Tuesday, June 30, 2009

FAUX BOIS LOG PILLOW - super freakin' cute

Yet another favorite of mine from Etsy... these pillows are ridiculously cute. They're made of felt and sport a birch grain. They add a touch of whimsy to my TV room. I only have one, but I think that the two together look adorable stacked.

CARAMEL POPCORN & WASABI PEAS - an unlikely but nummy combo

corny sugar

So this snack combo happened by accident. I had a craving for savory and for sweet. I had gone to Trader Joe's and gotten their wasabi peas and their fat free caramel popcorn. You know how it goes...I ate some peas, then I took a bite of some caramel popcorn...then some peas...and I realized that they tasted REALLY good together.

There's something about the spicyness of the peas mixed with the caramelized sweetness of the popcorn that just sings. To me, this was even better than theater popcorn mixed with m&m's or goobers or whatever I've seen my friends doing.

Wasabi Peas

Try it. You'll like it...and if you don't, I might come up with another combo later on that you'll dig.

CHUL AN KWAK TABLE - neil gaiman wants this...need i say more?

Organic and fantastical at the same time...plus function. Wow. Just wow. These tables were crafted by Korean designer Chul An Kwak. Stunning and really...I can see Neil Gaiman getting some serious inspiration off of these (he twitted about them). I hope he gets them. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

PANASONIC LUMIX LX3 - serious plaything


I honestly can't get enough of this camera. I did a posting when I had the camera for under a month. I wanted to share some more pix that I've taken. A lot of the pictures on my blog are done with the Lumix LX3. I just really dig being able to pull this camera out of my purse and start shooting...a luxury I don't have with my DSLR.


I caught the photography bug VERY early on. My Dad recently sent me this picture that I took when I was 5... at least I kept the shot in focus (this was a manual 35mm camera) and I didn't cut off any heads. Here's that photo circa 1973.

My Dad gave me a one of those little rectangular 110 Kodak cameras when I was probably 8...remember those? Black & silver with a red button to release the shutter? I took photography classes in high school and became the first female head photographer of the yearbook and then I signed on to take on the same role for the school newspaper. I competed in photojournalism that year and won 1st place at nationals. Woohoo! I continued in college and carried this over to studying cinematography....blah blah blah. Great fun, but I got burned out on taking photos and only recently started shooting again. We all need a little bit of creativity in our lives!

I've been having a lot of fun shooting with my Nikon DSLR but I really needed a compact camera that I could control. I did a lot of research (I friggin' loooove doing my research), and I came up with the Panasonic Lumix LX3. I considered the Canon G10 for a while, but wasn't sold on it as it was a bit on the large side for what I wanted. The Lumix fully appealed to me because it's compact, and it's also made in the same factory as the Leica D-Lux 4. Nothing is sexier than a Leica. The LX3 is its twin...the coating on the lens is different, from what I understand, but everything else is supposed to be the same. It has a mean lens - 24mm to 60, and it's fast fast fast at 2.0 to 2.8 at full zoom. This means I can take AMAZING low light photos. This wide angle lens is beautiful. Shooting on it in Dynamic Black & White is phenomenal. I can lock the camera so that it favors the aperture that I set or the shutter speed depending on the situation and the controls are pretty intuitive and easy to use.

This is one of the first photos I took with my LX3...you can see the camera manual on the bed. If you click to see the big version of this pic, you'd see that Monkey's (my chiweenie) head is right underneath Jezebel's (murderous cat of all itty bitty creatures) chin.

This camera is proving to be awesome for photojournalism type stuff...you can turn off the sound like most cameras, but the quality of the photos is amazing.

The detail in this gentleman's face is pretty gorgeous. I took this on the shuttle bus at LAX...first time I had experienced having to take a shuttle from the gate to the terminal.

This was taken in front of a church...two teenagers snogging.

