Lobster Festival

16 Sep

Karl and I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon hanging out at the Port of Los Angeles with Arianna, her hubby Steve, and a couple of their friends. The event? Lobster Festival 2012. We missed it two years ago because it was around the same time we moved to our new place so I’m glad we were able to come.

We all decided to meet at 4:30pm when it got a little cooler. Traffic was heavy when we arrived, and ¬†we had to drive to a designated parking place more than ten blocks away from the port. But it didn’t take us long to find a parking along 22nd Street. We walked crossed the street toward the bus stop where shuttles were transporting people to and from the event. Pretty clever of them to use school buses. I was impressed at how organized everything was.

Although parking was free, we had to pay a $10 admission fee. It was easy to spot Arianna with her salmon dress and red lobster hat already standing in line for her lobster meal. We snuck in line, which was moving pretty fast, and before we knew it we had a large juicy lobster on our plate with slices of lemon, butter, and a side of coleslaw salad and potatoes. All that food for only $19. What a deal!

Good thing they had large tents set up where people could eat in the shade away from the blistering heat of the sun, otherwise, it would’ve been torture. The temperature had risen to about 103f. Eating lobster is incredibly messy, but fun at the same time. Arianna’s hubby took some videos of her for her blog via a Flip cam. (I learned from them that Flip had recently gone bankrupt and no longer exists. Ours got chewed up by Miles two Christmases ago.)

Not satisfied with his lobster, Karl moved on to Cajun Chicken Sausage in a French Roll. Talk about an appetite.

Only $19 for the entire plate.

The lobster wasn’t enough…

Refreshing pina colada with cherries and whipped cream. Plus, free refills!

Just hanging out and listening to a live band performing.

Time to go home.

Karl’s 34th Birthday

21 Jan

My luvey turns 34 today. We are six years apart, but I’ve never felt the age difference. Well…except when he spoils me.

After Karl’s proposal last night, I wanted to come up with a clever response for his birthday. Since he had presented my ring in the form of a dessert, I thought it would make most sense to do something similar. Originally I had thought about getting him a dozen of Sprinkles cupcakes customized with the word ‘yes’ on three cupcakes. You see, I was in total shock when it happened and the moment went by so fast I felt compelled to say yes all over again. Unfortunately, I found myself working the entire day with very little time to spare before meeting up with his parents for dinner. Sprinkles only has two locations in Southern California (Newport Beach and Beverly Hills), and I didn’t want to risk being late for dinner. I decided to try my luck at my favorite Korean bakeshop close to our place. As soon as I saw the heart-shaped Black Tea cake on their display, I knew that was it. Problem was they couldn’t customize it for me. Good thing there was a Ralph’s next door. I went straight to their baking section and found a sheet of candy-coated numbers and letters, which were the perfect size. I decided to add the letters Y-E-S in the parking lot because I didn’t want Karl to see my little surprise. A old couple, who had parked beside me, laughed when they saw what I was doing.

We picked up his parents at their house and left the cake there for dessert time. We had Karl’s birthday dinner at Gatten Sushi in Rownland Heights. Karl’s parents know how much we love sushi and treated us to this revolving sushi bar. They also gave us a card and a gift certificate to a nearby reflexology place. They’re always very sweet and thoughtful. We feel incredibly lucky to have them in our lives.

We went back to his parents’s place for coffee and cake. Karl’s mom was trying to open the cake box, but I hinted to her that Karl had to open it himself because there was a special message for him in there. When Karl opened up the box, he gasped and laughed upon seeing the letters. Of course, being the usual foodie that he is he could not wait to devour the cake, and even had a couple slices. It had one of the most interesting flavors we’ve ever tasted and we enjoyed very much. I’m not very fond of cakes, but the mousse-like texture made it palatable to me. Whew! I didn’t think I was able to pull it off, but thank goodness I did because it made Karl’s birthday more memorable. Mission accomplished.

The newly engaged couple.

Karl and I with his parents at Gatten Sushi.

Karl with his Dad.

Happiness.

Karl with his Mom and Dad enjoying a really good bottle of dessert wine.

