Christmas in July: Shortbread Cookies

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Shortbread cookie dough has been sitting in my fridge for a week and since my family was leaving the next day for Tennessee, i decided to bake it before it went to waste. Obviously its not Christmas yet, but my cookie cutters don’t give me many choices, so Christmas trees and men it is!IMG_7864

These shortbread cookies are simple and allow for maximum creativity.IMG_7872

My dough stubbornly stuck to the roller so i resorted to pounding the dough with my bare hands. #beinglazyIMG_7861IMG_7875 IMG_7878

Shortbread cookies aren’t complete without colorful decorations! In this case, i melted dark chocolate and coated half the cookie in it. My little bro helped decorate the trees in sprinkles.IMG_7879 IMG_7881

Our shortbread men donning a minimalist lookIMG_7882 IMG_7884

We brought these to Tennessee for our family friends and they enjoyed them 😀 IMG_7886

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Heaven on Earth: The Best Blueberry Scones Recipe!

IMG_7769It’s undeniable that hard work always results in a hefty reward. This exact philosophy presents itself clearly in these gorgeous blueberry scones (i mean just look at them).

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 flour-crusted hands from all that kneading IMG_7681

Handling the dough was the trickiest part. Make sure to reserve an extra 1/2 of cup of flour for dusting.IMG_7682 IMG_7689 IMG_7692 IMG_7705Army of blueberries, thank you camera for the lovely bokeh.IMG_7718

This recipe made eight large scones. I would highly recommend doubling the batch because more blueberry scones = a happier household. IMG_7722 IMG_7725 IMG_7742

Pfff…I cried a little bit when these came out, so perfect!IMG_7750Stuff yourself with scones while they are hot, the insides are moist and melt in your mouth. Delicious bake, these are definitely on my all-time favorite dessert lists and i will be making these again soon! 

Guys, don’t take the shortcut in life, especially when it comes to scones because this recipe was worth every minute. Seriously, give it a try.

 

 

Easy Avocado Smoothie Recipe!

IMG_7617I’m officially in love with avocados. They’re great in salads, dips, even chocolate chip cookies, and now smoothies. A double bonus is the gorgeous texture and soft shade of green that they give to a smoothie.IMG_7626I decided to top my smoothie with blueberries and strawberries, the perfect duo, which brought out a stronger taste of avocado.IMG_7627 IMG_7629

Blueberries! They disappear from the kitchen so fast….IMG_7633

And here is the simple recipe! Adapted from here

Ingredients:

1 Avocado (sliced for easier blending)

1 cup milk or soy milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fruit Toppings of your choice (blueberries + strawberries work well)

Optional: Add a few spoonfuls of  vanilla or plain yogurt!

Directions:

  1. Prepare your ingredients and blender
  2. Blend in all ingredients till smooth
  3. Pour into cups and add a beautiful fruit garnish. 

Feel free to try other combinations as well, coconut shavings would also work great for additional flavor.

IMG_7635Honestly, the colors work gorgeous together.IMG_7644

Visiting my Dad’s childhood home

IMG_7343Back in the 1960’s – 70’s, my father and his family lived in a cramped room buried within a crowded maze of hunched buildings . According to my 3rd aunt, in their childhood, owning a small room to begin with would make one considered well-off. They lived together in a cramped room, my father, his five sisters, their parents, and grandma (my ah-ta). Now most of the previous tenants have moved out to more comfortable complexes in the city, a new wave of workers from the countryside have filled the premises. My 3rd aunt cringed at the sight of the dirty hallways cluttered in an array of boxes and other miscellany as she told me that when my family lived there, it was a lot cleaner.IMG_7356

I took a lot of photos and messily filmed videos to show my dad, hopefully it will trigger some nostalgia.

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This part of the city really had a different atmosphere: the moss-covered sinks that sank into the road, kids washing their hair on rooftops with hoses, and indoor grey-washed walls, drearily untouched. Honestly living here would dry me out, but the tenants who live here don’t really have a choice.

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Friendly photogenic cat who I wish I could take home and a not-so-friendly dog who growled at me pff.

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We had a meal nearby with Western cuisine. Spaghetti and meatballs and chicken sandwich. 

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The remains of the Shanghai 2010 expo

In 2010, Shanghai held a World Expo inviting all countries to come exhibit their nation’s culture, architecture, and spirit. Fast forward four years and all that remains are rubble, a mess of construction sites, and a few, still open buildings.

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The Saudi building is one building that is still opened to the public though a vast majority of its displays have been removed and replaced. One famous part of the building still remains intact, which is this circular movie theater with a moving walkway. 

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So much pretty, and perfect for my signature lazy abstract, motion pictures.

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Another building still open is the Italy building, cue more elaborate architecture, lots of pasta, and gorgeous artwork.

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It’s a pity that everything else is nearly torn down/deserted.

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My aunt brought us out for dinner at this horribly high class mall, the prices burned my eyes. The two restaurants we ate at were reasonably priced however.

Lunch: Fried Rice with Pork (so idealistically seasoned and cooked *sniffs*)

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Dinner: A lot of scary things I don’t eat, egg tarts, fried noodle and sponge cake

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The Bund at night.  Decorated in lights and clogged traffic.

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Dinner in Pudong and making Mango Chiffon Cake

Went out with my 3rd aunt, her son and his wife to watch Transformers 4 in 3D. (cries at the poorly written script)

And then we dinned locally in Pudong (Shanghai is divided into Pudong and Puxi, both are a river away)

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Menu: Baked chicken, Pineapple and Seafood Fried Rice, Salad, Flatbread pizza, and a mango dessert.

My cousin’s wife enjoys baking as well so when we got to bake a mango chiffon cake.

Homemade whipped cream = ❤

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Hanzhou you are gorgeous

An hour train ride away from the industrious metropolis that is Shanghai is the gorgeous “heaven on earth” Hanzhou. Decked in rivers, mountains, and historical sites, Hanzhou makes the perfect tourist getaway. My 3rd aunt and her husband live in Hanzhou and after promising her year after year that I would drop by for a visit, I finally got the privilege to do so.

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Gorgeous architecture against a foggy riverbank.

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We took a small boat across the Xi river to a famous but tiny island (the kind that foreign diplomats visited on their important business trips) After touring, I can understand why the Chinese government chooses to welcome their top visitors to this island. Beyond well-maintained, it came off with an ethereal aura that kept with me after departure.

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So many koi ponds (yess fish!) and these beautiful, brightly colored lily pads.

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Afterwards with a quick bumpy bus ride, we arrived at (ta) pagoda. There is an entrance fee (reasonably priced). And cue an hour of exercise. Climbing the pagoda is extravagating, the stair steps are conveniently half as wide as their supposed to be. Honestly, they are no joke and I’m pretty sure people have died falling down these steps (I was clinging to the railing climbing down)

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(More photogenic cats, because how can you resist //so fab)

There were a lot of stray cats running around, one of them was lazily sleeping on some stair steps. It wasn’t the most photogenic but it was extremely friendly and almost followed us all the way home.

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We headed to my aunt’s apartment afterwards and for night went out for pizza. Walking there we came across a dog and her puppy (ahgd can I take you two home) and also the beautiful night scenery of a small riverbank

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Hanzhou was all types of gorgeous. It was the kind of breathtaking that makes you forget your time and place. I highly recommend a visit to all traveling, especially if you make a trip to Shanghai, make sure to spend a few days in Hanzhou which is so conveniently close with modern transportation