Tag Archives: food

SDCC 2017

SDCC was last month, and despite not getting tickets in the first round, I did manage to get a ticket again this year! I debuted a new full cosplay and a new pseudo-cosplay, which was very fun.

Antonio, gem, and I drove down Wednesday after work and had Berkeley Pizza for dinner. It was a short night, because we didn’t get down there early.

Thursday was the first time I wore my Tamatoa (the crab from Moana) cosplay. It was way too hot for it, but I enjoyed wearing it.

We met up with Tram and her friend Christian, and we spent most of the day with them. Maybe they’re good luck, because we got into Hall H for the first time. For reference, usually people line up overnight to get into Hall H. We heard an announcement that Will Smith would be in Hall H, which I just found silly. So what? It’s too late now. Antonio pointed out that maybe they announced it because it wasn’t full. He was exactly right. We walked right into the Netflix panel about Bright and Death Note. Will Smith was on the first half of the panel for Bright, and the whole thing was moderated by Terry Crews. It was pretty cool to be in there with them!

After Hall H, it was time for the Lick King’s Ice Cream Citadel! We got some tasty ice cream and posed with the Lich King! By then I was tired of my Tamatoa costume, so I changed into normal clothes because it was so hot. We had Greek fusion for dinner at Meze, at which we ate the last two years as well.

On Friday I wore my Magikarp Jump cosplay. It wasn’t 100% authentic at all, but it was fun. gem had the idea to use Boomerang for the video. Nice suggestion! We met up with our friends Krista, Kaitlyn, and David. I always run into Krista and Kaitlyn at the coolest places!

This was a day mostly for panels. I saw Robin Hobb: Beyond the Page first followed by Dare to Be Dynamite: Creative Vision with Pierce Brown, an author that gem loves. In the evening we watched a Mega64 panel and the Super Geeked Up Improv show, which was fun, although I wish there was more improv.

My favorite panel was Superstars in Children’s Fiction with Greg Grunberg, Lucas Turnbloom, R. L. Stine, Jarrett J. Krosocka, Jenni Holm, Matt Holm, and Molly Ostertag. We went because we thought it would be fun to see R. L. Stine, but we had no idea that Greg Grunberg, Parkman from Heroes and Wexley from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would be there and is now a children’s fiction author. He was super nice! We chatted with him after the panel, and when I asked to take a photo of him and gem, his son (I think) offered to take one of the three of us.

My favorite part of the panel was when Greg asked R. L. Stine about the future of Goosebumps TV shows or films. R. L. Stine said he couldn’t comment. Greg told him that he’d trade him information about the next Star Wars movies. Too awesome.

gem wore her Woody costume, which was modified since last year. Previously she tried to keep it authenticate. This year it was more interpretive with a dress. I think she rocked it!

On Saturday, Antonio and I snuck in as professionals to skip the line. Yay. gem took some cool photos of me by the water in my Tamatoa costume.

I had to fight Maui of course. Why wasn’t he transforming? “Well, well, well. Little Maui’s having trouble with his look…”

There were a lot of great Moana cosplayers! Thanks to gem for taking so many wonderful photographs 🙂 There are more on my cosplay page.

We went to another tokidoki signing as always where Simone signed my tokidoki x Overwatch notebook. We also chatted with Jaycee, who worked for tokidoki. She remembered us from previous years, and we followed each other on Instagram.

Let’s not talk about waiting in line over an hour for a Star Trek panel but not getting inside. At least I got to chat with some cool people in line!

Kaleigh joined us that night, although we split up for a bit. gem and I hung out while Antonio met with her at the train station. We all met up briefly, but then that evening gem, Antonio, and I went to see the best brothers around, the McElroys! We watched My Brother, My Brother, and Me live in San Diego! It was really fun to see them in person. Too bad we didn’t get to talk to them. I had a question ready to ask, but there weren’t microphones on the balcony where we were sitting unfortunately.

On Sunday I wore a tried-and-true cosplay, Fix-it Felix Jr.! During a panel, I ran into Erin, a Vanelope von Schweetz cosplayer! We took some photos together after the panel. Her car was super amazing!

After chatting with her, we went to a Disneybound panel with Leslie Kay, Kit Leitmeyer, Loni Clark, Neil A. Williams II, and Sara Katz-Scher. It was pretty interesting to hear about how they come up with their outfits.

I ended the convention at the Disney group shoot! It was organized by Robert T Photography, who also took the photo above. You can see more of his photos from the event here on Facebook.

One videographer took video of us for the end of his cosplay music video. I’m in it briefly at the end as I dance around 4:51, but I’m right in front so you can see me clearly, haha!

 

Look how amazing this little Dopey cosplayer was! He seemed to have a great time with the other Disney cosplayers.

Antonio took this photo of me and gem in her Steven Universe cosplay! I think she did a great job with this. A lot of Steven Universe cosplayers carry a ukulele just as a prop, but this cosplayer can actually play it! Yeah!

There are plenty more photos of my Fix-it Felix Jr. cosplay here.

On our way out of San Diego, we stopped at Kafe Sobaka Restoran Pomegranate for Russian dinner. This is the khachapuri, which was filled with delicious cheese. Oh my god, I definitely need to eat this again. I also had chanakhi (lamb stew) as my entree.

And for dessert, I had sweet vatrushka with sour cherry and farmer’s cheese. Yum!

Until next year, SDCC!

European Vacation – Paris, France

After visiting Bruges, Belgium, we boarded a train to Kortrijk, Belgium as the first leg our day’s journey to Paris. Going to Paris was the motivation behind the whole trip – to visit our friends Jessica and Andrew in Paris. There transportation strikes happening in Belgium, but we checked in the morning and the trains were still running.

The train ride gave a little more time for some Papers, Please, but our luck ran out when we got to Kortrijk. By this time, the strike caught up with us, and trains were no longer running out of Kortrijk. And because we already used part of our tickets, we couldn’t get refunds. We ended up taking a taxi from Kortrijk, Belgium to Lille, France. Once in France, we took a train to Paris. We were late, but we got there!

I’m guessing we went to our AirBNB first, but I honestly don’t remember that. I just remember heading to Frame Brasserie where Jessica was waiting for us. Andrew was in the kitchen, preparing awesome food. For my friends who don’t know, the two of them used to live near me in California, but Andrew accepted a head chef position at Frame Brasserie, a restaurant in Paris inside the Pullman Paris Hotel.

Here’s Chef Andrew hard at work in the kitchen!

Here’s one of the dishes he prepared – foie gras on banana bread. I didn’t know those flavors would go well together, but it was amazing!

I don’t remember what each course was, but I know that I was impressed with all of it. So good!

After dinner, we went upstairs to a little balcony where we were able to watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower. It was pretty breathtaking. I wasn’t expecting to be as amazed at the Eiffel Tower as I was. It was beautiful.

Andrew gave us a little tour of the rooftop garden as well, including the chicken coop. The chickens were sleeping.

Jessica walked us back to our AirBNB, and we stopped to admire the Eiffel Tower more on the way.

Only gem and I were interested in Disneyland Park Paris, so we spent the day there.

We stopped for breakfast in Main Street, U.S.A. where I got a croque monsieur. (That’s not normally found on traditional Main Streets in the States, but I’ll forgive them. This little bird wanted some too and took a piece right out of my hand. Disney magic!

After eating, we went straight to Discoveryland, which is like Anaheim’s Tomorrowland. Instead of being purely futuristic, it’s themed after historical French figures’ visions of the future, making it retro and steampunk. It was awesome.

We rode Space Mountain Mission 2, Disneyland Paris’ Space Mountain, twice in a row. It had a great steampunk feel to it and was one of my favorite rides there. The wait was seriously just a few minutes. Yes, it was a weekday, but I don’t think we ever needed to wait longer than 15 minutes. I think the one-day, two-park ticket was only about $50 (US), which is nuts. I guess Disneyland Paris isn’t as popular as the original.

Next we went on a walk-through attraction called Les Mystères du Nautilus based on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Apparently there was a similar attraction in our Disneyland in the 1950’s.

After a submarine, it was time to hop in some cars for Autopia. I’m completely uninterested in the Anaheim Autopia but enjoyed the Paris Autopia!

When we heard that Buzz needed our help, we rushed to Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg!

gem even found a planet with her name in it – Gemkurnz!

After finishing with Discoveryland, we went to explore Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

I like this photo of gem and the castle despite the people in the background.

The castle had many stained glass windows. I prefer the one of Maleficent, one of my favorite Disney characters.

There’s a little balcony area on top that you can explore too!

It’s a Small World’s tribute to America started with the old west. I really enjoyed seeing this.

It also included the New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hollywood sign (among other things).

For lunch, we stopped at Cafe Hyperion. I believe this was the Dark Vador burger. I couldn’t resist it. That’s also how I learned that Darth Vader is Dark Vador in French.

After riding Pirates of the Caribbean, we rode Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril. Unlike its California counterpart, this is more of a traditional rollercoaster. It’s also the first Disney rollercoaster to feature an inversion! While I enjoy our more story-driven rollercoaster, this was an awesome ride!

Frozen had a little section in the park with a photo-op and some sort of performance. We didn’t stay for the performance, but we did get our photo taken before we had to rush to the second park, which we didn’t realize was closing soon.

Walt Disney Studios is Disneyland Paris’ second park, and it’s based on a movie studio.

There were a number of neat things to see in the park, especially walking through the Toy Story section that was built to a scale as if you were a toy.

The park had an excellent rollercoaster based on Finding Nemo – Crush’s Coaster. Two seats face one direction and two face the other direction, leading to awesome drops in which you’re falling backwards!

While we were inside Disneyland Park, we were wondering where the statue of Walt and Mickey was and just assumed they didn’t use it in Paris. We were wrong! It’s in Walt Disney Studios!

My notes also mention salsa, rock, and line dancing in Disney Village, which is like Paris’ Downtown Disney. I don’t remember that. Did we do it? Did we just see it?

I wanted to stop for a photo with the magic broom on the way out.

And we got one of gem as well!

Next it was back to Disneyland Park to talk to ticketing about our tickets. We had purchased tickets online in advance, which means we had printouts and not physical tickets. She was hoping for physical tickets as souvenirs. At first they said they couldn’t do it, but when gem got sad, the man got creative. He printed out one of each ticket variation and voided them before giving them to her. How nice of him!

Back inside Disneyland Park, I took a photo of gem with the greeter at Phantom Manor, which is their version of the Haunted Mansion. How spooky and cool! We actually went through Phantom Manor twice.

gem also had an encounter with Abu, who ran up to her and surprised her!

We did some shopping while in the park too. I picked up some gifts for people, but there was one gift that was just too big – a blue Buzz Lightyear figure. I have no idea why he was blue, but I wanted it for Henley. Eventually, I knew I had a solution. I purchased a big Disneyland Paris duffel bag and the toy. Now I could definitely bring it home!

