Good evening, loves!  :)  I hope you had a Sunday that was the complete opposite of mine.  By that, I mean totally relaxing.  ^_^  Oh, and I’m only half-kidding here…

I went grocery shopping (happiness-inducing!) at my favorite Korean grocery store last night after dinner.  I was honestly planning on only buying one or two items, but I ended up buying three bagfuls.  Yes, I am a compulsive buyer… but that doesn’t automatically make me a stupid one, hm?  ;)  Cheapness 4eva!

Goodies galore!  :)  Such as…

fresh persimmons

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orange blossom honey

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pickled plums, though it says apricots in the ingredients list?…

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PANEER!!!  Gosh, I just love this stuff.  :]

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And parts of an old Whole Foods haul…

Awesome-smelling cheese <3

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and dried turkish apricots (to replace my beloved calimyrna figs)

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Breakfast was around 7 AM.  I even had to turn on the light to take the photo… on a weekend?!  O_O

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Peanut Butter Puffins with cherry vanilla granola, dried banana slices, black sesame seeds, and coarse sea salt.  Made delicious with unsweetened almond milk.  :)

My mom just keeps buying PB Puffins.  Okay, I love them and all, but honestly, I’d like to branch out into other cereals…

Lunch was another adventure in my quest to taste different ethnic foods.  Today, we went to a Persian restaurant called Shamshiry.  No pictures of the decor, since the waiters were already staring at us, and I was already pretty uncomfortable, but it is a really tiny place that looks ten times bigger because of a single, completely-mirrored wall.  It was a little strange watching myself eat from my peripheral vision, but who cares about how messy/weird I look when I chew when there’s food to photograph?!

My dad ordered the house salad to start.  Nothing special—just some iceberg lettuce, tomato, olives (blech), red beans (kidney?), and goat cheese, which I stole with some of the greens.  It came with a runny, sour lemon-yogurt dressing.

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I was pretty intimidated when I saw the portion for my dish, the shirin polo, which was “sweet rice” with spices, sugared orange peel, pistachios, and almonds.

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It’s impossible to tell from the photos, but trust me—this was enough to feed a family of four, at least. The sad thing is, the description on the menu made it sound so amazing, but it really wasn’t that good.  The rice was nice and fluffy, but it just wasn’t very well seasoned at all (I expected a TON more spices), and the flavors just didn’t mix well.  Instead of a heavenly combination of flavors, I tasted each one individually, one after another, as I ate it.  The candied orange peels were also much less fragrant and citrus-y than I expected.  :(  At least it looked good…

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Oh, but the crusty rice cracker-like thing (tah digue) was pretty awesome.  :)  So darn crunchy!  I should cook rice in a pot just for this.  ;)  I was eating it in quite a barbaric way (with my hands), and my dad scolded me for it.  Then, he proceeded to do the same and munch and crunch on it just like a cracker.  Mmhmm, I’m just that brilliant!  Also, I can’t believe they actually sell this stuff.  I saw it at the Korean grocery as “scorched rice,” lol.

Perhaps the size of these meals is better reflected in this picture?  Possibly?…

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My dad ordered the mahi kabob (salmon), which came with baghali polo, dill rice with fava beans.  There was salmon there before, I promise.  ;)

I also ordered the a pot of “Persian tea,” which was basically nice, piping-hot, bitter black tea in a jug that came with a cute teacup and tiny straw.  Oh, and sugar cubes.  :)  I never knew such a small amount of tea could be drunk so slowly until today…

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Dinner was a bit of a different story.  We went to a local chain restaurant called Clyde’s, and my dad immediately proclaimed that he was craving junk food.

The phrase “junk food” means different things to different people.  To my friends, it would probably be McDonald’s, Burger King, deep-fried foods—the obviously not-too-healthy foods.  But for a DE-ravaged mind like mine?  I’ve gotten my definitions confused and/or mixed up.

Junk food, to me, once meant carbs.  It once meant dessert and sugar; even my beloved nut butters were stuck under that label!  It meant eggs and creamy sauces and butter and red meat—basically anything that wasn’t a vegetable or fruit.  Actually, if DE deemed a fruit too high in sugar/calories (WTF), it was also considered “junk food.”  Maybe I didn’t call it junk food in my mind, but from the way I was treating those foods, they might as well be as nutritious as a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

I asked my dad what he meant by “junk food.”

