Malaysia & Singapore 

Beginning of January, my husband and I took our first big international trip. We went to Asia! It was our first big vacation – 2 whole weeks abroad. We’ve traveled internationally before but only to islands, beaches, and resorts. Never have we done an “exploration” trip internationally. Boy, were we nervous and excited!

Picking Singapore was completely because of Anthony Bourdain. We were watching an episode of The Layover – Singapore and my husband decides right then and there he wants to go to Singapore. Singapore is a small island so I decided to tag on Malaysia to lengthen the trip. We spent 3 days in Kuala Lumpur, 3 days in Penang, and 4 days in Singapore.

 

Malaysia was completely something else all together. It was welcoming, kind, and full of culture. There are three main ethic groups that call Malaysia home: Malays, Indians, and Chinese. Through centuries of sharing this land, the influences of these three cultures made Malaysia one of a kind. This is most apparent in the food. I never had a bad meal in Malaysia. The food I ate were some of the best I’ve ever eaten in my life. Go to Penang for some of the best culinary experiences of your life!

Singapore and Hong Kong shares a similar history – originally apart of the mainland, then British colonized. Singapore is comparable to a big metropolitan area here in the US. My vote: a greener, cleaner, and more organized Manhattan. It’s well developed with high rises as far as the eye can see. If you could plan a country, the result would be Singapore.

I had a wonderful time traveling through and learning from these countries. Their people, history, heritage, culture, traditions, and most importantly, food. I loved every encounter.

2016 Resolutions

And just like that, another year came and went. I had quite a year in 2015. Challenging to say the least, trying to balance school and life. I was not successful at times at juggling while maintaining my sanity but that’s neither here nor there.

The nursing program was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Period. There were quite a few moments of self-doubt and self-pity. But looking back on it now, I’m glad for the highs and the lows of nursing school. I grew tremendously as an individual. This journey showed me humility and taught me patience.

Now that nursing school is over, my next challenge to tackle is passing the NCLEX and landing my first RN job. Both will not be a walk in the park but I am ready. My program and instructors prepared me well and I have confidence in His plan. I will give it my all in this next part of the journey.

For my resolutions this year, my focus was to try something new throughout the year. What better way to gain new experiences than to explore my surroundings?

My new year resolutions for 2016 are:

  • Donate my hair to Locks of Love
  • Engage in an outdoor activity at least once a month

BSN Graduation 

I graduated nursing school! Officially done with all things school related (for now). I’m beyond excited to finish what was the most challenging experience. The past 1.5 years have been all consuming with everything nursing school related. I went from a social butterfly to a stressed out hermit crab. But all was worth it for these three letters: BSN.

I could not have done this without the support and love from these two human beings. They were there through everything and helped me in every way they could. I’m incredible thankful and blessed to have such a loving family. So humbled by their love!


Merry Christmas! Glory be to God in the highest.

Apple cranberry cake

It’s no secret that I love Ina Garten. I watch her shows on Food Network and I prefer her recipes out of all the other chefs out there. I love her mentality of using classic recipes but turning up the flavor profile. This is another example of that.

Apple Cranberry Cake. Sure, sure…nothing special in the name. Trust me, there’s nothing special in the ingredients either. But by adding fresh orange juice and orange zest – it turned this into something bright and beautiful. Perfect for the holidays.

The recipe originally called for one pie pan but my Granny Smith apple was sort of large and I was worried fitting it all into one would cause a big mess in the oven. I split the recipe amongst two pie pans so it’s up to you on that. I also substituted all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour. No particular reason there but I just had the latter on hand. I served this warm with vanilla ice cream. Divine…

Apple Cranberry Cake
recipe from Ina Garten

Ingredients:
12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into one or two 10-inch glass pie plate(s). Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken korma

It’s getting cold here in SoCal and the change in temperature just makes me want braises and warm stews. All of last year I didn’t use my slow cooker. I thought with nursing school, I’d have to use the slow cooker all the time for set-it-and-leave-it meals but I was blessed to have my mom cook for us weekly. We always had home-cooked meals in the fridge thanks to her!

Recently, I pulled out my slow cooker for a Friendsgiving potluck. I made mac and cheese and it was somewhat of a fail. Recipe will not be posted until I get it right haha. But that made me remember how easy slow cookers are to use. I’ve had plenty of failed recipes in my slow cooker but I’ve also had good ones.

For my newest, I decided to make a Chicken Korma dish. It’s Indian and full of bold flavors.

Chicken Korma
recipe from Cooking Light

Ingredients

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 diced onion
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cubed peeled Russet potato
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

1. Heat some EVOO in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in chicken through garlic powder into the pot. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. Pour mixture in slow cooker. Deglaze the pot with tomatoes for a minute and pour in slow cooker. Stir in bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
2. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 3 hours. Discard bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Turn slow cooker off; let stand 15 minutes. Stir in yogurt. Serve chicken mixture over rice. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Costume idea

I’m so excited Halloween is coming up! It’s one of my all time favorite holiday and I look forward to dressing up every year. It probably goes back to my UCSB days where Halloween was an institution, celebrated all week long. Every year during college I had at least 3 costumes – one for each night on the weekend.

I’ve been busy this whole month but I finally got around to shopping for my Halloween costume. I had no idea what my husband and I were going to be when I came across deer antlers! Sometimes all it takes is just one detail to give you an idea for your whole costume. My husband and I are going to be the Hunter and the Deer this year for Halloween!

Here are some make-up ideas for the deer. It’s pretty popular in the past couple of years for ladies to dress up as wild animals. I bought my deer ears from etsy, brown dress from forever21, and deer antlers from Walmart. I got white eyeliner and fake lashes from Nordstrom.


For my husband, he’s going to be the Hunter. He owns most of his costume already: flannel button down, brown pants, camouflage hat, and brown boots. I bought him an orange turning vest and hunting knife from Walmart. I tried to look for a toy shotgun but no one sells them anymore.

Next up, trial make-up run for the deer make-up. Wish me luck!