We ended our Disney evening with a fireworks and light show. It seemed like a combination of Disneyland fireworks and a show like Fantasmic or World of Color. There were fireworks, but there were also plenty of lasers and projects. It was awesome!

When the park closed, we walked through Disney Village to the train, where we waited at least an hour or so for the train to leave. We were really packed in there. Then it was hard to find our way home because of construction causing street closures. We eventually found a McDonald’s with Wi-Fi that allowed us to contact Antonio and Anela. We had a key to get into the apartment, but we forgot the code to the front gate! I told Antonio what time I thought we’d be back, but we ended up taking much longer. This could have been problematic, because without Wi-Fi, my phone wouldn’t work. Luckily he happened to see my message way late – just when we got to the gate. Great timing 🙂

The next day we headed to the Eiffel Tower. The base was much bigger than I expected.

Here’s a shot looking up through the tower.

Unfortunately, we could only reach the second story that day because the rest was closed.

That didn’t stop us from enjoying the view anyways.

After we came back down from the Eiffel Tower, we met Anela, Andrew, and Jessica at the FRAME Truck where we purchased some tasty tacos. Jessica did a lot of planning for us so we could squeeze as much in as we can. Her help was invaluable!

gem looks quite thug. I don’t know what she was doing here, but it’s great.

They also brought us these delicious macarons!

After lunch, it was time to jump in front of the Eiffel Tower! Here’s Antonio, Anela, me, and gem.

And here’s Jessica, Anela, me, and Andrew. Andrew looks a little derpy.

Lots of people seem to lounge near the Eiffel Tower.

Either Jessica or Andrew took this photo of the four of us.

Here’s all six of us in front of the Eiffel Tower!

What do you do after appreciating the Eiffel Tower? Explore some creepy catacombs, of course. We played some Heads Up on our phones and variations of charades while waiting in line, but then it was time to enter.

The descent! Jessica looks too happy.

gem looks scary in the catacombs.

Jessica, don’t be mean! Don’t worry; she didn’t touch.

Lots and lots of bones.

After emerging once more, Andrew took us to She’s Cake. They use She’s cakes at Frame Brasserie.

We split a few different delicious desserts.

After eating, we visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris at Montmarte, which was beautiful.

Even the drinking fountains are beautiful in Paris!

When it was time for dinner, we stopped at Le Consulat.

We shared an order of escargot, which tasted very similar to typical shellfish. I enjoyed it a lot!

I did, however, have to figure out how to eat it.

After dinner, we walked past the Moulin Rouge.

We finished our day with a visit to L’arc de Triomphe.

The next day, we visited the Eiffel Tower so we could climb all the way.

It was a foggy day, but I had fun.

Here I am enjoying that view, but I felt I needed a closer look.

That’s much better!

Just look at that amazing view! Okay, the view was nothing but fog, but it was still cool.

I forget if it was this day or the previous Eiffel Tower visit, but we talked to some of the soldiers at the base. Side note, it’s still very weird to me to see soldiers with huge guns just walking around. Anyways, we asked for Anela to get a photo with them. Their reaction was strange. Some seemed to say no, some to say yes, and one walked away. After a moment, I realized what was happening. They were smoking when they weren’t allowed to be smoking. Some of them put out their cigarettes and one just walked out of view of the camera. We got our photo!

We went to a market to get some lunch. This pastry was super good.

We also sampled some pink cheese. That doesn’t look like my hand though. Whose hand is that? Anela’s? Oh well.

I managed to purchase cherries in French! It was terrible French I’m sure, but a bit of Rosetta Stone helped. Here’s our haul that we ate in Jessica and Andrew’s apartment. Not shown was the McDonald’s that we bought as well, including the Le Croque McDo. How French! Man, I’m getting hungry.

Just look at this pastry! We stopped at Le Moulin de la Croix Nivert for tarte aux pommes et Paris Brest, two amazing desserts.

With full stomachs, we visited Notre-Dame.

Next we quickly saw the Fontaine Saint Michel.

By that time, we definitely some crepes, so we stopped at Creperie de Arts.

The best part of Creperie de Arts? Le chat! This cat was just chilling.

We also stopped at Amoroso Gelato because apparently we just can’t eat enough.

Of course we visited the Louvre, but we were unable to go inside. Due to the flooding happening in Paris at the time, they were moving all the works to higher floors in case the water got into the Louvre.

That didn’t stop us from having fun and goofing around!

Look at these two lovebirds. <3

Here’s a closer shot of the building.

Speaking of the flood, here’s a look at the water. You might not be able to tell just how much water there is from this photo.

I wouldn’t want to go sit on one of those benches.

Those are cars. The Seine rose so much, cars parked along the river were now under water.

May gem present to you… the Statue of Liberty!

Here’s a shot she took of me in front of it too!

According to the journal I kept, which was just a list of things we did, we also visited L’arc de triomphe du Carrousel, but I can’t find any photos of it. I can’t believe I wouldn’t take photos, so maybe I just got them mixed up. Oops.

Edit: I did just get them mixed up! I added a photo 🙂

For dinner, we went to Frame Brasserie a second time. On this visit, Andrew ate with us rather than being in the kitchen. He had his staff keep bringing us additional dishes until we were full. Amazing. As I’d expect, everything was so good. Here’s a collage of everything we managed to eat. Keep in mind there were six of us please :0

Look, FRAME has a foosball table! I don’t know who won, but I know we had fun – probably because gem and I were both terrible.

Sadly, this is where we said our goodbyes to Jessica and Andrew.

Before heading to our apartment for the final time, we walked around the Centre Georges Pompidou, which was near where we were staying.

It looks like it’s inside-out! It’s definitely an interesting piece of architecture.

While we didn’t go inside, we were able to appreciate it from here.

I’ll end this post with a final shot of the Eiffel Tower. The next morning we left our little apartment and traveled to the airport to fly to Rome. Thanks so much to Jessica and Andrew for spending time with us, showing us around Paris, sharing delicious food, and everything else. I wish I could see you regularly, but Paris is just a bit too far to visit for a weekend!

European Vacation – Amsterdam

We left Ireland in the morning with our egg sandwiches courtesy of gem and flew to the Netherlands four our single night in Amsterdam. There were flight delays due to closures in Amsterdam, but we made it eventually. We also met a woman named Stevie on the train, also from the States. It was fun getting a chance to talk to her!

Here I am playing live action Papers, Please. At least that’s how I saw it.

We didn’t have much planned in Amsterdam, so we wandered around a little and took in some tourist shops.

When it was lunch time, we stopped at McDonald’s. As a reminder, Anela wanted to try McDonald’s in every country.

Chicken nuggets are weird in the Netherlands. Just kidding, that’s obviously not a chicken nugget, but I don’t really remember what it was.

Antonio fell in love with stroopwafels back in Ireland, so we had to stop for some at this outdoor market.

Now I’m really craving stroopwafels. I could go get some from Trader Joe’s, but they’re just not the same unfortunately.

After really enjoying our canal cruise in Copenhagen, we decided to take Blue Boat Company’s Amsterdam Canal Cruise. Honestly, it was a let down. Unlike the one in Copenhagen, this cruise used an audio guide rather than live tour guide. The boat also had a roof, which made photographing less fulfilling.

Despite the tour being less than stellar, the canals were very beautiful. How cool would it be to live along these canals?

If I’m remembering correctly, you can’t anchor new houseboats, which makes the demand for the ones that are already there much higher.

I don’t have anything in particular to say about this building, but I liked it!

Next we took Sandeman’s New Amsterdam walking tour, Red Light District Exposed, with our tour guide, Lisa. As you can conclude from the name, it was a tour of the Red Light District. One of the first things we saw was this condom shop, the Condomerie. Part of the reason it exists was to make using condoms more acceptable.

While not technically part of the tour, we did pass this delicious looking dessert shop!

Here’s an interesting little plaque on the ground. Also you can see a bit of Anela and gem in the corner!

It was fairly interesting learning the history of the Red Light District. It seems like it’s still a bit of a political issue, and not everyone agrees with its existence. As most people know, the red lights in the windows indicate that the woman is a prostitute. We also learned that a blue light indicates that the woman is trans. The rooms are connected to each other on the inside and can’t lock from the inside. This keeps people from entering, locking the woman inside with them, and getting out of hand. We also learned that the city tried to get male prostitutes as well. When they put advertisements out for male prostitutes, no one was interested. When they asked for men to have sex for money, then they got people interested. Apparently “prostitute” has a feminine connotation. Anyways, it didn’t work out. Men couldn’t go repeatedly and had trouble performing with women to whom they weren’t attracted. Pretty interesting, really. The tour took us throughout the area and gave us some interesting history before ending near a location called Theatre Casa Rosso. Apparently the owner of that establishment owns a large number of the shows, has a lot of money, and uses that money in politics to keep the laws and zoning in his favor.

After Indonesian food for dinner, we headed back to our hostel. When we were looking for a ride back, a found both a taxi and a rickshaw at the same time. The taxi driver seemed to get mad at us for considering the rickshaw and even talking to the driver (rider?). He actually started yelling things like “f— you you f—ing idiots! I’ll let you ride for half price! F— you!” Yeah, no thanks. You can give us the ride for free, but I’d prefer the man not cussing at me. We went with the rickshaw, got our ride to our hostel, and got ready for bed so we’d be ready to continue on our journey to Belgium the next day!

Europe Vacation 2016 – Denmark

Back in May, I traveled to Europe with gem, Anela, and Antonio for a vacation starting with Denmark. Clearly I took my sweet time organizing photos and writing blog entries. The catalyst was wanting to visit our friends in Paris. When gem found a cheap flight to Copenhagen, we began to plan in earnest. Most of the tickets were purchased by the time I was laid off from Toshiba. Weird timing, but the vacation was great anyways.

We left LAX on May 20 and arrived in Copenhagen on the 21st. Using Uber was interesting since Antonio had data but none of us had voice calling, but we made it okay. The most noticeable aspect of Copenhagen was that it was incredibly bicycle-friendly.

We explored the city a bit, including this greenhouse with cool stairs and two levels.

We decided to try McDonald’s everywhere we went. I don’t remember specifics about McDonald’s in Denmark, but the quality certainly seemed higher.

We took a canal tour that was excellent. It was a great way to quickly get a feel for the city.

I don’t have much to say about this photo besides the fact that I like it.

Tortus Copenhagen is a pottery studio that Anela knew from Instagram. Unfortunately, they closed by the time we got there and wouldn’t be open again until after we left the country. Anela left a note for them, and they later followed her on Instagram!

After a lot more walking, we walked through a very beautiful park.

gem had fun impersonating statues and admiring the hedges. She has a thing for hedges.

Perhaps Anela was waiting for people to get out of the way so she could do a jumping photo. I can’t say for sure, but we did take jumping photos here.

That night we discovered something strange about Copenhagen. It stayed light pretty much all day. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it would get dark around midnight and get light again around 3 or 4. In fact, that was a problem most of our vacation. We’d lose track of time based on the sunlight!

The next day was actually day of a big race. We saw some of the runners and stopped here for some coffee. I wasn’t a big coffee drinker at home, but I learned to appreciate it much more while in Europe. Unfortunately, coffee is a lot worse in the US.

It was half race, half street entertainment, and all excitement.

Here’s a view from a bridge over one of the canals in the city.

Next we visited the Church of Our Savior, which has a tall spire with a spiral staircase that narrows as it climbs. Anela, not liking heights, did not join us. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was actually mentioned in Journey to the Center of the Earth, which I had previously read.

gem looks really happy here!

At the highest point were many stickers and writing that people left. Antonio signed one of the stickers here.

Anela waited down below, but I still got a photo of her.

The inside of the church was also pretty with a number of cool statues.

Next we visited Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania. It’s an autonomous or anarchist community in Copenhagen. It seemed pretty interesting, and you can read more about it on Wikipedia.

It had a lot of beautiful art inside and near it such as this on the side of a cargo container.

This blacksmith in Christiania holds a metal sign she made that I purchased as a gift for some friends of mine. I’ve seen them a few times since returning to the States, and every time I’ve failed to give it to them. I’m going to their house on New Year’s Eve, so I better look for it.

Funny story. At an airport later in my trip, there seemed to be a problem with one of our pieces of luggage. Eventually the security person pointed to my bag and asked whose it was. I said it was mine. He points to his monitor showing the x-ray’ed contents of my bag.

“This is yours?” he asked. There on the screen, 100% legible, are the words “NAKED DANCE.”

“Yeah.”

“Naked dance. You.” It was a question, but he said it more as an indignant statement.

“Yeah.” Not that I commonly partake in naked dancing (although when I’m alone in my room, who’s to say), but yes, it was mine.

He then starts laughing before saying “okay” and allowing my bag to continue.

We visited Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen. Do you know what a pleasure garden is? I didn’t until I looked up Tivoli Gardens on Wikipedia. It’s a garden open to the public for entertainment. Anyways, Tivoli is the oldest operating amusement park in the world. Sorry Tivoli, but you don’t hold a candle to Disneyland. Still a fun day though!

Here’s one of the streets through Tivoli lined with shops.

gem even got to play the xylophone!

After Tivoli, we did more exploring. gem wanted to join this sculpture.

I liked the Gefion Fountain featuring the Norse goddess, Gefion.

gem and Anela posed after we got done looking at the fountain.

gem thought that “cafe emma” could use a ‘g’ to make it “cafe gemma.”

One of the last things we did before dinner that night was visit The Little Mermaid, a famous sculpture that’s known to represent Copenhagen. It’s been vandalized multiple times and even beheaded. Some people are so disrespectful.

We went to Brasserie Degas for dinner because of their amazing desserts. However, when we got there we found that it was a nicer (and more expensive) restaurant than we were expecting. We got a number of desserts and shared them but decided to eat dinner somewhere else. The waiter seemed less than thrilled.

We ended up getting pizza and pasta next door. This was the first time on the trip that we noticed people getting really quiet when they heard us discuss Trump. You could feel the tension disappear when they realized we were not in support of him.

We ended our last night in Copenhagen by embarrassing ourselves a little. We joked that we should avoid walking past Brasserie Degas when we finished eating so that the waiter wouldn’t see that we simply went next door for dinner. When we walked out of the restaurant, we immediately turned the opposite way of Brasserie Degas to begin walking back to our AirBNB. Fool proof plan except for the fact that the waiter had just left and was walking to his car. He definitely saw us! Not that it matters of course. It’s our vacation, and we’ll eat where we want!

Thus ended the first country on our vacation! Copenhagen was beautiful and a bustling urban center. It was a great start to our vacation.

San Diego Comic-Con 2016

Luke Triton

SDCC 2016 was a blast! I cosplayed as Luke Triton from Professor Layton for the first time while gem cosplayed Professor Layton herself. I also did a quick cosplay of a Team Valor Pokemon trainer as well as my Fix-It Felix, Jr. cosplay from last year. I saw a number of panels, met a lot of cool cosplayers, got some free books, partied, and did a whole lot more. I was also very exhausted 🙂

Luke Triton

I was really happy with my Luke cosplay. gem and I stopped by the Capcom booth and took a photo with this picture of Phoenix Wright. There was a crossover Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright game, so we thought it was appropriate. I was hoping to run into a Phoenix Wright cosplayer, but it never happened.

Layton and Luke

Here’s a promotional picture of Layton and Luke if you’re unfamiliar with them.

We stopped by the Behemoth booth like we do every year. One guy running the booth, Larry, recognized us from last year when gem asked if Hatty was going to be in attendance! He remembered that gem wrote a note and gave it to him to give to Hatty in 2015. He was awesome!

We went to a number of interesting panels starting with “Retellings and Remixes” with Marissa Meyer, Renee Ahdieh, Colleen Houck, Anna Todd, Jodi Meadows, and Colleen Oakes. gem’s a big fan of Marissa Meyer. Although I hadn’t read her works, they sounded interesting, and she was a great speaker. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work in the future. The panel focused on retelling fairy tales and classic novels in a reimagined way.

