Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spring Planting: Basil Seeds

Part I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and VII

Last time I updated, I talked about basil flowers blooming. Remember? Around October when the weather started to get cooler, we decided that the season was over. We stopped watering the plants, and eventually they dried up.

This past weekend, we (read: Luke) finally sat down and picked the seeds from the flowers. It was a painstakingly process - crushing each flower buds individually to retrieve 3 or 4 seeds inside. I helped him (read: kept him company) while watching Kill Bill Vol 1 -- movie is awesome, btw.

I suspect we got at least 50-60 seeds. A package of basils seeds is only, like, 97 cents at Walmart. However the seeds we have are priceless. :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gone Gocco Gone

Times are tough. To help pay the bills, I sold my Print Gocco.

Okay, not really. About the bills, that is.

I was a DIY bride all the way. After the wedding, I started developing withdrawal symptoms where I wanted to create something. My hands were restless, trembling, and I felt the sweat pouring. And around the same time, I was introduced to the wonderful world of Weddingbee and learned about this magical machine called Print Gocco. So I bought the freakin' machine, despite the astronomical cost of the unit itself and supplies. And despite that I didn't have any projects to work on.

I used the machine a total of four times.

The thing about Print Gocco is that it's for mass production. Every time you "flash" a design, it's best to print 100+ prints to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't need 100+ prints of thank you cards, hello cards, or personalized note cards. Plainly put, I didn't have projects that require mass production.

And honestly, I just wasn't that into it anymore. It had been sitting in storage, collecting dust.

But perhaps the biggest reason of all was this:

"U. S. Gocco dealers received a communication on July 1, 2008, from the President & Chief Operating Officer of Riso stating that "the manufacturer will be discontinuing ALL Print Gocco products, including supplies. The letter continues, "the Print Gocco production technology will thereafter be unavailable and there will be no manufacturer of Print Gocco products. Finally, no more supplies will be filled (for U.S. vendors) after December 31, 2008." Stay tuned. Get supplies while still available and affordable."

Eventually, Print Gocco will become obsolete when supplies are no longer available.

So I decided to sell it while it's still highly in demand. I listed on Craigslist and posted a link to it on Weddingbee. A bride-to-be in So Cal snatched it up on the same day.

Whew! I felt a sense of freedom.

I am glad I had the experience of playing with Print Gocco. I had fun making the new year cards (I will find a new way to continue that tradition next year). And I also have a set of my own note cards.

But ultimately, this machine is too expensive for just "playing".

Goodbye Gocco! Hope you are put to better use by your new owner!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Yesterday morning the hubs showed me a free t-shirt he received from school. He showed me the front first and I thought to myself, "Not bad. Simple and tasteful. Finally you are getting something back from all the tuition."

Then he showed me the back.

And it confirmed for me that Maryland is the dumbest school out there. No offense hubs.

Please hurry up and finish.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Korean BBQ With Friends

I went out with some of my girlfriends from college for a Korean BBQ lunch.

When we first graduated from college, we hung out all the time. Nowadays we are all too busy, so get-togethers are few and far between. Whenever we do though, it's always nice to catch up.

We gossiped about the men in our lives, trips we have taken, and our plans for the upcoming holidays.

In between all of the chatting, we ate and ate and ate.

Good lord, I think I ate way too much. I felt so sick. I ate too much meat.

There was a raw meat buffet and the servers cooked the meats at your own table. I had slices of assorted meat, kimchi, cold noodles, spicy miso tofu soup, and a bunch of other Korean dishes that I can't name.

It was nice to try a different cuisine, although I have to say that I am not a fan of Korean food.

We went to Heebeen Restaurant in Alexandria, VA. The interior was traditional and stylish. They even had private rooms for bigger parties. The wait staff were excellent and helpful. Nothing to complain about!

Anyway, I think I’m going to eat only plain lettuce for the next few days. I doubt I will be successful with Thanksgiving in 4 days, though. Oh well.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Visit to Hillwood

Almost two weeks ago, before the cupcakes, my mom and I visited Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens near Rock Creek Park in DC.

Hillwood is the former home and garden of Marjorie Merriweather Post, daughter of the man who founded the Post Cereal Company. After her father died, she became a multimillionaire and had all the money in the world to build and design a pretty place to 1) live and 2) house her collection of art and objects. She was a very avid collector!

