Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 in Review: Design Work

I spent a lot of 2008 kvetching about how busy I was with so many projects, and I thought I should highlight the design work that I am particular proud of:

Logo for my old employer:
This was the last thing I did there as a staff employee that I was really proud of, and it spawned a couple projects, including several direct mail pieces, a binder and four banners.

Art direction for the Green Issue of California Real Estate:
It had been my dream for awhile to art direct a magazine and I got my chance when my old boss asked me to design this special issue. My favorite spreads include:

I really like the colors for this holiday card for my current employer:
I just noticed that I repeated myself in this piece...ha!...I promise this is the last time I juxtapose transparent leaves over a tonal geometric background. Anyway, you can't tell from this image, but the finish is matte with a UV spot gloss coating on the leaves and logo. (I love this coating combo!)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Out of the Past

I was talking to my best friend E the other day and he brought up something from the past that made me smile.

E and I have known each other for quite some time and went to the same junior high and high school. Though we weren't particularly close back then, usually our last names put him sitting right behind me during homeroom or other classes with alphabetical seating arrangements.

Anyway, E told me that something he's always remembered was that I once showed him this language I had made up and it really impressed him that I had even gone to the trouble of conjugating the verbs. I had totally forgotten about that! Gosh, what a little nerd I was (and still am)!

I'm going to raid my high school files to see if my petit language is still around. If not, I'm sure it will be fun to read all the stories and poems and other random scribblings. I was so in my own little world back then.

Until I report back, here's something that I do remember (it actually got an honorable mention in an LAUSD poetry contest...the theme was "Discovery"):

An Accident and a Discovery

An accident and a discovery

He saw it no other way

A new talent was found

For no-talent Jim Gray

The slip of the hand

The loss of a life

The fresh scent of blood

On his broken-in knife

Morbid thoughts unleashed

From his no-talent mind

A killer he is

What a wonderful find

Meticulously slashing

His newest ambition yet

The unassuming corpse

Someone he never met

No talent should be wasted
Says no-talent Jim Gray
Especially when you're so bored

And haven't any pay.

I wrote this as a sophomore, and I was pretty dark in my thoughts back then. Most of the winning poems had to do with discovering yourself, beauty, knowledge, etc. and there I was with a poem about discovering serial killer tendencies. I'm actually surprised my English teacher didn't send me to counseling.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Much like the rug that "really tied the room together" in The Big Lebowski, I think my newly acquired dresser really makes my studio apartment feel more like a home:
It's not perfect (there are quite a few scuffs and an actual chunk of wood missing), but I love the styling and because of its imperfections, I got it at a bargain price (for a vintage Lane dresser) on Craigslist, delivery included. Here's a close-up:
The carved-wood drawer pulls are so cool! They add a sculptural quality to the piece that is very reminiscent of Art Nouveau.

Photo notes: The phones are part of my collection and are not plugged in (though I wish they all were.) The photo collages are part of a series I did for one of my final assignments. And the Porcupine pendant has been changed into a table lamp to better effect.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Holiday Card

This year, I wrote a little holiday poem and designed a card around it:
Click here for the larger version.

Here's the text of the poem:

Hope it's warm where you are
That your loves aren't too far
That you get gift cards galore
And tons of swag you adore
And that you have a more than memorable night.

Hope you have yummy treats aplenty
That you order peppermint mochas in venti
Hope you have sugar with your spice
And remember that being naughty can be nice
And let yourself live with all your might.

Hope the new year brings out the best
That you don't have to face another test
That you can to sleep in peace
That all your worries will cease
And that world again will feel right.

Hope we can see each other more
Hope we can rock it to the core
Hope I can give you what you need
Hope you can give me the same, indeed
And I hope that above all your heart stays light.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Mini pumpkin bundt cakes, chocolate peppermint cupcake, carrot cake cupcake & mini snowman vanilla chocolate cupcake from Akasha. I'm so going to explode this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Resolved, Reckoned

Here's a recap of my 2008 resolutions:

Resolved, that I will do my best to exude positive energy.

For the most part, I think this is true. I've met a lot of cool people this year, and I don't think I could have done that with a closed, negative attitude. Let me know if you think I haven't been generally positive this year.

Resolved, that I will be in bed before midnight on worknights.
This is definitely one that will have to carry over into next year.

Resolved, that I will be on time to work, leave to take my lunch break and leave on time unless I take overtime.

Resolved, that I will not wait until the last minute to do my work and homework assignments.
Ugh... I'm still recovering from the allnighter I had pull for this quarter's final project. So, here's another one that I can file in the "better luck next year" pile.

Resolved, that I will reach out to friends and family when stressed and not withdraw inwards.
I've definitely done better with this one and have worked to strengthen/reconnect ties to most of the people I love. I will continue to work on this throughout 2009.

Resolved, that I will find a physical way to blow off steam.
In addition to the purchase of my exercise bike (which has gotten somewhat regular use, though not as often as I'd like), I've started to take Pilates Plus classes, which are definitely kicking my ass. I'm also planning to take some more dance classes, since I've definitely come to realize that dancing just makes me happy.

Resolved, that I will actually do the things I put on my calendar.
I've been pretty good with this one, considering I've had a lot of chances to flake with a very busy schedule consisting of numerous work, school and social events.

Resolved, that I will go abroad this year.
As you know, I went to Paris this year, and now, I want to either go back to Barcelona or crack Japan next fall. We'll see...

Resolved, that I will make my home an inviting and comfortable place.
I've been successful in creating a cozy and well-lit space in my main living area and have definitely focused on keeping things somewhat tidy. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I finally bought a mid-century vintage dresser after more than a year of searching Craigslist, and it definitely pulls everything together. Now, I just have to make my workspace more functional.

Resolved, that I will pay down at least 15% of my credit card debt.
As I mentioned in the midyear update, I had already reached this goal and had revised it 60%. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I won't be able to make that number. However, by the end of the year, I will have paid off 40% of my credit card debt, which isn't too bad. Next year, it should all be gone.

Resolved, that I will write in my blog more regularly.
I managed to post at least once a month, with the exception of November. I do want to continue to blog because I find it very therapeutic and fun. I think what I need to do is make my postings more casual, less composed and shorter in order to knock down any mental blogging barriers.

Overall, I think I did pretty well with my 2008 resolutions. It's actually helpful to post the resolutions because I don't want to let anyone (including myself) down at the end of year. For example, in the case of the dresser, I really put my search into overdrive when I realized I had only a month to find one. I'm working on my 2009 ones and now know what makes a good resolution: complete buy-in and measurability. So, you have to really want to make the change and you have to able to quantify any progress.

How did you do on your 2008 resolutions?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


There are three areas within Interior Design that I'm considering specializing in: Lighting Design, Historic Preservation/Adaptive Reuse, and Exhibition Design/Environmental Graphics. I've already had a chance to try a little bit of lighting fixture design (see previous post), but recently I was able to explore a little bit of Exhibit Design with my first assignment in my Design Communication II class:

I chose to design an exhibit on Saul Bass' poster and title sequence designs, since he one of my favorite graphic designers. In addition to the perspective drawing above, I also had to produce a floor plan, sections, elevations and an axonometric drawing for the exhibit. I'm very happy with how it came out, particularly since I think my drafting/drawing skills have improved since I started the program. I guess that is the whole point of school... you're supposed to get to better. (Glad I'm not wasting my money.)

In any event, I'm now starting to work on my final project for the class, which is to design a two-story house, based on a singular concept. I'm excited because I get to try my hand at a reflected ceiling plan, which is the other part of lighting design. Also, this is the first time I've gotten to design a whole residence, which is both challenging and exhilarating. I hope it all works out.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Images from Paris

I got back from Paris on Tuesday afternoon, and I'm still trying to get normalized (check out the timestamp on this post.) In any event, here are some photo highlights from my trip.

Cite Metro Station (it really did have this greenish cast):

Golden light on the Champs Elysees:

Statue of Charles de Gaulle:

A different view of the Eiffel:

Jeff Koons exhibit at Versailles (Hall of Mirrors):

La Defense from the top of the Arc de Triomphe:

A favorite pit stop - Laduree:

Musee D'Orsay:

Bronze statues on Notre Dame (doesn't the one figure look like he's surfing?):

Centre Pompidou:

Gorgeous stained glass in Sainte Chapelle:

At the Tuileries:
More posts to come...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hollywood Bowl Nights: John Williams

Just spent the first part of the John Williams concert getting all misty-eyed and sentimental. For someone who is as fanatic about film scores as I am, seeing John Williams conduct his own amazing music is just ridiculously transcendent. So far, we've heard themes from the Olympics, Hook, Close Encounters and Indiana Jones. Coming up is special guest Stanley Donen, who directed some of my favorite movie musicals. What a wonderful night!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


This past weekend, I drove all the way to Glendale to visit two places I've been meaning to go to for awhile: the Americana at Brand and the Target in the Glendale Galleria.

Despite having a degree in Urban and Regional Studies and having had the idea that malls are bad for cities (and perhaps bad for the soul) constantly drilled into my brain, I actually like going to malls. Being a Southern California native, it is very comforting for me to walk into one, wherever I may be. I didn't mention it at the time, but when I was in B.Aires, I spent time at two malls in between doing all the cultural stuff: the tony Patio Bullrich and my favorite, Abasto, a nice adaptive reuse of the gorgeous former central produce market. Abasto also has a well-designed modern food court, where I was able to try Argentine fast food and soak up all food branding. (One day, I will write about my love for food courts.)

In any event, regarding the Glendale Galleria, combining a mall with another thing I love, Target, is a stroke of genius. I've never been a big fan of the Galleria's design (both inside and out), and I'm still not a fan, but because it has a three-story Target, it automatically gets more points. (My favorite Target/mall combination is the Westfield Topanga... Target, H&M, puppies, Nordstrom, awesome food court, natural light, free parking, Shoe Pavilion and a steak from the Farm all in one place!)

Regarding the Galleria's next-door neighbor, the Americana at Brand, let me first say that I like its sister, the Grove, much better. For me, the developer, Rick Caruso, took a little of the charm and coziness of the Grove away when he increased the scale and open space at the Americana. For sure, the Americana is much more integrated into the local surroundings than the Grove is, which is good since it's already located in a thriving commercial business district, but perhaps because it is juxtaposed with the more real street retail of Brand, it just feel more sterile and fake. Whereas with the Grove, because it is somewhat contained, you do feel like you're being separated from reality a bit and are able to more easily buy into the illusion.

The only highlight of my Glendale trip was the Beard Papa stand at the Americana, where I was able to try what is now my number 1 filling choice, strawberry, along with the former number 1, chocolate. I might go back, if only to walk around Target with a puff in my hand and mouth, but I doubt it since a Beard Papa is opening up in my neighborhood soon!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beyond the keys

Since you're probably sick of looking at those keys (I know for a fact that a few of you are), here's a photo of my actual car (haven't had a chance to take more detailed shots):

When you get a new MINI or any new car for that matter, they tell you not to go too crazy until after the 1,000 mile mark. Since I decided to drive up to a wedding in Santa Clara just a week and a half after taking ownership of one, I didn't have to wait that long to break 1,000. And seriously, now my car seems to ripen with responsiveness every day that passes and I'm loving it more and more. Plus, I'm starting to settle into it more comfortably. I'm freely experimenting with the ergonomic positions and my right arm is starting to remember that the window switch is its responsibility. My left thumb now knows the steering wheel stereo controls by touch and I'm starting to fumble less with the key fob. I am definitely starting to feel more at one with it whilst driving.

And probably more importantly, I care about it's cleanliness. (My old car was always dirty and messy.) I've already been to the car wash several times and even made sure to get a punchcard. I've also bought cleaning supplies for on-the-fly bug removal (ugh, didn't realize that that was a pun until I wrote it, sorry) and am constantly scanning the exterior for dirt and bird crap.

I even care about the gas I put into it. Since I'm supposed to pump premium, I went online to find out which one was the best. While there is a lot of debate, there is general agreement that Chevron and Shell premium are pretty good and at the moment, I'm just doing Chevron, which I can normally find at a pretty good price (relatively speaking, of course.)

The next step for me is to learn how to use the manual shifting option (via paddle or stick shifting) to get the most performance out of my MINI. (I think I've been watching Top Gear on BBC America too much lately!)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Keys to the future

Great news: I got my MINI last night.
Not-so-great news: I'm home sick today.

After the excitement of picking up and driving home my MINI last night, I woke up this morning feeling awful with a slight sore throat. I've been working hard and have been a bit overscheduled lately so I guess that me getting rundown is no big surprise. However, I wish I could be zipping around town today with my new car, instead of taking photos of the one reminder I have of it in my house (apart from all the paperwork):

I wrote a post when I was in Buenos Aires, titled Keys to the past, and now here's the bookend. The new MINIs have that fancy stop and start push button ignition system, hence the huge electronic key. I'll definitely have to get use to that and all the other bells and whistles that come with my car. I am definitely a long way from having to manually roll up my windows and turn off my A/C for extra power.

In any event, I am starting to feel a bit better and will probably venture out to run some light errands tonight and hopefully take more pictures.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shark is my co-pilot

Saw this at IKEA and I had to have it for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, which kicks off tomorrow. Yay!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

L.A. Macaron Matchup Part 3: Cafe du Village

The macarons I bought from Cafe du Village on Larchmont are supposedly from some place called Le Dore de Stephane in France, but I have my doubts since they taste so fresh and amazing and I just can't believe that they survived the shipping. In any event, these 100% natural (note the lack of artificial colors) macarons are very different than the ones I've tried so far. First of all, they need to be refrigerated due to the mousse-like filling. Second, the natural-colored cookie part was light and airy without any hint of chewiness. Third, these are more like miniature pastry than cookie.

They come in boxes of 6 with two of each of the featured flavors for the day. Today, they were strawberry, coffee and lime. At first, I was disappointed by the flavor selection since I really wanted a chocolate one, but when I bit into the strawberry, any disappointment was replaced by delight. The filling was exactly like strawberry cheesecake mousse, and while I love chocolate, you all should probably know that my favorite single ice cream flavor is strawberry. (I actually love neapolitan, but most people consider that a cop-out.) Anyway, the strawberry is amazing, the coffee was good (though I realize now that I don't like coffee-flavored things), and the lime was refreshing and tart.

These for me stand apart from the other two in execution, taste and just overall deliciousness. I only wish that I had a choice in what I get. I don't really want to pay for flavors I don't like (especially since these were the most expensive) and I do want a chocolate one. I was going to do a ranking of all the macarons I've had so far, but I think I'm going to try Boule's before I do that.

L.A. Macaron Matchup Part 2: La Maison Du Pain

I've read that La Maison Du Pain prides itself on interpreting French baking faithfully, so I thought it would be perfect for my macaron tasting crawl. In terms of presentation, when I walked in, I didn't notice the macarons at first since they were in bowls on top of the counter all mixed together. That makes sense, since they aren't the featured offering there. (I did notice the huge pain au chocolat* in the display case, though, and proceeded to make that my lunch.) Along with the pain au chocolat, I left with chocolate, coffee, pistachio and lemon macarons. (Sorry no pictures... I eat them too fast!)

Compared to the ones at Paulette, these macarons were more subtle in flavor, but more substantial in texture. The cookie part had more of the traditional almond flavor and wasn't as doughy (I'm thinking now that Paulette's might have been slightly underbaked), and the ganache wasn't overly sweet. The chocolate flavor was solid and the lemon flavor was just right, but I really didn't like the coffee flavor because I didn't think it was sweet enough. (Then again, I put tons of sugar in my coffee.) My favorite flavor was the pistachio, which I loved for the same reason I liked the marzipan of Paulette's Sweet Wedding Almond... it just seems to fit perfectly with the idea of an 18th century tea cookie.

So far, I prefer the execution of the La Maison du Pain macarons, but I do like the creativity and presentation of the Paulette ones. I'll give a full ranking after the third stop.

*La Maison du Pain's pain au chocolat is now one of my favorites... not too crunchy, but very flaky and buttery. I ate it in my car and it didn't make too much of a mess. The only thing I wasn't completely on board with is the use of chocolate chips. I normally prefer a piece of dark Callebaut or Valhrona chocolate inside, but the chocolate chips they used were good. I'm sure that it's much easier to get a more even distribution of chocolate throughout the pastry with chocolate chips.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

L.A. Macaron Matchup Part 1: Paulette

While researching patisseries for my Paris trip, I noticed that macarons were mentioned quite often and so I decided to try some in L.A. in order to have a point of comparison when I visit Laduree, which is where they were created. Up until yesterday (Friday), I had never actually had a French macaron*, despite seeing them in Boule many times. I guess they just didn't look appealing to me, mainly because I thought they were like hard Italian cookies. Thank goodness I found out otherwise at the first place I tried: Paulette.

Paulette is probably the only place in the L.A. area that exclusively serves macarons. Located in Beverly Hills, the space is very sleek in glossy architectural white, and it's very obvious that they are trying to be the Sprinkles of macarons, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Regarding my order, since I was a newbie, I decided to get a range of flavors: Chocolate Coconut, Caribbean Chocolate, Strawberry, Sweet Wedding Almond, New Orleans Praline, and Violet Cassis. I normally don't like fruity cookies, but I thought that there was a possibility that fruit might excel in this presentation style.

I tried the Caribbean Chocolate first to be safe since I didn't want a bad flavor to prejudice me against the macaron forever. It was light in texture, slighty chewy and doughy and very rich tasting. I could have eaten ten of these. That first experience spurred me on to practically inhale three more: Chocolate Coconut, New Orleans Praline and Violet Cassis. I really liked the praline but wished the chocolate coconut was more chocolatey and I have to admit it was a bit hard for me to swallow the cassis. It was like trying to eat black currant preserves straight from the jar -- too strong and jammy a flavor for the delicate texture of the macaron. The Strawberry flavor was a much more subdued fruit flavor and I thought worked much better, though still a little too fruity for my taste. The light rose-colored Sweet Wedding Almond, to me, was the best fit. The macaron is such an elegant pastry and almost belongs to another time, and marzipan is very much an Old World flavor.

While I have nothing to compare these with yet, I'd have to say that I definitely love the whole macaron concept. We'll see how Paulette's execution holds up as I sample more versions both in L.A. and in Paris. This weekend, I'm going to try two other places: Cafe du Village, which imports theirs straight from France, and possibly La Maison Du Pain, which doesn't necessarily have them all the time, but I'll take any excuse to visit there for the first time.

*French macarons are not the coconut clusters that they share a name with. Instead, they are like super fancy cookie sandwiches, consisting of two domed meringue-like halves and a sweet ganache filling, with endless flavor possibilities.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Self Esteem

The creative process can be quite an experience for me, especially on larger projects. Many times, it consists of minutes of pure elation and hours of effortless flow alternating with days and weeks of almost crippling low self esteem and panic. Since I'm constantly juggling different projects, I'm often also dealing with overlapping cycles, which will explain why I can be happy and sad at the same time. For the days when I get a double or triple dose of the bad stuff, I found the "You're Loved Self-Esteemizer" poster from TimeOut NYC:

Though there are some NYC-centric things, it still works fairly well for those neurotic days when I find myself thinking I'm a hack. (And yes, I know this is partly meant to be a tongue-in-cheek Stuart Smalley-esque gag.) Plus, since I'm currently working on a magazine, I'm finding myself even more obsessed than usual with cool graphic publication layouts.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Awaiting Transport

I wasn't expecting to see much movement when I checked my Mini's status this evening, so I was surprised to see this:
Finding out that it's been actually built sent a little jolt of happiness and excitement through me. Not to sound too much like a PSA against teen sex, but waiting makes it that much more special.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In 12 weeks...

... I'll be sitting on a flight to Paris!
A couple of weeks ago, my friend, TM, and I were hanging out (confession: we had a Sex and the City brunch and movie outing) and I casually mentioned how I would love to go on a trip to Paris, but that I should probably save my money. To which she replied, "Don't save your money, go on a trip with me!" And seriously, that was all I needed. After booking our hotel (in the Latin Quarter) last week, we went all in and got our plane tickets. Now it's official... we're really going and we are SO going to eat every pastry in sight, including my favorite pain au chocolat.

Anyway, I think we will see the major stuff (Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Champs Elysee, Musee D'Orsay, Notre Dame, Versailles, etc.), but if there is anything off the beaten track or any restaurants that you'd like to recommend, please feel free to post your tips in the comments.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In eight weeks...

... I'll be the owner of a new Oxygen Blue Mini Cooper!
Even though I should be fully concentrating on finishing my final project for my Color Theory class, I drove down to Long Beach Mini today, put down a deposit and ordered a custom Mini Cooper. This was after I went to Nick Alexander Mini last night and was offered a car which would be available in a week, but with more than what I wanted, plus quite a bit of a mark-up. (This was despite having an inside connection.) Anyway at that point, I decided that I was only going to pay for exactly what I wanted and no more than MSRP. Long Beach Mini only charges MSRP for their Minis and a couple people I know say their service department is the best in the area.

I didn't load the car with a ton of extras, just a few carefully chosen options and finishes... and one perhaps ridiculous splurge: the Cold Weather Package, including heated seats, heated washer jets and heated side mirrors. I know, I know... I live in L.A., where the weather couldn't be any better. But I'm a wimp when it comes to L.A.'s many cold mornings and nights, and the heated side mirrors and washer jets will be a godsend when I'm late for work and don't have time to wipe my windshield and side mirrors for visibility. Plus, since I'm getting what is essentially a base model, I wanted to have some element of fun luxury.

In any event, two months is not a long time to wait for something I've wanted for six years. In fact, I bet it'll be fun counting down the days and tracking my Mini through its various stages of production and shipping. The only thing that might put a damper on things is if my current car falls apart before then. It's in such bad shape, both inside and out, that I'm probably just going to donate it to charity for the tax write-off. But it's definitely served me well for the past 9 years. Here's hoping my new car lasts even longer!

Okay, now I'm really going to have to get to work, but before I go, should I get a vanity plate? And if so, what should it say?

Friday, June 13, 2008

I don't have any cash, but I have cupcakes

Last Tuesday, I was driving home from a class potluck for which I brought mini cupcakes along with brownies* from Big Sugar Bakeshop (see my initial review). While I was stopped at the exit ramp off the 10 freeway at Western Avenue, despite my protesting gestures, a homeless guy started to wash my windows. (They still do that? I thought I was reliving a bad joke from the 80s and 90s.) Anyway, when he was done, he obviously asked for some cash, and that was where I got a brainwave. I rolled down my windows a little and asked if he would like some of my leftover cupcakes instead. Resigned, he accepted them, and as I drove away, I saw him start to eat them. I wonder if he liked them.

*Big Sugar Bakeshop's brownies are amazing and I think they are definitely better than my former top brownie spot, The Farm of Beverly Hills. In contrast to The Farm's brownies, they are lighter but just as chocolately and have yummy flavors. I got four different kinds, each split into four: Girl Scout Thin Mint, Peanut Butter, Oreo, and Chocolate Chip. All hit the spot in a really good way. So, while Big Sugar isn't my number one cupcake spot (though their Mexican Chocolate cupcake is one of my favorites), I'd have to say that it is definitely my top brownie spot.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Resolved Revisited

A friend of mine recently asked how I was doing on the resolutions I posted here in January. I started to write him an e-mail on my progress, but then I thought that this would make a good blog post update. So here goes:

Resolved, I will do my best to exude positive energy
In general, I do feel positively about my life, even in spite of the crazy hours, tremendously stressful changes and upsetting personal setbacks. Everyday, I read some news feature about regular middle-class people who are struggling to get by, working overtime to pay for gas, torching their soon to be foreclosed homes, resorting to food stamps and taking "staycations." I am not rich, but I'm fairly comfortable, with any financial hiccups resulting from actions that are my own fault (i.e. Target, multi-course fancy dinners, general budget busting, etc.) Indeed, most of the stress I experience comes from choices that I have made and will continue to make (i.e. going to school, doing freelance work, and aggressively paying off my debt.) Regarding the energy I actually exude, K recently got an 8-week Doberman puppy, Django, and it has definitely made me more conscious of that. If I'm unsure or skittish, Django senses it right away and reacts appropriately. (More on Django later) Anyway, at my best, I am outwardly friendly and happy, but at my worst (late nights and negative procrastination), I am definitely a little bit more closed and don't have the energy to really put myself out there. I'm still working on getting enough sleep and not procrastinating. (see below)

Resolved, I will be in bed before midnight on work nights
Ha! I was good for a month or so on this one, but then I fell off the wagon sometime in March, in the midst of time-intensive drafting homework. Plus, I'm still getting used to the flow of the intersection of school, new job and freelance work, so I'm lucky if I get to bed before 1:30 a.m. (My dirty secret is that I'm usually just vegging out at that time, too burnt out to do anything except mindless life planning and organization.) I am getting better, plus I am taking the summer quarter of school off, so after next Tuesday, I'll only have two things to worry about.

Resolved, I will be on time to work, leave to take my lunch and leave on time unless I take overtime
This one has changed a bit since I'm now at a different company and as an exempt employee, don't get overtime. Still, despite the implied fluidity of my working hours, I always feel better when I come in when everyone else does and unfortunately, I struggle with getting to work at that time, most of which has to do with going to bed late and not being a morning person.

Resolved, I will not wait until the last minute to do my work and homework assignments.
Actually, for homework and work, I'm doing fairly well on this one. The freelance work does tend to get the shaft sometimes, but that will only improve after next week.

Resolved, I will reach out to friends and family when stressed and not withdraw inwards.
So far, I've definitely had more contact with friends and family than I have during other times, which is definitely a good thing. I still feel like I need to be more proactive in that respect, so I am very glad that I'll have more time to talk and hang out this summer.

Resolved, I will find a physical way to blow off steam.
UGH... Still nothing here. And I'm sure that is the reason for a lot of my time management ineffectiveness. I just don't have the energy and unfortunately, it's a cycle. I know I just have to do something and that it will improve everything.

Resolved, I will do the things I put on my calendar.
I'm not 100% successful on this, and there have definitely been a couple of things that I've skipped, but those are mainly impersonal events and not time scheduled with family and friends (which is miles more important.) What I have found is that I'm definitely more discriminating about what will actually make it onto the calendar.

Resolved, I will go abroad this year.
Forget Mexico and Canada... I'm going to Paris in September! YAY!!!!! (More on my trip later)

Resolved, I will make my home an inviting and comfortable place.
The good news here is that I have created a functional workspace out of my dining nook and I've done a lot organization and purging. I still have a lot to do and I hope I will be able to concentrate more on this one during the summer when I have more time and the dust has settled on all the changes in my life. I have already been planning it all in my head and know what projects I would like to take on. It's definitely going to be fun and great practice for my future career. By the way, I'm still looking for the mid-century modern long dresser and have added a white leather Eames (or Eames-like) lounge chair and ottoman to the wishlist (though, it may just be too prohibitively expensive, real or fake). It's funny because now I remember that my parents actually had a fake one when I was growing up and I never thought that our tastes would ever intersect.

Resolved, I will pay down at least 15% of my credit card debt.
I've actually hit this goal already, and I'm definitely going to exceed it. (My revised goal is to pay off 60% of my credit card debt.) In regards to my general finances, the one major thing that I've got planned in the next month or so is the purchase of a car. (Again more on this later)

Resolved, that I will write in my blog more regularly.
Well, it's definitely better than last year. And I do have faith that I will post more once I have more things to write about besides being busy or eating food that's bad for me.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

More songs

As I promised, this is a quick note to let you know that the complete set of K's songs with Alanna Vicente are up on MySpace. Of the three new additions, I'd have to say that "Goodbye" is my favorite. I love K's guitar solo on it and also how the whole song has a bit of a throwback feel to it. Anyway, give all of the songs a listen and of course, if you like them, please let us know!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Food on the brain: Fried Chicken

I write about food so much that sometimes I think I should change this to a food blog, but then that would spur me to eat more which could end up disastrously. Anyway, I've been so busy of late and part of what keeps me mentally and emotionally afloat is indulging in comfort food. Of course, fried chicken is high on that list and I really feel that it's been singing its siren song to me this week.

First, I am bombarded with advertisements for the new McDonald's Southern Style Chicken Biscuit breakfast sandwich. Fried chicken and a biscuit in the morning sounds like something that would go down really smooth, but then I have to remind myself that it is McDonald's and I can't eat there and not have a stomachache afterwards. But still, I was talking to a friend about it on Saturday and later when I got home, there were three free coupons for them in the mail, so it's definitely taunting me.

And then tonight, I was reading some of my blogs and came across this post on Franklin Avenue, talking about the tastiness of Korean fried chicken. Both of the places mentioned in the post and also in the L.A. Times article referenced are a few blocks away from where I live! My only hope is that I try it and hate it for being double-fried and soy-gingery. Somehow, I don't think I'm going to hate it, though.

Blogging about Asian and McDonald's food in the same post leads me to a particular page on the McDonald's Asian site. I don't really know what to make of the page or the site, which is titled "i am asian" (in lowercase, because Asians are cool like that?) Anyway, I find it interesting that on the homepage and Asian phrase challenge page, the mouse representing Filipinos has a fun jeepney illustration on it, the Chinese one has a cool neon green dragon and the Indian one has a nice henna-tattooed hand drawing, but then the Korean one literally has an unstylized photo of a bowl of kimchee. If I was Korean-American, I'd be pissed (not enough to call up Al Sharpton, but maybe enough to whine about it on my blog.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cannoli Watch: Little Dom's

A few nights ago, my best friend Eric and I had a lovely dinner at Little Dom's in Los Feliz. We both ordered well: I started off with the wonderful Roasted Beets with Burrata, Citrus and Fennel and Eric had a simple Arugula and Parmesan salad. For entrees, I had the Whole Wheat Fettuccine with black pepper, Meyer lemon, asparagus and parmesan and he had the very moist and flavorful Roasted Chicken Leg with Fregole pasta.

