Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cutest Dog Ever Sea Otter Halloween Costume!

View 7 years of costumes at Kitai's (pronounced Key-tie) website www.CutestDogEver.com

This year Kitai is a Monterey Bay Sea Otter. Most of him is the Monterey Bay but his tail is the Otter's tail so it makes him both :)

I make sure he can sit and lie down in his costumes because comfort is key to him being a good sport and dressing up once a year.

A side view

That's Kitai's tail!

A little smile?

Being a good sport and loving treats is why Kitai is willing to wear a costume each year. On a normal day he gets two treats. During his annual costume fittings and photo shoot he gets around 15-18 treats per day. Yeah, he's all in for that!

Each year I try to think up not the best dog costume ever, but the funniest dog costume I can think of that hasn't been done before. I'll rack my brain then when I think I have a great idea I'll go to Google images and see if anyone has posted any photos of my idea before. If there are none (or maybe one) I'll move forward with the concept and begin sourcing the materials I'll need to create it. Sometimes it's easy, other times very challenging.

It was Hubby's idea to have the otter hold an Otter Pop! Brilliant!

The fish, seaweed and ocean were all made of felt.

My Inspiration came from a trip to Monterey earlier in the month where I saw two sea otters right there in the water. Sadly my camera lens wasn't strong enough to catch them so far off from shore but they were out there.

Two days after the idea hit me I was in San Francisco and went to Britex Fabrics in Union Square on Geary St. If you like to sew and have never been to Britex be sure to take a peek the next time you're in town. You'll love it! The first brown otter fur I saw was perfect. I had told the woman helping me that I was shopping for my dog's Halloween costume so she said "You don't want that one." I asked "How much?" She said "$170.00 per yard." The next one I liked was $145.00 per yard. She said "You want this one." I asked "How much?" She replied "$29.00" per yard." She was right! I only needed a third of a yard so it wasn't very expensive.

The second fur is what I used to make the otter's face. I thought the third fur (also purchased at Britex) would be perfect but it was too long.

The fourth fabric was brown vinyl which was conveniently available at Britex. All in all it wasn't too bad sourcing my components. Two trips to local fabric stores for the blue ocean felt and the face fur and picking up the plastic eyes were all I needed. The green and white felt I had leftover from previous costumes. And we had Otter Pops at home.

This is how I made the otter. I used some red felt to pin together a pattern cutting and shaping each element before cutting it out of the fur.

The head was very tricky. It took two tries before I figured out to just make it like a beach ball using panels.

Once I had the overall design pieced together in felt I took it all apart and laid each piece on the fur, outlining each shape with a white pencil you can purchase at a sewing shop.

That's what it took to make a sea otter. The thing is this costume took several more days to make than all of his other costumes which I usually begin working on the day before Halloween and finish on Halloween night. I knew this would be trickier so I started a few weeks ahead in case I needed to consult with some designer friends for sewing and pattern making tips. It all worked out in the end though and I'm already trying to decide what Kitai will be next Howloween. I already have a few ideas....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Blissful Wishes Ball • San Francisco, CA

Please join me in attending The Blissful Wishes Ball
A Gala Celebration to Benefit Wish Upon a Wedding
The Julia Morgan Ballroom, San Francisco,CA
November 10, 2010 from 6:00 - 11:00 PM

This event is black tie optional, and includes an open bar, silent and live auctions, a three course dinner by some of San Francisco's finest caterers, great entertainment and an awards ceremony (for which I'm a nominee).

Wish Upon a Wedding is the world's first nonprofit wish granting organization that provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness or other serious life-altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation.

Whether you are a bride or groom to be, a wedding industry professional, or you simply love the concept behind their mission... YOU can help make Wedding Wishes come true, while raising crucial funding needed to sustain this wonderful, new, nonprofit organization.

aec marin, DJ Lebowitz, Chicago, Steve Barkley

Hors d'oeuvres
  • Seared Scallop Lollipops on bamboo skewers in a meyer lemon zabaglione garnished with snips of chive
  • A Duxelle of Chanterelle, Portobello and Shiitake Mushrooms, scented with cognac, served on toasts of brioch
  • Butternut Squash Soup scented with apple & ginger served in a soup sipper cup
  • Soft Tacos filled with Pork Carnitas, topped with a salsa of tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, onions & limes, a ripe avocado guacamole, slices of radishes, a dusting of fresh cilantro
  • Artisan lettuces with beet confetti, peppered quark and cider dressing
Main Entree
  • Confited leg of Sonoma Duck with savory bread pudding,  sautéed pea tendrils, dried cherry and grainy mustard scented poultry glaze.
Vegetarian Option
  • Butternut Squash Risotto creamy carnaroli rice with roasted squash, braised lacinato kale and aged balsamic vinegar.
  • Fall Harvest Trio: Petit Apple Tart with cinnamon ice cream, Port Wine Flan with pear butter and roqueford crisp and Chestnut-Plum Beignet with chocolate cream

