Tag Archives: in review

2016 In Review: Photography

I had all of these goals where photography was concerned for 2016, like making it a more legit part of my site, getting a logo to watermark my work, and switching over to photoshop for editing. I didn’t accomplish any of those things so we can just call this resolution a huge failure. Still, despite that, I don’t really feel like I failed at photography in 2016 because my camera and I certainly were insanely busy.

 

In 2016, I did seventeen standard shoots, shot five Birthday Parties, one Relay for Life Event for charity, and one 1st Communion and once again I had to turn people away during the busiest time of the year because there was no way I could take on more clients that late in the year and promise them edited pictures back in time to ship out Christmas cards while still working a full time job. Turning people away is the WORST feeling. I’ve gotta be proactive about this next year and advertise my availability further in advance so people don’t wait until it’s too late to ask if they actually are interested.

 

In addition to that, I do really need to work on the resolutions I set last year for photography. I think what happens is that I don’t technically start shooting much until Spring and it doesn’t last long and then I get unbelievably swamped again in the fall through the end of the year and I guess my goals are sort of out of sight/out of mind until I’m living and breathing photography like that and then I find myself regretting not having taken the time in between to handle these matters. I even had people ask me for gift cards this year, but there was no time in the heat of the season to work on it and once it slowed down, it’d completely slipped my mind. That’s business I’m losing because I’m not utilizing my downtime to prepare for the busy times better. I’ve definitely got to work on this in 2017.

 

I’d also really like to expand my portfolio a bit in 2017. I would love to get into stylized shoots, like with elaborate sets and costumes – perhaps with a cosplayer or something. I did a semi-stylized pregnancy shoot this year and I loved having free reign to ‘create’ in the wild like that. I’d also really love to do some more charity based shooting, specifically for special needs kids and/or rescue animals. And I’ve had several people interested in the idea of offering photoshoot parties, like for boudoir photography – a sort of mini session where ladies can sip wine and socialize while being glamourized for a shot or two.

 

Hopefully with better planning on my part, I can make my resolutions for this year and last more of a reality by the time 2018 is here.

 

As always, I’m incredibly grateful for my clients, new and old, who push me out of my comfort zone and trust me to capture their most important moments in life. To receive my work on a Christmas card or be tagged in someone’s new wall art arrangement featuring family pictures I took is the highest form of flattery a photographer can receive and because so many of them did this in 2016, I’ve felt more like a legit photographer in this past year than all the years before it!

 

I’ve posted all of these shoots individually here throughout the year, but if you haven’t checked them out, you can view a few of my personal favorites from each by clicking the image below.

 

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2016 In Review: Books

If I broke down the stuff I read in weeks, I would have met my goal of reading 1/2 a book a week, but the truth is, there were times I went weeks and even months without reading a single thing at all, so technically I failed. To further that failure, I read even less in 2016 than the shameful number of books I read in 2015.

 

I’m not sure that any amount of wanting and hoping I can read more in a year is enough to actually make it happen anymore. However, my husband has decided that truly smart people can read a book a week and that we are smart people so there’s no reason we can’t make it happen. I’m still unconvinced that’s all it takes, especially since I have far less free time than him and so I’m not putting the pressure of a book a week on my plate for 2017. I’m not even putting the pressure of 1/2 a book a week like I did in 2016. But what I will agree to, and what I hope helps get reading back into being a regular habit for me, is to read something everyday. Whether that be a few pages or a whole chapter, in 2017 I want to make an effort to finish everyday with reading. For a little while there in 2016, I’d gotten in the habit of working out, showering, and reading a chapter before bedtime. It was a really peaceful way to finish my day and a great way to feed my brain right before dream creativity kicks in.

 

Despite not technically meeting my reading resolution for 2016, I did read some really great books, like The Penderwicks – Book 1, The Isle of the Lost, Black Widow – Forever Red, and Paper Girls Vol. 1, just to name a few. I read some just okay books too, and finally finished a few books I’d been lingering on for too long. As usual, I wrote mini reviews for each on GoodReads (which you can check out HERE!)  or you can check out the spines of my 2016 reads below. There are a few missing, either because I lent them out or donated them, but they’ll be listed below!

 

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Not pictured: A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick, Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith, The Ghoul Next Door (Monster High, Book 2) by Lisi Harrison, Where there’s a Wolf, There’s a Way (Monster High, Book 3) by Lisi Harrison, The Stonekeeper’s Curse (Amulet, 2) by Kazu Kibuishi

 

-AND- Multiple, Single Comic Issues of Jem & the Holograms & New Archie

 

What was the best thing you read in 2016? What are you most looking forward to reading in 2017?

 

2015 In Review: Everything Else

 

Last year I had just five resolutions; that should have been doable, right? Not so, apparently, but let’s start with the ones I did achieve.

 

Get closer to God. I don’t know if it’s really right to say I nailed this one because I think this is something you should always be working on, but I definitely did work on it all year like I’d wanted to so I say it’s a win. I read my devotional everyday and even flagged the days that spoke the loudest to me to refer to later. I volunteered for the Sharing Table and enjoyed it immensely, so much so that it’s something I will always do when it’s my churches turn now. I was able to put some of my creative skills to work at my church during Vacation Bible School and hope to do that again this year as well. But even with doing all those things I set out to do, I missed a lot of church this year, for either being sick or bad weather or just because I was too tired/busy. I wish that part wasn’t true because it’s so much easier to drift from God without that weekly sermon to keep you grounded. I need to work on that for sure in 2016. I also didn’t write in my prayer journal nearly as much as I might have thought I would. In fact, praying as a whole is something that slips my mind all to often these days. I get it in my mind to, but instead of doing it right then and there, I collect my prayers and then forget to do anything with them. I really want to work on that in 2016 as well. Still, as a whole, I feel like my faith is definitely stronger this year than it was last year and even though I’ve got so much more room to grow, I feel like I’m moving in the right direction in my walk with Christ.

 

Get Healthy. This is another one of those resolutions that is always on my list and will probably stay on my list forever, but I definitely feel like I can call this one a success this year too, maybe even more so than years past. As I mentioned in my “Stuff I Loved” post, I got really into fitness in 2015. I had already been practicing the whole “clean eating” lifestyle from the year before, so that part wasn’t hard. In fact, once I started pushing my body past the limit, eating right seemed to get even easier – like my body was only craving the nutrients that would allow it to keep enduring all those grueling workouts. T25 is an amazing workout regimen and I’m so glad that I gave it a shot. In that first week, I keep starting an overly dramatic blog post about how I was basically committing suicide, but I’m glad I never finished it because I swear once I got past that first week my perspective changed 100%. Being the busy person that I am, it’s almost too easy to say I just don’t have time to workout, but I swear that somehow squeezing that 25 minute workout in everyday made me capable of fitting even more into my everyday schedule. I guess it just makes you more aware of your use of time? Something like that. I’m still disappointed I had to quit when I got pneumonia and that I haven’t been able to re-start it again because of my limited space/Christmas decorations, but I’m really pumped about killing it in 2016. And I’m really proud of/happy with the changes in my body so far as a result of the 7 weeks I already completed. By my wedding I’d lost 3-4” everywhere, dropped down 2 bra sizes and 1 size in clothing, and lost 15 lbs. total. Thankfully, despite my increased cookie/sugar consumption through the holidays, I’ve managed to keep it all off, too! I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m truly at a healthy place, but I feel like 2016 is definitely going to be the biggest year of success in this resolution.

 

Pay down debt. I don’t think I was able to pay off nearly as much toward my debt as I did last year, partly because I didn’t have the same amount of overtime and also because I got married/went on a honeymoon. But I did still put a significant dent in my credit with the help of another successful year of the Savings Challenge and in shifting my cards around to 0% interest rates so the money I was putting toward them was being used more effectively. I’m definitely not in the clear yet (or even close to be honest), but I do think I’m closer to being able to buy a house and am still hopeful that 2016 is the year for that. After we do our taxes and meet with the bank, we’ll have a better idea of what’s possible or not, but I’m still hoping for the best and I’m glad I’ve gotten in this saving/paying habit over the past few years because I’m confident I’ll be able to keep it up whether we can buy a house this year or not!

 

*Bonus: Get a Tattoo!* This was technically 2014’s resolution and I hadn’t achieved it by the end of 2014, but in reviewing those resolutions I felt confident that the day was right around the corner and I’d been right. I got not just one, but three new tattoos in 2015 (over 4 separate sessions) and gosh if it doesn’t make me want ALL the tattoos now. Seriously, it’s not even painful at this point and that’s when you know you’re in dangerous territory – lol. Thankfully the cost will keep my tattoo collecting in control, because boy is it expensive! Still, I’ve got a small savings started already for the next one and I can’t wait for more ink!

 

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So for the things I didn’t succeed at….

 

Time Management. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to master this, not unless something major comes along to force me into it. Even then, though, I’m not sure. I really need to learn how to say no. Outside of all the creative pursuits I have on my own, I’m constantly saying yes to doing things for other people and thinking I can fit them all in my schedule together. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I want and need to do. Once again, this year I found myself sick with pneumonia for the first time in my life, as a result of trying to do way too much. People even tried to tell me to slow down, but I didn’t listen. It didn’t help that I had a wedding to plan, prepare, and participate in during the height of my busy season. That’s all I should have been focusing on, but instead I was doing so much more. If I could go back and do it differently, I would, but since I can’t I really just need to learn from it. I hope that I won’t find myself making those same mistakes this year, but I also know how foolish I can be. :/

 

Try to get Published. What a laughable joke. And not the funny kind either, no it’s the sad, pitiful kind. The most I achieved this year in the way of writing was reading through and redlining my manuscript. Not the one that’s complete either, not the one I wanted to shop around. No, just a regular old work-in-progress. And then I set it aside and literally did not write even one single new word in 2015. Failure doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings over this. I miss writing. I hate that my other creative pursuits eat up all the time I’d usually have for writing. I hate that I don’t know how to balance the two and be successful in them both. I miss my characters; they’re almost never even around anymore. I feel so out of touch with writing at this point that I feel almost foolish for thinking it’s still a possible dream to have. Am I even a writer anymore?

 

 

2015 In Review: Stuff I Loved

It’s that time again, where I highlight all those things I got real obsessive about in 2015. Somehow, since there’s only three big things, it doesn’t look like I was as addicted to things as much as I was last year, but I promise you these three things consumed so much of my mental energy (and even physical at times) that the addiction is definitely the same. When I love something, I love it hard. I don’t know any other way. So, in 2015 I fell the hardest for….

 

 

IMG_20160108_224216YouTube – I’ve already blogged about my obsession with YouTube once this year, and that obsession hasn’t lessened in the slightest (though I do have less time to devote to it these days). I don’t need to ramble on about the why’s and who’s again, you can read all about that HERE, but I will say that my love of YouTube has grown so big that I would really like to be brave enough to do my own videos someday. Whether they are toy unboxings, or makeup hauls, or baking tutorials, or even just creative vlogs, I am interested in doing more on YouTube than just being a spectator and I am hopeful that 2016 allows for the bravery and time required to learn video editing to do just that!

