Here are my nine best (read: favorite) pictures of 2016!
Working the Drew Holcomb concert in March
D.C. trip in May
#SurpriseBestFriendTrip in NYC in June
Olympics party in August
Kasey’s visit in August
Watching the boys play soccer in September
Anthony’s wedding in October
Thanksgiving in November
NYC trip in December
One of my favorite things to do when I can stay up late, so usually on Friday nights only, is to catch up on Jimmy Fallon. I always manage to find some of the most hilarious videos there. Most of these will probably be those. Not all, but most.
- This Is Us–If you haven’t seen this TV show, you are literally missing out. It’s really well done. I rarely think that about NBC shows, but this one is definitely one of the best. I’m really looking forward to watching this in 2017.
- Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life–Regardless of how you feel about the ending, it was good to watch these. It was fun to have the Gilmore Girls back for a little bit.
- Homeland–I binge watched this one week in the summer, and I will be honest. It’s intense. But, I did find it really interesting. If you’re looking for something lighthearted, this isn’t it.
- Below Deck Mediterranean–My friend Elizabeth told me about this show when she came up to visit me this summer, and in about three days, I’d watched all the episodes. Ridiculous, but that’s just what happens in the summer. It’s a reality show about the crew of a yacht, and I thought it was really good!
Charlotte has so many great places to eat, to dessert, to relax, etc. This is mainly going to be restaurants in the CLT area that I have grown to really enjoy!
- Paco’s Tacos: Located in the South Park area of Charlotte, this fun Tex-Mex restaurant is one of the best in Charlotte. It’s a great place to get chips and salsa, as well as guacamole (if that’s your thing) or tacos. My mom’s a fan of their soup, and I always get their chicken nachos.
- Duck Donuts: This isn’t a Charlotte only kind of place, but it’s not a chain, either. They have locations all up the East Coast, but the one in Dilworth is the only one I’ve been to. SO good. Different than Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts because they are more like old fashioned donuts. Honestly, I’ve started to really like these better!
- Whiskey Warehouse: They claim to have the best rooftop patio in Charlotte, and I think they do. Their food is good, but it’s really the location that sells this restaurant. It’s in the Plaza Midwood area of CLT, and the views from the rooftop patio are out of this world.
- Zada Jane’s: Also located in Plaza Midwood, this restaurant is a classic twist on something different. There are plenty of veggie/organic options as well as plenty of meat lover options. It’s so good!
- Crepe Cellar: This is in NODA, a really cool area near Plaza Midwood. We went here for a birthday celebration, and the French lover in me enjoyed this place so much. Definitely one to check out if you’re visiting CLT.
- The Peculiar Rabbit: Okay, so clearly I like to hang out in the Plaza Midwood area. This is a great place for all meals, but I’m a personal fan of their brunch. It’s also three stories, so there are lots of great seating options!
- Midwood Smokehouse: Obama came here, so if going to places where the President went is your thing, then this is your place. But really, it’s a great BBQ place, and I really like it. Of course, it’s also in the Plaza Midwood area.
- The King’s Kitchen: While Paco’s is more than likely my favorite place on this list, The King’s Kitchen is the one that I want you to visit the most. It’s classic Southern food with a mission. They work with The Dream Center in Charlotte to employ homeless/those in poverty, 100% of the proceeds go to feed the homeless in Charlotte, and all of the food is local. Definitely worth your money.
- Dandelion Market: Emma Kate and I randomly came upon this place when she was in town, and it was the best stumble upon ever. It was so good. It’s like a little Irish pub. You don’t even feel like you’re in CLT when you’re there. It’s really so great.
2016 was hard in lots of ways. Sammy Rhodes tweeted that 2016 was what the French call les incompetents (perfect quote from Home Alone). It was a really hard year for me in a multitude of ways. However, it was special, and below are some of the best experiences/moments of the year for me.
- Joining Oakhurst: I became a member of my church in March, and I’m so grateful for that place and those people. I could not imagine a sweeter community to be a part of. They are truly my Charlotte family!
- Finishing My First Year of Teaching: Wow, was it a year. Everyone always said the first year was the hardest, and my word, yes it was. So glad that is behind me!
- Mom Coming Up For Mother’s Day: Mom came up for just one night, and we had a lot of fun! It was really a fun weekend spent shopping and eating lots of good food, two things we do best!
- #SurpriseBestFriendTrip: By far, one of the best weeks ever. Kaila and I had a blast driving almost 2,000 miles, sleeping in three different states, paying LOTS of money in tolls, and seeing lots of new things.
