2014 in review

In the past I've done a highlight of my top read posts the past year. As I now seem to spend more of my time on Instagram than anything else, I will choose to share the pictures that shared the biggest memories over the past year. 

January 2014- 
The year started with a sleepover and a trip to the Flint Children's Museum. We spent the time with my cousin's 5 children (3 go with one adult, 2 go with the other.) We made pizza, we played games, and we watched the Lorax. What a blessing it was for Brad and I! 

I had my first big company want to partner with me to do a giveaway. It helped bring readership to my blog and allowed me to try some great new products!  

We were able to help arrange a surprise party for our friend for our friend Peter Lemelin. It was such a great time being with friends, as we are usually so active in church that we don't just have "hangout" time together. There was much laughter and the best game of Guesstures I've ever played!

February 2014-
My husband and I both decided to make each other dinner for Valentine's Day this year. Plus,. my mom sent me a box of Milano-type gluten free cookies that were AMAZING!

During the Valentine's season I went up to Mt. Pleasant to spend the day at the water park with my cousin's kids. This allowed me to stop by the home of Rick and Laura Mills. I used to watch their son Seth when I was in college, who is pictured below. This family has been such a huge part of my life, and I wish the physical miles between us were fewer.

March 2014- 
March was a slow month in pictures, but busy in activity. I had my first ever speaking engagement as an expert in Celiac Disease. I spoke at the University of Michigan - Flint. It was rewarding and gave me courage that I truly knew what I was talking about. 
My grandmother also had hip surgery and my mother was in town from Tennessee. I tried to be a help as much as I possibly could. 

April 2014- 
After finishing my talk at U of M Flint, I received an email from the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo that was taking place in Chicago. They asked me to be one of their featured media bloggers for their event. I was beyond excited and stunned. Plus, this would be at the end of the week of Brad's Spring Break, so we could actually take a "vacation" together. My friend Sarah let us stay at her place and we had the chance to explore Chicago before going to the event. Brad was able to have real deep dish Chicago pizza and a Chicago style hot dog. I was able to meet other great bloggers at the event that I still have connections with, plus connections with amazing companies and products. 

May 2014-
I was again able to represent Udi's at the Grand Rapids Gluten Free Food Fair. I love being able to interact with those who must follow a gluten free diet, especially the kiddos.

In the beginning of May, one of the biggest things to those of us living with Celiac Disease was the new LiveGfree line at Aldi. We made sure to talk it up at our support group meeting and many of us bloggers commented on it. The granola is a huge hit in our house and my husband has some in his lunch every day. Since then I have built a great relationship with Kyle, the store manager at our nearest location. I always look forward to seeing him when I go in! 

June 2014- 
Another school year comes to an end at Davison, and that means an end to the Anime club that my husband leads. My husband is always great at reaching out to the fringe kids and giving them activities that they can belong to. I often make or bring snack for Anime club, so they were always excited to see me. This year I made rice krispie sushi. It was pretty epic.

Sarah Gibbons has been my best friend since 4th grade. She was quite the globe-trotter this year, leading a group in Ireland and then taking summer courses in a state far away. This was our one chance to get together this summer. Isn't she pretty?

July 2014- 
This summer was the summer of kids. We watched Maddy and Hannah, who are an absolute delight. They joined us when we went blueberry picking with my niece and nephew, Katy and Sean. It was nice to catch up with Katy when she and her brother stayed over. We made rainbow waffles and she helped served at the men's homeless shelter with us. She  makes me so proud. 

This was also the summer of the "epic" family trip. We piled in our van with my dad and stepmom, drove to South Carolina to pick up my sister, then drove to Tennessee to spend time with my niece Marissa. I took A LOT of pictures on that trip. Then we drove my sister pack home to South Carolina and then returned to Michigan. Lots of miles and memories on that trip! 

And it wasn't just family kids that we spent time with either. Our church had a very successful "Treats and Eats" program at our local park. We started many great relationships with those children and their families. I really looked forward to those Saturdays. 

August 2014-
This summer Brad and I celebrated out 11th anniversary in the greater Grand Rapids area. One of our stops was to tour the old Gibson Guitar factory, which is now the home of Heritage Guitars. They were great enough to show us around even though it wasn't "tour" day, and then they invited us to go listen to them play music. Brad was on cloud nine and had a wonderful time as well!

We also continued our support group's "Meet Up and Eat Ups" at Jack's Place in Flushing. Their head chef has celiac disease as well, and they have gluten free pizza, beer and bowling. They staff there was so nice and generous. Young Irish helped Brad keep score! 

September 2014-
This was my best birthday ever! I participated in my very first FARE Walk to help bring awareness to all food allergies. Due to the generosity of my family, friends and followers, I was one of the top 10 fundraisers for the Lansing area walk.

My grandmother sent me two dozen roses for my birthday which was a TOTAL surprise.

And some "secret" gifters from our church left me love notes all over our lawn while we were gone for my birthday. I am SO blessed by the people God has placed in my life!

My cousin also came home from Seattle for a visit, although not for my birthday. This gave us a chance to take a family photo. My dog Midnight got in on the picture too! 

Another HUGE honor is that I was named Delight Gluten Free Magazine's Blogger of the Week! I submitted a brownie recipe that I created myself, making modifications from another cookbook. 

October 2014-
(moo cluck moo) in Canton changed their menu so that their restaurant would be 100% gluten free. The head chef is a James Beard award winner. My review of their restaurant was my most read post in 2014.  **Update 8/2016- They are no longer a dedicated gluten-free restaurant. Read here for more info.

The 7th annual Lansing Gluten Free Fair was a huge hit this year. As co-chair, I was very pleased with how things turned out. We had over 500 attendees and had many new companies attend this year. One of them is even now being carried locally because of our efforts! 

The trunk or treat at our church was a big success, despite the rain and snow. Brad nnd I participated in the teal pumpkin project for the first time as well.

One of the biggest changes to our household happened in October. Brad found this dog in our church courtyard, and took it into our home as we tried to find its owner. No one ever came forward and now Jasmine brings us laughter everyday.

November 2014-
This year our church did a free community dinner for the people in our area. This young man is Kionte and he is always smiling. :)

November was the month of giveaways on my blog. I was able to introduce people to Foster Farms' gluten free, pork free corn dogs and to Rustic Maka organic deodorants. Rustic Maka is a Michigan based company!

December 2014- 
Brad and I have been building a relationship with two young boys in our neighborhood. Pictured below is Antwon as he is helping decorate one of the Christmas trees in our church. It has been a blessing having them in our life and in our home.

Brad and I were asked to participate as musicians in the wedding of our friends Todd and Stephanie. It was fun to perform with my husband and to dress up. I even wore makeup and high heeled boots!

I went to my first ever men's MSU Basketball game. We played Maryland and lost in double overtime. Despite that, we were able to see some old friends and spend time with new ones. 

New Year's Eve 2014 was spent with my friend Theresa, her daughter Tia and Theresa's grandson Khi. We played games and entertained each other. I am so glad that God brought Theresa and her family into my life!

So what was your highlight of 2014?