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Endorsement Monday: Cozy Classics Does “Pride & Prejudice”

29 Jan

I have a quick endorsement for this Monday, January 28th: the super adorable series of kids’ books by Cozy Classics.

I first discovered them in the pages of Poets & Writers Magazine, another thing I wholeheartedly endorse, though my success ratio of read to unread magazines is quite low (I can never keep up! I suspect you suffer from the same problem – so many good, interesting things to read and not enough time (and too much television getting in the way) to read them).

But back to the Cozys:

wooly miss elizabeth bennett

wooly miss elizabeth bennett

Is this or is this not the coolest thing you’ve seen today? (No fair answering if you are A) not a book fan or B) not a Jane Austen fan. This post is not for you. Go look at some food porn.)

It’s hard to describe, but basically these two brothers (the Brothers Wang – Jack and Holman…they’re Chinese Canadian) decided to reinterpret the classics like Pride & Prejudice and Moby Dick, but this time for babies and toddlers. They hand make needle felted representations of the main characters and photograph them on tiny sets/scenes that they also create. These sets/scenes ┬átell the story of the whole book in about 12 words.

seriously, how can you resist this whale?

seriously, how can you resist this whale?

I know, I suck at explaining, but trust me, this is the coolest thing for babies of geek friends since iPhones were created. I’m stocking up for all the baby showers I’ll ever be invited to. I might cuddle up with a Cozy or two myself.

Endorsement Monday: Cooking Classes at PREP Kitchen Essentials

22 Jan

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time is take a cooking class. I’ve talked about it, I’ve researched the classes, I even put it on my 101 Things list. And now I can say that I’m a proud cooking class graduate!

CityBoy was roped into this fantasy, being that I found an awesome French-themed class just in time for someone’s birthday (yes, I gave my husband a birthday gift that I would have wanted – don’t judge me).

PREP Cooking Essentials is a clean, modern kitchen store in Seal Beach with a great cooking program. They’re even have “Learn to Cook” and professional chef’s classes!

I signed us up for “December in Paris,” which harkened us back to our recent anniversary trip to Paris. Chef Elizabeth Whitt is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate who is down-to-earth, very knowledgeable and passionate about food and teaching.

we're all ears, Chef!

we’re all ears, Chef!

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Endorsement Monday: Your Local Aquarium

27 Nov

CityBoy and I were recently up in the San Francisco Bay area for Thanksgiving, spending time with his side of the family. We had a lovely three days with brothers, aunties, nieces and in-laws, some of which was spent at the Aquarium of the Bay (http://www.aquariumofthebay.com) in downtown San Francisco.

I’ve poo-poo’d aquarium visiting in the past to CityBoy. They seem clammy and creepily nocturnal at best, crowded with screaming sticky children at worst. But this time, I was enchanted, by the exhibits (including a multi-room water tunnel thing, through which you walk and the animals soar (ehem, swim) overhead), the staff (kudos to the very pleasant women working the photo booth and elevators, and the delight of the children, as they gallop from exhibit to exhibit, shouting, “Look!” “Wow!” “Come on!”

We were a family of 10, with a four and two year old, and we had a gay old time. The Aquarium of the Bay is fairly small (and maybe a bit overpriced – I don’t know, our hosts paid for our tickets), but its size works in its favor, I think. Just enough to see and touch and experience without getting overwhelmed and cranky (or at least for me – luckily there was a Bloody Mary in my future).

So as you’re considering gift options this Holiday Season, why not consider your local aquarium? Or pop in yourself for an amazing hour or two. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Endorsement Monday: Gomen Restaurant in Stanton

19 Nov

After an often swelteringly hot summer, cold and rainy fall weather has finally arrived in Southern California. I know, those East Coasters among you are already scoffing. Cold? you say. Rainy? Hah! And yes, given the enormous physical smackdown of Super Storm Sandy, I hear you. But bear with me – relatively speaking for SoCal, it is now winter – otherwise, how could I extol the pleasures of eating ramen in the cold?

New York City has this down to a steamy, slurpy science. The number of ramen shops there is truly astounding, and each one has its own circle of devotees, lauding this one’s combination of salty and soupy, that one’s pork-fat-laden goodness. And the wintery weather, that particular blend of bone-chilling wind and foot-sore travel, help make ramen eating in the city a true reward for those hearty enough to schlep through slush and the crowds to get to their steaming bowl.

CityBoy and I have found our own circle of heaven, here in Stanton, a mere 25-minute drive away at Gomen. It’s in a nondescript strip mall (as are all the wonderful holes-in-the-wall in California), bracketed by a Mexican ice cream shop – that always, always closes before we can finish our ramen – and some sushi place we have yet to try.

Behold, the loveliness:

mmm, mmm, porky goodness

I’m a simple gal, preferring a delicate pork broth, not too salty, and just a few accompaniments: sliced pork, green onions and that all important ingredient: ramen noodles. (Notice how I do not talk about the egg. The hard-boiled egg and I are not friends. He goes immediately to live in CityBoy’s bowl, where, depending on how many of his friends my hubby has already eaten for breakfast, he will be devoured or ignored. I wish him well.)

The bowl depicted shows Gomen’s standard noodle of offering: the curly ramen. It’s pretty good and remarkably yellow. But the true gold standard is the thin, straight noodle, which offers the perfect ratio of noodle to pork and doesn’t flip back at you as you attempt to swallow it.

There’s lots of other stuff at Gomen, other types of non-soup items (though I don’t understand why you go to a ramen place and get fried rice) and plenty of good, inexpensive beer. Our total last night, with 2 bowls of ramen, one large Sapporo to share, and edamame, came to just $21. That makes me smile.

Go. Enjoy. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Endorsement Monday: Judy Garland & the American Masters series

12 Nov

This week’s endorsement comes courtesy of PBS’ excellent American Masters series, which has profiled greats like Charlie Chaplin, Billie Holliday, Julia Child and Cab Calloway. I’ll be adding several of their DVDs to my Christmas wish list (you can find them on Amazon, among other places).

But this week’s endorsement is for “About Judy Garland: By Myself” which CityBoy was sweet enough to record for me and with which I spent two hours yesterday, engrossed in this amazing portrait of an amazing woman. I’ve always liked Judy Garland, having watched (of course) The Wizard of Oz about 10,000 times. I also watched many of her classic early movies, like the Andy Hardy movies with Mickey Rooney (if you haven’t seen one, go now). And I saw A Star Is Born a few years ago, her magnum opus. But I wasn’t a “fanboy,” which I have to say, having watched this documentary and seen snippets of her belting it out in concert, I now proudly am.

Original image: ‘The John Fricke Collection’ | Digital image restoration: Ranse Ransone | Quote: Judy Garland

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Endorsement Monday: Slate’s Culture Gabfest & Linebreak

5 Nov

I’ve recently become obsessed with the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast, which I stream from Stitcher during my interminable car rides to and from work. I’ve become so dependent on this trio of snappy commentators to make my work commute bearable that I become quite surly when I realize that I’ve already listened to this week’s episode.

It’s not just that they talk about things that I’m interested in (recent movies, Internet happenings, cool art, etc). They’ve also thought about what they have to say and found a way to say it that is thoughtful, witty and funny. Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens and Julia Turner are just good eggs who could probably dissect any subject and find something worthwhile to consider about it. And they have the best audio in the podcast business (don’t get me started on the terrible sound of most podcasts – do these people not have friends who can tell them they sound like crap?). Continue reading