Back to Reality

I fought the urge to go to Urth Caffe this morning and settled on a more appropriate 85 Degree Bakery in Old Town Pasadena, and enjoyed a cup of coffee with a small cranberry and cream cheese bread for breakfast today.

I saved about $20 compared to the mea culpa breakfast I had the other day. And that’s with additional goodies I picked up for my husband and my daughter!

I know this is hardly newsworthy but I just had to share my excitement with the world, or the 7 kind people that actually read my blog!

Breakfast Mea Culpa


I had a total, “oh crap,” mea culpa moment the other morning at Urth Caffe.  Just take a look at the receipt and please weep with (or for) me.  I just spent a whopping $26 on breakfast. Twenty six dollars! Seriously, who spends that much on breakfast FOR ONE, right?  I’m convinced that an Alien came down and temporarily took over my body when I was making my order.

Well, an Alien or not, the mistake was made.  And while the Nicoise Salad with smoked salmon nestled in lightly dressed bib lettuce was satisfying, it wasn’t worth as nearly as much in my opinion and I’m still regretting that I splurged so much on something I thought was mediocre, at best.


As I was walking away from the cash register feeling defeated, and with a significantly lighter wallet, I told myself that I will not be returning to Urth Caffe for a while.  I still love this place but it was time for me to reevaluate my spending.  As I was saying this to myself, a barista brought over my Moroccan Tea Latte with this foam art …


OMG, this is unreal. This has to be the cutest foam art I’ve ever seen. I’m convinced that Urth has some sort of technology where it detects customers that’s thinking about parting and lure them back with this cute-as-a-button puppy drink.

Darn you, Urth, darn youuuuuu!

Yes, I will be back next week.

I Heart Pasadena


It may have topped the America’s Snobbiest City list, but Pasadena is still a gem of a place, filled with some of my favorite things, like Urth Caffe and its beautiful latte art. I think this Twitter logo-like bird is my favorite art to date.


And how about the Oxtail Chili Cheese Fries from Bachi Burger?  Just pour a glass of wine and order this and you got yourself an amazing dinner.


Oh, and these mouth-watering spreads from Le Pain Quotidien. My favorites are Noir (Belgian dark chocolate) and Blondie (white chocolate).


And of course, Color Me Mine.

All these establishments are a chain and you can find them in other, less “snooty” areas, but it’s nice to know that I can find all my favorite places in one corner of this quaint little Old Town.

Birthday Fun: Color Me Mine


My BFF Maya and her family came down to LA from PDX for my birthday weekend. I got to spend two solid days with her while Kevin kindly watched Pon Pon (thank you, honey). She took me on a 2.5-hour massage on my birthday at rA Organic Spa in Downtown Burbank (ask for Anne — she was amazing), followed by my husband treating us to cozy dinner at Café Bizou in Pasadena, the same place we had our wedding rehearsal dinner. I’m incredibly blessed to spend the special day with those I truly love.


The highlight of the weekend was painting at Color Me Mine in Pasadena. I know I was not turning10, but this place brings out my inner child and makes me so, so happy. Unfortunately, I can’t really find people who’s willing to come and paint pottery with me these days so I’m glad Maya was game! We grabbed a cup of coffee and tea at 85 Degree Bakery across the street and spent three hours painting a bowl, colander, aka “bowl with holes,” according to Maya’s husband (for Maya), and two mug cups (for me).


So may lovely colors to choose from!


It took me about a hour to plan how I wanted my mugs to look like! I initially wanted to create a chevron design using masking tapes but after several failed attempts, I decided to just paint it solid (with color 84) and add tiny polka dots using white puffy paint.  The cup looks grainy and light blue but it should turn into shiny and light lavender after it’s blazed.


After I finished the first one, I couldn’t get myself to go through the entire process again so I just used the puffyy paints and created rainbow-colored polka dots.  I might have gone a little overload with the dots!

I can’t wait until the mugs are done this weekend!

Udated on 1/13/15: The mugs are done! We went to pick them up over the weekend and I’m delighted with how they came out. I’m already using them during my daily tea break!

color me mine finished

Safe Haven for Parents: Pita Jungle

Blue Corn Nacho that my husband and I shared for appetizer

A kid-friendly restaurant for newbie parents is like an Embassy for someone who’s lost a passport while traveling in a foreign country. You rarely pay attention to it (or don’t even notice its existence before), but you’re so thankful that it’s there when you’re in a pickle.

