spring break

I am in the trenches of this comprehensive exam studying and life is not terribly fun. Because my brain frequently finds itself tired, I’m trying to alternate studying (I got in a great 2.5 hours on Saturday night in a deserted coffee shop- the rest of my town was watching the Final Four- GO HEELS!) with… not studying. If my brain says, “Ugh, Ileana, please not now”, and inertia is stronger than anxiety over failing, that’s when I turn to an alternate activity.

In this case, that alternate activity is recapping my spring break, a mere three weeks or so ago that seems like a different lifetime.

Ironically, my first picture is of studying. It’s pleasant when it can be done in my favorite Korean bakery in my hometown. I got a sweet potato latte (yasss) and sat in the hipster upstairs lounge. There were several Korean businessmen having a meeting in this rather unconventional location.

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And the rest of my (all too brief) time at home was hanging out with my mom and my cat. Sheila tolerates being photographed more, so that’s what you’re getting.

In her corner of the couch:

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On my lap as I do a crossword in my mom’s real paper NEWSPAPER (oh the luxury!)

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Even when she is not with me, she is with me. Ah, shedding season.

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I knew I’d have to get back to NC midway through spring break to get my life together- work for a laughably small amount of money, clean my disaster apartment, catch up on school, etc.

In order to preserve my mental health, I planned several occasions with friends so I wouldn’t immediately become cripplingly depressed in the absence of the unconditional love I’d been soaking up at home.

My classmate Jenna and I have been bonding throughout the semester in our food science class because we are basically culinary soul mates. We decided to prepare a Mediterranean seafood fest together! It was smashing.

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She brought AMAZING scallops, I made shrimp (I took a pic of a recipe from one of my mom’s cookbooks for a Spanish-style preparation that essentially consisted of a ton of garlic, olive oil, and parsley. Legit.)

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Also in the meal was a lovely salad Jenna made (with tomatoes, bell peppers and SO MANY PINE NUTS YUMMM), a simple fennel and green apple salad that I made with lemon and olive oil, and some sweet little red potatoes I made with olive oil and lemon and LOTS of parsley. Quite the delicious meal.

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I also hung out with my cousin one day, taking a lovely walk in the springtimey sunshine with her and her adorable dog.

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And, if you haven’t figured out already that this post is mostly animals, I went to the cat refuge for the first time in WAY too long.

The cats were in good spirits because it was a beautiful spring day. When cats are friends it makes me SO HAPPY.

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I just wandered around petting cats. It was bliss.

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This one was like, “Chop chop, keep the petting coming.”

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Torties are so adorable.

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I had plans with friends that evening (my birthday gift to them was a free babysitting gig so they could have a night out) and I thought it would be nice to bring some lovely baked goods! (And give myself an excuse to go to my favorite bakery!)

I got a big ol box of goodies, and then sat in the sunshine and read the Indy. Downtown Pittsboro is so adorable- like going back in time!

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I got the coffee from a super hipster coffee shop around the corner from the bakery. I loved their decor.

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Then, box of baked goods in hand, I was off to my friends’. Before they went out, they fed me dinner! Dan made this SO SO SO GOOD homemade ramen (I believe the recipe was from Food and Wine? Seeing this picture is reminding me that I need to get the recipe from him!)

Doesn’t this bowl look like a cute muppet with googley eyes?!

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It ended up being quite the feast; also including egg rolls and a TOPPINGS BAR.

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Also, bragging: my friend’s little two year old, T, is a bit of a picky eater (shocking, I know, for a two year old). However, when she saw me eating noodles, she wanted some herself and ate them with gusto. Her parents turned to me and went, “… She hasn’t eaten noodles in months. Can you just be here at mealtimes to get her to eat stuff?”

T and I spent the evening reading books, and it was SO FUN reading Richard Scarry’s Busy Busy Town- who remembers that?!

The next day, I took a CPR class (actually, a basic life support CPR test- a level above the standard one). It was in Raleigh, which meant I of course had to pop in and see my sister and her boyf and the animals.

Here is Malindi, looking like Mother Nature with her animal friends.

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After catching up a bit with Malindi and her boy and the kitty and the doglet, Malindi and took off to get brunch at Joule, which was hoppin’. We sat at the bar. I got some of their coffee, which was noms.

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I’ve been trying to eat more salads lately, since my vegetable intake is highly unimpressive in periods of academic stress, and a salad is a nice big veggie delivery system.

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This one was HUGE (two meals’ worth) and very delicious. Bitter endive, bleu cheese, caramelized onion vinaigrette, a TON of avocado, and best of all, pistachios.

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Malindi got the pancake which turned out to be a legit cake. Sweet and tall and dense and buttery. With scads of whipped cream. We swapped bitesies.

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Then I wanted a hot chocolate after my salad (#balance) and went to the fancy chocolate shop which in part was this weird psychological battle of me being like “Who cares if it’s near your ex’s place?! You are a strong independent woman!” and part of me being like nauseanauseanauseawhyamIinthisneighborhood.

Anyway, I like their historic hot chocolates.

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But the best part of the day was taking my sister’s furbaby for a walk by the lake in his sweet little catpack.

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And thus concluded Spring Break.

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