To Do List 2019: Keeping it simple

2018 was an okay year. Like any year, it had some highs and lows. I did pretty well with some of these list items and other were a big flop. I LOVE checking things off lists, so the big flops bum me out. Some recent reflection has made me re-think my attitude about the flops. It’s because of those flops that I had time to do some of the other things that were goals. I guess the moral that I take away from this is this: it’s just a to-do list.

Let us not forget that the 2017-2018 school year was my FIRST year as a classroom teacher. And that I started taking my teacher certification classes (online classes SUCK!!!!). And that I passed my two Praxis exams on the FIRST TRY (and mostly without studying).

Before I get in to this year’s goals, let’s take a look at last year’s list.

2018 “To-Do List”!


WRITE MORE LETTERS. I did pretty good with this until my classes started in May 😦
VISIT MY SISTER (and other folks near-er by). Nope.
WORK ON HORIZONTAL SURFACE ISSUES. YES!! I have made progress but still have work to do. I’ve been “on the wagon” with a clean kitchen table top since THANKSGIVING! One step at a time.
QUARTERLY CHECK-IN WITH HOUSE TO-DO LIST. Nope. (but we DID get a few more things checked off the BIG list)
MONTHLY DONATIONS OF GOODS/$$$/SERVICE. Sort of. I donated a lot of stuff, but I still need to purge more, AND give more of my time and money.

I think it’s funny that I didn’t even mention animal rescue work on the 2018 list and it was SUCH a big part of my life this year. I know I keep teasing about it, but I really do need to do a post about all my critters from 2018. It’s wild to think that I helped out the lives of EIGHTEEN cats in 2018. I am EXTREMELY proud of the work I did, and I can’t wait to keep it up this year.

This year I am keeping the list simple.

Really simple.


  1. DRINK MORE WATER.  I have GOT to start drinking more water. I feel so much better when I do.
  2. SHOP AT THE FARMER’S MARKET.  While I still OBVIOUSLY want to have a garden of my own, I want to be better about supporting local growers. Plus there are somethings (like cabbages) that I am not going to grown on my own. Also I want to buy local eggs if I cam going to continue eating them as regularly as I have been.
  3. FOSTER LOTS OF CATS. Fostering cats has brought SO much joy into my life. I can’t wait to continue this work every year from here on out.
  4. GO PLACES!!!  I really want to go on more adventures with Mr. Smith and also with my mom. There are already several trips on the books, so I think we are off to a year of fun in 2019.

Don’t let lists or resolutions or other people’s lists or resolutions get you down. And maybe don’t make your list too long. I think five (or fewer) big goals are an easy way to really think about what is most important and focus your energy there.

Break a leg, y’all
and have a fabulous 2019!!!

You can take a stroll back through time and check out some of my much more elaborate lists from past years. Click the title to see each post in detail!

2017 “To-Do” List


2016 “To-Do” List



What did you read in 2018?

Here it is!!!

The annual list you’ve been waiting for!

It’s my FOURTH annual “all the books I read last year” post!!!

Somehow I only had TWO library book stacks from 2018:


January 2018


February 2018

This year really was a truly pitiful showing in the book category. I think it is the worst year yet for me for reading, possibly since I was able to read. There are a handful of reasons for this which I will detail now so that you do not think I have changed in some horrifying fundamental way.

My reading petered off right around the end of April. This coincides almost directly with the dates I began fostering kittens. Before you start blaming the kittens and hating on them you must first look at some of their ADORABLE FACES.

These are only TWO of the eighteen kittens I fostered in the 2018 kitten season (I really should do a whole post about that)! THE KITTENS ARE NOT TO BLAME!!! While I began fostering around the same time my reading declined there are bigger reasons for my reading decline.

Namely, a new car.

What does a new car have to do with anything? Well, that actually has more to do with my 6 free months of Sirius satellite radio. My old Ford Ranger finally quit running in May, and I had to get a new car. This brought my first car payment in almost a decade. UGH. My new car came with no CD player (because it is NEW and FANCY and does Bluetooth things instead) and free Sirius. So I listened to a lot of Sirius for the first few months I owned my car. In NOVEMBER I finally took the time to figure out how to set up my phone & car for audio-books. I’m not sure what the actual percentages are, but I *read* a lot of books this way. Not listening to any books for the better part of 6 months really took a toll on my book list.

And then there was school.

I’m taking online classes to get my certification as a teacher and there is a fair amount of reading and homework that is associated with that. My first class this summer was PURE HELL. Gobs of AWFUL readings, leaving no time for fun reading. And of course, once August came around I was back in the classroom teaching. Not that that takes much time, energy, or planning…*cough* I kid, I kid.

So between kittens, Sirius satellite radio, diamond painting (my new favorite craft!!), school, being a teacher, and LIFE IN GENERAL, this was a pitiful year for books. Not so much a pitiful year for life though.

