Monday, November 11, 2013

Today was a great day. Today, I did things that I loved doing.

I skyped with my family, dressed myself in Target sweatpants and a Lululemon top, read articles on the NY Times website to my heart's desire, learned new things online, brewed a fresh cup of coffee, heard exciting news from friends, prepared chicken tortilla soup from scratch, made pressed juice for breakfast, dreamed about the furniture (a blue velvet sofa! a rosewood dresser!) for our future apartment and scouted deals on Craigslist, studied new Chinese words and brushed up on my quantitative skills, and snuggled up in our couch/bed to catch up on Homeland and The Good Wife – all things that make me happy.

I'll be honest – I'm not where I thought I'd be at 26 as I imagined it would be like back in high school. But also, I'm not where I thought I'd be. For all my planning, I never could have predicted that I'd be in China of all places, or married, or living more of a freelance adventure than a climb up the career ladder. Somehow, I thought I could only be happy while on a tropical vacation or stressing out over an ambiguous project needing results fast (because weirdly, I thrive on that, too). When I step away from my day's activities as things to be checked off of my Todoist and view them more like things that I enjoy doing, I'm so much happier.

I want to stop apologizing for not having enough time, for not doing it all. I need to stop apologizing for recognizing the resource constraints that we all face. I'm not sorry that sometimes my priorities change and that instead of juggling yet another to-do, I choose to drop one, sometimes temporarily, sometimes forever. More fun means less list. When Dave gets home and asks me how my day went, I want to stop responding with, "Ugh, I haven't finished all of my to-dos yet." More often, I want to respond: Today was a great day. I did things that I love doing. And I'll be happier for it.

Layered Chicken Tortilla Soup

If you've ever had the chicken tortilla soup at Cafe Rio, you'll understand the magic of the layering. This is my take on the Cafe Rio fave...

[Wednesdays at Eight] Rachel from Through Painted Deserts

Thursday, September 12, 2013

[Honey-Bourbon Pulled Chicken from Healthy. Delicious.]

 I am thrilled about starting this new blog series, Wednesdays at Eight. I've been thinking a lot about what it means to build community around the table, about everyday meals and celebrating the ordinary. I've been thinking about all the planning and preparation that comes before making dinner and the unique routines that make those dinners possible. This is my take on Bon Appetit's My Morning Routine. Breakfast has its own rituals of morning coffee, reading, sometimes frantic preparation for the day. Dinner is different. Dinner is about winding down. It's about experiencing gratitude for the day. It's about relief after a day of work and about sharing experiences over a meal. A billion thanks to Rachel for kicking this series off! Here's a peek into her dinner routine...

planting seeds.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I'm discovering, as I become older and hopefully wiser, that there are themes that emerge for each figurative season in my life. Lately...

a week in paris (via my iphone).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

//Versailles by day, wedding by night//

//the clouds matched the garden!//
//the freshest produce at the Versailles market//
//my favorite garden in Versailles//

//a chocolate themed reunion brunch//
//the best place in the world to celebrate four years//
//bests and the newly engaged couple//

//my favorite view//
//buckets and buckets of peonies, my favorite//

//picnic part I on the Seine before picnic part II at the Eiffel Tower//

//ahh, Montmarte//
//piggy latte for breakfast//
I'm feeling nostalgic about Paris even though it's only been a couple months since I was there. It's the city of so many memories and emotions for me, sadness and heartbreak and beauty and love. Paris is the most beautiful place in the world to cry, and the most romantic place in the world to kiss. I would spend part of every summer in Paris if I could. Even though there is a big, wide world of places to visit, I'll never get tired of spending those long summer days in the city of lights.

lizzie's wedding.

Friday, August 30, 2013

//the girls, photo via Holl//

My childhood friend, Liz, got married a few weeks ago, and it was the most touching wedding I've attended, so intimate and personal. Dave and I had just returned home from Shanghai a few days before, so the timing was perfect. After a year abroad, there was nothing more beautiful to me than spending time in the California sunshine, celebrating love and reuniting with the girls I grew up with.

