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 Malolo Island, Fiji

It’s about 30-60 min boat ride from Denarau Port to Malolo Island. It really depends on the type of boat.

We arrived and were introduced with Fijian band playing music, a beautiful Fijian lei and a refreshing sweet tea drink. It was 10 pm at night. We were famished, even though they stopped serving dinner at 9:45, they were extremely nice enough to let us have something to eat before we checked in.

Nonetheless, we were served a 4 course meal. Amazing.

Yep. That’s octopus.

We got a lesson on their language. Bula “hello”, Moltha “goodbye”, Vinaka “thank you”.

It really is paradise here. I’ve been to a lot of places around the world and nothing compares to this magical paradise. The service, the friendliest staff around, the food, everything is top notch.

I felt like I was in a dream the whole time…waiting for someone to pinch me.

I’m so glad we decided to spend the last leg of the trip after a 10 day tour of Australia and New Zealand and unwind for a couple days here at Malolo Island, Likuliku Lagoon Resort. Our room was over the water. With the best views of other Fijian islands possible. It was amazing. I could not wait to go swimming. But, swimming at night wasn’t advised. I waited like a good mermaid should and went in the morning.

The resort is the first ever and only to offer over water bungalows in Fiji.

We spent our first day snorkeling off our bungalow. We had so many fishes, stingrays, sharks, eels, even squid and beautiful corals. It’s quite possibly the best reefs I’ve seen next to the Great Barrier Reefs.

Second day here, we decided to rent a jet ski, tour and snorkel at some of the islands.

We went to the island Modriki where the movie “Cast Away” was filmed. We snorkeled there as well. We jet skied by the island Manu where the TV show “Survivor” is being set up for production. Finally, we went to Honeymoon Island where we jumped off the skis and snorkeled for quite a bit. From what I understand is only guests of the two resorts (Malolo Resort and Likuliku Resort) can snorkel around it.

Modriki is the island to the far left behind us.

The owners of Likuliku (from what I understand) owns Malolo Resort (kid friendly) and Honeymoon Island. Phew!

Honeymoon Island behind us

Honeymoon Island is behind us.

45 rooms here. Adult only. 10 bungalows and the rest are beachfront. One pool. Some of the beachfront rooms have a small pool. (Not sure if all beachfront rooms have one.) One restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner all inclusive. Food is amazing here. But so are the drinks! (Drinks are extra.) They worry about food allergies. The menu is different every day. SO GOOD. Fresh. Mostly seafood.

We enjoyed their local beer, Fiji Premiums and Golds. Also, Vonu beer which is Fijian for Sea Turtles.

Everyone here is super friendly and says Bula. Every day.

I even got to meet their mascot, Coco. She’s a yellow lab. Legit loving her life. She gets to play ball on the beach, dig in the sand, swim all day, and gets butt rubs from strangers.

They have an awesome iguana sanctuary.

Breakfast was from 7-10. Lunch 12-2 and dinner begins at 7. We’re served different snacks in the room in between. Different varieties of fruits, one day was sushi and other was some sort of a delicious bread and dip. Holy moly.

Justin got to play rugby with some of the staff members.

We even joined in on a Kava Ceremony. It’s a drink made from the roots of a pepper plant. It makes your lips and tongue go numb and bring you a sense of relaxation. It may not be for everyone. Just saying.

It’s really a magical place. 3 days was not enough. I learned so much about their culture. I was so sad leaving. This was truly an amazing trip. One I will never forget.

If anyone gets an opportunity to do a trip like we did here in Fiji, you won’t regret it. We were living the dream…

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Back to reality.

Mind you, we just did Saturday twice.