giving thanks

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This year, I had an unorthodox Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that I have so much to be thankful for. Even though I’m 3,000 miles away from my family, I know how lucky I am to be where I am, and I’m so grateful for all the blessings this year has brought me. And after all, I did celebrate Thanksgiving – albeit two weeks early. My parents scrambled together all the family they could (not to mention an amazing feast) so that I would be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner while I was home back in the beginning of November. I got to do all of my favorite holiday rituals like making the pumpkin pie (although my mom always makes the crust – she’s the best at it!) and setting the table. It was definitely a highlight of my much needed trip home. So whether you’re with or without your family today, reflect on the things you’re grateful for and most of all have a happy Thanksgiving!

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magic

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The other night, after FaceTiming with my nieces, a realization struck me – the sun was about to set and that night was a full moon. Shooting up out of my bed, I knew there was only one place I wanted to go – this little secret spot I discovered on one of my many afternoon strolls through the city. One day, I’d stumbled across George Sterling Park, which I soon realized (after climbing three sets of steep stairs) had one of the best views of the Golden Gate in the city. That’s the thing about San Francisco, you always have to work to get anywhere – but once you do it’s 100% worth it – the views from the tops of the hills in this city are breathtaking. After staring at the view for a while, I left the park, and walked uphill even farther until I reached Lombard (aka the windiest road in the world). Instead of walking down it’s twist and turns, I went the opposite direction down Hyde towards Fisherman’s Wharf. I don’t know what made me turn left at the unassuming sidewalk in front of the Norwegian Church, but my life will be forever changed because I did. What seems like a sidewalk leading to nowhere (except someones yard that I was undoubtedly trespassing on) led to an incredible panoramic view of the city like I had never seen before. In the daylight it was spectacular, and that night, with the full moon, I knew it would be even more amazing. I have to say, despite how happy I am with how these pictures turned out, it could never replicate the feeling of standing on that random concrete path in some rich person’s yard and thinking what a magical place this city is and how blessed I am to even witness the beauty it holds.

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how they live: relaxed hippie bungalow

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It is not sunny in the Bay area today. In fact, it’s been gloomy and rainy since yesterday. Perhaps this dreary weather is the reason why I find this Southern California bungalow so appealing.The rooms are filled with bright sunshine, there are lots of green plants, and the earth tone color of the interiors are calm and inviting. Not to mention that closet space (a wide open room dedicated to colorful maxi dresses and a seat lined with fur?!?!) is what dreams are made of. But probably my favorite part of this house is the outdoor living space – which looks perfect for soaking up those glorious sun rays. Now someone get me to SoCal stat!

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commuter essentials

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Desktop14Today marks a milestone in my life – I start my first full-time job and I couldn’t be more excited! But because my new position is outside of the city, I’ll be doing some variation of walking/busing/riding the train everyday. So what better way to celebrate my new commuter lifestyle by going shopping for some of the things that will make my transition into the real world easier? After consulting with numerous friends who have been doing the whole commuter thing for a while now (I’m so late to the game) I came up with this list of must-have items for my new morning and evening routine. Some of them I’ve already purchased (like the Fossil bag – it was so hard to choose which one I wanted, Fossil has totally upped their game recently!) and some of them are still wants (the bike – hello, Christmas present!) but I’m convinced all of them will make my new full work day that much better.

1/a bag that can carry it all :: 2/a travel mug for on-the-go tea :: 3/a lightweight bike :: 4/a cute lunch bag :: 5/a comfortable walking shoe :: 6/a stylish pouch to hold train tickets/bus passes :: 7/extra phone chargers :: 8/grab + go snacks

a trip home

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The beginning of November was a whirlwind for me. After accepting an awesome job offer, I jetted back to the East Coast for the first time in three months to spend some time with my family before the hustle and bustle of the real world began. Ten days at home was just what I needed – I was able to enjoy an early Thanksgiving feast with my family, have a sleepover with my nieces, go out in DC with my best friends from college, and get some quality rest. Perhaps my favorite part of being home (other than driving my beloved yellow submarine) was basking in the glory of the East Coast autumn. On my first full afternoon home, I took a long walk down the road I grew up on, which I used to run all the time when I lived there. Back then, I needed my iPod blaring in order to be motivated enough to run the full three mile loop, but this time I left my headphones at home. After living in a city for a while, something about the quiet stillness of country life is inexplicably appealing and I didn’t want anything to get in the way of me enjoying it.

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happy halloween!

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Georgetown Cupcake  9/15//2009 photos by Dayna Smith

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As a kid, I loved Halloween. I have fond memories of getting dressed up, eating pizza and popcorn balls at my babysitter’s house, and then going door- to-door in her neighborhood because the farm I grew up on wasn’t conducive to trick-or-treating. I remember being so excited when the first children of the night would run up to her door, costumed and elated, and we would get to hand out candy to them before we left to do our own scavenging. Somewhere along the way though, Halloween lost its luster and I’m (sort of) ashamed to say that these days, the only thing I like about Halloween is the candy. Horror films freak me out, carving pumpkins is too messy, and I just don’t particularly like dressing up in costumes. Yes, candy is the only thing about Halloween that I truly enjoy anymore. But don’t fret, I won’t ruin the holiday for those of you who love it with a rant about my anti-Halloween tendencies. Instead, I’ll share these beautiful Halloween-esque photos with you and wish you a safe and happy all Hallow’s Eve!

