The Year In Review

I haven’t been posting much this year. This point was driven home when my Facebook year in review was mostly photos others had tagged me in. My year was a lot more beautiful than anyone would guess, especially considering undiagnosed knee bursitis left me hobbled for the better part of 7 months. A lot of time was spent with family and friend. We also traveled all over western Washington. Be prepared for some sunset photos.

2014 started with our 4th Anniversary trip to Mount St. Helens. We arrived late, woke up early and saw the most beautiful sunrise over the mountain.

This biggest news of my year was becoming an aunt. Emily & Pete had a baby! Being an aunt is so much fun. There were a ton of crafts before she was born, and I’m sure there will be even more as she grows. Em and I even did some long distance design consulting for the nursery. It is turning out super cute.

I was invited to an event at the Chihuly Boathouse. It was great to see someone else’s collection of creepy face objects.

E & I went on a camping trip on the Olympic Peninsula, stopping at the Olympic National Park, Neah Bay to visit a friend, and the Salt Creek Campground, where you sleep overlooking the tide pools.

We made a few trips down to Ocean Shores to spend time with my family. Rain, wind, or sun, these beaches are wonderful.

This fall we celebrated a few of our friends getting married. One of these weddings was just outside of Portland in Troutdale, Oregon. We had a great time driving the historic Columbia River Highway. There are cabbage farms, coating the ground in purple leaves, just a mile away from historic sites along the way to waterfalls.

We’re going back for this year’s anniversary. I cannot wait to start the year off at McMenamins Edgefield, getting to see the falls in daylight, and finally going inside the Vista House!

Pretty Ugly Food

Thanksgiving was full of beautiful food, flowers, and family. Other than my no-knead sweet potato rolls, this year Mom requested a signature cocktail. I think we really delivered using items she already had on hand.

The Thanksgiving Mimosa

The Thanksgiving Mimosa

The Thanksgiving Mimosa is champagne, pomegranate juice, and frozen cranberries. It couldn’t be easier, but feels super festive. You could make it with sparkling cider, or these cute cranberry skewers from Style Me Pretty.

Thanksgiving 2014

Sweet potato rolls. Acorn squash with pinto beans and chorizo.

These sweet potato dinner rolls are probably my family’s favorite thing I make all year. They are snapped up so fast that in almost 5 years of dating, E had never had one until this weekend. (I made him take the first one.) The recipe was first posted on The Kitchn back in 2008. They’re super easy to make, but do require a bit of time to rise.

The other recipe I brought to dinner a little something new. Did you know there’s a brand of chipotle peppers with adobo sauce that comes in a resealable jar now? I’m so happy. Normally I plan out a bunch of recipes before opening a chipotle can and still can’t work through it all before the peppers turn weird.  I first made this combo to celebrate my new jarred chipotle: Williams-Sonoma Roasted Acorn Squash with Chipotle and Food & Wine Spiced Pinto Beans with Chorizo using chipotle in adobo sauce instead of powder and skipping the pork rind garnish. Both recipes are great alone and they’re even better together. I’ve made is as stuffed squash with rice, as a casserole, and as this version that can be easily pulled apart by any picky eaters. We could also have kept squash separate if we have vegetarians present. This is by far the prettiest version.

And now for the ugly:

Pear Dutch Baby

I thought this was supposed to get crispy?

As my sister said, “That is Martha Stewart level“.

After spending a few days at my parents’ house, we returned to some over ripe pears and I thought I’d try my hand at a Dutch Baby. What better way to use up the remaining flour? I mostly followed the Bon Appetit recipe, adding a little bit of ground ginger and waaaay too much brown sugar on the pears. Cooking the pears and brown sugar made a syrup that the batter cooked in and it couldn’t crisp up like it was supposed to. Luckily it was still delicious, especially for breakfast with some maple sausage. That said, don’t fail like me. Go easy on the brown sugar.

Currently Reading: The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More FunThe Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book and burst in to tears thinking about how much I love the life I have built. That’s weird considering I found Gretchen irritating. She is obviously a great researcher and writer, but her personal accounts are…not good. I can’t tell if she’s bad at reading a situation or if there is something else going on. That said, there is insightful stuff here. Ignore Gretchen’s personal life, read this book for yourself.

View all my reviews

A Colony of Bats

I want trick-or-treaters this year & it seemed like having a big (& early!) Halloween window might do the trick. The idea & pattern for this Bat Banner came from HenryHappened. I liked the idea since it’s cheap, simple, & almost fancy looking. It reminds me of a beaded necklace.

Bat Banner

Pretty friendly for being a little spooky.

Buying a whole pack of construction paper just for black seemed like a waste. I bought a cheap black gift bag instead. This turned out to be a great idea; the white inside of the bag made it super easy to trace out the bats. I didn’t have a hole punch handy, so the puncture marks were made with a sharp pencil so that the bats could be hung up with twine.

Bat Banner in the making

Bats like to huddle together, right?

Of course I didn’t stop there. In addition to the usual farmers market gourds, I also grabbed a flameless candle on a timer from the drug store. It clicks on every evening before I get home so that I can enjoy it, too. The black cat was leftover from a crazy cat lady costume. The paper lantern moon was just a happy accident.

Getting Halloween ready

Had a few extra, so we stuck them to the window of the front door.

I cut out so many bats that I’m still trying to come up with places to stick them. Having temporary double sided tape has never made so much sense.

Now for some jack-o-lanterns & we’ll be set!