A mom and her kids buying some ice cream from the corner ice cream cart man...I love that wide angle! A lot of people might feel that 24 to 60 might be too short a telefoto. I had to really think about how I shoot. I tend to use a lot of wide angle, macro, and a portrait lens. I don't EVER pull out my long telefoto zoom on my Nikon DSLR. Plus as a snappydo camera, I felt that mostly I'd be taking photojournalistic style pix and pictures of my friends...all things that I'd be up close and personal with. And with a shorter zoom, you get a faster lens...far more important to me as I'm a natural fiend and would rather have that extra stop of light than the ability to get closer. Plus the longer the zoom, the more compromised the quality of the lens. Bleh!

Even though I prefer to shoot in natural light, there are times when a flash is needed. This flash in black & white, I really don't mind. And this camera is able to focus pretty well in the dark which is another requirement that I had.

And finally...a macro shot. This camera is fully automatic, and fully manual. You can even set it to manual focus if you want, which I haven't tried out yet. What I normally do is set it up for spotmeter light reading (so that I can isolate what I want the camera to expose for in the small center dot, then I recompose the shot) and I do the same with the autofocus so that I can tell the camera what I want to focus on.

Okay I'll stop geeking out now. Bottom line, I REALLY dig this camera...like REALLY. I <3 it.

LUCHA VaVOOM - mexican wrestling & burlesque

Dirty Sanchez, the Crazy Chickens, Shamu, Cassandro, Chilango...these are all names of the Luchadores that fight in Lucha VaVoom, a Mexican Wrestling meets Burlesque show that shines every Halloween, Valentine's Day and Summer. It is hands down one of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles.

Dirty Sanchez is...well, just dirty. The Crazy Chickens are my personal fave...due to their awesome chicken clucking techno beat that serves as their theme song. I was there for the hatching of the mini-chicken. There was a large egg on stage...it started to crack...out popped a little person dressed in a baby chick costume, pecs and buffed hamstrings and all. They had a rope tied around him and lifted him up to "fly" him around the stage. That quickly ended after they accidentally bumped him into the speaker. These are not sights that you normally see, even in a city like Los Angeles.

One thing to keep in mind, WHEN you do go and if you get ringside seats (well worth it), be sure to wear some comfortable shoes because you're probably going to have to run at some point since the wrestlers get thrown out of the ring and sometimes continue the fight OUT of the ring.
Also, count your cocktails...it's easy to get quite tossed at this event due to the insane fun factor.

The MC's are always hilarious...Blaine Carpatch is friggin' hilarious, and they have a true Mexican fight announcer who does his work in Spanish. The burlesque dancers are awesome... different body types, all showing off their skills at making strip tease a show rather than just a pole grind. My favorite is Karis, who is a friend of mine. Always the highlight of Lucha, Karis' talent with the hula-hoop is ALWAYS surreal, sensuous and gorgeous with a capital G.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

DUMPLINGS & BUNS - chinese grocery essentials

Something I try to do every once in a while is reconnect with my "roots" by going to the San Gabriel area for a little grocery shopping. This is something that always reminds me of my Mom and I always end up calling her on my drive over there to chat about what I feel like buying or cooking for the week. She always has great recommendations on brands and what to buy...she's a pro and one of the best cooks EVER. I'm not just saying that.

The grocery store I always end up at is 99 Ranch. They're huge, and they have a location in San Gabriel and one in the valley as well. If you've never been to a Chinese market, you're in for a treat. You'll see fruits and vegetables you've never laid eyes on....the infamous durian can be purchased fresh here during the summer. It's the stinky fruit, so they call it, so I would proceed with caution. They also have a live seafood area and an extensive meat market with all kinds of parts that you don't normally see...exciting and potentially disgusting all at the same time.

But you'll also find gems like ramen that's not fried, multi-grain rice mixes (see pic below for reference)...fresh lychee, canned longan (a tastier sister-fruit to the lychee). One of my fave aisles has all kinds of accompaniments to congee (Chinese rice porridge) which I'll have to delve into another time.

