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2012 {a year in review}

i love looking back at the year coming to an end.  i love reflecting on the moments that have shaped who we are today.  in a broad sweep, i am thankful this year is over.  on one hand, boy, i have so much to be thankful for.  my husband and i are strong and healthy.  we have a beautiful home that continues to become just how we had wished it would be with each renovation.  our four-legged babies are well and make us laugh every. single. day.  we have had amazing travel adventures.  professionally, we are both doing exceedingly well.  we have wonderful friends and family.  but as this year comes to a close, i am more reminded of what we don’t have.  where we are versus where i had wanted to be.  i wanted to be out of the 200′s, i am not.  i wanted to be well on my way to having a baby, we are not.  this is another year that brought another miscarriage.  more month after month of counting days, taking temperatures, and peeing on countless sticks.  we are where we are.  we can’t change the reality of what we had hoped to be true, is not yet.  so while it is nice to look back, my sights are clear and focused on welcoming 2013.  only looking forward.

here are previous years in review: 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.

{january}

we were able to have our first taste of our own honey.  unfortunately, it was due to a failed hive that didn’t survive the winter.  this little taste has us very excited about the hive that is going strong.  we are hopeful that 2013 will bring a real harvest of honey in the fall.

we made the difficult decision to give away dorothy, our rooster.  he was a beautiful guy but was more frisky than our five hens could handle.  we found a wonderful farm that wanted a young rooster to replace their older one.  he had 30 hens in a completely free range farm.  a few months later we learned he had died.  we were definitely sad but know that he probably had the best three months running after all those ladies than we could have ever provided him here.  even though it is a sad ending, we know it was the best decision we could have made for our little flock.

{february}

the husband whisked me away to wilmington for the day for my 31st birthday.  i love day trips to the coast.  we aren’t huge beach people, so really, a day is all i need.  there is something about an afternoon wrapped in a quilt with toes in the sand.  it is good for my soul.  at the beginning of this month we suffered our third miscarriage.  this one was the earliest loss, at just 5 weeks.  each one has been so different but our heart breaks all the same.  a day trip to fly a kite was just what we needed.

we decided to take the plunge and buy dog grooming tools.  we couldn’t see spending $500 plus on grooming.  the pups loved the extra attention and we loved our wallets feeling a bit fuller.

i received quite the valentine’s day gift this year.  mlb premium package!  2012 was a dismal year for my red sox.  here is hoping cupid is as kind again this year and my boys in red decide to play real baseball this year.

because we were down a rooster, i foolishly decided to add three hens to our existing flock.  i will never make this mistake again!  don’t get me wrong, i love our new three.  dolly parton, stevie nicks, and tina turner are beautiful and great layers but it was weeks of rotating injured birds in and out of the house.  all the fighting played a toll on birds and humans alike.

we even built a separate pin inside of the existing run it got so bad.  thankfully, the ladies have settled down and figured it all out.  lesson learned.

{march}

i took my first pottery class and walked away with six bowls that i absolutely love.  i fell in love with pottery and hope to spend a good bit of 2013 at the wheel.

we began collecting enough eggs to start selling.

my first official business expense.  my very own macbook.  i can not express how much i love it.  of course, i did get a hot pink case to protect the goods.

the book club at the hunger games movie.  i saw it twice.  i loved the book series and the movie did not disappoint.  i am looking forward to 2013 book club picks.

we decided to do more adventuring in 2012.  we started in our own neighborhood.  we took a segway tour of the capital and loved it.  the back story if you don’t remember, in chicago the previous year we had wanted to do a segway tour of the city.  i was too heavy.  literally.  after significant weight loss, i was beyond thrilled to mark this adventure off my list.

in march i hit the 100 pounds lost goal.  i still can’t wrap my head around how much i have lost.  lately, most days i can only think about how much further i have to do but it is really nice to take a look back to see how far i have come.  i have accomplished a lot and should be more proud of myself than i am.  as my celebration, i bought myself a vitamix.  i know.  they are SO expensive.  but let me just say this, i use this baby every day.  seriously.  more than the microwave or the dishwasher.  it was hard spending the money initially, but looking back i wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.  best decision ever.

there was lots of garden work done.  weed pulling.  new mulch.

we also spent a weekend in kitty hawk.  hang gliding.

