Well, I wanted to share a recipe with this post, but I had a pretty tragic week in the kitchen and had two utter recipe failures in two days. The first was a soba noodle salad that didn’t soak up any of the dressing and ended up pretty flavorless. I’m not sure if I should blame it on the recipe or on the fact that I couldn’t find regular soba noodles and used some weird gluten-free black bean soba noodles that I happened to see. I was kind of sad about this one, because it came out really pretty!
On the up side, Nick ate the leftovers the next day for lunch and said it was delicious after marinating overnight.
The next failed recipe was an apple cinnamon cream cheese quick bread that I was SO looking forward to. It smelled so delicious while it was baking. When I took it out of the oven, it didn’t look done, so I baked it for an extra 20 minutes. Even with the extra time, the bread was completely raw in the middle and collapsed as soon as I slid it out of the pan.
This one was particularly sad because it was SO delicious. You bet your bottom dollar I scraped off the raw batter and ate every bit of the cooked parts! I’ll have to try again on this one, because it definitely has potential to be a winner. I’m starting to think my oven temp might be off because this is the third loaf I’ve had this happen to (and the first two I followed recipes to a T). I think I need to buy an oven thermometer and investigate!
So, today I have no recipe for you.
But I do have a little look back on last year and some exciting news for the upcoming year!
2014 was a year of highs and lows, mostly lows, and definitely a year I do not mind leaving in the past.
At the beginning of the year, my Mom passed away. Her funeral was on my 30th birthday. And I battled some pretty intense anxiety and panic attacks up to, during, and after the whole fiasco. Not a great way to start the year. I still think about her every day.
Nick dealt with some weird (but in the end not harmful) health stuff and the future of his flying career was on the rocks for a hot minute. Cue returning anxiety attacks. Luckily, everything worked out with that. I’m a worrier by nature so I take everything to the extreme. Let’s just say I’m glad this bump in the road has passed.
At the end of the summer, my aunt (my mom’s sister) passed away after battling lung cancer.
Add to that a giant heap of ridiculous family drama and yep… it was a pretty crappy year. I will not miss 2014. It’s safe to say it was probably the worst year of my life thus far.
But some good things did happen!
Nick finally, finally (after 4 years) finished all his training and moved to a new squadron for his first real sea tour! This is kind of bittersweet. It’s awesome because this is what he’s been working towards for the last four years, and now he is finally doing what he signed up to do. Bitter because it means deployments, work-ups and lots of not being together for the next three years. But hopefully those deployments and work-ups will give us the opportunity to grow, and maybe even see the world together here and there. (I am hoping to get to visit some exotic port calls!)
We didn’t take any major trips this year, but we did travel a ton within California. We took lots of weekend trips around the state– to San Diego, Paso Robles, Morro Bay, San Franciso and Sonoma, Santa Monica and lots of hiking adventures in Sequoia National Park and Sierra National Forest.
I also visited Las Vegas for the first time with my sister, which brings me to…
I completed my first half marathon! This was something I’d been wanting to do for a long time, so I’m so glad I got to check off this bucket list item this year!
I also started doing yoga this year and have really fallen in love.
On the blog front, I think even though my posting has been sparse this year, my blog has really grown a lot. I revamped the whole look of my blog earlier this year when I switched over to using the foodie theme through Genesis Framework. This was a bit of a learning process!
I also started doing a decent amount of sponsored posts this year. While I don’t want my blog to become completely commercialized, it’s exciting to be making a little (and I mean little) dough from something that’s been a labor of love for almost 4 years.
I also started blogging about my garden this year, and started Harvest Fridays. I’m not sure how many of you read these posts, but it’s something I really enjoy and like to look back on.
Now, what will 2015 bring?
Well… I did something a little crazy at the end of 2014. I quit my job.
Yesterday, in fact, was my last day working.
I loved everyone that I worked with, but I just wasn’t loving the job. I really felt like I was missing out on so much that I could be doing with my life (travel, blog, squadron involvement, hobbies, etc). It was a really hard decision. It was a decision that I went back and forth on for months. But in the end I realized I was just not happy. I kind of felt like I wasn’t taking advantage of life. Clock in, clock out, watch vacation hours barely rack up so slowly. I don’t want to say I was wasting my life away because I truly did love what I did on days when I was busy. But some days, when I was literally checking Facebook for 9 hours straight, it really did feel like that.
I felt like I was just waiting for the next phase of life to happen. Waiting for the next big thing. Because for the past 5 years, that’s what I’ve been waiting for. We moved 4 times in 4 years, so I was always fine with working temporary “meh” jobs. The next big move would come and everything would be exciting again, a new start.
I finally had an ah-ha moment and knew it was time to move on with my life. For a while, there was a very good chance we were going to move to Japan. I did not want to move to Japan. Everyone I’ve ever talked to who has lived there has said nothing but amazing things about it. I know if we had moved there, we would have had an awesome adventure. But during this tumultuous year that I had, I could not focus on the good. I was anxious about all my material possessions floating across the ocean. I was anxious about my poor pets on an airplane and then in quarantine. I was anxious about 13 hour flights and being so far away (I despise even the 5-6 hour flights to the East coast). I was anxious about living in a hotel for months until we found housing. About driving on the wrong side of the road. About being crammed into public transportation like a sardine (come on, you’ve seen the videos). I love to travel, I am open to others’ cultures. But after the year I had, I could not fathom all of this. And I did not want to move to Japan.
