Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

All is quiet on New Year's day

I am asian only once a year. New Year's Day I do a full blown Oshogatsu - aka Japanese New Year's Day. It's full of tradition and traditional foods and days and days of cooking. For me, I usually make between 20+ dishes all on my own.

I usually don't invite that many people - just people who might get a kick out of ALL the food or miss the tradition of it all, and who certainly don't want to cook it all themselves. Take a look at last year's HERE.

To prep for all this I do A LOT of planning. Timelines, prep and grocery shopping. Oh the shopping. The days leading up to the 1st is madness at the Japanese markets. Everyone wants their food fresh so you HAVE to wait til the last minute. Here's a look at the craziness via cameraphone:

There's stuff everywhere. All the traditional ingredients. At this market there isn't much pre-made food, their shoppers all make everything from scratch, including me.

Rice is such a staple and they've got tons of it. Literally. O.G. always insists that I only buy "NEW CROP" although I can't tell the diff of course.

Only at New Year's do they make the 'oh you fancy huh' kamabokos. Usually it's just boring pink and white, but once a year: Flowers, writing, different colors. It's a kamaboko parade.

Sweet Potato aka Satsumaimo:

Sweet Potato is important because it's the base for kurikinton, which is supposed to bring you WEALTH in the New Year if you eat it. Who couldn't use a little more cashmoney now and again.

Here's a look at what I don't buy - sashimi.
I wasn't joking when I said we are bad asians, we just don't eat raw fish. Tacos yes, sushi no. And thank goodness. Look at the the price of this:

$25 a pound. Yes this is high quality stuff, but I surely can't afford to feed peeps a $75 cut of fish. But other people were buying it like crazy. Thank goodness I take a pass on this ingredient.

Sorry, that's another thing I don't make. You see people stacking up this crazy dirty log looking things in their carts like it's going out of style, all to make their Gobo from scratch - I either make my mom bring it or I just buy it pre-made frozen. I need to draw the line somewhere.

Well you saw I just attended a mochifest to make fresh mochi, but for those who don't - you can just buy it premade in bags, and bags...and bags...

I was the third person in the store and when I turned around, I WAS SURROUNDED. It was a total madhouse. Old people jostling for space like it was the kamaboko apocalypse.

People prep and cook for three days leading up to New Year's so shopping is no joke. And this is just my FIRST stop. I have two more markets to go...

A look back at New Year's 2010, HERE.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Our house it has a crowd, there's always something happening and it's usually quite loud

It's almost time for my crazy over the top New Year's Day party, so I have to get prepared.

Every year I go to the Food Librarian's family mochi making party to pick up fresh mochi. I do my part to help out with the mochi making...

...but let's face it - parties are all about the food.

In traditional L.A. Japanese- American fashion, the food is mostly...Mexican. Enchiladas, burritos, usually tamales - that's how we roll.

There were a TON of other items of course but hey, I likez the carbs:

Another Japanese-American tradition, never go to a place you've been invited to without bringing something. So I made everyone's favorite red velvet cupcakes and I decided to put in a little time and effort for something extra:

Yup. A Mochi Factory made out of gingerbread. I put waaaaay too much time into planning this thing out but what else do I have to do besides sit around and eat carbs?

For all the mochi fest details go HERE.
And for all the plans, elevations, construction details on the gingerbread house, go HERE.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

He who must not be named

Christmas was good.

For four hours straight I ate.

For four hours straight the Kid sat and put together his brand new Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle...

1290 pieces later...a masterpiece. Kudos to my 6 year old Lego genius. May you only use your powers for good.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Mister postman look and see, if there's a letter in your bag for me

Christmas is no longer important. Ok, wait. What I mean is, Christmas is not a big deal anymore. Hm. What I'm trying to say is, Christmas used to be a huge event. Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays, but things have changed. I don't know if I'm getting older or the holiday itself has become something different over time. I'm sure most of it has to do with the fact that there won't be as many family members all in one place this year, so Christmas has taken on an 'eh'.

O.G. has come to a decision regarding Christmas for her and me...and that is to just do whatever we want, and whoever is there, is there and whatever happens, happens. That's a nice way of glossing over the negative. But it's a nice way of dealing with life too. Things haven't been easy lately and going with the flow has become a necessity.

