Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yearly Review

I started to write my usual monthly review today, before I realized that it should be a yearly review instead. Yes, it’s been one year since I started my blog, and a year since I set my ‘new year’s resolution’ goals. I spent a good bit of time perusing my first posts and had to chuckle at the memories of figuring out html and fumbling my way through formatting basics. Though the writing was decent in my early blogging days, the layout was usually clumsy. It’s stunning to think about how much I’ve learned and how much has changed in 12 little months.

I’ve enjoyed blogging so immensely and cherish being able to look back on our lives in such an intimate way. It’s quite a vulnerable thing to publish your life so that others can peer inside, but the rewards have been worth every risk. People have been so encouraging about my writing, and blogging has helped me to easily transition from full time work into early retirement.

I’m honored and humbled that so many of my friends and family take the time to keep up with our adventures by checking my daily updates. It’s been such a blast for me personally to write, the fact that I have an audience is just icing on the cake.

I’ll never forget that first post I shared on facebook. Being a chronically shy introvert, I anxiously awaited people’s responses and was overwhelmed by the positive feedback I received from my peers. Thank you for following along with us on this journey.

Your participation in this blog is invaluable to me and I honestly appreciate your support. If you’re reading this, and I haven’t met you, please introduce yourselves. I would love to get to know your story as well!

So my New’s Years Resolution goals last year were to read 2 books a month, to cook one new recipe a week, and later I added the goal of blogging 5 times a week and writing 20,000 words a month. Here’s a summation of my performance.

Reading: From August 2011-July 2012, I read 30 books, averaging 2.5 books a month. My favorite book was probably The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain, which I read twice. The second time I read it was for my AWA book club, and talk about a book fostering good conversation among ex-pat women who have widely given up their careers to follow their husbands around the world. It was really a great conversation starter and made me so grateful for having stumbled upon such an intelligent and funny group of women who have instantly accepted me into the fold.
Other books I’ve read over the past year that I highly recommend are: A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’brien, Never Let Me Go by Kazua Ishiguro, and, of course, The Giver by Lois Lowry.
And you don’t need me to urge you to read The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, do you? Certainly, you’ve read them by now. If not, shame on you, and go read them immediately. I promise, it will only take you a week to get through all three of them because they are impossible to put down.

Anyone out there have a book suggestion that I simply must read as soon as possible? I’d love your input!

Cooking: Cooking one new recipe a week was a bit ambitious for a full time working girl to accomplish, especially since my husband and I already had our favorite meals, and Sunday seemed to be the only night I had available to prepare a complicated meal. I did fairly well with finding one new recipe per month, at least until we got to Scotland.

Once we arrived in Aberdeen, I essentially had to relearn all of my recipes; substituting ingredients, converting Fahrenheit to Celsius and cups to milliliters. It seemed like all of my old recipes were brand new. I am proud to announce that after 3 months of stumbling blindly from aisle to aisle, I can now walk in and out of a grocery store within an hour’s time.

Of all the new recipes we’ve incorporated into our household menus, I think Jonathan would agree that our favorite is Quinoa Stuffed Bellpeppers. Never has something so healthy tasted so darn good. Guilt free delicious-ness- Yes please!
Another amazing dish is Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos. De-lish! I also feel really proud of my honey that he has so warmly embraced a few vegetarian options. Before my new recipe acquisition agenda, most of our meals were meat centered, but now it’s nice to have a few meat-less options to throw into the rotation.

Writing. I’ve done a pretty decent job of blogging every week day, though coming up with new and interesting topics has gotten more difficult as our lives balance out here. I’m sure no one wants to hear about my forays to the gym, my excursions to the dry cleaner, or my war with burgundy carpet. But day to day life has settled in here in Aberdeen and we are doing less exploring, less learning, and more hanging out at home with a glass of wine and watching the USA dominate the Olympics.
If any of you have ideas of something Scotland or Ex-pat related that you’d like to know more about, please offer up some blog topic suggestions. I’m starting to struggle here which means you’re due for some super adorable but somewhat redundant dog stories and accompanying pictures.
I’m sad to say that I never quite reached my goal of writing 20,000 words in a month, though I averaged about 15,000 pretty consistently.

New goals: This is the first August since I was 3 years old where my life isn’t intricately connected to the start of the school year. It feels strange to not be gearing up for a new semester, and therefore my natural inclination towards setting new goals is also waning. I’m pretty happy with my reading and writing pace, though I’d like to start writing something other than my blog.

One of the items on my bucket list is to write a novel, and what better time than now? I’ve got no kids, no job, and live in an unbelievably inspiring place. It’s just that…how does one go about writing a novel? It seems like such an overwhelming undertaking that I have no idea where to even begin. I’ve got so much respect for anyone who manages to get one of these things down on paper and it makes me a less critical reader for sure.
So back to setting new goals, I guess that I’d like to continue my reading, writing, and cooking, but also I’d like to learn a bit more about photography, organize the storage space in my house so it’s not so cluttered, eat less sugar,  and start hammering out that novel. Those all seem a bit abstract, so once I adapt them into a more concrete and measurable form, I’ll let you know so that you can hold me accountable.


  1. Happy Blogiversary! I love reading you blog everyday and I would totally by your book! You're such a great writer. Keep the posts coming even if they are dog stories ;-) Congrats on a job well done, friend!

  2. Way to go, girl! I am so proud of all your accomplishments this year. I love hearing about the conversions from everyday American life to European living, so stories about your everyday life are exciting to me :)

    And, I second the other Jill. Smiley face to dog stories :)

  3. Just returned from Aberdeen last night to 97 degrees in Houston. My case was full of indian spices and curly wurlys!!! I will miss the food, but it is great to get back to my big washer/dryer... I miss home but your posts are inspiring. Keep it up :)

  4. The Paris Wife is my favorite book of this year. Thanks so.much for sharing that book with me and so many.others with me. I seriously miss and music chats. You are still inspiring me and brightening up my days even though you're thousands and thousands of.miles away from Houston