Luckily, as it turned out, we did not have to. We got orders to stay here in California with a new squadron.
And suddenly, I felt really disappointed about that.
But why? I didn’t want to go to Japan! I wanted to stay here! Why was I feeling disappointed?
And then I realized I was disappointed because this meant 3 more years, here in California, working at job I wasn’t getting a whole lot out of, not really content with my life.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. And only I can change it.
So I took a huge, giant, humungous, so-out-of-character-for-me leap of faith and quit my job.
I actually quit in November but agreed to stay on to get them through hiring someone during the holidays and then training the new person. Even though I knew a had a few months of work to go, as soon as I quit I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
So now what?
I’m still trying to figure that out.
Although we are fortunate enough to be in a place financially where I don’t have to work, we certainly have become accustomed to our lifestyle with two incomes. We like to travel, we like to eat well, and we (::ahem::Nick) like to buy new toys (read: every Apple product ever released) whenever we feel like it. So I don’t really want to be unemployed forever.
But I also don’t want to sacrifice my happiness! I’ve worked since I was 16, and babysat even longer than that. I don’t like relying on others for money. I don’t like feeling like I’m not contributing to society. I don’t know what it feels like to not work. And I am definitely grappling at coming to terms with that fact that it’s okay to not work. For now. It’s okay for me to take some time for myself and work on being happy and enjoying the life we have worked so hard to build! I’m slowly coming to terms with that.
So for now, I have a few plans.
- Build my blog. A lot.
I started my blog in 2011. For almost 2 years, I posted nearly every day. Then I got busy and it dwindled to a few times a week. This past year, my posts have been few and far between. I’m lucky if I post once a week. This past year has also been the best year for my blog in terms of traffic, Pinterest referrals, sponsored posts. I believe that’s because I’ve improved my photography and editing skills. A LOT. I am no master photographer. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But to think that I was still posting flash photos at the beginning of this year makes me cringe. I know if I start posting with the frequency and writing quality of 2011 coupled with the photo quality of today, I can make this blog something really great. That’s the plan, anyways. 😉
- Travel more.
If you look back through the archives… I used to travel a ton. I love traveling. I love exploring new places. Lucky for me, many of my past jobs have afforded me the time to do that. In the past year and a half, I have not been able to travel anywhere new outside of driving distance, because I simply have not had the time. That makes me sad. Really, really, really sad. So while I don’t have any concrete plans yet, traveling is definitely on the agenda this year. Going along with travel– my best childhood friend and sister-in-law are both getting married this year, so I’ll be happy to have more time to participate in all the festivities!
- The garden.
So, my husband is crazy. If you know us personally or have been reading for any length of time, you know this. He got this crazy idea in his head, and now it’s happening. We’re setting up an aquaponic garden in our tiny little yard! What is an aquaponic garden, you ask? I’m sure there are long, detailed, informative answers. But since I’m new to this whole thing, here are the basics: You have a fish tank, and several garden beds. The water from the fish tank circulates through the garden beds. The beds don’t have dirt. In fact, there are 2 types of beds: a raft bed, where plants like leafy greens and herbs grow their roots directly into the water; and a grow bed, which is full of water and pebbles, where fruiting plants like tomatoes and squash grow their roots down through the pebbles. The whole system is self-sustaining because the fish poop fertilizes the plants and the plants filter the water for the fish. All you have to do is feed the fish. And if you use herbivore fish like tilapia, you can even make your own fish food with plants you grow in the system. You can grow everything organically because you don’t need to use synthetic fertilizers (which are terrible for the soil and ground water). And the plants grow crazy-fast because they have constant access to nutrients.
So we are building a greenhouse and installing a pretty good-sized system (which should arrive in the next 2 weeks or so). I’m sure I’ll be busy playing around in my new garden, and I also plan to blog about the adventure!
I’m not sure where this adventure will take me, but I hope you’ll follow along. Thanks for sticking with me throughout this crazy year! XOXO.
Shelly Jakubowski says
Love following your blog! Best wishes in 2015!
Thanks, Shelly! 🙂
Emily @ Life on Food says
Best of luck with all of your new adventures this year. It is really something to leave your job but clearly it was the right decision if you felt so much better after.
Joan Kazimir says
I really enjoy your blog and wish you a happy 2015! May it be one of adventure, happiness, and much fun!
Jess, I’m so sorry about your mother. I know the loss never goes away, but it does get easier to handle. I hope it’s getting easier for you! This sounds like the year to make a fresh start building that blog (and garden) that you love, and I wish you lots of success!
Thanks, Marcie!! I appreciate the support! 🙂
Natalie @ Tastes Lovely says
I am so excited for your new chapter in life! I know what you mean, not being very fulfilled by your job. I feel the same way about my day job, and dream about the day when I can quit! So I can only image how happy and satisfied you must feel. And your 2014 sounds oh so very difficult. Hoping your 2015 will be the exact opposite, and it seems you are already off to a good start!
