Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012!

I thought I'd write one last post for 2012 before I head out to ring in the new year (low-key style) with some friends. I was able to cross off one more item on my list, by trying two more new recipes (pumpkin soup and stuffed chicken breasts) for a total of 12 new recipes this year. So that brings my successful completion of goals to nine out of twelve. That's not so bad, right? 

May your 2013 be filled with peace and joy... Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My First Pie

I found a recipe in my November issue of Better Homes and Gardens for a Caramel-Apple-Cherry-Cranberry Pie, and it sounded too good not to try. I don't normally have a lot of occassions for baking, though. If I just made all the recipes I see that sound good I'd end up eating them all myself and probably weigh about 500 pounds. Luckily, my friend Mindy has an annual Christmas party and I needed to bring either an appetizer or dessert, so it was a perfect chance to try the pie. Usually when I try new recipes I'm making them to take somewhere and/or serve to other people so I'm always nervous that it won't turn out right or taste good. And I do have to admit to two minor mistakes, one with the crust, and one ingredient I forgot to include. But I came up with a solution to the crust issue and I don't think the forgotten ingredient was crucial to the overall taste of the pie. So in spite of those little mess-ups, I'd call my first pie a success! It tastes delicious and I think it looks pretty good too, but you can be the judge of that.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

And Finally...

We have come to the end of the list. There's nothing much to update about #10: Buy a new laptop computer. I posted toward the beginning of the year that I accomplished this. I continue to be happy with my choice, although all the Windows 8 commercials are making me wish I could've held out until the end of the year.
I'm not going to say much about "#11: Go on a date", except that I can cross it off the list. There's nothing to get excited about. I went on a few dates this year, and they were fine, but they didn't go any further than that. So I guess I still hope I can actually accomplish this at least a few more times!
And the last item, #12: Find a spiritual practice that works for me. I feel like I can cross this off as well, because I've been journaling about what I'm thankful for. While I try to make this a daily practice, I don't always remember every day. I plan to continue working on this though, as it definitely helps improve my daily attitude and my ability to see God working in my life and in the world.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This is where the progress halts.

I'm going to whip right through and give an update on the next four items on my goal list. And the only reason I can do this is because they're the four remaining items I have yet to accomplish this year. Weird that they're consecutive items on my list, huh?
#6: Try (at least)12 new recipes. Apparently I haven't done much creative cooking in a while. That or I forgot to record anything. I tried some new things with grilling over the summer, but nothing that really qualifies as a "recipe". I tend to spend more time on indoor activities when it's cooler outside, so I might yet be able to check this item off. It's certainly not for a lack of recipes I want to try, it's just a matter of actually trying them.
#7: Finish my "mystery quilt". Again, with the cooler weather arriving I anticipate spending more time with my sewing machine (and probably knitting needles as well). I have actually completed sewing the blocks together to form the top of the quilt. It's the not-as-much-fun steps of quilting and binding that I have left.
#8: Finish painting and updating my bathrooms. Zero progress made here. I need to get on this. I did paint my patio furniture this summer (with lots of help from my mom), which was not very enjoyable and therefore has probably translated to my not wanting to do any more painting.
#9: Play the piano regularly enough to re-learn Fur Elise. Another big fat zero on this one too. I'm kind of embarrassed by that fact actually. But I'm trying not to get too down on myself about it since I've done pretty well with my list overall.
Hopefully I will be able to share more progress on these four goals, and maybe even accomplishments, by the end of the year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Good Reads

I far exceeded my goal (#5) of reading at least 12 new books this year. So far I've read 20 new books, and that doesn't even include the ones I've listened to on CDs. I was a little late in the game, but three of the books on my list this year were the Hunger Games trilogy. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed them.
This year I also discovered the GoodReads website. It's pretty awesome. It's a place to keep track of the books you have read, are reading, and want to read. You can also see what your friends have read, and you can see how people have rated books you're interested in. And maybe the best part of the site is that it makes book recommendations based on what you've read. It recommended the last book I read, which was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I enjoyed her writing style, and appreciated her insights on happiness and how she attempted changes in her life to improve her happiness over one year. For me, there was a lack of a faith aspect of her project, but otherwise it was pretty thorough and practical. I look forward to reading more GoodReads suggestions.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Roaming around Rome

Goal #4 for 2012: Go someplace I've never been OUTSIDE of New Jersey. I posted earlier this year about the first new place I went outside of the state, which was Longwood Gardens in southeast Pennsylvania. I also mentioned getting ready for vacation in my April post, but I never said that my vacation this year was to ITALY! My cousin Josh and I spent a week in the country, mostly in Rome, but also visiting some others towns and cities in the Tuscan and Umbrian areas, like Florence, Orvieto and Assisi. It was an awesome trip and we got to see all the regular tourist sites of Rome and Florence, and also some lesser known towns and beautiful countryside. There is no way I could share all the places I loved or even a small sample of the pictures I took, so I decided to just share three of my favorite places that we visited.

St. Peter's Basilica (Rome-Vatican City)
The dome of the basilica is amazing, inside and out. You probably can't tell in this picture, but all of the artwork on the inside of the dome is tiny mosaic tiles. And the view outside from the top is breathtaking. You can see practically all of Rome.

The Colosseum (Rome-Ancient City)

Even though it has a violent history, the structure of the Colosseum is awesome and beautiful and the fact that much of it is still standing is unbelievable.

The Basilica of St. Francis (Assisi)

I really liked the town of Assisi, it was beautifully set on top of a hill and was very quaint. And while I'm not Roman Catholic, I appreciate and honor the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi and how he valued creation and a life of simplicity.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fist-pump for Jersey

While I might always consider myself a PA girl (and more specifically a 'burgh girl) at heart, I do call Jersey my home now, and I want to explore what it has to offer. So I made goal #3: go someplace I've never been IN New Jersey. This year I've spent some time in three towns/cities I hadn't previously visited. I'll start up north and head south.


In August, to celebrate our birthdays, my friend Dana and I got tickets to a Mumford & Sons concert. They're my favorite band and it was an AMAZING show. The concert was in a park in Hoboken, which was a great venue and meant we could get pretty close because we were there early. We spent some time earlier in the day checking out Hoboken, although rain kept us inside more than I would've liked.
Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures, but also in August, I drove down the shore to the Installation service of a fellow LTSP grad and new colleague. After the service and reception, I enjoyed the beautiful evening and a stroll on the boardwalk. 
Cape May

And finally, in August (are you seeing a pattern here?) the South Jersey Area Wind Ensemble had a concert in the brand-spanking-new Cape May Convention Hall. I went down a few hours early to walk around town and get something to eat. It was a very cute town and I had a delicious meal at an organic and fair-trade cafe'. And the concert went very well.