101 in 1001: the verdict

Remember in early 2009 when I began the 101 in 1001 project with gusto and determination? Well, 1001 days came and went faster than I ever imagined they could, and my 101 in 1001 officially ended last month.

The verdict? I completed 58 out of 101 items.

I’m happy with this number and proud of myself. I did a lot of things I may not have attempted had I not set the goal for myself, which is awesome. There are also a bunch of things I didn’t do, either because they became not as important to me after 2.5 years, they were difficult to keep track of (like doing something X number of times in X days/weeks), or I simply didn’t have the time for them. There are some things I’d still like to accomplish soon, like plan better for retirement, finish (or start!) putting together some photo albums, and be better about keeping in touch with my friends who live far away, so I’ll continue keeping those things on my radar.

Not to toot my own horn, but I also think it’s worth mentioning that I accomplished some things that weren’t ever on my list, like getting published (in a little magazine called Martha Stewart Weddings) and becoming an aunt! Okay, so I didn’t put a lot of work into that last one, but if spending time with my niece prevented me from checking more things off my list, I can certainly handle that. Spending a week playing with her down the shore was much more fulfilling than watching all of AFI’s top 100 movies, without a doubt.

I’m not sure if I’ll create another 101 in 1001 list, but I do like the idea of having a physical list of goals to stay motivated. Have you done your own 101 in 1001 project, or something similar? What was the outcome for you?

If you’re curious, below is my original list with completed items marked in yellow! You can also learn more about the project on my original post.

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Number 84: holly jolly

It may have been down to the wire, but yesterday I crossed number 84 off of my 101 in 1001 list:

84. Mail Christmas Cards out before Christmas

I have been a slacker with holiday cards over the last few years, so I feel pretty victorious that I accomplished this one. In 2008, we should have been sending our first Christmas cards as newlyweds, but instead we were saving our pennies after hearing that Nick was laid off in early December. In 2009, I just couldn’t find the time and instead sent out Valentine cards a few months later. This year, I was determined to design, print, and mail our cards before Christmas!

Sticking with a small, flat, typography-based design (much like my V-day cards), I based the layout on the lyrics of a classic holiday favorite, by Nick’s request. I gave it a bit of a weathered look which worked great with the cards I chose — Paper Source’s A2 flat cards in Paper Bag. I used red Riso ink and printed the design with my Gocco, and I think the final result is pretty cute.

Now I just have to pick up a few more gifts and finish my wrapping, and I’m officially all set for Christmas this weekend!

Anyone else coming in right under the wire with their holiday cards? Do you make your own or do the smart thing and order them from somewhere? (I’m a glutton for must-design-and-print-them-myself punishment. It’s just my way.)

Number 30: you guys, I’m domestic

I checked something off of my 101 in 1001 list last week that may be laughable to some, but it’s seriously an accomplishment for me. No, I didn’t run that 5K (it’ll happen someday…). What did I do?

#30. Make dinner at least three nights a week, two weeks in a row

image source; can someone please go back to the 1950s and hunt down that delightful aqua kitchen for me? I’ll take the cake on the cake stand, too.

Nick has always been the chef in our relationship. He enjoys cooking, can throw a meal together in no time without a recipe and with whatever we happen to have on-hand, and has usually planned dinners without me ever asking since we have lived together. Aside from baking, you probably know by now that I’ve always been a bit less comfortable in the kitchen, so we just got in the habit of him being the meal-planner and cook. If he doesn’t have something planned out, it’s always been assumed that we’re “on our own” for dinner, meaning we each fend for ourselves with sandwiches, leftovers or frozen meals.

Since launching Claremont Collection, I have been feeling a bit less frazzled with work and like I need to kick it up a notch in terms of my domesticity. Nick has never pressured me to start taking over the cooking, but he’s busy, too, and I want to feel like I’m contributing when it comes to meal planning and preparation. So, two weeks ago, I did a little online recipe research and planning, picked up what I needed at the grocery store, and planned out our meals for the next few nights. When Nick came home from work the first night to dinner already planned, in the oven, and almost ready to eat, he was shocked.

It was kind of nice to have it all under control.

Now, I am not saying that every meal has been an amazing culinary breakthrough. I am certainly not the next Julia Child. Grilled cheese & canned tomato soup was definitely on the menu one evening — easy peasy — but this goal on my list wasn’t about whipping up some complicated, challenging recipe three nights a week. It was simply about planning something and following through, rather than staring at the inside of the fridge at 6:00pm and wondering what I should eat, or expecting that Nick would figure something out. And, dare I say it — I’m actually enjoying it. Last week, I was looking forward to planning what we were going to have for dinner that week. I’m trying to mix new recipes in with some easy standby meals, and nothing has taken so long that it’s been a major inconvenience in the midst of my day. I am sure I still look like a goober when I’m trying to chop something and I use about 7 more mixing bowls than I need to, but hey, progress is progress.

Since it’s just the two of us, 3-4 home-cooked dinners each week is actually just about the right amount for us. We’ll usually eat out or at my mom’s once a week, and most likely have enough leftovers to take care of the other nights. I’ll still welcome Nick to take the reins in the kitchen if he’s in the mood to cook sometimes (or if I’m too busy), but I think this new habit may stick, and I’m glad that it’s made me actually enjoy cooking a bit more.

How many nights a week do you cook dinner at home? What’s your method of meal planning?

Number 94: Ms. Winfrey

Last Thursday, my mom and I jetted off to Chicago so I could check one more thing off of my 101 in 1001 list:

94. Go to a taping of Oprah

Let me tell you — it was FUN with a capital F-U-N. With it being Oprah’s final season of her show, we knew we had to find our way there soon if we were going to get there at all. Having a flexible schedule and a mom who is retired allowed us to book this somewhat last-minute trip when we lucked out with tickets (you can submit requests here), and we are so glad that we did. We were able to see guests Jon Stewart and Liza Minelli (the show airs today!), and went home with some fun loot (no trip to Australia, though ;).

You can tell by the sky that the sun was just coming up when we got to the studio around 6:20am; Oprah is probably the only person for whom I will wake up at 5am!

No photos are allowed inside the studio, so we snagged this shot outside after the taping

If you have the chance to go before the show ends, DO IT! It is so. much. fun.

Our trip was only Thursday to Saturday, but we still managed to see a bit of Chicago; I was there last year with Nick, but my mom had never been to the windy city. The weather was positively delightful on Thursday and Friday, and rain came just as we were heading to O’Hare to catch our flight home on Saturday, so we didn’t mind at all.

Anyone else planning to get to an Oprah Winfrey Show taping before the end of her final season? How is your 101 in 1001 list going?

number 48: in which I check my inhibitions at the door (er, beach)

I did it. Number 48 on my list. I bared my pale, soft belly for everyone to see on a New Jersey beach.

Do I feel totally rid of every insecurity and inhibition I’ve ever had about my body? Of course not. Did I still catch myself covering/hiding my belly a few times? Sure. But did it feel pretty good to say “screw it” and put on my cute green bikini that I haven’t worn since our honeymoon (where we didn’t know anyone, and I was 8 pounds lighter)?


I’ll be 30 in just over a month. I haven’t had a flat tummy… ever. I have always carried those few extra pounds right around my middle. Even on our honeymoon, at my thinnest, I was still self-conscious about my belly. I haven’t really lost weight recently, though I feel noticeably healthier since I’ve been working out more often. (Prime example: it was too hot to run outside while we were away, so I did a little Shred-ding with Jillian one morning — and it felt totally easy!).

On vacation last week with my family, I looked around on the beach one day and thought, I am nowhere near being the most fit person on this beach, but I am also far from being the least fit person on this beach. Women and men of all shapes and sizes were comfortable enough in their skin to wear whatever bathing suit their little hearts desired, and I didn’t judge them for it. So why have I been judging myself so harshly?

I originally added number 48 to my list as a motivator to lose weight, like this fabulous lady did. And I still do hope to lose a few pounds, and be a little less shy to wear a two-piece someday, without feeling the need to suck in a little… but if I wait for perfection to don a bikini, I’ll be waiting forever.

So, I did it. And it felt kind of good, imperfections and all.

101 in 1001… revisited

I haven’t been keeping you all as up-to-date on my 101 in 1001 list as I did when I first started working on it. My apologies… I have continued checking items off the list, but many of them have been smaller things that aren’t necessarily blog-post-worthy. I’ll continue to keep you posted when I tackle any of the larger items, I promise!

The list really has kept me motivated to follow through with my goals, and evaluate new goals that I want to set for myself. I decided to replace a few things on my original list, since they may not necessarily be things that are applicable to my life anymore (for instance, I no longer have the goal of taking new classes at the gym, because I no longer have a gym membership!). I also have some new goals that I thought were a bit more noteworthy. And once something is on the list, I really have to hold myself accountable to get it done.

