June Happenings

8:25:00 AM mandy 9 Comments

June has probably been the most eventful month for me. Before going through all these photos I felt like I didn't do much this month that was worth while with the few exceptions of when I went out with the besties. This month was filled with a number of firsts in my life! I hope I can keep this up for the rest of my summer if I really do end up not being able to find a summer job.

The [kinda] artsy fartsy photos first!


Our bathroom mirror was replaced in the beginning of the month because the original one was damaged the first time around. I wasn't trying to do anything artsy...really! I just wanted to take some photos as a keepsake since this is probably the first and only time I'll ever see all this glass/mirror shattered. heh I'm weird...I know!


Other than the bathroom mirror, I also got a full-length mirror in my room for the first time in my life. When we were in our old house I had a wimpy mirror attached to my door that would always slide out of their plastic holders (good thing it wasn't a heavy mirror!). Now I'm on the other end of the spectrum with a heavy mounted mirror. It felt quite odd with such a big mirror and now I understand when people say mirrors make any space look much bigger! This particular part of my room feels so large and empty now...On the plus side, if I ever wear any interesting outfits, I finally have a mirror that I can use to snap a picture and share with everyone :D


Since we've moved into our house last October or was it November?...Anyways! Since we've moved in my mom has been having lots of dinners with my parents' friends and our relatives because they're all nosey...eh curious...and want to see our new house. More and more people gift us wine and alcohol yet the funny thing is...we don't drink, except for the occasional beer my dad has! Ironic much? All these bottles will just sit there and look pretty.

Speaking of dinner parties, one of my mom's friends brought over this very pretty cake. Apparently, these types of cakes are very expensive, particularly due to all the fruit? It tasted alright. I'm still not a big fan of the Chinese bakery's fruit cakes. But a fruity outer layer is definitely better than the standard whipped cream one.

Lunch at Cha Chan Tang in Chinatown




I've been wanting to go ever since I saw lilladylife's photo of the special HK Style Tea! Even though she didn't post the name of the restaurant, it wasn't difficult to find. Yelp has become a very close friend of mine this month! I haven't been to Hong Kong nor have I seen how a real cha chan tang looks like but this would definitely be a more modern version compared to those I see on TVB shows. The food tasted alright. Nothing too special. Even though the four of us ordered 3 dishes to share and we still felt pretty full at the end (then again some of us are light eaters). I think the star of this restaurant is definitely their special HK Style Tea! I've become a convert. Regular milk tea is more of a drink that is milk with a little bit of tea and definitely much sweeter. This was the opposite...tea with a little bit of milk and definitely has a bigger caffeine kick to it. Also, it isn't too watered down because the bottle sits in an ice bucket. It came in a pretty big bottle and only one straw so I assume it is intended to be for only one person. 3 of us were going to share but I ended up having to drink the whole thing myself. Along with eating food...one bottle was way too much for me.


Egg Waffles! I call them Dan Go Jai (蛋糕仔) but apparently the correct name is Gai Dan Jai (鷄蛋仔). I loved these as a kid and still do. These used to sell for 20 pieces for $1. Now some sidewalk carts in Chinatown sell them at 15 for $1. Unfortunately, those that are, still sell 20 for $1 only have the outer shell and the inside is completely hollow. Yuck! Good ones IMO have a brown outside and crispy edges with a soft and cakey inside...YUM!

More guilty pleasures...!


In my opinion, TenRen has the best bubble tea. Their milk tea is probably in between milk stained with tea and tea stained with milk (if that makes any sense). Their ratio is just right for me. Not too much milk and still has some caffeine taste with it but isn't too strong. Their tapioca is also very chewy but not overly soft. Delish! I don't even need pudding or grass jelly.

My favorite froyo combos. Green tea with brownie bites, graham crackers, watermelon, mango, and mochi bits. Not the healthiest but that's why it's an indulgence!

I tried this fish shaped ice cream for the first time. I've seen similar ones in k-dramas and thought they looked cute. But the real thing wasn't very enjoyable. The fish shell was just a normal ice cream cone in a fish shape. The bad part was...it was a soft ice cream cone. Ugh. I absolutely despise soft and hard to bite off ice cream cone. The actual ice cream portion and red bean were just average. Eh...now I know better! :X


June weather has been very bipolar. Some days it was bearable, 70-80s. Other days it was very rainy...thunder, lightning, high winds and all. Then the rest was unbelievably hot, 90s+! This particular day it was rainy and sunny at once. It's fascinating seeing the storm clouds move away!


The ULTIMATE highs of my June were definitely...a Raymond Lam concert and having a Manhattan outing with the besties.








Bestie S and I were so excited for this concert. We bought these tickets a month earlier and even then there were only far seats left! This was the first time I paid to go to a concert, let alone going to a casino in New Jersey practically by myself in the middle of the night. Good thing there are always those buses that go to and from the casinos! I was so tired by the time we reached home...It was a fun experience nonetheless! In the area that the two of us sat in were full of older ladies and their husbands with a few fans (our age). So the atmosphere was pretty dead where we were during the entire concert. I was probably the loudest person in the back! It was a little disappointing that Raymond Lam couldn't make his way back to us because everyone rushed towards him even when he asked them not to *sigh* If I hadn't brought my DSLR and my longer lens, I probably wouldn't have been able to see him that clearly! My camera acted as our binoculars. I only listen to his slower songs (mostly from his first album and a couple of OSTs he sang for TVB shows) so I was a bit clueless through half of the show. The other half was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life...okay...maybe I'm exaggerating a little heh. But the feeling of being able to hear him sing live and follow along the songs I knew was amazing! I envy the fan that was chosen to go on stage to be a part of the act! She was probably sitting pretty close to the stage...*double sigh*


I have a very small number of friends that I am very close with (yet we still have a lot to learn about each other). Since besties and I don't go out often, we ran out of (well more like we do not know of any more) ideas to do for our hangouts. Most of our outings are usually just for half a day, but we recently planned an entire day outing for the first time.


We decided to start from the Upper East Side and end in Lower Manhattan. Our first stop was Laduree. None of us had ever tried macarons before and Laduree apparently was THE place to go for them so why not try their macarons first? They had so many macarons on display it was a little overwhelming. Especially when the least expensive box option allows you only 6 macarons. It was hard deciding, so I ended up choosing mostly on color and name. I think I chose Orange Blossom, Raspberry, Pistachio, Rose Petal, Blackcurrant & Violet, and Caramel with Salted Butter. Of the six I got, I much preferred the non-berry macarons. For me, the jams (I'm assuming) in the macarons were way too sweet for my tastes. Even though these tasted really good, I don't think I'd buy them again any time soon. $20 for a box of 6 is pretty expensive (keep in mind I got the special edition Hello Kitty box...I'm not sure if a regular box costs less or not). Maybe if I'm in the area...and in a few months? I wouldn't make a special trip there just to get them though.


From Laduree we walked our way toward Central Park. We saw FAO Schwartz and went in to take a stroll around. I love all their stuffed animals!! Even though I should be growing out of them...I can't seem to ween myself from collecting them. If only their stuffed animals weren't so expensive!


The main event of the day was to bike in Central Park. We were original going to haggle prices with the bike renters but we ended up getting our bikes from an actual shop and not the independent guys so there wasn't much bargaining we could do. I believe the prices were $15-1 hr, $20-2hrs, $25-3 hrs and this included a lock and a basket...which was great because we all had a bag in tow. We chose to do 3 hours and it was just enough to satisfy our biking desire. However...we did only go around the entire park once and around half of the park three times. If you're a better biker (faster and can handle tall slopes) you might be able to go around the full park more times than we did. It was a great day and had just enough wind to keep us cool while biking. Boy did I get tanned, even a little sunburnt! It's a good way to see Central Park. The bad part is you will miss everything that is off the bike path. If you plan to bike, don't be scared by the more professional looking bikers! They're usually very understanding and go too fast anyways. The only thing you do have to be careful of are people who cross and sometimes cars in certain areas of the park.