There are two parts to Hillwood - the mansion and the gardens. No photography is allowed inside the mansion so all my pictures are of the gardens.

Each garden room has a distinct character and yet fit into the estate as a whole. The French Parterre is the formal garden - designed to transport the visitor to a small formal garden of the 18th century. The garden is divided into four quadrant using gravel footpaths, channels moving water, and a central pool.

Because Post had everything, for her birthday, her friends involved her gardener and landscape architect and built the Friendship Walk as a present! The walkway is lined with low plantings.

In the Rose Garden is a nice place to sit, relax, and...well, smell the roses!

The Japanese-Style Garden is my favorite! It's small, but well-designed with sculptures, lanterns, cascading water, and a bridge. I enjoyed walking here and taking in the ambiance.

I like it so much that I can't choose between the above two photos so I am posting both.

The Dacha, tucked into the wooded area, is an interpretation of a small peasant house. The architecture features many elements typical of authentic Russian peasant dwellings, such as log construction and the carvings around the windows and door. Inside the Dacha is Hillwood's changing exhibitions. The Russian Porcelain exhibit was on display when we went.

The tour of the gardens took under and hour and was probably less than a half-mile walk. Very tiny!

Then we went inside the mansion and were forced to check in our cameras at the entrance. They even took our coats, too. The mansion was more like a museum. It houses Post's extensive decorative arts and objects collection, lots of porcelains, paintings, intricate furniture, and more. Yawn. I liked the gardens part better.

Hillwood isn't a must-see in DC, but my mom wanted to go so I accompanied her. I learned something new and we spent some time together. Definitely better than a day in the office. :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Honey Walnut Shrimps (核桃虾)

The first time (that I can remember) I had Honey Walnut Shrimps was at a friend's birthday dinner. We sat with 10 other people, but I was probably responsible for eating half of that dish. It was so good. I like shrimps okay and usually not a fan of sweet dishes, but somehow, I was hooked by this one.

I never thought I could make it at home. I mean, it was so good and looked complicated. But then, I saw the recipe on Rasa Malaysia and Nook & Pantry. I saw the everyday ingredients that are used to make the dish and knew I had to try.

I combined the two recipes and concocted my own version. It was a success! It tasted just like I remembered from the restaurant! I really liked the semi-crispy shrimps covered in creamy honey sauce!

The recipe is easy to execute, but it does take a little bit of preparation (I asked my sous chef to help with peeling and deveing - thanks hubs!) and good planning. The result, though, is so worth it. This is definitely one of my favorite recipes.

Honey Walnut Shrimps:

- 1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 tbsp rice cooking wine
- 1 egg white
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- cooking oil for frying

- 1/4 cup miracle whip
- 3 tsp honey
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt

Glazed Walnuts:
- 1/3 cup walnut halves
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water

1. Heat up water until it boils and add in sugar. Boil for 2 minutes. Add walnuts. Keep stirring until it turns thick and golden color. Boil for 1 minute. Drain and place walnuts on a cookie sheet to dry.
2. Beat the egg white until lightly foam. Toss the shrimp with rice wine, white pepper, beaten egg white and salt. Let marinate in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes.
3. For the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together and set aside.
4. Coat the shrimps with a thick layer of corn starch and then fry in hot oil until golden brown. Remove the shrimps from the pot and drain on paper towels. I didn’t deep fry the shrimp, I just pan fried them.
5. Fold the sauce with the shrimps.
6. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish the candied walnuts on top of the shrimp and serve immediately.

*For more pictures on Honey Walnut Shrimps, click here. My dish looks comparable!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dan Dan Noodles (擔擔麵)

I have been finding new and interesting recipes lately! There are so many delicious food blogs out there and I find each of them eye opening.

I first came across this Dan Dan Noodles recipe on Closet Cooking and after further research, I found a very similar version on Appetite for China. Some versions I found don't require peanut butter and, instead, call for oyster sauce. For the majority, however, peanut butter seemed to be one of the key ingredients so I decided to go with that.

MmmmM good! I liked the hot+spicy peanut sauce and the Sichuan peppercorns gave it an extra numbing sensation! The hubs enjoyed it too, which made me happy. A perfect meal on cold winter days!

And, the next day when I heated up the leftover at work, people in the kitchen said something along the lines of, "wow, that smells awesome!" and "when are you going to cook that for us?". That brought a huge smile to my face! I shared the recipe with them. :)

Dan Dan Noodles:

(serves 2 people + 1 lunch)

- 8 oz ground pork
- 1 tbp soy sauce
- 1 tsp corn starch

- 4 tbsp onion, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chili oil
- 2 tbsp chili sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Sichuan peppercorn to taste (toasted and ground)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 pound noodles (any kind that you like)
- 1 handful peanuts (chopped, optional)
- 1 green onion (chopped, optional)

1. Combine pork, soy sauce, and corn starch in a small bowl and mix well.
2. Heat a large skillet until hot. Add cooking oil and stir-fry the pork, stirring with a spatula to break it into small pieces. When the pork is lightly browned and cooked, remove and set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the noodles. While the water is heating, go to the next step.
4. Reheat the skillet, add cooking oil, and stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and onions until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, Sichuan peppercorn, and chicken stock and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Add pork into the sauce. Turn the heat down to low.
5. Meanwhile, when the pot of water has come to boil, toss in noodles and cook until al dente or slightly chewy. Drain the noodles well. Plate the noodles.
6. Ladle the sauce on top and garnish with green onions and peanuts. Serve while hot.

*For more photos on Dan Dan Noodles, click here. There seems to be two different ways to serve it - with broth or without. All the recipes I found were the without.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

T Minus 34 Days

This picture from Oh Happy Day is so awesome.

To my best travel buddy (aka hubs): Please take note - I want a picture just like this when I jump off the cliffs in 34 days!! And I will take one of you, too.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Updates

I've been fiddling with my template again, peeps. I redesigned it in hopes of creating a more grownup web presence. Not to be mistaken for more grownup content, though.

For starter, I shocked myself the other night when I managed to pull off that navigation bar at the top. Impressive? I think so! Follow instructions from here, here, and here.

Then I changed my blog header using one of my favorite pictures of hubs and me, taken in Puerto Rico. It was a purely spontaneous moment that I leaned over to kiss him just as the camera clicked. Unfortunately, the original photo was under-exposed. I used Photoshop to make it more artistic-looking. I imagine I will get bored with the header in a few months so don't be surprised if you see it changing a couple of times a year.

Lastly, notice the little footer at the bottom of the page? Just something extra.

Do you like the font? It's Disney Simple. Gotta dust some magic 'round here whenever I can!

That's all for now. How do you like my new design? The hubs already raised his voice, but now I like to hear yours!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Said Hello

Read about my first DC Cuppy Cake experience.

Last Tuesday, Veteran's Day, my mom and I found ourselves driving past Dupont Circle and making an unplanned stop at Hello Cupcake. I wanted to visit Hello Cupcake since it opened in late Aug 08. So glad I was able to check that off my list!

With charming little touches like indoor and outdoor seating, pink packaging, a flashy pink chandelier, and perfectly crafted cupcakes, Hello Cupcake is all about details. According to a recent series of articles by The Washington Post called Cupcake Wars, Hello Cupcake comes in second to Georgetown Cupcake. Having been to Georgetown Cupcakes before, I must say that as far as cupcakes, I love them both equally – I adore light, airy, pretty, not-too-sweet cupcakes.

Hello Cupcake, however, offers the customers a place to sit and enjoy their cupcakes whereas Georgetown Cupcake is a to-go place, as I mentioned it before. Having that space for the customers is a huge plus in my book. I even saw at guy with his computer at Hello Cupcake so I assume WiFi is available, too.

We ordered two cupcakes to share. Princess – a vanilla cake with pink strawberry buttercream frosting and a sprinkling of pink sugar and You Tart! - a lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting and yellow sugar on top.

We sat on the stools by the window and enjoyed our cupcakes.

Both cupcakes were delish!

The cake bits were moist, light, and tasty. But what really blew me away was the intensely flavorful and rich-without-making-you-feel-ill frosting. The frosting didn’t overpower, which was unexpected, because the cupcakes came topped with a mound of frosting. Wowee. I thoroughly enjoyed them.

The cupcake is $3 each, tax already included. Yes, unbelievably expensive. Which is why treats such as these will come far and few in between. :) So DCers, if you like cupcakes and haven't done so, I highly recommend a trip to Hello Cupcake!

Hello Cupcake
1351 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁)

A few weeks ago, I bought several packs (family-size) of chicken breasts during a sale at my local market. Since then, I have been searching for new recipes to cook chicken.

