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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Summer Lovin’

I think every blogger has used this title at least once in their careers.

But that could be said for “Day in the Life,” “Recent Eats,” “Lately,” etc. etc. etc.

I’m calling this post “Summer Lovin'” because a) it’s summer; b) I went to my friends’ wedding this weekend!!

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This was my first friend wedding. All other weddings I’ve attended up until this weekend had been for aunts and uncles who seemed to be at a life stage that was eons away from where I was. But here we are kicking off the start to what I’m sure will be many friend weddings in these next few years.

I’m not complaining, because I LOVE WEDDINGS.

On Saturday, my friends Sean and Alicia entered into the beautiful sacrament of Holy Matrimony. I met Sean through the Catholic Center when I was a freshman and he was a senior, and he became one of my “older brothers” during my first year at BU.

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“Can I be obnoxious and ask for a selfie with you guys?”

Sean and Alicia are high school sweethearts (CUTE), and they continue to be a stunning couple. It was a privilege watching two holy people unify in love for the glory of God.

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Their beach-themed wedding reception was also wonderful. It was a blast being there with some other folks who met Sean through the Catholic Center.

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The speeches were short and sweet, the evening was gorgeous, the conversations were fun, the food was DELISH…

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h’ors d’oeuvres and beer at cocktail hour + fab sun-dried tomato bread and butter + bomb salad + delicious chicken with rice and veggies + a slice of vanilla with raspberry mousse cake (ok, two slices)

…and the dancing scene was ON POINT. The bride, groom and respective parties made some solid song requests. Wedding dancing is one of my favorite things in the world, especially with the right people.

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Congratulations again, Sean and Alicia! Thank you for allowing me to celebrate such a joyful occasion with you and your loved ones. I’m definitely in the top 10 people who were most excited about your wedding 😉

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I LOVE YOU GUYS. May God bless both of you as you start this beautiful journey together.

I pray for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. I hope you are all safe and well.

So tell me:

Do you like weddings?

Do you remember your first friend wedding?

WAS IT WILD (like, “everyone’s getting old ahhh” WILD)? What did you do this weekend?

 

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? 

Adventures in Portland and Seattle

These past few days have been, quintessentially, all about pray, eat, move, groove.

I have so much to share with you!

{Background: My family and I took a short trip to Seattle and Portland for a family friend’s wedding, so we did our best to explore the area, since we’ve never been to these northwestern states!}

Wednesday

4:30 AM wakeup for an early flight (that was completely on time, thanks be to God). I brought along a breakfast cookie with some milk for the ride to the airport.

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flight included airplane peanuts, watching 12 Years a Slave, and sleeping

I was the first one of my family to arrive in Seattle (we all took different flights), so I was on my own without a rental car for a few hours. First order of business was finding lunch. Might have gotten lost four to five times, but my legs didn’t mind the walking after a 6 hour flight.

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Hawaiian BBQ chicken was a good treasure after a long quest

8 minute abs in the teeny exercise room.

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We shared an amazing sushi dinner once the ‘rents arrived! God bless Pacific northwest seafood.

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everything was excellent except for the bottom right roll—it was basically dissolved in mayonnaise

While stopping by CVS to pick up a case of bottled water, I saw that this was on sale…

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…so, yeah. We’ll see if it can make it to 3 oz. by the time we fly back home this morning. (It didn’t, they threw it out.)

Ben flew in late Wednesday night!

Thursday

Off to Portland(ia)!

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but first, complimentary hotel breakfast a la Marriott

After 2.5 hours of driving, we arrived at a sweet Catholic sanctuary called The Grotto. Such a beautiful, hidden gem.

{pray…}

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We walked around for an hour or so, working up an appetite for lunch at one of the famous Food Truck “Pods” of Portland! This was the Tidbit Food Farm and Garden. 😀 <— literally my face the whole time.

{…eat…}

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“Sardou” savory waffle sandwich with eggs, steamed spinach, gouda, artichokes, and honey dijon

Phenomenal would be the word to describe this sandwich.

Ben and I walked approximately a mile to get our dessert at Blue Star Donuts, but we got distracted by the hypnotizing scent of waffle cones. The only solution is to give in. Let it happen.

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carrot cake (!!!!!!!!) ice cream in a waffle cone from Salt & Straw // blueberry bourbon basil + dulce de leche hazelnut donut from Blue Star Donuts

The ice cream was out of this world (um, huge chunks of carrot cake IN the ice cream), and the donuts were delicious, but I wouldn’t go back for more. I’m glad we got distracted by waffle cones.

Next stop was Multnomah Falls for breathtaking scenery and some hiking. The hike wasn’t extreme, but it definitely wasn’t a walk in the park. Sup, gravity.

{…move…}

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 Ben at the end of every panorama

 We feasted on seafood at Jake’s Famous Crawfish, but it was kind of disappointing. My crab cakes were mostly filler, and everything seemed overpriced.

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the most expensive mixed greens salad ever

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Ya win some, ya lose some. Still a fantastic day overall! Thanks, Portland ♥

Friday

Seeeeeeeattle!

As many of you said, there’s no way we could miss out on Pike Place Market. It was a fun atmosphere with some awesome shops and eateries.

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Enjoyed the chanting every time they threw a fish. Really enjoyed the fact that they threw fish, period.

Side note: If you go to Seattle, look up the best places to park beforehand. We encountered some headaches and ripoffs with parking.

The Great Wall of Saliva:

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the one time I forget to bring gum with me

Sightseeing in the PERFECT weather (the kind in which you could be outside in short or long sleeves and still be comfortable).

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Ben let me share a couple bites of his single fish taco from Pike Place Market. So fresh!

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Then we went on a cruise tour to learn all about this fine city. Eat from the water, be on the water.

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Followed by the best seafood lunch of my life at Elliott’s Oyster Bar. This totally made up for the lack of crab in my crab cakes the night before at Jake’s.

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grilled seafood salad *angels singing*

Ben and I walked around for a few more hours until we all met up for the wedding rehearsal dinner.

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the very first Starbucks, aka the seed of the greatest American addiction

You were charming, Seattle.

Saturday

Wedding day! Not mine.

Dad and I moved and grooved a little in the hotel fitness center after breakfast. Handstands and stretching for me!

Then we watched my lovely aunt tie the knot. I love weddings, ugh.

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My family broke off for a late lunch afterwards at a taco place. Hit the spot!

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Then we chilled out, went to Mass (to count for Sunday Mass), and then headed to the partayyy. Eating, dancing, and being merry.

{…groove!}

Did I mention that I LOVE WEDDINGS!?image

 Congratulations to the beautiful couple!

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Now I’m finishing typing this on my phone on the plane. I just hid my phone so the stewardess wouldn’t see. #rebel. (We’re still on the ground.)

This trip has been incredible, but I’m thankful mostly for the time I got to spend with my loved ones. The greasy food (and extra zits) were also worth it 😉

See you in New York!

So tell me:

Have you ever been to Portland?

Do you like weddings? Going to any soon?

What did you do this weekend?