In January I shared my list of resolutions for this year and today I'm excited to catch you up on my progress. Let's dive in, shall we?
1. Spend at least one weeknight at home every week
Status: A highly successful start. Of all the resolutions I made for this year, this one is the most important to me. At the end of 2015 I was feeling really run down from a long stretch of work travel and the madness of holiday season. I have a tendency to over schedule myself and I really wanted to commit to slowing down this year, listening to my body and taking care of myself.
We are 16 weeks into the year and I have met my goal for 13 of those 16 weeks. Pretty good!
When I make time to block off at least one night as a "me night" I find that I really look forward to those quiet evenings at home. I use them to run errands after work (grocery shopping, pharmacy pick up, PETCO), to do laundry, to write blog posts with a fresh mind (instead of wine-fueled mind at 10pm after an event) and of course, to spend extra quality time with Scout.
I also find that I feel more rested and relaxed the morning after these nights in and that I have exponentially more patience and energy at work.
2. See a financial planner
Status: Baby steps. While I haven't seen a financial planner in person yet, I have started to make moves to get my financial house in order. I recently moved my savings to a much higher yield account and I initiated a conversation with a mortgage broker about whether or not I should refinance.
I am also trying to clean up a few odds and ends like canceling subscriptions I never read/watch, as well as ending my current gym membership. Since adopting Scout I spend all my free time outside with him, as opposed to indoors at the gym. That monthly cost could be going towards something else!
3. Use my gift cards
Status: Swiping away! In January I admitted the secret hidden within my purse - a treasure trove of untouched gift cards. 28 to be exact. Since I resolved to see a financial planner, I have really tried to think about all the ways I could be smarter about money and one of those ways is to spend these gift cards (instead of cash).
Since changing my mindset and actively thinking about these gift cards like I would a debit or credit card, I've been much better about remembering to use them and even planning times to use them with friends (for example, with restaurants). Here is what I've done so far:
Anthropologie - My cousins gifted me this card for Hanukkah last year and I used it to purchase this clutch which I plan to use for all of wedding season this year. This bag is perfect for me - it's large enough for both my phone and my real camera, the metallic sparkle makes it feel formal and the fact that it's a wristlet means I can be hands-free to shoot photos and of course, carry a cocktail. #winning
I found this bag in the sale room at the Anthropologie on Newbury Street. They have one of the largest sale sections of any of the local Anthropologie locations. I highly recommend popping in there the next time you are on Newbury Street. The sale section is on the bottom floor in the back right corner.
Cheesecake Factory - My grandmother sent me this gift card for Hanukkah. There is a Cheesecake Factory location steps from my office (at the Cambridgeside Galleria) so I spent this with one of my favorite coworkers at their bar on a Friday night. Probably not what my grandmother had in mind . . .
Home Goods - This gift card was also from my grandma and I used it to stock up on linens for the house - extra sheets, extra towels and one very cozy fleece blanket that I used on my bed for all of February and March.
Showcase SuperLux - This gift card I actually acquired through a trade with a friend. If I remember correctly, she was going to pay me in cash for something I'd ordered for us, but asked if I'd like this gift card instead. Since I am obsessed with the SuperLux, I jumped at the chance.
I used the gift card to pay for dinner and drinks during the showing of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2." I went on premiere night with one of my best friends from college. It was a perfect evening, made even more perfect by our free dinner and drinks!
Target - The fact that I had this gift card in my purse for months is extra embarrassing because I live two seconds from Target and I go pretty much every weekend. When I did finally remember to use it, I spent it on baby shower gifts for my neighbors, who I adore and who welcomed the cutest baby boy in the first week of February. They had decorated his nursery in a dinosaur theme and I was able to find dinosaur print baby clothes and even a dinosaur book at Target.
T.J. Maxx - T.J. Maxx has been an absolute gold mine for me lately. Have you found that their stuff seems to be only getting better? With my gift card I was able to pick out the perfect pair of pajamas for my 5 year old cousin and on that same trip I also found these amazing Cynthia Rowley dish towels. I snatched these for myself and they now hang on the front of my oven.
On a recent trip I also found these stylish thank you notes. I am always stocking up on stationary.
I still have 20 or so more gift cards to burn through, but it feels great to be saving money by spending these instead of swiping my debit card. I still have gift cards to Ames Street Deli in Kendall Square and P.F. Changs if anyone wants to join me for a meal!
4. Visit Chicago
Status: Flights booked! I am super excited to be making my first trip to Chicago this June. My flights are booked and I'll be exploring the Windy City from Thursday, June 16th - Sunday, June 19th. I am staying with one of my favorite people on the planet and she is already in planner mode (which I love).
We already have reservations at RPM Italian, Bill and Giuliana Rancic's restaurant (my #1 requirement for the trip).
