Dear Alison… {A Look Back at 2015}

The last three days of 2015 have been going out with a bang, I’d say!

Some good food for the body…

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Some good food for the soul…

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dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house

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banana peach green tea slush in a BOWL (they know what’s right)

Some more Christmas cheer…

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my lovely family caroling for senior citizens

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talented gingerbread house designers

Some “big kid” fun in blizzard weather…

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smiling through the pain of freezing rain blowing into our faces

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delicious chicken taco because I was hangry waiting for ramen

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“sakepolitan” (alcoholic cranberry lime juice, essentially)

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ramen that hit. the. spot.

And lots of baby cuddling…

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photo creds to my uncle!

We also did yoga and bouldering yesterday! I felt like I was in Boulder, CO with all their fit, hip, and healthy citizens. It was a fun day!


Since today is the last day of 2015, I feel obliged to reflect on 2015 with my second annual letter-to-self. So without further ado, here are month-by-month letters to Alison (myself), highlighting the moments that made this year a beautiful and transformative one.
dear alison

Dear January Alison,

Well weren’t you just living it up in Florida!? Disney World, air boat rides, that time you almost ran into an alligator in the wild, your first spa day… What a way to kick off your year!

I forgot that you tried starting a budget spreadsheet. Haha. I also forgot that you posted a couple workouts and you did lots of burpees. You were a maniac with burpees.

You started your second semester of freshman year, but winter storm Juno shaved off what felt like half of your class time. Not that you were complaining.

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Dear February Alison,

Second semester kicked your bootay, despite the snow days you had every Monday. I’m proud of you for getting through anatomy, organic chemistry, linguistics, and a tedious writing class all in one go.

You also became a certified tour guide for Boston University, woohoo! I know you were stressed about remembering all the information, but you pulled through.

Lent started and you gave up music. THAT WAS HARD. But spring retreat with the Catholic Center totally recharged you and made you remember what truly matters.

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Dear March Alison,

You posted about your eating disorder struggles for NEDA week. That was heavy, but it was good for you to reflect on your progress and hopefully good for others who have similar struggles.

Spring break was a BLAST! You hung out with your BFF, Daliza, and I think this is when you realized that you have a college BFF too (Rachel!). Of course, y’all bonded over food. BIG TIME.

You joined intramural softball even though you hate baseball/softball. You weren’t good at softball and you’re still not good, but I hope you learned to try new things anyway.

You cried for the first time over schoolwork, but are you really in college if that doesn’t happen?

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Dear April Alison,

Wait whoa, this is your last month of freshman year already. You celebrated your first Easter away from home with some beautiful people.

First Boston Marathon experience! Watching it at least. Get pumped for another year of screaming your lungs out and getting inspired by the participants.

You learned even further that there’s more to life than food and fitness. I’m glad you expressed this.

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Dear May Alison,

Finished with freshman year, what whaaaat.

You went to Colorado (hiking was beautiful, but work on that lung capacity, eh?) and Blend Retreat, which was like a dream to you. Wasn’t it so cool to meet bloggers like Emily, Amanda, and Tina!? *starstruck*

Back at home, you started your physical therapy internship, which turned out to be an amazing experience.

Last but not least, you made one of the best decisions of the year in May— to take it easy with exercise and up the calorie intake.

Oh, you turned 19, which means you’re legal drinking age in Canada 🙂

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Dear June Alison,

Look atchu with your new short hair! I dig it, even if other people don’t.

Vlogs with Daliza are always a fun idea.

Don’t forget that stretching, mobility and progressions are crucial in terms of physical fitness. Be a good physical therapist.

You met Arman AND you FaceTimed Julia. Still recovering from the fan-girling.

You also met up with college friends in the city! So cute, cool, and college.

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Dear July Alison,

Fourth of July in Boston was the best weekend ever. Tori Kelly live in concert is even better than recorded. How?

You talked about 99.9% recovery and the idea that 100% recovery might never be attainable, but to be honest, I think you’re gonna have to do a followup on that post…

Oh yeah! You had jury duty! That was a good experience. But it’s nice that you don’t get called back for another few years.

The barefoot walk for sex trafficking awareness is something you should do every year.