I always have to have frozen dumplings on stand-by in my freezer. ALWAYS. They're super easy to put together, throw into a noodle soup or make into postickers for impromptu guests. The brand that my Mom recommends is Wei-Chuan. They are amazing and they really have a fresh flavor for being frozen. My favorite is probably the pork & leek mini-bun...if you order that at a restaurant, it would be the "Juicy Pork Dumplings" or Soup Dumplings because they freeze bits of pork broth and fold it into the meat mixture. When the dumplings are steamed, the broth melts and fills the doughey pocket with juicy goodness. Just becareful when you bite into these because you can easily burn yourself. It's sometimes better to take a nibble to release the steam. Use one of those Chinese soup spoons to hold them so that the juice doesn't spill everywhere. Now, in terms of steaming, a good way to do it is to lay down Napa Cabbage leaves on the steaming tray first. It keeps the dough from sticking, and it gives off a good flavor as well as providing you with some steamed vegetable to eat with your meal. :)

If you're getting the potstickers, heat some oil in the pan, sit those dumplings in (careful that they don't touch each other so they don't stick). Once they get a nice golden crust on the bottom, add some water or broth to the pan and cover to steam it the rest of the way. When the water evaporates, a sort of "sticky" crust developes around the dumpling. PotSTICKER!

Sauce for your dumplings: soy sauce, rice vinegar (although Chinese black vinegar is also VERY tasty for this), finely chopped scallions, a clove of garlic (smashed & just steeped in the sauce...you can remove it before serving), a few drops of sesame oil

Last but not least, the first photo is of my Mom, holding a bag of Green Onion Buns. I took this of her at a grocery store in Northern Cal so that I could remember what brand I was supposed to get once I got back to LA. Unfortunately I can't read Chinese so thank goodness for my iPhone camera. These buns are delish. If you've never had steamed bread, it's pretty darn tasty. These are great for eating on their own and also for stuffing with meat or whatever else you want. You might recognize a similar treat when you order Peking Duck. I'd rather have duck with these buns since they have some green onion baked into them. Yummm! Isn't my Mom cute?!

RONCO ROTISSERIE - ron popeil's best creation

This is one of those things that I should be probably be embarrassed about writing about, BUT it is one of my favorite things. My friend Butch turned me onto it. Everytime I would see him, he would go on and on about his Ronco Rotisserie...and how he and his bf would have Tuesday Rotisserie night every week...how he would season the chicken, how juicy and tender it would be, how easy it was...comes with a timer... la la la la la. Butch knows his food...REALLY knows it and loves it. I think that's one of the reasons we love each other so much...we're alike in that way.

I looked online for it and it's sold at various places...Target, on the As Seen On TV website, but I bought mine on Craigslist. You've probably gathered by now that I'm a fiend for Craigslist. I love a good deal and love to brag about it. I found mine for $60. It's about the width of a toaster oven, but it's really pretty tall. You need clearance behind it, around and above it since it does get really hot. It comes with a little dial timer and it's so simple...15 minutes for every pound of chicken. It automatically shuts off once the time is up. I read that you should then let it continue to turn without heat for another 10 minutes to let the juices settle back in (there's a switch for rotation minus heat as well).

My favorite slather for the chicken is Earth Balance (non-transfat butter substitute that tastes better than butter, in my opinion... no gamey flavor), fresh rosemary (or thyme) & italian parsley, lemon zest, smokey paprika, chopped up prosciutto, Lawry's seasoned salt (or other brand - Tony Cachere's Creole seasoning is awesome too), fresh ground pepper. This stuff goes under the skin, all over it, and sometimes I baste the chicken a little bit although you really don't need to do that if you don't want to since the juices run all over itself while the chicken turns. I am just a little obsessive about making sure the chicken is glistening in every crevice.

The chicken is INCREDIBLY juicy. I'm usually just cooking for me and Ting (my dog) so we'll have our dinner, and then the rest of it goes into a pot to make chicken soup for the next day. Win win. <3

Friday, June 26, 2009



We finally got the chairs in and a gorgeous lamp that Tori bid on at her daughter's school auction. It's customized with little panels of "stained glass" type of work that each kid had done to contribute to the lamp. We also purchased a cabinet off of Craigslist to consolidate all of the papers and equipment that we were housing in separate little cubbies. I love it...the antique pieces mixed with the modern chairs & industrial table from Ikea and the whimsical astroturf rug (purchased at Costco) and lamp...it all works somehow. I love that the wooden chairs pick up the wood of the antique pieces and that they also have the same style of wire base that the white chairs, making it look cohesive while still being a little funky since it's all mixed.

Check out how those stackable orange chairs turned out. The little yellow cubicle piece was in the lounge area previously and it goes nicely here as a magazine table for the actors. It was purchased at Ikea. Our space feels so good now!


At the studio we have a lounge area in the back with a really cool couch and an astroturf "rug". The rug, we bought from Costco, the couch we got from Craigslist for $200.

The plan was that we were going to re-use some dining room chairs after having them repainted (they required sandblasting since the metal had quite a bit of detail in it) and reupholstered. The chairs were free, but the repainting and reupholstering estimate at the cheapest place we could find was going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of at least $200 per chair, unfortunately.

We decided that buying new chairs would be a more affordable option so we began looking at Ikea and Overstock.com. We have a metal dining room table that sits in the middle of this astroturf rug, and we decided on these two Rae Walnut Dining chairs for the head of the table since they pick up the color of the wood grain on the couch.

And we are combining these with four of these Ronnie Wire Base chairs that are going to go around the table.

We did debate using the black ones, decided the white would pop more against the green astroturf and our hot pink wall. The prices were so affordable. For two of the Ronnie Wire base chairs, it's $156.74 if you're a member on their site. For the Rae Walnut chairs, it's a set of 2 for $161.49. We saved quite a bit on this set-up! I can't wait to see it all together back there. I'll post a pic when we get it all done.

We also just ordered some stackable chairs for the studio that our lovely Zac found (he's planning on putting these around an espresso colored, round West Elm Dining room table that I just handed over to him). This deal was ridiculous on Overstock, a set of 4 chairs for $151.99. They're called Stackable Orange Locker Chairs. Gotta LOVE the orange.

While we're on the subject of chairs... I dig this rocking chair as well from Overstock. It's a Vinnie White Cradle Chair. It sells for $151.99 as a member price.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

HANDMADE DOG COLLAR - cuter than sh*t

My chiweenie has been wearing a very lightweight ribbon collar for the longest time. Then she decided to rub her neck in some poo which, in my mind, destroyed the collar. I began my search on my fave handmade site, etsy.

I came across this adorable collar...you can customize it, choose the color of the collar, the color of the flower, and even the color of the polkadots on the flower! The center is a sterling silver disc that has the pooch's name engraved as well as your phone number. No more jingling in the middle of the night! It's all self contained...AND it's only $20. That's a steal in my book, to get something customized in leather & sterling silver like that. It's made by PoochyCouture. Very fitting. <3

HAUTELOOK - hot discounts

I honestly can't remember how I came across this site, but Hautelook has become part of my daily ritual of scanning the internet. It's a pretty cool idea...different designers put some of their items up there, there is an info button that tells you a little about the designer's background, etc., and then you can shop shop shop. The discounts are pretty steep... somewhere around 40% to 80% off.

Every couple of days I get a notice about the new designers that they are presenting on their site...there are normally about 3-4 at a time, and their items are displayed until they sell out or until the time runs out...normally a day or 2, then it's onto the next set of designers. There is everything from purses and jewelry to women's/men's clothes, beauty products and kids' stuff. They recently had Harajuku Lovers on there, and I couldn't resist but get a couple of items from there.

The bag I posted above is a Max Azria bag that I would love to splurge on, but really...can't. But for someone, it's going to be a good deal. It's normally $2000 and now marked down to $850.
If you do sign up on Hautelook, you can put me down as a referral...I get $10 coupon for that. heehee!

LE KIM's - stockton vietnamese food heaven

631 N. Center Street
Stockton, CA 95202

I've eaten at a lot of Vietnamese restaurants...I've hunted them high and low here in Southern California, always following recommendations by Jonathan Gold or friends that are "foodies". Unfortunately, none of them have surpassed the food here at this small hole in the wall joint in Stockton (Northern California) called Le Kim's. It's named after this immigrant couple's oldest daughter, Kim. Their last name is Le, and in Vietnamese, as in Chinese, the last name is always presented first. On the wall as you enter is a framed article from the Stockton Record about how this family immigrated from Vietnam by boat...a small one, and at the time, Mrs. Le was pregnant and stuck with morning sickness and throwing up over the side of the boat while they tried to get themselves and their children to a better world. It's an incredible story.

When you drive up to the joint, it's part of a motel. Admittedly the motel is a little sketchy, but the food in this place is absolutely divine. The decor is simple with things like empty soda cans that have been turned into fighter planes (no doubt some Vietnamese local craft that the Le family picked up on their visits back home). They have those fake flowers on the tables with the little clear plastic dew drops. Gotta love those.

What you come here for is the friendly service and the FOOD. They have the biggest vegetarian menu I've ever seen in a Vietnamese joint. Most Vietnamese restaurants I've been to pride themselves in the 7 courses of beef, beef this and that, pork this and that...etc.. Le Kim's actually has a vegetarian broth that they make that surpasses most broths I've had...and is damn on par in deliciousness to the Iron Chef Ramen broth I sampled at Morimoto's in NY. It's THAT good and looks just as simple. My friend Edwin, who is obsessed with clear broth, still dreams about this place. I normally order the Vegetarian Saigon Noodle with the broth on the side, and I always ask for an extra large bowl of the broth cuz I just can't get enough of it. A little bit of sriracha and a good stirring of this dish and I'm on my way to food heaven.

I've tried a lot of different dishes here...the sauteed vegetables over crispy noodles, the Charbroiled pork over rice noodle salad and imperial roll (their imperial rolls are SOOO good), the sizzling fish with dill and turmeric (AMAAAZING), the spring rolls, and have tasted many other dishes. It's all good, and they do have a great following from the downtown Stockton area during weekday lunch rush. They've recently stopped serving on Saturday and Sunday which bums me out since that's normally when I get a chance to visit Stockton, but this last time, I just extended my trip to leave after lunch on Monday. That solved it. <3

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ROOSEVELT MIXOLOGY - cocktail composer matthew biancaniello

Cocktails=candy for adults. If you've ever been to the Roosevelt Hotel Library Bar in Los Angeles, you might have met the Willy Wonka of cocktails. Matthew Biancaniello is the best mixologist I've come across. Granted, I haven't seen many mixologists in LA, but I have met a few and I have a passion for mixing it up myself and this guy is truly an artist.

I went to the Library Bar one evening with my friend Miguel. We wanted somewhere quiet for a chat so the Library Bar seemed perfect. It's gorgeous, intimate, and the music isn't pumped up in there. They have comfy seating and most importantly, they have Matt. I had the Pear Ginger Drop (Absolut Pear, homemade ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice, club soda, garnished with ginger gumdrop). It was incredible...the balance was perfect and it was scrumptious! Get this...he made his own ginger syrup...makes his own grenadine syrup (which he gave us a taste of and it's outrageously good), and he was going to work out how to make his own ginger gumdrop. THAT is dedication to the craft. That night he was also making a fresh blood orange maragarita which he had me taste...insanely delish. He's so friendly and so enthusiastic about his creations...his passion is infectious. He always works with whatever is fresh at the Farmers Market.

Check with the bar to see when he's working before you go down there. It's really worth it...the library bar is not the same without him there. I went once when he had the night off and the bartender didn't know anything about Matt's creations so I ended up with my usual fare.

