I can hardly believe it's the last week of December. I don't know about you, but I felt like this year was on fast forward, especially since Labor Day. The fall months flew by and then poof! We're almost at New Year's Eve.
You may recall that I had three resolutions from 2016 that I really wanted to carry over into this year as well. They included:
- Spend at least one weeknight at home every week - When I made this resolution in January of 2016 I had no idea how this one change would so dramatically impact my mood. The weeks where I was able to carve out one night to stay in, I found that I felt less stressed, I had more energy and more patience at work. In 2016 I was able to keep to this resolution for 35 out of 52 weeks. This year, I stayed in at least one night per week for 42 out of 52 weeks.
- Use my gift cards - If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that I suffer for this ridiculous first world problem where I have boat loads of gift cards and I can never seem to remember to use them. In 2016 I resolved to swipe as many as I could (free money, right?) and I got rid of 14 of the 28 I had in my purse. In 2017 I hoped to keep this up, lessening the number in my wallet as much as possible. I only spent 10 this year and I can't bare to tell you how many are left and how many more were added. A friend recently posted on Facebook that you can use American Express and Visa gift cards on Amazon. Has anyone had experience doing that? That seems like a great way to put them towards a behavior I'm already in the habit of.
- Attend the Revere Sand Sculpting Festival - I went to the festival in July 2016 and I had the best time. I was committed to making this an annual tradition, but my parents, sister and brother-in-law came to visit on that weekend and there was just too much family stuff on the docket to make it to Revere. In 2018, I'll be back!
Now, onto my report card for 2017.
1. Read a Queen Elizabeth II biography
Status: Complete! After watching the first season of The Crown on Netflix I became obsessed with Queen Elizabeth. I did a ton of research on Goodreads to find the most highly rated biography. After all, who better than a community of bookworms to help make this choice? I wound up ordering Elizabeth by Sarah Bradford.
Despite all my reading of reviews and comments, I somehow missed the fact that this book is 530 pages long. Also, I cannot tell you how impossibly small the font is. I tried to read it and kept putting it down for other books. It read more like a textbook than an engaging story. Plus, all the squinting!
Though it was a long slog to finish, I did learn a lot, much of which I saw play out in season two of The Crown. Fun fact: the Queen's daughter, Princess Anne, used to date Andrew Parker Bowles, who would later marry Camilla!
In case you are wondering, Diana doesn't come onto the scene until around page 430.
With Prince Harry's recent engagement, many people are buzzing about the Queen's opinion on divorce. The book says, "Before Elizabeth's accession, divorcees were not admitted to court functions and (with the notable exception of Peter Townsend) were excluded from the upper echelons of the royal household. Since 1955 divorcees are no longer prohibited from entering the (enlarged) Royal Ascot Enclosure - undischarged bankruptcy or a criminal record being the only grounds for exclusion. Forty years ago even old friends of Elizabeth's who might have breached the no-divorce rule, even innocently, would not have expected to be invited to the Palace; it has been many years since that particular taboo operated. Elizabeth understands but she has an inherited gut feeling that divorce is both sad and wrong, which makes the failure of her children's marriages all the more tragically ironic."
See, reads like a textbook.
If you're looking for a great book to read, my favorite thing I read all year was Doree Shafrir's Startup.
2. See a movie in the theater once a month
Status: Stellar performance. I love going to the movies. There is something so special about being in an auditorium with a group of people who are all about to experience something totally new for the first time. This year I set out to see one movie in the theater each month. I knew this would be tough to stick to in the summer because when it's beautiful outside, sitting indoors is not exactly high on the agenda. I gave myself a little wiggle room and said outdoor movies would count too. Here's where I ended up:
- January - Hidden Figures
- February - Moonlight and Fifty Shades Darker
- March - Beauty and the Beast
- April - Fail
- May - Fail
- June - Beatriz at Dinner
- July - The Big Sick
- August - Fail
- September - Home Again
- October - Fail
- November - Lady Bird
- December - The Shape of Water, I, Tonya and Molly's Game (review to come!)
Though I didn't make it to one per month, I did see 11 movies on the big screen. Pretty close!
3. Up my breakfast game
Status: Game on! In January I made a short list of places I wanted to visit for breakfast. I feel like I've got brunch on lock, but there are a ton of great places that do early morning breakfast that I hadn't yet visited. I resolved to try and hit Linda's Donuts, Praline, Whole Heart Provisions, Kirkland Tap and Trotter and Koko Bakery, and to revisit two of my old favorites - Bagelsaurus and The Breakfast Club.
I did indeed make it to Linda's Donuts (several times), Whole Heart Provisions, Koko Bakery, Bagelsaurus and The Breakfast Club. Below are a few of my favorite shots from those meals.
Unfortunately, I never got to Praline (which is shameful since it's two blocks from my house) and Kirkland Tap and Trotter.
Who wants to get Sunday breakfast with me at Kirkland Tap and Trotter in 2018? I must experience it!
4. Spend an afternoon at Eataly Boston
Status: Molto bene! I loved Eataly in New York when I visited in August 2011. When I found out a location was opening in Boston, I flipped! It took me quite some time to get there, but in November, I finally went.
I wrote all about the experience and what you should know for your first visit in this post. Let's take a walk down memory lane.
After my first trip, I went back the very next week for gelato. It's a good thing I don't live closer or I would be there all the time! And I'd weigh 400 pounds.
5. Explore the Boston Public Market
Status: Officially obsessed. On a weeknight in June I met a friend after work to explore the Boston Public Market and it's one of my favorite memories from the entire year. It's just amazing to see so many local business owners, growers, farmers, cheesemongers and winemakers under one roof and supporting each other.
A few of snaps from that delicious outing:
Read all about our tour in the recap post. If I still worked downtown, the Boston Public Market would be my go-to for lunch and for hostess gifts.
6. Attend the Hull Harbor Illumination
Status: Plans foiled. For the last several years, I have wanted to attend the Hull Harbor Illumination. My dad grew up in Hull and our family still stays in his childhood home on weekends to enjoy Nantasket Beach. Though I go often, the last few years I always been of town the weekend of the event.
This year, I made this formal resolution, I put the date on my calendar and I couldn't wait to finally experience it. Well, the universe had other plans. That morning I woke up to discover Scout had a terribly upset stomach. There was just no way I could go.
I took him to the vet, came home, called my mom and cried. Of course there will be other Illuminations (it happens every year!) but I had so been looking forward to it and the plan was completely derailed by something out of my control. I am optimistic that 2018 will be the year I get to see it.
7. Take more New England road trips
Status: Mission accomplished! At the start of this year I was very excited about how many open weekends I seemed to have, especially in the summer. For the last seven or so years, I've spent most summers (and fall too) going to bridal showers, bachelorette parties and weddings. At long last, that's starting to slow down.
In July I went to Camden, Maine with my parents, sister and brother-in-law. I had never been further north than Bath, Maine, so it was fun to keep driving up the coast. On that trip we cooked most of our meals at our rental house, but we did have lunch at Camden Deli which has a gorgeous roof deck overlooking the harbor.
In August I returned to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, one of my favorite places in all of New England. We had brunch at Street and then shopped for hours. We hit all my go-to spots: Stonewall Kitchen, Kilwins, Attrezzi, Le Roux, Pickwick's Mercantile (and the new Lady Pickwick's), Gus & Ruby Letterpress, Moonshine, Off Piste and Nahcotta. I have many more Portsmouth restaurants on my list, including Oar House, Cava and Black Trumpet. Looking forward to heading up there again in the new year.
Over Labor Day weekend I went to Martha's Vineyard for the first time since middle school. I wish I had the words to explain how magical it was.
In case you missed it, here are all the posts from that amazing long weekend:
- Explore: Flying Horses Carousel
- Explore: Gingerbread Houses
- Dining Out: Black Dog Tavern
- Explore: Edgartown Lighthouse
- Explore: Aquinnah Lighthouse
- Dining Out: Chesca's
I am hoping to make the Martha's Vineyard trip an annual tradition.
Last month I returned to one of my favorite New England towns, Mystic, Connecticut. Mystic has become a really special place for me over the past three years. I celebrated my 30th birthday there, as well as two weddings of very close friends. On this year's trip we had brunch at The Engine Room, shared a bottle of wine at Saltwater Farm, indulged in sweets at Sift Bake Shop and gorged on a pie from Mystic Pizza.
This year I had also hoped to make it back to Hadley, MA for brunch at Esselon Cafe and to visit my friends at the Mill Valley Milk Company. I was also trying to get back to Newport, RI to sit on the back lawn at Castle Hill Inn. And I've been craving the food from Figidini in Providence, RI ever since my first visit. Lots of places to road trip to in 2018!
8. See the Backstreet Boys concert in Las Vegas
Status: Backstreet's Back. In March I flew to Las Vegas to meet up with one of my best friends for a weekend of sun, fun and the BSB concert. Even though 2017 raced by, this trip feels like it was two years ago!
We stayed at Aria (which I highly recommend) and had some epic meals, including Bardot Brasserie at Aria, Herringbone at Aria, Eggslut at The Cosmopolitan, China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan, Olives at Bellagio and Mon Ami Gabi at Paris.
The concert itself was incredible. They sang all the hits and even did the original choreography from the music videos! We were in heaven.
