Mustachio, Unibrows, and Aliens?

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I’ve never been a huge fan of spiders, but given recent events (giant elusive spider in my room that keeps escaping), I’ve decided that as long as he or she hides, I won’t try to kill him.. But.. after watching this social film from Intel and Toshiba “The Power Inside”, is s/he really a mustache or unibrow alien trying to kill me and possibly take over the world? What?!


Yes, you need to go watch the rest of the episodes. Go now. I mean it involves Harvey Keitel as a straightedge razor wielding mustache-alien fighter, Unibrows & Mustaches trying to take over the world, and Analeigh Tipton, the love interest. For those of you who don’t know who she is, she was 
the chatterbox best friend of the main chick in the zombie movie, Warm Bodies, and the babysitter who was in love with Cal in Crazy Stupid Love (one of the better romcoms out there..) She seriously had the best interactions with Julianne Moore in that film. She’s just so adorable!

I do have a slight obsession with mustaches, but this whole new spider-like/alien thing.. I’m a little torn. Join the fight! The best part is the audience gets to participate. So who’s side are you taking? *insert red glowing dead eyes stare* You didn’t notice my unibrow, did you?

 

Happy Clouds..

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I love to channel my inner Bob Ross, fro and all, and dabble in art. I hadn’t done any real artwork since high school when I took an advanced art course. Love! In fact, where are those ahmazing pencils I once owned and cherished? Alas, they are probably lost forever. 

I’ve always loved the creative side of things, so when my sister asked me to join her at a PaintNite, I jumped at the chance. We had chosen between a few dates and also were able to choose depending on what we wanted to paint. PaintNite offers a variety of gorgeous pieces, and we chose the San Francisco Cityscape/Skyline, hosted at Taverna Aventine. Coincidentally, it’s located on the edge of Jackson Square and the Financial District, directly across the street from the TransAmerica building, that also happened to be in our painting. PaintNite is hosted at various locations in the city and across the U.S., so you may find one in your city. 

Our group of about 15 sat neatly packed into their space and our incredibly patient instructor, Torrey, made sure that she kept us on track. We were encouraged to imbibe, let our creativity flow, have fun, and not take things too seriously. We popped on our aprons, and with gin gimlets in one hand, and a paint brush in the other, we started our masterpieces*.

I feel like this class is perfect for any level student. You go through mixing colors, and using different brushes, but the instructor is always around if you need help or have questions. It definitely is a great group activity, and for me, it was fun sister time. If you don’t like where your painting is going (usually most things are fixable), but when it’s clear that “it is what it is…”, the answer is clear. Drink more! Have fun! It’s like trying to cut your own hair evenly.. The more you try to fix it, the worse it may get.. so relax. Drink. And then cut your hair. (Just kidding. Don’t do that.)

Hope you enjoy the pics. You can tell I’m totally into it because I can’t even sit down to paint.. Also beware of flicking paint into your drink. There may or may not have been colorful specks of paint in my gin gimlet that I had to remove. Possibly..

Here’s the finished masterpiece. We had no happy trees, but I made sure to create some happy (read: kind of ominous really..) clouds. 

*Just to be clear, your definition of masterpiece may be very different from mine. ;)

 

Bee Suit Up!

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If Winnie the Pooh could be anything in the world, I’d count on him choosing a profession in beekeeping. This Saturday, I had the chance to, [in the wise words of Barney Stinson] Bee Suit Up! Round Rock Honey Company, headquartered in Texas, offers a year-round beekeeping class in California, Texas, and Wisconsin. The seester brought me along to one of their classes located in the heart of San Francisco. Who knew that in the concrete jungle of downtown, there would bee (wink*) hives on the rooftop of Glide Memorial Church? Two to be exact. But, beekeeping is surprisingly more common in this city than one would think. There are associations all over the bay area that people join and if you’re lucky, someone might post up info about a free swarm of bees looking for a new home. Free-bees!   

With the bee population dwindling from pesticides and the increasing numbers of cell phone towers, the beekeeping class is a great introduction to help the bee population and educating anyone interested in starting up their own hive. For people who are scared of bees or creepy crawlies in general, (read: me), it’s kind of surreal and a quite fascinating experience. I definitely had a small freak out moment when I felt surrounded by bees flying everywhere. Our class lasted around two and a half hours, and included an overview about bees, what you need to get started, all the materials and resources involved,what it takes to maintain a hive, and finally suiting up to visit the hives. 

