Monday, December 08, 2008

All those wedding trips finally paid off

Sigh, I never get tired of looking at this picture. They are so gosh darn cute.

Anyway, so, all that flying back and forth I did this year--mostly for weddings--paid me a little dividend. I was agonizing over whether to fork over the $270 bucks just to go home the weekend after Christmas because holidays just aren't the same without family. Sorry, but there's a big part of me that is sick of forking over couple hundred bucks so many times this year. I've even been looking on Craigslist for odd jobs I might be qualified for just to have some extra spending money. Well, I almost dismissed an e-mail from Southwest yesterday as just a solicitation. I read it closer today and I saw that I purchased enough trips this year for two free one-way trips!!! So, now I can go home for the weekend feeling a lot less guilty because all I had to do was pay the $5 security taxes. It will be a really short visit, unfortunately. But I suppose it's better than nothing. Christmas has come a lot earlier this year. So, to all a goodnight!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Post-election time at last!!

Finally, the day the media had been anticipating for a year and a half has come and gone. I logged a lovely 12-hour work day on Tuesday. But the madness was both Tuesday and Wednesday. See, on Tuesday, I went out to interview voters in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe about how they felt about the election, their vote for prez and marriage as being between a man and a woman. I spent like three and a half hours finding people to talk. You sometimes meet the quirkiest people on the street. In Tempe, I finally found someone who had voted for McCain. This 59-year-old independent voter proudly told me that he came out to vote despite his doctors telling him he had to stay home. See, he had undergone a "medical procedure" that morning and was sedated and stuff. At first he didn't want to tell me what the procedure was, which was fine. But then he took off his sunglasses and was like, "See? Don't I look lucid?" So, I asked if the procedure was something done on his eyes. That's when he just up and told me that he had undergone a colonoscopy(!). I had no idea what to say. Tried to segue into questions about gay marriage. This man said he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman and quickly followed it by saying he has no problem with gay people. Someone at the office suggested we write "After getting a colonoscopy, John Smith said he has no problem with gay people." Tsk, tsk. Naughty!!

Well, there was still more running around the day after the election. I had to go down to the resort where McCain had conceded the race to do a "cleaning up after the party" story. It was strange parking my car where I often go jogging on the weekends. The resort borders a canal very popular among runners. Anyway, I had the hardest time finding a hotel guest who wasn't a member of the media or McCain's staff. Then I saw a very tall man walking and a little alarm went off--my "I recognize a celebrity" alarm. It was Jon Voight ("Coming Home," Angelina's dad). I remembered reading he was a Republican. I sort of just fell into step with him and he was playfully suspicious when I said I was a reporter. He was like "Why should I talk to you?" I said because we are objective. So, he put his arm around me while we talked. Odd. I didn't know he was a touchy-feely type. After our conversation, I went walking some more. I met some journalists from Spain (Viva Espana!) who told me the Palin children were in the nearby swimming pool but I couldn't confirm it. They suggested I try to find more guests at the gym or another pool. So, I sort of wandered down a bunch of hallways 'til I ended up at another smaller swimming pool. It was deserted. I was just about to open the gate to wait for people to come when a couple came from the other side. They laid down on deck chairs. I was debating whether to approach them when the man took off his cap. I saw it was Joe Lieberman. So, I walked over, made eye contact with his wife and chatted with them for a few minutes. I said upfront I was a reporter. I felt bad interrupting him when he was clearly trying to relax but they shouldn't have been surprised that there were media about. I don't know if he believed me when I said I honestly did not know they were going to be there. Man, I felt like I had a role in "Alice in Conservative Wonderland." Only in Arizona. Anyway, helping on the election has been quite an adventure. Despite the grueling schedule and little sleep, I wouldn't change things. Now back to normal with normal now being having a black president!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just vote already!!

Yes, for those of you who have seen my Facebook photos, I never get tired of posting a picture from these Halloween ghost cupcakes. I made the ghosts myself. Well, not the gum paste, but I used a ghost-shaped cookie cutter and edible ink to draw the little faces.

Anyway, I will do a jig or some kind of happy dance when this presidential election is over! I can't remember when was the last time I was so eager for something to end. Everyone at my office is stressed; we all have these assignments hanging over our heads. A lot of things I'm scheduling for after Tuesday--haircut, working on a travel story, massage. Well, those will all be more enjoyable after Nov. 4 any way. I am bummed that Tuesday, I have to work like noon-midnight. I will have to skip reading at the shelter. So none of my pals there we'll see me for two weeks. At least last night, it was a little bit livelier than usual as we wanted to something special for the kids before Halloween. About five of us, myself included of course, made cupcakes. It was so cool to see all the different flavors and decorations people did. And when they were all out on the table, it was like a great cupcake buffet. I think my heart did skip a beat. :p Not a sight one sees often. I wish I had brought a camera. Anyway, I'm already thinking about what to make when we do a X-mas party for them.

I am hoping lots of people take advantage of early voting so the wait isn't too long at the polls. We'll see. The only thing I'll sort of be disappointed about after the election is over is fewer SNL political specials.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

1-800 Flowers contest

I'm trying to win a contest here people by linking to a blog post. Bear with me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The firefighters and I meet again!

