Thursday, February 12, 2015

Arizona Road Trip

Ever since I saw Britney's music video for I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman in the majestic desert, I've wanted to go to Antelope Canyon in Arizona. I woke up in the middle of the night recently and decided "why not just go?" It would be about a 9 hour drive from Los Angeles to Page, Arizona so I asked a girl friend if she was down and we planned a trip two weeks after. 

We started driving on a Friday morning and the nine hours just flew by. The roads were peaceful and the scenery was amazing. 

We drove out of California, to Nevada, then Arizona and the windy road took us up to Utah and then back to Arizona again. Four states in one day!

We were almost at the hotel by the time the sunset, so we pulled over to enjoy the view and the tee-pee.

The next day, we did the Upper Antelope Canyon tour and a guide took us through the gorgeous canyons that have been shaped over time by wind and sand. You can often spot shapes like hearts (below) and Abe Lincoln's profile.

 It was truly amazing to see in person and the photos don't do it justice.

After the tour, we drove to Horseshoe Bend and had this view of the Colorado river. We're almost 1,000 ft above sea level!

And what's a road trip to Arizona without swinging by the Grand Canyon? It was about a two hour drive away from Page, AZ and was well worth the trip. I haven't been here since I was a kid so I didn't remember a thing. It was so massive I felt more like I was looking at a painting.

It was a really beautiful trip with a great friend, filled with a lot of laughs, memories and photos.

So, maybe all I need is time. A moment that is mine, while I'm in between. Lolz.

Friday, October 24, 2014


I was at Bed Bath and Beyond the other day and ended up buying a strategically placed, as-seen-on-tv item: the Veggetti. I've seen this for a while now and wondered if I'd actually use it for vegetables other than zucchini. I felt that my julienne peeler and mandolin slicer take care of all of my potato and carrot slicing needs, so did I really need another slicer? The answer was yes. Yes, I did. I love zucchini and have made a conscious effort to eat less pasta this year. I know you can use the Veggetti for other vegetables, but in the moment, it seemed worth it enough even if I only use it for zucchini. 

The first couple of times, I just sliced zucchinis into zoodles and paired with a creamy avocado sauce (avocado, garlic, parsley) with baby heirloom tomatoes loosely based on a recipe I found on Pinterest. There are plenty of other recipes on Pinterest, of course, for spiral cut vegetables. I was expecting to put some elbow grease into the slicing, but it was really easy to use. I have had a couple of accidents slicing my fingers on my ancient mandolin slicer, so I'm happy to report no fingers were harmed during the use of this product. It's safe, easy and helps make fun, healthy meals.

My most recent zoodle dish has been beef stir fry, here is one zucchini all sliced up: 

I boiled bean sprouts first and then added the zoodles, which only take about 5 minutes to cook. If you leave them boiling too long, the zucchini gets too mushy to be noodley. Then I threw the bean sprouts and zoodles in a strainer until I was ready to add it to the wok.

In a wok, I fully cooked beef, then added green bell peppers, onions, garlic, soy sauce, sesame seed oil and spices. Once everything was cooked, I added the bean sprouts and zoodles and stired a bit more to incorporate all of the flavors. Lastly, I added some toasted sesame seeds and devoured it all. Just kidding, I shared and even had leftovers. It was really delicious and the ingredients were pretty healthy, so I will be making this again soon.

If I hadn't made this impulse buy at the store ($14.99), I would have ended up buying it on Amazon (only $12!). I am still on the lookout for more fun recipes to use the Veggetti with and maybe I'll even try slicing other vegetables one day!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Korea Trip

Omar and I went to Seoul, South Korea. It was a beautiful city and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see it when I could really appreciate it. I went when I was around 1 or 2 and I don't remember anything, so it hardly counts. The day we left Korea happened to be my birthday, and we went back in time and spent the day in Hawaii, where it was my birthday all over again. 10 days in Korea, 1 in Hawaii made for an unforgettable trip. 

Here are some of the moments of our trip, filled with eating new and interesting foods, shopping,  exploring a city and experiencing its culture.

Lanterns in front of Jogyesa Temple in Insadong for Buddha's birthday week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Macarons

As temperamental as macarons can be, I have been very determined to get it right. The first time I made theM for Christmas, they came out pretty good. They had feet! not too many of them were cracked and they were fairly smooth. It turns out, that was just beginner's luck. My second, third and fourth attempts have resulted iN flat, sad, feetless cookies. They still tasted good, so they didn't go to waste, but I wasn't able to get them to look like a proper macaron should. 

After some persistence and getting a cheap kitchen scale, I finally made a good looking batch for Easter!

Sure some are cracked and not perfect circles, but they all have FEET! They were filled with butter cream frosting with a hint of lemon (and yellow food coloring).

And here they are next to the Easter flowers and fruit (and coffee, but it didn't make it in the picture). 

Here are some of the problems I think I was having with the flat batches:

♥ The Recipe 
I was trying different recipes, so I wasn't keeping it consistent. I found the most success with Martha Stewart's recipe in the March 2014 issue.

♥ The Measurements
I've noticed some recipes are listed in grams instead of cups, or they might include both. I ordered a small kitchen scale on Amazon and compared measurements from cups to grams and would get a different amount. The scale helped me get more precise measurements for the almond flour and sugar.

♥ The Humidity
I know I can't make meringue when it's raining, and the macaron is basically a meringue cookie, so the same rule applies. I live about 3 miles from the beach and have been trying to make these cookies at night. Because of the moisture in the air, these cookies take longer to create a film on top before baking. That is why they end up cracking or not having feet because air is trying to escape from anywhere it can, when it should be escaping from underneath so it creates the "feet." I made the Easter macarons in the afternoon and it didn't take as long to harden before placing them in the oven.

I've tried some deliciously flavored macarons lately, now that I feel more comfortable baking these, it's time to experiment with FLAVORS! And I've got to work on my piping so I don't get so many deformed circles. Making macarons was daunting, but after getting the right tools and following a good recipe, I think anyone can do it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Korean Beauty Products

I have been a little obsessed with Korean beauty products lately. I started with a BB cream last year and then an under eye concealer. I've branched out from there, but have really loved both products so I thought it was worth mentioning. I use these two every day: Skinfood Dark Circle Concealer Cream and Skin 79 Super Plus Beblesh Balm Triple Fuctions VIP Gold

The concealer goes on really creamy, but after a bit of dabbing, it kind of just melts into your skin and helps hide your under eye circles. It's no miracle cream, but it definitely helps me a lot. I've gone back and forth from liquids to creams and this has been my favorite so far. It only comes in two colors: light and a little darker than "light." I think the shades are called "1" and "2." 

I started with a hot pink bottle of this BB cream from Skin 79, but found it wasn't really hydrating my skin enough for winter, so I switched it up for the gold bottle. I can probably go back to the hot pink one in the summer time, but for now this is the perfect light coverage option without leaving my skin dry. The Skin 79 BB creams come in one shade that is supposed to oxidize with your skin tone. I've given these out to a lot of my girlfriends since discovering it, and surprisingly they have all had a perfect match. 

The concealer and BB cream were both very cheap on Amazon. The concealer shipped from Korea, so it took about a month to finally get it. That's the downside of being in the States obsessing about beauty products online: no instant gratification! But as a side note, I am going to Seoul, South Korea in a week! I will definitely be doing a lot of shopping without having to wait a month for shipping. 

As a fan and subscriber of Ipsy beauty boxes, I was thrilled to learn there is a Korean product version of the beauty box called Memebox. Rather than a subscription, it's more of a pick and choose kind of box. I pre-ordered two in March and one of them just arrived today! This box is the restocked Luckybox #1. Some of the boxes have themes and they vary in price, but this one was $23 + $6.99 S&H. I haven't tried any of the contents since I JUST got it, but I'm really excited about the all the fun stuff inside. This box was mostly skin care items, not much make-up. The labels include a lot of English as well as Korean, but comes with a little cheat sheet of all the products and how to use them.

Opening the box in front of Easter flowers.

A closer look at the fun box:

Nuganic Customize Pore Control Essence
Full sized product that retails at $46! This is a serum that refines pores and rebalances skin.

Dear by Enprani Bounce Cheese Cream
This is about a half size sample, full product retails at $29 and is a face cream that hydrates and firms your skin. It's made from a milk serum and the package claimed to make your face bouncy like mozzarella cheese! So cute!

Glory Nail Vegan Lacquer
Full sized product, retail $20. The color I received is a burgundy colored glitter with specks of blue and gold (color on the label is T-015 Yanggaeng).

Tonymoly Delight Tony Tint Red
This is a teeny 1.5ml sample, the full size is 9ml for #3. This lip tint looks like a hot pink/fuchsia from the outside but is more of a deep red.  It's very light and has a nice scent (I JUST put it on).

NoTS 28 Remedy Acne Pore Deep Cleanser
This is half of the actual sized product that retails at $31. The name stands for: Noble Through Skin and removes dirt and cleanses the pores. It also contains salicylic acid.

 Sep Face Lifting Mask
This contains 1 sheet, and retails at $14 (wow!), it's a hydrogel mask and helps the appearance of wrinkles and firms fine lines.

IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning
This is an 18ml sample, the full product is 168 ml for $60. This comes with a few cotton pads and is meant to regenerate and smooth the skin. I just took a whiff and it has no smell at all.

I forgot to take a picture of the little pyramids that look like tea. It actually is tea for your face. Tea Toc Water Clear Tablets x3. Each retails at $4. The product description says it's a table that dissolves in water and then you pat the water on your face to detox and sooth your skin. Interesting! Good thing I read this, I would have drank it. 

That was a really impressive beauty box! All really good sized samples or full products. I have had several breakouts recently, so all of these pore and acne treatments are coming at a perfect time. This box gets me. I am excited to try them all out and write an update with reviews! I've had on the lip stain while writing this and it's still looks good. It doesn't feel like I'm wearing anything on my lips and nothing is rubbing off. 

One more product that isn't from the box, but I love it so I'm throwing it in the mix: the Wish Formula Panda Eye Essence Mask. These are little under eye masks that you can use 2 - 3 times a week and it soaks your dark under eyes with hydration and vitamins to make your eye area look and feel better. I use these on mornings where I'm particularly tired and will lay in bed an extra 20 minutes with these puppies on my face. The box suggests to store in the fridge because of the vitamin C, so it is especially refreshing because it's cold. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tea Party

When I was a little girl, my grandma and I would have tea parties all the time. The "tea" was grape juice, but eventually I developed a taste for actual tea. Yesterday, I hosted a little tea party with a a few friends, food, treats and of course, tea!

I've practically replaced tea for coffee lately and have just recently started branching out of my usual flavors. Our friends brought over a variety of teas and I had a few of my own, but all together we had five different teas from Adagio, Teavana and Stash ranging from fruity to spicy.

I busted out my adorable Inside Out Hearts tea set and new tea spoons for the occasion. The table cloth, napkins (with some lace detail you can't see) and floral placemats were given to me by my favorite aunt.

I did the baking the night before (accompanied by an earthquake). We had teapot and bunny shaped sugar cookies with lemon icing and macarons that didn't come out quite right, but were tasty nonetheless. 

We ate cucumber sandwiches (with cream cheese and green onions) and chicken salad sandwiches on white and wheat bread, fruits, veggies and caprese bites with balsamic vinaigrette. 

Here are the ladies of the tea party just before digging in!

Even as an adult, I still love a good old fashion girly tea party, but now I actually drink tea. I still love grape juice, but there's no such thing as a grape juice party. I'll just note that the men of the tea party (not pictured) talked about shooting and guns and other manly things as they ate their finger sandwiches and bunny cookies.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

DIY: Framed Glitter Stag

I got some dollar store frames a while back and finally put one to good use. I took the backing out or an 8x10 frame and painted it with a sponge brush and gold paint. The wood is a little rough and lumpy, but it was a dollar, so I can't complain.  

   Before:                                     After:

While letting the painted frame dry, I found a silhouette of a deer head on Google image search. I stretched it out to the size I wanted, paying no mind to the quality of the photo since I only need the outline. I printed it and then carefully cut out the silhouette, which is now my pattern. 

You can use any combination of nice paper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, newspaper, whatever. But I got some glitter wrapping paper from Michael's around the holidays and quickly found out why it was on clearance: the glitter gets everywhere. Literally everywhere. I couldn't put my loved ones through a glitter explosion as they unwrapped their now glitter adorned Christmas presents, so I set it aside for an occasion like this.

I cut out a rectangle of glitter wrapping paper over newspaper and quickly put the rest of it back in a bag and in the closet so I don't have glitter flying everywhere. I put the wrapping paper glitter-side down so I could trace the stag on the back of it. Then I carefully cut out the glitter paper.

I glued the stag silhouette onto some lavender card stock that I cut to match the size of the frame's backing and put everything together once the newly painted frame had dried. 

And then hung it up!

This was super easy and I plan on doing more with other silhouettes in the kitchen.