2014: Year in Review

In exactly two weeks, 2014 will be history. And you know me. I loooove New Year’s (so much that I sometimes almost overlook Christmas...). I love starting afresh, making lists of goals, organizing a plan. And I really love a good yearly recap.

But this year, things are different.

On December 31, 2013, I wrote a blah list of goals for 2014 just to fill up a page. See, I’ve been setting goals, reaching them, and repeating the process quite consistently since I began this blog a couple of years ago. Back in 2012, when I had that huge breakthrough and quit my job at Dr. Emerson’s office, I decided upon a few lifetime goals, divided them into attainable yearly goals, which I turned into monthly goals that I broke into weekly goals. It worked perfectly for two solid years. Then I suppose I grew tired, because last New Year’s Eve, I just wasn’t feelin’ it. I didn’t know what goals to pursue.

You might also recall that last December I was on the verge of turning twenty-five and experiencing what some might call a quarter-life crisis. In January, just after my birthday, I wrote this:
As I sat down to write a new list of goals I wanted to accomplish in 2014, panic overwhelmed me. 2014 would be the year I turned twenty-five. Twenty-five. A quarter of a century. Officially the mid-twenties. The last milestone before the big 3-0. A giant step closer to old.  
Yes, the panic fell upon me in a suffocating rush. I jotted down some goals, but they didn't feel like enough. I was about to be twenty-five, for heaven's sake. Twenty-five! These goals had to be big. And I had to get moving, fast.
I had a major thought shift on my twenty-fifth birthday. You remember that dramatic and angry list of twenty-five goals I made? I gave myself such a good talkin’-to in that post that I scrapped my New Year’s list and focused all my energy on not apologizing for being myself, not saying ‘yes’ when I didn’t want to do something, not saying ‘no’ when I really did want to do something, and not pretending to be someone else just to keep the peace. My rebellious new attitude seeped into every part of my life, freeing me from chains I had put on myself. I stopped beating myself up for not getting faster than an 11-minute mile. At least I was running. I stopped feeling guilty about declining invitations to social events I didn’t want to attend. I was much happier being in control of my time.

Through all of this, I realized I’ve been putting way too much pressure on myself to do everything perfectly or to make other people happy. It’s so unnecessary, yet I’ve done it my entire life. But I took my own words to heart this year and gave myself permission to stop caring so much. To relax a little and go with the flow. To laugh at the things I find funny, to eat what I want to eat, to wear what I want to wear, and to not worry about how other people perceive me for it.

While on paper, I haven’t really accomplished all that much this year, some pretty important things have happened as a result of my internal change. I’m healthier, happier, and more confident than ever. I fit comfortably into a pair of size ten jeans. I faced my fears and went back to college to finish my B.A. in English. And I’m pretty darn certain I found The One. I just had to find myself first, just like any self-help book would tell you.

So, yeah. 2014 has been a pretty amazing year for me. I feel like myself again. God has answered a lot of big prayers this year and blessed me more than I imagined. 

And there are still two weeks left.

Let's make the most of them. 

Merry Christmas, everyone, and have a wonderful 2015!

A day in my life

In order to complete #96 on my 101 Things List, I have documented a day in my life in photographs.

Prepare to be wowed by my amazingly exciting life.



As you can see, my typical day consists of working in a tiny office, drinking lots of tea, dropping food on my pants, having no social life, and, well, Pinterest.

Fall Break 2014: Illinois

One of my goals for 2014 was to update the blog weekly. That’s pretty laughable at this point, but I’m gonna really try to do better, okay? Even if it’s just random, not-so-interesting, pic-spam blurbs, I want to post more regularly.

So. Here goes.

Since I currently work in a public high school, I get the same fantastic holidays students and teachers get. October 11-17, I was off for fall break (YAY!), so naturally, I headed north to Illinois to spend some time with my man.

With big Christmas/New Year’s plans on the horizon (Disney World!), money is a bit tight at the moment. So we kept the vacation pretty low-key by limiting ourselves mostly to testing Pinterest recipes, watching the Indiana Jones trilogy, and catching up on Adventure Time.

Allow me to bring you up to speed with these lovely photographs:

Matt is great at baking. He enjoys it, and I enjoy the end result (I enjoy watching him work, too, especially when he's wearing flannel.) ((What?)). Using some apples from the local farmers' market, he whipped up a tasty apple crisp which we topped with a mixture of coconut milk and frozen bananas. 

With the same surplus of locally grown apples, Matt made some incredible homemade cider. OMG. Autumn in a cup. 

For breakfast one morning, we tried these amazing 3-ingredient coconut oil biscuits I found on Pinterest. Holy poop. I made up my own recipe for sausage-flavored-yet-vegetarian Southern-style gravy, and he made some naturally-sweetened strawberry jam. What a power couple. 

He got a little aggressive with the biscuit cutter.

Seriously. You have to try those biscuits. I need to upload an official version of my gravy recipe, too. I just have no idea how much of everything goes in; I just toss stuff in until it looks and smells right. Guess I'll have to make it again. What a bummer.

Oh, and here's some more food shots. You can never get enough of those.

I made eggplant lasagna served alongside a heavenly potato bun from the Mennonite ladies at the farmers' market.

 And Matt roasted these amazing portabella veggie mini-pizzas one evening.

Yeah, pretty much all we did was cook stuff and eat stuff.

Oh! So, you wanna know how I knew this relationship was right? He suggested building a blanket fort in the living room. 

Yep. Popcorn, organic, fair-trade hot cocoa, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Over the week, we watched the full Indiana Jones trilogy as well as... Silent Hill. I haven't recovered from that last one.

Also, we had lots of fun smushing Silly Putty into newspapers and stretching out the photo imprints. Too much fun, probably.

But we didn't just sit around the house being lazy fatties all week. We did go on a mini-adventure to Carbondale, IL, home of a great farmers’ market, the neighborhood co-op, a cute locally-owned bookshop, and the Best. Restaurant. Ever.

Lovely morning at the farmers' market.

The Mennonite booth, where you can find the amazingly soft, melt-in-your-mouth, potato buns! Plus many other baked goodies and farm-fresh eggs.

At the bookshop, Bookworm, this friendly in-store pet kept following us around and begging us to pet him (or her, IDK). He/she/it was cute, so I snapped a creeper pic. 

Now for the good stuff.

Longbranch CafĂ© and Bakery is exactly like the place I have always dreamed of opening. It’s a hip little joint in a renovated building downtown. There’s local artwork on the walls. Lots of vintage decor. A stage in the back for bands. A variety of great coffees and a case full of scrumptious pastries. Best of all, they have a fully vegetarian menu with delicious, fresh, locally-grown, HFCS-free food (even the bottled ketchup on the tables is organic). 

Did I mention it’s delicious? It’s not like a bland kale-and-celery smoothie. Everything I’ve ordered there has been pretty freakin’ amazing. Like this gorgonzola fettuccine.

Or the incredible made-in-house veggie burger.

Or this wonderful turtle latte.

Or this divine warm cinnamon roll...

...which we split, okay? See the two forks?!?!?

Yeah, so, we went there three times in one week. Oops.

All in all, one awesome way to spend fall break.