Keep working on becoming a better grownup, but hey, keep being extraordinarily ordinary.

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Dear August Alison,

Rachel visited New York again! Fun times. Except when Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian ignored you. At least he retweeted you.

You made a lot of quick trips this month. First, you spent under 24 hours in Kansas City after a whole day of traveling there. The things we do for Midwestern hospitality. 😉 But seriously, St. Louis was lovely, especially since your baby cousin got baptized!

You and Pop also made a “quick” drive up to Canada for a few days, and you did cool things like bouldering and knife throwing.

Portland and Seattle are cool places. I think you need to go back there soon.

Two year blog anniversary, high five! Keep it up. I think you like this whole blogging thing.

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Dear September Alison,

You’re back at BU and loving it. So good to see your best friends again! Sophomore year, baby.

Also, don’t forget to own it. Yeah, you look stupid sometimes, but that’s what makes people/life not boring.

Kicking off a food bucket list with Rachel, I see. Typical you.

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Dear October Alison, 

Oof, you’re getting busy. But with really good things, like fall retreat.

Apple picking is still one of your favorite fall activities!

Also, first couples Halloween costume…with Rachel, haha! PB&J because you guys are so freaking predictable.

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Dear November Alison,

You finally asked Rachel to do a vlog with you! You guys also finished a whole tray of brussels sprouts. Please calm down.

There were a lot of emotions happening, especially with the terrorist attacks surfacing to the news. They really brought you back down to earth.

Thanksgiving was relaxing and wonderful in every way. Please always be this grateful.

Also, run. Even if you’re slow, just run if you feel like it, because you don’t hate it. I repeat: You don’t hate it.

OMG you also got something really exciting!!! Praise God.

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Dear December Alison,

Apparently, you have a “look of wellbeing.” I can tell you that it’s largely because of the people around you.

And just like that, half of sophomore year is done and gone.

Which brings me to this moment. Alison, never take what you have for granted and always trust in the Lord. Have no fear, because He has a good plan. I think this is the overarching theme of everything you’ve learned this year. Take this invaluable lesson and grow in it in 2016.

Keep on swimming.

-Alison on December 31, 2015


 

So tell me:

What would you tell yourself as you reflect on 2015?

Do you have any specific goals for 2016? Nothing specific for me. I’m not really a big New Year’s resolution person. I kinda just try to be better every day… #lame.

What are you doing for New Year’s? Hanging out with family here at my cousin’s house!

 

Christmas Chronicles

Post-Christmas healthy living bloggers be like:

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And I’m still just like:

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There’s been an endless supply of food on our vacation in Canada so far, and I can’t say I’m very stressed or upset about it at all. It’s definitely a lot more sugar and salt than I’m used to in such a short period of time, but there’s some nutrition in there. Most importantly, though, there has been a lot of fellowship and joy surrounding the meals, which is the best part!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/weekend. Here’s what’s been going on with me and my family…

Christmas Eve breakfast was a festive affair! Davida’s green pancakes with pomegranate arils to complete the holiday look.

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We went to Mass on Christmas Eve since we would be traveling all day on Christmas.

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After Mass we ate dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant for suuuuushiiii.

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note the ideal fish to rice ratio — crucial aspect

Apple pie a la mode was waiting for us at home (leftovers that we froze from Thanksgiving)!

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I WAS SO FULL. But superbly content.

I woke up at the fine time of 4:20 AM (lol) after going to sleep at midnight. I had a little bit of time before we were hitting the road, so I did a super quick workout just to get the blood flowing before being the car for 10 hours. Working out before traveling these days is about moving for the sake of moving, not for the sake of burning calories. It’s nice and a lot less self-imposed pressure.

Mom and I packed some quality road trip food, if I do say so myself. Exhibit A: Mom’s salmon, brown rice, and broccoli packets.

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When we finally arrived at my grandparents’ place, we had some good rounds of ping pong (if that doesn’t scream Chinese workout of the day, I don’t know what does).

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(Also, my grandma owns me in ping pong.)

Dinner was the first of many Chinese meals on our trip. It was absolutely delicious, MSG and all. The fish was super fresh too. Suuuuper fresh.

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I apologize if any of you are squeamish, but that fish was incredible.

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We’re staying at my fellow fit relatives’ place currently, so of course we partook in some ninja activities upon arrival.

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My bro offered to take a slow motion video of me throwing knives, and I thought that would be a fantastic idea so I could scare all my best friends back at college. ‘Twas a great Christmas overall 🙂

Leftover green pancakes the next morn’!

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My cousin and I worked up a sweat for an hour or so playing Just Dance on her Wii. That game is no joke! Like, you need a decent amount of dance skill to be fairly good at it.

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And then more food with more cousins for lunch! Followed by Mah Jong (Chinese card game) and Chinese checkers. Did I mention we’re part Chinese?

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solid combo of leftover Christmas food and fresh sushi

At night, we all attended my great uncle and aunt’s golden anniversary celebration. 50 years of marriage, how ’bout that!? Inspirational.

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It ain’t no celebration without copious amounts of food in this family. Ergo, more eating.

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Peep the full pig on the right. We like heads on our food evidently.

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Ermahgersh.

Also, ermahgersh at all the little ones and the ex-little ones who are now taller than me (not saying that much, because I’m so short).

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Yesterday morning, I woke up early-ish to get some moves and grooves in. I did a fun yet killer circuit workout that I came up with in the basement. A classic and refreshing Greek yogurt bowl was breakfast afterwards.

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My family went to Mass and lunch (more Chinese food!) from the late morning to the early afternoon. Then we drove over to my mom’s side of the family for the rest of the evening. They greeted us with more food hahaha. ha. ha.

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another great combo of Thai food and Shepherd’s pie

Surprisingly, I never felt super full or overwhelmed. I ate what I wanted, and that was that. Yes, there were more times than usual this past week when I felt stuffed, but honestly, it’s the holidays. THERE, I SAID IT. I’m using the holidays as an excuse. What are we gonna do about it?

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The best part was hanging out with my cousins though. We even unintentionally matched with our cousin telepathy.

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girls show teeth, boys do soft smiles

It was a fun evening, and now it’s late… and I’m kinda hungry again… Not even kidding.

I am beyond grateful for my family, nourishment, health, and fellowship. God is good. Joy to the World, the Lord has come!

Hope you all have a great Monday! Three more days of 2015!!!

So tell me:

Three things you did this Christmas/weekend! 

Best thing you ate over the holiday. The sushi on Christmas eve OR that super fresh fish.

Sick Day Eats

In the past four days, I have only left the house to go to church, the grocery store, and the train station.

I wish I could say I’ve gone on some fun hometown excursions with friends, but alas, I have come down with something. I’ve had flu-like symptoms, but nothing too serious. Just enough to make me want nothing but sleep, soup, and bread. (I just looked back at a post at this exact time last year, and I was sick, haha.)

It’s weird that I don’t have a million things to do, people to see, and places to walk. Nevertheless, I am enjoying this change of pace. I think that’s why I’m sick. Thanks to human physiology, I now understand that my immune system is repressed in times of stress, so when I am no longer stressed, my immune system starts to fight whatever pathogen has been lurking in my body.

I proudly told that to Pop, and he was like, “I know that.”

WELL.

Cooking in the kitchen has also been making me happy. Today I’m sharing my day of eats from Monday. It’s been a mighty long time since I participated in What I Ate Wednesday (aka WIAW aka wheeee-awwww)!

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630 am: Hot honey lemon water

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After I dropped off Pop at the train station, I went to the grocery store to get some lemons. All my throat wanted was some hot honey lemon water, and boy was it soothing.

9 am: Green overnight oat smoothie

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Festive, yeah? The night before, I put into a blender:

  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/3 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 HUGE tbsp. peanut butter (so like, 2 tbsp. probably)
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Stirred it together straight in the blender and put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I added another splash of milk, a frozen banana, and lots of spinach. Blend, pour into a bowl, top with granola, eat with a spoon.

1 pm: Avocado, cheddar, egg, mustard sandwich

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I went on a 20 minute run jog around the neighborhood before I decided that I was very done. I had worked out the night before, so I was sore and also achy from being sick. Thus, I came home and made this beautiful thing. I even got fancy and broiled the cheese on the toast. DREAMY.

