Baby it's cold outside.

When it's cold outside all I want it soup...or chili! Or grilled cheese and tomato soup-- oh goodness I love a warm bowl of happiness during the "winter" months I endure here in the panhandle. One of my friends in college loved making Chili...and it was dang good chili. But I uncovered his secret- and y'all should feel really special because I've decide to share the secret with you. It's so crazy simple that you'll want to make this all the time. Your husbands, boyfriends, guy friends will love you forever...ladies love chili too, we just don't need to be as impressed as the men ;)

It doesn't look like much does it? But oh goodness it's so delicious. Also, the reason my Chili looks like it's in a plastic bag is because it is. Well it's in a ziplock slow cooker liner - which is the BEST invention ever. You don't have to clean the crock pot at all. Which pretty much makes the whole crock pot cooking thing phenomenal. Ok, enough about the awesomeness of crock pots and not cleaning them.... on to the recipe. 

The main secret ingredient that makes your chili super amazing relies completely on "the Brown Bag. 

Yup, this baby contains all the work. Don't follow the directions on the back- well I guess you could- it would probably be good, but I hate directions, so I just do my own thing. You can buy this at Publix, and also Walmart I think. 

Step one: Brown one pound of meat - I use ground turkey... cause it makes me feel all healthy and B can't tell the difference when it's covered in all the other goodness. 

Step two: Everything into the crockpot - a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, two cans of beans- i use kidney and pinto - or two types of kidney, or kidney and northern, whatever feels right- onion powder (I'm allergic to onions so I never cook with them; but onion powder is usually ok), a green pepper, BEER (like a cup? or just pour until it looks good)- something you really like the aftertaste of- I used Sam Adams winter lager and the magical goodness of the Brown Bag. Cook on high for two hours, then on low until you want to eat it. I add lots of cheese and sour cream on top. It's just the BEST. 

Yup, that's all you need to know. Try this out for your Super Bowl party, or when you're short on time and need a great tasting dinner. Ok, I'm going to eat Chili now, bye y'all!

Two Thousand Fifteen.

I'm really good at writing "New Year" posts. Cause I'm all hopped up on that "new year high" and you know- the adrenaline is pumping-- it sounds fun to meal plan, and workout, and wake up extra early. Then after 5 days of that you're over it. And you're back to your normally scheduled routine of not having enough time to get anything accomplished. Three days in and I'm feeling pretty on top of things over here.... so far I've witness some friends get engaged, watched a lot of football, read a book, seen a movie, dreamt about my next year, enjoyed a date night with my sweet man, re-decorated my room, grocery shopped for the next two weeks, done all my laundry (THIS NEVER HAPPENS)- bought new jeans that I really love and weren't a fortune, and my 2015 calendar is currently as up to date a possible. This is probably the most "put together" I'll feel all year, but at least I'll spend the first few days of the new year as organized as possible. Mostly, I hope to spend the rest of the weekend like the above picture-- doing a little design work, eating pizza, and watching movies inside while the rain pours down outside. 

This year is going to be one for the books, I'm sure of it! So many great celebrations happening this year (graduations, weddings, babies!) And the party planner in me can't wait to be a part of each and every single one of them! I'm still working on my official "goals" for this year- but I thought I'd give you a quick update on how I ended my 14 for 2014. I'm thinking more of a 30 before (I turn) 30 set of goals for these next 23 months...so more on that soon. 

 

----------------------------------- FOURTEEN in TWENTY-FOURTEEN -----------------------------------

1. Less is MORE.
This was my least accomplished goal--- I'm off to a good start now, so I think I'll be more focused this year. But during 2014, this is the one that really fell to the way side. 

2. More Jesus, ALL THE TIME.
I'm feeling really good about my morning routine, my small group involvement, and just the time I set aside to really center my days around Jesus! 

3. Love More.
There's always room for this goal- but I'm feeling good about how this influenced my days in 2014. 

4. Be patient.
Let's just say this one is a work in progress. 

5. More gratitude, Less entitlement. 
Also, feeling great about this-- really using this thought process to go about my life these days. 

6. Pray BIG.
Clinging to this one a lot right now. Praying for a lot of big things this year. 

7. Travel.
Dallas, New York, All over FL- I got in some great travel time-- looking forward to a year with even more adventure!

8. Buy new glasses
I didn't do this yet, because by the time I found the ones I want I was pretty sure my prescription had changed- but it sill be happening this month after a quick trip to the eye doctor!

9. Journal more often
Feeling great about this! All over the journaling these days. 

10. Raise $2000 for my trip to Panama!
CHECK! Panama was awesome. 

11. Buy a bicycle. 
B bought me a bicycle for Christmas--- so watch for me in the streets :)

12. Buy new jeans: that I really love.
I bought a pair that I absolutely LOVED-- a few weeks ago I ripped a huge hole in them. Mehr... however, I did find two new pairs for a total of $30 and either pair might have the potential to become my new favorite jeans. 

