Every year we get a slew of Christmas cards from our friends and family around the country. Lots of photos and a few who take the time to write out a note or thoughts from their year. I love looking at every photo and especially enjoy reading those few notes and stories from friends. I, like many others, give myself a pat on the back if a Christmas card is in the mail pre-Christmas, but I hardly have the time to write a note, or much less, type up the details of our year. This year we had fabulous family photos taken by the talented Renata Stone. I was so encouraged by just viewing the images of what our little family has become that I wanted to share them with you. And even though my cards were mostly out late, I did get a chance to write short notes to friends and family on the backs of each card and today I set aside some time to remember our year, jotting down the highlights, and sharing it all here with you.
2014 was all new. We were new parents, wrote a book for the first time, opened up two cafes (never having done anything like that before), and traveled to several new places.
Sleep deprived and fully satisfied could easily describe our year. We had more than enough good food from 60+ restaurants around our city as we tasted and tested recipes for our book. Everett’s sleep patterns quickly got out of wack when his teeth started coming in. He managed to continue being his joyful self even with breaks in his sleep while, I just tried to make drive in a straight line, and get my sentences out correctly. I desperately tried to take in every new, sweet change of our boy without letting sleep trick me into forgetting them or not being present in them.
During nap times, which eventually did get more regular and lengthy even, I worked, doing this mostly. Typing, cooking, photographing and editing photos. I also took on a few other photography jobs, taking photos for one of our favorite restaurants, Pago, and our neighborhood grocer, Harmons. I got the chance to help Evolution Fresh (the juice brand of Starbucks) come up with a juice pairing guide and throw a test party with the pairings. I’ll never turn down throwing a good party! And I worked with several brands which pair perfectly with my food lifestyle like Food52, Noosa Yoghurt, Torrone, Rodelle Vanilla, Lindsay Olives, She Knows, Girards, Hamilton Beach, Blendtec, Abound, Harmons, Evolution Fresh, and Whole Foods.
I had the chance to travel with work to Cincinatti with Kroger, learning all about their Abound dog food line; to Seattle with Girard’s Salad Dressings, tasting and seeing all of the best of the coastal city; and to Iowa, experiencing first hand the ins-and-outs of the corn and soybean industries.
Josh stayed in Utah mostly working away at getting the 2 Charming Beard coffee shops open while also organizing the music and art at our church, Missio Dei. He had a few short stints as a single dad which were “non-stop” and “adventurous” as he described it. He did send me this photo, where Everett fell asleep mid-play on our dog’s bed. It was a bachelor party at its best.
Together we traveled to San Diego at St Louis with my family, enjoying weather from white sandy beaches to brisk high winds. It was a special time as Everett bonded with his grandparents and relatives. Both of Josh’s parents visited over the summer, experiencing their grandson in short intensive increments.
One of our favorite trips was visiting two sets of our closest friends in San Francisco. We rented a tiny turquoise fiat and buzzed through the city from one beach to the next. We tasted new wines and stayed up late catching up with our friends as the kids snoozed. All of our children got just enough acquainted with each other to be excited for more visits. These friends are like family.
2014 was a great year for us food wise. Though cooking can be hard with a toddler by our side, we continued to make meals together, some more simple than others, and we continued to bring Everett along as we enjoyed all of the tastes of our city. My favorite meals at home (aside from these dinners I shared previously) include the lemon ricotta pancakes Josh made me for my birthday, this fruit cobbler that I made several times throughout the summer and the butternut squash ravioli that we made from scratch this fall. I also sharpened my pie making skills with a few friends and perfected my challah bread though the holidays.
Every meal that we “had” to try for our book was a delight. The best ones were when the timing would work out well and we actually got to stay for a full dinner as a family. We took Everett with us up to Log Haven for a magical meal up in the mountains where I had tea brined pork tenderloin with huckleberry gastrique and we shared a frozen coconut soufflé. The salmon over creamy cabbage from Em’s and the spaghetti with cauliflower from Lugano were devoured. Copper Onion’s Beef Stoganoff and the Croquettas from Finca were both basically quickly fought over while the Manilla Clams in wine sauce from Trio were slowly and thoroughly enjoyed, using the crusty bread to soak up every last drop of the broth.
Josh and me.
We’re still a thing, Josh and me. Yes, we have a toddler but we still enjoy the moments when it’s just he and I. It’s been 9 years and every year is different and more full. Marriage with all of it’s ups and downs met with us directly this year. We became even more of a team as we worked together on these big projects and we worked through past and present struggles with an excellent counselor, which we have hugely been challenged by. We have thoroughly enjoyed being parents together and growing up in our love and care for each another.
Everett is quickly growing up. This year he quickly adapted to eating solids (it was probably all of the good food we had in front of us) and more slowly adapted to walking. Month 13-17 were a bit clumsy but after every spill he would get up and continue to waddle around until the next. He has learned to turn the music on the radio in our living room all by himself, usually turning it up full strength so he can really get his dance on. He’ll even dance on command when he’s half asleep – making for a good party trick! Everett loves his dog Henry and, well, really all of the animals in existence. He got especially connected to birds as we visit the local aviary by our house regularly. For halloween he had to be a birdie (one of his favorite words to say) and upon seeing his costume he said, “fly.” Not exactly what I was going for but a fly and a bird are similar enough, I guess. He loves trains, reading books, taking care of his animals, and playing in his toy kitchen. One of my favorite things is when he walks around the house with a little toy pot with wooden fruit inside and says “hotie hotie.” Of course he’s comfortable in the kitchen. Above all, he is a joy and his smile and happy go-lucky personality is good for our souls.
This year it’s been difficult to get into any routine to spend time with God alone but I’ve found him in the quiet moments of nursing and rocking Everett to sleep. I may even pray longer and deeper than before motherhood. Kids require that I think. Over this year, I became a deacon at our church, which I still am learning the meaning of, but I hope to continue to learn and grow along side those in and outside of our community. God is merciful to me in the peaceful moments and in the loud ones and I’m just grateful for his presence.
Thanks for letting me share my year with you on this blog and for participating in life with me. To me, life is all about the relationships around us and food is often times what brings us together for real conversation. I’m grateful for the conversations at my table and here online. I hope you all have a wonderful end to this year, filled with hope in a new year.
Every single one of these photos are by Renata Stone and you can see more of her work at Big Bear Photo. She will forever be a friend for capturing our family so beautifully and honestly.