2014 Year in Review

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


2014 will be over in approximately six five hours for us here in Southern California. I grew impatient throughout the day at work while sneaking peeks at celebration preparations of my European and East Coast friends. Luckily, working for a wine distributor means gifts of celebratory sparkling wine!

This has been a fun year and our lives have been repeatedly blessed. Hard work paid off for Dan in the form of a promotion. We moved into a perfect new apartment in a great part of town. Chelsea and her little kitty Audrey still live with us and they are fantastic roommates. (Auds is also a great little cuddle buddy!)

Our circumstances this year have allowed us to enjoy life like never before, mostly in the form of more frequent traveling. (If only my job would allow a bit more freedom in this department!) I went on my first business trip to Salt Lake City in February, and we also did a lot of exploring on our own.

I still can't believe we live this close to LA, and it does have its perks. This year we've visited Universal Studios, the Warner Brothers lot, the LACMA, the Melose Flea, the Farmers Market, and Santa Monica on many occasions. Dan and I attended a concert at the Palladium, and Chelsea and I attended a performance of Cirque du Soleil TOTEM. So while LA was never part of any plan for me, I'm happy we've ended up so close to the City of Angels.

We also ventured outside of SoCal a little bit...
  • We returned home to Virginia twice this year; once in June for one of my best friend's weddings, and again just last week to be with family for Christmas.
  • Dan and I visited San Francisco for the first time at the end of August and tried to cross everything off of our SanFran to-do lists over a long weekend.
  • Dan's grandfather and his wife invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them in Alaska, and it was breathtaking (both because of its beauty and how very cold it was!)

This year wasn't all fun adventures and happiness, though. I have been sick repeatedly, from a slipped disc in my back over the summer to a middle ear infection that has caused unending vertigo and other problems over the past six weeks. But I just keep on keeping on, determined not to let it get me totally down. Here's hoping 2015 will be "the year of healthy," and not like "the year of sick," as I've been calling it. Maybe I can even get it a bit more rock climbing than I've managed lately.

I'm excited for 2015. I want to be healthier, to travel more, and to drink up every bit of California that I can over the next few months. 2015 will be another big year full of big changes for us, and even though I don't know exactly what all of those changes will entail, I'm excited nonetheless.

We're celebrating tonight by going out for a nice dinner and drinking a bit of that Prosecco I brought home from work while we watch the (pre-recorded, 3 hours later) Times Square Ball drop!

Happy New Year & Cheers! Bring it on, 2015!

Header photo by Samantha Polanco Photography, Oceanside, CA

An Alaskan Thanksgiving

Monday, December 1, 2014


I have this terrible habit lately of not telling people what is going on in my life. Nothing reminded me of that more than when a couple of friends messaged me on Facebook asking, "What are you doing in Alaska!?" after I posted a couple of pictures online on last week. Suprise! We were invited by Daniel's grandfather and his wife who live in Fairbanks to join them for the Thanksgiving holiday. We said yes! and started packing our sweaters!

We left early last Wednesday morning and arrived a little after 4:30pm. It was -12˚F (-24˚C) and already completely dark when we arrived! Stuart and Cynthia live a little ways out of Fairbanks in a town called North Pole, a place that takes its name quite seriously... and I loved that! We were in a picturesque winter wonderland, surrounded by snow and trees just like you'd imagine a wintery Alaska would be. It was the first snow I'd seen in nearly two years and a welcome change of environment from the mostly unchanging seasons of Southern California. We spent a really wonderful four days in North Pole seeing the area, eating a ton of Cynthia's really great food, and learning more about Dan's genealogy.

This time of year is very dark for Alaska and other places that far north. Civil twilight began around 9am and sunrise was around 10am. The sunset was around 3pm and twilight lasted until around 4:20pm. The days seemed very short like this and made 6pm feel like it should be midnight. We made sure to get out and see everything we could while the sun was up! We visited the "North Pole," the Santa Clause House, Chena Hot Springs, the Aurora Ice Museum, and the Alaskan Pipeline. We saw reindeer at Santa's, dog sled teams racing alongside the road, and ice sculptors in action. We went out for Chinese at Pagoda twice because it was that good. It was a really great four days that slowed down for us and felt much longer.

And it was oh-so-cold! The coldest temp while we were there was -24˚F (-31˚C)!

The "North Pole" in the town of North Pole, Alaska, just outside of Fairbanks | Em Then Now When
The "North Pole" in the town of North Pole, Alaska, just outside of Fairbanks | Em Then Now When
The beautiful little town of North Pole, Alaska, just a little ways outside of Fairbanks | Em Then Now When
The beautiful little town of North Pole, Alaska, just a little ways outside of Fairbanks | Em Then Now When
We're standing in a sled carved from ice. It's kind of hard to see if you're not looking for it.

The beautiful little town of North Pole, Alaska, just a little ways outside of Fairbanks | Em Then Now When




The beautiful little town of North Pole, Alaska, just a little ways outside of Fairbanks | Em Then Now When
  This was taken at noon... this is about as far as the sun rises!


The beautiful little town of North Pole, Alaska, just a little ways outside of Fairbanks | Em Then Now When
 3pm, just after sunset

The beautiful little town of North Pole, Alaska, just a little ways outside of Fairbanks | Em Then Now When