Mental Chew - Best of 2011

This was my first complete year of blogging. I started in 2007, but this year I really committed to it and posted regularly. So, what have I learned? 1) photos - they matter most of all to me. If the lighting is off, I cringe and yet, sometimes I have posted them anyways. At least I can go back now and say, "Damn that was a crappy picture. How could I have made it better? This is one of my New Year's resolutions and I will be working on it here. 2) audience - I love mine. There are so many of you whom I would love to sit down with cup of coffee or glass of wine in hand, ready to hear about your week. What an incredible world of friends I have made this year and I will continue celebrating you on Sundays. 3) cooking - I really enjoy it and it can be cathartic. Yet one more thing I can fully complete and get response from the family about...they don't do that for clean bathrooms or laundry. 4) gardening - I walked through the local hardware store and found myself stopping and inhaling among the bags of potting soil and fertilizer today. This is the smell of sanity for me. In addition, I was so excited when my Territorial Seed catalog came in and almost lost my mind when the Lil Man snatched it away from me and started leafing through it. I know this should bring me joy. He is excited to pick out our seeds and I was happy about this AFTER the fact, but my knee jerk reaction was, "Hey, give that back!" 5) family - I feel so blessed and that is not a word I use lightly or freely, but I do. My two littles and my husband are people I truly enjoy being around. We have our moments and sometimes they include tears and hurt, but we are one, smiles, laughter, tears, frustration and all. So, thank you for supporting my adventures and giving feedback and comments. Happy 2012 to you and here are my Top 10 posts from 2011.

This post was a favorite because I came up with the idea of the recipe while chatting with a good friend and then it developed into a story while I was baking it and attempting a photo shoot with the final product. Also, I am proud of most of the images in this post. 
A Garden for Four Sometimes when you are writing a post, it never makes it to the "published" stage. I have at least 2 dozen posts that didn't end up posting this year. This particular post almost didn't make it, because it is personal and I wasn't sure how personal I wanted to make this medium. So I did, and I am so glad. As a result, I have had some great conversations with some outstanding mamas.
Sugar Cookies (without tears) There are people in my life who I know will be there forever and this was a way to include the "Cookie Sheriff", my Polish Sistah in this form of expression. A way to cement this memory and to overcome a little personal fear...of sugar cookies. How Does Your Garden Grow? While the garden was booming, I started taking pics once a week to show progress (& failure). This is a feature I would like to start up again in the spring and I hope others will join me. Perhaps I can make it a "Linky" event and others can post their weekly garden results as well. Garden geek fun. OXO, Universal Design and a Good Cause In my previous life as a teacher, I had a passion for including all students and worked really hard to ensure each of my project-based lessons was accessible to each of "my kids". Through this journey, I crossed paths with OXO and their Cookies for Kids project. Love them even more as a result. A Time for Purpose. A Time for Fancy. This post and Distracted were both amazing gifts from my babes. The Lil Man planned something special for me when I was busy with the hustle and bustle of getting two kids out the door and Lil Miss was just being a cute lil' angel in the garden. Both of these will go into their scrapbooks. Our First Onion  is merely a photo, but it represents my major success of this year's garden. The last one was consumed Dec. 23. Towhee - Comedy in the garden. This post was a a recollection of my encounters with a VERY determined Towhee and a VERY determined gardener who finally came to a draw. This is a must-read before I head into the garden pre-spring. Oh, the little lessons we learn in the garden. Happy Fall from San Juan Island and First Day of Fall are probably my favorite pictures from the year during my absolute FAVORITE time of year. Fall on San Juan Island is one of the many reasons I just HAD to come back and live here. Gorgeous place and it brings out the best in all of my friends. Ok....I cheated a little. I doubled up on two, so I will stop there. Did you have a favorite? I hope so. Thank you and HAPPY 2011!!!!!

Val Curtis of Mental Chew

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