Happy Thanksgiving!

img_5469How was your Thanksgiving? I’m still recovering from a food coma today. I had a great time with family friends, and someone brought the most adorable puppy (above) I’ve ever seen. We had fun taking way too many photos with it 🙂 Below are ten things I’m particularly grateful for this year:

  1. Family- not being with my immediate family this year made me extra appreciative and grateful for them.
  2. Sunshine- yesterday was the perfect weather, sunny and 75.
  3. Girlfriends- they are the sweetest.
  4. Delicious food
  5. Brothers- miss my brothers!
  6. Dessert- especially cranberry bars
  7. A home
  8. The opportunity to attend university
  9. Gracious hosts and hostesses
  10. Photography 🙂

To My Mother On Mother’s Day

21919_4865068426884_1815226297_n.jpgThe other day I ran into one of my neighbors from my childhood home. She asked about my family and how everyone was doing and when I mentioned my mother, she said, “Ah, I remember watching your mother sitting out on the cult de sac. She was holding a baby in her lap, reading a book, and making sure you and your brother were playing nicely all at the same time. She always remained so calm and collected, no matter what!”

This memory did not surprise me one bit. My mother has always been a calming presence everywhere she goes, yet still manages to get a million things done. She is the only one who can talk me down from whatever ledge I’ve worked myself onto that day, and knows me well enough to talk sense into my head when all sense is gone! She brings perspective, focus and energy to whatever she does, yet never overwhelms or calls attention to herself.

Once when I asked her how she does it all she said, “My highs aren’t too high and my lows aren’t too low.” She takes the middle road. Her mild disposition helps get her through the rocky times and brings stability to those in her life who tend towards the more dramatic (AKA myself). But she is also a great cheerleader when something wonderful happens, and knows how to throw a killer party!

This is her first Mother’s Day without her own mother, something that is utterly unimaginable to me. So I want to say it loud and clear while I still can– HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY MOM! You were made for this exhausting, all-consuming, often thankless job. I hope it has been rewarding and that we kids make you proud. You deserve to be celebrated every day.12036433_10207725380994838_1930396417096778528_n.jpg

A Christmas Quiz

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Happy “Christmas Eve” Eve! How are things friends? I am writing this from my couch at home while watching a movie marathon. Life is good. One of my favorite blogs Unlocking Kiki posted a little “Christmas Quiz” to give her readers a better idea of how she celebrates the season. I loved hearing about her thoughts and traditions in more detail, so I thought I’d do the same for you! Enjoy:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper is my preferred medium for gift concealment. I just love ripping it open layer by layer- the suspense adds to the surprise!

2. Real tree or artificial?
Real tree all the way baby. My family has never had an artificial tree, because no matter how practical they are, they just don’t smell the same!

3. When do you put up the tree?
Usually the week after Thanksgiving. I wasn’t able to help put it up this year because I was away at school 😦

4. When do you take the tree down?
Usually the day after Christmas! If we leave it up longer, it just reminds me that it’s not Christmas time anymore.

5. Favorite gift received as a child?
A Barbie dream house when I was eight or nine! I can still remember playing with it for hours on Christmas afternoon.

6. Hardest person to shop for?
My dad. I want his gift to be personal but also useful!

7. Easiest person to shop for?
My little brother. We have many several interests, so it’s not hard to think of something he’d enjoy.

8. Favorite Christmas film?
Elf. Always. Favorite quote: “I’m sorry I ruined your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR.”

9. Favorite Christmas food?
Potato pancakes, or Latkes. We eat them for breakfast on Christmas morning, and they are pure cheesy, fluffy goodness.

10. Colored or clear lights on the tree?
This year colored, last year clear. Just depends on our mood when we decorate!

11. Favorite Christmas song?
“Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Never gets old.

12. Travel at Christmas time or stay home?
Both are great, but I actually love to travel somewhere cold and snowy at Christmas time. Some years we go to Iowa or Nebraska to visit my dad’s extended family, and I always enjoy the cold weather!

13. Favorite Christmas cookie?
Peanut butter blossoms– peanut butter balls covered in sugar with a Hershey’s kiss stuck in the middle. They are holy, I tell you.

14. Favorite Christmas tradition?
Decorating the house, especially setting up the miniature Christmas village!

15. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Morning, for sure.

16. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
The crazy traffic in the area. I live near the airport, which makes it ten times worse.

17. What do you want for Christmas this year?
A polaroid camera!

Well friends, I hope you learned a little more about me and my Christmas traditions. What are a few of your Christmas traditions? I’d love to hear, and have a happy “Christmas Eve” Eve.

P.s. Photo from here.