I have been asking Boston friends about their Chicago favorites and so far I've been told to visit Millennium Park and the Bean, the Art Institute, the zoo, Goose Island Brewery, the roof deck at Cindy's, Nellcote restaurant and to try and get into an improv show at Second City. If you've been to Chicago, anything you'd add to the list?
5. Charter a boat
Status: Back burner. Though we didn't get a lot of snow this winter, we did experience freezing temperatures and a whole lot of wind, making it pretty impossible to imagine myself in a bathing suit on the deck of a boat in Boston Harbor. However, now that it's finally warming up here it's time to look at the calendar and find a date for this private boat charter.
If you missed all the details of my first sail with Karma Crew Yacht Charters, you can read that here.
6. Dine at the Giulia pasta table
Status: Aiming for September. I've been wanting to reserve the pasta table at Giulia on Mass Ave in Cambridge for a few years now. After an amazing meal there in January for my brother-in-law's birthday, it only reconfirmed my commitment to finding a time to do this. At the present moment I am thinking I will try to reserve the private table for my birthday celebration this year. It has been my experience that Giulia books up months in advance, so I'll likely make the call this week and lock it in for the fall.
What better way to ring in 32 than by stuffing my face with hand made pasta?
7. Take a cooking class at Sofra
Status: In need of a cooking buddy. When I made this resolution in January I was very much looking forward to taking my love for Sofra to the next level by participating in one of their cooking classes. I already go every weekend, even if I'm just popping in to grab a red dragon ice tea to go.
After sharing this resolution on the blog, several friends raised a hand to join me for the class and their first question was, "How much does it cost?" I couldn't believe that I had never checked the price before. I had read 8-10 class descriptions, but you have to click through to register to see the price. It turns out the cost per person is anywhere from $90 - $100 dollars depending on the theme and the recipes for the class. So, that is proving to be a road block to finding a cooking buddy.
I'm still determined to do this but may have to get creative about how I finance it.
Also, if you are looking for something special to do with your mom for Mother's Day, there are still spots left in the Mother's Day Tea Party class on Monday, May 9th.
8. Explore the Boston Public Library
Status: Delinquent. In elementary school, middle school and high school I was always late returning my library books so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that four months into the year I haven't even attempted to cross this resolution off the list.
I am definitely going to plan a weekend day to head to the BPL and then enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner nearby. Anyone want to join me?
9. Attend the Revere Sand Sculpting Festival
Status: Dates revealed! When I originally shared this resolution in January the dates for this year's festival had not yet been released. When I checked in preparation for writing this post I squealed with delight to see the dates had been posted and that I am in town that weekend! This year's event will take place Friday, July 22nd - Sunday, July 24th.
That weekend is the start of my family's annual Cape Cod vacation. Before heading out to Truro, I'll spend a day at the festival, the perfect way to kick off a beach week!
10. Put my brilliant readers' ideas into action
Status: 3 down, many more to go! Back in January when Pop.Bop.Shop. celebrated its 7th birthday I asked all of you what you would like to see on the site for the coming year and the ideas were fantastic. I have a running list of all the excellent suggestions and I am actively tackling them. Many of them involve a "best of" or ranking-type approach, so while you may not see that they've published yet, I am regularly visiting locations, taking photos and preparing those multi-location round ups.
So far this year I have published three posts that were inspired by readers comments, a review of Shonda Rhimes' book 'The Year of Yes", 7 Boston restaurants offering snowstorm specials and Pop.Bop.Shop.'s first-ever Mother's Day gift guide.
I am already working on reader-suggested round ups of the best places for ramen, the best hot chocolate and a definitive ranking of Boston's best ice cream. I also received many ideas for road trip destinations from Providence, RI to Burlington, VT to Cape May, NJ to Washington D.C. I will try to get to as many cities as possible to fulfill your requests! I am also still planning to get to Portland, ME, a resolution leftover from my 2015 list.
Some of the other reader ideas I hope to cover are Boston's most dog-friendly hotels and restaurants, signature Boston food items that can shipped out of state and more coverage of food / outdoor markets.
If there are other things you'd love to see here, I am all ears!
And there you have it! Four months into the year I have 5 resolutions in progress and 5 left to tackle! I am very excited to plan my trip to the Boston Public Library, to fly to Chicago in June, to hit up the Revere Sand Sculpting Festival in July and to make my birthday dinner reservation at the Giulia pasta table.
*April calendar image courtesy of On Tap For Today. RPM Italian image courtesy of Michigan Avenue Magazine. Taste of Randolph Street image courtesy of Taste of Randolph. Boston Public Library image courtesy of Wikipedia. Sand art image courtey of the Revere Sand Sculpting Festival.