International Night

28 Dec

For some reason, my house always seems to be filled with people from all parts of the world. Don’t get me wrong though, I love it! Having such a diverse group of friends and neighbors has definitely taught my family so much about culture, travel, and of course, food. Last night, my brother Andy invited two of his Brazilian friends over, and a Mexican friend as well. We also had a few girls over from Peru! It was funny to listen to all of the different languages and learn that everyone had their own version of the food we were making in their country.

Before I begin, I just have to share this picture of my me and my sisters. This is right after church, so we are kind of dressed up.

Had to show off my new shoes 😉 Too bad they were “3 hour shoes” as my mom likes to say. My feet were killing by the end of church!We came home to my brothers and their friends eating fresh ceviche, tostadas, and some interesting desserts. After we all got changed, we got started on dinner–arroz con pollo and homemade tamales. I have been DREAMING of my mom’s tamales since I’ve been at school, and it was on my list of foods I had to have when I was home.

First, the chicken has to be browned. There are a ton of onions and garlic in there, along with many herbs and spices.

Some mixture of blended cilantro in also added and simmered down. While that was working away, we got to work on the tamales.

This is the corn masa made with homemade chicken stock. It can also be made with hot water, but the flavor is not nearly as good as the chicken stock. I swear I could eat this whole thing just as it is.

We made an awesome filling of shredded chicken and caramelized red onion.

Inside of a corn husk, you lay a little masa and a bit of the chicken. You top it off with more masa, fold it up, and tie is it together.

The tamales are in the green pot and they have to steam for one hour. The arroz con pollo is in the other huge pot.

We started with a round of arroz while the tamales were steaming. Somehow, when the tamales were finally done I didn’t take a picture of the two I ate. But they were incredible! Just as good as I remembered. Probably even better, especially when doused in hot sauce. I’ll definitely take pictures of them today when I have some leftovers for lunch 🙂

Breakfast today was a lovely bowl of pumpkin oats.

For some reason, since school I’ve liked microwave oats more than stove oats. So weird because I was obsessed with stove-top oats last year! The only downfall is the dirty rims on the sides of the bowl. I topped my oats with some pumpkin bread, raisins, and peanut butter. So good.

I’m off to clean my room (my suitcase basically threw up everywhere…), work out (gym or run in the neighborhood then yoga?), and see what’s up for the day. I predict many fights about which sibling gets to use the car today…it’s already started.


Christmas Eve & Day

27 Dec

After a sad morning on Christmas Eve, my family headed over to our friend’s house for our annual Christmas brunch. Well, sometimes we have a Thanksgiving brunch, but we weren’t all together this year. The spread is always the same, and it is always so delicious.

Fresh fruit with a yogurt-sour cream sauce.

Homemade quiches and the BEST creme brulee French toast. Oh man, I look forward to this every year!

Blinis with cottage cheese and strawberry sauce.

I think my family just kind of lounged around for the rest of the day, and prepared ourselves for Christmas day. But of course, we had a delicious Christmas Eve dinner planned. Somehow, I didn’t take pictures of most of the end products–oops! I think my camera had died or something. Or maybe I just got a little lazy 😛 But on the menu–mustard-dill salmon, lemon risotto, green salad, and roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

Salmon, my true love! I missed my Seattle salmon while I was away.

The mustard-dill sauce. It is so good, I love it.

Stirring that risotto…I swear I almost got a blister from doing this 🙂

And sadly, that’s all of the dinner photos I have. Luckily, I took many pictures of dessert. It’s a tradition for us to have Peruvian hot chocolate often throughout the holidays. Peruvian hot chocolate is the best. Straight from Peru, we get these bars of chocolate that are 100% cocoa. They are incredibly bitter if you eat them plain, but when you add milk, sugar, and a touch of cinnamon it becomes a heavenly, thick drink that warms you right through.

Grace distributing the goodness 🙂

I love our Peruvian mugs. Years ago, when my family stayed at my Grandpa’s farm in Peru, we often visited a nearby orphanage and played with all of the kids. When we left, they made us these mugs. A few of them are personalized with our names. I just love the drips that go down the side.

After dessert, we had some fun singing songs while my brother played piano.

Yes, my brother’s long hair rivals his sisters hair.

Whew, long post but we still have Christmas day!

We came down the stairs to this lovely view. We told my parents to get creative with present wrapping this year, and boy did they ever! Presents were placed in empty spinach containers, lemon bags, inside plastic cups, you name it. It was so much fun to see what my kooky parents came up with.

But breakfast came before presents this year, and it was quite the delicious feast.

Smoked Salmon.

After breakfast was the opening of presents. I got some nice gifts including new bowls, clothes, beauutiful Steve Madden pumps, food, and others. ‘Twas a great morning! I wish my internet and WordPress weren’t being so slow, because I’d upload so many more pictures!

We had to get ready for dinner because we had lots to make and people to get ready for. Here’s our gorgeous table–

I love these little marshmallow men my mom and sister made. They’re covered in white chocolate and just so adorable!

On the menu for dinner: a huge prime rib roast, apple cider roasted sweet potatoes, garlic rice, green salad with pears and candied pecans, asparagus in a white wine sauce, and homemade bread.

And my plate. I had tons of sweet potatoes and salad. Also, the little roll on the side is a spanakopita kind of thing. Our friend brought it. It’s phyllo dough filled with spinach and feta. Really good!

Okay, this post has officially taken like two hours to write and load. Time to get ready for church 🙂


25 Dec

I wanted a dog for years. We searched for the perfect one at dog kennels, breeders, and more. When one of our friends said she had to give up her 1 year old golden retriever, we found it was the best opportunity to welcome a new member to our family.

She had the most gorgeous brown, almost red, coat. Maggie loved everyone she met. We always joked that if someone broke into our house, she’d probably greet them with a wagging tail and smile.

She absolutely loved the outdoors, and when it snowed she went crazy.

She was the perfect mix of an energetic, and playful dog–

but she was also so calm, sweet, and the perfect pillow.

Maggie never minded when we played games with her, and made her sit still for countless pictures. Her patience was impressive.

Maggie brought us so much joy over the past 8 years. She watched over us,

gave us love,

and never failed to make us laugh.

Thank you Maggie, for the best eight years and for all the love you gave to us. You always made guests feel welcome, and we felt safe knowing you were here. You are going to be missed so incredibly much, but we are happy to know you are in a better place and not in pain. You left us suddenly, but we knew it was the right time. We all love you so much and will see you again someday.

So good to be home.

23 Dec

After a crazy week of finals, having my flight get canceled on Saturday because of a record-breaking snow storm, and eventually getting a flight on Monday evening, I must say…it is good to be home.

Wow, I just uploaded about 1,500 pictures off my Rebel. I’ve been a picture-taking MACHINE since I’ve been home.

I was so excited to come home and see my puppy, but was sad to find out she’d been sick all day. She ate absolutely nothing yesterday and today, and we had to take her to the hospital where she’s staying overnight 😦 I’m worried about her and miss her a lot.

Grace and I went to downtown Seattle yesterday. We had a ton of fun taking pictures and shopping for our family.

Pike Place Market

Oh boy. I just love Seattle SO much. Anyone that thinks that all it does is rain here, or the only thing we have to offer is Twilight (you have no idea how many people ask me about that at school), or that there is nothing to do here is sorely mistaken!

My mom kind of has a thing for Nutcrackers. This is only a fraction of the ones we have around the house. I could definitely do a whole post just about them.

I prepped all of these bowls of oatmeal for me, my mom, and my sisters. One of them ended up going to one of my brothers though.

My sister Bianca made these Dutch baby pancakes for herself and her friend. My family is always like “Take a picture of my food!” now. It’s actually pretty funny.

My brother Andy thought his breakfast was blog-worthy. Not bad! 🙂

Well, I have a ton more pictures I want to share but it’s time for breakfast. I’m thinking a yogurt mess perhaps?

A Free Moment

17 Dec

It’s currently 9:42 am and I’m finding myself with some time to write a post! I don’t like not posting often, so I wanted to share some things because this will definitely be my last post until I am HOME!!

This past weekend I went home (well home is my aunt’s house but you know what I’m saying!) for the last time. Saturday was spent studying mostly, and then Sunday was the tradition of brunch. So, so good as usual. I didn’t bring my Rebel just because I wasn’t planning on taking many pictures and spending most of my time studying. I can’t wait to play with it when I get home though 🙂

Yummy melon. So fresh and great. I’ve realized that I don’t really eat much fruit while I’m at school. I eat bananas, but the only other choices are red apples (I have never liked red apples–too mushy!) and oranges. Not my favorites. I can’t wait for the abundance of delicious Washington apples when I’m home.

The usual bagels from Einstein Bros.I love these because they aren’t like a lot of bagels–way too huge. They are perfectly sized and always freshly baked.

These are my aunt’s beloved Spinach and cheese bagels.


My very favorite part of every brunch. My aunt’s salmon is soooo delicious.

I can’t wait for more brunches when I get back 🙂

In terms of other meals, they have been quite random to say the least. I’m just working on eating what I have and getting rid of diner points. Not to mention, I’m just studying like crazy for finals. Ugh. Breakfasts have mostly been big bowls of cereal which oddly I love now. For the past year or so I’ve totally stopped having cold cereal for breakfast because I didn’t think it would keep me as satisfied as yogurt or oatmeal. But I’m in looove with it now. Especially with some sunflower seed butter. Mmm.

Let’s see some things I’ve been eating, shall we?

Stir fries have become one of my new best friends here. Just a lot of vegetables from the dining hall like red onion, broccoli, spinach, carrots, etc. mixed with some frozen shrimp I had. Also, I made some peanut sauce. Delicious and nutritious 🙂 I swear, ever since school started I have forgotten how to spell. Just spelling nutritious took me a tad longer than it should have. And the other day I was typing up some notes and totally wrote ove and not of. Tell me that’s not a problem.

I’ve also gotten one of my friends into stir fries which is awesome! He’ll go to the dining hall and get a big container of veggies and whip it all up. So awesome!

Breakfast one morning–a bran muffin and banana.

Leftover salmon, broccoli, and half an Ezekiel.

I FINALLY roasted up my kabocha squash! It’s really good, but I have to say I prefer butternut any day! And more frozen shrimp and broccoli. I told you my meals are random and fast!

Well, more studying must get done. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it to the gym sometime today. Sitting down for hours upon hours does not make me a happy girl. My roommates have already both gone home so I have the room to myself which is nice. There are only two finals standing between me and my flight home. Sociology tomorrow and history on Saturday. I feel pretty prepared, but definitely have a lot more to do.

Lalalala, talk to you next time when I’m back where I belong!! 😀

So close…

11 Dec

I can almost taste it! I just had my very last class of the semester. I still have finals next week, and that’s it. The past four months have gone by dreadfully slow at some points, but then I think where did all the time go? It feels like it was just a few weeks ago I was moving in here and getting settled. Man, that was a scary time! I’ve had so much fun in the past couple of months, but it’s also been hard. The work, stress, and mostly being away from my family. Luckily, I have tons of great family here that take very good card of me 🙂

That being said, t-minus 8 days til I’m home!

For the next week, I’m basically going to be glued to my chair studying. Food will most likely be boring and rushed unfortunately. I have gotten a few good meals in the last couple of days though!

Another yogurt mess, of course. Fage, cinnamon, Kashi GL Crunch, banana, raspberry jam, some crumbled muffin, and peanut butter. This never fails to be amazing. Sadly, I only have about 1/4 c left of my Fage 😦 How will I go on?!

Last night, I went to a class called Namaste Cycle. When I first heard about it I was sort of confused like, “How could yoga and cycling be done in the same class? They are so different!” I went last week and it’s actually just a cycling class and then a yoga class. I absolutely loved it, so I went again yesterday! The class is pretty hard, and you definitely feel those leg muscles working the whole time. And yoga just feels SO good afterward. A good stretch is very appreciated after all that hard work. I’m beginning to really like cycling!

My friend and I had plans to make a great dinner when I got back. On the menu: brown rice risotto and salmon.

I’ve made risotto before, but never with brown rice. I investigated a little online and saw that people found it worked pretty well. I used short grain brown rice and some homemade chicken stock. A couple of my friends boiled chicken the other day and were so kind to save me the stock because they knew I’d do something with it 🙂

Saute some onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil.

Then add the rice and a bit of white wine and stir until evaporated.

Add the chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time and stir, stir, stir! This actually took like 50 minutes. I knew that brown rice would probably take longer, and it needed more liquid than usual. It probably could’ve cooked even longer but it was almost 9 and we were getting hungry! When it was just about done, we seasoned it with salt and pepper, and since we didn’t have Parmesan cheese, a handful of Italian blend shredded cheese. Hey, you gotta do with what you have right?!

No pictures of the salmon process, but I just rubbed mine with olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper. We heated up a pan on the stove for a few minutes so it got really hot, and then we seared our fillets for just a few minutes per side. This gets a great brown crust, and it’s so easy. My favorite way to cook salmon for sure.

My plate. I also had some steamed broccoli on the side. And the dark bits on the risotto were the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan 🙂 Can’t let those go to waste! We felt so gourmet eating this meal haha. And we definitely ate this while watching Harry Potter 6. I’m sooooo in love and obsessed with all things Harry Potter. Not gonna lie, I tear up when Dumbledore dies! Sorry for anyone that hasn’t read the books or seen the movies…

I didn’t have my 8am math class this morning which was glorious. I slept in, and enjoyed a nice, hot breakfast on this cold morning.

Pumpkin oat bran topped with muffin and peanut butter. Delicious and filling as usual.

Alrighty, studying times starts now. I have a final Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. Don’t even let me begin on the cruelness that is an 8 am Saturday exam…

Oh boy.

8 Dec

I’ve been slacking on the blogging front lately. Blame it on school. Thank goodness it’s my last week of classes, and then I have finals next week. Hallelujah! I cannot WAIT to go home. Except I’m hearing that it’s 14 degrees there right now…as opposed to the bearable 40 degrees it is here. But I don’t care because I will be HOMEEE!!!

I honestly don’t have many pictures to share. I’ve been trying to clear out my fridge so the eats have been repetitive and somewhat boring. I’ve also been a little sick the past few days, so not much was consumed. Let’s see what I do have…

These were some good leftovers. Luckily I have one more dough so looks like pizza night will have to happen again this week 🙂 I’ll probably make the same thing! The hummus was just so delicious.

Lately, I’ve just been loving cold bowls of cereal. I mean, I used to always eat cereal this way when I was younger, but since discovering oats and such, I haven’t had it as much. But my favorite mix is Kashi GoLean Crunch, soy milk, cinnamon, and a nice peanut butter spoon (or two…). I had some of this last night as a matter of fact!

Sorry about the terrible lighting. This was a Maranatha Almond Butter jar. Inside was oat bran that had been soaking overnight in water, with 1/2 a banana smashed in and tons of cinnamon. In the morning, I microwaved it and topped it with some muffin. Gooooood!

Many yogurt bowls like this have been consumed. In fact, just this morning! Muy delicioso. Just Fage, Kashi GL Crunch, cinnamon, topped with homemade raspberry jam, peanut butter, and some candied nuts.

Well, it is t-minus 12 days until I am back here…

And get to see Mt. Rainier everyday…

And get to see these crazies…

Yeah, my family has a LOT of hair. I hope my brother has shaved his beard since I’ve been gone…

Can’t forget the other brother.

Wow, this picture made me miss summer so much!

And of course, my parents!

That would be graduation day.

And I can’t forget my baby…

Maggie 🙂 I miss her sooooo much!

Alright, I’ve officially procrastinated enough. Gotta get ready for my soc lecture. Only 2 more of these to get through….