Lan of Angry Asian Creations was in town for several days to visit me! Well, and her grandparents too. :P After picking her up from the airport, we had lunch at Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant & Market - Los Angeles. Then I took her to the J. Paul Getty Center & Museum - Los Angeles where the bougainvillea were vividly in bloom. The garden is my favorite part of the Getty. We went to Santa Monica afterward and then got stuck in traffic for two hours before getting home. Dinner was wonton noodle soup and sizzling udon at Garden Cafe - Alhambra.
The next day, we had dim sum at Lunasia Chinese Cuisine - Alhambra. The kitchen wasn't quite ready yet that day, so we got a 10% discount for waiting. Yay! Then, Lan did a little exploring on her own while I went to work.
We weren't quite that hungry when I got home, so I killed some time by taking her to see Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, which dates to 1771. Though it seemed quite late in the season, the jacaranda trees were still in bloom. I love seeing the trees all purple and with their fallen petals contrasted against the vivid green grass. Dinner was banh beo (Vietnamese steamed rice discs with dried shrimp), Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup) and Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties) at Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa - Rosemead. That night, we watched "Journey From the Fall," which I hadn't seen since its premiere in 2005 because the film is just so emotionally taxing.
After being thwarted twice in May by long weekend lines, I finally got my Luscious Dumplings, Inc. - San Gabriel fix. Potstickers and beef stew noodles. Mmm. We walked around Chinatown - Los Angeles, where Lan bought me this cute print from Genevieve Santos at Flock Shop. I was holding it in my hand when she asked to see it, and immediately went to the register to buy it for me. Thanks lady! Then it was time to drop her off at Union Station, so she could head down south to visit some friends.
I had bought these Chinese brocade slippers for my niece when I was in Chinatown. So adorable! I couldn't wait to see her tiny feet in these shoes. I picked some lemongrass to make Tuong Ot Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Sauce) for Lan to bring back with her when she leaves.
I met up with Lan at The Bazaar by Jose Andres at SLS Hotel Beverly Hills - Los Angeles before she went back east. After experiencing his afternoon tea at Tres by Jose Andres and the lovely dinner here, I've now become a fan. After dinner, we moved over to the patisserie room, where I "oohed" and "aahed" over the decor and the tiny pastries.
I edited cousin A's grad school application essays and as a thank you, she took me out for dinner. I chose O Dae San - Los Angeles (Koreatown) because the oldest '87 and I had been craving Korean barbecue. Since it was a special occasion, we splurged and got the $16.99 all-you-can-eat option, which included more meat and a whole sirloin steak for every two people.
Dinner was simply sauteed radish greens with rice. I know. Pretty boring. The radishes from the Farmers' Market - Alhambra were so fresh that the tops weren't even wilted. Plus, I felt like eating simply after the past week's indulgence.
Tried Ukrainian food for the first time at Roxolana Restaurant & Wine Bar - Pasadena with Gourmet Pigs. It was fine. Tasted as expected. Heavy on the potatoes, bacon, and sour cream. I picked up Boyzone's "Where We Belong" CD at the thrift store recently for $1 and had been listening to it while driving Lan around. My other CD was all scratched up and skipped often so I enjoyed listening to old favorites again. "No Matter What" anyone? :P If you're a fan, you seriously have to watch this "Britain's Got Talent" Boyzone spoof. Hilarious!
After work, I decided to get my hair cut. I know it's time when my hair starts getting caught in my elbows. It was cut to just below my shoulders. I haven't had it that short in a long while. I came home and pitted and sugared cherries to make Ukrainian cherry vareniki per the suggestion of a woman dining next to us at Roxolana, or I thought I'd make a gateau Basque. But I ran out of steam and didn't do either.
To celebrate my friend Don's graduation from law school, I took him for lunch at Libra Brazilian Steakhouse - Culver City. Nice selection of side dishes and the cinnamon-dusted grilled pineapple was scrumptious. Followed by a 15-cent anniversary afternoon tea at The Langham Huntington - Pasadena. I probably shouldn't have booked them back to back, but Don only had so many days free since he was busy studying for the Bar and the afternoon tea was just too great of a deal to pass up.
Grabbed a quick lunch to-go from Banh Mi My Tho - Alhambra and lil' sis and I went over to my brother's to play with our niece. We did a family Costco run, but really it was so we could play with her some more.
Afterward, lil' sis came back to help me clean my office/library/spare room. I stumbled upon a book I had been wanting to reread but couldn't find underneath all the mess. "Grand Passion" by Jayne Ann Krentz about a guy who accumulated things. Ha! I also found a copy of my birth certificate and the physical I had before I started college.
*Sigh.* If only I still weighed 103 pounds and had a cholesterol level of 118.5
Also found a sealed bag of Harry Potter Knight Bus Legos when I saw the "Prisoner of Azkaban." I also waded through piles and piles of paperwork. Lil' sis managed to clear a space on my desk so I can write on it again if I wanted.
At 1 a.m., I actually had a pathway in front of the bathroom door. What an amazing sight.
Later that morning, I stopped by the Farmers' Market - Alhambra to grab some Indian food from Ma Jasmin's. Lil' sis never cared much for Indian food before, but her tastes have been evolving since she's been on her own and started cooking. She had a bite of my Madras chicken wrap the week before and really liked it. Later after more cleaning, we grabbed a bite at Garden Cafe - Alhambra before she left.
The next morning, the sight of the bare floor on the other side of the bathroom in my library was so nice that I started on lil' sis's favorite things quilt.
My mom came to town for a few weeks to take care of my niece while my brother's in-laws were out of town. She spent the day at my youngest aunt's to cook for my great-grandfather's death anniversary. I was working late that day so I spent the morning with my niece. I told ya her tiny feet would look so adorable in the brocade slippers. It was hard to get a photo because she kept swinging her feet in delight. My brother's wife says my niece is like royalty, who else would get their feet kissed. But gah! Such cuteness. How could I resist kissing those feet?
My friend DP happened to be free on Day 166 so we went to Luscious Dumplings, Inc. - San Gabriel since I was with her when we were thwarted twice in May. Mmm. Potstickers and noodles with pork and pickled mustard greens. She gave me the jade bracelet you can see on the bottom right of the picture. Ostensibly because it was too big for her wrist, but really to thank me for being there for her. I think I should be thanking her for being such a great friend. Afterward, I stopped by to see my mom and niece.
Don happened to be free again so I met up with him for lunch at Tara's Himalayan Cuisine - Los Angeles. I thought the Tibetan and Nepalese items we ordered were just OK, but we both really liked the Indian chicken tikka masala. That night, while watching "Friday Night Lights," I started piecing vertical strips on lil' sis's quilt. I dug out my old copy of the "Friday Night Lights" book afterward for comparison. I read it back in the late '90s upon recommendation from a former sports writer friend. The book is much better than the movie at capturing the desolation in Odessa, Texas at the time and why football was so pivotal for so many people.
I've taken to visiting my mom and niece every other day or so for a few hours. Mom made banh cuon (Vietnamese rolled rice noodle sheets). Look at the niece "oohing" over my plate.
Lil' sis took my mom grocery shopping and, before going back to my brother's house, they stopped by mine. Lil' sis ruined her surprise since she came inside, even after I told her I was in the midst of working on her quilt. I was watching "After the Promise," starring Mark Harmon as a father who lost custody of his four sons during the Great Depression. The horrific abuse the boys all suffered lingered with me long, long after I had watched the movie in the late '80s. I think the part about it being based on a true story was what had always saddened me. A bit of Googling and I found comments from a woman who said the movie was about her grandfather and father. There were actually five boys and they never recovered from the abuse, unable to maintain happy family relationships. How truly sad.
My parents don't do well apart. My dad would call my mom multiple times a day and she would regale him with stories about their grandbaby. On Day 170, Father's Day, I decided to finally make the onesie I had been putting off. "I (heart) my ong noi" (Vietnamese paternal grandfather) I embroidered on the onesie, choosing to fussycut a penguin daddy playing with his babies. I snapped photos to email to my father, who was out fishing for the day. Later, we had a family dinner at Gale's Restaurant - Pasadena.
My aunts gave me more Banh Pa Te So (Vietnamese Pate Chaud (French Hot Pastry Pie)) which they made out of my mom's frozen puff pastry that she gifted to everyone down here. When I came over to my brother's that day, we decided to give her a haircut. Just enough so her bangs weren't poking her in the eyes. The tiniest haircut ever.
I didn't really have anything to say about Day 172. I didn't get off work until 9 p.m. and was starving so I just did a quick run for the 99 cents leg and thigh special from Popeye's. The one gardenia that I plucked from in front of my brother's house the day before still perfumed the whole room.
My third cousin came up from Orange County so we spent the afternoon at the Norton Simon Museum - Pasadena. I went back to Luscious Dumplings again, but my cousin didn't love it as much as I do. :( Gourmet Pigs stopped by with some KyoChon Chicken - Los Angeles (Koreatown) and a jar of chili jam. I had some dessert from Phoenix Food Boutique - San Gabriel and my dumpling leftovers. She liked the dumplings, even cold. I like having family and friends who stop by randomly.
The younger '88 and her sister had given my niece this Disney princess tent for her birthday. She was too scared to use it before, but has now become more adventurous.
I stopped by my brother's place to take my mom back to my place so she could make vit nau chao (Vietnamese duck with fermented bean curd). She prefers to cook in my kitchen because she says my brother's doesn't have anything, even though she bought all the necessary ingredients. :P He picked her up from my place when he got off work. So when I got off work, I went back to his place. What a roundabout day.
Lil' sis drove up that night and showed up with a box of KyoChon Chicken. Gotta use up our Groupons! My brother's order of a Star Trek onesie and a model of the DeLorean arrived that day. We are unashamedly geeky. My niece had fun pushing all the lights on the car. My brother hopes she'll become a tomboy, but I know she likes jewelry and purses too much for that.
The next morning, I made strawberry lemon bars to bring to work. My mom wanted Korean barbecue for dinner, so I chose Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) because I knew she'd like the variety of panchan (Korean side dishes). I love taking these shots of my tiny niece on the far end of a huge table of food.
We had dim sum at Lunasia Chinese Cuisine - Alhambra. I've been quite repetitive this month with my dining out, mostly revisiting favorites. My mom asked me to make my fried chicken so I did. She proclaimed it still not quite crunchy like they make it at Popeye's. I was actually quite pleased with the texture that day and took lots of photos to update the ones in that old recipe.
Norwegian cousin's husband was in town for work on Day 178. I took him out for lunch at Johnny Rockets. I know it's a chain, but I remembered my cousin liked it because it fit her idea of Americana. He didn't care so much about those things. We walked around Santa Monica, which I just did at the beginning of the month with Lan, and Hollywood Boulevard, where they were setting up the premiere of Larry Crowne at Grauman's Chinese Theater. I started thinking about what my ideas of America and California were with these recent visitors. I guess it's always a mix of tourist and ethnic. I had intended to take my cousin's husband out for good old American barbecue when we met up with my brother and mom for dinner, but he really perked up at the mention of Korean barbecue. So we ended up at Chung Dam Korean BBQ - Los Angeles (Koreatown). My cousin said later he was super happy about dinner and enjoyed meeting her family. He also brought me my beloved Firklover and other Norwegian chocolates.
On my mom's last day in town, I embroidered "I heart ba noi" (Vietnamese paternal grandmother) on another onesie and intended to take a picture of the niece wearing it with my mom. But my morning appointment's mother chose to use the bathroom after I had already locked the door and was on my way out. So I had to wait another 10 minutes after the session was over for her and her other son to both use the bathroom. Why didn't they go during the whole two hours of the appointment? I had already locked the door and was on the way out so I had to unlock it and wait for them. She repeated it again the following week too! So inconsiderate and inconvenient. By the time I got to my brother's place, he had already taken the niece to his in-laws and my mom seemed a little lost all alone. My mom had just finished feeding my niece lunch. Even the empty high chair seemed bereft.
Went to Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice Bowl - Arcadia with cousin A and her husband for its grand opening $3 ramen special. The line wasn't too bad for such a great deal. Afterward, we stopped off to get a new garbage disposal since mine needed replacing. I guess this makes up for him accidentally breaking my favorite pitcher. But I still love that pitcher. :(
After several days of use, Prosacea has helped clear up a lot of redness and skin problems because of rosacea. It's even better than prescription Metrogel. Except for some zits on my forehead when I was in seventh grade, I've largely been blessed with good skin. That changed a few years ago when I developed rosacea and it was really disheartening to have such skin problems at my age. The sulfur smell can be a little off-putting, but it's seriously worked wonders. So consider it a public service announcement if you suffer from such problems as well.
I guess the main thing I've been thinking about this month is spaces, what I occupy and what surrounds me.
I like having what I like around me and I like things placed where I'll use them. I don't like when other people move my stuff around because I can't find them. I am OK with piles of books everywhere because I know which pile to go to find what I want to read. Plus, I just plain old like my books so being surrounded by them is comforting. Those magazine pictures of houses with floor to ceiling book shelves? Love them.
Part of the reason why I've stayed in SoCal for so many years is because my family is nearby and I'm friends with my cousins. And though my friends are scattered everywhere, here is where I have them close enough that they can just drop in.
Those little things make me happy in my space.
My Project 365 posts:
February: On Tactile Pleasures, a Plethora of Plaid, and Souvenir Socks
March: Bridges, Literal and Figurative, and Reuben Obsessions
May: On Lifelong Friendships, Napping with Babies, and Thank Yous
June: On Brocade Slippers and Spaces
1 year ago today,
2 years ago today, Silver Lake Wine - Los Angeles.
3 years ago today, the first blogging game, blog my blog 1.
4 years ago today, a Taiwanese shaved ice (almost) big enough to hide behind.