At the end of 2021, I was really, really unhappy. I was burnt out, stressed out, maxed out. My hair was falling out in clumps, my anxiety was at an all-time high, and, in hindsight, I was probably a little depressed. One of the best vacations I have ever been on was the trip I took to Charleston over New Year’s last year because it truly gave me a new lease on life and reminded me that there are many bright, sunny, warm days ahead. I came back from that trip feeling so restored and ready to make big changes to my life so that I would never have to suffer many of the (metaphorical) self-inflicted wounds I gave myself in 2021.
There is no question that 2022 was a much better year for me than the year prior. Over the past few days, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on all the progress I made, the things I learned, the priorities I honored, and the fun that was had. I am entering 2023 with a lot of pride for how I lived in 2022, and excited to keep building on the momentum of the past year. If your TikTok FYP is anything like mine, you’ve been on the “lucky girl syndrome” algorithm. And, because of all those videos, I can’t help but repeating the following mantra to myself: I am so lucky and everything always works out for me — and that’s the energy I am taking with me into the next year!
I say this every year, but this blog post is always my favorite to write. You can read the ones from year’s past here — 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016. Putting this post together was such a good reminder that the days are long and the years are short — it’s amazing how much can happen in a year. Thank you all for being along for the ride, and I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for all of us! x
FINDING OUT I DIDN’T HAVE CANCER
No other moment from this year tops this one — and I wrote more about my health journey this year in this post.
Long, long story short, in June, I was diagnosed with a hemochromatosis, which is a condition where your body stores too much iron. As part of that diagnosis, my hematologist wanted to do an ultrasound as a precaution to look at my vital organs to ensure my body wasn’t depositing excess iron in them. He also prescribed a treatment called a therapeutic phlebotomy where I essentially donate blood on a regular basis in order to lower the overall amount of iron in my blood. I had Monday, June 20 off work in observance of Juneteenth and scheduled both my ultrasound and first therapeutic phlebotomy that day.
Within an hour of me returning home from my ultrasound, they called to let me know they found a 2cm lesion on my liver and wanted to get it looked at via MRI as soon as possible. I honestly think I went into a state of shock — and then, within the hour, I had to drive myself to my first therapeutic phlebotomy, where I passed out while I was donating blood. Needless to say, I would have rather gone to work that day.
The next three days while I was waiting for my liver MRI were absolutely miserable. I was so anxious I could barely function and though I tried to stay positive, it was really hard not to assume — or Google — the worst. I was also especially worried because my family’s annual trip to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina was the following week, and I wanted answers before we left on our trip.
My MRI was on Thursday, and then on Friday morning, my doctor called me with the amazing news — the lesion did not appear cancerous! (In the end, there were actually two lesions, and both looked to be benign. I am so glad I didn’t know that week that there were two as that would have really caused me to spiral.) After hearing the news, I immediately started crying tears of relief and then called my mom as soon as I hung up the phone. I could not have survived that week without the support of my family and close friends, and I was also really lucky that it was a lighter week at work, so I was able to take an hour here or there as needed to process what I was going through.
The following week, my immediate and extended family spent a fun week at OIB — and because of everything I went through the week prior, appreciated it that much more.
A SUNSET MAI TAI CRUISE IN HAWAII
My friend Emma and I went to Hawaii for a week in March, and the whole trip was truly a highlight of the year — and beyond that, was definitely the trip of a lifetime. I wrote more about our trip here, here, and here — but one moment of the trip stands out above the rest, and that’s the sunset mai tai cruise we took.
Since we were visiting Hawaii, we knew wanted to get out on the water some — but we wanted to be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy it versus doing something super active like kayaking. I’ve been on several sunset booze cruises in my day, and figured doing one in Hawaii would be a great memory of our time in the islands. We were so lucky that our cruise was scheduled for a day with unbeatable weather, and so we got to see the most amazing sunset.
I searched around for a while when comparing which catamaran cruise I wanted us to take, but ultimately settled on the Maitai Sunset Sail & Booze Cruise with an open bar for a few reasons. For one, it left from the Sheraton Waikiki right next to our hotel, so it would be easy for us to get there and allow us to maximize our beach time that day. For another, it was longer than most other catamaran cruises I saw being offered — it was a full two-hour cruise, whereas most others I was looking at were 90 minutes. (And I would say, in actuality, our cruise was closer to two-and-a-half hours because the captain was awesome!) And most importantly, for just $80 a person, it offered an open bar! We figured that would be a more seamless experience for us than some of the BYOB cruises that were just $10-20 less than this option.
To board the catamaran, we walked a few feet out into the ocean and then kept our shoes off for the rest of the sail — talk about being on island time. The first mate served everyone Mai Tais right as we got on board, and they had all sorts of wine, beer, bubbly, and spirits available as well. Eventually, we switched over to a Mai Tai x champagne “mimosa” of sorts that was so, so good. Our captain took us out far enough that we got a great view of Honolulu and Diamond Head, and it was actually the end of a whale migration season, so we saw several whales. There was great music going and we made friends with some of the other guests on board.
It was such a magical night and one I certainly won’t forget anytime soon.
HAPPY HOUR AT BEMELMAN’S & DINNER AT POLO BAR
I spent a lot of time in NYC this year, but one night in particular stands out above the rest — when I finally checked Bemelman’s at The Carlyle and The Polo Bar off my bucket list while visiting Emma in August.
After working remotely on Friday morning, Emma and I closed down shop and then headed over to Bemelman’s at The Carlyle for a late Friday afternoon happy hour with Monica + Sarah. Bemelman’s had been on my list for years as they are famous for their masterpiece murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the classic Madeline children’s books. Because it’s a popular spot, and on the smaller side, it often is crowded and hard to snag a spot. We arrived around 4pm on a Friday afternoon and got a table for four no problem, but when we left around 5:45pm, it was packed!
I loved it — it felt so cozy and romantic and classic New York. Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a huge fan of Bemelman’s, and so they have a cocktail named after her, the ‘Jackie O.’ That’s what I opted to drink and it was delicious. It’s made with made with passion fruit-infused vodka, fresh lime juice, and topped off with champagne. They also provide you with a sampling of bar snacks complimentary. It was so great to catch up with three great friends in such a fun, special occasion place.
As we left Bemelman’s, we asked the doorman at The Carlyle to help us hail a cab, and he did one better — he offered us a ride in The Carlyle’s courtesy car, a Mercedes Benz, over to Polo Bar. We truly felt like queens! It was a short ride, but such a memorable one — and because of it, I’ll be a fan of The Carlyle for life now.
Scoring a reservation at The Polo Bar is hard as very few of them make it online. The best way to get one is to call one month ahead of when you want to dine when their reservations office opens at 10am. We were lucky enough to snag one, and it was truly one of the best meals of my life. For one, the decor at the restaurant is just unparalleled — Ralph Lauren knows what he is doing! And for another, the service was outstanding. Our waitress was attentive and anticipated our every need, yet wasn’t ever hovering at our table.
You enter through the bar upstairs and then head downstairs to where the dining room is located. We were seated at a table in the heart of the restaurant, and it made for a great vantage point to enjoy all the decor. I would love to have a basement one day that gives off the warmth and hospitality of this restaurant! We enjoyed the bread serviced and a crab cake to start, and then all got the burger as our entree — they are known for them, and y’all know it’s probably my favorite meal ever. It didn’t disappoint!
After dinner, we went upstairs to enjoy a drink at The Polo Bar’s bar. To drink here, you have to have a reservation for dinner, so it’s a great place to enjoy a pre- or post-dinner drink. And, because they limit it to patrons with reservations, it’s fairly easy to snag a barstool. Again, the service here was excellent. I went with a glass of bubbly, but this is the type of place where you could tell the bartender what type of cocktail you like and they could mix you up something great. It was such a great way to cap off our amazing night.
SEEING ‘SIX’ THE MUSICAL WITH MY SISTERS
This is one of my favorite moments of the year, but one I went into with almost no expectations. It just goes to show you that it’s always good to leave some room for things to surprise you!
For those of you unfamiliar, Six is a modern retelling of the six wives of Henry VIII. My coworker saw the show earlier this summer and highly recommended it, so I was excited to see it as I love the opportunity to see live theater. An 80-minute show with no intermission, it was amazing from start to finish — the music, the costumes, and the stage presence of each of the wives was so good. I remember looking over at my sisters during one of the songs and we were all just having so much FUN watching this amazing show.
