Friday, August 31, 2012

Into the Blue

Photos courtesy of Sung Shin

Jeans-American Eagle (similar style here)
Necklace, ring-David Yurman (similar style here)
Bracelets-David Yurman, Mulberry
Shoes-Pour La Victoire 

Happy Friday! For the majority of us, we have a 4 day weekend ahead of us which also means it's the official send off to summer. I haven't been to the beach all summer and ironically I'll be heading to Delaware today to relax at Rehoboth Beach for the last weekend of summer. Beach, seafood, and outlet shopping are things I'll be looking forward to. Do you have any plans for the long weekend ahead?

Whatever you do, I hope it involves good food and good fun. Have a great weekend. xo.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Savoring Summer

Photos courtesy of Sung Shin

Shirt-H&M (similar style here)
Shorts-J.Crew (old)
Bracelets-Hermes, Neiman Marcus
Shoes-Kors by Michael Kors

Happy Wednesday everyone! Now that there is only about a week left of summer left, I've been trying to savor the last bits of the season by wearing bright colors and making sure my dog Mandu also gets to enjoys the last summer days of warm weather outdoors=)

How are you enjoying the last week of summer?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekend Snapshots

This weekend I...

1. Delved into the pages of the Sept issues of some of my favorite food and fashion magazines. The Sept issue of Vogue is always the biggest issue of the year, so it's always interesting who they pick as their cover model.

2. Had a craving for fish tacos so I went to Pica Taco, my favorite Mexican hole in the wall place in D.C. to satisfy the craving. Another favorite taco of mine on their menu is the chorizo taco. A must if you like a little spicy kick in your meat.

3. Made spicy basil chicken using the basil leaves from my parent's garden. Before the cold weather hits, I want to use as much of the fresh basil that I can since there won't be anymore home grown basil until next year. Sadness. Home cooked meal and watching Downton Abbey equates to perfect Sunday evening.

4. Started researching hotels for my upcoming trip to Portugal. Tickets have been bought and I recently decided to add Madrid to the itinerary, since Spain is a train ride away. I'm getting excited for this upcoming travel because it's been almost a year since I've last traveled out of the country which is a bit unusual for me. My friends always make fun of me because over the years, I would travel internationally every 4 months or so. If you've been to Lisbon/Madrid, I'd love to hear your thoughts/suggestions on either places.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Green Summer

Photos courtesy of Sung Shin

Chambray shirt-Old Navy
Skirt-H&M (recent)
Shoes-Pour La Victoire
Bracelets-David Yurman, Mulberry

Hi everyone! I'm back from my brief weekend trip to NYC and have been trying to rest and gear up for the rest of the work week. I recently pulled out my favorite chambray shirt (one of my favorite items to wear during the fall) and wanted to pair it with this recently bought skirt from H&M. I was initially on the hunt for a green blazer actually but I couldn't pass up buying this skirt for the fit, price tag, and color. This skirt will suffice for now;)

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week. xo.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend Snapshots

This weekend I...

1. Traveled to NYC to visit my sister. The weather was gorgeous and comfortable and we basically did our favorite things: eat and shop. One of the first food stops we went to was Num Pang, a Cambodian sandwich shop. The 5 spice pork belly bahn mi is a favorite amongst customers and is now a favorite of mine. It's a bit more expensive then the usual cost of a bahn mi sandwich but I think it was well worth it, especially because they don't skimp on the juicy, succulent meat. Major nom.

2. Roamed and grocery shopped through the Farmer's Market in Union Square. I could've spend hours there looking at the beautiful, vibrant produce.

3. Went to Maison Laduree to try their famous macarons. It's their only US shop to open in the states (original location is in Paris) so the place was packed. I can only compare it to Bouchon Bakery's because those are the only other ones I've had and it's very similar in taste. Light, airy, and delicate with just enough of sweetness from the filling. A bit pricey for those wee little things but so worth it.

4. Had the best coffee of my life. I didn't think that could be possible but I was wrong. If you're ever in NYC and love coffee, you MUST stop by Stumptown Coffee. When we first placed our order, we ordered their cappuccino, thinking that it's probably better then their regular house blend. It was tasty but I didn't understand what the hype was about. Since I drink coffee everyday, I decided to buy their coffee beans to take back with me and as I was paying, the barista said it came with a free cup of coffee. Thinking nothing of it, since it was free I drank it with no expectations. But then, I tasted the coffee. Game over. Mind blown. How can their free coffee taste better then their cappuccino?? The coffee tasted smooth, bold, with just the right amount of bitter. I can't get over this place. Just. Cant.

