Thursday, May 28, 2015

Shoki Ramen Restaurant Review #AFamilyLivesHere





Comfort food means many things to different people. For me, savory is usually my first pick for something that makes me happy and relaxed. One of my favorite comfort foods is ramen. Not the ramen we used to eat in college that tasted of MSG. Oh, no. True ramen is a magnificent play of umami. The key is the broth. If the broth has no flavor, you've failed in making a great bowl of ramen.

My brother introduced me to some fabulous ramen in Orange County, and since then, I've been on a mission to find a place in Sacramento that offered something similar, or spectacular. I found it at Shoki Ramen. It was kind of a fluke. I had been released from the hospital last year, after my blood clot surgery, and was craving something comforting. I yelped and found Shoki near the hospital. My husband and I went and fell in love.

The flavors are fabulous, the broth is rich and has depth. I also love that the creators of Shoki Ramen care about the quality of food they provide. You won't find MSG here. You'll find grass-fed beef, locally sourced ingredients that are fresh, and natural.



When I visit, because I visit often, my ramen dish is an extra spicy, medium Tan Tan Men with thin noodles and a Tamago (organic, seasoned, half-boiled egg). I finish the entire bowl in one sitting, bursting at the seams and in ramen heaven. I have been known to order extra noodles, and extra minced, grass-fed beef because I love my ramen.

A little tip, if you go at lunch, try to go early or late, the place is always packed. I've only been to the location on R Street in Sacramento, and it's a small restaurant that's big on flavor. I've gone on the weekend, and if you do that, you'll likely run into a wait. Be sure to write your name on the list inside the door, and they'll call you right in, once a table is ready. Check the menu online before you go, and you'll be all set to order and enjoy.



Have you tried real, authentic ramen? What is your favorite? How do you take yours? If you haven't had ramen yet, do it, it will change your world.

A little thank you to my friends Anita and Kirsten for indulging my cravings. Anita also helped me film the short video above.

Cheers!

ps. This is not a sponsored post. I just enjoy sharing places I have tried, continue to visit, and love. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to catch future restaurant reviews. If you liked what you read here today, please share it with your social networks.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Five Costco Finds Episode 1 #AFamilyLivesHere

One of my favorite places to shop, is Costco.



I've since lost the love of travailing through a million different stores to get things I don't need or want, and wasting my time and energy on finding nothing worth buying.

When it comes to Costco - I have a deep love for the warehouse. I love finding new things, or treats and sharing them with my friends. I have a friend that always comments, "how do you find all these unique things, I never would've found without you?"

It's because I bore easily, and I love trying new things. Also I can easily spend a few hours browsing every aisle at Costco.

Without further adieu, enjoy Five Costco Finds Episode 1. What are your favorite items at Costco?




Have you subscribed to my YouTube channel? If not, I'll adore you when you do. xoxo


Cheers!


ps. This is not a sponsored post. It's just me, sharing like I do in real life, but on the YouTube.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stories That Unite Us #APAHeritage




May is Asian Pacific American Month. Today I am pleased to share with you one of my own stories, and stories of friends and people I admire. I am honored to host their stories. One of my favorite pastimes is to ask people about their childhood, their experiences, and then listen. I love soaking it all in. We all have stories, we all have lessons, experiences, worth sharing, and remembering. These stories are often so personal, so sacred, that to hear them means we've been blessed.

Recently my friend Pia told me about HBO's East of Main Street, you can find the episodes on YouTube. They're a fresh take on Asian Pacific Americans, done interview style. They are fascinating, and powerful to watch. My kids loved the East of Main Street: Small Talk episode where they asked young children their opinions and thoughts. It's absolutely darling.




If you're looking for a good movie to celebrate #APAHeritage this month, my friend Lakshmi suggested The Hundred-Foot Journey with Helen Mirren. It is a visual feast for the entire family. I highly recommend this gorgeous movie. It made me laugh, ponder, and it made me dead hungry. My daughters thoroughly enjoyed it. The messages they took away were priceless.

