Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Happy New Year everyone!

I'm currently at home practicing away for my upcoming auditions, so it's not very festive around these parts, but I hope that you are all celebrating/enjoying the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 with your loved ones! The years that really stick in my mind are 2008 and 2012 because they were my graduating years, and it looks like 2014 is also going to (hopefully) be joining the ranks of the 'memorable' years!  Already almost done with my Master of Music degree...  I can't believe it!  haha but I am so excited to see what 2014 has in store for me and my loved ones  =D

Last year, I made a huge list of the year's highlights and what I was thankful for, so I considered doing that again, but I decided that I am thankful for much of the same things!  It's not that I don't think they are less important or that I'm less thankful, but let's try something new for this year, yeah?  

So!  we're going to be ending the year with a look at the December Photo Project!  DPP is where you take a photo every day of December, and I'm actually rather surprised/proud that I stuck with it for the whole month!  I tend to get bored with things quickly and don't end up sticking with things, but I guess this one kept my interest for the whole month! who would've thought...  haha   
so here is the month of December in pictures! and you can also see all of them on my Instagram feed here!
^^^Day 1 and 2!  My 5 year old student wrote that on the board for me, and it melted my heart!  love them so.  then, on the second day of Christmas, I mean December, I noticed that I was wearing Christmas colors, and had to snap the picture!  haha

^^^Day 3-8! Then, I wanted to put this together to show the strange weather that we deal with in Houston. Day 3 was 79 degrees and sunny outside (in December!), then day 5 was 40 degrees.. and then by day 6-7, it was all of a sudden fall weather!  we had fall colors and leaves and everything!  Day 4, I just took a photo of my life savers while dealing with bruised tendon.. Then, on day 8 (I know the order is switched here,,,) my students performed on the Shepherd Preparatory Program Recital, and I was soooo proud!!!

^^^Day 9 marked the beginning of what I fondly remember as 'hell week', but it was ok because we had a little dance break  =)  love him so.

^^^Day 10...  yup. hell week in full force..

^^^Day 11. I ran across this in the Rice parking lot, and was SO excited!  WHAT?! there's a fellow Nebraskan at Rice?!  who are you and what are you doing here! not to be creepy, but Nebraska and Nebraskans will always have a special place in my heart!

^^^Day 12-14.  Had an awesome time performing Beethoven Piano Trio Op. 70 No.2 and Beethoven Sonata for Piano and Violin #1 with these lovelies!  and day 14 is our apartment getting a little festive  ;)

^^^Day 15.  a little Christmas date with the boy  <3

^^^Day 16-17. Hell week passed, and celebrating with a girl's night in (first time making kettle corn from scratch!) and a double date!  my first gingerbread house experience ever with our favorite double date couple documented here!

^^^Day 18-19.  I'm HOME!!!!!! love Seattle.  and my parents had a new toy in the kitchen!  I wish I could take you back to Houston with me, little Vitamix...

^^^Day 20!  SNOW DAY!!!  First snow of the year!  you can check out more pictures of my little snow dog here.
^^^Day 21-24.  Just hanging out with my little man, my mommy (with her exercise hoop!), freaking out about my doctoral auditions happening in exactly a week! (OMG!! AHHHH!!  ok, breathe...), and hanging out at mommy's clinic in the children's section!

 ^^^Day 25-27.  Merry Christmas!!!  Christmas puppy, foggy walk, and a jeweled web discovered on our walk  =)

^^^Day 28-29.  Enjoying the last couple of days with the Vitamix and boxes and boxes of fruits we always have at home!  we really go through a couple of boxes of fruits a week as a family..  and then a mommy daughter date!!  Learned that if I'm going to invest in any fashion related accessories, it should be in purses, shoes, and outerwear (in mommy's opinion).  and I think I agree because they are the ones that last the longest.  For example, I use a leather purse mommy got when she was my age!  and because she took such a good care of it, it's still in amazing shape!  She also has a coat daddy got her when they first got married, and she still wears it!  So these are items worth investing in.  I'm looking forward to building my own collection of purses, shoes, and outerwear that I can potentially pass down to my own daughter in the future!  =D

^^^Day 30-31.  Spending some more time with the little man, who is about 70-80 years old in 'human years' but still acts like a puppy.  gonna miss this handsome lil chap so much when I leave tomorrow! sniffle... but it's been a fun 2 weeks!

So that's it for the December Photo Project!  It's kind of fun looking back at how the month has been documented.  I said it last year too, but I'm so glad that I'm documenting these times through this blog and instagram because it's so fun to look back and remember the things that would have otherwise been forgotten once in awhile  =) 

Thanks for being on this journey with me, and I hope you all have a wonderful start to this new year!
Much love,

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My First Gingerbread House and Double Dates!

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying the holidays so far!  Before we all left Houston, Amulet & Chris and David & I got together for a little gingerbread house making!  
I have actually never made a gingerbread house before, so I thought we had to make everything from scratch (which would have been soo much work), but thankfully, Trader Joe's came to the rescue and all we had to do was play Lego!  so convenient!  and having two musicians and two engineers (or more importantly, boys) in the mix meant that the gingerbread house decorations became quite creative in the process  ;)

So here is the final product, complete with little sugar people in all sorts of places!

and the process!  with a whole lot of puppies! the best way to do just about anything in our opinion!

and some detail shots  ;)

I have to say, I did want to try eating it, you know, just to see if it actually tasted good, but once you finish the house, I found that it's pretty difficult to put a bite mark in it  haha!  We all left for our respective homes for break pretty soon thereafter, so I'm not sure if it's still standing all by its lonesome at our apartment or not... I guess I'll find out soon enough when I go back!

So that was one of our last double dates together, but here are a couple of others that happened during the month of December.
Have you guys seen that episode in 'How I met Your Mother' where Lilly and Marshall try to find a couple so they can have 'couple friends' to hang out with?  We totally get it now.  Since Amulet and I are room mates, it's kind of like we have a built-in double date couple, and it's been so nice!  no 3rd wheels here!  So we've been taking full advantage of the situation and visiting different eateries around Houston together!

On one of our double dates, David and I introduced Amulet and Chris to one of our favorite udon places in Houston--Nippon!  We've been there before, as seen here, and it's just the best place to visit on a chilly Houston evening! 

Another place we visited was an Asian fusion restaurant/bar/lounge called Ambrosia.  Amulet and Chris discovered it tucked away in a little neighborhood, so we went to go try it together.  They are definitely the more adventurous of the two couples in terms of eating out--David and I are more of a stay-in-and-cook kind of a couple--so it's been fun to expand our Houston eatery repertoire  ;)

It was such a cool little tapas kind of a place with awesome atmosphere and really interesting dishes, and we had a lot of fun ordering a bunch of different dishes and sharing.  They were all really delicious, though some are quite spicy, so make sure to ask the waiter about the spicyness level! It was a really fun double date, but it would also be a wonderful date spot, so gentlemen, if you are looking for somewhere to take your lady in Houston, give this one a shot  ;)

I can't wait for all four of us to be back in Houston for some more double dating action soon  ;)

Happy rest of the holiday season, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying today with your loved ones!  =D
we opened presents, and then just hung around the house watching TV and movies, and just enjoying being together all day.  A completely relaxing day that we all craved  ;)

I leave you with these pictures of our festive little Christmaspuppy McKinley man! his birthday is December 24th, so we consider that to be close enough ;) haha   Also, that sweater is actually mine--yup we are the same size apparently  haha

Merry Christmas everyone!!
lots of love from our house to yours!

Friday, December 20, 2013

First Snow at Home!!

Hello everyone,

I'm back! yes, after about 2 weeks absence... but I have finally recuperated from the finals week!  I know, I know. I was so excited that school was over, but what I didn't quite realize was that the last week of classes was super easy compared to the 'finals' week in which I had only 1 true 'final'.  I mean, I thought it would be a breeze.  but the 'finals' week.. it was truly hell on wheels that rolled through Shepherd School of Music and left much devastation in its wake... different performances every single day...  eek, I can't even think about that week without having a bit of a heart attack, so let's not think back shall we..?

On a much happier note, I'm at home!!  HOME SWEET HOME!  why did I ever want to leave it, I have no idea.  ahhh  home...  so happy to be back with my parents, see my cousin, and of course be with my McKinley baby!  and today, Seattle gifted us with a nice sprinkle of snow (about quarter of an inch), which made the schools have late start (I know, those of us from Nebraska can't help but laugh at the snow phobia here), and because I'm still in central time, I was up and out the door with McKinley man to frolic around in the fresh snow before it had a chance to be all mucked up!  my little snowdog, how I love him so.

and right in front of our house, we discovered a little snow angel, courtesy of a little neighbor person  =)  I managed to snap a picture right before McKinley ran into it and left paw prints all over the little angel  haha

It was pretty freezing, but I was pretty giddy about the snow, and so was little man obviously, so we took a long walk around the neighborhood.

Once in awhile, we stopped so that I could take some pictures like these...

and McKinley would get really impatient and go round and round me nonstop.  
See? he's like, 'mom, let's go, I'm ready!'
and all of those paw prints are McKinley's  haha

I hope you are all having a wonderful Friday!  it's almost the weekend, yay! and stay warm out there if you are in the snowy climate like we are!  =)

Thanks for stopping by~

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Hello everyone!

I hope you have all been having a wonderful week!  It's the last week of school at Rice and AAHHH I can't wait for winter break!!!  XD
I've been in school for 18 straight years now...?  oofda.  that's a long time.  and I swear, every year, my excitement for the upcoming break becomes greater and greater.  Also, the older I get, the more I look forward to going home to see my mommy and daddy  =)   Does that happen to you guys? I went to a boarding school for high school so I've really been away from home for a long time now, and I've been noticing that I get more homesick every year.  I think that's normal though,, maybe? haha  and I never had homesickness when I was younger!

Anyway, this winter, there's more exciting stuff happening! I'm applying for my doctorate degree, so lots of auditions are going to be happening, AND the Meadowlarks are reuniting again in the East Coast!  going to be so exciting  =)   for more info, check out our blog here!

For Throwback Thursday, I thought I'd share some of the pictures from my time in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago. I got back from that trip, and I totally forgot to do a post on it, so here it goes!

The first thing I noticed?  LEAVES!!! It was actually fall there (unlike Houston, which was still in full summer mode at the time) and there were so many vibrant colors everywhere!  beautiful.

yay fall!!!!

Then, right away, the Meadowlarks got together, rehearsed for an hour, and had a coaching with Mr. Salaff. what a guy!  we really loved working with him, chatting with him, and getting to know him a little.  Can't wait to work with him again!

Then, of course, we had to have food.  Barrios and the MELT.  both were incredible, and made me wish I had more than 2 days there to fully enjoy Cleveland with my larks!

Luna bakery was awesome.  if you go to Cleveland, we highly recommend their cupcakes.  and that's saying a lot because I'm not usually a cupcake fan  haha

More lark photos!

I can't wait to see these goofs again soon!  January can't come fast enough  ;)
Have a wonderful rest of the week everyone!
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Stuffed Turkey Weekend

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!
We ate, then ate some more, then,,, ate again!  haha.  It was a wonderful weekend full of good food and amazing company.
On Thanksgiving day, we joined a huge group of friends for an incredible dinner at Miran's apartment (she has a really cute blog too! you guys should all go check it out!)  We know how much work it takes to host a Thanksgiving dinner because we hosted one last year, and they really did an amazing job. It was soo good!! and there was so much food!  I don't actually have a lot of pictures from it because,,, I got distracted by the food.  I mean, seriously, the food.   They even had homemade ice cream.   Need I say more?  haha

The company was really awesome as well.  I don't have pictures, like I said, but Satoko and I did end up snapping this photo together  =)   Something was really funny at the time, obviously  haha  We've been playing together for the past year (she's an amazing pianist!) and I feel so blessed to have gotten to know her and have had the chance to play with her!

Sadly, I don't have pictures with the hosts, or with anyone else at the party... le sigh...  but I'm sure some photos will be going up on Miran's blog soon  =)

some Thanksgiving selfies with my guy.  on the way to his lab.  because he had to work on Thanksgiving.. such a hard worker that one! 

We didn't participate in Black Friday madness..  actually, I have never participated in Black Friday madness..  I know, what girl hasn't participated in it at least once, right?  but yup, every year, it rolls around, and I just don't feel like going shopping!  Don't get me wrong, I love shopping as much as the next girl when I have something I want to buy, but it seems the need/want to go shopping never lines up with Black Friday.. Perhaps next year?  haha

Anyway, after spending a productive Friday at home, David and I hosted a Ballroom movie night on Saturday!   we basically ate a lot of food and watched a lot of Youtube videos (4 hours of it to be exact), laughed until our abs hurt (who said ballroom dancers don't have humor?), and just really enjoyed being in one another's company!

some snacks.  gotta make up the calories lost while laughing.  and the watermelon is there because we felt like we had to have 1 healthy snack,, being dancers and all...  haha  There was a lot more food later (like pies, cakes, awesome smoked salmon appetizer, etc, but again, once the party started rolling, I forgot about my camera until the very end when we took the group photo above...)

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend, and I feel so blessed beyond words to be able to enjoy amazing foods (so thankful for food  haha) with the incredible people in my life  =)

Oh, and are you guys participating in the December Photo Project/Challenge?  There are multiple ones floating around, but the gist of it is that you take a photo every day for December.  I think it would be a good way to document the important/mundane aspects of my life in December, and see if I can stick with it for a whole month.  I probably will forget a day or two here and there, but I'm going to try!
Here is the first photo of the month  =)

My 5 year old student wrote this for me on the board on Sunday.   it melted my heart.  seriously.  loving the backwards 'y', the sweetness of the gesture, and the time I get to spend with such a spunky, energetic, but overall extremely sweet little human being.  =)

I hope you all have a wonderful week, and thanks for stopping by!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!
I hope you are all spending time today with your loved ones!  I am so thankful for so many things, including my loving family, my wonderful friends all over the world, and for the chance to pursue my dreams.  So blessed  =)

I wish I could be spending time with my family, but Rice had school yesterday (I know,,, classes the day before Thanksgiving!  so sad..) so it wasn't really possible for me to go back home, but that's ok because we're going to spend the day with friends!!   =D

Last year, we had an epic Thanksgiving-Turduckenhen-orphanage at my apartment for those of us who were 'orphaned' during Thanksgiving. This year, however, David and I have been invited to a Thanksgiving at my friend Miran's place, so we're not going to be Turduckenhen-ing this year.  

So we've been going back and forth on what to bring...

we've made multiple loaves of cranberry-sunflower seed breads to see if that's something we wanted to bring...
we even got a Dutch oven (which we are absolutely LOVING!) so we could bake this beautifully golden crust on the bread!

but it actually didn't make the cut... so no bread for the party..

in the end, we decided on spinach artichoke dip!! 
we made it a couple of nights ago while doing homework, and we finished it between the two of us.  yup. consumed the whole thing.  in like 5 minutes.   so yup.  it made the cut and it's going to come with us to the party!

I'm so excited for the dinner with friends, and I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  =D

Friday, November 15, 2013

Playin' Hooky

hello everyone!

sometimes, playing hooky can be good for the soul.
especially if you end up going on an impromptu date with your guy for some udon and ramen at Nippon on a chilly (finally!) autumn night instead.

as mentioned before, my life is pretty regimented here (practice, rehearse, eat, teach, exercise, sleep...) so it was really quite liberating to play hooky from our exercise block and do something spontaneous  =)

and don't worry, we made up for it by exercising later that night.  can't go tooo crazy  haha   =p

have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cream Puff recipe!

Hello everyone!

Once upon a time, I went to a french cafe with a friend, and there I saw the most delicious looking eclairs ever!  When I got home, I mentioned how amazing looking they were to David, and that is how we ended up baking eclairs and cream puffs a grand total of 4 times in the next 3 weeks.
It all began with David saying, "let's make it!  it's not that hard I've made it once before", so that night, we had a little midnight baking session thinking that it would be a breeze.

Sadly, our midnight baking session didn't turn out so well... and here is the breakdown of our cream puff adventures:
the first attempt?  failure. on both the outer shell and the filling  (we used cream cheese frosting.  don't do it)
the second attempt?  failure. on both accounts again (used pudding mixture packet. don't do it)
the third attempt?  with the addition of the stand mixer from our anniversary presents, the shell dough was a success, but the lack of piping skill on my part made them look rather interesting.  Annie, one of my friends who is also very into baking gave us a cream filling recipe, and it was exactly what we were looking for!
the fourth attempt?  success!

The eclairs are harder to pipe than the puffs for me, and while some of them did turn out, we like the bite-sized-ness of the puffs anyway, so we're just going to stick with those..  haha
The recipe for the shell has been adapted from Alton Brown's show 'Good Eats', and the recipe for the cream is adapted from the recipe my friend Annie gave us!

So for these cream puffs, you'll need...
1 cup water
6 tbs butter
pinch of salt
1 tbs sugar
5 3/4 oz flour
3 whole eggs + 3 egg whites

350 ml whole milk
150 ml double cream
75 g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 3 egg yolks
40 g flour

I would recommend making the filling first because it has to cool, so let's start with that!

Cream Filling Recipe
1.  Pour milk and cream into a saucepan with 1 tbs of sugar and the vanilla extract.  slowly bring to boil then turn off the heat.

2.  In a big bowl (or in your mixer) beat 1 egg, 3 egg yolks, and remaining sugar until pale and creamy.

3.  Sift a third of the flour into the bowl and whisk until well incorporated, and then do the same (twice more) with rest of the flour.

4.  Take the milk/cream mixture and pour a third onto the egg mixture, beating well.  gradually pour rest of the milk and whisk continuously.  We were afraid that we would have cooked egg happening because the milk/cream mixture was so hot, but I guess if you whisk furiously, they don't have a chance to become cooked?  anyway, this worked, and we did not have cooked eggs in our cream!

5.  Return mixture to pan, whisking.  simmer for 3-4 min, continuously whisking (we used a stick blender) until smooth and thick.

6.  Pour into a bowl, then refrigerate until the shells are ready to be filled!

Now, onto making the shell portion of the cream puff!
Shell Recipe

1.  Preheat your oven to 375.
2.  Boil 1 cup of water and 6 tbs of butter.  Add a pinch of salt, sugar, and 5 3/4 oz of flour to the boiling water/butter and mix.  Lower the heat, and keep working the dough until it is dry to the touch.

3. Move the dough to mixer and leave it until you can touch comfortably.  With the mixer on, add 3 eggs and 3 whites slowly one at a time.

4.  You'll know the dough is ready to be piped when it makes a nice 'v' shape off of the mixer attachment.  This picture was taken the first time we used the mixer, and David's face really conveys our excitement at having gotten an actual 'v' from the dough. haha.  Before we had the mixer, the best we ever got was a sad looking 'w'..

5.  Now it's time to pipe the dough!  you can be all fancy and use a piping bag, or if you're like us and do not own one of those, just use a ziploc bag!  Just pipe a little Hershey Kiss looking blobs on your baking sheet, and then with a wet finger, flatten out the little tips so you get a nice rounded puff in the end  =)

6.  Once your oven has preheated to 375, put the puffs in the oven and increase the temperature to 425.  Bake for 15 min, then turn heat down to 350 and bake for another 10 min.

7.  Once the 25 minutes is up, take them out, and pierce each of them with a knife.  This lets out the steam and keeps them crisp and puffy!

8. Once the puffs have cooled (the cream should also be cool by now) fill the puffs and you're done!

It's a bit labor intensive, but was a huge hit at the reception, so I'm sure we'll be making it again.. perhaps for our Thanksgiving party?  ;)
I hope you give this little puffy delight a go, and let me know how you like them!
Thanks for stopping by!