Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Made My Very First Diaper Cake!

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The front and back of my first diaper cake!

When I was pregnant with Chase, my girlfriend made me a diaper cake for my baby shower. The diapers really came in handy as we went through so many of them during those first few months. I knew I'd want to pay it forward someday and that day came when we celebrated my girlfriend's coed baby shower this past weekend.

I used a big Costco sized box of #1 diapers and a smaller box of newborn diapers for this cake - over 250 diapers in total. And with all those diapers, this cake weighed a ton! I wrapped a square cork bulletin board with cute fabric to use as the base. Then added a few goodies throughout - a couple of books, Motherhood nipple cream (so silky smooth!), and a cute onesie.

Playing Corn Hole in LA

It was funny that so many people thought the cellophane-wrapped cake was a real cake with frosting and were disappointed to find out that it was a diaper cake! But the real fun was reconnecting with old friends, sharing stories of life and our little ones (when applicable), playing competitive corn hole in the backyard, and toasting to the new soon-to-be parents with some good home-brewed beer!

Drinking home-brewed beers

Now I'm not much of a beer connoisseur, but I did enjoy their Cream Ale. Refreshingly light and absolutely perfect on a warm, sunny LA afternoon.

I'm inspired by them to try a new hobby of my own one day - winemaking! I wonder if we can grow grapes in our backyard? (Going on the bucket list!)

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Celebrating Baby Mojo!
Oh, happy babies!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Out&About > Annual Terminal Island Picnic

Annual picnic sign with kiddie race prizes below

I grew up going to the annual Terminal Island picnics with my family down in San Pedro. I remember the bento lunches that my grandmother used to make, the fun races and water balloon tosses, the old time Japanese enka singers, and the mochi being tossed off the stage for everyone to catch. I also remember going out to the rocks and catching small crabs with other young kids I met at the picnics.

Families picnicking

I don't know when the picnics moved from San Pedro to Buena Park, but the spirit of the Terminal Island picnics remains the same - with generations of families eating homemade bento lunches, races and games for the children, old timers singing in Japanese on the stage, and ending the day with the annual mochi toss. And I was so happy to introduce this family tradition to MS and my own little man.

It was wonderful to see my grandmother chat with her longtime friend who was the emcee for the day. She confided in me that he's 91 and looks really good for his age. For someone who's only a couple years younger, I think my grandmother looks really great!

"I love my baba!"

Here she is with my little man. And I know she's absolutely smitten with him, as he is of her.

The picnic has been around for years, for those who lived in Terminal Island to reconnect after the war and to share those connections with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My own grandmother was born in San Pedro, but went to live with her grandparents in Japan while she was young. She and her brother were educated in Japan, while her parents and younger sister were sent to Manzanar. (I wrote a post about my great-grandparents and Manzanar back in 2006.)

I can't fathom what it was like for them, being separated by distance, years and a devastating war that spanned the world. But I know that I come from a family of strong survivors, and I hope to pass on as much as I can of our family's histories, traditions and legacies to my own son.

The races are about to begin!

My grandmother stood by me as we waved to MS, Chase and our other family members getting ready for the games to begin. The first running race was for the little "chibis" - who were 1-4 years old. And although my little man didn't understand the concept of racing, I think he enjoyed watching the older kids running across the field, including his cousin who's three.

"I may have come in last place, but I won a brand new blue chair!"

I'm hoping for more years of Terminal Island picnics with my grandma and family! Four generations of family fun, good food, and wonderful memories!

Happy picnicking!

Terminal Island - a history and overview

George Bellis Park
Picnic Grounds in Buena Park, CA

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Out&About > Wine Weekend Away

Succulents at the Succulent Cafe

My first overnight trip away from my little man and husband was last weekend, and I was a wee bit nervous.

Was there enough food in the fridge? Extra pancakes, leftovers, milk - check.

Would I be missed? Call when I arrived at our destination - check.

When we arrived at Succulent Cafe in Solvang for lunch, I called MS to find that little man was eating a rice ball with Daddy, having fun with Grandma and Grandpa, and getting ready for an afternoon at the zoo.