Without further adieu, grab a cup of tea, a comfortable seat, and enjoy. 


~~~

Darjeeling Dreams 
by Lakshmi Jagannathan


Lakshmi is a writer/blogger from the Northwest. She is a sassy, savvy angel connector helping entrepreneurs acquire a mindset for success. She is a board member of the non-profit TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Oregon. She likes to walk in Eucalyptus groves, watching monarch butterflies, biking on Saturday mornings and traveling the world meeting animals of every kind. You can read more of Lakshmi's writings here, here and here. You can follow Lakshmi on twitter @BeavertonWriter.

It’s 4 am and we are on a jeep corkscrewing its way up Tiger Hill. It’s cold and my parents, my brother and I snuggle in the back as the driver regales us with tales of his bit part in a Bollywood movie. With its scenic vistas, Darjeeling is a favorite with movie directors. He also promises us to show us the home of Tenzing Norgay, the Tibetan Sherpa guide and mountaineer, who, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, was the first to scale Mount Everest. We reach the top and it feels like we are on the roof of the world and if we only reached up our hand we could touch the sky. 

It’s dark and since this was at a time before hordes of tourists clicked madly on cell phones, only a handful of people are there. As dawn’s early light breaks through indigo skies, we see golden rays lighting up a shadow in the sky – Mount Everest - the highest peak on earth.  Another mountain – the Kanchenjunga - stands like a cloud that has organized itself into a painting. The guide points out the Khyber and Bolan passes - an important part of the Silk Road.  An Indo-European group, from the Steppes of Central Asia, entered India around 1500  b.c.e  through these passes. According to some historians, parts of the ancient Hindu scriptures – The Vedas - were composed during that journey.    



The Himalayas (meaning Abode of Snow) were created when the plate that was India pushed itself against the Eurasian plate, joining up and becoming forever part of the continent of Asia. They were once a under an ancient sea and, apparently, fossils of starfish have been found on the ground.  They are relatively young (hence often called Young-Fold Mountains) and the sad reality, as we have seen from the recent earthquakes in Nepal, is that they are still pushing through. They have had a huge influence on the climate – keeping India much warmer than other regions in the same latitude by protecting it from dry cold winds from the North. They also prevent monsoon winds from going northwards resulting in heavy rainfall in parts of India, but dry deserts in Central Asia. 

My Dad was an Officer of the Indian Railways, so crisscrossing the country by train was a part of my childhood. People always say the British left India many gifts – The parliamentary form of Government, the English language and the Railways to name a few. I am grateful for this legacy. Another aspect of the British presence in India was the “hill-station”. Summers were so hot and fierce that the families of the English would escape to the hills. Here they created replicas of little English towns – quaint cottages, clubs and “The Mall” a promenade where people walked and socialized with each other.




An annual ritual for my family was visiting these towns.  We escaped the heat and dust of the plains. And since I loved British authors (Enid Blyton in the early days and Jane Austen and the like later), for a brief time, I became an English Girl. The Himalayan foothills were my favorite and our trip to Darjeeling was easily one of the highlights of my childhood. In Darjeeling we stayed at the Railway guest house with the impressive name of Craig Mont, a red tiled  roof and gabled windows. I rode a pony on a trail filled with rhododendrons and alpine trees I had never seen in the tropical parts of India and made friends with a Tibetan girl called Binny who was the guide. Later, she helped me buy her national dress – a brocaded purple gown with a pink blouse and sash. It

Darjeeling is synonymous with tea, so no visit is complete without a tour of a plantation. We took a gondola ride overlooking a beautiful estate where tea pickers had collection baskets draped on their backs. At the Keventers farm we saw pigs that were named after Hollywood actors. Edward Keventer was a dairy specialist who had been appointed to supply food to British soldiers in 1890. He established a network of dairy farms and plants that have now become an agricultural business. 

At the Ghum Buddhist monastery we turned prayer wheels and asked for blessings. I remember someone saying that a racecourse we visited – Lebong – was the highest in the world. At the mountaineering institute we saw equipment used by climbers and, much to our surprise, ran into the great man – Tenzing himself – who greeted us with a Namaste – the traditional Indian bow. 

After the trip, much to our chagrin, we discovered that our camera had malfunctioned – so there were no pictures. And this was in the days before video cameras and YouTube, so all I have are sepia memories – just a few fragments that I can link up in my head to make a story. My father passed away a few years later when I was only twelve years old, so I am grateful for holidays like this we had with him. I think of that region now as I see news flashes about Kathmandu. I pray for the people of the Himalayas – the Nepalis, the Tibetans, the Indians and I wish for the earth to be at peace. And hope I can go back there again someday.


~~~

The Language of Baseball
by Eugene Hung


Eugene Hung serves as the lead organizer in Greater L.A. for Man Up Campaign, which mobilizes youth worldwide to stop violence against women and to advocate for gender equality. He also writes the #RaisingAsianAmericanDaughters blog for Asiance Magazine. As a father of two dancing daughters, neither of whom cares for baseball, he began taking tap classes last month. You can follow Eugene on Twitter at @EugHung.


I fell in love with baseball when I was six years old. It was the first sport I ever loved, and the Houston Astros, my hometown team, were the first team of any kind I ever loved.

My grandpa on my dad's side also loved baseball. When he visited Houston from overseas, my dad and I took him to Astros games. When I visited him in Japan (where he taught for many years as a literature prof before he retired back to Taiwan), he took me to see his favorite team, the Yomiuri Giants, and his favorite player, second baseman Toshio Shinozuka - his favorite because he reminded him of me.

But baseball was more than just something we both enjoyed. Because of his limited English and my limited Chinese, baseball became a common language for us. It took a lot of time, and some translation help from my dad, to explain ourselves to each other on most topics. But not when it came to baseball. Baseball was our lingua franca.

When the Houston Astros FINALLY made it to the World Series in 2005 - a moment I had waited for nearly my entire life - my dad was the first to call me, just minutes after the final out. Then my college roommate called.

And then, from across the ocean, my grandpa called. He had been watching the Astros clinch the National League on ESPN International. He knew what a big moment it was for me as a longtime, long-suffering Astros fan. We rejoiced together.

