Journal, Monthly Recap

December 2017 Recap

Goodbye 2017! This is my final monthly recap of the year before I start up strong next month for 2018. This has been another crazy month, with lots of family and lots going on. I started my monthly recaps at the beginning of this year, and it feels a bit crazy that I’ve already done 12 of these monthly recaps. Here’s what I got up to in December!

Where I Went

York, Goathland, Masham, London (United Kingdom)

Minneapolis (MN), St. Paul (MN), Clear Lake (IA), Colfax (IA) (USA)

Best Moments

Coming HOME for CHRISTMAS!!! If you follow along on social media, you’ll know that I’ve been so looking forward to visiting my hometown of Minneapolis for Christmas. I arrived on December 23rd. It has been absolutely amazing. I have been so homesick, and missed my family and friends so much. Real snow, real cold temps, real winter. Being here and seeing everyone has been amazing. Add that to Christmas celebrations, seeing more family, and eating great food. I am so grateful.

Being invited to Taco Bell UK’s VIP Launch Party to celebrate the York opening! Not only did Taco Bell open up in York this December, but I was invited to the VIP Launch Party!!! It was so much fun, with lots of tacos, burritos, slushy cocktails, and T-Bell merch. I even met the regional manager, who remembered Adam and I from the Nottingham opening!! And apparently I’m famous on the Taco Bell UK Linkedin promo! We tried to recreate our famous Notts photo in the photobooth and just had a blast.

Getting my photo of Minnehaha Falls featured on NBC Nightly News!!! Well, there’s a first time for everything. Someone contacted me on Twitter about my photos of Minnehaha Falls and asked if they could use them on the national NBC news and all affiliates. I said yes, and when I watched the news my photo was actually featured!!! I was on the screen for less than five seconds, and they spelled my name wrong, but it was still pretty awesome nonetheless. I’m so proud and really honored that my photo was chosen to be shown across the country.

The Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibit at the British Library in London. Wow. This exhibit was truly magical (pun intended). Not only did it explore the myths behind the magic of J.K. Rowling’s books and ideas, but on display were even hand-written notes by Rowling herself and chapters that didn’t make the final cut! It was really incredible and as a huge Harry Potter fan, I was completely astounded. It’s still around for another month or two, so if you find yourself in London you absolutely can’t miss it!

Seeing Lion King at the West End in London! Adam’s dad and stepmom got us all tickets to go see the Lion King musical in London as a Christmas gift. And the show was incredible! This was my first musical on the West End and my first time seeing the Lion King!!! The costumes were so creative, the singing was fantastic, and of course the story made me cry as the animated movie does every time. Such a good show and such a wonderful experience/gift!

Pretty much everything in London. Have I mentioned that I love London? Because I really really do. Even just being there for a weekend, I got to do and see so many amazing things (besides the HP exhibit and Lion King). This time around, I explored the garden ruins of St. Dunstan-in-the-East—a church that was bombed out by the Blitz during World War II. I re-visited the Blackfriar, a pub where my favorite moment in history happened in 1529. And I loved seeing the city decked out with beautiful Christmas lights. London is my favorite city in the world, a place that feels like an old friend, and somewhere I will always keep returning.

My vlog on my Eastern Europe trip this summer! I’d spent months and months working on this video—going through clips, editing everything, timing it all with the music, etc. It was such a great day when I could finally put it on YouTube and go live with it! This project was a labor of love and I’m really proud of it. I really feel like it’s a 7-minute representation of how I spent my summer, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You can watch it here!

Hiking in the snow! While it was nowhere near as cold or snowy as Minneapolis currently is, I loved my day hiking in Goathland on the North York Moors! Yorkshire had just seen a real snowfall (still a rarity for me in the UK), and the moors were covered with snow. Hiking around in the snow reminded me so much of home and Minnesota. I was like a kid in a candy shop running through the snow! Glad my MinneSNOWtan boots still work in the UK! 😉

A day on the edge of the Dales. We spent one day at Jervaulx Abbey and the small market village of Masham, which are both located right on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Jervaulx Abbey was completely deserted when we went—meaning we had the whole place to ourselves. The highlight of Masham was going on a brewery tour at Black Sheep Brewery, one of Yorkshire’s finest! It was such a fun day and I really loved getting to explore another pocket of Yorkshire.

York Ice Trail. A bit closer to home, ice sculptures took over York the second weekend in December for the York Ice Trail! This is honestly one of the coolest parts of living in York, and I had so much fun walking around and seeing all the sculptures. Local businesses sponsor sculptures, and in exchange they get the added business as people descend on the city for ice sculpture fun and Christmas shopping. It is such a fun event and I absolutely loved getting to see so many of the sculptures! I can’t wait for next year.

Worst Moments

Work/jobs/money. Will I ever get to do a monthly recap without this?! December was another tough month with more job rejections, lots of stress at both of my places of work as the Christmas season went into high gear, and worrying about money. I am looking forward to the post where I don’t have to talk about this. And where I don’t have the daily overwhelming stress and exhaustion that comes from doing what I’m doing.

Nearly getting a citation at Minnehaha Falls. I’ve been going to Minnehaha Falls my whole life. And in all my years of going there, not once have I ever thought that people actually cared about the “no trespassing” signs that forbid people from going closer to the falls and (in winter) walking behind them. Well, apparently the park police do care now, since a cop came down to the falls when I was taking the above photo, and threatened to give us a citation for trespassing. He let us go with a warning, which I was grateful for. But a little irked that this happened to me, after so many years without problems, and knowing so many people who have done less than what I’d done with no trouble!

