2017: YEAR IN REVIEW
2017 didn't turn out exactly how I planned in my head at the end of 2016. I had just (finally) graduated from college and was gearing up to start the first job that I had applied for, following my epic Japanese Winter vacation. My hopes of being a 9-5er were short-lived when the non-profit grant that was supposed to fund my position unexpectedly ended. I came home to the U.S. with a broken spirit yet so happy that I had decided to keep one shift at the restaurant. As I reflect on the past twelve months, not including the current state of the world, I had a pretty good year. Of course, the self-deprecator in me often comes through and I also feel like a loser who accomplished nothing. I constantly have to slap myself out of it. This was a truly memorable year. I traveled SO much. I saw SO many incredible places, met new people, and reconnected with so many loved ones. I'm appreciative to have a wonderful job at an amazing restaurant that allows me to live my best life.
Take a walk down memory lane with me!
A year later, I am still in awe of our holiday trip to Japan. It was planned perfectly and everything was magical. It was our first time to the country and we thankfully had our friend Enna as a language/etiquette guide. We went to the Chiba prefecture to watch the first sunrise of 2017 on the beach. The beach was packed, it was freezing, and I might've still been drunk. Oops. Even though, NYE is not that big of a deal in Japan, we still partied like Americans. We spent the rest of New Year's Day at a Buddhist temple , where we prayed with monks and ate festival food. I believe this experience truly impacted my mindset for the rest of the year.
I spent most of the month enjoying not being in school and picking up shifts at the restaurant. Donald Trump's inauguration was rapidly approaching and the Women's March in Washington D.C. was scheduled for the following day. I had been contemplating attending the march but was feeling nervous. How much fuckery could I expect? Would it be safe? At the last minute, Summer, Andrea, Jenny, and I literally rallied and attended an unforgettable worldwide protest. Washington D.C. was ON FUEGO. There were so many people that we basically couldn't even march. The energy was intoxicating and I truly appreciated living in close proximity to our nation's capital. I can't believe I considered NOT going!
Chinese New Year was in January this year and I don't watch the Superbowl anymore, so no early February celebrations. Of course, we celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary! Recovering from our vacation, we kept it low-key with dinner around town and gifted each other a bidet and an electric kettle. #domesticated. February is pretty uneventful unless I'm going on vacation ! Here is a cute picture of the most precious love birds.
I can't even remember if it snowed in February. I do remember this unseasonably warm day tho. While my girlfriends were planning their Thailand extravaganza, I started to get some serious FOMO. I still didn't have a permanent schedule at the restaurant and I found a ticket from New York to Bangkok for $700. This trip was happening during my birthday and I decided to visit my grandfather in the Philippines. I magically got a $700 tax return and I figured it was a sign! Cannot believe I was about to make the voyage across the Pacific twice in three months.
Ok, don't judge. This picture was taken with an iPhone 6. It's the only proof that I saw Cher live! My Mom and I did some mother-daughter bonding and saw Cher at the MGM National Harbor. We ate sushi burritos, played penny slots, and watched one of the greatest performers of all time sing her hits over the past five decades. We took the train to up and stayed in Old Town Alexandria. We had margaritas for lunch and I had to find the only matcha latte on King Street. We took a water taxi across the harbor to the casino and hung out before the show. The MGM is a fairly new venue, so it didn't have much shopping but the beautiful conservatory totally made up for it. My mom used Uber for the first time and overall, it was a super fun girls trip.
Cher, the first day of Spring and joining the gym were the most exciting things to happen in March. I honestly do not come alive until April.
April is my birthday month and while I am trying to quit birthday diva antics, I still enjoy pampering myself all month long. It was time for my annual haircut and I went drastic. I let go of 10 inches of hair and donated to Children With Hair Loss. FYI: They accept as little as 8 inches and your hair can color-treated (but still healthy). Plus, they send you newsletters and tell you about the children who are getting wigs and that is my favorite part!
We kicked off April with a trip to NYC to celebrate Adam and Sean's 1-year wedding celebration. They got married in a private ceremony the year before and it was time to party! We had a faux bachelor party with real hangovers. James and I hadn't been to the city together in awhile, so it was fun to walk around while I tried to hit all the matcha bars. It was an incredible weekend, indulging with our best friends. A few weeks later, we attended the wedding of our friends, Mike and Sam. We drank mojitos, ate plantains, and danced all night. I freakin love weddings, y'all!