That is me in the driver's seat of a fire engine. On Sunday, there was this street fair (more like a parking lot fair) a few blocks away from mi casa. My mom and I ambled over. It was basically a chance for a lot of local merchants to do some self-promotion. Well, there were of course neighborhood police and fire people there. I saw a bunch of kids climbing around a fire truck so I went over and sure enough, some of the firefighters were the same guys from that dark and stormy night. They were very nice and recognized me right away. But the most important thing is that I finally got some feedback on my cupcakes since I didn't get to see them eat any. They all said they were really good and the only problem was that they ate too many. Aah, music to a baker's ears. They also said if I EVER want to bring more, I should. LOL, I just might. After all, Halloween is coming up. That's like Super Bowl for cake decorators. Anyway, I pointed to the fire truck and asked "Is this what you took me home in?" Yup, it was. So, of course I needed a picture. They offered to lift me up there like they did with the other little kids and I was like "Um...NOOOO." So, that was fun. And my mom got to meet some of them and make fun of me. That's always nice for her.

On a different subject, my last entry should be null and void. The Friday before last, I got a black envelope in the mail. I thought it was a Halloween party invitation. Nope. It was for another wedding!! When will this madness end? I really thought I was done. Oh well. Sheesh, I'm one funeral away (knock on wood) from being a Hugh Grant movie.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Yipee! No offense to those who were kind enough to put me on their guest list, but the excessive dress shopping and money spent on other unforeseen things was a bit draining. Still, it was nice to see what different couples did to really personalize the art form that is holy matrimony. In honor of this wave of nuptials, I just need to hand out some superlatives to the four unions I witnessed this past spring and summer.

Best reception food: Tony & Laura. I think their feast spoiled me for other weddings where you just get salad, a roll and an entree. They had a 3-table buffet representing three different kinds of cuisine--Napa wine country, Italian North Beach and Asian food for Chinatown. And I don't think I ate one bland thing that night.

Best slide show: Alvin & Jen. Alvin's sense of humor really came through especially with the choice in music. And I loved how it ended with pictures of their ceremony to Carrie Underwood singing "Ever Ever After."

Best entertainment: Brian & Marianne (Phoenix-based friends who don't even know I write a blog). Marianne is Filipino and Brian is half. They opened the reception with dancers from ASU's Filipino Student Association. It was a great way to lend some cultural nuances to the evening and their dances used some interesting props.

Best favors: Randy & Ellie. I liked their all candy table with little Chinese take out boxes to take stuff home. And all the candy was different shades of blue to match the event's color scheme.

Best ceremony backdrop: Tony & Laura. There's nothing like getting married at Fort Mason with the beautiful San Francisco Bay behind you with boats drifting back and forth. And a touch of irony with Alcatraz not too far away.

Best wedding cake display: Alvin & Jen. OK, I may be a bit biased here. (MY CUPCAKES!)

If anyone else is getting married this year, I have one word: ELOPE.

Well, off to bed. Just got a massage at a chain called Massage Envy. My neck feels quite a bit better. But a weird thing happened tonight. When I went to pay, the cashier said someone left a gift card with my name for a free 1 1/2 hour massage. But I can't think of anyone who would do that except for my regular massage therapist which I'm not sure why she'd do that. But nobody else knows I go there regularly. Hmmm...this is a mystery that's going to bug me for a while. Where is Scooby? Or rather Velma?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pow! Boffo! da,da,da,da,da,da Bat Man!

Here's a story I wrote that has absolutely nothing to do with cupcakes. And I now have a new found respect for bats. It would be cool to see some but not too close. Don't want the little furry guys in my hair or anything. But, now when I hear bats, I'll think of this guy's work first before I think of Christian Bale. And that's pretty amazing, lol. I also heard from 'Bat Man' and he's gotten a lot of positive feedback from my story, even a possible offer to write a book!

Bat man comes to the rescue of, well, bats

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Phoenix

The headline news around here today was the very fierce, hurricane-like weather that struck central Phoenix and Tempe. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the story with my name on it:
Hurricane-force winds, heavy rain hit Phoenix

I never saw so many toppled trees and bent signs on my way to work. It took me 40 minutes to get to work because of all the down traffic lights. All the restaurants and stores by my complex were closed today still because of no power.

This behemoth of a storm system came barreling through Thursday night. Unfortunately, I got caught in it. For some reason, I was really stir crazy around 9:30 Thursday evening. So, after seeing the building's fitness room was closed, I gazed outside and honestly, other than some lightning, it did not look that bad. I decided to jog four blocks and make a rectangle so I'd end up back at my place. Unfortunately, halfway through, I had the terrible luck of encountering rain. First it was just a sprinkle. But like 3 second later, it turned into full on torrents and the winds were so fast. I tried to keep running but the wind kept forcing rain in my face and into my mouth. And the wind made me short of breath. To top it off, my contact lenses were bugging the hell out of me and by this time, I'm soaking wet (only wearing a sports bra and shorts). I tried waiting it out under a (closed) gas station but it was so chilly. I had visions of lying bedridden with pneumonia. So, I tried again to keep running home but it was so dark and the water kept coming. For a second, I was like "Is this what waterboarding is like?" I was so freaking miserable but I had no choice but to keep running, despite losing my breath and body temperature.

