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A Look Back at 2016

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It’s time for my favorite post of the year! A look back at the past year. I really enjoyed reading the 2015 look back just now (that stuff was so long ago!)
2015 began with a bang for us-I got a job and returned to work. I can’t believe we’re coming up on a year anniversary of my first day! Obviously it’s been an adjustment in many ways for all of us (including the dog), but overall I’m so happy to be back in the field and very happy where I am. Not surprisingly, many of my hobbies took a hit from this, especially photography and sewing. I thought I’d make it up in the summer, but I didn’t.

In the spring Clark graduated from Cub Scouts and achieved the Arrow of Light. This was a big deal ceremony and we were very proud of him and happy for him. After so many years with the Cub Scout families and events it was a change for all of us to say goodbye to all of it.img_5945 Clark joined a new Boy Scout troop and has liked it very much. It began with going away to camp when summer began and continued in the fall with a few camping trips, some of which Paul went on. The best was a trip to Harpers Ferry W VA. A cool thing their troop does is have their own patch for the Appalachian Trail. You get a pin for each state you hike 6 miles of the trail in and spend a night in. In December both Paul and Clark received the patch with their first three pins on it. So far he has achieved Tenderfoot rank, which I wrote about here because of the embroidery aspect of it.
Meanwhile, Tabby and I continue along in Brownies. I’m happy that I was able to continue on being her leader, as I really enjoy our group of girls. Our troop attended our first “Camporee” and had a great time. It was not so much camping as all of us (including parents) attending an outdoor resort. We stayed in cabins and got to canoe and zipline and swim and it was all a lot of fun (even if Tabby & I were huge babies on the ropes course and got terrified.)2016-06-04-10-59-09
While Clark was at camp this summer Tabby and I took a trip to visit my dear childhood friend, Joanna, and her daughters. We enjoyed our road trip very much and spending time with our friends. We capped it off with an extra special surprise visit to the National Zoo. Tabby adores pandas and to see them in person was very exciting for her (and me!) It was super fun and special.

 

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After that it was pretty much just summer as usual, until we took our family vacation to Boston. Although I barely posted anything this year, I did write a pretty big post about that trip here.  It was a super vacation including whale watching, art, history, and the big event-Pearl Jam at Fenway Park. mosaicboston
Speaking of concerts, it was a big year of concert going for me and Paul. I wrote about all the summer/ fall concerts here. All told, I went to see the Indigo Girls, Guster, Sigur Ros, Pearl Jam (twice!), Weird Al, Kishi Bashi, Band of Horses, The Monkees, Squeeze, The Legend of Zelda (symphony), Pokemon Symphonic, Ben Folds, Ben Folds with yMusic, XPN Fest (Darlingside, David Wax Museum, The Districts), Barenaked Ladies (with Howard Jones and OMD),  Flight of the Conchords, Crash Test Dummies, and Richard Thompson. It was a good variety of music and venues and a great part of the year.2016-09-24-22-37-56

We had one other trip this year, and that was a short getaway to Watkins Glen, NY. We’re not race car fans-the allure for us is the amazing gorge there. We’d been there once before, just to hike the gorge (in the rain!), but this time we stayed in a cabin for a couple nights. It was a lovely relaxing trip that included not just hiking the gorge, but also a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, which was awesome.mosaicwatkins

Our menagerie remains large, but this year we sadly said farewell to Nibbles. He had been losing his sturdy plumpness and got rather thin and then one day it happened. We all loved Nibbles and were sad to say goodbye to him. Nibbles

We also said farewell to my mom’s dog, Sophie. At 16 1/2 years old she had a wonderful long life, but her departure left a hole. Perhaps she’s playing somewhere with her dear old friend, Pippin. In the coop there many additions as well as deaths. Our big President Rooster died, I chased a fox across our front yard who had a chicken in his mouth-she escaped but he came back for her and her dumb friends on the following two days. There were 13 chicks hatched over the summer and it was just baby baby baby peep peep peep everywhere.2016-08-09-13-17-32
Peeping out from Mother Hen
Some babies were nurtured more than others and of the un-nurtured group, who never were taught to go in the house at night, 6 of the 7 eventually got killed. Idiots. Our rooster Baddie was dethroned as the king of the coop by a up and comer young new rooster. Gordon continues to live in harmony with his chicken friends.
Willow continued to grow and mature and although she still eats food off the counters she is a marvelous dog. Although I think we both miss the big daily walks, she is actually very happy to instead have shorter walks in the meadow where I let her run off leash.2017-01-01-15-46-40

There were, of course, other fun days here and there-a Princeton football game, a Princeton hockey game, Tabby performing as Augusta Gloop with her 4H club at the fair, visiting the aquarium in the midst of XPNFest, holidays, birthdays, and fun for me-special days at school. One especially fun new thing this year was embarking on a long term tabletop game with our friends, Liz and Eleanor. We began Pandemic Legacy, which is a very intense game in which we are working to save the world from horrible pandemics. As you play the game you affect the board, actions, and characters (you can kill some) for the duration of the year long game. We are about halfway through and all I have to say is, good thing we’re not the real CDC.

