The Comeback Kicks

Birkenstocks are back. The last time they were really popular was in 1993 and I was in high school. There was a girl in school who wore it everyday with her denim shorts and Baja poncho. She had big, curly hair, was almost 6' tall and lanky. She owned that hippie aesthetic even though she was from an upper middle class family.

This time around, though, they're not on the feet of hippies or wannahippies. They were seen on at least 4 runways in New York Fashion Week SS14 as reported by Vogue people admitted to wearing them in this article. Refinery29 even challenged their tastemakers to style them. Birkenstocks are being worn by many heavy fashion people, the harbingers of retail, so it's only a matter of time before these comeback kicks are on everyone's feet again. J. Crew has an upcoming collaboration with Birkenstock that splashes truth to this theory. They may seem harmless but, because they make your feet look extra flat and extra wide, Birks can also make the rest of you look flat and wide by osmosis. They can look good only on very long legs and/or very skinny legs. Nevertheless, the look of comfort is so seductive that it may not matter.


Runway photos: Fashionista

Left: Birks in the Houghton fashion show. Photo: the Wild.
Center: Birks on a celeb. Photo: Pinterest.
Right: Birks on a fashion blogger. Photo: The Man Repeller.

Even the men's fashion shows had them. Photos: Esquire Magazine.


I walked past this place and had to turn back around when I smelled the delicious food being cooked inside. Bio is a tiny shop a block away from Union Square with lunch offerings that not only taste good but are also interesting. Jalapeno agave strawberry juice, anyone?

Bio's pastry is hard to resist. Every time I go there, I want to try one of everything!
The agave strawberry juice is sweet, tart, refreshing, and so healthy.
An open faced turkey sandwich with salad and agave strawberry juice for lunch.
Because no meal is complete without dessert. The house chocolate: cayenne pepper, lavender,
turmeric, sundried tomato, berries, fleur de sel, and flax. And it's vegan :P
Leave your heart in San Francisco

75 O'Farrel St.
San Francisco, CA

Disney Day

Amelia's trip to Disneyland turned out to be a fun day. The crowd was the lightest I've ever in my life seen it and we got on the most rides I've ever in my life been on. We got on Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Casey Jr. Circus Train, the carousel (twice),  It's a Small World, Space Mountain, Star Tours, Innoventions, Matterhorn, the Haunted House, Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, Winnie the Pooh, the Tiki Room, and the Monorail. We weren't even planning on going. We originally wanted to go to Legoland until I mapped out how long the drive is from Burbank. Two hours. One way. With a toddler, who doesn't like sitting in a car seat and is vocal about it.

Up until this time, I haven't taken Amelia to Disneyland for a couple of reasons. First, I don't believe she'd understand what's going on or where we are. It's like, "what's the point?" Secondly, I didn't want her to be exposed to its hyper commercialism and learn its cartoon characters before she learns the alphabet. I certainly don't want her to have any princess dolls, princess makeup, or princess high heels. There's only 1 princess around here. Joking! She remembers a lot of things even after only 1 mention. She's memorized a few of her books already, so I know how impressionable she is. Finally I got over myself and just decided to have a fun day, which exactly what happened. It didn't corrupt her. She still doesn't know any of the characters. She refered to Mickey as "a mouse!" No princess paraphernalia came home. But she did get more sugar than she's ever had in her life, and that was my bad.

Too early in the morning. She's not into it.
Have you ever seen no line in Disneyland?

Pointing to the flying elephants
Her favorite ride

Her 2nd favorite ride

Just conked out

And then she used it as a weapon on innocent bystanders

Out again

My favorite picture

One last sugar rush before we left. She gnawed through the plastic inside the store.
I had to pay for this.

Friday 5: Summer Movies

It's been a long time since I've been to the movies, approximately 20 months actually. So when I went, I wanted a sure thing. I don't want to take chances with my sweet, precious 2 hours off. The movie has to be good. It has to be worth my time. I'm glad to report they were.

4 of the 5 movies I saw were here at the Aquarius.

