Tag Archives: New Year’s

Getting In the Game

Happy New Year, friends!

What did you do to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Did you go to one of those big expensive parties? Did you get dressed up and smooch someone at midnight? Or did you fall asleep before the ball dropped? We hosted our own party around here, full of food and drink and a really great playlist crafted by yours truly.

A particularly bright and blue morning in Milwaukee.

A particularly bright and blue morning in Milwaukee.

It’s 2015! Doesn’t that just sound weird? I wrote a few emails before the New Year and I included dates for this month, and the number just looks funny to me. If you asked me about my favorite or lucky numbers, I like 4, 8, and multiples thereof. Like, if I’m going to have a handful of M&M’s, I like to have an even number of candies. Odd numbers are not my thing. On a superstitious and superficial level, I was pumped for 2014, simply because it ended in 4.

But on a much deeper level- beyond pointless superstitions- 2014 was a really, really good year. I graduated from college. I wrote a thesis and won honors for it. I ran a half-marathon. I got a job! I moved to not one, but two cities. Highlights from those adventures include driving a pick-up truck for four beautiful weeks, as well as getting an apartment after just half a day of showings. New friends just recently entered the picture towards the end of the year, and my old friends continued to amaze me with their patience, love, and wisdom. And my family in general just rocked 2014. We killed it and ended on a crazy high note.

Celebrating! With bubbly and party nails.

Celebrating! With bubbly and party nails.

So as you can probably understand, I was a little sad to say goodbye to 2014. New Year’s Eve was bittersweet. 2014 was a blast. I didn’t want it to end!

But then, I started thinking about what is really the difference between years, or rather, what is so different between December 31st and January 1st? It’s all about a mindset. It’s all about viewing the year as a blank slate and giving yourself a fresh start. On January 1st, I finally took some steps towards fiscal responsibility. I opened up a 401(k), made my first student loan payment, and drafted a budget. This was something I really needed to be doing in, say, June, but something about the new year pushed me to get it done.

Besides that mindset, though, if you think about it, there isn’t a ton of difference between the last week of December 2014 and the first week of January 2015. I’m most excited about keeping up the momentum from the end of the year and letting that roll right into 2015. Big things have happened and big things will keep happening! The new year is just a great opportunity to take advantage of all that good energy and movement forward.

We always have a fire on New Year's Eve. I like to think of it as symbolic and festive.

We always have a fire on New Year’s Eve. I like to think of it as symbolic and festive. Mostly though it’s fun and for warmth.

Let’s talk resolutions, shall we?

In previous years, I’ve sat down and made a giant list of resolutions falling under a few different categories. Generally, this results in very little progress or change made. Think about it: what is effective or focused about 100 resolutions that you’re supposed to start all at once on January 1st?

This year, I just decided to start on a few things that, if done successfully, could motivate me to do more in the future. I decided I’d rather accomplish a small number of resolutions and do them well, than attack too many and end up not making an effort.

First up was managing my finances. The 401(k) is set up. Once it’s done, it’s done. I’m not going back and undoing what I did! The next was starting my student loan payments. Granted, that’s not something that’s an option, but it was a good move to pay ahead of time, rather than wait until the due date. Last was drafting a budget. This will be the biggest ongoing effort, because it requires entering my expenses into a spreadsheet- and thus, knowing exactly what I’m spending and where. While I haven’t been throwing my money away, I want to be more mindful of where everything is going, and where I can make adjustments.

Next up is always fitness. Last year I ran a half-marathon, which was a major athletic accomplishment for me. Since then, I’ve more or less stopped running. This year, I want to pick it back up, so I’m going to find a 10K to run in the first six months of the year. I also need to find a way to work on strength training, but without a specific goal, I know it will be difficult to stick to it. Any tips are welcome!

Another is wasting less food. This falls under both health and fitness. I need to find ways to cook what I have until it’s gone, without getting bored of what I’m eating. I will remind you of the time I ate nothing but burrito bowls and garlic shrimp in Amarillo for several weeks. Yeah. I’m not doing that again. Wasting food makes me feel guilty and annoyed- not just for the money lost, but also for throwing something away that I’m fortunate to have, and others are not.

My other major resolution is to get involved in the community. I just moved to a big city, and the time is right to learn more about it and meet more people. My university has a large and active alumni base in this area- I think that’s a good way to start. I’m also trying to settle on a parish, one that I’ll feel comfortable participating in however I can. All of that will get me out of my apartment, into the city, and building relationships.

A few more will be coming once I start these others- maybe I’ll try not to look at my phone the second my alarm goes off in the morning, and unplug from it well before bedtime at night. Maybe I’ll recommit to learning Portuguese. Maybe I’ll start meditating once a day. Maybe I’ll try to read more news.

But let’s start small and mindfully, okay? Everything in its own time- not all at once.

Happy New Year, friends! May 2015 be your best year yet.

With love,



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New year, new possibilities

Happy New Year! / ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

How do you feel about 2014? I’m excited. I like the number. My favorite numbers end in 4 and 8, so I already have a good feeling. Besides that, it’s just a big year! I graduate from college in May. MAY. Four months away. Uhh, when did that happen?! Just yesterday I was a homesick freshman, then a once-again actress sophomore, then abroad as a junior, and now…I don’t know what this year will bring me. And there’s something kind of terrifying but exhilarating about that.

The last sunset of the year. Hazy and subtle.

The last sunset of the year. Hazy and subtle.

I spent the end of the year with my family. My immediate family is the only one that lives in the Midwest- everyone else lives in in New York State (no, not the city). So between Christmas and the New Year is a very important time of year for us to get together and catch up. My dad’s family in particular has made New Year’s Eve THE family party of the year. And since I’d completely missed our summer reunions while I was working in Chile this year, I was especially excited to get back on the road.

A round of Mexican Train with my maternal grandparents. We play to win.

A round of Mexican Train with my maternal grandparents. We play to win.

It’s probably how I’ve been raised, but I’ve never been to into the kind of New Year’s where you get super dressed-up and spend all night drinking and dancing in a big party with lots of strangers. I prefer to drink and dance with those I love the most, and that’s my family.

My dad, uncle, and brother built a huge fire. They used up a whole cord of wood, and then some. It was freezing outside, but you couldn’t stand closer than a foot from the fire and have to shut your eyes from the heat.

Can you feel the heat? The picture doesn't do justice to its actual size.

Can you feel the heat? The picture doesn’t do justice to its actual size.

I made a chocolate cream slab pie, courtesy of How Sweet Eats. Jess is one of my favorite bloggers! And if you have questions or comments about her posts,  she’s pretty awesome about responding! If you’re looking for a dessert that will feed a crowd and impress them too, this is a good one to try.

Pre-made pie crust, rolled out to fit a 9 x 13 foil pan. It's a little bit broken, but it works.

Pre-made pie crust, rolled out to fit a 9 x 13 foil pan. It’s a little bit broken, but it works.

Chocolate pudding filling, from scratch. Don't let the boiling and the cheesy smell before the chocolate is added freak you out. It's okay. Just keep stirring it!

Chocolate pudding filling, from scratch. Don’t let the boiling and the cheesy smell before the chocolate is added freak you out. It’s okay. Just keep stirring it!

Ta-da! It was creamy and rich and not too sweet. If you want to get really fancy, use chocolate shavings, not sprinkles.

Ta-da! It was creamy and rich and not too sweet. If you want to get really fancy, use chocolate shavings, not sprinkles.

On New Year’s Day, it was brilliantly sunny, and I took a few trips down my aunt and uncle’s hill on the tobaggon. In an effort to avoid sledding into trees and pricklebushes, and away from a newly frozen lake, I wiped out every time.

The view from the top.

The view from the top.

We ate a lot of food in seven days. A lot. Of course I took pictures.

When in New York, get your fill of pizza and wings.

When in New York, get your fill of pizza and wings.

Ted's Fish Fry. A must-have when in the Capitol District.

Ted’s Fish Fry. A must-have when in the Capitol District.

On our second to last night, we made steak and boiled live lobsters. The salad makes us feel better about ourselves.

On our second to last night, we made steak and boiled live lobsters. The salad makes us feel better about ourselves.

Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Pizza. The leftovers stayed at my aunt and uncle's house. I wish I'd remembered them.

Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Pizza. The leftovers stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house. I wish I’d remembered them.

I took the time that I had in the car on the way home allowed me to think about my resolutions for the year. I’m still deciding whether or not I want to call them “resolutions.” Another aunt is calling them “possibilities-” it’s a possibility and YOU have to make it happen! Tracy at Shutterbean is calling them intentions, which is another nice way to think of whatever else you want to do differently this year. I came up with three categories: physical, academic/professional, and spiritual/mental. I then decided on five resolutions/possibilities/intentions for each category, bringing me to a grand total of fifteen. Does that sound like a lot? I’m pretty sure that last year I had about four pages worth of resolutions last year. And I’m also pretty sure that I accomplished almost none of them. I’ve read in various places that it’s much easier and more beneficial to pick smaller, simpler goals rather than try to overhaul every aspect of your life starting on January 1st.

A few examples? My university hosts a half-marathon each year- and I’m going to run it! I also want to try Meatless Mondays, which I may step up to Meatless Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. I live by my planner to begin with, but I think I’m going to use it more wisely and try to schedule my work very specifically each day and each week. I have a thesis to write, and scheduling blocks of time for that, and blocks of time for all of my other work, will help me be more efficient and focused. My mental and spiritual goals include limiting Facebook time to just twice a day, visiting the Grotto on campus at least five times per week, and journaling every day, even if just for five minutes.

For physical goals, it’s about pushing my limits and working harder. For academic and professional goals, it’s about being more efficient and more successful, and avoiding those last-minute waves of work. For mental and spiritual goals, it’s about being more reflective and self-enforcing quiet time. Because you can make time for anything if you want to.

Do you have any resolutions? Any suggestions as to how you’ve found success with your resolutions in the past? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re new here, say hi!

If you’re in the US, and particularly in the Midwest, stay warm in this icebox. And please pray for those who are homeless or can’t stay cuddled up inside. If you’re in Chile or another region where it’s summer…just. Don’t even.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and may 2014 be your best year yet.

With love,


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The 2013 User’s Manual

(You’re getting two posts in one day because I had already written 700 words about cookies and if I had kept writing it would have been too much. This will probably be too much anyways.)

This year, I am calling my New Year’s resolutions my user’s manual or guidebook to 2013. This is because I have four pages of goals, specific actions, and motivation to achieve those goals. Yup. 4 pages.

Well, okay, 2 pages front and back.

Well, okay, 2 pages front and back.

Yeah, I’m a little nuts. I think you would have figured that out by now though.

This is how it works. I can’t just write down, “Lose weight,” or “Exercise more,” or “Eat better.” I need to have specific ways to achieve those resolutions. This year, I have five over-arching “resolutions.” They are:

1. Put good things in your body.

2. Make your body work.

3. Be pretty.

4. Work better.

5. Who are you? Be you.

(And by the way, by saying that I want to eat better and exercise more, this is not a cry for compliments. I’m not saying I hate the way I look. I don’t. I actually look better than I did in high school. But I know I could look even better, and this year, I might just do it.)

Under those five big directions- I like direction more than resolution, I guess- I have various actions that will help make 2013 the fabulously spectacular year that I want it to be.

Here’s a sampling:

Under “Put good things in your body:” I’d like to give Meatless Mondays a go. I want to try and lay off the caffeine, and keep drinking herbal tea at night. I’d like to eat less at night, so I’m going to brush my teeth earlier in the night, so I’m less tempted to grab a snack.

Under “Make your body work:” I’m already a pretty consistent exerciser, but in terms of intensity and variety, I’m missing out. So I’m going to make it hard when it gets easy. I’m going to try something that I think I might not like- like running outside in the winter, for example. I would like to do 10 real push-ups by March.

Under “Be pretty:” I’m going to try and dress nicely all the time, even if I’m just working the library all day. This helps me focus, I swear. I want to paint my nails most weeks. I’m going to play with my hair and try new things.

Under “Work better:” So I don’t get caught procrastinating too much, I’d like to brainstorm ideas for papers and projects when I just have a few minutes. I should try going to office hours. I will only go on Facebook once in the morning and once at night. I’m going to keep my to-do list concise and manageable.

Under “Be you:” I’m going to say yes more. I need to live it up more. No, dear parents and relatives, that does not mean I will be going to the bar every night. But I need to try some new things, whether it be a new exercise, different foods, or another extracurricular activity. Now is the time to do all the stuff I keep saying I’m going to do, all the stuff I think I’ll have time for later. Well, it’s later, and the time is now.

When I think or say something negative about someone, I will try to think or say something positive about them as well. I’m going to journal as much as I can. I want to compile an awesome list.

So those are the actions or things to keep in mind. Then I have actual, tangible goals I’d like to achieve, things that I can cross off and say, “Yes! I did that!”  Among those are: run 5 miles; go to Mass more than 4 times a month (aka, more than just on Sundays); take or post a photo a day; remember all of the birthdays in my family; and take a minimum of two days per month without social networking.

The last part of this is the words to live by. These are just buzzwords I’d like to keep in mind when I find myself falling into old habits and patterns. Among them: Efficiency. Brilliance. Grace. Faith. Stillness. Slowness. Chances. Patience. God. Questions. Learn. Work. Try. Challenge. Beauty.

I know it sounds like a lot, and I guess it is, but for me, this is much easier to handle than general resolutions. It makes things more concrete, and I can visualize what the end result will be. And I really like what I’m visualizing.

I haven’t done much baking since Christmas. I’ve been busy with other things, and my body feels better for it. Here’s a little of what the day-to-day has looked like, via Instagram (@gmtnunez, if you’re on that wagon and would like to follow along):

Cold and beautiful morning.

Cold and beautiful morning.

27 turkeys were in my backyard the other morning.

27 turkeys were in my backyard the other morning. No, I don’t live in the middle of nowhere.

The end of the day. I missed this.

The end of the day. I missed this.

I hope many of you have seen Forrest Gump. If not, please do and we’ll be better friends. In the movie, Forrest celebrates New Year’s in NYC with Lt. Dan and his exotic dancer “friends.” When the clock nears midnight, one of the girls says she loves New Year’s because everyone gets to start over. “Everybody gets a second chance.”

I’m feeling a little bit like that this year. I have a lot of new stuff coming up for which I’m absolutely pumped, but on the other hand, I’m also getting some second chances- with Santiago, with my studies, with some people. I want those chances.

And I’m taking them. I hope you take yours, too.

Please comment, tell me about your resolutions, what you think of mine, whatever! I do love hearing from all of you!

Happy New Year! May 2013 be your best year yet.

With love,


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