Archive for the ‘ Favorite Things ’ Category

Favorite Things: Episode Adult Activity Book


I’ll go ahead and get it out of the way: when I say ‘adult activity book’ I’m not referring to ADULT as some weird sex thing, although now that I think about it, that could be pretty interesting. Someone get on that and make it happen. I mean it as an adult ACTIVITY book.

Remember activity books from your youth? Coloring books, puzzle books, general, well, activity books. I was pretty big on Klutz books myself. Remember Klutz? I was all about them. Hell, I recently got the Write in White Doodle Journal to leave on my coffee table for visitors to leave their mark in, in addition to my own doodlin’s.

Anyway, while there’s a cornucopia of activity books for kids, there just aren’t enough for adults. I suppose there’s always This Book Will Change Your Life, which I remember getting in high school, but there were activities that I simply couldn’t do due to financial restraints mostly (see: trip to France). On a recent trip to Monterey, I was browsing through Tesutti Zoo (Fabulous shop) I found this little gem: Finish This Book and my activity book crisis was assuaged.

The gist is this: The creator Keri Smith (since you are supposed to be the author) found some loose pages on a park bench and put them together. First, you must decide if you’re willing to go through with this ’til the end. Obviously the answer is yes since you bought it. The instructions are clear: do the activities in order, don’t share your findings until instructed to do so, and if you can’t complete the tasks, give the book to someone who can. Turn the page. Now you begin on a series of activities to complete your Secret Intelligence Training, followed by documenting and observation methods, and then artifact examination techniques. Once your education is complete, it’s time to take on the instruction manual and finish this book (hey, that’s the title!)

I love the concept (who didn’t play spies as a kid? Or as an adult? Hey, don’t tell me you don’t pretend you’re training to join the ranks of Assassins Creed when you’re working out at the gym and letting your mind wander. No? So it’s just me then? Well… I guess I have a lot to talk to a therapist about. Carry on then) and that the activities are very doable. Hey, I don’t have to book a trip to France! Not that I wouldn’t mind going to France, I just don’t want that as a road block in order to reach the end of this thing.

In sum I’ll leave it at this (as I don’t wish to give to much away, and as it is a book you do, our experiences will be wildly different anyway): If you believe that growing older and growing up aren’t mutually exclusive, and that imagination and adventure make life worth living, this book is for you. It’s certainly for me, and the people whom I’ve recommended it to seem to be enjoying it as well.

I’ll end this with a quote off the dedication page, as I like it immensely:

This book is dedicated to all explorers and future explorers of the world.



Favorite Things: Episode Coffee



Awhile ago I came across this arts and crafts project where you decorate some ceramic with permanent marker and bake it thereby creating personalized dishes. At the time I was living in Korea, the land of no ovens, and I had to put that on the back burner where I promptly forgot about it.

Fast  forward to my American homecoming. I was getting coffee at the Starbucks in my grocery store and saw that they offered a black ceramic cup with a white ceramic pen (pictured above) and I remembered that it was something I wanted to do. I picked it up since I liked the idea of inverse color scheme and decided to make myself a Fallout Vault-Tec mug featuring the energy weapons Pip Boy. Turned out great, and is my favorite cup! I plan to revisit the Sharpie project and run some experiments with that in the near future.

Favorite Things: Literal Easter Candy


I had bought a Fred & Friends Gin & Titonic ice cube tray at a wacky accoutrements shop a bit ago, and since a friend of mine was in love with them and a birthday coming up, I fancied I knew what my gift would be. I found the company has a wide variety of ridiculous ice cube trays, and the Moai pictured above caught my eye. I had to have them. I noticed most of the reviewers on Amazon recommended them for candy molds, and I thought I would take the challenge. In short, it works wonderfully for molding both ice and chocolates, and I plan to make a bunch to give to friends fir Easter. I also intend to use the Titanic and iceberg ones for the same purpose for the anniversary of the Titanic sinking on April 14th. Keeping the dream alive for the White Star company.

