2016 has admittedly been a turbulent year throughout the world.

If you've spent much time on social media lately you've no doubt seen the pleas from many to just move 2016 on out the door, that it's done enough, taken too much, left its fingerprints on history in far too tragic a manner.

Typically at this point in the year all of us DIY bloggers like to gleefully reflect on the past year and all that was accomplished. But it would seem a bit too saccharine if we were to focus only on all of the successes. So instead, this year we're going to take a quick look at all of this year for us, and reflect on the Good, Bad, and the Ugly of 2016.

Wendy:

Our year started out with a planned but difficult "Bad." I kicked off 2016 with absolutely no kicking at all following my second major hip surgery in as many years. Last year was the year of my right hip, and therefore 2016 became the year of my left hip.

This is the result of a hereditary and/or congenital condition called femoroacetabular impingement (FAI or even femoral acetabular impingement), where the head of my femur doesn't fit correctly in my hip socket. In order to correct it, my femur had to be dislocated, the top of the bone and my hip socket sculpted, and then put back in place. Let me tell you, it was not a fun thing to look forward to, or live through. In short the procedure corrected some significant pain and discomfort, but required four weeks of very little mobility, time on crutches, and months of physical therapy and strength training recovery.


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Comments 11

Ina Garten as her alter ego, the Barefoot Contessa, toils away in her ostensibly glorious East Hampton kitchen. It's a room which appears on television and in print to walk the fine line between a casual cook's ultra functional aesthetic daydream and a professional chef's demo kitchen straight from a Nancy Meyers movie set.

Photo Credit: Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times

It's a cold December day. Flurries fall from the sky and softly land atop the partially snow covered wind swept ground while Ina's weathered gray cedar shingle style home glows in the new morning light. Though it may be calm and cool outdoors, Ina's kitchen is warm and a flurry of activity. After all, she's got a dinner party planned for later in the evening and has only herself and a hodgepodge of helpful friends to pull it together. Can she do it? Of course she can, she's the Barefoot Contessa.

Our row house is far from a sprawling ocean-side cottage tucked among the luxe east end of Long Island, but there's no reason why we can't aspire to throw ourselves a little shindig that permits us to channel the best of Ina. In fact, we decided to plan and execute a little neighborhood holiday dinner party to experience first hand the exhausting level of effort necessary to scratch the surface of an Ina Garten inspired event.


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Comments 9

The holidays are squarely upon us, and 'tis the season for gathering with friends and family. Whether you are hosting a family Christmas dinner, having a few neighbors over for a dinner party, or simply dressing up your table to be more festive, creating a beautiful centerpiece doesn't have to be time consuming or expensive.

Alex and I recently hosted a scotch tasting and dinner party at our house during Alexandria's Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend. The weekend celebrates Alexandria's Scottish heritage, as the city was named for Scotsman John Alexander, an original founder of the city and owner of much of its land. The weekend features a festive parade, a holiday tour of homes (here's a look back to when our home was on the tour lineup), a heather and greens sale, and many more yule tide and Scottish inspired festivities. Hands down, it's our favorite weekend of the year in Alexandria, and in our household, officially marks the start of the Christmas season.

Getting ready for the party seemed a bit overwhelming, because it not only meant preparing for a dinner event, but it also meant making sure our home was properly decked out for the holidays. We had a tree to buy and decorate...

...exterior window wreaths to hang...


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What's black, and white & red all over? My newest holiday baking experiment, a moist chocolate cake with a sweet peppermint buttercream!

It feels like it's been ages since I wrote a baking post! While I haven't been diligent about documenting my various creations, I love surprising my friends and family with a homemade baked good (typically of their choosing) for their birthday.

For example, my parents' cake this past July we nicknamed the earthquake/flux capacitor cake. If the photo doesn't answer any questions you may have as to why we named it that, there was a massive crack/rift that occurred in the top layer. It was a complete and total #pinterestfail and absolutely not "blog worthy", but rest assured it was delicious and was all consumed in short order.

Alex's birthday in November brought about a labor intensive but crowd pleasing sea salt caramel cupcake. These little goodies consisted of a caramel cake, filled with gooey caramel, and topped with a swirl of sea salt caramel buttercream. Personally I found them a little too sweet, but the birthday boy gave them two thumbs up.

Which brings me to this holiday season's latest birthday treat. A good friend of ours has a December birthday, and when I asked her what kind of cake I could make her this year she was brave enough to leave it up to the baker. I poked around online for some inspiration, but no matter what I looked at I ultimately kept coming back to her favorite childhood cake, red velvet with candy cane frosting. I made this for her a few years back and wanted to put a new twist on it this time around. 


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Who would have thought the 1990s hip hop party anthem "Jump Around" would eventually serve double duty as the theme of how I attack renovation projects? Everlast, DJ Lethal, and Danny Boy May never have intended for a 30 something DIY enthusiast to hang this catchy tune on her approach to home projects, but it happened, and it's all thanks to my mounting impatience and desire to just get something completed.

For anyone who is following our renovation journey spanning more than a decade, we thank you. Due to a limited availability of time, a desire to do things ourselves, and a tendency to prioritize "doing it right" over "doing it quickly," we move at a snail's pace when it comes to home improvement projects. What's worse is the simple fact that when we're starting to make progress on a large project, I'm frequently guilty of making us shift gears due to my impatience. Yes, yes, I'm fully admitting to being the catalyst for so many side projects taking over primary projects and massively derailing timelines. I often blame Alex for the slowdown, but it's at least partly on me. Let's call it "Wendy's Law." As a result, I'm sure when reading along it's hard to follow our progress, and can say that as someone living through the process, it can even be confusing for me.

The point of all of this is to tell you, in true "Wendy's Law" form, I've gone and thrown a wrench in our DIY plans.

While we're making a lot of progress on the massive renovation of the living room in our new house (yes, the one that's been ongoing for almost two years now)...

...as well as closing in on the finish line of our built in bench project...


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Comments 22
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