Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

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Well, we made it. The clock has turned, the calendar’s been flipped, and it’s officially 2017. You know, I’ve been reflecting on 2016 and it wasn’t the worst year in regards to my personal life. I think 2016 was an absolutely terrible year for humanity in general, but personally, 2015 was much worse for me. So let’s just say that it’s been a rocky two years and I’m ready for better times to come around again.

Best of 2016

In the spirit of focusing on the good, here are some of my 2016 highlights:

Weddings: 2016 was the year of weddings for me (they were right when they said that the number of weddings really starts to pick up in your late twenties). I was able to see my cousin get married, as well as a close college friend, and best of all, I was a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding. Such good times and I have so much love for my friends and family that got married.

Family Vacation: I love traveling and exploring new cities and this year we decided to go to Seattle and Vancouver for our family vacation. It was my first time in Canada and my first visit to Seattle. I really enjoyed both cities and the time we spent there was a good mix of exploring and relaxing. I suppose it’s not too early to start planning our 2017 vacation!

Christmas: I spent Christmas in London with my immediate family and London fam and it was so much fun. I hadn’t seen some of my cousins in ages and I loved being able to spend time with them. And I’m so happy I got to see all of my immediate family. Before we’d figured out all of our plans, I wasn’t sure that I’d get to see everyone and it made me really, really sad. But it all worked out in the end and even for those I only saw briefly (my mom only had a layover in London), a little time spent together was certainly better than nothing. As you know, I absolutely love Christmas, but I’ll admit that Christmas 2015 was really, really rough (it was our first Christmas without him). This year was better though and reminded me that I’m so grateful for the family that I have.

Looking forward in 2017

I like to set goals at the beginning of the year and I usually post them on the blog (I missed last year, but here’s 2015 and 2014). I’ve tried to keep my resolutions short and sweet this year:

Creativity: Last year, my energy really faded when it came to my blog and booktube channel, but I’d like to get back into my creative mode. I still enjoy blogging so much (obviously, or I would have shut this down a long time ago) and whenever I’m not working on a creative project, I really miss it. So in 2017 I’d like to get back to pursuing my creative passions because they continue to be important to me.

Movement: I tend to settle into a routine and get stuck in it. This year, I want to break out those ruts and push myself out of my comfort zone a bit.

Travel: All of my 2016 highlights involved traveling and in 2017, I’d really like to take advantage of any opportunity I have to get out and explore the world. In particular, I’d love to go on a solo trip. This was one of my goals last year, but I didn’t get the chance to make it happen. This year, I’d love to save up some money and go somewhere. It doesn’t even have to be far away- I’d just love to plan and experience a solo trip.

What was one of your 2016 highlights? Do you have any goals for 2017?

(image via Death to Stock Photo)

9 Things I Love About the Holidays

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All of my friends know that I’m an absolute nut when it comes to the holidays. I can’t help it- I just love Christmas so much. As we’re getting into the holiday spirit, I thought it would be fun to share a few things that I love about this season.

1. Decorations: Being in the city during the holiday season is the best because it’s so festive everywhere. The city gets all dressed up for the holidays and I freakin’ love it. Some moments, when I’m strolling through the streets and see all of the lights and decorations, it really feels like there’s holiday magic in the air.

2. Holiday music: Give me all of the Christmas albums. Of course I love the classic songs, but I love a good pop Christmas album as well. My absolute favorite song though is The Christmas Song (the Nat King Cole version), which I’m listening to right now as I type up this post.

3. Holiday cards: I’ve been sending holiday cards for several years now and it’s one of my favorite traditions. I remember that the first year I sent holiday cards on my own (my first Christmas after college), I felt so adult. I’m a big fan of snail mail in general and I think it’s lovely to send a note to my friends to let them know that I’m thinking of them and wishing them a happy holiday season.

4. Christmas trees: Christmas trees line the streets all over the city and it definitely adds to the festive feeling (see item #1). Plus they smell so amazing…

5. Traditions: I’m someone who likes to have a routine and stick to it, so our family traditions make me feel very comforted. When we were younger, we’d spend a day decorating the house together as a family. My dad and brothers would tackle the lights outside, while my mom, sister, and I would pull the decorations out of storage and deck the inside of the house. My favorite family tradition is this one though: each year, my mom, sister, and I (and sometimes my brothers help too) have a baking extravaganza and make an assortment of cookies. We then package some of them up to give to our neighbors and friends. We also keep a reserve of cookies at home so that we have homemade cookies to offer when people come over to visit.

