Stuffing and More Stuff of Life

The onslaught of Christmas music around every corner is approaching and I am not mentally/emotionally prepared.

Two months has passed since my last blog post, and boy have those two months been PACKED with… STUFF.

Also packed with STUFF is my belly right now after a delicious Thanksgiving feast. Happy belated Thanksgiving 🙂

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This was probably one of my favorite Thanksgiving meals in a while. It’s going to sound really inflated of me, but I cooked 90% of the food. It was cathartic for me to be cooking all day though, and Madre took care of the turkey, which turned out PERFECTLY (unlike last year when we undercooked it ha). My brother’s girlfriend also made delicious crostini w/ a balsamic reduction and burrata, as well as Thai tea (!) pumpkin pie. My contributions included stuffing, mac and cheese, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, cornbread, cranberry sauce, and apple pie. I don’t mind domesticity at all; I was thriving.

HOWEVER, my apple pie bubbled over in the oven, so the juices to start burning pretty badly at the bottom of the oven, causing the smoke alarm to go off in the middle of dinner…. We needed the excitement (running around, opening doors, fanning the alarm) to facilitate digestion…is my excuse.

The food was great (and I didn’t feel terribly stuffed, which was good because I definitely felt stuffed after the two Friendsgiving dinners I had this past weekend), but of course the gift of family was the best. We went to Mass together in the morning to worship the God deserving of all thanksgiving, and then Ben and I even got in a fun workout at a gym that my high school friend owns!

Ben and Pop also played some Christmas tunes on the piano/clarinet together between dinner and dessert, which was so sweet.

To combine a life update and a Thanksgiving post, here are just some of the many things for which I am grateful from these past two months.

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The last thing I told you in my previous blog post was that I was going hiking in Maine with friends, and that was a glorious weekend. A bunch of us drove up from Boston and stayed at our friend Connor’s place, where hospitality abounds. His family is so warm and fun, and his mom makes some KILLER lasagna, banana bread, egg casserole, and pumpkin bread (she also has a beautiful singing voice, yeesh). The main event of the weekend was hiking up and down Mt. Washington, which was a sufficiently challenging hike. It started off as a pretty sweaty hike (tank top conditions), but with elevation came high winds and frigid temperatures (hat and heavy coat conditions).

We also went to the famous Fryeburg Fair on Sunday for Mass and all the fried food you could ever think of. My face was sweating bloomin’ onion oils.

Grateful for: nature; autumn leaves in the northeast; breathing hard in the fresh air; prayerful, joyful, loving, and hilarious friends (and their families!); fun fried foods.

PT school has been quite enjoyable this semester! One of my favorite aspects is that our neurological systems lab allows us to work with patients who have actually had a stroke (rather than just practicing on healthy, young peers), which makes the experience so much more realistic and meaningful.

Grateful for: education; an increase in knowledge and understanding of the human body AND the human person; friends who support both my mind and my spirit through the PT school process; academic failures and successes.

My best friend Rachel and (her now husband) Austin got MARRIED. I had the honor of being the maid of honor, and it was one of the best days of MY life. Of course, I’ve always thought marriage is beautiful, and family life is one of the best reflections of God’s Love active in the world. However, a wedding has never made these truths penetrate my heart so deeply until Rachel and Austin’s wedding. Maybe it’s because I know their relationship from the inside pretty much, but I was m o v e d by their Sacrament of Marriage. Ugh, I can’t really articulate it fully, but it was so good. Rachel and Austin were beaming all day.

The wedding reception was also LIT. I love wedding dancing, as some of you might know, and it’s even better when it’s with your best friends who ALSO love dancing. If you could find me “in my element,” it would be on the dance floor at a wedding reception.

Grateful for: the Sacrament of Marriage; Rachel and Austin; holy friends; the triumph of joy despite trials; wedding dancing.

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There have been a lot of tears (what’s new though??) of every kind. But if I could boil all the tears down…it would be salt. No just kidding. If I could boil all the tears down into one common theme, it would be that the Lord is making all things new (Rev 21:5). I have cried a lot because of emotional pain. In these cases, I have repeated daily that the Lord is, in each moment of pain, making all things new — better, more beautiful, more good than I could plan or do on my own.

