Thursday, June 30, 2011

SoCal Recap: Koba grill

I had the opportunity to also see Nana for lunch and she suggested Koba Tofu Grill, which opened a restaurant in Irvine in what used to be a Blockbuster:

For some reason, we thought it would be a vegetarian place but it's Korean restaurant with a very broad range of offerings from the traditional Korean bbq meats to Jap Chae to dumplings to Soon Tofu (tofu stews) to my favorite, BiBimBap, as well as vegetarian offerings.  Nana went with two appetizers--jap chae and dumplings but the portions were enormous--I guess they were meant for sharing.  I went with the vegetarian BibimBap.

I absolutely loved that they always provided Ban Chan (veggie side dishes, usually including kim chi) and bonus they gave each of us a fried fish:

The next day I tried out their To Go Kogi Tofu Tacos:

Unfortunately, I was expecting something close to KogiBBQ tofu tacos, which are amaaazing.  Unfortunately, these were a little disappointing:

Now I can't speak for their beef tacos but I will say I highly recommend the Koba's restaurant for lunch or dinner. The jury is still out on their To Go side...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SoCal Recap: Little Tokyo - Imagawayaki

After lunch, I passed by this bakery window:

Where they make fresh authentic Imagawayaki - fresh made battered buns with red bean filling. One of my favorites!

I grabbed a few for the ride back to Orange County and to share!

Though honestly, when you get them fresh, it's best to eat them right then and there. The steam kind of makes the crisp batter outside stale in a soggy kind of way when they sit in a bag in an hour car ride.

SoCal Recap: Little Tokyo - Wasakaya

Since the MOCA Geffen branch is in Little Tokyo, I went to the mall across the street for lunch.  I decided on Wakasaya, a donburi (rice bowl) place:

They apparently feature this monster bowl. If you finish it and the accompanying pint of soup within 15 minutes, it's free. Otherwise, get ready to pay out the $49.

Sure there was a part of me that was tempted, but I really didn't feel like rushing to finish my food.  I settled on a regular bowl with sea urchin, eel, salmon, and yellowtail.  I don't know if it's because it was a Sunday, but I think I'll skip the sea urchin next time.  Otherwise, I enjoyed it:

And outside there was this one man band who apparently was featured on Jimmy Kimmel and America's Got Talent.

Entertaining afternoon in Little Tokyo.

SoCal Recap: MOCA - Art in the Streets

While I was in SoCal, I took advantage to driving up to the MOCA in LA to check out their "Art in the Streets" exhibit:

Very promising:

They had pretty much all the big names in street art, including, KAWS:

Though I have to confess it's not the easiest or most organic to curate street art within the walls of a museum.  I remember living in New York when REVS/COST was all over and it's a little odd to see a piece in a museum, like it's an artifact that's been dug up and preserved for historical purposes. 

I also cringed a little at this set-up (this was actually an animated piece where the arm moved side-to-side as the guy is "tagging" the wall):

I'm a little on the fence on this piece by Mark Gonzales:

Of course, my favorite and where I spent the most time was in the small section featuring Banksy.  Not only is his art well-executed (he works with stencils!) but the satiric and political wit is spot on:

I also liked Andre's Love Grafitti in the bathroom stalls:

My other favorite section was short skate films by Spike Jonze.  It was over 30 minutes of shorts but each one absolutely entertaining.

If you  have a chance to see this exhibit before it leaves on August 8, I highly recommend it.  Get there early and it is completely enjoyable in a few hours.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

USC GameCocks in the College World Series Finals

And I'm sick. I managed to come down with some phlegmy, coughing, exhausting thing yesterday and it's hitting harder today. The GameCocks are leading 4-2 in the 8th inning of the second game after winning the first game yesterday. This could possibly mean back-to-back National championships for the USC GameCocks.

Must stay awake...

UPDATE: Made it. Congratulations to the USC GameCocks--Back to Back National Champions! Now I know how it must have felt to be a Lakers fan last year.

FIFA Women's World Cup 2011

Anyone watching the Women's World Cup? I caught the USA opener vs. North Korea today. Last year, I got on board with the Men's World Cup, so I'm trying to ramp up for the Women's games.

Again, even though I hope the USA team tops out, whenever I watch any North Korean team (or I guess any team from an "exalted-supreme-leader" country) play, I kind of pity-root for them. Like, are there dire repercussions if they lose, like Uday Hussein's reputed torture of the Iraqi football team when they lost?  The goalie for the DPRK made quite a few saves and I feel like after each one, she had this sigh of relief, my family eats another day...

Well, USA topped out the DPRK 2-0 (though they had actually scored a 3rd goal--which was taken back as the forward kicked the ball as the goalie was diving for it and was technically touching the ball, which counts as possession by the goalie). But the DPRK have a chance to make it out of this group if they can beat Colombia and Sweden. #Pity-Root!

As I was listening to the commentators at half-time, there was a moment that recalled one of those awkward transitions on a news programs when they go from a story about some horrible crime to a human interest piece on someone growing the biggest pumpkin:

Ian Darke: North Korea, in their all red outfit about to start the 2nd half here at a boiling hot Dresden--part of the old East Germany. We're in the Dynamo Dresden Football Club stadium. A club that was once an arm of the East German secret police...the Stasi.

Julie Foudy: What a beautiful city this is...

Ian Darke: ...

Julie Foudy: ...

Ian Darke: It's's been lovingly rebuilt, hasn't it?

Julie Foudy: Yeah...

Ian Darke: That's of no concern to the USA, who have a job to do here!

SoCal Recap: Sushilicious and Linda

During my trip out to SoCal, I was able to hang with Linda a few times.  Not only did she move into her new house and put me to shame by being more unpacked in 2 days than I've been in almost a year, she took me to Sushilicious - this sushi place where it's all put out on conveyor belts.  Yes she is amazing.

Needless to say, we were excited:

And we loved the clever names:

Though it meant you kind of have to be a quick reader to figure out what was in the roll, because sometimes the title didn't really give much insight:

But it was all good:

We came during the lunch special where it was 5 plates for $10.  Normally, the color of the plate indicates the price which varies from $1.75 to $3.75 per plate.  So of course, you aim to eat in multiples of 5.  We had 10 plates each:

So good.  And I didn't feel like I pigged out in a gross way. I recommend Sushilicious but get there early if you want one of their, like 5, tables (the rest of the seats are bar stools).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quick Sewing lesson for the girl

One of the summer programs the girl signed up for the summer was a clothing design one at the local art museum. I kind of figured it was an overview about various designs and they would sketch out ideas. Then I got an e-mail asking her dress size so they could buy patterns ahead of time. I replied--Are the kids making clothes? Are these kids supposed to know how to sew? They answer was that since this class was geared towards 12-16 year-olds, yes, they were expected to have basic knowledge of sewing.

So this morning before her first session, I gave her a crash course in hand sewing--the running stitch, back stitch, and that blind stitch which closes a pillow opening:

I also gave a quick overview on the machine--threading it, seam allowances, and she had some practice runs:

Of course, it turns out that since the program description didn't list basic sewing skills, most of the kids in the class have no sewing experience. Sigh. Well, at least the girl has a bit of a head start...

Great day: A friend moves to the Carolinas

Yesterday started out well:

It marked a net 10 pound loss since I started to put my nose to the grindstone on exercising and watching what I ate three weeks ago. I even tried to eat well and exercise while I was out in SoCal last week. Will this be the year I finally break 150?

But what made it an even better day was that K made it to North Carolina and we drove up and spent the afternoon poolside!

Of course, the girl had a good time:

With all the kids!

Best day of the summer in the Carolinas so far!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

SoCal Recap: SoCal and Vegas farewell

As I mentioned, I was on a secret mission to surprise one of the co-conspirators of my Halloween in July send off. K, has it happens, is making the move across country and the company was having a send-off luncheon for her last Friday.

And one thing that came up was, wouldn't it be a hilarious surprise if I showed up for it? My answer was YES, I'm in. So I checked out PriceLine and booked a flight and arrived the Tuesday before.

The theme was SoCal and Vegas memories. We asked folks to dress up in something Vegas or SoCal themed. It could be as big as they wanted or as simple as wearing a UC or surf-brand t-shirt. That was the easy part.