I want to give a shout out to Pita Jungle in Pasadena for being so kind to us rookie parents. Kevin and I went to Old Town Pasadena few weekends ago, and went into this Mediterranean restaurant for lunch – since other restaurants looked either too small or a bit too bourgeois for this stroller-pushing parents. They were happy to set up a table for two and a half where the stroller could fit perfectly, without blocking the aisle or disturbing other patrons. I never noticed it before but the place was filled with kids and strollers. It’s great to have a place like this, especially for a paranoid mom like me.

And paranoid I am. redface

Wood-Fire Chicken for him

Up until a year ago, I was a proud member of the “I don’t want babies around me” club. I was one of those people born missing a baby-loving gene, with dislikes for baby showers, baby’s birthday parties, and anything involving little critters running around with drool dripping down from the side of their tiny mouth. I would get annoyed sitting next to screaming babies at restaurants, especially if I was paying good money for a meal. evil  I avoided them as much as I can, like how people avoid the sun, and if there was a lotion that would block the little munchkins from entering my personal space, I would have smothered it all over my body, head to toe.

Now that the table has turned, I’m super paranoid when I take Pon Pon out to restaurants, almost to a point of fear. I know that there are many, many card-carrying members still roaming around the city and I’m afraid that they’re going to come attacking me from behind the bar counter with their designer bags if Pon Pon uttered even a single sound! I know that the public is generally very forgiving (God bless them) and many don’t mind that a baby is sitting next to them, but I’m still very sensitive because I remember how I used to be.

Wood-Fired Salmon Salad for me

I’m sure I’ll get over the fear sooner or later and will be braving into any restaurants with the baby and her diaper bag in tow, but until then, you can find me in Pita Jungle, with the members of the new club – parents.

Carb, Veggie, Carb Veggie …


Carb, veggie, carb, veggie … that’s been my eating routine lately. Well, it’s more like 80% carb and 20% vegetable, to be more precise. I don’t crave protein much (I can totally go without meat, fish, and eggs for weeks) but I cannot not live without my carb and vegetables. I don’t crave rice but I go crazy if I don’t have some sort of bread at least once a day. I also have intense cravings for uncooked carrots and I have to eat those little pre-washed snack carrot sticks regularly. The not-so-good part about it is that I need to dip those little carotene-packed sticks in dollops and dollops of Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise! I hope the goodness from the carrots offset the badness of the mayo.

I had a wonderful brunch with Shannon this week at our old stomping ground of Old Town Pasadena. We stopped for a quick bite at Le Pain Quotidian before heading over for some wedding dress shopping fun for my soon-to-be married pal. I felt a little bad for ordering the bread basket, knowing that she’s been working out really hard to get into her tip top shape for the big day (and she looks fabulous!) but this pregnant belly needed some good old carb immediately! And I killed Blondie, a white chocolate spread, by single-handedly polishing off the entire jar! redface


And here’s my salad for the morning – Chicken Cobb Salad (with no bacon and cheese).


After finding the perfect dress, Shannon, her friend Marci, and I headed back to Old Town for a celebratory toast at Pita Jungle. My carb craving kicked back up so we shared an extra order of pita bread with hummus and tzatziki to start (with extra cucumber slices), and I had my usual Grilled Vegetable Salad to satisfy my veggie addiction.


I’ve completely lost the will to cook at home. And I mean completely!  I don’t even want to go grocery shopping. I don’t mind driving over to Subway to pick up my usual Veggie Delight sandwich almost daily, but I dread standing in the kitchen to prepare a meal.  It’s not that I feel sick … it’s just that everything else looks more appetizing. I wasn’t sure if this phenomenon was normal but I was surprised (and somewhat relieved) to see that many pregnant woman experience this, even if they loved to cook in the past!

Okay, I’m off to eating the leftover pizza from last night … Oh, and this is my favorite commercial at the moment.

Old-Fashioned Fun: Parkway Grill


Kevin and I spent Saturday evening with friends Joe and Deb at Parkway Grill in Pasadena. They are also expecting a little one next year, and Deb and my due dates are coincidentally only a few weeks apart! This is the second baby for the lovely couple, and we received many wonderful advices — some hilarious and some a bit scary lol — from the veteran parents over great good and (virgin for the moms-to-be) drinks.

Our wonderful evening became even more fabulous because the food at Parkway Grill was just perfect. This Pasadena landmark reminded me of a fancy restaurant my father used to take the us family on his company holiday party.  We were one of the youngest people in the restaurants, and the place had the real, old-fashioned steakhouse feel that I adore.

We shared an order of Tiger Shrimp Corndog to start, which were very creative in its naming but really no different than a regular tempura shrimp … but Thai-inspired sauce was delicious.


I really wanted to lick the bowl to get the last bit of the lobster bisque!


