P.S. I Love You

Dear, I thought I’d drop a line: the weather’s cool, the folks are fine.

Maybe last Saturday night confirmed my fears but I think I officially leveled up to a middle-aged soul.

To revisit the topic of nostalgia, I had another experience that brought me right back to childhood. My sister can (and probably will in the comment section) attest to the uncountable times that our father had us listen to the contralto vocals of the Diana Krall. Shit almost hit the fan when I found out she would perform at The Fox Theater this year.

Incase you missed the memo about who is Diana Krall, she is a two time Grammy winning, seven multi-platinum album having best-selling jazz artist of her time. (thanks Wiki)

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I usually aim for general admission so I can be as close as possible to the performers, but we settled for balcony seats since Diana is stationed at her piano the whole time. Also note that this is the second time this year I have found my way across the Bay Bridge- world record, y’all.

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We hit unexpected traffic heading across the bridge, so had little time to get some food in before the concert started at 8p. A quick Yelp search led to what was named as “the best grilled cheese ever” at Dogwood just down the street from the Fox.

They took 20 minutes so I was really excited because it must have been made with lots of love.

Another PS: I am a pretty smart cookie, but I did not realize I had two dimples until I was editing this picture below. Well, I knew I had two dimples at some part in my life but one went into hibernation for a few years and it just now came back recently!

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We ordered two grilled cheese to share, one custom (salami, pepperoncinis, truffle oil) and the other Cubano. They were really tasty but also very thin- I was still famished before even leaving the bar. We had to stop by In-N-Out on the way home, which is not much to complain about.

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The historical Fox theater is not your average concert hall. The attention to detail is incredible inside, I wish I could have taken a real picture but I was not going to be that person. You can still see a lot of the original middle-eastern/roaring 20s influences from the first owner.

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My review of Diana Krall? So amazing, seriously. Listening to live music really makes you live in the moment. All she had on stage was her piano, drummer, strings, fiddler (Stuart Duncan, omg) and key-man. No background music, nothing and they produced the music all by themselves.

With such a big auditorium, she still managed to create an intimate mood with stories of her past and her sultry banter.

I was a little nervous going into the concert because I read reviews and she seemed to play mostly music from her new CD- songs that nobody really knows instead of her classics. She surprised the audience and took requests for about 30 minutes in the middle of her setlist. Hearing her play her new album was good, hearing her play songs that I loved was on another level.

A few of my favorite songs: (aka go download/youtube them now)

S’Wonderful, Besame Mucho, P.S. I Love You (cue title), Case Of You, Cry Me A River and Peel Me A Grape

Anyone you want to go see that you have not had the chance yet? Yes, Tony Bennett! Although I have to do it soon before the old guy needs to be wheeled around. There is just something about being brunette in a crowd of white hair. 🙂

Jacque Attack

Hello beautiful, how are you enjoying this fine Thursday?

We are getting a little bit of rain here and there, which makes me happy because I ordered an umbrella off Amazon a month ago and finally get to put it to good use.

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One sentence back story: Jacq just finished her Organic Chemistry test the day before and I am celebrating spring break, so we decided a hike was in order.

I picked her up a little late and we drove down the street to fuel up with chocolate croissants and juices. (imagine our blood sugar levels like this- __^__)

She found a cool Oakland trail that we both have not tried before and that is where we headed. To be honest, it is REALLY hard to find and we might have spent more time looking for the parking lot than actually doing our hike.

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It also started raining about half-way through, but luckily we had the giant redwood trees acting as a canopy and shielding us from the rain. Our original eight mile hike turned out to be a measly four mile hike. After factoring the uphills and unexpected climate change, I would pretty much call it even. 😉

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The redwoods in the area were second and third generation. From the signs we read while trekking, we learned that most of the giant trees were cut down in the 1800s for the gold rush boom (think lodging and building a city from scratch). We even found remnants of a few grandfather stumps.

PS: This is not one of those stumps, I just thought it was a cool looking tree.

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We refueled afterwards at a new-to-us place in Oakland named Hopscotch. Both of us do not fan out of San Francisco very often, so we felt like we were in a whole new world. A local food critic gave this place a good review, so I obliged with the duck fat chips to accompany my burger.

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Since I was so ravenous, Taylor and I went to go eat a good ol’ Italian dinner a few hours later. We can also rename this post as “girls with no faces”.

They had small and large servings at Aperto. Instead of both us eating proper serving sizes, we ordered three different pastas and rotated every few bites. Our waiter was impressed.

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Oh, also we cannot forget to talk about the meatballs. Clearly today was not my most healthiest days of eats…how I am not three million pounds by now is beyond me.

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In not so blog-worthy moments of my day, I am just working, volunteering and eating unphotographable food.

What is the most exciting thing to happen in your week? I got a really exciting fortune in my cookie the other day, which makes me consider how eventful my week actually is.

Year Of The Horse

新年快乐! Happy Chinese New Year to everyone!

Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year and the ways of celebrating are day and night compared to the New Years we know.

If you are born in 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954 or 1942, this is your year! Your Chinese zodiac sign is the Horse; they are known for being hard-working, motivating and clever.

The Chinese are all about being prosperous, good fortune and health. There are little traditions we do to ensure that the new year treats us well.

Starting the festivities is usually a parade filled with fire crackers, lion dancing and children dressed in silk robes and garments.
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I missed the lion dancing when I went to the fair last weekend, which sucks because it is actually my favorite part of the holidays ever since I was a little nugget. Legend has it that the echoing of the drums and the clangs of the cymbals are suppose to help scare away bad spirits.

(the lions take a few minutes to wake up but it is definitely worth checking out!)

(this one is really intense, I never seen them go on pedestals before)

Red envelopes (lai see) are one of the most recognized traditions of Chinese New Year. Children and unmarried young adults will tell their elders Gong Hay Fat Choi! and collect the lucky money. People you are not really close to will give you two dollars or so, but your family will give you anywhere from $20-$100 in the envelopes. I used to get so many when I was younger, you can see how I am not letting go of the one in my little hands in the picture below.

Also note how I am decked out in almost every shade of red possible, I think it is clear that red is the lucky color of Chinese culture.

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CNY is not all fun and games, no sir. We have to start the new year fresh, so we clean the whole house the day before to sweep away bad fortune, wear new clothes and get a haircut. That way we are entering with all the bad luck gone and more space for good.

Finally, the most important tradition is to spend time with your family and enjoy a great meal together.

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The CNY dinner involves pretty much everyone in your family, your closest friends and every other Asian person down your block. There are a lot of meats, hot pot, potstickers and clementines.

Some might say that this was just an excuse for me to post pictures of when I was younger and I will plead the fifth. If I could start a successful blog where I post a #tbt of myself everyday, then game over. There are so many more cultural traditions, folktales and little things to do during Chinese New Year, but I want this to be an on-going documentation for the following years.

Remember to wear red today!

Does your culture have any special activities for the new year?

Any questions you have about how we celebrate?

Where To Start…

I am going to rename my blog to ‘posts in dash form with food sometimes’. It might have to do with me being a little distracted by the red carpet…or the fact that Beyonce is performing in less than fifteen minutes.

-Home grounded meatballs

I finally used my new meat grinder on Thursday and life has officially changed. Picking two different meats to combine was a bit overwhelming, but I ultimately decided on a half chuck and half brisket mixture. I made the meatballs on Friday and they came out perfect. I hardly had to season them besides salt, pepper and herbs de provence.

You really cannot go wrong with a home made pasta sauce made with Roma tomatoes and white wine either. Thank you, Alton Brown.

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-Dim sum in Chinatown

Abby and I try to see each other as often as possible and we both had a window open on Saturday for lunch. I promised her dim sum for her late birthday present and made it all the way to her side of town, only to remember that it was the Chinese New Year Fair in Chinatown.

Telling you it was crowded is an understatement. I will just show you instead.

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In the midst of the crowds was Chinatown’s own local celebrity. He plays his erhu in the beginning of the movie Pursuit of Happyness (starring Will Smith).

Yes, that is a Santa hat and you better believe he was rockin’ out to Jingle Bells. I did not have the heart to tell him that he was a little too late.

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2014 is the Year Of The Horse. Chinese New Year will probably be explained in my next post, as it falls on the 31st this year. There are so many customs, traditions and celebration involved and I want to share a piece of my culture with you.

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Abs wanted to show off her jellyfish eating skills.

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I wanted to show off all the delicious things we ordered. I love taking my friends to dim sum because they get to try dishes out of their comfort zone. Come to San Francisco and it will be mind blowing, I promise.

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-Weekly cleaning

The kind people at Zabada Clean sent me a few pieces of bathroom cleaning supplies to test out and report back to you. Although household supplies is not a normal topic on my blog, I found these interesting because you do not need to use any of your normal cleaners with them- only water.

Part of living a healthy lifestyle is being responsible for your environment and trying to be sustainable. I drink out of glass water bottles instead of plastic, bring my reusable bags to the grocery store and compost as much as possible, but now I am thinking about getting one of the industrial aluminum bottles. My one vice is cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, I use so many paper towels that is it truly embarrassing. The Zabada cleaning supplies makes it easy for you to wash in their laundry bag and reuse; thus, reducing waste.

From their website:

While the water goes to work on loosening the dirt, Zabada’s ultra-fine and unique thick-pile fibers replace the whole yucky chemical process to achieve an unbeatable result – removing up to 100% of bacteria. Without getting too nerdy, it’s a deep-cleaning mechanical process that shaves off and traps the dirt, grease and bacteria deep in the fiber, and only releases them when the fibers are washed.”

My review is that I am surprised at how well they worked without using any store bought cleaners. I followed the video instructions found on their website (which had a great design made by a web design company according to what you can read on their site), so I put a little water on one edge and went to work. Shiny clean! However, I cannot speak for heavy duty stains and cleaning jobs since I already do a light cleaning every week and only had surface stains. You can probably get it out with a little elbow grease, though.

They have products for your bathroom, kitchen and living room. It seemed a little pricy when I checked their website but you kind of have to think of the supplies as investment pieces.

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-Acme & taleggio

Nothing like a Acme baguette and taleggio cheese to celebrate the last day of freedom before school starts. I am already dreading waking up tomorrow.

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-Giveaway

to intriduceAs we decided

Congrats to Amy H. for winning FAOT’s first giveaway! I hope to have another one for you coming soon.

What is your favorite cheese? I want to take a cheese class and expand my knowledge. Get out of my comfort zone, you know?