It doesn't mean I can't have a little bit of fun tho - I got her the GREATEST PRESENT IN THE HISTORY OF PRESENTS. Well, not really, but I thought they were pretty swell. I never thought much of those 'put your kids picture on postage and then mail it'...stamps, but then when I realized I could put her O.G. cartoon face on it, well! That. Changes. Everything.

O.G. is an avid stamp collector, see. So a very cool personalized present, for the woman who has saved my life on many an occasion. Here's to you old lady. Well, until the stamp price goes up, then this gift is pretty lame.

Custom Stamps from

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ferris: The place is like a museum. It's very beautiful and very cold, and you're not allowed to touch anything.

For a long time, I have been collecting pieces of art from a few of my favorite indie artists. Sure, I'm prone to quirky, Disney-esque art, bears with guns, etc. But I've finally been able to put them all together in a small gallery form... my guest bathroom.

Hey, it's the best showcase since it's a room everyone visits eventually.

Art of Ben Walker can be found here.

Brittney Lee illustration can be found here.

Punchbowl and Serpenthes prints can be found at the Local Collection in the Glendale Galleria.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rain, rain go away

Thanks to my homie Tricia, I saw the front page of the L.A. Times this morning and I just had to see it for myself. Polliwog Park was underwater. Seeing as how this park is up the street from my favorite comic book shop, my kids have played there quite often.

Los Angeles has been having ridiculous amounts of rain, more than I can ever remember, but I never realized just how much until today. So I drove out to there to take a look. Look at how dark the skies are - that's only at 10am!
The park was...a lake. I mean, there was already a lake there but it was about 15 feet down from the street - now, the park is nothing BUT lake.

That right the TOP of the kids swing set. Yikes. And at the rate this rain is going, I think the tops of those trees will be goners by nightfall.
I wasn't the only crazy person out looky-looing, the whole beach community from the north to the south of Los Angeles just 'had to see it for themselves'. Nothing like a natural disaster to bring us all together.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Here is the house where it all happens

While the kids are off at school, it's time to sit back, relax and...rummage through all their stuff and throw it away! Whee!

With the holidays and back to back birthdays coming, I need to purge. Out with the old toys to make room for the new. After throwing away FOUR bags of junk, I reorganized things in the house that the kids use on a daily basis.

The Cosplay Station
Yep, my kids dress up. EVERY. DAY. I never have a problem with them getting hats and things because they always put them to use. In the end we have enough for an entire costume shop of masks, shields, swords, hats, outfits and of course lightsabers of every shape and size. On any given day the Baby may be eating breakfast dressed as Darth Vader or Iron Man. You just never know.

The Lego Station
For sure this is alllll the Kid. He will build things from the minute he gets up until bedtime. Yes, we have enough Legos to fill THREE giant drawers (mostly Star Wars), and I didn't buy any of it, you can thank the grandparents for that one.

Let us not forget Uncle Paul's totally awesome HULK infographic, a must for any living room. I suspect our chimney will be stuffed with even more Legos this coming xmas...

The Art Station
This one is my fave of course, because I make sure that the kids do an art project every day. We have a lot of supplies, most of which are left over from my college days.

This is what I call the 'Less than Zero' doll, or Tony Stark to you young'uns:

Every morning I find him a different yoga-type position eyeing me funny. I suspect I'll find a place for him eventually. But for now, I'm done with the organizing. Whew.


Thursday, December 16, 2010


"Is it Christmas yet? Is it Christmas yet? How about now? Is it Christmas yet?" Why, oh why did I want these kids to learn how to talk?

I get it, the anticipation of it, it's not coming fast enough - but man, I've been looking at xmas items at Target since October so forgive me for being a little over it.

So I decided to make my own advent calendar. Yes you can just go buy them on the cheap and there's chocolate inside, but it seems sugar just may add fuel to the 'IS IT TIME YET OMG' Instead I made one for the kids that has doors opening to their absolute fave geeky pop culture characters. I'm raising my kids on the universal religion of Star Wars, don't you know.

