Though it feels like I just shared my 2017 New Year's resolutions a few weeks ago, we are already in April! I am very excited to update you on all of the progress I have made towards this year's goals.
You may remember that there were a few resolutions from my 2016 list that I wanted to carry over into this year:
- Spend at least one weeknight at home every week - After 12 months of committing to this, I realized how recharged and refreshed I felt after one quiet night at home each week. In 2016 I was able to keep to this resolution for 35 of the 52 weeks of the year. So far this year, I have a perfect track record - 14 weeks straight!
- Use my gift cards - Since graduating college I have struggled to use the many gift cards I've received for birthdays, holidays, work rewards, etc. I know it seems like such a bratty "problem" but I realized I was sitting on free money and rather than drain my bank account, I should get smart about using these cards. Last year I used 14 cards (out of 28). So far in 2017 I have used eight cards, including one to Sportello that my cousins gave me for my birthday five years ago!
- Attend the Revere Sand Sculpting Festival - Last year I attended the festival for the first time (read all about it here) and had a blast. This year's dates have just been released. Mark your calendars for July 21 - 23, 2017!
Now, onto the updates to this year's list!
1. Read a Queen Elizabeth II biography
Status: 100 pages in. After watching The Crown on Netflix last year I became fascinated with Queen Elizabeth. She is the longest reigning British monarch and in February 2017 she became the first to celebrate a sapphire jubilee, 65 years on the throne.
I did extensive research on Queen Elizabeth biographies and settled on Elizabeth by Sarah Bradford. It was the highest rated on Goodreads, a community I trust. Somehow, between reading the Goodreads overview and the product description on Amazon, I missed that this book is 530 pages and the font is teeny tiny. I may be reading this for the rest of 2017.
I am about 100 pages in and planning to take the book on my trip to Miami, FL this weekend. Between the two plane rides and some pool lounging, I hope to make a serious dent.
2. See a movie in the theater once a month
Status: Big screen success. I love going to the movie theater. There is something about seeing a new story, for the first time, in a group of people who are also as excited as you are, that is exhilarating to me. Here are the films I have seen so far:
This month I hope to see the Chris Evans movie Gifted.
3. Up my breakfast game
Status: Simmering. In January I shared a list of five breakfasts places I was itching to try - Linda's Donuts, Praline, Whole Heart Provisions, Kirkland Tap and Trotter and Koko Bakery. So far, I have successfully explored the entire bakery case at Koko Bakery (drool over that here).
I have become obsessed with their baked chocolate donuts. I have already been back for more!
I did try, with a friend, to go to Linda's Donuts but they were unexpectedly closed an hour early.
I am looking for breakfast buddies, so if one of these places appeals to you, give me a shout!
4. Spend an afternoon at Eataly Boston
Status: Emerging from winter hibernation. With all of the crappy weather lately I've been pretty unmotivated to deviate off of my usual route (Watertown to Cambridge and back). That being said, with the arrival of warmer weather (please let there be an arrival of warmer weather) I am determined to set a date for this exploration of food! Naturally, I will wear elastic waist pants.
I am still dreaming of this cacio e pepe from Eataly New York.
5. Explore the Boston Public Market
Status: Volunteers at the ready. Two friends have piped up to join me on my first trip to the Boston Public Market, so now we just need to pick a date!
There are a few events in April that looked especially cool:
- Saturday, April 15 at 2pm - Easter egg truffle making with Taza Chocolate
- Saturday, April 22 at 12pm - Hopsters craft beer tasting
- Saturday, April 29 at 4pm - Buddha bowls and food photography with Instagrammer and nutritionist Cara Scinto
6. Attend the Hull Harbor Illumination
Status: Calendar marked! My dad grew up in Hull, MA the seaside town that is home to Nantasket Beach. I have spent every summer on that sand.
Each year the Hull Lifesaving Museum hosts an event called the Hull Harbor Illumination. I have never been, but this is the year! I am determined to experience it.
This summer's event is on July 29, 2017. I am counting down!
7. Take more New England road trips
Status: In planning mode. Much like my Eataly and Boston Public Market resolutions, this one has been tabled until the weather improves. That being said, with 75 degree temps predicted for Boston next week, I am starting to get excited.
There are four New England towns I have set my sights on:
- Portsmouth, NH - I have been to Portsmouth a handful of times and I love it. It has that classic New England feel - brick-paved sidewalks, boats in the water and the smell of sea salt in the air. I have been craving brunch at Street since I last went in 2013. I'd also like to try Cava, a tapas restaurant. And no trip to Portsmouth is complete without a little treasure hunting at 2nd Time Around (their best location, in my opinion) and Gus & Ruby Letterpress.
- Newport, RI - I went to Newport last summer for a bachelorette party and swooned over the Castle Hill Inn. Those white Adirondack chairs on the lawn are calling to me! We also went on a sunset cruise (champagne included) and I wouldn't mind doing that again.
- Hadley, MA - I am such a fan of #OthersideMA (a.k.a. Western Mass.). Since my last visit in February 2016 I have been lusting for the ice mocha at Esselon and the charm of the Maple Valley Milk Company's farm store. I have friends that live one town over and a cousin at UMass Amherst, so once the weather improves, I will rally them to join me for more exploring.
- Mystic, CT - In 2016 I went to Mystic five times for various wedding-related events and I became such a fan. The drive from Boston is easy peasy and the waterfront town is adorable. I plan to put my eating pants on and revisit Sift Bake Shop, Engine Room, Oyster Club and M Bar. Perhaps Saltwater Farm Vineyard too. #yeswayrosé
If you have recommendations for activities, tours or restaurants in these towns, please let me know.
8. See the Backstreet Boys concert in Las Vegas
Status: Complete! As you may recall, when I first shared this resolution in January, I had already purchased my flight, hotel and ticket for the concert in Las Vegas, along with a BFF. In January, the first week of March still felt painfully far away.
When the date finally arrived and I boarded my plane at JFK, over 10 women at the gate were wearing Backstreet Boys concert t-shirts. That was my first sign this was going to be an epic weekend.
On our first morning in Vegas we spotted the promotional billboards for the concert and our excitement reached a new level.
The night of the show we got all dolled up and headed to China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan for a little nosh and a few drinks. Thank you to the kind stranger who snapped our photo!
The show was at the Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood. I had been there once before for the Britney Spears concert. In this theater, no seat is a bad seat. This photo was taken from our seats, on my phone, with zero zoom.
When a video package began to roll with a mash up of past Backstreet Boys music videos and concerts, the women in the theater started screaming. I am talking, Justin Bieber fan level of screams. A few minutes later, the Boys emerged and it was pandemonium.
They did all of the major hits (including some of the original music video choreography) and the entire audience was singing along to every single word. For the encore at the very end they did "Backstreet's Back" and the place erupted!
I have to say, throughout the night, each member of the group kept expressing how grateful he was to the fans for sticking with them for all these years and how having a residency in Las Vegas is not something they ever though they could achieve. It was really touching and made us feel extra good about our choice to fly out for the show.
The residency continues for select dates in April and June. If you are thinking about going, do it! You will be so happy you did. Your middle school self will be overjoyed.
9. Make my house smarter
Status: Slightly smarter. At the start of this year I was really committed to making two smart home improvements - upgrading to a smart TV (so I could watch cable, Netflix and Amazon) and exploring The Nest, a learning thermostat. Two weeks ago my bestie's husband came over to help me think about my options. He had already made both of those upgrades in their home, so I was confident he would steer me in the right direction.
On a Sunday afternoon we picked up both the new TV and The Nest. We swapped out my old TV (which, for the record, I have had since 2008) and within minutes it was hooked up and I was logging into my Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts. I have been watching all those streaming services on my 13 inch laptop screen, so this is a dramatic improvement.
I have never had an HD TV before, so let me tell you, it is a whole new world over at my house. The picture is so clear! I cannot wait for awards season on this television.
When we attempted to install The Nest, the setup was not as simple. We wound up having to explore the FAQ section of their website and speak to someone from their customer service team over the phone. It was determined that the wiring in my house doesn't send a strong enough electrical current to the thermostat to power The Nest. A total bummer.
The next step is to have a Nest specialist to come to my place to investigate. I will keep you posted, of course.
10. Organize my hostess / party supplies
Status: Purging before organizing. Of all the resolutions I have made this year, this one intimidates me the most. The cupboards in my kitchen, where I keep all my entertaining supplies, are a hot mess. The situation is so bad that the supplies have started to seep out of the cabinets and onto counters, into closets and under tables.
To tackle this, I knew I had to do it in phases. I have spent the first three months of this year purging. I have gone room by room, cabinet by cabinet and drawer by drawer to get rid of anything I don't like, don't use or just plain forgot I had.
I have been sorting things into three categories - trash, donate and yard sale. Each year the town of Watertown has an enormous, community-wide yard sale. I have made several purchases over the years, but never sold my own stuff. This year I plan to set up tables and send these things off to as many new homes as I can.
Once I start truly organizing, I will share before and after photos.
11. Create a "Treats of Boston" holiday gift guide
Status: Taking requests! Two years ago a reader requested that one of my holiday gift guides be a list of quintessential Boston food items that can be shipped out of state. I absolutely loved that idea and I am excited to execute it this holiday season.
I've already started researching and have a few ideas for treats I would want if I ever moved away - Mike's Pastry, Flour Bakery, Taza Chocolate. For all the readers out there who once lived in Beantown, what places would you like to know about?
12. Send a Scout holiday card
Status: Snapping away. Every December since I have adopted Scout people ask me if I am going to send a photo card of him for the holidays. Two years in a row I have been way behind on this, usually thinking about it around December 10th. This year I am committed!
A friend shot this photo of Scout at my Hanukkah party last year and it definitely seems like the front runner right now.
During a February snowstorm I snapped this photo of him which received a few comments on Facebook like "Holiday card = done!" and "There's your holiday card!"
This one seemed pretty popular too (though I think he looks a bit too focused in this one).
I am going to keep favorite-ing the best photos on my iPhone and come November I will get ready to design and order!
And there you have it. 14 weeks into 2017, here is the current tally:
1 resolution complete
#8 See the Backstreet Boys concert in Las Vegas
7 resolutions in progress
#1 Read a Queen Elizabeth II biography
#2 See a movie in the theater once a month
#3 Up my breakfast game
#9 Make my house smarter
#10 Organize my hostess / party supplies
#11 Create a "Treats of Boston" holiday gift guide
#12 Send a Scout holiday card
4 resolutions still to be tackled
#4 Spend an afternoon at Eataly Boston
#5 Explore the Boston Public Market
#6 Attend the Hull Harbor Illumination
#7 Take more New England road trips
If you would like to join me for any of these upcoming adventures, leave a comment below!