- Surprising My Dad For Father’s Day: It was super fun to get to surprise my dad on Father’s Day. After driving close to 2,000 miles, I wasn’t planning on spending Father’s Day in AUG, but I changed my mind last minute and it was worth it!
- Celebrating ONE Year in Charlotte: Wow. What a year. There were times that I thought I would never make it one year, so I’m so thankful to have celebrated on year in CLT.
- Kaila and Patrick’s Wedding: That weekend was so fun! I laughed so much, got to be with some of my favorite people, and watched my best friend marry a really great guy. All in all, a high of this year!
- Greenville Weekend: In September, I went to Greenville one weekend to hang out with EK and go to a mini camp reunion of sorts. It was really one of the best weekends of the year–incredibly refreshing and loads of fun. So thankful for those people who are only two hours away now!
- Family Weekend: My grandmother fell in late October, and the weekend after her fall, a whole slew of us came to Augusta to see her one last time. I’d had an incredibly hard week at work, so it was hard to get away, but I’m so glad I did. It was really a special weekend with my family!
This is just going to be a conglomeration of random fun things I found this year that became some of my new favorites!
- Strawberry Gatorade has become my new favorite drink. I randomly got this when on a road trip and I stopped at a gas station. Since then, I find myself searching for it whenever I go to grocery stores that have it. SO good!
- Women’s Birkenstocks–okay, I know I know. BUT, these are cute. And trendy! So fun. I really like these. Even if they may not be as cute as other sandals. But, I think they are. And they’re comfortable.
- Selfie Stick–my poor friends. They’re probably so sick of this thing. I bring it out all the time. But it’s so fun! Who doesn’t love a good selfie? I do!
- This pencil sharpener has changed my pencil sharpening at work. Totally nerdy, I know, but if you need a pencil sharpener that gets the job done, this is the one you should buy.
- Old Navy Knit Swing Dress–this dress has changed the game for dressing for work. Almost every Monday, when I just want to crawl back in bed, I throw one of these on (I will not admit how many of these I have) with some leggings and it makes going to work after the weekend much better. So comfortable!
- My Otterbox for my phone. This case is different. It has a very convenient little compartment on the back that slides open so you can put your license and a credit card or two in it. So useful when going to the gym or just running to the store. And it comes in pink!
- Organic Fruit Ropes by Clif Bars. These are basically organic Fruit Rollups. They are so good. I could eat one every single day if I had them. I want one now just writing about them.
- Lipless–the game. My mom had me order this back in October for our Christmas Eve game night. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to play it on Christmas Eve, but we did play it on Thanksgiving. It is SO much fun to play. Prepare yourself to cry from laughing so much!
- Bean Boots–I got my first pair of Bean Boots this fall, and I like them so much! They are comfortable, warm, and worth the cost. Plus, L.L. Bean has incredible customer service! I am always one to pay more for good customer service!
By no means will this be a post about music that is the most popular music of this day. I am not usually one who listens to what is super popular. I like what I like. Also, not to sound super preachy, but for me, I’ve really noticed that when I listen to “unclean” music, my thoughts are super unwholesome. But, if I fill my mind with “clean” or Christian music, my thoughts and therefore my actions, are much better. So, all that to say, here my best nine albums of 2016 (not all were let out/recorded in 2016 just discovered by me in 2016).
- 30: Three Decades of Songs for the Church by Sovereign Grace Music. We sing LOTS of Sovereign Grace at church. This album has all of my favorites on it, and I really enjoy this album. It’s become my go-to album for worship music this year. My favorite song is “The Glories of Calvary”.
- Gun Shy by Matt Wertz. I sort of rediscovered Matt Wertz this year (his album 23 Places will always be one of my favorites). This album is so very different from his others. Kasey was in the car with me when I had this playing and she kept saying, “Matt Wertz? Really?”. Really. It’s catchy, upbeat, and perfect for playing on a long car ride. Hard to pick a favorite, but my two are “Committed” and “YKWYK”.
- After All These Years: A Collection by Andrew Peterson. I told my friend Kelly recently that I want Andrew Peterson to just write the soundtrack of my life. The way he writes songs that are good songs but have actual content and depth to them is just mind-boggling to me. I’ve had this one going non-stop ever since I got it. Favorites are: “After All These Years”, “Dancing In The Minefields”, and “Romans 11 (Doxology)”.
- Hymns for Her by Dave Barnes. In my rediscovery of Matt Wertz, I remembered Dave Barnes. I’ve listened to him a time or two, but I really started listening to him this summer (thank you, Spotify Premium). Someone described this album as really mature, and I agree. “Mississippi” is my favorite on this album.
