2016 In Review

I've never done one of these posts before, but after reading my friend Ashley's year in review, I thought it would be a good exercise for me. Maybe you're like me and just want 2016 to end. There was a lot of loss this year, and I also got really sick. I felt like 2016 was a completely terrible year, but that's because I can so easily focus on the negative and forget about the good.

I got caught up in what went wrong this year and on what didn't happen. I'm really glad I took the time to go through my year and see what actually happened. Since getting sick, I've had a new appreciation for life, a new kind of gratitude. Sure, 2016 was rough in areas, but there was a lot of good and if it weren't for 2016, I wouldn't be so excited for 2017. I'm pumped to take what I learned this year into the next.

I hope you enjoy and that it makes you think of all the good that happened in your life this year as well!

2016 In Review -- The Classy Hippie


Brought in the New Year at our second Praise Party at Elevation Church. I love this tradition - surrounded by our people, worshipping God and hearing Pastor cast the vision for that year - there's no better way to start the year!

We did a year in review budget and discovered we paid $29,028.78 towards debt in 2015!! - we didn't do so well in 2016 due to major car repairs, launching a business and major hospital bills - as you'll see later on...

I started Project 1:36 - a year long project dedicated to tithing my time towards my spiritual, mental and physical health.

We cancelled Netflix for more time.

Monica [half of The Wentworth's] and her friend Carrie visited us - I absolutely LOVED it!

Completely stunned over the loss of David Bowie.

Celebrated One Year since the legal and technical creation of The Classy Hippie!!

After diving head first into Minimalism, I KonMari'd our house, read Zero Waste Home and began our zero-waste journey.


Celebrated One Year of taking The Classy Hippie full-time through working on contract at a local architecture firm and being a freelance branding designer. [Did you know I was also an architect? I don't talk about it much - because I want to focus more on branding, but I'm very very very grateful for the steady paycheck and extremely flexible schedule that the contract work allows me!]

Went to the launch of Elevation Uptown's Midweek Worship Experience at CenterStage in Noda [our neighborhood] - it's moving to SouthEnd in 2017, stay tuned. 

From reading Woman Code and listening to Dishing Up Nutrition - I COMPLETELY changed my approach to how we eat. I synched my eating habits up with my 28 day cycle [Woman Code] so that my body would be getting the right nutrients it needed, depending on what my hormones were doing and we started eating 5 times a day with each meal or snack having protein, healthy carbs and healthy fat [Dishing Up Nutrition.] This radically changed our health for the better! This diet is sometimes referred to as Pegan [Paleo + Vegan] - the best of both worlds.

Continuing on with Project 1:36 - I said Goodbye to Acne Treatments and Hello to Skin Care. My skin still isn't perfect, and I still experience breakouts, but overall I'd say it's much happier - and now I'm not afraid to go out in public with a bare face.

I started my personal project Every Street CLT. I wanted to get out of my regular Charlotte bubble and really get to know my city better. I want to walk down every street and photograph or sketch the beauty that is The Queen City. I've done four so far and am aiming to make this a once a month thing in 2017. [The building below has since been demolished from Morehead Street.]


Shifted my work time more towards branding and less towards architecture by reducing my hours and days at the firm - this meant less money initially, but it was such a great move for me and my sanity. 

As part of our Zero-Waste journey, I officially made all of our cleaning products from scratch with water, white vinegar and castile soap. No more toxic chemicals in our home!

Began planning for the August "official" launch of The Classy Hippie, the food sponsorship for CreativeMornings CLT and the WeLoveCLT takeover - all of which would be on the same day. This was a very exciting time.

My woman-of-honor had her second daughter, Nora Presley and I welcomed my 6th niece into the world!

Kicked off our hiking season at Crowders Mountain with some friends. As part of Project 1:36, I wanted to make my exercising more of an activity and less of a gym work-out. Hiking is a new love and I can't wait to do more of it!

I completed the re-design of my in-home studio aka The Podge. It's my blank canvas, my white box - with all white walls, ceiling, trim AND floor!

Saddened by the loss of Architect Zaha Hadid. So grateful I've had the opportunity to walk through her creations. She really was a remarkable woman.

Finished the logo design for my eGroup leaders' sailboat - The Third Wish.


Celebrated the best 5 years of my life on April Fool's Day. Being with Carl is the best life.

Attempted our first month-long experiment of Play. This lasted about 2 weeks - turns out making time to play and explore every single day is harder than we thought, which is just so sad.

Had a fun and spontaneous visit from The Bulzan's - love them SO much!

Went to The Charlotte Knights' Home Opener. I love baseball games with my husband.

Heartbroken over the loss of Prince, when we thought 2016 couldn't take any more from us.

Finished The Old Testament and started The New Testament.


Celebrated the future Bulzan baby at The Bulzan's baby shower in Raleigh. 

Had the privilege to hear Dr. Susan Spatz share her story as a Holocaust survivor at CreativeMornings CLT - her parting words, "Be weary of people promising a better America. Be critical of the words spoken - don't let them envelope you."

Got to learn about Fashion & Compassion, meet some truly amazing women and watch Caroline Simas create a custom piece at a local blogger's night - thanks for the invite Beth! 

Began the process of branding The Classy Hippie - yep, somehow as a branding studio I still managed to get clients even though I had no brand, no logo, no business card, no website. This just can't be explained.

Had an unexpected visit from my Mama-In-Law. We went to see The Jungle Book and strolled through the park afterwards. Love little short visits like this.

Another spontaneous visit from our baby-expecting friends - The Bulzan's! 

We welcomed our two baby yellow-bellied turtles Frankie & Stanley into our home!

Went to see The Minimalism Documentary in theaters with Carl and was blown away - it's now on Netflix, so you can watch it too!


Went to the Journey & Doobie Brothers' concert with coworkers - it got temporarily shut down by the rain, but dancing in the rain with the rest of the hippies was a highlight. I just LOVE the crowds at classic rock concerts! 

Experienced my first wedding, outside of my own, as an event designer. Lindsey was the best bride I could have ever asked for! Love her SO much!

Another Knight's baseball game - thankful I've been to so many and literally never paid for a ticket. People have been so generous in gifting us with these free date nights over the years.

Grew a lot in our Zero-Waste journey over the first 6 months and wrote about it on the blog.

Celebrated my three-year anniversary of taking control of my finances through tithing, budgeting and paying off debt the Dave Ramsey way. I wrote a two-part series on money. Part three is coming in 2017.

Paid $2,000 + in car repairs for Steve, my Jeep Liberty. OUCH.


Signed up for my first Plastic Free July completely unprepared, and though I did not do this very well, it made me VERY aware of all the places plastic shows up in my life. I hope to do this again as a challenge group in 2017.

The Classy Hippie business cards came in!

Launched The Classy Hippie website on my 27th birthday.

Participated in my 4th Love Week at Elevation Church and my 3rd time leading a group of volunteers at The Hospitality House. Making cookies for guests has become a tradition I look forward to.

I was honored that the Heart of the Matter group asked me to design a graphic & flyer for their Unity Walk in response to the terrible and devastating shootings that happened all over our country. Always choose love and Always walk in Peace. 

We said a tearful goodbye to Common Market Southend. We fell in love with Charlotte in that courtyard. We made the decision to make Charlotte our home in that courtyard. Little did we know, the owner would become our landlord and "give" us our house in Charlotte. We took our engagement photos in that courtyard. We celebrated every Charlotte-versary in that courtyard. I hope that one day, I will no longer feel sad about this.

Completed The Classy Hippie branding.

Went sailing with my eGroup and got to see the completed logo design I did in person.


Launched The Classy Hippie, sponsored CreativeMornings with Pie for breakfast, gave a 30 second pitch of my services, took over the WeLoveCLT account, went on an Every Street CLT adventure and had a launch party with a lot of my favorite people complete with local beer and tacos. August 5th was a DOOZY. 

Heard one of my all-time favorite CreativeMornings talks from Hasaan Kirkland on the weirding way.

Went to my very first Elevation Ladies Night - Reflect and joined a married woman's study group on marriage. Love these ladies!

Watched the US dominate in the Olympics in my backyard via a borrowed projector on the back of the house. This was awesome and we definitely want to invest in one of these and have framily movie nights // potlucks in the backyard in 2017. 

Our dryer broke down three times. This was a giant pain, but luckily didn't cost us anything - benefits of renting. 

Mom came to visit. We hiked Chimney Rock. We kayaked Lake Lure. We ate SUCH good food. We strolled through Daniel Stowe Botanical gardens. We sipped Lenny Boy's kombucha. We antiqued at The Depot - and won their raffle. We ate pie, watched Cary Grant and went to church. It was glorious.

Bethany asked me to be a part of Dressed For Freedom as the designer. I said YES and met the amazing Daytona! 


Launched the Dressed For Freedom brand and dove into planning for the first pop-up boutique to benefit A21.

Experienced my first baklava sundae // Greek Festival in Charlotte - been here four years, it was way overdue.

Went to the Nalls' family reunion at my In-Law's house and met some really cool family members for the first time.

Went to our friend's wedding in Virginia on the top of a mountain that had the most INCREDIBLE view!

Came back on night three of ten phenomenal, power-house preaching, life-changing, God-filled revival days. My first Code Orange Revival, in celebration of ten years of ministry for Elevation Church, was an overwhelming experience. God showed off. Watch the recap here.

We went to our second Panthers game ever - both for free. Thank you consultants!

Charlotte was added to the long list of police // black men shootings. I sincerely hope and pray that our nations' history in this area that has been brought to the surface over the last few years will experience the life-changing, restorative, supportive change needed in 2017 and beyond.

The Wentworth's visited us from Iowa. We missed them SO much! We got Duck Doughnuts, went to our first Festival in the Park, played around in Plaza Midwood - hello drinks at Workman's and ice cream from Two Scoops, played Catan [of course] and went to church. WISH THEY WERE HERE ALWAYS.

Completed my second AIGA Beer & Branding with one of my favorite designs I've ever done.


We had our first donation drop off day for Dressed For Freedom and were WOWed by how many donations we received! 

One of my all time favorite CreativeMornings talks. Senator Jeff Jackson and Chef Cassie Parsons talking about laws & sausages debate style. Jeff Jackson gives me hope for the future of politics [did you see his WeLoveCLT takeover? - loved the realness] and Cassie Parsons gives me hope for the future of food. THE BEST.

Started to gain clarity over The Classy Hippie's services, purpose, tribe, etc. Sometimes you start with all the things [Branding, Event Styling, Simple Living Coaching] because you just don't know which way you're meant to go or which way you want to go or because you love all the things. Starting helps you test and experiment - which eventually leads to a cutting of the fat. More on this later - but things are changing for The Classy Hippie.

Stood in line for over an hour for free Not Just Coffee courtesy of Netflix to celebrate Gilmore Girls Day - duh.

Had an amazing visit with Abby and her husband Josh [all the way from Italy] - I went to HS with them and hadn't seen them in nearly ten years but thanks to the interwebs and our common love of simple living, healthy living and minimalism we've become dear friends via the internet. It was so nice to take our relationship to IRL. We had great food and beer at Heist and played old school video games at Abari. :) Can't wait for our next visit! This time we're going to them, well... sort of. More on that later :)

Celebrated two years of marriage by taking a much needed getaway to the mountains. We stayed at Sky Retreat, went on a 6 mile hike, drank wine and Hemingways, grilled the most delicious steaks and ended our stay with dinner at Kindred before heading back to Charlotte. It was glorious. 

I participated in my very first A21 Walk for Freedom to raise funds and awareness to stop human trafficking in the 21st century. 

Attended a powerful talk on Race & Economic Opportunity given by Professor John A. Powell. Some key points - We can disagree and not be disagreeable, Help people unearth their anxieties without blaming or shaming them. You have to have the space for people to voice their anxieties so you can address it and solve the issue. 

Tom Petty turned 66.

Dressed For Freedom ladies took over the WeLoveCLT account and had a Sunday Funday.

Had a spontaneous visit from my Wifey for a night. She came in for a job interview. We've been Best Friends since we were 6 and I would give my left arm to have her in NC. PRAYING.

I read No Impact Man and learned SO much about how I can change my daily habits to improve my environmental impact. Then Carl and I immediately watched the documentary after I finished the book.

We purchased 100% of our weekly groceries from The Farmer's Market completely Zero-Waste style for the first time ever. Definitely looking forward to this moving into a habit.


I celebrated one year of becoming a Minimalist.

Carl and I started [and completed] our first successful month long challenge. We went the whole month not using any lights [inspired by No Impact Man] - you can read about it here.

Had two weeks of my life stolen from Meningitis. Two hospital visits, one CAT Scan, one MRI, countless shots, needles, medicine, six turkey sandwiches, six visitors [eGroup + Campus Pastors - what up, love my church] and one spinal tap later I was healed. Though I'm "recovered", the weight of that sickness and making it through still sits heavy on my heart. I don't mean to sound overly dramatic, because maybe you don't have the same experience with Meningitis as I do, and maybe the odds really aren't that bad in the grand scheme of things - but at the time I had only heard of three other cases of Meningitis and all three of them died from it. I don't understand the sickness, I don't know if I just had a different form of it - whatever. I'm GRATEFUL. 

Through the dizzy spells and feeling like total crap, I mustered up the strength to get to the polls, where I was greeted by - Jeff Jackson! He got my vote and so did Roy Cooper - bye Pat - at least NC had those victories! I accidentally voted for the wrong person twice and had to get help to correct the situation. No, I'm not a fan of the Presidential outcome, but I think we need to move on and do our best to come together and make positive change. I don't like it, but I'm praying for the upcoming administration and that the next four years will bring wide systematic changes to how our government is run. I hope you voted - I had Meningitis, what was your excuse? 

I got better just in time for our very first Dressed For Freedom pop-up boutique. All of our merchandise was second-hand, collected from Charlotte women and beyond. We promoted freedom for freedom. By reducing your possessions, you give yourself freedom in mental load and time. By donating those possessions and selling them, you participated in the freedom of someone being rescued from human trafficking. All of our profits went directly to A21 - we were able to raise $2,744 towards ending human trafficking! 

Had a ladies night out with my eGroup as part of a farewell to our eGroup leaders and as an early birthday celebration for Jennielea - half of the Haynes' [our eGroup leaders.]

Had a fun friendsgiving at Elevation MDWK in Noda. Sat with friends, old and new and learned that yams and sweet potatoes are the same thing? Wait. Is that right? 

Had a wonderful potluck Thanksgiving in Fort Mill with our cousins and friends. LOVE doing this every year!

Woke up at 2:30am to prep for and watch the 3am release of Gilmore Girls. Was planning to write a post on this but it got too long. So to make it short and sweet, Lorelai and Rory drink the same Trader Joe's coffee as me. I took up hiking - Lorelai took up hiking [sort of.] I ate meatballs - then Lorelai ate meatballs. Luke and Lorelai had an Alice in Wonderland wedding in the fall. Carl and I had an Alice in Wonderland wedding in the fall [2 years earlier I might add] - if there was still a question over whether or not Lorelai was my spirit animal, that has been resolved. 

On very little sleep - Carl, Beth and I headed to Marrow Mountain State Park to hike as part of the #OptOutside campaign. Instead of participating in Black Friday, we went hiking and then had the best peach cobbler at a cute country store afterwards. Can't wait to make this a yearly tradition!


Our eGroup leaders moved to Dallas. To say farewell, we had a dinner and ornament exchange. There were so many tears shed. Carl and I are going to miss them SO much. They shaped so much of our life in Charlotte. We started in eHQ with them, they were at our Baptism, they mentored us as baby Christians, they opened their home at least once a week and countless other times, they took me in for the 6 months before our wedding - completely free - because we wanted to start our marriage God's way, Jennielea read at our wedding, David said the prayer over our first meal as a couple, they played a HUGE role in making our wedding possible. We celebrated their 50th birthdays, had numerous grill-outs, wine nights, fourth ward events, sailing adventures and so so so much more. They taught us what living a life of generosity looks like and we are going to miss having them in our day-to-day lives. The last 4 years would be completely different without our Charlotte Parents - we love them dearly! Absolutely can't wait to visit them!

We built // made our first compost system. I really didn't think we'd get it done this year, but we squeezed it in just in time!

I started redesigning my website to go along with those new changes for The Classy Hippie I mentioned above - that's coming SOON and I can't wait - it's so much prettier!

My mother-in-law and her sister [all the way from Chile!] visited us for the day. We went to church and had an amazing meal at Kid Cashew - one of my new favorite places!

Tom Petty announced his 2017 tour dates, so far we're planning on April 22nd in Dallas.

God used the Beyond series at Elevation to do a 180 in my heart, I touched on it in my word of the year summary post. AND we got to participate in our church's year end offering! We give because God gave to us first - and we give to Elevation because it's fertile ground. Lives change there Every. Single. Day. 

We celebrated one year of CreativeMornings CLT!!!! So beyond grateful that I get to be a part of the team. If you've never been - visit HERE to find a chapter near you!

Got the hospital bills in the mail and they're upwards of $2000 - another OUCH. But, thanks to our financial plan and budgeting, we had the money to pay them off. Forever thankful for having a plan, so that when unplanned things happen - we can take care of them. 

Took the majority of the Christmas season off to just rest. No decorating, No shopping, No cooking, No baking. Only two parties and three wonderful visits with family and friends!

Made a last minute trip to my hometown, Wheeling, WV, to surprise my Mom the weekend before Christmas. Got to spend time with my Grandparents and some of my Best Friends, met miss Nora Presley in person as well as my 7th niece, Lilly. She's new to the family, and I can't wait to get to know her more. [If you're confused, I have three blood related nieces and four from friends that I claim.]

Spent Christmas day with family. We ate good food, put doll houses together [Tony & Misty], played Cards Against Humanity and watched childhood movies.

After Christmas, we went to DC and spent time with more family. We saw the White House Tree, ate delicious food and just hung out together. It was my favorite trip there so far. No plans, just hanging out and resting. LOVED it. 

We did a year-end budget and discovered we paid $18,793.12 toward debt in 2016. Like I said, major car repairs, launching a business, reducing my hours at the firm and major hospital bills took a BIG chunk this year. We're expecting 2017 to look a lot more like 2015 in this department.

I read Ezekiel - John in my Bible this year. Almost through the whole thing, and then I'd like to focus on devotionals and dive deeper into different areas - first up - the life of David.

We're joining Daytona [from Dressed For Freedom] and Errol's eGroup! I'm so sad about our old one ending, but I'm excited for this new chapter and the new relationships we'll form.

Annnndddd last but not least we're spending New Year's Eve at Elevation for our third Praise Party! Can't wait to see what 2017 brings - The Best Is Yet To Come!

Ok. After writing this and revisiting all of 2016, I gotta tell ya - I feel like a dumbie. Yeah sure, there were some awful things that happened in 2016 - but look at all the good! Ugh, I could just smack myself from a few months ago, weeks ago, days ago for thinking 2016 was completely terrible.

Maybe you feel the same way. I encourage you to revisit your year and go through it as an exercise. You don't have to write a blog post about it if you don't want to, but take the opportunity to reflect on all that you learned, on how you grew and on all the good that happened. Don't let the negative steal your year like I almost did.

I'm definitely going to do this every year from now on.

Love & Blessings,