Today marks one year from the first time I published something to this blog. And it started off much how this post did; with some wine-infused, late-night keyboard therapy. Thinking back to where Eclectic Avenue all began, I’m very impressed with what I’ve built in the past year. I haven’t put nearly as much into it as I picture I’m capable of. I’ve barley scratched the surface, and a year ago I had one lonely blog post published. A year ago I was sitting, staring at my computer screen and anticipating my final semester of college; wondering what in the world I’d be doing at this point. I couldn’t have predicted the way things turned out. I couldn’t have prepared myself in any other way. Instead, I took things in stride, wrote down what I could, and steered this ship in whatever way felt right at the time. I’ve made connections, I’ve put my name out there, I’ve gotten some pretty amazing recognition. I’ve bought not only one, but two domains and turned this blog into it’s own freestanding brand and publishing outlet. I've expanded my brand to include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and an email list. None of which I maintain very well, but they are great resources to me when it comes to sharing my content. I have some credibility under my belt, and I’m amazed at myself for my accomplishments, and publishing over 85 posts in just 12 months.
I have to reflect in order to truly appreciate the path I forged for myself. I know I’ve dropped the ball a little bit, and I know I could have published way more than I actually did. I’m still working to catch up from the past few months, but my life is completely different from January 2015. I now call myself a writer instead of a student. I have several side projects that I try and maintain. I have a vision for my future that was built off of this website, and I’m constantly becoming more confident in my ability to make an impact.
This is a congratulations to myself. I may not have impacted a lot of people, I may have published some things that only I enjoyed. But the fact that I’m loving my success as a blogger is a motivational catalyst that keeps edging me on. My biggest readers may very well be my close friends and family, and at times this may seem like a glorified diary. But I know I’ve worked through things in my life through this outlet, and I know that this is something I can’t deny about myself. I’m a communicator. No matter what I’m doing, I’ll always be trying to get my point across somewhere. Eclectic Avenue has been a place for that, it’s been a path that I’m paving for myself; carving out my many perspectives and experiences and hoping that someone can relate. Someone like you.
Thank you for being a reader, and for keeping an open mind. Thank you for allowing me to entertain, enlighten or inspire you. Thank you for being my audience, and for the interest in my writing and my life. Thank you for sharing this website with others, for encouraging the growing reach of my voice. Thank you for showing me that I am capable of more than I could imagine. If it wasn’t for you beautiful readers, this blog would not have the life you have breathed into it. Even if you are a casual visitor, a skimmer, a re-reader or a constructive critic, I know each of you out there is receiving some sort of message from me. To accomplish that is the best result a communicator could as for.
Looking towards the future, I see myself needing to dedicate the time this blog deserves. I want to expand on a few series I have, such as Explorations (my travel series) and Musical Commotion (all about the music!). I also want to incorporate more people into my writing. I want to have others publish their work here, and I want to focus on the accomplishments of others in order to further spread their impact. I want to continue to build on my brand, and I plan to organize this website in a way that encourages others to explore it further. I want to inspire others to find their own avenues, and jump into them without worry or doubt. Publishing my words feels just as good as it did a year ago, maybe even more so. I can feel my thoughts spreading, and I plan to keep that up. I don’t know where I’m leading you, but you can bet Eclectic Avenue is going somewhere exciting. I hope you’re ready to hear all about it.
GREAT MINDS DRINK ALIKE - THE GEORGIA MULE
Hello, curious reader. You might have expected to come here and read something I’ve written, but this post is unlike the others. This post is something different called Great Minds Drink Alike, a series that explores the spectrum of cocktail hour and is co-authored by my eloquent brother, Joey. I have to say, I’m almost too excited to see where our creative (and thirsty) palates will take us with this series. And, it's only fitting that we came up with the idea over a drink.
Since Joey lives in San Diego, it’ll be a fun way to for us to keep in touch as we trade off cocktail recipes for the other to recreate (and inevitably tweak). And you'll get some sort of literary dueling pianos scenario, but with liquor mixed in. Sounds like a good time, right? If you can’t tell who’s saying what, just pay attention to the color of the text. Grey=Becca, Blue=Joey.
The Moscow Mule has been one of my favorite cocktails lately, you just can't go wrong with that spicy ginger flavor. I've had many renditions, but the Georgia Mule is by far my favorite. There's something wonderfully warm about it, and the peachy flavor adds the perfect hometown touch.
HOW TO MAKE IT
Add lime juice, jam, schnapps, and vodka to a cocktail shaker.
Shake vigorously, about thirty seconds.
Pour in the ginger ale. Stir to combine. Garnish with a lime if you're feeling fancy.
(when it comes to cocktails, I'm always feeling fancy)
We'll be shaking up plenty more creative libations as this series continues, but in the mean time you can help spread the goodness by sharing this recipe with those you like to drink with best.
BURNT HICKORY BREWERY
Athens isn’t the only Georgia college town that is also home to a brewery. Earlier this month, I went to The Burnt Hickory Brewery in Kennesaw to celebrate my brother Joey’s birthday. I had heard of it before, but even though I lived in Kennesaw for years, I still hadn’t ventured enough for a visit. Joey is a brewery fanatic, and he really wanted to check some cool ones out before he and his wife Kristen went back to California. So, he decided Burnt Hickory was calling our names and planned to have a little family outing to top off our holiday visit. My parents were excited to come too; my mom has been a fan of one of their IPAs called Cannon Dragger. My sister Amanda and her fiancé Chad were able to join us too, and I was so happy we could all go out and celebrate together. It’s harder every year to get everyone’s busy schedules in synch, so it makes the times we can all be together even more special.
When I pulled up to the brewery, I was surprised at how tucked away it was. The more I thought about it, though, the more fitting it was for the whole atmosphere. And, I really liked the old truck parked out in front. It had “Free your mind and your glass will follow” painted on the side, which is the perfect mindset to have before visiting this place. Burnt Hickory is a small brewery, and it's only been open for about four years. But the charm, clever names and tasty variety of home-brew style beers place them in the top tier of Georgia breweries. My brother even said it was his new favorite brewery in Georgia, which is saying a lot coming from a Terrapin-territory alumnus.
What I thought was interesting was how Scott was able to take a home brew recipe and replicate it on a large scale. One of the things I learned about the process is that a beer’s flavor is dependent on the way each of the ingredients behave under specific conditions. Smaller breweries don’t fine-tune their processes the way corporate breweries do, so there is some natural variation between batches. A Bud Light tastes the same no matter where you get it from, but a Cannon Dragger might be different depending on the slight changes in temperature or timing during the brewing process. Those anomalies definitely add to the layers of character you’ll find at Burnt Hickory.
After our thorough and exciting beer lesson, we hung out and chatted with a few more people before leaving with no less than a huge box full of beer. No exaggeration. After some much needed pasta from Twisted Kitchen, we headed home. I’m so glad I finally checked this place out, and I’ll definitely be coming back for their anniversary party in April which sounds like an absolute blast. They’ll be serving 60 different kinds of beer, and there will be live music and food trucks all day. I can’t wait for it to be warm out again! If you have any ideas for which brewery I should check out next, leave me a comment below. And be sure to go say hey to Scott at Burnt Hickory, he’d be glad to give you a beer and a laugh anytime.
I’m more excited than ever for it to be a new year. A fresh start feels good, and I think it’s about time I really started acting like the adult I’ve inevitably become. There had been a lot of push and pull in 2015, in so many different areas of my life. I’m still trying to piece together the things I really want, and the things that I need to grow out of. It’s hard to keep focused on goals when you can’t focus on anything for more than five minutes.
December was a strange month for me. As I’m usually thrilled about the holiday season, this year felt more stressful than usual and it almost overshadowed all of the wonderful things I enjoy about Christmas. It’s been a little shaky to say the least, but I’m beginning to find a new normal, slowly but surely.
I have a lot of new goals for myself for this year as a whole, like moving in to my own place and seeing a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. But as far as my 101 in 1001 challenge goes, I need to start making some serious dents in some areas or else they might be left out completely. Before I get too far into where I want to go, let me go through my last recap of 2015.
Completed will be bolded. In Progress will be italicized. Incomplete items will stay normal.
I’m exceptionally thrilled that my brother Joey, his wife Kristen, and my cousin Sarah have all begun their own 101 in 1001 challenges (and my mom is almost done writing hers!). I’m not sure if they have plans to publish their progress, but I will definitely share their lists if I have the opportunity. I’m proud of them for jumping in after their goals and for coming up with so many ideas to help themselves and the world around them. If you make a list of your own (which you totally should!), be sure to let me know so I can update the number of dominos I’ve knocked over in terms of motivating others!
I went to three amazing concerts in December, and I really really want to recap each one of them in their own post so I’m going to hold back here. Let’s just say New Year’s Eve was yet again the best concert I’ve ever seen, you’ll have to check back to see why!
My lovely friend Lindsey and I went out to dinner the other week at Moxie Burger in Roswell. It’s a delicious craft burger joint that lets you build whatever masterpiece you can think of. Once again, I’ll be doing a Foodie Exploits post on this at some point so check back for that! And, Lindsey and I will be taking a night class this month as part of her Christmas present! We’re going to be learning how to make jewelry, and I’m pretty excited about it! I’ve seen so many wire-wrapped jewelry pieces at concerts lately and I really want to know how to make them myself. I can't wait to jump into a new skill, and I’m sure I’ll be telling you all about it!
I finally saw Good Will Hunting, and it totally wasn’t what I thought it would be like at all, but in a good way. Robin Williams had some of the best roles in movie history, and I definitely would add this one to a list of favorite movies. I’ll need to watch it again, just to make sure ;).
On top of that, my mom brought out a bunch of my grandparents’ old Christmas music vinyl and we listened to some, which was pretty awesome to say the least (Frank Sinatra was my favorite one!). This led my uncle to go find his old vinyl collection and he ended up lending me a stack including some Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, Eagles and Yes. If that wasn’t cool enough, he gave me his vinyl copy of Songs You Know By Heart, one of Jimmy Buffett’s greatest hits albums. This album was my soundtrack while growing up and spending summers by the ocean, and the songs mean so much to me. I love that it has such a special place in my collection now.
Alright, now that December is out of the way I am going to do my best to clear my head and focus on one thing at a time. I need to learn from my past mistakes, like messing up my first year of college by not focusing on the right areas in my life, and not mess up my first year of adulthood by doing the same thing. Work isn’t hard, sacrifice is. I've been battling with opportunity cost, am I really using my time the best I can? I always feel like I need more time to accomplish things. Like having the free time to run a blog website, or maybe work out, or spend time with friends. I’ll figure it out, I’m sure. But it will take some disappointing people, which is an ugly reality that I wish weren’t so. I make promises too easily but I know that I have to really get my life in order before I can offer to help anyone else. I have a pretty solid idea of where I want my career to go and I can’t get there if I’m not focused on basic life requirements like sleeping, exercising or eating enough.
I’m ready for 2016, and I’ve been ready for this year for a long time. The first full year after graduating college. The first New Year of my actual adult life. I have every opportunity to live out the life I envision. And I’m going to make it happen. It’s not easy to make changes in your life, especially when you’ve become so used to doing things a certain way, but I believe this is worth it. Let’s see where it goes! Until next month, I challenge you to brainstorm goals that you’d like to see yourself accomplish in the next year. It doesn’t have to be 101, but it wouldn’t hurt to have your short-term goals listed out so that you can remind yourself of them from time to time. Here’s to 2016, the year of opportunity!
Writer, stargazer, believer in human beings. Die-hard rock and roller with an insatiable urge to dance my way through life.