Second-Hand Steal or Killer Knockoff

 

The Big Island Adventure

My first trip to the Big Island was everything I expected and more. After this winter in Portland, I was desperately in need of a warm, relaxing tropical getaway. So when my parents mentioned that they were going to Hawaii and asked if I wanted to join, I could not say no.

Some of you may think it’s odd that a 25-year-old went on a vacation with her parents, but you’d be wrong. I feel very fortunate that I was able to spend that time with them – our week on the spectacular island of Hawaii was beyond memorable.

A few quick fun facts about the Big Island of Hawaii:

  • People often confuse the island of Oahu with the Big Island of Hawaii, because Oahu is the most popular & touristy of the islands (Honolulu is on Oahu).
  • You can fit all other six Hawaiian islands into the area of the Big Island.
  • Hawaiian language has only 12 letters, so it’s very hard to remember street names because they all look the same… it’s also quite hard to pronounce names of towns or parks. We struggled with this
  • The island has 10 of the 13 climate zones in the world, which is fascinating. There’s even snow (crazy, right?) on the summit of Manua Kea!
  • Most all species of animals (excluding birds) that live on the island are considered invasive species. And weirdly, there are lots of feral cats that call the island home.
  • You can drive around the entire island in one day, but you wouldn’t leave much time to stop and enjoy anything. But it’s definitely doable, would take about 6 hours.

Now, if you’re not interested in reading all of the trip details (because it’s quite long and the photos are the best part), here’s a quick recap of our week including my favorite places we visited, best restaurants, secrets, etc. But read the extended version below for all the details!

Kona Side:

Best Restaurants: Splasher’s Grill, Bongo Ben’s, Chill’n On The Bay (great for drinks), Fish Hopper

Best Luau: King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, $100/person

Best Beach/Hidden Gem: Makalawena Beach in Kekaha Kai State Park (stunning beach, bluest of water, fairly uncrowded, plus we spotted both a Hawaiian monk seal & a sea turtle here)

Best Shaved Ice: Anuenue Ice Cream & Shaved Ice (really far north, but great place to stop if you’re in the area)

Best Boujie Resort Area: Waikoloa Village – golfing, restaurants, beaches, fancy hotels, shopping center, etc.

Hilo Side:

Best Restaurants: Pineapples, Coconut Grill (old fashioned, but great food), Ponds, Miyo’s Japanese, Hilo Ono Kine (great lunch spot, amazing acai bowls)

Best Smoothie: What’s Shakin’ (near the Botanical Gardens)

Best Places to Explore: Pe’epe’e Falls, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, Akaka Falls (tallest falls in Hawaii), Volcanoes National Park

Best Beach: There aren’t many on the Hilo side, but Reed’s Bay Beach Park is sandy and a great spot to BBQ

 

Sunday Eve: We landed in Kona on the evening of Sunday April 23rd. We picked up our rental car and drove 10 minutes south of Kona to Keauhou to our incredible Airbnb right on the ocean. Except for the giant cockroach that greeted us on the doorknob, we couldn’t believe how gorgeous the accommodations were…. Seriously, AirBnb is so much better than hotels. Here’s where we stayed in Kona: Kona AirBNB

 

Monday: We spent our first day wandering around Kailua-Kona, hopping from beach to beach, basking in the perfect 82-degree weather. The Kona side of the island is known for it’s manicured beaches, sea turtle sightings, famous coffee, and is the hub of tourism for the big island. That being said, the town is quite small with only about 13,000 inhabitants (compare that to over 400,000 in Honolulu).

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Our evening was spent at Kohanaiki Beach, were I climbed mini-trees, hunted unsuccessfully for sea turtles and did some yoga with my mom while my dad obsessed over the best place to photograph sunset (a large portion of this vacation was spent watching my dad do what he does best – landscape photography. He’s incredibly talented, you can check out his website here.) Kohanaiki seemed to be a favorite amongst the locals and didn’t attract many tourists, probably because the beach is covered with sharp rocks and coral over soft sand. But it was a spectacular place to watch the sunset. As dusk approached we headed back into Kona for dinner & drinks at Splasher’s Bar & Grill, where we “cheers”sed to our fabulous first day in paradise.

