The Sunday summary

Funny to think I graduated college with the full intention of making a career out of writing, and now I don’t even update my blog or write in my journal regularly. But here I am, trying to get my creative voice going again after nearly a year. Another memorable year gone by.

We had a wedding party and purchased our first home, 2 things that were a long time in the making. I also embarked on a personal beauty quest. I didn’t really start wearing makeup until I was in my late 20s, and I’ve since gone from 0 to 60 in a very short time. Now I understand how makeup can be a form of self-expression and artistry, and I am all for it.

I have a busy month ahead, but an exciting one. Next week commences a painting project for our new apartment, which needs to be completed before we move in. I’ve always found moving to be super stressful, but it’ll be a good opportunity to toss and donate things we no longer use. It’s a fresh start, back in the borough we both grew up in. After a 3-year play date in the hipper part of Brooklyn, these Queens kids are glad to be going home. And then a week after we move into the new place, we’re jetting off to spend 2 weeks in the beautiful Aloha State!

Here are some photo highlights from all that’s happened between my last post and now. I hate playing catch-up, but this is as much for my friends and family, as it is for me. Someday I’ll look back and reread these posts, and be able to relive the things I saw and felt at this point of my life. From where I’m sitting right now, it’s looking pretty darn good.

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Wedding day. (Photo Credit: Bryan Sargent Photography)

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First dance. (Photo Credit: Bryan Sargent Photography)

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Perfect wedding venue for our day time wedding. (Photo Credit: Bryan Sargent Photograph)

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The autumn-themed cake, complete with a Lego topper I made myself. (Photo Credit: Bryan Sargent Photography)

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Simple vintage bride vibe. (Photo Credit: Bryan Sargent Photography)

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It’s official – we’re homeowners!

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The Tartelette matte eyeshadow palette I requested from my sis for Christmas. Just one of dozens of new beauty-full obsessions!

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Aloha, a word that means hello and goodbye

A week ago, I got off a plane after a visit to the beautiful Aloha State. I’ve been referring to this 8 night trip as a mini-moon, since Eric and I won’t be taking a honeymoon next year. We’re saving up for a wedding and our first home, so a lavish trip will just have to go on the back burner for now. This was my second trip to Hawaii, and Eric’s first. My dad and brothers live on Maui, and my sister lives on Oahu, so we spent an equal amount of time on each island. It was a blessing to pass the time with my husband, my father, and my siblings in this magical part of the world, now that we’re all part of the same family.

There are many places I haven’t seen, but I have a feeling Honolulu, located on the island of Oahu, will remain one of my all time favorite cities. I love that the amenities and conveniences of city life are set against an island backdrop. The weather’s perfect, and even when it rains, the sun still shines. A large concentration of Japanese people and culture means a good bowl of ramen is never far. The food…oh my goodness. We gorged ourselves on shave ice, loco moco, and poke bowls, which are appetizers of raw fish seasoned with sea salt, onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili pepper…pretty much diced up sashimi, and can be found in every single supermarket for as low as $10 a pound! There is a very noticeable push for eco-friendly practices, with ample recycling bins on streets and electric car charging stations in public and private parking lots. Even though it feels like a different country, as an American I don’t need to learn a new language, units of measurement, or currency exchange rate. Honolulu is my ideal city, but it’s an 11 hour flight from everything I know and everyone I love, so for now it remains my retreat from harsh New York winters.

 

Pork fried rice and loco moco, a Hawaiian rice plate topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy.

Eating brunch at Kihei Caffe: pork fried rice and loco moco, a Hawaiian rice plate topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy.

 

Shave ice made from real mango and guava purees from Your Kitchen in Holululu.

Shave ice topped with condensed milk, and real mango and guava purees from Your Kitchen in Holululu.

 

It’s true what they say about absence causing the heart to grow fonder. I miss my siblings and my dad. We’ve had our fair share of rough patches, but now I just wish we all lived on the same ocean. My ohana (the Hawaiian word for family) was so hospitable during our too-short stay. My dad opened up his home to us and provided for our every material need, and my sister spent all her days off doing touristy things with us. Mahalo, ohana!

The following are some snapshots from this long anticipated Hawaiian trip, my first vacation in 2 years. Even though we didn’t have a lot of time, we managed to see, taste, and do a lot of worthwhile things. If you’re ever lucky enough to make it over to Maui or Oahu, I’d be happy to make recommendations based on my own experiences. Enjoy the photos, even though I don’t think they captured nearly half the beauty (or love) we experienced.

 

A lookout point on the Road to Hana, in Maui.

A lookout point on the Road to Hana.

 

Swimming at a waterfall on the Road to Hana in Maui.

Swimming at a waterfall on the Road to Hana in Maui.

 

Cheesing with my brother, the fastest teen in Maui, at the 2014 Maui County Fair.

Cheesing with my brother, a.k.a. the fastest teenager on Maui, at the 2014 Maui County Fair.

 

At the Maui County Fair Parade with our littlest brother, who's now a Boy Scout.