And after we hung up, I started bawling. I was deeply moved by my grandpa's love for me, expressed in his keen interest in what I was interested in, a love for me so strong that unbeknownst to me, he was watching the same game and cheering the same plays that I was, half a world away.

My grandpa died a bit more than three years ago. Not surprisingly, many of my memories of him still center on baseball. And even after he died, baseball continued to serve as a bridge between us. I came across a book on the history of baseball in Taiwan, and lo and behold, there was Grandpa's name! He was mentioned as someone who played a small but significant part in the birth of Taiwanese professional baseball.

Rest in peace, Grandpa. Some day, when the Astros finally win (and not just advance to) the World Series, I know you'll be elated, too.

~~~

Strength From Tragedy
by Anu Venkateswaran




You can follow Anu on Twitter @RockThePurple1 and on Instagram as @Vardhinivenkat.

When I look in the mirror these days, I increasingly see my mother even though she is thousands of miles away. Just thinking of her makes me feel comforted and protected.
    
She left her village in the 1950s and came to Chennai to study and pursue Nursing as a career. It was uncommon for young women to live away from family in India in those days and I try to think how hard it must have been for her to take the first steps. 

My mother has helped lots of people, women especially, in her service at five different hospitals, but she always loved helping the women who would drop by for advice at our home. They would always leave feeling better, whether the problem was a physical ailment or something more obtuse. She was the one gently nudging me at the various forks in my road to consider the scarier option. She firmly believed that Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength, and lives exemplifying that. 

Lastly she was also a health activist from way back then, before it was cool. I will be frank and say, I wasn't too keen about drinking the bitter-melon juices and banana-flower broths. 
         
            Thank you Mom, you are awesome!
~~~
What Do You Mean?
By John Chan

A small town boy from a big city. 

When I was 12, my family immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong. It was 1973. The hardest thing for me to overcome as an immigrant was the language barrier. I'd had some basic English classes when I was in school back in Hong Kong, mainly learning the alphabet and some basic grammar, but nothing prepared me for the complexity and the nuances that native English speakers grew up with.

One incident I still remember was within a few months after joining the local elementary school in the small California town we'd immigrated to. I broke a toy that belonged to a classmate. I don't remember why or how I broke it, but I do remember the teacher asking me did I mean it. The only translation I knew of the word "mean" was what is the definition of something. I just stood and stared at the teacher blankly, not knowing how to answer the question. Looking up the word "mean" on Dictionary.com just now, there are eight different meanings for the word. 

My son is now learning Mandarin in high school. He thinks it's hard. I told him he has it easy. He doesn't have to use it to communicate everyday.

~~~

Want A Happy Life? Eat Chinese Food
by Stephanie Huang Porter

On my first birthday, 1978 in Taipei, Taiwan with my parents, and paternal grandparents.

Stephanie is a food lover, joyful mother, travel addict, irreverent friend and writer. She's really glad you visited today, even though she feels funny writing in the third person. She knows you won't make it awkward. She's all over social media and would would kiss you, full on both cheeks if you would subscribe to her YouTube channel, like her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter, and Instagram. xoxo.

There's this saying that my father has repeated to me, translated into English it says, "To have a happy wife, live in an American house, marry a Japanese wife, and eat Chinese food." All growing up, it was rare to find my mother willing to try other cuisines. She only wanted Chinese food. However, if we had to eat American food, it better be a buffet, or more value for what we paid.

I've met people who have told me they love Chinese food. I've also met people who refuse to eat it. In most cases, sometimes for both sides of the coin, they've never had authentic Chinese food, they've had a hackneyed, American watered-down version of what they imagine Chinese food is.

Growing up my father was the Chef de cuisine, my mother was his Sous chef, and the four of us kids were extras, but required to help out with family meals. My father would return from home, and start yanking things out of the fridge. He'd pull out the most random things, like bok choy, and mustard, or ketchup and carrots. I remember thinking, this is going to be weird and gross. After my mother chopped up all the vegetables, according to the right shape, size and sorted them for my father, he'd work up some alchemy and voila, creations I would gobble up, thrilled by the flavors, and convinced he might have been pulling out things to mess with our minds. 

The requirement to help out in the home, especially the kitchen, taught me techniques, and nudged to my lifelong love of truly good food. The kitchen is my favorite place in my home. I get excited each time my daughters come up to me and beg to help me, as I prepare meals for them.

There are so many dishes we had growing up that are lost to the void of memory, or rather, the lack of memory. You see, my parents never cooked with recipes. It was always a source of intense frustration to me. I wanted to replicate dishes I loved, but there wasn't a guideline; just ingredients and a mouth-watering end product.

To me, this style of cooking is simply the immigrant way. Each new citizen of America comes with whatever skills, talents, dreams they have, they're thrown into varied, and challenging scenarios, and without guidance, without explanation, they make something of themselves. By and large, immigrants succeed in creating something magnificent out of nothing.

I'm admire those that have come before me. I'm grateful for their strength, endurance, sacrifice, and determination. These are character traits I work hard to teach my children, just as they were instilled in me. 

My frustration that I can't replicate recipes my parents made together has since fizzled. Why? When it comes to cooking Chinese food in my own home, I eyeball it. Sorry, kids. 

~~~

Cheers!

ps. If you liked what you read, please share with your family and friends.


Interested in more posts like this?




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Morning Wake Up Moment

Mornings are hard.

Especially when I like to stay up in the wee hours of the evening, so I can enjoy some alone time.



Mornings, my bed is just too well-formed, and warm for my body, and my eyes are too heavy to open. My iPhone alarm that wakes me is always garishly loud, even though I have the volume quite low. When I need to use the porcelain throne, I can nearly convince myself to wait a smidge longer, just to linger in bed.

Once I'm finally up and moving, the first place I visit is the guest bedroom.

That's where my daughters have decided to sleep. They've abandoned their separate rooms, and instead snuggle together. We've had this happen multiple times in their young lives. I love that they not only love each other, they like each other, most of the time.



All the torture of getting up in the morning is erased when I snuggle between my girls to ease them out of the comforting, blissful throes of dreamland, and into the stark, bright light of reality.

The truth is, I love these quiet moments. I love that each day we can begin again. I've loved Anne from Anne of Green Gables since I was a child, and quotes from L.M. Montgomery's lovely novels have always resonated in my head, nearly all my life.

Below is my little YouTube video for you on this lovely Wednesday.




Cheers!


ps. Thank you for stopping by. If you like what you saw, please share with your friends and family and subscribe to my YouTube channel




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother's Day Gift

Eureka!



I've figured it out.

What moms really *need* for everyday.

Mothers don't want dead flowers for Mother's Day.

They don't need more chocolate they can get any old day.

Do you know what moms really want?

I do.

Well, I know what I want for Mother's Day, besides a nap.





What do you want for Mother's Day?

Cheers!





Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Leaving Paradise is Painful

I have so much to catch up on.

Our family was in Maui for about 10 days, really, more like 8-9 days due to travel. It just never seems enough time. I think the ideal time for a trip to Hawaii is closer to two weeks. That would be perfect.

In the meantime, I get to deal with continuing Mac issues (don't get me started). I've found the best way for me to cope is to avoid by being busy, and then hoping I can psych myself up to facing all the frustrating, panic-inducing issues.

While I get back into reality mode, here's a video of our favorite places to stay, eat and play on Maui. You'll want to pop some popcorn. Mahalo!






Cheers!

Friday, March 27, 2015

#DisneySide Villain Valentine Party Lessons

Parenting is an interesting endeavor. Just when you get the hang of it, the little people change things up on you. In my case, they're not quite as little anymore.




We hosted a last-minute #DisneySide Villain Valentine Party at our home the Friday before Valentine's. We had games planned, and activities to do, and then I realized, these kids, ages eight to eleven are at the age where they really don't need me. They are fully independent.

I don't know how to feel about that.

I guess a bit bittersweet.

Wait a second.

Let me just put my feet up.

Ahhhh, that's nice. Wait... did I say bittersweet?

It was a pleasure to have all the food available for them to munch when they wanted, but they did decide to sit down altogether at our dining table. The conversation was so darling, and organic that I didn't stop them, and I didn't want to interrupt them. It was interesting to hear them talk about different dreams they had, and hear them make each other laugh. I was so pleased to watch the little grown ups they were turning into.





I had wanted to have them all paint their nails, villain style, but only a few wanted their nails decorated. Some of them wanted to play with our puppies, others jumped on our tramp, and then some of them watched Annie, the old school version.

The only thing they all did together, other than eat, was our little pin the smile on Mickey.

Watching these kids grow up and seeing how kind they were to each other, made me grateful. I know there are exceptions to this, but by and large I have noticed that children who are respectful, considerate, and kind are raised by parents who model, and reinforce those behaviors at home. As a parent who hosts play dates and parties for my kids, I observe behaviors, and I only want to invite back those kids who I enjoy being around too. Granted, there are some that I invite back because my kids enjoy their company, even when I don't. These are sacrifices we, as parents make. (haha)

It's okay that not every friend of my daughters' are ones that I would like to spend time with too. I am learning that letting go of my girls, after I've taught them the character skills I hope they continue to hone, is a lot easier, and more thrilling than I had anticipated.





Who knew?

I do have to thank my mother for these lessons. She instilled in me the importance of being helpful. She always shared her stories of invitations to her professors homes with her classmates. At the end of a dinner, you could always find my mom, in the kitchen, helping to clean up. My mom told me, if you want to be invited back, you help pick up after yourself, you help the host, to show your gratitude by deed, not just by word. Before we went to anyone's home, she always reminded us to be helpful, and polite. It's the same chat I have with my daughters too. When my daughters notice people they know not doing the polite thing, I simply use those examples as a lesson of what not to do, and ask them how it feels to have someone over who isn't thoughtful, polite and kind. I turn it around and ask them, if you don't like how it felt, would you do the same to someone else? Turns out they get a lesson on villains, and heroes too.

Cheers!


Big Thank you to #DisneySide organizers MomSelect and sponsors for helping us host this party. I was sent a box of materials to help me host this party, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Just Be Yourself #FreshOffTheBoat

You guys, it's Tuesday.

Yo.

You know what that means.

FRESH OFF THE BOAT – ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” stars Forrest Wheeler as Emery, Ian Chen as Evan, Constance Wu as Jessica, Randall Park as Louis and Hudson Yang as Eddie. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)


Yes, a new episode of #FreshOffTheBoat.

Guess what?

I can't wait to watch it with my daughters tonight.

With my daughters and their souvenirs from the Disney/ABC studio store. Big Hero 6 all the way.


Last Thursday I took a whirlwind trip to Burbank, CA to meet with Nahnatchka Khan, writer and executive producer; Kourtney Kang, co-executive producer and writer; Melvin Mar, executive producer; and Randall Park, the actor who plays Louis Huang.

Randall Park, Melvin Mar, Kourtney Kang, and Nahnatchka Khan with the Certified Fresh award from Rotten Tomatoes. 


If you've read my earlier posts about Fresh Off the Boat, you know that I was very nervous about the show. I had seen commercials in the Fall, and every time one of the commercials came on, I was filled with dread. I was so worried we'd be made fun of, misunderstood, or just stereotyped, yet again. Thankfully, and refreshingly so, not the case on Fresh Off the Boat. Last Thursday, I also met people who are truly good at what they do, and sincere in their work to tell character driven stories, that make people laugh.

It was a treat to be invited with a group of bloggers to preview tonight's episode. After the preview we gathered in round table interviews. It was so interesting to learn about the process, and hear more about how the show came to be.


I so want to be in their girl club. With Co-Executive Producer/Writer Kourtney Kang and Writer/Executive Producer Nahnatchka Khan



When you first meet Nahnatchka Khan, you immediately feel comfortable. She has this unassuming, warm presence, that makes you want to hang out with her for hours, just to laugh with her. Kourtney Kang was so gracious to take the time to meet with us. She is seven months pregnant and darling. Some people just look so adorable with a baby bump. Kourtney is one of those. She's also very warm, and when you pair them together; you have Kourtney's no-nonsense, with Nahnatchka and her laid back style - and you have the embodiment of Jessica and Louis Huang's relationship. Comedic gold.

Oh, hello ladies. Just me and brilliant actor, and consummate gentleman, Randall Park.


Melvin Mar and Randall Park are just two really cool, legit dudes. They're both incredibly smart, sharp and friendly. I was impressed at how chill they were. I posted a picture of Randall and I at the event, and one of my friends made a comment that Randall has happy eyes. It's so true. He's a positive, family man, who truly enjoys what he does. Melvin is a guy who is doing everything. I don't know how he had the time to spend with us, he's so busy producing so many different shows, and it just makes you proud to see fellow Asians rocking the industry with quality work.


Chillin' with Executive Producer, Melvin Mar.


Today I want to share with you some of my favorite parts of our question and answer session.

On that moment when Eddie is called a chink in school:

Nahnatchka: When you do a TV show, you never know how many chances you’re gonna get. We didn't know we were going to be able to do 13 episodes. I knew that I wanted that [chink scene] to be part of the pilot because if we’re going to have one chance, let’s come out swinging. Let’s not water it down. We wanted it to be real. The thing is, when you are a person of color, that’s always a part of your life, whether it’s said or not said. Some days it’s not spoken, but it’s still a part of you. People still react a certain way. [That episode] gave Jessica and Louis a chance to react in a way you don’t think is typical, you don’t expect. They don’t side with the school, they don’t apologize for their son, they’re on his side. To me that’s so powerful.

On how the stories develop in the writer's room:

Kourtney: It started with a memoir and now it’s so much bigger. So many of the stories that resonate the most come from real life experience. Now it’s the writers' real life experiences.  The episode where Eddie rides the bus, and he’s traumatized, that was based on this one writer’s real-life experience. The bus was a war zone, how do you survive the bus? It resonates, because we've all experienced that. Natch’s dad has an amazing hair dryer.



FRESH OFF THE BOAT – “License to Sell” – Jessica puts off taking the exam for her real estate license because she fears she isn’t good enough to compete with Orlando’s top realtor. Eddie looks to Louis for advice on how to win over older girl Nicole (guest star Luna Blaise), but puts his own spin on his dad’s suggestions, on “Fresh Off the Boat,” TUESDAY, MARCH 24 (8:00-8:30 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Michael Ansell) RANDALL PARK


Nahnatchka: He had a sit-down hair dryer. Like a salon. But I didn't know it was weird, until my friends came over for the first time, my white friends. They were like, ‘what’s that?" I was like, "that’s my dad’s hair dryer." He’d sit under the hair dryer with a hair net, and read sports illustrated. It was so loud, like a jet airplane. 

Kourtney: [Natch] told us that story, and from that moment we, the writers loved it. For every [episode] we asked, "can Louis get a hair dryer?" We were so excited. There’s something that feels so real; character revealing. To me those are the best moments, when it sort of comes from something real, and then it just builds into something else.

On how Constance Wu kills it each episode with the comedic timing:

Nahnatchka: She has that quality, where the line is funny on the page, and then she says it and it’s three times as funny as you never thought it would be. She’s like the writer’s best friend, she makes you seem better than you are, because she’s so talented. She’s got a comedy timing sense that you can’t teach or guide, it’s inherent. It’s so unexpected.

Kourtney: It’s funny, I was talking to her about it, and she said, when she tries to make Jessica funny, it’s not funny. When she tries to be as true to who Jessica is, that’s when it’s funniest. Because it’s grounded in something that’s real. I think you see that in the performance. It's never how I imagine the line to be, and she’ll say it, and you're like, that’s much more funny; it’s unexpected almost.

On strong women characters:

Nahnatchka: I think Jessica is amazing. I think Louis is fantastic, but Jessica to me, I always love strong women characters. In comedy, I think female characters tend to be beta characters and have to apologize for what they want. We made a thing early on, never to apologize. She’s never going to apologize, even if she does things that are wrong in the pursuit of something. 

Kourtney: I think the second part of that is the Jessica and Louis relationship. I feel like so many times on shows, the guy gets to have all the jokes, and do the fun stuff, and the wife character says, “why’d you do that?” This show is so great, that Natch has done so well, she’s made it where they both mess up, and they both make mistakes, and they both are wrong sometimes. They both have really strong points of view, and sometimes they’re both right. It’s a fair fight. It’s been fun to write [for Jessica and Louis], and they’re both such great actors.



With my lovely lady bloggers and the guys. Tee, TerriAnn, Randall, Melvin, Thien-Kim, and Grace.


On how the show will impact young Asian Americans:

Randall - Growing up I think there’s something really powerful about seeing you represented out there, and being able to identify with a portrayal of you in TV or movies; not only that but having other people see that, outside of your group, they see that and go, “wow they’re just like us in so many ways. They’re different from us too but those differences are cool, not something that we can make fun of. It’s actually like a normal, human part of who they are." 

Melvin - It is a subtle and powerful thing. I remember as a child you have international day, where there’s flags of the country and they draw representations of what that country is, and I remember thinking “I live in America and I’m American," and you see this little picture of a blonde kid for America and you’re just like... You don’t think about it until years later. I’m hoping this show is the beginning of many shows, that help shape that for the next group of Asian American kids. Because America isn’t just blonde-haired people.

Randall - I feel that one show, and one family on TV, or in the movies, is definitely not enough. Then the entire burden of representing everyone falls on one show. But you need that one show to kind of create more shows and more depictions, so hopefully the success of our show will do that.


Shout out to Holli (ctr) for all her hard work, with Thien-Kim (Lt) and I.


On how alike Randall Park is to Louis Huang:

Randall: Out of every character I've played, especially recently, in a weird way this one is the most similar to me. As far as how I’m at home, how I’m with my daughter, and how much I like my family as my priority; and the love that kind of drives [the Huang] family, and my character, that is definitely who I am especially to my family. Coming into work, I love my co-workers, like Louis likes his co-workers.

On what message they want kids to take away from the show:

Randall - Just enjoy the show, don't  think too much about it. Have it be a regular thing in their lives, like this is normal. Kids growing up now, all they know is a black president, and the next president is going to be white, and they’re going to be like, that’s weird. I hope that our show helps usher in that way of thinking for those kids.

Melvin - It’s like a subtle philosophy. In the pilot when Constance says "don’t make waves," don’t be a problem or nuisance, my mom always said that to me. There’s a version of it now, which I hope as it continues, generations learn to speak up a little bit. I’m not saying be a problem, but you know, own a little bit of it.

Randall - Everything about the show, regardless of your race, it really emphasizes just be yourself. Because every character is different, every character is unapologetic, every character comes from a place of love, and I think that’s a good message for the kids, just be yourself.

Just be yourself.

Above my computer I have this quote a good friend gave to me. It says, "Do not wish to be anything but what you are. But be that perfectly."

I love the powerful message of this show. Be you. Don't apologize for where you came from, who you are, be you. Just you. You are enough. To quote Mark Darcy in Bridget Jone's Diary, "I like you very much. Just as you are."

Yo, now bust a move.


FRESH OFF THE BOAT – “License to Sell” – Jessica puts off taking the exam for her real estate license because she fears she isn’t good enough to compete with Orlando’s top realtor. Eddie looks to Louis for advice on how to win over older girl Nicole (guest star Luna Blaise), but puts his own spin on his dad’s suggestions, on “Fresh Off the Boat,” TUESDAY, MARCH 24 (8/7c) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Michael Ansell) CONSTANCE WU


If you couldn't tell, I had a blast. Thank you to ABC/Disney for inviting me. It was lovely.
Fresh Off the Boat airs on Tuesday nights 8/7c on ABC. ABC paid for my round trip flight transportation to Burbank. You can follow Fresh Off The Boat on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All opinions are my own.



Read more coverage of our Fresh Off the Boat experience from my peeps:




Cheers!

ps. There's so much more Nahnatchka, Kourtney, Melvin and Randall shared with us. Stay tuned. I may just reveal more in future posts.



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While you're at it, you can also follow me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.




Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Asian Americans Look Forward With Hope #AAPIVoices

Last night I made tacos for dinner, and today I have corned beef in the slow cooker. This is what I love about America, our diversity. I'm married to a man whose family came from across the pond, and served a mission in Cebu, Philippines. He still speaks Cebuano and a bit of Tagolog fluently. In high school he took German, and can get by with what he remembers. My family hails from China and Taiwan. I lived in the Spanish and Chinese houses at the BYU Foreign Language Student Residence in college.

Our family loves to travel to different countries, and taste the food and culture. There is so much to learn and so much to gain from our willingness to open ourselves to the world around us. As parents, we feel it is our job to raise responsible, caring, thoughtful children, who can help to make the world a better place.

I like to imagine that the issues we face with race in our society is all ancient history, except that it isn't. Just last week I was returning home from a walk. I noticed a neighbor on my street about to get into her car. As I got closer I noticed she was watching me, and sort of waiting for me to get closer. So I smiled and waved a hello. She got out of her car to greet me. I learned that she had been in the US just one year. She and her 13 year old son had moved to our neighborhood from China. Her husband, a doctor, was still in China, since if he moved here, he would lose all his credentials. She in her broken English, and me with my broken Mandarin were able to communicate, and patiently struggle through anything we both couldn't articulate. I asked her how her son was doing with the transition, and what she told me broke my heart.

Her son, who was a great student in China, was hating school. In China he was involved with sports teams, friends, and craved learning. Here, in our comfortable, middle class neighborhood he was bullied by the kids in the school because he was an immigrant, struggling with the language and adjusting to the customs. His mother graciously told me that she was grateful a counselor from the school stepped up to help her son, and things were getting better. Then she said, in such a forgiving manner, "this happened because the people here (mostly white) aren't accustomed to people like us."

Wow.

Just, wow.

I would like to state, vehemently, as "hosts" who live in this great country - we have a responsibility to not only be patient, helpful, and kind to those that immigrate here, but we have a parental duty to teach our children to do the same. Otherwise we are no better than thugs.

We are all human beings in this world. Loving our neighbors should be something we practice. With these posts, I hope that by seeing our faces, learning our stories, we can have a society where we are accepted, and loved, just as we are. I hope stories about kids bullying another kid for being different, stop. I hope they become some ridiculous, weird thing our ancestors used to hear about, because to even contemplate acting like that is ludicrous.

Stories like this, are why ABC's Fresh Off The Boat, and the book by Eddie Huang, of the same title, are relevant, and important to our society's conversations. We can't ignore it, or it continues. Change comes through honesty, and a willingness to sincerely work through the issues. Take the time to read Sharline Chiang's article, Reclaiming 5 Ugly Letters.

For my Asian American brothers and sisters, my hope is that our children live in a world where they are empowered to be whatever they choose to be. I hope that my daughters grow up confident, proud of their heritage, knowing that it's not what they look like that determines what they can or can't do, how they're treated, and that when they look in the mirror they see the beauty we all see. It is still hard for me to believe my sweet friends and family who tell me that they think I'm beautiful. Sometimes I believe it, but there's always that voice in the back of my mind that says, "no, you're not white enough."

Today I'm introducing you to another group of brilliant, interesting women and men. Some are new friends, others are friends I've admired from afar, and some are old friends from my school days. Some share what they hope for, for our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. I'm grateful for each and every one of them. My life is better for people who I can learn from, and look up to.

Without further adieu, check it!
(alphabetical order, of course)



Dean Yuan 

Husband, dad, follower of Jesus, and all-around tinkerer.



Jim Lin 

PR professional, wanna-be tournament bass angler, and dad blogger who has given up counting the kids, animals and stray neighbors in his house. To the outside world, Jim's blog is a repository of lighthearted parenting adventures; to Jim, it is a roadmap that helps him piece together where he's been the past few days, when he suddenly wakes up drooling and disoriented at the office. 


"My hope for my fellow Asian American bloggers is that our experiences and the stories we weave from them can at once be seen as unique to our context, but also carry a universally relevant impact that speaks to anyone with a connected device and time to kill." 

Follow Jim on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.



Joz Wang

Joz does a little too much for her own good: writer, connector, 8Asians cult leader.  

"My vision for starting V3con intersects closely with my hope for AAPIs, that our collective Vision, Visibility, and Voice are amplified and heard."  

You can follow Joz on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



Junko Sasaki

Animal lover, stroke survivor, foodie and a constant dreamer.

"My hopes for AAPI's, include more exposure in media. Less stereotypes. Not all of us are submissive math geeks or manicurists! And speak up!”

Junko would like you to learn more about Moyamoya Disease.  "I was diagnosed with this four years ago and had brain surgery. It's apparently super rare, but common in Asians. There is no cure for it, but the small group that I've continued to share support with are trying to raise awareness."



Kathy Zucker

Mom of 3. Startup founder. Fencer. Dove model. International social media Shorty Awards winner. Real Time Academy Judge.

"Optics matter. Right now, Asians are portrayed in the media in limited roles. Doctors. Computer geeks. These images influence popular perception of what Asians can do.

