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The Best of 2016
















Just as I was finally getting use to writing 2016, it is about to be 2017. I know I say this every year, but where does the time go? For most, 2016 was not the best of years, myself included. Coming off of an incredible and exciting 2015 abroad, I struggled to re-adjust to life in Florida and settle into dissertation writing full time. But, whether a banner year or not, I always enjoy looking back at the year that was.

January was all about re-adjusting to life back home. Eager to re-nest, I teamed up with Framebridge to create a new gallery wall in my living room (my place needed a lot of TLC after being neglected for a year) and introduced lots of new prints in the Preppy Printshop.

In February I was named a finalist for a prestigious grant, which took me to New York City for the final interview. Of course in true 2016-fashion I did not get the grant, but I made the best of it and enjoyed my time in the city with Emily. After my rejection, I was pretty disappointed and struggled to regain momentum on my dissertation, so I jumped into a new hobby -- learning to sew. February saw my first successful sewing project!

March was the first month where 2016 really began to show its true colors -- Instagram revealed it was going to change its algorithm, and everyone freaked out (I don't know about you, but I am still feeling the effects of this). March was also a month of highs and lows. I wore one of my worst looks of the year (here) and one of my favorite looks of the year (here). You win some, you lose some. In better news, March was the month that I finally put together my comprehensive map guide of Florence.

April was a good month -- Sprinkles Cupcakes opened up walking distance from my house, unseasonably cool temps allowed for perfect picnics with my bestie, and Emily and I started planning our big summer trip!

In May I finally returned to my beloved Florence for the summer. I worked for a study abroad program and stayed to do some more research in the archive. Part of my job working with students is planning the groups's excursions around Tuscany and Italy. My favorite trip in May was our tour of the San Vito winery. It was a gorgeous day full of good food and even better wine.

June was a crazy month, my study abroad program was in full swing and we were traveling every weekend. We visited Venice and the colorful island of Burano. We also went to a 600-year-old winery and estate that may or may not have been the home of the real Mona Lisa. Finally, I worked up the nerve to drive a vintage Fiat through the Tuscan countryside.

Hands down, July was my favorite month of 2016. It was the month that started in Provence and ended in Paris! Emily and I road tripped through the lavender and sunflower fields of Provence and then chateau hopped around the Loire Valley. We ended our trip in Paris before I headed back to Florence for my final weeks there.

The month of August was all about transitioning once more. Before leaving Europe for the summer, I met up with my mom for a Mediterranean cruise. Afterwards, I headed back to Florida to get back to work on my dissertation. Of course I missed Florence/Italy terribly, so I shared a list of everything you need to know before traveling to Italy.

I struggled to get back in the swing of things through September. Fortunately, I did not stay put long, and I left for California mid-September. I had a residential fellowship at The Huntington in Pasadena. I made the most of my time in California, writing during the week and exploring the best of Cali on the weekends. The highlight of the month was a trip to Napa with Emily for her birthday.

I spent the first part of October in California and I continued to explore L.A. I particularly loved The Beverly Hills Hotel and my hike through the Hollywood Hills.

November was another exciting month. I had to travel to D.C. and Yale to track down some manuscripts I needed to see, which also meant I got to visit my brother in D.C. and see Emily in New York. I crossed several items of my bucket list in November -- Apple picking, row boating in Central Park, and continued my quest to discover the best brunches in New York.

And just like that it was December! December was full of grading and grant writing, but I also managed to find the perfect camel coat, discovered eyebrow microblading (game changer!), and put together one of my favorite looks of the year.


2016 was definitely a year of highs and lows, but what are the highs without the lows? Overall it was a year of transition, and I fear 2017 will be the year of uncertainty and change as I finish my dissertation, enter the job market, and prepare for life post-doc. Despite facing the unknown, I am hopeful that 2017 will be equally exciting. I mean it can't be any worse than 2016... right?

What were your highs and lows from 2016?
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Ashley B
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