Happy hump day! Today I wanted to do something really fun and share my top 10 moments of 2017. If you’ve been reading A Touch of Teal for a while, you may remember I wrote a post like this last year. I love the process of reflecting and culling through memories to pull out the top things I wanted to remember about the year—so I knew I wanted to highlight my 2017 in the same way.
Fittingly enough, I decided to write this post while watching It’s A Wonderful Life. And this year has been truly wonderful—one that was filled with more highs than lows, one that brought less anxiety than in 2016, and one that introduced me to beautiful new people and places along the way. I saw two of the best people in my life get married—my bff since middle school and my favorite cousin, I traveled the US from sea to shining sea (literally), I had a fulfilling year at work, and found an exercise routine that works for me. And for the first time in two years, I didn’t have to carve out time in my week for grad school.
My blog has become my life yearbook, and I’m writing this post not only for you to read today, but for my future self to revisit in the years to come. Like last year, putting this post together was so much fun—and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! x
A DAY SNOW TUBING AT WISP RESORT
In late January, my coworkers and I all packed up and headed to a mountain house in Fort McHenry, Maryland near Wisp Resort for the weekend. We rented a huge, three-story house that slept 26 and pooled together the Honeybaked Ham gift cards our company gives us every year for Christmas to feed ourselves for the weekend—supplemented with dinosaur nuggets and taquitos from Costco and Chick-Fil-A runs, of course.
After a memorable drive up—it was snowing and my Honda Civic isn’t not cut out for icy hills—we spent a great Friday night dancing to our favorite songs, jumping into the snow and then straight into the hot tub, and eventually, all seven of us girls crashed in the same room even though there was more than enough room to spread out.
The next morning, we were a little slow moving, but all rallied—and I’m so glad we did! While the guys in our crew opted for a day of skiing, we took it easy and bought two-hour tubing passes. When we arrived, I didn’t really know what to expect—I’d never been tubing before, but loved sledding as a kid, so I was excited. At the base of the hill, we each grabbed a tube and hopped on the “magic carpet” that elevated us to the top of the little mountain the tubing runs were on. It was higher than I expected, so I was very nervous for our first run! We decided to go down solo for the first run. Once I pushed off, I lost my stomach and then had the ride of my life! We spent the next two hours channeling our inner children and attaching our snow tubes in groups of two and three for extra fun rides. It’s a day I’ll always remember—and I hope we go snow tubing on our now-annual ski trip this winter!
AN AFTERNOON IN PUNTA CANA ON “PRIDE ROCK”
Long story short, my five teammates and I found ourselves with a random Friday in February off that didn’t count against our PTO, so we decided to take a trip together. This trip was fated because it’s so rare we all can take time off at the same time and even rarer we would stumble into a can’t-miss deal at an all-inclusive resort that just so happens to be the weekend we want to go.
In all honesty, this entire trip was memorable. A few years ago in my church small group during a devotional study on the Book of Ruth, one of my friends said that she loved collecting experiences in her mid-twenties she wouldn’t be able to have unless she was single—without a husband or kids—and I’ve tried to embrace that mentality ever since. After going on this trip, I feel like every 20-something gal deserves a beach vacation like this one with her girl friends.
We woke up *really* early on a Friday morning and trekked out to Dulles airport, which is the airport that’s farther away for us closer to DC. The fact that we all made it on the plane was a miracle—one of my colleagues had to tear apart her entire apartment to find her Passport the night before and legitimately thought she was going to have to bail on the trip. Another one of my colleagues slept through her alarm and our multiple calls, only to leave two of my coworkers stranded without a ride to the airport—thank goodness for Uber. Luckily, she eventually woke up and was able to book it and make it for departure.
