How to Set Goals and Achieve Them

If this were posted on January 1, I probably would have just started a diet, gotten a gym membership, registered for 26 college credits, and set who knows how many lofty resolutions. And I wouldn't be alone. Each year an average of 45% of Americans make New Year's Resolutions, but only 8% reach their goals. I'm determined to be part of that 8% this year, so let's discuss how to set goals and achieve them.

Long-Range Goals

Most worthwhile goals are long-range ones. Things like weight loss and getting out of debt rarely happen in a week. When you're looking to change, begin with the end in mind. Then determine a reasonable time frame to get there, whether its 6 months or 5 years.

Example: lose 25 pounds this year

Intermediate Goals

Once you've established what you'd like to achieve in the long-term, break it down into smaller, manageable goals. If your long-term goal should take a year to reach, intermediate goals would happen each month.

Example: lose 2 pounds each month

Short-Range Goals

It's time to take those intermediate goals and break them down too. If your intermediate goals are each accomplished in a month, short-range goals would be achieved each week.

Example: lose 0.5 pound each week, attend gym 5 days each week, plan weekly meals on Sunday

Daily Tasks

Finally evaluate what you need to do each day to reach your short-range goals. These daily tasks will be the key to reaching your long-range goal.

Example: drink 75 oz. water, high-intensity cardio for 30 minutes, no sweets

A former teacher of mine taught that a goal not written is merely a wish, so I created a worksheet for you to write down your own goals. Just click on the image below and the download option will open in a new window. Print as many as you need to organize each of your long-term goals.

Keep me posted on your goals. I'd love to know when you accomplish them. We can celebrate together!

Posted on December 29, 2014 and filed under Free, You, Print.

Disney Educational App for Early Learning

We are a tech-savvy home and our kids are creeping up on my husband's and my skill level. If my 5-year-old is going to be playing on our iPad, I want to have control over what he plays and how long he plays it. Disney's helping me stay in charge of my family's screen time.

Currently, my son's favorite app is Mickey's Magical Math World. In this space-themed app, he identifies shapes, counts, problem solves, and sorts with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy. All these math concepts, yet he asks to play it more than the "entertaining" apps I have on our iPad.

Lately he's been playing it next to our Christmas tree. I guess the magic of the holidays goes right along with the magic of Disney!

He gets pretty engrossed in the game, but he'll always stop to show me the rocket he just cleaned to take on an alien adventure.

I admit, I get a little giddy about "The Mouse" too. If we had tech like this when I was a kid, I would have been all over this app!

I appreciate that Disney is creating apps that inspire my child's imagination and creativity. But they haven't left me out of the loop. I'm able to connect with my son and his app usage with the Disney Imagicademy Parents app.

This parental resource enables me to monitor how long he plays, the creations he's made, even sending out a virtual "high five" to reinforce his progress.

It also provides me with articles and activities to help me unplug and connect with my children offline as well.

What can I say? Disney has done it again. Bringing families together through technology and fostering creative education. This app most certainly gets two thumbs up from our family!

Click HERE for more information on Disney Imagicademy and how you can engage and enrich your children through the power of imagination and creativity.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Posted on December 22, 2014 and filed under Review, Tech, Family.

Eight Free Crochet Toy Patterns

When birthdays or Christmas roll around, it's easy for kids to ask for everything they see on tv. But sometimes homemade is the best and most meaningful. If you need a gift for babies, toddlers, and children of all ages, here's a roundup of eight free crochet patterns. There's a toy for everyone on your list!

Let me know if you make any of the adorable toys from these talented bloggers.

Hedgehog Taggie Baby Toy from One Dog Woof

Color Sorting Balls from Seriously Daisies

Colored Pencils from Crochet N Play

Crochet Toy Car from Nephithyrion

Margarita Doll from Petite Purls

Baby Owl from Little Muggles

Crochet Ice Cream from Oomanoot

Baddies Robots from Petite Purls

Posted on December 17, 2014 and filed under Crafts, Free, Gifts, Yarn.

Christmas Eve Gift Package

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NorthpoleFun #CollectiveBias

We have a sweet elf, Noel, who resides in our home around Christmastime. I guess Noel has been watching me as much as watching the kids because he graciously volunteered to relieve some stress and take care of our family's Christmas Eve festivities. A whole slew of fun and games from Hallmark Northpole.

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I can just see little Noel, browsing the aisles of the North Pole Walmart for the perfect gifts to entertain his charges. I bet he clapped with glee when he found this display.

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An aisle entirely devoted to elves, polar bears, and snow? Hooray!

I'm not surprised that the majority of the items Noel chose were about elves. Peppermint Fling Rings that are tossed on an elf hat, Bake Like an Elf with recipes for sweet treats and fun-shaped measuring tools, and a book whose main character is…you guessed it…an elf! I think it might be Noel's new favorite book.

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They even have a video of the city of Northpole that's featured in the book.

The last gift, which isn't blatantly elf-like, is a magic snowball that lights up when tossed. This may not seem like a thoughtful gift, but to my kids, this could be the favorite. See, it's the first year in a long time that we may not have snow for Christmas. Little Noel thought ahead and bought a fun way for our kids to have an indoor snowball fight.

