THE CITY GIRL IS BACK (GUIDE TO NYC’S MUST-DO’S)

The city girl returns!!! After 3 months living in my favorite city I am (sadly) back home in Georgia. BUT – the PAST 3 months have been the absolute best experience of my life, and I wouldn’t change them for anything.

From getting engaged in the Hamptons, to living on my own in a New York City apartment, to the best visitors, amazing food & fun things to do, and just living out one of my biggest dreams. I am so blessed to have spent this time living and working in NYC, and I am already missing it BIG TIME. but, for all of those who have been asking – HERE IT IS.

 

 My ultimate NYC LIST of all things to do, to see, to eat & more!!!!

Talk Shows: This was such a fun perk of living in the city – all of these shows have ticket lotteries where you can enter to win a FREE ticket to be an audience member at a live taping!! I got to experience Jimmy Fallon (my all time favorite), Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, & go to GMA’s Live Concert Series thanks to these raffles, and all for FREE!

  • Jimmy fallon
  • Seth meyers
  • Good Morning America
  • Stephen colbert
  • Today Show

Coffee: THE main attraction (for me atleast) – this city is filled with Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts on every corner but the real treasure is finding cute coffee shops with good vibes and delicious coffee. 

  • Dean & Deluca (xoxo Gossip Girl)
  • Paris Baguette
  • Matcha
  • BIRCH
  • Pietro Nolita (pink pink pink!!!!)
  • LRoom Cafe

 

Brunch: New York City’s meal of choice – there are so many yummy brunch spots hidden all over the city, but listed below are some of my favorites from this summer. Although, anywhere that serves bottomless mimosas is on the top of my list 😉 

  • Sarabeths (xoxo Gossip Girl)
  • Crooked Knife
  • Good Thanks
  • Penny Farthing
  • Alices Tea Cup (for all my Disney lovers)
  • The Loeb Boathouse
  • Flying cock
  • Macchina
  • Serra by Berraria (Instagram heaven)
  • Horny Ram NYC
  • Maisons Pickle / Jacobs Pickle
  • Jams
  • Freds at Barneys
  • Clinton Street Baking Co.
  • L’avenue
  • Big Daddys
  • by Chloe

 

Dinner: My summer was 70% take out dinners or Postmates delivery after fun NY adventures, Broadway shows, or a late night out, BUT here’s my favorite places to grab dinner the other 30% of the time!!!

  • Summer Cafe @ rockefeller plaza (the atmosphere / location / everything – on point)
  • Quality Italian
  • Catch (a personal favorite)
  • NOBU
  • Nello
  • Serafina
  • Koi
  • Buddakan NYC
  • Vandal 
  • Carbone
  • Balthazar
  • Inside the Park
  • B Side Pizza Bar
  • Frying Pan NYC
  • Gnoccheria by Luzzos
  • ChicknCone (quick dinner snack but SO worth it)
  • Melt Shop
  • Plaza Food Court
  • Bond St.
  • Sushi Seki
  • Gallow Green
  • Da Nico
  • Tao
  • Palma
  • Ocean Prime NYC
  • Hunt & Fish Club

 

Sweets: if you’re anything like me and have a MAJOR sweet tooth – check out these places for a yummy treat at any time of the day – they also make for a perfect #foodie Insta post, you’re welcome 😉

  • Magnolia Bakery
  • Baked by Melissa
  • SMORES bar in Hershey’s Time Square
  • Levain Bakery (TATBILB)
  • Chip NYC
  • Nutella Cafe
  • Schmackary’s
  • Dylan’s Candy Bar Cafe
  • Soft Swerve
  • Holey Cream
  • Serendipity
  • Tipsy Scoop (boozy ice cream – Y U M)
  • Ample Hills
  • Empire Cakes
  • Donut Plant
  • Milk Bar
  • Taiyaki 
  • KITH
  • Max Brenner’s
  • Laduree
  • Popbar
  • City Cakes
  • Amorino Gelato
  • Aux Merveilleux Bakery

 

Bars/Clubs: for a fun night out with friends or just to grab drinks on a pretty rooftop – check out these places for a good time!!!

  • Mother of Pearl
  • No Fun
  • Niagra
  • the Cauldron (for all the Harry Potter fans out there)
  • Le Bain Rooftop
  • St Cloud Rooftop
  • Rose Terrace Rooftop
  • Refinery Rooftop
  • The Skylark Rooftop
  • Elsie Rooftop
  • PHD Terrace
  • 230 5th Bar
  • STK
  • Skylark NYC
  • Honeywell
  • Naked Crab NY
  • Pod 39 (rooftop)
  • Tao
  • Lavo
  • 1Oak

 

The funnest of FUN THINGS: WOW! I did way toooo many things this summer to even begin to try to sum them all up in a list, but here’s my best attempt!!

  • the Met
  • MOMA
  • Museum of Sex
  • Color Factory
  • Rosè Mansion
  • Ice Cream Museum
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Yankees Game
  • Mets Game
  • Concert @ Madison Square Garden
  • Sojo Spa Club (for a relax day)
  • Broadway show (because duh)
  • Natural History Museum
  • Comedy Club
  • top of the Rock
  • Wall Street
  • Empire State Building
  • Drag Show (!!!!)
  • Highline
  • 9/11 memorial
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Sunset sail on the Hudson (10/10 recommend)
  • The Frick
  • Shopping in SOHO
  • The Whitney
  • Smorgasburg
  • Little Italy
  • Chinatown
  • Chelsea Piers
  • Sleep No More

 

sTaY tUnEd — for my BROADWAY SHOWS VLOG coming soon with a review of all the amazing shows I saw this summer in the city!!!

 

THANK YOU to everyone who supported me this summer (& always). You made moving to a new city and taking on the adult world all by myself MUCH easier to manage & I am so thankful! If you know me, you know its always been at the top of my bucket list to live in New York City, and to have that come true is an absolute dream. I’ll be back soon, NYC!

MY SUMMER IN NYC  V L O G : https://youtu.be/xmddUWyagyU

 

keep  S W I P I N G  for a mood board of my summer in the city —

 

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xx Hails

 

h a p p i e r

I sat down on December 30th and tried to write my blog about how great a year 2018 was, and how excited I was to start fresh in 2019. Like the two years prior, my “New Years” blog has always been a favorite of mine, where I got to reflect on my personal growth and adventures from the past 365 days and then make some resolutions for the year to come. Instead, I looked at the blank page on my Mac screen and felt no inspiration to write anything wonderful about 2018.

 

Now, that’s not exactly fair to 2018. It did have its moments, and those moments were some of the best of my entire life. Last February, my thirty best friends and family members came together in Disney to celebrate my 21st birthday, I travelled around the world to Mexico, Greece, Paris, and Rome, brought my little sister home to Alpha Delta Pi, spent time with some good people, and lastly, watched my perfect niece, Emerson Hope, make her way into the world.

I know what you’re thinking – how could that make for a bad year? I wouldn’t necessarily jump to saying I had a bad year in 2018, but it definitely ranks at the bottom when compared to the 20 that came before it.

 

2018 was a year of change. Change is a word I’ve never been exactly fond of, but this past year I learned the true definition of change and the wave of impact that tends to come along with it. There’s good change, and then there’s the not so good change that makes you feel like the sun might not come up tomorrow. After many (like many) days of going to sleep with that mindset, I have some news for you. It does. The sun comes up, and we try to move on as if a major change didn’t rock our worlds and change our lives forever. You look at the future in a different way than you did before; it looks less laid out and shiny. More prone to break and fall away at any moment. 2018 taught me that everything isn’t always the way it seems, and there are some situations where you have no control over the outcome. – This was a hard lesson to learn, as someone who likes to be in control of EVERYTHING, this was one of God’s lessons that took a while for me to make sense of.

 

I entered my senior year of college at UF on cloud 9, I had an amazing summer, a pretty great junior spring, and I was so excited to have my little sister in my town again. I was promised good change was to come, not the bad kind. I had that same optimistic outlook I always did on how my year would pan out, and true – that is partly due to how blessed I have been thus far in life. God has truly blessed me and never left me wanting or needing. Either way, I was ready to start out on senior year and felt I’d honestly be ready to enter the real world soon enough and start out on life. Boy, was I wrong. My classes were hard, and life was harder.

 

If I did anything in 2018, I learned. I learned that sometimes life feels unfair, and things happen out of nowhere, but we grow from those things and we eventually learn the purpose behind them. I learned how important family is, and not just in the way we say it casually on a day to day basis. Having my sister with me when I needed her the most was a gift I didn’t know I needed. Having siblings that actually check on you and care is so valuable and something I deeply treasure. I learned that maybe I’m not as good at expressing my emotions as I once believed I was, especially when it feels like no words match up with how you’re feeling. I learned that people lie. I learned that I am strong. I learned that life isn’t always the way we plan it. And most importantly, I learned that God most definitely will not give me anything I can’t handle and eventually overcome.

 

So, for a few months toward the end of 2018, I felt vacant. Like I was just existing instead of living. Like I couldn’t really see the point in things I used to enjoy, anymore. I was in a funk and I wasn’t writing, wasn’t being active, wasn’t feeling like me. I would wake up and go through my day in a fog, then do it all over again. Then one day I saw a quote while flipping through my phone that really stuck with me. It read “I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.” I know everyone deals with their own personal struggles and hard times, but for me this was it. This was my hardest time and my struggle, nothing had compared thus far in my life. These few words made me stop feeling sorry for myself and want to move forward. I chose to lift myself back up and spend each day trying to get better than I was the day before. I took December as a break to relax at home, travel with my family, and spend time with my friends. I worked out, I read, I lived better and fuller than I felt I had been living in months. Then New Year’s came, and I had no words to sum up my ill feelings toward a very confusing 2018, filled with a bunch of the ups and the downs. Yes 2018 did have its extremely sucky moments, but this isn’t about them. This is about moving forward, and that previously mentioned change for good.

 

 

So, instead of listing the best things that happened to me in 2018, or the highlight events and moments of growth that made up my year – I’m dragging 2018 to the trash bin and focusing on 2019. Not to having the perfect year in 2019, but just to being happier in 2019.

 

I was riding in the car yesterday morning and heard one of my current favorite songs called Happier, and that was it. Inspiration kinda just hit me and understanding finally dawned. This year instead of setting a bunch of resolutions for myself that I may or may not follow through with, I have one resolution and ultimate goal for 2019: To be happier.

 

My focus for this year is to wake up each day with the goal of being happy, or at least happier than I was the day before. No, this probably won’t happen every day, sucky things will still happen, but at least we’ll wake up each day and try again. We won’t lose, we’ll learn. We’ll be us and we’ll be happier for it.

So, yes of course I challenge all of you with the same goal that I am taking on this year. Don’t worry about losing weight, getting perfect grades, or getting organized (those are boring resolutions anyways). Set your sights on something bigger, something that impacts all of you and all those that surround you. Be happier.

 

For me – I’ve decided what that really means & how I’ll actually achieve this in my upcoming year. In 2019 I’m going to try to:

 

  • read & write more
  • make extra time to play with and walk my dogs
  • express my feelings
  • take even more trips to places I’ve never seen before
  • spend time with my boyfriend doing absolutely nothing – just being together.
  • get in as many cuddles as possible with Emerson Hope
  • enjoy every last minute of my Senior Year at the greatest school with the greatest people
  • eat better & hit the gym more
  • avoid meaningless arguments
  • send little texts/notes/surprises to the people I love and let them know how much I love them
  • really appreciate my family
  • enter the “real world” head on & excited for what’s to come

 

To those who have shown me endless support and love this year. Thank you.

To my family that was always by my side. Thank you for being a phone call away when I needed to talk and open arms when I needed a hug.

To my mom who deserves the world and more. Thank you for showing me what a strong woman looks like with never-ending grace.

To my friends who never made me feel like a burden and were always there for me. Thank you thank you thank you (& yes you know who you are).

To my boyfriend who can always make me smile and laugh. Thank you for being my strength and my go-to shoulder to cry on.

To my perfect Emerson who has brought our smiles back. Thank you for reminding of us of the good in this world.

To my  truly amazing God. Thank you for every minute, every chance, and every blessing.

 

I hope you all are happier in 2019.

xx Hails

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DEETS on my EATS

NEW YORK CITY EDITION

Here it is.

The highly anticipated & over-the-deliciousness of all things yummy in N Y C.

SO… Quick story behind this blog & lil foodie review of mine – I’ve been obsessing over all things beautiful, rare, & yum when it comes to food for the past few years, which I then to tend to Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook. I cannot tell you the amount of times people text, message, or snap me back asking “Where is this?”, “OMG what is that?”, and “Where should I go when I’m in New York City?”. (Guys- I swear this happens at least once a week or so!!!)

& here it is. The answer to all your questions & an easy guide for what to eat & where to get it on your next trip to NYC, or as I call it, the best city in the whole world. So, no more texting me to ask peeps!!!!! JK JK! But forreal use this, okay? Okay.

 

( MY TOP SNACKS & SIPS, EATS & TREATS IN NEW YORK CITY … in no particular order, because I seriously love them all )

 

QUALITY ITALIAN

Don’t let the name scare you, because it sounds like a scam to give your restaurant a title including “quality” or “good” or “best”, but I swear this restaurant is the absolute farthest thing from a scam. The chicken parmesan is not your grandma’s chicken parm, but instead, cooked into the shape of a pizza and cut into slices. Served best topped with a little honey, this chicken parm pizza will be your favorite appetizer on your whole trip. Another must try at Quality is the cream corn brulee, a deliciously sweet twist on the southern favorite, cream corn. Order it as a side, share it with your family, or eat it all yourself – I don’t care, just make it a top priority!!

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SHAKE SHACK

Shake Shack Burger Bar does all things burgers, fries, & of course, shakes. This is no ordinary drive thru, fast food meal though. It’ll be your new guilty pleasure and your favorite craving (definitely a number one favorite of my older sister & I) There are like six of these babies around the city, but for the shortest line head to the one in Grand Central Station or for the best outdoor view, head to the one featured in some of your favorite movies on Madison Ave. Grab a cheese fry and your favorite flavor milkshake & call it a day!

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SERENDIPITY

If you’ve never heard of Serendipity’s famous frozen hot chocolate than 1- you’re living under a rock & 2- boy do you need this nyc food guide!!!!! Serendipity frozen hot chocolate is both the most famous and delicious frozen hot chocolate in the world, and the colorful, sweet vibes in Serendipity will not disappoint. The appetizers and food are all HUGE so make sure to take the fam or a big appetite and dig in!

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NOBU

Okay, so I know I said no particular order, but if I put these in order based on my personal preferences, you know Nobu would be at the top of the list. My absolute favorite food in the world comes from Nobu’s multiple restaurants, but my preferred one to dine at is definitely the one in New York City. The Crispy Rice Spicy Tuna appetizer can truly not be beat, and my family tends to fight over who gets the last one (they’re that good!!!). Any sushi there will blow your mind, the Black Cod is like the fish version of cotton candy???, and the new style wagyu beef will keep you coming back for more. Nobu NY – 10/10 would recommend.

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HAI STREET KITCHEN CO.

So, if you’re taste include a wide spread, delicious pallet of all things sushi – Hai Street Kitchen is the place for you. Nothing like the last restaurant listed, Hai Street Kitchen Co. is a food stand right in the central of Time Square. Running to a show? Shopping around? Grab a quick sushi burrito from Hai Street and you will not be disappointed! My favorite was the Spicy Tuna poke burrito… I even added fried chicken to it – WHAT!!! Seriously guys, so good & so trendy. (Pokeworks also makes AMAZING sushirritos)

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NELLO

Next up is Nello which heads us back to the more elegant side of fine-dining in the city & is a personal favorite of my lovely mother. Nello is truly some of the most authentic and best Italian food I’ve ever had, literally tastes and feels like I’m back in Rome!!! All courses are AMAZING, and the wine is to die for. Some of our family favorite dishes are the Black Truffle Angel Air, Chicken Noodle Soup, Pasta Carbonara, and end the night with an unbeatable Napoleon dessert. This Italian dine gives you amazing food, the best atmosphere, and a venue you’ll want to return to time and time again.

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BROOKLYN DINER

To feel like a true New Yorker, head to Brooklyn Diner on 57th street. This cute location gives you the vibes of a traditional diner with the amazing taste of American dining. Make sure to grab some jumbo Pigs n a Blanket as an appetizer & maybe even a yummy Matzah Ball Soup. Enjoy dining like a city girl or guy and grab a Chocolate Egg Crème to sip on, actually one of my most favorites ever!! For your meal, I recommend the enormous Chicken Pot Pie, this thing is massive, or the Chicken Parm. This meal will not disappoint & give you some tasty comfort foods.

 

D R I N K

Grab your iPhones and start snapchatting – this adorable coffee counter makes the cutest UNICORN COFFEES. Located at the bottom of American Eagle in Time Square, this dive will satisfy all your caffeine needs & give you a sweet drink to add to your Instagram! My personal favorite is the Unicorn Iced Vanilla Coffee in hot pink, but if pink isn’t you – don’t worry!! You get to choose your own color and watch them top it with glitter, colored marshmallows, and sprinkles! Yum!!!

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MASTRO’S

Mastro’s Steakhouse was a new discover of our family, and one that we can simply not get enough of! This elegant dine is a mix of both modern cuisine and traditional steakhouse – and it offers live music & exquisite service! I don’t know if I’ve ever been so full in my life until after I ate my first Mastro’s meal. We order tons of Tuna Sashimi and Tuna Sushi Rolls as appetizers, and the bread is simply incredible so make sure to enjoy a piece before you start filling up. Then comes your entrée – EVERYTHING IS GOOD! How is this possible you may ask? It took me forever to decide because they offer a wide range of entrees that are all delicious. I stuck with the Filet with a warm truffle butter & tasted a bite of my boyfriend’s yummy Seared Ahi, so good! Don’t forget the sides— order all your cravings as sides and do them family style to share! We enjoyed the cream corn, scalloped potatoes, gnocchi, and sugar snap peas the most! The Butter Cake is for sure the tastiest dessert, but like I said, everything on the menu is SO. FREAKIN. GOOD.

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ALICE’S TEA CUP

Okay so yes, I’m aware that I say all of these are my favorite ever, BUT if you can’t tell by the name, this find brings Disney + food together (aka two of my favorite things!!!). And if that’s not enough to win you over, the whole café is themed to fit Alice in Wonderland, my favorite Disney movie – say what!!! No, but in all seriousness, this restaurant/café will give you the quality of New York food while feeling like you’re in Disney World riding Alice’s teacups. The food options range from all things breakfast, lunch, to brunch &the coffee and tea selections are never ending. I always go with the ham and cheese scone, but all of the scones are to die for. Don’t fill up on entrees and tea though, because you won’t want to miss out on their delicious desserts. There are three different locations in the city, and they hardly ever have a wait. So grab your imagination & pick your favorite scone flavor and some tea to drink – you’ll absolutely love this place, hopefully as much as I do!

