101 things in 1001 days

I heard about the 101 things in 1001 days concept from Kendra Adachi of The Lazy Genius Collective (new discovery that I really enjoy). She chatted with the gals of Around The Table Podcast (long-time listener to this fun podcast) about a new version of goal setting that focuses on joy not productivity.

She created a list of 101 things she wanted to do in 1001 days. The idea is not unique to Kendra, but I loved her spin on it and immediately started thinking of my 101 things. As someone who tends to idolize productivity and have unrealistic expectations of myself, I resonated with her idea that goals/lists should be life-giving not soul-sucking.

Kendra does a much better job (and is much more inspiring) explaining her take on 101 things in 1001 days, so if this appeals to you at all, listen to this podcast (discussion starts at 11:15 ) and read this blog post.

In the meantime, here’s my list!

101 things in 1001 days


  • Realistic.
  • Something that would truly bring me joy.
  • Not a to-do list item.
  • Something I would look forward to accomplishing.
  • No habits. (Not make my bed/floss everyday)
  • Specific. There had to be a measurable amount.

Start Date: February 3rd, 2016

End Date: October 31st, 2018

  1. Compile a month of dinners we love for each season. This would make meal planning so much easier.
  2. Create and wear a capsule wardrobe for at least one season. I’ve been intrigued by this concept for a while. I especially like Lindsay’s take on it.
  3. Ask 10 friends what their favorite book is and read it. Bookish friends, I’m coming for you…
  4. Go wine tasting with Tim. There’s several wineries practically in our backyard that we want to check out.
  5. Take a train ride with the family. Either Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway or the Hawk Mountain Line (or both).
  6. Submit three pieces to Hello, Dearest. I don’t care if they are chosen for publication (well, that would be lovely…), I just want to be better about putting myself out there as a writer. Since I’m involved in MOPs, their magazine seemed like a good place to start.
  7. Run a race that gets a medal. I just want a medal, dangit.
  8. Learn and perfect choreography to one Zumba routine. You know the “would you rather have an amazing voice or be a fantastic dancer” question? I’d rather be a fantastic dancer. I made Tim steal a Zumba DVD during a white elephant exchange and I will work on my moves in the privacy of my own home.
  9. Finish a quilt. I have several half-finished projects that need to be completed.
  10. Do 10 push ups.
  11. Take Cozy Minimalist and Cozy Minimalist Mom courses. A Christmas gift from Tim that I am so excited about.
  12. Buy a house. Our lease is up at the end of 2016 and we’d like to buy a place.
  13. Create a gallery wall.
  14. Make a Hyder/Jensen favorites cookbook. It’s good to have all the family favorites in one place. Plus, this fulfills one of my college career dreams of being a cookbook editor.
  15. Finish my Italy semester Blurb book. I have a lovely coffee table book made for my semester in Oxford, but the book for my semester in Italy has been half done for years.
  16. Make a wedding photo album. It’s only been four years…
  17. Pick and arrange wildflowers.
  18. Go on a bike tour with Tim. I’ve been on two of these with my mom and I know Tim and I would really enjoy doing this together.
  19. Speak somewhere? Question mark because this scares the heck out of me, but I find that oddly thrilling. I’m guessing I could wrangle Tim into letting me be a guest speaker at youth group.
  20. Go to NY city. Haven’t been since our honeymoon and now we live so close.
  21. Can something. 
  22. Grow something edible. Definitely herbs this summer and raised beds when we buy a house.
  23. Sew more cloth napkins. My mom sewed me a bunch of cloth napkins and I’d like to add to the collection.
  24. Touch my toes. Tall girl problems.
  25. Family road trip. Snack breaks and potty stops included :)
  26. Read 5 books about prayer. My list so far includes: A Year of Living Prayerfully by Jared Brock, Prayer: Finding the Hearts True Home by Richard FosterThe Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen
  27. Memorize 10 verses about trust/fear.
  28. Create an anti-anxiety playlist. I’m not one of those people who listen to music all the time, but certain music has a way of pointing me to the true source of peace..
  29. Make homemade pizza and make it a weekly thing. An inexpensive and fun tradition.