It was at this moment I heard someone whistle and I saw a flashlight waving out of the corner of my eye. Aren't we trained to always go toward the light? (Ooh, that may be for only certain scenarios). So I did. Turns out, I was in front of my neighborhood fire station. All the power in the neighborhood had gone out, including there. So, there were like six of them sitting by their truck with the garage door open. They were all like "Are you seriously jogging at this time, in the rain?!" They were soooo nice. One got me a towel and someone else handed me a flashlight. First they asked if there was someone I could call (of course, there isn't) but I said I lived super close. If I could just wait it out there, which they were totally cool with. Just as I tried to start a conversation, the dispatch came in with a fire alarm that they had to respond to. So, all of them scrambled into their gear. I thought I heard my address in the dispatch but I was wrong. That was when one of them surprised me by saying "Hey guys, she's on the way. Let's drop her off." So, I got taken home in a firetruck!! Very cool. They even pulled into the parking lot of my complex, practically right by the door to my part of the building. Before getting out, I said "Thanks guys, I owe you one!" One of them joked "We like cookies." Of course the only thing I could say was "How about cupcakes?" And they all started saying quite enthusiastically "Oh, we love cupcakes!" and "I work Sunday!" I guess I will try to actually bring homemade cupcakes by on Sunday. Honestly, I do not know what I would have done had they not given me shelter. I think I would have to smite someone who would say something bad about a firefighter.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm speechless...NOT

Well, this weekend was pretty successful from where I'm standing. I can't remember when, if ever, I gave a speech in front of 240 people. But I did this past weekend at my cousin Alvin's wedding banquet. Normally, I don't like to be part of the floor show but as his bride is one of my closest friends, I felt like I had a unique perspective. I didn't feel like I could sum up everything in a quickie toast. I felt like it would be more fun to relay the story of how they got together. I ended up with a 7-minute speech. It sounds long but I was confident that it was entertaining enough that it would fly by. I not only rehearsed for timing but to practice line delivery. A speech is no fun without some personality behind it. Anyway, I have to say that I kicked ass. Is it wrong to think that when you do the boasting, it's not egotistical but rather adorable? ;) I made sure to do a nice one-two combo of humor and emotion throughout. And is it wrong to be happy that you made the bride tear up? In those situations, you feel like you didn't do a good job if you didn't pull at anyone's heartstrings. I was very happy and flattered that a lot of people paid me compliments after and even the next day. Guess it shows I am a writer at heart. Man, it was hard to come down from such a nice weekend and back to...well...Phoenix life.

I dived right in to making cupcakes for a birthday for a fellow volunteer at the shelter. Here are a couple of pictures of them (chocolate with vanilla bean frosting). So glad I bought those gum paste tools. My flowers now have some dimension.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dress makes the girl or girl makes the dress?

Well, as most of you already know--thanks to my inability to keep quiet when it comes to patting myself on the back, hehe--the wedding cupcakes went over very nicely. I don't know when is the next time I'd take up an endeavor like that. Of course, I wouldn't do it for just anyone. This weekend I have "part 2" of the same wedding--the happy couple is having a traditional Chinese wedding banquet. It's been a while since I've been to one of those where there are 200 guests and half of them are related to you in some way. All I know is I'm bounced around to properly greet every "auntie" and "uncle" with any remote blood tie to me. It's actually kind of fun but I'm glad they don't happen for me that often. They are very long affairs and never start on time. And there's so much food.

I spent all afternoon yesterday dress shopping. It's so hard to find something that looks good for under $100. And nothing seems perfect. I did eventually find a nice dress for $65 but I still have my insecurities. Most people who have seen me in the last few months noticed that I did shed some pounds. It's hard for me to see sometimes because, well, I see myself every day. And I know this sounds silly, but some days, I look in the mirror and still see me with an extra 15-17 pounds. I try not to obsess about whether something makes me look fat. But I think most women struggle with that. It's an age-old issue I guess.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On to the next story!

Well, my "frosting shots" story has had a great run. Before I move on, allow me to gloat a bit about how much play I found. For a week, I would Google "frosting shots" and "Associated Press" every day and see it trickle into more newspapers' Web sites. I saw my story had been used by newspapers in Detroit, Reno, Palm Springs, Dallas, the Twin Cities, San Diego, San Mateo (go Bay Area!), Savannah, Toronto as well as cities in New Hampshire, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maine as well as MSNBC and ABC I didn't get much comment about it around here until the local paper, The Arizona Republic, the biggest paper in the state, ran it on the front of their food section. That was cool. My boss told me he found my story on at least 60 Web sites and "one little blog." I said "Let me guess, it was some blogger who was like 'What a stupid idea.'" He said "Nope, it was yours." much for keeping this blog's existence unknown to my boss. Luckily he's not the policing type. He didn't seem to care. I think he knows that I have good judgment about what is fine and not fine to write about.

Well, I'm ready for a break from cupcakes--writing about them, not baking or eating them of course! In fact, my cousin Alvin is getting married this week to, as luck would have it, one of my closest friends, Jen. When I found out they would not be having a wedding cake after their small, more intimate ceremony, I offered to make cupcakes. Now that it's less than a week away, I'm nervous. I know they don't expect Martha Stewart-caliber cupcakes. But I do want them to have a touch of elegance. The thing is, even after I make them, I won't be done fretting. There's still transportation and presentation issues. Sigh...wish me luck!

Work-wise, I already found another story to work on and it's about as far from cupcakes as I can get. It's about...bats! And no, it has nothing to do with "The Dark Knight." Can't say anymore on paper yet since it's not published. Also, you never know if one's boss will find his way here again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The weekend of running into people

I escaped to L.A. this weekend. Sandy was kind enough to pick me up from the airport, let me stay with her and basically just be a wonderful friend/lifesaver all around. She and two of her friends aided me in my quest to see what the original Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills was like. I had heard it was smaller, more crowded than anywhere else. Well, it was all true. We waited in line for cupcakes for almost half an hour(!) The line is always out the door. If you don't believe me, I provided some visual evidence.

I'm sorry, I enjoy Sprinkles cupcakes but not enough to wait that long. I promised Sandy I would never again ask to go there. I overheard one guy on his cell in line saying "I'm outside in Beverly Hills waiting for cupcakes. These are supposed to be like the greatest cupcakes in the world." I'm sorry, but there's no such thing as the greatest cupcake in the world, in my opinion. There are so many great bakeries and just because there's no wait doesn't mean they don't have cupcakes worth eating.

Anyway, my cupcake voyage Saturday afternoon led me on a very surreal day of seeing people I know or know of. In the "know of" category, when my friends and I were outside Sprinkles, I saw a guy walk from behind us, passing the line of people. The dark skin and curly hair looked uncannily like the actor who plays Mohinder Suresh on "Heroes," a show I have followed from its series premiere. Once he and his two friends, both Indian guys, passed us, I caught his side profile. It was undoubtedly him. Unfortunately, I can't remember his real name and I thought it would be stupid to call out "Mohinder!"

After Sprinkles, we went on to the Vanilla Bake Shop in Santa Monica. We were all sitting around trying mini cupcakes when this couple walked in. I thought the guy was possibly a fact-checker I worked with when I interned at Entertainment Weekly in New York in 2002. But I wasn't positive because the guy I remembered wore glasses and had a smaller build. I didn't want to approach him in case I was wrong, then I'd feel stupid. So, I just started talking to Sandy really loud about how I don't keep in touch with anyone at Entertainment Weekly. Well, he turned around with definite interest. So, I went "Josh?" And he was like "Yeah, you're Terry." I was so surprised he remembered me. Usually I'm the only one who does the remembering. So, that was cool. We caught up for a few minutes. He was really nice and said I was more than just an intern. Oh, then after he and his fiancee/wife left, these two girls walked in and one of them looked so familiar. So, I just asked her point blank if she had lived on the 7th floor of Dykstra Hall at UCLA. And I was right. We exchanged hellos. I just said it was bugging me whether I imagined she was familiar. Hmmm...maybe I should spend more time at cupcake places just to see who I'll run into!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Not your typical stakeout

I spent Saturday afternoon and part of the evening at Sprinkles Cupcakes. My story on frosting shots, slated to run this month, was missing one key ingredient (pardon if that sounds like a bad pun), a quote from a customer. So, I spent more than two hours waiting, hoping, chanting for someone to order one so I could pounce on them for an interview. I don't know what it says about my social life that I didn't mind waiting there for so long. The girls behind the bakery counter were really nice. I could tell they felt really bad for me just waiting there. It got to the point where one of them was asking customers if they would be interested in buying a frosting shot. That was nice of her but it really should be someone who either wanted one to begin with or ordered it for a special reason. I told them that it was a helluva lot more fun than the time I had to do a stakeout in front of a serial killer suspect's house. I was indoors and surrounded by cupcakes after all. Well, it was about half an hour before 7 p.m. closing when a guy ordered one. Hallelujah! Otherwise I would've had to go back Sunday morning. Once again, no life, hehe.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Mondayest Monday

Is that a bit too Dr. Seuss? But that is the best adjective I can think of to describe the day I had. Going back to the daily grind is always such a drag after a vacation, especially a great vacation. Nine lovely days spent in the Bay Area where the climate was gentle and perfect. I did so much yet feel like I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to, see everyone I wanted to.

Oh, I'm 30 now. Wow. Feels weird to say. I had the biggest birthday party I've ever had. I need to say thank you again to everyone who came, or e-mailed or called on Saturday, which was my actual birthday. The fact that people remembered is a big enough deal for me. It was sweet of so many people to ignore my "no need for gifts" declaration. One of my favorite gifts was... a new UCLA license plate frame! Someone read my previous blog entry and took it upon himself to get me a new one. I won't make him turn red again but kind sir, you know who you are. I thank you very, very much. It makes the frame even more meaningful in some ways than the one I previously owned. Now, let's see what happens if I blog about wanting to inherit a $100,000. Kidding.

Well, I didn't think it was possible but I will be going on a cupcake hiatus for the week at least. I have never eaten so many cupcakes as I did in the last few days. And I still haven't gone grocery shopping. I need to detox this week--go buy some salads, leafy veggies and lay off sugar unless it's Weight Watchers bars. Detox time!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Baby shower cupcakes

Just wanted to really quickly post photos--not very well-shot--of mini-cakes I made for a baby shower for my cousin, George, and his wife, Fanny. First co-ed baby shower I ever went to. So, first baby shower where sounds of a baseball game on TV could be heard from the background. Anyway, I made chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. And I listened to my much more knowledgeable cousin, Tina, and did not even try to pipe them. Apparently cream cheese icing is usually not pipe-able. Still, I got a lot of compliments on presentation as well as taste. I had the cakes match the invitation. The whole theme was rubber ducks against blue since they are having a boy. No, I did not have time to make ducks out of fondant. But at least I made yellow flowers with orange centers. Doesn't that look like a duck and its bill? OK, no.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

When two passions collide

Well, I've finally done what I'd been hoping to do over the past several months. I found a way to combine journalism and baking. OK, really what I should say is I've found a way to write a feature story having to do with cupcakes. I don't want to go into too much detail in writing yet. I'd rather wait until it's published. But I thought of this story idea yesterday and e-mailed AP's lifestyles editor. This morning, I got an e-mail from the food editor who is based in New Hampshire. He really went for my idea so I will be interviewing cupcakery owners over the next week. Yes! It's like meeting Obi-Wan. Hopefully, the story will come out at the end of June. More details TBA. I just hope I can get it all done off the clock as that will mean extra money cuz it would be like a freelance assignment.

