Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013, hello 2014!

Psst! look at that sweet old couple behind me!

Some parts of the world have already celebrated the new year by now, but here in the states, the festivities have just begun. I always get a little nostalgic around this time of the year because it's hard to believe that another year has come and gone, just like that. It's crazy how time flies right by, it's like super Sonic speed or something. (Ya know? Sonic the hedgehog?). 

Although it's always sad to see another year end, I will gladly say goodbye to...
Harlem shakes 
Scandalous Justin Bieber reports

But some of the stars and figures we lost in 2013 will be missed dearly...
Nelson Mandela 
Paul Walker
Cory Monteith 

"An ending is just another beginning." 
I honestly just thought of that saying and how appropriate is it to have it for this occasion! Look at me, trying to make it look all official with the italics and quotation marks :p
But in all seriousness, I'm looking forward to the new year (it's the year of the horse in the Chinese zodiac).

My resolutions for 2014:
-worry LESS
-let go of the past
-don't make quick assumptions about others
-work hard and do MORE
-don't let negativity get the best of me

I'm excited to see what 2014 will bring!

Monday, December 30, 2013

End of the year favorites! | 2013

Far left: I got this Pomegranate Mango candle from a friend on my birthday and ever since, I've been OBSESSED with candles.
Note: Not everything mentioned is pictured

...this is only some of my favorite youtubers. 2013 was the year I really got into watching beauty videos and vlogs.

Do What U Want by Lady Gaga ft Christina Aguilera 
Say Something by A Great Big World 
Let It Go by Idina Menzel 

Silver Linings Playbook
...you can't go wrong with a Jennifer Lawrence movie and a disney animated film

Revenge (ABC)
The Originals (CW)
The Blacklist (NBC)

-  Catching Fire
- Lock & Key and Two Way Street are my go-to summer reads
- The Mazerunner

- EOS lip balm
- NIVEA Raspberry Rose lip butter
- Clinique chubby stick in voluptuous violet  
- Nutriganics Drops of Youth serum 
- Tea Tree Purifying Toner 
- Clinique Dramatically Different moisturizer 
- Essential Honey Hair Mask in rose 

- Andes mint
- Ferrero Rocher 
- Celestial Tea in Sleepytime Vanilla 

- Festive and fancy boxes 
- Colorful clothes pins (from the crafts aisle) 

- ALDO shoes
- Keyboard decal 
- Rings 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Double Chocolate Vanilla Pudding Cookies

The name is a mouthful but it only takes 4 quick and easy steps to make these yummy cookies. They are honestly the softest cookies I've ever made! Secret ingredient? Vanilla pudding mix! Who knew that a small pack of pudding mix could make the cookies taste so good!

✽ ✽ ✽

Makes 18-24 cookies 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Oven time: 7-9 minutes at 350º F

1 cup (two sticks) of butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3.4 oz (1 pack) instant vanilla pudding mix 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips 

1. Mix butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in pudding mix and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. 
2.  In another bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. 
3. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips. 
4. Bake for 7-9 minutes at 350º F.

✽ ✽ ✽

Adapted from I Heart Nap Time

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy holidays!

Wishing you a holiday season filled with love, sparkle, and joy! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mint Chocolate Chunk Cookies - with a twist!

These cookies are unlike your typical mint-chocolate cookies. These contain roasted coffee beans, making them Mocha Mint Chocolate Chunk Cookies. The roasted coffee beans (instant coffee) balance out the sweetness of the Andes Mint pieces perfectly. Also, the cookies come out slightly crunchy on the outside while stay soft and chewy on the inside. Trust me, you want to make these.

Note: Cookie dough will need to be chilled in the fridge for 1 hour

✽ ✽ ✽

Makes 18 cookies

Prep time: 1.5 hours  
Oven time: 11-13 minutes at 325º F

2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant coffee mix
1 and a half sticks unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups Andes Mint, chopped 

1. Mix together four, cornstarch baking soda, cocoa powder, salt, and instant coffee in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl, mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Whisk in the egg, then the egg yolk. Add the vanilla. 
3. Pour the wet mixture into dry ingredients and mix with a spoon or spatula.
4. Fold in 1 and 1/4 cup Andes Mint, making sure they are evenly dispersed among the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour (it can last up until 3 days in the fridge). 
5. Take the dough out of the fridge and allow to soften a bit so it will be easier to shape them into balls.
6.  Roll the dough into balls, making them slightly taller for the cookies to turn out thick and chewy. 
7. With the 9 balls of dough on each cookie sheet, take the reserved 1/4 cup of Andes Mint and press on top for looks. 
8. Bake for 11-13 minutes at 325º F. The cookies will continue to bake on the cookie sheet when taken out of the oven.

