One year ago today, with the softest thud, I landed here in this big, white, open space. I dusted myself off, looked around, tapped out my first quiet words, and with the push of a button, Sweet Amandine rumbled to life. 2009 was a big year for me. I took some scary exams, got rolling on my dissertation, had my head pieced back together, and fully recovered from a devastating illness. But more than anything, 2009 was the year that I started writing again. My time away from graduate school – heck, from life as I knew it – turned out to be not so much a leave of absence as a leave of presence. And speaking of presence, your being here has made it all the sweeter, and certainly a lot more fun.

I believe that we have the power to create the lives that we want to live. With this in mind, I rarely make a move without weighing my options. I research. I make lists. I poll friends and family and experts in the field. I think and I think, and I think some more. Going with the flow doesn’t exactly come easily to me. Except for when it does. Occasionally, amidst so much contemplation and calculation, my intuition kicks in, wrestles all of my best laid plans to the ground, and yanks me over to a place that feels inexplicably right. I have found that the easiest decisions – the best decisions – are usually the ones that hardly feel like decisions at all. They’re the ones I barely remember making, that sneak up and choose me, instead of the other way around. I felt this way when, after four years of friendship, Eli and I fell in love and knew in an instant that we would spend our lives together. There would be two years of living an ocean apart, and challenges to be sure, but somehow, none of it ever felt all that hard. It was, and continues to be, strangely simple.

This site came to be in a similar way, totally out of the blue. There was none of the usual agonizing, no soul-searching, no reading up, no thinking- thinking-thinking about what this site would or could or should be. All I knew was that I wanted to spend my days doing something that I loved. I wanted to write, and Sweet Amandine gave me a place to do it. Now, I can’t imagine not writing here. That rough-and-tumble intuition knows what she’s doing.

To celebrate our first year, I’ve cleaned things up a bit around here. I’ve given the sidebar a few nips and tucks, tightened a couple of screws, and rolled out a new font. I hope you like it. Thank you all so much for joining me here. I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be a very good year.

See you back here on Monday, with a recipe.


Tea said...

I am so glad you just jumped in! I find some of the biggest decisions we make--judged so in hindsight at least--are ones you just do, no pro and con list needed.

I'm so glad I got to know you (and your intense year) through Sweet Amandine. Here's to many more (less intense) years!

Maggie said...

Congrats on the blogaversary! The site is so lovely.

Char said...

Happy Blogaversary!!! I'm so happy I stumbled upon you. Your writings are so beautiful

Happy 2010

Shannalee said...

Happy one year, Sweet Amandine! Jess, it's been such a pleasure getting to know you through your blog (and Flickr and Twitter) over the last year, and I always love reading your thoughts and seeing your pictures. Thanks for all the inspiration and beauty you've added to my life, through this little, so-natural blog thing.

Linda said...

what a lovely post!
firstly, happy anniversary enjoyed in good health!
2010 will be a good year...your positive energy is electrifying!

bluejeangourmet said...

I'm with you, girl--we always *know* what the right thing is, because really, on some level, we're just making it up/choosing it for ourselves. it's all about that radical trust, right?

so happy that Sweet Amandine came into the world and you came into my life! cheers xx

PS--loving your new sidebar photo

Nithya said...

Happy Birthday, Sweet Amandine. Jess, I don't know you personally, but your writing is so warm, it makes me feel like a friend. Ever since I read your post, "The other side," I've been hooked. I visit here again and again, seeking both inspiration and recipes and you've never disappointed me. Thank you, for being so generous and sharing your words and your life.

Tartelette said...

Happy Blog Anniversary! Here is to a better 2010!

jodi said...

happy, happy anniversary!

BF said...

a big, hearty cheers to 1 year from across the pond, jess!
(and in case i haven't said this before: your writing is seriously fantastic)

Kimberly300 said...

love love love your blog! can't wait to read more..

Happy Birthday!

momMe said...

Happy Birthday SA!! You have made me laugh, cry, think, cook, and even bake --- you inspire me with your creativity --- here's to many, many more. love you

Megan said...

Congratulations on your one-year blogiversary! I love your writing. Looking forward to more of it!

megan said...

