12 Challenges in 2018

I put off my first 2018 post in this blog until I had some time to get into the year, and work out how I wanted to do the challenges.

I still like the idea, but I’m making it less about ‘do this much of this’ and more about just doing things.

I also found a website called Habitica, which turns my goals into a game. My avatar gains experience for completing things and takes damage for not. I wanted to make sure it worked as I needed it to before I officially made it my app for 2018.

In addition, I’m doing a six-week challenge with some friends, some of which overlaps with my 12 Challenges.

The goals are similar, but I’m being less strict about how to get them done. Particularly with the limitation of Habitica.

  • Daily Tracking: Goals I try to get done every day
    • Homemade Meal (per meal)
    • Cleaning (per 1/2 hour or chore done)
    • Writing (per 500 words recorded into yWriter)
  • Weekly: Try to get done twice per week
    • Guitar Practice
    • Drawing or Blender
    • Exercise
  • Over the Course of the Year
    • Got to 12 Events / Host 12 Times
    • Read 20 new Books
    • Try 30 new Recipes

Then there are three free goals each month, which will change as I need them to. Some of them will look familiar.

  • January
    • 10 No TV Days in January
    • Finish the Blender course on Udemy
    • Finish the last two Best Picture Winners

The goal, as I have been reminding myself lately, is not to mark off boxes on a sheet, but to improve myself. These are things I want to improve on, things I want to do. Some I find easier than others, sure, but that’ll always be the case. And maybe turning it all into a game will help.

S’more Cheesecake

I’ve been meaning to make a S’more cheesecake for some time, but I haven’t been experimenting with them as much as I used to. So when I had a chance to make one as payment to some friends to renting their guestroom for a weekend, I thought I’d take my chance.

The plan was pretty simple.

  • Graham cracker crust, unmodified, as I use in a lot of my recipes
  • Marshmallow melted into the cake itself, using the candied mixture
  • Milk Chocolate cover

Learning to melt marshmallows was the new aspect of this recipe, and it was pretty simple. Use a double boiler, with marshmallows and a few spoonfuls of water or cream. I used half the bag with water, boiled into goo and mixed in with the cake. Once the pans were full I decided to melt the other half, this time using cream, and create a layer of marshmallow, over which I would pour the chocolate.

I did all this in one night, and when I got to the chocolate part, I was tired and ready to go to bed, so I didn’t give the marshmallow enough time to set before I poured on the chocolate. The result:

Started S’more, came out Rocky Road.

The chocolate and the marshmallow toppings mixed, creating some sort of rocky road mixture. Luckily, it still tasted great. I brought in the three mini-cheesecakes to work for my co-workers / test subjects to try out. Some tasted more marshmallow than others, but they all enjoyed the final product. As did the family I made the large cake for. When I left after two nights, less than a quarter of the cake was left. By now, it may be all gone.

I was one of those who did not taste as much marshmallow as I’d have liked. Perhaps in the future I can mix more into the cake, or let the top set. I suppose I could even get some marshmallow flavoring, but honestly, where’s the fun in that.

If you want the actual recipe I used (not including the extra materials added to make three mini-cakes), let me know and I will post it.

Labor Day Weekend

August turned out like all the others: some successes, some failures, some begun and unfinished.

The big success from August was the challenge to not watch any old TV. Though I did use all five of my cheat days, not being able to just turn on Star Trek and have it on in the background as a distraction made a huge difference in the month. I cleared six seasons off my to watch list. Several days I didn’t turn it on, instead opting for computer work or apartment cleaning. And on the cheat days, I had to consider carefully what I was going to cheat with.

Anyway, with a long holiday weekend coming at the start of the month, I’m going to spend some time assembling some lists. I’m aiming to get ten recipes collected, so when I say two new recipes a month, I have them readily available. The spreadsheets have been working great, and I want to keep those up as well.

I’m repeating the same challenges for September, if only to teach myself how to stay on target. After all, these are things that I want to accomplish. Even if it takes me some time to get around to them.

August Goals

So, by getting back to it, apparently I meant, ‘get too distracted to post for three months.’ It’s been quite a busy set of months, between book stuff, Warrior Dash, conventions, etc.

I’ve still been trying the challenges, though I haven’t been posting. One thing that has been working has been to print out some spreadsheets and tape them on my apartment door, so I can look and see what I should be working on that day. It’s helped me increase my productivity.

So, for August, what am I going to try to do?

Daily Goals

  • Write, come out to 25,000 words recorded by the end of the month
  • Read, finish three books
  • Do not watch anything I’ve already seen (I have five cheat days for this one)

Weekly Goals

  • Drawing or Blender, 3 times a week
  • Watch a Movie, 1 time a week
  • Exercise, 3 times a week
  • Music Practice, 3 times a week
  • Game Theory Videos, 3 times a week

One Time Goals

  • 2 Recipes in the Kitchen
  • Host guests at my apartment
  • Go to an event in the cities

Getting back to it

March and April were pretty much dedicated towards getting my first books published (see my author website for details). Not that I gave up on my challenges, but I just stopped keeping track of them. I continued to read and write, clean, exercise, etc. But it wasn’t structured. And I didn’t get to a number of the planned challenges.

Now that the book is out there and I can calm down a little, I want to get back to the challenges. After all, these are not just things I write for fun. These are goals I set for myself, for my own betterment.

So, the May goals. Many recycled from before. As a mini-challenge, I want at least 6 of these to be Complete at the end of the month:

  • 15,000 words recorded
  • Read 2 books
  • Draw the character Corwin (and other doodles)
  • Finish Best Picture winners
  • Practice music 3 times a week
  • Exercise 3 times a week
  • Online class for Game Theory (watch up to Midterm)
  • Kitchen 1: Experiment with Tofu
  • Kitchen 2: Experiment with Rice dishes
  • Host friends
  • Go to an event (several planned this month).
  • Blog weekly (both blogs).


