Welcome to My Blog!

A Sweet Moment, Wedding in the Redwood Forest

Things I love: Peonies ...

Fresh Peonies: Classy, Elegant and With Fresh Dew Drops

... And Photographing Children

Each with his/her own unique energy


Sunday, May 31, 2009

More Weekend Food

Friday after work I stopped by Target to pick up some essentials, and as I was perusing the food pantry section, I saw JIFFY corn muffin mix for 52 cents. What a steal-y deal!

I decided to improve on the recipe found on the back of the 1930s designed JIFFY box and added in corn, jalapeños, cheddar and a tablespoon of honey. Here are the results from the Sunday afternoon simple baking project:

L-R: Baked corn muffins; corn, cheddar and jalapeños; batter in paper cups

A few of the Baked Corn Muffins

And while I may be on a baking frenzy, I do also cook on the side. Over the weekend I decided to stirfry some chicken. My stir-frys always include lots of different sauces and ingredients - as an example, just for the meat marinade I use oyster sauce, soy sauce, minced ginger, some garlic, rice wine, corn starch ... but not a lot of each ...

Some Stir-Fry With Tender Chicken

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Green Matcha Re-Match!

My initial attempt at baking green tea cupcakes was far from a success mostly because I used the wrong matcha.  Finding matcha powder in itself was a hard enough task; at first the only matcha I found came in tea bags from Whole Foods.  Bad idea!  The cupcakes werent terrible, but they also didnt have the matcha flavor I wanted to emphasize.

Feeling a bit unsatisfied with the first batch (made in Boston last wknd), I decided a re-try this morning.  Instead of matcha buttercream frosting, I opted for a light cream cheese frosting with powdered sugar.  I baked and frosted seven matcha green tea cupcakes from scratch, and this time, I was satisfied!

Cupcake Making Process: (L-R, Top to Bottom): batter; pre-bake; matcha powder; frosting making

Perky and Straight from Oven

Frosted with Light Cream Cheese & Powdered Sugar

* I also wore green and used a green mixing bowl!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Freedom

Happy Friday!

One of my favorite quotes from this week is: "today I like excel, numbers don't talk back" - that came from a gchat conversation, and I of course jotted it down on a post-it knowing I would integrate it into my update.

This week hasnt been exceptionally busy at work and I have no real plans for the weekend. Sometimes that's for the best (especially given how busy my last wknd was), because it means I get to do whatever I want!

CBTF Bowling Event with Work Buddies

Monday, May 25, 2009

Long Weekend Update (Memorial Day)

Friday: A Pizza Party

On Monday I asked the crew if they were interested in a pizza making party, and on Friday it happened. Our regular group expanded to include Sarah's sis and JP's two friends from out of town. JP is a fan of Del Fina in the Mission in San Francisco, and I know that he has tried to make pizza on his own a few times - his from scratch pizza dough seems so wholesome bc he tosses in barley and wheat flour. What I didnt appreciate until the end of the night was that he ordered a pizza stone from Amazon especially for the night.

The toppings were selected by a few of us and included lots and lots of goodies and veggies: a multicolor trio pack of peppers, two regular red onions, balls of mozzarella, stems of fresh basil, a perfectly ripe avocado, a mini pumpkin shaped tomato, and thin slices of chorizo and pepporoni.

Pizza pics are below. My personal creation (only ~1/3 of the last pizza) was an avocado/tomato slice pizza, all the other pizzas I just threw on ingredients to the extent they could fit. And how I have changed - I used to dislike that creamy goodness from California, but that was ten years ago.

Pizza Making Process

(L-R): Jalapeno, peppers and onions; basil and peppers; Meat lovers and Tomato & Avocado

Saturday: A Move to Ithaca and A Trip to Boston

On Saturday, I showed up at Sarah's apartment a little before the agreed time of 8:45am. I called her upon arrival and felt bad because she had gotten slightly lost after a few forced detours. JP staffed me with an initial task to sit curbside on 116 and Manhattan and to watch the boxes in order to reserve a parking spot for the van. People had mentioned this on Friday night (me acting as a guard) because apparently they think that I have a certain look that I can get away with violations such as placing personal belongings on the side of the street. Good thing it was in the morning, and so I didnt see any suspicious looking characters. Anyways, we were relatively efficient and finished loading Sarah's apt into the van within 2 hours.

I returned home, fixed a quick lunch and took a quick nap before showing up to class where I saw Patrick and he quickly remarked, "I thought you were supposed to be in Boston?!" (I didn't take his earlier class). (lots of quicks)

In the early evening I was Boston bound via bolt bus on which I played brickbeaker. The bus impressively left right on time. With the free wifi, I was able to surf youtube. And when the bus passed by St John the Divine cathedral on 110 I thought about how much I love the lighting at dusk before the sun goes down. That is my ideal time to shoot.