If you’re ever up to it, I would LOVE to read about your gardening tips. I have an acre of land on my property, and I really want to start a garden. I’d love to learn about whether you use planter boxes, if you water by hand or use a watering system, tips on what plants to plant near each other, harvesting, all of it! So much I need to learn!
Thanks, Natalie!! One of the things I really hope to do, especially once spring comes around, is focus part of the blog on gardening tips and tricks. I’m still learning a lot myself, but one thing that has amazed me is how easy it really is… and how satisfying it is knowing exactly where your food came from!! I would die for your land!! 🙂 One day! And then I want chickens, too. 🙂
It all sounds amazing and I know your Mom would be proud and is cheering you on! I feel her influence everyday to be happy. I am working on my Next Chapter with her whispering in my ear. Still a work in progress to find my courage. Have faith, work hard and do what you love and it will all come together. <3
Thanks, Lynne! 🙂 I’m loving stalking all your gorgeous photos! Labors of love are much more fulfilling than the 9-5!
[email protected] Well Floured Kitchen says
So sorry for your loss and the difficult year you had in 2014.
I can’t wait to see what changes you bring to the blog, and a aquaponic garden? That is so cool- I can barely do the regular kind 🙂
Annie @Maebells says
Jess, when you mentioned it had been a hard year I had NO idea. I am so very sorry to hear about your mom and your aunt. No wonder you were ready to put 2014 behind you. I am so excited you took this leap of faith. I could totally relate to your internal battle about quiting. It is exactly how I feel everyday. I actually have a stomach ache at night becase I know I have to go to un unfufilling job the next morning. I firmly believe that sometimes you just have to step out of your comfort zone and bet on yourself.
And that auqatic garden?! I am amazed! I actually really really love reading your garden posts, it insired me to start one this year! My Dad and I actually started planning it this past weekend! 🙂
Thanks, Annie! It’s day 1 and I can already feel it’s the right decision…. not sure what will come of this, but I’d never find out if I didn’t try! (LOL, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!)
So sorry for your loss, Jess. I really do admire you for taking a leap of faith to follow your dreams. I can’t imagine how scary it was, but I’m sure it feels like such a relief. I really look forward to seeing what you accomplish this year and watching your blog grow! It’s been great getting to know you these past few months.
Thanks, Danielle!! I hope I can make you guys all proud. ;-P
Omg…. Ridiculously excited about this aquaponic farm plantation you’re plannjng! Haha might have to visit Cali again some time. Maybe your travels will send you my way… Just a thought!
Can you teletransport me there??
Kathy @ Olives & Garlic says
Wow, pretty rough year for you. I truly hope 2015 brings you lots of happiness. You deserve it.
Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says
What a great post, Jess! I am SO happy that you finally decided to follow your dreams and that you made that decision all on your own. Sounds like you definitely need some “me time” after last year. It sounds like 2015 is off to a great start for you! I’m so excited to see your continued success through blogging. Have a great Wednesday, friend! 🙂
Emily aka The Three Bite Rule says
You’ve got this. 2015 will be rejuvenating for you and full of excitement. Enjoy it! I’m glad to hear all the news and I’m here rooting you on (and the garden…get it?)! Miss you!
LOL, thanks 🙂 It definitely won’t be as exciting as your 2015, but hopefully it holds a few good surprises here and there!
Kelly @ Trial and Eater says
I’m so sorry your 2014 was so difficult Jess! It sounds like you kicked 2015 off to a much better start, doing something for yourself and giving yourself time to find happiness. I also just quit my 9-5 job two weeks ago! It’s scary but I also hope to use this time to explore other paths (maybe we should form a support group!?) I am excited to see what 2015 brings you and look forward to reading about your aquaponic garden!
Karen @ Karen's Kitchen Stories says
What a lovely heartfelt post. I am so sorry about your mom. I hope that 2015 turns out to be a wonderful year for you, with many exciting and wonderful things to come. xo
Thanks, Karen! I hope so too!
Amy @ Army Amy says
I wrote a really long comment, and then my computer ate it! (Don’t you ate that?) Apologies if somehow this ends up as a double post.
I wanted to send you hugs for such a yucky 2014. Some years are better than others, but you really got crapped on. I commend you for handling the hard times with grace.
I totally get what you are saying about living OCONUS. The things you were worried about were pretty much true for us for the 8 months that we lived in Germany. Yes, it was an amazing opportunity, but it was incredibly difficult to be that far away from home with a sick relative (and it would have been hard under any circumstance!), I felt isolated, and the culture shock blindsided me. I’m glad that you are staying where you are as it sounds like where you belong.
High five on quitting the job! Life it too short! I took a year off of working and it helped me really clarify what I want out of life. I was able to return to work refreshed and refocused. I hope the same for you! And in the meantime, I look forward to more blog posts!
I HATE when my computer eats things! The worst. And thanks for the kind words! I am definitely looking forward to seeing where this year takes me!