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Easy, Breezy…

8 Jun

Two weeks ago, I took a quick trip back to California. Despite the ridiculous flight delay that had me grounded at JFK for 6 hours (on the runway! 6 hours!), I am so glad I went. A little dose of sunshine and a whole lot of love welcomed me and I spent my 5-day vacation catching up with family + friends.

Being away from my loves for 5 months really took its toll on me. Once home, I started questioning my decision to live in New York.

California is so easy. No subway, no evil characters. All my loved ones here. People who I have known for decades live here. How can I be away from them?

It didn’t help that once I got back to the city, I had to deal with a possible bug problem that left me in a hotel, depleting my impending vacation savings for Australia. Suffice to say, I was NOT a happy camper.

But these past few days I made sure to catch up with my friends here who matter most. Just talking with them and hearing their own troubles makes me feel like what I am going through is normal.

Let me be frank: New York is hard. Crazy hard. It’s dirty, rude, gritty, and challenging. But it can also be magical, rewarding, astounding, and exciting.

You could say I am in a love/hate relationship with NYC. Like a typical girl, I keep coming back for me ;)

Anyways, while home, I made this simply Strawberry Cake. Can I tell you a secret? I cheated and used Trader Joes Vanilla Bean Cake Mix. I often hesitate to buy cake mix because the flavors are muted and it tastes like cardboard. However, this mix was steller. Moist and natural, I would gladly use it again. For the frosting, I used this one that I love so much. Since you are using real strawberry preserves, you can actually taste the real bits of strawberry in the frosting.  I can’t wait to buy this mix again and pair it with other frostings and flavors. Anybody up for a funfetti cake?!

 

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A Memorable Memorial Day Weekend

26 May

midtown, girl, walking
Hello SLH readers! I wanted to pop in before the weekend and say a quick hi.

Memorial Day is the official start for summer and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Normally I’m a fan of fall/winter but I’ve changed my tune! I’m ready for sunny days, warm weather, beach vacations, and most of all, plenty of time with close friends and family.

Speaking of which, I’m actually jetting out of town tonight to spend this holiday with my lovelies in California.

On my agenda: parking it on the beach, late-night drinks with friends, time with my family, and lots of guacamole & chips. Oh, and I fully plan on putting my camera to good use so get ready!

I hope you all have a splendid weekend… See you next Tuesday :)

Hester Street Fair

23 May

Last weekend I wandered with my pal Gen and her boyfriend to check out the Hester Street Fair. Small and cozy, there were lots of interesting vendors and good food. I tried the macarons because how can a girl resist? Next time I will definitely try the lobster rolls and pulled pork sammies. I met and chatted with Wink and Flip, a local jewelry maker. Her designs were very colorful and summer-appropriate. I picked one up for a friend and plan on going back for more Anthropologie-esque designs (without the price tag).

Gray gloomy skies are here to stay this week in NYC. We had one glimpse of sun on Saturday and I soaked it up completely. Of course, because NYC likes to keep you on your toes, it started to downpour. Cue my run to the closest taxi.

While the weather is not pleasant, I am happy that this coming Thursday I will be jetting off to California for a quick trip. There will be lots of smiles, laughter, and FOOD. I am literally going to soak up the California sun and hopefully bring it back to New York. A little dose of home is just what this girl needs!

Go big, or go home

15 May

New York

This weekend, after spending the past two weeks digging myself out of boxes and cleaning products, I ventured out in to my beloved NYC and actually explored.

With my camera.

Ground-breaking, right?

However, it felt… Amazing. Like I was back in business. After a really lonely winter and struggle with the blues, I’d like to think that I’m waking up again, which, coincidentally, matches the coming of summer. I’m not gonna sugarcoat things; the past few months have been rough. Real rough. I lose all enthusiasm for school and dealt with a copious amount of stress and dissatisfaction at work. Ask any of my friends and I was one negative nancy.

coffee

But, this weekend I felt like the old Amanda, er the new Amanda… The more lively Amanda, I guess.

What better way to celebrate the gorgeous weekend than a little excursion to get monster donuts. Donuts that have a loyal (albeit cultish) following. My friends and I made the trek to the Doughnut Plant, a Lower East Side doughnut shop that has a damn good reputation for delivering fatty, sweet doughnuts. The line was long, but not as bad as expected for a Saturday morning. However, I should warn you that the shop is teeny tiny. One man working the register, and at least a dozen customers excited to nosh their brains out.

While I love a good cake donut, this time I was all about the yeast kind. They had a range of flavors including Vanilla Bean, Coconut Cream, Valhrona Chocolate, Cashew, Fresh Mango, Creme Brulee, and so many more. Resisting the urge to get them all, I settled on a true winner: the Peanut Butter-glazed doughnut with Blackberry jam filling.

donut

Oh. my. god.

It was heavenly. No, seriously. I heard angels sing. The salty crunchy peanut butter glaze combined with the sweet blackberry jam was exactly what I wanted. Not to mention, the actual monster-sized donut was pretty stellar. Soft, with a fried outside, but moist inside. It is sad to see a donut fall flat and thankfully, the Doughnut Plant’s did the exact opposite.

Next time, I plan on trying the fresh mango flavor because I just can’t imagine what mango + donut actually tastes like.

Till then, I will dream about the epic donut I had.

Springtime in NYC

8 May Spring in Central Park

Spring in Central Park

Spring in Central Park

Spring in Central Park

Walks in Central Park.

Moving in to a new place.

Gazing at fresh flowers.

I love spring in New York City.

Spring in Central Park

Getting Gorgeous!

