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#NoSpendNovember Challenge

#nospendnovember challenge

#NoSpendNovember Challenge

Why am I doing this?

Because I’m a glutton for punishment.

I’m just kidding – sort of.

Looking forward to the holidays, I always end up feeling a bit overwhelmed. There is so much do to, bake, see, and BUY. Between gifts, baking extra goodies, sending out holiday cards, parties, buying an extra pair of gloves (I lose mine all the time), and all the extra coffees while I’m out shopping, it adds up. There is also so much pressure to “keep up” with everyone else during the holidays.

I doubt I’m alone in this. Many of us feel financial fatigue come January, which is a terrible way to start off the new year. This year, I’m trying to cut out at least some of the holiday spending – especially in November. I find that if I only give myself a short window to holiday shop, I can’t go overboard.

What are the ground rules?

While it would be ideal to go fully no-waste, 100% no-spending this month, that’s not realistic for me. I need to eat, after all! So instead of saying “don’t spend any money at all,” I’ve set some ground rules for myself this month:

Stay off of my Amazon account

Amazon is the devil for impulse spending. It’s so easy to go on there to order more moisturizer, and end up with a $100 order of god-only-knows-what. I have to use Amazon for my job, but I’m determined not to log into my actual account, so it’s less tempting to shop while I should be working.

Unsubscribe From Marketing Emails

Another project I have set for this month is to clear out my inboxes of marketing-heavy emails. I’ve signed up for way too many newsletters and product affiliate email chains over the past year. Now my inbox is flooded with ads, coupons, and other super-tempting marketing messages. Instead of hopping on Nasty Gal to dream of clothes I’m 10 years too old to pull off, I gotta hit the unsubscribe button.

no Beauty-Related Purchases

You have enough of that shit, Heather. Use what you’ve got.

I know I’m not alone in this one, either. I don’t need a dozen different lipsticks – I barely wear it anyway. So for this month, I’m determined to use what I have and hopefully fall back in love with some old favorites. I also got some new samples this month to try out, and I’ll save those for days when I’m dying to go to Ulta!

Do More DIY Projects

I have a few sitting around the house I haven’t started yet. Instead of shopping online for the perfect pair of loafers, I plan to spend the month on getting things done around the house. This should be easy to pull off without spending any extra!

Sell Some of Your Shit

I signed up with ThredUp recently, and hope to donate/sell some of my summer clothes I didn’t wear this year. My hope is to use that money to update my winter wardrobe without spending a dime this month!

There are exceptions

There is no way I can survive November without spending any money. So to make things more manageable and realistic, I’m allowing myself a few exceptions:

  • One day each week, I get to have a coffee at my local cafe during my “work out of the house day.” Working at home every day is not good for my sanity, so I consider this a “work necessity.”
  • Limit “extra” grocery trips to once a week. Instead of going every other day for extra ingredients for dinner or whatever, I need to plan better so I don’t have to do this.
  • Black Friday / Cyber Monday is going to be a “cheat day” for me. I do plan to get a holiday gift list ready to go, so all I have to do is pop online and buy whatever I need to. No extra spending on myself – only for others!

What are my goals for #NoSpendNovember?

Taking on a no-spending challenge sounds daunting for me, but I hope it’ll feel worth it at the end! There are a few things I’m hoping to take away from this experience:

More Money at the end of the month (duh)

Of course, the idea behind this is to have a little extra money at the end of the month that I can put towards bills, holiday stuff, or just to toss in my savings account and leave it be. The idea is to be able to enjoy the holidays without worrying about my bank account so much.

Combatting boredom spending

Yeah…I go shopping when I’m bored. Sue me. This month I’m hoping to break the cycle of going out shopping when I’m bored or need a break. Working from home is great, but sometimes being cooped up at home for too long drives me nuts. So for this month, I will try to find no-cost alternatives to shopping when I’m dying for something to do. Look out for a post on that soon!

Make use of what I already have

I’m super guilty of wanting to buy things instead of looking to see if I already have them. Do I need another throw blanket? Candles? Another pretty notebook? No…I have plenty of that shit. I also have things in my closet that I don’t wear because I need to fix them, home decor projects I just need to get done, and more bottles of shampoo than is reasonable. Instead of going through a de-cluttering rampage in January, I want to use up what I have so there is less to deal with in the first place.