Now, although I did say I haven’t been keeping up with photography, and there’s been a sad reliance on my phone this year and lack of Flickr participation, I did set one photography project for myself that I really enjoyed. Matching the Crayola colors from the 64 box to real life flowers in my garden.

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I didn’t even keep up with my “Favorites of 2016” folder! Here’s a link to it.

All in all, it was a pretty good year. Now, the elephant in the room. I can’t talk about a year end reflection without acknowledging that since November 9 we’ve all been down in the dumps (well, the adults in the house) and had our beliefs about mankind and the world gravely shaken. I have tremendous worries and concern about the next 4 years, but I will strive to do one small part by teaching my children to show respect and kindness to people and stand up to bullies.  Although it may not feel like it, I know there are still good people in the world and good moments. Would you believe we met another Pearl Jam fan in Boston and kept in touch? I mean, how lovely is that?  And I get to be a librarian again and immerse myself in educating and sharing books with students. And I get to see my children growing up and being smart. And even though I didn’t enjoy my hobbies as much this year, I do have them! And I met my reading challenge this year (read that big recap of my top books of the year right here.) And I have a super husband who is my concert partner and biggest fan. So, that was 2016. Let’s see what happens in 2017!

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A Look Back at 2014

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One of my favorite posts of the year! Yesterday I reread the ones from previous years and it was really nice to be able to look back at everything-a virtual scrapbook, if you will. I think it makes for good family history. In 2014..

We had a lot of snow and a cold winter. I happen to love a good cold snowy winter, but boy were we all glad when spring came.
Igloo

We took some awesome family vacations.  In the summer we did a quick getaway to Hope Lake Lodge in New York. It was just an opportunity to stay a couple nights in a hotel with a wave pool and indoor water park, but it was really fun. Even better, on the way there we went to Watkins Glen State Park and were blown away by the natural beauty of the gorge.
Watkins Glen State Park
A big rainstorm didn’t dampen our fun, and provided me with my proudest preparedness moment of the year when I pulled out ponchos.(and consequently have bragged about all year.)
How proud and prepared was i when I whipped out ponchos for our 3 mile hike in the pouring rain? Spectacular gorge and waterfalls in Watkins Glen, NY
Our big trip this summer was a fantastic old-fashioned road trip that took us to Pittsburgh and Michigan, where we stayed with and visited our dear friends the Park family.  It was a lot of hours of togetherness and many audiobooks, but we had a great time, saw some really neat things, got great souvenirs, and it was a definite highlight of the year.

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In November we took a long awaited trip to Disneyworld and Universal Studios. We loved Disney and had been there all together once before, but we were blown away by Universal Studios, specifically the world of Harry Potter. This was the year we started watching the movies together, I started rereading the series, and we all felt so transported into that magical world when we were in the park. We got a lot of special memories and experiences out of our two days there.
Hogwarts' Express
Paul and I were also super excited about the recreated Simpsons’ Springfield. It was fun, fun, FUN.
Springfield's finest
We also had lots of fun excursions to places like the American Museum of Natural History, Ringing Rocks, Grounds for Sculpture, Point Pleasant boardwalk (unbelievably, my first time), a Polish festival, Scanfest, a Cub Scout trip to a mine, Chinatown, and Syracuse to attend my friend’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. (I didn’t realize how many excursions until I started looking through pictures!!)

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One big change this year was that in the fall both kids went to school full time.  This meant that for the first time nine years I had all day to myself.  I certainly wasn’t bored and enjoyed the change, but probably like a lot of stay at home moms it’s led to an urgent feeling of needing to get a job and feeling guilty for the time I have been enjoying at home. We’ll see what this year brings.  And as for school, Tabby finished her beloved kindergarten and started first grade which she loves even more.  She has turned out to be a very proficient reader and amazes us with her skills.  Clark finished 3rd grade and left the only elementary school he’s gone to, beginning 4th grade at a different school in town (it’s K-3, 4-5, 6-8.)  He has really enjoyed the change. He continued to be a great reader in 2014, too.

