New Year, New You.
This sentiment seems to be how many people approach the 1st of each calendar year. Some of us even wait until after the 1st to talk about what we need to work on to become a better . . . fill in the blank. A few of us reject the concept entirely, constantly reminding ourselves to strive to be our best every single day.
Not to come off as conceited or anything, but I like myself and I’m not really all that down with changing who I am. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m constantly looking for ways to improve. I like to think of it as staying on top of my game. So, I find solace in the coming of a new year. It’s a chance for recollecting, re-birth and new beginnings, right about the same time the sun starts shining a little longer each and every day. Perfect, you know? And I am sure it is no coincidence that the world participates in this freshening up and cleaning out every single year at the same exact time. As I look back onto this past year–the time I have spent growing as not only a blogger, but as a photographer, a recipe creator, and now, an author *–I can’t help but notice how different my own view of my work has become. Also, I can’t help but feel giddy. 2011 was one helluva good year.
When I first started this blog, I really did not have many expectations except to make it a place where I could practice cooking, writing, food activism, photography and recipe development. I also knew damn well I wanted to write a cookbook to chronicle some of my favorite recipes–for me it was much more about documentation rather than publication. So I found the food blogosphere the perfect place to connect with like minded people who shared similar goals.
Then you, dear readers, came along. You set the standards a little higher, and I eagerly responded. I began to pour my heart into blogging all the while juggling my own life behind the scenes. Last year I made the resolution to finish my very first book, whether I got the darned thing published or not. Not long after that, I signed on with The Lisa Ekus Group, an amazing agency that I never would have dreamed I’d be working with, and they helped me score a deal with Fair Winds Press who will be putting out my book in July!
Your interest in my recipes and work has made it possible to make a living out of what I love to do. Well, that, and discovering great reads like Dianne Jacob’s blog (particularly this post and its comments) and her book Will Write for Food (what a wealth of knowledge that woman has under her hat). And I feel damn lucky for that. Damn lucky to live in the age of the internet. Damn lucky that you all are reading this now. Even if you’re skimming… I’m sort of a rambler, so no hard feelings here.
Another of my and my husband’s new year’s resolutions last year was to relocate to the East Coast. My family and I happily made that dream a reality this past September by replanting our feet in the city of Philadelphia. And we are in love. So so deeply in love. It truly is the city of brotherly love. Sisterly love too. There’s just so much love to be had in this city.
So all in all, I had an amaaaaazing year… and I have to say, I have those darned 2011 resolutions to thank. I’m pretty sure if I never set my mind to those things, they simply never would have happened. Or at least, they wouldn’t have been a priority.
But, one that was missing last year was time. I was always running out of it. I was always working 12 hour days. Sometimes more. I was always seeking out a way to connect with more people, ways to stash away more knowledge, ways to improve my blog. But no matter what I gained in insight in these areas of my life, I realized late last year that I was spreading myself too thin. I was taking on too many things that didn’t quite fulfill me, and not spending enough time on the ones I really wanted to embrace.
This is what I love about the “new” year.
I am a planner. I love planning. I plan everything. Every day. I even plan my lazy days. Today is actually one of them. As you can see, I am a bit of a workaholic too. And I’m okay with that. So, when the end of the year comes, my planning-happy brain likes to file it away and move on to the next project. Mentally, I take an end of the year inventory and reflect on all the ways I have changed, or what I have learned from living another year. Every single year I am blown away at what the previous year bestowed onto me as far as experience. Seriously blows my mind. So this year, to help me plan, I’m publicly announcing my resolutions in regards to this blog. Because why the hell not? After all, if it wasn’t for this blog, I wouldn’t have much of a life… or a career, anyway.
I know all of us have struggles; have things we like to talk about, and things we don’t. Many of us have passions unfulfilled. I have them too. Currently, most of them have to do with finding a balance between my personal life and my newly found professional life.
So what are my resolutions to make this year even better than the last?
1) I’m working on another book. I know. This is like telling everyone I want to adopt another baby while I’m still pregnant with my first child–as my first book has even yet to hit the shelves–but I feel compelled to be honest with all of you. Not at all as an excuse, but as a proud declaration of who I want to be. I want to be a writer: on this blog, and in books, and anywhere else that will have me. But also, being a good mother and a good friend to my husband is important to me. And, instead of writing about those things, and trying to incorporate them in my blog, I want to spend more time living them… so I can take in more of what inspires me to write. And we’ll see where it goes from there. I decided a little while ago in regards to this blog to cut myself some slack. You may have noticed, you may have not. I’m gonna keep the pace going that I’ve recently fallen into with posting. I’m trying to juggle my projects a little wiser now, and my personal life too. I hope to create more quality posts even if I have to sacrifice quantity. I also want to fill you guys in more often about these projects I’ve been working on, so expect some of that too.
2) I want to make more art. More often. Did you all know I do that too? It’s actually what sparked my passion for making a living out of making food. I just love making. I’ve been steadily getting better at and able to spend more time making food, but the art has sort of fallen to the wayside. And that’s okay, but I wanna get back to it. Starting now.
3) Another thing I want to start doing is to ignore the people who exclaim “boo” to me about my work/values/life choices/way I spend my time/etc. and keep cherishing the amazing people who have been supportive all along. As much as I love blogging and interacting with new people, I had to re-learn a hard lesson that I was taught long ago: not everything in life is peaches and cream–and that means people too. Not wasting my mental energy on ill intentioned people is a big goal of mine this year. I have more important things to pay attention to… like my beautiful little girl’s ridiculously heart warming laugh, or my pup’s doughy blue and brown eyes.
And food. Oh, isn’t there is just so much food to love?
4) And, lastly, I’m planning on learning French. And then sometime I’ll be going to France. After, and only after, I have learned a good bit of French. I’m doing this because of my ridiculous obsession with learning about French cuisine, a subject I have taken quite an interest in as of late. I’d like to involve my kids in this endeavor, so we’ll see how it goes. However it turns out, this should be one very good year. Une belle année. **
So, there you have it. My new year’s goals…
Also, here’s a little somethin’ I came up with on the recipe front. I hope you all enjoy.
Happy 2012, everyone. May it be blessed with the most delicious of eats, and filled with nothing but happy hearts and bellies.
Cherry Chocolate Rice Pudding with Cognac and Almonds
- 2 cups cooked short grain rice, any variety
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp cognac
- 1 cup dairy free chocolate chips
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp cherry preserves
- dash sea salt
- 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Place cooked rice into medium sized bowl. In separate medium sized bowl, combine chocolate chips, vanilla extract, cherry preserves and sea salt.
In small saucepan, over medium heat, warm coconut milk and cognac just until liquid becomes very hot and begins to bubble. Pour hot milk over chocolate chips and stir to combine until all chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir into rice until well mixed.
Fold in toasted almonds and then cover and chill briefly, just to thicken. Pudding becomes quite firm when cold, so I suggest serving warm. My husband also gobbled it up quite cold… so to each her/his own.
Makes about 4 servings.
*It still feels very weird to say that. Just so you know.
**from Google translate… please pardon my French.