Peace, Friendship, and Fusion Food | SF 2017

Last time on SF 2017, I waited in line for pastries before experiencing a wide spectrum of feels at the beautiful Walt Disney Family Museum. Time to pull myself together and get ready for dinner and fun with friends.


When I emerged from the Walt Disney Family Museum, I entered the still-gorgeous day in the Presidio. I rushed through the latter part of the museum, fearing that there was still a lot left and I’d be late for dinner, but I left earlier than I planned, so I walked back out to Crissy Field to revisit one of my favorite spots from when I visited Christine back in September.

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If I ever moved to SF (don’t get your hopes up, Christine!), Crissy Field would be a big part of it. I don’t know that I ever feel as calm and at peace with myself and the world as I do when I’m sitting at Crissy Field. I wasted a good chunk of Christine’s afternoon getting lost in how tranquil I felt the last time I visited, and I had to set an alarm to make sure I didn’t lose track of time this time around.

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I didn’t see any dogs for a long while this time around, and I got pretty worried until I saw this doggo frolicking in the water. And all peace was restored to the world, or at least to mine.

Finally, I did tear myself away from the beach to head back to the hotel to drop off the pastries I managed to stop myself from eating to give to Ben and get ready to eat dinner with one of my very oldest friends, Connie.

Lemme talk to you guys about Connie. I met Connie when I moved in the middle of the 3rd grade and she lived a block away from me the whole time I lived in that house in New Jersey. We were both Chinese-American, rode the same bus, and in the same grade. We were even about the same height and had similar haircuts for almost all of the rest of elementary school. Needless to say, this meant that I got used to people calling me “Connie” pretty quickly. We spent a lot of time together because we were neighbors, and when both my parents were working, my brother and I would spend afternoons after school with Connie and her brother, watching TV, playing video games, and playing outside. She was one of the closest friends I had while I was living in that town, and I never appreciated her enough for it because I think I spent a lot of time being jealous of her – consciously or not – for being all the things I wasn’t while still being good or better at the things I was good at.

Then I moved to Maryland, and after college, she started working for Yelp in Manhattan. I visited her while she was there a few times, and this year she got promoted and, with that promotion, moved to San Francisco. She had actually only moved for a few weeks when I visited, so I believe I am officially the first person to have visited her since her big move across the country. I’m so proud of her for making this big move and for everything that it means, and I’m glad I was able to see her!

I met up with Connie at Yelp HQ! If you don’t know, I was actually on Yelp’s payroll as a brand ambassador, so it was nice to finally see the place where my paychecks come from! They were actually having their demo day for a recent hackathon, so I’m excited to see which ideas actually get used. It was really nice for me to talk to the Yelp devs as both a Yelper and as a developer, so I could ask technical questions and ask about how some of the designs actually made Yelp a better product.

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Afterwards, we got dinner at HRD, which was specifically recommended to me by the Yelp DC Community Manager, Kimberly, as a spot that I would love. I am not going to ignore a recommendation like that, so off we went! We were so surprised by HRD that we nearly walked past it. Because Kimberly is a classy lady of fine tastes, I think I was expecting it to be a fancier sit-down place, but HRD is a super casual eatery that let me know Kimberly knows me better than I thought: I care about the yumminess of the food most at the end of the day! I was also apprehensive because a lot of fusion food in DC falls very flat and has made me wary of fusion food in general, but HRD totally nails it.

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Bulgogi beef tacos
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Grilled short rib rice bowl

Then we went off to get bubble tea before calling it a night. I’m so glad that Connie and I have remained friends for almost 2 decades now. It’s crazy to think about it that way, because it certainly doesn’t feel like that long, but when we consider how old we were when we first rode the bus together… it has been a looooong time. And I am so grateful for all of it.

