introducing: scout + wolf


Coming down and getting back into our new normal after the wedding has been really wonderful. It's easy to get lost in all of the planning, putting things on hold and what not, but now that the dust is finally settling, there's something I'd like to share with you.




Last night, Jesse and I went out on a date. Date nights are some of my favorite because it gives us a chance to unwind, enjoy each other's company and really pick each other's brains about goals. And then, sometimes you have date nights that involve self-evolution and life-changing talks. And sometimes, these talks involve creativity. And passion. And lighting a fire under one's (read: my) ass. Because this is something I've desired and yearned for for years and years. Because lovers, friends, frenemies, family, framilies and everyone in between can become a community who shares something at the table. Because at least 75% of my Instagram photos are of meals. Because the kitchen has always felt like my safe place. Because rare and unusual ingredients get me giddy. Because my Le Creuset french oven is my most prized kitchen possession after a great knife set.

Because...because...because. I can give you a million other "because" reasons. But my most important "because" is simple: Because food. (Duh.)



I'm starting a food blog (eeeeep!) called Scout + Wolf. It is currently under construction so before I actually launch it, I want all of you to be a part of a  pop-up food series on T Spoon of Sunshine dedicated solely to cooking, creating, eating and enjoying. I'll be sure to add recipes that I find inspiring and also include my own. I'd really love your suggestions and feedback! Think of it as a soft-opening and all of you are invited. ;-)

Now that that's all out in the open, what would you like the first recipe to be? I'd love to know.

(P.S. In the meantime, start following Scout + Wolf on Instagram!)

 
 

one.


It's amazing to think that exactly one month ago, I found myself alone for a few precious seconds before walking down the aisle to the man who stole a huge part of my heart. In that fleeting instance in the bridal suite of the venue where we wed, my knees buckled, my breath had to be paced and I realized that I don't think I had ever, in my life, felt more present than right then and there. 

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Having asked those who had had weddings before how they felt during the big day, I got several responses:  "It was a blur," or "I looked like I was having a lot of fun in the pictures, " or "It goes by so fast." I didn't want it to be a blur, or that it just looked like I was having fun. I wanted to remember and savor every single moment of it and I most certainly wanted to actually have fun. I wanted to keep that day in slow-mo because that magic comes around so rarely in life.




Then everything happened.




The wedding party started to file in. A enthusiastically called for him over a sea of people and her voice was so ecstatic and genuine it carried over to the room I was in and made me well up with tears. And my cue came when Andrew Bird's "Unfolding Fans" started to play. It was time to commit to the rest of my life with the love of my life.



I made it to him and we held each other's hands. We were nervous and giddy, maybe a little scared but mostly excited. We whispered calming words to each other and smiled and laughed. It was everything I was supposed to be feeling and more.




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The day was dreamy, ethereal, bright and honest. There was so much color! Seeing our family and closest friends touched us to the core. A girlfriend of mine told us that the reason she loves weddings so much is because she's there to witness and support a union between two people who love each other, that she is part of a select group of people who are also a community of love for the couple, and that her job is to remind us of who we are and why we fell in love with each other in times that may be stormy down the road. Isn't that beautiful? As a guest, I never thought of weddings that way until she mentioned it and it's certainly something that holds weight.


Onto the next big thing! This life just gets more and more extraordinary.



 
 

the 11-day homestretch.



Somehow, I blinked and all this time managed to slip between the cracks. In what feels like a very short past six months, I dove right into planning a wedding and curating a marriage. Now, I find myself going through a checklist of final things that need to be taken care of over the next eleven days.

You guys. Eleven.

There's so much going on in my head and in my heart that there isn't one word to accurately summarize this emotion. What I do know is that I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. The other night, I found myself in bed feeling really antsy. I was trying to get to bed but I was in that weird space of time just before falling asleep but struggling to fight a too-active mind. I was going back and forth with myself about all the wedding details: flowers, decor, food, drinks, etc. You know, all the stuff on the sidelines of parties but are incredibly critical to the way the party is actually executed. I thought about my Maids of Honor (yes, Maids because I couldn't pick just one). I thought about my dress. I thought about the weather--how hot will it be? How humid will it be? I thought about A's nap schedules and wishing and hoping she doesn't have a flower girl meltdown (toddlers!). I thought about my dad and how I wished he could be there, even if he was a total grouch. I thought about the cake and the pies we will have. And I thought about Jesse. In his suit. Standing at the end of the aisle looking handsome as all hell. Waiting for me. Me!

I told a girlfriend of mine that it feels like there's a balloon in my chest that keeps rising and falling, as if someone is trying to inflate it, but air keeps escaping it. It deflates, but more air is added until it feels tight and big, like it's about to burst. The pattern repeats itself--deflate, inflate, deflate, inflate. I look around me and see the life we're building, and also see the life we've already built. I look over at him and feel all the things: there he is, the man I'm going to spend the rest of my life with. We are passionate people with a lot of fight in us. And in our relatively short-ish relationship, we've been put through the ringer, yet somehow, there was a natural and organic progression of things. We went through an evolution and we are continuing to evolve. This is the man I'm creating a future with. Together, we are going to make this life the best we've ever known. I love what we have and the life we are headed towards.

I recently got some really great advice that I'm taking wholeheartedly from one of my best friends who said, "Try to remember these last few days in as much detail as possible. Try and remember what it was like before you actually got married. Because those feelings are never going to be there again and they are so sweet to remember." I agree. And I also believe the sweetest memories are yet to come.




 
 

an anniversary.


The month of March will forever hold a special place in my heart. My sweet A was born, it is the start of spring, and exactly one year ago today, A and I made Atlanta our new home. Isn't it crazy how fast that happened? In a year's time, so much has changed and continues to change, moving us along beautifully in the present and into such a bright future full of happiness and I'm eternally grateful to have a man in my life who is along for the ride. Today is our one year anniversary in this city among the trees. Spring is springing all around--the grass is getting greener, the flowers are starting to bloom, and the air feels fresher. There's always a feeling of newness that I embrace and now look forward to each year at this time. It's like a magical restart button that I get to press.

I just realized that my two previous posts were mirror opposites of each other--death and birth. Even more symbolic to me is that these topics are direct and personal and ones I have recently experienced. With death comes birth and it repeats--a constant circle that never stops, a pattern that's predictable and expected, and something that everyone will experience at some point in their lives. There are times when I can't help but accept that it was simply my dad's time to go. On our recent trip over there, I found out that his last words were, "I'm very very tired." And when we got there and saw him, he just appeared to be sleeping, resting peacefully with a slight smile. That's the best that I could have expected, you know? And again, at the very least, he and A got to "meet" each other, albeit not in the way I would have wanted, but a connection nonetheless.

This spring is throwing us right into the beginning of the next year of excitement and anticipation and I can't wait. So much again is happening so stay tuned. The best is yet to come!


 
 

two.



Dear An-chan,

You officially turned two years-old today. Two! I can't believe it. In your short time on earth, you've already accomplished so much: seven or eight at-home haircuts (I've lost track), crawling, standing, walking, running, the mastery of the temper tantrum, being demure, being a ham, singing songs, counting to ten (sometimes to eleven), dancing, and my most favorite thing yet--saying, "I love you so much more every day!" You've also traveled quite a bit by trains, planes, and automobiles. You've explored both the east and west coasts of the continental United States and you got to experience your first international trip to Japan just a few weeks ago. I will say, you're a pretty great travel companion (when you behave ;-)! How did I get so lucky to have a little girl like you?

Not only have you done so much on your own, you've also challenged me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. I've never been more frustrated with a single human being in my life, yet have never understood or known the kind of love I have for you before. You push me to my limits and just when I think I'm about to lose my sh*t, you turn it all around by saying or doing something that leaves me crying from laughter. There are times when we don't and won't see eye to eye. But I hope you always know that I love you and always will love you forever and ever.

Today was all about you. We celebrated everything about you with a picnic in the park complete with family, friends, cupcakes, presents and an impromptu "studio" photo shoot in our kitchen. I love love love you!

Happy birthday, An-chan!

Love,
Mama

 
 

papa.


My dad was an enigma. He was mysterious and weird, stoic and, somehow at the same time, temperamental. My dad could be stubborn, tactless even. He was the kind of man who had presence. He walked in a room and you would feel one of two things: intrigue or fear. Then there was the other side of my dad--the lighter, more jovial side. He was eccentric and more than slightly ostentatious. He was charming and funny, witty and intelligent. People sometimes joked about him being the "international man of mystery" for good reason. He was. And he was my dad.

