Friday, July 31, 2009

Commercial Whores

First it was the U2 ipod and now it's the U2 Blackberry. They're in bed with everybody aren't they?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wonton Soup Shankill Stylie

Wonton soup is damn tasty!

I am happy to report the new Chinese takeaway on the Shankill serves wonton soup. Believe it or not wonton soup is hard to come by in Belfast. The only other place I know of that sells wonton soup is a Chinese restaurant on Eglantine Avenue.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Urge to Purge

I've been purging all this week. I purged my bedroom of all my old junk: college books from 10 years ago, purses, shoes, clothes I never wear anymore, miscellaneous knick knacks, old makeup. It feels really good to purge, being free of all these superfluous empty "things. It's amazing how much we consume and consume and consume some more, most of it are things we don't need. Why do we make our lives so complicated by filling it with so much stuff? It's disgusting really.

When work was done in my room, my urge to purge still needed to be satiated.

So I gave in, I had to do it. I cleaned out my parents' fridge and it took about 3 hours. I just couldn't stand it anymore. I swear you'd need to wear a hazmat suit to open the door. My mom never seems to throw anything away. She was a byproduct of growing up during WWII which means throwing things away(even if it is useless junk)is wasteful. The fridge was just N-A-S-T-Y! Everything was covered in mysterious sticky gunk! I threw out 3/4 of the stuff. It was either expired or stunk to high heaven! I took the shelving apart (easy slide out glass shelves are an awesome invention...btw), took out the bins, and gave it good wash in the sink with bleach. I scrubbed every speck of mold and dirt inside the fridge. I was a cleaning maniac. Now it looks good as new. Big Eva would be so proud of me....

Note that I've cleaned out just the refrigerator half. Next is the freezer. Ugh!

I was talking the other night with HopAlong about the difference between both our families. He comes from a super clean household. His mom, Big Eva, is a neat freak known to clean the blinds at 3am. Although his house is clean, there is a constant streaming of noise pollution. Someone screaming down the house, his sister's music blaring from her room at all hours, blaring drunks on the street. It annoys him to no end. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I come from a very quiet but cluttered household which makes me want to tear my hair out. Piles of junk everywhere! I clean and clean only to find it at the same state as it was within a week.

HopAlong and I predict when we set up house together, it will be very minimal with a noise decibal so low, you can hear a mouse fart. I can't wait for that day to come.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Korean Birthday Feast

I just came back from my birthday feast and holy smokes it was A LOT of food!

First course was seaweed soup. Then the waitress came out with the banchan, an array of side dishes that you have with your main dish (and you can have as many refills as you like and yes it's free!)...

Dried fish, fish cake strips, pickled radish, seaweed salad, pickeled eggplant, kim chee, kim chee cauliflower, baby bok choy salad, and bean sprout salad

Second course was Haemul Pajon, seafood pancake with shrimp, clam, and squid and onion served with a dipping sauce. Really good!...

Third course was my favorite dish Jap Chae, clear sweet potato noodles sauteed with vegetables and beef...

Fourth course, the waitress brought out two sizzling platters of Dak Gul (grilled chicken) and kalbi(grilled beef)...

By the end of the meal we were so stuffed, we waddled out of the restaurant with enough leftovers to last us a week! But it didn't stop here!

My parents got me a pack of cake batter deluxe ice cream cupcakes from cold stone creamery...

So pink, it's pank!

Of course I only ate just the one! ;)

Look at this work of art! There are 5 layers: An airy whipped cream frosting w/ rainbow sprinkles, cake batter ice cream (don't knock it til' you've tried it), chocolate fudge, and red velvet cake encased in a Belgian chocolate hard shell cup.

I screwed my diet but what the hell, I have a right to live a little. It's my day and I can do whatever I want. My parents really enjoyed their first introduction to Korean food, they liked it so much they are thinking of laying over in Korea in their next trip to the Philippines.

