April 27, 2011
birthday tulips from alice (david's mom)
my joseph-gordon levitt photos in the daily
italian essays
late lunch (vegan chicken!)
homemade card (with a missing p)
devon's apartment
homemade pizza
opening presents via skype
I really liked the photo-an-hour birthday project that I did last year, so I tried it again this year on Tuesday. Birthdays are always different (at least I never know what to expect). I basically had class/school work from 9-5, and then a study session from 7-9. After my JGL encounters the previous day, there wasn't a lot that I imagined would be as exciting. But then David gave me a picnic basket!

I know it sounds a little silly but I've been wanting a picnic basket for a few years and of course, David always seems to finally get me things that I've been eying for excessive amounts of time. I can't wait for my first picnic with it!

This time last year, I:
- just finished gallivanting around Western Europe with David
- began studying in Oxford
- had more tea than I thought possible
- spent more time on airplanes than I thought possible
- couldn't help but think that my half-year abroad was surreal.

With graduation this June, I truly have no idea what's to come this next year. Everything is so uncertain and subject to change. Usually, this drives me crazy but this year, I'm trying to embrace it.

serendipity (and joseph gordon-levitt)

April 26, 2011
joseph gordon-levitt
surprise birthday cake
Yesterday I met Joseph-Gordon Levitt three times. The first at a lunch presentation where he spoke about his project hitRECord.org. The other where I serendipitously ran into him on campus (he shook my hand and introduced himself as "Joe"). And the last during his mini-movie screening where he called me up on stage to talk about the time I went to see Jane Eyre.

And then my friends surprised me with an-almost midnight birthday cake. 22 is off to a good start!

Thank you, universe.

pretty houses downtown

April 21, 2011
bold colors + a lazy cat
tiny glass bottles
rounded roof
walnut avenue
Santa Cruz in the springtime is breathtaking. The weather this weekend was perfect for a midday stroll through the neighborhoods downtown. I've always loved the colorful Victorian houses but this was the first time I really took the time to admire them up close. Walking around made me really admire the variety of colors-- where else can you find multiple purple houses on the same street? Not only are the houses themselves gorgeous, but the trees and flowers seem to have grown specifically to make the neighborhoods more beautiful. Who says everything has to be man vs. nature? They seem quite cozy together over here.

homemade thin mints

April 19, 2011
homemade thin mints!
Welcome to the happiest day of my life. Just kidding... sort of. When it's girl-scout-cookie season, thin mints have always been/will always be my go-to cookie. When I met up with my friend Anna (who I haven't seen since Greece!), I was happy to learn that she works for Vegetarian Times (she's also a SF chef as well as a chocolatier!) and tests recipes. I was even happier when I found out that she recently worked on recipes from BabyCakes' new book, BabyCakes Covers the Classics. And then I was ecstatic to see that she had extra frozen dough from when she tested a homemade thin mints recipe.

As we prepared the dough for the oven and waited for the chocolate-covered pieces of heaven to cool, the one word that seemed to be floating around was "impatience." We wanted these bad. Somehow we managed to let the chocolate melt completely, let the cookies cool (almost) completely, and let the chocolate-dipped cookies harden (so what if we used the freezer instead of the fridge) before we ate them. The patience was hard to come by, but it was so, so worth it.
fresh from the oven
waiting for the cookies to cool
covering in chocolate
homemade thin mints
from BabyCakes

1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
1 cup vegan sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup arrowroot
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup melted refined coconut oil or canola oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup vegan gluten-free chocolate chips
3 tablespoons mint extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt. Add the coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until a thick dough forms (it will be a little crumbly). Form small dough balls and place on a lined cookie sheet-- each 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart from one another, flattening each ball and smoothing the edges. Bake for 7 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 7 minutes. Let stand on baking sheet for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate and mint in a double boiler (or a metal boil on top of water boiling in a pot). When completely melted, remove from heat. Dunk cooled cookies in mint chocolate and place on a cooling rack. Once all dipped cookies are on the rack, place them in your freezer for 15-20 minutes, until the chocolate has hardened.

You're welcome.


April 18, 2011
redwoods (my favorite)
I seem to have commuting in my blood. When I was in elementary school, my mom would drive us across the Bay Bridge every day so we could attend the schools we wanted. Now that I'm older, I seem to spend a lot more time in the car then I'd originally planned. I hit Santa Cruz and San Francisco in the same weekend and although I'm exhausted right now, each of my long drives was well worth it.
pretty mel
breakfast on a tiny table
rainbow chard
ammmaaazzzing homemade pizza with chard + lentils
at the cherry blossom festival
Before I could even enjoy the weekend, lost my cell phone and had no idea whatsoever where it could have gone. Then, while I replayed every possible scenario in my head, I got an email from my roommate saying a man contacted her because he found my cell phone in a parking lot! My battery was about to die so he hurried and tried to copy down my recent contacts and gave his information to Sarah and eventually I got my phone back the next morning. This is not the first time something like that has happened to me. I know it doesn't say much for my ability to hold onto my things, but it's a great testament for humanity. I know that every chance I get I'm going to pay it forward.

Alongside this happily-ending-fiasco, I also got to enjoy the weekend with my favorite coffee house, softball, my favorite veggie burger, brunch with David, and street-strolling in Santa Cruz. When I came back home, I went to my friend's adorable San Francisco studio apartment where we cooked one of the best meals I've had in a while (along with homemade thin mints*). Topped with an afternoon at the cherry blossom festival-- this weekend was good.

*You should know me well enough to know that these babies are getting their own post.

PS- Today I'm guest blogging about beloved Assisi over at Morgan's! Click here to visit.

a japanese feast (featuring sushi casserole)

April 14, 2011
with some miso-flavored sides
Oh, the perks of living with a culinary goddess. I know this might sound a bit hyperbolic, but as the school year comes to an end I can't help thinking of how nice apartment-living has been. I live with three of the best girls that I've met at Stanford and I know that I'll look back on this year with a lot of love.

But the year is not over yet! A few days back, Jenna made an amazing Japanese* dinner that consisted of miso-flavored broccoli and green beans, shira-ae, and a dish I've decided to call "sushi casserole." This dish is simply a layer of rice, and crab mixture, and sesame seeds sprinkled on top. The "casserole" is broiled for a few minutes before serving to warm everything up. To eat it, you take a sheet of seasoned nori (seaweed), and put a little scoop of the crab/rice mixture on the nori. The "sushi" might look small but it's easy to fill up quickly because they're so addicting. Thankfully, she's sharing her recipe with us!
we've decided to call it "sushi casserole"
hot sushi
sushi casserole
via a random lady jenna met

3 cooked cups of Japanese rice (so about 1.5 cups uncooked)
8 oz (1/2 lb) crab (fresh, canned, or imitation)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
sesame seeds
pre-cut seasoned nori sheets

Mix the crab, mayo, soy sauce and sesame oil together. Spread the rice along the bottom of a casserole dish. Spread the crab mixture on top of the rice. Broil the casserole for 5-7 minutes until golden brown and slightly bubbly. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Spoon onto seasoned nori and enjoy!

*This dish isn't actually Japanese-- just an amazing Japanese-inspired creation.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

April 13, 2011
dough balls
I've been making these cookies since my coffee-shop-baking days almost two years ago. The original recipe calls for raisins, but they're easily interchangeable with chocolate chips if you happen to have some anti-raisin friends. Every time I make these classic cookies they come out really well-- the proportions are perfect and the cookie is nice and chewy. Since the recipe is so simple, it's easy to make them on a whim and fill your house with the scent of freshly baked cookies.
oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
adapted from smitten kitchen

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. First cream the butter, then add the sugar, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and spices until the dough begins to come together. Fold in the oats and chocolate chips. Place dough-balls at least two inches apart from one another on your baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or, until golden brown. Once they're out of the oven, let them sit on the baking rack for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Enjoy with vanilla soy milk (or your beverage of choice)!

rumble fish

April 12, 2011
gorgeous bar
agadashi tofu
japanese beer and sake
david's chirashi
a little corner restaurant
I'd never heard of Rumble Fish before inadvertently going a few weeks ago. Originally, we planned on going to a tiny pizzeria but the problem was that, well, it was too tiny. Rumble Fish was literally right across the street and thankfully it was as tasty as it was convenient (since we were going to comedy show right after).

When I walk into a sushi bar, I don't normally expect to find retro memorabilia, coke bottles, and doo-wop playing. As weird as it sounded, I thought that the unusual choice in design made the restaurant very unique and entirely its own. The food was delicious (agadashi tofu is one of my favorite dishes) and the warm sake was a welcomed aperitif. Sometimes, the best restaurants are the ones you conveniently stumble upon.


April 11, 2011
distorted view of memorial church
dress up
split pea soup
niçoise salad
pimm's and croquet
white pomegranate tea
This weekend was filled with a lot of firsts: croquet, lipstick, niçoise, and capturing droplets of water in a photograph. Even though I've been "taking photos" for a few years, this new digital photography class is teaching me a lot of things I would never have known otherwise. I've gotten to used to using my camera the same way for the past four years and it's really amazing to see that there are a ton of things it can do that I never realized.

I spent so much time alone this weekend. Some people might see this as a bad thing, but having that time to myself has been refreshing. I got to work on my photos at my own pace, read for fun, and spend more time with my ukulele. As much as I love being with friends and family, sometimes, it's just nice to sit back and feel yourself grow.