NYC Adventure!

I mentioned in my Christmas post that I took a little day trip to NYC this past Monday. It’s trips like these that makes me wish I lived in a big vibrant city sometimes!

It was the day before Christmas Eve, but we didn’t do the normal tourist stops like Times Square and the Rockefeller Center. Guided by my Manhattan-resident cousin, we explored New York City like a true New Yorker.

First was the hour long train ride on the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station.

We passed by 1D World! Confession: I’m a One Direction fan. Not a huge one but who can dislike their catchy tunes?

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After a bit of struggling (NY subways don’t like to be on time) we made our way to East Village. Our (my) goal was to visit a yarn shop. I’m not sure that my cousins and brother enjoyed it as much as I did. We all also wanted to go a little thrift shopping and to grab some of the best eats in New York according to my cousin.

This song is becoming more and more the theme to my life.

There’s a thrift shop on just about every corner of East Village so there was no trouble finding one. We stopped in the first one we saw. Great finds while thrift shopping is really based luck and I just didn’t find anything I really liked, especially now that I’m trying to build a capsule wardrobe. One of my cousins found some things so after his purchased we walked a few more blocks to Downtown Yarns.

Downtown Yarns is a tiny but cute and cozy yarn shop on Avenue A. I’m not sure what heaven looks like but I imagine it’s a little something like this.

IMG_1436 IMG_1438The employees were very knowledgeable and helpful. They also wore crazy and quirky outfits that featured things they knitted which was pretty awesome! I’ve knitted a lot and for a long time but there’s no way that I’m an expert. Walking into a store like this was a bit overwhelming, considering I didn’t have any project in mind. I decided on knitting a pair of socks for myself and the employees did a great job with helping me choose the right yarn and needle size. I haven’t started on the socks yet but I’m deciding between two patterns I found on Ravelry. I’ll keep you posted on the progress!

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Next was the food portion of our trip. According to my cousin, we had to get the best ice cream New York had to offer. I was expecting a hard serve place with about a million flavors but instead I found us walking through the door of a soft serve shop called Big Gay Ice Cream.

IMG_1439Their specialty is in adding unique and interesting flavor combinations to plain old soft serve – and it is literally the best ice cream I’ve ever had. I cannot stress this enough. If you ever get the chance, go there and if you can’t decide on what to order, just ask your server. He’ll probably suggest the Salty Pimp, their best selling cone. If that yarn store was what heaven looked and felt like, the Salty Pimp might be what heaven tastes like.

IMG_1441 IMG_1443Alright, I next was the best fry place in New York. How can you tell when a restaurant is the best at what they do? If they get bogged down by lines just for serving one type of food. Pomme Frites just serves Belgian style fries. They also offer over a dozen dipping sauce flavors. The shop is tiny, something a lot of NYC stores have in common so there’s barely any room to sit or stand. We took our order to go and had to chow on the street so I didn’t have the hands to take any pictures.

Then we went on to Buffalo Exchange. I wouldn’t call it a thrift shop, but this chain store sells fashionable second hands at a fraction of the cost of retail stores. The clothes they sell come directly from people in the community and they seem to have some higher standard than regular thrift shops because most of the clothes they sell are trendy and in style. I picked up an oxford button down, a batwing sweater, a polkadot skirt, and these awesome harem-style trousers all for $45.

Then, we took a quick walk through the Union Square Holiday Market since it was really crowded. We finished off our day by seeing The Hobbit in 3D. So I have to admit that I haven’t seen all of the Lord of the Rings movies, among other trilogies. However, I have read The Hobbit twice. I can’t say I enjoyed it both times, but I think now that I’m older I’d probably appreciate it more. The movie though was very good except for the slow start. It was very visually appealing and the soundtrack is amazing. Now I have part 2 to look forward to plus the actor who plays Bilbo, Martin Freeman plays Dr. Watson in Sherlock, which I figured out right at the end of the movie. Is it weird that I think he’s adorable despite being 41?

