Friday, February 26, 2010

I Want to Wash my Hands, my Face and Hair with Snow

It's nearly March. The tree right at the front of our yard is starting to bloom lovely deep pink blossoms. Wait wait -- WHERE WENT THE SNOW?!
This is my first year living in Oregon, and I was so excited to see snow! Last Christmas when I visited, it snowed and I was incredibly giddy romping and twirling and catching snowflakes on my tongue and eyelashes! They said December was a fluke, and usually the snow doesn't come until February. However, this year.. the snow has seemed to completely skip Oregon altogether!
It snowed in Texas! It snowed in California! Weather, how could you let me down?!
The blossoms on the tree outside are my sign that the battle is over; Spring was won. I've been holding out hope all up until I saw the blossoms yesterday.
Well, I'll have to hold out until next year and until then I'll be dreaming of snow! These are all photos I took December 2008 in my backyard!!

"Where it's snowing all winter through, that's where I want to be. Snowball throwing, that's what I'll do. How I'm longing to ski through the snow-oh-oh-oh-oh!" - White Christmas

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

If You Doubt it, Take a Bite!

Yummy Yummy, in my Tummy!!

Easiest / Quickest / HEALTHY / Delicious recipe ever! 
It's Weight Watchers, but you'd never guess.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Muffins
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1- 15 oz. can of plain pumpkin
1- 10 oz. bag of cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
Combine dry cake mix with applesauce and pumpkin, mix well. 
Add Cinnamon Chips and mix together. 
Pour into muffin tips 1/2 full, bake for 25 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen.

(Note: It's hard to find Hershey's Cinnamon Chips, but you'd find them in the baking section with the chocolate chips if your grocery store has them)

So, my family was making Cornish Game Hens for dinner, but spicy Chipotle style ewww... So I wanted to make my bit with an apple glaze. Unfortunately, I didn't have any of the ingredients, so I completely improvised a marinade from things I found in the cupboard and fridge. 

I used a Shiraz Plum Chutney that I got at a winery in South Australia as the base. I diluted it with some White Cranberry Peach juice. I chopped in some garlic, squeezed in a little agave nectar (to sweeten it up because the chutney was very balsamic vinegary). Then I sprinkled in saltfresh thyme from the garden, and (oddly) pumpkin pie spice
I know it sounds so random and weird, but my aim was for a sweet but balanced glaze. After barbecuing it turned out quite tasty!! Mmm......I like me some Cornish Game Hen!

Oh, and my boyfriend came home earlier this week with flowers for me!! I was so surprised and happy! I've gotten flowers from boys only a few times in my life, and the last time was 3 years ago. This is my first bouquet from David, and the first time I've ever gotten the cliche dozen red roses! I don't care if it's cliche, they are beautiful. It also came with a bunch of pretty greens which was fun for me to arrange. And it was wrapped in the prettiest cellophane: Lavender Lace!! Go figure! I saved it to use as an overlay on white scrapbooking paper!
sorry for the bad quality flower photos

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Come Rain or Come Shine

I always... want Chinese food / jump on leaf piles / let my dog lay on my lap
I sometimes... meow like a cat / lock my keys in my car / invest excuses
I never... wear pants / swear / make my bed. 
Inspired by "The Madness of Mundanity" hosting a giveaway!

I also was tagged by Trishie at Under Lock & Key in a fun photo tagging game! The rules of the game are:

1. Create a new post:
2. Open your 1st photo folder
3. Scroll to the 10th photo
4. Post the photo and the story behind it
5. Tag 5 or more people!

Haha, this is me on my FIRST day in Sydney, or even Australia at all. I had met my (now) Aussie boyfriend while on vacation in the UK, and on a spontaneous whim decided to fly to Australia to see him for a month! This was my one-day stop-over in Sydney.

I got there and it was *literally* THE coldest weather they'd had on that day (October 22nd, 2008) in 16 years-- record breaking! It was cold and raining like crazy! 

I'm lucky that I even had this long-sleeved thin sweater because I don't even wear warm clothes much. And, SILLY ME, I didn't think to bring an umbrella or jacket or boots to an Australian Summer!

Anyway, I was exploring the city on my own, and this is at the Botanical Garden/Parliament House, where it started pouring HARD. I ended up drenched. It was fun though :D

Okay! I don't have many followers, but I'll tag some of the reads I enjoy!:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Under the Sea

I've found a refreshing and interesting blog called If You Never Did, You Should, which posts photos and ideas for activities and travel destinations that the author thinks everyone should try if they haven't! She is hosting a special giveaway, asking readers to post pictures and a story of something that you think people should do, if they never have.

If you never did, you should SCUBA DIVE!
My first experience was a one-time resort dive in the Bahamas, and it was beautiful! Then, my wonderful friend Correy, who passed away this year, got me into it again my freshman year of college.
I got certified in 2006 in Monterey, California (right near where I live). Monterey is COLD water diving, I have to wear a 5mm wetsuit, thick gloves, and a full hood. It is usually kind of murky and cloudy under there, but with a flashlight the colors just pop! And when you're surrounded by a kelp bed and look up to see the sun shining's gorgeous! The deepest I've done there is 83ft.
My favorite experience in Monterey was at a spot called Lovers Point, with my two best guy friends. I felt my fin get pulled (I thought it was stuck in kelp), and I turned around to see a Harbor Seal nibbling on it!! I was surprised but he was soo sweet. He literally followed me around for the last 20 minutes of my dive, with his cute fins wrapped around mine. I brought him over to my guy friends and they were amazed. The seal wasn't interested in them, but we basically danced around each other, and at one point he was on the surface and swam down to me and touched his face to my mask like a kiss. Absolutely precious. We surfaced and waded back to shore and he followed me most of the way. UNbelievable.
not my photo, but this is what he looked like
In addition to the Bahamas, and Monterey, I went on a few scuba dives when I was in Kauai, Hawaii in 2007. Those were absolutely beautiful. The water was ridiculously clear and bright blue, and the waters contained the most bright and interesting fish (including a tiny black and white polka dot one, my favorite that I chased for minutes!). I got to hold a baby octopus (it inked on me!), got close to a baby shark, and saw a pack of barracudas. The best part was navigating through these amazing caverns, with giant sea turtles swimming so close you can touch them.