13. Learn how to ski.
When I said the first goal was my least accomplished goal- I lied. I forgot this was on the list, that's how not close I became to accomplishing this. I didn't see snow, get to ski, or even think about skiing this year--- this is definitely making my 30 before 30 list. 

14. Beat my PR in my next 1/2 Marathon.
I was planning on running a 1/2 marathon in February with a bunch of my College YL gals- but I hurt my knee a few weeks ago and my running game has been majorly derailed...so not sure what this will look like. 

Overall, I feel like I did a really great job focusing on many of these goals- because I like to reward myself for completing some, and totally forgetting about others :) 

Control, Alt, Delete. It's a New Year (almost!)

I'm pretty positive I actually deleted a lot of old blog posts. Like 3 years of them. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but they no longer exist. Which is why it looks like I didn't blog for an entire year, but I did- I just have no proof. Whoops! I'm usually pretty tech savvy- but I think my "out with the old, in with the new December cleaning" got the best of me and I threw them all into the cyber trash shoot. Which means I could totally blog about so many of the same things and you all would have to be okay with it, cause no proof otherwise- ha! So let's have a little 2014 recap.... a handful (6) of weddings, birthday celebrations, fun trips, new jobs, stamps in my passport, and lots of joyous days filled the pages of my calendar this year!

JANUARY - Well the NOLES won the National Championship game, so that pretty much started the year off wonderfully :) 

FEBRUARY - I'm sure February was awesome. I just can't remember anything specific so every single day must have been wonderful. You know, just an overall totally awesome month. 

MARCH - I traveled to Panama (the country) with Tallahassee Young Life! Gosh, that was such a sweet, sweet week. This was my first mission trip and it was a wonderful experience. If we run in to each other and you want to hear some of the best stories from the trip ask about - cashews, coca-cola, pink eye/poison ivy in the eye, the morning ritual, our van almost falling off a cliff, or just watch this great video: http://vimeo.com/89260864

APRIL - I started a new job! I left the world of higher education and hopped on over the the non-profit sector. I love, love, love, my job! You can read more about what we do on our website: www.jamesmadison.org. I jumped right in by executing our annual dinner, which was a great success! You can see pictures from the evening by clicking here

MAY - Manny & Ry got married in May which meant not only did I get to celebrate them, but also so many dear friends came back into town for their wedding! I can't believe they've been living the married life for 7 months already!! 

JUNE - Lots of our time and attention was directed to the Word Cup this month. We were really great Americans and put on our red, white, and blue and drank our favorite america beer. I honestly don't remember what else occupied our June days.... Actually I know we went to Epcot to celebrate my mom's birthday...which was just the best! 

JULY - Oh July, also one of those months where I can't remember anything super specific that happened. I do remember that we went to see fireworks on the fourth of July- and they didn't work. Yup, nothing happened. So after waiting for two hours we all left and didn't see any fireworks go off- it was a little sad. 

AUGUST - Lisa got married! One of my oldest friends tied the knot in Nashville, TN! It was such a beautiful weekend and I loved celebrating her! KK turned another year older and we celebrate din Nashville by hitting up some of the most well known spots- like the Bluebird cafe and Pancake Pantry!

SEPTEMBER - Road Trip! A few of us ladies road trip'd it to Dallas for the first FSU game of the season! I'm now spoiled and would like to watch all of our games from the first row of the Cowboys Stadium. My favorite part of September (and maybe most of the fall) was kicking off Young Life College!!!! I have a really great small group of college ladies who have made my Tuesday nights so great...I'm really excited that this semester we're on campus for club EVERY WEEK! September was a busy month- I also traveled a lot for work this month...taking some of our events on the road all across Florida.

OCTOBER - Jess got married this month, which was so much fun, the seminoles kept on winning AND the greatest event in Tallahassee happens this month: The Greek Food Festival. I managed to hit up the festival three times in the two days that it goes on. I thoroughly enjoyed my favorite greek foods....I'm already counting the days until next year's festival is here. 

NOVEMBER - This month I traveled to Texas for the Young Life College Summit- which was so fun! It was really interesting to see how college towns across the nation are executing College clubs. We got some great ideas, and are excited to kick things off again in 2015! Additionally, one of the best cover bands "Yacht Rock Revue" came to Tallahassee and put on a FREE concert! What a fun start to my birthday weekend! 

DECEMBER - Consisted of Addison and Shawn's wedding, seeing Vanessa, my favorite Manhattan gal and exploring NYC with my most favorite roomie Al (highlights include Cabaret with Alan Cumming and Emma Stone, the Rockettes, more shows, great food, and a selfie with the Rockefeller Tree) Traveling to SWFL for a little Christmas break and getting to spend another year hanging with my favorite guy, B. Woohoo 2014- you were pretty dang great--- Can't believe the year 2-0-1-5 is upon us...I'm starting to feel old or something!


two thousand fourteen.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS!

Gosh, I just love the start of a new year. As a perpetual list maker, day planner addict, and overall organized obsessed gal the start of a new year is a fresh clean slate that inspires and motivates me. This motivation does not always last very long- but it's a start...right???!? I love lists. And goals- and having a way to clearly track the progress I'm making. In the past I've done 101 things in 1001 days, 25 goals before I turned 25, etc. So when I sat down to consider what I want for my life over this next year a common theme kept popping up: SIMPLE. So this year I'm focusing on 14 goals in 2014. The first 7 are very general- more like guidelines for my every day living. The next 7 are specific, measurable goals. If you're feeling inspired you should make yourself a list too! It's never too late to start!

 

1. Less is MORE.
I know this concept and I've always tried to remember it, but I get so caught up in life that I often forget to practice this idea. So I'm being intentional with my time, what I buy, how I utilize all that I have.

2. More Jesus, ALL THE TIME.
So it's probably telling that this is my second bullet point. whoops! My heart is so full when I turn to Jesus first- but I often run to Him with my plan and ask Him to abide or after a few failed attempts realize He's a good plan B. My hope is to run to Him with no agenda, and just listen. To submit all things to Him first. This could probably be a goal for the rest of my life. Maybe next year it will make the #1 spot ;)

3. Love More.
Funny that my first goal says "LESS" and the following goals all have to do with MORE. But it's a good more! I want my first reaction to always be one of compassion and love. Even when my days are long or I'm just not feeling it. I want to love my family, roommates, boy, young life friends, co-workers, strangers, everyone- more.

4. Be patient.
HHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Yes, I'll be working on this one a lot.

5. More gratitude, Less entitlement. 
I forget where I heard this recently, but gosh it stuck! I want to be thankful for everything- not just the things I want- and I need to remember that I am entitled to nothing. But thankful that God chooses to use me in such extraordinary ways. 

6. Pray BIG.
When I run to God with my plans they are safe, and mediocre. But His plans are extravagant, and challenging. I want to pray BIG! To be challenged BIG.

7. Travel.
Travel is my love language. I have so many places I want to see and go. I'll always be dreaming and jumping at the chance to travel. 

8. Buy new glasses. I just want new cute ones that I can wear when my contacts are killing me. Allergy season is just around the corner so glasses will be a necessity. I've been eye'ing (pun intended) some cute Warby Parker ones. 

9. Journal more often. I love journaling, but I just got out of the habit (read: lazy) and playing candy crush, or checking instagram would fill my extra morning minutes. But I've been journaling more already and it's the best. 

10. Raise $2000 for my trip to Panama!
I'm going to Panama for Spring Break! (The canal one, not the touristy FL "SPRING BREAK" one. Also- I know, I don't get spring break, but I made one for myself. Thanks.) So yes, I leave in sixty-two days. EEEK. 

11. Buy a bicycle. 
This originally said a new computer. But then I got self conscious that all my goals were getting pricey and my first one says less is more. I really want to be a good bicycler. But I'm not- but I see these really pretty bikes at Walmart and I think I could get in the habit. I'm not lying when I say I'm terrible at riding a bike. I did not practice very much when I was younger. Also I lived in southwest Florida. There are no hills. And Tallahassee is like the "City of Hills" or some stupid crap. So my past experiences of bike riding in this town have not been the best. I rock at riding a bike 3 feet below sea level on the smoothest asphalt you've ever seen. Also, helmets do not look good one me.

12. Buy new jeans: that I really love.
Yesterday I ripped my favorite jeans. It was not their time. And they don't make those ones anymore (why, why, WHY, do they discontinuing jeans that people love?) So now I have to find new ones. And I'm picky. And cheap. So the hunt for a few good pairs is on!

13. Learn how to ski.
I want to ski people. Florida has no snow, so so far it's not looking good. I have no experience, no ski gear, and no one interested in teaching me. So far it's not looking too good. So really by "learn" how to ski I mean- just go skiing for the first time. I feel overly confident that I'll be pretty good at skiing. (This is based off of NOTHING. I've never been water skiing and  I suck at skateboarding.) 

14. Beat my PR in my next 1/2 Marathon.
This is last because this is not a goal. It is torture. Running is not fun. But it is rather effective as exercise. So I'll be running another half marathon (in 47 days) My training is not up to where it needs to be. But I do have these fabulous new sneakers that look really good on me while I pitifully run. So there's that. 

 

Hope you're feeling refreshed and inspired by the New Year! I'm excited for everything that twenty fourteen has to bring!

 

XO,

AG