Friday, January 14, 2011

Belated resolutions for 2011

(posted here in order to make them real)

1) Travel more.

Last year was a banner year for me in this area (10 trips, 2 of those long-haul international ones), but I'm still not feeling like this is enough. Maybe there is a magic number that creates the perfect equilibrium between being home and being away, but so far, I haven't hit it. And actually, I kind of hope I never do. The day I am not up for a trip is the day I am not alive.

2) Speaking of home, change where that is.

I love L.A., but I think I'm done with it. I've been here for 12 years straight (this is alarming), and I'm bored and need a challenge. One of the things I learned from my Japan trip is how exhilarating (and sometimes, frustrating) it is to be in a place that you don't know so well, figuring it out as you go along and reinventing yourself in the process. In any event, I want that and I want it BAD. I've got some possible solutions in regards to this, and I'll reveal more as they become more concrete.

3) Strengthen my relationships with the people I care about.

The first two resolutions seem to counter this one, especially since most of you know how awful I am at staying in touch on a regular basis. (sorry) But, this is a perennial resolution because it's important. I tend to get caught up in my own head too often and really, it's the other people in my life who keep me balanced and happy. To be more specific, the people who matter to me know me well and somehow still manage to love me for who I am. They are positive forces in my life and will support me completely despite numerous missteps and errors, and I will give all my love to them in return. Full stop.

4) Think less and create more.

There was a time when I spent every waking moment in front of a typewriter (yes, that long ago), writing and editing stories and essays until every word and sentence and paragraph was perfect. A few years later, I dedicated all my energy and resources to learning how to photograph pictures as I saw them in my head. After that, I lost hours and days while my eyes were glued to a computer screen, figuring out how to make words and images come together in a meaningful graphic package. In each of those times, I was in a constant state of creative flow and spent the least amount of time thinking myself into a corner. And I was happy because I had a purpose in those moments. Here's to finding that again.

5) Get enough sleep, drink more water, and continue to eat meals that also qualify as food porn.

I joked that the first half of last year was like the foodie version of having only six months to live. This was in anticipation of the austerity measures that I thought were going to be necessary in the wake of graduate school. But, a funny thing happened--I didn't stop. Sure, I wasn't going to Providence every night, but I was finding ways to make meals memorable. Whether that just entailed a perfect drizzle of honey on a roasted fig at home or a multi-course splurge at an actual restaurant, I made it work and will continue to make it work into 2011.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


This past Saturday, I checked out the Renegade Craft Fair at the California Market Center downtown. In addition to a vintage typewriter key pendant, I picked up a poster by graphic designer, Frank Chimero, which really resonated with me in so many ways:

I love the style and colors (it's pretty much the palette of my bedroom, where it already hangs), and the clever design and message is spot on. Sometimes, I really do have to remind myself that the only thing keeping me from my ideal career/life is actually ME.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Note: Hiking, on hold

For the past several weekends, I've been in the midst of moving, so I haven't had a chance to embark on any new hiking adventures, but I hope to start up again soon, especially since the June Gloom is keeping the temperatures pretty moderate without too much sun exposure.

The hike that's next on my list is in Griffith Park (the one that starts in lush Ferndell and ends at the Observatory). I saw it (along with The Trails cafe) featured on "Visiting ...With Huell Howser" and have been wanting to hike it ever since. As a teaser, a couple of weeks ago, I stopped at the cafe and had a huge slice of apple pie, which didn't wow me (not sweet enough and a little dry), but I still want to go back and try the other pastries (I hear the scones are great) and food items (lots of veggie options, including an avocado sandwich that sounds amazing). The location is very pretty and peaceful (as long as there aren't too many screaming children), and I like the idea of sitting on the picnic benches enjoying some nouvelle snack bar food under the trees.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cannoli Watch: Masa

I had heard so much about the chocolate croissant bread pudding at Masa that I was determined to have it. However, after consuming lots of cuban rolls and a couple slices of the Chicago-style pizza (see Must Try), I couldn't even bear to think about having more bread. But, me being me, I still wanted to have a sweet cap to my meal, especially since the other dessert on the menu was a chocolate chip cannoli (!):

This cannoli was no bijou reimaging; it was 5-6 inches of the real deal. The ricotta filling was very good and not too heavy (for ricotta), and while I wish there were more chocolate chips to add a little texture and more interest to the filling, chocolate was fully represented in the generous glazing. I really liked this and it definitely whets my appetite for Masa's hallowed bread pudding.

