Hello, friends! It’s been a few weeks, but I have to say I really enjoyed my long holiday hiatus from blogging (and my laptop in general — I think I’ve opened it twice since Christmas).
Gemma was on break from preschool, which kind of forced me to take a break from work as well. We built a sled hill in our backyard after storms brought a few inches of snow in town. We cleaned out closets, donated boxes of clothes, and generally just tidied up for the New Year.
I cooked through the holidays, and found joy in the kitchen again after a hectic season of writing my cookbook. (Not that writing a book isn’t fun… but it’s full of pressure to meet deadlines and get things just right, when my usual mode of cooking is freestyling a meal from ingredients I already have around.)
We hosted a Friendsmas dinner party last month that was one of our most enjoyable evenings all year. To be able to get a group of much-adored friends together, a year after moving to a new town, was the best gift our family could hope for and it just made our holidays that much sweeter.
We smoked a rib roast on the kamado grill, served seared scallops with ginger-lime butter as an amuse-bouche (a recipe from my forthcoming cookbook), and put out a buffet of pumpkin mac ’n cheese, Southern-style collard greens, butternut squash gratin, roasted garlic-butter mushrooms, and roasted honey-butter carrots for 14 guests (plus a handful of toddlers).
We happily ate leftovers for the next two days. After that huge gourmet feast, I ended up making a ridiculous cheesy tater tot casserole for our Christmas Eve dinner! (Call it a guilty pleasure.)
For the first time in many years, we stayed home and woke up in our own bed on Christmas morning. It was bliss!
We slept in soundly — a treat we probably won’t get for too much longer, as Gemma’s realized the excitement of Christmas presents and stockings. (Luckily, she’s still a night owl and late riser like us.)
It was a beautiful sunny day, so we met up with friends on Mount Bachelor for a fun morning of sledding with the kids and skiing with the adults.
Then we came home, changed into pajamas, and finally let Gemma go to town on all the gifts she’d been asking every day to open.
Hearing her squeal with every new gift from her grandma or uncle or Santa, or ask if Santa was coming back to her house to visit her, or look out the window and wonder where the reindeer were, had me permanently etch this holiday into my mushy mom brain as one to treasure forever.
Two is such an awesome age, you guys. She’s talking a ton, cracking us up with her questions and observations, and pretty much shocking us every single day with how much she understands situations and expresses herself.
I just love her exuberant “Mama!” ringing down the hall when she hears me open our bedroom door in the morning, and her hilarious “Daddy! I go poopoo!” when she’s sitting on the toilet. There’s so much to love at this stage and I just want to soak it all in.
Christmas was cozy and low-key, topped off with a dinner of beef bourguignon (a Julia Child recipe that I tried for the first time, and one that might be our new tradition as I make it more my own each year), hot cider, and stroopwafels. We enjoyed our tree for another week before we finally took it down the other day, and life is now back to normal in our house.
If you followed me on Instagram last year, you may have noticed that I was aiming to post a photo every day in 2018 (my 365 project). Well, that clearly didn’t happen and I dropped the ball mid-summer while working on my book. I made it to photo 283, and I’m quite content with that.
I’ve realized that I’m just not big on social media in general, so much that I’ve decided my other brand motto (besides “Grow. Play. Every Day.”) is “Be Less Social, Go Outside More.” Anyone else with me here?
As it turns out, I don’t love to post on the fly, as I’d rather be in the moment. I often forget (or choose not) to take pictures and I’m pretty liberated from my phone most days.
Even though they’re good for business, I tend to treat my social media accounts as personal accounts more than anything. That may change this year, as one of my goals is to get better at curating my feeds so if you follow Garden Betty, you’ll get more content that’s in line with my blog. It’s something I surely need to work on.
Another thing I need to work on? Continuing to update older blog posts with new pictures and new resources. There are so many useful articles in the archives that often aren’t seen by new readers, and I feel that sharing them again is beneficial for everyone. I started doing it last year and received a lot of positive feedback on it, so I’ll keep searching out timely posts to update and republish.
I also have several new posts in the pipeline that will serve as foundational articles on the blog and strive to answer questions I’m often asked by readers. These will be finished in time for the spring growing season, so stay tuned.
Speaking of spring, who else is loving the influx of seed catalogs in their mailbox lately?
I wasn’t paying too much attention to them for a while, as our lease was supposed to end in late spring and I didn’t know where we’d be moving to (or whether I’d have time to start a garden this year). But thankfully, our landlords agreed to extend our lease by a year, which means I’ll be back to my container gardens on the deck while we continue the house hunt.
Bend real estate is still high, but we’re hoping for a break by the end of the year. I’m putting it out there in the universe that the right property will pop up on the market for us!
I hope you’ve all had a happy, healthy, and productive start to 2019 so far with a lot to look forward to.
Just for fun, here’s a look back at our last three years of family Christmas card portraits. (The last one — with a nine-month-old Gemma full of baby chub! — was taken when we lived in Southern California.) Every year, we put more and more clothes on and I think we’re going to end up in dry suits by the time the holidays roll around again!
Have a wonderful weekend!