muted baroque x classic romantic styled shoot

Crisp winter air. The perfect sunset. This shoot was an absolute dream. The vision was to create a modern baroque aesthetic with whimsical elements of a romantic wedding reception. Often times when we think "baroque," the words "gaudy" and "luxurious" come to mind. But I wanted to stay true to my personal style which is much more modern so I came up with a muted baroque aesthetic, if you will. You can see that present in the dessert options, created by the ever-talented La Vie Douce Designs, and the intricate wedding gown by Ju.Lee Collection. I absolutely loved how different the dress was from what we're used to seeing; the details are so beautiful.

I think the small details go a long way in setting yourself apart as a stylist / designer. I went with the vintage handkerchiefs instead of napkins to add some character & I loved that we were able to give so much life to the tabletop with something as simple as a blush pink. And those FLOWERS - Petal Atelier worked her magic as usual! 

One of my favorite elements that really inspired me from the beginning of the planning process was finding the vintage scale from the lovely Lost & Found Vintage's collection. We had this displayed on a side table during the reception as as symbol of the couple's love outweighing anything that life might throw at them. I chose to have the ring weighed down on the scale by rice, which has symbolized prosperity in weddings from the beginning of time.

It was so ethereal shooting at the SSS Ranch in Calistoga in the crisp winter air. The sun came out at the very end, making for some gorgeous candid moments for the couple on the Persian rug in the grass. Huge shout out to Michelle Chang for these amazing photos. See full vendor team below the gallery. 

Vendor Team

Planning/ Design: Naseem Events

Photography: Michelle Chang Photography

MUAH: Bun Bun Bridal Lab

Cake and desserts: La Vie Douce Design

Wedding dress: Ju.Lee Collection

Florals: Petal Atelier

Rentals: Lost and Found Vintage Rental

Calligraphy: Shasta Bell Calligraphy

Venue: Triple S Ranch

Ring: Susie Saltzman

Linens: The Linen Bar

Videography: Carisma Films

Ring box: Secret Keeper Box

botanical bliss // greenhouse styled shoot

There's something so calming about greenhouses. I always thought a wedding held within one would be so beautiful because the couple is coming together and growing into the next season of their lives, surrounded by botanical life which is constantly growing as well. It truly is love personified. And that's where this vision stemmed from - the venue! 

My vision with this styled shoot was creating an absolutely ethereal moment for the couple. I wanted to go with more neutral, earthy colors (deep reds, grey, lavender) that were more on the muted side so the true beauty of the venue itself (all that plant life!) could speak for itself. I didn't want to limit the scope of the concept by categorizing it under a specific season, but the colors and dress are definitely geared more towards the winter aesthetic. 

 I wanted to include some unique details, and one of my favorites was serving coffee in these vintage Turkish coffee cups and saucers that belonged to my great grandmother. That, paired with the romantic calligraphy decor incorporated really brought the entire look together. The entire day was simply magical. 

These stunning photos, both film and digital, are courtesy of my talented friend Yasmin Roohi Photography -- See our full vendor list under the gallery! 

Full vendor team: 
Styling/ Design/ Planning: Naseem Events
Photography: Yasmin Roohi Photography
Venue: Shelldance Orchid Gardens
Florals & Wreath: Petal Atelier
Rentals & linens: Chairs & Cups
Calligraphy: Danika.Ink
Makeup: Neda Abootorabi
Cake: JustBakeCause
Wedding dress, veil, accessories: Dean & Willow
Models: Sohrab Fatemi and Jessica Johnson 
Men's Suit and Shoes: Tuxedo Wearhouse
Hair: Nicole Jamora (One of a Kind Beauty)
Turkish Coffee Cups and Saucers: Naseem Events (personal collection) 

 

black & gold // maz's graduation party

Wedding planning for my other brides took a pause this last weekend as I shifted gears to plan one of my good friend's graduation parties from SCU Law :) It was so fun planning this because not only did I get to put my amateur design skills to use by making the menus, but I also pulled together some fun DIY projects with the candy bar, the favors, and the vases. One huge tip I shared on my Instagram the other day that I suggest for those planning events is to always look into the budget-friendly ways to make your party run smoother. For instance for this party, I bought some vases from my local dollar store and then spray painted them gold (easy Michael's run). Definitely helped to save a TON on all the vases by only getting them for $1 each. I used to look at dollar stores from the outside with such distain, but it's been such a pleasant surprise for me to see how they legitimately have everything you could ever want for such good prices. 

Best of all, I got to tag team with two dear friends in the creative sphere on this event. My bestie, Amanda Azarpour took all the photos and my other Amanda (Just Bakecause) baked the gorgeous cake and cupcakes. Check them out! Enjoy these photos and once again, I'm so proud of you Maz! Thank you for letting me create this event for you <3 

#vienna 

Last stop on the Euro adventure was Vienna. After our one day in Salzburg we took the night train to Vienna (only an hour!) and arrived just in time for dinner. Our stay in Vienna was super special because we stayed with my mom's best friend from junior high/ high school whom she hadn't seen in 26 YEARS! How crazy is that? I'm 26 right now so I can't imagine not having seen a friend for pretty much my entire lifespan. That's a long time. They had kept in touch of course, but this was such a special reunion for the both of them. Best of all, her friend had a daughter exactly my age so the four of us had the best time together. Highlights in Vienna included the amazing castles (and the stories behind them), the cheap hot dogs which were to die for, trying an original Sacher Torte, more tasty beer, and going to the opera together on our last night.

Fun travel tip if you're planning to go to Vienna: you can purchase standing-room only tickets to the opera, day-of, for only 4 euros. This was perfect for us since we weren't down to spend a whole 3 hours at the opera and we didn't want to pay an arm and a leg. I wish SF had something like this! It's so convenient for tourists. We got a good taste of the opera for 20-30 minutes and then spent the rest of the night exploring the enormous opera house.

Our final full day in Europe we drove out to Slovakia (only an hour drive) to explore another country. Why not?! We went to Bratislava which has so much character. The town is teeny, tiny! The restaurants are so hipster, it reminded me a lot of being in SF. We shopped, ate some bomb food, discovered some cute bakeries, and walked all day long. I loved it. I loved our whole trip and what was the best part was not only being able to do all this with my mom but to be able to mix that up with meeting some close family members who I personally had never had the opportunity to meet until now. It was such a blessing. These are people I can't imagine not knowing and I am SO excited for them to come here and tour CA with me guiding them ;)

Top 3 realizations culture shocks:

  • You can only get your ice cream in a cone if you get it to go. We tried sitting down after the opera in this ice cream parlor and I really was craving a cone but they wouldn't let me since apparently a cone is more prone to messes so they only give you cups when you're seated. Um... ok.
  • On the same note, no ice cream sampling allowed in Vienna. I told our friends about Salt & Straw in the US and how they pretty much beg you to sample everything and they were mind blown!
  • There isn't much variety when it comes to food. We stayed in Vienna the longest during our whole trip (about 5 days) and towards the end both my mom and I were really in the mood for some ethnic food. Back home, we both get Japanese or Chinese food at least once a week so going three weeks with nothing was killing us. I finally was able to locate a high rated ramen spot so we went. It was average at best which made us realize how lucky we are in the US for the diversity in food options. Not to mention some of the TOP ethnic cuisine in SF (burritos, ramen, sushi, the works).

