Before I begin, I must confess that this post is a gratuitous attempt to encourage readers to revisit (or maybe visit for the first time) some of my favorite bits and pieces from Radiator Tunes throughout the past year. I was inspired by Olivia's 2010 review on Everyday Musings (as so often seems to be the case on this blog) but, as I emulated her blog-centric summary of an entire year, I found myself truly enjoying the process of revisiting the past 12 months' posts, surveying my progress as a blogger, and reminding myself of all I have experienced in a single year.
Sometimes I worry that my blog is a futile attempt at reaching out to others or making my stamp on the world. Though I may not always achieve these goals of impacting others, blogging offers me a method of capturing my life at different points in time, immortalizing the particular thoughts and feelings that I have at particular times so I can revisit, and maybe even re-experience, them later. Even if no one else reads this entire post or gains anything by it, the process of constructing it was a productive and empowering way to end 2011 for me as a blogger, aspiring writer, and explorer of the world.
Mike and I gorged ourselves on addictive Barbecue Venison Meatballs and delicious Chai Latte Brownies. I learned all about Farm Together Now, a book profiling sustainable agriculture projects across the country, when one of it's authors, Daniel Tucker, spoke in Baltimore. Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood was added to my list of favorite fiction and I became more familiar with Margret Atwood too.
I experimented with peanut butter and chocolate in hot, sip-able forms. My Easy Peanut Butter Cup Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa with Peanut Butter Whipped Cream were recreated all winter long. More chocolate was consumed on World Nutella Day, February 5th, a holiday I discovered for the first time in 2011 and have every intention of celebrating on an annual basis!
I finally followed Sarah's recommendation and got around to reading Tracy Kidder's book Mountains Beyond Mountains which documents the unbelievably inspiring story of tireless Dr. Paul Farmer whose mission is to fundamentally transform the world through his medical knowledge and generosity.
Mike and I watched (and loved) Spooner, a delightful and quirky little girl-meets-boy film and we also traveled to New York City where we saw Louie C.K. at Caroline's on Broadway and ate the most delicious Nutella-topped donuts. February was a month of gorgeous sunsets too - if only I wasn't trying to capture them on my commute home!
March was a month of learning, social justice, books galore! The 8th marked International Women's Day, a fitting time to spread the message of Alta Gracia, a clothing factory whose employees earn uncommonly livable wages and whose standards are some of the highest in the industry.
I learned how to make vegetable stock from kitchen scraps, an unbelievably economical and easy recipe from which thousands of dishes can be made, though my efforts to create red velvet donuts were slightly less successful. Mike and I took our first trip to Dangerously Delicious, Baltimore's very own pie shop where we got dessert for our wedding just a few months later.
Reading material included Pat Croce's I Feel Great and You Will Too!, Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, Kristin Kimball's The Dirty Life, and Half the Sky by husband-wife duo Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
Florence and the Machine earned honors as one of my new favorite bands and the incredible zero-waste family inspired a few changes my own household, like vermicomposting!
They say that April showers bring May flowers, but I was too impatient and shared some of my favorite floral photography a month early. Photographers Wolfgang Tillmans and Gary Winogrand were also paid plenty of due respect for their art, as well as my favorite Ansel Adams on Earth Day. In other realms of art and culture, Mike and I saw two excellent movies, Win Win and I Love You Phillip Morris, plus my old favorite The Boys Are Back.
I discovered Breast Cancer Action, an awesome California-based non-profit that forces corporations and the American people to recognize the carcinogenic nature of our lifestyles. Gnudi made for some happy eating, followed up by delicious dump cake.
May was a huge month in my life, but not so much for Radiator Tunes. Mike and I got married on the 15th of May atop Federal Hill in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Our ceremony took place beneath beautiful blue skies, though the rain later poured down during our reception at the American Visionary Art Museum. Final wedding preparations and settling down from all the excitement took up most of my time, leaving little for innovative blogging.
I did, however, manage to get in some gardening, a little bit of ogling over other wonderful weddings, a lengthy meditation on the world inspired by John Lennon and Eve Ensler, and some musical inspiration to kick off our road trip honeymoon.
By June, Mike and I were road tripping through New England (posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 about the honeymoon here!) and welcoming our new dog Louie into our small family! E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful, Brianna Carp's The Girl's Guide to Homelessness, and Making It: Radical Home-Ec for a Post-Consumer World were awesome reading material too!
July was a celebratory month, starting off with the Fourth and some delicious mixed berry cup-pies, followed by a Christmas in July feast, and ending it all with a one-year blog anniversary. I drank oodles of mint tea from fresh mint leaves, finally made some kale chips, and ate oh-so-well thanks to the mid-summer farmer's market. Sarah and I took a delightful trip to Cylburn Arboretum which has quickly become one of my very favorite places in Baltimore City.
Meditation became a hallmark of my days by the end of summer, tons of fresh vegetables were harvested from the garden, and the yearnings for fall began with some Pumpkin Challah Bread and a Pumpkin Flatbread.
The end of the month was time for a lovely and relaxing vacation to Deep Creek Lake with the family where I lost myself in David Nicholls' novel One Day and Torsten Kroll's Callisto, kayaked as often as I pleased, and soaked up the last days of summer.
I tortured myself watching the trailer for the film Like Crazy over and over, had an awesome time getting all decked out for an 80's cover band concert, consumed more and more pumpkin treats, made the most of my foray into the world of professional dogwalking, and loved reading Amy Waldman's 9/11 novel The Submission.
The arrival of fall was ripe with excitement around here, as well as birthday celebrations, and reservations about Racing for the Cure. I found myself moved by the stories shared on We Are the 99 Percent's Tumblr account and completely absorbed by Warren St. John's account of a refugee soccer team in the book Outcasts United. Spaghetti squash and Nutella-covered pecan pie were on the menu all month long!
GIVERS provided the soundtrack to my month while I spent much of my time tackling Murakami's incredibly visionary novel 1Q84. I finally saw Like Crazy come November to a mostly positive response. I learned all about Upcycling and went on a bit of a rant about the inability of so many people to think in upcycling, reducing, reusing, and recycling terms. Thanksgiving was a wonderful day of feasting, family, and more positive thoughts, one from which I recovered with healthful fruit smoothies.
The last month of the year was chock full of holiday goodness. From craft projects for the home, like this Baby Sock Advent Calendar and a wreath made of ornaments, to generous gift ideas, Christmas was in full swing. I checked out the lights on 34th Street with my mom and sister for the first time in years, listened to Christmas tunes galore, and re-watched some of my favorite holiday films, including The Family Stone.
I also became a huge fan of Bill McKibben and tried out some amazing new recipes, including these Brown-Sugar Glazed Carrots, Apple Butter Brownies, and Chai Concentrate.