Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12 years

It's been 12 years to the day since my Grandma Estelle passed away. 12 years sounds hideously long. I feel like it's been forever and at the same time just yesterday. I miss her. It's still the only thing that can make me cry on cue. Anyway, I won't dwell because I hate this day each year and much prefer to celebrate her memory on her birthday in January so I'll just finish by sharing the speech I wrote and read at my wedding in August. After I read it, Sasha and I released two dozen monarch butterflies...each carrying a special wish just for her.

Miss you everyday, Grandma.


"My grandma Estelle always made sure that I understood that anything I dreamed was within my reach. If I wanted it, I could make it happen.

For as long as I can remember, she would tell me how she couldn’t wait to someday dance at my wedding. It’s a funny thing to remember, but that’s how often she said it. I don’t even really know why it was so important to her to do it, but I never questioned it until I started planning my wedding.

On this completely perfect day, the only dark spot is that she isn’t here. I spent so much time trying to think of ways to make her presence here felt. An impossible task in the physical sense since she’s been gone for more than ten years now, but once again, if I wish for something, I never stop thinking of ways to make my wish a reality. However, it started to really hurt that I couldn’t make this one wish of hers come true like she’d always tried to make mine.

As all of you who know me well know – I research EVERYTHING so eventually I found my answer. Though I’m not a magician and know that nothing will ever be as perfect as having her here in the flesh, I got as close as I could.

There is an ancient Native American legend that essentially says that if anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.

So while my grandma isn’t here physically, I’ve made sure that her wish is granted dozens of times over. So when you see a butterfly here today, know that she’s dancing."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dare I admit this?

I dare.

It's October 12, and yes, I am listening to Barry Manilow's new Christmas album while drinking tea and breathing in the aroma of my pumpkin spice candle.

Work just got that much better.

Happy Friday.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

a chair for jia joon

Recently Sasha and I were watching our favorite little person (aka Jia, our niece) for a day of zoo animals and froyo. On the way home, she came with us to drop some clothes off at the local Jewish Women's donation center. While we waited for Sash to drop off the bags, Jia and I wandered the aisles.

There wasn't too much of interest to me, but Jia felt otherwise when she spotted an Elmo doll on a faraway shelf and proceeded to scream out "Elmo" at the top of her lungs. Literally, I almost had a heart attack. Not one for letting small children touch "donated stuffed animals" (ew), I quickly changed directions. Jia soon spotted another item of interest.

An old, white, wooden child-size chair was tucked away in a corner. She screamed again in delight and quickly sat in it. I could see the happiness spread across her face as a result of finding something just her size. She was beyond excited and it made me laugh. Since the chair was wooden, and thus easily cleaned, I bought it. I figured it wouldn't be too tough to restore it to its glory days and give it a new life with a little girl who clearly thought it was awesome.

It sat in my living room for a couple of weeks while most of my free time went to the little event I'm planning (ie: our wedding) until this weekend when I decided it was time to fix it up.

Sash and I went to our local hardware store and selected the perfect shade of fuscia, which is basically Jia's signature color. Once I got home, we put a few nails in the wobbly seat and I started in on giving it about five heavy coats of semi-gloss paint. It took most of Saturday and then a little touch up on Sunday, but I think I successfully restored the little guy.

Before - not too bad, just a little shabby.

A little paint to spruce it up...

Final product with a little personalization to boot.

Judging by the screams and jumping up and down that came from our little Jia joon tonight, I'm pretty sure she remembered her chair. Seriously, you've never seen someone so ecstatic over a chair. Her excitement made all of the paint fumes I breathed in this weekend worth it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

if i was...

My best bud Emily posted this on her lovely blog the other day and I enjoyed reading it. I liked it because there are no explanations, just plain and simple answers. So, for no other reason than that, I'm taking a stab at it too.

If I was a month, I’d be November.
If I was a day of the week, I’d be Friday.
If I was a time of day, I’d be afternoon.
If I was a planet, I’d be Earth.

If I was a sea animal, I’d be a dolphin. 
If I was a direction, I'd be North.
If I was a piece of furniture, I'd be a window seat.
If I was a liquid, I’d be hot cuppa tea.
If I was a gemstone, I’d be a deep green emerald. 
If I was a tree, I’d be an apple tree.
If I was a tool, I’d be a ladder. For obvious reasons...
If I was a flower, I’d be a ranunculus.

If I was a type of weather, I’d be a crisp Fall day.
If I was a musical instrument, I’d be a piano.
If I was a color, I’d be an earthy green.
If I was an emotion, I’d be optimistic.
If I was a fruit, I’d be a tangerine.
If I was a sound, I’d be laughter.