Karl blowing out his birthday candles.

The cake up-close.

ON A SIDE NOTE: My parents coincidentally got me a heart-shaped cake in Bogo to mark my birthday even in my absence and my adorable nephew Nijo blew out the candles!

Basia Live at Club Nokia

24 Sep

I was browsing Ticketmaster.com late Friday night for upcoming shows when Basia’s name popped up. I’d loved her songs growing up and admired her style of music from afar, but it’s been ages since I’d heard about her. Next thing I knew I was printing out two tickets for her concert Saturday night. I don’t think I’d ever bought tickets on a whim like that before. Well, I somehow felt like she’s one of those legendary singers that only comes along once every few generations and thought it may well be worth it. And I was about to discover that it was.

On Saturday morning as I rushed for work I told Karl to be on his way by 5pm because we were going to see Basia. “Who’s Basia?” he asked. “What!?! You don’t know who Basia is?” I responded in an exaggerated manner and started giggling uncontrollably. This was the first time he didn’t have any idea who I was talking about. You see, it’s usually the other way around. Karl loves schooling me with all these trivia questions about entertainers, musicians, film composers, etc. and oftentimes I fail. For the next few minutes I tried giving him a really hard time about it. It was all in good fun.

I worked until about 3pm then I had head over to Filipinotown in LA for a meeting at this Filipino restaurant. I did my makeup in my car before I started driving the realized I had left my dress at home! Oh no. I had to call up Karl and remind him to bring it. Because the directions given to me weren’t clear, I ended up getting lost around downtown even passing by Skid Row. Seeing that place completely broke my heart. Anyway I finally arrived at the restaurant and stayed for an hour and a half before Karl picked me up. I did a quick change in the bathroom and off we went! Rush, rush, rush. I didn’t even have time to do my hair!

We got to the Nokia Theatre, presented our tickets to the usher and she told us that we were at the wrong place. She pointed towards the entertainment strip where Club Nokia was which we already passed. The sign was so small it was easy to miss. The whole area I learned was all brand new. It certainly wasn’t around when we came to watch the American Idol Finale three years ago. There were escalators leading up to the entrance where there was already a line going inside.

Club Nokia had one of the coolest and most sophisticated lounges I’ve ever been too. The vibe was sooo…LA. The colors of the lights inside changed every few seconds complementing the modern interiors. I was really impressed with how they arranged the bottles of alcohol behind the bar.

At round 7pm we took the elevators down to the stage area. The set up reminded me of the House of Blues, but just a more upscale version of it. We were a little disappointed that the show started an hour late. We don’t know what caused the delay.

When the Polish singer-songwriter came out, the crowd erupted in cheers. Hearing her speak, she immediately struck me as a gracious and humble person. During her opening spiel, she thanked everyone for coming to see her and her band perform and “not forgetting” them. Her sentences were often punctuated with raspy giggles. She is definitely much older now than what we see on her previous album covers, but her ethereal voice and inner beauty haven’t aged at all.

She started off with a melody of three songs from her new album, which came out only three days ago. If I recall correctly she said, “The first song is about falling in loving, the second song is about heartbreak and the third song is about not giving up on love and finding love again.” I thought it was a beautiful message to send out.

Then somewhere in between she threw in her classic power ballads like “Time and Tide” and “Promises.” The audience (especially me) went insane. Yes, I sang my heart out together with everyone else. Well, mostly the women. I have to say the samba/Bossa Nova-based rhythms of most of her songs make you want to dance like no one’s watching. And she was right about her band too. They were certainly all remarkably talented and I love how they all manage to produce a very unique sound for Basia. Definitely refreshing compared to what we hear on the radio these days. Even her two back-up singers who happened to be twins were a joy to watch as well. Their voices sound so close to Basia’s. Basia gracefully thanked them for flying 12 hours from Mauritius. She gave each of her band members a chanced to shine by making them perform solo briefly. What a nice thing to do. Towards the end of the set she introduced her long-time guitarist Peter White who now lives in LA and is focusing on his solo career.

