2014 Year in Review

Year in Review, Arienne Parzei
One of the highlights from 2014 was spending a weekend up at a friend’s lodge and enjoying the sunsets.

Holy Batman! Where did 2014 go?! It seems like just the other week that I was putting the finishing touches on my 1-second a day video for 2013. But here we are nearing the end of 2014, and what a difference a year makes! If 2013 was the ‘transitional year’ filled with rough times and soul searching, 2014 was the year of planting roots and big milestones. Personally, this was an epic year.

The Renovation and (finally) Moving in Together

Before Tristan and I moved to Korea in 2009, we bought a condo in Toronto. While we were living and traveling abroad we rented it out. It was a win-win situation. Someone else was paying the mortgage while we were out of the country and we had a place to call home when we returned. Except when we returned in 2012 we needed to save money and get our feet back on the ground. So we moved back in with our respective parents. Almost two years after returning we were finally in a financial position where we could (finally!) move in together.

It was always our plan to renovate our condo and put our own stamp on the place. Luckily the kitchen and bathroom were still in great condition from the previous owner. But we wanted to make it more of an open concept layout, put in flooring, and update all the finishes. Backpacking really made us appreciate the value of a dollar, so knowing how expensive renovations could be we decided to roll up our sleeves and do as much of the work we could ourselves. We estimated the work to take 1 month, but with us both working fulltime jobs at the time and abiding by building noise restrictions, one month turned into four.

Want to see the renovation process? Check out this 4-minute timelapse video of the process:

There were moments when we thought we’d never finish. If you’ve done a renovation yourself I’m sure you’ll agree when I say it’s one of the most exciting and trying things to go through. But when the dust finally settled and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel we stepped back and couldn’t help but feel proud of what we had accomplished. By July we had moved in.

The Wedding

As if doing a major renovation wasn’t enough excitement for one year, we also planned a wedding and got married in the fall. Yes, we’re officially Mr & Mrs!

Our inner DIYers apparently weren’t exhausted from the renovations. We organized all aspects of the wedding; finding a venue, hiring a caterer, renting everything needed, making invitations and designing and making the décor.

We got married outside at a conservation area about 1-hour from of Toronto. We rented a school bus to transport most of our guests and had the reception in a barn on site. The food was a combination of some of our favourite dishes from Asia and my Eastern European heritage. And my father and I even danced a polka for our father-daughter dance!Year in Review

Everyone involved was related or friends of ours in some way. From our caterer to the harpist, the bridal bouquets and even our minister was connected to us in some way. It made the day that much more special. It was a phenomenal day and a true testament of the incredible people we have in our lives, some of which flew great distances to be there. The love in the room was palpable.

For more photos of our special day, check out the blog post from our amazing photographer Emily Silverman.

The Year in Travel

Even with all that going on in my personal life, I managed to travel more in 2014 than I had in 2013. I collected two new and one repeat stamps in my passport this year. In the spring I jetted across the pond to England and Belgium. I spent a week staying with a long-time friend in London exploring the parks, museums, street-art, pubs and learning a bit of the slang too.

I then headed across the channel into Belgium and traveled for another 3 weeks visiting, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, and Leuven. I spent my days walking endlessly around each city, filming countless hours of footage, stumbling across incredible street-art, and of course, trying as much Belgian beer as I could possibly handle. I stayed with my sister about half the time I was in Belgium. She lives in Antwerp and dances with the Royal Ballet of Flanders. Some days I’d bike to the company with her and watch ballet classes and rehearsals. But for the most part I really just enjoyed spending time with her and seeing Antwerp through her eyes. I could definitely get used to the European lifestyle.

Travel highlights 2014
Clockwise from top-left: Regent Street in London, medieval architecture in Bruges, cruising in Melaka, and enjoying a Kwak beer (with fancy stand) in Belgium.

A couple of weeks after the wedding I was on a plane headed back to one of my favourite countries: Malaysia! I was so excited, especially because I had been invited by the Malaysian Tourism Board on a press trip (a big score for travel bloggers). It was a whirlwind of a trip. We spent just 1 full week in destination and traveled to 3 different cities including flying over to Borneo to Kuching. My trip back to Malaysia reaffirmed my love for the country and the people and made me realize how much I had missed Asia. I don’t think I’m finished with the area just yet.

Goals for 2015

As you can see, 2014 was a big year personally. As such, the blog took a back seat. I didn’t post nearly as much as I would have liked to and I focused more on freelance gigs and getting paid for my work. So things were a little quiet here.

But with a new year upon us I want to return my focus back to this site and to my first passion: video. Aside from about half a dozen videos I have yet to edit together, I’m finally getting the ball rolling on a video series I’ve had kicking around the brain for the last few years. I also want to work more with tourism boards and tour operators to produce video content for them. So I’ll be making more of a push to ‘create’ those opportunities.

It’s also time that the site got a makeover. I’ve been putting it off for over a year now, fearing how much work is involved in a redesign. But in the new year I’m going to lock myself to the computer and hope I don’t lose the site. Fingers crossed!

Another big goal of mine for 2015 is to find ways to deal with the ‘noise’ in my head. You know those voices that cut you down, tell you you’re not good enough, etc. Some days they’re a whisper, other days they’re full blown choirs. I touched a little bit on this back in 2013. This year I got better at recognizing when those were creeping in but they still took over on a couple of occasions. I’ve allowed these voices to hold me back in the past but I don’t want this to be the case in 2015.

In 2013 I captured one second every day for the year and compiled a video of all those moments. Every time I watch that video I’m reminded of all the accomplishments great and small (well mostly small) from that year. I want to do something like that again for 2015 and have decided to use a ‘Memory Jar’ or ‘Rememberlutions’ as some sites have coined. Essentially you take an empty mason jar at the beginner of the year and every time you accomplish something, achieve a milestone, or an amazing experience happens, you write it on a small piece of paper and drop it in the jar. Then at the end of the year you can look back on everything you’ve done. I think this is a great idea. We’re prone to remembering only the ‘big’ things that happen in our lives and I think this will be a great exercise in remembering and celebrating everything we’ve done throughout the year. Who wants to do this with me?

With just a few days left of 2014 I wanted to leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

“May the best thing that happened to you in 2014 be the worst thing to happen to you in 2015”.


What are some of your goals for 2015? Share in the comments below.


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