Thursday, August 30, 2012

Exciting news!

I have some exciting news, I'm a semi-finalist in the Ghirardelli Chocolate Bake Off! I have a lot of great memories going to Ghirardelli Square, eating ice cream sundaes, unwrapping those familiar little chocolate squares, so I'm really excited!

I'll be in San Francisco for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival when they taste our treats and announce the winner! Here's to hoping my recipe wins the judges over!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

King's Hawaiian food truck luau!

Last week King's Hawaiian held a private blogger event and they did it with aloha style! When we arrived we were given fresh flower leis and greeted by the Taira family, who have run the company for the past three generations.
They gave us a tour of the factory (recap here) and afterward they held a special luau...a food truck luau! The back area was reserved for a private food truck event just for us! All you care to eat food from the best food trucks in LA!
King's Hawaiian hired the Kogi truck, Buttermilk Truck, Ludo Truck and Lobsta Truck! Each truck took King's Hawaiian as their inspiration and made special dishes highlighting King's Hawaiian bread!


Kogi offered up their fabulous sliders on King's Hawaiian rolls. I had the Kogi short rib, my favorite!

Buttermilk Truck in true breakfast fashion, served up Cinnamon French Toast Sticks that was made with King's Hawaiian's own original round sweet bread.


I love fried chicken and always try to hunt down the Ludo truck when it's around town. Their Buttermilk Fried Chicken never disappoints but this time I got to try the Honey Garlic wings served with a side of King's Hawaiian rolls and I think I'm hooked!

The Taira family had a little Tailgate party area grilling up burgers and hot dogs on their new hamburger and hot dog bun products.

Lobsta rolls and Crab rolls were rollin' out of the Lobsta truck on King's Hawaiian hot dog buns. A sweet seafood treat!
No luau is complete without dessert and King's Hawaiian does it best. The bakery is Torrance is one of my favorite places for a sweet treat and the head pastry chef came by and laid out the biggest and best King's Hawaiian dessert buffet ever! White chocolate bread pudding, dobash cake, cupcakes parfaits, they had it all.
Right away my eyes zeroed in on my favorite King's Hawaiian dessert the Kona Coffee Creme Brulee.

The blogging community is a small world and I ran into a lot of online friends at the event. It truly was like an ohana celebration with old blogging buddies mixed in with new King's Hawaiian friends. At the end of it all King's Hawaiian sent us all home with a HUGE box of all of their products. It was a day filled with inspiration, fun and lots of great food!

King's Hawaiian Bakery
2808 W. Sepulveda Blvd
Torrance, CA  90505

*King's Hawaiian invited me on a tour and provided me with product. I received no monetary compensation and all opinions are my own.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Etsy love

Like many people I have taken to pinterest with wild abandon. I especially enjoy putting together 'outfits' for my dream closet. And while some things are pinned never to be looked at again usually due to price (um, $5000 YSL jacket, no) many things I've found lead to actual indie stores on etsy.

These items are affordable and made by local entrepreneurs that have a great sense of style. As with most etsy stores there's a limited run, so you have to check back repeatedly which is bad because new amazing things always seem to keep popping up. sigh. My pinterest board sags under the weight of fabulousness.
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LeeLee's Accessories
http://www.etsy.com/shop/leeleeaccessories

This has been the summer of hats for me. I adore them! These fedora hats from LeeLee's Accessories are cute and affordable. There's also a variety of jewelry with new styles going up all the time.
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Homako
http://www.etsy.com/shop/HOMAKO

HOMAKO is one of my favorite etsy stores, I've been shopping from her for years and always gotten compliments. I especially love her hand felted necklaces. 
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Paulina Carcach
http://www.etsy.com/shop/paulinacarcach#

I love purses, I have way too many in my closet. Perhaps because no matter what size you are if you have the right bag you feel totally and completely put together. These Paulina Carcach bags are gorgeous and pretty affordable. Also you can design a bag yourself and she'll hand make it for you!
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Galisfly
www.etsy.com/shop/galisfly

For some reason lately I am in love with these 'above the knuckle' rings. They are pretty and subtle and just add a tiny touch of bling. Galisfly has a bunch of different styles in sets of 2s and 3s for well under $20.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Paranorman

I was invited to a private screening of Paranorman, the new animated zombie comedy. The kids were very excited for this movie - it was me who had some trepidation. I'm scared of zombies you see...no, really scared. And while this is an animated film I was still slightly freaked. Luckily this movie alleviated some of my fears and possibly helped me through my zombie paranoia.

Paranorman is a story about a boy named Norman Babcock who is able to speak with the dead, but when Norman finds out about a historical secret from his crazy Uncle, he realizes that he is the only one who can save the town from destruction.

Along Norman's journey he encounters fantastic characters many of whom join him on his quest. The cast reminded me of the old Scooby Doo gang (with a literal nod in the movie) and the other Scooby gang - the ones who also battled against dark forces: Buffy and the Scoobies.
The cast of characters is so enchanting it thankfully lightened up the horror of the movie. You can tell that the writers really knew their genre because there were some very distinct scenes reminiscent of classic horror movies. At one point both the Baby and I were staring wide eyed at the screen, frightened about what was going to happen next when the Kid leaned over and said casually, "Eh. It's gonna be ok." Hm. Well, the 8 year old was fine obviously. I would definitely say that at 6 years old the Baby was just a touch too young for the scary scenes. Perhaps I'm too 'young' for them too. Ahem.

Paranorman is a stop-motion animated film much like Laika and Focus Features previous film, Coraline. Figures are moved and shot in a series of frames to give the illusion of movement. Stop motion reminds me of my childhood and is one of my favorite animation techinques, it gives real life and emotion to the characters.

Paranorman had fantastic laugh out loud moments, to the point where the whole theater was actually shaking from everyone laughing so hard but the movie definitely takes a dark turn at the end. It was a hilarious, twisting, turning, cover your eyes, roller coaster of a movie. A fun spooktacular time!

Paranorman is rated PG and is in theaters nationwide, now.

*Laika and Focus Pictures invited me to a screening of the movie with no monetary compensation. All opinions and reviews are my own.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rice ball wrappers

Have you ever wondered how they make those perfectly wrapped onigiri rice balls that they sell in stores? Sure I make them at home all the time, but these look like they are made by some fancy robot...or are they?

Well I found these fanciful wraps at the store now and they are SO MUCH FUN! You put the rice right on the plastic (weird, I know) then roll it into a perfect triangle, seal it, and when you pull the tab the plastic falls away and the nori magically wraps itself onto the rice. Genius! Are these little wrappers necessary? Of course not! But they sure are fun!

I took pics of the Kid wrapping up his snack and made a gif:


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Adventure Time

When I was a kid I always wrote thank you notes and I wanted to make sure my kids knew how important it was to be thankful too. Instead of a boring, 'thanks for ______' which is still a good card (if I do say so myself) I like to challenge my kids to make them more personal.

When they get a gift that's not for a birthday or holiday, but just because - I tell them about the person who gave them the present. Why they received the gift, what the person who gave it to them likes, that sort of thing.

My friend Christine gave the boys an amazing present out of the blue for no reason and I wanted to make sure they thanked her for being so kind. I told the Kid that she loves Adventure Time, plus we are big Pen Ward fans around here, so he decided to draw her a picture.
Back in the day when I wanted to draw a duplicate of a cartoon I loved I had to go get a blank vhs tape, stick it in, hit play+record, and then rewind to just the right frame, pause and then try and recreate the image while staring at a slightly blurred screen. Whew. The old days were hard work.

Nowadays my kids just google what they want and on a kindle, phone or iPad they get a hi res image in 5 seconds. Yeesh! Welcome to the future!
So that's what the Kid did, he searched and found the image he wanted. Eyeballed a quick pencil sketch, outlined in pen, then colored it in and after about 20 mins he had his complete Adventure Time drawing.

Thank you, Aunt Chrissy!

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Power Rangers Morphicon 2012

This weekend is Morphicon a convention for Power Rangers fans! The convention was held in Pasadena and full of panels, vendors and displays. It was real fan event which was nice.

Power Rangers was originally produced by Saban which used footage from the Japanese Super Sentai series, the show gained popularity, was sold to Disney in the early 2000s until Saban bought it back and has been a mainstay of American television for 20 years. 

My kids love Power Rangers and I'm all about encouraging them, whatever their interests (within reason). To me, fandom is a special thing and if something means that much to you then we should experience it full force. So a Power Rangers convention in our own backyard? Our weekend was set.

When you arrived you were greeted by "Big Red" the giant Red Ranger statue from Shout Factory that debuted at Comic Con. Take a look at this cool time lapse video of his assembly! Shout Factory was selling the complete Power Rangers dvd at their booth and giving out cool retro Silly Putty eggs too!

I like conventions that are focused on one particular genre or group because the fans are crazy devoted! The vendor room was full of very cool displays from the shows, old toys and new, and a lot of celebrities from the show.
This con is great because they catered to fans. Lots of signings and a bunch of giveaways. The kids had swag for days and it was so nice to see that vendors who came from as far away as Japan handed out free things and discounts.

 Typical, all the kids gravitated towards the toy area. The people running it were so kind and very accommodating. Let's face it, kids want to TOUCH things and play with them, and at this convention there was no stopping them, play all you want! 

Seeing as how Power Rangers has been on the air for 20+ years with a huge library of different series it was interesting to see how the fandom spanned a variety of ages. There were long time Super Sentai fans and even the littlest of cosplaying Power Rangers showing their PR Samurai love.




 The kids favorite part was the Red Ranger 'flash mob'. It was basically the tv show come to life, as the monsters appeared and then a ton of Red Rangers came out to battle them. There was (fake) fighting, flips and a whole lot of choreography. We were in the 'kick zone' as in you might be kicked in the face. Lovely. The kids loved it and The Baby kept clapping long after it was over.

 As for the panels there was so much to see there too from behind the scenes production to a panel devoted to fan faves Bulk & Skull. They also gave a quick lesson in physical comedy which lead to a very long pie fight!

One of the highlights was seeing the Power Rangers Samurai cast talk about their experiences on the show. PRS and Power Rangers Super Samurai are the 18th and 19th seasons of this franchise, also marking Saban's buy back of the show from Disney. The cast talked about how certain episodes were filmed and gave some real behind the scenes info out to the rabid fans.

That panel culminated in the introduction of the new cast of Power Rangers Megaforce, the 20th anniversary of the franchise. The cast appeared together for the first time in full costume, walking out with their helmets and the crowd went wild.

20 seasons and the Power Rangers fan devotion is still going strong. I know my kids will be watching Power Rangers for many years to come.

Morphicon goes through today at the Pasadena Convention Center.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Young Justice: Dangerous Secrets

Young Justice is back and the Season 1, Part 2 dvd 'Dangerous Secrets' is jam packed with action! The powers that be realized that we need more episodes at a time to fulfill our Young Justice needs and have released 14 episodes in a 2 disc dvd package!

All of our favorite characters are back: Robin, Superboy, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Miss Martian and Artemis! Once again the heroes must keep it together and work together as a team.

In the episode 'Revelation' we are introduced to the Injustice League and in true comics fashion, there is always a twist and things are not as they seem. The mainstay of any superhero story are the bad guys and we get a great intro to some beloved comics super villains.


During the episode 'Failsafe' the young heroes are put to the ultimate test when they are put to the ultimate test. What I like about these episodes in particular is that they are forced to come together and really work together as a team, something that isn't easy in a superhero world, let alone real life.

These 14 episodes are packed with questions, betrayal and a roller coaster of emotions culminating with a reveal at the season's end that you won't want to miss.

Although my kids might be a little young for the targeted demographic, Young Justice remains one of their favorite shows. The fantastic storytelling and impeccable voice work brings the characters to life and let's face it, anytime superheroes rally together to fight crime you can't stop watching!

You can buy Young Justice: Dangerous Secrets online at the Wbshop.com

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trolling for sandwiches

I just returned from Seattle where I spent the weekend at Geek Girl Con. It was fantastic, one of my favorite cons but mostly because I get to spend time with my friends. While there were many, many...many meals, one of my faves was spent with my good friends Christy & Sarah. It was like a mini road trip, a hunt for a troll and the search for the best sandwich of all time....

What I loved about last year's Geek Girl Con was the location was much more rural. More trees, more mist, more of that Seattle feeling in general. The new convention location lacked that so it was nice to see trees and nature and things on the road that reminded me that we were really in Seattle.

In the middle of our journey we got lost. Several times. When you pass the same tree four times, you really notice, hey, they don't all look the same. At one point this may have happened too (minus the makeout):


We were headed to Fremont to find the Fremont Troll that lived under the bridge. I don't think I was quite prepared for what I was about to see, but Christy wasn't kidding, this troll looked REAL.

We drove by to find parking and I did a double take. A large carved piece of art positioned under the George Washington Memorial Bridge, it is 18 feet high and 13,000 pounds. He's actually clutching a real Volkswagon bug though you can't see it much anymore.

The Troll sculpture was full of whimsy and was especially fun to see kids trying to 'pick his nose.' It truly was under a bridge and right in the heart of a neighborhood. However I don't think I'd want to live across the street all day and night.
Next stop to find the world's greatest Sandwich. Paseo is a tiny Caribbean Restaurant that was just a short way from the Troll. Christy said she had dreams about this sandwich, that's how good it was. Hm.

When we got to the Fremont location (quite a bit before closing) there was a hand-written sign that said "All sandwiches sold out." What? By this point hours had gone by and we were starving but undeterred we headed to the second Paseo location in Ballard. This had better be the best sandwich ever.

When we arrived there were no signs of being sold out, just a lot of surfers coming in fro

m a long day in the waves. Christy swears by the Tofu Sandwich but we went for the *most popular*.

Here's the description:  
Caribbean Roast *MOST POPULAR* Pork shoulder coated in Paseo Marinade & slow roasted 'til falling into succulent morsels. All sandwiches are on a lightly toasted baguette slathered with aioli (seasoned mayo) , fresh cilantro, pickled jalapeƱos, crisp romaine lettuce & crowned with caramelized onions.

 I don't know how to tell you this, but this actually WAS the best sandwich ever. The description doesn't do it justice and I don't think I can either. 12 inches of crusty bread, juicy from the perfectly cooked pork and savory aioli - when I close my eyes I DO dream about it. Christy was right.

Hours of driving, freeway screaming,  a scary troll, all lead up to an amazing memorable sandwich and the best part was it was shared with good friends. Road trip, anyone?

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Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Disney invited me to a screening of The Odd Life of Timothy Green. It's a magical story of a couple who yearns to start a family but can only dream of what their child will be like. There are so many touching moments, it's a comedy and a drama, swinging back and forth from whimsical to heartbreaking.

Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton play the Greens, a couple living in a small town whose one wish to have a child. When their wish comes true and Timothy magically appears in their lives you get to see all aspects of parenting from wanting the best for your child, to worrying about their future to epic failures.

Set in the fictitious town of Stanleyville where the city's main work is funded by a downtrodden pencil factory, we watch as Timothy (played by CJ Adams) shines and his positive outlook brings life back into the struggling town and it's inhabitants.

Every character in this film is relatable from the over the top perfect sibling to the mean bosses at work. What I found so hilarious was the casting of Ron Livingston as the horrible boss, if you remember his character from Office Space - it was a crack up to see him come full circle.


This movie is for anyone who has a kid or was a kid, anyone who is a parent or has a parent. I watched it with my two boys, my mom and my cousin and seeing it as a family was great because we all had different points of view. My boys, who are 6 and 8 years old really enjoyed it. They loved the story and they really felt a bond with the character of Timothy, who had to fit in but stay true to himself as well.

Home and family were major themes in the movie and I admit I spent a lot of the movie crying, not only from the painfully heart wrenching parts but the joyous scenes as well. The movie is magical, in the same way classics like E.T. and Big brought our imaginations to life on the big screen. It's a wonderful family movie about struggle and hope, a story for everyone because it's a story about love.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green will be in theaters on August 15.

*Disney invited me to a screening of the movie with no monetary compensation. All opinions and reviews are my own.

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Sunday, August 05, 2012

DIY Thanos hoodie

My friend Amy hosts geek girl craft days. We paint, glitter, decoupage and sew - all with a geeky slant. It's always a lot of fun and was even featured on the Today Show blog!

This time I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I got this amazing Marvel comics Thanos shirt from welovefine.com Thanos is big right now - I won't say why for spoiler reasons, but let's just say he's going to be a movie star soon. ~wink wink~ I think I'm a Thanos fan because of the Infinity Gauntlet, I love me some *bling*.
I started half the project at home (which involved cutting and ironing) and finished off the rest at the party.

I got a cheap but sturdy black hoodie from Old Navy for $12. After some planning the image seemed naturally round, so I thought a circle on the front of the hoodie with the zipper going through it would look the best.

Fusible double sided interfacing is helpful because it makes appliques easy to position and stay put. Both sides are sticky and have paper backings.

I cut off and discarded the back of the shirt then I peeled off one side of the paper backing and ironed the interfacing to the wrong side (the back of the image) of the shirt.
Because I'm a total professional (not) for a template I used the Kid's toy shield. Hey, I needed a perfect 15" round circle, what can I say.
Using Tailor's Chalk I outlined the circle over the image, then cut out the circle.

This left me with the image in a circle, backed with interfacing that still had it's paper backing.
Seeing as how the zipper was going to go straight through the image I cut the circle in half so I'd have two sides.

Peeling the second paper off the back, I positioned the two sides of the circular image into place.

Then I lightly ironed it to stick it onto the hoodie. (Note: I put a light towel over the image so that I wasn't ironing directly on the design.)
To increase the *bling* factor even more, I used twisted black-gold thread to sew an outline the around the circle. Now I admit, I have a high-end sewing machine which allows me to do over 40 different stiches with the touch of a button. So I used a nice finishing stich to outline the circle and the gold thread really came shining through, but a regular straight stich or zig-zag will work just as well.

I used plain black thread and sewed down the image on the zipper edge just to make the whole thing clean.
Just like that, I had my Thanos hoodie! The whole process took under and hour and as you can see I didn't even use a pattern. This is a great way to mod shirts that are the wrong size or that you just can't part with.

I could have gone one step further with the *bling* and added real stones for the Soul Gems, but let's not get crazy. As Coco Chanel once said, "When accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on." I'm pretty sure she was talking about Thanos when she said that.

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Friday, August 03, 2012

Yamashiro Farmer's Market

During the summer months, high up in the Hollywood Hills, the Yamashiro Farmer's Market has been going strong for three years. It runs every Thursday night and only now did I finally get around to going.

I love Los Angeles so much and a summer evening, with music, food and this view:
...now I wonder why I've been wasting my life for three years.

The market is up in the hills next to the Yamashiro restaurant. The road is tight and hard to get through. Luckily the market provides free (!) shuttle service from the valet parking area down on La Brea! Fantastic for people like me who drive all week and need a break. However you must get there early. The market opens at 5 but by 7pm it's darn near packed and the line to get the shuttle is long.

I met the Food Librarian there after work. We love to eat together and also she took all my pictures for this post since I take pics all week, I needed a break. Do you sense a theme here? I need a vacation.
There were a few fruit and veggie stands as well as a lot of local merchants, but since I get most of my produce at various farmers markets during the week, I was here to concentrate on the dinner food. There was a good mix of stands and food trucks.

For our 'appetizer' er, first meal - we had chicken, pork and beef skewers from Takken. They grill everything in front of you and it smells amazing. They also had sweet Japanese corn on the cob and Barley Tea.
Next up we had sliders from Yamashiro. After all this was their farmer's market, we had to try their food!

These sliders were fantastic! The crab slider was filled with a good amount of fresh crab and fresh corn and the carnitas slider was DELICIOUS. The sliders came with potato chips and my favorite part, there was a homemade pickle bar where you could load up. Just the right compliment to the savory sliders.
We took a break between courses and sat and people watched. Summer weather was incredibly mild which made the evening even more enjoyable.

The market filled up pretty quickly. There were people who just got off work, to families and celebrities. Many people brought bottles of wine with them to complete their outdoor dining experience.

Finally it was time for dessert! I've been wanting to try the Coolhaus truck, after all they are architects with a passion for ice cream. My soulmates! And since the Food Librarian and I had 'shared' all the other items, I definitely had room for something sweet.
There's a choice of cookie and ice cream to pair it with, and it comes with an edible (yes) wrapper. The Food Librarian got a snickerdoodle cookie with a strawberry mojito sorbet. Ah, the flavors of summer.

While I had a hard time looking away from the fried chicken and waffles ice cream - the lure of a potato chip + Skor cookie was too much and I filled it with plain vanilla so that I could get the full flavor of the cookie.
The ice cream sandwiches were just what was needed to finish off the evening. Looking out over Los Angeles, the Yamashiro market is why living in LA so wonderful. Good friends, PERFECT weather and amazing food. I would love to visit every week but time's running out, the market ends next month then it's gone until next year...

Yamashiro Farmer's Market
Thursdays - April thru September
5-9pm
Parking and shuttle at the lot on La Brea and Hollywood

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