farewell 2015 // year in review + changes ahead

This morning while cleaning out my recipe notebook, which inevitably also happens to be my catchall for grocery lists, to-do’s and expired Bed Bath & Beyond coupons, I found the note cards we used to jot down dimensions when we were planning Lana’s nursery space. And I started crying. Happy tears, because I recall so clearly our joy and anticipation and the sheer excitement of the unknown as we detailed the perfect nook in which to raise and comfort our tiny unborn babe. And sad tears, too, for the tiny babe she no longer is and those early days that are already starting to fade away and, truth of all truths, for the parts of me I left behind when I became our sweet girl’s momma. It’s been 8 months since Lana has so completely changed our world for the better, and in all that time, I’ve taken maybe 15 collective minutes to fully realize how I’ve transformed as an individual — and, moreover, how I feel about that transformation. I’m both more me and less me than I’ve ever been, and in these rare moments when I stop to really connect with that realization, it’s confusing as hell.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: what a year it’s been.

#littlelanajamesI don’t have a recipe prepared today. In fact, I haven’t cooked in my own kitchen in almost two weeks, but I couldn’t let the last of 2015 slip by without recognizing all the changes behind us — and taking a quick peek at changes ahead.

Here on the blog, I whipped up a freezeable feast that kept us incredibly well fed during those first few weeks at home with baby. (I owe you a follow-up, I know I know…) I worked a little more with brands that I feel really, really good about, even hopping on the other side of the camera for a stint. I was completely humbled when half the internet showed up at my surprise virtual baby shower, and once little Lana came to be, I eagerly turned over the P&Q to some of my favorite gals, who graciously offered guest content (bacon soup and sammies! peking duck poutine!) so I could snuggle and nurse and cuddle our nug. Round about the second half of the year, I dropped dairy from my diet and ended up concocting some of my favorite recipes to-date (oh haaaaai vegan caramel sauce), but not before hell froze over and I celebrated my third year of blogging with mini layer cakes. There were salads for all seasons (love these summer/winter numbers, in particular). There were tacos, and there was spam. Yahoo Food wrote all about my love story with Chris and our love story with food, and I fell down dead when Food & Wine regrammed my pumpkin pie shakes. (Just kidddddddding, I’m aliiiiiiiiiive…..)

Maui BabeAs for the year ahead, I’ll keep plugging away at more of what I know best. Sharing recipes for the real, accessible, and mostly responsible foods we cook and eat on the daily — and the accompanying stories that you could sometimes do without (sorry). Maybe I’ll even follow through with incorporating a few more lifestyle posts about home life with the babe, if that doesn’t scare too many folks away. That recipe archive I promised a year ago might finally come to be. And I’ve always wanted Chris to make a guest appearance around here, so maybe 2016 is the year for that. 😉

On the home front, we’ll be frontloading the New Year with lots of family time (and maybe a getaway or two) as Chris clings to his last few weeks of paternity leave. Preparing to celebrate Lana’s first birthday, which will undoubtedly be here well before I’m ready (and with it, its own hazy fog of bipolar mommy emotions).

Oh yes, and moving. Did I mention?

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/littlelanajames/Just ten minutes or so up the road, but into a larger home with way more room for baby than our current one-bedroom abode, cozy as it may be. In fact, I’m sure that’s yet another reason the nursery measurements triggered the waterworks. This tiny, cramped house has been our home for more than five years. Of all the places we’ve ever lived together, Chris and I have lived here the longest. Much in the way that Ohio helped me redefine the idea of home, this little house has in every way become my definition of comfort. Chris and I joke that we’ll tell Lana “when you were born, our home was so small you could vacuum the whole house from a single outlet” — and it’s true. But we’ll also share stories of slumber parties with friends on the living room floor; the smell of redwoods in the side yard after a rain; and, ohhhh, but the stove. I will mourn your loss, my sweet Wedgewood friend. Farewell.

And so it is that I also say farewell to 2015, you wholly transformative year, you.
Until next year, dear friends, and all that comes with it. Thank you for everything.

xo,
Em

#littlelanajames

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OH! before you go…

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no-bake vegan mini pb+j cheesecakes
holiday panzanella with duck-fat roasted croutons, winter citrus + hazelnuts