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FRED’S

One of our more recent dining fines is the amazing, Fred’s restaurant, located on one of the upper floors of Barneys department store. This last month when we were in the city, I experienced Fred’s for the first time, and simply loved the atmosphere and every course. We decided to have New Year’s Eve brunch there, and everything from the view, to the coffee, to the true New Yorker-vibe you get from eating at the top of Barney’s was enough to win me over. I highly recommend ordering the Bagel Basket to share as an appetizer, because the bagels are both amazing and homemade fresh. All of the dishes were delicious, and the pasta dishes were exquisite. Fred’s was my inner-New Yorker’s dream come true.

 

THE PLAZA HOTEL 

Yes, you read that right, your inner child is screaming, because if you’re anything like me you’re immediately thinking… “Hi, I’m Eloise. I’m six. And I live at the tippy top of the Plaza Hotel.” SAME. Well, the Plaza Hotel has a lobby café offering afternoon tea on specific days for limited hours, but it is everything! My sister and I fangirled at an Eloise-themed tea at the Plaza Hotel one summer afternoon, where we enjoyed pink tea, pink lemonade, finger sandwiches, mini desserts, and even cotton candy. If you’re more of a traditional-tea drinker, there are plenty of options on teas, drinks, and snacks for you to choose from. Still hungry after your tea? Head downstairs to the hidden treasure that is the Plaza Food Hall. This market-styled food hall is a feast for the eyes and will make it IMPOSSIBLE to choose from just one quick-stand. The food is all easy and fast, and most importantly, delicious. A vast variety from frozen yogurt, baked goods and macarons, pastas, crepes, sushi, or lobster rolls? Head to this downstairs secret for complete food satisfaction.

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MAGNOLIA BAKERY

Again, a personal favorite of mine is the delectably sweet and cute cupcakes and baked goods of Magnolia Bakery. Magnolia Bakery is the most famous and well-known cupcakery in New York City, and my absolute favorite cupcake in the world. The cupcakes range in their famous flavors of Red Velvet, Vanilla, Chocolate, Carrot, Strawberry, and then more seasonal fun favorites from time to time. The icing on top is unbelievably rich and they are topped with the cutest flowers, sprinkles, and various decorations. I love these babies so much that I even made my mom order my 20th birthday cake from Magnolia Bakery… yes, I am a diva & yes, it was delicious. Head to one of their multiple locations & grab one, or two, or twelve.

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LAVO

Lavo offers both the elegant, modern class of 58th street NYC during the day, and later at night, the clubby feel of a New York dance party. Lavo’s unique dining is tasteful and exclusive, attracting people from far and wide. Our family stays nearby on our trips to the city, so Lavo is always a must-do on our list. Lavo offers incredible starters, get the Meatball because it’s massively shareable for the whole fam. The truffle gnocchi is to die for, along with all the entrees listed on their menu. But, an absolute must for Lavo, is to SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT. Listen to me on this one, because you will not want to miss the Fried Oreo platter, the Chocolate-Peanut Butter layer cake, and all the other mouthwatering dessert options. Want to have some fun after dinner and dessert? Lavo offers an exclusive night club downstairs on certain weekdays, so go burn those fried Oreo calories off on the dance floor.

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SARABETHS

And here it is, the famous and delicious Sarabeth’s. All my Gossip Girl fans listen up, because Sarabeth’s is a favorite of Blair and Serena, which means it has to be great, right? Right! I’ve attended brunch at Sarabeth’s Central Park more than a few times, and every single time I fall more and more in love. With a great view of Central Park, yummy mimosas, and an superb brunch menu, you will never be disappointed… and maybe even feel like a true Upper-East Sider??? The Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are an absolute must, and the Eggs Benedict is a yummy taste on a classic brunch item. Not up for a breakfast pallet? Try the lunch side instead with the Steak & Truffle Fries. Sarabeth’s is a high-traffic spot for celebs, has an insta-worthy atmosphere and view, and some truly mind-blowing food.

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BLACKTAP BURGER BAR

Last, but certainly not least is the delicious, one of a kind, Blacktap Burger Bar. Known for their famous, monster shakes, Blacktap is so sweet and picture-perfect. Seriously, you’ll take like thirty pictures of these shakes. My favorite shake has to be the BAM BAM shake, a fruity pebbles flavored masterpiece. Pick your favorite or maybe even order a few to share, they are so worth it! The food at Blacktap comes in a close second to the shakes with huge, mouthwatering burgers and crispy fries. Try the truffle aioli sauce with your fries and add a fried egg to the top of your burger. You’ll be so full when you leave here, you might have to head back to the room for a nap! Prepare for a line to get inside, but it’s 100% worth the wait.

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Guys!!!! After all your texts, calls, messages & questions – here it is. I hope this fulfilled all your New York dining questions and dreams & that next time you’re dining in my favorite city, you’ll take me up one these excellent choices. Tag me in your pics, leave me a comment, or shoot me a message & give me all of your opinions and other restaurant loves in NYC. I love you all!!!!

Want to see more? Head to @hailstravels to keep up with my latest adventures & foodie finds.

As always,

Hails

t i m e

Time.

Time rolls on.

And here we are again. Page 365 of 365. The end of a chapter 17 in the NY Times best-selling book of Life.

Last year I started on the adventure of creating my own blog, and my first post was entitled “New Year, not so New Me”. Boy was I wrong. (Momentary Pause – if you know anything about me, you know I hate to be wrong. And here I am, telling you how wrong I was… this is big people.) But, I aim to stay truthful here & it would simply not be honest of me to claim that I didn’t change and grow in 2017, because I did, and I think you probably did too.

However, I decided about a month ago that I would avoid the cliché of writing another New Years blog this year after having done the same sort of thing last year. But then something happened.

I recently came across a video, very well done by the marketing team for Google. The video is both inspiring and heartbreaking. It shows the happy and sad sides of how the world spun in 2017. From natural disasters, to terrorist’s attacks, to political races, and everything in between. It was truly hard to keep up. We prayed for Vegas, for Puerto Rico, for Mexico, and so many more. We cried and we cheered, we loved and hated. We are all so different, but all asked the same question of “How?”. How do we survive? How do we help? How do we achieve? How do we move forward? The video slowly emerges from the darkness of 2017 to shed a light on the future of tomorrow, and urges us to move forward in 2018 by showing some of the most wonderful parts of 2017 and all we achieved as a nation and world.

https://trends.google.com/trends/yis/2017/US/  – (the link if you want to check out the video)

When I came across this video last week, I had one of those moments. One where I asked myself what did I achieve this year – What happened, good or bad, to me and those around me? What did I do to help? How did I grow and achieve? Did 2017 top 2016, and will 2018 bring even more? I knew what I had to do. I grabbed my notebook from my bedside drawer and started jotting down my ideas, as I often do when inspiration hits. I wrote down names, moments, emotions, and places that all helped to shape my 2017. So here they are –

 

Here is my 2017.

I started 2017 from Las Vegas, Nevada with my whole family celebrating by my side.

One of my best friends asked me to be her Bridesmaid in her 2018 dream wedding.

I watched in awe as my gorgeous Duck danced the role of Fairy Godmother in her ballet.

I attended my first ever Super Bowl (go Dirty Birds).

Spent my 20th birthday in my most favorite place. (NYC –hello you guys should know this by now)

Went cruising around the Bahamas with my guy. (happy birthday to me???)

Saw Hamilton 3 more times.

Watched my beautiful princess of a big sister marry her dream guy in a magical Disney wedding – seriously one of the best days of my existence.

Won a Basketball & Football Championship with my adpi sistas. <>

Road-tripped & vacationed with da boys.

Attended the TONY Awards, the Tim Tebow Galla, Jingle Ball, two Corey Smith concerts, 15 Broadway shows, the US Open, the Super Bowl & more

Flew to Hawaii for Round 4 with the fam.

Started my Junior Year at the University of Florida. (added a Minor… aka drowned in studying)

Watched the Solar Eclipse. Survived Hurricane Irma.

Got the most perfect Little in the entire world. (to my child – I love you always)

Wrote 6 blogs, 2 guest blogs, & started writing my own novel.

Spent 87% of my time & days with Taylor Walters. My rock. My foodie. My best friend.

Cheered on the Gators… or attempted to (it was a rough year, am I right?)

Celebrated 11/11 with the Hathcock clan in Disney World.

Raised over $1,000 for my heart, Gators March for Babies and March of Dimes.

Lived.

 

And I did. I truly lived this year. I feared, I cried, I stressed (boy did I stress), and I tried. It all paid off. Every single one of the challenges thrown my way, every single path God sent me on, and every door that was closed – I survived. I pushed on and achieved. I worked hard, gave it my all, and came out a better person than I was before. I was also SO blessed. So loved. So spoiled. So happy. This year brought me incredible moments of joy, passion, and pure life.

So instead of listing off my new year’s resolutions like I did last year, I have a challenge for you. Go through your “Peak 2017 Moments” like I just previously listed, and jot them down. Hide them in a notebook, in a doc on your computer, or the Notes app on your phone. Write down the new and old people and places, the extravagant events, or the thrilling moments that made 2017 what it was. Don’t let this year pass by and be forgotten. I also encourage you to make a second list, like the one below, including your 2017 Top Ten. Your all-time favorites of 2017, so that one day you can look back at the list and smile and remember. If you haven’t experienced the ones on my list – make it happen in 2018!!!! I’d love for yall to share your lists with me so I can add to mine for next year as well.

 

As always, thank you for reading & here’s to an awesome, unlike any other 2018. I hope it is filled with everything you hope and dream for and that it tops your 2017. Happy New Year, don’t waste a second.

2017 Top Ten:

  1. Top Book: Come Back to Me by Mila Gray or The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
  2. Top Movie: Baby Driver, Fifty Shades Darker, & Moana
  3. Top Song: Perfect by Ed Sheeran
  4. Top Album: Dear Evan Hansen cast album
  5. Top Place: New York City or Pandora: Disney’s World of Avatar
  6. Top Netflix Binge: Riverdale or Reign (watch these if you haven’t yet!!!!)
  7. Top Celebs: Lin Manuel Miranda, Ellen DeGeneres, & Serena Williams
  8. Top Hobby: Traveling, taking pictures of my food 😉 , & writing
  9. Top Cravings: queso, anything Buffalo, & sushi bowls
  10. Top Moment: my sister’s Disney Fairytale Wedding

 

xx Hails

(( keep scrolling for a look at my 2 0 1 7  in pictures ))

 

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To my little sister on her first day of Senior Year —-

To my little sister on her first day of her senior year…

Here it is. Today is finally here – you’re officially a SENIOR! First off, congratulations for making it through eleven years of Valwood (at the top of your class I may add), and today will begin a new chapter, your final and twelfth year. Second, this year will go by faster than any year you’ve experienced so far, so here it is, from me to you – a few tips, tricks, memories, and secrets of how to survive, thrive, & make the most of the absolute best year of your life.

 

**FOREWARNING: Judy please grab your tissues now, we know how you get**

1- It’s time for the cliché, are you ready? DON’T BLINK. I know every adult will look at you this year and tell you how fast this year goes by, and if you’re anything like I was, you’ll politely smile but secretly roll your eyes & ignore the comment. They’re not lying. I can vouch for them all, senior year went by in the blink of an eye, and I’d do just about anything to go back to the halls of Valwood and relive being a senior just one more time. It sounds crazy, because at this point I’m sure you’re counting down the days until you’re “free” or so ready to be a college student so you can live on your own and start “adulting”. Don’t rush this, those things are all coming at lightning speed, whether you’re ready or not… And trust me, “adulting” isn’t all that it’s made up to be. So, don’t blink – take in every single second, every opportunity that comes your way. Find a date to every dance (even the ones not at Valwood), go all out for every day of Homecoming, tailgate for every football game, go to every party and every Senior event, make the Senior Haunted House epic, go on every trip, and take every chance to still be a kid and completely in the moment with your best friends.

2- Speaking of best friends, listen carefully to this one. You’ll find your high school friends that will be your rock. Everyone says you find your best friends and bridesmaids in college, but don’t overlook those friends who have been by your side, taken every class with you, helped you decorate your locker, played the same sport as you, and shared food with you at break every single day for the past twelve years. My two have been there since Pre-K & Eighth grade at Valwood, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I know they are both a phone call and four hour drive away at all times, and whenever I need them, they’re there. You may already know who yours are by now, or it may take another year and some reflection to find those special people who you know will stick around through thick and thin, but when you find them, hold on tight. If your class is anything like mine, you’re close. The Class of 2015 was my family for twelve years; for twelve years we worked and played together, fought with one another, loved one another, went on crazy adventures, played sports, hazed teachers, and pretty much had the time of our lives. I miss them and how we once were so much, so I beg you, enjoy them while they’re only a few lockers or parking spots away, because soon you’ll all be heading off to school all over the country. Include every person (it’s their senior years too), avoid the small school drama (whenever possible), laugh a lot, have house parties (you’ll miss them next year), and spend your time loving, not fighting.

3- Your SAT score doesn’t define you. Though in your case, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing? 😉 Everyone will panic and stress over the dreaded SAT and ACT, they’ll cry when their score is terrible and brag when their score is average or above. Take your SAT and ACT, take a deep breath, and move on. Colleges look at a lot of things on your application, and a bad or good SAT score has nothing to do with what kind of person you are. Take it from someone who took the SAT four times to finally get the coveted score she wanted (hallelujah & thank you Aunt Tisha – best SAT tutor ever), testing is hard and stressful, but in a couple of months will feel like a distant memory. I seriously can’t tell you a single question on my SAT or what my essay question was for the ACT. Sooner than you know, you’ll be a student at the school of your dreams and look back and wonder why you even stressed about little numbers adding up to a 2400 anyways. Yes, you’re a genius and have already killed the SAT once, but take my advice on this one – it is what it is, so let it be and don’t stress it.

4- Okay maybe stop reading for this one, Mom? Just kidding, but really, have fun. I’m not saying go crazy, skip class, and blow your grades – DEFINITELY DON’T do that. But stay out late, go to the cabin parties, have a blast at the lakes, choose your friends always, and break curfew a time or two. Your smart, you know when grades and tests matter, but don’t let that consume your last year. Take chances and be adventurous, do all those “Senior Things” you only dreamed about last year. Kiss all the boys, be friendly with all the kids at the other schools (how I found 3 of my best friends), and just go for it. Don’t be afraid to let your wild side show a little bit and loosen up and have some fun. This is yall’s time, you’re officially the superheros of the school, use that and celebrate. Celebrate while you have time, before this year passes you by.

5- Following that one, don’t be stupid. Have fun and be wild, but know your limits and know who to trust. Always use the buddy system (you’ll really never stop using the buddy system), you never know when you’ll need a friend or some help, so avoid heading off by yourself at all costs. Don’t drink TOO much, and realize there is always always always a ride for you. I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to never get in the car with someone who is intoxicated or behind the wheel while you’re drunk. Even if that guy or your girl friend says, “I’m fine, I’ve only had two beers.” DON’T. You have mom, Heather, Kyle, Dad, Josh, and Becca to come pick you up if this situation occurs, so utilize that and don’t be stupid. Hell, I’ll drive back from school to get you so just call first. Enjoy the time you have near your family, I’m only in Gainesville and miss them more than you know. Cherish living in the same house with Mom and Sunday breakfast with Dad, the fact that you can drive to Heather’s and use her closet or call Grandma for lunch any day. These are luxuries, whether you realize it or not. These people are your life and may not be down the road from you next year, so don’t blow them off, include them in this huge, monumental year. Like I said, you’re a smart girl, so keep that up and don’t fall off the deep end, alright? 😉

6- This one is a big one, and a little harder for me than I care to show. IF you don’t get into the school of your dreams, it is okay. Don’t let this shatter your world. The worst disappointment and pain I’ve felt is my one –year deferral from the school of my dreams. I was filled with hate, and embarrassment, and so many emotions of how the world was unfair and not right. I was wrong. I got another year, a fresh start, and so much more with one simple deferral. I got to be rushed by my big sister, grow so much closer to my best friends from home, adopt a puppy, run out to the best letters on Bid Day, spend another year with my boyfriend, and be at home with the people I loved. It was truly a blessing in disguise that I would have never even known to wish for until it happened to me. Now I’m happily at that dream school, Go Gators, and I feel like it was all part of a bigger plan. If you are somehow, though very unlikely, deferred, denied, or even waitlisted from the school or schools of your dreams, do not let it bring you down. God has a plan, and whether you believe at the time or not, everything does happen for a reason. It will all make sense, just give it some time and a little bit of a chance.

7- Lastly – take lots of pictures. You’ll only regret the ones you don’t take. I am 99.9% positive that I took more pictures than half of my class combined, and I still feel like I missed major moments we all had. Take pictures of everything, everyone, every dance, and every trip. Take videos at the parties, you’ll laugh about them later, and never let a moment go by without a quick picture. Don’t be mean to mom when she takes a thousand pictures today and at Homecoming and Prom, and definitely Graduation. She’s earned that, so let her have it. Document it all, you’ll be glad you did. I love looking back at how happy and alive I was as a senior, surrounded by the people I loved, having the time of my life and feeling at home. Do the same, you won’t be sorry.

 

That about rounds up the sisterly advice when it comes to Senior Year, and don’t ever forget I’m only a phone call or FaceTime away when you need some more. Also, know that every Corey Smith song ever will be your best friend during senior year, they literally can all relate to a moment or feeling you’ll encounter this year, and you can sing along and enjoy the solace of someone else feeling the same way. You’ve got this, and I can’t wait to watch you absolutely kill it this year. The year is here, the world is yours, it’s finally your time – don’t be afraid, live every single second, and do your best to really take it in. I’m so proud of you and know this year will be the best one yet, and one you’ll hold in your heart for forever. Good luck senior girl, I love you always my Little Duck.

Your big sis, Hails

Keep scrolling for a little look back into the ancient history that is my experience as a senior with the class of 2015 !!

IMG_9743.jpghere’s to you! — & a little journey down memory lane

IMG_8547.jpgFIRST DAY OF SENIOR YEAR!

IMG_9098.jpgALL HAIL THE SUPERFANS 🙂

IMG_1031.jpghomecoming week… just do it

IMG_1573.jpgHomecoming Dance!

IMG_1341.jpgHomecoming Court with my lifelong friends.

IMG_2267.jpgMy family for twelve years.. on our best night, BEATING BROOKWOOD.

IMG_2139.jpgSenior Haunted House —> Welcome to Toyland 😉

IMG_1916.jpgTailgates & Friday Night Lights

IMG_2953.jpgthose cabin/house parties I may have mentioned…IMG_8624.jpgGRAD BASH @ Universal

IMG_5085.jpgSenior Night…. please take me back to the tennis court.

IMG_6368.jpgsenior pictures with your best friend >

IMG_7130.jpgSENIOR PROM ❤

IMG_8531.jpgColleges Day with our favorite Professor!

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Jefferson Cup 2015 — my actual twelve year family

IMG_0235.jpgSenior Cruise – live it up!

IMG_9814.jpgThe End. It’s your turn now little one, do big things & make me proud xo

THANKS SM for reading guys!! Love you all & here’s to the seniors!

xx Hailee #HailsYeah

Hawaii Four-0 ??

It was round 4 of Hawaii for the Hathcock family as we packed our suitcases (about 20 to be exact) and headed far far west for the islands of Hawaii. This trek is something oh so familiar to us, having been visitors of Maui, Hawaii for four summers in a row, it felt almost natural.

We spent a full day traveling from Valdosta -> Atlanta -> LA -> finally Maui! Grabbed our belongings, got lei’d & headed to the hotel. We were greeted by the oh-so familiar faces of the Four Seasons Wailea hostesses and gorgeous hotel, not too shabby of a welcome if you ask me. That was it, we were 4,500 miles away, six hours behind Eastern Time, & finally on our annual island vacation. Let the adventure begin!

Our daily routine while in Maui consisted of waking up (attempting to sleep-in, although jetlag hit us hard the first few days), eating a grand Four Seasons-style buffet breakfast, lounging by the pool, swimming through the Pacific, having lunch in our lounge chairs, and just relaxing & enjoying each other’s company. Come afternoon, we’d split off and watch the sunset, have a family workout, or rest up for the very large, very exquisite dinner to come. Dinner varied from night to night, sometimes we’d stay in and enjoy the amazing cuisine out resort had to offer, and other times we’d venture out to get a taste of some of our favorite local Maui spots. The nine of us, including my parents, sisters, brother, brother-in-law, boyfriend, and adopted sister, were living a dream. It’s what you call paradise, a true Hawaiian vacation – sounds like a fantasy right? A fantasy I got to live for the past two weeks, so here’s a glimpse at what our family adventure was like and all the adventures, the laughs, & the memories that came along with it.

Two days or our fourteen-day vacation were spent aboard the ShangriLa, a private catamaran that we’ve rented out the past four years for a little family time at sea. The same one, I may add, that Taylor Swift boarded with her friends a few summers back (fangirl moment, sorry I love me some TSwift). Aboard the ShangriLa we’d eat, sunbathe, sleep, read, search for dolphins, and sail away to Honolua Bay. Once arrived at Honolua Bay we’d de-board our private charter and head into the crystal blue ocean water of the Pacific with snorkels in our hands & flippers on our feet. We snorkel for hours in the chilled but beautiful water of this hidden cove in the reefs of Maui, spotting sea turtles, manta rays, tropical fish, eels, and more. Once back on board we were treated to a fabulous meal of sushi, sashimi, steak, grilled fish, veggies, and my favorite, chocolate molten cakes… not really a meal you’d expect when aboard a boat. Stuffed to the max, we’d head for the bean bag chairs & cushions at the bow of the boat for a nice nap as we set sail. The trip normally made a pit-stop on the way back to dock in Lahaina, for CLIFF DIVING! The cliff diving crew would hop off the boat, make the long swim to the highest cliff we could find & thrust ourselves off the very top! The rush you get after safely hitting the waters & not plummeting to your death is one that cannot even be described, but has us always coming back for more. On the way back to dock in Lahaina, we’d enjoy the sunset, sit together, and try to glue into our memory the adventures of the amazing day we just had.

On another adventurous day for the Hathcock clan we woke up early, drove the hour to Lahaina from Maui, and boarded a ferry to Lanai. It was my first visit to Lanai, and definitely one I will never forget. Lanai is the very private and very empty island across from Maui where Dole used to grow all of their pineapples. That day, the boys went for a special golfing trip and the rest of us headed to the Four Seasons Lanai, where we’d be guests for the day. They showed us to our private bungalow, which included a private pool, lounge chairs, hot tubs, a canopy bed, and a private butler. The resort was beautiful, and so private that we felt as if we had it all to ourselves. We relaxed all day long, had tropical drinks in the pool, and adventured around the resort. We then journeyed down a path surrounded by the gorgeous Hawaiian nature that led to Lanai’s Manele Bay. Manele Bay is said to be the resting place for pods of hundreds of spinner dolphins. We hopped in the blue water and snorkeled away. The resort as a whole was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever visited (plus it had a NOBU inside) and our day on Lanai was definitely well spent.

One of the best parts of our family trip to Hawaii is always the day we spend together taking family portraits, followed by a grand Four Seasons feast overlooking the beach. Well this is my favorite part, but other members of the family (aka the boys) may not enjoy the photographing part quite as much. We all dress in our best white outfit, get all fancied up, and head down to the beach to meet our favorite Hawaiian photographer, Amity Mason. After a few dozen photographs and poses in front of the beautiful sunset we are finished with family portraits, well for this year anyways. We then head up to the private dinner setup arranged by my amazing mother and the Four Seasons staff. It is simply a fairytale and looks as if it plopped out of a dream. With a canopy setup, gorgeous chandelier, and vibrant flower display, we felt like true Hawaiian royalty… or alii nui as it is known. Our menu has to be my favorite part, and is decked out with some of my most favored foods such as ahi, truffle risotto, filet, sushi rolls, and some sweet Riesling. As a surprise finish, thanks mom, we enjoyed a do-it-yourself ice cream bar that was simply to die for. The night was beautiful, the food was nothing short of amazing, and the time spent with my loved ones was invaluable.

That’s just a look at my four favorite days spent in paradise, and unless I write a novel, there is no possible way to convey all the memories, the laughs, the adventures, and the days spent on our Hawaiian vacation this summer. I’m so thankful for two weeks spent vacationing with my favorite eight people in my favorite summer destination. I ate enough food and sipped enough wine for a lifetime, I swam and snorkeled daily, saw hundreds sea turtles and fish, spent quality time with my family, boat-jumped with my boyfriend, took more photos than I could ever count, and truthfully had the best summer yet. I am so thankful for trips like these, parents like mine, and the memories I’ll treasure always.

KEEP READING — for a list of my go-to Hawaii eats & stops PLUS a photo gallery of our trip

mahalo for reading, I love you all… xoxo your Hawaiian local,  Hailee 🙂

 

 

HAILEE’S HAWAII GO-TO’s :

The Four Seasons Wailea,  Morimoto , the Spa at Grand Wailea , Monkeypod Kitchen , Lahaina Grill , Spago @ the Four Seasons Wailea , Manele Bay on Lanai , The Shops at Wailea , the Grand Luau at the Marriot Wailea , the ShangriLa: private catamaran charter , The Alii Nui sunset cruise , the Shops at Lahaina , Lapperts Hawaiian Ice Cream

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to new beginnings & the gators

Flashback to last year, around this exact time, I had to make a decision. Though I told myself and many around me that I knew what I was going to be doing come August, I couldn’t quite convince myself I had actually decided. The University of Florida had been my dream since the first time I could scream “Go Gators”, but my life for the past eighteen years was at home in Georgia. Not to mention my entire family and most of my friends who hadn’t already ventured off to college remained in Valdosta, so part of my mind and heart thought maybe I should too. I spent years wishing for an acceptance into the University of Florida and a chance to start my life as Gator, and when it finally fell into my lap, I felt fear.

Growing up in small town South Georgia, attending an intimate private school, living minutes from all of my family members, and making memories that make up who I am never pushed me to move away from home. Maybe the small town life did come with its drama, few to none when it came to choices in restaurants and shopping, and not being able to go into town without seeing three people I knew should have made me want to flee. But, when it came down to it, I was scared and kind of sad. I always talked the talk about getting out of Valdosta and not getting stuck like so many before me had, but what can I say, the place grows on you. It definitely grew on me.

I spent my freshman year of college at our local university and at first, was less than thrilled about it. I counted down the days in my head until I could move on to a bigger school and a new town. The semester started and I rushed the best sorority, made so many new friends, and just became comfortable, which I could have never imagined myself being in Valdosta. The year flew by and I chose to push my UF acceptance to the back of my mind thinking I had nothing but time to make my decision and figure it all out. My official letter of acceptance came in the mail in early spring and my family’s excitement radiated onto me. How could I not be excited to live out my dreams and attend one of the best universities in the nation? A question I asked myself over and over all year trying to make up my mind.

I finally came to the conclusion that not attending UF would only hurt me and my future, but leaving behind the only place I had ever known may have that same effect. I couldn’t imagine being more than a five minute drive away from my boyfriend or not being able to call my grandma or sisters to meet me for lunch on a slow Tuesday. I wanted to be able  to stay close to my family and for my friends to not move on without me. Everything in front of me, everything that could be, scared me.

After many talks with my family, denials from my friends, and tears from myself, I made the choice to leave my small town behind and move onto something bigger. So August came along and my mom threw me a grand going-away party, in true Judy fashion, with all my friends and family (& even my dogs). I spent my last night in my Valdosta apartment and spent my final day at home with my mom, shopping and eating at my favorite place. When it came to goodbyes, I cried… a lot (I’ve become a crier in the recent years, what can I say), but I knew I had to hold it together and follow my heart or else I’d always regret it. So I packed up my car, and the pups and I headed off for our new adventure.

Like I previously mentioned in my first ever blog post, in no way were my first few weeks in Gainesville anything like I may have hoped or imagined they’d be. I missed my mom, got lost around campus, didn’t know how to use the bus, and knew practically nobody. But I pushed myself outside of my bubble and decided if nothing else, I’d try my absolute hardest before giving up on my dream school. On my first visit to the ADPi house I was introduced to someone who is now one of my best friends and I’m not quite sure what I’ll do when she graduates Saturday & we can’t run to Disney whenever we please. I emerged into the world around me, met people in my classes, and finally started to feel at home. A reunion with my old tennis camp roommate quickly turned into my best friend, someone I was able to feel at home with, someone who spent hours working on online classes with me, and was always up for some fun or cookie dough (Moo- I am eternally grateful for you and our friendship). I even found someone who is just as much of a “foodie” as me & never said no to a date night if poke or queso were involved. Soon enough, I no longer felt left out but at home and comfortable in my new life, like I couldn’t understand how I had gone the past nineteen years without these people or this place.

Gainesville and UF have changed me and shaped me in ways I could have never imagined. I thought I was done growing and learning, that I had matured into the person I’d be from then on, but boy was I wrong. I’ve learned how to be a better student, friend, family member, and overall person this year – none of which may have happened if I hadn’t taken the risk of going out on my own and experiencing what I feared to be the unknown. I now know what handwork looks like when it comes to college, what true friendships feel like -shouts to all of my friends at home who never let our relationship fade, and how much a university or city could change my perspective on life and the world around me. So here it is. Here is my thank you letter to this year, to the people, the places, and the moments that have changed my life for the better – I am forever grateful and so so appreciative…

to my mom & dad – thank you thank you, the most important thank you I can and ever will give is to the two of you. thank you for always pushing me to chase my dreams and follow my heart. thank you for allowing me to do so by always providing for me, both financially and emotionally. you have done nothing but support me this year by encouraging me to follow through and be the best I could ever be. I love you so much and couldn’t have even come close to getting through this year without you two by my side.

to the university of florida – this one may sound weird to some, but I’m a nerd so follow along… thank you for being all I ever dreamed you would be. since I was a little girl sporting my Gator cheer outfit, I wished for the day where I’d walk the halls as a student of this spectacular university. a university that not only pushes me to work hard and network myself both inside and outside of the classroom, but shows the importance of life after college and the relationships you make while here. I cannot wait for the next two years spent here, go gators always.

to my boyfriend – 106 miles aint got nothin on us. thank you for being my rock this year and never letting me give up on myself, us, or my dreams. you could have easily asked me to stay at home with you but instead you pushed me to do what was best for me and promised you’d always be there along the way, thank you. thank you for listen to me cry on the phone when I felt homesick or letting me talk for hours when I missed your voice. thank you for random visits to gainesville just to eat Bento, watch me play softball, or spend a couple of hours together. four years together and I swear this one has been our best, thank you for completing me, I love you always.

to my family – thank you for always being by my side when I needed you most. thank you for letting me call you weekly, daily, or hourly (or for Heather -every thirty minutes??) when I may have been feeling alone or just wanting to talk. thank you for never not inviting me even though I was miles away. thank you for constant visits, 11:11 messages, and support – y’all my 85 year old grandma drove to gainesville just to spend a weekend with me. I’ve never truly felt alone with y’all on my side, you made my first year away from home and away from you bearable.

to the sisters of Alpha Delta Pi, Gamma Iota – thank you x a million. thank you for never, not once, making me feel like I was on the outside or like I didn’t belong. from the second I stepped into the door of our little white & blue house I have felt at home. thank you for always including me, introducing yourselves to the new girl, and accepting a complete stranger into your lives. thanks to you I have learned what its like to have amazing friends, I have learned what sisterhood looks and feels like, and I have seen Jesus in all of you amazing souls.

to my friends I could never leave behind – thank you for always being there, for always encouraging and supporting me, and for never letting our friendships go or die (you know who you are). I could never move on or out grow any of you, and no matter how content I am at my new school & in my new life, it is never complete without you. even to my three best friends who calls Athens home, the extra hour didn’t change a thing, even though the dawgs suck 😉 thank you for the texts, facetimes, lunch dates, and more that remind me how important our friendship is. I’ve missed you an insane amount this year and summer is finally here so I can return to your beautiful faces!!

 

I am so thankful for the most important, influential, amazing year or my life. I cannot believe I completed my last final, my sophomore year has come to a close, and I’ll be heading home for the summer tomorrow. Seeya next year Gville, you rock & will be missed. xx

keep scrolling for a little look at my first year as a Gator :-)))

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& just like that, the Beauty marries the Bohannon

This weekend, I witnessed a real life fairytale unfold.

If you don’t know by now (aka you have no social media, so the chances of you even reading this post are very slim) my oldest sister got married yesterday. Heather Jenna Hathcock, my best friend and partner in crime for the past twenty years, is now a Bohannon. Let’s not get too mushy right away though… we’ll save that until the end. If you’re unaware (again very unlikely) the wedding was located in Walt Disney World.This is probably not very surprising to anyone who knows our family well. And this wedding will probably go down in history as the most fantastic and extravagant event that Disney World has ever put on. Sounds like an exaggeration, I know. Keep reading & you can decide for yourself (-;

About a year and a half ago, my now brother-in-law, Josh came to me telling me how he planned to propose to my sister around Christmas time, while we were of course in Disney World. So basically my inner-Judy kicked in full force and we all went to work on planning the most romantic proposal in front of our entire family and all of Heather’s closest friends. The proposal took place at a beautiful arch overlooking Cinderella’s castle, perfectly timed to be followed by a firework display overhead. Josh incorporated Heather’s favorite Disney princesses into his proposal, and of course she said yes.

Fast forward a year and a half later and here we are. In the past year and a half I have witnessed my sister try on multiple dresses, change her mind on which crown she liked best, get Magic Mike’d on her Bachelorette Trip, go to countless Disney Wedding plannings, and so much more. It had felt like she’d been engaged for years and then it just hit us. After the new year came and went, it became clear we were reaching the finish line on what seemed to be the longest engagement of all time. Days started flying by and eventually a year turned into a month and then a week, and now were here.

We all knew the day would come, and some days I was ready for it to all be over so that the stress on my mom and sister would disappear with it. But now that its come and past, I can’t help but feel a little sad. I have spent the last year and a half playing my part in whatever ways possible. I threw Heather a shower, took their engagement photos, made the wedding video, and even prepared a special toast with my little sister (we killed it Duck (-; ). Saturday I watched what I thought would never come actually take place, and no words could truly describe the magic we all witnessed. My sister put on her princess dress and her crown to match, and walked down the aisle as a Hathcock for the last time. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you how the weekend began…

Family and friends arrived all week long to their respective hotels, and we met for dinners or fun-filled days at the park together. On Wednesday, Heather, Josh, and Mom got to be VIP’s on the View, which was being filmed in Disney this past week. They all congratulated the happy couple and even made Josh reenact the proposal in front of everyone. Thursday night, the family met for a grand dinner at the Polynesian for the Spirit of Aloha show. We all participated in the fun-filled Luau and talked about how it didn’t feel real that the time had finally come. Friday came along, and we all couldn’t believe that wedding day was just twenty four hours away. Then the best part came along… Heather and Josh did their “first look” and their wedding portrait session at sunrise in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. They woke around 4am to dress in their full wedding attire for their first look in the park, which they had to themselves, where Heather would reveal herself as a bride to Josh for the first time, right in front of Cinderella’s Castle. aka we should all be super jelly of this moment (well really this whole weekend, but you get the gist) The day went on and we all began to get ready and dressed for the evenings events. The wedding party gathered at the Wedding Pavilion for a lengthy rehearsal of what would go down the next day before heading out to rehearsal dinner.

In true Disney fashion, we followed wedding rehearsal with an all-out rehearsal dinner in an Epcot attraction no less. In the Living Seas ride, guests entered where they were taken “under the sea” to meet Ariel before proceeding into the grand room. We were all dressed to the nines and excitement overflowed as we greeted each other. Dinner was served and we all indulged on the excellence that is Disney food, the best food in the world. Family and loved ones stood to give their toasts and well wishes to the happy couple. Hope and I delivered our “sister toast” as I like to call it, in unison, recalling some of our favorite memories with our oldest sister and even including a few Hamilton references. The wedding video, my masterpiece, played and we all got a little glimpse into the pasts of Heather and Josh all the way up to wedding festivities and moments from their engagement. After dinner had come to an end, the Disney magic was not done yet. We were driven from the Living Seas attraction in motor coaches to the Italy pavilion just in time for our own dessert party and fireworks show. Pause – a moment of appreciation for the desserts is now required. The dessert party included bananas foster donuts, an ice cream bar, chocolate spheres that would collapse to reveal dessert inside, an entire table of Mickey themed desserts and more. Kyle and I of course had to try them all and then pray I’d still fit into my bridesmaid dress the next day. I did… no worries 🙂 We toasted to the almost-married couple and just reveled in each others company for a while. Then we all headed back to the rooms, and it kind of had the feeling of Christmas Eve, like we knew the next day would hold something magical and exciting.

