Checking in with my “31 things” list

On October 18th, I made a list of 31 things I hoped to do before my 31st birthday. Granted, this was an ambitious list as my 31st birthday is February 28th. I will give myself carte blanche to extend this little list til my half-birthday (August 28th, duhr) if I feel like it.


1. Drive a car. Legally.

I have a feeling this won’t be likely to happen by February 28th. ONE DAY THOUGH, MY FRIENDS. ONE DAY. And when I do drive, I certainly won’t have an excuse to have any drunken biking shenanigans. (Why didn’t someone tell me my helmet was backwards?!)


me drunk


2. Learn to like beets OR eggplant

This one is going pretty well. I’ve eaten beets a handful of times. Turns out I don’t mind them when they’re shredded and in salads. Less obvious to my palate, that way. Two occasions in particular stand out—in the delicious Garden Wrap from Blossoming Lotus and in my Caesar Salad from Proper Eats.


My plans for eggplant include making an eggplant-bacon. If you add maple syrup and liquid smoke to cardboard it will taste good. Although it’s questionable whether eggplant tastes better than cardboard or not, I’m willing to give it a try.

3. Make my own amaretto

Urm, hmmm. I will do this one before I turn 31. Pinky Swear.

4. Start learning graphic design and mad Photoshop skillz

Oh, I had the loveliest reader volunteer to help me with Photoshop, but I haven’t had time yet to follow up. I will soon, Katharine!

5. See the Northern Lights in Iceland

I thought this one would be in the bag. I had my trip booked and everything. But then I received a call from Icelandic Air. They gave me the choice of either flying out of Seattle the day before I had bought my ticket or the day after. Or get a refund.

My first thought? “SEATTLE? I thought I was flying out of Portland!” My second thought: “Hells to the yeah on the refund. Ireland, here I come!”

I studied in Northern Ireland ten years ago and have been wanting to go back for SO LONG. So, I bought a ticket. I’m flying into Dublin on January 25th. OH YES.

ireland_irish-countryside-farmland (source)

Look at this. I don’t care one bit that I won’t be crossing #5 off my list.

6. Revisit an old destination

To be honest, I don’t quite remember what I was thinking here. How strict do I want to be with myself? I revisited Cave Junction for Christmas. Does that count? I went out to the Gorge in November. Does that count? I have a feeling I was giving myself a little leeway with this one. I’ll take it!



7. Find the best espresso shot in Portland

Done. It’s a tie—Heart, Stumptown, and Cloud 7.


8. Donate to a farm sanctuary

I personally haven’t donated yet, but as part of the Vida Vegan Crew, we donated 5% of ticket sales in 2010 to Pigs Peace. I will personally donate to one before my 31st birthday.

9. Write a business plan

In progress!

10. Go on a night hike

Oh yeah! This one will be fun! I have no doubt I can finish this before February 28th.

11. Maybe look into possibly perhaps buying a fancy new SLR Camera

Still reallllllly want to, but with my broken computer keyboard and usb ports, and my jerk of a phone, a fancy camera unfortunately has got to be pushed lower on the list.

12. Write love notes to my friends and family


13. Grow my hair out

In Progress!

14. Make a lentil meatloaf

Done! I made a lentil meatloaf for our Christmas dinner. I looked up several recipes for inspiration, then just threw in a whole bunch of stuff. It turned out beautifully, and while I probably won’t end up sharing the recipe, I do have some advice for any would-be lentil loaf makers out there: use lots of binder. I used flax seeds, bread crumbs and walnut pieces. It held together beautifully.

15. Go sledding

Oh Man! Who wants to go?!!??!

16. Post a photo essay composed on the colors of Fall

Done! Twice!




17. Visit the California redwoods for my dad


18. Spend a day volunteering

Urm, not yet! Though I spend a lot of time volunteering for Modified Style, which supports awesome local non-profits (like Sisters of the Road and Out to Pasture Sanctuary).

19. Run a 5k

Did someone feel over-ambitious while making this list?

20. Implement and throw an International Vegan Blogging Conference [Vida Vegan Con!]

In Progress!

21. Attend a Quaker meeting

Oh yeah. Quakerism is fascinating. I’d love to learn more. Any Quaker readers who want to take me a meeting with them?

22. Read a book for pleasure

Done! Well, mostly Agatha Christie murder mysteries (a good murder mystery is a great way to spend a bus ride) but I just purchased and started Zadie Smith’s The Autograph Man. She is one big bundle of awe-inspiring talent, and I can’t wait to get into it. If you haven’t read any of her work yet, I highly suggest On Beauty.


23. Paint a picture

Done! I walked into Muse (an awesome art store on Hawthorne Blvd here in Portland) a few days ago and told the very lovely gentleman working the counter that I wanted to paint a picture. He kindly steered me toward an acrylic set (on sale from Christmas, whoo-hoo!) that included a messenger bag, 3 brushes, 5 tubes of paint and some scraper-things. I bought some canvases, then proceeded home, feeling confident in my artistic masterpiece that was about to be created.

paint-palette-bob-ross (source)

Painting is hard.

My first draft is an eye-sore. But I have hope for my next piece! I think I will draw something lightly in pencil first, or at least get an idea of what I want to paint before I put paintbrush to canvas.

24. Get another tattoo

I can *almost* guarantee that I will get a tattoo either in Ireland this month or during Vida Vegan Con this August.

25. Pay for the person behind me in line’s movie ticket

I need to go to the movies more often!

26. Attend a bikram yoga class

This will happen.

27. Compliment every single person I talk to in a single day

Oh, this one will be fun! What day should I choose? Probably not a day I have to work, as I’d then have to compliment everyone who came in to the brewpub…. That’d leave me with complimenting over 300 people, for sure. I will wait for a day off.

28. Make homemade Christmas presents for everyone

Hmmmm. I made homemade vegan Baileys for some peeps. I will count it.


29. Eat raw one day a week for a month

I will try it this month!

30. Start writing in a journal again

Done. I have begun the process. There’s something beautiful and capital-R-Romantic about writing in a small black journal at a bar, sitting quietly, sipping your wine, and ruminating on the state of your affairs. I had forgotten the amount of enjoyment I get out of journal writing.

31. Take time to smell the flowers

Always! I was obviously trying to be kind to myself by giving myself an easy one.



What things do you want to accomplish before your next birthday?

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About Janessa

I'm a travelin' vegan gal, event planner & writer who loves eating, drinking, hiking, biking, reading, writing, loving, scheming, learning, laughing, champagne-ing and gerunds.
  • Heidi

    you are one very special and beautiful woman Janessa.

    • Janessa

      Thank you, Heidi! <3

  • Michelle Warner

    Janessa I think this is just wonderful! Honestly I must say I’m jealous that you are going to Ireland! I have always wanted to go. Maybe one day? It is on my bucket list! lol I made one last year. You have inspired me to go find it and maybe add on! Thank You!

    • Janessa


      Oh, I can’t wait to see what else is on your bucket list! It is fun, isn’t it, making little goals for yourself?

      FYI, roundtrip tickets to Ireland right now are around $600. Good price! 😀

  • Abby

    I can help with #9. Let’s go! I’m always down for a night hike. We’ll grab our quartz rocks and be on our way! And I can help with #19 too. Wanna run the Valentine’s 5k together? It’s Feb 13, just in time for your birthday. Can’t wait to see you tonight love!

  • I did something similar with my 30th year:

    it feels really good to achieve all that.. just turned 31.. and have a big list of things to achieve this year…. I think lists like these are GREAT!

    • Carla, I love your blog post! You are one BUSY lady!

  • i haven’t been to a Quaker meeting and i’m interested in checking one out. if you ever want to attend a Mennonite service, i’m totally on top of that.

    • Karla, let’s check out a Quaker meeting together! I’ll look into it.

  • I just found your blog through, uh…twitter I think? I LOVE this “birthday bucket list” type idea…I may just have to get on board with a list of my own, I’ve got a few months until September so I can accomplish a lot, ha!

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