6. Baked goods: This ties in nicely with my previous point. I just feel like there’s an abundance of free baked goods during the holiday season. As someone who has a major sweet tooth, I’m not mad about it at all. Each year when I’m home in CA, people bring over cookies, fudge, and other sweet treats, and I sample it all. There’s this one pound cake that our family friend makes for us each year and my mom actually has to hide it and ration it out to the kids because we would devour it all in one sitting if given the chance (it’s that good).

7. Holiday parties: Let’s be honest: I’m a total homebody. But, even I enjoy getting gussied up from time to time and going out to socialize! There are the work parties and the parties hosted by friends, and even when my introvert self wants to stay at home, I typically have a lot more fun than I think I will.

8. Quality family time: I love my family and I’m always telling them that I wish California was not quite so far away from New York. I usually only make it home 1-2 times a year, so I always appreciate the time I’m able to spend with family. This year I get an extra special treat: I’m going to see my immediate family, as well as some of my cousins, because we’re traveling to London for Christmas (more on that soon)!

9. Rest and relaxation: I love doing nothing. I know some people get anxious or restless when they’re stuck at home, but give me hours and hours of free time to read, blog, watch TV, etc., and I’m a happy camper. When I go home, there’s not that much to do in my hometown, so most of my time is spent hanging out with family and friends. When I was in school, I remember that it felt amazing to have a mental break, and now it’s the same way with work. It’s so nice (and necessary) to not think about work for a little while, and to just rest and relax.

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

images via 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 – my image // 9 – pajama set, slippers (similar)

Disclosure: This post was created in collaboration with Shutterfly, but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. I’ve used Shutterfly’s services multiple times in the past and I’ve always been happy with the products created!

My Best Friend’s Wedding

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I’ve been looking forward to this wedding for years. When my best friend got engaged in 2013, I was so excited for her and her fiancee. We’d been talking about the wedding for so long, it was almost hard to believe that the time was finally here. The last stop on my whirlwind vacation last month was San Diego, where I attended the best wedding I’ve ever been to.

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As the day approached, I could barely contain my excitement. I took the train from LA to San Diego (which featured a lovely stretch along the coast) a few days early so that I could spend time with her and help with any last-minute preparations. As she showed me all that she’d planned for the wedding, I could see how much love and care she’d put into every detail.

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Erica and Carlos were married in a gorgeous church in downtown San Diego, with soaring ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows. When they talked about why they loved each other and said their vows in Spanish, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.

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After the ceremony, we had a bit of a break before the cocktail hour, so the bridesmaids and groomsmen headed to the venue to help set up a little bit. I loved the venue, which had a beautiful outdoor area with a koi pond, as well as indoor seating. Soon after, the guests started to arrive, and from then on it was one big party!

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My family has been friends with Erica’s family for years now, so my parents and sister were also invited to the wedding, and it was so fun to have them there. I was also able to spend time with some of her wonderful family and friends (who I met when Erica and I traveled to Spain together in 2009) who flew all the way to California for the wedding. To top it off, several of my oldest and best friends from high school were there, so it was wonderful to see them and have a mini reunion. Basically, the room was full of so many of my favorite people in the whole world. I felt really lucky to be there to celebrate the union of this beautiful couple.

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There was much dancing (Erica and Carlos actually met in a dance class- is that way too cute, or what?!), singing, and general merriment. After so much preparation and anticipation, the time disappeared in the blink of an eye. I had the best time and I wish I had a time turner so we could go back and do it all over again!

Fifth-Year Reunion Photo Diary

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A couple of weekends ago, I went to my fifth-year reunion and had a surprising amount of fun. It wasn’t that I thought I wouldn’t have a good time, it’s just that with the move and everything else going on, it kind of snuck up on me. In fact, I thought maybe I would skip it, but instead, I ended up registering about a week before the event.

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I started to get really excited on the train ride down to New Haven. I made the train trip with one of my really good friends who used to live in NYC, but now lives in San Francisco. It was so good to see her and catch up, and that’s really what the whole weekend was like. With the exception of a couple people, all of my good college friends went to reunion and it was so wonderful to have everyone in the same place again.

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We laughed, we reminisced, we danced, and we chatted. I’d been seriously lacking in friend time thanks to the move, so it was just pleasant to have a weekend away to relax and stop thinking about the apartment for a bit. Also, every time I step back onto campus, I’m reminded of how beautiful it is.

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I’m really glad I went to my college reunion. I’ve heard rumors that some people have started to plan my ten-year high school reunion next year, so that should be interesting!