Day 1: LA Adventures

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The last time Maya visited me, Pon Pon was only four days old. I had just returned home from the hospital after delivering the baby, and I was exhausted, severely sleep deprived, hormonal, stressed, moody, and a hot mess — definitely not a good company.  So I’m happy that we got to spend quality time together this time around. She came down from PDX for Pon Pon’s first birthday party and I got to spend a week of quality girl time with my BFF.

After the party, I took off my mommy hat and headed to Mondrian Hotel on Sunset for a baby-free weekend. It was my first time being away from Pon Pon overnight and I have to admit that it was a little tough at first (yes, I have become one of those parents who can’t stay away from their bebe for more than a few hours)  … but I knew that Kevin was holding down the fort at home and she was in good hand. By the time Maya and I got on the road, I was no longer a mom but a buck wild party girl (okay, this is totally not true).

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Mondrian Hotel was lovely.  The room was very tiny but we got the room with an amazing view of West Hollywood.  Maya and I are such Asians – as soon as we walked into the room, we started snapping pictures!

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I wish there was a bath tub … but the shower had a pretty good water pressure.

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Our balcony overlooked the Herringbone restaurant.

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Picturesque West Hollywood.  You can see Beverly Center and Lawry’s Prime Rib, our wedding venue, from here.

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I remember when Sunset Boulevard was the place to hang out on a weekend.  It was so much more quiet and tamed this night.  I wonder if this famous strip has lost its charm, or I just got older.  Things didn’t look as mesmerizing as I once remembered as a wee twenty-something.

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After we unpacked and unwind, we headed over to Little Next Door for some late dinner.  We weren’t overly hungry, so we decided to eat something light with a glass or two of wine.

Maya and I almost always order fresh oysters when they’re available and we’re usually happy with them.  Unfortunately, this was not that time.  Each oyster was so tiny that we felt like we got ripped off.

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I order this Salad Nicoise almost every time I’m here at the restaurant.  It’s not necessarily that it’s the best item on the menu, but because I’m a Salad Nicoise addict and I cannot say no to it when it’s on the menu.

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Here’s Maya’s fish dish.  We ordered dessert and coffee but we forgot to take pictures.

We were so exhausted by the time we finished dinner, we returned to our hotel room, took off our shoes, and just watched the Olympics.  Although we were in the middle of action in a city that doesn’t sleep (okay, that’s not true .. unlike NYC, bars close early in LA), we realized we’d much rather stay in and relax in our comfortable pajamas.  I guess you can take a girl out of a home, but you can’t take her hominess out of a girl.

Baby’s First Birthday!

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It was Pon Pon’s first birthday (insert happy dance here!) and we celebrated this special day with our family over the weekend.  We wanted to invite a bunch of our friends but we settled on having a small, intimate gathering at our apartment instead.  We figured she won’t remember a thing now and it’s best to keep our sanity (planning a party is hard work!) and save a few bucks until she starts asking for it in coming years.

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Because we hosted a party here at our home and cooked our own food (except for birthday cakes), we were able to keep the cost somewhat low (and it was relatively stress-free because I was able to prep most of the dishes the night before).  The entire ingredients set us back about $100, but it’s not bad considering that we were able to feed 15 people, with lots of leftovers to feed us for days!

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Salad Nicoise-Inspired Platter

Instruction:  Arrange boiled haricot vert, red potatoes (cut into halves, quarters, or even sliced, depending on the size), and eggs (sliced, preferably using a nifty egg slicer), with mix greens and smoked salmon.  Decorate the platter with lemon wedges and some capers sprinkled on top of salmon.  I made a simple dressing with grated garlic (more flavorful than minced), olive oil, vinegar (1:1 ratio), Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.  Put all the ingredients into a small bottle and shake vigorously.

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Arugula and Prosciutto Pizza

Instruction (Kevin made this pizza so I’m assuming this is how he made it but I can be wrong):  Follow the instruction on the pre-made dough before proceeding (it usually asks that you leave the dough out 30 minutes before baking).  Spread the dough onto a baking pan.  Smear garlic-infused olive oil onto the dough and bake until the dough is golden brown.  Top the pizza with handful of arugula, prosciutto slices, and shaved Parmesan cheese.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar.

Kevin made another pizza with pepperoni but I forgot to take pictures!

