Friday, July 31, 2009

The Flirty Guide Welcomes Burkart Videography

When I first saw James Burkart's work I loved what I saw. I also love his ethics. James is always looking out for everyone, both his clients and colleagues alike. This shows in his work and the rave reviews I've always heard from anyone who has had the pleasure of working with him.

View this highlight video on Blip.tv

James is an active member of BAPVA the Bay Area Professional Videographer's Association. Learn more about James by visiting him on The Flirty Guide. There's several video trailers and a nifty bio all about his inspiration and goals in how he ensures his clients are happy with the video he produces for them.

James truly stands for and his company is based upon professionalism and quality. He is not the kind of person or videographer who will be complacent or uncaring on your big day. He fully understands the significance for each and every couple and if you watch his video trailers I think you'll see that.

I am so happy to introduce you to James and am proud that he has become part of The Flirty Guide.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Citizen Cake Fruit Gelees and Home's Bread Pudding

Two of my most favorite San Francisco sweet treats. . .

Mmmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmmm. Bourbon Soaked Banana Bread Pudding from Home Restaurant (ETA this restaurant closed 8/11) in San Francisco. It is yummy beyond yummy. They serve it heated at the restaurant usually with a big dollop of freshly whipped cream on top. It's great hot. I eat it cold when I bring the leftovers home it's also great at room temperature. Home is located at the intersection of Market and Church right next to the big Safeway on the out skirts of the Castro.

I had never had bread pudding before last year. To be honest the thought of it always sounded a little icky to me. Now that I've finally tried it I can't believe I missed out on it for decades! Oh well, better late then never I guess.

I also made a quick stop at Citizen Cake (ETA closed Dec, 2011) located on Fillmore Street in San Francisco for more of my fav Fruit Gelees. They are sooooo goooood! Yestereday I picked up Apricot, Grapefruit and Raspberry Gelees.

I even waited to eat them until I got them home and photographed them first thing this morning. A sacrifice indeed to wait to eat them just to take pictures for all of you :D LOL. The Fruit Gelees are $1.50 each so I keep thinking they would make great little wedding favors if you wanted to give your guests a unique sweet treat.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Optimism, Migraines, Mangoes and Rose Colored Glasses

Weird post title right? Well they actually all tie in together.

Let me explain. For most of my life one of the most frequent insults people have thrown my way (both friends and foes alike) is to take off my rose colored glasses. The euphamism is of course intended as a way of telling me I am often not being realistic or that I am too idealistic.

I however consider myself to be a realistic optimist. My for instance has always been I'm realistic enough to know that planes crash but optimistic enough to believe I'll survive if I'm ever on one that does. See what I mean? And I'll always hope for things like world peace, the end of racism and other global issues. It doesn't mean I believe we'll actually achieve them 100% but I can't help myself from hoping that we can improve upon them.

Photoshopped image of what I think my lenses are going to look like.

In my day to day life it boils down to this: Do I become more suspicious and less trusting of people and their intentions and assume they are out to get me or harm me in some manner or do I continue to assume goodwill and that lack of information is the cause of most misunderstandings?

I have always adopted the latter response when conflict arises. Even now in business I and many of my colleagues are often faced with someone stepping on our toes, insulting us, violating us in some manner that usually has to do with copyrights or trademarks, or just out and out gossiping in a manner that can cause harm.

I am often asked the question of how would I respond to these situations, and my answer is always the same: I assume goodwill and that the person accidently or unknowingly violated me in a manner that they just didn't understand they were causing me harm and maybe if I approach them with kindness rather then hostility we will both be happy with the end result.

The problem with approaching anyone from a point of anger or hostility is that the other person immediately becomes defensive. Once anyone's defenses are up it's harder to get them to see your side of things and much less likely that they will relent their position because it is often a knee jerk reaction to not want to be wrong.

If goodwill and diplomacy don't work you can always get tough and take legal action if needed. Personally if I don't feel an issue warrants legal action then I just walk away. Seriously, life is too short to waste your time and energy dealing with someone who lacks character in your personal or professional life by prolonging your relationship with them. In my little world it's really that simple :)

So here's the funny part. I have suffered from migraine headaches for years. The other night I was on Google and began searching for ways to relieve one of my migraine triggers which is photophobia. While I am afraid of (hate) having my picture taken, photophobia actually means you are extremely sensitive to light. Natural daylight is fine for me, fluorescent light can be a problem. My other problem is with how something is lit. If I am talking to you and you are backlit by say a window or a bright light at night... That glare or back lighting will cause me to get a migraine. So now when I go to restaurants I always sit facing in towards a wall instead of facing outwards towards a window.

A cure for this? Uh huh... You guessed it: Rose Colored Glasses

It's something about my eyes receiving too much blue light so the pink tinted glasses will balance and cancel out the blue. Who knew? My GP never mentioned them even though he knew about my photophobia induced headaches. I don't have to wear them all of the time, just when my eyes start to be bothered by a light source.

So those are my new glasses with 3x pink tint and non-glare coating on the front and back of each lens. I ordered them yesterday when I made my first ever trip to the eye doctor. I am going to look so nerdy.

I had also noticed that in the past few months I am becoming far-sighted. Bummer, that's age biting me in the butt. All in all my eyes are apparently in phenomenal condition. I currently have 20/20 vision so I don't know what it was before my close range vision started to go.

Seriously, the technician told me my eyes are in remarkably good shape and even asked if I eat a lot of carrots. I told him I eat mangoes because they are higher in vitamin A :) My favorites are the Trader Joes unsweetened and unsulfured dried Just Mango Slices and Odwalla Mango Tango smoothies.

So all in all it's pretty darn funny to me that people have always told me I need to "Take off your rose colored spectacles" and now, I'll really be wearing them both physically and metaphorically :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Leukemia has Taken One of the Best of Us

Michelle and her husband Van just a couple of weeks ago while she was still healthy enough to enjoy a weekend getaway to Carmel.

At 27 years old and after fighting two long, hard, courageous years against her treatment resistant Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Michelle is now at peace.

It is with the heaviest heart and a lot of tears that I want to share the sad, sad news that Michelle Maykin has passed away. Those of you who read the blog I maintain for my cousin Tami will remember Michelle from some past posts there:

Project Michelle is a success for patients needing a donor
Graham is Gone and Michelle's Prognosis: 4-6 Weeks
PLEASE HELP: Michelle's Need is Critical

This was Michelle before Leukemia took control of her bone marrow and took over her life. Can I just tell you that I HATE CANCER!

On June 29th Michelle's husband Van posted on her blog that the doctor had told Michelle earlier that week that she had 4-6 weeks left. For days after I am certain that hearts broke all around the world for this very special girl, her devoted husband Van, her adoring family, her best friend Mabel and everyone lucky enough to have known her. Three weeks and five days later, surrounded by their love, Michelle passed away and was finally released from all of her pain and suffering.

When I first found the Project Michelle website in February there was so much hope that she was going to take back her life and was going to have her future.

This photo with her mom says it all. There is Michelle with Leukemia looking absolutely gorgeous. I've said it before but I'll say it again that Michelle's beauty was through and through, not just skin deep. It radiated from within her and touched and changed the whole world making it a better place for anyone fortunate enough to know her. And thanks to her blog and website people will continue to meet and know Michelle for decades to come.

Michelle, Van and Marshawn.

Realizing she had only so much time left, her family and best friends took her on a weekend retreat just over 2 weeks ago in Carmel, CA. There they stayed in a beautiful house alongside the Pacific coastline tucked in the forested hills. The following photos are from a slide show on her blog that she wanted to share with her readers...

Michelle's view of Carmel, CA

To read her blog it seems like everyone knew this would be a final trip and an opportunity to be together in the most normal of circumstances for perhaps the last time. I think this photo epitomizes Michelle so well. Full of life, upbeat and celebrating the good parts even while being forced to deal with the bad.

Michelle was alway surrounded by love whether at home or in the hospital. She had her family, friends and because she was so willing to go public with her story, to share and to educate, she also had strangers all around the country and world who knew her and were all pulling for and praying for her.

Michelle and her pup Marshawn

Michelle and Van.

As a direct result of Project Michelle's donor drive recruitment efforts with the Asian American Donor Program over the past 2 years since her diagnosis:

• 4 donors have been matches for patients in need and have donated their stem cells!

• 15 others are in the process of being tested to be donors.

• 110 individuals have been identified as possible matches for patients in need.

Michelle's legacy will forever be one of never giving up hope and saving the lives of others. The cancer may have taken her life but it didn't take her spirit. Michelle was fighting to the very end. Her best friend Mabel says in her blog that right up to the end she was cracking jokes, making everyone else laugh.

To honor Michelle please help to spread the word to others you know about the Marrow Donor Program particularly those of Vietnamese and Chinese descent. Educate them, explain to them the need and donation process. Ask them to register to become a potential donor. I am absolutely certain that wherever she is, Michelle will smile each time another person joins the registry.

They can learn more at Tami's Website or at the www.AADP.org so please send them one or both links.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Flirty Food Critic • I'm a writer for the South Winchester News

Most of you know I'm a foodie. I love eating food, taking pictures of food, talking about food and when I have the time, cooking food. On the surface it probably sounds like I have the makings of being a halfway decent food critic. All I can say is hold on there, maybe not, looks can be deceiving.

Blue Sky: Chinese Chicken Salad

Did you know I choose not to eat beef, pork, lamb or bison and am allergic to shellfish and mollusks. I eat vegetarian half the week and hate the taste of mushrooms, eggplant, curry and spicy foods and I don't drink wine or any type of alcohol. I usually just drink water.

So I was kind of surprised when I was asked to write restaurant reviews for a local news blog.


Chevy's: Chips and Salsa

Yup I'm writing the occasional food review about poultry, fish and vegetarian dishes on The South Winchester News blog. It's a news blog that only covers what happens on a single street that runs from San Jose through Campbell to Los Gatos spanning Stevens Creek to HWY 85.

Michi Sushi: Orange Blossom Roll

Another reason I am not an ideal candidate for writing restaurant reviews is because I tend to find one dish I like and stick with it... So once I review the one thing I like at any given location, that's it, I'm done and will have nothing else to say about any other food on their menu in the future.

Michi Sushi: Edamame

I keep telling the editor he needs to find another writer to cover beef, pork and mushrooms as they are all very popular menu items. So far he hasn't been overly concerned with doing so but if you live near South Winchester, eat out a lot and want to do some blog writing (Warning: the compensation can only be described as meager or paltry) let me know and I can put you in contact with the editor.

Restaurant AI: Agedashi Tofu

At the moment I'm not even sure how many restaurants there are on South Winchester but am glad that Santana Row falls into my review zone. Mmmmm I can't wait to start reviewing all of the restaurants there. Some of my favs are Pizza Antica, Straits Cafe and the Pozole at Consuelo.

Restaurant AI: Asparagus Tempura

I do my best not to be negative and to focus on the positive when I dine at each restaurant. Sometimes that can be challenging. Like one time there was a fluke accident and I was cut by a flying shard of glass even before I ordered. I was bleeding though the first part of dinner (and have the pictures to prove it). If I thought accidents like that happened on a regular basis I'd include it in my review but since it was so odd I will spare the establishment being outed in my review.

Togos: #24 Turkey and Avocado

Both Togos and Baskin Robbins are examples of I only order the same thing each time. So once I review the #24 and Mint Chip ice cream, that's it, I'm done and won't be reviewing anything else at either establishment again. LOL unless the editor makes me.

If you want to read the reviews I've posted so far CLICK HERE.

Baskin Robbins: Mint Chip

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kara's Mini Fleur De Sel Cupcake

I've been neglecting the "So Yummy" category on the blog because ever since hurting my ankle in May I started gaining weight. Can you believe just not walking my dog for two months made me gain around 9 lbs! So until my ankle was better I swore off desserts. But I cheated a little bit last night... Enjoy!

I know it doesn't look mini, but I swear it was. When it comes to cupcakes I have to say that Kara's are one of, if not "the" best cupcakes around. I had the Fleur De Sel: A moist and rich dark chocolate cupcake, with a tiny bit of ooey gooey caramel in the middle and that thick and silky chocolate ganache frosting topped with sliver thin flakes of sea salt dusted on top. My mouth is watering just typing that.

If you know a better cupcake please, introduce me!

This entire cupcake is so small I wouldn't be surprised if it could fit into a shot glass. So it looks more decadent then it was but only because I photographed it with my macro camera lens up close and personal. It was quite tiny. But you know what they say about good things coming in small packages. And while we're talking adages, turns out money can buy happiness. It only took $2 to make me sinfully happy last night :)

Parking Rates in San Francisco

When I go up to SF the price of parking is often, quite frankly, obscene.

There are several garages where the parking rates can be as high as $20+ per hour and street meters are 25¢ for 5 minutes. Mmmm hmmm think about that. That means to park on the street for 2 hours would take 24 quarters. Seriously, who carries 24 quarters around with them?

So especially if you don't go to the city often or if you're a tourist visiting SF for the first time do NOT make the rookie mistake of parking in a garage or lot without first verify the cost per minute. If you see $5 don't assume it means per hour. It may very likely be for each 15 minutes. You may have to walk a few blocks to find more affordable parking but there are places like the 5th and Mission and Sutter-Stockton parking garages where the rates are much more reasonable.

So today's big score... This was no joke. I actually saw this sign in a "long term" parking lot in a downtown shopping district here in Northern California. I swear I read the sign 3 times to be certain I was reading it correctly.

When it sunk in the rate was 10 hours for a dollar I felt giddy. And parked there. Want to know where this dream lot is? OK, I'll tell you. It's not in San Francisco. It's in Burlingame right off of Howard Ave. behind the Unique Bride bridal salon between Primrose and Park Road. Sure there are parking meters everywhere in Burlingame and even a lot of 2 hour free parking spaces but there are also a lot of meter patrol people so if you're going to be there for more than 2 hours the long term lot may just save you a ticket :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Save the Date Movies

Andrew Hsu from Studio MSV has 6 good reasons why he thinks you should consider a Save the Date Movie instead of a Save the Date paper card. Some are more convincing than others. LOL I especially liked ideas #3, #4 and #5.

You can check them out in the Flirty Idea Gallery and view a sample STDM he created for Thomas and Melissa. 

I love that it's so personal and shows a little bit about who they are for the spouse or significant other of the bride and groom's friends who might know them yet but will be attending as a guest.

Visit Andrew on:

Studio MSV Website

Update on My Cousin Tami's Stem Cell Transplant

Well today I have good news. Dare I say great? Tami was released as an in-patient and is now an out-patient following her Stem Cell/Marrow Transplant +20 days ago up at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She will still need to go to the hospital each day from her on-campus apartment but this is a significant step in her recovery progress.

It means the donor stem cells she received to replace her diseased bone marrow are working. They are making new blood cells and platelets. Woo Hoo!

It also means I've updated the Day by Day design of the illustration I post on her BLOG each day. As you can see above she is no longer in the hospital bed. YAY.

She still isn't smiling because she doesn't feel good but her Doctor keeps telling us despite how bad she's felt for the past 20 days (Mucositis, Graft vs. Host Disease, anti-rejection medications, transfusions, etc.) she is recovering very well and they are very pleased with her progress.

For more details on Tami's status you can visit her BLOG and peek through the past posts. Hopefully she will be smiling again soon.

The myth that donating is "excruciatingly" painful couldn't be more inaccurate and yet it stops countless people from joining the registry because they believe the myth is true :(

Did you know that 70% of marrow is now donated through the donor's blood? This is an example of how Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donations work. This is how Tami received her donor stem cells. Her anonymous donor went through a 5 day process where he received medicine once a day to help his bone marrow over produce new stem cells that were released into his blood stream. They were collected and the rest of his blood was returned to him through his other arm. The stem cells were then flown to Seattle, WA where Tami received them via her Hickman Catheter.

The remaining 30% of donations are given through marrow extracted from the back of the pelvic/hip bone under local or general anesthesia so that the donor feels no pain during the harvesting process.

What may also be of interest to you is to know that in almost all instances if you are asked to donate marrow rather then stem cells it's because your donation is to help a child. Children experience a higher transplant success rate when they receive marrow.

If you would like to learn more about how you can become a potential bone marrow donor by joining the National Marrow Donor Program please visit Tami's website www.HelpingTami.org.

Or go directly to the "Be The Match" the foundation for the National Marrow Donor Program.

Monday, July 20, 2009

LED Dance Floor Chandelier

When I saw the first photos of this 20x30 foot, 3 tiered, dance floor chandelier that Bay Area special events lighting company Enhanced Lighting had created for a recent wedding, all I could think was STUNNING!

Owner John Woods said that the longest strands were 12 feet long and they can be arranged in many other configurations. This was the first time they put this piece together and were very pleased with the results.

They used LED lighting to light the crystals and create the color changes.

Kudos to John Woods and the Enhanced Lighting team. What an inspiring sight. And if it looks this cool in photos can you even imagine how gorgeous it was in person?

Enhanced lighting serves the Greater San Francisco Bay Area from the South Bay to the city and beyond.

Going Green Idea: Eco-Friendly Travel Chopsticks

Sure those disposable chopsticks that you get in little paper sleeves at restaurants and Asian Delis are convenient and disposable, probably even recyclable, but I wanted to share a little gadget with those of you who would like to be more eco-friendly. Instead of using disposable chopsticks why not travel with your own pair that you can use, wash and reuse again and again and again?

It's so easy to do. There are 3 types of travel chopsticks that I am aware of. The first pictured here is a plastic box with a sliding lid and only costs a few dollars.

This type of travel container comes in two sizes, standard and slightly smaller.

It weighs almost nothing and is so easy to just toss into your purse or keep in the glove box of your car. After each use just wash, dry and place back in the container for the next time. I've carried variations of this type of case for years.

This year I found a more compact and elegant case.

With a hinged lid and a demi pair of chopsticks inside it fits into my smaller purses because it doesn't take as much space as the standard length black sliding container above. It's hard to see in the photo but the last few inches to the tip are slightly textured so that you can hold food more easily with them.

Great idea?

And the fanciest of all are these Collapsible Travel Chopsticks (on the Think Geek website) that you actually screw together for each use. Also far pricier at $30 - $40 I haven't been tempted to get a pair like this because I'd probably lose them, break them or forget them at some restaurant and they'd get thrown away.

At $5.25 this plastic collapsible style is probably more my speed.

Of course the beauty with chopsticks is that they can also take the place of plastic forks so you can avoid using throwaway chopsticks and forks! It may not seem like a big deal but if you eat out enough I'm sure those little utensils add up faster then we realize.

For me it's just one small effort I make to be more earth friendly :)