All in all I enjoyed my gluttonous day! It was a perfect birthday celebration with the exception of missing a certain someone. You know who are. ;(

Friday, July 24, 2009

Iz Ma Birfday!

This year is definitely making up for last year's birthday! My parents came storming in my room very early this morning singing Happy Birthday in Tagalog off the top of their lungs!

Yesterday they surprised me with a 46" hdtv mounted to my bedroom wall AND a blu-ray player AND the full disc set of Planet Earth AND an underwater disc. I spent last night watching Planet Earth. The cinematography is absolutely stunning and the picture quality from the blu-ray was so pristine you can even sense texture. I was in awe! Richard Attenborough's narration lulled me to sleep. BBC makes the best documentaries.

Here it is in all its HDTV glory! That polar bear cracked me up! Hehe (BTW it's not mounted slanted on my wall, my aim just sucks!)

Now I am off to workout a calorie deficit to make room for my Korean BBQ feast later. Mmmmm...bulgogi, jap chae, bimbimbap, and all the banchan fixings...I can't wait! :D

My parents are the best! You rock, Mom & Dad!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fatso Manifesto: My Menu Plan

I haven't posted a fatso manifesto in awhile. This doesn't mean I've fallen off the weight loss bandwagon. Although, I must admit I haven't been consistent with the exercise and dieting when I was in Belfast. Life got in the way and the move back to America. You know how it goes...

Now that I'm in California, it's just so much easier for me to diet and exercise. For one, the weather in California doesn't dictate when I should go out for a jog/walk nor does it dictate my mood. I get very depressed in gray weather therefore I lack motivation and I am just plain lazy.

Number two, is the abundance of fresh local produce available in California all-year-round and I love, love Farmer's Markets (as you faithful followers already know). It's hard to avoid the words "organic", "all natural", or "hormone and antibiotic free". It is everywhere! Almost everyone is health conscious for the most part.

So with that being said, I have no excuses this time. And I've been doing brilliantly! I've already lost 10 lbs. That's 3/4 of a stone for you UK folks! It's only been about 2 months. Slowly but surely, I will get to my goal! Nobody said losing weight was going to be fast and easy. If you do it the healthy way, that is.

I give a lot of credit to the way I have changed my way of eating and the way I view food. I don't have a menu plan per say but follow a few simple guidelines. I hate counting calories, measuring things. It's just too much work for me. So I have stopped eating refined carbohydrates and starch such as white rice, pasta, potatoes, and sugar. I haven't been craving these things at all. I thought this would be difficult to do but surprisingly it was pretty easy. I have replaced the refined carbs with gluten free whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, and breads. I load up on vegetables. Veggies comprise a good 60% of my diet. I try to have vegetables and/or fruits with every meal including breakfast. They say you are supposed to have at least 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day and eat a variety of all colors of the rainbow. I try hard to fall within this range. I cut back on eating meat to twice a week. Lately, I haven't had a taste for meat for some reason but I still add it in my diet to get the protein and omega 3 (from fish) I need. I eat only white lean meats now, chicken, fish, or turkey and it has to be organic meaning no hormones or antibiotics. On the off meat days, I get my protein from soy, beans, and nuts. Dairy at the most twice a day, organic yogurt and cheese. Water. I can't stress enough the importance of drinking water. I don't drink soda anymore nor do I drink juices because of the sugar content. The only "non-water" beverages I drink are chai or green tea (antioxidants). Fats. At the most 2 servings of good fats such as olive oil, nuts, and avocado. If I buy prepackaged food, I read the labels. If I can't pronounce the ingredients and are not a natural food, I will not buy it. If it is over 5g of fat, has high sugar or sodium content, I stay away.

I don't know if this is just psychosomatic but ever since I've been eating mostly organic and all natural. My energy is up, my mood has been up, I sleep better, my skin is clear, I have a nice healthy glow, and I don't feel as bloated anymore. Even my parents have noticed the change and have been converted into buying mostly organic, natural foods to stock the kitchen. If it's not organic or all natural, then whatever it is, it is working and my body is enjoying it!

