My 2017 Goals

I'm a few days late, but Happy New Year friends! I'm finding that, as I get older, the passing of time seems to move faster, and the first two weeks of 2017 have been no exception. 

Last year, I shared with you the process and tool I used to identify and set my annual goals, PowerSheets. I'm using that same tool again this year and feel really energized about what the prep work helped me to uncover! 

As I reflected on 2016, I noticed that I struggled most to achieve my goals when I tried to be something, do something, or live in some way that wasn't authentic to who I am. Hiding and minimizing what makes me unique and special doesn't help me achieve my goals. So, as a result in 2017, I'm going to focus on living a life of LESS. Less comparisons, less negativity, less spending, less worrying, less distractions. 

With this in mind, there are ten goals I've identified for this year! 


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Live with less. In 2017 I want to focus on simplifying my spaces, my closet, and my stuff. 

Why: Because too much stuff prevents me from identifying and celebrating what actually makes me happy. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will have a streamlined style and closet and find it easier to get dressed everyday. I will feel proud of my home and be intentional in what I fill it with. I will create an environment that is restful, joyful, and easy to live in. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: More relaxed and confident in how I chose to live each day. 

Allow less distractions within my marriage. In 2017 I want to focus on building more honesty, intimacy, and conversation into my relationship with Kurt.

Why: Because even though our first year of marriage was a wonderful one, we've developed some bad habits when it comes to the time we have together at the end of each day. Making this goal a priority early in our marriage will help us continue to create a strong foundation. And a strong foundation established now will only strengthen over time!
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: We will have more date nights each month. We will spend less of our meals with our eyes focused on our phones or the TV and more time talking with one another. We will have more relaxed and slow weekends. We will have a routine that maximizes time together each week. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: Secure in knowing that my relationship with Kurt is one that will continue to strengthen over time. 

Identify avenues and time for creativity and inspration. In 2017 I want to focus on giving myself the time I need for creative thought and exploration.

Why: Because I miss learning new skills on a regular basis. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will have more energy each day because of time built in for creative challenges. I will be able to share with others more about what interests and excites me. I will not feel bad ending my work day and beginning other projects when 4:30pm comes each day. I will have a new hobby I love to participate in on a regular basis. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: More well-rounded as an individual. 

Continue to work on using a budget and spending less. In 2017 I want to continue the progress I made in 2016 in learning how to use a budget and being more conscious about my spending habits. 

Why: Because I need to become more responsible and intentional with the money I earn. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: We will have more saved in our emergency fund. I will have less credit card debt. I will experience less impulses to purchase clothes when I have a closet that is already full. We will be able to plan more for our future and feel less anxious about how we will make our big dreams happen. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: More secure and less anxious about our future. 

Give my emotions less control over my eating and exercise habits. In 2017 I want to learn to live a healthier life by taking emotional choices out of my routines. 

Why: Because I only have one body and I need to start treating it well. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will have more energy on a daily basis. I will hit 250 classes at Pure Barre. I will relearn what a true portion size looks like and fill my body with wholesome and good foods. I will feel less self-conscious about my body and more confident in who I am. I will enjoy meals more by taking time to prepare them together with Kurt. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: More confident in myself and my lifestyle choices. 

Worry less while preparing for starting a family. In 2017 I want to focus less on trying to control my body and more on letting things happen at the time they are meant to.

Why: Because I can't control everything, even though I think I should be able to. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will have more faith and less stress. We will feel confident and ready to make decisions that will hopefully lead to pregnancy. After ten years of living with Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I will understand better what PCOS does to my body and how I can lessen my symptoms. I will have less fear talking about the miscarriage I had in 2016 and the resulting doubts and fears it has rooted within me. We will research other avenues for starting a family, including adoption and surrogacy, and feel confident in choosing a path that is right for us. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: At peace with whatever avenue we choose to pursue this year. 

Give more to others. In 2017 I want to find more ways to give to my community, my country, and those who need more than I do.

Why: Because I have the capacity to make great change in "my world" if I focus less on myself and more on other people.
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will think of others before I think of myself more often. I will feel more connected to the community and world I live in. I will be able to help others understand the importance of giving. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: Proud of my choices and my contributions. 

Have less fear in living a faith-driven life. In 2017 I want to let go of feeling I have to hide my belief in God. 

Why: Because I believe God is there for me and created me for a purpose. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will be more grateful in my daily life. I will be more open in talking about my beliefs. I will set time in my routine each day for reflection and talking to God. We will find a church community that reflects our values and beliefs, and supports us in our lives. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: More confident and open about my faith in God. 