                 

   

 

#salzburg

Hello Austria. On this next leg of the trip we took a short, two hour night train from Munich to Salzburg. We arrived close to midnight and the best part was that the hotel I found us for the night is pretty much connected to the train station. You walk out, turn the corner and right there in front is the beautiful Ramada Hotel. This hotel was one of the most beautiful and most modern of our stay. Best of all, the glass walls are built noise-proof so you don't have to worry about the sound of the incoming and outgoing trains all night. We were only at this hotel for ~12 hours but we loved it. Blame it on our exhaustion maybe, but nothing felt better than climbing into freshly washed sheets and taking part in an amazing Austrian breakfast buffet first thing in the morning. After breakfast, we checked out and headed to yet another Hop On, Hop Off double decker tour bus ride. These bus rides are seriously the best way to see a city in Europe. Especially if you only have a day or two in each city these buses take you all over the major landmarks of the city, as well as provide an in depth explanation of everything under the sun as you're driving around. We spent the first half of the day seeing the landmarks -- highlight for me and my mom was seeing Mozart's house and walking where he walked. It's crazy to think about. For those looking for which tour to use, I highly suggest Panorama Tours . Being the review nerd that I am, I researched a ton via TripAdvisor for the best tour. Panorama is the way to go! For more resources and offerings, check out their website. 

Around 1pm we got off that bus that walked around their Old Town for a bit. It was perfect timing since our next tour started right at 2pm. Ok, I can't hold it in any longer -- our next tour was the SOUND OF MUSIC tour!! If you know me and my family well, you'd know that this is our absolute favorite movie (right up there with Father of the Bride and Home Alone), I think we've seen it over 70 times at least. I think that's what made Salzburg so special for both of us was going on this tour -- private, may I add! Blame it on the low tourist season; it was just me and her on a private tour with our amazing tour guide, Rosemary. She was so sweet and knowledgable. Our entire 4 hour tour she was spitting out fire facts about the film and behind the set. Leave it to me and my competitive nature to try and one up her the entire time. Let it be known that even I was schooled when it comes to Sound of Music trivia! Rosemary's lived in Salzburg for 40 years and has met over half the actual Von Trapp family in person so ok, I guess she wins. Haha. We went everywhere. The church that Maria gets married in, the terrace and backyard of the home where the kids fall out of the boat when their dad comes home, the yellow wall Maria runs by while singing "Confidence" in the very beginning (see video below for us trying to reenact it), and even the fountain and gardens where they sing Do Re Mi. It was magic. Oh and of course, the iconic gazebo! Thanks so much to Bob's Special Tours for making this so memorable for us.

Finally, we had an hour of downtime before the end of the tour where Rosemary drove us an hour outside the town to the outskirts. We devoured some delicious toasted ham and cheese sandwiches (only 4 euros - what?!) and a few (ok, 4) pastries between the two of us. #treatyoself.

This day is really one that stands out to me because of how special it was to act like true groupies from one of our favorite films, but also because of how short and sweet it was! We took the 7pm train that night to head to Vienna so we really only had one full day. And to be honest I think that's all you need! We both love walking and being on the go so we were able to get a ton done. I highly suggest both tours if you ever go! Enjoy the photos :)

        

#germany 

And the train keeps going. Next stop for us was Germany, where we spent the most time during this adventure -- and made some of the best memories. We took the train from Paris to Frankfurt, where my mom's uncle and his German wife picked us up and hosted us for 5 days at their home in Hochheim (super tiny town!). My great aunt was born and raised in this home so it's over three generations old and has been their home for almost 70 years. It was so awesome to transition from the busy city life to being immersed in a true, European small town. This is one of those towns that everyone knows each other. When you call the nail salon, you greet the person by saying your last name and you're immediately recognized. My great uncle and his wife know almost all the restaurant owners and who's who. The town is completely walkable; no metro, only a few bus lines. 

Our stay with them was so memorable because we got a change from the hotel feel/ living out of a suitcase to a much more home-y and cozy experience. I think what I'll miss most are the breakfast spreads my great aunt would have laid out for us in the mornings. All different kinds of cheeses, fresh bread, soft boiled eggs in the cutest little holders, and a German delicacy: poppyseed cake. We stayed there for four days and explored more of Hochheim as well as Mainz, where we went to the Gutenburg Museum.

That was one of my favorite places we went this whole trip because of how cool it was to learn the history behind print. Obviously being a writing lover, I was captivated from the start. Even cooler, we entered this vault that holds the world's oldest copy of the Bible. Sadly no cameras were allowed but it was even better in a way to soak it all in even more. That's actually been a trending nugget for this whole trip. Not to go off on a tangent but -- we only have wifi in our hotels/ the houses we stay in so during the day we're completely phone less which at first was really unknown, new, and outside my comfort zone. A few days later, and I've gotten so used to it and it's proved to make the trip that much more memorable. Instead I've been journaling during the day when we're out and have down time, and really taking the time to soak in every moment. 

A few days later, we left small town life for Munich! Munich was amazing. I'm so glad we made the stop here as well. The city is so alive and filled with so much history. We did a full day tour on a double decker bus which was perfect. The city is filled with castles, $2 sausages, BEER,  and such intricate architecture. Fun fact too is that there are no skyscrapers allowed to be built in the city because under the Catholic law, no building can be higher than their oldest church. So all of the skyscrapers are actually right outside the city lines. 

Other than that, Germany definitely lives up to its stereotype about having mean people. Sadly. The people have been so rude!! :( it's crazy but it just opens your eyes so much to the level of care and customer service we get in America. The grass isn't always greener! 

Finally to end things off, the absolute best part of Germany was hands down meeting 4 of my second cousins that I had never met before. It's so amazing the connection that family brings that is unlike any other. Within one hour of meeting all of them on different occasions, it was like we had been friends for a lifetime. I'm so blessed to finally have met more of my family-- they're truly people I want to do life with on a consistent basis. And hopefully have them visit us here in the Bay! 

Alright, let's get to the photos now. Next stop: Salzburg, Austria.       

                                

#BeYourself

beyou

Be You. One of the shortest sentences one can form. Yet one of the most powerful assertions. So what does it mean to be you? What if you don't know who YOU are? Today at work we had a mini offsite for our team that was meant for some team bonding and brainstorming. With only 10 of us, we all went through the book Strengths Finder 2.0 to see what our top five strengths are (or "themes" as they call them). It was so beneficial to go through this with them because when you're working so closely with a team, often times you're left disappointed, confused, or just plain annoyed because you don't know how to deal with them. Maybe you're wondering why they react certain ways to specific situations -- or why they don't react at all. It was so eye-opening to share our results with one another because now I know exactly why they operate the way they do. And most of all, where their top strengths lie. This way we now know how each member of the team can best utilize these strengths to contribute to the team. 

