2017 Will Rock (Or: I Finally Wrote a 2016 Recap)

2017, I’ve got a feeling we’re going to get along. I’ve got a spring in my step just thinking about what’s ahead. From more consistent posting to trips to Europe and beyond, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic year.

Before we get to reviewing our #2017goals, though, let’s take a moment to reflect on this past year.

2016: Year in Review

January

Austin, Texas Music New Years Eve

Can’t get enough of the live music in Austin

I rang in 2016 in Austin, Texas with Catwoman and Agent M. We spent New Year’s Day exploring the Lone Star State’s capital, checking out Sixth Street and taking advantage of the free concerts offered throughout the city’s music venues. We shopped along South Congress Avenue, attempted to visit the Cathedral of Junk (sadly, it turned out to be closed at the time), and cried real tears after trying capsaicin at hot sauce shop Tears of Joy. I brought home some of their hot sauce bottles, which Mr. Five O’Clock dumped liberally into his chili every time he ordered it for delivery throughout 2016.

January Bar Highlights: Swan Dive in Austin, TX and Clover Club in Brooklyn, NY

February

Vermont Snowboarding

BEFORE I started snowboarding in Vermont (my first time ever trying it)…

In February, I started taking an American Sign Language class. The 4th grader in me rejoiced–it’s been on my to do list for two decades (proof that it’s never too late to do something!). I also explored various types of meditation at MNDFL in NYC’s West Village. On the travel front, I headed to Boston for a conference for my day job in early February, where I presented on our preliminary findings from our STEM program evaluation. We closed out the month with our second annual girls’ winter weekend in Vermont, complete with wine, games, and me totally failing at snowboarding (a story for another time, to be sure).

February Bar Highlights: Seaborne and Le Boudoir, both in Brooklyn (related post here)

March

Dominican Republic Breathless Punta Cana

At the pool all day, every day in Punta Cana

I missed Red Rose and hadn’t seen her in a while, so I hopped on over to Philadelphia for a weekend with her in early March. She has the uncanny ability to say exactly what I need to hear at the right time. At the end of the month, I took a girls’ trip to the Dominican Republic for a friend’s 30th birthday. It was my first time both seeing the country and staying at an all-inclusive resort (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!). We zip lined across canyons, swam in caves with crystal clear waters, drank mamajuana in the ocean, and lazed about the pool while frantically re-applying sunscreen. Travel is a great way to bond with new friends; I’ve kept in touch with these ladies despite not really knowing some of them before our time in Punta Cana.

March Bar Highlights: Charlie Was A Sinner in Philadelphia, PA (related post here)

April

Montreal - Notre Dame Cathedral - Revised

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

Oh, Montreal. I’m completely in love with you. Your food, your bars, your joie de vivre. Mr. Five O’Clock and I headed north to Montreal for a romantic getaway weekend in mid-April and returned with a shared love of all things French and Canadian. (Or, at the very least, poutine. Because where else can you get this food 24 hours a day?)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that this blog officially launched in April. Mr. Five O’Clock and I celebrated by heading over to Clover Club in Brooklyn and toasting to the future.

April Bar Highlights: Basically everything we went to in Montreal. You can read more about the Montreal bars we visited here.

May

Snake Path, Masada, Israel

Hiking up the Masada’s Snake Path in Israel with Honeymoon Israel participants

After a quick work trip to Boston in early May, we decided I would tag along on Mr. Five O’Clock’s business trip to London. Despite his busy schedule, we still managed to squeeze in time at some of London’s tourist sights, like Big Ben and the Tower of London, and its top bars.

May also turned out to be an incredibly important month for us as a couple, as this was the month that we visited Israel with Honeymoon Israel. I wrote some posts that barely scratch the tip of the iceberg about how this trip affected us (which you can read here and here), and I’m sure we’ll write more. For now, suffice it to say that we found the New York community we had direly needed for so long, as well as a deeper understanding of Israel and how Judaism might fit into our lives as an interfaith couple.

May Bar Highlights: Too many good bars to name, so check out our post on London spots we visited during this month, as well as cocktail bars we hit up in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

June

Wine Tasting - Malibu Wines - Los Angeles

Me (left) and Catwoman (right) on the wine safari at Malibu Wines

The theme for June 2016 might as well be friendship. June saw me reuniting with Catwoman, Red Rose, and Agent M in Los Angeles and San Diego. We went on a wine safari at Malibu Wines, appreciated art at the Broad Museum, and explored San Diego’s craft beer scene. At the end of the month, a group of us girls (including Miss Scarlet and Bourbon Broad) headed up to the Catskills to celebrate a friend’s 35th birthday. We stretched our legs by hiking at Lake Minnewaska State Park, swam in a suspiciously mossy lake, and stuffed ourselves with excellent BBQ.