Kung Pao Chicken is a very popular dish at Chinese-American restaurants, but Luke and I never order it. Because of that, we don't really know what the dish should taste like.

All I know is that in the Kung Pao I cooked, the chicken meat was tender+ juicy and the spicy sauce was pretty tasty over white rice! It was a nice change from my usual chicken dishes.

Some versions of Kung Pao chicken use vegetables such as zucchini or red bell peppers. This recipe doesn’t call for those but you can add them if you wish.

Kung Pao Chicken:

- 1 large boneless & skinless chicken breast
- 3 tbsp roasted peanuts
- 8-12 dried red chilies (cut into halves)
- 5 slices peeled fresh ginger
- 2 gloves garlic (sliced diagonally)
- 1 stalk scallion (chopped)

- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 1 tsp oil

- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp corn starch

1. Cut the chicken meat into small cubes and marinate with the ingredients above for 30 minutes.
2. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Heat up a pan with cooking oil and stir-fry the marinated chicken until they are 70% cook. Dish out and set aside.
4. Clean the pan and add in cooking oil until it smokes.
5. Add in the ginger and garlic slices and do a quick stir before adding in the dried red chilies.
6. Stir fry the dried red chilies until aromatic and they smell spicy, then add in the chicken meat.
7. Do a quick stir before adding in the roasted peanuts and continue to stir a few times.
8. Add in the sauce and stir continuously until the chicken meat is nicely coated with the sauce.
9. Add in the scallions and stir evenly.
10. Dish out and serve hot with steamed white rice.

{recipe source - with a little modification by me}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Banana Nut Muffins

The hubs came home from Vegas with a badly beaten-up banana in his bag. He said to feed it to Pargo, but I turned it into five banana nut muffins instead.

The last time we had banana bread/muffin was in Maui. The last time I made them was probably in 8th grade in my Teen Living class. I had fun making these today! Because I only had one banana, I cut the recipe in third. I was proud of my knowledge in dividing fractions.

The muffins turned out perfect! We ate them all right out of the oven (after the photo shoot of course). They warmed our tummies. I thought they were a bit too sweet so I will use less sugar next time.

I doubt anyone will make five muffins so instead of giving you the measurements I used, here is the full recipe from Simply Recipes. The only ingredient I took out was the espresso.

Banana Nut Muffin:

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp espresso or strong coffee (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw)

No need for a mixer with this recipe.

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.
2 Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla.
3 Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
4 Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
5 Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done. Cool on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

{recipe source}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Tips On Taking Good Photos

I am a tad obsessed with taking photos. I want to take good photos and I am sure you do, too. I am an amateur, but with some trial and error, I have some tips of wisdom to share! They are basic, but essential.

1. Move in close. Get in close to the object and fill the picture with the object. This technique creates more dramatic photos. Use the camera’s macro or “flower” mode.

2. Lighting. Most people frown on using flash. For the most part, I agree. However, there are few exceptions. We all know flash is useful on cloudy days when it can to throw some light onto the subject. But did you know that direct sunlight can cause harsh shadows on the face and this causes unflattering photos? In such cases, use flash to even out the harsh light on the subject, which would also result in better clarity of the picture.

3. Composition. Try different angles. Your main subject doesn’t always have to be in the center. Bring your pictures to life by placing your subject off-center. This will provide the pictures with more perspective and depth.

4. Get down on their level. This is especially true when photographing pets or kids. Hold the camera at the subject’s eye level to create a personal and inviting feeling.

5. Design your photo and tell a story. Before you take the snap, try rearranging some objects, change the background, add props, or change the position to change the shadow and light. For example, instead of taking a picture your kid's new bike, take a picture of your kid riding the new bike!

I hope this post is helpful!

Do you have any tips? Lets share ‘em!

(Previously published on Dry As Toast)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mamma Mia (Here I Go Again! My My!)

Mamma Mia was lighthearted, funny, and and a bit crazy. I watched it twice within 24 hours.

Prior to watching the movie, I only had a faintest idea on the story. So really, I didn't know what to expect at all. In fact, I wasn't even familiar with ABBA or their songs.

As soon as the first song, "Honey Honey", started, I was loving it! And not just with the music, but also the sparkling blue water and the rocky cliffs. The scenery was just beautifully amazing! The story was fun and had laughs for all ages. The dancing scenes were great and well put together.

The movie was filmed on the islands of Greece, which made me want to go more than ever.