{april}

as part of our adventuring 2012 we signed up for the rugged maniac 5k!  it was an absolute blast.  the husband, our pet sitter and good friend bonnie, and good friend naomi all hit the course running.  running this race, i felt the best i have in years.  unfortunately, i have spent the rest of the year recovering from two herniated disks as a result of this race.

this very moment is when it all went numb.  i misaligned my hips and jacked up my back.  i haven’t been the same since.  i have learned in the last month that recovering from an injury is just as much mental as it is physical.  i have never in my life felt the sheer pain as i did with the herniated disks.  the fear of feeling that pain again has prevented me from pushing myself.  the moment i feel the slightest twinge in my back, i stop.  i am stronger than that.  i am slowly realizing that fear has been standing in my way and i am far more healed that i believed.

even with the injury, i am so glad we did this race.  the husband and i had a blast completing it together.


in april my beekeeper husband decided to add three hives to his families property in virginia.  this meant traveling a couple hours with boxes of live bees in our car.  sure.  adventuring in 2012, right?!

after much optimism, effort, and money we were devastated to learn that a bear was equally excited about the new hives.  needless to say, no bees survived and it was a complete loss.

i hosted my first sewing class!  based on the interest, i hope to add a couple more in 2013.

{may}

i honestly have no idea how we did all that we did in may.  we lived the hell out of may 2012.

first, a durham bulls game to see the red sox farm team.  i will support my red sox at all levels.

we hosted a memorial day bbq for several dear friends.  i mean.  watermelon + this cutie = sigh.  complete adorableness.

we then packed our bags for a final weight loss reward trip, jamaica!  this trip.  whenever i am anything but happy, i close my eyes and picture myself here.  with these people.  i fell in love.

we stayed in our own private home with a private beach and pool.  it was complete bliss.  each meal prepared by shaki (pictured below).  he knew all about my food allergy and took special care which included gluten free key lime pie and pancakes in the morning.  i have never in my life felt so pampered.  thanks to social media, shaki and i are still in touch.  he keeps me up to date with all the happenings there and i love the friendship we share.

when we arrived back to the states, the husbands little brother, matthew, graduated from pharmacy school.  we couldn’t be more happy and proud!

i loved looking back at events and comparing the life changes that the husband and i have made.  here is a picture of matthew’s undergraduate graduation and below from pharmacy school.  i will note that the fresh jamaican tan helps :)

a little after their graduation, matthew tied the knot!  here is the husband and myself at the rehearsal dinner.

{june}

the pups and i spent some quality time.  after a month of being on the go, we missed each other.

i made my first batch of watermelon jam from our home grown watermelon.

we celebrated father’s day in greensboro.

june brought record heat that our sweet rose “chunk” couldn’t handle.  despite all of our interventions, we lost our first hen.

we hit the airport again for a quick trip to chicago.  i love, love, love chicago and i love my dear friends that live there even more!  we decided to stay downtown and hit up all the touristy stops …

“the bean”

ferris wheel at the navy pier.  i am seriously not a fan of ferris wheels.

thanks to a groupon, we went sailing on the lake.

we were able to reconnect with our good friends to celebrate christina’s wedding!  i am so incredibly happy for her and mike.  i love these girls!!

another comparison shot from caitlin’s wedding a couple years ago to christina’s.  yay! for life changes :)

{july}

back home, my etsy shop business started picking up.

i completed another pottery class.  this time, berry bowls and a mug.

{august}

sweet milo bojangles is still having a hard time adjusting to being strictly an indoor cat.  his new cat tree helps occupy his attention.

our garden produced tons and tons of peppers.  plenty enough to jar up and preserve.

we were able to take the short trip to virginia to see my favorite band, mumford and sons.  the concert was incredible.  in february of 2013, we are heading to dc to see them again.  i would totally be a groupie if i didn’t have other responsibilities.

we traveled with my great friend, laura and her husband.  he is a master of picking out restaurants.

we dove into several firsts.  homemade yogurt.

freezer meals.

and homemade laundry soap.  this batch of soap is still going strong.  we use it for every load and i am guessing i have a couple months left.  talk about cost savings.

another first for me, camping!  surprise, i loved it!  i can’t wait to go again in 2013.

{september}

i learned that i am going to be an aunt!  my little brother and his wife, jackie, are expecting their first in late february.  along with my dad and stepmom, i threw them a gender reveal party.  i had a lot of fun planning such a fun party!

the cupcakes revealed, PINK!  i can’t wait to spoil little addison grace in 2013!!

