October 15, 2016

October Goals Progress!

I didn't post on Friday, so here's a BONUS post to count towards my challenge haha.

It's pretty much exactly halfway through the month and I never shared my October goals... Oops.  Well, here they are and some of my progress towards some of them.

October Goals

  1. Work: Pick up extra hours.  I'm able to sub a bunch of times over the next couple of weeks!  Success.
  2. Gym: 3-4x/week.  So far, so good...
  3. Stick to dat good food.  This week I didn't go food shopping, so I didn't meal plan well at all.  There's still a couple of weeks to redeem myself.
  4. REALLY apply to [colleges].  I applied to two today! - whew.  Both are online programs in the computer/information science field.
  5. Practice ukulele more.  I've played around a few times, but I haven't learned anything new this month.
  6. Tithe.  I tithed my first paycheck this month, and plan to tithe when I get my next one in a week.
  7. Open a savings account.  Haven't done this yet.
  8. Look for another PT job. (?)  May or may not get on this, depending on how school plans look for next semester.
  9. Be brave and meet someone new.  I don't think I have yet...
  10. Go apple/pumpkin picking.  I've gone apple picking already!  Pumpkins are next.
  11. Paint bedroom/closet doors and trim white.  The side of the doors that face into my room are unpainted!  It bugs me so much.  :P
  12. Watch Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part II.  Yes, this made it to my October Goals list because it's been like a month since I watched the other seven movies... I started to watch it but got bored and returned the DVD to the library.
  13. Get on a good sleep schedule.  Hahahhahahahdfsal.dsfalkj
  14. Do 1 unexpected thing that would surprise Past Lauren to hear about.  Well I mean I accepted a very casual sort-of date for the first time in a while.  So.  That would probably have surprised me.  I have Thoughts on dating in general that I'd like to get to in an upcoming post...
  15. Run a 5k.  In two weeks I'll run a 5k!  I am already anxious about it.  I just want to finish in under 50 minutes and with my dignity mostly intact.

Let's see what the rest of the  month brings!

My Week in Pictures

You're going to learn fast that I am a HUGE fan of the sky and take pictures of it often!  This was on Sunday.

I had off from work on Monday due to the holiday, and what a beautiful day it turned out to be.  Here is a picture from my bedroom window of my dog frolicking in the lawn Monday morning!  Instead of working, I went shopping for makeup and stuff, which I haven't done in a looong time.  I got some nice things.

Tuesday was nice too!  I brought out my most oversized of sweaters and took advantage of the (early) golden hour.

That sky.  *__*

A decent manicure for one must be documented.......................

I play the ukulele a little... Here is an artzy pic of my cheapie uke.

On Wednesday I had an awesome run at the gym and that's pretty much it - so here is a tacky post-run selfie.

Oh, and another sunset picture.

On Thursday I went for my first real outdoors run!  Listen, I will argue that it's a lot harder to run outside - I struggle to pace myself the way I can on a treadmill.  But it was a gorgeous day and I was happy with my run.  I'm preparing to run a 5k at the end of the month on this same trail, let's see how that goes....

Later I went to a soccer game.  I'm not a huge fan of soccer lol, but on a brisk fall day, yesss let's sit outside in lawn chairs with blankets and cheer for a game - I won't complain.  Afterwards, a friend brought my sister and I out for coffee... It was a pretty good night!

Here are some foliage pictures from Friday, taken in the town I work in.

Also, I'm practicing my Halloween outfit.  I work on Halloween so I feel like I have to do something! Since I work at a library, I'm thinking 1940s librarian.  I got the vintage makeup and Oxford shoes down, I think, I just gotta learn how to do the victory roll hairstyle and work on an outfit that really makes it obvious that I'm in costume instead of just looking exceptionally dorky....

Just practicing my hand lettering at work today... It was slow!

More sweaterage.  It's totally fall now, I'm not in any kind of denial anymore.

After work today, I drove to the airport to watch the sunset.  One of my favorite places!

Also, tonight's moon is a Hunter's Moon (?) - basically it's huge and really freaked me out for a second when I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I drove home from the airport!  I couldn't get a good picture of it; you can barely see the glow over the trees in the bottom right of this picture:

But it was HUGE and yellow and so awesome.

So that's it!  My week in pictures.  I missed yesterday, oh no!  No big deal; 3 posts in one week is more than I've done in a long time.

October 12, 2016

Alicia Keys and Skydiving

Hello again!

I first want to say that I have changed my blog's address - it's now www.laurenmcroke.blogspot.com.  I think making it my own name reflects how this blog is going to become more of a ~regular thing~ and maybe one day I'll come up with a REALLY GREAT NAME, but this will work for now.  I also changed the title, which is also definitely subject to change again.

I've been watching a couple of episodes of The Voice and noticed how beautifully simple & natural Alicia Keys looks.  I'm totally out of the loop but apparently she recently caused a stir by going makeup free!  She talks about it a little bit starting at 1:32 in the video above.

She says it all very succinctly - better than I can express - but the little message she's sending by going on TV with no makeup really resonates with me.  I didn't start wearing makeup until I was 16, but I quickly became dependent on covering up and painting on my face: when you get used to looking at your face with makeup on, it's difficult to be happy with how you look once the makeup comes off.  A couple of years ago I did a "No-Makeup November" and it really gave me a new perspective on what real beauty is and helped me appreciate the way I "really" look.  Since then, I've definitely reduced the amount of makeup I wear and how often I wear it.  But I never feel "ugly" or like I'm missing something when I don't have makeup on anymore.  I feel like I look like myself!

I think it's cool to see a celebrity showing us what her "real" face looks like.  :)

This is Dodie Clark, my ukulele senpai.  ;)  I saw her and some other YouTubers in concert back in May.  In this video, she talks about her experience skydiving.  Listen, it's hard for me to even hear about someone skydiving, and I don't see myself EVER in a million years doing it.  But that's what Dodie felt like too, and she actually did it!

I think I liked this video because I relate to it so much - her fear of heights, the anxiety she experiences, etc.  And her story-telling is beautiful - I was enthralled from start to finish and felt her emotions along with her.

Finally, something a little weird from PJ Liguori.  If you're like me, if you watch it once you'll watch it a hundred times.

October 10, 2016

Happy Monday! | | Small Plants

Welcome to the first day of my 2-week blogging challenge! Today I have decided to highlight my love for small plants!

I guess I mostly love having plants around because they feel like a little piece of living, breathing nature inside.  I try to vary the look of the plants I have and the type of container I put them in; they all are a little bit different and unique.  I don't know the names of most of them, but that doesn't matter a whole lot to me.  :)

This one on the top shelf of my bookshelf is some type of succulent - I thought it might be aloe but it's more spider-y than the aloe plant I have.  Either way, I've had it since it was a third of the size it is now; it's grown so much since I got it and I've had to re-pot it several times.

 I got these flowers at Shop Rite a couple of weeks ago when I went food shopping... Typical of me to come home with flowers when I all I needed was some veggies and almond milk.  They feel very autumn-y to me and bring some color to my desk!  They're behind the laptop as I type this.  :)

This one is also on my bookshelf obviously.  I used up a very nice soy candle and was left with this gorgeous empty candleholder, so I just put this aloe plant in it!

These lil guys are chilling in a dish because I just watered them (succulents don't need a lot of water, but they need the soil to have a good soaking once in a while).  See how plump the leaves of the front ones are?  They were pretty flat before I watered them, but once there was moisture in the soil, they absorbed it right into their leaves.  Succulents are pretty cool.

I had to take this one from my desk and put it near the window so I could get good enough lighting on it.  This one has also grown significantly since I got it; I re-potted it into this mason jar.

The plants in the tiny pots are in the same containers/soil they came in from Home Depot, but the ones I re-potted have a good draining type of soil, some sand, and gravel.  They all get plenty of sun, and I sometimes move the smaller ones to the windowsill for some extra light.  They're pretty easy to care for, and very forgiving for someone like me.  :)  I don't have a green thumb, but I like doing the research to find out how to care for plants, and I LOVE having greenery around me at all times!

