best of 2009.

Here it is, the end-of-the-year post that I started aiming to be super brief and ended trying to pry its fast-growing tentacles off of my legs.  Posterity is already satisfied by my recording all of this, so skimming is fully encouraged.  Also, here are the “best ofs” from 2008 and 2007 if you’re really in the mood for some revisiting.

We rang in the new year by seeing GWAR at the National and then attending a party at Taryn’s house.

It was a great night and everybody had an awesome time, and then got up in the morning and found out that one of the party-goers [a guy I had officially met just that night after unofficially meeting in the blogosphere] had fallen off the balcony and smashed his head in.  A bittersweet way to begin the new year, certainly.  But Stu made a full recovery and as far as I know, is still partying.

In January with our Christmas money from Dan’s parents we got two cats from the SPCA (via Petsmart), Sophie and Slipknot.   Getting both of them was an excellent choice and they turned out to be very good little kitties.  Slippy ended up cultivating quite a penchant for wandering, and I spent half the summer driving all over the place retrieving her from other peoples’ living rooms.  Little Slippy is gone now but Sophie has a new playmate / personal antagonist, which we’ll mention later.

We had a really beautiful Valentine’s Day, which we spent antiquing in Petersburg…wading through boxes of old, dusty stuff and looking for items to use in our wedding centerpieces.

It snowed in March, and it was gorgeous.  I love the snow, and was very happy kicking around in it for a few days.  Sledding in the hail was difficult, though.  Also, I had red hair for a while!  That was fun, but hard to maintain.

In March we started pre-marriage counseling with our friend and pastor, Erik.  Our sessions over the course of the year were sometimes fun and sometimes challenging, and always frank.  We loved it.  Speaking of frankness, in March I began my brief stint as the female viewpoint in the RVANews column Robot Hearts.  Fun to write, and led to more things with RVANews: win win win.  Also in March, I scanned in a LOT of old pictures.  And Parasol Party reached 50,000 hits (we’re at about 80,000 now).  And I sewed my first article of clothing from a pattern, which was a Regency-era dress.  I think it was a valiant effort for my first try, even though one of the sleeves is mega wonky.

photo by Kenny Close.

The boys at 319 threw a killer rooftop party in April which was dubbed Better Friends Day and featured Drunk Brandi and some amazing group photos by Kenny.  I hope this happens again in 2010.

Another April standout was the Always Midnight photo shoot by the incredible Phil Bowne with Brandi modeling.  Gorgeous pictures, which I think really capture the feel of my fascinators.

And LBH y’all, the garden looked amazing all summer after I dug it out from its winter hiatus.

In May we threw a Cinco de Mayo party, for which Dan made his famous tacos and fed a huge crowd.  A few days later we went to Baltimore to hang out and to see Frodus, which was a blast.

We also had some engagement pictures made by Chris Lacroix at the Byrd.

June brought our annual pilgrimage to Bushnell, IL for Cornerstone Festival.  The midwest is beautiful in the summertime, and Dan and I were able to sneak away for a mini-trip to check out some old barns in the area.  We had a great time at the fest, hanging out with old and new friends, and of course selling merch.  I also had probably the tightest dream of my life in June.

Back home in July, we celebrated Dan’s birthday with cupcakes and the fire pit in the backyard — the perfect evening gathering, I thought.

In August we went up to DC for our friend Drew’s birthday, and also to check out the American Museum of Natural History and to pay a visit to our good friend TJ.

Soon afterward it was time for Best Friends Day, or as some people call it, “the annual bath.” I think this thing gets better for me every year as my plotting about picnic meals and drink selections improves.  And getting there mega early allows me to really relax before the maelstrom.  This year’s maelstrom was literal, with a sudden storm forcing everyone under the shelters for some cramped binge drinking.  Fun until we all nearly froze to death!

In September, our lovely new roommate Jess moved in, and she has been a perfect fit for our household.  She arrived just in time for my 2nd annual birthday picnic at Hollywood Cemetery, which was a hit yet again.  I remember eating a ton of amazing food, and having to move into the shade in order to flee the Daystar, and comparing picnic baskets with my friends.  We also got a new kitten in September, because Colleen found her stuck in a tree the same week that Slippy got hit by a car.  Gozer is tiny and evil and spends most of her time terrorizing Sophie and trying to steal people-food.

By then we were in the thick of the wedding-related whirlwind.  My family bridal shower and my friends bridal shower both took place at my house on two consecutive weekends, and were both more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined.  At both showers my favorite part was when everyone shared their marriage advice and well-wishes with me, many of which you can read in my Favorite Quotes document under “Love.” Those conversations and tidbits of specific advice meant so much to me, and I hope to revisit them often and keep them as fresh in my heart as possible.

