64.Document German trip with a scrapbook (in progress)

I have so many postcards, tickets and other “stuff” from my trip to Germany that to build a scrapbook with all this coupled with my 1400 photos is just impossible.

So I took the first step in preserving the memories of my once-in-a-lifetime trip.  At first I thought about throwing everything in a box, but that didn’t seem to do the memories justice.  I’d been wanting to transform a vintage train case project (ala Pinterest), but those little guys are hard to find.  As a result, I found an alternative while browsing one of my local thrift stores – a “vintage” cassette tape case.  It looks like a miniature suitcase.

Before I did anything, I disassembled the case and took out the cassette tray as well as the icky gold lining that was coming apart anyway.

But before I go any further with this blog post, please note:  I’m a messy crafter.  And my photos reflect that.  I have a feeling others are messy crafters, but simply photoshop or set up a serene scene so you feel guilty about multiple glues, paper and pens strewn about while you’re doing the same.  We’re keeping it real here people, so be prepared.

After I took everything apart inside the case, I placed the whole thing out in the sunshine with about a tablespoon of baking soda for 2 to 3 hours.  I had to get that Goodwill smell out of it (and since I purchased this case at the Blue Hanger Goodwill outlet, it had plenty of that smell).

While the sunshine did its work, I took the lining I had disassembled and used it as a template for creating some fresh lining using a black and white check fabric I had in my craft stash.

I just drew around the old lining with a red sharpie and cut.  When I had two lining cutouts, I brought my case back in after disposing of the baking soda and giving everything a quick wipe down with a damp cloth.

I placed on both sides of the case a piece of 8.5 x 11 heavy cardstock to give it a bit of a stability and smooth surface to adhere the fabric to. I used my trusty glue gun to place the cardstock in the bottom.  Make sure to put enough glue in the corners to maximize the sticking.

Now it was time to put in the fabric.  Spray adhesive works best – a glue gun would make it bumpy.  After a quick all over shot with the adhesive (outdoors of course!) I smoothed the fabric in the bottom and then up the sides.  Any extra fabric was simply given a quick trim.

I still had some icky gold (no accounted for with my template; the sides of the case were not attached to the piece I pulled out as my template).  A quick round around the case though with my glue gun and some black ribbon did the trick through and finished the inside off nicely.

Now to decorate the front!  I pulled out some scraps of my black and white fabric and coupled it with some brochures, maps, tickets and postcards.  Since the case is pretty small, I couldn’t put WHOLE postcards on there; so instead, I took a few postcards with smaller images on them and cut them apart.  The leftovers will be perfect for my scrapbooking effort too.

Then I laid everything out.  I love the little guy who tells you to walk in East Germany!  He added his charm to my little memory case.

Just a quick note:  In hindsight, I probably should have turned everything around to face the other day so that when I pick up the suitcase, everything is right side up.  Right now, it is all upside down when I pick it up by the handle.  But, since I am displaying this lying down, it doesn’t bother me.  Something to consider if you make your own memory case.

Then, I Modge-Podged away!  I gave the whole front a good coat so any matte effect would be consistent all over instead of just on the imagery.  Some of the postcard pieces were a bit thick and would not lay flat.  So I just gave them a couple of beads from the glue gun when the Modge Podge dried.

While the case was drying, I decided how to organize my “stuff.” The majority of it could be divided into different cities we visited.  I decided that I would tag everything with a tag made from cardstock, leftover black and white material and good ol’ fusible web.

Simply, I ironed an entire piece of fusible web to the wrong side of my fabric.

After peeling off the protective liner, I then ironed the material (right side up) to the coverstock. Viola! Homemade paper.

Then I took one of my tag templates (I’ve only bought one package of these.  I love to make my own tags) and cut out the tags I needed.

Add a hole with a hole punch, pen the city name and add some ribbon and there’s your custom tag for labeling your “stuff.”

I had some great travel-theme ribbon (Thank you Big Lots for this 40 cent bargain!) that I used to tie all my postcards, tickets and brochures together and added the tag.

There were a few things that didn’t go into my city tag organization, like the newspaper I bought on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Those simply were put in the bottom of the case – they really don’t need a lot of explanation.

I then packed everything in.  Cute and organized!

I am really happy with the final piece.  It has a home on top of my chest at the end of my bed.