I have also cried tears of joy and deep gratitude, because He shows me that things are indeed made new. There have been certain relationships and struggles (either my own or those of my loved ones) in this past year that have seemed to crush my insides, but as long as those are all laid at the foot of the Cross for love of what is good, the Lord has shown that He can and will make those relationships and struggles new — somehow better than they could have been if the pain never occurred. It’s a continuous process of pain and beauty though; it never stops. And sometimes He chooses not to show us what exactly it is He is doing, but I am learning that this is what life is. HE KEEPS YA ON YOUR TOES.

Grateful for: pain that turns into growth; newness; knowing that life will never be void of pain and struggle, but that does not mean it will void of joy.

That’s a wrap for now! As always, thank YOU for reading along despite the spottiness of my blog posts in this season of life. Thanks to mom, dad, and my brother as always 🙂 And THANK YOU, GOOD LORD, FOR THIS LIFE.

“…In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

– 1 Thess 5:18

So tell me:

One thing you’re grateful for, based on a recent experience?

If you celebrated Thanksgiving here in America yesterday, what did ya eeeeat? 

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Human Appreciation Post

Today I was walking (surprise) and thinking about the awesomeness of people.

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recent folks and feasts (feat. pancake Friday TWO WEEKS IN A ROW)

Don’t think I go around frolicking in a field thinking about this all the time though. It is a gift to be able to see the goodness and awesomeness in other people, so I’m seizing the moment to write a post about some people, random and not-so-random, who I think are awesome.

A human appreciation post, you could say.

People who clean public bathrooms.

People who drive 18-wheelers with 20 other cars stacked on it on the highway. If that does not make you think of the frailty of your life and the lives of others while driving on the highway, I don’t know what will.

Drivers who let me as a pedestrian have right of way, even if I haven’t started crossing the crosswalk, and it would be totally fine if they kept driving. (Honestly, I’d prefer if you took your right of way, but I APPRECIATE YOUR THOUGHT.)

Roommates who surprise me and do my dishes.

People who are constantly willing and excited to go way out of their comfort zone for the sake of growth and adventure and seeing what God has in store.

Construction workers who go into manholes at 10pm.

Construction workers who build bridges.

All construction workers.

Friends who think to have a pancake party on a Friday night.

Friends who are always down to eat ice cream with me.

Friends who go to Mass with me.

People who peacefully stand up for what they believe in. Whether I agree or disagree with those people, I appreciate the courage and passion for defending and fighting for what they truly believe is right.

People who run more than 1 mile at a sub-8:00 pace. Hahaha.

Priests and religious who wear vestments/habits in the summer heat. Also, people who wear shirts, ties, and slacks in the summer heat. Dedication all around.

People who lovingly correct my actions. Thank you for caring for me enough to say something to me. I’m a weenie and have such a hard time showing tough love like that (confrontation ahhhhhhhhh).

People who genuinely smile and laugh a lot.

Musicians, writers, photographers, and artists of any kind who devote themselves to an art because they believe in the power of beauty to save the world (← see my photojournalist friend’s article!!!).

Any fitness instructor who teaches a class before 9am (and any fitness instructor).

People who can be hilarious without being vulgar at all.

Primary school teachers (← this video kills me).

Researchers. Trial, error, abstracts, experiments, no. thank. you.

Parents who raise and love their children who have disabilities/congenital abnormalities (and all parents who lovingly raise children, period.)

That guy (or gal) who says hi to someone but that someone doesn’t hear and accidentally ignores the guy. I see you. Thanks for your friendliness.

Whoever keeps Boston’s water system so clean so that I can drink tap water without worrying.

People who always walk on the street without headphones because they want to be present. You are better than I.

People who love so deeply, truly, and vulnerably, even when their hearts might be broken.

Happy Sunday, friends!

So tell me:

Who are some random and not-so-random humans you appreciate?

Recent Fun Facts

1) I turned 22 last Thursday.

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This past year being 21 was probably the most difficult year of my life, academically, spiritually, and emotionally. Makes me both terrified and AMPED for 22!!! I am grateful for this beautiful life. Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday through text, Facebook, Instagram comment, in person, or over the phone!

