Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pieces of December | Monthly Round-Up

DIY gift tags for the presents this year

Filled my Christmas goody bags with these. 

Clueless about Star Wars, but didn't let that stop me from watching the new film

Fell in love with a sweet country song....

...and a bit of kpop

New favorite bag. Never letting it go. 

Also never leaving my couch because THIS.


HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR! Wishing you a beautiful year filled with love and joy! 

All the love,

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas in Vegas

For Christmas this year, my parents and I took a step back from reality and spent the holiday in Vegas! It was our very family vacation and I was excited about it ever since booking the trip in July. We had an amazing time there. The shops were extravagant, the food was scrumptious, and the views were spectacular. Not a drinker nor a gambler, I still had the best of times and the days flew by. Seriously, Christmas was over in a blink of an eye. I am still processing over the fact that I have to take down my holiday decorations soon. Anyway, our first family trip was a success! My family's already planning for the next one.

Our stay was at the Stratosphere Hotel from December 24th-27th. The day before we left was hectic! I started packing days before while parents packed everything the night before. We hit the road at 6:30AM on Thursday morning, and the drive started out wet and gloomy. I was beyond excited and couldn't believe we were leaving California for once. There is something about being on the highway that makes me feel very calm and at peace. I love seeing the long stretches of roads with no end in sight, it's almost like anything is possible. The sky is the limit, ya know? I could stay on the highway and drive forever. Anyhoo, 3 rest stops and 9 hours later, we arrived to our destination. Read below for a run down of what I did in Vegas:

Day 1 | Dec. 24th

✳︎ Drove on The Strip to Caesars Palace
✳︎ Dinner at Gordon Ramsay 
✳︎ Explored Caesars Palace (the place is massive)
✳︎ Second dinner in Chinatown

Day 2 | Dec. 25th

✳︎ Brunch buffet
✳︎  Walked The Strip
✳︎  Visited The Cromwell, Venetian, and The Mirage
✳︎ Dessert at Serendipity 3
✳︎ Hit the Via Bellagio shops 
✳︎  Checked out the Christmas decorations in Bellagio 
✳︎ Dinner in Chinatown

Day 3 | Dec. 26th

✳︎ Brunch in hotel diner
✳︎ Visited the observation deck at the Stratosphere Hotel
✳︎ Dinner in Chinatown
✳︎ Went to the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
✳︎ Caught the ending bit of the Atlantis Show

Day 4 | Dec. 27th

✳︎ Checked out in the morning
✳︎ Took a detour to Arcadia, CA for a late lunch
✳︎ Arrived home at exactly 11PM (spent 12 hours on the road)

On the road in the early hours / watching the sun rise 

First dinner in Vegas @ Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill

Lobby @ Caesars Palace

The Strip

Dessert break @ Serendipity 3

The Bellagio

Christmas display in The Bellagio

View from the Observation Deck

@ The Forum Shops

View from the Observation Deck at night

Last night in Vegas

  Detour to Arcadia, CA

Late lunch @ Din Tai Fung

Heading home


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Trader Joe's Tuesday: Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars

I can't express how excited I was walking into Trader Joe's last week and seeing the Christmas-themed snacks spread out all over the store. I felt like I stepped inside a festive food wonderland filled with gingerbread houses, candy cane Joe Joe's, and peppermint pretzel slims. With the endless selections of TJ's seasonal treats, I don't know how I managed to resist them all and only come out with one holiday-themed item. The winner is the Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars that caught my eye with its cute and fun miniature shape. I love mint-chocolate anything, so I knew I would enjoy these. The delicate-looking stars are shortbread cookies covered in mint chocolate and topped with white pareils. It's impossible to eat just one of these. The mini size may look harmless, but not so much after realizing that I had eaten handfuls of the chocolate stars in a single sitting. (I kept popping them into my mouth like candy). The mint flavor isn't overpowering and pairs with the dark chocolate wonderfully. The mint stars also look very cute so I think they'd make a great snack to put out when I have people over for the holidays...that is if I don't end up eating them all :p

 { rating } 
5 out of 5

Previous Trader Joe's Tuesday posts:

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Double Cranberry Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Irresistibly soft & chewy cookies for the festive season!