{october}

we completed our master bedroom renovation.  here is the before …

and after.

while at it, we tackled the closet as well.  new paint and shelving system.  ahh, sweet organization.

i learned how easy it is to make homemade stock.

the husband found a ridiculous price for hardwoods and had more tons than i can remember delivered.  since then, he is often found outside chopping away.

we celebrated my dad’s birthday in durham!  he was on a duke high because they had just become bowl eligible.

the husband and i made our way to the state fair.  year after year, we can’t stay away.

another photo collage from the state fair.  looking at these makes me proud but is also motivation to keep going!

we took the opportunity on pregnancy and infant loss day to remember our three heartaches.

we also celebrated the husband and an award he won at work.  i am beyond proud of him and his work.  it was wonderful to see his company recognize his groups achievement.  as part of the award, we were treated to a trip to new york city!

we had time to take in some sights and even enjoy a quintessential new york city deli, with gluten free bread!

after catching matthew broderick on broadway, we were able to meet and snap a couple photos with him.

{november}

for our second year in a row, we completed a thanksgiving day race.  this one in greensboro with my dad and stepmom.

we hosted a thanksgiving feast at our house this year.  my wonderful cousins from georgia came up for a few days and we invited lots of neighbors, friends, and family!  it was an absolute blast!

maybe the biggest news of the year was my etsy shop being published!  it was featured in the holiday gift guide in us weekly.  there it is, first page front and center.  i still have to pinch myself.

needless to say, the orders immediately started rolling in. 263 orders later, all that had requested christmas delivery were fulfilled.  it was a very busy month.

i upgraded sewing machines.

sam tried to keep me company but sometime he just had to rest on a pair of slippers.  such a hard life.

the husband had to travel a bit for work so my best friend came over for an old school slumber party.  board games and all.

{december}

a birthday scavenger hunt for the husband.

new living room furniture.

a christmas trip to asheville.  we stayed downtown in a new hotel and was within walking distance of my favorite spots.  salsa’s.  incredible.  tupelo honey.  amazing.  and my new favorite, posano.  a 100% gluten free restaurant.  seriously.  every. single. thing is gluten free.  i mean, why don’t i live here?!

and the french broad chocolate lounge.  yes, we spent two nights here for dessert.  i fell in love with the liquid truffle with cinnamon and cayenne ganache.  the husband, quintessential chocolate cake.  pure. food. bliss.

wife secret: i love christmas vacation for one reason.  the husband grows a beard.  sigh.

now we are back home and enjoying our last few days of vacation.  our three loves staying warm by the fire.  we are obsessed with breaking bad and staying up way too late watching episode after episode.

my hopes for 2013 are simple.  i want to fill my year with memories of laughter and new experiences.  i want to continue living more healthy than i did the day before.  i hope you all have enjoyed the ride of 2012 and will join me in welcoming 2013 with open arms.

happy new year!


{wordless wednesday}

“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.” President Barack Obama


canning peppers, both jalapeno and banana.

my kitchen has been in full preserve mode this week.  taking the last bit of goodness our summer garden is producing and making sure it lasts.  we had our first watermelons this year and yesterday i took our best one and made more of my watermelon jam.  here is the recipe.  i made it exactly the same, only this time around i didn’t pulverize the watermelon until it was completely liquid.  instead i left some “pulp” to make it less jelly and more jam like.  i like a little chunk :)

our garden is crazy for peppers this year! tons of jalapenos and several pounds of banana peppers.  more than we could possibly eat fresh.

i love sweet pickled banana peppers, so this is what i did. i tripled this recipe.

1/2 lb banana pepper, seeded and sliced crossways into rings

for your pickling juice add:
2 cups white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seed

directions:

  • sterilize 2- 1/2 pint jars.
  • bring the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and celery seed to a rolling boil.
  • place peppers in the 1/2 pint jars.
  • pour on the hot pickling juice and bring liquid to within 1/2″ of the top.
  • be sure the edge of the jar has no juice on it.
  • place lids and screw on bands finger-tip tight.
  • place in canner/water bath and process for 10 mins.

in about two weeks, these beauties should be quite delicious.  i can’t wait.

we were also overflowing with jalapenos! i love spice, as does the husband.  i looked and looked for jalapeno recipes and they all added flavorings.  i wanted just simple jalapenos without the additional pickling spices.  i envision lots of chili meals and when i go to add a jalapeno, i want it to taste like a jalapeno.

measurements are for 1 pound of peppers and yield approximately 2 1/2 pints. i doubled this recipe.

1 pound of jalapeno peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups filtered water
2 tablespoons pickling salt

directions:

  • pack clean, hot jars with peppers.
  • pour hot brine over top.
  • wipe rims, apply lids and bands.
  • process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. store in cool, dark place for up to a year.

please note, when cutting pepper such as these, always wear gloves.  this is something you will overlook only once.


summer 2012 square foot garden

click here to remember our spring 2012 garden.  i love how with each year, each season our little square foot garden grows and grows.  we learn so much each year, what works and maybe more importantly what doesn’t.  for example, squash. we can’t grow it.  it hasn’t worked. ever. in three years.  tomatoes on the other hand, we can grow more than we could possibly consume or can.

this year we were surprised.  completely surprise to see a watermelon growing.  i mean, yes, we did plan a watermelon seed. but we have never had success.  this year, wow. two are growing strong with a couple more on their way.

we also have some peppers to spice up our meals. jalapenos still on the vine and some ready to eat banana peppers.

just looking around. there are lots of varieties of flowers to help keep the insects away. along with plenty of rosemary, mint, and basil.  oh how we love basil.

earlier this year i made my first ever homemade basil pesto. i have used several jars already. it was quick and easy and i don’t see myself buying store bought again.  if you are interested in the recipe check out my earlier post here.

another way we are eating our garden product is in lots of omelets and quiches.  here is my recipe for a swiss chard frittata that was simple and delicious.

milo bojangles is officially an inside cat now, after most of his life being free to roam.  overall i think he has transitioned well.  but occasionally, he just sits and cries at the door.  it is so pitiful.  during our little garden photo shoot we brought him outside.  you would think he would run, but he is just chill. he walked around the garden.  ate grass and rolled in the dirt.

after enjoying the sun we all headed back inside.  a lovely saturday morning spent in the garden. simply blissful.

 


baked kale chips and a thank you.

i am totally late on the baked kale chip bandwagon but i am officially a consistent rider. a while back i had quite the food aversion to kale.  during our first two pregnancies was the only time i bought and ate kale.  when those pregnancies failed, anytime i thought about or saw kale i associate it with the pain and loss.  so i avoided it like the plague.  seems like a natural and completely appropriate response if you ask me.

well, then i decided to eat healthy for me.  not for future baby making.  not for anyone or anything else but me.  and kale is super good for you.  like amazingly good for you.  it is kinda ridiculous.  if i were another growing leafy vegetable in the garden playground, i would be super jealous of kale.  well, that and swiss chard.  swiss chard is beautiful and i would want to be pretty and pink.  but kale is so bad ass.  tough decisions on which leafy green is at the top in my garden playground.  if you could be a vegetable what would you want to be?

what was i blogging about?  oh right. baked kale chips.  turns out they are super easy to make.  my pattern lately has been to throw a pan in the oven while i am starting to work on dinner.  that way the husband and i have something to snack on that is healthy while we are waiting for dinner to cook.  double bonus: we fill up on our “snack” and easily eat smaller portions for dinner.



there are a kabillion ways to make them.  different spices to add.  so do a little google and experiment with what works best for your taste buds.  the basic recipe that i make almost daily is this.

1 bunch of kale (i keep grabbing leaves until my baking pan is full)
1 tsp of olive oil spray
a dash of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
it is good as is with that.  but i like to add 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese if i have it on hand.


1- preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2- with a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. (hmmm, i seriously love mine!) drizzle kale with olive oil or spray. i use an olive oil spray to save calories. sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3- bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.
4- remove and sprinkle cheese. completely optional.


eat immediately.  when they are warm and crisp they are perfect.  when they are cold, not so much.

now that our bellies are full from good eats i wanted to say a sincere thank you for your kind comments and emails and facebook messages.  it is easy to focus on the negative but yesterday you all made me feel the love and i so appreciated it.  one of my favorite messages a dear friend sent to me was this.

click for source.


i needed to hear that.  i needed to feel the love.  and i did.  today is a new day.  i am choosing to be optimistic about the future and make today the best it can be.  propelled by your love i am sure to give my haters something to truly hate.


me, happy.

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