Oh, on a sad note, I forgot to take my UCLA Alum license plate frame off my car. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I went back to the dealership yesterday. The first guy I asked about how to find out if I could get it back started laughing and said "You came back for the frame? That's hilarious!" And I said "No, it's not." And I must have had a pretty serious look as he became embarrassed. That's right, oh no you didn't! I found the fleet manager who said the old license plate and the frame are long gone pretty much the day after a used car is traded. :( I guess the next time I'm in LA, I'll have to buy another frame. Just sucks as I'd had that one since college. I can't remember if I bought it or it was a gift. If it was a gift and the person who gave it to me is reading this, I sincerely apologize for forgetting it!

Well, all in all, not too bad of a week.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Summer reading

So, we've been having really strange weather in Phoenix this week. We did not hit 100 degrees all year until this past weekend. And then Monday and Tuesday, the temperatures shot up to 108. Gets weirder. Today, it tumbled down to 98. And tomorrow, because of some cold wind front, it will be like 84 and in the 70s on Friday. The mercury is more erratic than a car thief on a high-speed chase.

Well, since this Thursday is pretty much the end of May sweeps and the TV season and networks will be airing Must See-Crap TV i.e. Gladiators, almost all reality TV in general, I think it's a good time to start a summer reading list. I have a hefty stack of books that I've purchased, always meaning to crack them open. I feel like if I state my intention to read them here, then I can't flake. And I'd probably finish at least a book a week if I spent the same amount of time reading that I do watching my favorite programs and almost all crime shows. I've got "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles" and "Julie & Julia" first.

Oh, here's a link to my story on Rana Sodhi, whose brother was fatally shot four days after Sept. 11.
Filmmaker finds post-9/11 faith in unlikely place

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Goodbye Prizm...I shall not weep

I'm in a bit of a daze now. After nearly 10 years, more than a dozen trips back and forth from UCLA to Sunnyvale and side trips to San Diego, Tucson, Sedona, Bisbee...the Chevrolet Prizm has been retired--at least for me. In two days, I will be the owner of a new Honda Civic. I have had a love/hate relationship with my car as it has seemingly fallen apart over the last few years--nothing major but just enough to be annoying. Still, as I cleaned out my belongings in the dealership parking lot, I couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic (sniff). So many memories but it is time to move on. It will be cool to have a new vehicle with a good record for endurance and maintenance. Hopefully, I can go six months to a year without having anything major happen (knock on something very wooden).

In other news, work is going relatively well. I just wrapped my feature on the brother of the Sikh who was killed four days after Sept. 11 by a crazed gunman who did it in the name of "patriotism." Very sad but very inspiring how the brother has such high regard for America and American values. The story will be out in circulation Sunday. Every so often, I get this great feeling from work. For me, there's just nothing cooler than working on a story dressed all professional in a skirt and heels/pumps and then printing out a fresh copy of my latest draft and dropping it on the news editor's desk. I guess it's moments like those that I really feel like a Lois-Lane type. I hope to have more moments like that. It would also help take my mind off the fact that I said goodbye to the Prizm. Aaawww, it's hitting me now (more sniffing).

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Mini cupcake endeavor

Yesterday, I went to a co-worker's party at his house. I was taken up on my offer to make cupcakes because I don't get many opportunities to without being stuck with a bunch leftover (boo). I didn't want to do the same old vanilla buttercream frosting. Lucky for me, my cousin Tina shared with me a super-secret, yummy recipe for peanut butter frosting. It was not only Reeces-tasty but had great consistency for piping. I tried a bigger tip and used these little flower-shaped cookie cutters on some fondant and the results were ... well...see for yourself below.

Originally, I only wanted to make mini cupcakes because I think people are more apt to take a sampling size. But I ran out of mini cupcake liners at the last minute so I had to do a mix, Papa and junior size. I have to say, it was really gratifying to have people come up to me and tell me how good they were. Thanks Tina! My co-worker's wife said people kept coming up and asking her where she bought them. Some people thought the hostess had bought them from Sprinkles Cupcakes, HA. Score for the home baker.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

'A few of my favorite things' in L.A.

I spent this past weekend in Los Angeles and had a pretty terrific time overall. Airfare well spent. On Saturday, I went to my friend Sunanda's family baby shower. Her family is Indian. In their culture, it's traditional to have a big, co-ed gathering with all the women clad in saris. I don't think Sunanda was too thrilled about that as it was pretty hot and the party was in the backyard. The baby mama-to-be has to eat certain foods. In this case, it was five fried foods and a bunch of Indian sweets. What was also interesting was that little kids and single women in the family each had a turn to spoon-feed her something.

