when life gives you lemons. . .

you cure them. i’ll post in two weeks how they turn out!

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happy friday! i hope you all have a lovely *spring/holiday* weekend! also, i wanted to share this little bit of text since i’m aware of feeling this way sometimes. this is for all you outsiders looking in ;)

Some people will never “get you”. Do not spend eternity asking why. People will see you differently, just cherish those who lift your soul.” -Dodinsky

and a few links to explore:

1. diy naturally dyed easter eggs

2. scientists find earth’s first cousin?!

3. this new bb cream i’ll be talking about soon! smells like oranges and is super sheer!

sunshine sunday

good morning everyone! thanks for continuing to read even when my posting has been so sporadic lately. i really do appreciate that you all stop by and contribute thoughts/ideas/comments <3 it's also nice just to see you all check in and let me know how things are going with you as well! the world is simultaneously vast and tiny with our interconnectedness on the web!

next week is nate's birthday so it's totally appropriate to start the celebration week right? we used up a gift card we had here and i started with a tetsu old fashioned. this drink was bourbon + black sesame + orange bitters. perfect way to ring in the end of work week! next up, i chose this hamachi and uni sashimi plate before my main course. i love sea urchin (uni–orange bit on top of the hamachi)! have you ever tried it? it tastes brine-y like the sea and makes me feel like i’m at an oceanfront so i tend to gravitate towards those flavors. there was a black garlic aioli and blood orange slices to top it off. if you haven’t tried black garlic yet, you are missing out! it’s pretty sweet and mild tasting in terms of garlic—totally worth the dragon breath! it was so beautiful i had to take a picture:

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now that the weather is finally turning, we are starting to decorate a bit for spring! it’s our first in this old house and we are really loving it. some people don’t like small, old and creaky homes but i find them to be so comforting. they are usually pretty sturdy as well! i’m a huge believer in not living in more space than we need—plus it’s more to clean anyway! amirite?!

anyhow, i round this great little card from rifle paper co it’s simple but full of things i love and gets me in the gardening mood!

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we did a bit of urban gardening in our old apartment using rubber containers and grew some herbs but couldn’t produce anything of real value. now that we live in a house, we’re excited to get our hands dirty! you should buy your seeds from amazon because they tend to be cheaper than home stores and also you can get some really great recommendations for plant growth! so far, we have seeds for some cos, zucchini & tomatoes!

lastly, the return of outdoor running! i am not a serious runner by any stretch but i do enjoy going out for 20 or 30 mins if the weather is nice! this has been my favorite song lately and puts a huge smile on my face everytime! try it out:

how’s your weekend going? are you planning on any gardening this year? what’s your best green thumb tip?

it’s looking kinda dramatic

here we are again and we’ve arrived (finally !!) on a spring like weekend! i don’t even care that it’s typical pittsburgh cloud cover/rain. it.is.warm. we’re about to head out and get all of our asian market goodies (3 weeks and counting since i’ve been in a traditional american grocer).

i got to see neutral milk hotel play one night midweek and it was pretty incredible. they reunited after 10 yrs!! i pretty much felt like i was on top of this lite-brite-esque mountain range:

this weekend is off to a really nice start ^_* your turn. . .

march madness

truth be told, i’m not really into watching sports. aside from a small fling with ice hockey spectating, (namely for their cute bums) i discovered in my athletic training career that it just wasn’t for me. are any of you entertaining march madness brackets this year? i participated and won (accidentally) my work bracket a couple years ago by using historical statistics and just clicked autofill based on that haha. whatever works right?

march in pittsburgh has been reluctant to convert to that spring time fervor that all of us on the northeast coast have been so eager to experience. we’ve had a few glimmers of warmer weather and gasp. even some rays of sunshine in that blue sky! here’s a few tidbits of what we’ve been up to lately:

an xs men’s sweater on mega sale—i love unisex clothing!
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one of my favorite views
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this gorgeous veggie gratin we had along side a perfect roast chicken. recipe here. i just subbed the bread out since we were having white rice pilaf to keep it gluten free.
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$1 oysters and an after work cocktail with my love. we love the drinks & snacks here. it was the happiest hour <3
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and finally, a huge bouquet of snapdragons for $5! i love how much they brighten our home. welcome spring, we’re ready for you!
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what have you been up to lately? are you a sports lover?

boracay: a literal paradise

hi everyone! hope you all had a lovely holiday and weekend! in case you missed the trip recaps with photos, here’s tokyo & manila where we last left off.

ok. after the ceremony and reception, we headed to the after party which took us to pre-dawn and we had to catch our taxi at 5am! traffic in manila was fairly light and we got to the airport in 45mins. we made our way to the domestic terminal for our flight to boracay. we were able to find some chicken congee and settle our tummies before our short 1 hour flight. if you haven’t ever had congee for breakfast, try it! it’s incredibly savory and comforting and also gluten free!

our flight went by quickly and i thought we were going to land in the water because the airstrip at caticlan was so tiny! that was pretty entertaining to watch as we touched down. we immediately retrieved our carry on luggage (no full size luggage is allowed due to weight restraints—we even had to step on the scales ourselves prior to flight so they could balance the plane)!

we had no idea the pampering that was in store for us. we stayed at the shangri-la boracay and my goodness, they know how to treat you right! the level of service made me feel like a celebrity! their staff immediately grabbed our bags, whisked us onto a private air conditioned van and took us to a fancy lobby station where we were served drinks and had free wifi until our private speed boat arrived?! those staying in other hotels had to take a group shuttle and ferry ride to their respective destinations. honestly, it was difficult not to feel guilty for the amount of special treatment we were given for staying at the shangri-la. everything from our check-in to room accommodation was impeccably timed, clean and above and beyond our wildest expectations.

the food and drinks were incredible, the staff were knowledgeable/friendly, and whatever food/drink/service imaginable could be acquired or accommodated. anyway, i will let the pictures do the talking!

one of three infinity pools
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white sand beach!
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our view at the shisha bar watching the sunset
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what a typical breakfast looked like for me (i really love miso soup/wakame + poached eggs first thing)!
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our last night at the beach with campari soda + lime & that view
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can i go back now please? x

not that kind of green

hi everyone! many of you are probably celebrating st paddy’s day right now. it’s been another busy week and i promise to have our boracay experience up soon! in the meantime, i’ll share some green items making my weekend a little more special.

i wore my green today even though i’m not even the minuscule bit irish:
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1. i snagged a ‘luck of the tuck’ deal my local pure barre studio was running! 4 classes at 50% off! that is a steal, and considering i haven’t been in the studio since last year; figured it would be a nice opportunity to get a little motivated in the fitness department!

2. this little red flower japan sento set. it sounds like an absolutely luxe treatment for face/body!

3. here’s my lunch today: homemade kimchi-stuffed onigiri with furikake seasoning. i’ve been eating primarily vegetarian/sometimes vegan since we got home from the trip. it’s just kind of been what i’ve been craving and we have a ridiculously good asian market that serves their fresh made tofu (3 huge blocks for $1)!! we are saving so much money by making southeast asian food, i’m shocked but happy! my diet has been largely comprised of white rice, mung bean noodles, lots of dark leafy greens, sea vegges & sesame products with some tofu.
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4. lastly, have you heard the new beck album?! he is BACK in a big way! i saw him at bonnaroo in 2006 and i have to say, this is his best work since sea change. i’ve been listening to him since i was in 8th grade! if you like singer-songwriter style, check out this album ‘morning phase!’ if you have spotify, listen to it here.

ok, enjoy your weekend and be safe! see you soon with the boracay recap :) x-melissa

manila: my friend’s wedding

nearly eight years ago, many memories were being made at the university nate and i attended. within our tight knit circle, was a mutual friend who eventually ended up being a groomsman in our wedding! shortly after our wedding, he returned to his home country in the philippines. we’ve kept in touch over the years and missed him very much! we’d even heard about ‘the girl’ during our university days and i’d always wanted to meet this special woman.

whether or not you believe in the idea of a soul mate or cosmic forces beyond our control, “C” was a witness to the early days of nate and i’s relationship. perhaps we are all lost romantics— but in some ways, it’s what makes this life so magical. when word came to us that he was engaged to “B,” we were ecstatic! it’s not often that you hear about a love story like theirs, one full of risks, time and fate. you are either all in, or you aren’t.

shortly following the announcement, “C” messaged about the long shot possibility of coming to manila for the wedding in 2014. full disclosure: my heart leapt! we have missed him so much! the thought of being able to reciprocate and share in his wedding was in my mind, a no brainer! my more rational/logistic side aka nate sat me down to discuss the important details. we didn’t take vacation in 2013 because we were busy fixing up our old home. this did help us save a significant portion of funds and i am usually quite thrifty anyway. i’m a dreamer who loves to save for just this kind of occasion! you guys know travel is my #1 priority and i’ll live modestly all year long just to be able to experience these ‘life changing/meaningful moments!’

once we decided we were all-in for this epic journey, nate accepted the invite to being a groomsman. the six months or so that passed between the initial decision and actually executing the trip flew by so quickly! having the holidays thrown in during that time definitely helped move things along at light speed.

i’ll spare you all the nitty, gritty travel details but basically, it only took 5 hours to get to manila from tokyo and the scene in manila was much different than tokyo! TRAFFIC! omg. i’ll never complain about my commute again! there was quite a bit of pollution, the air was about 80F and it was very humid! it felt very tropical and mosquitos loved to bite my legs haha.

“C” picked us up from the airport with his brother (who is hilarious btw) and we got settled and headed out for dinner to try some filipino foods and meet “B” after all these years! so filipino food is DELICIOUS! try sinigang, sisig or beef tapa to start. so many flavors and savory textures! we had halo-halo for dessert which is unlike anything i’ve ever tasted in the states. it’s quite a cluster of stuff, read the wiki i linked!

anyhow i could go on about this trip for ages and i’ve already subjected you to a wall of text so on to a condensed version of the wedding! they had a gorgeous day of mostly sunshine and about 80F with a light breeze! the venue was at the mango farm and it was breathtaking!! go visit the site for far better pictures than i can give you from my iPhone!
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the wedding was game of thrones themed but only subtle touches as it was a traditional ceremony. nate was a literal giant so he wasn’t hard to pick out in the crowd. even i was ‘tall’ at 5’4.5 compared to most of the women at the wedding!

