Friday, December 03, 2010

Giveaway: $35 gift certificate from

I'm happy to announce an opportunity for one lucky blog reader to win a $35 gift certificate to If you still haven't had a chance to visit CSN Stores, they operate 200+ websites with thousands of products. While I enjoy checking out their travel accessories and cookware, they also sell everything from backyard furniture to barstool and lighting.

You might recall the product review I did last month. Currently, I'm longing for these two products to add to my kitchen.

Owl Oven Mitt and Potholders Set - $19.99

Enter to win the $35 gift certificate to by leaving a comment below and sharing what you would buy with the gift certificate. Please include your first name and email address. Open to residents of the United States and Canada only. Limit one entry per person.

The giveaway closes on Friday, December 17, 2010 at 11:55 pm EST. One winner will be chosen using and notified via email. 48 hours will be given to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

In the Kitchen: A Product Review

My products from arrived some weeks ago, but I only had a chance to put them in to use recently. Shopping with CSN Stores is easy; the only hindrance is the variety of products they carry makes picking out what to buy hard!

I decided to go the practical route and picked out two new items for our kitchen. As you know from my previous posts, Raisin Bread and I have been cooking quite often at home. While we have made lots of healthy meals, a few of our cookware and electronic items died as a result.

We needed a new hand mixer to replace the one that broke, and I chose the Proctor-Silex Hand Mixer. This model is extremely non-fancy and is pretty generic, but I liked the price point and it does the job that it was meant to do. I've only used the mixer once so far and it was to make a Hong Kong-style egg custard tart. It came out beautifully!

Proctor-Silex Hand Mixer Features:
  • Bowl rest feature
  • 125 Watts
  • Beater eject
  • 5 speeds
The other item I chose was a Farberware Superior Nonstick 8" Deep Skillet in Black. We have several other small skillets, but they have lost their nonstickyness due to overuse. Besides the nonstick surface, I absolutely love that deepness of the skillet. This makes it more difficult for me to fling food out of the skillet while I'm stirring. Since I'm not sure how long the skillet will stay nonstick, I used the skillet to make some omelettes for brunch last weekend. Yummy!

Farberware Superior 8" Skillet features:
  • Deep skillet
  • Superior nonstick interior for fat-free cooking
  • Even heat distribution throughout the entire pan for perfect cooking performance
  • Comfortable, riveted handle is oven safe to 350°F

  • Cleaning and care: Dishwasher safe
  • Color: Black
  • Overall dimensions: 3" H x 8.5" W x 14.25" D
Disclosure: provided me with an electronic gift certificate in the value of $35 to purchase the items in this review. No monetary or other compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own.  

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    Say Cheese: Shutterfly's 2010 Holiday Collection

    This could just be me, but I have always thought that sending your friends and family cards with your face on it was some how strange and narcissistic. Over the past few years, as we’ve all grown up and become adults, I’ve found more and more of my friends and family living farther and farther apart. It’s not unusual for me to see certain people in my life only once or twice a year. Now, seeing their gorgeous faces smiling back at me on a greeting card is a comfort.

    Shutterfly recently debuted its new 2010 holiday card collection. With over 700 designs, Shutterfly offers a variety of sizes and styles as well as both folded and flat Christmas photo cards. These cards are a great way to mark significant moments in life. If you are newly married or have just had a child or have just returned from the most amazing vacation of your life, sharing those moments with loved ones is what the holidays are all about.

    Here are a few of my favorite Christmas card designs.

    Disclosure: Shutterfly is providing me with a set of holiday cards but no monetary or other compensation was received for this post. 

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Coming Soon: Product Review

    I was recently approached by to participate in a product review. If you aren't familiar with this company, CSN Stores operates 200+ websites with thousands of products. They sell everything from furniture and upholstered headboards to clothing, cookware and luggage.

    Over the coming weeks, I will be perusing their pages for an item to review. Here are two items that have already caught my eye:

    Stay tuned to see what I pick and hear about my experience shopping at

    Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. 

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Good bye!

    This blog will soon be decommissioned. I have been thinking a lot lately about what I want to say as a blogger, and I realized that I want to say more about me. So I'm moving all of my old content and writing new posts here:

    I would love it if you would follow me there!

    Love, Irene

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Things to Do Before I leave LA

    I have approximately 81 days left in Los Angeles. I don't think I can add much more to this list because it will be impossible to achieve. 

    Things to Eat:
    - Eat a bacon-wrapped hot dog from a street cart
    - Palm Springs date shake (June)
    - Eat a chili burger at Tommy's
    - Animal
    - Beacon
    - Bludso’s Brisket
    - Cole’s French Dip
    - The Coop (April)
    - Craft
    - Fraiche
    - Gloria's Salvadoran (April)
    - Jitlada
    - Lawry’s Prime Rib
    - Let’s Be Frank’s Hot Dog
    - Ludo’s Fried Chicken (April)
    - Mo Chica (April)
    - Nickel Diner
    - Patisserie at The Bazaar
    - Spago
    - The Gorbals
    - The Golden State
    - Umami

    Things to Do:
    - Watch a Derby Dolls match
    - Get a naked scrub down at a Korean spa
    - Watts Tower
    - Self-Realization Fellowship
    - Van Nuys Japanese Garden
    - Mt Wilson
    - San Antonio Winery
    - Monastery of the Angels
    - Charmlee Wilderness Park
    - Griffith Park Hike
    - Heritage Square

    Thursday, April 08, 2010

    NomNoms: Resto (New York City)

    I get a day off for Cesar Chavez Day, so Matt and I planned a short trip to New York for the weekend. We didn't have any luck with the two restaurants that I wanted to try. When the original restaurants had entirely too long of a wait, we wandered some back streets, looking on Yelp for possibilities. We wound up stumbling upon Resto in Murray Hill, and I am glad that we did.

    Resto is an adorable, homey Belgian restaurant. It was very quaint and unpretentious for a New York restaurant and was just comfortable. I ordered the chicken and waffles. The citrus chili syrup was kind of a strange addition and I wasn't particularly fond of it. But the gravy, chicken and bacon waffle were amazing. 

    Chicken 'n Waffles
    (bacon waffle, peppercorn gravy, citrus chili syrup)

    Matt ordered the traditional Belgian dish of steamed mussels and fries, but with a twist. Resto has three different kinds of broth you can choose from, so he picked the Thai-inspired one. It was absolutely delicious. The frites were also great. Big and fat, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They also come with a ton of options for dipping sauces, and he picked an Indian-inspired cumin, yogurt one. Yum! I do wish I had ordered this dish now!

    Moules & Frites
    (green curry, lemongrass, coconut milk, kaffir lime broth)

    111 East 29th Street
    New York, NY 10016

    Monday, April 05, 2010

    NomNoms: The Golden State Cafe (Los Angeles)

    Seems to me that there is no limit to the number of amazing burgers to be found in Los Angeles. The Counter. Father's Office. 25 degrees. Umami Burger. I heard another amazing burger could be found at The Golden State. Then I heard that a beer float could also be found there and I had to try it despite the fact that it scared me to death.

    The burger looked tiny to me when it was set before me, but it was extremely filling. The bun and arugula were perhaps my favorite elements of the burger. I was still on my 40 days without fried foods, so I ordered the Persian cucumber salad. I was very happy that I did because it gave a fresh contrast to the heavy burger, rather than the normal heaviness upon heaviness that the combination of burger and fries normally presents.

    Burger with Harris Ranch beef, Fiscalini Farms cheddar, 
    glazed applewood smoked bacon, arugula, housemade aioli and ketchup

    And now for the beer float. Made from Old Rasputin Imperial Stout and Scoops brown bread ice cream. I could only eat half of it. The stout was extremely bitter and hoppy. However, it was a fine experiment. Next time, I would prefer the root beer float. 

    Beer float with Scoops brown bread ice cream
    The Golden State Cafe
    426 N. Fairfax Ave. 
    Los Angeles, CA 90036

    Thursday, April 01, 2010

    NomNoms: The Vegan Joint (Los Angeles)

    On Matt's last excursion to Los Angeles, he fell ill and couldn't eat much of anything. Therefore, for breakfast, he only wanted to have a fruit smoothie. The only places I know of that serve fruit smoothies besides Jamba Juice and Robeks are vegan restaurants, so we decided to try out The Vegan Joint. The food was very delicious and I think the fruit smoothie wasn't bad either. Don't order the thai iced ice with boba, however. It was terrible. The boba was rubbery and undercooked. 

    Dumplings had a strange texture but I guess that is what happens with fake meat. The mushroom soup tasted just like tom kha and the Chinese soup had a refreshing, light broth. I am looking forward to eating here again despite the fact that I dislike vegans very much.   

    Grilled Dumplings
    Fruit Smoothie
    Mushroom soup with coconut milk, bamboo shoots, mushroom
    Chinese soup with glass noodles, shitake, broccoli,tofu, napa cabbage

    10438 National Blvd. 
    Los Angeles, CA 90034

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    NomNoms: 99 Things to Eat before You Die in LA (Los Angeles)

    Let's see how many I have eaten from things Mr. Gold wants me to eat:

    101 Noodle Express’ Beef Roll Gold
    Akasha’s Quinoa With Edamame
    Ancient Ginger Soup at Noodle Island
    Angeli’s Gnocchi
    Animal’s Foie Gras & Biscuits and Gravy
    Anisette’s Pain au Chocolat
    Apple Pan’s Hickoryburger
    A-Won’s Al Bap
    Banh Mi from Mr. Baguette
    Bay Cities’ Godmother
    Beverly Soon Tofu
    Bigmista’s Pig Candy
    Bludso’s Brisket
    Bob’s Plain Doughnut
    Border Grill’s Green Corn Tamales
    Brandt Beef
    Brooklyn’s Hearth-Baked Bagel
    Bulgarini’s Goat’s Milk Gelato
    Campanile’s Grilled Prime Rib
    Canary’s Lamb-Tongue Sandwich
    Capital’s Hot Almond Milk in Pastry
    Casa Bianca’s Sausage-and-Eggplant Pizza
    Chantilly’s Sesame Cream Puffs
    Chicharrones de Queso
    Chichen Itza’s Panuchos
    Chili John’s Chili
    Chinois’ Sizzling Catfish
    Chung King’s Chongqing Fried Chicken
    Ciro’s Flautas
    Cole’s French Dip
    Comme Ca’s Cheeseburger
    Cut’s Bone-Marrow Flan
    Din Tai Fung’s Soup Dumplings
    Donut Man’s Strawberry Doughnut
    El Atacor #11’s Potato Tacos
    El Parian’s Birria
    Euro Pane’s Egg Salad Sandwich
    Eva Solo-Brewed Coffee
    Eva’s Lechon
    Fab L.A.’s Street Dog
    Golden Deli’s Vietnamese Spring Rolls
    Good Girl Dinette’s Chicken PotPie
    Harry’s Seascape Strawberries
    Hollenbeck Burrito
    Hot Dog on a Stick
    Huarache de Cabeza
    Huckleberry’s Maple-Bacon Biscuits
    Hungry Cat’s Lobster Roll
    Ivy’s Corn Chowder
    Jitlada’s Fish Kidneys
    Kiriko’s Salmon Sashimi
    Kiyokawa’s Sashimi
    Kogi’s Kalbi Taco
    Krakatoa-Blend Coffee
    Krua Thai’s Pad Thai
    L.A. Galbi
    La Brea Bakery’s Country White Bread
    Langer’s Hot Pastrami
    Lawry’s Prime Rib
    Let’s Be Frank’s Hot Dog
    Little Dom’s Oyster Po’ Boy
    Little Flower’s Sea-Salt Caramels
    Ludo’s Fried Chicken
    Luna Oysters
    Lupe’s #2 Burrito
    Mandarin House’s cha chiang mein
    Maple Bacon Donut
    Matsuhisa’s New-Style Sashimi
    MCGrath’s Rainbow Chard
    Meals by Genet’s Doro Wot
    Michael Cimarusti’s Squid With Piquillo Peppers and Pig’s Ear
    Mo-Chica’s Seviche
    Mozza Pizza
    Musso & Frank’s Welsh Rarebit
    Natraliart’s Sprats
    Newport Seafood’s Spicy Lobster
    Oki Dog
    Palate’s Vegetables en Papillote
    Paleron With Kumquats and Cream of Wheat
    Peruvian Roast Chicken
    Philippe’s French Dip
    Pho Minh’s Pho Bac
    Rajdhani’s Thali
    Rivera’s Tortillas
    Saffron Silk Ice Cream
    San Nak Ji
    Sapp Coffee Shop’s Boat Noodles
    Shanghai Xiao Chi’s Pork Pump
    Shanxi Knife-Cut Noodles
    Sherry Yard’s Kaiserschmarrn
    Street-Vendor Cheese Enchiladas
    The Gorbals’ Dill Fries
    THE Grill on the Alley’s Corned Beef Hash
    Tito’s Old-School Tacos
    Urasawa’s Fugu
    Wa Sushi’s Apple Pie and Eel
    Whatever Lou Tells You to Drink
    Yellow Fish Fried With Hair Seaweed

