Summer 2015 Favorites

I’m trying to ease my way back into my regular schedule… or at least posting at all… it’s obviously not going great. (As per usual, my roadblock in getting Florida posts up is the photo editing/uploading. LE SIGH.)

Before I even realized what was happening, July ended, and then August skipped by? Whoa. It’s been yet another crazy summer for me, so I thought I’d share a few things that have helped me through the chaos.

Sense8

I first heard about this new Netflix Original Series at the beginning of June and was instantly interested. The trailer was super cool and I was immediately drawn in by the premise of these 8 people in 8 different cities who are emotionally and mentally connected.

This is maybe my new favorite show to push other people to watch. It is really unlike most other shows that I’ve seen. First of all, the characters are incredibly interesting. They’re so different from each other and have amazing depth to each and every one. You really feel very committed and invested in all 8 of them and their individual stories. But what is even more interesting is how the show links the characters together. Two characters on opposite sides of the world may be facing completely different circumstances, but they share a core dilemma and that brings them together. The show also deals with a lot of issues that more mainstream shows shy away from. The emotional stakes are really high, and even though the overarching story of the season doesn’t really kick off until episode 9 (it’s ridiculous, I know), I promise you it’s worth that slow burn.

PLUS the show is gorgeous. The cinematography is beautiful. You have this wanderlust from visiting Berlin and Mumbai and Nairobi and Iceland and Chicago and Mexico City and more. And it’s a really cool blend of different cinematic styles. You want a Bollywood dance sequence? Done. Excessive action sequence? Okay. Buddy cop? There’s a bit of that. Comedy? EDM? Done, done. Whatever you want, this show HAS IT. God, it’s such a good show. I’m tempted every day to rewatch the season.

New Phone Apps

When I downloaded these apps at the beginning of the summer, I had planned on doing a post about them but that’s one of many drafts that I started this summer and never got out. I think it was actually meant to be one of the monthly favorites, oops. (Let me know if this is one of the posts you still want me to publish?) Essentially, I decided to shake up some of most-used apps by switching to better-looking ones that had better features.

  • Sunrise Calendar: This is a really great-looking calendar app that has great external app integration (in fact, Sunrise is what led me to get Wunderlist) and a superb Android widget
  • Wunderlist: Even though I’ve been using the same to-do website/app for over 10 years, it was time to move on to one that better suited my needs. Wunderlist has a great user interface and features that I regularly use like repeating tasks, separate reminders and due dates, and more.
  • 1Weather: In the midst of switching apps, I decided I needed a better-looking weather app also and was led to 1Weather by the folks at Lifehacker. 1Weather is simple but looks so good and tells me everything I need and more without inundating my screen with meteorological data. Icons for Sunrise Calendar, Wunderlist, and 1Weather

Ant-Man Promo

Honestly, even if you have no interest in watching Ant-Man (which I would recommend you do watch, it was a fun movie), you should just watch this trailer. It’s 15 seconds of your life that you won’t want back, featuring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. Enjoy.

Vanilla Milk Alternatives

This seems very specific, but basically I really liked vanilla-flavored soy and almond milks, and I feel like I would probably like other vanilla-flavored products as well? (I know I’ve seen cashew and coconut milk in the same section.) I don’t like milk very much at all, but I tried some vanilla soy creamer at the beginning of the summer and really loved it with:

  1. Twinings Earl Grey decaf tea, for a London Fog-style treat in the evening
  2. Javazen Original, cold-brewed, for a delicious iced coffee

Buying a big ol’ carton just to flavor tea or iced coffee seemed a bit silly, but so did repeatedly buying the tiny cartons of creamer. So, I now have a big ol’ carton and am able to drink it straight up or use it for…

Chia Pudding

Basically, I’ve been really curious about this “super food” trend for a while now because it seemed like the gelatinous form that chia seeds take on in puddings would be yummy. I bought a bag when it was on sale and it was the perfect time to use my new milk alternatives. This is a super winner in my book as a breakfast, dessert, snack, whatever. It feels healthy, it tastes great, it keeps me filled… what’s not to love? I am still working on the right ratio of seeds to milk, but I’ve been really enjoying chia pudding the past few weeks with my vanilla milk alternatives and chocolate soy milk, which I am really happy to be able to find as a lot of stores have stopped stocking the one I always get.

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5685/21071584009_ffcc2df2c1_k.jpg

The IT Crowd

This is another show that is available on Netflix. I first heard about it on Tumblr from folks who were complaining that The Big Bang Theory was actually mocking the nerds rather than celebrating them through comedy, which I really can’t disagree with. Plus, Tumblr is a huge fan of Richard Ayoade, one of the stars of the show. His character, Moss, can be likened to Sheldon on BBT, except he’s a lot more clever and a lot funnier, to me. (I love Richard Ayoade.)

Even though I started the show a long while back, it wasn’t until this summer that I finished it, laughing aloud through most of the episodes. I highly recommend this as a lighthearted comedy about the workplace and how dumb the workplace can be. You get a fun dose of British humor while you’re at it, as well. (Also, about the struggles that IT people face when people don’t have their computers plugged in.)

Game of Thrones

OKAY INTERNET, YOU WIN. I finally watched Game of Thrones. After having most of the show spoiled rotten for me, I’ve decided to get some context on events like the Red Wedding and now I have it. I think I’m more interested in reading the books now, if anything, because I’m really drawn in by the world that George R. R. Martin has created, but I also really have to commend the cast for their portrayals of these characters and the crew for literally building this world. I love fantasy as a genre and obviously GoT is a great fantasy series. I am glad that this show is no longer a blind spot when it comes to nerdy and/or television trivia. Really excited for season 6, as the show has now caught up with (and in some cases, eclipsed) the book series. No one knows what’s coming next and a lot of storylines are building up to some exciting climaxes!


And that’s just a few of the things that have been keeping me sane and generally in good spirits this summer. Sometimes the summer seems so short, but then I realize I finished Game of Thrones 2 weeks ago and finished Sense8 2 months ago and it seems like such a long time…

I’m looking forward to a lot of fall favorites to come!

What kept you happy this summer?
Have you watched any of the shows I mentioned? Or should I watch something different?

{See also: Summer 2015 Recap}

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Summer 2015 Recap

According to some folks, summer is officially over.

Goodbye Summer Hello AutumnThis summer, like many summers, did seem to fly by at times. But there were many days (weeks, even) where I could have sworn the heat had slowed the passing of time, leaving me there to melt. DC set several heat records this year, including a record of 51 days above 90°F in 2015, and we’re still not safe from more heat to come. (I haven’t forgotten that freakish 80° day the first December I moved down from New Jersey.)

At some point towards the end of July, I realized my blogging game for the summer was not there. I began editing a “Summer Favorites” post to make up for all the monthly favorites I had missed, like how the post was originally titled “July” favorites when I realized I hadn’t even done June. (or May or April…)

Originally, I was going to push forward and try to get some individual event recaps posted, but here’s my new plan: give you a broad overview of what my summer has been like and then retroactively do those individual recaps. They are already delayed anyway, so what’s another few weeks, I guess? Versus having a more timely summer recap?

So, let me tell you about a few things I did this summer, with more detailed available on asterisked* ones. (Don’t hold your breath if you’d like to see those, but do let me know and I’ll put extra effort in pushing those out even though they won’t be timely anymore.)

In MAY…

May 2015
… I started a new job with a DC startup. After spending a decent amount of time doing part-time work, it was nice to settle back into a full-time role, regularly spend time in DC, and be around other people. Plus, I was excited to work with a small team versus where I was last summer, as I felt I got really lost in corporate America with my job then.

… I attended my friends’ – Alex and Cindy’s – wedding*. This was big because not only do I rarely get to go to weddings, but this was a XANGA WEDDING. I met Alex through that good ol’ blogging platform, and his wedding turned into a bit of a Xanga reunion for a lot of his friends. I was able to meet some folks that I have only ever interacted with online, as well as see some of my other Xanga friends who I haven’t seen in years. Xanga forever! Blog friends are real friends!

Our reception table with the bride & groom (in the center to my left) (I’m the one in the green dress — I KNOW I only wear green once a year but Cindy loved that dress)

In JUNE…


… I spent most of my time with my new job, trying to settle into my role and juggling start-up hours. But I was still able to find time for fun!

… I went to the Kennedy Center to watch NSO Pops: Let’s Be Frank, a Frank Sinatra tribute medley show. I adore Sinatra, so getting to see Broadway stars sing some of his best hits alongside the National Symphony Orchestra was a lot of fun. Frank would have been pleased, I think. Plus, afterwards, we were able to stick around at the My Way Soirée, where there was more music and fun to be had.

Let's Be Frank
Quick photo op at the Kennedy Center with some Sinatra-inspired props and hats

… I went to the Baltimore Yelper Party, aka Yelp’s Secret Agent Soirée at Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino. I busted out my prom dress for the first time since high school in accordance with the formal dress code and Ben busted out his tux. This was the first Yelper party that I was attending and not working at, because I had to rush there from work in DC.

Guys. I love photobooths and I am a BEAST at the silly picture. Here’s me and Ben channeling our inner secret agents.

… I moved out of my apartment, as my lease came to an end on the 30th. It was rough trying to pack and move with my hours getting longer and longer, but I somehow was able to manage thanks to my dad and boyfriend helping me a lot on the last day with getting furniture into a Uhaul! My parents were also getting ready to sell their house at this point, so I was simultaneously going back to their place to pack and move there as well.