Burgers.  Fast food.  Soda.  Deep fried foods… like french fries. I really need french fries today.”

His reply was so simple and damn obvious, and yet somehow, it cleared my mind of the DE fog and pulled me closer to normalcy.  I asked myself, Is this bread “junk food” because it’s white and has “no” nutritional value?

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No.  Nonetheless, I didn’t eat it.  It was cold and tough.  :(

Am I only allowed to drink water and calorie-free drinks?

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No, but I needed a hot drink that night, and peppermint tea sounded good.  *shivers*  Plus, unless they are at room temperature and flat, sodas/sparkling fizzy drinks make my stomach hurt like hell.  They don’t really taste that good in that state either…

Should I order the winter vegetable platter or the jumbo lump crab cake dish?  Did I eat too much meat during the day?  What if the sweet potato gratin it comes with is too cheesy and delicious and I finish the whole thing?  What if there are too many carbs in the veggie platter?

What if what if what if I just ordered what I wanted?

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Don’t get me wrong, the winter vegetable platter sounded delicious (and I could taste acorn squash that was maybe done the right way), but everything about the jumbo lump crab cake dish just sounded perfect.  And it was.  :)

1. Jumbo lump crab cake. Biiig clumps of delicious crabmeat, little to no breading, definitely no mayo, and perfectly seasoned.  Oh, and no food poisoning is a plus!

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2. Chipotle sweet potato gratin. This was coated with a cheesy sauce rather than being smothered in real cheese, but it was certainly better than my first time having “sweet potato” gratin.  100% sweet potatoes, yay!  They were really sweet.  :)

3. Brussels sprouts + blood orange vinaigrette. This was my first time trying brussels sprouts, and they were yummy. I don’t understand why it has the reputation it does?!  I think these were steamed or boiled, and boiled is apparently the yuckiest way of preparing them, but they were good!  The blood orange vinaigrette was a little less citrus-y than I would have liked, but it wasn’t overly sweet, which was nice.  (Still need to buy blood oranges!)

All this while my dad chowed down a giant bacon cheeseburger with fries and a coke.  Is there anyone who thinks that “bacon cheeseburger” means a burger made out of bacon with cheese?

… Didn’t think so.  -_-

The moral of the story is: Not every food is “junk food,” and no junk food is off limits. I will say it: Life is a balancing act.  What if what if what if I just did that?

2010 Goal #3: BALANCE.  BALANCE.  BALANCE. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but so much easier said than done…

Q1: What’s your favorite type of cereal?
Q2: What do you consider “junk food”?
Q3: Do you like brussels sprouts?

Off to… finish my homework!  :D

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KITCHEN APPLIANCES. Excuse the grammar.

No joke.  My (wealthy…) aunt told me that if I didn’t tell her what I wanted for Christmas, she was just going to buy me whatever—as in, the chance of me wanting what she gives is about the same as if a gunshot fired into the hood of a car would start the engine.  I got that straight from my bio textbook, by the way (they’re not crazy, they’re just talking about mutations).

So I looked on my “things to tell people to get if they want to” list.  Lo and behold, the first thing I saw was “blender“.  Why do I want a blender?  Well, my current blender is pretty old (10+ years), so I kind of wanted a more modern one.  I gawk at all the wonderful creations various lucky bloggers have concocted using their legendary Vita-Mixes—but of course, that’s something that I’m not willing to invest in.  ~$400 for a blender?  Eh.  That’s almost the same price as the camera I wanted!  i.e. No thanks!  The cheapo in me would cry if I imposed that purchase on myself or anyone else.  (Of course, it would be a whole ‘nother story if I got it for free.  Santa.  I’m looking at you.)

But anyway.  I asked for a “good” blender, whatever that means.  I just want to be able to successfully blend nut butter, hummus, pie crusts, etc., which my current blender fails at.  No clumps allowed!

I know that normal girls my age would ask for money, or gift cards, or CDs, as most of my friends do, but I think it’s already been established that I’m just a bit out of the norm.  I mean, I like going clothes shopping, but I don’t want my aunt to buy me clothes anymore.  Okay, it worked when I was like, 5, but last year she bought me this bright blue bathrobe with red hearts on it… and I shall say no more.  ._.

Anyway… here’s the EXCITING part of Friday’s grocery haul.  I snagged a packet of Justin’s honey almond butter.  I was going for the maple, but they didn’t have it in stock :(

Hopefully, this will live up to all the hype this brand has gotten!

Some whole wheat pastry flour and grain-sweetened chocolate chips for holiday baking :]

And finally, the bar stash :D

* spooky s’mores Zbar (x3)
* cashew acai protect thinkFruit
* apricot goji PranaBar (almond butter is ingredient #2!  yesss!)
* chocolate orange Jocalat
* lemon, vanilla & cashew Clif Nectar (my FAVORITE—so sad that it was discontinued!)

I took a risk with the thinkFruit. I tried a chunky peanut butter thinkThin bar before, and it was straight up nasty. Disgusting protein flavor, blech.  Hopefully, the thinkFruit bar will be palatable without the weird protein ingredients…

Lunch on Saturday was once again at the Eiffel Tower Café.  :]  I have pictures this time!

Isn’t it adorable?  Notice the little plate in the corner of the first pic—they have those hanging all around.  They also have all sorts of Christmas decorations and cute ornaments up.  It’s a really, really, really small place—very cozy.  :]

Today, I got the l’omelette du jour, which was, I presume, a 3-egg bundle of yellow joy with smoked salmon, shiitake mushrooms, and gruyère cheese.  It came with a perfectly dressed side salad of mixed greens, carrot ribbons, and onions.  The oil-vinegar dressing they used was awesome.  It made the veggies taste mysteriously delicious—maybe the olive oil?

But anyway.  Omelet talk: YUM.  Usually, the omelets at other restaurants are huge and stuffed to the brim with meat and veggies and oozing with cheese (the last one isn’t so bad, hehe), but I definitely prefer the French-style omelet.  It’s perfectly buttery, fluffy, and not stuffed to the brim.  I love how the eggs are the star of the dish and not just a canvas for the other mishmash of things the omelet is stuffed with.  Fluffy eggy goodness—what could be better?  :]  My palate deviates towards two textures: mushy and fluffy.  Mmmmm.

Ah, the fancy name of the dessert escapes me.  :/  In more barbaric terms, this was anise-spiced cream (?) sandwiched between two slices of walnut-studded cake, the top layer dusted with powdered sugar.  It was delicious—fluffy cake + crunchy walnuts and light, delicious cream :]  It was almost like a strangely-shaped sponge cake roll!  Unfortunately, I was the only one who liked it.  My dad can’t stand spices, and I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  ;)  Oh well—more for me!

Oh, and thank you guys for the photography compliments… but just looking at the pictures from the restaurant make me sad.  :(  They just fail.

AND OMG.  ELEVEN DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!!!  Whoooo-hooo!  :D  Our Christmas “tradition” was always to open presents from family on Christmas Eve, and wait till Christmas morning to open the gifts from Santa.  ;)  I think it is/was a lot more fun this way!  Opening presents at night = candles, fire, and bright Christmas tree lights = so much more warming, cozy, etc. than opening them in the daytime!  What are your holiday traditions?

I’ll see you all after this dreaded.week of horror. x__x  Good-bye my loves!

I’ve found the little gem of my town. Though I’d love to give their people some marketing advice… like a better website and a menu without the fancy font…

Anyhoo, situated in a remote corner of old town Leesburg is a quaint, wonderful little restaurant called the Eiffel Tower Café.  It was rated 4 stars on Yelp!, so I decided to give it a go, even though it had only been reviewed by five people.  Risky move, but I’m so glad I tried it.  My impressions, in order:

1. What a lame name.

2. Uh, it’s THAT small?!  (It was a small, and I mean teeny-tiny, white building that looks like it was built in the 18th century, which it probably was).

3. … Where’s the entrance?  (I walked up to a door, which was not really a door, and then I saw the menu, and then I went in that direction… and found the door.)

The decor inside was really, really, really cute.  There were framed photos and paintings of France on the walls, along with the most adorable miniature pots and tiny porcelain plates with pictures on them.  :)  “European” was my dad’s comment, though I can’t affirm nor deny that since I’ve never been to Europe.  The two servers were definitely European, though—one spoke French (and was heard conversing in pretty French with an old lady), and one had a British accent!  She had just flown back from London the day before, apparently.  I looove me some British accents <3  It was so cozy and completely empty when we went inside, so it was, predictably, very, very quiet.

