First Friendsgiving

GUYS, I HAD AN AMAZING DATE THIS WEEKEND.

Actually, I had many dates!

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🙂

I didn’t fall in love with an Irish boy, but I did fall in love with these luxurious Medjool dates that a patient brought into work last week. What have I been doing without these things my whole life!? They taste like caramel and maple syrup!!!

My supervisor at work told me to take the box home on Thursday, since they knew I had a big Thanksgiving feast that night where I could share the bounty of dates.

How was your Thanksgiving, American friends? I don’t feel like it happened, since it’s not celebrated here in Ireland, and this weekend was the first time I really missed New York. My family mom was sending me lots of photos of the Macy’s Parade and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which tugged at my heart a little bit. New York is the BEST place during the holidays!

But my friends and I here got down with the holiday spirit here in Dublin too! Two lovely ladies in our program took it upon themselves to organize an epic Friendsgiving on Thursday night, and the event totally surpassed everyone’s expectations.

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all out with the decor and table settings!

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the masters behind the night: Edna and Becca

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In true Thanksgiving fashion, there was so much food. Edna and Becca cooked a lot of it, others contributed more dishes, and the rest made monetary contributions. It worked out quite well! I contributed sausage and apple stuffing (my favorite Thanksgiving food) using this recipe.

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The only thing that put a damper on my night was that I was not hungry AT. ALL. My stomach had been in a funk in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, so as much as I wanted to eat all the delicious food, I had zero desire to put anything into my stomach. Fortunately, though, the night proceeded very slowly, so I had time to slowly digest appetizers…

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…before the main course. By then it was only a little bit uncomfortable to eat, so I got to try a good number of dishes!

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turkey (possibly pork though?) with sausage and veggies + cranberry sauce + brussels sprouts galore + stuffing + goat cheese pomegranate salad + roasted carrots + butternut squash + mac and cheese + mashed potatoes + mashed sweet potatoes

I nearly cleared that plate. #Perseverance. Everything was delicious.

There was also an immense dessert selection, so I told myself: “Choose wisely. You have limited space even in your dessert stomach.”

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apple pie a la mode + cake (that our program director bought for us!)

Sufficiently stuffed.

Even better than the food, though, was the company. I am beyond grateful for the wonderful people in my study abroad program. They are all gems.

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last four photos compliments of my friend, Cassandra

Thank you to everyone who made the night a complete success!

The rest of my weekend largely involved reading Harry Potter, watching Harry Potter, working on an essay, and eating leftovers. Megan and I are on the fourth HP book, and we are falling in love with the wizarding world more and more.

(Side note: I took the sorting quiz again, and I’m actually a Hufflepuff. I don’t know how I feel about it. I was starting to embrace Slytherin.)

I have all this leftover celery from my stuffing, and since I don’t love celery by itself, I tried ants on a log.

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I don’t really get it. It’s like…why would you ruin peanut butter with celery?

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leftover pork and apple sausage + caramelized onions with sage and thyme (I have way too many herbs left over) over spinach

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the best leftovers

Megan and I made some new food yesterday too — pancakes! We used this recipe and finished the whole batch between the two of us. “Four servings” is a suggestion, right?

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banana pancakes for me, chocolate chip for Megan

As always, I ate my pancakes with plain yogurt, peanut butter and maple syrup.

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Me: “Don’t judge me for this weird thing I’m about to do.” *puts yogurt and peanut butter on pancakes*

Megan: “It’s just not my ideal pancake, but I respect that. Peanut butter isn’t weird. The yogurt is a little weird. But as long as you enjoy it.”

Thanks, girl!

Our plethora of pancakes was breakfast and lunch. At night, we ate more carbs in the form of pizza at Independent Pizza Company.

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mozzarella, parma ham, arugula, tomatoes, and parmesan — perfection

And now I have pizza leftovers for dinner tonight 🙂

Moves and grooves have been a little less intense recently because of my mild bursitis, but I’m still doing some fun HIIT with lower impact exercises. I miss all the walking I normally do around town, but now I get to focus on stretching, which I have not been doing enough this whole semester. I’m paying for it now.

