2011 Review: Best/Worst of Twenty-Eleven

I know I said I was hoping to post 1-2 times a week when we rolled out the blog but the holidays and moving got in the way (hate it when that happens).  So…sorry about the “no show” last week on the blog.  The good news is we’ve got a ton of blog post material to write about from the last couple weeks to keep us busy posting and you busy reading.  Since we are coming to a close of 2011, I thought it would be fun to make our picks for best/worst of 2011 (keep in mind these are just for this year..not necessarily the best picks of all time).  So I’ll list mine first, as it relates to me and my interests, and Tara’s picks will follow.  By the way, this is one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog in the first place…to keep a log of things that I can look back on later in life.  Hope you enjoy.

Best Music Album of 2011

BB/TB – “21” by Adele: This was, by far, my favorite album.  I know you might think I’m jumping on the bandwagon here (since she has so many award nominations coming in) but I really liked the music diversity of each track. The different producers I’m sure helped, but her vocal ability made each track sound unique not to mention she penned some great lyrics which made me want to listen to it all the more.  I’ve had this on my iPod since it came out.

Runner Up:

BB/TB – “New Acoustic Sessions Volume 1” by Boyce Avenue.  This album I stumbled across when they played their cover of “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance.  I then proceeded to download all of their cover albums.  The lead singer knows how to stay in his vocal range and they take a good creative approach on each tune musically to make it their own.

Honorable Mention:

BB“Smooth Jazz Summer” by Smooth Jazz All Stars:  Thanks to Mike Wieder for showing me this one.  Great cocktail hour music.  They do a ton of jazzy covers of current tunes and they have older albums with more of the classics.  They’ll make you laugh cause they sound a tad cheesy  but they’re somehow cool at the same time.

BB –“For The Honor” by Elevation Church.  These guys put out great records and this one is no exception.  Great worship album with powerful lyrics.

Best Music Single of 2011

BB – “Give Me Everything” by Pitbull feat. Ne-yo, Afrojack & Nayer: Dance music made a huge comeback this year.  You see it’s influence even with the hip hop being released.  This song is a combination of it all.

TB – “Out Of My Head” by Lupe Fiasco feat. Trey Songz: I just love this song, makes me want to dance, everytime!

Runner Up:

BB – “Levels” by Avicii: Great feel good track.  You can’t help but want to dance and fistpump to this track.

Honorable Mention:

BB –“Rolling In The Deep” by Adele

BB –“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People  

Best Book I Read in 2011

BB – “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson: Thank you Eric Partin for the recommendation.  This book is awesome for small business owners and entrepreneurs.  It really made me rethink a lot of what we do and how we do it.

TB – “Hunger Games” Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: My friend, Emily Rogers, has been trying to get me to read this series for over a year.  I finally did and finished it in no time.  I couldn’t put it down!  It’s fiction and has a really crazy story – I don’t even think I can try to explain it to you.  The movie comes out in March and you know what they say, the book is always better than the movie.  So, read this now!

Runner Up:

BB – “Decision Points” by George W Bush: I really liked this book.  It felt like I got to see a more personal side of the president.  Whether or not you agree or disagree with his political stance, I think you’ll see a genuine guy who gave it his all and looked out for our country’s best interest.  I have more respect than ever for him after reading this book.

TB –If You Have To Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You” by Kelly Cutrone:  This made Brian’s Honorable Mention category, but I loved it!  It’s a funny book and had some great tips, especially as I got ready to head to NYC.  Brian felt her religious takes were a little too out there and thought it hindered the book, and I agree.  But, if you can get past the far-out religious references, it has some great tips, especially for young women in the business world.

Honorable Mention:

BB/TB –“Storehouse Principle: A Revolutionary Good Idea for Creating Extraordinary Financial Stability” by Al Jandl: Whether you are a Christian or not, this a great book about the power of saving/giving with regard to your finances.  It was a timely read for us.

BB –“Running A Multi Op” by Michael Walter: This book is definitely geared towards my occupation.  I picked up a few things but more than anything, it opened up my eyes to the fact that we are doing a lot of things well.

Best Travel Destination of 2011

BB – “Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay” (Jamaica)

I travelled a TON this year but this category made picking a winner a no brainer.  First time to this country and I stayed in one of the top resorts on the island.  I was there for a gig for 2 days and the client put us up.  I’ll definitely be back for a personal vacation when I start bankrolling 😉 {last minute BB edit: with my beautiful wife of  course…whew!}

TB – “Las Vegas, NV.”: This was a mini-vacation for Brian and I in July.  Definitely not the coolest month to checkout that city, but so much fun!  It was my first time there, but Brian made sure I saw and experienced all of the Las Vegas things you have to do.

Runner Up:

BB – “Chicago, IL: I know this seems pretty boring AND we went in July (when usually it is SCORCHING hot and the humidity is unbearable).  But, we caught it on the perfect weekend (we got there on a Friday morning and stayed through Sunday).  The weather was like SoCal every day (75 degrees and a slight breeze) except Sunday (the day we left).  It’s a great town to hang out in and visit.  We stayed at the Hard Rock, saw a Cubs game, did the tourist thing (thanks Schae Lewis for the tips) and it was a blast.

TB – Another surprise trip to Germantown, TN. to see my sister and brother-in-law.  Brian surprised me for Valentine’s Day with a trip to Memphis to visit my sister, who had just moved in January.  Best present ever!

Honorable Mention:

BB/TB –“Casa Tropicana” in San Clemente, CA: I was there for business in October.  I absolutely love this city.  We stayed at this bed and breakfast (below it is a former nightclub I worked at for 8 years ) which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and it was one of the most relaxing stays I’ve ever had.  One day, we will retire in this city…it has the best sunsets in the U.S., hands down.

BB – “French Lick, Indiana”: Just kidding 🙂  But I really did go here this year for a gig. As a diehard Lakers fan, it was hard not to grafiti the whole town (which as small is it is would’ve taken about 15 minutes) and burn any and all Larry Bird paraphernalia.

Best Breakfast Restaurant in 2011

BB – “Cheeky’s” – Palm Springs, CA: I found a review of this place on Yelp while I was there doing a gig and it lived up to the billing.  It still is not my #1 breakfast spot of all-time (that would be Plums in Costa Mesa, CA) but I really liked this place because it was different and had a ton of amazing choices!

TB – Hash House A Go Go” – Las Vegas, NV:  This is on Brian’s Honorable Mention list, but I thought it was super fantastic!  The portions were beyond big and so delicious!  I had their Chorizo House Hash.  I love chorizo in the morning!

Runner Up:

BB/TB – “Peels” – New York, NY: Great atmosphere, food and vibe!

Honorable Mention:

BB –Hash House A Go Go” – Las Vegas, NV:  Huge portions.  They have a few different locations.  We went to the one off the strip on Sahara.

Best Dinner Restaurant in 2011

BB/TB –Hot Chocolate” – Chicago, IL: We went to this place in July and it’s awesome.  It’s won restaurant of the year in Chicago for a few years running.  Definitely get a hot chocolate for desert!!  The Mexican hot chocolate is TO DIE!

Runner Up:

BB – “Fish Bones “– Lake Mary, FL: Going to Orlando so much this year, I ended up eating at this restaurant for business meetings a lot!  Get the filet.  You won’t be disappointed.

TB –Sushimoto” – Destin, FL:  Best sushi place in Destin, hands down.  With a lot of sushi places, the best rolls can’t be found on the menu.  My non-menu favorites are: Cookie Monster, Fairmont, and Asian Persuasion.  If you can handle the XXX Tuna (I’m looking at you, Lisa Tuttle!), the flavor is amazing, but it is so hot I can only eat 2 pieces, max.  Brian’s favorite rolls are: Urban Queen, Asian Persuasion and This Is How We Roll.  I don’t even know what is in most of these rolls, I just know they’re amazing!

Honorable Mention:

BB –Takara”– Port Orange, FL:  Best sushi place in Port Orange area.  My favorite rolls are: Volcano Roll & The Hollywood Roll.

Best TV Show in 2011

BB – “The Voice” – NBC: Way better than American Idol (IMHO).  Loved the mentoring and the talent/arrangement of tunes were awesome!  It was great getting to see the personal side of Blake Shelton and Cee-Lo Green.  Can’t wait for next season.

TB –“Modern Family”– ABC: How great is Phil Dunphy?!  This was the only non-reality show on Brian’s list – it made his honorable mention.  There is such great writing on this show!!  Some of the jokes literally leave me in tears, they’re so funny.  I love that the writing is so witty.

Runner Up:

BB – “Bethenny Ever After “– Bravo: Bethenny Frankel is hilarious and I loved seeing her New York type attitude/approach to everything.

TB – “The Rachel Zoe Project” – Bravo: This show is Everything.  I just love Rachel and Rodger, and the fashion – obvs.  You can all thank this show for my obsession with wedge boots before I even had a pair.  I DIE. (And if you’ve never watched that show, you probably have no idea what that means.)

Honorable Mention:

BB/TB –“Flipping Out” – Bravo: This show took on another look after the real estate market went in the crapper.  Zoila (the maid) was the best part of this show!!  Loved her.  Jeff Lewis was funny as always.  Can’t wait to watch next season.

Best Movie in 2011

BB – Limitless: This was a great movie!  This was a “make you think” type movie.  I absolutely loved it.  Highly recommend.

TB – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1: Duh.  Hate all you want, I love the Twilight books and movies and this one was amazing!

Runner Up:

BB – Moneyball:  I was expecting a dumb sports movie.  Totally surprised me (in a good way).  Jonah Hill did an awesome job.  Loved the storyline as well.
TB – Bridesmaids: Absolutely hilarious!  Kristen Wiig is the funniest female alive.

Honorable Mention:

-Lincoln Lawyer

Biggest Movie Disappointment: Hangover 2:  It sucked.  ‘Nuf said.

Best Blog in 2011

BB – MichaelHyatt.com: this is a great blog – tons of great tips for leadership and marketing. I tend to check it daily.

TB – Pinterest.com: I don’t know if this is really considered a blog, but it was definitely my best online find this year.  If you don’t know about this website; be warned, it is very addictive if you’re a creative, food-loving, fashionista type.

Runner Up:

BB – joeboydbog.com: Joe is a good friend of mine.  I love his writing style…it hooks you in and his stuff makes you think!  I really started reading this more actively this year.

Honorable Mention:

BB – Dontevenreply.com:  For some comedic relief, this is a great one (be warned it’s not family appropriate).  The guy doesn’t post as often as he used to but it’s still funny.

TB – Damnyouautocorrect.com: I remember reading this on my lunch break, completely alone, crying from laughing so hard.  Like, needed a tissue from the tears running down my face!  So funny!

BB/TB – A Cup of Jo:  NYC blog.   Thanks to Ginny Wosak for sending me this. It’s an awesome one.

Best Gig of 2011

Wade Benz/Natalie Roebuck Wedding – WaterColor, FL (8/6/11):   It was HOT, HUMID & the event was OUTSIDE with NO tent!!!  All of those things I despise (especially considering the heat index was the highest of the year on this day).  But this did NOT faze this group.  The crowd (and the couple of honor) were AMAZING!  So many storylines from this wedding:  from 3 trips to the hospital for the guests to the best man being a professional dancer for Britney Spears, to me playing an after party for this group till 2AM in an adjacent room, etc.  For a snippet video recap, go here: http://youtu.be/KfL3FDcnouw

Runner Up: Gavin Back/Katie Marasco Wedding – Palm Springs, CA (10/22/11): This event was so fun.  To start with, the bride/groom were some of the coolest folks I’ve ever met.  They actually live in NYC so I’m sure we’ll be hanging out a ton shortly.  They loved to dance and so did their crowd.  I was able to reconnect with a ton of past brides/grooms that I had the honor of Dj’ing for (friends of this couple) that were in attendance.  Almost ALL of them now have babies.  Crap, I’m getting old.  The venue was SICK!  The crowd danced their fannies off and we had a good time hanging out with Graeme and Christen Cowgill, and Michael Kuhn.  Video promo coming soon!

Honorable Mention:  Celebration Hall Showcase Event – Santa Rosa Beach, FL (9/13/11):  I liked this event for many reasons but mainly because it was so different from what we typically do.  It was a Havana Nights theme. To see some pix go here: http://www.facebook.com//thecelebrationhall#!

Best Experience of 2011

Taking Tara to Chicago in July and surprising her with a visit of her college roommate, Deborah Kaminsky, and their newborn baby:  This was planned out months in advance with the help of Deborah’s husband, Steve.  We surprised both Tara and Deborah.  It was awesome.

Runner Up:

NYC in August:  This was where our NYC dream from almost a year prior was starting to become a reality.  We sat in Central Park praying and dreaming for a few hours.  It was such a great experience.  We’ll never forget those moments as long as we live.

Honorable Mention (SOOO many this year):

Surprising Tara with a trip to see her sister in Memphis in February: This was awesome because I didn’t tell her where we were going…just pack your bags.  We were at the airport and I sat at the NYC gate on purpose.  She was so stoked and took pics and posted on Facebook that we were going there.  Then we went to the Memphis gate.  She was even more stoked (and a little pissed that I let her get to the point of posting where we were going on FB) because her sister had just moved there!

-DJ Expo 2011 / August 2011: Although I’ve gone for years, this was the first time ever taking a bunch of people from our company.  It was a very expensive investment on our part but the return was SO worth it.  Great memories!

Kate, Christen and Tara met Jasonnnn Deruuulo

Tara’s Birthday / July 2011: I couldn’t do a whole lot (gift-wise) as we were trying to save money for our move to NYC.  So instead, we made it about friends.  The week of her birthday, I surprised her with a night out every night that week with a different group of our friends who love her to death.  It was a blast.

-Shoreline’s Crappy Love Song Series / March & April 2011: This was the last series I put together while on staff at Shoreline Church and it was one of my favorites ever.  It tried incorporating every element that I could concieve of and the messages were some of the top ones of the year (IMHO).  Nothing like going out with a bang.

Fantabulous / October 2011: This was the Crossing’s (my Cali church) building dedication event.  I was asked to be a part of it with a host of old timers who I served with from the time I started going to this church back in 1996.  It was a great event and I was honored to have been involved.

Valentine’s Day @ Henderson Park Inn and Anniversary at WaterColor Inn / February & October 2011: Anytime I get to spend time with just my wife, I’m in heaven.  She’s the best looking, most amazing person I’ve ever met in my life and the fact that she decided to marry me still boggles my mind.  Both these trips had to be local for various reasons but we had such a blast.

Toughest Experience in 2011

My middle brother’s car accident / February 2011: This was and still is a hard thing to cope with.  What initially appeared to be a fatal accident for my brother Mark ended up not being one.  My brother burned 90% of the skin off his legs and without the power of prayer, God’s divine intervention, some Good Samaritan individuals who helped drag him out of the wreckage and a few skilled physicians, he would have had his legs amputated and not be walking today.  I’ve been going to visit him almost weekly since September and although his recovery is slow and painful, he’s in such a good place.  I’m proud of him and the way he’s handled this unfortunate ordeal.

Runner Up: Rotating off staff at Shoreline / April 2011:  This was bittersweet for me.  I absolutely loved working at Shoreline church and the staff members were (and still are) some of the best friends I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know.  This church changed my life and I found it at the time where I really needed them more than they needed me.  I was able to help them in the Creative Arts arena and somehow worked my way to having the create a position for me on the staff.  Eventually, I ended being a part of their lead team.  Working at a church is one of the hardest yet most rewarding experiences a person can have.  You are changing lives for eternity.  That is something not to be taken lightly and I tried to keep that in mind as I used every ounce of creativty in me to put together the best services I could each and every weekend.  Rotating off staff was tough but I felt like that was where God was leading Tara and I so we took a leap of faith in doing so.  My last Sunday (Easter 2011) was a surreal experience and I’ll never forget how weird it felt not to go to the staff meeting the following Monday.

Honorable Mention:  House A/C unit in Niceville, FL biting the dust for good / September 2011: This A/C was always a problem from the beginning of our time living here.  We put several hundreds of dollars into keeping it running but eventually it died after suffering for quite a while.  Typically, September is a “cool” season…NOT this year.  We ended up spending another $1200 in portable fans to make the place livable.  A new unit was not even considered since the cheapest we could get one for was about $6500.  Big picture, not a big deal, but it was definitely tough at the time!

Biggest Accomplishments  in 2011

Losing 23 lbs / Healthy Lifestyle: Thanks to Bob Bulgarella and his selfless persona, he helped me, Tara, and others get back to living a healthy lifestyle.  It was a tough 4 month program but I’m so grateful for him and Shoreline Church (who put together the series) for what this did for me.

Runner Up: Moving to NYC 5 months ahead of schedule:  You wouldn’t think this is a big accomplishment but it is most certainly is!  If you haven’t heard, moving is expensive.  Moving to NYC….multiply that to the zenth degree.  We had been saving and planned on moving in May of 2012.  But due to various reasons beyond our control, we had to move that date up to December.  I’m so proud of the way we were able to come up with additional ways to save money (giving up a ton of “wants”) to make this happen.

Honorable Mention:  Creating a financial system for my company that allowed us to run efficiently and with margin: For the last couple years, it was tough trying to figure out how to deal with a business model that dealt with deposit and final payments and how to save/ invest /spend money.  I took 2 weeks in isolation after leaving Shoreline and spent time working out with our accountant a model that I now believe will sustain us for years to come.  This is the first year of working under this model but it has given both Christen and I (as well as our spouses) a little bit of breathing room going into slow season.  We’ll make some minor tweaks in 2012 but we are in a MUCH better place than previous years.

Whew!  Thanks for reading all that.  2011was awesome but I’m looking for to 2012!  Each year, although I get a bit older, I also seem to gain a little more wisdom.  Money can never buy that for you…only time provides it.  Happy New Year every one!!

5 thoughts on “2011 Review: Best/Worst of Twenty-Eleven

  1. Definetly one of the highlights of my year was getting to come to New York for some one on one time with you and seeing your dreams coming together. Oh and let’s not forget my pilgrimage to Fox News Center.

  2. Great Post Tara and Brian!! You have been added to my google reader…look forward to hearing about your adventures in NYC. ….Thanks for the shout out! I feel so cool now 🙂

  3. Glad I made the cut, Bri! It was so great to see you and Tara and to be a part of your big year.

    I love the part about the two of you dreaming in Central Park together. Beautiful!

    Hugs and kisses to another amazing year. xo

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