What I Did for My 21st Birthday

I just finished up my two weeks off before starting my summer job today. I thought about writing a post about what I got up to once I arrived home with Ben, but honestly there would be way too many photos and anecdotes. So I thought that a shorter post on what I ended up doing for my 21st birthday would be a happy medium.

For some people, 21st birthdays are a chance to go wild and crazy on a night out. In my case, I was just happy (and relieved) to be able to finally order an alcoholic drink at a restaurant with my family. Partying hard at a club wasn't on the cards, but a whole lot of good wine (and beer, and cocktails...) was.

After a big breakfast on my birthday morning, I knew that I couldn't just sit around an let me 21-ness go to waste. My first adult-outing was to the Harpoon Brewery where Ben and I took a tour of the facilities and had a tasting. Despite my usual status as a non-beer drinker, I thought that the experience would be worth it. Plus, it's something that's so very "Boston" that I had wanted to do for a while. 

For just $5 a pop the young and energetic team at Harpoon guide you around the brewery, walking you through the steps of how their drinks go from hops to bottle on a daily basis. We learned that Harpoon came about from three best friends who were traveling Europe and wanted to bring great beer to the East coast. We also learned how to tell whether a bottle of Harpoon had been brewed in Massachusetts or Vermont (I won't give away the details- you'll have to go on the tour for that ;) ) 

After about 20 minutes of talking, they take you into a tasting room- the moment everyone had been waiting for. Unlike other tours I had been on, they don't actually limit your intake of beer samples. They give you a small glass that they fill up about halfway, and you can essentially try as much as you'd like in the given time period. And trust me- you'll want to try them all. With a large selection (and by that I mean, about 10) of their recurring and seasonal beers on tap, Harpoon really gives you a thorough overview of their stock. 

Once you've downed your last mini glass of beer, it's back into the production area to listen to a bit more about the company and have your last few questions answered. While our group didn't have any burning questions, there was one guy who took this time as a chance to express his love for Harpoon (spurred on by the samples, of course). 

We couldn't leave without having a full pint in their famous beer hall, so I ordered a glass of the UFO White Ale (a favorite of mine from the sampling session). Ben had the Hoppy Adventure, and we shared a malted barley soft pretzel with the IPA cheese sauce and ale mustard (sensing a theme here?). While I'm not the biggest beer connoisseur- in fact, I never order it- the Harpoon brewery tour gave me a new appreciation for the good stuff. 

Going out for a family dinner is one of my favorite birthday traditions. We're a very close family, but these celebrations give us a chance to come together all at once and enjoy ourselves. Oleana was our restaurant of choice, not just for it's resemblance to our own family name, but because it's owned by the same woman who's responsible for me and my mom's favorite lunch spot, Sofra. The food is fantastic. Think updated Mediterranean classics in a chic, yet comfortable setting. 

We were lucky enough to snag a table in the back garden which, even on a Monday night, was buzzing with guests. Because we had pre-booked the family style sharing menu, the only thing we needed to order was some bubbly to start. The rest was taken care of for us. 

The dishes came out in staggered waves, and we were treated to two rounds of appetizers (in my opinion, the best part) before moving onto both a fish and meat based main, followed by two signature desserts. Due to my excitement, and my family's unwillingness to wait long enough for me to snap a photo, I came away with barely any photos of the food. It's a shame, because not only was it delicious, but it was also perfectly presented. Some of the highlights were the crispy falafel bites with beet tzatziki and spicy Middle Eastern pickles (not your average take-away sandwich), the sticky Sultan's delight braised beef, the flaky hake with roasted peppers, and the piece de resistance, the baked Alaska. Okay, that was a more than a few highlights- but forgive me, because it was just delightful. 

My final "official" birthday celebration was actually the gift that two of my brothers gave to me. And it was pretty unique to say the least. My brothers (and my only family in general) were all patiently waiting for me (the youngest!) to finally turn 21. So they treated me (and Ben) to my first "night out" as a legal American and brought us to a bar called Drink in Boston. 

This cocktail bar's clever name is a testament to how minimalist it really is. The bar features no rows of various spirits, no ingredients out on the counter, and no seating apart from the enormous wraparound bar. And what makes it even more minimalist? There's no menu. Just tell your server what flavors you like, or what you want your drink to be inspired by, and the rest is up to them. Talk about the ultimate trust in your bartender (excuse me- mixologist). Picky drinkers need not apply. 

My first drink was my favorite. I asked for something sour, and boy did they deliver. I always find that "sour" cocktails never quite make the cut for me, but this one did the trick. My guesses for the flavor were grapefruit, pomegranate, and blood orange. My second drink was something dessert-like, and my third was inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 

The best cocktail requests of the night? Ben's "American Dream" cocktail that even Jay Gatsby would raise a toast with, Kian's "Clifford the Big Red Dog" cherry drink, and Camy's "I work on a farm can you give me something that's just like a sheep?" concoction. Coming up with ridiculous cocktail requests is half the fun (the other half is drinking them). I'm so grateful to my brothers for taking us out- it was more than generous, and I'll never forget it.         

A week into being 21 later,  and I still get giddy at the fact that I'm able to order a glass of wine with my mom at dinner. I certainly waited long enough, and my legality in Scotland made the wait even harder. Even so, I'm sure the splendor of it all will wear off in a few weeks! Might as well enjoy it while it lasts. 


Third Year Highlights

I always love doing a little round-up post once my academic year comes to a close. Okay, well the academic year for me ended quite a while ago, but I stayed in Edinburgh for quite a while after that, keeping myself busy with loads of other work.

Anyway, I think reflecting on each year of university is important. When you're a student, you really measure your life in academic years rather than proper years. But so much can go on in those nine-ish months that you spend away from home. You grow, you change, and you start to think about the future more and more. 

Now that I'm going into my fourth year (I know I say this a lot, but YIKES!), that's really the big question: what's in store for the future? And for me, the other logical question that follows is: where are you going after you finish university? Okay, slow down. I'm getting there. And next year will be all about sorting that out, I promise. 

But for now, let's look back. I want to talk about the big things that have changed, or been exciting, or been scary over this past year. 


Clerk's, Edinburgh: Your New Favorite Neighborhood Bar

Everyone needs a go-to neighborhood bar.

It's the kind of place where you meet up with friends on a moments notice. When your friend texts you "Pub?" you'll know exactly where you're going. 

It's the kind of place where you're just as happy ordering a pint as you are a no-nonsense cocktail; where you can order some chips to share, or something bigger if you didn't have time to make dinner. 

The neighborhood bar is really a jack of all trades. It hosts pub quizzes, karaoke nights, and shows every sports game imaginable (even the really niche ones). It's the kind of place that has something for everyone.    

I happened upon a new favorite neighborhood bar of my own a few months ago. After a friend of a friend invited suggested that a group of us meet at Clerk's Bar for a catch up, and I had just one bite of their pulled pork sandwich, I was sold. So you can trust me when I say that Clerk's bar is just the ticket. 


Fairytale France

Two weeks ago, I posted about our trip to Béziers in the South of France. While we were based in Béziers, staying at an airbnb in the city, we took a day trip to another (even smaller) French town called Pézenas which I thought was worthy of its own blog post. Since I'm currently writing to you from rainy (and fairly empty) Edinburgh, this post serves as a bit of wanderlust for myself, as I dream of soaking up the sun and being on holiday again.

Pézenas is practically a stones throw away from Béziers, taking only about thirty minutes on a coach bus to arrive at our destination. At only 1.60 each way, it's well worth the price for a change of scenery.


Get Your Gin Fix (And More) at Heads & Tales, Edinburgh

A good bar is hard to come by. One that sells watered-down drinks for cheap? Easy enough to pinpoint in any student area. A well-known chain that serves thousands of sickly-sweet cocktail combos? Walk down any High Street and you'll find one. But a bar that feels truly special with a well thought out drinks menu, that won't break the bank? Now that's one in a million. 


Béziers: The South of France's Best Kept Secret

Ah, the South of France. Just the mere thought of this lust-worthy place conjures up images of endless fields of flowers, picturesque coastlines, and quaint villages teeming with authentically French restaurants. For me, going to the South of France always remained a bit of a pipe dream- Paris was easy enough to get to, and the rest of the country seemed only discoverable by car.