Once we touched down in the Dominican Republic and were so warmly greeted at our resort, I knew it was going to be an amazing trip. If I had to pick one moment that stands out, it’d be the afternoon we spent on “pride rock”—named, of course, in honor of The Lion King. The Saturday of our trip was our only full day on the island, and we took full advantage. We set up camp on the beach, but took frequent breaks to the pool since it had a swim-up bar. For about two hours, Laura, Emily, and I posted up in the middle of the pool near the three large rocks you see right next to the edge of the tiki hut in the video above. They were situated on a shallow wading area, so the water was warm, and it was the perfect spot for tanning and a heart-to-heart. During this time, I made frequent visits to the aforementioned swim-up bar and asked for “dos cervezas por favor.”
How lucky am I to have visited paradise with some of my best friends, who just so happen to be my teammates at work?
THE RAINY CINCO DE MAYO I SPENT IN NEW YORK CITY
I’ve chronicled this epic day on the blog before in this post, but I’ll give you the down low here, too. Earlier this year, Monica and I decided to head up to New York City for the spring Create + Cultivate conference. Going to a conference that I hadn’t been to before was on my bucket list for the year, and we’d heard great things from our friends who had attended in the past. The conference happened all-day Saturday, but the welcome happy hour was on Friday night. Since we both love the city, we took the Friday off work, which just so happened to be Cinco de Mayo, so we could spend a day exploring without having to rush straight from Penn Station to the happy hour.
We took the train up on Thursday night, and I stayed with my good friend Emma from college. The next morning, I got to commute with her to office in Brookfield place. This meant that we walked right through the Oculus at the World Trade Center, which was a highlight of my day for sure. I also just love seeing my friends’ everyday lives, so navigating the subway and seeing her favorite coffee spots was really fun for me.
When we parted ways just below 1 WTC, the rain hadn’t set in yet—but by the time Monica and I were walking to breakfast at Jack’s Wife Freda, I knew we were in trouble. Instead of the spring day in New York City spent frolicking around it’s many parks we envisioned, we took shelter in an American Eagle and a Duane Reade for nearly an hour after my white converse were completely soaked through, and, truthfully, no longer white.
A mere two hours after we had last eaten, we Ubered to the Mexican restaurant where we had lunch reservations. If you’ve spent a lot of time in NYC, you know that good Tex Mex food there is hard to come by—but we quickly made friends with the bartenders at Avenida Cantina, enjoyed ample margaritas, chips, queso, and guac, and had the best afternoon drying off and catching up.
The wet shoes have long been forgotten, but the memories—which are now hilarious—remain.
A SUNSET HAPPY HOUR IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
Back in June, three of my best friends and I headed down to the best place on earth—aka Charleston, South Carolina—for a weekend getaway. We flew down early on Friday morning, enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Husk, walked through the colorful French Quarter and down the battery, and then checked into the gorgeous Dewberry Hotel and enjoyed La Croix cocktails at their Living Room Bar.
Once we had freshened up, we went to Fleet Landing for dinner since it was right on the water. We enjoyed one of those nights that you wouldn’t be able to recreate if you tried. Since it was a beautiful June night, the wait for a table outside—where we wanted to sit—was over an hour long. We didn’t mind the wait, and posted up at the bar drinking fruity drinks while the sun put on a show for us. When we were seated, we had a beautiful view of the moon, the Cooper River, and Fort Sumpter while we enjoyed more drinks and even better conversation.
THAT TIME MY SISTER AND I WENT ON A PALM BEACH BOOZE CRUISE*
(*If my sister, Jennifer, were to tell this story, she would refer to it as the time I accidentally made her Crystal Light and vodka a little too strong.)
Jennifer and I spent a long weekend in Palm Beach, Florida back in June and had the best time. One of the highlights of our trip was the two-hour sunset booze cruise we took the Saturday night we were there. Since Palm Beach drinks can be pretty pricey, when we got to town, we went to a liquor store and bought a handle of vodka so we could make our own drinks for the beach/pool and this booze cruise. I made us each two drinks for the cruise in water bottles we grabbed from the hotel, and off we went to catch our catamaran.
The entire journey was an absolute dream. We were able to see some of the famed Palm Beach mansions up-close from the water side and the catamaran crew made the experience so wonderful—the playlist was on point and they slowed the boat down so everyone could get the perfect ‘gram in front of the sunset. We were especially lucky since the forecast had shown it was going to be cloudy and rainy the whole weekend, but we ended up with great weather.
