Last New Year’s Eve, I begged for this year to be a ‘Sweet 16’ and while it’s been a right nightmare for some people (and I’d be seriously sweating it if I was some kind of mega celebrity), it has been pretty damn good to me.
I mean, the past three days have involved a smashed iPhone screen and a flat tyre … but to celebrate the last day of 2016, I prefer to focus on what I’m grateful for.
I’ve had so many laughs, made so many new friends, wore some amazing outfits, taken a stand against bullshit “journalism”, attended some fabulous events and visited Miami, New York, LA, Sydney and … Rockhampton.
So here’s to all of that. But mostly, here’s to the people who made all of those moments so fantastic!
In lieu of a year in review, here are 20 of the best moments from 2016 (in no particular order):
Going on a family vacation … kind of
Okay, it so wasn’t a vacation but we all flew to Rockhampton and Yeppoon for one day to check out some stuff and have lunch. It probably doesn’t quite compete with previous holidays to the US or even Noosa, but given I got to spend the day with the three people I love most, it goes down as one of the good ones.
Taking a bike tour through Brooklyn
I have yet to share a blog post about this because I had such an amazing day that it’s really hard to write about … but I will! Until then, I will keep recommending it to people because our tour guide Felipe was fantastic, we saw so much, ate so much and had so much fun. Plus, I met Sydneysiders Kylie, Ryan and Tiffany who transformed my week in NYC into a laughter and cocktail filled extravaganza … starting with a post-bike tour bar crawl in which I kissed a very handsome New Yorker on a rooftop bar and we all ended up drunk in a restaurant at 11.30pm!
Celebrating the 4th of July in New York
Life goal achieved when I celebrated the biggest of American holidays in New York. Despite our hangovers, Kylie, Ryan, Tiff and I threw on some red, white and blue and took ourselves to Coney Island to eat hotdogs, ride the cyclone and watch the annual world-famous Hot Dog Eating Contest before heading back to the city for a picnic in Central Park.
I had no idea the Manhattanhenge phenomenon existed until I witnessed it first hand and it was spectacular. And thanks to Travelshoot, I’ve got some fantastic photos of it. Read about it here.
Sailing in Miami
This year I had the chance to tick a lot of things off my bucket list and a few of them happened in Miami; I experienced my first photo shoot with Shoot My Travel, checked out the amazing street art of Wynwood Walls, went sailing and snorkelling off Miami Beach (the colour of the water was breathtaking), saw the gorgeous pink lifeguard hut and art deco district, and went skinny dipping under a star lit sky. If you’re heading to Miami, check out my guide here.
Dancing in my hotel room
After being upgraded for my stay at The Standard in Downtown LA, I decided to celebrate (and show off the vast expanse of my room … which I’m pretty sure was the same size as my entire apartment) by hosting a one woman dance party. I posted it to Facebook and Instagram so everyone back home could have a laugh and low and behold … it’s had more than 10,000 views! (I then launched my own YouTube channel which you can find and subscribe to here.)
Melbourne Cup with the girls
After working for months to develop Mater Foundation’s new website, Cass, Mel and I decided to reward ourselves by taking the afternoon off to celebrate Melbourne Cup at Paddington’s Libertine bar and restaurant. And I won a magnum of Mumm for having the best hat!
Family Christmas Party post-party
It was the second year we hosted a Christmas party at mum and dad’s house. Once again, it was a great afternoon/night filled with food, drinks and dancing to Tuffy. But it was once almost everyone had gone home that the real magic happened; my brother turned up the iPhone and, with no prior planning, him and I did what I’m pretty sure was a weird/hilarious duet to Islands in the Stream. Because we’re weird like that.
Flying business class
After hoarding my Qantas Frequent Flyer points for the past decade waiting for this moment, I was over the moon when a text message came through confirming I’d been upgraded to Business Class for my flight to LAX in June. It was everything I hoped it would be; there were complimentary pyjamas and Kate Spade toiletries kit; mouth-watering meals developed by Neil Perry’s Rockpool which were served on real plates with a real knife and fork; and when it was time to sleep, my chair converted to a bed meaning I arrived at LAX feeling (and looking) human! I then hit the jackpot when that magic little text message appeared again the day of my flight back to Brisbane. A huge thanks to Dad who gave up his Frequent Flyer points to bring me home in style.
Watching What Brooke Wore grow
Who knew starting an Instagram account would bring so much goodness into my life? Although I started What Brooke Wore in 2015, I seem to have really found my place in our little online community in 2016. I continued to captain #teamstripes with pride, collaborated with some amazing local brands, met some super cool women and realised that it’s okay to have an intense love of clothes and discovered that the best inspiration comes from real, everyday women, not the pages of a fancy fashion magazine.
Seeing Chris Hemsworth in person
This one doesn’t really need an explanation, right? I mean, he’s Thor. And was voted the World’s Sexist Man in 2014. And luck led to me stumbling upon him as he wrapped up filming Thor in Brisbane. Read about it here.
Speaking at Brisbane Fashion Weekend
This. Was. Huge. As someone who freaks out at the mere prospect of public speaking, it took some serious balls and pep talks from mum and Katy to get me on the stage at the inaugural Brisbane Fashion Weekend to talk about fashion trends, the world of ‘influencers’ and body confidence. But I did it and I loved it.
Eating a pretzel while walking across Brooklyn Bridge
When it comes to bucket lists and trips to NYC, it doesn’t get any better than walking across the Brooklyn Bridge … unless you add in a hot, salty pretzel.
Seeing Anna-Nicole in LA and having dinner at SUR
Nine years ago Anna Nicole and I met at the lost luggage counter at Madrid International Airport the day before our Contiki tour kicked off. She lives in Perth and while we’ve had a few catch ups over the years, nothing was more exciting than discovering we were going to be in LA on the same night in July. We immediately booked in for dinner at SUR in West Hollywood because … Vanderpump Rules (sadly, we did not see anyone from the show there … but the food was amazing!).
Seeing Bryan Adams at Sirromet
Katy and I kicked off the year’s antics with A Day on the Green headlined by Bryan Adams. Not even the threat of rain could dampen our joy at belting out classics including Summer of 69, Everything I Do, The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me and Heaven. See more photos from our day here.
Hosting Christmas party
Living in what sometimes feels like a very tiny apartment has always made the thought of entertaining a little overwhelming, but with a little peer pressure from the girls, I thought ‘f*** it’ and hosted Christmas drinks in the form of an Ugly Christmas Sweater party for some of my new blogger friends. The air con was cranking (because it was one of the hottest December days), the drinks were flowing (find the recipe for frosé here and Tequila Paloma cocktails here) and the dance moves were outstanding.
Byron Bay beach hangs
Byron and Bangalow became my second home this year, especially earlier in the year, when freelancing gave me a chance to duck down and visit my friends Shannon (who I have known since Grade One) and Willie and their gorgeous kiddies most weeks. While my visits slowed down in the second half of the year because of work and events, I did squeeze in one last trip before the end of the year and returned home with a huge smile on my freshly freckled face.
Seeing the Big Prawn, Ballina
On one of my Byron/Bangalow visits, we had to do a run to Ballina airport to drop off one of Shan’s friends and she took me to Bunnings so I could get a photo with The Big Prawn. I tell you what, it was majestic and way better than the Big Orange on the way to Toowoomba.
Regional Flavours weekend
Food, glorious food. In the lead up to this year’s Regional Flavours weekend, I was invited to spend two days eating, drinking, laughing and driving around Brisbane and the Lockyer Valley with a handful of bloggers, celeb chef Alastair McLeod and some cool peeps from Brisbane Marketing. Read more and lust over the food photos here and here.
Went viral in my undies
No one – especially me – ever expected this to happen, but all it took was one photo in my undies and a few choice words (read them here) expressing my disappointment at Daily Mail Australia’s attack on Samantha Armytage’s choice of underwear and suddenly more than 30,000 people on Instagram had seen me in my undies.
Thank you to everyone who continues to read Blonde Ambition, follow What Brooke Wore or generally play a part in my life.
May your 2017 be filled with adventure, joy, gratitude and love. Always love.