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!

nyc

Guess who woke up with a severe wine-headache this morning?

I suppose the days of being able to drink for an entire evening with 0 consequences have passed. However, I’m not even upset about the headache, because it just attests to the incredibly fun time I had last night.

After an entire day of doing stuff around the apartment (mostly cleaning, since I want the place to be spotless ahead of my friends’ arrival), I took the train into the city to meet up with my aunt, uncle, and some family from Sweden that happened to be there on vacation. I hadn’t seen this side of the family in FOREVER, and it we had such a nice time catching up and just chatting over lots and lots of good food and wine. There’s just something special about hanging out with family members (biological or not, who cares!), and I feel so lucky to have all these interesting and fun people in my family.

Walking around in the city is one of my all-time favorite things. The fast pace, the people watching, the tall buildings; overall, the atmosphere of a big city really invigorates me. Days like these make me wish I lived in the city, and just commuted to school whenever I had to. But then again, considering my budget, living in New York would likely mean living in a cockroach-ridden, closet-sized apartment far out in one of the boroughs with 5 other people… So, there’s that. For now, at least, I’m happy in my apartment and just being able to commute into the city whenever I feel like it. Definitely planning on taking many more day trips like this during the summer!

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!

Monday

Talk about a long hiatus!

A few days ago, I sat down to go over things I wanted to accomplish this summer. I wrote down anything I could think of — from deadlines for my research projects, trips, and cleaning my apartment to getting into a solid exercise routine. And I wrote “start actively updating the blog again.” It’s honestly been incredibly hard to remind myself to keep writing, especially those times that I just don’t feel like I have anything interesting to say. Which has turned out to be most of the time… haha. But I’m going to overcome that and make a legitimate attempt at doing this, for real!

Picking up writing again is convenient for me now that summer has started, and mine is looking pretty dull. Quiet, at least. Besides some really exciting happenings in June (my friends from Sweden visiting and then travelling home to Sweden for a week!), my summer will be spent not doing much besides working my part-time job and doing research for my master’s thesis project. So I expect July and August to be filled with much time to do things for myself, which actually feels quite nice.

So much has happened since I started “forgetting” to blog about 8 months ago — innumerous papers written, several great trips taken, lots of delicious food cooked, and some exciting edits made to my apartment decor. I can’t wait to write more about it all in the next posts!


Update

Long time no see!

It’s definitely been a while since I updated the blog and posted anything. Truth is I’ve been exhausted. After coming back from L.A. two weeks ago, I didn’t really get any solid amount of rest for a long time; I was thrown right back into school and work, had my first big assignment coming up that I needed to work on, and the days felt like they weren’t long enough for me to keep up with everything (let alone have time to unpack my bag from the California trip…).

That Friday, I decided to visit my grandparents for the weekend and drove up to South Salem right after I finished work. It wasn’t too bad of a drive, but my poor baby blue car was almost mauled to death several times by big trucks on the way there. Typical New Jersey traffic. Once my grandma and I had finished dinner that evening, I was so incredibly tired but SO happy I was there and got to spend time with them for the weekend.

It turned out to be a more eventful weekend than I was expecting: the day on Saturday was spent on a long tour of historic mansions along the Hudson River, followed by a nice dinner gathering, and then we went out shopping and had brunch on Sunday before I headed back to NJ. All in all, it was absolutely lovely! But I definitely returned even more tired when I came back to New Brunswick on Sunday night.

This past weekend, however, I had no plans at all. I finally got to sleep in!!! It felt so nice to just relax, get some exercise and studying done, and watch a whole bunch of trashy TV (like, a lot). Coming into this week, I definitely feel more relaxed and energized and back on track. Can’t wait to see what the coming week will hold!

 

NJ to LA

I always used to laugh when my parents would call me a “jet setter” or “globe trotter” any time I went on a trip or went back and forth between school and Sweden. It seemed like such an exaggeration, because I figured I travel just as much as anyone else I know (at least as much as my friends in Sweden, who seem to be going places all the time). But I will admit that what I did this weekend — flying to Los Angeles from Newark for a long weekend — is definitely worthy of being put in that category. It felt like such a cool, luxurious trip to make, and I’m so grateful I got the chance to do it!

So on Thursday night last week, we took off to Newark Airport to catch the 10PM flight to LA. Being used to long flights and dealing with time differences, the flight wasn’t too bad for me but I was definitely exhausted once we arrived at the hotel at about 2AM. The hotel, where the whole weekend was spent and all the wedding festivities were held, was fantastic; a fancy, industrial-chic, modern hotel in the middle of LA’s Korea Town with a refreshing pool area and a café serving the most delicious matcha lattes (my new favorite hehe).

The wedding part of the weekend was incredible. Between dressing up, having cocktails, eating good food, and celebrating, what really struck me was the intense displays of love and warm sentiments that are (sadly) really not expressed in day-to-day life. Maybe it’s because I was just a child at the last wedding I went to (looking SO CUTE in my bridesmaid’s gown) and couldn’t really reflect on these things then, but I was so moved by the wedding ceremony and the reception that followed even though I hardly knew any of these people (I met the bride merely hours before the wedding ceremony). But it’s not really about necessarily knowing the people, is it? Regardless, seeing anyone proclaim their love to someone in front of all of their family and friends is incredibly impactful. Gotta admit I shed a couple tears. Which probably looked weird to everyone else who was thinking “Who is that girl, even? Why is she crying?”, but who cares.

In addition to attending all of the wedding festivities, we also got some free time to sightsee around LA, which I was really happy about. We walked around Korea Town, we took a bus tour around Beverly Hills and downtown LA (which made me 50% jealous of all of the ridiculously wealthy celebrities and 50% appalled that people live like that when there’s so much poverty in the world), visited the Getty Museum, and took a short trip to Venice Beach where I got to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean.

All in all, it was the most amazing weekend (not counting the red-eye back to NJ and going straight from the flight to work on Monday morning). I definitely want to go back to California to spend more time there soon!!!