This trip was such a remarkable experience that I’m glad to have this little reminder out to see daily. It also reminds me of all the fun I had with my sweet family.

Now it’s time to finish this task.  On to the scrapbook…just as soon as I am able to cull through all 1400 of my photos!

60. Try coconut water


I finally did it.  After hearing all the praises of coconut water, how good it is and the health benefits of drinking it, I finally bit the bullet and drank it.  I mean I like coconut.  I like water.  Why wouldn’t I like the combination of the two?

Yeah, I found out that I like coconut when it is paired with chocolate, not necessarily water.  Texas sheet cake, Almond Joy, even Mounds (or the German version, Bounty) are awesome and mostly because of the addition of coconut.  But when you pair that coconut with water, I’m not necessarily thrilled.

I bought my coconut water from Central Market.  Now let’s face it people, I’ve never had anything from Central Market I didn’t like.  But the coconut water has a bit of a “full” taste to it.  It’s a lot of coconut to consume.  I’m obviously not a food critic (although some of my friends would say I’m a food snob), so I can’t describe the full icky-ness to it.  I choked down the entire bottle, but I was feeling extremely refreshed at the bottles graphic elements would suggest.  Instead, I had a bit of a rumbly tummy coupled with a bad after taste that didn’t go away until I ate a greasy offering offered in the cafeteria that day.

Some have told me that if I had the coconut water paired with mango or another tropical fruit, my experience would have been better.  But I concluded that at the price of $1.50 a bottle and 60 calories, I’m really better off with plain water in a glass, that I get for free and has no calories.  But it’s been tried, and I would always wonder when I passed in on the shelf at Central Market or Whole Foods.  Now I know I can leave it on the shelf.

55. Watch “The Godfather”

***SPOILER ALERT — I don’t go into immense detail, but if you want to watch the movie, you should probably do that before you read this post. I don’t want to ruin it for you.

Wow, I’m not a big movie watcher, but I’m glad I finally put this on a list to watch. What a cinematic masterpiece. Really. I thought I was going to be in for a shoot ‘em up, blood and guts type of movie. And granted, that horse head scene is traumatic, but once you get past that scene, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

And Al Pacino, do you not love Michael? Wow, not only was he awesome in the movie, but who knew ol’ Al was such a hottie when he was younger?

Al Pacino’s hotness aside, and the almost 3 hours I spent in front of my laptop watching this movie, it really was all it was cracked up to be. Discussing it with my co-worker the next day, I got insights on how the book and movie measure up. He was telling me that the baptism scene was really a beautiful scene the way it switched from the baptism to all the hits that Michael was putting out. And the irony of Michael renouncing the devil as each man falls…cinematic beauty.

If you’re like me and haven’t sat through “The Godfather,” you really should. I implore you to watch it at your earliest convenience. You won’t be disappointed.

34. Listen to classical music only for a day

Words. Words. Words.  Really, where would my life be without words?  I speak them all day long, I write them and I use them constantly to sway clients, talk to peers and gossip with friends.  My life revolves around words.

But what if we took out the words and just left the music?  What would happen?  Listening to classical music for a day wasn’t too bad, but for some reason, I felt alone, introspective.  When I commute home or when I’m working on a tedious task in my cube, I usually do listen to songs with words.  It’s like I give my mind a break, let someone else (like Bono, John Mayer or, even at times, flipping Adele) take the reins for a minute.  Let them do the thinking and I lose myself in their thoughts instead of my own.

With classical music, it’s different.  There are no words, or in some cases, words, but ones that are not in your vernacular.  And you’re left with the music, which, don’t get me wrong, is beautiful.  But it interlaces with your thoughts.  Your memories.  Your inner self.  Somehow, it is not the usual escape that the worded songs give you.  It’s a bit scary at times.   You can get a bit to the raw center of your –ness.   The place you’re usually trying to avoid.

So what did I listen to during my 24-hours of classical music?  Well, first, and I didn’t know this, in Austin, there is a classical music station, KMFA.  It’s a beautiful station, which is a lot like our NPR station KUT in that it is listener supported and there are no commercials.  Thank goodness there are DJs every once in a while to get you out of your introspective haze.

