Karma Karma Karma Cameleon

Karma Karma Karma Cameleon…remember that song? No, ummmm…I guess I’m getting too old. HA! Remember when Boy George was IN?!? Ok, nevermind. Let’s get on with the story telling. I’m not the greatest at telling stories, but I’d like to try anyway.

I went for an 18 mile bike ride last Saturday with my cousin. We made it all the way across the George Washington Bridge. That ride was exhilarating & the view was breathtaking. It was my first time up there & it won’t be my last. We picked an awesome day with perfect weather to bike.
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During the trip, I had stopped to help to 2 ladies, one of whom fell off her bike. They were very thankful. I was just happy to help. My cousin & I didn’t know the way to the G.W. Bridge, so the 2 ladies kindly explained how to get there.

Happily on our way, we ran into another roadblock. There were no more signs pointing us to the G.W. I told my cousin I didn’t know where to go. A lady passing by stopped & asked us where we needed to go. Wow, people have been so nice to us today.
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We made it to the G.W. Bridge & took some fun pictures. I love jumping pics. They’re so fun & silly. On our way back down the West Side Highway, I got a flat tire! Murphy’s Law loves to show up when you don’t want it to (which is all the time). Of course I didn’t have a spare tube. I had packed my cousin’s bike pump, but not a tube. Argh! So, I ended up carrying my heavy mountain bike until I got tired. Then, I started rolling it on the one good tire for about a mile. That was exhausting. We were 70+ blocks away from my car. Oh, the horror.

While walking on the pedestrian path, 2 men stopped to offer help, but since I didn’t have a spare tube, they weren’t able to assist me. As I kept walking, an older man standing in the shade stopped me. He said he might have a spare tube for me & goes to fix it. It was not the right size for my tire, but enough so that I can roll the bike on both wheels. I offered to pay him for the tube, but he refused. I was so gracious & thankful for his assistance.
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We got out of the park & found a train station. As luck would have it, I didn’t bring my Metro card. Darn you, Murphy’s Law, I hate you! They started charging $1 to get a new card, on top of paying for the fare. I told my cousin I forgot my card. A girl by the machine heard me & told me I can take hers. It didn’t have money on it, but I can use it to put the fare on. At this point, I was completely blown away by how nice everyone has been the whole day.

We finally get to my car, got home to shower, & then headed to a nice, family BBQ.

It turned out to be such a fun, memorable, & adventurous day even with the many obstacles we had faced. It has also renewed my faith in humanity. Living in New York City for so long have hardened me enough to a point that I think most New Yorkers are just plain rude & mean. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of those around, but the few people I had encountered that day were kind-hearted, genuine, & generous.

I was telling hubby the story on the way to the BBQ & it was then that I realized things might have been different if I hadn’t stopped to help those 2 ladies on the side of the road. I helped someone & the good karma kept coming. I was just glad we got home safe & sound with smiles on our sweat drenched faces.

Lessons Learned:
1) Always be prepared. Bring an extra tube for your bicycle, as well as the proper air pump. Don’t forget your Metro Card.
2) It pays to be kind to others. You might not see any benefits now or even notice it later, but on those days when you feel like luck is on your side, it could just be good karma coming back for you.
3) I love my family! xoxo

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Semi-Paleo Banana Bread Recipe

So, I have to be honest. I’m really not a cook or a baker. I started baking only a few years ago because it’s actually really fun. I cooked here & there throughout the years, but didn’t avidly start cooking until a few years ago as well. I am by no means a professional. I’m learning as I go along. And I think the most important thing is that I try. I may fail at my attempts but it doesn’t deter me from trying.

I may not cook the best foods or bake the tastiest goodies, but I’m practicing my craft & I’ve definitely gotten better throughout the years. I do have to warn you all, when I cook/bake, I don’t always measure everything. I also improvise a lot, even though some people frown upon that when it comes to baking. I say, who cares. Experiment. That is the only way you’ll discover something new, something tastier, & figure out what works & what doesn’t work. Cooking & baking should be fun, although many find it to be a chore. I enjoy my time in the kitchen as long as everyone leaves me alone to the task at hand.