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Tuesday: My morning was spent enjoying a fresh acai bowl by the oceanside pool of our airbnb complex. Can you think of a more perfect morning? Today, my folks and I ventured south to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, a sacred national historic park that was once the home of royal grounds and a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers. I tend to wander a lot while on vacation, so I strayed from my folks for a bit and found a perfectly private untouched beach just beyond the park where I sat under a picture-esque palm tree and enjoyed a few moments of solitude. I later found my parents again so I could bring them to my secret hideout.

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By mid-afternoon we made our way back to our AirBnb so my mom and I could change and get ready for a very touristy but much-anticipated Luau! Early evening, Dad dropped us ladies off at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel (he decided to sit this one out, not his thing), where we were greeted by our luau host and escorted to a beautiful oceanfront patio. Before the meal was served, the crew performed the ceremonial arrival of the Royal Court and taught us how to hula. Then, we gathered around an underground oven to watch the “Kalua’ana o ka Pua’a,” the uncovering of the pig. The meal was incredible – I think I ate twice my body weight. Along with traditional Hawaiian dishes such a kalua pig, poi, poke, and haupia, they also offered an array of fruits, sides and desserts… oh, and did I mention there was also an open bar? I had six Mai Tai’s over the course of two hours. The actual show lasted about an hour, where many different Polynesian dances were performed and historic stories were told. The show’s finale included an amazing Hawaiian hula and a very skilled fire dancer. Although it was admittedly a very touristy thing to do, it was well worth the money to me. Highly recommend this luau if you’re ever on the Big Island.

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Wednesday: Our morning and early afternoon were spent at Makalawena Beach in Kekaha Kai State Park, just north of the Kona airport. This was by far my favorite beach we visited while on the trip. It’s a must-visit location if you’re traveling to Hawaii. You have to drive down a very bumpy 4-mile unpaved road to get to this secluded beach, but the trek is absolutely worth it. This beach has some of the clearest, most blue water I’ve ever seen. I’m not much of a swimmer, especially in saltwater because I always end up swallowing too much and making myself sick, but I couldn’t help but immerse myself in the perfect cerulean pools. Also, almost right as we arrived, we spotted a Hawaiian monk seal! We didn’t realize it at the time, but Hawaiian monk seals are extremely endangered, there are only about 1,100 left in the wild, so the chances of us seeing one were very rare. What’s even more lucky is that a short while later, as the monk seal was basking in the sun, a giant sea turtle decided to take a rest on a rock several yards away from the seal. We couldn’t believe it!

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I easily could have spent the whole day exploring Kekaha Kai, but my parents wanted to venture north to check out a few other beaches. We made our way up to Hapuna Beach, which is notorious for being one of Hawaii’s best beaches, but other than the sexy lifeguards, I wasn’t overly impressed. The beach itself was beautiful, but it was overcrowded and very loud. The waves were also much stronger so it wasn’t ideal for swimming (but a great place to surf!) By early evening, we found ourselves in Waikoloa Village, a very posh, resort-y community. We wandered down to Waikoloa Beach and sat under the palm trees to catch yet another spectacular sunset to close out our last night on the Kona side of the island.

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Thursday: My goal for this morning was to catch one of the florescent green geckos that inhabited the area around our complex. I came so close… but they’re too quick for me. We said our goodbyes to our beloved AirBnb and traveled south on highway 11 along the coast, leisurely making our way to the Hilo side of the island via the scenic route. Along our journey we stumbled across an inviting fruit stand, where I bought the juiciest mango and a delicious jar of lilikoi (passionfruit) butter. This was one of my favorite things about island life – the fresh fruit. I would have bought more, but you can’t get it past TSA. By mid-afternoon, we found ourselves driving down a 12-mile one-lane road towards the very south-most point of the United States, South Point Park. Was it worth it? Ehh, honestly there’s not much to see there other than a somewhat green sand beach, but I suppose it’s cool to say that I’ve been there!

