Nostalgia

As my friend Gabby kindly pointed out, I have been slacking a bit on the blog.

My deepest apologies.

To be fair (and as Gabby pointed out), I’ve been a little busy. Mostly with going on the first real vacation Joey and I have taken since our honeymoon.

vacation

(Get more pics as they happen by following me on Instagram.)

It was, in a word, lovely. And relaxing. And warm. (Okay, if you know me at all you should know I usually need more than one word.)

Now, though, we’re officially back to real life and real jobs and real blogging. (Well, me at least.)

The only other semi-important thing that happened over our trip was that I turned 26. Obviously I didn’t make nearly the fuss this year that I did last year, but 26 isn’t all that much of a milestone, really.

The head of my department says it was her favorite age, though, so maybe I’m wrong?

I’ve said it before, but getting older doesn’t really freak me out that much. I mean, I’m not ruling out the chance that it will someday, but for now, I’m okay.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve felt roughly 26 since I was about 13. If anything, I’m just relieved to finally actually be an age appropriate to the way I act. I’m married, have a full-time career, and am starting to think about buying a home and having kids in the next couple of years. Let’s hope I’m in my mid- to late-twenties, right?

I do wonder what will happen when I start to be in my 30s. Will I feel younger than my age? Or will I (*gulp*) actually have that house and kids, so feel appropriately 30s?

Guess you’ll have to wait and see with me, huh?

It does make me curious, though, what age do you feel?

The unofficial theme of my Memorial Day weekend was “the time we ate and drank our way through New York City.” And I have no regrets about that.

Two of my oldest friends visited Joey and I with their significant others, and we spent our time strolling (a fairly rainy) Manhattan and exploring my favorite places (so far) in Queens. These are those stories.

Thursday: Erik and Alison arrived around noon on Thursday. I had to work from home that afternoon, so I sent them off to a nearby bar to unwind until six. When Joey got home, we headed off to the city for dinner at Bocca di Bacco, which my super hip-and-in-the-know co-worker Lauryn had recommended. If you like traditional Italian (I had the Ravolini di Pesce) and extensive wine lists, you will like this place.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.37 AM

Then we sent E+A off to see Once, which, as you may recall, I adore. They ended up getting drinks in the city and then heading back to our apartment.

Friday: The next day, Joey and I had both taken off from work, so we started the morning with brunch at my favorite breakfast spot in Astoria, Queens Comfort. It was predictably delicious. (Word to the wise: Get the tater tots. If you’re feeling especially crazy, get the Disco Tots. You will thank me.)

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.29 AM

Next, we headed into the city for a few touristy things (it was Allison’s first time to New York), including a peek at the park, a stop in Grand Central, and some serious window-shopping on 5th avenue. We tried to get into the MOMA during the free hours, but a line around the block combined with seriously unpleasant weather deterred us.

Then it was time to head back to Queens. We grabbed a quick snack at Martha’s Country Bakery (AMAZING…I usually get a chocolate chip cookie or cannoli, but Joey swears by every flavor of their cheesecake) to revive us before we went to pick up Annie and Al from the airport.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.20 AM

Once we had acquired an Annie and Al, it was time for dinner! We took everyone to one of our favorite Astoria restaurants, the newly liquor-licensed The Thirsty Koala. (I highly recommend clicking that link if you enjoy photos of adorable things.)

We ordered kangaroo sliders, lamb chops, prawn and steak tacos, crostinis, and a host of other things. Plus, of course, a few drinks to celebrate our reunion.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.11 AM

Saturday: After a few bagels from the Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company on our street, we headed back into the city Saturday morning. We visited the 9/11 Memorial (which I had never done) before grabbing some coffee and strolling The High Line. The weather wasn’t great, but the views were still pretty nice.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.50 AM

After a quick dash home to freshen (and warm) up, we returned to the city for dinner at A Voce, another delicious Italian recommendation by Lauryn. I had the pea-stuffed mezzaluna pasta and a Kir Italiano – delish.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.12.57 AM

After some low-key drinks at The Guilty Goose nearby, we were ready to head home to bed. (Oh, right, we’re kind of old.)

