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Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 in Around Chez Ary | 2 comments

Happy Holidays from Chez Ary!


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Family, Friends, Loved Ones, and Strangers,

2015 has been a pretty good year. We turned the corner on several aspects of our lives as a  family, and it feels good. I’m so thankful for our health, family and friends, great jobs, doggies, home, and life in general. I’m excited about what 2016 will hold, but I’m entering this year a little more chill, taking it easy and honoring what I have and who I am…

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I turned 30 this year…can you tell? Mr. J threw me a fantastic party to celebrate. It was great to be surrounded by friends on this special day! All aspects of the night were perfectly me, and everyone (especially Mr. J) was so thoughtful. This year, I made flowers (mostly peonies from crepe paper) and arranged flowers, spiralized all the things, created veggie sushi at home, and made lots of craft cocktails (a new hobby for Mr. J, including his favorite – bitters). We brunched at Actual Brunch, Homestead Manor, Flipside, and Marche. I fell in love with kale and making juice in the Vitamix. I started doing running intervals in the spring and tracking my sleep and steps (another age thing?). I also did aerial yoga…it was…yeah.

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I have the best group of friends a girl could ask for. Whether it’s weekly, monthly, once in a blue moon, standing dates or fitting it in where we can, I love these ladies. We share our lives and push each other to grow, and it really fills up my cup. I joined a new group of friends in January at a grown-up tea party and continued to love Vegan Supper Clubs. I really enjoy coming up with a vegan, gluten-free dish for these events. It’s always amazingly delicious, and you always feel great when you leave no matter how high you heap your plate. Sneak peek here and here.

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I changed jobs in July, and time has been in warp speed ever since. I’m now a Sr. Business Process Manager for Optum (under the Unitedhealth Group umbrella). I work with clients in program and project management and do internal communications and employee engagement stuff. I miss all of my friends at Journal and all of the special projects I did there (food photography shoots and events, especially). I’m proud of my 4 years there and all that I learned, and I’m excited about the new opportunities and challenges ahead.

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We traveled about quite a bit in 2015. In April, we rented a cabin in the north Georgia mountains and got away in nature for a long weekend. J did some fishing, and we took in Amicalola Falls, which I grew up visiting with family. We hit up the Chattanooga Aquarium on the way back north.


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For our 7th anniversary, we trekked down to New Orleans…such a fun (and warm) city. We stayed at Hotel Mazarin, listened to lots of lovely music, saw the sites on the trolley, took in the Mardi Gras museum, walked through a cemetery, took a driving tour of the city, and enjoyed a celebratory dinner. We left relaxed and pampered.

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In July, J had a work trip in Portland, Maine, and I tagged along. I did two Maine Foodie Tours and ate TONS of lobster. We did a bus and boat tour, saw lots of lighthouses, had a dinner party on an island, shopped at LL Bean’s headquarters, and did a scavenger hunt with J’s coworkers – I haven’t been able to track that many steps since that day!


Rounding out our entertainment segment, we went to the circus again in January with Nana and Poppy. In Murfreesboro, we hit up the farmers market and Adventure Science Center this June. We saw lots of animals at the Tennessee Safari Park on the 4th of July. In September, we rode on Thomas the Tank Engine and went to the Nashville zoo, and we saw Pentatonix again at Bridgestone Arena. Touch a Truck came to town in October, and Everett loved it! We saw Neil De Grasse Tyson at TPAC in November, and the movie Elf at the Franklin Theatre in December. It was a busy year!


Mr J. kept up most of his usual hobbies this year including disc golf and woodworking. He took the latter to the extreme this year with a nice garage build out, and he has a great setup out there now that allows for more efficient projects. He even built us a beautiful farm table for the dining room. In the spring, he and the boy got into building, painting, and shooting off model rockets. His new standout hobby of the year is bartending, which I hinted at above. We’ve imbibed in his tasty creations all year, but he really outdid himself by creating a stellar drink menu for my birthday. Two of his hobbies collided when we refinished a bar cabinet, which houses everything we need for drink making in one place. He still enjoys working remotely for a company out of Maine.


Everett turned 3 in September, and he is growing so tall and smart. He started at a new school in May, and he is really thriving there. He moved up to early preschool III in August. He loves Play Doh; building with Magnatiles, legos, and anything that will stack into a tower; firetrucks, trains, trucks, planes, etc. are also a standing favorite. He talks our ears off in a way that is well beyond his years. In 2015, he kicked the crib (moving up to his toddler bed), paci, and diapers and left baby-hood behind! This sweet boy is the center of our universe!


As for extended family, everyone seems to be doing well. It was nice to visit them (or have upcoming plans to visit them) around the holidays. My brother is in Japan for about 6 month, and then, he’ll be back in Hawaii to round out his final year in the Marines. We had two visits with him this year – around the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. Mr. J helped his parents with a building project – raising a garage/shop, nearly by themselves (crazy and cool).

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Tail in action

We added a 7 month old blonde lab named Skyler to the family in September. She’s definitely still a puppy, but she adds lots of energy to the household. She LOVES to chew (mostly on approved rawhides), and there is lots more dog hair to Swiffer up these days. We call her Skyler Weenie (it’s a family name, after all), and after a brief adjustment period, Tucker and Everett consider her a friend. Tucker is an old man these days, but he’s doing great. He’s very spritely and has a distinguished gray scruff forming at the end of his nose.

Things We Love

Google Fi (cell service)
Lenny Letter | Brain Pickings | NPR
Things that are legal that should have been all along
Target and Amazon
Hit Record
Instagram | Facebook | Feedly

I have a new favorite restaurant – Nick’s Italian Deli in Franklin. I make a pilgrimage every weekend that I possibly can. I love their eggplant parmesan and the pizza is to die for. Cannoli and salad and alfredo tortellini and and and everything is superb!

The blog got a facelift thanks to Mr. J and my friend KP, whose beautiful handlettering design graces the top of the page ^). I actually posted more than I realized – this post will make the 10th or so. There’s some good stuff in drafts, but you’ll notice a distinct lacking in the second part of the year when I was adjusting to a new position. I have a few ideas for ye old blog in 2016. We’ll see how it goes, and if I’m sitting here saying the same thing next year, so be it 😉

On behalf of all of us at Chez Ary, I hope that everyone in your household is happy and well. Best of wishes for a wonderful holiday season!


Betty Becca, Mr. J, & E

The tradition lives on: Holiday update from 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.  



  1. Thanks for sharing! I love the yearly recaps. We’ve really enjoyed our first full year living nearby & watching Everett grow. May 2016 bring many more sweet memories…

  2. Your year looked incredible! I love that you are trying to go into this year more chill. I need to do that too. Hope we can stay in better touch this year! <3

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