✽ ✽ ✽

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Goodies from The Body Shop

I can't believe it was only recently that I discovered the amazing skincare and body products from The Body Shop. So when I saw that they were having a 50% off site wide sale, I couldn't pass up the chance and got a couple of things for the holiday season. Most of the items I purchased were either from the best-sellers or top rated section.

From left to right 

Cranberry Joy Reed Diffuser 
Tea Tree Skin Clearing Toner 
Hemp Hand Oil 
For Men Maca Root Energetic Face Protector 
Aloe Body Butter 
Vitamin C Skin Boost 
Bath Lily 
Spoon Foot File

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Jam and Nutella Filling

Raspberry, Apricot, and Nutella filling

Before you start, please note:

✭ Cookie dough will need to be chilled in the fridge for at least 2 hours and it should be cold and firm at all times.
✭ You can fill the thumbprint cookies with anything you like.
✭ It helps to stir the jam in a small bowl first to give it a spreadable-texture, making it easier to fill the cookies.
✭ Cookie dough can be frozen up to 2 months. 

Makes 32 cookies

Prep time: 3.5 hours
Oven time: 10 minutes at 350º F


1 cup (two sticks) of butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5 teaspoons any flavor of jam 

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)


1. Using a handheld or electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts and beat again. Then add flour and beat until a soft dough is formed. Press the dough together, make sure to get all the scrapes and then cover it with plastic wrap. Chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.

2. Line baking tray with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (to reduce spreading). Shape the cookie dough into balls (the dough will be very hard at first but it will soften under the warm temperature of your hands). Then press down the balls with your thumb to make the "thumbprint". Smooth out any cracks that form (optional). Fill the cookies with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350º F. The cookies will slightly puff up and turn light golden brown on the edges. Let the cookies cool for at least 30 minutes before glazing.

4. To make the glaze, gradually mix the powdered sugar in the wet ingredients. Drizzle over cooled cookies with a spoon.

If you decide to make these soft and fluffy thumbprint cookies, share your pictures with me and we can bond over our love for homemade cookies :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Baking has always been one of my favorite things to do. Now that I'm home for the holidays and have some free time on my hands, I dove right in. I decided to try out a simple vanilla cupcake recipe. 

Makes 9 cupcakes 

Prep time: 30 minutes 
Oven time: 20 minutes at 350º F

Vanilla Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream (can substitute this for 2 tablespoons of milk)
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk


1. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Then add butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula and mix again. 

2.  Fill the lined tin cups with the batter two thirds of the way. Bake at 350º F for 20 minutes or until the tops turn a golden color. Let cupcakes cool for at least 30 minutes before frosting.

3. To make the frosting, whip the butter with a mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the powdered sugar and then the vanilla and milk. Whip until it has a frosting texture. 

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Home is where the heart is.

Being away from home for quite some time really makes coming home feel that much sweeter. It reminds me of the saying "distance makes the heart grow fonder", or something along the lines of that. Although I was just home for Thanksgiving not too long ago, the mini-break honestly felt so short that after being home for a few days, the next thing I knew, I was driving back to school again. (Read the brief post I did during my Thanksgiving break here!)

Now during the eleven days before I came home for winter break, which was the week after the Thanksgiving holiday, everything felt like it was moving inexplicably fast. There was only a week left of classes, which meant finals were right around the corner. Being the usual silly me, I thought I had some time to spare so I caught up on a few shows and lazily scrolled through social networks. Obviously, that was a poor decision. I ended up frantically getting all my assignments and papers turned in while preparing for finals week. It was madness. 

Having to juggle class assignments for the final week of instruction and the stress of studying for my exams, I was completely overwhelmed. You should've seen my desk - the mess it was in pretty much summed up how I felt. On top of that, I was also figuring out a few plans for winter break and doing online Christmas shopping for my family and friends. Distractions are always so appealing, and yet dangerous at times like these.

After surviving the crazy week, eleven days to be exact, coming home felt like drinking a nice hot cup of peppermint mocha with roasted marshmallows on a winter night. Looking back to that week, I think that it's good to be busy and preoccupy myself with things. When I feel like there is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do, it makes me really appreciate the time I actually have. Also, time literally flies by for me when I'm on the move and when I immerse myself in tasks. 

For now, I'm going to bring out all the Christmas decorations and enjoy spending the holiday season at home. What can I say, it's the little things that warm my heart. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Last night, my family and I went to the city to celebrate my 20th birthday. The restaurant, Ton Kiang, was definitely on the fancier side of the restaurants that we usually go to.

We started with one of the roasted specialities, Peking Duck with Steamed Buns (Half)

Green onions, cucumber, roasted duck, and special sauce between a steamed bun

Maw Fish and Crab Meat Soup is in the back 

Shanghai Dumplings, Xiao Long Boa, with meat filling to satisfy my dim sum craving

My dad's personal favorite: Clams with Black Bean Sauce

Shrimp with Glazed Walnuts

Ton Kiang Special Seafood Clay Pot

Lastly, Chestnut Cake from Sheng Kee Bakery. They have the BEST Asian cakes! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The beginning of the holiday season

There's something about a lit candle in a dark room on a cold night that just makes everything better. On Thanksgiving night, I was staring at this candle when I suddenly realized how happy I was. It came as a wonderful surprise as I haven't felt that way in a long time. So there I was, in the company of my loved ones and of course, delicious food, I was happy and worry-free. All the stress and frustrations I was bottling up floated away - it was the best feeling. I knew that it wasn't going to last, but I didn't let that stop me from enjoying the moment. In that instant, it was simply an amazing feeling

Maybe it's the holiday season, but I just feel extremely touched and thankful for everything and everyone in my life. I honestly could not have asked for anything more. 

Aside from the holiday season being a time for giving, I think it is also a time for reflecting. Looking back on the year, it is important to celebrate our triumphs while recognizing our mistakes and failures. I believe that, in doing so, it will help us grow into a better person.

With that said, it was really the candle that made me take a step back and realize what I was feeling at the moment. On a much lighter note, my new favorite thing is burning candles. I think candles are great at setting the mood because they create such a bright and calming atmosphere. Besides, it's a lovely addition for any occasion, especially around the holiday time! 

I hope you are excited for the holiday season as much as I am :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What's in my bathroom

From left to right:

Cranberry Mandarin candle
Smells soo good and I like that it gives my bathroom a pop of color!

Dove body wash in Pomegranate and Lemon Verbena
Refreshing and light scent and is gentle enough for those who have sensitive skin

Johnson's body lotion in Shea and Coco butter
I mostly use this for when I get out of the shower and it keeps my skin soft and it smells so good!

Biore pore strips
Does not get rid of blackheads, but I still use this occasionally to clear my pores.

Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer with SPF 15
An okay product- even though it says it's for combination/oily skin, I usually find my skin getting oily later in the day. Planning on changing my daily moisturizer after finishing this one. 

Organix Nourishing Shampoo & Conditioner in Coconut Milk
This stuff smells amazing (and it's sulfate-free) though it doesn't make my hair as soft as I'd like. 

Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Shampoo & Conditioner
Minimizes my frizz and makes my hair smooth and soft. Doesn't do much for the shine though

Bath & Body Works Crimson Plum foam hand soap
Smells like a garden of sweet plums and I'm just gonna just leave it at that. 

Conair blowdryer
My bathroom essentials isn't complete without one.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Watermelon Pineapple Banana Smoothie

I tend to change up the recipes when I make fruit smoothies. In other words, I tend to throw whatever I can find around the kitchen into the blender and taste as I go. Since I found bowls of cut up pineapples and watermelons in the fridge today, I decided to make myself a watermelon-pineapple smoothie. And if you're someone who likes putting a personal touch to every-day smoothie recipes, then high five because we're on the same page! 

Makes 1-2 servings

1 cup watermelons, diced
1/2 cup pineapples, diced
1 whole banana, sliced
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1 cup vanilla yogurt/greek yogurt
1/2 ice cubes*

*You can use frozen banana slices as a substitute for the ice cubes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Braces update #1: Eating burgers with a knife and fork...

