Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Break in Orcutt

I have been having a very nice little vacation at home in Orcutt. Sunday we had my aunts and uncle and cousins over for breakfast.. eggs, salami, my aunt's traditional pear french toast, latkes, bagels, fruit, and I think that's about it.. lots of food, haha. Then for Christmas dinner we had pork roast, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry stuffing, and jello. Some nice baked goodies in between, too, including vanilla candy bark in two varieties (peanut and peppermint), rum cake, Berliner Kranzers, and later we will probably still make some fudge.

My family and I make these Berliner Kranzers every Christmas.
They are sweet and delicate, definitely my favorite Christmas cookie.

This is our tree this year. :)

Also nice seeing some friends....

Fried ice cream with a friend in Old Town Orcutt.

I have about 2 and a half days left until I head back to San Jose so I will try to relax, see some more friends, and be all caught up with work by the time I get back.

Hope everyone else is having happy holidays too! :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Hanukkah! Also, Christmas times...

Just wanted to shine my light for Hanukkah... tonight is the first night!

My dad sent me a Hanukkah gift set in the mail so I could celebrate it from over here. It came with a menorah, some candles, some dreidels, some gelt, and some little handouts explaining each thing, like the history of Hanukkah, some Hanukkah songs, and how to light the candles and play dreidel. My housemate and I are going to play dreidel one of these nights after he has had some practice spinning the top. So, it's going to be a simple but nice Hanukkah.

Meanwhile, everyone's getting into the Christmas spirit. Downtown, there are street musicians playing Christmas songs on flutes and french horns. There's this event that has been going on for the past few weeks called Christmas in the Park, and it's kind of like a carnival mixed with a Christmas display.

There are rides, and popcorn/hot dog stands, and stands selling all kinds of other food... churros, hot chocolate, burgers, Hispanic food, and more.. and also a bunch of Christmas trees, and little dioramas with dolls of various themes, the trees and dioramas designed by different community organizations. Also there were fake snow, lights, and Christmas music in the background.

Loved this gingerbread house!
Pretty trees...

The Nutcracker :)

A choir singing...

And a big tree of lights right at the front!

It's nice to know that San Jose gets into the spirit for Christmas. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, Christmas is all around.

P.S. My final project is finished... check out the finished product if you wish :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

So busy, but here's another video!

So, I'm still wading through finals... and trying to keep up with my second job.... but for my computer class I made another video so I thought I would share it.

I am building a website about medieval literature. I will post the link here when I finish it. It will be featuring all the authors in this video. I will enjoy revisiting all these classic greats.

Another sneak peek:

I can't believe it's just 3 weeks until Christmas. Thank goodness my finals will be over after this week so I will have a little more time to start preparing and enjoying the season.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Hi friends!

I thought this would be a good opportunity to share a video I made for my web design/programming class. It features fun stuff I've done in the bay area so you've probably seen all these pictures before but it's still a nice video and I chose pretty music for it from this jazz soloists cd I like :).

So, enjoy, until next time when I have time to write a review of the book I just finished! :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween & CLA

So, fun week/weekend. At work we had our halloween party and people had fun costumes. I was a penguin.

We also got delicious catered Chinese food, and candy. There was a costume contest and the winner was the guy who dressed up as a revolutionary.

This weekend was the California Library Association General Conference, CLA for short, here in San Jose. I had a great time.

I went to a session on social media, a panel of mystery/crime authors, some lovely receptions where I met some new people, and a little evening amusement called CLA Battledecks which mixed slideshows and improv. I also saw lots of fascinating posters from different companies/libraries and enjoyed perusing the exhibit hall. Great weekend, and I still had time to meet with my study group and finish all my homework.

Here's a picture of a bunch of "swag" or fun exhibit hall freebies I got. Some flyers, bookmarks, pens, post-it notes, candy, a free picture of myself as a "Library Scientist"...

 ...and some books, including a free one I picked out about pirates.

I also bought a book by one of the authors at the panel I attended. She writes crime novels set in Paris, and she actually goes to Paris on a regular basis to do research for her novels. She signed my book for me, too :). I will be reviewing the book here when I finish it. At the suggestion of one of my new conference friends, I think I will occasionally start reviewing books here on my blog, because I really want to get back into reading more and that would give me the motivation to do so.

Happy November!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fun times

So, last weekend I went to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market in San Francisco with my cousin, and it was a really nice day. I got pomegranates, red potatoes, kale and some apples... and with some of my ingredients I made this lovely soup.

It's got kale, potatoes, white cannellini beans, carrot, vegetable broth, a little garlic, onion and salt, zuchinni, and a little shredded cheddar ontop. Definitely a keeper!

We also went inside the ferry building where we made a visit to Miette, a cute little pastry shop where I got an amazing chocolate lavendar macaron...

