Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Real Simple Delicious

Real Simple Delicious by Cook! SF
I recently had a chance to sample some vegan, gluten-free soups from Cook! SF's retail soups and entrees line called Real Simple Delicious. The company is known for their detox meal kits, which, like the packaged soups, are made from whole, organic ingredients local to the Bay Area.

When I was first invited to try their soups, I selected All Bean Chili, French Onion, and Azteca Veggie. Unfortunately, I didn't move quick enough and ended up with other ones as their soups were in such high demand! They were shipped right away and I received them the next day. It was so fast, in fact, that I didn't realize what the package was. Before opening it, I was trying to remember what I had ordered recently. I opened it, still unsure of what it was. When I saw that it was a cooler of some sort, I got scared because my sister started chanting, "Beating heart! Beating heart!" I was so relieved it was my soups, packaged neatly in a little cooler box with an ice pack, all still partially frozen despite sitting in the sun for a couple hours on my porch. And to my delight, I read on their site that Cook! SF has partnered with UPS so their soups ship carbon-neutral. They are a Bay Area Certified Green Business, so all their decisions, from what ingredients to use in their food to how much paper they use in the office, are made with eco-friendliness in mind. Bonus! Read more about their commitment to sustainability here.

I enlisted the help of my boyfriend in reviewing the three soups they sent me, because, besides our differences in regards to durian and guava, we have pretty much the same exact palate. We decided to stick to vegetarian and made buna-shimeji mushrooms and rice to go with our soups. By the way, Cook! SF, thank you for providing me with an easy date night! ^_^

Real Simple Delicious Real Simple Delicious Real Simple Delicious
The first one we had was Thai Green Curry. I had tried this one at the Taste Pavilion in San Francisco last November where I first learned of Real Simple Delicious. While I am not a fan of Thai curries (I just don't love coconut, I'm sorry!), it was much better than I remembered. Despite having been frozen for three months, due to their packaging methods (which you can learn about here), the veggies were actually still crunchy. It could have been a little saltier but this is coming from someone who puts garlic salt on anything and everything. The package recommends serving it over rice, which I did find provided the thicker texture that I tend to look for when eating curry.

Real Simple Delicious
Next was the tomato soup, which can be served out of the bag hot or cold, but in this case, we decided on hot. I really enjoyed this one because it tasted like my mom's tomato soup. My first thought was that the texture was kind of like canned crushed tomatoes but less thick and there were lots of other flavors. I love love love garlic and this had plenty of it. It was a little watery for a soup you would, say, dip a grilled cheese into but, once again, served over rice, it was perfecto.

Real Simple Delicious
The last soup we tried was zucchini. This one is really great standalone soup. It was the only one I didn't really want to eat with rice because it seemed to make it sweet and distracted from the soup's flavor. It was very flavorful and thick, tasting like corn and celery more than zucchini, but then again, do you ever really taste zucchini? The celery was a tad stronger than the other ingredients as it can often be, but it's another flavor I love so I'm not complaining. It was quite a bit more exciting than the other two soups.

The soups were all quick and easy to prepare. Just open the bag and plop it into a pot, even if it's frozen. Taste-wise, I'd probably say my fave was the tomato. My favorite soup that my mom makes is her tomato soup so I am a little biased. I imagine this one still being pretty tasty if served cold too. But if I were to go to the store on the hunt for soup, I'd totally go for the zucchini.

Real Simple Delicious
By the way, I also tried them with some mushroom and brown rice crackers I picked up at Woori Market. Let's just say I regretted buying them. They didn't go with the soups.. or any other foods in existence, really. Don't worry, Cook! SF doesn't sell these.

If you would like to learn more about these soups and Cook! SF's detox kits, please pay their website a visit. There is a promotion on Real Simple Delicious soups, which I am excited to let you know they also now sell online on top of selling at stores local to their headquarters in Oakland, which can be found here. For the rest of April, the soups are 20% off per order when you buy online with promo code APRILSOUP13. I've also caught wind of a name change this summer. The founder Nona Lim stands behind her products so much that she has decided to change the brand to NonaLim. The packaging looks great but I will be sad to see their cute tag lines go (for example, "Ingredients so pure you can bring them home to Mom").