We took a cab, which was a bit of a crazy ride by my standards to Penn Station right on time to catch the train back to Long Island. This trip will probably be the most fun I’ll have this Winter break and it’s something I wouldn’t mind doing more often. The next time I visit family in Long Island, we’re going to have to do this again, but that might not be until another year if I end up going to Hong Kong this summer. By the way, I submitted my application to study abroad today so wish me luck!

 

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Let’s blog about Christmas for a second

I was planning on doing a bunch of separate posts for all the things I’m about to write about but I’m not very good at keeping up with my blogging so I’ll just talk a little about everything in 5 parts starting… now!

Part I: Christmas Knitting

I think most people can agree that the Christmas season starts (immediately) after Thanksgiving, and that’s when I started on knitting my Christmas gifts. You’ve already seen what I made for my friends so all that was left was the ornaments for adult relatives. I made a variety of knitted Christmas ornaments which I was planning taking pictures of and making a post on before Christmas but in all the pre-Christmas mayhem and time crunch, I completely forgot… again. Here’s a picture of some of them wrapped up lol:

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Some patterns I completely improvised and some I took from patterns. Here are a few of my favorite Christmas ornament patterns that you can put to use for next year’s holiday season: Wreath Ornament, Christmas Decoration I, Christmas Decoration II

Part II: New York

Ok, so first on the Christmas festivities stop was Long Island, NY where my mom’s side of the celebrated Christmas early. We opened gifts on Saturday night. I have about a million cousins (ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little) so Christmas gift giving is more for the little ones, and this goes for both sides of my family. The gifts I got this year were minimal but I’ll always appreciate cash and giftcards! :P

Present explosion! But almost none of them were for me...

Present explosion! But almost none of them were for me…

Hold up. I did get this one from "Santa."

Hold up. I did get this one from “Santa.”

The most notable part about my Long Island stay was the spontaneous trip to Manhattan taken by my brother, cousins, and I. I’ll be writing more about this later! Considering I visited an East Village yarn shop, it was a pretty big deal and exciting moment in my knitting experience.

Part III: Back to Delaware

On Christmas Eve, my family road tripped back to Delaware in time for a little get together with some members on my dad’s side of the family and midnight mass. Here’s my Christmas mass outfit!

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And it started snowing! For a moment I really believed that we could have a white Christmas, but it melted by morning :(

Part IV: Cookie Cutter Pancakes

The lack of snow however, did not stop me from making Christmas shaped chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.

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So these were a little tricky to get the hang of but here’s some tips on how to do it:

  1. Make your favorite pancake batter recipe.
  2. Gather your cookie cutters and make sure they are the metal kind. You don’t want to get any melted/burnt plastic in your delicious pancakes!
  3. Coat the cookie cutters in oil. I didn’t have any PAM spray handy so I used a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil to coat my cookie cutters which became very messy very quickly.
  4. Place the cookie cutters on your pan or griddle.
  5. Pour the batter in the molds. It helps if your batter is on the more liquidy side.
  6. Once one side is cooked (bubbly on the top side) lift the cutters out with a pair of tongs (they’ll be hot).
  7. Shapes with a lot of little crevices are tricky to make. I found that the bell and ball ornament shape were the easiest because they had very little small segments. If things get stuck use something (for me a chopstick) to push the pancake down as you lift the cutter out.
  8. Flip them over and cook the other side.
  9. Serve with your favorite toppings!

Part V: A lot of children and some more present opening

After breakfast, it was off to my grandparent’s to open gifts with my dad’s side of the family. And if you think the six cousins I have on one side of the family is a lot try 12 (with one more on the way and 2 more cousins on the other side of the country.)

Three of my little cousins and ALL the shoes.

Three of my little cousins and ALL the shoes.

So I’ve heard that this is an Asian thing, piling up all the shoes at the front door. That’s just a little glimpse of how huge my family is. We ate, caught up, played with babies, and opened presents. Christmas really makes me want to be a little kid again. I have to admit I was a little jealous of the sets of coloring books, crayons, and markers that were being gifted.