Empty room
My comfy bed and dresser full of clothes and other junk used to be right there…

In JULY…


… I left that new job, as I quickly realized that it just wasn’t a good fit for me because of what the role demanded of me. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people during my short time, and it was a really valuable experience, but it simply wasn’t for me and that’s okay. In addition to the job not being a great fit for me, I needed to leave because of upcoming full-time opportunities.

… I participated in my first-ever hackathon*. Hacking Journalism was held at the Washington Post and had the goal of engineering solutions to better utilizing data in the journalism industry. While I’m not in journalism, I do think that it’s an important industry as I feel very invested in the news and how people consume the news. Also, I love data. This was a really fun way for me to learn about how hackathons work in a lower-stress environment than a standard one, and I was able to make some new friends along the way! Bonus: I wasn’t as useless as I thought I’d be, given that I am not a developer or a data scientist at a data science development hackathon. Score!

I’m embarrassingly easy to spot in our group selfie gif…

… I worked at the MD Burbs Yelper Party, aka Yelp’s Celebrity Affair at the Bowlmor in Rockville. People had great celebrity costumes and the food was kind of INCREDIBLE. Easily some of the best food provided by vendors of any Yelper party I’ve been to, because sometimes vendors bring food that you’re just not that excited about. Every vendor nailed it at this one, from the whole roasted pig near the entrance to the Filipino spread in the back. Even though I bled to set up, it was really worth it to see everyone have as much fun as they did.

Our costume contest winners were Miley Cyrus, Diana Ross, and……. Magic Mike

In AUGUST…


… my family kicked off the month with a yard sale. I realized that yard sales actually give me major anxiety, as I really don’t like selling things, much less personal belongings. Plus, we had people coming in and out of the house looking at furniture, people started showing up at 6:30 AM (the listed start time was 9 AM………), and we had a really steady stream of people the entire time. BUT our neighbors across the street had a really adorable lemonade stand, and that honestly made things so much better.

… I went to my friend Annie‘s 30th birthday party*, which was this incredible Harry Potter-themed affair. Seriously, Annie and her crew put in SO much work and it paid off big time. It was the best Harry Potter party I have ever been to, from the decorations to the photo booth to the food to the costumes. It ended with some fun in the pool and watching some Harry Potter movies, of course.

“Look tough, look gangsta!” – Hogwarts or BUST (birthday girl rocking the Marauder’s Map dress)

… it was back to the Kennedy Center to see see the musical Once. I remember when “Falling Slowly” won an Oscar back in 2008 and falling in love with the song. (Oh yes, there were covers recorded with friends, impromptu performances in parks…) I never saw the movie, so being able to see the full story play out was a magical experience. It’s a simple but really emotional story, and the stage performance was so fun. I highly recommend seeing Once if it comes to a theater near you.

… my one year chip-free anniversary came and went. I can now eat chips without crying (too much). Some harmony has been restored to my life.

… I went to my first-ever county fair*, the Montgomery County Fair (even though I don’t live in Montgomery County). I rode the Ferris wheel in time to see golden hour, pet a bunny, watched my friends play a bunch of games, ate a footlong corndog, and had an overall blast.

Our gorgeous view from the top of the Ferris wheel

… I took my brother and his friends to a welcome back dinner at Fogo de Chão because it was DC Restaurant Week and they had just returned from spending the summer in San Francisco. There was a lot of food and I was able to get to know my brother and his roommates a little bit better. Also, we spent the evening walking about to see the monuments at night, which I am never able to do so I was extra grateful for that opportunity.

… I worked at the DC Yelper Party, aka Yelpchella at the Embassy Row Hotel. This is one of the coolest places in DC, design-wise, and I got to finally wear the flower crown I made with my friend a year ago, eat a lot of delicious food, dance the night away, and get a shot at Arabic Internet fame! (Shoutout to the ladies who didn’t speak English but have photos of me on each of their iPads, and to one of these ladies who has a husband who has video of me dancing on his phone.)

Me, trying in vain to get the folks who were recording videos of me to join me in the dance circle

… I attended Diner en Blanc*, an internationally-held outdoor white party. This involved a lot of hunting for an all-white outfit, putting together the meal, and hauling of furniture for what can easily be summed up as an incredible Instagram op. But it was a lot of fun sharing that experience with all those strangers and seeing some previous coworkers again! (This post is nearly finished, so keep an eye out for it. Read about it here!)

My view while setting up our tables — a sea of DCers donned in white on a hot summer’s day

It was an eventful summer, and I’m sorry I haven’t been sharing it in a more timely manner here on the blog. Please tell me which of these you want to hear more about. There is for sure a Diner en Blanc post coming, but everything else that is asterisked will likely just get shelved because I don’t think anyone wants to hear about them this late. Do let me know if I’m wrong!

What were some of the highlights of your summer?
What are you looking forward to for the fall?

{See also: Summer 2015 Favorites}