And if you could, please vote for them to win a Nexty Award from New Hope Media before May 3rd! They have been nominated for their commitment to shaping the natural products world. Just click the button next to Cook! SF (nonalim soups) and hit "Submit"!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Just letting you know...

that I am still here. :)

And that 2012 proved to be a wonderful year, particularly the latter half. To many more adventures in 2013!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Charity:Water Birthday Wish

Photo courtesy of Taras Kalapun

Water makes up about 60% of the human body. That is a lot. It is something we need to live and something we often take for granted since it's so readily available to most of us. According to water.org, 884 million people in the world lack access to clean water, which is almost three times the population of the United States. That's about 1 out of 9 people.

This year, I decided to pledge my birthday to try to provide access to clean water to at least 250 people. Why? Because they need it. I don't need presents. I would prefer that people put their money towards freshwater projects instead so they can help people fulfill their most basic needs. In honor of turning 25 this Friday, I would like to kindly request that you donate $25 (or more if you so choose!) to my Charity: Water birthday campaign. Just $20 provides access to fresh water to one person and 100% of the proceeds go to projects! If you miss my birthday, don't worry. The campaign will go on for another 40ish days.

Please watch this video or read "Why Water?" on the Charity: Water website for more information on why this cause is so important!

Thank you! :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012


During a recent conversation, my partner-in-crime and I couldn't come up with a verb for our upcoming plans. We settled on "archerizing." Is there a verb for doing archery? If there is, please tell me. Otherwise, archerizing, it is.

Being an archer has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I have always had this obsession with making things out of other things, or, as one might call it, I don't know, "crafting." I learned from the movie Gremlins that you could make pretty great bows and arrows out of simple things like office supplies. I proceeded to try it myself but my dad got mad at me for wasting his paperclips and rubberbands. I would still do it at school sometimes but I had to keep it on the DL because that sort of thing would get you in trouble or land you in therapy.

When I was in the fourth grade, we learned about Native Americans and how resourceful they were. I was fascinated by how they could turn things found in nature into tools. I of course brought this new fascination home with me. This was also the year I learned that crumpling up paper really well gives it a soft texture, beginning my obsession with paper crafts.. but that is a different story.

There was this tree in my front yard that grew fruit that looked like boysenberries but they were green. I can't remember what the fruit is called but it was so good! Anyway, it had a bunch of undergrowth so I would use the heftier young branches--twigs, really--to make my bows and arrows. The routine went something like this: After removing a branch from the tree with much difficulty, I would peel off the bark, twist it up, and tie it back onto the branch. Voila, a bow. I would then take another branch and sharpen it with a combination of grinding it against the cement floor, a brick wall, and rocks. After that, I'd give up on making more arrows because it was so tiresome. They were pretty awesome if you wanted to shoot within a five-foot radius. Obviously, I was proud of them. Otherwise, why would I be telling you this story?

There were a bunch of reasons I wanted to archerize, like watching Odysseus be the only person who could string his bow in the TV movie The Odyssey, and then, of course, there was that hottie Legolas in Lord of the Rings, who later reprised his role in Troy under the moniker "Paris." For some reason, I just never thought I could do it. Not that I couldn't physically do it but that I didn't think it was very easy to just go somewhere and learn it. But apparently, it is..


Enter Pasadena Roving Archers. This archery range is open to the public on Saturdays. They provide you with all the equipment and your first lesson is free. They warn you about two things before you start. The first is if you don't want to get addicted, you should just leave. And it's so true. The moment I shot my first arrow, I was already dreaming about my future as an Olympian. The second thing they warn you about is that they will not be able to turn you into an Olympian. Hm.

I know, I'm totally nerding out over this, but I really like that it is a relaxing competitive (if you choose for it to be) sport, where you don't have to overexert yourself, you can take your sweet time, and it's not as frightening and stressful as shooting a gun (Yeah, I am prepared for the zombiepocalypse). See you all in Rio de Janeiro in 2016!

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Pinteresting Way to Save Space

Earlier last year, I began to use this little site called Pinterest. It seems after Alt Summit, everyone and their mom is pinning.

But when I first started, it was such an exciting and sort of novel thing. It was like Delicious but visual! I could "pin" things and remember what they were and why I wanted to remember them because it wasn't just text but also an image. I got so excited that after an afternoon of pinning, I made my own toolbar button on Firefox. Even though Pinterest so kindly offers the "Pin it" bookmarklet on their website, having a netbook with a 10-inch screen means I need to conserve space wherever I can, so anything helps.

Here is my Firefox browser with the bookmarks toolbar:

Here it is enlarged. Because I use Delicious and don't really need Firefox bookmarks, the Pinterest bookmark was the only link on the toolbar. Waste of prime real estate!

Here is my browser without the bookmarks toolbar. Suddenly the object in the photo looks more cart-y! Unfortunately, it makes Domo less recognizable in the top right corner. A price must be paid for space.

So here is the button I made! It works exactly the same as the bookmark but better...

Because I made the colors inverted when you hover over it. :)

I wasn't quite clever enough to realize there was a pretty favicon already made up for you to use. Instead I went through the trouble of doing a print screen (back when Pinterest's favicon used to be black) and editing it and then inverting the colors, etc. Please don't sue me!

So without further ado, here is the tutorial to make a custom toolbar button for Firefox. It's pretty easy but if you know some HTML or Javascript, it'll be easier!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Technology and Me

I have been on a Gmail organizing binge! While going through old e-mails and junk, I found this draft I saved from July 2008. I don't know why I saved it there but it was saved with the intention of blogging it:
I have yet to settle in at home again, since I haven't stayed home for a whole day yet and it is far too hot to do anything productive. Unfortunately, this does not affect my ability to destroy electronics. While trying to look up the Seven Deadly Sins to prove Daryl wrong (I was right, btw), I seemed to have broken my sister's computer just by pushing the power button. It's probably time for me to revert back to paper and pencil. I probably shouldn't even use a calculator. Seems too risky. Sadness.
Electronics are still not all too fond of me..

Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter Break

For the first time in my life, I was paid while taking a winter break, which was the cherry on top of a pretty good year.

As much as I love making money to sit around in my Forever Lazy, sometimes it makes me feel like a waste of space. Luckily, there was a wonderful balance of Lazy-ing and playing. Here is what happened over break in a nutshell (which unfortunately ended too soon on January 3):

I saw babies:
IMG_7150 IMG_7149
IMG_7161 IMG_7213
IMG_7148 Wowser Bowser
Okay, Bowser's not a baby, but he's just so cute!

Went to Disneyland:

And Disney's California Adventure:


Made beer that I will be bottling soon:
Mr. Beer

Went to my dear friend Heren's wedding shower...
Wedding shower Wedding Invitation
...where I received the cutest, craftiest wedding invitation I have ever seen and ever will see.

Found out later that night that another dear friend got engaged!!
Anna's engaged!!
Here's the story: We were told Anna would be late to our annual secret santa dinner/gift exchange because she was having some kind of "family emergency." When she arrived, Wendy asked how her family emergency was. Anna, sternly, says, "I don't know.." and sticks out her arm. Our immediate collective reaction is, OMG Anna's mom beat her! which she would totally not do, but since none of us have had to make this announcement before, Anna being the first to get engaged, this seems to be a more logical explanation for her making this gesture. We then noticed the amazing vintage rock on her finger and proceeded to make a bunch of congratulatory loud noises (aka FREAKING OUT) that disturb our neighbors at the restaurant we are having dinner at. I was her secret santa but all my gifts were completely overshadowed by the news!

I also did some barhopping in DTLA with H.C., Andy and Connie, which is when I came to the conclusion that my sister is a hipster hoarder. That was pretty much my break!

Happy 2012!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Public transit--not just for us commoners

There are so many famous people who go on and on about being kind to the environment, offering tips upon tips on what to do to be green. This has always made me wonder.. How come I never have celebrity sightings on the Metro? Sure, there were plenty who were the firsts to get Prii (Plural of Prius. I totally called this in one of my linguistics assignments!) and I'm sure plenty of them even traded those in for the all-electric Nissan Leaf, but it still does not beat taking public transportation since they are probably driving alone and using gas/electricity most likely created from fossil fuels. Besides, look at this image I saw on The Source:

Even if all those cars were eco-friendly automobiles, the amount of traffic they would create versus public transit is cuh-razy.

Update: There are even better infographics here! From the 20s!

So, besides my brief brush with fame on a bus (ahem, John Scott), no sightings of celebrities taking public transportation were had (until recently!), despite there being a bus line that drops you off right across from Los Angeles Center Studios, where they film plenty of stuff like the Voice, Mad Men (which is totally being shot right now), and who could forget Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2? I decided to Google "celebrities taking public transit." The first link that comes up is a list called "19 Celebs Who Aren't Too Good for Public Transportation." Unfortunately, all these sightings are in New York. I wanted to see something at least in California, since we're supposed to be at the forefront of environmentalism. But the second link that comes up is a piece called "The Rise of the Bus-Riding Celebrity," which is about Vincent Kartheiser, otherwise known as Pete Campbell from Mad Men.
Image from GOOD

He is proof that there are famouses who take the bus. In fact, he is completely car-less. He mentions that he enjoys taking it slow and taking the bus gives him time to work on his lines instead of being stressed out in traffic. I totally agree! Just replace "working on lines" with "reading e-books."

Siel of greenLAgirl also wrote a piece on Seamus Dever (Detective Ryan) of Castle fame, who rides his bike to work and advocates using public transit. Castle is one of my favorite shows so I have since then been on the lookout for him to no avail.

What prompted me to write about this, though, was my recent Metro sighting of the ultimate eco celeb, Ed Begley, Jr., the man who makes his toast with bicycle power! I thought it was so appropriate for my first public transit sighting. But, to be honest, I'm always so busy trying not to make eye contact with crazies on the train that I probably wouldn't have noticed him had Tom not said something. For all I know I am on the train with famous people all the time but am afraid to look up for fear of being forced to donate money to that gypsy family with the accordion.

It's obvious why celebrities wouldn't take the the train when they can afford to be driven in the privacy of their very own spent vegetable oil-powered vehicles, where they won't be bothered by the aforementioned gypsies or adoring fans. But think about it, famous people, paparazzi may not want to shell out the $1.50 to stalk you and if they follow you without paying they'll most definitely be slapped with a fine. You are also less likely to get in a car accident from being trailed too closely. Plus, it'll up your environmental street cred.

Taken at the Hollywood and Vine Metro Station

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hooray for hats!

This past week I finally finished a project that has been on hold for a couple years...

Pillbox hat

Once upon a time about two years ago, Meeshella and I got the idea in our heads to make fun vintage looking hats. She got very resourceful and made one with a ceramic plate. I was extremely impressed. She was under pressure to finish since she actually had an event in mind to wear it to. I, on the other hand, was just making one for the sake of making one so it remained unfinished for years because I never got around to deciding on the embellishments.

Michelle got the hat base at a craft store. We went to a fabric store near our apartment in Westwood where I just bought some plain black fabric I found in a bargain bin. I don't remember if the lace was in there too or if I actually splurged on it because it felt so nice. Either way, I probably made Michelle rub the lace on her face because, man, it feels awesome. A late night trip was also made to a 24-hour WalMart for feathers and other pretty things. The actual hat construction is a bit of a blur. My best crafting moments in college happened in the middle of the night when I was completely out of it and unaware of what I was doing anymore. How I got the lace to stay on the black fabric, I do not know.

Anywho, last week, I decided it was time to finish it. I think I got inspired because I want to wear a hat to Heren's wedding in March. I went to a craft store last weekend to grab some flower making supplies, only to realize when I got home that I already had them because apparently I got the idea in my head to make paper flowers last year too. I whipped out my copy of Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts and made the flower above. Actually, I made a peony first but things got out of hand. The flower became huge and kind of stuck out funny. This was very upsetting since it took me all week and a lot of floral tape to make. I then went back to my original plan of making simple bubble-petaled flowers and it worked out quite nicely, if I may say so myself.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

R.I.P. Amy Winehouse

This morning as I was watering my balcony garden, Tom peeked out the window and told me Amy Winehouse was just found dead in her London home. It felt like one of those movie moments where I freeze mid-pour and my plants drown. But I would never do such a thing to my plants, nor would I be able to bring myself to waste so much water. I was, however, extremely shocked then overcome with sadness. She is one of my favorite singers. I am upset mostly because she passed at such a young age and never got a chance to get her act together for a full-on comeback. I have been rooting for her for years, waiting for her to get and stay clean, hoping she would realize she could only push herself so far.

Yeah, yeah, everyone's talking about the 27 Club. I had just learned about it earlier this year on my visit to the Grammy Museum so that was one of the first things I thought too. It's unfortunate that there have been so many musicians that died at that point in there lives, but I guess your body can only take so much and at that point you either wake up and change your habits or keep pushing yourself further. Perhaps they lived recklessly but they were also passionate.

In my opinion, Ms. Winehouse was one of the most talented singers of my time. Her soulful voice, her ability to transform her heartache and pain into amazing music, and her great signature beehive will surely be missed. I'll never fully understand what she went through but at least now she doesn't have to suffer anymore. Rest in peace, Amy.

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Valerie (my fave). Kinda loud so you might want to turn down your volume.
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