Invest in my friendships. In 2017 I want to continue focusing on my friendships and spending time - both in person and virtually - with the people who matter in my life. 

Why: Because I believe we aren't meant to do life alone!
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will engage more fully in the PowerSheets online community. I will have regular call and video chat dates with friends who don't live near me. I will schedule trips to visit friends I haven't seen in a while. I will send more birthday cards and "just because" gifts to friends. I will have a stronger support network. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: More connected and invested in my friendships. 

Make You Me Serendipity more about what truly matters to me, and less about common online media trends. In 2017 I want to be more honest, open and forthcoming in this online space, and spend less time on the things that don't help me live a life rooted in subjective perfection. 

Why: Because I believe we need less "fluff" and more honesty on the internet. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will expand the "Becoming Confident" and "Giving with Meaning" series. I will seek out opportunities for partnership that are meaningful and support the idea of subjective perfection. I will write each post from a place of authenticity. I will feel confident that those who are reading will find something that positively impacts them. 
How I will feel at the end of 2017 having made progress on this goal: Further along in my goal of living a life focused on subjective perfection. 


Back in October I was chatting with some friends who I call my "PowerSheets Pals." We talked about how the end of the year was quickly approaching and with it the conclusion of a year working toward some of our goals. I told them that, "there is so much time to do some good with the rest of this year." I said those words then, and if they were true in October, they are certainly true in January!

In the spirit of doing good with the time that you have, I'm wishing for you the best rest of January and the best 2017. I'll be sending you encouragement every step of the way! 


I'd love to know - what are some of your goals for 2017? What are the tools and tricks you use to keep yourself focused and accountable for them each day? How can I help you in making 2017 one of your best years ever? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

Christmas Gingerbread Cake

If there are two things that have been generally constant in my life, they are my love of Christmas and my love of baking. Growing up in The Christmas City certainly has something to do with why I love Christmas - lighted evergreen trees mounted on lightpoles, pop-up Christmas markets and larger than life advent candles are just a way of life come the month of December in the city where I'm from. 

Similarly, baking is something my mom and I used to enjoy doing together as I was growing up. We would spend many a weekend afternoon baking cookies and other holiday desserts, often following the recipes that her mother used to use. Now, when I travel home for the holidays the tradition of baking with my mom is something I look forward to including in my visits.

My love for baking tends to intensify during the holiday season - the comfort and joy a yummy baked good can bring to a gathering of family or friends seems to match the general spirit and happiness of the holidays that I look forward to each year. And while I do still enjoy baking cookies at the holidays like I used to with my mom, my absolute favorite Christmas dessert to make is gingerbread cake served with a little bit of lemon curd. The spicy gingerbread paired with the tartness of the lemon curd is the epitome of Christmas to me. So, I'm excited to share with you my recipe for Christmas Gingerbread Cake served with Lemon Curd! 

This gingerbread cake recipe uses both freshly grated ginger as well as ground ginger, which makes it rather spicy (and is one of the reasons I love it so much!). If you don't like that level of spice in your desserts, you can always leave out the freshly grated ginger if you want to. And my secret? I add a little bit of lemon zest to the cake batter as well, which brightens the overall flavors, tempers the spice a little bit, and barely hints at what is to come with the lemon curd. Put it all together and you have a delicious Christmas treat! 

The finished cake dusted with confectioners' sugar and sliced into squares for easy snacking! 

The finished cake dusted with confectioners' sugar and sliced into squares for easy snacking! 


Christmas Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Curd

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients: 

  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for buttering your pan
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2/3 cup packed mix of light- and dark-brown sugar (a while ago, Kurt accidentally mixed our light- and dark-brown sugars into one storage container. But I think the mixture works just fine for this recipe! If you don't have yours pre-mixed like we do, use all dark-brown sugar instead.)
  • 1 cup unsulphured molasses (unsulphured molasses is typically used for baking because it doesn't include sulpher dioxide, which is added as a preservative and dulls the sweetness of the molasses. If you can't find unsulphured molasses, you can use either light or dark molasses instead. Just don't ever use blackstrap molasses as a substitute - it will be too bitter!)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your pan
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (you can subtitute ground if you don't have fresh nutmeg to grate in your kitchen!)
  • The zest of one small lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting the finished cake
  • Your favorite store-bought lemon curd, room temperature (which I think is essential for serving!)

