Life is good; it marches on.
I've been trying out a new project, Paango the [modernity] [red] Panda.
See you there!
It's been nearly a year since my last update-- that is awful.
Life is good; it marches on.
I've been trying out a new project, Paango the [modernity] [red] Panda.
See you there!
Goodness. Really, how is it autumn already? Somehow I skipped right through spring and summer. Pumpkins and apples now. Soon it'll be pine trees, then daffodils, then peaches and tomatoes again before I know it. Life goes at warp speed.
Here's a painting I completed this weekend (had an empty apartment, so it was largely spent re-watching the first two seasons of Breaking Bad in anticipation of tonight's final episode):
Happy New Year! I love new year holidays-- both lunar and solar.
In preparation for CNY, I made a huge batch of veggie dumplings last week (so I don't have to go through the trouble this weekend). As you may or may not know, although we eat dumplings year-round since they're awesome, dumplings are also a traditional food item eaten during the new year, since they look kinda like ancient Chinese money and symbolize good fortune:
The batch yielded around 65 dumplings, all of which are currently sitting in my freezer. Thought I'd do a photo-tutorial of the process.
First gather your ingredients. Everything was found very easily at my local Asian supermarket. Again, these are veggie dumplings, so the filling is made of:
2 eggs (not pictured)
Soy sauce/oyster sauce (my mom bought me vegetarian oyster sauce!)/sesame oil
The dumpling skins were hand-made too (just flour and water), although a package of premade skins are pretty cheap at about $2 for a package of 30. But Colin insists that the homemade wrappers taste better, so homemade it is.
Both the vermicell noodles and shiitake mushrooms will need to be hydrated. The vermicelli noodles only need to soak in hot water for about 10-15 minutes before they're ready for use, but I soaked the shiitake mushrooms in water overnight.
Some more prep work-- I cut up the tofu (pictured below) into little cubes (this kind of tofu is very firm and has the same texture as, say, the shiitake mushrooms), and marinated it in soy sauce/oyster sauce/sesame oil/etc overnight.
Tofu's a blank canvas- you can flavor it with anything and it soaks it right up. If your tofu's bland, then that's your own damn fault.
Additionally, I wanted to get as much water out of the bok choy as possible, so I cut it up, lightly salted it, and let it drain water in a colander overnight.
Chop up the mushrooms (squeeze out the excess water), chop up the vermicelli noodles, and combine ALL ingredients in a large bowl.
You want all ingredients to be chopped up finely. I realized that I didn't have things sized down enough. The tofu chunks, the mushroom chunks, etc were all larger than I wanted, so I scooped the filling out and chopped it all up even smaller. The more chopped up the ingredients are, the better they'll be able to bind together, making it easier when you have to actually sit down and fold the dumplings. So, avoid this mistake, and chop up all your ingredients more finely in the first place before combining everything together.
I added the two eggs (for even more help in binding everything together) and more soy sauce/salt/oyster sauce) at the very end.
Then I made some dough for the actual skins. It's not very hard-- just 2 cups of flour, and hot water. I didn't measure the amount of water used. Just add in water slowly and gradually as you see fit until you get the right doughy consistency. I think it was probably 1 part water to 2 parts flour.
Then, have your dumpling folding area ready.
Have your dumpling filling, your dough for the skins, extra flour to prevent sticking, a rolling pin, a small bowl of water, and some sort of tray to put your dumplings on.
I took a chunk of dough, rolled it out into a small log, and cut it into pieces. Each piece will become a dumpling skin. I rolled out each cut piece into a ball, flattened it with the palm of my hand, and rolled it out into circles with my rolling pin:
The rolling part takes some practice at first, but it becomes easy after a few, and soon you'll be able to roll each wrapper in 30 seconds from start to finish.
Here's where it gets a bit messy and I stopped taking pictures. Put a good amount of filling in the center of the skin, dip a finger into your bowl of water, and wet down the edge of half of the skin. Then wrap the dumpling up! This video tutorial is really good.
And there you have it.
With next weekend being a long weekend (woohoo President's Day!) I plan on picking up some ingredients for pork & chive dumplings. We've made pork & napa cabbage dumplings before, so the process shouldn't be too different. It'll be less prep work than the veggie dumplings, actually, since the filling will be just combining seasoning, ground pork, and chives/ginger/garlic. Easy peasy. This recipe and its user-suggested substitutions looks really sound.
