tropical garland

Dear Laura,

Hey sis, how’s it going? It’s been such a crazy month of June – some highlights with memories I’ll cherish forever and some bad news as you already know.

Thanks again for having your family help out for my mom’s 60th birthday party. I love that you love the parties I throw and you know that I love helping you plan the biggest party of your life. I think I’ve been pretty good at being patient and waiting for details bit by bit. Yup, my current texting volume about your wedding is on restraint level. But I get it, take your time and enjoy your engagement. Take time to pick and choose everything quickly. I’m not one to rush you since I took two years myself to plan.

Tropical Garland

I thought I’d dedicate this letter to you since you were the most avid user of this photo backdrop at the party. I love going through the photos from time to time and seeing you pop up with your cheery smile, it’s instantly infectious and makes me happy.

Tropical Garland

I saw this yellow balloons and leaves centerpiece on Pinterest and saved it to my tropical party board. There were some internal debates as to whether I should make it the centerpiece to go along the buffet or a garland for photos. Eventually I decided on the garland and started working on it a few weeks before the party.

I would come home from half-day Fridays (yay summer hours), put on Netflix (I think I was watching Girlboss at the time), and cut out all these leaves. I eventually got a tiny blister on my thumb because Howard’s large scissors were not a good fit for my small crafty hands. But it looked fantastic all laid out on the dark floor, the leaves really popped.

Tropical Garland

You can tell I’m such a novice because I built the basic layout of it on the wall. I used some washi tape to secure a thread across my bedroom wall. Tied on the honeycomb pineapples from PartyCity at both ends. Then used a tiny push pin to puncture a hole at the end of each leaf. Pushed a tiny thread through said hole and tied it onto the main string.

You know what have been easier? Building this on the floor!!! For some reason, I thought I needed to see how things would drape and fall, I mean, I guess I did to an extent. But still, this was tough.

Tropical Garland

I then had all these tiny yellow and teal (robin blue?) balloons that I was tying thread to in order to attach it and cover the ends of the leaves. By this point, the washi tape had reach its’ limit. I had to apply so many more to keep the garland up (I did switch to regular tape for the party, didn’t want this crashing down on a guest).

Tropical Garland

I’m trying to think if the garland took me longer to make or the pineapple birthday cake. Probably the garland!! Especially if I’m counting the hours it took me to cut out those leaves.

Tropical Garland

Well, like they say: be a pineapple, stand tall, wear a crown, and be sweet on the inside.

Hugs and kisses!

Sincerely,
Syl

puffy heart pancakes

Dear Laura,

You’re my first posted letter of the year! I’m so behind on writing you because January and February just flew by. I was sick the first and third week of the year and then so busy on all those weekends we hoped to go snow tubing. And of course you had your epic trip to Japan, which inspired these pancakes in the first place.

Remember when we attempted to make turnip cakes (lo bak go) for Chinese New Year and Richard was “working” and “planning” the trip? We watched so many YouTube videos that day and one of them was those fluffy Japanese pancakes. To my surprise, my mother-in-law found some cookie cutters that she didn’t use that week and one of them was the heart-shaped one.

My original plan was to do a Valentine’s Day post with these, but that so didn’t happen. I made them the week after and then you jetted off to have a fabulous adventure. I think I told you that not going with you will probably be one of my biggest regrets this year. But now that I know the outcome of that trip, it was probably best we weren’t there to spoil any of Richard’s plans! 😉

I really appreciated the call (sorry for screaming if you had the phone right up to your ear) and I am so happy and excited for you and Richard. My mom’s already asking me when the wedding will be. A little too soon to tell I think!

I hope we have brunch soon or maybe get together to make Vietnamese savory rolled cakes (Bánh cuốn) that my dad recently taught me. I think you and Richard will like them a lot. But for now, here’s how I made pancakes to pretend I was in Japan with you.

Japanese-Style Pancakes
Makes about 15 to 20 small pancakes
From POPSUGAR Food

2 large eggs
¾ cup milk
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons neutral oil

  1. Take out a blender and add in the milk (the original recipe called for buttermilk, but I didn’t have any), eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend on low until combined.
  2. Add in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Blend on low until combined, but don’t over mix.
  3. Preheat your pan on medium heat. I used my crêpe pan because I wanted the flattest surface for the cookie cutter to sit on. I didn’t want batter to leak out from the bottom.
  4. Use a silicone brush and coat the inside of the metal cookie cutter with a neutral oil like grapeseed (the original recipe called for vegetable oil). Also brush the surface of the pan with oil. Place the cookie cutter on the pan and carefully spoon in batter to fill in half of the cookie cutter. Any more and it’ll overfill when it expands.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes and then use a large spatula or pair of tongs to flip. Cook the other side for another 3 minutes.
  6. Remove it from the heat and gently nudge the pancake out, it should slide right out if you oiled the sides. Then repeat by brushing oil on the sides and placing it on the pan and filling it with batter.

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These little hearts go out for you!

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As you can imagine, because I only had one metal heart-shaped cookie cutter, this took me forever. Six minutes for each little pancake, but they do look so cute!

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They’re so small that you can fit a bunch of them in a handful, yet when I showed this to my mom, she sent me an exercise emoji. Mom!

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Ahh, I missed you so much! I can’t wait to see more photos from your trip. Tell Rich to post them now.

Sincerely,
Syl