids have activities that end on the later side, I don’t want a dinner that takes a long time to prep or cook.

With a menu tracking sheet, you avoid the 5 o’clock panic that sets in when you don’t have a plan for dinner. You also know what needs to be done ahead of time, such as thawing a frozen meal to go in the crockpot.

There are a zillion menu planning sheets on Pinterest. I personally like a weekly option that also has space for a grocery list, such as this one from Finding Time to Fly. The grocery section is even broken down by category.

Simplify meal planning to make your week run more smoothly.

Keep a Favorite Meals List

If your family is anything like ours, I’m sure you make a lot of the same dinners over and over again. My kids are on the younger side (and one of them is picky) so it makes mealtime a lot more pleasant when everyone enjoys what we eat.

Sitting down to plan the weekly menu is a lot harder when you’re relying on your own memory to come up with options that everyone likes. To simplify the meal planning process, keep a list of family favorites handy so you aren’t trying to remember if you’ve ever eaten anything besides tacos.

Just these three simple strategies make meal planning less of a chore. By planning ahead, you’ll be less rushed, spend less money at the grocery store, and waste less food.

How do you make meal planning easier?

Need more organization tip and strategies?? Find all 14 Days of Organization here!

Share with a friend: