Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas in the Park

Lauren and I try to cram in as many Christmas activities as possible in December, which can prove difficult with finals in full swing. When we were living together we would pick a day to wake up, have tea, go Christmas shopping, come home and wrap presents, and then finish the day off with a trip to Christmas in the Park. The tradition is continuing despite no longer being roommates! 
Christmas in the Park is a San Jose tradition, Caesar Chavez park is lit up with hundreds of Christmas trees, props, rides, and carnival snacks. There's ice skating, and caroling, and their "Loaded Hot Chocolate" is so rich I can never finish one on my own. We get dressed up in festive attire every year, but this year we just forgot to take any pictures of our outfits at all, so I drew them! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Tree

This past weekend Keith and I went out and got our very first Christmas tree. The Christmas Tree is always my favorite part of the season, and I traditionally like to do it as soon as possible once Thanksgiving is over. This year we went out on Black Friday to get it! Since we were pretty limited on decorations, our families donated some of their ornaments, and it filled out our tree so nicely! Since our apartment is so small, we got a shorter tree and put it up on the dining table. This is by far one of my favorite trees so far.
I hope your season is off to a bright start too!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Chai Spice Scones

As it is now December, I will be baking like a mad woman. I like to make the usual Gingerbread, Sugar Cookies, Fudge, etc for the holidays, but I always love a good scone, and they are such an easy thing to whip together last minute. Anything with Masala spices automatically wins my heart, so these scones are a personal favorite of mine. A cute idea to try: Mini Scones as gifts!
This recipe is the result of boredom and curiosity. Whenever I have some downtime at work, I try to think of new recipes to try, with as little cost as possible. The smell of chai is just so warm and inviting, and we were due to have some scones for sale. So TA DA! The Chai Spice Scone was born. If you really love Masala Chai, pair one of these babies up with a Chai Latte, and you're set.
Note: Brew a 1/2 cup of tea with 2 chai tea-bags or 2 tsp loose leaf chai for 5-10 minutes. This will make a strong enough brew.
Makes 6-8 scones
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup strongly brewed masala chai
  • 1 large egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons loose leaf chai tea
For the Glaze:
  • 1/4 cup concentrated chai tea
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Begin by preheating your oven to 350˚F.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, loose leaf tea, salt, and baking powder.
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles dry bread crumbs.
Make a well in the center of the mixture, and pour in the heavy cream, concentrated chai tea, and the egg.
Mix together, and on a lightly floured surface pat the dough together into a 1" thick round, and cut into desired shapes.
Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 15-18 minutes.
While the scones are baking, prepare the glaze. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the chai tea and powdered sugar until it forms a smooth glaze consistency, add more tea or powdered sugar as needed.
Once the scones are cooled, drizzle the glaze generously over the scones and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm Living My Twenties Just Fine

Buckle up guys, cause I am bothered. I have been seeing a lot of lists around the social media realm with titles like "What Not To Do In Your Twenties" or "25 Things You Have To Do Before You Turn 30". Being the near-24 year old that I am, I read these lists in hopes of finding some good advice or some small form of enlightenment. So far all I have found is some plainly obvious good advice like spending time with family, but other than that I have found many self absorbed philosophies. I have gathered some that stand out the most, and will explain why things like this not only bother me, but can be offensive to people like me, and those that came before us twenty-something-year-olds. 

If you've got the time, read on, but bottom line- Live your twenties in a way that is best for you. Don't fall into "what not to do" and "have to's", its your life, and no one can tell you otherwise, that includes me. I'm just a girl on the internet after all. 

1. "Working for money, not for building your dreams.
Never do anything just because it’s convenient for you. Look to challenge yourself and build your own dream instead of building someone else’s. Even if it doesn’t exactly make sense now, create something with great value so you can cash out big.
Always look to the future and never for immediate compensation. What are you going to do with those weekly wages anyways? Stop being so entitled and pretending like you deserve cash, prizes and vacations just yet. You will soon realize once you’ve made it that making money doesn’t make you happy. It’s the journey."
This is ideal advice, in theory. The reality is "those weekly wages" are needed to pay rent, buy groceries, pay bills, and over all survive as a functioning self-sufficient adult. Though there is a lot of truth to "making money doesn't make you happy, its the journey", unless you are being fully supported by your parents this is not a luxury granted to most people, and you shouldn't be made to feel like a money grubber simply because rent is due. 

2. "Thinking that this is the right time to fall in love.
While all of your friends might be doing it, don’t fall into the trap of a relationship. Sure it seems like the right thing to do, but your 20s are entirely too crucial for your personal growth for you to be focusing on fulfilling the wishes of another individual.
Not only does it make you complacent with where you are in life, but it makes you boring. When your business is at stake and your future is resting on your shoulders, the last thing you need is to be bogged down by an insecure lover rushing you home.
Get out there, meet new people, test the limits and have fun. It will take you to the places you’ve only dreamed of going."
Don't fall into the "trap of a relationship"? What this is telling me is that your twenties should be entirely focused on yourself, and that reaching out to another person will be a waste of precious me-time. I am married (and before the age of 25 even!) and am truthfully a much better person for it. By all means you should be comfortable with yourself and being alone, but caring and loving another person has not made me complacent or "boring". I have started my career, become independent of my parents, we rented our first apartment, and we help each other grow. We motivate each other, and have become better people for it. Relationships are not "traps", and its rude to assume all of your friends in relationships have fallen into traps.

3. "Getting comfortable like you actually deserve down time.

Unless you’re chilling with Victoria’s Secret models in Monaco this weekend, you shouldn’t even be thinking about taking a break anytime soon. You need a vacation?
What have you accomplished? Mark Cuban spent seven years building out his first business before he even took a break. Don’t get lazy now."
This one really depends on your interpretation of a "break". Everyone needs a break at some point, no matter your age or success. College students for example, work very long inconsistent hours, often while trying to support themselves. I calculated my average week once while in college, and I came to an average of 60-70 hours of homework/class time per week PLUS my 24hr/week job. Don't tell me we don't deserve a break just because we are young. It doesn't make any sense.

4. "Sticking with jobs that didn’t teach you anything

A bad job is like an unhealthy relationship. Truthfully, the only reason you’re there is because it is the safest and easiest thing you know.
Any job or relationship that allows for you to get comfortable should be avoided at all costs. The last scenario you could ever want is becoming like the rest of those miserable 40-somethings faced with weekends of minivans and soccer practice."
Truthfully the only reason I have stuck with bad jobs is because I need to pay my rent on time so I can keep a roof over my head. Not because it is safe or easy or comfortable. Waiting tables for minimum wage is anything but comfortable, working a 10 hour day with no overtime to the point of injuring your foot is not safe. And as for "the rest of the miserable 40-somethings", that is just plain assuming and ungrateful. May I ask who took you to your soccer practices and supported your childhood? Probably a 40-something with a car your stuff would fit in, who worked damn hard to take care of you. Show some respect. 

5. "Do some drugs. Nothing hard like heroin or ice, but do some mushrooms or take some ecstasy in a room full of people you love. Hold hands and stroke each others hair, and tell one another how wonderful you are. Drugs are pretty stupid, so try them out while they still have some mystique."

Drugs are pretty stupid but do them anyway. Very sound advice. So just because something has mystique means its not a stupid thing to do? Being in your twenties makes doing drugs less stupid? 

6. "Give your credit card a workout because you don’t have kids or a mortgage. Eat cans of beans for dinner but do it in the gorgeous dress you bought and your best high heels because you’ll never be this young or this stupid again, so you might as well have the decadent things that make you happy, guilt free."

I'm all for small doses of this, like getting a new sweater instead of extra cookies and that holiday tea at the grocery store or eating spaghetti at home instead of going out for the sake of some new shoes, but sacrificing your health for material possessions will quickly become unfulfilling and unhealthy. I would imagine this kind of philosophy also sets you up for falling into debt later in life.

reference: Article 1, Article 2

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nature Painters

Emma and I are both recent art school graduates (by one means or another), and have been struggling with keeping our academic art muscles strong. So we've been motivating each other to keep up the practice of painting from life by going out plein aire painting on a weekly basis. We have two locations we like to frequent, one codenamed "Turkey Land" because of the abundance of wild turkeys, and the other codenamed "Weathertop" because of the beyond-perfect boulder we sit on while painting.
It is such a relaxing thing, and we are getting better each time we go! I've made some doodles of our experiences while out and about, and will post paintings in the future once our practice pays off!

We discovered a big stump that was jam packed full of acorns. I think it was the work of squirrels.

A question Emma kept asking herself, before remembering we were outside.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


This past week I made a new friend, I've named him Buhloney. Keith and I came home one evening, and found a cat sleeping on our porch, I tried to approach the cutie but he was too skittish and ran off. I had seen this cat around the neighborhood before, he is definitely a stray as he looks a bit thin and is usually filthy, but a really cute cat nonetheless. So I ran inside and put out a bowl of bologna I had ripped into cat-sized bites, and some water. Now he keeps coming back and I keep giving him food. He is gradually getting more and more comfortable around us, and I am pleased to have a furry friend in my life. He likes to sleep on our porch now.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All Gold Emma

This past weekend was Emma's birthday. She is one of my best friends, and one of my oldest. I consider her a kindred spirit, sisters from another mother, art buddy, and amazingly inspiring. She has developed an absolute love for the color gold, and all things gold, so for her birthday we decided to throw her a gold party! Complete with golden cape, cowboy hat, bird, sweater, and belt for her to wear. There was a playlist of songs about gold, gold sprinkles on the cake, gold streamers, gold cups, napkins, and plates. All Gold, Everything. My favorite were the Golden Girls masks we made.
We set up a golden photo-booth with props, and it was the highlight of the party. 

Emma and I make up 2 parts of a tripod of friends, Wendy was our missing piece. So naturally we made a paper puppet version of her. What a party animal.

Lauren and I found some gold eyelashes, which were so much fun! I am definitely picking up another pair of these for new years.

ADORABLE. This picture makes me so happy. Two of my best friends found each other, and it just melts my heart.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Grown Up Brownie

As a child I was terrified of anything with the least bit of spice or kick to it. I would beg my parents to make sure my food wasn't spicy in the least bit, no matter where we were. As I got older I slowly but surely started to love spicy food and now instead of doing everything in my power to avoid it, I am of the opinion that "The spicier, the better!"
These are brownies for a coffee, spice loving person. I wouldn't call these the most kid friendly brownies, because they aren't very reliant on the sweet side. The addition of chili powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, paprika, and nutmeg add some kick, and really bring out the rich espresso flavor. So this is my brownie recipe, all grown up.

Use a really dark chocolate, I like to use 86% cocoa

Dipping the bottoms of your brownies in sugar adds a nice touch, and keeps them from sticking to each other when you stack them on a plate!
Makes 16 brownies
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 oz. dark chocolate (72-86%)
  • 2 tablespoons dutched cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup fresh espresso
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Begin by preheating your oven to 350˚F.
Prepare a 9x13 inch pan but lining it with parchment paper, set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and paprika. Set aside.
Put the chopped chocolate, butter, and espresso in a large bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water. Stir occasionally until fully melted and combined.
Take off the heat, and add the sugars immediately. Stir until combined. Let cool.
Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined, ass the remaining 2 eggs and vanilla, and stir until combined. Do not over-beat otherwise your brownies will turn out cakey!
Slowly add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and gently combine all of the ingredients.
Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, making sure to rotate halfway through.
Once the brownies have cooled, cut them into 16 small squares, and dip the bottoms in granulated sugar.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Couple's Costumes

I love doing a good couple's costume, and the last time I did a costume without a partner was about 7 years ago. This was mine and Keith's only couple costume. He was a WW2 GI and I was WW2 era Wonder Woman. I made the costume myself, and keep it around as a back up to this day. However, the year after this I met Lauren, and Keith was (not sorry to say) booted and Lauren and I have been doing a couple costume every year since. Our ultimate dream costumes are Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn (her as Ivy and myself as Harley) but we are saving that for a day when we have more money and time, so we can do it justice. Or injustice. Haha villain joke.

This was our first joint costume, and truthfully the nerdiest. We went as Frank and Ollie, 2 Disney animators. Hardly anyone knew who we were, though luckily we partied with some Disney fanatics that night and won the costume contest!

The next year we went with a simple Cowboy and Indian theme, and were ninnies and only took this very up close, grainy picture. One day we'll learn to take good photos of our costumes.

This was my favorite, Jesse and Heisenberg! We spent the day slipping people bags of "blue meth" (actually blue raspberry rock candy) We don't think we'll ever be able to top these costumes, at least not anytime soon. A fellow classmate almost called UPD on us when they saw us going into the womens' restroom!

We are both big Scream fans and decided a good party costume would be to go as victims of Ghostface. It was so much fun throwing fake blood at each other, and we even had some friends dress up as Ghostface and pretend to kill us throughout the night.

And now this year. Han Solo and Chewbacca: Lady-fied. A cute and girly Han Solo has been on my Halloween to-do list for some years now, and I finally did it! Lauren's costume was so wonderfully fuzzy it was hard not to hug her all night. This year we were turned into an awesome trio with the addition of our close friend Megan as Boba Fett! So much detail went into her jetpack and I'm sad we didn't get a picture of it. One day we'll learn... hopefully. She gave us all lady nicknames; Hanna Solo, Babe-ba Fett, and Chewbaccita.

I'm already excited for our costumes next year! Happy Hallow's Eve!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Pumpkin carving is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Going to the patch, picking the perfect pumpkin, gutting it out and making it into a classic face and then roasting the seeds. So much good comes from it, and there is some sort of wonder and magic that never fades when it comes to pumpkin carving. Personally, I am a fan of classic jack-o-lantern faces as opposed to scenery or pop culture references, so my pumpkins may not be the most fancy, but they have a nice nostalgic quality.
This year Lauren and I wanted to re-create the pumpkin from Halloween (1978), and I think we did a great job! After all the mess was cleaned up, I roasted the seeds. This year I made cinnamon sugar and garlic cayenne pepper flavored seeds.