Daily Archive: December 5, 2012

11 x 4

Posted by Nicole

Hi friends! Happy Thursday. Lately I have been sleeping in until 10:30 (or later), but today I woke up at 7:30 to get back in the early morning routine. I finished some final homework assignments, organized a finals study guide, and of course caught up on blogs. Though I didn’t participate in What I Ate Wednesday (check out Lauren’s awesome meal from last night here), I did manage to snap a few pics. Good things about today: breakfast/snacks/lunch, some fresh air in the USC quad, and a final presentation in my accounting class.

In other news, Megan from runningonjava recently tagged our blog for the Liebster award. I started reading Megan’s blog a few weeks ago and I love it. It’s awesome to read about a college student, sorority girl, and runner… it’s definitely relatable! We also got tagged for this award on Grace’s blog, so Lauren will answer those questions in an upcoming post!

Here’s how it goes:

  1. Write 11 random facts about yourself
  2. Answer the 11 questions given by the person who nominated you
  3. Create 11 new questions
  4. Nominate 11 bloggers and mention them in your post
  5. Thank the person that nominated you and tell the people you’ve nominated
Okay first thing’s first, 11 random facts: 
  1. I have a hard time buying food at the grocery store if it isn’t on sale. I tend to go for the store brands if they are cheaper.
  2. My high school dance team was the Hip Hop National Champion in 2008!
  3. When I was a little kid, I used to eat cream cheese directly out of the container. I easily still could. No shame.
  4. I went vegan for one month last summer. It was a learning experience because I learned how to cook with lentils, tofu, protein powder, etc.
  5. My favorite thing to buy are shoes- I have at least 30 pairs of shoes at my apartment… and many many more at home. You never grow out of shoes, that’s why I love ‘em!
  6. I’m Lauren’s sous chef / co-baker for her local cupcake business.
  7. My immediate family is ever-growing: Lauren (sister), Mom, Dad, David (Mom’s fiance), Lauretta (step-mom), Steve and Katie (step-siblings), Nate Ben and Sam (future step-siblings). I love big families and am so thankful that ours has grown over the years.
  8. I played the flute in advanced band in middle school. It was a pretty big deal.
  9. Some of my family members call me “Nicki” or “Nickerbocker,” though I definitely prefer Nicole :)
  10. Some of my favorite childhood activities were jumping on the trampoline, playing tetherball and badminton, and nerding-out with my game boy color and game cube.
  11. When Lauren and I were little, we would clean the house and leave notes for our parents saying that “elves” cleaned the house. I bet my mom still wishes we did that…

Wow that was difficult – it’s hard to come up with random facts that aren’t often mentioned on the blog!

Now to answer Megan’s 11 Questions:

1. If you weren’t where you are right now, where would you be?
That’s an easy one – at home celebrating Christmas! Or at a concert. It feels like forever since I’ve listened to live music.

2. What is your favorite scent?
I love Daisy by Marc Jacobs, but often forget to put it on before walking out the door.
3. Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks?
I’m definitely a Starbucks girl, but then again, we don’t have Dunkin in CA. I don’t like the long lines at Starbs though…
4. What’s one thing you can’t go a day without?
Hmmm… I can’t go a day without talking to a family member.

pike place market food tour family

5. What time do you typically wake up/go to bed?
Lately, I’ve been going to bed at 2 AM and waking up at 10, but I would say normally I go to bed at 12:30 and wake up at 9. I also enjoy naps.

6. What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?
I don’t like loud breathers, nasal-y voices, people that blatantly disrespect others, rude employees, and when people don’t pick up phone calls!
7. Favorite season/why?
I love spring because the air is crisp, my birthday is in March, and it means it is almost summertime!
8. Who are you dying to meet?
My future husband? Ha
9. If money was no object, where would you travel?
I would do an around the world trip. A lot of schools offer “Semester at Sea,” which I think sounds so awesome. So… something like that! When I searched my photos for “travel,” I only got a result for the USC Traveler:

10. Why did you start blogging?
It was actually Lauren’s idea to get into the HLB community, and I pitched the idea of joining her. Luckily, she didn’t shoot me down! The rest is history.
11. What’s next on your “to-do” list for today?
I’m going to meet my friend Lindsey to study and then hopefully get myself to hit the gym! Insert random photo of dumbbells for motivation…

11 New Questions:

  1. What is your favorite band/artist?
  2. How many houses have you lived in throughout your life?
  3. Where was your last vacation?
  4. What internet browser do you prefer- Safari, Chrome, Mozilla, etc.?
  5. How long have you been blogging?
  6. What is a current goal that you are working towards?
  7. What are your 3 favorite TV shows?
  8. Choose one: looks, luck, or money.
  9. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
  10. Would you rather have a fancy dinner out or a fun clubbin’ night of dancing?
  11. Would you rather do the dishes or do laundry?

And finally, 11 nominated bloggers:

  1. Just kidding, I’m too lazy and I love everyone. I nominate anyone reading :) Or just answer some of the above questions in a comment!

WIAW: Chicago Beef Stew

Posted by Lauren

Happy WIAW! New to our blog? Check out the About page if you have a moment…. Not new? We love you, welcome back!

Tuesday began with a banana, oat bran, and a cup of coffee. I waited diligently until noon to eat lunch, when the trays of Mexican food (rice, beans, tacos, quesadillas, chips, etc) arrived at our office. We have Taco Tuesday’s every week, so I’ll spare you the nearly identical photo of my beef taco salad plate. We asked the admin who places the order to switch it up next week… I’m crossing my fingers for some huevos rancheros or breakfast burritos! Around 3 pm I snacked on an apple. Just what I needed to hold me over until dinner…

Ole-Yo-Hun dinner #2! (Also known as the monthly tradition where Sarah (high school bff) and I join Cindy and Mike for a delicious home-cooked meal and a chance to catch up. Last month we had dutch oven bread, chicken parm, and apple pie!)


Cin has all of her Christmas decorations up! :)

Last month, Sarah suggested beef stew and Cindy d-e-l-i-v-e-r-e-d. WOW.


See the muffin tin in that photo? Do you know what’s inside of them? I guessed popovers, but they’re actually yorkshire puddings! I had no idea that’s what they looked like! According to Wikipedia, a 2008 ruling by the Royal Society of Chemistry states that ‘a yorkshire pudding isn’t a yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall.’ These were definitely tall enough!

We missed having Natalie around tonight; it’s not the same without her. Hurry up and come home for the holidays, girl!


Dinner: side salad, Chicago winter beef stew over rice, glazed carrots, and THREE yorkshire puddings


After dinner, Cin showed us where the beef stew recipe came from: the Jan 2012 InStyle Magazine. I searched on their website for a copy of the recipe for link purposes, but couldn’t find one. This recipe is TOO GOOD not to share, so I’m copying from the clipping directly!

The Never-Ending Chicago Winter Beef Stew - from InStyle Magazine

This insanely delicious one-pot meal infuses beef with layers of exciting flavors: salty fish sauce, tart vinegar, and sweet fruits (including pineapple, which also helps tenderize the meat). While prep time is just 30 minutes, the stew needs to simmer for 4 hours for ideal tenderness, so allow ample time in advance.


3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 lb. beef, cubed chuck
2 medium onions, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, mined
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and diced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
pear, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups apple cider
1 can (16 oz.) diced tomatos
3/4 cup fish sauce
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp sambal paste
Freshly ground black pepper and salt


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat in a large soup pot. Add half of beef to pot and season with 1/4 tsp pepper. Brown meat (5-7 minutes) and remove. Repeat with remaining beef. Remove from pot and set aside.
  2. Add another tbsp vegetable oil to pot and lower heat to medium. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent (about 3 minutes).
  3. Add pineapple, apple, pear, and wine. Simmer to reduce the liquid by half (about 5-7 minutes).
  4. Add cooked beef along with chicken broth, cider, tomatoes, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard, and sambal. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Cover and simmer until beef cubes fall apart easily when poked with a fork (a little more than 4 hours).
  6. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 ºF oven for up to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

There were a lot of complex flavors going on, but they blended beautifully. Highly recommend!

After dinner, Cindy opened up a box of frozen, chocolate-covered bananas/strawberries/mangos for dessert. We enjoyed those over another two hours of conversation, old Christmas card photos, and the funniest letters to Santa written by a much younger Natalie and Mark.


Thanks for another fabulous dinner, Cindy! We already discussed next month’s entree and it’s going to be off the hook (pun intended because it’s FISH!)

Before heading home to Mountain View, I made three stops:

  1. Mom’s house to pick up a few cocktail dresses and say hello. I’m incredibly excited for this weekend’s holiday soiree at my friend Kimberly’s house in Fresno… I just need to pick a dress. According to her Instagram sneak peeks, it’s going to be dazzling!
  2. Gym. Did 4 miles instead of the 6 scheduled, but it was late!
  3. Grocery store to pick up more Nutrigrain bars. I keep my desk at work stocked with them and have been out for dayzzzzz.

And that’s it!

Question: Have you ever had yorkshire pudding before? What about figgy pudding? What is that song about anyways?


The End is Near

Posted by Nicole

I was going to go to the gym for a late night workout, but instead I’m giving myself a little break because hey, it’s basically finals week.

Scratch that. I had one of those “I need to get out of my small, depressingly dark apartment and into the gym!!!!” moments. (Do you ever have those?)

Anyways, endorphins = <3, even at 11:30 PM.

In terms of school, classes are finishing up and I couldn’t be happier. This semester I took two general education classes and two business classes. I’m a business major and next semester I’ll be taking all major-related classes. I’m excited and relieved. Not to say that general education courses aren’t important, but it’s weird to be a junior and STILL taking GEs.

No, astronomy professor, thank YOU!

I’m starting to reach my patience limit and I’m hoping the next two weeks fly by. I just want to study hard, take my finals, and celebrate the holiday season with my friends and family in the beautiful Bay Area.

On that note – I’m brainstorming some survival tips to get through finals season for an upcoming post……

Stay tuned…….

– N

PS- sorry for the short post. just dropping in because I miss this little space on the internet.