November 25, 2013

EAT: salted caramel and black sesame nuts

Candied and roasted nuts have quickly become one of my new favorite snacks.  And with the holiday season upon us, they're perfect to have around for parties and get togethers or even as a little gift for a host/hostess.  There are a ton of different sweet and savory versions, but I had to try this recipe I found for caramel nuts.  I added my own touch by sprinkling it with roasted black sesame seeds and sea salt.  

  • 3 cups untoasted nuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (you can also use honey or agave syrup)
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Sea salt

1. Place the nuts in a medium size mixing bowl and set aside. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar melts, and bring it to a boil.
3. Boil the mixture for four minutes without stirring. Once the four minutes is up, remove immediately from the heat. Add the vanilla and baking soda, and stir quickly.
4. Immediately pour the mixture over the nuts and stir to coat the nuts thoroughly.  Place the nuts onto a 9x13" pan and spread them out.  Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and sea salt.
5. Bake the caramel nuts for 40 minutes, stirring after every 10 minutes.
6. Remove the nuts from the oven and spoon them onto a baking sheet covered with foil. Allow them to cool at room temperature, and once cool, break them into pieces.

xoxo, NB

November 20, 2013

SOUL: 100 posts!! and a BIG thank you!

Put on your party hats and grab some confetti!  Or in our case, grab a handful of flowers and make it rain because it's a celebration!  Yes, that's right - it's our 100th post.  First and foremost, THANK YOU for your support and readership!  We started this lil' ol' blog last year in October of 2012 in the midst of our usual "what would Tony Robbins say?" chat pow wows.  One year and 100 posts later, here we are!  What started as just a project of who-knows-what, leading to who-knows-where - we now have an actual living, breathing online baby where we are projecting all our hopes and dreams (that's what you do when you have a real baby, right?)!  Ok, that part may or may not be true but we are definitely responsible for nurturing it like a real baby. 

Whatever the case may be, this blog DOES exist as a necessary creative outlet for us from our other full time jobs and our (thug) life - so for that, we are grateful.  We've been lucky enough to have the help of many of our loved ones - family members and friends who also act as our photographers, stylists and even models!  Not only that, we are even luckier to have friends who ARE professional photographers and stylists to help us with many of our posts.  And most importantly we have YOU guys visiting our page.  We appreciate it! 

This blog is a community effort and ever evolving, so thanks again for joining us.  Hopefully we'll figure it out some day, one DIY soy lavender candle at a time.  Until then, enjoy these raining flowers? pictures from our first photoshoot!  Excuse our awkwardness, we had (have) no idea what we were (are) doing.  0_o

This hand lettered mug was actually our FIRST DIY neato! bonito project and post!  We've come full circle. Thank you again! 

photography: Paulo Salud
styled by: Rose Tran

November 19, 2013

DIY: tassel necklace

The inspiration: this Isabel Marant double layer tassel necklace.  I love its simplistic, whimsical and delicately layered look.  But alas, the price was not right ($150!).  Being the accessory junkie that I am, I have to be pretty particular about the pieces I invest in.  And unless that tassel is made of out of unicorn hair, I was much better off making my own DIY version.  It's TOO easy to make, and you can put so many different spins on it for a unique look and feel.  I made a couple of tassels to wear as a single tassel or double up.  You can add beads and other little charms as well.  Get jiggy with it!


- Embroidery floss (I used black and cream, Michaels, $.79 each)
- Gold chain (you can also re-purpose an old gold chain from another necklace)
- 2 large gold loop connectors
- 3 small gold loop connectors
- 1 gold lobster claw/hook
- Pliers 
- Beads (optional if you want to add it onto the chain)


1.  Slip the paper tubes off of the embroidery floss without unraveling it.  Open one of the large gold loop connectors and slip both ends of the embroidery floss into the loop, then close it. 

2.  Using the other large gold loop connector, loop it around the top part of the tassel.  Then use pliers to fasten it tightly around the embroidery floss.

3.  Smooth the floss downwards, then cut the bottom part off depending on how long you want the tassel to be.

4.  Add a small gold connector to the top part of the tassel so that it can hang from the chain.

5.  Taking your gold chain, measure out the length you want the necklace to hang and cut it to the desired size.  Then connect a small gold loop to both ends.  Connect the lobster claw/hook to one of the ends.