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The best part of this day was exploring around Punalu’u Black Sands Beach. This area is well known for sea turtle sightings – unfortunately we had no such luck, but the black sand beach itself is reason to stop here for an hour or two. This is also where my parents and I took the best family photo of all three of us in years (see below, ha!)

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We reached Hilo by nightfall, all pretty exhausted from the day of travel. We found a fantastic place to eat dinner in downtown called Pineapples (my dad and I had some of the best steak I’ve ever eaten here), then made our way a few miles north of Hilo to our AirBnb. Our accommodations on the Hilo side of the island were incredibly authentic and unassuming. Also the nocturnal frogs that inhabit the tropical rainforest climate of Hilo (they’re called Coqui frogs, an invasive species) are ridiculously loud and made us feel like we were staying in the middle of a jungle… and since we arrived at night, we really couldn’t tell how true that was…. Here’s our Hilo AirBNB

Friday: I awoke in the morning, ventured out on the lanai and was awestruck by the view. Our AirBnb overlooked a lush jungle of tropical plants and trees, a small river and even the Hilo Bay. I sat in silence, taking in my surroundings as I waited for my parents to wake up. It made sense now why the frogs were so loud; there were probably thousands of them in the area surrounding our house the night before.

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We spent almost the entire day exploring Volcanoes National Park, and even a whole day doesn’t give you enough time to see everything. We went on several hikes, wandered around the steam vents (smelly, but really cool), explored the Thurston Lava Tubes and drove around the Crater Rim Drive. Unfortunately, you have to venture on a very strenuous 8-mile hike to the ocean to even have a chance of seeing any lava. But the surrounding landscape and history is fascinating.

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Saturday: Mom and I were thrilled when we woke up to sun, because today was Farmer’s Market Day in Hilo! Tons of vendors lined the streets of downtown, selling everything from fresh fruit & veggies to Hawaiian trinkets to gorgeous clothing and more. I helped myself to more mangoes and bought a beautiful shell necklace from a local jeweler. Around lunchtime, we met up with my dad and Eddie, a good friend of mine from high school who saw that I was visiting Hilo, at a great lunch spot called Hilo Ono Kine right across from the market. Eddie and I hadn’t seen each other since our high school days and I didn’t even know he was living in Hawaii until he reached out to me. What a coincidence, right? It was awesome to see a familiar face and catch up with him.

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Our afternoon was spent chasing waterfalls. First, we wanted to check out the very popular Rainbow Falls, which is located right off the road about 5 minutes outside of Hilo. On a good day, the reflection of the waterfall pool casts a rainbow glow that is spectacular for photography, which is how the falls got it’s name. As we arrived however the clouds set in and we didn’t get any sort of rainbow effect. But the falls itself is really beautiful, and you can climb a set of stairs and wander through some trees above the waterfall for an amazing view.

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Next, we drove several more miles outside of Hilo to Pe’epe’e Falls, a hidden gem of a waterfall that is much more difficult to get to. You can drive to the park where this falls is located, but can only walk so far before you have to climb down some pretty gnarly terrain and swim across a pool to get a good look at the bigger falls. While my parents were happy with the viewpoint, I took some time to wander down into the rocks to get as close as I could. Had I not been with my parents, I probably would have swam across the pool to get an up-close view of the falls, but I didn’t have a change of clothes and didn’t want to be wet the rest of the day.

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Last, we made the drive to Akaka Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii. The short hike to the falls lookout is almost as beautiful as the falls itself, lined with tropical, Jurassic Park-like foliage and exotic, colorful plant life. Half of the loop hike was closed due to an erosion, but thankfully you could still get a great view of the waterfall plummeting into the green gorge. Out of all three of these waterfalls, I felt Akaka Falls was the most impressive, but all are a must-see when visiting the Hilo side of Hawaii. You will not be disappointed!

