Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bebe Time

A little card I made with gouache paint to welcome Baby Mia to the world.  Still waiting to meet her in person; can't wait!  H and I were back east mere DAYS before she was born and the timing hasn't worked out for a return trip just yet.  Hopefully she's still a bebe by the time I make it over there...!

One Holiday at a Time . . .

I know Christmas just came and went, but this is what Thanksgiving looked like!  Or, at least, our contribution to it . . . garlic haricot verts!  Check out those chunks of garlic.  What?  My peoples love the garlic!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, folks!  Last year, we celebrated by going to Disneyland.  Although fun, we vowed not to make it our tradition because, let's face it, Disneyland is one of those places that normal (read: people over the age or emotional capacity of 10+) can only go maybe twice every 10 years.  We hit our quota.  This year, instead, we went to a pumpkin "patch" (a parking lot covered with hay) in LA, realized that the pumpkins were way over-priced and then high-tailed it over to Trader-Joe's.  $6 later, we had two big pumpkins in tow and some bread and cheese for our pumpkin-carving fiesta.

H and I did a little photo-shoot, watched Julie & Julia (my Netflix pic after being forced to sit through Thor last go-around), and came up with our little guys!  Mine is, well, me, and H's is Batman :)  Best part is that because our apartment hallway is open to the air, we were able to keep the little guys lit up for hours!  Yay.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun Push Pins

I made some decorative push pins last month for a friend for her office.  I made these for myself a few months ago when I decided that I needed cute push pins for my bulletin board at work but didn't like the choices I saw on Etsy.  They are super easy to make!  All you need is:

  • fabric of your choice
  • metal button kit (with pushing rubber cylinder)
  • thumbtacks
  • hot glue

I bought all the materials (except for the glue gun, which I already had) at Joann's Fabrics.  

Buy the metal button kit for the size of button that you like (making sure that the thumbtack head can fit inside the back); Follow the super simple decorations on the kit (cut circles of fabric, place metal button head-down on fabric, use pusher tool to tuck fabric into the back part, snap the metal backing piece into place); Hot glue the thumbtack into the back piece so it rests inside.  

Wrapped a little matchbox with paper, tucked the pins inside, and sent it off!  Now, off to search for more ways to make my office space less sterile...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Welcoming Sarni Baby

My close friend Lai is due at the end of this month and had a baby shower a few weeks ago.  Saddened by the fact that I could not attend the momentous occasion, I sent her a little gift and a little card.  For the card, I cut a onesie shape out of cardstock, embellished with some glitter paper, and then free-hand cut a rabbit shape.  Year of the rabbit after all!  I then tied a little ribbon around its paper neck and printed out the baby's moniker -- a riff off of her daddy's nickname (right?).  While the package didn't make it in time for the shower, despite USPS's prediction to the contrary (*I shake my first at you, USPS*), it did make it to Lai eventually (whew!).  Next up, getting to meet the little one herself!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Oldness and Flowers

Happy birthday to me (one and a half months ago)!  :)  Flowers from my parents and H.  They know me well.  Celebration included getting serenaded by a Mariachi duet, day-trip to San Juan Capistrano, strolling the Mission, afternoon tea, walking on the beach at Dana Point, using H's gift to combat old-face, a day at the Getty.  Good times, yummy food, hot weather, impending decrepitude.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Coming soon -- very soon, i.e., this Saturday, to NYC!  Our most favorite macaron place -- Laduree!  In NYC!  H and I had a knock-off macaron from Bottega Louie last week and thought it paled in comparison.  A colorful mushy lump instead of a perfectly crisp, deliciously chewy delight.  We'll likely be in NYC this fall and will have to brave the crowds of tourists to get our Parisian fix.  And nobody does packaging like Laduree --- nooooobody.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fly-by Hello!

