Happy almost-2013, MNN readers!

Due in part to a string of unfathomable national tragedies involving gun violence, bloody political unrest across the globe, the premature death of perhaps the greatest voice of our generation, and a nasty little storm named Sandy that left yours truly homeless for a spell, 2012 is a year that I’m going to go ahead and file under the “good riddance” and/or “crap” category. That said, it was anything but a crappy year ‘round these parts. It's been an active, encouraging, and often eye-opening 12 months in the world of eco-friendly architecture, design, gardening, renovation, and real estate. And like in years past, there were a few reoccurring trends and themes.

I dubbed 2011 as “year of the light bulb” and 2012 wasn’t much different – there was a deluge of lighting-related stories in the latter half of the year, particularly ones about WiFi-enabled LEDs. Landscaping disputes, another popular topic in the past, also (unfortunately) dominated this here blog with several stories concerning front yard gardeners battling local authorities over the right to grow edible plants in areas traditionally reserved for manicured, water-guzzling turf. This was also the year that the micro-apartment movement really took off in a big/small way in several cities across the country including New York and San Francisco. In other housing news, there was certainly no dearth of posts in 2012 about innovative modular homes with two industry heavyweights, Blu Homes and LivingHomes, keeping things truly interesting. And last but not least, this was the year that Swedish mega-retailer IKEA officially began its quest for world domination.

But enough with the summarizing — below, I’ve rounded up 2012’s most popular and provocative posts along with a few overlooked gems in the event that you’re interested in taking a misty-eyed trip down memory lane.

Finally, I wanted to express a hearty dose of gratitude not only to you, my readers, but all of the eco-minded architects, designers, builders, gardeners, homeowners, planners, business owners, innovators, influencers, game-changers, and Kickstarter entrepreneurs for giving me something to blog about this past year. I couldn’t do it without you. And as always, feel free to drop a line or tweet me with any comments, questions, concerns, and love letters. What stories/trends from 2012 stood out to you? Any personal favorite posts? What would you like to see covered more of in the new year? And please, don't be shy. I'm all ears.

• January

Tiny aparment garner big attention in Vancouver Messy yard equals jail time for strapped homeowner • The Loop Isla Vista brings green to UCSB student ghetto  • Potty talk: Would you use recycled brown toilet paper?

• February 

Evergreen homes: Columbia Station • Doing Wright Right: Taliesin West to undergo net-zero renovation • Volet Végétal: Ingenious suspended window plots from France • LivingHomes goes low-impact, low-cost with C6

• March

Nature-City: Suburban housing for agrarians at heart • Busted! Dad uses home energy monitoring to catch party-throwing teen daughter • Active aggressive: Holistic green home building movement coming to America • Frank Lloyd Wright doghouse rebuilt and on tour

• April 
Watch: 'We the Tiny House People' • For the high-end homesteader, Williams-Sonoma launches Agrarian line • Would you spend $60 on a light bulb that lasts 20 years? • IKEA-helmed housing development under way in London

• May 

By land or by sea: New prefab firm offers game-changing delivery system • Behold, your Finnish micro-cabin fantasies come true • No, you're not hallucinating: Designer unveils wooden light bulb • Home solar: Not just for home picklers and baby dolphin lovers

• June

Is your bookshelf made from a 600-year-old Russian tree? • My yard is your yard: Neighbors dismantle fences in favor of shared space • Building good: Bryan Cranston unveils passive house project in Ventura • Torn up Tulsa garden results in civil rights lawsuit

• July

Net-zero goes pastoral at Serenbe model home • Watch: Retired couple live merrily off the grid in tiny float cabin • Pastel power: Frank Gehry-designed duplex unveiled in NOLA • Texas woman makes dumb choice to stop smart meter installation

• August 

Feud over edible plot gives new meaning to 'victory garden' • In Florida, a real estate market where extra closet space isn't a concern • Oregon man in possession of 13 million gallons of illicit rainwater sentenced to jail • IKEA swaps hex keys for key cards with European hotel scheme

• September

Lab, sweet lab: NIST Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility opens • Thou shalt not block thy neighbor's view: A tree dispute of biblical proportions • In San Francisco, low-impact, low-income housing that makes a huge difference • The miracle of light: LIFX smart bulb takes Kickstarter by storm

• October

2012 Solar Decathlon Europe: And the winner is ... •  How low can you go? Japanese movement clamps down on amps • Sweden runs out of garbage, forced to import from Norway • Photos: A tour of TerraCycle's tastefully trash-strewn headquarters

Global Green hands out awards, announces three-part Sandy rebuilding scheme • Costa Rican recycling center seeks bottles, cans, crowdfunding • Christmas comes early for Phoenix preservations as historic Wright home is saved • From Sandy's rubble, a collection of charity-benefiting reclaimed furniture is born

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Playing catch up: Adios 2012!
Take a few moments to join me for a misty-eyed trip down memory lane in remembrance of 2012's hottest posts.