“Nedist TV: The Boundary-Pushers” featured Bryan Fuller, Michael Green, Steven Moffat, and Alicia Lutes discussing the new acceptance of genre TV with a focus on American Gods and Sherlock. They also went into tangents about accepting all kinds of peoples it definitely went anti-Trump at times.

“A World After Harry: The Changing Genre of YA Fantasy” featured Sarah J. Maas, Jessica Cluess, Gena Showalter, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Soman Chainani, and Tobie Easton discussing how young adult fiction has changed after Harry Potter. It was interesting to hear how authors set themselves apart from J.K. Rowling.

In “Creating Immersive Game Story,” Chris Avellone, Leah Hoyer, and Elbert Perez discussed game narrative, going into how to really engage players well.

J. Jonah Jameson

My favorite panel was “Cosplay as Storytelling” in which Adam Savage, Jay Justice, and Deborah Nadolman Landis discussed cosplay and how it’s a form of storytelling. Adam went into how cosplaying isn’t just wearing a costume, but it’s a type of performance. I definitely know what he means. Look at this awesome J. Jonah Jameson I met. He’s not just in a costume. He’s performing; he’s telling a story. And he’s great!

The last panel I attended was the “Spotlight on Marissa Meyer,” which was interesting. Unfortunately we were a bit late due to an autograph session, but it was still fun.

tokidoki autographed photo

Did you hear about the new tokidoki x Peter Anargirou collaboration? I printed one of my photos and took it to Simone Legno’s autograph session. It’s fascinating how great artists and creative people of all types and collaborate, and I love collaborating with people in small ways. Having him draw on one of my photos was a cool way to collaborate with him, and since gem’s in the photo, she got to be in on it as well! Now it looks like gem is photographing the cute Kaiju!

I also got a copy of Heartless autographed by Marissa Meyer as well as Red Rising autographed by Pierce Brown. I came out of the con with a few other few other free books as well – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, and Bombs Away: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove. I wasn’t a fan of the last book by Turtledove, but I’ll give this one a try.

Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Party

The three of us attended the Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Party at the House of Blues, meeting two new friends and running into an old friend, Pat, as well. It was a ton of fun – a lot more than I expected. It was sponsored by Totino’s, so we got to eat some greasy snacks, but we also took shots and I had a few White Russians. I took a photo with a cool Sonic the Hedgehog cosplayer, we got some swag, and I talked a lot. There were games to be played there too, but I didn’t touch them honestly. At the end of the night, the staff recorded the audience yelling “Sega” to be used as the intro for the next Sonic game. After the party we went back to the hotel for more drinks. There was live music at the bar, and I did a little Balboa swing dancing. It turns out that I’m a decent dancer (to a drunk crowd of SDCC attendees).

Pushkin

gem and I met our friend Mike for dinner at Pushkin Russian Restaurant. It was so delicious! I hadn’t seen Mike since New Year’s Eve, so it was good to see him. Afterward we checked out the Nerd HQ party, but it wasn’t that good honestly.

Pokemon Go

There was a Pokemon Go panel in Hall H, the largest hall at the convention. Previously, you’d need to line up over night to get into Hall H. This year, you could line up for wristbands, given out at 9:00 PM. We checked out the line around 8:30 PM, and it was huge. Absolutely huge. And then we found out from the guy working there and watching the line that the night before the line was that long, but he didn’t know if they got wristbands. He got off work at 1:00 AM, and the wristbands hadn’t reached that far back. Yeah, we decided to skip Hall H. However, there were rumors that Niantic would release something for Pokemon Go in the panel, so a ton of Pokemon Go fans congregated around Hall H or above it. Convention staff started yelling at people to leave. I’d like to add that they never once tried talking like normal, civil people, and they also made up lies to get us to leave. Not cool. What was cool was when people realized that if they line up for the Mrs. Field’s Cookies stand, they were no longer just loitering. Yep, that line pictures above was for cookies – totally not Pokemon Go. And by the way, nothing was released in the panel.

Pokestop

Pokemon Go was extremely popular. Here Professor Layton checks for Pokemon since there’re lures on the Pokestops near her.

Nintendo Lounge

This guy working in the Nintendo Lounge loved gem’s Ariel and asked for a photo with her. Look happy they look! This guy was awesome.

Nintendo Lounge pokeball

Here I’m in my quick Team Valor Pokemon trainer cosplay with a giant pokeball.

Nintendo Lounge pikachu

When meeting pikachu, you need to give him a big hug so that he knows you’re his friend.

Nintendo Lounge pikachu

Once he’s been lulled into a false sense of security, you bust out a pokeball and catch him!

Star Trek

Star Trek was also very popular this year as it’s the 50th anniversary. MAC had a building designed to look like the saucer portion of the Enterprise while they showed off their Star Trek makeup. I didn’t care about the makeup, but we took the opportunity to stand on transporters as Layton and Luke! Plus, Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on Star Trek, was there.

Joker and Harley Quinn

I asked these two cosplayers if I could take their photo because I thought they had great costumes. The Harley Quinn cosplayer noted that most people don’t even ask and said they’d be happy to pose.

Joker, Harley, Layton, and Luke

Professor Layton and the Curious Clowns

Actually, the Joker cosplayer recognized gem’s cosplay and asked us for a photo! How cool 🙂

Fix it Felix Jr. and Boo

Here’s a shot of me in my Fix-It Felix, Jr. cosplay along with a Boo cosplay from Monster’s, Inc. How cute is that cosplay?

Akuma

This Akuma cosplay is great too. The cosplayer was nice enough to find a good spot to take the photos. gem noted that you could sense his personality and mannerisms change as he got into character just like Adam Savage said cosplay often does.

Xena and Gabrielle

Last but certainly not least, this is Bernadette Bentley and Cathy Kutz as Xena and Gabrielle respectively. It was awesome to run into them and take their photo because I was already a fan. They were really nice!

My 30th birthday (over a month ago)

birthday

My birthday was really amazing this year. I wasn’t feeling so happy with things around that time, but the day was so perfect and I felt so loved that it lifted my spirits immensely. I couldn’t have imagined a better day.

my birthday, henley

My plans were in the afternoon, leaving my morning free. It just so happened that Henley was playing at a park in Irvine with Alex and Darnell that morning, so things worked out perfectly. I met them at the park and had a great time. Henley was so excited to see me and is absolutely adorable. I played with him for a while, and when Darnell said I had to leave, he threw a little bit of a fit. He also wished me a happy birthday and even sang. <3

my birthday

In the afternoon, I headed to gem’s where gem, Anela, Edward, Antonio, and Kaleigh celebrated with me. And by celebrate, I mostly mean eat!

I think a collage tells the food story better than individual photographs. Let’s go clockwise. On the top-left is a strawberry shortcake mochi. Yep, that’s a piece of strawberry shortcake wrapped inside mochi. Delicious! Everything in the top-right was brought by Anela as well. Two kinds of cookies and two different kinds of pastries! Below that one is mango-jalapeño salsa I made and some pastries Antonio and Kaleigh brought from Porto’s that were delicious. Below that one is fondue! gem was the mastermind there, but she enlisted the help of some others too. We ate it with a variety of things, but I’m using a slice of apple in the photo. The bottom-right is a bacon-wrapped hot dog. The bottom-left corner shows three big desserts. gem bought the two pies – cherry and apple, and Antonio and Kaleigh brought the great tres leches cake. Lastly, the photo above that was taken before we realized the grill wasn’t working. I moved the hot dogs into the oven.

my 30th birthday

Look how beautiful that dessert plate is! gem even supplied some homemade ice cream. How many calories is on this plate alone? I don’t want to know.

smm

After eating, we played some games. gem had been raving about Spyfall, so we tried that. It’s a party game in which everybody gets a card with a location listed (such as “Sesame Street” or “Pink Paradise Stripper Bar,” both locations used when we played) except one player gets one that just says “spy.” Players take turns asking each other questions related to the location, forcing the spy to have to try to answer without actually knowing the location. It was a lot of fun! We also all made a level together in Super Mario Maker – Peter’s 30th Birthday Bash. I wrote about it on Polygons and Pixels, and you can find it by using ID BBD9-0000-01E1-1F90.

It was great to kick off my 30’s with close friends and a ton of desserts – my favorite things. Really, I’m just glad to be surrounded by so many loving, wonderful people. Thanks for making me feel special and being so special yourselves!

The OC Fair and other weekend fun

oc fair 2014

On Sunday I went to the OC Fair and saw lots of cool stuff. Of course, first thing’s first. I had to eat. I had some tasty bacon-wrapped mushrooms with Gouda to start my day and then wandered into the butterfly enclosure.

oc fair 2014

I had a butterfly mustache!

oc fair 2014

After putting some nectar on my nose, I got the butterfly to land there. Honestly, something about it freaked me out and I just wanted it get off.

oc fair 2014

I didn’t mind one being on my head though.

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I also checked out the farming area. The Brussels sprouts looked and smelled to tasty! I love them.

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This sign taught me how to wash my hands. Good thing it was there. I always thought I was supposed to rinse with soap, not water.

oc fair 2014

gem’s family called me White Leghorn (not to me though). I had to get a picture with the sign.

oc fair 2014

Then I rode my trusty steed away!

I checked out the visual arts next, which is usually one of my favorite parts. It must be pretty cool to have something shown there I’d think. I looked at the photographs, paintings, crafts, woodworking, and place settings. I’m not surprised that I like most of those, but it does seem a little strange that the place settings are interesting to me.

In the middle of looking at these competitions, I stopped for more food! I had fried zucchini topped with nacho cheese, jalapeños, and bacon! It was okay, but I wish the portions were much smaller. I also tried fried avocado dipped in ranch. That was pretty tasty actually!

oc fair 2014

The rabbits were adorable of course. This little guy was munching with his paws in his bowl, so I mimicked him.

After the animals, it was time to look at the collections. I looked at everything and read the descriptions as well. On my way out, the man who worked there stopped me to comment on how I looked at everything and suggested that I enter next year. We talked about collections for a few minutes. He collects martini glasses!

On my way out of the fair, I saw more animals. Lots of animals. I couldn’t leave without going in the petting zoo. One pig looked pregnant – but no, just fat.

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Unrelated to the fair, my odometer hit 33,333. That was kind of interesting.

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And then I had pizza for dinner! (Don’t say it, Anela.)

Apple cinnamon raisin Amish Friendship Bread

Apple cinnamon raisin Amish Friendship Bread

Recently, gem gave me a starter kit for Amish Friendship Bread. It’s a bag filled with some goop along with instructions that basically boil down to “mash the bag most days, add some stuff on day 6, and add more and bake on day 10.” On day 10, however, you add some ingredients, mix, create four new starter kits, and then finish preparing your bread. In this way, you keep passing it forward.

Beach day and stand-up paddle boarding

She also included a slice of her bread – blueberry bread! It was delicious.

Apple cinnamon raisin Amish Friendship Bread

Here I had everything I needed sitting on the table while I prepared the bread.

