As I touch base with friends, family and coworkers, I've been particularly aware of people sharing what gifts they received for the holiday, and asking me what Miss Chef and I had given each other. Several times I had to stop and think about it, because I was truly focused on the best gift of the year: the three days off that Miss Chef and I had together. As in, at the same time. With no major projects, trips or to-do lists to take up our time. Just three days of doing what we wanted, when we felt like it.
To recap briefly, we had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner at our favorite restaurant; a quiet Christmas morning at home--including phone calls to distant family--and a very fun evening with good friends over another truly fabulous Miss Chef Christmas dinner (duck breast, mushroom risotto, sautéed veggies, and an orange-infused olive oil cake, for the droolers among you). Boxing day was mostly at home, though we were fantastically lucky to be able to pick up a "new" hand-me-down living room set from those same friends. (Who says cooks are poorly paid for their labors, lol?)
As a result, I felt only the slightest desire to sit down and blog about my Christmas. But I thought it was about time to share a belated "Merry Christmas" and/or and early "Happy New Year" with my blog buddies, so I've been pondering what I could share with you all in the absence of my usual pictures. At the same time, a belated Christmas card in my mailbox reminded me today that my "real-life" friends and family never received any cards from me this year, something which I've half a mind to remedy...
So, in the spirit of killing two birds with one stone, I invite you to share in an ad hoc, ad lib Holiday Newsletter, in which I review all the fabulous events of 2011 here in Flartopia--complete with (mostly) previously unposted pictures!
In January, I invited my father to write a guest post about his experience undergoing a heart transplant--and you all responded so warmly that it warmed the cockles of my mother's heart (and mine too, of course).
Also, it snowed.
February brought the results of Rosie's DNA test, revealing a complicated mix that makes the chances of finding another Rosie quite slim indeed. Another reason to appreciate her all the more.
February also began months of a new obsessiveness for me: it was in that month that I bought plane tickets for London and made the first steps in renting an apartment in Paris, for our trip in June/July!
March was rough...I was working long hours, fighting off the dregs of winter and frustrated with another computer crash. True to form, though, March finally left like a lamb, with me reveling in another hopeful spring.
Of course, there was always our Big Trip to London and Paris to continue
focusing on obsessing over...
In April, we began a months-long love affair with the US National Whitewater Center, taking full advantage of our year-long memberships to enjoy hiking, kayaking and the occasional whitewater rafting adventure.
We also made our first memorable trip of the year: a weekend in Charleston. Miss Chef was attending a conference for culinary educators, and I spent a day and a half becoming rather familiar with the sidewalks of the historic district.
(I also considered this a bit of a warm-up for The Big Trip.)
May found me out on the Catawba River in a kayak again, up for more adventures...
...and trolling TripAdvisor for London pub and Paris café recommendations.
Finally, June rolled around and we were OFF!
London was a learning experience for both of us, and we only scratched the surface. I knew Paris much better, and had a pretty clear idea what Miss Chef and I wanted to and could do. Still, our visit to Giverny was eye-opening, and for me was the highlight of that week.
|For anyone who wants to know, this is my favorite photo from the whole trip.|
It wasn't until August that I got my head out of the clouds and realized I was back in Charlotte. That and the month that followed were fairly quiet, though we did continue to enjoy our USNWC memberships.
"Enjoy" sometimes being a relative term...
October was, of course, our surprise anniversary trip to Flat Rock, on the eastern slopes of the Appalachians.
November brought me an unrequited love.
Which brings us back to December...and a familiar face who returned for the holidays.
Yes, Smoky the cat is back for a visit! After a day of hesitation and hissing, she's happy as ever, running laps through the house and launching soft-paw attacks from her couch fort.
Well, until we got that new living room set...which, having bigger and puffier pillows, is apparently better suited for napping.
She's still a pretty small cat; this picture's a bit misleading.
Oh look, Miss Chef is home! Time for me to enjoy another rare evening with her. Hope you all are heading into the new year with warm hearts and happy minds. Thanks for sticking around for another year in Flartopia!