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2015-04-25 17.13.03

I know, I know, it’s been awfully quiet around here. What can I say … LIFE. I have a reminder set to write this in the middle of each month, but given how far off schedule I am considering moving it up to the beginning of the month. If I can be consistent at all. So here we go for May …

Watching: Movies and TV shows on the TV screen I finally broke down and bought in March. Yes, after literally years of watching movies and TV shows on my laptop or iPad I finally bought a TV screen. I also bought an Apple TV. Between that and my external hard drive I am overwhelmed by options.

Anticipating: Another winter in Lesotho by increasing my collection of things to keep me warm. Items recently acquired include new flannel sheets and a flannel duvet cover. The longer I live here the more of a wimp I become.

Listening/Reading: I just finished “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins, which I really enjoyed. Very well paced. Starting “Sugar” by Deirdre Riordan Hall that I bought through the Kindle First subscription on a recommendation from a friend.

Eating: Beef stew made in the crock pot. Winter is officially here.

Working On: Lots of exciting stuff at work these days. We just started a new program to increase the number of HIV-infected children who are identified and initiated on treatment. It’s the first big growth the Lesotho office has had basically since I got here. Will hopefully be starting another program in the next couple of months, too. It’s an exciting time to be here.

Loving: Being at home for a solid chunk of time. I spent a good part of February, March and April traveling. As of now my next trip isn’t until the end of the month when I’m planning a trip to Swaziland for the Bushfire music festival.

Playing: Nothing these days.

Screenshot 2015-02-23 14.22.28

Watching: The Fall – from the BBC. I finished the first season before my sisters came and started up the second season last night. I’m enjoying it, but would understand if others found it too intense.

Detoxing (instead of Anticipating, since I’m a week late posting this): From my weeklong vacation for #smithsiswk 2015. As you can see in the image above we covered a lot of ground in just 7 days. My sisters are smart, talented, funny, insightful and just all-around fun to be around. This was the first time we’ve done a trip just the three of us and now we plan to do it every other year, assuming baby-making plans go as anticipated (…my sisters’ plans that is. ;))

Listening/Reading: I’m working on two books right now: The Long Way Home by Louise Penny – another Inspector Gamache book and Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, which I’m listening to on audiobook.

Eating: Cheese and crackers with delicious wine I brought back from Stellenbosch.

Working On: Resolving a crisis at work that popped up while I was away. This year has already been overwhelmingly busy and is going to get even more so when we sign a contract for a new program at the end of the month (finger crossed); I don’t need bureaucratic crises.

Loving: That I’ll be attending my third Clarens Craft Beer Festival this weekend – even if the festival does mark the beginning of the end of summer.

Playing: Duolingo on my phone/iPad to work on my Spanish skills in anticipation of my trip to Mexico next month.

Watching: Two shows from the BBC – Season 5 of Downton Abbey (of course) and “The Game”. The Game reminds me a little of MI-5, which I enjoyed watching a few years ago. I blew through the 6 episodes in one weekend.

Anticipating: My sisters visiting in February! I’ve seen both of them in the last 3 months, but this time it will just be the three of us. Super stoked.

Listening: To the new album by Meghan Trainor “Title”. I’ve loved all her singles to date so went ahead and bought the whole album. Fun, trashy pop music just how I like it.

Eating: Gazpacho, one of my favourite summer recipes.

Working On: Getting into the groove this year. I feel like I’ve been off my game both personally and professionally since I came back from the US and now it’s already the middle of the month!

Loving: Lesotho in summer. I say this every month we have warm weather, but it’s true. This is the best time to be here.

Playing: Elevate, a brain training app that was recommended by iTunes as one of the best apps of 2014. I’m a sucker for “Best of” lists. Three short games each morning to get my brain going.

(PS – I almost titled this Currently – January 2014. To say I’m behind on the year in general is an understatement.)

2015-01-04 15.23.21 Back in June I learned about this fun app called “Collect” where you select a photo and write a few words and it creates a 3×4 card. I’ve been trying to do one everyday and have done reasonably well – missing maybe once a week on average. From time to time I had more than one photo so I made little collages using the Diptic app. So when I was ordering prints of my scrapbook pages I threw in copies of all the 3×4 cards. Those plus a 6×8 album with page protectors that fit 4 3×4 cards on each side and some Project Life cards = my inadvertent Project Life album. What I loved about my approach: 1) The simplicity of not having to decide what photo should be what size or orientation. They were all the same. 2) Not focusing on representing any given week or chronological period, other than to put the photos in chronologically. It was incredibly freeing. Every layout looked the same – three photos + one PL card – whether I missed none, or one or two photos in any given week. 3) That it gave me an outlet for those day-to-day photos that may not warrant a whole layout itself. 4) 6×8 is a very manageable size. The most difficult part was selecting what PL cards to go where and trying to place them somewhat at random. I could have left it at just the photos and cards, but I purchased this Project Life Value Pack designed by Heidi Swapp that came with some fun gold chipboard elements that I added to cards and photos throughout. Now that I’m 6 months in I figure I’ll finish out the year. I loved looking back at the glimpses of my day-to-day life and think this will become a treasured album in the future. After a year I’ll see if I’m still loving it and want to continue.