  30. Find natural makeup that doesn’t make me itch. I’ve inherited sensitive skin that seems to get worse with age. Most drugstore makeup either makes me itch or gives me a rash. I don’t wear much makeup, but I’d like the stuff I do wear not to make me look like a lizard.
  31. Wear red lipstick out in public. Something I’ve wanted to try, but am nervous that if I do, people will just stare at me and think, “oh my goodness she has red lips.” One of my favorite podcasts is sponsoring a #LeapIntoLipstick challenge this month (February 2016), so I may cross this one off quickly.
  32. Go on a midnight kayak. My parents live on a lake and I love to kayak when we visit. I’ve never been at night and I hear it’s magical.
  33. Float in the middle of the lake. Another to do at my parents. I’m taking a book with me!
  34. Swim in the lake with the fam. Confession: Underwater plants freak me out. The lake we go to is filled with things that will touch you and heretofore that has kept me from actually swimming in the lake. However, I know the kiddos will enjoy splashing around and I don’t want to miss out on the fun.
  35. Visit my brother and sister-in-law (wherever they are living). My brother is getting married in 2016!!!! We’ve lived in different states for the past 5 years. I want to visit he and his wife wherever they settle down, which is currently Nashville.
  36. Go cross country skiing. The thought of hurtling down a mountain on two pieces of wood is utterly terrifying, but I think I’d love sliding through silent woods.
  37. Knit a blanket. Not specifying a size…
  38. Make a throw-pillow cover. Like this or this.
  39. Throw a birthday party. Tim’s 30th falls in this time frame, so he might be the recipient of this one :)
  40. Take a class at Barre3.
  41. Get a tattoo. Pretty sure my mom just threw up a little when she read this.
  42. Watch 5 musicals I’ve never seen. Suggestions welcome!
  43. Make a cocktail. I’m tempted by a Moscow mule because the mugs are so darn cool.
  44. Read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskall. Loved the BBC mini series. I can’t believe I haven’t read the book yet.
  45. Go to Longwood Gardens.
  46. Go sea glass hunting at Torrey Pines. Which would require a trip to California. I’m totally okay with that.
  47. Try my hand at faux mercury glass.
  48. Complete 12 dates. My sweet hubby planned out 12 dates to go on as a Christmas gift. I think 2.5 years is a more realistic time frame.
  49. Go to the Philadelphia Zoo.
  50. Get You Are Here Starbucks mugs from places we go. Tim came with a Starbucks cities mug collection and we’ve enjoyed growing it together. I particularly like the You Are Here collection. We have California, Disneyland, and Nashville. I’m eyeing Philadelphia, CA Adventure (not sure why we didn’t buy that one while we were there last year), San Diego, and New York.
  51. Do a jumping photo with Tim. They just make me happy.
  52. Finish Downton Abbey. We left off some where in Season 4.
  53. Find a way to preserve family photos. I want to be better about albums or prints or something.
  54. Attend a conference. One of my strengths is Input. I love everything about conferences – learning, taking notes, information packets, the cool name tag lanyards…
  55. Do something crafty with my embroidery hoops. Inspired by all the cuteness here. And all these pins.
  56. Read a marriage book with Tim. We started You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan last year. I’d like to finish.
  57. Read a parenting book. I’m thinking Boundaries with Kids.
  58. Make a side income. Whether it’s a one time thing or a part-time job. I’m in no hurry, but this is on my radar.
  59. Finish “tidying” our things. Loved The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up but didn’t get to everything before Kennedy came.
  60. Make freezer jam. Probably blueberry (see #81).
  61. Plant a cutting garden. Flowers give me joy. When we have a house where there’s room for a garden, I will fill it with flowers to pick and enjoy.
  62. Watch the sunrise somewhere. From the porch at my parent’s camp with a cup of coffee sounds pretty delightful.
  63. Run with Tim. When we were dating, Tim and I ran together often, but with kiddos the logistics of that is difficult. I miss it.
  64. Do a trail run. A winery near my parents hosts a trail run in the Fall. Gorgeous scenery and tasty post-run fuel is a win win.
  65. Repaint our table. I painted the top of a table I inherited from my Grandma with Annie Sloan chalk paint, but it needs a new coat.
  66. Go to HomeGoods by myself. I love HomeGoods, but it’s a wander around kind of store that is best enjoyed without kids.
  67. Have afternoon tea with my mom. One of my favorite things to do with my mom and we haven’t done it in ages.
