anybody out there?

so back in 2011, i was going to blog about costa rica. because yes, less than a month after we went to hawaii, we went to costa rica. we hadn't really traveled in awhile because of my school schedule, so we were binging after being deprived.

costa rica was so awesome! i was so excited to blog it!

and then 2012 happened. and now, for the first time in 2012, i have a moment to breathe. and blog again.

so. 2012.
the bear & i continued a house hunt we started late in 2011.
earlier than we wanted, somewhat against our wills.
see, we still hadn't decided where exactly we wanted to live,
and neither of us was totally smitten by our current city,
but were slowly coming around.
and our jobs tend to be on opposite ends of the earth, commute-wise.
but we weren't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

i couldn't find a job.

so i freelanced. barely.
i freaked out about not working.
and considered working at trader joe's.
then i found a 2-month contract job.
where i worked 60-120 hours/week.
oh, and we finally found a house right in the middle of that crazy contract job.
so we entered escrow.

in the middle of that contract job and escrow, 

my stepdad's cancer got REALLY bad.
like, terminal.
he refused any further treatment.
right after the contract job ended,

he passed away.
we dealt with some family drama around his funeral.
my baby brother *really* stepped up and showed us
what a great adult he's become,
with the help of his new wife,
in the middle of that all.

a week later, 

my grandmother passed away in korea.
so off my mom went 
to bury her mother
on the other side of the world.
shortly after burying her husband.
(oh, and this is the 2nd time my mom's been widowed in one lifetime. ugh.)
somewhere in all that mess, i interviewed for full-time jobs.

i found a full-time position.

i started that full-time position.
during a very hectic time
for that firm.
my freelance work also picked up.
when it rains,
it hurricanes.

we closed escrow on the house

somewhere between all of that.
we rented it back to the sellers for a bit.
we moved.

we had to help my mom 

make some hard, financial decisions.
especially regarding her current house.
and her next steps.
both living situation & career-wise.
that's all still up in the air,
but we can wait.

whew. so here we are. a little banged up, quite exhausted, but still alive and so blessed. i just hope 2012  will slow down a wee bit. i wouldn't mind a period of calm and little change for once. 
and some time to finally blog about costa rica.


the best time zone

so there's this thing called pacific standard time going on. it's pretty dang amazing how the getty and arts institutions all over southern california have planned all these exhibits in conjunction to create basically a concurrent series of exhibits focusing on california art and design. the exhibits are all over and at different times. there are special weekends that focus on exhibits in a certain area, and they will even shuttle you between places within that area. i haven't been to as many as i want, but i really should step up my museum game while i have the time and a semi-legit student ID.

i really wanted to see two exhibits in particular that focus on the eameses. if you don't know anything about charles and ray eames, you should. an awesome, designing duo that worked across disciplines.

so i called up my museum buddies. thank God for museum buddies. i can go with school friends always, which is always a good time. but my museum buddies are always down to drink and eat good food during a museum trip, too, and have fresh, non-architecty insights. winnie provides photos to document the fun. elena reps the east coast well (even if she's orginally from the west). insom provides witty, intellectual, and unexpected commentary. weemo was out of town for this one. we missed her.

we parked at/near lacma.

while waiting, i had a lovely drink at stark bar.
with my friend, the empty jacobsen egg chair.
such good people watching from my perch.

then we walked over the a+d museum, which is just across the street (and has exhibited my work before...w00t!), for eames designs: the guest-host relationship.

looked at some tumbleweed.

test drove some eames chairs.

left our mark.

'twas an intimate exhibit with insight into the eameses' attitude toward design in an intimate space.

then we walked back across the street to lacma for california design 1930-1965: living in a modern way. if you didn't know already, california was a major hotbed for modern design. lots of avant garde european designers and architects fled europe during world war II, and ended up here. oh, and this exhibit was designed by one of my old studio prof's offices. yay!

um, i suck. i didn't take any photos. but the best part is how they've recreated the entire eames house living room, at full scale, within the exhibit. there were also design artifacts from barbies to a studebaker car to movie title sequences to furniture to fashion to textiles to graphics to...pretty much any object that can be designed.

we concluded the evening with some delicious flatbread and charcuterie at stark bar.
heat lamps.
swanky furniture.

my descriptions suck, and i barely took any photos, so go yourself to these exhibits and then some! learn about how rich california's art and design history is! i'll even be your museum buddy and personal docent for these two exhibits i've actually seen.

even ice cube approves. you can do it put your back into it!

oh, how do you get there, you ask?

"each freeway has its own personality. the 405: bougie traffic. the 110: that's gangsta traffic right there. there's a difference. you gotta know where you at."

omg! almost forgot this gem that insom introduced me to that day:


raining babies

it's literally raining babies for a lot of my friends.

so i am helping plan not one, but two baby showers over the next couple of months. this partyzilla rejoices! even if the occasion for celebration is...children.

luckily, all of my friends' children are turning out to be cute, smart, little human beings. don't worry, the bear and i still aren't tempted to produce any cubs or tater tots any time soon. although i am a bit curious to see what happens when a potato and a bear mate. it'll probably be chubby or at least round.

anyway, weemo is very graciously hosting this first shower of 2012 at her country club, so there isn't much for the partyzillas to do. venue's covered. delicious food is covered. and duh, awesome company is definitely covered.

so i put the partyzilla to graphic design use. see?

this family has an awesome name that lent itself well to the literal shower theme.
i matched the colors to what appear to be the nursery colors from the mom-to-be's registry. limey green (but i went more chartreuse), blue, grey.
i drew all the artwork in adobe illustrator. i drew some really phallic and scatological stuff on accident in the process. those drawings did not make it onto the invite.

paper source of course came through so that i didn't have to cut a bajillion (ok, fine, 12) address labels into cloud shapes by hand. also, i can't stand martha stewart, but her new avery products at staples are pretty dang cute. this organizilla fell hard. plus, hello! these file labels are perfectly raindrop shaped.

i then ordered some stamps that match the theme. wind! whoo! the colors even kinda coordinate!
too bad the USPS is a lying liar who lies.
the stamps did not arrive in 2-5 days as promised. they arrived in 7 days.
so i had to send out the invites with some ugly butterfly stamps instead.
and now i have a bunch of stamps that say "kansas forever." boo.

and yes, i care about stupid stamps way too much.

i really need a full-time job.

well, whatever. the invites got to ride next to my new pretty, so they were pretty happy.

butterfly in the skyyyyyy
i can go twice as hiiiiiigh
take a look
it's in a book
reading rainbow


oahu day 7: breakfast, amazing view, hike, beer garden

//day 7

//kailua, nu'uanu pali, diamond head, ala moana, waikiki.

BREAKFAST_boots & kimo's (kailua).
may be overrated, but still pretty dang good.

boots & kimo's corned beef hash omelette
bear: corned beef hash omelette. has some other hawaiian name, but can't remember.
portion looks small, but it was hefty.

boots & kim'os banana macadamia nut pancakes
me: the famous pancakes with mac nut sauce. i opted for the banana pancakes.
neither of us like pancakes that much.
THESE WERE ******DELICIOUS*****!!!!1!!!1!!!
fluffy with chunks of moist banana. mmm.
the sauce is really that good. like melted, sweetened whipped cream.

SCENIC DRIVE_nu'uanu pali lookout (off pali highway, on the way back to honolulu from kailua).

seriously the best views. very windy, though.

you have to pay a few bucks to park in the lot. because we weren't planning on staying long, we just took turns going to look while the other stayed in the car.

yeah, we're *those* cheapass asians.

pali lookout

pali lookout
prehistoric craggy-ness.

HIKE_diamond head state monument (diamond head).

so winnie warned me ahead of time that this hike isn't nearly as easy as people make it out to be.
diamond head
there is some warning, though.

good thing, as i was all super scurred of the hike,
so it ended up being way less scary than i feared.

i am out of shape.
i have short legs.
thus i am slow.
my balance sucks.
i hate going down steep trails and get all scared.
i am afraid of heights.

however, i need not have feared so much. the entire trail is rather rocky rather than dirt-y, so it's not as slippery as the dirt trails i'm used to in california. you just need to watch your step/ankles as the path is nice, hard rock but is pitted.

also, my biggest fear when hiking is falling over the edge of the trail in steep areas.

but they have RAILS all along the path!  yay! made me so much more confident and less afraid.
diamond head

diamond head

ok, so the part of the hike that really IS that bad are the stairs. OMG.
first, there are a set of like 40-something stairs. not *too* bad, despite no landings.

but then you get here:
diamond head
99 stairs,
and a landing ain't one.

diamond head
bear at the top laughing and taking pictures of me.

diamond head
after the 3 sets of stairs (the aforementioned two, then a super skinny spiral stair), you end up in concrete bunker thingy.
and you get this gorgeous sliver of a view.
then you have to climb some more stairs and squeeze through that sliver.

diamond head
at the top!
(plus some chick's sweaty back & bra straps.)

diamond head

diamond head

diamond head
then back down again.

it took us about 20 minutes to get to the top.
despite crowded trail.
we walked at a nice clip,
but remember i am slow w/my short legs.

LUNCH_fort ruger market (diamond head, near kapi'olani community college).
share: poke. again! was pretty good, but she over-salted it. meh. this one had sesame oil. mmm.
beef stew plate. like the beef stew my mom used to make growing up. think dinty moore, but from scratch and with big, super mushy chunks of beef, potatoes, and carrots. served on two scoop rice and with mac salad. overall very satisifying and warm.

bear's side: portuguese sausage & egg musubi. SO. GOOD. instead of white rice, the sausage & egg were on fried rice!!!

my side: mochiko chicken musubi. aiite. the fried rice saved it.

SHOP_ala moana center (ala moana).
because we're mallrats when on vacation, apparently.

HAPPY HOUR/DINNER_beer garden at shirokiya (ala moana center).
while walking around the mall, we saw a sign advertising $1-3 pints of japanese beer for happy hour at shirokiya's "beer garden." yay!

shirokiya beer garden, ala moana mall
another version of the sign, once it started.

shirokiya beer garden, ala moana mall
our pitcher of as-ahhhhh-hi. mmm.

i had a delicious bowl of udon with my beer.
i really, really love fat noodles.

the bear had a dimsum bento. he enjoyed everything in the bento very much.
and he usually finds 1 or 2 things he doesn't like in most bentos.
not this one.

got mistaken for locals again.
are we *that* tan? hmph. i guess better than being mistaken for being from the midwest =X.
cutest old couple next to us.
the old lady asked the bear if he caught "the game."
we happened to have caught part of the university of hawaii game the day before.
bear & lady had cute conversation about football.

love the food stalls here.

NIGHTCAP_attempted duke's. ended up at the beach bar at the westin moana surfrider again (waikiki).

um, so duke's was too much of a scene. of mostly over-dressed american tourists in the 30-50something range. too crowded. too loud. so we moved on.

the bear tried a blue hawaii as he needed to try a blue drink. after that, he went back to his standby of vodka tonics. dudes, the drinks here are poured STRONG. like the vodka tonic was vodka with a splash of tonic. prices are high, but very worth it.

plus this bar is chill, quiet, and on the beach. so nice (cue bebel gilberto).

i had a giant glass of wine. like he filled the wine glass to the rim.
i had to lap/sip it w/no hands to get it to a handle-able fill.
i still spilled some.

got lots of good recs from our homie marnie (one of the bartenders who is like your favorite filipino uncle) for our last breakfast on the island.

well, first he recommended IHOP and original pancake house.
us: "what? we have those on the mainland!"plus i'm not insomniac. i don't love IHOP like she does.

the following recs were better:
"boots & kimo's overrated. cinnamon's in kailua much better."
"side street inn." (we checked, and it doesn't open 'til 2 pm. LOL.)
"zippy's. get a plate lunch PLUS a 'pac.'" (whatever that is. might have to try since it's the mcd's of hawaii.)
"rainbow drive-in." (been there, done that. know it's good.)
"nico's on pier 38. nice but kind of expensive. i take my girlfriend there." (eh, out of our way.)
"buffet at the moana surfrider. expensive but very good." (this rec was from another bartender who was our strong-drink-pouring homie.)

bear: some special, limited time only plate lunch to benefit some major league baseball player's foundation. was really good. had like 3 meats, eggs, rice, mac salad.

me: small chili rice. REALLY good chili. sooo good on rice.
saimin. really good and perfect for our mini hangovers.

to go for the plane: teri beef plate lunch. was A LOT of meat. the meat was just OK, though. plus we ate it cold on the plane.

get the chili rice.

until next time, mahalo, hawaii, for showing us a great, delicious time!

omg, props to everyone who read all of these long-winded recaps. yeesh to me.

oahu day 6: FULL day

//day 6
//chinatown, downtown honolulu, pearl harbor, waipahu, waikele, waikiki, university of hawaii manoa adjacent.

lots of pictures again! yay! we squeezed a lot into this day.

BREAKFAST_more manapuaaaaa!!! at royal kitchen (chinatown).
royal kitchen manapua & dim sum
handy dandy guide to the red food coloring dots on the buns to identify each.
i also really liked the chopstick wrappers.

royal kitchen manapua & dim sum
we just got a few.
this was a bit much for the two of us.
2 curry chicken manapua (so good!)
2 portuguese sausage manapua (such good sausage!)
2 char siu manapua (really good char siu!)
1 mai tai su (meh. the flaky/dense dough was too much. and too many water chestnuts in the filling. there is also pork, shiitake mushrooms, turnip, tiny dried shrimp, and i'm not sure what else in there.)
2 half moons (translucent ricey skin used for har gow, filled with same stuff as mai tai su)
2 pork hash. better known to us mainlanders as siu mai.

but...we were gearing up for a 2-hour walk, after all.

WALKING TOUR_aia honolulu architectural walking tour (downtown honolulu).
so the bear read about this tour by the honolulu chapter of the aia (american institute of architects) in our  westways magazine. yeah, the free one you get for being a member of AAA southern california. it's only $10 a person, we figured we'd get some history, and i was excited to maybe learn about the vernacular or evolution of architecture in hawaii since it was colonized by so many different groups. yay!

we met at the aia honolulu's offices. while waiting for everyone in the group to arrive, one of the chatty tour group participants took it upon himself to be mr. icebreaker. well, he just asked everyone where they were visiting from. it turns out all three other couples were from orange county. they all had some ties (grew up in, used to live in, etc.) the city we currently we live in (not in orange county). pure coincidence? nope. they all read about the tour in westways.

in fact, one guy works for AAA corporate. they all took pictures in front of the AIA's sign holding their copy of the article.

we kept our mouths shut but were poking each other. LOL.

oh, and all of the other couples were in their late 40s to their 60s. and half of the men had fanny packs on. no, we did not quite fit in.

so the tour. honestly, i got boooooored about halfway through. the bear loved it, though. let's just say the 70-year old architect who led the tour and i have very different approaches to and thoughts on architecture. if he knew which school i just finished, i bet he would have come after me with a pitchfork. boo! it's actually a very good tour for the layperson, and we did get a lot of good info about the history of hawaii.

and it was a good way to walk off 100 pounds of manapua.

the captions are what i heard and what i thought during the tour.
downtown honolulu walking tour
historic, blah blah blah. terra cotta blah blah blah.

