2016: A Year In Review

I think it’s safe to say that 2016 really wasn’t anyone’s year; I mainly blame Trump. But even though it wasn’t a stellar year, I still love to look back to recount the highs and lows and see what’s coming up for 2017.


I usually start my annual round ups by looking back at the previous year’s and seeing how well my predictions played out. Except, this year I took an accidental blogging hiatus from September 2015 until April 2016. Whoops! So I didn’t actually write a round-up for 2015. But I think I can safely say that my life is pretty different than what I thought it would be at this time last year. That actually seems to be a trend every time I write one of these reviews! Should I be surprised that my life is constantly changing?

So here’s a quick recap of my 2016:

In January, I had just finished spending my first Christmas with the Marriotts in Vancouver and had just moved into my new apartment. I was a month into my brand new job at UBC and was hosting Sophie, my previous roommate, on the couch in my studio apartment. Things were squishy but it was a fun-filled month.

Colin's birthday on the Canucks big screen!

Colin’s birthday on the Canucks big screen!

Sadly, Sophie returned to Ontario in February and I was roommate-less for the first time in a year. Besides that, February was business as usual as far as I can remember.

March was a busy month! My mom came to town so I got to enjoy lots of quality Moo time with delicious dinners and outings around Vancouver. We also celebrated Colin’s birthday and at the end of the month, we took off to LA!

We started the month of April in Los Angeles where Colin, his mom Margie and I spent 6 days thanks to a amazing flight deal. We packed in a lot during our short trip such as a basketball game, hockey game, city tour, beach day and visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Later that month, Colin and I celebrated our one year anniversary.

Venice Beach, California

Venice Beach, California

May was another busy month. We went to Victoria for Victoria’s Day, saw Macklemore and Matt Corby in concert, watched Billy Elliott and I started my new gig at the Allard School of Law at UBC.

If I thought May was busy, just wait until June! I spent the first couple of weeks getting settled in my new job. We also had Colin’s aunt, who had been sick, pass away, which was tough for the family. At the end of the month, it was off to Toronto for Colin and I where I got to be a co-maid of honour at my friend Kimberley’s wedding. We then took off for a quick couple of nights in Montreal. We got back to Vancouver, unpacked, repacked and left the next day to spend the long weekend in Pender Harbour.

Colin & I at Kim's wedding

Colin & I at Kim’s wedding


Our original plan for July was to do a roadtrip out to Calgary to visit Colin’s family and hit the Calgary Stampede. Unfortunately, with Colin’s work schedule, it didn’t happen this year. Maybe in 2017? But we did manage to get away to Harrison Hot Springs for my birthday weekend where we indulged in massages, courtesy of my mom, and a fancy birthday dinner. July was also the month where I got to see Newsies, Rock of Ages and a Vancouver Festival of Lights fireworks show!

In August, I headed back to Toronto where I was in yet another wedding. This time, I got to watch my best friend Andrea marry the love of her life. When I got back to Vancouver, my cousin Ryann and

Andy's wedding!

Andy’s wedding!

her boyfriend were in town thanks to med school placements that brought them out west. It was so fun to hang out with Ryann and Alex, go out to some great meals and experience Vancouver with them. Adding one more show to our year (we really see a lot of theatre!), Colin and I went to The Book of Mormon (his second time seeing the show, my fourth) with his good friends from high school.




Unfortunately, September was the big low¬†of 2016. Towards the end of August, Colin’s dad Randy entered the hospital and on September 8th, he passed away. The short 11 days we spent in the hospital is still a bit of a blur and doesn’t quite feel real. Even though it’s been months, I still sometimes find myself waiting for Randy to come in from his workshop in the backyard when I’m staying in Surrey.

October was a month of a lot of changes, definitely spurred by the great loss our family suffered in September. I decided to quit my job, booked a fairly spontaneous trip to Vietnam and finally said out loud that I want to be a writer. We ended the month with my last day working a 9-5 at UBC (maybe forever!) and a complimentary stay on Granville Island thanks to a contest I had won earlier in the year.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

I started this month by living with Colin and Margie in Surrey for 12 days before heading off on a three week trip to Vietnam with my friend Emilie! It felt great to get on a long haul flight and check somewhere new off of my bucket list. There were definitely moments that I did not enjoy – when I was too hot and just wanted to lie in bed with air conditioning all day. But overall, I loved the trip! Highlights include our perfect day in Hoi An where we hit the beach, went to a cooking class and got dresses made, cruising beautiful Halong Bay, going on my own writer’s retreat to Phu Quoc Island and all of the delicious and cheap food we enjoyed!

Christmas light maze

Christmas light maze

I got back to Vancouver just in time for the most festive month of the year. I had a couple weeks in Vancouver where I split my time between my Kits apartment and Colin’s place in Surrey and tried to fit in as many social catch ups with friends as I could. And then it’s back to Toronto for Christmas. I didn’t get to go home last year, so it’s really nice to know I’ll be spending the holidays with my family and Toronto friends. But it’s also very hard to leave my Vancouver family behind, especially since they’re a smaller group this year after some pretty significant losses. December was also my first official month of what I like to call “fake employment.” I’m really giving this freelance writer thing a proper shot. And, a bit to my surprise, it’s working out. I’m not rolling in the dough, but I am making a decent amount of money from something I only got serious about in the last two months of the year.

I’m posting this on the eve of my flight to Toronto, so I assume the last 8 days of the year will be filled with chilly Toronto temperatures, lots of happy reunions with friends and family, all of the Christmas songs and decor I could want, and more food than one should reasonably eat in 8 days.

What’s next?
This is my favourite part! I love looking ahead and trying to predict what the next year will bring me or writing down some of my hopes and goals. I used to do resolutions; I’m not sure I’m going to make any for 2017. I like the idea of setting goals and having affirmations to guide me through the year, but I don’t want to rush to come up with a list just to meet an arbitrary deadline.

So what is happening in 2017?

Career: I would love if I could be a full-time freelance writer in 2017. It would be the dream to make my living just from my writing. However, that might not be realistic, especially since I’m just starting out. So I’m looking to pick up clients and get some steady gigs. But I’m also applying to some part-time stuff so I can still focus on writing but have something more steady on the side. I hope by the end of January/February, I’ll have that a bit more figured out. But if I could end 2017 confidently saying, “I’m a writer” when people ask what I do, that would be huge. I can’t even put into words how happy that would make me to be able to boldly say that.

Living: Surprisingly, I managed to stay in one apartment for a whole year (I can’t say the same about any of my jobs…). But as I shared previously, the plan is for me to give my notice when I get back from Toronto because Colin and I will be moving in together in March. We’re looking for a spacious, modern and affordable apartment in New West, preferably right by the skytrain. Any leads?

Travel: My first trip of the year will be in February. Colin and I are joining his mom and some other friends and relatives at an all-inclusive in Huatulco, Mexico for a week. I’m not usually a fan of all-inclusives but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit a country I’ve never been to, hang out by the beach with my boyfriend and escape a dreary Vancouver February. Other potential travel plans include a family trip to Europe in May with my stepmom’s side, a possible trip with my mom in September and a little surprise I’m working on for the summer!

Anything else? I think that’s all I’ve got planned for 2017 so far! I kind of love that the year is open and that I can take advantage of any opportunities that come my way. You know I can’t resist a good deal on a flight! But I’m really stoked for the things that I do have planned. I’m trying out my dream career as a writer and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m months away from moving in with my boyfriend and getting to live out my domestic fantasies in decorating a new place and maybe stepping up my cooking game. And I’ve got lots of exciting travel plans on the horizon. 2017 is sounding pretty stellar already.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! All the best for your own stellar 2017 ūüôā


LA: Must Sees & Maybe Passes

I figured since I did one for New York, I might as well do one for LA! I just came back from my second-ever visit to Los Angeles.  Colin, his mom and I were there at the end of March for a quick week of sight-seeing and relaxing on the beach.  Read on for the highlights and lowlights of our itinerary!


