Gift ideas for the man who has everything: Wooden Ties and Geeky Cufflinks

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I always dread buying a gift for my man (or any man for that matter).  There’s only so many shirts, socks, small leather goods, and gadgets you can buy.  I take pride in the fact that I’m an awesome gift giver, so I’m always looking for unique gifts.  Here are 2 ideas that are incredibly ridiculous, silly, and useless, but perfect for the man who has everything.  They might never use them, but at least they’ll chuckle and smile!  And if these don’t work for ya, you can always go with grill gadgets and accessories, video games, or new undies.

 Wooden Ties

The other weekend, I was walking in the park and stumbled across a booth selling wooden ties.  WTF?  I know, odd but intriguing at the same time.  They’re made out of reclaimed wood and the founders of the company Wood Thumb (who happen to be brothers) are cuties too…doesn’t hurt!  Other than an uber hipster, not sure if anybody would actually wear these, but the idea is still cool.  They also sell wooden bow ties!

Geeky Cufflinks

Another OMG gift idea for him?  Geeky cufflinks.  Think Facebook thumbs up and 80’s Nintendo controllers.  Once again, I don’t know anybody who wears cufflinks, but if they did, these would be awesome.

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Art beyond the museum

You don’t have to go to a museum to see art.  That’s what I love about living where I do.  There’s beauty everywhere.  Like these places…

Murals in the Mission District

Rotunda restaurant at the Union Square Neiman Marcus…don’t forget to eat there.  Free popovers!

William Seylem Winery in the Russian River Valley.  Pinots are excellent here!

This week’s SF food porn

Flight of beignets and bottomless watermelon iced tea at Brenda’s Soul Food. OrgaZmic! Watermelon iced tea is sweet, but not too sweet. Just right! Beignets are sweet and savory (plain, chocolate, apple, and crawfish)…and as big as your hands!

Starters at Contigo. I don’t remember exactly what they were (oxtail sliders and sardine thingies?), but they were good (and very photogenic).

My bad-a$$ yellow Mizuno running sneaks

I’m in love with my new Mizuno running shoes (Wave Rider 15). You can spot me a mile away in these, but hey, it’s a safety pre-caution. They’re bright, they’re bold, and they feel like heaven. Probably the most comfortable running shoes I’ve ever owned. I did a test “run” at a local store and these are by far the lightest shoes that offer the best support (better than Brooks, Saucony, Asics, Adidas, etc). The only shoe that is comparable in weight are Nike Free , but those are only good for shorter distances and feel weird on in the beginning. I over-pronate a tad, so I use Super Feet insoles for a bit more oomph. Personal testimony: I have the prior Wave Rider version, which helped me survive grueling bootcamp workouts. Only downside to Mizuno’s (as a brand) are the design aesthetics, which are a bit hit or miss. But in these puppies, I feel like a total bad-ass!

Movie Review: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom- Random and Charming

This past week had so much potential to be a great movie week, but it was a bit of a letdown.  I was thoroughly looking forward to watching Rock of Ages and jamming out to all the songs I grew up on…Journey, Poison, all the good stuff.  But alas, it got horrible Rotten Tomatoes review, so I decided to wait for the DVD.  Movie tickets are so darn expensive these days that they better be freakin life-changing if I’m going to spend the dough to watch it in theatres.  Instead, we landed on watching Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

Overall, I thought it was better than good, but not amazing.  It’s a typical Wes Anderson movie with randomness (gnome-like narrator and trampoline acrobatics) and tortured main characters.  I must say I did chuckle a lot because of the absurdity of the given situation.  The quirky characters are well portrayed, especially the 2 lovebirds, who happen to be kids.  One’s an orphaned Khaki Scout, the other a troubled girl with binoculars and Sunday shoes.  There are charming kid moments juxtaposed with moments of truth on life’s hardships that seem wise beyond their years.  For those that have been living under a rock and haven’t seen the previews yet, here’s the Rotten Tomatoes synopsis.  Couldn’t have said it better:

Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore — and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the boy and girl.

I don’t know if any of you ever watched In Living Color where Damon Wayons and Alan Grier spoof Siskel and Ebert with a skit called Men on Film.  Their version of thumbs up and down were in the form of snaps and Z-formations.  Remember?  The ultimate form of praise being…2 snaps up and a Z formation!  Well, I’d give this movie 1.5 snaps up.  Worth a see- charming and entertaining, a good activity for a lazy afternoon.

Easy Kimchee-Bhutanese Fried Rice

If you’ve read my earlier food posts, you know that I’m a no-fuss kinda cook.  Nothing fancy, schmancy.  Just tasty food that requires low effort.  In honor of that, this week, I dusted off an old recipe that I hadn’t made in a while- Kimchee Fried Rice.  Except this time, I kicked it up a notch by using Bhutanese red rice.  Don’t be scared by this ingredient.  You can find it widely at most nicer grocery stores (like Whole Foods) in their bulk grains section.  It’s better than regular white rice in that it’s more al dente and the color is pretty, too.  The firmer texture is better for making fried rice, so it won’t get too smooshy.  What I love about this dish is that it sounds impressive, but it’s so easy!

P.S. People often think I’m Korean (I think it’s because of my big cheeks), but I’m not.  I hope that doesn’t make you think any less of the recipe.  It’s still totally legit.