I also ate some colorful pomegranate seeds and carrots with hummus.

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A package came in the mail during lunchtime that included no-bake balls from Arman, so I obviously had to try one. I think this was a cinnamon bun no-bake bite. Basically everything good all rolled into a convenient ball. Thank you so much, Arman!

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5 pm: Nuts

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Balls and nuts, good. (12 year-old boy.)

630 pm: Theraflu

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I appreciate that Theraflu makes tasty medicine.

730 pm: Split pea soup, leftover pesto chicken, peppers and hummus

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I made a big batch of slow cooker split pea soup during the day, and it totally hit the spot for dinner. Also, the thought of raw peppers kinda makes me queasy while I’m sick, but I ate them anyway.

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Split pea soup is my FAVORITE soup!

10 pm: More hot honey lemon water

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(I washed my mug between uses :)) I think I might even have hot honey lemon water even when I’m not sick. It’s so comforting yet refreshing from the zing of lemon. At the same time though, I might want to keep it as a sick day “treat”. Kind of like mom’s chicken noodle soup, ya know? Maybe. I dunno.

Two more days until Christmas!!! It’s 60 degrees outside right now. It’s like a Florida Christmas or something!

Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday! Go broil some cheese toast.

So tell me:

What do you like to eat or drink when you’re sick?

What is your favorite kind of soup?

What is the best thing you’ve eaten this week? It’s a tie between that sandwich and the split pea soup!

The Great and Small Things I Learned {Sophomore Semester I}

We back, we back, we BAAACCKKK.

Back home. Back to the kitchen. Back to sleep. Back to blogging more than once a week (hopefully)! For now. 🙂

Needless to say, finals were exhausting, and we all lost another half a year off our lives in the process, but it all makes winter break that much sweeter.

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not gonna lie, I’ll miss you, human physiology

I came home by train on Saturday, and since then, I’ve caught up on the 500+ blog posts that I haven’t read since Thanksgiving, cooked, watched Food Network, and {sorta} caught up on sleep.

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kitchen is where the heart is ♥︎ 

With the close of another semester of college, I think it’s only appropriate to share my third edition of “The Great and Small Things I Learned”! Some of the things might overlap with my first or second freshman semesters, but I know the Lord blesses/humbles me with many more lessons constantly. So without further ado…

the great and small

1) I am probably Boston’s #1 peanut butter consumer.

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finished a little over seven 36 oz. jars

2) The weather has a bigger impact on my mood than I thought.

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3) No matter how often I feel like there’s no time to pray: a) there is always time; b) it’s always worth it; c) prayer helps me focus and use my time more efficiently.

4) Simply logging off of social media on all my devices deters me from going on and getting majorly distracted.

5) Boston has so many hidden gem restaurants. (Thanks to this list for introducing Rachel and me to some incredible food!)

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y’all know how I feel about sandwiches…

6) I used to feel like I physiologically had to exercise if I sat for too long, even if I had already worked out and walked around that day. It was all in my head.

7) How to ask better conversational questions in order to get to know people better. People’s life stories or daily stories can be so interesting, and friendships can sprout from them.

8) How to be more attentive and compassionate. All thanks to my friends who are so attentive and compassionate towards me.

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9) I can better observe my emotions objectively. I can better understand why I feel a certain way, realize that it’s okay to feel that way, but know that I can control what I do with those feelings.

10) The ravioli in the dining hall is delicious and I need to get it more often.

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11) Friendships > romantic relationships. That sounds like I’m bitter about not being in a relationship, but this is true whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not. Friends if you have no significant other, friends if you do have a significant other, friends who become significant others, friends with your significant other… You get the point.

12) Taking yourself too seriously is stressful.

13) Your girls Rachel and Alison here love us some brussels sprouts. We can and WILL finish a whole pan in one sitting.

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14) If I am being honest with myself, I cannot effectively study while listening to music with any sort of melody. As much as I want to rock out to cool music while reading about the cardiovascular system, I just cannot focus fully. These videos were my jam (sans melody) during finals week.