Additionally, I've also recently been craving turnip cake (luo bo gao), a common dim sum dish. Don't let the name "cake" fool you-- rice cakes can both be sweet and savory, and this stuff savory and not cake-like in the Western sense. Turnip cakes- as a rule, it seems- always have bits of pork/bacon or shrimp in them, so I usually go to Buddha Bodai (there's a location in Manhattan Chinatown too) to get my fix.
Since both Flushing and Chinatown can be a bit of a hike for me now (but I'll still travel for food), I tried my making my own. It was successful, actually really easy, and vegetarian-- just used a huge daikon and a bunch of shiitake mushrooms.
It was good.
Since Colin won't be around for Chinese New Year OR Valentine's Day this year, we're postponing. I did a quick drawing for him yesterday:
He sends me food pics from abroad too:
So far so good on the whole 1-drawing-a-day resolution for 2013.
Today's the 20st, and here are 21 drawings (ahead of schedule, woohoo) .
Still taking submissions from /r/redditgetsdrawn, navigating through the more boring common submissions of babies and couples* and head-only portraits to find the more interesting poses and gestures.
I've also started experimenting more with simple coloring, as you may have noticed.
Process goes like this.
Step 1: Sketch out in pencil:
Step 2: Ink ink ink it out by hand with a pen:
Step 3: Upload it on a computer and play around with some colors:
Usually takes about an hour from start to finish. Will try to keep it up for as long as I can.
*despite finding most 'couples' shots boring to draw, some (like above) can still be interesting and compelling. The loose pencil drawing at the top of this blog post was submitted with the title "The love of my life recently passed away"-- tragic bike accident.
First drawing of 2013!
I've been doing drawings from /r/redditgetsdrawn for a while now (well before it soared into popularity
overnight a few days ago, however hipster-ish that might sound).
It's a pretty good arena that brings
together people who'd like to get drawn and artists who'd like the opportunity to get more practice.
In honors of New Years and of resolutions, I resolve to keep this up and not lapse into long periods of not drawing. Here are the ones I've done in the month of December :
Speaking about the new year, it's end-of-the-year-survey-time--
I've done this survey every year for the last, like, 7 years now (as I move from blog-to-blog, and will keep with tradition. I find that it really is a good way of reviewing the past year, especially of all the good things that have happened:
01. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Received my Masters degree diploma. Went para-sailing in Taiwan. Got a job with BENEFITS. Moved in with a BOY. Attend a wedding where the bride and groom are from my peer group. Got my wisdom teeth taken out/was under anesthesia for the first time.
02. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't quite remember, but likely it was to draw more often. Which I think I did. Same resolution for this year, except I'm going to try to quantify it-- try to draw at least 5 drawings/week.
Read more books (tally it up at the end of 2013 on GoodReads).
03. Did someone close to you give birth?
04. Did anyone close to you die?
05. What countries did you visit?
Taiwan, China, South Korea, North Korea (technically...), and Japan.
06. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Um. I don't know, I feel very blessed with the things I already have. Really. I'd like to travel abroad again at least once in 2013. Colin's going to Vienna and Israel for work soon, which I'm pretty jealous about.
07. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
No particular dates, but 2012 has been a very good year.
08. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?
Getting a job that finally has to do with my degree.
09. What was your biggest failure(s)?
Being lazy when I could have been more productive.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Wisdom teeth extraction!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
My pentel brush pen. It was like a $3 purchase, but it's totally awesome.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Kat and Spookfish Theater for all their hard work and successes.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and NJ Transit monthly train passes (can you believe those things are more than $400 bucks/month?).
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Asia-trip. SNL with Louis CK!
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2012?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? about the same- happy
ii. thinner or fatter? about the same- pretty healthy!
iii. richer or poorer? despite costly rent/train passes, richer. I was unemployed this time last year!
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Working on personal projects, whether it be drawing or painting, etc.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent the weekend before Christmas up in MA with Colin & his family, and Christmas Eve/Christmas in NY with mine.
21. How will you be spending New Year's?
Bottle of wine, chocolates, potato chips, Colin, Breaking Bad marathon.
22. Did you fall in love in 2012?
23. How many one-night stands?
Well, you know me.
