Cookie Con and Sweets Show

It’s touted as the biggest baking and pastry convention on the West Coast.  It was big alright, and oversold.  Audrey and I had been really looking forward to attending the Cookie Con and Sweets Show for the first time this year, and it ended up being somewhat of a disappointment.

Before going, I had purchased tickets through GoldStar.  Total cost for one child and one adult ticket was about $35.  We had visions of beautiful desserts and unique creations being offered for sampling, and were looking forward to watching the demonstrations and discussions on the different stages.  I’m not a baker or much of a good cook in general, so for me, this was more about the excitement of the event and the many different exhibitors that would be available, plus, we LOVE to eat dessert.

We got to the Anaheim convention center before 10:30am Saturday morning and were stuck in a royal traffic jam the block before the convention center.  Traffic was backed up in the turn lane to the parking lots.  Luckily, we drove around a couple of blocks and came in through the back way and was able to park without fighting the rest of the cars.

We were in for a big surprise. The line outside must’ve been a mile long! We did not get inside until after noon and missed the first scheduled talk we wanted to attend. Once inside, it was shoulder-to-shoulder at most exhibitor booths and there were barely any samples left, or they were very tiny because there were just too many people in line. I did purchase some very good fudge, a spicy Thai sauce bottled by one of the exhibitors, and enjoyed the Decorator’s Showcase contest, but it was difficult to get a seat for any of the talks and to be able to hear over the crowd. It was also unfortunate that they put the decorator showcase on tables where kids could stand right next to it and poke the cakes with their fingers. I saw this and felt sorry for the decorators who worked so hard on their cakes, but kids will be kids, and the area should’ve been roped off to protect the displays.

It was worth it to see once, but I will not be returning next year. The cost is too high (factor in $10+ to park) for spending more time in lines than enjoying the sweets.

L.A. Art Show

Last Sunday, we attended the L.A Art Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center and had I realized the scope and size of the show, I would’ve arrived earlier and given myself more time to look at the displays. Unfortunately, we found ourselves practically running in the final minutes before closing, in order to avoid missing anything amazing. Wow, what a terrific mix of modern, pop culture, fun, and interesting exhibitions and displays of art, with immensely talented artists and craftsmen. It’s a show that I plan to see again next year, and spend the day there.

This art show draws a lot of celebrities in the Hollywood area. Although we were not there for opening night when a few stars were there, we did see Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong fame.

There was living art…and to be frank, this woman kind of freaked me out a little. I can just picture running into her in the dark and thinking it’s a man dressed in women’s clothing about to do something wicked.

There was an exhibition honoring Margaret Keane.

Some very unusual and amazing statues were on display. This is not a real kid below.

Nor is this really Rocky Balboa or Sylvester Stallone. That’s also fake meat, in case you vegetarians are freaking out.

I love the brilliance of these paintings.

Of course, the electronics age and emojis can’t be left out of the show.

Lastly, to give you an idea of the size of the event, there were rows and rows of artist booths.

I snapped dozens of photos but my suggestion is for you to go and view this show in person, it’s much better than what photos can show.

Unique LA – a Unique Handmade Market

A couple of weeks ago, Audrey and I attended the Unique LA Handmade Market in downtown Los Angeles. Think of it as Etsy in a large, beautiful, open space with a gorgeous view of downtown. It’s a curated popup market with many talented designers and artists, and a little bit of something for everyone. There were food items for sale as well as photo opportunities, art installations, and creative activities for kids and adults. You can read more about it here.

The market is held at the California Market Center near the Fashion District of downtown Los Angeles. The main floor was beautifully decorated for Christmas, and typically around this time of the year is when they host the popup at this location.

There was a very hip tarot reading tent when visitors first enter the market. I’d like to purchase one of those!

It was a wide, open space filled with about 400 vendors and it took us all day to get through it. So many choices! If you like sample sales, there were a lot of vendors to choose from.

There were many unique and unusual items for sale.

I really liked the felted succulents.

There were fun activities and funky art installations.

I highly encourage that you buy handmade and unique!

Patches and Pin Expo in Los Angeles

I had not realized how popular patches and pins were until I attended the Patches and Pin Expo today in Los Angeles. Audrey likes to collect them as an occasional souvenir, especially when we travel, it’s our habit to purchase a patch from the area we visited and she has a jean jacket covered with them.

Today, we stood in line for about 20 minutes to get into the Union club for the expo. What’s funny about this place is that it is a night club and so hosting this event here is a bit odd, a few of the rooms were so dimly lit, people had to pull out their phone to use the flashlight feature in order to see what was being sold.

There were many people in line waiting to enter the club. Even as we were leaving, a couple of hours later, guests were still entering the building.

It was packed, shoulder-to-shoulder, and sometimes a bit frustrating trying to see the products. The rooms were decked out like a disco and the vendors also spilled outside. The place was a bit of a maze trying to figure out where all the rooms were that had vendors. As a matter of fact, we went into three rooms and thought we were done but then found out there were more vendors downstairs and outside.

There were a lot of cool enamel pins (my favorite type) as well as plastic pins, badges, t-shirts, hat, posters, and even a vending machine that sold pins. Look at the jacket below — amazing! Don’t wear that thing through airport security!

We liked the terrarium pins by mochichito the best and bought three of them.

The Mokuyobi patches were my favorite patches. I already have a couple at home so did not buy any.

All in all, a fun event to visit, but next year, I hope they put up more signs to the vendor rooms or give us a map to follow, and install more lighting!

Have to Have Havaianas

With Black Friday only a couple of weeks away and the Christmas season soon upon us, it’s time to start the shopping list of fun and unique products.

Living in Huntington Beach means living in flip flops most of the year. Last weekend, while strolling by the beach, I spied a large Havaianas store and went inside. Yes, I know Havaianas have been around for while, but I did not know that you could customize them! I’ve always wanted to come up with my own flip flop designs but there it was, right in front of me, the flip flop store of my dreams, with every single piece customizable and complete with bling bling embellishments.

Take a look at the fun and pretty options available to select from, and men can get a custom pair of flip flops as well!

The Hollywood Bowl and Willy Wonka

We had a great time at the Hollywood Bowl Saturday night, watching “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. In case you hadn’t known, the Hollywood Bowl is one of the most popular venues in Southern California for viewing concerts, especially in an outdoor setting.

It was a wonderful night to be outdoors, the moon was out, and the weather had cooled off recently. Many people had been picnicking before the show, all seats allow you to eat while watching, and you’re allowed to bring in your own food and drinks. There are also restaurants, small shops and souvenir booths, and a museum which I have not been inside. Parking is very crowded and expensive. You can take a bus there or subject yourself to stacked car parking where you have to wait until the people around you leave before you can leave the parking lot.

There is security screening before you enter and certain items are not allowed inside (definitely no firearms, and I don’t believe you can bring in glass bottles).

There are several people movers to get you up the hill to the different levels of seating. It is a very large place!

We loved the special effects of projecting images onto the bowl, as well as the multiple screens to make viewing easier for those sitting farther away. Clips from the movie were shown, mixed in with live performances by John Stamos, Weird Al Yankovic, Finn Wolfhard (from Stranger Things), and a number of other stars and singers.

Everyone got a golden ticket and every so often, we were prompted to scratch and sniff and the scents resembled candy or fruit or other smells that coincided with the movie scene. I did not win a lifetime of chocolates, but I did have one of the most enjoyable nights ever and am really glad we attended this show.

Seafood Cove in Little Saigon

Have you ever been to dim sum? It’s a fun experience and great for diners with different appetite sizes. Chinese dishes are served in small portions, similar to the tapas or small plates concept, purchases are made by pointing at a cart rolling by, and a card stamped with letters indicate the price range of what was served. At the end of the meal, the waiter will tally up the stamps and give you the final bill.

We recently went to Seafood Cove in Westminster, on the famous Bolsa Avenue of Little Saigon. The line was out the door and the wait was over half an hour for a table. Once inside, it’s a bustling and loud atmosphere, with servers pushing the carts, stopping at the tables to show off their dishes, and customers gesturing for a specific cart to come over to their table. As soon as you finish off a steamer container or plate, the bus boys are immediately there whisking them away so you can make room for more food. It’s not a good idea to come here on a diet or with just one or two people. It’s more fun to have a large party and get a large variety of dishes and just pig out because you’ve waited all that time to get in.

