Throwback Friday: Venice, Italy (2014)

“A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.” – Samuel Johnson

Editing images from a while back. Just wanted to share. Hope you all have an amazing Friday! ❤️





2019 So Far…

Every year, I do a mid-year overview of the places I've been and the things I've done. It helps keep me in-check and allows me to think back on how successful my year has been while also letting me see, yet again, all of the beautiful images I've edited. This year, I am also taking some time to look at my resolutions too. What is the point of resolutions if you don't at least attempt to keep them? (Though I've come to discover that my desires and what I deem as successes change as the year goes on. I'm not sure if that means I've changed as a person or if I've simply gotten tired of working toward my goals and find I need a break. Thoughts?)

So here it is, 2019 so far…

Berlin, Germany (January 2019)

January
We began 2019 in Sharm-El-Sheikh where the Hyatt Regency upgraded us to a suite! The staff was so excited that they had me excited about our upgrade! We rang in the new year at the airport but made sure we toasted with a hot cup of tea once we got to our hotel for the night.

Following Sharm-El-Sheikh, we found ourselves in Berlin where we explored the city with friends. One of my favorite things we did there was watch sunset from the top of the Berliner Dom; it was almost magical. (Though it would have been more magical if my camera card had not been full!)

Once we got home from our adventures abroad, we made the decision to pay off my Mazda 2014.

Georgia (1989)

February
The second month of the year had me digging through my past in search of myself. Granted cleaning out my parent's basement was on my 101 in 1001 list, but I had no idea what all I would find as I did so! After 4 weeks of working, I became mentally exhausted; I've been on break ever since. I do need to finish what I started, but I also need the mental capacity to do so.

San Luis Obispo, California (April 2018)

March
I took a different approach to 101 in 1001 by getting out of the house and ice skating in March. Doing so gave my husband and me a whole new hobby that we enjoyed doing together. We bought skates (used, for me) and a whole slew of items to care for them. Next up? Lessons. Or at least that's the plan anyway.

My husband also worked on setting me up with a Drobo and VPN so that I can edit images out of the house. Unfortunately, the network is rather slow only allowing me to download up to four images in an hour (which does not work when you are editing HDR and need three images!), but it is nice having the option to access my photos, no matter how slowly it runs.

Venice, Italy (May 2014)

April
The first week of April brought Easter and a mini-vacation. Justin and I took a long weekend in Miami, Florida sipping mojitos, enjoying Cuban food, and listening to Cuban music.

When we returned home, I began work on April A-Z. Dealing with a bout of depression, I approached April A-Z in a different way this year, editing one image a day and answering a few questions a day for the duration of the month. Sometimes it's helpful to just do a thing, even when you don't feel like it.

Miami, Florida (July 2018)

May
A friend of Justin's invited us to DC to tour the embassies in May. It was a lot of fun getting to see DC in a new way and it was helpful for me to have one-on-one time with friends. It had been a while.

Paris, France (May 2014)

June
As soon as summer hit, problems started arising. First, my dad went into the hospital for major surgery. Not too long after, my grandmother did as well. It was like we couldn't catch a break.

We ended up renting a family suite from the hospital my dad was staying in Athens, Georgia during that month just so that we could be close in case anything happened. While it was upsetting to be at the hospital, I did enjoy exploring all of my "old haunts" from my time in Athens at college.

Mustafa Mosque in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (January 2019)

July
With the conclusion of 101 in 1001 fastly approaching, Justin and I ventured off to California for a July 4th vacation. We spent a few days at the beach, some time in the desert, explored the mountains, and then returned to the city to celebrate the nation's birthday. All-in-all it was an amazing trip.

When we got back from our trip, I received an email about discounted French classes, so, of course, we had to sign up.

And to end the month on a good note, all of the weight I lost earlier in the year helped me fit into a dress just in time for my birthday! Even though I still had a black eye from falling on the ice rink weeks earlier, I felt like a princess.

Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest, California (July 2019)

August
At the beginning of August, Justin and I had one last summer hurrah as we explored the panhandle of Florida. We ate delicious cake at Modica Market, drank beer at Grayton Beer Co, and watched sunsets every night we were there. It was a truly phenomenal end to the summer season!


… But, How Am I Doing With My Resolutions? …


1. Finances – So-So.

+ We paid off the car, we've looked at refinancing student loans, and we are in the process of conquering our interest charges.

2. Blogging – Better.

+ I did start my goal of planning for April A-Z early even though I didn't use that material. (And, as it turns out, I lost a bunch of images due to a camera card failure, so my original goal may not have worked anyway.)
- I did not do much travel blogging. (Too stressed, too busy, lack of interest, distractions, difficult access to pictures…)
- Drobo and the VPN are set up, but they don't work as well as I hoped they would.
+ I have managed to participate in a twitter chat at least once a month for most months.

3. Travel – Meh.

- I had lofty plans. Only 1/3 has worked out. That's okay, I think.

4. Health – Also meh.

+ I am moving more – ice skating –, but I'm not really watching my calories like I should be. Guess I should get on that!
+ I've also lost about 10 pounds. Dresses have begun fitting again! Yay!
- But it took a bout of depression to get there.

5. Home – Better

- I started out the year cleaning and organizing, but I've fallen by the wayside. Maybe I will get better at it during the second half of the year.

6. Other – ?

+ I have managed to slow down and relax. I've been working on conquering my mental health. I have not been keeping up with my goals (practicing German, reading) or assuming the best in people. I really need to get better at that.
+ Decided to take French lessons, so that's cool (and slightly unexpected!).

…Going Forth…

1. I will carefully consider my budgeting strategies.
2. Continue participating in twitter chats and try to write travel-related blog posts.
3. Lay low on travel for the rest of the year. We are looking at New Orleans in October and Chicago in December, but it's hard to say if those will happen.
4. I will continue to work toward a happier mental state and choose to think more positively about my current position in life as well as how I feel about others.
5. At the very least, I should go through my closet… It would be great if everything had a home and I had an organization strategy.
6. Realize that everything will work out in the end. <3.

How are you feeling this year? Are you tired of meeting goals and deadlines? … Ready for a break? Or are you happy with where you are and feeling ready to take on the second half of 2019? Are you staying on top of your New Year resolutions?

September IWSG 2019


August Goals
Decide if I want to do 101 in 1001 again.
Work on Christmas present.
✗ Look at the budget.
Pay for car tags.

Additional Successes
• Asked off for October. Now to start planning NOLA!!
• Started French lessons.
• Figured out dates for 2020 summer travel.

September Goals
– WORK ON CHRISTMAS PRESENT! (It has to be completed by October.)
– Look at the budget. (Again.)
– Write an email to my employer.
– Work on NOLA trip.
– Go ice skating at least once. (I've been afraid since I fell.)

IWSG Question –– If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

I think it would be really beautiful and exciting to go to France (or anywhere really) and learn to cook and write about my life as an expat. Just get a small bungalow and write about my experiences. In French.

Of course, I think to do that I would need to be retired and have a substantial income.

And how many others have gone to France to write about being an expat and learning to cook? … Probably a bunch.

I still think it would be an absolute delight (and truly terrifying!) to explore the terrain and gain a skill I absolutely do not have.


Inspiration/Realization

To conquer my feelings of self-doubt, I logged into 7 Cups the other day to chat. I ended up being connected with a guy named Joe. My first thought was "he's such a guy". His responses were so matter-of-fact. In a beautiful way, he didn't have time for drama but he was patient and kind. And then he started flirting. Luckily, I'm married to a guy that isn't easily jealous, so I just went with it and had the best time.

As a person who writes, sometimes I deliberate on what I'm going to say far more than I ought. Sometimes words are just words. Sometimes it's better to just spit out what you want to say and not worry about how it is taken.

This is especially true with rough drafts, but I think it's occasionally true with people too. Just be your most real self. You can't hide who you are forever. (And if you are a writer, it's going to come through somehow! Even if your characters are nothing like you!)

Your Turn

Do you ever have a hard time putting your words/thoughts to paper/screen? What about speaking them? Can you say what you want to say the first time you are given the opportunity? Or do you over analyze every word and then find yourself struggling to get anywhere?

If you are someone that is amazing and charismatic and confident, do you have any suggestions for me?