He didn't miss me at all.

Beef Dip Sandwich with au jus & side of root vegetables

But I missed him. So I drowned my sorrows with a delicious sandwich, getting ready for an afternoon of wine tasting.

I ate the whole thing in less than five minutes. All but the pickle, that is. I hate pickles and usually give mine to MS who loves them. But alas, he was having fun with our little man over nigiri balls and elephants at the zoo.

Wine & Cupcake Pairing = Genius!

So when it was time for wine tasting at Saarloos and Sons in Los Olivos for my girlfriend's bachelorette weekend, I was ready! Too bad someone standing next to me wasn't, and somehow... a bottle of red wine crashed to the floor, leaving a pool of what looked like blood and shattered glass all around. I stood in my wedges, frozen to the scene of the crime. The evidence seeped onto my shoes, leaving red marks of shame for the guilty culprit who never owned up to the accident. (I swear, it wasn't me!)

Saarloos and Sons, Outside the House Saarloos and Sons, Courage
At Saarloos & Sons, Los Olivos

Thankfully, Keith Saarloos who conducted our wine tasting was ever so gracious - he cleaned up the spilled glass and wine, and didn't make us feel too bad about the mess.

We spent the next hour or so with Keith sharing his story with us, as he poured wine into our glasses. He spoke of his family, of his daughter and son - Hunter and Cash. And of his grandparents and great-uncle who lost his life while defending this country in WWII. And why he loves what he does. It was awesome, and many of us found ourselves with a huge man-crush on this family loving, wine-making, fun talking guy.

Saarloos and Sons, Enjoy Cupcakes
Enjoy Cupcakes: The Weekly Menu - YUM!

Each of us left with extra bottles of wine, and some of us- with much more. I bought five and signed up to be in their wine club family which got me three more bottles of wine. I'm hoping that all our business helped erase the earlier accident.

I also bought an extra flight of cupcakes - all of which were quickly devoured once home. My favorites? ALL of them! It's a shame that Enjoy Cupcakes is a two hour drive away! I'd go every day if I could! (Update: I finished one whole bottle of wine myself in two days. Yes, it was that good.)

Root 246 in Solvang, Green Salad
Pretty Green Salad, Root 246

We ate dinner at Root 246, the restaurant at our hotel. Perhaps it was the large number in our party (12), but it took a while to get our food. And at the end of wine tasting, we were super hungry. I shared the green salad that was nicely split in two bowls for us, but in hindsight, could have eaten the whole dish myself.

Root 246 in Solvang, Short Ribs
Braised Short Rib, Root 246

So when my main course arrived, I waited no time at all and cleaned the plate of every morsel. I probably could have eaten a second helping, if it were a meal cooked at home. Thankfully, my girlfriend shared her fries with me and I left happy and full.

We left the hotel with our driver, Mark and his Silver Cloud van, to end our evening out in Santa Barbara. Mark was nothing less than top notch! He went beyond our expectations by being friendly, professional, and one step ahead of us - with snacks during our wine tasting, hassle-free handling of all our bags and boxes, and refreshing cold waters at the end of our evening. I'd hire him again in a heartbeat!

Spa Cafe at Bacara Resort, Santa Barbara
Bacara Resort

The weekend ended with lunch at the Bacara Resort Spa Cafe in Santa Barbara. The day was overcast, but the resort hotel was bright and cheerful with fresh flower and fruit displays all around. The above was one of my favorites of bright orange and moss green.

Spa Cafe at Bacara Resort, Ahi Tuna Tartare
Ahi Tuna Tartare, Spa Cafe at Bacara Resort

Refreshingly light, we started with the tuna tartare with avocado in a soy ginger marinade. I stuck with an Asian menu and ordered the soy glazed chicken breast with basmati rice, broccolini, oyster and shiitake mushrooms pictured below.

Spa Cafe at Bacara Resort, Soy Glazed Chicken
Soy Glazed Chicken, Spa Cafe at Bacara Resort

The chicken was tender with a sweet and savory bite with its glaze and side of mushrooms. Again, I must have been hungry because I ordered an extra side of white rice to finish the dish.

It was a fun weekend with the girls, full of good eats and good drink. But once home, I was glad to be with my little man and MS again!

Happy travels!

Succulent Cafe & Trading Company
1555 Mission Drive
Solvang, CA 93463
(805) 691-9444

Saarloos and Sons Winery
2971 Grand Avenue
Los Olivos, CA 93441
(805) 688-1200

Silver Cloud Transportation, Mark
(805) 617-8742

Bacara Resort & Spa Cafe
8301 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA 93117
(855) 968-0100

Monday, May 13, 2013

BoLA Musings > Happy Mother's Day!

Mom & Me, circa 1979
Mom & Me, circa 1979

A friend asked, "Is this you and your mom, or you and your son?"

I love that she asked, because I never get told that I look like my mom.

My mom is beautiful, with big round eyes, a petite frame and a dazzling smile. I have my dad's nose, his small almond shaped eyes, and have inherited my family's premature gray (really, it's like salt and pepper) hair. I always get told that I look just like my dad.

But here, maybe it's the vintage Kodak print, the oversized 70s sunglasses or her downward glance... I see a little bit of me holding my son in her loving hold of me.

A Resemblance
Do you see a resemblance?

I think it's pretty clear from my baby photos that Chase looks a lot like me - something that makes me laugh inside. Knowing that there's a mini-me in the world. I can only hope, though, that he grows into a tall, handsome man - much like MS. (Especially since I'm 5'2" and I'm one of the taller ones in my family!)

So on my second Mother's Day weekend, we celebrated with our families, homemade cards and comforting eats of Thai and Chinese food. My white chocolate dipped fortune cookie fortune from Panda Inn?

"Enjoy the good luck a companion brings you."

So true. Thank you MS for being my companion and love in life! We got lucky when we were blessed with our healthy, beautiful and silly boy!

Family Photo
Our Little Family

Happy Mother's Day, every day!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Out&About > Scoops, a Parklet & a Park

Scoops, Highland Park
Ice cream for me. Ice cream for you.
(But mostly, for me.)

A few weeks ago, MS and I took Chase to York Boulevard in Highland Park. We had to go to the Post Office to deliver a package and some mail, so we decided to make an excursion out of it.

After a quick line at the post office, we walked over to Scoops for some ice cream. There's really no storefront sign in bright neon lights to indicate that it's an ice cream shop, or any real sign at all. But we found the small store and sampled a few flavors before we chose our preferred combinations. In all honesty, I completely forgot which two flavors I chose, except that one was some kind of caramel but both were deliciously sweet. Just means, we'll need to go back for more soon!

What's a parklet?
Not a park, not a parking space; but a space to park yourself by the sidewalk.

We walked across the street to the Highland Park Parklet and enjoyed our scoops of ice cream while sitting on the recently built parklet benches. That is, until the guy from behind the counter of the car parts store in front of the benches came outside and lit up a cigarette. Totally unnerving, especially since it was clear that we had a child with us. It was as if he was telling us to leave. Before that happened, I was planning to go in for a car part after we finished our ice cream. The shop reminded me of something I needed, but unfortunately, once he started smoking, I couldn't wait to leave. Maybe next time, he'll think twice about lighting up a cigarette and just maybe, I'll buy something from the store.

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And before heading home, we stopped at a favorite neighborhood park in Mount Washington - the Cleland Avenue Bicentennial Park. There's a lot of green space for kids and dogs to run around, and a nice sized play area that Chase loves. This time, though, he wanted to play peek-a-boo and with a smile  like his - who can resist?

Happy days!

Scoops, Highland Park
5105 York Boulevard | Los Angeles, CA 90042
Mon-Sat: 2pm-9 pm, closed on Sundays
Cash only

Cleland Avenue Bicentennial Park
4800 Cleland Avenue | Los Angeles, CA 90042
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