Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Force will be with you, always.

All that lovely sunshine we had last week went away and in came the storm clouds. How do you entertain kids by yourself when it rains like this? Take them to a bookstore, of course. Not just any bookstore - Kinokuniya in Little Tokyo downtown.

This store is amazing. It's packed with the cutest (kawaii) items. I could spend hours in the stationery section alone. In fact when I was there today I was surprised to walk in and see...Star Wars!Oh these things were gorgeous. I asked the lady what they were for, because they were so thin and long - they seemed like wall hangings. But she said people use them as scarves or towels. What.

These towel/scarves were straight from Japan and came in nice small simple packaging, like all Japanese things.

It seemed like they had a bunch of different patterns availiable.

In addition to those I also saw actual scarves - well at least that's what I think they were since they were more pocket square sized:

Check out those patterns. I thought they'd make great material to sew into something else like a small tote.

As I drooled over these things - the kids kept themselves busy in the children's section. I let them use their saved up xmas $ to buy whatever they wanted. Lord. Freedom of choice is bad.They picked out these horrible Power Rangers books. I only say horrible because 1. there's no content and 2. It's all in Japanese. And since we are bad Asians, I have no idea what the books say.

However they do use the books as reference to draw pictures when we all do art together at night, so I'm sorta ok with it. Sorta.

Contrary to the useless books, I noticed the kid was reading this book on how to learn Chinese characters called "The Pet Dragon" by Christoph Niemann. He seemed to pick it up rather quickly. In just a matter of minutes he was rewriting and remembering all the characters. Sometimes I feel like I've given birth to Rainman.

So I grabbed that book too and now the Kid is well on his way to learning Chinese. Interesting. Since we aren't Chinese. Oh well, learning is learning.

We stayed at the store for a several hours. It was hard to leave, I'm not gonna lie. Don't even get me started on the cute bento book section. I could stay there all day.

Weller Court in Little Tokyo
Los Angeles

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Someday you'll find it, the rainbow connection

It's true.
I own a professional shave ice machine.
Of course I do, because I own every kitchen appliance known to man.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Go read a book you illiterate son of a bitch and step up your vocab

It's funny how my bedside reading this week sums me up so completely.

French Cooking.

Yup. That's me in a nutshell.

Jay-Z's Decoded
I need to preface this by saying I am WestCoast4Life, but...I love Jay-Z. I love rap. I listen to it while I write, design and it is a part of my whole creative process. It's emotions and stories and culture. It's important. Plus Tupac is alive and well and you know it.

I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot
A 1000 page guide to French home cooking? Yes, please. Seeing as how I was going to major in French but then chose architecture, and now...cook (odd) - this book was calling me, if not for the gorgeously minimalist 1950's illustrations. I am slowly pouring over

Wolverine and Jubilee
First of all, let me say I think Kathryn Immonen is fantastic, so my mind was made up about buying this title before it was even complete. Secondly - I love Wolverine. Not the comic, not the movie, not Hugh Jackman. No, I love Wolverine - specifically...his fashion sense.

I often joke that if I ever had a tv show/podcast - I would enlist my friend @SarahKuhn to host a show with me purely on Marvel fashion, yet I would probably only talk about Wolverine. Why Sarah? Because she is the only one I know who would LISTEN to me talk about Wolverine's clothes for hours...because she has. Don't get me started.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

You put your weed in it.

I have a new family member. I often wake up and tell it good morning. I also refer to it as the love of my life:

This Le Creuset French Oven arrived via Santa's sleigh this past winter and we have been bff's ever since. It's amazing how fast and precise it is. I knew it was drool worthy but I never realized just how much it would change my life.

It is the perfect vehicle for my Mexican Chicken Soup and many, many other dishes to come. I wish Le Creuset made everything. Couches. Cars. I'd want it all.

Mexican Chicken Soup recipe, here.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Throw your hands in the air, if you's a true player

Here's the thing. When the Food Librarian and I go out, we always have a loose plan. Shopping? How about lunch? Whatever that is, forget it. We always, ALWAYS end up at a bakery. Or two...

On this particularly adventurous day in the dead middle of winter - winter being 70+ degrees for us here in L.A., we were walking down Sawtelle.

Sawtelle Blvd is basically the Westside equivalent for those peeps who don't want to go East on the 10 fwy to Little Tokyo. You should tho, because Downtown is AWESOME.

It is filled with shops and food. Oh...the food. Noodle houses, curry houses, Japanese fried chicken. You will never starve on this street. Out of the corner of her eye - ok, using her PASTRY RADAR, the Food Librarian spotted 'Beard Papa Cafe.' Okie dokie then, you really think we were gonna pass on that??

Inside they had regular Beard Papa's cream puffs, as well as an array of Japanese/French inspired desserts. But it was their variations on the classic Beard Papa's cream puff that I was interested in.

First of all...MINIS.

That is my Pavlovian instinct kicking in, anything mini, give me ten. Fortunately these little cream puffs were 6 for $5, in ANY flavor you wanted.

The flavors for the day were strawberry (no thanks), chocolate and vanilla. Both FL and I were sad, she wanted Green Tea, I wanted Coffee, but we made do in a tough situation. The fun part about Beard Papa's is getting to watch them fill the puffs to order. Mmm...fresh.

Even more interesting was the Paris - Brest (thank you readers). I made the girl repeat it three times. I'm sure she was irritated, but all that mattered were the details: it was a choux, piped into a donut shape, filled with custard. Let me repeat that. A pastry choux, piped into a donut shape, filled with custard. Good. Lord. Inception alert - I think they've raided my dreams.

This amazing little item is ONLY available on Fridays, keep that in mind should you visit during the week.

After plenty of tasting I was as full as a cream puff myself. Still that didn't stop me from bringing a few classic puffs home, as well as Beard Papa keychain form.

**all photos by the Food Librarian

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

After my chedda

(click to biggie size)

Had lunch with O.G. today.
I picked up a Tito's Taco for her, her fave.
Yes, she brought her own cheese.

One taco.
Root beer.
(**strip taken from: O.G. - Road Trippin')

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Brick by brick

The Kid is now 7. How did this happen? Time is supposed to stand still.

When we started talking about a party, ideas were flying. He knows quite well that I am the Queen of Themed Parties and that he is my number one client. Very dangerous.

He is big into LEGOs right now, and needless to say they are all over my house. Of course, the party was to be LEGO themed. Even though it was only a small number of kids he insisted on a pinata, so off we went to my fave pinata place.

I was thinking something over the top and grandiose, like a Star Wars LEGO fig, or something awesome. Nope. The Kid wanted a giant blue LEGO. That's it. End of story. Bo to the ring. So the client got what he wanted and as usual La Pinata Party did an amazing job.

I am not a huge fan of giving the kids a lot of candy, but I did find these super cool LEGO sweet tarts that you can build with and eat!

I also filled the pinata with random toys, fruit chews, as well some very special LEGO minifigs.

As a toy collector I can tell you there is nothing more frustrating then blind box toys, because you never know what you are going to get. You should have heard the groans when some of the boys opened the minifigs only to find the 'girl tennis player'. Haw, sorry kids!

I totally pimped out the food, LEGO style. If someone tells you food is not important at a party - they are wrong. Especially at a kid's party. I've been to MANY, and as a parent - having to stand around eating not-so-good food for hours, just isn't fun.

I went nuts with the themeing as usual, too much to go into here but I will tell you the Kid (I mean the Client) just HAD to have cupcakes with edible LEGO minifig heads. "Come on Mom, I know you can do it." Yeesh. This Kid watches me sketch my ideas a little to closely, but he was right, I could do it.

So I used yellow chocolate. melted it down and piped it, and he got his edible yellow LEGO head cupcakes. You can read all about the food, here.

For the favors I got clear plastic boxes at the Japanese 99 cent store (which has way cooler stuff than an average 99 cent store).

Did you see that giant vase of LEGOS in the middle of the food table?

They sell bags of mixed up LEGOs at the LEGO store, so I bought two random bags to fill the vase, then tossed the whole lot onto the table for the kids to play.

At the end of the party I let them fill their plastic tool boxes with all the LEGOs they could carry.

I also added a little Star Wars Trooper minifig keychain because we can't have a party without Star Wars involved somewhere, as well as a candy connect 4 game for good measure.

In the end I think all the kids had fun, lots to eat and lots and lots of LEGO overload. Whew. Thank goodness it's 364 days until he turns 8...

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Sho'nuff: I AM the Shogun of Harlem!

I find myself downtown many times during the week, whether it's the old Bank District, Little Tokyo or Bunker Hill, I know I can always find amazing places to shop and eat. I think most of Los Angeles residents don't realize how many great things there are to do downtown.

Head up Broadway and you'll find yourself in the heart of Chinatown. Packed with shops and more restaurants than you can imagine, there's lots to see.

True, like many places it could use some fixing up, but things are improving and if you even go further down Broadway at the intersection of Broadway and College - you'll be taken back to the old days, at the East Gate in 'Old Chinatown'.

This place is popular with tourists due brightly painted Chinese architecture and the fact that many things were filmed here, most remember the Chinatown and the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker Rush Hour movie. At night the neon is lit up and the courtyard looks just like a movie set.

But off in the corner behind Wonder Bakery, you'll find the coolest little indie store filled with some of the best artists in L.A.

Flock Shop has been in historic Chinatown since 2007 and they are big supporters of indie artists. Here you can find jewelry, stationery, clothes and my weakness: up and coming artist's prints.

The walls are lined with gorgeous art prints of all sizes and are surprisingly affordable for indie work.

The store is small but filled with fantastic items that seem to change every time you look around, there's so many fun things to see! They do a great job of finding unique artists and items that are truly one of a kind.

And there miiiight be an artist or two that you may recognize. Maybe.

You can't leave Chinatown (at least the Kid can't) without buying a box of 'poppers' - little firecrackers that pop when you thrown them or stomp them.

Seems like they should be illegal, based on the annoying noise alone - but at just $1 for a box of 5, you can't go wrong.

Most people thrown them, pop them, then leave the trash in the street, that's just the way it is. But not my ever green-conscious child, nope. He'd rather die than litter.

He'll pop one, then pick up the tiny trash after each and every one. Keepin' L.A. clean one little cheapy firecracker at a time. Someday that Kid will be Mayor.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Behind the music

Sometimes when I take pics of food for the recipe blog, if the kids are around they become my production coordinators.

It's usually me yelling, "SOMEONE GET ME A BOBA FETT IN HERE." But because I use *their* toys as props, they become insistent that it has to look JUST RIGHT...

Little perfectionists.
I have no idea where they get it from...

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Who's on first?

This isn't even worth illustrating...

O.G.: "This says, '666...'"
Jenn: "The DEVIL!!"
O.G.: "What?"
Jenn: "Satan's number is 666."
O.G.: "Peyton?"
Jenn: "Manning? What?"
O.G.: "Who?"
Jenn: "Forget it."

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I scream, you scream

If you follow me on twitter or facebook, you will find I've been eating a lot of ice cream lately, and I already eat a lot of ice cream so that's saying something. One of my favorite places to go is Scoops. I used to go to the L.A. location owned by Tai Kim, still a great place, if I'm on that side of town, but now - Scoops Westside has opened up, er - on the Westside, obviously.

What makes Scoops so different, and so L.A. is that the flavors are unique, local and in season. The flavors change daily - this is a BIG problem for my kids. This ain't 31 Flavas, once that Oreo Cheesecake runs out, it may not be back for a while. This enrages The Baby.

A single scoop is actually two flavors (confused?) for $2.75. If I'm with the kids I go for the FOUR mini flavors - shown here:

Rice Cheesecake, Cinnamon Cashew, Coconut Thai Iced Tea, Pistachio Poppyseed. Don't let the odd combinations scare you, the choices they make are flavorful, perfect and are amazing in every way.

Ricotta Marsala Oreo, White Chocolate Kahlua, Salted Chocolate, are a few I've tried, but my favorite is on the store's best known: Brown Bread ice cream. It's a Dulce de Leche ice cream, mixed with Grape Nuts cereal and a hint of caramel. Best part, it's almost always in stock - however, Scoops is so popular most flavors sell out before 9pm every night! The store also sells my fave coffee, Intelligentsia. I should just bring a bed and sleep here already, this is heaven.

Perhaps what I like best about the Westside location is that it was opened by a blogger: Matthew Kang of Mattatouille. A food blogger taking a passion to the next level. That's something to be proud of.

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