2016 in a Nutshell

How is 2016 already over? This was an exciting year of change for my family. In March, I decided I wanted to start keeping a note on my computer because I wanted to remember the big and little events that happened throughout the year so I could reflect on them at the end of the year. Well, the time has come for 2016 to end and here is my review of our exciting year!


We started January off with quite the change– a new apartment! We literally moved in on New Years’ Eve and New Years’ Day! We needed to find a new place by January, so we apartment hunted the week before we left for our flight to Florida and signed on this cute, but tiny apartment all on the day that we found it. While it’s really small, it’s in an adorable neighborhood called The Avenues in Salt Lake, known to be an area with young, liberal adults and creatives. I also loved all the natural, warm light that it had. It had a good vibe, and we went with our gut.


I remember we had no furniture or food, so we got Cafe Rio and ate on the floor. I don’t know why this is such a fond memory but it is.


The other change to happen in January was I was officially being moved from part-time front desk and sales to full-time sales at the hotel. This meant more nights and weekends with Brighton, which equals happy Hilary. I also was able to adjust my sleep schedule back to “normal” instead of sleeping until 11am and going to bed at 2am every day. I need consistency and a set schedule, and this was going to give it to me. Another perk was better pay, and more agency over my daily tasks. 🙂

I was also neck-deep in wedding planning mode, realizing over Christmas break I needed to get all my ducks in a row.


February was a relatively quiet month for us as far as big happenings and events go, but we were busy. I was in the final stages of wedding planning, going on winter hikes and getting romantic and adventurous with our pre-wedding Valentine’s Day plans.


We also took a trip down to Moab, with our friends Rachel & Brandon. The weather was perfect, and it was just what we needed for a weekend getaway.


March was the final month before the wedding. I was filled with anticipation, excitement, and anxiety! I had to do my final checklist of wedding planning, and we ended up having a Bridal Shower here in Salt Lake City for our friends and family here.

We also managed to fit in a early spring hike to The Living Room with our newest friends, Katie and Thatcher.


Brighton and I flew home 1 week before the wedding, and immediately I drove to Savannah, Georgia with my closest friends for an EPIC Bachelorette Weekend!


It’s so hard to be away from my best friends for 95% of the year, and to have a weekend of exploring and celebrating with my girls was one of my favorite parts of this year.



April was the biggest event of this year: OUR WEDDING! At last, all the wedding planning culminated to this big event of our friends and family and I just felt so surrounded by love and happiness of making our marriage official.


Immediately after the wedding, we drove up to my family’s cabin in the Smoky Mountains for our “mini-moon”. We wanted to do something to get away, relax, and adventure but something not too costly because we plan on going to New Zealand when our finances settle down. (Will they ever?!? #adulting!)


After the wedding, we resumed our new “normal” back home. In all honesty, nothing big changed, but there were subtle differences and getting used to being “married” was a little weird.

I was also invited to the Salt Lake Ellie Goulding concert, and we ended up with front-row tickets!

We also went to our first Lantern Fest, which was a pretty awe-inspiring scene.


In May, we did a little bit of everything. We settled in to married life, after all the craziness of the wedding was finished. First, I changed my name, which took some getting used to! Whenever people asked for my name, I hesitated which was a strange feeling. I also finally went to the eye doctor (first time in too long), and got new glasses and contacts so I could get my first Utah drivers’ license. Woo! Final step in being an official Utahn.

I also happened to turn myself into a twinsie with my mom and sister. Can you tell we’re related??


I was craving adventure, so we made a quick trip to see Devil’s Kitchen. It’s so hard when it’s been winter, I just get antsy and want to get out of the house.


I also made the decision to leave my hotel for a larger, full-service hotel downtown SLC. Leaving my job and learning a new hotel with all new people and policies was rough. I ultimately decided it wasn’t the right fit for me and my goals after the initial couple weeks, and decided to pursue my photography (later in the summer).


For Memorial Day, we took a trip out to Seattle, Olympic National Park, and Vancouver, BC.



May, June, and July are full of birthdays/holidays for me: Mom, Dad, Brighton, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day are all jam-packed into these months. We kept Brighton’s birthday low-key per his request, as usual. We went to dinner at a local spot, The Dodo.

Happy birthday to Brighton!


On Father’s Day weekend, we went on a quick camping trip to the Alpine Loop area in Utah county. We ended up finding a spot off the beaten path, and were treated to a mostly-quiet and more private experience.


I officially quit the hotel job I took in May, and started looking for something better suited for me. I landed on photography, so I took several steps to start building my portfolio and started an LLC.


July was another exciting month for our family! Both of our sisters’ birthdays within a week of each other on July 10th & 16th.

For Somer’s birthday, we went paddleboarding at Pineview Reservoir on a very windy day. We FaceTimed with Katie on her birthday on top of Clayton Peak, and took her on a quick trip to the mountains of Utah. 🙂

Clayton Peak Utah

We managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Great Basin National Park for a 4th of July camping trip and another national park marked off our list.

On July 25th, Leo finally made his entrance into the world. Why are babies the cutest?!


In August, my photography business started picking up after I built my portfolio and I had my first paying client! I continued to learn anything and everything I could find on photography by joining Facebook groups and networking with other photographers in my area.

Unexpectedly, I had to deal with a minor health issue that had me in bed for a long weekend. I quickly recovered, and was back at life after that for the Lantern Fest (same event as we did in April).


Sometimes it’s hard to meet new friends in a new city when you’re outside of college, and also self-employed! Randomly, an Instagram friend and I met in real life and became real friends (not just Insta-friends). I have never met someone offline that I never met, but we went to a public place and we hit it off! Us SLC transplants have a lot in common. 🙂 We met up to rock climb, and later on we did Questival in October.

 I also managed to fit a couple hikes in in the mountains including to Cecret Lake and Willow Lake.

In other news, I celebrated Next Stop Adventure’s 1 year anniversary right here on the blog. Woohoo!

At the end of August, we took a long-awaited trip to Yosemite National Park! It’s been on my short list of MUST-SEE parks for a while, and it was amazing. We also saw Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park as well.


September came with unexpected news: my trusty 20 year old car died and I suddenly had to get a new one. Since high school, the Honda CR-V has been a dream car for me and I finally got it. After having it for 3 months, I still love it and it’s so nice to be able to not worry about the hassles that come with having an older car.

The fall months are filled with fun fall events like Oktoberfest, a Salt Lake City annual event up at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. We also go look at all the pretty leaf colors (a.k.a. “leaf peeping” which I learned from my Northeastern friend, Katie).

On the business front, Brighton and I are working on getting rid of our debt to build a debt-free future for ourselves. I also had a few more clients, which only reinforced how much I love doing photography for my clients. Hooray for fulfilling careers!


October started off with another classic Hilary-being-a-klutz accidents… I sliced my left index finger’s tendon while cutting an onion trying to make Pho at hone. When it happened, it wouldn’t stop bleeding but I didn’t think much more of it, but unfortunately the wound reopened the next morning and I decided it would probably need stitches. Good thing I went into Instacare though, because I had also sliced my tendon which required my finger to be in a splint for 8 weeks!

Brighton and I also made it to 6 months into married life. Go team!

October seemed to be a crazy month for the photo business because the leaves peak in their color changing and every family wants to get those cute fall color photos in before the weather gets too chilly. It was awesome though because I had super happy clients and it makes me so incredibly happy when my clients are happy with their photos. It makes me feel like I am on the right track in life. 

I also signed up for Cotopaxi’s Oktoberfest Questival with Brighton and Hannah. We camped, made new friends, ran around the city, and had lots of adventures. It was awesome, and I’d love to do it again!

Another big change was that Brighton interviewed and accepted new job. He had been with his large company for 9 years since he entered the video game industry, and took a leap of faith to follow new challenges to a start-up located in Utah Valley specializing in virtual reality experiences. He officially started in November, but October was a month of uncertainty for that reason.


November is one of the best months of the year because it’s my birthday month and it’s the start of the holiday season! In world news, it was Election Day, and Trump was elected as President of the US. (No politics here, just mentioning it for reference purposes 😉

I also officially stopped working at my hotel job and became an “on-call” person for them to keep the discounted hotel rates, and be available to pick up odd shifts here and there. I love the hotel family, but as my mom said it, I’ve been much happier with life in the past 6 months than I was.

I also upgraded my camera to a full frame DSLR professional camera, and bought a couple lens that I was renting repeatedly. It feels good to have professional-grade gear.

For Thanksgiving and my 25th birthday, we took a 6 day road trip out to San Diego and Arizona (days 1 & 2, days 3 & 4, days 5 & 6 here).


December always feels like it’s full of holidays parties and traveling, and this year was no different. Brighton and I both went to work parties, though his was much fancier as it was hosted at Sundance Ski Resort.

I also started working at a new side job for a local arts event space. I serendipitously met one of the owners at a local coffeeshop the day before I officially reduced my hours at the hotel. It’s perfect since I love events (and have the education/experience background), it’s close to our home, and it’s flexible enough to work with my photography business. We began laying the foundation for this in December before I left for Florida, but we’ll get back to it when I am back in Utah.

We also went cross-country skiing at Brighton before we left. It was a winter wonderland.

We decided to fly home to Florida this year for Christmas (and New Years) to spend time with my side of the family. We ended up volunteering to give up our seats on our red-eye connecting flight on the way out there in order to get Delta credit to fly anywhere sometime in the next year or so. It was actually a perfect situation for us because we traded a red-eye flight with a connection in Atlanta for a free hotel night, free $30 breakfast in the airport (we went to Market Street Grill!), a direct, non-red eye flight with no connections, and money to Delta flights in the future! It was a win/win, and we ended making a random couple who was running late for their flight’s day. Where should we go? I’d love to go to Europe or Australia/New Zealand!

An of course, Christmas was all our traditions as usual. Katie and I spent some time at coffee shops, I hit all my favorite St. Pete stops, and we had the family over on Christmas day. When we are wrapping up our trip, I will do a full-recap of our adventures in Florida.

How do you measure – measure a year?

In daylights – in sunsets
In midnights – in cups of coffee
In inches – in miles
In laughter – in strife


I measure life in moments, in national parks, in miles traveled, in life events, and most importantly, in love. I can’t wait what 2017 will bring for my little family.