Friday, December 31, 2010

New year, New skin

Long time no post. I am deeply sorry! Had a very busy few months. I must admit this has been one of the best holiday seasons I have experienced in awhile. :)
Now it's New Year's Eve and once again we are asked to reevaluate
our past year: the changes we went through, the mistakes we've made and will never make again, the makeup and food we've enjoyed consuming, hehe.

Usually I don't ever make New Year's Resolutions, simply because I've always thought they were unrealistic and set up for failure. But 2011 is the start of a new decade, which is major, so I will conform to such unrealistic traditions.

My resolution this year is to take care of my skin, whether it'd be reducing the blemishes and dark spots on my face, exfoliating my feet, or keeping my hands from cracking.
2011 is about less is more and in order to wear less makeup, we must start at the foundation, our skin. I am determined to not spend a fortune on skincare and actually have it work.

For the past month I have narrowed down my skincare routine and will continue to try new products to add to my routine. Here's what I've been using lately:

1. Olay Pro-X Advance Cleansing System: about 8 times cheaper than the Clarisonic, it massages your face pretty well, which will open up pores and circulation. It also came with a cleanser but I don't really like it or use it with my brush.

2. Purity Made Simple One Step Facial Cleanser by Philosophy: my blogger-in-crime introduced me to this. I received a tiny sample of this stuff with my last sephora purchase and basically fell in love. I think it's mainly the gentleness and the sage/ginger smell. yummy.
Oh yeah, it works pretty well too ;)
3. Ocean Salt Cleanser from Lush: I only got a sample of this last week when I was purchasing some bath bombs. This is the best scrub I've tried! I am in love. At first it might be a little harsh on your skin, but you get used to it. Plus it smells like a margarita.
4. Alba Sea Plus Renewal Cream: I bought this on a whim at Target. I liked it because it is pH balanced, which is extremely important to prevent breakouts. So far, so good. It is a pretty thick cream which makes it perfect for winter time, I use it along with my Proactiv Repair Treatment at night.
5. L'Occitane Vanilla Flower Hand Cream: This stuff is expensive! But it works so well and smells delicious. My hands have not cracked/bled since getting this. I got it in a travel size and will definitely repurchase when I have enough money saved for a $26 hand cream.

Just because I am focusing on skincare doesn't mean I won't buy any cosmetics, just less. I went to the CCO hoping to buy some Origins skincare but didn't find anything I was looking for. Good thing there's always past MAC collections there. I bought Prim and Proper blush from the Liberty of London collection, Below Ground Greasepaint Stick and Blood Red lipstick from the DSquared collection.
My favorite purchase today was this Kate Spade wristlet that I got for $17!!! Isn't it cute? I love to carry wristlets when I go shopping. Speaking of shopping...who's coming with me to the Dillard's 50% off Permanently Reduced Items on New Year's (tomorrow?). I'm looking for some new boots.

I also painted my nails sparkly pink glitter in order to festive. I'm looking it but it'll be a pain to take off. Oh well, totally worth it.

Currently, I have just finished a relaxing bath and is getting ready for the New Year's countdown.
Happy New Year Everyone! Thanks for reading. Hopefully next year will be filled with new and interesting posts about food and makeup.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

birthday goodies :)

This is a very delayed post, considering my birthday was in November. Nevertheless! I finally have time to make it. Just wanted to share some birthday goodies with you all, in time for the holidays haha. Just shows that people who know me well know that food and makeup are the way to my heart.

Humongous pear from Harry and David.

I will be anxiously waiting for this box of beauties to ripen and get juicy in the next couple of days. I really enjoy a good pear and these look amazing! :)

Nail Polish!!! First a set of nail art polishes - these are great because they have long skinny brushes that make it really easy to do french tips or other designs. I have been wanting a white and black for a while so this was perfect. These also come with some stencils that you can use on your nails. The Sephora by OPI polishes are of great quality and this mini set of 4 is super cute! It comes with (from L to R) Run With It!, Metro Chic, And Then He Said, and Brunette on the Internet. I am really excited to use Metro Chic, which is a purple based gray.

Lush! I don't have a Lush store in my town, unfortunately, so I don't own many of their products. This is the Ray of Sunshine set, which includes: Olive Branch Shower gel, a wedge of Sexy Peel soap, Each Peach Massage Bar, and a mini Sugar Scrub. I just started using the shower gel and massage bar, which I just use as body lotion. Both smell wonderful and leave my skin feeling soft and moisturized. This set is nice because it allows you to try a bunch of their products. I definitely am a fan of their massage bars.

My first Nars lipstick! This is in the shade Niagara, which is a matte pinky coral. Definitely up my alley :) It has a really smooth texture as well, so it feels great on the lips. I have just been wearing it alone on the lips.

More nail polish! haha, so here we have 2 Essie polishes: Turquoise & Caicos and Chinchilly, as well as a mini Orly polish that has no name but it is a dark magenta glitter color. I have been wanting these Essie polishes for a while, so I was very excited to receive these. I don't have any Ulta stores near me so I don't own many Essie polishes.

Chincilly! A lovely gray that is perfect for the season.

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes - was definitely one of the best birthdays I've had this year. So grateful to have such caring friends, wish you all lived closer to me!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Soup for the soul

For some reason, my body decided to get sick right after Thanksgiving break ended, 2 weeks before finals week. I haven't gotten sick in 2 years, so why now?!?? Today is.. day 6 of the illness, so I'm hoping that it is on its way to end VERY soon. I've just been congested, coughing like crazy and aching all over my body (I won't go into the more gory details) -- so I feel like I should done with being sick. I'm sick of being sick!!! It's been hard to concentrate so not that much studying has been able to happen. What I was able to gather enough energy for, though, is to make myself some feel-good soup. I took inspiration from this recipe. Instead of using leftover roasted chicken, since I didn't have any, I made some chicken broth with 4 drumsticks, a knob of ginger, 4 cloves of garlic and some white pepper & sea salt, which was simmered for about an hour. I took the meat off of these drumstick bones to put back into the soup later. Also, I used fresh corn - so I cut the kernels off of 4 ears of corn for this soup, so I simmered it for longer than the 10 minutes that this recipe had originally called for. I also didn't "blitz" the corn and chicken broth mixture in the beginning because I don't have an immersion blender and am lazy; I prefer having whole kernels of corn anyways.

When serving, I placed a bed of spinach and a spoonful of rice on the bottom of my bowl and then spooned the hot soup mixture over it. The heat from the soup wilts the spinach nicely and heats up the rice. This is definitely a very comforting soup that I can see would be nice to make in the winter time as well as for people feeling under the weather.

Look at it bubbling away.. just hope that my sickness would evaporate as quickly as this steam..


Sunday, November 28, 2010


Seeing as I have little desire to study right now, and I'm waiting for the caffeine from my latte to kick in.. it seemed like the perfect time to write about thanksgiving weekend eats!

I started out making the cranberry sauce on Tuesday night. It is probably the easiest thing to make - I just put a couple of peels and the juice of 2 Florida navel oranges and brown sugar in a large pan with an entire bag of cranberries, cooked it down until it thickened to where I wanted it to be. I like to see the cranberries left whole so my cooking time was only about 15 minutes, stirring gently and not too often (plus I used a really large pan so there was greater surface area, so it reduced cooking time).

This is about how thick the end product was before cooling it down and putting it in the fridge.

SO DELICIOUS, it took a lot of energy to resist finishing this before Thursday.

On the day of Thanksgiving.. I made...

First I stuck the turkey in the brine, consisted of 2 gallons water, 10 oz soy sauce, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup sugar, 4 tbsp fresh sage, 2 tbsp fresh thyme, 1 1/2 tsp crystallized ginger, 2 tbsp black peppercorns, half a head of garlic. I made the brine the night before, because I dissolved the salt and sugar in some hot water before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. So on Thursday morning, I stuck the turkey in the brine for about 5 hours.

These are the things that I stuck inside the cavity of the bird, and for what couldn't fit, I just put it on the side on the bottom of the pan to help flavor the pan juices that dripped from the turkey and also so those juices wouldn't burn.

Baked Brie is a yearly tradition of mine. It is not Thanksgiving until I've had a bite of this deliciousness. This year I put the cranberry sauce I made in it - SO GOOD. We ate it with some sliced apple and pear for lunch - best way to perk up your appetite for the oncoming feast!

Cornbread muffins! I used Pat and Gina Neely's recipe from the food network. Simple, easy and really delicious. I didn't put any sugar in them, so I put some extra honey than the recipe calls for; I was making these for a group of Chinese people who do not like food that is too sweet, so the honey added a perfect amount of sweetness. I also doubled the recipe. I ended up with about 30 muffins. Cornbread is my mom's favorite, and there were none leftover by the end of the night.

This is my beautiful turkey, a perfect 160 degrees inside, crispy skin and nice and browned on the outside.

This is how the turkey was plated after carving :) Everybody loved it, the soy sauce brine was a success! Someone told me that it tasted like duck to them, which was supposed to be a compliment, haha. Sadly there were no leftovers!!! Makes me want to go out and buy another turkey...

Today, I made...
This is the study snack I made for myself this morning. Needless to say most of it is already eaten and I haven't gotten any studying done. This is one of my favorite go-to desserts - it is the French Apple Tart by Ina Garten. I LOVE LOVE LOVE apples when they are cooked.

I hope everybody had a great, food-filled Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

I love Florida

This was my breakfast this morning. It was the perfect beach day when I woke up this morning, so I headed to the beach before it got crowded.

Also, I made some butternut squash soup with the VitaMix today. I roasted the squash first, along with a red onion. After that, I just put everything in the VitaMix with some sea salt and chicken broth -- a couple minutes later I had some steaming hot soup! The soup was so unbelievably creamy and I didn't even add any cream or butter to it. I made a huge salad to eat with it, and I am so full right now, haha. It was a pretty satisfying dinner.

The salad had green leaf lettuce, half an avocado, half a granny smith apple, carrots and dried cranberries. It was dressed with some lime juice, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. I like colorful salads.

Here is a video of the VitaMix at work. It is really loud, so that is my warning to you before you press play.

Bought the turkey.. so I will be starting the defrosting process tomorrow!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I really can't focus enough to get some productive studying done, so this post is going to be pretty random. :D I recently got a mani/pedi (every girl enjoys getting pampered every now and then) and I'm really loving these fall/winter nail colors. Even though the temperature has only cooled to around the 70s here, I can't ignore the fact that it is fall and the quickly approaching holidays. I got my nails square shaped, which is a first for me. It's subtle, but as my nails have been growing out, the shape is much more obvious. I think I will try to maintain this shape because I am really liking how it looks. The only down side is that I'm finding it a little more difficult to scratch things. I got a couple of mosquito bites the other night and it is so difficult to itch them!

I forgot the name of this polish.. it was an Essie polish. I know it is not Chinchilly. Basically it is a gray with some purple/mauve undertones, I know it's hard to tell in the photo. Anybody have any ideas?

I picked this color for my toes since it was in the same color family as my fingers. I'm pretty sure that this is Luxedo by Essie. It's hard to tell in the photo but its definitely a very dark purple. I LOVE IT. Although I think darker colors make my nails look even smaller than they actually are. They did a really good job on my toenails, it's not easy painting such small areas!

Now onto what I baked last week. My mom bought way too many vegetables so I took the zucchini that she bought and make Zucchini bread and muffins! These are definitely one of my more favorite breads to make, the other being banana bread. It's kind of the same concept as carrot cake. You can't taste the vegetables in it but adding them really makes it so moist. I really enjoy the spices that go into zucchini bread too, and I love being able to see the green specks in the bread, its so pretty!

These are the wet ingredients mixed together before adding the dry ingredients. I added a lot more zucchini than the recipe called for.

I ended up with 1 loaf and 12 muffins! It's definitely lasted us more than a week, and has made the perfect snack during class or breakfast on the go in the car.

Here is the recipe I used (except I had to add a 1/2 cup more flour since I put a whole cup extra of zucchini; and I added about 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts as well):

WET - 2 cups grated zucchini, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 2/3 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract
DRY - 3 cups all purpose flour, 3 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
1. Mix all wet ingredients together, beating the eggs before you add them to the rest of the mixture.
2. Into the same bowl, sift in the dry ingredients (I usually do this for easier clean up!)
3. Lightly stir everything together and when its just about all incorporated, stir in walnuts or any add-ins you want.
4. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan or lined muffin pan.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Another breakfast I have been enjoying since buying a jar of Nutella -- banana + Nutella sandwiches on toasted challah bread. What an indulgence!

Apple Cider - my drink of choice these days.

I cannot wait for Thanksgiving! I have decided to make a turkey from scratch this year, so I'm currently looking for an easy and delicious recipe. I'm leaning towards brining and then roasting it. Don't want to try for something too elaborate for the first time I do this. I will definitely make a post on that after Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Vita-Mix 5200

My mom surprised me with this fancy piece of kitchen equipment the other day. A Vita-Mix!!!! It is basically a really powerful blender that produces heat from the friction from the blades, so that if you leave it on for a couple of minutes, you get steaming hot soup! You don't even have to cut whatever it is you want to blend into small pieces. If you wanted to, you could put a whole apple in and within 30 seconds it would be liquefied. Pretty amazing! My mom was really excited, so she immediately went to the grocery store and bought a ton of vegetables so we can make soups.

Who could imagine such a simple blade could hold so much power? haha.

Ain't it pretty? that long black thing on the side there is the Tamper, where you can stick inside the lid to stir up anything that might get stuck inside the blender.. now that I would ever foresee that happening..

The first soup we tried to make was an asparagus soup. Now, this was the test run and basically it was probably the worst tasting thing I've ever had in a long time. But at least now I know what to do next time...

This was the asparagus soup. Basically, what I did was put 2 cups chicken broth, an entire bundle of asparagus, and some cauliflower to fill the whole blender to the top. Yes, the veggies were raw when I added them into the blender -- I was really interested in seeing how hot the final product would be. Lo and behold, after about 3 minutes of blending this concoction, I got really impatient so we stopped it and poured it into bowls. There was still a very raw taste and it was extremely bitter. I could only bear to have about 5 spoonfuls.

Next time I attempt to make soup, I will either leave the blender on for a longer period of time or, since I am pretty impatient, I will heat up the liquid first and maybe even blanching the vegetables first to speed up the cooking process even faster.

After getting frustrated from making nasty green soup, I tried to make a juice. After doing some research on the Vita-Mix I found that most people use their to make juices. Juices are great for packing in all types of nutrients to consume quickly as well as sometimes masking the not-so-popular flavors that might be really healthy for you. The good thing about the Vita Mix, compared to a juicer, is that it does not discard all the pulp from your fruits and vegetables. That's where a lot of nutrients are! This blender is able to make the pulp fragments small enough that its easy to drink.

Ingredients for Carrot Apple Beet juice.. I added pomegranate juice to overcome the beet flavor, although I am starting to like it more now. I also forgot to add ginger! Doh!

The result.. what a nice RED color! This tasted pretty good - I definitely could still taste the beets and think next time on top of adding some ginger, I'll add either orange juice or lemon juice to brighten it up.

Now.. what am I supposed to do with our old blender?


Thursday, October 28, 2010

October Favorites!

Here are a few of my favorites for the month of October. Wow, it totally just flew by, which I'm kind of glad in a way. I'm actually excited this Holiday season and can't wait for it to get here sooner!

1) Songs: Check it Out by Nicki Minaj & Will I AM; Mike Posner!; Back to December by Taylor Swift (her new album is not that great)

2 ) I love the fact that Panera finally got a "rewards" card, God knows I'm there enough to enjoy some freebies. I was immediately rewarded with a free pastry. I will go there tomorrow to study and partake in refills of their iced green tea. Delicious!

3) I have recently became a "candle burner". I was never into this stuff. For some reason, maybe because it's finally feeling like fall where I live, I really just love having a candle burning when I am in my room. Currently addicted to "Autumn" from B&BW. I need a back-up soon.

4) Favorite beauty products this month: Dark Kiss Body Lotion from B&BW: I was totally over B&BW stuff for a while. I mostly buy their hand soaps. Since I had a coupon where I can get a Signature Body item for free I picked this up. I can't stop lathering myself with this stuff right after I get out of the shower! To me it smells like raspberry & dark chocolate, perfect right before bed snack without the calories.
I also picked up this Soap&Glory "Mist You Madly" on one of my Target trips. You know how you always end up getting a lot more stuff than you planned when you go to Target? Well this was one of those because it was on Clearance. Soap&Glory is an UK brand of bath & body products that I've only heard of through youtube. After some "googling" I found out that it was started by a former CEO of Bliss, so must be good. This body spray isn't the typical scent that I go for, it's woodsy & patchouli, seriously just cedar on the first spritz. But somehow it manages to meld into my skin at the end of the day and is just lovely.
I just painted my nails again with this Sephora by OPI nail polish in "Meet For Drinks". I thought it was vampy for Halloween, even though I wear this all the time. It's the only nail polish that I have where you can actually see the amount of polish in the bottle, I'm a third done! Incredible, since I have a nice stash of nail polishes.

5) Other favorites that are not pictured: Tresemme shampoo & conditioner makes my dried out hair so soft and silky. Lush Brazen Honey Mask: I am just starting to get into Lush products and this mask is definitely worth the $6 and 3 weeks expiration date. It smells of honey & herbs and gets rid of my blackheads. It is meant to detox your skin after you're been bad to it. Forever21: I don't know what I'd do with my weekends if I didn't live near a Forever21. This store seriously gets so much of my money. It helps that it's cheap & that they tilt the mirrors in the dressing room so you think you look better than you do in reality.

I also made 2 purchases from the MAC A Tartan Tale collection:
Her Blooming Cheek Blush & The Faerie Glen lipstick (lustre)
Umm...isn't the swatch of this blush gorgeous? I can't stop starring at it. The only bad thing is that I think it looks better swatched than on my face. But it's still lovely, gives me that "just pinched" look. I'm a little iffy about The Faerie Glen lipstick, it turns a little grey on my lipsticks but I will try to play with it some more. Those two were the only things that appealed to me out of 100 products, which I guess would make the collection in general underwhelming.

Lastly: I love driving home when the sun is setting. Pretty. Too bad I have bad astigmatism and have trouble driving at night when everyone has their lights on...this picture is an accurate representation of how it looks to me at night.
~ A