2015 in review

2015 is drawing to a close, and it has been quite a year. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how fast it went, or that I can’t believe it’s over, because you already know and everyone says the same thing. I said a year ago that 2015 was going to be a year of commitment and stability, and I was right: I’m writing to you now from the same Brooklyn apartment, where I live with the same roommate (plus one!) after a long day at the same job. It was a good year, don’t get me wrong – but I’m looking forward to some excitement in 2016. Before that, though, here’s a glimpse of the past 12 months in this delightful life of mine.

 

Winter Storm Juno 2015 in Manhattan

January & February

I’m clumping these two together because they were frankly the same: Work, schlep home in the snow, repeat. Before winter began I joked about hibernating from first snow to my mid-April birthday, and it ended up being a little more real than I anticipated. My friend Nicole did visit in February, and we ate our way around Manhattan for two days, which was a nice way to break up the monotony of the coldest New York February in nearly a century!

Also: I lead my first community group at Liberty Church, spent a day on the Upper West Side, prepared for a blizzard that never came, and went 21 days without social media.

The suburbs of Cleveland

March

In March I finally snapped out of my Brooklyn routine and flew to Cleveland for a girls weekend with my family! It was just the spark I needed to snap out of my winter funk: I reunited with my mom, sister, aunt and cousin – and remembered just how cool my birthplace can be.

Also: I celebrated one year in New York City with the best friends I could ever ask for.

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

April

With April came the spring we had all been waiting for. I spent the month cherishing the opportunity to be outside, venturing to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to soak up the sun and admire the cherry blossoms. April also brought my twenty-fifth birthday and all of the reflection that comes with such a milestone.

Also: The first-ever She Is Free conference, and Becca and I welcomed our third roommate, Faby!

One World Trade Center on a foggy day

May

May was supposed to bring a vacation, but I couldn’t get my act together in time and ended up with a New York staycation, one of my favorite things! Unfortunately, I got hit with a pretty bad head cold in the middle of it, and May got boring, but at least I wasn’t out of town when I got sick – and didn’t have to use sick days at work. Before I became bed-bound, I did see Mamma Mia!, visit One World Observatory for the first time, and pop by the Whitney – one of my favorite museums.

Also: I picnicked at Prospect Park for Memorial Day, and welcomed a slew of friends to my neighborhood as Crown Heights suddenly became “cool.”

Boston as seen from the Prudential Tower

June

In June my long-planned vacation finally fell together, and I headed off to Boston on my first solo trip. I had an incredible few days doing whatever the heck I wanted: Basically a dream come true!

Highlights included going to the top of the Prudential Tower, walking the Freedom Trail, and catching a game at Fenway Park.

The Venice Canals of Los Angeles

July

I kept up my summer travel streak by hopping over to the West Coast to reunite with some of my favorites:  I crashed with my college bestie Kathleen (also my unofficial blog adviser) met up with my aunt and uncle, and took a vow to never ever go two years without visiting California again!

Highlights of my LA trip include seeing the Venice Canals, visiting the Getty and hanging out in my favorite LA neighborhood, Santa Monica.

New York City as seen from the Top of the Rock

August

I kept still in August, but the excitement found me! My sister Ally came to visit over her nineteenth birthday, and we had adventures including a picnic dinner, a trip to Top of the Rock, and as much junk food as I could shovel into her health-conscious body. Hosting visitors is one of my favorite parts of living in New York (seriously, come visit), and I cherish getting to show off “my” city to people who have only seen the touristy parts before.

Also: I took a cruise around New York Harbor with my besties, started using Vimeo, and celebrated one year of A Genuine Delight!

New York City as seen from One World Observatory

September

The beginning of fall brought more visitors, with my parents and cousin overlapping their visits – and my best friend Jordan following shortly thereafter! There was a lot of sightseeing, including a one-day whilrwind, and catching up with loved ones. Bonus that I didn’t have to leave New York to make it happen!

Also: I launched my delightful guide to NYC!

A giraffe at Kruger National Park, South Africa

October

October was the defining month of my year: I took my first trip to Africa, mainly to do missions work with Children’s Cup, but ended up having the most transforming week of my entire life. From hitting the plains on a safari to getting to know my sponsor child in person, I am absolutely not the same person I was when I left, and I have a suspicion this trip was really only the start of a journey for me.

No “alsos” here. Africa defined October – and 2015 – and that’s perfectly fine by me.

Santa Claus at the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

November

I was worried November would feel like my life screeching to a halt, but luckily I fell right back in love with New York City – and even with fall! I spent the month jumping in piles of leaves, eating tacos in the neighborhood, and celebrating Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones – even if we don’t share blood.

Also: I checked “Go to the Macy’s Parade” off my bucket list, and tricked my travel bug into thinking I’d left the city by trekking out to Queens County Farm.