 

 

 

Toys – It sort of feels like cheating to include this one again, since it was part of last years ‘Stuff I Loved’ post, too, but this love grew so much more than I could have even imagined in 2015 and I need to talk about it. Loving toys is no new thing for me, even when I didn’t have the massive collection I have now, I always knew I’d wanted a toy room in a house someday. Growing up, my grandmother had a toy room and it was always our favorite to hang out in whenever we were at her house. My grandfather on my mom’s side also had an assortment of toys when I was younger and so I guess I just decided early in life that I’d let the kid in me stay alive forever like them in the form of toys. Last year I finally let myself start collecting again, something I’d refrained from for years because we live in an apartment and lack the space. It was just a Funko thing last year and I thought for the most part that’s all it’d be until we actually had a house, but at some point in 2015 I allowed myself to buy my first Monster High doll and everything spiraled out of control from there. I don’t actually want to go and count up all the toys I acquired this year because the number might frighten me, but I have been photographing them all year long and you can check out my 2015 haul HERE. While there was plenty of Funko in the mix, I discovered other vinyl designer toys like Tokidoki’s Unicornos and Joe Ledbetter’s Chaos Bunnies; I got super into Monster High and Ever After High dolls (and their books and movies, too), I fell in-love with exclusive dolls that were pricey and difficult to make mine like Pullip dolls and LE Disney dolls, and I even snagged a few plushies this year, too!

 

 

My Top 3 Favorite Toys of 2015 were…. Tokidoki’s Pullip Doll Luna, Funko’s Garbage Pail Kids 10″ Adam Bomb Vinyl, and Momiji Dolls (though I’m just showcasing my first one below)!

 

fave 2015 toys

 

 

While I’m going to try to behave a little more this year, since we’re trying to buy a house this year and there is seriously nowhere else to display them in my apartment anymore, but I already know of a few releases this year I must have and I’m sure once Toy Fair and various cons go down, that ‘must have’ list will start to look like my book purchasing lists looked back in the day. It just feels so good to be collecting again!

 

 

Weightloss Blog PhotoFitness (aka T25) – About 10 weeks before my wedding, I finally got really serious about feeling better in my skin.  I had joined the gym at the start of the year, but I’ve still yet to step foot in it (and am just waiting for my contract to end so I can stop wasting that $20 a month). Nothing seemed to motivate me to work out until a friend let me borrow her T25 kit and while the first week felt like I was committing suicide, I actually became quite a feign for it in the 6 weeks that followed. There’s something really empowering about pushing yourself past your limits and busting your butt like that in such a short time period. 25 minutes goes by fast! And while I didn’t initially see a huge drop on the scale, I was losing inches quick and feeling so incredibly strong (alongside the aching muscles – lol). I was forced to stop unfortunately when I got pneumonia the week before my wedding and haven’t been able to resume the habit since I have to take down my living TV to put up my Christmas tree, but I am crazy excited about getting back into once I put my living room back together. This is something I never imagined myself looking forward to! 

 

2015 In Review: Photography

Somehow, between 2014 & 2015 I became a legit photographer. I’m not saying that like I consider myself some great professional photographer or anything, no I’m still amateur in my eyes, but other people have started to see me as something else. Lots of other people. It’s been both weird and amazing and something I’m still trying to adjust to, to be honest. I remember when it used to feel impressive to have 5 shoots a year, and now that numbers doubles itself consistently from year to year.

 

In 2015, I did 23 shoots and that number would have been even higher if I hadn’t gotten married at the height of photography’s busy season because I actually had to turn people away. Words can’t express how grateful I am for the people who like my work enough to pay me for this, who discourage my negativity about my ability, who do all of my advertising for me (because I literally do NONE). No matter how strange this still feels, I hope 2016 brings me more new faces, a braver attitude about it all, and a few new skills to put to use, too.

 

Below you can scroll through a few of my favorites from all the photoshoots I did in 2015. Huge thanks to all my clients, new and old, for helping me grow as a photographer and keeping me so busy! Can’t wait to see what I have to share with you guys at the end of 2016!

 

 

Best Of 2015 Photography
 

 

2015 In Review: Books

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I didn’t read nearly enough in 2015; there just wasn’t enough time. Lots of people think I sound crazy when I say that because they’re happy if they’ve read 1 book a year, but for me, reading is a necessary fuel for writing and there wasn’t enough of it to spawn even a single new word. Of the things I did find time to read, I actually read more comics/mangas/graphic novels than anything. My appreciation for the art and their ability to get a story across in less pages than books really grew for me in 2015. I suspect that will continue to be true in 2016 and I’m excited about it. Below is a list of the things I read, in the order I read them. The books are all clickable and will take you to my GoodReads reviews on them if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

 

 

Books Read in 2015…

 

 

 

 

Comics/Mangas/Graphic Novels Read in 2015…. 

 

  • Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 1 – 5 by Jinsei Kataoka & Kazuma Kondou
  • Eerie Cuties: The Comic Strip Collection by Gisele Lagace & David Lumsdon
  • Eerie Cuties, Vol. 1-3 by Gisele Lagace, David Lumsdon, & Maria Victoria Robado
  • Garbage Pail Kids: Puketacular, #1
  • Garbage Pail Kids: Love Stinks, #2
  • Ms. Marvel – No Normal, Vol. 1 by Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
  • Ms. Marvel – Generation Why, Vol. 2 by Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
  • Ms. Marvel – Crush, Vol. 3 by WillowWilson
  • In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
  • Super Tales of Emotion #1: Swamp of Sadness by J. Salvador
  • Jem and the Holograms, #1-9 by Kelly Thompson
  • Jem and the Holograms, Holiday Special by Kelly Thompson
  • Jem and the Holograms, Outrageous Annual Kelly Thompson
  • Morning Glories, Vol. 1-5 by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma
  • The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) by Kazu Kibuishi
  • New Archie, #1 by Mark Waid & Fiona Staples

 

 

While I plan to try my hardest to buy very little books in 2016 and actually work on all the books in my already existing TBR pile, I’m always open to suggestions for things I should be reading — especially in the comics department since that’s primarily new to me and there’s SO many to chose from. Feel free to leave some recs in the comments below! :)

 

 

2015 In Review: Music

I feel like I didn’t really seek out new music all that much in 2015. Partly because there wasn’t really anyone to corrupt me musically and also partly because I just didn’t have the free time that allows for musical exploration. I think that was a mistake, though, in a way. While it was great having so many years worth of music to fall back in-love with everyday, not finding new musical inspiration is just one reason why my creative well stayed so dry this year. I need to work on that more in 2016 so I don’t find myself in the same place at the end of the year. I only downloaded 178 songs in 2015, that’s half as much as last year, which was half as much as the year before!

 

Of the new music I did discover in 2015, the two bands that stand out the most are…

 

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ISSUES

 

Love Tyler Carter’s clean vocals in contrast with Michael Bohn’s screaming. Love the way they weave metal and hip-hop together. Love how much energy every song packs. Seriously, this band is still young in their existence, but so far their work is super consistent. I can’t wait to see what they put out next!

 

 

 

 

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PVRIS

 

Discovered this band shortly after falling in-love with ISSUES and actually only gave them a shot because of ISSUES. Lynn Gunn’s voice has that smoky, rugged feel and the pop-rock their music has as a whole reminds me a lot of all the reasons I loved Paramore when they first came out. Definitely excited to hear more from this band in the future!

 

And now for the part that’s probably pretty obvious if you’ve been following along for Music Friday

 

Top 10 Most Played Tracks of 2015

 

10. Throne by Bring Me The Horizon

9. Cupid Carries a Gun by Marilyn Manson

8. Falling Apart by Papa Roach

7. Something New by Dance Gavin Dance

6. Fire by Pvris

5. Stingray Affliction by Issues

4. I Am by Hands Like Houses

3. Mind Games (feat. Champs) by The Palisades

2. Uncomfortable by Andy Mineo

1. This Is Not A Game (feat. Miguel) by the Chemical Brothers

 

What were you listening to in 2015? Anything I should have been listening to? 😉

 

 

2014 In Review: Stuff I Loved

A new addition to my year end reviews!

 

I have one of those personalities that falls in-love with things almost obsessively until something else comes along and demands more of my attention. Below are the big things I fell in-love with in 2014 and why you should check them out, too!

 

Torrid

 

Let’s not pretend I’m a small person. Okay, I mean, I am small in stature (5’ 1”), but I’m curvy even at my skinniest weight and I’m not skinny right now. As a result, finding cool clothes that fit me has been difficult in years past, leaving me dressed like some old lady – which I am not. In fact, if I had to describe the style that fits my personality most, it’d be edgy. I can’t even remember the search term that brought me to Torrid, I just know I was sadly searching the internet for cooler clothes in my size when I stumbled upon them and was instantly addicted.

 

Admittedly, I’ve nearly replaced my entire wardrobe with Torrid clothes this year, which was a hit to my pocket, but the reason I love them so much is not just because their style is in line with mine, but also because I’ve never paid full price for a thing there. Deals-Deals-Deals, every single day.

 

Having “cool” clothes that actually fit my frame has done wonders for my mental state where my self-esteem is concerned, and sure, I’d still like to be thinner, but I have to admit I don’t hate my fatness the way I did before – where I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror without wanting to cry. At least now, it’s confined properly in clothes designed for a body like mine, that don’t make me look old, and dare I say, I’ve even felt somewhat pretty on occasion this year thanks to Torrid.

 

If you’re a bigger girl (size 12-22) and looking for something stylish and reasonably priced, you should probably check them out HERE!

 

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Jelsa (Jack Frost + Queen Elsa)

 

My good friend, Heather, got me into Frozen this year and I just happened to watch Rise of the Guardians on demand shortly after watching Frozen because I was looking for something similar. It was instant, this love I had for Elsa and Jack together, a crossover that will never happen. My mind drew up all sorts of connections, all sorts of back stories. It was silly, really, but I couldn’t stop myself. And when I told Heather about it, she said I wasn’t alone. That apparently a whole fanbase existed to support “Jelsa.” This only encouraged my imagination and my first OTP became a thing. I love the idea of Jelsa being a real thing so much that Heather got me these adorable Jelsa stickers for my birthday this year and I even commissioned her for some winter Jelsa art. I don’t know if anyone can convince me to stop loving an impossible thing at this point.

 

(I’ve commissioned Heather for even more “fan art” this year. Check out this Ever After High inspired piece she did for another franchise she got me into. For more information on her commission work, click HERE!)

 

Loot Crate

 

Another good friend, Akoss, can take the blame for my love of Loot Crate. She started a youtube channel this year, mostly to highlight her love for reading, and while catching up on it one night, I watched her first Loot Crate unboxing. The video wasn’t even completely over before I knew I HAD to sign up. I wanted every single thing in that box. Just the idea of getting a themed, geeky filled box of fun every month for such a crazy low cost was appealing enough, knowing the kind of stuff that would arrive in them really sealed the deal for me. Sometimes there’s a shirt, or toy, or comic book – lots of the time they’re exclusive items that can only be acquired through Loot Crate! Below are just a few examples of some the boxes I’ve received since. It’s a subscriptions service/treat I’ll definitely allow myself to keep up in 2015.

 

(Click through the slideshow above for a few samples of the crates I’ve received this year!)

 

(Learn more about Loot Crate HERE! Check out Akoss’ youtube channel HERE!)

 

 

Jamberry

 

Yet again, another dear friend, Nakia (aka: my pseudo-sister), can take credit for my love of Jamberry this year. (Look I’m easily corruptible, obviously.) She decided to be a consultant so she could make a little money while going back to school and caring for her son and at first I only gave it a shot because I wanted to support her new venture. I didn’t really expect to love it as much as I did, but 20 Jams later and I’m hooked. Admittedly, these don’t always last the full 2 weeks for me, but that’s okay because I know I’m hard on my nails and they still last a heck of a lot longer than nail polish does. Plus, SUCH CUTE DESIGNS! I couldn’t get these adorable prints with nail polish even if I tried. Maybe they seem a little expensive, especially if it’s your first time, but they really are a nice treat if you’re someone who likes having fun nails!

 

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(If you are interested in checking out Jamberry, you can request a sample or check out Nakia’s shop HERE!)

 
Funko (read: Toys)

 

My love of toys isn’t a new thing, but it has been resurrected, thanks to Loot Crate. When I moved into my apartment 7 years ago, I didn’t bring any of my toys with me. I have a lot that I’ve collected over the years, waiting patiently for me in my parents attic, because apartment living isn’t really ideal for large collections such as mine. I always imagined myself having a whole room dedicated to my toys or maybe one that was shared with my books or something, but here I am 7 years later and still in an apartment and I’m just tired of missing out on something I’ve always loved. Loot Crate exposed me to Funko’s mystery minis back in September. It’s not like I’d never heard of Funko before, in fact I’ve been tempted many a time to pick up a Pop! figure, but once I had that first mystery mini in my possession, I couldn’t stop myself from buying more. And so in the last three months, my collection went from nothing to this (see below) and I think it’s safe to say this toy collector is back in action!

 

Funko 2014

 

In 2015, Funko will be releasing a new line of Frozen Pop!’s and mini’s that I must have and a line of Garbage Pail Kids inspired figures too. I’m already SO excited!

 

I’m sure there were other things I got into in 2014, but these are the handful I’m pretty sure will stick around for a long time to come. What kinds of things did you get really into in 2014?

2014 In Review: Everything Else

Last year, I made myself six resolutions. Relatively easy ones, really, and for the most part I achieved all except one. Let’s review them with a little more depth…

 

1. Have more Moxie: I think this is the one I’m most proud of because I made such an effort that things that used to terrify me, now seem so easy it’s weird imagining myself ever afraid of them before. This year I met my favorite author twice (the second time without an ounce of fear), chopped off the long hair I’ve been hiding behind for 10 years, went to a day long writing conference with a bunch of strangers, took on strangers as clients without making my sister tag along with me to the photoshoots, etc… Sure there was probably a lot of other ways I could have shown moxie, but I’m glad I made this resolution because all year when I was faced with something that would normally scare me, I felt compelled to prove the fear wrong.

 

2. Get another Tattoo: This is really the only resolution I failed at and it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough moxie, it was mostly because I didn’t have enough time. I have four tattoos planned now, all of which I can’t wait to have, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have some sort of new ink any day now. 😉

 

3. Write: SEE – 2014 In Review: Writing

 

4. Live a Healthy Life: Well, I did and I didn’t. I’m still overweight and out of shape, maybe even more so than last year because all that overtime at work bit into my workout time. And I still haven’t taken myself to the eye doctor, despite my quickly declining sight. But I did get myself on a better sleep schedule and my skin has never been healthier thanks to a daily H2O+ skin cleaning regimen. I also went to the dentist twice and they couldn’t even yell at me for not going in so long because they said I take extremely good care of my teeth. I’ve definitely still got some things to work on next year and I plan to, but I don’t call this one a total failure.

 

5. Give More: This one is also a yes and a no. Sadly, my biggest contribution last year, Sevenly, ended up being my smallest contribution this year. They’ve stopped carrying cuts suitable for a girl my size/shape and so I didn’t buy nearly as many cause shirts as I might have liked to this year. But I did give in other ways like: cookies to all delivery type people (mail and food) during the Cookie-Thon. That was one of the most rewarding acts of giving, seeing their unexpected appreciation and entire demeanor change over such a small gesture. I helped out at church for the big events – Valentines Day, Easter, etc…, I donated some books to the library. But I think the thing I did most was giving of myself this year. To anyone that needed me. Sometimes that meant missing out on my own life and sometimes other people’s burdens were super hard to carry, but I feel like being there for them was necessary and I’d gladly carry the burden any day.

