Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 Top 12

I was scrolling through the archives of a fellow blogger the other day. Maybe you've heard of her? She's kind of a hero of mine. The Pioneer Woman. If you didn't just click on the link, then do it. Seriously. Leave this blog now and discover the world of ranching, cooking, kids and tellin' things the pioneer way.

Welcome back! Well, a contributor to P-Dubs site did a top ten for this year in entertainment, which has inspired this post. And since I have a thing about numbers, we're doing twelve and not limiting it to entertainment.

1. Favorite Movie

I didn't say we couldn't start with entertainment.

Where to begin?! I mean, this year saw the release of The Hunger Games (exhilarating), The Avengers (exciting), The Five-Year Engagement (hilariously awkward), The Trouble With the Curve (Justin Timberlake; need I say more?), and Pitch Perfect (side-splittling). And these are just the movies I saw!

I will probably have to say that my favorite was this one: 



The Legend ended this July. I kind of love bittersweet endings. Feels more genuine. I bawled and swooned and held my breath. Also, this poster has my favorite quote from the trilogy: "Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to get back up." Oh, Mr. Wayne, Sr., you are so brilliant.


2. Favorite Book

I know there were many new books this year. If you haven't read The Hunger Games yet, or think you're too cool to, do it. They are easy reads and the inner-world of this teenage girl is totally relatable; you're gonna wish you hadn't waited. I'm lookin' at you, sister.

There was also the new book by J.K Rowling, The Casual Vacancy, which was well-written (did you expect less?), and intriguing to the end.

My must-reads-and-read-again from this year are The Girl in the Orange DressThe Glass Castle, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The Girl in the Orange Dress is a must read for anyone of the female gender. Engaging, relatable and wittingly truthful, you won't want to put it down.

And while I'm aware that The Glass Castle is an oldie, it is an exceptionally honest and touching memoir that makes you reconsider everything about your life.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is even older, but for everyone who struggled even a little bit in high school (which, let's be honest, is all of us), for those who wandered, who ever felt the sting of being on the outside, this book is for you. You'll want everyone you know to read this.

But this year's hands-down winner is:


Bonhoeffer: Pastor. Martyr. Prophet. Spy. Holy goodness, this book was incredible. Spectacularly crafted, historically enlightening, intelligently spoken, it is a biography that in my opinion is an instant classic. This will be the go-to book on my favorite theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. At 624 pages, it is not for the faint of heart, but it will encourage you and inspire you. Read this book.


3. Favorite New Recipe

This year, I tried countless new recipes. Many of them being cakes during my three-week stay in my homeland of Northern California. My favorite recipe of the year (or at least the one I'm most proud of) came from that week.

Jewish honey cake by Moosewood Restaurants (this link takes you to a fellow bloggers post on the trials of this recipe).

I made this cake for a night when we were having company. It was a family that my hosts knew from their homeschooling group that has six boys. I had met Mom and Dad and the two youngest boys at the barn dance a few days earlier and begged my Mim to invite them for dinner. And if the dad isn't the cutest little Jewish man I ever met, then I will never write again. I decided to be bold and make this recipe that I found in one of Mim's many cookbooks. The notation said that it was common for this cake to be served during the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah.

This is not an easy cake. Probably one of the most difficult I made this year. And I made at least a dozen different ones. During the production of said cake, it overflowed all over the oven, we had to open all the doors and windows in the front part of the house and turn on all the fans, then pour the half-baked batter into a different pan and cross our sticky fingers. But, boy, was the payoff worth it all.

After the baking fiasco, I covered my rescued cake with powdered sugar and hoped for the best. During dessert, as I was getting up to serve someone a drink, I overhead Mr. Wisan declare that it tastes just like the cake his mother used to make when he was a boy in New York.

I have never been more proud of anything I've done.

This cake is spicy, sweet and moist; which, in my opinion, is the only way a cake should be.


4. Favorite New City

I have a travel bug. It's deep and it's real and I adore it. And I feed it whenever I get the chance.

This summer, I took my first trip to the East Coast. I flew into Pittsburgh, drove to the small town of Indiana, took the turnpike, and made it to my family's house outside of Frederick, MD. But my favorite was the nation's capital.

Washington, in the District of Colombia, is the most energetic town I've been to. People are moving, they're happy, and the city itself seems to buzz.

The Washington Monument quickly became my favorite thing in the city; everywhere we went, you could see it. It was comforting.


Plus, the museums are free. And free is my favorite number.


5. Favorite Christmas Gift

I know, I know, you're not supposed to pick favorites. But I just can't help it!

I loved every gift I got this year. They were all thoughtful and practical, which is the best combination for me.

