Friday, January 9, 2015

happy friday


a belated christmas gift from a vendor at work? flattering.
my (old) last name spelled like THAT? priceless.

also, this hilarious spelling was sort of comical given the current weather conditions outside (so cold the air hurts my face kind of cold).

my brother-in-law is coming to town this weekend and he said he just wants to eat ramen... eat ramen all weekend.  i think this sounds like an excellent plan.  i mean, delicious rich pork-y noodle soup every few hours after walking around NYC? yes. yes i like the sounds of that.  (well, except for the fact that i finally ate right and went to kickboxing everyday this week, eating all that ramen would totally make up for any effort during the week and MORE! sigh... if only i had infinite metabolism when i wanted it...)

happy friday!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

taco tuesday - orale mexican kitchen in jersey city

taco tuesday.  it's like it's too silly of a name to actually do it... except... when you REALLY like tacos, and you REALLY like the tacos at a restaurant just blocks from home, and you REALLY like a good deal.....  YOU DO IT.

hung and i stayed in jersey city for christmas in 2013.  christmas eve happened to be taco tuesday at orale, so it was the obvious choice for a little date before christmas after ice skating at newport skates.  the tacos are half off, guys.  i think it makes them even tastier knowing that they are half off.

we had such a great time that we decided to make it a tradition:
"taco tuesday on the tuesday before christmas"

some people open one present on christmas eve, some people go to church, some people always go to grandma's house.  our tradition is that we eat tacos.  weird? maybe. fun? definitely!  the rule is that if christmas falls on a tuesday, we're making tacos for christmas dinner.

...but tacos at orale in downtown jersey city just hit the spot though.  this year hung ordered the peking duck tacos, and i ordered my normal vegetarian ones (even though i'm not a vegetarian, they are my favorite!!)  i got there late, but hung had already made friends with the bartender, and had a few drinks down, when i got there.  he already ordered the esquites (like a hot corn and cheese salsa) and the baked cauliflower (who knew that grapefruit and cauliflower could pair well together!?)

beyond the stoop at orale mexican kitchen, jersey city

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

wine cork garland

pinterest gets the best of you sometimes, "making" you save all these tiny scraps of stuff so you can (forget to) finish a project in the distant future.  i think my husband might burst if i save the scraps of any more crafty projects (though i can never have enough yarn, i do everything BUT knit with it lately!)

one that finally came to fruition this past holiday season was wine cork garland! sure you can go to a thrift store or ebay or amazon and buy wine corks and make it now, but what's the fun in that? don't you want to DRINK the wine the corks came from?  i had been saving them for about 3 years, and i finally had enough to string them and hang them on the tree!

DIY wine cork christmas tree garland

it's as simple as drilling a hole through the long end of the cork and slipping a long piece of fishing line through it (i bought the 50 lb fishing line, but now that i have it maybe that was overkill.  the good thing is that the fishing line is stiff so it usually went through the hole in the cork without a needle).  i started off holding the corks with pliers to keep my fingers away from the drill bit, but ended up just using my fingers to go faster (oops!).  i also started off with the tiniest drill bit, but soon realized that a larger hole didn't hinder the cork, and the fishing line was WAY easier to slip through without a needle if i used a bigger drill bit.

DIY wine cork christmas tree garland DIY wine cork christmas tree garland

i drilled a few corks, threaded them on the line, drilled a few more, threaded them on the line....  i didn't want to get too far ahead of myself because sometimes i would need to redrill the hole if the fishing line got stuck.  i just tied the end of the string in a knot around the wine cork on each end to finish the string of garland.

the finished project turned out so awesome! well... for about an hour and a half worth of my time anyways.  maybe next year i will take it apart and put some poms between some of the corks or something fun like that ;)

nearly free and lots of character. those are the kinds of projects i like to do!  it's such a simple project that i didn't think it needed a lot of explaining, but if you have further questions, just ask!

pin this now, so you remember it next year when you have enough corks to string on your tree ;)


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

an unexpected new years eve

our original plans were to stay home, relax, hopefully make it to midnight to see the ball drop but if not i wasn't going to be upset.


drinking champagne and getting out of work early seemed like a good idea.
going straight to orale for margarita's seemed like a good idea.
stopping at e.tittlemouse to say hello was definitely a good idea (the wine there? maybe not)
drinking a few MORE drinks at home was just to keep my streak going.
heading out for more wine was (while we definitely had a great time) may have not been the best idea.

at least our NYE was fun while it lasted!!  the next morning? (ok ok the next whole day)… not so much.

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great company, fantastic pasta from pasta dal cuore, great night. thanks for the impromptu NYE celebrations, e.tittlemouse!  my new years resolution is to NOT be hungover on New Years Day next year :P

happy new year everyone!

Monday, January 5, 2015

hey LA, new york city hates the rain too.

if you live in NYC (or the surrounding areas), you know how crappy it was this weekend.  when it's raining and you have to walk everywhere, you order take-out, you cancel your plans to "go out", you make watch the entire first season of friends (because HELLO!! friends is now on netflix, finally!)… i guess it's not just LA gets depressed when it rains outside.

madison square park, manhattan nyc

hung and i may or may not do this when it's nice outside too, but this weekend a friend from college told me she was in town, which meant brunch plans had to be made! luckily for us, we got to stroll across manhattan saturday morning before the nastiness began.  we don't do this often, just go stroll through the park, or go into the city much on the weekends period (now that there's so much to do HERE, in jersey city, blocks from home).  but gosh it was nice.  

the weekends in NYC are a different creature.  of course people have places to go and aren't exactly what this midwest girl would call "nice", but yeah, people are nicer, in a better mood, relaxed.  the first weekend in january isn't exactly tourist weather either, so there are less people on the streets.

we left our house with lots of time to spare, so we strolled through eataly, picking up a snack before brunch (if you only knew my husband and his eating habits…), got to the restaurant early, and ordered some hot boozy drinks to warm us up.

ham focaccia pizza, eataly, manhattan nyc

3rd and 25th, manhattan nyc

unfortunately the rest of the weekend was pure grossness outside, so we were hermits the rest of the weekend… watching netflix, playing video games, cooking stick-to-your-bones food in the crock pot… you know the routine.

pot roast in a cuisinart crock pot

now it's time to kick it into gear, and get back to being active again! we have a friends wedding in june that we have GOT to look good for ;)  my green smoothie is calling my name tomorrow morning (goodbye delicious rye bread and avocado toast, i'll see you when i fit into my skinny jeans again :P)

Friday, January 2, 2015

hangover food - vietnamese rice porridge recipe

i know i know, sometimes those two words just shouldn't be in the same sentence.  the thought of food makes you want to snuggle up more under those sheets and close your eyes in hopes of all the pain going away by the time you wake up.... 

anyone else have that feeling yesterday morning? that feeling where you start questioning yourself on everything you did the day before. why didn't i eat a solid breakfast? why did i drink champagne at work?  why did i accept that free shot of tequila from the bartender?  wait, why didn't i eat a solid meal all day on a day that i drank more than i ever do?

by the time you reach age 27, you should have this plan mastered by now, you KNOW how to avoid a hangover.....  but sometimes a big hangover creeps up on you like you just got smacked upside your head.

so here comes the best hangover food to the rescue.  i just thought it was a delicious bowl of rice porridge, until my mother-in-law convinced me it's hangover food. simple as this, she said "when my kids go out drinking all night, they need to eat this in the morning."  ok, we'll do just that.  mama knows best!

Vietnamese Rice Porridge Recipe

vietnamese rice porridge
(aka best hangover food ever)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground pork
1/2 medium red onion, diced

8 1/4 cups of water
1 cup white jasmine rice
2 chicken bouillon cube
1 tablespoon sugar

3 cloves of garlic, grated
3 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 stalks of green onion, chopped
heat large pot over medium high heat.  add olive oil, then add ground pork and diced red onion.  add about 1/4 cup of water to the pot so the ground pork gets cooked, but not browned.  while pork and onions are simmering, rinse rice in a fine mesh strainer.  when pork is thoroughly cooked and onions are translucent add rice, chicken bouillon, grated garlic, fish sauce and ground white pepper to the pot and stir.  once all incorporated, add remaining 8 cups of water and bring to a simmer until mixture begins to thicken, stirring every few minutes, about 15 minutes total.  once mixture begins to thicken, stir continuously until mixture becomes a porridge texture, almost like a thick soup or a runnier oatmeal texture.  should take another 5 mins.  stir in chopped green onions, then serve immediately.  sprinkle cracked black pepper on top if you want (or not, depending on your hangover situation :P)

the mixture will continue to thicken in the pot once it cools.  when you reheat for leftovers, you just need to add some water before reheating, and you'll be back to that silky texture from the first day!

sorry this wasn't given to you YESTERDAY, like when you actually needed it, but i'm eating it until the whole batch is gone, even though i'm no longer suffering from the nasty hangover.  i AM suffering from lack of sleep though.  i tried staying up until the end of the sugar bowl, slightly napping on the sofa until 1:30am!! yikes!  good thing it's friday, my friends (at least i have good leftovers to eat for lunch :P)


Thursday, January 1, 2015

let's start.

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i'm sitting in my living room writing this, quiet with the only sound being the crackling of a wood wick candle, in my robe, feet propped up on our newly-reupholstered ottoman, my husband napping beside me, hot coffee at my fingertips, the sun shining in from all directions… and i wouldn't ask for anything more right now.

2014 brought us many good memories, shoving our engagement, the purchase of our first home, and our wedding all in the same year.  we took the first phan family trip to dc, we celebrated with so many friends who got married, and we made more new friends in jersey city than we can count.

of course we had our downs too, but if we focus on the downs then we will perpetually be unhappy.  instead of focusing on losing loved ones, we celebrate the good times we had with them.  instead of regretting the things we didn't do, we find ways to make up the things we didn't do and be thankful for the things we did.

our lives are just that… ours.  we have to take control of it and make the best of it, to always be working towards something better, to always set goals, to dream bigger.

as cliche as it sounds, the new year (and any other time of the year) is a great time to reflect on your past, and learn from mistakes, learn from triumph, learn from experiences, and to try to be a better person.

2015 is going to be a great year.  in the words of my husband "you just have to WILL it to happen."

cheers, and happy new year.

Monday, December 22, 2014


....and so the holidays have begun.  our new-to-us car has already seen some miles, and there are more to be clocked, but as long as there are smiles and laughter and good food and good company, we can claim a successful holiday season. 

in light of my absence on this space, and likely more to come, here's a recap of the holidays for us so far.  between thanksgiving, friendsgiving, a wedding, a friends chrismakuh, holiday parties, and birthdays, we've been busy.  but we can only be thankful to have each of you in our lives!!  so, thanks, friends and family, for being so awesome :)

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^^^this one is smiling on the outside (but thoroughly upset that that girl beside him was the ping pong champion of the night)

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^^^missing those two for christmas... but thankful that weird one in the back is driving to see us (and to deliver our newly-reupholstered danish modern chair!!)

read on for more.....