2) I have needed someone to roll me home after dinner this whole weekend. Figuratively, that is. But it would have been nice hilarious to have someone actually do that for me.

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My family and I went to Montreal this past weekend for my friend Monica’s graduation from McGill University, and we went all out with the food. Poutine, hand-pulled noodles, Montreal bagels, excessively expensive sushi… It was delightful and indulgent to say the least. But the main star of the show was this gal!! We are so proud of her.

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Rachel also took me out in Boston the night before my birthday to a place called Alden and Harlow, where we got the “Secret Burger” (a food bucket list item of ours!), among other delicious fare. The Secret Burger has a crispy freaking CHEESE DISK under the top bun. Good g r i e f.

 

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semolina pistachio cake with strawberry sauce of sorts + peanut brittle was also fabulous

3) I tried three weeks of a delivery meal service (the ones where the company sends you all the ingredients + recipe instructions and you make it yourself). One week of Hello Fresh for a free trial from my brother’s girlfriend, Elaine. One week of Hello Fresh that I paid for because I forgot to cancel the subscription after the free trial (*rolls eyes at self*). One week of Plated for a free trial from my friend Christie.

I typically would not buy these meal services for myself because your girl cannot afford that, but it was a blast getting to try it! It was fun exploring new recipes and using cooking techniques that I never would have tried on my own. It’s even more fun cooking and sharing the meals with another person. I recommend trying it at least once (i.e. asking a friend who subscribes for a free code hehe).

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Some recipes from Hello Fresh: balsamic onion jam burgers with arugula and aioli on brioche buns // pork tenderloin with crispy potatoes and roasted vegetables // chicken cheddar fajitas. One from Plated: spicy crunchy tuna bowl

There was not a recipe from either company that I didn’t like! It’s great that each recipe also takes less than an hour to cook. “Hangry” prevention is key.

4) I have not been sleeping enough despite having no work to do since finals ended. I am craving routine again. Work starts next week!

5) I have not done a workout more than 45 minutes in the past year it seems. That will need to change as my friend Ben and I are doing another Spartan Race in August, except this time it’s a Spartan Super (10-ish miles) instead of a Spartan Sprint (5 miles), which is what we did last year, and even that wiped me out. HAHA oh my word, I have zero endurance right now.

6) I peed while on the Tappan Zee Bridge.

…Because I was on a coach bus that had a bathroom on it 🙂 Did I freak you out??

7) I kind of want to do another vlog like this one (“half a week in the life”) from last year. That was so fun to make! A little bit of an unnecessary time sucker, but hey, #summer.

8) My talented friend John (← check out his portfolio!) took some fun graduation photos for me and my friends. These people make me so happy.

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eMoTiOnz.

Too bad I have two more years of school left.

9) I am newly obsessed with Sean Lew and Kaycee Rice, two incredibly talented nugget dancers who know more about life at the age of 15/16 than I do.

Hits my soul pretty deep and makes me want to be a better person, to be honest.

10) I made a friend over the age of 80 yesterday, and she made me cry with her sweet and beautiful words of faith, hope, and love. What a gift.

GOOD NIGHT (as I type this into the wee midnight hours).

So tell me:

Some recent fun facts about yourself!

Have you ever tried a Montreal bagel OR poutine?

What is something that has touched your heart recently? 

Virtual Breakfast Date

Hey, hi, hello, let’s meet and eat.

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…I would {obviously} peek at what you’re having for breakfast. Here’s what I’m having this morning:

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To wipe that disgusted/confused look off some of your faces, I’d explain that it’s an overnight oat smoothie blended with greens this morning and topped with the crunchiest purple corn flakes (I just attempted to find which brand it was, because we threw out the box, but I’m not sure which one it is!). I would assure you that it tastes delicious. Wanna try a bite?

…I would say never mind, don’t have a bite. I came down with a fever a few days ago and I feel 95% recovered, but my throat still hurts a bit, so don’t take your chances.

…I would attribute my sickness to two days in a row of theme parks in less-than-ideal weather. But with an ideal theme park companion by my side! My dear friend, Lauren (fellow air saxophone and groovy tune enthusiast), visited us in Florida for a few days after New Years, and we had a grand ol’ time.

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The night she arrived, Madre and I (poor Pop was the first to get a fever that night) took her to Disney Springs for dinner and perusing. We shared so many hysterical laughs at the silliest things, and it was the best.

…I would exclaim that dinner at Paddlefish was STELLAR. They started us off with the fluffiest bread with honey cinnamon butter, and now I think honey cinnamon butter should be on every table across the nation. Lauren got the mahi-mahi special, which had a macadamia nut crust and sat on top of crab fried rice. Madre got the fish and chips, which came with two giant pieces of perfectly crispy fried cod and sweet potato fries (her absolute favorite). And I got the scallops with bacon, crispy brussels sprouts, and cauliflower puree. We all shared bites of each other’s dishes, and everything was blissful.

We finished the meal with their “charred carrot cake,” which was three times larger than I was expecting. It came with excellent vanilla ice cream, shortbread crumbles and little fried carrots *jaw drops*. We took most of it home.

…I would stop drooling over my past meal and continue the story of our fun evening. Following dinner, we walked around and admired the charm of overpriced Disney merchandise.

THEN WE DANCED…and participated in a lip synch competition that was 20 minutes longer than we were expecting. I posted some of the craziness on Instagram:

I was l i v i n g. This is basically what I do in my room by myself when I’m bored, except this time I was less loser status and actually had an audience! Having Lauren there was extra fun, because she’s often my groove buddy.

…I would tell you that we went to Universal Studios and Disney’s Magic Kingdom the next two days. It was rainy and chilly on Universal day, so some of the rides were down unfortunately.

Lauren and I managed to have a nice time at Harry Potter World though, sipping warm Butterbeer, eating delicious ice cream from Florean Fontescue, and remarking at how Diagon Alley = diagonally, and Knockturn Alley = nocturnally. But the Revenge of the Mummy ride outside of HP World was our favorite. We went twice.

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Magic Kingdom was…fine. Mistake #1 was arriving at 11am, which is way too late for a theme park like Disney. It was utterly packed that day (the wait for Space Mountain kept teetering between 2.5 to 4 hours lol), and also utterly FREEZING for Florida. I was quite underdressed and just miserable by the end of the day, but it was still fun hanging out with Lauren all day and even meeting up with our friend Domenica and her cousins sometime in there (bottom middle photo)!

…I would say that Lauren really made the theme parks fun. If it weren’t for her humor and both of our “well…we’ll work with what we got” personalities, it would have been a rather disappointing two days. But anything can be a great time if you let it be.

…I would wish you warmth! As we road-tripped home from FL to NY this weekend, it felt like the movie The Day After Tomorrow when the ice was invading the city like a wave. Just coldness creeping and increasing with every pit stop. I’m such a baby when it comes to the cold. You’d think I’d be okay with it living in the Northeast for 12 years, but nah.

…I would say that I’ve been eating ohhhhh so well this winter break. But I’m sure you’ve noticed.

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Yes, we did go to Popeyes on our road trip. It was one of the greasiest most delicious things I’ve ever put into my mouth. Other things have included desserts from my brother and his girlfriend (she got me banana pudding from Magnolia bakery!), sushi (I think NY has the best sushi in the northeast), and mom’s homemade food (*angels singing*).

…I would laugh at how I had coffee date with a friend in a heated train station yesterday. My friend who I met abroad in Ireland, Cristen, and I got hot beverages and muffins from The Black Cow yesterday, but there were no seats left in the tiny coffee shop. Thus, I asked the cashier if she knew any place nearby where we could just sit and chat, and she suggested the train station… So we went.

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These chairs were actually attached to the floor because they were more like art pieces, I think. But it was heated in there, sort of. I had to push a button every 20 minutes that said, “PRESS IF YOU WANT HEAT.” YES WE WANT HEAT.

Cristen and I are up for anything though, and we had a lovely time catching up on life. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I had the steamed milk and honey (loved it) and a morning glory muffin.

Soul warmed by conversation and esophagus warmed by hot beverages.