 

6. Save More: SEE – 2014 Savings Challenge

 

I know some people aren’t fans of resolutions and I can see how they’re not for everyone, but as a list maker who is too busy for her own good, making a list of things I’d like to work toward really keeps me guided in the right direction. They’re like little reminders all year long to keep me on track and I’m happy for it.

 

So, what’s on my to-do list for 2015? Just wait and see! 😉

 

2014 In Review: Music

In trying to be more reasonable with my spending this year, I really made an effort to only buy the songs I had to have this year. So that meant previewing everything on YouTube several times before actually committing to the purchase. Turns out that was only 379 new songs this year added to iTunes. Only, ha! Still, it’s far less than last years 517 so I guess I can pat myself on the back a little.

 

For the most part I was left to my own devices in finding *new music again this year (boy do I miss the days when other people corrupted me) but I actually did look this year and didn’t just rely on all the bands I already loved releasing new things (though they did that, too!). Of the *new bands I discovered, I had two favorites, both Christian artists in two very different genres than I typically gravitate toward (which is heavy rock, in case you didn’t know).

 

*new to me

 

Andy Mineo

 

andy mineo

 

I found myself listening to this Christian radio station NGEN a lot this past summer, for the upbeat, God-centric lyrics, to get me through those 13 hour workdays with a positive attitude. And in doing so, I discovered all kinds of Christian artists I’d never heard of before, Andy Mineo being one of them. What struck me the most about him, though, wasn’t necessarily that he was a Christian artist (I mean, that’s an awesome bonus, don’t get me wrong), but that he was such a skilled rapper on killer beats. It’s been a really long time since I’ve gotten super into rap. I grew up in the 90’s when rappers actually had talent and outside of the stuff with catchy beats that get trapped in my head, I just can’t get into the crap that qualifies as rap these days. But Andy, ooh, he’s actually got talent. And lyrics with a real message. This combination makes him addicting to me. If you haven’t heard of Andy Mineo, he’s definitely worth the listen. Click HERE!

 

Citizens & Saints

 

citizens and saints

 

This is another band I discovered thanks to NGEN and my first taste of them was this 80’s-esque track that was impossible not to bounce along to. Upon further research, I found myself buying everything they had online and loving so much of it equally that there are 5 Citizen & Saints tracks in my top 20 most played tracks this year. Even their Christmas album is a perfect collection of songs. They’re the kind of indie band you can’t help but sing along to. The kind of praise band I wish my church had. Whenever I’m jamming to Citizens & Saints I always find my hands in the air reaching for God. I just can’t help it. It’s something about how the instruments get inside of me and how Zach Bolen has a perfect voice for this style of music. If you’re in need of feel good, happy making music, you must check out Citizens & Saints. Click HERE!

 

 

And now, the part you’ve all been waiting for (you have been waiting for it, right? haha)…. The Top 10 Most Played Tracks of 2014! I’ve had to modify this list just slightly to feature a different artist for each because if I was completely honest, Andy Mineo and Citizens & Saints actually hold the top 4 ;). Some of these are predictable, Artifex is a favorite band and they had a new album out this year, Underoath is heavy on my Dreamsters playlist, etc… but if you haven’t been following Music Friday all year and this list is unfamiliar, you should definitely click all of these links! (Fun Fact: The Most Played Track was played 478 times!)

 

10. Karnivool – “The Refusal”

9. Underoath – “Desperate Times Desperate Measures”

8. Tides of Man – “Drift”

7. Family Force 5 – “Chainsaw”

6. Artifex Pereo – “No Stranger to Worry”

5. Finch – “Two Guns to the Temple”

4. Phantogram – “Black Out Days”

3. Bring Me the Horizon – “Don’t Look Down”

2. Citizens & Saints – “In Tenderness”

1. Andy Mineo – “AYO!”

 

If anyone would like to corrupt me in 2015, I’m taking any/all music recs! 😉