Saturday, January 15, 2011


101 Challenges in 1001 days - end results!

The Mission: Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

When did we start? Thursday, April 10th, 2008

When did we end? January 6, 2011

What did we learn? An awful lot, really. I'll go through them, item by item, after sorting out the ones we completed from the ones we didn't.

Which items did we not complete?
3 Have a crab dinner: I don't even like crab. I begin to wonder why we put this on the list in the first place.

9 Go on a cruise: This may very well happen this year.

10 Visit Hershey, PA
11 Visit Yellowstone
13 visit Mary Lou & do some painting
65 Visit Wales
66 See Hadrian's Wall
We love to travel ... but we couldn't fit in all the trips that we'd hoped for. I think if we'd stopped to count them & to consider vacation time we would've put fewer on the list to begin with!

15 go to Starved Rock
38 Go to the Art Museum in Milwaukee
These 2 are about an hour and a half from our house. We just didn't seem to have as much interest in completing them as we thought we would. I'm still interested in going to Starved Rock ... H is on the fence. And it was his idea to do the Art Museum, because he's a bigger art buff than I am. But now he realizes a lot of it is modern art, which neither one of us really likes.

22 have house powerwashed: We really thought this would happen this past fall, but then suddenly time & weather made it impossible to do.

34 Read three books of the Bible.: Again, more of a priority for H than me. I've read the Bible in its entirety years ago, but I thought this item would feed H's soul. Apparently it's not a big item for him. This still puzzles me.

40 Donate 1,000,000 grains of rice through (100,000/1,000,000, started 4/10/08): People ... 1 million grains of rice is a ridiculous amount of rice, when counted a few grains at a time. We'd've needed to do about 1,000 grains a day. For 1001 days. Ain't gonna happen.

48 See the Northern Lights: Not at the right place at the right time. I think I'd avoid putting something on a to-do list that we have no control over, in future.

68 Limit computer usage to 1 hour per weekday for 2 weeks: In the end, H shot this down. I thought I could pull it off, but he thought he'd go berserk.

77 Buy new bookshelves for living room: Finances got in the way of this one. And we also unexpectedly downsized a lot of our books, so there wasn't as much pressure to get new shelves. I'd really like some shelves sized to fit standard sized paperbacks, especially. This may be a dream to fulfill later in life.

87 Go 3 times to a place where DH will feel comfortable wearing his snazzy shoes (1/3): Apparently we are not fancy-schmancy people. I mean, we can be, but we don't trend that way. And these are some pretty snazzy shoes.

= $80 for the 16 items left uncompleted. We've got a couple of places we're considering donating this: Kiva or Family to Family. Right now, this month we don't have $80 to spare, so it won't get donated until February, anyway, so we have time to keep pondering.

Which items did we complete? 1 Eat a vegetable with every dinner for a month
2 Avoid deep fat fried foods for 1 month

4 Dine out, just the 2 of us, once every 2 weeks for 2 months

5 Get out some cookbooks and magazines and review recipes
: We culled out many of the recipes we'd been hanging onto. And a bonus: turns out we like (and are pretty good at) making jam. This may well become an annual tradition of sorts. Heck, H just noticed strawberries are in season and mentioned making some strawberry jam today!

6 Create a meal together once a week for 3 weeks

7 Buy a DVD, come home, and make popcorn

8 Visit every public area in the
Magic Kingdom - This one was tremendously fun & encouraged us to poke around in corners!

12 make caramel corn with Aunt Mary Ann

14 find a roadside fruit or vegetable seller & make a purchase

16 visit the
Art Institute

17 spend 20 minutes a day, just playing with & petting our cats, for 2 weeks

18 extend a loan on

19 sign up to play secret Santa for 4 kids with
Chicago Sun Times' Season of Sharing: This has been tremendous fun & may become an annual tradition. We actually wound up doing it for 6 kids over 3 Christmases. This year, we even got thank you notes from the kids, written to Santa. And Santa wrote one of them back! FUN!!

20 Make a $50 donation to

21 fix sword anchor in wall & fill holes

23 inflate exercise ball to proper size
: Doing this resulted in me realizing that I wasn't really using it even when it was inflated properly. I sold it at the garage sale. Goodbye, good riddance!

24 clean gutters

25 Go an entire week without swearing or cursing
: #$%^!* this one was hard. We failed it 4 times in a row. I think we succeeded only because we gave ourselves an out for once a day. Turns out I swear an awful lot in the name of exaggeration for storytelling. H just swears in reaction to things, especially pain. We did it, though. !@$& yeah!

