Saturday, December 31, 2011
It's the last day of the year and I've been thinking about the best experiences and the most memorable moments of 2011.
It's been a crazy year and it's hard to whittle the list down to the ten best moments. It was a year of sacrifices as I focused on being a small business owner, and the growth and successes of Funnelcloud Studio were certainly highlights of 2011. We got to tour the West Wing, took our annual beach trip to the Outer Banks over Memorial Day, and had a fun summer which included romping in a field of sunflowers, going to Screen on the Green, and jumping on the bed. We cooked up a storm, battened down the hatches for Hurricane Irene, and experienced an earthquake. A full year for sure.
But when it comes down to it, the following are the best of the best of 2011. The top ten best experiences, in no particular order:
SURPRISING LARRY WITH 40 BIRTHDAY CARDS. (Larry picked this as his #1 moment of the year "because it was actually 40 moments!")
A WEEKEND TRIP TO ST. MICHAELS, MARYLAND - full of crabs, beer, sitting by the water, and adding John Deere to our family.
DINNER AT VOLT. Delicious.
OUR WEEKEND AT LUMINHAUS to celebrate Larry's 40th birthday. (So many great experiences from that weekend, my favorite being our hike at Mount Pleasant.)
A VIRGINIA WINERY TOUR BY LIMO to celebrate my 33rd birthday.
GAINING A PEN PAL AND FRIEND THROUGH E-BUDDIES. I love this program (an e-mail pen pal program that pairs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with peer volunteers) and am convinced I have the best buddy in the world. We exchange e-mails every week and getting a message from my buddy always makes my day.
A WEEKEND in NEW RIVER GORGE, WEST VIRGINIA with friends and dogs.
GETTING AN iPAD. (Had to include one materialistic item on the list! I love this little gadget, and it helps me read a lot more books and is a great tool for my business.)
REUNITING WITH A GROUP OF MY DEAREST OLD HIGH SCHOOL FRIENDS - all of us in one place for the first time in 16 years!
MAKING SOME GREAT CONNECTIONS through blogging and meeting a great group of new friends.
Looking forward to all that 2012 will bring! Happy last day of the year!
The last cooking collage! I'm so glad to retire this series, because it was a real pain in the butt to assemble these collages every month. And I'm sure that Larry will be glad to be able to eat his food without it being photographed first! That being said, it is interesting (to me) to have documented what we cooked and ate throughout the year.
There wasn't a whole lot of cooking going on in December - I can't even remember what we ate during the first two weeks of the month, as I was so busy getting ready for two art markets. But once the holiday markets were over, it was time to indulge in ridiculous amounts of chocolate: Berger cookies (a Baltimore treat that a friend brought for my birthday), hot chocolate on a stick, Gardeners chocolates (my favorite - Larry's parents give me some every year!), and the last new recipe of the year: Mascarpone Brownies.
We hosted Christmas Eve dinner at our house - a non-traditional and multi-holiday meal of comfort foods: Mac & Cheese, Spicy Apricot Wings, and Latkes for Hanukkah (made by my brother's girlfriend), followed by a ridiculous amount of Christmas cookies. My favorite Christmas cookie recipe of 2011: Lofthouse-Style Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies (a copycat recipe of the grocery store "pink cookies").
The other food frequently consumed in December? Alcohol. After making a wine run to Red, White, and Bleu, touring three wineries on my birthday (and bringing home 8 bottles), being gifted a case of wine for Christmas, along with several other bottles being given to us by family and friends, we discovered we were in possession of 36 bottles of wine. I'm not complaining.
What we were eating and cooking this month: cookies, chocolate, wine, and comfort foods. (What else do you need?) The diet starts January 1st or whenever the cookies are gone!
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Christmas Day went like this: Wake up and exchange gifts with Larry and the dogs, eat Christmas cookies for breakfast (we usually make cinnamon bun pancakes for Christmas breakfast, but were in a rush), shower, and hit the road to spend the afternoon and eat Christmas dinner with my extended family in Maryland. Then we came home, snuggled with the dogs, and crashed on the couch, exhausted.
Oooh Nooo! (Mr. Bill did not last long!)
I'm always amazed when I see photos of people's giant stash of gifts under the tree. We keep things small and minimal over here.
And this year, Larry and I vowed to give only handmade gifts. We were 85% successful and it felt great to support small artists and give unique and meaningful gifts. We both gave each other entirely handmade gifts and evidently were thinking along the same lines, as I gave him a screenprinted t-shirt, a monogrammed money clip, and a concrete iPhone holder and he gave me a screenprinted t-shirt, a necklace, and a iPhone case. Ha!
This is my amazing 94 year old great aunt. She is an amazing knitter and she's been making teeny tiny caps for premature babies!
The only photo I have of the two of us from the entire day. Do you see me?
I'm also amazed when I hear about people getting iPhones and laptops for Christmas. In my family we give each other booze. Seriously, the whole holiday is a big ol' booze swap. A case of wine for you, a bottle of Port for you...
As my aunt said "It's a birthday party for Jesus, and YOU get wine!"
Monday, December 26, 2011
We had my family over for Christmas Eve/Hanukkah dinner - a non-traditional, but delicious feast of comfort foods: mac and cheese, spicy apricot wings, latkes, and an impressive assortment of Christmas cookies.
Clearly, I would be a horrible event photographer. How to people get picture-perfect photos from their holidays? Ours are a blurry mess of shredded paper, dirty dishes, and uncooperative photo subjects.
Also, Gravy looked like this the entire evening:
"Wrapping paper! My favorite! Kill it!"
There's a story behind this duck:
The week before Christmas, I was talking on the phone with my mother and she was gushing on and on about these mercury glass ducks she'd seen on the blog of "that boy from Pennsylvania." I had no idea what she was talking about, but finally realized she meant Michael of Inspired by Charm!
Michael owns an adorable inn and gift shop in St. Mary's, so I e-mailed him to see if there was a chance that he still had any of the ducks left, and if so, would he be willing to sell one and ship it to me. I thought it was a long shot, since he had blogged about the ducks way back in July. But I was in luck!
Michael was so sweet to take the time out of his busy holiday season to package up the duck and send it down to Virginia. When it arrived, I put it on my mantle for a few days before wrapping it, and have to admit, I was a bit sad to see it go. It really added a pop of color to my boring black/white/gray mantle decor. However, the duck's new owner loves it even more...
Mom was SO surprised when she opened it on Christmas Eve! "You got me the duck!" she exclaimed.
Ahh, the awesome power of the internet. Also, Michael had made a few purchases from Funnelcloud Studio earlier in the month - I just love that we both gave Christmas presents to our families from each other's shops!
And it's extra special because my grandmother used to collect duck figurines and her favorite color was green. A happy little reminder of my sweet and funny Nana who I miss so much!
Banjo approves. "Can I eat that?"
Any holiday worth celebrating deserves a lot of cheese: