Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving To Wordpress

So I've decided to move things over to Wordpress.

This is my new home:
http://socalohana.wordpress.com/

Mishe Mokwa Trail - 9/22/09


One of the best things about hiking, is that hours can literally slip by while getting in a great workout. It's really hard to spend that much time inside of a gym without constantly checking time. Also, it is just plain fun to get out and explore nature. So, with that in mind, we set off for a new adventure in the Santa Monica Mountains via the Mishe Mokwa Trail.

This hike is known as a moderate hike with lots of varying terrain and killer views of the pacific ocean. Unfortunately for us, the unexpected 107 degree temps turned this moderate hike into something short of an epic struggle to make it back to the trailhead. I'm not going to do a full recap...for that, go here (a really great and detailed southern california hiking blog).

We picked up our hiking partners around 7:30am and arrived at the trailhead by 8:45am. Temps had been in the 80's all week, but during our hike, temps soared to 107 energy-sucking degrees. If you've never hiked in temps above 100 before, it can be brutal...especially if the hike is on almost 100% exposed trail. The decrease in physical strength and stamina caused by elemental exposure can be quite dramatic! You basically turn into zombies struggling not to trip on rocks more than 1 inch off the trail floor while lost in a hot haze of exhaustion.

Our hiking plan was to make a counterclockwise loop starting at the trailhead, hitting the Tri-Peaks, and ending with Sandstone Peak before getting back to the trailhead. Most of the hike, the views were of the canyons and lovely California chaparral. To see ocean views, you have to take relatively short side trails (Tri-Peaks and Sandstone) that will take you higher and reward you with views of the pacific.

We were high above the clouds, so the skies were beautifully clear. The first 3 miles of the hike consisted of a gradual ascent, but was primarily uneventful. The fun began when we decided to go for Tri-Peaks. We quickly realized that the initial trail to Tri-Peaks was not maintained. We had to walk through dense pokey tree branches, and evil spikey plants called Spanish Bayonets. If you don't know what Spanish Bayonets look like, well, don't worry. Once you get poked by one, you know right away why they have that nickname. They look like half of a Koosh Ball, but instead of nice rubbery spindles, they have sharp swords radiating out of its evil center. Every few steps, at least one person in our 4-person group would give out a quick yelp as we took turns getting stabbed or sliced. Yes, those bayonets draw blood.

So to cut to the chase, we didn't make it to the top of Tri-Peaks. We made the decision to turn around near the top b/c it was just way too hot and it took us longer to cover the trail than we expected. But I managed to snap a pic that overlooks Ventura County (Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura) and the Pacific. On our way back down, I slipped on some relatively flat ground and fell backwards on to my pack. Not a big deal, I kind of manage to fall at least once on every hike. The pack nicely broke my fall.

About a mile later, I felt water dripping down my leg and thought that I had not capped a water bottle tight enough. When I opened up my pack, to my horror, I realized that a box of chicken stock had popped open and had spilled out into the interior of my pack. Considering how much liquid was in the bottom of my pack, I was surprised at how little managed to seep out. I had to turn my bag upside down and watch a flood of chicken stock pour out. So yeah, I smelled really pretty by that point...I smelled like a dog that needed a bath. Not to mention, I was now afraid that a mountain lion would surely pounce on me thinking that I tasted like chicken!

By the time we made it back to the main trail, we decided to skip Sandstone. I was really disappointed about that, but all the more reason to come back...during cooler temps!! The heat really zapped the energy out of everyone. We EACH drank a total of 3 liters of water/sports drinks! And believe me, we all sweated every bit of that back out. It took us about 4.5 hours to complete 6 miles of hiking. Please believe me when I say that I'm normally not that pathetic. I blame the heat!

Interestingly enough, by the time we made it back down onto the PCH and into Malibu, it was 69 degrees. Almost 40 degrees cooler! We made a quick stop to fuel up on more liquids and very quickly regained our energy. We stopped by my favorite sandwich shop and happily ate our lunch under the coastal clouds of Mailbu wondering what the heck happened to us just a few hours ago?!?


To get there:
From the 101:
-Exit Westlake Blvd (23) and head South for 7.2 miles
-Continue on Mulholland Hwy (you'll see a sign indicating Mulholland East or West, stay on the Westbound route)
-Right on Little Sycamore Canyon
-Slight left at Yerba Buena (I didn't notice when the road changed names from Little Sycamore to Yerba Buena)
-Trailhead parking lot will be in the right (up a short dirt ramp). The first lot you come upon will be 2 smaller lots (one on each side of the road) about a minute before you reach the Sandstone Trail lot.
NOTES - warning that using this route takes you up very curvy mountain roads. The roads are very well maintained, but if you want something more straightforward, take the PCH route rather than the 101.


View Larger Map

Saturday, August 29, 2009

La Canada Flintridge Fires


UPDATE #2 - These are the worst fires I've personally witnessed. Lives have been lost and homes destroyed. The firefighters have been working around the clock and I can't even imagine what it is like to go up against 80 ft flames. I can see the top of
Mt Wilson (only about 7 miles away) from my place and it's been horrible to watch the flames move towards the observatory. The smoke plumes in the photos are estimated to have risen up to 4 miles!


UPDATE #1 - so I take that back about structures not being threatened. These fires have been going nonstop for a couple of days now. We drove by La Canada today and the road were just jammed with cars. It turns out that they were all residents of the area waiting in their cars. They had to evacuate and just sit and watch and hope and pray.


Fires are a normal part of Southern California. But I still found myself in awe when I could see the hills near my place glowing with flames. Maybe because I consider the part of the city that I live in a bit more urban, it's really odd to see fires so close to the city. From the way the fire is moving, structures are not threatened. I guess this is all just part of the ebb and flow of nature.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Raw Corn & Avocado Salad


I really love eating raw food. I love eating cooked food too. But, I am always on the look out for quick and easy raw food recipes. Maybe it is because I don't really like to spend time in the kitchen cooking. So to take advantage of some sweet white corn that I've seen popping up in all the grocery stores, I found a quick recipe that is easy, fast, fresh, and tasty!

For my salad, I used the following to make 2 large servings:

Raw Corn & Avocado Salad
- 2 ears of fresh white corn (uncooked)
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 slice of red onion, diced
- juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper to taste

I love how fresh and summery this salad tastes. Don't skip out on the lime and salt! They really add a lot of flavor to this dish. Also, don't fear the fat! Adding the avocado makes this a very satisfying and substantial meal, w/o being heavy. I've already made it twice this week and will definitely make it again throughout the summer. Oh, but careful when cutting that corn. I had corn juice squirting everywhere!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Greek Yogurt Cheesecake & Mother's Day


I love Fage Greek Yogurt. I used to buy the 0% tubs at Trader Joe's religiously and never thought my loyalty to the thick, creamy, fat-free, and tangy yogurt would fade. But then, I tried the 2% Fage Greek Yogurt. Life. Changing. Stuff. I switched to 2% a few months ago and can never go back to the 0%. It's still tangy, but doesn't have that strong tangy bite (not necessarily a bad thing) of the 0% and it is so very very creamy. The richness added by the little extra fat is totally worth the extra 30 calories per serving. You can eat an entire 17 oz tub of the 2% for only 300 calories (not that I recommend eating over a pound of yogurt in 1 sitting)! I do like to sweeten a bit with some stevia, but I like to control the amount of sugar that goes in to yogurt. It's really hard to stomach the artificial taste of Yoplait now that I'm used to plain greek yogurt.

So on to cheesecake. I was reading one of my favorite baking blogs and saw a cheesecake recipe that called for the use of Greek Yogurt and I knew I had to try it out. I love cheesecake, but really never eat it b/c, really, who ever has enough room for a slice at the end of a meal? I knew that using the 2% Greek Yogurt would lighten it up considerably, so I got to work on baking my very first cheesecake, just in time for a Mother's Day lunch!

I have made this recipe about 3 times now, and each time, I tried a different variation (all were crustless).

1) Low-calorie version
For this version, I used lowfat cream cheese, 2% greek yogurt, splenda (shame, I know), and egg whites. This resulted in a very tangy tasting cheesecake, but I overbaked it at 50 minutes causing the texture to turn mealy (I don't like this word, it always makes me think of meal worms). Not the most pleasing texture and I wouldn't serve it to strangers, but I still ended up eating most of it as an after dinner dessert during the week. Heck, for only 120 calories for 1/8 (!!) of the cake, I'll take a little graininess in my cheesecake! The texture was firm, like a regular cheesecake, but a tad crumbly from my overbaking. I think using the lowfat cream cheese also added to a more tangier flavor. One thing I really liked about using only egg-whites is that the cheesecake came out a beautiful white color, not that I have anything against yellow =). I bet if I made this again and didn't overbake it, it would turn out drool-worthy (at least for me!)

2) Medium -calorie version
For this, I used regular cream cheese, 2 % greek yogurt, 100 grams of sugar and 10 grams of splenda (basically about 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of splenda), 2 whole eggs, and 3 egg whites.

This turned out so much better than the first version. First of all, I planned to take it out 5 mintues sooner, but at 45 minutes, the whole thing was way too jiggly, almost wave-like, so I ended up baking it for 5 more minutes. But this time with the extra fats from the egg yolks, 50 total minutes of baking did not yield an entirely overbaked cheesecake. Although, the edges had a slightly mealy texture, so maybe I should have taken it out at 45 minutes. For some reason, this batter was extremely watery. When I poured it into my spring form pan, it totally leaked out! (I use a Kaiser brand spring form, which are supposed to be leak-proof, so I've since exchanged it for a different one...I must have gotten a fluke!) So I had to transfer it to a glass pie pan. It baked just fine that way. After refrigerating overnight, the texture in the center was smooth and creamy, yet firm. But like I mentioned, the edges got a little grainy. Now at 200 calories per slice (1/8th of the whole cake!) it was really good and not bad at all in the calorie department.

3) High(er)-calorie version (aka, only make when serving to guests)

Actually, even though this is the high calorie version, it still has nothing compared to regular cheesecakes that have like 400 calories for 1/16 of the cake. So, for this version, I basically followed the recipe: regular cream cheese, 2% greek yogurt, 4 whole eggs, 150 grams of sugar (about 3/4 cup). I also added, in addition to the tbsp of vanilla, a real vanilla bean. I gotta say, the vanilla bean was well worth the cost and effort (effort b/c I had to walk over to whole foods just to pick up the 1 bean and shell out $6 for it). Baking this time was a little weird. I noticed the edges started to crack (very slightly) around 33 minutes, but I thought it would be way too soon to take it out. So at 37 minutes, I did the jiggle test and it just jiggled in the middle. I was a little shocked at this point at how fast this cooked and I really didn't want to have another mealy cheesecake, so I panicked and took it out way too fast, hence the cracking in the photo. Going from a hot oven to an air conditioned kitchen was too much for my little cheesecake to handle. But not a big deal, since I would be covering the entire thing in fruit.

I was worried about it not setting up, but let me tell you, this turned out amazing! It might have been ever so slightly under-baked, but the texture was almost a cross between a firm custard and cheesecake. I hesitate to use the word "custard," b/c it was not runny at all, but it was silky smooth like a custard, but still firm and sliced beautifully after chilling overnight. It tasted like creme brulee and I know the vanilla bean added a whole new dimension to this version. I topped this one with a thin layer of strawberry preserves and fresh berries. Asians dislike anything too sweet, so I refrained from using a nice glaze to make the fruit look prettier. Anyway, I like how fresh, wholesome fruit looks (sans gelatinous glaze) on desserts. So for the final calorie count, each 1/8 slice had 230 calories, plus about 15 for the fruit topping. Totally worth it and it tasted like a million decadent calories!

My entire family loved this and everybody ate a big, fat slice, even after filling their bellies up with a full BBQ lunch. My grandmother said that it was the best dessert I had ever made and that it wasn't too sweet (believe me, not being "too sweet" is a huge compliment). That, right there, is a sign of one tasty dessert!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oat Raisin Balls


I used to love baking. And when I baked, I only used pure butter and real sugar. But then I stopped baking, mainly b/c I would gain too much weight from sampling all the treats I would make! So it was either all or nothing for me.

Lately, I have been in the mood for some really oat-y oatmeal raisin cookies. Normally, if I wanted a cookie or treat, I'd tell myself that I'm better off buying one from the store, rather than baking up a few dozen treats that would continually call out "eat me!" every time I walked into the kitchen.

Well, I finally broke down and started baking again b/c I just couldn't find the exact type of cookie I was craving. I didn't want something that was decadent...I wanted it to taste oat-y and wholesome. I took an existing recipe and replaced all the fat with applesauce, and the egg with egg whites. I've been trying to eat mainly wholesome foods lately, so it really pains me to admit this, but for the first time in my life, I used Splenda granulated for baking. I really try to avoid all artificial sweeteners (trying to make up for all the years of drinking too much diet soda and openly embracing any and all artificial calorie reducers w/o question), and I've been doing a pretty good job, but when 1 cup of regular sugar is over 700 calories, the 44 calories in 1 cup of splenda was just too enticing!!

Oat Raisin Balls
1 cup (120 grams) Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 tbsp unsalted butter (or substitute 1/4 cup applesauce)
1 cup Sugar - 1/2 white, 1/2 light brown sugar (or substitute 22 grams Splenda granulated)
1/4 cup Applesauce
1 Whole Egg (or substitute 46 grams egg whites)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1-1/3 cup (160 grams) Rolled Oatmeal
1/2 cup (80 grams) Raisins

Set oven to 375F. Combine dry ingredients (Flour, Powder, Soda, Salt, Cin). In a large mixing bowl, combine butter or applesauce with the sugar, then mix in the egg, rest of the applesauce, and the vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients in 2 batches. Try to only stir about 10 strokes with each batch you dump in to prevent over mixing. Then stir in oats and raisins. There will be a lot of oats, but mix until things start to stick together.

I measured out 15 balls at 35 grams each. Baked for 9 minutes. If you didn't use any butter/fat in the recipe, these will not spread, so flatten them a bit before you bake. Actually even in you follow the original recipe, there is still very little fat in them, so you should still flatten them a bit.

How did it taste? Almost Perfect! It was an oat filled treat that tasted predominantly of oats, then raisins, and just a little bit of doughiness to gently keep it all together. The only down side would be the bitter aftertaste of knowing that I purposely exposed myself to all the unknown health dangers of using Splenda in large quantities, but the tradeoff saved about 50 calories per cookie. Each oat ball had about 97 calories. So I guess pick your poison, obesity or cancer. Today, I took the shallow road.

Speaking of Splenda, back in my days of reckless artificial sugar abandon, my mother bought me a costco sized box of Splenda single serving packets. There were 2000 packets in that box. The box is not empty yet, which I suppose is a good sign that I practiced some restraint on Splenda usage. I can't bring myself to toss the box, b/c honestly, I still use it from time to time, but in moderation. So instead of using it 5 times/day, now I might use it 5 times/month. I don't think Splenda is necessarily evil, but my thing now is everything in moderation...that goes for anything artificial or natural.

So back to the oat ball, the original recipe is supposed to be quite tasty, so I will encourage other people to take the wholesome route and bake w/o fear of real butter or sugar! Plus they will look a lot prettier than the fat oat balls I made!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kale Chips



A yummy, crispy, light-as-air plate of baked kale. If you've ever tried roasted nori, these kale chips taste very similar. There are so many variations on how to bake these, but I just tear up bit sized pieces of kale, spray lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake @ 425 until they are a bit browned and crispy.

You can also use baby spinach, which is even easier, especially if you buy them in the pre-washed bags. Just pour a single layer of baby spinach onto a baking pan, lined with foil and non-stick spray, and bake at 425 until brown and cripsy (maybe about 10 minutes?). You don't even need any salt or oil on the spinach to crips them up. They get so paper thin and crisp. You can eat a whole bag of spinach in like 2 handfuls!

On a different topic, I can't believe it has been over a year since we last posted! Work consumed us and left us with little time for actual life! But right now, I am beginning to re-prioritize and leaving the rat race is my first priority!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Little Flower Candy Company Cafe

We walked over to a small cafe on Colorado Boulevard near Eagle Rock a few Saturdays ago. It's not a place you would just stumble upon...if you find yourself there, then you definitely went there with a purpose. It seemed like a popular spot for "well to do" locals. While we were there, the three separate groups of people who came in for lunch all knew each other. One group was exercising for a bike tour of Argentina.

Then Jonathan Gold wrote a mini-review for LA Weekly! He talked about the caramels, which were indeed very good, but he neglected the marshmallows!! The marshmallows are large, dense, vanilla flavored, cubes (available in a variety of colors) with a dusting of crunchy sugar. They are very sweet on their own, but dropped into a mug of hot chocolate, the marshmallow slowly melts and infuses each sip of hot chocolate with a sweet vanilla creaminess. You can also buy a different brand of marshmallows that are flavored strawberry, blood orange and vanilla (main post picture at top). The flavors were mild and the texture was more of a traditional marshmallow...light and fluffy.

We had sandwiches. I had the curry chicken sandwich and c.yummy had the tempeh. The tempeh tasted wholesome and healthy. The curry was a little too wet, but the seasoning was perfectly balanced.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

LA Acura Bike Tour 03.02.08

This morning, we got up at 3:15am to make our way down to the Coliseum to bike the annual LA Marathon. We had biked the LA marathon once before in 2006, so we felt like veterans returning to a familiar event. Actually, back in 2006, this was the event that introduced us to the world of fun runs and bike tours. Before that, we had never been to an expo, never felt the stress of trying to navigate through the masses to find parking, never felt the fleeting joy of getting a complimentary medal at the end of an event, never felt the the physical exhaustion while at the same time feeling exhilarated because you are surrounded by thousands of people that are going through the exact same thing.

The 2006 route took us through the trendy and hip West LA area. We weaved through celebrity shops on Robertson, flew by famous eateries on La Cienega, waved to the Beverly Center as we turned into the wealthy Hancock Park area...the whole route took place far west of downtown. After all, this is LA, this is where you can get laser teeth whitening done while you pick up your race packet at the expo! Downtown was not the place to be in 2006.

But things were different this time. For the past few years, the emphasis in this town is all about downtown LA. Everyone wants that gritty city living popularized by all those NY based TV shows. So I wasn't too surprised with the new route (since 2007), but I was quite intrigued. The route took us through some shady parts of LA. The course initially took us through the streets of South Central (is it strange that I heard roosters crowing and saw a real live horse in someone's front yard?) and then led us through East LA. This was not the scenic LA route I was envisioning! But as I rode by all the industrial and dilapidated buildings, I realized that this was as much a part of LA as the glitzier side.

The ride itself is quite easy. The first time I participated in this event, I had not been on a road bike since about elementary/high school. But I didn't consider biking a difficult thing, I was not trying to break any records, and it was supposed be a fun ride, so mentally, biking was not an issue. Also, when you see little kids riding along next to you, you say to yourself, "you can soooo do this!" So much of these events are mental...if you believe you can do it, there is no stopping you! The only thing I was not prepared for was the pain in my rear end I felt from the bumpy bike ride! But you know what, pop an Aleve or Motrin prior to riding and much better! Oh, and wear some kind of gloves if you are biking in cooler temps...the wind hitting your hands can be quite numbing.

Overall, this was a very eventful ride. We finished, we got our complimentary medals, and we have another race under our belts. But, there's more to our story and it has to do with the bail out route. When you sign up for any race, there is always this warning that if you don't keep a certain pace, you will basically have to just give it up and just get out of the way. Well, so how did we (veterans of fun runs and bike events!!) end up in the bail out route? Long story that I'll have to save for another day...(if you see me in person, these are the trigger words...110 Vernon exit, water pack, single speed bike, Snickers, good effort)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mythbusters in Long Beach

We saw Mythbusters last night in Long Beach. I love this show!

Anyway, they did a show on whether pretty girls fart. The network wouldn't let them air the episode where they tried to light a fart. I didn't have a camera, but here's the youtube version.




Friday, February 15, 2008

Alcove Cafe - Silver Lake

Choala Yummy and I used to hike every Saturday morning at Griffith Park. We stopped after the fires last year.

She introduced me to Alcove Cafe, which is a nice little place to relax after hiking on a weekend morning. I especially like the chai tea.

Anyway, Scott Gold of the LA Times wrote an article about how a chess table in Alcove Cafe has become a neighborhood jewel. After reading the article, I really want to go again!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Macbook Air available in Pasadena

C.Yummy and I were in Old Town Pasadena last night. We walked into the Apple store and saw three Macbook Airs on display. (Apple ad)

There wasn't a lot of excitement about the Apple's latest laptop. In fact, there were only 3 other people checking them out.

I wasn't too impressed. We already have a Powerbook G4, Macbook, and 15" Macbook Pro.

The Macbook Air doesn't really add any must have features for me. But if Apple created a Tablet Mac...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Big Island Candies

One of my favorite treats comes from Big Island Candies. I remember when these were only available when family friends would be kind enough to gift us with these tasty shortbread cookies on their return trip from Hawaii. Now, the internet makes almost everything available at the click of a button. I ordered about a dozen boxes this past holiday season to keep on hand for last minute gifts. They are also perfect hostess gifts for dinner parties.

These cookies come is several different flavors, but I only ordered the milk chocolate dipped shortbread. The shortbread is crisp with a tiny bit of a soft crumble. When you bite into the cookie, you can see and taste the flecks of macadamia nuts sprinkled throughout. If you are a fan of caramel, the caramel chocolate dipped shortbread is simply decadent!! The caramel adds a slight chewiness to each bite that complements the crisp shortbread perfectly. I purposely did not order any of those because I would have eaten them all myself!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Funny snacks!

I found this fried chicken drumstick shaped snack at the Korean market today. It's so cute and funny!
Here are Oh Yes Choco Cakes. Presented for your delicious taste. Enjoy your happy times.
Ok, moving on from Asia to Europe, does anyone know where I can one of these Norwegian or Swedish Japp bars?

SoKongDong SoonTofu

There's nothing like a bubbling hot cauldron of Korean Tofu Stew on a cold winter morning.

When we want soondubu, we go to SoKongDong. We only frequent BCD when SoKongDong is closed. Today was no different. We drove to Koreatown and were a little early. SoKongDong opens at 10am. So we shopped for groceries at the Hannam Chain slightly to the west.

SoKongDong is hard to find. It's in a mini-mall on the south side of Olympic near Vermont. Unfortunately, you cannot see it even from the parking lot, but there are signs. Look for the orange "Tofu" signs and you will find the entrance on the 1st floor corner of the mini-mall. In the picture to the right, the gray column hides the actual entrance.

To those uninitiated to Korean food, soondubu can seem exotic. It is soft tofu cooked in a rich broth spiked with Korean red chili powder. To this base, you can choose to add mushrooms, beef, pork, clams, shrimp, kimchi, tripe, or beef dumplings.

While you wait, you will be served several small cold side dishes (panchan). These may include: marinated bean sprouts with hints of sesame oil, lightly pickled crisp and spicy Persian cucumbers, fish cake with sweet onions, kimchi (Napa cabbage preserved with salt, chilis, garlic, and anchovies), and raw spicy crab. These are meant to be shared family style, and you can ask for more.

You will also be served rice cooked in a black stone bowl. Don't touch it! It's really hot! The servers will scoop the rice out for you into metal bowls. Just like bread, rice sometimes tastes better toasted. You can eat the toasted rice directly from the stone bowl or add water to loosen it from the bowl.

The soondubu will come out in the same type of black stone bowls. It will come out seething, hissing, and bubbling. You will be given raw eggs. You can crack one into the bowl - it'll be hot enough to cook the egg.

Here are two secrets. First, I add the raw spicy crab to my stew. It sweetens the broth, and the crab tastes better cooked than raw. Second, if you add water to your stone rice bowl, remove the rice scoop. If you leave it in the bowl, the rice won't be as toasty.

There are other items on the menu, like grilled meats, tofu salad, and dumplings.

Our recommendations:
C. Yummy - Mushroom, no meat, extremely spicy, egg whites, sometimes kimchi.
C. Bear - Mushroom, pork, medium spicy, whole egg, raw spicy crab.

Total bill: $18.40

SoKongDong
2716 W Olympic Blvd, Suite 104
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pasadena noted in "Real Homes of Genius"

I just wanted to mention that our city was featured on Dr. Housing Bubble's blog a few days ago. The story of a $1 million home is highlighted here.

In general, I think that long time homeowners are going to be fine, and will have a nice profit if they were to sell. (Peter Hong's article in the LA Times illustrates this point.)

However, those homeowners who bought in the last few years or those who took out mortgage equity will have a hard time meeting their debt service. I hope things will be OK for them, but deep down, I think they are in trouble. I pray that they will be able to keep their homes, assets, and families intact.

BUT, my sympathy only extends so far.

The next few months will be very interesting.

Tofu Stew


Despite this picture and story from the LA Times about BCD, we still patronize Sokongdong more often.

I'm sure Hee-sook Lee worked very hard to build her business, which is always open.

However, when it comes down to taste, it's a very subjective call. We prefer the flavors at Sokongdong, and we think the rice and kimchi are much better too. (That's very important for Asians.)

I just realized that we've never blogged about Sokongdong (but we have reviewed Beverly Soondubu). We'll have to post about this little gem next time!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York

We saw Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, at the Pasadena Distinguished Speaker Series.

It was a cold and rainy Wednesday night. She came in from Beverly Hills, a two hour commute.

She spoke from the heart. Unlike previous speakers (Doris Kearns Goodwin comes to mind), her talk was unscripted. She was open, funny, honest, and a little irreverent.

She spoke about her childhood, especially her parents' divorce when she was 12. That event seemed to influence her greatly and started her on the road to overeating. She felt alone and abandoned after her mother moved to Argentina and her sister married at 17 to a sheep farmer in Australia. Food was her great comfort.

She then talked about her marriage at age 23 to her Prince Charming, Prince Andrew. They were introduced by Princess Diana. She talked about how she only saw him for 40 days a year for the first five years of marriage. Though she talked about how communication, compromise, and compassion are so important in marriage, she said that the long separation resulted in their divorce. However, she has an excellent relationship with him now.

She spoke passionately about her two children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. She spoke passionately about how a certain British reporter wrote a story to complain about the amount of money the British citizens were spending to protect "Miss Piggy Pampered Princess." She called this reporter repeatedly and did not receive a call back. So, therefore, who was the coward? Also, she found out that this certain reporter had 3 children and she had a HUGE backside, so there!

She spoke about her work helping children around the world. She told a story about helping African children.

Towards the end of the evening, she was asked who she felt were the most influential people she had met. She told stories of visiting the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. The advice she learned was to move on with life without regret and to apologize and right wrongs in the present and not later.

Finally, she told a story about her rag doll, Little Red, and how her children's charity was in the World Trade Center. And she told the story about how Little Red was found in the rubble after 9/11 (Larry King CNN transcript).

Overall, a fun and lighthearted evening. Tickets for the Pasadena Speakers Series can be found here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Doo Dah Parade

We love parades!

Just three weeks after the Rose Parade, the Doo Dah Parade marched into town. They were definitely marching to the beat of a "different" drummer. We saw nearly topless ladies, cross dressing belly dancers, bizarre circus acts, war protesters, wacky bands, and advocates for legalization of marijuana. Stuff you might see in West Hollywood or San Francisco, but NOT in staid Pasadena.

Here were some members of the Disco Drill Team and their tribute to the Village People.


And here were the Benzedrine Monks. If you look closely, the monk in the middle looks suspiciously like Elvis.


Unfortunately, the pictures didn't turn out that well. We were in Old Town to buy thank you cards at Papyrus, and we had forgotten about the Doo Dah Parade. The only camera we had to capture these memories was my iPhone. Oh well... I'll be better prepared next year!

But, at least, I caught some parade beads for Choala Yummy!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

$52 Million Pasadena estate

As I mentioned, Choala Yummy and I enjoy walking around town to get some exercise. Earlier today, we wandered over to Peet's on Lake Avenue (which is by the defunct Wild Oats market). Afterwards, we decided to stroll around the neighborhood.

We were lost in conversation when we ambled past this monstrous house. What little we could see from the street level was amazing, and we searched for it online when we got home. Well, here it is on [megadreamhomes.com].

It's 35,000 square feet on 5 acres of flat land. It has 15 bedrooms and 19 bathrooms! There are three levels. The main floor has the grand foyer, library, and ballroom. The second level has a media room, four master bedroom suites, and four regular bedroom suites. The lower level has a wine cellar and indoor pool-spa (wow!) and an eight-car underground garage.

The grounds include a lake, sports court, and Grecian-style swimming pool. (Curious bears want to know - what are Grecian-style pools?)

We'll have to go back to check it out again. It's only 1.6 miles away, but our circuitous route was 2.5 miles.

BTW, I wonder who's going to buy this place. Our economy's tanking, so maybe a rich celebrity or foreign dignitary? Just for fun, I calculated the mortgage payment on a $50 million dollar 30 year fixed rate loan at 6%.

Any guesses?

It's $300,000 per month!

BTW, I found 2 lucky pennies on our walk. I only need to find 15 million more pennies, and I'll have enough for one payment. Better dust off the old metal detector!