I got the idea to do this post after seeing it on The Perpetual Page-Turner and her post was so all-round awesome that I thought I’d replicate my best 2014 experiences as well. This post initially started off as a brief top ten but it has bloated in all directions, and my apologies in advance for this super-long post, but 2014 was such a fun year that I can’t help looking back with a lot of joy, which translated into super-long ramblings here, but nothing I did would keep this post short.
Best of Travel
Of course, the highlight of 2014 was our family visit to Dubai which was seriously the best. We focused on all of Dubai’s kid-friendly activities and it was so much fun to see Snubnose, Piglet, and my nephew bonding together over shared experiences.
- Aquaventure, Aquaventure, Aquaventure – This was totally the best experience. We had so much fun together. Definitely a don’t miss experience.
- Burj Khalifa – Touristy, but oh still a lovely experience.
- And of course, all the shopping. We were on a budget, and dragging two kids around shopping malls is not fun. But definitely, Dubai is a place to visit if you want to do some shopping and if you have the moolah.
Which brings me to shopping.
Best of Shopping
2014 was a year in which I splurged. A lot of my splurges were to replace stuff that was broken – as in I needed a new wallet, a new pair of sunglasses, and a new phone. I could have gone budget for the replacements, but I didn’t, and you know what, these expensive purchases boosted me no end. While I am going to be quiet for some time on the shopping front, these buys made me super-duper happy.
A couple of other purchases that made me super-duper happy in 2014 was buying lipsticks. For the past couple of years, all my friends (and the world, it seems) have been into the nail-art craze, which left me totally cold. I just hate the high-maintenance aspect of it – the cutting, filing, polishing, upkeep routine is just too much.
So, most of last year, I sat out all beauty trends until a friend of mine turned me into lipstick. She insisted that I try a couple of bold shades and now I’m hooked.
I’ve found that I like MAC lipsticks best of all. And even though they cost the bomb, I think they are seriously worth it for their super-flattering shades and long wearing. Yes, yes, I am raving about MAC which has been well-known for the past 10 years at least, my friend told me pityingly. I am so out of touch with things these days.
Let’s go to more budget buys, shall we? I picked up these two blouses for an absolute steal from ebay.
These are the images that I picked up from the ebayer’s and they don’t reflect even 1/10th of the awesomeness of these blouses when I saw them in person. This was frankly, a bored impulse buy, but when it came in the mail, I was zapped.
They were labeled silk but for the cost, I was expecting something of fairly low-quality. But OMG, when I touched them, and felt them, and wore them, it was like I was wearing a million dollars on my back. Even K who hardly notices such things complimented me on the fit, and quality of the blue blouse on the right that looks so shabby in the picture.
Seriously awesome buys! The only downside? Dry-cleaning 🙁 , but still I love them so much, and I’m going to be wearing them all through 2015 I think. They make the perfect work blouses.
Best of Personal
So apart from shopping and travel, what were the other great experiences in 2014?
First was seeing Snubnose get over her health and social (being bullied) issues that plagued her for the most part of 2013. Part of it was growing up, part of it is a really great teacher who encourages her to speak up in school, and part of it is moving out from a group that was not working for her and making new friends. These were all big changes, and I am so happy and proud that she was able to come out of a bad phase with her confidence and smiles back again.
Piglet also came into his own. I think that age between 2 – 4 is so super-cute. Piglet has become the dude, chattering to the dozen (he was a slow starter and that had me worried), showing interest in all kinds of things from books to Barbie to iPad (unfortunately) to my cosmetics (with horribly unfortunate results), there’s nothing that he doesn’t poke his non-existent nose into. He’s turning into the most fun, already the class clown and showing no signs of resigning from that role.
Another great plus on the personal side was making a ton of new friends. I am pretty shy and take a long time to open up to people, which makes friendships hard. But last year, not only did I make a lot of great new friends, I also kept up with all my oldest and best friends (something which was a resolution last year). Of course, a lot of it was due to Whatsapp, but I can happily say that Whatsapp was mostly used for scheduling stuff and cracking PJs. But we also kept up in person quite a lot, usually over some great food.
Which brings me to food.
Best of Food
I actually went to tons of great restaurants last year – some I blogged about, some I didn’t, and some got only a passing mention. One of my favorites was CounterCulture. We liked the place so much, we went there at least 3-4 times.
Another favorite was Olive Beach where K treated us all to a Mother’s Day dinner.
The food at Yauatcha was also mind-blowing awesome. The decor was a bit industrial, which is not my favorite setting in a restaurant but the food and cocktails more than made up for it.
Herbs and Spices got only a passing mention on the blog, but again that was a great place to eat and definitely a restaurant we will visit again.
Another couple of favorite restaurants are Cream Centre (which has since closed down now 🙁 ), and Kobe Sizzlers. Cream Centre was our absolute family favorite for its awesome sizzlers, but since it seems to have vanished suddenly, Snubnose and I haunt Kobe Sizzlers now for most of our mom-daughter dates. It’s reasonably priced and there’s plenty of food and we love to tuck into a plateful now and then.
Best of Movies and TV
So last year wasn’t a year of much downtime, and the little downtime I had was spent reading. I hardly saw any movies and I completely swore off TV. I realize I have some sort of ADD when it comes to visual media. If a movie or TV show doesn’t hook me in the first ten minutes or so, I’m off back again immersed in my book.
What did hold my attention last year was Skyfall – the third Bond movie by Daniel Craig. I initially watched it because parts of it were shot in Scotland, a place I badly wanted to go to last summer but didn’t. So, it was primarily for the beautiful locations but the story hooked me in, and I loved it so, so much. In fact, me, who is not even a huge fan of Bond watched all three of Craig’s Bond movies back to back to back. And even now, if I see it while surfing channels on TV, I stop to watch it again. Yeah, I love them that much.
Another attention-holder was the 2014 Football World Cup. I am a huge fan of football, and there was no way I was going to miss this one. And I enjoyed every late night I spent. K was a total sweetie (he’s not into football) even setting up a full-screen screen so I could have the full football experience.
On Christmas Day, the littles and I curled up under blankets to watch The Polar Express, which was the sweetest Christmas movie. Watching a seasonal movie is now turning into a family ritual. In 2013, we watched Frozen together.
I don’t really have any details about the audio-video equipment. K and a friend set up everything together, so I can’t share anything with you with any level of confidence. If you have any questions about the set-up, leave me a comment, and I”ll check with K and get back to you.
What I can tell you with confidence is that the movie/sport watching experience is super-great, and K really did a lot of research to be able to get everything we needed within a budget.
Best of Blogs
I can’t say this is non-bookish, because I tend to follow mostly book-oriented blogs, but no best of list is complete without mentioning your favorite blogs, right? However, there are so many great blogs that in the interests of brevity (very funny, since I’ve already crossed 1000 words here), I am keeping the list to short to my top five blogs. So here comes the list in no particular order of importance:
- Wanton Ruminating – Not only does this babe have the same taste in books as I do, she’s also super-talented and features a lot of the great art work that she does. Love!
- Reading the End – I’ve been following Jenny’s blog for years now from when she was Jenny’s Books and on wordpress.com. She reads from a wide variety of books, and she also has an awesome podcast going on.
- Dolce Belezza – Another old favorite that I’ve been following for years. I dropped off a bit when she moved from WordPress to Blogger a couple of years ago, but she moved back again this year, and I followed her right again. I love her blog for the focus on quality literary reading, amazing diversity in choice, and the very thoughtful comments that she provides on the books she reads. I don’t comment as often as I should because I haven’t read most of the books she reads, but I enjoy the reviews anyway. I also love her occasional detours into lipstick and perfume territory 😉 .
- Girlxoxo – This blog is a new favorite. It first attracted my attention because I liked the design and style of the blog, I also like that it’s not purely a bookish blog. There’s some alcohol, some fitness, and some really useful digital life hacks.
- Reading on a Rainy Day – Athira has been having a bit of a blogging and reading slump lately. Who hasn’t? Last year was full of bloggers trying to find their mojo back again. But slump or no slump, I love her blog and writing. It’s an old favorite and I especially like her Sunday Salon posts which are a nice blend of bookish and non-bookish ramblings.
Whew! I am closing out this list now!
Overall Thoughts and Resolutions
I am surprised at how much happened last year. Frankly most of everything (except the blogs) happened in the second half of 2014. Till about June or so, it was a pretty much ho-hum year, but after that it’s been one total roller coaster ride with absolutely no time to breathe. I like to be on the go, so it was totally fabulous.
I expect 2015 to be quieter though. I will probably be focusing more on health and fitness, and trying out new things, and hopefully more travel? I do know that I want to keep my spending a little more in check. Things went totally haywire the end of last year, and I am starting the new year with a resolution to be more frugal. Two weeks in, and both my fitness and spending resolutions are chugging along quite nicely 🙂 .
So how was your 2014? What did you do different or new? Did the year live up to your expectations? What are you planning for 2015?