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While I planned on spending the rest of the evening drinking my bubble tea, maybe tracking down some macaron ice cream, and just general lazing about in the hotel, Ben invited me to join him while he was eating dinner with one of his coworkers and another friend. I was real full and had to sit in the hotel room just staring at the TV for about 20 minutes before I got up to leave. (The TV was off, mind you. I just stared at the blank television for 20 minutes. I didn’t pass out. I just… stared…)

Somehow, Ben’s old coworker tried to get us to go clubbing with him (that’s the last thing we did with him before he moved out west…), but I was literally yawning as they pregamed in his apartment and just was not able to hang. That time difference is no joke!


Do you still spend time with friends from elementary school? I am still in touch with a handful, but I wonder if I’ll ever see friends from my first elementary school again, the ones I made before I moved and met Connie! That would be pretty wild. (I’ve friended a few on Facebook and they say I look the same. That’s good, right? Because I moved when I was 7.)

What are your favorite casual eats in SF? I complain often about DC’s good food being unaffordable, but then I find myself being recommended higher-end places when I travel to other cities, which was part of what made visiting HRD so refreshing. What are some unpretentious places you like to eat in SF, or any other city for that matter?

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Spoopy Catch-Up

Can you believe we’re almost halfway through October already?

It seems like just yesterday that I was sweating through the end of September and wondering when it would feel like fall. I could see my breath when I went out this morning, and I’ve started contemplating posting a cover of “Sweater Weather” up (don’t worry, I won’t), so it really is that time of year already!

Spoopy time!

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The spoopy season is upon us, and it kicks off 3 months of festive fun, but I feel like I’ve barely had the chance to settle into October. Remember how I was supposed to “cool down for fall“? I’m not great at it, but I am getting better!

So let’s do a quick catch up of what I’ve been doing instead of taking it easy since I resolved to do just that…

DEVFESTDC // Maybe I wrote that post because I was staring down the barrel at a packed itinerary, because that Saturday I attended Day 2 of DevfestDC, a Google Developer Group mini-conference. I found out that my friend Yufeng (still waiting on your wedding photos, friend!) was one of the speakers, and with the venue so close to home, I had to go! It was nice to learn about machine learning and Google’s software (in advance of their big hardware announcement shortly after). It was especially nice to get to spend time with Yufeng, who I haven’t seen since his wedding. And seeing him twice in one year is like a new record!

SEEING RED // I dyed my hair!

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It’s a lot more subtle than I was going for, but I am still happy to have red in my hair for autumn! And to be honest, maybe it’s safer for work that my hair isn’t as vibrant of a red as I was going for?

TWO YELPER PARTIES // I worked at not one but two Yelper parties, one week apart! You know I’m a sucker for a good themed party, so for the famous rivalry theme, I quickly donned an Ursula getup and convinced Ben to do an Eric Disneybound.

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And at the DC Halloween bash, I gave Little Red a little test drive. (You’ll be seeing her again later!)

(And of course, I ate a lot of great food.)

HOMECOMING // I went back to my alma mater for yet another rainy homecoming. It feels very different now, when I go back to campus. I feel super out of touch with the campus community as the neighborhood changes.  The student involvement suite – where I used to spend hours of my week running different clubs and meetings – had been completely redone and I was invited to the ribbon-cutting. It is so new and snazzy now, and I am really excited for the student orgs who are going to get to use that space. The homecoming leadership reception – which I’ve attended for the past 4 years – was held in a different building than usual because the old building… is not there anymore. They are redoing it. I remember feeling super tethered to my alma mater as my first job after graduating was research on campus, but I definitely do not feel that anymore.

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I’ll be honest: part of the reason I come back for homecoming is the delicious food they feed me.

TREVOR NOAH // I got to see Trevor Noah, who currently hosts The Daily Show, perform standup at the Kennedy Center while he promotes his upcoming book, Born Illegal. He was really funny, and I didn’t know that he did so many great impressions and accents! I appreciated his commitment to his one-man skits, which less-bold comics would not sustain the way he did. And then, because my friend Krystal is going to marry him and got the chance to get a photo with him… and bring some friends… I got to meet him!

