Looking Back on 2013

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I still can’t believe it’s over, and that 2014 is just around the corner. I still didn’t feel like it was Christmas until earlier this week so it’s crazy that it went by so fast.

I’ll probably do a recap of my Christmas/New Year’s week sometime next week but for now, I wanted to share some of my favorite posts and moments from 2013. As with any year, there were some ups, some downs, but overall it was an incredible year for me for many reasons, and I’m hoping 2014 is even better!

January

I experimented with homemade donuts, I took a hiatus from WIAW and I shared my orthorexia story

Some post-holiday Christmas lights in Denver.

Some post-holiday Christmas lights in Denver.

February

I broke some fashion rulesmade some Superbowl-worthy raw jalapeno poppers and shared my thoughts on clean eating

No white after Labor Day? Pssh, I wear what I want!

No white after Labor Day? Pssh, I wear what I want!

March

I compared my meals from when I started my blog until nowI tried out grain free baking and I admitted to my struggles with the scale and mirror

My first sushi night with friends.

My first sushi night with friends.

April

I got snowed in, shared my fear of rest days and feeling full and made some homemade Easter candy.

Snow in April isn't unusual but a FOOT of snow definitely is!

Snow in April isn’t unusual but a FOOT of snow definitely is!

May

I spent some time at the poolgot all nerdy about cacao powder and started my weather internship at a local TV station. 

I also reunited with an old Starbucks favorite,, the unsweetened passion iced tea.

I also reunited with an old Starbucks favorite,, the unsweetened passion iced tea.

June

I started eating more raw foods, expressed my sorrow over a second year of wildfires in my hometown and revisited an old favorite vacation spot

More pool time for this chica.

More pool time for this chica.

July

I professed my love for homemade fooddealt with some flash flooding on the job and found that being sick can be an ED trigger

I also celebrated my 21st birthday in style, even while recovering from being sick.

I also celebrated my 21st birthday in style, even while recovering from being sick.

August

I indulged in some incredible vegan carrot cake ice creamvacationed to see family in Wisconsin and got a tablet to replace my dying laptop. 

I love airports and flying!

I love airports and flying!

September

I tried out eggs (and ended up keeping them out of my diet), gave an inside look at my fridge and struggled with senioritis

I also got my third-ever manicure.

I also got my third-ever manicure.

October

I shared my thoughts on figure competitionstalked about the ‘Ashley Diet’ and did some fun things with my family during a weekend at home

A quick and yummy lunch from a local vegan juice bar and cafe.

A quick and yummy lunch from a local vegan juice bar and cafe.

November

I let you all in on my meal prepping secrets, I talked about some girl problems and I bought a bunch of fun foodie products

I went to Native Foods for only the second time ever and I can't wait to go back again.

I went to Native Foods for only the second time ever and I can’t wait to go back again.

December

I started a no-added-sugar plan before the holidays, I got through finals week with some good food and I graduated college a semester early. 

The happy graduate.

The happy graduate.

I feel like I’ve grown up so much since the beginning of the year–I’ve conquered another year of living (mostly) independently, completed an amazing internship, got through a semester taking on a full course load, dealt with some personal struggles (some are still going on), made some great friends and most of all, started my new life as a post-grad looking for her first full-time job. It’s crazy how much things have changed since this time last year, but I wouldn’t trade any of it! I’m even more excited to take on 2014!

What were some of your most memorable moments of 2013? What are you looking forward to most in 2014? 

Forever 21

Finally 21. I usually don’t feel different on my birthday, but this year I did. I feel more mature, more independent. Not just because I can legally drink but also because I’m just a few months away from graduating college. It almost feels like yesterday that I started college as a scared little freshman, and now I’m about to embark on my adult life. Weird.

21 was a birthday I’ve only really looked forward to in the past year or so. Before that, I vowed I would never drink–because the few sips I sampled of my parents’ drinks tasted gross to me. That’s not to say that now I’m 21 I’m going to become a crazy partier. I have no desire to get drunk or drink cheap alcohol. I would much rather sip a glass of white wine while watching a movie at home, or enjoy a fun cocktail at a fancy restaurant.

I did drink on my 21st, but my birthday was more than just about the alcohol. This birthday marked the last time (most likely) I’ll be living at home to celebrate. It’s bittersweet looking back on the past 21 birthdays (obviously the first few I don’t remember)–going to waterparks on my birthday, spending it by the pool in the mountains, watching the Summer Olympics, always going out to eat with my family/friends. I’m going to miss this part of my life.

As I said, my 21st was a lot more than being able to drink in a restaurant–which I definitely did, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I started the day as usual–waking up, checking my phone, enjoying some sweet potato-Sunwarrior-banana softserve with homemade magic shell (hey, had to make it special for my birthday!) and getting ready. I did wake up still sick, with a still-sore throat and irritated eyes, but I’m sick of letting little things ruin my day, so I’m really glad I didn’t let lingering sick feelings make my birthday less than special. And what made it that much more special was the decorations I found once I got downstairs. My parents have always been great about making our birthdays feel fun, no matter what we end up doing, and I’m really grateful for that!

bday decos

Starbucks and shopping were on the agenda…with none other than my sister! Even though we’re really different, we have a lot of things in common–namely our love for the ‘bucks, shopping for clothes (especially at Forever 21), Whole Foods salad bar and alt rock music. All of which we enjoyed together on my birthday 😀 I’m seriously gonna miss that girl when I graduate and I still can’t believe she’s just a year away from college herself! Anyways, we had the best time drinking iced coffees, yelling at stupid drivers, finding the perfect things to buym laughing at the dumbest things and marveling at the giant Whole Foods we ate lunch at.

Breakfast at home. Lunch at Whole Foods. Birthday dessert made by me.

Breakfast at home. Lunch at Whole Foods. Birthday dessert made by me.

The rest of the afternoon was spent making my own birthday dessert. I’d never done that before, but I really wanted to make something that my family and I could all enjoy together. I went with this raw coffee cheesecake and it.was.delicious. My dad even said it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever made, and he’s a total dessert freak! It’s definitely a great dessert to make for raw vegans and non-raw vegans alike, especially if you love coffee. Aaaaaaaand…I got to enjoy a piece for two nights afterwards, so a total winner!

Dinner was what I was looking forward to all day though (other than shopping obviously!) I’d been wanting to go to a tapas place in town since I’d heard they had lot of vegan options, and the fact that they’re 100% gluten free was icing on the cake. I wasn’t sure if my family’d like it, especially my sister who’s pretty picky and likes typical teen food, but they loved it just as much as I did!

Tapas are basically small dishes generally in a Mediterranean or Spanish style that are meant to be shared with others. I’d never had tapas before but since I love eating little bits of a lot of different things (and Mediterranean food!) I knew I’d like it. My family got some dishes with meat or cheese, but I was still able to try a lot of the things we got, like warm olives (love olives!), fresh garlic bread (the best garlic bread I’ve ever had, and GF too!), patatas bravas, artichoke and onion salad and a gazpacho ‘shooter’. Everything was so fresh and tasty–definitely my kinda place. And their sangria was amazing as well. We got two carafes–one was the sangria del dia, which was pineapple orange with white wine and my personal favorite, and the other was a traditional blood orange sangria with white wine. I got carded (of course) but I loved the experience of being able to enjoy a quality drink in a nice atmosphere. And sangria is now my favorite drink!

Gazpacho and sangria del dia.

Gazpacho and sangria del dia.

But the best surprise of the night was when our waiter found out it was my birthday and he let me pick out a dessert for free. I had already made a dessert for us at home, but the chocolate tasting plate sounded too good to pass up, so I ended up sharing that with everyone. It was basically 8 small squares of dark chocolate ranging from 65-85% cacao and it was paired with some blueberries and Marcona almonds. It was some good chocolate, and it went really well with the berries and almonds. So glad I went for the dessert instead of opting out just because I had dessert already planned!

My two loves are evident in my presents: clothes and food.

My two loves are evident in my presents: clothes and food.

Back at home, I opened presents and then we had my birthday cake cheesecake. A few of my presents were total surprises, like the denim shirtdress and Zoku pop maker, but everything I got was something I’ve been wanting for awhile. You know you’re a foodie when you get excited for a popsicle maker and vegetable peelers 😉 And the raw ‘cookbook’ has some really delicious looking recipes so hopefully I can share some with you guys soon! The purse and clothes will also get a lot  of use–this girl can never have too many purses or outfits!

My birthday was one of the best birthdays I’ve had, and it wasn’t just because I got presents I loved or because I could finally order a drink in a restaurant. It was more about the memories I made with my family and the happiness I got from being able to enjoy one last birthday with them.

What made your last birthday special? What’s your ultimate birthday dessert?