Lavender Earl Grey Mini-Cakes

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Next week is the week of midterms, and to be a real college student, of course I had to find a way to procrastinate. This time, it was by making some tiny early grey lavender cakes with my good friend Amy Jan. She’s actually a fashionista (you must pay a visit to clothedwith.com), an extremely intelligent student in the sciences, and a sweet sweet soul. I say this as she is making me dinner right now as I study. Yeah, she’s a pretty good friend.

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The recipe we followed interestingly instructed us to steep the earl grey in the butter. We are not quite sure whether we did that successfully… so lets just call them lavender mini-cakes from now on. Heh.

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The lavender mini-cakes turned our surprisingly well, and they taste quite delicious! The cakes are infused with early grey and lavender and are topped off with a white chocolate lemon ganache.

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Cheers to a successful day of baking, and hopefully a better day of studying tomorrow!

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Not Bad Tahoe, Not Bad

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I was really excited to bring my camera on the “A12 Tahoe Trip”, which what my boyfriend’s housemates collectively call themselves since their apartment number is 12. Cute right? I was trying to capture some amazing moments, and got a really artsy picture of my friend Preston (shown above) and smiled at being able to catch this moment..only to realize seconds later that the moment I was capturing was a huge snowball aimed at me. HAHA. Worth it.

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This group of friends and I decided we should makes these first weekend of the new year Tahoe trips an annual thing! It has given me a little more hope to continue to grow these friends after graduating from college. Recently, I’ve been slipping into a more defensive state, where I begin to distance myself from my community and certain friendships that I see less hope for in maintaining over long distances after I leave University of California, Davis. I realized over this weekend though, that I did not want to live out any portion of my life with that mindset. I want to have hope, and to genuinely believe in the worth and value of myself to others, so that way the effort I take to maintain friendships will come from a more grounded place.

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Speaking of friends, we befriended the CUTEST husky this past weekend! We rented an Airbnb cabin, and one day, we opened the door and in came a beautifully groomed husky. He just trotted casually into the cabin and lay below our table. Everyone stared for a second without movement, shocked at what had just happened, but then seconds later, everyone was “aww-ing” and “ooh-ing” while trying to cuddle with the cute pup. On his name tag, it literally read “even if I beg to stay, tell me to go home”, so my boyfriend started laughing as he read it out loud, but once he said the words “go home”, the obedient little husky jumped up and bounced out our back door. The poor thing got confused when people kept beckoning him and also telling him to go home. Loved the friendly little pup.

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I visited a second group of friends of friends while up in Tahoe, and we had the most legit snowball fight ever. Although I was granted immunity from the snowballs (thank you beautiful expensive camera), everyone else was building forts, tackling each other, and wow it was intense. Hilarious to watch! My toes froze off though, and I had to sit down and defrost my near-numb toes by the warm beautiful electric fireplace! Real fire sprouts up with a timer switch, no mess, low maintenance. I gotta get me one of those one day. Reading by the warm, crackling fireplace was not bad, not bad at all.

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So apparently icicles are real easy to break off of roofs, and also a crazy amount of fun. Icicles are multipurpose my friends. Here, meet my dear Iris the dramatic unicorn with a crystal horn.

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Little icicles can also serve as a cute drink decoration AND a creative piece of ice to keep your drink cool. Very fashion forward. But below, you can see my friend, Bryan, got a little too ambitious with that new idea.

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We also made icicle ice cream cones. Now, I’m not quite sure how clean the snow was, but my logic is that fresh fallen snow is like fresh rain, it hasn’t touched anything and so therefore much purely be water. We added evaporated milk and agave to fresh snow and when we took a bite, it taste surprisingly delicious. Who knew?!

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Our backyard was so fun. It was full of fresh snow from the nighttime (you can tell how fresh it is by how far my friend had sunk in trying to walk through haha). We had icicles trimming the entirety of the cabin, and even a hot tub on our patio! I hot tubbed at night while a light snowfall surrounded us. That contrast of hot and cool was an amazingly beautiful experience.

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We also found this gorgeous snow covered beach less then a 10 minute drive away from our cabin! Lake Tahoe really never ceases to be beautiful.

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So obviously, not everyone understands how to “dab” correctly… ahem Bryan (dude on the far right in the picture below). These friends definitely bring out the silly sides of each other, from the luscious hair whips, to the nose pinchings, to the hilarious new dance move trends.

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They know how to be silly, invent new slang (it actually passes around sometimes but mostly they just sound like a group of hilarious weirdos), and make each other laugh, but they also care very deeply about each other’s hearts and well-being. They are always willing to pray, to make time, and to discuss your heart’s struggles with you. They are ready to make your stomach hurt from laughing, and yet always ready to uplift your sinking spirits as well. I got little pieces of treasure with me hehe.

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A Wintery Sonoma

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My boyfriend and I decided to take a quick visit to Sonoma this winter break. Normally, I imagine Sonoma to be covered from head to toe in luscious grapes vines, but because we decided to visit in the midst of winter, Sonoma took on a new sort of feel. The foggy air and bare branches were a beauteous view in and of itself. The air was mysterious, and I surprisingly really loved it. I really enjoyed whipping out my handy dandy little camera and snapping a couple photos of the place.

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We visited two wineries to taste test some wine. Now, we are both only 21 and 22, so we look quite young, but we never got carded because these places are just classy beyond belief. We first visited Imagery, an art gallery inspired wine tasting bar. Each of their wine bottle labels are decorated with pieces of artwork that they showcase in their galleries. I saw many people walking around, sipping on their glasses of wine, admiring and discussing the paintings and photographs. This is what I mean when I say classy beyond belief!

My favorite was the 2007 Petite Sirah Port. It’s a sweet wine that pairs amazingly with the little dark chocolate pieces that our host handed to us as well. Our server, Leslie, was bright and upbeat, and she even concluded our visit with a ticket to a free wine tasting from a neighboring winery as well! If you know me, I love free stuff, so there was no way I was going to pass up the chance for a FREE wine tasting!

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The second winery we ventured to was Benziger, yay for free stuff! I loved the long green leafy holiday decorations that sometimes intermingled with Christmas lights and sometimes were decorated with huge red bows. Festive.

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Normally, the wine tastings at $20, but we got to taste 6 wines for free! One of my favorites was definitely the 2012 Oonapais. Now, I just turned 21 and all Paris taught me was that drinking wine is a wonderful experience, so I must admit that part of the reason I loved this wine was it’s funny name. I kept muttering it under my breath to try and pronounce it and my boyfriend just laughed at me. That being said, our host explained the wine to have sweet aromas of boysenberry and dark cocoa. It was smooth across the tongue and had fruity hints of blackberry jam, blueberry, and plum flavors. I loved seeing on the host’s little map where each of the grapes came from on their estate, or the methods in which is tend to the vines.

I do love whites the most and that is why we purchased a white 2013 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc Benziger wine to take home as a souvenir. That, I admit, is very delicious. Can’t wait to sip on some more!

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A Land Where December is Sunny

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Meet my anything-but-little friend, Mr. Tiger. His wide, soft, bright eyes stared at us in curiosity as we started snapping photos of him. We never would have guessed an animal so adorable could be so dangerous. He was officially our favorite of the day.

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Ever since our freshman year of college at UC Davis, my friends Janae and Phoebe have been trying to plan a trip to visit our good friend Haylie down in sunny San Diego. After three years, we finally made it happen! This vacation got me through the very difficult moments of finals that I struggled through. We scored $80 round trip tickets (an AMAZING deal) thanks to Southwest’s random one day deal. Haylie, our host for the trip, is an intelligent and talkative spirit who seems to have friends who hook-up us with things everywhere. She even got us free tickets to the San Diego Zoo and we all felt like little kids again.

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One of my favorite things about my friends is their spontaneity that leads to the discovery of random hidden treasures. One of these was this mysterious little light shop that boasted many sales. We passed by a couple of times, and finally, Janae decided we should go in and my jaw dropped.

Light Fixtures Galore.

Every single ceiling and wall were packed with light fixtures until it seemed there was barely room to squeeze in any one more. Every wall, every door seemed like its own masterpiece.

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My favorite part of the light store was this huge brightly lit hallway that was compacted with lamps and chandeliers that led you all the way down a long corridor to two glass doors that escorted you out back to the streets.

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Haylie, who planned everything this trip, is probably the most athletic out of the four of us, so of course we went out to Torrey Pines and completed a gorgeous hike by the San Diego waters. This hike was perfect for people like us, who are looking for a great view that does not require too much effort and sweat.

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The waters were so blue and so clear. All along the hikes were little turn out points to rest on benches and lean against the railings to listen to the sounds of the ocean. Then, behind us, were all gloriously huge mountains and hills. The views this hike presented had just a little bit of everything.

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We all brought long sleeves and sweaters to the hike, but took them off within the first 10 minutes. We continuously talked about how only San Diego would stay so warm during the midst of December. It honestly felt like we walked through some portal into the spring season! The San Diego natives we chatted with all talked about how the 60s weather froze their little toes off while we stood in front of them in our dresses and t-shirts.

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Our week trip would not have been complete without some drinks by the beautiful waters at sunset. We headed over to Peohe’s for happy hour and we were greeted with a tall and very friendly waiter who patiently took many photos for us before we settled down to eat and enjoy our drinks. The mango mojito I ordered was so delightful to my tastebuds.

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The trip was an overall success! We watched cheesy Christmas movies (snOMG became our cheesy ironic pun of the weekend), enjoyed a jacuzzi with a view in Haylie’s own bathtub, ate a LOT of homemade bon-bons (Haylie’s dad is the bob-bon master), and even visited a classy rooftop bar at Rooftop600 at Andaz hotel.

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Most of all, these friends are people that I am sure will be around for life. These three here, as well as many many special people I have met at my community at UC Davis have helped me to grow and redefine myself in completely new ways. For the first time, I felt a sort of genuine love that proved to be so powerful and so undeniable. For the first time, the people around me looked at me and made it known that they saw so much in me, and even though I didn’t believe them, their faith in the goodness of who I am pushed me to believe in the fact that there was room for me to grow into my full potential. For the first time, I have friends who love me enough to voluntarily put themselves into an uncomfortable situation, risking me being completely upset with them, to pull me out from doing something that they recognized was not good for me. For the first time, I recognize that my worth was not dependent on the situational things that occurred all around me, but on the constant downpour of love that God continues to shower me with. For the first time, I feel full. Anytime I fall into the lie that nobody loves me or cares about me, as everyone inevitably encounters these moments, I simply look around me at my friends and realize that the facts don’t line up in that regard. My friends have led me to believe that I am so loved, and I could never have asked for anything better.

Cheers to an amazing 2016!