Sunday: A Day in Boston

Quite an eventful day that began early with pizza, canneolis and lobster cremes.

The events:
- Stayed up till 5am chatting
- Woke up early to bake matcha green cupcakes; realized I bought the wrong matcha, but later decided it tasted just fine
- Headed towards half marathon race
- Walked through garden, snapped a few pics
- Shopped at Banana
- Had a frozen green tea matcha at Tealuxe while waiting for a seat at Parish
- Lunch at Parish, overate gourmet sandwiches (banana bread, cheese and ham as an example) and onion rings; gave remainder of onion rings to an older lady who was eyeing them
- More shopping
- Stop at Taj
- Walk around the Common (reggae fest) and random residential neighborhoods (one alley looked like a movie set)
- Roofdeck relaxation

The comments:
- I havent walked around Boston in so long, yet many streets are still familiar
- Great luck with weather. We dodged lightening bc we were luckily re-seated inside at Parish right before the afternoon storm; after our walking day ended in the late afternoon, we listened to music in the apt as the second downpour of the day came down ... and hard
- Marissa and I both love moleskin notebooks
- I want to write a post about equivalent places in different cities. Like the Mission and the Lower East Side or Beacon Hill and Russian Hill

Matcha Cupcake Making Process

Beacon Hill, Reminds me of Russian Hill in San Francisco

Random Sampling of Boston Pics

Host Marissa
Monday: A Day Off

Monday was gorgeous again. The highlight of my day was meeting up with J who was in town for a wedding. We had lunch at a very empty Ono (Hotel Gansevort) and had some small plates. My favorite plate was the spicy crab pizza (pictured below), which had avocado, sprouts and radish. It was delicious and light.

I was a bit productive in the afternoon, running errands with a few friends. I grocery shopped while they picked up some champagne branded mangoes (the good kind).

And now after posting this entry, I have a lot of pictures to upload onto flickr, which I will do piece mail!

Spicy Crab Pizza at Ono

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quotes from 5/18 - 5/22

Scribbling My To Bring and To Do List for Sunday on a Yellow Post-It

My life clearly revolves around food, and moreso lately, but there are other parts to it I must have failed to jot down. Here's a random sampling of the memorable quotes to summarize a few conversations and events from the week:

- "u end up with lots of wedding guests and not many bridemaids"
in reference to having millions of friends and few close buds

- "then why didnt you come say hello?!"
in reference to walking past friend's apt (and seeing the mint plant at windowsill)

- "I know you have cash needs and can sell at a cheap market price [without efficacy data] ... but to be brow beaten with low numbers is not tasteful"
in reference to postponing a deal for 3 months following positive clinical data

- "i am doing two models actually" || "it can't be that hard though!!"
"i am out of practice" || "that sounds wrong"
in reference to xls

- "im wearing twitter colors"
describing to friend my style of dress on Thursday eve

and finally, a nice comment:
- " I love that I get a window into your life, even when I don't see you every day :)"
about my blogspot

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Keep Thinking About Food - Ahh

Parmesan Risotto with Chopped White Mushrooms, Sugar Snaps and Salami
Sweet Corn on Cob (I can still eat this even after Omnivore's Dilemma)

I got off work early tonight and decided to make one of my favorite Italian dishes - risotto! I had all the ingredients I needed at home and it seemed to be a good idea. When I lived in San Francisco and would order dinner from North Beach I almost always would order risotto for dinner and panna cotta for dessert. In fact, these two are such faves I listed them both as interests on my fb profile. Since I didnt want to spend four hours making panna cotta (it takes a while to solidfy/cool), I paired my dinner with corn on the cob - a sweet supplement.

Panna cotta with fresh berries remains to be my favorite dessert -

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stream of Events on Ordinary Wednesday

Black and White Trio from Crumbs

After last night’s hour of happiness at Sweet Revenge in the Village (Crimson Red Velvet, Spiced Carrot Cake, Carafe of White Sangria), I almost wanted to sleep in this morning. But because I'm not lazy / dont require that much sleep, I started the day early.

A stream of events from a not-very-eventful, ordinary Wednesday follows:

5:05AM: Awake, respond to msgs on bb, look out window where it's already light outside. there’s a pretty crescent moon amidst a pink and light blue sky. wanted to photograph but unintentionally fell back asleep for just a few minutes

5:16AM: Decide (after self protest, debate) to take an early morning class

5:35AM: Out the door. random passerby asks if im fillipino

6:00AM: Talk about bball / NBA with classmate re: potential Kobe vs Lebron faceoff. interesting stats: Chauncey Billups has made it to the playoffs 6x in a row … Robert Horry has 7 champ rings. I’m a fan of both players.

