Last Goodbye 2016 + Top 10 Recipes of The Year

Here we go!

Saying goodbye to 2016! 👋🏻

Staring twenty-seventeen in the face. Like woah, all up close and personal.

Just last week I got used to writing ‘2016’ down. I spent the majority of the year quickly converting my 5’s into 6’s while people gave me questionable looks. But hey, life has a way of changing things up just when we get all nice and comfy. And we’re just left to roll with the punches. But that’s okay, we got this. We’ll say goodbye to 2016 in a heart beat and just keep marching forward.

I hope 2016 has been kind to you and that ’17 brings you tons of pleasant surprises. This year’s been a touchy one for me. Two-to-the-oh-to-the-sixteen was a big one for me. It brought on a whole new chapter in life that i’m still trying to decode. Is this the point where I just stop counting my age? Someone tell me how this thing works! Stepping from my late twenties into my very, very early, early thirties is hard. Is the panic in my voice coming through loud and clear on the internet?

Yeaaaup. I think so.

This year, I set a personal goal to do ‘a little more’. A little more of everything good, really. A tinge of guilt as I say this but what I mean is doing a little more for me. More traveling, more time-off, spending more time with family, eating more veggies, and to just LIVE more in general. It’s easy to get into these habits where we forget to live. It comes as naturally as breathing, which is what makes it even harder to spot. The days start running into each other and soon it’s all about getting to the destination rather than enjoying the journey. When I say do more, I really mean more of what feels good to you and less of the everyday. I struggle with this a lot.

Less hustling. Less squeezing-in. More breathing. More relaxing. Enjoying a slower pace even if it means pushing a few things back.

Getting off the hamster wheel called life.

I don’t want to give you any false illusions. Let’s be real. There are still going to be days where you’re bonkers out of your mind from things that need to be done. It happens to the best of us. It happens to those that have their day planned down to the minute. But it’s times like these that we need to do more. More for ourselves, more for our souls.

It’s allowing yourself to be a little late on a sharing a recipe because you realize you’re heading into the ‘overworked zone’ and can’t even think about stringing together sentences for a blog post. Politely declining the invite to that party because all you really need is a little time at home with family. It’s about slowing down, letting your needs dictate for just a nanosecond of your life. It’s about grabbing that last cookie and savoring it in slow motion while you leave behind all the chaos that surrounds you and float far away.

But it feels so wrong, doesn’t it? It’s completely the opposite of what we’re told to do. We’re told to be more regimented! Get more done! Cross more off that list! Squeeze one more thing in! But my friends, it’s a slippery slope. Before you know it, you’re completely burnt-out. Let’s make sure we stop ourselves from getting there. Let’s make more time for what’s truly important.

It’s the 30 talking, not me.

Moving along.

We took two quick trips this year. I went to Denver in the summer and in the fall, a weekend getaway to Minneapolis. Minneapolis for me was more about experiencing the beauty of fall. It’s been YEARS since I’ve had a chance to just watch the trees change colors. Just one of the many things you miss about living up north. Texas sorta doesn’t really give you that option. We’re green and GREEN and when you wake up the next day, it’s all BROWN and the leaves are gone. Almost as if you woke up in a different place entirely.

Pictures above are from our trip to Duluth, Minnesota. It’s such a quaint little town full of so much life. Tons of midwest charm. And that air! So fresh.

That cool, crisp fall air was the welcoming change my soul needed. ❤️

Now for 2017! We’re planning a west coast trip – Seattle to LA or San Diego (haven’t quite figured out how far we’ll go!) So if you live in Seattle, Portland, San Fran, LA, San Diego or pretty much anywhere near Hwy 1, or have done this little drive, share share share! 👏🏼

Where do we eat? What do we see? I’ve got the TripAdvisor version of things I need to do, but what do my locals say? 👋🏻 Have I mentioned how important it is for me to pick the right restaurants? You know i’ll have what I want to order picked out even before I leave Texas. And if I haven’t told you this before, know that I have major vacay-FOMO. Like seriously. I’m pretty sure Anees is going to be shocked when he looks at the number of stops i’ve planned. CANNOT miss a single photo opp.

Also taking suggestions on entertainment for our drive. What are some good audiobooks or podcasts? I enjoy self-help, mystery/thrillers, and HARRY POTTER. What do we even do when we’ve listened to every song on my iPod? I hear the cellphone service is super patchy down the PCH. How do we stay sane? Road trip games?

And is 10 days enough? Can I make stop overs in 3 states in 10 days and cover it all?

This FOMO is real. I hate finding out I missed something important when i’m back from a trip.

I’ve also got a little update on my 30 before 30 culinary bucket list.

Warning: I didn’t quite make it to 30. This was more of a list of mastering or trying to do something for the first time at home. I could’ve told you I made it by adding a bunch of bogus stuff on there. But this is about experiences and most of all, LEARNING. At least i’ve got 23 things I’ll know how to do [successfully] in my thirties.

Things like, learning how to make baklava on my own. I’ve made it a tons of times with my mom but there’s always that little hint of fear when you do something by yourself for the first time. Also on the list, using a pressure cooker for the first time (is it weird that I was deathly scared of it?), perfecting homemade pie dough, and mastering the art of biryani making.

And speaking of eating more veggies. 👆🏼 I figured out the perfect balance of consuming more veggies but also keeping it in line with my love of comfort food. LOVE when things work out better than originally planned.

Here’s a look at the top 10 recipes from 2016 on LSJ, it’s been one TASTY year!

  1. One Skillet Chicken with Garlicky Mushroom Cream Sauce
  2. The BEST Steak Fajitas
  3. Baked Firecracker Chicken
  4. New Orleans Gumbo
  5. Shrimp Enchiladas with Poblano Cream Sauce
  6. One Pot Greek Chicken and Rice Pilaf
  7. Firecracker Salmon in Foil
  8. Mexican Street Corn Salad
  9. Creamy Chicken Piccata with Garlic
  10. Cuban Shredded Beef

So tell me! What are your new years resolutions? What’s on your list?

Continuing with my 2016 resolution, let’s do MORE. This is one resolution I want you to add to your list too. MORE positivity. Let’s LOVE more, live more, do more for each other. Let’s read more books, pray/meditate more, spend more time with loved ones, and hug each other more. I want us to take more breathers from everyday life to just spend a little time on ourselves. Whether it’s going to the gym in that time, getting a pedi, or even something as simple as making yourself a cup of tea.

Just remember: make time for YOU; you’re worth it.

See you in 2017!