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!

My best friend’s wedding

My bestie’s wedding was yesterday, and as maid of honor, I felt a lot of pressure for things to go smoothly. I’m taking some time now to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Everything went off without a hitch, the bride was radiant, and everyone (myself especially) had a blast. Now I can allot more time to think about my own upcoming wedding celebration. I’ve been to tons of weddings, but this was my first time being part of the bridal party. I got to see firsthand just how much work goes into planning such an event, but also tasted the sweetness that comes with its successful outcome.

In the early stages of wedding planning, my mom scolded me for considering a destination wedding. In typical mom fashion, she guilted me into getting her way. “At my age,” she said,  “there seem to be more reasons for grief than celebration. You attend more funerals than weddings. How can you take that away from your relatives?” After seeing my bestie burst into tears of joy multiple times in the presence of people who love her – and not feeling embarrassed about it at all – I think I get it now.

The following are photographs of the bridal shower, which took place a month ago, and some behind-the-scene moments from the Thai/Chinese/American-style wedding this past weekend.

 

#nedasbridalbash. (May 29, 2015)

 

The results of the “Kiss The Groom” game.

 

Bridesmaid Carrie serving sparkling apple cider for toasting.

Bridesmaid Carrie serves sparkling apple cider for toasting.

 

Neda and her mom cheesing it up at the photo wall.

Neda and her mom cheesing it up at the photo wall.

 

Photo board from the bridal shower.

Photo board from the bridal shower.

 

Getting ready for the big day. (June 20, 2015)

Getting ready for the big day. (June 20, 2015)

 

Under my umbrella (ella ella, eh eh eh eh, eh eh), at Gantry Plaza State Park.

 

At the famed Pepsi Cola sign in Long Island City.

At the famed Pepsi Cola sign in Long Island City.

 

Bridesmaid Carrie and myself hamming it up between takes.

Bridesmaid Carrie and myself hamming it up between takes.

 

Taking private photos in a public park is no easy task.

 

Adorable Totoro cake toppers made by our talented friend Candice!

 

Man and wife share a piece of the delicious wedding cake.

 

Photo booth pic of the bride + her maids.

 

Photo display of the bride and groom.

 

#nedahenryforever

 

Receiving blessings during the Thai ceremony portion of the wedding.

 

Bride and groom dressed in Thai wedding garb.

The groom and bride dressed in Thai wedding garb.

 

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.

O Canada! U R awesome!

Last week, I attended my high school gal pal Annie’s wedding, which took place in the Canadian province of Ontario. I planned to spend 3 days there, because it was the first trip I was taking in nearly 2 years, since starting my current job. Up until the last minute, I was convinced I’d be ordered to do mandatory overtime, but the admin office came through for me. I was so relieved; nothing could dampen my mood. I flew in on the day of the wedding in high spirits and went straight from the airport to the wedding. The venue, ceremony, and reception were all gorgeous, but all paled in comparison to the euphoric smiles worn by bride and groom.

The following are some snapshots of their special day, as well as a peek of other moments from my short but worthwhile trip. Toronto is a fantastic city (except for the part where everything costs a whopping additional 13% sales tax!), and even though the hubby couldn’t come with me this time, I had a blast third-wheeling it with one of my fave couples, C & J.

O Canada! Not my home or native land, but I can’t wait to return and visit your other amazing cities!

A picturesque wedding venue: Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Hall in Ajax, Ontario.

A picturesque wedding venue: Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Hall in Ajax, Ontario.

The new mister and missus.

The new mister and missus.

The couple's first dance as husband and wife.

The couple’s first dance as husband and wife.

This girl went stag, so of course she photobombed other couples.

This girl went stag, so of course she photobombed other couples.

Toronto's Old City Hall.

Toronto’s Old City Hall.

The Hogtown from Smoke’s Poutinerie has cheese curds, gravy, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and onions smothered over a bed of fries.

Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square.

Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square.

On the Canadian side of the world famous Niagara Falls.

On the Canadian side of the world famous Niagara Falls.

I never got the hype of Niagara Falls, but you have to see it to believe it.

I never got the hype of Niagara Falls, but you have to see it to believe it.

Thank goodness for the ponchos. They kept is from getting soaked by the Falls!

Thank goodness for the ponchos. They kept us from getting soaked by the Falls!

Simple things that make me ‘Happier’

I stumbled upon a new mobile app this week. “Happier” is a social media network that allows you to share moments that bring little bits of happiness. It’s a simple platform, kind of a crossbreed between Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You post text and photographs of otherwise mundane things that bring you joy, which others can add comments and smiles (the app’s equivalent of “likes”) to. The result is a collection of sweet little memories to look back on when you need a pick-me-up.

Undoubtedly, the best part is browsing through other users’ posts. Seeing pictures and reading about the things that give people pleasure is surprisingly satisfying. Buttery home baked pastries, impromptu beach strolls, sloppy puppy kisses – turns out these are universally beloved things. Who knew, huh?

One last thing: “Happier” is only available for download on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Sorry to disappoint anyone after all this cheerful talk, but you’ll have to take it up with the developers! 🙂

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Storm weather woes

Farewell, Hurricane Sandy! Peace out, brutal Nor’easter! I just got my power back this week after nine days without electricity, so I’m going to celebrate by writing a short post. I spent most of those nights playing board games by flashlight with my sister. Then a friend offered to host a “girls’ night in” at her place (which had full electricity, heat, and hot water) last Friday night, so we spent our time eating pizza, enjoying wine and cheese, and painting our nails. Just wanted to share a few snapshots from this week of bad weather.

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For a first-timer, my friend Jen did a pretty spectacular job of painting strawberries on my fingernails. She used a toothpick for the details, then painted on a matte top coat for a frosted, rather than shiny, look. Just in case anyone was contemplating inviting me to a lacquer party, I have over 70 bottles of nail polish. I kid you not.

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Wine and cheese, please! Pinot grigio, with a selection of cheeses: smoked brie, white cheddar, and Swiss.

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At home, first night of the blackout caused by Hurricane Sandy, playing the Game of LIFE with my sister by flashlight and lantern light.

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Snow at the beginning of November? *sigh* It’s going to be a long winter.

New season, new weddings to look forward to

Autumn isn’t officially here yet, but it certainly feels like it is! I attended my friend’s wedding this past weekend, on a particularly cool day. It was unlike any other wedding I’ve been to thus far. It took place in a little town upstate called Wallkill, two hours outside of New York City. This would have been my first time attending an outdoor ceremony, but it was a rainy day, so the ceremony was held in the reception area. I’ve never been to a wedding inside of a tent, but apparently celebrities do it all the time. It was beautiful, all white curtains and green grass. I love weddings, but most of all I like seeing personal touches the couple adds to make the occasion their own. I have two more weddings coming up in the next six months; really looking forward to them!

I had a really difficult time picking out something to wear. I don’t have very many special occasion dresses, and as it turns out, most of them are black! I decided to wear an old cotton dress that hasn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. In hindsight, maybe it was a bit casual, as it wrinkled way too easily. I didn’t even have an appropriate cardigan to wear over it, but on the way to the wedding we stopped at a supermarket to buy a drink/use the bathroom, and there happened to be a Marshall’s in the same shopping center. We went in and I found a sweater that not only kept me warm through the rest of the chilly evening, but is proper enough to be a special occasion staple for future events. Hooray for unexpected finds!

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The bride and groom exchanged their vows at an indoor/outdoor ceremony…in a tent!

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Wedding arch, string lights, sunflowers, candles, and interracial cake toppers.

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Speechless bubble hem dress, Monteau cardigan, Nine West faux python platform mary jane, Forever 21 bag and bracelet, Tiffany heart ribbon necklace, Maui Rainbow Jewelry glass earrings, No Name Sunglasses (which were photoshopped from a Google image because my eyes look crazy)