Hope you all have a great start to the week! I thank God for you ♥︎

So tell me:

Your three favorite things about this Thanksgiving weekend if you celebrated!

Do you like Medjool dates? 

One thing you’re excited for today. Less than three weeks before we go back to the States, WHAT!? (Not that I haven’t been loving it here, but I’m excited to go home too.)

New Things in the New Year

Greetings from New York! Let’s talk about some new things that I’ve already experienced in this new year! (Has the word “new” lost its meaning yet? If not, it will after you finish reading this post.)

Our last day of 2015 and first day of 2016 was spent with family, friends, and food. Classic. December 31st included sore muscles in new places that have never really been sore before (maybe my subscapularis?. It also included a delicious Vietnamese lunch with my cousins.

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grilled chicken and shrimp vermicelli bowl at Saigon Star (one of our faves)

We counted down to the New Year with our other cousin’s family and all their cool kung fu friends. I helped out by cooking some rosemary roasted potatoes and a garden salad, and I got a new compliment from my little cousin: “These are the best potatoes ever!” I might never hear that again. #cherish

Also, check out this beautiful appetizer spread by my aunt!

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Do not be deceived. I ate this and much more.

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Camping out by the snacks. She’s my mini-me.

Dessert was mochi ice cream and freshly baked {Pillsbury} chocolate chip cookies. Perfection, I say.

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We learned some new moves and grooves with Just Dance on the wii. My mom filmed Ben and me dancing to “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga. I was doing the dance a lot better in my head.

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when around kung fu masters, you do active things always

When it came time to count down the last seconds until 2016, we poured some bubbly and watched the live Times Square ball drop on TV. It was great, except the TV kept freezing up, and of course it froze on the last 5 seconds of the countdown.

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“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, fi- NOOOOOOO!”

Nevertheless, 2016 was still there and we all had a fun time celebrating.

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reppin’ my classiest wardrobe selection

On New Year’s Day, I got up early to try a new fitness class — the ever famous BodyPump! Now let me make this clear: I only tried this early (9:30AM lol) class on New Year’s because a) it was free with a gym trial pass; b) I don’t have BodyPump close to home; c) my cousin Liz came with me.

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Verdict? I enjoyed it! It could have been more challenging, but that’s because Liz and I stuck with lighter weights since it was our first time. I would do BodyPump (or other Les Mills classes) again, but I don’t know if I would actively seek it out.

Later that day, I watched a new movie. Guess which one.

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Star Warzzzzzz! I’ve never seen any other Star Wars movies, but I didn’t find it too difficult to follow the plot, and I actually loved the movie! BB8 (pictured above) is my favorite.

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Ate a banana from home and a whole small bag of popcorn.

My family and I departed Canada on Saturday, Subway sandwiches in tow. Thankfully, the drive was safe and pretty swift.

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road trip snacks!

Before hitting the road, I did this quick leg circuit. After the long trip, I was missing Just Dance with my cousin, so I did a random Shaun T dance DVD in the basement.

Yesterday involved Mass, buying new textbooks for the semester, Korean food, another new movie, errands, and a short workout.

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beloved Korean side dishes

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chicken bibimbap shared with Madre

After Mass and lunch, Pop and I watched the new film Brooklyn in theaters. We both loved it! It’s pretty much a rom com, but more old-timey (it takes place during the 1940s era of immigration in America).

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Highly recommend if you are up for a sweet, feel-good movie that’s not too intense.

And here we are at Monday. Best of luck to all those heading back to school or work!

……..I have two more weeks until I go back to school sorrysorrysorry.

May the force be with you.

So tell me:

What did you do for New Year’s?

Have you done anything new yet in 2016?

Did you watch Star Wars or Brooklyn?

What is the best thing you ate this weekend? The bibimbap for me!

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.

Behind the Scenes #4: Christmas in NYC, Food Tour, and Game Night

Hi guys!

I hope you all had a joyful and blessed Christmas (or a lovely day off if you don’t celebrate)! My family and I certainly lived it up. Our celebrations have included a lot of these three things: laughter, prayer, and FOOD.

I know that a lot of people, including me, have post-Christmas blues, but the 12 days of Christmas have just started! Go buy your loved ones two turtle doves and partridge in a pear tree today. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding them, right? 😉 Plus, there’s still New Year’s to look forward to!

Well the last few days have been packed with fun, so I’m going to take you behind the scenes to check out the shenanigans (and my random thoughts about them)…

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Hooray for Amanda’s Thinking Out Loud link-up!

1. This year was our first Christmas in New York in about four or five years. We’ve been in either Canada or Florida for the past few years, so it is wonderful to be staying home with just the four of us this Christmas! I actually told my dad before we left for Canada, “I miss having Christmas at home in New York.” Well, I guess my wish came true! Just not quite in the way I would have expected…

2. Christmas at home meant an obligatory trip to NYC to take in the Christmas experience! We decided to go down on Christmas Eve to see the tree and do a little “food tour.” What is a food tour you may ask? You see, we went on this crazy food adventure with our family friends a few Thanksgivings ago, in which we just stopped by a bunch of restaurants (mostly dessert places) to try different things. I remember we ate at a Mongolian restaurant for dinner and then went to several places for dessert: a famous cheesecake place, Pinkberry, a chocolate cake place, and Rice to Riches (rice pudding). It’s excessive, spontaneous, and oh so fun to do once in a blue moon. We also just have a little bit at each place too, or else we would probably explode.

This year’s experience: (I’ll show you just what I ate. I’ll spare the extra pics of what everyone else ate!)

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Shared yen-ta-four soup with mom at Wondee Siam for lunch

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Rockefeller Tree!

[Insert down time at Barnes and Noble]

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Cereal milk soft serve at Momofuku Milk Bar— I had always wanted to try this place! The cereal milk tastes like what it’s called. It might be meh to some, but it was totally up my alley.

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Okay this is not mine. It’s Ben’s dessert at Ben Ash, which was a completely spontaneous drop-in. The biggest ($10!!!) piece of red velvet cheesecake EVER. I kept telling him not to finish it because I worried about his health. He didn’t 😉

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Visit to Times Square, since we’re too wimpy to go for New Year’s. In our defense, we like to be able to move around and go to the bathroom freely, thank you very much.

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Last stop of the night: the best Halal food in the city. We always go to the most popular location, which is at 53rd and 6th. There is always a super long line! I shared a chicken and rice plate with mom. Hit the spot like no other.

At least we were walking all day, right? 😉

3. My family didn’t really do formal gifts this year, but each one of us treated the family at one of the above restaurants. We also just counted any gift given in the month of December as a Christmas gift. Some may say that’s no fun, but it worked for us this year! I also made a card with coupons for my family:

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I do most of these things already, but the coupons will allow my family members to ask for the favors on demand. Uh oh.

And Ben made me this cute card:

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Lots of jokes in this card. Thanks, Penguino!

4. You’d think we would be tired of food by Christmas day…Nahhh. The second part of my gift was making lunch for the family after Mass:

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Baked French toast and a set up of all our leftovers to make brunch tacos

5. Catch Phrase is the best game ever. All four of us played it last night, and we totally got an ab workout from laughing so hard. Even though we only have the junior version, it’s still fun!

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An example of what was said:

Ben: “What is this? (does robot) Domo arigato.”

Dad: “Mozart!”

……No.

But he got it right after that. 😉

6. I’m currently playing Connect Four with Ben and I could not be worse at it. I just lost the first game in about 2 minutes.

Just kidding, I just won with FIVE in a row. BOOM.

…And I just won again! I don’t think I’ve ever won this many times in my life! Seriously.

7. I made granola bars randomly yesterday, following this recipe loosely. To be honest, I really just wanted to use up a some of my salted almond butter. It’s not that I don’t like it, but I just don’t enjoy it nearly as much as my other nut/seed butters. However, they certainly made these granola bars mighty tasty.

