A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one. - George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
One of my favorite pasttimes is reading. But I confess I have been slacking over the past year. I have started several books but I have not completed any of them. My goal for 2013 is to read a minimum of twelve books. To encourage myself towards this goal, I am creating a book list. Originally, I set specific books to read each month. However I realize that was a bit too scheduled for me, so instead here is a list of books I'd like to read at some point this year. Chances are I may find something not on this list and decide it's a must read - and for me, that has to be okay. I tried to create a mix of genres (fiction, non-fiction, biography,..) so that I have a more well-rounded reading experience. With the exception of 2 books, I own all the books on this list. This goal will not only increase my reading, but I will meet my goal of reading all the books I own! I'll post reviews of each book after I've read them, including any books I review for Tyndale (titles listed as soon as I get them). Looking forward to reading more in 2013! Any must reads for me to add to my list? What are you reading in 2013?

Time is certainly flying by now that I am back to work. Here's a quick recap of what I've been up to...

Back to work, back to the daily grind. It's F.A.F.S.A. time in the school! It's also the time of year when everyone says "FASFA" which is a HUGE pet peeve of mine...LOL I'm not 100% back to health yet but I am MUCH better than I was at the end of last year. Those two weeks of winter break were really restorative for me. I am excited about the new semester and working with the students. OAN, I just received an email from a student I worked with last year. I am so happy to hear that she is doing well, and it feels great to know I helped her along the way. Shine bright hon, shine bright! :)

Other than working, I have been laying low and catching up on rest and all my favorite television shows, which feels amazing. Who knew I would like not having a jam-packed schedule?! It feels GOOD to take care of myself, as it should. A good friend (also known as the pastor I'm receiving grief counseling from) had some wise words for me on Monday after I mentioned feeling guilty about my empty schedule. She reminded me that I do have a "ministry," which consists of taking care of myself and my mother right now during our time of grief. She admonished me to not make any huge, life-changing decisions during the first year of grieving. Before committing to any decisions, I am to ask myself if is energy draining or energy giving. So far, I have worked on vision boarding, improving my health, monitoring my finances, and attending church (all of which were energy giving). Sticking to my goal of having less commitments. Go, me!

I am making a concerted effot to get in bed earlier, so that I can sleep earlier. Tonight I bought a humidifier to help with my sinus problems before I meet with the allergist next week. I'll do an update at the end of the month as to how I'm progressing towards myother goals for the year.

Finally...drumroll please....I am super excited to announce that I am now an approved book reviewer for Tyndale Blog Network! I will receive free Christian books to read and review on my blog. I learned about this fantastic opportunity from the blog
www.monesavingmom.com.. The reviews will be posted where the book is advertised. And to put my urge to over commit at bay, I can only review one book at a time. How serendipitous. I can't wait to start reading and reviewing books! Stay tuned :)

So that's what I've been up to since returning to DC. On that note, Night ya'll!
As some of you may know, I have become increasingly more frugal over the past year. I am excited to say that I have found some awesome deals in the New Year! Wanted to pass along the info in case you wanted to get some great items for less. I spent less than $10 in Target (which is a huge feat!). I don't plan to do many posts on couponing and such, but these deals are too good to pass up!

Target has had some awesome deals the past week. Up to 90% off of all Christmas items, including:
  • Hot Cocoa Goldfish for 19 cents (current goldfish varieties sell for $1.89)
  • Angry Birds Stocking for $1.30 (regularly $13.99)
  • Earbuds for $1.39 (regularly $14)
  • Various Christmas Decorations as low as 20 cents, to include bags, gift wrap, stationery, and gift tags
  • TONKA mini trucks are going for 39 cents (these are with the regular price toys)
  • Also, if you can find any, there are mini bath sponges for 9 cents made by Bathery!

In addition, I found a pair of black ankle boots at New York and Company for only $15 (regularly $60)!! Granted they were the only pair at that location, but who's to know if you can't find a good deal of your own :) They also had several racks where all items were $10 each.Be prepared for limited sizes though.

Happy Shopping and please comment if you find any other awesome deals!.
Here are my goals for the new year - my 31st year!! I have already set a reminder to review my goals on the 28th of each month, to make sure that I stay on track, measure my success, and make adjustments as necessary. I have chosen to create goals in several different areas: financial, spiritual, educational, fitness/health, and emotional/mental health. These areas are my priorities for living my best life in 2013.

Financial: This is an area I have been improving since Fall 2012. As I mentioned in my "Reflections on 2012" post, I paid off my credit card debt and set a budget. My finances took a hit when I had to fly home unexpectedly, so this year I will make an even greater effort to stick to my budget and make sure I have emergency funds.
  • Tithe 10% of my income for 12 consecutive months.
  • Continue my ExodusCry Partnership for 12 consecutive months.
  • Save for 3 months of my emergency fund by December 2013. (specific amount is recorded on my personal budget sheet).
  • Increase my credit by paying off my PLOC by March 2013.
  • Monitor my accounts and budget on a daily basis. Prior to making a splurge purchase, make sure that I have met all of my other financial goals.

Spiritual: an area that I have not remained consistent in due to being overcommitted in the past.
  • Attend church regularly (at least 3 Sundays per month) for worship and fellowship. 
  • Wake up at 5:30 am to read my Bible, pray, and exercise on weekdays.
  • Complete the 40 Day Prayer Challenge w/Journal and 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor w/DVD.
  • Regularly participate in SE neighborhood outreach with Small Group on Saturdays (at least 3 per month). One small group per semester. Do not over-commit!

Educational: I love learning! I don't want this area to lag just because I am no longer a formal student.
  • Read one book each month (minimum). Select from a variety of books (fiction, non-fiction, spiritual, biographies, etc.).