Our Favorite Things from 2018

It’s that time of year again! Jenn and I have spent times independently looking back at the year that was and talking about some of our favorite things from 2018. From TV shows, to vacation stops, to memories, we’ve written down our favorites from 2018, and here they are!

Favorite TV Show

Jenn - The Handmaids Tale

Period. The quality of acting is superb – and the storyline is both heartbreaking and cautionary. It makes me incredibly grateful for the rights I have as a women, but it also serves as a reminder to keep fighting for those same rights, especially given our current administration.

Joel - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

This was a hard decision for me. It really came down to two shows. One was the incredibly well acted and directed Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu and the other was the incredibly witty and funny The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. But for me the witty dialogue and smart forward thinking humor won out and I gave the slight nod to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I loved every episode of the show and can’t wait to see what season two brings.

Favorite Political Satire

Jenn - Patriot Act

This may come as a surprise as Last Week Tonight is an extremely close second. First, I love Hasan Minhaj. The way he presents the material, although a sort of riff on Last Week Tonight is so engaging, real, and I think, extremely relatable for a millennial audience. I find myself paying closer attention to the facts and having a stronger recall of what he said, then any other political satire show. He, to me, finds the perfect blend of information and humor, without feeling like he needs to “dumb it down” for a general audience – which I appreciate.

Joel - Last Week Tonight

This continues to be a no contest category for me. John Oliver is so far ahead of everyone else its not even close. His show (although now very familiar) packs a punch every single week. He deep dives into at least one topic each week for twenty minutes and 99.9% of the time I’m along for the ride. I look forward to watching his show each week and can’t wait to see his takes on 2019.

Favorite Movie

Jenn - A Quiet Place

I’m going to go with A Quiet Place - although believe it or not, Infinity War was very close. I adore Krasinski and Blunt – and to have both of them in the movie, with Krasinski directing it was magical. The movie plot was original, and the style of it being completely silent was a fun, new way to experience a movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It also left me at times where I couldn’t breathe, yet it didn’t feel “too scary” either. It was the perfect blend of entertaining and terrifying.

Joel - Creed II

I’m so torn on this decision. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I didn’t have a “oh my gosh I love this movie” sort of experience in 2018. I had a lot of movies that I enjoyed this year like Avengers Infinity War, Black Panther and A Star is Born. But the movie that I loved more than the rest is Creed II. I just can’t believe this movie got made to start with. It’s a sequel from Rocky IV which had such an insane premise that thirty years later we get to see what happens as a result of that movie continues to blow my mind. Plus it turned out to be a great movie.

Favorite Live Performance

Jenn - The Play That Goes Wrong

While I know other plays we have seen were much better acted, and the symbolism more relevant and needed in today’s turbulent world, my choice remains The Play that Goes Wrong. If you know me, and I mean know me well, I LOVE satire. And this play was chalk full of it. I was crying I was laughing so hard during some points, and those tears of joy where exactly what I needed this year. With everything going on in the world, and our recent stressful move to NYC, I so desperately needed and wanted a laugh – and this play delivered in ten folds. It’s such good, clean fun, and is everything I adore about slapstick comedies. I would watch this again and again, and without fail would chuckle.

Joel - Hamilton

Before I get to my pick, my close second was the beautifully acted and profound Bernhardt + Hamlet which we saw from the front row and just adored. But my favorite live performance this year was for Hamilton. I’m still sad that we didn’t get to see the show with the original cast, but the traveling company was fantastic. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack since it was released and seeing the show live was something I’ll never forget.

Favorite Song or Artist

Jenn - Fire and the Flood by Vance Joy

This songs literally speaks to how I feel about Joel – and our relationship. I’m incredibly blessed to have a man, husband and best friend in Joel, and I know with everything I have “anywhere I go…there he is.” His presence fills my heart and soul, and no matter where we are in life, I “know everything is fine, when his head is resting next to mine…”

Joel - Pre-Interview Mix on Spotify

This is the lamest answer I have for 2018 but there’s no doubt that the music I listened to the most in 2018 was my three song pre-interview mix to get me pumped up for an interview. Before any interview, phone interview, or virtual interview I’d bump this music to get me in the right mindset and it seemed to work out! That mix consisted of:

  1. My Shot - Hamilton Soundtrack

  2. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor

  3. Lose Yourself - Eminem

Favorite Video Game

Jenn - Overcooked 2


Solely because I love screaming at Joel to chop the chicken, or wash the plates, or that he is slowing down our team – and have him yell back at me that I suck at the game. It makes me laugh. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

Joel - Marvel’s Spider-Man

I would have never imagined that my Game of the Year for 2018 would have been Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4. I’m not a huge fan of the developer Insomniac’s previous work and it was released in the same calendar year as Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War (2018), and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. And yet there is no game I had more fun with or wanted to come back and play more than Marvel’s Spider-Man. It’s the first game I got a platinum trophy in, and is one that has kept me thinking about it far after the credits rolled. What a brilliant, beautiful game it turned out to be.

Favorite Book

Jenn - Beyond the Label by Maureen Chiquet

I read a lot of great books this year that I would recommend to anyone who is aspiring to be a leader. For women, who like me, feel the pressure as a leader, wife, “should-be” mom, and every other label that comes with it, I highly recommend you read Beyond the Label by Maureen Chiquet. It will help you define success on your own terms, and how you can define yourself in a label-happy society. Otherwise, for anyone leading a team I suggest you read Radical Candor by Kim Malone Scott, Leaders Eat Last by the well-known Simon Sinek and Imagine it Forward by Beth Comstock. For any introverts (and extraverts) out there, PLEASE read Quiet by Susan Cain. See the world differently, and appreciate what others, who may be more “quiet” can bring to the table, to the workplace, and to the world.

Joel - Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

There are five (of the thirty two I read) that I really tossed and turned about which to give the nod as my “favorite” of 2018. The runner ups were Becoming by Michelle Obama, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, Heads You Win by Jeffrey Archer, and Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. However, my favorite of the year goes to Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. It’s the sequel to The Way of Kings which is also a 1,000 page epic fantasy novel. I just got lost in this book, I’ll never forget hiking the full 10-miles of Crystal Cove listening to this book completely enveloped in its beautiful narrative and incredible story.

Favorite Meal

Jenn - Contraste

I’m about 99% sure Joel and I will have the same answer to this category. It was our life changing meal at Contraste in Milan. The experience is one I will remember for the rest of my life, and one I know Joel and I will continue to reflect fondly on. From opening your food in a locked box, to eating a “crime” scene on your plate for dessert – while still having it taste mouthwatering delicious is truly one of kind. Joel and I were all smiles and couldn’t stop wiping the huge grins off our faces. It mixed everything we love in life – great food, ambiance, company and wine. I can say without a doubt there aren’t many meals in the world that could top this.

Joel - Contraste

There is one meal that really inspired me to make a goal for 2019 to visit more Michelin star restaurants and thats Contraste. It’s a restaurant that after a lot of deliberation we decided to eat at in Milan after a full day in the beautiful city of Venice. For me food is an art form that I both understand and truly admire. I love a great experience and Contraste was a perfect blend of fine dining and art on a plate. It’s a night and an experience that I will never forget.

Favorite Purchase

Jenn - Living Room Furniture

Our NYC apartment living room furniture/décor. I couldn’t be more proud of how that turned out. It spurred a strong desire for interior design in my heart, just like my mom. And it makes me excited to see what I can design next, if, and when we ever move. I also want to comment on a favorite “sell.” Our cars. The relief that comes with not having car payments, gas, insurance, anything, is such a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders, and I couldn’t be happier to be car independent.

Joel - Sonos Beam

We made a lot of great purchases in 2018 but the one that I am the happiest with is the Sonos Beam. We combined the new sound bar with two Play:1’s to make full surround sound in our living room which has been a game changer. Combine that with Alexa support and we can easily turn off and on all of our lights, turn down the thermostat, and enjoy a bunch of other smart home gizmos.

Favorite Vacation Stop

Jenn - Paris

Simply put: Paris for the memories, Milan for the food, Morocco for the adventure. Candidly though this year’s travels were perfect in every way. Every stop we went to in Europe was beautiful, and I would go back to each and every one of those stops given the opportunity. And they all were exactly what we needed this year – stunning, relaxing, great food, culture and sights, and cities where we could just explore on our own and at our own leisure.

Joel - Paris

If I had to pick favorite “new vacation stop” it would be Madrid. But I’m still head over heels in love with Paris. We spent four nights in the magical city, our forth time in there as a couple, and far from our last. Like New York, Paris is a city that I feel like each time I visit I experience something new and wonderful. One day, Jenn and I will live in Paris.

Favorite Hotel

Jenn - Four Seasons Marrakech

By far, this win goes to the Four Seasons in Marrakesh. That resort was impeccable, and the service was phenomenal – not to mention our room, or should I see villa, was to die for. The food was also incredible, and the entire ambiance of the hotel is what I would expect from a 5 star / upper echelon resort. Let’s just say, for 2019 I will be keeping my eye on Four Seasons for hotels to stay at in our upcoming travels. 😊

Joel - Four Seasons Marrakech

I feel like this one might be cheating. It’s hard to compete with a Four Seasons at any point but the Four Seasons in Marrakech was quite the experience. From the beautiful grounds to our enormous suite with a private pool there was nothing not to love about our stay in Marrakech.

Favorite Memory

Jenn - Thanksgiving in NYC

Thanksgiving with Joel in NYC. Everything about that day was perfect, and I truly can’t remember a time where I have felt more happy or at peace. I just remember feeling such joy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and taking so many mental pictures in my mind while Joel and I laughed (and I cried good tears) at Maison Pickle’s over an extremely delightful (and plentiful) Thanksgiving meal. And I will never forget walking, skipping and running through a completely empty Central Park. If I could encapsulate that moment I would just keep reliving our pure joy and contentment. It was the first time we actually could enjoy the city, without exhaustion from the move, or the pressure of family visiting, or the need to feel like we needed to see/do something. We just lived it, and it was everything I could have dreamed of and more. And it was with the man I love with all my heart. It truly was perfect.

Joel - Day Trip to Venice, Italy

There are two memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. The first was the third Friday of July where Jenn and I finally got our stuff for our apartment and had just a normal Friday night and walked along Riverside park. But the day that I will cherish more than anything is our day trip to Venice, Italy. Unlike much of our trip, our decision to go to Venice was made because our hotel (unbeknownst to us) was a stones throw from the train station. We looked up the train trip to Venice and booked it. We luckily picked the only day without rain and had one of the most memorable days of my life just walking the canals of one of our favorite cities in the world.

Jenn’s Quick Year-In-Review

This year can best summed up in three words: God is faithful. The year started like any other. Beautiful. We were enjoying our Newport beach apartment, I was just ramping up my team at Viasat, and Joel surprised me with a late night trip to get donuts. And I was thrilled and honored to begin planning pookie’s (Amy) bridal shower. Meanwhile I wanted to keep the spark alive in our marriage so I surprised Joel with a weekend trip to LA and dinner at one of the Top Chef restaurants. And that was magical. And then in April God took us an adventure. I was contacted by Edelman in NYC for a job, a dream I’ve had (working and living in NYC) since I was a little girl. I was then flown out for an interview, and was offered the job. It felt like I was living straight out of a movie. But there was also the reality. What about Joel? His job? Our cozy and comfortable life in Newport? What about my Dad? Joel’s family? I’ll never be able to fully describe those feelings, the memories, the tears of joy and sadness, and the fear. The only thing I can describe is throughout all of it, I have never heard God’s voice more clearly. I prayed so hard at times I thought I might pass out, but there was this peace inside me that said we needed to go, to jump into the raft, knowing full well it would be difficult, that we were embarking into the unknown, but that at the end, God would be there, waiting. And so that’s what we did. And God opened the door and miraculously got Joel a job before we left for NYC (in less than two months!), landed us an apartment, and allowed us to break lease without penalty. And we packed everything we owned and moved 2500 miles away from everything we knew. I remember sitting in the airport waiting to fly to NYC and our new home for the very first time, and being so utterly afraid, and exhausted. And while I want to say it was easy, it was far from it. But it was worth every single second. I have never felt more capable, more alive, and more resilient then I do today. NYC has shown me what I’m truly capable of, as a person, a woman, a leader and a wife. And I’m eternally grateful for that. It’s opened my eyes to an entirely new world. It has enabled me to see people and every walk of life in a new and empathetic way. It makes me love diversity more than ever, and appreciate the differences we all bring to this life. The memories I have accumulated in these six months alone will last me a lifetime. Dripping wet from the humidity walking to the subway, walking along Riverside Park in the evenings with Joel, eating the best food in the world, watching leaves fall in Central Park, experiencing my first snow…I feel like I’m living a dream most days. And some days I’m exhausted but I’m OK with it, because I feel SO PROUD of Joel and I. That no matter what we stepped out and took a leap of faith, we got out of our comfort zones and went on an adventure. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and faith, and we did it. And I can’t imagine having a better life partner than I do in Joel to do that with. And since April we have gone to Europe, twice, I was blessed with a Director job at Calvin Klein and I’m sitting 46 floors now overlooking the UWS and Central Park. We’ve had family visit us, which has been incredible, and it has been amazing to go back and visit them in Cali. In some ways it has made those relationships and that time more meaningful than it was before. And while the year ended much more exhausting then it began, I can’t imagine doing it any differently. 2018 was truly a year for the books, and one Joel and I will never forget. I have no idea where or what my life and our life looks like next, all I know is I have to trust God, because I know He is faithful and has a plan for me – a plan that is bigger than I ever dreamed of.