Top Gun Fighter Pilot Package
The Emmys plus Ritz Carlton Package
Trip for 2 to Hawaii
Rolling Stones signed Electric Guitar

Check out the auction online for many other exciting items, such as dinners in top-rated restaurants, entertainment, sporting events and popular autographed memorabilia. Every cent earned goes towards Wish Upon a Wedding and their mission to provide these heartfelt Wedding Wishes.

The Shining Star Award

The Wish Upon a Wedding Shining Star Award recognizes and honors the most inspirational, motivational, and giving wedding & hospitality industry professionals in each chapter's local area. Wish Upon a Wedding recognizes the valuable contributions these individuals are making in our community and hopes to encourage more people to get involved in their own communities. This is our way to thank and pay tribute to those professionals who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service.

The Northern CA board of Directors selected Stacie Tamaki (Hey that's me!), Rich Amooi, and Gustavo Fernandez as the three nominees for this esteemed award. They will all be honored and recognized at the upcoming Blissful Wishes Ball Gala on November the 10th in San Francisco. One of the three nominees will take home the Shining Star Award.

SPONSORS of the Blissful Wishes Ball
Julia Morgan Ballroom, Hartmann Studio, La Bocca Fina, Joshua Charles, 9 Catering, Today's Bride, La Tavola Linen, Sasha Souza Events, Flaxx Floral Design, The Laugh Box, Damion Hamilton Photographer, Orbie Pullen Photography

About Wish Upon a Wedding

Founded in January of 2010 by CA wedding planner, Liz Guthrie of San Jose Wedding Consultants, Wish Upon a Wedding was created to help couples who did not have the time, money, resources or strength to plan a wedding on their own, because of terminal illness or other serious life-altering circumstances. The organization now celebrates the courage, determination and spirit of these couples by granting their dream wedding wishes. It is their goal that chosen recipients can inspire other couples facing similar situations to find hope and strength, while raising awareness for terminal illness.

Growing up with a sister who was deaf since birth, and raised by parents who ran a board and care home for people facing numerous disabilities and life hardships, Liz learned early on to value the many blessings in life, and the importance of helping others. Volunteering throughout her life for a variety of nonprofit organizations, Liz was looking for a way to combine weddings and community service.

After producing the San Francisco Dream Wedding Giveaway in 2009, a contest in which only one couple would be granted a dream wedding, Liz came up with a way to merge her two passions. While going through the process of giving the wedding "prize" to a woman suffering from stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Liz created Wish Upon a Wedding. Overnight, Liz decided to change wedding history, and the way we give, by launching a nonprofit organization that was totally unique and had never existed before.

Supported by industry leaders such as Sasha Souza, David Beahm, Stella Inserra, Jenny Orsini, Kevin Covey, Stacie Francombe, Sylvia Weinstock, Steve Kemble, Mindy Weiss, Mary Dann, and Ivy Robinson (to name just a few), the organization has experienced rapid growth and seen voracious acceptance throughout the country.

To date, eight couples have benefited from the generous work of Wish Upon a Wedding. Over 4,000 volunteers have signed up to become Wish Granters. Their facebook page has attracted over 10,000 fans.

None of this would be possible without public support.

If you are interested in learning more about Wish Upon a Wedding Click Here.

If you would like to purchase a ticket to attend the Blissful Wishes Ball to support this great organization, see the evening's menu or would like to make a small or large donation please CLICK HERE.

In the Presence of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama

Watch the presentation I saw courtesy of the Community Media Center.

If you were to ask me which celebrity or public figure did I hope to meet or see perform/speak in person some day? The Dalai Lama would have been at the top of my list. Recently that hope was realized when I was invited to attend a private presentation he had requested to have with students from the Ravenswood school district in East Palo Alto, CA. The district itself is comprised 7 schools that include kindergarden through grade 8, and predominately children of ethnic minority groups: Hispanic 70%, Black/African American 20%, Pacific Islander 9% and Other 1%. There were approximately 400 8th grade students in attendance from schools throughout the district.  Ten were chosen from an essay contest, and were able to ask The Dalai Lama a single question.

