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2012: A Very Dickensian Year

1 January 2013

In lieu of my typical year-end resolution list this year, instead I pored through my photos this year to remember the momentous occasions and take a stroll through what we’ve referred to as our Very Dickensian Year (“it was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”) I find the richness of life to be found in between those moments as much as the moments themselves, but remembering the highlights often helps to sear that life in my consciousness, and I want to reflect on those times all in one place.

In January, we adorned our apartment walls with a little Beatles-inspired wall art. If we were real bloggers, we would have whipped up a fancy little label, wrote detailed how-tos and tips, captured close-up process shots, and pinterested the crap out of it.  Instead, we just did it. Enjoyed it. Took a few photos. Shared it.  Whatevs.

Love Me Do

In February, we launched our website redesign for Fixer Creative Co., our business, from our friend Joel’s living room, snowed in during a blizzard. We were selected to create our city’s logo after a lengthy, interesting process you can read about, and were in the midst of redesigning our sorely out-of-date website.  With an announcement like that comes a decent bit of attention, and we didn’t want people to click on our old website, so we kicked it into high gear, and were fortunate to have friends who understood why we needed to spend hours tweaking and hitting refresh over and over again at their breakfast table.

February 1

We also took our first company retreat to Boulder to talk about goals and dreams for the upcoming year. And I bought two really great rings, one of which I can no longer find.  Sads.

February 2

In March, we hosted a dinner party for a small group of friends who we wanted to intentionally coerce to spend more time with us this year.  The theme was “old-school”, so we served everything on cafeteria plates and everyone came armed with some photos/artifacts from their childhood for some show-and-tell. A fortuitous gathering, as these were many of the people we spent much time with this year, working and playing, to our great happiness.

February 3

I began playing roller derby, helping to start a new league in town, despite not having been on skates in over a decade.

March 2

We also won six gold awards and the overall Best in Show at the Addy Awards, which is an awards show recognizing work in advertising.  I have to say, I was pretty stoked, as every piece we entered won a top award in the category (gold), and then won the overall award.  We were greatly surprised, but excited to begin the year with a bang for Fixer.  It’s not often you get awards for your adult-career work (or at least, we don’t), so it was quite a lovely night.  And then we drank beer out of the huge stanley-cup-esque award we got.  Classy.


We also began looking for houses at the end of month, finding some pretty hilarious things like this pristine, mid-century oven in houses we looked at.

March 3

In April, after only looking for about a week, we found our first home, on Cedar Street in downtown Colorado Springs, closed on the house, packed up our first apartment together, and moved in.  Our cozy bungalow (that’s how it was officially listed) turns 100 in 2013, and we are only the third owner. The story of how it came to be sold is quite charming, but a story for another day.

April 2

In May, with the lion’s share of work done by my green-thumb, big-hearted parents, we set up the first of what I hope is many vegetable and flower gardens (what my parents call Veggie Camp) in our yard — just a stone’s throw away from the pear tree we inherited from the previous owner.  We unpacked our things and made an epically long list of things we wanted/needed to do in it, which we ceremoniously ignored after a few weeks because it was stressing us out. We agreed to revisit the list later in the year and just call it good.

April 3

In June, we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary with truly delicious food from Motif, our favorite place for good food in town, and a quick overnight trip to Denver to meander around the Tattered Cover and take in Moonlight Kingdom at the Mayan.  The theater was delightful, with the exception of having outdated air conditioning amidst a particularly sweltering heatwave, producing apologies from the manager and a mass exodus of any pregnant woman in the theater about 30 minutes in.  We also took in the Yves Saint Laurent show at the Denver Art Museum, and I laughed every time Troy tried to pronounce it.


I bought blue suede shoes on sale from the Gap and promptly compared myself to Elvis every time I wore them.


We took another trip to Craig (as we had taken a few already this year), but this time brought my brother Tucker, sister-in-law Julie and the 3.75 kids (Julie was about 7 months pregnant) with us. They camped in a campsite by the highway (ooof, there aren’t a whole lot of great camping spots in Craig), we ate doughnuts at Milk Run in Steamboat, and took the family out on the boat at the lake.


In a scenario of mistaken identity (i.e. my teammate mistook me for someone not on her team), I injured my shoulder at roller derby practice. I kept skating (and falling) on it for the next few months, which was probably not the best idea I’ve ever had. There are no photos of this particular event, thank GOD.

At the end of June, our city caught on fire and we decided to screen print a few shirts with our friends to help.  That little lemonade stand was called Wild Fire Tees, and it became an eensy weensy bit bigger than we planned. To date, it’s grossed about $650K, and we’ve given away about $250K for fire relief.  It’s one of the craziest and most awesome things I’ve ever done, and we did it with our friends, which is just about the best thing ever.

June 3

June 2

In July, we celebrated 4th of July at the Sky Sox game as we do every year with my family.  Tucker got his photo with the mascot, Sox the Fox, in his Wild Fire Tees shirt.


We gave away the first $127K raised in about 2 weeks from Wild Fire Tees, and got interviewed by our local NPR station (certainly a highlight for me).  Apparently I also continued to smile for photos with my mouth closed, like a doof, looking perpetually like I’m only having a marginal time.

Summer 2

July 2

I participated in a coke slurpee of the season on Slurpee Day, 7/11.  Many, many slurpees followed this summer, because I HAVE A PROBLEM.   Coke slurpees are my gateway drug.

July 3

We enjoyed some delicious firsts: the first harvest from our garden, our first grown-up furniture purchase (Fillmore couch), a fun new client who brought us flowers to our first meeting, and our first visit to Lastleaf Printing to see some Wild Fire Tee prints made and hanging with Mo, the owner and a great new friend.

July 4

July 6

Summer 3


In August, we welcomed Ella Claiborne to the world. Her middle name is my mother’s maiden name, and she’s the squishiest, loveliest, big-eyed wonder-baby ever.  Easy labor, easy baby, and the last Wannamaker grandchild until we start having ours.  I celebrated by taking Ella to her first beer festival in town.


Ella beer

My nephew Thomas asked his dad if he could come over to my house, and I melted like a popsicle in the stifling August heat we experienced. He gave me a heart attack by riding his bike dangerously close to traffic, but we survived and had a great time. I loved spending more time with my nieces and nephews in general this year – picking up Addie from school, giggling with Benjamin, long talks about college with Hayley, school plays with Heather.  Good stuff.


We took Morgan to up to college and spent some time with her and Troy’s mom and stepdad in Grand Junction.  We ate at the Red Lobster.

Red Lobster

On the 21st, I had shoulder surgery, my first surgery ever, to repair a tear, scar tissue and inflamed tissue around my right shoulder.  I exhausted my yearly deductible in the span of about 30 minutes, but thank God, truly, that we finally got me private health insurance this year about 5 days before my injury.  Troy took great care of me, our friends brought us meals and entertained me, and I learned how difficult it is to actually put deodorant on one-handed.


September was a very full month for us.   In September, we enjoyed the very last of our first pear harvest, which we foisted upon our friends as much as humanely possible.  We are pear dealers, make no mistake. Next year I’ll need to get a burner phone to make quick work of it.

Pear harvest

We celebrated my mom’s birthday by taking her to a painting class, one of those deals where you drink wine while an instructor shows you how to paint.  Troy basically schooled all of us without even trying, but we had fun nonetheless.

September 2

September 3

We went to our annual Broncos game with Troy’s dad and stepmom, the season opener this year! We’re not avid football fans, but Troy knows quite a bit about the game and I love watching sports in person (I’m a sucker for fanfare.) This year we dressed the part, thanks to Troy’s dad gifting us some Broncos garb for Christmas last year.


Wild Fire Tees was invited to the Tour de Fat, a large beer/bike festival sponsored by New Belgium.  It’s a pretty crazy event, involving costumes, copious amounts of beer in the hot sun (always a great combo), and a lot of fun.  We encountered an artist who would ‘draw’ any six-word phrase you gave him in all of 5 minutes, and then you could pay him what you wanted for your drawing.  Our six word phrase was: “Married for two years; still awesome.”


Troy’s mom and stepdad came to visit us for a weekend, which turned out to be the last time we were able to talk to his mom where she could communicate with us in conversation. Their camera got stolen out of their car (lame), but we had a better and less crime-ridden time on the Royal Gorge train in Canon City with my parents. We opted to upgrade our tickets to ride their refurbished mid-century Vista Dome car as we took a slow train ride through the gorge. Such a great time, and I highly recommend it.

September 4

We installed an interactive design downtown to cover over a vacant storefront and it turned out great. It was a project that had been in the works in some way since May, so we were happy to see it go up. We started working on the Christmas campaign for Downtown as well.


At the end of September, we headed up to Denver to receive an award from the Art Director’s Club of Denver, where we won for our client gift design in 2011. We were asked to design the t-shirts they give as part of the new member package, and it was great to see some pretty impressive work in our state, as well as be a little intimidated by all the impressive work we saw. I wore a new dress I got with birds on it, and apparently feel that the dress is good enough to mention it to you specifically.  You’re welcome.


