The hours are ticking away, and soon 2009 will be gone forever--which makes it a perfect time to look back on the past months, before looking ahead to the coming year.
On a personal level, this year has been one of great change for us. Things I thought I knew for certain have been irrevocably altered; things I never expected to happen, did. Artistically, I've evolved and learned more than I can explain--my dreams and hopes have become more focused, my goals more clear.
And yet, it's also been a hard year, with many difficult obstacles and experiences. I think the whole world felt the weight of 2009, and because of that, I'm very grateful for the turning of the decade. I know it's largely symbolic...but I think having a "new label", a clear division in time, helps clear the slate and start a new chapter.
Tonight, I want to share some of my favorite or "most representative" images from 2009, a brief visual summary of our year. It was only March that I began this blog, and much has changed since then. For starters, at the beginning of the year I was still using an old 3.5 megapixel Canon Powershot, and I mostly took photos of routine activities and events:
In April we went on a roadtrip to Southern Colorado for our anniversary:
And I slowly began taking photography more seriously, practicing Photoshop techniques and trying to develop my personal style:
These are some of the last photos I took with Sara before she got sick.
Then in August, I happily upgraded from the Canon Powershot to a Canon Rebel XS--
After Sara died, we traveled once more to Southern Colorado to rescue to Tess:
And I began doing pet photography.
Finally, we prepared to move from Utah to Colorado:
And we got here without incident, just before winter arrived:
Now, the year is coming to a close.
I hope 2010 brings healing and stability for everyone--but regardless of what comes next, we'll try to handle it with grace and strength, and always persevere and hold fast to the things that matter most (namely, our loved ones and dreams).
Adios 2009, and goodbye to the past decade. I'm ready for a new one to begin.
My husband and I celebrate Winter Solstice (the longest night of the year, marking the return of the sun) over twelve days, from the 21st to New Years. On each of the twelve days, we look back on a month from the previous year, remembering events and making peace with struggles. It's a ritual I treasure; although it's easy to get caught up in the passing days and weeks without much time to reflect, it's nice to slow down at the end of the year and take stock of where we've been and where we'd like to go. And with the turning of the decade, this marks the start of an even bigger chapter in our lives, and the lives of others.
Around this time of year I also do a lot of baking--cookies, pastries, breads--and this year has been no different. One of my favorite holiday breads is "Pan de Muertos", which is somewhat anachronistic since Dia de los Muertos traditionally falls on November 1st and 2nd. But, since they're also days of remembrance and celebration, it seems fitting. It's just an awesome bread that's fantastic with hot drinks, which makes it perfect for this time of year.
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp anise seed
2 packets (or tbsp) of dry yeast
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
4 eggs (or egg replacer)
and, an additional 3 to 4 1/2 cups of flour
(We're lacto-vegetarians and now live at high altitude, so my version also included some high altitude adjustments and this fabulous egg replacement--which, when photographed, inadvertently wound up looking like a vintage ad...)
1. Mix all dry ingredients together except the 3 - 4 1/2 cups of flour.
2. In a small pan, heat the milk, water, and butter until 120-130 degrees F (you'll need a thermometer, since it's important not to over or underheat the liquids. Otherwise, you either won't activate the yeast, or worse, you'll kill it!).
3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and beat well.
4. Mix in the eggs and 1 1/2 cups of flour. Mix well.
5. Gradually add the remaining flour, little by little. When the dough is workable, take it out of the bowl and knead on a floured board for 9 - 10 minutes (I know it's tiring, but this year I didn't skimp on kneading and the bread was the lightest and fluffiest it's ever been). Continue adding flour as needed. I stopped at about 3 1/2 cups total (including the flour from step 4); you don't want the dough to be too sticky or too caked with flour. The texture you're shooting for is "moderately dry but elastic".
6. Form the dough into a ball and divide in half. Put each half in a greased bowl; turn dough to grease the top and bottom. Cover, then allow it to rise until double in size (about an hour and a half at sea level).
7. Punch the dough down and shape into loaves on baking sheets (I covered our sheets with foil, which helps when you put the glaze on later). Traditionally, the loaves are circular with "bones" shaped on top, but I've done a variety of loaves over the years. This time I wanted a big braided loaf and two smaller ones, but you could probably get 4-5 small loaves out of this recipe.
8. Let it rise another hour, then bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 40 minutes or until it reaches the desired golden crust.
The bread is delicious as is, but I like it best with this glaze and a little sugar (or sprinkles) on top. There always seems to be leftover glaze, so don't worry if you don't have the exact amount of ingredients.
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, let cool to desired consistency, then apply to bread with a pastry brush.
2. Serve and ENJOY!
You may have seen this already. If you haven't--yes, it's over an hour long, and yes, I watched the entire thing at 3 am this morning.
It's the time of year for reflection, and this video is perfect for just that. Worth a watch, I promise. He passed away last year.
Back in October, we drove through Southern Utah to Colorado on our way to rescue Tess. Although she was our primary objective, it was also useful as a "test" drive, since the route was identical to the one we'd be using when we moved two months later.
I was in the passenger seat for our first trip, so I was able to take plenty of photos during the drive. And although they were all taken from a moving vehicle, you can still get a decent idea of the gorgeous and diverse areas we drove through, made especially beautiful by the changing fall weather (with the notable exception of a freak flurry on our way home).
During our second and final trip, this was my view for most of the drive:
And then, we arrived.
It's been a whirlwind month, what with packing the house in Utah, packing the truck, driving across state lines, getting situated at our new home, then unpacking and setting everything up. We're finally about 90% done, so we've been taking some actual vacation time this week and enjoying the warmer weather (40 degrees instead of -20!). I'm particularly appreciating the quieter environment of our new home--Salt Lake City is many things, and unfortunately "still" was not one of them. It was often hard to find any location absent of other human beings, and after so many years with traffic sounds and people noise, it's been very soothing to be surrounded by calm, congestion-free neighborhoods with quiet streets and even quieter nights. Artistically, I'm already feeling rejuvenated.
The year and decade are inching to a close, and right now, I'm feeling very grateful and ready for more new chapters to begin.