Out With the Old: 2012’s To-Dos


Happy New Year, my friends.

I am easing into 2013. My season of travels abroad, visits with friends and family, handmade gifts and home cooked meals is coming to a close, and I am settling in. 2013 promises many challenges and I am gathering the strength to face them.

Last year at this time I made a to-do list. I dislike resolutions, but to-do lists I can handle. Looking back, I feel good about the things I checked off the list. It turns out I cook a lot less than I thought I did but sew quite a bit more. I feel OK with a trade-off like that. Here is my list and how I fared:

Cook 12 new recipes, one per month. Not even close. Though, I probably ate 12 new foods, like natto, coffee jelly, and tom yum. I can’t believe I waited so long for tom yum. What was I thinking?


Read 5 books. I remember thinking this was on the low side, that of course I would read more than 5 books in a year. I read 6.


Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, The Pilgrim Hawk: A Love Story by Glenway Wescott, The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

Visit 6 new places. Cities or countries, it doesn’t matter. And walk around these places without a map. 


  1. Shiga kogen, Nagano, Japan
  2. Hijiori Onsen, Yamagata, Japan
  3. Kuala Lumpur & Malacca, Malaysia
  4. Singapore
  5. Sado Island, Japan
  6. Okinawa, Japan

Make a quilt for myself, for fun. I did, and it was fun. I also spent a lot of time learning to sew clothing. I made 6 new garments and 4 neckties.


Have a conversation with a stranger in Japanese. This really reminds me of how little I could, or would, say before I started my Japanese classes. I was a big chicken. Now I am often faced with having to speak Japanese with strangers, and I’m a little less of a chicken.

2012, I think you did alright by me. I visited lovely new places, I ate a lot and spent quality time with quality people, I learned some things, and even found my face on the Internet (like here and here). Nice work, 2012. Now, can you give 2013 the message?

How did your 2012 to-do lists turn out?


Happy New Year everyone! あけましておめでとうございます!

2012 snuck up on me. I was so busy planning the end of 2011, that I forgot 2012 came next. 2012, you dirty little dog! Name-calling is probably a bad start.

I’m not big on resolutions, but I am big on to-do lists. I LOVE to-do lists and make one every day. I love crossing things off and adding things willy nilly, copying things from yesterday onto today’s list just so I can cross them off again. It’s not cheating.

Instead of resolutions for 2012 I’ve decided to come up with a list of measurable goals, like a to-do list. And in the spirit of accountability, I’ve decided to post some of them here. Having all you watching me is bound to guilt whip me into shape. So, for 2012 I plan to:

  • Cook 12 new recipes, one per month.
  • Read 5 books. This seems low, and I thought about hiking up the number to look smart but then remembered this list is about achievable goals, so 5 it is. Even if I have 7 in my pile. And no, the Hunger Games trilogy I read over Christmas doesn’t count. But maybe Swamplandia!, which I started just after Christmas does.
  • Visit 6 new places. Cities or countries, it doesn’t matter. And walk around these places without a map.
  • Make a quilt for myself, for fun.
  • Have a conversation with a stranger in Japanese.

I’m feeling a little bit cocky about starting on my list, since today I found a new recipe via my friend’s blog and I start my full-time Japanese classes. That’s 5 days a week, baby! I even have a new backpack, fresh notebooks, and an erasable pen for the occasion.

2012, bring it on.