This afternoon Michael, Jessie, and I made our first proper meal all week! With just three of us in the house, full meals are not necessarily a priority- we’ve been eating sandwiches and lattes everyday for a while now.
My Southeast Asian meal is definitely checked off the bucket list with this lunch consisting of Malaysian curry, stir-fried bokchoy, and Chinese tea (普洱茶).
My last week in Tianjin has come. In just 6 days I will be moving back to the States to begin school at Carnegie Mellon University. After five years here, I can hardly believe that China will no longer be my home.
I will miss it more than I can say.
In the meantime, Michael and Jessie are helping to fill my last days with unforgettable memories. Earlier this week we made a long list of various activities that I want to complete before flying out next week.
The first one to be checked off the list was a trip to Tianjin’s “City Center.” Some of my favorite eating and shopping areas are downtown so late Wednesday afternoon we buseed there.
What a lovely outing! Churros and bubble tea－珍珠奶茶－were the first stops we made upon arrival. We then walked around for a while before settling into a quiet Starbucks for a couple of hours spent chatting, planning for the future, etc.
Our last stop was at a Japanese store called Muji, where I stocked up on pens for the next year! Michael was able to snap a few photos of Jessie and I enjoying the Muji “furniture displays” before a shop-keeper gave us some unhappy stares, after which we quickly made our way out.
At our house, Birthdays are filled to the brim with special treats, family time, and unique celebrations. It is a day to stop and enjoy everything and everyone that you love.
The theme that Rachel and Maddie chose for my birthday this year was ‘Favorite Things’ (originally from the song “These are a Few of my Favorite Things” in Sound of Music). They set up such an elegant and whimsical day for me, I was quite overwhelmed by it all.
I enjoyed biscuits & eggs for my birthday breakfast (the perfect way to start any day). Then, while Rachel began baking cake, I hurried on to a soccer tournament, where I lost my voice cheering for my friends.
On returning home, my sisters surprised me by sweeping me away to the Astor, one of Tianjin’s most historic hotels, for high tea. A whole picnic of delicious snacks had been prepared to accompany our tea: cookie pops, cream-cheese tortilla roll-ups, decadent chocolate and nut mixes, meringue cookies, and maple blondies. They knew that one of my favorite things is tea time (and the snacks that accompany it)- so they were sure to provide me with plenty throughout the day.
Rachel baked a chocolate layer cake filled with Biscoff buttercream for me 🙂
This is the first pound cake I’ve ever made and my first “successful” attempt at the bundt cake-shape. The dense texture of this cake was a much needed change from my usual 3-layer butter cakes. I think the best part of this baking experience was taking photos… finally, a cake that is both delicious and effortlessly beautiful. Bundt cakes are so pretty on their own without much fuss about icing colors, decoration ideas, or touch ups. I totally recommend this recipe if you’re looking for something quick and relatively simple.
<Cake Challenge Series: is a collection of posts which document the cakes I bake each month. More specifically, I have a goal this year to bake at least one (hopefully spectacular) layer cake each month, and photograph/post them here. I hope you enjoy this collection as much as I enjoy baking these delicious desserts!>
Last week, we had a connecting4 meeting over tea and apple streusel bars, the spicy flavor of Michael’s homemade chai tea coupled perfectly with my homemade dessert. I will treasure these summer days with Michael and my lovely sisters.
This break has given me the chance to cook in our new house’s kitchen (at University I don’t really have a great space to work), and I’ve been exploring a bit in terms of drinks and food (Lemonade & Dumplings).
I decided to try out something I first tried four years ago (and have LOVED ever since!): Masala Chai Tea-thank you Ruth Bevis for introducing me to this incredible drink.
For a great recipe, you can reference Simply Recipes for their amazing Chai Tea– I make a few variations as compared to theirs.
I add chilli powder to my chai tea, it gives it a great spicy kick!
First: gather your ingredients, mix the dry ingredients well in a large saucepan and add water. You are going to want to bring the water and spices to a rolling boil for about 10 minutes before moving on to the tea.
Cover the saucepan to bring it to a boil quickly.
Secondly, remove from the heat and let the tea steep for around 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags.
Then, add the milk and brown sugar (or your preferred sweetener). Bring back to a simmer and keep warm til you serve.
Another great tip: Chill the tea after you are done, and serve over ice. It tastes just as good cold!
Serve with baked goods, cake, bars or even savoury food (curry or tandoori chicken?). Rachel made a special treat for us the other day and it was GREAT with the Chai!
(Here’s a preview of it):
Earlier this month, the girls and I enjoyed a small dinner celebration for the start of this blog, Connecting Four. Maddie made her famous chicken skewers (which are actually BakedBree’s famous kabobs), I mixed up a delicious bread dip which we spread on Mom’s homemade French bread toasted in the oven. Jessie contributed with the cake pops which we are still trying to get a hang of… they take a while to master. I think Dad, Mom and Megan felt a little left out but they made up for it with a “special” dinner with Megan at her little IKEA play table. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that Michael showed up half way through the meal on skype, we talked over video chat for a while which was nice.
If you are in the mood for a celebration of your own, here are a few tips to spruce up the party:
1.) As far as food goes, small appetizers such as chips and dip, prunes wrapped in bacon, veggies and dip, and other finger foods (things you can find here!) are great.
2.) Table decoration are always fun to make and we’ve found that paper place mats are awesome! Stop by at a crafts store and you can find paper in any color scheme with any pattern imaginable, I’m talking EASY way to expand your options.
3.)Make sure you have music!
4.) Don’t be afraid to move furniture around, we moved couches, chairs, side tables and desks to finally achieve the ambiance we wanted.
Have a wonderful Monday and find excuses to party with your friends and family this month!
1. Believe it or not I do carry tea bags around in my bag… I’m obsessed with the hot beverage
2. Sweets are definitely my weakness, can’t leave the house without some kind of sweet morsel in my bag…
3. Lovely Vanilla Mint lip shine from Bath and Body Works/Revlon Colorstay Liquid Liner
4. Lots of hair calls for lots of maintenance.
5. Music is a must
6. Desperate weather calls for desperate measures.
7. I can’t leave the house without my journal (I know so middle school girl right?), I like to carry a book with me as well just in case I find myself sitting somewhere bored out of my wits BUT its seldom that I actually pull it out to read (guilty feelings)
8. MUJI pens and pencil case- a definite must!