PROS:¬†Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that Uber is a popular ride-share program. ¬†You also know that LA traffic and transit are notoriously¬†horrible. Uber was absolutely our saving grace. ¬†We got all around LA, from Anaheim to Venice Beach, via Uber. ¬†We saved a ton of money and met some interesting drivers – from world travelling photographers and ex-racecar drivers to our very own LA tour guides.

CONS:¬†We don’t have Uber in Vancouver. ¬†The worst part of Uber is that we couldn’t bring it home with us.

VERDICT:¬†Uber is definitely the way to go when visiting LA. ¬†It’s cheaper than taxis (and sometimes cheaper than renting a car) and way more convenient than public transit. ¬†I couldn’t be a bigger fan. Uber, please come to Vancouver!

The Farmer’s Market
PROS:¬†The Farmer’s Market has been a staple in LA since it opened in 1934. I really loved this space – so many stalls with all different types of cuisine. ¬†We sampled gumbo, pizza, gyros and bbq in our two visits and barely cracked the surface. ¬†Plus, it’s a covered outdoor market so we actually got to eat next to a giant tree.


CONS:¬†It’s not your traditional Farmer’s Market – it’s more like a diverse sprawling foodcourt. ¬†And I do wish we had done a bit more research to make sure we hit up the best stalls.

VERDICT:¬†Definitely check it out! There is something at the Farmer’s Market for every taste bud.

The Grove
PROS:¬†The Grove is the beautiful outdoor shopping centre right next door to the Farmer’s Market. ¬†There are lots of shops and a gorgeous fountain right in the middle. ¬†I love that LA weather is so pleasant and rain-free that an outdoor mall is actually a viable option. ¬†An outdoor mall in Vancouver would be open for max 2 weeks a year.

CONS:¬†While the Grove is beautiful, it’s also beautifully expensive. ¬†We were pretty much priced out of all of the shops. ¬†But we did enjoy lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, splurging on a Michael Kors purse for Colin’s mom and window shopping.

VERDICT:¬†If you can afford it, definitely check out the Grove for some fun shopping. ¬†And even if you can’t afford it, it’s still a fun place to visit.

Trader Joe’s
PROS:¬†I know Trader Joe’s isn’t LA-specific but I could wax poetic about this US chain until the cows come home. ¬†I love Trader Joe’s. ¬†I love the fun snacks, chalkboard signs and funky re-usable bags. ¬†But most of all, I love that they sell wine for $2.49!


CONS:¬†Again, the biggest con is that we don’t have this wonderful chain (with its wonderful liquor prices) in Vancouver.

VERDICT:¬†Always go to Trader Joe’s. Always.

Going to a show taping
PROS:¬†We went to a taping of The Late Late Show with James Corden (we were hoping to see Ellen but she wouldn’t give us tickets). ¬†It was fun to be at a live taping and see how the production of a show comes together. ¬†James Corden was hilarious and we really loved seeing his guests Sam Heughan (yum) and Luke Bryan (yummier). Plus, we were on TV!

CONS:¬†There were so many lines! We arrived at 2:30 and stood in line (outside in the sun) until past four. ¬†And then we were brought through security only to sit in¬†another line. ¬†We were taken upstairs to the studio where we, you guessed it, stood in line, until they finally took us to our seats. ¬†Another con, musical guest Rita Wilson performed her song not once, not twice but three times. ¬†There are certain songs I would love to see performed three times in a row – this was not one of them. ¬†Also, we didn’t get any free swag ūüė¶


VERDICT:¬†If you’re prepared to wait a while in lines, it can be a fun experience. It would probably be best if you’re really into the musical guest, just in case they have to perform 3+ times.

Universal Studios
PROS:¬†We decided that instead of Disney, we would go to Universal Studios during our trip. ¬†This was a great call since Disney is way busier and neither Colin or I particularly enjoy rides. ¬†Universal was amazing! We went to a bunch of shows to see stunt people, special effects, animal actors, etc. ¬†We went on the studio tour and got to see lots of movie sets, more special effects and even sat through some 4D rides. ¬†But the best part was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. ¬†We had checked online before our trip and saw that TWWoHP wasn’t opening until April 7th and we were leaving on April 5th. But when we arrived at Universal, we were told that it had been “soft open” for a few weeks! Actual tears came to my eyes. I was so excited! I literally skipped into the magical world and was just blown away by the whole place.




CONS:¬†I thought I would be listing long lines here but strangely enough our Saturday visit to Universal Studios was not too busy at all. So I guess I would say the cons of the day would be the food (overpriced and lacklustre, which is to be expected of fast food at an amusement park) and the one ride we went on: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. As I mentioned above, neither Colin or I are ride people. ¬†We don’t do roller coasters, heights, and you would probably have a hard time even getting us on a merry-go-round. ¬†However, we decided to be brave and try the Forbidden Journey. ¬†There were a bunch of cool Harry Potter artifacts along the way, no lines and many ride-goers had assured us it would be nothing like a roller coaster. ¬†They were right. ¬†It was worse. ¬†Needless to say, we did not enjoy ourselves. ¬†I spent the entire ride muscles straining to hold on as tight as possible to my seat, eyes practically glued shut and silently willing myself not to cry. ¬†We made it through, but I don’t think we’ll be risking it on any other rides again soon.

VERDICT:¬†Universal was great! I would definitely recommend it. I think it’s better for an older crowd and there’s tons to see/do if you don’t love rides. ¬†If you’re happy to skip meeting Mickey Mouse, this would be my recommendation.

Hollywood Tour
PROS:¬†We took a tour on our second day in LA. ¬†It picked us up in Anaheim and drove us around to Venice Beach, ¬†The Santa Monica Pier, Rodeo Drive, The Grove/Farmer’s Market, the Walk of Fame¬†and then back to our hotel – all for $50! It was a great way to see a lot of LA in one day. I particularly liked our stroll along Rodeo Drive and seeing all of the stars on the Walk of Fame.


CONS: The timing seemed a bit off.  We got off for an hour at the Santa Monica Pier Рnot during meal time or when the amusement park was even open Рbut only half an hour at the Walk of Fame.  We also wished our driver had pointed out some more sights to us during the drive.

VERDICT:¬†I’m usually not a fan of tour buses but if you’re short on time and want to see the highlights of LA, this is a great way to do it. ¬†It was nice to not have to worry about transportation or where we needed to go.

Anaheim Ducks game
PROS:¬†So our initial reason for going to LA was actually to watch our Vancouver Canucks play the Anaheim Ducks. ¬†Actually, this was Colin’s reason. ¬†I can’t really condone going all the way to LA to watch a hockey game, but it was a fun experience. ¬†And the Canucks won!

Go Canucks Go!

Go Canucks Go!

CONS:¬†It’s kind of hard to cheer against the home team. ¬†I missed being able to cheer along with the crowd.

VERDICT:¬†If you happen to be in Anaheim during hockey season and you’re a fan, sure, take in a game!

LA Clippers game
PROS:¬†Our next professional sporting game was¬†in the famed Staples Center and we got to cheer with the home team. ¬†I love basketball and haven’t been to a live NBA game in a long time so this was a real treat for me. ¬†Plus, the tickets were fairly cheap and the Clippers won!


CONS:¬†We wanted to see the Lakers, of course. ¬†Unfortunately, we got priced out of that game. ¬†Sorry, Kobe ūüė¶

VERDICT:¬†I might be a bit biased here since basketball is my favourite sport and we don’t have a team to watch in Vancouver, but I would definitely recommend taking in a game and cheering on the home team!

Olvera Street
PROS:¬†This street is tucked away behind a large church by LA’s Union Station. ¬†It’s referred to as the Mexican Market because it’s home to stalls and stalls of Mexican food, clothing and other wares. ¬†As someone who has never been to Mexico, this was a pretty cool area to explore. ¬†We ended up buying some beautiful blankets (for only $10!) and snacked on churros while listening to a travelling mariachi band.

CONS:¬†As authentic as the stalls looked, I resisted my urge to buy some of the traditional Mexican items. ¬†I would prefer to buy them in Mexico! So, I guess this isn’t really a con, but more of an increasing desire to travel to Mexico!


VERDICT:¬†Again, as someone who hasn’t actually been to Mexico, I really loved this little market and think it’s a great LA stop.

Marina del Rey & Venice Canals
PROS:¬†The canals themselves are actually pretty cute. ¬†They’ve got nothing on the Amsterdam canals but there are lovely homes all along and a bunch of little bridges. ¬†It’s a quaint little community and sort of hidden off the main streets.


CONS:¬†The marina, on the other hand, was a pretty big let down. ¬†We walked for quite some time to get there and then were pretty disappointed when we realized we had made it. ¬†Maybe we didn’t go to the right part?

VERDICT: See the canals.  Skip the marina.

Venice Beach
PROS: We spent the last three nights of our trip at a beachfront hotel on Venice Beach.  It was awesome! The beach itself is beautiful Рnot too busy, great waves and nice warm sand.  And then the boardwalk and Venice Beach culture is so eclectic.  I loved walking around and seeing all of the vendors, street performers and shops.  It was the best place to stay and so much fun to explore.

Colin & his mom getting their wave frolick on!

Colin & his mom getting their wave frolick on!


CONS:¬†While we didn’t run into any issues, I probably wouldn’t recommend any midnight strolls in the area. ¬†The locals are definitely fun and seemingly harmless but even when we went out after 8 looking for a late dinner, we ran into more open tattoo parlors than pizza shops.

VERDICT: Absolutely check out Venice Beach Рand sample the fish tacos by Muscle Beach! They are, as the sign says, the best in Venice Beach.

The Santa Monica Pier
PROS:¬†The Santa Monica Pier is really fun. ¬†As soon as you spot the iconic ferris wheel, you know it’s going to be a good time. ¬†There are lots of people, vendors and amusement park rides and games for all. ¬†And, best of all, off the end of the dock you can spot seals and (so I’m told) dolphins!


CONS:¬†The pier is well-known and therefore, flooded with tourists and overpriced vendors. ¬†I wouldn’t suggest it for too much shopping or dining if you can avoid it.

VERDICT:¬†Being the end of route 66, it’s iconic, so you might as well see it. But I would go mainly for the seals ūüôā

In N Out
PROS:¬†Well, at least we can say we checked off a California must? All of our Uber drivers told us we couldn’t leave LA without trying In N Out.

CONS:¬†I wish we had left this one out. I’ve had In N Out twice before and was not impressed either of those times. I don’t know why I thought this time would be any different. To be honest, the food is nothing special (sorry, Californians!). And to make it worse, we decided to go lie in the sun afterwards to let the gross food really take its toll on our bodies.



VERDICT: Hard pass.


Los Angeles was a great trip.  It was so nice to spend six days with Colin and his mom, to be in the constant presence of palm trees and to not have to worry about work or school or anything else.  We fit in a lot of fun stuff but also made time for relaxing on the beach and watching TV back at the hotel.

Since coming back to Vancouver in 2014 to finish my degree at UBC, I haven’t done a lot of big travelling. ¬†It was ¬†a change to be more settled and to not have future plans to move to so-and-so foreign country for 1-6 months. ¬†But I have had so many other great life experiences and opportunities. ¬†And I’ve really started to embrace the idea of local travel. ¬†As much as I want to jump on an international plane every time I see a flight deal posted, with work, rent and two weddings this summer, I know it’s not realistic. ¬†And I’m learning to be okay with that. ¬†I still plan to see a lot of the world – there are so many countries I can’t wait to explore. ¬†But in the meantime, there’s a lot of my own backyard to see. ¬†The last time I went to LA, I was 12, so this was kind of like a first trip for me. ¬†It was fun to play tourist and go on a little adventure, even if it was only a 2 hour plane ride away. ¬†And we have other plans this summer to head down to Seattle, do our Calgary roadtrip and possibly even fit in a trip to Montreal when we’re back in Toronto. ¬†So yeah, lots to see around here while I save up and countdown to the next big trip ūüôā