As a girl who tends to stress and worry and panic, change can be a very scary thing. But on my birthday - which is today - I like to take stock of things I learned/discovered/gleaned/perfected over the last year. And here they are, in no particular order:
1. I now make excellent scones. Crumbly, delicious, and not nearly as difficult as I thought they'd be.
2. All my life I've heard people quote, "God helps those who help themselves," like it's out of the Bible. A few years ago, I learned that wasn't scriptural. And in the last year, historical writer Roseanna White taught me that quote belongs to Benjamin Franklin.
3. I can crack an egg with just one hand, which was born out of necessity since I often have Connor on my hip when I'm baking.
4. Speaking of Connor, I learned that toddler boy drama is just as wild an unpredictable as 3-year-old girl drama. Don't let anybody fool you by saying boys aren't dramatic and moody...
5. That I love Brussels sprouts. Not like a, "Yeah, I can eat those," kind of thing, but I actually crave Brussels sprouts. Particularly when they're roasted or sauteed with bacon fat.
6. The mad talent of Florence & The Machine. Wonderful, wonderful band.
7. Ebooks. I bought my Kindle earlier this year, and I was shocked by how much I like using it. There are things I miss, like flipping through pages when I'm in search of something, but I still really enjoy the reading experience. And I love how I can go from thinking, "I want to read that book," to actually reading this book within about 2 minutes.
8. The Hunger Games series, which were the first books I downloaded on my Kindle. What a fabulously creative series. Very deserving of its success.
9. Easy, tasty rolls. Oh, baby, these rosemary rolls are yummy and quick. They use frozen bread dough, but because of the rosemary, butter, and salt, you'd never know it. When you're invited somewhere, volunteer to bring the rolls.
10. I learned I love blogging. I have the best time hanging out on Go Teen Writers with the wonderfully talented young writers.
11. I became completely obsessed with Tastebud Magazine, which is a free publication in the Kansas City area. It's foodie heaven, and I look forward to it every month. If you like eating, you should see if your community has something similar.
12. Being the parent of the flower girl in a wedding is super scary. I had no idea. What if she falls? What if she won't walk down the aisle? What if she gets sick before the wedding? What if she picks her nose? (None of which happened, fortunately.)
13. We're watching the Ken Burns documentary on baseball, so I have absorbed a crazy amount of baseball knowledge in the last month. Like that whole thing about Babe Ruth calling his shot is a huge controversy. And that the Kansas City Monarchs dominated the negro leagues. And that there's no official creator of baseball, that it evolved from a couple different games.
14. Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones was one of my favorite books of the year. I've read most her books and enjoyed them all, but I loved the balance of humor and depth of this one.
16. In California's wine country, you can do olive oil tastings. I did one with Round Pound, and it was great. They line up plastic cups for you, so it's like little shots of olive oil. They also had vinegars, which they pour over a sugar cube, and then you pick up the cube and suck out the vinegar.
17. That my husband strongly dislikes the New Kids on the Block t-shirt I've had since 2nd grade. Which is really sad because it's so worn and soft and comfy.
18. How to make excellent mashed potatoes in advance. Pioneer Woman's are great freshly made or reheated in the oven.
19. That being out of high school for 10 years doesn't feel as long as you might imagine. When I graduated back in 2001, 10 years sounded like plenty of time to turn into the fabulous adult I was hoping to be. And even though I have all the things I thought I'd have by now - husband, babies, books - I still have lots of days where I feel like I'm just pretending to be an adult. Maybe by the time my 20 year reunion rolls around, the whole adult thing will feel more normal.
20. Whop Whops. I love this phrase. A girl from New Zealand used it in a Go Teen Writer contest. It means the same thing as "the boonies" (Like, "they live out in the whop whops.") I totally want to start using it more.
21. Julie Klassen is much more fun to talk to than she is to stalk. Julie and I were at the same writer's conference in September. I adore her books, but I was too afraid to talk to her, so for the first day or two, I kept my distance. Then I finally went and said hi to her and found out she's extremely cool and easy to talk to. Wonderful lady, wonderful books.
22. When you make coffee in a French press, you're supposed to mix it up with that plunger thingy before you let it brew. I've been making it wrong for years.
23. I learned lots and lots and lots about food television for a manuscript of mine. Like that people laughed at the concept of the Food Network, which started back in 1993. We cancelled our cable this year, and I miss FN more than anything else.
24. The Help is an incredible book and deserves all the hype.
25. I like camping. I tried it because I love my outdoorsy husband, and I was pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The best night of sleep I got all year was in that tent. We were by a river, so we had great white noise, and we went to bed when it got dark, then woke up when the sun came up. We'll definitely go again.
26. I have a tendency to avoid conflict. I'm learning that's not about wanting to keep the peace, but rather it's a self-esteem issue for me. Will people still like me if I disagree with them? If I tell them I'm mad, will they still think I'm a nice person? Sigh. Lots of work left to be done on this girl...
27. I finally picked up Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. It's been out for a few years, but for some reason I never read it. There's great stuff in there. I wish I had read it years ago.
28. I learned this just yesterday - people used to brush their teeth with boar-bristled toothbrushes. Um, disgusting. I learned this from Roseanna White, and she said it best: "Nothing like cleaning your teeth the hair from the back of a pig's neck!"
What's something you've learned/discovered this year?
Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers and does so on her blog www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com.