This year I’m trying something a little different. Because a large part of my business these days involves website strategy and development, I figured that I’d simply add my annual Christmas letter to one of my websites. I hope you like it!

Overall, it’s been a pretty uneventful year. We did manage a few short trips here and there, but no epic adventures. I’m still trying to figure out how to win the lottery so we can spend most of the year traveling – so far, no luck…

In February, we took a short trip up to Boston for the New England Grows trade show and conference. Lots of interesting seminars, new green industry products, and some good networking. John’s daughter is studying Broadcast Journalism at Emerson so we got to spend some time with her too.  A few weeks later I headed out west to Telluride with my friend Joyce for our annual ski trip.  We’ve been doing an annual ski trip out west since we first met through the Princeton Ski Club back in 1998!

A New England version of an English cottage garden - designed and installed on the former front lawn of an English client's house

Spring saw a lot of work with my Hemingway Horticulture clients – lots of new garden designs and installations. Some of my favorites included a fabulous shade garden built into a newly-exposed rock slope, a seaside native plant garden, and a display garden consisting of 100 antique roses. I’m still loving ‘playing in the dirt’ and my business is growing nicely.

Early in the year I became an Accredited Organic Land Care Professional, specializing in organic and sustainable landscaping practices, native plants, and invasive plant management. A nice addition to the certificate in Environmental Gardening that I earned last year from the New York Botanical Garden.

Then, in June, I earned my Arborist license after an intensive, 3- month course, written exam (one of the hardest I’ve ever taken), tree ID exam (in the field – the examiner points to a tree and you have to identify it exactly), and, finally, an oral exam in front of a panel of examiners. I haven’t been so nervous since the oral defense for my Ph.D.! Only about 15% of candidates make it through the process to earn the license so I was very relieved. Since then, I’ve been doing some tree consultations and pruning jobs.

John on the famous Midland 'Tridge'

We managed a quick trip to Midland, MI in May, where John was indoctrinated into the ‘Spin & Swirls’ – an experience he is not likely to soon forget. It was nice to see everyone again and be reminded that not all places are as crazy as living here in CT in the ‘Gold Coast’ – where people drive 80+mph in a 50mph zone, blast you off the road if you’re inconsiderate enough to be only going 75mph, and then swerve around you as they simultaneously text their housekeeper, yell at the kids in the back seat of the Mercedes, and shout obscenities at you. I think it’s only a matter of time before we pack up and move some place more ‘civilized’!

In early July I wound up with heat exhaustion. I don’t recommend spending an 8-hour day moving rocks, shrubs, and soil in 95-degree weather! Not a smart thing to do and it pretty much knocked me out for the rest of the summer. I spent most of the rest of the year focused on my consulting work with APTMetrics – at least that’s done in an air-conditioned office! I’ve been with APTMetrics for over 2 years now and I continue to work with large corporate clients to improve their hiring and employee development processes.

In August, John started a new job that has seen him regularly working 60+ hours a week, including holidays and weekends. We’ve had to make some lifestyle adjustments and it doesn’t look like we’ll be taking any vacations together for a while 🙁 On the plus side, it’s cut down on our “dining out budget” and, because he comes home so late, has encouraged me to work out at the end of the day – I finally joined a gym and got a personal trainer who is intent on whipping me back into shape. All of this sitting at a desk in front of a computer (otherwise known as “consulting”) hasn’t been good for the waistline. On the other hand, John walks about 8 miles a day in his job so he doesn’t need a personal trainer to stay in shape!

In late September, Jo and I met in Sedona, AZ for our annual “Sisters Only (no kids or significant others!) Holiday in Some Place Cool”. We spent four wonderful days hiking in the red rocks and canyons around Sedona, horseback riding at a ranch high up in among the Ponderosa pines, taking a Pink Jeep tour, eating fabulous food, relaxing by the pool, shopping, and catching up. It’ll be hard to top Sedona – if you have any suggestions for where to go next year, let me know!

And that’ s pretty much it for 2011. I’ll be heading up to Edmonton, AB to spend a few days freezing over Christmas. Well, I suppose it will only be freezing outside Jo’s house – which is why I intend to spend as much time as possible inside, parked in front of the fireplace with a book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other! (although I’m sure Jo and my niece and 3 nephews will probably have something to say about that plan…). Unfortunately, John will be working over the holidays – but at least he’ll be warmer here in Connecticut!

Wishing you a very merry ___insert holiday of your choice___!