6.  Slip the tassel onto the chain and ta-da!  

No hassel tassel!
xoxo, NB

November 14, 2013

EAT: pumpkin crumb cake à la mode

Being a novice New Yorker, I've come to learn that not only is crumb cake (also known as coffee cake) delicious, it's quite a must with coffee and tea here.  Also, although it has it's roots in Germany, it's particular to New York, who knew? Cue in the New York-Style Crumb Cake, aptly named.  I've also been told that was the dessert of choice to bring to someone's house (back in the day) when you were going over to have coffee.  Don't quote me on any of of this, but nonetheless, it's old fashioned and very simple.  There's so many different recipes and variations of crumb cake so you really can't go wrong.  However, it's THAT season, you know ... all hail the mighty pumpkin season, so I wanted to try a super easy pumpkin crumb cake version.  I've written a tribute to The Pumpkin before,  in a previous post ONE YEAR ago appropriately titled: Pumpkin Heads.  Looks like we've come full circle! That's another post in itself - stay tuned! :)  Anyways, here it is again, the pumpkin having it's reach  far and wide from it's humble home in the pumpkin patch - and in a deviation from it's usual form as a pumpkin pie, just in time for the Thanksgiving season!  Pair the pumpkin crumb cake with your favorite ice cream for an a la mode, dunk it in your favorite coffee or just enjoy it plain! Continue below for the recipe. 

Ingredients: (for 7x11 cake pan)
  • 1 (15 oz.) Farmer's Market brand of pumpkin puree
  • 1 (12 oz.) can of organic evaporated milk
  • 2 natural free range eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar (less sugar could be used and/or brown sugar)
  • 2 tsp freshly grated cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 package gluten free yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick of organic unsalted butter (divided 3 tbsp and 5 tbsp)

  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Grease your baking dish. Then melt 3 tbsp of butter in a bowl  and mix in 1 cup of of the yellow cake mix.  Mix well.  Press the mixture into your baking dish. Bake for 8 mins or until edges begin to slightly brown.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and eggs. Mix well and mixture should be runny.
  3. Carefully take out the cake mixture from the oven. Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the cooked pressed cake mix. 
  4. Melt the remaining butter  with the remaining yellow cake mix (this will be your crumbled topping).  Make the mixture into moist crumbs with your hand and sprinkle this mixture on top of the pumpkin mix. 
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins or until the top is golden brown.  Enjoy plain while it's warm or with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream as pumpkin cobbler/crumb cake a la mode!

bon appétit! xoxo, NB

November 13, 2013

DIY: lavender soy candles

Candles have always been one of the "little things" that I love to have around my home (especially in the wintertime).  A great smelling candle goes hand in hand with unwinding and is the perfect compliment to a relaxing bath, good book or cup of hot tea - all great wintertime activities.

This season, I wanted to give candle making a go with one of my favorite scents - lavender!  It's such an incredibly relaxing and therapeutic smell - which is also very useful when trying to de-stress from all the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  With any scent that you decide to go with, keep in mind that high quality essential oils will yield better smelling candles.  The essential oil I decided to go with was 100% pure and was not diluted.  Worth the extra moola if you ask me (who wants a funky smelling candle?)!


 - soy wax flakes (Amazon, $19 for a 5 lb. bag)
 - essential oils (I used lavender - Amazon, $21.97 for a 2oz. bottle)
 - wicks and anchors (Amazon, $4.93 for 12)
 - wooden or bamboo skewers
 - glass container (I used 8oz. mason jars)
 - glass container(s) to melt the wax (I used larger mason jars)


1.  Figure out how much wax you'll need for your jars.  The wax flakes melt down to about half the amount once it's in liquid form (for my 8oz jar I measured out 16oz of flakes).  Place the wax into your glass container, then put the glass jar(s) in a pot of water and boil.

2.  While the wax is heating up, prepare the jars by adhering the wick and anchor to the bottom of the jars.  You can do this by using a few drops of hot wax or hot glue to make the wick/anchor stay at the bottom.  Afterwards, you'll keep the wick upright by using the wooden skewers and looping the wick around it.

3.  Once the wax flakes are completely melted, add in your essential oils.  Use roughly 1oz. of oil per pound of melted wax, depending on how strong you want the scent.

4.  Pour the wax into the jars, being very careful not to burn yourself (you can lay newspapers down as this can get a little messy when pouring).  Make sure to avoid moving the skewers/wick as the new hot wax can sometimes remove or shift the anchor from the bottom.  Allow the wax to cool overnight before using.  After the candle is set, cut the wick to about 1/2 inch from the wax.

keep the fire burnin!
xoxo, NB

November 8, 2013

EAT: avocado kama - baked avocado with crab stick, cheese and flying fish roe

Hello AVOCADO! We love avocados here at NB if you haven't noticed.  I also love Costco but because I don't have a family, I just couldn't finish all the 7 avocados that comes in that mesh bag thing from there.  For the whole week, it was a race against time to eat them all before they got rotten.  I made homemade guacamole earlier in the week, then I ate one in my salad and then there were 3 left!  Today, I squeezed them to see their state, and needless to say, they were on the brink of consumption or garbage. Now how was I going to consume all 3 by myself?  I had no lettuce or spinach left for a salad.  I ate all the chips I had in one sitting so guac again was out of the question.  Thankfully I had flying fish roe (tobiko) in my freezer and crab sticks (kani) in the fridge and some provolone cheese that I needed to use too! Score.  And of course, everyone has a bottle of Sriracha and Kewpie Japanese mayo in their fridge right?  If you don't, you should!  With all these ingredients on hand, I remember one of my favorite dishes of all time was the Avocado Kama from Mushashino's in Austin, Texas.  If only I had shrimp, it would have been the perfect imitation of Mushashino's avocado kama.  Alas, I didn't have shrimp but I worked with what I had.  And my mission to eat all the avocados in a different way than I've been eating all week was accomplished!  So here it, so EASY and delicious, I had to share.  

Ingredients: (there is no exact measurement for this dish, just use more or less of each to your liking, can't go wrong!)
  • Ripe avocados 
  • Crab stick (kani)
  • Flying fish roe (tobiko) - I happen to have different colors. The orange one is the most common, you need it in the spicy mayo sauce and for garnish on top.  
  • Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise 
  • Sriracha 
  • Cheese (cheddar, provolone, swiss or american) - enough to sprinkle on top
  • Lemon 
Optional: If you want to get fancy, you can add cooked shrimp or chopped octopus :)

  1. Halve the avocados,  taking out the core and coating the surface with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown so fast - especially when they are in oven.
  2. In a bowl, combine 2 parts mayonnaise with 1 part Sriracha (more if you like it spicy!),  and a tablespoon of tobiko,  and mix into a thick sauce. If you have different colors, I would use the orange tobiko in the sauce and the other colors for garnish. 
  3. Unwrap the crab sticks and toss with the spicy mayo sauce you just made. Mix well.
  4. Take a spoonful of the crab mixed with spicy mayo and place in the avocado. Top with cheese of your choice.
  5. Pop in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes and voila! 

Tip: If you don't want to bake it, you can just eat it like a avocado and crab salad.  Baking just makes the cheese melt into an ooegy gooey goodness! It also makes this avocado dish warm and soft.  The picture above is pre-bake with the slices of cheese on top.  You can eat it just like this if you want! No bake option.

The pic above is after the bake, just 15 minutes in the oven. OOOEY GOOEY GOODNESS! 

You can also eat it like a mini taco.  I had seaweed crisps in my pantry that I wanted to try it with.  The seaweed added a bit more flavor from the saltiness of it, so this combo was a winner.   *clapclap Bravo avocado!

Enjoy!  xoxo, NB

November 4, 2013

SOUL: fall snapshots via instagram

Some of our favorite fall snapshots via instagram.  There's always something exciting about the change of seasons from summer to fall to winter.  It means transitioning to cozy sweaters and fuzzy socks, hot tea, candles, comfort food, snuggling up to a good book...and we can't forget - the holidays! 

Follow us on instagram @neatobonito

November 1, 2013

WEAR: camo and leather and wool and suede

Sweater weather, leather weather, I'm sure you've heard it all in regards to fall fashion.  Well we aren't going to try the reinvent the wheel here so YES, we concur it's time to break out your leather and sweater for this season! In addition to that, it seems that the ubiquitous print you see in the mags and runways are NOT just for hunters or the army anymore.  Camo is making it's round through the fashion landscape again like all trends do.  A little goes a long way, and any camo print added to your outfit adds instant toughness.  Think G.I Jane but with shiny fabrics and unexpected color combos like with neon, the print feels more modern. Utility doesn't have to mean futility and although the print is made for disguise, it has the opposite effect when incorporated appropriately in your wardrobe.  Go ahead girl get fatigued!

Margaret's outfit: Leather jacket, Zara // Tshirt, Aritzia // Tote, Herschel Supply // Shoes, Nike Air Max 90

Michelle's outfit: Shirt, // Pleated skirt, Zara // Booties,  Zara // Bag, Celine Trio

Photography: Jin Kim