Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Day of the Year

It's the last day of the year. One of my favorite days of the year. I like making changes, rerouting, and starting anew. Most of all, I like reflection. I like stepping back and examining the year, reviewing my successes and mistakes, my sound decisions and my impulsive ones. This is a blog-year in review, for posterity.

January
January 2012 was a conflicted month for me. We rang in the new year in Arkansas with my college friends. I was excited about all the travel we would be doing: friend's weddings, our honeymoon, etc. And then a woman was murdered in her apartment in Austin in the wee hours of New Year's Day, and two others were assaulted. They were all about my age. I spent much of January afraid to leave my home, but also not feeling safe in my home. I declared it my "fear zone," in fact.

February
I started to regain my sense of self in February. I was trying Weight Watchers (ha). Tim started a new job and stopped working nights. We were able to pay our bills for the first time in months. For Valentine's Day, Tim took me to see Wicked, for the first time ever. It was an outstanding night out. I spent a lot of time selling paper, realizing how much I didn't like it, and prepping our guest room for company.

March
We had our first guests in March! Anne came to stay for four days, and it was pretty exciting. It was so good to have my boon companion with me again, and having her here made me realize a lot of things I love about Austin. I started meeting with an amazing trainer - determined to win back my body. And then the Hootenanny happened! With the help of my cousin Karen, I threw my sister's baby shower. Tim and I celebrated one year of marriage. That was a hurdle.

April
Right before Easter in April, we brought home three pullets. The day they finally started laying was pretty exciting! We also hosted both our families for an Easter potluck. I had a really terrible dream that shook me to my core. I started contemplating quitting my Paper job, for more exciting ventures.

May
I quit my job in May. It wasn't a significant job, but I had been there close to a year and was a good employee. I was just dying inside, and Tim was sick of hearing me talk about it. The day after my last day of work, Samson was born and I became an Auntie! Then I had my 27th birthday, with little to-do. 

June
Unfortuantely, June will forever be stuck as "LASIK month." I had my LASIK surgery the first week of June. I won't get into that agony here - there's not enough space. A week later, I rebounded into weddings! First, I coordinated a wedding for Tim's twin cousins in Surfside, TX. Then the week after that we traveled to California for a week long trip for Tim & Caitlin's wedding on Treasure Island. Despite getting really sick the second day we were there, it was a really fun trip.

July
We had our second round of guests come to stay in July. Another friend from college came to visit, and we went to a Roller Derby - my first time. I started guest blogging for Sunday Hatch. Oscar turned 5 years old. 

August
In August, I started planning our trip to Greece. That pretty much consumed most of my month. I spent hours reading the guidebook, and scouring Trip Advisor for tips. It helped that I was unemployed at the time, so I made it my full-time job.

September
At the end of September, we packed our bags and took off for Greece. Most of the front-end of that month was spent with me agonizing about the trip itself, however, it turned out to be a fabulous trip. We didn't come home until October.

October
October was full of wedding planning for me. I worked several weddings for another company, and continued planning my own accounts, as well. We spent a good amount of time reveling in our recent trip to Santorini and Mainland Greece.

November
We voted together, in person, and as a married couple for the first time in November. Tim voted for the first time, ever. We hosted Thanksgiving for Tim's family at our home, which was special and fun. I completed my first, really big, independent wedding account, and came to a realization: this should be my "real job."

December
I was blessed with signing two more accounts at the last minute for December weddings. What wasn't a blessing was that they took place in the same weekend. Tim got a pretty huge promotion. 12/12/12 happened - the last triple digit date of our lifetime. We survived the end of the Mayan Calendar, but my computer did not, and I made some gifts for Christmas.

And now here we are: so excited for all the fun 2013 will bring. And I say: bring it on.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Crafts

So the world did not end, but my computer did take a final bow. For two weeks I went without while we took it to the doctor, crossed our fingers, and got a quote. Finally, a few days ago we decided no amount of crossing fingers or bandaids were going to fix that boo boo in a reasonable fashion, and over the river and through the woods to the Apple store we went.

Now that I'm back up and running, I wanted to share one of the christmas craftsy gifts I did this year. This was a tutorial I found a very long time ago on Pinterest, and was waiting for the right timing to put it into use. You can see the tutorial here for complete instructions.

Turning Old Recipes into Tea Towels
For anyone who can run a hemline on a machine AND happens to be just a little tech-savy, this tutorial is great. I didn't really struggle with any step, except with how time-consuming it actually was to hem eight of these in one sitting. I requested my Grandmother write out one of her traditional dessert recipes on plain white notebook paper. Then, following the instructions I edited the scanned copy of the recipe and uploaded it to Spoonflower. The material was nice, and the delivery was on time - which was lucky for me since I waited until the last second to order it! I did all the cutting, hemming, and ironing in one evening.



The towels were printed four to a yard with a blue border so that the back hem was a little colorful. I also added a little lacy loop to one corner of each towel for hanging-up convenience.



To make the gift a little more substantial, I came up with a special way of "packaging" them. Each towel-recipient also received a box of yellow cake mix - the main ingredient in the recipe - and this sturdy wooden spoon. I used these initial ornament gift tags from my favorite place on earth (aka Anthropologie) and some red baker's twine to tie it all together.



Of course, these are really meant more as a decorative keepsake, but they could be useful as well. I liked that I could create something honoring my grandmother and give that gift to her and her daughters and granddaughters (my cousins and sisters). What's neat, too, is that I only chose one recipe this year. I could, over several years, create a set for everyone.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

twelve.twelve.twelve


Did you know that today is the last of the triple digit dates... in our life time? We won't see triple digits again until January 1, 2101. If I lived till then, I would be 115 years old. I really hope I don't. I will just have to take advantage of tomorrow, I suppose, and do something exciting. Like actually put on real pants, instead of pajamas.

Despite this momentous day falling on a Wednesday this year, there has apparently been a swell of people rushing (and planning well in advance) to be married on this once in a lifetime numerical date. The reason? "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Hmmm. Isn't getting married to the person you love THE once in a lifetime opportunity? I know I semi-cared what day I got married on, and I certainly picked numbers that I liked - since I had a choice. But waiting for several years to get married on a certain date? That comment just struck me as a little funny.

It will be even funnier if the world really does end on 12/21/2012. But I guess no one will be laughing then.

Well good luck to all of those getting hitched, and to the man who will be celebrating his 100th birthday, and seeing 12/12/12 for the second time in his life!

Happy 12/12/12!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winding Down with a lot of Ups


If I have been remiss about blogging, I shall have to blame it on my friend Danielle for loaning us The Hunger Game series for Tim to read. This resulted in me stalking Tim and the books every evening this last week, waiting for him to finish and fall asleep, so that I could stay up until the wee hours solidly intwined in the story... for the second time. 

We are feeling good the last few months. Particularly, a lot has changed and developed for both of us and our careers. And they have all been Ups, fortunately. Typically, I spend more time thinking and writing about what I'm thankful for right around Thanksgiving. I really try to use that holiday to refocus, and prepare myself as we approach Christmas and (especially) the New Year to have the right attitude and mindset going forward. I try to be reflective and humbled. This is not easy for me because I'm a pretty self-absorbed person, and when good things happen to me I tend to think I deserve them. But of course, I had a big wedding the weekend after our turkey celebration, and as a result spent the weeks leading up to it very much consumed by other things. It's only now that I have gotten around to starting the annual holiday assessment: looking back on the year, finding all the good things, and feeling humbled.

This year, and wedding season, are winding down finally. After the big weekend coming up, I will be done for the year 2012. And what an exciting year it has been! I am both eager and slightly nervous to break out the old resolution list I made from last year to see where I stand. But that, my friends, is another post for another day. It is always nice to look back on decisions you made (quitting my dead-end job), even when you had very little faith things would turn out well, and see that pieces are falling into place. I will let Tim say "I told you so," because he did. I admit I didn't trust him, but I have him to thank for supporting me - emotionally, physically, and financially - to give me the freedom to try out self-employment.

This time last year, we were about to be blessed with a big transition work wise for Tim, and him finding a good home at a great company. This year, we have been blessed yet again, eleven months later, to celebrate his hard work for that company and enjoy a super promotion. He's very excited and rejuvenated, and feels like a long, dedicated year has paid off. I am so proud.

Of course, there are other big things that happened to use this year as well. We gained a nephew who's adorably cute. We had the good fortune to take several memorable trips. We had lots of house guests. We watched friends get married and start lives together. We deepened friendships. We sent good wishes with sister/brother moving overseas for an exciting adventure. We settled even further into our home. We didn't die of Texas summer heat.

Sometimes just surviving a year with little to no bumps, scraps, or bruises, feels like the biggest accomplishment. I'll give this one a gold star. It's always nice to end the year on a good note. I have a hard time being unhappy this time of year - I love the traditions, the spirit and the season so much. We are winding down our year with a lot of Ups, and are so thankful.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Pumpkin Gingerbread


I want to share with you today the recipe that changed my life. The first time I made this I shocked myself because I had never baked anything quite so delicious in my whole life. I loved it so much, I had to share it. So I started baking batches and taking them to neighbors, family members, and friends. It was a hit. I shared it on Facebook, and a sort of fan club was created. It is now a staple holiday item that I bake, at least 4-5 times during cooler weather. I had to stop baking it the rest of the year so that it would remain special.

via
Pumpkin Gingerbread

INGREDIENTS
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

BAKING DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.
  3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, or about 1 hour. Let cool.
  5. My tip: serve toasted with salted butter.
This recipe is remarkably simple, spicy, and deliciously good. 
Do not hesitate - run to the kitchen and bake it today!

Good food is meant to be shared.