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Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Canapé

Instruction:  Slice a baguette loaf.  Smear a generous amount of goat cheese, and top it with sliced cucumber (two slices, if they’re small) and smoked salmon.  Top each canapé with capers.  I like to make these about an hour before serving to soften the baguette a bit.  If you’re using crackers, serve immediately before they become soggy.

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Greek Salad

Instruction:  Chop tomatoes and cucumbers into small cubes and toss them into a bowl.  Add minced garlic and onion, and mix them with vegetables.  Add a crumbled feta cheese, olives (preferably pitted), olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well and let it sit overnight before serving.

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Osekihan:

This was a courtesy of my mother, who made this auspicious Japanese “red” rice to celebrate the baby’s first birthday.  We eat this on special occasions like anniversaries, graduations, and of course, birthdays!   Check out this video by Cooking with Dog for instruction on how to make this rice, if you’re interested!

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We’re so grateful to have an amazing family (and my BFF Maya who flew from PDX to attend the party!) who spoiled us rotten with love and gifts.  And we’re incredibly blessed that our baby is growing up healthy.  We’re the luckiest people in the world.  Thank you.

Littlefork in Hollywood

My husband, lovely friends D and J, and I stopped by Littlefork for lunch this afternoon before heading over to Pantages Theatre to catch the matinee showing of The Book of Mormon.

This place offers some amazing New-England-meets-Montreal goodness. Who knew maple syrup went so well with everything?

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$1.00 oysters! (Or were they buck fifty each, I don’t remember … but these were one of the few items on the menu without the drizzle or a hint of maple syrup.)

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Maple Eggs — Subtly sweetened egg custard and fluffy scrambled eggs, topped with maple-flavored bacon. (These weren’t real egg shells; they were reusable silicon egg-shaped container, in case you were wondering.)

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Kale salad, with avocado, egg crumbles, red onion, and oranges, tossed in light tangy dressing.  I’m not sure how this gentle, arugula-like leaves can be kale, but it was delicious!

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Breakfast Burrito. This was so good — with scrambled egg, pork rind, fried onion rings, and cheese wrapped in tortilla — it makes ordinary breakfast burrito want to hide under the cover.  It’s even more amazing with maple syrup.

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Lobster Roll (Montreal Style with three slices of brisket).  It’s incredibly steep at $29, but is worth the splurge.

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Poutine.  I’ve never heard of this dish before, but I guess this French fries drenched in gravy, cheese curd, maple syrup, and eggs, is a famous dish in Quebec.

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Apple Cider Donuts with maple syrup. Mmmm.

I really missed the baby but it was nice to have a few hours of grown-up time with my husband, wonderful friends, and a glass (or two) of fruity Rose.

Thanks for the great recommendation, J!

Littlefork
1600 Wilcox Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
★★★★★

Kings Game at Dodger Stadium

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The Stadium Series game was awesome. The game was SO darn awful for the Kings fan cry, but it’s not every day that you get to watch a hockey game at an outdoor baseball field, at Dodger Stadium!

It was Pon Pon’s first hockey game and she did great! It was late for her (she’s usually in bed by 8:00 p.m. and the game didn’t start until 7:15 p.m.) but she was a good sport and loved interacting with fellow Kings fans! She even watched Kiss give powerful performances before the game and during the first intermission. She fell a sleep in my Boba baby sling for half of second and the entire third periods, which was good for her because those two periods were pretty painful to watch.

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Papa custom ordered the Stadium Series jersey for Pon Pon for this very occasion (no, the baby’s name is not Bailey lol, it’s the name of our favorite Mascot) but it was a little too big for her! Maybe next time!

Lace Poncho

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I love ponchos. They’re an ideal accompaniment to any outfit and I just think they’re simply the perfect piece of clothing. There was one autumn / winter, around 2006, when I lived in a poncho. I purchased the said poncho for about $15 at a very unsexy shop (it might have been Target) and I wore it every. single. day, and didn’t take it off until spring. It was a perfect wrap to wear over whatever I was wearing that day to keep me warm and comfy at the office, but perhaps the main reason for my poncho obsession is that it covers my problem areas like my arms and stomach beautifully, without having to hide behind an oversize and often unflattering sweater.

I actually didn’t intend to knit a poncho when I first casted this project onto the knitting needles. I was going to make yet another lacy scarf but realized that I was over scarves. I wanted something different and decided to stitch the two sides together and make a poncho instead!

So here it is – my first project of the new year!