Sunday: For everyone’s last full day in New York, we decided to hit a few more of our favorite Queens spots. We started with an incredible brunch at MexiBBQ (unlimited drinks from noon to three-ish). I had the Eggs Benedict and a mimosa, Joey got the Challah French Toast and a mimosa. No. Regrets.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.12.36 AM

Next, because the weather was actually nice for once, we were off to the Astoria Beer Garden. There was some kind of celebration going on, so we joined the party with a few pitchers and some flower crowns. As one does.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.12.46 AM

Afterward, we took a quick group nap before heading to dinner at Watawa, my favorite sushi place near our apartment. (Everything is good.)

Monday: The gang had to roll out around noon, so we grabbed a quick breakfast at Martha’s before heading home to pack. (Total disclosure: Alison and Erik ate at Martha’s no less than three times during their visit. It’s THAT good.)

After dropping everyone off for their flights, Joey and I headed to Astoria Park for a few hours of sunshine (I’m sufficiently pink now) before joining our local friends for a backyard barbecue.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.12.19 AM

Basically, I got everything I wanted out of the weekend, including time with my oldest friends, a little color, and some really great memories. Can’t wait for our next reunion!

 

It’s official, you guys — we’re in moving mode.

Last night, we had a couple friends over for what we had already agreed was going to be our last entertaining venture in this apartment. Starting March 1st, we’ll begin looking at apartments, so we’ll want to be as ready to go next month as possible. Meaning we have to start packing. And selling anything we don’t want to bring with us.

And, as I’ve mentioned before, that includes our china cabinet.

IMG_3414

IMG_3416

She really is a good ol’ gal. It’s kind of amazing given the amount of dishware/glassware we have (occupational hazard of working for a dinnerware company) we have that everything fits. Plus we can use the hidden compartments in the server to hide a bunch of other random stuff. If you live in the Long Island area (or are willing to make a trip, I guess?) and want to give it a good home, info is here. (By the way, how much do you love my product description? Can you tell I was a professional copywriter for six months???)(Ugh…at least the pictures are nice, right?)

Speaking of which, I guess I must be getting a little nostalgic because I actually took a bunch of pictures of our living room/dining room to share with you guys. A belated apartment tour of the only rooms I really feel comfortable showing people. (Well, except the bathroom…I let people see that. But it looks the same as it did in this post. Minus the weird yellow tinge. I mostly mean that I’m still not showing you our bedroom because it never stopped being a disaster. And the kitchen is clean, but just not that pretty in photos.)(OMG LONGEST DISCLAIMER EVER. JUST SHOW THEM THE PHOTOS.)

Here we go!

{living room, facing the gallery wall}

{living room, facing the gallery wall}

{living room, facing the TV}

{living room, facing the TV}

{living room, facing the windows}

{living room, facing the windows}

{living room, facing the dining room}

{living room, facing the dining room}

{dining room}

{dining room}

So there you have it. All in all, it was a pretty great first apartment. Sure, the outlet in the bathroom didn’t work, the thermostat was super sensitive, the kitchen cabinets were miniscule…I could go on about why it wasn’t perfect. But I’m pretty sure the first place isn’t supposed to be perfect. It’s supposed to give you memories.

Job well done, apartment. Job well done.

Okay, okay. I usually do this before the new year actually begins, but as I said yesterday in my top 10 posts round-up, I’m a bit out of sorts (read: busy) this year. Anywho.

As I was looking through my usual sum-uppance questions, I decided it was also time for a little upgrade. So, I give you, the new and improved New Year Sum-Uppance of Justine.

Age: 25 (and still getting asked where I’m planning on attending college…hurrah.)

Location: New York

Occupation: Social Media Manager (because Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest is my life)

Favorite food: Sushi. There is literally never a time when Joey asks me what I want for dinner that my mind doesn’t IMMEDIATELY leap to spicy tuna rolls. I am who I am.

Music I like right now: Snow Patrol and Augustana still hold the keys to my heart, but I also dig Mumford & Sons a lot. What can I say, I like Irish music and men.

TV shows I watch: Ugh, not even worth mentioning. Ninety-nine percent of the television I watch is trash that I only tune into to quiet down my brain after a busy day. The other 1% is The Walking Dead. Obvi. Because, while that might still qualify as trashy, your brain is on high-alert whilst watching. Lest you SOMEHOW NOT HEAR A GRUNTING, WHEEZING, BUMBLING WALKER SNEAK UP ON YOU.

Book I’m reading: I hate reading more than one book at a time, but right now I’m actually slogging through Anna Kerenina and reading Sweet Tooth as part of my office’s book club. Mixed feelings about both.

What’s my hair doing right now: Sort of a joke, but also sort of serious since I talk about it often enough on this blog. Right now it’s long, blonde, and I have bangs. For posterity’s sake, here’s what I look like on most days:

-2
Of course, this is what I actually look like while writing this:

IMG_2837
So you win some you lose some…or something.

How I did on my goals from last year: Figure out what I really want to do with my life? For the first time in a few years, I’m actually working a job that is challenging, satisfying, pays me enough to live comfortably, appreciates me, and that I actually look forward to going to. That’s kind of crazy to me, and I’m still pinching myself. So…I think we can check this one off.

Build up the blog into more of a business? I’ll admit, this one kind of fell by the wayside. I still do sponsored posts when the occasion arises, but once I started feeling more fulfilled by my “real” job, I felt less pressure to do something with the blog. Now I’m not really sure what direction it will go in, but for now, we’ll keep plodding along.

Travel? In 2012, I went to Iceland, Chicago, DC, Vegas, Iowa, California, and Vermont. Not bad. (Plus, the hubs and I are planning a BIG trip for 2013…stay tuned!)

Find a way to get a puppy? Blah. This post. That’s all.

Goals for next year: More travel (here’s a hint: AFRICA. Okay, so that’s not a hint. That’s me telling you. But it’s happening.), moving to Brooklyn, paying off the last of my credit card debt, ACTUALLY GETTING A DOG, running a full marathon, staying happy.

It’s funny how much harder it is to make goals when you’re generally pleased with life. Speaking of which…

Overall opinion of my life: Really good. (My answers to this question are ALWAYS lame.)

To elaborate…I’ve always sort of felt like I can never get all aspects of my life in order. Either I was rocking it career/school-wise, but my personal life was out of whack, or I had a great relationship, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life professionally. For the first time, I feel like I have all the plates spinning together. It’s kind of scary. But I’m trying not to psych myself out.

So that’s it! I’m excited for 2013. I feel like it’s going to be my best year yet. (Plus, 2012 was kind of rocky, right?) What are you most looking forward to this year?

You guys! I’ve totally been dropping the ball on my end-of-the-year traditions. As my long-time readers can attest, I always do a round-up of the top 10 posts along with my yearly sum-uppance. I’ve just been a little thrown off with all this time off work/working from home. Clearly I’m a girl who needs a schedule.

Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know that I have not forsaken you at the end of 2012. So without further ado, THE TOP 10 POSTS OF 2012:

weddingattire

10. Wedding Guest Attire. AND BEYOND!: Remember that time I obsessed about what to wear to a wedding for about a month? (In my defense, I was working a really boring job at the time. I had a lot of time on my hands.) Well, when I finally got my lifeoutfit together, you guys were either pleased with the result or just that I had stopped talking about it.

9. Don’t starve. Learn to cook.: I still incorporate at least one of these four easy cooking tips in just about everything I make. You should too.

maidenhair

8. 6 Super-Easy Summer Hairstyles: It’s mildly reassuring that you guys don’t hate when I write about my hair. But seriously, who doesn’t need updo ideas when it’s too humid to even bother doing your hair, amiright?

7. 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Have a Movie-Themed Wedding: I actually pissed people off with this post. Which, if you’re familiar with how innocuous my blog usually is, is saying something. Of course, this was also a post published on Huffington Post Weddings, so that obviously increased my usual reach. (Confession: I still haven’t read the comments on the HuffPo piece. People can be mean, y’all.)