I had no idea what to expect when I went in to the orthopedic's office for my first re-tightening of my braces. In the past, my friends have made pained expressions when talking about everything that braces entailed, but I didn’t grasp what they really meant until today. Let’s just say that I walked in feeling rested and cheery and by the time I was done, I was drained.

The process took about thirty minutes (it felt so much longer) as the orthodontist replaced the thin wires with thicker ones. Because she applied a lot of pressure when she was tightening the wires, my gums were very tender and sore. I gotta say, going in for my appointment today made the last visit seem like it was nothing.

As for the foods, it's just not the same. I guess it's going to take some time for me to get used to having braces. In the mean time, I'm seriously considering on eating sandwiches and burgers with a knife and fork. I try to look on the bright side, which is the fact that I’ve been eating a lot healthier and cleaner. With that said, an updated version of my personal go-to foods list from a previous post is below.

Nutri-Grain cereal bars
Greek or nonfat yogurt
Scrambled eggs

Tapioca pudding
String cheese
Pirate’s Booty (puffed rice and corn)

PB&J sandwich
Mac n’ Cheese


Hard boiled eggs
Baked salmon
Mashed potatoes

Lemon bars

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nails Like Chameleon

It’s really easy for me to get bored of the nail polishes I have. So the other night, when I was painting my nails with a color that I have had for years and years now, I realized that it was the only color that I seemed to go back to. The sad part is that the brand and/or color is discontinued. I guess it’s understandable considering I got it at Rite-Aid back when I was in middle school. Or was it elementary school. Anyway, my point is that I’ve had this color for ages. It’s so old that the product doesn’t have a name for its color. It’s simply “chameleon”. There are hints of green and pink mixed in with the white shimmery color, so it’s really eye-catching when the light hits it. I’m definitely going to keep my eyes out for nail polishes like this one for the fall and winter times. It’s just different and I won’t have to worry about matching my nail polish with my outfits. Because honestly, who has time for that. I’m just starting to get used to painting my nails according to the colors of the season. I know, I have a lot to learn.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Boohoo Closet - Summer Edition

Hi there! Today I wanted to give you a peek into my collective clothing haul from boohoo.com. I discovered this UK based website a while back when I was mindlessly looking through online stores trying to find one that offered good-quality merchandise and free shipping. What I like about Boohoo is that it has a variety of unique items, setting itself apart from a typical clothing store that’s geared towards young adults. And I fell in love with it ever since. I always find something I like when I'm on their website. The cherry on top to all of this is that the last time I checked, the site offers free shipping with no minimum purchase. Also, I once cancelled an order right after placing it and I was pleased to find that the refund was successfully processed within 3-4 days. I must admit though, a small part of me is waiting for that one catch, but for now, I am very satisfied with my Boohoo experience.

Below are the items I purchased from boohoo. Because they were purchased with special discounts and promotions, I don't think they can be found online anymore. But that doesn’t mean the good bargains are gone! 

Cropped top, knotted
Gold sequined owl top
Chiffon skater dress
Floral print blouse
Embellished high-low dress

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dorm Cookies

Now that I’m back in college, I find it extremely hard to eat healthy. The chicken burgers and blueberry muffins in the dining commons are just too good to pass up. On top of that, I constantly find myself snacking and staying up late, which is not a good mix.

So I'm glad to have spontaneously stumbled upon Blogilates channel on Youtube the other night. I watched her food videos and was practically drooling at the end. The recipes seemed so simple and the best of all was that they were low on calories and so healthy! I was obsessed! The #cheapcleaneats videos really stood out for me because being that I’m a poor college student, I am always looking for cheap ways to make foods that will satisfy my tummy.

Below is a cookie recipe (credit to Blogilates). I had to improvise on a few of the ingredients, but it turned out pretty good! It was super easy to make so I suggest you try it! You can check out her site blogilates.com for some more healthy and delicious recipes!

Makes 4 Cookies

What you'll need: 
Half a banana
1 snack size Hersey’s Chocolate Bar
2 packs of Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal *I used strawberry flavor

Break chocolate bar into chocolate-chip sizes. Mix everything in a bowl, be sure to completely smash the bananas with your hands. Don’t be afraid to really dig into the mix (oatmeal is good for your skin ;p). Ball the mix into half the size of your palm and flatten. Microwave for 40 seconds. Let it cool for 1 minute. And there you have it! Yummy!