downtown honolulu walking tour
ooh! a pretty drain. gorgeous metal.

downtown honolulu walking tour
street art! mr. humuhumunukunukuapuaa. how cute.

downtown honolulu walking tour
king kamehameha blah blah blah.
gold blah blah blah.
original statue lost at sea blah blah blah.
this king's dad's palace that this king didn't like.
so state blah offices housed here.
blah blah blah.

downtown honolulu walking tour
cemetery at the church for haoles = foreigners/outsiders.
you mean the white devils?

downtown honolulu walking tour
since kamehameha didn't like that first palace, he built another across the street.
heavy rustication there.
frilly victorian here.

downtown honolulu walking tour
holes in the stairs. so you can shoot your muskets through them while being protected.
yeah, not enough holes. *sniggle*
kamehameha's forces lost.
the haoles took over.

downtown honolulu walking tour
ooh, look at the drippy banyan tree.
too bad it's not a bridge like the banyans in india.

IMG_1626downtown honolulu walking tour
mmm. concrete.
state blah (legislature? courts?) housed here.
government very open blah blah to the people blah.

downtown honolulu walking tour
mmm. heavy. textured. concrete & stone.

downtown honolulu walking tour
mmm. concrete. love the thinness of the wood slats that made up the formwork.

downtown honolulu walking tour
ooh. retro & fun facade.

yup, by the end, i was pretty much absorbed in my own thoughts and not really listening.
bad walking tour tater. LOLOLOLOL.

MORE TOUR_world war II valor in the pacific memorial (pearl harbor).
now this was worth it. entry to the memorial park and to the USS arizona memorial is free. there are other memorials in the memorial that cost extra (submarine, and i forget what else).

we also paid $7.50 for the audio tour, which was actually quite good. jamie lee curtis' voice is perfect to narrate the somber experience.

tip: so the timed ferries to the uss arizona begin at 8 am. the memorial park opens at 7 am, when you can buy your tickets. first come, first time slots. apparently people line up before 7 am to get in. some of these people stand in line for an hour and get time slots for an hour or more later than that.

instead, be late like us. we got there midday. there was no line to get uss arizona tickets. our time slot was for maybe 30-45 minutes after we arrived--enough time to get through the first three or so stations on the audio tour.

anyway, it's a great memorial, we learned a lot, and it was a good way to remember our servicepeople.

world war II valor in the pacific national monument at pearl harbor
tree of life sculpture (also repeated next to the USS arizona wall o' names.)

world war II valor in the pacific national monument at pearl harbor
the ferry over to the uss arizona.

world war II valor in the pacific national monument at pearl harbor

world war II valor in the pacific national monument at pearl harbor

world war II valor in the pacific national monument at pearl harbor

world war II valor in the pacific national monument at pearl harbor

world war II valor in the pacific national monument at pearl harbor

LUNCH_tanioka's seafoods & catering (waipahu).
got there too late. all the good stuff was gone. what we had was good but mostly cold/lukewarm.
shared: lumpia, fried rice, fried chicken, poke.

ate sitting in the car in the parking lot. that's just how we roll.

SHOP_waikele "premium" outlets (waipahu).
LAME. don't waste your time.


DINNER_choi's kitchen (international market, waikiki).
overpriced, but hit the spot as i was craving asian food. it's pretty much hawaiianized korean.
bear: kimchee fried rice with spicy pork bulgogi. side of mandoo (gyoza/potstickers/dumplings).
me: fried noodles with shrimp.

DESSERT_bubbie's (near university of hawaii manoa).
needed their mochi ice cream again. needed.

bubbies mochi ice cream

bubbies mochi ice cream
lychee - good.
guava - really good.
lilikoi (passion fruit) - BEST!
pumpkin - really good, but hard to get in the mood when it's 80 and humid at night.
strawberry dark chocolate chip - good. loved the chocolate mochi skin.

yay for super-full days!