Looking Back on 2020
Photo: Erica Carryl | Vine & Branch Photography
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I want to start off by saying thank you.
I appreciate the outpouring of love I've received in response to my last blog post... and I'm grateful for the encouragement I received -- especially on Instagram -- when I told the world I needed to slow down. This support has meant so much to me, and I can't say "thank you" enough.
One of the things I've started doing in January is sharing a "year in review" about the previous year. It's my way of acknowledging what's happened and then closing the books so I can jump into the new year with both feet.
2020 was such a chaotic roller coaster 🎢. Honestly, I could write a series of books about 2020 because there's so much to unpack. So, of course, I gave myself extra time to process and reflect.
Here's an update on the goals I set for myself for last year.
Live Green in 2020
When I choosing my theme for 2020 -- live green 🌱 -- I considered the various meanings of the word. Based on those meanings, I created five categories for my goals:
When January rolled around, I had just over four months left to complete my 40 Before 40 challenge. So a lot of my energy went toward making sure I crossed off everything on that list before I turned 40. Then the pandemic hit and all notions of normalcy went out the window. I had to get creative to finish the 40 Before 40 challenge and I had to accept that I might not hit my overall goals for 2020.
I crushed my 40 Before 40 challenge! 💪🏼 And here's how I did on my 2020 goals.
Goal: Plant herb garden.
Outcome: Despite having more time at home during the pandemic, I didn't have time to plan our outdoor garden space. Instead, I created an indoor herb garden on the windowsill in our kitchen. As of today, the mint is thriving. 🌿 The basil plant is very tall but only has a handful of leaves worthy of harvesting right now. I could wait and see if the new growth makes it through the winter... or I could order another kit so the basil will be plentiful in time for summer. Unfortunately, though, the rosemary plant didn't make it.
Goal: Grow planter tomatoes.
Outcome: As for the planter tomatoes 🍅... those didn't happen either. I envisioned having tomato plants on our back deck that we could enjoy throughout the summer. Not wanting to start those plants from seed... I had hoped to pick up tomato plants from our local nursery. Every time I stopped by the nursery, though, the plants weren't in stock... or they had already started withering.
Maybe this summer 🤞🏼...
Goal: Reduce food waste.
Outcome: You may remember that I set these particular goals back in 2019. That year, my theme was Less is More. I challenged the family to think about ways we could reduce food waste and our household waste. Since we were so successful in 2019, I kept these goals for 2020, intending to make even more progress on them.
Since we didn't start composting in 2019, I bumped that up as a priority last year. The hardest part was assembling the tumbling compost bin I bought... Separating our food into things for the bin and things for the garbage was a snap. Especially after I bought a compost pail for our countertop to eliminate the need for constant trips outside. Even the kids are pausing before throwing food out... They always ask whether things can go in the compost first. 🙌🏼
Another thing I've been good about is saving vegetable scraps. I put the scraps in a bag and store them in the freezer. Then when I have enough, I either make vegetable broth or I use them with bones from a chicken or turkey so I can make stock. What a difference in flavor!
(Look for a post about homemade vegetable broth soon!)
Goal: Reduce household waste.
Outcome: We're making similar progress with reducing our household waste. Our recycling bin is almost always full (or overflowing). And I've been more mindful about the products I'm buying and the packaging those products come in. Reusable and sustainable products are key for me, and I'm willing to pay a little bit more if it means reducing our footprint.
I'm considering dedicating a blog post to share some of my favorite sustainable finds over the years. Let me know if that's something you'd be interested in reading!
Goal: Pay off credit card.
Outcome: I'm pleased to say I took care of the credit debt goal early in the year! By the middle of March, I paid off the balance of the targeted card. 🙌🏼
Goal: Pay off one student loan.
Outcome: I was on track to pay off another one of my student loans last year. But, after speaking with my financial planner in May, I tabled that goal. She advised it was better to focus on putting money into savings... on building up our emergency fund. Especially with the pandemic and not knowing how things were going to pan out for us financially. Would we still have our jobs by the end of the year? What would we do if I lost benefits at my job? I agreed with her and shifted gears. So... for now, I'm not going to worry about my student loans as much and will continue to pay the minimum payments each month.
Goal: Plan monthly dates 👩❤️👨.
Outcome: My husband and I had a lot of work travel on the calendar in January, so no date that month. To make up for it, we planned two dates in February -- a lunch and a dinner. Then, right before we went into quarantine in March, we had one more lunch together, just the two of us. Then... nothing. I look forward to the day when the mere idea of a Date Night doesn't seem impossible.
Goal: Create more new blog content.
Outcome: I definitely hit this goal. I worked so hard in creating my content calendar and sticking to it. Sure, there were weeks/months when it was harder to publish anything new outside of a menu plan... but I gave myself permission to do what was doable rather than push myself to do the impossible. I didn't allow myself to feel guilty about needing to take breaks. I'm proud of the progress I've been making in this space... especially the new blog design and the backend updates to older posts!
Goal: Read 20 books.
Outcome: I came pretty close to reading 20 books in 2020 but only managed to finish 18. With everything else going on in my world, I'm not surprised. Here are the titles I read last year:
- The Dressmaker's Gift by Fiona Valpy
- When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O'Neal
- And Then You Loved Me by Inglath Cooper
- Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas
- Beside Herself by Elizabeth LaBan
- The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms
- The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter
- Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie
- Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley
- The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen
- This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell
- When I Was You by Minka Kent
- For Everyone by Jason Reynolds
- Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
- Less by Andrew Sean Greer
- Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist
Goal: Plan monthly "mom only" outings.
Outcome: And those "mom only" outings? You know the answer... Let's not dwell on it. 🤦🏽
If all goes according to plan, I'll be sharing my theme for 2021 on Friday along with my goals for the year... STAY TUNED!
In the meantime, did you achieve all you set out to do in 2020? What did you do that you're most proud of? What are your goals for 2021?
One year ago: 25 Instant Pot Soup Recipes
Two years ago: What's for Dinner: January 6 - January 12
Three years ago: Weeknight Beef Stroganoff
Four years ago: Where I've Been
Five years ago: Find Purpose in 2016
Six years ago: Menu Plan: January 11 - January 17
Seven years ago: Molinari's - Bethlehem, PA
Eight years ago: Pea and Prosciutto Arancini (and a Giveaway)
Nine years ago: Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs with Polenta
Ten years ago: A Feast of Seafood at The Waterfront Crabhouse
Eleven years ago: Ten in 10: Stocking the Kitchen Pantry
Twelve years ago: Mocha Peanut Butter Brownies
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