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Sunday: We awoke to the first heavy rain we’d experienced yet throughout the trip. The Hilo side of the island is known for getting an obscene amount of rain yearly (3 times as much as Portland), and we’d been so lucky with the weather so far. Due to the noisy coqui frogs, Dad needed to catch up on some sleep, so mom and I ventured into town, where we ate breakfast and wandered into several niche shops in search of souvenirs. By early afternoon we picked up Dad and headed to the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Gardens. Right as we arrived, however, we heard extreme thunder and it began to DOWNPOUR. It was one of the heaviest rainstorms I’ve ever experienced, but because it was warm rain it wasn’t nearly as miserable as you would assume. The three of us powered through the storm and eventually the rain let up so we were able to enjoy our afternoon exploring the stunning gardens. The Botanical Gardens are a can’t-miss – I have never been so stunned by plants. Left and right there are brilliantly vibrant exotic plants stemming from all angles, and the gardens lead all the way down to the ocean. There’s also an amazing fresh smoothie & sandwich shop about a mile away from the gardens called What’s Shakin’, which is a must-stop (and it’s for sale, you got an extra $3 millon laying around? You could buy it! ha!)

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Monday: We packed up and checked out of our AirBnb to head back towards the Kona side of the island. We spent the day driving back to Kona, soaking up a bit more sun on a few beaches and shopping for trinkets before mom and I headed to a massage appointment. We had to pamper ourselves on our last day in paradise! There are tons of places to have a spa day on the Big Island, it’s hard to choose where to go. We both had a lovely experience at A Ala Hawaii Massage Oceanfront, where the natural sounds of the ocean provide the best relaxation background noise. For our last meal we stopped at Bongo Ben’s right on the beach, where we got to experience one last incredible breathtaking sunset before heading to the airport & back to PDX.

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The Big Island is an absolute wonder and our vacation was fantastic, I strongly encourage everyone to plan a trip in their lifetime if they can. For anyone who is ever planning a trip to the Big Island, I hope this was both helpful and informative in assisting your visit. Also, if you read this entire post, you’re a rockstar. ALOHA!!

3.26 – Air Max Day

Quarter Century Birthday

I am 25 today.

I’ve been alive for 9,131 days, 1,304 weeks… a quarter of a century! I feel old, but also I kind of feel like my life is just starting. I look back on my 25 years with so much happiness in my heart. I was blessed with an incredible childhood which led to so many opportunities, and I am proud of all I’ve accomplished in my first 25 years. Sometimes I feel like the world can be so negative, and I can complain about such inconsequential things, but lately I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to change that. I took some time to compile a list of 25 things I am grateful for, things that I undoubtedly take for granted everyday:

My upbringing, my childhood and my opportunity.

My two incredible parents, their health and their unconditional love.

My health.

My support system, my extended family and all of my dearest friends.

My entire education from kindergarten through college, which paved the way to my dream career.

Growing up in a place as beautiful, fresh and extraordinary as Portland, OR.

My love for animals, appreciation for nature and experiencing the spectacular wonders of the great outdoors at a young age.

My success in athletics, my passion for fashion and all of the incredible places I’ve been able to travel to.

My creativeness, my intellect, my energetic spirit and my beautiful body.

The ability to have my voice be heard.

Incredible memories from the first 25 years of life.

I want to thank everyone who reads this and who is/has been a part of my life. It’s not always easy to let other people know how often they are appreciated, but it’s all of you who have helped shape me and brought so much happiness to my existence. Thank you thank you, and here’s the another wild, adventurous, unpredictable 25 years of life!

NYFW Fall 2017 – Part 2

Let’s just jump right into New York Fashion Week recap part 2!

JUMPSUITS:

From corduroy to denim, utilitarian to glamorous, the effortlessly stylish jumpsuit silhouette shows no signs of downtrending in the upcoming seasons. Although jumpsuits are commonly known for not being figure-flattering, the amount of design variations from designer to designer ironically make this piece work for any body type – it’s all about finding the right silhouette. Loose-fitting, baggy jumpsuits are comfortable, casual and easy to wear. They hide “problem” areas that you may not necessarily want showcased to the world, but throw a belt around the waist for a fitted, hourglass shape. My trouble with jumpsuits is my torso is long and my hips/thighs are thick as thieves, so finding one that fits it quite a challenging task. But I promise, once you find a jumpsuit you love, you’ll want to wear it forever. Here are some favorites from last week’s shows:

