Aug 16

On Beauty | July Favorites

When it’s hot, my hairline is a raging waterfall.  The likes no hand or forearm can master.  Attempt to put on makeup? No, Ma’am.  On a cool day and when I needed to cool down, there were a few things in July that brought a smile to my mostly sweaty face.

COLD WATER – I’m a room temp fan.  Hardcore stan.  I order water with no ice.  Always. This heat, though.  It feels like for the last month my body has demanded the most. Super COLD, pls+thx.  All the time.  And with the exception of a weird heat/rash attack, I’ve seen the benefits of all that water.  My skin is looking hydrated as fuck.

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in Deep/Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Topaz – There were a few days I was actually able to wear a hint of product.  After a disastrous attempt at bonding with a couple of drugstore cushion foundations, I wanted to play with my Glossier skin tint again.  The skin tint is minimal coverage. They call it a wash of color.  If I’m going to do minimal coverage, I just don’t cover.  Until now, I hadn’t really found a reason to use it regularly.  It just sat on the vanity looking ‘cool girl’ cute.  When I mixed a pump of the Becca with a bunch of drops of the skin tint, the sky cried.  The Becca added a bit of depth and warmth, while maintaining a look that is still sheer, lo-fi and understated.

Estée Edit Edgiest Kohl Shadowstick in Black Viper – I wandered into an Estée Edit event at Sephora and got got. I, even, said that I was on punishment when it came to black liner/shadow stick things.  Like, HOW MANY BLACK LINERS DO I NEED?  Well, I have another one.  Black Viper is already well-used and well-loved.  Could be on that grail that’s holy.  It goes on and doesn’t move.  When the waterfall is being wiped and they eyes aren’t spared, the waterline is still smoked out.  Let’s just say I’ve fallen asleep with it on and it’s been there the next day.  I’m just saying it’s possible.

Estée Edit Barest Lip Color in In The Buff – Call luck or fate, the first lipstick the makeup artist put on me was out of stock.  It was a good nude. Even great, until… In The Buff.  Hello, Everything.  Hello, Meant To Be.  The almost perfect, perfect nude-y mauve.  It’s sheer, buildable, with a subtle sheen and the ease of a no-look application.  Like, completely, perfect color.  There is one thing, though.  You know, the faint rose smell that you can’t stand? Yeah, that.  Ugh.  If this color married the Burberry Full Kisses formula and lost the scent, I would be beyond happy.

Acts/Ideas/Revelations to habit:

Straw, please.  When the temperature drops to reasonable and the desperation dries, I’ll have to remember that drinking water with a straw makes it a little easier to drink LOTS.  My dearly, newly, beloved can be an easily ignorable bore.  But, my aging face can no longer handle just mainlining coffee, even if it’s decaf.  That, and I know better.  Water, it is.  With a straw.

So, wait. I have to set it with powder? I missed that step.  I like to say I’m reflective, not greasy.  I’ve used powder before, years ago, on bare skin to finish off a simple no/low makeup look.  It was polished fire for, like, 15 minutes.  Then, before I got where I was going, it was gone.  Earlier this year, I fell in love with putting Guerlain bronzer where it wasn’t “supposed” to go, but felt it was a tad dark to do every day.  Cut to a couple of weeks ago, I pulled out a powder closer to my skin tone from the back of the drawer and set the Glossier/Becca.  Hours later, epiphany central.  I could still see the look I intended to create that morning.  This is definitely happening all the time, you know, when the sweating stops.  I just have to wash my face at night.  That or the MAC MSF is breaking me out.

Mix it.  Mix it good.  I hate the ashy/obvi sunscreen cast that sits on my face until it doesn’t.  Instead of putting on my moisturizer, waiting for that to sink in and then, putting on my sunscreen, I’ve started adding a squirt of sunscreen to a dollop of my moisturizer.  I just work it in all at once, and I’m done.  Fine.  Skin, further protected.  Glorious melanin, you’ve got back-up.

It’s August.  Stay hydrated and smile.  Cause the water will fall.



Aug 16

Something Simple | Better Brown Rice

With the exception of Chipotle visits, my rice life is pretty brown.

I switched to brown rice in the early aughts.  A rice cooker became the go-to, because paying attention to a pot on the stove for 45 is 40ish minutes too long for me.

For all of that time, I have to confess: I made mush.  Like, really.  Dull and tasteless.  And, I settled.  Settled for bland, beige mush for years.  I had to smother it in black beans, a curry or a tomato-based sauce to mask the sadness and disappointment.

I was always a little jealous of those grains huddled together, yet, so free, on plates and in bowls prepared for me.  I just couldn’t do it at home.  I tried long, short, jasmine and basmati.  I went with what everyone told me, 2:1.  That’s how it’s done.

Until, one day, I really wanted to recreate the veg/grain salad that I picked up from a shop around the corner from the office.  I wanted make my own big bowl of leafy greens, colorful veg and rice with tahini dressing that didn’t cost eight bucks for a half cup of joy.  I wanted it bad.  I’d figured out how to make the dressing.  Bought all the veg.  But, I just stared at the big jar of rice. The one thing that was going to fuck it all up.

I don’t know what made me google.  It didn’t, really, cross my mind that what I was told could be wrong.  I think I was just, finally, trying to figure out what I wasn’t doing right.

So on my google adventure, I got a hit that made all the sense.  Martha said I was using too much water.  Simple as that.

No, really. It was that simple.

Since then, I’ve tried both 1.25 and 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice.  I, usually, do 1.25.  And it’s sooo much better.

Have I made the salad? Um, so…

Bottom line: Don’t settle.  Figure out what works for you on the stove or rice cooker.  I’ve you’re pushing buttons on the microwave or dumping out that frozen bag, you should have already been fine.


Sep 13

Tastes Like Home | Daddy’s Stroganoff

sometimes it’s just the memories that remain…

I didn’t realize how isolated I’ve felt here, soooo far from family, until recently. Having a kitchen full of home has helped me feel a bit less alone. I’ve been updating and elevating {♥: girrrlllll…} childhood favorites for a while, but there are some really special ones I’ve been a little afraid to try.

When my dad died, all I could think about was how fun it was when he pulled Beef Stroganoff and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake from his divorced dad’s bag of tricks. I wandered the stacks at the Central Library for looking for stroganoff recipes to help recreate those long ago weekends. Losing him wasn’t unexpected, but it was heavy. I let something else sparkly catch my eye and a daddy made dinner got shelved.

I decided to cut out meat and dairy almost three years ago. At some point, the idea resurfaced to, rah-rah, Veganize it! I bought noodles and faux sour cream. And a weird aftertaste ended the adventure almost as soon as it began. The noodles stayed in the pantry, all uninspiring. The sour cream stayed in the fridge, opened and undesired.

When I decided make some of my tastes of home for Vegan MoFo, I knew I had to finally do Daddy’s Stroganoff. I looked around for recipes. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to follow a vegan one, almost as written, or go with a veg version and replace the dairy.

I picked a vegan one. Bought the few items I was missing and set off to make something good. Um, so, yeah. I followed the directions and…

I didn’t like it. At all.

It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t right.

I hate wasting food. I really hate wasting food that I’m not proud of but I know to be *kanyeshrug* okay. I kinda wish I had that guy who, you know, eats anything. I could be all… “You eat it. It’s too hot. I’ll just have watermelon and a bit of wine.”

But, yeah, no. That’s not what happened.

All is not lost, but I’m just sayin’… I l♥ve mushrooms, and days later, it still feels like I flushed a big old bag and a half from TJs down the loo. {♥: but you, uh, did.} I drank most of the bottle of wine, so there’s that. I still have soy milk in the fridge. I don’t normally use it, so I may need to figure out how to make soy creamer. I have more peas and they will find their way into a good curry. It’ll all be okay.

I do have to finish that bag of noodles. Maybe I’ll roam these mean internet streets for a better stroganoff fit. I could even dive deep into Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese for a bit of homemade sour cream.

I am glad I tried this. My love for Daddy’s Stroganoff may just have been about the beef, the tangy sour cream and me as a willful kid getting one over on my ‘no red meat’ eating mom.

This little disaster isn’t going to stop me from making the other things I planned this week.  The heatwave, she just might do that.





Sep 13

Something Simple | When It’s Too Hot

yeah… i am so of a certain age…

It’s so hot. Too hot. Not fun, hot. Waterfall of sweat, hot. I don’t want to be in the kitchen. I don’t want to cook. I keep trying, but the heat is just… uggghhhh.

My Vegan MoFo plans are going awry. I had a schedule. It was already causing a bit of anxiety. Now, the appearance of summer in September is so not helping. I wanted to make elaborate(ish) dishes and bake things. I created an editorial calendar and made grocery lists. I’ve already put in thought, money and a bit of heart.

Maybe the heat is just telling me to be who I am. I like it quick and easy. I like something simple w/lots of flavor. I do want to step out of my comfort zone, but I will also have to just let things unfold.

So, my day has been all about a tiny watermelon sliced in half and a large iced americano.

How do you handle shifting mid-course? And do you have a favorite salad, fresh juice or smoothie that saves you on a hot day?



Sep 13

Vegan MoFo | Happy Birthday to Me

So, yeah, I’m back…

Hello, September. I know it’s been ages. Almost a year, actually. And to come back, I needed a bit of inspiration and a bit of a push. Enter, Vegan MoFo.

I, somehow, didn’t really know about the Vegan Month of Food, but I’ll spend my lovely birth month exploring, sharing, opining and eating… lots.

First up, birthday cake. Or I should say, birthday cupcake. The downtown Sprinkles and I have a little ritual since they opened and the downtown Babycakes closed earlier this year.  Once a month, I give myself permission to have one {♥: One?}, okay, maybe two red velvet cupcakes. But, seriously, I can only go once, because I know trouble when I taste it.

I, openly, long for the first of the month. Beg days to hurry, if just for the short, short time it takes me to drag a finger through the creamy icing with its hint of coconut. I marvel at the moistness of the cake after cracking the top and peeling the paper. Then, somehow, I’m transported. Crumbs and hard Vs are all that remain.

I had a non-vegan moment right after I got back from Brasil this past spring and I tried one of the “look, but don’t touch” flavors. I think it might have been like Cuban coffee or something. Honestly, the vegan red velvet was better, lighter, brighter.

So, for my birthday, there was no discussion. Even if it was only a discussion to be had in my head. It was Sprinkles all the way. Sprinkles, FTW.

Happy Birthday to me, indeed.



Sep 12

On The Walk | KTown Represent

just stuff seen on the walk…

I stopped by my local Korean grocery while on a wander last night.  The ladies were watching a Psy video.  Not that one, but this one.

Sep 12

On The Walk | The City Streets

just stuff seen on a walk…

Sometimes I wonder what people expect when they see images of LA.  Then, I kind of get down on what I see because it’s not the pretty, honeyed, laid back LA.  I have to catch myself, though.  I find interesting things around me every single day.

So, here’s just some of what I’ve seen lately when I’ve set out to roam.


Sep 12

HFTS | Mother’s Mixed Pickle

just something i picked up at the shop…

Popped into my local South Asian grocery for lentils and came home with a new little treat.

I take my time in the aisles, always looking for at least one thing to bring home just to try.  So far, I’ve only had this pickle with a dal, but it was pretty good.  It was hot, all tart and full of texture and bite.

If there’s any country that seems to have more sway and space in my pantry, it’s India.  And this lovely little pickle is making itself right at home.


Sep 12

Home From The Market | Hollywood 2Sept12

just a few things that made it home from the market…

Cauliflower | Collard Greens | Tomatoes | Onions | Thomcord Grapes | Green Peppers | Kale

I went shopping with a post-birthday, champagne headache yesterday.  With a full day planned, I realized, early, that my patience was in short supply and very little meandering would be allowed.  Shoulders were quickly shrugged and I was on to the next stall.

Then, I saw those Thomcord grapes.  I saw them and smiled wide.  I picked up a few.  Chatted and smiled some more.

Just as easily and quickly as I know things aren’t for me, I know when they are.  Those grapes.  Those grapes were dark and lovely.  I knew they would make me giggle as they burst with all kinds of memories and a bit of longing.

One of the things that I love about going to the market is that I get a chance to be excited about simple things without being dismissive of the emotions, as if they have to be or do something more to be deserving of joy.  I let myself experience the pleasure I get from delighting my senses.  Things are just beautiful.  Or taste amazing.  Or make me happy.

There’s no ‘enough’ attached to the Thomcord grapes.  There are no grand plans, either.  I’ll just wash them and nibble, until they disappear.


Jul 12

Something Simple | Tweaking Store-Bought Dumplings

the little things can make a world of difference…

I used to love making gyoza.  I kinda miss it now.  I miss the stuffing and the pleating.  I miss experimenting with flavor.  I don’t miss the pork, but I miss what it did inside that wrapper.  I’ve tried to make my own veg dumplings, but they just haven’t come out right.  Yet.

So, in the meantime, to fulfill the need, I grab a bag of the Thai Veg Gyoza when I’m in Trader Joe’s.  I was disappointed at first.  I had been heavy handed with the sriracha, garlic and ginger in my own, so TJ’s mild did not rock my world.  Why don’t I just got to my local Korean spot where they’ve got an aisle full of options?  TOO MUCH TO CHOOSE FROM and I’m scared of the tofu/soy products inside. (I did just try one the other day.  Taste great, but an odd disappearing filling and ew, corn.)

Since I’m at TJ’s, um, a lot, and usually want something quick when I get home, I decided to try the dumplings again and cook them they way I used to do my homemade.  But, something was still missing.  It wasn’t until I added a pinch of salt to the steam liquid that I hit pay dirt.  Now, I have to stay away from them.  A bag isn’t long for the freezer.

Something Simple | Tweaking Dumplings/Gyoza/Potstickers

 a bag of gyoza | lemon juice | salt | water | grapeseed/veg oil

In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons or so of lemon juice to one tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt.  Stir to make sure salt dissolves. Heat non-stick pan.  Add 2 tablespoons of oil.  Place 10 gyoza in the pan leaving space between them.  Brown bottoms over high heat. (I pick them up frequently to see how dark they’re getting.)  Cover when they’re just about the color you want.  Get your bowl.  Lift cover just enough to quickly pour in the diluted salted lemon juice.  Cover again and allow gyoza to steam.  Try not to lift cover to see if all of the water is gone, but listen to see if you start to hear sizzling.  They’re done.

While the dumplings are steaming, I toss together a dipping sauce made of fresh grated ginger, sriracha, lemon juice, soy sauce and sesame oil.

Quickly cooked and eaten.  Seriously.