Whew! That’s a lot to take in for the coming month!

Come back here every Monday this month for some #NoSpendNovember challenge ideas! I’ll also be sharing my ideas on Instagram (check out for the hashtag #NoSpendNovember!)

My 2017 Mantra: Good Enough is Good Enough

My 2017 Mantra

I know, it’s already March and I’m just getting around to writing a post about my 2017 goals. Sue me!

Every year, I choose a mantra or quote to live by, rather than a resolution. Instead of a checklist of lofty goals I’ll never meet, I find it more productive to devote each year to improving one big thing. This year, I’m tackling my problems with perfectionism.

My 2017 mantra:

“Good enough is good enough.”

I chose this because I need a break. I want to focus on self-care and letting myself off the hook more often. It’s hard for me sometimes to stop picking on myself and say “fuck it, that’s good enough.”

Only a couple months in, I find it freeing to give up on perfection and decision paralysis. Reminding myself that “good enough is good enough” relaxes me when I stress over something stupid. I get caught up with little things, and I need an easy way to snap out of it. So far, this seems to work.

I am also giving myself a break in one major area of life: cooking. Sure, I’m relatively good at cooking and baking…but I don’t really love doing it. You wouldn’t know that, though, given how much time and energy I devote to meal planning, prepping, cooking, and pouring over recipe books or magazines for new recipes. So this year, I am scaling things back. I am sticking to recipes I know well, spending less time planning, and avoiding new cookbooks or magazines. Variety may be the spice of life, but I’m going to let restaurants bear the burden of introducing us to new things. I want to spend 2017 doing more of what I love, and less of what I don’t. If that means our meals are repetitive or boring, then so be it.

The only other goal I gave myself is to read 50 books this year. This is less of a challenge and more of a reminder to take time for myself each day. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures, but I’ve gotten out of practice over the years for several reasons I should probably share with a therapist and not the general public. 😉

Check back tomorrow to see what I’ve been reading!

First Day of Fall

first day of fall

(#TBT to some amazing fall hiking from last year!)

It’s finally the first day of fall!

While it has felt like fall around here for a couple weeks now, I’m so glad it’s officially here. Now I won’t feel bad about adding pumpkin spice to my coffee, oatmeal, bread – just about everything!

Summer was great, but around here it was just too hot to enjoy. I love being outdoors, and fall is the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy some amazing weather. Even the rain is something I welcome happily. It’s the perfect excuse to curl up under a blanket and read a book…or take a nap. I can’t wait to spend more time hiking, working, and generally being productive instead of hiding from the heat.

Fall also signifies the start of a new school year for most people. Even though I’m not a student or teacher anymore, I always considered fall the time of new beginnings. So to ring in the fall, I plan to sit down and carefully make plans and goals to round out the rest of the year. There are so many things I wanted to get done this year that I didn’t get around to, and many more I haven’t started yet. Just because the year is coming to a close doesn’t mean we can’t get shit done, right?

So to all of you like me to consider fall to be their favorite season, get out there and enjoy the changing leaves, damp air, and maybe even a latte or two. Hell, if I remember I’ll even show you how I make my own PSL – they’re easy and oh so tasty!

How do you plan to spend your fall this year? Do you have any traditions you take part in, or favorite foods you like to make? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary!

Today is Afternoon Glow’s 1 year blogiversary! I almost forgot about it completely, to be honest. I’ve been so busy lately with job hunting, blog planning, and doing about a zillion loads of laundry (does it ever end?). To celebrate the occasion, I’m sitting in my new favorite coffee shop and reflecting on the past year.

The blog started out as a space for me to share everything going on with my life. It’s included posts about cooking, home decor, beauty, hiking, and the occasional “reflective rant.” I worked with amazing brands, was featured on a few different sites, and made connections with people that will hopefully stick around for years to come. I had insanely inspiring runs mixed with weeks  of silence. There are things on here that I’m proud of, and some that I’m not. While I sit here and look back on it all, though, I’m more proud than not!

I’m looking forward to sitting down soon and narrowing down the blog’s focus, and figuring out what I want to accomplish (besides free stuff…though I’d hardly turn it down). I am inspired by my usual online haunts, and some of the amazing things they’re doing in the online and offline lives – and I want to join in the fun! This next year on Afternoon Glow is going to be a big one…I can feel it.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and a safe and amazing 4th of July! I don’t have any plans yet, but I’m sure it’ll involve a trip to the beach for some fireworks!

