A Look Back on 2012

I am very grateful for the adventures, new opportunities, and growth I experienced in 2012. Even numbers have always been my favorite so let’s hope that 2013 doesn’t disappoint (negative much, Amy?). Here is a photo-overloaded look back on the highlights of 2012:

January and February involved trips to the Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon Coast – two places that cannot be missed if you ever venture to the Pacific Northwest. They both have unique beauty and the ability to relax even the wildest of souls. January also included a trip to Omaha, NE to help much-loved Isa Moskowitz with her dessert contributions for the now released Forks Over Knives Cookbook.

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March was the tail end of my first paid freelance photography gig. The challenges that accompanied that experience really helped me trust myself more and approach photography with new insight.

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April was a collection of early season hiking, bird watching, a visit from my dad, and tons of baking for Portland’s part in the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale.

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May and June highlights are rather silly, but this is primarily a food blog, so you’ll understand – attending the Veggie Grill grand opening and celebrating National Doughnut Day (vegan style!!) were top of the list!

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The remainder of June and most of July was perhaps the most incredible portion of 2012 for me. Tim and I went on an 8,000+ mile road trip all the way across the country and back, visiting National Parks, quirky small towns, friends, and family along the way. We had a blast! Spending so much time with Tim exploring new places and hiking in some of the most beautiful wilderness was truly, truly awesome. Recaps of our journey are here and here.

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August and September opened up more time for wilderness recreation. We went backpacking, spent time with friends in Seattle eating yummy food, and entertained my parents when they came for a visit. It was my mom’s first time in the Pacific Northwest and she loved every minute. September also marked the start of my employment with Herbivore Clothing Company. Best. Job. Ever.

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October was a month full of food since it was the Vegan Month of Food! Click here to see all the fun I stirred up in the kitchen!

November? I received two new cookbooks and had a blast cooking and baking from them. Preparing delicious food is almost as fun as devouring it!

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And that brings us to December! New recipe creations, a photo project, and a second new job round out the end of the year. I am excited for what lies ahead. Thanks for following me over the course of 2012. I wish all of you a super duper Happy New Year!!!

Year in Review Part II

Let’s continue with my Year in Review. Here is Part II!

July 2011:

Cherry picking in Hood River, OR led to numerous batches of cherry doughnuts (and jam, and smoothies). The lovely Julie Hasson asked me to photograph her food cart, Native Bowl, for a feature in VegNews magazine (check out the September/October 2011 issue). Tim and I also picked massive amounts of raspberries.

August 2011:

I think August might have been the most adventurous month out of the year. Tim and I went on some amazing hikes in the Mt. Hood Wilderness. We also traveled to Pennsylvania to visit my family (I met my little niece from Germany for the first time!) and then drove across the country back to Portland, stopping along the way to stay with friends. I made massive quantities of jam and pickles.

September 2011:

September was jam-packed with outdoor recreation and travel. Tim and I spent a week In Nova Scotia with his family. When we returned to Portland, we went on numerous backpacking trips – indulging in the lovely solitude that comes with hiking when peak season is over. I was also hired for my dream job, which later led to my biggest disappointment of the year (see October 2011).

October 2011:

Perhaps the most difficult time period for me in well over a year, October 2011 is a month I’d prefer to erase from existence. I started working at a vegan bakery, throwing all of my enthusiasm and commitment to baking into the job. In less than two weeks, I was laid off. While such a short period of time might not seem capable of causing intense emotional stress, it did. To distract me, Tim planned outings every week to make sure I saw the light of day. I started recipe testing for Terry Hope Romero’s next cookbook. And, I baked up a fierce storm of treats at home, because it’s what I love to do most.

November 2011:

Trips to the Oregon coast, walks through the neighborhood to enjoy the colorful leaves, and bike rides to local food carts filled our days.

December 2011:

More road trips, hiking, baking cookies, and freelance art projects filled out the remainder of 2011.

I am very excited about two freelance jobs (one baking and one photography) that start in 2012. It’s going to be a productive, adventure-filled, kick-butt kind of year! Happy New Year to all of my readers. I hope that you stick around for what’s to come in 2012, including a few giveaways! Thanks for reading :)

A Year in Review Part I

This past year was filled with personal challenges, new discoveries, uncountable moments of joy, plenty of off road exploration, and a few disappointments (have to balance everything out, right?). When a new year begins, I like to think it’s the perfect time to start fresh and clean. But in reality, I know that a day is just a day and no matter what year it is, all of my years average out to be pretty similar. I’m a fan of consistency after all.

Capturing my life on camera is my favorite way to look back on the times that made me smile. As somebody who struggles with depression, it’s always nice to have those reminders. So, let’s take a look at Part I of the highlights of 2011:

January:

Portland experienced a mild winter that gave Tim and I plenty of opportunities to ride around town on our bikes. One of my favorite rides was to St. Johns for a birthday lunch (for Tim) at Proper Eats. I also baked and ate a lot of brownies in January!

February 2011:

Snowshoeing adventures with friends and grape soda cupcakes (for my 34th birthday) kept me energetic. I also got a job as a personal assistant and celebrated by playing on the merry-go-round with Tim at a local park.

March 2011:

I flew to Omaha, NE to help Isa Moskowitz bake a ton of pies for her now released Vegan Pie in the Sky (co-authored with Terry Hope Romero) book. I enjoyed some of the best falafel I’ve ever tasted while I was there. Tim and I took advantage of more gorgeous Pacific Northwest weather and filled our open days with hiking and snowshoeing adventures. We were in the company of amazing wildlife!

