30 Before 30

Today I am 29 years old and just one year away from 30.  While I’m not one to get distressed about the big 3-0, the last year of my twenties does seem like a pretty significant milestone to let go by unrecognized.  So I thought, why not put together a list of things I would like to do in the next year before I actually do get old (just kidding!!), and thus I decided to jump on the whole 30 Before 30 bandwagon (it’s too catchy not to) and this list was born:

30 Before 30

30 Things I Want to Do Before I Turn 30

1.  Pay off my school loans

The car is getting paid off on Friday!!!! Our mortgage will hopefully disappear in April…and now that it has been seven years since I graduated from college and I would finally like to be done paying for it — especially since everything I am currently doing has very little to do with that oh so useful (not) philosophy degree.  I have about $8,000 left in student loans (from the more than $40k I started with).  I am going to work my butt off on websites this year and hopefully by March 19, 2015 student loans will be a thing of the past.

2.  Go to Wanderlust Colorado

I really want to get back on track with my yoga practice, which fell to the wayside in 2013 for a variety of reasons.  I’m going to find a studio here soon, but I want to do more than just carve out time for a weekly practice.  Going to the Colorado Wanderlust Festival would be a great way to really get myself back into a yoga and meditation practice surrounded by other yogis and yoginis, as well as taking some time to do something special just for me.

3.  Get Boudoir Photos Taken

{{gulp}}  I thought about this one for awhile since I still am not quite sure that I’m brave enough to do it, but taking boudoir photos seems like the perfect way to memorialize my twenties and celebrate who I am, stretchmarks and all.  Hopefully it will be fun and maybe I’ll get a good gift for Chris out of it…but don’t get your hopes up, these are some photos that will not be going on the blog!

4.  Go to a Movie Alone

I’ve been out to eat by myself plenty of times while on business trips, but I have never once gone to see a movie by myself.  I’m not sure why but I always felt like there is some sort of stigma attached to going to a movie alone, like I would look like a lonely person who had no friends.  This year, I want to get over the fear of appearances and what other people might think, and enjoy myself at a movie without explosions and shooting or singing cartoon characters.

5.  Knit a Sweater

For years I have been able to do a basic knit stitch in a rectangular shape (read: I can knit a scarf).  I’m going to teach myself how to actually knit, including how to read patterns; I figure this will be a useful skill in my old age.

6.  Be Capable of Passing the Army Physical Fitness Test

I’ve been thinking for a while that I really need to improve my overall fitness level, and especially my muscle mass.  I am incredibly flexible but I sometimes hit a wall when it comes to advancing in my yoga practice because I don’t have the upper body strength necessary to get into or to maintain certain poses, especially inversions.  I am going to change that.  I AM GOING TO CHANGE THAT.  I decided to use the Army Physical Fitness Test as a guideline.  Wikipedia tells me that the minimum passing number of push-ups for a 27-31 year old woman is 17, the minimum number of sit-ups is 45, and the minimum passing time for running 2 miles if 20 minutes and 30 seconds (the maximums are 50, 82, and 15:48, respectively).  Since I haven’t run a mile since high school, I have no core strength and I can’t even do one push-up I think aiming for the minimum is just fine.  Hopefully I won’t hate myself for this.

7.  Read Pride and Prejudice

Of course I have seen the movie, but this really seems like something any self-respecting romance-loving woman ought to have read by now.

8.  Go Camping

I have very fond memories of camping with my dad, but I haven’t gone camping since high school or as an adult where I got to (had to?) plan out the trip.  Now that we live in the perfect state for this, I think it’s time I rediscovered the joys of campfires, tents and sleeping bags under the stars, and started introducing the girls to it.

9.  Relearn How To Dance

Back in the day, Chris and I had some fairly decent dancing skills.  I don’t think we have danced once since our wedding and there is something wrong with that, right?  We have moved to an awesome town with many opportunities to go out dancing and I want to do it!  So, I want to relearn to swing and salsa.  I want to dance in my living room and I want to be able to go out salsa and swing dancing and look like I kind of know what I’m doing.

10.  Complete a 365 Project

I am really great at starting things but not always so great at finishing them.  In the next year, starting today, I will be instagramming a photo every day of my world.  Some of them may be of/with the girls but I’m going to limit photos of them to 25% of the project — I want this to be a way for me to celebrate and focus on myself apart from my wonderful little people.

11.  Sing in a Karaoke Bar

I have never in my life done this and right now it sounds like one of the scariest things I could possibly do, but what’s life without a risk?  Alcohol will most likely be involved.