In October 2009 I came to visit my now-boyfriend's homeland, Australia! I spent some time in Cairns, Queensland first, where I went on a 3day2night live-aboard scuba trip. We did 11 dives total, 3 at night. I didn't see any turtles or clown fish like they said, but I did see some sharks at night time! and other amazing creatures like Lionfish, the eeeevil scary Triggerfish, Giant Clams, etc.

Here are some of the photos I captured under the sea, in the Great Barrier Reef.
Giant Clam!!! i love these!
Umm... POLKA DOT FISH whaaa!
I love how the coral forms heart shapes!
Another gorgeous luminescent giant clam. These are fun to play with, but don't stick your finger in the hole or it'll suck it right up!
Parrotfish abound in the reef
Suddenly we were literally surrounded by dozens and dozens of Parrotfish, closed in around us! It was gorgeous and left me in awe

"Under the sea, Under the sea... Darling it's better down where it's wetter, take it from me!"

So if you never have, you should scuba dive!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Heart Belongs to Daddy

Yesterday was my Dad's 52nd birthday, and I made him the best heartfelt gift a girl can give to her daddy. A picture frame collage of pictures of just he & I from when I was a baby and toddler. I had so much fun looking through pictures, most of these I'd never even seen before!

I love photographs -- when I have a child, every single step will be documented! I can't believe that I have grown up from that, and looking at the photos really made me think about my dad's position. I can't imagine what it would be like to have a baby and then suddenly see her grown-up, seeing the transformation. It is weird for me to think about the fact that he was a baby too and my grandparents saw him get to his life now, and one day I'll have a baby...and I can't imagine them growing up! The circle of life is just crazy.

Anyway, seeing how cute he was with me made me realize: Wow, Dad has really been there through everything and he really knows me, as only your parents can, from the beginning to now. and he was such a cute daddy :)

Easter outfits
My dad had a Conan O'Brien coif!
This one below is my favorite picture of us.
I'd never seen this one until last week, and I love the way I'm looking up at him all happy, like "That's my daddy!"
P.S. notice how many times I had a bow/clip in my hair? Everytime that I didn't have an Easter bonnet on. WOW, nothing's changed!! haha.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You're My Funny Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day! Me & my Aussie boy had a relaxed day spent with him watching sports and me in the kitchen! hah. We did go to dinner at a yummy burger joint, and meant to watch a horror movie and drink wine but we were too tired when we got home!

David tried to order me roses (aww) but they wouldn't deliver to our place in the boonies! I didn't mind though, all I wanted was a letter or homemade card. He did write me a sweet letter that made me teary eyed... and even drew a dozen roses on the back!! Too cute. Couldn't be happier :)

For David I made probably my favorite Valentine I've ever made. I love hand-making cards; this cost me $0.20 for the paper and $0.70 for the wooden heart, and I already had the other supplies. Less than $1 for a lovely Valentine that is made with LOVE and is unique! and David thought the "True Love" heart was "BADASS" haha!
I also got David a bunch of little foil-wrapped chocolate hearts in different flavors. The purple with pink heart dots wrapper is my favorite! I'd totally want that as a skirt!!
Determined to make a yummy dessert, but equally determined to stay on my diet, I made a low-fat Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Let me tell you one thing: there is NO SUCH THING as low-fat Cream Cheese Frosting! The recipe said to use low-fat cream cheese, vanilla yogurt, and cottage cheese. I left out the cottage cheese, and LORDY was it bland and not sweet! I decided not to sacrifice taste, so I sifted in a bunch of powdered sugar to make it palatable, and sprinkled sweetened coconut on top. The cake itself is also sort of bland and not sweet enough. Boo.
I recommend sticking with full-fat / full-deliciousness Red Velvet cake.. but here is the recipe (with my alterations) if anyone is interested in anyway. Actually, I just had a piece and with a good amount of cream cheese frosting, it's pretty nummy!!

Low-Fat Red Velvet Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting
2 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbsp coca powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
[Combine in medium bowl]

1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
Red food coloring
[In large bowl, beat the first three ingredients. Then add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Then pour in buttermilk and enough red food coloring to make the batter a lovely red.]

1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
[Stir together in a tiny bowl, let it fizz, then fold into the batter.]

Pour in a bundt pan and cook at 350 degrees F (175 C) for 30-40 minutes.
Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.
8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
6 oz. light vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted (up to 1 cup, to taste)
[Beat till creamy and blended. It was a bit thin]

I drizzled this on, but I had leftover, and a thicker coat of frosting would be better. I also sprinkled shredded sweetened coconut on top.
Enter your Valentine's Day recipe for the giveaway at Fun&Food Cafe

"You're my funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine, you make me smile with my heart.."