I highly suggest reading this book and taking the assessment (within a team at work, with your significant other, or just for fun between your family or group of friends). As soon as I finished I wanted to share my results with those around me and curious to hear the results of my good friends. 

Just for my own reference so I never forget these (and because I'm sure you readers are dying to know all about me!) ... lol, I'll be sharing my top 5, as well as the tidbits from each that stood out most to me. It's interesting because we actually had to read this book for a course I took in high school and I still have it at home. I was comparing my results to the ones I got today (almost 7 years later) and 3 of my 5 strengths have remained the same. The other two are completely new! And in a new order too. Here it goes: 

1) Empathy

People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.

What stood out most: Chances are good that you are attuned to the full gamut of human feelings. Whenever your own or someone else’s life becomes emotionally barren, you search for people and activities to fill the void. You bring people together. Because of your strengths, you frequently detect impending conflict sooner than most people do. Your keen awareness allows you to sense what others are thinking and feeling. Simply put: You have a gift for helping people find common ground. By nature, you pay attention to what others think. You make them feel valued. Typically people sense that you appreciate what they say. This probably explains why many people enjoy spending time with you.

2) Harmony

People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.

What stood out the most: You realize everyone sees opportunities, problems, solutions, and events differently. While you have opinions, you refrain from imposing them on others. You are good-natured — that is,you have a pleasant, cheerful, and cooperative disposition. Chances are good that you accomplish everything that others are counting on you to do. This is one reason why people admire you. 

3) Connectedness

People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

What stood out the most: Driven by your talents, you sense that everything in life is somehow interrelated and interdependent. This idea fortifies you to calmly face most of life’s challenges and difficulties. ... By nature, you naturally build bonds that unite different types of people who have separate and often clashing agendas. You naturally identify with someone’s situation. You have a gift for helping people discover what they have in common. 

4) Consistency

People who are especially talented in the Consistency theme are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world with consistency by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.

What stood out the most: You might worry that chaos will reign when regulations or standard operating procedures are not uniformly enforced. Because of your strengths, you may have a reputation for straightening up certain types of things such as your desk, home, and personal items. Perhaps you have a detailed plan or schedule for cleaning, organizing, and maintaining your physical environment. By nature, you like creating familiar patterns of behavior. (dead on!) 

5) Communication 

People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

What stood out the most: Instinctively, you very much enjoy the animated give-and-take of a lively discussion. You yearn to spend time with your friends. Their absence saddens you. It’s very likely that you are sometimes open and honest about who you are, what you have done, what you can do, and what you cannot do. Maybe your straightforward explanations and stories help listeners see you as you see yourself.

Perhaps your words and examples move them to action. Because of your strengths, you like to
amuse people with your stories. Your stories probably provide people with pleasant distractions from their daily routines and worries. Chances are good that you select the right combination
of words to convey your ideas or feelings. You probably express yourself with ease and grace.

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That's me! Reading these strengths and diving deep into discovering them is one step closer into figuring out who I am and now the challenge is to BE me with no hesitation, fear, or care about who will accept and and who wont. It's liberating. 

#sfdigs

I think it's safe to say it's finally time for an update from the Tiger's Den. (Yes, I named my apartment -- because, why not?). It's been almost six months now and the details are all slowly coming together. There's still a lot I want to add to fine-tune my vision, but lets be real, this get expensive! The great thing is that I was able to find a lot of my accent pieces from Target (Nate Berkus collection for the win!). Everything else is things I had from home or from when I was in college. I think the only thing I splurged on was my Anthropologie comforter.  Other than that, my accent wall is in still in progress but I'm so pleased with the first four pieces that came together. Not to mention the people some of them came from! 20140625-212543-77143324.jpg

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Flower print taken by one of my biggest inspirations, Delbarr Moradi //"Let's Stay Home" off Etsy -- probably my favorite piece in my room so far. Describes me to the T  // (Thank you, Elms, for the find).

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Breaking Bad vintage wall art from Vietnam via my soul sister

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#wheninvegas (AKA: The Time I Kissed a Backstreet Boy)

20140609-213042.jpg Sometimes in life, the spontaneous decisions end up being the most memorable. I'm not talking about going out on a whim and doing something stupid without any wisdom (i.e. the YOLO mentality that so many teens have today), BUT sometimes a little adventure with wisdom is worth it all.

It all started when I went to go see the Backstreet Boys reunion tour this May. I've been a huge fan of them since I was like 7 yeas old, and I even went to see their reunion tour (the one without Kevin *tear* back in 2009). It just didn't do me justice. As soon as I heard they were coming back -- WITH Kevin -- I knew it would be epic. To put it simply, the show was amazing. Everything I could have hoped for. But for some reason it wasn't enough. At the end of the concert as we were leaving we saw this sign for an after party with the boys for $75. I think we were all so out of it/ tired/ on a high from the show that none of us really made a proactive decision to go to the party. The day passed, I go back to work; back to reality. For some reason that Tuesday at work I just had an itch. I wasn't done and wanted more BSB (cue my inner jr high fanatic, but that's what I felt!). Anyways, I randomly decided to check their tour dates that were still to come. Lo and behold, they were headed to Vegas for a show Friday and Saturday night. Mind you, I had never been to Vegas either and it was kind of like the stars just aligned -- I. Had. To. Go. Hand shaking, I took out my phone and texted a few of my girls to see if anyone would even be remotely down to join me on this adventure. After a few "are you crazy's?!" one of my really close friends texted back with a simple "YES." And the rest is history.

My friend Sep and I embarked on this entire fiasco, staying up til 1am that Tuesday night, booking tickets/ picking hotels/ dying of laughter at our spontaneity. Friday couldn't come any faster, but as soon as I got out of work that evening, it was on. We flew out and the plane ride itself was the beginning of a story that seems like it was almost out of a movie.

We ended up upgrading our seats a few rows so we moved up quite a bit. As soon as the plane was about to take off this woman comes rushing in, trying to catch the flight. As she's catching her breath she realizes her seat's been taken (right across us). Funny enough, the seat next to me was empty so she takes it. We don't talk the entire flight but as soon as we were landing, I peered out the window and was admiring the lights on the Strip. She asks, "Oh is this your first time in Vegas or something?" And I replied and told her surprisingly it was. She proceeded to ask if we were going to see any shows while there and I said, "Yeah, don't judge us but we're actually here to see the Backstreet Boys tomorrow night." She laughed and said, "Wow same here. I actually was just at their other show in the Bay Area last weekend too." Right then, Sep and I knew we had found a friend. Another believer, if you will ;) We went on to have a little bonding sesh and then found out the good stuff -- drumroll please -- she ended up being best friends with the Backstreet Boys' head of security. The second she said that I was like, ok this is it. We have to make something happen right now. Sadly she didn't offer any backstage access or a chance to get in the concert for free or any of my other fantasies so I gave up. We get off the plane, head out, and that's that. Suddenly, she asks us if we want to share a cab since our hotels were so close. We said sure and get in the cab. During the drive I noticed her texting a LOT. As soon as we were about to arrive at her stop, she turns to us and says, "What are both of your full names?" *Cue stars in eyes.* She goes on to say, "It's your first time in Vegas, I want to make it memorable — I'm getting you meet and greet passes to their after party tonight.

