05 January 2012

Looking Back at 2011

In January, we rang in the New Year with Jurgen's parents in Cape Town and then flew back to Gauteng to begin our second year in Johannesburg.  I decided to start this little blog on a whim after having followed a friend's blog for months, but wasn't sure whether I would keep up with it or not.  I created a 50 Things for 2011  list and completed my first recipe post.  Jurgen buckled down for the final year of his PhD.

In February, I welcomed the sunny weather by planting my first little herb garden just before {reluctantly} starting my first year of postgrad.  Early in the month my Grandpa gave us a scare when he had a heart attack and had to undergo triple bypass surgery {but thankfully he has almost fully recovered now}.  In true Valentine's Day fashion I posted a recipe for Strawberry, Basil & Vanilla Syrup and also tried my hand at Red Velvet Cupcakes for the first time.  Jurgen and I celebrated three years together and also celebrated my 24th birthday by going to see U2 in concert.

The month of March was full of excitement and surprises as I announced that I would be starting a new job in April and continued to become accustomed to post-graduate life. We all grieved the horrible tragedy that unexpectedly hit Japan, and I worried a lot about my friend Katie who was teaching English there.  I posted the perfect week night recipe, came up with a healthy dose of inspiration one day when I was feeling gloomy and shared seven random facts about myself.  A post was dedicated to, quite possibly, my most favorite city in the whole world. Jurgen and I had a blast taking a ride on the Gautrain just for the fun of it, and at the end of the month we geared up for a little getaway to the adorable mountain town of Clarens.

We kicked off the month of April with a wonderfully relaxing week in Clarens during which time I hosted my first series of guest posts on the blog {see herehereherehere and here}.  After arriving back from an idyllic weekend away, I began my new job, disappeared from the blogosphere for a week or so, and then suddenly re-emerged with a post where I spilled the beans about this nasty habit of mine.  I also managed to post a recipe on the art of making pizza from scratch, and indulged in my cheesier side with this {deeper than usual} post on "Discovering Your Music".  With the end of the month came Easter and a very impulsive {but well worth it} trip home to California where I got to spend some much needed time with family.

After arriving back from California in May, Jurgen and I spent the weekend the way I wish all weekend's could be spent: trying out a new pizza restaurant and watching a Bulls Rugby Game at Loftus with friends.  My Mom graduated with her Bachelor's degree from my Alma Mater and I finished up my first semester of post-grad.  Somewhere along the way I became a converted green-tea-oholic and then tried to convince you all to become one too.  Jurgen and I spent an afternoon studying at the Design Quarter and then wrapped up the month by going to cheer on our favorite team yet again.

In June I discovered a recipe for the best pumpkin pancakes ever and dove into a huge new project at work {which ended up being a complete and utter nightmare, truth be told}.  I wrote my first book review, wished my Dad a Happy Father's Day from afar, and let you in on the odd fact that there are real live penguins living in Africa.  At the end of the month, Jurgen and I headed on a little road trip to the east coast of South Africa, both to watch one of his childhood friends get married and to celebrate his 27th birthday.  We had a blast taking in the new scenery, visiting uShaka Marine World {think SeaWorld}, and soaking up the sunshine.  While we were away, four of my very favorite South African bloggers were sweet enough to guest post for me {see hereherehere and here}.

During July I was virtually non-existent in the blogosphere due to an extremely busy month at work {cue above said nightmare project}.  Aside from a 4th of July Post on how living in a foreign country has made me appreciate being an American more, and a guest post for Taryn, this little blog of mine had absolutely nothing going on{much to my dismay!}. Luckily, I did get to squeeze in my first blate {blate = blogger + date} with the lovely Megan, although I only found time to actually write about it in August {fail}.

In August, my scarcity around the blogosphere continued as said nightmare project continued to occupy my every waking minute.  Still, I squeezed in time to share about what I had been up to in July and Jurgen and I enjoyed a few study dates over cappucinos at one of our favorite places in Jo'burg.  We also celebrated three and half years of togetherness <3

During September, I wrapped up my nightmare work project and started to get back into a normal routine again {yipee!}.  I spent lots of my weekends sleeping in, going on lunch dates, and meeting up with friends.  Jurgen and I ran a 10km together at the Johannesburg Zoo and cheered on the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup.  We ended the month by spending a safari-filled week in Kruger where we hopped around the park and stayed at lots of different rest camps.

We started October off on the right foot by heading out to FNB Stadium to see Coldplay in concert: Jurg and I both agreed that it was the best concert we've ever been to and probably will ever go to - so good!  Then, we went on a weekend trip to Cape Town to watch two of our dear friends get married on the beach.  At the end of the month I spent some time sulking when Jurgen had to leave to go to Switzerland for 3 weeks to finish his phd, but wrote a pretty big to-do list full of things to distract me while he was away.  I also had so much fun making friends with UK ex-pat and blogger Martina who, along with her boyfriend Rob, introduced me to one of Jo'burg's best kept secrets.

Photo Credit: Martina

November turned out to be a wonderful month since I wrapped up my first year of post-grad {yeah!}, Jurgen came back from Switzerland, and the Jacaranda trees were in full bloom.  I discovered another quick and easy weeknight recipe and shared about the long weekend we had spent in Cape Town and Paternoster.  At the end of the month we were absolutely blessed with Thanksgiving, where we got to celebrate on two occasions, once with friends and once just us two!

December was, without a doubt, the best month of the year.  Before gearing up for the long flight to California, I asked asked friends {both blog and real life} and family if they'd be willing to donate towards a a special cause near and dear to my heart and was absolutely blown away by everyone's willingness to contribute {post to come on that soon!}.  Next came an amazing trip to the United States where I spent two weeks soaking up every minute possible with family and friends.  While there we got to celebrate my Grandpa's 80th birthday.  I arrived back in South Africa just in time for Christmas, and on Christmas Eve, Jurgen and I decided to buy plane tickets out to Cape Town for the next morning, so that we could spend the rest of the holidays with his parents and also celebrate his Mother's 50th Birthday.  All in all it was a wonderful holiday!


2011 you've been good to me, although you may also ring in as my most challenging year so far.

Here's to hoping that 2012 is the best year yet for all of us!!!

{2012 Resolutions to come soon!}


  1. Oh my goodness, what a busy year! You have no idea how happy it makes me to know that I had a little part in inspiring you to start this blog :) And I'm so glad you did! I hope this year isn't as stressful. Hopefully there won't be any rough projects, and that you'll get to blog a little bit more. I always love reading about your life!

    Happy new year!


  2. Wow, what a great year you've had! All the nature photos look amazing, almost unreal!
    We were just looking at possible places to go on our honeymoon and South Africa is high on our list, even higher now after seeing your beautiful photos!

    xo Lisa

  3. What a great post. It must have taken AGES to write! Very excited that I got a mention too :-)

  4. what an awesome year...you guys make such a great couple! truly! :-)


    p.s. come on over and take a peek at my CUSTOM BLOG DESIGN giveaway! :-) I think you'll really like it!

  5. Awesome recap post Jen :) I loved reading through everything you did in 2011!

    Hope you had. Great holiday back home, awesome to have you back blogging again!


  6. hi jenna! thanks for stopping by my blog. :) i loved reading about your amazing year! how fun that you're living in SA! i dated a guy from benoni for a little over a year in college... i would have loved to make the trip out there, but as i'm sure you know flights aren't cheap! i'll just have to live vicariously through your adventures there for now. :)



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