It was a pretty good set; not too long, not too short. But when they left the stage, the audience screamed for more and they didn’t have a choice but to do an encore. Then one lady started dancing her way towards the stage and as soon as she did that everyone else started getting up and dancing too. It was a phenomenal feeling. I was able to get close to her and shake her hand.

One of the most surprising moments of the night was when a teenager with funky braces and eyeglasses, who totally didn’t fit the age profile of a Basia fan, turned to me and said, “Best concert ever!” I started laughing hysterically, not because she didn’t fit the age profile, but because I felt the same way. Her music is certainly one of a kind and transcends generations. I am glad it is still alive.

After the show proceeded Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill for a late dinner. It was located at the food strip on the first floor. Besides eating at his airport restaurants and the one at the Griffith Observatory, this was my first time trying out an authentic Wolfgang Puck restaurant.

The line leading up to Club Nokia.

Inside the lounge where we waited before the show started.

The fully stocked bar.

Ordering drinks. With this lighting we could probably pass as vampires, don't you think?

Another bar down below and right across the stage.

Looks like someone may have skated their way to the show.

There's the stage!

Waiting for the show to begin.

There she is!

Honey, I know you're trying to make a style statement, but you are blocking my view!

Karl flashing the peace sign.

The final bow.

It's over. :(

Wait, maybe an encore?

They finally came back on stage for the encore!

This woman couldn't help but dance her way to the stage. Everyone followed suit.

The LA crowd was amazing! I'm sure Basia felt the love.

Basia shaking hands with her loyal fans.

Ugh! She's blocking my view again. So funny.

Peter White, Basia's former guitarist, and his replacement behind him.

Basia just loves her band members.

Right outside Club Nokia.

There was a fifteen-minute wait for our table.

Their simple one page menu.

Karl fiddling with his phone and getting impatient because our order took forever!

Enjoyed sitting on this comfy pastel green couch while sipping iced tea.

Some Sweet Corn Soup to ward off the hunger. It tasted great!

My first real meal of the day- Ricotta Gnocchi served with Italian sausage Bolognese and shaved Parmesan.

Karl's choice-pizza!

The restaurant was so well-lit it looked like daytime.

Miles | Vote for the Next Pet Star – Photo Contest | Show Us Your Pet’s Healthy Smile

26 Aug

Miles's photo entry.

I just entered Miles in this online contest! I hope he has a chance. If you haven’t voted yet, please do. If you are planning on entering your pet as well, let me know and I will also cast a vote for him/her. Thanks!

Sturtevant Falls

14 Aug

A few months ago a friend of mine on Facebook who happens to be a photographer, posted beautiful photos of his hike with some friends to Sturtevant Falls. I became curious and decided to find out where it was. I was happy to learn that it was not too far from where I lived. In fact it’s safe to say it’s right in my own backyard! So when my friend Rachel texted me last week to find out if we could meet up again, I was reminded of this place and asked her if she was up for hiking. I thought it would be a great way to indulge in the final days of summer since the weather has been terrific. We originally planned to go in the morning, but due to some obligations we decided to postpone it in the afternoon. It was a good thing because I was still pooped Sunday morning from spending a day at Universal Studios with Karl.

Rachel arrived at my place around 3:3opm and we left a few minutes after that in my car. We got to the actual site at around 4:30pm. We had to drive about 28 miles to get there. Upon reaching the base of the mountain which was a residential area, we had to drive up on Santa Anita Canyon Road all the way to the end. About half a mile away from the entrance, one of the hikers who was getting ready to leave offered to give us his $5 parking pass. Rachel and I looked at each other and thought, “It must be our lucky day!” Then when we reached the main parking area another person was getting ready to leave as well and told us that we could take her spot. Cool! We didn’t have to park very far.

We packed water, sunscreen, and our cameras to document everything that we saw along the way. Too bad the stench from the restrooms was the first thing that greeted us as we walked toward the start of the trail. It looked like a very popular spot as there were many hikers there. There was a mix of children, young adults, and seniors present. Some of them brought their dogs with them, even the tiny ones. I’d read on this website that this was going to be an upside-down hike which means we’d be going downhill first and on our way back that’s when we’d be going uphill.