I kid you not, we were both like kids on Christmas morning, shocked with no words to express our joy. As soon as she got out of the cab and left, I started screaming like a true 11 year old girl. Our driver got back in the car and had to ask if everything was ok. LOL. We were beyond giddy. Now mind you, we had bought tickets to their concert and after party for Saturday night but this was Friday. So it wasn't even on our agenda but we just went with it. (In addition, we didn't even have a meet and greet ticket, just access to the party party, which we both had no idea what it would entail).

Even more funny, we come to realize that this after party is being held in our hotel. The hotel we randomly decided to pick out at 1am a few nights before. We check in around 11pm, get ready in a hurry, and rush over to the club. The line was out into the casino floor, but we went up with confidence and poise. In that moment I felt like true VIP royalty. As soon as we mentioned our connection's full name (after a minor glitch), it was like we were Obama and the First Lady. They opened up the velvet ropes, gave us every VIP/ backstage ticket possible and led us up the stairs through the elevator to the roof of the club.

And then it happened -- we met the boys. They walked in and for a second it almost felt like just seeing your friend out at a club and reconnecting. They were so friendly and down to earth that it seriously felt like we knew them. In that moment all I could ask myself was, "Ok what do you say to BSB?" And we just walked up to them as if they were our best friends -- "Hey guys!" -- to which I was greeted back with a "Hello beautiful" from Howie D. We took our photos, had a few moments with them (which of course, I couldn't contain myself long enough and blurted out a "I've been in love with you since I was 8" to Kevin).

The crazy thing was, maybe 2-3 people after us, they decided to shut down the photo taking since it was taking too long. The line still had maybe 50+ people in it. Again, divine favor or WHAT?! From that point on, the guys were literally partying with us in the club. We stayed out until 3am, watched Nick Carter DJ, and danced the night away. Which of course included following them around til we got a selfie with each and every one of them. And of course, I went in for the kiss with Kevin. Mind you, interesting point to note is that I was actually air kissing him but he leaned in for complete contact. [I can die happy.] It was epic to say the least.

We were on cloud 9. And this was only night one. Way to enter Vegas with a bang right? The rest of our trip consisted of hotel admiring, walking, pool lounging, eating, napping, and even me reuniting with a really good friend that I hadn't seen in ten years since our 8th grade graduation. It was perfect. The next night we went to the concert which was almost even better than the first one I went to. YET AGAIN, our lives were made when AJ decided to run off stage during one of their songs and run into the audience. Which row does he run to? Of course us. We were two away from the aisle too so he legit was in our faces, singing .. and holding the girl next to me. Like, I couldn't write this if I tried -- it was so so meant to be for us. And I'll leave it at that.

Finally, the last part of the whole trip -- which makes the above occurrences so much more worthwhile was when it was time to head to the after party (this was the one we actually had tickets for). We ended up making a stop at another club before the party, thinking it would be fine since the night before they strolled in around 1am. Long story short, we get back to the after party and see a pretty empty club. Barely any action and a slump in the all-around mood. We find out - they came for ~20 minutes, took a few photos, and left because it was their "mellow night" and they were tired of partying from the night before. No Nick DJing, no selfies with AJ, no kissies with Kevin. Imagine our dismay. Here we were, so confident from the night before, ready for part 2 with our boys -- and they were gone! All of these girls who had tickets to the after party were standing there in disappointment. I was on the edge of tears but kept telling myself, "Wait. Last night happened to you. Remember that."

And with that, we realized how kindred our decision to take this trip was. Everything that happened from start to finish was golden. It will seriously be an experience I treasure for a lifetime with a friend that was the perfect travel partner. In a sense it brought us even closer to share a memory like this together. It was seriously perfect. And while I'm pissed I had paid for a ticket to a party when they barely even showed up, the spontaneous memory I hold of how Friday night went down is probably one of the best moments I have to cherish. And makes for an epic story too, right?

The cherry on top of all of it was the way my cousin put it, "Imagine if you told 8 year old Naseem that this would happen to her one day." And that kind of just let it all sink in. As sad as one might think it seems, it truly was a "dream come true" in a sense. I wouldn't trade it for anything :) :)

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#juicing -- the reality behind the hype

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So last week I gave in to the hype and did a juice cleanse. I don't know what it was but everywhere around me the media is throwing the "health benefits" of juicing in your face. Add to that the pretty packaging of these $12 juices and you've got thousands of young women everywhere who are throwing their money to try a one or three-day cleanse. I personally chose to do the one day cleanse, mostly because I knew that I probably couldn't handle more than a day and also because I wasn't in that driven of a mood to go all out and starve myself for half a week. Here's the skinny: I. Felt. No. Different.

I'm not sure how much of cleansing becomes placebo because you're already in the mentality of detoxing and cleaning out your system, but to be honest I really felt no different. During the day, there were certain points where I felt lighter but only because I wasn't left with that "full" feeling after a meal. However, that feeling only lasts half an hour or so after a meal anyway -- you go walk it off, you go to the bathroom, whatever you gotta do. If anything I feel like it's sad that I practically starved myself for a day when  I could have been eating clean just to "detox" and try to shed some water weight. Not to mention the fruits and veggies pretty much lose all their fiber-value when you juice them.

I don't want to be completely negative about the experience because while nothing amazing happened -- nothing terrible happened either. I actually did the cleanse with two other co-workers. One of whom cleanses pretty regularly and LOVES it. The other was a guy and this was his first time doing it. He felt miserable to say the least. Even the next day at work he said he was exhausted. I felt bad for him because I wasn't dying by any extent, but I simply didn't feel much of anything. A lot of people might argue that you have to juice for 3 days minimum or a week to see results, but then I'm curious to ask what results are we searching for?

A friend posed his speculation really interestingly to me. He was telling me that there is no scientific proof currently about the nutritional value of a juice cleanse. He was reminding me how long certain medicines, herbs, and supplements take to become FDA-approved and for their health benefits to be tested and proven. He said, "what makes what you're doing different than me telling you to simply eat lettuce for 3 days straight?" That really opened my eyes to a different aspect of the whole fitness craze in general. I think as a society, girls especially, we're so antsy for the next big quick fix. And as soon as a craze hits the market we have to jump on the band wagon and try it out. (I'm guilty of it too, the sole reason I did this was to see what all the hype was about). But really, it's kind of sickening when you think about it. Aside from even "I want to lose weight" or "I want to clean out my system" -- what is it with us latching onto what society throws at us like leeches? I was depriving myself of food  that could have provided me with excellent nutritional value to drink 8 juices over 24 hours just because I was TOLD this is what's healthy right now.

