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!