Of Personal Legends & Love

I know, right? Two posts in two days? That be crazy talk.

Warning: deep thoughts & rambling.

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I had a crazy night last night, and not in the typical college “go wild and blackout” crazy. It was simply emotional, confusing, relieving, and heartbreaking all at the same time. Nothing even happened. I was just thinking, and then all of this came up.

Expectations are rough to overcome. You constantly feel like you’re not good enough and that you have to try harder and harder (infinitely) to please people, whether that be others or yourself. They’re also so limiting, because you’ll only do what’s expected of you, and one day you might look back on your life and realize that you’re not where you wanted to be.

I suppose that’s where I am now–somewhere I don’t want to be. As a senior, I often catch myself reminiscing on the past three years, and they’re great memories that I hold dear. But at the same time, it feels like I’ve boxed myself in within the limits of expectations: I won’t do this, I only do that, these are my friends, I can’t meet new people, etc. As much as I love my friends (omg I love them so much), part of me is saying, “Well, how about other kids on campus?”

It feels like I’ve become comfortable with the people I met freshman year, the people with whom I feel safe. But I haven’t stepped out of that haven because why should I? I’m happy here, people love me, and I know I belong, but outside of that place, who knows if it’ll be the same? Why should I try something new if I’ve already got everything I wanted right here?

The part that scares me the most is that I do want more than what I have. I’m so blessed to have these friends, and I’m ashamed to be unsettled with where I am.

Let me clarify that I’m not trying to be a new person or redefine myself: in contrast, I’m trying to be who I am, and meet new people at the same time. I gave up on the “create new identity” protocol a while ago when I realized it’s kind of impossible.

So that was the first thing I’ve been reflecting on.

The second is the idea of trust. Who do I trust with the deepest problems of my life? For most, it’s a few close friends or family members, and I’m no different… I think. Out of my basketful of issues & secrets, there’s a handful or two that I don’t mind sharing with most people because they’re about the past. There’s another handful of things I’ll tell a select few, and even another (small) handful that maybe one or two people are privy to. But is there more in that basket? I don’t know. Maybe I haven’t self-reflected recently to know.

But take those deep secrets I have about myself, things that I don’t want anyone to know about me because they’re dirty and wrong and weird and shameful. Take those, and who would I trust with them?

The more important thing here, though, is that when someone trusts you, there is love. No matter what they tell you about themselves, they trust you to 1) not tell anyone else (usually) and 2) still care about them. Most of the time, those two things are pretty easy to do.

Okay, Syd, cut to the chase already. Okay, okay, sorry!

When someone tells me something so deep inside of themselves, I find myself sometimes overwhelmed. I’ve had a problem with empathy in the past, where I would take everyone’s problems as my own to the point of feeling (a large fraction of) the same pain/rejection/sadness/guilt/temptation/etc they felt. It was almost natural to share their burden, too, because I could automatically imagine how they felt.

I’ve since learned to control that, though, because in the past it (among other things) drove me into depression. But last night I was put in a situation where I felt so overwhelmed and hurting because a friend was hurting. I hadn’t before realized the pain this friend was experiencing, and while they were confiding in me, I found myself thinking back to all the times I felt the same way, even though it was a different situation altogether.

So right now, I feel so sad. I feel guilty for not recognizing this person’s pain before and being there when they needed it; I feel ashamed that I assumed so much to begin with; I feel inadequate because I don’t know what to do to help; but most of all, I just feel sad, because I love this person dearly and wish they didn’t have to experience the feelings they’re feeling.

I know it’s not my fault, and I know it’s not my “responsibility” to “fix” their problems–which is impossible for anyone to do, by the way. But I wanted to empty my heart and mind of all the swirling emotions.

I know that my friend’s situation will improve, even if they don’t believe so. In the meantime, I know that all I can do is be here to listen and to give hugs, and although I wish I could do more, I have to realize that it’s not my role in this play. All I can do is love, and maybe that’s all we need in the first place.

Welcome to Fall…ish?

School has started. Classes are underway. There are too many meetings to attend. And what’s more–IT’S SO COLD TODAY. It’s only halfway through September; it’s not supposed to be THIS cold already! (For those of you not in Boston, it’s currently 57F. Ew.)

Updates on my life as of late:
1. Did research at Tufts during the summer.
2. Studied for and took the MCAT at the end of August.
3. Traveled to Niagara Falls for a weekend with the boyfriend and his fam.

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4. Moved into an awesome house (school-owned, so no landlords or bills) with some awesome people.

5. Decorated aforementioned house.

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6. Took on too much responsibility in too many extracurriculars… again. Derp.

7. Family came and visited for a weekend! We spent a night at a friend’s in New Hampshire and went apple picking.

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8. Eating healthier & working out again. (Planning to run a 5k in a couple weeks!)

