Thanksgiving weekend

TommyThis might not have been a Thanksgiving spent in Hawaii, but it was still nice and fairly packed full of action. I spent most of Wednesday evening attempting to create pumpkin pie blondies. While I’ll still eat them, I’d say they didn’t work out. Oh well! Thanksgiving morning I woke up at 4 to get an early start and to drive Anela to LAX. On the way home, I stopped by my dad’s to say hello and then headed home for a nap. In the afternoon, I went to my aunt’s in Redondo Beach for Thanksgiving. That’s her dog, Tommy, at the top. Tommy

He was pretty freakin’ adorable. I spent the evening with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. It’s been great getting to know my cousins as young adults. Usually my mom, stepdad, and sometimes brother come too, but this year they didn’t come. I found out that Mom and Pete were painting the house this weekend instead. Oh well. We had a delicious meal, watching Jurassic World and Shark Tank, and played Bananagrams, Rummikub, and Triominos. My cousin Haley left fairly late in the evening to do Black Friday shopping. I didn’t even realize that stores were open at midnight. It seemed crazy to me. More on this very soon…

Ferris WheelI left a little after 11 for Irvine. After getting home, I met with gem. For Black Friday from midnight to 8 AM, Spectrum was going to have free carousel and Ferris wheel rides. Now that I knew stores were open at midnight, it made much more sense. Carousel

We started with the carousel ride, which was right next to a live DJ. Fun!

Ferris WheelNext up was the Ferris wheel. It was freezing, but it was fun! There was free ice skating as well, but we decided it was too cold for that. We went to Macy’s to look for a bathroom, and next thing I knew, we were shopping. I had to send a Snapchat to Haley. Just a few hours earlier, I thought Black Friday shopping at night was silly, yet here I was, 3 in the morning, sucked into stores. I didn’t buy anything though. Selah Laughing

After a short night of sleep, I went with gem to her parents’ for a large Thanksgiving meal. Here’s gem’s niece, Selah, laughing. She’s beautiful! I’d seen photos of her, but this was my first time meeting her. How lucky I was!

Selah Eats Ice CreamSelah liked gem’s homemade ice cream. Was that the Earl Grey or the apple pie? No idea. Selah Eats Ice Cream

She got a little on her face! :)

Selah SelfieShe likes playing with phones and seemed to like the camera. We took this selfie! I was careful to ensure she didn’t call 911. She did that recently at their house. Selah

Here’s Selah playing with gem’s ukulele. She hit it like a drum, but when she held it up to smash it down, gem took it away. She’s so adorable!

Musical FamilyI played two games of chess with gem’s nephew, Caleb. He kicked my butt. gem and her brothers had a family jam session too! I thought that was really cool. South Coast Plaza

After that? Black Friday shopping again somehow. There’s nothing I really want in particular, and nothing jumped out at me, but it was still fun.

Vegan ChiliOn Saturday, I visited my mom, Pete, and James. I had offered to help paint the house, but they actually had finished. We played Scrabble and ate chili. Yum! Mrs. Cronk We also came across some old school photos. Can you find me? This is from kindergarten. Mrs. Thorness And this one is from first grade. Later Saturday night I read some of Aeneid, finished Iphigenia at Aulis, and watched Big Hero 6. Exciting evening! Original Pancake House

Sunday morning I awoke early to pick up Anela from LAX. I actually drove over 350 miles this weekend, which is impressive considering I didn’t actually go out of town. On the way home, we stopped at Original Pancake House for breakfast! We had blueberry pancakes and Swedish pancakes. Tasty tasty.

Pumpkin pie blondies (with dark chocolate)

In the evening, I finished the weekend by eating leftovers and watching Frozen with gem. We also had these treats! I baked pumpkin pie blondies recently. They tasted decent though they were too strong and too soft and mushy. I considered them failures. gem thought to cover them in dark chocolate. It was a nice improvement; they were much tastier!

Blacklight Run and Ooey Gooey Berry Pie

Blacklight Run

This weekend I went to a Blacklight Run with gem and Anela! It was totally fun; we got covered in paint, glow powder, glow sticks, and good vibes! This is what we looked like at the end of the night.

Blacklight Run

We jogged a bit, but mostly we walked and talked while enjoying the party. Periodically there were stations where staff members would throw more glow powder on participants. Blacklight Run Of course, you can also grab handfuls of the powder and throw it yourself!

Blacklight Run

I got fairly covered.

Blacklight Run

At the end of the run was a big, glowing party with a DJ and tons of glow powder and glow sticks!

Blacklight Run

It was fun!

Blacklight Run

This guy was pretty sweet.

Blacklight Run

Anela looks like a neon flower child. I love this.

Blacklight Run

I think you have a little something on your face.

Blacklight Run

Watch out, gem!

I have no idea who these two women are. Nope.

Blacklight Run

Despite not being super close the party, the cars still got covered in glow powder.

Blacklight Run

These were taken the next day in the light.

Ooey Gooey Berry Pie

When we were done with the Blacklight Run afterparty, we headed to my place to watch a movie and eat. I dropped gem off at her place to shower and then picked up tacos from Del Taco. The guy at the drive through said something like “what the…?” when we pulled up. We were still pretty glowy. We took the tacos back to my house, and once we all showered and gem was with us again, we popped a pizza in the oven too. gem brought two homemade ice creams, a cookie from New York, and a tasty new kind mashed potato creation. Anela’s bar results came out this weekend, so I had baked her a pie – either to eat in celebration or in which to drown her sorrows. Luckily it was the former, because she passed on her first try! Ooey Gooey Berry Pie

She said she preferred “ooey gooey berry” pies, so that’s what I tried to bake.

Ooey Gooey Berry Pie

Here’s Anela with her celebratory pie. It turned out delicious, and everyone enjoyed it. Hooray! Congratulations, Anela!

It was an awesome night with full bellies and happy memories. Thanks to gem and Anela for making it so epic!

Dinner at The Playground for Edward’s birthday

The Playground

Last night I had dinner at The Playground in Santa Ana to celebrate Edward’s birthday. I’d heard great things about the restaurant, so I was pretty excited. I’ve been trying to save money, and I also heard it was expensive, so I was hoping it’d be worth it. But how could I say no to birthday meal with one of my closest friends?

The Playground

Jan Enters The Arena With A Steam Bun Challenge 8 to be a judge / 4ea tried & true. pork belly steam bun, forever unchanged.

Everything’s meant to be shared, and you can order in waves. The first thing we tried as the “Jan Enters The Arena With A Steam Bun Challenge 8 to be a judge / 4ea tried & true. pork belly steam bun, forever unchanged.” Yep, that’s the whole. I feel like it’s worth including the full detail from the menu here. The Playground has a menu that changes daily, but the pork belly steam bun is a staple that’s permanent. Jan, one of the chefs, wants to change it up. You can order the original or you can pay more to be a judge – you get one original and one of Jan’s new ones, but you have to provide feedback. We got two orders of judege orders and shared so we could all try it. The classic has guacamole and radish (so not exactly what you’d normally expect anyways) whie the new one Vietnamese-inspired with spicy… something… I can’t remember or tell from the picture now… and cilantro. I can think of a few close friends who wouldn’t like that, but all four of us agreed – Jan’s new dish wins! It was delicious!

The Playground

Grilled & Chilled Wagyu Picanha Salad, Butter Lettuce, Yuzu & Seka Hills Olive Oil Dressing, Compressed Persimmons, Blood Orange, Cilantro, Radish

Next up was this salad. What are these words I don’t know? Wagyu are a variety of cattle breeds, including Kobe, known for high quality beef. Obviously. And picanha is a popular Brazilian beef cut. Honestly, the salad was one of the my least favorite items on the menu, but that’s mostly because of how awesome other things were.

The Playground

Brussels Sprouts Caesar, Jalapeño Dressing, Cotija, Tortilla, Cornbread Crumble, Radish

Holy crap. I think this was the best thing I tasted all night. Can I figure out how to make this? Maybe? It was amazing. I’m going to try to reverse-engineer this.

The Playground

Pan Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Goat Cheese Cream, Fried Acorn Squash, Hazelnuts, Dried Cranberry, Crispy Sage

This was pretty tasty, but it paled in comparison to the amazing Brussels sprouts.

The Playground

Maple Glazed Pork Chop

The pork chop came out next. Just look at that thing! They recommend you only order it if you have four people. gem carved it up for us, and man, was it good. That maple glaze was dripping with deliciousness, and I was sure to swirl each bite around in the glaze left at the bottom of the plate.

The Playground

Brunette Downs Grass Fed Braised Beef Cheek, Brown Butter Toasted Farro, Kabocha Squash Puree, Shaved Apple, Pecan, Rocket, Jus

I didn’t realize how amazing beef cheek was. The beef just fell apart in my mouth and practically dissolved. Poor Edward was getting full at this point, but I devoured it.

The Playground

Passion Fruit & Guava Sorbet

Honestly? Kind of meh. But it worked well as a palate cleanser between dishes.

