Friday, July 15, 2011

Goodbye, Harry Potter!

Today marks the end of an era. It's the official release date of the final movie in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. I haven't really given much thought about how I felt about a series I really love coming to an end, even though I had already read the book and knew the outcome, until I left the movie theater today and heard some people saying, "this is the last's the end..." in a sad tone. But it is sad - I often find myself comparing other books and movies to Harry Potter. Twilight for instance. Whoever said that Stephanie Meyer was the next J.K. Rowling is delusional. And don't even get me started on the horrible messages Twilight passes along to it's target audience: teenage girls. In any event, what I'm trying to say is that J.K. Rowling is "brilliant" (imagine that said in Hermione's voice) and I think the movies were well done, particularly in staying true to the books in every way.

Back to the movie...I must've stepped in doggy doo earlier this week because I got extremely lucky and was able to attend an advanced screening on Monday night. While my friend and I were waiting in line, the movie people announced that the screening was in 3D. Personally, I was a little disappointed to hear that announcement because I'm not big on the whole 3D craze. But I have to say, especially after seeing the movie again on the regular screen, that the 3D effects were pretty impressive. Not particularly necessary, but cool nonetheless. It almost made the 2D version a bit plain by comparison.

The movie lasted almost exactly two hours and I thought it was well done. Of course, there are a few things I would have liked to seen expanded a bit more, but that's one of the expected downfalls of turning a book into a movie. Was it my favorite movie of the series? I'm not sure yet -- I'll need to think about it a bit more. I tend to be sucked in by my love for the series and every book or movie I see seems to be "the best" (although I will admit that Order of the Phoenix was my least favorite book). The actors have definitely come a long way since the Sorcerer's Stone. And there are some great, laugh-out-loud funny, lines in the movie, some of which I don't recall being in the book and coming from people that you don't necessarily picture being humorous.

While I'm sad to see the series end, the timeless Harry Potter series will live forever in the books, DVDs, Blu Ray, and whatever other form of media comes along in the future. As for me, I will be spending my weekend re-reading The Deathly Hallows.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vibram Fivefingers

Today I went on an urban trek. For weeks I've been saying that I would go and check out Vibram Fivefingers at the Wheatgrass Center in Kaimuki, so today I decided to make an excursion out of it.

Here are a couple of links to the Wheatgrass Center and info on Vibram Fivefingers:
Wheatgrass Center
Vibram FiveFingers

I walked up to the Wheatgrass Center on Center Street off of Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki from my place - it took about 40 minutes at a casual pace. Vibram FiveFingers are available at many other locations including Uyeda Store, The Running Room, and Robin's, but I wanted to support the Wheatgrass Center since I used to work for the former owners, Jean and Wayne Fukuda, who have since passed away. Thankfully, the Wheatgrass Center has maintained great customer service, which is why many people choose to shop there, and I was not disappointed.

The two women working today were wonderful and patient in explaining the various FiveFinger models. A guy walked in about the same time as me and seemed to have a similar knowledge base as me, so that worked out well when the sales women were explaining things. I tried on a sample pair to get an idea of sizing before delving into a specific model and color. These guys have a pretty extensive selection! I decided to start off with a pair of Classics, pictured above, and maybe later on I'll look into some of the other models designed for running or more vigorous activity.

Why would I want a pair of gecko-footed looking shoes? (Especially since I loathe and am almost deathly afraid of lizards...) I started reading about them a while back and how they are supposed to be good for you since they allow your foot to work naturally, while offering protection. I also started thinking more about them because of my Pilates training. My Pilates instructor and I recently came to the conclusion that I walk funny. As a result, my calves are overdeveloped and there are some muscles and joints I should be using more while walking. Hopefully the FiveFingers can help me accomplish that, although I've also been making a conscious effort to not walk funny, which seems to be helping. It might also help straighten out my baby toe which has a tendency to curl inward. Maybe I should take before and after photos of my toes!

In any event, I've only had my Vibram FiveFingers for about 9 hours now, but so far so good. They are very comfortable. While you can order them online, I would strongly suggest trying them on in person. Besides the fitting sample, I tried on two pairs, the same size and style, and the one I ended up purchasing was more comfortable than the other pair I tried on. And if you're on Oahu, I highly recommend the Wheatgrass Center in Kaimuki, which has a great selection and offers great service too.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Twice a Week Torture

My job basically consumes my entire life between January and April, and therefore gives me little time to squeeze in anything resembling exercise or fitness. Even when I do have time, I am usually exhausted and just want to lie in a vegetative state. However, while I was never the type to be involved in organized sports, I do like to be outdoors and participate in activities and exercise. In my younger days, I'd spend time skating, shooting hoops, or going to the beach. Depending on my social circles at the time, I also went through phases of shooting pool and fishing (I know, it's not exercise, but it is some form of activity!). My one pretty constant activity is walking, which at times has turned into jogging.

A while back, probably over 10 years ago, my friend Liann started teaching Pilates. Liann is one of those people everyone just loves to be around because she is always bubbly and positive. I'm pretty sure she could sell ice to Eskimos if she wanted to, and hence, when she asked if I wanted to come to her class, I quickly agreed. Really, how hard could Pilates be? Isn't it just stretching? The short answer is: HELL no!

What is Pilates? I'm really not good at articulating it, but I can tell you that it's not like yoga. While I have never tried yoga, its basis appears to be more of a spiritual practice that helps lead to mental and physical well-being. Pilates involves a lot of control and proper breathing to help build core strength. While you don't need equipment to do Pilates, there are some contraptions and tools that can be used.

Back to the torture sessions...way back then, I started off in a group class. For anyone who wants to try Pilates, you really can't learn it from a video. You need someone there to demonstrate and correct your technique and form. Over the years, I've been working off and on with Liann. A couple years ago, a small group of us would go to Kapiolani Park during lunch time. Then I started going to Liann's house with one other woman and Liann would train us both at the same time. But this year, it's just Liann and me. "No more hiding," she said. She will catch me if I'm cheating. Although most of the time, I don't realize I'm cheating until she points it out to me.

I decided that instead of once a week, I'd try twice a week. Pilates with a private trainer is expensive, but I'm at a point in my life where I feel that it's worth it for my health. Plus, Liann is a great trainer and friend. Not only does she help train me with Pilates, she'll look at other lifestyle factors and help guide me as to how else I can improve my health and fitness. She tailors my sessions to work on areas of my body (specifically, my hip flexors) that may need more help since I also do a lot of walking. She also stretches me out and "massages" me. I have quotes around the word "massages" because it's not like getting a massage at a day spa - it's more like shiatsu or sports therapy massage. She knows about all these weird muscles that most of us never heard of and she'll almost bring me to tears as she rubs these areas. But it's one of those "good pain" things.

And then there are the Pilates contraptions. The main one is the Pilates Reformer, or what I affectionately refer to as the "torture device," which can be used in may different ways to work various muscle groups. We've also used exercise balls, resistance bands, and foam rollers. While Pilates does involve stretching and can actually lengthen you, it also works on building muscle. I can tell you that my abs, arms, and legs feel it.

I just completed my 4th week and there have already been noticeable results. Changes were noticeable just after my first week - at first I thought it was in my mind, but then Liann said, "Is your body changing shape already?" I've also been walking pretty frequently, about 3-4 times per week and have been more cognizant of what I'm eating. Since the beginning of May I've lost about five pounds, but more importantly, I've lost inches and my body has changed shape by becoming leaner and toner. My flexibility has also improved.

I have a ways to go and need to work on setting more concrete goals, but Pilates combined with walking, has proven to be a satisfying way for me to get fit. Pilates is more of a strength-training type of exercise and walking is my cardio exercise, so the two balance well. Together with being more aware of what I'm consuming and throwing in an occasional hike or swim, my fitness regimen is well-balanced and works for my lifestyle.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Yes, yes, it's been over a year and a half since I have updated my blog. At this point, I think my already very limited readership has probably dwindled down to one person. My guess is that sometime this weekend, I will get an e-mail from Florist Girl saying, "you updated your blog!" And if I don't get that e-mail, then, well, I lost my one loyal reader!