Must Try: Chicago-Style Pizza at Masa

I went to Masa on Friday night, and the Chicago-style pizza has been on my mind as strong undercurrent since then. I have shared my experience with as many people as possible, extolling the tastiness of the cornmeal crust, which only got better after reheating on the second day. I have had daydreams about the garlicky tomato sauce and the layer of cheese peeking out from underneath. And I think that if I decided to ever really let myself go, I couldn't think of a better way to do it than to eat this pizza everyday. (Actually, the best way would probably be a weekly routine of Masa, Pie 'N Burger, Honey's Kettle, Hurry Curry, and Cici's.)

I had the California Vegetable pizza, which had Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and next time, I'd like to try the Mushroom and Olive. I suppose it's a good thing that I don't eat beef/pork, since I can only imagine how filling the meat pizzas are. The key is to try not to eat too much before the pizza. This proves to be a bit of a feat, since it takes 40 minutes, during which you have to resist various appetizers, salads and freshly-baked Cuban rolls (which thankfully, don't come automatically.) Good luck with that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hike #7: Echo Mountain via the Sam Merrill Trail

Two weekends ago, I (along with TB) went on the toughest hike yet (at least, for me): Echo Mountain via the Sam Merrill Trail in Altadena. This hike is about 2.5 miles one-way up a sunny and switchback-heavy trail with a total elevation gain of about 1,400 feet:

When you get to the top of Echo Mountain, you can explore the ruins of a turn of the century (1900s) resort:

...and the railway that took guests up to it:

Before descending or continuing the three miles further to the top of Mount Lowe, you can read both the historic and intepretive signs scattered around the site and relax in several shady picnic areas:

My favorite part was this:

It's not everyday that you get to hear your own yodeling echoing throughout the San Gabriel Mountains:

One of the best things about doing a strenuous hike is that you really have carte blanche to eat as much as you want for lunch. We did just that at the plain-looking Pie 'N Burger, a Pasadena institution. I had been meaning to go there for quite a while since I found out that they did turkey burgers (I don't eat regular burgers) and that it was mostly counter seating (I love eating at counters!)

After 3 hours of hiking, my burger definitely hit the spot. TB said the burger reminded him of a Big Mac, but better. (I don't think I can even remember what a Big Mac tastes like, but I'm assuming that they would be similar because of the Thousand Island dressing.) Anyway, the showstopper (and possible heartstopper) was the Dutch Apple Pie: crumbly cinammon topping, warm and not too sweet apple filling, buttery crust and generous scoops of French Vanilla ice cream. (TB got the rhubarb pie.) In any event, they have more than a dozen kinds of pie (depending on what's in season) at Pie 'N Burger, and I can't wait to try every single one.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hikes #5 & #6: Franklin Canyon Park Hastain Trail and Elysian Park Wildflower Trail

Two weeks ago, I went to Franklin Canyon Park to try out the Hastain Trail. Unfortunately, I didn't complete this trail. All I'll say regarding this is don't ever try to do a hike when you're hungry, thirsty and hot with no way of fixing any of those conditions. It wasn't a total loss as I still got a good hour of hiking in (most of it spent getting to the actual trailhead since I parked in the upper park as opposed to the lower park.)

In any event, last weekend's hike at Elysian Park was much more successful. The weather was cloudy and mild, plus I was much better prepared. As someone who is supposedly very knowledgeable about L.A., I'm ashamed to say that this was my first time in the actual park (of course, I've been to many, many Dodgers games) and that I had no idea how nice it is, despite being so close to the rest of the city:

I'll definitely come back especially since I want to check out the small arboretum on the grounds.