Waking up on wedding morning was strange. I looked at my older sister who would soon no longer be just a sister but instead a wife as well. Everyone was in the best of spirits and great moods as we woke to the realization of wedding day and prepped for the long day ahead of us. The bridal party dispersed where the Groomsmen and guys went to their tee times on the Disney golf course, and the Bridesmaids and girls went to our private dressing room. We got our hair and make-up done and enjoyed a beautiful bridal brunch. Mimosas were served, and of course Judy provided snacks all day long accompanied by three huge smoothie machines. Heather revealed her gown to us 16 bridesmaids for the first time and of course we were in awe. We then gathered for photos in the gorgeous Grand Floridian in the late afternoon where we smiled for what felt like hours getting picture after picture taken. All day I just kept thinking how badly I wanted to freeze time. I love nothing more than spending endless time with all of my loved ones and celebrating the moment in front of us. I wanted to freeze time and watch the happiness on everyone’s faces over and over as we first saw Heather in her wedding dress. Or the tears in my mom’s eyes when it finally registered all of her planning and handwork has paid off and that this day was everything and more. And even the love and strength of the beautiful women who surrounded me all day long, from the bridal party to my family, the warmth was infectious. Everyone swooned over the beauty that was Heather, and could not believe the day had come for her to take a new last name. (Like wtf she has to come up with a new Instagram name and everything) If a day could be both stressful and peaceful, that about sums up wedding day. We did our best to keep calm and make it a serene environment, but the excitement was evident, a Disney fairytale wedding was about to unfold.

I blinked, and before I knew it, it was time to come together and make our way to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion. My sisters, my mom and dad, my niece Maggie, maid of honor Taylor, and of course Heather all got a little bit of special treatment when it came to transportation to the wedding venue. The Disney magic entered in the form of Cinderella’s carriage pulled by majestic white horses to transport us to the pavilion. We definitely rode in style, and Maggie could not believe she was riding in Cinderella’s carriage – well truthfully none of us could. We watched the guests pour in to the Pavilion as evening fell over us. An evening ceremony at 7:30pm in the beautiful Disney Wedding Pavilion was a setting of pure perfection for the fairytale wedding we were all about to be apart of. Heather’s carriage pulled up to the pavilion just in time and we all took our places behind the doors in anticipation for the ceremony that was about to begin.

My cousin began to sing “A Thousand Years” which meant it was time to start moving. My younger sister, Gage, and I were given the task of being the first to walk out (both terrifying and exciting). We made it to the alter without any falls as we stepped over the beautifully made aisle runner and hundreds of red rose petals covering the floor around us. Couple by couple followed us in as we all took our places on either side of the alter. Now, we were a very large bridal party, so you can just imagine how crowded it was up there. However after rehearsing the day before, it looked effortless as each couple joined us and the colors of gold dresses and black tuxes flooded the alter. It was finally time for the cutest ring bearer and flower girl in history to make their debut; Rhett and Maggie entered holding hands and making everyone smile from ear to ear. We all knew what that meant – time to stand for the entrance of the bride and my dad. Dramatic Disney music played and Heather was revealed to the guests for the first time, my dad probably trying to hold back tears even if he calls it “Disney allergies”. I however could not hold back tears and finally let my emotions of happiness and pure joy overcome me as I stood on the alter near my sister. The ceremony ended rather quickly and we all applauded and wept as they announced the new married couple. We filed out of the pavilion and threw rose petals at the newlyweds as they exited towards their carriage. As we posed for a few more bridal party photos, the guests made their way to the cocktail hour where they were greeted with endless sushi and an open bar. Translation – it was time to celebrate.

Once they opened up the reception room, our jaws dropped to the floor as we entered a grand ballroom that seems only imaginable in fairytales and movies. The Beauty and the Beast theme really came out in full force with gold, red, and roses covering the room. A beautiful canopy came from all sides of the room on the ceiling and led to an extravagant center with a chandelier. The tables were decorated in intricate gold tablecloths, gold plates, beautiful menu cards, and red roses of course. The center pieces included the magical rose from Beauty and the Beast or a large flowered center piece to differentiate each table from the next. The huge cake sat on an elevated stage with a white rose flower wall behind it and another chandelier on top. (this flower wall was Kimye material if you know what Im sayin) The bride and groom sat with their maid of honor, best man, and parents at an almost royal-looking table in the back center of the room. Of course a dance floor took over the middle of the ballroom with bars to both sides. The buffet tables took over an entire wing of the room, which of course was a good thing, because like I said… Disney food. We were called to dinner by a very special guest, Lumiere came out and danced to “Be Our Guest” in the center of the dance floor to welcome us to the buffet. – I have to geek out here for a second, because for all the non-addict Disney guests in the room, this may have seemed insignificant to all of the other magic. However, Disney has never let the Lumber character go to any event, show, parade, etc. other than the Belle show in Hollywood Studios… aka this was super cool. We all attempted to make our way to the buffet and stuff our plates with every choice of food offered. I had to mingle and eat almost simultaneously in order to greet all of my friends and family properly… and I still wasn’t able to make it to everyone. Throughout the evening we listened to more toasts given by my parents (both which made me cry), watched firsts dances, saw them toss the bouquet and garter, and then eventually cut the magnificent cake. It came to dessert time again and we enjoyed “grey stuff” cupcakes, four different types of cake, a Mickey waffle bar, and more. Safe to say we were stuffed come the end of the night. The magic continued as we were greeted by Belle and Beast and then Mickey and Minnie throughout the night, dressed in their most formal attire. Mickey and Minnie joined Heather and Josh for a dance on the dance floor and even assisted them in cutting their cake. Because what is a true Disney wedding without some Disney characters showing up? Before leaving, guests were treated to a full candy bar where they were able to make their own take-home candy bag and fill it to the top. We ate and drank way to much, talked laughed and cried, danced for hours, cheered at every chance possible, and just relished in the magic that was unfolding all around us. If anyone didn’t believe in fairytales, they definitely did after Saturday night.

Around 4am, we headed back to our rooms in the Grand Floridian after bidding all the guests farewell, and Heather and Josh headed to their newlywed suite. I had never been more exhausted, but the adrenaline kept me awake and reminiscing on the night I had just been apart of. As I am back in Gainesville a few days later, I can’t help but only have this weekend on my mind. As the happy couple honeymoons in Cancun, and we all return to reality, I am again sad that the wedding of the century has come and passed.

Josh –  Like we said in our sister speech, I didn’t gain a brother this weekend, because you have been our brother for the past four years. You go above and beyond to help and be there for every member in our family and we know you’ll make Heather the happiest wife there ever was. I am so glad she found her Prince Charming in you and wish y’all a life as magical and happy as this weekend was.

Heather – I am so proud of you and the gorgeous, funny, intelligent, full-of-life woman you have become. I am reminded of our years together and realize not one memory I have doesn’t contain you. You have been my partner, my best friend, my cheerleader, and so much more over the past twenty years and I can’t believe we no longer share the same last name. You will always be the Angelica to my Eliza, the Blair to my Serena, the Brooke Davis to my Haley James Scott, and so much more. I know Josh will give you a lifetime of happiness and I can’t wait to see your happy ending unfold. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and here’s to many more memories together. I love you always.

Bottom line- in all my twenty years of attending Disney, I have never witnessed something as magical or magnificent as I did this weekend. I will remember it always, and know that it will go down as one of the most fabulous, extravagant, over-the-top, elegant weddings of all time. There are not enough words to express the magic that filled this weekend, but this was my attempt in doing so. Heather and Josh’s Disney fairytale wedding on March 11th 2017 was something out of a story book, and will be remembered by all for all of time. Continue to scroll down for a glimpse into the night through some photos 🙂

BIG SHOUTOUT to Judy Hathcock ( you rock mom!) for having the most creative, over the top brain that brings these fantasies and magic to life for us. We love you & you killed it.

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thanks for reading – i love you all xxx

20

I wish I didn’t have to be so cliche in saying I’m different or not like other girls… but I have a reason I swear. I am so that girl, I embrace being as basic as I want to be with no shame, so don’t take it that way. I am not like other girls, or even boys for that matter, because for as long as I can remember I have not been a fan of my birthday.

Now, before you go calling me a liar – keep reading. I do love my birthday, I mean who doesn’t? But since I was around the age of five years old, I have struggled with turning a year older and leaving a year behind. My poor mom probably thought something was wrong with me ( well she probably still does sometimes (-; ) when I told her at the age of five that I did not want a birthday party that year. I can just imagine a curly-headed, know-it-all, five year old Hailee marching right up to my mom and telling her that I would not be turning six that year. You think I’m kidding? Ask anyone who attended our get together on February 25th about fourteen years ago. I refused to turn six, so instead my mom through me a “Friendship Party” and I would cry any time someone tried to tell me Happy Birthday. I want to look back and call myself a brat for these insane demands, but I see now that I was right.

I hate turning a year older. Don’t get me wrong, I love and accept change, but growing older is something I never wished for. I am content at this age of kinda an adult but kinda still a kid. I like being able to call my mom whenever I need her, or ask my dad how to do things on a daily basis. I like having the luxury to focus on school and just living life as a college student instead of working a full-time job. I am not ready to grow older and turn 20 tomorrow. I wish I could freeze time and live this life forever. I see my five year old self more than ever today when looking at how time flies by. I was smart back then, I knew how good of a thing I had going for me and I just wasn’t ready to take the jump to a new age and another year of life behind me. Today I am the same. I love the attention and the celebration, if you don’t… you’re a liar, that comes along with my birthday. I love the presents and the birthday posts. I love eating dessert all day and spending time with my loved ones. I love all things birthdays, whether my own or those celebrating around me, but every year that passes breaks my heart a little more.

In a few hours, I will be twenty years old. Twenty years of life in this crazy world. Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will take the leap from my exciting teenage years and delve into the real world of my twenties. Just like my last post, where I struggled with this idea of leaving the past behind, I feel myself doing the same thing in these past few days of my nineteenth year. Maybe I am not ready to put the past year or so of my life behind me and journey out into the unknown. So, although tomorrow is inevitable maybe I can use this post to reminisce on all of the moments my teenage years have brought me, as well as brace myself for what entering my twenties will mean.