I was also really surprised with Meryl Streep's awesome performance. The last time I saw her was in Devil Wears Prada, in which she played a very serious business woman who never smiled. It was fun seeing her climb on top a roof singing "Mamma Mia!" and swoon and the dance teenage giddy girl dance! :)

I am hooked on all the songs. For the past few days, I have been jamming to the tunes in my car. I sing along and my head instinctively bops up and down. It makes my drive to and from work much more enjoyable.

I have never seen the musical live, but now really want to! For those who have seen both, are they very similar?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ants Climbing A Tree (螞蟻上樹)

One of my all-time favorite Sichuan dishes!

Don't be scared by the name - no real ants are actually involved. :) It's basically bean thread noodles with pork, bursting with spicy flavors. Prepare all your ingredients beforehand and once you fire up the stove, it is super easy and fast to make.

Ants Climbing A Tree:

- 1/2 cup ground pork

- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp corn starch

- 4 single serving bundles bean thread noodles
- 3 stalks green onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp crushed dry red peppers (more if you like)
- 1 tsp of white sugar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp chili bean paste
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2/3 cup water
- Salt to taste

1. Soak noodles in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Marinate the ground pork in soy sauce, wine, grated ginger, and corn starch for about 15 minutes. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in pan over high heat. Add garlic, crushed dry red peppers, and green onions (save some aside for garnish). Mix well. Add ground pork and cook until it is done.
4. Add sugar, sesame oil, chili bean paste, soy sauce, water, and salt. Cook until you have a uniform, soupy mixture and then add the drained noodles.
5. Mix everything together until noodles absorb the water.
6. Plate and garnish with reserved green onions.
7. Serves 2 hungry people. Eat with rice or by itself!

{recipe source - but I modified it a bit}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This Week

The hubs is away this week in Vegas for a conference. He took this picture using his camera phone and sent it to me (using his phone as well) via email. I am stuck in 2003 when it comes to technology so I find it pretty neat. This is the view from his hotel room in Paris.

Luke left around 3pm on Sunday and I spent that night on my own. Too many horror movies and coupled with my silly imagination, I scared the bejeezus out of myself at night, laying wide awake for an hour in the dark. I heard strange noises, I swear!

So this week, Pargo and I are having a slumber party at my parents'. I am actually blogging using my mom's computer right now!

Hurry back, babes! And muchas gracias for the lovely (after editing) photo! ;)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 10, 2008

How To Add A Border In Blogger

Although I tend to like simple and minimal designs, I always thought my blog was too simple, too plain, and too much white space.

Well, I must say I am really digging the subtle elements I just added. These two elements give my blog the much-needed oomph. I couldn't be more pleased. And best of all, I did it all by myself. So that means you can do it yourself, too!

I am by no means an expert. I followed the instructions from here, but tweaked a little to make it my own. I do believe that this small tutorial will only work if you already have a 3-column template.

First, I added a dotted border around the outside wrapper (NOT the entire blog) by inserting this code (in red) under #outer-wrapper {.

#outer-wrapper {
border: 3px dotted #38ACEC;

This will give you a thin dotted blue border and a white background inside the border. To pick your own colors, refer to the Color Code Chart.

Then, insert this code (in red) under body {.

body {

I made mine orange. This adds a background color to the outside of the border. I like it because it draws your eyes to the blog's main content, but it is also visually pleasing to have that extra splash of color.

(Alternatively, for the second step, you can go to Layout>Fonts and Colors and change Page Background Color to a different color to achieve the same result. The only negative about this option is that your color choices are limited.)

Easy, right? But it took me a good hour to figure it all out. Hopefully it won't take you nearly as long! :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dumbarton Oaks In Polaroids

We all know about Georgetown's famous M Street - the funky and upscale shops, the swanky bars and restaurants. But did you know that a couple of blocks away is garden that is beautifully landscaped and carefully maintained? No? Well, neither did I...until yesterday when my mom showed me.

Dumbarton Oaks Garden
is very picturesque. The fact that there is no admission charge from Nov-Mar is just icing on the cake. Now is the good time to go, before it gets too cold and before all the fall colors disappear.

The history of Dumbarton Oaks goes like this. The property was bought by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss in 1920. After buying the property, the Blisses changed it significantly, renovating and expanding. They worked with Beatrix Farrand, a landscape designer, to transform the land surrounding the house into terraced gardens and vistas. Because they had no children, the couple gave Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University in 1940.

The garden is quite large - 10 acres - you could easily spend half a day here. There are benches for relaxing and a museum. I love all the mature trees. The garden is also very hilly so there are many steps. Even it is no longer spring or summer, there are still many colorful flowers in bloom. Oh, and there are a number of fountains and sculptures.

I really like this picture I took of the little girls playing at Lovers' Lane Pool!

My mom said that this view is like a painting. I agree.

Silly old me at one of the many terraces.

It was another beautiful day - we have been having such good luck with weather lately. I know cold days are ahead of us, so it's nice to grab onto the nice fall weather for as long as we can. I couldn't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than walking around a pretty garden.

Now, onto the Polaroids and how I did it!

I post about turning photos into Polaroids before using Photoshop, but this is an easier (and better!) way to do it. Sorry, Mac users only.

1. Download the free POLADROID application and launch it
2. Drag & Drop your photos
3. Wait... wait.... wait again... or shake the picture. See your photos turn *extra* extraordinary!

How cool is this? How incredibly cool? I had an "I love you Internet moment" when I first discovered it!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Old Navy Is Cute And Cheap, Part II

This dress, from Old Navy, is $.0.92, including tax. Yes, you read it right. Ninety-two cents!


I just love the dress! It fits me like a glove. It’s so simple and feminine. Slinky and stretchy in all the right places. I can see myself wearing it to the office with nice earrings + necklace or to a party with funky accessories. The flatter knit material gives it a great shape and feel.

Although the dress looks black in the picture, it's actually maroon. And I must say it looks better in real life, when the person is moving, walking around.

It was the last dress on the rack and just in my size. :) It was kismet, I tell ya.

I also bought another dress, for the same price. This one is more fun and flirty. The girly pinky color really isn't my cup of tea, but for ninety-two cents, I wasn't about to walk away from it. I like the cross-pleat bodice and I figure I can wear it casually on vacations with a pair of sandals even though the material is organza.

So there you have it, the most fabulous deal of the century! Each ON store is different, hopefully you will find a ridiculously good bargain too!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Disney Recipes!

"Slimy....yet satisfying!" -- Simba

Disney Recipes Linky

I have big hopes in making few of my (and Luke's) favorite foods from Disney in the upcoming months. Hmm...what's first? PB&J Milkshake from 50's Prime Time or William Penn Pasta from Liberty Tree Tavern? I will definitely post all my "magical" culinary adventures here! I am tickled with excitement. Can't wait to start cookin'.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cooking Disney: Honey Sesame Chicken

The hubs and I are huge fans of the Nine Dragons Restaurants in Epcot. We always eat there at least once during our trips to Disney (except for this past trip when the restaurant was under renovation). The place has a reputation of average food and sky-high prices, but we love it nonetheless. =p

Our favorite dishes from the restaurants are honey sesame chicken and Ma Po Tofu. Although apparently, according to their latest menu, Ma Po Tofu is no longer being served. Not to worry, I've already mastered the art of that dish. Now, just in case they decide to take away honey sesame chicken, I found the exact recipe that the restaurant uses for this lip-smacking-good dish! I changed up a few things based to my likes and dislikes and what was available in my pantry.

Two words - restaurant quality! Juicy and tender meat. Sweet and savory sauce. You must try it! The hubs and I give it two thumbs up! Way up!

Honey Sesame Chicken:
(serves 2)

- 5 to 6 ounces chicken breast, slightly pounded and cut into cubes

- 1 tsp chicken base (not bouillon; base is a paste-like mixture available in gourmet or larger supermarkets)*
- Dash of white pepper
- Salt to taste
- Sugar to taste
- 1/2 tsp cooking wine
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil

- Toasted white sesame seeds
- Chopped green onions

- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 heaping tsp baking powder
- A beaten egg
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup water
- Pinch of salt

Honey Sauce:
- 3 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp water

1. Combine marinade ingredients and let cubed chicken soak in liquid for 30 minutes.
2. Combine batter ingredients. Set aside.
3. Combine honey sauce ingredients. Set aside.
4. Heat cooking oil for frying. Using tongs, dip marinated chicken into batter and deep fry. Cook thoroughly.
5. Heat honey sauce in a large wok. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat.
6. Plate chicken and sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds.
7. Take a picture of your work, enjoy, and pretend you are at Epcot!

* I didn't have this so I skipped it.