In October, we contributed a few boards for our second time at Bordo Bello, a fundraiser for a youth arts program in Denver. They provide the board, you provide the art, and everyone participates in a bidding war to get a board.  We lucked out last year and got the board we wanted, but this year we didn’t come home with anything. However, we found that it’s way more fun with friends, so luckily Chris, Jenny, their son Keagan, Austin, Allyson and their daughter Gwyn came up, contributed boards, and we all had a good time.  There was a last-minute bidding war on Troy’s board, which was fun to watch.

bordo bello 2

October was the month we completed a Whole30, a month where we reset our metabolism and focus on consuming foods that are real, in addition to starting working out at Ed’s Gym in town.  What does that mean on the food-front? No sugar, grains, dairy, refined anything, gluten, crappy oils, processed foods.  I made my own mayonnaise for the first time (successfully, at least, as I’ve tried it several times before with curdly results) and realized that sugar is in EVERYTHING.  It went amazing, and we’ve pretty much kept eating that way (with some slight diversions during the holidays) since.  We’re doing our second Whole30 this month.


I ran (and by run, I mean walk) the Waldo Waldo 5K that benefitted fire relief in our city with Tucker, Julie and the kids. We had a Wild Fire Tees booth there, and it was a searing sight when 1,000 people dressed as Waldo (or Wallenda, the female Waldo, as I learned) came over the bridge into America the Beautiful park.

Waldo Waldo

In November, we went on a week-long Texas vacation tour.  We stopped in Houston for several days to hang with my Uncle Jeff and Aunt Helen, where we spoiled by great company, good food and wonderful hosts. We continued on to Austin, where we ate at every food truck in existence, stayed at the BEST hotel I’ve ever been to (the truly amazing Heywood), where we shared beers with the owner and got a hand-drawn map to the best places in town. We rode bikes to Barton Springs, an outdoor natural spring pool, where we dangled our feet in the water and kept cool in the 80 degree weather (in November!)  From Austin we stopped in the quirkiest town in the middle of nowhere, Marfa, Texas, and stayed a night at the El Cosmico in a safari tent after eating grilled cheese from the Food Shark guys at the Museum of Electronic Wonder and Grilled Cheese Emporium. From there, we headed home, with a slight detour to walk through the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which did not disappoint.  In our five years of being together, this was hands down the best vacation we’ve ever taken.  There are countless stories, details and anecdotes to share, but this is a highlight reel, and I’d like to retain you all as friends.  There’s many more photos on my Instagram (I’m @saradarling).

Texas 3

Texas 2



Barton Springs

After months of deliberation, we bought a rug.  It is now referred to as our valued rug, and it really does pull the room together (see: the Big Lebowski for that pop culture reference).


We spent Thanksgiving in Craig, and I cooked my very first Thanksgiving meal nearly all by myself (with some help from Troy and Morgan on pies.) It was a cherished time with family, as it was the last time we spent with Troy’s mom and although she wasn’t able to talk much, she communicated to us with facial expressions and one-word answers, which often made us smile and laugh. We got to share in Morgan’s recent engagement as well, and talk about wedding plans.


Oh, with the nudging of my very effervescent friend Katie, I finally made something from Pinterest! We made this lovely straw wreath for Christmas, and I dusted off my hot glue gun skills after many years of unuse.


In December, we buried Troy’s mother after contending with brain cancer for 15 months. There’s so much to say about this time, but not here or now.  It was a beautiful service, and Troy wrote and delivered a touching eulogy. It was so nice to see so many family and friends gathered to honor her life.

Mom and Troy

Her passing, although we were certainly at peace with her joining her savior in heaven, certainly put a grey pallor on the rest of the month, for sure, but there were a few joyful moments:

– seeing all the holiday marketing we created go up downtown

Skate Park

– celebrating with the Wild Fire Tees crew for all the fun we had this year giving away money

– revisiting our home improvement list and getting some paint up in the living room

Christmas paint

– putting together our client gift this year, which was an old-school Viewmaster and a really fun project we got to do.

Merry Fixmas

– spending Christmas at home with my family

Kids Lights

– taking my nieces and nephews to see the “singing lights” (all the Christmas lights set to music at various houses around town)

Oh, and we also bought 1/4 of a grass-fed cow from a sustainable farm in town.  We now have a freezer full of beef, so should you come over anytime in the next year, odds are good that’s what you’re going to be eating.

After a fairly exhausting month, we opted to spend the time between Christmas and New Years home instead of heading up to Craig, which has meant about a week and a half off to just spend time at home, with family, watching some great movies and recharging, which is good because January 2013 looks hella busy.


I can’t say that we’re in the place yet where we are challenging 2013 to ‘bring it on’, as some are want to do at this time of year, as I think we’re just trying to regroup a little in anticipation of a very busy first quarter (at least work-wise).  Despite my shoulder surgery, a few times Troy’s back went out and a few nasty bugs in the last few weeks for me, we’ve had a year of good health, which we hope continues in the coming year. We’ve had great blessings on the work front, and we continue to pray for favor and that we would be good stewards of any talent we’ve been given.

I do know that this year we’re hoping for a little less of an adventurous year than last year, but one of steady growth and peace.  2013, we’re here, so cheers.  Courage.

Marfa 2

2 Comments leave one →
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  2. 2 December 2015 4:10 pm

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