I would say that it was a very relaxing hike and although I came prepared with a hat, I really didn’t get much sun because the trees carpeted the sky. Majority of the time Rachel and I were walking in the shade. We walked down a long winding road with a glorious view of the mountains until we crossed a green bridge and came upon a stream. We saw several dams along the way. For me the stream one of the most interesting places on the trail because the reflections on the water were glorious. However, right along that area, as we stopped to take some pictures, we were attacked by a swarm of bugs and mosquitoes. We had to keep moving to keep them away.

Along the route, we noticed some cabin homes. Some of them were occupied while others weren’t. We saw an old man setting up dinner on a round table in his patio and an old woman reading a magazine on a rocking chair outside. It made me and Rachel wonder what it was like to live there, how they got their groceries and just other logistics that came to mind.

We had a lot of fun balancing ourselves on the rocks and planks while crossing the shallow stream. I almost slipped at one point because the rock that I was stepping on looked steady but it actually wasn’t.

The start of the trail.

There were several trails to choose from.

That way!

Time to head downhill. This was the easy part.

Crossing the stream via this green bridge.

Stopping to enjoy the glass-like reflections in the water.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Rachel actually did a split on this log. But she is too shy to show her skills!

Perhaps, Goldilocks and the three bears used to live in there.

Rachel breezing through the wooden plank.

Walking down a very narrow path.

Rachel and I sitting across the waterfall. We became very sweaty from the hike but the breeze cooled us down.

It

Rachel actually brought her swimsuit, but she agreed, the water was too cold!

Ah, such beauty!

It was my first time seeing a waterfall in the US so it was quite an experience for me. Sturtevant Falls is a hidden pocket of water in the Los Angeles National Forest. When we arrived there, we saw several people swimming and just taking a rest. I touched the water to check out the temperature and brrr…it was very cold. I thought maybe I could bring our dog here to swim since I didn’t see any rules posted that dogs weren’t allowed. Maybe next time. It was starting to get dark so Rachel and I decided to make our way back up. We were dreading it because we knew it would be tiresome going uphill.

Feeling happy and content from watching the scenery.

We saw this picturesque bench on the way back up.

Rachel is glowing from all the exercise we got.

Clouds hanging low create a blue hue.

Back to where we started. Whew. Going back up was the hardest part.

Rachel and I were laughing on the way back up because we were going really slow and several people had gone ahead of us including dogs. Haha. We decided to go out for dinner afterward since we were both hungry from the hike, albeit short. We settled on a Maki & Sushi Bar in Arcadia. I didn’t know that Rachel wasn’t a fan of raw fish, but somehow I sneakily convinced her to eat there. (wink, wink) She had broiled salmon with lemon but she did try some of my mackerel sashimi. Together we enjoyed coffee and green tea mochi. We left the restaurant just as this drunk woman was getting rowdy by the bar. Haha.

Thanks Rachel for the super fun day and great company. Until next time!

Purina Photoshoot

13 Jul

When I first learned that Randy Schwartz Photography was casting young mothers for a Purina print ad photoshoot, I wasn’t sure if I fit the description, but decided to submit myself anyway with hopes of having the opportunity to audition. The role description specified that applicants be animal lovers and have no allergies or fear of cat or dogs. About a week after I submitted myself I received a request to audition. They noted in the email that we come in dressed in our favorite outfit to bring out our true personality. The audition happened on May 18th at their Torrance studio, quite a far drive from home. I came in and saw two tall and beautiful models in there and thought to myself, “Uh-oh. I don’t think I stand a chance.” My hopes went up after they told us that we were going to be photographed with Buddy, the photographer’s 14 1/2-year-old yellow Labrador. Having had a significant amount of experience with my own dog who is a yellow Labrador as well, I was no longer nervous, just excited. All we had to do was casually interact with him in front of the green screen while Randy photographed us. Randy was wonderful to work with. He encouraged me and told me to just go with it. When Buddy licked my face and I didn’t pull back, Randy said to me, “Oh, you get plus points for that.” That just made my day and I walked out of the audition like I was floating on air.

