Monday, March 31, 2014

HIMYM: The Finale

I didn't like it, but I get it (kind of).

I'm cool with Tracy dying, in a way. I loved her; she was perfect for Ted and like I said before, it was meant to be that way from the beginning.

But it was clear from the start that it was always about Robin, and the fact they filmed this finale with the kids back in season one just drives that point home (even if I don't like how they got there, and I don't particularly care for Robin—especially not in that episode). 

The whole story wasn't because Ted wanted to tell his kids about their mother. Six years after she died? No, like the kids said, he wanted to ask their permission after his roundabout way of telling them how "totally in love" with Robin he was. I actually appreciate knowing there was a reason for the story. And I'm even OK with Ted and Robin, in theory. They were endgame, even if people didn't like it.

But still, what bothers me the most is the two-plus years I spent invested in Robin and Barney's relationship. Their divorce, no matter how inevitable, left a bad taste in my mouth.  I have more of a problem with that, the way they cast Barney off to the side and had him revert back to the person he used to be, even more than the way they discarded the mother. With all of the time spent investing in their relationship, the proposal, the wedding (this entire season!), the unwinding of the relationship was just too quick, too haphazard and not well-explained. Their demise made no sense, not with the epic build-up we've had over the past couple of years. I guess the best way to describe how I'm feeling right now is unfulfilled—with the Barney and Robin relationship conclusion and that they've seemed to waste the character development of both the mother, Ted and Robin (seriously, what was the point of the letting go episode???), not to mention Barney. I read that there's going to be a mini wrap-up that Josh Radnor filmed for the DVD release—maybe that will answer some questions?

"How I Met Your Mother?" Good one, Carter Bays. I guess the joke's on us. Maybe it's not a coincidence the finale aired the day before April Fools'?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Relationship With Food

This is my life.

Image via Postsecret

Saturday Night Blogging

Macbook party!

So ... this is what my mid-20s look like. Was it really only a year or two ago I was pounding back beers at Fred's? (Oh wait, that was last weekend ...)

I'm writing this post as Annie and Wendy are launching their own blogs. Apparently, you can get a lot done at 2 a.m. when you decide to stay in.

Of course, a night with the girls wouldn't be complete without drinks. My home bar is running low on ingredients, but we pulled together enough to make three different cocktails. From left to right is the Killer Kool-Aid (vodka, melon liqueur, amaretto and cranberry juice), Bacardi cocktail (light rum, lime juice, water and grenadine, garnished with a cherry) and the Blue Lagoon (light rum, lime juice, blue curacao and pineapple juice).

But back to the blogs ... Annie is the Future and Wendrs (name pending?) are up and running now. What a crazy night. I feel like that's a phrase I used to use only when I'd end up at Ihop at 2 a.m. after last call—oh, how far I've come.

I'm very excited that the first thing we did tonight before the blogs was book our trip to Chicago in September. It's going to be amazing—we're staying at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel off Michigan Avenue, and I can't wait to show Annie and Wendy around to some of my favorite places. I should be a good tour guide by then, after heading out with Viet in August. I envision lots of pizza in my future.

In the spirit of blogging about my day in reverse chronological order, I got my hair cut this morning (at Eden Salon in HB—he only person I will let touch my hair is Lindsey, and she's seriously the best). I've been having serious hair issues lately, and really wanted to try something new. I haven't had a new style since 2008, so I'm long overdue.

Not sure if I'm loving the bangs yet, but I'm trying to tell myself that if Taylor Swift did it, then I can make it work. It's a totally different look and for better or worse, I'm stuck with it for a while.

Awkward selfie

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Road to Lollapalooza 2014

Lollapalooza, what?!? So excited, so random and so hectic.

When I bought my Katy Perry and Taylor Swift concert tickets, I thought that was a mad scramble. Buying Lolla tickets made that look like a cakewalk. For first time buyers, the Lollapalooza ticketing system is pure madness. You wait until exactly 10 a.m. CT, then click "buy tickets," where it takes you to a "standby" page—which we were stuck on for 45 minutes. That's right. 45 MINUTES.

And, to add insult to injury, tickets aren't even released in order of first come, first served. Viet logged on right at 8 a.m. since I was en route to work and was haphazardly trying to buy them from my phone as a back-up. We waited .... and waited. When I got to work at 8:30, I refreshed my phone browser and started the process over again. Fifteen minutes later I got through and purchased what had to be two of the last available tickets, since Friday and Sunday had sold out. Viet got in shortly after I added two Sunday wristbands to my cart, and everything was unavailable for him. We got lucky, but seriously—how unfair is that system?

--end rant--

But, all that being said, it's going to be awesome. Kings of Leon, Skrillex, Sebastian Ingrosso, The Avette Brothers, Young the Giant and a crap ton of other artists I haven't heard of on Sunday.

So, starting today, I'm launching on my months-long road to Lollapalooza. From now until August, I will listen to at least one album from every Sunday artist until I've heard them all, beginning with the headliners. If I'm dropping $100 for tickets, plus $350 for airfare and more for a hotel, I'm going to make sure I have a damn good time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Living Irresponsibly

"Irresponsible" is a word that's not in my personal dictionary. I make dumb mistakes, make a fool of myself and have socially awkward moments basically every day of my life, but I try to live every day as a responsible human being. I get sh*t done, and I do it well.

So in that respect, this weekend was a fail. I missed my deadline on a freelance assignment for the first time ever, barely finished up work I'd brought home with me and spent the entire weekend eating, drinking (and then drinking more ...), sleeping and generally having fun. But I tried new things—Saddle Ranch Chop House mimosas (so good), plus Ramen Yamadaya in Costa Mesa—had wine delivered to me in my seat at a luxury theater while watching "Divergent," planned a girls' weekend to Chicago for September, ate a maple bacon doughnut, and drank a couple 40s at what is hands down the strangest bar I've ever been to.

So much strangeness.

Really though, it was a weekend that reminded me of high school summers, minus the cocktails, of course. It gave me a reality check that I don't need to be going 100 miles an hour every minute, and not everything I do has to help me check off an item on my to-do list.

I'm trying to be more spontaneous this year—and it's not easy. Viet is working on finishing his pre-30 bucket list, so that's been a fun ride joining in on some of his adventures. Just this year alone, I've been to New York, seen a drag show, danced at a gay bar up in LA for "Frozen" night and ordered boba for myself. Next month we're headed to an Angels game, then paragliding and the Britney concert in May, and (hopefully!) Lollapalooza in August. With the girls, I have an epic Chicago trip this fall, and potentially a Backstreet Boys and Avril Lavigne excursion over Memorial Day weekend. With the fam, we're celebrating my grandma's 91st birthday in the only way we know how—gambling and drinking in Vegas, of course. It wasn't quite a New Year's resolution, but I promised myself to get off my ass in 2014 and live like I'm a kid again. It's not the healthiest thing for my bank account, but after a year filled with stress in 2013, I'm ready to have fun, make mistakes and not worry about pinching my pennies. After all, it's just a year.

Here's to living life (a little) irresponsibly.

Monday, March 24, 2014

HIMYM: The Mother

I've forgotten what TV was like before "How I Met Your Mother."

OK, not really. Because before Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall and Lilly, I had "Friends."

But anyway, with just one episode left, I'm geeking out hard over the show—especially the whole mother dying scenario. On our way back from "Divergent" this weekend, Annie and I got into a debate about what we love/hate about the Mother. I'm squarely in the "love" camp.

I get why people hate her—kind of. She's almost too perfect, as Annie put it. She's the girl next door, aw shucks kind of gal that Ted's always dreamed of. It's really actually a little annoying, how neatly the writers have wrapped up this nine-year search.

But ... on the flip side, it's been nine years. We got to know Ted. We love him and we hate him. We've seen him fall in love, steal blue French horns and ride off into the sunset with another man's bride. So isn't it his turn? This is a character who tirelessly followed his heart, and over the course of nine years we each formed an opinion, little by little, on what his wife would be like. We picked up pieces over the seasons, almost subliminal hints on who she was and why she was right for Ted. So of course she's perfect—she's nine years in the making for all of us. I don't think it could have ended any other way.

I'm hoping the finale will be legen — wait for it — dary. Legendary. (I had to).

But I'd settle for just OK. Because I love the Mother and no matter what happens (short of her dying), I know all will be well in TV land once they take their final bow.

P.S. My prediction for the finale is that the mother does not die and in fact is not even sick. I'm with team Lilly on this one—I think she's the one who's sick, but she recovers, and all is well in the world of Marshmallow and Lilly Pad. Let's see how wrong I am.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lost Art of the Pick-Up Line

As an Asian female hitting up a Caucasian-dominated bar scene in coastal Orange County, I've had the opportunity misfortune of being the victim of a slew of poorly executed pick-up lines directed at my race. I've long since learned to let it roll off (it helps that I'm married and can just laugh as drunk men fumble with making what they think are passable attempts at charm).

But seriously ... a little creativity doesn't hurt. If I didn't have a husband, I'd be seriously concerned at my future prospects with some of the offensive-ish pick-up lines I've been subject to over the years. Guys, I get it — it's hard to approach women in bars. But apparently it's more appropriate to ask me what "kind" of Asian I am rather than finding out what I do for a living. Shudder. Yet again, I'm glad I tied the knot early in life. It makes these kinds of encounters more funny than annoying.

The strangest/most hilariously awkward pick-up lines have actually come when I'm at Irish bars — go figure. Just yesterday, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, Annie suggested grabbing a green beer at the Auld Dubliner in Tustin. I'm game, so off we go. After a few minutes of catching up, a little guy dressed in green comes over and clinks glasses with us, then walks away. His buddy comes by a little after that to play wingman, and decides to go the race route. I've had more than a few discussions about my ethnicity, but this one really had to top the list of the most uncomfortable, ungraceful pick-up lines I've ever experienced.

Convo at the Auld Dubliner: "Annie? What kind of name is that? Korean? Vietnamese?" Huh? American? "Oh like little orphan Annie? With curly red hair?" Yeah ... no.


Frequently when I'm out drinking: "So what kind are you?" Ugh.

Nonsensical, during the U.S. Open: "You're Asian. You must surf." Uh ...

At yet another Irish bar: "You're not Irish." Really? Can someone get me a mirror?

Happy St. Patrick's Day. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Afters Ice Cream in Fountain Valley

"Eat more ice cream." Yes, please.

I read about Afters right after it opened last month. Doughnuts and ice cream? Why not. I'll eat just about anything on a doughnut. At the OC Fair, my favorite thing to order is a Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich.

In less than a month, there's been almost 300 reviews on Yelp (including mine). It's rated at four stars, so of course I had to go check it out. A friend once told me that Asians are always the first to flock to new fads/trends. So true. Every person in line, except Brian, was Asian. He, of course, didn't understand why I needed to have this life-changing ice cream doughnut right NOW, so I basically dragged him there.

Forty-five minutes later, we had glazed milky buns in hand, stuffed with handcrafted ice cream. I've been on a diet, so I actually skipped dinner for this. Unhealthy, I know, but worth it. There were so many flavors. Churro, Vietnamese coffee, jasmine milk tea, cookie butter, almond cookie ... try as many as you want. They're (mostly) all good. Tip: Skip the cookie monster. That color of blue is just way too much.

Besides the whole trend factor, it's a pretty decent ice cream place. Go. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A First Time for Everything

To start, I think I just need to throw out a blanket apology to anyone I've ever laughed at for using the flu as an excuse to not get out of bed for a week.