//lavender iced tea, loves, and sparklers//

The wedding took place at the Highland Springs Resort, which I didn't know anything about until Lizzie said that she was getting married there. We ended up spending our three year anniversary there, at the same time as their annual lavender festival. If you're in Southern California during that time, it's a must visit. The resort is a local gem - olive trees and lavender fields and rustic beauty all around.
//friends, laughter, and celebrating Lizzie and Matt//

I honestly believe that California is one of the most  beautiful places in the world to live. I loved soaking in everything that I had missed - friends, glorious sunsets, fresh outdoor air. They served breakfast for dinner, which was so cute and yummy. I'll take pancakes at any time of the day!
//stunning reception backdrop and sunset//
That night was one of those nights where I was so happy that everything felt surreal and perfect and just so much like home. That night to me was the best possible kind of summer night, all filled with sunlight and laughter and celebration and catching up on everything. I'm so glad to have been there. Life is beautiful!

a collection, no. 2

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WEAR: Zimmermann Celestial Floral-Print Underwired Swimsuit | I would wear this suit while lounging at the pool of my Montecito vacation home. Dreaming!
LOOK: Coastal Color painting by Teil Duncan | I'm loving the colors, the geometric strokes, and of course, the beach scene.
WORK: Flowers for 2014 calendar by Lucie Wallace | All of her paintings are beautiful, and you wouldn't have to choose with this calendar! // Takenaka Bento Box | Also known as the most stylish way to brown bag lunch. My recent stop in Japan has fueled my admiration for Japanese products.
READ: Where'd You Go, Bernardette | Great reviews + great cover art. // Why the Woman Who "Has it All" Doesn't Really Exist by Barnard President Debora L. Spar for Glamour // Meet my Mentor: Condoleezza Rice by Lila Barton on Levo League | Condoleezza Rice has been one of my role models since high school, and I loved learning more about her through this interview. My takeaway quotes: "Recognize that you have a long life ahead of you and things come in stages. You don't have to try to do everything at once." and "I never had long-term goals for my career. It was focusing on shorter and immediate goals."

four years.

Monday, July 22, 2013

//macarons from  Pierre Herme, recommended by my friend, Erica//
It's been over 2 weeks since we were in Paris! The time has been flying by! We didn't know if we would be able to make it to Paris for my former roommate's wedding, but the timing ended up being perfect with my teaching contract ending, my summer Chinese course yet to begin, and our wedding anniversary falling just a few days after the wedding. (It helped that we found unusually inexpensive tickets that we also got miles for). The last time I was in Paris, I stayed in the city for two weeks as part of a music-history travel study. I was lucky enough to get to travel around with one of my best girlfriends, but we spent a good part of the time talking about how we wished our new significant others could be in the city with us. Six years later, that dream came true.
//we had a blue theme going//
We started off the day at the Champs Elysee. We were planning on getting brunch at Laduree, but then we ended up stopping at Pierre Herme soooo... we had macarons for breakfast. We did a little shopping for friends, stopped at Notre Dame, ate yummy crepes (lemon sucre for me, nutella for Dave), and spent a little time at the Seine.
One of my favorites part of the day was putting a lock on the lock bridge. I know it won't be there forever, but it was still such a fun experience to remember the day by. Who knows? Maybe we'll get lucky and get to revisit Paris while the lock is still there.
//being silly// //locking it up//
We spent the afternoon at the Louvre, and I made Dave take a billion pictures of me with my favorite statue. If there's anything we've learned in four years of marriage, it's how to drive each other crazy! (just kidding, but really). And, of course, because in all honesty, this was my ONE must-do in Paris... we had steak frites for dinner. It was the best. Atmosphere, service, food, funny table neighbors - the best meal that we had in Paris. Dave even did a great job picking our wine (a 2007 Les Penitents Pinot Noir). Our dinner started at 8 and didn't end until 11. That's what I love most about Paris in the summer - long,  perfect days ending in long, leisurely meals at the most charming restaurants, with loved ones.
//dinner at Le Bistro Paul Bert//
I feel so blessed that we've been together for so long. I know we're still young, but it's still wild for me to think that we've been together for almost 1/4 of our lives, and four of those six years, we've been married. I've always wanted to travel around the world with my husband, and I'm thankful that, little by little, we're actually doing that. We're building a shared vision for our future and executing on it, and that's something that I'm so excited about. So, 4 years! Woohoo! Now I can say, we'll always have Paris.

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