Sunday, I went to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for the first time since either '05 or '04. It was also the first time in a while that I set foot on UCLA campus. The festival is always fun, albeit hot. While walking around in the morning, I stumbled upon a booth for Lela Lee, the creator of "Angry Little Asian Girl" and its spin-off, "Angry Little Girls." Anyone who has seen my "Get your own bag b****" canvas tote knows whom I speak of. She was really sweet and I asked her about putting one of my favorite sketches on something other than a tote since I already had one. Well, now I know to be on the lookout for a shirt this summer. Too bad I can't wear it in the office, even on casual Friday. I don't think my boss would want me sporting something that uses the word "dumbass."

I went to two panels. The first one was on writing about food culture. I got to listen three writers of food trends and issues like food and geopolitical issues. My favorite of course was Jennifer 8. Lee (yes, her middle "initial" really is the number 8; her parents really held onto that Chinese belief in luck in numbers). You know, there are actually more Chinese restaurants in the U.S. than McDonald's and Burger King combined. And so much of what we see in American-based Chinese eateries was invented in the U.S. For example, she actually tracked down General Tso's descendants and they have no idea what General Tso's Chicken is, LOL. Anyway, I got a copy of "Fortune Cookie Chronicles" signed by Jennifer 8. She scotch-taped a little fortune and stamped her Chinese signature in every book. When I gave my first name and told her I was a reporter with the same byline as a NY Times editor, she immediately said "Terry Tang?!" And I was like, "It's official. I'm not original." She said the other Terry Tang has four kids. Well, I may not be original, but I'm glad we are worlds apart in that department.

I guess in terms of notoriety, the person I didn't expect to talk to, even briefly, was Julie Andrews. An LA Times columnist interviewed her in an auditorium in conjunction with the release of Andrews' memoirs. She shared lots of early memories such as working with a "windy" Rex Harrison on "My Fair Lady." Apparently Rex Harrison didn't give a crap every time he let one rip, even during an important scene. Let me tell you, it's really weird to hear the words "machine-gun fart" come out of Julie Andrews' mouth. After the presentation, a bunch of people high-tailed it to the booth where Julie would be signing. They only gave out 100 numbers to people in line. I was like 105th in line. So us five decided to stick it out in line. Unfortunately, there was a rude, stupid person among us. This woman kept muttering about how Julie Andrews "owed" us. When a person with the Book Festival came over a third time to tell us we would be turned away, this woman goes "You're going to turn away five people who've been waiting...So, Julie Andrews is that much of a bitch?" None of us could believe what we were hearing and I slowly stepped away so as not to be associated with her. I hate people like that. They think it's okay to be asshole-ish and it will get you what you want. Anyway, I still had a good day. And the one minute that I talked to Julie Andrews was a lovely minute.

Oh, a moment of silence for I discovered my favorite cupcake place has closed . Dainties in L.A., which served awesome cupcakes with chocolate ganache and whip-cream-based frosting, shut its doors sometime in the last couple of months. I'm hoping one day to hear word that they will have relocated. Sucks. I had to settle for going to Yummy Cupcakes in Santa Monica which wasn't bad either. Still...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pat's Run accomplished

They finally posted the results from Pat's Run yesterday. I finished the 4.2 mile race in 43min, 52 seconds. Woo-hoo! That's probably really slow to a lot of people--comes out to like 10 min a mile--but I don't care. I'm glad I did it.

This weekend I'm looking forward to. There will be no races though. I will be relishing the LA weather and ambiance at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I already got tickets for a panel on "Food Culture and Writing" with NY Times Reporter Jennifer 8. Lee (yes, her middle initial really is the number 8) and a discussion/interview with Julie Andrews. The hills are alive with the sounds of culture and fun. Yipee!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Celebration time, come on!

Well, it will be celebration time when June rolls around. I finally got up the nerve today to ask my boss about the chances of getting my vacation request granted. He was pretty understanding when I explained I wanted a whole week off because Saturday, June 21, my cousin is getting married and the following Saturday is my birthday. So, I am set. PHEW! If one more person had signed up for that week, I would have been bumped because of the seniority factor. So, I won't have to fly back twice just so I don't have to spend my 30th birthday in boring ol' Phoenix. WOO-HOO! I can not only put in more time in organizing some kind of shindig, but spend the week just having fun around the Bay Area.

I signed up for Pat's Run this Saturday morning at 7 (ugh). The 4.2-mile run/walk is in honor of Pat Tillman. I don't know that much about him but I'm happy to run for someone who is connected to San Jose. In fact, San Jose is having their own Pat's Run in May. Anyway, I'm not going to worry too much about time. The fact that I can run/jog the whole four miles without stopping is accomplishment enough.

What else have I done this week? I tried to make "baby bird" cupcakes. Alas, they look more like squashed baby birds. I definitely need to practice my technique and stabilize my frosting. And really, what grown woman doesn't have that problem?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

So, April has felt slow to me after ending March on a very festive note with a trip back to the San Francisco Bay for my friend Tony's wedding. What a beautiful, Nor Cal affair. The ceremony and reception were at Fort Mason, which I've never been to before. But what a great backdrop for a wedding.

Actually, last weekend was a little more eventful than I anticipated. I had almost forgotten that I was invited to a pool party for someone who just graduated from the Phoenix Police Academy. The cadet of the hour is the fiance of my friend, Marianne, who I met through the network of Asian American journalists out here. Marianne, ever the creative hostess, had some police-theme games including a donut-eating contest. It would be good if this would continue to be the only "scandalous" thing on the Internet involving myself. If you feel inclined, you can make me out among the group trying to grab a donut while handcuffed. Talk about a futile effort!