These are barbecue pork buns and they have a slightly salty/sweet flavor and the bun is a very light sweet flavor, as well. They’re a popular dish.

I’m not sure what all these are, one of the dishes look like egg plant, another looks like calamari (but I did not like the color of it), and I think there is fried tofu in the corner, shaped like cubes. On the second shelf is a popular type of Vietnamese cake called banh bo, it’s sweet and feels spongy.

The drinks cart had Thai iced tea, boba milk tea, pennywort (the green drink), watermelon juice, and the famous Vietnamese iced coffee. Remember, we’re in Little Saigon, not Chinatown.

This is the spread we ended up with. We love soup dumplings and got a few orders. The rest of the dishes consisted mostly of shrimp or pork ingredients: har gow (contains shrimp), shumai (pork and shrimp), shrimp wrapped in a rice flour smothered in soy sauce, and fried shrimp with batter wrapped around a sugar cane.

Always end your meal with tea, as my Asian friends tell me, to wash away all that oil and grease from the food.

Old World Village, Huntington Beach

It’s October and we all know what that means! Oktoberfest! Right here in Huntington Beach, it feels like Oktoberfest takes place just about every few months. Perhaps its because I live so close to Old World Village and they host wiener dog races a number of times throughout the year. Even if you’re a cat person, check it out, it’s quite funny to watch and you’ll have a jolly good time drinking beer and eating pretzels bigger than your head.

It’s not limited to dachshunds, from what I can tell, the dog just needs to be a small breed. Audrey tells me there is an obsession with Corgis at the present time, so we had to snap a picture of the Corgi as well as the wiener dog. Personally, I prefer toy poodles but did not see any in the races. Look at that cute little guy below…I don’t know what happened to his competitors.

Of course, we had the German wenches (and I mean that in the archaic way, not in the derogatory way) dancing and serving baked goods in their busty outfits.

The village itself is quite “old world”, and surprisingly, quiet and not very crowded. The buildings typically have apartments situated above shops and restaurants, some with unpredictable hours, which I think is due to the fact that the owner lives above and opens shop whenever they feel like it.

Here’s a closer glimpse at the inside of some of the stores and eateries. The Speakeasy is probably the fanciest place in the village, but there is another coffee house nearby which almost rivals it in terms of decor.

The village is located near the 405 freeway and behind the Bella Terra shopping center. I hope more businesses and establishments open here, it is a quaint and walkable area, and I’m looking forward to taking a stroll there during the upcoming holiday season.

The Moo Gelato and Dessert Bar

Their cows must come from exotic countries. The gelato flavors include avocado, ube yam, durian, and coconut charcoal. The cupcakes are a little girl’s birthday party dream, and the egg waffle cones are warm and spongy.

The Moo Gelato and Dessert Bar had its grand opening last weekend and of course, we were there to take advantage of the buy one, get one free gelato scoop deal. The service was great and the shop was modern and welcoming – a good place to hang out with friends and have some dessert.

I tried the avocado and nutella gelato inside a chocolate egg waffle cone. OK, so the combination I came up was a little odd, but it didn’t matter, the flavors were true to taste and the only downside was that the egg waffle cone was freshly made and very warm, a bit too warm for gelato to sit in, speeding up the melting process faster than I would’ve preferred.

It’s a good spot to head to during the warmer months. For now, I’ll probably skip it and head a couple doors over to my favorite tea place, Tea Arias.

Abbot Kinney Festival – Venice, CA

My favorite spot in West L.A is Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice Beach. It’s stylish, trendy, close to the beach, and near the beautiful Venice Canals.  The shops and restaurants are an eclectic mix and the design and architecture of buildings and stores showcase individualistic style.

Last weekend, the annual Abbot Kinney Festival took place and of course, I dragged my man and Audrey there, even though the parking was $30 (no, we did not pay this, we parked further away, got some healthy exercise walking to the event, and free parking). It was quite crowded, shoulder-to-shoulder sometimes, but I really enjoyed browsing the vendor booths. the sample sales, and handmade goods.

It’s also a great place for people watching.  There were bands, food booths, and food trucks available.  If you’re interested in attending, check their website early September each year for the exact date of the festival.


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