8:35AM: Wait for the elevator at Southpark en route to work. meet and converse with neighbor’s parents who are visiting from Australia

9:00AM: Oatmeal with a banana for bfast. admire GOOG logo, the missing link. check on daily morning sites (seriouseats, drudge report, wsj, nytimes, dealbreaker and weather)

9:15AM: Nora hands me a surprise: 3 black and white cookies from Crumbs. the Crumbsy joker logo reminds me of the mask Bree and Orson have from Desperate Housewives

9:30AM: Listen in on conf call and learn more about women’s health space and a spec pharma (women and testosterone, etc)

11:30AM: Tea time with milk and sugar. begin to make edits to last night’s draft presentation for a meeting next week.

11:50AM: Eat raisin bagel smeared with cream cheese (leftovers from an am portfolio co board meeting)

12:15PM: After researching Eastern Standard and Drink on Yelp, notice a received compliment and reminder to post from Yelp friend. quickly type a 2 min post about visit to Sweet Revenge and how sweet it is

12:30PM: Starvin marvin; eat lunch of spinach pasta/salami/tomatoes/red onions and cheese with pesto and red sauce

12:50PM: Waterbug/cockroach scare at a bullpen cube - the bug was easily 2 inches long and caused a soprano shriek

1:26PM: Marissa comes on gchat and we chat

2:36PM: Work at Excel Help Desk (helping out with CAGRs and print areas). continue to work at regular desk

6:00PM: Leave work to go home via B,D line. the subway is massively crowded during rush hour even during recessionary times

7:11PM: Talk to Marissa over the phone with lol (stands for lots of laughs, i used to think acronym stood for lots of love)

7:45PM: Decide to post blog entry. and i'm stopping here before this becomes overly annoying.

*Maybe I should reserve entries with this level of detail for a more interesting day

Sunday, May 17, 2009

More on Moving and More on Baking

Seems like everywhere I turn people are moving … be it exercise friends, buddies, officemates. Of the many movers I know, some are upgrading apartments, some are leaving the city, while others are looking to move back into the city. As for me, thus far I’ve only scanned Craigslist for potential apartments and the work is still in the preliminary/early stage. And since I’ve been trained to think like Ben Franklin (a rational thinker), here are some off the shelf benefits and considerations wrt leaving Southpark –

- Save on rent
- Reduce and/or eliminate (useless) clutter
- Chance to redecorate with new color scheme and create new wall prints
- Possible new neighborhood to explore
- Get $,$$$ security deposit back (I don’t like foregone interest income)

- Finding a nice, clean place that is also reasonably priced may be difficult
- Cost of moving is additive
- Movers, application fees, security deposits
- Time is limited and there is a narrow window to act
- Energy/Effort (coordinating process will require xls for sure)
- Packing, moving, unpacking
- Status quo is comfortable and may be hard to let go
- Current apt is nice with gym & pool in building

To be honest, I am a little reluctant to move - but I should start making calls and going on apt visits. On the flipside, I am a champion mover! A few months ago, I helped Erika with her move and lifted some heavy objects surviving fine with only one visible bruise (her ability to squeeze so many items in her old bedroom still amazes me). Towards the end of this weekend, I went to a packing party, where I helped to pack and clean - I’m clearly picking up moving skills left and right. Nonetheless, I hope to make a decision in a week or two …

Moving onto baking - I baked cheesecake squares with strawberries; I chose this mostly because the recipe appeared easy and manageable. Nora craved something chocolate-y but I told her just to buy some chocolate chips and to put those on her own squares (how nice of me). Before this I had never made cheesecake; in fact the first time I had it homemade was when Rmy made it when I was in fifth grade. Surely enough, the simple Saturday night project didn’t take too long to complete and the most fun part of the process was crumbling honey graham cracker squares and turning them into sweet bits of powdered dust particles. Cracker crumbling is arguably more fun than cheese grating.

Anyways here are some captures of the finished product:

(L-R, Top to Bottom): First two taste-test pieces; Softening cream cheese, sugar, eggs and co.; Squares are finished with lots and lots of strawberries; Baked honey graham cracker crust; Finely chopped up strawberries

A 3x3 Cheesecake Square Matrix

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Dinner on a Weeknight

(L-R, Top to Bottom): Lightly Pan-Frying Pancakes; Feta, Zucchini & Mint Pancakes Lain on Napkins; Finally Garnished With Tart Sour Grannies; Sweet Potato Mash; Yellow and Red Beets with Clover Honey and Salt; Garlic Baked Asparagus

Had dinner with friends at JP's apartment tonight. He has a nice and spacious apartment in the Lower East Side; his apartment is suprisingly stocked with lots of kitchen supplies and is suitably located right above the Whole Foods on Houston.

As this is an entry mainly about food, words are not really needed but rather pictures for description ... here are some additional visual aids from tonight:

The Head Chef herself, many thanks again!

Din and Drink

A Lil Pyro Playing With Fire

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cupcake Comparables v1

(Please Click to Enlarge)

I'm in comps mode ... I need to pull together a comprehensive set of apartment comps to present to my building in effort to renegotiate my lease. But this afternoon, I thought about a few things:

- I joined Twitter and now owe Marissa some cupcakes - can we do this via cupcake culinary tour part 2, city TBD?
- I dont really have much to post about today, and was not planning to post until someone very bored asked if I had an update
- I can integrate harvey balls into every day life

Please click on the above, and just like any other analysis, I welcome comments and will revise accordingly.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stay at Southpark? A Rant About Rent

My South Park Character Wearing an Original Red Beret

I was going to post about my new ideas for photo projects but instead I'll rant about rent because it's on my mind.

After hassling the Brodsky managers, I finally got a lease renewal - with a rent reduction of 12.5%. To me, that figure doesn't seem substantial at all because there are some great deals (one month free off of cheaper rent etc.) going on right now throughout the city and not even Brooklyn(!). Arguably it might be fun to redecorate a new apartment (even in an older, less classy building), buy a TV and familiarize myself with a new neighborhood.

And while I'd like to save on rent, I do like my apartment. The colors work well, the furniture comes from different places - such as my pistachio green ikea couch from 2004, my oak end tables from a furniture shop in NH and my mini book case "stained 7x" my dad made for me in NY, and studio itself is comfortable and casual. The building, called South Park Towers, has a pool and the area is convenient with easy access to public transportation and the park.

My rational self is telling me to pull together some comps by looking around neighborhood buildings (think One Columbus Place/Park Towers South) and to return to negotiate ... question remains ... to move or not to move ... TBD

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Picnic in the Park

As part of the Sarah Sendoff Series, I thought it would be fun to have a picnic in Central Park on a Sunny Spring Sunday. A group of us met promptly at 1pm with food and blankets at 86th and Central Park West.

The weather was almost picnic perfect with sun, a slight breeze and a hint of coolness. We people-watched kids on scooters, park runners and roller bladers and parents and kids throwing around footballs and soccerballs.

And while I've been munching on cake three days in a row now, I didn't hesitate to have a mouthful of the delicious cake Davis brought that took longer than expected to bake. On Friday we had an office May birthday cake celebration with Coldstone's Peanut Butter Playground and Crumbs cupcakes; last night at Danielle's bday, I munched on bite-sized cupcakes. Back to Davis' cake - the not-so secret ingredient he used was buttermilk to keep cake super moist.

Nora brought even more food: turkey, tomatoes, port salut cheese and french bread. Jaimin's vegetable samosas were good of course (Whole Foods). Miriam brought vino, and with that our spread was complete. With all that food, laughter and conversation, it was just fabulous.

And what's a picnic without some pics (portrait style):

(Top to Bottom) Sample Nibblets: Cheesy biscuits; vegetable samosas; chocolate cake (missing molten); cutie clementines
Learning to Juggle, Two Balls at a Time
Nora and I Wearing Matching I Y NY Tees
As an aside, I'm starting to get used to my new pocket cam. I still need to use it a lot more to be even more familiar with it's functionality.

Some Mother's Day Love

Happy Mother's Day!

Through the years, we've grown together and apart, but nevertheless, I'll always love my mom very much.  Here are three old photos and some words to describe our relationship -

Mom and Dad in Ann Arbor, Late 1970s.

Resemblance.  I love this photo, and it was one of the first images I scanned when we first got a decent scanner.  Bud thinks he looks just like Dad and I like Mom.  Whenever we're together there is no question that Bud is Dad's son, and I am Mom's daughter.

Fish Fillet Sandwiches for Lunch (prepared by me in eighth grade)
Food. I love Mom's cooking, and I'm her #1 fan in that regard.  She makes terrific everything and has interesting and good creations like papaya soup.  Her food is so yummy, I often eat leftovers from dinner for breakfast (I like hearty meals).  At the same time, because she has such a sweet tooth (tiramisu and cheesecake), she used to enjoy the sponge cakes I would bake and the almond pudding I would make, ready to be eaten when she came home from work.