Donut eating video

Friday, March 21, 2008

My weekend has come back to me.

Forgive me. I need to be vague in case someone from work ever stumbles upon this blog. I think the details of my assignment were given "off the record." So, I don't want too much documentation.

Just two days ago, I was told that I would have to drive somewhere two hours away from Phoenix because a VIP might/might not be there. I would have to sit there from 8 a.m. until sundown, like a policewoman on stakeout, waiting for this person to make a move. Even if it's something as mundane as stepping outside to take a breath, I'd have to call and ask if that was worth a story. Now, I actually wouldn't have minded if this had occurred on the other 100 weekends where I have no social life. But this just happens to be a weekend where I have not one, but two (yipee), friends coming to stay with me. One of them can only stay thru Sunday afternoon. And I had RSVPed yes to a friend's Easter dinner party. So, this whole "assignment" pissed me off royally. The idea I have to give up my weekend and rearrange all these plans and leave visitors to find their own way for a story that may/may not happen. I mean, why not give me a brick wall and I'll bang my head on it several times?! Same thing.

But, this morning at work, we got word on the record that this person was staying put abroad for the weekend. I didn't dare believe it. I was ready to do a jig if that was true. Several phone calls and e-mails later with "sources," I was told the stake-out was canceled. HALLELUJAH!!! But I still have to be "on call" Sunday and can't really drive too far away from Phoenix on the off chance this person shows up. But heck, that beats getting up at the crack of dawn! And now I at least have Sunday morning and most of the afternoon to visit with my friends.

It really is a Happy Easter. A cupcake I made for the occasion below. It's graham cracker cake with chocolate ganache, chocolate shavings and Cadbury mini eggs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One 'Idol's' loss=a work victory

OK, I'm sure today sucks for David Hernandez, the former stripper who just got the boot on "American Idol." But a part of me is relieved because that means I won't have to cover his rise anymore. It was bad enough that there were two people from Arizona in the top 12. So, basically, the lazy part of me is glad because his exit means less work. Hey, I'm only human.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Glutton for punishment

For some crazy reason, I signed up for another half-marathon. I'm nuts, right? Well, the PF Chang's people sent me a coupon for $15 off the San Jose half-marathon on Oct. 8. So, yes, my 'ooh, what a deal' bargain hunter side came forth. I guess also, I want to repeat it in San Jose, my 'hood. The Phoenix one was so anti-climatic as I saw nobody I knew after. Any way, wish me luck. I have no idea how I'll train here. In Phoenix. In the summer. Yikes! What have I done?!

Work is going fine. I can't go into too much detail about what stories I'm pursuing. I can say that all "American Idol" stuff falls to me. I'm really starting to hate that show. J/K. Well, sort of. Last week, we were caught up in the "scandal" that one of the Arizona-based contestants used to be a stripper in a gay bar/club called Dick's Cabaret. Funny enough, the place used to be down the street from the homeless shelter I volunteer at. So, my boss was like "How do you know where this place used to be?" Everyone thought the homeless shelter was just a ploy to hide the fact that I secretly frequent gay strip clubs. The whole urgency of this thing was ridiculous. At one point, I was on the phone with one of our photographers trying to help him figure out where the place was. Later on in the day, I was looking at AP's photo Web site where photos go to once they've been captioned. Stupid me said really loud without thinking, "Oh, a photo of Dick's just moved."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Anything but 'super'

Well, back to business this week. What a change. And I'm retiring the use of the word "super" for a while. It's lost its significance with all the organizations that tried to ride the Super Bowl coattails and garner publicity for their own events. As Coach Taylor would say on "Friday Night Lights," what happened to it being just about football? All these parties and grabbing any NFL players to read, shoot clay targets or talk to fans on cell phones were just all over the place. Still, there were a few highlights.

-I got to shake Nick Lachey's hand at some red carpet arrival for a party he was hosting. It was so funny. It was some publicist's job to write down a celebrity's name on a piece of paper and flash it to the press line like a wrestling ring girl. This way, there would be no confusion about who was coming down the red carpet. Half the time, nobody knew who the person was. I wonder how many of the guests got that they weren't "important" press-wise as they walked the carpet without anyone stopping them.
Once the publicist held up a piece of paper that said "The Scottsdale 16" which sounds like a group of former protesters. Turns out it was just a harem of girls who were invited to be wall candy. They looked like 16 dolled-up lolliepops with cleavage.

-I managed to spend some quality time with my friend Leah at her birthday party on another side of town before hitting the PenthouseDesire Super Party where Snoop Dogg was to hit the stage. It was a low-key wine and food fest with boardgames. My spidey sense tingled when I learned we were going to play Trivial Pursuit. It was version that combined questions from the '80s, '90s and pop culture. So, I was forced to expose my penchant for knowing useless knowledge. Example: What "WKRP Cincinatti" veteran replaced the Maytag repairman? I don't know why I know this but for those who don't remember, it's Gordon Jump. I'm sort of embarrassed that I know all this stuff. Leah was funny, telling my teammates "Always listen to the Tang." I think people began to think that the cards would magically change the answer to match my guess, haha.

-I watched Snoop Dogg perform with that pimp metal glove on. After 20 minutes, I was able to reaffirm that his music is just not my cup of tea. I had more fun walking around downtown Scottsdale after and overhearing people get more testy as nobody, even the most stylish/hootchie girl, couldn't get a cab. As I easily drove away in my car, a part of me was like "suckas!"

