Small Goals: March 2017

Chrystina Noel Small Goals March 2017

Today I’m linking up with Nicole at Writes Like a Girl to talk about March’s small goals. It’s about 15 days too late for goals, but that just means I only have 15 more days to accomplish them.

But first, let’s take a look at February’s goals to see how I did.

  1. Make my first king cake.
    Success! You can check that out in my Mardi Gras Brunch recap post.
  2. Make Ben a nice Valentine’s Day card.
    I managed this too! That said, it got lost before he was able to open it. Lucky for me I got one photo of it.
  3. Leave work at the office.
    I’ve gotten better. Still not perfect.
  4. Finish the branding for the podcast Jess and I want to start.
    Success. You can check out a preview here.
  5. Get my heat fixed.
    Fail. So hard. That said. It decided to work during the snowstorm, so that was cool. I have no idea why though.

4/5 – I’ll take it. Now onto March’s goals for this year.

  1. Complete the Whole30.
    That’s what the goal would have been at the beginning of the month. Already I’ve decided I’m only doing a Whole28. More on that to come in the recap post. Needless to say, if you’ve been following along with the currently posts, you know I’ve now been partially hungry for 15 days.
  2. Clean out the fridge & pantry.
    While this kind of goes along with the Whole30, there’s also just far too much stuff in my house leftover from parties I’m never going to actually eat or drink. (Popcorn, chips, juice boxes, etc.)
  3. Meet 3 cool new people at The Lady Project Summit.
    I’m a panelist on a blogger panel at The Lady Project Summit in Providence, RI the weekend of March 24 – 26. I’m super excited about it – hope to see some of you there!
  4. Make some progress on the books on my nightstand. 
    I know this was a January goal, but I really think I can do it this month.
  5. Take a load of stuff to Philly AIDS Thrift.
    I’ve had a bag ready to go for a few weeks, I want to take a final pass through things and then get it out of the bedroom. It’s just taking up space. It needs to be gone.

And that’s it. All pretty much cleaning related, but that’s what spring cleaning is all about, isn’t it?

Currently Vol. 08

Chrystina Noel Currently Vol. 08

Another week has gone by. Another week of the Whole 30. Another weekend vacation in Lancaster. Another trip to New York. My life is apparently just on repeat at this point. (I could use a day off in case that was unclear. So close, I have three days off later this month.)

At least I’ve gotten to hang out with some cool people. That always make the chaos a little better.

Spending time in New York City for work, where I got to see the lovely Harper Yi, spend a lot of time at salad bars, and walk a heck of a lot of miles.

Exploring Lancaster again, this time with a few ladies for a creative retreat weekend. There will be a post coming up about that soon, it was definitely a lot of fun.

Hungry/Hangry. I now feel like I’ve been hungry for 12 days. (I’m sure y’all can’t wait for this Whole 30 recap post.)

Working on the new podcast. Can’t wait to release it to y’all. Unsurprisingly, it’s about parties. Get ready for the go-live on April 1.

Wishing my heat was fixed. And that the weather would make up its gosh forsaken mind. I’m 100% sick of cold. (Although I’m definitely not quite ready to need to start shaving my legs again.)

Jaded. I need a change in life. Life has been almost exactly the same for the past 4 years and I’m going to need something to spice it up soon or I’m going to snap.

Splurging on myself just a little bit. Last week I bought myself two pairs of Toms and another pair of Madewell jeans because my Gap ones got a rip in them after only a few months.

I wrote the whole post this weekend and then never pushed publish apparently. Oops. So this week it’s currently on a Tuesday. Happy Pi Day, y’all.

Find The Best Wine Under $20

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

It’s been two years since I had my last “find the best wine” party. The inspiration for this party was the suggestion to add a chalkboard to my living room that could be utilized during parties. It seemed like the perfect time to take a second stab at finding the best wine under $20. (Last time it was under $10, but now we’ve grown up a bit.)

A word for the wise. (Just going to lay this out there right off the bat.) There’s something I forgot about this type of party. In order to get the absolute most out of it, you should definitely specify which type of wine you’re trying to find the best of – whether that’s find the best merlot under $20, find the best sweet wine under $20, or find the best wine to pair with my favorite gouda under $20. That would definitely bring more structure to the party and result with an actual outcome. When you have 10 different bottles of wine, you’re essentially voting on your favorite type of wine. I guess we’re just going to have to do it again. (Rough life, I know.)

That said. Please note that for the 22 oz. beer party I had where the purpose was to just try as many beers as possible, I think it was totally acceptable to have all different varieties. It made it more interesting for the pallet – and there was something there for everyone.

Now, onto the party.

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

I was very proud of myself. After a few weeks of parties where I had way too much food, I think I got it right for this one.