I get questions – especially around my birthday and the end of the year – about how my 17 Before 2017 list is coming along. The short answer is okay so far. Here’s a quick summary:

Progress This Year (2014)

  • Read more than 10,500 pages so far this year towards my goal of reading 90,000 pages. The last time I counted 55% of the time had passed and I had read 56% of my reading goal, so I’m on track.
  • Visited my sisters in their new locations – Copenhagen in July and Hong Kong in November – towards my goal of biennial sister trips.
  • Asked a man out on a date. Check. To see how this went see item #1 in the “Not Yet Accomplished” list below.
  • Set up a recurring payment to a favourite charity for the amount I spent monthly on pet food.

In Progress

  • Donate blood annually. I haven’t donated this year, yet.

Not Yet Accomplished

  • Fall in love (maybe a few times).
  • Try anti-aging cream for 6 months
  • Travel to Prince Edward Island

Previously Completed

  • Learn to scuba dive
  • Hike Kilimanjaro
  • Be Deputy Director of an organization managing public health programs
  • Work on a project that is not HIV/AIDS related
  • Run a 10k

Items I Want to Change

So there are three items on my list that just aren’t resonating with me right now. I’m not sure what to do about them, because I also don’t have ideas for what to replace them with. Here’s what I’m thinking about:

  • Attend a yoga retreat – it seemed like a good idea at the time. In hindsight I enjoy yoga, but not enough to practice regularly that would naturally lend towards attending a retreat. (I want to replace this with something appropriately “athletic” – maybe run a 5k every year and force myself to catch up from previous years?)
  • Knit a sweater I’ll actually wear. Really on the fence about this. I haven’t knit anything since I added it to my list. Of course I previously removed being on a scrapbooking creative team from my list and now I’ve been on one for the last 18 months. So maybe that should just count as my “crafty” item?
  • Have an impromptu conversation in Spanish. I love this idea in theory, have not been motivated enough to pull off in practice. I’m keeping it on the list for now and re-downloaded Duolingo on my phone. I am headed to Mexico in March for a wedding, so hopefully that will provide extra motivation.

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE Christmas songs. I can’t even explain why. So when I saw A Great Big World released a cover it made my year:

I’ve a little obsessed with Meghan Trainor since she released “All About That Bass” and thought this was a nice addition to my Holiday music collection:

This another ALL TIME FAVORITE Christmas song, and sung by one of my favorite artists from the last year, Sam Smith. Gorgeous.:

I love the whole album released by Idina Menzel and while this isn’t actually my favorite song, the video is cute:

and, finally, of course I love the newest Christmas album by Pentatonix. Seriously, you should go check out all the videos on their YouTube channel, but this song is the one that’s been going through my head the most:

 

Watching: Christmas movies! My faves are Arthur’s Christmas, Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Love Actually and Christmas Story.

Anticipating: My trip to Utah for the holidays. It’s a complicated story, but I didn’t book my flights home until last Friday. Once I did I immediately knew I made the right decision about where to go. I am planning on watching lots of movies, crafting with my mom and sister, eating lots of delicious treats and just generally enjoying being at home.

Listening/Reading: Christmas music, of course! I’ve added albums by Pentatonix and Idina Menzel plus singles by A Great Big World and Meghan Trainor to my collection. I’ll do a follow-up “All YouTube” entry of my favorite songs.

Eating: Christmas treats! Okay, that’s not actually true, although I am baking sugar cookies with my friend Kim tonight. Outside of the random baking event tonight I really am just trying to use up the food around my house before I leave.

Working On: Wrapping things up at work. It’s almost eerily quiet in my office this week, which should be a good time for getting things done but I’m not finding that to be the case.

Loving: That tomorrow night I’ll be hosting my 3rd annual Christmas sing along. Yay for Christmas traditions!

Playing: Monument Valley. I’m a sucker for “best app” end of year awards and this was at the top of the list for iTunes. I played through all 18 levels in about 24 hours (thanks to a sick day) and am playing through again. Puzzle games like this are usually too hard for me, but I found this very intuitive. Plus the graphics are gorgeous.

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