  68. Get a facial. Maybe they can help me with #30.
  69. Have a picnic.
  70. Go hiking with the kids.
  71. Have a cavity free dentist appointment. All I want is to have the hygienist say, “well done, good and faithful brusher.”
  72. Do a Whole 30. We’ve gone sugar-free multiple times. I’d be interested to see how I felt after doing Whole 30.
  73. Finish The Chefs Table series. A fantastic documentary series on Netflix.
  74. Buy or build a fire pit. 
  75. Do some chalkboard art. I have a cool frame that I’d like to convert into a chalkboard. Gives me an excuse to practice some hand-lettering.
  76. Fix up James’ easel and have an art day. We bought James an play easel at a garage sale that needs some TLC. He’s not super crafty, but I think he’ll enjoy messing around with paints and such.
  77. Participate in #LoveLehighValley as a family of four. Our church shuts down one day a year and serves throughout the community. I wasn’t able to participate last year and am looking forward to doing this as a family of four.
  78. Make homemade ice cream. I have fond memories of doing this when I was a kid. Nothing beats the taste of homemade ice cream. Especially hand-cranked homemade ice cream.
  79. Acquire a birthstone ring for Kennedy. I have this birthstone ring for James and would like one for Kennedy to stack with it. Our fifth anniversary falls within this time frame, hint hint.
  80. Buy something at an auction. I love me some country auctions. Last year I accidentally bought two glass swans, among other goodies.
  81. Stock the freezer with blueberries. There’s such good blueberry picking up near my parents. James loves blueberry picking (so do Tim and I) and I’d like to have them available year ’round.
  82. Explore Healthy Alternatives. Healthy Alternatives is a health food store and cafe near our home that Tim and I want to check out.
  83. Visit the Farmers’ Museum. A living history museum In Cooperstown, NY.
  84. Put exterior Christmas lights up. We haven’t done this since we got married. Lights are one of my favorite things about the Christmas season.
  85. Successfully poach an egg.
  86. Decide on a go-to meal to take to new moms.
  87. Create and implement a schedule for Jimmy. I think James would thrive (and, therefore, I would thrive) if he had some activities he could count on doing at a certain time most days.
  88. Monthly James date. I love my little man and I want to be purposeful about having one on one time with him.
  89. Get together with the Bowers family. I met Katherine and her husband when we were all studying abroad in England. We’ve kept in touch over the years despite living in different states. We now each have two kids, very close in age, and she’s been an awesome momma friend. The last time I saw them, Kat and I were both pregnant with our daughters. I’d love for our families to meet up again.
  90. Figure out my Enneagram type. I’m a personality type junkie (I’m an INFJ), and would like to explore the Enneagram. It seems a little intimidating.
  91. Create a new family tradition. Traditions are and were important to me. I’d like to establish some memorable ones for James and Kennedy.
  92. Buy new running shoes. Extra points if I go to a place that analyzes your gait.
  93. Finish Psych. Tim introduced me to Psych when we were dating and we spent many nights watching episode after episode. We stopped after season 6, so we have two seasons to watch.
  94. Visit a National Park. We’re visiting Gettysburg soon, so this one will be easy to accomplish.
  95. Take a book to Baked and read on the porch. Baked is a favorite, local breakfast place.
  96. Make pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants). I’ve always been super intimidated by croissants. 
  97. Find a way to track my activity that I will use consistently. I’m thinking a Fitbit Zip might be a good, unobtrusive option.
  98. Get to a point where we don’t buy bread. I have a bread maker, but it makes a weird shape loaf that is not conducive to sandwich making. So, I either want to become proficient in hand shaping or invest in a Zojirushi.
  99. Sit down with a financial planner. We stick to a budget but we don’t really have a plan for our kiddos’ college/weddings. I’d like to be proactive about saving for the future.
  100. Buy a chest freezer. We have an extra mini fridge in our garage that works for now. However, I’d like to buy meat in bulk and have room to store all the blueberries we pick in the summer.
  101. Document my 101 things. I’ll be keeping track of my progress on Instagram. Follow along at #Emilys101things.

