Hello, again. I’ve missed you.

It’s been awhile. I have no excuses. I let life get the best of me and I forgot to reflect. And I firmly believe that living life without reflection inhibits personal growth.

Things happened. Life carried on. Thoughts/experiences that I never got to capture before new ones replaced them are but a faint memory. Now, these moments will only live on in my head.

So I’m back. Word by word. Capturing on the blank space of this page my thoughts, experiences and memories.

A new year, a new beginning with better intent to live the best life possible.

Join me on the adventures/challenges/growth I’ve set forth for myself for this year and see if I make good.

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Beauty Junkie: Parisut Coconut Oil

Shhhhh. Don’t tell anyone but I’m about to reveal to you that I’m a closet beauty product whore. But only because this is my first foray into product reviews.

I have always LOVED trying new products. I open new bottles/jars before I finish the old ones. My sister “hates” this about me. Love you thi! I buy things in large shipments at a time. I am one of Sephora’s VIB Insiders because I spend the annual minimum requirement of $350. But, since I have been moving towards living more simply and organically when it comes to food and the things I put IN my body. I thought, why not with the products I put I ON my body.

I have chronically dry skin. My ancestors hail from tropical regions of high humidity. The word lotion and scaly aren’t in their vocabularies. Because of the dry California weather I grew up in, I fight a battle every day trying to quench the thirst of my parched skin. In the pursuit of hydrated skin I know no bounds.

Last January, my parents came back from Thailand with four 1,000ml bottles of organic, cold-pressed, 100% Parisut Coconut Oil. No, those aren’t their hands. Just an ad I found online because my bottle has seen better days.

Parisut Coconut Oil

Because coconut oil solidifies below 76F degrees, is why my bottle also doesn’t look like that. My bottle solidified to an opaque white and was as hard as a rock. My parents said it was a gift from my aunt who swears by the stuff. There were nutritional facts on the bottle so I was confused as what I was supposed to do with it. Eat it or use it as a moisturizer? The ‘rents confirmed it was for the skin but could be eaten as well. Skeptical, as I didn’t think the “I just patted myself down with fried chicken” look quite works for me, but it was 100% organic. Why not?

It’s heaven! I’ve found what I’ve been looking for! There’s no distinct coconut smell and it absorbs within contact. I can use it on my face and body and no breakouts. In fact, I believe it’s helped keep my stubborn hormonal acne at bay. There’s no residue or greasiness. And best of all…no need to reapply! I use it after I shower or wash my face and it keeps my hydrated until I rinse it off in the shower. Best used right after a hot shower. In fact keep the bottle in the bathroom so that the steam can help soften the hardened oil. Otherwise, you’ll have to run the bottle under hot water to liquefy it. I melted mine and put it in a jar for easier access. I just scoop out with my fingertip what I need and it melts almost immediately onto the skin.

My skin is soft and finally hydrated and the product obsession has been sated…for now;)

Wanderlust Los Angeles: “Syracuse vs. USC at the Coliseum”

Let’s Go Orange! Let’s Go!

Now,  I normally don’t get excited about college football but Syracuse, my alma mater, was trekking all the way out to Los Angeles from the snowy tundra of Central NY to go head-to-head with USC. I felt like I needed to show some home-town hospitality and also get the chance to flaunt my alumni pride. It was probably going to be a slaughter by the Trojans but once an Orange always an Orange and I couldn’t help but join my fellow alumni in the SU Alumni sponsored tailgate and game.

Go Orange!

The tailgate was sponsored by the university. There was a ton of food and beverages with different stations ranging from a taco bar to pulled pork sandwiches reminiscent of Syracuse’s own Dinosaur BBQ, as well as snow cone and Diddy Riese cookie stations. There was approximately 750 SU fans and alumni in attendance. The Syracuse cheerleaders with mascot Otto made an appearance, as well as famous SU alum, Taye Diggs.

“Down the Field” – Syracuse Fight Song

Out upon the gridiron stands old Syracuse,
Warriors clad in orange and in blue,
Fighting for the fame of Alma Mater.
Soon those Crouse chimes will be ringing,
Soon you’ll hear those fellows singing.
Onondaga’s braves are out to win today,
The sons of Syracuse are ready for the fray,
The line holds like a wall and now the Orange has the ball,
So ready for that old long yell. Rah! Rah! Rah!

Chorus:
Down, Down the field goes old Syracuse,
Just see those backs hit the line and go thru’;
Down, down the field they go marching,
Fighting for the Orange staunch and true.
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Vict’ry’s in sight for old Syr-a-cuse,
Each loyal son knows she ne’er more will lose,
For we’ll fight, yes, we’ll fight, and with all our might
For the glory of old Syracuse.

Gotta start 'em young.

The best thing about Orange alumni and fans is the unfaltering loyalty. We stayed through till the end with aerated aspirations lined with a sliver of hope that we could still make a comeback. Unfortunately, the Trojans walked away victorious with a 38-17 win. But, yet we were still floating on Orange pride. And that’s because real fans wear orange.

Wanderlust: Los Angeles “Man v Bar 6: Drinking for a Cause”

My friend Marvin recently took up training for triathlons as a hobby. His story alone is inspirational. Check out his Running Without Music blog to read his journey. This guy didn’t know how to swim nor owned a bike and he trained himself to complete entire triathlons. Who does that?! This guy does.

And while doing so he is raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training, a fantastic sports endurance program that benefits such a great cause. Team in Training athletes have walked away with new friends, amazing accomplishments and the sense that they did something even more important than getting in good shape. They helped get one step closer to finding a cure for blood cancers because every four minutes, someone new is diagnosed and every 10 minutes, someone dies.

So, when the invite went out for the Man v Bar charity pub crawl in Santa Monica and all proceeds were going to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society one really can’t pass up the opportunity to support a friend and a great cause all while meeting new friends and exploring new bars.

Friends!

In its 6th year, Man v Bar is an awesome annual charity event in the form of a rowdy, fun, pub crawl. The $20 suggested donation at the door gets you exclusive food & drink specials throughout the day.

Stated in humbling, impacting realism on the  event’s website, “Man v Bar isn’t going to make one billion dollars, but that’s how much Team in Training has raised for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

You’re going to come to Man v. Bar, have a blast, meet all kinds of new people and walk away with a memory you’ll recall one day and you’ll smile to yourself and think, “That was a riot.”

Man vs Bar boys.

But what you probably won’t remember, probably won’t recall or even notice was that when you were with us crawling from Ye Olde King’s Head all the way to Monsoon, amidst all the shots, pints, laughs and hilariously good times, you were part of a movement to make something happen. You were part of changing the world.

Over the last 30 years, Team in Training tripled the survival rate for leukemia and blood cancers from 10% to 42%

Imagine, that in the next 30 years, the survival rate at 100%.

You were part of changing the world.”

Just another lovely day in Santa Monica:)

Wanderlust: Los Angeles “Karaoke Bars”

Karaoke. One of Los Angeles’ favorite past-times, because we are a sea of self-indulgent, wannabe performers who will do anything for attention, including, but not limited to, singing badly off-key and dancing unnaturally with props all the while intoxicated.

Having had two separate karaoke outings in one week, I thought I’d showcase a few of LA’s favorite karaoke institutions.

Max’s Karaoke – West LA

Last Tuesday, a group of 8 of us met at Max’s to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Max’s is located on Sawtelle in the Little Osaka neighborhood. Max is as close to authentic Asian karaoke as you can get. At Max’s you rent out rooms by the hour. They have Japanese, Chinese and English songbooks. Prices range depending on group size but on average it’s about $6-$7 a per person per hour with the more people in the room the cheaper it gets. For $1 more per person, you can bring in your own food and drinks. They say no alcohol but when they ask you up front, you just say no and no questions are asked. Make sure to get some delicious cream puffs from Beard Papa’s in the plaza. What’s cool is that they now have iPads to key in your song queue instead of those clunky songbooks and old school remotes and they’re open to 4am on Fri and Sat.

DimplesBurbank  

On Friday, it was a bachelorette party at Dimples Showcase. According to the website, Dimples was the first karaoke club in America. It’s a quirky dive bar with dining rooms and a stage that sits front and center. But, there’s no bad seat in the house because there are cameras that project on every wall and tv in the place! They also live stream karaoke performances on their website and if that’s not enough, if you’re celebrating a birthday or special event (especially if you’re a big group of all girls), owner Sal Ferarro will hook you up with free copies of your performances on DVD and souvenir photographs to take home. It’s right across the street from NBC and Warner Bros Studios, so the clientele is mostly entertainment biz folk and those who wish to be discovered by them. Dimples is legendary, with celebrities stopping in to sing sometimes their own songs. (Though that isn’t really karaoke anymore now, is it?) Cover was $5 on a Friday night.

Watch the video of our performance of Michael Jackson’s PYT. By the way, I am completely sober as you can probably tell. Awkward much? Lol.

Brass Monkey – K-town

I’ll always have a soft spot for Brass Monkey on Wilshire because it was the first ever karaoke bar that I visited and reluctantly became a regular at during the early years of my bar-hopping youth. It was there that I popped my karaoke cherry ironically singing Madonna’s Like a Virgin. It was there that I spent a many nights hurling in their tiny bathroom stalls after one too many Jack and Cokes. It was there that I met Elton from Clueless and acted out “Rolling with the Homies” for him. Brass Monkey is ALWAYS packed. It makes for a fun crowd. Downside, for those who want a lot of mic time, you’ll probably only get in 1-2 songs unless you go early or buy the KJ, karaoke jockey, lots of drinks. They have great greasy bar food to help soak up the Jack and Cokes. Best nachos ever! Brass Monkey is always a fun time. Great crowd who dances with you during your performances and an awesome KJ who keeps the energy up between songs.

Love it or hate, karaoke is here to stay. It’s a past-time everyone either loves to hate or hates to love. I fall into the latter cateogry. It’s like an addiction. What can I say or sing? Except…nah, nah, na, na…

Sing it, baby! Tell me, what’s your favorite place to karaoke?

Wanderlust: Los Angeles “Jet Rag’s $1 Sunday Yard Sale”

I have lived in Los Angeles proper for about about 6 years now and I am in awe that there is still so much left to discover. Case in point, Jet Rag’s $1 Sunday Yard Sale. For a year or two when I lived in WeHo, I would drive down La Brea on Sunday mornings and see this massive crowd swarming piles of clothing on the floor of the parking lot. Growing up my mom never let me go thrift store shopping. She believed that no amount of washing could get out people’s “goodies”, i.e. pit stains and whatnot.

As a result, I never understood the appeal of second-hand clothing. It wasn’t until college where I discovered that idea of vintage was all about individualism, creativity and art versus looking like a safe cardboard cutout from GAP or a mass-produced anti-conformist conformist from Hot Topics. Today, I like to think of vintage shopping as treasure hunting, finding unique pieces to mix and match with the GAP staples to make it my own.

Jet Rag’s $1 yard sale is a Sunday staple of young, hipster Angelenos in search of vintage wares, recycled fabrics, and costume inspirations. Did I mention that everything is only $1? But, come prepared to work and maybe even brawl because everyone will put up a good fight for the best pieces.

Every Sunday, starting at the 9am, clothes are literally dumped into 4 long piles in Jet Rag’s parking lot. These piles are usually leftover from the previous week’s sale. The pot of gold lies in the plastic wrapped bundles that devoted loyalists have already staked out and claimed first dibs on by sitting right on top of them. The bundles are cut at specific times several times a day. I had gotten there around 9:30am so I had missed the first bundle cutting. Though I was going to make sure that I stuck around for the second one happening at 10:45am just to be a part of the pandemonium.

Watch the video as hordes of Angelenos frenzy sweep the parking lot of Jet Rag clean.

I walked away with three items costing me a whopping $3. One of the dresses was a muumuu big enough to fit two of me inside. But, I was loving the floral and lace pattern so much so that I was inspired to even take up sewing just so I can make my own dress out of the material. The other dress was a 50s inspired collared, button down green polka-dotted dress and the last item was a pair of medical scrubs just in case if I decide to go as a manic med student who kills her patients for Halloween.

The Jet Rag $1.00 sale happens every Sunday, rain or shine, 9am to about 5pm.

Jet Rag
825 N La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3340
Phone: (323) 939-0528

Cost: All items in parking lot are $1.00. They request exact change in the mornings.

Note: Metered street parking on La Brea is free on Sundays till 11am. Make sure to feed the meter after 11am because they will start to ticket.

Happy Treasure Hunting!

Juicing 101

Day 1 is always easy. You’re pumped and excited and have high ambitions. Your energy alone gets you through the day.

I was very excited to start the cleanse especially since I hadn’t been eating great lately all thanks to a junk food stocked kitchen at work. I usually make my regular green juice concoction that yields about 3 days worth of juice the night before to save time. You don’t want to keep fresh juice any longer than 3 days because it starts to lose its nutrients and browns to a poop color that isn’t so appetizing. Since, I’ve been juicing since January, I can eyeball amounts and know how much juice should yield from any given amount of fruits and veggies. I’ve found my preferred combination and have stuck to it for the most part since. I buy most of my veggies from Trader Joe’s because their organic produce is more affordable than Whole Foods. Sometimes, I’ll pick up specific items from the local Farmer’s Market. A new place that I just recently discovered is Sprouts Farmer’s Market, which sells locally grown produce in a traditional brick and mortar. Their produce is fresher than TJ’s because it isn’t doesn’t come prepackaged and cheaper than Whole Foods. I spend probably about $40-$50 in groceries a week with most of it being produce. And, I can usually get at least 15 meals out of that.

Izzie’s Green Machine Recipe

1 head of romaine

1 head of broccoli

2 cucumbers

6-8 cups of spinach, kale, collard greens

4-6 carrots

1 bell pepper

4 stalks celery

1-2 apples

1 orange

1 pear

Juice Ingredients

The beauty of juicing is that you can create your own perfect juice just to your liking. This is just my regular go to recipe because it’s got a nice variety of fruits and veggies but it also tastes good. I use a Jack Lalane Power Juicer, $100.00, that I inherited from my parents because they weren’t using it anymore. Though I have had my eye on the Breville 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite 1000-Watt Juice Extractor, $299.00 on Amazon. Juicing unfortunately takes a little bit of planning and effort, which is why most people see it as laborious and not worth their time. But, I’ve been able to knock it down to under 30 minutes which includes, set-up, washing, cutting, juicing and clean-up. And again, since I juice enough for 3 days I only have to do this twice a week. Completely worth the time and effort investment!

Jack Lalane Power Juicer

In addition to the juice I like to add an extra shot of greens by way of Amazing Grass Green Superfoods, All Natural Drink Powder, for added bonus. Amazing Grass Green Superfoods is blended to perfection in a delicious tasting powder that mixes well with juice, water or your favorite beverage. One serving gives you the antioxidant equivalent of 7 servings of fruits and vegetables and helps you hit your daily quota. This is totally optional. I just like the the wheatgrass and acai ingredients for extra antioxidants.

Amazing Grass Green Superfoods Drink Powder

After you finish juicing, make sure to store your juice in an airtight glass container. I use the Slom Bottle with stopper from IKEA, $3.99. You will need two for the amount of juice the above recipe yields. Perfect for keeping your juice from oxidizing too fast and stays green longer in an airtight glass bottle. Also, invest in a wine bottle/decanter brush to help wash away the veggies stains that will accumulate in the bottle. The brush should only set you back about $5. I’ve been meaning to get one but haven’t gotten around to buying one because I always forget when I’m at the store. I usually just rinse out the bottle with apple cider vinegar and sea salt. The stains are harmless. But, again doesn’t look too appetizing.

Slom Bottle with Stopper from Ikea, $3.99

And there you have it folks, juicing 101. It’s really not as difficult and time-consuming as it may seem. And the benefits are totally worth it. So, start today!

Finding Ryan Reynolds: Green Lantern Premiere

Since Ryan Reynolds is supposedly single again, sorry Charlize, I thought I’d take a moment to put a call out there to let him know that I’m looking for him;)

About a month ago, I had the chance to attend the Hollywood premiere of Green Lantern thanks to 8Asians.com. I had been highly anticipating this summer movie because I have a weak spot for comic book stories come to life. And not because I’m an avid reader of comic books but because I enjoy the shift from the mundane reality to the hyper-imagination of the superhero realm.  It reunites me with my childhood spirit of adventure and invincibility and I get to lose all grasp with reality for the 120 minutes duration of the film. Who am I kidding? The main  reason why I was sold on a movie about pink aliens in green tights who use willpower as their secret weapon to defend the Universe was well, Ryan Reynolds.

Black carpet premiere.

Now, to prove that I’m not just jumping on the RR and his larger-than-life-abs bandwagon, I’d like to state that my infatuation began way before the days of The Proposal, Van Wilder or X-Men. See, once upon a time when I was a burgeoning preteen, long before the word tween was even coined, there was a show on Nickelodeon called Fifteen. This was Nickelodeon’s first attempt at a teen soap opera and it would set the stage for a teen drama renaissance that would eventually require its own network. Reynolds played quiet, nice guy, baby of the show, Billy Simpson. I spent hours watching what I could only hope my soon-to-be teen years would be like. And being closest in age to Billy, I identified with him the most so it was only natural that I would go to bed wishing that I would be so lucky if Billy was my boyfriend.

Hello!

Flash forward to decade later and I was on the set of Van Wilder working as a college student extra on the UCLA campus. Little did I know, that this relatively unknown Ryan Reynolds character was the same Billy Simpson I had pined for 10 years earlier. We were formally re-introduced again in 2005 when Just Friends came out and I fell in love all over again. Who was this sweet, funny, charming guy who not only could woo the female population but the male world as well.  I’m sure he was voted “Best-All-Around” in a yearbook somewhere. With a little IMDB research, I quickly found out that this was the same guy that I had my first TV crush on. Ryan Reynolds was Billy Simpson from Fifteen!

As fate would dictate, almost another decade later, the stars aligned and I am the lucky recipient of Green Lantern premiere tickets. And I was going to be in the same movie theater as Billy Simpson, Ryan Reynolds, himself. I was beyond ecstatic. The goal for the night to get a photograph with the man of my 11-year-old dreams. Not sure if it was a kosher thing to do in a theater full of actors, producers, and other important entertainment people. But, who cares. No one was going to stand in the way of true love! Besides, I needed a new Christmas card to send out this year. I have a running gag of printing drugstore holiday photo cards with pictures that I have taken with famous people, Will Smith, Ashton Kutcher, Jason Schwartzman, and DMC. Ryan Reynolds would have been perfect for Christmas 2011.

Standing in front of the Black carpet.

So, I was a girl on a mission but because of typical LA traffic, we get to the Hollywood and Highland complex about 7:15pm when the screening was scheduled to start at 7pm. But, knowing that it’s LA and nothing starts on time, we weren’t too worried. Unfortunately, though since it was about to start we were ushered straight to will call alongside the black carpet and watched briefly as the photogs snapped away at arriving celebrities. I scanned the crowd posing for photos. Nope, no sign of Ryan anywhere. After picking up the tickets, we go through security check and pick up free concessions at the front along with our 3D glasses. We get shown our seats, which were pretty decent right smack in the middle of the theater. We sit only for a few minutes when a buzz starts moving across the theater. Ryan Reynolds was in the house. He was unassuming and quiet, no large entourage, no hot, eye-candy date hanging around his neck. Random people went up to him to shake hands and congratulate. Hmmm, but no picture-taking. I couldn’t tell if these people were fans or just industry folk. I sit for a few minutes, strategizing my game plan. Finally, I garner up the nerve to just walk up to him and hope that I don’t verbal vomit and got about 10 feet away when I got stopped by security who informed me the movie was about to start and that I should return to my seat. Noooo! So, close. I wanted to yell across the 10 feet that separated us, “Ryan! I loved you on Fifteen!” But, decided against it. I mean, I actually did want to see the movie and didn’t want to get kicked out. So, I returned to my seat and watched the movie in all its 3D glory knowing he was only 10 rows behind me and would laugh just a little bit louder to let him know that I thought he did a good job being funny. I was watching a movie with Ryan Reynolds! Well, sort of. He disappeared stealthily into the night, probably to the after-party, before the end credits even rolled.

See you in 10 years, Ryan!

Alien spaceship behind me.

Now, for the movie review.

I really wanted to like this movie so I could go back and rave about it and convince unsuspecting people to go see it like I did with Bridesmaids.

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil disguised as noisy, poorly written summer blockbusters shall escape my sight. As much as Ryan Reynolds could have been the saving grace in terms of eye candy and charming wit, which goes disappointingly untapped for most of the movie, there wasn’t much else going for the really bad film translation of an already hokey comic book story.

Guardians of the Universe are chosen based on something the “ring” sees in the potential bearer even if it’s unbeknownst to him or her, like fearlessness, or in the case of The Green Lantern’s Hal Jordan, the “ability to overcome fear” as pointed out by the lackluster love-interest Blake Lively’s character Carol Ferris, who, by the way, was far away from her home on the Upper East Side. Total miscast in my opinion and I totally love Gossip Girl.  The two felt more like a brother and sister pair and a boring one at that. Though there was one scene that finally showed some sign of personality when the Green Lantern flies onto her balcony and she recognizes that it’s actually Hal. Best scene of the entire movie which left me wanting more only to left disappointed.

The Guardian with the ring possesses the power to use will to manifest thoughts and ideas to fruition to help defend their sector from big, brown, bad-guy globs reminiscent of the sandstorm that embodies High Priest Imhotep in The Mummy. The part about using will as a weapon I found pretty cool as I tried to imagine what I would will up if I ever came face to face with a brown glob in a dark alley.  My will manifested less metallic violence and more about rainbows and unicorns as I utilize the kill-them-with-kindness logic=)

Poor Peter Sarsgaard plays the drown-trodden scientist Hector Hammond whose only motivation for turning evil is his envious desire to look more like Hal just so he could get the girl. Sorry, moral of the story folks, ugly people lose in the end was the takeaway that I got. Tim Robbins also made a cameo as Hector’s patronizing senator dad before being engulfed in flames manipulated by his own son. Angela Basset also runs around briefly as the alien probing scientist before getting thrown up against a glass window during Hector’s wrath.

All in all I felt like the Green Lantern reached to be Iron Man but failed miserably: the weak plot, choppy script, bland chemistry between the leads, and lack of the ‘ole Reynolds funny charm garners a one and a half thumbs down.

I give it half a thumbs up for some cool special effects and Reynolds perfect physique;)

Happy Birthday Mother Dear!

Happy Birthday to my Mom!  Another year, another marker in life.  Birthdays are usually existential reminders of our own realities.  Time has passed.  Why are we here?  What have we accomplished?  What’s the point to all of this?  But, after having gone through all that I’ve gone through in such a short period of time, all I care about is living in this moment, right now.  I am ecstatic that I am alive today and able to celebrate my mom’s birthday with cake and dinner and flowers and balloons as trivial as it might sound.  That’s all it is right now.  It’s me getting to celebrate, with my mom and family, just being alive.

This is Your Life. Live it.

Happy Birthday to my Dad!  It’s these celebratory moments that make me sentimental.  If there has been a lesson in all of this, it’s that our time on this planet in this life is time-stamped.  If you love someone, tell them.  If you want to do something, do it.  If you have fears, conquer them.  Life’s too short to live it half-lived.  Feel with every ounce of your soul.  Spend time with those who make you smile and laugh.  Experience all that there is to experience.  Fill your soul meter to the brim and when you look back you’ll be content that you lived the best life that you could have lived.

Alfred D Souza …
“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin.
But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”

Words of wisdom.  What are you waiting for?  This is your life.  Live it.