Well hello there.
Today, I am 27 years old. Officially at that age where I can say I’m close to 30, officially at that age where I can look back on the last decade of my life and measure up what I’ve done, what I’ve yet to do, and what I’ve accomplished. It’s a dizzying, heady feeling and it’s easy to have it overwhelm me if I’m not careful!
Instead of focusing on that, I thought this site’s revival was long overdue, and an appropriate way to celebrate is to look back on 27 reasons why the heck I was so busy in 2015 in the first place. (Spoiler alert: travel involved).
1. Turning 26
It sounds silly, to make this my first milestone, yet why not? I’m beyond thankful to be here, and I was beyond thankful to be healthy, happy, and celebrate my 26th with my family (like this monkey) and my ladies (shoutout to Selma and Sarah my loves)!
2. Traveling with Friends, Part A: Keeping Up With Those Pesky Kardashians
In 2015 April brought along my epic trip with Karrie, whose details I haven’t even managed to fully flesh out. It started in Los Angeles, where we stayed at a posh hotel, dined like celebrities, did a photoshoot under a boardwalk, and had a hell of a time (and it was only the first leg of the trip)! Soaking up the sun in LA, having drinks at the bar with babetastic bartenders, and walking Rodeo Drive and The Grove like we were made of money… hah. Lifestyles of the rich and the famous, indeed.
3. Singing Smelly Cat at Central Perk
On the day we were to fly from Los Angeles to New York, we ended our California adventure with an amazing Warner Bros. Studio Tour. There were many highlights in the tour – holding an Academy Award (heavy!!!) walking through Stars Hollow (sets now used for Pretty Little Liars), seeing tons of Batman and Harry Potter memorabilia, vehicles, sets and props… but perhaps the biggest moment of them all was not just seeing but walking into Central Perk, picking up a guitar, and singing Smelly Cat (while everyone else sang along).
4. Traveling with Friends, Part B: Concrete Jungle Wet Dream Tomato
A red eye flight took Karrie and I to New York City, and I could not believe our great fortune in the slightest. Though I could have easily spent several more weeks there (spending days on end at The Met and MoMA, not to mention the countless other places I didn’t get to), this trip was an absolute gift. From walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (bucket list item checked off) to dining at (multiple!) Michelin-starred restaurants to watching a show on Broadway (and MEETING SIERRA BOGGESS AND DAVID BURTKA, HELLO)… NYC was a dream that I didn’t want to wake up from. Oh, and did I mention we stayed at the Waldorf Astoria? Because we did. Old money, old architecture, old everything. It was such a juxtaposition from the Roosevelt in LA… but walking through that place at 3AM just made me imagine the likes of British Royalty all the way to Lucky Luciano shadowing my footsteps. What. A. Trip.
5. Watching Jimmy Fallon Live
After clicking refresh a bajillion times on the computer, having Karrie (and two of her coworkers) do the same… I got tickets to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Karrie and I practically spent a whole day at 30 Rock. We had the option between Thursday or Friday, and we were very seriously leaning towards Friday without knowing who the guests were… because Friday is always a big day, right? WRONG. If we’d picked Friday, we would have have Vanessa Hudgens and Kevin James. NO THANKS, PAUL BLART. My gut told me to pick Thursday, so I did… and instead, Karrie and I were treated to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Madonna. No, seriously. That, plus Jimmy himself? That was worth every hour we spent just waiting.
6. Three Michelin Stars
Eleven Madison Park deserved its own bullet on this list. The four hour experience was not one I will soon (or ever) forget. From the service (they know your name when you walk in the door) to the presentation and plating to Steve, our Canadian chef bae, to the perfect flavours in every single dish to the kitchen tour to the jar of granola they give you at the end (yeah, seriously)… EMP was the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. Ever.
7. Baking with Jackie Kai Ellis
Jackie (the owner of the amazing Beaucoup Bakery) welcomed six of us into her home to bake and eat with her! She showed us the secrets to her super sexy square tarts, and we made both chocolate and heirloom tomato & fromage frais tarts.
8. Traveling with Friends, Part C: #Becation2015
I was lucky enough to have my bestie Chynna come to visit with her sister and nephew, and the time we spent together was far too brief yet one of my most cherished memories of the whole year. 🙂
9. Traveling with Friends, Part D: Portlandia
Fresh off of LA/NY and time with Chynna, Chelsea, Shannon & I did a girls’ weekend roadtrip to Portland. Everywhere we went was beautiful. Everything we ate was good. Seriously though. What a freakin’ foodtrip (no, I didn’t go to Pok Pok, and yes, I do want to go back soon).
