Like Christmas Morning

It’s Sunday morning, which means only a few hours until my friends arrive!!!!! And I can’t wait!!!!

I kicked off this morning with a delicious breakfast (including my favorite mint & spinach smoothie) and a long FaceTime conversation with my mom. I just can’t believe that my friends are going to be here for a week, and then just two days after they leave, I’m off to Sweden. The prospect of doing so much packing and laundry and work before then is a little stressful to say the least, but it’ll be so worth it.

I have plenty of things on my to-do list today, not just in terms of prepping for my friends’ arrival but there’s also some work I have to get done for my research project (figured I better do it today since there’s no way I’ll be disciplined enough to do it at any point this coming week, haha). Then I have to prepare the vegetarian lasagna I’m making for dinner for all of us tonight, so that all that’s left to do once my friends get here is just to put it in the oven. At least now (after days of cleaning) I finally feel like my whole apartment is clean and in order!

Yesterday’s grocery shopping and the bouquet I put together.

I’ve been thinking a lot about where to take my friends and what to do, since only one of the four of them has ever been to the U.S. before. What should you really show someone, in a country that’s so huge and so diverse, in order for them to get an “accurate” and well-rounded impression of what it’s like here? Hopefully what we have planned will give them some sort of an idea. Tomorrow, we head off to the beach on LBI to stay there for two nights. Unfortunately, it looks like it’ll be rainy and cooler there, but I know we’ll have a nice time regardless. Then, towards the end of the week, we head off to NYC to see the city! There’s another day on our schedule that we have to fill with something, but I’m thinking it’s best to wait and see what the weather will be like and what my friends feel like doing before deciding on anything. Maybe a vineyard in South Jersey?

Anyway, now I have to run and make sure everything is done before their arrival this afternoon! Have a wonderful Sunday!

Finding Farmers’ Markets

Bonita Springs, FL

Travelling to Florida over my Spring Break was perfect. In so many ways. A well-needed break in the middle of the stressful school semester, well-needed time spent with family, and some well-needed sun. It was such a wonderful trip overall, so is it strange to say that one of the highlights was definitely visiting the farmers’ market?

Maybe visiting farmers’ markets is a pretty mundane, every-day thing for some people. But I’m not one of those lucky few. And maybe some people just don’t give a sh*t; but that’s not me either. So when my grandma mentioned a U-Pick farmers’ market only a short drive away from their house, I was immediately on board. The day was warm and a little overcast, but knowing my skin I still slathered on lots of sunscreen anyway, and we got in the car to drive over.

And I was in heaven.

What is it about picking your own strawberries straight off the plant, seeing fields of flowers grow, and feeling fresh, sunwarm vegetables? Is it the absence of the grocery store’s fluorescent lights that makes everything look better? Or is there something else to it?

I think the reason why I love farmers’ markets (to what is perhaps a ridiculous degree) is that it all just feels right, in a strange way. It feels right to support local farms and farmers. It feels right to engage with all these products we buy in a natural way — seeing how they grow, appreciating that they require work and patience to be harvested, and seeing the soil they grow out of. It’s just so different from the mass-produced, heaps of vegetables and fruits we’re used to seeing in the store, where we are so far removed from the process… I guess it’s kind of a grounding experience, in a way.

I left the farm ecstatic, and my sister and I had almost eaten all the strawberries we’d picked by the time we got home. Whoops.

But besides this short excursion, the entire trip was wonderful. Which is always the case when I travel to see family. So much laughter, good food, sunscreen, smiles, drinks — exactly what vacation should be like. I already can’t wait to go back; hopefully this winter/early spring next year!