Hello everyone!

As many of you guys know, I went to Peru for 3 weeks with my mom last October. It’s been over 8 months since the trip, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions for a lot of people of what to do/eat/tips. After going over my 100+ Notes on my iPhone while bored one day, I realized that I actually created a top 10 tips on Peru which I totally forgot. I also made a video of my travels to Peru which got over 3,700 views on Facebook! (Crazy.) Background information: We flew JetBlue from Austin to Ft. Lauderdale to Lima. In Peru, we started in Lima, took a bus to Paracas (no footage), Huacachina, Arequipa + Colca Canyon, Cusco, Machu Picchu, then flew back to Lima!

Okay, let’s get started on the tips:

  1. Take a bus from Lima to Cusco. We used Peru Hop and I highly recommend the service! The guides were so nice and the buses were always on time. Nice and spacious. We got to see the coast, the desert, the canyons, the mountains, and the jungle all because we took the bus. We wouldn’t have seen if we flew over from city to city.
  2. Try all the smoothies you can in the food markets! Cusco had over 20 stalls of smoothie stands. The ladies make it fresh for you right there and it only costs about $1 for a huge cup. We always got the mixed blend. So. good.
  3. Must do outdoor activities. Sand buddying and sand boarding in Huacachina was our favorite. You can check it out in the video!
  4. Wear layers. It can get from brutally hot in the day to extremely cold at night. That’s what you get when you’re 30,000 m above sea level.
  5. Speaking of altitude….Sorochin and Gravocol will be your best friend. My mom and I did get altitude sickness- got sick, threw up, nauseous, trouble breathing- so these pills will save your life. They’re sold everywhere because Peruvians know that foreigners like us can’t handle the height.
  6. Tap water is NOT drinkable. Be prepared to buy gallons of bottled water on your trip. It’s very cheap, so it’s not an issue.
  7. Go to Machu Picchu as early as you can. It is so calm and cool and less people that by the afternoon we went it rained and got extremely hot.
  8. Try to use AS MUCH Spanish as possible. Maybe places we went to didn’t know English. The locals also appreciate it too. At a restaurant they would always come back and see how we were doing and smiled when we left. Thank you Texas for my basic Spanish skills.

Peru has a special place in my heart. If you have any questions or planning a trip, please let me know!



Olivia [that’s me!]

Awww! This is why she’s my best friend and my forever soulmate. Who surprises someone with such a sweet blog post? 🙂

Seriously if you need any photos done for your graduation, engagement, wedding, or just a memorable event, take a look at Madhu Singh Photography! She’s the best and captures every moment beautifully.

– Liv

*blog post below*

Love, Young Lion

On the last day of Olivia’s Europe trip, we had an impromptu photoshoot. I had been whinging about how I needed to post an Instagram of her before she left–but we kind of just chilled out. So, amidst packing & catching up, we took to the football (soccer) field next to my house and got snap happy. It had been months since I had done portraits, so I was afraid I would be rusty. But I think the photos turned out swimmingly.

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lemongrass pork ribs recipe


I know, it’s been a long time since I’ve been here. I finally graduated (yay!) and I’m am now happily in Houston with my family for the summer. So because I have all this free time on my hands, one big task I want to accomplish this summer is learning how to cook the amazing dishes my mom makes for us. If you’ve been blessed to eat at the Dwan’s residence, you definitely know my mom’s cooking is amazing!

I’m posting these recipes also to create like a virtual cookbook that I can refer to anytime tomorrow, or 5, 10, even 20 years down the line. Also, you guys can have the awesome opportunity to make these dishes at home! So without further adieu, let’s get on to the first dish.


Lemongrass Pork Ribs

  • 1 rack of pork ribs (can substitute for 2 lb beef, chicken, or turkey)
  • 2 tbs minced lemongrass
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tbs water


1. Put meat in medium pan, no heat. 

2. Add rest of ingredients in order above into the pan with the meat. 


3. Mix everything together.


4. Cover the pan with a lid and turn on high heat until the sauce boils


5. Once it boils, turn heat onto low and let it simmer until all the sauce mostly gone.

6. You can go a step further and add onions to the mixture! The onions will nicely absorb the sauce and soften almost like caramelized onions.


So easy! You can serve in on a bed of lettuce, rice, sandwich, or even spaghetti. 


Eat well and happily,


new york city.

So, it’s been exactly 3 months since I’ve been living NYC. I can say it has been the most exciting yet most stressful time of my life. It’s hard finding a balance between working 8-9 hour days at JetBlue to exploring what New York has to offer to literally getting enough sleep. (notice that I didn’t include working out? Ugh. I’m trying.) I want to write EVERYTHING I’ve done in New York, buttt in order to keep this post short and sweet, I think it’s necessary to make a bulleted list so I don’t ramble on for paragraphs and paragraphs. So similar to my first week in Rome, here’s my “likes and dislikes” of my time here!


  1. OKAY so #1 is that there’s SO MUCH TO DO IN NEW YORK! I know this is so cliché but it’s no lie. THERE’S LITERALLY EVERYTHING IN NEW YORK. I haven’t been bored one second. From parks to food festivals to live concerts to happy hour to 4 am drunk pizza joints to shopping on 5th Ave…like the list can go on forever. Being 21 is also a very good thing in New York. Very, very good thing. 😛 But on the flip side, because there’s so much to do & because I live so far away (downside of living on the edge of Queens), I get home very late. Sometimes I don’t get home until like 12:30 am on the weekdays or until 4 am on the weekends, sooo my sleep has been very minimal to the point where I’m not fully focused at work. “Olivia, why don’t you just go home earlier?” I know, I know. It’s hard; I am slowly finding balance.
  2. EVERYTHING STAYS OPEN SO LATEEEE! I am a big fan of nightlife. Okay, not the whole shebang of getting drunk and clubbing (people can confirm my lightweight status), but I love the feeling of just staying out late with friends and walking around the city together. There’s something magical about New York at night. All the buildings lights are glowing, there’s few people on the streets, everyone is all dressed up, the air has a crisp chill to it…I love it.
  3. ROOFTOPS. I love views and what better way of seeing a beautiful view of 30 floor array of buildings in Manhattan than to be on top of a 30 floor building in Manhattan. Nothing.
  4. JETBLUE! Where can I start? Even though I worked so hard on my application process and prepared a lot for my multiple interviews, I can say that I am really lucky to have this internship. JetBlue is such an amazing company. For anyone that has flown a JetBlue flight, I can say that the kindness, humor, liveliness you experience on a flight is exactly how the corporate office is. Everyone is so passionate and engaged in his or her job that it’s the reason why the brand is so respected among consumers. Even though I’m working my butt off nonstop every day, the day goes by so quickly because everyone makes the day so much fun.Other than company culture, I am so blessed to go to really cool events put on by JetBlue. Some include:
  • A trip down to Orlando, FL for a 2-day orientation for new hires. Thanks M for bringing me to Chick-fil-a!
  • A buzz stunt in NYC where we gave away free tickets to the Latino community (and where I got to meet Dascha Polanco from OITNB!)
  • A tour of our brand new international terminal at JFK T5 opening mid-November
  • JetBlue’s Soar With Reading event where I got to meet Victoria Justice, Mary Pope Osborne, and 2 members of the New York Red Bulls
  • Fun day, where JetBlue’s commercial team (approx. 200 people) went to Chelsea Piers and competed in games against each other like rock climbing, sand volleyball, Jenga, Speed stacking, etc. And of course got open bar drinks afterwards.These were only couple of events that I’ve been to so far, and there’s so much more to come.

5. FREE FLIGHT BENEFITS. I love traveling. JetBlue allows me to travel for free, so I = 🙂 (Note: I did not know about flight benefits when I interviewed, so I was very surprised when I found out about having free standby flights on my first day.)


  1. BY FAR #1 IS THE SMELL! Oh my goodness, New York, you smell awful. Because of you I don’t even remember what fresh air smells like. Either you smell like trash, fish, smoke, or pee. Seriously. You’re killing me.
  2. HOW EVERYTHING IS SO EXPENSIVE. $112 for a subway monthly pass? (Boston is $70) $13 for a mixed drink? $6 to do laundry? $2000 for rent a size of a shoebox? (exaggerating a little bit) Like come on New York, why you gotta be so rude mean? Not everyone is on Wall Street or a celebrity.
  3. WAKING UP IN THE MORNING. I miss waking up at 11 am for my 1 pm college classes. I’m not used to this early-sleep-early-wake-up thing. It’s gotten to the point where I have to set my alarm at 7:00 am to get myself out of bed at 7:30 am 7:40 am. The struggle. I blame bullet #2 in Likes section.

4. LAUNDRY AT A LAUNDROMAT. This one also applies to Boston/anywhere where your apartment is too small to have a laundry unit inside. All in all, laundry day sucks. I seriously have to plan about 3 hours of my day around when I should put my clothes in the wash, when to come back to take it out of the wash, which dryer I can move it to, when to come back to take it out of the dryer, and where can I fold it to bring back to my apartment. Sigh…miss doing laundry in Texas.


Well that’s all I can think of in a nutshell. Anyways, can’t believe half my time in New York is already over. Time really flies.


Well I’m off to bed now,

gnite and sweet dreams to you.

– Liv


first cooking class in rome!

Hi guys!

Sorry I haven’t written a post in awhile. I know you guys probably hate me. Haha, but you can follow me on Instagram @xdwanx for more frequent updates when I don’t have time to write a full post! 🙂

For those who already saw, I went to my first cooking class in Rome this past Tuesday with my roommate Irene. When we arrived, we were greeted by Chef Andrea and his wife Erica.  Chef Andrea talked a little about the traditions and methods of Italian cooking, like how Italians only cook with seasonal ingredients to ensure the food is fresh and best quality. After his little speech, he finally revealed what we were making. The three dishes of the night were:

1) Homemade Cavatelli shaped pasta with fresh tomato basil sauce

2) Chicken Cacciatora with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes


wait for it.

3) Tiramisù!!! 🙂

Now off to the cooking!

So because all 20 of us couldn’t fit into the kitchen, we were split into two groups. One group stayed in the cooler dining area to make the pasta and tiramisu and the other group stayed in the kitchen to make the chicken cacciatora, rosemary potatoes, and the tomato basil sauce. It was a hard decision whether we wanted to stay in the dining room or go into the kitchen, but when Irene and I heard that we were going to make tiramisu (you guessed it), we decided to stay in the dining area.


We started off making the tiramisu, because it needed time to be chilled. She told us that tiramisu meant “to pick me up,” hence having the coffee in it for a little sweet afternoon pick-me-up.  Another fun fact is the “original” tiramisu doesn’t have alcohol in it and only recently people began adding rum to the recipe! (Alcohol acts as a suppressant, thus counteracting the affects of the caffeine.) Guess people wanted another way to get tipsy after dinner. 😛 Haha but any how… Honestly, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make. The process is super easy! Dip the lady fingers in coffee, sprinkle chocolate shavings, whip the eggs and mascarpone cheese together for the creme, layer it all in a pan, and refrigerate. BAM.

Then we made the pasta. Oh man this was tedious (but fun). Image

After we cut up the dough into little pillows, we had to make the cavatelli shape of the pasta. I don’t have time to describe it, but little sized pillow of dough

from this….


to this!


I don’t know what was going on in the kitchen, but 2 hours later, we were ready to be served!


Homemade Cavatelli shaped pasta with fresh tomato basil sauce


Chicken Cacciatora with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes



My favorite dish of the night definitely had to be the rosemary potatoes. The rosemary flavor was so fresh! The chicken was mixed with olive oil, then baked to perfection. Ahh it was like magic. My second favorite was the homemade pasta dish. Wow, just wow! The freshness of the pasta and homemade tomato sauce was unbelievable. After eating that, I can never go back to the 99 cent boxed pasta at the store*. Don’t get me wrong, I loved loved the tiramisu, but wow those other two dishes surpassed my expectations.

* (Fun fact: Fresh, homemade pasta only needs to be cooked for 30 seconds for it to be done vs. the 10 minutes for the boxed pasta…Mind blowing I know).



It was a great night of food, friends and conversation! I can say, I’ll definitely be back for round two!

Buona notte!


ciao bella! [best and worst of week 1 in rome]


Wow, I still can’t believe that

1) I’m in Rome (even though I’ve been here for a week)
2) I’ll be spending 4 months in this amazing city
3) I’ve drank about 20 glasses of wine in the past 7 days #sorrynotsorry

Sorry it took me a full week to write my first blog post. It’s been a crazy couple of days with settling into the apartment, meeting new people, exploring the city, and eating.
So I’ve decided. In order to balance this blog, school work, traveling, sleeping, and experiencing this magnificent city, I can’t spend much time writing long journal entries about like my daily life (that would get kind of boring, dontcha think?). So I’m going to make my posts be like the format of Buzzfeed- short and sweet and lots of pictures. I know, you’re welcome too. 😛
So let’s get to it! Here’s a recap of best and worst of my first week in Rome! 🙂
Bye Boston!

First, Bye Boston!

Best about Flying: Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge during my layover in Toronto

Open bar anyone?

Open bar anyone?

Dinner at the lounge

Dinner at the lounge (carrot ginger soup, ravioli, olives, carrot raisin salad, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, & celery)

Hot food, comfy chairs, unlimited drinks. Oh yeah, being a Gold status on Star Alliance has its perks.

Worst about Flying: The sign saying that the flight was on time, but it ended up being delayed by an hour and a half. Why? No. idea. Ugh. (But I arrived in Rome 20 minutes before scheduled time….weird)
Best people: Meet the roomies!
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Lovely girls from Northeastern, Point Park, La Salle, and St. Joseph’s. (The guys are basically our roommates too)
** Pictures = Pregame for the “Best Night” section down below 🙂
Best sights
Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Trevi fountain

Trevi fountain

Group picture in front of the fountain

Group picture in front of the fountain

Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II

Il Vittorio

Group pic :)

Group pic

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps & PIazza di Spagna



Another Basilica

Another Basilica

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

yeah, you get the point. No need for explanation. (and I haven’t even visited the Vatican, St. Peter’s, or the Museo e Galleria Borghese)
Best food: Everything is amazing (from the espressos to the gelato [sorry didn’t take a pic!] to the pastries], but my favorite so far is the spaghetti con vongole [spaghetti with clams] that my roommate ordered one night
after she took all the clams out.

after she took all the clams out.

I just only had a bite of her pasta, but omg I was in heaven. It was one of those moments where pause with your mouth open and you just stare at other people affirming that the food gods just blessed you with the most fantastic thing you have ever tasted in your life. (You know that look.)The texture of the noodles, the sauce, the juiciness of the clams. Oh. my. gah.

This is what our table looked like. (margherita pizza, smoked salmon and arugula, margherita pizza with olives)

This is what our table looked like. (margherita pizza, smoked salmon and arugula, margherita pizza with olives).                                                                                    Can you guess which pizza is mine?

All the pizzas were out of this world too. I never ever eat pizza in the states (sorry I can’t stomach Papa John’s or Dominos), but I have literally been eating them almost every day for dinner since I’ve been here. The italians really know the beauty of making a perfect thin crust pizza. Così delizioso! 
Best wine: random house wine we got on our first night
No idea what it was, but it was the smoothest wine I’ve ever tasted in my life. Imagine drinking red water that just flows beautifully down your throat like a peaceful waterfall. Haha that was a bad analogy, but you get what I mean.
Best view: From the terrace from the American University of Rome

When can you ever say that your school overlooked the whole city of Rome?

