Sunday, February 27, 2011

The 83rd Academy Awards

Congrats to The King's Speech! I am so proud of it. And now I really need to watch it. I realised tonight that I've only seen one film out of the 10 nominated for Best Picture: Inception. So of course I was rooting for that film to win all the awards. It won four, so despite not getting the nom for Best Director, I am very happy for it. And I am SO happy that Christian Bale is now ACADEMY AWARD WINNER Christian Bale. About damn time.

Earlier today I tried to recreate the magic of Wednesday, but in Burbank. I looked through my Yelp bookmarks and saw that a couple of them were on Magnolia Street, so I Yelped what was nearby and figured out a total of six places that I wanted to go. And they looked like they were relatively close to each other on the map so I figured we could park at one end at one place I wanted to go to and walk around to the other ones. Wow. I am an idiot. And my feet are proof of this.

Also, no offense to that area of Burbank, but wow. My mum and I walked by so many empty buildings it was really depressing. So we started off our journey at Full O'Life Grocery. We had lunch there and it was a pretty good start to our journey. It's a really cute little health food market with great products. We then walked down to MindfulNest. WOW. MindfulNest was farther away than I thought it was. It was 0.5 miles, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it was. It was okay, but the prices were way too high. Rocks & Runes was right next door, disappointing. Stopped at an antique store on the way to Unwind, which was also disappointing. Skein in Pasadena is so much better (but why is there a second Yelp page?). But stopping at Porto's for a couple of potato balls made us feel a little better. And I got a dozen cheese rolls. I ate my last corn muffin for breakfast this morning so this upcoming week will be cheese rolls for breakfast! We had parked on the street and our two hours were nearing so when we went to Yummy Cupcakes I just got their Red Carpet Velvet to go. We got the car 5 minutes before our 2 hours was up and went to Handy Market, which was really disappointing. Their meat does not look any better than your average market. In their defense, we weren't there for their Saturday BBQ and we didn't partake in any deli sandwiches. Also doesn't help that we were both in a not-so-great mood after having walked almost 2 miles (I don't know what my mum's excuse was but mine was that I was in boots and developing blisters on my feet. Ouch.)

So overall that was a bust. So much for trying to discover the small shops of Burbank. Any ideas for what our next adventure will be?

I haven't done much since I last blogged. Went to the gym a couple times and desperately tried to catch up on TV. I watched 21 eps of TV since then but am still 16 eps behind. Sigh.

Red Carpet Velvet 2
{Red Carpet Velvet cupcake}

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Beauty of Downtown LA


{Bunker Hill}

I am an Angelino born and raised. And yet there are so many places I have not explored within Los Angeles. Thankfully, my mum and I discovered a few places today. We went with the objective to go to four places (which I had Googled and Yelped yesteday): Pershing Square, Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, and the Bradbury Building.

We left the house around 10AM and headed over to the Sierra Madre Villa Metro Gold Line Station. Parked, purchased one way tickets (just $1.50 each) and got on the Gold Line to Union Station. This is the second time in my life that I've ridden the metro. It's pretty nice. We then bought tickets and hopped onto the Purple Line to Pershing Square.


{Pershing Square}

The station is just across the street from Pershing Square so going there via metro is very convenient. You can read my Yelp review for my thoughts on it but I was happy that there was a farmer's market when we decided to go. Killing two birds with one stone! Unfortunately there really wasn't anything to buy at the farmer's market. So we headed north to Angels Flight, which Jinwon had told me about when she participated in the LA version of "Amazing Race." Angels Flight Railway is pretty cool. Where else can you ride a trolley car in LA for 25 cents? My mum and I took it up to Bunker Hill. I don't understand why it's called Bunker Hill. Is it a tribute to the original Bunker Hill in Boston? Anyway, it's a really nice place. Much nicer than Pershing Square. I love the fountain here! We walked around the area--there's MOCA, some nice hotels, a lot of businesses and restaurants--until we decided to head back down to Grand Central Market.


{Angels Flight Railway}

I bought a burrito from Grand Central Market to eat for lunch and then we headed back up to Bunker Hill since my mum didn't want to eat there. This time we took the stairs, since I wasn't going to be going to the gym today. That was a workout! A bit of trivia: these are the stairs that Benjamin McKenzie's character on Southland was running up in the season premiere. You also pass by Angels Knoll on the way up to Bunker Hill, which is a small grassy area with a few benches. Apparently it's a big deal to people who watched (500) Days of Summer but since I'm not one of them, I just walked on by. Don't worry, I will watch it someday. My mum got lasagna from Johnnie's New York Pizzeria (which I ended up splitting with her after eating half of my burrito) and we sat by the fountain and had lunch.

Afterwards we headed to the Bradbury Building. The interior of that building is SO NICE. It blew me away. I want to live there. It's so beautiful. I took a picture with Charlie Chaplin there :)

Since it was only 1:30PM and there was still half an hour before the farmer's market would end, we headed back there. Bought a small bag of kettle corn and a couple veggies and that was it. Then we took the Purple Line back to Union Station and the Gold Line all the way back to Pasadena. We had been out for five hours but it was exhausting. So I crashed when I got home and took a nap. That was nice.

I'm really glad my mum and I did a "tour" of downtown LA today. I can't believe I've lived my whole life here and never knew about these places. I definitely want to go back to Bunker Hill in a couple of months when it's full-bloom spring, I imagine it will be even prettier then.


{With my friend Charlie C}

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tonight I laughed.

I smiled. I frowned. And I laughed some more. I went to The Improv tonight with Jinwon for their show Full Throttle Comedy. From the site page, you would think that Sugar Sammy was the headliner. His video is at the top and below that, under Also Performing, is Michael Kosta and Ari Shaffir. But what did I find out? Sugar Sammy was not the headliner. It was Michael Kosta. Michael is funny, don't get me wrong, but Sugar is hilarious. And he's the reason we went to the show (Jinwon's been a fan of Sugar's for a while now). So you can understand that we were somewhat disappointed when it turned out that Sugar was not our main act. I really enjoyed his performance. He is one funny man. And I love the fact that he is multi-lingual. Michael Kosta and Ari Shaffir were quite funny as well. They all made me laugh. The other comedians mostly made me smile. And I frowned because my food order was wrong and I was not happy. But thanks to Sugar it was a good night.

Today I also went to the gym. I did not go yesterday. It was President's Day! And I ran errands with my mum. And read a book from my childhood. And watched TV. All good reasons to not go to the gym, yes? On Sunday my mum hosted a dinner party at our house for her church group so the past few days were all about cleaning the house. On Wednesday we went through the bookshelves in our family room and organised them. Now my DVDs are all nicely displayed. And we found old picture albums. Of my mum and her family back in the day. It was so interesting looking through them and seeing my grandmother (who I have no memory of) and my aunts and cousins when they were younger! What a blast from the past.

That night I watched Valentine's Day. It's great having low expectations of movies because they never disappoint. So I liked it more than I thought I would. And on Thursday I watched Death Race 2. I was shocked to find out that the Asian guy in the movie was 50 years old. Asians really do age well. I also made more corn muffins to use up my buttermilk before it expires.

Corn Muffins 5

Friday was another interview. That, after the interview, I decided I did not want. That seems to be the story of my life now. But seriously, why would I give up the good life to go to the job that I know I will despise? Not that I would despise this job necessarily, I think I would just have a stroke at some point. But after the interview I got to hang out with Annabel! I went over to drop off some corn muffins and had the good fortune of being in time to see her gymnastics class! It was fun watching her :) Then I went home and made more corn muffins. Stupid large container of buttermilk. This will be my last batch for a while.