October 9, 2016

"All I can do is run"

Here's my pathetic attempt to make up for missing my first installment of "Food & Fitness Friday."  I guess the point of this segment is to talk about my progress and discoveries as far as health and exercise goes, so that's where I'll start!

This past week I surprised myself: I discovered I can now run for 10 minutes without stopping to walk.  I know that this is not an amazing feat of athleticism, but for me, it's huge!  It was difficult for me to run just 3 minutes when I first started a little over a month ago.  Now that I've more than tripled my running time, I feel confident that I can keep improving my time and distance until I can proudly call myself a "runner!"

Another big milestone for me was running outside in the real world, and not in Planet Fitness on a treadmill.  :)  There are definitely pros and cons to running on a treadmill.

Gym Treadmill Pros:
  • It's easy to keep a consistent pace
  • There is no wind/weather to contend with
  • There are no unforeseen obstacles

Gym Treadmill Cons:
  • It's monotonous
  • I literally feel like a hamster in a wheel
  • Sometimes another person will pick the treadmill right next to me
  • Sometimes that person will run faster than me
  • Sometimes that person will smell weird

I'm used to running on the treadmill now.  I used to get SUPER bored and had to watch YouTube videos for entertainment, but now I just put on a Spotify playlist and play games in my head to stay interested and pushing forward, like "I can keep running til the song ends."

But running outside is so wonderful on a nice day!  The fresh air, sunshine, changing leaves, and birds chirping makes it such a natural experience.  Sadly, as much as I try to simulate running outdoors by adjusting the treadmill incline to 1.5 or 2.0, it's still more tiring, and it's so hard to find the right pace and stay consistent.

I did alright, though.  I was able to do exactly what I've been doing on the treadmill, so I was happy with that.  I'll be running a 5k on the very same road, so it's good to get a feel for it now.

Here's a song by my favorite band that kind of goes along with this post!

4 Blog Posts/Wk. Challenge?

I want to write more.  And I'm encouraged by how my 2-week ~gym challenge~ went.  I'm now beginning week FIVE!  I'm following the "Couch to 5k" running plan, so today I walked five minutes, ran 9 minutes, and walked five minutes.  For a healthy 21 year old, I am way outta shape, but I'm proud of the progress I've made so far.
Anyway, what if I was to do a 2-week blogging challenge?  Maybe on the days that my running plan says "Relax!" I can spend some time writing a blog post for the next two weeks.

I'm partially inspired by Kelli Taylor (her blog is Currently Kelli) and other blogs that I read to do a theme for certain days of the week.  Maybe that would make it slightly less daunting looking ahead at writing eight posts in two weeks. But I have to make them things I'm excited about and that I can see having something to say about every week.

Obviously I'm writing this today, so I guess there will be an extra post this week, but I'm really starting the challenge tomorrow.  I hope this is a successful and fun two weeks of blogging!

October 5, 2016

September: Goals Review & Discoveries

Oh, it' is October.  When did that happen?

I'm honestly always super bummed out by summer turning into fall (as much as I like to think I'm an adaptable, spontaneous person, I've learned I am pretty resistant to change).  To help myself transition, rather than become sad and wish it was still summer, I've learned to embrace the changing of seasons a little better by going into all-out autumn mode once September 22nd arrives!

I pulled out all my sweaters from the top shelf of my closet, sorted through summer clothes and pared down my wardrobe... I added a fun fall twist to my room's decor... I am appreciating the gorgeous foliage while its at its peak autumn colors (upstate NY is the place to be this time of year!)... I'm going to soccer games while it's still nice out... I am partaking in quintessential fall activities, like visiting a pick-your-own orchard, making an apple crisp, and drinking a salted caramel latte.

I'm a low-key fan of autumn now, I guess.  Once I learned to embrace change a little more I found myself a lot happier.

ANYWAY.  September goals.  I had a few of them.  Let's see how I did:

September Goals 2016


  • Pick up more days at work.  I was able to fill in twice for coworkers, but other than that I wasn't able to pick up as many days as I hoped I could.  In the summer we're always switching around and substituting, but now that vacations are over and stuff, I guess we're all settled back into our regular schedules.
  • Save and tithe more/spend less.  This was a HUGE fail.  I spent pretty much as much as I made this month.
  • Take more walks.  I far surpassed my goal here: I joined a gym and have walked/ran on the treadmill at least 3 times a week!  I'm very proud of myself for sticking to it so far.
  • Practice ukulele more. I learned a couple of new Dodie Clark songs and began a little structured practice through the Yousician app.  So this was alright.
  • Finish HTML/CSS course on CodeAcademy. I kind of let this peter out... Not a win.


  • Complete website for my mom's homeschool sports organization.  I canceled this one.
  • Apply for an online college.  I didn't do this.
  • Get involved with a ministry. I tried!  My church announced a need for volunteers in a couple of areas and I made an effort to contact the office so I could get involved, but I haven't gotten a response back.  I hope to follow up soon.
  • Make an appointment for a new fall haircut.  Check!  I like it.
  • Take inventory of fall/winter clothes and go shopping for what I'm missing.  I went through my clothes the first day of fall and switched out seasonal clothing, and found out what I needed.  My list was 1) A high-quality fall jacket, 2) Tall black boots, 3) A couple of pull over sweaters, 4) New slippers.  I got a beautiful burnt sienna-colored fall jacket that I am SO happy with, but other than that the only money I spent on clothes was a few gym outfits and fancy new running shoes.

So I mean, this month went alright I think as far as the goals I set.  But the month was definitely a win in other ways that aren't reflected by this list.

Other September Events/Discoveries


  • I completed my two-week gym/healthy eating challenge!  I loosened up on it a little bit, but I am spending almost nothing on fast food (a couple of iced coffees a week) and I am learning how to meal plan/grocery shop.
  • I tried to be less hermit-y lol: I went to a Labor Day bonfire at my sister's friend's house and had fun playing volleyball and enjoying a little jam session, I went to Community Day in the village I work in (and caught a runaway dog! Exciting times), I went to a couple of soccer games (trying to spend time outside while it's nice out), and I visited my brother at college in PA overnight (an ordeal for me since I am anxious during long car rides due to anxiety BUT it was a good time seeing him).
  • My car broke down a few miles from home... Not fun but an experience I can say I've had.  I am thankful that God gave me peace when it happened and I was just chillin right off the road rather than being an anxious mess.
  • I actually met someone new this month - it's kind of crazy, but in my routine I don't meet a lot of new people, especially people my age.  The fact that I am adding this to a list of Things That Happened shows you how pathetic my social life is.  ;)
  • We put our family dog in a kennel for a few days while we were away visiting my brother at college.  It was traumatizing for her and for us - she is spoiled and it was SO HARD to leave her there.  NEVER AGAIN.


  • Air for Free by Relient K came out this summer, but I only discovered it at the end of August.  Relient K is one of only a couple of artists I am loyal to (I usually appreciate music on a strictly song-by-song basis lol) and I was a little thrown off by their 2013 album Collapsible Lung, so to listen to Air for Free all the way through once... And then again... And then again and again and enjoy it every single time was such a great experience!
  • I also discovered the Christian "WORKOUT" Spotify playlist.  Yaaaasss.

Other Media

  • I watched Stranger Things.  I was a little late to the party by getting into this show a couple of months after it was released on Netflix.  But I am always excited to find a new TV show that I can binge watch.  In fact, I loved it so much that I introduced my family to it, and we've been watching it every night this past week.  We're all hooked.  I especially like it as a way to kind of get into the spooky mood even though I don't celebrate Halloween and I don't watch horror movies - binge watching Stranger Things is as festive as I'll get this month lol.
  • I played Tuber Simulator.  This is PewDiePie's new game and I'm slightly addicted to it right now.  That's a huge feat, since I don't usually care for iPhone games. (Add me if you play too: my username is saxonprotestor)

It's a beautiful day and I'm not trying to waste it indoors, so bye for now...