Thursday, December 18, 2008

loveli art

This entry is not about home, but it's still about DIY and it's still art related.

I've always been a little bit shy of my husband calling me an artist. When he told his friend I was an artist, I just shrinked thinking that I'm just someone who makes things around the home, and I can be a little crafty and creative...but not an artist!!! I love to have the glamorous stuff, but I just don't want to pay glamorous price, so I try to make it myself. If I could build a mercedez benz myself, I wouldn't have bought it, I would make it! LOL!!! G just has been sooo supportive and telling me I'm an artist even before I believe it myself!

So I guess we are both DIY artists. Me doing home design, and him doing spoken word. He has been his own manager his whole career, so that's even extra DIY!

He's so proud of me, and even though I don't put it on my blog or say it, I'm so proud of him too. He's not shy about supporting my art, so i shouldn't be shy about supporting his art too.

even though 2008 was not that easy of a year for us, I think all the hard work he has done as an artist has finally starts to pay off this year. An agent approached him this summer and wanted to represent him. He was unsure about it because he likes to do everything himself, but when he saw the kind of celebrity they represent, he decided to do it. They are called American Program Bureau and they seem to like him a lot. Now he has the same agent as Jay Leno, Ellen Degeneres, LL Cool J, Jon Stewart, Nas, Mary J Blige, Spike Lee, and Kim Cattral! It's legit, not one of those guys on the streets who tell you they work for a modeling agency and ask you for a $200 deposit LOL! They already booked him a show at a University in Texas and they took care of him really well.

And while he is a great performer and an entertainer, he is also respected in academics. Last year, Harvard produced a documentary about three artists and he was one of them. But what I love most about him is that he really is the most humblest dude. If you talk to him in person you can have a hard time imagining him onstage and he has a hard time talking about it. and me, I'm less humble. I'm just a BALLER on a BUDGET!

Another thing that happened this year was G was in an independent movie playing a conceited poet. He says he based it on someone he knew but I promised him that i won't say who! We heard that it got accepted into the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival! It's the biggest asian american film festival in the country...hehe...and my man is the star!

One last moment of bragging- He was just invited to teach a college class at UMass Boston next year too! The University asked him to teach a class about story telling, poetry and performance in 2009.

I'm just sooo excited for him!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Green pinkish red and purplish dinner party

Over the past weekend we were invited by Kalianne to attend a holiday party/birthday party in Waltham. The theme of the party was Asian food, so anyone who brought food had to bring something Asian. Those that knows me know this is what I do best! Because I'm really bad at following directions, I'm not good with following recipes - but with Asian food it's best to cook with feeling and love.

I brought Yum Woon Sen, a spicy cold noodle dish with lots of fresh herbs we picked from the garden in our stairwell.

Kalianne may not speak a lot of Khmer but she can hella cook Khmer food LoL!!! She made amok, and I was very impressed with it. And G liked it a lot too...but too bad I don't know how to make it for him! She also made prahok katih, a fermented fish dip with fresh vegetables. Her buddy Sabrina also cooked too, like brussel sprouts that actually tastes good! It was so good, I thought there was meat in it, because you know nothing tastes good without meat!

Check out the dessert...the pictures can speak for itself. Kalliane made most of them, and she is a great baker!

I love how the hostess were very detailed, like the tables were all set so nice, with cut flowers as centerpieces and snowflake doilies hanging from the ceiling.

We are looking forward to the next get-together!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pho soup!!!

In a few days I will go visit these dudes. Can someone tell me why they are sooo greasy? hi Jermaine Jackson!! I love kissing these kids, but I think there mom greases there face as a kiss repellent.

Friday, December 12, 2008

diy menu

this is another project from a while back.

G and I work as creative co-directors for my brothers thai restaurant. last year, we repainted the whole interior with the help of my cousin kunthea in one night using three colors. customers who came in friday or saturday, then came back in on monday were shocked! but we forgot to take pictures of how bad it looked before we painted!

so anyway, this post isn't about that, it's about a more recent project: the menus.

my brother soden who is the owner of the restaurant was going to order new menus because his old ones were so shitty. but it costed like $700 for 25 menus! i thought i heard it wrong, but i confirmed with him that this is actually the cost! so being the frugal person i am, i volunteered the tek-li factory to produce new menus - and he would only have to pay for materials. no labor, what a deal!

I knew I wanted to work with bamboo. it has that raw organic feeling that them folks like. That's just the demographics of our customers.

we found some bamboo place mats, and used them as covers for the menus. but the place mats were too floppy, so i went to broadleaf studios, owned by theresa and sophea for some advice. When I got there, I met with both consultants. They helped solidify a concept. Not only did they helped find a solution to make the place mats stiff by using chipboard, but also recommended using photo corners so that the menu could be easily updated. Thanks Theresa and Sophea for all your help!!

Even though most of the materials were inexpensive, i did not cut corners on paper. I bought exotic paper from the Paper Source for the inside covers. I used different papers so that customers could feel that they're handmade and not all the same.

Giles did the most important piece: he wrote the introduction and rewrote the menu, and formatted it all.

it took a really long time to get them done. but we made 40 menus for less than $300. Our customers thought they were dope! Some even wanted to keep the menu after placing an order so that they can take time to read through. It's good to know that our hard work was appreciated.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DIY dress to apron

one really DIY project i like to do is buying a cheap dress with an interesting pattern and turning it into an apron. funky aprons at anthropologie cost about $30! so why not buy a dress from the clearance rack at forever 21 for $7 and just cut it up?

anthrolopolgie's apron mostly just looks like a cut up dress anyway. they want it to look like it's recycled, but you don't pay a recycled price! all their stuff has that look - as though it's repurposed stuff you find in a thrift shop...which makes it real easy for me to rip off their ideas! LOL!

i think i made this one about a year ago, but iwas going through my old photos and found this - and i wanted to share because i think my model is cute.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Preston Bailey fo cheap!

Happy Holiday everyone!

as a kid, my refugee family never had a real christmas tree during the season. we only had a dinky fake one, and i always dreamed of having a lavish beautiful real tree in my home with ornaments and lights and the wonderful fresh scent all through the house.

but the grinch named G never had a real tree either, and he STILL doesn't want one! he says he doesn't agree with killing a living thing for decoration. last year i disagreed, but this year, i just used it as an opportunity to be creative!

now you all know i like to window shop, but even more i like to sidewalk shop! that means i walk around the neighborhood for old furniture people have thrown away, and that i can freshen up and use again. this time, me and the Grinch walked around the trees in back of our building and picked up a bunch of fallen branches and brought them home.

we spray painted them white, cut them in the appropriate places, and then put them in a tall vase that we used as decoration at our wedding. i cut up some wack garland and turned them into cute little ornaments - AND i put a bird in her nest on one of the branches, because birds have been the theme this year!

i was going after a whimsical look like Preston Bailey - and the result is our own "found" holiday tree that cost us the price of just one spray paint can. AND grinchy G didn't complain about killing a living thing. i'm happy we went through this trouble, because it makes it more special than if we just bought a tree from home depot. we get to have the holiday spirit, but with our own flava!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rockin' & Crochetin'

In a week or so This weekend, my BFF Kay is going to be giving gave birth to her first child! So last month, her girlfriends threw her a shower, but since she lives in LA, I wasn't able to attend.

But I knew I wanted to make her and her baby something as a keepsake, so I took a month to crochet a present for the little one.

I used organic cotton yarn, and I wanted to make sure it wasn't too heavy since she lives on the west coast. and since i wanted the best of the best, i went to the bead store and picked up real pearls! I even looked up the average size of a newborn baby's head and feet to make sure what I crocheted wasn't going to be too big or too small.

After the finished product, i still couldn't believe they would actually fit because they look like the size of doll's clothes!

in addition to the bib, hat, and ballet slippers, i made a pair of mary jane booties too:

i also wanted to give something to the grown ups at the party too. the original idea was to wrap empty toilet paper rolls in pretty paper and put candy inside. cute right? But G brought up that the shower guests are from California and might get grossed out knowing where their party favors had been! so i decided to make a CD full of awesome music instead.

with G's help, i came up with a playlist that I hope is enjoyable for a baby, but I also hope is fun for the parents! Making the CDs and their cases was pretty intense, but it was really worth it because i was so pleased with how they looked when they were done!

here's me hard at work:

and here's the finished product - "Rockin' the Nursery"

The songs on the CD are:

1. The Most Beautiful girl in the World- Prince
2. Playground- Another Bad Creation
3. If you can't say love- Visionaries
4. ABC- Jackson 5
5. Banana Panakes- Jack Johnson
6. Girls just wanna have fun- Cindy Lauper
7. 5 on a joyride- Cody Chestnutt
8. Say After me- Bic Runga
9. Buddy Holly- Weezer
10. Jump-van halen
11. The Sun-Ghostface Killah
12. 99 red balloons-Nena
13. Sweet Caroline- Neil Diamond
14. Day Dream Believer- The Monkees
15. Angers- Robbie Williams
16. Little Star- Madonna

Friday, September 5, 2008

My Little Helpers

My next few blog entries will be retroactive, looking back on projects and events I waned to write about but didn't get a chance to.

This one is about an adventure me and G had the week of July 4th on our way to go shopping. And it happened to be garbage day too! You know what that means, neighbors are throwing out good stuff!

