Archive for December, 2008

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christmas dinner in the park (pasadena)

December 25, 2008

christmas dinner in the park
the union station homeless services
825 east orange grove blvd.
pasadena, ca 91104
(626) 240-4550

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eversince i found out about this, i’ve wanted to volunteer at the union station homeless services at pasadena for their thanksgiving dinner in the park event, but couldn’t make it, so i made sure i would make it to their christmas event instead. i talked my friend into going with me (i must confess, i’m not fond of ‘long’ drives :p), and though he didn’t quite enjoy the experience as much as i did, but afterall, it was his first time ever volunteering (more so why i wanted to take him along :p).

the event was supposed to take place at the park, but it started to drizzle in the morning and the event was relocated back to the union station homeless service center instead. abit crowded then, but i don’t think any of us minded at all, a day of giving is a day of giving regardless of where. :)

due to the limited space at the center, and the huge number of volunteers showing up regardless of the rain, after lining up to register, we had to wait in line again to go inside in groups. while in line, *blushed* i was interviewed by an asian media, but when they asked to have my photo taken for the article after the interviewed was done, i declined but i did give them only my last name. :p it really isn’t about getting any recognitions or praises for volunteering. there are so much sadness and so many people who need help in this world, that i truly believe that each one of us can make a difference, no matter how big or how small, in our own ways, within our abilities, to make this world a little bit better to be in. growing up, seeing how much my dad had given back to his families, his communities, his country, and even to strangers…has, as a child, implanted this strong believe in me that life is truly about loving and giving.

so, when it was our turn to go inside to help out, i was very happy and went straight to ‘work’. :) we got in line at the buffet table where a group of volunteers would serve the food on the plates we were then to serve to the ‘homeless’ who were seated on the tables. the variety of warm food looked (and smelled) so yummy, i must say! :) there were roast beef, ham, noodles, mashed potatoes, yams, veggies, chicken, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, variety of bread, desserts and many more. after all the meal was served, i helped out in the kitchen to box the rest of the food for anyone who would like to take extras home. there were so much leftover, and it was quite upsetting to see when so much food went to waste, especially when organizations have been saying how much less donations they’ve gotten as of late and how desperate they are for more donation.

anyway, with the economy downturn this year, many people who aren’t ‘homeless’ also took advantage of this wonderful event bringing their children in to enjoy a warm and lovely meal. everyone got to take home with extras… e.g. boxes of warm meals, bottled water, sodas, etc., and all the kids got to take polaroid photos with a santa claus and took home lotsa awesome new toys. it got me teary to see all the kids walked out of the center with a big smile on their faces and in their eyes. i hope i don’t offend anyone by saying this, but you could always tell who the ‘real homeless’ were…not having taken a shower for a long time, etc. i saw alot of them usually sat in the corner, slightly away from the rest. those made my heart ached and tears in my heart. i just wondered what happened to them. and they’re all just as nice, polite, and thankful for these wonderful warm meals. at times, i was so tempted to give them a hug. perhaps next year, i hope i can bring in some hand knitted scarves as christmas gifts for them. i really think it’s very important to give hope to everyone and let them know that they’re cared for as well and there are still warmth in this world.  so, come by and volunteer if you can.  afterall, thanksgivings and christmas are about loving, giving and sharing, no? :)

(the top left photo was taken while we were in line under the rain waiting to go inside the center. the top right was taken inside the center. and the bottom ones were taken inside the dining area at the end of the event and the cleaning up was almost done.)

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starbucks’ gingerbread man cookie (culver city)

December 25, 2008

starbucks (jefferson x centinela location)
12313 jefferson blvd
los angeles, ca 90230
(310) 823-3479
www.starbucks.com-jefferson X centinela

so christmas morning, we were heading to the union station homeless services at pasadena to volunteer for their christmas dinner in the park event. with only a few hours of sleep the night before, and having forgotten to brew my own coffee, we stopped by the nearest starbucks on the way to the 10E. i don’t usually crave for gingerbread at all, but since it’s christmas, i just had to grab one to share on the road. :)

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isn’t the gingerbread man cute? whenever i see one, it always reminds me of the gingerbread man from the candyland board game, and it instantly put a big smile on my face. :)   i can still remember vividly that my mom bought me that cute board game from toys”r”us the very first time i visited the u.s. (specifically san francisco)! :) i had loved all the cute graphics and characters of candyland and imagined that i had shrunk to their size and lived in candyland with them for awhile. i was such a silly girl! :) anyway, this starbucks‘ gingerbread man cookie is actually pretty good. it’s not hard crunchy, but easy to bite into and the aroma of the ginger and cinnamon is not overwhelming. i also like that it’s not overly decorated with the icing. what a nice way to start the day! have a merry christmas, everyone! :)

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unagi + ikura with brown rice (home kitchen)

December 17, 2008

ikitchen
marina del rey, ca 90295
yumyuminthetumtum’s home kitchen

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after a couple of days with a back pain and lost of appetite, i was finally feeling hungry today and made myself a quick and easy dinner for one. easy as i only needed to cook the brown rice. quick as to just slice and heat up the unagi (eel) in the microwave for about 30 seconds, add some ikura on top, squeeze out some wasabi, and voila, dinner was served! :)

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panini coffee & cafe (marina del rey)

December 14, 2008

panini coffee & cafe
4325 glencoe ave., suite 8
marina del rey, ca 90292
(310) 823-4446

(sorry for the blurry pics…all photos on this entry taken by my iphone.)
my friend picked me up for dinner around the neighborhood, and after dinner, we decided to walk around the block before heading home. as we passed by panini coffee & cafe, we looked at each other with a chuckle, and went straight in looking to satisfy our sweet teeth. ;) though they’ve been around for years, but i don’t know why i never gotten a chance to check it out. as we stepped inside, i was immediately attracted by the cute, warm, ‘british cafe’ style atmosphere (though unpretentious, and very pleasant). the server, who just walked out of the kitchen with a dish on his hand, greeted me with a friendly nod and smile. i really love how the cafe is divided into two rooms by a wall in between, which makes the place more cozy, instead of one big spaceous room. there were a variety of desserts and specialty coffee to choose from over the counter, on top of the delicious list on the menu. we were looking at all the choices of desserts that evening, and decided upon a pecan pie, a chocolate cake, and a cafe mocha to share.
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while waiting for our orders, i looked around and checked out their cute decor. there were about two visible servers working behind the counter and one on the serving floor. the staffs are very nice and the guy over the counter apologized for taking so long to get our desserts, but we didn’t mind at all, as the warm atmosphere really put us in a relaxing mood. :)
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my pecan pie was extremely sweet. i didn’t quite enjoy the texture of the fillings. for someone who always finishes her pecan pie, i wasn’t able to.
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my friend had the chocolate cake, and it was yummy! very moist and simply devilicious! :)
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the generous cup of warm cafe mocha was heavenly, and just perfect to warm up a cold evening.
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as we were enjoying our desserts, we caught ourselves paying attention to all the dishes the server brought out, and went “mmm mmm mm” each time he passed by. i really like this place, but it is abit on the pricey side (though the portions are fairly generous). this is a great place where you can either enjoy company of good friends, or would simply feel at home dining alone, perhaps with a good book.

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hotcakes bakes (culver city)

December 9, 2008

hotcakes bakes
4119 centinela avenue
los angeles, ca 90066
(310) 397-2324
mon-sat 9am-7pm
sun 10am-6pm
www.hotcakesbakes.com

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i’ve drove by this place so many times, but never gotten around to drop by until this evening. the first thing that caught my eyes is the beautiful pink and brown colors of their cute “hotcakes bakes” sign. i’m not much of a cupcake fan actually (but i think cupcakes are very cute and pretty and i enjoy looking at them), but once in awhile, i do have an urge to have one. so, after dinner nearby, we decided to check out this little hidden treasure.

once inside, we were both greeted by a friendly lady in a sweet pink “hotcakes bakes” t-shirt. your attention will immediately go to the array of yummy looking cupcakes, macaroons, brownies, freshly baked cookies, canneles, and other sweet desserts on their display counter. behind the counter, it’s an open pastry kitchen, where another lady in the same pink t-shirt was busy working on some yummy desserts. watching her work just even for a minute tempted me to take up some pastry classes. (i hope they will offer some pastry classes, demo, or tasting events in the future. that would be so much fun!) there are only two little cozy half-circle tables if you want to eat in. on each side of the walls, there are newspaper articles about them and celebrity signed photo. along side on the side counters, there are also display of beautiful wedding cakes.

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we finally decided on a cannele ($2), a chocolate mint cupcake ($3), and six macaroons ($2.50 each) in strawberry, chocolate, coconut, pistachio, smores and coffee to go. the cannele is very rich and moist. not only is the chocolate mint cupcake so pretty, but it is as rich and moist on the texture, and the whipped frosting is really smooth and creamy… at first bite, i could immediately enjoy the full fragrant of the mint… mmm :) as for the macaroons, you can never go wrong with those! :) i will definitely drop by again to try the other yummies, especially since it’s so close to my place. they also do catering, so do come by for a treat if you’re in the area! :)

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misasa + china table tokyo hanten (venice)

December 9, 2008

misasa
11am-7:30pm daily

china table tokyo hanten
11am-7:30pm daily

mitsuwa marketplace japanese food court
3760 s. centinela avenue
los angeles, ca 90066
(310) 398-2113
www.mitsuwa.com

(photos on this entry taken by my iphone.)
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straight from LAX, we were too tired to drive around for dinner, and i wanted to do some grocery shopping before heading home, so we decided to have dinner at the mitsuwa marketplace. this is one of the places i frequent for grocery shopping and quick meal with friends at their food court. convenient, fast, cozy, fulfilling. this time, i ordered a beef and tofu don from misasa, and my friend had a burger dinner from china table tokyo hanten.

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the beef and tofu came with a bowl of miso soup, a little tofu cold dish, and a cup of tea. it was statisfying. :) the burger dish came with a little shredded side salad, a patty burger and fried rice, and a cup of clear mushroom soup. this dish is a beyond disappointment… the burger was unacceptably mushy and tasteless. my friend, who isn’t picky on food, couldn’t even finish half of it and was still feeling hungry afterwards. :p