Wednesday, June 30, 2010

wedding weekend

My brother's wedding was this past weekend. I can truly say it was a very good wedding--the best one I've been to so far! N and I were busy helping prep/set up for the event a few days before, and we also took care of the rehearsal dinner (which was 90% taken care of by Costco). All went well, and I don't think I've seen my brother happier.

I'm sure many photos from the wedding will appear on facebook, so I won't cover that here. N and I did grab brunch with my sister and brother-in-law in downtown Carmel on Sunday before we drove back down to LA, though. We had a nice meal at one of the tons of dog-friendly restaurants there (which we needed since we had Stewie with us and my sister and bro-in-law had their puppy Yooni with them!). The restaurant brought out a water bowl and a plate of biscuits for the two pups, which was cute.

Afterwards we walked down to the Carmel beach, which is supposed to be one of the best dog-friendly beaches in the country. It's also stunning--100% white sand, people surfing on the water, dogs splashing around leash-free. It was the first time we ever brought Stewie to a beach, and I'm pretty sure it's the first time in his life he ever got to be on a beach off leash. He went crazy! He was sooooo happy. He blitzed all around the sand and accidentally kicked some onto the heads of some sleeping women on a blanket and woke them up. I profusely apologized but once they realized it was Stewie that did it they were very amused. He had a blast. I think it's the happiest N and I have ever seen him.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hey Baby

Saw this on a blog several days ago. If you're a woman who's ever walked through a big city, you know the rage that boils up in you when you're cat-called, heckled, or otherwise harassed? Now there's an outlet for all that anger.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

toothpaste update

So I thought I found my dream toothpaste--Tom's of Maine fennel paste. When I read about it, I thought it was perfect--fennel (licorice) flavored, WITH flouride, but WITHOUT SLS (some chemical that makes toothpaste foamy--I don't have any specific problems with it, but why use it if I don't need it?), and NO artificial sweeteners. And it had some sort of natural abrasive for whitening, which I thought could be great. Regular whitening chemicals make my teeth hurt. A lot.

Although most stores carry Tom's of Maine products now, I couldn't find any drug stores or grocery stores that had this *specific* toothpaste in it. So I resorted to ordering a couple tubes online from (while also strategically ordering other products we needed to make sure I got free shipping. I never order stuff online unless I get free shipping!).

Two big things about this toothpaste: It is barely licorice-y at all. It tastes like nothing. And secondly, although it doesn't taste like anything specific, it is SWEET. I mean, I guess it's not sweet compared to your regular Colgate and Crest products (in fact it's probably much less sweet than those), but for a product that has "no artificial sweeteners," it is tooth-achingly sweet. I'm sure I'm biased because I've been using the fennel toothpaste from Trader Joe's for the past few weeks and it's only the slightest bit sweet, but when I first put this in my mouth it tasted disgustingly candy-like. And the fact that it didn't have any fake sugar in it made me there REAL sugar in this instead?? How can it possibly be this sweet without any fake sugar in it???

Of course, the ingredient list doesn't include SUGAR or CORN SYRUP on it or anything. But it does list "natural flavorings" which makes me suspicious. Hey...just because they're not sprinkling refined white sugar into this toothpaste, it doesn't mean there's no sugar in there. And just because it's not sugar on its own doesn't mean it's okay to brush your teeth with. I'm pretty sure whatever germs cause my cavities wouldn't reject naturally occurring sugar because they prefer refined sugar. I mean...I wouldn't brush my teeth with 100% fruit juice with fluoride added to it, right?

So I'm a bit torn. What's worse? Brushing your teeth with no flouride, or brushing your teeth with flouride+sugar? I've been trying to force myself to get used to this Tom's toothpaste, but I don't know if I can get over the sweetness that I know is real sugar. It also doesn't freshen the breath at all since the fennel is so weak. Luckily, Tom's of Maine has a great satisfaction guarantee where they'll refund the price of all their products and even pay for shipping back to them. I may end up taking them up on that offer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

goodbye, bus

Well..I survived almost 3.5 weeks of commuting on the Metro bus in Los Angeles. But this past Thursday...I hit the end of my rope. Maybe it was one too many fistfights (I saw ANOTHER one just a few days after the one I blogged about--where a man shoved around a woman!), one too many smelly homeless people, several too many buses packed to the ceiling with passengers, or possibly the many, many hours spent on traveling just 8 miles.

That's it. No more bus for me. I bit the bullet and paid for an annual parking pass at UCLA. And since we only have one car, N's taking the subway into work now (all the trains go into downtown). We'll see how his experience goes.

For awhile I made myself forget that public transportation was one of the main reasons why I wanted to leave NYC in the first place. I know it's better for the environment, it saves money, etc., etc....but ohmygoodness, I just can't relax when I'm on it. It's just constant stress. To me, public trans = stress. And riding the 60 minutes to work and then the 60+ minutes back just felt like I was tacking on another 120+ minutes to my workday. I didn't have that "Ah, a workday accomplished!" feeling of relief once 4:30pm (when I get out of work) hit. I had that " I have to wait 20 minutes for the bus" gray cloud settle over me. Then that cloud would start raining once the 6' 6" guy standing next to me on the bus stepped on my feet over and over again. By the time I'd get home, I'd be in a bad mood.

But heading over to my car at the end of the day...that is true relief. I'm in my own space, I can recline the seat to a comfortable position and go home speeding all the way if I want to. Not that I do, I just could. If I wanted.


Lakers won last night. N was all excited since he's never lived in a city/state with a winning basketball team before. Poor, poor N.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

the best meals of my life

Yesterday, I had one of the best meals of my LIFE. And it cost me $5.50. And came in a Styrofoam box. Thank you, Dino's, for this majesty:

There have been a few times in the past when the stars aligned and I ate something that completely floored me. It usually happens like this: A mouthful goes in, a billion sparks go off in my brain and I think, "Is that as good as I think it is???" I take another bite, the same sparks go off, and I think "Ohmygod--it is. It really is." One more: "THIS IS THE BEST EFFING THING EVERRRR." And the rest of the meal goes by in a timeless blur and I completely forget what is going on around me. A nuclear bomb could go off and I don't think I'd notice.

I'd call it a near out of body experience. And it's not just the food that makes the moment happen. I have to be in the right mood, with the right cravings, the right level of hunger, and in the right environment to gorge myself, and then it might happen. Meaning that the next time I eat this Styrafoam boxed chicken, it won't nearly be as awesome as the first time. And that certainly doesn't mean the chicken isn't good. It's good. Really good. It's just that nothing compares to the first time.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

LA public trans update

I have to make major modifications to my previous post on riding the Metro in LA.

1) The bus gets CROWDED. I was running late a couple mornings, and by 7am the bus is totally slammed. As long as I am running on time (which means getting on the bus at 6:30 or earlier) it's pretty empty. It doesn't help that the line I take passes a high school, so lots of students use the bus.

2) The bus is usually filled with a group of older Hispanic ladies who all take the bus at the same time, know each other, sit together and chat in Spanish, and all get off at the stop in Beverly Hills where all the driveways are private and gated. Somehow I don't think they live there...

3) Unlike NYC, very few people on the bus are listening to ipods, mp3 players, etc. 90% of people just stare off into space during the ride.

4) I got a subsidized monthly TAP pass from work, so now I pay 72 cents/ride.

5) There are few enough buses that run so that I know I'm going to get 1 of 2 drivers when I ride in the mornings and in the evenings back. Maybe we'll become BFFs! ;)

6) Public trans here is not void of the same kind of craziness that happens in NYC. The other day a fistfight broke out between two men right in front of me. Luckily it didn't get too intense. It was pretty funny seeing all the older Hispanic ladies yelling at the men saying "shut up! sit down! stop that!" at them. Somehow, I don't think the men were listening.

bichon frise upkeep

Stewie just went to the groomer. I knew when we first got him over a year ago that keeping his coat clean would be a challenge--all the stuff I read about bichon frises said that you had to brush their coat everyday to prevent mats. I thought that was an exaggeration, but I was wrong. Very wrong. I think Stewie's coat needs to be brushed at least twice a day to keep it 100% free of mats and tangles. I'm Stewie's self-appointed hair stylist...mostly because it drives me nuts if I see any kink in his coat. I'm constantly brushing hm, cutting his hair, pulling grass seed and burrs out of his fur, cleaning the tear stains on his face etc., etc. It's actually a pretty good outlet for me to funnel all my obsessive habits toward.

It's not a burden to me, but N says I spend a lot of time doing it, and I think all my efforts barely make him acceptable-looking. We bring him to the groomer a few times a year, and despite all of my efforts, every time we bring him there they had to shave him almost 100% naked to get rid of the mats that he had.

UNTIL this past time! I finally learned how to brush him thoroughly enough (it involves a combination of a slicker brush, metal toothed comb, mat remover, dried chicken treats, a solid 30 minutes of time, N holding him in place, and Stewie's Nylabone to let his frustrations out on) and the groomer was able to just give him a trim instead of a shave! Now he looks so
shockingly puffy, white, and cartoony that every time I walk him every person that sees him has to comment on his whiteness, cleanness, or prettiness. He's a marshmallow! And I am triumphant.



Sunday, June 6, 2010

a fantastic thing about our apartment

We don't have to separate our recyclables--the building pays the waste company to separate it for us. So our trash is recycled, but we don't have to think about it! We don't have to have 3 separate containers for trash, plastic, and paper, and since our one trash can is now padded with plastic and paper it gets tossed out very regularly and never reaches the point where it smells. Awesome.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grunion Run

This past memorial weekend, N and I got to do something I've been looking forward to for the last year: watch a grunion run.

Grunion are small ~6" long fish that are native to Southern California. They have this crazy mating habit where each year they come to southern california beaches on nights of full or new moons and ride a high-tide wave onto the sand. Females bury their tails into the sand just so their head is sticking out and lay their eggs 2"-3" deep while several males swarm all over her fertilizing them. Then the female flops out of the hole, and the fish wait laying on the sand until the next big wave brings them back to the water.

They come out in huge droves. And since they follow the moon, it can be pretty precisely predicted exactly what spring/summer nights they'll show up. N and I drove down to Cabrillo Beach (about 45 min south of us) at 10pm on Sunday night to catch the 11:05pm-1:05am run.

We'd never been to Cabrillo Beach before and all we knew was that the Grunion tend to run at the ends of the beach. So we brought flip flops and flashlights and wandered our way around the park. We saw a few folk gathering at one end of the beach, but we decided to try the opposite end. We had to climb over a good 10' rock wall to get to the sand, but it was sooooo worth it.

The grunion didn't like lights very much (they'd avoid us if we left our flashlights on for too long), so I only got one clear photo with flash:

And here's a photo of a new mom next to the hole she just laid her orange eggs in and flopped out of. It looks like the roe my parents eat in their Korean food. Yum.

And here it is in all its video recorded glory!:

It was so neat. Except the part where a wave came in and I didn't get out of the way fast enough, so a huge swarm of grunions swam into my feet. That was pretty gross.

the wheels on the bus

I've taken the LA Metro buses to work for a full week now. As with most public transportation, I only had a general idea of what bus to get on and when, so I certainly ended up taking a few unexpected detours and arrived at the office super early or really late sometimes.

And, as with most public transportation, it takes about twice as long to get to work than driving in a car. Which is a big drag. I try to go to bed at 9pm now, which is my sister's bedtime that I once scoffed about. What was she, some kind of senior citizen or 3-year-old? I guess I am now, too.

A few basic notes:
  1. Fare costs $1.25 (much less than NYC's $2.25). Just like the MTA in NYC, you need exact fare in cash (unless you have a card, called TAP cards here). Unlike the buses in NYC, you can't just dump your change down the slot. The coins have to be dropped in one by one.
  2. The buses are standard--very similar to the MTA's. When you want to get off, you pull the cord. The big thing that has NYC beat is that all the buses have automated recorded voice announcements that play telling passengers what intersection is coming up, so you always know where you are
  3. The bus drivers are all super friendly. Not one hasn't said "good morning!" to me when I got on. And the majority of the time, that's followed by a "And how are you??"
  4. The buses are all equipped with two screens that play trivia, news facts, etc (above). Too bad I can't look at them without getting car sick.
  5. The buses don't run that frequently. Sometimes I wait up to 20 minutes for the next one to come around.
  6. Even during rush hour, the bus is rarely full, but maybe that's just my line.
Except for the longer commute, it's a very pleasant ride. It stops right in front of my apartment and drops me off at UCLA. Right now, N's temp job doesn't have a clear ending date (if it ends at all), so I'm not sure how much longer I'll be riding. But one of the good perks of my job is that I get 50% off monthly bus passes, which would cut down our spending a lot.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

saturday morning


let me show off to you what N packed me for lunch today:

It may look a little haphazard, but let me tell you what's in it...which are some of my favorite things in the world...
  • roasted beets in balsamic vinegar
  • braised brussels sprouts (which are SO good)
  • green olives
  • sweet and spicy pickles
  • tomatoes
  • hard boiled egg
  • lightly steamed broccoli
  • chicken from the deli counter
  • goat cheese
  • sliced almonds
  • crumbled bacon
  • fresh mushrooms
  • shredded carrots
  • and, of course, spinach
  • all topped off with a from-scratch lemon mustard vinaigrette
be jealous. very, very jealous.