26 Make a Chinese banquet for friends and family

27 Make homemade ice cream

28 Plan a treasure hunt

29 No fast food for one month
: We hardly do fast food now. So this was a really good item to break us out of a not-so-healthy routine. Also, it resulted in some fascinating conversations about what constitutes fast food. I mean ... Steak & Shake? It's a sit-down place ... with a drive-through. I can't even remember how we wound up categorizing it. But I know we did say that Subway and Qdoba weren't fast food, because they had some pretty healthy options, plus they had no drive-through. We decided drive-throughs are the devil: they allow one to mindlessly pick up food without really stopping to consider options.

30 Find a new restaurant worthy of becoming a new favorite - combining this one with our item below on visiting new restaurants worked out well. We found new favorites ... and many closed!

31 Find one bread recipe to make regularly

32 Pay off a credit card

33 make cinnamon rolls from scratch

35 See a
Cirque de Soleil show. We saw 2 actually: Zumba and La Nouba. Both were great!

36 Go to
Adler Panetarium

37 Go to the
Shedd Aqauarium

39 Stay at a B&B in Madison, Wisconsin

41 Reevaluate 10 foods/drinks we claim not to like
This was quite a mind-opener. And I don't need to do it again anytime soon.

42 Don't say anything negative for 1 day
This was a real challenge ... first we had to define what we meant by "negative"!

43 Support a charity walk/run: On 4/26/08, we sponsored a friend, Lauren, who walked in the March for Babies, then in September of 2010, we both walked 3 miles for the Heart Walk.

44 Grow basil and make pesto with it

45 Look for additional blades for Cuisinart

46 Take a class at
Brookfield Zoo

47 Visit
Yosemite Just an absolutely breathtaking beautiful spot on Earth. Go.

49 Go for a picnic in a secluded spot

50 Go to Kohler Waters new Spa We loved the spa up at Kohler, but didn't like the adjacent resort or the drive to get there. We had high hopes for the closer spot ... but after a couple of visits, they started going downhill.

51 Lose 15 pounds each
We wound up losing 70 pounds total ... then we both gained back 20 pounds each, which we both blame on the stress of the adoption process & pouring so much of our lives into that, instead of into self-care. We're back on track, though, and expect to lose more.

52 Spend every Tuesday (changed to SATURDAY) night without computers or TV for 3 months
Poor H, this was so hard for him. He's so much a game & TV geek in his free time. It encouraged us to go out, to bust out some boardgames, and to do other things. I loved it.

53 Spend a whole day in jammies, with no outside communication (phones, computers)
This one was a toughie. We both learned how quickly we resort to a phone or the internet to look up information!

54 Take a dancing lesson we actually took 3!

55 Go one week without soda
This went hand-in-hand with some of our other goals. I'd say we now have soda every 2-3 days, maybe.

56 Visit Field Museum

57 Eat only food we create from scratch for 2 weeks
: This one is the most mind-blowing of them all. We discovered that when we don't have preservatives, we both lose weight. It's not an issue of counting calories, just preservatives. For some reason (as yet unexplained by any science we've discovered) when we eat fewer preservatives, our bodies let go of weight. Weird, but true. You'd think that would motivate us to avoid all preservatives, but it's just really damned hard. They're in so many things & we just haven't created a lifestyle where we can avoid them. Still, it dramatically altered the way we eat. We let ourselves get sloppy the past 9 months or so, but now we're back to having only 3 meals a week that have preservatives in them (or that we're not sure about). Hopefully the weight will start coming off again, too.

58 Walk for 1 hour a week, for 6 weeks We did this one in spring of 2008, under the guise of getting in better shape to withstand walking at Disney World. H hated it. For me, it was a breeze.

59 Pay for the person behind us in line We still do this occasionally. And it brings us great delight.

60 Donate $5 to charity for every item not completed on this list by the due date

61 Take a cooking class

62 Get 8 hours of sleep every night for 2 weeks
This was another tough one for H. I'm a 9 hours at night kind of gal, so it wasn't hard for me!

63 Go to an adoption seminar We did this in the spring of 2008, and by the fall of 2008, we'd picked an agency. By the spring of 2009, we were "live" ... and we've been waiting ever since for a birthmother to pick us. Still hard to wait!

64 grow something: in the summer of 2007 we grew tomatoes, oregano, & zinnias

67 Visit
Caneel Bay: We did this in 2009. Boy, we want to go back.

69 Sit on porch or in living room for 30 minutes every day for 1 month

70 fix driveway

71 install new mailbox (started 4/11/08, completed 4/14/08)
: Let me just say this: I hate snowplows. The mailbox that we paid to get installed in April of 2008 .... got knocked over the following winter. Again. This is the third time it's happened, so we've not replaced it. We're just using the cheapo city-installed one.

72 put $1,000 into savings
We did. And then gave it away to the adoption agency.

73 add 1% more into 401k for 1 calendar year We set it up almost as soon as we created the list .. and just left it there!

74 use no credit cards for 6 months, barring travel expenses or bonafide emergencies This was another one that had lasting impact - we now use them only for travel purposes or an emergency!

75 Go to Morton Arboretum at least once per month for 1 year

76 Buy new car

78 Buy new glasses for DH
We did this in 2008 ... and he wants new ones again.

79 Take treats to work for no reason at all 5 times

80 use up soapmaking supplies: Over the course of 8 months, I made 4 differnt batches of soap, resulting in 22 bars of soap!

81 use all body lotion, body wash, soap, shower gel, and body scrub before buying more
Ready for the before & after? BEFORE: AFTER: Photobucket (Note: All of what you see in the "after" photo is all the stuff we currently have on hand ... and none of it is stuff we bought since we started the 101 in 1001 project. It's all gifted to us or it found our way into a travel bag from a trip. I think it'll last us another 300 days!)

82 fix or replace paper shredder

83 Make a crock-pot meal once a week for one month

84 Make ravioli from scratch

85 Send 4 random care packages

86 Buy produce at farmers market 10 times

88 vacuum both cars & wipe down all other components with Armor-All

89 Search for a banjo class & sign up, if DH can find one

90 Locate a nearby Teavana store & patronize it at least once
: We are lovin' Teavana. Since we've been avoiding preservatives, that means no soda, so we brew an awful lot of tea.

91 Replace all burnt out halogen bulbs in kitchen

92 put house numbers on house

93 get recycling bin for kitchen

94 fix master bedroom closet door

95 stay within holiday shopping budget for 2008, 2009, and 2010

96 Watch the sunset from the top a mountain

97 buy new winter coats

98 Have a candlelit dinner

99 Visit 30 new local restaurants:
Noodles & Company (4/22/08) - we still go there!
Champps (05/03/08) - I don't think we've been back since then!
Cebu (05/10/08) - Sadly, this place closed just a few months after we went there. We loved it!
Islamorada Fish Company (6/2/08) - Meh.
Carrabbas (6/10/08) - Again, meh.
Walter Payton's Roundhouse (08/07/08) - Meh.
Pappadeaux (08/21/08) - Meh.
Boudin SF (9/2/08) - We liked it .... and it closed.
Sarpino's (10/6/08) - They're still around, but I don't think we've had them since 2008!
Redstone (10/19/08) - YUM. Expensive, but ... YUM.
Go Roma (10/26/08) - The location closest to us closed up shop, but I still like their food.

he Yardhouse (11/7/08) - Too far for us to go often.

LaBriola (1/3/09) - Very good stuff. I'd say we still go there every few months.
Ra (1/17/09) - Sushi. Yuck. H loves it. I have to make do with a non-sushi item on their menu.
Dmitri's Pancake House (2/7/09) - Food okay. Other patrons appear to be members of Russian mafia. Not kidding.
Cosi (2/14/09) - Great spot, we go there every few months.
Amber Cafe (2/14/09) - Nice, elegant, intimate. Not sure why we haven't been back.

Glen Prairie (2/28/09) - Great food, most of it locally sourced & organic. We've been there half a dozen times now.
Honey Cafe (7/3/09) - Too far from home base to be practical to visit, but a homey spot!
Petterinos' 9/5/09 - Was nice to try when we were downtown ... but better food is a block away at 312 Chicago!
Elephant and Castle 9/6/09 - fun pub chain that H loved.
South Water Kitchen 9/7/09 - Meh. (Come on Kimpton ... you can do better!)
Five Guys 10/27/09 - Nice find after reading Chicago magazine. As close to In & Out Burger as we get, here.
Pompei 01/16/10 - Decent spot, but don't know that I rush to go back.
Wow Bao 2/13/10 - YUM. Accidental find in Water Tower Place. We've been back & will return.
Park Grill 2/13/10 - Good food, great view of the ice rink. I'd go back.
Cooper's Hawk Winery 2/15/10 - Like others above, beyond our usual radius, but it was enjoyable.
Flat Top Grill 03/5/10 - Fun, mostly healthy, close by. Been there a half a dozen times.
Weber Grill 03/13/10 - Meh in the extreme. Avoid.
The Patio 3/20/10 - H loves it for the BBQ pork. For me, it's just so-so.

100 get a new compact digital camera: We bought one. It sucked. I sold it at the garage sale. I'd like to get another one, but at this point, our money needs to be saved for the adoption process.

101 Clean out clothes closets. Sort into Keep, Sell, Throw Away, and Donate.

In all, it was a very educational experience, plus it gave us some amazing opportunities to do things we typically wouldn't have done. We're contemplating doing a 50 in 501 kind of thing -- we started dragging at about the halfway point of the 1001 days -- or maybe taking a break & focusing on a different kind of challenge, relating to photography. Thanks for joining us for the journey. If we do take on a similar challenge, we'll update the blog, otherwise, we'll leave it as-is!


Katie said...

Wow, WELL DONE! Amazing to see everything you've achieved!

kaj said...

Spectacular! Such a learning experience.