I've never had the flu before, but this last week was one of firsts. My weak-ass immune system finally caught up with me, and I was down and out for several days with one of the most unpleasant illnesses I've ever come down with. To be completely honest, I actually thought it was just a hangover for the first 12 hours—the symptoms were all the same. Splitting headache? Check. Slightly nauseated? Check. Feverish chills? Check. Body aches/fatigue? Double check.

And then it got worse. I'll spare you the details, but I was ready to swear off drinking ever again (ha!) before I realized that two glasses of wine couldn't incapacitate me to the level I was at — I felt like digging a hole in the ground and burying myself in it. I lost track of how many Motrins I popped over the course of four days in hopes of getting rid of my night sweats, chills and raging headache.

Long story short, I pulled out of the depths of my despair mostly unscathed. I say mostly, because apparently Motrin has a nasty side effect of uncontrollable itching. Add that to my complete lack of self control, and you've got a recipe for a pretty lousy weekend.

There's no real takeaway here, unless it's to watch how much ibuprofin you take for a headache or flu. I realize this is kind of a nonsensical post, but I'm riding a metaphorical high right now since I'm finally feeling back up to 100 percent.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cookies 'n' Cream Ice Cream

Whenever it's a homemade ice cream day, I feel like jumping around and doing a happy dance. I used to have a crazy sweet tooth, but getting a root canal has a tendency to help kick that habit. I'm still pretty obsessed with making ice cream though, and cookies 'n' cream combines two of Brian's favorite things — ice ceam and Oreos.

My little sis, Kyarrah, from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, loves ice cream too, so she was the perfect person to help me out with this recipe. Unfortunately ... our first batch kind of tanked because my freezer didn't completely freeze the ice cream bowl. On my second attempt though, it turned out fine—and I still have about one serving left in my freezer, two weeks later.

Seriously, there's nothing on the ingredient list that's good for you.
Even the milk is the full-fat, million calorie per serving kind.

Though making ice cream is so much easier than it used to be with automatic machines — I have a Cuisinart — it still takes a bit of pre-planning. You need to freeze the bowl about 24 hours in advance, chill the mixture for a couple hours before putting it into the machine, and then pop it into the freezer once you're done. If you make the mixture at the same time you put the bowl in the freezer, you can have fresh ice cream in a little over 24 hours.

After putting the bowl to the ice cream machine into the freezer, the first thing you'll want to do is gather all your ingredients. I have a fancy Williams Sonoma ice cream book, but every time I make something from it, the ice cream tastes awful. So, I usually resort to my old standby, the simple vanilla recipe that came with my Cuisinart ice cream maker. You'll need 1 cup of whole milk (reduced fat milk won't work; I've tried) 3/4 cup granulated sugar, a tiny bit of salt, 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract for the vanilla base. See the recipe below for exact directions. You'll want to cover this and freeze it overnight for a thicker ice cream.

In the meantime, you can go about crushing your Oreos. I put about 15 Double Stuff Oreos into a plastic bag and use a rolling pin. I like my Oreo chunks in larger pieces, but you can roll them a little more for smaller bites (just don't turn them into dust). Set them aside and wait until the next day.

When your bowl is finally frozen and your mixture is nice and chilled, plug everything in and let the machine start churning. After it gets going for a few seconds, go ahead and pour your mixture into the opening at the top. I recommend using a bowl that has a pour spout, since you're aiming for a small opening at the top of the machine.

As soon as I pour the mixture into the machine, I pop the container I'm planning to put the ice cream in into the freezer. Once it's done mixing, the ice cream can melt pretty quickly, so this gives me a little extra wiggle time when I'm done before I have a soupy mess.

The mixing time varies depending on how cold the mixture is and how frozen your bowl is, but generally after about 15 minutes, it's time to add in the Oreos. Go ahead and dump them into the opening, then set the timer for another 5 minutes.

Once it's done, use a plastic spoon to scoop the ice cream into the container. I usually freeze mine for a couple hours before serving.