June Bar Highlights: Culture Brewing Co in San Diego, CA

July

Miles for Melanoma 5K - San Francisco 2016

My team at the Miles for Melanoma 5K finish line in San Francisco. I’m in the center, and Sir Campsalot is to my left.

In July, a group of us girls headed out to Long Island for a full-day wine tour with Sourced Adventures. I tend to visit this region about once every summer on my own, but I wound up discovering wineries during this trip that were new to me, including Raphael and Lenz.

I spent most of July on the road, however, with a weeklong work trip to Providence, Rhode Island and two trips to Boston. A major plus was my fortuitous “blogger blind date” in Boston with Ashley of My Wanderlusty Life, a travel blogger whom I met online through the Travel Blog Success (TBS) community. TBS has been an incredible resource for me over the past year, providing networking opportunities and professional development as a new blogger. I can’t recommend it highly enough for aspiring travel bloggers.

At the end of July, I ran my first ever 5K through Miles for Melanoma in San Francisco. As many of you know, this is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart. Our team of seven raised $2,191 for the Melanoma Research Foundation (!), which will support medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma.

But it wasn’t only that.

Post-race, I discovered that friends and family went in to their dermatologists and got their skin checked for potentially dangerous moles. This is huge. This means that what we’re doing is not just financial, it’s making a tangible impact in raising awareness. Because of this, we’ve been inspired to make this an annual family tradition.

July Bar Highlights: Drink in Boston, MA and The Avery in Providence, RI

August

I traveled little in August, mainly due to work obligations. However, I did manage to escape to Lake George in the Adirondacks for a friend’s 30th birthday. The lake was sparkling, vibrant, larger than I expected, and gorgeous; add in the presence of some Dom Perignon, and we’re talking about a great getaway.

August Bar Highlights: Death and Company in Manhattan

September

Rob Reiner speaks after a screening of "LBJ" at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival

Rob Reiner speaks after a screening of “LBJ” at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival

In September, I quit my day job at my non-profit to explore writing full time. It was terrifying. It was paralyzing. But it was also exhilarating and necessary for growth.

I immediately went straight from the office to a graduate school friend’s wedding in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It was surreal to be surrounded by the beauty of the woods and camping under the night sky. Cut off from all cell phone reception, I had the chance to reflect on my past four years in New York and my work at the non-profit. That weekend, I learned a South African phrase that roughly translates to “A person is a person through other people.” It rang true for me: I am the person I am today because I met and worked with all of those co-workers in my “previous life,” and that won’t be soon forgotten.

September also brought the Toronto International Film Festival, which I attended with Miss Scarlet (see related post here). Though we didn’t score a coveted seat at any screenings of “La La Land,” we did manage to see other buzz worthy films like “Nocturnal Animals” and “LBJ.” We also found that Toronto’s cocktails were more creative than expected!

At the end of the month, I headed to Seattle. I explored the city mostly on my own for 36 hours, but did grab drinks with Marissa of Postcards to Seattle, another wonderful travel blogger I met through TBS. Expect some upcoming posts about this mesmerizing city.

September Bar Highlights: BarChef in Toronto and Canon in Seattle, WA

October

Blue Lagoon Love Love

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

October turned out to be a month of non-stop travel. I began the month in Monterey, California, where I attended the “Cooking for Solutions” gala at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A few days later, Mr. Five O’Clock and I flew over to Iceland, where we were enchanted equally by the country’s landscapes and its history. I also fulfilled a lifelong goal: taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon.

Not even two days after we returned to the States, I drove up to the Catskills for a relaxing retreat with the women from our Honeymoon Israel trip. We hiked, we laughed, and we ate some pretty darn good food, too.

My final expedition of the month was up to New England and Canada. It was my first mother-daughter trip, and I’m pleased to report that we had a great time bonding! We sampled delicious food in Portland, Maine; hiked in Acadia National Park; explored St. John, New Brunswick; and kind of, sort of saw Nova Scotia (a story for another time!).

October Bar Highlights: Kaldi Bar and Apotek in Reykjavik, Iceland (related post here)

November

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

After seeing the musical “Hamilton” for my birthday, I flew out to Big Island of Hawaii the next day to meet up with my brother, Sir Campsalot. Our main goal was to soak in the beauty of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; now is a prime time to go, as Kilauea volcano is actively erupting. Plus, you can see real molten lava flowing into the ocean. It’s one of the few times in my life I sat staring at something for over an hour in silence, captivated by new earth forming in front of us.

Our whole family wound up watching the U.S. presidential election on the island of Kauai. At least I was in one of my favorite places on Earth on that fateful day. We spent the next few days seeing the Garden Isle’s lush scenery (related post from my 2015 trip here).

