festive family photos

my family doesn't have the opportunity to be together often- since we are spread out --- three families in northern california, two families in utah and one [us] in new york city.
i'm super glad we got these photos- even though everyone's face is tiny- and getting tinier with the ever expansion of the family.

and well. i just love my family.
all my families.

my side.
ben's side.
my friend family.
my work family.

ain't family grand?!


the kids made christmas

we were in saint george, utah for christmas this year. with my side of the fam. we have nine nieces and nephews on my side. yep, nine! ranging in age from 2 months to 7.5 years. i can say without hesitation i love all the kids so much- i look forward each time to getting to know their personalities better (all their personalities are all so distinctive). and there is a certain amount of learning that comes from having little kids around- i know much more so when the kids are yours, but for now i am grateful to learn important lessons with the little ones around.

lessons like:
share, eat your dinner before dessert, get sleep to be in a good mood, say sorry when you have wronged someone, hug and kiss your loved ones, get outside and enjoy the outdoors, say thank you often, when you gotta go you gotta go, play as often as you can, read books,
et cetera.

and i hope
to carry
these lessons with me
this next year.


year in review.

what a year. maybe the "biggest" yet?

i am too lazy to do a whole bona fide - blogified year in review. ...is it laziness or just ironic creativity? i guess you'll never know!!

what have i learned this year?

grad school is hard. but rewarding and emotional.

presenting a paper at a conference is nerve wracking.
but then traveling in portugal, the canary islands and spain afterwards is worth it.

travel is my favorite thing- that is if it's with ben

asia. i learned that i don't blend in in asia! and that it's laborious to travel to places that my body is not acclimatized too. but, to spend that time with ben and to experience all that in five weeks. wow. just wow.
india, bali malaysia cambodia, thailand, hong kong china skorea japan.

law school is hard. but rewarding and emotional. and craziness.

living in new york city is out of control, incredible, humbling and just all around spaztastic.

dc is a totally undervalued city.
and i love it. just love it. and miss it. mucho.

our nyc harlem apartment ROCKS.

birthdays in our family are all about food.

fewer flowers make me happier than magnolia blossoms in dc.

cape cod is beautiful. even in november.

peanut butter cup pie
best. dessert. ever.

i lovevermont.

the most amazing food experience: the inn at little washington (virginia).

crying in public can be beautiful.

finding our first manhattan christmas tree could have been much easier than we made it out to be.


more hershey weekend

more from our weekend in hershey, pa.

not only was it nice to just hang out together (finally, because ben finished finals last week)- we just sort of took it easy which we rarely do on vacation. and we got to learn about hershey's milk chocolate and how it's made. it's all sort of funny. especially when the world of chocolate tour says, "the milk in the chocolate makes it extra healthy for you!" ha.
well actually... it's the natural dark chocolate that is good for you but who cares! it's all delicious!

the peanut butter cup pie deserved its own photo because it was a peanut butter cup pie- with tiny peanut butter chips in the yummy pie. i'll go back to hershey for that. and the j.crew outlet.

what would you do for a j.crew outlet store? walk 3 miles, 1.5 of that uphill in the cold cold with cars zooming past (no sidewalks in hershey).

then there were the parts when we got to dress up a little for dinners with my coworkers.

and the part when we dressed festively and sort of matching (not on purpose) and posed in front of the menorah and the christmas tree.


weekend in cute town, pa (hershey, pennsylvania)

(that last shot is nyc... our home)

over the weekend, my cute company hung out in hershey, pa. i am always up for discovering a new place, especially a place that is chocolate themed.

mini hershey's kisses pancakes
cocoa oil massage
cocoa bean soap
hot cocoa
chocolate crème brûlée
chocolate fountains
chocolate cannoli
the world of chocolate
the chocolate story museum
and my favorite - peanut butter cup pie (did you know hershey's owns reese's? best. ever.)

needless to say there was a lot of chocolate involved.

and i even got to take a nap. a nap! now that was nice.


eternal life is super fun [aka the book of mormon musical]

{{the hottest ticket in town is the book of mormon musical. after entering the lottery (for tickets to the show) many many times (emily:15 times, ben:10 times) we had sort of given up and gotten to the point where we wanted to save all our money so we could spent it all on a couple seats. sounds crazy right?
but lucky us… my two cousins came to town for 48 hours for the sole purpose of seeing book of mormon. which meant they waited in the “standing room” line – all day. literally. because of their kindness and diligence they picked up tickets for us too— and they were less than $30 each (a complete STEAL). and we only stood for the first half of the show. (even though it’s always sold out, people just don’t show up sometimes. thanks for that!)}}

i knew ahead of time that the musical is crass, offensive and completely amazing. celebs like jon stewart, olivia wilde and zooey deschanel all had said they LOVED it. not to mention the many tonys and the extensive amount of press the show received.