Deck the Halls & Happy Weekend

IMG_2540Hello friends! How are you? I am finally home after a long semester, and man does it feel good. Home is always wonderful, but it’s even more so this time of year with all the festive decorations! I helped deck the halls a few weeks ago after Thanksgiving, but wasn’t around to help choose and decorate the tree. It was a fun surprise to walk in and see it twinkling, full to the brim with beautiful (and a few odd) ornaments! Below are a few pictures if you’d like to see:
IMG_2534IMG_2539^I miss playing piano when I’m away at school!IMG_2537^My great grandmothers nativity scene.IMG_2553^I picked this out for my mom at the Heidelberg Christmas market last year!IMG_2555IMG_2554IMG_2559IMG_2542^There she is.IMG_2543IMG_2544IMG_2546^Mine is the red one with the two angels because, you know, I’m an angel :pIMG_2550IMG_2547^Our snowman collection always lives on top of the mantel.IMG_2594IMG_2588IMG_2582IMG_2572IMG_2552IMG_2557^A lovely sunday school ornament featuring my little brother. Wasn’t he cute? What happened? ;pIMG_2567^Presents! Hopefully the big one’s for me.IMG_2608^Even our couch is red! We are always prepared for Christmas.

Tonight I am seeing Star Wars with a friend, so I am avoiding social media in fear of spoilers. What are you up to this weekend? Have a good one.

A Neurotic’s Guide to Small Talk

06loose-master675.jpgHave you seen this article from The New York Times.com? I first found it on the lifestyle blog Cup of Jo, and couldn’t help but laugh out loud. It is entitled “A Neurotic’s Guide to Small Talk” and serves as a “helpful” road map to navigating social interactions this holiday season. I really relate to the picture above, as I have a bad habit of going over everything I said during the day and mentally kicking myself for it! But I also relate to some of the following situations outlined in the article below:

Q: “Hey, how’s it going?”

In this instance, the speaker is somewhat interested in knowing how you are, but only the smallest details. Don’t over-share, but don’t under-share, either. Keep your answer succinct and stop doing that thing with your hands. Everyone is watching you do that thing with your hands and the longer you stand there, the more prominent the hand thing becomes.

Q: “Where do you work?”

Go to the bathroom. Now, now, now. This conversation has shifted dramatically, and you need to get out of there. Say something like, “Be right back,” or “Gotta go pee,” but don’t say it too loud, or too weird. Say it normal, for crying out loud. BE NORMAL.

Q: “How’s your family?”

Wait. Didn’t you see on Facebook that this guy’s parents recently split up? If you say your family’s “good” it’s almost like rubbing it in his face, like: “Look at my good family. I’m so lucky. No divorce for this guy.” Say your family is “fine,” but don’t smile while you say it, that way he knows that you sympathize, but you’re not trying to steal his sadness thunder. Also stop doing that thing with your hands, you literal monster.

Q: “Are you still living in Brooklyn?”

Leave this place. They know too much.


Please tell me I’m not the only one who relates to this?! Human to human interaction is hard. Especially after spending a year in Germany, where small talk is virtually nonexistent, my American small-talk skills are severely lacking. Sometimes I drink a lot of water before parties just to have an excuse to go to the bathroom multiple times for a much needed time out….introvert problems! If I had to add a few of my own scenarios to this article, they would be:

Q: (Person knocks on bathroom door) Hello?

You’ve been discovered. Don’t panic. Be COOL! How should I respond? Should I say “hello” back? Or maybe “I’m in here”? No, that sounds too conceited. They already know you’re in here stupid. Too much time has passed, now it’s awkward to respond, the window of opportunity has closed. Just wait it out silently…they’ll go away eventually, then you can sneak out and hide behind the appetizer buffet in hopes the person won’t see you.

Q: What’s new with you?

Do they really want to know? Didn’t they see your latest Fbook status about your grandma passing away? This is a trap. I repeat, a trap. They probably don’t really want to know, they’re just trying to be nice. Respond with a quick “Nothin’ much” and pose the same question back to them. Keep it casual. Well played, my friend, well played.

Q: You’re leaving the party so soon?

Busted…You’ve been caught. Come on man, you’re work is getting sloppy. You used to be able to exit a party early without a single person noticing. It’s your spiritual gift. Mumble an indecipherable response such as “I have work tomorrow” or “I’m not feeling too well” and flee. Don’t look back.

