We have arrived to the greatest month of the year, September! Not only because it's my birthday month (ok, mostly because it's my birthday month) but because September marks a time for new beginnings. While it's associated with back-to-school season for most, it's also usually the month of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Between Rosh Hashana and my birthday, September always puts me in a reflective mood. Given that, there is no better time to share with you my progress towards my 2016 resolutions.
I last updated you in April (you can read that checkup here). At that time I had five resolutions complete and five left to tackle - dead even. I'm proud to report that since then I've checked a few major items off the list!
1. Spend at least one weeknight at home every week
Status: Valiant effort. When I shared my April update, I had managed to keep this resolution for 13 of the first 16 weeks of the year. As someone who typically goes out six or seven nights per week, I was really proud of myself for committing to this.
Since that update in April, 19 weeks have passed. I have successfully kept to this goal for 13 of those 19 weeks. I was in a really good groove in May and I even had one week where I stayed home three nights in a row!
The weeks that I did fail, I failed again and again. I had one stretch where I failed three weeks in a row and another where I failed two weeks back-to-back.
If I had to pin point a reason for the difficulty keeping the resolution, I would have to say it's the weather. I know that sounds like a crazy excuse, but let me explain. In the winter, when it was cold and bitter, I always looked forward to going straight home after work, putting on cozy clothes and settling in for the night. But once the weather got sunny and warm when a friend would text and ask "Want to have dinner on a patio tonight?" or "Want to walk around the reservoir and then get ice cream?" I found it very hard to resist. There are so many fun outdoor festivals, concerts and movies in the summertime too, all tempting me away from my resolution!
My tally for the year so far is 26 weeks with at least one night at home (out of 35 weeks). For someone who used to go out nearly every night, I am really proud of that.
In trying to change this behavior I've also learned a lot about myself. I've discovered that during the weeks where I stay home at least one night I feel more rested and I have much more patience at work. It also gives me at least one night to focus on the blog, instead of trying to write posts at 10:00pm. My favorite night to stay home is Monday. Partially because it lets me watch "The Bachelor" live and actively participate in the group text with my co-workers, but also because it's a really nice way to ease into the week.
2. See a financial planner
Status: Epic fail. One of my clients at work is a financial literacy program which is what inspired this resolution in the first place. Embarrassingly, I have made zero progress. A few friends have recommended their planners to me, I just have to act on it.
3. Use my gift cards
Status: Slowing down. In January I admitted to you my gift card problem; that I was walking around with 28 gift cards in my purse, some of them residing in that bag for years. In the first four months of 2016 I spent six of the cards. I was really starting to plan activities and meals around using these bad boys. Then, much like with resolution #1, the weather got nice and I stopped shopping as much. Who wants to be in a mall or department store when you could be outside?
That being said, I was able to spend four of the gift cards.
PF Changs - A few years ago my grandmother sent me a PF Changs gift card for Hanukkah. I finally used it in July to take a co-worker out for a send off lunch before his month-long sabbatical.
Sephora - Another gift from my grandmother, I used the Sephora card to replenish my favorite eye shadow, Smog by Urban Decay.
Dunkin' Donuts - I used two of my Dunkin' cards on recent road trips. I have been driving a ton this summer and getting a nice cold drink for free always makes the ride more pleasant.
4. Visit Chicago
Status: Smashing success! In June I made my first ever trip to Chicago and it was a blast. My friend Erica hosted me for the weekend and she was an incredible tour guide. She picked oh-so-Molly things for us to do each and every day, and made it possible for us to hit all the things on my wish list.
We began the trip with brunch at Summer House Santa Monica in Lincoln Park. I am absolutely stealing their rosé cart idea.
From brunch we took the train to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. We sat in the bleachers amongst the rowdiest fans.
On our way back from Wrigley we stopped into Doc B's Fresh Kitchen for a quick bite. If this place was in Boston I would be their most frequent customer.
That night we dined at Bill and Giuliana Rancic's restaurant, RPM Italian. It more than lived up to the hype.
On day two we brunched at Hampton Social, the most Instagram-able restaurant in Chicago.
Brunch was followed by a walk down Michigan Avenue to the Wendella Boats Architecture Tour. My dad (an architect) insisted we do this and I'm so glad we did. It is hands down the best way to see the city.
During the boat tour I spotted some waterfront bars and restaurants I want to check out on my next visit.
Post-boat we headed to the Bean.
After selfies galore, we enjoyed rooftop drinks at Cindy's.
That evening we headed to the West Loop for the Taste of Randolph Street Festival where I found an amazing vintage cocktail ring. We went from the street fair straight to dinner at Little Goat Diner, owned by the first female winner of Top Chef, Stephanie Izard.
Little Goat is known for their milkshakes, so of course we had one.
