2017 In Review

Photos

Here are my “best nine” photos from 2017 on Instagram (as with last year, only one photo is not of food):

Here are my favorite 2017 photos from Flickr:

Best of 2017

Life in Philly

This was my 6th year in Philly. At the end of the year, I finally succeeded in finding a different job, so that will change my experience in Philly going forward. At the end of the year we also lost Tom’s mother suddenly, which has meant not only a great deal of grieving but also potential changes in our routine as it comes to our relationship with the Northeast. I had oral surgery early in the year, which went OK. Thankfully it was just a benign cyst, but the surgery did result in permanent nerve damage; I still have sensation in the roof of my mouth, but it’s like having “pizza mouth” all the time. I had half-days on Fridays during the summer, which gave me some much needed time for some self care. And, though we have yet to use the grill, we have tried to take better advantage of our building’s patio, relaxing there with adult beverages and our Kindles when time allows. We did get out and about a little bit, including the frog exhibit at The Academy, as well as a Phillies-Dodgers game at Citizens Bank. Toward the end of the year, we took several Schuylkill River cruises (including visiting Bartram’s Garden for the first time), as well as a South Street walking tour led by our friend Marcus.

Philadelphia 2017

Staycation 2017

Travel

It didn’t seem like much, but we did get in a bit of travel this year.

In January, I went to Atlanta by myself for a work conference. While I was there, I visited my BFF Suzie and marched in the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women.

ALA Midwinter 2017 (Atlanta, GA)

In early March, we were so very fortunate to go to California for my cousin Hallie’s wedding. This was my favorite weekend of the year by far. Not only did we get to stay in Carpinteria, one of our favorite places in the world, and not only was the wedding itself spectacular, but we also got to spend a day in Santa Ynez wine country and have dinner at The Hitching Post. And, to top things off, our flight back to Philly got canceled due to a storm, and we got to stay an extra day in LONG BEACH. Best canceled flight ever!

California 2017

In late March, we went to Baltimore so that Tom could attend a work conference, and I tagged along. We had a lovely time with our friend Dale and enjoyed exploring the Federal Hill neighborhood.

Baltimore 2017

In August, we traveled to Washington, DC while I attended a work conference. We really liked where we stayed and enjoyed exploring new stuff in Penn Quarter, which had changed quite a bit since the last time we stayed in that part of town.  I was also glad to go to Zaytinya for their mezze lunch (a much-needed do-over since the last time I was there).

USETDA 2017 (Washington, DC)

I made it to New York City for the first time since moving to Philadelphia six (!) years ago, not only once but twice. In late June we went up to NYC to meet up with Erika, David, and Ella to attend a Mets game and as a bonus, got to go to the Guggenheim Museum. Later in the year, now that I knew how to navigate MegaBus, I went back to meet up with my friends Heather and Melissa.

New York 2017

Dining In

For the first few months of the year, I was fortunate to do recipe testing for my friend’s new food blog, A Good Carrot. Not only was it all delicious, healthy food, but having to make all this food on a schedule got me much more in the practice of meal planning.

Throughout the year, we enjoyed trying new recipes from The Indian Family Kitchen, a cookbook I had received from my brother last Christmas. Part way through the year, we bought another influential cookbook, The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, which was on sale on Kindle at the time. We made just about all of our holiday recipes from this book and really enjoyed it.

I suppose it’s notable that I joined the State Store’s wine club. Eh, the last thing I want to do is give them more of my money. But I do like wine showing up at my door, and this way I try some more mid-priced bottles that I wouldn’t ordinarily find at my local store. It’s been hit or miss, but I’ll see it out over the course of a year and see how it goes.

I continued to keep a Google Calendar of all of our meals for the past year. However, this year I have no desire to analyze the data for any trends. Sorry.  Without looking too closely at the data, I would say we continued last year’s trend of eating in most of the time, eating out less than we had in previous years. I also think we continued last year’s trend of trying 1-2 new recipes per week. I can certainly say, we continued our trend of having about 1 chicken recipe per week, with plenty of new recipes tried in addition to repeated recipes. Really there was so much good cooking, it’s hard to pick anything that stands out – see my 2017 monthly blog posts and photos below:

Dining in 2017

Dining Out

Highlights for dining out this year included:

Dining Out 2017

DIY

Most of my projects this year were part of the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, as I learned a lot about canning, and continued to experiment with fermentation. The bulk of my recipes came from

Not everything was successful. I tried sprouting, but didn’t really enjoy the results. I tried fermenting soy beans to make soy sauce and miso, both of which failed. I learned that I don’t really care for marmalade, jelly, or shrubs (too much sugar!)

Big winners were tomato jam, pimenta moida, salsa verde, wine-soaked carrots, spicy green beans, peach chutney, canned peaches, and BBQ sauce. I was also pleased with how my homemade buttermilk and quark turned out.

Photo by Tom Ipri

Tom did a great job making bread from the cookbook I got him lat year. Highlights included white bread, pita, biscuits, and corn muffins.

Books

My year in books was significantly affected by my purchase of a Kindle, coupled with my use of the Free Library’s Overdrive subscription. I went way above my Goodreads goal and read 75 books, which is probably the most I’ve read since I was a kid in the library summer reading program. Highlights of the year were Assassin’s Fate (the end of the Fitz & the Fool trilogy, *sob*), Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky, Confederacy of Dunces, Binti and Binti Home, Strange the Dreamer (I love Laini Taylor!), Shades of Magic, Akata Warrior, and Deadhouse Landing. I’m continuing to enjoy Star Wars canon novels, especially Ahsoka and Bloodline. Sadly it’s kind of hard to read physical books now, once you get spoiled with being able to adjust the type size and being able to read in the dark.

Here is my GoodReads year in books: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2017/131968

2017 Goals Redux

Getting a new job was more of a long term goal, but glad it was finally able to happen.

From last year’s goals, here’s what I DID do:

  • Continue to make things, try more canning – YES
  • Send birthday cards in the mail – YES
  • Continue trying to bring lunches to work – YES
  • Make more things from cookbooks, not just online recipes – YES
  • Invest in a Kindle and see if that helps me adjust to e-reading – YES
  • Keep up with meal planning and tracking – YES
  • Continue to make progress on paying off debt – YES

I think the cooking, canning, meal planning, and Kindle reading have been discussed already, so the main thing I’d like to focus on here is the birthday cards. I did this all 12 months of the year. I don’t regret it, but there are definitely some lessons learned. People are reluctant to give out their addresses these days, which I get, but it was depressing to be rebuffed. Some people also just don’t like mail, which I also found to be depressing. Then there are the male friends whose SOs feel threatened when I send them a bday card. ~sigh~ Bottom line is, despite some awkward interactions, this was mostly very positive, even if only a small handful of people really enjoyed getting a birthday card in the mail, as far as I know. In a very small few cases, it resulted in some continued email or snail mail correspondence, which I enjoyed. Overall it was very expensive, since good cards are not cheap, and I had to buy a lot of stamps (no regrets about that, though). I’d like to keep doing this, but perhaps scale back now that I know who actually appreciated it.

Here’s what I did kinda, but not really:

  • Call politicians – I did this a little, but not enough
  • Try to have more non-social-media interactions with people, whether that’s email, hand written letters, phone calls, etc. – Sort of, but I could do a lot more

Here’s what I didn’t do:

  • Get in the habit of using the work gym at least once a week – NO
  • Blog more on SuperPlus Eats – NO
  • Take more people pictures – NO

2018

It will be interesting to see what’s in store for this year. There is a lot to learn and adjust to with my new job. For work, I’ll be traveling to Denver and Washington, DC, but that’s all I know so far. For pleasure, we’ll be traveling to the SF bay area for a wedding, so I hope we can make a nice California trip out of that. It will be Tom’s 50th birthday this year – we won’t be taking a big trip, but we will be splurging on a nice dinner.  At the beginning of the year, I signed up for a few new wine clubs, so I look forward to seeing how those work out.

Here are my informal “ideas” for next year:

  • continue making things from cookbooks (physical or kindle). If stumped, look to past recipe success, as well as NYT and LA Times
  • continue canning/preserving, this time more focused on practical winter staples and improving techniques, in addition to experimenting
  • continue to make progress with debt
  • figure out a workout schedule – may need to wait until I’m working from home 1 day a week
  • invest more in “home office” though it won’t be tax deductible
  • do something about the furniture situation in apartment
  • continue to send cards, branch out into postcards & letters, maybe even phone calls.
  • continue reading
  • take more people pictures
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