Summer in the Smoky Mountains

We are back in the Smokies ~! Visiting old family friends and enjoying the beautiful July scenery. (above: the heavenly view from the cabin deep in the mountains that our friends were staying at)

On our drive around Cade’s Cove, my mom kept us on our toes with her false alarms “Bear! Bear!” until finally one must have heard her pleading cries and stumbled out of his humble abode to give us a short welcome. He was right outside our car, playfully hanging around by fallen logs.

When my parents first immigrated from Shanghai, visiting the Smokies in autumn was their first real break from work life. They still vividly describe the scenery, their humble travels on foot, and the youth of their college days. And while I’m not as nostalgic as them, its still a place I hold dear to my heart. ^^

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My Favorite Easy Fruit Salad & Mango Smoothie Recipe

After a week of dining on leftovers, feeling like trash is guaranteed. And that’s why fruit salads exist – mood lifting, skin saving, and strength-building bowls of wonder.

Not to mention, how much vibrance they add to your ordinary day! Colors of summer, a fruit medley that can’t be refused.

My current favorite fruit salad combination is strawberries (the foundation fruit), blueberries (small crunchy compatibility), avocado (creamy goodness), and mangoes (tangy sweetness). With the belated discovery that avocados are social butterflies and fit perfectly into every salad, I promise I’m never going back.

To finish off the salad comes a simple but naturally sweet smoothie. 2 ingredients : ripe mango flesh & soymilk (or milk of your choice, though lets be honest, soymilk is the true queen!!).

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 MANGO SMOOTHIE RECIPE 

Blend 1 ripe mango sliced, 3/4 cups of soymilk, and a tiny squeeze of lime if you are feeling adventurous.

Enjoy & have a wonderful, healthy day!!

3 Ingredient Strawberry Icebox Cake

When the summer heat rolls around (scorching everything in its path), turning on the oven is one of the very last things you want to do. In my home, its an unspoken rule that baking stops once the temperature hits 90 Fahrenheit – though, sometimes I sneak a few desserts in here and there. That’s why icebox cakes are God’s gift to humanity. Summer desserts that don’t turn your kitchen into a greenhouse.

So when I stumbled upon this wonderful 3 Ingredient Strawberry Icebox Cake recipe, I immediately hopped on my bike to the store.  Continue reading

Starved Rock State Park, IL

On the 4th of July, instead of doing the traditional fireworks / picnic thing, my family drove an hour south down to Starved Rock State Park. Its such a beautiful but humble park – the trails being easy for the weak (me) but also challenging enough for the adventurous (my mom). We’ve been here countless times in the past to the point where the nearby restaurants and motels look eerily familiar. Luckily though, each time comes with a new, unrivaled experience.

Apologies for the super-edited photos, I have this bad habit where I can’t leave a photo untouched 😦 While we were hiking, we came across a forested land that was flooded by the recent rainfall. Photography-wise, I live for reflections in nature – they are so unexpected and hidden-from-the-eye.

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Creamy Lemon Chicken Noodles Recipe

I’ve been in a really lemon-centric mood lately – craving not only the classic lemon bars but also lemon cake and lemon ice cream; the list goes on. This week at the grocery store, I ambitiously lugged out two bags of lemons despite my dad’s judging glare. So, I was delighted upon stumbling across this wonderful lemon chicken noodles recipe – what luck ♥♥

I improvised from this Creamy Lemon Chicken Piccatta recipe from The Recipe Critic. Instead of topping with parsley, I cut up cilantro which worked perfectly with the dish. I added mushrooms while cooking the broth – definitely recommend that addition!

Colorful dishes make a beautiful ending to a long day! This dish was vibrant and easy on the eyes.

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