Visiting happycakes :) | A Cupcake Wars Winner

You have probably never heard of Morehead City, North Carolina. I have only heard of Morehead City because my husband just so happens to live there. As a diehard LA resident, I was bored out of my mind visiting for two weeks… but they do have one claim to fame! happycakes :) [Okay, there are beautiful beaches. But like a true LA-native, I don't actually like the beach.]

happycakes storefront selfie

happycakes :) is a young establishment, having won Season 9 of Cupcakes Wars in just their first year of existence. Needless to say, we had to stop in for a taste. You know I am not above overpriced desserts–or most novelty foods, for that matter. Ez and I got an espresso cinnamon sugar cupcake (Cupcake Wars winning flavor), a banana creme cupcake, and a huge chocolate chip cookie. 

happycakes cupcakes

L: Espresso and cinnamon sugar | R: Banana creme

happycakes chocolate chip cookie

Excited to dig in

happycakes cupcakes

Everything was delicious! Moist cake and flavorful frosting that isn’t overbearingly sweet. We had to buy a box and share the love with Ez’s friends who hosted us for dinner. Two of these bad boys even journeyed across America so my roommate could try them. I brought them home in an attempt to alleviate our sadness from Crumbs closing

happycakes condiment station

Cute condiment station

This definitely lifted my spirits after hours cooped up in Ez’s apartment. It was nice to discover this gem tucked away in good ol’ Morehead City. Will have to go back sometime!

happycakes happy face

Culver City Third Wednesdays: Spiked Lemonade

Summertime in LA means going out and doing fun, cute things. A couple weeks back, we fulfilled our fun quota by hitting up Downtown Culver City’s Third Wednesday for the first time. I barely learned about this monthly event even though I’ve had friends who lived here for 2+ years. Every third Wednesday of the month, Downtown Culver City hosts a block party with over 25 participating restaurants and businesses. This month’s theme was “Spiked Lemonade,” so 15 different places mixed their own versions of lemonade and we got to try each for 10 cents. Other restaurants and shops offered specials and discounts for this day only.

We started of at Lundeen’s to pick up our “Third Wednesday Passports” and get our first taste of lemonade. I’m glad this was the starting point, because I wouldn’t have gone in here otherwise. The ladies in the shop were super welcoming and had a bomb lemonade to start off. This store had a bunch of unique gifts and  books–will definitely be visiting again soon!

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Power 106 DJ-ing the block party

We were also supposed to get beads with each lemonade, but some places didn’t have them or we forgot to ask. We still made off with quite a few though. The event ran from 5-9pm and in our excitement, we started at 5pm on the dot. A handful of places hadn’t even mixed their lemonade when we got there–slacking!

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Lemonade and Pisco from the Culver Hotel

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Mixing drinks for us at Rush Street

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Best and strongest of the night from Seventy 7

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Spiked lemonade samples supposedly cost 10 cents each, but most places had a nifty container of dimes on hand. They insisted we take one dime from one bowl, place it in the other bowl, and voila! We got our lemonade sample. One of the bartenders explained that the samples are supposed to be “free” but liquor laws require that patrons actually pay for them so this is Third Wednesdays way of bypassing this rule.

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Tearing up the karaoke machine in front of LaRocco’s

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The manager scooping samples at LaRocco’s

Our passports had to be signed at each destination before turning them in for a raffle drawing. Kimi diligently took notes on each lemonade so we could exercise good judgment in voting for the best mix.

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With our last sample and completed passports at the Kirk Douglas Theater

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Spinning the wheel for prizes

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Prize wheel come-up

By 7pm, we were feeling pretty good from multiple shots of alcoholic lemonade.  We didn’t even make it to our planned dinner or movie! After taking a tour and grabbing some snacks at the Kirk Douglas Theater, we opted for some pizza back at LaRocco’s. During our walk, we encountered different acts also lining the streets to make it a real block party. Of course there were singers and live bands, but the guy below probably stood out the most.

photo 5 (5)All in all, good times. Even though I’ve been bar hopping and brunching multiple times in Downtown Culver City, I found so many places that I never knew existed. Can’t wait to try some new restaurants, peruse the local shops, and catch a production at the theater. Until next Third Wednesday!

Money Sucking Hole: DTLA Night Market

I am a consumer. The amount of money I spend on “deals,” novelty items, and unique foods is probably the reason our economy hasn’t completely collapsed yet. If there is a festival advertising food, art, and merchandise, you better believe I’m there. Especially if it involves “celebrating diversity.” I’m a sucker for progressive buzz words.

Last Friday, I dragged John and Kimi to yet another LA event–the first Downtown LA Night Market. After hitting up the KTown Night Market a couple months ago, I was pretty hesitant since I had an awful experience there. I came to DTLA Night Market prepared to wait in long lines to get in, wait in long lines for food, and waddle through crowds of folks hopping on the hype.

I’m proud to announce this night market proved me wrong. We got to Staples Center Parking Lot 7 around 6pm (it went from 4-10pm) to avoid the lines, but it never got extra crowded throughout the night. Major points for this. The lot was huge and there were a ton of booths so the throngs of people kept moving–I swear it wasn’t dead! We walked the food aisle twice picking up some things and scoping out what other goodies.

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$5 filet mignon barbeque stick. Melted in my mouth!

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$8 tuna poke chips. Great flavor and super fresh.

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One booth boasted this giant boba cup that seemed like a cute display, until they offered for us to drink out of it for $4. That’s just disgusting. I suppose if we were to do it, it would have been smart to go first. I didn’t quite understand the logistics of sipping from this giant cup… but there had to have been some demand for it, right? Also, sorry to the poor volunteer in the photo–I wanted some size reference!
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John and Kimi had the sample game on lock. Basically Costco samples on crack. You could have gotten full scouring for samples. We had dessert buns, beef jerky, fried squid, passion fruit juice, and more. Samples drew interest and made the admission price worthwhile. This made a difference in terms of the event being welcoming and fun, rather than just seeming like a money-grab. photo 3 (1)

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$4 blackberry lemonade. Sour and delicious.

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$5 pork belly slider. So tender.

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$5 potato swirl – half cajun, half parmesan garlic. All bomb.

We also enjoyed the Night Market’s Art Walk, which consisted of local contemporary artists. Minion Me definitely grabbed our attention with his adorable Despicable Me Minions versions of popular characters. The prints showed everything from Marvel to The Simpsons to Justin Timberlake and even Jesus. 2×3 prints were $15 each. If you bought two, you got the third for $5. And if you bought nine, the tenth was free. Needless to say, we bought ten.

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The artist, Kris Kehasukjaren, was onsite turning us all into Minions for free! He does events at a rate of $45/hour, which seems like a steal to me. I need him at my next birthday! I think this is socially acceptable even though I don’t have kids.

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Kimi was extremely excited to become a Minion

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L to R: Kimi, John, me

Other artists also created their masterpieces before our eyes, which I love witnessing. It’s crazy to think these canvases were blank and these folks just went to work on them. Some by brush, some by spray can, all amazing.

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We perused the other sweet booths, checking out novelty items, clothing, and merchandise. I also took the opportunity to join the national bone marrow registry with Be The Match. Although I haven’t been personally affected by a need for bone marrow donors, I have learned about the shortage of Asian-Americans on the bone marrow registry list via various social media campaigns and acquaintances. What’s a little pain if I could help save someone’s life? I filled out some paperwork and swabbed my cheeks, briefly went over the process, and that was that!

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Procuring my cheek cells as she double-checks my form

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Cheek swabbing action

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I love local business because they give me a good reason to justify my impulsive spending habits. You’ll encounter sweet pieces that you won’t find at the mall. Up your style game by shopping local! Abstrakt LA hooked it up with some unique jewelry I’ve been missing from my collection. Kimi and I also picked up some hats–every girl needs a floppy hat! Especially when it’s $7.

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Come-ups

All in all, DTLA Night Market surpassed my expectations and it’s great to see these types of events growing into a SoCal staple. Whether you’re looking for some grub, some garb, or just a good time, you’re bound to find it at a night market like this. This was a great way to kick off summer outdoors and get in the spirit of LA’s vibrant culture. Thank goodness for my down ass friends who trust me to plan adventures. Can’t wait for the next one!

IRL: The Pizza Burger

A few weeks ago, this photo surfaced in my Facebook feed:

pizzaburger

Folks “liked” it, shared it, even commented on it regarding their excitement or disgust. But luckily for me, I have friends who take initiative. My good friend and culinary expert, Kevin, brought this monstrosity to life today. He used biscuit dough–definitely a good call.

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Thanks for the heart attack, Kevin! Nomz.

Our Wedding Chronicles: Sweets and Things

Desserts were a big part of our wedding. Aside from wedding cake being a traditional element that pulls the mood together, I wanted to use the sweets as a way to showcase some of our relationship. For starters, Ez LOVES dessert. So much so, that I vowed to share my desserts with him for the rest of my life. This obviously made him very happy. Since we had a big wedding on a budget, we didn’t have too much room to pull in never-before-seen elements. Instead, I took the “normal” elements of a wedding and put a spin on them so they were uniquely ours.

I began with the cake. Initially, I wanted to order a small cake just for the cake-cutting and then serve other desserts. This changed when I realized how big the ballroom was and felt we needed a cake to fill it. And so came the challenge of finding a bakery that could make a huge cake on a not-so-huge budget. I only went to two cake tastings, which were both phenomenal experiences. It became clear fairly quickly that I wouldn’t find a greater value than the original bakery I went to. I decided on a 250-serving cake (even with 350 guests) and was quoted significantly higher prices at other bakeries. Creative Cakes in Orange, CA basically saved the day in terms of budget. The cake turned out just fine. “Fine” is not perfect, but I can’t go back and change how any of the wedding went, even the cake. Just remember y’all, you get what you pay for. I got a huge cake, which seemed impossible for our budget… but some part of me would have skimped on size to get a flawless cake design.

Below is evidence from the yummy tastings. I wish Ez could have been there for this part especially since he loves desserts SO much. Thank Heavens for my bridesmaids being there though! Creative Cakes and Beverly’s Best Bakery both had spectacular tastings. Honestly, I would have gone with the latter if I could have broken the bank, but it just wasn’t the case. But holy moly, our wedding cake tasted BOMB.

Creative Cakes tasting samples

Creative Cakes tasting samples

Creative Cakes showroom example

Creative Cakes showroom example

Beverly's Best Bakery tasting samples

Beverly’s Best Bakery tasting samples

Beverly's Best Bakery iPad example

Beverly’s Best Bakery iPad example

I chose two flavors from Creative Cakes: lemon cake with raspberry jam and Bavarian creme (their most popular choice, for good reason) and marble cake with white chocolate chip filling. They had this awesome showroom with fake cakes, as well as albums full of pictures for ideas. I also brought in my own ideas and they were able to help bring my vision to life (for the most part). What’s cool is they also give us a free cake on our one-year anniversary so we didn’t have to freeze the top layer of our actual cake. Apparently that is a thing… you’re supposed to save the top layer of the wedding cake, freeze it, and eat it on your one-year anniversary. That sounds gross. I don’t really want to eat year-old cake.

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Our wedding cake

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Wedding cake detail

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Ez had to stop me from grabbing the cake–I was starving

We had to pay tribute to UCLA somehow! After all, it is a part of the grand scheme that brought us together. Rather than having a Joe and Josie Bruin cake topper, we opted for good ol’ Diddy Riese cookies. Go Bruins! My good friend, Kato, drove all the way to Westwood the morning of the wedding to pick these up–much appreciated.

Our caterer had a great package that included a “Jackie O. Sugar Tower” and chocolate-covered strawberries, which made their services extra appealing. The sugar tower was drizzled sugar rolled into tall cylinders and the blonde strings you see are made out of cotton candy! I heard the strawberries were delicious and they sure went fast! Luckily, I was able to try these at the food tasting.

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Diddy Riese cookies and the Jackie O. Sugar Tower

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Chocolate-covered strawberries

Yes, we cut our cake with a freakin’ sword! As per Marine Corps tradition. That was definitely fun :) Ez had to concentrate super hard because he was quite intoxicated at this point in the night. Also, I asked him to feed me a super small piece, as I was about to yack from the drink I had just chugged.

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I was super happy with the way our dessert station turned out. We showcased Ez’s sweet tooth, got our Bruin pride in there, and to top it off… it was all delicious and fabulous! This was a great way to make our wedding unique without spending outrageously for wedding extras. Now, we’re just waiting on that anniversary cake!

Our Wedding Chronicles: I’m not done with these yet!

Now that all is said and done, let the recapping begin! For my own memory and sanity, I want to go back over how I planned different facets and how they turned out on the day of the wedding. You can skip these posts if you want to spare yourself the blood and gore.

Our wedding day was hectic, crazy, and beautiful. It was a long road, but well worth it. Here’s a sneak peak of the day’s details, courtesy of Agape Planning–our amazing wedding coordinators:

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I can’t wait to share all the wonderful details with you :)

Social Media Penetration

Yesterday, I was making outgoing phone calls for work. Naturally, I have to log these phone calls to prove I actually completed the assigned task. Sometimes I’ll make a call and find that the number has been disconnected.

My personal note in the call log for reaching disconnected numbers looks like this: “# disc”

As I typed that out multiple times yesterday, the voice is my always read it as, “hashtag disconnected.”

//facepalm