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the string quartet were wonderfully talented and played the GoT theme song as the stunning “B” made her way down the aisle. random tangent: she is the CUTEST and perfect counterpart for “C!” i am so happy they got married because it was so easy to tell after only meeting her the day before and spending a little time that they are made for each other :) her dress as was his tux were custom made…is it not breathtaking?!

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the reception was insanely fun! i mean…the FOOOOOOOOD. holy crap. this is by far the nicest wedding i will ever attend in my lifetime! sushi bar? entire roasted calf? lamb chops? WHHHHHHHAT?!

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the cake alone was quite a spectacle—look at the size?! (TWSS)
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this was the beginning of a very long day (we ended up being awake for 40hrs) because…these friends know how to celebrate! more on that later! however, we knew that this was in our future to relax so we pushed through ;)

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to be continued. . .

tokyo 2014

where to begin?! let me preface this by saying the trip consisted of 9 total flights, several shuttles, trains and water taxis. it was worth, every single exhausted moment x10. when that hypothetical/mythical figure says, you can sleep when you’re dead, it’s the truth. somehow, deep down you summon the stamina, patience and mental fortitude to continue pressing on and making decisions even when you think you can’t.

choosing life is exactly that, a choice. each of us is given a finite amount of time to accomplish the things we set out to do. how are you making your moments count? ok, now that we’ve got the philosophy portion of the post aside, let’s delve in shall we?

after approximately 24hrs of travel, we arrived fresh off a train into shinjuku station (the world’s busiest metro). oh yeah and we can’t read kanji. delirious, and hauling our luggage out to the street around 11pm to find our hotel, we spotted a taxi. we hailed him and hopped in only to find that he didn’t know where our hotel was either even though it was 0.2mi away. lesson #1, there are no street names in tokyo. also, try figuring out a toilet when you are sleep deprived and it has a 100 buttons on it?! i DID love that all the seats were heated though….man that was nice haha. especially after freezing our butts off in the cold/windy weather whilst exploring :)
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after some crazy hand gesturing/smoke signals and other nonsense, we arrived safely to our room. we stayed at the hotel century southern tower and i highly recommend it! the staff were friendly, helpful and the rooms were huge and clean! pro tip: request a room at the top of the building to get a choice view (we stayed on the 32nd floor and the view blew my mind every single day).
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our trip to toyko was a bit of an extended layover to our final destination(s) in the philippines. however, we have a (chef!) friend from university who is half japanese who found her way back to japan a month ago to pursue new opportunities in the city. she kindly met us for sweet hang outs every day and was an amazing guide around shinjuku, ginza and shibuya. we would have been completely lost without her help and never would have been functional enough to ride the train. there was no english!

our first day, she took us to a tiny suburb where we had the most incredible tasting menu lunch prepared gluten free for us! it was a traditional style meal called washoku and my favorite meal of the entire trip! it contained an incredible array of textures, temperatures and flavors that i hope i never forget! there was a black sesame jelly on the left, a rehydrated tofu/daikon/carrot soup, stuffed fish in cabbage, a sweet egg thing, the best miso i’ve ever had and some mackerel in a tiny thimble!
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it also made me more obsessed with pickles (oshinko) and tea (ocha).
can you spot the kabocha?!
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if you ever want to get your shop on, go to tokyo! i have never seen more luxury stores in my life—even in the train stations! every high end designer you could possibly think of exists in actual stores there. think lanvin, chanel, kenzo, louis vuitton, cartier etc. the department stores are of epic proportions and seem to go on forever! gourmet grocers are found in most of the basements of these department high rises as well. need that shopping fuel :) or you can just wear a squid hat…
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ginza is a very wealthy area of tokyo and we had quite a sashimi feast…the scallops were like literal candy they were so sweet!
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we also found our way to this incredible and hidden little basement bar called lupin. if you go to ginza, you MUST go here! the bar tender takes his cocktail making very seriously and the atmosphere is bar none (pun intended). read about the history of lupin here.
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and of course, i had to have a lost in translation moment and cross shibuya while looking all around! what a crossing, yet somehow it was so calm. the people never seem rushed, stressed or anxious. it was a totally surreal moment!
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ok i could go on forever with this recap but i’m going to stop and just open it to you guys to ask me some questions about it and i’ll answer in the comments! i shrunk the pic sizes so as not to overwhelm you when loading. you can just click them to make them larger to view. hope you enjoyed part 1 of this leg of our incredible journey! x-m

the return to normal…sort of

hi everyone! thank you for all the well wishes while we were away. thankfully, our trip home was mostly a boring one (no real issues to report and our luggage never got lost once even after 9 plane rides!!) i’ve got a bit of the post trip blues…sort of feels like this:
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however, my gratitude and thankfulness for this life would be the understatement of the year. i’m gathering my things and uploading lots of photos! i’ll be back hopefully tomorrow with the first post from tokyo! see you soon <3

'the woman who doesn’t need validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.’ -mohadesa najumi

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