Best of 2018

What a year it’s been. 2019 is finally here.

I was recently in NY for a ski trip with my family celebrating the new year festivities.

One night, we all sat together enjoying dinner, sharing laughs, stories, reminiscing on our past. I took a step back listening and observing how much we’ve all grown.

I decided to share my 5 top favorites of 2018.

1-The trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. It was an amazing trip. One we could not get enough of. It almost led to a move to New Zealand! JK. I mean, we did try.

But wait, here’s more!

Sorry, can’t help it!

2-The Super Bowl LII. New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles = Justin vs Amanda. It was definitely a divided house. An unbelievable win. Talk about a quiet week after that. Go Eagles!

3-My first weightlifting meet. I did something that scares me. I am forever humbled.

4-Our big adventure with Texas. It was quite a rollercoaster of the unknown and I could not be more proud of my husband taking on a new opportunity. This will be extremely emotional to leave behind but exciting new adventures awaits in the new year!

5-I launched my blog with the idea to share my story and be an advocate. Not just for the deaf and hard of hearing community but to show others hearing or not, there’s potential within you all. It’s grown to lifestyle, food and adventures. I sure hope to influence and inspire many more!

There are 365 pages to fill. You are your own author of these pages. May the new year shine light, lots of love, and peace. Remember, jump in with open heart and know there are far better things ahead than you can imagine. Take last year’s losses and turn it into this year’s growth. Keep smiling like you mean it and be kind.

Make this year count.

Favorite Eats From My Travels

We all love traveling. There’s sight-seeing, meeting new people, the ability to take shameless wine tours, and let’s not forget about the endless amounts of instagram posts. But the best part of all is the food.

You discover foods you’ve never tried before.

If you’re ever in Auckland, New Zealand:

Giapo

It is such a unique ice cream shop. Seriously so good. Amazing. The most artistic ice cream creation I’ve ever seen. All of their flavors are incredibly so delish. I’m drooling as I’m thinking about the ice creams I had. Plural. I went back twice. It’s that good. Fresh. Creamy. So damn artistic and too pretty to eat. Everything you’d want in an ice cream. Best part of this trip.

Brew On Quay

We had their Green Lipped Mussels. Oh. Em. Gee. It was in coconut curry sauce. I’ve never been a big fan of curry. But now I think that’s changed. Green Lipped Mussels are native to NZ and are bigger, flavorful, and way better than the kinds we get in America. Sorry sad but true.

Mojo Coffee

We flocked there after a workout nearby Crossfit Newmarket. Maybe 3 times. Not only do they have amazing cold brew coffee but such good yummies! It’s full of baked goodies and delicious savory breakfasts. They have locations all over Auckland and 1 in Chicago actually. Hmm, might have to make a short trip back to enjoy another one of their coffee and breakfast in Chicago!

If you’re ever in Sydney, Australia:

Fish Bowl

It’s too bad their website isn’t working at the moment. Truth is, I’ve never had a poke bowl. It’s basically sushi in a bowl. They had a menu of different bowls including options to create your own. It was surprisingly so good, yet so filling! I’m on a hunt to find one at home. Scratch that. I’m going to do this homemade soon.

Two Good Eggs Cafe

We found this cute little gem of a cafe by our hotel. Probably the best coffee I’ve had in Sydney. It’s located in Surry Hills. Everyone was super friendly. We went there three times, first was just for the coffee. Their meals really hit the spot. Cool atmosphere. And really awesome coffee.

Bills

They have several locations but this one was at Bondi Beach. The reviews online had me wanting their hot cakes. They were famous for their ricotta banana pancakes that has honeycomb butter on top. It was literally heaven on earth. It was a huge plate and could be shared with another person but I devoured the whole thing. I washed it down with some passion fruit drink that was so perfect in every way. Again, heaven. Side note: you should probably make reservations. It was that busy.

If you’re ever in Cairns, Australia:

Little Loco

They don’t have a website but you can follow them @littlelococafekitchen on Facebook. We were in Cairns for such a short time. Only to scuba dive. We stopped at this cute outdoor spot and grab a light lunch before heading over to the lagoon pool to kill time before our next flight. Their menu comprised of such light and healthy meals. I grabbed an açaí bowl and Justin got a salad with sweet potatoes and grilled chicken. Perfect light lunch without feeling like a hippo in your bathing suits. Did I mention they were too pretty to eat?!

If you’re ever in Malolo Island, Fiji:

Basically, you need to stay at Likuliku Lagoon Resort to savor every single fresh amazing meal on the menu that changes constantly daily made by the incredible resort chef who we had the pleasure of meeting during their Kava Ceremony. She never disappoints. Sorry not sorry. Yes, I included some of my favorite drinks.

I’m not a huge fish person but is it weird I’ll eat anything on vacation?

Highlights from Auckland, NZ

1.7 million people live in the city of Auckland alone. It’s more than the population of South Island.

Waiheke Island has over 30 wineries and breweries. 12$ for a 40 minute ferry ride over, $40 all day hop on and hop off all over the islands. Best buck for a quick trip.

Crazy fact: Stonyridge Winery sells the Larose 2015 bottle for $650. It’s being shipped to my house. I’m kidding. Just kidding. A glass of their 2014 was $60. We opted for the $18 tasting glass. Cue eye roll.

In case you didn’t know, it’s about $600 in American dollars. Yet, I suck at math so please don’t read this part.

Justin stumbled upon this gourmet ice cream parlor on Instagram and that’s the first place we stopped at when we arrived in Auckland. Giapo. Go follow them on IG. You’ll see what I’m talking about. I got the “Hot Chips in a Cone” with some kind of amazing ice cream called “Giapo Buono”. It had amaretti, caramel, and hazelnut pralines. I’m sorry. I was so hungry and tired I didn’t care what flavor I got and forgot to take a picture of my own. Justin got the “Donut Selfie” with “Kiss, Kiss, Kiss” flavor ice cream which was basically a donut on hazelnut chocolate ice cream! Cheers!

In fact, it was SO GOOD, we went back.

Indeed, expensive shit but worth every penny.

Quay St. wasn’t originally a street. It was water up to another street. Maybe two blocks. They filled it in and named new streets from there to the harbor.

Tipping isn’t necessary around here. There are some that will take tips and truly appreciate it.

If you’re hiking in New Zealand, you’re better off buying new hiking boots. Better yet, leave it in the box it came in with a receipt. It was probably one of the strictest customs we had to go through. They can be particular about checking your hiking soles for dirt and seeds you’re bringing in from another country. Because disease.

They’re protective of their Kauri Forrest. If you go up to Arataki Park (pictured above) which is about 30 mins from downtown Auckland, you’ll see so many green. They make you scrub your shoes and spray it before you step foot on the trail. “They’re prone to diseases.” It’s a “dieback” forest which means 100 yrs ago it used to be all farming before the government took over and grew back the forest that was once destroyed. One of their tree was about 300 years old.

1 big, old Kauri tree will build 15 houses. But save the trees here.

No snakes or crocodiles. No native mammals on the island. I guess circa dinosaur years it sank, “floated back” and the only the survived was birds. Chirp.

Black ferns and silver ferns are native plants. You’ll see them on many sport teams around here.

Did I mention we drove by a school and none of the kids had shoes on? The life!

There’s a fall that only has waterfalls if it rains. Beautiful sight. Karekare waterfall. (It poured the first day we arrived. Three days later, lucky enough to see this gorgeous rock still “spilling” rain water.)

Piha is a black sand beach. 300 beach rescues a year. You better be an experienced surfer slash swimmer. Sand was really warm (it’s the beginning of fall in NZ) and it has some sort of iron in it creating a magnetic effect. There’s 3 active volcanos on the other side of the island. Pihas strong currents brought the black dust on the beach.

Their aquarium, Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE, is pretty awesome too if you want to discover their native ocean species. If you’ve seen the movie “Blackfish”, they’re a firm believer in saving whales and other wildlife. Only bringing in species that have been in captivity around the world. I’m a mermaid so that’s like my guru shit. Thank you guys.

Next stop, P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney, Australia….