 

A New Year…and I’m already behind

A_New_Year_2016

(A new planner for a new year. Thanks to Profresh Style for the inspiration!)

I might be the last blogger to get on board with 2016. After ringing in the new year with family, I feel like I’ve been trying to catch up on sleep ever since – and I’m failing woefully! If I could have one decent night’s sleep, I’d be in heaven right now!

I decided to take the first week of the year to think hard about what I wanted to accomplish in 2016. I’ve tried resolutions in the past, and never live up to them (except that one year in college when I gave up soda). I’ve also tried a quote or mantra, but I rarely live up to those too – and even if I do, it’s due to coincidence more than intention. So for 2016, I’m trying something new:

I’m not doing any of it this year.

No goals, resolutions, declarations, mantras, or laundry lists of things to do – I can’t do it this year. I think after having such a rough 2015, I’m ready for whatever 2016 brings. My life is still very much in flux, and it doesn’t seem right to start setting goals for a future that is still uncertain. I’m still trying to find a job, trying to blog on a regular basis, and we’re moving in a couple months – and these things will impact where things go in the coming year.

The blog is one thing that I’m hoping to work on in the next year. While I learned a ton by blogging 5x/week about a wide variety of topics, I find myself burnt out from it. Creating quality content is a lot more work than I ever imagined, and I worry this blog will turn into a carbon-copy of everything else I read. How many posts about holiday cookies or Target hauls does one really need, honestly? So for the near future, I have to think about where I want the blog to head in the next year.

Sigh…more to think about, right?

2015 Year in Review

2015 Year in Review

Meal Planning 101 / Summer Nail Polish / Sweat List / Home Office Makeover

I thought it would be nice to end the year looking back at some of my favorite posts from 2015!

While this blog has only been around for 6 months, it has been a busy second half of the year. 85 posts in, and I still feel like I’m finding my legs. After looking back at this blog and my old one, I’m starting to figure out what I need to do in 2016. Here are just a few goals I have set for the coming year:

Add more personal style and home-related posts

I realized my “Style” section was mainly just beauty product reviews. I’m not great at taking photos of myself, so I will work to get better at that in 2016. I also didn’t get to do many home projects this year (thanks to having no budget), so I want to do more of those next year too.

Choose a visual style I actually like and stick with it

I’ve come a long way with my photography skills over the past year (thanks to a new camera), but I really want to start toying with a more consistent visual style. Right now, I mainly do clear, mildly saturated photos – which are great, but not the “look” I want the blog to have.

I also want to nail down the look of the blog, rather than using a standard theme – but that may be a while down the road. I learned a ton in graduate school about creating style guides and all that…and it’s time I put all that to good use.

Interact more with the blogging community

I’ve enjoyed getting to know people through blogging, and interacting with many of you who comment on the blog, but I can do more. I want to start meeting people who blog (particularly in the Seattle area), and find more ways to broaden my circle of internet friends! I also want to do more work with brands, and getting myself out there will definitely help me with that!

Get on a better schedule

I’m writing this the night before it’s posted, which is not smart. I’ve toyed with different schedules in the past, and I need to find one that actually works. I don’t know if this means I’ll post every day, every other day, or whenever I feel like it. I’ve abandoned a lot of posts over the last 6 months because I just couldn’t get them done, or by the time I sat down to write, they didn’t interest me anymore. I want to make sure I’m writing about things I enjoy, even if that means taking Afternoon Glow down to a few posts each week.

So, for the rest of the year, I’ll be sharing with you my favorite posts from my Food, Home, Life, and Style sections – as well as where I want each section to head in the coming year!

Well, I’m off to make some truffles and get things finalized for the holidays! Have a great rest of the year, and I’ll see you back here with amazing new content in 2016!

Prepping 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

IMG_0662

It seems early to be talking about this, but the new year will be here in only 11 days!

New Year’s resolutions seem to be a tradition as old as time. Every year, we commit to spending the next 365 days improving our minds, bodies, finances, health, and organizational skills – and every year, millions of us barely make it through the month before quitting.

