2012 In Review

2012 was a pretty good year for me. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but without the bad, how can we appreciate the good? I’m going to stick with my format from last year’s New Year’s Eve post and talk about some of the most memorable things that have happened this year to me, in no particular order:

  • Traveled around the Baltic Sea region: If you didn’t read any of my posts on this summer’s cruise, you’re missing out! Go read them now. They’re all nicely labeled for you as “Part 1-8 Of My Scandinavian Adventures.” I visited seven countries in two weeks: Germany, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Denmark. It was a trip of a lifetime, and each time I go abroad I am consistently reminded at how very large this world is, with so many wonderful sights to see. Time to start planning next year’s adventure…
  • Running: I never thought I could even run a mile without stopping, but my lovely friend convinced me I could do it, and you know what? I can do it! Sometimes all you need is someone who can yell at you believes in you to help you get over your reluctance/fear about something. Of course I run very slowly, but I’m not planning on breaking any speed records anytime soon.
  • Visiting w/ old friends: Kind of explanatory, this bullet. While it is rather nice having friends scattered across countries and continents being very accessible with Skype and email, there’s nothing more satisfying than actually being with them in person. No video chat can ever replace the warmth of a hug, or replicate that warm fuzzy feeling of being in the presence of good friends.
  • Live concerts: Saw some fantastic live performances this year, including two Korean pop groups whose concerts nearly reduced me to flood of teenage hysterical tears. Nearly. But not quite. I do have a little shred of dignity in me. Judge me if you like for loving my K-pop, but I have long since decided that there’s no use being embarrassed about who or what I like. My friends (the heavy majority of whom could care less about K-pop) have long since learned to just humor my fangirling moments and gamely show interest when I babble about upcoming concerts.
  • I adopted 2 cats: I try to rein in my love for cats when I’m on this blog but if you didn’t know already, I love cats. Love love love. I don’t dislike dogs, but I will always be a cat person. I will also probably become a crazy cat lady later in life. I’ve got two cats now- only eight more until the craziness is official! I won’t go on and on about my kittens, but they have settled in quite nicely with my family and I can’t imagine life without them. And I’m now done raving about my cats.

Wishing all of you and yours a wonderful New Year! Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013. I can’t wait to make you an amazing year; I’ve got a couple big changes that I want to make happen. Let’s do this.

Feeling Blue

Last week I didn’t post because I was feeling blue- lots of small things built up and snowballed into a giant tummy-twisting knot of anxiety and frustration.  In the grand scheme of things, they were very minor.  Nobody was hurt, I did not lose anything significant, and I woke up in the morning the same person.  But once in a while you can’t help but feel sorry for yourself, so that’s what I did.  I wallowed around in self-pity for a bit, and then my wonderful friends and family helped me get on with my life.

And then I heard about the horrific shootings that occurred today in an elementary school in Connecticut, killing several children and adults and that (obviously) laid my insignificant complaints in the dust.

I’m not going to go on about gun control, because there are plenty of people online battling it out online, and I’m not one to throw myself into an internet brawl.  The world doesn’t need more people arguing when they should be offering comfort and support to those affected.

It’s sad now how so many people, emboldened by the relative anonymity the internet provides, go out and troll people for anything and everything.  More often than not, any site where comments are allowed usually have at least 2-3 users battling out over something that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.  (In fact, I’ve ceased to read YouTube video comments as I know that it will be a stupid argument over a trivial matter.)

This is the holiday season- we should be celebrating peace and harmony, not mourning the loss of innocent lives.  This incident and the other recent shootings puts into perspective once more at how easily a life can be taken, and how trivial other matters are compared to such a tragedy.

Though I don’t normally incorporate current news in my posts (simply because I am not terribly eloquent in writing responses to events and I don’t post often enough to keep up) I felt that writing my typically breezy post would be doing a disservice to those who are suffering.

San Francisco & Pumpkin Cookies

Back from my weekend trip up north and missing my friends like crazy already. But, there is one simple reason why I do not visit the Bay Area (San Francisco, for those of you non-California folks) more often, even though I love all my friends up there and wish I could see them more than once every few months. The weather is WAY too cold. And yes, even though I went to school in the north, I still consider anything below 70 degrees to be cold. Below 60 = freezing.

Of course, cold weather didn’t stop me from going out and about in the city and celebrating a friend’s birthday, though it made me very appreciative of the weather at home. Like that fact that I don’t have to wear 100 layers before going outside. And although I love having easy access to public transportation that can take me everywhere, I don’t appreciate having to walk 10 blocks up a hill to get back to the apartment (that’s just me being lazy- I haven’t run in over a month!!! Eeek- I gotta get somewhat back in shape so I can gain all the weight again come holiday time.)

Also, on an unrelated tangent, I spent too long at Sunday brunch with my cousin and cubby (see this post for definition of a cubby) and had to rush through the airport. (Why is it that every time you are late for a flight/transferring to another plane your gate is ALWAYS at the other end of the building?) Luckily a nice family let me cut the really long security line and I was wearing somewhat fashionable outfit (royal blue pajama shirt, black skinny jeans and black boots) to make up for the fact that I was that girl who ran through the terminal with hair flying, shoes half on, and sunglasses askew as she dashed onto the plane with 5 minutes to spare. I was definitely a hot mess.

At least cold weather means I can bake cookies and fill the house with their yummy scent and soft chewy goodness. For an office potluck, pumpkin cookies were requested and though I’ve never made them before, that has never stopped me from trying! Being the lazy baker I am, I kind of approximated the amount of some ingredients in order to accommodate lack of others, but I still think it tasted just fine, and I got plenty of compliments.

I used this recipe mostly because I just searched for something that looked really easy really yummy. I made two servings, but I’m glad I only made one serving of the glaze because it was more than enough to cover all the cookies- I’m not sure who would need to make double the amount of glaze- I guess if you wanted to completely frost your cookies, but then I’d rather just make actual frosting. The batter itself was very sticky (could be because I cut back a little on the butter in the hopes that I would be slightly healthier) so after a few failed attempts of using my hands to mould the cookies, I ended up using two spoons to scrape the dough together. An alternative and equally messy method would be to coat your hands in oil to keep the dough from clinging to your hands, but that seemed too bothersome for me. (I like to do things the easy way out, remember?)

When the cookies came out of the oven, I was slightly alarmed as they puffed up greatly and it looked like I had baked biscuits instead of cookies, but after they spent the night cooling, a lot of the air that had been puffed up in the pumpkin puree deflated the cookies, returning them to a somewhat more manageable size.

My pictures don’t do the cookies justice, but I have never been one to take photos as I’m baking/cooking. I don’t have the patience to make sure the lighting perfectly highlights the golden tint of the pumpkin and arrange cookies artfully on a plate. If that’s you, more power to you. I salute your powers of patience. Me, I’m more eager to finish the product and then commence eating 🙂

And yes, I realize that my cookies’ glaze looked like someone took a whiteout pen and scribbled all over them but cut me some slack- this was my first real attempt at dribbling glaze in an artful pattern! Besides, everyone knows that your food will never look as good as the ones in the book. 😉 (It’s actually kind of gross, the tricks food photographers use when they photograph dishes and such for books/magazines/articles.)