...although it was all those things -crass, offensive and amazing- it was definitely NOT anti-mormon.

and i went in expecting the worst, so i came out of it not so offended.

blah blah blah the reasons i loved the show:
there are so many hilarious things in it that you only understand if you are mormon (and some things you would only understand if you served a mormon mission). and for that, there were multiple times ben and i were the only people laughing in the audience.
the story is genius and clever and very powerful. without giving too much away, the story begins with mormon missionaries at the missionary training center in utah (where many missionaries go before they are sent into “the field” for missionary teaching and work). the two main characters are called to serve in uganda. needless to say this is an adjustment for the white, 19-year-old, bright-eyed and naive young missionaries.

the show addresses serious and real issues like
aids, female circumcision, fatal illnesses, the myth that sex with a virgin will cure your aids, extreme poverty, warlords, et cetera. (i was laughing to myself because earlier that day my coworker and i were complaining about our catered lunch and how it didn’t taste very good. “white person problems,” i said.)
i was impressed and glad the show addressed these things (and i think that’s part of the reason people find it offensive) because i feel like a lot of westerners don’t know about many of those issues or choose to ignore them.
they are real.
and this is a big reason i loved it. because most musicals are about finding your red slippers, making it in business or falling in love with an opera phantom.

i especially loved the theme that as a mormon or a member of any religion or as a human being, you must ask why? why are we asked to live a certain way? dress a certain way? eat a certain way?
without getting too opinionated- take the health code for mormons- (such a hot topic for me). it makes sense to have a health code, it’s good to be healthy but such a code can be interpreted SO differently by everyone.
so for example: our friend was talking about when he was out with work friends who were all drinking and smoking (against the mormon health code) but he pointed out he himself was eating a cheeseburger and drinking a milkshake and some soda- which is probably just as bad for you...
just something to think about.

the show also made me think a lot about how the church and its gospel is great but the church’s people are flawed. and that is the biggest struggle i see. we can’t base our faith on how many friends we do or don’t have at church or how often we do something “right” or “wrong”.
one of the songs sung by one of the missionaries says, “i believe, because mormons just believe.” and in reality, i think that is true. a lot of mormons believe just to believe. but we should do more than to just believe - so ask why? why do i believe? what is it that i believe? is it because my mom believed it? my dad? it has to be for me.

during the show when i felt uncomfortable that i am mormon:
that same song, “i believe” says, “i believe that in 1978, God changed his mind about black people.” this is when african or african american men were given the opportunity to hold the priesthood in the church. i cringed because it’s true.

everything that was said about mormons and the church was true. and a lot of it was painfully true.

we have a friend in our ward (our church congregation) that said, "i have a strong enough testimony to see the book of mormon musical." and it made us laugh- because it's kind of like you have to have a wide enough perspective to laugh at yourself and realize there are peculiarities about any culture- any religion.

and with that i mean, the book of mormon musical is not for everyone.

i could obviously go on forever. but i wanted to share my thoughts – even to this blogger void – because it’s something that is important to me.

the mormon church is very important to me- just like any family member- i love it with all my heart, but it has flaws and issues and it makes me mad sometimes- but most of the time we get along great and i love it. and we are best friends forever.

lottery: $32 (must have photo ID with you).
standing room: $27 – depending on the day of week, show up early (even earlier on weekends), i mean like 9am. you can enter the lottery if you are in the standing room line.
more info here.

photo from ny times review.

see my other (short) broadway reviews here.


season's greetings from harlem!

matchy matchy cute cute.

sometimes we can't resist matching because it's just so darn cute. and cozy.

p.s. i love this man.

christmastime in the city.