The Playground

Hazelnut Cake, Orange Blossom Tea, Toasted Coconut, Pineapple Ice Cream

This was the dessert I really wanted, and I’m glad we ordered it. It was tasty, but it wasn’t the dessert winner in my opinion. That honor went to…

The Playground

Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding

…the toffee pudding! Amazing. Can I cover it in Brussels sprouts and stuff it with pork chop and beef cheek? No, that wouldn’t be a good idea? I guess that’s why I’m not a chef.

This might have been one of the best meals I’ve ever had. In addition, the service was great, and the staff was very friendly. So, maybe I didn’t a great job saving money and not eating out, but it was certainly an awesome meal.

The Playground with Carrie

As an added bonus, here’s a photo of me and Carrie! You’d think there’d be one of me and Edward since it was his birthday. There is actually, but it wasn’t on my phone, so Carrie wins. Thanks for the fun meal everyone!

Me and Edward

Edit: Carrie gave me this great photo of Edward and me!

Sushi class


Sushi is awesome. That’s obvious. But it’s also really fun to make! gem took me to a sushi class recently where we learned about sushi and how to prepare it. The class took place right in the restaurant, and we were the only two there. Behind the sushi chef, there were other diners enjoying their sushi. It was pretty cool. The chef explained that in the US, the main differences between one’s sushi versus another’s is the sushi rice, prepared with vinegar, sugar, and salt. He added that in Japan, the fish is normally seasoned so that you might prefer one establishment’s fish over another. I’m sure I can’t do the lesson justice, but he talked about all sorts of interesting things.


We prepared three rolls. Shown at the top is my California roll and shrimp tempura roll. The second picture is my tiger roll – a California roll topped with shrimp and avocado.


Here’s gem’s California and shrimp tempura rolls. Her presentation was cute than mine!


She did not enjoy taking this photo. It was too cold. But it was super fun too!

Henley’s second birthday party

Henley's second birthday party

This weekend was Henley’s second birthday party! He’s getting so big!

Henley's second birthday party

It was at Tortilla Jo’s in Downtown Disney. I was very full by the end! It was great catching up with Alex, Darnell, Gracie, Jon, Daniel, and Mike. Mike even gave me lots of useful vacation information!

Henley's second birthday party

Henley seemed to like his cupcake from Hapa Cupcakes. He has a much better understanding of desserts than he did last year.

Henley's second birthday party

Grandpa got him a matching shirt.

IMG_359Henley's second birthday party0

Dad seemed to like opening gifts as much as Henley did.

Henley's second birthday party

I bought Henley this Disney train with mat, and he seemed to have a lot of fun with it. Watching him made my heart melt.

Here’s a short video of the day. If I have a child have as awesome as Henley, I’ll be a lucky man.

Wakeboarding on 9/12/15


In September, gem, Anela, and I went wakeboarding with my parents and brother. I was a bit slow posting photos from it, but I wanted to make sure to get these online.


The ukulele survived the trip unharmed!


Here’s my mom with Anela and gem.


Pete looks pretty happy with his boat here! This might be our last wakeboarding trip, because he wants to get rid of the boat. Maybe he won’t manage to sell it, and we’ll get to go out again. It’s already November, and it’s best to sell it when it’s still the best season to go out on the boat. I don’t mean to root against him selling it or anything…


gem took a few photos of Anela at the back of the boat while Pete worked on the engine.


Shes pretty much looking right at Pete here, so I’m sure he said something hilarious – typical Pete.

Here’s our rescue team! First there was the Rescue Anela, but then Rescue gem joined her!

We were all in varying states of injury, so there was actually much less wakeboarding than usual, and slower wakeboarding at that.

Here’s some evidence that there was indeed some wakeboarding at least. – Anela wakeboarding.

And here’s me wakeboarding. I tried touching the water a few times. Less than graceful, but so what? I don’t think it’s in the video, but they wanted me to switch hands turn around while wakeboarding. It didn’t go so well, but I still had a great time wakeboarding that day!

wakeboarding picture frame

After we finished wakeboarding, we headed to Michael’s (after a brief detour to a pet store). I like this photo quite a bit. We ended the evening with both Eiswelt Gelato and Yogurtland and then some Super Mario Maker. It might have taken me a month and a half to post about it, but it was a fantastic day.

Chilled raspberry soup

Chilled raspberry soup

After reading about my friend Jessica’s vacation and food adventures, I learned that raspberry soup existed! I was intrigued, and I made it last night. It was super tasty!