Past IWSG posts: FebruaryMarchMayJuneJulyAug

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Monthly Financial Update: August 2019


In December, when reviewing my finances for 2018, I mentioned my desire to look at them on a monthly basis in 2019. Justin and I spent a little too much in 2018 and let our finances get the best of us. Maybe by looking at our finances monthly (and let you guys/gals keep me in check), we will do better this year.

That's the goal anyway.

Here's month #8:

Spending:


green = this year, yellow = last year

Last Year:
• We spent more on everything except…
• we spent less on uncategorized expenses. (And I don't even know what they were!)


dotted line = last month, green line = this month

Last Month:
• We spent more on everything except…
• We spent less on fees (yearly fee for Capital One Venture).


Where We Spent Our Money:

Top 10 Merchants:
1. Electricity
2. Anthropologie (2 dresses)
3. Starbucks
4. Embassy Suites
5. RaceTrac (gas)
6. Kroger
7. City Farmer's Market
8. Free People (2 dresses)
9. Amazon (2 books for French class, champagne flutes, headphones)
10. Destin Ice Market (wine, meat, bread)

Top 10 Categories:
1. Food & Dining
2. Auto & Transport
3. Shopping (clothes, books, headphones, champagne flutes)
4. Bills & Utilities
5. Travel (hotel, Lyft)
6. Life Insurance
7. Fees & Charges (balance transfer fee)
8. Uncategorized (No idea what these were! 🤨)

9. Personal Care

Budgeting:
Gas & Fuel – over
Groceries – under
✗ Restaurants – over
Hair Appointments – under
✗ Everything Else – over


Net Income:



Debt:

credit cards

student loans

How Did I Do On My Financial Goals for August?
✓- Get Chase Slate set up. (Set up, but not showing on Mint)
Continue to use the correct credit cards for gas and restaurants.
Quit eating out when we aren't hungry for a meal. It's bad for weight gain and for our wallet.
Spend less than we did in July on something (groceries, restaurants, or other). It doesn't matter what.
Return top to Belk.
Pay for car tags.
Look for a used wine fridge.
– Be careful with spending during our short Florida getaway.

Numbers:
* Loan Payoff Date 11/1/22
* Emergency Funds: $11,035
• 401K $43,021.41
• Credit Scores: 768 (Justin), 804, 807 (me)

Overview of the Biggest Impacts This Month:
1. Opened Chase Slate.
2. Bills increased.
3. Traveled to 30A. (gas, meals)
4. Buying clothes. 😬
5. Breaking all of the champagne flutes! 😳

What went wrong this month?
1. Bills increased again.
2. I probably bought too many clothes. But I love most of them. ❤️
3. Getting a break from work. But it was good for my mental health.
4. Gas was really expensive this month because we drove my husband's truck to Florida. (Trucks use a lot of gas. Also, traveling meant we spent extra on gas this month anyway.)
5. Breaking things and then needing to replace them. Always feels like an unnecessary expense. 😕

What went right this month?
1. Going to see movies for free! It was fun and a great way to get to know my co-worker!
2. We spent less on groceries this month than we did last month! Yay!
3. Credit score increased!
4. Got a check from Target for a data breach! And a few surprising opportunities to make extra money.
5. Being told in advance what book we would need for our French class and being able to order a used copy online.


Financial plans/goals for September?
1. Continue to reduce grocery spending. (We have lots of wine! We don't need anymore!)
2. Start purchasing gifts for Christmas.
3. Go low-key when purchasing birthday gifts this month. 😳
4. Aim to only spend around half (or, ideally, less) of our takehome pay.
5. Buy tires for my car.
6. Look at the budget and make adjustments. (Some are needed!)
7. Return dress to Free People, leggings and dress to Belk (if I'm not going to wear it).

September is looking to be quite expensive. There are so many birthdays! And my car needs tires. Can I ever catch a break?

On the upside, I feel like we did pretty good at accomplishing many of our August goals. Spending less? Win! I don't know if it's sustainable, but I hope we can continue that into September even with our extra expenses we know we have coming up.

How do you plan for months where you know extra money will be spent? Is your budget generally low enough that it doesn't matter and the extra expenses don't affect you? Or do those weird months throw you off for a bit? Anything I should think about before September hits?

Financial Resolution Goals 2019