To start, I printed out different boxes with countdown of numbers, 12 days to xmas. I cut THREE sides, top, right and bottom:

and then SCORED the fourth (left) side with a bone folder:

Then I printed a similar sheet of just images that fit right behind the back:
I double stick taped the image sheet to the 'door' sheet and here's where the fun comes in:

Christmas is not complete without BATMAN.

The Baby's all time favorite Huntress. Don't ask.

I just thought Wolverine freakin' the heck out would be a nice Christmas surprise behind door number 10.

Finally, our old friend Bully behind door number 6. He encourages us to read and be better people.

The kids get a kick of seeing what's behind each door everyday. If you want to print your own sheet of advent doors, I've loaded the pdf up here. Happy holidays!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Can't stop now, don't ya know, I'm never gonna let you go

Things are crazy around here, I can't wait til December 25 so I can catch my breath. On the recipe blog I am currently counting down towards xmas with the 12 days of cookies! Stop by every day for favorite cookie recipe!

Even though I'm counting down cookies, this year I decided to make Cookie Cupcakes. I packed some up along with personalized stationery for the kid's teachers and also mailed some out to a few peeps. They are sturdy and should arrive intact. Yes, I have a professional sealer. That's how I roll.

All your countdown cookie action can be found, HERE.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

We hate it when our friends become successful

It's that time of year, time for...a gift guide! I will put a disclaimer on this saying that all of these people are my friends. Nothing makes me happier than supporting indie artists and I am very lucky to know such talented people.

I know Target's prices are awfully low (says me, the Crazy Coupon Lady) but for a unique amazing gift, please - buy indie this holiday season!

Bonnin Designs - Pet Portraits (info here)
I don't have pets, but my friends who do...LOVE THEM like no other. I can understand. Shari does these amazing pet portraits using your very own photos on painted wrapped canvas. A true work of art to honor your furry bff.

Cool Jerk (info here)
Paul Horn writes the web/print comic Cool Jerk. It's a hilarious read full of great characters, and he truly a very talented artist. You can buy the whole collection of books online (here), but I have to say I'm partial to the 'JERK' shirt, because damn if that isn't the funniest thing.

Beastlies (info here)
My partner in crime for four just days out of the year, Leslie and I have sat next to each other at SDCC for years. I have watched her make these little creatures and it takes true talent and patience. There is no better gift than a hand sculpted tiny piece of art. These sell out as quickly as she puts them up, so keep an eye out...

Conduct Happiness (info here)
Joe is another great artist who I see every year at SDCC - and their 'Pea' stuff ALWAYS is a top seller. Adorable shirts and baby clothes, but now they have a book about...peeing. Dear lord, they've stolen my heart. It even comes with a potty training chart!!

Lil Sprinkles
(info here)
The Lil Sprinkles sisters are blowing up, ya'll. Soon they'll be too popular to talk to me because they were just featured in InStyle magazine! They're custom dolls are adorable and make perfect gifts. They are no longer taking custom orders for the season, but they might have a few dolls left - check for shop updates...

Plastique (info here)
I love that these tiny little works of art can bring me so much joy when I look down at my hands. Perfectly carved pieces of words, cityscapes, art - you name it. All at a GREAT price point. You better hurry though, she's closing up shop soon for the holidays!!

The Art of Ben Walker (info here)
I have to tell you, my friends and I - we are BIG Ben Walker fans. Of the man and the clothing. I have a bunch of his art, but it's his shirts that are super comfy and so unique. Everytime I wear one I'm always asked where I got it. He recently launched his t-shirt line: Snake Oil Clothing. Just look at these convincing models - how can you NOT buy one??

justJENN designs (info here)
Ok fine, it's me. But I will tell you my big seller this time a year is personalized stationery. ESPECIALLY for those of you with friends with oddly spelled know who you are...

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Unique L.A. this weekend!

This weekend is the big show - Unique L.A. at the Penthouse at the California Market Center!

Two days, Saturday December 11 & Sunday the 12, 11am to 6pm - there will be djs, door prizes and food and all the best indie designers from around Los Angeles. $10 admission at the door, kids 12 and under are free. Not to mention, the Artisnal L.A. pop up shop will be right around the corner. Hello, foodies!!

I will be there with stationery, pins and holiday gifts at booth 159 - stop by and say hi and SHOP LOCAL for the holidays!!

all the info, here.

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