After I impulse purchased a ticket to SE Asia, I started feeling hella anxious. Like who the f did I think I was? Not only was I flying across the world for the 2nd time in 3 months, but I also had to get my ass to New York City to fly out of JFK. So I took an Amtrak to NYC, chilled with friends, before leaving on a 1:15am flight to Taipei. Everyone should fly EVA AIR. It is so luxurious. JUDY HACK: Opt for a vegetarian meal and you get to eat first! I was meeting my girls on the tail end of their Thai Island extravaganza and we were gonna hang in Bangkok before I went to the Philippines. #jetsetters. It was a quick trip but I got a great idea of what Thailand is all about (temples and street food and the most amazing massage I'll ever get). I need to go back ASAP and bring James with me. The highlight of the trip was eating at Gaggan on my birthday. An incredible dining experience that you can read all about here.
On May 1, I went to the Philippines, while Enna went to Malaysia and we sent Andy & Lauren back to the United States. My grandparents moved back to the Philippines in 2002 after living in Hawaii for almost 50 years. They were so happy to retire in their homeland and my entire family was fortunate enough to visit them twice before my Grandma unexpectedly passed away in 2013. My family hasn't been back since my Grandma's funeral and I really wanted to see my Grandpa! Enna was meeting me a few days later and I booked a hotel on the beach, which was about 25 minutes from the city where my Grandpa lives. It's okay because he just plays bingo at the mall all day. The Buzz Cafe is my favorite spot to eat because everything is organic and locally sourced!
I absolutely loved being in the Philippines (even though radical terrorists had also made their way on the island the same week) and showing Enna the beauty of my most favorite place on Earth.
I had an emotional experience at the oldest Catholic Church in the Philippines and it left me feeling some type of way. I was meeting my ladies for lunch upon my return and I walked up to Welsy and the first thing I said was, "So when are you having a baby?" and she replied with, "I'M PREGNANT!" It was our reason for gathering. It was a crazy moment for sure and I just couldn't be happier for my friends.
Before we knew it, Summer had arrived! (Not friend Summer, but the season hehe) The heat and humidity were back in action! Enna moved back from Japan and in with us! We had a nice little picnic in Byrd Park to celebrate kicking off the season of fun.
In the middle of June, James and I went to California with my family. We were celebrating my cousin Jordan's high school graduation. My family rented a baller ass house in Yorba Linda, which was a fun experience. Spent most of our time in Orange County, hung out in L.A. for a day before spending time in San Diego with old friends. I was born and mostly raised in California and I love the Golden State so freaking much. This trip made me realize how much I need tropical heat because I got so DRIED OUT. My skin, my hair, my throat! I have come to terms with the fact that I'll probably never live in California again.
Making leis with my family, I love when we are all together. Don't ask me to make you a lei though because I already forgot.
I got a tarot card reading from Barbara at the Aquarian Bookshop during one of their many psychic faires. It seemed promising but tbh, nothing really came to fruition. However, I have since learned that tarot card readings are NOT for fortune telling. The power is not in the cards but in my subconscious mind. The cards give me the tools to make the best out of my current situation.
We always go to the Outer Banks with James' family every Summer. I had never even heard of this string of barrier islands until my first trip in 2008. It is a week of sun & fun with the family and I look forward to this trip every year! Of course, it was actually one million degrees right before we left and our air conditioning went out! I couldn't leave my babies in a warm house! My friends rallied and let us borrow AC units and naturally, our home system started working before we even left. PHEW!
Lauren was in town in July and we saw the Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style exhibit. It was truly remarkable. Every time I stepped into a different room, I continued to be in awe. How lucky are we that this exhibit came to Richmond, VA? The exhibit showcased every era of YSL, from the beginning sketches to his final runway collection. It was super inspiring!
The Summer heat in Richmond is usually miserable but August is always the worst. So balmy and sweaty and I never want to leave the house! However, my most favorite food festival returns in August! The Filipino Food Festival!! We started coming to the festival about six years ago, when there were a handful of booths and plenty of places to sit. It has been growing larger every year and I'm so happy to have access to Filipino food in Richmond! I was extra excited this year because they were offering vegetarian options of a few classic meat-centered dishes! I always buy a plant at the festival and I'm happy to report that it's still alive!
We said our farewells to 2123, the purple haus that my girlfriends and I essentially grew up in. Lauren, Makiko, and I moved into the house in 2005 and it was a revolving door of people who lived there throughout the years. Our hunni Frances had been living there until she moved to California in late August! The house will more than likely be sold in the Spring and while I wish we could keep the house in our framily forever, it might be time for a new generation of hellion divas to rule Purp Haus. (Let's be real tho, some little hipster family will probably move in)
For the past couple of years, the Mystic Arts of Tibet tour has stopped in Richmond. A group of Tibetan monks come to town for 5 days where they create a sacred sand mandala by hand. People can visit the Holocaust Museum daily and watch as they create the intricate sand mandala by hand. It is truly meditative to watch, I can only imagine how serene it is to create. I went for the opening ceremony where they chanted and they drew out the plans for the mandala. At the end of the five days, they destroy the mandala and dispose of the sand into the river. (It's eco-friendly!) I love Buddhism. Everything is impermanent.