Semi-Paleo Banana Bread Recipeadapted from Peanut Butter Runner

It’s semi-Paleo because I added oatmeal & chocolate to it. I think it’s still healthy. 🙂

Ingredients:
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup of almond flour
1/4 cup of coconut flour
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 large eggs
2 very ripe medium to large bananas, mashed
1/4 cup of oatmeal
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
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Prepare a round 8″ pan & line with foil. You can use a 9×5 load pan but I was too lazy to find mine.
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In a medium bowl, whisk together baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, flours & oatmeal.

In a separate small bowl, mix together coconut oil, eggs, bananas & vanilla until combined.
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Add wet ingredients to the dry & fold together with a spatula until combined. Do not overmix.

Fold chocolate chips into batter.
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Pour batter in prepared pan & bake for 25-30 minutes or until set in the center & a toothpick comes out clean.
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Let cool in pan for about 15-20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle with some almond butter before serving.

ENJOY!

Beef & Tomato over Rice Recipe

If you are Asian, you’ll most likely have eaten Beef & Tomato over rice at least once in your life. This is a popular dish in Taiwanese culture. My mom makes a pretty good version, so I got this recipe from her. There’s only one problem…she never measures anything, making it hard for me to replicate anything she makes.

So, this is my interpretation of my mom’s home cooking.

Beef & Tomato over Rice – by Mom (feeds 2)

Ingredients:
1 large tomato
1 beef patty (or ground beef or beef slices)
1 tblspn ketchup
1 teaspn white vinegar
1 egg
Leftover rice (or cook 1/2 cup of rice)
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Dice your tomatoes. Heat up a frying pan with some oil. Add tomatoes & cook it down until they are almost soft.
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Add the ketchup & vinegar & mix too incorporate.
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Add the beef patty & break up the pieces. Cook meat thoroughly.
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Crack an egg in the center & mix into the tomato.
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Serve over rice. There’s always leftover rice in the fridge so I would just reheat it.
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This is a quick meal. The ingredients are simple & if you use brown rice instead, it’ll be a pretty healthy option.

ENJOY!

Butcher Bar Review

BUTCHER BAR
37-08 30th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 606-8140
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Butcher Bar is an organic butcher shop that sells high quality, pasture raised, no hormone or antibiotic treated meats. They also serve BBQ to eat in as well.
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The place shop itself is very casual & clean. We were seated right away by a friendly waitress.
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We ended up ordering the Butcher’s Platter (¼ pound each of any 3 meats & 2 sides). The 3 meats we chose were the Smoked Pulled Pork, Double Smoked Burnt Ends & Smoked Pork Belly. The 2 sides: Applewood Bacon Baked Beans & Creamy Mac & Cheese.

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Pork Belly, Pulled Pork & Burnt Ends

We also order ½ rack of the Fall off the Bone Sauced Smoked Ribs which came with house slaw, pickle, corncakes & one side, so we added the Sautéed String Beans (with bacon & onions).
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The food was very good. The ribs were definitely falling off the bone & had a nice bbq sauce slathered on it. The pulled pork & burnt ends were tender & flavorful, although ¼ pound of each seemed very little for the price. The pork belly was a disappointment because it turned out very salty & it was too fatty. The baked beans, house slaw & pickle were all very good. The string beans & mac & cheese were nothing spectacular but still good.I would definitely come back here to try more of their menu items. And possibly shop for some organic meats as well.

Cupcakes in Heels Review & Deal

Cupcakes in Heels
43-19 Bell Blvd
Bayside, NY 11361
718-415-2009

Before I talk about how amazing these cupcakes are, I’m going to post the AmazonLocal deal that is currently running. In the past, these have sold out quickly, so I’d recommend for you to grab one right away. This is a great value & the best way for you to try out their amazing cupcakes without having to pay the full price. And I can guarantee you that you’ll want to go back again & again after you’ve had your first bite.
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I cannot tell you how much I love the cupcakes at this place. I have to warn you, they are on the pricey side ($3.25-$3.50), but they’re totally worth it. They provide sweet treats that you can indulge in once in a while. They have fluffy frosting that is not overly sweet, moist cake & there’s always a bit of frosting on the inside. They decorate everything so beautifully, so it’s a great treat to bring to a housewarming or for a birthday.

They also make cake pops, cakes in a jar, French macarons, gorgeous custom designed cakes, couture dessert tables & many other sweet treats. The owner is super friendly & has a great work ethic. Everything she makes turns out gorgeous.
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The cupcakes are named after some of the popular fashion designers.

My favorites include:

“the Louboutin” Red Velvet

Red velvet cupcake with their signature creamy frosting, which has a hint of almond oil in it.

“the Jimmy Choo” Pistachio
Pistachio cupcake with whipped pistachio frosting. Who doesn’t love a pistachio cake?!?

 ”the Versace” Tiramisu
Tiramisu cupcake, soaked with wine, espresso and coffee, frosted with creamy mascarpone frosting, topped with shaved chocolate. I am not a fan of alcohol or coffee, but when you put those 2 combinations in a cupcake, I’ll gobble it up in a second. This is probably my absolute favorite so far.

I’ve tried many of their other flavors as well, but those have to be my absolute favorite. You’ve never tasted cupcakes like these before. It’s definitely a must-try.

The store front is on the small side & there’s no room to sit in the store. You just order & leave. They are located next to the Golf store, right by the bus station. Make your way there, you will not regret it. Seriously, get the AmazonLocal deal now before it’s sold out. They’re so YUMMY!!!!

Asian Marinated Baked Chicken Recipe

This was a really fast & easy recipe to follow. I only marinated the chicken for 30 minutes (while I prepped the broccoli & mushroom) & it turned out very tasty.

Asian Marinated Baked Chicken Recipe adapted from Chow.com

Chicken Ingredients:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger (I omitted this)
6 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds chicken thighs (removed skin & fat)

Veggie Ingredients:
10oz white mushrooms
1 lb broccoli crowns
1 package Beech mushrooms
2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
5 cloves finely chopped garlic

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
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Place everything except the chicken in a zip-lock bag & combine.
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Remove the skin & fat from the chicken. Wash & pat dry with paper towel.

Throw the chicken into the zip-lock bag & lay flat. Flip the bag around after 15 minutes to ensure the other side gets marinated as well.
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While you are waiting, wash & cut the broccoli & mushrooms. Put into a foil pan. Drizzle with olive oil & mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with sea salt & black pepper. Then, drizzle balsamic vinegar over everything. Sprinkle chopped garlic on top. Put into oven & bake for 25 minutes.
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After 30 minutes of marinating the chicken, pour all the contents into a pan. Ensure the chicken is in one layer.
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Bake the chicken for 20 minutes, then flip them over & bake for another 20 minutes until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees F.
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Pour the chicken sauce into a bowl. Use a spoon to skim off all the oils & fat. Serve chicken with broccoli & mushrooms with the sauce on the side.
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Enjoy!

A Year Ago Today…

One Year as Mr. & Mrs. McMunkie
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The 2 basked in the glory of engagement-hood for over 3 months before deciding they wanted to get hitched in 2012. They decided to go venue hunting in Canada in January. That was a major failure. They went again in February with more promise. They finally locked down a venue & photographer in March. By May, the venue informed them their head chef quit, so they were left without a caterer. With some fast acting, a caterer was secured & the wedding was saved. 5 months of wedding planning ended up being highly stressful (more so for the bride than the groom), but it was totally worth it when everything came together.

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It was a very hot day for the wedding, but it was sunny & beautiful as well. The ceremony lasted all of 10 minutes (the couple didn’t want to bore the guests, who were already dying of heat & starvation). Unfortunately, the venue did not have any AC. The cocktail hour began & the guests hunted down all the food servers & started to drink themselves into a stupor. While everyone was enjoying themselves & were all congregated within the venue, the weather Gods decided it was time for some rain. It provided the guests with some welcome relief from the hot day. Then, as fast as the rain had come, it was all gone & completely dry in a matter of minutes.