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I like to think he’s laughing because when Annie and Krystal walked up, he exclaimed “Oh, you guys are tiny, I love that!” and then I approached him and said, “I see how it is, no love for a tall girl?” He then performed a 10:30 show about 5 minutes after this photo.

SETH MEYERS //  Late Night with Seth Meyers is filming in DC this week, and I was able to attend Tuesday’s taping! It was very stressful because even though I left work quite early, Metro was hell-bent on making me late. When I escaped from underground and decided to bike over instead, the first three Capital Bikeshare hubs I got to were full! No where to park my bike! This was one of the rare times I ran in the streets and I immediately stopped when I saw the line wrapping around the block. My friends already had their wristbands to sit in the orchestra section, and I was sure I wasn’t going to make it because there were hundreds of people in line in front of me. But I made it!!! Here’s the episode I watched them film, with guests Lena Dunham and John Mulaney and Nick Kroll as their characters from their Broadway show, Oh, Hello. It was fun to get to see them film live, and I liked seeing Seth Meyers again. (I saw him perform standup in college, shortly before he hosted the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 2011.)

CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE // I just saw this last night: it’s the NSO Pops performing Cirque de la Symphonie:  classic Halloween instrumentals to accompany some incredible circus acts. I’m talking aerial artists, strongmen, a juggling clown, a contortionist. There was a woman doing these amazing fast changes! It was awesome, and the set list included a lot of my favorite orchestral Halloween pieces. To top it all off, the weather is beautiful, so we walked to and fro the Kennedy Center and thoroughly enjoyed the stroll.

#FALLINTODISNEYSTYLE // I’ve been occasionally participating in Disney Style’s fall  Instagram challenge, and I have been getting to know a lot of really cool Disney Instagrammers through it!

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I’m not as hardcore as most of the community is, but it’s still a really fun community to get to know.

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Otherwise very unaccustomed to posting photos of my socks or my desk!

Believe it or not, this is actually a slightly slowed-down few weeks for me. I have been very consciously giving myself days at home to cook dinner, clean, and prepare for future activities. (Halloween is rapidly approaching and then the holiday season will be upon us before we know it!)

What have you been up to lately as fall kicks into full gear?
What are your favorite politically-minded comedy shows?
I don’t really watch a lot of TV anymore, and I definitely don’t stay up late to watch them, so I actually don’t watch much of The Daily Show or Late Night with Seth Meyers.

P.S. Are you in the spoopy mood yet? Get in it with Required Halloween Viewing and laughing at my resolution to Cool Down for Fall.
P.P.S. I quickly set up a Facebook page if that’s your preferred way to read blogs!

Hot Air Balloons, Lieutenant Dan, and Chaplin’s

This was one of my more eventful weekends that have come to pass, so I thought I’d take some time to share these memories so that I can look back and remember them fondly.

Turf Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival (Friday)

I nearly didn’t go, and honestly, I don’t think I would’ve missed out on much if I opted not to go. I had been excited about the festival because I’ve only ever seen one hot air balloon at a time at fairs and the like, and friends’ photos from the Thursday night festivities. Thursday night photos got me very excited because the sun finally came out on Thursday (that rainy weather streak just hasn’t let up much…) so the bright balloons against the blue sky and white clouds, or in the golden hour glow, were really beautiful…

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Look at how perfect this day looks? Photo by Laurie, aka @dccitygirl

Well, my outing to Turf Valley wasn’t quite as successful. It took me an hour and a half to drive over, whereas it usually takes me about an hour to drive to that area. I was planning on parking at my friend’s house, as he lives about a mile away from Turf Valley Resort, but there was so much traffic in this residential neighborhood that I had to just park my car where I was and walk two miles, adding another half an hour to the amount of time I had invested in this outing…Read More »

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.

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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.

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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}

Busy Chanukah?

I’ve had a very eventful Chanukah, actually! Although I’m not Jewish, I figured this would be a good way to mark the time period and also its a fun holiday where you get to eat fried food (hit me up with some latke and sufganiyot) and play with dreidels and chocolate gelt. (In another life, I was destined to marry a nice Jewish boy.)

