I don’t write many personal posts anymore for different reasons but it’s nice to put an end-of-year post out there in case someone is interested. It is also nice to see how great the year actually was. Yes, 2023 was a good year and it makes me happy seeing the highlights.
A very important highlight is always having the privilege of turning a year older and being healthy. I celebrated my 48th birthday in February. So yes, soon it’s my birthday again 🙂
Visit to the Florida Keys
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I was lucky to visit my friend Aniko in her camper in the Florida Keys. It was only for 3 days and we packed as much fun as we could into those days. I’m so glad that I got to do this. I had never been to The Keys and the way that I traveled there was also a bit different.
Aniko’s husband and sons were traveling for 3 days and flying out of Fort Lauderdale. So Aniko mailed me one of her car keys, I flew to Fort Lauderdale at the same time her family was leaving. Her husband texted me a photo of the parking location of their Dodge RAM F3500, and I then drove it from Fort Lauderdale to the state park where they were camped out at. I am not going to lie, I had never driven a pickup truck let alone such a big one, and driving it out of a tight airport garage or on a 6-lane highway was next level. For the first hour, my adrenaline was pumping LOL and I was nervous. But it was so much fun and I feel accomplished. I’m also thankful for them putting so much trust in me. I booked my flight at the same time when they arrived back as well and it worked out great.
I love the vibe of Key West. And would love to spend more time there.
Also, check out the Isla Bella Beach Resort (Knights Key) where we had dinner one night. It’s so pretty!
We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in NYC. And instead of jewelry or other expensive gifts, we got our wedding date as a tattoo. I have it on my ring finger which I love because I always felt guilty for not wearing my ring. The original one has given me hives ever since I had our daughter and I either love wearing different rings or no rings because I work on so many projects. I don’t want to ruin the rings. So this works out and I don’t need to feel guilty when I don’t wear anything on my ring finger.
There is also a funny story behind our tattoo. We did a random walk-in in the meet-packing district. Below you can see the guy tattooing my finger. A couple of months later I was scrolling the feed of @watchingnewyork‘s feed on Instagram and I came across a photo of the guy who tattooed us and his girlfriend. We got to meet her that day too. Johnny Cirillo (@watchingnewyork) is a street fashion photographer with 1.2 million followers and he actually recently shot Free People‘s (my favorite clothing brand) catalog on the streets of Paris. I love following him and seeing all the unique people he spots on the streets of NYC. What are the odds that he took a photo of the guy who tattoed us especially since I think he isn’t even a legit tattoo artist (I couldn’t find him on the shop’s website)?
Have you ever been to Little Island New York City? It’s pretty cool and has amazing views.
My boys in Germany without me
My son worked at Cummins Diesel in Germany for a month and my husband said it was his turn to go again because he hadn’t been to Germany in 4 years. I had to stay behind because our daughter still had school and soccer.
To get our son to Germany was an entirely different crazy story which is why I included a photo of him in front of the passport agency in New York City. I ordered him a new passport three months before his trip and two weeks before his trip he still didn’t have a passport. I originally had thought, well no big deal, he can just travel with his German passport but no you can’t which still doesn’t make any sense to me. But he legally has to enter the US with his American passport.
Every day we tried to get him a passport appointment and couldn’t get one. He even went to the Philly office to see if he could get one in person. But nope! And you can only get an emergency appointment if someone is dying and you literally have to have documentation that you are telling the truth. We were all panicking!
Someone told me to write to our local state representative to see if that office could help us. So I figured it couldn’t hurt. Three days before his flight I wrote to congresswoman Susan Wild‘s office with our dilemma and they came through the day before his flight with a passport appointment in New York City. We had just gotten back from our trip to NYC and my husband drove him back to NYC. The next morning both of them were able to catch their flight back in New York City. What a crazy nailbiter this was and I was convinced he’d probably have to stay home. We got so lucky. So if you ever have a similar issue, contact your state rep.
I had never thought it would get this bad because when our son was little, I noticed on the day that we were traveling that his passport had expired and we got a last-minute passport appointment in Philly and drove from there to Newark.
My husband stayed for two weeks and my son a month. It was nice for my family to spend time with both of them.
Annual Avalon beach vacation
We were lucky enough to have been able to spend two weeks at the Jersey shore again. I also went back in August to spend time with my brother and family at the beach and at home. I love that they were able to visit us again after 7 years. Hopefully it won’t be that long until they come again.
That brings me to my favorite little project/blog post of 2023. I love the seashell tassels I made from all my favorite shells I found over the years. I’m always searching for ways to use them in my home decor.
Speaking of seashells, remember the antique wooden dough bowl decorated with evergreens, antlers, and pinecones for my Christmas home tour? When the greenery dried up crunchy, I redecorated the bowl with all my seashells, a big piece of driftwood, and pink salt tea light holders. I love how it looks. You can also see the black and white cat pillow that I got for Christmas. I love it.
Maya likes the new pillow too!
I feel like I just wrote a blog post about my son heading off to college and then I blinked and he is a junior in college who turned 21. He also came home and our friends met us at the local bar. In the below photo taken at that bar, I think you can see how much he actually looks like me. Unlike my daughter, he doesn’t mind if I share photos of him.
Speaking of my daughter she is a junior in high school and turned 17. Having her drive now feels so different.
After a good junior year of high school soccer, she is ending the year with a bad chin splint that went into her bone and now she has a stress fracture. I feel really bad for her. She is also one of the reasons I post less personal stuff and fewer photos because she hates it.
Better Homes & Gardens Stylemaker Event
I’m always happy to find another invite in my inbox to the annual BHG Stylemaker Event in New York City. I got to spend 3 days with my blog friends. It is inspiring to pick other people’s brains who are creatives and bloggers and I always come back recharged and ready to tackle the next project.
(I still have to write a blog post about it.)
Believe it or not, my Halloween burlap mask was my most popular video on my YouTube channel in 2023 in such a short time. It also was a fun project to come up with it. Here are my husband and I each wearing our mask before the annual neighborhood party.
My trip to Germany alone
I did get to go to Germany again too the day after Halloween. I spent two weeks in my hometown with my family. It went by way too fast again. I love going by myself now because I can just sit with my parents who are in their 80s now and not feel guilty that the rest of my family is bored.
I don’t share many photos of that trip because my brother and family don’t like being out there on social media and the internet. It’s always tricky with privacy. While I was there I literally only had one nice day where it didn’t rain and I took a day trip alone for some shopping and revisiting my favorite spots in Würzburg (below) where I went to school.
I also got to meet up with my highschool girlfriends for dinner which was so nice. We had so much fun.
Christmas is my favorite time of the year for decorating and for my blog. This year I really focused on making/crafting a lot of decor and I enjoyed it so much. My favorite Christmas project for 2023 are my little mushroom ornaments.
There is always the hope that the content will do good on Google and Pinterest too of course. It’s a big concern of mine that my blog could go downhill. All the different artificial intelligence is certainly a big worry of mine and all my blog friends. The latest Google updates and the fact that cookies will go away are adding to it as well.
All we bloggers can hope for is that people who read blogs will still prefer the “real” person behind the blog and the fact that it’s not written by an AI. It’s just really scary! People just love consuming everything through social media and reading a long blog post like this is rare. That’s why TikTok and Instagram reels do so well because it is a fast way of consuming content. I personally don’t like it at all which is why I’m barely posting on social media anymore. It is one of my new year’s resolutions though to be better at posting on those channels. Let’s see…
One of our rare family photos was taken at our local Christmas tree farm where we get one real tree. This year it was the smaller tabletop tree in the corner of our living room.
Our three fur babies are doing well, so well they didn’t even need a dental cleaning this year and I’m so thankful. Walter and Willy still hate each other and while they are battling Maya took over as boss lady/queen. I just wish our two boys would get along better.
Last week boss lady Maya was making awful sounds while looking at our patio. I noticed that she was eye to eye with a new feral kitty.
Below he is on our porch and he reminds me so much of our Monkey (read more here) who started out as a porch cat. I’m saying he because I think it’s a boy with that shape of face and other body parts I noticed. I have been putting food out for him but don’t want him to cause more territorial issues with my two male cats. It’s always such a difficult balance and since mine can go outside into their catio it’s not an easy balance to keep.
Willy is still obsessed with coming outside on his leash with me. He has relaxed a bit more now that we are inside as a family but in the warmer months, he is one unhappy kitty if I don’t take him outside with us.
Another story is that Walter got out after we had a new sliding glass door installed and he fell into the stock tank pool. He is cured of wanting to go outside now for a while. I’m still not sure how he managed to do that. Now they wear an Apple Airtag during the warmer months when the doors open more frequently.
I hope you also had a good 2023 and if you didn’t then I hope 2024 will be better. HAPPY NEW YEAR!