Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki by framboise
Okonomiyaki, a photo by framboise on Flickr.

Kansai-style okonomiyaki is pretty easy to make. Admittedly, we cheat by using a prepared flour mix, but you could make it from scratch with bonus foodie points using Maki-san’s okonomiyaki recipe.

If/when we ever move somewhere without an Asian supermarket, I’ll be hoarding okonomiyaki sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise and growing my own nagaimo…

Aujourd’hui, Îles Canaries; demain, le monde!

The global neighbourhood walk continues today in the Canary Islands, where they have bright (canary?) yellow postboxes and black volcanic sand. Go visit!

Links to the worldwide neighbourhood tour:
June 25th – jojoebi-designsSaitama, Japan
June 26th – akatsuki ra-ra-raCalifornia, USA
June 27th – little red farmSweden
June 28th – “Je veux une ‘tite soeur-fille”Canary islands
June 29th – Knitty Lorn – East Devon, UK
June 30th – We Don’t Need No Education – Michigan, U.S.A
July 1st – Jeollanam-do Salad – South Korea
July 2nd – Merita’s Playground – Slovenia
July 3rd – kids, craft and chaos – Scotland, UK
July 4th – Zonnah’s Addictions – Washington State, USA
July 6th – Se7en – South Africa
July 7th – Talia’s Travel Web Log – New York, USA
July 8th – Monkey Magic – Japan
July 9th – The Pukeko Patch – Wellington, New Zealand
July 10th – Cami Daily – Berlin, Germany
July 11th – Crazy Cambridge mum – Cambridge, UK
July 12th – Schaeresteipapier – Switzerland

Beach baby

Come rain or shine, Fin loves the beach! It may be the sand, or the freedom to wander, or maybe it’s just that it’s so different from his daily routine of concrete and roads. Whatever the reason, we’re glad he’s always happy on the beach!

Image0543
Santa Monica Beach, CA

Fin loves sand
Dockweiler Beach, CA

tired bear
Venice Beach, CA

Chasing the helicopter
Venice Beach, CA

P1050710.JPG
Manhattan Beach, CA

Cheeky chappy
Manhattan Beach, CA

sandy bottom
Manhattan Beach, CA

Sand for you!
Oak St Beach, Chicago, IL

Edamame cracker in my hand
North Ave Beach, Chicago, IL

Saitama and Sweden

If you like to daunder around your local patch, have a gander at these world wanders.

Saitama has some amazing rice paddies, as documented by Jojoebi. And did you know that you can buy rice in a vending machine in Japan? The closest cool equivalents I have seen in North America are those that sell headphones and music players in the airports.

And on the little red farm in Sweden, you can see sweet wooden huts (with a bonus rainbow!) and pretty wooden buildings, the exact opposite of our concrete-rich architecture in Los Angeles. And did you know that it’s warm enough to swim in the lakes of Sweden in summer, yet the sea freezes over in winter? Amazing extremes in weather!

And don’t forget to check out the other participants1 in the jaunt around the world linked to below, with tomorrow’s tour in the sunny Canary Islands.

Links to the worldwide neighbourhood tour:
June 25th – jojoebi-designsSaitama, Japan
June 26th – akatsuki ra-ra-raCalifornia, USA
June 27th – little red farmSweden
June 28th – “Je veux une ‘tite soeur-fille” – Canary islands
June 29th – Knitty Lorn – East Devon, UK
June 30th – We Don’t Need No Education – Michigan, U.S.A
July 1st – Jeollanam-do Salad – South Korea
July 2nd – Merita’s Playground – Slovenia
July 3rd – kids, craft and chaos – Scotland, UK
July 4th – Zonnah’s Addictions – Washington State, USA
July 5th – Adventures of a Rainbow Mama – Australia
July 6th – Se7en – South Africa
July 7th – Talia’s Travel Web Log – New York, USA
July 8th – Monkey Magic – Japan
July 9th – The Pukeko Patch – Wellington, New Zealand
July 10th – Cami Daily – Berlin, Germany
July 11th – Crazy Cambridge mum – Cambridge, UK
July 12th – Schaeresteipapier – Switzerland


1 One super outcome of taking part in this series is that I’m adding an awesome blog to my RSS reader everyday!

Nobody walks in LA…

Or so it’s commonly thought. But we beg to differ. Los Angeles is quite a walkable city, and where we live, at the border of Los Angeles and Santa Monica, is particularly pedestrian-friendly.

