lifetoast

Month: April, 2015

life lately 

On the walk to the subway, the light seeps past the buildings, bathing these gorgeous flower-laden trees. The Southerner in me can’t handle how gorgeous spring is in the Northeast. My favorite place especially is the corridor around the corner from my place. The wind will rustle through the trees and wisps of white and pink dance in the air. Chibi and I will stroll through and often I’ll turn my face up to watch the plump bees happily at work. And the street itself! I am especially fond of one small business that has planted the most gorgeous ranunculus that stand singularly and proud amongst the rest.  

This past week was both refreshing and highly baffling. Finals ended and now we only have three classes remaining on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the occasional Wednesday. I’m not quite sure what to do with the all the free time! I know things will pick up once the seniors graduate and I go from “rising senior” to actual senior (!!!) so I’m trying to enjoy it by binging on my shows, working out more, and catching up with friends and family. And cooking! (The above is a brie, spinach and caramelized onion quesadilla mmm) 

The great thing about not being so bogged down in classes is that I was able to get this senior panel done. It was put together very last minute but we had a great turnout from all the different classes. The seniors-who have probably all mentally left the building-were so sweet in attending and talking with us very confused D1s to D3s. The key thing I learned: I need to get cracking on figuring out who to ask for recommendations! Pre-dental/dental students, find mentors. I would be so lost in dental school without the buoying support of classmates, seniors, professors and dentists.

By the way, I hope you liked my London travel guide! Sadly, my laptop took its last whirring gasp a few weeks ago so I’m iPad bound until I get a new one. But I’ll be working on an Iceland travel guide as soon as I do!

While we’re talking about travel, I am so excited about my trip to Austin THIS WEEKEND with two of my favorite girls from dental school! It’ll be sweet to return back to the South and I’m thrilled to show them all the good eats and fun that Texas has to offer. 

And that’s life lately. It feel big and bountiful and as thrilling as it is maddening. 

london. day 4 + 5.

4

DAY 4.
ATTRACTIONS
St. Paul’s Cathedral (St. Paul’s)
Changing of the Guard (Knightsbridge)

FOOD + DRINK
The Pantechnicon Room
Harrods
Tukdin

ST.PAUL’S CATHEDRAL_20150105.London Day 2.27Tickets were purchased in advance for St. Paul’s Cathedral. It came with an audio tour (I love these London churches and their audio tours!) and gave access to the underground crypt as well as the galleries in the dome. Go to all the galleries!

Whispering Gallery//_20150105.London Day 2.29The Whispering Gallery gives you a bird’s eye view of the cathedral. Plus it’s said that, if you and a friend stand on opposite sides of the gallery, you can whisper facing the wall and the sound of your voice will travel around the wall and reach your friend!

It’s 376 steps more to the Stone Gallery and another 528 steps to the Golden Gallery! Think skinny and walk carefully because the staircases can get pretty narrow. But the view is worth it.

From the Dome Gallery//_20150105.London Day 2.35

Changing of the Guards//
_20150105.London Day 2.39
Need a little British pomp and ceremony? Check out the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace. Pro tip: Go early-say 45 minutes?- or you’ll be watching the ceremony from an iPad like I did. Womp womp.

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The Pantechnicon Room// _20150105.london.day3...3_20150105.london.day3...4 _20150105.london.day3...5_20150105.london.day3...7
We walked from Buckingham Palace to this classy gastropub for lunch. I especially liked my vegetarian dish but I can’t remember the name of it! The butternut squash was also delicioso. It’s not a cheap eat but the food was fresh and seasonal.
 
Harrods//
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_20150105.london.day3...11There are hot cross buns and puffy cronuts! There is biltong and anchovy pastes! But that’s just a part of the ground floor! There’s gourmet teas and packages of truffles to buy and oh so many floors of luxury shopping! And the Toy Kingdom is a must.

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Human-sized stuffed animals!

Tukdin//
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We ended our day with Malaysian fare at Tukdin. Sooo…service was absolutely atrocious here! There were surcharges for things not written on the menu, the rice paired with the entrée came out so late that we just shared our rice and there was no apology for it. Just “we are very busy.” Service aside, the food was decent and the teh tarik, or Malyasian milky tea, was quite tasty.

DAY 5.
ATTRACTION
Hyde Park
// Italian Gardens

FOOD + DRINK
Giraffe

Hyde Park//
_20150106.London Day 2.53_20150106.London Day 2.55

This park! We were worried about having enough time to make it to the airport so we only made it to the Italian Gardens but it was a gorgeous, well planned park. We really wished we got to see more of it.

Heathrow Airport//
_20150106.Iceland 1.2
When we got to Heathrow Airport, we were told that our flight to Iceland was delayed SEVEN hours. Aiya. Since we were already there with our bags, we decided to lounge around on some nice comfy sofas like these fellow travelers.

Giraffe//_20150106.Iceland 1.1
The perk of our delay was FOOD VOUCHERS. (Will I ever be old enough to not appreciate free food?) We ended up spending alll our food voucher money at Giraffe where I had a real English breakfast. Everywhere we went I saw signs for breakfast plates that included a tomato and beans so I took my last chance to get it here. Breakfast is my favorite meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINALLY, after hours lounging in the airport, we hopped onto the plane for ICELAND. To be continued..

london. day 3.

3

ATTRACTIONS
British Museum (free admissions)
Trafalgar Square

FOOD + DRINK
The Pasty Shop (Paddington Station)
Upper Crust Bakery (Paddington Station)
Scoop (Picadilly Circus)
Ham Yard Hotel (Picadilly Circus)
Nordic Bakery (Picadilly Circus)

BREAKFAST
The Pasty Shop
// Sandwiches and lattes
Upper Crust Bakery// Pain au chocolat, baguette sandwiches and lattes

What can I say? We are a family that likes carbs and coffee.

British Museum// _20150104.london.day3..1The museum is huge! Must sees include the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Sculptures. We purchased a map for £2 but it wasn’t really needed. The museum has maps everywhere.

_20150104.London Day 2.6We rode a double decker bus to our next destination! I could see how tours would be really fun in these.

Scoop//
_20150104.london.day3..5If you’re craving sweets, check out Scoop! One lick brought us back to our stroll across Ponte Vecchicio. We tried the salted caramel, pistachio, extra dark chocolate and a raspberry sorbet.

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Nordic Bakery//_20150104.london.day3..6There was high praise for this bakery, which was a short jaunt from Scoop. We purchased a cinnamon roll, honey pancake, and rice pie. They were all  highly underwhelming but perhaps it’s because we had them for breakfast the next day?

Chinatown/_20150104.london.day3..10I just wanted to include this picture of Zooey and this panda. Teehee. Chinatown is just a few blocks from Ham Yard Hotel! Speaking of…

Ham Yard Hotel//_20150104.london.day3..11Make a reservation. No matter where you want to go for afternoon tea, make a reservation. We tried to find a place for tea the day of and were hard pressed to get a table. Luckily, Ham Yard Hotel had an open spot with an hour’s wait. As a result, we missed out on making it to the National Museum and National Portrait Gallery. But afternoon tea! It was a must.

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_20150104.london.day3..13          _20150104.london.day3..14

Each of us got a pot of tea and shared a tier of treats and basket of scones. My favorites were the anchovy pie, frittata, earl grey cupcake, and passion fruit macaron. At £19.50 per person, afternoon tea seemed a bit steep but we were all stuffed afterwards.

Note: If you do come to Ham Yard Hotel, request a seating in the sun room. It’s absolutely adorable!_20150104.london.day3..17

Trafalgar Square//_20150104.london.day3..18

We weren’t going to make it to the museums, but we still decided to go check out Trafalgar Square.

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So lovely! Remember to check out the southern end of the square where you’ll get great views of the city. The first picture in the post was taken there and you can see Big Ben in the distance. There’s a plaque there that tells you what everything is as well!

london. day 2.

2

ATTRACTIONS
Big Ben (Westminster)
House of Parliament (Westminster)
St. Margaret’s Church (Westminster)
Westminster Abbey (Westminster)
Tower of London
Tower Bridge

Tip: If you have a student ID, bring it! All the attractions this day had student discounts.

FOOD + DRINK
The Pasty Shop (Paddington Station)
Borough Market (London Bridge)
Green Market (London Bridge)
Noorjahan 2 (Paddington Station)
Pride of Paddington (Paddington Station)

The Pasty Shop//
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Pasties the size of my hand for breakfast!

Big Ben//
_20150103.London Day 1.46_thumb[3]

We didn’t go in but we did say hello!

House of Parliament (Palace of Westminster)//
_20150103.London Day 1.58_thumb[2]

_20150103.London Day 1.67

Tickets were purchased in advanced for a scheduled audio tour. Am I complete nerd for loving audio tours? I like that I can go through things at my own pace and choose what I can listen to.

St. Margaret’s Church//_20150103.londonn.1


Westminster Abbey//
_20150103.London Day 1.73_thumb[3]

The tickets were steep for Westminster Abbey at £17 pounds for a student; £20, an adult, but well worth it. We didn’t purchase tickets in advance. Although the line was long, it moved fast. Once we got in, we picked up an audio tour to tell us about its history.

BOROUGH MARKET + GREEN MARKET//
_20150103.London Day 11.16This baby is excited because the markets are faaaaaabulous! There’s so much good food everywhere! Note: If you’re bringing a little one, use a carrier. It can get very crowded.

Bread Ahead Bakery//_20150103.London Day 11.3 We couldn’t resist getting a bread stick here for Zooey to munch on. And a ginger-y bread pudding. Decent goods but really I came to gape at this tower of carbs.

Mon Cheesemonger//_20150103.londonn.2There are a number of cheesemongers at Borough Market but this is the first one we saw! We got a nice hard cheese here for snacking and I picked up the cutest teeny glass jar of goat milk yogurt. I couldn’t resist.

Shellseekers Fish & Game + Wild Sika// _20150103.London Day 11.11_20150103.London Day 11.14From left to right, we had a venison burger, briny raw oysters and stir fry scallops, also known as delish, slurp, and yum.

_20150103.London Day 11.15 I don’t know the name of this vendor but you can’t miss the massive skillets of colorful paella. It’s caddy corner from Shellseekers and Wild Sika. I had a sample but at this point I needed to maximize my stomach’s potential to try MORE.

_20150103.London Day 11.20Like this! If you’re looking for some veggies, I would recommend a nice thick slice of this piping hot vegetable omelet. It’s a few stalls down from New Forest Cider. We paired that with a nice, cold juice from Turnips.

MonMouth Coffee//_20150103.londonn.6

I had heard rave reviews about this coffee shop but I’ll be honest: this place was just a-ok. The line was long so I was pumped up for some bonkers awesome coffee. I ordered a flat white and it was..decent. Perhaps it would be better on a less crowded day?

ONTO GREEN MARKET!

Cinnamon Sin Bakery// My mom snuck away to get sweets from this stall. The surprising favorite was a hearty oats bar.

ScotchTails//_20150103.London Day 11.21I couldn’t resist a Scotch egg! The crisped shell was halved to reveal a soft boiled egg nestled in a meaty layer. Get a discount by following them on Instagram!

Stuffed to the gills, we waddled our way to Tower of London via the London Bridge. Wait, what? So there are two bridges across the River Thames: the London Bridge and the Tower Bridge. The London Bridge of the nursery rhyme and of that Fergalicious song is actually quite a plain Jane compared to the Tower Bridge. Anyway, we crossed London Bridge and walked along the river to Tower of London.

Tower of London//_20150103.London Day 11.34_20150103.London Day 11.36_20150103.London Day 11.38The Tower of London grounds were quite large. We only had a few hours until closing so we visited the Crown Jewels, the White Tower containing the armory and I snuck off to check the Bloody Tower where two princes were killed and hidden underneath a staircase. Ghoulish.

Tower Bridge//
_20150103.London Day 11.32

_20150103.London Day 11.51 We didn’t do a tour although the glass floors seemed like it would be fun/scary to walk across! We walked across the Tower Bridge to get back to the tube.

Noorjahan 2//

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The restaurant was a short walk from our home. We didn’t make reservations and were lucky to get an open table. We ordered the peshwari, garlic naan, chicken tikka masala, lamb karahi and king prawn special.  The peshwari was different than the type I had before, not studded with fruits and nuts. Still good though! Our favorite dish of the night was the chicken tikka masala. A traditional pick, yes, but the chicken was tender and the sauce was buttery and flavorful. The king prawn special was good but came with 3 prawns at £18.50- a steep price for so little! We ended with tea masala- yum!-which can in a large ceramic teapot with enough tea for three cups each.

Pride of Paddington //_20150104.London Day 11.65
The pub of the night was Pride of Paddington, a bustling pub beneath its namesake hostel. I had a nice Pimm’s cocktail while we tried to place a coin on a lemon in water.

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It is impossible, by the way.

 

london. day 1.

JUNE-JULY 2014
Gorgeous architecture, a rich history, and the chance for Prince George to fall in love with Zooey: all excellent reasons for my family to choose London as the first stop on our spring trip!

THE FLIGHT
Icelandair has an offer where you can stopover in Iceland en route to or from other European destinations-at no additional fare. Our trip was from Boston to London with a transfer in Keflavik. We stayed in London for 4 days and then went to Iceland for 4 days.

TRANSPORTATION
When we arrived in Heathrow Airport, we took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station with tickets purchased in advance. The tickets were printed so remember to keep them for the return trip.

For our stay in London we used the tube system, purchasing Oyster cards at the Paddington Station. We put ₤15 on the card and refilled it once on our trip.

LODGING
Paddington Mews House//
_20150102.London Day 1.14 We found our home for the next four days via AirBnb: a two story apartment with three beds and a very central location. However, tall people beware! The first floor bedroom doorway is very low and was mere inches above my 5’ 3” self.

We arrived in the afternoon so, after dropping off our luggage, we headed out to explore! Here’s what we did:

ATTRACTIONS
Portobello Road
(Ladbroke Grove Station)
National History Museum (South Kensington Station)
Victoria & Albert Museum (South Kensington Station)

FOOD + DRINK
L’Epicure
(Portobello Road Station)
German food stand (Portobello Road Station)
Monkey Puzzle (Paddington Station)

Here’s how we did it:
Portobello Road//_20150102.London Day 1.17A street in the Notting Hill district, Portobello Road is a street market for second-hand clothes and antiques as well as fruits and vegetables.

L’Epicure// _20150102.London Day 1.18We had a few different pastries here but liked the almond/pistachio croissant best.

German food stand//_20150102.London Day 1.22_20150102.London Day 1.23_20150102.London Day 1.24
I don’t have an exact address for this place! All I can say was that it was on the left side of the road as we walked down Portobello Road. We had the schnitzel and the chicken burger at this little kiosk. The schnitzel was tasty and paired with bacon and a fried egg but the chicken burger… OMG get that. It was juicy and luscious and great with grilled onions and some mustard.

National History Museum//_20150102.London Day 1.32 We only visited the Red Zone but there was so much to see in this museum. Check out the map to plan your visit. The museum is free but exhibitions are extra.

Victoria and Albert Museum// _20150102.London Day 1.38_20150102.London Day 1.37The V&A Museum was huge and housed beautiful sculptural pieces. Like the National History Museum, admission is free with an extra cost for special exhibitions (like the Alexander McQueen one!). If you want to take a moment to relax, the café here still contain the original refreshment rooms, all of which are lavishly decorated and oh so gorgeous.

Monkey Puzzle// 30 Southwick Street, London W2 1JQ
_20150102.London Day 1.41What’s London without some time spent in the pubs? For our first night we went to Monkey Puzzle for some beer, cider and grub. We had the traditional pub fare- pie of the day and fish and chips-but what we all really loved was the stuffed butternut squash!

_20150102.London Day 1.44

saturday surf

Presentation (1)

Is the Amazon Dash Button ruining us?

My next dessert needs to be this banoffee pie.

I’m loving Amy Poehler’s You Tube channel, especially her Ask Amy series.

Honest LinkedIn Recommendations. LOL.

Need to get some Pimm’s No. 1 for this cocktail.

Must visit this store when I go to NYC next!

Should I kondo my life?

On that crazy show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Help others via this app.

Here is why Fresh Off The Boat is good even if it’s not representative of my life.

Pictured above is a girl drinking a glass of bubbly oh so cooly in front of MonMouth Coffee, 2 Park Street, The Borough, London, SE1 9AB.

my trader joe’s shopping list

There’s a lot of hype about Trader Joe’s. The first time I went I was like, OMG. I’m finally here! Then I realized I had no clue what to buy or what exactly the hype was about.