And the next weekend was my bachelorette party — a few friends, a short drive into the country, and a picnic amongst historic ruins.  Perfect.  And such a relaxing, stress-free thing to take me into the crazy month of October.

Soon afterward Dan’s family arrived from Canada and we did a lot of hanging out, including a trip to DC, a pilgrimage to Krispy Kreme (their fave), some hanging out around my parents’ fire pit, and an epic Dr. Mario tournament.

Then I think there was something about a rehearsal, and a dinner at Katie’s house, and sponge rollers, and a ceremony, and DANCING, and champagne, and a brunch, and a finishing-the-kegs party.  Oh yeah, the wedding.  It really is a blur to me…a wonderful, happy blur.  I’m still waiting for wedding photos, so I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to re-live it in a more sane fashion.

After that we got the flu and flew to Hawaii, where we spent some sickly but amazing days, and then to San Francisco, where it was a lot colder but I was feeling way better and able to eat a lot more (yay!).

As soon as we got back I didn’t really have a chance to enjoy my newfound freedom from wedding planning, because THE HOLIDAYS WERE UPON US.  The rest of the year was another blur, but this time it was a blur of holiday parties and crafting for holiday craft fairs.  Oh, and my 10-year high school reunion, which was not the scary, dreadful event that you read about, but instead a joyous re-acquaintance with rad people from my past.

And this month’s snow was the best [free!] Christmas present I could have ever wanted.  We had quite a time trudging around in the snow, going sledding, making impromptu chili, and still making it out of the house to party.  I wish it snowed and stuck at least once every winter.

There have also been some stellar ongoing activities throughout the year that have contributed to my general welfare:

  • Church / small group.  Being surrounded by such an insightful group as our motley little City Church crew has done me well.  I look forward to Tuesday nights, because that’s when our smedium group meets (small / medium) and where I’m both supported and challenged by these sweet people.  Topics range from the embarrassingly simple (No Pants Night?)  to the crushingly in-depth, but no matter what we’re talking about it’s always (1) respectful, (2) interesting, and (3) conversation (rather than, you know, TV).  Since conversation is what I thrive on (sorry reality TV, this seat’s taken), I’m lucky to have such willing participants.
  • Books: I like reading and / or listening to audiobooks.  Standouts from this year include Spooky South, Heretics, Fahrenheit 451, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Breaking Dawn, The Giver, Simple Spirituality, and Jesus Wants to Save Christians. And yes, I know that it’s shamefully late in the game for me to be reading some of these books.  Better late than never.
  • Wii Fit Plus: Wii Fit was awesome, don’t get me wrong. But Wii Fit Plus is twice as awesome.  Wii Fit was chock full of great exercises but in between each one, you had to pick up the Wiimote, hit “A” about a million times, and select the next exercise.  Wii Fit Plus allows you to make your own pre-set routines so that you can just select the routine itself and then work out for 40 minutes or whatever without stopping.  I love it.  The exercises that I enjoy the most are the Spinal Twist and the Sun Salutation, and the exercises I dread but which are probably whipping me into shape the most are the Dance Pose and Super Hula Hoop.
  • Work: I’m an assistant to a very kind and patient woman who enjoys teaching me the basics of Judaics in a pell-mell fashion as much as I enjoy learning from her.  I’ve done everything from making copies to driving all over Richmond looking for red horseradish, and I love every second of it.  Since moving downstairs into the main office, I’ve made more friends and taken on some more responsibility, and there really is never a dull moment over at the temple.
  • Writing: Besides the ol’ blog I also write for RVANews, and it’s been a full year trying to keep up with both Richmond Proper and Capital! Style, the two freshest columns around.
  • Food: Since I worked part-time all this year, I had time to make a lot of new dishes.  You win some, you lose some.  Mostly we win, and here are some of our new favorites: butternut squash / sage / parmesan pasties, latkes, chick pea patties, garlic naan, crispy tofu, scallion pancakes, white bean / arugula salad, roasted rosemary “chicken” and potatoes, veggie won-tons, and frozen tamales from Target (seriously!).  Also, everybody should try using a meal planning spreadsheet: it makes life easier and trips to the grocery store less frantic.

Okay that’s it, even though I can tell from skimming my blog that I’ve left out SO MUCH THAT’S IMPORTANT, I just can’t blog anymore and this entry is already way too long.  Happy New Year…can’t wait to see y’all in 2010.

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