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Speeches were made, first dance as husband & wife, father/daughter dance, some fancy schmancy dinner was served & then the bride’s Papa decided it was time to get the party started. He was the only one on the dance floor, soon a crowd formed & everyone danced & laughed the night away. The Sweets table was an absolute hit with the guests, but especially the ring bearer. He was bouncing off the walls after devouring all the sweets!

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For all the blood, sweat & tears involved in the preparation leading up to the wedding day, it was blissfully gone within a few hours. What is left are the memories of the most perfect wedding ever (in the bride & groom’s eyes, anyway).

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Happy One Year Anniversary, my Love!

VCJump

Just a (Potato) Chip off the Old Block

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I don’t have a picture of me gorging on Potato Chips, so this Bouchon Bakery Butter Nutter giant cookie will suffice.

My name is Christina & I am a Potato Chip Addict.

My mom loves eating potato chips. Therefore, it is in my genetic makeup to eat potato chips. Ok, so I don’t have a chip loving gene, but when my bro & I were little, we’d eat a bag every Sunday with my mom. That’s how we bonded. We did this for many years, which started my love affair with chips.

I munched my way through grade school, JHS, HS & college. When I started working after college, I would buy a large bag of chips & finish it within a day or 2 & I would do this every week, for 4-5 years, maybe longer.

I stopped buying them to stop my bad habit. Keeping it out of the house meant I could keep the temptation away. At the supermarket, I would still wander into the chip aisle just to “browse.” If my favorite brand was on sale, I’d buy a bag or 2 bag, & I’d run home to indulge. 2 days later, I’d resurface from a pile of crumbs & feel the total gluttony of my own doing. I would do this every month or 2. It was a bad habit which was hard to shake.

When hubby met me, I was still shoveling chips into my mouth at speeds not recognizable by radar detection. He would have to physically take the bag away from me in order to stop.

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Mangoes – Looks delectable, tastes scrumptious & healthy too.

In October ’11, my CF box offered a diet challenge. I’ve never dieted a day in my life before. (Except, that time when I was enamored by those Weight Watchers commercials when I was 13 & I ran to the store to buy myself a container of their delicious looking powdered shakes. One sip & I threw that thing out). I’m not overweight, hefty, obese, or fluffy (well, sometimes). I just wanted to challenge myself to try to eat healthier. To be honest, it was a big mistake. It was 44 days of hell.

I was pumped at first. I started making my own foods, cooking new recipes. I was doing well. Then, week 2 was starting to drag, week 3 was worse, I became a monster in week 4, by week 5, I couldn’t recognize myself anymore (nor can my hubby or my friends/family), & week 6 went by so slowly because it was almost over but I needed will-power to get through to the end.

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I started craving Cheesecakes & sweets after my 44-day Challenge. This Martha’s Country Bakery Apple Crumb cheesecake was calling my name!

The Good & The Bad from the 44 days of dieting:
The Good
1) I read my ingredient list much more thoroughly & I’m more selective with my foods choices now.
2) Meats, poultry, fish, eggs & bacon are all my friends. Eat a little of everything to be more well-rounded.
3) Chocolate is pretty tasty (I didn’t use to like chocolate, but I’m finding myself wanting it more now).
4) I’ve cured my potato chip addiction. I no longer crave or eat bagged chips. I’ve been potato chip free since 10/10/11! Yes, it has an anniversary date. 😀

The Bad
1) Depriving myself of certain foods made me crave them more. This included foods that I normally didn’t even like (i.e. chocolate & cheesecake).
2) Removing dairy products out of my diet caused my system to go out of whack. I started getting PMS when I never had it before. This could be due to the hormones in most milk, which have always kept PMS at bay. The PMS stopped after 2 months. *shrug*
3) I felt weak, tired & sluggish. My performance at CF suffered. I had a near break-down doing front squats one day. I told the coach I couldn’t do 95# & he told me to lower it. I nearly burst out crying. I felt defeated. See item #2 above.
4) I think I may have become slightly lactose intolerant due to the diet.
5) I was hungry. I was angry. I was Incredible Hulk on steroids HANGRY (hungry+angry). It was not pleasant being around me during this time. I was irritable & frustrated. It was a very dark time in my life.
6) When dining out, I couldn’t eat 98% of the menu items. Munching on a salad while your friends are eating pizza was VERY, VERY hard to do. I resented them a little during this time. Going out was not an option.
7) Once the 44 days was up, I gorged & gorged until January 2012. I ate anything & everything. The 3lbs I lost was quickly gained back.

What I’ve learned:
Challenges are another term people use to make you think you are not dieting. Challenges are a competition to see who can do it better & get better results. Anyone can do a challenge & see quick results. But, the real challenge begins when it is over. Do you have the motivation to continue this for the rest of your life? That’s the reason why so many people go on yo-yo diets.

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You best bet I ended up eating this cookie. I needed a sugar fix after biking 6.5 miles & walking 3 miles.

This 44-day challenge messed me up mentally. I would personally discourage anyone from doing them. I think it is much better to instill a life-long change by eating more sensibly & looking for a well-balanced meal. Survey your options & pick healthy ones, but don’t restrict yourself so much that all you can think about is junk food. That is the key. Give yourself a small treat from time to time, eat that ice cream, chocolate or potato chips, but don’t indulge. Eat just enough to soothe your sweet or salty tooth. Don’t say “NEVER AGAIN” to anything because you’ll most likely want to reach for it right at this minute. It’s not about willpower; it’s about changing your habits. Once you’ve replaced a bad habit with a good one, it’s engrained in you to continue & it’ll come naturally.

A day may come when I eat potato chips again, but I no longer let my past habits define me today. As much as I loved bonding with my mom over potato chips, we can now reach for something healthier to bond over, like chocolate dipped bacon instead. Hehee Just kidding about that one, mom doesn’t like chocolate. ;-D Wish me luck on my journey into healthier eating.

Meet Munkie

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I am the Niagara Fury!
Btw, they’re missing a R in Furry. Just sayin’.
Niagara Falls, Canada

Meet Munkie (add British accent)

‘Ello Govnor. My name is Munkie McMunkie. I was originally named Mr. Smirks because I have a permanent smirk plastered on my face. I have since changed my name to something easier to remember. You see, my brain is made out of cotton, so I don’t have much of a memory.

I don’t remember how long I was sitting on the shelf at the Marks & Spencer store in Blackpool, England, but I think I was getting a bit dusty. They put me out for the winter because I would only be used at that time. Yes, I get used a lot. Har har. You see, I am actually a hot water bottle holder. On my bum, I have a flap that opens (I know it sounds painful & it really is to be honest) & you can slip in the filled hot water bottle. Usually children love me because I can make their tummies feel all warm throughout the winter.

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Going back to my Chinese Roots!
Beijing, China

On one fateful night, Auntie Jeanette was out shopping & her eyes landed on mine. I stared at her hard & unblinkingly & hoped my charming smirk would swoon her into taking me home with her. Little did I know she had other plans for me. She thought I would be perfect for her little niece back in the States. I was ecstatic to meet the niece. She packed me into a suitcase with Auntie Susan & off we went to the States. I flew in comfort with soft clothing wrapped around me. I do have to say it was a bit dark in there & it was quite a long journey, but when I arrived, I smelled the carbon monoxide of the NY yellow cabbies & knew this would be home!

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Coming to America. My first day here.
See that giant next to me?!? That’s Christina!!!
(Sook-Paw & Auntie Susan are the bestest.)

When it was time to meet the niece, Auntie Susan took me out & introduced me to this giant girl named Christina. I was wondering where the precious little niece was, but unbeknownst to me, this WAS the niece. She was neither little nor precious. She grabbed me & said “I’m gonna hug you and kiss you and love you forever” & I gulped & was instantly scurred for my life.