As we were walking, we noticed our neighbor a block away had thrown away what used to be someone's bedroom dresser. But judging by its shape, it doesn't have to be a bedroom dresser. With a couple of changes here and there, it could work in the kitchen or living room or anywhere! We carried it home to use it for a buffet table in our dining room.

It took us a full week to disinfect it. and during that time, we planned how to convert it from a plain old piece into something that fit our decor. (G calls it "his" room since it would look right at home in a Chinese household!)

I knew i wanted to paint it black to fit in with all the black furniture in the dining room already, but something in me wanted to paint the inside of the drawers too. I asked G a million times if he thought it was corny to paint the inside of the drawers to match the room walls, but he just says who's gonna look inside the drawers?

but luckily I had little helpers the following week as three of my sisters kids and my two young cousins came to stay with us. It was so great to have them around to help me paint the buffet table! (JK! it was great to have them around no matter what, but you can't blame me for putting them to work!) We paid the price though, they kicked us out of our bed because it's so "comfty" and we slept in the guest room.

Anyway, they all chipped in and each painted a drawer themselves. it was a big help to say the least! I put Krishna second in command since she is 12, and the biggest of them. The rest were Brandon (10), Pywat (7 at the time, now he's 8), Mealea (6 now, 5 then), and Morodoc (still 3). (look at the littlest guy wearing the yellow shirt in that picture up there, he's almost falling off the bed!)

according to Pywat, kishna is a "pre-teen" and Mealea is a "toddler." i don't know who taught him how to classify kids by their ages. LOL.

And the finished product looked like this:

I'm glad it's cool and "green" to recycle old furniture nowadays. Back in the day, they just called us poor!

Oh and check it out, we got the kids to help clean our floors too!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

affordable healthy eating

Today I went to Russo's with my mother-in-law and father-in-law. This place has now became our favorite store! After introducing it to my father-in-law, he now goes once a week.

Russo's is not like any other grocery store that I have seen, especially on the East Coast. It's produce is fresh and inexpensive. And more important, they have a great variety of fruits and vegetables, including a whole lot of Southeast Asian stuff like sadao (a bitter leafy vegetable), banana blossoms, guava fruits, and green papaya. It also has an awesome selection of cheeses and breads, and the pre-made dishes look yummy, but we haven't tried them because every time we go, we get excited to go home and cook!

Oh, and the Asian produce is not in some separate special "exotic" section like Stop & Shop does "Food of the World." At the mainstream supermarkets, you see people go into the ethnic section and get like a mango and ignore everything else. Those store don't know anything about tropical fruits, I change the prices on Asian fruits like cherimoya to be cheaper since I know the cashier won't know what the heck it is. At Russo's, the Asian produce is just all throughout the store, it's weaved into every section.

Another thing I like about them is that they are a family-owned business, and their staff is very diverse. There are a lot of people of color working there, especially Asian and Latino immigrants, and they are not just stocking the shelves, but they are in management positions too. They are pretty helpful and friendly, and if that's the case, they are probably treated well. At the big supermarkets, staff don't care if you die in the aisle.

There's also a lot of locally grown produce, and that's good for freshness and not using too much gas to transport them. But it also must mean they have good relationships with a lot of local Asian farmers who are growing all these Asian vegetables!

It's good to see that good food is affordable. Lately I feel like only the rich have a right to be healthy. Tv and magazines show a lot of products you can buy to stay healthy, but they all cost so much money, that nobody can really afford them. But the people who shop at Russo's aren't just hipsters, but include immigrants of all colors, mothers with their babies, old Asian ladies, really all people.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wine Review: Les Caves Joseph Bordeaux

This is my first wine review for my blog, and you can expect many more of them in the future. Me and G usually buy and try new bottles of wine 1-3 times a week. I'll post reviews when I remember to.

Tonight's wine:
Les Caves Joseph Bordeaux (2006)
$5.99 at Trader Joe's

For me, one of the best things about drinking wine isn't the first taste of it, but the taste after it leaves your mouth. Sometimes a wine could taste good, but after you swallow it could leave a strong tannin taste. And I would like it less, so it's not just taste in the front, but the whole sip that is important.

After I swirled it for 30 seconds, I took a sip. It has a sharp taste...very tart. And it leaves a strong bitter aftertaste. But the smell doesn't exist after you drink it, almost like you never took a sip in the first place.

It also left no legs on the glass, and it makes me think it is too light.

The smell is a little oaky and alcoholy. Those things can be good for whiskey, but I don't think it's good for wine.

There's nothing spectacular about this wine at all. This is one of the worst wines we've ever drank. Maybe it's better to use it to marinade meat.

Rating: 2 (of 10)

(G's review: Tastes surprisingly damp. Would be best paired with like meat pizza or something with a lot of oil and strong smells. Rating: 2+)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rock'n tacos

Over the weekend we went to our friends-Dr. Khem and T Fresh's house for Rock'n Tacos. Giles aka Liziest dressed up as his ex favorite rapper-Common, and I aka Tek-niq was dressed up as Lady Kier of dee-lite. Before heading to the dinner party, we stopped by our neighborhood liquor store to pick up Dos equis and Modela Especial de Mexico to go with the theme of the night.

Rock'n taco night started with tacos and the rock'n came later. Sophea and Theresa made the best tacos i've ever had. The host threw both soft and hardshell on the table. Some choices were seared tuna, fried tilapia, ground beef, and steak.

While every thing was delicious, I thought the steak was bananas- it was done to perfection-rare and juicy the way I like it. At the end of dinner, sophea busted out his mom's tuk prahok: a pungent fermented fish sauce with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and a splash of lime. Cambodians eat this sauce with steak and veggies. Prahok is used to determine if you are Khmer. If you don't like Prahok-you ain't Khmer. If you are not Khmer and you like Prahok-you're an ally. Hahaha! He should't have taken it out because we killed the sauce and steak. The cutest person sitting at the table was Tae. She concentrated really hard making cheese taco.

After stuffing our face with tacos, we went on to playing rockband. Some lead singers were Delia, Eugene, Theresa, Giles and Sophea. Tae and I took turn playing the bass. Victor and Hsindy showed up towards the end of the night. They made it just in time for Sophea's homemade Flan.

Thanks Theresa and Sophea for a fun night. That was our 2nd SUPPER CLUB meeting. Delia and Tae are next!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Thoughts on décor

I love home design. I work for a non-profit working to end violence against women in communities of color. Work is so serious therefore I like to spend time on things that are not that serious, such as home design. I often daydream about my wants and needs for our little nest. I am not really interested in defining my style…it’s not consistent nor can it be categorized…it just is what it is. My style is not unique but it’s special to me. Sometimes I feel that people try so hard to be unique that it only becomes all about that.

I visit on a daily basis. I find it inspirational to see real people’s home and how they actually live. One of the reasons why I am an avid reader of apartmenttherapy is because people’s homes are not perfect-it’s not something you see in a catalogue. But I can’t stand many people’s attitude. When people start to emphasize the importance of “live in” it get’s so annoying. On apartmentthrapy, people will send photos of their homes for feedback from other readers. When a home especially looks neat and clean, many readers will complain that the home does not look “lived in” or that it’s “predictable.” A design snob’s mentality. Sorry, but I actually think that thrift store finds and Anthropologie is a fad. Yeah, I shop at those places, and I realize that enough people shop there that it does not make me unique or special.

My man and I drew a tree in our living room. It’s a project that we wanted to do together. We did it not because it’s so stylish or the artwork is so dope. We did it because we get to spend time together, support each other’s work. Some people like to present themselves based on the artwork they have on the walls, but we wanted to present ourselves through the artwork we created. It’s not about creating the best art, it’s about having fun, and doing what pleases us. It’s not about the presentation but the process that we get to engage in when creating art together. For me, that is what home décor is about. Do things that I find beautiful, practical, whatever it is that makes me comfortable. It's not about breaking new ground or proving a point. IT AIN’T THAT DEEP… oh btw, guess which bird is me?





Wednesday, April 30, 2008

grown up party

Wow!! I can't believe it took me two months to put up my 2nd post. I hope to be better at updating this blog so please come visit me again.

Well, we transitioned from winter to spring into high fashion. Last month me and my boo hosted a swanky soiree with 20 of our closest friends.

Of course a soiree is not only about food but elegance and ambiance. We changed our lights to 25 watt, lit candles played music to set the tone for a cozy romantic atmosphere. Our friends indulged in an evening of fancy food, drinks and good conversation. After dinner, G surprised me with a strawberry grand marnier birthday cake from Konditer Meister..the best bakery in boston...probably one of the best in the country (that's what i heard). After dinner, we proceeded on to ROCKBAND and poker! we finished the night with an orgy..(j/k).

I've always wanted to host a midtown cocktail party of attractive people in their elegant clothes sipping on know the kind of shit you see when you flip through a bo concept catalogue. But instead of yuppies in their late twenties... with our friends who are much more attractive and cool. Though the party had a swanky feel...those that know us know that were not pretentious but ganstalicious...that's just how we roll.

Here are some photos and the night's menu.

Amuse Bouche
government cheese & fancy crackers
hummus & dipping things
dragon & elephant platter

upper cut punch
bitter lady

salmon tartare

abalone soup

clementine sorbet

Main Course
basil eggplant seafood

duck confit curry

star anise roasted pork

vegetarian Burmese noodles


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

my 1st post

Hi this is my first blog post. This blog is devoted to being a home engineer. Some of the topics i will talk about are home decorating, party planning, crocheting, and other fun things in my life.