Wednesday, June 21, 2017

summer manifesto 2017

Happy summer! I put a summer manifesto together again this year. I like to include a variety of fun, simple activities that celebrate the upcoming season in my manifestos. I refer to it when I want to do something fun on the weekend (alone or with my family). I also have a summer project that I do with my girls every year (this is our 5th year doing this). During their summer break from school, we aim to do one, fun activity every day.

Related: My Girls' Summer Break: 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013

It can be as simple as going to the library (our local library has a weekly, kids summer reading program) or as elaborate as staying at the colorful Saguaro Hotel for a few days (SUPER FUN). Like last year's summer manifesto, I gathered inspiration from our past summer break activities. (I also used the list itself as inspiration).

If you need more inspiration, take a look at some of my favorite summer bucket lists / ideas out there: Shutterbean's Summer Bucket List 2017Popsugar's Summer Happiness Challenge; The Frugal Girl's Summer Bucket List, 2017; and The Everygirl’s 2017 Summer Bucket List.
summer manifesto 2017
(Click to enlarge... the list is also below!)

This summer I plan to:
  • Go to the beach
  • Visit a national park
  • Stick to "Frozen Treat Friday" 
  • Go to the library every week
  • Go on a picnic
  • Take an early morning walk
  • Read at the beach
  • Go on a moonlit hike
  • Go stargazing
  • Paint our nails in vibrant colors
  • Eat watermelon
  • Go to the drive in
  • Set up a breakfast, yogurt bar
  • Color
  • Blast the radio
  • Make s'mores
  • Go on a road trip
  • Go night swimming
  • Begin creating a pretty backyard
  • Go hiking
  • Watch a movie at the park
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Drink smoothies
I printed out my list as I always do and stuck it up on my fridge. What are your plans this summer? I'd love to know! :)

Friday, June 9, 2017

march | april | may 2017 recap

Hi! I wasn't sure where to start because the last time I shared anything, it was the beginning of March. *cringe.* Let's catch up from where we left off. :)

I have a couple things I'd like to share from the past few months.


march | april | may 2017 recap
march | april | may 2017 recap
march | april | may 2017 recap
This year we took our youngest daughters (they're 7 and 3) to Disneyland. My parents took our older daughters (they're 13 and 11) to Universal Studios. (My older girls are big Harry Potter fans). Later that week, Jesse, our girls, and I headed up to Yosemite National Park. We stayed at the Pine's Resort, which I highly recommend. I will be sharing more details about our trip soon. I loved it! Jesse took vacation time during our daughters' spring break from school and the following week when they were in school, so we could spend time together, too. We went out for brunch, went hiking, and thrifting together. We found 2 nightstands for our bedroom for $10!
march | april | may 2017 recap
march | april | may 2017 recap


I've been decluttering our bedroom quite a bit lately. We bought the night stands as I mentioned already, a new lamp for my night stand, and jersey bedsheets (so soft!). We also moved out our old dresser. We're finally creating a bedroom we respect. That was one of my goals for March.


march | april | may 2017 recap
As I mentioned above, we went hiking during spring break. I had went hiking with my friend Kerri (on the first day of spring!) and wanted to take Jesse on the same hike because there is a pretty waterfall at the end of the hike. We went on a couple family hikes within the past couple months, as well. We hiked in Yosemite (so beautiful) and we went to Devil's Punchbowl Park (with family friends, too). Because we finally got some rain, we got to see the river at the bottom of the punchbowl. I'd like to branch out and go hiking on different, local trails this year.

Related: Tips for Hiking with KidsIdyllwild, California Trip & Mini Book


march | april | may 2017 recap
I've been trying to stick to my goal of 15 minutes a day. Some days I read more and some days I don't read at all. That's me- an all or nothing kind of person (a mentality I'm trying to change). I have read a couple nonfiction books this year including Present over Perfect. I posted a couple of inspiring quotes from the book on Instagram (also here).

(If we're not friends on Instagram, I think we should be! @jessicarrodarte).

Annihilation has been the first fiction book I've read this year. I read through fiction much faster than nonfiction. As I said on Instagram, "Annihilation is a thriller about an uninhabited, unusual area- Area X. Expeditions have gone to Area X to study it. All expedition members have died under mysterious circumstances- one group commits mass suicide, another returns and gets cancer within a few months, etc. Annihilation is about the experience of the 12th expedition. I learned after I read Annihilation that it isn't only a thriller, but a horror, as well. I never read horror. Ha. I enjoyed it though. And I'm looking forward to the film in 2018 starring Natalie Portman. Now I'm off to read the second book in the series."

Related: my last Book Report | 10 Tips for Reading More Books | Reading the Books Before I Watch the Movies | Goal-Setting


It's been more than a year since I've shared anything about My Weight Loss Toolbox. (Read through some of my favorite posts). To catch you up (kind of), I've maintained a fairly active lifestyle. I try to go to Zumba every week and as you've already read, I go hiking from time to time. I have a Fitbit and I aim to reach 10,000 steps a day. And I try to eat well and within reason. I rejoined Weight Watchers a couple months ago. I have been going to the meetings. I really love the "Weekly" magazine and I appreciate the topic every week. I have lost a couple pounds this year- not much, but it's still something! Weight Watchers is a very significant tool in my weight loss toolbox.


