two hands holding cones of gelato in the air

I can’t believe I’m writing another ‘last goodbye’ post. I feel like I just wrote the one for last year!

This year has undoubtedly been a blur. But there’s so much to be grateful for. This year we completed all the projects we’d planned on doing in the house when we first purchased it. My kitchen is finally done. Although we didn’t rip out the floors or install new cabinets, the subway backsplash and the framed double-paned window we did install breathes so much new life into my kitchen. It finally feels complete! Just in time for us to realize that the space in this house isn’t exactly working for us anymore, considering my kitchen is downstairs, and my studio is upstairs! That’s a lot of running up and down the stairs I’m doing at the moment so not exactly sure how much longer I’ll be able to keep up with it. Maybe 2019 has a move in store for us; who knows! [insert facepalm]

Both my siblings graduated this year. My younger sister finished her undergrad and graduated with highest honors with a double major! My brother also finished graduate school with a doctorate in PT. Can you tell I’m a proud older sister?

The ups were great, but the downs hit us too. A few months into the year the pipe in the wall of our family room sprung a leak, and I woke up to squishy wood floors one morning. We had to rip out half the flooring in the family room and then look for an exact match, so we didn’t have to replace all the faux wood floors in the house. Stressful is an understatement! Thankfully, hubby was able to find the exact match (only one store in all of Houston has and makes them), and we were able to have them installed without too many other issues. Crisis averted.

We also lost someone very near to us a few days ago, my great-aunt to be exact on Christmas Eve. She was a prominent figure in our family. One that was loving and caring, and though most people aren’t close to their great-aunts, we had the privilege of knowing her, and she loved us like we were her grandkids.

She will truly be missed.

Girl standing in front of the Colosseum

a shot of one of the five fishing villages in Italy

Moving along…

This year I shared some of my favorite things from 2018 as well as a favorite kitchen tools post. This is something new, and I enjoy putting them together, so I’m hoping to continue this tradition into the new year!

We took three trips this year; four if you count the one that started last year and ended a few days into this one.

  • LA/San Diego
  • Chicago
  • Italy
  • Orlando (specifically, Harry Potter World)

I still owe you an itinerary for Italy! We took a two-week trip, so there is tons I want to share about where to eat and what to do, but soon after we got back, Venice had terrible flooding in late October. It was so devastating to see; we’d walked those same streets less than two months ago. I decided to postpone the posts until we made it into the new year. So don’t worry, it’s coming!

There’s also a ‘best tips’ post coming for Harry Potter world, so if you’re a fan (or your kids are) look out for that one too!

hubby in me standing in downtown Chicago Illinois

Personal goals for 2019:

  • volunteer more
  • find natural ways to calm my ever growing anxiety (feel free to leave tips if you have any!)
  • step away from social media on a regular basis
  • travel often
  • take more mental health days
  • incorporate more meatless meals in our diet

This last one seems to be a rollover almost every year, but honestly, this year I want to make more meals focused on meatless protein and of course, more veggies!

Butter Beer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

a picture of hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Okay, so moving on to the top 10 recipes from 2018 on LSJ! It’s no surprise when I look down the lineup of recipes that made the list, they all include tons of garlic! It makes my heart incredibly happy to see that there are so many garlic lovers out there! 😂

Here we go..

  1. Crazy Good Quick Garlic Noodles
  2. Balsamic Tomato Baked Chicken
  3. Garlic Lovers Pepper Steak Stir Fry
  4. Chopped Thai Chicken Salad
  5. Instant Pot Korean Beef Bowls
  6. Baked Garlic Butter Chicken with Mozzarella
  7. Garlic Butter Skillet Steak and Shrimp
  8. Cozy Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini
  9. Rancher’s Texas Chili (Chili con Carne)
  10. Flu-fighting Chicken Noodle Soup

While we’re on the topic of recipes, is there anything you’d like to see more or less of on the blog? Is there a recipe you’d like to see my take on? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

And that’s it! I can’t believe how quickly 2018 just flew on by! I hope the new year holds tons of incredible surprises and the best adventures for all of us!

See you in 2019!

image with 10 images of the top 10 recipes from 2018 on little spice jar