Hi, friends! I hope you’re having a great week!

Both the Christmas and New Year’s holidays fall in such a weird way this year, but I hope that — whether you celebrated Christmas or not — you’re able to steal at least a few minutes here and there to rest and recharge. I’m currently back in Pennsylvania spending time with family, which has been really nice. One of my sisters was studying abroad this past semester and another was away at school, so this is the first time in almost four months that we’ve all been together! The time apart makes you that much more grateful for the hours you do have with family. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take this week off from work entirely, but I’m happy (as always) to have the flexibility to write and log hours from anywhere so that I can spend a few extra days with them. I’ll head back to New York City tomorrow afternoon to prepare for our New Year’s travels, but in the meantime, I’m soaking in all the binge watching and leftover Christmas cookies I can!

With 2018 just a few days away, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect back on some of the high points (and even some of the not-so-high points) of the past twelve months. 2017 was quite a year, and there’s no way for me to include everything, so I thought I’d do what any Instagram lover would do and use my #2017bestnine as a starting point.

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 3.15.10 PM

Initial reactions? Including Matt in my Instagram posts obviously makes them a lot more popular! Matt, prepare to continue seeing your cute face all over social media in the new year. Let’s give the people what they want!

Anyway, here are a few more thoughts about these best-liked photos and how they were significant to my year.
  • In July, Matt and I traveled to Turks & Caicos with some of my family to celebrate my little sister’s high school graduation. My sisters didn’t know that we’d be coming, and it was so fun to surprise them at the airport with our bags packed and ready to go! This trip was especially significant because it was the first (and only, honestly) time since I’ve gone freelance that I officially went out of office. (Sigh.)
  • In June, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a trip to southern Maine. Marriage continues to be such an incredible experience, and doing life with Matt is the greatest blessing. Halfway into Year Two, I can say confidently that it’s only getting better and better!
  • September marked one full year since I left my corporate job and began working for myself. Even though it’s now been three months since I enjoyed this milestone, I still find it hard to believe that I’ve been at this for a full calendar year… but then again, I also kind of feel like I’ve been doing it forever. I continue to feel nothing but gratitude for all of the opportunities that I’ve had over the course of this journey — even the ones that come disguised as challenges!
  • Matt won the Hamilton lottery the week before Christmas, and we got to enjoy our favorite show from the second row. Such a fun surprise! The timing was tough, since my family lost our cat the same day, but I did my best to go with the flow (not always my best thing!) and feel all of the things at once. We lost our dog on the other side of my family this year, as well, so 2017 was a hard year of goodbyes to my childhood pets.
  • Marriage isn’t always easy, and Matt and I continued to work hard at learning more about each other and at being good partners (and at taking good pictures, of course). One thing we’ve found especially helpful is something we call The Appreciation Game — and it’s been fun to hear our friends talk about how they’ve adopted it since I shared it here on the blog! Every night before bed (even if one of us is traveling), each of us shares one specific thing that the other person did to make them grateful that day. Sometimes, it can feel like a stretch (just being honest!), but being intentional about that time daily has been really beneficial for us.
  • We spent the first two weeks of October traveling in northern California, starting in San Francisco, driving down the coast to Monterey, and finishing up with ten days at a cozy Airbnb in Mill Valley. Read more in my recap posts here and here.
  • We laughed a lot. That’s really all I can say about photo #7 up there.
  • We celebrated the wedding of two of our favorite people in Mystic, CT. And somehow we ruined a perfect sunset with a hilarious, mean muggin’ personality pic.
  • We experienced off-season at the Jersey shore for the first time — and we loved it! The only thing better than laying on the beach in a bathing suit is exploring the beach in a cozy sweatshirt.
What were the highlights of your 2017? I’d love to hear more about them in the comments below!

….AND don’t forget to enter this month’s giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Literally, the ultimate prize (if you ask me, at least). All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner here on the blog this Friday 12/29, so get those entries in ASAP! Be sure to send the link to your bookworm friends so they have a chance, as well!