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8. I should really start my homework today. *dramatic sigh*

9. I think that’s enough from me. May your days be merry and bright, folks. You rock. ❤

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“And the Word was made flesh…”  —John 1:14

So tell me: What did you do for Christmas? What is one of your favorite things you gifted to someone else? Have you ever played Catch Phrase before?

Behind the Scenes #3: Feelin’ Festive

This week’s thoughts and random musings are being linked up to Amanda’s awesome Thinking Out Loud party!

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1. Christmas is in LESS THAN A WEEK. Last night I really got into the holiday spirit by celebrating National Bake Cookies Day for basically the whole evening. I was feelin’ some Christmas snickerdoodles (my favorite) and these Nutella cookies. I then proceeded to torture all my friends by posting a picture of the Nutella cookies on Instagram. Muahaha. I’ll be sharing them at school today though— I’m only a LITTLE bit mean. 😉

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Maybe the recipe meant 1 TSP of cinnamon instead of 1 TBSP? The cinnamon and colored sugar made for an interesting combo. They are tasty nevertheless.

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2. More Christmas awesomeness? These Christmas tree-shaped ravioli from Sam’s Club!

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Cuuuuuuuute. And delicious.

3. My family and I will be heading to Canada tomorrow to see all our relatives and friends for Christmas and New Year! Woot woot! I’m so excited. Not only do I love going to my other place of citizenship, but I also cannot wait to spend time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of my family!

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I still haven’t gone to where the moose are…I want to.

4. The only thing that stinks about leaving for Canada is that I’ll be missing our dance school’s holiday party this Saturday. It’s this cute and fun little gathering of all the dancers and their families to watch some lovely, short pieces choreographed by the dancers themselves and some crazy, cheesy dances created by company members (juniors do a dance for the seniors, and seniors do a dance for “little sisters”). Ohh well. You can’t be in two places at once.

5. I forgot how much I love applesauce. I mean, I haven’t really had much of it since my nugget years, but I could totally get into it again. I had to buy some to make monkey bread, but there was still a lot left over. What to do? Mix it with yogurt to make a concoction that my little cousin used to eat and call “yo-sauce.” I can see why the toddler enjoyed it so much.

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Basically, I like baby food.

6. I did not do any homework at home yesterday. Classes were especially laid-back, so I could finish a lot of my work. And when I got home, all I really had to do was bake up a storm! That’s what homework should be in my opinion— baking to soothe the soul (and the belly) and to put smiles on people’s faces.

Ha. Wish me luck as I try to argue that one with my teachers.

7. I made it into a couple colleges so far— Northeastern and Drexel! I was getting antsy since so many of my friends were getting into their early decision schools (they’re freakin’ amazing—Duke, Colby, Tufts, Cornell, SUNY Geneseo, Barnard, and Connecticut College are some of the places they’ll be going to!). I didn’t apply early decision (which is binding if you’re accepted) anywhere, just early action, so I really just wanted to get something. I would check my email like a mad woman. Sometimes, I would see an email from a college, get super excited, and then see Happy Holidays from ___ University! Stop playing with my emotions. -_- But now I am grateful that I can at least go somewhere now!

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I was this dramatic when my friends got in. 🙂

8. I’m kind of upset that I didn’t take the opportunity to go sledding with my brother at all this year. He’s home only for this semester since he’s working through his Co-op program (at Northeastern!), so he’ll be going back to school in the new year. I might just cry. No more British accents or game nights 😦

9. No matter how much I put on lotion (actually….I don’t put it on THAT often…but still often), the skin around my fingernails is perpetually dry and gross. I’ve had visions of myself just sitting with my fingers immersed in a jar of cocoa butter or coconut oil. Tell me that would magically penetrate into the depths of my dermis and make it soft forever? Because I would do it.

10. Eyyy I have a school concert tonight! For some reason I keep forgetting about it… Probably because I’ve had to learn all the songs after school since Chorus didn’t fit on my regular school day schedule. Well, it should be a good one anyway!

Have a great Thursday!

So tell me: Did you bake cookies yesterday? What is your favorite cookie? How do you deal with dry skin in the winter?