Coloring!

Coloring!

So what did I get? The best gift was definitely a pair of button earrings from an Etsy seller. Only one pair of uncle and aunt really get my quirky sense of style. I would have been satisfied with a repeat Christmas 2 years ago when I got mostly yarn, but no yarn this year. I got some lotions and other beauty supplies, a scarf, and a bracelet. Again, most of the gifts were for the wee ones and I don’t blame anyone. How could you resist buying toys for adorable children?

Everyone thought my little ornaments were neat, while they were literally a last minute thought for me. If I had time I would have made a few people more substantial things but what’s a college crafter gonna do? I did wear the sweater I made earlier this year and got loads of aunts asking for commissions haha. And plenty of people trying to get me to sell on Etsy without the knowledge that I’ve been there, done that, and basically given up for now. I actually have a better time and earn more just from taking commissions from family and friends so I’m just going to continue with that for now.

And that’s how my Christmas went! I hope all my readers had a merry Christmas, and even if you don’t celebrate I hope you did something fun. I’ve got a few posts lined up for the time between now and New Years so keep on the lookout for more from me.

Vanilla & Strawberry Ombre Popsicles

I don’t know about you, but we’re in the midst of a heat wave here in the mid-Atlantic. It’s 100 degrees over here in the Diamond State of Delaware, and I’m finding myself breaking a sweat after walking from the front door to the car parked in the driveway.

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All this hot weather has got me craving ice cream and popsicles, but because my mom is a health nut now, we don’t really have that stuff in my house. So, I asked her to buy popsicle molds so we could make our own healthy, frozen, fruit treats.

What I love about using these is that you don’t really need a recipe. Basically, take whatever fruit you have, add a little juice, yogurt, milk (cow or soy) and a little sweetener (sugar, honey, agave syrup) if your fruit isn’t all that sweet, and blend it. Pour them in the molds and freeze them for a few hours (I suggest overnight.)

But for these popsicles, I decided to get a little fancy. One of my favorite blogs is One Sheepish Girl and Meredith’s post on Vanilla Yogurt & Strawberry Popsicles inspired me to make my own variation.

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Sometimes, you just gotta improvise!

I had been craving sushi for a few weeks now and when I realized there was still an abundance of sushi rice and nori wrappers at my house, I decided I was going to make some myself. But the problem was the only thing I had ever made were California rolls and we were fresh out of imitation crab and cucumbers. So I set my self on a journey to find a sushi recipe that I had all the ingredients for. Turns out, that couldn’t be done either. Thankfully, I have exceptional improv cooking skills.

If you are a sushi lover and would like to try your hand at making your own sushi rolls, I definitely recommend www.sushirecipes.org. This site has all kinds of sushi recipes, even fruit sushi, which I had never heard of prior to visiting the site!

When I planned on making sushi I was under the assumption that I had most of the ingredients need to make some spicy tuna rolls. But it turned out that the bottle of wasabi in my refrigerator had dried up and there were no more carrots because my mom’s been having an obsession with making carrot juice.

I took this picture before I found out about the wasabi. I was going to replace the carrots and cucumbers with radishes. As it turned out, the lack of wasabi wasn’t all that horrible because the radishes have a similar kick to them. I also mixed a little ginger miso dressing into the tuna mixture to make it more “Japanese.”

My plating isn’t the best but these sure tasted good. I made a few variations according to the tastes of my siblings, some vegetarian, and added roasted almonds to a couple rolls for myself.

When I had no more fillings left other than tuna, I tried making an onigiri. I’m not really sure what exactly onigiri are or how to make them, but I did read a little about them. Basically, they are rice balls filled with something.

Hope you enjoyed reading about my sushi making adventures! I love all types of Asian food, and after basically all Vietnamese food, sushi is the runner up. I really want to go to Japan one day and eat some authentic sushi and not just the stuff I come up with after perusing my refrigerator and pantry.