Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Though there are always so many things to be thankful for, this year, I am especially thankful for:

  • My family, who is patiently supporting me as I go through this belated quarter-life crisis with regards to my job and future. I will be a productive member of society soon, I promise.
  • My friends, especially the ones who, time and time again, have walked alongside me into the dark and back.
  • My church community, who points me towards the cross and without whom I’d be lonely and lost.
  • YOU. Friend, family, or stranger– I am so thankful that you take precious time out of your day to read this blog.

Tomorrow, I will be cooking a few sides (bacon-wrapped dates, cranberry couscous, garlic mashed potatoes, and possibly persimmon cookies!) and hauling them over to my sister’s for a cozy family dinner.

Enjoy your long weekend, folks!

xoxo,
Tina

Lurvin’: Japanese Goodies

My friends Jason and Fara recently came back from a trip to Japan with a few goodies as a gift. Not that we all don’t know that Japan has some of the cutest gadgets and stationary and toys and paper etc…. but I had to share anyway.

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They packaged everything in the cutest kraft paper polka dot box. Included– washi tape, edamame keychain (actually gifted from a prior trip to Japan, but whatevs), a “cleaner-upper” gadget, alphabet stamps, and my fave, flavored kit-kats!

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This toy/gadget is so random slash cute. You can roll it across a flat surface (like your desk) to pick up crumbs (probably eraser crumbs, or if you’re me, kit-kat crumbs :X). As the wheels turn, the two tiny brooms rotate back and forth and sweep the crumbs into a compartment that can be emptied. Genius.

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The cutest gold polka dot washi tape + letter stamps. Knowing that this washi tape is actually from Japan makes it seem more legit. Polka dots err’where. I love it.

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Um, how cute is this edamame keychain? The middle bean POPS OUT (it’s attached by a small cord). Ack, Japan. Too much.

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Finally, flavored kit-kats! I know Japanese markets in LA sell flavors like green tea and strawberry, but Japan ain’t about those commonplace flavors. Pictured here: 1) zunda (crushed sweet edamame) mochi– a local dessert from Sendai in Tohoku– it’s regional so you can’t get it anywhere else!, 2) azuki (red bean) sandwich, 3) shinshu apple, and 4) pumpkin. My fave was the zunda– but of course, the one that’s hard to find, even in Japan. -_-

Thanks, J&F! 🙂

A Day Full of Love & Splendor

Last Friday, I had the privilege of freelancing as an assistant coordinator with the lovely ladies of Love & Splendor, an event design firm. I’ve been a huge fan of their work so it was such an honor to join them! We coordinated a wedding for Van Ness Wu and Arissa Cheo at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach. What a GORGEOUS venue for a snazzy couple. The bride and groom enforced a no photograph policy all day (minus the actual photographers, of course), so the pictures below have been credited with the appropriate sources.

We started off the day in one of the villas (pictured below), where the girls had slept over the night before, and did some last minute detail work, like stamping muslin bags with a monogram and filling them with confetti. This probably sounds torturous to some but I love doing stuff like this. 🙂

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Picture above via here

Afterwards, we headed to the venue site and helped set up for the reception along with all the vendors, including Mike ColónJose Ortiz FilmsWhite Lilac and Casa de Perrin. By the time we were finished, the room was filled with gorgeous canopies of flowers, candles in hanging glass orbs, beautiful place settings, and tons of intricate details.

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Picture above via here

No pictures of the ceremony site, but the picture above is from Pelican Hill Resort’s website, and you get can a good idea of the general set-up and the ocean view– it was unreal, especially as the sun was setting during the ceremony and cocktail hour.

I manned the guest check-in with a few of the cousins of the bride and groom, flanked by Pelican Hill security. Following cocktail hour, we made sure the reception went smoothly. It was ridiculously hectic at times (think: literally running at some points), but the L&S girls were super on top of things. During the less busy times, we were able to take turns eating dinner, sample the desserts, and take photo-booth pictures.

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The photo booth had a custom step-and-repeat! Silly girls.

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Above: The only personal picture of the day, taken on the balcony of the villa by the girls’ makeup artist from 10.11 Makeup— Me, Koko, Angel, and Michelle. Aren’t they gorgeous??

I needed an outfit that was black-tie-appropriate but would also be comfortable enough to move around in– enter Rent the Runway, where I found this Nha Khanh dress. I loved it so much! It was black with lace detailing, knee-length, classy, comfortable, and had a pretty back cut-out. I paired it with black Tahari plaform pumps with gold detailing and a gold+pearl J.Crew necklace. Better pictures of the dress below:

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Pictures via Neiman Marcus

Van Ness and Arissa posted a few pictures on their Instagram accounts following the wedding, via photographer Mike Colón (eeep, his work is to die for…!)–

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Four pictures above via here and here

Aren’t they just stunning?? A few more pictures of the details– place-card menus here, their Louboutin shoes here (!!!), and their invitations/favors here. Truly a “rock-and-roll-fairy-tale-glam” wedding… which is exactly what they were going for. 😉

All in all, I was up from 5am to 1am the next day (20 hours) and “on the clock” for 15+ of those hours…! Longest day ever but so fun (and worth the cold I woke up with the next morning :X). Hopefully, I’ll get to freelance again soon. Thanks, L&S!!

Will Tina Make It?

This blog is 4 months old, and I’ve been asked this question frequently since I launched it: “So… are you trying to ‘make it’ with your blog?” Okay, maybe not in those exact words (I just like the pun), but it’s basically what people are asking me when they want to know about my ‘future’ plans with it.

The short answer is No. And the long…

I started this blog in July as a “passion project.” Technically, it was a few months prior to that, but it took me awhile to get the nerve to start publicly releasing my posts. As mentioned here, I just really needed a creative outlet with all the stress I was under at my previous job, and I’m genuinely happiest in life when I’m crafting/DIY-ing and whatnot. Blogging was just a fun way to document all of that.

Even though it’s only been 4 months, this blog has already brought me a lot of joy AND stress. Joy because.. well.. it’s required me to consistently be in some sort of creative zone (in the past, laziness often overcame my desire to ‘create,’ as well as the resulting joy I knew that would ensue). Also, joy because I’ve received a great deal of affirmation from various people who, for some crazy reason, say they enjoy my blog and encourage me to continue. Stress because damn, blogging is HARD. I had no idea. The amount of time, energy, and sometimes money that goes into regularly posting is not obvious, but it’s pretty ridiculous. There have been so many times I’ve wondered, “Why am I doing this again…?” and I need to remind myself that this is supposed to be fun, and I’m choosing to do this.

There are so many times when I’ve gotten discouraged because my content isn’t nearly up to par with those of “real” bloggers. But I realized I need to stop comparing myself to these bloggers who blog as a full-time job. Perfectly styled photo-shoots, amazing recipes, fancy DIYs, etc. etc.– what I was trying to keep up with is impossible– I’m doing this in my own free time and on my own dime, while many of those bloggers have staff, professional equipment, rented studio spaces, etc.

So I’ve committed to this blog for just One Year. Even though it’s been hard, I want to consistently post until July 2014, and if at that point, it still makes me happy and I genuinely want to continue it, I’ll decide that then. ‘Til then, no more pressure on myself to be at some certain blogging standard. No more outside influences or comparing. This blog is for me. And when I get to that point, I’ll say…

“TINA MADE IT.”

Foreals.

Tina Made Chicken Tortilla Soup

I know. LA was 90 degrees yesterday. Let’s disregard that, because I’ve got the perfect fall recipe for you, folks. This is the first and only chicken tortilla soup recipe I’ve tried (adapted from here), but I kinda love it so I’m sticking with it.

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Ingredients (recipe serves 6):

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts*
  • ~45 oz. low-sodium chicken broth (roughly 3 cans)
  • 1.5 cups chunky salsa
  • 1 can corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic + 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon olive oil
  • tortilla chips
  • Optional (to garnish): shredded cheese, cilantro, avocado, green onions, sour cream

*LAZY PEOPLE– Substitute chicken breasts for one of those rotisserie chickens you can buy at the market… you know, like Ralph’s or something. Cuts down on cooking time + dishes to wash.

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Pictured above– soup ingredients + optional garnish ingredients

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Boil chicken in water with one clove of garlic. If you’re using a rotisserie chicken, skip this step, obvi. Chop onion. I mentioned this last time, but how to properly/easily chop an onion here. Remove chicken from heat and let cool.

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While chicken is cooling, saute chopped onion in olive oil until browned. Heat chicken broth on med-high heat in large pot. Shred chicken– careful, it’ll probably still be hot! If you’re using a rotisserie chicken, just shred that. Boom.

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Add shredded chicken, salsa, onion, corn, black beans (rinsed), lemon juice, cumin, garlic, chili powder to pot. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least an hour.

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To serve– Break up tortilla chips and put in bottom of bowl. Pour soup over chips and sprinkle cheese on top (optional). Garnish with additional toppings of choice (e.g. cilantro, avocado, green onions, sour cream). I chose avocados and cilantro.

Note: If the soup tastes watery or bland, just wait! It will taste exponentially better as time passes (err…until it spoils, of course). I would highly suggest that you make it in the morning to eat for dinner, or make it at night, then eat it the next day.

Tina Made an Oilcloth Pouch

A short #waylatergram scheduled post– I’m away for the weekend in Yucaipa– be back later today! Hug a veteran you know today. 🙂

I made this oilcloth zippered pouch last year using Momtastic’s tutorial. Yes, apparently I read blogs with names like “Momtastic” and I am fine with that, mostly. (The tutorial was actually written by Liz Stanley of renowned blog, Say Yes to Hoboken— one of my faves).

I was won over by the tutorial when it claimed that knowing how to sew a zipper would separate a “beginner sewer” from an “intermediate sewer.” Agreed, Momtastic… agreed.

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The tutorial was pretty thorough in instructions and pictures, so no need for me to rehash the steps for you. But a few things to note if you want to try yourself.

First, when it talks about using a zipper foot on the sewing machine,  I literally had to Google it to see what it looked like and to see if one came with my sewing machine (it did). So you don’t have to do the same, here it is, off the sewing machine. Yep, I truly am (WAS. WAS.) a beginner sewer and am still learning…

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Image via here

Second, if you want a pouch with squared off bottom corners like mine (the tutorial has blunted bottom corners), it’s a super simple fix. After the pouch is sewn together, and right before you flip it right side out, use scissors to snip off the bottom corners like so:

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Image via here

After you flip it right side out, you can use a pencil or a chopstick or a knitting needle and poke it into the corners to create nice, sharp corners.

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I love oilcloth because you can wipe it clean. Good for writing tools (I made 3 for OT use when I was working at a school– one for pencils/erasers, one for crayons, and one for markers) but also great for makeup/makeup brushes. 🙂

Onto bigger and better sewing projects!

Badmaash

Last Friday, my girlfriends and I checked out Badmaash, an Indian gastropub in DTLA. Its soft launch was just 6 months ago, but apparently it’s starting to gain traction– owner and chef, Pawan Mahendro, was featured as Chef of the Moment in LA Times just two days after we went!

I wanted to check out Badmaash (found on Yelp) because it sounded different than any other place in DTLA. Verdict– Overall delicious food. Smaller portions. But YES. I’ll definitely be back.

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Chef Mahendro owns and runs the restaurant with his two sons. They feature traditional Indian dishes with a twist (but of course, would it be an LA restaurant if they didn’t?). The picture on the right shows a glimpse of their menu. Some popular dishes are their Chili Cheese Naan and their Spicy Lamb Burger.

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Left: Next to the bar, they project Bollywood movies on the white walls. Right: I kind of sort of fell in love with this striped wall with triangular mounts for the lights. *swoon*

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My friends and I ordered the Lamb Vindaloo, Chicken Tikka Masala (not pictured), Butter Chicken (not pictured, and a special for the night), Tandoori Shrimp, Rice Pilaf, and Naan. The vindaloo and masala were both moderately spicy, which was different than what I was expecting/used to, but still admittedly delicious. I really liked the butter chicken, which was a little less intense than the masala (didn’t have the almost-too-spicy kick). The rice and naan were pretty standard (but must be separately ordered at $3 a pop).

A few more (high-quality -_-) pictures of the interior that I found here, because I need to show you a better picture of that wall.

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A Gilt deal for Badmaash came out just yesterday [expires next Wednesday (11/13)]! $59 for 2 people, which includes 2 drinks (wine, beer, or soda), 2 appetizers, 2 main dishes, 2 sides, 2 desserts, and 2 bombay-style masala chai teas. Check it out.

Badmaash
108 West 2nd Street #104
Los Angeles, California 90012