See my entire revised list here… I’ve also listed my new additions below.

Additions/replacements – 2010
6. start a business (April 2010)
45. run a 5K race
53. write a manuscript (and submit to publishers)
77. attend Altitude Design Summit
81. attend a Making Things Happen seminar with Lara Casey

And a few notes….
6: I already did this one, but it’s a doozy, so I thought it deserved a place on my list ;) It’s honestly been a goal of mine for years, but I never thought it would realistically happen before I turned 30. It did, though, and I’ve never been happier.

45: Since I’ve actually been keeping up with C25K (albeit at a slower pace than the actual program), I have decided that I’m really going to follow through and sign up for a 5K race (probably in the early fall). As the most unathletic person on earth, I’m slightly terrified, but it’s an exciting goal.

53. I have had an idea for a book for a few years now, but I can never find the time to write it. It’s time to make the time and just do it. Holler.

77. This conference is right up my alley; I found out about it too late in the game last year, so I’m going to try really hard to get there this year!

81. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Lara Casey schedules more dates for MTH, and that I can afford to attend. She is an idol of mine who has accomplished so much so young, and I’d love to learn from her!

Number 38: temporary husband substitute

I’ve been working on number 38 on my 101 in 1001 list lately:

38. Have fresh flowers at home for 4 weeks

It is amazing how much fresh flowers can boost my spirit. Nick has been out of town for the last ten days for work training (did I tell you all that he started a new job last month? Changes all around for us!), and I’ve been missing him a lot. He’ll be home Friday and I can’t wait — the schmoopy factor is off the charts and we need to be reunited, already!

Anyhow, I took a walk to Trader Joe’s yesterday to pick up a few things, and I couldn’t resist when I walked in and saw a bunch of ranunculus for $4.99. They’re my favorite flower and they remind me of our wedding day, so they’ll help to tide me over until Nick gets home. Aren’t they pretty?

Number 10: Blurb wedding albums

Ever since we got our wedding photos back from our photographers last February, I have had a very big to-do hanging over my head. It made it to number ten on my 101 in 1001 list:

10. Create wedding albums for parents

Finally I was able to cross this biggie off of my list this Christmas (with glee, might I add). In early December, I hunkered down and designed 12″ x 12″, 50-page hardcover albums, which I had printed by Blurb. I had never used Blurb before so I was quite nervous for the outcome, but after reading so many rave reviews from the ladies at Weddingbee, I took the chance… and I am pleased to say that I am extremely satisfied with the final result.

I designed my layouts in Adobe InDesign, using one of the helpful templates that can be downloaded from the Blurb website. (If you don’t already have a layout program you’d like to use, you can download the Blurb BookSmart® software to lay out your book.) The templates clearly show the “safe zone” for all images and text, and illustrate how much bleed to include in your layout for photos or other images that should bleed off the edges. This is especially helpful if you don’t want to chop off the heads of any of your wedding guests :-)

I was also impressed by the cover templates, from which there are several to choose based on the number of pages in your book and the paper used for printing (which affects the width of the spine). I had created smaller, soft-cover books a few months back with Shutterfly, and my cover layout was not what I was expecting in terms of placement of the text on the spine (it ended up on the back). With my Blurb books, everything was lined up exactly as I had set it up on the cover, spine, and back cover.

I think the back cover is actually my favorite… I included our silhouettes and monogram that I had also used on the menus and drink signs at our wedding. I’m a sucker for silhouettes!

Overall, I was very pleased with the image quality and the vibrant colors. While I wasn’t expecting absolute perfection, I didn’t see any problems with skin tones, and I thought the ink coverage was impressive (and consistent) throughout each book.

(I look a bit pale, but, um… I am pale :-)

I ordered three books total — each 12″ x 12″, 50-pages, with image wrap covers and Premium paper. The final cost for each book: $85.95 plus shipping (which I actually got for free with a holiday coupon code). Compared to how much professional albums would have cost, we saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars and still had really beautiful Christmas gifts for our parents.

Does a Blurb book match the quality of a professionally designed and printed album from your photographer? Of course not. Even with the Premium paper selection and the image wrap cover, you aren’t going to get the same attention to detail and the high quality printing that you would otherwise get from a professional album company. But for the money spent, I am elated with the final result, and I’m pretty sure our parents are, too.

In terms of timing, I ordered all three books together on December 8; I received free FedEx Ground shipping with a holiday coupon code. My books were shipped on December 15 and received on December 17. Considering the size and number of pages in my books, I think this is an exceptionally fast turnaround time.

If you’re considering ordering from Blurb, a few pointers:

  • Pay a little extra for the Premium paper; the final result is worth the additional cost.
  • Use the templates provided on the Blurb website (or download their BookSmart® software to lay out your book) to avoid unexpected cropping of photos off of edges or in the spine.
  • If you have questions, be safe and contact Blurb customer support before placing your order; I had a few questions and they responded very promptly.
  • Selecting the option to remove the logo page from the back of your book (like I did with my first upload) will add quite a bit of cost — for me, it would have cost another $20 per book! And once your book is uploaded, you cannot reverse this selection. Unfortunately, I had to go back and re-upload my entire file, which, because of its size, took a few hours, but was worth the $20 saved. And the small logo on the last blank page of each book isn’t so bad :-)

What’s your company of choice for self-made photo books?

All photos included in our album by The Wiebners

number 29: the kitchen workshop

We’ve been making lots of use of gift certificates lately! Particularly those that people have given to us for hands-on experiences.

A few weeks ago we took a cooking class at the Kitchen Workshop in Paoli, PA, thanks to a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law last year. (It allowed me to check number 29 off of my 101 in 1001 list… thanks, guys!) The class we took was called “Quick, Easy and Delicious Weeknight Meals” and was lead by Art, who runs the Kitchen Workshop. I didn’t take any pictures as I was busy chopping and cooking up a storm, but we had a great time.

There were 8 students, including Nick and me, and we made 6 dishes in the 3 hour class. I learned some great tricks and basic skills (I was definitely the least experienced chef in the class), and ate some delicious food. It was great to get some guidance on a few meals that we can quickly whip together during the week, now that Nick is back to work and neither of us feels like spending too much time in the kitchen at the end of the day.

Our favorite recipe was the Garlic Shrimp. I’ve never loved shellfish, but I’ve been trying to branch out of my comfort zone and I thought this was super tasty. We’ve made it once since the class, and we tried it with chicken that we already had in the freezer instead of shrimp — equally yummy!

Garlic Shrimp over Pasta
(Serves 4)

8 ounces uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 small bay leaf
1 1-inch piece dried red chili pepper, seeded
Pasta of your choice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Place shrimp in bowl; sprinkle with coarse salt and toss. Let stand 15 minutes.

Heat oil in medium skillet over high heat. Add garlic, bay leaf and dried pepper and stir 1 minute. Add shrimp; stir until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add already cooked pasta of your choice and combine with shrimp to distribute garlic sauce. Transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with parsley.

number 98: glassblowing at Wheaton Arts

A good friend gave us a very thoughtful wedding gift last year, which we were finally able to put to use recently. Our friend Amy gave us gift certificates to take a glassblowing class at Wheaton Arts in Millville, New Jersey, where you can make your own glass paperweight. We each took a stab at making our own creation, and we had a blast. (It also allowed me to cross #98 off of my 101 in 1001 list.)

Our teacher, Max, taught us all the ropes together, and then we made our paperweights separately. I was a little nervous so I made Nick go first :-)

We were able to choose what colors, style, and shape we wanted. We both stuck with the standard sphere as opposed to an egg shape, and we went with different color schemes. Nick wanted his paperweight to have air bubbles in it, so he put his glass into a mold that creates air bubbles before putting it into the furnace again to coat it with another layer of glass. Here’s what the glass looked like when it came out of the mold… it was sort of a reverse-pineapple looking thing:

We both had to wear long sleeves and sunglasses for protection… it was EXTREMELY hot, especially when we were standing directly in front of the furnace. I can only imagine how hot it feels in there in the dead heat of summer.

Below you can see me putting my glass into different colored glass crystals to add color to my design.

… And then shaping it with the wooden sphere mold. Isn’t it awesome how it glows?

This is what my paperweight looked like before it was put into the kiln; it stays there for 24-hours, so our final pieces were shipped to us a few days later.

And now, the big reveal… our final paperweights!

Can you guess whose is whose?

The green and blue one is Nick’s, and the red, purple and white is mine :-) See the cool air bubbles created in Nick’s as a result of using that mold?

We had so much fun… we may go back another time to make a vase, which would be much more challenging but definitely awesome.

Have you ever taken a glassblowing class?