So when jojoebi of jojoebi designs suggested a global neighbourhood photo journal series, we put on our walking shoes and trod the sidewalks to show you our neighbourhood.

Apartment block
An apartment block in Los Angeles.

Turquoise and Orange
A colourful house in neighbouring Santa Monica.

Berkeley St
Looking up the street towards Brentwood, another neighbourhood to the north.

Ambivalent Postbox
A postbox. I’m not sure if it’s happy or sad.

Manhole cover
Manhole covers in LA are utilitarian.

No dumping
But the “no dumping” signs by our drains are very marine!

Big Blue Bus No. 1
This is the big blue bus that I take to work everyday.

Play ball!
Our local park, Stoner Park, with a baseball game in session.

Playground
The children’s playground at our local park.

Splash!
The water playground in our local park, which I’ve never seen in use. We’ll have to find out how to get in this summer!

Santa Monica Farmers Market
A Farmers Market in Santa Monica.

Trader Joe's
Our local shop, Trader Joe’s. It has a nice selection of fresh produce, and a deadly snacks section.

Waste Processing Mural
The Santa Monica recycling centre has a colourful mural describing the life cycle of our waste.

The sun sets on my bus stop
An evening street view.

We hope you’ve enjoyed a tour of where we live. Below are links to the global tour, so check them out in the coming days!

Love,
D, P and F
xoxox

Links to the worldwide neighbourhood tour:
June 25th – jojoebi-designs – Saitama, Japan
June 26th – akatsuki ra-ra-ra – California, USA
June 27th – little red farm – Sweden
June 28th – “Je veux une ‘tite soeur-fille” – Canary islands
June 29th – Knitty Lorn – East Devon, UK
June 30th – We Don’t Need No Education – Michigan, U.S.A
July 1st – Jeollanam-do Salad – South Korea
July 2nd – Merita’s Playground – Slovenia
July 3rd – kids, craft and chaos – Scotland, UK
July 4th – Zonnah’s Addictions – Washington State, USA
July 5th – Adventures of a Rainbow Mama – Australia
July 6th – Se7en – South Africa
July 7th – Talia’s Travel Web Log – New York, USA
July 8th – Monkey Magic – Japan
July 9th – The Pukeko Patch – Wellington, New Zealand
July 10th – Cami Daily – Berlin, Germany
July 11th – Crazy Cambridge mum – Cambridge, UK
July 12th – Schaeresteipapier – Switzerland


And I’ll leave you with some bonus shots of Los Angeles:

Runway
The runway at our local Santa Monica airport, with a view of Los Angeles.

View from the Getty
And how Los Angeles looks from the Getty Museum, which we love to visit for its amazing photo exhibitions.

Neighbourhood photo journal series

Jojoebi of Jojoebi Designs has organised a neighbourhood walk with a difference: it’s going around the world!

Jo has kicked off the series with a tour of Saitama today, and the series continues daily until the 12th of July (see schedule below). Come back tomorrow for a wee tour of my little corner of West Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