Happy Birthday, Sweet Amandine! Thanks for making me misty and hungry and smiley, and /so grateful/ for my friends month after month in 09. 2010 is going to be great - Can't wait to share it with you!


jacqui | happyjackeats said...

happy one year blogiversary, sweet amandine! i look forward to another year of touching stories, lovely photos, and delcious food! congrats, jess. you've created something very special here, and you should be very proud.

Sara said...

love, love, love your blog. :)

Catherine said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog immensely since I found it a couple of months ago, and I look forward to reading what's yet to come. All the best for the coming year, I hope it's full of happiness, health and, of course, lots of good food!

nina said...

happy birthday sweet amadine! i'm so glad to have "met" you and your words here and on flickr. i'm so grateful for your stories, your recipes, and your love of food that shines through each one of your posts.

if you ever need to bend an ear about dissertating, [yes, it is a verb!:)] i'm here for you.

i think 2010 will be great for you and i look forward to watching it unfold in this space.

all my best!

kathryn said...

Jess, congratulations on the one year birthday - well done you. That is quite an achievement. And I'm looking forward to what the next year holds at Sweet Amandine.

Oh yes and I like the tweaks you've made, especially the font.

Jess said...

Hi everyone! Many thanks to all of you for stopping by to celebrate with me. To you familiar voices: seeing your names pop up in the comments always makes my heart squeeze. And to those of you who spoke up for the very first time today: Hello there! Welcome! I look forward to continuing our conversations over the coming year.

Dear Tea, I think that you said it just right. (You have a reputation for that, you know?) Though I think I'm actually rather fond of "intense years." (Just not brain surgery intense.)

Maggie - Thank you. That means a lot coming from you and your well-trained eye!

Char - Thank you. I'm so glad you're here.

Shannalee - You always say the sweetest things. I feel so grateful to have found such an extraordinary community here on the internets. Who knew? (Um, okay, the answer to that question is probably "Everyone," but I sure didn't.)

Linda - Thank you. For some reason, I also have a very good feeling about 2010.

bluejeangourmet - Oh, Nishta. I've been struggling with how to understand this idea of a "right thing." And then you pop in, and all off-the-cuff like, manage to say it so beautifully. So happy to know you, friend.

Nithya - I think I just turned about 27 shades of red. What a lovely, lovely note. Thank you, dear Nithya, for being here. (p.s. - I don't know if you checked back, but I (finally! I'm sorry!) replied to your comment on the Sarasohn essay in the carrot cake cupcake post. )

Tartelette - Thank you, dear Helen. I wish the same for you.

Jodi - If I'm not mistaken, this is your first time speaking up in this space. Welcome! I hope that the journey from Flickr-land was smooth.

BF - Thank you, Brian. That means a lot.

Kimberly300 - Your enthusiasm has me smiling from ear to ear. Thank you.

Mom - Hi! Yes, to many, MANY more. I miss you. Come visit. We'll cook.

Megan - Thank you!

*Your attention please.* (tap-tap-tap. Is this thing on?)


This next loyal reader has a habit of blowing me away with her giant heart, and big, fat, brilliant brain. It should have come as no surprise when she called even before she had caught sight of this post to wish Sweet Amandine many happy returns. Somehow, this very dear friend remembered the exact day that little Sweet Amandine was born. For cryin' out loud, Megan, even I had to look it up! I should have done this a long time ago, but better late than never: I hereby name you Sweet Amandine's official godmother. It's the least I can do, seeing as how this whole thing was your idea in the first place! Seriously, Megan, thank you so much for believing in me. xo.

Jacqui - Thank you. I hope you know that the feeling is mutual.

Sara - Thank you!

Catherine - I'm so happy to hear that you've been reading. I believe we've met here in the comments once before, on a recent post, no? In any case, welcome! And best wishes to you, too, for a wonderful 2010.

Nina, my dear, thank you, thank you for coming along with me this year. I am also so happy to have "met" you. Tell those ears of yours that I might just take you up on your offer.

Kathryn - Thank you! I'm so grateful that you're reading, and happy to hear that you're a fan of the New Year's nips and tucks.

Nanette said...