5. I wanted to take my sister to the famous Halal carton 53rd street for the chicken over rice. I've tried this cart out several times over the years but only came in the wee hours of night (it's opened until 3 or 4am) for late night grubbing with friends. I was surprised to see a line during the middle of the day but it's to be expected. The food is cheap and so, so good. The chicken is juicy and flavorful, the rice is fluffy, and the white sauce is crack. Just be wary on how much red sauce you put on it because it's SPICY. I have a pretty high tolerance when it comes to spicy things but this red sauce is dangerous.

6. Shopped in Soho and picked up a couple of new things. I'll just leave it at that=)

How was your weekend?

Friday, August 17, 2012

NomNom: Chocolate Chunk Cookies

It always amazes me when I witness the kindness of strangers--only because it's such a rare thing to come across these days. Last week I had this dilemma with a HUGE mirror I bought (we're talking 10ft in height with heavy brass lining surrounding) that I decided to return. At the time I bought the mirror my parents had their SUV so it was no big deal. Now the SUV is gone (may it rest in peace) and I got stuck with the mirror.

I mean, I was okay with keeping the mirror but the original plan was to hang it behind my sofa and well, the mirror was too heavy so I was told that it might be a bit...dangerous. So, temporarily I set it upright against the wall as a "decor piece." I dunno.

I was talking on the phone with my friend Mel and asking her what I should do and somehow or another she ended up coming over to help me with my problem. She's the best.

Now, where do I begin with the first problem with the mirror? First of all, it is so big that we had trouble having it fit in my building's elevator. Second, we thought that if we put the car seats down, it would easily slide into the car. Umm no. It wouldn't fit. BIG PROBLEM. So there we were, in the garage, with half of the mirror sticking out of the car. After all the trouble we went through trying to get that thing down to the garage, I refused to bring it back up just yet.

Just as we were about to give up, a lady stopped by and basically told us that it wouldn't fit in the car. Duh lady. But then she proceeded to say she had a SUV and asked us where we needed to go. Thankfully the store was 5 minutes away and she basically said, "I think the good neighborly thing to do would be to help you guys out."


After dropping the mirror off, I got her name/unit number because I really wanted to do something for her beyond a thank you because she has no idea how much of a help she was that day and I wanted to show her a token of my appreciation in someway.

I recently came across a recipe for the best chocolate chunk cookies. I've made many recipes involving chocolate chip cookies but this was my first time using chocolate chunks instead of chips. It makes such a difference and it might be one of the reasons why it really is the best. I know, bold statement.

Anyway, I ended up baking these soft, chewy, chocolaty cookies again for my neighbor and wrapped it up with a cute polka dot ribbon, attached to a thank you note. Polka dots makes things so much cuter, right?

Moral of the story? Be kind. Make these cookies. Both are worth it.

Have a great weekend. xo.

Ingredients (Adapted from Yields 36 cookies
160 g  (3/4 c)  Light Brown Sugar
160 g (3/4 c + 1 T)  Granulated Sugar
255 g (1 c) unsalted Butter
2 large Eggs
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 t Sea Salt
370 g (3 c) all-purpose, unbleached Flour
1 t  Baking Soda
350 g (.75 lb) Dark Chocolate (cut into 1/2" chunks or smaller)

Preheat oven to 375° F (350° for convection ovens)

1. Beat together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla extract, and sea salt.

2. Sift together the flour and baking soda.  Stir into batter, then add chocolate chunks and stir until well mixed.

3. Roll into 1 1/2" thick logs.  If not using soon, freeze the logs for future use, otherwise cut the cookies into equal portions, about  3/4" thick.

4. Pat the discs even and circular then place on a silpat or baking paper lined sheet pan. Space the cookies so they won't bake into each other when they spread.

