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Last October I decided to read all murder mysteries and spooky books for the month and it was lots of fun, so I’m sticking with that theme for this October too! I actually finished up my September reading list a few days early so I’ve already gotten a head start on one of my murder books for the month and I’m excited to see what happens!  But first, a quick recap on what was on deck for September…

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
*The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst
Syren by Angie Sage (Septimus Heap #5)
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle

*I ended up switching this one out for Let’s All be Brave by Annie F. Downs – saving The Best Yes for November.

Top pick of the month has to go to The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger.  The fact that this book has been in existence for over a decade and I’m just now reading it is an epic fail on my part.  I mean, hello, time travel, one of my favorite subjects.  I think the thing I liked the most about this take on time travel is that it was involuntary.  Unlike most of the books I’ve read on the subject, Henry has no control over when he travels, where he goes, or how long he stays there.  It’s exciting but sad at the same time and there were so many times I wanted to cry with Clare over the fact that Henry had randomly disappeared at an inopportune moment.  I realize I’m probably the last person in the world to have read this book, but if you’re like me and you’ve been under a rock for the last decade then add it to your reading list asap!

Moving on to my Month of Murder…. I’m already about 25% of the way into my first on the list and as soon as I can get my hands on Jasper Dent that one will be next.  Let’s get this spookiness started…bwah ha ha….

Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James
Blood of my Blood by Barry Lyga (#3 in the Jasper Dent Series)
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (#2 in the Cormoran Strike Series)
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter (#3 in the Grant County Series)
Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves

Here’s to a spooktacular October!

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Wow, I can’t believe how fast these last 3 years have passed.  When I put this list together I was optimistically hoping that I’d complete about 75% of the items (realizing that some of them were fairly expensive and called for massive travel plans).  I ended up coming in at about 56%, but I’m thrilled with the outcome.  Some of the un-done items will still make it on my life bucket list, and some I’m no longer interested in (your idea of fun can change a lot in 3 years!)  But all-in-all, I couldn’t be happier with the ones I completed and I know at least half of them never would’ve happened if it weren’t for this challenge.  If you’ve ever considered doing something like this and you like to-do lists, I highly recommend it.  There are great sites that will help you develop your list, and it’s a lot of fun to track your progress over several years.

I’ve debated starting another 101 in 1,001 list, but I’ve decided to do something a little different this time around and make a book out of it (more on that to come later)!  But for now, I’ll bask in the glow of a completed project with 56 items checked off of a massive to-do list and think about all of the fun we’ve had.  Here’s a quick recap of a few of my favorite moments….

Top 3 FUN goals checked off the list:

#20 – Visit Paris:  I mean, seriously.  It’s Paris.  Still probably the best vacation we’ve ever had and one of the most amazing weeks we’ll never stop talking about.  J’adore Paris!

#7 – Host a Dinner Party:  This was A LOT of fun – once we decided to turn it into a murder mystery dinner party I really couldn’t get more excited.  We will definitely do this again!

#57 – Teach a class at a College/University:  I knew I’d enjoy this one but when I put it on the list it was a long shot.  How was I to know that one day I’d fall instantly in love with teaching college students about advertising?


Top 3 most meaningful goals checked off the list:

#84 – Attend a Spiritual Retreat at a Monastery: I’ll do this for the rest of my life as often as I can.  There is just nothing like visiting with the Monks at Mepkin Abbey for a long weekend.

#81 – Volunteer for a day at a Habitat House:  I actually enjoy painting, so I knew I’d have a good time at the Habitat House, but I had no idea how it would impact me personally.  Meeting and working alongside of the Habitat House owners to-be was amazing.  I loved hearing their story and seeing the joy and the plans that they have for their future home.

#91 – Volunteer somewhere regularly: Getting connected with Hands On Charlotte has been the biggest blessing for me personally this year.  I’ve been able to take my dog for visits at nursing homes, assemble goodie bags for a homeless child’s birthday party, help the Panthers Recycling efforts and be one of 1,000 volunteers at Festival in the Park.  Without Hands On I never would’ve been able to get connected to all of these great organizations by myself and I love seeing what opportunities pop up on their calendar each month.  It’s such a great way for one person to give back on their schedule to organizations that matter to them.