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pink lineHow to Knit a Lace Poncho

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This pattern was inspired by Debbie Bliss’ Lacy Scarf.  I doubled the number of stitches to make the piece wider and turned it into a poncho by sewing two sides together. 

Supplies needed:

  • A pair of size 6 (US) knitting needles.  I used Addi Turbo circular needle in size 6.  I love Addi because it really helps speed up my knitting!
  • 3 skeins of yanrs, at 50 grams each. I used Cascade 200 Sport in Orange Sherbet (7825) that I purchased from WEBS yarns.  
  • Tapestry needle for binding and sewing two sides together

Techniques used:

I would say that the level of difficulty for this project is “easy,” but if you’re not sure of any of these techniques below, I recommend you checking out Youtube for wonderful tutorials.  I’m a self-taught knitter, and I could have never done it without the tutelage of amazing online teachers!  

  • Cast on
  • Knit
  • Purl
  • k2tog (knit 2 together)
  • YO (yarn over)
  • Bind off
  • Blocking
  • Mattress stitch seaming

Instruction:

Using size 6 (US) needles, cast on 76 stitches.

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: * Knit (1 time), [k2tog] (3 times), [yo, k] (6 times), [k2tog] (6 times), [yo, k] (6 times), [k2tog] (3 times), knit (1 time). Repeat from * one time.
Row 4: Knit

stitchRepeat these 4 rows until it measures about 45 inches (three skeins of yarns). Bind off.

Note:  If you want a smaller poncho that doesn’t fall off your shoulders, simply make it shorter.  Try it on as you knit, so you can make a desired length / size.  Also note that the garment stretches significantly when you block so it’s important to take that into consideration.  One more thing — bind off very loosely; otherwise, it becomes hell when you try to mattress stitch a very tight piece. 

Block the piece, if using wool yarns.

Note:  I recommend that you don’t skip this step.  Blocking your finished project is not my favorite part of the process, but it makes all the difference in the finished product, especially in lace knitting.  Blocking will help define the intricacy of the lace and makes the piece look more sophisticated and professional.

Using the tapestry needle, mattress stitch the pieces as shown on right.

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I’m so in love with this poncho.  I can see myself wearing it all the time, both inside the house and when going out.  I’ve always liked orange and I especially love this hue. I like how the yarn drapes nicely on the back too!

I hope you give this pattern a try, and let me know how it turns out!

poncho 4Looking forward to crafting wonderful projects in 2014!

Birthday Lunch at Tommy Bahama

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My husband took me to one of my favorite restaurants, Tommy Bahama, in Newport Beach for my birthday. We are incredible spoiled and extremely blessed here on the West Coast, enjoying the temperature in the mid 80s in January, while friends on the Central and East Coasts are experiencing one of the harshest winters in years.  I wish there’s a way to balance out the two extremes for a comfortable temperature for all of us. Sending love and warm thoughts to Chiberia and other cities currently buried in snow.

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Not to toot our own horn or anything, but my husband and I might just be the best kind of patron a restaurant can ask for. We make reservations in advance, arrive on time, order our appetizer and main dish in two minutes of arrival, and pay for our meal even before we are done. By the time one of us take the last bite, we’re pretty much ready to walk out the door. (And we always tip 20%.) It’s not that we don’t enjoy a nice, long meal out, but when you have an active 10-month-old baby sitting next to you in a high chair vying for your attention, you only have about 30- to 45-minute window to shove the food in your mouth before she starts screaming like a pterodactyl, scaring other poor diners!

My husband and I took turns feeding and entertaining Pon Pon while we chomped down Jumbo Lump Crab and Avocado Salad. Once she got out of the baby stroller and comfortably into the high chair, she started playing with her favorite book and let us enjoy lunch tear free! Yipee!

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Tiger Shrimp Linguini (for him).

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Grilled Steak Tenderloin Salad (for me). This has always been my all-time favorite steak salad (I order this every time) but I found the salad to be a little heavy-handed with salt this time.  I wanted to give Pon Pon a piece of the potato, but it was much too salty for her still-developing palate. That was a real bummer!

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The complementary butterscotch pudding was amazing!

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As we were driving home (after spending a few hours at Sur La Table and Bristol Farm, inside the same shopping center), we spotted a mysterious herd of quirky bunnies in a park so we stopped by.  The bunnies were in a park next to the Newport Beach City Hall.

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Thank you for the wonderful birthday!