We also planned to set up her office as a mini-casino, complete with poker table. A collaborative effort and it looked great! Yes that is my homemade Vegas sign:

When she showed up for work, we dressed her up in Elvis gear and we were dressed in our SoCal gear:

From left to right: hardcore Angels fan, our sweet Elvis, OC Housewife (yes! I made the "Coach" iron-ons, but borrowed the accoutrements), and a retiree turned Vegas gambler (if you've been to Vegas, you've definitely seen them).  I also cut my bangs but that didn't turn out so well...

But the final piece we surprised her was with a live lipdub video.  I saw the the one the Today show did for Meredith Vieira's last day and thought that we could totally do this for K.  With a bit of planning but NO rehearsal, with a lot of folks not fully grasping what we were doing, and homemade props, we pulled it off.  It was a single take, live running shot (throughout the entire office) lipdub video done to the Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling".  For better or worse, I cannot post a video as I'm sure we don't have everyone's approval (including the company's) but suffice it to say that the camera purportedly adds 10 pounds and on me, it's all on my big face.  But despite a big potato leading the goofiness, the best part was seeing K's reaction and seeing it all come together.

Big huge thanks to the camera man and editor (who confessed he was a huge doubter when I pitched the idea, but was pleased how well it all turned out):

Big thanks to this guy:

and this gal:

who talked me down from the ledge when I had a mini-freakout (during one of our late-night choreography/prop-making sessions) about trying to pull this video off with no rehearsal and in 3 days.

Thanks to this guy who embraced the Vegas identity full-force and choreographed a chunk of the video:

(Love the 'stache!)

And thanks to these ladies who helped make the office Casino a smash!

These were obviously taken at the Happy Hour (and by the black bars, I haven't bother asking for anyone's approval) at the end of the big day and yes, there were more pictures and folks to thank.  But I must confess after I had a little glass of my rum/Diet coke, I became afflicted with the non-photogenic Asian Glow which makes for horrible pictures unless the "black bar" was over my face.  But I'm so grateful to everyone for making this a memorable day for K!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I LOVE NY: NY legalizes same-sex marriage

Last night Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York's marriage equality bill after it passed the Republican-controlled Senate on Friday night, making it the sixth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

Obviously this is an issue that is important to me as I posted on the infamous Prop 8 during the 2008 elections when I lived in California.  And more recently, I posted on the impressive turnaround of the former NOM tour manager earlier this year.  I think what is significant about the NY passage is the four Republican senators who went against general party lines to vote to pass this (and it should be noted that previous run of this bill in a Democrat-led senate failed miserably):

- Senator James Alesi
- Senator Roy McDonald, who I couldn't agree with more when he said, "You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing."  And well, more famously, "Well, f**k it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing."
- Senator Mark Grisanti, who had this articulate speech on marriage equality as a civil rights issue.
- Senator Saland, who voted against the previous marriage equality bill, but this time around had these words: "While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience, I am doing the right thing in voting to support marriage equality."

Gentlemen, thank you for recognizing this is a civil issue, not a gay issue.  Thank you for doing the right thing.

Though I still believe civil rights is a national/federal level rather than a state-by-state issue, I think seeing these successful state passes let us witness the change and understanding that is happening through our country, little by little.  In time, I'm sure we will look back on this part of history in the same way we currently look at the anti-miscegenation laws of the '60s:  Can you believe that the US used to not allow gay marriage?

Until then, New York, I wish I was there for the celebration.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where in the World

have I been?

I was off on a super-secret mission to SoCal. Hint: it was time for a bit of payback for this for this lady who is also leaving SoCal for the East Coast:

Details to come...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mean egg whites

Years ago in New York, "Power Breakfasts" came to be in vogue: high-powered folks would meet for breakfast to wheel and deal or power-chat at some high-end hotel's restaurant. But the interesting thing to me about these breakfasts was that apparently was it not only expected, but there was almost a competitive nature, to eat a very mean breakfast. The newbie or rookie would be spotted eating a breakfast platter with pancakes or hash browns while the top executives could be identified cracking a solitary soft-boiled egg or having plain oatmeal and black coffee.