About a month passed and I didn’t hear back from them. I figured, oh well, just another job I didn’t get. Regardless, I kept praying for the project and even requested from my mom and dad that they pray for me as well. Then one night as I was casually browsing through my emails, I got a message saying that I had been chosen for the project. I remember shrieking so loudly I scared my boyfriend, who was watching tv in the living room. It was very funny. I also remember jumping up and down like a little girl. I was very excited to have the chance to work with pets on a set.

About two weeks before the shoot date, they had us come back to the studio with our own wardrobe choices so that the stylist can sort through them and figure out what would suit us best. They also provided us with a shot list and sample shots of the kind of photos they were trying to achieve. They noted in the email that the desired style of photography was “editorial” “not staged.” Basically, shots that appeared candid.

The shot that got me through.

The photoshoot happened on Wednesday, July 13th and I, together with a male model, had an 8am call time. I arrived ten minutes before 8am at this beautiful beachfront house in a private gated community in Ranchos Palos Verdes, a city that I didn’t even know existed until that day. The staff was still unloading racks of wardrobe from the vans. I saw a lot of Old Navy clothing. I went out to the patio where they offered me breakfast. There was a caterer on the set and it was abuzz with the crew getting everything ready. I also got to meet the owner of the house who I determined was a doctor based on the medical books that I saw on his bookshelf.

It was certainly a gorgeous day. I enjoyed every minute of it. Chris Wilson, the male model, and I were only scheduled to be there half day as they were shooting another couple in the afternoon. The stylist had each of us wear a fake wedding band to depict us as a real life couple in the photos. We noticed how stinky the cats were. Haha. I was able to work with 3 pets, a Bischon Frise dog named LT and two cats named Diva and Tica (I don’t know their breed). There was a male and female animal trainer on set. I was extremely impressed with how well the animals listened to all of their instructions with the lure of treats. I can only imagine how much training they’ve gone through in their lives!

Here are some pictures from the shoot:

The view of the beach from the parking lot.

The deck facing the beach where we all hung out during the shoot.

Catered food. Yum.

Hair and makeup time!

With Marian Filali, the offical HMUA of the photoshoot. She was super sweet and fun.

I came to the shoot with makeup on already as they had not mentioned in any of the correspondence that there would be a makeup artist on set. Big mistake. I just wasted my time. Oopsie. Marian was okay though with taking it all off. She didn’t mind. I think Marian did a great job with my hair and makeup. Her goal was to simply make me look natural. Right before it was my turn to be photographed she decided to add big curls to my hair because initially she had straightened it. You can learn more about Marian and her work by visiting her website.

Meet LT. She was a very well behaved doggy.

Cat models Tica and Diva.

The real stars of the photoshoot-the animal models!

His turn! Chris Wilson, the male model, pretending to read a book while dog model Tango chews a bone by his feet.

The bed where they shot me and Chris on with dog model LT and cat models Diva and Tica.

I decided to hang out outside for few minutes to enjoy the view before I gathered my things and left.

I stopped by the turnout on the way out to breath some fresh air and take in the view once more.

I have to say that this was the most professional photoshoot I have ever participated in so far. I say that because everything was very well organized and properly coordinated from start to finish. There was a hair and makeup artist on the set, food was abundant and about four members of Purina’s advertising agency were present to make sure that everything went smoothly. Most of all, there was absolutely no attitude from anybody during the photoshoot. It felt like we were just playing around and having fun.

The photos will be used as Purina’s stock photography in the next 3 years for print ads, web images, and such. I imagine it may take a while before they will actually be released. I genuinely hope they turned out well.

And so I drove off with another beautiful memory.

My Yelp Review on the IDI Website

10 Jul

Dermalogica’s marketing coordinator, Nicole Partise, contacted me last month to let me know how much they loved my review of the International Dermal Institute on Yelp.com. She asked me if they could include it on their website. I was happy to oblige because I wrote that review with passion and it’s great to be able to support the school this way.

Thanks Dermalogica! Thanks IDI!

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