If I was an element, I’d be earth.
If I was a car, I’d be all wheel drive.
If I was a food I would be grilled cheese on sourdough.
If I was a place, I’d be the steep cliffs along the Côte d'Azur.

If I was a material, I'd be spun from alpaca yarn.
If I was a taste, I'd be curious.
If I was a scent, I’d be citrus.

Monday, December 12, 2011

one more month!

So I have just one more month left in my 30s and while there are a couple of things on here that I know for a fact I'm not going to force myself to complete in time, it's definitely been successful where the "big" things are concerned. I also recognize that the things that may have gotten in my proverbial way were all welcome additions to my 29th year. That's just life and I like to roll with the punches. I still have some big plans for the next few weeks and some even bigger ones for my 30th year (stay tuned), but I have some definite updates to make to my list before I lose track...

1. Start taking an exercise class at least once a week
   - This one has definitely fluctuated, but I've been better than usual about at least getting myself to the gym.
2. Go on at least 2 hikes
    - I've gone on one official hike so yay me! I'll have to ask Bettina what that place was called. I think it was maybe in the Palisades? Regardless, it was certainly pretty!
3. Cook at least 3 different recipes from 3 different cultures...ideas welcome!
4. Work on my writing at least 4 days per month
    - Another one that has simply not happened, but I have been working on it a little so we have improvement if nothing else...
5. Try at least 5 foods I've never tried before
   - 1. Fried green tomatoes (verdict: pretty good, but I mean, c'mon, it's fried.)
   - 2. Caviar (verdict: not as bad as I thought it would be...)
   - 3. Real Acai in Brazil - like a yogurty-sorbet-type thing eaten with bananas and granola. Super good!
   - 4. Pamonha - both sweet and savory types exist (I had both) and it's kind of like a corn pudding or polenta of sorts. It's cooked and served in a corn husk and it delicious!
   - 5. Caju - this one is strange and you can only get it in Brazil or countries where they grow cashews. It's the fruit that the cashew nut comes from and can't be imported in other countries due to its delicate exterior. I will say, not my favorite, but interesting.
6. Successfully plant a variety of veggies in my vegetable garden and reap the "fruits" of my labor...
   - This one is sort of a fail. I meant to plant some new ones this year, but just haven't gotten around to it. However, this random bell pepper plant that I gave up for dead last season, pulled through not being watered or even remotely taken care of and now has a large pepper growing on it! That is some serious determination to live. Either that or it's some freaky sub-species that subsists on smog and dust...maybe I should leave the little tyke alone and see what mutant form it takes on next...
7. Go Vegan for one week
   - DONE! This was a total success.
8. Eat at (at least) 10 new places in LA
   - 1. La Provence in Brentwood - love this place. An adorable French cafe with delicious brunch choices, but I even go just for their amazing lattes and macarons now.
   - 2. Bigg Chill - froyo place that always has a line out the door. Not good! I don't understand. Give me Pinkberry or Yogurtland anyday.
   - 3. Scoops - now this is what I'm talking about! An ice cream shop that sells amazing flavors - made fresh every day so you never know what you'll get. We've sampled quite a few now and they have all been delish! Not the cutest spot so I won't say go for the decor, but definitely worth stopping by for a yummy treat.
   - 4. Bouchon - now this is gooood eats. Sash took me here for our anniversary dinner and not only is this place beautiful, but the food is fantastic and the bread...oh the bread. I think they've since opened a bakery and I can hear it calling my name.
   - 5. Hokkaido - chain restaurant of Asian fusion in a buffet-style setting. Nothing overly fancy or fussy, but decent food. Good for big groups especially.
   - 6. BAD Sushi - ok, I agree. Who the heck puts "bad" in the name of any restaurant? I know, they're asking for a beating. And while their sushi isn't the best I've ever had or anything like that, it was definitely good nonetheless. 
   - 7. Soot Bul Gui Rim 2 - worst name ever right? Well, it is in Korean so it's not very catchy and easy to remember for those with American vocabularies. That being said, the food was pretty delish if you are the Korean BBQ fan...which I totally am.
   - 8. The Glendon - super close to my house so I can't believe it took me so long to get there, but of course, it took friends visiting and choosing to get me there. Anyway, nice ambiance, great brunch and hello sweet potato tater tots and bottomless mimosas!
   - 9.
   - 10.
9. Paint at least 2 paintings 
10. Visit at least 10 new cities
   - 1. Atlanta, Georgia
   - 2. Savannah, Georgia
   - 3. Charleston, South Carolina
   - 4. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
   - 5. Wilmington, North Carolina 
   - 6. Raleigh, North Carolina
   - 7. Temecula, California
   - 8. Pala, California
   - 9. San Diego, California (can you believe that I don't think I'd ever been here before??!)
   - 10. Goiania, Brazil
11. Try acupuncture as a remedy for my allergies and acid reflux in hopes that I can ditch the pills
   - Yup! I've gone to one appointment and have another coming up soon. Don't know if I can confirm it yet, but I went in for the first one during a particularly painful bout of acid stomach and by the end of the hour long appointment, I was feeling much better. Oddly, the acupuncturist said that the areas to treat allergies and acid reflux are quite similar. Coincidence?