What I found out is that TJ is great for the person that likes things pre-made, pre-chopped, packaged and frozen. Don’t get me wrong! They stock your typical fruits and vegetables. The variety is just lacking.

Convenience is where the store shines. PLUS there are some products specific to Trader Joe’s that I am in looove with. So, if you’re heading to a TJ’s, here’s my shopping list:imagemandarin orange chicken//
This sweet, tangy dish is a lifesaver on days I’m too tired to cook. I let the chicken get nice and crispy in the skillet, add the microwaved sauce and it’s done! I’ve paired this with rice and noodles. If I’m being uber lazy, I’ll serve it with TJ’s instant brown rice. All options are delicious.

brioche toasts//
These toasts are buttery and have the perfect consistency: cracker-like but easy to eat. They are the perfect carrier for cheese and dip but also perfectly addicting au naturale.

chili pepper sauce//
This was picked up to marinate meat for jerky but it’s good for so much more than that! It’s mild with a light kick at the end. It’s not tangy like Tabasco; the sauce has a complex flavor that sings earthy and sweet. I’ve had it with fried chicken, I’ve had it with a simple salad, and I can see it being perfect with enchiladas.

three layer hummus//
The ordinary garbanzo bean has been elevated to a new level. The layers are: cilantro, traditional, and roasted red pepper. I’ll be honest. I’m really in it for the cilantro.

greek style nonfat plain yogurt//
I’ve had my fair share of yogurt brands. I like that this one has the consistency and tart flavor consistent with Greek yogurt. It’s an excellent base at a great price. Not too tart, not too thick. I like to pair it with a chopped pear and a drizzle of honey.

cookie butter sandwich cookies//
The cult-inspiring speculoos cookie butter is holding together two buttery, shortbread cookies. No other words necessary.

puff pastry//
I was so sad to find out that these puff pastry sheets are sold only during the holiday season. If you see them, buy them all! The sheets are made with all butter and are a great thing to have on hand for an easy party appetizer or quickie dessert. It looks impressive without all the work!

imagespaghetti//
This pasta is dirt cheap but doesn’t sacrifice on quality. It has even won a taste test! The last time I made this was for pasta alla puttanesca and paired it with chimchurri steak. Flavor explosion.

saturday surf

Marketing
Leave yourself wanting more
.

Let’s talk (frankly) about sex.

I want this in my home.

One pot pasta: perfect for finals week.

A recipe using korean rice cakes.

I know a mama who

No knead bacon bread. Bacon + carbs. You’ve got me.

A vegetarian ceviche. Color me intrigued.

If you love your pet, maybe you need a stuffed version of it.

Pictured above are cronuts from Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL.

chocolate chip blondies

_20150129.Chocolate chip blondies.1

How can sitting in a chair and staring at a computer for hours be so tiring? Studying is embarrassingly exhausting. It seems as if every time I talk to an old friend I’m telling them that I’m taking exams. Again? they ask. Yes, yes. AGAIN. Spring semester is too short so NINE finals are already upon us. The sweet flip side is that the first session of summer has only THREE classes. And only on Tuesdays and Thursdays!!! I will soon have time to do things normal people do! Like wear real clothes! So what I’m trying to say is that dental school has totally consumed my life.

Yesterday I was trying to burn as much details about composite versus amalgam into my brain that I was nursing a headache by mid-day. I said a prayer, put Taylor Swift on Pandora and started browning butter for blondies. Because, you know, that’s what you do hours before your first final.

chocolate chip blondies//
I recently found out what the difference between brownies and blondies are: blondies are made with vanilla instead of cocoa  and brown sugar instead of white sugar. The vanilla version of brownies! These blondies are chewy, more fudgy than cake-y and a bit denser than chocolate chip cookies. And don’t leave out browning the butter! It’s an extra step but it’s what gives the blondies that complex nutty flavor. Yum.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup butter, unsalted
1 3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Set oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 9×13 baking pan. Line with parchment paper and butter parchment paper.

Over low heat, brown the butter. Just wait until the nice golden yellow bits are a caramel brown. Let cool for a few minutes before adding the brown sugar.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix together. Add the butter-sugar mixture. Then add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well. Fold in half the chocolate chunks. The batter will be thick.

Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.