Every year, I write a post encompassing the events and abundance of the year prior. Joys and heartaches, lessons learned, life updates, what we ate, what I listened to, and what the year looked like for me. It is methodical and therapeutic in that these posts always take me some time to write, as I look back at all the posts from the previous year, trying to hone in on the most important bits, be they large or small (some of the small things are very important, I think).
It is link-heavy, with links to any relevant blog posts or more details that I mention.
I already shared my 2023: A knitting year in review post, but I will summarize a few key points here, as well. There were very days in 2023 in which I didn't pick up a project or two. I knit a lot of socks, quite a few gift knits, and three sweaters. I spent a lot of time in the evenings knitting with a sleeping Finn on my lap, or during the day when he was having a contact nap.
I did mention it in my post linked above, but after many years of merely talking about it, I learned how to crochet this year! I have tons to learn and there are many more projects I want to attempt, but I feel like I have a real start. I'm thankful for a good friend who showed me the basics and continues to be an excellent resource when I have questions.
I did a fair bit of sewing this year, although it came in spurts, per usual for me. In my creative goals for 2023, I mentioned a few projects that I did manage to finish, including a birthday Orchards dress (finally), which challenged me in a lot of ways and introduced several new garment sewing skills, and the modification of my Kline dress into a skirt, which made it far more wearable for me.
I did some gift sewing, including sewing a zippered Kindle case for my sister-in-law, using the Preston Laptop case PDF pattern from Sotak Handmade. I sewed some tiny fabric bins, one of which I gave to my mom. I sewed a floral zippered project bag for another friend who loves to knit and crochet. And just before we moved, I batch sewed three more zippered project bags, one with a Rifle Paper Co wintery print and brown boxed bottom for a friend, one in a single fabric that's a burnt orangey/brown with speckles for another friend, and one for myself in a wintery cabin print and green plaid bottom.
And I sewed several other project bags this year: a floral zippered one, a summery, red, white, and blue zippered one, and a drawstring blue plaid project bag that felt autumnal to me, using I followed Erica Arndt's Drawstring Squishy bag with pocket tutorial on YouTube. .
And perhaps, the project that I am most proud of this year is my Towns Bag, which was my first time sewing with heavy canvas, doing bar tacks, and a different construction for a boxed bottom. I use the finished bag daily, and it's beautiful and I am so pleased with how it turned out. I followed along with the Sew-a-long video series on YouTube. While I love spontaneous projects, and much of my sewing is just that, this project was planned out and strategized and approached slowly, and that was enjoyable, as well.
For sewing in particular, I think making some loose plans with my Creativity Check-ins was very helpful in queuing up projects and mentally planning for things.
It was another year of being home full-time with my little boys, and I truly love that caring for my family and our home is my primary role. I did focus more on trying to "close the loop," on tasks, since I am a chronic multitasker. For me, this looks like trying to be very intentional to actually finish all steps of a task (ie wash, dry, fold, and put away a load of laundry) to help reduce the mental load that a nearly-finished-but-not-quite task weighs on me. Obviously, this is still very much a work-in-progress!
And on the theme of housekeeping, I continued with my cleaning schedule, which has made a big difference in helping me not feel as overwhelmed by cleaning. One task a day (bathrooms, dusting, kitchen, floors) feels far more doable to me, as well as trying to completely finished one load of laundry a day.
In the kitchen
- I shared my recipe for Hearty Beef and Vegetable stew, a meal I make often, paired alongside sourdough bread. There was a stretch where we ate this weekly this past year.
- We went through a big quiche phase, as well, making this quiche lorraine. I use local, raw cream and cheese, and a sourdough pie crust that's long-fermented. I typically halve the recipe to make only one quiche (it uses half the pie crust, and I freeze the other half for next time). It was one of our favorite meals this past year.
- I made countless batches of my granola, since one of our very favorite evening snacks is a bowl of it with grass-fed raw milk.
- I started soaking berries from the store with a vinegar and water solution, and storing them in glass jars. I noticed that they keep longer and the jars are much prettier than the plastic cartons.
- I tried my hand at canning again, and canned a few dozen jars of homemade salsa (with more tomatoes frozen to make even more salsa, when the mood and motivation strike me).
- My godmother Julie gave me a cookie press that we have used multiple times with the dough from my Almond Shortbread Drizzle cookies.
- I made countless batches of refrigerator pickles, since our cucumber plants were especially prolific.
- I did a lot of sourdough baking, of course. My two favorite sweet bread recipes are hands-down cardamom knots and sourdough cardamom bread. But of course, I made a lot of my regular sourdough bread, english muffins, bagels, sourdough hamburger buns (paired with a fresh burger, this was arguably the year's favorite meal) and in recent weeks, sourdough biscuits.