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If that weren't enough, he even picked up some instant snow. Too bad he was sneaky and got into it early…

A huge thanks to Noel to for our Christmas Eve plans. Who knew that this little elf, who's only in our home 24 days a year, could bring our family closer together?

Posted on December 15, 2014 and filed under Gifts, Family.

20-Minute Stencil Art

I love clean, graphic art. But I'm picky and cheap. So…I make my own! But since I can barely draw a proportionate stick figure, I use stencils to create my artwork. Not '90s stencils of apples and gingham in my kitchen. Modern, graphic stencils.

See, stencils are speedy. Unless you're doing an entire wall, in which case, more power to you.

I wanted to make some Christmas-y art, so I chose the Starry Moroccan Night Christmas Stencil from Royal Design Studio. Here's the how-to.

Start with a thick, quality paper. I used smooth Bristol Strathmore paper. With painters tape, adhere your paper to a smooth surface. If you plan on painting all the way to the edge, put something under your paper so no paint gets on your table or wall. So, basically, ignore what I did.

If your stencil needs to be centered, measure to find the center of your paper before taping your stencil down. Try to get it as smooth as possible to avoid getting paint under the stencil.

Start with a sturdy stencil brush and some awesome paint. I wanted some shine on my wall, so I chose a metallic paint. This color is Gold Rush from Modern Masters.

One HUGELY important step when stenciling? Unload. Your. Brush. It won't take near as much paint as you think, so wipe your brush off on something clean and absorbent each time you dip it in the paint.

On to the fun part. Paint! I like to swirl my brush around to avoid pushing extra paint under the stencil. Continue layering on the paint until you have the coverage you like.

Peel that stencil on up.

Bam! Almost-instant art.

I'm excited already!

Let's see how it looks on the wall, shall we?

Swoon. I love how the light catches the metallic paint!

But it looked too lonely on it's own, so I grabbed another stencil I had on hand from the same company that looked rather festive.

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I think the Sage paint goes rather nicely with the gold, don't you?

I didn't want to put the metallic behind glass, so I chose my temporary adhesive of choice, cranberry chevron washi tape, to adhere them to the wall.

This art is so easy, it only took 20 minutes to make all three pieces. I have all this time left, maybe I should make something else…

Thank you, Royal Design Studio, for providing me with fab stencils to create with!

Posted on December 11, 2014 and filed under Craft, Home, Tutorial.

DIY Salt Dough Ornaments

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BIC®. All opinions are 100% mine.

I admit. I'm a bit of a marker hoarder. So when I heard about BIC's Month of Merry Marking (eh, see what they did there?), I had to participate. Since I had my gift tags figured out, I looked outside the box for a way to incorporate my marker addiction into the holidays. I think I found the perfect way with my twist on the salt dough ornament.

Prior to this, I was a salt dough virgin. I've made play dough, cinnamon applesauce dough, but no salt dough. It was so darn simple, I can't believe I'd never made it before! I shall now share the secrets of the salt dough ornament with you. Prepare yourself to be amazed by its simplicity.

First off, you need to make your dough. I love recipes I can memorize and this one is easy peasy.

One part salt + one part water + two parts flour.

1 + 1 + 2 = dough

I made mine in my Kitchenaid, but that's solely because I'm lazy. This could easily be mixed with a wooden spoon. The thing is, this dough is sticky with a capital S. So after you have mixed it, turn it onto a floured surface and knead for a long while, adding flour as you go. If you make a small batch like I did, you'll only have to knead for 5 minutes. Larger batch? Longer knead. Just work it until it's no longer sticking to the counter and it's smoothed out.

Once you have your nice, smooth salt dough, you're going to roll 'er out to, oh, 1/8 inch. The thicker the dough, the longer it takes to dry. I'm impatient. Plus, I like the look of a thinner ornament.

Here's where the creativity comes out. You can play it safe and use your cookie cutters now OR you can get a little crazy like I did and pull out some embossing folders.

Since I'm not much of a freehand artist, I used the folders to make my own template to color in. Just press the embossing folders (normally used to emboss paper) into the dough to give it some dimension. Make sure and press down enough so the design really comes through.

Here's how the three I chose turned out. If I were to leave them as-is, each design looks great. But if you decide to color them in after baking, like I did, here's how I'd rank the "ease of coloring" for each pattern.

Now grab your favorite holiday cookie cutters and cut out your designs.

Poke a hole in the top of each ornament for your future string and place them on a baking sheet. 

Pop them in a 200 degree oven for AT LEAST 5 hours, or until those puppies are dried out. Moisture makes them brittle, so the drier the better.

Once they're dry, and cool, grab a BIC Mark-It™ permanent marker. My color of choice? #Sapphire. It's the perfect icy winter blue.

Take your marker and fill in the embossed design.

Really, folks. It's beyond easy. From mixing the dough to coloring with a marker, even a not-so-proficient crafter like myself made it work!

To see more BIC Mark-It™ colors and for other ideas on how to celebrate the holidays, check out the #BICMerryMarking booklet. Just click here to get the booklet of merry marking and a coupon to start marking!

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Posted on December 9, 2014 and filed under Craft, Tutorial.