My entire point with this post was to simply share my findings after trying the cleanse and remaining completely unbiased. To be truthful, I hoping to come out of it the next morning and feel AMAZING -- rejuvenated, energized, fulfilled, and lighter. I felt good but no different. In fact I kept asking myself, "So when am I going to feel something?" Again, I could definitely chalk it up to only doing it for a day but it's just so sad that all these businesses who are charging $65+ a day for a pack of juices are eating away at our wallets and we're so quick to believe them and jump right in. It's simple: want to change your health habits and eat healthier? Cut out the junk and start exercising. Nothing extreme about it. And trust me the results appear sooner than you might think. Anyways, enough soap box. But I had to share.

I challenge you to think the next time you're about to allow yourself to get influenced into something. The media is smart and it's scary. It's in a constant attempt to get us all to look the same, eat the same, talk the same, and think the same. Don't conform.

#change

Yes, it's definitely been a minute since my last post. I'm slowly coming up on three months officially living in the city. Can't express enough how this has truly been one of the best decisions I ever made. I feel so much growth within the last few months and so much of an internal thirst for more. I'm slowly starting to ask myself the hard questions, like what it is I like, who I want to be around, the people I choose to invest in, the things I spend my time doing, etc. The more and more I work, the more I realize how precious our time is. So much of the week is automatically given away to working so when it comes to time off and the weekends, that's when I've really been focused on making my time count.

Living in the city on my own, I've had the perfect balance of feeding both my introvert side & my extravert side. It's funny how much we can change as we grow older, and now being in my mid-20's I can safely safe I've shifted into a 50/50 split of the two personality types. Being here, sometimes I just have those days where I'll take a walk to the Marina by myself and just sit out by the water and soak it all in. Or walking on the way home and people watching down Fillmore St. and seeing how much life goes on all around me. Aside from that, it's been so good to invest time in friends who I don't get to see as much. It's funny, when I was still living fully at home with the parents I wouldn't see a lot of my friends that often who lived maybe 10-15 min away (I think it's just taking it for granted that you live so close and then life gets busy).. but after moving up, I ended up seeing some of these people even more than I did when I was living at home. You almost make more of an effort because life does get so chaotic. It feels really good to have those friendships that stick out like that... people actually caring to invest themselves in your life and ask about your day to day and keep up with it. That effort goes such a long way, and as humans, we're bound to get moved by the reciprocation -- after all, that's what we're after. There are some people in my life in this past year alone that have made an everlasting mark because of how supportive they were through some of the toughest times. These are friends that weren't necessary the ones I happened to grow up with my whole life or ones that I happen to do life with on the daily -- some were even friends of friends who I happened to click with in an instant. Just seeing the mark those people made on my life as I look back a year ago til today, I am nothing but thankful. It's taught me a lesson in being open to change. Being open to getting to know anyone, regardless of how different you might think the two of you might be on the outside based on surface circumstances like your age or walk of life.

I think the hardest topic for me to think/write about (aside from life passions and what I really want to do with my life -- which we shall leave for another blog post for the sake of my sanity, hehe), is change. Change in the smallest sense like my favorite TV show changing its theme song after a season or two (here's looking at you Felicity and One Tree Hill), or change in the larger sense like not being as close with people you once did life with. Lately one of the things I've been pondering about has been the change I've seen in my social circles. Sometimes it feels like I live two lives. Not in the sense of living a double life or anything like that, but living in two cities, having two rooms, a work life, a family life, a set of friends here, one there -- it's all been so non-linear that it's interesting. For lack of a better word. And yet even alongside the busyness and action-packed life I lead, there are times when I've sat and questioned "where do I belong?" I think growing up with the social groups that are a norm for our society today leads to this type of questioning. We grow up and head off to these institutions like middle school/ high school/ church/ the soccer team, and we're immediately told to start making friends and forming groups. For me especially, I always always had a big group of friends surrounding me. More often than that, these were obviously people who had a ton in common with me and were headed in the same direction for the most part. However, as we grow older, I've realized that this is where the change kicks in like a bitter pill to swallow. We all have that deciding moment to figure out what it is we want for ourselves. Where we want to go, who we want to be. We start asking all these questions surrounding our identity. From college to now (and esp. now), I've had the change kick in the most. It saddens me that I am such a nostalgic person because I notice  how much this kind of stuff effects me more than those around me. Sometimes it's so hard to even express how I feel because I don't think others would even get it. But I get so nostalgic for the old times that it definitely hurts. I miss my old group of friends. I miss the people I grew up with and did 10+ years of my life with.

People who would say they consider you "family" or a "sister." It's funny because now at 24, almost 25, I realize how loosely we throw around words like that. And it's so sad because it cheapens the value of words like that so much. One second it's this clique we consider our bffs/ family and then a year later we aren't even talking to that person and moved on to the next clique. It's really allowed my eyes to be opened to the fact that as life changes and we grow up, we begin to find that sometimes we don't even need a group anymore. We need that one, two, or three constants who are always going to be there and have made it clear that they're not going anywhere. Sure, everyone wants to have that TV glamorized clique of friends like how the Kardashian sisters make it seem or the girls on Laguna Beach, but lets be real, this isn't reality TV -- this is reality.

I've finally started to slowly start losing my grip on holding so tightly to the past. Yes, the memories will always remain and always be epic to look back on. And yes, if I could, I would repeat those instances in a second because of how joyful they made me. But am I going to keep missing out on the present because I'm holding onto missing the past? No. Not anymore. I've realized I'm done trying to control things as much as I have in the past. I came across this amazing quote that says,

"If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth."

 So powerful. And at the end of the day, the hard part of this quote to walk away with is the truth in that not everyone will know our worth. People will always disappoint. That's why we can't put our worth in people alone or even let them have that control. So I'll end with this and bring it full circle. Thanks to good old Socrates for putting the secret to change so perfectly. We need to stop living in the past and holding on so tightly to what's already changed. Yes, people may leave, people may change, situations can totally erupt, explode, or implode. But the key is focusing on building the present and the future. 

