2016 was quite a year, chock full of extremes, and bringing with it intense joys and sorrows. Although it is tempting to rush into 2017 without a moment’s pause, I thought it might be cathartic to look back on the year that was. Mostly, I want to say thank you for being here this year. Your comments, emails and support have meant the world to me and I greatly appreciate this community. Travel: It was a year of incredible travel, starting with a family trip to Jamaica in February. Shortly after, over Easter weekend, I took a solo trip to NYC while my family all met up elsewhere (I couldn’t get enough time off of work to join them). It was an interesting year, trying to balance a working schedule with so many travel opportunities. There were trips that I missed out on, and others that we squeezed into a long weekend. Somehow we always find a way to make it work, and with big travel plans on the horizon for 2017, that’s a trend I see continuing! In May we attending the most incredible Indian wedding in Vienna. The entire experience still feels like something out of a fairytale. I’m pretty confident that this will go down as the most extravagant wedding we will ever attend in our lifetime. The summer found me traveling the coasts for my Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet book tour, which was such an incredible experience. My favorite destinations included San Francisco and Seattle. While in Seattle, I also had a chance to visit Floret Flower Farm, which was definitely a highlight of my year. The beauty and abundance of this small farm is nearly indescribable. I returned home with just enough time to pack up and jump back on a plane to Michigan where I spent the month of July with my family at our cottage in Northern Michigan. July is always my favorite month of the year, and Torch Lake is where my heart is most at home. In September we met up with my parents in NYC for a quick trip, where we watched the US Open and toured the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Once the school year started, our schedule kicked into high gear. But I did manage to sneak in a few more trips, one to NYC for a food photography workshop… and another to the British Virgin Islands where I was shooting the first annual Caribbean Food Festival on Peter Island. In November, we traveled to Chicago for Thanksgiving (I never even got around to posting that trip!). And I wrapped up the year with the most relaxing and restorative girl’s weekend on Cape Cod, right before heading home to Michigan for the Christmas break. Looking back there was so much adventure, coupled with incredible opportunities. It was a year where I felt accomplished in my professional life, releasing my third book, Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet, which received such positive feedback and press, and landing a sponsored book tour with Vitamix and HawaiianShavedIce.com. I continued to write for a wide variety of publications, and also balanced my writing career with a part-time job at my boy’s school. There was plenty of knitting and sewing to be done, although not all of it made it onto the blog. Despite all of the joy, for our family 2016 will go down as a year of heartbreak. My beloved mother dealt with crushing depression, a side-effect of her worsening Parkinson’s Disease. We tried our best to rally around her during her darkest moments, but we all felt incredibly helpless and watching her suffer was so painful. I’ll be writing a bit more about that journey in the weeks to come. But if there is one positive (and trust me, it is a stretch to find a positive) it is that the journey through her mental illness gifted me with such clarity. It brought into focus that which is important in this life, and that which is not worthy of my time. By the end of the year, I found myself saying no to additional work and instead using every spare minute to spend time with my family. My boys are growing up so fast and they are my ultimate joy in this life. As I look ahead to 2017 I am prioritizing time spent with my family, health, and happiness. I wish you so much peace and love in the coming year. Let’s hope it is a great one!