sparkly lights.

Well. That was exhausting. 2014, I mean. Lovely for the most part. But exhausting.

I hope your holidays were marvelous. I just couldn't let the New Year slide by without popping in here to say hello. I'm still getting used to this new routine, that suddenly has my internal alarms going off about taking time to type more than thirty words. Brevity might be the soul of wit, but it is seriously not my strong suit. Which could be the primary reason why this space is so dear to me. A sentence and an image. Sometimes that's all it takes to convey a month's worth of mayhem and joy. and to lighten my heart.

So. It's that time of year again.

I'm looking out into a sky that spans an entire year. Actually, I'm looking out at two. One behind me, one before me. Here I sit, at my bedroom window wrapped in my childhood blanket, and I might as well be perched on a high-wire. I'm precisely suspended between reflections and dreams. It's amazing to me how in the blink of an eye everything can change, and with one tick of the clock, everything feels brand new, full of possibility, ripe with second chances.

I just returned from a trip down memory lane, via my archives. I read my journal from exactly one year ago, written from this very same spot. I read it once, then I read it again. I walked it once more, every step of the way. I laughed a sympathetic laugh for that girl, doing her dangdest to love the bleak month of January. So help me Hannah, if I could do it last year, I can surely do it again.

I'm noticing this past week, this past month, that December's light had an allure all its own. Have I never noticed before? It's not glowy, like September's. It's not showy, like June's. It's blurry and blue-tinged. A whisper of beauty with just enough time to race out to play before packing it up and heading home. These days are so short and so cold, but I'm toasted up with the truth of the season this year, and the knowledge that it has no end, after all. That, along with a gift of love, a tiny glimmer of hope, and a chance to create a selfless spirit and a million more memories, are some of the brightest parts of me. They inspire me to try harder and try less. They inspire me to eaves-drop on my own life like no body's business.

They are my sparkly lights.

So, happy eve-of-the-new-year, my friends. Your encouragement and humor and love has amped up my world. I am ever-honored that you come back here and read my scratches. It is humbling. and illuminating.  please know for sure that I appreciate you to the gauzy winter moon and back. 

My word last year was Intentional, and to a degree, it fit. I think  of my word for this year over and over again as I spend my days carving out space for all the new, slowly adding it to the mix. I believed last year and I believe today that things don't just happen because you'd like them to. Sometimes a whole lot of effort is required. and a whole lots of prayers.

On the flip-side, I have seen from the (dis)comfort of the very front row that all of the good intentions in the world amount to nothing when God has something different in mind.

365 days ago, I had no clue that all of my talk about contentment in the new year would mean that my foundation would be rocked once more. I had no idea that my tiny kernel of a feeling about serving others would grow in the way that it has.

I don't know what 2015 might hold. It would be pointless to guess. I know that there are things on my mind, some silly and some grand. I do have some plans up my sleeve and I am charmed and exhilarated by the stretch of white lined up long and clean before me, begging for the touch of a pen and a life well lived. I love the idea of a fresh start on our hands, Baby. It's a brand new book, the spine unscarred, the pages smooth.

So. it's not snowing. Have we even had snow this year? I will never forget last year, and writing my New Year's lists while snowed in. I was on the cusp of so many things without even knowing it. I look back on my resolutions and can't decide if I want to laugh or cry. One thing I know for sure, with all that has happened, I am amazed to still be laughing and loving each day, a little worse for wear, worn out and dusty, but nonetheless whole. And moving forward. That is the important thing. I won't be making a list this year. Instead, I will finish the unfinished and start something new, whatever that might be. No, I never learned to play the accordion, and I am 51 weeks more than a few weeks behind on 52 Weeks of Photos thanks to some unexpected issues, but I will carry on.

Wishing you and yours joy and respite on the last day of the year. December, dude. So much goodness, so much heaviness, all at once. For me it’s always been a month where the decisions, assumptions, and challenges that I had convinced myself were reconciled over the year seem to make their way back up to the surface. You know what I mean, right? Those wounds you thought you’d healed, the parts of yourself you thought you’d made peace with don’t look so sparkly anymore.  There’s this challenge to stay light and grateful amidst those nudges to take stock after another full year.

Once again I'm reminded that holy moses-jesus-buddha-mohammed do I still have SO much work to do in the grace and forgiveness department. It seems the minute I get too comfortable with the idea, or illusion, really, that I’m operating at acceptable levels of compassion or humility or unselfish love, life and circumstance have a way of calling my bluff and putting me on my knees again. I’m glad for that.
And so, a New Year. Here to enjoy and embrace and remember and love one another in the best way we know how. Stitch by stitch, day by day. My only goal is to be a good person, I fail often, but I keep trying. And that is the beautiful thing.

 I would ask you what your resolutions are, my friends, but in the spirit of things, I will ask you instead, what one thing will you let yourself off the hook for this year. Because it's going to be that kind of year, and I am just going to roll with it.

All love and peace and wishes for a Happy New Year

 just sayin'.


12 Tbs (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/8 cup sugar
4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
3 Tbs olive oil
1 ¾ cups (230 g) flour
2 tsps baking powder
Gently rounded ¼ tsp salt
2 Tbs milk
¼ tsp vanilla
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
Zest of 1 large orange
1 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a standard loaf pan and fit a piece of parchment paper in the bottom. 

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

Cream the softened butter and the sugar together in a large mixing bowl, beating with an electric mixer until blended, light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time then beat in the olive oil. Beat in the flour mix until blended, scraping down the sides.

Divide the batter evenly between two bowls. Beat the milk, vanilla and cocoa powder into one portion of the batter; beat the orange zest and juice into the other portion of batter.

Spoon large dollops of each mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Drag a skewer or a long, sharp knife blade back and forth through the dough in swirls to create a marble pattern; do not over mix or swirl or you won’t see the pattern. Smooth the surface if necessary.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes until the cake is set all the way to the center and just barely begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about ten minutes before loosening the cake by sliding a knife around the edged and turning it out, removing the parchment paper from the bottom and allowing it to cool, top side up, on a rack. If you like, prepare a ganache using orange-scented chocolate and cream to drizzle over the top.


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