I completely have a different take on food now. I have a better new found appreciation for food and where it comes from. Food not only has to be appetizing but have the nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy mind and body.

Here's what I eat on a typical day:

Beverages (throughout the day): Water and Green Tea

Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries, sliced banana, soymilk and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Exercise: Brisk walk for 3.5 miles

Snack: Organic Greek Style Yogurt - 1/2 cup

Garlic Naan Pizza topped with veggies and a side salad of spinach w/ red onion and balsamic vinaigrette...

Snack: 1 cup of fruit salad and a handful of almonds

Exercise: 60 minutes on the elliptical trainer

A vegetable crudite plate with stone ground whole wheat crackers and hummus dipping sauce....

Monday, July 20, 2009

One of Many Subtle Differences Between the UK & America

HopAlong is pissed off at me because:

My dad called to order HDTV last Saturday and they came over to install it the next day on a SUNDAY! YES, A SUNDAY!

HopAlong called Sky to order HDTV a month and a half ago and will have to wait 3 months to get it installed! 3 MONTHS?!?!?

All I can say is...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Traditional Sunday Roast Dinner

This is a typical Sunday roast dinner consumed in many Irish households. A wholesome, full, tasty meal!

Every Sunday my family gets together for the Sunday roast. In my house we all sit around the table together to eat our dinner and watch t.v. Exciting.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Trader Joe's vs. M&S Simply Food

TJ's clever dig on Whole Foods

I have been missing Marks & Spencer Simply food for the past few weeks. There is no grocery store like it here in the US. We do have Whole Foods, Mollie Stones, and Andronico's which I wouldn't dare go into since you have to make more money than the Beatles to shop there and being the unemployed bum that I am, I am skint. So what other options are left for the cheapskate, food obsessed Flippin' Yank? Why, TRADER JOE'S of course!

I love you Marks & Sparks but TJ's is a tough contender! TJ's is the bomb diggity of grocery stores! Here's why:

1)Most of their products are organic, all natural, and high quality.

2) Hella cheap prices for organic food products. You can get away with spending two weeks worth of organic for only $40. This is unheard of!

3) A massive and unique selection you can't find in a regular grocery store like sparkling sake, soy chorizo, chili spiced mango (dried fruit snack), irish soda bread cranberry crisps (also see my grocery haul below)

4) Great wine selection for cheap prices. 2 buck chuck. Nuff said.

5) VERY Vegan and Vegetarian friendly grocery store. I'm an omnivore but if I were vegan or vegetarian, I can easily see myself going crazy in this store.

6)(Ahem...They don't close at 6PM. They don't close at 3pm on a Sunday.) TJ's is open until 9pm. Every. Single. Day.

7) Customer service is top notch. Super friendly and helpful staff. You can tell they really love their job and like being there. TJ's must treat their employees well. To top it off, they wear tacky Hawaiian shirts!

TJ's does have its cons. I'm sure some of their products are a miss (although I haven't personally encountered this yet), just choose carefully. Their "Food To Go" section is not as amazing as M&S. M&S is king in this department. Nothing beats M&S dinner for 2 for £10. Oh and M&S decadent desserts. *Sighs* Also M&S hummus is the best hummus I have ever had in my life. They must put crack (not craic) in there because I was so addicted to that stuff! Although, TJ's hummus is very close by a hair. Another bad thing about TJ's is sometimes your favorite products become discontinued and some of them come back again months after. Their stock is inconsistent. One major gripe I have about TJ's is that the layout of the store isn't very organized. I found myself running around the store like a headless chicken. They shelf products in random places like crackers above the frozen food section. WTH? TJ's should seriously send some spies to scope out M&S because their store plan is impeccable, very user friendly and well organized.

