Well, here we are friends. Twelve months of the year have flow by and it’s time to flip the calendar to a new year.  I’ve got my new planner, added in the important dates, made a short list of goals for myself and A Southern Soul. I’ve had a wonderful 2 weeks celebrating Christmas and spending time with my family and friends. We’ve entertained a little more than usual and as I told friend after last weeks party…”if I could bottle up and drink all the warm feelings, laughter and joy I’ve felt in my home recently, I’d live forever.” She agreed.

With all those beautiful feeling swirling around, I also started thinking about the past year and decided to share a few special moments. 12493627_10205620680338772_603021311740319736_oMy year started off at dinner with some of my blogger friends. I am so, so fortunate to live in the same town as these talented ladies ~ Jen at Balancing Beauty & Bedlum, Melissa from My Cake School and Melissa at Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen.blue-steel-house-wmThen…there was this! What an honor to host my other “family” for dinner. All 28 members of the Grimsley High School’s Blue Steel Drum Line came for a pre-game dinner during football season. These young men and women are special and are true examples of what’s right and good in the world.Hunter at A&TOf course, I do have a favorite drummer. I am so thankful that my son has found something that he loves and has passion for. His dedicated, hard work has paid off and I am proud that he’ll represent his school as one of the drum line captains next year. I have a feeling that music will be a party of Hunter’s life forever.me-and-creed-ft-jI can say without a double that this day, oh my, THIS DAY was the most incredible of my year. My son, Creed, graduated from Basic Combat Training, US Army National Guard at Fort Jackson, SC. I’d not seen him for 4 months. When I finally saw him at the family day event, it was emotional for me and our family. That young person that left out the back door all those weeks prior was now so different.creed-on-graduation-dayCreed also graduated from AIT, with Honors, and is home for a while which means I’ve been spoiling him, he deserves it. I am honored to be Creed’s mother for many reasons. It’s quite hard to put into words, so I guess I can just say this – I thank God everyday that Creed is my son. I love him, he has my heart.recipes from 2016Last but not least, there are the recipes that helped make my year great. It’s incredible that I get to share the things I love with you by just writing a few words and snapping photos. A Southern Soul has turned into a whole new experience for me and one that has become an unexpected blessing. I have made many new friends, honed my cooking skills, experienced new foods and flavors along with learning about myself. I also have the privilege of working with an amazing family, who have embraced me, my cooking, southern roots. VT, I love you all, here and abroad!Dixie & Pepper at ChristmasThrough each and every experience, my two best friends have been by my side. Dixie (the beautiful blonde) and Pepper know every secret I have, frustration I’ve delt with and tear I’ve shed. Plus they’ve made me happy beyond belief this past year. My girls, I love them…these 2 are the best.

I wish each and everyone one of you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. I hope you accomplish all that you set out to do – dream big and don’t let your fears get the best of you. My prayer is that you get to spend time with the ones you love making special memories. God has blessed me with a wonderful, loving husband, two incredible sons plus faithful, fun friends who keep me sane and a life I could have never imagined. So, here’s to the future, friends…happy, happy 2017!

Counting my blessings,donya-in-pink