Question of the Day
Do you ever feel this way? Don’t get me wrong, I love people as much as anyone, but sometimes I just.can’t.function. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

A Nashville Thanksgiving


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Hello there friends! Long time, no blog. I’ve sunk deep into vacation mode and am having a hard time resurfacing. Anyone else feeling that way? Luckily, Christmas break is just three short weeks away. The only thing standing between me and lying on the couch eating peppermint bark is finals. There are some parts of college I won’t miss so much. But I digress…

Saturday the 21st, my family flew to Nashville for some much needed r&r with our extended family. Upon arrival, I was struck by the beauty of autumn. We were a few weeks too late to see the full foliage, as many of the leaves had already fallen, but I was  happy to see any color at all! This California girl misses the seasons. We spent the week playing tourist, eating loads of Turkey, and goofing around with our little cousins. They. Are. So. Cute. Keep reading for more details and pictures!

IMG_2199IMG_2215IMG_2172IMG_2197IMG_1468^This is the main street in the town of Franklin, about 30 minutes outside of Nashville. It is quintessential small town America. I could have spent all day wandering into the adorable little shops. If only my brothers felt the same.
IMG_1468^Franklin city hall! IMG_1491
^Our Airbnb in the neighborhood of 12 South, an up and coming area in Nashville. I took way too many photos of that tree…IMG_1585IMG_1542^Sunday night we went to Pinewood Social, a club with a restaurant, a pool, a cafe, a bowling alley and much more. Not gonna lie, I may have lost in bowling to my four year old cousin…IMG_1657IMG_1647IMG_1644^The three pictures above are taken in Hillsborough Village, a neighborhood in Nashville near Vanderbilt University. I love all the different pockets of the city, each with its own unique charm.IMG_1689IMG_1685IMG_1679IMG_1669^Next we toured the home of Barbara Mandrell, a famous country singer. It is the largest log-cabin home in the world and sits on 136 acres of forest. Countless country music stars have stayed there and left their mark. I got to play Miranda Lambert’s guitar!IMG_2083IMG_2033IMG_2025IMG_1951IMG_1994IMG_1909IMG_1908^Thanksgiving day was delicious. We started off the morning with the Boulevard Bolt, an annual 5 mile race through the historic neighborhood of Bellmeade, with proceeds going towards homelessness. I definitely walked the entire thing, but it still counts. Then we headed home to stuff ourselves with turkey and pie.IMG_2013^Cousins straight off the Mayflower.IMG_1875IMG_2243IMG_2180^Estelle was thrilled to have her photo taken.

IMG_2145IMG_2141IMG_2134^This red hair! My grandpa had red hair, so maybe that’s where it comes from.IMG_2186IMG_1844IMG_1814IMG_1639IMG_1635IMG_1632Thanks for the great memories Nashville, I’ll be sure to visit again soon!

Question of the Day
What did you do for Thanksgiving? And have you seen my video?

A Lovely Labor Day

IMG_9094Hello lovely readers, how are you on this fine Tuesday? I am both relaxed and melancholy. Why, you ask? Relaxed because I had a fun, rejuvenating Labor day weekend, but melancholy because this holiday marks the end of summer in my mind. And this summer was one for the books. Although the weather in Southern California doesn’t change more than a few degrees, and the trees generally keep their green leaves, fall is undeniably in the air. School is back in full swing and life is settling into a consistent routine. Life takes on a faster pace, and my to-do list grows longer with each passing day. But if summer never ended, it would loose it’s magic. So as sad as it is to say goodbye, it was a good kind of sadness. I know summer will visit these parts again before we know it!
Keep scrolling for a  few photos of our summer send off.IMG_9142IMG_9137
My little brother visited me at school for the weekend. We went to an outdoor church, drank delicious coffee, and watched the sunset at El Matador beach. The waves were threateningly large, so we opted to stay on the sand, but the sunset did not disappoint! IMG_9120
^Aren’t little brothers just the best? Most of the time anyways…:pIMG_9116IMG_9096
Monday afternoon we drove to a family friend’s house for our annual Labor Day BBQ! I adore traditions, and this one is no exception. I always look forward to hanging by the pool, playing card games, and eating unhealthy amounts of food.Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.09.59 AM.png
^My little brother took most of these photos- is he talented or what?Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.10.11 AM.png
And so, dear Summer, I bit you adieu! You’ve been good to me. Until next time.

P.s.
Below I’ve complied a few of my favorite posts I’ve written this summer, I hope you enjoy rereading them as much as I did. Have a wonderful (short) week friends.
A Happy List
Why Children Make The Best Teachers
The ABC’s Of Hildesheim
What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
A Happy (German) Birthday
Heidelberg Revisited
Amsterdam: A City Guide
Strawberry Picking
Aufwiedersehen Deutschland

Question of the Day
Do you have any Labor Day traditions?