James' cousin Jon and his two friends Grant and Sarah came down from NYC for an impromptu visit over Labor Day weekend. I cannot tell you how much I love when out-of-towners come to Virginia! We ate, drank, and chilllllled. Their mission was to hit Busch Gardens-Williamsburg and we hit the coasters real hard !! Jon lost his phone on the Griffon and we truly shut down the park!
Our friends Chip and Laura got married in September. Then, my sister & niece came to visit from Las Vegas. Super exciting times! Other than that, it was a quiet month, which was nice because I felt like the first 8 months of the year were hectic. This fortune was a nice reminder to slow down and appreciate the stillness.
Wanderlust 108 is a yoga/wellness festival that travels the world spreading the message of mindfulness. I was excited to participate in their mindful triathlon but was incredibly disappointed by the entire event. You can read ALL about it here.
October is my second favorite month. I love this month for many reasons but especially because I get to celebrate my favorite Libra. He could care less about birthdays. We had a family brunch at Southbound, where we ate dessert first! This is a berry filled dutch pancake topped with peanut butter & jelly gelato. Pure decadence!
I was BEYOND stoked when my pal Caitlin asked if I wanted to attend a rally for our gubernatorial candidate, Ralph Northam. More importantly. Barack Obama was going to speaking and supporting this candidate!!! I feel really lucky to have been invited because it was such an incredible experience. I will always love you, Barry. (Btw, Northam won!)
Oh Halloween! Felt like it came out of nowhere. Every year, I start thinking about my costume in March but then I still somehow have nothing on October 30. Even when I don't plan, I can always throw something together. #humblebrag Luckily, I had a kimono and some face paint and got my zombie geisha on. I know it's a tired ass costume but I'd rather do that than not dress up at all !
Luscious Judy Headquarters FINALLY got an upgrade! Our sunroom has been painted this awful chocolate brown color for almost 10 years! There was linoleum flooring from the previous homeowner and my husband put down the blue area rug that I have always hated. After a stint with yellow jackets getting into the room through the wall, we remodeled the exterior. It was only a matter of time before the interior got some TLC. The room was painted a nice subtle pink shade named 'Conch Shell' and my in-laws helped us install wood flooring! These minor changes have really opened up the room and it is the most serene place to hang!
Just like that, Thanksgiving arrived. I don't believe in this fake holiday, therefore I don't like to celebrate it traditionally. Let us not forget about the indigenous Americans and the genocide they experienced. I highly doubt there was turkey involved. Anyway, James and I will stay home or go to a restaurant or eat at home. This year, I made a vegan lasagna and bought a vegan pumpkin cheesecake! When the baker asked if I wanted to write anything on it, this was the first phrase I could think of. Why do we have to wait until this one day to suddenly be grateful? Be thankful every day.
We went roller skating for a friend's birthday and I forgot how much of an intense workout it is! Not gonna lie, I am terrified about falling flat on my face and busting my teeth, so I roll pretty slow. I love how innocent this activity and I enjoy being around the childrens. They keep me young! The music was bumpin' and I ate pizza from the snack bar, so all in all, a great night! I highly recommend the Roller Dome, if you're looking to skate in the Richmond area!
Once Thanksgiving is over, things get crazy. Shopping is shoved down my throat as well as cookies and candy from every direction. I feel like I tried to hibernate through this December because I was not trying to leave my house and spend money. We did presents with family this year, but I'd really love to not give/receive presents next year. We much rather prefer experiences over material items.
Festa Dei Sette Pesci // The Feast of Seven Fishes
This is an Italian-American tradition that I first got introduced to the first time James brought me home for Christmas Eve. As an avid seafood lover, this dinner is a dream. My mother-in-law truly out does herself every year and the menu is always delicious. Raw oysters, clams casino, salted rockfish, scallops, mussels, shrimp...you name it, there is always more than seven fishes. The most perplexing fact I learned about this dinner was that James didn't eat seafood for his entire life before meeting me! So every year, he would only eat buttered noodles. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I turned him into a seafood enthusiast. He is proof that picky eaters can be changed.
In lieu of presents, James and I snuck in one last trip for the holidaze. We went to Seattle a couple days after Christmas to visit our friends Lauren & Matt and celebrate New Year's Eve. This was my first time ever using miles to buy a flight and James had time off from work, so the trip just fell into place. We had no real plans other than to eat and drink our way around Seattle, which is exactly what we did. On New Year's Eve, we went outside of city limits and got our nature on at Rattlesnake Lake. Although the weather was brisk, the Sun was shining, so we didn't mind it too much. Can't wait to travel back during the Summer!
2017; another year in the books. How did 2017 turn out for you? Any big plans for 2018? I'm so excited for an even numbered year !