Gobble, gobble! In 2010, we are thankful for ...

Happy Thanksgiving!
[Thanksgiving at Rupert's parents' house: November 25, 2010
back row: Rupert's grandparents
front row L to R: Rupert, (crazy looking) Ian, Rupert's brother A, Maya, Rupert's sister L]

Maya, what are you thankful for? "My world."
What should Mama be thankful for?

What is Ian thankful for?

What is Daddy thankful for?
"His mom."

Ian, what are you thankful for? "Netflix for Wii, our home, my books, my DS."
What do you think Mama is thankful for?
"Your computer?"
What do you think Maya is thankful for?
"TV, her family, her bed, her toys."
What do you think Daddy is thankful for?
"Finishing his final."

Rupert, what are you thankful for? "I don't know yet."
What do you think Ian is thankful for?
"Video games."
What do you think Maya is thankful for?
What do you think yucaree is thankful for?

What am I thankful for? "I'm thankful for a daughter who wakes up in a good mood, a smartypants son & a husband who can't say "no" to me."
What do I think Ian is thankful for?
"Video games and his buddies."
What do I think Maya is thankful for?
"Sparkly things, preferably in bead or sticker form."
What do I think Rupert is thankful for?
"What little peace and quiet he can get."


'Cause I only blog when there's something in it for me, I mean, my family

Cathy Zielske shared a TodaysMama/GameStop giveaway and there are at least three members of this family who could find fifty things (minimum) at that store we would want to buy. So filling out this meme seemed like the least I could do if it means a chance at a Chanumas (that's Christmas + Chanukah if you're not aware) surprise.

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family? I wish for time with family and not so much emphasis on the material stuff. It would be wonderful if my children also gained better insight into the true meaning of giving.

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition? We go to my parents' house because that's where the chimney is and we all know Santa likes to come down the chimney.

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be? Free time; I want "me time" ... or a decadent family vacation to Spain.

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money? Luckily, we live near our families, which means we get to spend a good portion of our winter vacation with family.

5. What games did you play with your family growing up? Hmm, good question. I don't recall ... Yahtzee?

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood? We have Christmas Eve dinner at my parents' house (usually prime rib with my mother's fabulous Yorkshire pudding) and open one present.

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip? I would probably want to take my family back to Japan. There's enough of a Christmas feel (and wintery cold) and we'd be around my extended family.

8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? Xbox 360 250GB with Kinect (of course); Nintendo DSi XL Plus One Bundle; Rock Band 3 Keyboard Bundle


Looky What I Made :: Gathered Clutch

To round out my crafting-for-BIL's-wedding urge, I made a purse using Noodlehead's gathered clutch tutorial. It is really quite cute and not as hard as it looks to make (like I've said before, I'm not much of a sew-er). Sure, it took me most of the day to sew, and I really should've been working on the wedding programs, but it was totally worth it :: it matches my dress, the materials cost less than $8 (with fabric left over), and it's big enough to hold most of the stuff I need for the evening.

I included the optional divider pocket and card holder; I like having compartments for all of my stuff. I modified the card holder so it has one wider pocket for my iPhone (sideways) and another pocket that's big enough for a credit card/key card (or lipstick for those who are so inclined). With the divider I have space for my point-and-shoot camera and a change holder.

I'm glad I bought more fabric to make another one for the fall; it's going to be brown with a retro-looking apple and pear fabric for the band across the middle.


Looky What I Made :: Ian's necktie

Rupert's brother is getting married next weekend in Sebastopol; the entire family (especially the bride's mother) has been working up a storm to pull off what is, no doubt, going to be a phenomenal wedding. Rupert is a groomsman, I'm the stationer, Maya is the flower girl, and Ian is the (quite possibly the world's oldest) ring bearer.

My mother-in-law took Ian shopping for a necktie but they weren't able to find anything in the wedding colors. So I decided to get a little ambitious and make one. After what seemed like forever at Joann looking at fabric, Ian and I decided on a dark brown with some pink and fuschia circles -- just right for the wedding without overwhelming the bridal ensemble with too much more pink (the flowers, bridesmaid dresses, and the groomsmen's ties are fuschia).