I went back a few days later, and there were over 50 people past the signs up close (and behind) the falls. So I was able to explore and photograph at my favorite spot in the city in the end 😉

Being sick for most of the month (again). Unfortunately, the cold I got at the beginning of November has stuck with me for nearly 8 weeks now. I’m pretty sure it’s on its way out now—getting out of England and breathing non-damp air has definitely helped. But it’s been so annoying being sick for so long. Fingers crossed I can kick it for good and go back to normal health in the UK! 

The cold. Have I ever complained that I hate the cold, and that Minnesota gets really, REALLY fucking cold in winter?! Because it does. In the week since I’ve been here, we’ve had windchills of -30˚F (-35˚C) and entire days where the air temperature doesn’t go above 0˚F (-18˚C). The cold is real, true cold: it gets into your body and numbs your bones, snot freezes in your nose, and even going outside for five minutes is too much. Winter months like December are rough here. It has been a brutal reminder of why I try to avoid Minneapolis in winter!

Posts Published

I was able to publish a few big posts this month, which I’m really happy about! I’ve also been blogging like crazy the last week that I’ve been hanging out in Minneapolis, so there’s loads of posts coming soon. Here’s what I published this month:


A Christmas Trip to Castle Howard

Carcassonne, Toulouse, and More: What to See in the Mid-Occitanie Region of Southern France

9 Reasons to Visit York at Christmas

How Airbnb is Revolutionizing Travel

12 Things Every European NEEDS to Know About America

The Top 10 Budget European Cities in 2017

Instagram Top 3

My top 3 most popular photos on Instagram this month!


This is probably my favorite view in Carcassonne of La Cité, the medieval walled city. I loved exploring this little corner of France – I felt like I was in a fairytale! 🏰 . My first blog post on this trip is up on the blog, all about the best places to see in the region: Carcassonne, Toulouse, Albi, and all the charming and beautiful small towns and villages in between. Link is in my bio 😊 . I’m counting down the days until I head back to Minneapolis for Christmas! 🎄 There are so many things I miss about home: Target, Taco Bell, Minnehaha Falls when it freezes over, the magic of waking up in the morning to a fresh snowfall, my family and friends. . . If you’ve ever lived abroad (or moved far away from your hometown!), what things do you miss most?! . . . . . #carcassonne #citedecarcassonne #carcassonnecastle #objectiftoulouse #savoureztoulouse #toulouse_focus_on #france #france_focus_on #francecartepostale #super_France #total_France #loves_France #hello_France #tourismoccitanie #occitanie #languedoc #visitlafrance #igersfrance #jaimelafrance #france_photolovers #france4dreams #merveillesdefrance #topfrancephoto #topeuropephoto #beautifuldestinations #passionpassport #natgeotravelpic #lpfanphoto #guardiantravelsnaps #bbctravel

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Another one of Fountain’s Abbey! 😍 I absolutely love this place, and it was one of the highlights of the month! . . My November recap post is live on the blog! The link is in my bio 😊 . In case you haven’t checked out my stories, it snowed in York yesterday! ❄ Although as a Minnesotan I don’t think it was quite worthy of being called a “snowstorm” and a “whiteout” 😂 . Hoping to get out walking somewhere in Yorkshire tomorrow. It’s going to be one of the last free weekends before Christmas takes over! What are your plans for the weekend?! . . . . . #fountainsabbey #abbey #abbeyruins #nationaltrust #ntyorkshire #yorkshire #northyorkshire #visityorkshire #visitnorthyorkshire #welcometoyorkshire #scenesofyorkshire #bbcyorkshire #yorkshirelife #loveforyorkshire #igersyorkshire #wearenorthern #theenglishnorth #visitbritain #instabritain #visitengland #photosofbritain #photosofengland #lovegreatbritain #explore_Britain #ukpotd #liveuk #mybritain #lpfanphoto #natgeotravelpic #guardiantravelsnaps

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Trying something new here… Welcome to my COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS!!! 🎄 Every day for the next 12 days, I’ll be sharing a favorite photo/memory with you from my travels this year! ✈ . Countdown to Christmas, Day 12: St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia! 🇷🇺 . The first moment when I walked through the gates and saw the onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral will be one of the best moments of my life. It was my “pinch me” moment — finally back in Russia, the trip I had dreamed about was finally reality. . To me, these colorful domes symbolize this amazing country like nothing else. So grateful that I had a chance to experience this. ❤ . Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post! . Tell me: what has been one of the favorite places YOU’VE visited this year?! . . . . . #russia #moscow #moskva #stbasilscathedral #moskva_gorod #beautifulmoscow #itsmymoscow #our_msk #moscowviews #moskvagram #moskva360 #msk_best #ilovemoscow #moscow_photo #instagramrussia #russiaonline #ig_Russia #russpasibo #russia_pics #lovelyrussia #ru_hello #russiamylove #photorussia #easterneurope #topeuropephoto #beautifuldestinations #passionpassport #Москва #Россия #соборвасилияблаженного

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Coming Up in January

As of now, I have very few plans for January. Which is definitely nice. After a big two-week trip (including trans-Atlantic flights), I will definitely be ready to relax for a bit. The only plans I know of for sure will be returning to Peterborough for the Katherine of Aragon Festival the last weekend in January! I have a feeling there will be some short weekend explorations in Yorkshire as well.

Happy New Year! What did you do in December? Any exciting plans in January?!

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