It's no secret - 2020 was difficult. Nothing test one's faith, patience and genuine happiness like a world-wide pandemic.
But despite the lows, the trials and feelings of helplessness, there was some good that came of 2020. Our family grew by one member, I accomplished my one goal for the year - buying a home - and I grew both personally and professionally throughout the year.
Now it is not lost on me, that this year brought tremendous sadness and suffering. Some went through the worst year of their lives. I pray, sympathize and hurt for those who lost loved ones and livelihoods. I write these highlights not to be disrespectful, but to remind myself to be grateful for the big and small things in life... as tomorrow is never guaranteed.
a new family member - dixie
A rescue from the state of Georgia, this beagle-mix pup became the newest addition to the Currie family. Initially starting life abandoned on the side of the road, Dixie now lives with my mom & dad in Nashville, keeping them young with all her shenanigans and misbehavior. She's the perfect fit for our family... and we're all in love. (And she's already managed to move from the dog bed to mom & dad's bed every night... #spoiled)
a new residence - bought my first house!
After years of living in an apartment, I finally bit the bullet and bought my first house. With the help of an incredible realtor & a quick decision based on a gut feeling, I purchased a new build on the edge of the Texas Hill Country.
I could not be happier with this little home I now call mine.
a new hobby - reading
As a kid, I did not particularly enjoy reading (I was a science geek through & through). But with so much alone time during quarantine, I picked up the hobby of reading thanks to my sweet friend, Leah. (Leave it to a teacher to know just what books to give you to make you fall in love with reading.)
Where the Crawdads Sing, A Man Called Ove, My Sister's Keeper... just to name a few.
a career first - hurricane coverage
From a career standpoint, covering Hurricane Delta's landfall in Lake Charles, Louisiana was a highlight. To be able to be in the thick of it - to hear the howling of the wind, feel the sideways rain and to watch the water rise - it's an experience that a textbook can never give and a real-life understanding that will help me forecast the next storm.
But from a human perspective, this was a tough assignment - both physically and emotionally. Sitting in a car for 9 hours without real food (or a bathroom) is rough on the body... but doesn't compare to the toll of seeing homes, businesses and livelihoods destroyed, devastated by back-to-back hurricanes. To this day, I get sad knowing the long road to recovery that lies ahead for many Louisianans. They needed our prayers then... and still need them now.
new memories with familiar faces
Despite spending most of the year on lockdown, a few friends were able to squeeze in a visit to ATX. I loved seeing these familiar faces from Albuquerque and Lubbock.
Here's to more memories in the years ahead...
A cancelled spring break trip, flights suspended and holidays spent stuck inside.. despite it all, I'm grateful for the time I did get to spend with family. My sister earned her white coat from CU's School of Dental Medicine in February, my mom took my dad to New Orleans (pre-pandemic) for his 60th birthday in March, and we were all able to spend Christmas together after many COVID-tests and time in quarantine.
Thank God for family - because I wouldn't survived this year without them.
My first full year in ATX
After moving to Austin in July 2019, this year marked my first full year in Central Texas. January to December - experiencing all seasons, all holidays, all that one can do despite a world-wide pandemic.
2020 brought a lot of sadness, fear and frustration... but I choose to focus on the good, the growth and the blessings. All we can do is pray for those who are suffering, help where we can, live a grateful life and hope for better days ahead.
I've always enjoyed decorating for the holidays... I'm all for the ribbon, lights, glitter, shine & sparkle. And I'll tell you - buying my first Christmas tree years ago for my tiny one-bedroom apartment in Albuquerque was exciting... but a whole home to decorate?! Happiness level --> VERY HIGH.
Now let the record show, I am no professional when it comes to decorating. Most of it is homemade and hung with command hooks or sticky tape because I'm too afraid to poke holes in the wall (trauma from years of living in an apartment). So I share these photos not to prove I know what I'm doing... but to show what's possible with a little creativity and an addiction to 50% tags.
I picked up this beaded garland at Hobby Lobby (50% off!) and thought it would be perfect to frame the door to the backyard. The doors in the house are 9 feet... so I needed to buy 4 strands (connecting two on each side). I liked how it looked... but a word to the wise - VERY MESSY. I was sweeping up beads for WEEKS. And despite those things being tiny, they hurt if you stepped on 'em wrong.
The bow was homemade - made of burlap ribbon (no wire).
This was one of my favorite areas to decorate. The table stays up year-round but the top decor was (mostly) new. A lot of the little trinkets I picked up from Hobby Lobby, At Home & Michaels (ex. glitter & bottle brush Christmas trees, snowflakes)... but some of them I've had for awhile (ex. snowman, ornaments).
The garland came from Hobby Lobby (again - 50% off!) I didn't add too much to it since it was already flocked and had a few pinecones and cranberries attached... but I did add a string of battery lights that kicked on automatically at night. (The lights were a warm white.)
Like the back door, the front door is tall. The garland is a combination of 3 strands -- plain evergreen, burlap + buffalo plaid fabric & a string of white lights. I wound the three together and added a few buffalo-plaid ornaments + candy canes to the strand. (Like the beaded garland, the burlap pieces were MESSY - so a good sweep was needed post-hang to pick up all the loose strands.
Also, I'm obsessed with the front mat - ordered that gem from Amazon! (Plus - it matches the flag :) )
As I mentioned, I've had the tree for several years. It's a 7.5-foot fake denison that I bought my first year in ABQ (2014). I love the look of silver & gold... so all the ornaments are a mix of those two colors. The only *new ornaments added this year were the big silver & gold balls (bought for super cheap!) and a few starburst balls.
The ribbon was also new... but I didn't exactly love it. I had seen ribboned trees on Pinterest & thought they all looked very polished. But when I tried to replicate... it looked like little pieces of string just stuck in between branches. So I wasn't too crazy about it.
Note: the tree skirt was also new this year --> handmade by mama. :)
A few things already planned for next year:
Earlier this month, I had some of my girlfriends over for a “hot cocoa happy hour”. I had seen the idea online and thought it looked cute (& easy!) So I went for it.
I thought I would share what I did - just in case anyone else is looking for a sugar bomb :)
HOT COCOA CHARCUTERIE BOARD
HOMEMADE HOT COCOA
CHOCOLATE COVERED MUGS
In a sauce pan, melt 4-5 cups of chocolate chips. Add a splash of milk so it's not quite as thick. Turn mug upside down, dip into the melted chocolate — being careful not to get as much on the handle. Let the extra drip back into pan for 30 seconds… then flip over.
NOTE: I put my mugs in the freezer for about 30 minutes before dunking that way the chocolate would solidify faster and not run down the side too much. I think this helped make it not quite as messy.
ONE MORE THING….
No doubt, a hot cocoa charcuterie board & mug of hot cocoa results in a big time sugar rush. So I also put out a few bowls of salty snacks to help balance the tastebuds. I had out a bowl of popcorn, cheeze-its and potato chips… with another bowl of pieces of fruit and one for veggies (helps with the guilt of eating all the sugar) :)
And don’t forget the holiday plates + napkins!
Going on month #9 of this pandemic, and nothing continues to be easy. Avoiding handshakes and hugs, the need to constantly wear a mask and over-use hand sanitizer, favorite businesses shutting down… it’s a mess of frustration, sadness, fear and anxiety. But the change that has gotten me the most… not seeing family.
The decision to fly home for the holidays this year wasn’t easy. (There were many tears, prayers and moments of stress surrounding both options: to stay or go.) We had this trip planned since the beginning of the year… and the toll of not having seen family / spending most days by myself in studio, was starting to wear.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my job and love being in Texas, but there are times when I just want to be surrounded by family… and unfortunately, there are just too many thousands of miles between California, Colorado and Tennessee to fill that want.
This week, I did my best to limit my exposure… spending most of my days going straight to-and-from work to home. Out of caution, I got a COVID-test on Wednesday and another Friday, both coming back negative. (I didn’t have any symptoms or known exposures, it was purely out of piece of mind). I was hyper about wearing my mask and staying 6-feet from others when possible - the “normal” bit.
Ultimately, it came down to my mental and emotional health. It’s been a year since I’ve been back to California. And what’s more - it’s been a year since I’ve seen some of my family. Physically, I feel great. But mentally, I needed to see my people.
So now, as I sit here on the plane, doubled-up with a disposable mask & a cloth mask, a face-shield and an extra layer of clothing, I’m headed home.
I’ve always been a worrier… so even with the excitement and feelings of relief I have seeing family, I’m still a bit anxious.
But I’ve done what I needed to to control what I can… the rest, I have faith in God for.