When can you ever say that your school overlooked the whole city of Rome?
Best shopping/expense: Brandy Melville in Rome

Oh my goodness. It was the biggest Brandy Melville I’ve ever walked into! (My Boston friends: imagine our Newbury store, but 5 times bigger.)
And apparently all their clothes are made in Italy. I was bummed because we stumbled upon this Brandy Melville after a full day of spending money, so I only had enough euros to buy one shirt. sad face. Soooo you know where you’ll find me next weekend. 🙂
Worst expense: Spending €8-10 on a cocktail at a bar or club and paying for water at restaurants
FYI, €1 shots are not cheap ($1.30) and €8-10 cocktails really isn’t necessary($10-13).  Please bring me back to China where it’s 1 kuai shots ($0.16) and 15 kuai drinks ($2.45). Thank you.
Best street performers: Italian boys doing soccer tricks
Do it.
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Best Friday Night: Going to G bar then to the this random Great Gatsby after party in the middle of nowhere
We first went to this place called the G bar in Trastevere. When we got there around 11-ish, the place was already packed and crammed with probably about 98% study abroad students and 2% locals. So apparently at midnight, G bar was hosting a Great Gatsby party at this mansion somewhere far away (which btw, ended up being right next to the Italian soccer stadiums), so we stumbled  got into taxis and headed over to this little fancy shmancy place. So, the party started when we arrived. Haha just kidding.
Only good picture of the night. Haha

The only good picture of the night.

Okay it’s 5:19 am right now, but I was determined to write a post before school starts getting on a roll. (Is that even a saying?)
Pardon my grammar, punctuation, etc. I don’t have the energy to edit, which is probably a sign that I should sleep.
* I apologize if the formatting is funky. I’m trying to fix it, but it’s not adding spaces between paragraphs. Hmph, oh well.

trader joe’s dips [chipotle pepper hummus, reduce guilt chunky guacamole, pineapple salsa]

Hello! Happy first official post! Yay! And yes, for people that know me (and for people that want to know me), it is not surprising that my first official post would be about

  1. Food
  2. Trader Joe’s
  3. my love of food and Trader Joe’s

But, okay now to get serious. Ever since I’ve gotten an apartment last year and started shopping at Trader Joe’s (cuz I ain’t got no d-hall no mo’), I have found my missing pieces of my diet the first day I stepped into this beloved store. BEHOLD….the Chipotle Pepper Hummus, the Reduce Guilt Chunky Guacamole, and the Pineapple Salsa.

#1: Chipotle Pepper Hummus

TJ’s gets some serious points on creativity because I don’t think there’s another hummus out there like this. Smoky, a little spicy, so savory…OMG I LOVE IT. It seriously reminds me of Texas. Like grilling on the barbeque sweating in the hot summer sun. Haha, I don’t know why. But anyways, it’s practically good with anything. Of course, I always find a way to get a meal in without much effort, so as a snack I dip it with all sorts of stuff- chips, veggies, eggs. Heck I even sometimes rip a piece of bread and scrape the sides to get ALL of the hummus! That’s how good it is.

#2: Reduce Guilt Chunky Guacamole


I love me some guacamole. And sadly because most store bought ones are made out of heavy cream, the calories and the fat do add up. But TJ saves the day (once again!). But side note, every single time I get this dip, I always have that ONE chunk of avocado in in the tub that’s  just…there. I don’t know if its a signature thing, but it’s literally just there. Buy a tub, you’ll see. Anyways, I’m not like super CRAZY about this dip, but it’s definitely on the top of my list when I just want a guacamole dip. It doesn’t taste 100% like the real stuff, but it satisfies with only 35 calories per serving! I actually this dip is kind of too salty for my personal taste, but other people think it’s fine.

#3: Pineapple Salsa

If I know something, it’s that I’ve grown up with salsa since birth– maybe it’s a Southern thing. I remember putting it on scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos (!), fish, veggies– you name it. I’m all about combining salty and sweet flavors together to get that explosion of sensations in my mouth. So on one recent trip, I decided to pick up the Pineapple Salsa and Peach Salsa. I’m pretty sure by now you know which was reigned over the other. This salsa isn’t spicy, so the flavors really came out. But what made it so good was that all the ingredients blended so well with each other. Not too citrus-y. Not too tomato-y. Mmmm…just right So, all in all, I would recommend just getting these products. You wont regret it. Eat them, love them, savor them. 😛 Has anyone else tried these dips? Love them as much as I do? Much love, Olivia