He lived life completely by his own set of rules. Obviously, that was both good and bad. He built himself up from very little and crumbled back down into nothing before he would start that cycle all over again. He wore so many different hats--a professional concert pianist, a real estate developer, a restauranteur, a commercial fisherman, an international business consultant, and most recently, a pre-school founder / principal. (See...? Weird.) He was a husband three times and a father seven. And he was my dad.

He regaled all of us with colorful stories of his life and his experiences. And the man had stories. I remember him telling my sister and me when we were very young about the time he was in Burma and he ate a tree worm because it was a delicacy. He said it tasted like a "cream puff". There was another story about how when he was in the fishing business, the sea captain fell overboard. Everyone thought had fallen into the Pacific abyss never to return, only to come back a little over a year later right at my dad's doorstep totally good as new. During his days as an entertainer, he played alongside all the greats. But one I know he was so incredibly proud to play with was none other than Ray Charles himself. Talk about a moment, you know? This was my dad!

This morning, as I was getting ready to take A to school, I found out that he had suddenly passed away. There was nothing I could do but cry and feel everything. My heart sank and I desperately searched for meaning in all of it. I'm still trying to understand how it all happened and why, but I don't know the details and at this point, I'm not sure if I want to know everything. I want to remember all of the things that I loved so much about him. I dug deep, unlocked memory vaults, and let the contents spill out. I remember my mom telling me about how my dad was so excited when I was born--excited because I was pink and rosy with a full head of curly hair (like him) and called me his "treasure". I remember him telling me that my hair would be shiny and grow faster if I ate seaweed at dinner. I remember him making us crêpes suzette complete with a Gran Marnier flambé on our electric stovetop. I remember him carrying me up the stairs to my bedroom after having fallen asleep watching movies on the couch in the living room and tucking me in...even when I was too old to be tucked in. I remember him letting us travel to Japan to visit family on our own without parents (!!!) when we were in high school. Only my dad would be crazy enough to let his teenage daughters do that.

I'm grateful for the time I had with him when I lived in Japan after graduating from college. I think I saw a side of him that so few people knew about. There were days when he was just quiet, drinking coffee alone at home, furrowed brow and cigarette in hand. Some days, he looked tortured by his own thoughts. Other days, he'd be grinning from ear to ear. There were times when he and I would take walks in silence but it was peaceful. There were moments when we'd watch marathon races on television and be amazed at some of the runners. We'd be shocked and awed at the Japanese variety shows with their cartoon-like hosts and their glaring lights. We'd have late night conversations and he'd sometimes even humor me with a romantic comedy he picked up at the video store (because he just knew of my penchant for rom-coms). He and I had regular lunch dates--sometimes at the local ramen shop, other times in a fancier hotel restaurant. He introduced me to his friends and colleagues and although I had just graduated and was just an English teacher abroad, he beamed so much when I was with him you'd have thought I was a rocket scientist. I felt it anyway. Some days, he'd forgo shaving and his five o'clock shadow would appear. Over the years, it went from black to grey to white. He could put on a three piece suit on any random day, walk into a building and look like he owned the place. The next day, he'd be unkempt and unshaven and still, he garnered respect. I don't know how he did it. But he did. And that was my dad.


His name was Yoshinori Fujiki but people here called him Charly. He smoked Benson & Hedges Menthol Lights 100s and took his coffee black. He wore custom-made shirts, suits, and shoes. He smelled like Dunhill aftershave. He combed his curls back when he wanted to look fancy. He read books on mixology before mixology was even a thing. He was an iron chef in the kitchen--some dishes a wild success (spicy cod roe spaghetti), others epic failures (orange juice with rice...soup?). He enjoyed beautiful women, luxury cars, gourmet food, and traveling the world. But he also enjoyed road trips, fried pork rinds, and walking around outlet malls. Always proud, never humble. He was my dad. And I am nothing but honored to be his daughter. Papa, you will be so missed.

 
 

danny & annie.


I'm going to try my darndest not to turn this into a wedding blog...but I make no promises for the next five months. ;-) It'll be hard, considering how fun it's actually becoming. Also, with Valentine's Day having just passed, the whole world was lovey-dovey and googly-eyed, which could be part of the reason why my heart feels fuller than usual. I heard this story on NPR's Storycorps a few months ago and only recently found this animated video accompanying the story. True love, marriage, and all of life's tests are here. It's beautiful, moving, and heartbreaking. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.