Now – let me first say in no way am I complaining about the way I am spending my birthday weekend, or any past birthday. Hathcock birthday celebrations are in no way something that is taken lightly, and of course this year is no exception. From extravagant birthday parties, to large birthday dinners, and even amazing birthday trips… celebrating birthdays in our family is not just a day but a week of sweet texts and full attention on you. I mean come on, who doesn’t love receiving the infamous “Birthday Princess” text from my mom? Because I know half of you have received it yourself. Our birthdays are a week of celebrating, happiness, and family that doesn’t even end when your birthday does.

So yes, this weekend I am traveling to my favorite place in the world, New York City, with a few of my favorite people in the world, to ring in not a new year but a new chapter in my life. I’ll eat at all my favorite restaurants, NOBU being a must, demand loads of pictures be taken without complaint, sorry Kyle (-; , see my favorite Broadway show, and just relish in this final weekend of being nineteen going-on twenty. Twenty is torturous already, I know…

Though the Sound of Music reference and the itinerary of this weekend may have left you in positive spirits, I feel as if my spirits are not quite to that level yet. I know that 20 will come with more hardships, tears, hours of studying, and responsibility then any year so far. However, I also suspect that 20 will come with a positivity that cannot be overlooked: more memories, new friends, life-changing moments, adventure, and hopefully, lots of happiness. Guys – I am completely terrified. Birthdays are what everyone else looks forward to, right? Getting presents, eating cake, wearing a cute Birthday pin, and watching all your friends post throwback pictures of you to social media. Why why why can I not kick my six year old self to the side and get all the way excited about this milestone birthday?

Tomorrow is coming, no matter how much I pout or fight it, I will soon be a twenty year old. No longer able to claim I’m too young to no better or to care. So, I guess I have no choice but to move along, but maybe today I’ll spend just a few moments reflecting. Reflecting on all the insane moments my teenage years have brought me… from life changes, to big events, to new places and faces – the past seven years have been nothing short of extraordinary. In the past few years I have moved out of my parent house, moved to a new city, transferred to my dream school, adopted a dog, joined a sorority, found my best friend who awesomely duels as my boyfriend, graduated high school, got my first (& only) tattoo, started a photography hobby/business, travelled the world, discovered Hamilton, and so so much more. Who would want to leave that all behind?

 

I know my twenties will also hold positive moments, and I will probably dread turning 30 in ten years from now. Just like at the beginning of 2017, I will start with a blank slate on which I will then pave out to be my twentieth year. My twentieth year of trying, of loving, of sometimes struggling, and of living. My twentieth year of finding my path in life and discovering who I am, and who I am meant to be. My twentieth year of ups and downs, and hopefully many more adventures. Maybe this next year of life will allow me to do and try new things that I would have never imagined. I will never, ever be keen on losing time and leaving moments in the past, but I will move forward and celebrate this inevitable and exciting beginning to my twentieth year of my life. I am surrounded by the people I love and am so incredibly blessed to have even made it this far in life – and I definitely couldn’t have done it alone. I can now look back on my teenage years and regret nothing, which is something that not many people can confidently say. Alright, alright, I am officially done complaining about turning twenty – I am ready for what this year will bring me, all the good and all the bad.

So, here is my challenge to myself from tomorrow until February 25th, 2018 –  In the next 365 days I will travel to 20 new places, meet 20 new people, read 20 new books, try 20 new foods, and have 20 insane moments that will then transform into 20 everlasting memories. Here’s to a full year of making things happen and owning all things 20. Bring it on.

xx,  the newest twenty year old on the block

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New Year, not so new me

If you’ve checked any social media in the past week, and let’s be honest- you have, you can pretty much get the gist of how people feel when it comes to 2016 as a whole. Clever memes comparing the year to anything terrible fill my timelines with only the negatives that the year may have brought us. Everyone seems to be ready to leave 2016 in the past and move onto a new year and a fresh start. I’m all about a fresh start, but what I’m not so all about is leaving 2016 behind.

This year seemed to have started just like all the rest…I thought 2016 would be just like every other year- eventful and busy, starting with me making resolutions I probably couldn’t keep or follow through with and end with that same sitting regret of everything I didn’t do or get to. I imagined a year full of memories and some travel, but didn’t even come close to picturing all the potential 2016 may have in store for me. What I didn’t know was how much my life would change in just one year.

At this point the title may seem a little confusing, am I right? Especially after I just told you how much my life altered all thanks to 2016. New year, yes. New me, not so much. I honestly feel like I stopped changing in a way somewhere between the start of senior year and the end of my first semester of college. That whole year and a half was a time of growth and change that really shaped me and the way I see people and especially moments in my life. I don’t see myself changing in any extreme ways over the next year, but who knows. I’d like to better myself but not change who I am. I’d definitely be game with leaving some things behind as I move forward to a new year, but also cherish all the blessings this past year has dropped in front of me. I’d let to go of the pain this year has brought, the people who may have done me wrong, the moments that didn’t go my way, the grudges I’ve held against people, and even let go of those toxic people in my life that for some reason I’ve held onto. I want to leave all the negativity of these past three hundred and sixty-five days behind and jump into the new year with no regret or hard feelings. If this year taught me anything it’s how much one year can change your life and your view of the world.

So yes, I’m not quite ready to leave another year in the past and forget about all the joys it brought me in just 365 days. Now don’t get me wrong, our country has had a rough year… from it being an insane election year, to the shooting in Orlando, the devastating phenomenon that was Harambe, and the deaths of legends like Alan Rickman, David Bowie, and Carrie Fisher(even though I’ve yet to see Star Wars… I’ll get to it, I promise). All of these events shook our world for a time and left us wondering “why?”.  So, in that case I guess I see the want in moving on to a new year and looking forward instead of behind. But we can’t just move on and ignore all the amazing things that took place this year like USA bringing home Gold in the Rio Olympics, finally being blessed with the sequel of Finding Nemo, the Cubs winning the World Series, and ayeeee, Leo DiCaprio even won an Oscar. I don’t want to even get close to going into the subject of politics or this year’s election, but no matter the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton, the first woman ran for President of the United States, and in my eyes, that’s something we should all find pride in. 2016 surely had it’s ups and downs and no matter how it treated you, it’s almost time for it’s end – meaning it’s almost time to start kicking ourselves when we write the wrong date down for the first few weeks of January.

So, back to my life changing, almost completely, for the better – all thanks to 2017. This year I took a leap and ventured on a journey to a new state, a new school, a new home, and all new friends. My acceptance to the University of Florida has been a dream of mine and my dad’s since I could first utter the word “Gators”, and when weighing all my options, I knew I would always regret it if I made the decision to not at least try to fulfill this life-long dream of mine. So when August came around, I packed up my condo and my two pups and headed south to Gainesville. Now I’m not saying everything was like you see in the movies where you instantly feel at home, make tons of new friends, and are just so genuinely happy. I went to my first weeks of classes not knowing anyone other than a few friends I had made at Gator Tennis Camp in my eleven years of attendance, and in all honesty, it was terrible and I felt completely alone and discouraged. I contemplated whether or not I had made the right decision or just a huge mistake – I called my mom, boyfriend, and best friend every night ( in rotation, okay…I’m not a complete loser ) just to feel less lonely – all I wanted was for this to all pass and to get that feeling that I had always dreamed about and seen in those movies I was referring to. Well, I ended up inheriting three hundred-something new sisters, started coming out of my shell in classes and talking to new people, and getting involved in clubs and whatever I could to not think about missing home. Eventually, a day came where I just started to feel that genuine happiness and could tell I was finally at home and in love with my school. I made friends that I already can’t go a day without speaking to and realized this journey had the potential to be so much more than what I was making it. So yah… my life is definitely a lot different than it was twelve months ago, and no matter any of the hard times this year may have thrown my way, the good times surely out-weighed them all.

This year wasn’t solely about school and venturing out on my own, I also got to travel, make memories with my friends, spend quality time with my family, and just live this crazy life I have been blessed with. I know, I’ve done a lot of ranting about myself and my life in this post but I swear I’m almost done – but first I have to get to a few of the highlights this year has brought me. Before I put on my sparkly new years dress and ring in midnight with my family, I’m throwing it back to all of my favorite moments of this year. 2016- you brought laughs and fights, tears and memories, adventures and so so much love. This year I drank way too much coffee, was blessed with the most beautiful nephew, got to see Hamilton TWO times, traveled to multiple cities, ate at least a hundred sushi rolls, finally got a Gilmore Girls revival, took a whole lot of pictures, watched the Gators reach the SEC Championship, took a selfie with Justin Bieber, got to celebrate my sister and best friend’s engagements, changed majors, went to Disney nine different times, helped my boyfriend celebrate his 21st birthday, spent every holiday with my huge family, and truly lived.

I started the year in the Bahamas and will wrap it up from the west coast, in Vegas.I hope and plan to go into this year with my eyes and mind wide open. I want to take every opportunity that comes my way head on and without doubt. I want to actually follow through on some of my resolutions, write my heart out through this blog, do even more traveling, and take even more pictures in 2017. So, here’s my challenge to you and to myself – if you do nothing else in this last day of 2016, simply reflect on all the good things that happened in your life and in the lives of those around you this year. Cherish those memories and those people that consumed your 2016, and I promise I’ll do the same. The year is ending and so a new one begins, let’s do everything in our power to take advantage of that. This year we will be stronger, braver, kinder, wiser, & unstoppable! So here’s to you, 2017 – don’t disappoint us.

cheers. xx

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