Jess may 2010 be filled with great joy, health and adventure!

Jenious said...

Cheers to your first blog birthday! I know there will be many more to follow. You touch, so beautifully, upon the unexpected reward of writing a blog. They are lovely little buggers who tug at our attention and are worth every ounce of care and sacrifice. Sorta like Home, I suppose. Take care, dear Jess.

Jess said...

Nanette - Sounds good to me! Thank you. Wishing you all the best in the New Year.

Jenious - Thank you, Jen. You said it; this space does indeed feel like home. Happy 2010 to you.

megan said...

Oh, my - I'm honored! I love this idea - godparents for projects...I may adopt it, if you don't mind. The truth is, though, I had very little to do with it - my heart squeezes when I think about it now - an idea appeared at an offhand moment. And it turned out to be so right! She's good, that intuition.


Kasey said...

Happy anniversary! It's beena pleasure and I can't wait for more. :)

Julie said...

So often thinking things over results in talking ourselves out of doing something, rather than coming up with the best approach... so glad you went with your heart and jumped right in - we're all better off for it!

Rupinder Bisla said...

dearest jessa, i have a feeling 2010 is going to be a great year! i miss you terribly, and i honestly think you need to plan a trip to israel (very soon).

lots and lots of love.

Rosiecat said...

Happy birthday, Sweet Amandine! I truly love this site and feel deeply inspired by the words and recipes.

By the way, I made your Simplest Tomato Soup for my favorite guy, and he loved it, which is saying a lot! Then we ate it again the next night to accompany our smoked paprika taste-testing using roasted potatoes, and the soup anchored our meal like the champ it is. So it's officially in rotation. Hip hip!

Lindsey@pickyeatings said...

Congrats on your first year of blogging! Here's to many more!

Susan said...

Congrats! This... "I have found that the easiest decisions – the best decisions – are usually the ones that hardly feel like decisions at all."... is the type of thing I'd like to hang by my desk as a reminder to myself everyday.

Jess said...

Megan - Adopt away. xo.

Kasey - Thank you. The pleasure is mine!

Thanks, Julie. Your encouragement has meant so much to me this year.

Rupinder - I miss you, too! Yes, I'm long overdue for a trip across the ocean. Let me discuss it with the Eli and get back to you. So much love to you, Joel.

Rosiecat - Thank you for your very kind note. It has been a pleasure "meeting" you this year, and I look forward to continuing our conversations. I'm thrilled to hear that the tomato soup is working out for you and your man. Oh, and please pass the smoked paprika potatoes. They sound delicious.

Lindsey - Thank you!

Susan - I should probably hang that on my wall, too. (Just because I said it doesn't mean I'm always good at remembering it!)

Andrea [bella eats] said...

Jess, a very Happy Birthday to your blog, m'dear! I adore Sweet Amandine, and you, and look forward to years worth of stories and recipes from your fingertips. xoxo.

Jess said...

Andrea - Thank you, friend. You are too sweet. The feeling is mutual, of course. xo.

Jennifer said...

I'm really looking forward to trying this recipe using fennel pollen as a garnish. I brought it back from a recent visit to Italy, and I've been trying to find ways to use it. This looks promising. Thank you!

LyB said...

Happy one year anniversary! I only discovered your blog fairly recently but it has become one of my regular reads. You write beautifully, may 2010 continue to be inspiring! :)

Jess said...

Jennifer - I had never heard of fennel pollen, and so I Googled it. This is what I found: "In an article for Saveur magazine, Peggy Knickerbocker wrote, "If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it."" Whoa. This stuff sounds serious. Enjoy!

LyB - Hello, and welcome! Thank you for the anniversary wishes, and congratulations to you, too, on celebrating two whole years of blogging. I'm so glad that you decided to leave a note. It really means so much to me that you're checking in here regularly.

Britt said...

Happy (belated) anniversary, congratulations! I too think that 2010 is going to be a very good year--I can just feel it. I'm so glad to hear it's already looking bright for you and can't wait to read more of your lovely words.

Jess said...

Hello, Britt, and thanks for your kind note. I know what you mean about 2010. I feel it, too. I really do.