Our beekeeping instructor, Mark, was passionate (to say the least) about bees. For someone afraid of bugs, I really felt like his overview was necessary for me to see the bigger picture of what their short little lives are all about (gathering food, cleaning, and protecting their colony). Not to mention, their existence is so very vital to our global agriculture. For worker bees, it’s their job to clean, collect nectar, and protect their hive. It’s pretty amazing and just a little bit sad. Most people already know this, but when worker bees are protecting their hive, feel threatened, and use their stinger, it’s embedded into whatever they’ve stung, so they lose their limb and die. What I learned though, is that the toxin from their stinger emits a pheromone that acts like a beacon to all the other bees to go to the same location to sting. Lesson learned. Remove the stinger asap! 

It’s not a great life for the drones either. They seem a bit lazy since they neither clean nor collect nectar.. but, well, they die similarly (minus the protecting the hive part and more about having the s.e.x and preventing others from mating *whispers* THE “STINGER” IN THIS CASE IS THEIR PENIS.)

I feel like I have so much knowledge about bees that I would love to impart on you, but instead I think everyone needs to take this class because it really is fascinating. I might never have my own hive, but if someone where to ask me to suit up and hold a frame of bees. I’m totally down. Well, in exchange for honey. Not only is it a healthier sweetener, but it’s great for dealing with local pollen allergies. [insert sneeze here] They do fly within a 3 mile radius, so the honey they make is local down to the zip code! We were also taught how to tell the difference between worker and drone, check for healthy larvae (ew..), and even check for a specific parasite that is sometimes common in a hive. (Imagine a dungeness crab attached to your back.. insane!) After all the nitty gritty.. we were ready.. 

BEE SUITED UP!!!

To calm these guys and cover up any angry pheromone communication signals they might send out when their hive is disturbed/moved, smoke is sprayed around. This also makes them think a fire is near, so they start drinking lots of honey and get all slow and clumsy – what I now refer to as Winnie the Pooh’d out. During this whole process I started feeling a bit claustrophobic. The suit has a netted head area, but it still felt like the bees were just everywhere. Once I stopped freaking out internally, which probably lasted for a minute (generally my curiosity > my fear), I was able to hold up a frame.

Fortunately, being suited up meant some fat yellow gloves that protected my delicate hands from being stung. Unfortunately, this also meant using a cell phone to take pictures would be ridiculously difficult. So, apologies for unfocused photos. Actually, SORRYIMNOTSORRY.. Bees were landing on me, and I didn’t Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man = Success. 

Oh, there I am! Hello there..

So, holding the frames and having bees land on me was quite exciting, but the not so great part was somewhat sad and gross. When we were handing off frames to other people, I saw a bee get crushed (in half). It also happens when they put the frames and the supers (layer that the frame goes inside) back in place. Ugh.. *shivers.. poor thing. I don’t even like bugs, and I felt so sad for it. But, it happens, and just look at how amazing they are. I couldn’t have had a better experience. Oh, and, that honey. So good. Will I be keeping bees after this class? Probably not. This was a great hands-on learning experience (and it’s ok for children 7 and up)! From people like me, who just love honey, to those who are adventurous  and actually have the space, resources, and the interest in keeping their own bees, it’s great for everyone. Mark was really knowledgeable and people brought up some good questions since there were a few who attended that wanted to start a hive. So, if you’re thinking about keeping your own bees = your own unlimited supply of honey, think about taking this class. Thanks Round Rock Honey Co.! 

Image: “Camouflage” by Jean-Sebastian Deheeger

My photo set!

 

 

Letter to Anonymous

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I love you and will always love you! Thank you for coming to me to share who you are with me. I am so happy for you and so proud of you. 

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Yet, I am still scared and sad. Not because of it, but because it’s a rough road ahead, you are still so young, and this world is still so hateful. I wish you love, and I hope in this lifetime, you and whoever you fall madly in love with (because who wouldn’t – you are beautiful!), are able to share your lives together, with the same rights as any other person. No judgement and NOH8. 

I love and support you always. (Unless you get into drugs or something.. In which case I would still love and support you, but there would be some form of intervention..)  Anyways, as per usual, I’m watching you! ;p 

Know that you are loved. 

<3 always,

Donna

 

Semi-healthy Banana Bread Experiment w/ Nectresse

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Note: I received a complimentary box of Nectresse in the Influenster SugarNSpice Vox Box.

Bananas! Bananas! Everywhere! Ok, make that three uber extra mega ripe bananas. I’d never made banana bread before, but had some of the best from a coworker ages ago. Unfortunately, I lost that recipe, and didn’t really have too many ingredients at home. The main 3 that I needed to find subs for were 1. Butter 2. Sugar 3. Sour Cream. Yeah, I know.. Crazy and unacceptable!! 