occupy north pole (gingerbread)
gingerbread typewriter = best. ever.
trump and bergdorf
henri bendel (the jelly bean dress)
fun projection show on a building near rockefeller center
it was totally raining the night we went to see the shop windows and the gingerbread houses (at le parker meridien hotel).

but we had made the effort to get down there and so it was worth it just to look at the fun windows and the rockefeller tree.
i haven't been in new york in december before so it was magical.

even though it was raining and i got sort of mad at the end but that's only because the bus took forever to arrive.

and i like to be with ben. especially in crazy finals time. because it feels like i am stealing him away from his second love: law school. and i am.


a secret restaurant :: hudson clearwater

hudson clearwater is a secret little restaurant in the west village. i love the west village. and i now i love hudson clearwater. even once you find the second green door, there is a small back garden that leads to the tiniest of restaurants -you can see we sat at the bar where the kitchen was. the kitchen!- and it is crowded as all get out because that word of mouth is spreading fast. make a reservation. (thanks jo for the recommendation.)
we sat in the only secluded corner in the restaurant, thankfully. so we just chatted, shared our food and stared as the chefs made the food like it was no big deal (it is).

the food is fancy (like butter clams and gnocchi or crispy duck or apple tarte tatin) but is not so expensive you gasp. in fact, it's very impressively priced (our entrees we around $20).

i loved everything about the place, even the tiny bathrooms (where you have to hold your breath to get through the door).

new york is made of tiny restaurants but a tiny, hidden restaurant in the west village?
on our walk back to the subway after dinner we dreamed of someday moving to the west village (where all the celebs and fancy people live)--- we'd probably have to live in a shoe box but we'd be near some of the best restaurants in the city. we'd be happy.
what could be better?


caroline visits.

the majority of our walk route

friday 12/2
11pm caroline arrives
we get to the apartment and talk until 12:30am

saturday 12/3
wake up. take subway to theater district.
9:15-10am stand in line for bonnie and clyde broadway rush tickets.
walk from 45th and 8th ave to highline. through chelsea market. through chelsea to union square. (ate our lunch) to soho. (some shopping) through chinatown to lower east side. (doughnut... tenement museum) subway to theater district. dinner with ben. bonnie and clyde on broadway (oh the talent!). sleeeeep.

sunday 12/4
brunch with caroline, ben, fissin (caroline's cousin).
a bus ride in harlem.
a walk through harlem- including walking to the top of mt morris/marcus garvey park. the views were lovely!

thanks so much for coming caroline! i loved that we walked about 7 miles (literally) and talked and talked. about the important stuff.
caroline came up from dc- where we met and fell in love (friend love, dur :)) we had one of the best professors ever together so we (or i) like to say, "what would todd do?" todd was a hero and always will be.

so glad we rode the same metro train home after women's studies classes so we could become close forever.

i'm loving this constant flow of visitors :)


the -more than- adventure finding a christmas tree in new york city

it's all started when we were on the lower east side for a thing.
and then the east village for a slice.
and then we saw a cute tree for $35 and ben said, we can do better.
turns out we couldn't. another place in the east village was charging $60 for the same tree.
then on the upper east side at 3 or 4 different places the prices went from $50-$65.

and then... well on our wearied walk home from the subway, i said "let's stop at the park to see if they have trees."

and of course they did. just a mere block from our apartment. a tree. for sale. for $30. (an amazing price, for a tree in manhattan--- now we know that.)

christmas trees bring a lot of holiday cheer. it is especially needed when one of us is in finals (ben). ben is a super smart guy. he has a lot in the brain of his. and... this is just my way of saying i am proud of him. and i think he'll do amazingly well on his first semester law school finals. fingers crossed. (ben's mom, who also attended law school said her mantra was, "this too shall pass and so will i." 'tis true, 'tis true.)

happy holidays. happy trees. happy holiday cheer. happy finals...

p.s. do you know how to get sap off your hands? rub some olive oil on the sappy parts- then wash well with soap and warm water. totally works.
p.p.s. gothamist newsblog does a tree vendor map every year. it's helpful --- although it doesn't include the blessed harlem location where we found our tree (mt morris/marcus garvey park at 124th and madison avenue). and keep in mind, sometimes vendors will bargain tree price with you.