There was one gift, however, that shone a little brighter.

My Patagonia Shell. In light balsamic. It's the fanciest thing I own, and something I would probably never buy for myself. Which makes me love it even more. It's lightweight and beautiful and has H2NO protection, for those rainy walks to and from work. I adore this gift from my very own foster family in the harbor. Love you guys!


6. Favorite New Single

T. Swifts "22". I can't help it!! I'm obsessed. I turned 23 towards the end of 2012, and I discovered this song after the fact, but I feel like it's totally okay. Especially since T.'s song came out, like, a month before she herself turned 23.

Here's the acoustic and live version. The full band one is one of those songs you blast at full volume with the windows down and your best friend sitting next to you.


7. Favorite Thought Catalog post

If you haven't explored the intelligent and relevant world of Thought Catalog, get with it! There are posts about anything and everything. A couple months ago, I stumbled on this gem via Pinterest.

It's an apt piece for this time in my life. All about the 20's.


8. Favorite Glee Cover

Yes, it's true. I am a gleek. I love the silliness, the drama, and the covers of any and every genre's playlist.

Sidenote, I swear I saw a shorter, chubbier Blaine Warbler the other day. I can't make this stuff up, people.

Anyways, this is our first category with a tie. Hey, I never said decision-making is my strong suit.

It's so close that I can't bring myself to decide which I like more.

Shake it Out (original by Florence + the Machine)

or

Homeward Bound/Home mash-up (originals by Simon & Garfunkel and Phillip Phillips, respectively).

Uh, so, I promised honesty in this blog. Something I strive for, you know? Well, I have a confession to make. While finding links for these videos, I decided that "Shake It Out" is definitely my favorite. Holy goodness, that is definitely one of the most emotional songs and scenarios from season three. But the Homeward Bound/Home mash-up is a close second.


9. Favorite Guilty Pleasure

It has to be said. "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen was the anthem of the year. And I drank the kool-aid and sang right along.


Plus, who didn't love the video of the Olympic Swim Team doing this song? Oh, you haven't seen it yet? Allow me to broaden your pop cultural reference database. Enjoy!


10. Favorite Olympic Moment

I'm a junkie. I'll admit it. I was setting alarm clocks to wake up at five am so I could watch the olympics live online and not miss a thing. In summer, people. And I was unemployed!! But contrary to what you're thinking, this doesn't spell crazy, but rather, dedication. Patriotism? A desire to see men wearing speedos and gliding through the water like a fish?

Whatever it is, I was all about it. So ten brings me back to the summer of swim.

The men's swimming 4X100-Meter Medley, the last swimming event of the London Olympics. Holy smokes. Matt Grevers started with the backstroke, Brendan Hansen followed with the breaststroke. The U.S. held a lead for the first leg, then fell into second by the start of the third. Enter Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time. He closes the gap and puts the U.S. in the lead, butterflying the crap out of that giant pool. With a quarter second lead, Nathan Adrian (can we say absolutely adorable??) freestyles his way down and back, creating a body lead between him and the Japanese competitor. And the U.S. wins at 3.29.35.

I watched this event live with baited breath, freaking out and cheering on those boys the entire time.



Is it 2014 yet?


11. Favorite Kid Moment

This summer I went to Seattle for my annual trip.

While there, I stayed with my favorite family in the Harbor who, within one year, adopted two of the cutest and most precocious children I know.

Their daughter, then 3 1/2, had the following conversation with me:

K: Sammie, where's your baby?
Me: I don't have a baby.
K: Why not?
Me: 'Cause you have to have a husband to have a baby.
K: Oh, and you only have a boyfriend? (with just a hint of condescension)
Me: No, no boyfriend either.
K: Yes you do...

She was convinced. If she's right, I'd sure like to meet him.


12. Favorite Accomplishment

In my old living situation, my roomies and I had this evening tradition where we would tell each other about the good things we did that day. It started after we all had a couple weeks of feeling defeated. We decided that it was more productive and positive to talk about all the good that came out of the day. It was my favorite time of day.

This year, I had some of the biggest accomplishments of my life. My favorite is a two-in-one. First, I got my second semester of straight A's. I was thrilled. But even more exciting for me was getting accepted to all three universities that I applied to. When I got my first letter, I bawled the entire way home from the post office, through the rain (not the safest drive ever). I burst into my house, where my slightly startled roommate ended her call, ready to receive what she thought was bad news. I couldn't have been happier or more proud of myself.

While I didn't end up attending any of those schools, I still count it as noteworthy. And that's a story for a very different day. :)


And that's the list, kids.


What are your favorite moments of 2012?


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