We all were active in scouting this past year, too.  Tabby and I finished our first Daisy year and in the fall began the second year, with me and my friend Jen continuing to be leaders. In the spring Tabby and I joined Paul and Clark on a scout family camping trip, which again made me think we really should be camping a lot and yet we never did.
A Visit to a Mine

St. Patrick's Day Parade

It was a big year for us in geocaching.  Last January we finally made our first find and figured out how it worked. The spring and early summer saw us finding many more, exploring both local and not so local places.
Secret art park
Sadly, Clark’s enthusiasm for it
More Geocaching
quickly went away and now he complains when we want to do it.  Still, the rest of still like it;  we’ve hidden two of our own caches and found 159.  I had a few fun outings with some new geocaching friends and it’s definitely a hobby I want us to keep enjoying in 2015.

The garden and chickens were good this year. We had some cycles of life with the chickens and the big change was getting rid of some pesky roosters and also fencing them in. They have not minded the change. The highlight of the garden was watching monarch butterflies successfully metamorphose on our milkweed plants.
Monarch butterfly lifecycle

The Monarch Emerges!
All our bees died but we still got their honey, as well as maple syrup from our tapped trees.
Paul and I began 2014 by celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary with a trip for the two of us to Mohonk Mountain House, which was amazing and indulgent and snowy and beautiful.
The views from Sky Top

Happy Anniversary to us

We went to several great concerts and shows this year, but the real standout for me was getting to see Neil Young at the Academy of Music. It was a dream come true and hearing his music in person was all I’d hoped it to be.  Another musical standout was the Beck/Band of Horses concert.  I think one of my happiest moments this year was dancing with Paul to super loud Beck. It was a fantastic show and we had so much fun.

I’ll stick this in the middle here so we don’t end on a depressing note.  2014 was the year we said good-bye to our beloved Pippin.  It’s hard to look back on the year and not think about it because honestly I’ve missed him all year long.  He was a wonderful special part of our family and saying goodbye to him was almost unbearable.
Portraits with Pippin
Other random highlights? We saw in real life both Alaska and Hawaii license plates (a quest to see these began when we were on our road trip), but even more amazing we parked next to one from Panama! (and were able to talk to the owner and then, bizarrely, happened to also park next to him again the next day at a different park!) Tabby got roller skates and became a great skater. Clark got new brighter blue rec specs which he wears all the time. After Clark’s class finished their unit on animals we took home a bunch of fiddler crabs, millipedes, and frogs. The crabs have proven to be fascinating!

And while I didn’t finish the scrappy prism quilt I had hoped to in 2014, I did have a good sewing year and made 3 couple of quilts I loved, including Birdhouse in my Soul for my own bed.
Birdhouse in my Soul-complete!!

Thimble Summer-finished!

Patchwork Quilt
I also almost finished Tabby’s quilt, but sadly the year ended with my death of my sewing machine. So I’ll be starting 2014 by shopping for a new one (though I have plenty of hand sewing to keep me busy until then.) You can see everything I sewed in 2014 here. And because I love sets, categories, tags, and organization, if you feel so inclined you can see all the foods I made (well, that I photographed) in 2014 here.  There were some delicious birthday cakes, including an oreo cake for Clark and a chocolate and peanut butter cake for Paul.
Birthday CakeAll in all, it was a pretty good year. Sometimes when it’s happening you don’t realize how lucky you are, but when you look back on it all together, it’s pretty easy to see that we are fortunate and blessed. (Of course, it helps that this is the rosy side of life type of journal and not a listing of any of the days where we all fought, felt like bad parents and children, were worried or anxious, etc. Because who wants to a. read about that and b. remember that? No one!)

Good-bye 2014! Thanks for the memories 🙂
Make a wish

2014 Garden in Review

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The garden has been put to bed for a while, so this is definitely a late wrap up this year. Though looking at last year’s it actually not that much later.  The big garden change this year was that in the early spring we decided to fence in our free-ranging chickens.  The reason was so that we could work on growing grass in the gigantic dirt patches in the yard.  For the most part the grass did grow.   The effects of having the chickens not free ranging (as well as, sadly, not having Pippin sleeping in the beds) was surprising in a couple of ways.  On the one hand we were able to grow things from seed and create a whole new gourd area. On the other hand, it turned out that they managed the weeds in a few areas and without the chickens the weeds grew rampant!
Rainy Tulips
Front Garden: This year we added a rose bush to the front, and as usual the peonies were beautiful.
More peonies
The raised beds out front were very nice in year 2.  The mailbox garden wasn’t quite as spectacular, but still cheerful. This fall I added a lot more bulbs to it to refresh it in the spring.  And the zinnia/cosmo bed was very nice, though not quite at tall as last year.
Cheerful Annuals
Recommendations for 2015: Nasturtiums all around, stick with cosmos and zinnias.

