Friday, August 28, 2009

b/w fun

Recently I joined a photo group on flickr that gives a weekly photo challenge. Everyone posts their best work and then the group votes on the best one. The winner picks the challenge for the following week. Anyway, it's good because the majority of the people are just starting out and learning just like me, so we learn from each other.

The past week's challenge was to do a black and white portrait of yourself or someone else. My new friend, G. is part of this group too so we decided to take pics of each other. Here are my favorites.

G. and I were both irked that there was a stack of stuff in the background of this pic, but I submitted it anyway. Her smile is infectious.

This is the only good one I took of myself. I think my expression was due to the fact that my camera was so heavy and because of the frustration of getting myself in focus by shooting at the mirror.

Off to the Bay Area this weekend to visit my family. I need to teach my dad how to use my camera so I can at least be in some of the pictures when we go to Japan!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

good weekend

This past weekend was great! Chilled with good friends, saw my grandma and was able to get more practice in with my cam. I felt so encouraged after the great photo advice I got from friends after my Sequoia trip, so I was eager to get out there again.

Friday through Sunday, the Evergreen youth staff went on a retreat in Ojai. It was a quaint little town and the house we stayed in felt like a house from The Bachelor.

Then it was off to the Nisei Week Taiko Gathering in J-Town with my sister, her bf, my grandma and great aunt. It seriously made me proud to be Japanese American.

Did you notice the guns on that guy in the tank? I think I had a 20 minute crush on him while his group performed. Anyway, back to camera nerdom. With strong suggestion, I just ordered a 50mm prime lens. Can't wait to give it a whirl. Also contemplating purchasing Adobe Lightroom, although Picasa and iPhoto are working ok for now with my jpgs.

Monday, August 17, 2009


This past weekend I took a trip to Sequoia National Park with some friends. I donned my new dslr, eager to capture some breathtaking photos of the great outdoors. So not the case. As I uploaded my photos to my computer, I was horribly dismayed to see an endless array blurry, washed out or flat colored photos. As hard as I tried to adjust all the settings, and compulsively chimped my photos...they still were sub-par. My heart sank. Secretly, I think I believed I was going to be a photographer extraordinaire from the start. Unfortunately, like most things in life, it's going to take a lot of dedication and hard work.

Here are the few that I was satisfied with.

Here is the camping crew. This is with my point and shoot. I still need to figure out how the timer function on my dslr works. Ha.

Click here for a link to some of my sad photos. Please make comments on how I can improve.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Beggar Girl, Bombay, India 1993 ©Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry, I can only dream of capturing moments like this. You are my inspiration of the day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

new cam

The day has come. I finally got my very own dSLR!! Here are some of my first test shots with my new Canon 40D.

I should start paying Denia for being such a good model. Maybe I'll pay her in lollipops.

Anyone want to give me lessons on how to work this thing? It's pretty overwhelming.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

beets with garlic sauce

I subscribe to several food blogs, and one of my favorites is The Atlantic Food Channel. Yesterday, my eyes perked up when I saw a recipe for a garlic sauce to accompany beets. My love affair with beets began in May of this year. I think I've bought a bunch almost every other week since then. Anyway. I thought I'd give this recipe a whirl:

Beets with Garlic Sauce
4 to 6 servings

• 2 pounds beets, cooked (see basic cooked beets recipe) and peeled
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• Salt

Cut the beets into 1/4-inch thick disks or wedges. Place in a bowl and toss to coat with the balsamic vinegar and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garlic Sauce (which is basically a garlic, potato purée)
Makes about 3 cups

• 1 1/2 pounds red or yellow waxy potatoes, pared and sliced into 2-inch chunks
• 8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise, green sprout (if any) removed
• About 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
• 1/2 to 3/4 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil, to taste
• 2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the potatoes, 3 garlic cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Replenish the water as necessary to keep the potatoes covered.

When the potatoes are cooked, place the remaining 5 cloves of garlic in a mortar or directly on the counter. Using a pestle, a flat stone, a meat pounder, or other pounding implement, smash the garlic roughly. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue mashing the garlic until it is reduced to a paste; you should have about 2 tablespoons. (Do not use a garlic press or allow the puree to sit more than 15 minutes or the flavor will be bitter.)

With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked potatoes to the mortar or a mixer bowl and break them apart. Reserve the cooking liquid. Using a pestle, or an electric mixer on low speed, beat the potatoes until they are reduced to a coarse meal. (Do not attempt to do this in a food processor or the potatoes will become gummy). Dribble in cooking water (up to 3/4 cup) a little at time while beating the potatoes until they are reduced to a loose puree.

Blend the garlic puree, if pounded separately, into the potatoes. Beat in about 1/2 cup of the olive oil, lemon juice if desired, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. (The intensity of the garlic and the balance of salt will change as the skordalia sits. Adjust the seasoning before serving and add additional olive oil if desired.) Serve the garlic sauce warm or at room temperature. Just before serving, drizzle olive oil over the sauce.

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

I give this 2.5 out of 5. The garlic was way to powerful for me. And, I just don't think beets and potatoes belong together. It was an intriguing idea, but I am just not a fan. Or. Maybe I didn't make it right.

Friday, August 7, 2009

hello larchmont!

Hello, Larchmont Village Wine Spirits & Cheese!

Pictured: Imported Black Forest Ham, Swiss Emmenthal Cheese mixed greens, black olive tapenade, extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar, $7.50. Note: Other half not pictured because it was already consumed.

My co-workers have been raving about this joint for a while, so I finally caved and took a trip. I have no idea why I waited so long! The ham was so flavorful and sliced so thinly, and was delicious combined with the swiss, olives and vinegar. What sealed the deal was the fresh, quality french baguette. The texture was outstanding, with the outside was perfectly crispy.

There are a few tables outside the shop, but if you want to just pick up your order, call in ahead of time because it gets super busy. Can't wait to try the other sandwiches!!

Larchmont Village Wine Spirits & Cheese
223 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 856-8699

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

yay for donut man!

I've started a summer tradition with Ken & his now wife (!) J to take a trek to Donut Man for their fresh peach donuts. This beloved donut shack was started by Jim Nakano, an American-born Japanese baker, who was put in relocation camps during WWII. That makes me an even MORE proud patron of DM.

Donut Man
915 E Route 66
Glendora, CA 91740
(626) 335-9111

This only lasts a couple of weeks while peaches are in season, so go soon!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

processing advice wanted

I've started to develop a taste for the kind of photography that I prefer. And I've come to realize that I'm not really a fan of over done HDR imaging, and over processed photos. Slight contrast and color treatment, ok. Cropping, ok. But not even the best photo editing can save a poorly composed photo. My distaste is also influenced by the fact that I've never really messed with editing, since my photos have been produced by a humble point and shoot. But, I figure if I'm going to start using a dslr, I should start trying my hand at it. That said, I tried messing around with iPhoto (advanced photo geeks don't judge), and tried editing one of my favorite pictures from this year.

The original

Edited version

Your feedback and constructive criticism, please.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

another goodie

As my family and I are preparing to go to Japan we've been trying to dig up our contacts so we can visit them. About 7 years ago we took in a Japanese exchange student named Kana. She always stayed in her room and only came outside to eat and use the computer. I guess my mom wanted to get in touch with her possibly for our trip. Here is her request:


Hi Lis,

I lost Kana's email address, do you think you can see it you can find her on



First of all, she doesn't even give me her last name. 2nd, I love her faith in it's magic to her. This is my chat with Lauren in response to her email:

Lauren: hahahahahahahaahahaha
Lauren: wwwwuuuaaahhahhhahahaaa
me: waaaaaaaaaahahhaahaaha
Lauren: facebook hahahahahhaaaaa

Have a great Monday, y'all.