This is my ninth yearly recap on this blog. NINTH! I have been sharing my life from this space for almost 10 years! You can read previous years’ recaps at the bottom of this post. As I review my year, I counted six weddings, three trips to Arkansas, and six trips to Houston. Travel highlights outside of trips to Arkansas and Houston were Miami, Barcelona, and Toronto.
2016 was my first full year not working a conventional 9-5 job. I worked part-time in an engineering firm and supplemented the rest of my income with freelancing jobs that ranged from photography, blogging, social media marketing, and teaching drawing with Artful Bachelorette. I didn’t make as much as I would have with a full-time job but haven’t been this professionally happy. My biggest source of freelance income was photography which lights me up. I’ve dreamed of becoming a professional photographer since high school and years before I even owned a DSLR. I’m nowhere near established but my slow and steady pursuit of it this year has been the most fulfilled I’ve ever been professionally.
Sugarface and I rang in the New Year dolled up at a New Year’s Eve wedding in Arkansas. I had never seen him look so handsome in a tux before! We spent the first few days of the year in Arkansas and enjoyed some quality time with his parents. Shortly after getting back from Arkansas, we celebrated our first anniversary by watching Die Hard and eating dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Also in January, I got to try my hands at sausage making!. Finally, we ended the month the same way we started it, that is, dressed up for another wedding.
In February, I spent a weekend in Fredericksburg with Sugarface and our puppies. We ate around Fredericksburg and played Scrabble while drinking pink champagne. That weekend was my favorite memory from February.
A close second favorite memory was Valentine’s Day. We started the day with breakfast tacos, watched my friend run the Austin Marathon, and had a chicken tender-off for lunch and ordered chicken tenders from around town to see who had the best one. For dinner, I was just about to make the same dinner I made for him the previous Valentine’s Day when I received a text from one of my besties. She couldn’t make her reservations and gifted us an elegant multi-course dinner at an esteemed restaurant in Austin. We literally had ten minutes to decide and make the seating. It made me feel so lucky to have kind thoughtful friends and a man who is such a willing partner in crime in my life.
March in Austin meant much of the city was under siege for two weeks by SXSW. During SXSW, I usually do a few food-related events and my friend Patrick Pho, one of the handful of friends I’ve met through Youtube comes every year. We had our yearly reunion with Ashley.
Sugarface and I attended our third wedding of the year. This one was our first Indian wedding and we felt so honored to be part of our friend’s day. Kind of related, I got ordained as a minister. I even paid extra for the paper certificate which came with a parking pass that made me laugh. I told Sugarface I’ll frame it next to his PhD.
For my dad’s birthday, I treated my parents to a weekend trip in Miami. We stayed with my longtime friend, Nazanin. It was there I decided to experiment with taking more photos of humans in addition to my ongoing food photography endeavors. After taking Nazanin’s photos in Miami, I declared to my friends and the internet that I am seeking more opportunities to take portraits. My friend Julie obliged and let me do the honors of shooting her engagement photos.
We were leaving @dnophsker's parents' when he spied a tiny patch of bluebonnets. Tiny. He asked if I wanted to take a picture with the bluebonnets, which cracked me up since the patch was miniscule. But then he flopped on his belly in front of it and I had no other choice but to flop on my belly next to him. It's a wonder the selfie is in focus since I was shaking so hard with laughter. #instagood #fujifilm #austinblogger #austinbloggers #bluebonnets #texas #austin
I spent the first day and last weekend in May at the same hiking trail and swimming creek with the dogs and Sugarface. Summer finally arrived and the sweaty hikes and swimming adventures with our dogs are a couple of my favorite things about summers in Austin. Though much of the month was spent partaking in the usual activities of working, organizing happy hours for food bloggers, and grabbing bites with friends, I also attended two special events.