I’m sorry I forgot to take a picture of the delicious innards to show you guys.  :/  I was pretty self-conscious about taking pictures—I mean, since no one else was there, I didn’t want to look like a weirdo/tourist taking too many pictures!  :P I’ll be sure to next time, though, so the adorableness can be seen x)

To start, we were served some lovely, fresh, warm French baguette.  Oh my Lord, this was so. good.  Perfectly crunchy crumb, followed immediately by a doughy white interior.  Just plain breadiness.  I love, love, love breads like this.  And get this—when I asked to bag the leftover pieces, they gave me a whole new baguette wrapped in foil!  How nice is that?!

The menu was small, as can be seen by the website, but there were a lot of specials—at least four each for appetizers and entrées.  There was a tilapia dish with parmesan risotto that sounded really good, but I opted for the seafood crêpe (la crêpe du jour), which was filled with sea bass and shrimp:

Nomnomnom. I ate the whole thing.  I don’t know what exactly was in the sauce that was poured on top (cream, probably), but it invoked major drooling.  This was the best crêpe that I’ve ever had.  Granted, I’ve only had one other crêpe before, but this blows that first one out of the water by a long shot.  The sea bass and shrimp were perfectly seasoned and not overly salty (unlike *cough*); fishy in a good way, if that makes sense at all.  The filling would’ve tasted amazing by itself, but being wrapped in a golden, lightly sweet, charred-edge crêpe took the delicious factor to a whole ‘nother level. Oh… and the vegetables were still slightly crunchy, not limp and lifeless! :)

My dad also ordered a special, the pan-seared calimari:

Pan-seared calimari + thin tomato sauce, sauteed spinach, couscous.

And you’d be crazy if you thought I didn’t have at least a bite or five of this.  ;)  (don’t worry, we traded :P)  YUMYUMYUM.  Squid is one of the extremely chewy foods that I really enjoy, and the tomato sauce was light and did not resemble the dreaded marinara sauce in the least.  This was my first time trying couscous, too, and I give it a thumbs-up :)  They’re like cute little spheres of joy!

My dad liked this place, and that’s very rare—he’s tolerant of a lot of different types of food, but rarely does he actually like a restaurant/food, especially Western food!  And the price, at least for lunch, was just right.  Our dishes were $11-$12, and they even had a deal for a $16.95 (or .75?) three-course lunch!  I totally would’ve opted for that, since their appetizers sounded pretty damn tasty (cream of butternut squash soup?  shiitake mushrooms + chicken mousse + truffle oil?!?!), but I wasn’t very hungry and I didn’t want to waste money.  :|  I’ll definitely get that next time, though—that’s like, the equivalent of one entrée at the average restaurant!

This place gets five stars from me, no questions asked.  The service was great (though there were only two of us…) and the people were amiable, the atmosphere was relaxing, the food was excellent—unpretentious and simplistic—and the prices were just right.  I’ll be happy to be a regular patron of this place!  :)

After lunch, I got my hair (bangs especially!) trimmed and re-layered, and then we went to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to get some goodies!  :)  Goodies like goat’s milk yogurt,

Baaaabaaa.  Wait, no.  Mehhhhmehhhhh.

cranberry chèvre (!!!)


satisfied cravings for seasonal produce with a honeycrisp apple + a jewel sweet potato (NON-yellow!  ha!)


indulged a teensy bit more with pecan pralines, which I cannot believe I never had before.  This is my new crack, yo.  What’s yours?

annnd my favorite almond, pumpkin, and sunflower seed butters.  I really want to make my own pumpkin butter, because although TJ’s is good, it’s a little too sweet for me.  I was just a little ecstatic to get my buttahs back—I desperately needed something to top my leftover kabocha!  ;)


After that, things slowly went downhill.  I had to go back to my mom’s house and “entertain” people at the huge, fantabulous party that she and my stepfather were throwing.  Not.  Cool.  First of all, I’m a terrible conversation starter.  Second of all, we were totally unprepared for hosting a bunch of teenagers.  Third, no one was willing to talk.  Can you see where the problem is?  Bad conversation starter?  No one willing to talk?  Haven’t seen in each other since the last Asian party years ago?  UTTER AWKWARDNESS! IN THE WORKS???

I rest my case.

To my relief, I found a DVD for American Gangster hidden away in a cabinet, and we ended up watching that the entire remainder of the time.  I’m terrible, I know, but I must say—it was pretty entertaining.  Actually, I loved it.  :D  We can watch movies in silence, oh yes we can, because watching in silence is not completely AWKWARD! (But don’t tell the Blockbuster people.  The DVD was rented looong ago… and I don’t know why we never returned it o__o)  There’s goes my career as a hostess.  Shattered dreams right there.

What do you do in awkward situations?  How do YOU entertain silent guests?

Giveaways galore:
Be sure to check out Chocolate-Covered Katie’s awesome giveaway! Love me some coconuts. :]  And for cookies, head on to Peanut Butter and Jenny~ And for gorgeous matcha tea, enter to win at Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

Okay readers, I bid you a SUPER AWKWARD! toodaloo :)

After Thanksgiving, the air of the season jumps straight to Christmas.  I’m talking about trading pumpkin pie yogurt for jingly bells and white snow.  To be honest, I’d rather have the former… (Why, Stonyfield?  Why?!)  Jingly bells and white snow are nice and everything, but I can’t forgo the fact that even crueler weather is on the way.  o__o  I need to up my lotion and nut butter intake to make sure I keep crackly skin to a minimum.  Bleh.  Let’s not forget the midyear exams that will shortly follow winter break too… ><

What’s your (least) favorite part of winter? Holidays.  Angels.  My birthday.  :)  Cold.  Wind.  Midterms.  :(

But it’s not winter yet!  And today was the first day of “fall” break (aka 4.5 days of food food FOOD!), so I’m in a particularly good mood right now—cutting off any and all negativity!  :)

Yesterday afternoon, I went to my favorite Korean grocery store to buy only the foods that I needed the most in order to save money.  … Psh, no.  What kind of food-lover-nerd does that?  I mean, I spend more on food than clothes, and I think that grocery shopping trumps clothes shopping by a long shot, even though I enjoy both.  Yes, my friends think I’m insane, but what gives?  I can’t deny the truth, or else that would really count as insanity… :P

Ze haul was quite enormous, so I won’t post everything.  I did, however, buy two kabocha squashes for the pie I’ll be making for my family today.  I’m a little nervous—this is my first time baking a pie!  o_o  I’m modifying the spice-kissed pumpkin pie recipe from 101 Cookbooks and partially winging the crust, so I’ll post about how much of a failure my pie was after I make it/we eat it.  ;)

A pair of delicious kabocha lovers… :*

Some whole spices (cinnamon + cloves) for grinding—

My first time purchasing whole spices.

Oh, and I finally found chia seeds!!!  I was so excited—it seems like the entire blogiverse has eaten these teeny babies in some form or another (chia pudding, chia cookies, etc.), but I never had the chance to try them.  UNTIL NOW!  Muahaha, I can’t WAIT to use these.  :D  Suggestions, anyone? Gimme the gold~

Chia chia come to mama…

And I restocked on my beloved MSG-free furikake and black sesame seeds!

Mostly shaved bonito flakes.  :D

Good for my hair, I hear?

Ohhh… and I bought another box of dried persimmons. Man I love these things—so sweet, fleshy, and delicious!  They’re absolutely my favorite dried fruit, beating out apricots by just a smidgen.  Seriously unique texture.  Unlike most dried fruits, the innards aren’t “chewy,” but rather, soft and melt-in-your-mouth.  It’s amazing—I encourage anyone who has the tiniest appreciation for anything tasty to give one of these a shot.  :D

Jewels of autumn.

And they’re even lovelier when they have a plentiful amount of sugary snow crystals…

I had a speedy snack after my long journey in food heaven: Fage greek yogurt, pumpkin purée, TJ’s pumpkin butter, cinnamon, peanuts, and the last of the Bear Naked Chocolate Delight granola. ‘Twas love, but now I need more granola.  :|

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I can’t exactly talk about my Thanksgiving traditions, because in all honesty, we don’t really have any.  It’s basically just turkey + Chinese sides + mashed potatoes, year after year (I mean, this is my first time making pie, after all).  Actually, we mostly just go to parties… So that’s why you should tell me: what are your Thanksgiving traditions?

As for the post title, I’d like to give 100% thanks to my family, my friends, the Lord and the many ways He has blessed me, and more recently—you guys!!!  The blogger community!  Blogging has been so much fun this month, and hopefully, it’ll continue to serve as an outlet for my creativity and strange humor, as well as a chronicle of my life and every delicious bite that enters my mouth.  I’ll be salivating a lot for sure for the next four days… ;)