Since it’s officially 2020, I’d like to take the time to share with you my year in review for 2019. Personal, Blog, Business, Motherhood, Marriage, Books – my entire life is covered here, in a very honest way. This is something I hope to continue writing over the years to look back on.
2019 was full of ups and downs and plenty of challenges. Here’s the top ones to discuss:
Miscarriages. I’m sorry to start out with a big bummer (it ends happily for now – keep reading), but this year I had 3 miscarriages, January, July and October. I wrote about them very openly here. We’ve been trying to grow our family and it’s been full of challenges, awful blood tests and ultrasounds and too many to count 7 AM Doctor visits. The good news is that all my tests came back without any issues. The bad news is we still don’t know why keeps happening.
The good news? As I write this now, I am 8 weeks pregnant, with the help of progesterone. This is the furthest we’ve gotten in a pregnancy (besides Enceladus, of course), and we were lucky enough to hear a heartbeat and I’m feeling good, so positive vibes everyone!
This year we sold our Upstate land. It was hard to say goodbye to it, after all the work and love that went into that place, but also a sigh of relief. Matthew can’t help himself from browsing Upstate properties (every week!) but I’m pretty sure we won’t revisit this option any time soon.
We got a Peloton bike. And guys, it’s kind of life changing. I’ve put in hard work on the bike, and I feel the most physically fit I’ve ever felt. It’s also been great for dealing with stressful nights (jump on the bike and immediately change your mood!). I’ve also enjoyed the meditation and yoga classes they offer.
Matthew. Maybe it’s because we’re so tired from chasing a toddler. Maybe it’s because we’ve had so many battles this year together. But I feel like our relationship is stronger than it’s ever been before. Matthew is my best friend, my support system and he still answers my question “Can you tell me 3 things you feel happy about?” that I ask him every single night before bed, 16 years into our relationship.
Feeling the Bern. I don’t really get political on the blog (I save that for Instagram – hah!), but I can’t write a 2019 review without mentioning my volunteering efforts for Bernie Sanders. Our family faces many struggles, more specifically health insurance, student debt, childcare and climate change, these 4 things constantly keep us up at night and prevent us from saving for our future. I know so many friends that are holding off starting a family because of these reasons too. This year, I’ve gotten the most politically involved for a candidate than I ever have been before.
In December I traveled to New Hampshire to do door to door canvassing for Bernie Sanders, something I never did before in my life. It was such an exciting experience and I can’t wait to do it again (hey if you see me at your door, open it up and say hi!). I know not everyone who visits my blog agrees with my politics, but if you feel strongly about something and need to see a change, then you need to do something about it, and that’s what I’m doing.
Brooklyn Farm Girl Blog
Brooklyn Farm Girl grew in 2019, like I never thought possible. What started out as a little personal blog sharing really bad photos of food and my cats, ended up becoming a full time job this year. This has been my independent project, so I’m personally really proud to see it grow. As my page views rise, I hope to keep creating recipes that your family loves. The biggest thing I learned this year about the blog was cook what your audience loves (that means you). I learned more about you, asking you what you cook for dinner every night, your favorite cooking methods, etc, and you graciously answered! I have many more recipes coming soon, including slow cooker, simple how tos, and vegetable tips!
This year I’ve also started to make videos, not just 1 minute recipe videos, but long form episode videos, showing the process from garden to dinner table. Each video starts out in our garden, then I bring them back to our apartment and cook with them. Thank you to Matthew for making these videos with me, they take days to edit, and I hope you like them as much as I do!
In 2020 Brooklyn Farm Girl is getting a redesign! Like a giant redesign you guys! You won’t even recognize this place anymore. I’ve been using a outdated template since 2013 and it’s time for a change. I need something new that can grow with me, so very soon you’ll see a new design. Don’t worry, it’s going to be so good! Organized recipes, a new vegetable index, easy to share recipes now, and you guys – the graphics! You’re going to SMILE at how cute the graphics are. When you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The redesign is 100% Pamela. I can’t wait to share it (soon!).
Top 10 Recipes
Here’s my top 10 most popular recipes of 2019. Not only do I get to learn what people are craving, but it also helps me plan on what to make and share in 2002.
The Best Stewed Tomatoes
Easy Way to Freeze Green Beans
Creamy Garlic Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes
Best Ways to Store Bananas
Half Sour Pickles
How to Dry Mint for Tea
No Butter Homemade Pancakes
Slow Cooker Kielbasa and Cabbage
Roma Tomato Sauce
Cheap Meals for Large Families
She’s 2. Can you guys believe it? I can’t but I can. Today, January 2, she officially turned 2 and a half!
Enceladus continues to grow, physically (she’s tall) and developmentally. This year was full of growth, most noticeably language. She pretty much speaks in full sentences now, with little words being unknown, and when we don’t know what she’s saying, she becomes very frustrated but determined for us to figure it out. She understands our conversations completely and often interrupts Matthew and I when we’re speaking to each other with her own opinion.
Enceladus is a very active and emotional person. She’s the definition of high spirited and strong willed. She’s full of energy. She’s very smart. She’s going through the 2’s. It’s tough. It’s really tough. It’s probably the toughest thing I’ve ever gone through to be honest. She’s extremely Mommy attached, and recently has been smothering me in kisses and hugs, while whispering “I love you best friend”. The other time not spent attached to me is spent throwing tantrums on the floor. Matthew and I take turns telling each other “Deep Breaths, we will make it through this”. She’s really really really really tough right now, but I also know we’re raising a fierce, independent girl, so we battle on.
A few weeks back she moved to a big girl bed, and now she craves Independence. There’s no going back once the crib is gone. She craves Independence at night, while Matthew and I crave sleep. It’s been a tiresome December for us, so hoping for a little more sleep in 2020.
She started a new school this Summer, one that she will be at until she starts Pre-K. The school has been amazing for her, and is structured to keep her busy throughout the entire day. From gym glass, to independent “reading”, to environmental science class, to dealing with feelings with meditation and yoga, to weaving Wednesdays, to learning basic Spanish, it’s been wonderful for her. She loves her teachers (as do we), and seems to be thriving in her class.
She’s my kitchen helper extraordinaire. There’s not a meal that I make that she isn’t part of. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks – she’s there on her kitchen stool, ready to grab a spoon and help me stir. She’s getting really good at knowing ingredients and predicting what comes next. A few days ago she identified baking powder when I was putting it into the pancakes. Woah. I’ve been cooking with her since she was a few days old, so this makes me so happy seeing her get so excited in the kitchen. I think we might have a Brooklyn Farm Girl Junior.
Reed + Rader
Reed + Rader had a very busy first half of the year, leaving us sometimes overscheduled, and Matthew at the studio for long hours at night. It’s hard being freelance and having a family.
Projects we completed this year:
Chobani Yogurt kids campaign (not released yet)
Our first music video, Diplo x Charli XCX
Another music video for Ruby the RabbitFoot
A shoe campaign for Sophia Webster
A really weird (and wonderful) campaign for European client Erste Bank
We also had some big punches to the gut this year, many exciting treatments and pitches we made ended up going no where. Treatments are tough for freelance artists because there usually isn’t a budget to make a treatment, you do it because you want the job. If a treatment and related meetings take 2 weeks of your time, that’s 2 weeks of working for free. It’s unfair and really frustrating when you don’t get the job. We ended the year not getting a big client job who really wasted and disrespected our time. The industry has major problems when it comes to this.
Right now we’re working on a personal project, making our first children’s book inspired by one of our most loved projects to date. It’s very much in the beginning stages, but we’re excite to bring it to life. We need to work on more personal projects. 2019 brought us a lot of client work, but with so much client work, you lose some creative juices (even when the work is fun), so we need to go back to just doing things for us, just because we want to do them.