Once I got to work, I actually have a pretty large collection of classical music on my iPod.  So I listened to that for awhile including some beautiful music from Wittenburg, Germany.  It was mostly Bach organ music from the same church that Martin Luther was the minister at.  Good German, Lutheran music. I love it.

But after awhile, I needed that DJ atmosphere again.  And, most of my classical music I’ve heard before, so I wanted to expand a bit.  I went to the App store and found a station out of NYC, WQXR.  Not only did it tell me what was playing, but it showed me how long the song was going to be.  And there were some doozies!  I was entranced by the “Cinderella Suite” for over 20 minutes.  (Sorry, I should have written down the composer’s name; really, whoever wrote that must have/had a beautiful soul).

I’m not quite sure if I can say I thoroughly enjoyed my day of classical music or not.  But I did gain an appreciation for the music part of songs without the words to rely on.   But, man, I really need those words to get through the day sometimes.

The morning after this quest, I jumped in my car, ready for some words.  And wow, they didn’t disappoint.  My trip to work was a plethora of U2, REM, The Cure (!) and even Tracy Chapman showed up!  It was great!  And I even welcome Adele with open arms.  Thanks for the words guys.  Thanks for the escape.

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54.Have a money-free weekend

Whew, I had a money free weekend a couple of weekends ago, and I’m glad to say I made it.  Having a money-free weekend has crossed my mind several times.  I’ve read several articles about doing it and seen it on several of those TLC shows where they show the ultimate cheapskates.  (Okay, those people have like money-free existences).

I actually wasn’t planning to have a money-free weekend so early in the year; it came by accident and was due to a shortage of funds.  Every January, I put myself on a fiscal diet (as well as a physical diet).  I make out my little list and try to stick to a budget.  For the most part, I usually do okay, but January was a hard month!  It’s my birthday month as well as several relatives’ and friends’ birthdays.  So many presents were bought.  And three other words happen in January: After Christmas Sales. Yeah.  Somehow I can never pass up cheap ribbon, paper and craft supplies.  It’s an addiction.  Do you hear that TLC?  An addiction. (insert contract for a reality series here).

So by the last week of January, I was down to no money in my grocery, discretionary or even gas fund.  And the small cushion in my bank account was below the level I like it to be at.  So money-free weekend it was.

So, first off, that meant I went straight home that Friday night.  No plush happy hours, no appetizers, no nice meal out.  Since I couldn’t have food out, I decided I would make my own meal.  Thus started the cooking and baking frenzy.  I cooked a phyllo dough pizza, banana bread with peanut butter and chocolate chips and a bean casserole with cornbread.  The next day, I whipped up some egg muffins (sans any carbs) and used some leftover spinach and zucchini for a quick pasta dish.  Everything was found in my fridge or pantry.  Most of the veggies came from my weekly delivery (made on Wednesdays) from a local farm, Johnson’s Backyard.

The cooking/baking frenzy

Believe it or not, cooking kept me busy most of the weekend.  It was amazing how time passed quickly while you’re combining ingredients, looking up recipes and tasting, boiling and baking.  I have to say I had a great time and learned a lot.  I’ve been trying to amp up my cooking abilities, especially with fresh veggies.  And with a money-free weekend, it’s a little bit like competing on “Chopped.”  I couldn’t run out and buy ingredients, so I had to use what I had on hand.  Luckily, most of the stuff I have on hand is pretty common and connections can be made pretty easily.  There are no rocky-mountain oysters in my freezer.

I also kept myself occupied by readying some decorations for my co-workers baby shower.  I have to say, they came out pretty cute.  All the papers were found in my craft closet.  I love the look of old school paper chains, so I spent the weekend cutting and making those.  I also was able to spell out the baby-to-be’s name in a garland with my beloved Cricut.  And the most time consuming was making the animal mobile out of fishing line, beads I had in my craft closet and some old die cuts I found that I covered in scrapbook paper. I love making decorations for an event.  Without money in the way, I used what I had on hand and wasn’t tempted to go out and buy new papers or decorations.  Instead, I really had to dig and use what I had on hand.  It also cleared a bit of clutter out of my craft closet!

Shower decorations for my co-worker

In the time that I wasn’t crafting or cooking, I was cleaning some nooks and crannies that had long been neglected, catching up on my DVR and watching DVDs that were given to me as gifts.  Oh, and spending time with my number one guy of course!

My number 1 guy!