12. Learn to Drive a Stick Shift

Driving a manual car is a life skill that completely passed me by.  I had a lesson or two at different points during my teenage years but there is no way I would be able to get behind the wheel of anything other than an automatic today.  This needs to be remedied.

13.  Cook All the Way Through a Cookbook

I am really excited about this goal.  I love the idea of getting out of my comfort zone in the kitchen and also having an excuse to spend a little more on unique ingredients.  I haven’t quite settled on the cookbook and I’d love for you to leave me suggestions in the comments sections.  I’ve been thinking about cooking through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook because I love Deb’s recipes, but I’m a little hung up by the meat section.  Do I need to know how to cook meat because it is a life skill?  Do I take it as a challenge to source my meat from sources I am ethically OK with, or is that even possible?  If I did cook meat, would I eat it too or would I just cook it for Chris and Nora to eat?  So many questions.  Maybe there is a really good vegetarian cookbook out there that I should do instead?  Any thoughts on this one would be much appreciated.

14.  Sew a Quilt

This seems like another one of those skills I will need in my old age, and it also seems like something that would be fun.  I’m not sure if I’ll use patterns or not or just wing it, but I think I would love to sew twin-sized quilts for the girls this year.

15.  Learn to French Braid

When I was a girl I used to be so sad because my mom couldn’t French braid…and now I am that mom.  I’m currently getting off easy with Nora’s bobbed hair, but it won’t stay that way forever.  And since I am the mama to not just one, but two daughters, I think learning to do a proper braid is almost obligatory.  Bonus points if I can figure out how to braid my own hair.

16.  Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

I have always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon, so I decided now is the time to make it happen.  I have already informed Chris that we are going on a hot air balloon ride for our anniversary and I cannot wait!

17.  Make Photo Books for the Past 5 Years

One of my Nantucket friends is so good about sitting down at her computer and regularly creating photo books for their family.  I take tons and tons of photos of the girls but less than 50 of them have ever been printed.  This year, I am going to think like my friend Jess and make a point of getting our memories off the computer and into albums that the girls can look at, enjoy, and fight over when I die.  Hopefully, after putting in all the effort to catch up, I can also build some sort of routine to do this on a more regular basis.

18.  Really Actually Write a Will

I am a grown up, with some small amount of assets, and two little people who are counting on me.  Up until now, Chris and I only ever had a semi-legal piece of paper stuck away somewhere in case of the worst.  That paper hadn’t even been updated since we had Zara.  This year, I am going to make sure Chris and I get our legal ducks in a row, no matter how scary it might seem or how invincible we might sometimes feel.

19. Buy a Bike and Ride It Every Week

Because of the cost of the move comparative to the value of my bicycle, I left it in Nantucket when we moved off island last year.  Now that I live in one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and Zara is actually old enough to join her sister in the trailer, I want to go buy a replacement bicycle and start riding it.  This is part of my goals to use the car less and try to get back into our Nantucket transportation habits.

20.  See an Opera

This might be cheating because I already know what opera I am going to see, but I had to add it to the list.

21.  Send One Letter Per Week and Create a Family Communication Plan

Can I admit that despite my best intentions, I am really horrible about communicating with my long time friends and family?  Also, apparently, my brother Brandon is way better at calling my grandparents than am I — at least that is what I hear every time I do manage to call them.  Up until now, I have let kids and work and life be excuses for the gaps in calls and cards, but I don’t really like doing that so this year I am going to work really hard to change and get more into the habit of reaching out beyond my nuclear family bubble.

22.  Develop the Habit of Really, Actually Flossing Every Day

Boy, I hope my mother-in-law is not reading this, because I’m about to get super honest here: I only floss about once per week…or if I get something stuck in my teeth…or if I am about to go to the dentist.  I know this is awful (and possibly incredibly disgusting), but for some reason flossing is a habit I never really learned.  By the way, in case you think I’m completely neglecting my dental hygiene, I will tell you that I typically brush three times per day (after every major meal).  Of course, I know that brushing isn’t enough and all that, so I hope that by the time I am 30 I will be a regular flosser too.

23.  Get Serious About My Business

This is a big one.  Now that we are in Fort Collins, now that Nora is in school again and Chris isn’t working all the gosh-darn time, I am going to really work to make Au Coeur Design a real, regular business.  I printed business cards for the first time ever, I’m going to network and potentially even pay for some advertising.  I want to grow this hobby into a business that can eventually become full-time, and that, for now, will help to make all of these other goals possible.  This year, I want to be able to contribute to our household financially, and also make enough money to pay off my student loan debt as well as paying for all the fun things I want to do as part of this 30 Before 30 list.