April 2011:

Vegan bake sales (one in Omaha and one in Portland) kept my apron tied tight and my face covered in flour. A fun road trip to Salem, OR filled an entire day with new explorations. Testing recipes for my friend Kittee’s cookzine kept my tummy full of exciting new foods.

May 2011:

Tim and I took a trip to Seattle to visit with friends and enjoy the best vegan pizza in the world. Seriously, our friends Dave and Kim know how to make pizza happen! I also befriended the coolest kitty on my block: Ignacious. He dances and twists and spins on the sidewalk.  I also spent way too much time photographing the sparrows that sit outside my kitchen window.

June 2011:

One of my dear friends from college (Hi Amy!) visited Portland and it was so much fun spending the day with her and her husband. My dad also visited for a day while he was in town for work. And, I helped my friend Kittee build a garden in her backyard.

Stay tuned for Part II of my Year in Review tomorrow! Hope everybody is enjoying the holiday season with loved ones :)


Rewinding 365 Days

With 2010 quickly departing, I thought it might be fun to look back on my adventures over the last twelve months. I’ve never written a “Year in Review” post before because my commitment to blogging isn’t exactly gold star worthy, but it might be nice to end the year with some enthusiasm for 2011!

January 2010

Ooooops! I didn’t write a single post in January 2010. But, that doesn’t mean life was dull! I made Tim cupcakes for his 33rd birthday and we had no trouble eating the entire dozen by ourselves (not all at once of course!):

We also went out to dinner with friends at Portobello Vegan Trattoria. This was a special day because we rarely go out to eat.

February 2010

I turned 33 in February. Tim made me a gorgeous cake:

I also baked up a storm for Portland’s Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti, took part in Chicago Soy Dairy’s Teese Challenge two times, and volunteered at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary.

March 2010

In March, Tim and I attended a lecture given by Lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project. She is a true inspiration to me and I take advantage of every opportunity to hear her speak about food justice and veganism. We also had a visit from Tim’s family. We spent a lot of time with his sister, Liz:

We took her to several fun Oregon landmarks, including Multnomah Falls:

And we fed her yummy vegan waffle sandwiches from FlavourSpot:

Finally, Tim and I went on a gorgeous hike near Mt. Saint Helen’s:

April 2010

To celebrate Earth Day, I wrote a lengthy post about how we can all reduce our impact on the planet. Tim and I went on hike and encountered some snow:

But, we made it to the top and enjoyed expansive views, especially of Mt. Saint Helens:

I was also testing recipes for Celine and Joni’s forthcoming (third!!!) cookbook:

May 2010

In May, I participated in another vegan bake sale, this time helping to raise money for Galapagos Preservation Society. I made brownies and pizza rolls!

Tim and I also went on LOTS of bike rides – as a result, I built up my endurance for longer rides:

Tim and I also took a nice trip to Seattle for a friend’s art show and continued on to the Olympic Peninsula for more adventure.

June 2010

June was an incredibly busy month with plenty of backpacking, Portland’s Run for Congo Women, Vegan Iron Chef 2010, and the Let Live Animal Rights Conference 2010. I think June was the best month for animal/human rights activism. It was a good month.

July 2010

July marked a major turning point for me in my life. I impulsively quit my job after five years as a legal assistant. I was dreadfully unhappy and unfulfilled. It was a smart decision. I put my mental health above financial security. I have been struggling with depression for the last ten years and quitting my job put me one step closer to letting happiness into my life. Tim and I immediately celebrated with a backpacking vacation. It was awesome. We also went cherry picking, I announced that I was writing a vegan brownie cookbook, I opened an Etsy shop called Chirp Cards, and attended a summer open house at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary:

August 2010

August was an exciting, productive month for me. I worked with the absolutely wonderful Isa Moskowitz to help with cooking, cleaning, and photo shoot preparation for her newest cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. I learned a lot from Isa and had a blast helping her. It was one of the greatest highlights of my summer. If you don’t own this book yet, make it your New Year’s resolution to purchase it, cook from it, and take naps with it.

I was also hard at work creating brownie recipes despite an over-heating oven and sky high temperatures outdoors. I spent more time at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary as well.

September 2010

September resulted in more backpacking adventures, Portland’s Veg Fest, a Dandies Challenge, a visit to new vegan food cart in Portland, and bike rides to our favorite places:

October 2010

October was a pretty mellow month. Tim and I took advantage of free time and went hiking:

We also went to Portland’s annual Apple Fest and bought close to 20 pounds of local apples:

And, we attended another volunteer work party at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary.

November 2010

November was another busy month. I made a new friend and we spent MANY hours together cooking, baking, and eating. I participated in Vegan MoFo and posted every day for the entire month – a big accomplishment for me! To check out all of my MoFo posts, click here. Tim and I went on three hikes, including one with my dad when he visited us early in the month. I also taught myself yoga!

Tim, our friend Kittee, and I also participated in the annual Fur Free Friday march in downtown Portland. The march protested wearing, buying, and creating fur apparel. It was a peaceful, educational, and effective protest.

December 2010

December brought a temporary halt to my brownie cookbook. My motivation plummeted and I was making a lot of cards to keep my Etsy shop full. Bike riding slowed a bit as well since wind, rain, and gloomy weather dominated most days. Baking took up most of my time, but we managed to enjoy a few baked treats made by others too!

We celebrated Christmas Eve with friends and lots of pizza. I got a new camera lens from Tim so expect some exciting photos next year!

I have a nice list of goals for 2011, so stay tuned for a post about what I hope to accomplish!

Happy New Year everybody!!!