His Arrival

When I posted these photos on Facebook someone asked some basic questions about The Dalai Lama that I thought I'd share with you here in case any of you were wondering the same things:

Is "The Dalai Lama" his real name? No. It is Tenzin Gyatso

What does "Lama" mean? Lama means he is a teacher of Buddhism

What makes him Holy? He is believed to be a reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lamas the first of whom was a human incarnation of a bodhisattva (an enlightened existance)

What religion is he associated with? Buddhism

Have there been many Dalai Lamas before him? He is the 14th Dalai Lama

What methods have been employed to confirm his holiness? He was found by a special search party and recognized objects that belonged to the previous Dalai Lama claiming they were his.

His manner was calm, affable and he laughed heartily and often.

The students asked questions about his childhood in Tibet, why was he (as a child) chosen to lead his country and religion? How does he cheer himself up when he feels sad? Is world peace possible? And what would he do differently, did he have a biggest regret? Most of his answers centered on compassion, affection, peacefulness, responsibility and education. The Dalai Lama said several times to the students "The choice is yours" and "The responsibility is yours" to go out and create a more peaceful world. To choose compassion and education over violence and being self centered.

He said believers and non-believers share the same seed of human compassion and with inner peace, general peace in the world is possible.

From his perspective, while innovation, science and technology were part of the greatness of the last century, what were our worst faults? Violence caused by a lack of a genuine desire for peace. We need to show more affection to each other and our children so they in turn can grow up to be confident and peaceful adults. 

He said sometimes we sacrifice fundamental values for nationality and religion. That he said, is a mistake. Discrimination is backwards thinking and that if we think of all people as our brothers and sisters and reach out to them with a truly open heart, 99% of humans will respond to genuine openness.

The reason I was lucky enough to attend? John Woods and his team at Enhanced Lighting transformed the gymnasium by sponsoring the purple draping, stage lighting, projectors, projection screens and the sound system that enabled everyone in the room to enjoy the presentation. In return he was given a few tickets one of which he offered to me. Thanks so much to John and Megan, owners of Enhanced Lighting. Truly it was a dream come true.

The students presented The Dalai Lama with a gift and he posed for a group photo with them before departing. Personally I left feeling inspired.

The wish for peace is something I have long hoped for in my own life, in the lives of my friends and loved ones and for the entire world. This experience is bringing me back to asking myself what is really important? What are my priorities? How much compassion do I have? How much altruism and empathy do I share with the people around me? Do I allow myself to get caught up in feelings and actions that work against peace? Peacefulness in my own life? Peacefulness in the world? I do. But I don't have to. I can choose peace and acceptance of myself and others. Perhaps sometimes the best thing to do is to simply recognize when a situation brings out my worst nature instead of my best and to choose differently. It's being aware of myself and how I impact the world. As he said, it's my choice. And it's your choice too.

The media was there in full force.

And here is a great article about the visit by Chris Kenrick of the Palo Alto News Online: CLICK HERE

This is one of my favorite books I've read about Tibetan Buddhism. If you're interested in learning more you might want to pick up a copy of Awakening to the Sacred by Lama Surya Das.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Canceled Book Signing = Good Food and New Friends

Last night was supposed to be an exciting night. My friend Carl Mindling and I were going to attend a book lecture and signing by John Robbins, author of "The Food Revolution" and "Diet for a New America." So, imagine our disappointment when an hour and ten minutes before we needed to arrive at the venue, I received a call informing me the event had been canceled. Mr. Robbins wasn't feeling well. I hope he is feeling better today.
I just took this echinacea picture on Sunday. Because it's a healing plant I think it's very appropriate to use on a get well card.

Carl had just arrived on my doorstep after driving over the hill from Santa Cruz so we decided to make the best of the situation and headed over to the Naglee Park Garage for a nice, leisurely dinner.

I had the "Carrot Salad" with apple, almonds, raisins and sweet potatoes in lemon dressing. It was really tasty! I'd definitely order this again.

Next up were Brussels sprouts. The menu only says "Brussels Sprouts" but they come loaded with chunks of bacon. We simply requested no bacon. The sprouts were delicious! Tender and cooked all the way through which seems like a given but so often I've had them where they're still raw and tough in the center.

The "Sweet Potato Fries" weren't really like fries at all but more like chunky wedges of oven roasted, white, sweet potatoes. Nom, nom, nom!

Carl ordered the "Veggie Burger" w/ portobello, tomato, spinach, caramelized onion & swiss cheese on onion poppy seed bun & home fries. OK, so initially I ordered the same thing but without the mushroom since I don't like mushrooms only to be informed that the mushroom was the burger. I thought there was a veggie patty with strips of mushroom so don't be confused when you read the menu.