Favorite Things: Paprika Hendle

I first read Dracula in seventh grade. Back then, it was good, but not great (I hadn’t fully developed my literary tastes then. Why, just a few years prior I thought Goosebumps was the height of literature). Back then I felt it suffered from something a lot of classic source material does: It had been done so much by other people who either improved, elaborated, or just plain gotten wrong. It felt derivative even though it was the original. Know what I mean? Anyway, I gave it another go my senior year of high school and loved it immensely. I’ve read it every year since then (nearly a decade) every October. It gets better every time I read it, and I’m always finding some little detail that just adds to it that I hadn’t seen before.

I love that book.
Anyway, several years ago during my annual reading I went online to investigate the Paprika Hendle that Mr. Harker spoke so fondly of in his May 3rd journal entry while traveling through Hungary. This was the original recipe I found and tried. It was amazing, and became one of my top dishes. I’ve made it every Halloween (seemed fitting) for the last six years.

Making it right now as I write this. To me it seems perfect for fall and winter. It’s a very hearty and flavorful dish.

This last September I traveled through Budapest and had the opportunity to try it in its native environment.

Favorite Things: Wine Vending Machines


What you see above is a wine vending machine.

I’ll let that sink in.




It’s good to be back in California.

The above is from Avant, the Tapas and wine bar in Buellton on the 101. Your table gets a card, and you stick it in the slot and select you wine and seize (2, 4, 6oz), and it tally’s it up to pay at the end. It’s like a slot machine where you win every time.

It’s good to be home.

So I Decided TO Get A Dragon Suit

So I decided to get a dragon suit.

Bare with me while I explain. Or should I say, BEAR with me while I explain.

See what I did there? It’s a pun. See, because the two spellings mean different things, right? The latter being an animal.

Moving forward:

Kigurumi, which actually describes all character dress, is also a style of Japanese pajamas in the form of an animal. Basically a onesie for adults. However in Asia, where everything is so fucking cute you could vomit, it’s not uncommon to see them on the streets for special occasions. Musicians on stage, friends bar hopping for a birthday, or pretty much everyone who goes snowboarding.

Anyway, I regret not getting one in Korea when everyone else I knew had one. Would have been nice to hit the town dressed in a dinosaur suit.

Now here’s the thing, Halloween is just around the corner and I’m too old (26) and too over it to keep in line with female trend of every costume being sexy. Last year I donned a pork pie hat, sunglasses, a trench coat, and a massive false mustache. I carried a briefcase, spoke in a Russian accent, and assured people that I was not a Soviet spy (spoiler alert: I was). It was probably one of the finest costumes I’ve ever done (Number two being the group one I did where ten of us got in on replicating Legends of the Hidden Temple. Blue Barracudas for life!!).

I want to be comfortable when I drink and go dancing this year. That’s how I roll, you see. Then I remembered that you can get anything on the internet.

It was a toss up between the owl and the kangaroo:


PRO: The color is more my speed. And wings!

CON: The number of hooter jokes I’d be subjected to.


PRO: Exterior pocket and joey.

CON: That 3am glare into the mirror when I spook myself by reminding myself of that dog (aardvark ?)or whatever it was from The Shining that used to scare the shit out of me when I was a kid.

I carefully weighed my options, but I was getting nowhere. Then, just when I was leaning towards the kangaroo so I could stash bar snacks in the pocket, I found the dragon.

PRO: Dragons are fucking sweet.

CON: I’ll have Sisqo’s Unleash The Dragon in my head all night, but I suspect I could spin that in my favor. Young people love ironic shit!

So there it is. I got Halloween and future ski/snowboard trips covered.

Good job, innernet!

Favorite Things: Museums (London Edition)

I like museums. A lot. Yesterday I arrived and London, and by the time I checked into my hotel, I didn’t have much time, but I went to the Natural History museum.


In sum:

They have a pair of Dodo specimens! Worth it for that alone, but the rest of the exhibits were pretty fantastic too, particularly the dinosaurs.

I have a thing for dinosaurs.

This morning I started at the British Museum.

First thing was first: The Rosetta Stone.

The exhibits were comprised of artifacts from pretty much every civilization imaginable. It’s kind of interesting seeing such a collection now that I’ve seen a great deal of the real places. Somehow the entire morning slipped away and it became afternoon.

But enough time to hop on the tube and go to the National Gallery.

From the front you could get a scenic view of Big Ben in the background. The gallery itself was extensive and showcased an example of pretty much all the masters.