20 Feet from Stardom features "unsung heroes behind the greatest music of our time," backup singers whose voices you know but whose names you don't. It shows a history of backup singing, the obstacles the featured artists faced, the choices they made, what separates the divas from the backup. It displays their talents beautifully and I couldn't help fall in love. There were many performances in the film that were so good they gave me goosebumps, but when I heard Lisa Fisher's studio solo I was blown away. It's true, what our grandparents said, "they don't make music like they used to." The movie ticket was a small price to pay to journey back in time.

Now on to the teen portion. It's like when I read the Hunger Games trilogy and then The Night Circus, The Fault in Our Stars, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Paper Towns and even Ender's Game. All of a sudden all my kindle recommendations were teen lit! Ah, well, at least they were good.

I loved The Way Way Back. I love the cast, the acting, the writing, the story. It started as the summer that would never end, and it became the summer you didn't want to end. Even the trailer is irresistible. Go see it already.

The Spectacular Now was the more serious teen movie. It felt so real, at times uncomfortably so, but that's how it is, isn't it? Shailene Woodley is a star, and she'll be starring in the aforementioned The Fault in Our Stars movie.

The World's End movie got stellar reviews from, Jimmy Fallon, and Kevin & Bean. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were hilarious in their KROQ interview with Kevin & Bean :) I've never seen Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. It was just ok for me. It felt too long, but I suppose it's pretty good for its genre.

Just as I started my summer movie spree with a musical documentary that took me back in time, I ended with another one.

Harana documents the vanishing Filipino tradition of the serenade, which was last practiced 30 years ago. The music here is beautiful and it shows that great artists are found not only on main stages. Sometimes they are found on a fishing boat, a rice field, or behind the wheels of a tricycle.

I found out about this film when I went to see Spectacular Now. There were promo postcards just sitting on a ledge inside the Aquarius theater's miniscule lobby. I noticed the title Harana right away. I thought, "Hmm, I wonder what this movie is about because harana means serenade in Tagalog." It didn't occur to me that the movie title and the word I know would refer to the same thing. They did! And there were only 4 showings at the Aquarius: 7pm on September 4, 5, 11, and 12. You can still see it next week.

I bought tickets in advance because we had only 1 chance to see this. My sister Ricci was free from work only on the 4th, and my mother-in-law was available to babysit Amelia only on the 4th before going back to Hawaii. I didn't think the theater would sell out, because how many people could possibly want to see a Filipino documentary about serenading on a Wednesday night? Nevertheless, I wasn't going to take that chance. I bought the tickets over the weekend and went with Ricci and Tom to the first showing at the Aquarius.

Florante Aguilar, the man behind the movie, and Executive Producer Fides Enriquez held a Q&A session after the screening. Florante even signed Ricci's CD. I hope they succeed in getting it into wider distribution. Like Ricci said, it makes me proud to come from such a romantic and musical culture.

Left: This was the postcard I found last week.  Right: Florantes signing Ricci's Harana Kings CD.

Mama Doll, Dada Doll

I got my inspiration for this project when we were visiting various daycares. One of the daycare providers said that she asks all parents to provide pictures of themselves, so that the kids can look at their parents' pictures if they miss them. At that point, I knew I would include our pictures in Amelia's daycare bag, whether the daycare we chose asked for them or not. However, I wanted to give her something more durable than a printed photo (Amelia is notorious for tearing paper), so I decided to make a mama doll/dada doll.

I got printer fabric from the fabric store.

I printed out a photo of Marc on one sheet and myself on another sheet.

I ironed the prints to set the ink

I sewed the prints on duck cloth and then
sewed the prints together facing each other.
The bottom was left open so it could be stuffed.
This is what it looks like turned inside out.
It was stuffed with batting and the bottom was sewn close.

The finished product.

It's like I'm an action figure. Haha. Happy back-to-school!

Swim School

We spent a lot of time at beaches and pools this spring from Manila to Cebu, Boracay to Palawan, and Burbank to Bali. Seeing my 5-year old nephews Kai and Hoops swimming on their own was such a joy. I marveled at how quickly they learned and how much fun they had in the water. I figured it's time for Amelia to learn how to swim too.