The first event was the yearly Fancy Dress Night with Sugarface’s work. I attended this event even before he did, when I used to work with his boss years ago. It was nice to still come to this tradition as an alum and a plus one. The second special occasion was the wedding of one of my besties, Thomas. I got to use my fancy minister certificate but alas, no one called me Reverend Linda.
June was a fun one. I had three photo shoots with friends, a baby announcement, author photos, and a couple session with Dan and Treavor. I’m happy my friends are giving me opportunities to practice portraiture! Sugarface and I ended the month road-tripping to Arkansas with Bob and Neva to celebrate the Fourth of July with his family.
I spent the first few days of the month with Sugarface and our dogs visiting his family (which also included 3 other dogs) in Arkansas. I’ve adored his family immediately upon meeting them last year but also come to relish all the time we spend visiting them in their home state. It’s pretty and serene and even the lack of cell service is a welcomed reprieve. Bob the dog, as far as I know had never been on a boat or in Arkansas and he took to the lifestyle. After my weekend in Arkansas, I went to Houston the following weekend to celebrate my mom’s birthday. I took the parents to see this amazing Kusama exhibit.
We came back to Austin and commemorated being together a year and a half by eating at Barley Swine.
I shot another portrait session and then decided to take a leap and against my financial judgement, splurged and bought myself a photography website.
The rest of July was spent eating a lot of ice cream and green tea desserts. I celebrated and shared my birthday at the end of the month with Neva the dog. Sugarface made me feel very special when I came home to pink purple roses and a book he saw I was ogling back in May.
One thing I love about travel is how it makes certain times of your life very memorable. August 2016 is now etched in my memory as the month Sugarface and I took our first international trip together. In fact, it’s the first time we got on a plane together! My biggest blogging regret this year is not properly recapping this trip to Barcelona on this blog and my food blog (except for a post about the Sagrada and two restaurants). Maybe first thing in 2017? You can find my instagram posts from Barcelona here in the meantime.
One month after our first international trip together, we go on our second one! Sugarface had a work trip to Toronto and I couldn’t resist joining him even if it was only for a weekend. In September I also shot my first family and judged a cooking contest sponsored by Gloria Ferrer. I also decided to grow my photography business’s efforts even further and started a dedicated instagram account.
Sugarface’s mom came to visit us and took us to Austin City Limits. She goes every year and this was my first time since 2007! I’ve grown quite attached to Sugarface’s mom and loved having her in Austin. For Halloween, we dressed up the dogs as crocodiles and carved our first pumpkin together (and named him Lyle). I roasted the seeds and decided I will now do this every year. I also attended the glorious Texas Monthly Barbecue Festival. Mmmm. Texas barbecue, so good it makes you dance.
Oh, November. I was so heartbroken by the election, I wept.
I officially added my first emceeing job to my weird batch of freelancing work and got to emcee Austin’s first Mac and Cheese Festival. I took advantage of the opportunity by sharing all the cheesy jokes I could manage without being booed off stage. Sugarface and I spent Thanksgiving in Houston with my family where we overindulged in my mom’s cooking and Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts. I also booked the most photo shoots in the month of November compared to previous months in 2016 and felt like I was making headway in my photography as a business dream!
We attended my friend Julie’s wedding, our 6th and last of 2016. She invited me along with 3 other women with whom we share a dinner club. It was at her wedding that I realized we photograph our food when we get together but haven’t taken one photo together in over five years of having our dinner club. We thankfully remedied that. I also photographed my first newborn multiples photo shoot. One of my favorites of the year!
Sugarface and I spent Christmas weekend in Arkansas with his family. I had Sugarface introduce me to Anthony Chapel in his hometown and it was breathtaking. I plan on requesting we stop by everytime we visit Arkansas now!
I’m not sure yet what we’re doing for New Year’s, if anything. So long as Sugarface and I hug and kiss at the stroke of midnight, I think I’d be happy wherever we are. I know this year felt heavy for many, and if you’re reading this, I want to thank you for supporting my endeavors even if just by following along. I wish you a new year filled with light, joy, and love. Happy New Year to you!