Wow, it's been a long time!  I haven't had a chance to get to do that much fun cooking or crafting lately because of work, but I thought I'd stop in.  H and I celebrated our one-year anniversary two months ago but I'm still aglow.  I'm a firm believer that you must celebrate occasions and H did not disappoint.  He surprised me the morning of our one-year with this:

A replica of my wedding bouquet!!
I danced a jig of joy when I saw it and we took an impromptu photoshoot with it all around our apartment.  Then it was off to Santa Barbara where we rented a tandem bicycle, rode past TWO weddings, and generally yukked it up.  We had a nice romantic dinner complete with delicious wine and headed back home.  It was wonderful and very "us."  We also exchanged paper gifts for our paper-anniversary but I'll share those later.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pantry Pasta (no pics...)

...but a recipe that I must share!  Okay, it's not so much a recipe as a random thing I threw together, but it was tasty.  It involves:

- boiling and making pasta the usual way, with salt added to the water
- chopping up cloves of garlic (however many cloves you like, the more the merrier) and heating it up in olive oil.  The key here is to INFUSE the oil!  Low heat, press the garlic into the oil, don't let the garlic burn
- you can remove the garlic after it has infused the oil, but I didn't - my peoples love the garlic!
-add whatever you want to the garlic/olive oil infusion at this point.  I had some ham I wanted to use, as well as grape tomatoes, so I diced them up and threw them in.  Assorted frozen vegetables would work well here too for a pasta primavera.
- Salt & Pepper (but of course!)
- when the pasta is almost done, crack two (or more) eggs into the pan (which has the oil/garlic/etc sauteeing away)
- lightly mix the eggs into the pan
- when the eggs are still runny add the pasta directly into the pan and mix thoroughly
- a dash of olive oil when ready to plate

YUM!!  This was really really yummy.  I was surprised at how much the egg came across as cheese.  Really delightful!  A true pantry pasta - no sauce required, the egg and oil create enough moisture to coat the pasta.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pasta with Jazzed-up Jar Sauce

I think I'd like to start trying to make my own pasta sauce.  Until then, I'm content with jar sauce--usually Classico because it's sold in bulk at Costco.  But I can't bear to eat the jar sauce without jazzing it up first, or else it tastes like saucy cardboard to me.  I usually end up throwing in lots of garlic (sauteed first in olive oil), onions, fresh tomatoes (which soften up in the sauce), and whatever else seems like it might fit (tonight was frozen baby peas).  This ups the flavor factor incredibly for regular jarred sauce and is a nice (QUICK!) alternative to making your own sauce (although that's next on my list).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Onion Rings

In addition to all manner of potato goodness, I also enjoy a good onion ring now and again.  Similar to the fries that I usually make (see this post), I decided to bake my onion rings as well to turn this guilty pleasure into a not-so-guilty go-to snack.  There are tons of recipes online (like this one), but I actually didn't have any milk on hand and I felt like onion rings don't take that many ingredients to be tasty.  So, I just cut up some rings of yellow onion, dredged them in flour, dunked them in an egg wash, coated them with Panko breadcrumbs/salt/pepper mixture, and baked them at 400 until they looked done (flipping them over once after about 5 minutes).

Not the most exact recipe ever, but I think the point is that this is easy to make, and is not an exact science.  The rings came out crispy and flavorful, and perfect for dipping into ketchup.  I didn't get that deep golden brown color that comes with deep frying, but I didn't get the extra 1k calories or saturated fat either, so it was worth it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Class of ... what the what?

I customized this plain white onesie for our friends' baby who was born in April.  His dad's a Bruin so I fabric-painted a little paw print on the front, as well as his surname on the back.  I thought it'd be cute to add his grad year on the back as well, like one of those class shirts you'd get at spring festivals at school (was that just my t-shirt-happy school?).  So I did a quick calculation and oh.my.word, it turns out that this baby will be class of 33.  Way to make me feel old, kid.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mmm Sugar Cookies

I get my insane sweet tooth from my dad.  A meal is just not complete until it's capped off with something sweet -- it doesn't even matter what it is.  I've been known to down handfuls of dry sugary cereal after a full meal just to get my fix.  I was shopping for groceries a few days ago when I decided that I had to get a box of cookies or something similar.  Maybe it was because I was at Costco, or maybe it's because of inflation, but I just couldn't justify spending $10 for some cookies.  So, I looked up some recipes for making sugar cookies at home -- they wouldn't require buying anything, and I could whip them up whenever I felt like it.

I found this basic recipe here.  Seems fool-proof (very necessary) and well-reviewed.  I gave it a go.  But I also tweaked the measurements, which you're really not supposed to do when baking.  Woops.  It came out fine though!  I halved the butter content (definitely do this if you make these), and reduced the sugar by about 1/4 cup.

I'd make this again.  They're chewy and yummy baked up REALLY QUICKLY.  I'd probably stick to the sugar measurement next time though, as they could've been sweeter.  If you're going to frost them or drizzle some kind of chocolate or caramel sauce, however, you can reduce the sugar in the recipe.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy News

Lots of happy news lately!  Primarily in the way of babies, but my friend W recently announced her marriage and her upcoming celebration this summer.  To give her a "virtual" hug, I sent her a little card.  I cut out the card from some card-stock that I have, folded it into a neat little hexagon with the flaps tucked in, and then cut out a rose shape with petals from wrapping paper.  Hot glued the rose onto some twine and sent it off, crossing my fingers that it wouldn't get crushed like a pancake!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Baby Ari

We just heard the breaking news that the pastor who married us will be having his first kid in September.  He was H's pastor back during grad school, and we're excited for him.  I made him a little card to celebrate Little Ari (the name they've picked out), which apparently means "Lion," according to his dad's excited FB post.  I just did the little lion face by freehand in Photoshop and cut the little pieces from paper I had around.  Hope they like it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fool me once...

Ugh, it happened again.  Remember this post?  The one in which I lamented overly-hyped foods?  Oops, we did it again.  We ate somewhere that is so overly-hyped that it's the proud recipient of almost 2,500 yelp reviews, all pretty uniformly calling this the best ramen shop of all time--Daikokuya. 

Now, since moving to CA almost three years ago, I've learned a few things about yelp.  First, you have to take the reviews with a grain of salt.  People who don't like places just naturally tend not to write about them--they should, but they just don't.  So you get this over-representation of positive reviews.  Second, I think maybe it works better in SF where it's more popular, but in LA, it's just kind of eh.  A lot of places just don't have that many reviews.  But at 2,442 reviews, and a wait that always seems to be over 1 hour no matter what day of the week (when neighboring ramen shops are EMPTY), we thought we hit the jack pot when we walked by last week at lunch time and the wait was ten minutes.  We hopped in, yelped for the best menu options, and ordered.

Both H and I got the regular ramen with "back fat," supposedly some umami-making wonder fat.  H also got a side of rice with chicken teriyaki.  A big "meh" to both.  It was okay, but no better really than the ramen I've had elsewhere.  DEFINITELY and WITHOUT A DOUBT not worth a wait of more than 25 minutes.  Plus, I got a raging MSG headache of some sort after lunch.  Ew.  Hyped foods, I wish I knew how to quit you.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Creamy deliciousness with a side of pasta

I've had a hankering for pasta with cream sauce for awhile now.  Tomato sauce, no matter how you jazz it up, just gets old after awhile.  I adapted this recipe from Epicurious by:

-- subbing in rigatoni for gnocchi
-- adding more garlic; 2 large cloves instead of just 1
-- subbing in half-and-half instead of cream, and adding a touch more
-- nixing the red pepper flakes & spinach
-- adding shrimp (add it raw to the heated cream/peas mixture), it'll cook up quickly

This was delicious and I highly recommend trying it!  The lemon juice and particularly, the zest, adds a nice freshness that you don't normally get from pasta dishes.  I also really and randomly like peas with pasta, so this was perfect.  I made this again last night but instead of shrimp, added diced eggplant.  So good we ate the leftovers too.  Portion-control is clearly not our forte. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spa Food

I recently saw some pictures online of a yoga retreat -- I had no interest in the yoga part (I tried it, I'm not into it), but I really liked the pictures of the food served!  You know, a lot of salad, organic stuff, quinoa, the like.  I saw one dish that looked like some sort of polenta cake with salad and beans, and thought to recreate it somewhat.  I heated up some slices of pre-made Trader Joe's polenta in a skillet with a tiny slab of butter, then chopped up some button mushrooms and sauteed them with some garlic in that same skillet after the polenta was done and plated.  Served with a heaping side of salad, and we had our own little yoga retreat dinner.  Kudos to H for being a good sport about it.  He's a meat-guy so this was bird food to him!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Baby A

A big congratulations to my good friends L&S who recently announced the impending arrival of Baby A! This happy news combines a few things that I cherish:  friends, good news, and wait for it . . . paper products.  (haha)  I made them a card with a little bit of the customization I love and sent it off thousands of miles away.  Here it is posing all demurely:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nesting Bug

To all the newlyweds out there (or the couples post-wedding, pre-kids), what is about being in that stage of life that turns you into a serious nester?  I guess it makes sense, and I always did have a bit of a nesting streak in me (I've loved the NYT Real Estate section since 11th grade), but it hit me big time this year.  I can't get enough of apartment therapy, Design Sponge, Young House Love and the like.  I'm even considering subscribing to Architectural Digest or maybe Elle Decor.  (The problem with those rags, of course, is that they feature only the most beautiful, uber luxe manses or manses in the sky which provides little to no inspiration for normal homes for the rest of us).

Here's my problem:  like many young couples out there, H and I are ready to upgrade in terms of living space, etc., but we're not ready for that McMansion in the burbs yet.  I'm not quite convinced I'll ever be totally ready.  An afternoon in Orange County seriously depresses me (true story; it happened just last weekend).

So, then, how do you find a place that you love and can do up the way you want, but that you won't outgrow in a few years time?!  This is particularly perplexing when you want to buy.  I did not grow up moving around a lot as a kid so the idea of buying a place that you'll only get to live in for a few years is utterly foreign to me.  Maybe it's inevitable that you get the "starter home" and then upgrade when the next bug--the baby bug--hits?

Oh, and then here's the last twist (one, however, that I need not address for YEARS):  I LOVE California but the real estate on the East Coast appeals to me much, much more.  My dream home is and has always been a house (read: apartment) in the sky.  In urban-sprawl LA-LA land, that simply does not exist.   

If you can believe it, this is a pied-a-terre in NYC (some people have too much $).  Dreamy, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Heart Saturdays

Okay, so I know it's Wednesday.  But can you blame me if I'm looking forward to Saturday already?  This was last Saturday.  Minus the crazy-guy-talking-into-his-earphone-buds-about-some-government-conspiracy, it was a lovely afternoon at the local Sbucks.   

Monday, April 18, 2011


Just a greeting for my man as he hits the books...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carbs, sweet carbs

I'm not going to bother posting this recipe here (I got it from the Interwebs) because this didn't turn out as planned.  It did, however, turn into this yummy, weird pretzel/croissant/dinner roll hybrid that was great straight out of the oven and okay the next day (at which time I polished off the whole batch :)). 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Olvera Street

I'd walked through the Olvera Street Plaza a handful of times, but never stopped to look around.  It was never the destination; it was always just sort of "along the way."  H had the great idea to finally make it our destination on Sunday afternoon.  Everywhere I looked there was something photo-worthy.  Of course, we didn't bring the DSLR.  So the Droid had to do.

Olvera Street is apparently the oldest part of downtown LA.  It's basically this small walking lane that features all sorts of shops selling everything from Mexican trinkets to leather goods to really good tacos.  The weather was impeccably LA-perfect.  We took photos, walked around, soaked up the sun, and finally pulled out our Yelp app to find the best place to eat.  We found it in La Buena Noche.  We forgot to take pics there, mainly because we were too busy figuring out what manner of deliciousness to eat.  Sopa/tamales/taquitos for him, tacos/enchilada for me.  Olvera Street is going to be CRAZY on Cinco de Mayo!