6. How to: Skip Washing Your Hair for 6 Days: Remember that time I got all greasy for you guys? I have to admit, I haven’t gone this long without washing my hair since I wrote this post, but I do try to go at least three days at a time. Think you’re ready for the long haul? Click the link to learn how it’s done.

photo

5. Check Me Out: That time I lost 30 pounds and got to be in Glamour magazine. A heart-warming tale for the ages.

4. How to: Paint a Metal File Cabinet: Want to hear a cute story about this post? A girl I went to college with for about a year (before she moved and we lost touch) actually found me again when she found this post on Pinterest. Isn’t that neat? Also, I still love this cabinet, and the paint job has held up really well. So…you should all learn from this tutorial.

20121219-072137.jpg

3. How to: Nutella Hot Chocolate: I don’t know why I’m so surprised this did well (I mean, everyone loves Nutella, right?), but I still can’t get over it. I hope you’re all drinking a delicious mug of my Nutella Hot Chocolate right now.

2. The 3 Most Annoying Things About Pinterest: I still stand behind all of these statements, and apparently y’all agree.

skirtbeadedtank

1. What to Wear to a Concert: Okay. Listen. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this post doing so well. On one hand, it’s really reassuring that I am not the only human who has NO IDEA how to answer this question. On the other, I feel like a total cop-out because I didn’t even put together those outfit boards. I just compiled them. So…I get credit for being a curator? (Ugh…) Whatever. At least now we all feel a little less stupid the next time our musically-savvy friend invites us to see the latest boy band.

So there you have it! Now that you (and I) have seen what it is you liked, I’m curious: What types of posts would you like to see more of in 2013?

Do you ever sometimes randomly remember something about yourself as a child and think, “Why wasn’t I bullied more?”

Because, seriously you guys, I was a weird little kid. For about a six-year stretch, I had braces and then glasses and then braces again. (By some miracle, however, the two never coincided. God isn’t that cruel.) I played the flute. I was in show choir. I was in the theater group. I was in the top mock trial team. (#mocktrialnerds4life)

In fact, if I stopped to think about it, I’m not sure I could point to a singular moment in my adolescence that I was like, “Yup, that was a cool moment right there. So smooth.”

NOT A SINGLE THING.

But the thing that I just remembered? In middle school, though I always had nice clothes (courtesy of my stylish mother) and was always dressed in something different every day, I would go weeks at a time wearing the same over-sized sweatshirt over whatever I had on. And not just any sweatshirt.

I was just sitting here eating my favorite pre-race breakfast (Nutella on toast with coffee, inspired by my runner friend Emilia) before my 5-mile turkey trot later this morning, drinking out of my hilarious “duck tape” mug:

…when I had the following thought process:

“I love this mug. Where did I get it again? Oh right, my childhood bestie Jackie bought it for me because I had a sweatshirt with the same thing one it. …that I used to wear EVERY DAY in middle school. A middle school that I had just moved to. …Why the heck did no one pick on me in middle school?”

Because, for realz, you guys. Every day. I don’t even know why I thought that was socially acceptable. (Though, looking back, there were a lot of things I did that now I’m like, “Yeah….okay, baby Justine. Ya weirdo.”)

But then I started thinking, “Well…but I wasn’t bullied. Like, at all. I was very fortunate that way. My middle school days were fairly blissful. In fact, that is probably the weirdest part about my middle school experience.”

So what was the difference? Maybe I wasn’t quite as crippled by my fear of embarrassment back then? Maybe I was even more accepting of my weirdness, delighted by it, in fact, and that inner peace and happiness somehow warded off any cruelty?

I really don’t know.

The point is (I think?), that I was the weird little kid who wore the forest green (ohhh, baby Justine…) “duck tape” sweatshirt every day for weeks. And I was so, so happy. And I turned out just fine. So maybe, even if I’m weird and embarrassing occasionally now, I’ll turn out even more fine in another twelve years.

I mean, it is a pretty snazzy coffee mug. #weirdkids4life