I saw on Instagram this week that DryBar is opening a location at the Cosmopolitan and I wish it had been there when we visited in March. You better believe I'm working in a visit to the glam squad on my next trip to Vegas.
9. Make my house smarter
Status: 4K Smarter. I had two goals for 2017 that involved upgrades to my home. The first was to make my house "smarter" by switching to a smart TV and the second was to install the Nest learning thermostat. In March I successfully swapped out my old television (which I had since 2008) and set up a Samsung 4K HD smart TV. Since my previous TV didn't have HD at all, this was a dramatic improvement! Every night when I would come home and turn it on, I felt like I was in a movie theater. It's embarrassing how much joy it brings me.
Converting to the Nest has not been as seamless as the TV. My friend's husband has been an absolute champ in trying to make this happen. He went with me to pick out the Nest product I wanted, tried to install it himself (which he had done in their home) and even spent a half hour on the phone with customer service trying to get it going. He's been over the house twice more to attempt to solve the issue, but we need a professional. I stink at what my family calls "life errands" so of course I haven't scheduled anyone to come to the house to finalize the installation. This one comes down to laziness (on my part).
10. Organize my hostess / party supplies
Status: Purged, but not pretty. My second home-related resolution was to organize my hostess and entertaining supplies, which take up more than half of my kitchen cabinets and the entire pantry. I began by going through every single kitchen cabinet and drawer to purge anything I didn't need, didn't like or couldn't see myself using. I passed on some things to friends and donated a bunch of dishes and serving pieces to Goodwill.
With just my favorite things remaining, it was time to reorganize. I even created a Pinterest board with organization ideas. I did successfully rearrange things, in some cases by occasion (Valentine's Day, July 4th, Halloween) and in some case by how often I use something (once a year, every weekend, etc.). However, I didn't get everything beautified the way I wanted. These photos from The Home Edit are my inspiration. Marking this one as completed since the organizing definitely occurred, but I'm planning to take it up a notch in the new year!
11. Create a "Treats of Boston" holiday gift guide
Status: Published! Two years ago, a reader left a comment on one of my blog posts, suggesting I should share a "treats of Boston" gift guide that would be geared towards people who used to live in Boston and miss all of their favorite dishes, snacks and desserts. I thought it was brilliant, but failed to gather all the necessary information in time to publish it in 2016.
This year I was thrilled to finally create the guide, sharing details on how to get everything from Legal Seafood clam chowder to Flour Bakery sticky buns to Mike's Pastry cannolis delivered right to your door.
If case you missed it, here's the gift guide.
12. Send a Scout holiday card
Status: Signed, sealed, delivered. I met Scout in June 2015 and that year (as well as last year) many people kept asking me if I was going to send a Scout holiday card. I'd never designed or sent a photo card in my life, so this was completely uncharted territory. When I resolved to send one back in January, I knew I had the whole year to take great photos of him and choose some favorites.
In late October I started stressing about the card. Which photos to include? What design? Glossy or matte? In the end, I decided to take advantage of a killer 40% off code from Tiny Prints for Black Friday. The two photos I wanted to use were both vertical, so I started searching by vertical-only designs. I didn't want the card to say anything about Christmas, so that narrowed down the possibilities significantly.
After about 45 minutes of searching and scrolling, I landed on a Happy New Year design. Since the template was mostly gold, I also added a gold liner to the envelopes. Here is the finished product:
I must admit, I was pretty disappointed. On the website, the template for the card looked metallic, bordering on sparkly. When it arrived, it was totally matte, no shimmer at all. I also felt like the font that says "Molly & Scout" on the front was so much lighter than it looked in the proof. You can barely see our names. I was also a bit bummed that the gold envelope liners came in a separate pouch and I had to insert and stick them all myself. Maybe all you holiday card veterans know that's how the pieces arrive, but I was definitely expecting the envelopes to be assembled.
If I decide to do one next year, I definitely learned a ton!
Now for the year-end, final tally. Drumroll, please . . .
11 resolutions complete
#1 Read a Queen Elizabeth II biography
#2 See a movie in the theater once a month
#3 Up my breakfast game
#4 Spend an afternoon at Eataly Boston
#5 Explore the Boston Public Market
#7 Take more New England road trips
#8 See the Backstreet Boys concert in Las Vegas
#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
1 resolution left on the table
#6 Attend the Hull Harbor Illumination
With 11 out of 12 resolutions completed, I must say, I feel pretty great! This was a challenging year in a lot of ways and tackling these resolutions was a wonderful distraction.
Thank you to all those who followed along or offered to join for activities and meals. Having adventure buddies makes this stuff even more fun.
If you are wondering if I will share a new list of resolutions in 2018, the answer is yes. I'm still noodling on the final list, but I will publish it in January.
Thank you for reading. Happy New Year!