This church was founded in 1791!

This was creepy.  That white figure is on stilts wearing a full white face mask, and he was beckoning people to come in.  Aren't churches supposed to be inviting places?!  I felt bad for the children passing by; they were terrified.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The One Where I Became an Angeleno

Okay, okay, so eating from a food truck does not make one an Angeleno.  And yes, I've eaten from a food truck both here in LA and in other parts of the US before.  But, the "food truck revolution" did start here, and it really is a part of the culinary culture in this city.  The thing I find frustrating about them is that they're never where you want them to be.  For this reason, we still haven't been to the more popular trucks (Nom Nom truck for bahn mi; Grill Em All for grilled stuff (duh), and Kogi truck (for Korean tacos)) because they're always far away (either in distance or in LA-traffic-world; urban sprawl, anyone?) or "off" on the nights we want to go.

So imagine our surprise and delight when we came back from an outing last week to find some sort of FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL steps away.  Um, hi, where have you been all my life?  None of the heavy hitters were there, but who cares?  It was heaven.  My sweet tooth sought out the most sugary, calorie-ridden dessert I could find.  I found it in Cool Haus.  Everyone else must have felt the same way because the line was crazy long when every other truck had maybe a 2 minute wait.

I LOVE how they like Bauhaus.  How random is that!  A truck after my own heart.

I had the mascarpone and fig ice cream with double-chocolate cookies.  DELICIOUS.  But very unwieldy.  And probably overpriced at $5.  H had the pear sorbet with lemon and rosemary cookies.  Eh.  The sorbet was good but the cookies were too hard.  Not the best ice cream sandwiches I've had but great branding.  I'd probably go back again, but I wouldn't chase it all over LA.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Don't Get it...

You know how there are those structures that are just iconic?  Like the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge?   (And those three in particular are scarily photogenic).  Here in LA, I think the closest thing that comes to "iconic" is the Hollywood sign.  According to the Wikipedia entry, it originally read "Hollywoodland" and was meant to advertise a housing development in the area.  And then, of course, it became associated with the movies, glamour, and all that jazz. 

I never really understood all the fuss about the sign, so H and I combined our plan to hike with some Hollywood sign inspection.  We took the Hollyridge Trail which takes you steeply above the sign.  It was a good, short hike and I got to see the back of the sign up-close.  Eh.  Not completely sold.  The most entertaining part of the whole experience was what a motley crew gathered on that trail.  About 1/2 of the crowd came for the hike (shorts, sneakers, water bottles) and 1/2 were tourists who came strictly for the sign (cameras around the neck, jeans, bedazzled flip flops).  H and I were prepared like the former but gawking at the sign like the latter. 

Downtown LA in the distance; Griffifth Observatory in the foreground.  Cloudy Saturday.  Perfect for hiking.

These two photos here are misleading.  There's actually a high fence between the trail and the sign.  These were taken through the chain link for a clear shot.

High security much? 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Why yes...

...that is a nine-months pregnant lady about to jump through hoops of fire.  H and I went to an exhibit in honor of a friend who was screening her latest work.  Her pieces were quite well-done, and we had a fun time deciphering the "larger" meaning in each of them.  The highlight for me was getting to meet the baby who had jumped through those hoops while in utero.  He was incredibly adorable and so much lighter than I expected!  I always associated babies with being heavy and unwieldy, but he was a petite charm.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Among Vices

If you know me, you know that I love flowers.  Seriously adore.  I know they're not practical and they die quickly and all of that, but I can't help it.  I love them!  It helps me out that H indulges me in this regard and is an excellent flower-gifter.  Without any flowery holidays on the horizon, I picked up a bouquet for myself at Trader Joe's recently.  I enjoyed them for almost 2 weeks so I consider that a $3.99 very well spent!  Looking forward to the next TJ bouquet...

Cut the stems down very short and arranged in a short vase

The lilies and red roses were the first to go, so I repurposed the mini pink roses into a nightstand arrangement.
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