Any of you Yanks or UK natives had experience in both stores? I am curious which you prefer and why? And for the Yank abroad, do you find yourself pining for TJ's? What are your favorite TJ or M&S products? Feel free to leave a comment. :)

TJ grocery haul for this week

My grocery haul:

Organic Red Pepper & Tomato Soup $2.79
Organic Blue Agave Sweetner $2.99
Ack-Mak Crackers $1.39
Organic Greek Style Yogurt $1.69 x 3
(Plain, Vanilla, Honey flavors)
Greek Style Nonfat Yogurt $1.19 x 2
(Pomegranate, Blueberry flavors)
Frozen Garlic Naan Indian Bread $1.99
Olive Oil Spray $2.99
Brown Rice Tortillas $2.49
Roasted Creamy Almond Butter $4.99
Whole Wheat Pita Bread $1.49
Mediterranean Hummus $3.99
Portabella Mushrooms $2.99
3 Cheese Lite Shredded Cheese $3.99
Soy Chorizo $1.99
Cuban Style Black Beans $1.29
Organic Marinara $2.29
Cilantro and Chive Yogurt Dip $3.29
Pizza Sauce $1.89

Total: $50.29 <--- Awesome! :D

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Awww...Young Love! ♥

Hop Along (9/22/2007 5:17:19 PM): i love you

Flippin' Yank (9/22/2007 5:17:31 PM): i love you more

Hop Along (9/22/2007 5:17:55 PM): ok

Flippin' Yank (9/22/2007 5:18:25 PM): if you say so

Hop Along (9/22/2007 5:18:50 PM):
i agree totally

Flippin' Yank (9/22/2007 5:18:56 PM):
i guess you love me less

Hop Along (9/22/2007 5:20:44 PM):
maybe not. What you stated wasn't a fact. I could actually love you more, which means you love me less and you're trying to make me think that i love you less to cover the fact that you actually love me less and don't want me to find out by confusing me into trying to work out how i can indeed love you more when i actually do love you more and there's no need for me to be confused

Flippin' Yank (9/22/2007 5:21:49 PM): huh?

Hop Along (9/22/2007 5:21:59 PM):

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


A riot during the twelfth. How cliche and unoriginal!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This Ain't No Eurovision

People with actual talent competing against each other, imagine that...So You Think You Can Dance. These are genuinely talented dancers competing against genuinely talented dancers. Every week each couple pulls a dance genre out of a hat and are only given three days to master technique and learn the choreography from various style such as rumba, hip hop, contemporary, Bollywood, even Russian folkdance. Some of the dancers are amazing in that they can handle whatever is thrown at them given that they are unfamiliar with the genre.

For example, this Tango is completely flawless! I've never seen a more perfect tango and they're not even ballroom dancers!

A contemporary dance by Mia Micheals. My favorite choreography so far. Sexy, simple, yet so complex.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mr. Happy Goes to Chav Land

Gotta Love Skype...

HopAlong and I spent the whole morning(his evening) watching live coverage of the Micheal Jackson memorial together and comparing BBC and CNN broadcast. For some reason, the CNN live coverage lagged a few seconds behind BBC. I was impressed it was such a dignified ceremony. I'm glad it didn't turn out to be the media circus everyone expected.

A Pint for Mike...

Did anyone else bawl when Paris spoke? It was so touching. She is an amazing girl for getting up there and being so brave. His poor kids. To the world, we lost an entertainer. To his kids, they lost a father. :(

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hedonism at its Best

G. and M. picked me up to go wine tasting in Napa Valley. They suggested a few wineries off the beaten path...

The first one was Darioush which looked like a mini palace of Persepolis. We tried some Shiraz here all the while M. was giving me a history lecture on Persepolis. Persepolis was the king of Persia.

The second winery, G. was totally excited for me to see, Sterling. She said the winery was hidden high up in the valley and we had to take a sky tram.

Once we got up to the winery, we took a tour and there were 5 tasting stations. Yes, FIVE! We tasted a pinot, sauvignon blanc, a merlot, a zinfindel, and a malvasia bianca (my new favorite!). The view of the valley was spectacular!