On Saturday I treated my mum to breakfast at Carl's Jr. with a coupon I had. I thought their breakfast burrito might be their one saving grace. But no, it was not. Carl's Jr, I will never eat at any of your establishments ever again. You only have yourself to blame. Sunday was church, prepping for the dinner party meeting, and watching TV. I am proud to say I have watched 31 episodes of TV since I last blogged. And yet I'm still behind. What is going on?!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Eel Avocado Roll 2
{Eel Avocado Roll}

Look what my mum made for my lunch today! This was waiting for me when I came back from the gym. Going to the gym (and living at home) has its perks *^^*

So after I made buttermilk biscuits on Saturday, I watched Peter and the Wolf. I am a very visual person so when I heard the song when I was younger, I thought it was really nice but I had a hard time visualising what happened. I figured watching this well-reviewed movie would help. It did. Except the stop motion characters are kind of ugly. But watching the special features (yes, this DVD actually has special features!) made me really respect the people who work in stop motion. They do SO much for just a couple of seconds of screen time. Imagine how much work they had to do for the half hour film--it boggles the mind! I also finished Series 2 of Law & Order: UK which is all Netflix has to offer. Thankfully I have downloaded Series 3 on my computer so I can continue my Jamie Bamber love.

On Sunday my mum and I ran errands in ktown after church and then we went to our mall. She bought me a top that I wanted for Valentine's Day. She is so sweet. On actual Valentine's Day, I went to the gym in the morning and then we ran more errands. Which included coming back to the mall, where I got Hot Dog on a Stick. We also bought some stuff from Borders before it's too late. I don't know if they're going to close down the one in our mall but I know they're closing a couple hundred down now that they're declaring bankruptcy. Sadness.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Annabel!


{Cutting the cake}

Tomorrow my precious Annabel will be turning five! How time has passed--I still remember when she was a little baby! We celebrated her birthday today and the theme was My Little Pony. I am proud to take full credit for this theme. I had bought her a My Little Pony activity/colouring book from Michael's as a present before and I made sure to tell Annabel that I loved My Little Pony when she was younger. And like magic, she requested it for her birthday party! KEKEKE. Unfortunately for her parents party supply stores apparently don't carry My Little Pony so they had to order everything online. Not my fault though! It's easy enough to find presents--Target has an entire section for My Little Pony :D


{My Little Pony!}

The party was a blast. It's always slightly awkward to be the one person at the party without a child, but it wasn't a big deal. It was fun to see all the kids running around and all the parents were really nice. The snacks were great and the cake was delicious. And Annabel was just SO adorable. I love her so much.


{Annabel and Priscilla going down the slide}

I also made buttermilk biscuits today. Yum.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Progress

Like the new Blogger template? It's way past autumn now so I decided I should change it up yesterday. I really like Gisele Jaquenod's designs. They are so cute! I think this template is very clean and refreshing. I hope you feel the same way.

Monday was a day of discovery. I met up with Williana at the Regency Academy Cinemas. How could I have not known about this place sooner? Movies are $2! Well, during the day. At night they're $3. But that's still so cheap! Dude, it's cheaper than what I pay per DVD on Netflix. We watched Love & Other Drugs. I liked it more than I thought I would. Mainly because I'm a fan of Anne Hathaway and her playing someone with Parkinson's tugged at my heartstrings. And because Jake Gyllenhaal has an amazing body! I don't care much for his face but his body is niiice. Williana then introduced me to the Mission Street district in South Pasadena. Most of the crafts shops were closed but we were still able to look at a few places. I got frozen yogurt from Menchie's and a loaf of cheddar garlic bread from Great Harvest Bread Co. Good times. Later that night I also watched Get Him to the Greek. I would be okay with that movie if it wasn't for all the throw-up scenes. Ugh. But something that really irked me is that now the DVD menu actually lists all the special features. But when you click on them, you get a screen telling you that you need to purchase the DVD and that the rental disc doesn't have this particular option. Which is even more annoying than when they just didn't have the special features option on the DVD to begin with. Damn studios.

Cheddar Garlic Bread
{Cheddar Garlic Bread from Great Harvest Bread Co.}

Tuesday was just gym and TV, as usual, but on Wednesday I had an interview! With F.S. I'm too lazy to come up with clever nicknames to fool Big Brother so I'm going for initials. The only good thing to come from the trip was that I am now able to put a face to the name/voice of my temp agency lady. Thursday was another interview somewhere else. I may be too picky, but after I go on these interviews, I don't want the job. Is that horrible? I made literary progress on Thursday: I finished reading Blue Like Jazz! So at the gym I started on another Donald Miller book, Searching for God Knows What. Nothing much to say about today except I went to the gym again and I painted my nails! Something I haven't done in a long time. I bought nail polish from Michael's for $1 when I went there with my mum this past weekend so I finally put it on. It's very obviously cheap. I doubt it's going to last more than a couple of days but I'm happy right now with my bright pink nails.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Apologies, Love, and Prayers

Lately I've been bringing Blue Like Jazz with me to the gym. I can't really read it when I'm on the elliptical--although I did try once, and it worked until I accidentally dropped the book on the floor--but I read it afterwards when I'm on either the recumbent bike or the treadmill. I was inspired after seeing some older people reading while using the bike and decided it was a brilliant way for me to fit in my "daily reading". I bookmarked a couple passages to blog about yesterday because they really spoke to me. I seriously love what Donald Miller says in this book! (as if you haven't been able to tell from all my other blog posts :P)

In one chapter, Donald discusses the metaphors with which we think about relationships. Value, invest, bankrupt, priceless. These are all economic metaphors. This made him realise that we think of love as a commodity; we use it like money. But that's not how it works. God did not create love for us to trade like currency. Instead, as Donald writes, it should be "a free gift metaphor or a magnet metaphor. That is, instead of withholding love to change somebody, I poured it on, lavishly. I hoped that love would work like a magnet, pulling people from the mire and toward healing. I knew this was the way God loved me. God has never withheld love to teach me a lesson." (pg. 220)

I DO THAT. And by that I mean that I judge. I know, I know, we're not supposed to judge, and I try not to, but I can't help it. I do. I don't judge so much by social status symbols (I hope!) but more along the lines of grammar and etiquette and snobby things like that. I use love like money. I don't lavishly pour it on everyone. If you use your when you are supposed to use you're, you can be certain I will withhold my love from you. I am actually pretty stingy with my love now that I think about it. Why?

I AM SO SORRY. I am sorry for all the times I have not treated you with love. I am sorry for all the times I judged you and withheld my love as a result. I am sorry.

The chapter ended with this passage:
"When I am talking to somebody there are always two conversations going on. The first is on the surface; it is about politics or music or whatever it is our mouths are saying. The other is beneath the surface, on the level of the heart, and my heart is either communicating that I like the person I am talking to or I don't. God wants both conversations to be true. That is, we are supposed to speak truth in love. If both conversations are not true, God is not involved in the exchange, we are on our own, and on our own, we will lead people astray. The Bible says that if you talk to somebody with your mouth, and your heart does not love them, that you are like a person standing there smashing two cymbals together. You are only annoying everybody around you. I think that is very beautiful and true.

Now ... when I go to meet somebody, I pray that God will help me feel His love for them. I ask God to make it so both conversations, the one from the mouth and the one from the heart, are true."
(pg 221)

This kind of reminded me of something I learned at church. There are four different types of communication: the actual words that we are expressing, the tonal voice we use to express those words, our facial expressions and our body language. We may say things that sound like they're full of love, but our facial expressions and our body language will reveal our true feelings (at least according to Lie to Me on TV). I want to be someone who is sincere in all ways. I want my surface conversation to match my heart conversation. And I pray that God will make it so.