Over the summer, I also tried a bunch of cool restaurants in the area, such as Not Your Average Joe’s, Marliave, Dali, and (not new to me, but my favorite) Elephant Walk. Tip about Not Your Average Joe’s: they give you a free entree AND dessert on your birthday when you sign up for their mailing/birthday list! Be sure to sign up at least three weeks before, though, or it might not go through in time. Also, Elephant Walk is the bomb-diggety. Try the duck crepe if you go for dinner. Spoiler: it’s life-changing. No hyperbole there.

One of my goals for this year is to post here (about food, travels, my feelings) once a week. Apologies if you were expecting just food-related things! I promise that food will still be a part of my life!

OMG I forgot to mention: I’m doing a low-carb high protein diet. Basically, I’m cutting down on starchy carbs like bread, pasta, cereals, rice, potatoes, etc, and eating lots of protein-filled foods like meats, beans, nuts, and tofu. My parents started this diet a few months ago and convinced me to give it a shot, so here I am. It’s actually quite liberating! Even though I can’t eat as many sandwiches as I usually did (it was an everyday thing–I love sandwiches), I’ve been noticing that I feel less sluggish in the middle of the day, don’t feel as “heavy” or like there’s a rock sitting in my stomach all the time, and just have more energy in general. I do eat carbs when I really want them. I allow myself one or two meals per week with carbs, like rice or pasta or a sandwich. It’s kind of like a pseudo-paleo diet… just not as extreme. (I would go paleo but it’s a little difficult to do in the dining hall at school.) I encourage you to give it a shot!

Ok, so now that I’ve sufficiently caught you all up on a good portion of my life, I’m out. Homework is pulling me away. :( I’ll be back soon, I promise! And as I mentioned before, this will be more about life updates AND recipes AND restaurants I want to try/have tried, etc. I might even post some things I learned in my Food, Nutrition, and Culture class! (If that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is.)

Peace, Love, and Cookies,

syd

That Summer Life

Hey everyone!

Happy (almost) summer to you all! For those who are finishing up finals, best of luck and congratulations. To those who have been done for a while (like me), I hope you’re enjoying your break. I’ve been at home in Southern California for the past 3 weeks, which has been wonderful and relaxing to say the least. I always forget how different Boston and Orange County are from each other!

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been doing… absolutely nothing. Shopping here and there, attending hot yoga classes (any Bikram fans?), running occasionally, eating too much, seeing friends, visiting family, and playing with my dog… but honestly, not really doing anything. It’s quite a change of pace from school, where I constantly have something to do, someone to see, somewhere to go. It’s not that I’m anything important, but just that in school you always have a long to-do list that you can never quite finish.

I like to fill my summers up with activities (besides summer school, research, jobs, etc). Like, projects! For example: read a book a week, draw & paint more, clean my closet… I haven’t really found anything to do yet, but I’m sure I can think of something, right? It’s like a late New Year’s Resolution thing.

My parents have lately been trying a pseudo-Paleo diet, where they eat very minimal starchy carbs (rice, noodles, bread) and tons of proteins and healthy carbs (fruit & vegetables). I’ve been trying it, too, and it feels pretty normal in that I don’t see/feel a difference in my body, but they assure me that it’ll come with time. I guess now that I’m more aware of how much carbs I’m eating, I don’t crave rice/noodles/bread/etc as much anymore. Huh. Have any of you tried this high-protein, low-carb thing? Pretty sure it’s similar to the Atkins diet, but I have limited knowledge on dieting trends.

That being said, and given the fact that I’ve been exercising more, I’ve been trying to be healthier overall. Which means–you guessed it–minimal baking. (boo….) I’m going to try to pick up cooking, though, and I’ve been finding a lot of really interesting and delicious-looking ~healthy~ foods that don’t taste like cardboard. And of course, I will bake when it’s needed ^_^

Sorry for the sporadic posting, by the way. Perhaps my belated resolution should be to post once a week about things I find scouring the internet and things I want to do. I’ll start with this:

I’ve been brainstorming how to decorate my dorm room next year at school. It’s a 12’x12′ single, but I have no idea what it looks like. I’m thinking of going for a vintage look, maybe put one of these signs around…

I also get a lot of decorating inspiration (for my room, at least) from here: http://fyeahcooldormrooms.com/ (and also Pinterest, Buzzfeed, and Google Images, of course).

And one last thing before I go: saw an article on Buzzfeed about Chick-fil-A, and was wondering how to make their amazing sauce… there’s copycat recipes all over, including this one! Gotta try it now with some waffle fries ^_^

 

Have a great weekend everybody!

The Class of 2014

Tonight we had a graduation party to celebrate the class of 2014! So many of my friends are graduating tomorrow and moving on into a different phase of their lives. We gathered at Nathan’s house because Nathan’s parents are so incredibly generous of their home and food. It was great to cook and eat with everybody and play silly games like Wa (spelling?) and make funny faces at the camera. Plus, meeting everybody’s families is super weird. 

I made two things for the party: 1) Edamame Hummus, and 2) Cookies n’ Cream Cheesecake Bars. Apparently both were successful, because there weren’t any left at the end of the night! People have been asking me for the recipes all night, so here they are!

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Edamame Hummus 

(adapted from Two Healthy Kitchens) 

yields 1 1/4 cups of hummus

*garlic powder, garlic, salt, and pepper were greatly adjusted to taste*

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
  • 3½ tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. 
  2. Process until well mixed until desired consistency. 
  3. Serve, or refrigerate for an hour to allow flavors to blend. (That is, if you have time. I didn’t.)
  4. Optional: add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Drizzle with olive oil when serving. 

(not my picture ^^ but these look similar. Forgot to take one before they were promptly devoured.)

Cookies n’ Cream Cheesecake Bars

(adapted from La Creme de la Crumb)

serves 8-12

Ingredients

CRUST LAYER

  • 16 Oreo cookies
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar

CHEESECAKE LAYER

  • 1 egg
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • filling from Oreos
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 oreos, halved or broken into pieces

TOPPING

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • water
  • sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 inch pan with nonstick foil.
  2. To make the crust layer: Pull apart 16 Oreo cookies and scrape off the creme center, put the creme in a bowl and set aside. Place all of the leftover cookies (just the black cookie part) In a blender or food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Add sugar and pulse again to mix. Add melted butter and continue to pulse until mixtures comes together. Press crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl whisk egg until light and foamy. Add softened cream cheese, reserved Oreo filling, sugar, and vanilla and blend with a hand mixer until mixture is smooth. Spread mixture over Oreo crust. Gently press broken Oreo cookies into the cheesecake layer. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheesecake layer is set. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
  4. Thaw strawberries in a pot on the stove with water. Add sugar to taste. Mash strawberries and mix until smooth. Serve bars with glaze poured on top. Store in airtight container in fridge.

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It’s been hard to curb my anxiety about these people leaving me and dispersing to all corners of the world. Life won’t be the same without my seniors around campus! If I could say anything to them, … well, honestly, I don’t know what I’d say. I guess I’d tell them thank you, from the very bottom of my heart. I’d tell them that they have changed my life in ways they couldn’t imagine, that they showed me who I am and that I am treasured & loved. I’d say that I know they’re going to do amazing things and that I’d hope we’d keep in touch. 

But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I’m feeling right now. To the Class of 2014: I love you all so much and can’t wait until we all hang out again!

Spring // Tea Time

omg omg it’s spring wut.

This beautiful weather has got me in a good mooooodddddd <3 <3 <3 (That, and ignoring the fact that I have piles of work to do. heh.) Yesterday was Holi, too, bringing some color to shove out Winter, which extended its stay far too long.

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Recently the Tufts Third Day Gospel Choir also performed, with Anchord as the guest performance! Anchord also performed at Relay for Life, which is an awesome event all the time. Also, the Tufts chapter of Love146 had their annual benefit concert, which was a total success! It’s been incredible going to all these events and seeing what people are passionate about.

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Since the semester is coming to a close, I have to start thinking about reducing the amount of stuff I have to pack into boxes. Freshmen year started with four boxes, and Sophomore year ended with over six. #notaminimalist

That stuff includes food; i.e., baking supplies. Can’t pack a bunch of butter and eggs to be put in a basement for 3 months, can I? Hmm, I guess that just means I need to use it all before May…

Tonight I have night class from 6-9pm. (ugh.) My friends and I decided to make it a little happier by having some tea and crumpets, so during our break, we’re planning on running over to the kitchen, using the hot water kettle to make some tea, and enjoy some baked goods together.

Or at least that’s my plan. Whether anyone else is actually joining me is beyond my knowledge.

sooOOOooooOOOOoo what can I bake with flour, sugar, eggs, and butter? +dried cranberries & orange juice from dining halls/friends?

Cranberry Orange Muffins!

mmm.

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so small. so cute. so tasty.

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can’t wait to try some tonight while learning about molecular biotechnology!

Join me in ringing in Spring with some yumminess :)

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp grated orange rind

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin pan.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt) in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate medium sized bowl, beat orange juice, egg, vegetable oil, and orange rind.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry all at once and mix.
  5. Add dried cranberries. Stir just to moisten.
  6. Spoon batter into muffin pan so the cups are 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned and firm to the touch.

Surprise!

Happy Birthday, Kathy! :) 

For those who need a break from chocolate (or just don’t like chocolate to begin with), here’s a delicious recipe, courtesy of this website!

If you don’t know me, I really enjoy surprises. Not being surprised, but surprising other people. So I surprised Kathy tonight with a whole big batch of these blondies to celebrate!

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm <3 <3 <3

I’m definitely going to make more of these in the future! But up next is Chinese New Year edition… (teaserrrrrr)

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The best part about these is that you can add ANYTHING into them! 

White chocolate chips, chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips… OH the possibilities!

Let me know how they turn out!

Blonde Brownies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 egg
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease an 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Melt butter and stir in sugar, egg and vanilla in a large bowl; mix until completely incorporated.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients. The mixture will be thick. Spread in greased baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes in preheated oven.
  4. Cut when moderately cooled. Serve warm or cold.