January Goals (2017)

Hey World,

New Years Eve is upon us, so I guess it's time to unveil next month's goals! 

In December I outlined seven which seemed a bit much -- I've scaled it back down to six for January to see if that is more manageable. I'm particularly excited about trying to come up with a fun "Open Table" theme to host a dinner later this month & changing my social media accounts! 

1. Set up method for tracking 2017 reading + page counting goals
2. Kick off 2017 with Brady in Amsterdam 
3. Write 'just because' letters & postcards to friends for January
4. Change my name on social media accounts
5.  Host an "Open Table" dinner for January 
6. Decide how much BG & I will donate annually, and start a list of which organizations we're interested in

And as I have in previous monthly goal posts, a quick check in on how December shaped up:

December Goals: 
1. Mail ALL of our Christmas/Holiday cards out (and the rest of our wedding TY cards...) Done! More than 80 cards went out in the mail this year.
2. Reconnect with 5 friends to see how they are doing - I didn't do a good job here -- I think I only reached out to 3 or 4! 
3. Change my name on my driver's license Done! 
4. Host my 3rd annual Christmas Cookie baking party in Iringa I hosted this on December 11th and it was so fun! Four hours of non-stop baking, Youtube Christmas playlists, and catching up with friends. 
5. Ask family & friends for book/reading recommendations I posted a call for recommendations early in December, and posted some of what I got here! This was actually a really fun exercise. 
6. Order 5 new books I'm excited about over Christmas I may have gone overboard...I'm bringing back at least 15 fiction books for the new year!
7. Continue hosting weekly marriage meetings with Brady! Because BG has been traveling so much we've pushed it to bi-weekly, but they're still happening with a relative frequency.


#BecomingTeamGrimes: Our Belize Honeymoon Video

Hey World,

It turns out preparing all of our #BecomingTeamGrimes wedding posts are taking wayyyy long than I anticipated, so this is going to be a 2017 project for myself!

 I'm still trying to sync across two iPhone photo albums, chase down photos that have since gone MIA...and waiting anxiously patiently for the last bit of our official wedding photos to come through before I can start sharing. 

In the meanwhile, you can check out the amazing Youtube video BG put together from our Honeymoon GoPro footage below, or here.

My favorite moment captured? Our utter panic while holding a nurse shark in our hands! 

I am looking forward to heading back to the United States for the holidays this weekend - cross your fingers that I've packed enough warm clothes!


Recommendations & My Reading List for 2017

Hey World,

First of all, for everyone who submitted suggestions, thank you! It was really fun to crowdsource book titles, some of which I've heard about, and some of which were totally new, a few days ago. Below are some of the recommendations which I loved!

Based on the 53 books (and counting!) I've read in 2016, here's my Top Ten:
(Those with the * also came recommended from others!)

On my 2017 reading list, aside from some of the suggestions above, I am really excited about:


Kim over at So Many Places wrote this (find out what the envelope is all about here) which is being published in April AND she's doing a campaign RIGHT NOW which is super cool -- join in here


How do you keep track of books you'd like to read? I have a list of almost one hundred books that I've been recommended, that I've read about online, or that I've seen at a bookstore and thought, "I might want to read that one day"! I keep that list handy on my computer, and when I'm able to buy more books on Amazon, I search them to see which have very inexpensive "used" copies -- I am rarely willing to pay more than $4, including shipping and handling, for a book. 

I will also say that I am a book snob, in that I will almost exclusively read physical books, rather than on a Kindle device. This has been a blessing in disguise, because though it is hard to get new books, I am:
- less selective about what I'll read, and often ransack "take one, leave one" bookshelves with an unhealthy gumption
- more careful in what I do decide to order, which means I look forward to when I get them in hand and can read them!
- have lots of hard copies to trade, pass on, or keep! 

In the past year alone, I've accumulated almost 60 books, most of which I paid less than $4 for (and many which were free). Less than $300 allowed me to read a new book each week for an entire year, and could have gotten me just a fraction of that had I only bought new books! Of course, once in a while I splurge for a brand new book (oh, the divine smell!), but I also love reading a book that I know has brought joy to someone else before me.

Stay in touch with your reads & recommendations -- I'm really excited about 2017's lineup!


Being Married (3 Months In)

Hey World,

How is it possible that this coming Saturday will be three months of marriage?
If all of the months fly this fast, we'll be celebrating three years in no time.

Celebrating about one hour of marriage here        Photo Credit: Jen Hudson Photography

I still haven't shared much about our wedding yet, which means I've been hesitant to share what being married feels like because I really do like to post items in order.

But I also like to be bold, so here it goes!

Being married 
means there's someone else at home to take over that breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you were really hoping to get off of the couch and make for the both of you if you could find the energy...

 Being married is the feather-light relief that settles into your mind and your heart which reminds you that you will never have to face anything alone ever again (unless you really want to).

Being married is spending over an hour to decide what movie to watch, don't pick a single one in order to go to bed before 10pm to read your books on a shared pillow instead, because it never was about watching a movie anyways.

Being married is bringing your vows and your wedding readings to life, into the day to day. (and in the new year, I'll share both our handwritten vows & selected readings, I promise!)

Being married, according to BG, is spending a lot of time looking at one another while sitting in the same room, and not finding it strange at all that it seems like a perfectly normal thing to do.

Being married is reminiscing a lot about "before" the wedding (oh, the memories!), the wedding (oh, the memories!), before taking on hefty topics about what's to come (and when, and how much it's going to cost, etc.).

Being married feels a lot like not being married, if you are already in love with your best friend and try to spend every waking minute with them to soak in their life and their love and their hopes and their fears and their ideas and their quiet moments and can't imagine any other way to spend your time. 

and finally,

Being married is the confidence that rests in your heart when you look over at your partner and truly believe that you could pick a point anytime in your future, and know that at the very least, one thing will remain constant. 

I love this candid my Dad took of us just after the wedding ceremony, it gives me the tingles!
Here's to the next three (weeks, months, years, decades)!


A Search for Top Notch Book Recommendations

Hey World,

 I want to know what's on your forever book shelf.

What books have you read that you just can't believe the whole world doesn't have a copy of? What books made you laugh, cry, or just stay up all night under the covers to get to the last page? And don't limit yourself to what you've read just recently! I love ordering 'used' books online, because they often come with character.

Why am I asking?
Well, I'm looking to build out my reading list for 2017, and instead of searching airport "new arrivals" on my way home, I'd love to order some ahead of time that I know I would love, and come with a stamp of approval!

(PS: This is one of my Powersheets goals!)

I'll read almost anything - fantasy, adventure, biographies, autobiographies, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, chick lit,...you name it, I'll read it! I prefer not to read short stories, BUT if it comes with high praises, I just might change my mind :)

Add a comment, shoot me an email or message me on Instagram with what you're reading, or what you think I should be reading. Interested in what suggestions come in? Don't worry! I'll aggregate the recommendations, and share them back here in a week or two.  

Interested to see what I've been reading in 2016, and what I'd recommend? Comment below, or send me an email, and I'll share with you my top picks from my shelves this year, plus some forever-favorites! 


Always Believe...

Hey World,

With Christmas just TWENTY days away (the most wonderful time of the year!), I thought this image was particularly poignant, and fit in well with my Be BOLD campaign. 

Image Source unknown. 

So here's the 20 day challenge for all of us:
believe in something wonderful. 

Keep your eyes and your heart peeled for the positive. As you may have tracked things you are grateful for in November, consider the wonderful for December.

If something really special happens that you want to share, feel free to share it with the image below  on your blog to link back here, or use #20DaysOfWonderful on Instagram or Facebook. You can post as frequently or infrequently as you'd like!

As an encouragement to get started, I'll be posting my first one in just a couple of hours :)


Monthly Mantra: Be Fearless

Hey World,

It's time for the fourth edition of monthly mantra! 

In case this is your first time stopping by, at the beginning of the month I share one quote I've come across to give a positive frame of reference for the coming weeks. They will be shared without explanation, as inspiration comes to each of us differently!

If you have any suggestions for a single sentence mantra, leave it in the comments, and you may see it in an upcoming month! You can check out previous monthly mantras here


Image Source: Be Fearless

December Goals (2016)

Hey World,

First of all, This is the 100th post on A Path Unpaved. November 2013 feels like a million moons ago - but I've enjoyed every step so far, and I hope you have too.

And now it's almost DECEMBER, and the end of 2016.
 Can you believe it? 

December Goals: 
1. Mail ALL of our Christmas/Holiday cards out (and the rest of our wedding TY cards...)
2. Reconnect with 5 friends to see how they are doing 
3. Change my name on my driver's license
4. Host my 3rd annual Christmas Cookie baking party in Iringa
5. Ask family & friends for book/reading recommendations 
6. Order 5 new books I'm excited about over Christmas 
7. Continue hosting weekly marriage meetings with Brady!

And November Goals, I didn't forget you! Here's how they panned out:

1. Select a wedding photo & template from Minted to use for our Christmas cards (and order!) It was too much fun checking out all of our options, but the shoe fit with one in particular right away! 
2. Host my best friend Kelsey & take LOTS of BFF pictures on our adventure to Victoria Falls Kelsey left two days ago, and I can't even begin to share how GREAT it was to have her here!
3. Organize and cook a small Thanksgiving Dinner here in Iringa (& co-plan a community one) Not yet! Some unexpected travel glitches has made me delay Friendsgiving, but should happen ASAP!
4. Attend a book sale / host a book swap to refresh my bookshelves Not quite done, but I've reserved a table at the Christmas Craft Fair in two weeks to hopefully tick this one off!
5. Buy our flights home for Christmas (and book NYE accommodation in Amsterdam!) Booked!
6. Send two "just because" cards & one postcard to a lucky few friends :) I mailed 6!
7. Finish reading three books!  I've read 6 books this month; and am halfway through two more. On fire!

What's on your to-do list this month? 


#ScenesFromCambodia: Kampot & Phnom Penh

Hey World,

Can you believe it's already the end of the week? November is almost coming to a close and Christmas is in ONE MONTH (!!!). I'm plugging along away at work, and preparing my team for close oversight of farmers as they begin to plant their maize for this season. I'm also counting down the days until I head home for Christmas break!

Anyways, it's also time to wrap up my #ScenesFromCambodia posts. 
(PS: If you missed the first two Cambodia photo posts, check them out here & here!).

I had heard great things about Kampot, but at this point in my trip, was less inclined to do anything adventurous as I really only wanted to eat, write and sleep. My day in Phnom Penh was devoid of writing until the late afternoon, and though I heard a lot about how not-friendly the city is, I had an incredible experience there! It was definitely worth shelling out money for a centrally-located hotel which allowed me to walk around quite a bit, or hop on a motorcycle taxi.   

Guys, this was my sunset view every night while in Kampot. I'd often be writing from 12-12pm, taking one long break for dinner, so it was refreshing to stop by and watch the sun go down for a few minutes before getting back to work!
This guy creeped on me writing my thesis one day. Too funny!

My digs in Kampot!

Thesis Fuel: hot tea!

No matter where I go, my job seems to follow me! 

When there is no hope to finish your paper, look for Cheetos. 

A bag -- filled mostly with books! They were both super heavy, but I managed to carry them around for two weeks with limited back issues :)

Welcome to the capital!

Raspberry smoothie break. 

I got a manicure at this awesome place, just in case someone asked a specific question in coming weeks....(my hunch was right!!!)

Well guys, thanks again for tagging along through my Cambodia trip! Upcoming throwbacks will focus on East Africa (Rwanda & DRC), and in the new year, we'll go back to Europe (Slovenia, Slovakia, Venice & Austria!). 


May Your Gratitude Flow Like Gravy!

Hey World,

Thanksgiving is arguably one of, if my, #1 holidays, because it has everything I love the most: family/friends in one place, a reason to eat gravy, votive candles, and a conversations about gratitude. This year I had some wrenches thrown in my original plan that has delayed the celebrating (to host over a dozen coworkers for dinner), but has not delayed my gratefulness on this holiday!

Take some time today, tonight or early tomorrow (depending on your gravy glow!) and give infinite thanks for the blessings in your life. You can bet I will be throwing gratitude to the wind all evening long*!


PS: If you want a fun exercise to track your thankfulness, fill out this simple yet chic Month of Gratitude sheet by Emily Ley! 
PPS: If you want to share some gratitude with others, Kim from So Many Places has a really cool Yellow Envelope project to pay it forward with small acts of kindness. If you're interested, you can read about it here! She's sending envelopes all over the globe -- I know you want in!

*And also eating stuffing as soon as I can. LOTS of stuffing! 
(but never too much stuffing as there's simply no such thing :)

#ScenesFromCambodia: Siam Reap

Hey World,

While I started off strong with my photos from Angkor Wat in the last post (Marisa's Disco Tuk-Tuk Temple Tour!), there's a lot to do around Siam Reap, and is definitely worth a couple of days outside of your temple time, should your schedule allow!

While I didn't have much time aside from exploring some downtown temples and doing a bit of shopping, I did take off a half day to visit the Tongle Sap, which was awesome! Check it out below. 

I loved all of the details around Siam Reap!

Reading in the sunshine!

When in doubt, always order a blue cheese burger :)

One of my hour breaks!

Reading by the pool for HOURS meant this sun hat was a necessary purchase.

One of the best parts about this tour is that Brady did it about a year earlier, also while traveling solo! 

I love this: Making Grandma do all of the work :)

While passing through Sihanoukville on my way to Kampot, I took basically NO pictures! Most who head there stay right alongside the beach (which is gorgeous & is known for its party scene), but I opted for a night in a downtown hostel & then a hotel up on the hills to just break up my trip a bit. Honestly, if I had known the distances between the town & the beach, and more about how to get around, I would have opted for some beach time, or stopped in Battanbang instead. Live and you learn!

There's a final post coming on Friday from Kampot, and you can check out the previous post from my Disco Tuk-Tuk tour here. Hope you're enjoying the (delayed) trip to Cambodia!