Ten Things From 2011 That Changed My World

Welcome to AOC’s “Top Ten” series for 2011! Can you believe we’re so close to 2012? I’m still working on getting all our Christmas decorations put away – even though it seems like we just put them up!

Anyway…when I made some top ten lists last year, I found it to be a great way to not only remember the goals we reached and the projects we completed (or not!), but it also helped me to plan for the next year. I’m not the best at making goals, planning and then executing those goals, so I’m using anything I can to keep me motivated!

Whew- so over the next two weeks I will have top ten lists for my favorite recipes, DIY projects, gardening ideas, and tutorials from the past year, ending with a recap of the 2011 goals I shared with you last January and a whole new set of goals for 2012.

Do you make “best of” lists, too? I’d love to know about it so I can read about your “bests of 2011,” so make sure to leave your link in the comments!

Today, however, is all about the things that changed my world – big OR small – in 2011. How do I determine what makes this list? Last year’s list included pretty much anything that impacted me, this blog, my family. and you. Actually, sometimes it’s pretty random, but that’s what makes this list fun!

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The 2nd Anniversary of An Oregon Cottage! Who knew doing a week of giveaways could be so fun? I LOVED hearing from so many of you and being able to gift a few of you with some of my favorite things.

In a couple months, it’ll be our 3rd anniversary…wow.

2. Focusing on seasonal eating. I often wrote about eating seasonally during our Tuesday Garden Parties (which start again March 1st, but the way!), but starting a Seasonal Cooking series last May that listed produce available during the month, what might be in our pantries (dry, frozen, or canned), and recipe ideas for using these things turned out to be a great tool that helped me to plan our menu around seasonal foods.

3. Our brown paper floor treatment featured in Cottages and Bungalows magazine. I probably need a couple of exclamations after that, huh? !!! What a thrill to be in a national magazine- and they were such great people to work with. I gave away copies and subscriptions to you guys, my family and friends, the neighbors, the mail carrier, people walking by…pretty much no one was safe from me pushing a magazine in their face!

4. Falling in love – finally! – with my cast iron pan. It was a good day at our house when I learned how to clean and care for my old cast iron pan. I threw out all my flaky non-stick pans and haven’t looked back once. I even made crepes with it the other night with no sticking whatsoever!

What was so amazing to me, however, is your response to this post (I wondered how a post with a picture of a dirty pan would go over)- it took off like wildfire and got Stumbled over and over throughout the summer! Apparently I was not alone in my inability to figure out cooking with cast iron.

5. Starting a “Thankfulness Journal” after reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. I’ve kept it in my kitchen to help me be more faithful in recording the things that move me. Some days I write nothing and other days 8 things, but all of it helps remind me of who I am, who God is, where I am, and how even on days when it seems there is nothing to be thankful for…there is.

6. I shared these tips about how I easily keep my sourdough starter alive without daily feeding or a lot of attention. 2011 should probably be deemed the “year of sourdough” in our house – not only did I keep it alive, I also routinely make bread, bagels, crackers, waffles, English muffins, and even artisan bread (*gasp* don’t worry, I haven’t turned my back on my old standby easy artisan bread!) with hardly any fails like this funny one from 2009.

The moral? Keep trying and with just a bit of attention, you can bake with sourdough, too. I love not being so dependent on yeast- if it’s fresh, or I’m out – it doesn’t matter so much now.

7. OK, so I’m going to share with you that it was with trepidation that I hit “publish” on my article about how homemade deodorant worked for me. I mean, I shared all about my stinky past for goodness sake.

What a relief to find I was not alone and that many of you have had the same (silent) problem. Whew! I was so glad to read your comments – especially when you tried it and had the same experience as I did (and do!).

8. Discovering that using an inexpensive hand-held paint sprayer really does work! Oh, to think about all the chairs, dressers, and doors I’ve spent hours painting with a brush…well- no more! This baby is my new favorite toy.

9. Hmm… the theme here seems to be what made my life easier, doesn’t it? But those are the best discoveries, aren’t they? Learning that I didn’t have to peel all the tomatoes before canning my favorite salsa or my addictive tomato chutney was a revelation. I’m sure it saved me hours of time over the course of the canning season. And that’s worth writing about!

10. Saving up to pay cash for my iPad (and being featured on Money Saving Mom!). Which I use everyday. Which I love. No, it didn’t change the world and I haven’t stopped using my laptop for blogging, but it sure makes life a little more fun. And shows that even on a tight budget, there are ways to save and buy a “fun” item – and even have a great time doing it!

Whaddya think? What are the things that made a difference to you in 2011?






  1. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Sak- Wha-hoo! Good for you – and I’m totally jealous of not one, but TWO dutch ovens. 😉 I’m always on the look-out for more cast iron now that it’s my friend!

    Diana- I so appreciate your comment and your readership! Your list is great and I can relate to many of those, too- especially the photography one. I’m always trying to become better at taking pictures for the blog. 😉

  2. Sak says

    I want to thank you sooooooo much for the cast iron tutorial! I was given a 12″ pan, a flat 10″ , an 8″ pan, and 2 enameled Dutch ovens. The pans have sat unused for months because I was afraid of them, but last night I broke down and made some fajitas in the 12″ and loved it. Clean up took less than 5 minutes ! Thanks for changing my world! On a side note I love my Dutch ovens!

  3. Diana says

    Thank you for your blog and your list — I went back and reread several of the posts you listed to refresh my memory on them! I have learned so much since I found your blog back last spring/summer!

    Let’s see, making a focused effort to blog between one to three times a week this past year has made a huge difference in my life: I’ve “met” some really wonderful and inspiring people, I’ve learned how to work my camera more or less, how to put pictures into iPhoto, how to upload them to the blog, how to get more out of my laptop, focused on my garden in a more organized way, tried out lots of new recipes, crafts, and different ways of simply looking at things and circumstances.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>