    I got an F. 

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    My Fair Country: Nashville

    I'm in the initial planning stages of a cross-country roadtrip. I was delighted to see Gwenny Poo gave me an extensive list of things to do in Nashville this morning.

    Honky tonks, fried chicken shacks and cafes galore
    ! Woohoo!

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    NomNoms: Me Jana (DC Metro)

    Okay, so I'm not going to lie. I love Los Angeles, and one of the reasons I love Los Angeles is because of the food. There is so much variety and it's all so good no matter the price range you're looking at. DC has disappointed me so far in the food category. Restaurants that I would go back to in DC, I would never dine at in LA.

    Me Jana is a Lebanese restaurant that Matt and I tried to go to in January, but it was ridiculously crowded so we wound up leaving. For Valentine's Day, we tried again and this time called before we arrived. Again, it was completely packed and tables were turning over like crazy.

    We ordered a variety of cold and warm mezza, which are small plates like tapas. Only a few of the dishes were good. The goat cheese salad and the seared cheese were delicious, although it was difficult to eat more than one piece of the cheese. It was heavy but tasty. I think the dates put the goat cheese salad over the edge, and I have been adding dried dates to my lunchtime salads since. The mozzarella was okay. You would think that figs and mozzarella would be amazing, but I think the dressing was its the downfall. The sea scallops were just awful. An overcooked, rubbery mess. You can tell that they will be awful just by looking at the photo. The lamb was also okay, a little overcooked for my tastes but the flavor was there.

    Goat cheese salad with mixed greens, oranges, dates and walnuts with a citrus vinaigrette


    Mozzarella, tomato, figs, basil & balsamic vinegar

     Seared cheese with pears and dates


    Sea scallops with saffron lemon yogurt

    Lamb chops

    For dessert, we went out on a limb and ordered the achta. It has the consistency of ricotta, but the taste was the interesting part. Imagine taking a single red rose in one hand and then sticking the entire head of the flower into your mouth. That's about what it tasted like to me. In fact, as I continued eating it, I imagined myself doing just that. It was more palatable when including the pieces of fruit in my bites.  

    Achta with bananas and strawberries

    Whenever we go out to eat in LA, at the end of the meal, Matt will inevitably ask, "How many stars would you give them?" But in DC, we have learned that the million dollar question is, "If you were in LA, would you eat here?" Me Jana, the answer is "no."

    Me Jana
    2300 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22201

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    The Oscar Report

    It isn't every day that you or I get invited to attend the Academy Awards. I learned that the only way to get your booty into the Oscars is to be invited. The seatfillers have an "in" even. Academy members go through the lottery system and if they are picked, they still have to pay for their tickets. I found myself in a very fortunate situation when my dear friend invited me to attend as one of her two guests.

    For nominees, the night is a once in a lifetime experience, but it was also for me since I have absolutely nothing to do with the film industry.The first item of business was to find the dress. I'm on a tight budget and wound up scouring a number of closets to find something to borrow. What I wound up with was a beautiful blue silk Calvin Klein evening dress that was....a size two and a little too tight. I had two back up dresses in case it was still too tight after two weeks but my heart was set on the blue one! Thank you, Lean Cuisine, salads and 24 Hour Fitness! I owe you.

    The day of "the show" (as people in the know call it) was spent primping for many hours. First was curling the hair and then driving to my friend's place to pick up the second guest and get our eye makeup done. Then we were off to the Renaissance Hotel to meet up with the benevolent inviter and take some photos before the show.

    When the big day was approaching, I wondered several times how one gets to Hollywood and Highland when Hollywood and Highland are both closed for the Oscars. In our ticket packet, we were provided with a handy dandy auto pass and when we approached said closed roads, the nice police officers removed the barricades for us to drive on through. Even at this point, there were a ton of looky-loos standing on the sides of the road, taking photos. When we finally got to the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, we found ourselves in a bit of a situation. Our grand plan was to go to the Renaissance, change and take photos. When we arrived, our car was promptly swept away and we were left surrounded by security guards in the pouring rain. We were dressed casually so these guards started bombarding us with questions of why were we there. Finally, we were escorted to the Renaissance, where we were able to finish getting ready.

    We went down to the red carpet around 4:15 p.m., which would give us a good amount of time to leisurely walk the carpet, meet up with our friend again and then make it into the theatre for the cocktail reception. Immediately upon arriving on the red carpet, Colin Firth was being interviewed to my left and Queen Latifah was stepping out of her limo. After Firthy was done with his interview, he stepped into line and somehow wound up with his shoulder next to my face. He is taller than me after all.

    Now, a little explanation of the red carpet is in order. Even at an exclusive event such as the Oscars, people are still STILL separated into the somebodies and the nobodies. At the security tent, the somebodies get quickly swept away by pretty young things in headsets while the nobodys slowly trudge their way through. Then the actual red carpet is separated into two lines, the press line and the nobody-wants-to-see-you-on-tv line. At points, everyone would get mixed together, but in general, it was pretty segregated.

    On the red carpet, I spotted Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Sandra Bullock and Jesse James, Miley Cyrus, Meryl Streep, Gabourey Sibide, Lee Daniels, Tom Ford, Stanley Tucci, Jason Bateman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Saarsgaard with Seacrest, Billy Bush and Mario Lopez doing broadcasts.

    As we were entering the theatre, Meryl Streep was next to me and Woody Harrelson a few people back. Once we got inside the Kodak Theatre, we enjoyed champagne from Moet & Chandon. There were also hors d'oeuvres from Wolfgang Puck but I was only able to get two. I spotted Wolfgang Puck a few tables down talking to a strange looking man with a scruffy beard. Then I realized it was Antonio Banderas and next to him was his wife, Melanie Griffith. As I said, we weren’t very lucky with the cater waiters, but we spied one not far away from us so we went after him. Then I realized who he had stopped to serve. It was Mayor Villaraigosa! Robert Duvall was wondering around a lot and I must have passed him four times at least. With about fifteen minutes left until we needed to take our seats, my friend said, "Look it's Matt Damon!" When I turned around, he was right in front of me, looking very cheerful. She claims that he smiled at me, but I hate to brag.

    I'm sure you saw the ceremonies so I will just highlight a few things:
    - The stage was absolutely beautiful no matter what color it was.
    - Duckie! Did you see Duckie?
    - Rachel McAdams' dress
    - Love that Hurt Locker kicked Avatar's butt (I didn't watch either of them)
    - The "Kayne" moment was much more awkward in the theatre than it probably was on television
    - I love Gabby Sidibe! She is so adorable. Here is more proof:

    The remainder of the night was a bit of a nightmare that I don't want to get into, but we managed to spot Gerard Butler and Samuel L. Jackson as we were leaving the Kodak.

    I suppose attending the most exclusive and prestigious event in Hollywood should make you feel special and I did. I was excited to be there and loved the chance to dress up and be part of the event. But the truth is that I wasn't part of it. I was just there and it still made me feel like anyone else watching from their living rooms. Yes, I love movies, and yes, I will remember that night for a long time to come and am so grateful that I got to go, but I still felt like a voyeur.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    SeeDo: Manifest Equality (Los Angeles)

    You've heard of pop-up shopping. Now, there are pop-up art shows. For one weekend only, Manifest Equality took over the site and parking lot of a former Big Lots! store on Vine Street in Hollywood to present a diverse showing of artwork for a good cause: promoting full and equal rights to all Americans. Lots of famous artists were represented such as Gary Basemen, Shepard Fairey, and Ron English but also a fair share of up and coming artists.

    The last dreary Saturday was a nice time to enjoy some works indoors. 

    Manifest Equality's logo in yarn

    Side view of the yarn heart
    This poor chalk bear looks so sad, and then he got rained on.
    Some of the installations:

    The art show also gave us an opportunity to search for some pieces for our new home. We actually found a piece we both loved, but it was already sold. We looked at the price list anyway and discovered the piece to be extremely affordable. I emailed the artist the next day and now we are in the process of purchasing a few pieces of her work!

    All in all, it was a successful outing. Plus, they had an awesome photo booth and free buttons!

    Tuesday, March 02, 2010

    NomNoms: Westside Tavern (Los Angeles)

    Do you ever dream about certain foods and constantly find yourself thinking about them? I had been dreaming about Westside Tavern's chicken liver mousse for weeks and weeks. When Matt unexpectedly appeared in town, I begged him to go there with me.

    The chicken liver mousse is so rich and thick and there is so much of it. Smear it on some perfectly toasted slices of bread and add a little sweet apple chutney and delicious-ness occurs. 

    Since I was planning to bogart the mousse to myself, I only ordered a half dozen oysters for the rest of my meal.

    Jar of chicken liver mousse

    The horseradish seafood sauce was ridiculous. I wish I hadn't even wasted an oyster trying the other sauce. I don't even know what it was. 
    Half dozen oysters

    I only tried a bite of the pot roast and don't remember much about it. It looks pretty though. I couldn't try more because Matt was sick and I was preoccupied by the mousse.

    Beef short rib pot roast

    10850 West Pico Boulevard
    Los Angeles, California 90064

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    NomNoms: Ben's Chili Bowl (DC Metro)

    Ben's Chili Bowl is one DC landmark that I don't need to revisit. After a 45 minute line, I finally got the messiest chili cheese burger known to man and shared an order of chili cheese fries.While the food was actually really good, the whole ordeal of waiting and waiting was too much for me. Even Pink's is more efficient and organized and has more menu options.


    Chili Cheese Burger,
    which I had to eat holding it in the waxed paper

    Chili half-smoke

    Ben's Chili Bowl
    1213 U Street
    Washington, DC 20009

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    NomNoms: New Place for the Week #3 - Spago (Los Angeles)

    Being one to take advantage of most opportunities, I took the opportunity to experience what is arguably the most famous restaurant in Los Angeles for my final DineLA meal: Spago.

    For me, Spago did not disappoint. The wait staff was phenomenal and made diners feel comfortable. The food was plentiful. Our orders was huge and if that's not enough, the bread guy came back to offer more and more and more bread of varying varieties. The lavash and walnut bread were amazing. I'm also a sucker for any sourdough or olive bread. 

    My dining companion shared each dish even though that might be a little bit of a faux pas. I'm a foodie blogger, so I have to try everything. The raviolini was rich and smooth. The pork terrine was just okay.

     Wild Mushroom Raviolini With Mascarpone And Reggiano

     Pork Terrine

    Aren't your portions supposed to be the size of your fist? The rack of pork was the size of my head but it was also quite tasty. The short ribs on the other hand had a delicious sauce that I kept on eating and eating. 

     Roasted Rack of Kurobuta Pork 

    Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs

    I felt bad that I ordered the date cake because it was like nothing I had ever tasted before. It had the consistency of a bread pudding but that wasn't what it was. By then, I was so full that I barely had any of the apple tart. The pastry was flaky and buttery but definitely didn't hold a candle to the date cake. 

    Medjool Date Cake
    Apple Vol au Vent 

    176 North Canon Drive
    Beverly Hills, CA