    - Update: have since gone again and found it relaxing and overall helpful. Hopefully I'll someday be able to go a little more regularly to see if the results can be longer-lasting, but I definitely think there is something to be said for it.
12. Learn how to more professionally use my camera in manual mode
    - I've definitely had a little more practice, but I would like to still get better.
13. Study my family's genealogy and learn more about my own personal history
   - Yes. In a big way. This is probably a post of its own...
14. Study Farsi and learn a little more than food terms and good manners ;)
15. Send 15 hand-written cards/letters in the good, old-fashioned post
16. Visit some sort of farm (thinking maybe cherries) where I can pick my own fruit off the trees
   - Oddly, I did visit one (nearby a potential wedding venue), however, I forgot this was on my list and didn't pick anything! Shoot!
    - Not in the way I meant to, but I did go back to this farm to get our pumpkins this Halloween and they were grown right there in the patch. Probably a stretch, but hey. Still a farm. ;)
17. Watch the sun rise...honestly, I don't know the last time I saw one.
   - Have been up early enough to watch the sun rise three times already. I wouldn't say that it's a practice I like in general. ;)
18. Leave 10 anonymous "smiles" in 10 library books for future readers to find
19. Give five people one of my favorite books and tell them why I love it and why I hope they will too
20. Read at least 20 books in 2011
   1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
   2. The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
   3. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
   4. Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
   5. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
   7. Things I've Been Silent About by Azar Nafisi
   8. Bossypants by Tina Fey
   9. The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas
   10. Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden
   11. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
   12. The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace
   13. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
   14. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
   15. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
   16. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
   17. Ape House by Sara Gruen
   18. Incantation by Alice Hoffman
   19. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
   20. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
   21. Two Kisses for Maddy by Matthew Logelin
   23. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
   24. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
21. Refurbish an old piece of furniture and turn it in to something beautiful
22. Take the hundreds of printed recipes I have, organize them and create a cookbook with my favorites
23. Go on a hot air balloon ride
   - Oh did I ever! See the post entitled "engaged." ;)
24. Watch every movie that has won the Oscar for Best Picture
   - This is definitely taking more time than I thought, but I've made a dent.
25. Find a new way to store and organize all of my books so that they don't succeed in their plan to take over our house.
26. Go horseback riding
   - Yup and soooo fun! Definitely would love to go again.
27. Redecorate our bedroom
    - Still in MAJOR progress, but our lovely new bed just arrived last week! Yay!
28. Pay off any looming credit debts
   - Pretty good on this front and just hoping that wedding planning doesn't produce any new ones. :)
29. Go to the movies at a drive-in theater
30. Volunteer at least 50 hours in 2011
   - I need to count these up, but I am definitely much more than halfway there! I've volunteered on two school murals and continue to volunteer weekly at the elementary school with The Young Storytellers Foundation.
     - Update: Will do a bigger post on this, but I'm pretty sure I've succeeded on this front.
29 is turning out to be a pretty awesome year in life. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

will you be my...

With wedding planning in full swing, I am trying to keep everything as organized and drama-free as possible. My method for the past few months is to do a little something as often as possible so that I stay ahead of things and attempt to keep stress out of planning. I also want to keep things fun...otherwise, hello, what would be the point. We may as well elope and get it over with if the whole thing isn't fun.

Don't worry mom, not doing that.

Anyway, one of the big things we decided on in the beginning was our wedding party. We went back and forth on this quite a bit because we weren't exactly in agreement about the number of people. We both have a couple of siblings plus several amazingly close friends. We had to cut it off somewhere though otherwise we'd be left with everyone walking down the aisle and no one in the seats.

After figuring things out, I really wanted to ask everyone in a special way. Almost everyone lives in another city so asking in person was unlikely to ever happen and a phone call just seemed boring. I researched and while I found a couple of cute options, none struck a chord. Finally, I used my own idea and sent each of my girls this:

I sent them each a tank top package asking them to stand by my side. I was pretty happy with the outcome.

I wanted Sash to do something creative for his guys too, but the male species is a tad more difficult to impress...not many options that don't veer into the "lame" category. As a result, we were pretty happy when we found these cool cards online that we had personalized.

Fun and unique to let our friends and family know how excited we are to have them be part of our big day!