Let us begin!

On the first day of Chanukah, I spent the day ambling about the National Aquarium. I’ve been 2 times before, but I have this apparently unique habit of wanting to read every single sign. All of them. After all, someone worked very hard to make the signs and I want to learn and know what I’m looking at when I’m in an aquarium/museum/art gallery! It was nice to spend the day there without having someone rush me through the exhibits.

This is Calypso, their sea turtle. She is missing a fin/foot but is still the star of the aquarium.

I got to see the beautiful little golden lion tamarins, looking at me with their giant eyes and hugging each other.
(They later started humping each other about arm’s-length away from me and I will just assure myself that doesn’t mean anything.)

I had a lovely dinner and a lovely birthday cake. (But srsly, can a girl get some Carvel ice cream cake with those delectable chocolate crunchies?)

Chocolate cake!!! With a snowman and a tree on it. (They weren't edible...)
Chocolate cake!!! With a snowman and a tree on it. (They weren’t edible…)

I took my dad to the airport on Thursday (before seeing the last Hobbit film again) because my grandfather is unwell and he wants to look after him. This would begin a long weekend of me chauffeuring my family around.

On Friday, I was able to crash attend my old company’s holiday party at – wait for it – the Newseum! For those unfamiliar, the Newseum is a really cool museum that looks at our history and relationship with news. News is intensely important in informing us what is going on, whether in our own background or across the world, and it’s really amazing to see how far the news has come as well as how far we have come in parallel with the news.

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Bartending in an elevator
Bartending in an elevator
I was craving doughnuts and LO AND BEHOLD! Doughnuts, macarons, and tiny pies
I was craving doughnuts and LO AND BEHOLD! Doughnuts, macarons, and tiny pies

Also it was fun scaring the bejeezus out of people who thought they would never see me again.

Even though it’s not free admission (SADNESS) (in a town with all the free Smithsonian institutions, it’s difficult to get me to pay for a museum or art gallery or zoo), I would really like to come back to the Newseum for a proper visit. While it’s a really cool venue, I don’t think it’s a great place for a celebratory party, given that a lot of news is, well, bad news. The coat check line hugged the wall with all of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photos and people were stumbling around drunkenly through the 9/11 exhibit. It felt distasteful, in my opinion, but that’s no fault of the museum’s.

A tissue box provided by the museum in the 9/11 exhibit
A tissue box provided by the museum in the 9/11 exhibit
One of the antennae from the Twin Towers

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In any case, I had a lot of fun with my old coworkers and I’m glad I was able to see so many old familiar faces.
(ALSO WE HAVE A SLOW-MO VIDEO)

I came back from DC really late that evening, and was supposed to go to an alumni meeting Saturday morning but I totally slept in and missed it, whoops. Luckily, they very kindly invited me out to lunch and we had dumpling at “Mama’s Dumplings” (aka China Bistro) and tried the famous new bubble tea place SnowBots for some snow cream! I don’t really have many photos from Saturday but it was nice to catch up with this group from college that I really had fallen out of touch with. I also picked up my brother from school after picking up an extra boba for him as a post-finals treat.

On Sunday, my Yelp region had our annual holiday party! I went dressed as Santa (kinda) and a fun time was had by all. There was White Elephant, a gingerbread house contest, a mimosa bar, Italian food catered by Venti Tre, bagels galore, eggnog, a photo gbooth, etc. etc. Again, not many photos since I was working the event, but it was a lot of fun.

Afterwards, I went to a belated birthday dinner with my closest friends and my boyfriend and then we went back to my room to just chill for a bit and so that I could give everyone their Christmas gifts. (I’m so glad I cleaned my room!)

Yesterday, I mostly chilled before picking up my mom from the airport, thus having chauffeured every member of my immediate family and making a second trip to the airport.

And that’s been Hanukkah for me! If only I could get my hands on some potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts…