Thursday, January 31, 2008

Heart of Fire

What I would love for Valentine's Day:

The Red Fire Flaming Chocolate Heart from Vosges. The Vosges Red Fire chocolate bar is my favorite spicy chocolate bar and what would be better than a solid heart-shaped version?

Speaking of fire, my arm's inflamed again...Pain! Agony! Ugh. I am home sick today for another reason (queasy stomach), but it is very nice not to have to work my arm out today, hence the short post. Bring on the TiVO!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blogs I Read: Oh Happy Day

Is it wrong to love a blog because of its perfectly charming header?
There is just something about the yellow stripes, the silhouetted figure and the typography of Oh Happy Day's header graphic that make me...HAPPY. Of course, the daily posts of items that strike blogger Jordan Ferney's fancy usually bring a smile to my face, too.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Big Sugar Bakeshop

Yesterday, I went to the Big Sugar Bakeshop in Studio City to eat cupcakes with other members of the L.A. Cupcake Meetup group. The organizer of the group, Tara, also has her own blog and posted the details.

I agree with Tara... the best was the Icebox cupcake. These weren't my favorite cupcakes, but they were still good and the store is absolutely adorable. I had to fight myself not to buy some of the cool merchandise they have in the front. Plus, they had complimentary samples, coffee and water and were very accommodating for our large group. They also have cookies and other baked goods and I'll have to try those the next time I'm on Ventura Blvd.

Overall, I enjoyed myself. I am seldom in situations where I get to talk to new people, and there were many interesting people whom I would have never met otherwise. If you want to meet people, I definitely suggest finding a group on

More painting

Here's what I've been doing for the last eight hours:

Painting #2: "The Pink Tunic," also by Tamara de Lempicka.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Doing homework

This week's homework involves copying a painting in gouache and drawing a room elevation in pencil. The painting is part of a larger project for which I copied another painting last week:

Translating Tamara de Lempicka's oil painting, "La Bella Rafaela," into gouache (opaque watercolor) was a stressful but ultimately gratifying experience. I almost gave up to try an easier painting, but I'm glad I didn't.

In the last couple of years, I've purposefully put myself in situations that are outside of my comfort zone. Going back to school is a big example of this. With every week of class, I realize more and more how taking risks and working hard lead to growth and an overall better life experience.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blogs I Read: Knife Tricks

A couple of years ago, Paul Lukacs, a friend of mine, took a sabbatical from entertainment law to embark on a roving journey through Asia:

"I am taking at least a year off from work and have decided to use a blog to diary my travels and keep people informed of my general whereabouts. I am the 87-millionth person to have this idea. To further the cliche, I have purchased a backpack and filled it with Heart of Darkness, Burmese Days and several Graham Greene novels. Still working on the Tilley hat."
What originally set his blog, Knife Tricks, apart from those other 87 million travel blogs was Paul's intelligent writing, his often droll insight on local and global culture and politics and his refusal to lapse into the banal. He also offered up his take on the numerous books that accompanied him. Now back in L.A., he has continued to comment on politics, travel, literature and law in his usual erudite fashion.

I am recommending this blog mainly because it inspires me to be a better blog writer. I often feel smarter after reading one of Paul's articles because a) the writing is so good and b) he expands my consciousness of what is going on in the world, macro and micro, important and irrelevant.

I suggest starting from the beginning of his blog just to make sure that you've read all of the posts from his trip. However, many of his travel posts stand alone, serving as mini but complete peeks into the world of a wanderer.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Flea Market

Several years ago, I used to wake up early on most Sundays and with a regular crew, go to one of the various flea markets around Southern California. The first Sunday of the month was the Pasadena City College or PCC Flea Market. The second Sunday was the massive Rose Bowl Flea Market. The third Sunday was the Long Beach Outdoor Antique and Collectible Market and the fourth was at the small but high-end Santa Monica Outdoor Antique and Collectible Market. If I bought anything, it was usually cool Art Deco/ Mid Century Modern stuff, vintage phones, 78 records, furniture and kitchen appliances. However, despite all the cool stuff I scored, what I loved most about going to the flea market was the whole experience of it: getting up early, people watching and hanging out with my friends.

When I heard about the new South Park Flea Market starting this Sunday, I started to feel a little nostalgic for the flea market era in my life. This flea market is put on by the same guy who puts on the Melrose Trading Post, which I never really attended because parking was always such a challenge and because in the past, I was more focused on antiques. However, I am excited about the South Park one because a) it's close by and not too big; b) it's a great event for the Downtown community; and c) I can take the subway there. I don't think I'll be able to attend tomorrow, but I would like to check it out sooner than later, preferably with cappuccino and chocolate croissant in hand and a good friend at my side.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blogs I Read: Curbed LA

I chose to be an Urban Studies major in college because a) it was the one program at Cornell that I thought I had a chance of being accepted into as a transfer and b) I genuinely am fascinated by urban development. Despite the fact that I spend a good deal of time supporting historic preservation, I love the excitement of change in a city. And when I want to get my fun fix of real estate and development news in L.A., I check out Curbed LA.

Curbed LA features posts on real estate, architecture, design and neighborhood news, usually with a playful spin. For example, every year, it holds a Broker Boys and Babes contest to pick the hottest brokers in the city. Usually, my favorite posts are the ones that discuss anything having to do with new restaurants (its sister site, Eater LA, covers this exclusively), new lofts/apartment buildings and new retail developments. (Another blog I like, Angelenic, covers the same topics, but focuses mainly on the Downtown area.)

Curbed LA's own description:
"From the studio lots to the downtown lofts. From the beachfront bungalows to the canyon views. From the south bay to the valley, from the westside to the eastside—Curbed LA covers our sense of place, and the neighborhoods we call home."

I spent a lot of time in school studying what gives a city a sense of place and a major factor is a sense of community. Curbed LA and other L.A.-centric blogs help to create that by fostering interest in everything that shapes the city, whether it concerns the built environment or the diverse group of people that live in it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

New header graphic

I posted the new header graphic for the blog quietly this past Wednesday, and am still trying to decide if I want to keep the subtitle. Since I started this blog a couple of years ago, the angle has changed a little, mainly because I'm not traveling as much as I expected to and because I've added quite a bit more focus to my life with school and other pursuits. So, instead of being a travel blog, Aimless Idling is more a blog about my life in general, with the travel and lifestyle reviews mixed in.

As a side note, I had to stay off the computer for the past couple days because my right arm was in pretty bad shape. Every month or so, I go through several days where the right side of my neck and shoulder get so tense that the pain radiates all the way through my right arm and hand. My doctor says it's a pinched nerve and it's usually the result of stress and lack of rest and proper exercise. It's just another reason to try harder to achieve a good work-life-school balance and not be so needlessly neurotic all the time. K calls me the "worriest worry wart" and I can definitely worry with the best of them. I'm constantly thinking about everything and I think the trick is to channel that towards more positive this blog!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

At A Glance

One of the biggest sources of stress for me in the last month and a half was the redesign I had to complete of my company's main brochure. Mainly, it was stressful because I not only had to design and produce it, but also because I had to coordinate and edit the newly expanded content. Thank goodness I had several editors and writers to help me flesh it out and copy edit. Otherwise, I probably would weigh 200 lbs. from the resulting stress-induced eating. In any event, after several late nights, I got it done and I really like the way it turned out, especially the cover:
On the left is the old version (which I didn't design.) The direction I was given was to make it more colorful, modern and slightly playful, while maintaining its professional look. My original concept had to do with evoking a door, but it doesn't necessarily have to read that way.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Blogs I Read: Cute Overload

I read at least 30 blogs everyday and that's on days when I'm busy. On lazy weekend days, if I'm not reading a magazine or doing a sudoku puzzle, I can read more than a hundred. Not that that's terribly difficult but that's the beauty of blogs. They offer easily-digestible bits of information or insight usually every day. Mostly I read topical blogs, though there are several personal blogs that are very interesting. Every Tuesday, I'll share a blog that I think is worth a peek. Feel free to share a blog with me that you think is cool or that I would enjoy.

Cute Overload
is one of the blogs that I turn to when I need an immediate pick-me-up. Dedicated to sharing cute pictures of animals with the world, it consists mainly of photos that readers send in, with the appropriately precious comments from the editor, Meg. This blog is definitely not a secret, having won several awards and scored mentions in the national mainstream press. However, I'm featuring it today, because yesterday, I checked it out (click here for the post) and saw this little guy:

I adore baby Boston Terriers! If I wasn't so allergic to dander, I would have gotten one already. I love their eyes, their batty ears and their black and white markings (yup, I like graphic statements.) In any event, you can bet I will be accessing the site several times today just to see those huge doleful eyes.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Decisions, decisions

One of the gifts that I got from K this year was a year's subscription to any magazine of my choice. Seems pretty straightforward, but when you take into account how many magazines I read and love, it definitely gets hard.

Should I go with something that I would not otherwise be able to afford? K said that he was aware that I might choose an expensive magazine, but I don't think he took into account how spendy art and import magazine subscriptions can be. My top choice in this category would be the Australian foodie mag, Delicious, at $143.48 a year. The only thing I like more than eating yummy food is reading about it, and this magazine is the ultimate in food porn.

Should I add to the piles of magazines I have to keep forever by choosing a design magazine? Architectural Record, Communication Arts, Print, Interior Design, Contract, Hospitality Design, I.D.... I could go on and on, and I'm not sure that I'm even going to able to whittle down this category. The one thing to note here is that I could always buy these subscriptions myself and deduct them since they have to do with my work.

Perhaps I should go with something that I'm a little embarrassed to buy in public and would certainly never buy in view of my peers. The top choice here would be O, The Oprah Magazine. I'm a sucker for her brand of self-empowerment and self-improvement, and while I do think her personality is a little bit much at times, I do think she has helped many people in many different ways, me included. The magazine itself is useful, well-edited and pretty, and has all the girly stuff that I need to know about without making me feel like I'm being sold to constantly (though I am fully aware that everything is a sell in some way or another.)

I could go for volume and choose a weekly. Going to my mailbox after work and finding a magazine waiting for me brings me no end of joy. Having one there every week would increase my happiness and so this might be the best choice. Because I don't think I could deal with a potentially depressing news magazine every week, if I go for a weekly, it would have to be Entertainment Weekly.

A choice that would help me kill two birds with one stone would be a travel magazine. That way I could figure out where in the world I am going to escape to this year. I currently receive Travel & Leisure, but sometime in the last couple of years, the articles became less interesting and the layout more cluttered. Plus they use really cheap paper, making the photo spreads less enticing. I already get National Geographic Traveler and Budget Travel, but those magazines are more about the practical stuff...I want to open a travel magazine and salivate. The two magazines that fit the bill are Conde Nast Traveler, which I think is a much better magazine than Travel & Leisure, and Travesias. Travesias is a Mexican magazine that is gorgeously put together with thick glossy paper and beautiful photography. Plus, because it's written in Spanish, it seems even more exotic and worldly and I can rationalize that choosing it will help improve my Spanish. Though if I choose Travesias, I will most certainly go to Mexico or some other Latin American country.

The one magazine that combines a lot of the above is Wallpaper*. I have a strange relationship with this magazine in that I both love and hate what it represents. I love the art, architecture, travel, design, and gadgetry that it endorses, but sometimes, I feel it represents an impossible standard of life that most people, including me, don't have and will never have, and is a little bit too shallow and materialistic. I'm a designer, but even I recognize that the singular pursuit of glossy beauty without inner meaning or purpose can leave you pretty empty. So, if I chose Wallpaper*, it would be BYOS...bring your own soul.

So what will I choose? I'm going on a fact-finding mission later this week (Barnes & Noble and Hennessy + Ingalls on Sunday after my cupcake meetup), so I'll let you know. If you have any suggestions, feel free to chime in.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Art Deco Tour in the Rain

During what looks to be the wettest weekend so far this season, I am scheduled to give a tour. I hate the rain, but if anyone is brave enough to show up, they deserve a tour and I'm going to make sure they get one. If you're interested, check out the Conservancy Web site for more information and bring an umbrella.

UPDATE! This tour has been canceled due to the rain. I get to sleep in! YAY!


According to Franklin Covey, one of the things you have to do to help make your New Year's resolutions stick is to go public with them. So here goes:

Resolved, that I will do my best to exude positive energy.
K & I like to watch the Dog Whisperer. (Actually, for several years, K has been preparing himself for getting a dog by studiously reading every dog training and psychology book under the sun) After watching several shows, it's easy to get the gist of what Caesar Millan preaches. One of the basic tenets of his philosophy is that dogs read the energy you put out there and adjust their energy accordingly. For example, a neurotic owner often can lead to a neurotic pet, whereas a calm owner instills calmness in her pet. I thought about this principle and realized that many of my social problems stem from either my negativity or lack of action. I automatically assume people don't want to talk to me and hence don't talk to them and it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The people I get along with are those that are sunny and very secure with themselves, making me open up and be just as sunny and secure. My goal is to be one of those people, so that my smile gets matched with another smile instead of my indifference being matched with equal indifference.

Resolved, that I will be in bed before midnight on worknights.
This gives me around 8 hours of sleep a night, which will help me to function normally during the day.

Resolved, that I will be on time to work, leave to take my lunch break and leave on time unless I take overtime.
I've struggled with this in the past and I do believe that not doing these three things adds more stress than necessary to my day. I am hoping that getting enough sleep will help me to get to work on time and that stepping out for a breather in the middle of the day will help me to keep my perspective. Leaving on time seems like it would be easy, but I can get caught up in work, especially design work, around quitting time, which usually coincides with my peak performance time. Also, if I get to work late, I usually try to make up for it in spades by working much later.

Resolved, that I will not wait until the last minute to do my work and homework assignments.
I always underestimate the time it will take to complete a project. The final project for my Elements of Design I class last quarter took at least 2-3 days of work and I naively thought I could knock it out in less than a day. The point is that I have to be realistic with my goals and recognize that a little time padding helps when the expected unexpected occurs.

Resolved, that I will reach out to friends and family when stressed and not withdraw inwards.
If you take a look at my cell phone records, you'll notice that K accounts for 95% of all my calls. Since we're on the same network (Verizon), that means that I'm not using the actual anytime minutes that I'm paying lots of money for. So, there is no reason I shouldn't be calling and chatting up the people I care for, right?

Resolved, that I will find a physical way to blow off steam.
Since I stopped dancing (for various personal reasons), it's been difficult to find something physical that I like to do with regularity. Lately, I've been really missing dancing and have been considering starting up again with tango and perhaps learning ballet. Other physical activities I've been thinking about involve forcing myself to go to the gym or walking to work in the morning.

Resolved, that I will actually do the things I put on my calendar.
Unless I'm sick, I am not going to flake out on the events that I thought were cool and important enough to actually put on my calendar.

Resolved, that I will go abroad this year.
Even if it's just to Canada or Mexico, I am itching to leave the country for a week at least.

Resolved, that I will make my home an inviting and comfortable place.
This involves redecorating my apartment to create a good work/project space, improving the lighting and purchasing a vintage (art deco or mid-century modern) hardwood dresser. On the maintenance side, this also means that I need to clear out the clutter and keep everything clean and tidy.

Resolved, that I will pay down at least 15% of my credit card debt.
I've already created my plan for doing this, which absolutely takes into account the fact that I am paying for school out of my own unlined pocket and that I want to go on a trip this year.

Resolved, that I will write in my blog more regularly.
So far, so good.

These are my resolutions... what about yours?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Over the holiday break (which lasted approximately 11 days for me, not counting a few hours here and there of proof checks), I had the chance to check out three museum exhibitions that I've been wanting to see for a while.

The first I took care of while visiting family and friends in the South Bay and OC. "The Birth of Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury" at the Orange County Museum of Art was a nicely composed exhibition of midcentury modern furniture, paintings, objects and music. As I entered, the first room had Charles and Ray Eames' film, "Tops," projected onto the entire wall. The music was very hep. The next part of the exhibition gave some historical context. I really liked the signage and organization of this portion, which consisted of items and flat screens showing film clips, mounted on the wall with a cool blue band of paint behind them. The rest of the exhibit was heavy on the Eames' (rightfully so) and Julius Shulman's photography. (Note to self: Must see his exhibition at the Central Library before that closes on January 20)

The next two exhibitions I saw on New Year's Eve day: "© MURAKAMI" at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary and "Dali: Painting and Film" at LACMA. I really enjoyed both and it was interesting to see how Dali really made it possible for artists such as Takashi Murakami to create the kind of art that they do.

Initially, K & I didn't intend to see the Murakami exhibition, but we had some spare time before our 3pm Dali tickets and a little extra zip from our Intelligentsia buzz, so we went for it. I had seen some of Murakami's work in the "Ecstasy" exhibition a couple of years back, but this was definitely more an in-depth exploration of all aspects of his art. My favorite part was watching the Kaikai and Kiki movie preview. It was so adorable and weird that it made me feel very happy and young inside.

While we were able to take in the MOCA exhibition at a leisurely pace, we had no such luck at the Dali one, which is unfortunate because there was such a wealth of beautiful painting sand films that I could have stayed much longer. After waiting in line for about 20 minutes to get in, we were greeted with a slow-moving line that snaked along the wall of the first room. After waiting in that line for 10 minutes and moving only 10 feet, we decided to walk along the back of it, forsaking an up-close look at the first dozen paintings. After the bottleneck in the first room, it was smoother sailing and we were able to appreciate the rest of the exhibition up close. While I enjoyed the screenings of various Dali collaborations (in particular, Luis Bunuel's "Un Chien Andalou"), the highlight for me was seeing the actual paintings. The colors that he used were so vivid, especially when he paired warm and cool colors, and that definitely gets lost when you just see a poster of one of his works. Actually, with many paintings, a book or poster print usually does not do it justice. For example, when I saw Tamara Lempicka's "Jeune fille en vert" at the 2004 Art Deco exhibition at the San Francisco Legion of Honor, I felt the same way.

In any event, I would recommend seeing all three of these exhibitions. Unfortunately, the OCMA and LACMA ones close this Sunday(!) Luckily, you still have until February for the MOCA one. If you go, be sure to add to this piece of impromptu public art: