Permission

On this Memorial Day, let us never forget those who served our nation for the sake of our freedom and safety.

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A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

– Joseph Campbell

How was the weekend!? Or how IS the weekend (for those who have today off!)?

This weekend (alright, this whole week), I’ve given myself permission to embrace this period of almost zero obligations. I had to get over the phase of discombobulation of having nothing to do, but it’s been a pleasant week of acclimating to living farther from campus and relaxing.

Friday

There have been some errands and work in there too (keeps me sane TBH), like on Friday. I gave a campus tour, since a lot of BU’s tour guides are out of town these next few weeks. In classic me fashion, I was running late and had to speed walk for 1 hour to make it right on time.

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Luckily it was a beautiful day for rush-walking + touring!

Afterwards, I gave myself permission to do a quick 16-minute workout, even though I had all the time in the world and all the gym space in the world (three cheers for the summer lull!).

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‘Twas a fun one! 4 rounds, 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest:

Then I nommed on the lunch I packed that morning (part of the reason I was running late). I gave myself permission to take my time to eat this. I’m sure some of you understand that weekday lunch is often more or less inhaled on many days.

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leftover peas and roasted broccoli + egg, avocado, pepper jack, sriracha sandwich + blackberries

I had big plans to get a lot Brideshead Revisited reading done for book club, but I got through thirteen pages before I gave myself permission to take a nap in the library’s armchair.

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never goes to the library during the school year // falls asleep in the library during the summer

Before going to the library, though, I tried being that person to read on the stationary bike at the gym, but doing that kinda nauseated me. That + gym music = entirely ineffective reading.

I was awoken by an announcement that the library was closing in an hour. Thankfully, my friend Ben welcomed me to hang out with him before dinner, because I was groggy and without anything to do (what a nice problem to have).

Lauren, Nico, Ben and I went to Shawarma King for dinner. I got the vegetarian combo plate, which had falafel, hummus, babaganoush (omg so good), stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, cucumber tomato salad, rice, and pita. HOT DANG. I finished 85% of it.

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Then we went to Athan’s Bakery for dessert! I got their pistachio gelato, which was the most sub-par gelato I’ve ever had, but it was still a delicious frozen treat.

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We finished the night watching the original Grease movie. It’s the best bad movie of all time.

Saturday

Overnight oats to start the morning!

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strawberry banana overnight oats topped with the last of my KIND peanut butter granola

This fueled another nice long walk towards campus…

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please interpret this art

…for another Saturday Spartan workout with Ben!

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Ben planned out this fun workout for us:

4 rounds:

  • run around baseball field
  • 15 triangle pushups (slightly inclined)
  • 2 flexed arm hang holds, any grip (15 seconds each or until failure ← definitely only held it for 5 seconds at some points)
  • 25 Roman chair leg lifts
  • 15 inverted rows
  • 10 step up hops each leg

Topped it off with 10 minutes of core work.

I packed a snacky lunch to eat between the workout and a meeting with my spiritual director (basically someone who teaches me how to better give God permission to speak to me through prayer and to work in my life — the most important permission I could ever give).

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rosemary Triscuits with pepperjack cheese + carrots with hummus

I gave myself permission to actually think about the taste of this snack (I guess people call it “mindful eating”), and it was 10x more satisfying than any other time I’ve eaten carrots and hummus/crackers and cheese.

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loads o’ popcorn

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I rushed through the popcorn and KIND bar, but they were still tasty.

I also gave myself permission to buy water from Starbucks for $0.27 because all the places where I usually fill up my water bottle on campus were closed.

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This was less about permission and more about a fundamental need for water. I am endlessly grateful for constant, easy access to clean drinking water.

After spiritual direction, I video chatted with my uncle, aunt and cousins for two hours. We had a beautiful conversation. Ugh, I love them. I got to spend most of the two hours outdoors before I had to charge my phone.

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The only downside was standing up and realizing that the bench I was sitting on gave me splinters all over my backside.

I picked up some groceries afterwards and gave myself permission to take an Uber back home instead of walking or taking the bus (the fact that an Uber was only $2.20 at the time was also a big factor).

Look what I found at the store!

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Burpee plants!

Back at home, I showered, warmed up some leftovers for dinner, and spent time with Christie’s boyfriend’s dog, Koga. I got a taste of the neediness that most dog owners talk about. It’s annoying in the most adorable way.

Sunday

I gave myself permission to SLEEP. IN. I slept until 9:40! I promised I’d make French toast for all of us in the morning though, so I quickly got to work on that.

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one whole wheat + one brioche topped with butter sautéed bananas, peanut butter, maple syrup, and slivered almonds + strawberries + glass o’ almond milk

Definitely taking full advantage of Christie’s pretty dishes and silverware for my food photos 🙂

I planned on running to the park ~4 miles away to meet my friends for a picnic in the afternoon, but my hip/quads/knee (!?) have been hurting these past few days, and running was a solid no-go yesterday. So I gave myself permission to pass on the picnic, walk home and do yoga instead.

The pain? Google says it could be some muscle tightness. Could be a labral tear. Hopefully not the latter.

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I forget what I did for the rest of the day, but in the evening I walked to campus for Mass, and my friend Evan kindly drove me home afterwards (God bless gentlemanly friends).

Chopped salad for dinner! (Read: Salad cut up with a pair of kitchen scissors.)

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spinach, feta, strawberries, avocado, sunflower seeds, and homemade honey mustard vinaigrette

Followed by dried figs with peanut butter and Greek yogurt. A classic.

Now I’m going to give myself permission to continue lying in bed and read Brideshead Revisited for real this time.

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday/Memorial Day!

Give God permission. — St. Teresa of Calcutta

So tell me:

Do you find it hard to give yourself permission to relax?

What is one thing you gave yourself permission to do this weekend?

Any good books you’re reading? 

 

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Last Undergraduate Days

Classes are OVER.

The title is correct— I’m done with undergraduate classes! But I’m not graduating yet. I’m in the 6-year physical therapy program, so now that we’re done with three years of our undergraduate classes, it’s time to move on to the graduate portion of the program for another three years (but we still walk with the Class of 2018).

Halfway done!!

Here are some scenes from my last undergraduate days, which look quite similar to some of my freshman days…

As I did freshman year, I am once again hoarding bananas from both the grocery store and the dining hall, so there are many frozen bananas and banana-pb breakfasts (surprise!). You’d think I lived through a banana famine in the past.

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plain Greek yogurt mixed with apple sauce (I have a big jar that needs to be used, so it’s going into everything), cinnamon, nutmeg, chia seeds, strawberries, banana, granola, pb

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strawberry banana overnight oats with granola and sunflower seed butter

This is me doing laundry when things are getting desperate (read: I have no more pants to wear and almost no underwear left). I don’t know if this is reminiscent of freshman year, but it seems like something a freshman would do. And apparently a junior.

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This is me taking my vitamins (basically candy, which is the only way I will take vitamins daily), opening up my laptop to do work, and then taking a nap instead.

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In this post from freshman year, I stated, “I still need naptime and snacktime, so I’m basically in preschool.” ← still true.

Snacktime in class, exhibit A:

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I’ve had many dining hall meals to use up these past couple of weeks, so it’s been fun feeling like freshman/sophomore me, going to the ol’ d-hall every day.

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The server gave me, like, three servings of barley on that plate, but I ate it all because I was so hungry. It was one of times when I could feeeeel the glucose nourishing my brain.

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Zoe put her cookies in there on purpose

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pepperjack mac and cheese!!!

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look at all our salads + mac and cheeses

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snickerdoodle cookie x2 because they were that good

I would say that the dining hall draws me to eat more desserts, but we all know that’s not true.

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a cup of two different kinds of gelato that I bought on sale before Easter 🙂

It’s been nice not having to buy as many groceries as the semester closes out and I have dining hall meals to use, but that means that when I do eat at the apartment, it’s usually eggs or canned fish of some sort.

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egg sandwich with sun-dried tomato butter

The weather has been very mild and quite nice recently. The trees are bloomin’ and beautiful!

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But just like freshman year around finals week, my allergies are up the wazoo! I can’t stop sneezing and crying.

Some days I go to the gym or work out outdoors, and other days, I take it back to dorm workouts on the mat. Like this 30 minute yoga from Fightmaster Yoga!

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Ya know how I don’t love running? Or at least how I always say I don’t love running? Well I’ve been running with my friends once or twice a week for these past few weeks, and I can dig it.

Convo with Sarah:

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Just like freshman year when I started running 4-5 miles for a few weeks randomly, even though I claimed to not like running. Well it had been over two years since I had run 5 miles, and I did just that with Sarah yesterday morning. ‘Twas glorious!

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perfect running weather

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I do like running. I do. I think I like it more now because I don’t pressure myself to hold a certain pace, I enjoy running with friends, and I play it by ear. If I wanna run, I will. If I don’t want to, I won’t. NOVEL CONCEPTS.

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We also discovered that we got matching blisters after our run.

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wimpy

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I thought it was necessary to show you all that we got a blister in the exact same spot on our feet (the spot is innervated by the medial plantar nerve in case you were wondering #GrossAnatomyStudyingALLTHETIME).

And now I should continue studying. Blogging was a great break as always. My friends Domenica and Nico did Uptown Funk Zumba with me for 5 minutes just now too. Keeping life zesty.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend! Good luck to my fellow college students who are facing finals. Forge on!

p.s. I think I lost my early bird streak the night after I posted my last blog post lol.

So tell me:

Have you been running outside recently?

College friends: What’s life looking like for ya?

What is the best thing you’ve eaten this week? That mac and cheese wins.

Day in the Life {Second Semester Junior} 

I’ve attempted to write a day in the life post for this semester maybe three times already.

I’ll start taking photos of everything and making mental notes about what I’m doing throughout the day, but then it hits about 7pm, and I give up, either because I realize I have too much work to do or because I forgot to take pictures after breakfast.

I kicked those two gross anatomy exams to the curb on Tuesday, and now I feel like I can do anything with my life.

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shoutout to Janice for being the best study buddy ’til the wee hours in the morning

Duty still calls, but I at least I have a little more time to type up this day in the life!

Wednesday

7:00 AM — Alarm goes off. I immediately know I’m going to need a nap later in the day.

7:08 AM — Roll out of bed, go to the bathroom, brush teeth.

7:15 AM — Crawl back into my bed to do some reading for my “Religion, Health and Medicine” class (the reason I had to wake up earlier than I usually would on a Wednesday).

7:30 AM — Roll back out bed to pray and eat breakfast. I continue reading while eating this zesty jar of overnight oats.

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1/2 c. oats, 1 tsp. chia seeds, 1/4 c. greek yogurt, 1/2 c. milk, half banana, 1/3 of a champagne mango(!), pinch of salt, lime zest ➔ topped with salted cashews in the morning

8:00 AM — Go back into my warm bed to finish reading. Eventually decide that lying in bed is not conducive to reading something analytically/staying awake, so I drag my butt to my desk.

8:50 AM — Cut it close to start getting ready for dance.

9:05 AM — Leave for dance class in Cambridge. It’s snowing and I’m not lovin’ it (but it’s not icy, which is the important part).

9:35 AM — Arrive slightly late to dance, but class usually starts a little late, so I’m right on time! (Unfortunately, life doesn’t often work that way.)

11:10 AM — Dance class ends (my last one of this semester! ☹️). It was a great one! Walk back to my apartment.

11:40 AM — Arrive back at the crib and eat loads of kettle corn and a random piece of chicken. Check my email.

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needed some umami

12:10 PM — Walk to my religion and medicine class.

12:20 PM — In class today, we discuss how social context cannot be separated from mental diseases such as depression and anxiety. Mental illnesses may have specific biochemical bases, but that does not mean that we should treat them one specific way cross-culturally (via antidepressants, for example). Rather, sociocultural factors hold a great weight in the presentation of mental illness, so they should be considered and incorporated when treating patients.

INTERESTING.

1:35 PM — Class ends and I walk back to the apartment for lunch! Part 1 is the last of this tasty massaged kale salad I made on Monday.

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red kale with olive oil, lime juice, honey, salt, pepper

Part 2 was the classic avocado egg toast with sriracha. ♥︎

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(Interruption for avocado appreciation photo)

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what a beauty

Part 3 was a clementine.

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do clementines come from Connecticut?

Part 5 was a couple handfuls of pita chips to fill the tank.

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I read some blogs as I ate.

2:40 PM — Oof, I indulged in a nice long lunch hour. Clean up and get to some studying.

3:50 PM — Remember when I woke up and knew I would need a nap? That hour had come. I nap like a rock for 35 minutes.

4:25 PM — Alarm goes off and I don’t want to move. Lay in bed for a while, checking messages and probably Facebook.

4:50 PM — Get myself together and rush to Mass at the Catholic Center.

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But stop to take this photo. It looks gorgeous out, and it was, but it was also FREAKING COLD. The wind hurt.

5:02 PM — Sneak into Mass a little bit late, but very happy I made it.

5:25 PM — Chat with a few people in the Catholic Center. Eat a banana, some cashews, and a few honey wheat pretzels (the BEST pretzels!).

5:35 PM — Leave to catch the T to Cambridge (again), this time for a workout with InnerCity Weightlifting! Start typing this post on my phone on the commute.

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Christina (@foodietunes, Fit U ambassador, dietetics major, personal trainer, overall wonderful human) organized the event with ICW. Read her super cool post about ICW here.

InnerCity Weightlifting is a Boston organization that takes high-risk individuals – those who have been shot, done significant jail time, and/or grown up on a family income under $10k per year – and teaches them how to be personal trainers. They develop their students’ physical training skills as well as the social, academic, and networking support needed, which college students like us take for granted. In doing so, InnerCity Weightlifting makes a huge impact in the community they work with by decreasing street violence and creating a social change. In keeping their gym location a secret, they are able to provide a safe space for their students who have certain conflicts with others. – Christina for gofitu.com

How rad is that!? The trainers are ex-cons, which might seem sketchy, but it’s totally not. The guys who trained us are awesome dudes.

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6:32 PM — Arrive slightly late (theme of the day/my life), but they hadn’t started yet. Christina takes me to the fridge filled with Hint water and tells me to grab one. Don’t have to tell me twice!

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6:40 PM — We start with a dynamic warmup and then get into the workout. Our trainers took us through three circuits, three rounds each:

  • KB reverse lunges
  • pushups/negative pushups (← the negatives!!! holding at high plank, mid pushup, and chaturanga for 3-4 seconds each, repeat. HELLO.)
  • deadbugs (holding a resistance band on stretch, which made my arms shake, especially after the pushups)
  • KB deadlifts
  • single arm KB rows each arm
  • bear crawls (super slow, super controlled, with little sliders on our backs to prove our stability)
  • med ball slams
  • battle rope slams

The weighted parts were actually the easiest, because the weight and reps were relatively low, but all the bodyweight stuff was killer! Such a fun workout though!

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I wear those socks to dance to help with sliding on the floor, but I forgot to change into normal socks later, so this is what had to happen.

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thank you for this photo, Christina!

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7:30 PM — The workout ends, we learn more about ICW, they give us more Hint waters and KIND bars, and I walk back to the T station to head home. Type some more of this post.

8:15 PM — Arrive back home and cook up some veggies for dinner. I sauté some onions and lacinto kale (I have a lot of kale right now because it was on sale at Whole Foods) in mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper (← fave way to cook kale!).

8:35 PM — I had the veggies alongside leftover quinoa and chicken thighs with this Stubb’s rub.

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During dinner I read a couple more blogs, check Facebook, upload the day’s photos, and keep typing this post.

9:15 PM — Decide that I want a sweet snack, so I have some Greek yogurt with cinnamon and raisins. Some of my friends are baby barfing at this right now (#hatersgonnahate on raisins).

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10:25 PM — Somehow still typing this post? Wash up dishes, shower (I reeeeek), and do some more studying.

12:00 AM — Pray and hit the hay!

Hope you all have a fantastic Thursday!

ALSO fun news — my dear friend Emily from Beauty in Christ graciously invited me to be on her awesome podcast last week, so that episode is up now on her blog! Click here to check it out. And just read Emily’s blog/listen to her podcast in general. She is a breath of the freshest air.

So tell me:

One thing you are proud to have accomplished this week!

One thing you did and one thing you ate yesterday.

How do you like to cook kale (if you like kale)?

Do you like to take naps?

In and Out of Canada {Take 2}

Another year, another jaunt to Canada for the weekend.

Toronto, Canada. The land in which I undoubtedly consume an inordinate amount of carbohydrates and sodium. But goodness gracious, how can you say no to the fried rice and crispy noodles?

The food wasn’t nearly as important as the occasion and the company of course. My family took a little trek to Toronto this weekend to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th anniversary! How beautiful, eh? (← had to)

Friday

Early wakeup to leave the house at 6AM! I definitely should not have stayed up until midnight to watch gymnastics/procrastinated laundry the night before. But Simone and Aly were worth it.

Nectarine banana overnight oats as per travel tradition.

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I was also nearly half deaf on Friday because my right ear has issues (I was born with two ear holes instead of one in that ear), so I’m prone to infection and having too much stuff in my ear. One of the more gross facts that you didn’t need to know about me. But not being able to hear that well out of even one ear really made me appreciate the gift of hearing!

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some morning double rainbow action

Madre had been up in Toronto since Tuesday, since she was the executive party planner. Pop, Ben and I took Friday off of work to drive up, and it took wayyyy too long. A road trip that usually takes 9 hours took almost 12 hours. But we made it safe and sound, which matters most.

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Salad dipped in guac. All I can hear is Rachel saying to me, “Be better. Or at least be less weird.”

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so much of this

We rolled into our cousins’ place at around 6pm. We were staying with the fit family again 🙂 Obviously that meant doing handstands and cartwheels in the basement with my cousin Amy upon arrival.

My family took off again soon after for dinner with other relatives at Congee Queen.

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congee = rice porridge with lots of good stuff inside

Pro: it’s cheap, delicious food. Con: it’s cheap, delicious food.

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best fried rice ever with [fake] crab, roe, and eel!

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I am positive that I ate more at this dinner than I do at Thanksgiving.

Back at home, I showered, and my cousin and I stretched while watching the Olympics with our parents. Only at their house can I enjoy a big stretching mat and foam rollers in front of the television!

Saturday

I slept in until 8ish and headed to the basement to warmup and do Jen’s 1000 Rep Workout.

My legs were insanely tight from sitting all day Friday, so this workout was great for loosening them up, but I could feel that there was lots of lactic acid in my body (not soreness but all around fatigue/tightness/heaviness). All I wanted was to foam roll and drink water until the cows came home.

After showering (and getting my right ear to hear again!), I helped Amy make avocado egg toast for her and her dad. She saw on my blog that I ate it once 25793 times before and bought the ingredients to make it while I was visiting.

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I’m always a proponent of spreading the avo-egg toast love, and I’m happy that they love it!

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For myself, I ate some quick banana oatmeal with protein powder and almond butter.

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While Madre, Pop and Ben were setting up the hall for the anniversary party the next day, I got to hang out with Amy. We played “Just Dance” and a Mario Party “board game” on the Wii after breakfast.

