Our Favorite Things From 2016

Welcome to our sixth annual favorite things. Its an opportunity to look back on all of our favorite things we've watched, ate, and experienced in the year that was. Each year you can see our tastes begin to change, our bodies grow older, and our hearts younger. It was a great year and I'm excited to share with you our favorite things from 2016. 

Favorite TV Show

Jenn - This one is SOOO easy, it’s Frasier. I am such a huge fan and want to emulate him in every way! Classic show with so many good laughs. LOVE.

Joel - We continued to watch a lot of television in 2016 but there was one show in particular that stood out to me as the clear winner of 2016 and that was Game of Thrones. This is the first season that the television show has passed the source material (the books) and it did an absolute phenomenal job. This was also the first time I didn't know what was going to happen before it happened which made it all the more exciting. The two runner-ups would be the second season of Daredevil on Netflix and Red Oaks on Amazon Prime. Daredevil was good ole comic-book action and Red Oaks was one of the most enjoyable shows I watched all year. 

Favorite Political Satire

Jenn - I am going to support my girl on this one and go with Sam Bee. She brings it every time, and I love her point of view It’s great to have a female voice and perspective (finally) in the industry – and she does her job so dang well.

Joel - My choice for best political satirist goes to Last Week Tonight. John Oliver since leaving The Daily Show and going on his own on HBO has been nothing short of phenomenal. He had two twenty minute segments dedicated to Donald Trump where he eviscerated. One of my favorite tag-lines was make Donald Drumpf again, a plug-in I still have on all my computers. My close follow-up goes to Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. She's doing an insanely good job and I love her perspective on not only women issues but on our country. 

Favorite Reality Show

Jenn - Will always be amazing race. I just love watching people race around the world and check out new places I want to go, and then reminisce on places we have already been, which are often featured on the show, which is so cool!

Joel - This is the first year that I put my foot down and decided not to watch The Bachelor or Bachelorette with Jenn. My choices then for favorite reality show are down to The Amazing Race and Top Chef both shows we watched a season of this year. I'm going to give the slight nod to Top Chef this year just because we ate at one of the finalists restaurant and it was out of this world. 

Favorite Movie

Jenn - I actually am going to with Zootopia. It was a really original animation, and it made me laugh and I loved all the political and social undertones. I would watch it again and again!

Joel - Unlike the last couple of years, I have a clear winner for favorite movie of 2016, and that's La La Land. It was a movie that began to gain buzz during the movie festivals and made it a movie we saw on the first night of its wide release, seeing that instead of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I'm so glad we did from the opening song and dance sequence on the LA freeway to the last piano solo, it was brilliant. An uplifting but original tale on following your dreams and one that I came away grinning from ear to ear from. 

Favorite Live Performance

Jenn - Seeing Carmen at the Vienna Opera House in a box was surreal. I will never forget for as long as I live chatting with a fellow older German couple who was visiting Vienna as a quick jaunt from Germany to see a couple of performances, and it made me hopeful that that will be Joel and I one day. And I think it’s ironic that it was dumb luck that we picked that specific opera and place to see an opera, to find out later that Carmen is one of the most famous opera’s out there, and so is the Vienna Opera House.Seeing Carmen at the Vienna Opera House in a box was surreal. I will never forget for as long as I live chatting with a fellow older German couple who was visiting Vienna as a quick jaunt from Germany to see a couple of performances, and it made me hopeful that that will be Joel and I one day. And I think it’s ironic that it was dumb luck that we picked that specific opera and place to see an opera, to find out later that Carmen is one of the most famous opera’s out there, and so is the Vienna Opera House.

Joel - I'm so glad we decided to add this category, as 2016 was really our diving into live theater. We saw nearly a dozen plays this year along with a ballet and opera and each one of them was memorable in their own right. If I had to pick my favorite I would have to say seeing Carmen at the Vienna Opera House would win out. It was our first real opera and I fell in love. From the story, to the singing, to the beautiful opera house I was mesmerized by the spectacle of it all and hope that we can take in more opera in 2017. If I was to pick a runner-up I think it would either be Office Hour at South Coast Repertory or Book of Mormon at Segerstrom. Office Hour is one of those small performances with only a couple of actors that I think about constantly for its gut-punching story. And Book of Mormon because its the first musical that I truly fell in love with. 

Favorite Song

Jenn - Fast Car by Jonas Blue. I LOVE the original by Tracy Chapman, but I really love how it has been modernized. And of course always love to include my favorite lyrics that always speak to me: “You got a fast car, I want a ticket to anywhere, Maybe we make a deal, Maybe together we can get somewhere… You got a fast car, Is it fast enough so we can fly away? We gotta make a decision, Leave tonight or live and die this way…”

Joel - This might sound cliche but my favorite song came from my favorite movie of the year La La Land. The song is City of Stars and Ryan Gosling sings it alongside his cast mate Emma Stone. It's a beautiful, simple song and one that will be on my rotation for years to come. 

Favorite Artist

Jenn - X Ambassadors…they have hit after hit after hit that I love…namely Renegades still being one of my all-time favorites.

Joel - This is going to be a really really odd choice this year. I've mentioned a couple of times that I've become far more into theater and musicals, this choice goes along with it. One of the soundtracks that I've listened to a lot in 2016 is Lin Manuel Miranda's music Hamilton. Although I haven't seen the live performance I've been listening to the entire show on Spotify throughout 2016 and I love it. 

Favorite Video Game

Jenn - Overcooked! Or as I love to say, Undercooked. It has been such a blast playing with Joel. Playing with him has honestly made me laugh so hard I was crying and couldn’t breathe….

Joel - My favorite video game of 2016 (as described in my top 5 of the year) is hands down Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. It's a game that fully encapsulates my love for video games. Beautiful story, with quiet moments of dialogue mixed together with the best gameplay of any game in 2016. I love Uncharted 4 and can't wait to go back and replay it in 2017. 

Favorite Book

Jenn - I am disappointed in myself because I did not read that many books this year, so I am going to go with I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk. Just your typical adorable chick lit, and was a great light rid through our travels in Europe! Let’s hope next year’s pick is more substantial J

Joel - My favorite book of 2016 is probably the toughest category on here. I had a number of books that I thought were great. I suppose my favorite was A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It's a story about four friends growing up in New York each with different life paths that had them cross at different points in each of their lives. The book is an emotional roller coaster but felt grounded. It's a book that left me drained but feeling like I was better for having read it. My close second is one that resonated with me on a deep level in 2016 and that was  Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World of Me. A short profound letter to his son on what its like growing up African American in America. 

Favorite Meal

Jenn - This may sound crazy, but it was the three course meal we had on our business flight class to Amsterdam. It has been a dream of mine for a long time to fly business, and to be able to achieve that dream on our own before I was 30, meant the world to me. I will never ever forget the feeling of being served with white cloth, plates and utensils on a plane and looking around and feeling content like “I made it.”

Joel - My favorite meal has got to be eating at Spring in Paris. The entire trip was a complete and utter surprise but the fact that Jenn somehow remembered the restaurant that I wanted to eat at the last time we were in Paris, book us reservations which are hard to come by, and for it all to be as magical as it was is something I will never forget. A five-course wine paired meal that was both delicious and incredibly enjoyable makes it easily the best meal I had in 2016. 

Favorite Chef Joel & Jenn

Jenn - Sloppy Joe Mac N Cheese of course! Just thinking about that dish makes my mouth water and am really hoping it makes it into one of our rotations one of these days…

Joel - This is a tough category because there wasn't one meal that really stood out as the "best" of what we made, they were all good none of them I felt were truly spectacular. If I was to say which one do I want for dinner tonight it would be the Sloppy Joe Mac 'n' Cheese. Simple good home cooking that was easy and delicious. We really should make that one again. 

Favorite Purchase

Jenn - Our bedroom furniture, hands down. As I get older I feel like I am really refining our taste and look that reflects who we are, and I think our bedroom set is a perfect blend of that and looks so sophisticated, and I love it.

Joel - It has to be my brand new 65" 4K Samsung KS8000 TV. I've been wanting the TV for years now and am so happy that I waited for this one. The television is beautiful and the deal for it was great. I now have a TV that is a much better size for the giant wall its hung on. Now all I need is a bigger television for our bedroom. 

Favorite Electronic

Jenn - Apple Watch. I really have come to love that device. Not only does it look slick, but it does a lot of really cool things, and I only take advantage of 10% of them!

Joel - I'm both surprised and ashamed to admit that my favorite electronic this year is a vacuum cleaner. Sure we've only had our Roomba 880 for a month but the fact that it on its own vacuums our apartment everyday at 9AM (the time we scheduled it for) continues to blow my mind. It's not the brightest robot in the world but imagine in 20 years what we are going to have at our fingertips! 

Favorite Vacation Stop

Jenn - UGH this one is going to be hard to choose because it is a real tossup between Amsterdam, Budapest and Vienna but I am going to have to go with Vienna. I loved that it was cultured and upscale and in many ways it felt like a quieter version of Paris. I would go back there in a heartbeat to indulge in more Operas and art museums.UGH this one is going to be hard to choose because it is a real tossup between Amsterdam, Budapest and Vienna but I am going to have to go with Vienna. I loved that it was cultured and upscale and in many ways it felt like a quieter version of Paris. I would go back there in a heartbeat to indulge in more Operas and art museums.

Joel - After 25 days on our Ultimate Europe Trip you would think that I would pick one of the many glorious cities from that trip. If I was going to I would go with Vienna, a place I could see Jenn and I living in one day. But if I was to be honest and pick my favorite vacation stop it would be Paris, where Jenn surprised me for my 30th birthday. That city to me is perfection. It's my favorite city in the world. If I go to Paris in a year you can be sure that it will win my favorite vacation stop 100% of the time. 

Favorite Hotel

Jenn - The Guesthouse in Vienna had to be my favorite, I just thought it was in such an amazing location, and I LOVE the feeling of boutique luxury hotels. I can still see the bed overlooking the trees outside and hear Joel opening up our free wine that came with the room. But a very close second was our hotel in Budapest. Looking out over the city in that room was perfect.

Joel - My favorite hotel is hands down The Guesthouse in Vienna. If I was to ever go back to Vienna (which we absolutely plan to do) I would stay at The Guesthouse. A great room, with free water, wine and beer. But better then that the hotel is in the perfect location with a great restaurant and is centrally located in the majestic city of Vienna. Jenn lets go back tomorrow alright? 

Favorite Memory

Jenn - We were on a train going to Vienna from Prague, and it was heavily raining outside, and normally that would bum me out (the rain), but I sat there staring at Joel typing away on his computer, I looked around at all the people who were either joyfully talking or reading the newspaper, and then I glanced outside and watched the world pass me by. Charming houses and beautiful countryside’s that spanned on for miles…and I listened to my favorite song and I thought it that moment, life could not be more perfect, because it really was. 

Joel - You would think my favorite memory would be when Jenn surprised me with a Paris trip for my 30th birthday. You'd be half right. That moment was a complete blur. I wasn't really even sure what hit me. A couple of days later though walking the city of Paris after eating at Spring and sitting along the Seine river watching the sun go down for a couple of hours was far and away my favorite memory of the year. The close second was falling asleep on our flight to Amsterdam in Business Class, that was pretty incredible. 

Jenn's Quick Year-In-Review

I do not even know where to begin. The year started off with a bang when we went to Napa for the first time in January and then the very next week I was flown to Seattle for work and got to bring Joel along. The year also started off great because Joel had the brilliant idea of getting us season passes to our local theatres and we got to see some amazing shows and go back to our roots – the theatre, which is things we used to do when we first started dating. Reflecting back I now just realized this was the same year I surprised Joel for his 30th with a trip to Paris. That trip was beyond perfect…and I would also say the night that we had just come back from a six or seven course dinner and were walking along the Seine River is something I would hold on till the day I die. I can still feel Joel’s kiss and embrace as we strolled along the pathway, and then as we sat there watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at midnight and the boats pass by. It felt like something you only read about. It was beyond a huge blessing to be able to do that for Joel, I wish I could do that every day for him. Then there was our huge Europe trip, which honestly I don’t think we could ever have a more perfect trip. The places we saw, the food we ate, and the way (praise God) we were able to travel, and most importantly the time we were able to spend together was magical. I can still see us touring the Van Gogh Museum and the Red Light District in Amsterdam, I can feel us laughing in Berlin at our tour guide, I can see the castle and bridge lit up in the distance as we paddled in the river in Prague, I can hear us talking about the Picasso Art in Vienna, I can hear Joel snoring from the boat ride through Salzburg, I can see us with the biggest grins you have ever seen as we walked in and around the wine festival at the castle in Budapest, I can taste all the amazing Italian food in Florence, and I can feel Joel’s hand as we walked through the scenic streets of Nice. If I could, I would re-live those 24 days over and over again for the rest of my life. I have never been more happy and at peace then in those moments. And then for the rest of the year, I have been able to look out of our beautiful apartment at the sunrise and sunsets across the OC skyline and hear Joel playing his video games in the background, and I think about how undeserving I am of such a beautiful life. And HOW MUCH God has blessed us and saved us from 2015. I praise God for the blessings of 2016, and I pray when I write this review in 2017 it brings me even more peace, happiness and love than I have ever expected. 2017 we are coming for you, and I can’t wait for what adventures lie ahead.