COLORED FUR:

It’s not enough these days to use fur as a statement in its natural state – the new demand is for artificially-dyed treatment for a theatrical, costume-y vibe. This year you will see furs dyed all sorts of different ways, from solid neon hues to bold multi-colors. Although I find this trend to be completely fabulous, the use of real fur in high fashion couture goes against my morals and my deep-rooted love for animals, so I always pretend that these fabulous furry pieces are faux (many designers are on the same page about this as well, thank goodness). This trend may not be for everyone, but for those who are daring enough to try it out, the key is to just own it. Maybe try it with an all-black outfit so to be your statement piece. If you feel fabulous, the world will feel your fabulous-ness too.

ASYMMETRICAL NECKLINES:

Many designer’s collections showcased tops and dresses with asymmetrical cut-out necklines; a stylistic element I’ve seen little of in the market, but one I expect fast-fashion brands will run with in the coming months. It’s a fairly simple design change that makes a garment go from traditional to fashion-forward while being rather sassy and unexpected. Take a look at the examples below. The navy evening dress by Cushnie et Ochs exudes sensual sophistication due to the unique neckline cut-out and definitely draws the eye to a more erogenous zone on the body. We will see if this trend catches on, but I’m all for it!

COLOR THEMES:

Along with typical neutral colors that show up in every collection each season, there were several color trends we can expect to take off this fall. Cobalt, russet and various hues of yellow were very present among many of the collections, and I also noticed a number of designers styled entirely red-on-red outfits using contrasting materials or trims.

Cobalt – a brilliantly vibrant blue that is dramatic and communicates confidence. I love the use of the color on La Perla’s matching embroidered bralette & high-waisted pant, making the color very playful. Cobalt is also very striking when paired with hues of its contrasting color orange, as seen on Zadig & Voltaire’s slip-like printed dress.

Russet – a very muted tone of orangey-red that can almost resemble brown depending on how it is used. Russet will be a very popular color this coming fall, obviously fitting for the season, perfect for pants and warm winter coats (see Christian Siriano’s incredible fur-lined wrap coat below).

Yellow – a color that is not as commonly used in fashion due to its perceived unflattering tone. I must admit I don’t really like the color yellow much when it comes to my wardrobe, but the great thing about yellow is there’s a shade for every skin tone. Ranging from bright neon to sunflower, yellow hues are going to look great on flowy dresses and comfortable sweaters this fall.

Red on Red – you rarely see people wearing an entirely red ensemble, but this may change in the blink of an eye. Pairing bold hues of red with more muted tones seems to be gaining in popularity and this was especially present in Oscar de la Renta’s collection, where he combined a dimensional satin top with flat woven trousers to create a strong, attention-grabbing outfit. I love red pieces, but have never thought to mix and match similar red tones. I attempted to throw together an all-red outfit… think I can pull it off?

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Well, that’s a wrap for NYFW! This was the first year I paid extra close attention to the collections, watching each runway show and scrolling through collection photos for similarities among the designers. I’m kind of obsessed now and extremely envious of the individuals who were able to attend the shows. Going to NYFW is now on my bucket list, perhaps in the future I’ll be able to blog about it while I am there, or maybe someday I’ll even be a part of a design team… You never know!

Cheers!

NYFW Fall 2017 – Part 1

Hello Everyone!

I must apologize, the January snow-pocalyspe, the constant gloomy weather, my day job and other things I can use as excuses have kept me away from blog writing for the last month. It’s not always easy to keep up with extra-curriculars, and honestly I become a lazy unmotivated couch potato during the cold season. But time to get back into the swing of things! And what a better way to do that than to recap New York Fashion Week for Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear.