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fall in san francisco

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The weather in San Francisco is sort of always the same. Days are always cool and brisk, the sun always shines at some point, and more often than not, the fog rolls in by mid-evening, blanketing the streets in mist. So when my sister asked the other afternoon on the phone if it was turning to fall here, I couldn’t really say yes or no for sure. It’s kind of always fall here except for the foliage – some leaves change but for the most part, flowers are still blooming and trees are still green. But yesterday morning, I made a point of taking a really long stroll around the city to see what true signs of fall I could find. And I’m happy to report that I found stoops decorated with pumpkins, mums planted in flower pots, and fake spiderwebs lining the bushes – just like back East.

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10 reasons i need a floppy hat ASAP

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I was at my friend’s apartment in Lower Haight the other night getting ready for a Halloween party when I spotted it: an adorable mid-sized black floppy hat that was just perfect. I’m pretty sure I gasped and claimed that I wanted to steal it. But because I already had my flapper headpiece on for my costume (complete with a feather) I did no such thing. I’m such a fan of hats right now though, especially ones of the floppy variety. I prefer the “mid-sized” floppy hats – that are floppy but not TOO floppy. I think this is the most I’ve ever said that word in my life. Anyway, I am pretty sure it’s the most amazing and versatile cold weather accessory there is and I need to invest in one ASAP!

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how they live: simple parisian flat

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There is just something so elegant about the simplicity of apartments in Paris. From my travels there, I remember being so enamored by the architecture of the buildings, and so pleasantly surprised when I stepped inside apartments that were simple and quirky. When we visited the apartment of my professor’s old professor (from when she studied there in the 60s) I fell in love with the floor-to-ceiling book shelves and the wide windows overlooking the tops of the buildings. But the furnishings were simple – well-made chairs and couches that looked as if they had lasted (and would last) a lifetime. It’s an unfussy way of decorating, there are no frills and everything has it’s own purpose. Julie Arrue’s apartment in Paris is no different and I find it absolutely charming.

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reading list

One of the best decisions I’ve made recently was joining the San Francisco Public Library. I’ve always loved books and consider myself an avid reader but lately I’m also a girl on a budget (yikes!) and books are expensive. But on the same page, something freaked me out about belonging to a library in the city (hello germs! and flu season!) and I was reluctant to go in and sign up for a card. But to my pleasant surprise, its actually been an amazing resource for someone like me. I’ve come to love visiting the different branches (there are three within walking distance to me) and I find the selection of books to be better than the local library back home. This past Saturday, I took a beautiful walk down to the branch on Chestnut Street and had to stop myself from checking out ten different books. Here are the ones I did pick up:

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I’ve seen this book cover seemingly everywhere for the past year, but never picked it up to read until just now – and boy am I glad I did. It’s the memoir of twenty-something Cheryl who after experiencing the death of her mother and a messy divorce shorty thereafter, decides to go on a soul-searching, 1,100 mile solo-hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mojave Desert in California and Oregon to Washington State. Cheryl’s story is plagued by demons from her past (hard to read at some points – the beginning of the book is pretty dark) but reassures us with the fact that with a little self-exploration and reflection, we can all forge better trails for ourselves in the future. The book is filled with vivid details of the great, rugged American West, as well as entertaining anecdotes about the people Cheryl meets along the way. I also just discovered via this article, that the book is being made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon playing the leading lady!

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A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler: Ah, Zelda! That jazz-loving, hard-partying, semi-psychotic wife of famous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a true legend. Her life in the 1920s jazz era rivals the Paris Hilton’s and Lindsay Lohan’s of today, making her one of the very first American socialites to captivate the public. I’ve been dying to get my hands on more info about her ever since I decided that I’d follow the advice of this Thought Catalog entry and live my summer exactly as Zelda would have. Well, I definitely deviated (sadly) from that plan, but my interest in her never waned. At first, I was disappointed when I realized that this book was a novel (ie: fiction) but the story of her life and her love with F. Scott, as well as their time in Paris among the literary elite of the 1920s, is still intriguing and interesting no matter how embellished.

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The Letters of Ernest Hemingway (1907-1922) by Sandra Spanier & Robert W. Trogdon:  My last semester of college, I took an English course dedicated solely to the works of Ernest Hemingway and truthfully, it was my favorite class of my undergraduate career. His works opened my eyes to an amazing era and style of writing that I’m not sure can ever fully be replicated by anyone in the modern day. I became fascinated (as does almost everyone who reads Hemingway) with his life, and the time period in which he lived. So when I found this volume of letters, which my professor had recommended, it was a no brainer for me to check out. I’m intrigued by letter writing in general (I’m probably one of the only people alive that still sends snail mail), and to read the personal letters of a man I truly admire through his important formative years is truly amazing. One of my favorite lines so far: Hemingway writes, in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Or dont you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet you feel you’ve done something”. My sentiments exactly.

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An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin: When I first picked up this book, I had no idea it was written by the Steve Martin. As in the actor. As in the hottest banjo-playing, silver fox that ever existed. And once I did figure it out, I almost placed it directly back on the shelf. What does he know about writing anyway? He’s just an actor and comedian, right? Wrong. Steve Martin can write, and captivatingly so. His story of Lacey Yaeger, a young and charming fixture in the New York City art world is told through the eyes of a man who simply can’t get her out of his head. From her rise to the top of elite circles to the dark ways in which an industry based on beauty can effect those within it, this story acts as insight into a exclusive world that few ever break in to.

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