Greetings from Chicago Mural in Logan Square.

Looking back at 2018.

I always get kind of nervous to look back, in December, at the resolutions I had made for the year back in January. Usually, by now, I’ve completely forgotten what, exactly, I pledged to do with my twelve fresh months.

Oh, who am I kidding, I usually forget by February.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, this year, when I reread my 2018 New Year’s resolutions. Sure, there were things I knew I didn’t accomplish. I didn’t lose any weight or really cut down on sugar like I wanted to do. I mean, I guess I did lose some weight and did cut sugar back drastically when I hit the ground running in January. But then, come February, I got lazy again, I slipped, and I gained back what I had lost.

But there were other things I did make progress on. I had resolved to follow through with projects and finish the things I was already working on before starting something new. And I did great with that. I really focused on a handful of blog projects this year instead of leaping into new things and letting my mind wander. On this blog, for instance, I finished updating old content, replacing missing or too-small photos, and adding Pinterest images to all of my posts. Those projects took all year (hey, I’ve been blogging since 2006, I have a lot of posts) but, by breaking them into more manageable chunks with a task manager app, I was able to focus and finish some projects that have been on my to-do list for a very long time. And that focus helped: my blog traffic grew by over 50% this year over last.

I also wanted to make more money, and I did. I took on some freelance work this year that allowed me to make a little extra spending cash. With that money, though, came more things to work on, more things dividing my attention, more things that kept me, constantly, behind a laptop. So I’m considering cutting back next year. Because I’m not sure if more money is always worth less time. And I never feel like i have time.

Good Vibes Only.

All in all, 2018 wasn’t a bad year. It wasn’t a fantastic year, but it wasn’t bad. I just kind of was. I did, finally, get myself to travel again, if only to New York for the Fourth of July and a mini road trip to the Wisconsin State Fair but I hope to build that momentum into bigger things in 2019.

And, I suppose, the biggest thing I did this year was adopt my cats. My amazing, squishy, adorable cats. They are pretty much my world now and I’m pretty much OK with that.

Rooney and Ford, my adopted cats.

But, contrary to what many of my friends believe, I did leave my apartment, and my cats, at least a few times over the past year. Looking back at 2018, here are some of my highlights from my year…


I turned 37.

I wasn’t shy about the fact that I wasn’t really happy on my birthday this year. Still, a birthday is big thing. And 37 didn’t turn out all that bad.


I took a Chicago pizza tour.

My sister got me a ticket for a Chicago pizza tour for my birthday. We visited four pizza places: Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta, Flo & Santo’s, Pequod’s Pizza, and Coalfire Pizza. While I think Pequod’s is the best deep dish in the city, Coalfire’s Pistachio ​Pesto ​pizza became my favorite thing.

Pizza tour of Chicago with Chicago Pizza Tours - Pistachio ​Pesto ​pizza with pistachio ​pesto, ​berkshire ​sausage, ​burrata, and ​honey at Coalfire Pizza in Chicago


I paid off my student loans

Ten years after graduating grad school I finished paying off my student loan! If only I could say the same of my credit card…


I saw the Kitten Lady at the Catcade.

Hannah Shaw AKA the Kitten Lady is a kitten rescuer who takes care of baby cats who might otherwise not have a chance at life. Her boyfriend Andrew is a cat photographer who has published a couple of books of cat photography. They were giving a talk at the The Catcade, an arcade-themed cat cafe in Chicago. My friend had an extra ticket that I swooped up and it was basically my dream day.


I dyed my hair pink.

And I really feel like my best self when I have pink hair.

Shoulder length hair with a pink peach balayage.


I traveled to New York.

I hadn’t traveled anywhere in two years so my trip to New York was a big deal. Even if it was only for a few days and even if it was somewhere I’d already been a million times.

Walking The High Line in New York City.


I watched the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest from the press stand.

It’s always fun to watch the Nathan’s Fourth of July hot dog eating contest live at Coney Island! (Especially when you have a press pass!)

Joey Chestnut wins the 2018 Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest on the Fourth of July at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.Joey Chestnut wins the 2018 Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest on the Fourth of July at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.


I went to a bunch of Chicago summer festivals.

Summer festivals are my favorite thing about Chicago. This summer I went to Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest, Do Division Street Fest, Maifest, Square Roots Festival, Renegade Craft Fair, and the Lincoln Square German-American Oktoberfest.


I went to the Wisconsin State Fair.

I went to the Wisconsin State Fair and ate everything deep fried on a stick. And I watched the cheese curd eating championship while there.

Original Cream Puff 3-pack from Original Cream Puffs To-Go. | What to eat at the Wisconsin State Fair.


I went to a Cubs game with my coworkers.

Or, I should say, I ate Hot Doug’s.

Cubs game at Wrigley Field with my coworkers and friends.


My friend Lindsey got married.

Lindsey and Derrik got married!

Lindsey and Derrik's wedding.


I learned to read tarot.

I took two classes so I’m really good at reading my cats’ tarot now.

Learning to read tarot.


I went to a wine and paint night.

I’ve always wanted to do a wine and paint night but never wanted to pay for one and end up with some crappy thing I painted. But my work hosted one for La Boheme with Pinot’s Palette so I got to attend for free and make a masterpiece.


I had a great skee ball season.

Our team ended up coming in second place in the league, but we had a great time all season long!


I went to all the Christmas bars in Chicago.

OK, maybe not all the Christmas bars in Chicago, but I did go to Christmas Club, Elf’d Up (where I met Buddy the Elf), and Homeslice.


I celebrated Christmas Eve with my family.


And Christmas with my cat family.

My cats opening their Christmas presents.


And I ate a lot of things.

A. lot. of. things.

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And how was your 2018?

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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