April 30, 2014

Mini Haul: Loft, Sephora and Shades

I haven't been shopping for clothes/accessories/non-food or grocery items in a long time. As in I don't even remember the last piece of clothing I bought before this. Which is a little bit sad. Especially considering I've had a Loft gift card just sitting in my wallet since Christmas! Finally...put it to use, and arrived on a good day. All clearance items at Loft with 50% off clearance price. Woohoo!
These shades might be my fav.
Ciate flower manicure from Sephora-- I couldn't resist!

April 29, 2014

The Best Lunch Ever: Thai Iced Tea + Spring Roles + Tom Kha Soup

This is literally my favorite lunch in the world. From Siam Cuisine in Kerry Town, Ann Arbor. If you ever stop by the Farmer's Market on Saturday, you have to stop by Siam and order anything on the menu + Tom Kha soup + Thai iced tea. 

There's a distinct flavor in the soup that some people don't like. I actually didn't like it when I first had it. And the time between the time I first had it and the time after was a long one -- it hadn't been since overseas in Thailand a few summers ago that I actually tasted whatever that flavor is. I think it may be citrus leaf...I'm not quite sure. But whatever it is, it is in this soup.

So besides being delicious, it's sentimental. I know I'll never be back to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project where I was stationed. I'll never be in a room with all 13 of us who volunteered. Not in Thailand and not here in the USA. Not everyone was American. I've tried at least 5 different Tom Kha soups from other authentic Thai restaurants and none compare. At all. So every spoon full of this particular Tom Kha soup brings me back to Phuket, Thailand.

Back on the sloping steep rain forest trails of the gibbon reservation. Back inside the tiny bungalow where all 13 of our tiny mattresses were laid out on the floor...and where there would be the occasional lizard in my suitcase. Where breakfast was always an assortment of fresh dragon fruits, jam stuffed cookies, and mosquito/red ant bites. We wore the same smelly tee shirts over and over again because we all packed lightly, didn't have much to choose from, and it didn't matter what we smelled like because the gibbons always smelled worse. Where we climbed inside gibbon cages the size of my bedroom with buckets of sudsy water and brushes--and scrubbed. Where we'd touch each palm together and bow our heads slightly as a greeting. Where it was totally rude to cross your legs or point your toes in someone's direction. And worse even to touch someone's head. Where "na" meant around 10 different things depending on your inflection. Bamboo grew meters over our heads. Spiders were the size of my face. We bathed in cool water warmed by the sun and stayed up late on warm nights out on the covered deck with a few amplifiers and guitars and would sing and play and sing and sing. Where technically, we weren't allowed to handle or touch baby Emily -- the tiniest rescued Gibbon of them all -- but the Thai supervisors knew we wanted to, so sometimes they would suddenly "forget something" or need to find a pen and ask one of us to bottle feed her while they were gone for a moment. We'd walk down to the 7-11 several blocks down from the site and the cashiers would smirk while we looked in awe at the sour milk and yogurt and rice cakes and red bean pastries and Thai scripture on glass Coke bottles.  Everything about them amazed us -- the Westerners -- and everything about us amazed them. 

It's possible that without all of the memories, Tom Kha isn't as delicious on its own. But last I was there, I wasn't the only one who ordered it -- so I must not be alone in my obsession. 

April 25, 2014

Recipe: Brie, Fig and Walnut Puffs

These were the result of an experimental rendition of an already experimental recipe (ok I'm exaggerating a bit) that my cousin found. And they were delightfully delicious and easy to make. A sweet and buttery treat that can pass as a dessert as well if you wanted.
You will need:
Puff pastry
Fig spread
Whole walnuts
Roll out the pastry dough and cut out around 5 inch triangles. Layer on about a half teaspoon fig spread, a slice of brie, and a walnut.
You can either roll these rugelach cookie style or fold into little diaper-like pockets like we did. No need to be neat--we sure weren't! They will taste good either way. 
Bake at 375 degrees F. for 10-15 minutes, keeping an eye out until they turn a light gold. Serve on platter and chow down.

April 24, 2014

DIY: Quick Simple Spring Flower Arrangement with Mason Jars

Sometimes when I stop by Trader Joe's I like to pick up a couple bouquets of whatever their cheapest flowers are that day. This time when I went, they had $4 sunflowers that were actually lovely and huge--as well as perky purple wax flowers that were somewhere around $2 or $3. I'm no flower arranging expert, but I thought the purple and yellow paired well for spring.
When I got home, I realized I don't actually own a vase big enough to fit all of the sunflowers--so I improvised and divided them up into mason jars instead. Actually, I think only one is an actual mason jar, the others are left over pesto or salsa or jam or something. We always save our jars. I used one bundle of sunflowers, one bundle of wax flowers and 3 jars -- just trim the stems as needed. These would look nice along a window sill or shelf, too. 
Sam the cat enjoyed the arrangement as well :)

April 23, 2014

Senegalese Twist: The Take Down, (a.k.a. Take Over)

If you look carefully, you'll see that what appears to be a small bundle of hair is actually filling up and spilling out of a standard full sized bathroom sink. 