My routine was essentially the same as it has been. I did get balayage on my hair again this year, twice, since I love the extra help with brightness. And my makeup continues to be minimal. I wore simple gold hoops for most of the year, just swapping out other minimal earrings when I felt like it.
I did try to incorporate a bit more of a sleep hygiene routine, including actually brushing my hair, and applying my absolute favorite basil and cardamom hand scrub that smells delicious before climbing into bed. I use TOUPS tallow balm on my face nearly daily when I need a little more moisture and I tried solid lotion bars (you apply before completely drying off after a shower) and I love those too.
I listened to a lot of Daily Playlists on Spotify, since they tended to suit whatever musical mood I was in, along with lots of soothing jazz. Specifically, I spent a lot of time listening to Zach Winters, Marriane Beaulieu, Roo Panes, Noah Kahan, Paul Zach, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Fleet Foxes.
I listened most often when driving in the car, or over a speaker while cooking a meal in the kitchen.
I wasn't a particularly prolific reader (again) this year, but I did enjoy the books I did read. Most notably, All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes and Hannah Coulter by Wendall Berry. Towards the end of the year, I started reading Anne of Green Gables, and I'm still partway through, but it is delightful.
Movies, TV, and other things we watched
We went on a date to see the newest Mission Impossible movie (MI–7), which was so fun! As for TV Shows we watched, my favorites were All Creatures Great and Small, Slow Horses, and Severance.
Since I do watch a fair amount of YouTube, I wrote about my favorite knitting/creative-themed vlog or video style podcasts here (another favorite I missed on that list is Hannah G Knits). And the channel that Nicholas and I enjoy watching the most together is still Simple Living Alaska.
In the spring, we drove out to Ohio for Nicholas' grandpa's funeral and to celebrate his life and legacy. What a sweet time with family celebrating his promotion to glory.
After four years away, we finally visited Austin, Texas! We lived in the Austin area before Cooper was born, and we hadn't been back since we moved, so we were overdue. It was Cooper and Finn's first time flying and they did great. We stayed with our friends Jessica and Shawn, and also saw friends Rachael and Brian, and Andrew. Oh, so special to spend time with our Texas friends in person. It was a fun trip with a lot of sweet moments.
In July, we spent a long weekend visiting our dear friends, Kyle and Maeve, at their farm in Southern Indiana. The boys played, we toured their farm, ate the freshest veggies, went to church and a fun, local park with them, and visited their neighbor who raises pastured pigs. The company was wonderful, as was the food. Such a fun weekend!
- We went on a little day trip to South Bend, and it was so fun! After an errand to Best Buy, we stopped at a local coffee shop and Trader Joe's.
- We went on visits to local parks on winter days, as a family, all bundled up, and then came home for hot cocoa on the stovetop.
- In the spring, we visited more parks, took our first family bike ride all together, had picnics, and played in the backyard.
- In June, the weekend of the anniversary of my mother-in-law's passing, we went to the beach, because it was something she loved, and it felt so nice to celebrate her life with some of her other favorite things that weekend.
- We went to a local water park as a family, for the first time. It was one very frequented by Nicholas and his family as a kid, so it was nostalgic, and the day was so much fun!
- We went to a local apple orchard in September, visited Great Grandpa's farm and picked from his and Aunt Brenda and Uncle Neil's garden, and went to a few celebrations with friends.
In April, my parents and brother came for a visit, and we went for a hike with budding trees and sunlight, read lots of books, and celebrated my brother's and Finn's birthdays.
My family visited again in July–we grilled burgers and served them on sourdough buns, ate raw milk vanilla ice cream, went for a walk and a hike and went to church, and celebrated Cooper's birthday. Per usual, there was a lot of book reading and flashlight play (with Cooper).
In October, my family came for a fall visit. We went for a very long hike with the boys at a local National Park and marveled at the beautiful gold fall color. We had a fire and made s'mores, and my brother taught Cooper how to play Pooh sticks.
Our friend Andrew visited us at our new house in December, and we went for a hike at a local arboretum, worked on puzzles, watching movies, and took the boys bowling for the first time!
Finances, practical things, and home projects
We paid off our truck, just before purchasing our new home, so now this mortgage is our only debt. I did a better job at keeping houseplants alive, and many of them even thrived!
Nicholas made a new butcher-block desk for himself (using a sit-stand frame), and finished it meticulously. It's beautiful!
Big life events
While I anticipated that this year would bring a slower pace and not too much transition, that wasn't entirely true.
- We celebrated the life of Nicholas' Grandpa Friend
- I turned thirty-three, and sewed a dress for myself, and wrote about all the things most important to me now, at this age.
- In November, we sold our house, and I wrote an ode to our family's first house, and all the life we lived within those walls (and it was where Finn was born!)
- And right after Thanksgiving, we moved to a new house!
Living in light of the seasons
- I wrote about winter adventuring and our intention to be outside as much as we can in the "off-season."
- In this post, I talk about the emergence of spring, and all the hope and expectation that it brings – more daylight, and the joy of new life, and the ease of going outside when it's warmer (and the joy of bubbles and little boys!)
- I wrote about daily life in the context of summery days: playing with the swing set and the water hose, starting our garden, running barefoot, and the scent of lilacs blooming.
- In this post about our garden, I shared about all I grew, what was in bloom at the time (in June), and all about the joys of gardening with the little boys. I so enjoyed seeing what was new in the garden, each day.
- One of my favorite posts this year was The Five Senses of August.
- I enjoyed the hot weeks of early September with some canning, beach trips, very warm hikes with friends, and sock knitting.
- We went for several fall hikes, to see fall color in our area
- In December, after we moved and in the midst of unpacking, we decorated the new house for Christmas and visited the big tree in our city's central park, hot latte in hand. And I wrote about little festive things we managed to do that month, in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
- And we celebrated Christmas with Nicholas' family here on the actual day, and with my family in early January (not technically in 2023, but adjacent to Christmas 2023, so I wanted to include it here!)
I wrote about the little joys of Cooper at 3.5 years old, and Finn at 10 months old. I shared about how much of life is just little, daily things, and how there is so much opportunity to apologize and extend grace to my children and myself on difficult days. Finn turned one! And I reminisced about our sweet rainbow baby. Cooper turned four, and what a joy he is at four. He was my biggest helper in the garden this year, and he is hilarious and sweet and smart.
I wrote about smoothie dates with my boys, and a lot of the little joys in a "life lately" post in July – fireworks, and trying out our new backyard fire pit, visits to the county fair and local parks, puzzles with Cooper and dancing with both boys to their CD player.
One of my very favorite things to do with the boys is to walk a local trail we've dubbed "the hiking trail." I wrote about it here, after a particularly beautiful visit in the fall.
I loved seeing the ongoing growth of the friendship between the boys, as well. We always say, "Brother stick together," and we have seen so much sweetness in the way they love each other.
Being a mother has been incredibly refining to my heart, and rewarding to the highest degree. What a gift and a privilege I have been entrusted with.
Love and marriage
When we visited Texas in the spring, my friend Jessica watched the boys and we got to have the sweetest date with the best food at our favorite restaurant there, Picnik.
I wrote my annual love letter to Nicholas on his birthday in January. We celebrated TEN years of marriage in August with dinner out on the patio at a favorite restaurant, a drive past the sunset over Lake Michigan, and a shared coffee to bring home.
In September, Nicholas and I went to a formal wedding, just the two of us. It was fun to dress up, celebrate his coworker and his wife, and meet many other coworkers over a great meal. And since it was in Chicago, we had a lot of time in the car to spend together. It was our first "big evening away" since Finn's birth and we enjoyed it so much, and also enjoyed coming home to snuggle our boys that night.
We navigated parenting together, went on many family walks, listened to lots of jazz music, ate many grass-fed burgers on homemade sourdough buns, and shared lots of fika together this year. And long car rides with you are one of my very favorite things.
- I wrote about the coexistence of joy and grief
- When we visited Texas, after years away (and two kids later), I wrote, "Isn't that how all our lives are, when we revisit homes of our former selves? Acutely aware of different daily worries and joys, different circumstances to pray for help and to praise. All affording opportunities to witness God's faithfulness to us in whatever life looks like for us then and now." I am thankful for the joy of visiting and the joy of returning home.
- I am learning to love the days that are right in front of me: "These are the days of homemade pickles in the fridge, hydrangeas just beginning to bloom, catching fireflies, making first waterpark memories, stealing sweet moments with just Nicholas and I, falling into bed tired and happy and grateful. Thank you, God, for these days, right now. These very days we're living in."
- I wrote about my love for the seasons, and how I am learning I need to temper my desire to peer ahead always: "Each of these seasons is dear to me in many ways. And while my enjoyment is evident, my anticipation for the next thing can overwhelm my ability to be present and content. [...] I don't want to have my eyes peering so intently on the horizon that I miss the wonder of what (and who!) is right at my feet, or in my arms, or beside me." And I shared about some practical things I wanted to put into place to keep me present and grounded, ultimately giving God the glory for it all.
Thank you, Lord for another year on this earth. For family and community and the gift of your Son, Jesus. For the seasons in your creation, and the hope of the heaven!
Happy new year, friends! If you want to read previous "year-in-review" posts, here is a link to all my previous Year-in-Review posts since 2015.
Get the latest posts delivered to your inbox