23. Old friends you've seen?
24. What was your favorite TV program?
30 Rock, Breaking Bad, Colbert, Daily Show, Archer, Louie.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
26. What was the best book you read?
I actually read quite a bit this year. Life of Pi was good (slow start though), Michael Grant's Gone series. Room by Emma Donoghue. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker was great. Escape from Camp 14 was riveting.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Meh. Not music, but I've discovered NRP and listen to NPR almost non-stop nowadays.
28. What did you want and get?
A pretty awesome library job.
29. What did you want and not get?
Nothing- I'm good.
30. Favorite film of this year?
Argo was great. Django Unchained.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Well, the day before my birthday Colin & I went to an SNL dress rehearsal (Louis CK hosted) and that was an absolutely fantastic surreal experience.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Mmmm. Gah, I don't know. I'm pretty satisfied with the way life is going. More travel?
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
34. What kept you sane?
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I hate this question. Louis CK.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election. Civil rights.
37. Who do you miss?
I'm happy about who are in my life.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
All of my new co-workers.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
Save your money, contribute to a retirement fund as early as possible, put money in some investments too.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
This Drive meme never failed to make me laugh: http://anongallery.org/6546/drive
What a November it's been so far. We've been very fortunate to not have experienced too much hardship with Hurricane Sandy-- worst thing was losing power for a few nights and having long work commutes, but no destruction of property or any bodily injuries were had, so we have been lucky.
The week of the hurricane itself had been relatively uneventful, though that Monday had been a little scary when we lost power at the height of the storm that night (I had started reading World War Z, which was a much much scarier read with the power cut, the wind howling, and the sounds of trees falling down outside). I wasn't able to get back into work in Midtown Manhattan until Friday that week, with both the MTA trains and the NJTransit trains being down. That Friday I actually had to plan an alternative bus route leaving Princeton at 6:10AM in order to get to work by 8:30. By the following Monday the NJTransit train I normally take began running again, but on a limited schedule where I also have to take a 6:12am train every morning. Commuting 4+ hours a day on completely packed train cars hasn't been pretty, but I'm very impressed with both the MTA and NJTransit at how quickly they're working to restore service for everyone.
Last weekend I also had a pair of tickets to that week's SNL Dress Rehearsal:
With all the hurricane business, I was really concerned that they were going to cancel the show. Luckily, they powered through, so Colin and I made our way into NYC last weekend. When I first got an email saying that I had won the SNL lottery for a pair of tickets, the host hadn't been announced yet and I had made peace with the probability that it was most likely going to be a so-so celebrity. Two weeks later when they announced that it was Louis CK, I couldn't believe my frickin' luck. There seriously could NOT have been anybody else I would have preferred. If Lorne Michaels came to me and offered to invite on anybody I wanted in the entire world to host that night, my answer would have been Louis CK. Incredible incredible luck.
The dress rehearsal go-time was at 8PM, confirmation email said to be there by 7PM the latest, so we arrive to 30 Rockefeller a bit after 6pm. Stood on line for a while behind a nice older couple and a really annoying pair of 20-something girls who wouldn't stop talk-shouting at each other. I heard about how the SNL Studio (8H) is terrible for the studio audience in that pretty much all seats have obstructed views, especially the ones that are all the way off to the sides. I knew that arriving early to get in line wasn't necessarily a good strategy for getting good seats, since if you get seated first you might be escorted to fill in those seats all the way off to the sides. It didn't matter very much actually when we got on line, actually, because at some point a page came up to us and, while counting off, pulled both Colin and myself as well as the pair of girls out of that line and put us in another one (where we were at the very end of this line).
Some other lines start going through the metal detectors and loaded up into an elevator. After a little while, our own line went through the metal detector. Since Colin and I were at the end of our line going through the metal detectors, we were the last ones loaded into the elevator, and subsequently the first ones coming out of the elevator, so we ended up now being first in line outside of the studio doors. We must have waited for another 20 minutes on this line before they finally brought us into the studio.
When we walked in and realized that we were going to end up with 2nd row center seats on the floor (right in front of the monologue stage and also pretty much right in front of the band stage), I couldn't even express my disbelief at how INCREDIBLY lucky we were. I looked behind me and saw everyone else (at least 200+ people) stuck in the balcony/riser seats, with the majority of the seats being partial/obstructed views, and couldn't believe that Colin and I were lucky enough to be on the FLOOR. I did a count-- the floor only had 4 rows of seats, with 8 seats in each row. Out of 200+ people, we were lucky enough to be one of the 32 people in a seat right on the floor. Considering that we could tell that the majority of our floor seat companions were VIPS (seemed like some were friends/family of NBC personnel or friends/family of the host/musical guests), it seemed like Colin and I were ones of the 2% of people plucked out of the general audience for floor seats-- AMAZING.
Anyway, Louis CK is awesome. The dress rehearsal was 2 hours long while the live show is only 1.5 hours, so we got to see a bunch of extra sketches and even got a much longer (about 15-20 minute long) opening monologue than the live show. It was interesting to watch the live show later on Hulu and compare. For instance, I KNEW that Louis was going to have to cut one of the stories he told in his monologue since it went on for forever, but I didn't think he was going to end up cutting the one he did and going with the old-lady-in-the-airport story instead. The Lincoln video that aired during dress was the Director's Cut and included an additional scene that didn't air on the live show. There were a lot of sketches that were cut that I didn't necessarily think should have been cut-- the children's drawing show/Robot Ant sketch, the The Voice sketch where Louis CK made it as a finalist (actually, I guess that one wasn't so great), the NBA basketball theme song sketch, the Cologne murder sketch, etc. Any one of them could have been swapped for the Mountain Pass sketch, in my opinion. It still was good times all around.
In other various miscellaneous news, my friends' play The ABC's Guide to Getting Famous opens TOMORROW night, November 12. Tickets and more information here: http://horsetrade.info/Show/251. Show dates are the 12, 13, 19, 20, 25 and 27th. Go!
Between Hurricane Sandy, losing electricity, SNL, my birthday, postponed Halloween, etc, it seems that both Colin and I forgot and disregarded our anniversary this year, ha! We don't actually have an anniversary date set in stone-- it just hovers around some time around Halloween weekend, I guess. Oh well. Happy 5 years to us!
I finally (sort of) completed our portraits which will be going on the bedroom wall over the bed. They're still really wet but can't be hung, and I'll want to still do some little changes to them here and there in the upcoming days, but here they are:
Closeup and the (reverse) process:
I think his portrait ended up being better than mine, but I think that's because I'm more used to looking at his ole mug than my own, so painting it came more naturally than doing my own.
Oh right, I have a blog. It's been more than 2 months since I last updated-- bad Doris, bad.
If my friend Kat/Spookfish Theater has put on a new theater production before I've churned out a new blog post, then shame on me.
In any case, yes, my friend Kat/Spookfish Theater have a new show coming out!
The details are as follows:
The ABC's Guide to Getting Famous
Written and Performed by Ming Peiffer
Developed with and Directed by Kat Yen
Part documentary and part solo-show, The ABC's Guide To Getting Famous is a raw look into the real lives of Asian American artists trying to make it in the entertainment industry. Funny, heartbreaking, and, at times, downright offensive...This hybrid film/theater piece is an honest investigation of race in casting..
The Red Room
85 E 4th St (between 2nd Ave and Bowery/3rd Ave; so up the stairs, not into the basement)
Monday, 5 November @ 8pm
Tuesday, 6 November @ 8pm
Monday, 12 November @ 8pm
Tuesday, 13 November @ 8pm
Monday, 19 November @ 8pm
Tuesday, 20 November @ 8pm
Tickets are $15-18.
(ABC= American Born Chinese, for those who didn't know that)
There you have it folks, go support the arts. Especially underrepresented folks in the arts.
Speaking about art, lately I've been working on a set of large paintings/portraits to go above the bed, since it's just a large plain white wall now. Mine's ::aaaaalmost:: done (still some much-needed tweaking still needs to be done), and I'm just starting on Colin's (so that one's really rough):
He'll be holding a pipe, since we're classy like that.
Can you believe that it'll be NOVEMBER in a week? I'll be 26! Colin and I would have been together for 5 years! Barack Obama will be president for a second-term/we'll have a Mormon president!
Before anything, I'd first like to give a shout out to my best friend Kat Yen as well as Ming Pieffer for a new play their theater company Spookfish Theatre is producing. Written by Ming Pieffer and directed by Kat Yen, Pornography for the People opens THIS Sunday evening.
"Sex! Surveillance! Censorship! "Pornography for the People" is an eclectic mash-up of interwoven stories of both real and fictional characters that navigates the trajectories of four Chinese "netizens" as they act out their fantasies and lives via the Internet. Mu Zi Mei is the notorious sex blogger whose fame and happiness dwindles as her anti-patriarchal lifestyle becomes an official target. Gordon is a British expat turned journalist whose research and sex life become dangerously entwined. Yi Yi is a farm girl turned do-it-yourself pornographer whose skewed views on sex play into her risky lifestyle. Mr. Lin is a respected magazine editor who becomes a public nuisance when his falsified online literary fame hits government officials a little too close to home. Inspired by real interviews, banned blog posts, government issued statements, news articles and scientific research, "Pornography for the People" is the first part of a trio of plays, entitled "Netizens," that attempts to understand worldwide policy-making (SOPA, Green Dam Youth Escort, etc.) and the prevalent censorship in today's increasingly technology-dependent social and economic spheres."
Other showtimes include Tuesday 8/28, Thurs 8/30, Fri 08/31, Sun 09/02, and you can get your tickets here. Support the arts!
Other than that, as many of you may know, I've recently moved in with Colin last month to a cozy apartment in NJ (still work in Manhattan though, so that's a bit of a commute every morning). Things are largely unpacked, and I've been increasingly domestic:
A project I had been meaning to do was to recreate in our new apartment (to a certain degree) the octopus mural I had done on the bedroom wall of Colin's previous apartment. When he moved out, he had to leave the mural behind, obviously:
To a certain degree I feel a bit of sadness when my paintings get painted over, though I'm used to it (my undergrad senior project/installation, for example). Surely the fate of this octopus is to be covered in a fresh new coat of white paint, and that's okay.
It was decided that the new octopuses would be done on canvas though, so 1) Colin can keep them for longer than the duration of our lease and 2) we wouldn't have to go through the hassle of painting the walls white when we leave.
Unfortunately the entire apartment is carpeted (dislike) so we're really paranoid about getting any paint drips anywhere, where'd have to pay fees upon moving out, I'm sure. As a semi-solutions, I have an area in the living room near the patio where I'm able to paint because we've put down a rug.
Work in progress:
Completed and hung cyborg octopus with his ninja backup:
Next painting project will be two goofy portraits for the bedroom. In the meantime though, I'm also in the midst of planning a mini-roadtrip for Labor Day weekend, where we start in NJ and drive south, with the plan to hit a couple of historical sites along the route. With the stipulation being that we shouldn't drive for stretches more than 5 hours at a time, North Carolina is as far down as we anticipate being able to reach given our time constraints. Also steering clear of Charlotte, NC since that will be the week of the Democratic National Convention.
Should be fun!
I've been neglecting this blog and took a hiatus from drawing when I came home from a trip abroad at the end of February due to job-hunting-- mainly, I felt guilty using any free time I had to do anything but look for a job.
Now that I am employed again (at a law library-- my first day is this upcoming Monday, eek!), I've been putting ink to paper again and have resumed with journaling my travels around Asia with Colin.
Random note: I've recently treated myself by buying this pen. I've heard a lot of good things about the Pentel Brush Pen before, but haven't been able to justify its price (okay, I know $14 for a pen isn't THAT expensive, but it is compared to Sharpies and Micron Pens). The Pentel Brush Pen is AWESOME. I've used brush pens, specifically from the Micron line, a lot before when I've been too lazy to use an inkwell/actual brush, but having actual hairs instead of a felt brush makes a whole world of difference in inking! Also, the Pentel Brush Pen takes refills when it runs out of ink, so it's actually pretty cost-effective.
I looooooooove it.
Here is the first 1.5 days of the trip. It's going to be a long time to document the entire thing, but I'm chipping away at it.
Finishing this travelogue will take a while, but I'm enjoying the process so far.
With it taking so long and having not even documented 2 full days of this trip yet though, China, Korea, and Japan seem so far away.
In any case, here's a souvenir from Korea-- in order to go to the JSA at Panmunjom, you have to sign a waiver saying you won't scoff at North Koreans or, most importantly, point at them. Also, that the United Nations Command isn't accountable if you get shot/killed:
Since the histories between the U.S., Taiwan, China, South Korea and Japan are so deeply intertwined and have affected each other so much (Cultural Revolution, Korean War, WWII, etc), I hope to be able to have that come across in my travelogue as it develops futher.
One last one before I go:
Got A LOT of errands done this weekend, saw A LOT of lion dances, got a little bit of last-minute language-learning cramming done (where Colin's in charge of memorizing some Korean survival-phrases and me Japanese-- and yes, I am failing).
Then off tomorrow morning!