Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Looking Back at 2015

A photo taken for me by a friend’s sister.

2015 was an eventful year for me, and many of the highlights happened in the last half of the year. In May, I completed my master’s in counseling psychology. After that, I got the opportunity to be a volunteer trip lead, which allowed me to travel to several places from my Wanderlust Wishlist, as well as some places I hadn’t thought of before that. I also started a personal trainer certification course, which I’ll be taking the test for soon. In November, my husband and I left Germany. And, this month, we began settling into our new place in Fort Hood, Texas.

Those who have been following along for awhile will not be at all surprised to know that I am exceptionally behind on writing about all of those things and more. But, since it’s the end of the year I thought I would at least do a post looking back at the things I accomplished this year.

As you may recall, I didn’t do New Year’s goals this year but continued working on a 101 in 1001, which I started in December of 2013 and have until August of next year to complete. Here are the things that I completed this year and the things I started or continued working on. Each is listed with it’s number on the list.


24. Update my blog networks and Pinterest pins with the new blog name 
I can’t remember when, but I’m going to say that I completed this because I definitely updated all the Pinterest pins and at least a couple of the blog networks. I didn’t keep up well with some of them, so it’s not super important if I didn’t hit them all.

29. Add Other Writing Page(s) to top of blog
Okay so I didn’t technically complete this one, as you can see from the fact that there is no such page on this blog. However, I did one better and started another website, which does have a page where you can see all of my published writing.

30. Do a 30 day blog challenge
In January I completed a 30 day challenge for this blog, although I did not manage to do it in 30 days straight. I also did one in July on Investing in Fitness. I started a round two for this blog in July as well but found it hard to keep up with both at once. By the end of September I was only to post 21 and this is my first post since, so I think I’ll just let that one slide.

38. Get a tripod.
I can’t remember exactly when, but sometime before June of this year I got a tripod thanks to my husband letting me pick one out at the base exchange. In addition to using it to track my progress in various yoga challenges I tried this year, I used it to take pictures during a full moon and the blood moon eclipse.

Full Moon 9-27 Kaiserslautern Germany

54. Do another painting class
At the time that I wrote this goal, I had done two Brushstrokes and Bellinis classes, which were taught by Monique Moniot Greathouse. She provided outlines and instructed in mixing and applying the appropriate colors, assisting if necessary. Though we all worked off the same basic outline, everyone’s paintings were always unique to them. I wanted to do at least one more, and completed this goal in March 2015 when I painted a scene from Dresden, which is a place I never did get to in person. I wanted to do one more class before leaving Germany, but the class I signed up for had to be rescheduled and the new day conflicted with commencement. I’m glad I at least got in the ones that I did though.
Painting of Dresden. Painted by Amanda Papenfus during class lead by Monique M Greathouse

Unfortunately for those who may be interested the class is no longer available because Monique had to move as well. But if you happen to be in or near Ocean Springs, Mississippi, stay tuned to her page as I imagine she’ll announce there if she has any upcoming teaching events or launches a new business. For those still in Germany, Cocktails and Canvases in Waldmohr looks like it has similar classes available. The Redbird Studio offers themed wine glass painting and the instructor indicated at one point she may add canvas painting classes to her offerings. The mug I mentioned in this post was painted during a craft night at The Redbird Studio.

59. Earn my MA in counseling psych & 61. Reach 1000 hours for my practicum/internship (only required 700). 

I completed my degree in May of this year and managed to graduate with a 4.0. Along with that, I completed my practicum/internship, ending up with 1208 hours, which was well over both the 700 I was required and even the 1000 I was shooting for. In the picture at the beginning of the post, I’m actually just holding a cover and a letter. The degree itself didn’t arrive until right before we left, so I carried it in my luggage. I took the photo below in the car after I opened the envelope.

MA in Counseling Psychology Degree

66. Go to at least three of the countries I want to go to
As of July I had completed this goal. The three countries were Denmark (Copenhagen), the Netherlands (Valkenburg), and Switzerland (Gruyere and Montreux, and later Stein am Rhein and the Rheinfall or Rhineland Falls). After that I was able to get to a few more countries including Italy (Venice a few times and Vicenza), Belgium (Brussels), and England (London). I also got to go back to France and was able to see Paris twice, go to Disneyland Paris, see Versailles, and wander around Riquewihr. The photo below is from Montreux, Switzerland.
Montreux Lake Geneva Shoreline

67. Go to at least three of the the cities in Germany I want to go to
This goal was also completed in July. The three cities from my list were Munich, Rothenberg, and Berlin. I also got to see several places I hadn’t initially planned on including Cochem, Mainau Island, a medieval festival at the Nuturwildpark in Freisen, Idar-Oberstein, and the Jewish Museum in Winnweiler. The photo below is looking over Munich from St. Peter’s Church’s observation deck.

Part of Munich, viewed from the observation deck at St. Peter's Church.

72. Add map locations to my Places I’ve Been board on Pinterest
In July I considered this complete because I’d finished adding all of the places I’d been to and blogged about so far.

86. Participate in a volunteer project of some kind
Between June and November I was a volunteer trip lead on trips to Paris  (during which I also saw Versailles), Disneyland Paris, Gruyere and Montreux, Berlin, Venice, Paris again, Brussels, Venice again, and London. Although I technically completed this goal, since I got to travel for free I kind of feel like it’s cheating to count it and plan to look for another way to volunteer next year. The picture below is from my first trip to Venice and was taken near sunset.

98. Get a new comforter
I was able to count this as complete as of this month when my husband picked one up on clearance at the post exchange while we were sleeping on an air bed in the new house. He did pretty well as it’s a nice dark blue. I’m also kind of tickled that the style name is “Dobby” which gives me the idea to add some Harry Potter touches to the room this year. Not too long after our regular bed was delivered I caught Apollo sleeping under the comforter in my spot.

In Progress

35. Learn to use a DSLR camera
I’ve been considering this to be “in progress” since December of last year when I got the camera, but wouldn’t really consider it complete as there is still a lot I need to learn how to do. Here’s a picture of one of the many sunsets I took pictures of from my balcony.

March sunset Kaiserslautern

53. Learn Quilling
This is another thing I’ve been considering to be in progress since December of last year. I’ve mostly learned to quill through trial and error, though I occasionally get ideas for new techniques from tutorials. While there is still a lot I could stand to learn, I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made so far. If you want to keep up with the things I’ve been making, check out my PhoenixxPhyre Creations Facebook page.

62. Read at least 100 books and keep track on Goodreads
As of the end of the year, I’ve read 23 of 100 books. I had planned on trying to read 30 just this year, but only made it to 15, at least that I remembered to track on Goodreads. I feel like there might have been another eBook or two in there that I forgot to log. I anticipate that I’ll have less going on next year, so hopefully I can manage to get in at least 77 books. I have literally six bags of to-read books on my bedside table and several books that are already in progress, so it might not be as unattainable as it sounds.


65. Write at least 10 reviews for books I’ve read
I could swear that I wrote a few reviews I apparently didn’t get around to posting, so I might actually be able to consider this complete as of this year. However, as of right now I only see 7 that I posted. They were for: The Book ThiefNikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man that Invented the 20th CenturyAlice in WonderlandThe Bling RingTimelessThe No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and Still Alice.

88. Beat 15 video games
So far I’ve beat 3 games since I started this list. This year I beat Brothers and Bioshock Infinite. I think I could also count MarioKart 7 since I’ve beat all the courses, but I’m trying to come in 1st place for them all on the hardest difficulty before I count it. I have a few other games in progress including Borderlands 2, Farcry 4, Bioshock (which I was actually at the final battle for before we had to leave), Pokemon Y, and probably another few that are escaping my mind at the moment.

89. Try 100 new recipes
I have really not done very well at keeping track of these, so I think I may be counting myself a little short, but so far I’m at about 40. I took pictures and notes of them, so if I’m at least organized enough that I can match notes to pictures, then I will be blogging about them in the future. I started a list for the new place have tried 2 recipes so far as well as coming up with one of my own. The first recipe I tried in the new house was this one for steak and onions, which I modified slightly.

Steak and Caramelized Onions

91. Clean out my closets, 92. Organize the random boxes in the basement, and 93. List any un-needed stuff on eBay and/or the local Yardsale page
These three are in progress almost by default because we’ve moved. I’m purging and organizing as I unpack. We actually don’t have a basement in the new place and barely have any closet space, so it’s a good time to downsize. As I find things I don’t need I’ve been listing them on a local page for sale or for free.

I didn’t get as far as I thought I would in my 101 in 1001 this year, completing 12 things and making progress on only 9. However, some of the things I did like completing my master’s and getting over 1000 hours in my practicum and internship were pretty big time investments so I’m okay with that. I also got to far exceed my expectations in some areas, like getting to several countries and cities more than I had dared to hope I would at the time that I made the list. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the things I’ve managed to accomplish this year, especially considering I moved during the last part of it. Here’s to a new year in which I will (hopefully) catch up in telling you about my past adventures and have plenty of new ones.

Did you accomplish what you wanted to in 2015? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Thoughts on “Looking Back at 2015

  1. I hear the Fort Hood area has improved with a new highway and shopping areas. Enjoy! (Although the drive from there to Dallas or Austin still feels longer than a trip across Germany. Where is a train when you need one!) Kudos to all of your accomplishments this year! Secretly I am wondering how you became a tip leader – That sounds like fun!
    Christi recently posted…2016 New Year Fireworks in WiesbadenMy Profile

    • We’re still waiting on our car to ship from Germany so I haven’t been on the road much. I will say from what I’ve seen the area at least looks more built up than Hinesville outside of Ft. Stewart was. Thankfully when I was there we lived in Savannah so we had more than a Walmart around. There is a mall not too far away though I haven’t been to it yet. They also just put in a new PX that I guess opened a month or two before we got here, and that’s pretty nice. Yes we flew in to Dallas and stayed with friends then drove here in a rental. It was Thanksgiving weekend and raining, so it took like five hours. I’m not looking forward to making the drive back again when we pick up the car. I haven’t been to Austin yet but I hear it’s only a little over an hour so it shouldn’t be too bad. More than trains, I will miss being able to drive 90-100 mph lol. Thank you on the kudos. Leading trips was great. As to how I became one, I got really lucky and was put in touch with the guy who brings on volunteers by someone I knew who had done it and was PCSing. It was with Outdoor Recreation, so if they have trips out of the one nearest you I would just pop in and tell them you’re interested in volunteering as a trip leader. I’ve also heard of people doing trips as volunteers with USO and Trips4Troops. RTT does trips as well, but as far as I know it’s only hired positions and only for those fluent in German and English.

  2. Congratulations Amanda! Your list is inspiring. I did achieve a lot of things myself, with a lot still in progress, and there were quite a number of pleasant surprises, comprising things I did not even plan, but they found me and they happened.
    2015 was a great year and I know that 2016 can only be better!
    Jane recently posted…Saying Goodbye to 2015.My Profile

    • Thank you. I’m glad if the list is inspiring and that you achieved a lot this year also. It’s always nice when there are pleasant surprises. Best wishes for a happy new year!

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