Anyhoo, kind of reminds me of my breakfast:

I attempted to dress up the scrambled egg whites with some low fat cheese, but the egg whites still dominated this breakfast with their overwhelming plainness.

Blech. It would have been a perfect power breakfast.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Halfway through the first hardcore week

I am so sick of egg whites. And cottage cheese. And veggies. And other ridiculously healthy things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

See? This time I'm going hardcore

I got one of these:

It's a scale so I can actually measure the ounces of low-fat cheese I'm allowed. I also did a big shop at the grocery store and loaded up on egg whites, cottage cheese, veggies, and other ridiculously healthy things.

Cue: Theme to Rocky

Here we go!

Monday, June 6, 2011

School's Out: final project

I meant to post pix of the girl's final big project of the school year before school let out last week:

The assignment was to recreate a model of a Roman home. With candy. She used graham crackers, icing, gummy Life Savers, chocolate bars, marshmallows, and Skittles. Paul helped by sorting the Skittles into different colors, making the icing-glue, and helping assemble the walls. My participation was limited to eating the leftover gummy Life Savers.

The girl said that everyone was excited to eat all the projects after they were graded.

On a side note, South Carolina was the 8th most obese state in the US last year, while ranking 12 in childhood obesity. Apparently, it's not for lack of trying.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Is there something in my teeth?

Once I was having lunch with some friends and while I was telling a story, one friend interjects, "you have something in your teeth."  My initial reaction was sarcastically responding, "well, well, well...thanks for totally embarrassing me."  And she looked at me surprised and said, "What?  You would prefer that I let you keep talking with that in your teeth?"  Hmph.  As embarrassed as I felt initially, she was right.  Though the information seemed an embarrassing blow initially, I ultimately would prefer the heads up so I could fix it now rather than letting me spend the rest of the day regaling folks with crushed oreo smiles.

So today, a Dairy Queen commercial plays on tv and Paul goes, "Mmmm, their shakes are so good, but not good for chubby people like us."

What did you say?

He repeated, louder, "I said their shakes are good, but not good for chubby people like us."


"Uh...I meant, like me...I mean, I meant the royal know," as he swept his arms indicating the rest of the nation that Dairy Queen shakes are not good for.

Fear not, I did not freak out or cry or berate him.  And for those who may think he's being mean and that he thinks that I need to lose weight to be attractive, he is not and he doesn't.  The truth is we both have been lamenting that we have gained over 30 pounds each since the days when we first started dating.  And it's not about the number, we both feel so much weaker and out-of-shape than before.  And if someone wants to tell me that 30 pounds isn't so bad, I honestly would say that 10 pounds wasn't so bad, but unfortunately, it turned to 20, then 30.  Am I waiting until I'm 50 pounds over before I get serious about it?  And to a degree, it's not for trying--and which may explain why I haven't been gaining more weight.  I've been getting regular about exercising and have been making pretty healthy choices at the grocery store.  And goodness knows, I can't even remember the last time I had a Dairy Queen shake.

But somehow hearing what we individually whine about to each other get confirmed in a casual afterthought of a commercial really just made it all stick.  Okay, so I know I've gone through permutations of this post at least twice in the new year and that I've had previous signs before, but today, again, is a new day.  This time I'm going to write down everything I eat, no more wishy-washy point counting. 

Here we go.  Again. Guess I should read that book.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Now Habit

I borrowed this book from a friend in SoCal:

Unfortunately, I keep putting off reading it.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Slight downside to mini-vacay

Unfortunately, all the celebratory eating and lazy vacay days of eating samosas and bagels with our nephew has a small downside--I left a few pounds heavier, my heaviest (so far, SIGH) this year. This despite actually taking a jog one day on a trail near my in-laws' house, where the sudden exercise made me hallucinate that this sign:

was pointing me towards "Water and Donuts".

As I came close, I realized it actually said:

"Water and Toilets".

On the plus side, I saw the most adorable salt and pepper shakers at the restaurant my brother-in-law treated us to:

Of course, being with this cutie made the weight worth it.