THAT is what I was carrying on my head for over a week straight. I loved how it looked. But it sure took a huge weight off, literally, when I took the twists out.

Total take down time was about 2 hours I think. Could have been closer to an hour and a half. I wasn't paying too much attention. Next time I do this, it will be accompanied by popcorn and a movie for sure. In addition to a comfy chair. 

My hair was SUPER dry when all the excess came out. I think the extensions ate up all of the natural oils or any little drops of moisture my hair might have had. Though, when I washed it and moisturized it directly afterward, my hair went back to normal pretty fast.

I would do it again, I think, just with less hair!

April 21, 2014

My Weekend in Instagrams: Easter, College Reunion, and Toddlers

Girl's gotta eat.
Easter dinner table at grandparents'
Grandparent's backyard -- my aunt looked so cute that day :)
My baby niece and cousin in Grandpa's library looking through old albums.
Cousins are that fine line between sister and friend -- the best of both.
Flags at lunch near my favorite Thai restaurant in AA.
My trilingual baby niece. 
College reunion in AA. 
Brown sugar sea salt latte <3

April 20, 2014

OOTD: Easter Outfit of the Day

Necklace, handmade gift from my talented aunt
White cover up, T.J. Maxx
Purple sun dress, Express
Skinny leather watch, Target
Rose/beige tights, Target
Equestrian boots, DSW

Happy Easter! Looking forward to another warm spring day with good times, good food, and the best family anyone could ever ask for :)

April 15, 2014

Photos from Cameroon West Africa -- The city of Douala & the village of Dschang

My cousin Patricia on tiptoes

This was an amazing trip. I have around 1000 pictures in all -- so here are just a handful of snapshops that showcase an abbreviated story. I think the pictures of Cameroon -- the scenery, the faces of family and friends, the food, the wildlife...the pictures of it all -- are the most valuable thing I brought back to the states with me. Because they do a lot of the remembering for me. And will always be here in digital space for me to look back on. I'll also be (trying) to keep a memory blog of my trip here on this blog I created. It's more just for me, than it is something I'll be actively sharing. But all who are curious are welcome to read it. There's a lot more pictures and memories where these come from...
The view from the upper level of my Uncle Blaise's home -- that felt like a sanctuary

Pastries at a nearby shop/p√Ętisserie where we stopped for a midnight snack one night after a long day on the open road
The largest single avocado I've ever seen -- hanging from a tree in my Uncle's yard, growing next to a papaya tree

April 9, 2014

New Latidoe Spring/Summer Collection Coming Soon!

It's been way too long that I've neglected my Etsy store...so I'm working on a new spring/summer floral collection! Get excited.

These are the prints I'll be using...a little bit different than what I normally use. But I thought I'd be different this time around. 

The collection will include a range of hair accessories including

Hair flowers
Pony tail twists

All including the lovely bright colors of spring and summer. Off I go to finish the prototypes...

April 6, 2014

Senegalese Twists from Cameroon

While in Cameroon, I felt like being adventurous and trying Senegalese twists. I'd always wanted to try them out but never got around to it. In Cameroon, everything is ridiculously cheap. But often times, you do get what you pay for. So while everything is very cheap...most things that are cheap are of a similar quality. And the same holds for this experience of getting my hair done -- which cost, when converted to USD, $10. 

I loved the twists...I thought they were beautiful. I didn't mind that they were so long. I asked her not to cut the hair. I wanted them to be as long and free as possible. She used a lot of hair though! There were at least five packs of hair on my head...so when it was finished, it felt super heavy! I'm not used to having that much hair on my head. I don't think anyone is. 

I loved that I could wake up, do practically nothing to my hair, and be ready for the day. I also loved the style versatility. You can really do pretty much everything with twists that you can do with untwisted hair. But because she used so much hair...it was actually very difficult to put my hair in a ponytail. None fit! I had to use a head band instead. I also loved that even when the twists started unravelling a bit and some even started locking a bit--it still looked carefree and beautiful.

I didn't love...getting my hair pulled out! Hair stylists are rough with your hair over there...she didn't wash it prior to styling. She didn't even spritz it. She dry brushed my hair out with a fine tooth comb. So I was simultaneously watching my hair being ripped out while feeling like my scalp was being torn open--not fun! Beauty is pain I guess...it was an experience for sure.

The Salon:
The salon was one small room. With one open doorway leading to the hot outdoors. A few planks of wood connected the salon to the dirt road in front--which was separated from the salon by the sewage line. Some ares didn't have wood to walk across, you just had to step over it. The stylist--who is actually my dad's cousin--sat me inside in the shade. The process took about 3-4 hours. Leisurely. And as time passed, another woman was getting her hair set in rollers. I don't know what she paid. It was a long and painful 4 hours. But worth the $10...and I liked the results!

The result: