The secrets to your best Bolognese!

When your best friends happen to be personal chefs in Bel-Air, you pick their brain for professional cooking tips!  We decided to spend  an evening together, shopping for the freshest ingredients at Eataly in LA and then hitting the kitchen for some lessons in cooking a good Italian dinner!  Eataly has everything you could dream of, from a meat and seafood counter, to produce and pastas.  We could’ve spent hours in there! I think we did!

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We put our heads (and cravings) together and came up with a menu of:

A Charcuterie board, sautéed cauliflower and spinach, roasted beets and burrata salad with truffle honey, toasted hazelnut carrots, squid ink pasta and clams in a white wine sauce, and pasta Bolognese! Be still my heart!

At Eataly, we tasted cheeses, salamis, and prosciutto that were heavenly! I highly recommend doing this before purchasing your meats and cheeses for a charcuterie board to ensure that you absolutely love the flavors of each component.

Charcuterie!!! Daniel grilled the crostini and what a difference!7A48CE5D-392B-484A-8F1D-39A9C3C2EFC0

We found freshly made squid ink tagliatelle and spaghetti alla chitarra at the pasta counter where you can watch the employees knead, roll, cut, and shape pasta by hand!

My friend Daniel wanted to do a Bolognese with a mixture of veal, pork, and beef so we bought a combination of those meats and he magically mixed and seasoned it to perfection using salt, pepper and italian seasonings.  Then he formed the mixture into one large patty.

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Pro tip from Chef Danny, as I like to call him:  sauté your meat in one large formed patty and “do not disturb.”  This creates a golden brown charred outer crust.  Once you’ve browned the giant patty, remove from heat and hand-crumble it so that the pieces are not all the same, but more organic in shape and size.

The sauce for the Bolognese was made from scratch, by sautéing carrots, onions, heirloom tomatoes and garlic in EVOO, deglazing with red wine, adding in tomato purée, and finally returning the meat back to the pan.

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Pro tip from Chef Danny: Use tomato purée instead of tomato sauce for better sauce consistency.

I also saw him sneak some a couple spoonfuls  of the starchy pasta water into the sauce at the very end, to slightly thicken the pasta sauce.  So sneaky!

The fresh pasta was al-dente in just about 6 minutes.

My best friend Racquel made the most amazing clam and white wine sauce that I could eat every night! It was light, but rich at the same time, if that’s even possible!  I fall in love with her more every day!

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They also taught me a shortcut to shaving cauliflower, which is simply slicing thinly with a sharp knife as opposed to making a mess of it all with a grater or a food processor. Duh!

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If you’ve never had burrata and beet salad… This is amazing!

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Here’s our finished Bolognese! It was to die for!

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After all that cooking, all that’s left to do is choose a wine to enjoy with dinner!

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I cannot thank my friends enough for an amazing night of shopping and cooking, laughing and sharing. Follow them on Instagram!

Chef Danny: https://www.instagram.com/thefreshchefofbelair/

Chef Rocky: https://www.instagram.com/rockymercedes/

Bon Apetit!

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Kay’s Corner: Life Updates

Hello Everybody! It’s been a while. I’ve been writing this post over and over again because I just couldn’t figure out how to start. I tried thinking about what would be a good hook to make my life seem more exciting and interesting, but then I realized that I should stick with the platform my mom and I try to uphold: realness. So, with that, HELLO!!!! I’m writing to you all today with updates on my crazy, college life. (It’s not that crazy, only on weekends ;))

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First off, I finished my first quarter at UCD! (queue confetti on screen) It was probably the best experience of my life. I have fallen in love with this place. From the late-night warm chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa, to the dorm life of a 24/7 sleepover with your closest friends, to the coho days and sun rays on the quad; Davis is my haven. I’ve found that my happiness stems from the wholesome people I’m surrounded by, and the endless opportunities that seem to fill this school. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

I just survived midterm season #3, scarred and traumatized yes, but alive and happy at the end of it. Currently, I am taking my hardest schedule yet- I call it the trifecta of death: Math, Chem and Bio (with a theatre class thrown in there). So my inactiveness has a lot to do with the schedule I am taking on. Something that I have noticed this past month, starting off the new year,  is the immense feeling of gratitude I have to be here, at this amazing university. I’ve found so many reasons to be thankful specifically in this past month for some reason. Maybe it’s because I know I’m halfway done with my first year of college, and this dorm life is going to be just a memory I talk about fondly for the rest of my life. I’ve started this thing where I write something that made my day, or something I’m thankful for on my monthly calendar. Just so I see everyday there is something good that happens. Some of you should try it with me, and see what it is you all write down. #Blessingsonblessings

You all know that I recently joined Camp Kesem as a camp counselor (THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO DONATED IT MEANS SO MUCH), but I wanted to talk  about something that struck me during my first training session. As camp counselor, we are there to be role models. We are there to be supportive, enthusiastic, excited, and confident. We are there to be LEADERS. And in our first training session we were asked to raise our hands if we believe that we are leaders. I didn’t raise my hand, but a lot of people in the room did. This really made me think about why I didn’t raise my hand. I have taught many times, I’m a role model for the kids in my family, my siblings- I have never been one to shy away from leadership. But when asked head on, if I was a leader, I couldn’t bring myself to say yes. I should’ve. Next time, I will. I think it’s important to give yourself the credit where it’s due. I’m learning that you can stay humble, yet be confident at the same time.

In my crazy, college life thus far, I have learned a lot. Even though I am still young, here’s some of the life advice I’ve learned while being here:

  1. Be selfish. Take all the time in the world to invest in yourself, and cherish the moments in your life. Ever since I turned 16, life has been moving very fast, and as far as I can tell, it doesn’t slow down. (I’m apartment hunting now for god sakes).
  2. Own up to your mistakes. Don’t let pride stop you from fixing things or apologizing; humility is good for you.
  3. Take note of every time you find yourself laughing. It’s good to know that you will always laugh or smile more times than you will cry.
  4. Know you’re worth. Know what you stand for. Be fierce in getting what you want.
  5. There are no shortcuts.
  6. Squirrels are suicidal. They run in front of your bikes, and even if you swerve, they follow your wheels. Beware.
  7. Do NOT eat more than 4 fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies in one sitting. You will always regret it even if you think, “This time will be different”.
  8. Longboards are not invincible. A piece of bark can ruin your day. (And your knees).
  9. Chase passion. You will never regret it.
  10. It’s all about the little victories. Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they aren’t still victories.
  11. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life should be fun, so let it be.

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Overall, in my first quarter at Davis I managed to:

  • Join Kappa Kappa Gamma (I’m currently on the Academic Excellence committee and a coach for ArrowJam2018- a dance competition between the Greek Life organizations on campus. @ Las Lomas Students think MockRock on a mass scale)
  • Join Camp Kesem as a counselor
  • Start a path towards becoming a learning assistant next year for chemistry
  • Start a theatre path to be in the Theatre festival this summer at Davie 🙂
  • Fall off my bike ONLY TWICE
  • Spend $200 of Aggie cash on coffee alone
  • Get sick a multitude of times from the dorms
  • Make amazing friendships that will last
  • Conclude that Crepeville has THE best pancakes in Davis
  • Gain and Lose 8 pounds
  • Gone to Tahiti
  • Find the most appreciation and love for my family, more than I’ve ever had before
  • Take more naps in these 6 months than in the past 2 years

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Thank you so much for reading- I promise this is only the beginning of my journey. I’m just getting started 🙂

Lots of Love & Hope,

Kaylena

P.S. My shirt is from Chicnyc.com! They have a ton of super cute tees that I want. Get 70% with the code “herflection” at checkout 🙂

Affordable Valentine’s Day outfits you’ll fall in love with!

Sharing some ideas for what to wear on Valentine’s Day!  I found some steals that were too cute to pass up, so here they are!

Cozying up with a movie?  I love the feel of this soft pink sweater from Forever 21.  These polka dot pants keep the look feminine without being too girly.  They were also from Forever 21, and are perfectly high waisted.  Similar style here. Their merchandise can vary depending on your location.  This outfit was under $100.

An off the shoulder dress shows just enough skin.  However, the slit doesn’t hurt either (truly)! My pink dress was on sale at Urban Outfitters.  Still available in one other color!  Throw a coat on after the sun sets.  Perfect for a date that might last day and into the evening if your special someone is a romantic.  Hey, a girl can dream!  Coat from Anthropologie.   The same stilettos I wore with the palazzo pants can be found by clicking: here.  This outfit was under $150.

Perfect for Galentine’s or a casual affair, throw a blazer on with some relaxed denim and comfy booties.  I love the bell sleeve on this blazer!  It’s currently on sale here!  Mom jeans can be found by clicking here.   Most comfortable studded booties ever from Forever 21 are also still available.  This outfit was under $150.

Hope this post was helpful or provided a little inspo!  Can you tell I’m a sucker for a good sale?  I hope you share your outfit ideas with me as well!

Xoxo,

Karen

On Sundays We Wear Black

Who wore black today and watched The 75th annual Golden Globe Awards?  Can we just talk about the Times Up initiative?  What a beautiful sea of black that graced the red carpet in support of the movement highlighting harassment in the workplace and in protest to gender inequality.  I loved how the women were showing each other so much love and building each other up.  I feel like this is the new way that women will treat each other moving forward.

Oprah Winfrey was honored tonight and presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award and I think it’s safe to say we were all moved by her acceptance speech.  I love Oprah, and while I’ve always found her to be inspiring, tonight she reached a deeper part of my soul.     Her words were empowering.  One thing Oprah said was: “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” She delivered a message of hope.  With everything going on in the world, we need hope now more than ever.  While we cannot change things overnight, at least we are having the dialogue and moving in the right direction.

Also, Thank you Oprah for bringing to light, the story of Recy Taylor.  Read more of her story here: Recy Taylor.

One of my goals for 2018 is to read more.  Thanks for the reminder Oprah, that I need to check out your book club!

What are you all reading this year? Please leave me your suggestions!

Have an amazing week everyone!

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xoxo, Karen

 

Tahiti Itinerary Part Two

As promised, let’s talk about the second part of our trip! Through these photos and the video on part one of this post, you can see the undeniable beauty of the island of Moorea.  With the crystal clear water and beautiful bungalows, it was a vacation indeed. After the Ori Tahiti Nui competition, we hopped on a ferry to the heart-shaped island where we stayed in an overwater bungalow at the Intercontinental Hotel in Moorea.
The hotel was beautiful and peaceful with its rows of bungalows, bridges, palm trees and dolphins. (Yes, there are resident dolphins at this resort.)
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Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetLucky for us, our bungalow was in the middle of the lagoon where you can see the sharks and rays feeding at sunrise. Sure enough, we were joined by a ray the next morning with my morning coffee.  The life in the lagoon is beautiful beyond words!
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The lagoon water in Moorea is warm, unbelievably clear, yet a vibrant turquoise at the same time. Beneath the surface, Moorea’s diverse marine life can be seen from above.  Unbothered by waves or currents, there’s nothing but stillness and life in this lagoon.. It’s unbelievable.
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Our friends Jessica & Gisele surprised us with an excursion while we were there… swimming with the sharks and sting rays. We were in clear waters, that only came up to our chest, surrounded by fish, sharks, and sting rays- It was incredible. You can see clips form this excursion within our travel vlog  video.  (There were many screams- most caught on film but we edited most of them out!)
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We can’t wait to return to Tahiti and explore the other islands. We hope you’ll join us!

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Thank you so much for supporting us by reading our blog in 2017.  From the bottom of our hearts, Happy New Year!

Love,

Karen & Kay

Tahiti Itinerary Part One

We couldn’t let 2017 end without sharing a post with you about our most favorite trip of the year!  On Thanksgiving, we traveled to the island of Tahiti, French Polynesia. The main purpose of this trip was to immerse ourselves in the rich culture of Tahiti and to participate in the Ori Tahiti Nui Competition. We are Tahitian dancers with the group Te Pura O Te Rahura’a of South San Francisco and this culture has been a huge part of our lives for many, many years. Don’t worry, we also made time for some R&R on the islands, which we’ll gush about later. The OTN competition is put on by Manouche Lehartel & Tumata Robinson at the Le Meridien hotel in Tahiti.  You can see clips from the competition in our linked video:

We enjoyed (“LOVED!”-Kaylena) the breakfast buffet in the hotel every morning, and these little chocolate croissants have always been a personal favorite. We’d even sneak some back to our hotel room for a late night snack!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
We participated in the Mehura category of the OTN competition on the first day. We were fortunate to have an abundance of help with our costumes made up of delicious smelling tiare flowers and ginger petals. If only our computer monitors were scratch and sniff!
Processed with VSCO with a6 presetOur group director, Marilou, and one of the group’s costume designers, Imogene, pinned us into place. You could feel the excitement and nerves filling the air in that room.

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Processed with VSCO with a6 presetAlthough we did not place, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to perform in Tahiti, for the world renowned judging panel.
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In our next post, we’ll talk about our stay in Moorea.  It was so breathtaking! Be sure to check it out!

4 Steps to creating a lush floral centerpiece

4 Steps to creating a lush floral centerpiece

I love how flowers can instantly boost my mood!  They perfectly brighten up a space and contribute to the aesthetic of special events.  I especially love having fresh flowers on my dining table.

Centerpieces are even beneficial to the workplace too! This linked article discusses how roses in the office promote relaxation.  And it’s true! Which is one of the reasons I love being in the San Francisco Flower Mart: the flowers bring a sense of relaxation and calm to my crazy life.

Designing and creating an arrangement for your space or for a friend is so personal and customizable.  Perhaps you’re in the mood for something tropical or seasonal, you can create something minimalistic or something lush.

Kay: One of my favorite memories from my childhood was playing in a garage FILLED with beautiful flowers. Me being the weird child I am, I would name them and play with them, and if I broke one I’d hide it from my mom… But in actuality, I think flower arrangements heighten any occasion. They’re easy, fun, and perfect for Instagram. If I can do it, you can too.

We want to share with you how we created these centerpieces for my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. Otherwise known as the Ruby Anniversary.

Supplies:

  1. Vessel
  2. Shears
  3. Knife to trim floral foam
  4. Wet floral foam
  5. Floral food
  6. Water

Step 1:

Pre-soak your floral foam in a basin filled with water and some flower food. I like to use packets like floralife crystal clear.  Once the floral foam is soaked through, it will usually sink to the bottom of the basin.

Step 2:

Trim the floral foam to fit into your vessel using a knife.  For this occasion, we went with deep red blooms and a contrasting blue vase. We chose a combination of roses, ranunculus, anemones, dhalias, cockscomb, celosia, italian ruscus and eucalyptus leaves.

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Pro Tip: My friend April of Petalworks taught me this trick.  Sprinkle a little more flower food on the oasis and add some water to the vessel.  This will extend the enjoyment 🙂

Step 3:

I like to lay out my blooms and greenery so that they’re all visible and within easy reach.  Trim off any leaves that are on the lower halves of the stems, or any you don’t want visible.

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Step 4:

Here’s where the fun begins! You can make your arrangement as compact or as organic and free flowing as your heart desires!  Each arrangement will be unique and beautiful.

Cut your stems at a 45 degree angle to open the stem to be able to absorb water before

I like to start with all my greenery which creates a foundation to build upon.  Then I’ll move on to the flowers.  Sometimes I like to distribute them evenly throughout the greenery and other times I like to clump similar blooms together.  There’s no wrong way to do this!

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Sometimes, you’ll find a caterpillar or other surprise guest in some of your blooms! Hi little caterpillar! (Kay: Definitely screamed and flipped out, then proceeded to touch the little guy with shears…)

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As you can see, our two centerpieces are not identical, but they are both equally lovely.

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ProTip: Finish by spritzing with water from a water bottle to hydrate the petals and store in a cool place.

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Have an amazing time creating your own flower arrangements! Tag us in any that you make.

XO,

Karen & Kay