This time of year, it’s easy to get in the habit of moving on quickly. Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season and before you know it you’re back home for Christmas, and ringing in the New Year a week later. With all of the hustle and bustle associated with this season, I think sometimes we forget to reflect on the progress and memories we’ve made within an annual chapter of our lives. Many of you may remember the Instagram “Best Nine”, a round-up collage of your most-liked photos of the year that were flooding your feeds immediately after Christmas for the first time last year. I began thinking about this “best nine” concept and, just like it’s tough to choose our top nine favorite photos, the same could be said for the best moments, memories, and growth spurts within the year. For me, this year has been proof that change will happen whether you’re ready for it or not, so I finally decided to just grab the reins, hold on, and see where it led me! I hope you enjoy reminiscing with me!
1. Celebrating Epicurean Emily’s 1st Birthday It may sound strange to some, but the milestone of one year of blogging called for some balloons and confetti. When I first began my blog, I was just looking for a platform to discuss and showcase my many passions after struggling to find a career path that would incorporate them all. Not only am I proud of my mission and the work featured on my corner of the internet, but I’m very proud of myself for putting in the late nights editing photos and writing posts, spending my weekends planning and shooting content (and counting my blessings for my #InstagramBoyfriend, without whose support system I would’ve given up a hundred times over by now), and constantly putting in the work with no compensation. Even if you love something, it’s very hard to work for free. But I’m choosing to make sacrifices now so that I can one day live a life that I don’t need a vacation from.
2. Paying off Debt/Building Savings Like most of my fellow millennials, I was on a paycheck to paycheck financial situation until this year. I had some outstanding debt that I wanted to take care of before our summer move and I needed a chunk of dough in savings to stay afloat for a couple of months while job-searching in my new state. The only way to do this in a short period of time was to literally save every penny I made. I only bought necessities and cooked almost every meal at home. I completely paid off my debt and contributed to savings with every single paycheck. With Luke’s help, I continue to make financially smart decisions and it feels amazing to be prepared not only for emergencies, but also for upcoming financially-draining events like vacation and Christmas. I realize that not everyone has the luxury of being able to put most of their paycheck into savings, but even setting aside a few hours worth of compensation each week builds up more quickly than you think and automatically puts you in a more comfortable financial position to handle all the unexpected things life throws your way.
3. Strawberry Picking/Open Farm The quest continued this year for truly good food, and I was lucky enough to prosper from some amazing farms and meet the hard-working and passionate farmers behind them. Visits to my local farms were among some of my favorite experiences this year. From strawberry picking at Mountain Meadow Farms to spending a Sunday at Blue Whistler Farm, 2016 was the year that I truly tasted the difference and, as a result, set higher standards for the produce and meat that I was consuming and discovered the undeniable positive impact local farming provides for my community.
4. Meeting the Family Luke and I went to England this summer and after a year and a half of dating, I was finally able to meet all of his family. I was pretty nervous initially, but they welcomed me in right away and I cherish the time I got to spend with them and am already looking forward to our next visit. I’ve heard several in-law “horror stories” and I feel really lucky to be with someone whose family treats me as one of their own.
5. Clean Beauty Journey After learning about the health hazards and toxins in the personal and cosmetic products I use every day, I have spent the last half of the year converting the products in my medicine cabinet and make-up bag to non-toxic options. The synthetic ingredients in these products have been proven, in most cases, to be a prominent factor in the development of cancer, they wreak havoc on the reproductive, endocrine, and respiratory systems, and they have been linked to allergies and skin conditions such as dermatitis and acne. And the worst part? The companies making these products have absolutely no unbiased over-sight by the FDA. We are literally paying for products filled with chemicals that are hazardous to our health. For me, the choice to cut toxins was not necessarily to benefit my health. Similar to my feelings about America’s food “industry” developed over the last couple of years, I could no longer fathom supporting deceitful companies by spending my money on their dishonest products. Once I’ve gathered some accurate opinions on alternative products, I plan to write informative posts about my clean beauty journey.
6. Tea at Sketch One of the biggest “pinch me” moments of 2016 was most definitely experiencing the wonderful world of multi-themed tearoom and restaurant Sketch in London (Read about my visit here). Although most would consider afternoon tea at Sketch a luxury, I thought it was worth every penny because it created a memory that I will cherish forever. And I don’t think I will ever visit a more posh restroom. ?
7. Starting a Life with Luke Luke toyed with the idea of going back to business school last year and we were packing up a U-Haul to move to North Carolina 10 months later. It’s been a year filled with changes; moving out of my childhood home, getting accustomed to a new city, figuring out how to live with a romantic partner, finding a new job, making new friends – I would be lying if I said all of it wasn’t overwhelming. But there’s no one else I’d rather have holding my hand while I watch everything around me change than Luke. Adjusting to this new chapter has been the furthest thing from easy, but it has strengthened our relationship every day and I am so proud of the man that I am building a life with.
8. Buying a Full-Frame Camera I finally took the plunge of buying a truly “professional” camera this year (you know, only two years after graduating with a degree in photography…) and it has been fun to familiarize myself with my new professional powerhouse (and I think it’s made Luke enjoy photographing for the blog a lot more ?).
9. Being Home for the Holidays It’s still such a surreal feeling coming back to my family’s house and being a visitor. I lived in my childhood home for almost 20 years so it’s taken some adjusting to feel comfortable in my new apartment that’s so far away from my family. When I returned for the first time, I realized that while everything had changed in my life, my friends and family were still there doing what they’d always done. It was an eye-opening realization for me to come home and think about how if I’d stayed there for familiarity, my life would be on such a different path – one that would involve taking the long way around to accomplish my goals and dreams. I really enjoyed being able to come home for the holidays for the first time and am so thankful for a family that welcomes me “home” with open arms, but also accepts that I now have a new home.
What are some of your best nine moments, memories, or progress of 2016??? Tell me below!
“Two Thousand Sixteen Best Nine”
Written by Emily
All Photographs © Epicurean Emily