I’ve been the person to make bold declarations and watch them fizzle out, and I’ve also had resolutions that I stuck to for the entire year (and often far beyond that). Since I’m one of the few who has had success with yearly resolutions in the past, I thought I’d share some advice on how to make 2016 your most successful year yet!

Prepping 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

One: Start thinking early!

Even though you have plenty of time left to declare your 2016 resolutions, don’t put it off until the last minute! You have a better chance of being successful if you choose a goal carefully.

Make a list of ideas, then really take time to think about each one before choosing the right resolution. How easy are they to pull off? Are they year-long goals, or something you can do in a month? What will you need to be successful?

Two: Try several smaller goals rather than one big one!

Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose [insert insane amount of weight here],” consider breaking it down into smaller, monthly goals instead. That way, instead of feeling defeated after a month of only losing a pound, you can celebrate actually finishing something!

As an example, here are some smaller goals that will be much easier to achieve – and will help you stay healthy throughout the year:

  • Do 30 minutes of exercise every day for a month
  • Cook dinner at home every night for a month
  • Go vegetarian/vegan for a month
  • Take a walk after dinner every day for a month
  • Give up dessert 6 days a week for a month

My most successful new year’s resolution was during my senior year of college – I decided to give up soda for a year. It was tough for the first month or so, but I did it – and over a decade later, I still do (99% of the time). It helped me get rid of chronic headaches, bloating, insomnia, and saved me a ton of money!

Three: Keep it a solo affair!

Don’t choose a goal that is dependent on anyone else for it to work – it will just give you someone to blame when things go wrong. Also, it’s not a good idea to team up with your spouse/friends with this specific type of goal-setting. You’ll be disappointed if others quit early, or you’ll feel bad if you do.

For example, I would love to set a goal that I wake up every morning to a perfectly clean kitchen. It’s insanely easy for me to do when I live alone…but impossible when I don’t. The only way I could achieve this is by nagging the shit out of my husband, who is supposed to do dishes every night (but does not), or do them myself. Neither option sounds right to me, so I can’t make that a goal.

My husband, however, could make it his goal to do them every night…but that’s just a pipe dream. 🙂

Four: Consider a mantra for the year instead!

Last year, I decided not to go with a specific “goal” for the year, and instead chose a mantra to live by: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Since I knew 2014 was going to be a big year with a lot of changes, I wanted to leave things more open-ended.

Even though I didn’t always live up to that mantra, I felt like a lot of moments in that year were driven by that mantra. I quit my job, packed up my car, and drove cross-country – by myself. It was a huge challenge, but one that was for sure outside my comfort zone – and was totally worth it.

Instead of a set goal, try finding a mantra/quote that sums up what you want 2016 to look like. Here are some great examples:

Quote_Collage

Five: Check in periodically!

Keep a journal (or if you blog like me, post it online) where you “check in” with yourself every so often. Every day/week/month (whatever works for you), go back to your goals and see how well you are achieving them. 

Celebrate your successes (made the bed 5 days this week) rather than dwelling on failures (forgot to make the bed 2 days). If you find yourself slipping up a lot, consider changing your daily routine/habits to better achieve your goals – or retool them to fit your needs.

One year, I resolved to eat vegetarian every day until dinner. I found that too challenging with my busy work schedule and budget, so I switched to one vegetarian meal each day – and found that much easier. I didn’t feel like a failure at all – just someone who needed to rework my goal to fit my life better.

 

There you go! So what are you thinking about improving for 2016? I’m still stuck between setting a realistic goal, or going with a mantra like I have the past couple years. Any good ideas are welcome!

Welcome to September on Afternoon Glow!

While summer in general seemed to crawl along, the month of August flew by for some reason. I can’t believe it’s already September, and that summer is pretty much over. The weather around here has cooled off a lot, and with it came a lot of well-needed rain! As much as I love summer, I’m ready for fall to begin.

Part of why August flew by so fast was that I kept busy, between job hunting, getting outside as much as possible, and blogging 5 days a week. I’ve never stuck to such a strict blogging schedule before, and adding in all the social media stuff, it made for a lot of work…which was fun…but still a lot of work.

To wrap up August, and head straight into September, I thought I’d share with you what learned over the past couple months. I also want to share where the blog will be headed over the next month!

Welcome to SeptemberSummer Makeup Staples / Cookbook Review: I Quit Sugar / Sweat List / Home Office Makeover

August 2015: Lessons Learned

I’m still figuring out how to take decent photos – and the sun isn’t helping.

Photography is something I’ve never had much interest in until recently. On my old blog, all my photos were taken with my iPhone, and edited in iPhoto. Now, I use a big-girl camera, and edit with both iPhoto and Photoshop. I’m making progress, but I still have a lot to learn!

Lighting is still my nemesis – thanks to the cloudy Pacific Northwest, and an apartment that only gets decent light for about an hour every morning (even on the brightest of days), I’m going to have to learn how to use lighting more effectively. I love using natural light because it’s easy and it works, but with fall coming, I know we won’t get much of that anymore!

Writer burnout is very, very real.

I love writing so much that I dream of leaving my life behind and becoming a travel writer. Since that won’t ever happen, I’m stuck writing about what I do closer to home (lame…), and hoping someone will hire me to write about what they want me to write about (hint, hint).

One problem I hit about mid-August was a serious case of burnout. It’s not that I was “blocked” for things to write about – I just didn’t want to do it. Thankfully, this is where having a schedule helped me out! I wrote most of my posts about a week before they went live, so it gave me the chance to take a few days off to focus on other things – hiking, resumes, and sleeping in late. Even though it meant working a little harder at the end of the month to get everything done, the break left me in better spirits than if I had tried to trudge along.

My mom is the only one reading this (at least that’s what my stats say).

First off, HI MOM! Thanks for reading all my blog posts, and being the only person to actually comment on any of them!

My own husband doesn’t even read the blog – I know this because I got tired of him telling me “You should write about your cooking,” or “You should take pictures when you go hiking,” as though I don’t already do this stuff. It’s annoying to have someone constantly telling you what to do who has no idea what you’re already doing – but he’s hot, so I do my best to let it go.

Let’s be honest – I know my mother isn’t really the only one reading this. Google Analytics tells me otherwise – but my number of followers and comments don’t reflect that. So if you like the blog, make sure to let me know by adding me on Bloglovin, following me on WordPress, saying hello in the comments, or adding me to your Twitter and Instagram feeds! If you don’t like it, you can let me know that too – I can handle it!

Welcome to SeptemberReading way too many cookbooks lately! / Summer neon and gold jewelry FTW / Last nice day for lounging at the beach / See? I blog and Instagram about cooking all the time!

September 2015: Going Forward

I’m cutting back to posting 3 days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).

I don’t want to cut back on posting, but after 2 months I learned that blogging 5 days a week takes a lot of time and energy! Since I’m not making money at this, I need to ease up a bit on posting so I can focus on figuring this career thing out, and taking more time on posts. I also want to learn more about using social media in a more efficient and worthwhile way (aka not posting only food pics…haha).

I have a plan, but probably won’t stick to it…and that’s okay.

Much like July and August, I already have the next month’s posts planned out. However, unlike the past couple months, I’m going to relax about staying on schedule. I might post more than 3 times a week sometimes, and other times I might post less – and I’m okay with that.

I want to be able to tackle more serious topics, and take on things going on in the world as they happen – both of which require me to be more flexible and thoughtful about my writing. Hopefully I can let go of the idea that I need a tight schedule to survive…but we’ll see.

Making money is on the agenda.

This has to be one of the most divisive topics among bloggers and readers alike. Some bloggers write for the fun of it, without the desire to make money from it. Others make enough money to pay for hosting their blogs, and that’s it. Some are fortunate enough to have turned their blogs into fully functional businesses. Regardless of how they do it, bloggers often face harsh criticism from readers (and even other bloggers) for their decision to make blogging a career or not.

I, for one, am all for bloggers doing whatever makes them happy. For me, I’d love to make a living as a blogger. It would give me the freedom to work whenever and wherever I wanted, travel more often, and share my love of writing with others. I know it’s a tough goal to achieve, but it’s something I want to figure out over the next year or so.

In the meantime, I plan to learn about working with brands on sponsored content, utilizing social media as a promotional tool, and figuring out how the hell people make money doing this. It won’t mean the blog turns into an ad-covered hellhole of only sponsored posts – but it does mean I may occasionally write about things in exchange for money if the chance arises.

You never know, maybe someday I will get to be a travel writer. But for now, I’ll stick with what’s going on in my boring life in the Pacific Northwest. Today’s agenda calls for hiking in the rain, and making soup.