About Suzanne

Hi! My name is Suzanne. Welcome to my blog. These are a few of my favorite things. This is my gratitude journal. I will look at this blog and remember all the things that have made me happy. I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I enjoy writing it. Adventures of Sweet Monday Forever...

New Look D0721

One of my New Year’s resolution is to sew more clothes. The new year started off right because I sewed another dress! I started this project during the winter break. It started out as a dress for my daughter, but actually ended up being a shirt.

We were in Joann’s and she saw this pattern and asked me to make her this dress:

New Look dress, so hip

She asked me to make View D (the one the model on the envelope is wearing). She picked out a black knit fabric. It had speckles of white in it. It kind of looked like splatters of white paint. It was the perfect fabric for her dress.

Sewing this pattern started a little rough since it was my first time sewing with knit fabric. I had a little bit of difficulty cutting out the pattern pieces. There was so much stretch in the fabric, I had to make sure that it didn’t stretch out too much before cutting it. I just let it sit for a little bit before pinning the fabric to the pattern and then cutting it out. Luckily, it all turned out well and I was able to start sewing. Sewing the dress together was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Mostly because I finally purchased a walking foot and what a difference it made!

The cowl neck was easy to sew. The sleeves were also easy. I was happy with how everything was turning out until I got to the gathering at the bottom of the skirt. I tried gathering it the old fashioned way but I wasn’t having any luck. I was having difficulty because of the stretchy knit material for some reason. After that, I remembered that I have a gathering foot so I set out to use that. I have used it before without a problem, but this time around, I ran into a lot of problems. For one thing, it wasn’t working properly. So I spent a lot of time trying to fix the gathering foot. Eventually I gave up and decided just to sew the bottom without gathers. That didn’t work out too well either. So I told Sabrina she would have to settle for a long sleeved cowl shirt. She liked it. I even made made her a matching scrunchy for her hair. I was able to finish this project before she left to go back to London. But I promised her that I would make her a dress, just without gathers.

I used the same material and it turned out great. I pretty much sewed View B but with the tight sleeves not the bell sleeves.

Here’s how it turned out:

I did a test run of this dress and wore it to work. I was surprised to receive a lot of compliments on it, even from strangers. My friends were surprised that I sewed it. I guess I did a good job on this homemade dress.

I hope Sabrina likes it too. I’ll just have to wear it a few times first (wink, wink).

Today I am grateful for pretty dresses, creativity, sewing, compliments from strangers in the elevator and homemade dresses that pass off as store bought dresses.

Boodle Fight Night

Boodle Fight Night

I had my first Boodle Fight meal. I can’t believe that I have never engaged in the style of eating before, especially since I am Filipino. It was a great and delicious experience.

Boodle Fight is a Philippine military style of eating a meal. It’s a style of eating that celebrates camaraderie and brotherhood (or in our case, sisterhood). Banana leaves are laid out on the table  (usually a long table) and food is served in a pile in the middle. No plates are used. You use the banana leaves that are on your side as your “plate”. You also don’t use utensils. You use your hands to eat which is called Kamayan. Kamay is the Filipino word for hand. Traditionally, Filipinos eat food with bare hands which is a a centuries old practice. It’s messy but fun.

So how did this Boodle Fight Night come to fruition? Well, every year, my friends and I get together for our birthdays. This year, we decided to do wine and game night which later turned into seafood night and eventually turned into a Boodle Fight night. As you can see, we added wine to our Boodle Fight.

We had king crab, shrimp and corn on the cob. We also added some roasted garlic to the pile. The sauce was delicious and even a little spicy.

There were only 5 of us. Boodle Fight is best when done with a big group of people. However, our little sisterhood of 5 women  was perfect for this night. We had plenty of food and even some leftover shrimp and corn.

What a great way to celebrate camaraderie with your friends.

Today I am grateful for sisterhood, camaraderie and Boodle Fight Nights.

Camden Market

On our last day of London, we spent the day at Camden Market. Sabrina lives in Camden Town so it was just a brief walk. Before going to Camden Market, we stopped at Blue’s Kitchen for a burger. My burger was delicious and so were the chips!

Yum…

After lunch, we were off to Camden Market. I enjoyed the atmosphere. All the shops and stalls had quirky, interesting and artsy items for sale. All things related to fashion, art, music, etc. There were also places to eat. One of them was Cereal Killer Cafe. They offer over 100 different cereals. You can order different types of milk and toppings to go with your cereal. The memorabilia inside the cafe is from the 80’s and 90’s. If you are a cereal lover, this is the place for you!

His face tho!

It was fun exploring Camden Market. Here are some of the interesting things we saw:

Statue of Amy Winehouse

bowls

Art tiles

Lamps

I love these lamps. Sabrina asked me what I want for Christmas and I told her to bring me one of these from London!

We spent the night at Sabrina’s flat. It was my favorite place to sleep because it was her flat. I felt so comfortable and at home. It was a small space but I loved it! We spent the night talking, talking, talking.

I brought a care package to Sabrina and in it was this picture which she framed and put in her room immediately.

Our afternoon tea tradition

My best friend from high school, Marylisa, and I have a tradition of trying new places for afternoon tea. We have been to many places for afternoon tea together. In the San Fernando Valley, there was a place called “The Guilded Rose”. It was a purple house and inside it was like an English cottage. They served afternoon tea and that was always our place to go. Unfortunately, they closed down and that is when we started looking for other places to go for afternoon tea. The places we have tried in the past were the Huntington Library, the Four Seasons, the Chado Tea Room and the Elle C Garden Cafe in Santa Clarita.

Cute tea cup and saucer

This year we tried the Madeline Garden Bistro in Pasadena. This restaurant had a very European feel to it because of it’s decor and atmosphere. It was tres chic.  We ordered the Royal afternoon tea and it was very different than the usual tea sandwiches,  scones and dessert. This tea offered a soup or salad, a hot tier, a cold tier, scones and dessert. For my tea, I ordered Earl Grey. That was unusual for me because I usually like to order teas that I haven’t tried before and that have an unusual combination. I still enjoyed it and as usual, I added milk and sugar to my tea. Delicious.

The first course came out and it was actually the scones. We ended up saving that for later and then our soup and salad came out. I chose the tomato soup.

You say tomato, I say tomato…soup

Then the tiers came out. The first tier was the hot tier which included steak, potatoes au gratin, a hot crab salad and shrimp.

the hot tier

We started on the hot tier, of course. Then the next tier was the cold tier.

so cold

This tier included the tea sandwiches that I always look forward to. The sandwiches that were included in this tier were the salmon and butter tea sandwich and the  cucumber and cream cheese tea sandwich. There was also a caprese salad skewer and a shrimp cocktail.

Since we saved our scone for later, after our cold tier, we decided to eat our scone with the clotted cream and jam. The waiter said it was a Christmas scone so it had pieces of dried fruit in it, like a Christmas fruitcake.  It was pretty good.

The dessert tier was next. It was very elegant. It had creme brulee, a macaroon and a chocolate brownie with frosting and peppermint sprinkles on top.

I really enjoyed this experience. I liked the European decor. Our table was set nicely. We sat on elegant couches with cute fluffy pillows. On this day, there was a guitarist playing music in the background. I would definitely go here again. They also serve tapas and champagne brunch. They have very good service and are very friendly and accommodating.  Interestingly, our royal afternoon tea came with champagne but our waiter forgot to give it to us. They apologized and gave us a discount on our bill. I think it would have been fun to drink champagne with a high tea. I will try that next time.

Paris, baby

During our trip to London, we planned a weekend getaway to Paris. We took the Eurostar which was a 2 hour train ride to Paris. When we arrived, it was already late at night. The next day was our first full day and it was raining!

Rain in Paris

Our first stop was to a restaurant that Sabrina really wanted to try. This restaurant only serves steak and fries (steak et frites). Sabrina really enjoyed the food at this restaurant and the experience was so Paris. It was also Josh’s first time eating steak and he thought it was delicious.

We then took a walk to see the Eiffel Tower and on the way, we passed the Arc De Triomphe.

On the way to the Eiffel Tower, we also stopped at the stores to go shopping. We also bought macaroons at Laderee.

Inside the Laderee boutique

Our macaroons

My choices for the macaroons were orange blossom, vanilla and rose. Even though vanilla is a basic flavor, it ended up being my favorite because it was the most flavorful.

We finally made it to the Eiffel Tower.

The next day, we took a walk to see the Louvre. On our way, we passed the Eiffel Tower again and this time, we had crepes for breakfast.

Chantilly Crepe for breakfast under the Eiffel Tower

We finally made it to the Louvre.

Unfortunately, we didn’t go inside.  We were talking about seeing the Mona Lisa. Maybe next time. Afterwards, we went inside the Carousel De Louvre to go window shopping.  While there, we stopped at McCafe and ordered cappuccinos and macaroons. They weren’t as good as the Laderee macaroons but it was fun  to buy macaroons at McDonalds in Paris!

McCafe coffee and McMacaroons!

I loved visiting Paris and I will certainly go again.

 

 

London, baby…

We spent our Thanksgiving holiday week in London with a weekend getaway to Paris. The reason for our visit? To visit my daughter, Sabrina, who is living in London currently while she works on her Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management at Kings College.

The original plan was for my son, Josh and I to stay in her flat. She lives in student housing. She shares a flat with about 7 flatmates. She has her own room with a bathroom and they share the kitchen and common area. I was really excited to stay with her in her flat even though it is a small room and we would be very crowded. It turned out that it wasn’t in the plan and instead, my daughter got us an Airbnb in Bermondsey. In Bermondsey, we were right by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. On one of our days in Bermondsey, my son and I spent a day at the Tower of London while my daughter was in class. I think his favorite part of the Tower of London was learning about the knights, seeing their armor and touching the chain mail and seeing the weapons that they used. We walked on the Tower Bridge to get to the Tower of London and then afterwards, we did more strolling and sight seeing.

Josh strolling through London with the Tower Bridge as his view.

Josh at the Tower of London

We also spent a day sight seeing with my daughter. Living in London, she knew all the places to go and how to get there by walking (which we did A LOT of) or by taking the tube. Our first stop was to eat fish and chips at Fish! Kitchen at the Borough Market.

We then took the tube and our stop was Westminister to see Big Ben and Westminister Abbey.

Big Ben was under construction at the time of our visit so I didn’t get to really see it. We thought that was funny since it was one of the attractions I really wanted to see. We then took a walk to to see the London Eye and then another walk to Sabrina’s school, Kings College.

Sabrina at Kings College

At night, we went shopping at Oxford Street.

The next day was spent taking a brisk (one hour) walk to Sabrina’s school. We had a lot of fun walking and Josh had a great time running and jumping through the crunchy fall leaves.

While Sabrina was working on a project at school, Josh and I went to Somerset House to go ice skating. I think this was Josh’s favorite part of the trip. He was so excited! The ice was great and the weather and scenery was delightful.

We also went to Winter Wonderland at Hyde park at night. We had fun shopping for candy, playing games and walking around the park.

Our first few days in London was fun and exciting. It was a wonderful experience. Our next adventure was a weekend trip to Paris. Stay tuned…

My adaptation of the Caramel Apple Poke Cake

1479061044377

I tried making this Caramel Apple Poke Cake  from Delish.com (a recipe by Lindsay Funston). It was definitely delish!

According to Delish.com, here are the ingredients that this recipe requires:

2 tbsp. butter, plus more for pan
All-purpose flour, for pan
1 box spice cake mix, plus ingredients needed for batter
5 Granny Smith apples, finely chopped (peeled if desired)
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. corn starch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/4 c. jarred caramel, plus more for drizzling

FOR THE FROSTING
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 tbsp. butter, softened
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

My dilemma? I couldn’t find spice cake. My other dilemma? I didn’t want to make the frosting from scratch. So I bought a yellow cake mix, added some spices to make it a spice cake and I bought ready made cream cheese frosting.

So here is my adapted list of ingredients for the caramel apple poke cake that I made:

CARAMEL APPLE POKE CAKE- Sweet Monday style

1 box of yellow cake mix, plus ingredients needed for batter (which in my case was 3 eggs, water and vegetable oil)
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
1/4 tsp. of ground cloves
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of nutmeg
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. corn starch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
one jar of Smucker’s caramel flavored topping (12.25 oz.)

-Butter a 9-x-13″ baking pan or dish.
-Mix the yellow cake mix, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg together.
-Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions (i.e. add eggs, water and oil) and pour into the prepared pan. Bake according to package directions. Let cool, about 20 minutes.
-Prepare the apple layer: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the brown sugar and white sugar, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg and stir until combined. Add the corn starch and lemon juice and stir until combined. Remove from heat.
-When cake is cooled, poke holes using a thick straw or the end of a wooden spoon, all over the cake.
-Pour the caramel all over the cake, especially over the poked holes.
-Spread the apple mixture on top.
-Spread the cream cheese frosting over apple layer.
-Dust the top of the cake with cinnamon.

I have a great idea on how to adapt this recipe into cupcakes. After the cupcake has cooled,  poke one big hole in each cupcake and fill it with caramel. Instead of spreading a layer of apples and then spreading the cream cheese frosting on top of that, mix the apple mixture and cream cheese frosting together to make it an apple pie cream cheese frosting. Sounds pretty good, right?!

I must admit that I was a little hesitant about this recipe. It sounded like it would be too sweet with all the spices, the caramel, the cream cheese frosting and the sweet apples. But actually, it was the perfect combination together. The spices blended well together with all of the other ingredients and it was the perfect amount of sweetness. It reminded me of an apple pie with caramel on top.