3 Apr

getting gorgeous, metropavillon, nyc, photography, event, beauty, bloggers

blog, bloggers, beauty, event, getting, gorgeous

shopafrolic, beauty, nyc, getting, gorgeous, style, blog

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend the Getting Gorgeous event in Chelsea, which was aptly held on a stunningly fab day here in New York. Hundreds of bloggers and countless businesses were in the house, along with my dear friend Chris. Vera from I’m Not Obsessed kindly invited us and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

simply orange, juice, mimosa, getting, gorgeous, nyc, blog

Event attendees included Simply Orange (who happily gave us mimosas to enjoy while wandering the floor), Degree Women, Hanes (who talked me into trying their socks when enduring sweaty workouts), Sarah Potempa (who chatted with me about the importance of finding the PERFECT hair straighteners), Georgetown Cupcakes (drool!) and many more.

georgetown, cupcake, sweets, bakery, nyc, getting, gorgeous, blog

cupcake, georgetown, bakery, dessert, nyc, getting, gorgeous, event, blog

Go figure, I was more enthused about the cupcake than anything else. My friend Chris has the red velvet while I had some lemon-raspberry concoction. When I say they were droolworthy, I mean it. Moist and sweet, with a crazy delicious cream cheese frosting.

Overall, I had a fun time talking with vendors and snapping pictures like crazy. Once I got home, I dove in to the gift bag and found some cool stuff. I never knew Wheat Thins had Cinnamon Sticks, but hey, guess what? They do. Also, I found a product close to my heart… I don’t normally write about my work life but I was really happy to get these little gals in this bag.

getting, gorgeous, event, blog, nyc

What I loved the most about the event was seeing all the ladies come out in full force. White, yellow, purple, black, women from everywhere were here to celebrate their overall gorgeousness. Who doesn’t love that? Channeling my Spice Girls days, I’m all about girl power.

Thanks to Vera and the entire Getting Gorgeous staff for a lovely event!

Going Gluten-Free at BabyCakes NYC

27 Mar

donuts, sweets, babycakes, bakery, breakfast

When I think of gluten-free pastries, I think of dry baked goods, stiff to the touch. Thankfully, going gluten-free isn’t my lifestyle however, after trying Babycakes NYC, I might change my tune. In the midst of the gritty Lower East Side lies this little bakery. The minute I walked in , I knew it was my kind of place. While it was tiny, the attitude was cheerful and contagious, with some 90s rap playing in the background and cute, retro girls serving up some pastries. I don’t know what made me laugh more, the guy behind the counter trying to dance to “Back That Thang Up” or the girls rapping along to the song…

I had my heart set on donuts so that was my obvious choice. Looking at their display case, I felt indecisive and overwhelmed, as if I was shoe-shopping. Which one do I get? What if it isn’t as good as I had hoped? Why are there so many options?

donuts, babycakes, sweets, bakery, nyc, vanilla, breakfast

donuts, bakery, breakfast, nyc, babycakes

After my quick nervous meltdown, I went with my gut: vanilla doughnut with pink sprinkles. My friend went with the Lemon Coconut, which, by her guttural response, was delicious. Soft inside with a crunchy sugary outside, my donut was the best I had eaten in a while. I can’t remember eating a donut that didn’t knock me over the head with sugar, but somehow Babycakes delivers a sweet but not coma-inducing baked good. As for the rest of the products, I plan on coming back if I am back in that neighborhood. I hear they deliver too which is awfully tempting.

Life Goes On

21 Mar

Last week was not a good one. In fact, it might go down as the worst week of 2011. Granted we are only 1/4 of the way though 2011 so I guess there is room for growth? What was the reason behind this ? Without getting too specific, I experienced a pretty powerful professional disappointment. A blow that touched all my insecurities and fears, making me want to curl up in a ball with a sappy movie and a box of tissues. Combine that with a major pang of homesickness and a quiet home ( goodbye Tania, my recent home guest), let’s just say that I wasn’t a ball of sunshine.

However, life goes on. Right? That’s what everyone says. Tsunamis hit, the earth quakes, wars start, and yet life goes on. It may not be as bright or as hopeful as it used to be but the world keeps spinning.

Sometimes it just takes a little comfort to get you back on your feet. For me, that is a Cookies’ n ‘Cream cupcake, Skype dates with my mom, and a weekend spent lounging in bed with the sun streaming in.

Clinton St. Baking Company

16 Mar

I had the pleasure of eating at Clinton St. Baking Company.

Folks, I waited 2 hours for these pancakes. TWO HOURS. For someone who never waits for anything, I was quite proud of myself.

Coffee Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce

1 Mar

Sometimes I crave cheese. In a major way. Which wouldn’t be so out-of-the ordinary if I wasn’t lactose-intolerant. Yes, my little stomach can’t process those cheesy enzymes. I blame my asian DNA since it is pretty common for Asian people to have some form of lactose intolerance. While everyone runs for milk when eating warm cookies, I shudder at the thought.

However, once in a blue moon, I get a craving for something rich, decadent, and cheesy. Case in point, last week I went with a friend to S’Mac, a small Mac and Cheese hotspot that serves the main dish anyway you like it. Tummy ache be damned, I said, I want a skillet of hot mac and cheese and I want it now. Cut to me, rolling in a ball on my bead, quivering in pain. Not my finest moment but it was worth every bite. Today, I have another craving, but for that sinfully delicious dessert known as Cheesecake. Not just any cheesecake but one right up my alley: Coffee Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce.

I’d like to eat this everyday. I’d like to eat this everyday with maybe a side of mac and cheese.

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