At the Maui County Fair Parade with our littlest brother, who’s now a Boy Scout.

 

Hiking the Sliding Sands Trail on Haleakala, one of Maui's dormant volcanoes. My dad was our tour guide!

Hiking the Sliding Sands Trail on Haleakala, one of Maui’s dormant volcanoes. My dad was our tour guide!

 

On the summit of Haleakala, one of Maui's dormant volcanoes. At 10,023 feet above sea level, we're also above the clouds!

On the summit of Haleakala, one of Maui’s dormant volcanoes. At 10,023 feet above sea level, we’re above the clouds!

 

That time my dad climbed a wobbly tree growing over a rocky creek at Iao Valley State Park to pick a guava fruit which turned out to be sour.

 

That huge green mountain off in the distance is none other than the Iao Needle.

 

Taking surfing lessons at Haleiwa Beach on Oahu's North Shore.

Taking surfing lessons at Haleiwa Beach on Oahu’s North Shore.

 

We both managed to stand up on the boards! I'm the one on the left.

Both Eric and I managed to stand up on the boards! I’m the one on the left.

 

Doing the Ridge Trail Hike at Hanauma Bay on Oahu…in rubber slippers (the colloquial term for flip flops)! I forgot my trail shoes, but thankfully I didn’t get injured, and lived to tell the tale.

 

Breathtaking view from the Ridge Trail Hike overlooking Hanauma Bay in Oahu.

 

My sister and I getting swallowed by the ocean while attempting to snorkel in Oahu’s Hanauma Bay.

 

A handsome chimpanzee at the Honolulu Zoo.

The first 31 days of forever

A month after getting hitched, I’m writing to share the details of our intimate City Hall ceremony with the friends and family members who couldn’t be there. I’ll try to keep the lovey dovey mush to a minimum. Many people have asked how we’re adjusting to married life, but it doesn’t feel all that different from before. Which means we were already pretty dang happy.

I finally have my engagement ring and wedding band! Because our engagement was so short, and because it took us some time to find a suitable center stone for the ring, I got married with a simple hammered sterling silver band I’ve owned for years. I received my engagement ring and wedding band 2 1/2 weeks after tying the knot, but it was worth the wait. I’ve lusted after the Anna Sheffield Hazeline Solitaire for years, and now it’s sitting on my left ring finger, daintily embraced by the Anna Sheffield tiara band.

Leibish & Co. diamond set in an Anna Sheffield Hazeline ring, worn with rose gold tiara band.

Back to the events of exactly one month ago. On the morning of May 7th, Eric and I arrived in high spirits at the Manhattan Office of the City Clerk, where we had visited 3 weeks prior to apply for a marriage license. (Side note: though everyone refers to it as getting married at City Hall, all marriage ceremonies are performed in the Office of the City Clerk.) We invited Eric’s parents and my mother to join us at the ceremony as our witnesses and guests. We also called on Andy Filimon of Filimon Photography to help us create a visual memory of the occasion.

For the ceremony, I made my own bouquet with flowers from my local grocery store, which only cost $15. I chose pink mums and yellow roses, because yellow symbolizes friendship, and I was marrying my best friend, after all. Making the bouquet turned out to be pretty easy. You just (1) trim the stems and leaves to the desired length; (2) arrange the blooms; (3) continuously bind the stems together with green floral tape as you add more flowers; (4) wrap the stems with a piece of ribbon or tulle and secure with pearl-headed pins like those used for corsages. It wasn’t perfect, but I was quite proud of the finished product. Colorful and kind of kitschy, kind of like me.

My bouquet of pink mums, yellow roses, and white tulle.

My bouquet of pink mums, yellow roses, and white tulle.

Since it was a Wednesday morning, everything moved relatively quick. The whole process is reminiscent of a trip to the DMV, with better dressed patrons and less grumpy employees. It’s literally a walk-in wedding. No prior appointments are given, so on the day you wish to get married, you just walk in, take a ticket, and watch the board for your number. Our party waited for about an hour, trying to act natural as the photographer shadowed our every awkward move. I’m so glad we hired Andy though. I originally brushed off the idea of having our City Hall date photographed since this wasn’t THE wedding, but I ultimately decided it was a small price to pay for a memento of the day we all became family.

We waited for about an hour before our number was up. Once called, we stood in front of a podium as the officiant went through his little spiel. We went in as boyfriend and girlfriend, and out we walked 2 minutes later as man and wife. Our express wedding was a bit impersonal, so I’m going to enjoy planning a simple wedding for late 2015. After all this, we took photographs in and around the famed City Hall Park. It was a gorgeous day for being outdoors. My mom had insisted we select one of the “lucky” dates suggested by my aunt, who used mine and Eric’s birth years, coupled with the unerring wisdom of the Chinese calendar, to determine the best days to get hitched. I had no preference for a date, so I obliged, if only so I wouldn’t have to hear it for years to come! I scoff at these silly superstitions, but my mom was pretty smug when May 7th happened to be the only day out of that entire week it wasn’t pouring rain.

After looking back at the photographs from that day, I realized a few things: I wish I’d kept my arms more toned, had my dress altered for a better fit, and that I’d never chopped off my long locks in the first place! But all that becomes irrelevant when I look at the bigger picture. I’m so grateful for the things that matter – I’m happy, our families are happy, and I get to spend my life with the guy I’ve loved since we were 18. If the rest of our days could be as good as these first 31 have been,  I should never want for anything. As the hubby told me last night, “We’re not normal people. We’re rich – in love!”

I have the best mom a girl could ask for. I’m so glad she was there! (Photo credit: Andy Filimon)

Next in the marriage queue: ticket # C689. (Photo credit: Andy Filimon)

Next in the marriage queue: ticket # C689. (Photo credit: Andy Filimon)

The actual “getting married” part lasted all of 2 minutes! (Photo credit: Andy Filimon)

We got hitched at City Hall (sort of), and all we got was this piece of paper! (Photo credit: Andy Filimon)

From now on, we’re all going to be one big, happy family. (Photo credit: Andy Filimon)

Poor fool, he makes me laugh. (Photo credit: Andy Filimon)

The quintessential couple’s pic – we’re part of one family tree now! (Photo credit: Andy Filimon)

He always supports me, even when it feels like my world’s upside down. (Photo credit: Andy Filimon)

A final word from the fair maiden

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I chose to write today, for this is my last day as a “single lady.” Tomorrow, my guy and I are taking the subway over the Williamsburg Bridge to finally tie the knot after 8 years together. Long overdue, for sure, yet it still feels surreal. We’ve chosen to do it at this particular time for the very unromantic reason of spousal health insurance, but a wedding is happening…probably in a little over a year. We were very quiet about the engagement, only sharing the news with close friends and family. Writing about it on this blog won’t make a difference, since no one even reads it! But I still wanted to document this transition, because the next time I write, I will be a married woman.

I am planning a simple reception for 2015, so expect a lot of wedding-centric posts in the upcoming year. No bridezilla will you find here, though; just a girl who’s taking everything in stride. I started this blog as a girl who was aimlessly floating through her early 20s, and 3 years later, I feel like everything’s finally coming together. I’ve seen so much positive change over the past year: I got the job, the guy, and the ring I wanted. I may not be the richest, smartest, or most beautiful person out there, but it feels like I could compete for the title of luckiest girl, at least in my little corner of the universe.

Details and photos to come on my City Hall nuptials.

Short hair, don’t care…sort of

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A lot’s happened over the last year, so I’ll keep it short and sweet: it was time for a new ‘do, so hacked off my long locks I did. And I don’t regret it, not even when I wake up and my hair legitimately looks like something from Medusa’s head. Lesson learned: strands this short require even more maintenance than long hair. Time to grow it all back, though I have worn my hair in a chin-length bob in the past and loved it. However, my 20s are more than halfway over, and I want to enjoy a long, luscious mane before my hair starts changing color. Only a handful of graying women can pull off the long hair look without it looking witchy, and truth be told, I don’t think I will be the exception.

Jumped out of a plane

My cousin wanted to go skydiving for her bachelorette party in March, so that’s what we did. I’d always planned to make the jump at some point, so this was a good reason to go sooner rather than later. I was pretty psyched up until we got to the dive site and started signing all the waivers. I know the company is just trying to protect itself, but it doesn’t help anyone’s nerves when the first thing the guy in the instructional video says is, “Skydiving is a dangerous sport. You could suffer serious injury, or even die.” The first line of the document in my hand also read, “1 in every 20,000 skydiving jumps results in death.”

Looking down from the plane and realizing just how high we were, I almost changed my mind. But the cheapskate in me prevailed – I didn’t want to lose my deposit – and with a little coaxing from the instructor strapped to my back, I released my grip on the side of the plane and pushed off. The next five minutes were some of the most enthralling I’ve ever experienced. Numerous people told me there’s no stomach-dropping sensation in free fall, and they were absolutely right. You just feel weightless as you’re accelerating towards the earth, and you have to fight with the wind to keep your eyes open. The falling lasted for maybe 30 seconds, but that wasn’t the scary part. I was so relieved the parachute opened successfully, but being suspended in midair was excruciating. Objects on the ground were still tiny specks, and I couldn’t even make out which building was the skydive center. I was well aware I was strapped to someone, but didn’t completely trust the harness. All I could do was pray, squeeze the life out of the instructor’s legs, and try not to move too much. Felt amazing to finally touch solid ground.

I got a little lightheaded after learning two seasoned skydivers had a fatal accident the weekend after we jumped. And only six days ago, a dive ended tragically for an instructor who had completed over 9,000 jumps. Sometimes you forget how fragile life is; rest their souls and bless their families. As for me, I might consider doing it again if the occasion arises, but for now I’m just happy I jumped out of a plane and lived to tell the tale. That’s one thing I can check off my unofficial bucket list.

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