I feel like I should be saying that this year just zipped right by and I can’t believe we’re at the end of it already, but actually it felt like time passed exactly the way it should do. There were parts, like our wedding day, which felt like they went by in a flash. Less exciting but more relaxing times seemed to roll by at an easy pace, slow enough to look around and appreciate. I’ve had some ups and downs this year just like any year, but overall 2011 has been pretty good to me.
2011 began for us with a trip around New Zealand, the excuse being the wedding of some close friends in Auckland. New Zealand is such an amazing country, with so many different and contrasting environments – we experienced warm balmy days in Rotorua, windy and cosmopolitan Wellington, pouring rain in Milford Sound, icy landscapes on Franz Josef Glacier and beautifully green wineries in the Marlborough region. There was hiking, kayaking, wine-tasting, eating, zorbing and a whole lot of driving. I think I’ve actually now seen more of New Zealand than I have of Australia, so maybe an Aussie campervan road trip will be in our future!
One of the biggest changes for 2011 was moving back to Perth, after two years in Canberra. I’m really missing my Canberra friends, especially as it’s a long way to visit, but in a lot of ways it’s great to be back. One benefit is the (slightly) larger apartment we managed to get, which we’ve now managed to squeeze 11 people into for a sit-down dinner. I love entertaining and cooking for people, so we’ve now had quite a few gatherings at our place with friends and family. Most of these are either quite simple meals (like pizza, BBQ or steamboat) or potluck style dinners, but I’m slowly getting the hang of sorting out the timing so I’m not completely frazzled when people arrive. Food is becoming an ever more important part of my life, so I’m enjoying sharing that with others!
Read more in the Gatherings category
Speaking of food, I’ve been trying to cook at home as much as possible and then splurge every so often on something really special. One of these occasions was The Boy’s birthday dinner degustation at Restaurant Amusé, which is definitely one of the most intriguing and delicious meals I’ve had all year. Each course was impeccably presented, introduced by very professional waitstaff or the cook themselves, and involved some unlikely and wonderful ingredients. I think it’s really set the bar for degustations for me, and I’m hoping to try out a few more places next year!
Read more over on JeffHa.com – Restaurant Amusé
Cooking, backing, jamming
Still on the subject of food (hey, I said it was an important part of my life!), I’ve been doing a lot more cooking this year since The Boy now comes home from work too late to do much prep work. I still have a lot of hits and misses, but we’ve come a long way from eating pasta with jar sauce every few days. This year I’ve started cooking low carb, tried to include at least one vegetarian meal a week and started experimenting with more alternative proteins, like kangaroo (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it, roo is awesome!). I’ve also experimented with making jams, chocolate truffles, choux and shortbread pastry, and too many cakes, cookies and muffins to think about without drooling. The recent acquisition of a KitchenAid mixer (a wedding gift from my wonderful friends) is definitely helping. I wouldn’t call myself a good cook just yet, but I’m certainly improving.
This year has been a good one in terms of health and fitness – I’ve been doing fitness classes, jogging and eating a more controlled diet. I’ve actually managed to lose 5kg this year, which might not sound like much but I’m determined to do this properly and in a maintainable way, even if it takes me years to get to my goal weight.
Possibly my proudest achievement however, was completing the City to Surf 12km run! A year ago I would have said I would never do it – actually, even right up until the run I was pretty certain I would keel over along the way, or at least walk most of it. But I actually managed to get what I consider a decent time, and felt pretty good afterwards. I’m hoping actually train for the next one and beat my time in 2012.
Read more in City to Surf
I’ve made a few changes to the way that do my freelance work this year, and one of the major ones was to work from a shared office instead of from home. Monk Studio houses Monk Media, Cut and Paste and a few other creatives who drop in and out here and there. Having a workplace that isn’t home and having other people to chat to has made a huge difference in my productivity; having other creative people to bounce ideas off or just watch funny YouTube videos with makes work a lot more fun. It’s also nice to have some people to have Friday drinks with sometimes! I still have to take photos of the office to post up here, look forward to that in the new year.
More info on my work life in the Freelance Friday posts
I’ve gotten back into reading in a huge way this year, and sometimes I’m finding myself so hooked on a book that I just devour it in a day or so. Looking back through my Goodreads account, I’ve ready about 39 books this year and will likely finish the 40th before we tick over to 2012. Almost all of these are fiction, with a few memoirs/biographies thrown in. I’ve gotten into sci-fi and food/travel memoirs lately, two genres I hadn’t really touched before. I do most of my reading on my Kindle these days which is very convenient, although there are of course some books which simply have to be read on paper.
I’ll be incorporating more book reviews in 2012, but for now you can see what I’m reading over on my Goodreads account.
I didn’t end up doing much in the way of cosplay photography this year, but I was involved in a couple of shoots with some amazing cosplayers. Yes, the girl in the photo above really did shave her head for the shoot. I’m slowly becoming more confident in directing and shooting people, although it does help a lot to have cosplayers who really know what they’re doing and what they want captured. I’m going to be a bit more proactive with organising and being involved in cosplay shoots next year; it’s just so much fun!
The event that took up most of my brain for most of this year was our wedding! There are so many little decisions that need to be made organising a wedding, especially if you’re trying to do it on a budget and with as many DIY elements as possible like we were. The result wasn’t exactly something that you see in a bridal magazine, but for us it was just perfect. I can’t imagine The Boy not being a massive part of my life – I’m pretty sure we’ll be grossing out our grandkids by smooching at family parties way in the future. We have a lot of adventures ahead of us, so I’m glad that we can do them together – now as husband and wife.
I’ve written heaps about the process of organising my wedding and some recaps over on my wedding blog, Getting Hitched.
The day after the wedding we jetted off on our honeymoon to Vietnam. Breathtaking landscapes, fabulously cheap food and beer, and fascinating culture. I managed to get sick right at the start of the trip and stayed varying degrees of ill for the rest of it, but overall it was still pretty damn awesome. I can’t pick a highlight between staying an uber luxury resort near Da Nang, cycling around Hoi An, eating grilled street food in Hanoi or kayaking around Ha Long Bay.
Looking back, this year has been really good to us. I’m all ready for the next one!