And for dessert "Vanilla Bread Pudding" with whip cream & pecans. It was so good. Sadly, we forgot to take a picture before we ate the whole thing. If you'd like to see a pic CLICK HERE for my previous post about the Naglee Park Garage.

Next we headed over to Safeway because Carl needed to pick up some canned pumpkin and chocolate chips for some future baking taking place at his house. Since we weren't in a rush we walked up and down each aisle and he pointed out favorite brands and ingredients. I'm trying out his favorite RAO'S pasta sauce and he's going to send me a recipe for a delicious, vegetarian, hominy soup made with his favorite organic vegetable broth.

Our final stop, just around the corner from Safeway, was the venue of the canceled event. We hopped out of the car to take this quick picture of Carl looking sad. Security was eyeballing us from inside so we jumped back in the car and took off.

We got to the intersection when I realized that we forgot to have Carl hold one of John Robbins' books he'd brought with him to be signed. LOL so when the light turned green we made a u-turn and headed back for one more picture....

We had just taken this new picture of Carl with his book and were getting back into his car when he struck up a conversation with a couple who had just exited the building. We commiserated over our disappointment that the event was canceled.

Turns out Brennan and Michael had driven all the way down to San Jose from Berkeley, which is about an hour away. They were so sad.

But then we all became friends right there in the parking so they were happy!

Using the soft glow of a landscaping light Carl was showing them that one of the books he brought with him still had the receipt in it because he'd used it as a bookmark. He'd bought it in 1991! We were all impressed.

As we chatted with Michael (combined with what I found on Google last night when I got home) I learned that as the visionary, Associate Producer and Bay Area Coordinator, he was the driving force in creating and continues to promote Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days. The movie features 6 people who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes, used insulin, had no familiarity with the raw food movement and all had diets that consisted of a lot of fast food. After 30 days of going raw with no meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, soda, junk food, fast food, processed food, packaged food, and even cooked food for 30 days many were able to stop taking their Diabetes medications (including insulin) and all lost at least 20 lbs. They all completed the experience healthier both physically and mentally.

As we talked in the dark we learned that Michael's company, Environ-Mental Productions, is focused on making films that address and combine issues like sustainable agriculture, healthy living and environmental concerns. So right there in the parking lot he treated us to his first ever parking lot screening of the trailer to "Simply Raw."

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie in it's entirety. As I said to Michael last night, it seems kind of like "The Biggest Loser" reality tv show but much more doable for the average person.

Even if you don't go 100% raw as the participants did in the movie, simply integrating more healthful foods (dish by dish or meal by meal) will help stop the progression of diet related diseases and conditions and can move us in a new direction towards better health.

You can watch the "Simply Raw" trailer embedded above.

Last night I posted on Facebook:
"Every now and then disappointment turns into a wonderful adventure. Tonight was one of those nights :)"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My New Favorite Font: Chocolate Chip

Thank you to our friend Patricia who makes the yummiest cookies and made us this GIANT chocolate chip cookie to celebrate our anniversary. LOL when our friend Jon, who was sitting next to me at dinner last night, saw it he named the font "Chocolate Chip." It's my new favorite font. The cookie smells amazing! I haven't sampled it yet. Hubby wanted to eat it last night but I told him we had to wait to eat it so that I could get a nice, natural light photo of it today. The sacrifices we make for my blog. Ha ha. But I think you'll agree the cookie wouldn't have looked the same in today's photo if it said "HAP 3rd NIV".

Saturday, October 23, 2010

During the Wedding Ceremony 101

This is a pet peeve of mine. When it comes to formal portraits everyone looks at the camera and smiles.

Everyone looks great!

But during the vows, it can be harder to stay focused. Your mind starts to wander, soon your eyes do too. Next thing you know you're checking out the audience, the decor, the lighting or looking out a window. You may be thinking nobody will notice because they're looking at the bride and groom. You may be right. Well, almost right. There are two people who may catch your distracted gaze and they will capture it forever: They would be the wedding photographer and videographer.

To me it's really a shame when you watch a wedding video and instead of the bridesmaids and groomsmen watching the bride and groom, they're looking everywhere else but at the couple they are standing up for. If you can smile or at the very least watch the bride and groom you will look great in any video shots or photos you happen to be in. It just makes me sad when I see what could have been a really great photo or video moment but the the people in the background are looking the wrong way, making funny faces or just aren't "in" the moment.

The same goes for guests during toasts. If you're sitting behind the bride and groom there's a good chance you'll be in the background of photos and videos. You really don't want to be looking bored or the wrong direction every time the camera is on you. It will be a disappointment to your bride and groom when they see how uninterested you were and may be twice as disappointing that your boredom was captured and will be seen each time they look at their wedding album or video :(

Another great tip videographer Joe Oliverio mentioned to me was to also remind the wedding party to refrain from chewing gum or tobacco.

So a smile, no gum or chewing tobacco and your full attention. They're small things that can make a big difference on and after the couple's big day every time they look at their photos or watch their wedding video!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Race Does Matter

I spent my childhood being taught that race doesn't matter and my entire adult life (up until 2009) believing that it doesn't. Believing that "seeing" people only as a color or race was somehow equivalent to discriminating. But when it comes to bone marrow and stem cell transplants, race does matter. More specifically there are certain HLA markers in our DNA that determine whether or not our marrow can be a match for a patient in need of a transplant to save their life. And these matching markers are usually found within ethnic groups.

Since 70% of the thousands of patients in need of a transplant won't find their matches within their immediate family, being willing to donate to a stranger in need also matters. Caucasian patients have an 85% chance of finding an anonymous match in the registry while minority ethnic groups have less than a 30% chance. So race matters. More people from every minority ethnic group and people who are of mixed ethnic groups are desperately needed to join the donor program. Because of the rigorous transplant and recovery process most transplant recipients are children and young adults. To see them lose their lives when they are just getting started is heart breaking.

Nick Glasgow was only 28 years old when he passed away.

The one year anniversary of Nick Glasgow passing away is approaching. After facing almost impossible odds of finding a match in the National Marrow Donor Program registry, because he was part Caucasian and part Japanese, Nick and his family and friends launched one of the largest and most successful donor drives I have personally witnessed. They found Nick not one but two perfect 10/10 matches. Sadly, the cancer was too strong and reoccurred, the transplant failed and Nick succumbed to the Leukemia leaving his family and friends far too soon. He was only 28 years old :(

His family and friends have continued to honor his legacy by doing their best to enlist more donors into the Be The Match registry. They are particularly interested in asking people of mixed ethnicities as people of all mixed ethnicities are severely under represented in the donor registry. If you would like to become a potential donor there are many donor drives that take place around the Bay Area each week.

To find a drive nationwide please CLICK HERE to visit Be The Match.org

This weekend you can register to become a Life Saving Stem Cell-Bone Marrow Donor at the Great Mall in Milpitas, CA

Saturday, October 23, 2010
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
447 Great Mall Drive
Milpitas CA 95035
The drive will be located at the 4b entrance at the mouth of cut-through near the food court.

To view more details about any of the following Bay Area drives hosted by the AADP CLICK HERE

October 22 2010 Skyline College, San Bruno
October 23 2010 Great Mall, Milpitas
October 23 2010 Chinese Software Professional Association, SJ (PRIVATE)
October 24 2010 San Jose Gurdwara, San Jose
October 24 2010 Navratri Hungama
October 24 2010 Dia de los Muertos Festival, Oakland
October 26 2010 Smart Modular, Newark (PRIVATE)
October 26 2010 UC Berkeley, day 1, Berkeley
October 27 2010 UC Berkeley, day 2, Berkeley
October 27 2010 Boston Scientific Corp.,San Jose
October 28 2010 UC Berkeley, day 3, Berkeley
October 29 2010 Japanese Community Youth Council Halloween Party, SF
October 30 2010 Mexican Neighborhood Shopping Center, San Mateo
October 30 2010 Cumberland Daly City Church, Daly City
October 30 2010 Mexican Neighborhood Shopping Center, San Mateo
October 30 2010 People’s Baptist Church Health Fair, Oakland
October 31 2010 Tzu Chi winter health fair, San Jose
November 02 2010 De Anza College, day 1, Cupertino
November 03 2010 De Anza College, day 2, Cupertino
November 04 2010 De Anza College, day 3, Cupertino
November 05 2010 Milpitas Police Department
November 07 2010 Presbyterian Church, SF
November 08 2010 CCSF, day 1, SF
November 09 2010 CCSF, day 2, SF
November 12 2010 Milpitas Police Dept, Milpitas (Open to public)
November 15 2010 AT&T, San Ramon (PRIVATE)
November 15 2010 AT&T, Pleasanton (PRIVATE)
November 16 2010 Stanford University, day 1, Palo Alto
November 17 2010 Stanford University, day 2, Palo Alto
November 30 2010 Santa Clara Valley Water District, San Jose
December 05 2010 St. Elizabeth Catholic, Oakland
December 27 2010 West Coast Chinese Christian Conference
December 28 2010 West Coast Chinese Christian Conference