Vegetable Garden: The garden redeemed itself in the zucchini category this year. Plenty of beautiful blossoms, and plenty of nice smooth green zukes.
Squash Blossoms

Holy Zukes!
I had wonderful success with carrots this year, with yields in late summer and fall.I definitely planted seeds way too close together and should have done a lot of thinning, but it was super satisfying to pull up so many. And the foliage was beautiful.
Carrots!
I had high hopes for the brussels sprouts, my first time planting them. Nice plants grew, but yielded nothing. It may be in part that they didn’t have enough room-again I’m terrible at thinning!
The peas were very good. As usual we liked to just pick and eat them right then.
Peas
I put feed bags down in the little paths of the garden and that really did help with the weeds (though some of the bags ended up soggy and yucky.)
Thriving Garden
The tomato bed was tremendously successful! The really large tomatoes needed more support and a few large stalks bent over, but continued to yield nice big tomatoes-I just had to pick them before they got too wet on the ground. As usual I did a lot of roasting and freezing.
TOmatoes
Recommendations for 2015:
Try brussels sprouts again, but thin. Continue to plant the most liked vegetables: lettuce, carrots, peas, zucchini, cucumbers (one plant was just the right amount this year!). Do butternut squash next year-I missed it this year.Also plant bell peppers.

Butterfly Garden: The butterfly garden was the shining star of success this year and all because of: Monarch Butterflies! The garden itself was not nearly as vibrant as it has been in the past.  It seems that some of the perennials didn’t survive, and we still don’t have a butterfly bush. And the bee balm sort of fizzled. It just wasn’t as pretty as usual. BUT. The milkweed flourished and did the job of bringing monarchs to lay their eggs.
a Monarch Sighting!
At the peak we counted 30 caterpillars on the plants. They devoured the milkweed and we had to bring in extra milkweed to feed them.
Monarch Madness
We were so rewarded when we actually witnessed a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis.
The Monarch Emerges!
The Monarch Emerges!
Recommendations for 2015: add another milkweed plant, if we ever get that many caterpillars again bring some in to a critter container to feed and watch.

Overall it was a good garden year.  In the spring we discovered our bees had died, so we did not have our honeybees adding to the overall system. We also had to restock our pond because our beloved frog had not survived. So, we have new fish and we bought bullfrog tadpoles that did develop into grownup frogs. The plum tree was drastically pruned and looks ridiculous now. We have to wait and see if it has improved next year. A big change was the chopping down of terrible shrubs that we didn’t like. It opened up our back door area and I kept a planter of annuals there that was very cheerful. Along the driveway the newly opened and untrampled area was perfect for growing a massive assortment of gourds and one big sunflower.I think next year we’ll either stick with gourds or try pumpkins or other squash in that same area.
So now the garden is put to bed to wait until next year when first the snowdrops, then the crocus, then asparagus, and tips of peonies show their springy faces and start the cycle all over again. Happy garden dreams!
1st Harvest

A Look Back at 2013

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The end of another year! In that last week of December I found myself thinking of all the end of year posts I like to do: top 10 books, a look back at the year, project 365 and the best pictures of the year, and a look ahead. I’ve managed to do my book post and have been contemplating the others. We’re in the midst of snow and bitter cold and I’m finally ready to nostalgically look back.

2013 seems like a very long year-things that happened one year ago seem impossibly long in the past now. Last January Paul still hadn’t found a job, but now it seems like he’s been at his new job forever. So, that was one big change. In the spring Paul began working at Princeton University in library tech services.  He’s been very happy there, reveling in the beautiful setting and academic environment.  Clark finished second grade, which he loved, and began third grade, which he does not.  It’s been a difficult transition to a year of school that is much harder, more work, less fun and play.  As for Tabby she finished up at her beloved preschool and eagerly began kindergarten.  I’m happy we have half day kindergarten, but she could probably happily be there all day long. She adores her teacher and all her new friends, and has begun reading. In the fall we said good-bye to our very dear friends, the Park family, when they moved to Michigan. We miss you guys! Clark and Paul continued along in Cub Scouts, with Paul taking on the role of Cubmaster (which is, at least in our pack, is totally just a figurehead role).
#42: Funny (113 in 2013) Angry Birds Pie in the Face
Tabby joined Girl Scouts, which thrilled me, and I took on the role of troop leader.  My good friend is my co-leader and we’ve found it somewhat challenging to the leaders for 11 little girls with varying abilities, skills, and interest in being there.  And, as I’ve always known, the leader’s kid is not the best behaved, so that’s been challenging. Still, I’m super happy she’s doing it and hope she sticks with it for many years. She ended the year getting a dramatic new haircut-going from very long to an adorable short bob.
There were no hurricanes or ice storms and we had a proper, super, Halloween, which we were all very happy for.

As for sewing, I did a couple of paid projects, but mostly just things for myself.  I only made three aprons this year! My best sewing accomplishment this year was finally buckling down and completing Clark’s robot quilt.
a better look at the back detail
I was so proud of how the design worked out and also how happy he was with it.  It’s actually in the drier right now after having its first washing, so I’m eager to see how well it’s fluffed up. Finishing that got me very inspired to begin a scrap rainbow quilt, which I’m looking forward to finishing this winter. I also learned how to make little samosa purses, regular purses, doll clothes, and made myself a nice dress.  You can see at a glance all the sewing I did this year in my 2013 Sewing Projects set. I love to look at the whole sets of things. Here’s a mouth-watering look at all the special things I cooked or baked in the 2013 Food set. For birthdays we had a lovely chocolate raspberry cake, a Minecraft creeper cake, and a flower windowbox cake.

It was a year of ups and down and the cycle of life in the chicken coop. It all started in January, with a hen going broody and hatching out a single chick. In January! Then there were other broody hens, eggs everywhere, chicks hatching, chicks getting stepped on or falling, and chicks getting pecked. There was hand raising, imprinting, and finally, a fox in the henhouse. Our flock was cut in half.  At this point we have 8 roosters (yes, all the chicks that survived were boys) and 8 girls, and not a single hen is laying (short days and molting.) But we love them.  We will probably get some chicks again in the spring if our own girls don’t produce, and the kids have been begging to get a Silkie ever since poor Little Silk drowned.  The good outweighed the bad-it was wonderful to see chicks hatch and bird motherhood in action.
Growing up fast
When others get too close she spreads her wings and fluffs up to protect her chicks and tell others to back off
What a difference a week makes-the chicks
Also in the beginning of the year we watched the baby guinea pigs grow and found new homes for two of them. We kept one, bringing our total to three. In the spring we added to our menagerie by spontaneously getting a rabbit, whom we named Gordon. He’s adorable and we love him, though we wish he could spend more time inside with us without pooping and peeing everywhere (litter training didn’t go well.)
Bedtime with Gordon

#107: A Kiss (113 in 2013)

Paul began his beekeeping adventure, which also had some tremendous ups and down. It’s been really exciting to see the bees in action, but one of the two hives swarmed away, which then involved a daring retrieval. Unfortunately the retrieved hive was not able to get sufficiently large enough in time for the first very cold snap and that hive perished. We’re really hoping things go well next year. It’s been so scientifically interesting for us to see these amazing complex insects up close.
The cells that look like they have a shiny clear liquid have honey in them
We really hope to have honey in 2014!

We were able to bookend the summer with two fantastic vacations. We started off with a trip to Cape May with my whole family-mother and two brothers and their families.  We were in one of those beautiful Cape May Victorian houses, close to the beach and it was wonderful.  So nice for the cousins to spend time together, so nice to be able to go to the beach every day, and a real highlight of the year-seeing dolphins!! It was my first time ever seeing dolphins in the wild, so it was especially awesome.
Rough waters

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Near the end of the summer we took a short vacation to Niagara Falls. You’ve heard about it, read about it, seen it in movies, but have you been? Because it is FANTASTIC. We had such a good time. I suspect we had a lot of good luck in terms of weather, lack of crowds, serendipitous timing, and where we stayed (slightly outside Niagara Falls) that all conspired to make it a great trip. The falls were just so spectacular it was truly breathtaking.
Seeing the falls
We did every touristy thing (behind the falls, interactive movie, Maid of the Mist, etc.) and enjoyed them all. We also enjoyed visiting other nearby beautiful areas.
along lake Ontario

Butterfly Conservatory

And that’s the year in review!
Happy New Year

Project 365: Year 3

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Welcome to another recap of a Project 365.  I can’t believe I’ve done three years in a row of posting a picture every day! (daily pictures are posted at my daily photo blog, The FairView.)This year I’m afraid I got very lazy about making sure my pictures made it up in a timely fashion-there were times when I was putting up 10 pictures and dating them appropriately.  I’m going to try to be better about that this year.  I also am not sure that I had that many super fantastic pictures as last year and the first year. Was I not challenging myself? Am I tired of my subjects-kids, chickens, animals, my garden? I’m not sure what it is, but for Year 4 I’m going to try to focus a bit on quality, not quantity. Which is not to say that I didn’t take many lovely pictures, they were just focused more on activities than just lovely photos. Maybe I’ve just been doing more family snapshots and project documentation? We also had a lot of baby animals at our house this year and that definitely dominated the photostream. So, let’s look at some top pics of the year!

In Motion:   I love this picture of Tabby levitating. She is actually falling backwards, but looks perfectly frozen in time, crystal clear, with her bead necklace floating above her.

IMG_1714(resolved-to put my project 365 pics in flickr, tagged as thus, so I can find them easily!) I also love this action shot of her.Usually it’s Clark who wins the action shot category, and although we did get a trampoline this year most of those action shots were not super.

We had baby chicks and baby guinea pigs this year, so there were many pictures of them. We had chick documentation, natural setting, and, my favorite, dressed up chicks!
"AAAH! My eye!!!"
We got ducklings and they were adorable, showing up often as a picture of the day as they grew. This is my favorite.
Untitled

Halfway through the year we got Nibbles & Blackie, two guinea pigs.  Blackie had babies 5 days before the end of the year. Between these two additions guinea pigs were well represented in the daily photo. My favorite guinea pig picture-because the piggie is so small and cute (a few hours old) and also because the bokeh Tabby is blurred and headless, but you can sense the excitement from her clasped hands:
The baby guinea pigs

We had some really good family times this year and these two pictures of the day capture them:
All the cousins!

Crazy Family
Curiously, none of my favorite pictures from our trip to Cape Cod made it to the picture of the day. And from our trip to the Adirondacks, which you may recall from my year in review was wonderful and I loved several of the pictures, none of the ones I posted on that were picture of the day. However, the one that did make it that I think is actually a really great shot for lots of reason is this:
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For best food picture I think I need a category somewhere between food and garden that is for garden produce. Thus, best picture of food I prepared (sour cream fudge cake-I liked the contrast of the hot pink and green next to it):
Sour Cream Fudge Cake
Best produce picture:
Nice Tomatoes
Best Garden Picture. There were lots of nice flower, vegetable, and butterfly pictures to choose from. Different from most of the sunny lovely photos I favor in my garden, I truly loved this picture and framed it and hung it in my bedroom. It’s dill, but to me they look like starbursts.
Dill constellations

The other garden shot that I loved was all about color to me.
Purple and Yellow
But if I’m going to choose a picture that was just overall best color, it would be this one, which was taken with a friend’s camera:
Blue and Pink
Best general nature shot is this cantilevered fungus
fungus among us
I’ve mentioned this a lot on Sew Buttons, but this year we visited Duke Farms several times, and that is a photographic paradise between the beautiful natural setting and the fascinating historical old buildings and the gorgeous orchid house. My favorite Duke Farms photo was this black and white of one of the fascinating stone structures, with Tabby and Clark exploring it.
Exploring-not ruins!

There were several sweet hammock photos.

As for pictures of the kids, when I look at all the Clark pictures that made it I see he has a beautiful smile, it was a year of losing teeth, and he likes being goofy.  Also, I realize that some of my favorites of him didn’t make it into the picture of the day, such as this:
If there's a beach, Clark is leaping
Of the 365 photos, I’d have to choose this-a lovely picture of him smiling with pride and delight at his Pinewood Derby entry.
Proud of his creation

As for Tabitha, there lots of pictures of her with  animals, friends and family, and she definitely likes to pose. Like with Clark, one of my favorites of her came from Cape Cod and wasn’t the picture of the day:
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Not a closeup of her beautiful face, but my favorite this year is her striding along on her birthday.
looking beautiful and like such a big girl

As for them together, there were lots of nice ones. In fact, when we were making our Christmas card I considered a collage of pictures of them side by side and I had no fewer than 8 beautiful ones throughout the year (and in almost every single one they stood in the same order-isn’t that weird?) Several of them made picture of the day-this was my fave

IMG_3216There were also a lot of nice contenders of the kids with Paul.
With Daddy

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So, do I have a very favorite of the year? It’s hard to choose, but I really loved this one, taken in the very first week of January. We were visiting the Aquarium and this seagull was bouncing along posing for me and looking at me with the Philadelphia skyline behind him.
The cutest, posing-est seagull ever-Hello!
Why, it hasn’t been a bad year for pictures at all! When I look back at them they all make me happy and bring me memories of the occasions, or pleasure at seeing something nice, and what more could I ask for? This year I also got a big new zoom lens (thank you Paul!) and for the first time made some money from my photos by turning them into notecards, which I sold, and by doing photo shoots for some people for their Christmas cards.  Seeing strangers smile at my chick photos or my nature photos and buy the notecards gave me so much pleasure. I’ll definitely work on continuing to find a way this year to sell them through my Etsy shop. So, although I do this post mostly for me, I do hope if you’ve made it here to the end you’ve enjoyed looking at these photos as well, and will stick with me for another 365 pictures!
Family Portrait 2012-we took this same picture last year!

