February 9, 2015

Checking In On My 2015 “Engage” Goals

Now that we’re about a month into 2015, it’s probably a good point for me to check in on my 2015 resolutions to engage. How am I doing so far?

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
Original image credit: Moyan Brenn. I totally agree with the sentiment that you don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be working toward getting better!

My first goal was to engage in learning – and I’ve pretty much been nailing my goal to “listen to a TED talk once per day.” To prove it, here’s my Excel log of the TED talks I’ve watched so far – there have only been one or two days that I’ve missed it, and I’ve usually made up for it the very next day by watching two or three TED talks instead. Yippee! Today was one of my favorite thus far – a really fascinating talk on the secret to desire in a long-term relationships, from which one of my biggest takeaways was how much we expect of relationships these days (and therefore how we set them up to fail). It used to be that marriages were arranged to provide financial security and a good family match, but now we want them to provide that and a best friend and passion, and we live decades longer than we ever did before. No wonder relationships can be so tricky!

I haven’t been doing a great job on my goal to read 100 books this year – although I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of interesting stuff, I’m only up to 9 books read so far this year, where I should be at 11 by now. Not a huge loss to make up, but that little discrepancy will definitely turn into a lot if I don’t change some habits and make more time for reading! Stay tuned for a post this week on how I need to adjust my time management in this and other areas.

My second goal was to engage in my home – and I’ve definitely been spending a ton of my time and energy trying to find a home to buy. But let’s not discuss that just yet, as I’m currently really bummed out on that front! My other part of goal #2 was that I wanted to host people at my place at least once a week, whether it’s at my current apartment or my (hopefully future, beautiful) house. Tonight, I definitely needed some cheering up and social time, and so I was really grateful that I’ve been following through on this goal and already had something scheduled!I’ve been hosting The Bachelor watch parties every week, and while it’s a totally cheesy show, the group that I keep inviting over has been forming some pretty solid relationships. I love that my little gathering is getting to be a regular crowd, like the Bachelor Bashers that I sorely miss in Dallas, and it’s fun to know that we’ll all come together on Monday nights to socialize and make fun of the psychos on screen. (Slash, nearly cry when I compared myself to Kelsey tonight because my god I can’t believe how crazy I can get for no reason at times. Get a grip, Laura!)

It really hasn’t been very difficult to prep dinner and host every week – while I’ve been taking care of the food, I’ve asked the other girls to just bring wine, so I don’t have to worry about that part of it. I’ve been working from home a lot on Mondays, which makes it easy for me to start some kind of food around 5pm and have dinner ready by 7:30pm or so, when the show is in full swing. I’ve found that the easiest thing to prep for a big group (especially one where I’m not always sure of the headcount) is some form of soup or stew. Since I was working downtown today and didn’t know how much before showtime I’d be home, I tossed some ingredients into the crockpot at 7am and just hoped for the best. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely it turned out! Hooray for no-stress dinner parties 🙂

Yesterday, my friend Heather and I took advantage of a great $5 off promo at Panera Bread and tried their new broth bowls – specifically, the lentil quinoa bowls with cage-free eggs. Although I wouldn’t pay the full price of $9 for this meal (I just can’t justify that for a bowl of soup!), the flavor profile was delicious and I decided to try to recreate it. I checked out some other recipes online for variants on Moroccan lentil soup, and ended up making my own recipe in the slow cooker – which the girls tonight ended up raving about! Personally, I didn’t think it was nearly as good as Panera’s; however, mine was a totally different consistency so it was hard to compare. While Panera’s is truly a “broth bowl,” mine came out super thick and not broth-y at all – which is the price you pay for making up a crockpot recipe when you’re not home to adjust the liquid level as it cooks and absorbs. Still delicious!


Gingery Quinoa and Rainbow Lentil Crockpot Curry

Loosely based on recipes from Health.com and Eating Well, this crockpot recipe takes only ten minutes of preparation but yields complex flavors that taste like you've been tending it all day in the kitchen. It's incredibly filling (hooray for fiber), but has only 150 calories per serving! Great comfort food that's healthy as well 🙂
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 10 minutes
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings 8 servings of 1.5 cups each


  • 1/2 cup dry green lentils
  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils
  • 1/2 cup dry red quinoa
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 14 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger
  • 1.5 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 0.5 tbsp coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Combine all ingredients in crockpot and stir.
  • Set crockpot to low for eight hours, or high for four hours.
  • Serve with sliced lemon wedges and bread.


Gingery Quinoa and Rainbow Lentil Crockpot Curry Nutrition
Very low in saturated fat, no cholesterol, very high in dietary fiber, high in iron, and very high in vitamin A.