I never want to miss out on the beauty that is to come in my life. I am so blessed to have the people in my life who are in it right now and who have made a lasting mark, especially in such a season of change (har har) for me. I may not have that clique anymore like the kids in high school or those girls you grew up with, because lets be real we're all in different chapters at the moment. But having the few who have made it known they're here to stay has been so comforting. And even bigger than that, this has all taught me so much about independence and finding myself apart from people. I don't think that it's any accident at all that I'm in the spot where I am. I know God knows what He's doing and I trust in that. The changes are good and they're going to bear so much fruit in the long run. I just needed to shift my perspective. And I'm finally ready to let go and move forward with a new set of eyes now. <3

#oscars aftermath

SO last night was the beloved Academy Awards! Truthfully, I think it was a pretty mediocre show in my opinion. I feel like each year is always filled with so much spark and this element of mystery as the night goes on. This year it was kind of like the presenters were rushing through each category and we were just waiting for the show to end. Not to mention the most monotone presenters.
This year my predictions were pretty dead on if I do say so myself -- I was off by 3-4 upsets. Some of which I am actually really happy I was wrong about and others... well not so happy.. ( I gotchu, Leo).
Lets keep it real simple and go through the night the best way I see fit: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good:
  • Jared Leto's win: I think jump starting the show with a main award was the best thing to do to set the tone for the night. Right away they jumped into Best Supporting Actor which was perfect in my opinion. Jared Leto winning was pretty much a given, but wow his speech man. I was blown away. Not only is he an amazing public speaker (super engaging) but the story about his mom and the dedication to her and to his brother was wonderful.
  • "Her" winning Best Original Screenplay: Like I said in my last post, this category is one of my favorites. Her was the one I was rooting for most, and honestly I was not expecting it to win. But lo and behold, it got the win. I was so happy for Spike Jonze and I think he definitely deserves it. This was such a unique and forward-thinking concept for a film and the way he brought it to life was near perfect.
  • Charlize Theron being a goddess. I mean need I say more?

 

  • The celebrity selfie. Not because it crashed Twitter/ went viral/ or because everyone is photoshopping themselves into it to look cool. But because in that instant, it was like they were just like us. Seeing them one by one trying to fit into the shot and not miss out on it was one of the cutest things I've seen and actually reminded me exactly of me and my friends. Sweet moment :)
  • Ellen getting pizza for the audience and the audience actually eating it.
  • Like I said in my last post, 12 Years a Slave was going to win Best Picture. I'm not really torn one way or the other on what I think about that. I think Ellen summed it up best in her opening monologue. Had it not won, the Academy looks like a bunch of racists, lets be real. But aside from that, while it isn't the most intriguing or mind-blowing film, it gave us a sense of reality that we don't often think back on or expose ourselves to. And on that note, I couldn't have been happier for Lupita winning Best Supporting Actress.
  • "The Moon Song" performance. Chilling.
  • Seeing Brad Pitt get teary eyed after Angelina Jolie was presented with the humanitarian award.
The Bad:
  • Ellen calling Liza Minelli a man. On top of that, a number of her jokes that just went way too far and were borderline awkward.
  • No opening performance of any sort from Ellen? Come on. No entertainment value to this year's show, sadly.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio loses. Again. The sad thing is, I knew going into it he wasn't going to win. It's just a given at this point that the Academy has something against him. I just didn't want Matthew McConaughey to win over him. And that's exactly what happened. I said it before on Facebook in my public rant, but I'll say it again here. Matthew McConaughey has a resume of playing in chick flick after chick flick for the majority of his career. I don't agree that one versatile performance should equate to an Oscar win. Especially when looking at the others he was competing against. The perfect word I can use to describe Leo's career choices as an actor is chameleon. This guy blows me away film after film with the characters he chooses to take on and the depth he goes to in bringing them to life. The Departed, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Titanic, Blood Diamond, the list goes on. This guy has been in 9 films that have been nominated for Best Picture (and played the main role in them), yet has not even been nominated for the majority of them. A lot of people think he's just another Meryl Streep who's always nominated yet never wins. The truth in fact is that he rarely even has gotten nominated for the epic films he's played in. THAT'S where the conspiracy lies (I'm not trying to be one of those insane conspiracy theorists, I'm just using it for lack of a better word -- yet at this point I'm really starting to believe it is a conspiracy, lol). The great thing is, Leo seems like such a humble and genuine actor who truly cares to solely entertain and tell a story through his films, that this is what he'll continue to do. And I know he'll get his win soon. * This is not to say that Matthew was completely undeserving for this award, no, in fact I totally agree that he rose up and put on a show for all of us. Do I think it was a better performance than Leo? Absolutely not.
The ugly:
  • Matthew McConaughey's speech. I was SO intrigued to hear who this guy's role model was after he kept going on and on about looking up to this mystery person his whole life. Then the ball drops -- "me in 10 years." Really, bro? We're all still trying to recover from you stealing Leo's win and then you top it all off with the most egotistical speech known to man. All I kept remembering was his Golden Globe speech too when he was talking about his wife referring to him as, "the king you know I am." Give me a break.
  • Zac Efron butchering his lines while presenting.
  • Zac Efron presenting an Oscar.
  • John Travolta presenting Idina Menzel before she performed for Best Song.. and completely massacring her name.
  • Lady Gaga being present.
There you have it. Thanks for reading. Feel free to sound off with your thoughts below! Congrats to all the winners and I can truly say one thing for sure -- this was such a powerful year for film all around. Sadly, this marks the end of awards season. You'll know I'll be back for the next one! :)

#citylife

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Today marks day 20 of me moving to San Francisco. Yes, I am a slacker, I have no excuse for being so late on a life update, but hey better late than never. I still cannot even begin to process the fact that I live here now. It has been one of the best decisions I ever made. Best of all, it's been such a breath of fresh air to get away from the bubble I've grown up in my whole life and venture out to see the rest the world (ironically, looks like sometimes you only need to get an hour away and you'll still feel the change of pace). SF couldn't be more different than what I'm used to. Some nights I remember taking the train home from work and getting to my driveway back home and being in total suburbia ..... and just needing to take a moment to soak it all in because it's those moments where I feel like I have two different lives going on.

It's been so much more convenient moving here and I feel like with every aspect of life I have more of a sync and balance. Who knew knocking of 3 hours of commuting a day would have such an effect. I've been walking to work every day, admiring the gorgeous Civic Center buildings on my walk over and just admiring the city's livelihood, no matter what the hour.

Even with work I feel so much more stimulated now. I still have those long hours but I almost don't even mind it anymore since my commute has shortened so much and I'm lucky enough to work with people I love so it's a fun time regardless.

I feel like the adventures are just beginning. There have been so many wish-list places on my endless SF exploration list, but I've experienced so many of them so far. Some of the best foods, fancy dinners, hole in the walls -- the list goes on. I think my favorite part though has been the proximity to my friends. I'm like smack in the middle of 4-5 really close friends so the best part has been walking to their place for a movie night or just having people to hang out with anytime you want.

I'm going to keep this one short since I'm still soaking in so much from this experience, but to sum it all up, it's been absolutely perfect thus far. I'm so happy about using this time to grow both in my work and personally... and I know this move and change in independence is going to play a huge role in the growth process. The best is yet to come.

#newyearnewme

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"New Year, New Me" -- probably one of the most reused sayings when it comes to bringing in the new year. I think the notion behind it is actually very beautiful. Celebrating the end of an era and starting fresh with a brand new chapter; it gives us reason to want to re-invent ourselves, almost like a blank slate. 2013 is dunzo and it's been a little under a week that we've peered into 2014, yet it already feels like such a change compared to this past year.

I had one of the wildest years of my life. One that I think stands out dramatically from the rest when I look back. Turning 24 at the end of this past year set things in motion for a dramatic change come these next few months. SO much change has happened. I took one of the biggest leaps of faith 8 months ago and opted to take an internship, which in turn led to being hired permanently as a content writer for my dream company. Words can't express how much of a blessing that has been. Not only that, but it's a literal dream come true for me because I'm now in the process of preparing to move to the city in less than a month. It feels so surreal. That's been something I've dreamt of since college days and now it's a reality. I'm so glad I had the experience of commuting and living life within the city before opting to actually move there. I figured out what I wanted and what I didn't, and now the pieces just seem to fit so well.

At the start of every new year, we've been taught to come up with our list of resolutions. For me, I don't like saying things and then not keeping them because it only leads to regret at the end of that year, but lets face it, you're more inclined to go after these resolutions if you write them out and make them goals. I don't have like a top ten list or anything, but these are a few of the things I'm really set out to aspire to accomplish in 2014:

1) Travel more. In 2013 another dream that came true for me was my trip to NYC. It's funny because I think that's so normal to some people who have had the luxury of traveling a lot and having lavish vacations all their lives, but for me big vacations are something we tend to do once every two years or so. In 2012 it was two weeks in Europe which was AMAZING, but this trip to NYC was something different. The fact that I was able to plan it all and pay for all of it on my own was so rewarding. It was just me and one dear friend and we made the MOST of our 3 days there. I will never forget that trip. It made me realize how much I value self-discovery while traveling. It's something I want to invest my money in and make sure to cross one trip off my list each year from now on. That makes 2014 very exciting to look forward to:)

2) Be completely present, no matter where I am. I have made this mistake on numerous occasions throughout my life. I tend to let my curiosity, or my "fear of missing out" (coined in pop culture as FOMO lately), get the best of me. I want to resolve in 2014 to be 100% present no matter where I am. Especially with this move to SF, I want to savor every single moment of it. From moving in, to the weeknights coming back to my neighborhood after work, to spending some weekends venturing out on my own -- I want all of it to be an adventure that I can look back on and reflect on true self-discovery and growth as a person. No more worry about not being invited to this/ missing out on that event back home/ wishing I was somewhere that I'm not. Instead just full devotion to the present and what a gift that truly is.

3) Last but not least (since the rest are random and borderline embarrassing like learning to play guitar and whatnot lol), I want to fully accept and come to terms with the truth that "Timing is Everything." One of the toughest lessons I've had to learn has been giving up my own control; letting go and letting God. Call it the perfectionist in me or maybe it's this fear of having to settle or compensate.. but I've always wanted things to go the way I've imagined them. This truth about timing was made very clear to me a few days before the New Year. Truth be told, it was actually a tough word to receive because come on, in reality, we don't really like hearing that we have to simply sit back and just wait for God to open doors in His timing. That's so unknown! But that's what a step of faith looks like. It's confidence in the unknown and unseen. I think this past year I've been so preoccupied with worry.. wondering when my time will come for certain things and that's led to major comparison to others around me, which in turn, has led to a depletion of joy. But towards the end of 2013, it just clicked that this is a notion I have to walk with every day --> let go of your own control and trust that the best is yet to come and the best is in store. Why would I doubt that for a second? The fear is crippling, I can vouch for that first hand. The fear of "what if it isn't what I hoped for?" //"what if I feel like I'm settling?"// "When will it come?" -- I mean the list goes on. There is so much fear in the unknown. But I realized I can either spend a year in confusion and anxiety about this, or I can live in joy knowing it's in God's hands and that He will give me the desires of my heart once I delight solely in Him. It's a hard pill to swallow.. but it's such a challenge. I can think of 20 different things that I've allowed my heart to "delight in" over Him sometimes. It's a good reality check to go back and reevaluate these things, and that's what I've been doing as the year started.

I know this year is going to be different, yet so much better than before. I don't believe I need to become a "new me" as the new year has started, yet I'm so thankful that I can take the old me and add to her what amazing lessons I've learned in 2013 and the ones I will continue to learn in 2014. That's what I mean when I say new me.. Same person, but new lessons learned. New growth. New ways of reacting to things in different ways than I would in years past. No more comparisons, no more fear.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Logan Cole Photography

#NYC -- dreams do come true

I just got back from NYC for a short yet fabulous 3 day trip. My friend and I were on a mission from the beginning to see all there was to see -- complete with a full spreadsheet that I had looked over by some NY natives. To say the least, it was one of the best trips I have been on. To see another side of the country was a treat in itself. The diversity, the culture, the leaves changing into fall colors... Wow. It was more than I expected. I found myself at some points just stopping to stare at the beauty before me. The majestic sights of Central Park, the walk back from the Brooklyn Bridge overlooking the Manhattan skyline, the lights of Times Square, and the Top of the Rock. Seriously breathtaking. We had the lucky opportunity to make it on the Jimmy Fallon show too and got to high five him ;) [not to mention participate in a birthday dance off led by the Roots].

All in all, I have never walked so much at once but it felt so good. We took the subway everywhere and it was so easy because everything is so close by with the amazing underground transportation system.

I've also never been this outspoken before, haha. We had to leave our timidity at the door because as tourists in NYC we had no idea how to navigate. Every stop we made, we asked natives what their suggestions were and of course, which trains to take. It was awesome.

One of my highlights was taking a bicycle carriage ride through Central Park. The weather that day was literally perfect. The sun was shining and it was the absolute best fall, crispy air. The leaves were red, yellow, and orange -- radiant hues. I loved it. Watching people canoe in the river under the bridge and seeing the joggers nearby... So surreal.

I also loved going to the little places like East Village and seeing how much character there was. Mini bars and cafés, tattoo parlors, craft stores. It reminded me soooo much of Paris.

Finally, the night I felt so VIP was when we went to the top of the Standard Hotel. It overlooked the entire city with the water under us and all the skyscrapers lit up with lights. All around us were little white couches to lounge on and a rooftop bar. Oh and not to mention, a tent with a crepe maker ;) fabulous.

Hands down this is a trip I will never forget. <3

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#BrBa - Series Finale: Felina

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20130930-092217.jpg It's over. 62 episodes later and we've finally come full circle. Last night was the epic series finale of Breaking Bad and I was beyond pleased with this hour of television. So freaking good. I'm still giddy as I write it because I can't believe how epic it was, as well as how well Vince Gilligan was able to tie up so many lose ends. The photos above are from my finale party last night because there honestly was no other way to finish this show than going all out to celebrate.

It's truly a talent to be able to do so within an hour time limit. I've finished so many series over the years and at the end kept asking, "But what about ____ or this detail.." And you're kind of left hanging. Honestly, I have no lingering questions after watching last night's finale. I think the only thing I might still remotely have questions about (which is something I've been wondering about all throughout season 5), has been Jesse's parents and brother. I found it a bit weird that they were introduced and then completely disappeared, but hey. I can't complain. That's only a slight issue that doesn't even matter in the long run.

Anyways, tangent. Back to "Felina" -- wow. It's so funny because I was so prepared to be depressed after the episode. I was ready for a shocking ending and a time of reflecting on how crazy things got and how everything fell apart. Not so in this finale. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I honestly felt like I was watching a movie the whole time. My favorite part of all of it was seeing how good Walt's spirits were throughout the whole thing.

I had gotten used to seeing this defeatist Walt the last two- three episodes and I was beginning to lose hope. It wasn't until the last 2 minutes of Granite State last week that I was like ok wow thank God -- he's back.

I think me along with everyone else assumed that after seeing Elliot and Gretchen on Charlie Rose that he was on his way to kill them. Which I was actually a fan of the idea last week. It wasn't until seeing the route Vince went that I was like wow -- even better. What better way to make sure that Walt Jr. gets the money. It's genius. It saddens me a lot that he'll never know it was from his dad but I loved that at that point you actually see that Walt's ego and pride aren't in the forefront anymore. It's quite humble actually. He's allowing his son to go along thinking that his ex-partners (whom he probably hates) are the ones giving him a lifetime trust fund.

And that's honestly the theme I found throughout this entire episode... Walt trying to redeem himself. Or at least die with some dignity. The scene with Skyler and him was so so so great. I was so happy she let him in and allowed him 5 minutes to talk. And FINALLY we get some honesty out of Walt. That reveal was like a breath of fresh air for me. He did it for himself. He was good at it. It felt good. And then to give Skyler the coordinates to the bodies... I think that will give Marie the closure she needs to continue her life as well.

Side note -- I was also really happy that Walt told her exactly what happened with the nazi gang killing Hank. I know at the end of the day it was Walt's fault that Hank died, but I didn't want his family to go on thinking that Walt was the one who physically killed him. After all, he was BEGGING Jack to spare his life! Not like that will help at this point but I really wanted some closure in that aspect and I'm so happy he revealed it to Skyler.

The one scene I actually teared up at was watching Walt with Holly. First off, the grace that Skyler has to have for a man who has ruined her family's life and then to let him see her.... Wow. It was so deep. And watching him look at her for the very last time. He knew it. It was all to say a proper goodbye. And then watching Walt Jr. through the glass windows... Gut wrenching. I think it's safe to conclude 100% that this man's love for his family was indeed genuine. He just let his ego and selfish desire get in the way and completely tear them apart.

Another thing I loved about this episode was the two flashbacks we got. It really brought the series full circle for me. That short snippet of how it all began -- with a simple joke from Hank inviting Walt over for a ride-along: "You need some excitement in your life" -- ha! Oh how things turned out. Then cut to Walt standing alone in his deserted home. Perfection.

In regards to Walt's plan of action with Lydia and the neo-nazi gang... It was amazing to say the least. I honestly felt like I was watching a movie. The ricin in the Stevia was genius (which is funny because that was the theory I was rooting for all along) and then that machine gun contraption... HOLY MOLY. Yes. That was CRAZY.

Ok I've calmed down now. That whole scene in the clubhouse with Jack and his crew was gold. I was standing on my feet the entire scene with my heart literally pounding.

I think the best part of all of it was that Walt had originally gone in with the mindset of killing all of them -- and even more raging because at this point he's under the impression that Jesse is cooking with Jack as well. [Side note, the Badger/ Skinny Pete cameo was the perfect way to pay homage to these two before the end]. Anyways, I think Walt at that point was so angry to hear this that his one mission was to wipe them all out.

That reveal with Jack bringing Jesse in -- and caring SO much to prove to Walt that he would never partner with a "rat" was perfect.

I think for me the final 5-10 minutes were the best part. Of course. First off, the look in Walt's eyes when he sees how they've treated Jesse for the last 5-6 months. You can totally see the look of a concerned, compassionate father-fugure. The act of literally jumping in front of a bullet for him and tackling him to the ground to save his life was the ultimate act of redemption for Walt in my opinion. It was so poetic. And then Jesse getting the chance to kill Todd. YES. Thank you Vince for giving Jesse at least that. He deserved that.

We all know Jesse isn't a killer. He has too much of his morality in tact (which we see even from his inability to kill Walt for the second time around). But with Todd, it was necessary. This guy who has tortured him for months on end and killed Drew Sharpe (which made a huge impact on Jesse) -- he had to go.

Another point I loved was Walt's final interactions with Jack. The fact that he didn't even flinch to think twice about questioning where his money was. No, at that point Walt didn't even give a crap about it. The money ruined his life. The money fueled his selfish Heisenberg- ego. He was there to kill Jack and he did it. Mission complete.

In my head, I was hoping for a reconciliation between Walt and Jesse. I was expecting Jesse to thank him for saving his life or just some more dialogue between them. But honestly, Jesse is forever changed because of Walt. He's been so mentally messed up even in the months being a slave for Todd that I think it was asking too much. I was satisfied though with the head nod exchange between the two. That gave me the closure I needed. After all, the last time they spoke was when Walt gave him up to Jack's crew & told him about watching Jane die. So we really can't expect a big finale hug and them riding off into the wind together (although I wish). Haha.

That was perfect though. Jesse got his freedom. Walt saved his life and ultimately was able to die with some redeeming quality, as well as with the closure in knowing his family would be forever safe and that he killed everyone who needed to be killed. It was perfect. It reminded me of a Shakespearian tragedy to be honest. Such an amazing hour of television.

And wow -- that final scene. The master left alone with his "art." Seeing Walt die in the lab, reminiscing about his cooking days with that song playing in the background was perfect. Not only that but I loved how it wasn't a "crazy" death like his cancer eating away at him or some insane shoot out, but it was simply 1 bullet wound that slowly took his life. He knew it was coming and he was able to spend his last moments exactly how he wanted.

And who knows, I think his reputation stayed in tact as well because the cops found him in that lab. So maybe he will always be known as Heisenberg. Which is where his pride and joy was because he WAS truly an artist with his cooking.

And in the end, it was the only way to complete the show with Walt dying. It was perfect. I couldn't be happier and I thank you Vince Gilligan for closing every lingering story line and not leaving anything up for interpretation. It was so crisp & clear. So full circle. My life is honestly forever changed by this show. I feel lucky to have been able to catch it while it was airing live.

Thanks for a wild ride, BrBa. I love you forever <3

city of dreams

20130816-093232.jpg San Francisco has always had a piece of my heart. Not until this year though has the infatuation gone to the next level ;) I've explored the ins & outs, the rooftops & hideouts, and finally the eclectic music scene. Wow. Left in awe. I had the life changing chance to work here all summer and that has seriously been one of the best things that has happened to me. There's just something about this place that's unlike anywhere else. It's like a city with a secret, seductively luring you in to discover each gem for yourself.

#justforfun

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!

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