I know a lot of blogs will tell you about all the free stuff that you can take advantage of in your town and ways of being social and money free.  But, since it was winter and I’d just gone through the whole Christmas/birthday flurry of social activities, it was nice to just have a weekend to myself.  I was able to accomplish a lot without the three to four hour weekly trip to the grocery store, Target and whatever specialty shop.

And I showed myself that you can survive without spending a cent.  A novel idea I know, but I did it!  Nothing I really want to try again on purpose, but at least I know if I blow my budget, I’ll be able to make it through without the aid of money providing me entertainment.

65. Jog One Mile (in progress)

Some of the items on my lists are not a simple outing, flick of a keyboard or a bit of light reading.  Some of my goals are actually big goals.  Jogging one mile may be the biggest undertaking on this list.

When I returned from Germany in September, I was about 60 pounds lighter than I had been in quite awhile.  I had done it all on my own through eating right and exercising daily (and a lot of Zumba!).  But I was looking for a new challenge.

Enter my sweet co-worker.  She invited me to join a group called ATX100 that is sponsored by Run-Tex, an Austin owned and operated running store.  This simple invitation has opened quite a few doors for me.

Not only have I made some great friends through ATX100, but I’ve also found that fitness and exercise are fun. And, oh my gosh, this town has enough 5ks and other runs to keep me motivated.  And my team members are a constant source of encouragement to sign up for those runs/walks.

Although lately I’ve taken a slight “sabbatical” from my weight loss and fitness activities, I am starting to recognize that in order to achieve this goal by the end of the year, I’m going to need to some heavy duty conditioning. As a result, I’ve been going to my ATX workouts on a regular basis again.

I can walk for what seems like miles and miles, but to run, (to borrow a phrase from one of my fellow ATXers) that comes light post by light post.  I haven’t hit too many light posts yet, but I’m hoping by the end of the year, I can take on a mile of them.

57. Take the bus to work

Waiting, waiting, waiting on the bus.

My commute each day to work is 45 minutes to an hour to two hours. Austin traffic is just that ridiculous. I’ve been threatening to take the bus for two years and see if I can experience a stress-free commute. So, naturally, the thought crossed my mind to add this little adventure to my task list.
In actuality, I can’t take the bus fully to work. Since I literally live 4 miles outside of the Austin city limits, I would have to drive and find a place to store my car during the day in order to cross this off my list. Therefore, one morning, I drove my car to a nearby shopping center which had ample parking and a bus stop. Thus my journey began.

Yes, to get to work by 8 a.m., I had to catch the bus at 6:10 a.m. True to my very nature, I waited until the last possible moment to leave my house, which meant I was flying through the dark streets toward the bus stop. But I made it with literally two minutes to spare. I had a few issues trying to put my dollar into the slot, but the bus driver kindly showed this newbie the way.

The trip to work was pretty uneventful. Although I did learn that I should probably not sit in the seats reserved for the handicap and senior citizens. Not just because they are reserved for special patrons, but because with three seats in a row, you are more likely to have to sit next to other people, including those who’s showering habits may not be the most desirable. But no harm; for the most part they kept a courtesy seat between us.

I made my connection successfully and got on my next bus. Again, the ride was pretty uneventful, but this time I made my way to a seat near the back and the rest of the drive was again uneventful. Got off at my stop and made my way into work. Total cost: $2.

The ride home had more of an adventure to it. First, I had to take the pitying look of co-workers who offered to drive me home, drive me to the bus stop or just give me a funny look. But this was my adventure and I had to complete this commute by myself. So, I walked across the highway to the park and ride.

I made my way onto an express bus. This is the luxury of public transportation, with quite a price tag. It costs $2.75 to take this vessel. And with free Wi-Fi and the cushy seats, I can’t quite blame them for the elevated price. The first half of my commute home was quiet because this bus has fewer stops and even fewer patrons.

The one beauty of riding the bus is you can lose yourself in a project or book and not notice the traffic you’re sitting in. If you were in your own car, this is the type of traffic that would have you gnashing your teeth and elevating your blood pressure. So, to my surprise, I looked up and found that we were near my stop. Someone had already hit the “Stop” button, so I simply had to get off the bus. Low and behold though, as I was standing there ready to exit the bus, my connecting bus was pulling away from the stop. Okay, don’t panic.