Finally, after the focus on home, my last goal was to engage with my blog – that is, to provide more quality content. I feel like I’ve been more thoughtful lately about the type of content that I post; however, I am definitely still doing at least one sponsored post a week. I know that when I read blogs, I tend to skip over anything that says “sponsored”, but I’ve been making an effort to ensure that anything I write that is “sponsored” still has a lot of personal content and is more about my life than just about some form of commercial advertisement – so I’m hoping that perhaps y’all are continuing to read it despite the disclaimer! Meanwhile, I am definitely making an effort to include some quality “this is what I learned” posts instead of just the recaps of my day-to-day. I’d be curious to hear how you think I’m doing on this front?

I have read a lot of interesting posts lately about how blogging has changed over the last few years (Susan did an especially great write up here, and I also loved Adam’s take here). While I totally agree that the tone of many blogs has shifted, I think there is some upside to it as well – at least, as long as bloggers are transparent and honest about the products and services they choose to feature and promote. I have definitely gone along with the shift and feel like my writing style has changed to be more magazine-ish, and while I’m probably going to keep doing a sponsored post every week or so, I want to make sure I’m keeping even those sponsored posts personal and more in line with the totally unashamed tone I had when I first started writing this blog. (This is why part of why my new year’s resolution for the blog was to make sure that I was being totally honest about what I was writing, rather than holding back on things I felt too ashamed to write. Let’s take down that filter!) I hope that the intent of that goal is coming through clearly in my writing, but I would love to hear your feedback, good and bad, so I can continue to adjust.

How are your new year’s resolutions coming along? While I’m pretty happy with mine right now, I’ll also throw out there that there’s nothing wrong with adjusting yours if they aren’t turning out quite as you hoped. Heidi wrote about quitting on her “donut a day” goal for 2015, and while I’m disappointed that she didn’t carry through with that goal (come on, how awesome is that?!) I think it’s important to make sure that whatever goals you choose are the right ones for you at that time. Don’t be afraid to change it up if that’s what’s needed!


8 thoughts on “Checking In On My 2015 “Engage” Goals”

  1. These posts are always a good reminder for me to check in on the goals I’ve set for myself this past year. It sounds like you’re kicking butt on yours! I also need to go read your house hunting updates – I feel so out of the loop!

  2. That TED talk sounds like it’s exactly what I need to hear right now. Or, maybe when I’m home and not at work because that might be supremely awkward.
    I’ve started listening to Podcasts (Serial, Invisibilia and now TED) on my walks to and from work and I feel luch more productive and I love that I’m learning something while commuting. It’s such a small change, but makes me feel like I have more of a purpose.

    1. It’s not as awkward as the title makes it sound 🙂 But definitely listen to it when you can sit and focus on it! There are so many interesting little tidbits in it that I might even listen again. Podcasts are AWESOME for helping you learn while you’re driving/walking/running/etc – glad I’m not the only one who loves them!

  3. Read the transcript for Esther Perel; expect another response!

    The more I think about it, it is not so much a disagreement in philosophy, but a shift in how words are defined. As a mathematician-by-training I want to be able to rely on something being what it is. If we agree an apple is an apple, then an apple will always be an apple and never a pear.

    i think Esther generates a response from me, because of her willingness to re-define terms (much like Dan Pink). Her new definitions lose the truth that she (and him) is trying to communicate.

    1. I didn’t really think about it until I read the transcript rather than listening, but you’re right that she spends a LOT of time redefining. I would agree that the semantics of what “desire” is are far less important than actually FEELING that, but I do think that trying to define it can help you to get there and think about it critically.

    2. I am so glad that you mentioned ‘feeling’ an emotion. It is that intuitiveness, that energy, that is being lost as we out-smart ourselves. And that is what I wrote about – well, what I indirectly wrote about.

      I looked up your TED talk spreadsheet. You gave a ‘1’ to details the police track. Individuals living in Russia from 1940 through 1989 continued making babies, partying, and enjoying life, but that doesn’t mean that they were totally free (it must mean something when the former president of the Soviet Union arrives in the United States, goes in one grocery market and is astounded by the decadent diversity of wares for the average person). The human spirit is incredibly adept at making the most of bad circumstances, but that doesn’t mean we should welcome a stronger police state. The last few sentences that Catherine Crump uttered should be studied well.

      And one last thing in regard to Esther Perel. Much like the mis-use of motivation, I really dis-like how, in general, we have grown accustomed to misusing the word responsible. Can you guess my problem with the common usage of that word?

    3. I think “responsible” can mean an imperative type obligation, or it can be a superlative to describe taking more care than others. I hate the latter definition because it encourages people to lower the bar well below what I think should be acceptable. Is that your issue as well?

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