5 Things I Would Tell My Adolescent Self

 

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18-year-old me (circa 2004)

In 2000, I started high school. A young, scared little 14-year-old entering the halls of a big, new world. I acclimated, just like every other person does at that stage in life – I mean really, what other options do you have? It seems like such a big deal when you’re a teenager…facing the pressures of fitting in while also discovering yourself and coming into your own. As time went on, I did just that. However, I was again, a teenager. I spent hours contemplating what I was going to wear to school the next day so I could “impress” my crush (gag). I would sit on the phone gossiping for hours with my girl friends (back in the day when we had land lines – now a thing of the past). My main concerns involved planning the most epic Spring Break ever, saving my allowance so I could get my acrylic nails filled in and arranging a time to gather at the local Taco Bell to then follow an entourage of peers to the biggest party that weekend. The days of of playing Something Corporate songs on repeat in my car, cutting class and curfews.

It’s hard to believe that I graduated high school almost 12 years ago when it seems like it was just yesterday. During those adolescent years, I was invincible. I never wanted to grow up and I thought 30 was old. Now, here I am… this is 30. Did that just happen? With all of that being said, there are times that I so badly wish I had known then what I know now. But that is the progression of life. You make mistakes and learn from them. All of these little moments throughout your life are stepping stones that ultimately mold you into the human you are today. So what would I tell my adolescent self? To put it lightly, a lot. But these would be the critical points:

1. Knowledge is power. In other words, take your education seriously. When I say it is everything, I mean, it is everything. It’s something that will not only allow you to grow as an individual, but it’s yours and only yours. No one can take it away from you. Read more. Take one-off classes. Further your education. Open your mind. You never stop learning.

2. Stop caring about what other people think. It was hard to break this. Sure, I could tell you that my confidence transcended from a young age to my adulthood…but I would be lying. I really cared what other people thought. I am naturally a people pleaser and even more, I wanted everyone to like me. But that’s not real life. Not everyone will be your biggest fan…and that’s okay. At the end of it all, you can only be true to yourself. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped using up my energy on the people who do not support me and started focusing on the ones that do.

3. Love yourself. This is a big one. How can you possibly give your love to anyone or expect them to love you in return when you do not love yourself first? You are your own worst enemy. Self loathing is not a good look. It’s okay to have insecurities, in fact, it’s perfectly normal. But do not let it consume you. Be proud of yourself and embrace who you are. From the wise words of Sex & The City: “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”

4. Put your dreams into motion and make them a reality. Call it cliche’. However, anyone can sit back and dream (and of course, do not lose sight of that vision), but turn that passion into drive. Make goals – both short term and long term. If you want to achieve something, you are the only one that can make it happen. Just do it. It’s really that simple. Stop making excuses and go after that dream. Make it yours. Make it real.

5. Love with everything you have. We’ve all experienced heartbreak at least once in our lives. But do not let it hinder you. Do not allow the bad experiences you may have encountered in your past to negatively impact your future. There were many times I thought I would never love again, particularly when I was young.  People are going to hurt and disappoint you – that’s just life. However, that excess baggage cannot be strapped on to your back through your lifelong journey. Leave it all behind and allow yourself to be vulnerable. You will be amazed at what magically presents itself when you least expect it. There is no need to fear rejection. Do not be afraid to express your emotions. Say I love you…life is way too short. More importantly, be in the moment and concentrate on those you care about the most (family, significant others, friends, fur babies, peers, etc.).

On a much more serious note – I’m so glad I decided to lay off the blonde highlights. Hey – teenage Jess: that was not a good look!

The Easiest Bolognese Sauce Ever

Hi lovelies!

There are some days when you are just craving comfort food. For me, this usually happens on cold, winter nights and when it’s raining – it’s intensified! While at work, I decided that it would be a good idea to make a pasta with a bolognese sauce that night. Not sure what triggered this epiphany  I had – perhaps it had to do with the fact that I was really missing our honeymoon in Italy.

Let me just start out by saying, I’ve been trying desperately to brush up on my cooking skills since the hubs and I are big fans of good cuisine and like to consider ourselves “foodies”. I wanted to find a recipe that was easy to follow but one I could potentially build on. If you search on Pinterest or Google “bolognese recipe”, I guarantee that you will find thousands. The one that I ended up going with was simple, fresh and a recipe I could certainly add my own little flair to.

So here it is.

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What you need:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 celery stalk (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. ground chuck beef
  • Shredded or grated Romano cheese
  • The pasta of your choosing

Directions:

In a large pot, add the olive oil and cook on medium-high heat until it’s almost smoking. Add in the chopped onion and garlic and cook until the onion becomes soft and almost translucent (approximately 7-8 minutes). Next, add in the chopped celery and carrot and saute (around 5 minutes). Turn the burner to high and add in the ground beef. Stir until the beef is broken up and fully cooked (no longer pink). Lastly, turn your burner on to medium-low heat and add in the tomatoes and parsley, stirring occassionally until the sauce thickens (about 30 minutes).

While the sauce is cooking, go ahead and cook your pasta in a separate pot. Once the sauce is thick and your noodles are done – it is ready to be served. Pour the bolognese sauce over your bowl of pasta, top with the shredded or grated Romano cheese and enjoy!

What’s great about this recipe is it lends itself to be eaten as is or you can get creative and add your own touch to it. For the olive oil, I used a local, basil-infused olive oil to give it a little extra flavor. I also added some dried basil and Melting Pot’s garlic and and herb seasoning because – well, the stuff is good on everything! Something I’d like to attempt next time? Adding a little bit of red wine…but that’s for another day!

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2016 | What I’ve Been Up To

Hello Lovelies!

Happy 2016 (and early Valentine’s Day)!

Although I have a great deal in store this year (I’m back in action after a brief haitus), you may have been wondering what I’ve been up to! Let me give you a brief run down:

Our 2 Year Anniversary Trip to D.C. 

Living in the beautiful Carolinas, sometimes it’s difficult to leave. However, Shahin and I love to travel and instead of buying each other “traditional” wedding anniversary gifts, we do things a little differently in the Arminoei household. We’ve made taking a trip each year one of our traditions. This year, we decided to spend a long weekend in D.C. The fact of the matter is, I had only visited once when I was in elementary school for a field trip and well, let’s just say it’s one of the hubs’ favorite cities and he had been dying to take me there. Now if you know me, of course I did my research prior to our adventure to ensure we were hitting some of the best spots in town (duh).

The Highlights:

Zara

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{ Image courtesy of DC Internationalist }

I know, I know. I have a shopping problem and everyone is aware. Unfortunately, Zara has not yet graced Charlotte with its presence so whenever I see that big, beautiful store – I’ve got my game face on.

Zaytinya (for dinner) + barmini (for drinks) by renowned Chef Jose Andres

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Y’all – I wish I could put into words how blown away we were. After eating at one of James Beard Award Winning Jose Andres’ restaurants, Zaytina, we had drinks at his bar (which required a reservation). Once arriving, we had to ring a doorbell to enter (a little reminiscent of a speakeasy). This place was simply beautiful – clean, chic, hip. The Mixologist provided us with a drink upon arrival to clean our palates and then Shahin and I went to town. This place does hand crafted cocktails right. One of the drinks I had the pleasure of tasting was homemade banana bourbon – absolutely delicious and hands down one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. If you’re in the area – don’t miss out on this place (but make sure you book a spot at the bar in advance!)

White House visit 

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Cliche, but one of those “have tos”. And of course, being the basic white girl I am, Starbucks in hand!

USDA Farmers Market 

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Purely by accident, we stumbled upon a USDA Farmers Market during a stroll through the city on a beautiful Autumn day. We picked up a variety of dumplings, apple kombucha and homemade cola and sat in a park to indulge.

Persian Cuisine

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I guess it’s no secret that D.C. has a buzzing Persian population. To pay homage to the hubby’s heritage, we decided to drive about 30 minutes outside of the city to get a taste of some of the best Persian cuisine I’ve had (aside from when Shahin’s grandmother comes in from Iran and cooks for us). Kabobs, grilled tomatoes and my favorite, Persian rice (tahdig). NOMZ.

Annual Family Trip: Panama 

Each year, Shahin’s dad and stepmom take the family on a trip for a belated Christmas. This is my favorite family tradition because we much prefer experiences and memories over tangible things. I didn’t think anything was going to top last year’s trip to Barcelona, but the fam never ceases to amaze me. This year we traveled to the beautiful country of Panama and stayed right in the heart of Panama City. Not doing a great deal of research in advance, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Panama City reminded me of Miami in a lot of ways. It’s actually a big, international banking city (who knew) and there were restaurants and bars galore, high end shops (hello, Chanel) and so much to see and do.

The Highlights: 

JUICE

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Weird, right? How could juice be a highlight of a trip? Juice is a big deal in Panama. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria and each morning, they had this little piece of heaven we dubbed “liquid life” = watermelon juice. Every morning when we would come down for breakfast, we b-lined straight for the juice (even over the omelette station). This stuff was the real freaking deal. Even outside of the hotel, we would grab juice from a little stand practically every day.

Panama Canal

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We took a boat through the Panama Canal – definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Although the excursion was a little longer than expected, the views were incredible.

Monkey Island & Indigenous Tribe 

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The best excursions we had (in my opinion) both occurred in the same day – and a full day it was! First, we met our guide and took a boat out into the water where we would then pull up to various parts of a jungle (keep in mind: about a 45 minute drive outside of where we were staying). This is where an array of different monkeys would come and visit our boat while we fed them bananas (and in some cases, right from our hands). This was seriously one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. Above is a shot of a monkey that was hanging out on our boat. Pretty up close and personal!

After Monkey Island, we went to spend the rest of our day with an indigenous tribe. Yes – real life. A couple of the tribe members met us and took us out on a canoe to get to their village – life jackets and all (refer to the picture below).

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Once we got to the village, we watched the tribe do a few traditional dances (and then were invited to dance with them), were fed some delicious plantains and fried fish wrapped in a banana leaf and then had a little Q&A time (thank goodness we had a translator). We were also to buy some crafts from the tribe which was a really neat concept in itself because each family had their own table and the money went directly to them. I picked up a couple of beautiful hand crafted vases – LOVE! Below is a picture of the end of our excursion. The tribe was so welcoming – definitely a experience for the books!

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Coming Soon: DIY Project 

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So what else has been going on aside from traveling? The hubs and I picked up this beauty from one of my best friend’s moms (who owns Charlotte Staging). It’s actually an antique record player but we immediately saw its potential – and if you’ve seen some of my other posts, we love DIY projects. I am really looking forward to tackling this one!

So far, Shahin’s taken out the record player, and we will be using it to decoratively conceal our entertainment center. The piece has officially been sanded and we’ve removed the grates and added shelves. Step 2 of 3 complete.

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So what’s next? Of course, you’ll need to stay tuned (blog on this one coming soon) but we’ll be painting it and transforming it even more! We’re definitely going mid-century modern here – I’m thinking brass legs and a high gloss white paint. Below is an image I snagged from Pinterest and will be using it as inspiration!

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Be back soon! XO

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