5. Bake at 375° F for at10-12 minutes, making sure to take them out when they are still slightly underdone. They will be a light golden brown on the outside edges.  After the cookies cool for a minute, transfer to a cooling rack and allow them to cool enough that the chocolate won't burn your mouth.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cool Down

Photos courtesy of Sung Shin

Oxford shirt-Juicy Couture (old)
Vest-Old Navy (bought this color too!)
Pearls-J.Crew outlet (recent)
Bracelets-David Yurman, Hermes
Sunglasses-Stella McCartney
Shoes-Jessica Simpson 

Hi everyone! Can you believe that we're already halfway though August and that summer is practically over? A part of me is sad that the summer season is over but I'm definitely looking forward to a season of change. The weather is beginning to feel less humid which means fall is around the corner. I can't wait to welcome jackets, layers, and fall colors into the wardrobe. 

I bought this cargo vest last week and it's been a great layering tool for my clothes and something I can easily transition into the next season. It also makes me feel like I need to be on a safari;) 

How are you getting ready for Fall?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Weekend Snapshots

This weekend I...

1. Had brunch at Cheesestique in Old Town Alexandria. It's a cute little cheese/wine shop where you can do wine tasting and dine in. I have definite plans to come back.

2. Discovered the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. I've gone through several recipes over the years but this one tops it off. It was my first time using chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips and I think that made a big difference.Will share the recipe soon.

3. Came across an amazing deal on these J Brand jeans for $41 at Last Call Neiman Marcus (the outlet). I've been wearing them non stop over the weekend and the color is so easy to pair with--it's also a great color to segway into the fall season.

4. Visited Barrel Oak Winery for the first time. I was initially attracted to this place after reading about it in Washingtonian magazine because it was a dog friendly winery. I packed some food and we ended up spending the evening here. It's a beautiful winery that has lots of outdoor seating with an amazing setting. This is another place I'd come back to.

5. Checked off another thing of my "shopping list" which is bunched up strands of pearls. I've been on the search for a necklace like the one I bought and surprisingly found it at the J.Crew outlet. I love finding things I want in unexpected places.

How was your weekend?

Friday, August 10, 2012

NomNom: Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

My mom is a master of Korean cuisine. I'm sure that all Korean kids say that their mom is the best at cooking Korean meals but they're...wrong. My mom is the best and that's just a fact.

Looking back, I think my sister and I were somewhat spoiled with certain things, one being fed home made dumplings. My mom never once bought store bought dumplings to feed the family and instead would make it all from scratch (minus the wrapper..that still counts, right?)

As a kid, I remember this one time I was hanging out at my friend's house and her mom invited me to stay for dinner. She mentioned mandu (Korean word for dumplings) and I guess since I was so used to eating homemade dumplings I assumed all Asian households operated as is. Nope, totally not the case. My friend must've seen the look of hesitation from me when I saw her take the frozen bag of dumplings out from the freezer because she tried to reassure me that "this stuff was good."

Wrong. So, so wrong.

On dumpling days, my mom would call my sister and I down into the kitchen and tell us to help her assemble the dumplings. We begrudingly did as we were told but looking back now, I'm so thankful that she did. Not only was that her way of spending time with us, but it was also teaching us that as we get older, one of the roles we will someday step into will be to cook for the family. Learn by example. Smart lady.

What is it about summer that makes me feel like time moves a bit differently? It's already August and before we know it, fall will creep up. And then winter. Crazy.

After recent events that happened a couple of weeks ago with the family, I've been thinking about things that matter to me. Time and effort are two things running through my head. Making the effort to spend time with loved ones, whether it be family or friends no matter how "busy" life becomes are important. Life lessons.

To my friends who've visited/emailed/texted me periodically to check up on me: Thank you. I've been slow to get on the reply button because I still need my space but I haven't forgotten. Your words mean a lot and I really appreciate it.

Now, although my mom is an amazing cook, the woman does not have a exact measurements to her Korean cuisines. Problematic. After much perusing through magazines and online recipe hunting I came across this recipe found in Martha Stewart Living that showcased a Korean cook's dumpling recipe, which are very similar to the ingredients my mom uses to make her dumplings. 

Excuse the messy fingers. It can happen in the process. No biggie.

If you end up making too many dumplings, that's totally fine. Just freeze them on a lined (plastic wrap or aluminum foil) cookie sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to a zip lock bag or a sealed container. They are good for up to 3 months. Lazy days=leftover dumplings.

I'm grateful that my mom made my sis and I help her with dumplings because however you spend time with family/loved ones is something that is invaluable and simply put--time well spent. Dumpling making is a great way to interact with friends, kids, and boyfriend/husband. There are so many variations of dumplings out there that you could even host a dumpling party.

Note to self: Get on that.

Have a great weekend. xo.

Ingredients (Adapted from Eunsook Pai in Martha Stewart Living June 2012) Yields: 80
7 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided, plus more if needed
6 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage (about 1/2 head)
1 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
2 cups thinly sliced Vidalia onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives (about 1 bunch)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 4 scallions, plus more for garnish)
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
1 1/2 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
1 egg
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 package of store bought frozen dumpling wrappers (defrost at room temperature for 30 minutes)

Ingredients for dipping sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili oil/chili paste (optional but highly recommended)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large saute pan or wok over high heat. Saute cabbage, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and transfer to a large bowl. Heat another tablespoon vegetable oil and saute onion, stirring occasionally, until just softened, 2-3 minutes.Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, add to bowl with cabbage, and let cool for 5 minutes. Process in a food processor until just coarsely chopped, and return to bowl.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in pan over medium heat, and satue chives until just tneder, about 1 minute, and saute chives until just tender about1 minute. Transfer to chopped cabbage mixture and let cool. Stir in scallions, garlic, pork and sesame seeds, sesame oil, 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

3. Stir together soy sauce, vinegar, and hot chilli oil/paste in a small bowl, set dipping sauce aside.

4. Working with 1 wrapper at a time, moisten edge with beaten egg, then place 2 teaspoons filling in center. Fold in half to form a half-moon, press edge to seal tightly, and place on a parchment-lined/foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

5. TO STEAM: Wipe out pan. Working in batches and wiping out pan between each, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until simmering, and sear dumplings until browned about 1 min. per side. (If preparing in advance, stop here and steam before serving.) Add 1/4 cup water, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Steam dumplings in 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter and loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with rest of dumplings. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve dumplings with dipping sauce.

6, TO BOIL (I used this method on today's post): When all dumplings are assembled, you can cook immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to several hours. To cook, fill half of a large pot with water and bring to boil. Gently slide in 1/3 of the dumplings while boiling. Turn down the heat to simmer and gently cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and repeat with the rest of the dumplings. Serve with dipping sauce.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Rain+Cropped Tweed

Photos courtesy of Sung Shin

Tweed jacket-Ann Taylor
Striped shirt, belt-J.Crew
Boyfriend jeans-American Eagle
Necklace-Sequins (Neiman Marcus)
Sunglasses-H&M (recent)

One of the challenges a blogger faces is dealing with weather. This outfit post was definitely not planned to be shot in the rain but as soon as I was having these pics taken, it started to drizzle! My initial instinct was to run indoors but I knew my friend and I were on a time crunch so I told him to just get camera happy and snap quickly and we'll just make do with what we get. After looking at the photos on the computer, we were both very pleased on how it turned out--kinda cool, huh? 

I love tweed and have mentioned before in my past outfit posts that a timeless piece such as a tweed jacket should be in every woman's closet. I recently purchased this lightweight tweed jacket in store from Ann Taylor (still on sale online but cheaper in-store) and was attracted to the bright coral color and the material. The material is not very thick, which means it's meant to be worn during spring/summer and the cropped cut of the jacket is perfect to be worn over a summer sheath dress if you want to cover your arms or can be worn casually with jeans, as shown today. Tweed jackets are versatile enough to elevate a simple tee and jeans outfit into something a bit more chic.

Readers, how do you wear tweed during the summer?

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Swing of Things

Photos courtesy of Sung Shin

Shoes-Pour La Victoire
Bracelets-David Yurman, Neiman Marcus
Sunglasses-Stella McCartney 

Hi everyone. First things first, I just wanted to say thank you for being patient with me and thank you to the those who reached out to me via phone/email for the well wishes. I truly appreciate your thoughts and concerns even though I haven't even met some of you in person. I'd rather not get too much into detail because it's a private family matter but I experienced the loss of a loved one and the shock and sadness took its toll on me last week. I'm still not 100% myself but slowly am getting there.

I wanted to inject some color back into my outfits this week and absolutely love the color pairing of pink and navy together. I couldn't resist picking up this skirt when I bought this skirt worn HERE because I'm a sucker for adding more stripes and another color for different color pairings;)

I'll get back to the swing of things with my regular weekend snapshots starting next week. Wishing you guys a great week. xo