Year in Review: 23 Crazy(ish) Things that Happened in 2023

Crossing the finish line on another year of achievements!

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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE lists!

And I love looking back on the past year and reminiscing about all that’s happened and all that I accomplished.

So if you’re following along on this journey with me, here are my favorite highlights from 2023 (ordered partly chronologically, partly based on how exciting it was, and partly not at all…):

#1: I got free pants

In February I was contacted by an outdoor/travel clothing company to do a product review for them. I got to pick any pair of pants I wanted from their website, gave them my size, and they sent them to me for free!

And these pants cost $100! This was definitely one of the coolest things that happened to me in 2023.

#2: I was featured in another blog

In January I was asked to participate in a blog about things to do in Connecticut. I was one of many featured businesses in the Redfin blog on CT, which was published on my birthday (scroll down to the fall section to find my contribution)!!

#3: I was asked to use my photos in a documentary

True story. In February I got an email from a documentary filmmaker asking to use my photos in a film she was making about Jamestown, NY!

But… then she never responded back to me again after I answered her… But I am still counting this as one of the coolest things that happened to me in 2023.

#4: Started my Etsy shop

The goal is to eventually offer actual prints of my travel photos for sale in my Etsy Shop! But for now… it’s just the images, which you can download and use however you would like (on the plus side, this deal comes with instant gratification!).

A highlight of my year, though, is the reason I started my Etsy Shop this year: I got an inquiry on instagram for someone to buy one of my photos which, and I quote, “makes her crazy!”

#5: Completed the Disney Princess 5K

I trained for two months to run the Disney Princess 5K with one of my best friends, and it was SO. MUCH. FUN! (Although they don’t time the 5K, so the training was irrelevant…).

And then my whole family met me in Florida to visit Disney, explore St. Pete’s, and hit the beach. This trip, and completing the 5K, was absolutely my favorite highlight from 2023.

#6: Made my first affiliate booking

Now that I’m working less and blogging more, I am starting to expand how the blog makes money. So I became an affiliate marketer for Amazon and for (what this means is, if you book/order through a link from my site, I get a small commission!).

When I first added links to, I wasn’t sure anybody would click on them. And I certainly didn’t expect anyone (besides myself) to book through them. So I was so excited when I made my first booking in April.

And then another!

And then another!

It turned out to be a decent source of income over the past year. So go ahead and take this as a sign to book a trip! ;)

#7: Celebrated our 5 year anniversary

I can’t believe I’ve been married for 5 years…

5 years ago I had a “5 year anniversary” trip planned to South Africa to see the penguins. This was of course after our 3-months long road trip across the country, neither of which have happened yet.

Covid certainly changed the plans I made for myself, but nevertheless, Jason and I did get our trip to England & Scotland in, and we have a fun trip planned for next year!! We also took a day trip to the Coffee & Chocolate Festival at Peek ‘N Peak Resort for our anniversary (not quite as exciting as South Africa, but a good deal more practical…).

#8: Started a job in the travel industry

In the spring, I harnessed my inner Lorelai Gilmore and began working at a historic Victorian hotel. My brilliant idea was to get some hotel experience at this seasonal hotel, so then I would work part-time year-round at one of our chain hotels, thus entitling me to discounts at ALL of their establishments across the globe!!!

Unfortunately… I made friends… so now I have to go back to said seasonal hotel next year! Although I am a fan of the time off to travel and blog…!

#9: Saw Sean Astin (again!)

At the very end of June, my sister and I wore our matching LOTR shirts to hear Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee) speak at Chautauqua Institution!! This was definitely a highlight of my year!!!

We had met him and all three other actors who played the hobbits in LOTR last year at Steelcitycon, at which we told Sean, “See you next summer!” And we did!

#10: Escaped ALL the escape rooms

My sister and our husbands went to visit our cousins in Massachusetts, who own THE BEST escape room on Cape Cod (and also had to be informed that NO, my sister and I are NOT twins…!). We tried three of their five escape rooms, and escaped all of them!

#11: Checked another state off my 50 States Bucket List!

While in Massachusetts, we were just a quick jaunt away from Providence, RI, a city I had on my radar because I found a donut shop on Instagram that’s based there.

So naturally we had to stop and get donuts.

AND we also got to say that we’ve been to Rhode Island. Because really, what’s the point of traveling if you don’t get to check places off your 50 states bucket list?

#12: Hit 10,000 monthly views!

In May, I passed the 10,000 monthly views threshold on my blog. This was a huge milestone for me because:

#13: Hit 20,000 monthly views!

4 months after hitting 10,000 monthly views, I had over 20,000 monthly views! September ended with over 22,000 views on the blog.

#14: Read all about the National Parks

Another speaker I saw at Chautauqua Institution this summer was Conor Knighton, a news correspondent who spent a year traveling to EVERY National Park in the US.

Naturally, I had to buy his book after the lecture.

Also naturally, I had to wait an hour in the rain for him to sign it. Since, you know, I was already right there.

I highly recommend this book! I had to stop reading every few pages to Google each new National Park, and add it to my ever growing bucket list. Which also leads me to the next entry on this list:

#15: Visited a National Park

Arguably one of the least exciting National Parks, Cuyahoga Valley NP is still a National Park! It also happens to be right on the way to Indiana, where I went to visit some college friends (and Santa Claus…).

I made a quick stop at Brandywine Falls, which are in fact beautiful and worth stopping at. I also nerded out a little because I insist on believing that the falls were clearly named after the Brandywine River in the Shire.

#16: Explored castles!

I love castles! I also love when I find cute castles within driving distance, and don’t have to fly to Scotland (although I love Scotland too!).

I found a couple castles this year:

#17: Traveled solo

I went on a quick weekend trip to Connecticut in 2021 to update my Gilmore Girls blog. It was the first time I really traveled solo (without meeting up with someone), but it was only a couple days.

This year, once the hotel closed for the season, I took off on two road trips by myself! One to Connecticut, and one to Indiana (where I did spend the majority of time with friends).

But the Connecticut trip was completely alone. And yes, all the pictures you see of me were taken entirely by me on my tripod! It was fun, and in some ways easier than traveling with someone else. But it also got sad and lonely. And I had no one to kill the giant spider in the shower…

In the middle of my trip, I got an email from a travel blogger with her article full of solo travel tips! This was super encouraging to find out that it’s normal to get lonely, and to not let that stop me from planning more solo trips in the future!

#18: Explored my hometown

I didn’t travel too far away for most of the summer (I was working, you know!). But I tried to explore as much of my hometown as possible, especially trying things that I had never done before.

I did have an ulterior motive with my summer explorations—making this video about things to do in Jamestown! I ended up rushing to get it done by the end of the summer…amidst working three jobs at the time. But it still turned out well enough to get attention from my favorite bakery (see next)!

#19: Got called out on social media!

My favorite bakery said I was one of their favorite YouTubers (insert starry-eyed emoji)!!! I don’t even consider myself a YouTuber… which made it even more special to me when they called me out. I felt a little #validation from them! ;)

As a bonus on this entry, here are some other social media wins for 2023:

  • Having my photo featured by PV Donuts

  • Having MY article pinned on the same board as articles by bloggers I follow and admire (cue another starry-eyed emoji)!!!

#20: Rode on the Erie Canal (and sang the song)

I also tried to fit writing an article about things to do in Buffalo into my crazy summer schedule. That article is still in the works (in other words, still needs to be started), but I did manage to find some time with Jason to explore a little bit of the Buffalo area.

We went up to Lockport one Sunday afternoon to ride a cruise on the Erie Canal—a super unique experience! They also played the song (#IYKYK), and if you follow me on Facebook, you will have seen the video of us singing it!

And if you do know the song, it will probably be stuck in your head for the rest of the day now. You’re welcome.

#21: Watched ALL the Hallmark movies

Between writing articles and packing for trips, I tried to fit in as many Hallmark Christmas movies as I could.

For research.

BECAUSE… I found out that they film A LOT of Hallmark movies in Canada. Like, 90% (also Lifetime, Netflix, GAF, all of them). And one town in particular is a favorite of holiday movie directors.

So obviously I planned a trip.

And watched a lot of Hallmark movies.

#22: Went to Canada to see where they film all the Hallmark movies

At the very beginning of December, Jason and I drove up to Canada to visit Ottawa and Almonte, Ontario.

Almonte is the adorable little town where they film lots of Hallmark movies! But Ottawa has its fair share of filming locations as well.

We ate beaver tails, tried poutine, failed at using public transportation, managed to find our way to the Christmas market, went watched ice skating, froze, ate too much, walked it off, accidentally marched in a protest, watched Christmas movies, and added more stops after watching said Christmas movies.

It was a great time (right Jason??)!

#23: Tried too many donuts…

To be clear… these are not ALL the donuts I ate in 2023, just the new shops I tried on my travels!

And on that sweet note, I’ll end this regaling of my past year and go back to working on actual informative articles, like updating my list of the best donuts in the US, which is woefully behind.

Here’s to a new year, lots of exciting travels, and many more donuts eaten!

Happy 2024!