Top 3 goals I’ll never do again but man were they awesome…

#2 – Tae Kwon Do Black Belt: I still can’t believe I managed to accomplish this goal.  The girl that got Bs and Cs in PE and hates breaking a sweat managed to break multiple boards and kick things without tripping/falling.  Miracles do happen.  Unfortunately so do injuries, and by doctor’s orders I’ll never participate in impact sports again.:-(

#9 – Learn to Knit: Some of us just aren’t made to knit.  I’ll paint, draw and take pretty pictures, but please don’t make me knit.  Ever. Again.

#6 – Ride a Zipline: Well, technically, I will gladly ride another zipline.  I will never do a zipline course again – no more rope ladders, swinging bridges, repelling off of towers, etc.  Zipping is cool, high ropes courses are outside of my skill set.


Top 3 goals I can’t believe I didn’t check off the list

#46 – Take a Drawing Class:  I think I just had a few too many classes on my list and not enough semesters for completion!  I will definitely still get to this one!

#70 – Get our pics made in Charlotte:  Well you know what they say about the cobbler’s children??!!  Oh well, same goes for the cobbler herself and her spouse.  One day!

#12 – Join a Book Club:  You’d think I’d be all over this one, but the idea of having someone else tell me what to read makes me break out in hives.  I love suggestions, but I hate being told I have to read a book I’m not even a little bit interested in.  Live and learn, I don’t think I’m a book club girl.


Here’s to more awesome goals and a productive future for to-do lists everywhere!;-)


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I am SO CLOSE to the end of the 101 in 1,001 challenge and I have to say, I’m freaking out a little!  I’m really struggling with the idea of finishing this challenge and not completing everything (although I knew that really wouldn’t be possible), and I’m trying to cram in a few goals wherever I can.  Last night I said to the Hubs, “Well, I’m going to the grocery store to buy stuff to make a chocolate cake.”  Hubs says, “Who are we making a chocolate cake for?”  I said, “Well, I guess us!” And then much celebration and “woo hooing” ensued.  Why else would I be making an extremely complicated chocolate cake from scratch on a Tuesday night – to check something off of my goal list of course!;-)

Well, lucky for us, I procrastinated on a couple of very yummy cooking goals and decided to knock them out at the last second.  This week I’m checking off goals number #52 – make Mama Sue’s dressing and goal #74 – bake a cake from the Art of French Cooking.  But of course, I don’t want just ANY cake – I want the one that Julie makes in the movie with the chocolate and almond icing. Seriously people, we’re talking about separating egg yolks, melting chocolate and whisking things into submission.  Hopefully it will be worth the effort when we have it for dinner tonight. ;-o

But first, let’s start with the main course – Mama Sue’s Thanksgiving Dressing.  Now, I can’t tell you what goes in to this dressing or I’d have to kill you all.  But I can tell you that the recipe has zero measurements, it’s just a list of ingredients.  Seven, to be exact.  And the goal is just to mix them all until you get the right consistency.  One ingredient can really make or break this dressing – the sage.  You don’t want someone to say that your dressing is “too sagey.”  When Mama Sue made the dressing it was Papa’s job to come in the kitchen at the appropriate time and taste the dressing to determine if the appropriate amount of sage had been included.  Without Papa’s tastebuds I was left to make this determination on my own and I’m happy to say that he would’ve been proud.  It was spot on just like Mama Sue’s and it made my heart happy to eat it. Check and mark goal #52!

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Served with corn and green beans – Yum!  I should probably learn how to make giblet gravy!

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Next up – goal #74 – cake flour, butter, sugar, almond extract and semi-sweet chocolate.  It doesn’t get much more “from scratch” than this!

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Oh, this icing.  Basically just melted chocolate and butter.  Seriously, Julia.

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Julia Child (and the French) have a relationship with butter that I totally admire.  No shame.  Use a pound, use 8 tablespoons.  Use it, use it, use it.  Really, you can’t have too much butter.

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The amount of effort that goes into this little one layer cake is insane but I have a feeling that Julia won’t disappoint me.  Check and mark to goal #74!

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