10. Homeward Bound
Y’all have heard me talk about my love for the United Kingdom ad nauseam, but there really are no words that’ll encapsulate the sense of belonging I feel when I’m there, and the absolute sense of dread I feel when I’m not. Navigating the Tube is second nature, being on the other side of the road doesn’t bother me, and the idea of walking through a market at 7AM on a Saturday to get my groceries done for the week sounds like a grand plan. Whenever I land in the UK I feel like I’m coming home, and it drives me cuckoo banana crackers that no one else in my family really understands that about me. 2015 gave me the opportunity to be in the UK for a month (yes, a month that went by creepingly slow yet far too fast) and nowhere else in the world have I ever felt this much belonging. From the Isles of Scilly west of Cornwall all the way to the Scottish Highlands, this trip blew my mind in the best possible way.
11. Wearing a Fascinator at an English Wedding
The main reason for my going to the UK in the first place was a whole excursion planned around Andrew & Amelia’s wedding in Shepton Mallet. Not only was I able to attend an English wedding (bucket list item checked off again!), I also fully committed to wearing a fascinator at the wedding, too (another bucket list item). The wedding was amazing, the people were amazing (thank you to Andrew’s parents for being amazing human beings) and I couldn’t be more honoured to have been a witness at such a beautiful event. PICA brings people together!!!
12. (Re)Visiting Downton Abbey
I first visited Highclere Castle in 2014, where I attended their WWI centenary celebration. To return again (and this time with friends) was such a blast. I’m so grateful the weather held for us, so we didn’t have to trudge through muddy grounds. Highclere will continue to be one of the prettiest places I’ve ever laid my eyes on.
13. Afternoon Tea at the Dorchester
No trip to the UK would have been complete without taking Afternoon Tea. I decided to go all out this time, so Andrew, Amelia, Mo and I booked the Dorchester (classic!) for our tea. With it, I decided to take a risk (what’s the worst that could happen?) and inquire if we could have a kitchen tour. Not only did we get a kitchen tour… we got one from Chef David Gerard, the Dorchester’s Executive Pastry Chef! What an honour (and an amazing insight into such a huge operation).
14. Getting To Explore London Alone
Traveling with friends is wonderful. Getting to share experiences with other people can make it all the more memorable. But some of my favourite moments were also in the stillness of being alone. No need for small talk, no one else’s schedule to consider. Exploring London by myself – just me, myself, and I – was amazing. The best part was figuring out how to master taking photos of me… by myself (see here for my post on travel photography gadgetry). I think I got the hang of it pretty darn good (though it earned some odd looks sometimes). From Borough Market up to Shoreditch (where I had an amazing meal at The Clove Club with Sebastian, an Aussie who’s the best server I’ve ever had at a meal in my life), with a visit to the Sky Garden and then onward to the Barbican to watch…
15. Robert Sean Leonard as Atticus Finch
I randomly looked up what shows were on in London while I was there. I got to watch Richard II at midnight at the Globe Theatre (it was hella cold and windy for July!) and there’s something else to note later in this list, but this – I stumbled across this completely by accident. I glanced over and noticed that To Kill A Mockingbird at the historical and famous Barbican Theatre was closing right as I settled in London after a fortnight in the Southwestern countryside. Reading further on, I discovered that Robert Sean Leonard, who is arguably one of my absolute favourite actors in the history of ever, was playing the role of Atticus Finch. My jaw dropped. The only day I could make work was (thank god) the closing night of the play. Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of the play just… broke me apart and rebuilt me in the best way possible. I was in tears by the end. Absolute tears. The music, the staging… everything. I hope this play tours worldwide. I hope anyone and everyone gets to see it.
16. Traveling with Friends, Part E: Jen Squared
I was lucky enough to have even more BFF time throughout this year with Jen, who visited me the December prior. After some convincing I got her to hop across the pond and join me for an epic adventure through both England and Scotland. Man, oh man, was it ever epic. Aside from everything (and more) in the collage above, she’s also a part of points 17 – 21 below!
17. Reuniting with Family
The Lago family came into my life thanks to PICA, and I am so very blessed to call them family. Though it was fleeting and not NEARLY enough time, we spent the afternoon down the rabbit hole with some epic Mad Hatter’s Tea… and I got plenty of cuddles from one of my favourite men, the Z-Meister.
18. The Ledbury
Much like my experience at EMP earlier in this list, The Ledbury was another mindblowing experience – my second favourite meal I’ve ever had in my life (and favourite meal in the UK, besting Heston and Gordon, sorry boys). Brett Graham is an incredibly, incredibly talented man… and my brain broke when we were taken downstairs after our meal to MEET HIM.
19. Another Day, Another Destiny
I had already passed up watching Les Miserables in New York City (which I regret…) but there was absolutely no way I was going to pass up seeing it at my old haunt, the Queen’s Theatre. I first saw Les Miserables there in 2008 and have made a habit of seeing it every return visit since… still beautiful, still haunting, still my favourite musical.
20. Scotland. Damn.
Where do I even begin? Scotland blew my mind. Scotland broke my brain. Aside from it being absolutely breathtaking, I had no personal expectations for the history and the great outdoors and everything Scotland brings… I had no idea it would feel like home. London will always be my first love, but London is also a lot like New York City – so much stimuli at such a ridiculous price point. Unless I win that Powerball (spoiler alert, I won’t), living in London is not the most practical of plans for me. Glasgow, however, or Inverness? I felt a sense of belonging in Scotland that parting truly was sweet sorrow. Every castle, every Glen, every Ben, every Loch… I would move to Scotland in a heartbeat and I would return in a heartbeat. Edinburgh was full of history and delicious food, Glasgow was its urban sibling, and everything in between was bonny.
21. The Wee Red Bus
Because heading up into the Highlands without a car would severely cut my free time down, Jen and I chose to book a 5 day tour with Heart of Scotland, and this tour was one of the biggest highlights of my entire month in the UK. Hosted by the epic, amazing Danny, 16 people from around the world (Canada, USA, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Brazil, Italy…) were all brought together. Starting in Edinburgh, we headed up to Stirling, then Inverness, west to Skye, back down, popping into Doune Castle for a jaunt, then back to Edinburgh. It was the time of my life and I made memories (and friends) to last me a lifetime.
22. Bon Effing Jovi
My Jersey Girl Carol and I got to see Bon Jovi live in concert. I won’t go into detail about the hullaballoo around it all. Bottom line is… we sang at the top of our lungs, he put on a hell of a show, and that was yet another bucket list item ticked off.
23. Traveling with Friends, Part F: #JNOkanagan
I spent a weekend in Kelowna with Nicole and her parents, where we had an absolute blast touring wineries, eating delicious food, and just being generally ridiculous together. British Columbia truly is beautiful and I’m looking forward to exploring more of it.
24. Dinners with the #Squad
Andrew, Amelia, Daryl, Carol and I, or any combination therein… going to dinner at amazing restaurants with amazing people who appreciate and love food as much as you do? Mega win. Epic win. So much love. Blurry camera phone photos with plenty of empty wine glasses? Yeah, that sounds about right.
25. Yer a wizard, Jen(ny)
Halloween 2015: I was Ron. Elvis is my patronus. I rest my case.
26. Stuff and Things
It’s not often that I get sucked into a fandom hard to the point where it eats my brain (no pun intended for the upcoming reveal). The last one to do so was probably Outlander, and before that Game of Thrones. After several years of holding out because I didn’t think I could handle the zombies and the gore and all that… Chynna convinced me to watch The Walking Dead. In the last month (barring some of Christmas break due to internet issues), I marathoned five seasons and half of the sixth, bringing me completely up to date for when it returns in a month’s time. You must think I’m crazy, devoting a WHOLE POINT to a TV show when I could mention John Mulaney, or Alton Brown, or Nigella Lawson… but nope. TWD takes the cake. #Ricktatorship2016 #JusticeForBeth #GlennNeedsMoreFellowAsians #WWDDD
27. Mele Kalikimaka
Of course, the year wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention my family, and how fortunate I am that I got to spend so much time with them. My brother’s family moved to Hawaii while I was in Scotland, so I never had a chance to really say goodbye properly. Fortunately, I was able to visit them for Thanksgiving, and again for Christmas. I love my favourite boy and my little babushka, and I love that I now have an excuse to go to Hawaii often.
So. There you go and there you are. 27 things about 2015 that I look back on with great love and fondness.
2016 has imbued me with newfound dedication in resurrecting this place (she says this all the time, you say), and I have already outlined a schedule of regular, themed posts that I am making my resolution to stick to.
Happy new year to you, and happy new blog (and birthday) to me!