Working out + Just Dance made me pretty hungry again in no time. I ate leftovers for lunch with my cousin’s family before they left for Kung Fu practice (NBD). As for me, I laid horizontally on their couch (I had a stomachache for a bit), foam rolled, and caught up on blogs and reading.

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I did some handstands too. Amy believed that I could do a one-armed handstand facing the wall (after seeing my failure last week), and I could! The power of encouragement, man.

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When my family got back home, we headed to 5pm Mass. This parish we visited had the most beautiful-sounding music ministry. I cried.

Then for my favorite meal of the trip at my favorite restaurant in Toronto— Ten Ren’s Tea House! Everything here is cooked with tea, and they obviously sell a million kinds of tea beverages.

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p.s. More often than not in Toronto, we share everything family style. #justAsianthings

I actually skipped a tea beverage this time because I wanted a tea dessert, and I’m not really a dessert-sharer, so…. I ordered a green tea soft serve in a waffle cone for myself, which was fantastic.

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I also had a couple bites of “brick toast” for the first time ever. It’s what it sounds like— toast the size of a brick that’s caramelized and topped with something yummy. Our table shared a sweet milk custard one and a peanut butter (!) one.

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We’re pretty sure it was natural peanut butter because LOOK AT THE WAY IT MELTS. It also wasn’t too sweet. The sweet milk custard one was even better though, honestly. Imagine creme brûlée on top of toast….Yeah.

I also had a few bites of this snow ice dessert.

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It’s shaved ice topped with coconut milk and four toppings. We got tapioca, taro, lychee jelly, and red beans. Tasty and refreshing!

I think the rest of the night involved more stretching and Just Dance. We didn’t throw knives this time around, darn it.

Sunday

The big day! My family headed to the hall to prep for the anniversary party all morning.

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Sidenote: I was tweezing my brows in the car (I was NOT driving) on the way to the hall, which I do not recommend for effectiveness, accuracy, or safety.

We did some rehearsing, some decorating, and LOTS of food scooping into trays. As we were transferring all the food (that Congee Queen catered) into smaller trays, all I could think was, “these noodles are perpetual…this fried rice could feed an army and a half…this is all the General Tso’s chicken in Canada.”

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Needless to say, many people had many meals to take home at the end of the party.

There were several heartfelt speeches, many songs, lots of laughs, a couple baby screams, and almost three hundred people celebrating my grandparents’ inspiring 50 years of marriage. I sang “La Vie en Rose” for them with my brother accompanying on the piano!

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DSC_2657Pop and his bros singing + Ben on the keys + pad thai 
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twins!

I wore spiky, pointy-toed heels for 3 minutes before calling it quits and switching to sandals.

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So many people worked very hard to plan, set up, and attend this celebration. Special shoutout to my mom and her family and friends, who were indispensable contributors to the setup and cleanup of the party. They’re amazing! Everyone on both sides of the family who helped and came out to the celebration are just remarkable.

Cheers to everyone and to my Mah Mah and Yeh Yeh!

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We were utterly exhausted after running around all day. To think that Pop, Ben and I had originally planned on driving home to New York overnight immediately after the party makes me want to die inside. Thank God we were all able to get Monday off work.

I did go on a walk with my cousin, aunt and uncle after dinner because the weather outside was perfect and the sky looked like cotton candy!

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homemade jello made by Amy, naturally sweetened with honey and lemon — so refreshing!

But after watching the 100m men’s track final at night, I went to bed at 10 and passed. out.

Monday

Pop took one of our cars to go back home early with his aunt, and the rest of us slept in a little bit before we hit the road with our other car. I ate some breakfast cookie dough cereal before saying goodbyes, and then we were off!

First though, some road trip snacks from the Asian supermarket.

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cart-basket contraption

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“meat floss” seems neither appealing nor helpful in any way

Lunch on the road:

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pork bun

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cold Taiwanese noodles

Also, we bought ketchup chips in unhealthy and healthier form.

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A Canada classic that makes ketchup lovers rejoice and ketchup haters question humanity.

The trip home was a lot better than the trip to Toronto, thankfully. We even got some good views of Niagara Falls at the border!

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Our last hurrah was dinner at a Japanese restaurant with my dad’s aunt. I shared an eel avocado roll with my mom and ordered steamed chicken and vegetables with brown rice for myself. I was honestly craving as little salt and oil as possible. I love those two things, but Toronto serves it on a whole ‘nother level.

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It was a fun mini vacation with my beloved family, but I’m excited to go back to work and not have as much acne on my face 😀

So tell me:

What did you do this weekend?

Have you ever tried brick toast or Taiwanese snow ice?

How has someone encouraged you recently? 

The Best Vacation Ever {Part 3}

Part 1 and Part 2!

Friday, July 8th

The first of two consecutive days at sea. The day consisted of eating (duh)…

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…walking around by myself…

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…relaxing…

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Christie and her dad got 1st and 2nd in the mini golf competition!

…the Men’s International Belly Flop Competition (as ridiculous and hilarious as it sounds), and some other random activities. But the highlight by far

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I MET US THE DUO.

If you don’t know about them, they’re a married couple who sing together, and they’re pretty famous. Daliza and I saw them in concert two years ago in Orlando!

Here’s how this went down:

I’m walking along the “Boardwalk” with my friend Monica and her parents. I catch Carissa (the girl pictured above) from the corner of my eye walking with her parents. I do a double take and see her famous tattoo on her arm, but I’m not 100% sure it’s her. Monica and her parents don’t know who Us the Duo is, but they encourage me to see if it’s really them (after 30 seconds of “ahhhhh I don’t know…it’s fine…I won’t go…but wait…”).

I decide to stalk Carissa for a minute, and in less than 10 seconds I see Michael (her husband with an unmistakable curly man bun) sitting at the tequila bar, ordering some daiquiris. I go in for the kill:

I’m so sorry to bother you, but are you Us the Duo? (I knew it was them for sure at that point, but I thought it was polite to ask anyway.)

They introduce themselves (as if I didn’t already know their names, haha) and we all hug. Carissa’s dad takes a couple photos for us, and my cheeks are TREMBLING as I smile for the photo. What I feel like:

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They ask for my name twice and say, “Hopefully we get to see you around the ship again!” I cry inside.

A quick couple small slices of pizza before a 2.5-hour show that afternoon.

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Now, it was not my intention to stalk Michael and Carissa (I’m a fangirl, but I try to be cool, ya know), but my parents coincidentally grabbed seats right next to Us the Duo and their families for the matinee showing of Mamma Mia! I came in late because I went to the bathroom, so when I saw that they were right there, I freaked out.

a) It’s Us the Duo again.

b) They definitely think I’m stalking them.

c) I had to squeeze past them in the aisle, probably smelling a little bit like sweat and ocean spray.

I got to chat with Carissa’s dad though, who said my parents are amazing dancers (he saw them at the club the night before lol).

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should have changed out of my athletic clothes // peep Michael and Carissa doing their social media celebrity thing

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nervously playing with my pinky ring

I have to take a second to thank Madre for loving taking photos as much as I do and thus for capturing these special moments.

Anyway, Mamma Mia! was Broadway quality and so fun to watch!

After a 16 minute workout at the fitness center, I showered for that time of day again…DINNER.

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Royal Seafood Salad for appetizer

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Thai Chicken

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Classic soufflé with vanilla Grand Marnier sauce

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shared a couple bites of Ben’s baked Alaska

I’m a new fan of soufflé! I think the table shared one order of prime rib that night as well. I had a couple bites, and it was divine. This vacation assured me that I’m not becoming a vegan anytime soon.

Later that night, we went to two game shows that were wildly entertaining. My parents turned into different people during those game shows.