Making a Reversible Headband

A Look Back at 2012

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It’s January 2nd and the house is nice and quiet as both children are back at school. I’m very happy to say that last night they were both really excited to return to school to see their friends and teachers again.  We did have a nice Christmas break, though, and for Clark it was quite productive-he read 14 books, earned 5 Cub Scout belt loops, we all went ice skating, to a museum, and on a nature walk. And watched plenty of movies and episodes of Phineas & Ferb.

This is a big post that usually I look forward to doing and think about in my head around New Year’s Eve. I like to look back on the year and reflect and remember. I’ve struggled a bit with it this year, though, because so much of the end part of the year has been, frankly, not that great for our family.  In September, the day before school started, Paul lost his job when they unexpectedly eliminated his position.  He’s spent the fall diligently looking for a new job and while we’ve enjoyed having him around so much more, it’s definitely been a challenge for us.  From worrying about finances to struggling to adjust to both being at home it hasn’t always been easy.  On the plus side I think it’s been really great for Clark to have Paul waiting for him at home every day after school and that traditionally difficult time of day for us has been better.  Add on to that the general worries about the kids, frustrating stuff like stopping running and then being ready to run again but developing plantar fasciitis and being unable to, and then stuff that has made me worry about people and the world (my purse was stolen from my driveway, likely by a neighborhood young person; the elementary school shooting made me unbearably sad) and it all adds up to me really hoping that 2013 is a fresh start for us and a year filled with positive changes.

But let’s look back positively, shall we? In 2012 Clark finished 1st grade and started 2nd.  He really likes his 2nd grade teacher a lot, and so do we. He is successful in her class and this year his librarian genes revealed themselves and he took to reading a lot, staying up late in bed reading, and loving getting caught up in a book.  He also moved up in Cub Scout to the Wolf level and he’s really enjoying his friendships and activities in scouting.[This fall Paul became Assistant Cubmaster, too!] He and Paul went on their first camping trip together and in the fall we did a family camping trip with Scouts that had the very exciting ending of not being able to stay the night due to the pervasive presence of a mother bear and her 3 cubs who would not leave our site alone! He tried out some different sports this year, including soccer, which he loved (but I hated as I found it painful and stressful to watch when he didn’t do very well at it.) He also got glasses, which is a probably not high on his list of highlights of the year.
Wall Walker
Tabby moved up to the 4 day class at her preschool, where she is doing much better with the more school like structure and routine of this class.  She is finally writing her name, but I worry that she can’t seem to remember what sounds the letters of the alphabet make.  She loves to sing and dance and is still outgoing and friendly and loving. I’m grateful for her late in the year birthday because we have lots of nice time together.  She is definitely more into that than Clark was with me.  She is also my child who likes to cook in the kitchen, which I love. We do hope that this year she will break her dreadful habit of prefacing every sentence with “I want to tell you something.” Then by the time she gets to actually saying her thing, she’s forgotten what she wanted to say! A big highlight for Tabby this year (and me!) was going on a girls’ weekend with me to visit my friend Joanna and attend Girl Scouting’s 100 year anniversary at the Rock the Mall event in Washington, D.C. She loved being part of this event with us, and it was very moving for Joanna and I to be there with our own girls celebrating the importance that Girl Scouting had in our lives.
Best Buds
Tabby & I
It was a big year for me in terms of sewing and creativity.  In the summer I entered my first county fair and won 2 blue ribbons! Sure there weren’t a lot of entrants in the categories, but I’m confident my apron and quilt won on their own merits.
The Winning Apron
I made many aprons this year and loved them all.  In the fall my mom and I did our first craft fair.  While the craft fair itself was disappointing I followed it up with opening an Etsy shop and doing custom orders.  This year I will keep it stocked with things I think might sell and find a way to sell my notecards featuring my photography.  It was also a good photography year at the end–I finally did some paid family photography! I’m hoping to build on that and next year do more Christmas card sessions earlier in the season.

We had some wonderful outings and trips this year:  Grounds for Sculpture
Screamers
the Adirondacks, Cape Cod, the Academy of Natural Sciences
Angry Triceratops
and especially Duke Farms, which opened to the public in May and we’ve enjoyed so far in summer, fall, and winter.
Exploring-not ruins!

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A beautiful day for butterflies in the meadow

And of course we had fun at our own house. We got a trampoline (thank you Al & Sandy) and spent many a happy hour bouncing like crazy.
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The treehouse was, of course, lots of fun for everyone, too. Sadly…Hurricane Sandy was a huge event for everyone. We were pretty lucky-without power for 3 days, without tv/cable/internet/mostly cell service for 6 days, and our house was totally fine. Unfortunately, our beloved tree house demolished by a falling tree and it took out another tree as well. The silver lining is that Paul spent the next two months gathering wood and stacking wood and we’ll be able to use it all to heat our home next winter.
It made us all really sad that the treehouse was smashed. :(
When I asked myself what some of my favorite memories of the year were, I noticed they all involved water. Cape Cod National Seashore
Everyone races to the water
our own river
Paul & Tabby
, Asbury Park waves with Clark,
Kate took this of us-I am having fun!
the floating raft by our cottage and white water rafting in the Adirondacks. A visit by both of my brothers’ families was a big highlight of the year as it was a bit of a family reunion for us. We had a wonderful Memorial Day together barbecuing and swimming in the river, which reminded all of us when we were kids and would explore the river at my grandparents in Vermont.
Cousins after the swim

Formal Family
The other even bigger highlight was our short but action and relaxation packed family vacation to the Adirondacks. We stayed in Lake Luzerne in a little cottage right on the water. We visited Lake George, took a steamship ride, went canoeing and kayaking, swimming, made smores, and loved our snug little cottage. My happiest moments of the year which I will cherish forever are these:
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White Water Rafting

Last year I did this post with lots of favorites in categories, but this year all I can think of what was my favorite food/meal and what was my favorite things I sewed? My favorite sewing project was definitely my kimono. The pattern came from a book I got for my birthday, and I deliberated over the fabric for quite a long time.  The end result was just what I wanted-a beautiful, vibrant garment that I love to wear. (Here’s the whole set at a glance of my 2012 sewing projects.)
Big kimono sleeve
Favorite food/meal? I keep remember that tomato-corn pie made this summer with farm fresh ingredients.  The recipe sounded strange, but the end result was amazing. I can’t wait to make it next summer! Astonishingly I don’t have a photo of it! Here’s a runner up meal of ravioli with an amazingly sweet yellow heirloom tomato:
Garden Grub:Tomato-Corn Ravioli
I was also very pleased with the birthday cakes this year (Kirby, chocolate layer, and ice cream cone.)Here’s a mouthwatering glance at everything I cooked or baked in 2012. I made good on my resolution to preserve more fresh foods, even if they didn’t come from my garden.  I received a wonderful book called Small Batch Preserves and tried out a few recipes from there that were wonderful.
All labeled up

The garden did pretty well this year, especially the tomatoes, which were all heirloom variety seedlings given to us by our friends. Thank you, Liz & Eleanor!

Favorite crafty thing? It’s got to be drawing and carving my own rubber stamp logo, for The Cornish Hen!
the stamp I made
the cornish hen logo
Paul scanned the stamp for me so I could have it be the new header on the blog, as well as my icon on Etsy, and I use the stamp to stamp big round stickers for my packages. It’s also on the back of the notecards.

Favorite books: Can be found over at my other blog, where I keep track of my reading. Here’s my look back at 2012 in books.

It was a pretty big year for us in terms of animal husbandry. One of the reasons I think it’s good to raise kids with animals is so they can see the cycle of life. And boy did our kids get that this year. In the spring we got 3 ducklings and raised them. They were adorable, flappy, and swimmy. Watching them swim in our pond was wonderful.
Exploring
More fresh air and swimming
We were sad when they flew off at the end of the summer, but then happy to discover where they went!
Later in the spring we ordered 25 baby chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery. Two days before they arrived one of our own hens successfully hatched three of her own baby chicks!
Family portrait
EEEEE! Box o' Chicks!!

"AAAH! My eye!!!"
It was a wonderful summer watching all these little creatures grow and change. And of course I discovered the fun of staging them with little props and taking their pictures. Throughout the year we did lose some chicks and older chickens, including witnessing the unfortunate killing of dear little Nancy by a hawk. The chicks have grown up into a variety of beautiful breeds and despite gaining some roosters, our egg production has skyrocketed.
Near the end of the summer we got two guinea pigs, Nibbles and Blackie.
Meet the Piggies
To our surprise, it turned out Nibbles was a boy,which we realized around Thanksgiving when we discovered that Blackie was pregnant. We watched her grow larger and larger until December 27, when she gave birth to four babies.
Blackie's Babies are Born!
One was stillborn, but the other three are just fine.
3 little pigs, all in a row
They are unbelievably adorable and it’s been really exciting to watch all this happen.

You know, when I read all this it really doesn’t sound like such a bad year after all. Maybe all it takes is taking the time every now and then to count the blessings that we do have. If you’ve stuck with reading this whole thing, thank you! Thank you to everyone who has left a comment this year–I truly do appreciate them. Goodbye, 2012!
Mom with Cukes