-Spent the Tuesday primary either at polling stations or the watch parties for Hillary and Obama's Arizona-based supporters, which were at the same hotel, LOL. I liked the Obama party as there were cuter men. Not that that influenced which people I interviewed!

Anyway, this week has been much slower by comparison. But I think I'd prefer it over working 1:30-9:30 p.m. on a Sunday or a split shift of 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. and then 7-11 p.m.

Now, I'm on my knees, grateful for the holiday Monday. Time to get out of Dodge!

Monday, January 14, 2008

IT'S OVER!! =)

It's hard to believe the event for which I trained for since September has come and gone. Well, I finished my first ever half-marathon. It took me 2 hours, 37 minutes and 14 seconds to complete the PF Chang's Rock-n-Roll half-marathon, or 13.1 miles. I had to stop and walk a few times and stretch. My toes and the bottom of my feet were just not having any of it after mile 9. It was pretty fun to be part of the festivity of it all. The whole course was lined with people. Some were local school spirit teams and other volunteer cheerleaders. There were quite a few parents with their kids. It was so cute, some of the kids would stick their hands out, wanting runners to give them a high-five as they passed. Some of the children were so sweet-faced, I had to make a bee-line for them.

I have to admit that I was somewhat envious of all the people who had family or friends cheering for them or waiting for them at the end. I couldn't find anyone I knew and even if nobody was there, it would've been nice to have someone who wanted to go out and celebrate with me afterward.

Some people say they cry after completing their first marathon or half-marathon. I did end up crying a couple of times--because after the race, I realized I lost my car key!! With my house keys, cell phone and wallet inside my car, I was basically stuck on an island with almost no hope of rescue. I don't know if I was more distraught at feeling extremely stupid or the fact that I could only think of three people who might come to my aid. I talked to police officers, a paramedic and informational volunteers. Everybody kept sending me to someone else. There were rumors of a tow truck nearby. At one point, I considered trying to use the medal I got after to break my car window (OK, I know that wouldn't have worked. But frustration makes one extremely irrational). Finally, an ASU police officer was pro-active and called dispatch to send a tow truck and told me to wait by my car. The driver propped my door open and I was able to get a hold of my aunt Karen. She picked me up, drove me home to get my spare car key and was nice enough to reassure me to not feel bad. I finished the race before noon but didn't get home until 5 p.m. Overall, it was a $60.50 payback for stupidity. Man, if she hadn't been around, I would have had to call a cab or something. Every time I'm reminded about how few people I'm close to out here, it makes me want to move away ASAP. If I do one of these races again, I think I'll do one in California. If I'm lucky, someone I know will be around.

Well, a close friend was sweet enough to tell me not to let this car key debacle eclipse the accomplishment of finishing the 13-mile course. I'm working on it.

Not much else happened except...damn. Am more sore today.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

2008 starting off busy

Hope everyone I know had a good New Year's. I want to say a big thank-you to all the friends and family who sent me Christmas cards, e-mails, red envelopes with money and special gifts. My not-so-secret Santas gave me lots of goodies. I'm not sure I deserved so much but I'm very happy and grateful. What I found under the proverbial tree:

-A Dwight bobblehead doll (as seen on "The Office") which now is the cornerstone of my office desk
-Two cupcake desk calendars (from two different people). I have one for work and one for at home. Yah!
-A baking tin for mini cupcakes
-a one-cupcake carrier (I'm sure y'all sense a theme here)
-A picture frame
-Soap made in Canada
-Trader Joe's gift card
-an assortment of food colorings to go to town on frosting ideas
-a mechanical pastry bag from Williams-Sonoma (OK, I bought that for myself. It's like Harry Potter buying himself a Nimbus 2000)

Twas a good holiday except for an unwanted visitor in the form of a cold that still lingers. The congestion is affecting how I feel when I run. I got nauseous yesterday after only going three miles. Not good. Hopefully come race day, this Sunday (gulp), I'll feel normal.

Besides thinking about the race, this week, I'll be devoting a lot of time to two Super Bowl oriented stories. In case you haven't heard, the big game is in the city of Glendale, Ariz. this year, which is part of metropolitan Phoenix, the west side. But all the major parties will be in Scottsdale, which is on the east side of the "Valley" that houses all of metro Phoenix. I'm doing a preview of the parties which means I've been going on Web sites for hot-shot men's magazines like Playboy and Maxim. I have to remember to alert my boss every time I have to go to a "questionable" site. My co-worker said he knew someone who wrote about seedy clubs and features for a newspaper. This reporter was always going to weird places under the guise of research. Well, one day, his computer had to go the company IT and they discovered he had downloaded the Paris Hilton sex tape. Couldn't explain himself out of that one and was shown the door. Oops!

The other story I'm working on is just a simple rundown travel story of Super Bowl activities going on and places visitors can check out around metro Phoenix.

The weekend after the PF Chang's marathon is Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. I get that Monday off. Woo-hoo! So, I'm treating myself to a few days away in So-Cal. I plan to do a cupcake crawl and see some old friends, and possibly my younger cousin Wilson.

Then the last weekend of January, I have a high school friend coming to visit. Not sure what I can show her around Phoenix but I'll do my best. Wow, measured in this way, February seems like it's just outside my door.