明けましておめでとうございます

Happy New Year! 2015 was a strangely neutral year for me, so I’m hoping that 2016 will be a little more exciting. (I mean, it probably will, since hopefully by the end of 2016 I will have graduated, have a job, and a new place to live !)

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Ringing in the New Year

I spent New Year’s Eve at a Berkeley friend’s party. Somehow, the year after all of my friends graduated and living apart ended up being the year we all attended this party together.

Despite being a house party, as the night went on the guests of the party became steadily more inebriated. At one point, no restrooms were available as all of them were occupied by people who were vomiting.

My NYE  didn’t get too crazy though, because New Year’s Day is a very important holiday in Japanese culture and I had to be bright-eyed and fresh for the morning. In particular, the New Year’s Day breakfast is especially important, and certain festive food items are served.

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close up of our family’s new year soup [ お雑煮 ] each family has their own special recipe for this mochi soup. This recipe is from my grandmother’s side. It has a kelp and bonito base. Contains fish cake, spinach, chicken, mitsuba (Japanese cilantro), shiitake, and yuzu zest
My mom prepared a beautiful feast for us. (Full disclosure, she ordered a lot of the oseschi [お節料理] from Nijiya Market in Little Tokyo.) A lot of the food items have very pun-y significance. For example, the word for seaweed pouches sounds similar to the word for “joy” or “happiness” in Japanese, so by eating these pouches you are supposed to have a joyful upcoming year. I think Asian people really like making puns when it comes to holiday food items.

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Later, we went to get “artisanal donuts” from Donut Friends in Highland Park. Basically, my New Year’s was spent eating.

…and now, after watching all of Rihanna’s music videos in succession, I am about to get Boba in the Boba Capital in the U.S.

 

 

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worst blogger ever

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My view on Christmas Day (Santa Monica)

I’m not doing a really great job of maintaining this blog thing, but I shall persevere and keep trying.

Currently, I am home in Los Angeles between semesters. I have one more semester left before I graduate! This is simultaneously scary and exciting.

I am told that keeping a journal is a very healthful habit. I am interested in maintaining my health, youth, etc. Thus, I will attempt to engage in more healthful habits this upcoming year.

2016 Resolutions

  1. Write on meowmeow.haus weekly
  2. Engage in physical exercise every other day
  3. Find employment (per my impending graduation)

 

 

hating vegetables and drinking them

I really, really dislike vegetables. Specifically dark, leafy greens. From a young age, I absolutely loathed dark leafy greens to the the point where my mother would keep me at the dinner table for hours unless I finished eating them. What I would then do was a) pretend to eat them and instead store them in  my mouth and b) conveniently have to go to the bathroom right after and c) spit out the greens into the trashcan in the bathroom.

My mother later discovered my scheme and I was henceforth banned from using the bathroom during dinner.

Many years have passed since then, but my attitude towards greens hasn’t improved much. I have come to begrudgingly accept the fact that green vegetables are a vital part of a nutritive diet.

I still hate the way they taste though, which is why lately I have been perfecting a green smoothie that masks the taste of the vegetables. For all my fellow veggie-haters out there, this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

  • 3 dino kale leaves
  • 1 cup of baby spinach (a large handful of spinach)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 apple
  • 3 ripe strawberries
  • 1/3 cup of mango or pineapple chunks (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of matcha green tea powder
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened milk of your choice (dairy, almond, soy, etc)
  • lemon juice to taste

Procedure

  1. Remove the center ribs from the kale leaves, and then roughly chop. Set aside.
  2. De-core the apple, then dice into big chunks. Roughly chop strawberries and banana.
  3. I use frozen mangos (it’s cheaper to buy frozen) but feel free to add a little bit of other fruit. Pineapple works well too.
  4. Depending on the size of your blender, place all the non-liquid ingredients (except for lemon juice) in your blender. My blender is on the smaller side, so I blend about half of the ingredients first, then add the other half.
  5. Pour in your milk into the blender. I sometimes use unsweetened kefir, which is a yogurt-like drink. It gives the smoothie a nice tanginess.
  6. Press blend and puree to your desired consistency! My blender is on the older side, so this takes a minute or so to get a nice smoothie.
  7. Check the taste, and if you desire some more tanginess, add a couple drops of lemon juice.

I like this recipe because despite having zero added sugars, the smoothie is sweet and appetizing! The matcha helps give me a mild caffeine kick, and this smoothie is basically a complete breakfast. Most of the time I drink it for breakfast by itself– it’s actually a lot of food! On this particular day, I added some chopped strawberries on top of the smoothie and drank it alongside some papaya.

Some days I make the smoothie vegan by using unsweetened soymilk in the place of kefir as the base liquid. What I like about this recipe is that it is very substitution friendly. Have no apples but pears? Use pears in the place of apple! Have no banana? Increase the amount of mangos to make up for the lost creaminess that the banana provides. Basically just add your favorite things ^_^ to make the recipe suit your taste.

back home with a new addition

He's a shy guy.
He’s a shy guy.

I’ve moved back to Los Angeles for the summer, but before I moved back, I acquired the beautiful rabbit pictured above. We haven’t named him yet (we didn’t like the name he came with). You’re not supposed to have pets in the co-op, so I broke the rules for 2 days. During those 2 days, I was packing up ALL of my stuff to move out, and bonding with my new rabbit. The previous owner included a little harness with his stuff, so I took him for a walk in Cloyne’s garden. He had a good time sniffing and exploring his surroundings, but I must say that a rabbit is naturally not inclined to “go for a walk”. It was mostly me standing with the rabbit occasionally hopping around, not so much of a walk where I lead the way.

soooo precious ^_^
soooo precious ^_^

On Tuesday, I finally packed up all of my stuff and drove back to LA with my friend Erik. Driving down from Berkeley to LA with a little bunny was quite an ordeal. He was scared the whole time and barely ate or drank anything for the duration of the drive. The good news though is he is now settling in at his new permanent home in LA. Unfortunately, the rabbit we already had at home, Mrs. Mubby, is not taking kindly to the new star of the show. We’ll be spending the next few weeks slowly introducing them to one another. She is quite territorial so this may take some time.

And speaking of adjusting to changes, I’m also adjusting to my summer life of living at home with my parents. For the most part, I think it’ll be really nice. I get access to great food, SoCal weather, and rabbits (!!!). Right now I’ve been relaxing, but my research job at Caltech starts in June, and so I’ll be plenty occupied when that begins.

Meanwhile, I’ve been living a life of slow, delicious mornings with matcha and fruits, lovely afternoons reading (with snuggle breaks with the rabbits!), and cooking things for my parents.

 

Last night I cooked dinner for my parents, at the request of my mother. My father is a vegetarian (who begrudgingly eats fish) so I did my usual thing– mostly vegetarian Japanese food, with a side dish containing fish. I would say the meal was a success– especially because I cooked all of my favorite things, so I have leftovers for the next few lunches ^_^

Starting from the top left, going clockwise: Salmon & Edamame Rice, Grilled Miso Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku), Spinach and Corn Eggdrop soup, Steamed Tofu, Sweet Potato with White Miso
Starting from the top left, going clockwise: Salmon & Edamame Rice, Grilled Miso Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku), Spinach and Corn Eggdrop soup, Steamed Tofu, Sweet Potato with White Miso

And as a final remark, you may notice the place setting contains a lot of food items. In traditional Japanese cuisine, each food item gets it’s own dish! I only served it this way because here at home I have another luxury I don’t normally have: a dishwasher!

sweet endings

So today marks my last day as an intern at a startup in San Francisco. And I’m not talking about a company like Uber or something that was once a startup but now is a full-fledged behemoth. I’m talking about less than seven employees, 14 hour work days, free catered lunches, unlimited access to snacks, launching a beta product, unlaunching a product…i.e. an actual startup.

Yeah, I actually lived the trope! Well, the 14 hour work days were only when we were in beta-launch so I’m dramatizing a little. But still, this was my first real work experience, and I think some final remarks are necessary.

Let’s start with today. To commemorate my last day at work, my bosses took me out to lunch, my choice of cuisine. When I asked for Japanese, my boss suggested The House— (which is actually Asian American fusion, but a place I’ve been wanting to try for a while). Normally we all eat the catered food in the office for lunch, but for once, on my last day, we stepped outside the office and experienced mid-day sun.

I had seen a few Instagram shots of the place as well as Yelp hype, but The House exceeded my expectation. I had one of their daily specials– Big Eye Tuna and Hamachi Sashimi, served with rice and roasted cauliflower. The fish was fresh and delicious, and everything was beautifully presented. The prices were quite reasonable for what it was too– not saying it was cheap (it wasn’t) but it was good value.

Oh, but the desserts.

My boss recommended their desserts, and I am not one to refuse sweets so I happily complied. We each got one dessert and shared.

From left to right: Chocolate truffle cake with coffee ice cream, mango tapioca pudding, and coconut creme brulee with passionfruit glaze.
From left to right: Chocolate truffle cake with coffee ice cream, mango tapioca pudding, and coconut creme brulee with passionfruit glaze. Sorry for the bad picture, I was so excited to eat it!

I ordered their coconut crème brûlée, partly because I absolutely love crème brûlée, but also because it came with a passionfruit puree !!! And passionfruit is one of my favorite fruits in desserts, like, ever.

I’m actually not a big fan of coconut and was relying on the passionfruit to make it yummy, but I was pleasantly surprised that the dessert wasn’t very coconut-y at all and instead mildly fragrant of coconut. But the passionfruit puree, which was more like a glaze, made the crème brûlée heavenly. The tanginess of the passionfruit and the creamyness of the custard was perfection.

A pretty sweet ending to my internship, if I say so myself hehehe.

I walk by this park every time I go to work. I was pleasantly surprised come spring that these little flowers bloomed.
I walk by this park every time I go to work. I was  surprised come spring that these little flowers bloomed.

My internship was a really informative experience. I’m not going to lie, sometimes the workload was intense, but ultimately I’m glad I went out of my comfort zone to do it. I come from a very academic family and neither of my parents have any experience outside of academia, so I’m glad I got to experience working in the industry.

I might even miss this view.
I might even miss this view.

The one thing that was really tiring, but also eye-opening was the commute. Commuting during rush hours from Berkeley to the San Francisco Financial District is not for the faint of heart. Door-to-door, my commute was a little over an hour of standing and walking. Sometimes trains going out from Embarcadero were so full I couldn’t even board them to get back home. But I feel ridiculous even complaining about my commute experience because I realized: working-age people do this everyday, and lots of people have even longer commutes.

I’m grateful I’m going home for the summer. The commute from my home to Caltech is a leisurely 15 minute walk.

(my friends are) graduating

Tomorrow (Monday) UC Berkeley students begin finals week. Since I am not in school this semester, this just means for me I get to laugh and jeer at the suffering of my friends while I lead a stress-free life: occasionally doing work for the start-up I intern at and taking pretty instagram photos.

But for most of my close friends, this is also their last semester as a student at Cal. Had I not taken the year off, I too would be a Spring 2015 graduate. It’s comforting to know that I still have time to figure out my life– but it brings that reality closer as my friends realize it is actually time to do the “what do I do after I graduate!???” In some senses though, it’s nice to know we are all freaking out about the same things.

I’m not too sad that I am graduating a year later; thankfully most of my close friends are staying in the Bay Area next year. Despite the fact that we are all going to still be around each other, there’s been a sense of urgent camaraderie that manifests itself in numerous brunches, bars and parties that we normally wouldn’t make time for.

I’m not complaining.

 

Most recently, as a pre-finals hurrah, we visited the immensely popular Bette’s Oceanview Diner. Despite having no view of the ocean, this Fourth Street staple had over an hour wait when we got there on this past Saturday morning. Undeterred by the promise of mouth-watering pancakes, we browsed the nearby milf-y/bougie/out-of-our-price-range stores (I also somehow lost my debit card in this interim). When we were finally seated, we requested some crayons and doodled and took Polaroids until our food came.

Bette's Ocean View Diner

I ordered and shared the Strawberry Souffle Pancake and Mexican Scramble. The pancake was light and fluffy and quite delicious. Erik and I were somewhat disappointed with the Mexican Scramble, that’s what we get for ordering a “Mexican Scramble” at a classic American diner. Be warned that their serving sizes are on the smaller side. I left satiated but not feeling full ( a good thing though, nutritionists say). The service was also rather slow, but I think this too was a good thing. What could have easily been a measly hour-long eat and go affair was transformed into a total morning experience. It’s hard to get stressed UC Berkeley students to hang out for long periods of time and I enjoyed being with everyone. We also stuck a bunch of custom stickers of our faces (don’t ask) onto various things on the table. We still have our antics after all 🙂

As far as graduations and the end-of-college goes, I’m feeling pretty good. What would have been a bittersweet time has been tempered by the fact that a)  everyone’s still going to be around and b) we’ve learned to make time for one another.

But come back to my in a year when I’m graduating. Maybe I’ll be a sobbing wreck when it’s actually time to go.

big sur

Pure California Coast baby
Pure California Coast baby

I know I must have left my thousands of readers concerned as to my whereabouts. In the past 5 months that I have not been active on my blog, I have been back home to Los Angeles, gone to Costa Rica, taken the Spring Semester off from school to work, and most recently took a weekday glamping* getaway with friends to Big Sur, California.

For those who aren’t familiar, Big Sur is a stunning stretch of central-California coast line, much of which is surrounded by/part of several state parks. Alongside the coast are many beautifully forested areas, including the Los Padres National Forest.

A picture of our trailer that we "glamped" in
A picture of our trailer that we “glamped” in

It was really nice to get away from Berkeley and seeing the “rugged and breathtaking coast of California” really puts things into perspective. I’ve been getting really stressed out about my future/my life lately, and seeing the raw natural beauty of this world was a good reminder that I just need to focus on the present.

 

So last week, we lived in this beautifully remodeled vintage trailer, which I found on Big Sur Getaway. Catherine, who runs her business with her husband Werner, were extremely hospitable and even gave us from fresh eggs from their chickens on the day we checked in. Catherine redecorates and revamps the trailers to make them cute Instagram-able sensations, and the small spaces are surprisingly liveable. The three of us lived comfortably in the trailer, cooked many meals in the fully functional kitchen, and even watched a chick flick every night in the flat-screen TV inside! I didn’t get too many shots of the interior of the trailer, but you can see Jesse’s dog, Bowie, lounging on one of the beds inside above.

It was also really nice going on a trip with friends (I still love you Winston!!). Western society puts so much focus on romantic relationships that when I told everyone I was going on a trip to Big Sur, everyone assumed that I was going on a trip with my boyfriend. Everyone needs a break from boys once in a while hehehe. The emphasis that we place on romantic relationships often mean friendship gets the backseat, which is weird since lovers come and go but friends are forever ❤ ❤ (cue cheesiness)


*glamping — glamorous camping; so not really camping at all. for #LAgurls like me who wanna see nature but don’t wanna live it.