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A Look Back at 2015

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Happy New Year! It’s time for another nostalgic look back at the past year. This year I wasn’t even sure I’d delve into my usual top 10 books of the year, favorite photos of the year, year in recap posts, but having just read the 2014 recap I see that it is really nice to look back on a full year and have it all written up nicely for my future self. So here we go.

In 2015 we had some wonderful family trips and outings. In the spring we few to Colorado to spend spring break with my brother and his family in Denver. Our Denver vacation was wonderful and the kids talked about it the rest of the year. Not only did they love getting to spend so much time with their cousins, but it was such a neat place to visit, too.Hike to St. Mary Glacier
Red Rocks, Colorado day 2
The giant mountains! Crazy weather (warm and then snowy.) Hiking in the mountains up to a glacier, seeing Red Rocks. It was incredible.  We were fortunate enough to have them come spend Christmas in New Jersey so we got to see them twice this year.IMG_2055

School began so late this year that our “summer vacation” was in September. We had an exciting urban vacation in Toronto, with a trip en route to Niagara Falls. Having enjoyed the falls so much two years ago we stopped for a day there on our way up. Niagara FallsThis time we walked across the bridge to the U.S. and saw the other side of the falls, which was very beautiful and exciting. the American side of the FallsWe all loved Toronto and had an exhausting few days seeing all the sights.
TORONTO 2015-09-05 15.32.33
Sewing: In the winter I made good on a resolution and learned to knit. Sort of. I managed an overly wide neck warmer for myself and enthusiastically bought a kit to make a hat. I want very badly to be good at this but it is very different than sewing and it’s unlikely I’ll ever get beyond knit/purl.
It's very wide so a sparkly purple brooch was just the thing
I began the year with the purchase of a new sewing machine, which I ended up liking very much. Here’s what I used it for:

This year I did three quilts start to finish, plus started 2 others. I began the year with a quick baby quilt for my cousin’s new baby. Heart Baby Quilt-Finished!In the spring I made a cheerful red subway tile quilt for another cousin’s daughter,The Red Quiltand then this fall I made the Halloween quilt (which, good for me, was a goal set in January.) Spooktacular finished!I also started two separate Christmas quilts.  Oh, and I finished Tabby’s quilt, so technically that counts for 2015 even though most of it was done in 2014 (and only stopped because my machine broke.)Finished! I am so excited to have finished my #weewander quilt. I know my daughter will love it forever. With@sarahjanestudios gorgeous fabric how could you go wrong? #quilting #quiltOh! and I finished the Scrappy Prism Quilt. That seems so long ago, but indeed it was the cold winter months of early 2014 when I buckled down and did all the hand quilting on it. I loved how it came out and even entered it into a 4H fair. Scrappy Prism QuiltHmm..I thought I didn’t do too much this year, but that’s actually quite a lot! 3 quilts start to finish, 2 quilts finished, and 2 more begun.

I bought lots of beautiful new fabrics for clothes, but really only made a couple of tops for me, a nightgown and dress for Tabby, A new dress for Tabbyand one (very nice) skirt. I hope that this year I use that same skirt pattern to make several more skirts. (in this picture I made both the skirt and top)Linen skirt

I also made a few pillowcases. I didn’t do any special handiwork projects in felt or embroidery, which was a little disappointing. I’m hoping to be a little more organized in following through on those this year. Here’s an album of everything I sewed this year.

Cooking: I took a gander through the “Food 2015” album in Flickr and it seems I did bake a lot of nice things this year. The standout had to be the butterscotch roll up cake. Butterscotch Cream Roll-Up CakeI was so inspired by seeing all those nice things that I have made a gingerbread for tonight. It smells heavenly. We tried our hand at a traditional Christmas fruitcake with decent results. I didn’t do as much canning or preserving this year, probably in part due to the poor garden. You’ll note there was no Garden 2015 wrap up this year.

Trips and Outings: We had a lot of outings to Bethlehem, PA this year, which I went over a couple days ago here. We had an overnight trip to Hersheypark, which I hadn’t been to since I was a kid. It was so much fun, and loved making our own chocolate bars and riding roller coasters. We also went to New Jersey State Museum (a whopping 3x-first time in the winter, then Clark and I on a class trip, then a family outing to a science day there), Princeton Art Museum, Liberty Science Center, Monster Truck Jam, hiking at Ringing Rocks, Hacklebarney State Park, and the Sourlands, a Princeton football game, the aquarium, and a girls trip to the American Girl Place in NYC for Tabby’s birthday.

This year Paul and I also went to a lot of concerts together. We were able to see two of the “3 bands I really must see in my life”-the Decemberists and Neil Young. Yes, I saw Neil Young last year, and I was thrilled to get to see him again. Last year was solo and acoustic, this year was with a band and he played Down by the River for like 15 minutes and it was incredible. All told, together we saw The Decemberists, Guster (twice!, once with Kishi Bashi, another artist we really like), Neil Young and Promise of the Real, Belle and Sebastian, the Rheostatics (at the Art Gallery of Toronto, in a rare and small performance), My Morning Jacket, St. Vincent, Weird Al (with the kids and we sat in the 3rd row and he looked at me!), and Rush (Paul is a huge fan and this 40th anniversary deal was very exciting for him and I liked it too.) It was so much fun to see all these bands we love, ranging from stadium shows to intimate venues, swanky like Radio City Music Hall and the Academy of Music, to sticky floors and standing right below the stage. We won’t be seeing so many things in 2016, but do have tickets to the Indigo Girls and are crossing our fingers for Pearl Jam (which would complete the 3 bands I need to see list.)

In Scouts, Tabby bridged to Brownies and I continue to be a leader for her troop, which I really enjoy.IMG_3336 Clark’s Cub Scouts had their usual year filled with Pinewood Derbies, Raingutter Regattas, field trips, and hikes. This fall he began checking out the Boy Scout Troop options.  In just a couple of months he will be leaving Cub Scouts and joining Boy Scouts, and Paul will no longer be Cubmaster. Big changes for them as this Cub Scout pack has been a big part of our family activities for a few years now. Paul gets pie'dAs for our family news, the biggest event happened on July 2. We got a dog! It took quite a while to find a dog and then one day it all fell into place, right place, right time, there was a puppy at the shelter that no one else had gotten to yet. 4 months old, black lab mix, just right for us. Meet: Willow
We were SO EXCITED! We named her Willow.A new family portraitToday we have had her for 6 months. In that time she has grown quite large (I can’t even believe how little she was when we got her.) Here she is on the bench the day we got her: Meet: Willow. and a couple weeks ago: Christmas Card Photo Shoots We’ve done levels 1 and 2 obedience training, and I’ve gotten into shape because of the seemingly endless walking our high energy pup needs. Although she is at times naughty (browsing counters for things to eat and very tall when standing on hind legs), she is for the most part a delight. (and I say that even as I’m annoyed at how early she got up today and insisted I get up, too.) 2015-12-29 19.38.37 Clark entered 5th grade and took up trombone, Tabby entered 2nd grade and took up field hockey. Both kids also enjoyed playing soccer all fall, with Paul coaching again. And Clark fractured his ankle and had to wear a boot on it for 6 long weeks. At the end of the season Tabby got her ears pierced. Both kids participated in a town soapbox derby, which was a lot of fun.

The Animals: Little Fluff, Nibbles and Blackie’s offspring, died this year., bringing us back to 2 guinea pigs. They definitely did not produce hearty children (they were inbred) as they have all now died after just a couple of years.  Blackie and Nibbles, meanwhile, are still with us. Gordon has had to adjust to not being allowed free reign in the coop as he had a couple of scary escapes, including a night spend outside in the wild. He enjoys running up to the fence to see Willow. Gordon & Willow/The chickens had more babies this spring, adding 3 to our flock. Of course there was drama with assisted hatching and chicks dying. Our “President Rooster” we have had for five years now, and we think he is around 6 years old. In the garden we were thrilled to once again witness monarch butterfly metamorphosis. This time we took a couple of the caterpillars and put them in a habitat. We had a great view of the whole process and were so lucky to actually see the butterfly emerge from the cocoon. A monarch emerges We finished the year by celebrating New Year’s Eve by going to see Star Wars: the Force Awakens. I loved it-it not only lived up to, but also exceeded my expectations. (everyone else liked it, too.) Boy did it tap into people my age’s fondness for the original. I found it actually kind of an emotional experience! Then we finished out the year like many other nights before it-watching tv (Great British Baking Show) in our pjs, kids long asleep.

All in all, a good year. As I realize every year, sometimes when you’re in the thick of living you don’t realize how good you have it, or you only focus on the very bad days and times. But when you step back and take a look at the big picture, well, you realize how lovely life can be.  I am grateful for the many happy times I had with my family this year, as well as for the times I had to explore and enjoy things on my own. Wishing you a 2016 filled with the same!   Sarah

Come on Willow, let's take a picture!/


About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

One response »

  1. In the process of doing my own year-end wrap-up, I felt the same thing you expressed so well – life is lovely! I was able to accomplish an astonishing amount of creative and fun things this year! I feel so lucky!


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