"And so I have come to understand that strength, inner strength, comes from receiving love as much as it comes from giving it. I think apart from the idea that I am a sinner and God forgives me, this is the greatest lesson I have ever learned. When you get it, it changes you. My friend Julie from Seattle told me that the main prayer she prays for her husband is that he will be able to receive love. And this is the prayer I pray for all my friends because it is the key to happiness. God's love will never change us if we don't accept it." (pg 232)

I pray that I will be able to receive love. I pray that you will be able to receive love. Amen.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Baking Milestones

Guava Swirled Cheesecakes 2
{Guava Swirled Cheesecake}

Guess who finally baked using a water bath? ME! Up until now, I have refused to make cheesecakes (apart from the cookies and cream cheesecakes that didn't require a water bath) and other such goodies because I am terrified of water baths. Terrified. Unfortunately, my stupidity got the better of me. Thinking that since the cookies and cream cheesecakes didn't require one that the raspberry marble cheesecakes wouldn't require it either, I went ahead with my plans to make guava swirled cheesecakes. Things were going well until I hit the part in the instructions where it called for a water bath. OHEMGEE. But have no fear, Esther pulled it off. And all with my mum out of the house. Be proud! She came back and nearly had a heart attack when I told her what I did. So I'm forbidden from doing a water bath on my own because she's convinced next time I'm going to end up burning something. Most likely my feet. Since I was carrying a casserole dish full of boiling water from the kitchen counter to the toaster oven.. while barefoot in the kitchen. Yes I am not smart. But I pulled it off. Although I do have to admit I burned my hand a little. Just an uber mild burn. So it's still a success! But I am somewhat traumatised by the whole thing and will not be attempting another water bath anytime soon.

So that was Monday. Monday was also gym and watching Red. Which had no special features. I understand why studios do that, but I absolutely hate it whenever I get a movie via Netflix and there are no special features. It pisses me off. But I felt better after watching three more episodes of Star in my Heart.

On Tuesday, I was pleasantly surprised by receiving a Kung Fu Panda poster in the mail. I was so confused why anyone would send this to me until I realised it was my thank you gift from Paramount for participating in every one of the stupid online surveys they asked me to. Cool. I also finally went to Co-Op to interview and test with them. And since it was like 10 minutes away from the YF office I stopped by there. Which is why I had made the guava swirled cheesecakes the day before, to give them out. It was interesting to see the changes that had happened since I left. Everyone said I looked much more relaxed :P

On Wednesday I met up with Jinwon for lunch at Jamba Juice. Did you know Jamba Juice offers lunch items? Apart from smoothies? I got their chicken wrap and it was surprisingly good. I used up all of my Jamba Juice gift cards on that and a smoothie and ended up paying 55 cents out of pocket. Success! I then went to the gym.

Thursday was not a good day for my mum. Her car stalled in the morning and she called her daughter to pick her up, except my phone was off. So she had to get AAA to come. Oops. But I accompanied her to Longo Toyota so they could fix her car. And drove her back to work. And then I went over to play with Annabel for what was supposed to be just a couple of hours but turned into four. So I was late to pick up my mum after work and take her back to the dealership which.. was not good. But all's well that ends well, right?

Friday I went to the gym again! Three times this week. Yay me! To reward myself I got In-N-Out for lunch. I had been craving them for a long time so it was so good.

Saturday was more baking! YI was holding a YF BBQ that afternoon so I made corn muffins. For the first time! This week is all about milestones in baking. I made two dozen, which took a long time since I baked six at a time. I went to YI's BBQ and had fun. He always makes so much food. It was great seeing former colleagues and hanging out with them. I stayed for a couple of hours and then headed home. Where I watched TV, as usual.

Today I gave some corn muffins to the praise team and one to Williana. I had only brought 18 to the BBQ and I had a couple left over from that as well. After running errands after church my mum bought me lunch at Young King. We tried the spicy fried shrimp this time with our jjajangmyun and it was DELICIOUS. I love that place so much. ♥