Tag Archives: Annual report

The Annual Report (vol. 4)

16 Jan

I say this every January, but last year feels like a total whirlwind. Suddenly here we are, at another new year. January 2016 feels so close and so far at the same time. It seems like just yesterday that I was wandering Nashville’s streets with my mom–my first trip of 2016. And yet, so much has changed that the feeling I had back in Nashville isn’t even a feeling I can access anymore.

I always take time to reflect on my year and try to remember where the time went. It’s easy to remember the big things: my trip to Japan, my new job, the beautiful weddings I attended. But I like to look back on smaller things, too. My diary isn’t very typical. I don’t use it to express myself or track my emotions. Instead, it’s simply a log of all the things I did in a year that seemed notable when they happened. I started the log in 2012 when I was new to San Francisco and created a “San Francisco to-do list,” organized by neighborhood. I started writing down what I did every week, too. Looking back at my log makes me smile, because it reminds me of all the little things that made a year great. Things like brunch with friends, trying that new restaurant, finally making it to some part of town I’d wanted to see, trekking to some far-off bakery. It always makes me happy to see what I did, and who I did it with.

So, as I’ve done for a few years now, I used my personal log to write a sort of “annual report” for 2016. Here we go!

teavel-betterNo wonder it felt like I missed a lot of 2016 in San Francisco: I took 22 trips last year! That’s a lot of time away from home. Trips encompassed everything from Ohio to Portland to Maryland. Work and leisure travel were actually pretty balanced, with a slight tip toward business trips. 2017 will definitely look different, since my new job doesn’t require much travel.

baking-chart

I baked WAY more in 2016 than 2015, but the breakdown didn’t change much. Cookies continued to rule, making up 56% of the 68 recipes I baked in 2016. You can find more details about my year in baking over on my other blog.

Some 2016 Fun Facts: 

  • Meals at my favorite local Moroccan restaurant: 8
  • Bamboo forests explored: 1
  • Trips to wine country: 4 (including 2 birthday bus day trips) 
  • Museums visited: 7
  • Cat birthday parties attended: 1 
  • Magnitude to which I felt grateful for friends and family: as always, non-quantifiable

I wrote 23 posts for Culture Cookies this year, just 1 shy of last year’s total. I would have loved to post more, so I’m a little bummed by that number. But I also wrote 47 posts for my baking blog last year, so of course I couldn’t do it all. As cheesy as it sounds, I give myself permission to write less frequently for Culture Cookies. This blog digs deeper into analysis and commentary, while Sugarsmith is more about personal stories and recipes. That blog is simpler to write and since I bake so often, I constantly have new material. I used to get more annoyed about the lack of posts here, and I still wish I posted more often… but I also know that things get busy, and I can’t do it all. And that’s ok!

Top New Posts of 2016

  1. Talkin’ Bout My Generation
  2. Off the Road
  3. When Suggestion Engines Get It Wrong
  4. Much Ado About Toast
  5. At a Crossroads

1 Older Post that Technically Cracked the Top 5:

  1. How do YOU Flâner?

My Favorite 2016 Posts Not in the Top 5: 

Thanks to everyone who reads, comments, debates, and shares!

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The Annual Report (vol. 3)

2 Jan

I am someone who loves lists. I have a “to-bake” list that classifies every recipe I want to make, sorted by baked good type. I have a “San Francisco to-do” list that groups activities and restaurants by neighborhood. I have a list of chores that, let’s be honest, never gets as short as I’d like.

But my love for lists extends beyond what I should do. I also keep track of the things I already did. Not the chores- the fun stuff. I have a list of where I traveled each year, a list of what I baked, and a list of the happenings I want to remember. While it’s easy to get sucked into worrying that my to-do list is still far too long, it’s a lot nicer and healthier to reflect on the happy things I already did.

