This is the best of 2018 — a recap of my “tops” and favorites” from the year!
the best of 2018
This morning on my run, with just 1 more day of 2018, I played a virtual slideshow of all that was 2018. This year had some parts that were extremely difficult, but also some that were so very good for my heart and soul. Because I am one who reflects and shares, I have compiled some of the “bests” and my “tops” of the year! The list includes my favorite books, recipes, trips, dates, accomplishments and more. Keep scrolling to read more.
Reading is one of those activities that I wish to do more. Although it’s one of the first activities to go when I have to cut something out of my schedule, I always have at least 3 books lined up to read as soon as I’m able. While my list of books wasn’t the longest in 2018, here are some of my favorites!
- To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins
- This is a story about how Jedidiah Jenkins takes the adventure of a lifetime by quitting his job at 30 so he can bike from Oregon to Patagonia. The book tells of his story and all he learned along the way. Honestly, reading this book made me want to quit my job and adventure for the rest of my life.
- Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
- Shauna writes this book to share about how to live a more rich, engaged, and loving life. Each chapter taught me about slowing down in an effort to live in a more simple and purposeful way.
- For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
- This book is basically Jen convincing you that life is lovely, fun, courageous, and kind. She uses humor and vulnerability to talk about relationships, Jesus, and the joys and challenges of our world.
FROM MY KITCHEN
In the midst of a busy year, I did not set aside large amounts of time for cooking. That’s not to say I didn’t prioritize making nourishing meals, because I absolutely spent time every week meal prepping, cooking healthy meals, and stocking my fridge with staples. The top recipes I made this year are ones that are simple, quick, tasty, and nutritious.
ARUGULA + WATERMELON + FETA + MINT + RED ONION + VINAIGRETTE RECIPE
- Watermelon Feta Salad by Shauna Niequest
- I made this salad over the summer to take advantage of fresh watermelon while also impressing some people I had over for dinner. The game-changer for this salad was the secret step of soaking the watermelon in lime juice the night before making.
- The Best Healthy Turkey Chili by Ambitious Kitchen
- Alan and I had this meal multiple times this year because it’s just so darn easy to make. We loved making a big pot and grabbing from it during a busy week of school.
- Healthy Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Mexican Quinoa Chili by Fit Foodie Finds
- All my crock pot users out there, this recipe is for you! I’m all about dumping ingredients into a pot and coming back hours later to a hot and healthy meal. This meal is nourishing, filling, and perfect for colder weather.
- Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Cookie Dough Crack Bars by Rachel Mansfield
- I started making these bars this year and have them stocked in my freezer at all times. I love having a bar by itself, crumbled on yogurt or ice cream, with fruit — you name it & I’ll eat it. This has been my perfect night cap (especially when paired with Halo Top!)
- Lightened Up Chicken Pot Pie by Ambitious Kitchen
- Alan really wanted to make a pot pie, so I found this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen. I’m really glad we decided to make this recipe, which turned out to be really tasty (probably because of the homemade crust).
SEA SALT DARK CHOCOLATE COOKIE DOUGH CRACK BARS RECIPE
FROM OTHER KITCHENS
Just to be clear, all of the food in this category was not made by me! One of my favorite parts of traveling is getting to visit new restaurants and find the best food in town! I love searching Yelp, finding the hidden gems, and ordering the top-rated items. Each of the top foods I ate this year came from different cities!
- Brunch at Merriment Social
- Alan’s cousin opened Merriment Social (along with another restaurant, Third Coast Provisions) a few years ago and over the summer we had the opportunity to travel with his family to try them. The brunch at Merriement was fire — it consisted of chicken and waffles, melty sausage and cheese curds, an avocado bowl, burgers and fries, brussel sprouts, cocktails, and THE WORKS.
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie Ice Cream in a Waffle Cone from Comet Croissanterie & Creamery
- Is it better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all? I ask myself this question when I think about this ice cream because I will only have it once in my life. On a quick stop in St. Louis, my mother-in-law and I went to the creamery to get some homemade ice cream and waffle cones. As soon as I walked in the door, my heart melted a little because I got to watch the workers make homemade waffle cones in a waffle maker, and then hand me the warm cone loaded with my ice cream of choice. I got the vegan white chocolate macadamia nut cookie ice cream with chunks of white chocolate and cookie and it’s my favorite ice cream I have EVER eaten. On a trip back to St. Louis at the end of the summer, I went back hoping to fulfill my dreams again but they didn’t have the flavor. I asked the worker and he said they only made the one batch as a test and never continued it because it was ridiculously expensive to make. I’ll now be on the hunt for my new favorite ice cream….