If you’ve ever traveled with me, you know my constant fear is missing my connecting flights. No one goes to the restroom, buys a magazine or even looks around the terminal until we have made it to our connecting gate and have verified at least twice the time that the plane will load. After that, you are free to roam about the airport, but you have to make it to that connecting flight first and foremost. I wasn’t always like this, but once you’ve done the Philadelphia to Atlanta to Houston to Austin flight, you never miss your connection again.

So you can imagine my brief state of panic as I watched that bus pull away. One thing about taking the bus in your own town is that you know a handful of people who will come pick you up at any given time should your travels go a bit wayward (I do have some great friends). But I wasn’t giving up. I knew another bus would come around eventually, I just wasn’t sure when. So, without a board to look up the next departure, I simply just sat on the bench and waited.

Luckily, the bus had dropped me on the Drag, the street that borders the University of Texas and contains all the fun shops and eateries that attract college kids. And there were kids all around me wandering up and down the drag. Talk about feeling old. I love catching snippets of 18-20 somethings. *Sigh* Life was once simple.

But while I was there, encountering the youth of America, I began to think how old I must look to them. Tired from a long day of work and sitting on a bus stop, I’m sure I looked ancient to them.

Then, it really hit me.

That day was “veggie day” at work where the local farm visits and drops off your vegetables for the week. I had forgotten about veggie day, but gladly took my new veggies with me to prepare at home.
Well, if you can imagine, adding a veggie bag to my ensemble was not doing anything for my personal style. There I was, sitting at the bus stop with my cross body purse around me, backpack equipped with anything I might need in a bus emergency: laptop, two books, raincoat, umbrella, make-up bag, pens, journal, water bottle secured in the side pocket etc…you can imagine. And then my reusable grocery bag packed with vegetables, namely green onions. That were very ripe. And smelly.

I sat at the bus stop as the ancient bag lady that smelled like onions.

Once I embraced my new role though, I thoroughly enjoyed sitting there and taking in the hustle and bustle of the Drag. It was a beautiful day, and Austin is quite the beautiful city, even in its busy spots. My next bus came and I boarded and made my way back to my car. Total cost: $3.75.

I really enjoyed my bus ride, and since have taken the bus several more times. I mostly take it on Fridays when traffic is excruciating. I could probably devote an entire blog to my travels on the bus. I see so many colorful people. All of them nice. Some of them are doing their best to keep Austin weird. But to someone who lives her life going from home to cube each day, it puts a bit of color in my life. And it always feels like an adventure. You never know who you’re going to meet or have a conversation with. And with someone else driving, you have time to look around at the city, read billboards and signs that tell you about events that are coming up and find new places you’ve never been to or even seen. And mostly, you have time to yourself to think, read and simply breathe without traffic frustrations. All for $5.75. That’s a cheap price to pay for a bit of peace.

Where there is a list…

Let’s start at the beginning.  When I hit junior high, I really thought about what I wanted to do with my life.  But, when you’re 13 years old, that’s a monumental task.  From that moment on, I tried on as many hats as the public school system would allow: journalist, teacher, nurse, doctor, astronaut, politician, mother, wife, writer…the list goes on and on of all the things I dreamed of being.  By the time I turned 17 and was ready to really start planning for a life, I only had two certain goals:

1.)    Attend Texas Lutheran University and graduate.

2.)    To someday go to Germany and see where my grandfather was born.

Fast forward 19 years.  It’s been 14 years since I crossed the stage and received my BA from Texas Lutheran and if you know me at all, you know that TLU is still a big part of my life. It’s been 5 months since I left Berlin after two and a half weeks of living with my German family and stomping on the same grounds as my grandfather.  Two consistent dreams I have had since my childhood have been completed.

But now what?  What do I do now?  I remember the summer and fall after I graduated from Texas Lutheran.  Granted, that was a huge, earth shattering event for a young 22 year old, but I hit a severe depression.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do or take on next.  That same feeling hit me this January.  I’ve done what I set out to do as a teenager.  I’m done…what next?

