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The Cutest V-Day Idea: Custom Stickers & Baked Goods for Someone You Love!

Guys, HI. So y’all know that I love Valentine’s Day as a matter of principle–who doesn’t love a day all about the importance of love?–but this year I am beyond excited to share one of the most adorable V-Day ideas I have ever seen. Yes, I’m talking about these insanely cute–and did I mention customized?–labels that I’m using this year for all of my V-day baked goodies!

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If there’s one thing my friends know about me, it’s that I’m always looking for new ways to make holidays (and really any occasion) extra special through gifting. So when the amazing folks at StickerYou reached out to tell me all about their sweet selection of custom stickers, jar and bottle labels, and a whole slate of other creative personalized decorating items, and offered to send me a custom set to try, I squealed. I jumped for joy and did a little jig. Then I pretended to compose myself, said yes with admirable adult-like calmness, and giddily started whipping up a few designs for printing. And, oh my gosh–their whole team was so crazy personable and efficient: within a few days, my designs had been set to scale and printed on these thick, gorgeous glossy pages. (If you’re anything like me, you’d just love the beautifully-set, high-quality sheets of paper that they use!). And there may have been audible hallelujah choruses when I spread them all out together on my tabletop for the first time yesterday afternoon…

Best of all, all of the sticker labels I designed contain quintessentially wry Ala humor, complete with a few fanti-romance jabs for my friends who aren’t big fans of V-day! They just scream “personalized,” and I couldn’t adore them more. Here’s the full, lovely set:

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In case you can’t read them in this small picture (though they’re crystal clear in real life!), the print from left to right says:

– To: _______        From: Your Not-So-Secret Enabler

– You look pretty (darn hungry hungry right now, here eat this!)

– Eat Sweets (& Stay Sweet): Happy Valentine’s Day

– And the final two pages…

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Valentine's Day Stickers 5--020617

Amazing, no???… Read more

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10 Tips for Traveling On-the-Go (Like a Pro!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpecialKGoodness #CollectiveBias

Remember two months ago when I was still gushing about my summer travels in Europe and just couldnotforthelifeofmestoptalkingabouttravel???

Well, if all goes according to plan, I have some pretty exciting news to share with all of you in the coming weeks (!!! so stay tuned). Until then, I’m throwing back to some of the best travel hacks that I learned during my time abroad–if you’re planning a sojourn anytime soon, you’ll want to keep a few of these in your back pocket so you can travel on-the-go like a total pro!

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10. Pre-print any documents you might need: directions, contact info, spreadsheets.

When you’re on the go, it’s always a good idea to print everything you need in advance. My friend recently sent me her crazy detailed Europe spreadsheet containing hostels, dates, rates, train times, and planned sites, which are all useful to keep on hand, but it’s also a good idea to print a few maps if you plan on traveling internationally without a data plan. That being said…

9. Contact your mobile provider in advance for international data and texting plans.

Before I left for Europe, I contacted my mobile provider and asked them about affordable international data plan options. I ended up purchasing a plan for unlimited international texting and something like 200 MB data for emergencies–thankfully, too, because I ended up using all of it (and then some!). While the price tag was pretty hefty, it felt good to know that I had a fallback in case I needed it.

8. Invest in a sizable external battery pack for your phone.

My friend lent me an external battery pack before my trip to Europe and it pretty much saved my life.… Read more

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Holiday Fundraiser: Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid to people in some 60 countries whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. You can learn more about its work by visiting their website here.

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Image Source: MSF Canada

So instead of asking for letters or cards this year for Christmas, I’ve decided to fundraise for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) donations. I was motivated in large part by recent events in Aleppo, but it’s also part of a larger personal story that I’m a bit nervous about sharing. Even so, I’m including it below because it explains a lot of things, including why I finally decided to make this page. If you do choose to read it (full disclosure: I wrote a full-on, literal essay!), you have my crazy appreciation and love. Alternatively, feel free to skip straight to the fundraising page and donate here. Either way, thank you!!