What made me decide to update now? Who knows. I had all but abandoned Kendra's Adventures in favor of Facebook, which I've found to be a great way to multitask: it helps me keep in touch with friends and colleagues, particularly those who are far away, and it also helps me to chronicle my life. Some people think it's a self-absorbed thing to do, to have a page and a "wall" all about you. But I don't think of it that way (or maybe I'm more self-absorbed than I thought). I enjoy reading what other people are up to, where they are traveling, and how their kids are doing. And there are some people who post inspirational quotes every day - I love that, and sometimes those quotes are what help lift me up when I am feeling low.

Besides that, like I said, Facebook helps me kill two birds with one stone - I have a journal for myself, but I can keep in touch with people I otherwise might not have contact with. For example, I just got back in touch with someone I spent practically every day with during the summer before my sophomore year in high school. And even work friends - I can actually go several months without seeing people that work on the same floor in my building! But Facebook allows me to keep up with them. I have also found a niche for myself - food porn. People seem to like my food pictures, and apparently they have even inspired people to try places they'd never been before. Some people call and e-mail me asking for suggestions on where to eat lunch or take a visitor for dinner.

But back to the resurrection...I think it's a result of a culmination of realizations. First of all, everyone needs some kind of outlet. Personally, I think everyone should journal or have some means of reviewing their thoughts on a fairly regular basis. I believe it's important for one's mental health, as well as to sort out thoughts and problems. Secondly, I've realized that I keep way too much bottled up. The problem is I don't realize things are bottled up until some unfortunate soul in my life has the misfortune to be around when the cork pops to listen to me rant or suffer through me having a mini-meltdown. Thirdly, blogging is fun. Time-consuming, especially for someone as anal-retentive as I am, but fun.

One of things that inspired me to write today is reading other people's blogs. I love reading them, no matter what the subject or if its written by a complete stranger. Some bloggers are really great writers and offer great insight on a basic philosophical level. Of course others offer great insight on specific topics, such as food or vacations. While I hope a few people will read and enjoy my blog, as sparse as the posts may be, I am satisfied knowing that it is a creative and somewhat emotional outlet for me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Last Full Day in LA...time for Kogi BBQ!

This trip report is FINALLY coming to a close! I do have ulterior motives, since I promised to myself and my nine readers that I wouldn't post anything else until I finished writing about this trip. And this morning I went to Cream Pot, a restaurant I've been wanting to try for eons, so I'm itching to write about it. So onward with my final full day in LA!

I didn't have anything planned during the day of my third and last day in LA, so I decided to go shopping. I really am not that much of a shopper, and I do 95 percent of my clothes shopping on the mainland (especially Vegas) or online. If I buy clothes at home, it's usually because I need something in particular. I know, I should patronize business at home so at least my tax dollars stay there, but this is just one of my quirks. Ironically, I find things that fit better on the mainland too - ironic given that I am relatively short and you would think that short people stuff would be more readily available in Hawaii.

Anyway, I'm I decided to go to Del Amo in Torrance, one of my favorite malls. It's pretty large, and it would be easy to spend hours there, which I did. I managed to do a fair bit of clothes shopping. I also ate at Chick-fil-A for lunch. I didn't know that they had locations on the West Coast. The one and only time I ate at Chick-fil-A was in Nashville, TN, in 2006. I don't eat a lot of chicken, but Chick-fil-A is so good! I can't really describe why, it just is. I probably appreciated it even more since it's not something readily available to me.

I was scheduled to meet Florist Girl and her hubby at Glendale Galleria after she finished work. After shopping at Del Amo and dropping off the loot at the hotel, I decided to head over to the Glendale area early to avoid traffic. I think I left at about 2 or 2:30, and I still got stuck in traffic going north. I still made it to Glendale Galleria with sufficient time to look around before meeting up with Florist Girl. Glendale Galleria was a favorite of mine, but I didn't find much this time. I was also disappointed to see that a cute little tea shop had closed.

The reason I went up to Glendale was to find the ever-elusive Kogi BBQ truck! (Okay, maybe not that elusive...) Kogi gathered a large following by using Twitter as a tool to communicate its location to clientele. Jujubee and Eggo are big fans too. Unfortunately, they were unable to come out with us on our journey to Kogi bliss.

This was quite an experience that I was unusually excited about. I can't even fully explain my excitement, other than the elusiveness of the whole thing. And I'm not even one who necessarily cares for the elusive, and I definitely am not a fan of crowds, which I knew would be waiting at the Kogi truck. But I was still excited. I think it gave me some kind of adrenaline rush.

Florist Girl, the D-man, and I hopped in a car and went in search of the Kogi BBQ truck. I make it sound like it's hard to find, but it's not that bad. On Twitter they usually post what street or location they plan to be at a particular time. On this day, it was Eagle Rock. The D-man, who is also a Kogi fan, did some research and knew exactly where we needed to go. Parking can be a challenge - the truck was on a pretty busy street near a 7-Eleven and close to a strip mall with a Longs Drug Store. We parked on a side street near Longs.

We walked just a short distance to a street corner, which was the end of the line. My guess was that there were about 40-50 people in front of us, and the line wasn't moving. Florist Girl noticed that people weren't walking past us with food, and the truck may not have even been officially opened yet. Despite the wait, it remained an exciting experience for me. Several people walked by commenting on the line and wondering if it was "worth it." After waiting about 20-30 minutes, the line started moving.

Once we got close enough, we took a look at the menu. Not too complicated - tacos, burritos, and a few "Kogi Favorites" including Kogi Dogs, Kimchi Quesadillas, and Kogi Sliders. There was also a "Chef's Choice," which in hindsight we regretted not asking about. After we ordered, we moved off to the side and had to wait a few more minutes before our food was ready. And not everything was ready at the same time, but that allowed us time to wrap up the items we did receive. It's a pretty no-frills operation, so everything is served in little trays, and they have foil on the side for you to wrap up your food, as well as bag it and grab utensils and napkins.

While D-man waited for the food, Florist Girl and I walked over to the 7-Eleven to pick up drinks. They actually had a horchata fountain! I never had horchata before, and cheated by just putting a splash into the cup and tasting it before filling it all the way. I liked it a lot! Very cinnamon-y. Perhaps not the greatest choice of drink to accompany the Kogi BBQ food, but it was probably a one-time opportunity for me to try horchata for a while.

After we got all of our grub, we had to find a place to sit and eat. By now, the line had gone down significantly, and we wondered if we should have just waited until a little later (as opposed to the time the truck was scheduled to arrive)? But, we rationalized our decision by stating that they might run out of some food items at some point. We walked toward the car and noticed a little loading dock area behind Longs with a nice little sidewalk we could park ourselves on. Works for us!

We shared several items: the kimchi quesadilla, Kogi sliders, tacos (kalbi, spicy pork, and chicken), and a spicy pork burrito. The quesadills contained an interesting combination of cheese and kimchee - not as strange as you might think! It was topped with a sauce that tasted like it contained sriracha, but other stuff as well. I think D-man thought it had a hint of peanut sauce. This was okay, but not my favorite. Worth a try once, but probably would skip it next time. The sliders, however, were yummy! It included kalbi, a veggie mixture, cheese, and whatever special sauce they put on it. You can't go to Kogi without trying the tacos. They are only $2 a piece, and 3-4 of them would be a decent meal for most people. Although the combination of ingredients is tasty, the sauce is what makes these things so addictive. The D-man ordered a spicy pork burrito. On my next visit, I think I'm gonna order myself one of those. What's nice about going with several people is that you can share and try different items. Even as we sat there, a woman walked by and said, "was it worth the wait?" I think so!

After we finished our meal and our chatting, Florist Girl and the D-man dropped me off at my car and we said our goodbyes. It was nice being able to see Florist Girl every day of my visit to LA.

The next day, my flight wasn't scheduled to leave until late afternoon, so I had a lot of time to kill. I slept in and took a walk along the water, something I intended to do earlier during my stay, but surprisingly never found the time to do! When it was time to checkout, I piled my stuff in the car and headed for South Bay Galleria, a mall I came across while driving around the day before. This might be my new favorite mall in Southern California!

I was hungry since I hadn't eaten breakfast, so I went to the food court to scope things out. I came across a great place, Khan's Mongolian BBQ. Fast food Mongolian BBQ! I don't think I've had Mongolian BBQ since the place in Kaimuki closed. It was fast, good, and cheap! After eating, I shopped, not really intending to buy anything. After all, I had already packed my bags. But some kind of weird shopping bug suddenly took control of me and I went on a shopping rampage! In my own defense, I had been searching for pants the entire trip and couldn't find anything to my liking, until this last day. And there were some unbelievable deals all around! I think stores had marked items down in anticipation of the upcoming 4th of July weekend. I walked out of the mall barely able to carry the bags! I stood in the parking lot shoving everything into my luggage wherever I could find space, and one of my bags was overweight. However, the Hawaiian Airlines agent was nice enough to let me slide by!

And that concludes my trip report. It was a terrific trip, but after being gone for two weeks, it was really nice to be home and eat a home-cooked meal. I love eating out, but there is something comforting about preparing your own meal in your own kitchen. And yay! I actually completed an entire trip report for the first time ever! I have Florist Girl to thank for periodically bugging me and motivating me to finish what I started! Hope my nine readers enjoyed this report. And now on to other things!

(photos to follow)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Meeting Little Jake

Day 2 in LA was reserved for Jujubee, another very good friend that I've been friends with since the 7th grade. She probably knows more about me than any other person on earth, and she always seems to understand me when others may not. I was especially excited about visiting her this trip because I would be meeting Little Jake, her newborn son, for the first time.

I decided to have breakfast at the hotel
before departing on my journey to Glendale. This was actually my first trip driving on my own in the LA area. I had driven around Torrance on my own before, but not on the freeways. Although I am a pretty confident driver, the LA freeways were always intimidating to me, and when I would travel with my ex, he would do the majority of the driving, or would at least be in the car with me during those rare times that I drove in LA. The drive to Glendale would be a major test for me, since my drive into Redondo Beach was via the Pacific Coast Highway.

I managed fine, and was quite proud of myself! Although people complain about California drivers, I think they drive smart. They don't slow down to let you on the freeway, but generally, they leave enough space. You just have to keep up (as it should be - sometimes Hawaii drivers are too nice, and will inconvenience many others to be nice to one person). And I don't mind the speed at all. The only thing I was not comfortable with was the driving distance. They follow each other VERY closely there, and if you're not paying attention and someone slams on the brakes, it could be disaster - which is my theory about why there are so many massive pileups there. But, aside from that, it was fine, and I made it to Jujubee and Eggo's house safely and without getting lost.

Jujubee's mom was there visiting and helping with Little Jake, who barely made a peep while I was there! Eggo is such a good daddy and was caring for Little Jake while Jujubee and I caught up and drove out with Jujubee's mom to pick up lunch. While we were driving, I thought it was funny that there is a Honolulu Street in Glendale! Glendale is such a cute place, and we went to an area that was fully of boutique shops and restaurants. We decided to pick up lunch from Zeke's a BBQ place. I had a pulled pork sandwich, which was excellent! It was huge too, I don't think any of us, except maybe Eggo, finished our food.

I spent just about the whole day just relaxing and chilling with them, even getting so comfortable that I fell asleep for a little while! It's nice to have friends that you can do that with - just be comfortable doing nothing. Later in the afternoon, I was awaiting a call from Florist Girl, who I planned to meet for dinner. She came over to Jujubee's house since she also lives in the general vicinity.

Jujubee helped us decided on going to Dish for dinner, a nice, kind of homey, place in La Canada Flintridge, near Glendale. Jujubee even provided us with directions and a discount coupon! It's too bad I was being a dope and went the wrong way on the freeway! I was driving separate from Florist Girl, and we got separated. However, I realized my error immediately and knew how to get back the way I needed to go.

Dish is a very unassuming restaurant that seems to be pretty popular. The service was good and the prices reasonable. I started with a tasting flight of 3 2 oz. glasses of wine - a Riesling from Oregon, a Chenin Blanc from South Africa, and a White Shiraz from Australia. Although I love California wines, I decided to try wine from other areas. The food was awesome - I had a trout with tarragon butter served with fresh green beans, and potatoes w/ bacon (kind of like skillet potatoes, or maybe roasted). So good! I decided on trout since it's not something readily available in Hawaii, and definitely not as fresh. Besides the food, the company was good, as usual. Florist Girl and I were able to catch up even more.

Day 2 in LA was a most excellent day! Coming up, day 3 (pictures to follow)...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Journey to Redondo Beach

After Avila Beach, I was headed to Redondo Beach, my final destination this trip. The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club would be my home for three nights.

Mapquest told me the drive would be about 3 1/2 hours, so I planned on taking about four to five hours to drive from Avila Beach to the LA area. I tend to want to stop to take pictures and explore, so I padded the time. I anticipated getting there at about Noon, but I think it was closer to 1 p.m., after leaving Avila Beach sometime around 7 a.m.

The drive was interesting. A few years ago, I went to Santa Barbara, so I was looking forward to driving through the area since I enjoyed it so much. An unexpected surprise was to find The Hitching Post, the restaurant/bar seen in the movie "Sideways." I also drove past Eladio's, across from Stearn's Wharf, which I remembered being a great lunch spot (sole piccata, yum!!).

The Portofino was a nice hotel in a pretty convenient location on the water at Redondo Beach. I chose a room on the water, since I had read so much about being able to see sea lions from the room. I'm glad I chose the view of the water, because the view of the parking lot would have been quite boring. It was nice being able to open the balcony door and enjoy the sights and sounds.

My first item of business was to have lunch with an old friend from high school. I'll call her Florist Girl, since that's the first job I recall her having in high school. Florist Girl came to pick me up at the hotel, then we drove around a bit trying to decide what to eat, with the help of OnStar (or whatever navigational device was in her car). I mentioned Olive Garden, so we found one near Del Amo Mall. I know Olive Garden is kind of "generic" Italian food, but I still love it! It doesn't help that they taunt us here in Hawaii by showing all those commercials, even though we don't have an Olive Garden. But, I digress...I ordered a yummy Grilled Steak Crostada.

After that, Florist Girl offered to take me to Trader Joe's for my omiyage. I didn't want to buy much in Vegas since I still had a long trip ahead of me, so I saved the bulk of the shopping for LA. One of the big finds this trip was a salt that sure looks like Fleur de sel, but with a different name, and at a much lower cost. At TJ's, the salt was about 1/3 the price I paid at Foodland for a bottle of Fleur de sel that was 1/2 the size of the TJ's salt. More recently, I learned that TJ's sells some pretty awesome salami! You can bring it home since it doesn't need to be refrigerated until it's opened.

Florist Girl asked if there was anything else I wanted to do or see, and I couldn't think of anything, so we headed back to the hotel. However, we had a serendipitous moment. We spotted a Penguins! As in Penguins yogurt. When we were in high school, that was a pretty trendy thing. Although Florist Girl has lived in Southern California for a number of years, even she didn't know that Penguins still existed, so it was a pretty exciting find! We had to spin around and have some. I was glad we found it and decided to stop because it also allowed us to spend more time together to sit down and chat. Florist Girl is one of those people you can not see or talk to for a very long time, yet just pick up wherever you left off as if time hadn't passed at all.

Since it was a long day, I decided to stay in and order room service. The hotel restaurant, Baleen, has received some pretty good reviews. The food didn't disappoint. I had a bowl of clam chowder, which was made with smoked bacon and potatoes - and we all know that bacon makes everything better! Next was a reconstructed Caesar salad - I'm not sure what was "reconstructed" about it. I think this was pretty standard. Since I was only having soup and salad, I rationalized that I could also order a creme brulee - yummy! I love fruits, particularly berries, on the mainland.

To be continued...(pics to follow)