2016 / by Alexa Arnold

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It's become a ritual, likely inherited from my mother, that before I leave for any extended trip, I spend days scrubbing our apartment clean. From the floors, to the piles of laundry we’d let build up over weeks, to the dust that’d been gathering on the hard-to-reach windowsill in our bedroom. I emptied out the fridge, gave extra sweet potatoes and parsnips and ginger root that would likely go bad to friends, and wiped down every last inch. I did all of this in anticipation of the feeling I’d get to feel when we returned three weeks later to a spotless, clean apartment. A clean slate for a new year, all of our belongings in order.

Naturally, the turn of the year has left me reflecting on 2015, our second year living in the tiny apartment that overlooks the garden in Park Slope. It was a year of learning and growth, as is every year, but this year felt particularly challenging and rewarding. My job took me all over the country to advocate for healthy, just, and sustainable lunches in schools, and pushed me to try new things, let go of my need to control, and speak up for myself and my beliefs. The city that felt so foreign to me two years ago feels like home, so much so that I can’t imagine leaving. We joined our first CSA in the city and built relationships with farmers at the markets in our neighborhood, which gave me the sense of community I’ve missed so much about Kentucky. I ran miles and miles around Brooklyn, along streets lined with apple blossoms, then lush leafy greens, then string lights and fir trees and the smell of the heartwarming excitement that comes with the end of year holidays. I started this blog, and pushed myself to share more about how food has empowered me. 

Instead of sharing a recipe today, I’ve included a few photos of a calendar I put together for 2016, along with some intentions for the year. Finding the perfect, well-designed calendar is among my favorite ways to celebrate the new year, and compiling one of my own was a fun way to revisit memories from the past year. The photos, all taken by me, come from scenes in my kitchen, the farmers market, and on working farms I’ve had the opportunity to visit. Market bins filled with beets in January, spring peas boiling on the stove in May, paw paws in the hands of the farmer who grew them in October, and root vegetables ready for roasting in December. My talented friend, Jessica, designed the text and lettering for each month. Each page is printed on thick cardstock, then stacked and clipped together on a small clipboard. The clipboard has magnets on the back, so the calendar can be hung on the fridge, serving as daily inspiration for seasonal eating. Alternatively, it can easily be hung on a wall using a small nail. It should also be noted that the overall design of the calendar is very much inspired by Artifact Uprising, whose minimalist aesthetic I completely adore.

If you happen to be interested in purchasing one, please reach out to me through my contact page, in the comments, or at bestbiteoftheplum@gmail.com.

And last, some intentions for 2016: laugh louder, work harder, live lighter, love deeper, judge slower. Embrace change with open arms. Remember that you are enough. 

Wishing you and yours a happy, full and adventurous year. To those who've been following, reading, connecting and cooking – thank you.