A picture from 2006 when we dined at Nine Dragons. My honey sesame chicken looks darker because I added a bit of soy sauce. I don't like when the color is too orange-y. :)

{recipe source - but again, I made slight changes}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Man

by Guest
From The Onion:

WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation's broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, "It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can't catch a break."

I'm sure most of you have already come across that little news brief already, but I find it to be a very accurate summary of what took place yesterday. While all we can do is sit and wait to see how things turn out, I for one, am still working my way out of this place. Granted, my anger won't be directed to the folks downtown anymore (at least not as much anyways), it's too little too late.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Yet Another Fall Trip

Last weekend my parents and I took little jaunt to Shenandoah National Park. I think we caught the peak foliage because the colors were so brilliant! I got snappy happy and took a bunch of photos - of anything. Although now looking through my pictures, I really didn't get many nice shots. Oh well. We had lunch and even walked a short trail, something I had never done before. Good times overall!

Since I don't have many nice photos to show and tell - I will just do a narrative of our trip!

We entered from the Front Royal entrance and drove about a quarter of Skyline Drive before we existed at Thornton Gap. Skyline Drive is a 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the SHP in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As you can see, the scenic drive is particular beautiful in the fall when the leaves are changing colors! Luckily with the speed limit of 35mph on SD, it was slow enough for me to look around while driving. So gorgeous!

There are more than 70 scenic overlooks along the SD. We stopped by a few. The view all looked more or less the same, though.

I took Pargo with me. Car rides, even long ones, don't bother Pargo so I can take him anywhere. The only problem is that he gets tired easily. The Snead Farm Trail was merely 1.4 miles RT, but my parents and I took turns carrying him. :) But we did it!

The highlight of the trail (besides a gazillion of bugs) was this barn at the end. I went further to the top of a hill to take this picture.

We then had at lunch at one of the picnic areas. Even Pargo had a little somethin' somethin' to eat. We were surrounded by beautiful tall trees.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the day. Not only I like the bright green/yellow color, but also how the shot was captured.

Oh, and we also walked a little piece of Appalachian Trail. The AT stretches more than 2,100 miles and passes through fourteen states, from Maine to Georgia. Picture below is me taking a break from walking.

We ended the trip with a short stop at Sperryville, VA on the way home. There really isn't anything to be said about Sperryville, except that it is VERY SMALL. I think I saw a B&B, a couple of art galleries, and...that's it. Not recommend by sugarlens!

SNP was great. I want to go back again and hike a longer trail that leads to waterfalls next time. Lastly, even though the drive to SNP was long, we found super cheap gas along the way ($2!) and entrance fee was free (my dad is "Golden Age"). It was totally worth it!

Plan your own visit to Shenandoah

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get Your Free Scoop

Happy Election Day!

It's drizzling so the hubs and I don't feel like going out to get ice cream. Remember to get yours if you are out and about. Free scoop at Ben and Jerry's!

We voted at exactly 2:30pm this afternoon! It was quick and painless - in and out in 10 minutes.

Get excited, peeps! Within hours our phones will stop ringing with robo-dialers, we won’t get any more pamphlets in the mail, the streets will be clutter-free again, and this country will have a new (good or bad - you decide) direction to march in. Yipee!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pargo Turns 3!

The puppy cake was a huge success! Pargo went CRAZY (yes, all caps and italicize) for it! I highly recommend the cake recipe to everyone with doggies! And how did the cake taste truly? Well, the hubs and I both had some so I can give you a honest opinion. :) It was actually...okay! Not too sweet and had a dense texture to it. I think I would actually like it if I didn't know the cake was meant for dogs. It smelled incredibly good, though. Yum, peanut butter.

Happy Birthday Pargo! Because of his small size, people are always quick to ask, is he still a puppy? Although he is far from it, Pargo is still really puppy-like. He likes to play chase. He loves his ducky + froggy, grapes (skin removed, mind you), and short walks. He's not a fan of lobster - I just recently discovered that. He loves sleeping on the bed with us, napping under the sun, and barking at UPS trucks. He hate all vacuums, will come to you when he sees you with a brush, he hates baths. He lives for tummy rubs.

Tonight we gave him a whole drumstick for dinner and a piece of cake for dessert. Currently, he's laying next to me, totally suffering from a food coma. Just look how big his tummy is!

Pargo, I hope you had a good day. I hope you know how much I love you!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!