…I would shut up now because this post is so long and ask you:

What are you eating for breakfast?

Have you ever had a less-than-ideal theme park experience?

Tell me about an odd situation you’ve experienced recently.

How was your first week of 2018?

Today.

This blog post is not even about today, LOL.

In its purest cliché description, this post is about living in the moment. The theme stems from the plethora of changes — mental, intellectual, spiritual, physical (← idk, maybe less so), emotional — I’ve experienced in these past few months.

I’m the kind of person who takes her sweet time (I’m the most inefficient person I know) to try to do things “right,” whatever that means.

I face normal, everyday questions:

Should I study by myself or with classmates? 

Do I take the train or Uber or walk?

What should I pack for dinner? Should I buy dinner instead? 

Should I listen to Tori Kelly or Young the Giant in the 4 minutes I have before I arrive at my destination?

And then there are some bigger questions:

Why has God placed this person/friendship/relationship in my life?

What are my professional goals?

Where will I be a year from now?

What path do I need to take in order to best serve God for the rest of my life?

What is the right thing to do so that everyone is happy in the long run?

It is these latter questions that wrack my brain 5/7 days a week, because I don’t have a single dang clue what the answers are. I have a hard enough time coming to a decent answer for the everyday questions; the big questions just sort of debilitate me.

Of course, I’m sure nearly everyone feels the same way that I do about big questions regarding the future. How can anyone be sure about the future? But somehow I still forget that the only thing I can do is love and serve God today. Our words and actions today do indeed have ramifications for the future, but your mind, body and spirit can’t be anywhere but here today. For our lives are made up of days.

SO TODAY IS GOOD AND IMPORTANT AND CANNOT BE AVOIDED SO LIVE IT, DANG IT.

That yelling was mostly for myself. A self pep talk you could say. I didn’t mean to yell at you.

All that said, here are some moments with my family that I tried to live fully in the moments they were happening.

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Ben and I took our parents out to Hemingway’s for dinner as a Christmas present, since the best gift we can really give to each other at this point in our lives is quality time and food. I got {absurdly expensive} crab cakes, which were delightful with the coconut grits underneath and perfectly cooked asparagus on top.

The rosemary sourdough rolls at the start were also fantastic, but they were no cheese biscuits (the complimentary bread that was served when we first went to the restaurant three years ago). RIP cheese biscuits. I will dream about thee forever.

We all split calamari as an appetizer and key lime pie for dessert as well. Both hit all the right spots.

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I’ve been peddle boating with Madre! There have been alligator sightings in the lake in the past, so I’m always a little on edge about that, but thus far we have not been eaten.

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On Wednesday morning, Madre, Ben and I (Pop was working from home — man of the year) went to Keke’s Breakfast Cafe for…breakfast, naturally. It’s apparently extremely popular, so we worked up an appetite and waited approximately 25 minutes for a table. ‘Twas worth it though because just LOOK at the food.

Ben got the apple cinnamon stuffed French toast with home fries and sausage; Mom got regular French toast with eggs and sausage; and I got the largest blueberry pancake in the world with eggs and {bomb} bacon.

^^^True story. I ordered two pancakes at first, but then the waiter asked, “Are you sure?? Have you seen the size of our pancakes? If I eat two then I pass out.”

In my head at first I thought, “You don’t even know me.” But then I was like #humility and #dontbegreedy, so I ordered one pancake instead. Good thing, because the pancake was like a literal 9-inch cake in height and diameter, guys. I had to take 1/3 of it home. I NEVER LEAVE PANCAKES BEHIND USUALLY.

But it was a large, high-quality pancake. So fluffy and buttery. High recommend. Butter and Aunt Jemima required.

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^^^Random: Saw this at Publix. This is bad. I hate this headline, and I don’t hate many things. If you lose 10 lbs in 48 hours, something is WRONG.

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To end on a positive note though, God is good all the time.

And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I

— “So Will I” by Hillsong United

(if you wanna hear something beautiful today, listen to ^^this song, especially the Tori Kelly version)

Enjoy today 🙂

So tell me:

Thoughts about living today.

Waffles, French toast, or pancakes?

What is something ridiculous you’ve seen recently?