- Lunch at SoKno Taco Cantina
- On my trip to Tennessee, Nat took us to SoKno after a long day of hiking. I got the lunch special which was a fish taco, carnitas taco, and chips with salsa and queso. Of course I ordered a frozen lime margarita, so it was kind of weird to me that it was yellow and not green. I just love Mexican food and this is a different level of food than you can get in Kirksville.
- Tacos from Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
- Have I mentioned Mexican food is my favorite? On a trip to San Diego, I ate Oscar’s as a post-half marathon meal. I loaded up on tasty shrimp tacos, smoked fish tacos, and tortas.
- Trip to Tennessee
- My travel/adventure ladies are Leah, Joslyn, and Natalie. Somehow we always end up committing to make long drives across the country together, and I love it. One day we will go to Europe, but in the spring we opted for a trip to Nashville, Knoxville, and the Smoky Mountains to visit Natalie. It was a lot of driving, but also a lot of heart-bursting, soul-filling goodness. We hiked, ate, and explored all weekend long.
- San Diego, California + Destination Half Marathon
- I have always wanted to do a destination half marathon, so when Alan’s cousin, Amanda, invited me to run with her in San Diego, I committed and bought my plane ticket in less than an hour. Alan and Leah went along for the trip as well, which ended up being a long weekend of running, eating, and exploring the coast!
- Lake Okoboji, Iowa
- Alan and I wanted to take a mini trip for our anniversary (our one year of marriage!), but needed to ball on a budget. We took a long weekend to northern Iowa iowa to camp, swim, and relax on the lake. The trip was hot, restful, and filled with soul-filling walk and talks.
- Glorieta, NM with Campus Christian Fellowship
- I saved up my vacation days so I could spend spring break on a service trip to Glorieta Camps with Campus Christian Fellowship (the campus community I spent time with in undergrad). The week was filled with work projects for the camp, rest, sunshine mountain runs, and time spent building new relationships.
- Crested Butte, Colorado
- I had the privilege to spend a week of the summer in Colorado to celebrate the marriage of one of my very best friends! Though the main focus of the trip was Sami’s wedding, I got to spend time hiking, driving, and making new friends. I’ll take a trip to the mountains anytime!
- Gulf Shores, Alabama
- The Smith family spent the week of Thanksgiving in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and it was glorious! There was sunshine, slow days, and so much time with family. This trip was exactly what I needed to help me through the end of the long semester.
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- I actually visited Knoxville, TN twice this year! When your best friend moves to another city, you prioritize visiting, even if it’s a very long car ride. Alan and I made the trek at the end of the summer to spend a long weekend with Nat and Maddy, and it was so fun! Similar to the last time I visited, we hiked, ate, and chilled. It was perfect before starting a busy semester!
At the end of a hard year, I can look back and list a few things I am proud of achieving. Each of these required time, hard work, and the help of others.
- Investment to Life in Jordo’s World
- The consistency, vulnerability, and reflection required to keep up with my blog is something I am proud of. In addition to writing content for my blog, I try my best to regularly post on Pinterest and Instagram. I love everything about this creative learning opportunity. I appreciate all of the feedback, encouragement, and advice offered throughout this endeavor. There is SO MUCH MORE I wish to do with Life in Jordo’s World and I’m excited about what is to come!
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- Commitment to Running
- My physical health is one of my top priorities because it’s linked so much to my overall wellness. I like to strength train, go on walks, and swim, but running has been my rock this year. I have had quite the relationship with running and this year has been filled with many miles of sunrises, training, getting faster, and going longer. My longest run of the year topped at 17 miles (last week!) and I look forward to breaking that in 2019 as I continue training for my first marathon!
- Working Towards my Master’s Degree
- You guys, graduate school is not a piece of cake. Because it’s my part-time, post-work gig, I easily find myself unmotivated, tired, and annoyed. However, this year I completed THREE WHOLE SEMESTERS of graduate school, and that feels really good to type. There were so many projects, papers, and time spent in class, but I have come so far. I’m thankful for the people who have helped me through (shout out to Shari, Alan, and Crystal) and I am working hard to complete my degree and figure out future career opportunities.
- One Year of Marriage
- In July, Alan and I celebrated one year of marriage! As of now, we are already up to 1.5 years — holy wow! Being Alan’s wife is the most rewarding, humbling, and life-giving responsibility of my entire life. We have learned so much and I am filled with joy to think about the future of our little team.
Community is one of those things that changes with each season of life. It’s usually challenging, weird, but ultimately necessary. This past year of life has been filled with new people and strengthened relationships, and I am so thankful.
- Dinner Club
- One of the best parts of 2018 has been the formation of dinner club. Essentially dinner club is a monthly rotation of making meals for one another. We cook real food and prioritize real conversations. It’s been amazing.
- Being married to Alan is my absolute favorite thing in the whole world. Alan is my teammate, encourager, roommate, and the one who cares about me and knows me deeply. He loves me so well.
- Accountability Group
- This past year, I met weekly with Taylor, Laura, and Kelsey. Kelsey moved in the summer but some form of us four has consistently met throughout the year. We meet at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday mornings, usually at Hy-Vee, in an effort to encourage, listen, challenge, support, and keep each other accountable. In addition to drinking coffee every week, we also did fun things this year like a Hy-Vee donut challenge and a weekday campout.
- Running Group
- Since the beginning of my relationship with running, I’ve been a solo runner. That all changed this summer when I started running with a group of people. It has been absolutely amazing to run with others. The group has helped with motivation, accountability, and pushing me towards goals. The best part of training with others is the new relationships and overall this has been one of the most fun things of the year.
- My Gal Pals
- I have several amazing friends spread across the United States. This year I learned a lot about the friendship formula and long distance friendships. Community has changed, but I love each of my ladies so very much.
DATES WITH ALAN
This past year has been filled to the brim with responsibilities for both Alan and me. With jobs, school, and other activities, we are committed and busy people! Date nights this year weren’t glamorous, but they were always something we both enjoyed. Our top dates this year were both simple, yet special.
- Camping Trip
- Taking a camping trip is one of the most budget-friendly ways to travel and spend a lot of time together. We will both be honest and say Lake Okoboji wasn’t our favorite camping trip we’ve had together, but it was still fun and a memorable way to celebrate our anniversary!
- Anything with Food
- We are food people. We like to celebrate with cooking, eating out, and sharing desserts. At one point during the year we celebrated with a fat piece of wedding cake (not our own) and a bottle of wine.
- Movie and Dinner in Bed
- There’s something outrageous about eating food in bed. It makes me feel weird, but giddy. Alan and I both enjoyed getting take-out sushi and eating in bed while watching a movie on my laptop.
- Tattoo Wedding Rings!
- This year we finally got our tattoo wedding rings! Andy from Tower Classic Tattooing did them for us and we love them. (Yes, it hurt like a mother.)
- Sunset Drives
- One thing we like to do is drive around rural Missouri. There were several times this summer and fall we made an effort to just drive so we could actually spend time together talking instead of working on homework, cleaning the house, or doing whatever other task on our long list of “things to do.”
I prioritized self-care in 2018. While this is by no means mastered, it’s something I have to make a constant effort to make a part of my life.
- Personal Retreat Day
- I actually started off 2018 with a personal retreat day. I am convinced EVERYONE (yes you!) needs a day like this.
- 24-Hour Wilderness Retreat
- During the last week of summer I spent 24 hours retreating in the wilderness. It was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait for the weather to get a bit warmer so I can do this again.
- Stress Management Tips
- Early in 2018 I spent time thinking about stress management and reflecting on the best tips. I am not even close to figuring it out, but I’m working on it.
- Wearing Jammies and Going to Bed Early
- This year I embraced the fact that I enjoy wearing pajamas and going to bed at 9 p.m.
- Walking everything around Kirksville with Alan
- Alan and I regularly found ourselves walking around the schools, through the streets, and at 1000 Hills. This was our time to spend catching up, relieving stress, and connecting with one another.
As 2018 comes to a close, I can honestly look back with thankfulness and joy. As I think about 2019, I don’t have solid plans, but I do have big goals and dreams. Thank you for doing life with me. I hope you will venture with me in the new year!