Year in Review

2013: It Was a Very Good Year


Hit it, Frankie!


2013 was, indeed, a very good year!  Ten of my favorite memories . . . 

1.  Brian turns 21 and we all go on a pub crawl.


2.  We get rid of the bird find a new home for Puck.  (Remember him?)


3.  I visit San Francisco with my sister.


4.  Brian shows us around his lab and explains stuff.


5.  We spend wonderful weekends Up North.


6.  My sister comes for a visit and we drink a lot of wine.  (And that's all I'm going to say about that.)


7.  I start running . . . and get a medal in a 5K.


8.  Erin gets a job!


9.  We adopt Jo-Jo . . . and Jenny becomes The Bionic Dog.


10.  Everyone comes home for Christmas.


A VERY good year -- full of great memories!

How about YOU?  What are your favorite memories from 2013?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.


As I look back over The Year That Just Was (2013), I think it might be best to start with my one little word for the year . . . 


I very much like the concept of One Little Word -- having one word serve as a focus point through the year -- although I'm not so big on the "project" part of the whole thing.* 

In 2013, I had a great experience with SURPRISE.


What was most . . . surprising . . . to me was the realization that a SURPRISE can't be planned!  You simply can't intend to be surprised.  You can't decide to surprise yourself.  You can't expect a surprise.**

Because then . . . it wouldn't be a SURPRISE!


I know this sounds kind of stupid and lame.  But this reality - that you can't expect a surprise - was eye-opening to me.  I came to understand that a SURPRISE can only be recognized as a SURPRISE . . . after the fact!  

I realized that SURPRISES are . . . 



Spur of the moment.


When it comes to a SURPRISE . . . it's simply something you didn't seem coming!  You can't wake up and say, "I'm going to surprise myself today."  It just doesn't work that way.


You can tell yourself that you'll be . . . 

OPEN to surprise in your life.

ALERT to surprises that happen all around you.

AWARE at how many things surprise us every day.

I learned that SURPRISE . . . is simply a matter of opening up your eyes and welcoming the unexpected in life!


Life is full of surprises. 

Embrace them!


My biggest SURPRISES of 2013:

The power of sound.


Taking on a new job (with a lickety-split Switch-o-Change-o surprise element that nearly swept me over Another Edge) (And still might.).


Jo-Jo.  (Talk about spur-of-the-moment.)


Running.  (Still not quite sure where that one came from.  Complete sneak attack.)


And . . . a hot air balloon landing in the front yard!



* I am simply NOT a scrapbook kind of person, and I just never will be.  I accept that about myself.  When it comes to One Little Word, I don't really follow along with the "projects."  I just check in each month as a reminder to consider new elements of my word.  I don't create a whole "book."  (Although I usually start out thinking I might.  I never really do, though.)

** This did make following along with the formal One Little Word prompts particularly troublesome, because most of the prompts have to do with intentions and plans for your word -- exercises to make the word "present" in your life.  Can't happen when your word is surprise!

Year End Review: The Milestones

The end of January is fast approaching!  Time to wrap up my review of 2011.  Today. . . the top five "milestone" events of 2011:

1.  Erin's graduation from Denison!


2.  Tom and I . . . celebrating our 30th anniversary!


3.  Paris!


4.  Amsterdam!


5.  Far too many broken bones. . .


An exciting year, certainly!  (Although I would've been content with a less of the broken bone variety of excitement.)

Year End Review: The Garden

Today, the weather in my corner of the world is cold and icy and snowy.  A perfect day to look back at my garden in 2011!


2011 was a good year in the garden -- despite a cold spring and a steamy, hot summer.


I was generally pleased with the progress of most of my newer "areas."  Like the pergola (in its third season in my backyard), above.  Or my hillside shade garden (in its second season in my backyard, below.


I played with color and texture quite a bit in my 2011 garden, and overall, I was pleased with the results.


There were lots of things to love about my garden last season.  But if I had to choose. . . what were my five favorite garden stories in 2011?  Well. . .

1.  My new pond.





The waterfall and new plantings were such a delight all season long!  I can't wait to see what this area does in its second season.  (And I hope my fish -- the three amigos Boo, Simon, and Garfunkel -- weather the winter without . . . incident.)

2.  My rain barrel.


My birthday gift last spring, the rain barrel worked like a charm and was a great source of water for my patio plants all season long.  (Can't wait to hook it up again!)

3.  My bees and butterflies.



I loved watching the bees and butterflies all summer long, and I was especially happy that my Mason Bee House . . . worked!  It was just buzzin' and so much fun to watch.

4.  Certifying my yard as a Wildlife Habit. . . and as a Monarch Waystation.



This was really an easy thing to do!  I take quite a bit a teasing from . . . ahem, ALL members of my family ("Mom.  We got another call from the monarchs. . . wondering if you have any rooms available for September 8. . . "), but I'm pleased to couple my love of gardening with my concern for the environment -- and the creatures who live among us.  (So there.)

5.  My "thing" for succulents!



I've been fascinated with succulents for a couple of years now, but they really became a "thing" for me in 2011.  I added them everywhere -- then created a small succulent bed (near my hot driveway) and experimented with several succulent container gardens.  (Most of the containers are overwintering inside -- and seeing these photos from the summer makes me realize how much they've grown!)

I'm itching to dig and plant again.  For now, though, I'll just have to look at my photos . . .and dream about spring!

Year End Review: The Not Knitting

Last week, I posted about my knitting in 2011.  I mentioned that I wasn't as prolific as I have been in past years.  Maybe.  Just maybe. . . that's because I spent a good deal of my time Not Knitting. 

I got my sewing machine out again.  I did a major crochet project.  I started journaling.  I even started . . . some other (Not Blogged) art projects.

I liked Not Knitting.  Not enough to give up knitting (never), but I enjoyed the diversion.  My five favorite Not Knitting projects during 2011:

1.  My Project Spectrum "True Colors" crocheted blanket. . .


2.  The lunch bag I sewed for Erin. . .


3.  The apron I sewed (also for Erin) -- it's reversible!



4.  The owl potholders I made (again. . . for Erin). . .


5.  Roll-up shopping bags I made as a Christmas gift (for Erin!). . .


I never did blog about these bags.  Because life got a little hectic there around the holidays, and I finished these up while my mom was in the hospital.  They're pretty cool, though.


Simple, quick, neat.  I followed this tutorial.  As a bonus, the bags roll up so you can keep them handy with you when you're out and about.


Looks like Erin was the primary beneficiary of my Not Knitting in 2011.  (She's not getting the blanket, though!!!)

Year End Review: The Books

I read a lot.  Like. . . I typically read somewhere between 45 and 65 books a year.  Mostly, I read contemporary fiction, but I like to mix in some literary classics and non-fiction books for good measure. 

When I look over my book list for 2011, I see that I read 48 books.  I was on track for 52 (my goal this year). . . but my reading-train derailed when my Mom had her accident in mid-December.  (I actually haven't read a page since. . .)  In review, I can see that I was heavy on contemporary fiction this year; a little lighter on the classics; and there were plenty of non-fiction books in the mix.

I'm pretty picky when it comes to reading, and I have my own "star-rating" system for rating the books I read.  Most of this year's reading fell into my 4-star category (which is typical), but 8 of them were 5-star books (not counting Get the F--- to Sleep, which was brilliant, and definitely worthy of 5-stars, but sort of out of my usual "realm" of categorization).

Here are the five absolute-best books I read in 2011:


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I loved this book so much.  It actually may be one of my favorite books EVER.


Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch.  Fabulous!  Insightful!  AND. . . I now have enough book recommendations to last a good, long time!


Parrot & Olivier in America by Peter Carey.  Delightful.  Such wonderful contrast in perspectives.  (Plus, I sort of have a secret-love for American history.)


On Canaan's Side: A Novel by Sebastian Barry.  Lovely writing; compelling characters; heart-tugging story.


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer.  So moving; I just loved this book.  (But I won't be going to the movie.)

So many great books!


Year End Review: The Knitting

At the end of the year, I always enjoy looking back to review what I did with my time.  Today, let's check out my knitting in 2011.

Generally, it was a far less prolific year than usual when it came to production.  I think I spent as much time knitting as usual, but just didn't seem to end up with much to show for it.  Seems I was more focused on small things. . . baby sweaters, hats, vampires.  And, of course, the slippers.  All the slippers!

If I choose my five favorite knitting projects for the year, I think I'd have to choose these:

My Summer Solstice cardigan. . .


My Bettie Boop Noni bag. . .


The little Gift Wrap Sweater . . .


My Cladonia shawl. . .


And, well, the Duffers!  (All of them, actually. . . but I like the color combination on this pair for Erin best of all.)


(Ravelry links here, here, here, here, and here.)