Friday, December 28, 2007

San Francisco for Christmas

I was so looking forward to being back in sunny warm California for Christmas! Although most of the trip was cold and dreary (even colder than New York!) it was great to see family and friends, and to drive again!!

Paul and I spent some time at my old haunts in the Mission and SOMA. (Of course, we had to get Mexican food... mmmmmmmmmmmm.)

We spent a long time at one of my favorite stores, Paxton Gate and bought an air plant .

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Peking Duck House Banquet

A big Chinese feast, complete with Peking Duck was enjoyed in the company of good friends for Paul's 30-something birthday...

The banquet menu:
-Soup: Assorted sizzling rice soup

-4 appetizers:
fantail shrimp
chicken soon (??)
vegetable spring rolls
steamed dumplings

-7 Entrees:
2 Peking ducks
twin lobsters with ginger and scallions
house steak
prawns w/ chili sauce
chicken w/ orange flavor
mixed vegetables
homemade noodles (long life noodles!)

-Dessert: fried bananas w/ walnuts

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nothing To Declare

Not that I'm not busy enough, but I have also started writing for a webzine Nothing To Declare started by Jacki, a former coworker of mine. Ironically, I took over for her when she moved to Spain to teach and write, and then I moved to Japan to teach... They used to joke that desk was cursed... wonder how long my replacement lasted after me?!?

The mission statement: Nothing to Declare is a webzine started in November 2007 in Madrid, Spain. It is inspired by the unique experiences that occur when one is traveling or living away from one’s home. We look for original voices to bring these experiences to the masses.

My first and second postings.

Check them out!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Speaking of crafty....

It's a cardboard safari- a laser-cut cardboard deer puzzle!

(Are antlers still in?)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Crafty Christmas

I am no scrooge or grinch, but after coming back from Japan, I've realized that I don't "need" a lot of things to make me happy... Not that I didn't know that before, but living without a flushing toilet and heat and "diversity" really made me rethink my "needs" vs. "wants".

This past Christmas season was very difficult for me to digest- there was so much hoopla with all the shopping and gifting and receiving that I was almost disgusted, disappointed with what the holiday season really means. In New York, there were the standard holiday tourists (it seemed like there were so much more- maybe because foreigners can get so much for the low dollar) and the streets were clogged with shopping bags and chaotic frenzy.

My sense of "Christmas" came back when Vel suggested that a small group of us have a "Crafty Christmas" party- we all picked names secretly and each one of us had to "craft" a present for their chosen person. With all of our busy schedules, coming up with a creative present that we HAD to make ourselves seemed daunting... so we were given the option of buying something that the other person could make on their own. All of us impressively came through!

On a mid-December evening, we got together for the "Crafty Christmas Party". Even the dinner was crafty- Vel cooked my Corona Turkey, while the rest of us provided homemade appetizers, sides, and desserts. I was blown away by the awesome things that each person gave/made/created. It sounds corny, but with such good friends (and good food), it was probably one of the BEST times I have had in New York, possibly top 5 in my life!

Suraj hand-sewed this super cool handbag for Beena:

Beena's first several attempts at being crafty didn't work out, so she ended up getting me a white ceramic bowl and gift card to Color Me Mine so that we could be crafty together while painting our own pieces.

I made Vel a pair of gold earrings and since she had recently taken a bag/purse making class, I got her wooden purse handles for her to make a new bag.

Vel made probably my favorite present of all- a huggable sushi- shaped pillow for Wendy! The funny thing is Wendy's last name "Meguro" is similar to the "maguro" tuna that was on the sushi!

Wendy's sewing skills impressed us all with her colorful printed bag for Kim:

Kim made a really beautiful necklace for Giuli:

Despite being 8 1/2 months pregnant, Giuli made it out and etched a wine glass and mirror for Liza:

Liza's gift card for Suraj was solely for him to buy a crafty book from Barnes and Noble...

Funnily enough, Paul and Han got each other- Paul painstakingly made one of his awesome quirky "robot" drawings for robot-fan Han, with a hidden message inside:

Han's gift is forthcoming for Paul- since he's working on the new Trump highrise in Soho, he has promised to make a concrete bowl made out of the "Trump concrete"!! Can't wait to see it!!!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Museum!

The much hyped about New Museum finally opened in the Lower East Side on Dec. 1!! I was really excited because my firm who I had worked with before going to Japan had built it, and it was a really interesting project by SANAA architects. Actually, it's the first art museum ever constructed from the ground up in downtown Manhattan! There is a pretty cool time lapse video of the building construction on the New Museum's website.

Standing in the depths of the foundation pouring a couple years ago...

It's also about 3 blocks away from my apartment, in the "gritty" Lower East Side. When I first moved to New York, the area was still emerging as this hip, underground area, lots of dirty little bars and small boutiques and cafes (and pretty much the only neighborhood I could afford). Now it's inundated with bars, expensive restaurants and loud drunk kids on the weekends. I'm not opposed to change- but I guess it's weird to be part of such a drastically changing neighborhood. This building is supposed to symbolize this change- a new growth in the formerly rough and tumble neighborhood of kitchen supply stores and colorful residents.

Admission to the museum on opening day was free for like 24 hours, but you had to apply for tickets online beforehand so that they could stagger the guests on half hour intervals. Wendy, Sean, Midori, Ahmed, Paul and I went to brunch before at Cafe Charbon- the wonderful little French bistro across the street from my house (and downstairs from Wendy) and trooped over the museum as the architect/design geeks that we are. It was packed with other architect/design geeks, and not surprisingly, I ran into several other people I had gone to architecture school with in California!

From far away, it looks like a bunch of gray boxes stacked on top of each other, but when you get up close, you realize that there is a layer of sharp aluminum mesh screen covering the building. Seeing the neighborhood through the screen was pretty wild- like a super slick chain link fence.

One of the highlights was that the top floor, an event space with 270 degree views of downtown Manhattan, had been transformed into a pumping music, neon lighted, candy station for all (sponsored by Target). There were piles of white paper bags for guests to fill from the drawers overflowing with candy! I think the sugar was to fuel us for the grueling 7 stories we were walking up and down in the emergency stairs to all the galleries (the museum was so packed that there was a long wait for the elevators)!

* s * n * o * w *

They warned us, they told us to stay in...

They said we'd get a foot of snow overnight.

Stay off the roads! BEWARE!!!

I was excited to look out of Paul's window in the morning...

It barely snowed.