On our final morning together we tried a place across the street from Erica's apartment, Troquet at the Hotel Felix. We were able to sit on the outdoor patio and bring her adorable pup, Hudson. There may have also been bottomless mimosas. It was the perfect way to end the trip.
All throughout our weekend together we would pass a place and say, "Let's add this to our list for next time." I cannot wait to go back to Chicago and explore more. If you have a favorite place or activity in the Windy City, please comment down below!
5. Charter a boat
Status: On dry land. When I shared my list of resolutions in January I was really excited about this one. I have wanted to charter a boat with the Karma Crew since my first time aboard their vessel.
Back in January, summer felt so far away and like I would have plenty of time to plan. Now that we've reached September, the boat will only be in the water for a few more weeks. If it's possible to still book a date with them, I will, but I'm feeling less than optimistic about the likelihood of pulling this one off.
6. Dine at the Giulia Pasta Table
Status: Happening next week! When I first shared this resolution in January I already had an inkling I would reserve the Giulia Pasta Table for my birthday this year. I reached out to the manager in June to find out all the necessary details and I learned that you can only make a reservation two months in advance. It requires a deposit, and then the week before the meal you check in with the manager and chef to share any food restrictions or allergies.
I will be dining there on a Saturday night and I cannot wait! My parents and sister are flying up from Miami and we will be joined by a group of my closest friends. The table seats 12 and we will have a butt in every seat!
The reservation includes a five course meal (you can also opt for seven courses, but my stomach hurts just thinking about that). You can choose to add wine pairings, or you can order drinks a la carte when you dine. I will absolutely be photographing the meal and I can't wait to share it with you!
7. Take a cooking class at Sofra
Status: Unlikely. One of the greatest things about sharing my annual list of resolutions is that I learn things about myself year after year. In 2015 I resolved to take a cooking class at BCAE and I never did. Initially I thought it was because BCAE is downtown in a neighborhood I hardly ever get to. Well, this year I resolved to take a cooking class at Sofra which is less than one mile from my front door and I still haven't done it. Lesson? Apparently I'm not that interested in cooking classes.
I did check the Sofra class calendar in anticipation of writing this post. There are six classes left this year, three of them promoting Sofra's cookbook. Because chef / owner Ana Sortun will be present, those tickets are $135 per person, which feels steep.
The one class I would really like to go to, Edible Gifts on December 5th, is taking place during my annual work trip to San Francisco.
8. Explore the Boston Public Library
Status: Not yet, but planning on it. Though I haven't yet made my first ever visit to the Boston Public Library, I absolutely plan to.
This could be a really fun fall activity or even winter once the temperatures dip and I need a break from the chilly air. The library offers guided tours all seven days of the week.
I've heard their restaurant is fantastic, so naturally I'll need to dine there too.
9. Attend the Revere Sand Sculpting Festival
Status: Complete! This was one of the most fun days I've had all summer. On a Friday afternoon my co-worker and I hopped in my car and zipped up Route 1 to Revere. We had no idea what to expect from the festival, but we were completely blown away (revisit my full recap here). The artists were so talented and the work was truly impressive.
In addition to the sculptures, the boardwalk was lined with food trucks and carnival rides. Naturally we had to have ice cream sandwiches at the Frozen Hoagies truck.
It was incredibly easy to get to Revere and it only cost $5 dollars to park in the MBTA parking garage at the Wonderland stop. The festival runs Friday - Sunday each summer (the date is usually announced 3-4 months in advance). I am absolutely planning to make this an annual tradition!
10. Put my brilliant readers' ideas into action
Status: Ongoing with glee! On January 4, 2016 Pop.Bop.Shop. celebrated its 7th birthday. At the close of that anniversary post I asked you, my amazing readers, to tell me what you would like to see on the site this year. When I was putting together my list of 2016 resolutions, it seemed only right to make a firm resolution to incorporate these reader ideas into the Pop.Bop.Shop. editorial calendar.
In the first four months of the year I wrote three posts inspired by reader ideas - a book review, a list of of restaurants offering snow storm specials and Pop.Bop.Shop.'s first ever Mother's Day gift guide.
Since April, I've added many more reader-recommended posts to the list, including:
I have several other reader suggestions in the works including definitive guides to the city's best ice cream, ramen and hot chocolate. I am also headed up to Portland, ME in two weeks (finally!) so will be sharing the best of my discoveries from that trip.
One of the reader ideas I loved the most and I hope to incorporate into my 2016 holiday gift guide series was a list of signature Boston food items that can be shipped out of state.
If there are other things you'd like to see on Pop.Bop.Shop., please comment below!
And there you have it! As we enter the ninth (and best) month of the year I have six resolutions completed or in progress and four left to conquer (see a financial planner, charter a boat, take a cooking class at Sofra and visit the Boston Public Library).
In December I will share one final update.
Tell me, how are you doing with your resolutions? Cross anything big off the list?