Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday: New Year 2016 Edition

My husband, my rock

In 2015, I wrote a total of 20 Five Things Friday posts. The biweekly series started in 2013 as a way to share the random collection of thoughts and tidbits from my life that don’t warrant a whole blog entry, and also serve as a reminder to myself that no matter how hard things may be (or how mundane the day to day may seem), there’s always something to smile about. Even if it’s a small thing. Because sometimes, those are the best things. (You can read the very first Five Things Friday here.)

I didn’t put too much thought into how significant the series would eventually become, but through the years, I’ve heard from countless readers that this little post was a favorite on the blog, a highlight in their inboxes or newsreaders every other week. And truthfully, it threw me off a bit. But then I realized… there is pure joy in simple pleasures, which is what I always try to convey in my posts.

I’m so happy to know it’s something you look forward to, and hope it helps you look back on all your blessings as you leap ahead into the New Year.

Without further ado… here were the five big things that made my year!

My husband, my rock

1. Yesterday on New Year’s Eve, Will and I celebrated nine years together. Happy anniversary to my better half! Some people only count their wedding anniversaries (in which case, we’re on our third one), but I feel that shortchanges the rest of the time we’ve had together, which I cherish just as deeply. So, I’m going with nine years!

I have to say, I scored really, really hard in the husband department with this one. He’s a solid guy. A good guy. A guy I’m so thankful to have in my corner, cheering me from the sidelines, supporting me in every way. He humors all my wacky ideas and my whimsical goals, and never tells me they’re impossible to achieve. In fact, he encourages me to run with them, to reach for the highest level and then push for more.

Behind the scenes of Garden Betty, there’s a positive force that once said I should write a book. That took a tremendous pay cut to photograph it the way I’d envisioned it. That forked over the garden beds, brewed bottomless buckets of compost tea, hauled bales of straw up and down our stairs, scraped off poop in the chicken coop. That found, researched, and networked with brilliant brands that would become some of my most supportive and longstanding sponsors.

Garden Betty is me, through and through, but Will has been (and will always be) a big part of this blog, even if he remains nameless and faceless in its daily operations. I’m five years into Garden Betty, and will hopefully see five more with Will by my side!

Celebrating the Sprout

2. Oh baby. Sprout wasn’t exactly a surprise for us, but what did surprise us was how quickly it happened once we’d decided the time was right to start a family. Every day I’m more and more excited at the thought of having a little snuggle bug in the house and on the road with us.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I thank the babe for giving me a new perspective on life these last few months as I’ve slowly shifted my selfish way of thinking. When it’s only been the two of you for so long, it’s a struggle to accept the fact that all future decisions suddenly involve a third human being, and one that can’t even talk or walk yet.

As a child, my mom used to talk to me a lot about sacrifice — all the risks and challenges she faced as she tried to build a new life in America and raise a baby at the same time. Her sacrifices have put me in a more privileged place now as I’m expecting my own baby, but I’m no less aware I’ll have to give up a few creature comforts as well (at least in the beginning while I adjust to motherhood). It’s revealed a special side of my heart for sure, and I’m embracing all the changes to come this year.

Bringing people together

3. One of the best aspects of my blog, and my particular favorite, is its ability to bring together people from a wide range of ages, ethnic groups, religions, backgrounds, values, and interests, all over the world. It fills my heart that despite all our differences, we can still come together on our love of the earth and our passion for food.

I’ve been blown away by all the genuine people I’ve met this past year through my blog, at my events, and on my book tour. I’m a city girl who loves digging in the dirt as much as I love imbibing craft cocktails. But I can stand on common ground with a 16-year-old inner city kid who started an edible garden in his neighborhood, a 40-year-old suburban prepper with an interest in seed saving and food preserving, a 50-year-old fifth-generation farmer in the midwest who spends his days tending his flock, and an 80-year-old grandmother who still rocks her hiking poles and explores the great outdoors at 10,000 feet — and I owe it all to my blog.

It’s inspiring, uplifting, and enheartening, and reminds me — when I’m saddened by all the negative news in this world — that yes, we can all get along.

The CSA Cookbook

4. The CSA Cookbook was a surreal accomplishment for me. I’m still surprised when I see it on the shelves of my favorite bookstores or the random shops I happen upon in my travels. And sometimes, I’m still embarrassed to introduce myself as the author when a salesclerk sees me picking up my own book in utter excitement and disbelief.

When it was released this past March, it instantly became a Hot New Release on Amazon (thanks to strong preorder sales) and a #1 New Release in Amazon’s cookbook categories (claiming that spot for several weeks). We sold out of our first printing within three months, and the book is well into its second (bigger) printing.

I traveled to places like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Missouri, and Washington to speak about my book, not to mention all the venues that hosted me over the course of seven weeks on my book tour this past summer. Readers from across the world in New Zealand and Singapore have emailed me to let me know how much they’ve enjoyed my book. The Press Democrat put The CSA Cookbook on the front page of its Food section in September 2015. Countless other newspapers, magazines, blogs, and podcasts featured my book in one form or another, and we’ll be ramping up publicity again once spring rolls around and CSA season is in full swing.

Surreal, I tell you.

My garden

5. Before the book ever happened, there was the garden — what I might consider an even bigger accomplishment. Only five years ago, I didn’t even know how to start a plant from seed. My idea of gardening was buying a potted herb from Home Depot and hoping it would stay alive long enough for me to harvest a few sprigs.

Oh, how things have changed! If you’ve ever been frustrated by the pests on your plants, if you’ve been thwarted by attempts to grow a tomato plant on your patio or you’ve merely resigned yourself to having a black thumb, know that everyone has to start somewhere. Someone like you is also struggling to keep her garden green, and that someone is me.

The drought in California has been hard on us. The rising cost of municipal water and a move toward conservation has definitely changed the way I cultivate my land these last few seasons. I’m even more thankful for the bounties I’m able to reap while working with natural resources like the sun, the soil bacteria, and the native bees that pollinate our crops.

Gardening is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done, and it’s taught me a lot about the cycle of life and how fragile (yet resilient) it can be. It’s taught me to truly treasure where our food comes from and to appreciate something so simple as a farm-fresh egg, which we never think twice about in the store. It’s such an important life lesson that I feel fortunate to be able to pass on to our little Sprout one day and to you, my blog readers.

Here’s to more love, more beauty, and more curiosity in 2016!

Linda Ly About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Avatar
    January 19, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Great writing and work, gambate!

    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      February 8, 2016 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you! Hope the New Year is treating you right so far!

  • Avatar
    Aimee Levens
    January 1, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Beautiful post – congratulations on an amazing year! And the red dress! And the gold! WOW! It really is a wonderful life 🙂 Happy new year!

    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      January 2, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you Aimee! Happiest of New Years to you too! I can’t wait to see what’s in store this coming year. 🙂


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