It’s become a yearly tradition for me to write an “annual report” that sums up some of my favorite memories for the year. I was inspired by a guy named Nicholas Felton who collects data on his daily life, then publishes an “annual report” for family and friends. Felton inspired me to take all these lists I was already writing, and share them with you. Felton’s own report also tracks more “mundane” activities, like minutes spent commuting or in meetings. I love the point he’s making- but I don’t track my life quite like he does, and my lists focus on the fun. Let’s take a peek at this year’s “data,” shall we?

travel chart

My travel balance tipped further to the work side this year. I got to see some friends and family during a couple of those trips, which makes being on the road a lot nicer. LA was my most frequent destination and if you combine all the Southern California destinations I visited in 2015, that’s 11 trips down to SoCal.

Baking chart

I have nothing against repeating recipes in theory… but in practice, I can only bake so often and I love trying new things. Most of the repeats are fall-ish recipes I make every year: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars, for example. Others are family traditions, like this Apple Crisp.

Some 2015 Fun Facts: 

  • Bakery visits mentioned in my journal: 22 
  • Times I saw my favorite local band perform: 5 (they’re called Heartwatch and you should have a listen)
  • Baton performances completed in front of thousands of people: 1
  • Friends I saw in NYC who don’t live there either: 2
  • ZZ Top Cover bands I saw in concert: 1
  • Magnitude to which I felt grateful for friends and family: as always, non-quantifiable

Now, some data about this blog. I was bummed to see I’d only written 24 posts this year. However, I started my baking blog back in May and have been splitting my attention between the two. I have so many drafts half-written for Culture Cookies- you can expect a lot of new content in 2016!

Here’s a quick look at the year’s most popular posts on Culture Cookies:

Top 5 New Posts of 2015

  1. Let Me Google That For You
  2. Digging In
  3. Off the Charts
  4. Change is in the Air
  5. Best in Class

And 1 Older Post that Technically Cracked the Top 5:

  1. Potato, Potahto (2014)

Thanks to everyone who reads, comments, debates, and shares. I love hearing from you! And now- on to 2016!

How Do You Measure A Year in the Life?

30 Dec

Earlier this year I read an article about a designer who publishes an “Annual Report” about his life. Nicholas Felton uses a series of charts and data points to clue others into what’s happened to him in a given year. But unlike the Annual Reports you see in business, this isn’t about financial results and board member bios. Instead, Felton’s reports provide a glimpse into his daily life. And unlike traditional family holiday letters that focus on big accomplishments and personal changes, Felton’s reports span all parts of life. Throughout the year, he uses digital tools to capture mini-reports about where he goes, what he eats, who he sees, etc. His tool checks in on him every 90 minutes. Some reports end up being quite “exciting” – for example, a trip for a wedding. Others feel quite mundane – for example, data showing he’s at work more than most other places. But when you put all the details together, even the mundane ones, it creates a really fascinating infographic that measures a year in his life. For example, in 2012 he sent 47 reports from hotels and 185 from cabs. His most-visited store was a Safeway grocery store in Palo Alto. His least-social day was typically Sunday. He attended 12 live performances throughout the year.

Interestingly, Felton’s day job is designing the Facebook timeline. But unlike what we post on Facebook, his annual reports capture more than the “notable” (though let’s be honest, everyone has their own interpretation of what’s “notable” enough to share on Facebook!).  We may think that our years are defined by exciting trips and social celebrations and personal growth. But in reality, our yearly fabric is woven up of so much more than that.  Felton’s reports made me think about how I document my own life. I do keep some personal journals, but I certainly don’t write down how many times I go to the grocery store or see a particular person at work.

In honor of Felton’s idea, here are a few “data points” that help measure my 2013. I didn’t use as precise a tool as he did, of course, but thanks to my journals and online account management tools, it’s pretty simple to do some rough estimates.

Trips 2

baking

fun facts 2

And one last thing: here’s a quick round-up of what happened on this blog in 2013. As always, dear readers, thanks for tuning in to Culture Cookies. Hope to see you all back in 2014!

Top 5 Posts Published in 2013 (Non-Food)

  1. Holiday in Spain 
  2. Send My Regards
  3. Did I Get It?
  4. The Thrill of Traveling Alone
  5. Be Nice to Tourists

Top 5 Posts Published in 2013 (Food)

  1. Piece of Cake
  2. Wave the Flag
  3. Pumpkin Lovin’
  4. The British Are Coming!
  5. Full of Surprises
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