Looking back, 2013 felt a bit like two years crammed into one.
A lot of travel, designing, blogging and teaching happened. And I had a pretty good time during most of it which really is the most important part! I’ve always felt that we should be conscious and thankful for all the awesome moments in our lives in order to open the door to more of the same. This post is a big pile of gratitude dedicated to 2013 and features 25 moments in chronological order that made my year unforgettable.
It’s weird to think back and realize that our second ever Blogcademy just happened at the starting of this year. We taught in London in the middle of a blizzard which shut most of the city down. But, our blogcadettes were total troopers. So many of the ladies in this pair of classes made a big impact on us, including the super smart and stylish Xandra.
After Blogcademy, we headed out to a farm in Surrey to teach a social media course to photographers. I was completely obsessed with the main house which at a solid 500 years old, felt straight out of a fairytale. There used to be a recording studio on the property — David Bowie, Queen and Black Sabbath had camped out there in decades past. Gala and I wasted no time claiming Freddie Mercury’s bedroom for the night!
After a day on the farm, we packed up and took the Eurostar to Paris. Paris in the winter means that there’s no tourists in sight. And, it also means that you have to do a whole lot of acting for the camera when you’re getting rained on and freezing to death.
In April, Gala and Kat came to Portland to visit me for the first time and we spent some quality time crawling through my grumpy neighbor’s lawn, posing for Made U Look. And, visiting the Acropolis…because anything that’s good enough for Marilyn Manson is good enough for us.
Once our adventures in Portland were over, we headed down to LA. I brought Joey and Rocky, who happens to be named after Sly Stallone’s most famous character. We walked him down to his namesake’s star for a photo-op and he quite suddenly puked all over it. Thankfully, the rest of our time in LA went much more smoothly. Like good ol’ Americans, we took Kat to Disneyland to celebrate her birthday. And in our world, no birthday celebration is complete without matching ears.
Perhaps even better than our time at Disneyland? Meeting this way too perfect Michael Jackson impersonator.
Late Spring was spent in Portland just trying to catch my breath. With the rest of the year’s travels mapped out, I knew it was only going to get more crazy from that point onwards. I spent every moment I wasn’t working sitting at home, trying to soak up the calm and keep everything together.
In New York over the summer, we held our first meet-and-greet and got to hang out with a lot of the women who had joined us at our first Blogcademy the previous October. So much had changed by that point and it made me incredibly thankful to hang out with the ladies who had taken a chance and bought tickets when we were still trying to find our way. A standout from that first class? Latanya, who immediately took action after our workshop and turned her passion for blogging into a full-time gig.
While in New York, I engaged in my favorite night time activity: going clubbing with Bianca. The best spot? On Top at Le Bain, which features a hot tub in the center of the dance floor complete with a gleaming disco ball and an astroturf covered roof with a crepe stand. My idea of heaven.
After New York, Kat, Gala and I boarded a flight to Minneapolis. Our time there was one of the highlights of my year by far. That perfect lavender-infused latte at Spyhouse. Pride weekend. A visit to First Avenue. Guzzling booze out of a shrunken head. Meeting Alexandra Franzen for the first time. Sipping Sofia on a pontoon in Lake Minnetonka. Perfection.
A quick stop in Austin rekindled my love affair with the city big time. And, our Air BnB pad had dinosaur planters.
In August, Joey, Rocky and I headed down to the Oregon Coast for our annual Cannon Beach stay. My time at the beach gave me the opportunity to rock this weird neoprene dress I now refer to only as zipper hips.
Less than a week later, Gala, Kat and I headed off to the Greek Islands. It was the most surreal, beautiful place I’d ever been. We spent our nights perched on a private balcony watching cruise ships inch by while listening to 90s gangsta rap. Climbing the maze of steps through Santorini made me feel like I was in another world altogether.
A full week of unwinding in Greece was met with two back-to-back Blogcademy classes in London. Our London apartment featured some of the best wallpaper I’d ever seen (Gala always chooses well!)
After London, I headed off to New York for a few days. Bianca lives right on Wall Street and the novelty of getting up close and personal with our nation’s history never wears off for me.
Once I got home from New York, there was a 10 day window to celebrate my 32nd birthday, my third wedding anniversary with Joey and launch Branch. Intense doesn’t even come close to summing up that week and a half! Star visited Portland in the midst of it all and somehow made the madness feel manageable.
On September 25th, Branch went live. I had kept it under wraps for so long and honestly, I had no idea what to expect. Taking that chance was worth it — within one day, the next month was booked solid with projects.
A few hours after Branch launched, I headed off to LA for a meeting with one of my clients and then straight to Palm Springs for Designer Vaca. Hanging out with 50 other lady small business owners was just what my soul needed. Star and I spent a whole lot of time lounging by the hot tub, gossiping with friends and sipping Maneaters.
Heading back to Portland for a few weeks of no travel felt awesome. I met friends for coffee, settled into Branch life and got my bearings.
Working for myself full-time opened up the doors for a lot more spontaneity. Like this day trip to Cannon Beach with my brother where we hunted down an elusive bigfoot statue.
October felt really heavy because I knew that at the end of the month, I’d be leaving Joey and Rocky for close to a month, our longest time apart since we’d met. I completely dreaded it.
After a 13 hour flight, I woke up in Brisbane. The first week of our time down under was sponsored by Tourism Queensland which meant doing a whole bunch of things I couldn’t quite believe including zip lining through the rainforest, koala cuddling and taking a helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef. Our welcome to Australia was so over the top good that my homesickness quickly evaporated…for the first three weeks, anyway. 😉
During our time Down Under, we taught four Blogcademy classes in quick succession…and ended up on ABC News.
The cherry on top of our trip? A brief stay at Gala’s parent’s house in Wellington, New Zealand. Between the business advice, stylish surroundings and home-cooked meals, I was secretly hoping they would adopt me and that I could just move in.
In December, I finally got over my fear of entertaining thanks to a whole lot of pushing from Joey to make our holiday party happen. In the process, I realized that our house didn’t need to be picture perfect. People are what makes a house a home and having it filled with our friends and family for the night reminded me of what really matters.
Here’s to a big, exciting, fulfilling 2014. Thank you for joining me on this trip down memory lane. Wishing you an awesome new year!
Photos: Shauna Haider, Janneke Storm, Shell De Mar, Made U Look, Juliane Berry and June Cochran.