15) Going to the gym once or not at all during the week is okay.

16) I still love dancing, and I hope to continue dancing for as long as I can.

17) Doing the readings for your classes is not always necessary, but it definitely makes life a heck of a lot easier when it comes down to the exams and papers.

18) How to accept days when I just don’t have the time or energy to work out, even if I haven’t worked out for a few days in a row…

19) …But any sort of movement is worth it and helps me focus for the rest of my day.

20) I hate rain boots. I’d rather wear sneakers and get my feet soaked. (Probably just need better rain boots that don’t chafe my feet.)

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21) I need to write down the order in which I want to complete my daily tasks. Otherwise, I feel like a lost duckling and end up getting distracted.

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22) I need to work on punctuality. Rachel thinks so too.

23) Good people are medicine for the mind, body, and soul.

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24) Watching my friends grow in mind, body, and spirit is one of the coolest things ever.

25) How to trust in God a little bit more.

26) My blog is transforming as I am being transformed. (Duh. But it’s interesting to observe.)

27) There is much more to learn.

I actually don’t know the next time I will check in with you all, since this week is Christmas week. Crazy pants. We’ll be driving up to Canada on Christmas day, which isn’t quite my ideal of how to spend Christmas, but a) it’s not about ME; b) I’ll be with my family; c) Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were traveling on Christmas day; d) traffic will be pretty light!

Hope you all have a joyful week ahead ♥︎

P.S. Just saw the whole Miss Universe mistake and I am feelin’ so bad for both Miss Colombia and Steve Harvey. Also kinda chuckling, but mostly feelin’ bad.

So tell me:

What is one lesson/thing about yourself you learned this fall?

Can you relate to any of the lessons I learned?

What did you have for dinner last night? I made pesto chicken with maple balsamic kale last night for Pop and myself! (+ Asian pear, pomegranate, toasted pecans, and two cornbread muffins with honey and butter as sides/snacks/dessert)

How do you go about making to-do lists? 

How Can It Be…?

Finals got me like…

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I am typing this at midnight after a long day of studying, but honestly, I have nothing to complain about. Finals always suck, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Instead, let’s look at the positive things that happened last week. Theme: How can it be…?

How can it be that I’m going home in five days?

How can it be that my best friend gave me the most thoughtful Christmas gift in all the land? Rachel put together a beautiful scrapbook consisting of letters written by all my friends here at college, as well as family and friends from home.

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too many emotions!!!

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I love you, Rachel! ♥︎ And thank you so much, friends who contributed!

How can it be that Christmas is less than two weeks away?

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How can it be that friends who I’ve known for a year or less have become like family?

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How can it be that my engineering friends are so brilliant?

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fireplace inside the gingerbread house thanks to iPhone technology

How can it be that my friend Emma and I made it to the roof of the Arts and Sciences building before 10AM on Thursday?

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How can it be that my friends and I survived skating without falling on our butts?

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How can it be that Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage delivered into my life everything I needed and more on Saturday night? It took Rachel and me 1.5 hours to get to this place (unexpectedly), we were hangry and fading, and I was dead tired. By the grace of God we made it to the restaurant and this meal made all things right.

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pumpkin pie frappe (milkshake)! there were graham cracker pieces.

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“iPhone burger” with boursin cheese, grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce, and tomato + sweet potato fries (p.s. crushed that burger)

How can it be that the dining hall spoils me too?

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African sweet potato, peas, and lentils

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holiday dinner night: herbed chicken with apricot pomegranate sauce, sweet potatoes, and green beans

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BBQ lentil “meatball” sub

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baked fish with mashed sweet potatoes and sautéed kale

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salad from the food court

How can it be that my friends are so hilarious?

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How can it be that my brain and body are still functioning right now?

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How can it be that God is so good to us “squishy mortals” (← favorite phrase ever via Geraldine)?

There is nothing more attractive in the world than my bed, so I’m gonna go there now.

Hope you all have a fantastic week ahead! This time of year is stressful for nearly everyone, but I hope you find some light in the darkness 🙂

So tell me:

How can it be that…(insert something wonderful)?

What is the best burger you’ve ever eaten?

Is this a stressful time for you?