My life has been an act of wearing so many hats.  I’ve enjoyed most of them and goodness knows I have picked up a lot of knowledge and wonderful, eclectic friends along the way.  But I need a new goal in life, one to take me (gulp) into my forties and see me through a couple of decades.  But I haven’t had many consistent dreams since I was in high school.  Somehow when we all become adults, we stop thinking of new things to do and challenges to undertake.  Life becomes a series of waking up each morning, going to work, possibly seeing some old friends and then going to bed.

This is not where I want to take my life.  Since I don’t have the boundaries and opportunities of exploring new things through school (and goodness knows, I’m not ready to go back down that path again), I’ve constructed a list of seventy-two things that I would like to complete in 2012.  Why 72?  Well, I turned 36 this past January, and feel like I’ve been caught in the cycle I just described of work, friends and going to bed.  I want to live life to the potential times two!  If I do twice as many things as my age, maybe I’ll get to my next goal quicker than before.

Nothing on this list is earth shattering.  Some of it might sound like things I’ve done before, some of are things you would never think I would ever attempted.  It’s a mix of old and new.  Old to remember who I was and what I enjoyed doing when I was younger.  New to recognize that I’m really not THAT old yet and am still up for a bit of adventure.

Please don’t see this list as a bucket list.  I’m not planning on dying this year or in the next couple of decades.  This list also has an expiration date.  Everything will be completed before December 31, 2012.  It’s just a list to get me to the next level by exploring the things I use to love with the things I could potentially love.

This list was constructed with a lot of help from others.  And also in the confines of my own brain.  It also involves heavily the city that I love and have lived in for the past 10 years.  I have taken my surroundings for granted and need to incorporate them into my future.  It’s also just a hodge podge and a lot of those things I’ve said, “I’ll do one day.”  This is the year the procrastination ends.

This blog will be my accountability and record of the completion of each of these tasks.  And also, hopefully, lead me to where I want to venture next in life.

72 to-dos

  1. Take a hike at Bright Leaf
  2. Read a science blog
  3. Listen to a different radio station for an entire day
  4. Buy someone else’s favorite album
  5. Take a new friend to lunch
  6. Go to a new bar by yourself
  7. Go to an art gallery
  8. Visit a friend in another city
  9. Write a letter to a friend
  10. Write an email to a friend
  11. Facebook an old friend randomly
  12. Go to a poetry slam
  13. Go to a new coffee shop
  14. Watch a documentary
  15. Walk a 10k
  16. Go see a live music show
  17. Listen to a financial podcast
  18. Listen to an animal friendly podcast
  19. Listen to an environmentally friendly podcast
  20. Buy reusable Ziplocs
  21. Take goddaughter to the movies
  22. Buy an itunes recommends song
  23. Draw a picture
  24. Write a poem
  25. Watch a home repair video on youtube
  26. Visit Zilker gardens
  27. Go to Barton Springs
  28. Go to a play at Zilker
  29. Browse a new boutique/store
  30. Call an old friend
  31. Try Ethiopian food
  32. Try to cook Indian food
  33. Try to cook Thai food
  34. Listen to classical music only for a day
  35. See a classical music performance
  36. Visit the Capitol at midnight
  37. Go to a UT library
  38. Visit the Ransom Center
  39. Tour the Tower
  40. Go to a Roller Derby game
  41. Try moonshine
  42. Go to a movie at the Paramount
  43. Go to a B-scene at the Blanton museum
  44. Visit Texas Memorial museum
  45. Take Mom for a pedicure
  46. Take Mom for a surprise lunch
  47. Teach Dundee to speak
  48. Volunteer at a pet shelter
  49. Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  50. Handmake Christmas cards
  51. Host a game night
  52. Go to a downtown ornate church
  53. Do one meet-up.com
  54. Have a money-free weekend
  55. Watch “The Godfather”
  56. Go to Round Top or Canton Market days
  57. Take the bus to work
  58. One day of no TV
  59. Go to an art museum presentation
  60. Try coconut water
  61. Write a research paper (circa 6th grade) on Einstein
  62. Finish a cross stitch project
  63. Go to a non-Lutheran church
  64. Document German trip with a scrapbook
  65. Jog one mile
  66. Google Timothy Geithner and read/research him for 2 hours
  67. Paddle boat/Kayak Lady Bird Lake
  68. Do a 5k in a small town
  69. Ride a bike around Lady Bird Lake/downtown
  70. Go vegetarian for a week
  71. Complete 2012 booklist
  72. Develop a blog and maintain