So here we are, about to close out another year and this is my cliche post to say, “WOW! Can you believe it’s about to be 2016 already?”. But seriously you guys, can you? 2015 flew by. Flew!
That picture up there? It was taken back in August on our 5th wedding anniversary for a photoshoot styled by my crazy talented friend Bailey of Just Be., and shot by husband and wife shutterbug duo Steph and Brent of Saltwater Studios. These guys all do an incredible job of capturing the beauty of weddings, engagements, babies and other love-centered stuff. They also let me bite right into that cake. If you’re in the southern Jersey area, you have to check them out. Look at these!
I know we always say it, but 2015 seems to have gone by faster than other years. Lighting fast. And the past few weeks have certainly been no exception.
What is it about the holidays that always smacks you clean on your ass? Life becomes a wild tornado of cookie baking sessions, cocktailing, holiday party going, frantic last minute trips to the mall, cocktailing, holiday party hosting, all-day family gatherings, cocktailing, movie-going and late-night meet-ups with friends visiting from out of town. Did I mention the cocktails? I’m exhausted. And on top of the massive social obligations there’s always a mess of work that needs to get closed out before the new year, and a whole bunch of other work that needs to get a head start before the new year. My house looks like Santa Claus threw up all over it, my body feels like it got hit by a bus and my brain is complete mush. But at least it’s been fun!
This is all to say that I’ve maybe kinda sorta developed slight case of the f*ck-its this week. In part, because I feel like I’ve earned it. The other part is because I literally just can’t. I’ve been on a bit of a social media detox (highly recommended), and you may have noticed my regular Tuesday recipe post never arrived this week. Well, I’m here to tell you the Friday video post won’t be arriving in your mailbox either, and there’s a good chance the same thing will happen next week. Rather than phone it in, I’m opting to take a little time off to regroup, strategize and do a little maintenance on the site. It’s a quality over quantity thing. So stay tuned! Changes are a’comin and it’s all going to be good.
So let’s talk about 2015! At the end of 2014 I set a few goals for myself and I’m happy to say I accomplished most of them. One year ago I didn’t know what ISO meant or how to use video editing software, but I’ve since taught myself how to take a proper photo and how self-produce videos from start to finish. Granted, there’s still LOTS of room for improvement, so don’t fret, 2016, we still have our work cut out for us.
I posted exactly 91 recipes this year – that’s a lot! And I hope to post even more, even better recipes in 2016. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Some of your favorite recipes in 2015 were this salted chocolate and caramel ice cream cake, my mama’s fish chowder, Ina’s zucchini gratin, my family’s spiedini alla Siciliana, my chicken pot pie and Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Herb Dipping Sauce. All popular for a reason: they’re some of my favorites, too!
One of my biggest personal goals for 2015 was to travel more, and that is exactly what I did. 2015 took me to Miami, FL, Biloxi, MI, Ithaca, NY, New Orleans, LA, Gloucester, MA, Newport, RI, Philly, NYC and all over northern Italy (which, um, was kind of a big deal). My goal for 2016 is to travel even more, and I can’t wait to see where the next 365 days will take me.
2015 was also a year where I saw a lot of personal growth. 2014 left me a bit shattered, but in 2015 I picked up the pieces and put the puzzle back together. 2014 was a wild emotional rollercoaster with peaks and valleys of nervousness, excitement, uncertainty, hope, and ultimately devastation and mourning. 2015 saw a more steady coast of reconciliation, acceptance, contentedness, gratefulness and most importantly, happiness.
A lot of what I learned this year will sound cliche on paper, but it’s been pretty monumental to me on a personal level. I learned to let go of a lot of emotional baggage and things that don’t serve me, to feel okay in my own skin and to better understand, appreciate and nurture my relationships with important people. In 2015, I started to really stop caring what other people think of me and allowed myself to fully and unapologetically just be me – something I always thought I was doing, but in hindsight, I really wasn’t at all. Turning 31 finally opened my eyes to how fleeting life is, and to stop taking it for granted. 2015 was the year I stopped beating myself up about chasing a dream and realized I’m already living it.
All of that. All of what I just said is so, so trite. I know. But this year, something just clicked. A lot of that had to do with my big 2015 goal of accepting failure – no doubt a result from the previous year, which revolved around throwing my heart and soul into a nationally broadcasted reality show competition, and ultimately losing at the last minute. We need to fail and experience a little discomfort in order to grow. This is something I always preach when it comes to to cooking, but just like in life, it’s a whole lot easier said than done. Knocking it out of the park every time is fun, but it won’t teach you anything. Royally effing up every once in a while will. And trust me, I eff up. A lot.
We all go through life trying to hide our failures, but I’m on a mission to bring them into the limelight in 2016 because I think they’re important. It’s okay to mess up. I actually encourage it. Because only then can you see what went wrong and work to correct it in the future. In order to better accept my failures, I’m going to start sharing more of them and the lessons they teach me.
I’m looking forward to ringing in the new year tonight with some close friends, good food and a whole lot of champagne. Whether you have big plans for the evening or just a cozy night at home, I hope you take a moment to appreciate whatever 2015 brought your way. Even if that meant failure, loss, tragedy or devastation, try to acknowledge that the pain is a sign of growth, and that 2016 is wide open with opportunity to improve.