My 24 Favorite Posts of 2012

Happy New Year, friends!

New Year’s Day always feels like such a fresh start to me. And even though Papa Bear are right in the middle of what might be the busiest couple of years of our lives, there are so many exciting things on both my short-term and long-term to-do lists, and I am downright bright eyed and bushy tailed about it.

Culinary Tea Book

There may be a lot of cooking with tea happening. Color me inspired.

Despite being a little drunk. Mimosas, you know. For it is New Year’s Day.

I’m ever so excited to take Leave Me to My Projects to the next level in 2013, and gear up to start a second blog over at the barbering business page of the hubs and I, Beardsgaard Barbers.

So what does the next level of Leave Me to My Projects look like? Filled out, is what. If you’re a blogger, you know this, but if you’re not, let me tell you, when you’re doing this blogging thing day in and day out, your idea of what your blog will be and what it actually is at that moment start to meld into a sticky goo.

As such, I know there are plenty of areas of this blog that need to be more filled out and better organized, all of those resources I have stashed need to be added (although I knocked that one out this week, so go check out the newly updated category pages, like the Food page!)

And now that the holidays are over, I will have ever so slightly more time to do all of this. So I’m going to get to it!

In the meantime, I have put together a little list of my favorite 24 posts from 2012 to remind myself how far this blog has come in the last year. Take a look back with me, will you?

1) Wedding Dress Search & The Dress

Wedding Dress Search & The Dress

The search for the perfect wedding dress is tough – mine sure was. I have learned a few things along that way that no amount of reading on The Knot prepared me for. Hopefully I can help you avoid a few pitfalls. And, because I am not a superstitious bride, I have pictures too.

A full 9 months before my wedding, I had my dress bought. I’m a pretty on-top-of-it bride, right? Perhaps not. Let me tell you all about it. {Read on!}


2) Seasonal Produce Cards | Free Download

Seasonal Produce Cards | Free Download

Fruits and vegetables at their peak ripeness are one of the great joys in life. Conversely, a mealy, pale tomato or fibrous, wooden orange suck to waste your money on, and they’re more expensive in the first place. How do you know what to buy, and when? Just carry my free downloadable Seasonal Produce Cards. {Read on!}

3) 3 Steps to Combat Multitask Overload

3 Steps to Combat Multitask Overload

If you are anything like me, at any given moment, you have approximately eleventy million tasks, ideas and to-dos running around in your head.

This is a problem.

“But why?” you ask. “I multitask all day, every day, and I do just fine!”

Yeah, me too buddy.

But have you noticed that you always feel scattered? Do you forget the only important thing you need to bring with you when you leave the house or just up and forget deodorant when you won’t be home for the next 18 hours?

Seems science says there’s a reason for that. {Read on!}

4) The Sun Garden Front Yard Master Plan

The Sun Garden Front Yard Master Plan

The Retirement Garden Project rolls on, every day new plants coming back to life after the winter. On Monday I told you about the history. Wednesday we reviewed the current state of the garden. Today I will bring you the first installment of the Master Plan.

Today’s post feature, the front yard, is a bright, cheery sun garden with fiery warm colors all around. The house is to the west, a massive sycamore on the parkway to the east, and to the north and south are just the neighbors’ yards, neither of which have trees in them to shade our yard. {Read on!}

5) Lemongrass, Ginger & Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

Lemongrass, Ginger & Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

Let me tell you right now, I don’t know if I can ever top this cupcake recipe. The cake is moist, delicious, and perfumed with luscious vanilla bean, biting with snappy ginger, and syrupy with aromatic lemongrass.

The frosting, and I do not make this claim lightly, is the best buttercream you will ever taste. It’s silky smooth, not too sweet, it will totally melt when it is too warm in the summer and harden a little when it’s cold, because…well, it’s mostly made of butter. Oh, and there’s more vanilla bean, as well as some Meyer lemon in there for good measure. Oh yeah.

This is not health food. {Read on!}

6) From Pinterest to Pinerly, a Beta Tester’s Story

From Pinterest to Pinerly, a Beta Tester’s Story

Have we talked about my Pinterest obsession lately? At this moment I have 95 boards, 4227 pins and 338 followers (Jan 1, 2013 update: 1,031 followers!). And I am now a freaking beta tester for Pinerly. The geek out is reaching critical levels. After all, this blog may not have come to be if I had not needed a way to justify the amount of time I wasted on Pinterest. {Read on!}

7) The Keeper of the Memories Project

The Keeper of the Memories Project

It was a slippery slope, the series of mundane events that led me to where I sit today, on top of boxes upon boxes of jumbled photographs and barely contained, broken-binding albums. And still they pour in, between inherited photos from relatives now passed, and my grandmother digging out photos from her childhood.

Add to that my reignited passion for photography and my tendency towards obsessive categorization and cross-categorization, and you may begin to see the depth and breadth of the project that has taken over my life. {Read on!}

8) Finding My Style

Finding My Style

I have never been what one might call a fashionista. It’s kind of a silly word anyway. Whatever it is, this art of putting together a “look” – it is not my area of strength.

Some people can toss on various items of clothing and make it look effortless. They wear the clothes instead of the clothes wearing them. They call this art “personal style.” Now that I am in my last year of my twenties, I feel like it’s sort of do or die time for finding mine.

By the time you’re 30, you’re supposed to have things figured out, or so we have grown up believing. The least I can do is figure out how to dress myself.

People that have a hard time feeling comfortable in their skin have just as hard a time feeling comfortable in their clothes. So I’m going to get real honest here and do my best to get to the bottom of what is not working with my personal style. Right here, in public, on the blog.

Now – let me point out all the awkward. {Read on!}

9) 3 Ways to Avoid Nail Polish Bubbles

3 Ways to Avoid Nail Polish Bubbles

I don’t paint my nails often. I am way too impatient, I try to do stuff, and I end up with smudges, smooshes and occasionally big stupid bubbles. Or at least I used to. Bubbles are now a thing of the past.

Why does this massive pain in the ass phenomenon happen? For me, it was because I was being an impatient spaz. Allow me to explain.

Do yourself a favor and don’t try to paint in a hurry. Plan ahead, give yourself some time and follow these steps. {Read on!}

10) Style Search | Hard Vintage

Style Search | Hard Vintage

Last Saturday was my last day at the barbershop front desk. I dressed up for the occasion. Had to make use of my new ModCloth boots after all.

This photo shoot involves near-freezing temperatures, copious mud, nearby screaming teenage girls, multiple illnesses, and, if I dressed myself correctly, my first solid foray into the Clear Spring Palette with my new natural light brown hair. {Read on!}


11) How to Grill Like a Madman | Mastering the Fundamentals

How to Grill Like a Madman | Mastering the Fundamentals

Grilled food always holds so much promise.

We go to a barbecue (for, I don’t know, Memorial Day?), and we’re excited about the charred and juicy meat goodies to come. The grillmaster comes outside, platter of protein in hand.

Combustion happens. Stuff is cooked. Chewy, bland, blah. And you are disappointed. Don’t let this to happen to you.

Grilling is a mix of science and art. No one can tell you how to do it right. It is something you only learn from experience. But with some good fundamentals under your belt, you will be well on your way to being the badass grillmaster you were born to be. {Read on!}

12) Your Gear Up for Summer Checklist

Your Gear Up for Summer Checklist

June is here, which means summer is right around the corner.

Each year we look forward to summer and see warm, hazy days, lazy afternoons in a hammock or on the beach, icy drinks, a bounty of fruits and freshness. That’s what we see.

But then it gets here, and we realize we had forgotten all about how horrible getting into a roasting car is. We had forgotten about the mosquitoes and sunburns and how dirty all of the outdoor furniture gets over the winter. We forgot about how difficult it can be to cook when you can’t bear to turn on the stove.

I propose we make this summer the kind that we can look forward to. Let’s get ready, shall we? {Read on!}

13) A Rainbow and Strawberry Field Engagement Session

A Rainbow and Strawberry Field Engagement Session

He is a baker. I’m a barber. Together we’re kind of an old school couple.

Although we have been engaged for some time and the wedding is right around the corner, we wanted to do an engagement session anyway. Tyler (this is a very special post, so I’ll call him by his real name for this one) and I are both very uncomfortable in front of the camera, so we wanted to get a little practice before the wedding day.

Bobbie of Roberta Rae photography is an old college friend and incredible photographer, wedding and otherwise. Although we had lost touch after school, once I ran across her and her work again ofFacebook, I knew that she was our shutterbug.

This engagement session, in Bobbie’s capable hands, turned into the most beautiful morning and images, filled with love, rainbows, strawberry fields, raspberry thickets, haunted houses, trespassing and MAGIC{Read on!}

14) Making the Big Time on Problogger

Making the Big Time on Problogger

This weekend my first guest post went live on Problogger.

It was not only my first guest post on Problogger, but my first guest post anywhere. The first I submitted even! The joyous flailing and squealing that went on in my living room over the weekend as the posts went live was not fit for human consumption. {Read on!}

15) Rainbow Your World | Seasonal Color Analysis

Rainbow Your World | Seasonal Color Analysis   Seasonal Color Wheel

Do you feel great in your clothes?

I’m not talking about fit or fabric, I’m talking about color. Do you walk out of the house in your clothes and feel like you glow? Or do you disappear?

Thanks to one Jade green dress my little sister forced me to try on in Express one day, everything changed for me. I thought it would be hideous, but it was perhaps the most perfect color I have ever worn.

It was at that point that I understood the power of my personal colors, and since then, I can’t stop exploring my personal world of color, and that of the people around me. I see people on the bus, and I’m figuring out their season. Perhaps thanks to my Seasonal Color Analysis Pinterest boards here,herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, and here, I have also been getting lots of questions from readers about seasonal color.

So to answer some of those questions in more detail, here is your 12 Season Color Analysis primer. Read on. {Read on!}

16) Wedding DIY Failure | The Glory (Doily) Lamp Debacle

Wedding DIY Failure | The Glory (Doily) Lamp Debacle

Craft and DIY blogs make all of the projects you see look so easy and perfect.

But we all know not every project is really so easy peasy. In fact, some of them are outright disasters. But you never get to see those do you? Until today.

The giant doily lamp that has been all over Pinterest for some time is one of the most stunningly gorgeous DIYs I have seen in awhile, and we knew we had to have it for my leetle seester’s rainbow wedding. Yeah, easier said than done, as many on the interwebs have mentioned, and we found the hard way. But at least it was with two of my favorite people in the whole wide world.

Even though the wedding came and went sans-doily lamp, we are still going to make one of these mofos at some point. Because now it’s personal. So here’s how everything went so very wrong, and how you can fix it. {Read on!}

17) 3 Quick Tips | So You’re In Love with a Beard

3 Quick Tips | So You’re In Love with a Beard

I’m a barber with a specialty in beards.

Giving a guy a beard he loves is  easy. I think they see the creatures on their face as grown by pure testosterone or something. But getting their female significant others to love their beards is another thing altogether.

This lady barber has a few tricks up her sleeve to help.

If you love a man, but do not particularly love the hairy, scratchy creature on his face, I have a few little tricks to make living with said creature more bearable. Share these three quick tips with your dude, and watch the creature transform from Sasquatch to a soft and fuzzy teddy bear before your eyes. {Read on!}

18) 5 Tips for a Perfect Engagement Session

5 Tips for a Perfect Engagement Session

Your engagement photos are something you want to get right.

Not to be on a blog necessarily, (although we will be featured on Rustic Wedding Chic on the September 29th – keep an eye out!), but for your future selves. Just imagine looking back on yourselves many years down the road when you’re awesome old people at your much younger and deliriously in love selves. I know if I had photos like this of my parents from before they were married, they would be absolutely priceless to me.

But an engagement session is about more than the photos themselves. We didn’t do one for my first wedding, and consequently we had absolutely no idea what to do with ourselves in front of the photographer on the day of the wedding.

You’re spending some money on this photo session, making memories and images to last a lifetime, and having a dry run with your wedding photographer, all in one. Here are five ways to make your engagement session the best it can be. {Read on!}

19) Our Intimately Modern Pagan Full Moon Foodie Wedding Part 1

Our Intimately Modern Pagan Full Moon Foodie Wedding Part 1

For nearly the entire life of this blog, I’ve been chittering with excitement about our wedding.

And now, at long last, here is is! I have been ever so excited to share it with all of you, but I have been utterly unable to narrow down the 500-something photos to a single post. The best I could do was three posts – the ceremony, the reception, and the food. Because the food really does deserve its own post.

So let me welcome you to our intimately modern pagan full moon foodie wedding (handfasting) ceremony! {Read on!}

20) Walden’s Wood Mitts Knitting Pattern

Walden’s Wood Mitts Knitting Pattern

The leaves are falling, the air is chilly and crisp…and that means it’s knitting season again, which further means I am neck deep in the woolly goodness.

It’s also the perfect time of year for mitts. Or armwarmers, or wristwarmers, or fingerless gloves, or whatever you want to call them. It’s not quite cold enough to need full gloves, but it’s definitely brisk, and you want to block the cold from creeping up your sleeves.

My Walden’s Wood Mitts, in a dusky blue color are the perfect thing to wear while creeping around in the woods being contemplative and taking pictures and stuff. And trying not to fall off the brittle tree roots jutting out over the stream that one is precariously perched on while a 4-year-old pokes you in the back with a stick.

Or reading, or holding a steamy mug of hot chocolate, or waiting for that damned bus, or freezing your ass off at work. Multipurpose, these mitts are. Enjoy, and if you make them, send us a photo! {Read on!}

21) Autumn Color Palette | Rainbow Your World

Autumn Color Palette | Rainbow Your World

To celebrate the end of Autumn, let’s talk about the three different flavors of the Autumn color palette: Warm Autumn, Deep Autumn and Soft Autumn.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the 6 main characteristics of the 12 Season Color Analysis System, and based on the amount of traffic and response I have seen to that post, I wanted to elaborate a little more on each season.

Keep reading to find out if you are an Autumn, nail down your dominant coloring characteristic, and find out what to wear to look your very best.

Autumn is the time when the days get shorter, the light gets low, and nature is set ablaze. Long, deep shadows fall across richly textured fallen leaves while warm, rich colors light the trees above.

That is the essence of the Autumn color palette. {Read on!}

22) Grill-Smoked Applejack-Molasses Beowulf Turkey

Grill-Smoked Applejack-Molasses Beowulf Turkey

This year may have been the year of the best turkey I’ve ever made. It was also the most oven space I have ever had to work with for a Thanksgiving meal (though still not enough – we need a second oven).

The trick was on the grill. And shellacking it with a sweet boozy basting liquid. Oh yes, and brine and smoke. If you have ever wanted to make people’s jaws hit the floor when the bird hits the table on Thanksgiving day, this is the way to do it.

This thing looked downright MEDIEVAL. My dear brother-in-law described the legs as looking straight out of Beowulf – thanks for the name, Matt!

Keep reading for the full recipe, as well as all of the steps to a perfect bird. {Read on!}

23) SKNY Ravelry Project Roundup

SKNY Ravelry Project Roundup

Selfish Knitting New Year is almost here!

I know you are probably elbow deep in your Christmas projects right now, but I wanted to ask – have you rounded up your patterns that you are making for yourself for January? No?

Worry not, I did it for you. Today I’m bringing you 42 Ravelry knitting patterns for items for the head, neck, hands and feet (including a plethora of LOTR socks – yes, I’m totally geeking out on them) to get your motors running. They are all fairly quick to make (i.e. all accessories, no sweaters), all available online, and all anywhere from free to $6 each.

Are you ready to make some beautiful things for yourself? Click here to read more about how to participate! Then just click on any of the photos below to check out the patterns on Ravelry. {Read on!}

24) Reusable DIY Sticky Note Calendar

Reusable DIY Sticky Note Calendar

In our house, calendars are required to keep life livable.
But there are problems with most wall calendars.

1) You can only see one month at a time 2) Days get too filled up/scratched off, etc. 3) You have to buy a new one every year.

Methinks I have come up with a better way. With little more than 12 sheets of scrapbook paper and some Post-its, you can make a beautiful wall calendar where you can rewrite and replace days when you need to, see the entire year at a glance (real-time, not even just calendar year), and use it again, year after year.

It’s pretty cool, let me show you how. {Read on!}

And that was how 2012 went! Thank you all so much for reading, for your support, and being your awesome selves. If there is anything you would like to see on Leave Me to My Projects in the coming year, shout it out in the comments below!

What made 2012 awesome for you?

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