The Happiest Place in Europe

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Yup, on saturday, I went to Paris Disney with my friend Julia. The thing was, I had done the cliche things before (Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Arch de Triumph, Bastille, Louvre…) and I was bound to do a few of them again in a few weeks with Patrick (He’s coming to visit and I’m oh-so-very excited!), so I did what any avid Disney fan would do. Booked a ticket for the Walt Disney Studios and Paris Disney and spent the entire day being 5 again. There were non of the regrets.

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Being logical people, we started in The Walt Disney Studios because it closed at 7, whereas the other park closed at 10. We figured that this way, we would be able to spend all the time we wanted in both parks instead of being rushed through one and not the other. Let me tell you, it was absolutely freezing! But Julia and I were total troopers (not to mention huge disney fans) so we had a pretty awesome day.

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We started off with the Rockin’ Roller Coaster, which I had never done before and let me tell you, it was absolutely amazing! I’m not a huge coaster person, but strangely I enjoy every single one in Disneyland and this one was no different. It’s almost reminiscent of Space Mountain, shooting you off into the dark and sending you on a wild twisting ride. I screamed so much (confession: I did lose my voice by the end of the day). We did skip Tower of Terror due to the long line (60 min) and well, both us of weren’t too keen on it and we ended up having to skip Crush’s Coaster due to another long, unmoving line in the cold (75+ min). We did however have a blast wandering around

Toy story Studio

Toy story Studio

Toon studio

Toon studio

Cars :)

Cars 🙂

and ducking into Animagique and cinemagique for defrosting purposes.

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I loved cinemagique, there’s just something about sketched out disney characters that just makes me love it even more!

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Some adorable kids filling up the scream-o-meters

And then we made our way to Disneyland!

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We started at Frontier land

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Stopping by to ride the Phantom Manor and grab fast passes for Big Thunder mountain

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Then made our way to Adventure land. Unfortunately Pirates was closed and Indiana Jones was too crowded so we decided to stop by on our way back…and forgot. We did walk through a warm passage that told Aladdin’s story though

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And then we went to Fantasy land, where we rode It’s a Small World

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Passed the long lines for Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo and the Teacups, Snow White was closed and we couldn’t find Pinocchio. But we did find the curious labyrinth…

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We explored Aurora’s Castle after we got turned down at Big Thunder Mountain. Zere was a leetle technical difficulty, so they told us to come back later…or perhaps the next day? Julia and I decided that perhaps a snowy day was not the best time to ride an outdoor roller coaster where there have been reports of fatal accidents (I believe a car got de-railed once)

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Then we went to Tomorrow land/Discovery land to ride Space Mountain

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Four words: Best. Space. Mountain. Ever. It was amazing is all I can say.

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And then it started to REALLY SNOW

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SO we watched Captain EO (to defrost), got into a little competition at Buzz Light Year’s Astro Blasters (I got my butt served. I’m terrible at that ride) and finished the day with a little shopping on Mainstreet.

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By 8 PM, both Julia and I were too cold and frozen to head back to the other rides to see if the lines got shorter and just high-tailed it to the metro station back to her apartment where we cuddled under blankets and drank hot tea.

Don’t get me wrong, that was the best day I’ve had so far!  But word of advice: if it’s too cold and you have other days to go to disney, do go during the warmer days. The lines at Paris Disney were mostly outside and there was no way Julia and I were going to wait 30 + minutes in the freezing cold. I think the cold was another reason why they had so many technical difficulties. What with Pirats, Snow White and an entire section of Walt Disney Studios closed and technical difficulties with Big Thunder Mountain and Peter Pan’s Flight as soon as it started snowing, it’s clear Disney Paris is a place to be once it gets warmer.  Also Disney Paris should invest in heat lamps to station along the lines….

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Lost in the Louvre: Searching for Mona

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So luckily, because we were students, we got into the louvre for free. I absolutely love perks like that. The last time I was at the louvre, was after trekking through Versailles with my family. We were exhausted and honestly, it probably wasn’t the best idea to do both equally large tourist things on the same day. Long story short, my family made a straight beeline (which is ironic, bees never fly straight…) to the Mona Lisa, saw her, took some photos and headed straight to a cafe nearby for some refreshments.