Wine Party Menu

  • Baked Ziti, Ricotta, and Mozzarella – it’s super easy to make ahead of time, feeds a lot of people, and is great reheated if you have leftovers
  • Cheese – this is definitely the most expensive part of the lineup, we went with gorgonzola, midnight moon, truffle tremor, and gouda, the gorgonzola definitely didn’t go as fast as the others, I would probably leave it out next time unless there was something special to pair it with
  • Spinach Dip – I don’t know why I took this out of my circuit of usuals, it’s so easy to make and it’s delicious. It also gives you an excuse to put more healthy things on the able to dunk in it.
  • Philly Pretzel Factory Pretzels – I still ordered too many, I really need to work on this (1 per person is too many)
  • Sweet Snacks – Cookies, brownies, and chocolates
  • Savory Snacks – Bread, crackers, carrots, and popcorn

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

The Party Setup

This is actually a pretty easy party to setup for, and the activity takes care of itself. There are only a few things you need ahead of time:

  • A rating system – we decided to rank each wine 1-10 (worst to best), I found this to be much easier than needing to put all of the wines in order of worst to best. This does, however, mean that you could rank every bottle of wine the score of an 8.
  • A way for people to record their wine ratings – this is how you find the best wine under $20, last time we did this we used score cards that everyone carried around with them and I typed the numbers into an excel spreadsheet at the end of the night. This time we used the chalkboard wall.
  • Bags to cover the bottles – this is so that you can’t judge a book by its cover (or wine by its bottle), we also labeled them so we knew which bottle was which
  • A way to tell your glasses apart – I have a stash of “wine charms” that everybody got to choose from
  • A great icebreaker question icebreaker games are my favorite (in case you’re new around here), we went around in the circle and everyone told the story of the first drink they ever had

One of the fun parts of this party is that everybody actually brought two bottles of wine with them. We tasted one of them and the other one went into a prize pile. So with 11 bottles of wine, there were also 11 prize bottles of wine available for the winners.

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel
Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel
Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel
Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Drinking Responsibly

There are a few things you can do to make sure that your guests stay put together. Also, you can tell that we’re growing up, because I don’t think I did most of these last time we had the party.

  • Serve food – between the baked ziti and pretzels I felt like there were enough options to keep people full throughout the night
  • Make sure there’s water nearby – don’t make it so people have to ask for it, keep it right in front of them and always full
  • Provide a dump bucket – you’re not going to like every type of wine you pour, it’s okay to dump some of it out at the end of your glass (that said, we suggest you only pour a few ounces to not be wasteful until you know you like it)

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Tallying the Score

At the end of the party, you unveil all of the wine bottles, total the score, and find out who won. The persons who won took home 5 bottles, second place took 3, and third place took 3. (I think? It’s a little hazy.)

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

And then what happens is you leave a bunch of tipsy engineers alone with the numbers too long and they try to find the standard deviations to see if the scoring was really fair. Admittedly, some people scored bottles over a range of 6 numbers and some scored over a range of 3 numbers. There’s probably a way to even the playing field a little bit in the future. Maybe you rate 1-7 instead of 1-10. Also, I think if the wines were more similar it would be easier to compare them. I’m not sure that our top three bottles are actually the best bottles because of the aforementioned reasons, but here were the winners:

  1. Bottle 6: 19 Crimes, The Banished, $8.99
  2. Bottle 8: Joel Gott Zinfandel, $14.79
  3. Bottle 5: Apothic Red, $7.49

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

At the end of the day, a great time was had at all. I recommend getting through the tasting in somewhere between an hour and 90 minutes so that the rest of the wine is available for drinking the rest of the night. We closed out the night with board games – and I made a cup of tea because that’s what happens when you get older.

Have you ever had a party like this? How would you have you tried to keep the scoring fair? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below.

Currently Vol. 07

Currently Vol. 07

Last week started off very stressful and ended much more calmly, which was appreciated. This upcoming week will probably slap me in the face thanks to my few days of relaxation, but that’s a problem for future Chrystina, so here we are.

Finished with the big audits that we were doing at the office. There are still many more to go, but the big ones that were taking up the majority of my nights and weekends were finally finished.

Stressed out about a mentor/mentee networking event. We did an Iron Chef competition here in Philadelphia where everybody is given a team of ingredients and you have 30 minutes to cook a course, whether it is an appetizer, entree, or dessert. This is not my jam. I am just genuinely programmed wrong for it. First of all, I’m a planner. To the extreme, that is how I deal with my anxiety of cooking, I spent a lot of time planning and prepping so I know what I’m doing. I’m also an Integrator, which means that I like consensus among a group. There’s no time for consensus in Iron Chef competitions, only doing. So that was stressful. It turned out fine though, and my mentee spent a lot of time calming me down, so that was nice of her.

Loving the feeling of acting as a mentor. I’ve gotten the chance to do it a few times recently. It feels good to offer wisdom I’ve learned and some of my connections to really cool folks I’ve been meeting.

Exploring Lancaster with Ben. Every since visiting Lisa last summer in Lancaster I’ve said I wanted to take Ben back with me. It’s such an adorable city. It’s so walk-able. There are so many coffee shops. And the farm-to-table mentality is wonderful.

Surviving the Whole30. I did indeed start the Whole30 on Wednesday. (There will be a blog post at the end, don’t you worry.) Surviving might be too harsh of a verb. It’s happening. It’s eh. My mouth is a little bored. I’m always a little bit hungry. I’m a little over-anxious about messing up. But it’s happening. We’ll see how the amount of traveling I’m doing in the next few weeks interferes with this. Five days in I’m still doing okay (I think).

Looking forward to touching base with everybody next week. Enjoy!