At around 11pm, my parents headed to the Dazzles club for some more dancing, so Ben and I joined them. Guess who walked in on me while I was doing the Macarena with only one other little boy on the dance floor???

Us

the

Duo.

I kinda sorta danced the Electric Slide with them later. At the end of the night, my family got to meet them and chat with their family as well. Me all night in my head: “Is this real!?!?”
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Michael’s mom wanted to hop into the photo!

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“He dislocated his shoulder on the FlowRider.”

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Michael and Carissa are incredibly down to earth and easy to talk to! (p.s. they’re tight with Tori Kelly NBD.)

What a top-notch way to end a Friday, am I right?

Saturday, July 9th

Last day on the cruise 😦

I decided to go way out of my comfort zone for breakfast and get mostly savory foods, including something called “vegetable upma”— some sort of grain with vegetables and spices. I loved it!

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also pineapple + split a blueberry muffin with mom

I somehow got lost from everyone when we split ways after breakfast, so I spent some time planning out these blog posts and writing thank you letters to some of the crew members who served us the whole week. Eventually, I went to lunch and rock climbing with Monica and my uncle.

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Took some groovy photos with Mort the squirrel (“jungle rat/mouse lemur”) from the movie Madagascar.

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Over at the fitness center, I did an impromptu cardio workout on the bike for 30 minutes while Monica and Ben cheered me on. When they left, I stayed to do an upper body and core workout.

Our last dinner of the cruise was delightful and as epic as the first dinner we had on the cruise.

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scallops and chorizo

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roasted turkey with brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes apple bread dressing (!!!) and cranberry sauce added on the side later

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warm apple strudel a la mode

The night ended with a game show based on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, where Ben went up for only one round because neither he nor the audience knew the shape of a British twenty-pence coin.

(It’s a freaking heptagon, by the way.)

We stayed in the same venue afterwards to spectate some superstar karaoke. Holy talent on that ship!

And finally, dancing at Dazzles as our last huzzah! With our friends Us the Duo, of course (I promise we were there before they arrived…although I left and came back after Ben called me that they were there. I’m creepy, I get it).

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This was the singer at the Dazzles nightclub all week. She and her husband and their band are super talented! It was actually so sweet to see Michael and Carissa cheering them on from the dance floor like fans too.

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#UsTheFamily

I want to go to their Dublin show so badly this fall, but they’re sold out!

In case it wasn’t obvious, this cruise was the experience of a lifetime. Thank you to all who made it happen, especially my parents ♥︎

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Sunday, July 10th

We had our last breakfast on the cruise at 6 am before disembarking.

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My family went to Mass before we met up with our friends in Miami for some tourism and lunch.

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Miami Beach

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walking in 92 degrees at 10 AM should not happen more than once a year

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Farmers’ Market beauties

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a parking meter that accepts change for feeding people who are homeless!

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fresh rolls, lettuce wraps, and green papaya salad for lunch

Our families parted ways after lunch and a sweaty walk back to our cars. Four hours of driving later, dinner was Greek!

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falafel to share

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chicken salad for me

Ben and Jerry’s awaited us the freezer (you can’t out-dessert me).

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a few spoonfuls from each 🙂

Monday, July 11th

Pop and I had a 4:30 AM wakeup for our flight back to New York. Madre kindly dropped us off at the airport, where I had a salad with walnuts, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, and blue cheese for breakfast (my brain was not functioning quite right at that hour, and I really wanted veggies).

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In flight snack:

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I slept the whole flight, not surprisingly. Back at home in NY, I did a quick 12 minute workout before showering and heading to a full day of work!

Back to reality, and I cannot complain at all.


These were some looooooooong recap posts. I’m keeping these posts as my “vacation diary”, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading too!

So tell me:

Have you ever run into a celebrity unexpectedly?

Have you heard of Us the Duo?

Do you like soufflé?

Have you seen your parents become different people in a different setting?