My 2015 Manifesto

My 2015 Manifesto

The tree came down yesterday. James’ new toys are now corralled in baskets. What meager Christmas decor I put up is put away. I’m not too sad to have our home return to normal.

There’s a calm that comes from an expanse of carpet unfettered by pine needles and stuffed things. I tend to view New Years day as a time for my head and heart to be like my carpet – a wide open space, uncluttered and freshly vacuumed. I like the blank slate, the new beginning. But, fell behind this year.

The tasks lingering from our move and two weeks of holiday festivities hasn’t left me much mental energy or time to process, plan, and set goals for the new year, a task I eagerly await like it’s the first day of school. Thoughts, ideas, and dreams have gotten lost in the vestiges of Christmas and laundry piles. I could sense the panic rising as each day took me farther away from the new year and I hadn’t made one list, not one plan.

I felt out of breath when the race had just begun. Not the way I wanted to start my year.

In the midst of feeling burdened by my late start to making resolutions, I realized the source of my panic might not be the late start at all. Maybe it was the way my goals always became expectations and those expectations were always so high I could never meet them let alone fulfill them perfectly. Instead of remembering a year of progress, I remember the failure.

With this in mind, I have made 2015 the year of guidelines not goals. My 2015 Manifesto, as I’ve dubbed it, majors on grace not performance.


For example: Despite the fact that my circumstances were wildly different last year than 2013, I felt a twinge of disappointment and irritation that the number of books I read decreased. This year, instead of having a goal of reading a certain number of books, my guideline is to read more than I watch TV.  I won’t feel guilty for an evening watching Frasier, and I will make headway on my ever growing to-read list.

Many aspects of my 2015 Manifesto function in that same way – gently guiding me to make wiser choices in the areas of my life I want to see grow this year. The Manifesto as been in effect one day and I’m already feeling lighter.

My 2015 Manifesto

  • I will give grace to myself and others and judge/compare less.
  • I will get outside everyday, even if it’s just a walk to the mailbox.
  • I will read more and watch less.
  • I will be present in real life more than I am present online.
  • I will rise early.
  • I will be generous with the resources God has given me.
  • I will fear God more and fear man less.
  • I will wear clothes that flatter my body, not my ideal body.
  • I will focus on the good, more than the struggles, in each stage of James’ development.
  • I will abandon things that don’t work, without guilt.
  • I will leave time for creative pursuits.
  • I will eat real food more and processed food less.
  • I will use our home to build community.
  • I will pursue physical health, not a number.
  • I will follow Christ.

Happy New Year, friends!

2014 Goals Update

It’s the middle of March and I’m feeling a little scattered when it comes to the roles and goals I outlined for 2014. My new normal is prompting me to focus more on the process than the results, but I still want to have a clear direction while I’m in process. I’m revisiting my goals today with that in mind.

There are two things I already know about my goals after 7 weeks with James in the picture:

  1. I need to focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking makes me feel even more frazzled than I already am. Taking care of James means my attention is divided anyways. In order to start accomplishing goals, I will have to devote a day to just one task.Today I will work on my Project Life book; tomorrow I will blog; the next day I will organize underneath the bathroom sink, etc. 
  2. Keep my expectations low. Lots of grace.


  • Daily time with Jesus – Not accomplishing a traditional “quiet time” but trying to be attentive to God’s presence in this season.
  • Regular exercise – The weather is finally warmer which means daily walks are possible. Getting to the gym takes some scheduling effort. I haven’t started intentionally trying to lose the last 10 preggo pounds yet. 
  • Sleep – I can’t get enough…
  • Reading – Different habits, but I’m still able to read with a baby around.
  • Service – No real progress on this one.


  • Daily one-on-one time – Definite room for improvement. Usually we get a couple minutes before we sack out in bed.
  • Monthly date-night – We’ve gotten a couple, thanks to my mom. She leaves this week, so we will see how this evolves.


  • Prayer – Tim and I pray before bed, but I’m usually half asleep. I need to be better about praying throughout the day.
  • Breastfeeding – Going really well!
  • Reading out loud – Sometimes I cheat and read my own book, instead of a board book, out loud.
  • Document Baby James life – My mom got me a Project Life starter kit. I plan to print pictures next week and plan a day to get going.

Family Member:

  • Consistent email updates – I was doing once a week emails but that has dropped off post James. I need to prioritize these updates over blogging/social media.

Home Manager:

  • Finish unpacking – James has beens staying in our room, but my mom and I did finish putting together the nursery upstairs. Many more decor boxes to unpack. 
  • Cull excess – I have several bags of things to drop at Goodwill.
  • Purge and revamp wardrobe – I unearthed two boxes of my pre-pregnancy clothes last week. Just now starting to wear pre-preggo pants. I think the purging and revamping will be a gradual process as I slim down a bit more.
  • Meal plan – My mom has been feeding us for the past two months, but I’m working on a couple weeks rotation of budget meals.
  • Pay bills immediately – If we had the money to pay our medical bills immediately, I would be on top of it…
  • Daily house de-clutter – On and off successful with this.


  • Write something everyday – Totally not happening.
  • Comment on blogs – I’ve been doing pretty good with this, I think. In this season, I want to comment more than I blog.
  • Limit back-end blog improvements to a specific day – Or just cut it out all together for now? I’d rather focus on getting blog posts written instead of frittering away my time on social media and improvements. 
  • Read books about writing/blogging – These will be put on hold until I have enough mental energy to enjoy them. I will stick to fiction and Christian living for now.

How are you doing on your goals this year?

Defining roles and goals for 2014

Defining roles and goals (1)

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

I read Amy Lynn Andrews’ time management e-book, Tell Your Time, back in December (my review). I’m a sucker for anything related to organizing (even organizing your life), so I enjoyed reading about how she makes the most of her time; but, the thing I liked most about her book was the process by which she narrows down her daily activities. Amy starts broad by defining roles and slowly refines each role until she has simple action steps.

In thinking through the coming year, I decided Amy’s approach would be a great way to process how I plan to use my time in 2014. Especially with a new addition to the family, I want to be focused and intentional about what I choose to do each day.

annie dillardThis is what I came up with for the coming year:

1. Roles: who am I?

Self: I loved the main principle of Brian Berry’s book As For Me and My Crazy House which boils down to – the best gift you can give your community and ministry is a healthy family; the best thing you can give your family is a healthy marriage; and the best thing you can give your marriage is a healthy self. For that reason, I need to be diligent about self-care, for the sake of my other relationships and roles.

Wife: I want my marriage to thrive. I want to continue to embrace and engage my relationship with Tim on every level.

Mother: The newest and most scary role for me.

Family Member (daughter, sister, grand-daughter, etc): Mine happens to be spread out across the country, so maintaining these relationships (which are really important to me) take time and effort.

Home Manager: Tim is a fantastic co-manager, but because I don’t work outside the home I have more time to devote to this role. I could probably get a bit OCD about managing our home, but my main focus needs to be creating a happy, healthy atmosphere for my family.

Writer/Blogger: Writing is a passion and a way to process – an absolute must in my life. My blog is the main expression of this role.

2. Goals: what kind of {insert role} do I want to be?

Self: Authentic, discerning, grace-filled, intentional, representative of Christ.

Wife: An attentive and encouraging friend who is respectful and supportive of Tim’s whole self.

Mother: Present. Intentional. Encouraging. I want my child(ren) to know and love God. If they became readers, that would be great, too :)

Family Member: Loving, available, and communicative.

Home Manager: I want our home to be a haven for family and friends. I’d like to give up perfection in favor of being present with those I love. Good steward of our resources.

Writer/Blogger: Consistent. Authentic. Stretched. Growing.

3. The plan: what can I do as a {insert role here} that will move me toward being more {insert adjectives from above}?  These are my goals fleshed out – the action steps I will take to achieve my goals in the short and long-term.

UPDATE 1/13/14: I thought of two other goals! Self: explore the Enneagram. Mother: Figure out a good system to document Baby James’ life (Project Life? Blurb books?).


  • Daily time with Jesus – Bible reading and journaling.
  • Regular exercise – not quite sure what this will look like with a newborn, but I’d like to start running again and taking classes at the gym.
  • Sleep – my whole family will suffer unless this is a priority, which means napping when James naps even if there’s dirty dishes or laundry to do.
  • Reading – not quantifying this one because I know having a baby will affect my time to do this, but I’m hoping an eventual feeding rhythm will allow for solid reading time.
  • Service – at church and in our community.


  • Daily one-on-one time – when James is sleeping/occupied so I’m not distracted.
  • Monthly date-night – get out of the house!


  • Prayer is the major specific action step I can think of because Tim and I are new to this parenting business. We’re going to need tons of grace and patience.
  • Breastfeeding – very much wanting this to be successful but knowing it’s a process.
  • Reading out loud – even if he just likes the pictures at this point.

Family Member:

  • Consistent email updates – to keep family posted on what’s new with the Gardner three.

Home Manager:

  • Finish unpacking – um, we’ve lived in our house for 8 months and there are still unpacked boxes (mostly decor and books).
  • Cull excess – unpacking is a great opportunity to sift through unnecessary stuff.
  • Purge and revamp wardrobe – I can’t tell you how excited I am to do this! I’ll save the details for another post.
  • Meal plan – to promote healthy eating and a stress-free dinner time.
  • Pay bills immediately – so they don’t clutter the kitchen counter.
  • Daily house de-clutter – so it doesn’t become a big project once a week.


Of course, the next step would be to put these things into actual time slots. The type-A in me is all over that, but the grace-filled, realistic Emily knows I have no idea what life with a baby is going to look like, so I should just keep these goals in mind as Tim and I dive into this new adventure.

What are some roles and goals you have for 2014?