The Sunday summary

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

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

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

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

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Wedding day. (Photo Credit: Bryan Sargent Photography)

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First dance. (Photo Credit: Bryan Sargent Photography)

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

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

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

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It’s official – we’re homeowners!

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

My best friend’s wedding

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

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

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

 

#nedasbridalbash. (May 29, 2015)

 

The results of the “Kiss The Groom” game.

 

Bridesmaid Carrie serving sparkling apple cider for toasting.

Bridesmaid Carrie serves sparkling apple cider for toasting.

 

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

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

 

Photo board from the bridal shower.

Photo board from the bridal shower.

 

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

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

 

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

 

At the famed Pepsi Cola sign in Long Island City.

At the famed Pepsi Cola sign in Long Island City.

 

Bridesmaid Carrie and myself hamming it up between takes.

Bridesmaid Carrie and myself hamming it up between takes.

 

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

 

Adorable Totoro cake toppers made by our talented friend Candice!

 

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

 

Photo booth pic of the bride + her maids.

 

Photo display of the bride and groom.

 

#nedahenryforever

 

Receiving blessings during the Thai ceremony portion of the wedding.

 

Bride and groom dressed in Thai wedding garb.

The groom and bride dressed in Thai wedding garb.

 

The creativity dilemma

Happy belated New Year, everyone! Recently, while pulling an overnighter at work, with no one for company but the singers on my Spotify playlist, I found myself scribbling phrases and drawing doodles in a notepad. By the end of the night, I had written a poem which is somewhat indicative of where I am professionally. I enjoy what I do for the most part, but sometimes it becomes tedious and uninspiring. Take a gander at one of my workplace ramblings.

Pearl Street Blues

I avoid the clock like a plague,
Afraid to read the hands which dictate my fate.
The night is young, but I am not.
Silence makes me all too aware.
Tinny lyrics croon of wild imaginings
As I struggle to find my creative pulse.
This costume I wear constricts its flow.
When day breaks, I will dream in color
But until then there is darkness.
Boredom is a bi*ch.

While I wouldn’t describe myself as an artist, I do consider myself a creative person. When I used to write for a local newspaper, individuality was encouraged. In my current situation, the goal is to do the job to the best of my ability, but stay under the radar of my superiors, lest I get into trouble. That’s why I’ve kept this blog [fairly] updated – it’s my space for reflection, self-discovery, and imagination. Plus, I’m trying to keep my writing skills sharp – they may help me advance within the organization somewhere down the line.

On a lighter note: something I’ve been casually playing around with for awhile now is jewelry making. I like to “upcycle” old, unfashionable jewelry items into simple, wearable pieces. It doesn’t require too much skill, just a steady hand and an eye for pretty things. Armed with an old pair of pliers I found in my mom’s house, I twist metals and string beads to my heart’s content. So that’s my flavor of the month. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally pick up those oil pastels, acrylic paints, and canvas magnets sitting in the corner of my apartment.

 

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I’ve collected beads for years. I made these earrings as a friend’s Christmas gift.

 

 

I wore these earrings, made out of old necklaces, to a New Year’s Eve party.

 

 

A braided ring of metal wire and metallic seed beads.

 

 

The special occasion bracelet I reach for when I want sparkle, fashioned out of one of my sister’s broken earrings, and beads from an old faux pink pearl necklace.

 

 

I enter my late-20s next month, and this blog is all about doing things to get to a point where I’m comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution, so you’re hearing it here first: beginning in 2015, I pledge to be my most creative self, whether it be mentally, visually, artistically, musically, culinarily, or all of the above. My resolve will be put to the test as I help plan my best friend’s summer wedding and my own autumn wedding. Really looking forward to incorporating some of those awesome DIY details I’ve seen featured on so many blogs. Stay tuned to see if I stay true to my word. Commence the creativity challenge!

Holly after dentist

The lower part of my face has been swollen for days. I look like Quagmire from Family Guy!

The lower part of my face has been swollen for days. I look like Quagmire from Family Guy!

 

This past week, I took my second vacation. No trip planned this time, but 10 PAID days away from work sounded equally as appealing. So how exactly did I choose to spend my much anticipated stay-cation? Recovering from oral surgery, of course. I had all 4 of my impacted wisdom teeth removed in one visit, an intensive surgery requiring the oral surgeon to cut into my gums. I’ve heard many horror stories about the after math of this surgery, so I wanted to do it in one shot rather than splitting it up into multiple traumatizing experiences. One and done, folks!

The surgeon put me to sleep so I don’t remember a thing about the procedure, but I’ll never forget the recovery part of it. My face has been swollen for days, and at times it feels like someone punched me in the jaw. I have a hard time opening my mouth to shovel in food, but most of it I can’t even chew. I’m eating better than most oral surgery patients, though – turkey soup, congee, steamed rice rolls, hand pulled noodles with tripe, sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf. It makes me appreciate my Asian heritage even more. Man cannot live on bread and mashed potatoes alone!

The following is a series of photographs I found on my phone after that fateful dental visit, reminiscent of the “David after dentist” video on Youtube. My husband says I made him take these after my surgery because I wanted to see what my face looked like. I don’t even remember!

 

 

Aloha, a word that means hello and goodbye

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

A lookout point on the Road to Hana.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A handsome chimpanzee at the Honolulu Zoo.

O Canada! U R awesome!

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

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

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

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

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

The new mister and missus.

The new mister and missus.

The couple's first dance as husband and wife.

The couple’s first dance as husband and wife.

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

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

Toronto's Old City Hall.

Toronto’s Old City Hall.

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

Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square.

Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square.

On the Canadian side of the world famous Niagara Falls.

On the Canadian side of the world famous Niagara Falls.

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

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

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

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

The first 31 days of forever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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