March 17 Challenges

Since February turned into a bad month, I’m recycling most of the goals. Replacing the no TV with ‘Start an online Game Theory Class’. It’s not for any credit, just for fun.

  • 10,000 words recorded
  • Read 2 books
  • Draw Corwin
  • 30 minutes of cleaning every day
  • Exercise 2+ times a week
  • Finish the Best Picture Winners (three left)
  • Music Practice 3+ times a week
  • Start an online Game Theory class
  • Cook another tofu recipe
  • Make pecan rolls
  • Host an event
  • Go to an event

February ’17 recap

From here on out, February of 2017 will be known by me as the month of the plague.

Just before Valentine’s day I started feeling off. By Sunday I was bed-bound, and stayed there until Tuesday. What did not help was being completely out of medicine and foods that you’re supposed to eat when sick. I basically had to suffer until I was recovered enough to go get the medicine and food I needed. Even now, more than two weeks after, I’ve still got a bit of a cough and my appetite is still surprisingly low.

What really sucked is I had been doing pretty good up until that weekend. Cleaning 1/2 hour every day was proving great, avoiding TV proved productive. I’d gotten some images together for the drawing so I’d know what I was trying to do. Things were looking good. Then I got smacked by this thing.

So I end February with three completed goals, seven started, and two not-started.

  • Completed
    • 14 days no TV
    • Hosted (sister stayed with me one night)
    • Made something with Tofu
  • Started
    • 4,000 of 10,000 words recorded
    • Read 1 book (The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood)
    • Started working on the Corwin drawing
    • Until sick, did 1/2 cleaning a day, saw a difference
    • Was exercising until sick
    • Watched 12 Years a Slave
    • Started music until sick
  • Not-Started
    • Did not make pecan rolls
    • Did not make it out to an event


February ’18

I spent some time pondering how to do this correctly, emphasizing what I’m going to be working on so the challenges work together with synergy. I know I’m going to have to clean up some to get the proper space for things like exercise and drawing, so that’s a free goal. And I’ve noticed my productivity plummets when I turn the TV on, so that’s another. By the end of the day I’m going to have recipes for the two kitchen goals ready. Then just keep at it every day.

  • ┬áDaily
    • Write (10,000 words a month saved to file)
    • Read (finish two books)
    • Draw (finish a drawing of Corwin)
    • Spend 30 minute cleaning my apartment every day
  • Weekly
    • Exercise (twice a week)
    • Movies (once a week) – Finish Best Picture Winners
    • Music Practice (thrice a week)
    • Go 14 days in February without turning on the TV
  • Monthly
    • Make something with Tofu
    • Make Pecan Rolls
    • Have someone over, in some capacity
    • Event: Have several options
      • Roller Girls
      • Science Museum
      • Intro Parkour
      • Wine Tasting

January 2017 Report

As I pretty much expected, January was still focused on getting the book published and trying to get the apartment in order. Neither project is finished, so February looks like it’ll be hampered as well.

The results of January are as follows:

  • Failed
    • Writing: Some writing done, but none saved to file.
    • Music: Didn’t touch the instruments at all this month
    • Tofu: Not attempted
    • Pecan Rolls: Not attempted
    • Hosted: Not attempted
  • Started:
    • Best Picture Winners: Watched Argo.
  • Partially Completed:
    • Reading: Finished one book (The Dictator’s Handbook by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita, et al)
    • Drawing: Did some minor sketches on scratch paper, did not do a complete character drawing
    • Exercises: Did five of a hopeful eight exercises.
    • Salads: 13 of 20.
  • Completed:
    • No Soda or Alcohol for a whole month
  • Surpassed:
    • Event: Did two, but neither were the Roller Girls.
      • Marched in the St. Paul Women’s March
      • Volunteered to pack aid boxes for starving children.

I will get February’s up tomorrow.

The 12 Challenges in 2017 and the January 12

With every new year comes the yearly structure for the 12 Challenges. ┬áThis year, instead of just adjusting some goals, I’ve worked over the whole outline.

Instead of ‘Culture’, ‘Creativity’, ‘Kitchen’ and ‘Free’, it’s now based on how often the goal will come up over the course of the month.

  • Daily: Something that I will do almost every day
  • Weekly: something I will need to attend to one to three times a week
  • Monthly: something I need to do once during the month.

I’m also reducing the number of free goals from three to two. I’m also going to try to not make them both the same category, so I don’t get too bogged down in Daily or Weekly challenges.

So here’s the 2017 12 Challenges structure:

  • Daily
    • Write (10,000 words a month saved to file)
    • Read (finish two books)
    • Draw (finish one drawing a month)
  • Weekly
    • Exercise (twice a week)
    • Movies (once a week)
    • Music Practice (thrice a week)
  • Monthly
    • Two different Kitchen Goals
    • Host an event
    • Attend and event / visit something new

For 2017

Hoping to start 2017 on a healthy kick, some of the goals are oriented towards that.

  • Daily
    • Write
    • Read
    • Draw : RPG Character, Corwin the Unkind
    • FREE: No Soda or Alcohol for the Entire Month
  • Weekly
    • Exercise
    • Movies – Finish the Best Picture Winners
    • Music Practice
    • FREE: 20 Salads in January
  • Monthly
    • Make something with Tofu
    • Caramel Pecan Rolls
    • Event: Minnesota RollerGirls, January 21st
    • Host: A writing night