...and also Blue Bottle for some coffee and cookies.

This weekend, I went to the San Jose Flea Market to search for inspiration for my Halloween costume. As I observed all the fun animal hats, I recalled that they sell a lot of those at anime conventions too... so I decided I'd buy one and be an anime convention attendee. I even have my old badge from 2011 with all the buttons I've been collecting ever since I started going to conventions. Next post I will post a picture.

They had a farmer's market at the flea market too, where I got some more pomegranates, tangerines, and avocados.

After the flea market, I visited Japantown and got some pocky to go with my costume.. and no visit to Japantown is complete without a Hawaiian shave ice.

This time I got blue raspberry and green tea. A little boy and his mom shared my table with me, they were from Campbell and super nice. We talked about legos and farmer's markets.

Pretty relaxing day so far, went to get some things at Whole Foods and just relaxing now. Hope everyone else is having a nice weekend too! :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday night scene

Tonight on my way home from work I remembered that there is a food truck night-- locally referred to as Moveable Feast-- at the Curtner light rail station. A bunch of gourmet/street-food trucks get together and sell every kind of food you could want....

....from sushi, to shrimp, to burritos, to curry, to ice cream, to espresso drinks, to sandwiches of all kinds... and tater tots and french fries. Not just any fries, though. Sometimes there is also a poutine food truck.

I went to Moveable Feast last week looking for Little Chef, but it was not there. Luckily this time it was! My coworkers rave about poutine, so I thought it was about time I tried it, especially because I have two fantastic friends in Canada-- you, Meesh, and also my other friend Christian in Vancouver. :)

What is poutine, the uninitiated may ask? Well....

"A dish of french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. Origin: 1980s, Canadian French, either from French pouding "pudding" or directly from PUDDING."

Now, I don't really get the "pudding" part, but a lot of different countries have different ways of defining pudding....

Anyway, this was what I got to enjoy: the classic poutine with gravy and cheese curds. They also had poutines with shredded short-ribs or duck confit.

It was quite delicious, with a delicately flavored gravy to enjoy with every bite and the perfectly melty cheese curds to enhance it even more. Add a gourmet banana white chocolate and snickerdoodle ice cream cookie sandwich and it was a lovely Friday night meal.

I think I'll start going to Moveable Feast more often! It's really a pretty nice little setup. They put out these red buckets for people to sit on as they eat, and they play music, and if it's cold out, they put out space heaters or bonfires.

Stay tuned to hear about my visit to San Francisco tomorrow :).

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Fall Weekend

This weekend I am celebrating fall. Today my housemate and I went to the Emma Prusch Farm Park Harvest Fair & Exposition. They had a bunch of neat booths, a pumpkin patch, music, and the occasional chicken wandering around. 

This hen and her chicks in front of the pumpkin patch attracted much attention from the kids. We think she was teaching her chicks how to peck for bugs or seeds. :)

Here is a glimpse of the park. It would be really nice to come here some weekend and just enjoy nature with a book and some fruit as a snack.

Here's another chicken. It's fascinating to see the different patterns of feathers that chickens have. This one is almost like a zebra chicken.

I picked out a pumpkin at the fair, and my housemate helped me hollow out the pumpkin so I could make a pumpkin stew like the one I made last year with my family. This one came out just as tasty. Later on we will get 1-2 more pumpkins, so I can make a soup or we can just have one as a jack-o-lantern.

I also went to Walgreens and picked out some Halloween themed pencils for the kids I tutor. They always need pencils to do their homework, so if they are extra good, they get to keep the pencil at the end of the day. :)

Friday, September 28, 2012


Well, tonight I baked my favorite chocolate chip cookies for my co-worker's going-away potluck tomorrow. I have not baked anything in so long, it was nice to get back into it. I just didn't really do much baking over the summer because it was hot out/inside and I didn't really feel like using the oven much, but it is officially fall, so let the baking begin!

I want to make some Halloween cookies too. Maybe I will pick up some fun Halloween shaped cookie cutters next time I go to Sur La Table in Santa Clara.

Kinda forgot to share this picture before, but this is the result of sugar cookies in fun shapes + lots of frosting colors + lots of sprinkles. My Halloween cookies shall be just as festive!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I won a raffle!

Something exciting happened to me last weekend. I went to that neighborhood potluck I mentioned, bringing with me this lovely quinoa salad, and I won a raffle! Everyone who came to the potluck was given a raffle ticket, and my housemate and I each got a ticket.... and with one of the tickets (I received both tickets while he went to sit down, so let's just say the winning ticket was mine, haha) I won a lovely casserole dish from Grocery Outlet full of goodies for an Italian meal.

I won... some dish towels, some organic pasta, some fancy pasta sauce, a bottle of chardonnay, some organic chocolate, some iced coffee (not already iced when I got it, but in a can meant to be iced at a later date), a bottle of olive oil, and the dish, which would be fantastic for a nice, big lasagna or some other hearty casserole. I had been eyeing the prize ever since I arrived, and it was my good fortune that my ticket was called. It was a really nice evening, I got to meet and talk to some of my neighbors and also talked to a local librarian about volunteering over the weekends. Busy, busy, busy.... that's me. Busy, but happy.

This weekend I just did a bunch of studying. I still have to catch up on some homework from last week. Just reading at this point, mostly, so that's a relief. I should probably head to bed soon so I don't start the week off totally tired already!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

DC Trip, Abridged

So, I got a new phone today... and attempted to email myself all the rest of my DC photos but some of them did not go through in time. But, here are the ones that did.

Flamingoes at the National Zoo! I love flamingoes, they are so pretty in pink.

Neat mural near the U Street Metro station! This district is often associated with the Harlem renaissance, a very artistic and creative time, hence the gentleman playing a violin.

A glimpse of the Potomac River while whizzing by on the metro.

The white house, and a stunning view of DC sky. Look at those billowing clouds!

A closer look. It was kind of awe-inspiring to be that close to the white house. I could have gotten even closer, too. There were some ladies protesting on the white house lawn about women's rights. They had songs, too.

A deep fried oreo from the Arlington County Fair. I just couldn't resist. They had deep fried twinkies, too. We also watched a piglet race and just browsed the game offerings-- everything you'd expect from a classic fair/carnival.

So, fun times... guess that's all for now... not pictured are some jaunts to Georgetown and Dupont Circle; a visit to Friend's favorite specialty grocery store, Wegmans; a day at the National Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum; and more National Zoo highlights (lions and pandas and monkeys, oh my).

Hope everyone's having a good weekend! I am off to a neighborhood potluck tonight, maybe... and a much needed trip to the Campbell farmer's market tomorrow.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dolores Park, Revisited

I am still waiting on some pictures from my East Coast trip, but that just gives me an opportunity to talk about my favorite place-- San Francisco.

Dolores Park was pretty much deserted last time I went there with my friend, but when I went there again last weekend with my cousin and her friends, after a visit to Tartine Cafe for lunch and Ritual Coffee for drinks, I saw a whole new side to the park.

This part of the park is affectionately referred to as Hipster Hill. It is a popular hangout for 20-somethings of the hipster variety-- artistic, musical types. Free spirits. When the weather is nice, it's practically like a social event to just come out here, people-watch, relax in the sunshine, and enjoy some pizza, cotton candy, beer, or other sweet treats that vendors walk around and sell. I got a really great vibe from this place. When you are here, you don't really even care what time it is. You could spend a whole afternoon here and just be happy to be present.

Hopefully I'll get a chance soon to bring some of my other friends here, before the summer's over.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Commercial break

You know how when you're watching TV, there are commercials sometimes? Well, this is kind of like that, in the sense that there will be a brief break from our regularly scheduled programming of DC updates to share these amazing Mediterranean stuffed tomatoes with quinoa. My housemate has been growing a whole bunch of big tomatoes in our garden, so it dawned on me that stuffed tomatoes would be a fantastic way to use them. After a quick google search I found this recipe, which was perfect because I just made some quinoa that day.

It can be kind of tricky to hollow out the tomato without cutting through the skin-- I use a paring knife to kind of loosen it up and then my fingers-- but the filling manages to stay inside if you don't cook it longer than about 15 minutes at 375-- just long enough for the tomato to get nice and warm, but not fall apart.

The ingredients work perfectly together: quinoa, olives, artichoke hearts, feta, and a little olive oil. I used different kinds of olives and quinoa, but that's just what I had on hand. I've been eating these all week, and just one cup of cooked quinoa plus the added ingredients can fill up at least 5-6 large tomatoes. Super easy small meal or side dish. Tonight I paired one with some salmon.

The possibilities for stuffed tomatoes are endless, so grab some at a farmers market near you and enjoy! :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

East Coast- Restaurants

Hi! I am back from the East Coast where I had the opportunity to visit some great and interesting  restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Among them:

American City Diner in D.C. for burgers and an outdoor movie,
Crumbs for birthday cupcakes in L'Enfant Plaza (D.C.) (chocolate dulce de leche for me--- and it was so big, I had to finish it the next day),
Graffiato in Chinatown (D.C.) for my birthday (hip Italian-style tapas-- we got the lemon risotto with rock shrimp, the flatbread with pepperoni sauce, lamb, and panna cotta for dessert-- and it was so neat sitting at the bar because you could watch them plating everything and cooking pizzas in this big wood oven),
Busboys and Poets on U Street (D.C.) for a mellow brunch-- I got the Oaxaca omelet (black beans, avocado, pico de gallo, and cheddar-- very tasty),
My Brother's Place for lunch after a visit to the Conservatory and Botanic Gardens (I got a nice chicken pesto panini),
Elephant & Castle after visiting some Smithsonians (where I also got a chicken pesto style panini... what can I say, it's one of my favorites),
Chutzpah (Fairfax, VA) while Friend was getting his hair cut (an authentic New York style restaurant and deli with a Jewish attitude where I had a very tasty pastrami sandwich and potato salad), and...
El Rancho Migueleno (Arlington, VA) for tacos one night (because we couldn't think of anywhere else and didn't want to travel far-- odd ambiance, to say the least-- the lighting was super dark and they were playing this loud South American music while a telanovela played on TV.. and no one else was there.. yeah, a little spooky, haha).

I read about American City Diner on the internet somewhere, and it looked like they were pretty much the only place in D.C. that was still showing outdoor movies at that point in the summer. Plus-- buy dinner and watch a free movie-- can it get any better? We ordered burgers, fries and a milkshake, and enjoyed watching The Hustler (1961). Every night is a different movie, many of them classics. They had really fun decor, too.

In the parking lot, they had a neat mural showcasing a bunch of different Hollywood stars. Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor...

Elvis Presley...

and Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra.

More homage to movie stars inside.. James Dean and Marilyn Monroe on the restroom doors.

They played the movie on a screen in the outdoor deck area so people could watch the movie as they had dinner.

It was fun to see the neon sign all lit up once it got darker by the end of the night, too.

So, needless to say, the East Coast has an awesome food scene! Next time I will share more about the other places I went. :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stanford, revisited

Hey, remember when I went to Stanford last October? Well, last Friday I went back again because my penpal from Hawaii is working there this summer as a kids camp counselor. He is having tons of fun. The day I visited, the kids were getting ready to have a dance that night, and today they had a pizza party. Fun times for them.

Anyway, after my friend and I had lunch at Pizza My Heart in downtown Palo Alto, we walked around the Stanford campus a bit. We went up to the observation deck of the Hoover Tower, too, which was closed last time I visited, I think.

Hoover Tower is a 285 feet (87 m) structure on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California. The tower is part of the Hoover Institution, a research center founded by then-future U.S. president Herbert Hoover. Hoover Tower, inspired by the cathedral tower at Salamanca,[1] was finished in 1941, the year of Stanford's 50th anniversary. It was designed by architect Arthur Brown, Jr.[2]

Remember that neat sculpture I took a picture of last time? Well, there's that sculpture, from up high in the Hoover Tower. It's a lot smaller from up there.

I also took a picture of a fountain.

Here is that fountain from up close. Fountains are so nice.

Here are a bunch of the other buildings at Stanford.

My friend took a picture of me up in the tower, too. We had a tour guide take a group of us up there in a little elevator.

So, that was a fun day. It has been too hot outside to go out and do anything so I have just been working on my final papers. I should take a day off tomorrow but I am not sure what I would do. Maybe I will think of something. :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Obon Festival; Visit to Santa Maria

Well, I think I'm basically over my cough/fatigue thing I had for a few days... so I'm finally getting around to updating.

The Obon Festival was nice. I went with a friend of mine and some of his friends. There was food, there were games, there were decorations, there were drum shows, there were candies, and also Hawaiian shave-ice, but I didn't take a picture of it because it was really piled high and I did not want any to fall off while I tried to maneuver my camera to get a shot strategically-- but, just imagine, sweet flavored ice fluff like snow (I got cotton candy and banana flavors), and also vanilla ice cream in the middle of that. It was perfect for a hot day. 

Here's the inside of the food tent. There were a lot of choices. My friends and I shared some teriyaki beef sticks. 

This is the Buddhist temple that hosts the festival each year. It has a neat looking roof.

There were pretty paper lanterns hanging up high. 

My friends and I also looked around at some shops in Japantown (the festival was in Japantown) and this is the bag from some candies I got. The candies they have over there have such colorful bags and wrappers.

The candies are supposed to be flavored like various kinds of soft drinks. So, that's fun. They kinda had this "carbonated" texture because they used this powder in the candies that is the same powder found in "pop rocks." 

When I got home, it was great to see my family, and our cat Mindy. I don't know if I've ever shared a picture of Mindy before. She's very cuddly and friendly. She likes to roll around in the sand outside and then clean herself and then eat or cuddle on the couch and take naps.

Sometimes she sleeps in kind of funny positions. 

I made some plum muffins at home because there were a few plums still left from the plum tree. They turned out nicely. 

This is the cat that comes and visits my housemates and I. She kind of lives in our backyard but she is not really our cat. We just feed her and brush her, and she is nice. 

Next time I'll share about my most recent outing to Palo Alto where I met a pen pal I've had for about 10 years! It was a fun day.