24.  Host a Swap Party

I have always talked about having a swap party of some sort, because reusing and recycling things (and helping other to do it) completely fits in with the low-impact lifestyle I try to live and also because I love parties.  I’m not sure what we’ll swap yet, but I know I’m going to have a ton of fun planning for a party.

25.  Set a Bedtime

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I often stay up really late.  Really, really, really late.  As in, I joke that I know it is time to go to bed when I see my early-rising east coast friends posting on Facebook.  The past couple weeks my immune system has been shot, and I think a good portion of it was related to lack of sleep.  Now that Nora is back in school and I do have some time to work during daylight hours, I want to try to make myself stick better to a bedtime.  I’m going to be testing out different times to see how they work with our morning routines and once I settle on a specific time, I am going to commit myself to stopping whatever I am doing and going to bed at that time.  This year, sleep is going to be come a bigger priority.

26.  Get 3 More Articles Published Online

This is just for fun.  I love contributing to other blogs and websites, but I don’t usually make the time to write and submit articles/posts.  Before I turn 30, I want my writing to take less of a back burner.

27.  Establish a Weekly Technology-Free Day

This goal is for the girls.  It is also for me.  We’ve all seen the studies and articles about the impact on children’s development to have parents glued to devices all the time, and have also seen research on how constant technology input impacts our own health.  Beginning this Sunday, I am officially going to be doing screen-free Sunday.  I will not visit my blog; I will not go on Facebook; I will not check email.  This may feel hard to me as a small-business owner who makes her living on the internet: it feels a little bit like saying I will not be available might make me lose money or traffic, but the thing is, it is way to easy to fall into the trap of calling everything “work” related, and doing it all that time.  I want to give my daughters a day where I am not checking or updating or commenting on their time.  I want to give myself a break from the smartphone pacifier in moments of downtime.  And so it begins this week.  Saturday I will sign off and I will not be back on until Monday.

28.  Make a Retirement and College Savings Plan

I’m almost half way to retirement age!  In 13 years, we may be sending Nora off to college then in another three or four years Zara could follow.  Assuming we get our debt paid off this year, we also need to start making some financial plans for the future.  We may not act on them immediately, but I want to at least know that a plan is in place.

29. Build Something

I am going to get out a hammer and nails (or maybe a screwdriver and screws?) and build something out of wood.  I’ve been thinking that I might build the girls a playhouse for the backyard.  I have long talked about getting some power tools and making furniture or something.  This year, I am going to call on those old high school theatre tech skills and build something fabulous with my hands.

30. Dye My Hair

I’ve never dyed or highlighted my hair, and for some reason this sounds like the perfect way to ring in the big 3-0 (you know, just in case my first gray hair decides to appear before then, and if not, just for fun).    I guess I figure that I already have a tattoo and I’ve already had (and removed) interesting piercings, so all that is left is playing with hair coloring.  Not that I’m going to get completely wild and crazy and go blue or anything…I don’t think…  I have no idea what color I’ll do, but I’m open to suggestions.

So that is my list.  And of course, at the end, I’m going to have a big party to celebrate!  I’ll let you all know how this crazy list of mine goes…


  1. says

    Oh, Amber. This list is so good. Probably the best 30 before 30 I’ve seen. I love every single one and can totally relate to a majority of them! It’s actually reassuring to know about your student loans. I’m in very much the same boat and it’s nice to sort of see a light at the end of the tunnel. I also love the idea of staying off electronic devices. Sunday’s a good day for that for us too and I think it will be a fantastic change. Thanks for the inspiration, lady! <3 <3

    • Amber says

      I’m glad you like them, Michelle! And the student loans are awful. We’ve been lucky in that we have gotten some financial gits that were able to help us to pay some of the debt off, but still they are awful. I will be so happy when they are gone. I’m glad you’re thinking about going for a screen-free Sunday, too. Let me know how it works for you. :-)

  2. Laura says

    I have gone to the movies alone and it was actually really enjoyable. I once added purple highlights to my hair and passed them off as a weird red shade at work :) Isa Does It looks like a fun vegan cookbook to cook through. And flossing – once I made it a habit I became addicted to it and now feel it is more important than brushing.

  3. says

    Happy birthday! Going to the movies alone is one of my favorite things to do (maybe b/c I am an only child…?) – all that popcorn and no need to share. Have a great year!

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