Chilled raspberry soup

I might fiddle with the ratio of ingredients in the future, but I was pretty pleased. It’s raspberries, yogurt, sugar, and a little bit of wine. Pretty simple. A lot of people seem to strain out the raspberry seeds, but I like them, so I left them in the soup. It was a nice dessert soup!

Hatha for Hunger

Hatha for Hunger 2015

Saturday night was Hatha for Hunger, a Halloween gala hosted through Purple Yoga to raise money for hungry children. It was held at the Long Beach Museum of Art and kicked off with two yoga classes – an outdoor sunset vinyasa flow and an indoor gentle flow.

Hatha for Hunger 2015

I chose the outdoor class and had my mat near the front so I could easily see the ocean. It was quite beautiful and hosted by two of my favorite instructors, Alex and Sean, as well as Scott, who I didn’t know.

Hatha for Hunger 2015

Here’s the view at the end. It was one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve even taken.

Hatha for Hunger 2015

I took the easy path and wore my Aquabats costume. I didn’t put together a new costume, and this seemed like the easiest costume in which to do yoga. gem went as a mermaid!

Hatha for Hunger 2015, me as an Aquabat and Alex

Here’s a photo of me and Alex after the class.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Sean as caveman and me as Aquabat

Sean didn’t club too many people during class.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Sean and gem

Here’s a great photo of Sean and gem. I’m glad I got one in which you can actually see gem’s costume.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Sterling and Megan

Here I am with Sterling the wrestler and Megan as a… okay, I think I can remember it all… mermaid, butterfly, unicorn… and Flavor Flav if you consider her clock purse (not shown).

Oh, and I wore the socks my grandmother gave me a few months ago because she confused me for someone else and thought I loved crazy socks. One has burgers and the other has fries. I think it goes well with the Aquabats costume.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Kel, Jai, gem, me, aquabat

I squeezed into the frame with gem, Jai, and Kel for this great photo.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, JT as Forrest Gump and me as Aquabat

Last but not least, I danced with Forrest Gump (JT). Such an awesome costume!

It was a super fun evening. Besides yoga and taking photos, there was also some wine and champagne, great music, and lots of socializing. DJ Dory was there, playing music for the outdoor flow and the party afterwards. I also made some new friends, talking about yoga, working out, music, dancing, and more. Yay for new friends! I’m thankful to everyone who helped make it what it was, including staff and attendees alike!

(But sorry to my other friends at Rita’s party that I didn’t see, heh. I was too sleepy.)

Happy Back to the Future Day!

It’s Back to the Future Day! Today’s the day in the “future” that the heroes of Back to the Future visit in the second movie. At 4:29 PM today the time machine should appear in California!

Check out the cool video posted by the Back to the Future Trilogy Facebook page!

I would have included photos from the Spectacles performance, Improv to the Future, but apparently I didn’t take any. What?! I wrote about it though.

Cirque du Soleil’s inspiring and breathtaking Kurios

KuriosCirque du Soleil was in town this weekend, and there was no way I’d miss it. I went with gem Friday night to watch Kurios under the Grand Chapiteau!


Everything I read indicated that this was one of the best Cirque du Soleil presentations to date. It really was fantastic, but it’s hard to conclude any sort of “winner” when every Cirque show is amazing.

KuriosI really had to resist purchasing goggles and a hat. They would have integrated with an Aquabats costume in a fun way!


The show had a steampunk aesthetic and was filled with lots of typical performances, great music, and some more novel performances.

I particularly enjoy the scenes that involve some extreme showcase of the human body with which I have some personal familiarity in a minor way. For example, the aerial bike scene that involved a woman riding a bike that was attached to a cable. She rode it around the stage before riding it through the air, and then performed a trapeze-like act on it. It reminded me of aerial hoops, and while I’ve never done that, I know people who have. The contortionists were another example. The back bends they did were so amazing. When I do back bends, they don’t look like theirs!

One act, the invisible circus, has one perform showcasing a variety of “acts” involving invisible performers and animals. It’s all about his reaction and some prop movements. I particularly enjoyed the invisible lion, mostly because it’s an interesting consideration of animals in the circus.

Of the more atypical acts, there was a chair balancing act that had an inverted version happening concurrently from the ceiling with a performer stacking chairs downward. At first, I thought it was a projection, but nope, it was happening! There was also a performer in another act using his hands like puppets to act out scenes. This was filmed and projected above on a floating balloon that was really cool.

Kurios was an excellent show that was truly inspiring. I just wish I had another Cirque du Soleil show approaching to anticipate! Whatever comes next, I know I’ll love it too.