Here’s my main dish – truffle infused chicken with vegetables. This was one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever had.


Kevin ordered a New York steak.

I have to admit that I used to hate mommy talks before I became pregnant. Some people are natural baby lovers, even if they weren’t a mom themselves … and I was definitely NOT one of them!  I just didn’t get all the fun behind talking about a state-of-the-art baby stroller, breast feeding, stretch marks, and swollen feet. I think I lost touch with lots of party-girls-turned-moms-to-be over the years because we no longer had anything in common, which, now looking back, was such an unfortunate thing. I wish I stayed more open minded, interested, and supportive, during the most exciting time of their lives.

Now that I’m pregnant, I am incredibly thankful for mothers who listen to my rookie concerns and offer sound advice, and especially for all the non-parents who tolerate my enthusiasm over burp cloths and swaddle blankets!

I am so blessed to have so many wonderful friends in my life.

Welcome to Pasadena: Tender Greens

I’m delighted to find that so many of my favorite eateries are opening up their second and third (or seventh!) store in the Pasadena area! Musha, a Japanese izakaya, recently opened in Old Town (I no longer need to drive to Santa Monica or Torrance for yummy Japanese tapas); vegan extraordinaire Real Food Daily opened on Del Mar; and famous Urth Caffé is scheduled to open in the Pasadena Playhouse District in 2013.

Another establishment to make Pasadena its new home is Tender Greens, an amazing salad place that serves quality salad, as well as hot food off the grill. I really enjoyed going to the Culver City location, so it’s a treat that this lovely place is now closer to my house.

My last visit was more than two months ago, but I thought I’ll share the photos here!

It’s no surprise that I order the same old Backyard Steak salad. I can’t help it – it’s so delicious!

This is Kevin’s Chipotle Barbeque Chicken salad. I’m going to try to venture out to other offerings next time … if I can stay away from the steak salad. I’m a total creature of habit!

Tender Greens
621 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101

Thai Food and Fireworks

What’s so wonderful about having a fourth of July fall on a Wednesday is that you have two blissful days that feel very much like a Friday. On a flip side, the worst part about celebrating a holiday in the middle of the week is that you have, well, two Mondays. You can pretty much determine whether you’re an eternal optimist or a glass-half-empty pessimist simply by the way you viewed this week. Would anyone care to take a wild guess as to which one I am?lol

Our family usually celebrates the nation’s birthday at our parent’s house in the Valley. It’s a tradition that my father mends the grill while my mother makes some wonderful side dishes … while my sister and I, and our beaus, nibble on appetizers over a glass or two of wine. This year, however, we decided to postpone the annual BBQ a few weeks because my sister was away on business and none of us wanted to be in a food coma, knowing that we have to return to work the following day.

Kevin and I invited Shannon and Raf over for dinner at home but instead, they invited us for Thai dinner at their favorite restaurant in Pasadena — and even treated us to this wonderful dinner! We enjoyed a glass of wine at their home before heading over to President Thai for an early dinner at 6:00 p.m.

I was surprised to see that the place was lively, even at this time of the evening, with patrons who, like us, decided to skip the traditional BBQ dinner. We sat in the outside patio, near the waterfall. The outside was breezy and perfect and although we were seated toward the back, the service staff was very attentive.

The food was superb – easily one of the best Thai foods I’ve had in many years. We started out with an order of Fried Tofu, hich were crisp and flavorful, and not at all greasy.

We ordered my favorite Thai dish, Yum Woon Sen, or glass noodle with shrimp, ground chicken, onion, and cilantro. Many places put too much fish sauce in the dressing and make it way too pungent, but this one was just right!

Pad Thai was loaded with meat and vegetable. I don’t usually order Pad Thai so it was a pleasant change to my usual Thai repertoire.  Very delicious.

I enjoyed the Fried Rice very much, especially the dried pork on top.

BBQ Chicken was tender and flavorful. Although I’m not much of a chicken person, even I had to have some kind of barbeque for the Independence Day!biggrin

After dinner, we headed over to Kevin’s friend’s house for a fireworks viewing party. This breathtaking properly sits on top of the Pasadena hill, overlooking the Rose Bowl. Kevin, Shannon, Raf, and I, along with 100-plus of their friends sat on the front yard grass and watched the beautiful fireworks, from the best seats in town.  (I found someone’s recording of the fireworks here!  This person probably recorded it from inside the Rose Bowl, but this is exactly how we saw it too!)

It was simply an amazing, amazing night. Happy birthday, America! And thank you, Shannon and Raf, for such a wonderful dinner.