Photography / See Hatsie Plan

Plan: 2013 Report Card

I’ve spent the past few weeks in serious reflection.  How did 2013 go?  What do I want for 2014?  Where should this blog that is entering it’s 4th year (what?!?) go next?  It’s been the perfect blend of refreshment, inspiration, and that certain brand of anxiety/excitement/adrenaline one feels when they are climbing the crest of a roller coaster and are just about to willingly plummet towards the ground at irresponsibly high speeds.  You know, that feeling.
I feel like big things are in store for 2014.  Big things were certainly in store for 2013, and I have a gut-feeling that 2014 is going to continue this trend exponentially.  Or at least, that’s my plan.
But first, let’s look back at 2013.  Goal setting is all about a blend of a dreaming, planning, and reflecting.  Reflection is my favorite, and so here we go.

First, the superlatives!

Most Popular 2013: Crispy Fried Pickle Chips.  This wasn’t even a contest.  This post has been the most searched, most clicked, and most loved recipe I’ve posted this year.  I like that you all share my devotion to salty, briny, fried things dipped in ranch dressing.  It’s how I know we’re friends.
Most Searched Recipe 2013:  Since the Fried Pickles can only win once, the second most searched term this year was “make your own pizza party,” which directed readers and Googlers alike to my post, How to Host a Homemade Pizza Party.  It’s super simple with a little help from your grocery, and a few really great homemade ingredients.
Most Pinned Recipe 2013: By far and wide the most pinned Two Recipes post on Pinterest this year was Skillet Roast Chicken.  It’s beautiful, it’s easy, and it’s tasty.  These are things Pinterest likes.
Best Brand-Centered Post 2013: Well, there was only one, but I still loved it!  These Buttermilk Brined Old Bay Wings with White Barbecue Sauce celebrating Hellmann’s 100th Anniversary were not only delicious, they showcased one of my favorite products to buy.
Best Published Recipe 2013: Ok, again, there was only one.  But ya’ll!  I was published!  These Peanut Buttery Dog Biscuits were published in Ocala Style Magazine back in July.  Sure, it’s a local magazine, but that’s my picture and my recipe in that local magazine!
Best Non-Food Post 2013: Wedding Bells!  Little brother got married in 2013 and I loved being able to recap that wonderful week here, here, and here.  The video in the first link is worth the trip alone.
Best 2013 Resolution: It’s no secret that my favorite 2013 resolution was the {Signed and Sealed} column.  I loved being able to send treats to loved ones, think of new ways to make a mail-able food item, and flex my crafting skills with the packaging.  This will definitely continue into 2014, so watch your mailboxes!  Catch up on all the {Signed and Sealed} Posts here: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12
Best Detour 2013: This is pretty subjective and not fair to all the other great places I visited in 2013, but I have to say the best trip I went on in 2013 was to Napa Valley.  I came home inspired and rejuvenated, not to mention full of incredible food and wine.  There was so much to say I had to split it up into three posts, Where to Eat, Where to Drink, and What to See.  It was a good week and a trip I won’t soon forget.
Best Entertaining Recipe 2013: 2013 brought with it a new city and a new apartment that is more than equipped for entertaining.  I tried my hand at a few recipes and themes, but my favorite by far was this Braised Pork with Fall Vegetables, and the people and night it accompanied.
Coolest Recipe Trick 2013: This one swept the Internet like wildfire, and I was not immune to it’s blaze.  Even so, this (Only) One Pot Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato and Basil was a revelation and a seriously cook trick.
And finally, I tried to narrow down my absolute favorite recipe of 2013, but couldn’t even come close, so stay tuned for my Top Ten Recipes of 2013 later this week.  Ten is better than one, right?

Now, the Resolutions!

1. Save. — A+
This year I took a somewhat crazy leap of faith and got a new job in a new industry and moved to a new city.  It was a serious challenge for me; I had spent a good deal of time in Boston planning what I thought the rest of my life would look like, then one afternoon it didn’t look like that anymore.  They say hindsight is 20/20 and they’re right.  I am pretty proud of myself for making the jump.  This new and ongoing adventure has been a wild and exciting for sure, but rewarding and a very happy one.  It’s made it possible for me to save and not burst into tears every time I open my electric bill, which is good because that was my goal for this year.  But more than that, it’s taught me that it always works out, “it’ being life.  We’re very rarely on a linear path, and that has been a valuable lesson this year.
2. Make the Perfect Pizza.  Incomplete.  (If this were a real report card I’d suggest scheduling a parent-teacher conference.  You know, to discuss progress).  
Hey, you win some, you lose some, right?  I made that beauty you see above and was pretty proud of myself until I realized it was stuck on that brand new pizza stone like freaking cement.  While I did not learn how to make the perfect pizza, I did learn that you should always flour the cooking surface when attempting to make any pizza, perfect or otherwise.  I also learned some other things: Perfection isn’t always an attainable or wise goal and how to make a pretty incredible apple pie.
3. Send Mail. — A+
I’ve said it once in this post and I’ll say it again, mailing treats to friends is the most fun thing ever.  I recommend everyone trying it.
4. Write. — A.
That’s my dinner journal and not an actual journal, something I hope to talk to you more about in the coming months.  2013’s writing goals centered entirely around this blog.  I gave myself the goal of writing 10 posts a month and I averaged about 9, coming in 10 posts short for the year.  In the process I learned to just sit down and write even if I didn’t feel like it, and that sometimes inspiration is lacking, and sometimes it’s overflowing.  Either way, write.  
5. Stay Healthy.  Ongoing.
Real-talk: this one is a doozy, isn’t it?  Last year my goal was to continue doing what I was doing.  And to some extent I did, and to others I didn’t.  I graduated my Master’s program and in doing so lost my student gym privileges, but I also tried to eat pretty healthy.  Beyond that, though, this goal is always a tough one.  Like most people (I’m not even going to try to pin this on women.  Men, you feel it too, I know!) I want to be my best self and be kind to my body.  I also want to be kind to my mind and my heart, and sometimes one overshadows the other.  A couple of months ago I found myself looking through old Facebook photos, a fun exercise but a dangerous one for sure, and realized that no matter how good I looked in those pictures in retrospect, at the time I felt that something could be better.  I decided then and there that I was going to be nice to myself, at least as nice as I would be to any stranger on the street.  It’s obviously not easy all the time, but maybe this year was to teach me to be comfortable in my own skin, no matter what that looks like, and also be a healthy me.
This is obviously something I’m still thinking through.  Luckily, these goals are guidelines and these grades are arbitrary.  All of these resolutions this past year were set with the best intentions.  Some played out exactly how I figured they would: Send something to a friend every month.  Some played out in ways I never could have dreamed: Hello, Pittsburgh.  Some just didn’t get done: Pizza.  Some took a whole different direction: what a healthy me looks like.
All of these, though, taught me something valuable about myself, about the world, and about life.  To me that’s what a resolution does.  It doesn’t beat down, it doesn’t shame, it doesn’t expect you to have the exact same mindset on January 1 as you do the rest of the year.  No, resolutions move you forward.  They ensure that you do something, anything, with the next 365 days.  At the very least, they help you mark the ways in which you have changed.  In this fast life, taking a moment to be intentional about living and flexible with your goals is a good thing.
Because in the end, it all works out, doesn’t it?
Here’s to a great 2014.  I think it’s going to be big.

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