Sunday, January 5

Reflections and Fresh Starts

Ah, here it is, the obligatory reflecting post for 2013, and my often-forgotten resolutions for 2014. I love new beginnings, I'm a fresh start kind of person. We can shrug off the worries of the old year and bring in the new with fresh opportunities and the wonder in our eyes of children. It happens every year- and I love it. This past year was no doubt a difficult one, from the loss we have felt as a family to the hard work I put myself through at school, this past year really took it's toll. Amid all the struggles though- there is one thing that kept me fresh- and that is adventure. Though I spent the entire year stateside- that doesn't mean I didn't travel. Below are a few of my favorite adventures that I got to take in 2013!

Holi Festival at Tarleton State University with Regan, Jessica, Jeremiah, Liz, Audrey, and Andrea

Spring Break in Austin where I got to see my sketchbook that's now housed in the Brooklyn Art Library

 Family Vacation in South Dakota where we visited Nathan, Wall Drug, and Mt. Rushmore

 Austin City Limits Music Festival with Regan and Liz

And now for the resolutions! I'm so bad about writing posts as soon as I get back from the trip, and this year, I endeavor to do so! We have a few weekenders planned (we want to do a weekender in Shreveport this semester- and probably one in Austin, and another in Fort Worth), but the majority of my travel funds this year will be going to my next trip to Europe!

For those of you that don't know, I'm returning to Europe for about five weeks as soon as the spring semester ends- and I am very excited. Before, I did a semester long study-abroad trip that held a full course load of classes- this time, it's a single course done in three weeks. It's a class about Europe in War and Peace from 1914 to 2014, and I am very excited to be learning about the history of Europe while standing where it happened! The trip will include: Oxford and London, England; Frankfurt and Berlin, Germany; and Prague, Czech Republic. After the course ends a friend and I will be meeting another friend in Greece (yes, I finally get to go to Greece!) for my Birthday! Best present to myself- ever. I'm working really hard to pay for the trip, as things like this are quite pricey- but to me, it's worth cutting back in some places so that I can do things like this. I also learned to use my credit card wisely and earn rewards like airline miles and hotel vouchers- which has really helped in preparation for this trip. I still have a few things left to buy- as for this trip I'm not taking a suitcase whatsoever! I'll be backing in a backpack and not checking any luggage in order to cut down on flight costs, and it's a huge challenge to myself- because I never pack light! We've done some strategic planning, using shampoo bars and the like in order to carefully allot our liquid limits, and picked out the perfect backpack that has great pockets, versatile straps, and a detachable day-bag. I'm definitely looking forward to the new experience, as everywhere on this trip (excluding Oxford and London) are brand new to me!

My second resolution is one I've done for a couple years now, but this time I've chosen a more challenging version. I always pick a cookbook at the beginning of the year and cook my way through it. I generally pick small cookbooks- things that are 50 baking recipes or the like- however, this time I've chosen Williams-Sonoma's Weeknight Fresh + Fast by Kristine Kidd. I'm looking forward to trying new things, as I chose this book because the recipes were not only simple, but had a lot of ingredients I've never worked with. I love expanding my cooking skills, and the kitchen has always been my favorite room in the house, so it's only fitting that it becomes part of my resolutions.

Last resolution is to give myself some tech-free time! I'm not quite sure what this is going to look like, because turning technology off in the evenings like so many have suggested is simply not an option for a college student at a mobile-learning initiative campus. I have schoolwork, and that means using technology. I'm bumping around the idea of being Facebook free for one week a month, or maybe organizing some sort of technology free game-night with my friends that's a regular occurrence- who knows. I love that technology has become what it is- it really has made leaps and bounds that blow my mind (did you know that they're developing a 3-D printer to be used in the medical field, to grow new organs!? that amazes me). But I also firmly believe that it's taken away from our face to face contact, that oh-so-precious connection that you get when you are truly spending time with someone, engaging in life, technology can never adequately replace that, and the sad part is, it hasn't replaced it, it's shoved it out of our lives with a quick "ttyl". So this year I'm going to endeavor to become less dependant on my technology, and we'll see how it goes.

Anyways, I'm back to doing domestic things- my last chance before the semester starts. I've already made cookies and enough Prickly Pear Strawberry Jam to last a lifetime! Now I'm on to experimenting making my own chips from various fruits and vegetables! Till next time.