I made the tie using the Purl Bee's tutorial, which was really easy to follow. Believe you me I am not an expert sew-er but I managed to hand-sew the tie in a day. I believe the tutorial is for a boy younger than Ian (who is almost 10), but I think it's just long enough. If you're thinking about using the tutorial I wouldn't make it for a boy taller than 4'8" without making adjustments to the pattern.

And I managed to figure out how to tie a tie (this tutorial helped); at least now I know I can tie a basic four-in-the-hand tie if called to do so.

[I'll post pictures of Ian wearing the tie after the wedding.]



Friday night, 6pm.

Rupert and the kids went camping in Long Beach for the night so I went out with my "local BFF," Sidney. Since I rarely get out of the house for grown-up socializing, I had no idea what to do. Sidney emails me the link to Wurstküche in Downtown. Sausages :: what's not to love?

Wurstküche is practically next door to where I worked over 10 years ago. Gosh, east of Alameda has changed quite a bit since then. The restaurant (and its prices) definitely embodies the yuppification of that area.

What I ate :: Rabbit, Veal & Pork seasoned with white wine ($7.50); Klein (small) Belgian Fries with Bleu Cheese Walnut and Bacon dipping sauce ($3.50); Nesbitt's Peach Soda ($3.50); Toasted Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwich ($4.50), not pictured.

I really wanted to like the place. Fancy sausages, french fries with dipping sauces, and fun sodas (I'm not much of a drinker so I like having alternatives) are right up my alley. You'd think this place fits the bill perfectly. Unfortunately, I can't give Wurstküche a hearty two thumbs up (sorry Sidney).

My suggestion? If you want to actually taste the sausage, skip the bun and push whatever toppings you order off to the side. The rabbit, veal, and pork sausage I ordered is mild to begin with; the sauteed onions and peppers totally overwhelmed the flavor of the meat. I could've been eating who-knows-what-in-a-casing and it would have tasted the same as my $7.50(!) fancy sausage. Frankly, the bratwurst I buy at Bristol Farms for $3.50 a pound is tastier and juicier, and there are sausages that are way better than Bristol Farms'. So that should tell you where I rank Wurstküche's sausage. (Sidenote :: as we were leaving the restaurant, I noticed a bumper sticker on the store next door proclaiming Wurstküche over-priced and over-hyped and I might have to agree.)

I gotta say, though, the fries were quite tasty -- just the right amount of crisp, creamy, and salty. But next time (if there is a next time) I'll choose a different dipping sauce; the bleu cheese, walnut, and bacon sauce didn't taste like any of those things. The Nesbitt's soda wasn't anything to write home about; the fake peach flavor, crazy pink color, and the $3.50 price tag weren't worth it. Bad choice on my part. They do have a big selection of beers that sound interesting ... anyone want to comment on the selection, flavor, and price of the beers?

The one thing I would write home about (if I had to) is the sole dessert they serve, an apple pie ice cream sandwich (with oatmeal raisin cookies). Yes, it's $5 and it wasn't big enough to share (well, I didn't share), but it's the one thing I'd consider going back for (but I probably won't).

We ended our Downtown jaunt at Yogurtland in Little Tokyo. Sidney is a big fan (it's her one dairy indulgence now that she's going dairy-(almost)-free) and I'd never been so it seemed like the right dessert to have. Uh, yeah, my second dessert. Considering all the money I spent on dinner (and first dessert) I'm definitely more enthusiastic about the $3.10 I spent on a fairly decent-size portion of all kinds of fruity yogurt with mango and mochi toppings. Is Yogurtland over-hyped? Maybe (I'm no frozen yogurt expert). But it's definitely not over-priced (the constant line of people in the store proves that).

There happens to be a Yogurtland down the street from my house (even closer than Pinkberry) so I know where I'll be going from now on for my fro-yo fix (Rupert thinks the term "fro-yo" is stupid ... it probably is but I use it anyway).

Wurstküche :: 800 East 3rd Street, LA 90013 | 213.687.4444 | www.wurstkucherestaurant.com
Yogurtland :: 130 South Central Avenue, LA 90012 | 213.687.0733 | www.yogurt-land.com


five years

Oh, wow ... I haven't blogged since the end of March! Uh, hmm, I guess I didn't have much to say these last four months. And, once again, I missed my blogiversary; August 10 marks five years since I started writing this blog. Despite my recent absence I still care about having my own personal space to write and share stories about my family and myself, so I don't envision this blog shutting down. I just need some inspiration + time to write about something new. Hopefully that'll happen sooner rather than later.


Playing tourist in my hometown

Running errands with my mom in Downtown LA (she dragged me along so she could drive in the carpool lane!), we decided to ride the newly reopened Angels Flight.

It's quite cute and pretty rickety, but well worth the 25-cents.

While I was at it I took a picture of the view from (500) Days of Summer ::

Now, to get my hair cut ... I deserve something for hanging out with my mom on my week off, right?


Ian is a S-U-P-E-R S-P-E-L-L-E-R!

Ian + his classmate F
[Ian and his classmate F getting recognized as spelling bee qualifiers at last week's school assembly.]

I'd like to take a moment to brag about my son, the speller. Unbeknownst to us, the students at Ian's school (grades 3-5) took a written spelling bee qualifying test awhile back. According to Ian there were 60 words on the list (apparently they were 8th grade-level words) and they were allowed to miss 12 to qualify for the district spelling bee. There were many classes that didn't have any students who qualified; Ian's class had two qualifiers! In the end, three fourth graders and four fifth graders qualified out of a student population of over 400.

Today was the district-wide spelling bee for grades 4-6, so the qualifiers from Ian's school, the qualifiers from the other elementary school, and the 6th grader qualifiers from the middle school gathered together at the middle school library. There were about 15 kids there and we thought it would take awhile for the spelling bee to finish, but the first round knocked out more than half of them.

Round 2
[Round 2]

Ian moved through the rounds (with a nice, clear voice, which was helpful to those of us in the audience; some of these kids are so quiet!) until it was just him and a 6th grader in round 4.* The word that knocked him out in round 5 (German words)? Rucksack. Not knowing the word or much German pronunciation, but recognizing that there are words in German that use -ch, he spelled it "ruchsach." I looked it up after I got home, but I think the German -ch is a soft sound (if there's anyone proficient in German out there, please let me know).

Even though he didn't win, I think it's pretty impressive that he made it so far, especially since he didn't study or practice at all, except for his usual reading. Rupert and I went into this with the attitude, which we shared with Ian, that this was for fun, to see what a spelling bee is like, and that there will be other years for him to try again (not that I didn't get nervous during the spelling bee!). Still, Ian was disappointed with his mistake and shed a few tears afterward. It was wonderful to have a supportive group of teachers and friends who shared how proud they are of him and his classmate. This was the first year fourth graders participated in the district spelling bee and they did so well.

We're really proud of you, Ian!

Ian with his teachers, classmate, and principal
[Ian with his teachers, principal, and classmate/fellow spelling bee-er after the spelling bee.]

[Coincidentally, the winner's mother? I came in second to her in the fitness challenge two years ago. Weird, huh?]

* Ian did a funny thing in round 4 and asked for the pronunciation of the word "chagrin" and the moderator gave away a huge hint, which I'm not sure Ian heard but a bunch of us in the audience did. I'm not sure it was entirely kosher, to be honest, but the end result was the same, just one round later. Ian should've asked for the definition or the etymology, but what more can you do for pronunciation but say the word over again?


Taking a break from blogging

As if you hadn't noticed, my blog postings are few and far between. I'm just too busy with other stuff and I don't have a whole to say right now. So I'm going on a blog hiatus until the itch to write comes back.

In the meantime, feel free to follow me on twitter (see sidebar) or tumblr (yucaree.tumblr.com).

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