Intensely floral and aromatic! Amazing aromas of candied ginger, white flowers, white peach and honeysuckle. Slightly sweet with flavors of peach and pear, the wine is balanced by a spicy flavor of ginger. Rich and full bodied, this wine is a lovely pairing with Asian cuisine. Copy from Sterling. Photo courtesy of bongamom.

Mount St. Helena

Our last destination was Castello di Amorosa, which was a cute little castle on the other side of the valley. By the time we got there, they were closing but I took lovely pic TURES!

They filmed a scene for Disney's Bedtime Stories here

Our stomachs grumbled so we ate at a nearby five star restaurant, the In and Out in downtown Napa.

I had a protein style/animal style cheeseburger with fries. Protein style = no bun. Animal style = fried onions and special sauce. Mmmmm love In and Out!

The next morning I woke up with a splitting headache but it was all worth it!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My New Hat

I bought a new kangol cap and decided to wear it into work today. As a result, I was the laughing stock of the whole warehouse. They started making French noises and asking me where my onions were.

All throughout the day, people taking the piss:

"Get that off da fuck!"

"For fuck sake take that off! You look like an extra from a Michael Collins movie."

What's the problem? It's just a hat and I like to wear it. Why is this anyone's business? This is what bothers me about people here. They think I'm interested in their unintelligent comments which is typical of Northern Irish people.

They seem to have this inferiority complex and when they see someone doing something that they actually wish they had the balls to do, but because they have no mind of their own and worry what people will say, they attack them and ridicule them. If I see someone wearing something that I don't like or I think looks stupid, I keep my opinion to myself. They're not bothering me by wearing it and it's up to them what they wear.

God forbid you're caught wearing sunglasses after the sun has gone behind a cloud for a few minutes. Oh that's not allowed at all. You're obviously trying to look cool and there's always someone close at hand to hit you with a snide remark like, "I hope we get the weather you're expecting" or "fuck sake take those off it's not even warm".

Do they realize how stupid they sound?

You just can't be different here. It's not allowed. The 'Conform Police' are everywhere and they do a great job of keeping everyone 'normal'. In a way, this attitude does serve a purpose for me. It points out clearly who are the open-minded- think-for-yourself-kind-of-people and who are the small-minded-afraid-to-step-outside-the-'normal'-box-and-actually-be-themselves.

“Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another.” -Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Not In the Mood

Is it weird of me that I don't want to go on a picnic today, drink ice cold beer, grill hotdogs and burgers, or watch the parade and fireworks?

I want to celebrate July 4th curled up in bed watching Audrey Hepburn movies while eating all the junk food I can get my hands on.

But that's the beauty of Independence Day isn't it? To celebrate and exercise your freedom to do fuck all!

Happy Feckin' 4th!

Friday, July 3, 2009

You Know When Times Are Tough...

if you hear July 4th fireworks are canceled due to the economy. At least Oakland and San Francisco are still on.

Did you know that a 20 minute full scale pyrotechnics display costs $70K to $100K? That's hella crazy!

Not sure what I want to do tomorrow. Now that everyone from other parts of the bay area will be flocking to SF or Oaktown, chilling at home sounds like a good idea.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tutmania and The Secret Chinatown!

San Francisco is crazy over King Tut right now! Last Saturday, the Tutankhamun exhibition opened at the de Young Museum. The last exhibition was 30 years ago and there were only 30 artifacts on display. Over 1 million people visited the De Young to see the exhibit in 1979. Today the exhibition has over 130 artifacts which not only includes King Tut but also his immediate family members. Judging from the crowds today, it looks like 2009 will surpass the 1979 attendance record. The lines went on forever. I felt like I was at Disneyland and this was on a Wednesday! I can't imagine how it is on the weekends!

Let me tell ya...the wait was SO worth it. I'm a self-professed Egyptophile! I have always been fascinated with Egyptian culture and civilization. For many years, I've been studying and performing folkloric and orchestral Egyptian music as well as learning different types of Egyptian dances since the age of 5 years old. I even learned how to speak, read, and write Arabic (for only 2 semesters)! Egyptian history and art was a given to truly understand the music and dance. No words can describe my excitement and amazement of this year's exhibition. I am still drooling as I type. I also liked the fact that they highlighted the importance of women in Egyptian society. Every object was beautiful, displaying intricate craftsmanship. With complexity and meaning behind every piece, I was inundated with information that sent my head into a tailspin!

My favorite piece out of them all was this gorgeous pectoral...

Pectoral with Solar/Lunar Emblem and Scarab. Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun (1332-1322 BC). Gold, silver, electrum, semiprecious stones. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Carter 267d. Photo: Kenneth Garrett © 2008/National Geographic.

If you are an Egyptophile like me, you can view this 25 minute video which shows all the artifacts on display! Warning: Don't watch if you plan on going to the exhibit.

After the de Young, I hopped on the 44 O'Shaughnessy to 6th and Clement and ate lunch at Burma Superstar. For months, while I was in Belfast my friends back home would email me raving about this place. I've never had Burmese food before and my palate was feeling adventurous. I'm in the neighborhood anyway. Why not?

They were absolutely was DAMN GOOD! Hard to describe this type of cuisine. It is kind of a cross between Indian, Chinese and Thai. I ordered their infamous Tea Leaf Salad w/ fermented tea leaves from Burma. I must admit I was hesitant to try it, fermented anything doesn't sound very appetizing to me. The fermented tea leaves weren't what I had expected at all it reminded me of gorgonzola cheese. And I like gorgonzola! Along with the seeds, beans, and garlic chips it was a party in my mouth! It was so good I licked the bowl clean. I also love the fact they explain the ingredients to newcomers and mix it at your table!

Tea leaf salad with fermented tea leaves imported from Burma

The chicken curry had the perfect amount of spice, the meat was so tender it was falling off the bone and melting in my mouth. Paired with the sweet, fragrant coconut rice, it was out of this world!

Even though this is a hangout for the tragically hip and trendy, the atmosphere was very casual, laid back, and unpretentious. The staff was very nice yet professional. I ordered a refill for my thai iced tea and my waiter said they usually charge for refills but mine was on the house. How nice was that?

I'm definitely coming here again and bringing HopAlong here next time. There are many other dishes I want to try. If you're ever visiting San Francisco, please, please, please go to this restaurant. You will not be disappointed.

After lunch, I explored Clement Street. I haven't been here in quite some time other than just going to Plough & Stars. Last I hung out here was 2 years ago. Clement is San Francisco's best kept secret. You will not see tourists running around in fanny packs here. This is the Chinatown reserved for locals.

With all the Chinese ads here you'd think you're in China

On Clement, you will find Chinese dim sum takeaways, a plethora of Asian grocers, thai, korean, hot pot noodle houses, bubble milk tea stands, ice cream parlors, coffee houses, Irish pubs (one of which is the Plough & Stars where HopAlong had a run-in the last time), Green Apple Books which has been here forever. I used to hang out here during my high school years which was ages ago...

...And Schubert's Bakery which has been in this neighborhood since 1911. Their cakes and pastries are to die for! I had the strawberry shortcake topped with fresh fruit...

There goes my diet...

Thought I'd call it a day so I hopped on the 2 Clement to go back to the Ferry Building to head home...

The solo outing was nice in that it helped me find my feet and reacquaint myself with the city again. I had fun but there were a few moments where waves of sadness hit me because I was minus one.

I want my HopAlong! :(

Bus Route Recap:
To go to the de Young from the Ferry Building, walk a couple blocks up Market Street for the 21 Hayes bus stop. Get on the 21 Hayes (with destination 8th and Fulton) and alight at 8th Avenue and Fulton Street. Walk into Golden Gate Park to the de Young. To go to Clement Street, take the 44 O'Shaugnessy at the Concourse in front of the California Academy of Sciences. Get off on 6th Avenue and Clement Street. To go back to the Ferry Building, catch the 2 Clement (destination Ferry Plaza) at any bus stop along Clement Street.