2017 Recap and Looking Forward to 2018

Before January ends I wanted to do a recap of my 2017 and look ahead to a few fun things coming up in 2018! Inspired by Adventurous Kate and This Battered Suitcase who both did some great reflection posts, I put together a list of pretty much EVERYTHING that I did in 2017. It was quite impressive and looking over it all, I could see it was a year of transformation to say the least. There were extreme highs and lows but overall, here I am in 2018 ready to grab this year by the horns.

Without further adieu, here are some of the highlights and challenges of 2017. One of my resolutions for 2018 is to continue posting and writing guides to NYC and beyond so I hope to be here more often. And as always, if there’s anything that you want to see please comment and let me know!

A Year of Personal Change

I’ll start with the personal category as it’s the most exciting: I got married! Yes, earlier this year my husband and I got married with a small ceremony surrounded by our immediate families, followed by a delicious lunch at a restaurant in Westchester.

wedding lunch
The lovely table setting for our wedding lunch.
Wedding cake
Our gluten-free, dairy free, delicious wedding cake from By the Way Bakery.

It was a lovely, stress-free day that we’ll always remember. It was definitely the best day of the year. That weekend we stayed in the city and had a mini Honeymoon – checking out a Coffee & Tea festival in Brooklyn and going to the Orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden. We are planning an international second mini Honeymoon in 2018 – more to come about that later!

Tea festival
A vendor preparing samples at the Coffee and Tea Festival.
Orchid show
Orchids at the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show.

This year I embarked on two challenges: one was the Uber Frugal Month challenge, led by FrugalWoods. During this month, participants were challenged to spend as little as possible – only on necessities and to question those as well. It was very eye opening although I haven’t changed my habits too much as I realize that the things I spend money on really do bring value to my life. If my feelings about this change, I know I can cut back on a few categories (taking Ubers, shopping for clothes or beauty products), while there are others that I will prioritize (buying healthy groceries, travel, medical care).

After completing the Uber Frugal Month, I was ready for more! The second challenge was a No Sugar Month. The Frugal Month helped me prepare as I had eaten through everything in my fridge and pantry so I had a fresh start. This month was actually even more valuable as I saw very real physical results within 30 days. I was less bloated and my skin was clearer. I had continued to eat some of the same foods after the challenge ended but with the winter holidays, I’ve been gorging on baked goods and other treats and definitely want to take a hard look at that. This challenge was extremely hard but absolutely worth it and I recommend it to anyone. My tip to anyone embarking on this challenge is to have a support group! I found my support with Nicole of Paper Caper Crafting and some other friends. We shared recipes, photos of meals, and positive thoughts.

The lowest point of 2017 for me was a medical issue which resulted in me needing to have surgery on my dominant hand. This happened over the summer, with surgery during my No Sugar Month, which made preparing food and just general… life… a challenge. I am thankful every day for the doctors who helped me, my occupational therapist who helped me recover quickly, my husband and family for taking care of me post-surgery, and also for a donor (or maybe donors) who provided a bone/tissue graft. I am also grateful to have a job with medical insurance and have sick leave to use while recovering from surgery and going to myriad appointments. Lesson for all y’all is to always have medical insurance because you NEVER know what will happen in your life.

Something I am proud of this year was how much I was able to read. I love having access to the New York Public Library, and being a member of two different book clubs, which enabled and encouraged me to read a grand total of 31 books. My favorites were “The Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, “Goodbye, Things” by Fumio Sasaki, “Longborne” by Jo Baker, “The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden, and “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan – the movie version of which is coming out this year and I am PUMPED.

A Year of Living it up in NYC

I spent 2017 living in East Harlem, which is an amazing neighborhood to live in with easy access to the east side subways, cross town buses, quick Uber trips, and access to the Metro North train station at 125th Street. Not to mention some cool museums, great eats, and cheap groceries and rent.

Sushi
Sushi in Harlem

My husband and I like to explore different neighborhoods and check out new restaurants (or go to favorite haunts) so this year we checked off a few NYC Bucket list items:

  • A trip downtown to go to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • A day spent on City Island, walking down the main street and eating seafood
  • A Friday night at the Japan Society and checking out their galleries
  • Trekking uptown to Washington Heights/Inwood to go to the Cloisters and eat lunch at La Marina
  • Walking to Randall’s Island and getting hopelessly lost
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty on a cloudy day.

I also took in as much culture as I could throughout the year:

Joyce Kilmer Park
Tulips blooming at Joyce Kilmer Park

I ventured to parks that I’d never been to in other boroughs, the highlights being:

  • Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx, which is gorgeous in the spring with the trees in bloom
  • Besty Head Park in Brooklyn, a neighborhood park with a track, large field, and basketball and handball courts. There is also a pool there that is open in the summer
  • Jacob Riis Beach, all the way out in Queens which took me about 2 hours each way via public transportation
  • Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City, Queens, a beautiful park with incredible views of Manhattan and also a ferry that brings you across the East River to 34th Street

A Year of Exploration

Boca Chica Fish
Fried fish at Boca Chica Beach.
Boca Chica
Relaxing under the palm trees at Boca Chica Beach.

I was fortunate to take two international trips – both to the Dominican Republic. In June, my husband and I went to our friends’ wedding in Punta Cana, and we also spent some time in the capital Santo Domingo. We went back in October for a graduation ceremony and spent more time with friends and family.

We also took a few weekend trips, mostly to visit family in upstate New York, including a day at West Point, another exploring Beacon’s Open Studios, where artists opened up their work spaces to the public, a weekend in Westchester, and a few days up in the Catskills where we checked out some parks and spent a day in Woodstock.

Fort Worth
Fort Worth Stock Yards.

We also traveled out of state to see family in Massachusetts, and visited friends in Dallas, Texas, where we were for New Years. It was nice to spend New Year’s Eve out of New York City, where things can get quite hectic, and relax.

Looking Ahead

This year, I am excited to announce that we will be taking a trip to Mexico City for a week in February. I can’t wait to experience a new country, eat some great food, check out the museums and art, and aimlessly wander around new neighborhoods. So, pretty much what I do in New York – but somewhere else!

Other trips include a week out on the West Coast, a few days in the Adirondacks in New York state, and hopefully there will be other trips.

mapeche
A sugary meal at Momofuku Má Pêche.

On a personal level, I’d like to try to eat less sugar, and hopefully start going back to the gym or taking an exercise class – now that I am completely recovered I have no excuse!

I’d like to read more books than I did last year, and would like to read more international authors’ work. I’ve placed a number of books on hold at the library and am looking forward to digging in. In tandem with all this, I would like to spend less time looking at screens – less time watching movies and scrolling through social media sites.

My other goal is to join some kind of musical ensemble; when in college I was a member of a number of musical groups and I really miss that aspect of my life. It’s currently choir audition season here in NYC so I’m hoping to find some group to sing with within the coming months.

Here’s to a peaceful 2018 with some great things to come!

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