With January here, it’s time for my yearly Goodreads Reading Challenge check-in.
Last year I hoped to tackle 30 books throughout the year, and I was quite surprised to see I strongly surpassed my goal by reading a total of 43 books! Woohoo!
Let’s take a closer look at what I read.
As usual, it was another year full of books about magical universes, witches, queens, and British period pieces about romance.
I decided to give some classics a try this year too, reading Little Women and the books in its series, and I have to say, I didn’t get the appeal. The books weren’t that captivating to me, and it almost felt like a chore to finish them. I’m still intrigued to check out the recent movie adaptation of Little Women that came out over the past couple of years to see if that’s more captivating.
One of my favorite books included Deep Blue, a book that kicks off a series focusing around mermaids and the sea. Some of the visuals in the book were just simply stunning, and made me feel like I was right there in the reeds with pearls and cute fish circling around.
If you’re interested in YA Fiction, How to Hang a Witch was a great and easy read that I couldn’t put down. A fun read if you’re planning a trip to Salem, Massachusetts too.
For my 2023 Goodreads Challenge, I’m aiming for 33 books. Just a few days ago was my 33rd birthday, and it seemed like a fitting number to try and strive for. I’ve already got one book under my belt, and I’m in the middle of a second book that was gifted to me for Christmas.
Over the past month and a half I’ve been on a journey with my skin. As a natural redhead, my skin coloring is pale, and the sun loves to burn me until I resemble a little lobster. I’ve seen some posts on TikTok and even some stories in the news about skin cancer scares and that it’s always a good idea to get frequent skin checks. It seemed like a sign from the universe to finally get myself checked out.
I was a little nervous for my first skin check because I read that if they find something suspicious or concerning that they’ll take a sample right then and there. I’ve never been a fan of going to doctors or the prospect of any sort of procedure due to fear of needles, pain, and surgery. However, with Covid-19, my fear of shots has basically been healed, although I prefer to not look or see the needle.
During my visit, they did a thorough check of my whole body. There was a mole on my back that I’ve pretty much had my whole life, or as long as I can remember. Yea, it was a little sketchy looking and definitely had some characteristics you’re supposed to look out for, but I never thought much about it. It’s also hard to see your own back! Of course when the dermatologist saw that, she said that it needed to go. What she really meant at that phase was that a sample needed to be taken.
Before I knew it, they were using a pretty painful shot of anesthesia in my back and getting to work. While I could feel movement of them “shaving” a piece of the mole off, there wasn’t pain associated with it, which was good! The shot, as the assistant in the room warned me, was definitely the worst part. Not sure why it hurts so bad, but it’s not as painless as a Covid shot.
Ten days later I got my results, and while I didn’t have cancer, the cells were extremely dysplastic (or unusual) and something they needed to take care of right away, or it could lead to cancer. Within 2 more weeks I was back in the office, this time laying on my belly to have my mole cut out of me. I was quite nervous this time because the dermatologist, when she called to give me results, told me it was more invasive and would require two layers of stitches. I’ve never had stitches! After 2-3 shots of anesthesia (go redheads!), which were painful again, the procedure began. The doctor and her assistant kept talking to me the whole time to keep me relaxed and to make me comfortable, which was great. When it was time for the stitches I could feel the strings rolling around on my back, but thankfully didn’t feel any pulling or needles going in and out of me. Overall, the procedure was a lot less scary than I anticipated, and I was quite proud of my bravery. Brian took me out to lunch afterwards, and we took the day off to relax.
I recently got the results back and the stitches out. All clear! I’ll now be going for annual skin checks, and recommend you do too! These visits should be covered by your insurance and are important for everyone, regardless of age or skin color. I’m glad I went and got checked out. If I can do it, you’ll be just fine!
I’m not much of a cook, and I grew up in a household where family dinner time wasn’t really a thing, and the fanciest we got on a weekday might have been a bowl of pasta and sauce. My family also doesn’t conform to stereotypical or old fashion gender roles, so it wasn’t like my mom was expected to cook, and some of my more favorite meals were often created by my father.
Today, I’m in my 30s and in a modern millennial relationship where no one is expected to be the chef of the household, and we often do our own thing on our own time for dinner due to work or workout schedules. However, I’ve been wanting to branch out a bit and have a few more meals that aren’t packaged up frozen dinners. We’ve been meaning to try another meal service and I just so happened to come across one on Facebook of all places that looked decent, and when I checked the menu, there was actually several options that both of us would enjoy, so I took a chance on a company called RealEats.
It’s a subscription service, but you can skip weeks or put it on hold, so you can avoid being charged week over week, which is great for testing them out on the first week. I placed my order mid/late last week and it arrived today.
For our first testing of RealEats, I went with the 6 meals options, figuring that would give us 3 nights of meals this week, and then we’d do our usual pizza night and friday night takeout adventures. There was a promo so we got 40% off but it looks like the regular price would be around $80 for this regularly, which is a bit pricey, but not too terrible since it would sustain us for most of the work week. I should note there were options for less meals, and more, plus you could buy individual items instead of a whole packed meal.
Tonight we gave it a try. I had the Grilled BBQ Chicken, which comes with Spring Veg Medley, and Fork Mashed Potatoes. Brian had the Simply Cooked Chicken with Green Beans in a Spring Pesto and Herb Roasted Baby Potatoes.
Prep and cooking was super easy. Just boil a big pot of water, place the meat, in this evening’s case it was chicken, into the pot for 6 minutes, and the sides for 3 minutes.
I found after my first 3 minutes were up and it was time to put in the sides in, that the water stopped boiling a bit, so I was worried that the cook time may be off. To be safe we each cooked our meals for 7 minutes total, not the recommended 6. For the sake of this review, we’ll just focus on my meal, but it’s safe to say Brian approved of his since he cleaned his whole plate.
After the 7 minutes were up, I grabbed the bags with my tongs, put them on a cutting board and took scissors to open them up. The chicken was the first thing I opened, and the sauce went everywhere, including my white sweater. Yes, there was probably some user error, but the sauce was very thin and liquidy, so I don’t know how much I could have avoided making a mess of at least the plate without draining it in the sink first.
Exhibit A, my plate of beauty. You can tell I’m just an average, non-experienced person in the kitchen based on my plating skills 🙂
The sides were fairly easy to get out, but the mashed potatoes were a little bit of a pain since the bag was hot and I had to squeeze the bag like a tube of toothpaste to get it all out.
Now it was time to eat!
I love mashed potatoes so I was excited for them, but unfortunately I found the temperature to be too cold, so I ended up microwaving my whole plate for a few seconds to try and heat them up. I probably should have done it for a bit longer since they were luke warm when I went to eat again, but at least they had good flavor.
Based on the temperature of the potatoes and Brian’s plate of veggies too, I’d recommend putting the sides in for a bit longer than the recommended 3 minutes. I might be as bold to say in the future I’d cook mine for 5-6 minutes total, but I really like my food to all be really hot. I haven’t tested this yet, but that’ll be my plan next time.
I don’t really like many green veggies, but I tried some of the green beans, and they weren’t terrible. One reason I wanted to try this service was to try and expand my pallet and try new things in the comfort of my own home as a picky eater.
The chicken breast itself was nicely cooked, very easy to cut and it was nice and juicy. The sauce however was a bit strong for my liking. It was a bit more spicy than I anticipated. I didn’t hate it, but I’m not too into spicy food so the amount of sauce was a little strong for me.
I’d say for people who don’t cook and rely on the microwave for quick meals or just throw a pizza in the oven, that this was one of our fancier eating at home adventures. We eat simple things, so this was very adult feeling for me at least.
I’m looking forward to trying some of the other meals we got. There’s another chicken dish or two, and two pasta and meatballs. We’ll have to see how the rest of this week’s dinners play out! Hopefully I’ll stay a little cleaner this time around.
If you want to join me in this meal adventure but in the comfort of your own kitchen, give my code a click for 50% off.
With just a few hours left until the year is complete, it’s time to look back at one of my favorite things, my Goodreads yearly reading challenge!
My goal for this year was to read 30 books. I try to read a little bit every night as part of my evening ritual. Reading helps me escape the stresses of my everyday life, and hop into a different world.
Let’s take a look at the stats!
With 2021 being another Covid filled year, travel didn’t happen, and weekends weren’t busy, so I was able to smash my goal and read 10 more books than I had hoped, closing the year at 40 books read.
Some of favorite books from this year include: The Ex Hex Sixteen Scandals Nature of Witches
Time to prep for 2022! I already have a stockpile of books to tackle in the coming days, thanks to a sale at my local library where I was able to fill a bag for only $5.
For this coming year, I’ll probably stick to 30 as my goal. It’s a fairly safe number that I think I can achieve, but who knows what 2022 has in store for all of us.
Today, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, I donated some of my hair for those in need. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I hadn’t had a hair cut in well over a year and a half, so I’ve been meaning to get it cut. The questions that came to mind were where should I donate, and is my hair long enough for their requirements.
After doing some research I was surprised to see the “big names” we all hear about when it comes to hair donations didn’t have the best reputation, and actually charged people for the wigs, which didn’t sit well with me. Eventually, I found a non-profit that gave wigs to children who were suffering from hair loss, and that they could receive a wig at no cost to them or their family. That charity is Children With Hair Loss. I also liked that they would take donations as small at 8 inches, as well as previously dyed hair or even grey hair. I found their inclusiveness to be really attractive.
As a redhead, our hair color is really special to us and hard to find in the wild, so I wanted to donate at least once in my life to help a fellow redhead have their special color back. I imagine red hair donations to be far and few inbetween so I wanted to support my fellow gingers out there in this small step.
I hope you’ll consider donating your hair one day if you have the opportunity. You could make someone’s day a little brighter.
Here’s my before:
And here’s me 10 inches shorter.
Pandemic hair no more!
Time to package up my ponytails and send my donation out the door! So happy I could finally donate.