Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MAKE

On Saturday night, my friends and I went to MAKE on the Upper West Side. Smiles and I kept making plans to go but it never worked out so I was thrilled to go with my college peeps!

For those of you unfamiliar with MAKE, it's a paint-your-own pottery place. You basically pay for whatever you're going to paint (mugs, bowls, figurines, picture frames...etc.) and painting time as well. It's a really fun project and as someone who enjoys crafts - a true joy!


You can see the pottery waiting to be painted in the back and the lovely assortment of paints on the table. It was like being in art class all over again!

B made some lovely salt and pepper shakers, NikCandy made matching coasters, Fanta made a vase/pitcher, and Guy made an ice cream bowl. I won't tell you what I made but I will say, I made it expressly for you! Yes, that's right - for you reading my blog! Tune in next week to see what I made.

It was obviously super fun (it's BYOB and food AND they gave us free red wine!) but I have to say, it was a bit on the expensive side. The pieces we made ranged from $18-$26 dollars and then there was a $12 painting fee plus tax, I believe. So it's definitely an activity to do on special occasions. But if you're feeling creative and have a few hours, it's a great low-key and relaxing activity. I definitely recommend it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Best Tuna Fish Eva!!!

I hate to brag but this recipe is a clear winner. I'm not a big tuna fish person but ever since seeing Coco have a tuna fish sandwich when she was in town, it's been in the back of my mind to make it. She ordered hers at a bar and I was intrigued to see that it had carrots in it! I've seen tuna fish with onions, celery, apples, and even raisins, but never carrots.

I compiled some ingredients and made up my own recipe for tuna fish!

Ingredients:
one can of tuna fish in water
one carrot
one celery stalk
1/4 small red onion
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon curry
dash of cumin (I believe everything tastes better with a little cumin, esp. spaghetti sauce)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Dice carrots. I get super nervous cutting carrots because they're so hard and I'm always afraid of chopping off my finger. I find that cutting them in half horizontally and then lengthwise makes the carrots more secure for the dicing. Then you can julienne them and then cut into tiny pieces.


viola!


Next dice celery and red onion and put in bowl. Make sure all of the pieces are generally the same size.


After draining the tuna, add to bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients.



The curry and cumin really spices up this tuna salad (no pun intended!). And the vegetables give it a wonderful crunch and a LOT of VOLUME. It adds extra nutrients and supersizes one can of tuna to last three servings!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The High Line

Guy was in town this weekend and he suggested going to the High Line which recently opened here in New York. "The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan's largest industrial district. No trains have run on the High Line since 1980. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. Friends of the High Line works in partnership with the City of New York to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park".

So there you have it. I couldn't have said it any better or more concisely.

I took about 40 pictures but for your sake, excluded all my pictures of the vegetation. There were so many different kinds of plants and flowers and many that I've never seen!

Here's what it looks like from street level

The start of the park at Gansevoort

High Line stamp!




The stretch that is currently open to the public was about 10 city blocks, so about...half a mile? It was pretty crowded as it was the first nice day in a while, but it was still really fun to stroll up the park and look at the park itself and vegetation, hang out and people watch, and to see some amazing views of Jersey and the city. I can't wait until the rest of it opens up!

As you can see from the pictures, they have benches, bleachers and lounge chairs where you can sit and relax. If I worked in the area, I would definitely frequent this park during my lunch break and read. The only downside was that there was a bit of a line to enter the park but we probably waited 10 minutes total - maybe not even.

It was a such a cool experience - I definitely recommend it! It's a great date activity and probably gorgeous in the evening (it's open until 10pm).

Friday, June 26, 2009

BabyCakes

The other day, Fanta brought home these wonderful cupcakes from Babycakes down on Broome. Not only are these cupcakes delicious but they were also gluten, dairy, egg, and soy free and sweetened with agave, not sugar.

Now, I know you're thinking - "how could cupcakes made without those ingredients taste good?!" but OH MY GOSH, they were surprisingly good! The cake itself was a little denser than most cupcakes which I appreciated because it made it more "cake-like" and the icing, although a little melty, tasted like regular icing.

Fanta got vanilla with lemon frosting, carrot with vanilla frosting and chocolate with chocolate frosting. They all tasted deliciosa but even more so because they just make you feel healthier eating it and it wasn't sickeningly sweet. I'm sorry that they're already cut up in the pictures but I didn't break out my camera until the chocolate cupcake was halfway to Fanta's mouth. I made her put it back down until I got my camera :) Such a great roomie!



Here is the carrot and chocolate...

and the vanilla with lemon frosting...

Again, all were delicious but my favorite was the vanilla cupcake. Fanta likes the carrot one the best but it was a little too spicy for my taste.

The cupcakes are a bit pricey ($3.95-$4.25) but worth it if you're allergic to any of the omitted ingredients. Roomie also tells me that the brownies there are also divine.

I definitely recommend them if your wallet can handle it!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chocolate Cream Pie


Yes, it's true - I'm going to share my famous chocolate cream pie recipe with you all. This is the perfect dessert to make in the summer because not only is it easy and delicious but it doesn't require baking in the oven, so your apartment or home doesn't get overheated! And I usually have the ingredients on hand (except for the heavy cream) so it's even more delightful to make and enjoy!


Ingredients:

one ready-made graham cracker pie crust
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons margarine or butter
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups skim milk
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cupe heavy or whipping cream

Directions:

In heavy saucepan, mix cornstarch, salt, and 1/3 cup sugar.


Stir in milk and chocolate. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture thickens and boils; boil 1 minute. Immediately remove saucepan from heat.


In cup, with fork, beat egg yolks; stir in small amount of hot chocolate mixture. Slowly pour egg mixture back into remaining chocolate mixture in pan, stirring rapidly to prevent lumping.


Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats a spoon well. Stir in vanilla extract and remaining 2 tablespoons margarine or butter until blended.


Pour mixture into pie crust; smooth top with rubber spatula.


To keep skin from forming as filling cools, press plastic wrap directly onto surface of hot filling. Refrigerate pie at least 3 hours or until well chilled.


In an electric mixture, whip cream and 2 teaspoons sugar until soft peaks form. Sprinkle walnuts on top and serve!




I have never encountered anyone who didn't like this pie and hope to never have to. :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand

I had just finished reading some heavy books so I wanted to give my poor brain a break by reading a beach read. I keep a list of books I want to read in a section in my planner and I stumbled upon this book at the library the other day (which was on the list) and picked it up.

This list that I keep in my planner consists of books that people have recommended to me or that got a good review somewhere. Some of the books on the list:

Sunset by Karen Kingsbury
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Crimon Petal & the White by Michael Faber (this one Anna Quindlen had recommended!)

I can't tell you what any of these books are about but the review was good enough for me to write down.

All this to say, I have no idea why Barefoot was on my list but by the looks of the cover, I knew it was a perfect "no-brainer".


And boy was I right! It's one of the more depressing books I've ever read and while the writing wasn't as horrendous as I was expecting at first, it was pretty painful to read... It's about two sisters and a friend who spend a summer at a small cottage on the Hamptons. One sister has lung cancer and is going through chemo treatments, the other sister just got fired by the University where she taught for sleeping with a student, and the other just found out that not only is her husband having an affair but she is also preggers. Of course.

And then this 22 year old boy enters their lives and changes them for the better. Blah blah - you get the drift. I definitely DO NOT recommend it.

But let me know if you have any good book recommendations!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibit at the Guggenheim

When I left my previous employer, my team gave me a GREAT going away present - a one year membership to the Guggenheim! Woot! I hadn't been to the Guggenheim in FOREVER, so I was thrilled to get it!

I was having a bit of a lazy weekend, so I decided to go and check out the current exhibit: Frank Lloyd Wright. With my wonderful membership card, I sailed right past the huge lines and got my ticket to enter. I can't decide whether I like the layout of the museum or not. I definitely can appreciate that it's easier to go through the exhibit and the curator has total control over what order the viewer is seeing the pieces, while also taking "breaks" and going into the gallery rooms, but I think it's a little overwhelming. I may have felt this way though because the exhibit itself, which were sketches and models of Wright's designs, required a lot of brain power, in my opinion, because you really need to examine the details and really understand what you're seeing - as opposed to seeing huge pieces of abstract art (in my humble, non-artistic opinion). I much prefer museum layouts like the Met, where you can easily digest the exhibits by picking which rooms to go to and not feel pressured to see it all.

In any case, the exhibit was amazing! I don't know much about architecture but I can definitely appreciate Wright's clean lines and measured designs. If you know me at all, you know that this is something that captivates me. Also, his handwriting was soooo perfect! I can very much respect that.

Most of the sketches were of commercial buildings, with some residential buildings. Some were built but a good amount of them were unrealized plans, like his city plan of Baghdad complete with an opera house and cultural center. There were lots of sketches of religious edifices as well, which were really interesting to me, because you can see what exactly he wanted the congregation to experience. Some of the pulpits were on ground level with pews in balconies, some were all on one level, some only had front entrances...etc.

All of the descriptions of the buildings were fascinating and they were great in conveying exactly what Wright was thinking when he designed all of them - why he used certain materials, why he used open spaces in a room...etc. It makes me want to be an architect! It's such a thoughtful art that is really intentional and most people don't even realize it! In fact, a lot of the descriptions reminded me of The Fountainhead, which made the exhibit even more poignant for me. Of course when I got home, I wikipedia-ed Frank Lloyd Wright, and lo and behold, there is a lot of speculation that Ayn Rand used Wright as a model for the protagonist in her book. I'm so glad I had a chance to read the book before the exhibit because it makes me understand and appreciate architecture that much more!

His work is also comparable to my all-time favorite architect, Tadao Ando. If you're not familiar with his work, I recommend checking him out as well. They both work with the natural surroundings of the building and instead of disturbing the landscape, they have their buildings be an extension of the surroundings. They both use really clean lines and basic materials and take space to a whole new level, in my opinion.

Here is my favorite Ando design:

The Church of Light in Osaka

Okay, now I'll get off my high-horse and finish this long-winded and boring post. But the point is, I DEFINITELY recommend it. DEFINITELY DEFINITELY DEFINITELY!!! It's so amazing that I'm planning on going back before it ends on August 23rd.

Lastly, here is the picture I snuck in before a security guard yelled at me:

Morning Cup of Joe

As I'm sure most of you can imagine, working in non-profit doesn't afford one many luxuries. I try to save a few pennies here and there by making small changes that don't make me feel deprived.

I'm one of those people who cannot function if I don't have a cup of coffee in the morning. I used to buy my cup (albeit at $1.25) every morning but I knew that I could make an even better cup for cheaper on my own. Unfortunately, I'm not a morning person, and I don't have time before work to brew myself a cup every morning, so I found a way to get my daily caffeine fix and not spend a lot of time or money doing so!

On Sunday night (or every three to four days), I brew my coffee in my regular coffeemaker and put it in a glass pitcher and keep it in the fridge for my morning iced coffee. I used to just put the coffee carafe from the machine directly into the fridge, but lately I've become concerned about the aluminum or whatever materials leaching into my cup o' joe - especially because it's a pretty cheap brand. So I invested the $4.99 to get myself a glass one.


So when I'm making my breakfast in the morning, I pour myself a cup and add my vanilla soy milk, agave nectar (it dissolves better than sugar granules and is better for you) AND my secret ingredient - cinnamon. It's like a Starbucks treat! Yummers.

Especially now that the weather is getting warmer (okay, who am I kidding, it's probably getting colder in New York), it's a great way to start the morning. And for those sweltering mornings, I plan on taking my cup with LOTS of ice with me on the go so that I can stay cool during my morning commute!

I highly recommend it, folks.

Now, I'd also like to share with you a funny little conversation I had with my dad when he received my Father's Day card. Actually, let me interject and interrupt myself by letting you know that I put my card in the mailbox near Columbia at 5:15pm on Wednesday (after the mail was already gone) and by Thursday afternoon, it was already in Jersey! Carazy!

Okay, now back to my Father's Day story...

Daddy: "Hi, Shi. Thank you for the Father's Day card"
Me: "Oh, I'm so glad you got it already! I hope you have a nice weekend!"
Daddy: "I don't think I spoil you at all." (I had written in my card that I appreciate getting spoiled all the time)
Me: "Yes you do spoil me!"
Daddy: "I don't think so..."
Me: "Daddy, you bought me twelve candy bars the other day when I told you I wanted a little snack."
Daddy: "Oh. Yeah."

The goods:


Now imagine this times SIX. Yes, that's right. Now I have enough chocolate to last me...Oh, who am I kidding...it probably won't last the week. Although there's Korean writing on it, it's actually Japanese chocolate because it's made by a Japanese company: Lotte. Holy yum!

Gotta love the Crunky! :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tyrone Wells and Better Than Ezra

This weekend, I went to go see Tyrone Wells again, who was opening for Better Than Ezra at Irving Plaza. I've already blogged about him, so I won't say too much, but he is one of the few artists that actually sound BETTER live than on records. He sprinkles his shows with cute little anecdotes, which makes the shows even more fun to be at. He performed from his last couple albums, which I love and you should check out, so it was great to be able to sing along with him.


For now, All Broken Hearts is probably my favorite song of his. His sound can probably be best described as rock, soul, a little pop... kind of Coldplay-ish.

Now then...onto the main show...

I have to say, while I recognize the name "Better Than Ezra", I can't say that I could recall even one song of theirs. I was a little puzzled because the crowd there was definitely "older", as you can see from the thinning hairlines of the people in the audience, so I really didn't know what to expect. But once they came out, it all came together for me, because they were themselves in the "older" category.

But they put on a pretty good show and the lead singer is a great performer. He was really working the audience and also sounded great live. I didn't recognize the songs they played while I was there, but I was definitely into it! I can't say I'll pick up their CD but I would definitely go see them again. Apparently, Eli and Payton Manning were in the audience because they're friends with the band, too. Football players turned groupies. Gotta love it!


Friday, June 19, 2009

Adora Disks

Hmmm, it seems this blogging daily thing may be quite a challenge, as I have already run out of material! Eek! Pretty soon I'm going to be telling you about what I did at work today. Sigh.

A couple months ago, I discovered these great little calcium supplements called Adora Disks through one of the blogs I read. Because I don't drink milk or eat much dairy, I knew that I was seriously lacking my calcium. I had tried Viactiv a couple times and I have to say, they're pretty gross. It's soft and chewy and has a terrible chalky taste. Bleh.

So I thought I'd give Adora Disks a try and bought them online, since I couldn't find them anywhere else in the places that were advertised on their website.

Of course two days after I got them in the mail and paid for shipping, I saw them at Whole Foods. Ah well.

They come individually wrapped and you can get them in bulk, or I got the little travel-sized packages that contain three disks. They have milk chocolate and dark chocolate flavors and are about 500mg of calcium with Vitamin D and K. I got the dark chocolate flavor and I have to say, while there is a hint of chalky-ness (they ARE calcium supplements after all), it was pretty good! The consistency was like normal chocolate and if you put it in the fridge, they're a refreshing sweet treat after meals! Definitely MUCH better than Viactiv or anything like that.

PSA of the day...

Remember women, it's very important to make sure you get enough calcium in your daily diet so if you're like me and drink lots o' caffeine and not enough dairy, make sure to take supplements!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kings

As most of you know, I don't own a television, so the little TV I do watch, is limited to what's on Hulu.

I had seen tons of posters about a new show called "Kings" in the subway and I was really intrigued as to what it was about. The poster (which I couldn't find online but it had a guy waving a flag in the sun) kept catching my eye and when I saw it advertised on Hulu, I knew I had to check it out. (I am such a sucker for flashy advertisements!)

The NBC website calls it a "riveting new drama about a modern day monarchy. 'Kings' is a contemporary re-telling of the timeless tale of David and Goliath. This series is an epic story of greed and power, war and romance, forbidden loves and secret alliances -- and a young hero who rises to power in a modern-day kingdom."

I think that says it all. What's great is that it's set in New York City, or the city of Shiloh, as it is in the show, so a lot of the locations are recognizable. For instance, the king's "castle" is the public library on 42nd. The acting is only so-so, but David, played by a young Australian actor, is actually pretty good. And pretty.

The story is obviously rooted in the Bible, so it gets a little religion-heavy sometimes, but I think they handle it in a way that's also entertaining and relevant. It's a predictable show for the most part, but fun to watch. I definitely recommend it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Raw Granola Bars

I read about raw granola bars in one of the food blogs I read, and the recipe was so simple and healthy that I had to try it! I didn't have the right-sized pan (apparently a lot of recipes require a 9x9 pan) so I just multiplied the ingredient list by 1.5.

Here is the recipe. I actually don't read this blog, but one of the other blogs I read referenced it and tweaked it a little, as did I... They're not actually "raw" but they don't require baking, which makes it a great summertime snack to make!

Ingredients:
1/2 c honey
1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c almond or peanut butter
2 c. rolled oats
1/4 c ground flax
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c sesame seeds
1/4 c unsweetened flaked coconut


Directions:

Heat honey, coconut oil, and almond/peanut butter and stir over low heat in a saucepan.


In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir very well.

Spread into a 9×9 inch baking dish and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.


Cut into bars and eat immediately! Refrigerate or freeze any uneaten bars.


Note: At room temperature these bars fall apart! They must be refrigerated or frozen and eaten immediately.

I have to say these bars are DELICIOUS!!! They're very nutty and delightful. However, as I was sending the recipe to my co-workers (who all ate a piece of the bar I had brought to work as a snack), I realized that I had gone a little heavy on the coconut oil and peanut butter - which made total sense because I was thinking they looked a little different from the pictures in the original recipe. But the overdose in the "wet" ingredients made the bar more sticky and made it not fall apart as the original ones do. I was tempted to try again with the real recipe, but I ran out of honey AND I found an even better peanut butter treat recipe that I want to try this weekend.

I definitely recommend making these bars. They're chock full of nutrients and will keep you full for a long time. If you're a peanut butter fan, it's a must-try. Also, I'm thinking this will be good fuel for long runs :)

Aveda and My Comeback

Hello Blog readers!

After much contemplation in the shower, I decided that I really need to be more consistent about my blogging. I love sharing things with you, and usually do only when something is "blog-worthy", but really, what does that mean?! So now, I'm going to try to be more like my friend Pink and try to write consistently (daily?) and share with you bits and pieces of my life on a more regular basis, no matter how mundane. Most of the reason why I love blogging is that I love that my life is documented (aren't the 20s supposed to be the best years of your life) and because I'm always sharing new things I learn with people, and instead of repeating myself, I can direct them to my blog!

And while I realize my readership totals about...seven people, let me know if there's something in particular you would like me to write about!

Onward!!!

When I was home this weekend, my mom gave me this sample size of Aveda's Caribbean Therapy Body Scrub. I'm a big fan of exfoliation so I was super excited to try this. When you open the jar, the scent is rather overpowering (aromas of amyris, vetiver, bay and lime) but once I put it on in the shower, it wasn't too bad. I used it on my elbows and legs and it felt gritty (obviously) and unusually oily, which I was turned off by at first.


I rinsed it off and headed to bed still feeling a little too oily, but not majorly uncomfortable. WELL, when I woke up this morning, I could not believe how soft my elbows and legs felt! I don't have dry skin by any means but my elbows are always disgustingly dry all year round. But I can't even begin to tell you how different my skin felt this morning. There wasn't a trace of oily-ness and even by the end of the day, my elbows were still pretty soft! In fact, I just took a shower without the scrub, and they're still feeling wonderful! I cannot tell you enough how amazing this product is! I definitely recommend it and it is a great gift idea!