We were so sad when the booze cruise ended since we had the most relaxing time and it was a great way to bond as sisters. And because I didn’t have a shaker or shot glasses to properly measure and mix the aforementioned Crystal Light and vodka cocktails we enjoyed on the boat, we left very, very happy ;] and headed straight to dinner.
DINNER AT THE OLDE PINK HOUSE IN SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
My Dad and I were talking recently and we agreed that one of our best meals this year was at The Olde Pink House in Savannah, Georgia. Growing up, my family was really big into road trips. We toured the Mid West, New England, and the Mid Atlantic in our white Dodger Grand Caravan. Along the way, my parents instilled a love of country and history, and we still speak fondly of those summer vacations and long weekends spent on the road.
In recent years, my family has opted for relaxing weeks at the beach, but this year, we decided to throw it back and go on another adventure. We left the minivan at home this time, and instead, opted to fly to Savannah, Georgia, for a four-day adventure. I appointed myself travel agent, and as soon as I picked up on the fact that The Olde Pink House appeared on every travel guide for the city, I knew we needed a reservation, too.
My family is typically pretty low-key. Our favorite restaurant to eat at as a family is a Mexican dive that serves you margaritas in cactus-shaped glasses and looks like a converted Pizza Hut—it’s a wonderful place. But, we also love a fine dining establishment, and looked forward to eating at The Olde Pink House the entire trip as it was our last dinner in town. We all dressed up, and walked the block to the restaurant from our hotel about an hour early so we could scope out the bar. My sister, my mom, and I enjoyed their signature cocktail—The Pink Lady—while my Dad sipped a beer, and we enjoyed the ambiance and history of the house, having learned about it on both our ghost tour and historical walking tour.
When it was our turn for dinner, we were seated in a beautiful dining room that truly felt like we were in someone’s personal home. Our waitress was fabulous, and it was the kind of service where you had everything you needed, but didn’t feel rushed at all. I had a delicious fried shrimp and risotto and splurged calorically on a side of garlic mashed potatoes. Yet, truth be told, I had to go back to my iPhone photos of the trip to remember what I ordered—it was the meal with my family and how content we felt in that moment that stood out when thinking back on the past year.
THE DAY I MOVED INTO MY OWN APARTMENT
Living alone was a goal I’ve had for a long time, and I feel so lucky that it became financially feasible for me to achieve this milestone back in August.
Getting my own place was something I really wanted to do to prove to myself I could be totally independent, both now and in the future should I find myself solo again down the road. Plus, over the past few years, I’d watched many friends ditch their roommates in favor of living alone—they all loved not only the control you have over your space, but how much they learned about themselves in the process. I knew it was something I wanted for myself, too.
Once I had honed in on the building where I wanted to live, I scheduled an appointment one day after work take a tour and put in an application. That’s when the gravity of the situation really hit me—I was on the hook for a 13-month lease and it was all my responsibility. Even though I knew it was the apartment I wanted, I wavered and second-guessed my choice a lot, which is not like my usually decisive nature. In the end, I’m so happy with my decision to put in an application on the apartment I live in now.
I signed the lease for my apartment sight-unseen, which is pretty common in this area. Since I was leasing with a reputable management company, I wasn’t worried—just anxious to see my new place! The day my lease started, a Friday, I went to pick up my keys. The leasing agent brought me to my apartment for the first time and I was instantly overwhelmed with pride that it was all mine. After I signed the necessary paperwork, I spent a few quiet minutes in my new, empty apartment just taking it in. Then I got to the hard work of moving all my sh!t, but despite all the work that goes into moving, it was entirely worth it to achieve this goal.
A MORNING OYSTER TOUR ON THE LYNNHAVEN RIVER
Back in March, I won a three-day trip to Virginia Beach at a blogger event, and I invited Molly to come along with me when I claimed my prize this August. Visit Virginia Beach sent over my itinerary a couple of weeks before the trip, and when Molly and I saw an early morning oyster tour was on the agenda, we weren’t exactly thrilled. We both avoid mornings when possible, and neither of us are particularly big oyster people. We went into the experience with low expectations, and clearly, they were blown out of the water since the oyster tour stands out so much it’s making my top 10 list for the year.
After watching a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic because of our early-morning wake-up call, we met up with Captain Chris Ludford of Pleasure House Oysters for a boat tour of his oyster farm in the Lynnhaven River. We took a boat from the marina out on the Lynnhaven River—past Pharrell’s house—and when we got to the area of the river where his oysters were, we got out of the boat, into the water, and watched as he cleaned and counted the oysters by hand. He taught us all about how he grows the highest-quality oysters sustainably using no fossil fuels.
In the middle of our trip, it began to downpour, so we took cover on the boat. Based on the aforementioned rainy Cinco de Mayo story, you should have gathered by now that I *hate* being wet in clothes. However, being out on the Lynnhaven while rain was pouring all around us was so beautiful to watch, I didn’t mind at all. When we got back to the marina, Chris shucked fresh oysters for us to try—and we both ended up liking them.
This moment stands out because Molly and I really went out of our comfort zones, and were rewarded immensely for doing so. It also was just such a unique experience that reminded me how many hardworking people are behind the food we eat.
SEEING THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE FOR THE FIRST TIME
I spent 26 years of my life without ever having been to San Francisco, and then found myself there twice in October. The first trip I went on to San Francisco was for work, the second one was for a pleasure—and was planned first. One random Wednesday, I got an email from my colleague inviting me to join the team on our trip out west for a presentation at Stanford GSB. I jumped at the opportunity, and flew out the Saturday before the presentation so that I had a few days to explore before we had to get to work.
I took the earliest flight out of DCA I could, and arrived in San Francisco around lunchtime San Francisco time. I checked into my hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf, and on the walk over to In & Out Burger, saw the Golden Gate Bridge in a distance. I wasn’t expecting to be as in awe of it as I was—even though it is man-made, it is truly majestic. As soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to forgo everything on my planned itinerary and get over to see the Golden Gate up close as soon as possible. So once I finished my delicious meal at In & Out—milkshake and all—I called an Uber and had it drop me off at the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor’s Center.
I spent the rest of the afternoon walking across the bridge and then through the trails in the Presidio around it to take in the stunning views. I considered myself so lucky that there was no fog!
DINNER AT MASTERCARD’S PRICELESS TABLE
When the email invitation for Mastercard’s Priceless Table event in DC in honor of the Capital One Savor credit card came through my inbox, I knew it was going to be an amazing event, and yet, it still managed to surpass all my expectations.
Not only was the event impeccably done with an amazing cocktail hour and a four-course meal prepared by Bryan Voltaggio at a super cool location—the dock-master building at DC’s new Wharf—it really made me feel lucky to have created the life I want. Had I never started blogging, I can say with confidence I would not have been at that table, sitting next to my blogger bestie who has become a “real life” friend and confidant. And I would have never known the ladies across the table from us had I not committed myself to putting myself out there at networking events. As I enter into the new year, the pinch-me moment I had at this event is good reminder to keep chasing my goals and putting myself out there.
And that’s a wrap on my top 10 moments of 2017!
I’m so excited for the year ahead—and I’m looking forward to pushing my comfort zone even more in 2018. I’m planning on checking in soon with a post about my 2018 goals—while I’m so proud of all I’ve accomplished in this life so far, I know that the best is yet to come.
While I have no plans to share mine in-full here, another way I love to capture my year is through the One Second Every Day app. It’s a $5 app that allows you to take a one-second video everyday and mash them into a video of your year. (You can see a 52-second clip of mine in this post.) I find it’s a wonderful way to capture both the ordinary and the extraordinary, and I love having a little time capsule of my life.
I hope you take some time this holiday season to reflect on your year! x
All that’s unwritten,
be it bright.