Remember that I only keep track of the
“chapter books” that I read,
not cookbooks and craft books, etc.

Here is the lists of books I read in 2018.


That’s a grand total of 18 books.

19 books…
…if you count this silly dime novel I read and forgot to record around December 20.


I cannot promise that this year will be much better as far as book numbers go. I have two classes left in my certification program but I will be DONE by July. I’m still planning to foster as many kittens as possible, but I can read and snuggle kittens at the same time! And even though Mr. Smith was super sweet and got me a YEAR’S subscription to Sirius, I plan to listen to some books as well as sweet bluegrass jams.

I don’t have much to add for favorites besides my perennial favorites with the Cottage Tales mystery novels based on children’s book author Beatrix Potter. I’m currently reading the 5th book in the series.

How was YOUR book list this year? Were there any stand out reads? Comment if you’d like to share some of your favorites!

Check out my previous year’s book lists by clicking the links below!

What did you read in 2017?

What did you read in 2016?

What did you read in 2015?


Rural Ramen

I got a total wild hair yesterday and decided to make ramen for supper.  Mr. Smith and I had a couple of friends coming over for a dog play-date and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try out a new recipe. These friends are adventurous types so they were willing to be guinea pigs!

I just googled ‘vegetarian ramen’ and the first 2 recipes that came up sounded pretty good. I basically pulled elements from both of these and cobbled together my own recipe based on those.

Here are links to the original recipes:

The first recipe is from The Minimalist Baker who has LOTS of delightful recipes.

The second recipe is from Umami Girl who I’ve only just discovered. This recipe for Peppermint Meringues is calling my name already.

Both of these very nice ladies live in places where it is easy to purchase things like dried shiitake mushrooms, chili oil, miso paste, and ramen noodles that cost more than ten cents a packet. I happen to live in a relatively rural area in North Carolina, and while I could certainly find the ingredients SOMEWHERE, I was not able to get them immediately enough to satisfy this wild hair I got.

That’s why I’m calling this Rural Ramen.



  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 2- inch piece ginger (peeled and diced)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (I had 4 cups of store bought vegetable stock {comes in a 32 oz container}. I added 2 cups of water to make up the other 2 cups of liquid)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp teriyaki marinade sauce
  • 6 baby portabella mushrooms, very thinly sliced


Heat a large pot over medium-high heat.

Once hot, add oil, garlic, ginger, and onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally until the onion has started to soften and caramelize.

Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Be sure to scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. You don’t want them to stick AND they make the flavor of the broth more delicious!

Add remaining 5 cups vegetable broth, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and mushrooms.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer on low for at least 1 hour, up to 2-3, stirring occasionally. The longer it cooks, the more the flavor will deepen and develop. I let it simmer for about 2.5 hours–or just enough time for the dogs to play super hard until the sun went down!

Now for the toppings.

I had never soft boiled an egg before and I may have had beginners luck because they turned out PERFECT. Here is how I did it. (Let me know if you are able to replicate my success with this method!)

I used my electric tea kettle to boil water to 212 degrees F. If you do not have an electric tea kettle, I cannot express how much I recommend you get one. It makes so much food prep go so much faster. I use mine anytime I need to boil water because it does the job in about TWO MINUTES. So helpful. I digress.

I used a room temperature 2 quart sauce pan and approximately 1.5 quarts of boiling water. I put the eggs in straight from the refrigerator into the boiling water. It took the pot about 6 minutes to return to a rolling boil. Once the rolling boil started, I turned the heat off, put the pot in the sink, and let the cold tap run over the pot until the eggs were cool enough to handle. I then peeled the eggs and sliced them in half.


  • 8 chopped green onions (green and white)
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced, pan seared with EVOO
  • 1/2 head of cabbage lightly pickled (thinly sliced, sea salt, rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 block firm tofu, sliced and pan seared with EVOO
  • 6 thinly sliced portabella mushrooms
  • chili garlic sauce (see below picture)


About 10 minutes before I served the soup I prepared the noodles. Again, remember I live in the country. I consider myself lucky that I was able to get the “Oriental” flavor of Maruchan, the only semi-vegetarian flavor (processed in a shellfish facility). I used two packets of noodles, didn’t use the flavor packets. I broke each noodle block in half, which made four portions. I then put these four chunks into a bowl of boiling water to ‘cook’ the noodles.

I divided the soup evenly in four bowls. Each bowl got a cooked chunk of noodles and two halves of soft boiled egg. I served all the other toppings on the table so everyone could add what they wanted.

Another note: I served the soup in metal bowls that we usually use for salads. I would definitely recommend using ceramic bowls instead. The metal seemed to cause the soup to cool faster than usual. I only used those bowls because I had four that matched! This is the price I payed for being too matchy-matchy!!

I can’t believe I only took one picture! I just went back and took a picture of the condiments so you can have something else to look at. Next time I will do better about my photography. Anyway, I hope this is helpful and I hope you enjoy it! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions!