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In 2013, how stuck to my New Year's Resolutions

31 December 2013

I love the idea of setting goals especially when it comes to the rolling around of a new year. Conceptually, it is easy. I sit down and generate an exhaustive list of things that I'd like to stick to, accomplish or do to better my place in this crazy world. Last year I had 5 resolutions: one for my marriage, my relationship with God, my community, my health and one for personal finances. 

Then the hard part comes. You know....the part where you actually have to stick to those resolutions! A serious challenge in my view. In my experience over the last year, I've figured out a few tips and tricks to sticking to your resolutions! 

1. Write them down!!! 
Do you ever get to middle January and totally forget what you wanted your New Year's Resolutions to be? I can't stand that feeling of forgetting! So, on the first day of each month in 2013, I wrote an update on my New Year's Resolutions. I [and you dear blog readers] held me accountable by revisiting my goals. Write them on your bathroom mirror in cheap lipstick or set yourself a google calendar reminder on the first of each month to check in with your resolutions.

2. Include a buddy.
One of the more popular of "hints" is to share your goals with others. If you aim to go to the gym in 2014, get your husband to go with you or find another gym buddy. You won't want to let that person down if you set a schedule and you are more likely to stick to your goals. I heard an awesome quote once [that I'm about to slaughter] that says "Sharing stresses and hurts with trusted friends allows us to not carry it all on our own." Same idea with New Year's Resolutions. By sharing your goals with trusted friends, you don't have to go at it alone.

3. Do a 50/50 dreamer and realist split. 
Would you ever resolve to cure cancer if you had no scientific background? No. Well in the same way, make your goals reasonable and attainable otherwise you are sort of setting yourself for failure. Last year, in my financial resolution I started to do the 52 week money saving challenge that was EVERYWHERE on Pinterest and Facebook. At first, it seemed like a great idea. Each week the dollar amount that matched the week would be put away in savings (i.e. the first week is $1, the second $2). Then after 52 weeks, you'd have over $1,300!!! But...what I didn't think through was the amount of money that I could spare out of my personal savings was much less than the monthly total by the end of the third month. Thus, I couldn't do it. No matter how hard I tried. So I had to ditch that.

Be lofty with your resolutions but make sure you can actually achieve your goals you set forth. No one wants to feel like they quit or gave up. 

If you need someone to encourage you in your resolution making, please email me! I'd be happy to encourage you along in 2014!

A blended Christmas holiday

27 December 2013

I love Christmas!  But I’m also a family time and traditions junkie. In essence, those 48 hours of Christmas Eve through Christmas Day are my favorite time of the year!

I can’t help but reflect on how Christmas has changed in my short little lifetime as it morphs with the subtraction or addition of members to a family. My maternal grandparents always hosted the Christmas Eve feast. Traditional Sicilian seafood dishes [we don’t eat red meat on Christmas Eve] and Polish pierogi filled the house. Even for our little family of 9, people bustled in and out of rooms moving chairs and tables. Presents were stacked heavily under the tree. Family from all over town would make their way to grandma’s house on Christmas Eve. Under candlelight we would cram ourselves around her dining room table and rub elbows constantly as we cut our food. I loved it. It was all I ever knew. After a short blessing, which my grandpa would force me to say even as a child, we would dig in and go back for seconds. This was the type of meal my grandma has prepared weeks in advance and so too would those eating. We would stay a little extra hungry on Christmas Eve in anticipation to fill our bellies with the foods we only got once a year.

But the Christmas that I used to know has disappeared. My grandparents passed away, first grandma and then grandpa followed four years later. Then the other family members have gone on their own way. Family friends will sometimes join in but the core four remains the same: Mr. Collier and myself and my parents. I wonder if this is how my grandparents felt before they started hosting Christmas.

As a dating couple, Mr. Collier and I have a split Christmas spending Christmas Eve in Chicago and Christmas Day in Florida. That puts us in two states for about 48 hours per state. Talk about exhausting! We've done this for 4 solid years but this year…we are tried something revolutionary!

This year we were all in one place. Yup! The Colliers and the Parkers got together in Mr. Collier's home town for a combined Christmas holiday. And it was a blast! I love having my entire family under one roof. I'm even more excited that they like each other as much as they do! My parents drove in from Chicago on Christmas Eve and we've been playing cards and making new dishes out of left-overs ever since! 

How does Christmas compare now that you are married or have a significant other as compared to when you were growing up?

My favorite Christmas Ornament

23 December 2013

Nothing thrills me more than unpacking my Christmas ornaments. It's like seeing old friends again. One-by-one memories flood my mind. Especially when it comes to my Christmas bell.

The bell is from The Polar Express Hallmark collection. If you've seen the movie, you know how important the bell is. A few years ago, I received this ornament from my grandma. In fact, it was the last Christmas present that she gave me. 

It will forever be my favorite ornament to unwrap. And jingle.

In Sickness and In Health

20 December 2013

For the past week I've been functioning as the solo Collier as Mr. Collier had the crud...bad. It was a major cold that knocked him down and left him couch-bound for several days. Poor guy skipped work and everything. And that is saying a lot because Mr. Collier a) never gets sick and b) never skips work! Just plain miserable!

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Meaningful Marriage Study: The 5 Love Languages

16 December 2013

Hello sweet friends! Remember how through the month of October, Amberly @ Life with Amberly and Joe joined me in an awesome marriage-growing study of The Love Dare? Well, we are at it again to kick off the New Year.

So...why am I telling you about this now? Well, that is because I am inviting you to be a part of our virtual book club! Blogger or not, all are invited! And the more the merrier

Have you heard or read The 5 Love Languages before? Written by Dr. Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages decodes how you express and perceive love. This becomes important as the way we express love and the way our partner receives love might be way off, even though we mean well. We just need a translator! The 5 Love Languages is just that!

Start by finding your love language. 

Even though I've read The 5 Love Languages years ago when Mr. Collier and I first started dating, things have changed. My priorities have shifted and so I feel it might be time to dive back in. The challenge is to see if Mr. Collier might actually want to join me in the study. 

To begin, take the online assessment to discover your love language.

My Love Language(s)

The 30 preference choice assessment results revealed that I am a "Words of Affirmation" and "Gifts" person. The words of affirmation is not surprising as I'm always asking for Mr. Collier to tell me that I look pretty or to praise me. Wow. That is quite the embarrassing and truthful statement about myself right there. Congratulations, you just moved into the inner circle. 

My least was "Acts of Service" which is totally true!! I love when Mr. Collier is helpful around the house or does little projects but don't feel love by the laundry being done. Call me crazy but it just makes sense to me!

The Meaningful Marriage "The 5 Love Languages " Study Details

  • Pick up The 5 Love Languages or ask for it in your stocking!!! 
  • Begin to read it and be sure to complete it by January 31st.
  • Join the discussion on our Facebook group throughout January.
  • Link-up with Amberly and I on the 31st of January to share what we've learned.

What are your primary love languages? Were you surprised?

The Barre Bee Fit 12 Days of Christmas

13 December 2013

Hi friends. So you know I'm into healthy living and goal setting, right? Well, one of my friends in Chicago who also is a barre addict shared this little workout from her studio, Barre Bee Fit. Who is in?

Just like the song..."On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me....a one minute plank hold!!!" Each day you add the gift to the one before it! Follow the progress on #BBF12DaysXmas! And visit their Facebook Page to see a demo of the workout!

A Youth Christmas Party and The Ugliest Sweater

12 December 2013

Lets Get Bananas

'Twas the night before a youth Christmas party
and a ugly sweater needed to be acquired. 

So I pulled out a needle and thread
and sat by the fire. 
Hand stitched together the garland and fabric,
within two hours it came together like magic!

A living Christmas tree, you see is how I was dressed,
with ornaments and jingle bells it was certainly the best!  

Turns out adults couldn't win any competitions....bummerfest!! Otherwise we would have taken home the silver and the gold medals in awesome yet ugly sweater outfits.

Anyway, as I was in the Christmas spirit, I did some decorating around the house. 

Our tree Reynold is up with his pickle ornaments! [why our tree is named Reynold is an entirely different story to tell....]

And our stockings are hung by the chimney with care!!!

Have a Christmas decor post to share? Join in the link-up with Ashley, Jordon, Jessica & Allison.

Vegetarian Spinach Burgers

10 December 2013

Have you ever used Meal Train? MT is this awesome little online scheduler to coordinate meals for new babies, surgery, etc. You send the link to a group of friends and they sign up to bring meals. Simple as that! 

The other day, I signed up to bring our friends from church some food after the birth of their daughter [she is sooo cute!!!].  I was looking for a good recipe for this new family which didn't involve too many flavors and aligned with their diet preferences (no tomatoes, peanuts, sugar or pasta). Tough one.

After doing a little research, I decided to make these very simple and yummy spinach burgers. Not only do they fulfill the dietary restrictions as well as being cost effective, but I saved a few for myself to eat throughout the week!

  1. Saute spinach and diced onion in a skillet with coconut or olive oil.
  2. Place in KitchenAid blender. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Begin to mix while adding the cheese, breadcrumbs and eggs until a "mash" forms. 
  4. Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown both sides of the spinach patty. [after browning you have the option to finish cooking at 350 degrees F. for 5-10 minutes. 
  5. Blot off excess oil. Serve or freeze for later! 

Do you have a recipe to share or just some food post that you gushed over a dining experience out?? Join Ashley and Jessica for the #tasteoftuesday! 

BarreAmped Transformation Challenge Completed!

09 December 2013

The challenge:

Overall the challenge was fantastic! I found that the workout requirement of attending at least 3 classes per week was absolutely motivating. I started with 3 classes and then I added a 4th, a 5th and sometimes a 6th! It taught me that I can do a lot more than I think I am able to. Were my muscles sore? Absolutely! But was it worth it? Definitely!

The meal plan for the challenge took my goals of healthy living to a new level. And the amazing thing is that when I cut out processed foods (or as much as I could in my control) I was able to TASTE food. All these flavor profiles just appeared on my tongue one day. And I was like WHOA! I must also admit that it is incredibly liberating to not be under the control of sugar any longer. It was a real problem for me.

The results:

Ladies and gentlemen...May I present....the Transformation Challenge Results!!!

In total, I lost 4.75" in 12 weeks!

If you are searching for a fitness program to jump start your working out again (New Year's is coming!), I'd highly recommend the BarreAmped program. Suzanne Bowen, creator of BarreAmped just pre-released her BarreAmped DVD series. I jumped on that line like no one's business! 

Want to learn more about BarreAmped and the transformation challenge? Email me at

My Final 2013 New Year's Resolutions Report

06 December 2013

I am so pumped! Thank you blog readers out there. You made me stick to my guns and work on my New Year Resolutions all year long! And I'm a horrible finisher sometimes with my goals. You see, I've got a lot of ambition but I'm a dreamer which makes it incredibly difficult to commit to things long term. I seriously couldn't have done it without you!

So here we are at December....Check out my original New Year's Post as well as my JanuaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober and November updates.

Resolution 1:
What I aimed for:  I am going to continue my pursuit of a better me by increasing my exercise habits, reducing my sugar intake, cutting carbs and substituting tea for coffee after 8 a.m. I will be working on staying hydrated throughout the day keeping my tummy full and my system clean.

How it is going: I just finished the BarreAmped Transformation Challenge [yes!! another success of completing something I started!!]! I've been slightly out of touch with barre classes over the past four weeks due to my car accident, concussion and then travel for work/the holidays. I did manage to squeeze in some yoga yesterday at home and I think I am recovered enough to head back to the barre this week! AND Suzanne Bowen creator of the BarreAmped Method has a presale going on right now to bring BarreAmped to your living room on a brand new DVD set to release in January!

I'm hovering around 5 lbs down. I'm still making an effort to use the MyFitnessPal App to track my calories even though I'm clean eating. I read an article recently about Kate Hudson and her fitness tips.

check out her new fitness line Fabletics
Basically she was eating clean but failed to track her calories; she figured that she was eating all healthy stuff, should be good right? Nope! Just because the foods you consume are good for you doesn't mean that you have to skip on managing the intake!

Oooh! I totally forgot to share my latest purchase! I'm so excited to start juicing! My parents start their day with a fresh juice and I can honestly feel the difference without it!

It comes on Wednesday so if you have any good juice recipes, I'd love to hear them!

Resolution 2:
What I aimed for: I am going to reduce my frivolous spending on clothes, coffee, snacks and groceries while upping my personal savings.

How it is going: I am doing great in the lack of frivolous spending department! Having to make like a million grown-up decisions last month with the car accident, negotiating with insurance, buying a new to us used car and all the fun that comes with those things puts money management into a greater perspective.

Our pseudo-Dave Ramsey envelop method was a success! We had 40% of our cash budget for food and entertainment by the end of the month! That means, this month we bring our total back up with new cash and keep on spending wisely! 

Resolution 3:
What I aimed for: I aim to spend time with the Lord each day in prayer, Bible study and prayer journaling.

How it is going: Prayer is going well. I'm in the midst of some pretty serious career decisions so if you would be so kind as to lift Mr. Collier and myself up in prayer for wisdom and discernment, I'd appreciate it!

I'm also looking for a new devotional. If you have any suggestions or catch wind of any, please let me know. 

If you have any prayer requests that I can be praying for you, please email me Nothing means more to me than lifting you up! 


Resolution 4:
What I aimed for: I aim to spend one day per month volunteering in my community and giving my time to those around me.

How it is going: I'm still getting together with my middle school and high school friends. We had a messy blast with them playing paint TWISTER as our event this month! 

Resolution 5:
What I aimed for: I am to spend less time and say,"no," to every obligation and spend more quality time with my husband.

How it is going: The Meaningful Marriage Study of The Love Dare went very well and Amberly and I are excited to start a new book in January! Make sure you join us! 

Otherwise, things are going well as a one-car family. Going home and witness other marriages around us really makes me feel grateful for the life Mr. Collier and I have together. I'm glad those other marriage's problems aren't our problems. And it makes me feel so grateful for what I learned by reading The Love Dare . If you haven't checked it out, I dare you. 

Have you started thinking about your New Year's Resolutions for 2014? I can't wait to share what I have come up with!

Highlights from my trip to Chicago

04 December 2013

Whew! I just returned from an awesome time at home with my family! It was a great week leading up to the holiday, in fact, it was the first time I've been home sola since getting married! I thought I should share some of my favorite things that I did at home. 

Linking up with Ashley and Jessica for Taste of Tuesday!

Did you have a good holiday?