A Look Back and Goals for Moving Forward in 2012

The past year was more of a roller coaster than this gal is comfortable with. I feel good being able to say we rode it out and are in tact as a family, coming out of it even closer than before.

I'm really proud of the little organic garden I was able to muster up this past year and keep alive in the summer months, despite daily runs into Portland (hour and a half a way each way) to see my husband in the hospital. (I'm thankful for summer's long daylight hours in which I could still get the watering done!;)

A bumper crop of Strawberries in 2011
Prolific tomatoes, bush beans and zucchini
I'm also proud of keeping it together for my kids this year. You never really know how you are going to handle major life stresses, like a spouse becoming hospitalized and fighting for his life. My kids have been a buoy for me, forcing me to stay focused, keep things normalized despite the heavy stresses we faced. I'm no saint, I've had my fair share of loosing my cool, but overall, we made it, together.

Coming home to see sweet blooms helped kept my feet on the ground and nurtured my frazzled spirit. Here are some of my favorite flower pics from 2011.

Welcoming committee
Dragon's Eye Day Lily


Shasta Daisy's in the evening light

I'm proud that my vegetable garden despite the long, cold spring, produced about 40lbs of tomatoes, 60+lbs of strawberries, bush beans, potatoes, pumpkins, zucchini, snow peas, carrots, radishes, onions, spinach and lettuce. (May I just add that homegrown potatoes are incredible?)

However, the biggest accomplishment I made this year is the realization that we can make it on one income and I can let go of prized luxuries like a car.  I'm really proud that my husband and I (after I could get him home and mend him up) decided to put our family first and reduce our expenditures by letting go of things like expensive cell phones and massive cable TV packages in order for me to leave my high stress job.

I'm proud of myself for stretching our families budget by eliminating the bulk of processed food we bought and only buying staples and learning to cook from scratch. I'm proud of the food preserving I did for the first time this year.  I'd never had 'homegrown tomato sauce' before. Now, I can't imagine going back.

I'm proud of keeping Christmas simple this year. We had a small budget for gift giving and I'm proud that we chose small, independent retailers for making purchases.  If we shopped at a box store, we kept it as local as possible supporting chains that offer their employee's benefits and living wages.  I've really tried to own the power of the (granted few) dollars that I have to spend.

Christmas has been filled with yummy homemade treats like Peppermint Bark
And lastly, I'm really proud of myself for pushing hard to make a long held dream come true and opening my online bead shop.  I've played with making jewelry part time on Etsy and will keep doing so, but my love of beads and dreams of year round small business ownership got off the ground to a great start.  For me to make this happen despite the intensity of the challenges and changes we've faced as a family this past year is something I am very proud of.

Frost on the winter Heather
Now moving forward and goals for 2012.

1) Survive the move back into the Portland area. Setting up a new house, building new garden beds, flower beds and trying to take as many plants with me as I can. I want to be thoughtful as I plan these new gardens, taking care to prep soil and being mindful that it will take years before I see the results I have in my minds eye.  I want to keep reminding myself to enjoy the adventure of it as I'm truly a creature of habit and find it hard to enjoy the journey. (I might as well been born a hobbit.)

2) Plan a vegetable garden in three stages.  The first one will be at our current home, utilizing existing raised beds for early spring crops. The second and third will be at the new house for summer and winter vegetable gardens. (can I tell you how excited I am to have room for a winter garden? :)

3) Take care of myself.  I've really been stretched thin the past year and it's showing with some ailments I now have. I need to do things and tackle some health issues to stay healthy. Most importantly, I need to make it a priority.

4) Expand my food preservation by freezing and canning whole fruit and veggies and trying out new recipes for chutney's, relishes and pickling.

5) Try my hand at soap making, shampoo bar making and candle making.

6) Keep building my small business.

7) Keep on blogging and staying in touch with some of the wonderful people I've met through garden blogging. Sometimes, even simply through the written word, you find a kindred spirit and those people are precious. I feel privileged to have met some kindred spirits this year.

I may need to refer to this post from time to time in the next year as the stresses of moving and staying sane overwhelm me :)

Wising all of my blogging friends a Happy New Year.  I'm looking forward to following your adventures in the year ahead.

Cheers, Jenni


  1. Hoping you have a blessed and happy new year! Looking back I usually see the silver linings of life, but in the middle...well it's nice to have friends, family and blog posts to help out. It will be a lot of in watching the new garden grow, sometimes I wish I could start over, but if I really had to? Best wishes.

  2. When you put it like that, I think the whole world should admire your efforts in 2011! I hope 2012 turns out to be a less stressful year for you.
    Interesting to read what you say about the therapeutic aspects of gardening - I find that too.
    Online friendships can help as well... Keeps everything in proportion when you know that there are other people out there taking an interest in you.

    Stay safe. Happy New Year to all of you - hope your Man is OK! :-)

  3. A Happy New Year to you and your family Jenni - you certainly have a lot to be proud of - if you can achieve so much in the sort of year you have just had - well the sky is the limit!

  4. Forgot to say - I think the new Blog Header picture is great. Very classy!

  5. Jenni ~ Your post is so inspiring. I'm glad your DH came through and that some good life changes happened in your family.

    May 2012 be wonderful, filled with many blessings.


  6. I was born with a hobbit nature as well, but three years ago set out on an adventure from Massachusetts to the PNW, and never looked back. Started my garden over, and I know you can too (especially since you're younger than me). Big Hugs to you, Jenni! It will be stressful, but I know you'll make it and your life will be better than ever (mine is).

  7. Thats what I love about your blog. You had a tough year, but take it in stride. You did a great job with your family, business, and garden. Your posts are ones I always look forward to. I wish you a happy and healthy New Year!

  8. I think I've said this before but I'll say it again...You are truly an inspiration!

    Happy 2012!!!

  9. Wow you really have had some year. Your upcoming plans sound great and a real inspiration. Best wishes for 2012 and hope its a healthy and productive year for you and your family!

  10. WOW! You have had a year!

    I am so glad you Hubby is up and running again and I think you are brave to make the decisions you have.

    I find myself so dragged along by providing for 3 young adults, my Hubby's stressful job and my lousy health that making any changes at this point is harder than ever :(

    It is amazing how life just sweeps you along regardless of how you try, so I really do commend you on everything you have done :)

    Wishing you and your lovely family a wonderful 2012, your blogger buddy, T. :)

  11. Wow, you have had a amazing and trying year, for sure! I 'm so glad you've come out it stronger and with such a great sense of purpose. I can't wait to see what this new year brings for you and your family...I certainly admire everything you've accomplished so far. Oh, and since you're moving into Portland, let me know if you want some cuttings or divisions of plants...I always have a few things to share :-)

  12. Scott, I'm may take you up on that offer! :)

  13. Wow! You did accomplish so much last year and I look forward to what is ahead of you this year!

  14. I know you did have a tough year with your husband being sick. You seemed to have such a positive attitude throughout it. I hope 2012 is a very exciting (in a good way) year for you and your family. I hope your business does grow and you know I love your jewelry! :)
    Who knows, once you move to Portland I may get to meet you one day on one of our trips down!
    So glad you are one of my blogging friends!

  15. Dear Jenni, You should be very proud of yourself! I also had a very challenging year, and your positive attitude is an inspiration to me. So happy to make your acquaintance. Wishing you a blessed 2012! P. x

  16. I'm visiting from Birds, Bees, Berries and Blooms...and I'm eager to read more of your blog! The fact that you're from the Portland area also intrigues me...I studied at Ecola Hall Bible school in Cannon Beach, and have several friends from the Portland area. It makes me a little bit homesick! :)

  17. You and the family had a very hard year. It is amazing what you can discover about yourself when tragedy comes. Priorities become so clear and you learn that some of the things you thought were important were not at all.
    I can see the strength that you have developed over the year.
    I am praying for a blessed new year for your family. Sounds like you have some good plans for this year and I hope they go well for you and the family.

  18. Bravo, Jenni! This is a wonderful post. I like how you can be proud of yourself. You haven't gone into great detail about your husband's issues and although you were still posting regularly, I know it must have been a really difficult time for you and all of your family. So bravo girl. I'm so glad you can stay home with your children. The sacrifices will be worth it as I'm sure you already know. I'll check out your Etsy.

  19. There's nothing quite like life's challenges to show just exactly what we're made of! You've shown that you're made of strong stuff and I congratulate you and your family for coming through such hard times with such a positive spirit.

    Here's to a fantastic 2012 and I hope it's a much healthier and more settled year for you. Wishing you and yours all the very best. You definitely have many virtual friends that will be looking out for you.

  20. What a year of challenges and achievements for you. You should be proud. And do be sure to take better care of your "self" this year so you can keep up the good work.


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