I've decided to try the 9x12" album for this year's memory keeping. I bought a 12x12" book and my brother-in-law cut down to a 9x12" for me and for my sister, too. My sister Jasmine is also using a 9x12" book and had the idea of cutting it down after seeing this tutorial. I finally cleaned my work space (no easy feat, friends) and am ready to do this. I want to make time for this and intend to do so! I miss it.


march | april | may 2017 recap
(photo credit: my sister-in-law Jenna)
My sister Jasmine and her husband hosted a Mother's Day brunch for the moms in our family. It was really sweet. Jesse and my girls got me a gift basket with my favorite candy, gift cards to some of my favorite places, and some new houseplants. They know me! The week before Mother's Day, Addy (she's 7) gave me handwritten notes daily. I was really touched. It made me think about how those handwritten notes come to an end at some point. I decided to give my mom a handwritten note with a picture I colored. I hope my daughters never stop giving me handwritten, illustrated, and/or colored notes. My primary love language is paper crafting words of affirmation, after all.


I mentioned my sister Jasmine's pregnancy last year, but didn't share that my nephew Jeremiah was born in September! He just turned 8 months old and I can't get enough of his adorable smiles and curious eyes. I have been watching him for my sister, who is now working part time. My sister posts many pictures of him on her Instagram if you'd like to see more of him. :) My brother-in-law does on his Instagram, too.

Related: An Unorthodox List of Newborn Baby Must-Haves | Gender Reveal Party


march | april | may 2017 recap
(Addy's 1st grade teacher shared the picture on the right)
march | april | may 2017 recap
march | april | may 2017 recap
My daughters keep me very busy. If you don't know, I have 4 daughters- 13, 11, 7, and 3. The last, several months have been very, very busy with Lani, my oldest, going into high school this school year and Evie going into middle school. Addy will be starting second grade. Juli is still at home with me and she is currently learning to write her name. :) My older girls have had many school functions and projects and extracurricular activities- awards for academic excellence and attendance (so proud), Principal of the Day reward for reaching 500 AR points (Evie, you did it!), science fair projects (Evie won third place for hers), track meets, Muffins with Mom/Donuts with Dad breakfasts, plays, various fields trips, sushi dates, etc. It's a whirlwind of activity.


Jesse and I have been working on making time to date each other. We enjoy movie/dinner dates, hiking together, brunching, watching TV shows together multiple times a week, etc. A couple weekends ago, we headed to Death Valley to stargaze. "Death Valley National Park harbors some of the darkest night skies in the United States." I was awestruck by the Milky Way. Jesse and his family went when he was young. He said when he got out there and looked up at the stars, he was taken aback by how many stars there were and how bright they were. He wanted to share that experience with me. I'm glad he did. It was beautiful and I want to go back soon.

Sorry this is longer than my typical post. I had so much to share after 3 months of not posting anything. Summer break is here and I am looking forward to our daily, fun activities. I hope I'm more faithful to sharing our activities than last year. ;)

Related: My Girls Summer Break/Kids' Activities: 20162015 | 2014 | 2013
|| Memory Keeping: Summer 2015 2014 2013

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

march 2017 goals

march 2017 goals
At the beginning of the month, I look over my overarching goals/projects/resolutions for the year, and set monthly goals with those goals in mind. This year I hope to read at least 15 min. every day; exercise (and reach 10,000 steps a day); document our memories; declutter and "redecorrange" our homeeat mindfully (eat more greens + vegetables and eat healthy desserts); drink more water; embrace routine; and blog often.*

This month I'm inspired to:
  • Create a bedroom I respect
    • Our bedroom is a catch-all. It's bad. I want a bedroom that feels calming at the end of the day. I need to begin by decluttering problem areas.
  • Increase my reading time
    • to at least 30 minutes a day. I'm aiming to read both a life-enriching book and a book for fun at a time.
  • Clean out my inbox
    • I'm tackling 50 emails a day. Yes, I have that many. Some of it's junk, and it's overwhelming.
  • Go running
    • Rather than incorporating strength/interval training, I'm opting to run instead. I ran at a slow pace twice last month for 40 minutes at a time. I really enjoyed it. 
  • Look into a new album size for memory keeping
    • I need some more creativity in my life. I'm looking to change up my 2017 memory keeping album to inspire me. I think I'm actually going to get some memory keeping done this month.
*I blogged about each of those goals in more detail at the beginning of the year here: January 2017 Goals. I set monthly goals to get more specific with my yearly goals. There may be something inspiring me this month, for example, that won't work (or I'm not feeling) at another time of the year. I talked about my goal-setting process in more detail here: Goal- Setting: 2016