Apple cinnamon raisin Amish Friendship Bread

I decided to make apple cinnamon raisin bread. You can see the raisins pretty clearly, and the light colored chunks were diced apple.

Apple cinnamon raisin Amish Friendship Bread

I almost forgot to take a picture before it went in the oven.

Apple cinnamon raisin Amish Friendship Bread

An hour later, I had what certainly looked like bread.

Apple cinnamon raisin Amish Friendship Bread

I was anxious to try some because it was getting late, I was very hungry, and I had more things to do that night.

Apple cinnamon raisin Amish Friendship Bread

Because I was going out of town the next day, I needed to deliver the starter kits to my friends even though it was almost midnight.

I brought a starter to kit and slice of my bread to Anela first. She was nice enough to not mind me disturbing her so late. Next I drove to my mom’s. They were sleeping, so I left it hanging on their door. One kit went back to gem. My last kit I dropped off the next day at lunch at Purple Yoga for Sean, an instructor there!

Apple cinnamon raisin Amish Friendship Bread

Nom, nom nom.

It was super tasty!

Pork chops for dinner

Pork chops

Delicious. Pork chops, potato, and Brussels sprout. The pork chops were super cheap too. I usually stick with beef because I don’t have to worry about undercooking it, but this worked wonderfully.

Baked banana with chocolate peanut butter candies

You can’t forget dessert. I put milk chocolate peanut butter bears (essentially peanut butter cups) in the sliced banana before baking it. I had some Albertsons butter pecan ice cream with it too.

Sandwich, sandwich

Sandwich

You see that?

Sandwich

That’s a delicious sandwich.

Sandwich

Also known as dinner.

Chicken breast. Sharp cheddar. Lettuce. Tomato. Avocado. Spicy mustard. Wheat bread.

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I even came up with a theme song for it. It goes like this. “Sandwich, sandwich,” sung to the tune of the song about Angel. You know, the one that goes like this – “Angel, Angel.” She’s a good dog.

John Dies at the End Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes

John Dies at the End Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes

Before I do anything else, maybe I should explain the title of this post. John Dies at the End is a great comedic horror novel written by David Wong, a pseudonym for Jason Pargin. It got more attention when it became a movie, although the general public probably isn’t aware of it. You should be though, because it’s really fun. (And really, the novel is so much better. Go read it!)

On October 14, the John Dies at the End Facebook page linked to this recipe for Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes inspired by the book/movie. In the novel, there’s a street drug that’s called Soy Sauce because it’s black like soy sauce. It kills most people who come into contact with it, but it also gives some “lucky” individuals the ability to see things that most can only see out of the corners of their eyes – shadow men, monsters, etc.

The recipe does actually use a bit of soy sauce, but I suspect the tiny amount was really just an excuse to tie the cupcakes to John Dies at the End. That’s okay with me.

John Dies at the End Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes

Sorry for the terrible iPhone photography. I’d never really baked besides ruining some pies with a friend back in high school, so I decided to take a try at it. There’s chocolate on top of the cupcake, but you can’t really see it under the delicious raspberry sauce. They turned out really well. They weren’t necessarily amazing, but I was very happy with them, and they were fun to make.

John Dies at the End Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes

This also reminded me that the sequel, This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don’t Touch It, was released slightly over a year ago. Why had I never read it if I loved the original so much? I don’t know, so I bought it and read it. I prefer the first, but the second was great as well. I hope we see a film adaptation of this as well as more novels in the future.

Cookie swap!

Hurst Cookies

When I got home today, I saw a package sitting on the couch. Packages always make me excited so I went and looked at the label. It was to Duncan. Always Duncan. As I let out a loud groan, I saw the second package. This one was for us! We got cookies in the mail from Darnell and Alex! We sent them cookies near Christmas, so they decided to swap. They were super delicious.

The box was packed completely full with two types of cookies, and both looked out of the ordinary. The first I thought were biscotti, and the second were triangles specked with colors. What could they be? Well there was a card that told me!

The biscotti was actually chocolate chip bars, and the triangles weren’t just triangles; they were cranberry pistachio triangles! Yes, you read that right. Cranberry. Pistachio. Triangles. And oh boy, were they both delicious. I expected the chocolate chip bars to be crunchy, but they were soft, chewy, and amazing. The cranberry pistachio triangles were flavorful and delicious. I’m so excited to have this box of cookies!

The irony? Darnell and Alex congratulated me in the card on my weight loss. You know, that’s the same card that came with box stuffed full of cookies. Don’t worry. I have self control!

Day 5 – Surfing and Luau

surfing in hawaii

Monday was our fifth day here, and we started with a surfing lesson. We went with WB Surfing, and our instructors were great. They were a lot of fun and taught us well. I was surprised that we only practiced for five to ten minutes on land before going into the water. My form was far from perfect, but I actually did it! gem took a little longer, but she did it too! Unfortunately, there weren’t any pictures of her surfing that came out well.

surfing in hawaii

We didn’t have cash to pay for our photos (because it was unexpected), so we followed them in the rain to the bank. We were all wet, but I guess that’s just a way of life here. We had lunch at Macky’s Shrimp Truck before going to the Dole Plantation. I got gem a pearl, and we got lost in the huge maze.

Then we headed to the Paradise Cove Luau! Everyone, staff and customers, was very friendly. We posed with some exotic birds, threw spears, and watched some hula. Dinner was tasty – fried chicken, salmon, pork, a variety of salads, and some tasty desserts. We ate a ton. Whoops. But it was a night.