#thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I can safely say that with absolutely no hesitation. This year was one of the most memorable to date because our family was lucky enough to be able to spend the long weekend with 10 of our nearest and dearest family members. Both my grandmothers were here staying with us along with my aunt and uncle, their two kids, and each of their significant others. On top of that, our cousins from my dad's side of the family were with us too. It was so special to me because both sets of cousins (from each side of the family) are the ones I spent the majority of my childhood with. We would count down to family trips to hang out with our cousins from months ahead. To be able to have all of us under one roof was the biggest blessing.

What I'm most proud of though is the fact that this year yours truly cooked and baked EVERY dish (except the turkey). I look back now and can't believe it all worked out but I had the luxury of being home all of Wednesday before Thanksgiving so I started around 7am and worked through the night. Sadly I guess we were too excited to eat the food instead of take photos of it first (shocking, I know)... So I only have photos of our set up and my ham! But for those who care here's our menu -- all of which I made from scratch:

- Honey/pineapple/mustard glazed spiraled ham

- sweet potato and yam drizzled with balsamic brown buttered honey

- green bean casserole

- garlic Rosemary mashed potatoes

- lemon-zested cranberry sauce

- balsamic brown buttered gnocchi with andouille sausage and mushrooms

- peanut butter brownies

- spiced cardamom banana cake with mascarpone icing (our favorite of the night!)

I loved loved loved being in the kitchen and doing all the cooking this year. It's so rewarding when you see how much people enjoy what you've made and it makes all the hard work worth it. Given, I was about to drop afterwards... I give so much credit to my mom now; cooking is such hard work!

We thought long and hard about how to make our table settings as Pinterest-ing as possible. Thanks to my mom's creativity and some inspiration from her pins, we created table settings that we were super proud of. Yes, all those names were drawn by hand by me!!

See photos below :) I can't even express how thankful I am to have spent this weekend with family, it was so needed. I love those moments where you don't even bother looking at your phone all day because you're with the ones who matter most. What I would give for another evening dying of laughter playing charades with all of us around the fire.... Memories to last forever! <3




Today my cousin & I got super spontaneous and decided mid-day to head off for a beach day together. It was crazy that in mid-January, the weather was absolutely amazing! The sun was out, people were surfing on the waves, and we enjoyed sitting back, eating lunch together, overlooking the ocean. It was such a fun day and just allowed me to once again realize the power in spontaneity and being adventurous. Especially for us Californians, the beach is our backyard, yet I visit so seldom! The character of Capitola is absolutely precious -- every nook and cranny makes you feel like you're walking through a small European city. All mom& pop shops and natives! Of course my cousin is quite the up and coming photographer, so I had a ton of fun being her model for the day ;) All photo cred goes to : Sanna Nour Photography! I'm loving the new perspective I've been living out the past few weeks. I'm doing all I can to better myself, be my own best friend, and just figure things out. It's tough in your early 20's (who knew!?), but I'm getting the hang of it and I'm so motivated with the growth that God is doing in me. In every aspect there's a new lesson He's been revealing to me and it's finally now (after years) that I'm looking to grasp these lessons with a grain of salt & humility. Change is good.... the best is yet to come!









wedding adventures

My holiday weekend was a whirlwind of events. Starting off where I left off in my last post, I was in the airport on Thanksgiving night about to board a flight for Michigan, to join my extended family for my cousin's wedding. I'm back home now and finally adjusted from the jet lag and ready to tell-all!

This past weekend was seriously one of the best times of my life. It's so funny how the little things end up mattering the most. Of course a wedding is nothing little -- but simply the notion of being amidst your entire extended family for three full days was something else. I tend to forget how priceless moments like that are. It was so fun because the entire wedding party, the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents; ALL of them, were in the same hotel. So the night before the wedding we had a huge suite where we had a little soiree for all the guests. It was perfect because so many family members from the bride and groom's side were meeting for the first time so it was a good mini ice breaker for everyone.

The funnest part for me was being able to take the elevator up and down at any hour and visit my uncle, visit my cousins, and just simply have all of us able to hang out all together for 3 full days. It's almost like when you go on a huge trip with a bunch of your family or close friends; you're together in a tight space for the full duration of the trip that once you get home you're stuck feeling a little lonely from missing them.

The wedding itself was breath taking to say the least. My cousin and aunt are masterminds at DIY and party planning and they executed one of the most creative and beautiful wedding ceremonies I have ever seen. It took place at the Detroit Institute of the Arts which is a museum, and so the wedding itself was amidst one of the exhibit halls.. It was almost like a rustic dungeon type of feel; very enchanting. I loved it.

This also marked the first time that I was a bridesmaid maid of honor! It was so fun and such a legit honor to be a part of my cousin's wedding. She and her husband only had 4 people in their bridal party; their brothers and their 2 cousins (me!) So it was truly an honor to be included above all their close friends and colleagues... I saw how much family means to them. Some of the highlights included helping my cousin as she was getting ready in the morning, taking photographs of her (which turned out amazing if I do say so myself), and catching the bouquet! It was such a touching moment for both me and for the bride. She said she felt like I was going to get it and inside of course I wanted it too! It seriously came right to me. It was so sweet seeing how happy our grandparents and moms were too. Such a memorable moment for me <3

Other than that, my biggest take away is just sitting back and reflecting on how important and irreplaceable family is. No matter what. It's funny because my older cousin (the bride), and I have never been "the best of friends." She's 4 years older than me and her brother & I are the same age so it's always been us two who usually hang out more. But over this past weekend I saw how untouchable the bond is between cousins. Especially for us because I only have 4 first cousins, and the other two live in Iran. So these two are literally like my siblings. Being able to take part in her wedding and on her side for the entire thing was such an honor to me.

Included are some of my photographs for your viewing pleasure. Truly an amazing weekend spent with my family. I will never forget it!!

for blue skies

the skies in Hawaii are something else.. there is seriously nothing like the skies in Hawaii.. on my trip, the majority of my photos were of the clouds, skies, and trees. i'm usually one of those who is so focused on taking pictures of myself and friends, but on this trip i was so in awe of what was in front of me i couldn't help but try to capture it all. and let me tell you, the camera doesn't even do it justice.

there's something about looking up a sky for me. label it the escapist in me, but it gives me such a feeling of relief and "getaway" from what i'm dealing with. even if it's for a brisk moment... that moment is so worth it. it's funny that so many of us are in need of that escape.. why is that? #pondering