Well, there’s no better time to usher in a new year than January 31, right?
The second half of December and the entire month of January were a giant blur of travel (Sunriver! Michigan! Kentucky!) by car and by plane (including an experimental red eye flight- lesson learned: the Ringers DO NOT sleep on planes), snow, delayed flights (will we ever experience punctual Christmas travel?), and family visits. We have been in such a whirlwind that I regret to report that we did not even finish the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies (not for lack of trying, as I made at least 4 cookie failures that I didn’t share with you).
However, we spent time with the little ones in Sunriver (see their tiny hands enjoying their Christmas gift below, and the awesome family photo of us, courtesy of the incredibly talented Mike Bragg, with the snowman we built far too slowly for the wishes of the tiny children). I don’t know if there’s anything more adorable than a giggly 3-year-old declaring over and over again, “This is the silliest night!” as we played in the snow in the dark.
We spent Christmas with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law in Michigan, along with a short trip (but a long drive) to Kentucky, where we celebrated Lumberjack Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family (we have themed Christmases each year, which you can enjoy here and here). We enjoyed a lumberjack feast of waffles and other breakfast goods, as well as games and costumes (hooray for this being the easiest costume year yet, but less hooray for this being the only photo I got of the whole event).
When we made it back to Portland, we were delightfully surprised with a snowfall that canceled everything in the city for the next two days (despite only a few inches of actual snowfall and a bit of ice- hooray for a city that can’t handle weather!).
The biggest news of 2016 is that I applied to graduate school! I seriously debated telling anyone of my decision to do so, as I have no idea about the likelihood of my acceptance to the program. But I can probably use all of the good wishes I can get, so consider this my formal announcement: I’ve applied to get my masters in nutrition.
For those of you who have been following my exciting career path over the past 5 years, you may recall this fun little “what on earth am I going to do?” drawing from my senior year of college. I’ve essentially remained in this clueless state for the past 5 years, thanks to the lack of direction with my bachelor’s degree (thanks, Community Communications and Leadership Development; it’s fun to see all of my classmates in the NFL and NBA), and moving from Kentucky to Oregon about 6 months after taking a really awesome job in environmental education. Although I’ve ruled a few things out of that senior year lineup (I know how to make approximately 3 types of coffee beverages, so barista is probably out; and after a few marathons and triathlons, it’s probably safe to say the Olympic committee won’t be calling anytime soon). So, I’ve been a nanny, a somewhat failed blogger, and an environmental educator. And now I’m hoping to be a nutritionist.
I was lacking a bit in the prerequisite department for the program, thanks to my avoidance of math and science in college (thanks, AP Calculus, for keeping my undergraduate years very happy). So, I’m officially a student of Portland Community College, where I’m taking Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry, Psychology (because I am apparently the only person on the planet who didn’t take this course in college), and College Algebra (thanks, AP Calculus, for not counting as a math credit because senior year of high school was too long ago). Lucky for me, my first two days of school were canceled thanks to the aforementioned snow. Unlucky for me, I retain my youthful distaste for math. Seriously, math. You’re the worst.
Also, after 4 weeks of Anatomy lectures and labs, I feel like I should apologize to two of my college roommates who took seriously difficult science classes while I enjoyed that year as an art major and spent my afternoons painting in the living room and watching Gilmore Girls. My bad, guys.
Now, back to life at PCC. Everything I think I know about community college, I learned from Community. Needless to say, I have been very disappointed. No band of misfits has taken me into their study group. My entire life cannot take place within the confines of a library study room, as my campus of PCC doesn’t currently have a library. I have yet to meet anyone who lives in the school vents, and the college dean has never flamboyantly entered any of my classrooms in costume. As far as I know, there have never been any riots over chicken fingers. And where are the paintball fights and pillow forts? I have 6 weeks left, so there’s still hope, I suppose.
In other 2016 news, I actually made a few goals for the year. While I am typically very anti-new-year’s-resolutions, I felt like there were a few things that I could publicly declare for 2016 (because if I say it on the blog, I have to do it, right?).
First off, I want to learn to make really good bread. (Read this article and tell me you don’t want to try this bread baking life for at least 6 months.) Ideally, this would be some sort of whole wheat-ish rustic bread situation, but I’m willing to attempt to conquer all sorts of breads. I started the year with the incredibly success of the Swedish Cinnamon Buns pictured above, which rocked so hard that I literally didn’t know what to do with myself and my incredible baking prowess. I crashed right back down to reality when I completely failed with an attempt at Bittman’s bread, which was clearly a baker’s error with this thing’s 5-star 1,000+ voter rating. Mine was more puffy pancake than rustic loaf of bread. I had more success with this Bon Appetit recipe, but it didn’t quite knock my socks off, so I’m still in search of a good basic bread recipe. (I will joyously accept your bread baking suggestions in the comments.)
Secondly, I want to read 26 books in 2016. I love reading, and I’m sure I knocked off a lot of books last year (you can find a few rounds of book suggestions here and here), but I thought keeping better track of them would be fun. I knocked out two books in the first two weeks of the year, and then got sidetracked by textbooks, so this may be a tougher goal than originally anticipated. I’m currently trying to work my way through a Wendell Berry book since he’s a Kentucky boy, and I know he has always been a leader in environmentalism and good food. But for some reason, I’ve never been able to finish one of his books. I’m hoping this book of essays is a winner for me. (As always, any book suggestions are highly encouraged.)
Finally, I’m hoping to cook 100 different meals in 2016. Now, I’ve cooked dinner almost every night for the past 5 years, so this isn’t really a goal to cook more. It’s more of an experiment to explore the diversity of my cooking. As an accumulator of cookbooks and avid reader of food blogs, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Of course, since becoming a student again, my usual cooking routine has kind of gone out the window, and I’ve been focusing more on cooking a ton of one thing and eating it several nights a week (hello, massive time saver; goodbye, different meal every night). But, if you have any fun or favorite recipes, I’d love to try them!
Here’s to a new year (only 11 months to go, 2016)!