But when the prospect of traveling down to Béziers (wait, where?) on holiday presented itself, I jumped at the chance to finally see the South. Granted, it was pretty easy to "jump" when the flights from London were only £14 roundtrip- pretty good, right?

Visiting a place that I had never (and I really mean never) heard of was one of the great joys of planning out and anticipating this trip. It's something I'd encourage anyone to do, even if you're the most meticulous of planners. I'm definitely not a "throw caution to the wind" kind of gal, but having a less predictable holiday was just what I needed. And it ended up being even more relaxing because there was no pressure to do anything in particular. You know when you go to a major city and feel like you just have to see their most famous sights, and end up shelling out a ton of cash for them? This was not one of those trips.


Discovering Authentic Indian & Bengali Cuisine at Voujon

Voujon is a restaurant that I have passed by countless times. I didn't think much of it. After all, there are practically as many Indian restaurants in Edinburgh as there are stars in the sky. To catch (and keep) the attention of Edinburgh residents and visitors alike, each and every Indian restaurant in town has to find their own way of standing out from the crowd. 

So how does Voujon make its mark on Edinburgh's saturated Indian food scene? Some might say its the punchy purple decor. Others might vouch for the impeccable service. But for me it all comes down to the food. Of course, great Indian food in Edinburgh isn't hard to find. But Voujon prides itself on its ability to seamlessly meld together the flavors of two cuisines which are often thought of as synonymous. Bengali food, while commonly paired with Indian food in restaurants, is often overlooked on menus. Comforting flavours such as butter chicken are likely indulged in over the more unfamiliar spices of Bengali cuisine. But at Voujon, this lesser known cuisine takes centre stage. 

Greeted by crisp white linens (that would soon be dirtied by the likes of saffron and cumin) alongside sleek, modern decor, Voujon impressed from the outset. Surely their food would be as elevated as their decor. 

A plate of crispy popadoms could not be resisted. The perfect way to start a meal- flavourful, guilt-free goodness. With a selection of pairings that consisted of classic mango chutney, spicy pickled lime, and pungent onion relish, Voujon's popadom offerings weren't particularly ambitious, but packed a punch with each crunchy bite. 

Murgh Chatt may not be the most eye catching and exciting dish on the menu, but it's a fan favourite of Ben's. Tender pieces of chicken cooked in a rich but slightly tart tomato sauce makes for the perfect starter if you prefer something that isn't fried. 

I enjoy a good mystery dish from time to time. So even if I don't know exactly what a dish entails, I might just go for it and hope for the best. Wild, I know. After all, what's a good meal without a few surprises along the way? Skipping over the usual samosas and pakora, I sprung for the Voll Puri, enticed by its promise of spicy chickpeas and a tamarind sauce. These delicate spheres of fried air-like bread were filled to the brim with chickpeas and potatoes. My only job was to pour a stream of tart tamarind sauce into each orb, and pop them in my mouth. I'm of the strong opinion that starters should always be fun- and this one certainly did the trick. 

While we felt that we might have been a bit overzealous in our ordering of mains (the wish list seemed to never end!), we were surprised (if not slighty pleased) that the portions weren't as large as we had expected. Most Indian restaurants we've been to offer up massive portions, only for us to attempt to eat it all and leave defeated. But Voujon's menu is a bit more refined than the rest.

Saag aloo is a no-brainer at any Indian restaurant. Even though it's usually pegged as a side dish, I could easily eat it as an entire meal. Tender potatoes cooked in creamy spinach is as indulgent as it gets. For a bit of a change from the usual, we also ordered a side of aloo gobi. Similarly to saag aloo, aloo gobi features potatoes, but has the added bonus of cauliflower- and in a much lighter sauce. The two together? Definitely a winning pair. 

Rice and naan are staples in any Indian or Bengali restaurant. Peshwari naan, being a favourite of mine because of my sweet tooth, was a must-order item. And while I've had my fair share of Peshwari naan in the past, this one definitely stood out. Impossibly fluffy, with a crisp top, Voujon's naan is one for the books. A side of saffron rice also paired well with the mains, adding a touch of flavour without being overwhelming. 

The main events? Well, the blogger rule is to get two very different dishes. Keen to try out some authentic Bengali food, I took a risk and went for the Shatkora chicken. For me, this dish was a standout because of the exotic fruit that featured prominently. Almost like a combination of lime and apple, the  fruity taste was unexpected, but married well with the slightly spicy sauce. Definitely not your average chicken curry. 

Despite my efforts to think outside the box, Ben's main of sag gosht proved to be both of our favourites (yes, we compete to see who orders the better meal!). Juicy pieces of lamb, earthy spinach and fenugreek, and warming ginger all meld together into a dish that has you savouring each bite. 

Just when I thought that I've experienced the best of Edinburgh's Indian food scene, another great spot pops up to add to my ever-growing list. With wholesome Indian cuisine as its foundation, and a passion for introducing its patrons to Bengali food at its heart, Voujon achieves the perfect balance of serving tried and true classics along with new, exotic favourites. 

Thank you to Voujon and Crimson Edge PR for inviting me to the restaurant for a review. You can learn more about Voujon and view the full menu on their website here


Finding Comfort in the Unknown

The unknown is an uncomfortable thing. Especially for someone like myself where planning is a way of life (I am my mother's daughter, after all). But now, as I come into true adulthood, I find myself amidst the most unknown part of my life I've possibly ever experienced.

I may have sought consolation in the odd friend or two about how I don't yet know where I'll be this summer, or what I'll be doing. It's May, and to the average college student not having set summer plans at this point is a nightmare. But the truth of the matter is, my seemingly inescapable apprehension regarding the summer appears to be only a taste of what's to come within the next year or so.


5 Tips for Traveling on a Student Budget

It's no secret that I love to travel. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who instilled the travel bug in me, and continue to do so- my mom is a travel writer after all (talk about goals). But most of the time my bank account doesn't quite agree with the images of wanderlust I have in my head.

I think it's so funny how a lot of my friends from home think that because I live abroad now, that I jet off to exotic destinations every weekend. But that couldn't be further from the truth- most of my weekends are spent happily in Edinburgh, doing work, running, and cooking. But I can't deny that living in the UK does grant me incredible access to the best that mainland Europe (and beyond) has to offer. 

Even if I can technically leave at the drop of a hat for Paris or Rome, I always prefer to be a bit more calculative in my travel. If I didn't plan anything, man would my wallet me hurting. But traveling on a student budget doesn't have to be as boring or limiting as you think. I know I've rambled on about student travel in past posts (like the one I wrote on Venice), but I thought I'd use this post to accumulate my best tips for travel that aren't "duh" obvious. 


Edinburgh's Best Breakfast & Brunch Spots

For me, breakfast didn’t start being the “most important meal of the day” until I started waking up later. 7AM wake ups in high school did not a happy morning person make. So I usually skipped out on having a proper breakfast, usually opting to have a granola bar on the go.

But coming into University, where my schedule is more relaxed and my morning meal more often than not extends into the early afternoon, made me appreciate how good breakfast can really be. And weekend brunches? Even better! With more options and the most creative combinations of sweet and savory, brunch just about edges out any other meal.

Edinburgh might just be giving London a run for its money when it comes to breakfast and brunch spots. Being the most ‘gram-able meal of the day, I can see why the competition is so fierce. So today I’m here to tell you about the best of the best (and I really mean the best) places to go to start your day- whether that’s at 9AM or 1PM.


5 Ways To Be An Effective Political Activist

If one good thing has come out of the US presidential election (and the repercussions thereafter), it's that much of the American population has become more interested in how our government actually works. Now, I'm not an expert, but the past few months have been eye-opening in terms of learning about what the President can and can't do as well as what us citizens have the right to do in opposition.

And that's what I want to talk about today- what your regular ol' American citizen can do to effect change. And for this, I owe it to my mother who has been incredibly inspiring in taking action and doing everything in her power to exert her power as a citizen. In fact, this post is for me more than anything- to encourage myself to be a better advocate for change than I am now. Remember: we all can be doing more.

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that the result of the election left me feeling disappointed, frustrated, and angry. The months afterward? Well, they weren't so great either. In fact, they've probably been worse because it's real now. But the thing is, we can't just complain talk about it.


36 Hours In New York City

Having just returned to the U.S. on Friday after being in Edinburgh for the semester, I did a quick 180 and hopped on a GoBus with my mom on Sunday morning heading for New York. And only for 36 hours. Talk about a whirlwind.

I've been to New York many times in my life- I'm so lucky that I live in Boston where the transport connections are easy and the fares are relatively cheap. But I wouldn't call myself an expert on New York (you can look to my NYU friends for that). This 36 Hour trip barely covers 1% of the city, and it hardly mentions any of the main tourist attractions. So if you've never been I wouldn't treat this as gospel. Still, aren't we all tired of hearing about people going to the Empire State Building and The Statue of Liberty?

Also, I think it's fair to mention that the whole point of this trip was for my mom and I to meet up with her longtime friend from high school who now lives in Australia. We hardly ever get to see her or her family, so this was the perfect excuse to travel to New York!


The Huxley, Edinburgh: Where game-day food meets hotel chic

Imagine a place where you can sit down for a meal with an elegant cocktail in hand, take in the posh surroundings of a city-center restaurant, and devour an entire plate of pork-laden nachos. Does such a place exist? With restaurants that promise a fine-dining experience (à la small plates, naturally) popping up left and right, there seems to be little room for those who focus on true comfort foods.

The Huxley, however, delivers the best of both worlds: a truly classy setting alongside indulgent, addictive food (where size really does matter). Think bar classics and game day food all served in a modern hotel venue.


Why Home Friends Are So Important

Friendships: they grow, they change, they break, and they endure.

In elementary school, you're told to make new friends, but keep the old. But how many of us actually remember actively putting in an effort to make those friends? Playdates were usually set up by our parents, and our friendships were usually a result of who was in our classes.

In middle school, things got cliquey and your social status was determined by how many bar and bat mitzvahs you got invited to (at least, that was the case where I grew up). You worried about who you would sit with in the cafeteria, and whether or not it was actually cool to be in the school band or chorus.


Element, Edinburgh: A Scottish Treat on a Bustling Side Street

Edinburgh's food scene is currently witnessing a revival of sorts; one where restaurants and cafes are going back to their Scottish roots. Maybe it's the prospect of a second Independence Referendum, or maybe it's just that Scotland has always been fiercely proud of its culture. But one thing's for sure: haggis is no longer an anomaly on any given menu in Edinburgh.

Tucked away on pedestrian-only Rose Street, Element brings Scottish fare into a fresh and modern light. The menu changes as often as the seasons, paying homage to Scotland's ever-changing food landscape, meaning this menu is as dynamic as the country itself. What's better is that Element has really been upping it's game recently, with a refurb of the decor as well as the addition of daily brunch offerings to its menu. Talk about on-trend!


10 Random Things You Might Not Know About Me

Since my last two posts were very meaty and dense, I thought I'd switch gears this week and treat you to a quick 'n' fun post about none other than myself. Now before you go on about how vain I am, I think we have to admit that we all love reading about other people's lives. I mean, why else would blogging be so popular? (or maybe that's because we all love writing about ourselves...)

I'm not sure if all of these would qualify as "fun facts" you would share while going around the room on the first day of class. In fact, I think they're more fun than that type of fun fact. Read on and see if you agree!

Fact #1: Really Likes cocktails 


Meet Me In Morocco, Part 2: The Atlas Mountains & Sahara Desert

The prospect of escaping the bustling (and beautiful) city of Marrakech for a whirlwind two days visiting the mountains and the desert was an offer this girl just couldn't resist. And at only €50 a head, how could I say no? 

Picture this: traipsing around an ancient village, frolicking about some of the world's most picturesque mountains, and spending a night under the stars in a Berber campsite. Sounds glamorous, no? 

Little did we know that we would be spending most of our 36 hour trip on a mini bus, falling in and out of sleep, while Arabic music blasts through the speakers. Perhaps not the most comfortable of journeys, but, as they say, the juice is worth the squeeze. 

Before I move onto the details of our trip out of the city, I thought I'd talk a bit about how we ended up booking this excursion, for those of you looking to do the same in the future. There is no shortage of companies to book with for day trips outside of Marrakech. Whether you want to go to the Mountains, the Desert, or to Essaouira, a nearby beach town, you'll likely have people hounding you to hop on their minibus every time you walk through the Medina. 


Meet Me In Morocco, Part 1: Marrakech

There is no other place in the world where a distinct sense of exoticism, unparalleled beauty, and the promise of a unique holiday experience lures in travelers from far and wide quite like Marrakech. I say this because I've noticed a certain degree of glamorization that comes with talk of this city. 

Indeed, Marrakech is as stunning, as captivating, and as full of life and unbridled energy as many make it out to be. And this blog post will certainly highlight the beautiful places I visited, and the delicious food I ate. But there are challenges that come with visiting a place where you know neither the first nor second language of the country. Where poverty runs rabid among 5-star hotels and luxury spas. And where not every aspect of the city is tailor-made to Western tastes and expectations.

Don't get me wrong: I don't aim to give a negative view of Marrakech. In fact, I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. But I want to give an honest account of the best, and most frustrating times. This first blog post is going to focus on just our time in the city of Marrakech itself. I'll be back next week with a post on our trip to the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert! (that way, these posts will be shorter and a bit easier to read)


The Scottish Steakhouse: A meat based love affair

It isn't too often that Ben and I travel outside of Edinburgh in search of the next best restaurant. Edinburgh really is an up and coming food hub, with new spots popping up practically every week, so there's always bound to be a restaurant on my list of places to try. But there's something quite romantic about hopping on a train and escaping the city, if only for an evening.

So when I won a Valentine's Day meal at the Scottish Steakhouse in Falkirk, I jumped at the chance to explore one of Edinburgh's many neighboring towns. And, as an added bonus, this would be the first time that Ben and I would go out to eat on Valentine's Day. We usually prefer to cook a romantic meal at home, but putting the responsibility on someone else for one of the year's most pressure-filled nights was a bit of a relief (especially after last year when I completely failed at making creme brulee...).

Armed with hungry stomachs and absolutely no knowledge on how to get around Falkirk, Ben and I boarded a very reasonably priced ScotRail train and made our way in the opposite direction to everyone else at Waverley Station. While Edinburgh was gradually filling up with couples from the suburbs aiming to celebrate V-Day in the capital, we were headed out to the significantly quieter nearby towns.

We pulled up in a taxi to the old Scottish manor house turned hotel which the restaurant was located in, excited to see where this adventure would take us.

Faced with a menu full of Scottish classics, and the task to choose the most blog-worthy dishes of all, we went ahead and ordered two very different starters. Since steak is a rather rich and filling main dish, and I wanted to be able to fully appreciate it when it came time to dig in, I chose a lighter starter of Shetland mussels. Soaked in a briny broth, but kicked up a notch with a hint of chili, these mussels were the perfect start to what would later end up being a much heavier meal (from which I would undoubtedly roll home).


My Edinburgh Bucket List

After this week, I'll be halfway through this academic semester (not including the exam period at the end), and it's had me in a bit of a panic that next year I'll be in my final year of University. And while there's a lot of academic pressure to come, I've also realized that there are so many fun things in Edinburgh that I've yet to do!

It may be a bit pre-emptive to start a bucket list for my remaining time in this lovely city, but I also think making a mini (and by no means exhaustive) list of things I'd like to do is a good reference for whenever I have a free weekend (or, let's be real- afternoon).


January 2017: Going, going, gone

I finally feel like I'm back in somewhat of a routine. After the past few weeks of nonstop travel, academic work, and social events, the lull in my schedule is leaving me feeling more relieved than ever. It sounds crazy, but in the past two weeks I've been in Edinburgh (obviously), London, York, and Sheffield. I even realized after spending 14 days in the UK since winter break, I had only spent 6 of those days in Edinburgh. Yikes.

But even though things have calmed down quite a bit, this bout of business had led me to realize that this coming semester year, I'm going to have to be more flexible on making time-sacrifices. There's so much to do as I look to the future, so something's gotta give. It's not like I won't be running, singing or writing anymore, but I might have to pull back on one of the above each week or so. It's not the best feeling by any means, but it's a temporary solution.

Since I've been full speed ahead on lots of different things since the start of the semester, I thought I'd share a few tidbits from the past few weeks. Plus, I thought I'd also add in a little bit at the end of this post on what I'm looking forward to in the coming weeks.


Finding My Voice, 3,000 Miles Away

This past weekend, I spent the majority of my Saturday night at a formal ball. When I finally reached for my phone late that night and checked my social media, I was flooded with updates on my newsfeed; thousands of people were detained in major airports, protests were raging, and the ACLU had made a move on blocking this newly enacted legislation.

In this moment, the weight of an overwhelming sense of guilt washed over me. It crushed me. I felt that I was so far disconnected from the country I called home. I felt as though the world I knew was caving in, and I was just watching it from afar.

Being far away from home is difficult. Anyone who's taken a semester abroad could tell you that. But when your home country is changing drastically by the second, in ways you could never really expect, this combination of homesickness paired with guilt is amplified. And when the events taking place aim to threaten your friends, family, and identity? Well, that's another story.

And it's the story that I want to tell you today.  

Me and my Iranian father.


Journeying Through Scotland & Beyond at Taisteal, Edinburgh

Surprisingly for Scotland's capital, exceptional Scottish restaurants are increasingly hard to come by. But maybe that's because the purveyors of Scottish fare are thinking too inside the box; haggis, meat pies, and black pudding do not wholly represent Scottish cuisine, after all. In fact, you'll find more Indian and Asian food influences around Edinburgh than you will provincial British.

There's a new restaurant in town, however, that truly hits the nail on the head when it comes to embodying the Scottish spirit, and representing the melting-pot that Scotland's metropolitan areas really are. Taisteal, located in the uber-hip and unmistakably upscale neighborhood of Stockbridge, is the brainchild of Michelin-trained chef Gordon Craig, and seeks to meld together Scottish cuisine with flavors from around the world. The Gaelic word for "journey" or "travel", Taisteal delivers on its promise with a refined menu of unexpected culinary mastery.


Tales from Tremblant: A Winter Wonderland

Ski season is upon us, and there are far too many snow-covered destinations to choose from to satisfy your cravings for fresh powder. From the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the Rockies, and all the way to the Swiss Alps, choosing the right place to hit the slopes is no easy feat.

If you're like me, and not exactly a seasoned ski-bunny, you'll want to find somewhere that has as many greens and blues as it does blacks, and has enough to do when the sun goes down and the ski lifts screech to a halt (or when your legs give out from all the activity!)

The perfect place to fulfill both of these requirements? Welcome to Mont Tremblant.


This Week's Top Five

Today’s post is a bit of a roundup of the new and noteworthy things I’ve been up to this past week.  From a trip to the movies, to soaking up one of winter’s finest sports on the coldest day of the year (and at an outdoor venue no less), it’s been a whirlwind week to say the least!

I will say that since I’ve had Ben hanging around at home, I’ve been doing a lot more than I would normally do during any holiday period. So don’t think for a second that my life is normally this exciting!

Also, I think I should note that I have a big travel post coming up for next week, so I’m trying to save every last morsel of my creative energy for that!

Seeing La La Land //

I know that this movie has been hyped to no end over the past month or so, but it is absolutely deserving of all the buzz. From the energetic tunes and euphoric choreography, to the rainbow of colors in every scene, this film was perfection from start to finish. Not to mention, the talent of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone was unfathomable. You don’t get many actors nowadays who can also sing, dance, and play piano.

We saw La La Land at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, adding to my list of favorite independent cinemas. Oh, and before we sunk into our seats, we filled up on carbs and sugar at Paris Creperie- another Brookline favorite!

Modern Art at the MFA //

The Museum of Fine Arts has been a favorite museum of mine since I was little. I loved traipsing around the museum with my mom, where we would haunt the paintings in the American wing. While I’ve always found myself drawn to the old-world American and European art at the museum, this time I took the time to explore the modern art exhibits in more detail- and I was absolutely floored by how incredible it was! I’ll let these photos speak for themselves.  

Downton Day (minus Downton) //

The four-year old tradition has been retained despite our beloved show being over, and the tea party is just as fun! Last Thursday, we spent the entire afternoon whipping up delicious treats to pair with tea and champagne. Everyone dressed up and reminisced about our favorite Downton characters. Okay, maybe we just stuffed our faces and drank a good few glasses of champagne and didn't talk much about the show but hey, a tradition's a tradition! 

Old-School Sledding //

We had our first big snow storm of the year on Saturday, and while we were meant to go to an outdoor hockey match (see below), those plans were quickly thwarted by the mini-blizzard. Having not seen heavy snow since last year (if at all), I was excited to get outside and make the most of it! Ben, my neighbor and I trekked out through what felt like arctic conditions to head to a park around the corner to indulge in a bit of nostalgic fun. We even brought out my mom's 45-year-old wooden toboggan from Sears!    

Frozen Fenway // 

Whenever Ben comes to visit, a sports game is always on the cards. Whether it was a basketball game last winter or a baseball game this past summer, he can never get enough of Boston's sports scene. And it certainly helps that we are a city of champions. This time, though, we opted out of the expensive professional sports games, and instead tried our luck with a winter classic- Frozen Fenway

Essentially an ice rink plopped into the centre of Fenway Park (a baseball venue) where college teams duke it out, this game is definitely not for anyone from out of town who can't stand the cold. It was truly a "frozen" Fenway experience in all senses of the phrase. While I'll admit that the venue was truly unique, the cold made watching more than two periods absolutely unbearable. And if I'm being honest, I've never really liked hockey. Ben soon found out that he didn't really like hockey either. Well, at least we tried!

I'm hoping to get back to a regular schedule (ie. Mondays) with my blogging in two weeks time (I would promise this coming week but seeing as I'm going to be more traveling than I initially thought that might not be the case). So look out for a big, meaty travel post next week!         


2017 New Year's Resolutions

I hate to say it, but at the start of this new year, I'm left feeling a bit out of sorts. Not in the "can't manage to get anything done" way, but more so in the sense that I feel more disorganized than I usually do come the new year.

For most people, the new year is a time for creating lists, setting goals, and being more active. It's a good excuse to kick yourself into gear, but at the same time it's not super sustainable to set unattainable goals that you know you'll only keep up for the next week. I, for one, am one to try to seek motivation year-round. So maybe I'm being a bit too hard on myself for not having everything together these past few days.  

That being said, I'm using this blog post to get myself in the right frame of mind for the new year. So, I suppose you could say this post is more for me than for any of you reading out there. But still, I always find it fun to read what other people's goals and resolutions are for the new year. So here are mine! 

Brainstorm blog posts once per week // The past month or so has been really hard for me in terms of blogging. Maybe it had to do with all of the essays I had to write, or all of the internship applications I've been filling out, but my usual passion for blogging has slightly waned over the past few weeks. I end up coming into each week not knowing what I want to write about at all and it's the worst feeling. To get my blogging creativity going, I'm going to try brainstorming blog post ideas once a week so that I have a full arsenal of ideas on hand. 

Talk to my brothers more // I'm that girl who talks to her mom every. single. day. at university. I'm not ashamed to say it all because I know it's important for both of us, and it has nothing to do with being homesick. But, while I am constantly on the phone to my mom, I barely ever talk to my three brothers. This year, I'd like to make a better effort to call them to catch up. 

Adopt a cool-headed mindset // This probably makes me sound like some sort of emotional weirdo, but I find that I'm usually quite reactive to situations. I'm not the type to truly panic or become anxious at the drop of a hat, but, like most people, I often react before I fully think through the circumstances at hand. I know that I'd be much better off reminding myself that things will work out alright in the end. This year, I'd like to make "be calm" my personal mantra. 

Participate in more twitter chats // I always notice other incredible bloggers that I follow participating in these and they always seem so fun! They're such a great way to meet and interact with other bloggers, gaining new insights and ideas. But twitter chats also seem to require a lot of effort and forward thinking. This year, I'd like to aim to participate in a blogger twitter chat at least once a month! 

Be more accepting of making time-sacrifices // I'm the first to admit that I'm the kind of person who has a lot on her plate most of the time. Because of that, I find it hard to let go of certain activities and responsibilities if the time just isn't there. I know that making sacrifices is a part of life, and that my priorities can suffer if I don't make these tough choices. So this year I plan on embracing these moments, and reminding myself that I'm better for it!
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