Afterwards, we went back to my apartment and sat out on my balcony for a long time. We enjoyed some wine and ended up having a dance party to all of our favorite One Direction hits. It was the perfect summer night and we couldn’t recreate it if we tried.
It’s been months since we have seen the show, and I haven’t stopped listening to the soundtrack — if it tours in your city or you’re able to see it in NYC on Broadway, I can’t recommend it enough.
BRUNCH IN OLD TOWN WITH MY SISTER LINDSEY
My sisters and I hang out often, and since Jennifer and I live a mile apart, we see each other for one-on-one time quite a bit. But, it is more rare that Lindsey and I get to spend time just the two of us. In July, the rest of our family were all out of town for one reason or another, so as the remaining family members in town, we decided to get together for a fun Saturday brunch down in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia.
We were able to get a last minute reservation at Barca, an awesome tapas restaurant right on the Potomac River — and, we lucked out with great weather! It was sunny, warm, but not oppressively humid. Simply put, it was the perfect day. Because of the fun vibes and great food, it really felt like we were on vacation. We had a few mimosas, shared a variety of breakfast and lunch small plates, and caught up on each other’s lives.
After we were done with our long, leisurely meal, we walked around Old Town for a while. We popped into a couple of boutiques on King Street, and I ended up purchasing this super cute dress from The Lucky Knot. If you’re looking for a cute, colorful piece of clothing at a great price point, I highly recommend this store — we browsed for quite a long time! Once we were done shopping, we walked by the water for a while, which is always so restorative.
I loved this day with my sister Lindsey, and am so glad we have since had some great one-on-one hangs since this fun Old Town Alexandria summer brunch.
A DAY SPENT AT THE POOL WITH FRIENDS IN PUERTO RICO
In April, my former coworkers Erin and Dylan tied the knot in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico and I was lucky enough to be invited to witness their special day! About 15 of our friends — all former coworkers and significant others — attended and we all stayed at the same resort, which was so much fun because it meant we basically spent the whole wedding weekend together.
I had such a special first job that I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for — we had the best company culture and genuinely had fun with each other, which was such a nice extension of my social network as an early 20-something. This trip just reinforced how special that experience was and I consider myself so lucky to be friends with such an awesome group, even though most of us no longer work together.
This year, I took a lot of trips where I was always on the move, but this was a true vacation as we basically didn’t leave the resort — we only left for the wedding. And because everyone was staying at the same resort, there wasn’t much planning or coordination needed to enjoy a lot of quality time together. We all basically just showed up at the pool around 10am after breakfast and didn’t leave until 4 or 5pm in the afternoon. The pool was huge and offered a swim up bar and restaurant that served up the most delicious drinks, burgers, salads, and chicken tenders.
This trip was non-stop fun from start to finish, and I was really sad to leave when it was over — a lot of us recently reunited at a holiday party and couldn’t stop talking about how much fun we had in Puerto Rico!
A WEEKEND IN EDENTON, NORTH CAROLINA
I can’t pick just a singular moment from my October trip to Edenton, North Carolina with my sister Jennifer because it was truly such an amazing trip.
Prior to receiving the exciting email in my inbox inviting me to explore Edenton, candidly, it had never really been on my radar before. But now that I’ve experienced the uniqueness of this charming small town firsthand, I want to convince as many people as possible to visit — it’s truly unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. A welcoming small town with beautiful waterfront views, it’s just a short four hour drive from the DC area, making it the perfect weekend getaway spot. And regardless of your interests, there’s something for everyone — rich history, stunning waterfront views, great antiquing and shopping, delicious food, and ample front porches with rocking chairs to sit back on and relax.
One moment from the trip that really stands out was Vinyl Night — and I am not exaggerating when I say it was probably the most fun Saturday night I had all year. Held weekly in the Courtyard of Edenton Bay Trading Company, DJ Eddie and Melissa play real vinyl records in real time while you can enjoy an adult beverage of your choosing — the sangria is super popular! But in addition to the music, they make it very interactive with everyone — at one point I was given a fake microphone and asked to sing It’s Raining Men with a bunch of fellow Vinyl Night attendees. And, at 9pm, there is such a fun rendition of Billy Joel’s Piano Man! Even though Jennifer and I didn’t know anyone else there, we had the best time and I wish there was something like this in Arlington!
Another highlight of our trip was exploring Edenton Bay by boat with Captain Mark! He is so knowledgable about the history of Edenton and made it such an enjoyable cruise. It was also really great to see Edenton from the water and learn about upcoming projects the town is investing in. If you’re visiting Edenton, this cruise is an absolute must!
I’ve been lucky to be hosted by numerous hotels and tourism boards over the years because of my blog, but this was hands down the best media trip I have ever been on — the location was amazing, the locals were so hospitable, and the tourism director and agency who organized the trip were so organized and made us feel so welcome. When I take a step back and think about all the cool experiences my blog has brought me over the years, I am always so proud — and this trip to Edenton was definitely the highlight of my blog career in 2022!
A NIGHT AT SEACRETS IN OCMD
For Memorial Day Weekend, my sisters and I went to Ocean City, Maryland and had such a great kickoff to the summer season. On Friday night when we arrived, we unloaded the car and then started happy hour out on our balcony! After happy hour, we went over to Ocean City classic Macky’s for dinner.
After dinner, it was still on the early side and we didn’t want to go back to the hotel quite yet, so I suggested we head over to Seacrets, perhaps the most well-known bar in OCMD, for some drinks. I went back in my early 20s with friends and remember thinking it was a fun spot, and I wanted to introduce Jennifer and Lindsey.
When we arrived around 9pm, it was crowded enough to be fun, but not so crowded you couldn’t move around or get drinks — and we only had to pay a $15 cover, which was a great rate for a holiday weekend. We had such a fun night, and it’s one we still talk and laugh about often because one of us — and it wasn’t me — may have enjoyed a few too many orange crushes. Seacrets had a live band going, which was really good and we had the best time in “Jamaica, USA.”
When we got back to the hotel, we ordered some Domino’s pizza + garlic knots, and woke up to a beautiful beach day the following morning.
LUNCH AT CANAL CLUB IN SCOTTSDALE
In May, I went to Scottsdale, Arizona for my friend Kristyn’s bachelorette party and we had so much fun! One moment that stands out from our trip west was our first lunch in town at Canal Club. When we arrived, it was my job to take Kristyn out somewhere fun while others decorated the house. Located at The Scott, Canal Club has a cute indoor bar and seating area, as well as a beautiful patio right near the resort’s pool. We opted to sit outside in the shade, and it was the perfect spot to be “ladies who lunch.” We loved everything we ate and drank here, and they also have matchbooks, you just have to ask. And, definitely check out the bathroom, especially if you love a pink + palms moment as much as me. We had such a nice leisurely lunch here, enjoying the anticipation of the rest of the fun to come on the trip.
It was hard to pick a singular moment from this trip to highlight — and our dinner at Toca Madera also stands out as it was an experience from start to finish. For one, the ambiance and decor was incredible — it had a very indoor/outdoor concept, with large trees inside, and there were fire eaters walking around throughout. They’re known for these shots they set on fire, so, of course, we ordered those to start. Usually those things are pretty gimmicky — and I have no idea what was in those shots, but they were actually delicious. The food was also great — I had their version of fajitas and they were delicious. We also took a very memorable golf cart ride to and from the restaurant!
And overall, this such a fun trip celebrating one of my best friends, Kristyn! We were lucky enough to meet through blogging back in 2014 and have had so many great times, laughs, and meals since. Kristyn has been such a good friend to me, and I am so lucky to have her and her groom, Corey, in my life. Their wedding was in early June in Wilmington, North Carolina, and was a also fantastic weekend!
YEAR FOUR OF DINNER CLUB
I always say that dinner club is the highlight of my month, every month — so it deserves a spot on this list. This year, we tried twelve wonderful, new-to-us restaurants in DC and I look forward to our night of amazing food and conversation all month long. L’ardente was our unanimous number one spot of the year, and I was lucky enough to eat their twice — once with dinner club in May, and then again in July to celebrate my friend Jackie’s birthday.
I can’t wait to see where our year of eating in 2023 takes us — dinner club is truly the best club I’ve been a part of!
As I close out this year’s post, I wanted to leave you with a quote that I have been coming back to frequently the past several months:
the little things —
the long baths,
the page-turning novels,
the quiet Saturday mornings,
the city lights
— they were the big things all along.
May your 2023 be filled with laughter, wonder, and appreciation for all the little things. x