Links to the worldwide neighbourhood tour:
June 25th – jojoebi-designsSaitama, Japan
June 26th – akatsuki ra-ra-raCalifornia, USA
June 27th – little red farm – Sweden
June 28th – “Je veux une ‘tite soeur-fille” – Canary islands
June 29th – Knitty Lorn – East Devon, UK
June 30th – We Don’t Need No Education – Michigan, U.S.A
July 1st – Jeollanam-do Salad – South Korea
July 2nd – Merita’s Playground – Slovenia
July 3rd – kids, craft and chaos – Scotland, UK
July 4th – Zonnah’s Addictions – Washington State, USA
July 6th – Se7en – South Africa
July 7th – Talia’s Travel Web Log – New York, USA
July 8th – Monkey Magic – Japan
July 9th – The Pukeko Patch – Wellington, New Zealand
July 10th – Cami Daily – Berlin, Germany
July 11th – Crazy Cambridge mum – Cambridge, UK
July 12th – Schaeresteipapier – Switzerland

Fin Fun in the Sun

This week’s photo-fest of Fin’s first year comes largely from a party we threw for him at Sunset Rec, an outdoor pool and BBQ park on campus. The party was a bit late for the traditional one-month party in Chinese tradition, but given the copious warnings about whopping cough last year, we decided to wait until Fin had his first vaccinations.

Coochicoo with Aunty H
Fin enjoying being passed around.

Future babysitter
Our future babysitter!

Uncle J
Making faces with my former student.

Baby zone
The Baby Zone.

The other kids table
The other, older kids zone.

G's not impressed with the FLW
Not best friends yet, but give them time…

Hard at work
Manning the pit is usually my job, but I was busy that day…

Changing al fresco
Fin being changed al fresco.

Day 77
Being pushed around by PoPo at the Santa Monica Airport Park.

Day 77
My little alien.

Day 81
My little alien being tickled by his dad’s stubble.

Day 83
His first bath in his new whale bath. All previous baths had been in the kitchen sink.

Day 83
Spa treatment.

OK
OK

Day 84
Only 3 months old, and already embarrassed by his parents.

Fin, Vampire Bunnies, and PoPo

As part of the still irregular until I can keep it up for the whole year, after which it becomes pointless, series of a summary of Finlaggan’s first year, I bring you another festival of snaps taken around this time last year.

Day 71
Count Rabbit, the vampire bunny.
Day 71
Finlaggan and his crew.

It was a time when this was the sum total of Finlaggan’s worldly possessions (aka toys):
Day 71
Previously loved playmat and hanging animals from our fabulous ex-neighbours. Vampire bunny knitted by PoPo. Blue bunny from Grand-Aunty P. Carrot car bunny from Ikea, because I wanted to start his addiction early. PJ bottoms sewed by PoPo and Gu-PoPo 1.

Day 72
And speaking of PoPo, she flew out to hang out with Fin, and here they are playing on her first night here. PoPo won’t be so happy about being shown in pyjamas, but it’s important context for the next photo. Plus, they’re nice pyjamas.

Day 72
A very happy Fin being amused by his PoPo 2.

Day 75
Squeeze me!

This was also the week of Finlaggan’s first party, but let’s save that for next week…


1 Po Po = 婆婆 = maternal grandmother. Gu-PoPo = maternal grand-aunt. Or at least that’s what we’re sticking to for simplicity.

2 Incidentally, the carseat swing shown here was a real hit for the first few months. While I don’t regret getting it, I may not recommend it to others because as soon as Fin took a dislike to the carseat, the swing became pointless.

Biking with Baby

To justify spending $$$ on a couple of second-hand bikes, we’ve been using them at the weekends instead of our usual long walks to the parks, farmers markets and ramenland1.

For no other reason than to use the bikes last weekend, we helmeted up and rode the too-short mile to Sawtelle Blvd for some Beard PaPa cream puffs.

Fin in his chick helmet
Fin in his chickadee helmet.

Messy cream puff
Oishi, des!

P1060738.JPG
Did the same last weekend to the West LA Farmers Market, where Fin kept crawling off to meet and greet passer-bys.

And all this biking around was kicked off by a great trip around Stanley Park in Vancouver last winter, where Fin really enjoyed the ride despite the cold rain.