Instructions: 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment and any exposed sides of the cake pan. You can also spray with a nonstick baking spray if you'd rather. 
  2. Add the baking soda to the bottom of a large mixing bowl. To it, add the cup of boiling water. It should foam up. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, and then stir in the butter until melted. 
  3. Whisk in the brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger. The mixture should be lukewarm, but if it still feels hot, let it stand for about 10 minutes until it has cooled further. 
  4. Sift together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt and baking powder. Set aside. 
  5. Whisk the eggs into the molasses mixture until just combined. Then, add the sifted dry ingredients, stirring the wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. 
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan; bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Transfer the cake still in the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Once fully cool, cut around the cake to make sure no parts are sticking to the sides. Flip the cake out of the pan and onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioners' sugar and cut into squares. 
  8. Serve with a spoonful of your favorite store-bought lemon curd! Or, if you don't like lemon curd for some reason, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream works well too. Enjoy!

That dollop of lemon curd is so tart - I love how it combines with the spicy flavor of the gingerbread cake! And this sweet little red-rimmed plate with a reindeer in the center is part of a set Kurt and I were given as a wedding gift. I love to use them during the holiday season! 

That dollop of lemon curd is so tart - I love how it combines with the spicy flavor of the gingerbread cake! And this sweet little red-rimmed plate with a reindeer in the center is part of a set Kurt and I were given as a wedding gift. I love to use them during the holiday season! 

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? And what's your favorite dessert to enjoy at the holidays? I'd love to hear more about your celebrations and traditions in the comments! 

our trip to Vancouver!

Last month, Kurt and I took a quick weekend trip to Vancouver, British Columbia! During our time in the Pacific Northwest we enjoyed breath-taking scenery, ate some delicious meals, and enjoyed a quick respite from the heat - yes, even at this time of year! - in Florida. It was a wonderful weekend of unplugging from our normal day-to-day lives. 

We took this quick trip because Kurt had a professional conference in Vancouver, and I had some vacation time to take advantage of. Because he had various responsibilities and sessions to attend each day, we left a lot of room for flexibility in our trip. Knowing this approach worked well for us during our longer honeymoon trip to Colorado earlier this year, it was nice to see it work again for a quick weekend trip as well! During our quick weekend we were able to participate in a couple of local activities while also having time to relax each day. 

One of the things I enjoyed most about the trip was the time I had to explore the city on my own. Kurt had sessions on the Friday of our weekend, which meant I was able to walk around the city and spend time alone. I spent a few hours in a branch of the public library, went to a Pure Barre class, and was able to meet Kurt for lunch in between! 

Something else that Kurt and I were able to enjoy together during this quick trip was the Vancouver Granville Island Public Market Foodie Tour. This two-hour tour included a variety of tastings of local food items, and was a great way to learn more about the Vancouver Public Market and surrounding area. Plus, it was a delicious way to start our Saturday! 

While it was just a quick weekend in Vancouver, Kurt and I are definitely looking forward to an opportunity to visit again. We enjoyed the city so much! Here's a little video I made highlighting some of what we did and saw during our trip. And below that, some of the favorite photos we took. Enjoy! 

On Friday morning, Kurt and I grabbed one of the most delicious breakfasts of bacon, scrambled eggs and a Belgian waffle. 

On Friday morning, Kurt and I grabbed one of the most delicious breakfasts of bacon, scrambled eggs and a Belgian waffle. 

Our little breakfast table - complete with a mantra I can live by!

Our little breakfast table - complete with a mantra I can live by!

This was the branch of the Vancouver Public Library that I spent a couple of hours in on Friday while Kurt was at his sessions. It was a beautiful building, both inside and out!

This was the branch of the Vancouver Public Library that I spent a couple of hours in on Friday while Kurt was at his sessions. It was a beautiful building, both inside and out!

A view of the downtown skyline from Granville Island where the Public Market is located.

A view of the downtown skyline from Granville Island where the Public Market is located.

Kurt, getting ready to enjoy the first of our twenty tastings during the Foodie Tour. Some of our most favorite tastes are pictured below - it was a delicious variety of meats, cheese, fruits and vegetables, and sweets!

Kurt, getting ready to enjoy the first of our twenty tastings during the Foodie Tour. Some of our most favorite tastes are pictured below - it was a delicious variety of meats, cheese, fruits and vegetables, and sweets!

My favorite part of the tasting was this spicy chai latte. I liked it so much that after the tour ended, Kurt and I went back to get a second one!

My favorite part of the tasting was this spicy chai latte. I liked it so much that after the tour ended, Kurt and I went back to get a second one!

We took a ferry boat ride to avoid some of the rain, and to take advantage of a different view of the city skyline. It was a quick and fun way to get around Vancouver!

We took a ferry boat ride to avoid some of the rain, and to take advantage of a different view of the city skyline. It was a quick and fun way to get around Vancouver!