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza

December

December has been blissfully, blessedly uneventful. I spent lazy days with friends, had some freelance work published for the first time in years, and celebrated Christmas in Brooklyn for the second year in a row. I really cherish getting to slow down when it feels like the rest of the world is going crazy!

Also: I ate my weight in snickerdoodles and saw a lot of Christmas trees.

Other highlights of 2015 include reading 38 books (on a goal of 30!), having my photos featured on Instagram by @travelmail and @nypost, and becoming a little more comfortable with commitment (to the city, to my job, to a blog). Tomorrow we’ll look to the year ahead – but for tonight, I hope you have the loveliest time celebrating all we’ve done in 2015.

Happy new year, friends!

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Boston Common and Public Garden

Well friends, this is my final post about my Boston trip (about time, right?) It’s also the one I’ve been looking forward to the most!

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When I told my parents I was going to Boston, my mom immediately started singing the praises of the Boston Common – America’s first public park, opened in 1634.

Sure enough, I ended up there for at least some portion of time every single day I was in the city. It serves as the starting point for the Freedom Trail, is filled with open spaces perfect for lying out with a book, and of course is ideal for people-watching.

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Adjacent to the Common is the Boston Public Garden. A lost of people think it’s one giant park, but they are distinct entities – which led to some confusion myself! I was searching the Common for the swan boats my mom had told me she rode in as a little girl, only to discover that they are in fact at the Public Garden, across the street.

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Living in New York has made me somewhat of a park snob – when your summer weekends are spent at Central Park or Prospect Park, how can anything else compare? But I can safely say that these Boston parks DO compare, and are the perfect (free!) spot to relax when visiting the city.

Sam Adams Brewery Tour

One thing I really wanted to do when I was in Boston was go on a brewery tour. I love beer, I love tasting local beers, and every brewery tour I’ve been on has been a blast. Lucky for me, Samuel Adams – which makes some of my favorite brews – is based in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston and offers FREE (!!) tours!

I popped in around 11 a.m. on a Friday and there happened to be a tour starting ten minutes from then, so I jumped right on it! They don’t take reservations so I felt really lucky to have the timing work out so well. I had so much fun learning about the brewing process and (especially) getting to sample their different trademark beers. Also, our tour guide was hilarious!

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The waiting area was like a mini museum – so much fun to look around and start picking up fun facts before the tour even started.

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My “ticket” to get on the tour.

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Little glimpses of the brewhouse and barrel room. Fun fact: This brewery in Boston is for testing and research purposes. The bulk of their brewing is done in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

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At the end of the tour, we got these tiny beer glasses to keep as souvenirs. Not bad for a tour that only cost a suggested $2 charity donation!

Overall, I highly recommend doing the Samuel Adams brewery tour if you’re ever in Boston with some time to kill. If you do, it’s at 30 Germania Street off the orange line on the T. It’s a bit of a trek, but well worth it!

Have you ever been on a brewery tour or considered one on your travels?

Eating in Boston

Let’s be real: I love food. When I travel, eating local cuisine is one of my favorite things to do, and Boston was no different.

What is Boston known for? SEAFOOD. And I can officially vouch for all of it.

Here’s a little overview of the best meals I had and places I dined:

The Warren Tavern, Charlestown: This is the oldest tavern in Massachusetts, and has been visited by the likes of George Washington and Paul Revere. It’s pretty standard bar food – I had a burger, fries and Boston Lager – but it’s very much worth a visit for the history alone!

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Quincy Market: Touristy to the extreme, but for good reason! Again, history. There are SO many options here, but I ended up at mmMac n’ Cheese (shocking I know) eating the Boston Seafood Mac.

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Legal Sea Foods: This is a chain, recommended to me by my parents, and I dined at the one on Park Plaza. The food and service were both amazing – I had a lobster roll (it was a special, not on the menu, so be sure to ask your waiter what’s available!) as well as a Boston Lager (see a trend?) and cheesecake for dessert. Yum!

What’s your favorite place to eat in Boston? I know I missed a lot!

Boston’s Back Bay

For a neighborhood I didn’t really plan on exploring beyond the Prudential Tower, Back Bay quickly became one of my favorite parts of Boston. My host in Charlestown suggested I visit Copley Square and Newbury Street on my way to Fenway Park, and I’m so glad I took her advice! (If you use airbnb, always ask your hosts for tips.)

Having done very little research on the area, I took the train down in the morning with plans to see Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, and as much of Newbury Street as possible before taking the train to Fenway. Turns out, Boston is MUCH smaller than I thought, and I was able to see those sites, walk the length of Newbury (even ducking into a couple shops!) and walk to the stadium with time to spare.

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The most beautiful library, and it even has a gorgeous private courtyard!

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Trinity Church is simply beautiful, and the juxtaposition to the John Hancock Tower makes for great reflections and photography.

IMG_4617The cutest shopping district I’ve ever seen!

Have you been to Back Bay? What’s your favorite part?