Wear your helmets, kids!
We were very impressed by the bike rental, Spokes, which had a good selection of well-maintained bikes and even more importantly, well-maintained baby seats. They’re not cheap, but I’ve realised that nothing in Vancouver is cheap, but at least a high standard is expected and met.

Sulphurous
Biking with a hint of sulphur in the air. It took us a looong time to cycle the 10 miles around Stanley Park because we kept stopping to take pictures.

Siwash rock?
P and Fin disappearing round a corner. Had to sprint to catch up with them!

Fishermens' Village
And while it’s possible to rent child seats and bikes in LA, it’s not so easy to do the online research beforehand, since most bike rentals in LA are shacks by the beach or marinas without much of a web presence. Also, it may have just been the one shack we tried, but we weren’t all that impressed by the selection of seats and helmets.

Two on a bike
Two on a bike
Far better was the selection of beach cruisers, and even a tandem beach cruiser! (By the way kids, always ride with a helmet! We should have insisted on getting helmets with our rentals, and will always phone ahead and check next time.)

I’ll end this photo-fest with a small observation of bicycle culture in LA. Yes, you may be surprised, but there is one, albeit a lot smaller than other bike-friendly cities. But it’s mixed and seems to be city-dependent. LA, in particular the hipster parts, seems to have bike shops specialising in “fixies” and other old-fashioned, but trendy again European-style step-throughs. Santa Monica and the Venice part of LA has, as expected, almost nothing but beach cruisers (and the super-expensive, souped-up bikes from Helen’s Cycles for the connoisseurs). But where we live and work (West LA, Westwood, UCLA-land), the bulk of cyclists have very basic, bottom-of-the-line mountain bikes, which weigh nothing compared to the behemoth beach cruisers of SaMo, and can manage uphill riding. Fortunately, the biggest trade of bikes on Craigslist are for these bargain basement2 mountain-style bikes without the Helen’s Cycles price tags. Fortunate because I just can’t imagine being limited to one gear, and having to back-pedal to brake. Really, kids: get a real bike; they’re more versatile.

But what has been more surprising to me so far, a few weekends of riding in, is the generally good behaviour of motorists sharing our streets. It is most likely the fact that they can see Fin riding with me that makes them stop well in advance of an all-stop junction3, and even wave us over ahead of them. Even pedestrians have been yielding to us even when they have the right of way. Confusing all round, but well-received kindness on our part. My glasses are not rose-tinted enough to suggest that we’ll be just as kindly treated on the busier roads, nor on weekdays. But it’s nice to know that not all Angelenos are out to kill other road-users, and that it is possible, albeit in a limited fashion, to cycle around our neighbourhood.

Let's go for a bike ride
Here’s to more cycling in LA! (with helmets, natch!)


1 Ramenland = Sawtelle Blvd, West LA. Home to Nijiya (japanese supermarket), Tofu-Ya (Korean soondubu), Giant Robot, Ketchy’s (best breakfast burrito around), our hairdresser, the plastic crap shop (like Daiso, only much much smaller), Asahi Ramen (good, but not as “traditional” as our old ramen place, which let us sit outside with Kirin. now sadly closed…) and a whole bunch of other asian stores. This street single-handedly saved us from returning to Edinburgh toot-suite 6 years ago.

2 I say bargain-basement, but there really is a limit to how cheap one can go when buying a bike… Anything less than $300 new or out of a big box store seems to just languish in garages and sheds, which leads to some hilariously over-priced crap on Craigslist, where people really expect me to buy their used-only-once Magmas for $50 less than retail. I think not. Especially not when I can get an older, bottom-of-the-line Trek for less $, but greater longevity and reliability once we grease the chain and tighten the bolts. And yes, there are you connoisseurs out there laughing at us buying bottom range Treks and the like. But at least I’m not losing $1000 when the inevitable bike thief cuts our locks.

3 As opposed to their usual junction-creep, and even worse, when the 405 is broken, outright defiance of any and all stop signs and red lights. Traffic jams make Angelenos act like maniacs.