The end of 2019 also brought some business changes, with us structurally changing some business financial elements, hoping to burden our yearly taxes that always devours us. Working with a new accountant, we’ve learned of ways to help our business grow, while investing in ourselves. Running a small business is a challenge, but one we’ve been done for over a decade now, still figuring things out as we go.
After saying goodbye to FiFi Bofinkles in December 2017 and Brother in December 2018, we now live as a 3 cat family. Xanadu, Toes and Goblin continue to own our apartment, our hearts, and more specifically continue to tear up our sofa. Xanadu is now 13 years old, and had some medical issues this year, but she’s still the crazy Siamese cat that lives life at full speed. I swear she’ll never slow down.
Goblin is now our only boy cat, and I can tell he misses a wrestling buddy (that was Brother). Maybe one day we can get him a brother to play with!
Toes is Toes. She’s exactly what you expect from a girl Maine Coon. She’s big, she loves food, and she takes up the majority of our bed at night.
We continued gardening in Brooklyn, in our community garden plot, as well as becoming part of the Community Ag bed plot, where we have a little more room and can try new things. We continue to grow a lot in small spaces, and grew hundreds of pounds of vegetables in a 8×4 plot.
Notably in new vegetables, we grew San Marzano tomatoes for the first time this year, and goodness gracious, they’re delicious, especially in sauces! We also grew Sandwich Box Peppers for the first time and they hardly made it home before I ate them all!
The 2019 garden ended growing kale, Brussels Sprouts and bok choy – all growing successfully as of December 31.
This year I got to do some solo traveling to Austria (Vienna) and London for work. This was my first time in Vienna and I loved it. I did miss my family, and felt a bit lonely, but the city was gorgeous and I loved walking around.
We did 2 family trips this year, first to Upstate New York for Enceladus’s birthday, the other a family vacation to Ogunquit, Maine. If you’ve never been to Oguniquit, it’s GORGEOUS! We got a cottage on the beach and fell in love. We’re hoping to make this a yearly tradition!
Books, TV, Movies
Books: This year I decided I was finally going to read the Harry Pottery Series. Can you believe I never read them or seen the movies? I’m glad I finally did it. I’m actually on the final book right now (no spoilers please). The series, as you probably already know, is amazing, and so relevant to today’s political climate in my opinion. I hope to reread them in a few years with Enceladus.
Other book highlights this year were Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (a must read book), Ready Player One, When Breath Becomes Air, Everything, Everything, The Sun Does Shine, Killers of the Flower Moon.
TV: Finally said goodbye to Game of Thrones – meh. Will the final book ever come out? I don’t know.
Watched all the seasons of The Americans, in my opinion one of the best shows ever. Bonus, the soundtrack is amazing.
Movies: Honestly, I don’t go to the movies very often. In theaters I only saw Downtown Abbey (lol – it was my birthday date!) and Star Wars recently. I did talk Enceladus into watching Fantasia with me and need to make this a yearly event as I’m always so creatively inspired after watching it!
Matthew’s Year in Review
I asked Matthew to write his own Year in Review to document and share here. Below is what he wrote.
2019 was a challenging difficult year for our family and me personally. I think I’m having a third life crisis.
Reed + Rader was the busiest ever this past year. We did our greatest work ever with some really talented people. I’m particularly proud of the music videos we did especially the one for Diplo / Charli XCX and a still unreleased project for Chobani (it’s hard to put 6 months into a project only to have the client sit on it for a year).
For the past 7 years I’ve been an adjunct arts professor and have regularly taught 4-5 classes each semester and this fall I cut those hours way back because the first part of the year was so busy with R+R. It was a smart decision to make and I was happy to let some of the more simple classes I was teaching go but R+R work unexpectedly dried up in the fall so I regretted it and it put me in a mental funk.
Hopefully I can shake things off for 2020. Sometimes I think about getting a ~real~ full-time job but I’m too old and not sure how to market myself outside of a R+R wunderkind.
Our upstate NY adventure came to a close. We finally sold our property this Summer after a year on the market. There was a time where I could see us moving up there but especially with Enceladus it seems like a mistake and too much like a return to the rural life that I fought so hard to escape as a teenager. I want the land and space without the depressed rural economy and toxic car culture. Not possible. All the work put into it aside I’m most sad to say goodbye to the two Christmas trees that we planted up there. I still look at Hudson Valley, Catskill and real estate in Maine once a week.
I miss Brother Bear.
We tried to expand our family in 2019 and it failed in 3 consecutive miscarriages. That was pretty fucking brutal. After one last moonshot with a fertility specialist, Pamela is pregnant for a 4th time this year and it seems to be progressing well so far. I’m paranoid as fuck though and this is likely the last chance because IVF is a financial impossibility.
I started teaching Enceladus how to ride a bike and play video games. She’s not very good at either but that’s ok. She is fascinated by splattering cacodemons in Doom. She tells me I’m “cuckoo”. I introduced her to the classic “Super Mario Bros Super Show” and she loves Yoshi. She sleeps with my childhood stuffed animal cat “Snowball” and that’s pretty sweet. I’m excited to take her back to the American Natural History Museum this year (she’ll appreciate now), roller skating and maybe go skiing next winter. I feel bad saying it but it’s weird how frustrated and depressed a two year old can make you. I told my doctor I needed more Xanax because of how much anxiety my toddler gives me.
I feel pretty separated from my family back in Ohio I wish they would come visit. It’s pretty lonely.
I’m playing Starfinder and Pathfinder roleplaying games with a group of strangers every weekend online. Currently playing Luigi’s Mansion on Switch and Outer World’s on PS4. Also considering one more turn on deity in Civ6. Looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077. Star War 9 was alright. The Mandolorian is awesome. Game of Thrones was a disappointment. Deadwood and the Americans are still the greatest tv series ever.
This summer we took a splurge and bought a Peloton spin bike. Honestly, it’s been life changing. I’ve always struggled with staying motivated to work out and with a toddler and work free time is pretty non-existent. Peloton has worked though striking a perfect balance of motivating gamification with thoughtful trainers and HIIT training that let’s me crank for 30-60 minutes every other day. I’m very proud of being in the top 1% of regular Peloton riders and to be in the best shape of my adult life.
2016 radicalized this lib. I’m going to join the DSA in 2020. My favorite past-time right now is looking at memes on the ChapoTrapHouse Reddit. I wish I had the confidence, swagger and empathy to run for office. It would be a dream to move back home and crush that chud Jim Jordan out of office. I fear for what will happen to my country and the world if Bernie doesn’t win the nomination. 2020 will be a pivotal year of hope,
What I read
-Too much social media scrolling (I have a difficult time with distractions and mindless scrolling is my low intensity self-care.
– 1491, Charles C. Mann – A+++. A mind blowing read about the Americas before the European arrival. Huge native populations that slash and burned the continental wilderness. Genocide induced climate change caused by violence and disease. Wow.
– Sherman, James Lee McDonough – Great bio that with great 1800s USA world building. Started reading this after feeling embarrassed for northerners that fly the confederate loser traitor flag.
– Truman, David McCullough – Great bio. The birth of the modern powerful executive and military industrial complex. Hey Harry, FDR is dead and you are POTUS now – oh and we have these things called nukes and we still need to end WWII and you have a bunch of loud over eager generals surrounding you – good luck.
– The Social Leap, William Von Hippel – Interesting theories about evolution and human social dynamics. The most interesting part was talking about our ability to throw rocks for offense/defense as being huge for early human organization and cognitive development.
– Sea People: the Puzzle of Polynesia, Christina Thompson – An ok read about the most amazing human adventure in history.
– Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari – I don’t remember anything about it so it must not have been that memorable…
– Stalin Vol 1: Paradoxes of Power, Stephen Kotkin – This book blew my mind as an American that never had any formal Russian history in school and was raised to think Soviet = Evil without qualification.
– Stalin Vol 2: Waiting for Hitler, Stephen Kotkin – Currently and may finish before Summer…
I hope you enjoyed reading in 2019’s Year In Review!