My 9 best moments from 2016

I’ve seen this a lot on my friends’ feeds, and figured I maybe should participate (if late).  2016 was not a kind year for many of us, and I had difficulty identifying three things that went well in the year.  I started reviewing photos, and found 6 more!  Here goes my list:

  1. April 2016: Won the BigBlue Healthy Kitchen Wars cooking competition at ODU with the Faculty/Staff team.
  2. May 2016: I got to take my Mom to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens for the LanternAsia exhibit for Mother’s Day (it’s rare for her to be in my area).
  3. May 2016: I got to go to Seattle, WA and give a presentation at the annual Immunology conference!  I’d been wanting to do a talk (rather than just a poster) for a few years.  I’ve also always dreamt of Seattle; I’m a pluviophile, and the city just captured my imagination.  While there, aside from the conference, I got to visit a friend and see the Seattle Japanese Garden which was gorgeous, the Space Needle (so geeky) and the quite stunning Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit, the EMP museum, and the Museum of Flight (loved the space exhibits).  It was a great trip filled with amazing food, fantastic scenery, and a lot of really good experiences that I’m glad I had.
  4. July 2016: I got to visit friends and family over the summer; in particular, I went to see Luray Caverns with my best friend.  I’d never been.  It was spectacular.  I have literally hundreds of photos and videos from that (and filled up my phone completely).  They even played the stalactite organ while we were there. We also did the garden maze (and I think we chanted “get through the Labyrinth? Get through the labyrinth?! … movie reference) and the rope adventure park.  You know, for someone who doesn’t like heights, I certainly got some altitude this year!
  5. December 2016: I was a co-author on another manuscript, accepted for publication and published online! Not primary author or senior author, but I’m very happy that some of my data was useful.
  6. September 2016: My 20th high school reunion.  Yikes!  Has it been that long!?
  7. October 2016: Survived Hurricane Matthew (not a highlight) and had a great visit with a friend I haven’t seen in years!
  8. October 2016: Halloween is always a highlight.  I did the Corpse Countess this year and utterly delighted in my costume!
  9. December 2016: I got to visit with my friend, and although the Santa Claus Shuffle did NOT qualify as a highlight, our tour through the Norfolk Botanical Garden of Lights show did!

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Preparing for a New Year… starting 2017 fresh

Image reused with permission from Hodge Podge Moments!
Image reused with permission from Hodge Podge Moments.

Tonight, I participated in a Facebook group blog discussion hosted by Pam of Hodge Podge Moments.  Although some of it was about the holidays, and some about blogging mechanics in general, it made me think about what I want for 2017.  I haven’t set my resolutions yet, but one of the prompts was whether we intended to set a “word of the year” for next year.  My first instinct was “improvement.”

A lot of things are set to change in 2017 already, and I want need it to be a better year than 2016 has been.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten to do some pretty awesome things this year, like visit Seattle and tour the Luray Caverns with my friend.  A lot of things have not gone as well, especially in the health and finance areas.

I have two goals for this month of December to help start off 2017 right:

  1. Get BMI into healthy range.  I’ve been resolving to lose weight for ages.  I’m not exactly giving up on the long-term goal of a very healthy BMI, but I’m sick of the yo-yo effect.  I’m sick of obsessing about it.  I’m about 10 pounds into the overweight range right now, which isn’t horrible, but it does affect my body and my self-image negatively.  I decided a month or so ago that I wanted to refocus on getting to and maintaining a healthy weight before I tried to set my sights any higher (or my weight goals any lower).  I want 2017 to be a year of healthy weight, even if not ultimate-goal weight.  Is this a SMART goal? It is specific and measurable: I have a target weight (-8.5 pounds; BMI of 24.8).  Is it achievable and reasonable? It should be, despite holiday foods.  That’s about a healthy 2 pounds per week. I just got a FitBit and I’m using that to help increase my activity levels.  Is it time-sensitive? Absolutely–I have until the end of 2016!
  2. Quit smoking (again).  I started when I had the facial paralysis.  The neurologist I saw gave me terrifying options including brain lesion and MS, and I stressed out to the max.  I started smoking again and haven’t quite successfully stopped yet.  Last night, as I sat there coughing out a lung from the cold over Thanksgiving, I decided to re-commit to starting 2017 smoke-free.  I’d ideally like to be nicotine-free.  Is this SMART?  It’s specific and measurable: zero cigarettes.  Achievable? I gave myself some flex to make sure I could reach one of the two goals; either nicotine-free or at least smoke-free.  I have a prescription for Chantix–it’s expensive, and very dangerous with my depression, but I used it before and had been 5 years smoke free.  If I do not succeed with the nicotine patches by Dec 16th, I will fill the prescription and start using it.  Time-bound?  Again, yes–Dec 31st.  I’ll check in on these again!


I will hereby hold myself accountable and give an update on December 16 and another on December 31.

Thanksgiving 2016

Being sick on a holiday is never fun.  This year was no exception.  Mostly, it was just a cold with a lot of sinus drainage.

I always watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade!  This year we tried CBS, but we ended up switching back to NBC about an hour in.  Their coverage was just better–and so was their position/view of the performances in front of Macy’s!  I did have a distraction while watching, though…

#Thanksgiving is fun for kitties too!

A video posted by Jolie (@machatonjolie) on

Have I mentioned that Jolie likes to CHEW on everything?!

We scaled back Thanksgiving this year and did a turkey breast, green beans, mini-croissants (store bought), cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and deviled eggs.  Yes, that was our scaled-back version.  I had never done a boneless turkey breast before so hunted for instructions, and I settled on the ideas from Claire Robinson via Food Network here.
Unfortunately, having a cold meant that I really couldn’t taste much.  Mostly just salty, sweet, and tangy-tart.  The leftovers tasted better though, so I’m assuming the dinner itself was good, too.

Thanksgiving Prep 2016

After dinner?  The predictable cleanup.  After that? PIE.  Yum.  I strongly prefer to make my pies totally from scratch, but we didn’t get any pumpkins this year–and the outcome was noticeably different in the final product.  I tend to add more spices to mine than is traditional.

My final activity for the day was to have a mug of Theraflu and a hot bath.  My father always advocated hot baths when you’re feeling sick, and it’s a habit I’ve fully adopted as an adult.  Lobster-skin hot baths where you’re reeling when you get out of the tub.  I fall asleep almost immediately after.  This time, I treated myself to a new experience and tried a pumpkin-shaped bath bomb from Fragrant Jewels… and then I went to bed!