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Key Lime Mousse CupsOn Friday, Brian and I will be reunited with friends in beautiful Naples, Florida. It’s an annual tradition that serves as our last hurrah before the cold of fall sets in. It’s a guaranteed good time, but the highlight for me (no offense, you guys), might have to be The Turtle Club’s Key Lime Pie (you guys are a close second, I promise). It’s amazing, so perfectly tart and sweet, and the company and view of the water can’t be beat. I can’t wait.

And I mean that. I can’t wait and couldn’t wait which is why I made these individually-sized Key Lime Mousse Cups, perfect for a crowd, to take to a friend’s yesterday afternoon. They aren’t quite Turtle-Club amazing, but they made for a greatly satisfying substitute. See how I did it. 

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080715BYR30{Our Rehearsal Dinner}

After Wednesday’s post paying tribute to my parents, my Chinese pride is at an all-time high, so what better time than now to share a look at our proudly Chinese rehearsal dinner?

Having a Chinese-themed dinner had long been a wish of mine. When Brian and I first got engaged, I had absolutely no clue what style of wedding I wanted (“rustic” was the leader for a hot second. ha!), but knew exactly what I had in mind for the evening before: a big family-style feast surrounded by friends and family, in full red and gold glory. The dream was lofty and the reality didn’t disappoint.   
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fortune goodies Favorite Cold Beverages
You guys, I’ve been wearing sweaters to work every day this week. How did this happen?

So yeah, I get it. Labor Day is considered the unofficial end of summer, but I moved to “Hotlanta” under the pretense that sweater weather wouldn’t kick in until a lot later here, or that I’d at least have some warning, you know? Don’t get me wrong. I love the fall, perhaps more than I love summer (mostly because of my treasured heart-patterned sweater collection), but surely something isn’t right here. Anyway, since I’m clearly in denial, I thought I’d relink to four of my all-time favorite ice-cold beverages, three of which happen to be of the green-tea variety. I’m a little obsessed

For those of you who are new to this blog, I normally (and I’m talking before my 5-month blogging dry spell) publish Thirsty Thursday and Recipe Reciprocity posts on days like this. Today, you get a self-serving combo of sorts. Here we go. 

1. Not only are these Jasmine Green Tea Lime Coolers delicious and refreshing, but the post, penned by my beloved Brian, is one of my favorites. He’s a funny one. This household DIY project is another classic. 
2. When it comes to my actual favorite drink recipe, these Green Tea Peach Sodas are the clear winner. They’re great for when you have people over since they look and taste great, and have an air of fanciness to them, when shhhh, they’re actually really easy to throw together. They’re perfect. 
3. Green Tea Lemonade – This one is a really good, easy recipe for lemonade with a green-tea twist. The best part is you probably have all of the ingredients on hand. 
4. We’ve been on a big smoothie kick ever since receiving our Vitamix. It’s the best. We’re definitely berry-banana people, and yet these Avocado Banana Orange Smoothies might be my favorite smoothie recipe so far. The avocado makes for a smooth and pleasantly surprising addition. 

Alright, that’ll do it from me today. Also, I just checked the weather and the 5-day forecast looks like a bright one. I’ll stop my complaining for now and plan to make the most of it. 

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with Mom and Dad{with Mom & Dad}

Before sitting down to write this post, I had every intention of sharing a big overwhelming look at our countless favorite wedding pictures and moments. And then, it occurred to me that instead of dumping you with hundreds of images (although I’m sure I’ll get to that eventually), I’d start by sharing my four favorite pictures from the big day (see above and below). Notice a theme? Sorry, Brian.

Mom and Dad entrance{My favorite picture ever}

When I think back on our wedding, I can easily name more than 50 things that didn’t go as planned or that I would have done differently. In the days since, most of that discontent has managed to silence itself, but the one big thing that I wish I’d done a much better job of is expressing just how grateful I am for my parents. It’s not everyday that you get all of your favorite people in one room, much less have their attention. So, if I could do it all over again, I would stand before that microphone with my hankie at the ready, and tell my little world how much I really love and respect Ruilin Yang and Meng Su, aka Da and Ma.

Sadly, I can’t turn back time, so writing it here will have to do for now. And since I get to make the rules around here, l plan to get carried away.

I’m told parents are often the leading source of stress in wedding planning, especially the bride’s. That was never the case with us.

You need to have the wedding in Cleveland for Brian’s grandmother? No problem. Jewish ceremony? Of course. How much do you need? You got it. As long as you’re happy, we’re happy.

That was the extent of the questions asked and that last sentence I heard a lot. I think it’ll take being a parent myself to fully understand the true meaning of those words, but I’d like to think I have a decent idea. I owe it to them to know how good I have it. 

Walking down the aisle{a walk to remember (love that movie)}

Just days before the wedding, my dad, who had already been beyond generous, told me he would happily contribute for any unforeseen expenses beyond what he was already covering. This from a man who at no point in his life ever had any monetary help from his own parents, not because they believed such a thing builds character, but because they had absolutely none to give. 

There is no hiding that our wedding was not cheap. In fact, it was about as uncheap as you can possibly get. It was by all accounts a beautiful wedding, the kind that more than likely invites comments about how well the bride’s parents must have it. And it’s true, my parents have done well for themselves in recent years, but to know the full story is what makes it that much more remarkable. 

My parents are the definition of self-made. I won’t bore you with their life stories, but in a nutshell, my dad was born to illiterate subsistence farmers in rural China with no electricity, no running water and no real prospects. But what he lacked in modern-day luxuries, he more than made up for in love from his family and an insatiable desire to learn. His passion and countless hours spent reading by candlelight (hello, near blindness) would later be his ticket out of there, and in turn, my own. 

My mom’s story, although different in the circumstances of her upbringing, shares that same plot line of working extremely hard and understanding that in a communist totalitarian state, where no one had any real claim on anything in the material world, her most valuable asset would always be her knowledge. She graduated at the top of her med school class, the best in the country, only to give up her career when she and my dad made the difficult decision to leave behind everything they knew to pursue an unknown life with the hope that it would someday be a better life for their unborn children. 

Supporting a family of four on a student’s salary wasn’t easy, but my parents made it work. Only now do I see how hard it must have been for them to make ends meet in those early years. My mom picking up shifts at a Chinese restaurant comes to mind. But never did my brother and I ever want for anything. We were so very happy and loved. Their financial circumstances are different today, but the giving-us-all-they-could part of it all is still the same, which brings me back to the wedding. I can’t thank them enough for making our big day possible, for being so gracious and generous with their time and money, for being a source of calm and fun at all of the right times, and for stealing everyone’s hearts. I was a pretty proud daughter that weekend.

Mom and Dad hora{My parents rocking the Hora}

For instance, take this last picture. Having never been to a wedding in the western world, much less a Jewish one, and with me completely forgetting to give them any warning about this part of the reception, my parents were entirely unfazed. They went up in those chairs fearlessly, no questions asked, my mom with her hands up the entire time (the rest of us held on for dear life). This picture captures them at their essence: elegant, brave, loving and good-humored every step of the way.

Whenever the topic of parents comes up, I like to tell people that being born to my parents will always be the best thing to ever happen to me. While my parents are self-made, I am fully aware that I owe everything that I am to their selflessness, support, hard work and a surprising trait of open-mindedness. It’s no secret that Brian and I had some big obstacles that we had to work through before considering marriage. I’m therefore beyond grateful that the only question my parents ever asked me was “Does he make you happy?” Never did I think that in the parents equation, that mine, the Chinese immigrants, would initially be the cool ones. What a pleasant surprise that was. 

One more story for you – one of the best compliments I’ve ever received I heard from Brian’s great-uncle Allan when we had dinner with him, his wife Elaine, and two of their grandchildren in Paris when our two trips overlapped. Allan told me that prior to meeting my parents, he had no trouble picking them out of the small crowd of Chinese people present. “They have the same warm, bright, big smile that you do,” he said. I’ll treasure that comment forever. 

Ok, I think that’s about enough babbling from me.

Mom, Dad, I love you both so much. Thank you for everything, and a special shout-out to your cooking of well-balanced family dinners every night. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but see now how special that was and hope to do the same someday. You’re the best. No doubt about it.

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Fortune Finds 091515
I hope this Tuesday finds you well. Here’s some of what I’m fancying myself.

1. Always a fan of Buzzfeed quizzes, this one on Who Said It? Donald Trump or Lucille Bluth (I admire them both) is surprisingly hard and a new favorite. (BuzzFeed)
2. Also worth watching ICYMI is Jimmy Fallon’s interview and rehearsal room bit with the Donald himself. (YouTube)
3. It’s a good time for late-night tv, which bodes well for a night owl such as myself. (Vanity Fair)
4. A writer/filmmaker perfectly articulates why he got bored with the DC dating scene, and explains why he’s so much happier dating in New York. This, of course is just one man’s opinion, but it’s a well-written one. For obvious reasons, I had a more successful time dating in DC than I ever did in New York. (Washington Post)
5. After about 10 days of living in the house without a refrigerator, Brian and I finally pulled the trigger and welcomed our new french-door counter-depth fridge last Tuesday. Since it’s counter-depth, we have a little less storage space so organization will be key. Here’s a good start. (Samsung)
6. Now that Brian and I have a real kitchen and all of these great wedding gifts, we’ve really been enjoying cooking meals for two. This Newlywed Cookbook has been especially helpful and inspiring. (Amazon)
7. Brian and I can’t wait to start hosting out-of-town guests soon. Until then, I’m going to brush up on Emily’s tips to help them feel their most welcome. (Cupcakes and Cashmere)
8. With this house, my spending priorities have changed. First on my list is furniture, followed closely by pajamas. I’m a change-straight-into-my-pjs-when-I-walk-through-the-door kind of gal and am really digging this particular nightshirt. (One Kings Lane)

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Wedding Photo{Brian and me on our wedding day}

Man oh man. Where do I even begin? It’s been far too long since my last post, and it just so happens that my big hiatus spanned what will probably go down as one of the busiest, craziest, most momentous times in my life. Trying to fill you in and make up for all of that lost time seems quite impractical, but to cover the basics, let’s do it with a list:

  • Once again, Brian and I had a whirlwind summer of travel (all the usual places) nearly every weekend. It was amazing and I’m not complaining, but we’re very ready to stay put for a little while and explore what our new home of Atlanta has to offer. In the five months that we’ve been here I’ve done zero sightseeing and it’s time to fix that.
  • Days before our wedding, Brian and I found the first house of our dreams, made an offer, entered a bidding war, and won! The timing wasn’t the best, but we’ve survived to tell the story.
  • Cleveland was at its finest August 8th weekend. We couldn’t have asked for better weather or company to celebrate our marriage. I’ll spare you for now, but have many wedding pictures and related posts to share in the coming weeks. 
  • Immediately following the wedding, Brian and I ran off to Italy and Paris for our honeymoon. We started in Positano, before going to Rome, Florence and Paris with a few other day trips sprinkled throughout. Any weight loss achieved pre-wedding was quickly erased and then some. Pizza and I have a love-hate relationship. I’m sure you can figure out both why I love it and hate it. Honeymoon home videos are in the works, because you know what a sucker I am for making those. 
  • Five days after our return, we closed on our house and moved in that weekend. Again, crazy. 
  • We are now officially house poor, and look like squatters with a big house that’s laughably empty. We’re also so very happy and I wouldn’t trade this for anything. Plenty of pictures and home projects to come.
  • And just yesterday, this blog’s Facebook page hit the 1,000-likes milestone. So for that reason and all of the ones above, today felt like a very good day to get back in the game.

Thank you to all of you for reading and for your support. I don’t take it for granted and mean it when I say that you can expect to see a lot more of me from now on. I mean, now that I have a kitchen with two ovens, all kinds of shiny new baking tools, more storage and counter space than I know what to do with, a fryer, AND the white Vitamix of my dreams, I’ve got no excuse not to get baking and making. Stay tuned!

P.S. To those of you who came to the wedding, we are sooooo pathetically behind on thank you notes. We are working on it and don’t think for a second we aren’t grateful. Bad at time management, yes. 

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