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The end of a year is always a bittersweet time. One chapter ends while another begins. This year, especially, it seems so many are desperate for a fresh start, for the slate to be wiped clean, for the turning of a new page. Despite the things we hope will become a faint and distant memory, I think it’s always important to take a breath and consider all that has happened in the last 365 days, and remind ourselves how much we have to be grateful for and what work there is left to do.

The last twelve months have been an exciting time for my career. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work on some extraordinary projects that have received recognition and awards in the industry. Roses made out of Doritos Ketchup chips? Sending a woman to capture the world’s first 360 footage inside a volcano? These are things I never could have dreamed of working on when I was still in school, but it’s actively an everyday part of my job. I’m also part of a great team I can trust and rely on, and spend hours laughing with – even in stressful times. Oh, and I planned our holiday party this year. It was pretty damn fun.

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(That’s me in the giant furry coat.)

You may have seen my recent post, How I Got Healthy, in which I talk about how my life has changed this year since I started kickboxing. Being active and taking care of my body has become so ingrained in me, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t itching to work out. I sometimes ask myself, “Who are you? What have you become?” But discovering this passion through determination and commitment has been incredibly fulfilling. I still have a long way to go to achieve my goals, but I’m excited to continue on this journey.

As for my creative endeavours, I spent a bit of time in front of the camera this year. I finally acted in my first short film, Let Go. It’s still in post-production, but I hope to share it with everyone soon. It was a joy to work alongside friends to create something so funny and so us.

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I also started a YouTube series with Frank that gave us an outlet to talk about nerdy things. It is appropriately named Guy & Girl Nerd Duo. GGND is on a hiatus at the moment while we take some time for reinvention, but I can’t wait to continue creating something that is founded on the things I love.

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I got into a bit of action behind the camera, too. Frank, Trevor, and I created a funny little short called Tactical Invader: Parking Garage. Shot entirely on my iPhone at the end of a fun night, there is more footage of us bursting out into laughter than what made it into the final cut.

And of course, travelling is always the highlight of my year. I spent this year re-exploring places I’ve been before and falling in love with them all over again.

In the spring, I spent a week in Oahu with Jen basking under the sun and sinking my toes into hot sand. She’s back there now for the holidays and my heart aches with envy.

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At the start of August, I spent a magical weekend in New York City with Erin, where we met Boys Like Girls (a band we’ve loved since we were sixteen), frolicked in Central Park twice, stuffed ourselves silly with lobster rolls and pizza and Shake Shack burgers, and drank the city’s whole supply of white wine and whiskey.

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And to cap off the year’s travels, I went on a 2-week trip to Alberta and Quebec with family. I deeply miss the beautiful views in the great national parks out west. I could spend years there discovering the mountains and lakes and still not have seen enough. I can’t wait to share more of the photos on the blog.

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Amidst the travelling, the work, the working out, and the acting, there are many other treasured gems from 2016 that I’ll hold dear to my heart:

  • My family’s annual camping trip
  • Discovering Nugateau‘s amazing eclairs that have seriously rivaled my love of macarons
  • Spending a relaxing weekend at my president’s Lake of Bays cottage
  • Expending way too much energy playing Pokemon GO
  • Dressing up as Elektra for Fan Expo
  • The release of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  • Seeing Gallant and LANY in concert
  • Spending time eating and cooking with close friends while always trying new food

I started this year with the resolution to dedicate myself to the important elements of my life, and while I’ve made a lot of progress, I can feel it deep within myself that this is only just the beginning, and that there is so much more to come.

I’m ready to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017 with open arms – happy new year.

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Here in Toronto, we’ve had the privilege of an unseasonably warm fall season, but the cold of winter is finally starting to move in and I can’t help but think back to hotter days under the sun.

I love New York City in the summer. Before this year’s August long weekend in the Big Apple, my last two visits had been on the cusp of winter and spring. Snow and rain made for chilly walks through the city’s streets and I longed to see the trees in Central Park in full bloom.

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Erin and I were lucky this year, as our planned day in the park coincided with one of the hottest days of the month. We had come prepared with long, flowing maxi dresses – perfectly suited for the weather and the Upper East Side aesthetic. The last time we’d been there, our sole focus was on finding the perfect place for brunch worthy of a Waldorf or a van der Woodsen. This time, we wanted to enjoy as much of the fresh air as possible.

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Prior to our stroll in the park, we visited the exteriors of two of the UES’ most popular museums: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. To this day, I still haven’t been inside the Guggenheim, but it’s simply another excuse for me to repeatedly go back to NYC.

Just a few steps south is The Met. You can get lost in there for hours and manage to only see a fraction of the collection. Yet another reason to come back again and again.

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For anyone who’s ever been a fan of Gossip Girl, sitting on the steps of The Met is a rite of passage. This year, we came prepared with yogurt and did our best impression of S and B while the hordes of tourists strolled up and down around us. During my first time here, I learned the hard way that there are virtually zero places in the area that will conveniently sell you yogurt. So come prepared. Grab a Chobani from Starbucks on your way and declare a throne for yourself on those iconic steps.

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If I lived in New York City, I’d make it my personal mission to explore every part of Central Park. There is so much to discover in the vast landscape, especially during the warmer months when beautiful blooms like this Crape Myrtle tree appear, seemingly out of nowhere.

We parked ourselves underneath this tree for hours, enjoying the shade and the sounds of children playing nearby. I played Pokemon Go, using a Lucky Egg as I caught and evolved a bunch of new ones to add to my Pokedex. Every once in a while, someone walking by would notice the tree and stop in awe to take photos. And who could resist?

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I’ve decided I want these trees at my future wedding. This is a notice to my future husband to find a way to make that happen.

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I love watching people play with the model sailboats here. As we strolled along the Conservatory Water, we overheard a grandfather patiently coaching his grandson how to operate the boat. Needless to say, it was adorable.

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As suspected, Bethesda Fountain was crowded with tourists, but it didn’t stop us from taking a moment to revel in the stunning view. It is, without a doubt, one of my most favourite views in the city.

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Now that I’ve experienced Central Park in the spring and summer, I’m dying to see the trees in the fall, the leaves a smattering of red, gold, and orange. And although I really hate winter, I suppose seeing the park after it’s just been blanketed by a fresh snowfall is pretty high on my travel bucket list, too.

Featured Outfit //
Karrie & Erin’s dresses are both from Forever21

#karrietravels //
Follow me on Instagram @karriekwong and track my travels & adventures with #karrietravels!

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My extended family gathers every summer to camp out in Ontario’s beautiful outdoors. This year, we visited Grundy Lake Provincial Park and spent the Canada Day Long weekend under the stars.

I absolutely love these camping trips. Not only does it give us time away from city life and the everyday hustle and bustle, it allows my extraordinarily large family to have a getaway together. Some of our best family memories have been made on these trips.

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Turtle Bay Resort | 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI | ★★★★ | $$$$

Turtle Bay Resort is the major resort on Oahu’s North Shore. The resort sits on one of the world’s most scenic peninsulas and boasts beautiful guest rooms, suites, villas, and beach cottages, and a host of outdoor activities – all on its 850 acres of land. It’s also where one of my favourite comedies, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, was filmed. I had visited once with my family (no overnight stay) when I was much younger, so I knew I had to take the chance to come back and fully experience the luxury resort.

The Room

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Our room was spectacular. We were on the 5th floor, outfitted with a king bed, a very spacious room, and a balcony looking out onto the resort’s marvellous pools and a breathtaking view of the ocean. I’ve also always loved the design and colour scheme of Turtle Bay, especially with its signature turquoise blue. It just exudes a “you’re in Hawaii, it’s time to relax!” quality. (more…)

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My trip to Hawaii with Jen was absolutely stunning. Perhaps my favourite part of the week-long stay was the time we spent up on the North Shore of Oahu. It’s important not to underestimate the power of having a rental car when exploring the island. That’s how you get to see some of the great pocket beaches that we found all along the coast.

We stayed with Jen’s brother for most of our stay in Oahu, but treated ourselves to a night at Turtle Bay Resort. Despite the resort being beautiful, I think I might have enjoyed the time spent getting there and back more!

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Our first stop was Haleiwa. If you’re taking H2 up to Turtle Bay from Honolulu or Ewa Beach (where we were), this adorable small town will be on your route. Haleiwa is well-known for its shrimp trucks and shave ice stops, both of which are a must-try when in Hawaii. (more…)