He's going to be in the next Angeleno magazine with his Mangoleno cocktail! Mmmm...can't wait to taste it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

DAVE'S CHILLIN' & GRILLIN' - hands down best sammies

This is Dave. He's from Boston and he has a serious passion for making sandwiches. I'm lucky enough to live in Eagle Rock where he has his joint, Dave's Chillin' & Grillin'. This year he expanded to include more seating for his loyal customers, and boy you can include all of Eagle Rock in that bunch. This is literally the joint where everyone knows your name. They know what your favorites are, and really, EVERYTHING on the menu is genius.

My first favorite was the french dip sandwich. I ask them to make it with turkey. They put horseradish mayo and they pour the au jus all over the meat on the sammy. Dave explains that he has the bakery make his bread and then put it in plastic bags to take the crunch out of the crust...that way the sandwich holds better when you have something wet like a french dip going on in it. See what I mean? GENIUS. He thinks about this stuff...and he gets top notch ingredients, including Israeli feta for the greek veggie sandwich (which, by the way, tastes amazing with some roast beef for you meat lovers). Go in there, they won't steer you wrong. They all have advice on what to order and how to order it. They make a mean smoothie and I swear it is an amazing hangover cure. I nearly crawled in there one afternoon after a very rough night and after a sandwich and a smoothie, I felt 95% better! The chillers are super duper tasty and the malts are phenomenal. He has different specials so check to see what they are. The pilgrim is awesome (turkey, stuffing, cranberry & gravy) and his chili dog is to die for.

I'm not actually a huge sandwich lover (I know, you can't tell from how I've gone about this place) , but I <3 Dave's. Jeez I'm hungry now.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I needed a flash drive and really, what's the point of getting a generic one? I thought I'd search around and see if I could find a PANDA flash drive. I came across the Mimobot site. They have a lot of different types of flash drives...Star Wars characters, Happy Tree Friends. You'll have to check them out. This one is called the Golden Panda and it came about from a design contest. The winners of the contest had their designs made by Mimoco into little Mimobots. They come in 4G or 8G and you can even get your lil guy a hoodie. REALLY. I have a furry orange hoodie for mine. Geek-o-rama!
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NATALIA FABIA - when you <3 a painting

My friend Tori invited me to go with her to a gallery show at the Cory Helford Gallery in Culver City. There was a young artist named Natalia Fabia that was going to be showing there. Her artwork was sexy, fun, and stunningly gorgeous. The show was called "Hooker Safari". That's hot. This painting pretty much describes the entire show:

I met Natalia, and she is a beautiful, statuesque blonde rockstar looking girl in her 20's. Amazing. Her style is very distinct and her skill is impressive.

This painting of the elephant was IMPRESSIVE. It was huge...6ft x 6ft and she had so many elements within the painting. Up close, you could see that the elephant was made up of a collage of different female body parts.

I fell in love with the painting of the girl wearing the hat with the little ears. It was definitely one of the tamer paintings that she had, but there was something magical about it and as much as I walked around and tried to get out of my mind, I couldn't. She even used purple glitter on this painting...can't say no to glitter!

She has had a follow up show and I've heard that it was quite successful. I was able to view a preview link to it and she had sold a lot of paintings before the show even began, and it seems that her paintings have gone up in price pretty substantially.

She's definitely an artist to watch out for and the Cory Helford Gallery is always getting fun art shows in their space...something to look out for.
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EL POLLO LOCO SOUP - nothing wasted

I love those El Pollo Loco deals that you see when you go through the drive-thru... 8 pieces for $6.99. I'd get the sides... BBQ black beans, steamed veggies and rice. If I was eating with a friend, we'd finish some of it, and have leftovers. One lovely grey day, I decided to try something with the leftovers. I threw all the leftover chicken and bones into a small pot of water to make some broth. After cooking it for about 45 minutes, I pulled the chicken out, shredded up the meat and discarded the bones, tossed in what I had left of the BBQ beans, rice, and the little cups of salsa they give you...everything went in the pot. I added a little salt and pepper. I saved the veggies for the end since they were already pretty soft, and after 20 minutes, I had a really fantastic soup!

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