Monday, February 27, 2017

greek yogurt 52 ways: #38 banana split milkshake

greek yogurt 52 ways: # 38 banana split milkshake
I came across this banana split milkshake recipe from Yoplait a couple of weeks ago, and thought I'd hang on to the recipe until summer when it would make more sense to have a delicious, frozen treat. I didn't wait obviously. I just had to try it now. That's how I am with sweets. I have very little self-control when it comes to sweets. That's exactly why I'm doing this Greek yogurt 52 ways project. I need to have healthy dessert substitutes at the ready.
greek yogurt 52 ways: # 38 banana split milkshake
For this milkshake I modified this recipe. Combine 1 cup of frozen strawberries; 1 banana (save a couple of slices for later); 1/2 cup of vanilla, Greek yogurt; and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk (I used almond milk). Blend until smooth and finally, top with whipped cream (I think the nonfat whipped cream tastes just as great), banana slices, and chocolate syrup.
greek yogurt 52 ways: # 38 banana split milkshake
This milkshake was on point. Creamy and delicious. I think next time around I will freeze my own ripe strawberries to increase sweetness. Sometimes store-bought, frozen strawberries seem like they were frozen when they weren't quite ripe yet. At any rate, Juli, my toddler, caught me in the middle of making this milkshake and demanded her own cup. She sweetly demanded whipped cream and said, "I need a straw!" She really liked it. I did, too!

Have any Greek yogurt, dessert (or breakfast!) recipes you'd like to share? Please leave your recipes or links in the comments. :)

If you try a recipe I share, be sure to let me know! Use the hashtag: #greekyogurt52ways.

**I'm making Greek yogurt 52 ways. Read about why I'm doing this project right here and read about the health benefits of Greek yogurt right here. See all of the ways I've incorporated Greek yogurt into my dessert or breakfast so far here. I recently completed a 52 sandwiches project. Read more about that project here.**
greek yogurt 52 ways: # 38 banana split milkshake

Friday, February 24, 2017

five on friday | book report

I read a grand total of 15 books last year. (It beats 0 from a couple years ago!) Reading books for 15 min. a day has been one of the greatest habits I've established. This is my third year sticking to this project. I shared a couple of the books I read last year in my last book report. Today I'll be sharing the rest of what I read.

1. The Mountain Between Us
book club :: the mountain between us | discussion questions (chapters 1 - 13)
A couple of us read The Mountain Between Us for the book club I hosted last year. The book is about two strangers Ben and Ashley whose plane crash requires them to depend on each other for survival. I couldn't put this book down. I was really into the whole survival story. There are beautiful settings in the novel, and I thought Charles Martin did well describing the the High Uintas Wilderness, where most of the novel is set. My complaint is that I wanted more depth to the characters. (This is my typical complaint so you know). I found Ben and Ashley to be a little flat. I would still recommend it though. I invite you to watch the movie with the rest of us who read it in October. :)

2. The Rosie Effect
the rosie effect
I picked up The Rosie Effect after reading its prequel The Rosie Project (which I loved and highly recommend). The Rosie Effect is also a contemporary romance novel following the marriage of quirky, genetics professor Don and graduate student Rosie. Rosie is pregnant and Don makes a series of mistakes throughout her pregnancy creating various conflicts between them. Though I enjoyed portions of it, and thought it was funny, I wasn't as smitten by the sequel as I was the prequel.

3. Fangirl
I am a fan of Rainbow Rowell's books. She writes young adult novels. I read Eleanor & Park from Rainbow Rowell after having read that it was going to be made into a movie. (It's not being made into a movie as of right now). I gave a short review of E&P in my last book report. Fangirl is about Cath, a college-aged introvert, who writes fanfiction (hence the title). Cath doesn't cope well with starting college and being separated from her too independent twin sister and her overly dependent dad. I really liked this book. I appreciate the complexity and depth of Rainbow Rowell's characters. I'm thinking I need to pick up another book from her soon.

4. All the Bright Places
This book is about Theodore, a depressed teen with a troubled home life, who meets Violet, who comes from a good home, but is also depressed following the death of her sister. They are both high school students and follow very different crowds. I didn't love this book. I didn't think Theodore was realistic. He was depressed, but also life-giving and inspiring? I found that hard to buy.

5. I read several nonfiction books last year because I'm all for personal growth. I read Boundaries in Marriage by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend after having read their book Boundaries. I can't recommend this book enough to married couples and those looking to get married. I also read their book Safe People last year. I am currently reading their book Boundaries with Teens. It's safe to say I'm a fan of their books. I've learned so much. At the end of last year, I read The 5 Love Languages, which I've read in the past, but decided to reread. If you're not familiar, this book is about learning to speak your spouse's love language in order to communicate that you love them effectively. It's simple and straightforward. I think it's a good resource for committed relationships.

Have you read any good books lately? Please share some recommendations. :)

10 Tips for Reading More Books
Questionnaire about Reading Habits
My Current Hobby - Reading the Books Before I Watch the Movies