However, the star course of the night had to be dessert. Once we got the dessert menus, it took me less than a second to decide what I was going to have. Here we were sitting in a restaurant that kinda sorta had that New York neighborhood Italian vibe, so how could I not get the cannolis?

I suppose it doesn't hurt that I love cannolis (see previous post) and am always on the lookout for the perfect combination of rich filling and crunchy pastry. Well, Little Dom's Cannoli Trio dessert certainly fits that description. You get three small cannolis, one stuffed with rich chocolate filling, one with coffee filling and the last with perfectly creamy ricotta cheese, chocolate chips and pistachios. I had the chocolate and ricotta ones and Eric had the coffee one. Unprompted, he said that it was probably one of the best desserts he had ever had. I loved them, too, though I'll have to reserve judgment on its "best" status until I sample more cannolis in L.A. so definitely let me know if you've got a place for me to try.

Friday, May 02, 2008


As mentioned in a previous post, I had the chance to visit the Denver Art Museum (DAM) a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. The museum is divided between the original North Building designed by Gio Ponti in 1971 and the newer Frederic C. Hamilton Building designed by Daniel Libeskind. The Hamilton Building is an architectural photographer's dream:

And the interior:

While in the Hamilton Building, I went to the special exhibition, Inspiring Impressionism, which shows Impressionist paintings alongside the Masters paintings that inspired them. The audiotour was impressive and I liked that they also had a children's version. After checking out that exhibition, I trotted over the skybridge to see the permanent exhibition in the North Building.

The permanent exhibition isn't huge but it's very well-edited and I absolutely loved the way the galleries were organized and designed. Most of the galleries had beautiful seating arrangements with art books to read and activities for kids, and there was a library/reading room where you could just relax and flip through more art books. My favorite gallery design had to be the Davis W. and Ellen N. Moore Gallery's, which showcased Design Before 1900:

I love these yellow benches!

Overall, the Denver Art Museum is definitely one of the best art museum experiences I've had. I love how American cities outside of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are really making a name for themselves by incorporating some amazing cultural spaces. One unlikely design destination that I'd love to visit is Minneapolis, which has buildings by Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron and Michael Graves. (It also has the Mall of America and Target HQ, both of which would be guilty pleasures for me.) While in that part of the Midwest, I would also have to make the 5-hour drive to Milwaukee to see the brise soleil of the Milwaukee Art Museum by my favorite architect, Santiago Calatrava. In any event, these cities are showing that the Midwest and culture are not mutually exclusive:

Even cows like architecture!

For the full Flickr set of my DAM photos, click here.

Unhappy Streak

It seems I am unable to start a new job without having to take a sick day during the first week. My last two jobs began in this way and unfortunately, my streak continues as I was forced to take a sick day today. Actually, I was determined not to let this happen, so even as my throat started to hurt this past Wednesday, I pushed through it until last night when I had to admit defeat.

The good news is that 1) this is the first time I've had a cold in a long while despite my crazy tiring schedule and 2) despite the slight fever and chills, it seems to moving through my system fairly smoothly. I think this has to do with the fact that I drink/eat kefir or yogurt regularly and snack on almonds (with chocolate chips) like there's no tomorrow. Both of these foods are supposed to be immune system boosters, and it makes me glad to know that I'm doing something good for my body especially since I have yet to find the time for exercise or adequate rest.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

White Fence Farm

White Fence Farm is a restaurant and mini theme park that celebrates the American farm experience. I ate at the suburban Denver location with my cousin and her family last Friday, and I loved it!

First of all, what's not to love about corn fritters tossed in powdered sugar:

Or a plate stacked high with crispy-on-the-outside/juicy-on-the-inside fried chicken (extra points for the American flag):

In addition to the food, there was a petting zoo with goats, an indoor and outdoor play area, a live music area (yes, the band was playing country), an Americana barn, a Clydesdale-drawn carriage, peacocks, and country life exhibits, like this one:

What I loved most about this place, though, has to be this:

Yay! A chicken car!

For the full set of photos on Flickr, click here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mile High

I've been in Denver for several days, and will have some cool blog posts (with tons of pics) when I return to L.A. I haven't blogged in awhile due to some major life changes, including a transition in my career.

My last day at my old job was this past Wednesday. I found a new position as the business development manager for a mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) firm. I'll be doing a lot of marketing in addition to some design, with a major increase in responsibility. I'm really excited to be back in the architecture/engineering/construction (A/E/C) industry, especially since the firm is involved in some really awesome projects, including several high profile museums.

Speaking of museums, the picture is of a model of the Denver Art Museum (DAM), designed by Daniel Libeskind. More DAM pictures to follow. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Things That Aren't Here Anymore

I spent all of today (Sunday) at home and in my pajamas, alternating between eating, zoning out online, solving sudoku puzzles, trying to finish my final portfolio and watching TV. (A nice half-lazy day) While watching KCET, I caught this special from 1998 called "Things That Aren't Here Anymore." Hosted by the now-deceased L.A. radio and television personality Ralph Story, the documentary basically goes through all the cool places that used to be in L.A., such as the Coconut Grove, the original Brown Derby, Gilmore Field, Pan Pacific Park, and more.

I have mixed feelings about shows like this. On the one hand, I love learning about how people lived in L.A. back in 20s through the 50s. On the other hand, I find it all a little depressing. Thinking about the past in this way does remind me that one day I and all the things that make up my world will be things that aren't here anymore.

When I do my tour, there is one point where I stop to talk about the Richfield Building. When it was built in 1928, it was a gorgeous Art Deco office building clad in black and gold terracotta with a huge metal tower crowning it. Unfortunately, it was demolished in the 70s (a less historically-sensitive time in L.A.) and replaced by the current Arco towers (which I actually don't mind too much.) I show my tourgoers pictures of the old building and most of them agree that it's a pity that it's gone. And then we move on. Such is life, I suppose.

I'm not a die-hard preservationist, mainly because I understand that cities need to grow and change to be relevant. Not every building can be like the Pantheon and last for more than 2,000 years, nor should they. But each city should have a good mix of both the old and new to add depth, character and a sense of place to it. I do think that as L.A. grows older and more mature as a city, its people will become even more defensive of its historical identity and cultural legacy. More beautiful older buildings will be repurposed and those that can't will be replaced with beautiful modern buildings. My dream would be for L.A. to be a intersection of historical preservation and forward-thinking design with no room for mediocrity (particularly in the form of unimaginative stucco mini-malls or McMansions.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Wind

This past weekend, my super-talented K finished producing a song he cowrote with Alanna Vicente, who also provided the very relaxed and soothing vocals. It's called "The Wind" and it's a great track! You can listen to it on K's MySpace page or Alanna's.

K worked very hard on it, and any positive feedback would be wonderful. Also, this is just the first song in what's looking to be a really cool series of four, so I'll keep you posted as to when the rest are released.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day

It's no big secret that I'm an art deco fanatic. This obsession started in junior high when I became addicted to black and white 1930s musicals (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Busby Berkeley, etc.), gained momentum during architectural history classes in college, and fully matured during my swing dancing/flea market days (and close association with a full-blown art deco fiend.)

Last week, I treated myself and saw Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, knowing full well that it would be the kind of fantasy that I always wished was my life. Calling cards. Catty women with elaborate hats and cigarette holders. Cage elevators. Shopping trips that play out like personal fashion shows with the chicest clothes. Social secretaries. British accents. Singing in a supper club. Falling for your earnest but penniless piano player. (Sigh.)

In addition to all that, the art direction was sublime. I want Delysia Lafosse's flat! For me, watching the movie was like going to the Queen Mary... I was practically salivating over every piece of moderne decor I saw. In fact, I think it probably took away from my involvement in the story... I was that much in awe of the scenery.

In any event, I do recommend the movie even if you don't know your streamline from your zigzag. It has a nice sweetness to it. Amy Adams does well as the effervescent Delysia in a perfectly mannered performance and Frances McDormand shows the right amount of mature weariness as Miss Pettigrew.

Also, I love the well-framed still that was chosen as the focal point of the movie poster:
To me, it says a lot about the movie without actually giving it away.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bathroom Inspiration + A Blog I Read

My other final project (for my Design Communication I class) is to render a plan, elevations and a perspective drawing for a bathroom. Ideally, we are supposed to use our own bathroom for the dimensions and general layout with perhaps some dream design embellishments. I'm not sure if I'm going to use my bathroom or K's or a combination, but if I use mine, I probably won't change the surface materials too much since I've got a lot of the original Art Deco tile and fixtures. If that weren't the case, I'd probably do floor-to-ceiling tile like the jade bathroom featured today in Apartment Therapy, a blog I read.

I'm a big fan of intricate and mosaic-like tilework on walls, on floors, on benches, on everything. Honeycomb, penny round, subway, mini, bowtie or glass, I love it all.

Another thing I love is reading Apartment Therapy, a multi-city interior design and lifestyle blog. Its mission statement sums up why it's so awesome, in particular:

Simplicity and luxury are not mutually exclusive.
So true! I'm a firm believer that luxury does not necessarily equal excess, which is probably one of the reasons why I enjoy this blog so much.


This weekend, contrary to my usual procastinating ways, I finished the final project in my Elements of Design II class more than 2 weeks EARLY! The project consisted of taking an abstract paper sculpture we had created for another assignment and reimagining it into a building/place model or a functional object. I took this sculpture:

and turned it into this pendant lamp:

I used the side shape of the initial paper sculpture as a repeating element, layering two different kinds of handmade Bhutanese paper (from Hiromi, an awesome fine paper store) over a three-ply bristol board structure. The wire frame and light hardware are from IKEA.

I call it the Porpcupine pendant lamp.