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Getting enlightened by Buddha.
Hong Kong, China

I was officially adopted by C&V on December 2nd, 2009. So I will use that as my official birthday. Living with them hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. I’ve adjusted to eating tons of bananas all the time. I do, however, miss my crumpets, tea, clotted creams, Yorkshire puddings, & the occasional Spotted Dick (don’t laugh, we actually eat this & it taste darn good). 

I’ve brought lots of joy & happiness to all those who have come in contact with me. Who can resist my smirk & my charm?!? I am good-looking & lovable. Even Grandma has come to love me even though she smacks me around & tells me I’m ugly. She always ends up hugging me because I know she really loves me way deep down inside.C&V do abuse me a bit, but I take it as tough love. At least I get fed & have a bed to sleep in.

Cheerio!

Munkie McMunkie

AngryMunkie

Deep in thought. How can I find myself a gf?

P.S. I’m looking for a single, furry Girl Munkie. She can be younger or older, I’m not picky. I’m only 3.5 years old, so I’m pretty open. She must like swinging (in the jungle – get your mind out of the gutter, please!), bananas (again, with the dirty minds), & flinging poop. Please call me at 800-555-MUNK if you know any munkies that fit that description. Thanks!

Fun Munkie facts:
I have 3 favorite colors:
Green for the color of the jungle (my original home until I was plucked out of it to be on the shelves of M&S).
Yellow for my favourite food in the whole wide world – BANANAS.
Brown for the color of poop, which I love to fling at unsuspecting people.

I have no bones so I’m floppy most of the time.

I take periodic showers so I’m usually clean. I feel like I’m drowning when I bathe, & then it gets unbearably hot in the sauna.

Cupcake Nail Art Tutorial

I have an obsession with small, cute things. I especially love cupcakes. They’re perfect for one person, with just the right amount of frosting & there’s just enough room to put some finishing touches, such as sprinkles & a cherry on top.

What’s cuter than a cupcake? Cupcakes on your nails! The process was fairly easy, but it’ll take some time for each layer to dry before moving on. I did put too much “frosting” on 2 of my nails, so it got mushed up when I went out. I’ll have to remember not to do anything until it’s completely dried.

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1) I always take paper from the recycling bin (this was an Rite-Aid ad) to test out color combinations first. This makes it easier when it’s time to actually paint my nails because I already have an idea how it will come out. Plus, some colors just do not go well together.

2) Put on a clear base coat. Put on a bright coordinating color on your thumb, middle & pinky finger. (Revlon – Strength of Pink) Put on a neutral color on your index & ring finger to be used for the cupcake design. (Revlon – Sheer Nude)

3) Paint the cupcake liner across half of your nails. (O.P.I. – Yodel Me On My Cell)

4) Using a thin brush, create the vertical creases of the cupcake liner. (LA Colors Art Deco – Silver)

5) Paint a fluffy white dome on top of the cupcake liner. Try to not make this layer too thick. Unfortunately, mine was & it got mushed when I picked up my purse. (Wet n Wild Wild – French White Creme

6) Use a clear glitter nail polish to add the “sprinkles” on the “frosting.” (E.l.f. – Sparkles)
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7) Use a Dotting Toolor a toothpick to create the “cherry” on top. Dip your tool into the polish color to create a circle. I used a toothpick to create the heart. Practice on paper first so you can get it perfect on your nails on the first try. (Nailtini – Mango Rita) When everything is completely dry, add a clear top coat.
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This is possibly the cutest nail design I’ve done so far. I’m so happy with the way it came out. I’m sure I’ll go through all the colors of the rainbow to create more cupcakes in the future.

Hope you like this tutorial! ENJOY!

Where to purchase products:
Nailtiques 1 – used as my base coat to help my nails get stronger. Here’s the larger bottle.
Nailtiques 2 – you’ll use this every day for a few weeks for brittle nails to get stronger.
Revlon – Strength of Pink
Wet n Wild – White
Revlon – Sheer Nude
O.P.I. – Yodel Me On My Cell
LA Colors Art Deco – Silver
E.l.f. – Sparkles
Nailtini – Mango Rita