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Image Source: The Tower

In 1759, economist and philosopher Adam Smith wrote “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” an excerpt of which I read in my English 45B class during my first semester at Cal. Smith’s point, in short, is this: If there was a massive earthquake one day that swallowed up the inhabitants of an entire country halfway around the world—a man would grieve, naturally—lament the loss, cry, ruminate over his own morality, perhaps. At the end of the night, however, he would go to bed, distraught, perhaps, but satisfied with his outpouring of humane sentiment for millions of abstract lives lost abroad.

Now take this same man—and chop off his little finger. Then send him to bed with his new misfortune. He will not sleep.… Read more

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Gratitude Notes: 2016 in 100 Words

2016 has been a crazy year: a year of new friends, a year of relationships come and gone, a year of travel and adventure, a year of smiles and tears and lots of heartfelt laughter. Here’s to sharing some of my favorite moments with all of you in photos and 100 words (per category, of course!).

dapper day

Dapper Day, Disneyland! (November)

challenge course

Challenge Ropes Course with last year’s Global Sibs (January)

Cookie Con

Sweet times at the LA Cookie Convention (February)

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Spanning four generations of wonderful on Chinese New Year’s (February)

Swimternity

Swim meet with some of my favorite swim club alumni <3 (March) 

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 Guess who works for Nickelodeon now??? (July)

Richard Graduation

Graduation celebrations with one of the coolest kids I know (June)

 Swim Alessio

A pic with this guy before going off to visit him in Bari, Italy in August! (June)

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 Meeting Peter Pan for the first time in Kensington Gardens, London, UK (August)

swim club

Swim club end-of-year banquet (June)

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Our Global Sibs’ big victory celebration at the end-of-year bonfire (June)

rock climbing

My first big outdoor rock climb! (October)

ice cream cone

The usual order at Disneyland: double-scoop chocolate-dipped sprinkle waffle cone with cookies ‘n cream and cookie dough (October)

peruvian students

The bright group of Peruvian high school students who came up one day and wanted to chat all about American culture! (October)

Disneyland Greg

The best Disneyland adventures partner ever (April)

hollywood bowl

 Hanging out at the Hollywood Bowl with one of the most amazing friends and confidantes a girl could ask for (May)

pokemon go

Remember Pokemon GO? Yeah, we were pretty cool with our water Pokemon raids (July)

Blarney Castle Alex

The best 48 hours ever in Cork, Ireland with an amazing friend (August)

abhik dapper day

When you couldn’t ask for a better partner-in-crime and ice cream adventures at Disneyland (November)

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This year’s AMAZING new Global Sibs family! (November)

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We didn’t really run the city, but they gave us medals anyway so…and we accept.Read more

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Love When It Is Difficult: Moving Forward After Election Night

I still remember the worn paper sign that hung in the corner of my old tenth-grade English classroom, behind our teacher’s desk by the window. The half-faded words stamped across it that looked like they had been coughed out of an inkjet printer in its dying breath, but their message was nonetheless clear:

Why do we kill people to show people who kill people that killing people is wrong?

When I think about what happened last night during the election, I think back to that sign. It’s true that this is a “historic moment” in every sense of the term, though my heart aches to type those words: for the first time in the history of the United States, we have elected a president-to-be who has never held public office or served in the military. We have elected an individual who has demonstrated repeatedly his fundamental lack of respect for women, minorities, the LGBT community, the list goes on–as well as his inability to comprehend the importance of international cooperation in a post-sovereignty world, to understand that united with the world we stand, divided from it in aggressive assertion of our superiority–we fall.

But the hate, the misogyny, the racism, and the ignorance that has spewed forth from the now president-elect’s campaign are only part of the problem here. What has been clear from the start of this very strange election cycle was that both sides built their campaigns around a foundation based on suspicion, mistrust, finger-pointing, and othering the opposition. One critical question, however, that for me has unpinned this grueling months-long process remains unasked, and so I ask it now:

Why do we hate people who hate people to show that hating people is wrong?

I am under no delusion that scapegoating and mudslinging are “new” concepts in the political arena.… Read more

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Letting go of fear–and that pink tube of pepper spray

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While this (obviously) is a food blog, today’s post addresses some of my thoughts on important issues surrounding women’s safety and social perceptions surrounding sexual assault and harrasment. We’ll be back to your semi-regularly scheduled recipes & photos next week! ~Ala

Image courtesy of the University of Missouri.

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I am sitting at one of the counter seats at Starbucks, laptop out and a messy pile of blue examination books sprawled out on the narrow wooden surface. Outside, it’s dark, though the low buzz of the cafe and the artificial lighting mean that I can–and intend to–stay for at least another 3 hours before heading home for the night. I squint my eyes, trying to decipher the illegible scrawl in front of me that is attempting to make a vaguely coherent argument about the psychiatric relevance of Winnie-the-Pooh. I have just read something about Pooh’s undiagnosed case of OCD when somebody pulls out the stool next to mine and sits down. Unconsciously, I shift my seat away just the tiniest bit to the left.

Focused as I am, another five minutes pass by in silence before I begin to notice: that feeling that jolts you slightly from the back of your head down your neck when you suddenly realize that somebody is looking at you. Or maybe it’s just that my peripheral vision is working. Whatever the case, I can feel a pair of eyes studying me as I work, a face turned in my direction rather than poring over a book as all the other faces around me are.

Then a voice: “Hey.”

It’s not a suspect “hey” or anything: not the sleazy “hey” you might get at the bar when your girlfriend goes to the bathroom and hasn’t come back yet; not the gruff “hey” of the guy sitting on a stoop leering at me as I hurry past, staring hard at the ground; not the catcall-type “hey”‘s that are hurled out of open car windows as a group of boisterously laughing and whistling men drive by.… Read more

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Asian Sesame Pasta with Steamed Broccoli

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DareToPair #CollectiveBias

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Last year, when the sneak-peek movie clip featuring broccoli-topped pizza from Inside-Out was first released, my Italian friend sent the link to me, laughing as he quoted Anger:

“Congratulations San Francisco–you’ve ruined pizza!”

As it so happens, I love broccoli on anything–even pizza–and I stand my ground when I say that it makes a great, refreshing topping for one of my favorite homemade meals: Asian sesame pasta. Luckily, I recently learned that this same Italian friend buys Barilla pasta, which is exactly what I used in this recipe: Barilla Whole Grain Spaghetti, made from 100% whole wheat! And who am I to question a true Italian who knows his pasta, right?

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It might not look like much, but trust me when I say that this 10-minute pasta recipe is just the right, light accompaniment to the nutty sesame oil and bright broccoli flavors in this dish. It’s certainly been a heaven-sent meal after swimming, which I’ve been trying to do 6-7 days a week so far this year–with success, I might add!–and the tangy vinaigrette has got to be one of my favorite flavors ever. To be honest, I’ve been cooking for two more often around here but, erm, this dish hasn’t made it to two mouths so far. Just one.

Might be mine.

So yeah, it’s pretty darn good!

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If you’re looking for a fun, new way to spruce up the nutty taste of whole grain spaghetti, this dish is your Patronus. (Sorry, we just got back from a very late Harry Potter pub night…) Your calling. Your soulmate. Whatever the heck you want to call it, it’s YOURS.

You can even run your fingers down the glorious boxes in the pasta aisle as you prance by while you shop at Walmart, if you wish.… Read more

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Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls for #SundaySupper

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Happy new year!

Remember when I shared that insanely cheesy Garlic Crack Bread with all of you last month? Well, I have another recipe up my sleeve that will warm your heart and clog our lovely arteries with equally unapologetic fervor–the perfect way to start the new year in my book. Reader, please to make the acquaintance of these Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls! Trust me, this is going to be one fast friendship you won’t want to miss in 2016!

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I don’t know about your holiday traditions, but the table at holiday dinners (especially this past Christmas) is always something of a battle zone in our family. The number of innovative chefs in our family is skyrocketing as our numbers continue to expand–thank goodness for food-savvy in-laws!–but this also means more jostling elbows and flying forks with which to wrangle when it comes to getting food on my plate. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a great system for winning our annual food fights, and it’s this…

Channeling my inner Katniss Everdeen. Muahahaha. May the brussel sprouts be ever in my favor!

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A second (perhaps slightly less worrisome) alternative is to make all of the best food at home and consume as much of it as you’d like before bringing it over to share. That may or may not have been the case when it comes to these Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls. Shhh!

I first tried them at Thanksgiving, when one of my cousins brought out a tray as pre-dinner tasters. They’re exactly what they sound like: oozing, melty mozzarrella cheese wrapped in a warm blanket of crescent roll, butter, and garlic. How could I not recreate them on my own?

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Fortunately, I was hosting an end-of-year holiday party for my friends a few weeks back at my place, which meant that I had a chance to flex my foodie muscles and test out my theory.… Read more

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2015 in Review!

I hope you’re all being drowned in a deluge of 2015 Recap posts these days, because I’m about to add to the pitiless fervor by giving you…..more recaps! Hooray!

2015 was a very special year here at Wallflour Girl. As you know, I try to spend ample time updating everyone here on my day-to-day happenings–but sometimes some (very exciting!) things fall through the cracks of daily life. So without further ado, I bring you a recap of 7 of my biggest, unmentioned accomplishments in 2015. I hope you enjoy reading about them!

7. Set the Guinness World Record for “most smiles flashed in a 2-minute period”

Okay, so how many of you knew before today that this Guinness World Record even existed?? I’ll admit–I had no idea either. Not until, that is, my friend told a particularly hilarious joke involving a bear ordering french fries in Yosemite and this goofy grin kept spasmodically popping up on my face and he suddenly turned to me and said: “Hey, you should try going for a world record of smiles!” Turns out, the application process is fairly straightforward, and I sent in my video to the review committee back in May. They sent me confirmation early last month: 122 smiles. So huzzah, you now know a world champion of smiles!!! If that’s not something to grin about, I dunno what is.

6. Became a ninja crossword puzzle creator for the NY Times

Those of you who are religious crossword fanatics will probably recognize the name Will Shortz–renowned puzzler and editor of crosswords at the NYT. Well, here’s some more big news that I’ve been hiding from all of you: I became a master crossword creator for the paper this year! Will and I met at a journalism banquet early this year on the rooftop bar of the dazzling Hilton Inn as we were sipping our sparkling ciders, and when I told him about my great love for puzzle games, he invited me to reach out about a part-time position he had open.… Read more

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Classic Apple Dumplings

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. All opinions are my own. #BrighTENtheSeason

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Apple dumplings. Have you tried them? LOVE.

If you’re down for a classic treat that will be a repeat offender at your annual holiday gathering, this is the one. My cousin makes at least two pans every year and it’s always one of the most clamored-over desserts at the table. In addition to being insanely easy to throw together at a moment’s notice, these delicious morsels are the perfect blend of cinnamon, spice, apple & everything nice!

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The secrets to this dish are simple: it uses premade crescent roll dough as breading! The sugar cinnamon sauce also contains a surprise effervescent (yay, I’ve always wanted to use that word in everyday writing) ingredient: yep, lemon-lime soda! I went moseying around Target last week during my holiday baking shopping spree and picked up a pack of 7UP TEN®, a ten-calories-only soda (with full flavor) that was perfect for this dessert.  While I was there, I also nabbed a pack of these cute mini 7UP® bottles for my mum, who likes to grab a bottle from the fridge every once in a while when she visits–possibly as she’s munching on these dumplings…

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What’s extra fun is that I get to share a bunch of coupons with all of you today so that YOU can save and make these amazing apple dumplings, too! I’ve made it twice so far this year for potlucks and am planning a third offense soon…

Cartwheel offers:

  • 30% off 12pack of Canada Dry TEN®, 7UP TEN®, A&W TEN®, Sunkist® TEN™ Soda
  • 10% off 8pack 12oz bottles of Canada Dry®, 7UP®, A&W®, Sunkist® Soda and more

Oh! And jump for joy, because giveaways galore are here for the holidays.Read more

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