Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ladybug Cookies

After the craziness of Thursday night, I settled back into a normal routine on Friday night by baking and decorating ladybug cookies for Jen's baby shower on Saturday (more details on this to follow).

I used's "The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies" recipe, cutting it down to 40 cookies from the original 60 serving recipe. I really like this recipe as the cookies had a nice puffed shape after baking, as opposed to the completely flat cookies I usually get with rolled cookie recipe.

After studying pictures online, I made two different color versions of the ladybugs - the traditional red and black (you can tell from the lone cookie in the corner with a completely black section that I decided to veto that design and stick with stripes instead):

The other tray used a primarily pink and red color combo, since Jen's baby due next month is a girl that will be named Olivia:

I had just enough black frosting left (from a store bought tube, although I made the rest of the frosting from scratch) to add accents to the ladybugs - I'm glad I did since the pink and red were a bit overwhelming on their own!

These cookies took me 3 hours to roll-out, cut-out, bake and decorate but it was well worth it to see how excited Jen was at her shower!

Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm Engaged!

So as you guessed from the previous picture, Andrew asked me to marry him on Thursday night!

It was a complete surprise and I'm still in shock that I'm engaged! (Be warned, I'm sure this post is going to be filled with exclamation points!)

It was a normal Thursday night for the most part, Andrew and I had our typical order from Jamjuli for dinner. What I had forgotten was that Andrew had mentioned in the morning that he was bringing home a special dessert for dinner.

So we had dinner and the only thing that was out of the ordinary was that Andrew wasn't hungry enough to help me finish off my spring rolls, which NEVER happens. He told me he was saving room for dessert, which made sense.

So finally, it was time for dessert. I had my camera ready, asking him if I could take a picture of the dessert for the blog since I figured that it would serve as my simple post for the night. Andrew agreed readily but in hindsight, it must have prolonged the agony of waiting for him.

After admiring the green ribbon, I slowly opened the box:

And found this message on the cake:
I was in complete shock. When I turned to look at Andrew to confirm what I was reading on the cake, he had already dropped down to one knee and had the ring in his hand!
I have to admit, I didn't say yes right away. The first words out of my mouth were along the lines of "I wasn't expecting this, I had a mental plan that we wouldn't be married for another year or two!" Once the situation sunk in, I told him that of course my answer was "Yes!" and then the whole celebrating/crying/calling family and friends began.
Some additional info on the cake, Andrew had it custom designed at Truly Jorg's Patisserie to match the pattern on my blog, something I didn't notice right away due to the fact that I was fixated on "Will you marry me?" He picked Jorg's (which is way out in Saugus, MA), due to the fact that we had both enjoyed watching him compete in Food Network cake challenges - this man has done some impressive work! Andrew got to meet Jorg when he was picking up the cake, as well as his head pastry chef who also appears with Jorg on the challenges and was the one who actually worked on my cake.
The cake wasn't the only surprise, Andrew also had champagne:
(Poor guy looks incredibly relieved now that he was released from the stress of planning the proposal)

He had even gone through the trouble of buying a cooler and ice so he could hide the champagne in the garage during dinner:
He also had the foresight of buying champagne glasses for the champagne and had picked up a bouquet of my favorite flowers, white roses:
And now for the money shots - my ring!!
Andrew had been researching diamonds since last summer (how adorable is that?) and had bought my ring from online retailer James Allen once a diamond with the right characteristics was available:
It's pretty funny, he knows a lot more about engagement rings than I do from doing all the research. Apparently, my ring style is a round brilliant in a Tiffany-style setting. He also picked a simple platinum setting, which is totally my style:

I love my ring!! The reason I'm showing it on my pinkie in this picture (with Andrew's BC shorts as backdrop, something he wore deliberately that night) is that he made a slight error figuring out my ring size using an online sizing guide and my BC class ring. As a sidenote, we were able to find a jeweler on Saturday (Freedman Jewelers in the Jewelers building in Downtown Crossing, I highly recommend them) to resize the ring for me to wear to a family wedding that night.

After hours of calls sharing the good news and sitting on the sofa, sipping champagne and calling each other fiance and fiancee, we finally cut into the cake. I was really reluctant to cut into it, but the lure of cake finally swayed me:
It was the perfect end to a perfect night!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stay Tuned...

Goslings at Work

Usually, the only "goslings" I get to see are the kids (gosselins) on the TV show Jon & Kate Plus 8.

However, today at work at our new office location, we had a whole gaggle of geese go by - it looked like four sets of parents and a tons of baby geese!

They were very cute - they looked a little gawky and awkward, and were especially cute running quickly and flapping their tiny wings to catch up with the group.

Having them walk right outside my window (three times) was the highlight of my day...

...until I got home...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Whale Tale of a Time

Well, my second Dragon Boat practice was definitely worst than the first, due to a misfortunate choice of pants, a full boat, a new drill we practiced.

First off. I should’ve realize how bad it was going to be merely by the fact that I was sorely tempted to skip this practice. I had already gotten up at 4:30 am to drop my parents off at Logan airport and was tired from returning to work after a four day weekend to a brand new location, which involved hassles like my ID not working and unpacking. The only reason I ended up going to practice was that we’re required to attend three team practices in order to participate in the actual race. My company had scheduled four practices total, and if I had skipped tonight’s practice, then I would’ve been automatically forced to attend the last two practices. And since the weather was relatively nice tonight, I didn’t want to risk the chance that one or both of the last two practices would have rainy weather. Dragon boat practices are only cancelled due to thunder and lightening, not just rain.

Parking at the MIT Pierce boathouse is a pain in the butt, so I’ve learned just to suck it up and park on Mass Ave., which requires a brisk, ten minute walk to make it in time to practice at 6 pm. It was during this walk that I realized the jeans I had changed into at the end of the day were too loose and required a belt. As my fleece covered my waistline, I figured I was safe and made a mental note to wear better pants to the next practice.

Upon arriving at the dock, I realized that we had our full team contingent of 18 people (the boat holds 22 overall). This meant extra rows of people in the boat, which also mean that instead of Phu sitting directly behind me, I now had a row of strange male coworkers.

Things only got worse once we started paddling. Dragon boat racing has you only grasping one oar in an exaggerated stretching motion – to do it correctly, you need to be at the edge of your seat, twisted and extending the oar in a digging motion that is perpendicular to the water. This meant every time I paddled, I was leaning forward, which caused my pants to droop down slightly and my fleece to rise up, revealing a “whale tale.” Even more embarrassing, is the fact that if you don’t lean forward enough, the person behind you ends up smacking their oar into you. So on top of the fact that I was flashing the whole boat (As a member of Row 3, I had five full rows of two people and a steersman behind me), one of the guys behind me had to tap me on the shoulder and tell me I need to lean forward more so the guy behind me wouldn’t hit me.

Then, our coach from the Boston Dragon Boat Festival Committee decided to try a new drill that had us closing our eyes and paddling. I was already feeling off key due to my embarrassment over my pants, and sure enough, I felt my paddle hit the paddle in front of me, and then the one behind me. Swearing and apologizing at the same time, I was mortified to hear a chain reaction of paddles hitting paddles due to my fumble! Although everyone was nice on my team, I’m sure I have the rep of being the incompetent girl on the boat. And my small hope that no one else noticed my underwear creeping up was dashed by Phu’s statement that he could see it, which he verified by giving the color. Yikes! Next week, I’m wearing proper athletic clothing, even if I’m coming straight from work and I’ll be the best damned paddler out there!

Here's a rather bad picture of how soaked my clothing and Phu's clothing was after practice - "love that dirty water - Boston, you're my home!"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Weekend BBQ in Plymouth

The second big event during Memorial Day weekend was a BBQ hosted by Andrew's parents in Plymouth that brought together members of our extended families together for the first time.
Amy, Phu and Pete were crazy enough to go into the pool to play with Andrew's little cousins (either second cousins or cousins once removed, I can never remember which is which) while Jen was smart enough to stay out:

Everyone got into the ball-throwing action, Andrew a little too eagerly (although Phu was a literal pain in the butt with his shots as well):

My handsome Father had a good time lounging poolside with my equally handsome Uncle:

My Grandmother Lillian and my Mom also hung out poolside, despite the overcast skies and passing thunderstorms:
Amanda introduced Javier to everyone (hopefully, we didn't scare him away):
Andrew caught up on old times (such as the doorknob game, don't ask) with Kevin:

Andrea dropped by with Jonathan, just in time for food to be served:

Did I mention the food? There was ton of it, all delicious and hard to resist:

My Mom's contribution was the rice cooker in the picture above (filled with white sticky rice, natch) and her famous Cucumber Kimchi - which resembled more of a spicy summer salad than the typical pungent, pickled cabbage:

With Andrew's parents serving up Portuguese sausage Linguisa, the meal reflected both Andrew's ethnic background and my own. This is how stuffed my plate was - my favorite BBQ food - a hot dog smothered to the gills with mustard and relish, a piece of Linguisa, Amanda's yummy pesto pasta salad, Andrew's Dad Tom's famous slow-cooked baked beans and some salad:

Next came dessert, which included cornflake cookies and chocolate chip cookie bars (Andrew's Mom Charlotte), leftover chocolate graduation cake from the night before (BJ's), leftover sugar cookie bars from the night before (me), a Boston Cream layered dessert (Andrew's parents):
Did you think that was it? There were also brownies with fudge drizzled on top and with peanut butter cups (I believe this was Andrew's aunt Marsha), funfetti cupcakes with vanilla frosting (Andrew's cousin Kim), brownies with chocolate peanut butter frosting (Jen):
And the dessert that everyone raved about - the Orange Creamsicle frozen dessert made by one of Andrew's parents' neighbors (Valerie) - I got the recipe fronm her and if I remember everything quickly, I'll definitely be making this at some point this summer:
I was surprisingly lazy about baking while my parents were visiting, probably because my Mom took over my kitchen. So while I didn't bake for this BBQ, I did make a large batch of Sangria but forgot to take pictures of it - oh well, I'll just have to make it again real soon!

Phu's Half Marathon Brunch

Sunday morning began with a bang - at least for Phu! He ran in a half marathon that started at eight. Although we (as in, my Dad, Andrew and I) intended to see him at the finish line - Phu ran a lot quicker than we realized (an impressive hour and a half to finish 13 miles) so we met for brunch at American Joe's on Newbury Street.

Here's the proud runner with the medal he received for running the half marathon:

Close-up of the medal:

Amy and Pete were good roommates and actually got up early enough to see Phu in the marathon - in addition, they nabbed us a great corner table on the patio:

They had oddly colored but freshly squeezed orange juice - I took mine in Mimosa form while Andrew took it straight up (Joe's offers a free drink with their buffet menu):

We were joined by a bold and scrappy little bird seeking crumbs - I found it quite charming sitting on the statue next to my seat but not so charming when it took a dive towards our table. My mistake for throwing crumbs at it in the first place:

Andrew, Amy and Phu ordered the best item on the menu - a sirloin hash with poached eggs that I highly recommend:

I went with a Benedict omelet featuring ham and asparagus and Bearnaise sauce - not bad but nothing special:

It was nice to enjoy brunch in Boston on a warm and sunny day, something Andrew and I are usually never able to drag ourselves out of the house for, to help Phu celebrate his accomplishment.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Amy's and Andrea's Graduation Bash

Finally, it was the day of the party that was the culmination of months of planning by my uncle Rich, my aunt Rena and myself.

I have to say that I was pleased overall by our choice of the Braintree VFW Hall for the graduation party - it was cheap; the space itself was big with a kitchen, a huge dance floor and room for 90 people; and everyone that worked there was very pleasant. Ditto for Fasano's catering - everyone kept raving about the food, so it's worth getting it catered and I recommend the stuffed chicken/sirloin combo that Rena picked.

This is what the centerpieces ended up looking like:

Each table had a bucket of a different type of candy, surrounded by small Chinese food takeout boxes with ribbons in Andrea's and Amy's school colors, 2009 buttermint packages and special graduation fortune cookies. The sand buckets and the pinwheels were purchased at a dollar store, the candy (including Starbursts, Ghiradelli chocolates, Swedish Fish and Hershey's Miniatures) from BJ's and everything else from Oriental Trading. If I had to do it again, I wouldn't do the takeout boxes because no one used them - guests just ended up munching on the candy at their table, rather than visiting each table to fill their boxes as the notes urged them to do.
First to arrive at the party were obviously family members - this is a shot of my cousin Janel, co-guest of honor Andrea, Rena, me and my cousin Andrew:

This party was also important because it was the first time that Andrew's parents met my Mom - here's a shot of me with Andrew's mom Charlotte and my mom Koom.

Here's co-guest of honor Amy, my Dad and me:

Amy and Andrea take a break from chatting with their guest to pose for a picture:
This what I call the BC shot - Andrew's sister Amanda, me and Jen - all members of '02:

I can't remember what was so funny but obviously Jen, Pete, Andrew, Phu and Joe are having a good time:

Shot of me and Andrew, one of my biggest helpers for the event:

Andrea enjoys some of Fasano's great food:

Both sets of parents get up to give a toast to the new grads:

Finally, it was time for cake!

Andrea and Amy shared cake-cutting duties, with my mom hovering to the right with advice:

Perhaps due to the open bar, there was also a lot of dancing (that would be Betty and my Uncle Rich on the dance floor):

Andrew taking his sister Andrea for a spin:

Did I mention that there was A LOT of dancing? Andrea pulls her dad Rich onto the dance floor and Amy and my Dad join after to demonstrate that our family's collective lack of rhythm.
The money shot at the end of the night - a rare shot of me, Amy and my parents - we're usually only in the same place once a year:

The party was considered a rousing success by everyone who attended and most importantly, Amy and Andrea had a blast. Congrats to them both!