- Austin Stone Worship Band. We sing LOTS of Austin Stone at church as well. I like many of their songs, but haven’t invested in one single album yet. My two favorite songs are “Jesus Is Better” and “You Never Change”.
- All Sons & Daughters. This band is one of my favorites, and in doing this research, I found out that their newest album, Poets & Saints, has been nominated for a Grammy. Super cool. Anyway, my favorite song (of this year, probably) is on this most recent album, “You Hold It All Together”.
- Good Light by Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors. My friend Michelle and I had the privilege to work the merch table for the Drew Holcomb concert in March. I already had his album, Medicine, so when we got to pick out an album as a thank you gift, I picked out this one. So good. Favorites on this one are, “Good Light” and “Tennessee”.
- The Burning Edge of Dawn by Andrew Peterson. Like I said, he’s writing the soundtrack of my life, whether he knows it or not. Another fantastic one. It got 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon. How often does that happen? “Be Kind to Yourself” is by far my favorite, but “The Rain Keeps Falling” comes in as a close second.
- “Hallelujah for the Cross” by Newsboys. Okay, really. I couldn’t tell you the last time I listened to Newsboys (maybe when they were on the cruise we went on when I was in college?). Not even sure. When my pastor’s wife, Carrie, told me we were singing a song by them, I might’ve rolled my eyes. BUT, this is so good. We sang it one Sunday night, and I went home and bought it that night off iTunes.
2016 was a year of lots of travel for me! I will even end the year by traveling. I’m constantly desiring to go to new places, and this year was definitely a year full of NEW places mixed in with some of my all time favorites.
- Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: I went to Georgetown two times this year, and I definitely fell in love with it! I wish I’d made more time to explore there when Kaila and I went on our trip. It is really such a fun and cute place. If going, I’d recommend to eat at Pinstripes or The Tombs.
- Charleston, S.C.: If you’d told me ten years ago that I’d become a fan of Charleston, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, I have. I’ve managed to go there three times in the last two years, and I’m itching to go back. It’s the perfect amount of beach and history for me, as well as plenty of shopping and local places to eat at. A few favorites are Kaminsky’s, Five Loaves, and Hyman’s.
Rainbow Row, Charleston
- Washington, D.C.: Besides exploring Georgetown, I have done the same things in D.C. the last two times I’ve been there that I did the first time I went in middle school. I could probably go and do the same thing each time and not get bored. I just really enjoy our nation’s capitol! Favorite restaurants include: Founding Farmers and Ted’s Bulletin.
The White House, Washington, D.C.
- Manchester, Vermont: Oh, man, I have definitely found my new happy place, and I literally cannot wait to go back someday. Beautiful scenery, excellent shopping, and a quaint town? I could not ask for more. Great restaurants include: Mulligan’s and Ye Olde Tavern. I also think, if looking for accommodations, The Equinox, should be where you stay. No pressure.
The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa
- Philadelphia, PA: I think I spent all of 3 hours in Philly. That’s maybe being generous, too. I would change a few things about our trip if I could, and one would be spending more time in Philly. We did manage to find this area, Elfreth’s Alley, that was just adorable. I’d definitely recommend going there.
Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia, PA
- Bennington Potters, Bennington, VT: My friend Kelly told me about this place, and since it was only about twenty minutes away from where we were staying, Kaila and I decided to check it out. I may or may not have developed a new love of pottery in the hour we spent there. So great. If you’re ever in South Vermont, you should go there.
Bennington Potters, Bennington, VT
- Greenville, SC: Greenville has recently been voted as one of the best places to visit or something like that, and I couldn’t agree more. However, my reasoning might be quite different: one of my best friends lives there, as do many more of my dear friends. Soooo, I’m a fan. But, there is a great downtown scene, so even if you don’t have loved ones there, you should visit. Some favorite places include: Coffee Underground, Soby’s on the Side, Southern Pressed Juicery, Spill the Beans, and Tandem (in Traveler’s Rest).
The view from Kasey & Aaron’s old house, in Traveler’s Rest, SC (close to Greenville).
- Davidson, NC: Davidson is the cutest little town just north of Charlotte. I love that little town. Almost every time someone comes to visit, I take them there. I think it is adorable. I haven’t yet eaten at Kindred, but I want to. I have, however, found lots of cute stores to shop in!
- Hilton Head Island, SC: HHI is our family’s favorite vacation spot. We go there every year, and I love that little island. Mom and I went for a couple of days after Kaila’s wedding, and it really is a relaxing place. Favorite restaurants include: Fiesta Fresh, New York City Pizza, and The Smokehouse.
South Forest Beach, Hilton Head Island, SC