I began working as a consultant for Honeymoon Israel this month, interviewing prospective candidates for their 2017 New York trips. I’ll be reviewing applications and interviewing applicants in other cities too in 2017. I’m super excited to continue my involvement with this expanding organization; it reminds me of when I worked in the admissions department at WorldTeach while living in Boston.

Finally, we spent Thanksgiving with Mr. Five O’Clock’s family in San Diego, where we also found time to visit some emerging wineries in Escondido.

November Bar Highlights: Kona Brewing Company in Kona, Hawaii and BlackTail in Manhattan

December

By December, I was completely burned out from the intensity of back-to-back travel. The double whammy of a sudden loss and health issues was completely overwhelming. A final, last minute trip to California to see family for the holidays, however, coupled with Mr. Five O’Clock’s general awesomeness and caring disposition, helped to start pulling me back into the swing of things around New Year’s.

December Bar Highlights: August Laura in Brooklyn and Ghost Donkey in Manhattan

2017: Looking at the Year Ahead

Upcoming Travels

As a constant planner, I’m jazzed about what’s lined up for 2017. Here’s what’s in store so far for the first half of the year:

  • Wine tasting in the freezing cold at Canada’s Niagara Icewine Festival in mid-January 2017.
  • Spending our third annual girls’ weekend in Vermont, where I definitely won’t be snowboarding, at the end of March 2017.
  • Tracing my Dutch roots in Amsterdam, plus beer, chocolate, and waffles in Brussels, Bruges, and Luxembourg City with fellow travel blogger Ashley of My Wanderlusty Life in March and April 2017.
  • Interviewing prospective HMI couples in Philadelphia in late April 2017 and Montreal in early May 2017.
  • Discovering the British Isles–England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland–with a quick day in Paris in May 2017. On this trip, I’ll get to see my Irish roots, coming from the maternal side of my family (can you tell that understanding my past will be a theme for this year?).
  • Returning to San Francisco at the end of July 2017 to run my second Miles for Melanoma 5K.

2017 Goals

In the immortal words of Field of Dreams, “If you write it on the Internet, it will come.” Okay, okay, I know I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist. Here are some of my blog-related goals for this year:

  • More consistent blog posts. So this post was meant to be a 2016 end of year recap, but I didn’t get to posting it until the first week of 2017. #BloggingFail. This year, I pledge to stick to a more consistent blogging schedule, with 1-2 posts per week.
  • Improve my photography skills. It’s no secret that Mr. Five O’Clock took over half of our photos in 2016, and he’s a damn good photographer. However, as I begin to travel more and more, I’ll need to bring my photography skills up to par to capture these moments on my own. I got a taste of this during my trip to Seattle, and am excited to continue learning more.
  • Understand what the hell Pinterest is and why it’s so important. And maybe create one for this blog?
  • Develop professionally by attending conferences or workshops. As Anthony Bourdain says, “I’m hungry for more!” This could mean the Women in Travel Summit or TBEX conferences, or applying to BlogHouse 2017.
  • Treat this blog like a start up. A wise friend, Arjun, was telling me recently about how he was working “start up hours” for his new business, and suddenly something clicked. If I want this blog to be successful, then I’ve really got to put in “start up hours” too, especially now.
Non-Blogging Goals
  • Understand what the @#$! cynar, lillet blanc, and session IPAs are. Because there’s a whole world of spirits out there to explore, and I’m not talking about the Casper kind.
  • Get in shape through yoga and hiking. 2016 reinvigorated my interest in these two activities, and I’d like to continue participating in them this year.
  • And get back into la groove. Meaning take a French class. Or German. Or Arabic. Cleopatra reputedly spoke nine languages, and I want to be a passionate polyglot just like her.
New Years Eve 2015 in Texas

Happy New Year from Agent M (left), me (center), and Catwoman (right)!

What are your goals for 2017? Where will you be traveling this year? Sound off in the comments below!

(All opinions are my own, and nearly all links are included for informational purposes only. There is one affiliate link, and I will earn a teeny, tiny percentage of the sale if you purchase through it at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting It’s Five O’Clock Here!)

3 thoughts on “2017 Will Rock (Or: I Finally Wrote a 2016 Recap)

  1. Ashley Smith

    Love love love it all! 2017 is definitely going to be an awesome one–and I’m glad I get to be a part of it! I love that you’re taking sign language classes–how’s that going? I was fluent as a child but let it slip away and I’ve been dying to learn again.
    Can’t wait to keep up with all your posts this year!

    1. Julianne

      Thanks, Ashley! 🙂 Can’t wait for our trip to the Netherlands and Belgium!! I had to stop taking ASL classes in July once things got crazy with my non-profit job, but I do hope to get back into it again in 2017. No way, you were fluent before? I’m intrigued…

      PS: Epcot 2017 for sure!!

  2. Pingback: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: What I've Learned in One Year of Blogging - It's Five O'Clock Here

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