We've been attending a toddler class once a week since June at La Petite Baleen in Atherton, where babies as young as a month old learn to swim. The first couple of session were very light. We were basically just in the pool to get the kids comfortable in the water and get acquainted with the swim instructor. We learned songs and rhymes that we've repeated every week since, in order for the kids to learn the routine and know what to expect. Kids and routines!

"Hold your ribbon, Amelia."
At the end of her first lesson, she got a ribbon officially declaring
her a whale and a "Save the Humans, Learn to Swim" tee.
Ready for swim class

Learning about propulsion with the "Kids in the Pool" song

Next we learned submersions, where kids learn to hold their breath and close their eyes and mouth when the go under water. Amelia was a natural at that. She mastered "textbook la Petite Baleen submersion" the first time we tried it, according to Teacher Kevin. She is a survivor. Haha.

Then the kids started to wear goggles and fins, which are part of lessons going forward. The theory behind the goggles is, if they can see underwater then they can orient themselves and learn faster. And the fins help their little feet propel. We skipped a couple of lessons because of a cold one week and then we were in LA the following week, and she regressed a little bit. She wasn't jumping in the water or swimming to the instructor as readily as before.

Going through the tunnel

Kids have to get comfortable being on their backs, which is their
most vulnerable position. If they know how to float on their backs,
they can keep themselves from drowning.

Sit jump

Swimming to the steps

All done

This week, I've started to let her go in the water and have her swim to the stairs. I think she was mad at me for letting her go. Haha. After 2 months of lessons at 20 months old, she is starting to swim. We're both looking forward to ongoing lessons as our endless summer continues.

La Petite Baleen
60 5th Ave.
Redwood City, CA 94063

Photo credit: Ricci Sylla

Red Medicine

Red Medicine is a Vietnamese restaurant that isn't a Vietnamese restaurant. It's not even Asian. The flavors are not what they look like on the plate. It's different. It's exciting. It's so good.

#87 crushed ice, mint, spice, chai.

PORK PATE, clove, rambutan

SANTA BARBARA UNI, cauliflower, chinese sausage

BRUSSEL SPROUTS, shallots, fish sauce

BIODYNAMIC LEEKS, yuzu, buttermilk. My favorite dish of this meal.

SWEET POTATOES, smoked tofu, tamarind

YOUNG TURNIPS, banana vinegar, creme fraiche

WILD ALASKAN HALIBUT, burnt onion, black roots

SWEETBREADS, spice bread, smoked bone marrow

SHAVED ICE OF REDWOOD STEMS, sour red currant berries and jelly, creme chiboust
(no idea what that is) flavoured with jasmine flowers, crispy rice crackers, orange blossom
bubbles, covered with roasted almond praline disk spray painted with white chocolate

Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

The Little Farm

My friend Han invited me to check out The Little Farm in her Berkeley neighborhood. In spite of the rain, we forged ahead with kids in tow and were rewarded with having the place to ourselves. We saw cows, goats, sheep, chickens, roosters, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and pigs. It was fun seeing the kids see animals outside of their books.

Hey, you. Yeah, I’m talking to you.

The red barn is where the baby goats, chickens, roosters, rabbits,
ducks, chickens and pigs live. This is Hilda Mae Heifer.

Baby goats playing. Big pigs sleeping and little Amelia peeking.

Old MacDonald had a farm and we went to visit it.

Champagne Tasting Party

Several months ago, my champagne-loving aunts Thess and Vangie babysat Amelia. We ended up staying for dinner at their place and they served champagne. Of course. I mentioned that I don't have a definitive favorite because my palate does not have a good memory, there are long stretches in between my champagne swillings, and I've never drank more than one type of champagne at a time. We talked about a tasting to resolve the matter. Finally we did. You're invited.

I was thrilled when I read that potato chips and popcorn go well with traditional brut champagne. No cooking required.

L to R: brillat savarin with truffles, truffle mouse, lambchopper sheep gouda, mortadella.

There you go. Everyone brought a different bottle so we can sample a wide variety.
L to R: Monthuys, Cuvee des Crayeres, Moet & Chandon, Gaston Chiquet, Perrier-Jouet, Benoit Lahaye.

A generous tasting portion is not so helpful when trying to remember.
For dinner I prepared rigatoni with creamy mushroom sauce that went well with the evening's libation.

For dessert I served Draeger's sponge cake with berries and Suzie & Ellen's homemade strawberry jam.

This cake was so good and more bubbles.

The drinking became more of a pairing than a tasting. I still don't know which champagne I like best. Ah, well. We need a do over. Who's in?

To paraphrase Tom Waits, champagne is for real friends. À notre santé!

Superba Snack Bar

Located on Venice's hottest block, Superba Snack Bar offers up Southern California cuisine with focus on house made pastas, small plates, and vegetables.

There's a small patio outside for al fresco dining.

Blankets are provided for patio diners in case it gets chilly.

This cold cut plate was too good!
L to R: porchetta di testa pastrami on rye with dill pickles; pâté de champagne, pickled mustard seed; smoked bacon & apricot mustardo; Julia’s chicken liver mousse pave, black pepper strawberry gelée

Vegetarian truffle special, spring greens and flowers, truffle oil, crostini 

Black kale, jalapeño pickled raisins, pine nuts, pecorino & crouton

Roasted white peaches, coconut "burrata", black radishes, radicchio, basil

Cauliflower T-bone, avocado puree, pickled beets & castelvetranos

My favorite dish was the wakame spaghettini made with uni, Dungeness crab, miso butter & pickled jalapeños. Sublime.

Smoked bucatini carbonara, poached egg, pancetta, black pepper & parmesan

Sweet corn agnolotti, jalapeño butter, ancho, lime & sheep’s milk cheese

Half and Half
The savory peach dessert on the left was not a favorite on our table. There was a lot left over, and leftover dessert is unheard of. On the other hand, the smore's like concoction on the right, well, let's just say nothing was left over.

Superba Snack Bar
533 Rose Ave.
Venice, CA 90291

Eleanor's 1st Birthday Peach Festival

Eleanor turns 1 and celebrates with a peach festival!

How did we come up with the theme? Worth (Eleanor's mom) didn't want a prefab birthday party so Ricci suggested doing a color theme. Somewhere along the way we picked up that Sam (Eleanor's dad) likes peaches. Peach is a color. It's peach season. Voila! a peach-colored peach festival.

When I said I'll take you through my party planning process on a previous post, I meant I'll show you the plan and then the finished product. Haha. I really meant to show a little bit more of what goes into it but time just ran away from me and my event co-planner Ricci. It was something of a mad dash to get things done the morning of the party. Shhh, don't tell our "clients." Haha.

Nothing beats a grand setting. I think this peach festival turned out beautifully in large part due to Sam and Worth's gorgeous backyard, which is Sunset Magazine-worthy. Check it out.

I designed the invitation, Sam printed, and Worth mailed them.

Welcome to the party!
Here's the sign I made an hour before the party. There's Sam on the grill.

This garland was finished and hung right when the party started. Talk about 'behind schedule.'

newborn, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months,

6 months, 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, 10 months, 11 months,

12 months old

Sam's grilled shrimp with peach salsa. Peaches and teriyaki chicken on the grill.

Ice cold sparkling juice and peach sangria are perfect for a sunny day.

Worth made peach water for kids and peach sangria for parents. Haha.

the dessert table

The peach filled cupcakes with peach icing were baked by Ricci, iced and decorated minutes before the party.
Happy 1st Birthday!

pretty baby and pretty mom

Eleanor's first cupcake

We think she liked it.

Favors. Please take one. Worth assembled the jellybean-filled popsicles.

Ricci ordered the peach cookies and berry boxes online.

Thanks for coming to the party!

Photo credit: Ricci Sylla

Hinoki and the Bird

Lunch at Hinoki & the Bird by Chef David Myers lives up to the hype. Every dish was a hit with our group.

Kale salad made with crispy and raw kale, curried almonds, pecorino, red wine vinaigrette
Hanzo Fix made with yuzu juice, simple syrup, cucumber, orange juice, jalapeno
The chili crab toast with spicy cucumber and coriander was my favorite. I could eat a whole platter of this.

Beet salad special

Miso marinated skirt steak, shaved turnips, chili

Scottish salmon, rapini, radish sprouts

Monkfish, yellow curry noodle, eggplant, herbs

Raspberry macaron, rhubarb, yoghurt sorbet oh my!

Hinoki and the Bird
10 Century Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Pescadero Town

Pescadero makes me feel like I'm on a movie set. So quaint and full of small town charm.

The 115-foot Pigeon Point Lighthouse, one of the tallest lighthouses in America, has been guiding mariners since 1872. Its five-wick lard oil lamp, and first-order Fresnel lens, comprised of 1,008 prisms, was first lit at sunset, November 15, 1872. The lens stands 16 feet tall, 6 feet in diameter, and weighs 8,000 pounds. It sits in a lantern room that had been constructed at the Lighthouse Service's general depot in New York before being shipped around the Horn. Although the original Fresnel lens is no longer in use, the lighthouse is still an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation using a 24 inch Aero Beacon.

Friday 5: Happy Meals

Providing a toddler with a variety of foods at every meal is easier with these Spuds plates. First, the plates are made out of reclaimed potatoes. It is manufactured with only organic raw materials, even the packaging. Reading all too often about scary toxins found in common products that we use on a daily basis, I feel better about using natural products for Amelia, especially the ones touching her food.

Additionally, there are 5 compartments that make me come up a balanced meal. I try to fill them with protein, grains, vegetables, fruits and, occasionally, sweets at every meal. Amelia doesn't eat everything. Sometimes she'll eat only the egg or corn, but I can say I tried.
pecan raisin bread, avocado, egg,
kiwi, mango
kale puffs, slice of lemon-filled cupcake, panda cookie,
raisins, string cheese
mango, tilapia, squid ink pasta,
artichoke, tomato
apple, blueberry whole wheat waffles with almond butter and strawberry jam, egg,
strawberries, tater tots
strawberries, mangoes, vegetable roll,
buttered corn, chocolate cookie because it's shark week

Camping Capers

Camping should be a fun summertime activity. I don't want to pack up everything in my kitchen, freeze overnight in a tent, or go in the bushes. When my niece Jaya came to visit us from Seattle, my sister Ricci and I thought Costanoa Lodge would be perfect. This is how we camp.

Happy Campers

our douglas fir cabin

it's precipitously close to hoteling :)

thinking about her next move

making s'mores on a fire we (Tom) lit ourselves (himself)


dinner time

missed out on those happy hour $1 oysters

clam chowder, seafood risotto, calamari fritti and a lavander cocktail

Horseback riding the next day 
matching long sleeve tees, vests and jeans with sissy lol

Happy trails!

Costanoa Lodge
2001 Rossi Rd. at Hwy. 1
Pescadero, CA 94060

Harley Farms Goat Dairy

It was a fun morning at the Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero, CA. I wanted to bring home half the stuff in their Farm Shop. They offer gorgeous handmade plates, bowls, cups, pitchers, lotions and soaps made with goat milk, hand-carved wooden goat toys, and even goat milk paint. The Goat Shop has the most tempting selection of marmalade, honey, oils, and of course cheeses, including chevre, fromage blanc, ricotta, and feta.

baby goat

Various chevre buttons include monet, cranberry walnut, apricot pistachio, sundried tomato basil, and Monet.
The flower-topped Monet chevre is their signature cheese.

free samples
The farm house. Duck, duck,...

The dining room in the farm house can be rented for private events.

Harley Farms
205 North St.
Pescadero, CA 04060

Photo credit: Ricci Sylla

Tropical Salad

I'm no cook. I've been known to throw anything and everything I can find into 1 disastrous dish, but sometimes it works. In this instance, it works really well. This is so easy, so nutritious, and so good you must try it.

1 banana
1 kiwi
1 avocado
1 Manila mango
juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 4 tbsp water for 10 minutes

Cut the banana, kiwi, avocado and mango into cubes of roughly the same size and combine them in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice over the fruit. Add the coconut milk and chia seeds. Toss and enjoy!

How perfect would this be after swimming on a summer afternoon?