Textures Again

Thanks to a sweet and generous friend, I've begun experimenting with textures in PhotoShop.  I'm still new to it, but it's interesting to see an image transform after just a few clicks.  I wanted to practice on a simple, straightforward photo so I shot a small box and a glass tabletop.  It's a subtle change, but I like how the added textures (two different ones) combine to change the table from glass to marble.



Rise and Shine

The boyfriend and I are polar opposites when it comes to mornings.  He wakes up fresh as a daisy - chipper, upbeat, energetic, sometimes singing.  Even when he has to get up for work, he still pops up right out of bed and gets going.  I, on the other hand, love waking up slowly, lounging in bed for a bit before finally getting up.  I like to take my time with it - sometimes hitting 'Snooze' multiple times if waking up to an alarm.  I don't really talk much and sometimes need to wake up even after I've woken up.  I may not be the classic "morning person" but I do still love my mornings.  I love allowing myself to move at a slower pace while prepping for the day.  Switching to an upbeat get-ready-for-work kind of morning next week is going to be a tough transition.  My leisurely style of waking up will be relegated to weekends only.  Guess it's all part of growing up.



Friday Foto - Intreccio

Translation: Plot, story



A Leopard in the Office

I have a slight obsession with leopard print items.  I love them, though, at the moment, I don't actually own any leopard prints.  Leopard walks a fine line between racy/trashy and bold/courageous.  I want to find that line and work it into my office wardrobe - kind of like this entire outfit.  Here are a few of what I think are solid options for accomplishing this goal.  (Not all of these are in my budget but, hey, a girl can dream.)

Jimmy Choo Leopard-Print Calf Hair Pumps - $695.00

Michael Kors Scoop Neck Leopard Dress - $71.80 (on sale here)

Michael Kors Leopard Lace Tank - $695.00 (could look good under a black suit)

JC Penny Belted Pencil Skirt - $25.00 (finally something within budget!)

Ralph Lauren "Elaine Vendome" Sleeveless Leopard Print Dress - $130.00 (on sale here for $97.50)

 Jimmy Choo Manhattan Hobo - $245.35


Hilo Farmers Market

I've had requests for more Hawaii photos so here's a sampling of the delights we found at the Hilo Farmers Market.  There were three areas set up and we were so overwhelmed and hungry after the first that we didn't even make it over to the other two!  We saw fruits and vegetables we'd never heard of before and bought lunch from local Vietnamese and Thai vendors that had little booths set up.  This may sound silly, but the most impressive items at the market were the avocados.  The smallest ones were about the size of a softball.  We were also surprised by how cheap everything was - we got 6 large, ripe papayas for one dollar!

I was told these were bean sprouts, but I've never seen sprouts that looked like this!

Compare these avocados to the normal-sized bananas nearby.  Can you tell how huge they were?  The pit alone was about the size of the avocados we have here in California.

We had to ask around to find out how to eat rambutan.  The inside has a pearlescent, soft orb surrounding the pit.  The orb is sweet, with the texture of gummy candy.  The spiny outside is also edible (so we were told) but it's very dry and bitter.

The dragon fruit was one of my favorites.  The bright, neon pink fruit has basically the same texture and flavor as kiwi.



Sometimes You Just Need to Break and Bake

I'm not even going to try and pass these off as homemade.  These cookies are straight from a break-and-bake Pillsbury package that was on sale.  As I meandered past the refrigerated section in Safeway, I heard a little voice calling to me.  "Eat me.  Tee-hee-hee."  It was the Pillsbury Dough Boy in all his tempting sugary goodness.  I picked up a pack, baked them, and ate 'em up.  I didn't eat quite as many as are in the photos, but I came close.  Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...



Life of Leisure Update

My life of leisure is quickly coming to a close.  Two weeks from today, I have to face reality and attempt life as a lawyer.  I'm excited about it but also a little sad - I've loved my time off! And I still have a few things I need to check off my list.  Here's where I am so far:

1. Go to a matinee movie in the middle of the week 
I saw Despicable Me.  On a Tuesday.  At 1 in the afternoon.  So lovely I might do this one again!
2. Read books just for fun
I re-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I'm working through short stories by Roald Dahl, I finished The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry while lounging on the beach, and I'm currently reading Every Man Dies Alone.  I'd say Number 2 on the list was a success!
3. Get totally lost in my "fun books" and not care that I spend the entire day lounging and reading
Definitely accomplished. (See above)
4. Lay out (with sunscreen on, of course) and feel summer
Oh, I felt summer alright.  Unfortunately, SPF 45 wasn't strong enough against the Hawaiian sun and I got a pretty nasty sunburn despite all my precautions. 
5. Make soft pretzels and other delicious things
I can't cross this off yet because I haven't actually made soft pretzels.  But I have definitely made other delicious things - just check out the "Recipes" section on here!
6. Work out when I feel like it, not when it fits into my too-crammed schedule
Too bad I haven't actually felt like it.
7. Go for a walk and not worry about how long I'm gone
I've had days where I've just wandered around San Francisco only to realize I've walked anywhere from 3 to 5 miles.  I loved it.
8. Watch trashy TV and revel in every minute of it 
Not only have I watched the trashy TV I knew and loved before my post-bar life, I've started watching new, even trashier shows, like the Tyra Banks show and Teen Mom.  I don't know that this is something to be proud of ...
9. People-watch from a cafe or park in San Francisco
Definitely.  This might be one of my favorite items on the list.
10. Attend an outdoor concert or movie viewing - this inherently involves some wine and my Love
Haven't done this one yet, but we did attend a luau that involved Hawaiian music and dancing.  It was sort of an outdoor concert...
11. Have a picnic
Maybe this weekend. :)


Friday Foto - Tetto

TETTO (m.)
Translation: Roof; Highest point



Hawaiian Sunsets

I know I've showed you one already, but here are a few more shots of the beautiful sunsets over the Pacific.  The last was shot from the airplane on the flight home.



Coffee Tasting in Kona

One of our Big Island activities was coffee tasting in Kona, Hawaii.  I read about it in the NY Times, which compared it to wine tasting.  Both involve sampling locally grown beverages, but that's as far as the comparison goes, at least when it comes to Kona Blue Sky Coffee.  It's a very small operation, but the staff were friendly and the grounds were beautiful (apparently the larger farm is a few miles away).  I've never received so much personal attention when wine tasting - all the coffee we wanted, tour of the grounds, and fresh fruit to take home free of charge from the trees on site.  We sampled about five different coffee blends and learned a lot in the process.  Did you know that there aren't different beans for the various flavors?  Instead, the flavor is determined by the size of the bean, then enhanced based on roasting time.  And the darker the roast, the less caffeine even though the flavor is stronger.  Who knew!?

The pickers use these little baskets to collect the coffee cherries.  The padded part goes around their backs and the basket hangs in front, freeing their hands to prune the trees.

The coffee beans are inside these bright red pods (aka coffee cherries):

The coffee farm is completely organic and does not use irrigation.  They depend solely on the rain to water the crops.  To control bugs and other pests, a number of different fruit trees are planted among the coffee trees, including figs, pineapples, bananas, and this interesting orange guy.  Can you guess what it is?  It's a chocolate pod!  

Apparently, this is what chocolate looks like when it grows on the tree.

When you pop open the orange pod, all the little chocolate seeds inside are covered with a super-sweet white goo.  It looks gross, but it's pretty delicious.

Don't bite the seed open, though.  The bright purple inside is very bitter - imagine a mouthful of unsweetened cocoa powder.

If you're ever on the Big Island, I highly recommend coffee tasting at Kona Blue Sky Coffee and a tour of the farm.  Oh, and did I mention it was free?  But beware - you will definitely want to buy some of the coffee to take home!


Good Reads | The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn

I won a copy of this book in a contest hosted by Slice of Pink.  It was delivered the day before I left for Hawaii.  I took it along expecting a light, easy read perfect for lounging by the beach.  I did not expect to get so completely immersed that I would finish the book three days into my trip!

By looking at it, you wouldn't think this book would be so captivating.  A lovely photo of a Parisian garden in muted tones graces the paperback cover, along with praise from Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love).  However, the story and characters are universally sympathetic and relatable.

This summer, while studying for the bar, my roommate and I had almost daily conversations that went something like this:

Me: Why are we doing this again?
Roommate: I dunno.  I just wanna bake cupcakes and do craft projects.
Me: Me too.  So ... why aren't we?
Roommate: I dunno.  Because this is what we're supposed to do after law school?  After a few years of work, let's quit and open a bakery.
Me: Okay.  

Chances are, we won't seriously follow through with that.  (We actually both enjoy work, just not studying.)  But Kathleen's story is basically a version of that conversation, played out in her own life.  After being laid off from her corporate job, she decides to use her savings to move to Paris and follow her lifelong dream of graduating from Le Cordon Bleu.  Considering the copious layoffs in recent years, it's refreshing to see someone view such news as an opportunity rather than a setback.  Kathleen has limited cooking skills and minimal knowledge of the French language, but she doesn't let that stand in her way. 

For me, the highlights of the book are all the recipes she provides (I'm planning on trying out a few very soon!).  At the end of each chapter is a new recipe - some from Le Cordon Bleu, some from friends and family, and some from Kathleen's own culinary imagination.  A few more are added at the end of the book to round out the collection. 

Though somewhat sentimental, Kathleen's adventures in cooking serve as a metaphor for self-discovery.  Her determined story is both heartwarming and inspiring, in addition to a great read.


Places to Eat: Sansei, Waikoloa Hawaii

Have you ever gone out to a new restaurant, expecting a good meal, only to find the food disappointing and overpriced?  This happens to me a lot.  I love exploring new places and discovering new dishes, but every now and then a sad meal just leaves me wishing I'd stayed in and ordered pizza.  To help you avoid (or at least minimize) such fate, I've decided to start sharing my thoughts on the places I try.  I'm not a professional chef or a professional writer, but I love eating and I love taking pictures of food.  And feel free to share your thoughts on great and not-so-great places to eat.  I love new suggestions!

While in Hawaii, we tried a couple of different places.  These restaurants lured us in with promises of delicious fresh seafood and "authentic" Hawaii ambiance.  Unfortunately, many of them failed to deliver.  One, however, far exceeded our expectations.  Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar was by far the best dining experience of the trip.  Sansei offers a "sample menu" for two, but this could easily have fed three (or even four light eaters).  We sampled eight different dishes, though the portions were definitely not "sample" sized.  Every thing from the mango crab salad roll to the calamari with kochujang vinaigrette left us anxiously waiting for the next dish.  The sample menu for two was a little pricey ($80 for two people) but it was well worth it considering both the quality and quantity of food.  Sansei has locations in Maui and Oahu as well, but I've only eaten at the Big Island location.  If you're ever in the area, definitely check it out!

About halfway through the meal I realized I was so captivated by the food that I forgot to take pictures. Here are a few of the last four dishes we had (there were eight total).

Panko crusted ahi sashimi roll with spinach and arugula and soy wasabi butter sauce (there were eight pieces total but I didn't think about photos until the last one was left!):

Asian shrimp cake with Chinese noodles and ginger lime chili butter:

Seared butterfish (soaked in sweet miso for three days - this was my favorite!):

Lobster and blue crab ravioli with truffled shitake mushroom sauce:


Chicken Piccata

This is one of those recipes that is not my own but was so good I had to share.  I basically followed every step of Ina Garten's recipe (Barefoot Contessa) with one exception: I couldn't smash the chicken breasts thin enough so I baked them for about 20 minutes, rather than 10.  The chicken still turned out tender, juicy, and perfectly cooked.  The best part of this recipe is the sauce.  Lemon, butter, and white wine - how could you go wrong!  A couple days later, the boyfriend was still talking about how good this dish was.  I've had requests to make it again very soon. 

I'm not going to re-write the recipe, since I didn't change anything.  Just follow the link and a quick delicious dinner will be yours in no time!



Aloha Also Means Goodbye

It's my last night in Hawaii and I'm none too pleased about that.  The trip has been both relaxing and adventurous at the same time.  I've seen sea creatures up close and tasted many foods I never even knew existed.  I've also taken tons of photos.  After a bit of editing, there will be quite a few Hawaii posts soon to come (the one below is just a taste!).  Until then, Aloha!



Friday Foto - Natale

Translation: Christmas (yay!)

(I know the photo isn't the best technically, but I loved the effect of the little stars on the Christmas tree.)


Fall Already?

How how HOW is it September 1 already?  My life of leisure is coming to a close at the end of the month but there's a lot of fun to be had before then!  I'm leaving Saturday morning for Hawaii, so the posts may not be around next week.  For those of you already in the throes of fall, enjoy the cool breezes, cozy sweaters, and colorful foliage.  When I return, I promise a beach-filled update full of photos that'll warm you up again!

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