In Mexico, Hiking in Acapulco, December 2008.
Active.  We've been working out together for so long.  I remember starting in fourth grade when she worked at HAB (air force base), as early risers, we would wake up at the crack of dawn before 5am to do aerobics.  She's in healthy shape and we do pilates and exercise videos when we get the chance.
* Hmm, I'm still searching for a good M-day's gift, eek, it'll be late!!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Vacay Ideas: A Pic-less, but not Priceless Post

Travelling is fun - it expands my world and it allows me to photograph and observe. Reflecting back to last summer when I went to London and Paris, which generated a good amount of stories, I cant wait to go places this summer. Most have heard the funny stories from last summer, so not sure it's blogworthy or worth mentioning here - I do have them written down on a napkin somewhere. And because we're in recessionary times, I think travelling domestically is not a bad budget idea. This summer (and beyond) there are a few places I have in mind:

(1) Maine: Marissa has kindly offered up some housing in Maine for some time in July. I really want to make this happen because we've been talking about "MAINE!!" for so long. New England is gorgeous during the summer ... and it doesnt get that humid up there. I havent been back to even NH for quite some time.

(2) San Francisco: Need to visit Alyrris and family before August. San Francisco is also one of my favorite places to be in general - but moreso during the summer. Whereelse can you enjoy clear blue sunny skies and a light Northface jacket in the middle of the summer!

(3) Los Angeles: Visit Bud when he graduates. I hope I can make this.

(4) A weekender with Bud: maybe Yosemite? Need a brother-sister weekend sometime and soon.  Some initial thoughts: Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho or Montana.  We would rent a car and drive casually somewhere random but not aimlessly.

(5) Egypt: I've always wanted to go - Nora could act as my tourguide. Tks in advance, pal!!

(6) India: Maybe later in the year. Given how much I love color and yoga, this could be a fun, no brainer spot for me. This trip would be a bit far, and would require some additional planning in advance.

(7) Italy and Spain: I love both Italian and Spanish food and architecture. I'm guessing this won't happen in 2009. Too bad for that, but a post about vacays is not complete unless I mention these two countries.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Sunday Brunch

(L-R, Top to Bottom): jalapeño/habañero hummus; basil hummus; cilantro hummus; bottled mixed hummus; fried something, small baby habanero; fried and fresh cheese side by side
At Gobo, pre-Sorcerer play, Sarah and I were chatting about how easy/cheap it is to make hummus and how hummus can be a good source of protein. With that, we decided to make multiple varieties of hummus at Sunday brunch. We picked up some fresh goodies at Whole Foods and used a rather fancy blender to blend 3 varieties. The habañero pictured above (a bright orange) was purchased because I love its color and kept starring at it at the store (it's small and very cute). The white and lime green jar of tahini infused chickpeas was created mainly for the photo opportunity. Jaimin's fresh cheese, which probably required an entire gallon of milk and a pillowcase!, was delicious as always.

Quick Recap From First Weekend in May

(L-R, Top to Bottom): A House in Aquebogue; A Dirt Path, Windows Vista-Like; More Muddy Paths, Roanoke Winery, Red Barn, a Red Plated Californian 4x4, More Red, Backyard of Winery With Fluffy Clouds

I spent much of Saturday on Long Island, volunteering at an organic farm, Garden of Eve. The task of the day was to plant strawberries, and my friends and I collectively carried that out for a few hours (even implemented assembly line production to maximize efficiency). At one point, I saw a pitchfork and it instantly reminded me of my encounter of being chased throughout the yard with a rake maybe fifteen years ago. Nonetheless, it was bucolic, natural and pretty ... and the best feeling was washing my hands after getting them covered in dirt!
We were mildly rewarded with a yummy lunch of pasta and fresh organic spinach. The spinach was probably the best spinach I've ever had, and I got to bring home with me a huge bagful - a nice souvenir. After completing the task, and because we were already so close to the Long Island wineries, we made a stop at Roanoke Winery, where we split a bottle of red and basked in the slightly cool sun. The slight drizzle that started when we were working went away, and the day turned out to be gorgeous.
Saturday dinner was in Brooklyn, was followed by a post-dinner stroll, and we ended the day chatting on a couch in a coffee/tea shop, very Friends-esque. Apologies to my friends for repeatedly whistling Yael Naim's New Soul, and getting that Macbook Air song stuck in their heads!
Sunday was rain and more rain ... even so I shopped in Chelsea with Erika (Loehmann's, Housing Works, Banana). Purchased a few items, but still need to find some new flats.
Oh, and my friend Nora dropped off scrumptious brownies -- mmm good.