I believe fashion is the best form of personal expression. It’s fascinating to see how a designer’s collection can be influenced by anything from politics, pop culture and social justice issues, to region and nature, to shape, form or technology.  Everyone has their own opinions about Fashion Week and designer “Ready-to-Wear” collections. Some find the shows inspiring and innovative, some find them unrealistic and pretentious. Some designers are extremely avant-garde with their collections, others stay predictable and classic. But fashion is like art, it provokes thoughts and emotions. Every viewer will have a different reaction to the way a designer uses materials, color, styling, aesthetics, layering, accessories, etc. Those reactions are what drives fashion trends and influences what you will see on the floors of fast-fashion retailers (H&M, Forever 21, Zara) several months/years down the road. Ever seen the movie “The Devil Wears Prada?” Although the terminology is slightly different, Miranda Priestly’s (Meryl Streep) blue sweater monologue does a brilliant job of explaining this trickle-across fashion phenomenon (watch it here).

Okay, on to the fun stuff! After the first day of FW runway shows, I noted numerous commonalities among the collections. Now that the chaotic week is almost over, here are some huge trends we can expect to see on the sales floors this coming fall.

VELVET:

Velvet made a huge comeback in 2016, with no signs of downtrending for 2017. It exudes effortless-luxe with its fabulous sheen and soft aesthetic. Whether printed, crushed, or in a bold solid color, velvet was used this season on a multitude of silhouettes from drape-y red carpet gowns to strong pant suits, and everything in between. My favorite use of velvet this season can be seen in the first photo below, a pearly long-sleeved goddess gown by Tadashi Shoji.

FLORALS:

Florals tend to show up in the market season after season, but almost every collection for Fall 17 included some type of flowery frock. Some were romantic & dainty, some loud & colorful, others were abstract & conceptual. I’m not usually one to gravitate towards girly florals – I very much enjoy when they are used in daring, unexpected ways, like in Moncler Grenoble’s ski collection, which pushes the boundaries of winter wear. Anna Sui took the trend to a different level by layering various floral patterns on top of each other and pairing the outfit with even more floral accessories. I think we can expect to see an overabundance of flowered garments in retailers very soon.

GROWL POWER:

Did anyone else desperately want to grow up to be a Cheetah Girl as badly as I did? I may not have reached my fame aspirations, but that hasn’t stopped me from dressing like one of the pop stars. And thankfully, animal print is going everywhere except out of style for Fall 17. Used both sparingly by some and for entire outfits by others, spots of the big cats will be in full force this fall. Although many would find this ensemble chaotic, even possible distasteful, I commend Jeremy Scott for his intentional print-on-print look where he pairs soft leopard with floral paisley and statement Jesus pants (who doesn’t love a good pair of Jesus pants, especially on Gigi Hadad). Actually, a sub-trend of combining animal-print with other prints/textures in one garment or outfit is also obviously on the rise. Thank the fashion gods that I can continue to wear leopard print with confidence.

FLOOR-LENGTH TRENCHES:

A trend I have yet to adopt myself, but one I may need to get behind this coming fall. Full-body trench coats in varying cuts, fabrics and colors swept the floor of many collections this week. Simple, classic designs from Michael Kors and Ryan Roche help make this coat silhouette very wearable, while much edgier designers showcased full fur and boldly-printed trenches that definitely turned heads (ps. why does Fetty Wap look so effin cool as a runway model?) In the future, if Portland winters continue to be as brisk, chilly and snowy as this year, I’ll need to invest in a fabulous floor-length coat so I can venture outside in style.

anddddd just for fun, here’s a few pics of what I WOULD have worn had I attended NYFW…. but apparently my invitation got lost in the mail…

Stay tuned for Part-2 review coming soon!

2016 in Review

What an unusual year it has been, one that I look back on with confusion. According to the internet and many popular social media accounts, 2016 has been dubbed as the worst year ever. The Friend Dog Studio team even made a horror film trailer based on all the terrible events that occurred throughout the year. While this might be a bit dramatic, it was definitely a year of many ups and downs, where the highs were phenomenal and memorable and the lows were rather defeating, and I think many would agree that there is a lot of pressure for 2017 to be a better year overall. We will see how this pans out!

Personally, the highlight of 2016 was the amount of traveling I was able to do. I traveled to six new countries across two new continents along with visiting a few of my favorite cities in the US. I feel so fortunate that several places I visited throughout the year I was able to cross of my bucket list!! I warn you, this is a long post but it’s mostly photos from all my adventures. Continue reading “2016 in Review”