Easy Kimchee- Bhutanese Fried Rice

Prep time: As fast as you can chop up onions and kimchee
Cook time: About as long as the rice cooker takes to cook your rice

Ingredients

  • A little less than a jar of regular size kimchee (diced)
  • About a fistful of meat (either ground turkey, chicken, or beef)
  • 1 shallot diced
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 2 stalks of green onion (sliced pretty)- garnish
  • 1 cup Bhutanese Red Rice
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • Salt and pepper OR fish sauce (for chicken only)

Instructions

  1.  Put the Bhutanese Red Rice in the rice cooker and cook it!  1 part rice to 2 parts water.  Let the rice cook for about 20 minutes before starting to combine the rest of the ingredients (below).
  2. In a large wok, heat up the sesame oil until hot and add diced up shallots and onions.  Saute until onions are translucent.
  3. Add the meat (either ground chicken/ turkey/beef) to the wok and season with salt/pepper (or fish sauce with chicken if you want it tastier).  Cook until done.
  4. Then, add in diced up kimchee.  If there is liquid in the jar, pour some in the wok for more flavor. Stir all the ingredients together until combined.
  5. Add cooked rice to the wok and mix until combined.
  6. Plate and garnish with the green onions on top.  Congrats, you’re done!

 

Move over PB and Nutella, make room for Justin’s and Speculoos

I’ve recently become obsessed with spreads on brown rice cakes.  It’s a great tasty dessert that’ll satisfy your craving, but yet it’s easy on the waistline (or so I’d like to think).

Rather than the traditional PB or Nutella spreads, I slather on Justin’s Nut Butter or Speculoos.  Say what, you say?  What are those?  Some of you might have stumbled across Justin’s at Whole Foods.  I personally love the Chocolate Almond or Maple Almond flavor.  Haven’t tried all of them, but I bet they’re delish!  I think they’re all natural and stuff, so yay….another reason to consume it.  As for Speculoos, it’s a Belgian gingerbread cookie spread.  Sounds, amazing, right?  It’s great on crepes, any sort of carb like bready goodness, and of brown rice cakes!  You can buy the real deal from their website (ships from abroad), or opt for the Trader Joe’s version.  The original has a better, smoother consistency, but shipping is just as much as the product.  Oh, and it’s also all natural and less calories that PB.  Double yeah!  Are you sold yet?

As for the rice cakes, I’d recommend Lundberg’s brown rice or wild rice cakes.  They don’t taste like styrofoam.

My First Afro-Brazilian Dance Class

I finally sucked it up this weekend and braved going to my first Afro-Brazilian dance class.  In college, I took Dance of Indonesia, so it’s not totally out of left field that I’d be interested in cultural dance.  It’s one of those things that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but always came up with lame excuses on why I couldn’t go…or just never mustered up enough courage.  I feel like for the past year or so, I’ve fallen into a routine with the BF, a comfortable zone if you will.  We do most things together because we’re addicted to each other’s company (and that’s a good thing), but I firmly believe that we should each also have our own hobbies….thus, the class.  Let me give you the lowdown on my experience.

I didn’t know what to expect, but the reviews I read online did mention the words “intense” in them.  Half excited, half nervous, I set foot inside class.  A bunch of girls are gabbing and catching up, clearly all of them were regulars and knew each other well….high-fiving the teacher and what not.  Then, the live drummers (yes, 5 of them!) arrive and class officially begins. The rhythm of the drums is so infectious that you immediately want to move to the beat…and I’m hooked.  I love a good beat.  Who doesn’t?   And now the intimidating part…the teacher breaks us out into groups of 4 and we have to perform each section of the dance in front of the class.  I’m sure I looked like a fool, but I think I held my own.  An hour and a half later, I’m exhausted and sore…Fast full body movements with wild swinging arms, booty shaking fun, and pounding fists in the air.  Holy s*&%!  It’s so much fun.  Totally doing this again!

I don’t have pictures or video (oh, heck no…how embarrassing would that be), but here’s a taste of what it was sort of like (except we had a bigger room and better drummers).  Oh, and for any of you that live in the Bay Area, I highly recommend Tania’s class at ODC in the Mission.

 

Happy Friday! Shakers and Succulents

Friday’s make me happy, so in honor of that, here are a few things that make me happy…

Cow salt and pepper shakers- Spotted at Dottie’s True Blue Café in SOMA.  Comfy in the hand and easy to use.  Aww!

Succulents- If there was a type of “trendy” plant right now, this would be it.  They’re bright, vibrant, vivacious…and require very little attention!  Meet Ziggy, my one year old zebra haworthia, and my friend’s backyard beauties.

YouTube Sensations Jayesslee and Boyce Avenue

I was stuck in the airport for 5 hours the other day (plane mechanical problem), so had plenty of time to kill.  Of course this was the one time that I didn’t have a book on hand, so I turned to my trusty iPhone.  I checked email like a mad woman, surfed apps that I hadn’t used in ages, checked weather for various cities, glanced over news, perused wedding blogs…you get the picture.  My 3rd hour in, I turned to YouTube and stumbled across these 2 catchy musical groups.  Both hit it big by making their start as YouTube sensations doing covers.

Jayesslee– These 2 cuties remind me of an Asian version of Colbie Caillat.  Here’s a cover they did of Maroon 5’s Payphone. Don’t miss the cheesy interludes of them trying to figure out how to use a rotary phone!

Boyce Avenue– They claim that they are the 2nd most viewed band on YouTube next to Linkin Park.  Great covers for artists like Adele to David Guetta to Katy Perry.  Here’s one for Rihanna’s “We Found Love.”