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.




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

18 Comments on “farewell 2015 // year in review + changes ahead”

  1. This brought tears to my eyes as well. You are an amazing woman Em. Lana is lucky to have such an amazing Momma and Chris is lucky to have you as his partner. I love you, MA!

    1. Such kind words, thanks Whit. I can tell you with absolute certainty that these first 8 months would have been far more challenging without your guidance and support — personally, of course, and professionally. Truly invaluable. Love you, too. MAH!

  2. Nice. So true that first year is a whammy. You summed it up well as you always do with a nice touch of humor.
    Have faith, you will cook again. I was terrified that I’d lost the ability to cook due to the constant presence of a Bambina in one arm. She is still almost always in one arm, but the cooking has picked up again. The recipes are limited by time and easy ingredients, but I cook again!
    I was told childbirth is like walking a labyrinth, you spiral in through your pregnancy and then you spiral out as your baby grows. It’s not an even time span (way more than 9 months to spiral out), but the analogy works. Paths and activities shut off but only to reemerge later, changed but available.
    Good luck, and good wishes. We’re moving too, and contemplating another addition to the family. Cheers to new adventures!

    1. Wow, the labyrinth metaphor, Katie — absolutely. I’ve never heard that, but I’m sure I will steal it to share with others! Best wishes to you as you make your move — and work out the potential addition. It’s hard to fathom life with more than one, but I’m sure we, too, will get the itch eventually. 🙂 Happy New Year!

  3. Happy new year! I love your blog – the recipes are just awesome and since I became pregnant I’ve been doing a bit of baby stalking too 🙂 Our little boy is due at the beginning of February so I’m hoping to make some of your freezer meals if I get the time! xox

    1. Stalk away, Kate!! I did plenty of that, myself, when I was pregnant (still do, too!). And congrats, if I haven’t said it already! I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you this, but Feb will be here before you know it! And then the last week or so before you’re due, it’ll slow waaaaaaaaaay down. 😉 Feel free to send me an email if you want more deets on what did and didn’t work out the best from that freezer post. (Generally speaking, it all came in super handy, but some things we looked forward to more than others…) Happy 2016!

  4. Beautiful words Em. I love reading your blog. I find the way you write and share your thoughts so relatable and soothing in some way…that sounds sort of odd, but what I am trying to say is that your writing feels like home. Witty and funny while also being serious & full of heart all at once. Happiest and healthiest 2016 to you all! Godspeed with the move.
    P.S. congrats on the food & wine feature!

    1. You are so kind, Kathryn. “…feels like home” that’s about the best compliment I can think of. Talk about making my New Year! 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and always contributing to the conversation. All the best to you in the year to come! Hugs!! <3 <3 <3

  5. I love this so, so much, Em. Thank you for taking us on the journey that 2015 has been and for sharing the joy that is precious Lana (CANNOT. get. over. those. eyes) with us. That picture of the three of you is everything and sums up so much love and all of the wonderful things I love about P&Q all in one. So excited to keep pigging with you through 2016!!!!!! Yay for everything coming your way (with a touch of “eep” for moving)! PS But just let me say it again omgherbigeyes.

    1. Cynthia!!! So glad to hear from you, and as always, your sweet words warm my heart. We are mildly (read: completely, totally, wholly) obsessed with gazing at her little face — I do it all day, in fact! — so I feel you on those eyes. They’re gonna get her into (and, I bet, out of) a lot of trouble when she’s older! I can definitely wait for that day… ah. Here’s hoping your 2016 is absolutely amazing, though I know 2015 will be a tough one to beat. (Oh hai, Hawaiian wedding, hard to top that!!) Can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store, as well. Hugs to you and B2!

    1. Thank you, Kate! (And yes, we love our little stir-fried Lana!) Same to you and your family in the New Year. Cheers! <3

    1. AT LEAST 15 minutes, right? 😉 (Though that’s soooo much easier said than done…) Happy 2016 to you! And THANK YOU!

  6. It’s been such a wonderful year! Lana is just the sweetest and I am so glad I finally got to meet you in person last year 🙂 Yay for moving to a bigger place… though definitely lots of nostalgia! Enjoy the rest of Chris’ paternity leave!

    1. It HAS been a wonderful year, Alice! So nice meeting you, too — and thank you so kindly for always engaging and following along here! Hope 2016 is amazing for you!

  7. Thank you for your Year in Review. It is so heartwarming and I am so excited for what 2016 brings to you and your beautiful family

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