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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.

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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.

“Dancing with the Stars” LIVE!

19 May

I was at Laguna Lake Park in Fullerton last week jogging when I sat on a bench to take a quick breather. I checked my emails and lo and behold saw one from On-Camera Audiences for Season 12 of “Dancing with the Stars!” I am a huge fan of the show and I was psyched for the opportunity to finally watch it live. I immediately signed up and called my friend Rachel Couvrey to invite her to watch the show with me. We lost our chance last year when we couldn’t go because work got hectic. Although we had both wanted to go very badly because of Jennifer Grey the timing was just off. We promised each other that if either one of us got tickets again we’d let the other know. We were so excited! I chose to sign us up for the results night because that’s when they have guest performances from big stars. On Monday night they announced that the legendary Stevie Nicks was going to perform two of her songs. Wow.

I left my car parked at Citadel Outlets since Rachel offered to drive us to CBS Studios. I understand that it’s the same place where they shoot “American Idol.” When we passed by the entrance to the studio at around 1:30pm there was already a line forming, but it wasn’t that bad. Maybe the gloomy weather turned some people away. Good thing we only took one car with us because parking at The Grove shopping center was awfully expensive. It was $24 for a full day. (Gasp!) After parking we grabbed some water and snacks somewhere in the market section of The Grove before navigating back to the entrance of the studio where we waited for about an hour before being escorted inside. While inside, they confiscated our cellphones and we had to sit down and wait for another hour. They told us that they were pre-taping the performance of Pitbull and Ne-Yo, but unfortunately we were about three seats away from the 30 people that they chose to be part of it. Those 30 people actually got to sit down below. Rachel and I were pretty bummed. But I told her to stay positive because who knows we still might get good seats. (I was right!) One of the ladies sitting beside us had already been there before and she filled us in on what to expect and provided us with good conversation and gossip about the celebrities. Close to 5pm when the show was scheduled to start they let us enter and seated us in the balcony. When one of the production assistants saw that there were only two of us she had us wait to the side and then when all the balcony seats were filled up she sat us close to the stairs. Little did we know that Tom and Brooke would be talking from that end during the second half of the show. It was definitely exciting to be in the background shot while they were hosting.

We saw several celebrities at the show including Nick Lachey and his fiancée Vanessa Minnillo. They were there to support Nick’s younger brother Drew Lachey whose dance with partner Cheryl Burke was voted the favorite by fans throughout the 12 seasons of “Dancing with the Stars.” We also got to see American Idol castoff Pia Toscano, the humored girlfriend of DWTS’s Mark Ballas. I saw him kiss her after the show.

There was a lot of downtime during the show and they had this hype person whose task was to get the crowd to cheer. Some parts were pre-taped but I was really grateful we were able to see Stevie Nicks perform live. She had a teleprompter for her song lyrics. It was magical to see all the live dancing and camera movements as it happened. Brooke and Tom were really friendly to us and greeted us while they waited for the camera to be on them. One of my favorite moments was when Ralph Macchio got voted off and he was thanking everyone for their support. You could tell what a sweetheart he truly is.

The show ended at exactly 7pm and outside Rachel and I burst out laughing because they were giving away Salon Perfect lashes. We were like, “Really?” Of all things! But then again A.I.I has been a long-time sponsor of the show. It was mostly funny because we both weren’t expecting it.

With our stomachs grumbling, we decided to try one of the restaurants at The Grove and settled on The Farm of Beverly Hills. Delish! When I got home I watched the replay and had a fit of giggles seeing myself and Rachel clapping behind Tom and Brooke as they were hosting.

I’m so grateful for the experience. I would totally do it all over again. What a blessed day it was!

The golden ticket.

Dolling up before heading over to CBS Studios.

Started waiting in line at 2pm. The show was from 5-7pm.

The long line. Some fans came all the way from Utah.

Hilarious freebies after the show (my eye on the lash carton).

Had Meatloaf at The Farm of Beverly Hills at The Grove.

Grubbing after watching the show.

Got to be on TV behind the hosts! Fun.

Freestyle, Side A + Juris Live in LA

23 Oct

I was so stoked to learn that we would have a chance to watch Side A perform in LA.  I’ve always been a huge fan of theirs and I grew up watching them on TV.  Karl’s cousin, Ned Esguerra, happens to be Side A’s bass player and they haven’t seen each other in years so this was also their mini-reunion.  The concert was held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.  The doors opened at 7pm and the show started at 8pm.  The place was packed with hundreds of Filipinos, I felt like I was back home.

I thought it was only Side A who was going to be performing but OMG, Freestyle and Juris were there too.  What a treat!  I have to admit tears started rolling down my face when I heard all of their original compositions.  I was such a mess. Hahaha.  It was an incredibly memorable night and it made me realize how I much miss home. We went up to the VIP lounge after the show where we grabbed a plate of pancit and some chicken.  All of the performers were on a tight curfew because they had to drive to San Francisco afterwards for their Saturday gig.  Karl and I fell in line to get fan pics taken but as we got closer they announced that there were only two minutes left and that’s when it got chaotic.  Good thing Ned was able to squeeze me in for a pic with Jinky and Juris.

Outside the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

Waiting for the show to begin. So excited!

We didn't get the best seats but it was still a great view.

Jinky wows the crowd.

Juris takes center stage.

We thought they were finished but no! Here's their encore performance of "Forevermore." You have to pardon my embarrassing singing voice in the background. I couldn't help it! This is one of my favorite songs in the whole wide world.

We thought they were gonna have a press conference or something, but they were just there for a photo op with the fans!

Saw our friend photographer Alex Pascual and he took this picture of us.

Free Filipino food.

Cousins reunited.

Jinky and her family.

Me with Jinky. She was so entertaining to watch.

Me with Juris. I didn't that know she's no longer with M.Y.M.P. She announced her solo career tonight.

Thank you to Ned for inviting us and hooking us up with the fan pics. We really enjoyed the show.