After biking we walked from Central Park (maybe 50th or 55th street) down to St.Marks (9th Street) for dinner. Number-wise it seems like a lot of walking, but when you're with friends and trying to cool down from a biking workout (if you can call it that) the distance doesn't seem that bad. Especially when you stop by stores and walk around. Then again, this is coming from a New Yorker who is used to walking. Definitely not a day for anything but comfy shoes! We had dinner at a Japanese BBQ place called Yakiniku. It is very similar to Korean BBQ. I think the difference is just the way the meat is prepared/marinated? I'm not too sure because I've only done Korean BBQ once before. Dinner was more exciting than I thought. Mostly because some of the meats we chose had some fat and it ended up setting little flames/flares. We had our own little fire show at our table! haha The beef was delicious and definitely worth going back. If anyone else wants to go I recommend going on Mondays or Tuedays because of their special. Certain cuts of meat are cheaper. (Before a 6PM they also have a Happy Hour special.) We ordered 10 plates of meat (1 was a combo, 2 were regularly priced, and the rest were the special priced) and it came out to a total of just $25 each (including tip) for 4 people. We probably could have gotten more but we felt like they'd look at us four girls weird for calling so many plates of meat! It was a lot less expensive than we expected. The only complaint I guess would be the small portions of meat. Each plate had about 8-10 pieces, whether it was regular price or special. It kind of forces bigger groups to order a lot. If meat isn't your thing but you're with a group, they also have other dishes that they prepare as do your normal restaurant but I'm not too sure if there were any vegetarian dishes, I wasn't looking closely at the other pages of the menu book.

Onto the kitchen highlights of the month...


I finally whipped out the waffle iron my aunt gave me because I had a big box of Bisquick mix. Not the healthiest food to make but I was on a cooking kick this whole month, probably because I've been watching the Food Network channel a lot lately haha...Trying to get the batter to not spill out of the machine was definitely the trickiest part. Ah, the negatives of cooking...cleaning my own mess!

Nothing too special. Just blended watermelon! In Chinese, it's called 西瓜冰 or watermelon ice if translated literally. Not really a smoothie since it doesn't have any milk in it. Is there a more correct English term that I just can't think of? Anyways! I LOVE watermelon, but I just don't like the seeds. Even those small white ones that are okay to eat. Since I had my Magic Bullet out already anyway, I decided to just blend the fruit up and drink it...it definitely took care of the seed problem hehe~

After watching maangchi's makkalbi 막갈비 recipe on youtube I really wanted to try it! Especially since it wasn't a spicy recipe (my family can't handle spicy), I could boldly ask my mom to make it. She finally bought the ingredients when we were stuck inside a supermarket due to a sudden rain shower. I just didn't catch the part where she wanted me to cook it until we got home. I've never handled raw meat before because I cannot stand all the blood and soft squishiness. But since the only way I could try makkalbi was if I made it and in order to not waste the ingredients we bought, I had to suck it up and make the dish. It didn't turn out bad at all. Even without a food processor or blender, my little Magic Bullet did the blending trick! In the end, the meat wasn't as tender as I thought it would be but that could also be because the cut of short rib we got was a little different than what maangchi used in her recipe.


Ever since I've been home and watching Food Network shows, I keep having a cooking and baking itch. Then after having the macarons from Laduree and seeing just how expensive those were, I Youtubed some How-To videos. I saw one from yoyomax12 for Earl Grey Tea Macarons and thought the process didn't look too difficult. So off I went to the grocery store to buy some ingredients. The recipe calls for almond flour/ground almonds, but the supermarket didn't have anything but whole or chopped almonds. I did the next best thing and grounded the nuts myself with my Magic Bullet. (No I am not sponsored by Magic Bullet...it is what I have at home and it worked for what I didn't expect it to so I am mentioning it!) The process was a little nerve wrecking because apparently over blending the almonds would make it almond butter and under blending would give big chunks of almond which is no good for this recipe. Just sifting and blending the nuts took at least an hour...Everything else after that was much easier than I expected.


On Saturday morning I woke up early to bake these little sugary treats. The first batch of macaron cookies I made turned out average...many were under par. I used wax paper to line my trays and the cookies stuck to the wax paper and the wax paper stuck to the tray...it was a huge mess. Just trying to get the macarons off the wax paper was a pain because they were so delicate and so easy to crack! A lot of the macarons ended up ripping from its base/feet and it was just a pile of empty shells (what is shown in the lower left). The left batch was actually what the macarons were supposed to look like color-wise and the right batch was baked for too long and turned brownish. I was so disappointed with how they turned out so I decided to ground some more almonds to make another batch that afternoon. Talk about being impatient and a perfectionist hah!


Of the ones that didn't break, the macarons didn't turn out that bad if I do say so myself! :] The outside was crunchy and the inside was soft and kind of gooey. The only thing negative was they were a little too sweet for my taste but I'm not at a comfortable point where I'm willing to stray away from the recipe. Maybe after a few more tries!


For the second attempt I was actually going for a red but it became a pink instead. I was weary of adding too much liquid to the batter so I didn't add more food coloring (maybe next time). Compared to batch number 1, I mixed a little less and the batter was just slightly thicker. The circles of batter held their shapes much better this time around...which is a good sign! I also tried to bake these on aluminum foil and let me tell anyone who plans to try this at home...DO NOT USE IT! You will not be able to remove the macarons at all...At least on wax paper, if you're slow and steady enough you can rip the wax paper from the bottom of the macarons. Also, I recommend baking these in the middle of the oven so it doesn't get burned/browned easily. I actually made all of these in a little toaster oven!


I believe ^^ this is how the macarons SHOULD look like. The bottom is flat and hard enough so it doesn't crack on you, the outer shell is crunchy and not cracked at all, and the macaron has the frilly edge (apparently called feet?).


Yummm!!


I think for a first timer and someone who hasn't really ever baked from scratch...these macarons came out pretty well! Maybe I'll try a more complicated recipe next time when I can actually get a hold of a BAG of almond FLOUR and not have to ground almonds myself xD

How was your June?
I'm sure they were probably more fun and interesting than mine was though! These were just a handle full of days out of the whole month :X
Does anyone have any suggestions for any more hangout ideas? lol
Do share! I'd love to hear :]

9 comments:

  1. Nice job on those macarons! Looks like you had a fun-filled June. :D Raymond looks good but I'm not sure about those neon pants...hehe.

    (Haha...yep, took a while. :P Hmm, not really sure what the difference is between those two bottles. :X)

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    1. Thanks! & Haha! I thought that was actually one of his better outfits that night, not my fav though. Or I guess I'm just not into the overly dramatic stage outfits :X

      Ahh..it's alright! I'll do some more research on their difference on my own then :P

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  2. you made macaroons? i've never tried them! now i really wanna be your friend and bake those things! hah! and yep... it looks like you had an eventful month of june!

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    1. Yup I made them! :D
      I'm so touched ^__^ & It's okay..I just recently had a taste of macarons for the first time myself!

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  3. Ohh you did some fun things this month! I used to love going to concerts and I've paid for a few back in my high school days. One of my favorites was the Big 4 concert with Hyori, Epik High, Seeya and SG Wannabe. Seeing Jay Chou at Mohegan Sun was another amazing concert. My friends and I had free tickets which were in the second best area but we managed to sneak into the front of the arena because people were leaving early and we asked for their tickets XD I'm not a huge Raymond Lam fan in terms of singing but he's a pretty good actor. I think I'm the only one who doesn't like Laduree much. I pretty much bit the bullet and spent $20 because they look nice and EVERYONE raves about them. The regular boxes and Hello Kitty boxes cost the same btw :) Your homemade macarons look amazing and I bet they're even better than store bought ones because you can control the sweetness more. I'm not a fan of baking but my Mom is and she's so impressed with your macarons! :D

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    1. Ahh that concert sounds like it was so much fun! Very epic >__< If I had friends who were more interested in the same singers/bands as me and were willing to pay for concerts I would have totally went to more concerts *sigh* You probably didn't even need to ask for tickets toward the end :P No many people seemed to follow the rules that rigidly as the concert ended (from what I saw at Raymond Lam's concert). Mmm I like him more as an actor too but I love his slower songs. His voice was much better in person than I imagined it to me :D
      Haha I won't even dare to compare mine to a big macaron company's products :X But for next time I think I just might play with the sugar levels. If your mom makes them tell me how it goes :D

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  4. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh love this post!! food, food and more food!!!

    is the japanese bbq place you went to called gyu-kaku?? the grill looks very familiar hahahaha :p

    i love laduree but i agree it's quite pricey!

    drooling over everything you've been eating lately!!!!

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    1. I feel the same when I see your travel posts :P
      I think the restaurant I went to is Yakiniku West?

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  5. Hey Mandy!

    Yep, it counts as a second entry. Thanks for the reminder actually. I updated the rules to include this. :)

    Good luck!

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