We teach our kids to be anything they want to be. An astronaut. An archer. A Broadway star. I dream of a day when there is a clear path for AAPI children – and young people of every color – to follow to reach their goals."

You can follow Kathy on Twitter



Mark Wang

Engineer, inventor, father, husband, traveller.

“As the best of both worlds (East and West), I hope that more AAPIs get out of their comfort zone, and embrace traveling, working, and living overseas. The three years I spent in China were among the most rewarding of my life.”

You can follow Mark on Facebook and LinkedIn.




Mira Park


New Jersey native, mom of three, hyperlocal blogger, entertainment junkie, cook/foodie, woman of faith.

You can follow Mira at Playground Talk.



Sheila Bernus Dowd 

Entrepreneur, social media fan girl and currently leads global social media at Go Daddy.  In 2013 Sheila beat breast cancer, and cashed in her savings to take her family of four on a year-long adventure around the world. They lived to tell the tale of sketchy cab rides, eating off of asian food carts and living out of a backpack. 

"My hopes of for AAPI peeps… to be loud and proud of the beautiful, complicated and nuanced AAPI community. I’d love to see more of us  share our stories, cheer each other on and be less judgmental." 

You can follow Sheila on Facebook and Twitter.



Thien-Kim Lam

Writer and blogger Thien-Kim believes life too short to live without her family, her coffee, delicious food, books and bubble baths.

"I want my fellow AAPIs to be able to be their authentic selves and to be able to celebrate their heritage without feeling judged or isolated."

You can follow Thien-Kim on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.



Timothy Dahl

Lifelong DIY enthusiast and is currently fixated on home automation and the Internet of Things (IoT). Timothy's the founder of the home improvement site, Charles & Hudson, and the Webby-nominated DIY site, Built by Kids.

"Entrepreneurship is the best way for AAPI to take control of their own destiny and I encourage them to take the leap."

You can follow Timothy on Instagram and Twitter.



I feel enriched whenever I have the good fortune to meet, interact with, and learn from good people. I'm so grateful for the women and men who shared their time, voices, faces, and hopes with you today. If you know of any other women and men who you think would be interesting to learn more about, please drop me a line.


Sharing is caring. If you liked what you read today, feel free to share the post. Xie xie!
While you're at it, you can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Cheers!



Monday, March 16, 2015

Crocker Art Museum #Sacramento


Teardrop, multi-color on white #3 by Mineo Mizuno (stoneware) 

I wanted to let the docents know, I'd be happy to take this one home.



I've lived in the Sacramento area since 2003. I only just discovered the lovely Crocker Art Museum last week, on a field trip with my oldest daughter.

*GASP*

I know!


If I think too hard about how many years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds I could've spent in that time visiting the Crocker Art Museum, I might just go a little bit insane.

I love it there.


Violet, Yellow, and Green by Martha Alf (oil on canvas)


This past June our family visited NYC as a family, for the first time, and I dreamt about living there, and semi-living at The Met while my daughters were in school. Such a lovely dream. So, it's a bit of a thrill to find the Crocker Art Museum. It's like having a small wing in The Met, here in the Sacramento area.

If you haven't visited, don't wait 12 years to discover it. Do it now.



In 1868, Judge Edwin B. Crocker purchased the property and buildings on the corner of Third and O Streets in Sacramento. In 1885 the Crocker Art Museum was the first public art museum in the Western United States. The collection is varied and expansive.


Market Scene, Sansome Street, San Francisco by William Hahn (oil on Canvas)


Our guide told us that the family made their money during the railroad days, and that Crocker took his daughters to Europe for a two-year tour, to collect pieces of art. The museum architecture is a mix of old world Italian architecture and modern sensibilities. It is truly, a pleasure to visit.


Indians hunting deer by Henry Cleenewerck (oil on canvas)


While you're there you should also hit up Estelle's Patisserie, you will thank me.

Right now the Crocker Art Museum is hosting the Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880-1910 through April 26, 2015. My daughters and I are excited about this, as we learned about Lautrec last year through the Meet The Masters program. We're also keeping our fingers and toes crossed, as we have Paris on our list of places we hope to visit.


High Hoofers by William Chambers (oil on canvas)


I love art, I love how it can change your perspective, elicit emotion, and wonder. I may not be one of those exceptional artists, but I am an ardent appreciator. I like to think artists need people like us.




The Crocker Art Museum is open Tues-Sun 10 am - 5 pm, Thurs 10 am - 9 pm, closed on Mondays. The third Sunday of each month is a "Pay What You Wish" day, or free day. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 7-17, ages 6 and under are free. For more information, check out their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


20,000 Turquoise Curves (ceramic) by Bean Finneran


The Crocker Art Museum also has a lovely Crocker Cafe by Supper Club. When I worked at the BYU Museum of Art while I attended university, the museum cafe had the best food. It's no different here. Your mind and your mouth will be happy.

Widescreen (oil + acrylic on canvas, stretched over wood) by Daniel Duke


If you go with kids, you can skip across the street and enjoy the large grassy lawn before, or after your visit to the museum.




Cheers!