Friday, April 30, 2010

Bigger, better, blog.

As I was packing away my winter wardrobe, I decided it was time to do some spring cleaning online by improving the organization, look, and function of this blog. As you've probably noticed, I now have BIGGER PICTURES! Unfortunately, I don't have the willpower to go through all my previous entries and re-size the photos, so the older photos will look a bit small and strange. I wish I could change it with the touch of a button, but it's not possible. Damn you, blogspot...

I've also labeled all of my entires so you can view them by clicking on the categories to the right.

Some people mentioned not being able to leave comments. If you're one of these people, please tell me more about the issue and I'll try to fix it. Any other suggestions are welcome. Leave a comment!

Lowell, you're a life saver. Thank you for helping me wrestle with html.

Fancy dinner party.

I got such a hugely positive response when I made dumplings that I thought it would be fun to share the wealth and have a fancy, springtime dinner party. I have been completely swamped with work from my 5.72 different jobs, but with my dearest friend, Neelima, coming to town, I figure it was as good a time as any to get everyone together for a nice evening of food and drink. I don't entertain often, so I really wanted to put some effort into this dinner. It was a ton of work, but I enjoyed planning, cooking and organizing sweet little Asian snacks in symmetrical patterns on a platter. Though my neck and shoulders are still tense from wrapping 300+ dumplings. Why do I do this to myself...

I'm sorry I wasn't able to have all of my NY friends over at once due to space constraints.  I'll have an encore party one of these days, I promise :)

The white plates are my everyday dishes, the blue-rimmed ones were hand-me-downs from my former roommate, Wendy, and the soy sauce trays were only $.95 from Chinatown!

I contemplated whether or not a seating chart would be a good idea, and Peter suggested having everyone sit with strangers. I was hesitant at first, but the mix of old and new friends ended up producing some really hilarious conversations.

I made 4 kinds of dumplings:
Scallop & chives
Pork, shrimp, & chinese celery
Tofu, mushroom, & shrimp
Spinach, tofu, & mushroom

For dessert we had sticky rice balls covered in sweet sesame powder, mango mochi, and the most amazing fresh mango I've ever eaten.

Thanks to all my lovely ladies for facilitating a rapid and efficient clean up effort. Thanks to Terry for the music, and thanks to everyone for coming! It was an exceptionally lovely evening and I can't wait to do it again.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small Spaces.

After a year-long wait, the book that my bedroom will be featured in is finally coming out on May 11th! I mentioned last year that my favorite blog, Apartment Therapy, came by and took some pictures for their new book.

Check out that entry here.

The book is done, and it looks like this! I've seen a few pages of the book and it looks amazing. This is not helping my obsession with tiny space planning. After it comes out, I'm going to do a full post on my tricked out mini-bedroom. (The photo on the cover is not my place)

You can buy it on Amazon or if you want to preview the book, visit the official site.

Taiwan with the family.

My mom and I went to visit my grandmother in Taipei, Taiwan. This was my first time in Taiwan as an adult and as a whole, it was a great trip full of family time, foliage, fruit, and fake eyelashes.

Old Taiwan.

There isn't actually an "Old Taiwan" but the contrast between old and new is very striking. There aren't that many places that were old in a charming, historic kind of way. Most of the old things were just OLD and needed to be replaced, fixed, or cleaned, but no one seemed the least bit bothered by it. Which I suppose is charming in and of itself.

Out and about.

The face masks were still a big thing in Taipei. I guess they were hit pretty hard with swine flu. My mom and I met up with her friend's son who is a quasi-famous pop singer and he said that he rocks the face mask when he's hiding from screaming teenage girls.


Street Food.

Create-your-own-soup station.

Sweet or salty crusty pancakes. So good.

Crunchy, fried squid on a stick.


If I were to describe Taipei in a few words, I'd say it's pretty much one giant mall/food court surrounded by amazingly beautiful hills. I've never seen so many places to shop and eat. (And I live in NYC!) Their night markets are world famous. People are packed like sardines in these shopping districts into the wee hours, even on work days. Every night my mom and I would shop, eat, shop, eat, shop, eat..........

This is a belt. It says "I am Lame" LOOOVE it!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Family Home Renovation.

My dad has wanted to renovate our family home as long as I can remember. It was small and charming, but the kitchen was in the front, and while it’s nice to be able to see kids scampering out front, it was a bit of an eyesore when we were preparing food or eating.

At first the plan was just to renovate the kitchen, which was in dire need of a facelift. And then we wanted to move the kitchen to the side of the house. And then we wanted to move the kitchen to the back of the house.

Fast forward 7 years and my parents finally decided to keep the kitchen in roughly the same area, add a brand new garage in front of the kitchen, and turn the old garage into a new living room. Unlike most extensions that get added onto the back of the house, we decided to add onto the front. I figured it’s not often you get to reinvent the fa├žade of a house, so it better be nice.

I’m not a expert at designing traditional house exteriors, so I spent weeks looking at thousands of images online and in books. I even drove through San Mateo, Hillsborough, Berkeley, and Pacific Heights with my camera, taking pictures of beautiful houses. I'm sure I looked like a stalker. Or one of those undercover agents on "Cheaters." 

I was in California from October – December ’09 working on what turned out to be a SUPER HUGE MEGA renovation.  

This is the state the house was in when my parents called me for help. At that point my dad had already gutted the entire house, putting in new plumbing, electrical, sewer lines, and lots of other things that I don't know the terminology for.  The shape of the house changed, so the whole roof is new. My parents endured two massive floods when they were hit by unexpected rain storms, pending the completion of the new roof.

The entire house was behind a green construction fence for many, many months. During this entire process, my parents were still living IN the house.

Both bathrooms in the house were demolished with plans to turn them into one larger bathroom. The kitchen was gutted, and a makeshift "kitchen" was set up in the back yard. It consisted of a sink with no hot water, a plywood countertop, and a propane camping stove. My dad parked our trusty 1980's RV in our side yard, and they called it home for over 6 months. The RV is surprisingly spacious and comfortable for 2 people. When I came home, I stayed in my childhood room and because there was no front door and no garage door yet, the whole house was like an ice box. We probably had raccoons cruising the premises at night.

Hello, new house.

Not many of you have seen the old house. Unfortunately, we never took decent pictures of it before we tore it down. Thank goodness for Google street view. The old house was kind of an L shape. Now it's more like a big rectangle.

We need landscaping really badly, but besides that, i'm REALLY happy with how it came out.