Fortunately, I’m pretty good at find substitutes and other options, and I kinda just went with it. I read online that you could sub butter with avocado, and I had a small avocado lying around.

Sugar was also running low, and I did have that nice box of Nectresse (that yes, you can bake with!). Nectresse is a sweetener made from monk fruit and other natural sweeteners. I was surprised to learn that I’ve actually had monk fruit before in soup. It’s usually dried and then put into Asian soups. All this time, I had no idea that it could be made into a sweetener. Genius!

And last but not least the one that plagued me the most was the sour cream. The only yogurt I had was flavored.. Banana Bread to be exact… how… convenient… Next time, I’d go plain, but I don’t think it made too much of a difference. It was pretty moist, just the perfect amount of sweet, and super banana-y. YUM!

– small avocado – butter sub
– 4 packets of nectresse
– 1 teaspoon of vanilla
– 1 teaspoon of salt
– 1.5 cups flour
– 3 overripe bananas
– 1 teaspoon of baking soda
– 2 eggs
– 3 big spoonfuls of yogurt (or 1 cup of sour cream)

Mash your avocado, mix in sugar or 4 packets of Nectresse (I chose to use less sweetener since I had 3 uber sweet bananas vs 2 bananas), eggs, and vanilla. If using regular sugar and you have 2 ripe bananas, use 1 cup of white or brown sugar. In a separate bowl mix flour, salt, and baking soda together. Pour your dry mixture into the other one. Mix well, add mashed bananas, and stir in yogurt (or sour cream). Pour your mixture into a greased oven-safe pan. Preheat your oven to 375 and bake for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean when you test it. Let it cool and nosh away.

My first banana bread = tastes like banana bread! Success! You really can’t tell the difference between baking with sugar vs. Nectresse. Healthy = WIN. Does anyone have a chocolate chip banana bread recipe that’s to die for? That’s what I really wanted to make, but didn’t have chocolate chips on hand.

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It’s an egg in a box! It’s an egg in a box, babe.

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After a previous failed attempt at eggs in a basket, I thought I’d give it another go with some thicker toast. Verdict?

Success in my belly!

Ok, well maybe there are a few more steps that I left out, but it’s quick and easy to make (and even faster to devour).

Ingredients:
1 thickass slice of bread (ok, probably not as thick as texas toast)
1 egg
salt
black pepper
butter (I subbed with Consorzio Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

After cutting out the hole (in any shape you like) heat up a nonstick pan. Use a pan with a flat surface. Don’t want your egg to eggscape now, do we? *WINK* Oh, and don’t throw away your bread that’s been cut out! Use it to dip into your egg later!

We didn’t have any butter at home (WHAT?!) so I drizzled some Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil onto the pan. Believe me, that stuff is bomb, and I think you can get it at Costco. Sprinkle a little bit of salt into the oil and place both bread and cutout bread onto the pan. Let it sizzle a little, and then gently crack your egg into the bread hole. *giggle*

Sprinkle salt and pepper onto the egg, and let it cook on med-low, until you can slide your bread around a little. (ie. egg is done on one side).  Once that side is done, flip over your egg toast very very carefully. You don’t want it to break or fall out! (Don’t forget to flip over your little cutout bread too!) Then let it cook on low until you can slide your bread around a little bit. Once you can, turn off the heat immediately and gently transfer your egg toast onto a plate.

BOOM!

Egg in a basket that’s not really a basket, but a slice of toast!

Dip your cutout toast into the egg yolky goodness, and nosh away. If you don’t like the egg yolk runny, then cook longer! Enjoy yourself, or make it for someone else. Guaranteed smile. Ok, guaranteed reaction that’s not too negative!

Is there something you’d like to see me attempt? Comment and let me know!

 

San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade & Festival

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Disclaimer: I was not compensated to write this post, and the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of AT&T or HTC. AT&T gave me the HTC OneX+ to live-tweet photos of the event. Photos posted were taken by the HTC OneX+ or HTC OneX. Special thanks to suki for sharing this opportunity with me.


Being from San Francisco has its many advantages, and is likely why I don’t see myself leaving anytime in the near future. A diverse hub of culture, food, nightlife, music, cinema and art at our fingertips, and just a short drive to the great outdoors, San Francisco attracts people from all over the world. And yet I have to admit its easy as a native to take everything for granted. It’s almost second nature to avoid large masses of people, so after watching the parade from the sidelines many many years ago (what I like to dub the human sardine experience), I was happy to appreciate it from behind a t.v. screen in the comforts of home.

This year, I was given a chance from AT&T to actually walk in the annual San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade to promote their HTC OneX+ phone (released in November 2012). They sent me the OneX+ and all I had to do was show up, walk with them, and live-tweet photos (No specific hashtag given, so I used #CNYParade). My travel writer friend, Keane, also documented the experience (non-cellphone photos).

The nice folks from AT&T handed us T-shirts, bright orange beanies, and texting gloves, which came in pretty handy when temperatures dropped and the winds picked up. Here’s me and the terracotta warrior throwing up fobby peace signs. It had to be done. How else could I show off those sexy texting gloves. ;P

After being windblown (wear layers) on Market Street (aka a wind tunnel) while waiting for the parade to begin, and taking photos of any float/dragon that passed us by, we crawled along the 1.5 mile course from Market to Kearny, to Post, up Powell, down Sutter, down Kearny, toward Columbus. It’s been over a decade since I’d been around the parade, and I was genuinely surprised at the huge turnout. “Oh, it’s just the Chinese New Year parade.” became a simple “Wow!” I’d forgotten what a large citywide celebration it was. The parade featured local school bands, drill teams, color guards, martial arts troupes, lion dance troupes, Asian Art Museum’s Terracotta warriors, Miss Chinatown, many sponsoring businesses, and the impressive Golden Dragon.

Shout out to Thurgood Marshall AHS, my high school who participated somewhere along the way. Witnessing the excitement in kids’ eyes and cheers from the crowds when they saw themselves on the AT&T LED screen, more than made up for not seeing all of the other floats/groups.  We were led by our fearless leader, the God of Fortune, who shouted well wishes of a prosperous new year to all. I hope that includes me and you and everyone we know! ;)

People got creative, and even I took a mental note. Driving downtown during the parade: not suggested. Many streets are blocked off, but advice from the people above: park at the Sutter/Stockton garage and watch the parade from above. Another easier way to see the floats were on uphill streets, or you can also purchase tickets for the bleacher seats.

After the parade, rerouted buses were packed to the brim with people headed home. Wishing for prosperity became wishing for teleportation home after 4 hours of walking/standing. Would I walk the parade again? Maybe. I’ve learned my lesson. Eat and use the restroom before the parade. We were famished and exhausted even mid-way through the parade. The chance to take photos from the middle of the street without being worried about getting run over? Kind of worth it.

And the final view of the parade turning the last corner onto Columbus Avenue! Good night, moon, TransAmerica building, and AT&T LED live cam float! It was a little hard to walk and take pictures while moving, but the camera from the phone was pretty fast. The phone ended up running out of battery since I forgot to charge up (my fault), so  the rest of the pictures were taken by the HTC OneX (and yes, I noticed a slight difference in quality improvement for the OneX+). And with that, I wish you a belated wonderful new year of the snake. May 2013 bring you good health, prosperity, and fortune.

 

Wine and Love v20

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Wine and Love

Wine and Love brought to you by Nora, and now hosted by suki at Superduperfantastic. What is wine and love? Wine/Love: things during the week that made you reach for the wine, and things that you loved.  This particular wine and love post was actually inspired by a Q&A that Kelli from Baby Belly Kelli posted on her Facebook fan page. So, two birds, one stone.. you get the picture.


Question 1: How do you and your family celebrate the Holidays and where are you from?

Wine
Same wine different week. I won’t bore you with that. And, the holiday blues that have suddenly arisen? That can be easily remedied with quality time with family, friends, and love, actually. (Well, love, definitely, and the movie, Love Actually.  Instead I’m going to write about random Christmas memories that fit so well in the love category, and that can answer the above question.

Love
Christmas now is less of the gift-giving celebration that it used to be when we were kids, and more of spending time with family, stuffing our bellies full; And if we’ve learned anything from last year, there’s much laughter and much drinking. I have no problem with this. Luckily, most of my family is in the San Francisco bay area. I’ve got a few in Washington state that I don’t see often, and some cousins sprinkled in Hong Kong, but for the most part, the gang’s all here.

Christmas/Winter Nostagia — I remember waking up early every Christmas to have at it under the Christmas tree. We didn’t have the open one gift on Christmas eve thing. In 1987..

Continued →

 

Wine and Love v19

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Wine and Love

Wine and Love brought to you by Nora, and now hosted by suki at Superduperfantastic. What is wine and love? Wine/Love: things during the week that made you reach for the wine, and things that you loved.

Wine
– Holy crap, I’m 29, which means I’m almost 30, single, and jobless (well, no full-time regular job). The jobless part bothers me more, mostly because I have no idea what I want to do with myself. In the meantime, I’m doing contract/ part-time stuff. #sigh
– My cold is lingering so I’m congested for most of the day.

Love
– My birthday crabsgiving was…

Continued →