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I've found my favorite holiday cookie recipe! It isn't the overly decorative sugar cookie kind, which personally I don't enjoy despite how cute they look. So when I stumbled upon this cranberry chocolate cookie recipe, I knew it would be perfect during this holiday season. The best part about the recipe is that there's DOUBLE the cranberry and when combined with the dark chocolate chips, you get an irresistibly tangy yet rich chocolate flavor in every bite. And major bonus for the fresh cranberries that give the cookies a festive and bright look. Cranberry and chocolate make a dream pair, as the cookies taste incredible. The combination also gives a nice sophisticated touch to the average holiday cookie. I normally don't eat the things I bake aside from having a bite or two to taste test, but I kept reaching for these and even had one for breakfast one morning. Actually, make that two mornings because I grabbed one on my way out the door on the second morning. (I'm always in a rush in the mornings). Cookies for breakfast? Guilty. The cookies were gone in less than a week, and I'm thinking of making another batch soon to give to my friends as Christmas treats! 

So got some leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving? Looking for a next-level cookie recipe to make for a holiday party? The name might be a mouthful, but these double cranberry dark chocolate chip cookies will totally up your holiday cookie game. 

◇ ✳︎ ◇ ✳︎ ◇ ✳︎ ◇

Makes about 19 cookies


1 stick butter, browned and cooled to room temperature
3 tablespoons white sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg + egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 F and line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.

In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring continuously. The butter will foam and begin to turn golden brown. As soon as the butter starts to turn brown, remove the pan from the heat, and continue stirring for about 1 minute. Transfer the browned butter to a small bowl, scrapping the sides of the pan to get all of the butter. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes or until butter is mostly solidified.

Transfer the butter to a large mixing bowl. Add the sugars and cream until mixture is light and fluffy.

Continue mixing and add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. With a handheld or stand mixer on low, slowly pour in the flour mixture. Mix until just combined, do not over mix. With a spatula, fold in the dark chocolate chips and cranberries. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Use an ice cream scooper to form the cookies into balls and place them two inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to the cooling rack.

Recipe slightly adapted from Bakerita

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide

I always come across a particular problem when it comes to finding Christmas presents, each year about two weeks away from Christmas and nowhere near getting my gifting completed, I still manage to convince myself that I'll eventually find the gifts I'm looking for. I have this stubborn idea in my head that the perfect gift will just come to me, and needlessly to say it almost never works out that way.  I just never seem to have a clear idea of what to get for friends and family. And when I start seeing the cut off Christmas delivery dates on the shopping sites, reality kicks in and the pressure for finding the perfect gift goes up sky high. I get super meticulous when picking out gifts for others because I want them to be meaningful as well as practical. If you're like me and still has some names to cross off on the gifting list, I put together a last minute gift guide that hopefully will give you some ideas. The guide includes some of my favorites things for this season and there just might be something on there for that ultimate baker, organizer, or trendsetter in your life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pieces of November | Monthly Round-Up

 Not only do I cry from watching a movie, I also cry when reading a really really good book.

Future mother to a curly haired pup that could possibly be a distant relative to this cute & fluffy fella (wishful thinking)

Sneak peek of what's going on already on my tree this year.

Revisited the DIY gift tags I used last year for Christmas gifts, thinking of what new ones will come out this year, maybe something along the lines of these?

Donating clothes has never been easier.

Zombie marathon-ed all weekend long.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

21 things I learned before turning 22

Being that there is still an hour left before my 22nd birthday is over, I thought I would do something different and share a bit of my take on this crazy thing called life. 

Here are the 21 things I learned before 22.

Friends come and go, but family will always be there for you.

Things won't always go according to plan, but they have ways of working themselves out.

Change is inevitable.

Dwelling on the past leads to nowhere.

Time heals.

Positivity makes a world of a difference.

Breakfast for dinner is a glorious thing.

Everything is temporary.

Love hurts, but it also hurts not to love.

Moderation is key.

Everyone moves at their own pace in life.

Crying doesn't mean you're weak.

Making to do lists can help get things done quicker.

Your life is shaped by your choices, your experiences, and the friends you keep.

Mom is always right.

The world can be a cruel and ugly place.

The right choices are sometimes the hardest to make.

Beauty is subjective. 

A college degree doesn't guarantee a high-paying job.

Being an adult isn't as fun and glamorous as it seems.

The little things in life can bring the most joy.