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Okay back to the present, by the way, did I mention how cold Paris was? Because it was and I have only been to Paris when it’s blusteringly warm…. So once we got inside and defrosted a bit, we decided to take a look around, enjoy the art, soak it in and let it revive us. We decided to make Mona Lisa our last grand piece of art before we would call it a day and leave the Louvre. So we started at the sculptures! Where we oogled chiseled abs and sculpted butts (Literally) and marveled at the greek stories behind them (well I did, I was really into Greek mythology as a child. Everyone read Captain Underpants and I read Greek myths. My favorite? The story of Persephone. Yeah I was a nerd, we start young.)

You didn't think I would make a pun aout sculpted butts without giving you one to oogle did you?;)

You didn’t think I would make a pun about sculpted butts without giving you one to oogle did you?;)

After the sculptures, we made our way to the top floor to look at the paintings. Lea and I got a little too excited because they reminded us of many of the Spanish painters we studied in our Prado class. And then we saw art that we didn’t quite understand…

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After an hour or so though, we all got arted out. I mean, honestly, the Louvre is huge! I feel like you could go everyday for a year and still NOT see everything! We started to get tired so we attempted to find Mona Lisa…

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And got lost in the recreations of Napoleon III’s chambers…

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And possibly ended up walking in the wrong direction…

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But sheesh, how did Napoleon NOT get lost in his own house? There were so many rooms and we still didn’t see all of it!

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We finally managed to escape the rooms and make our way down a sneaky flight of stairs in the back..

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And realized that we were in the complete wrong wing for Mona Lisa. Oops? Well what’s a good adventure if you don’t end up getting lost?

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When we finally got to Mona Lisa, we took our photos, marveled and headed straight for the exit for some hot chocolate at Angelina (which in my opinion has the best hot chocolate in all of Paris, but I’ll talk more about that in a different post).  The Louvre is absolutely gorgeous, but you have to accept that you can’t do it all in one day nor can you do it all in a few visits. Just make sure you drop by to say hi to Mona 🙂


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mmm chocolate

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Bonjour Paris!

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So I spent the past weekend in Paris and this is by no means my first time there. In fact, it was my third time in the city of l’amour, incredible boulangeries and patisseries, I found plenty of ways to keep myself occupied! And I may make some posts about my previous adventures in Paris as well (if you all don’t mind).

My friend Lea and I landed in Beauvais at 8 AM, bright eyed and bushy tailed…okay so maybe that’s a lie, but it was still fun. We bought our tickets for a bus from Beauvais to Pershing Park in Paris (a bus parking lot near Ponte Maillot, line 1) which was about an hour and a half away from Beauvais. Let me tell you, Paris was a lot colder than Madrid, but it was still exciting! There’s just something about travelling that makes a place so magical and amazing. People always think that magical worlds like Narnia and Harry Potter are inaccessible and only a part of our imagination, but I feel that just travelling to new (and maybe even old places) can lead us to magical adventures 🙂

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Okay enough of the cheesy talk, after figuring out the metro (which like Madrid is so much easier to navigate) and finally getting to my friend’s apartment which is located in the 9th arrondissement literally 5 minutes from the Moulin Rouge and a wonderful view of the Sacré Coeur from her window! Unfortunately we were unable to see the Moulin Rouge because it tends to get a tad pricey for college students. Luckily I had seen it before, when I was in 7th grade, where I marveled at it for 10 minutes and crashed on the table (hey I was only in 7th grade, it was past 1 AM and I was jet lagged and let me tell you I struggled to stay awake!)

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After settling down in my friend, Julia’s, apartment, we went to lunch to meet Lea’s friends for lunch! Where I may have gotten a tad too tipsy on an amazing wine and Baba au Rhum (a rum soaked dessert that is a must-try!). Afterwards, we made our way to the louvre to see the Mona Lisa!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Parque das Nações

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So on our last day in Lisboa (sorry that this is such a late post) we went to Parque das Nações, a leisure area close to the ocean with beautiful views and it’s own marina, Marina do Parque das Nações. It’s also close to the Oceanarium, one of the world’s largest aquariums. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go, which was a huge bummer for me because I am a sucker for aquariums. I don’t know why, but they are so comforting to me and they are so beautiful. Anyway, I’m not hear to tell you guys about the aquarium that I didn’t get to go to. The Parque itself was beautiful enough! Once we wandered our way to one end of the park, we decided to take the Telecabine (or the cable cars) down to the other end.


IMG_6980Not only were they cheap (a mere 3.5 euros)  the views were absolutely gorgeous

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Off on a semi-adventure!

While it was a short trip, it was still pretty fun and the sky was so BLUE! I couldn’t help but feel a little bad for my friends back in NYC who were surviving through a blizzard…

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I’m on top of the world!!! Okay, maybe not but it felt like it 🙂

Afterwards, we wandered over to the Marina

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and had a quick snack at the Lighthouse where we all tried Lisboa’s port wine. While it was very sweet, I didn’t really enjoy it. However this may be because we didn’t get excellent quality port (hey, we’re only broke college students studying abroad).

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Thanks for the photo Julie!

After our snack, we wandered slowly back toward the metro stop to head back to our hostels and pack our things. But on our way, we walked through the Vasco da Gama Mall. Now I got a kick out of that name because it brought back memories from 5th grade. We did reports on explorers and mine was Vasco da Gama. Not only did I do a report, but I dressed up like him for a presentation as well. Ahhh the memories!

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Alas, I’m back in Madrid, yearning for the next time I go to Lisboa. I can’t wait to go back, actually go to the Oceanarium and stuff myself with Pastel de Natas. Lisboa is definitely a little gem of a city and if you have the time, go check it out 🙂

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

 

p.s some of these photos were taken by my friends 🙂

Craving some Asian Foods

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While I’m loving Madrid, there’s something that I crave: Asian food. I mean I’m sure there are asian restaurants in Madrid, I’ve seen them around but I have never had the time to check them out. So what’s a girl to do when she’s craving some dumplings? Make her own! I looked around on the web and found a promising looking gyoza recipe from La Fuji Mama, but as always I added and omitted a few ingredients. Gyoza are pan-fried potstickers that are really popular in Japan. I’ve made gyoza many times before, usually with my family, but I’ve also made them on my own. Just sitting around and assembling them brings me back such good memories from my childhood. Like how my sister and I would compete to see who had the prettiest one or how we’d laugh when the wrappers would split because we’d overfill them. Now I’ve always made gyoza using premade dumpling wrappers, unfortunately, because my señora couldn’t find the right ingredients, we had to improvise. They did come out wonderfully though and I’m proud to say that my housemates enjoyed them immensely 🙂 Let’s just say that this recipe is easy and a crowd pleaser!

So let’s get cooking!

Ingredients:

-Dumpling wrappers (at least 40 or so)*

Filling:

-1/2 lb ground pork (I’ve made them with beef before and they tasted good, but I prefer them with pork)

-1-2 cloves of garlic

-minced cabbage (about 4 cups)

-1/2 tbsp grated ginger (I just grated as much as I wanted)

-1-2 stalks of green onion (now La Fuji Mama says to use the green part only, I liked adding the other parts as well)

-1 tbsp soy sauce (I added this)

-1 tsp sesame oil

-1 tsp rice vinegar

-Salt and pepper about a big pinch each

Now these are the ingredients I omitted:

-2 teaspoon aka miso paste (red/dark miso paste)

-1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper

-1/4 teaspoon sugar

* My señora couldn’t find dumpling wrappers, so we used empanada wrappers which worked perfectly. I also have tried to make my own dumpling wrappers (the recipe is here) and they came out pretty perfectly.

Directions:

  1. Toss the minced cabbage with salt and let it sit for a few minutes. While the salt pulls out the water from the cabbage, prep the other ingredients. Mince the green onion and mix it with the ground pork in a large bowl. I made a garlic paste instead of simply mincing the garlic, you can do that by mincing the garlic, sprinkling a little salt and then smooshing it with the flat of your blade. IMG_7009Add the garlic paste, grated ginger, salt, pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and the cabbage (make sure you squeeze out the water!) to the bowl and mix until everything is combined.
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  2. Make a cornstarch slurry. If you don’t have cornstarch, water works just fine. Lay one dumpling wrapper on a dry, clean surface and place a spoonful of filling in the center. Dip your finger in the slurry (or water) and run it along the edges of the dumpling wrapper. Fold the wrapper over and press along the edges to seal them shut. Pleat the top of the dumpling and set aside on a plate or sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining wrappers.

    It's okay if some come out messy. It takes practice to pleat these things and sometimes one can't help but overfill the little wrappers.

    It’s okay if some come out messy. It takes practice to pleat these things and sometimes one can’t help but overfill the little wrappers.

  3. Lightly coat the bottom of a large frying pan (skillet/saute pan/etc.) with sesame oil and heat over medium high heat. Carefully place as many dumplings in the pan as you can with the pleated side up. Cook until the bottoms are a golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  4. Once the bottoms are browned, carefully add in 1/4 cup of water. The water will bubble and jump out (it gets repelled by the oil due to the fact that well oil is hydrophobic..hehehe Biology), so be careful!  La Fuji Mama says to drizzle in 1/2 a tsp of sesame oil once the spluttering stops, but I never did. Cover the pan with a tightly fitted lid, lower the temperature so that the water is at a simmer and steam until the tops of the dumplings are translucent, about 2 minutes).la foto 2
  5. Remove the lid once the skins are translucent and let the dumplings continue to cook until there is only oil left in the pan. Once you hear a sizzling sound and all the water is gone, give the pan a little shake. The dumplings should slide about.  If they seem to stick to the pan, move the pan away from the stove and replace the lid for a moment.  Remove the dumplings from the pan with a broad flexible spatula.
  6. Cook some rice to go along with the gyoza, set the table with soy sauce, rice vinegar and some chili oil (for dipping sauces) and you’re ready to eat!

These were so yummy, I can’t wait to make them again. I also realized that perhaps I need to learn more Asian dishes, I’m definitely getting my dad to tell me how to make his katsu (japanese fried foods) because those are just…unf….

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Help the Nundu!

Butterbeer Snitch Cake

Butterbeer Snitch Cake

For those of you who don’t really know what I do besides cooking and baking, I play Quidditch.

For those of you muggles who don’t quite understand what Quidditch is, let me explain. Quidditch is a very popular wizarding sport within the wonderful world of Harry Potter (why yes, yes I am a Harry Potter nerd and I am quite proud of that). Now usually this sport occurs in the sky upon broomsticks that actually fly. Alas, we are still muggles ourselves and must do with a slightly adapted version of Quidditch that even muggles can play. If you read the books, I won’t have to explain the sport much, but if you haven’t here I go:

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I’m a seeker on the NYU Nundu and I am absolutely proud to say that my team is going to Florida for this year’s World Cup! Unfortunately, we need some help in getting there. Each one of these amazing players have been like family to me and they have been wonderful taste-testers for my baked goods. If you could help us by donating some funds, it would be greatly appreciated and we would love you forever!

The link for donating is here and for every donation, there are little perks!

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Brooms Up!

Mimi

Sweetheart Cookies

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Valentine’s Day is literally just around the corner, so it’s time to break out my traditional valentine’s day cookies! Okay so they aren’t really a tradition, but I’ve made them for the past 4 years every single Valentine’s Day so they might as well be a tradition. I got the recipe from my Williams-Sonoma Kids Cookies cookbook. I dipped the cookies in chocolate because I absolutely adore chocolate. Some people enjoy the cookies without the chocolate, I like a little chocolate-y goodness on my cookies, so I’ll leave the chocolate coating decision up to you. Either way they look super cute and they’re super easy to make. I mean they’re just sugar cookies dressed up. So let’s get baking!

Ingredients:

-2 cups AP flour
-1/4 tspn baking powder
-1 tspn vanilla extract
-3/4 cup unsalted butter (now I made it 1 whole cup because my dough was super dry)
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 egg
-Red food coloring
Coating:
-1 cup semisweet chocolate

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the baking powder and the flour in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until light and creamy. Add in the flour mixture (a little bit at a time) and beat until smooth. Gather the dough into a mass and divide in half.
  3. Transfer one half of the dough into a smaller bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Add red food coloring to the remaining dough and mix until the dough is evenly colored. Now I like a slight pinkish hue, red makes it look garish, but again this is all up to you.
  4. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and grab two equal amounts of the pink dough and the uncolored dough. Set one of the dough pieces to the side (pink or white). Take the other piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Then roll the dough ball to form a rope. Take the other ball of dough and form it into a rope.
  5. Place the pink rope next to the white rope, press together gently and twist the ropes together. Then twist the rope into a heart shape. Now the twisting part can get a little hard, so I usually just roll the two strings into one and then shape it into a heart from there. Gently pinch the ends together and set onto a baking sheet
  6. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  7. Bake in the oven for 8-14 minutes or until the cookies begin to turn a very light golden brown around the edges.
  8. Let the cookies cool and if you do want to coat half of the cookies in chocolate, melt some chocolate in a microwavable bowl and dip the cookies. Lay them out on some wax paper and let the chocolate harden. Just make sure to let the cookies cool completely before dipping them in the chocolate.

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Hugs and puppies!

Mimi