Archive for January, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

wood burning stove

It’s up and running finally, my brand new contemporary European Pallas Back wood burning stove that I got nearly 2 years ago for half the price on ebay, a score with a few glitches of course. The first stove they shipped arrived damaged with half of the wood crate missing, really? Take two and the second stove arrived intact at our front door. There was then the dilemma of moving this 500lb cast iron beast to sit in storage for over a year, which it did until we were finally ready for it, traveling up our sloping driveway to the road again, through the front door and into the house. It took a few people and a furniture dolly and if that wasn’t enough, try purchasing adapter pieces for a metric European stove when you live in the U.S., a country who’s main system of measurement is still the imperial system. And the photos I’ve seen of this stove model prior to purchasing it were all ones where the stove was set up right against the wall, and me knowing nothing about wood burning stove rules/regulations I soon realized that that’s an impossible scenario, a wood burning stove has to clear the wall by 18″ for fire safety. We also had to address the dude who built the chimney in the first place screwing up the measurements, the stove now needed to be an inch more off of the ground to have it line up right into the wall so yeah, we had to build up the section directly under the stove with some concrete and tile to match too. We figure one day after a good long break from building we’ll attempt to build a stone wall directly behind the stove so the heat can radiate off of that, super efficient.

Fact being, there were too many trips to fireplace shops, different solutions from different salespeople, some advice completely wrong and my words of wisdom after all of this, if you’re not certain get a second opinion. Henning’s Wood Burning Stoves in Vista was great help, and even when their parts did not fit onto our Euro stove they directed us to hit up a sheet metal place that could custom make something to fit and Addison Sheet Metal near the beach in Carlsbad did just that, delivered real quick too, nice! And considering our furnace isn’t running yet and we jumped the gun on moving in, having a wood burning stove to heat up the house now is ideal, it’s so efficient and it doesn’t take much time nor wood for the house to be toasty warm. Good thing we have lots of firewood from the trees we cut down when we first bought the property, that and the scraps from construction should last us for many, many years, sweet!

Monday, January 23, 2012

backyard studio

Moving on up, a long time coming and it’s nice to stretch out and have everything in its place, organization never felt so fabulous and what a reno! We survived and success! Seriously now, what am I gonna do with all this space? It’s not a mega sized house, far from it but after a year and a half of sharing 480sq ft, 4x more space feels like a mansion and I’m certain more cleaning and dusting is a given. And finally the studio will no longer be used as a storage locker, it’s a clean slate again and we can finish it the way we had intended all along. Of course I’ll miss being hidden in the backyard with the birds and coyotes, the rabbits and like it or not the occasional skunk or two as company. Just 2 years ago it was a site of overgrown wild brush the animals had called home, change is imminent in our ‘hood and it’s like the coyotes are clued in on this fact as well, life moving forward and they were howling up a storm the other night.

coyote serenade from dia morris on Vimeo.

Plans to redo the sink counter wall are in the works, more cabinets and a larger countertop with a fridge at the end, its own tiny kitchenette.

A proper patio deck with its own awning we can grow vines off of is another project for us this year.

Our cozy backyard studio strategically placed for all day afternoon sun and pretty sunsets.

Moving out, cleaning up all weekend and whether we knew it or not its like we were keeping in line with the ol’ Chinese Lunar New Year’s tradition/ritual of cleaning your home to expel negative energy or bad luck, making way for good fortune this new year. Check out my mom’s friend’s New Year spread in Winnipeg, the chicken is a little funny, no? Chinese/Vietnamese or not, Happy New Year! Rawr!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Taylor Swift’s new do in the latest issue of Vogue.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Last night..Charlize Theron in Dior Couture and Emma Stone in colorblocked purple and berry Lanvin, so pretty.

People hated on these gowns, I beg to differ, Rooney Mara in Nina Ricci and Jessica Biel in Elie Saab, gorgeous.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Slowly moving into our home this month and whether I like it or not I can see clearly what I’m missing decor wise, dreaming of what I want of course and the reality of what my teeny tiny budget will allow. Inspired nonetheless to slowly get it together. Yes, a home will always be a work in progress, collecting and editing, let the ideas keep rolling and don’t stop with the elbow grease of course. My friend, Ray way back from my high school days, who now lives in beautiful Vancouver, BC recently posted a photo of a lamp he made one day for his wife, sweet.

Cat as decor works and check out Ray’s design and process for That Lisa Lamp, his petagonal sphere, dodecahedron masterpiece.

Crafty fingers indeed and there’s so much you can do yourself, makes me think I can tackle my own possible lamp project. I’m back and forth on this one, I have these ceramic chess vases that I bought on Gilt, I’m thinking they’d be a great base for a lamp, done up with a simple shade for a bedside table, pretty, no? Problem is I just can’t pull myself to drill a hole in them and rig it up lamp style, it’s a little scary, ya think?

Sunday, January 8, 2012


If you’re in the area go check out the photo exhibit, Still Life With Wood at the AR4T Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA  this month. “A collection of work from some of the best men to ever point highly polished glass at a rolling slab of maple.” Opening partay was last night, some cheers with like minded folks and friends, a packed house, nice.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

a concrete countertop and on the other side of the ocean

Another year under our belt and despite my new kitchen not installed yet, no grand dinners at home cause of it, we still managed to have a relaxing holiday with lots of good food and drinks while we worked on the house with pandora radio keeping our ears happy. If you don’t know, it’s a personalized internet radio service site that’s free and it usually gets it right with its suggestions, sometimes it f***s with me though and thinks I must be a jazz fan, that and some random nobody metal band, really? An immediate thumbs down on those selections. Overall pandora’s a great service for music fans (free too) while we work on the house. The guys this week started building a concrete countertop for the downstairs bathroom vanity, hope it works.

This holiday I also caught up on frivolous stuff too like watching the entire season of PBS’s Downton Abbey and Showtime’s The Tudors. I’m a sucker for period dramas and stories, the costumes, the accents, the politics of the day, it always manages to be an all encompassing escape for me from my everyday. It reminds me of the last time I met up with my parents in Laos, it sort of became a long history lesson via film for me as well. Because of how hot it can get during the day it’s normally an early rise and shine for everyone, all our errands and visiting at my family’s textile shop is done first thing in the morning and usually back at home by noon, safe from the blazing afternoon heat. My afternoons then would be spent watching random dvds I’d find over there, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. No theaters around and it’s the only way you get to watch any kind of foreign movie so I’d stock up on all the older period flicks, my history lesson for the day while waiting for the sun to cool down. In a remote city in South East Asia and yet at the same time I’m swept away in the stories of the English countryside, completely opposite ends of the spectrum and just like that though it happens. So yeah, it sucks that my family’s far away and if only the other side of the world was just a short trip away, how nice that’d be, hopefully soon I’ll see everyone again.

Early morning traffic in Vientiane, Laos

Make way for the tuk tuks too.

My cousin, Mali rummaging through all the handwoven silk.

Getting groceries for the day. Vendors selling their fresh produce, farmers markets all along the street everyday all day, supermarkets don’t exist here.

No lack of amazing street food too.

The original Emerald Buddha Temple is in Vientiane. Humble temple grounds, it’s a quiet retreat right in the middle of the city that’s still standing after so many battles and wars, so much history here.

Our mode of transportation in the ‘hood with my mom.

And every night we get pretty sunsets along the Mekong River right behind our house.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

happy new year!

Saucing it up this new year weekend Canadian style! Caesars! Cheers to a grand 2012 everyone!

It’s a fogdog new year’s in Encinitas right now, the marine layer just won’t let up and you know I’m starting this new year drinking lots of water, starting to rid my body of the holiday’s poison with 21 days to a new you, Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean detox, it makes sense and it works, amazing results,  just follow the book.

Or if you want some more of last night’s poison, the unconventional way to cure your hangover, here’s the story. Clamato has always been known to be a Canadian thing so I figure it must be a fairly recent addition on store shelves in the States now, so yeah of course I was happy to come across it this holiday and I’ve been enjoying again what the Clamato site refers to as “Canada’s cocktail.” I remember ordering a “caesar” at the AquaGrill in NYC a few years ago and the waiter gave me that huh? look, like what country bumpkin just rolled into town kinda deal, good thing my husband cleared it up and told him it was a bloody mary. Whatever you want to call it, a caesar/a bloody mary/a red snapper or the Mexican version “sangrita,” no vodka but with a Corona or light beer instead, this has got to be one of my all time favorite cocktails. I’ve always preferred savory over sweet and fruity and this drink is just that. I also tried using the only natural Bloody Mary Mix on the shelf, Mc.Ilhenny Co. Tobasco Brand Tomato Cocktail, 100% juice, no preservatives, no corn syrup and crap. Reluctantly I’ll have to admit it’s just not as tasty though, kinda tomato soup-ish, you’ll have to doctor it up yourself with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime, some cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce and some cholula or tapatio or chipotle hot sauce, it takes a little work to get it right, it can be done though. And if you’re local and too lazy to bother, the bartenders at Robbie’s Roadhouse on the coast highway whip up a very good spicy bloody mary, a good neighborhood spot to meet up for happy hour any day of the week.

The original Bloody Caesar was created in 1969 at Marco’s Italian restaurant at the Calgary Inn (now the Westin Calgary) in Calgary, Alberta by the food and beverage manager, Walter Chell. Inspired from the flavors of spaghetti vongole, he combined sweet (tomato juice), salty (clam nectar), sour (lime), spicy (Worcestershire sauce) and bitter (celery salt) into his new concoction. He named it after the Roman emperor and legend has it that he served one to an Englishman who happily exclaimed “That’s a good bloody Caesar!” Very tasty! Try it.

Bloody Caesar (makes 1 cocktail)

1 oz. Belvedere vodka

4 oz. Clamato Tomato Cocktail

Over ice, add the vodka and Clamato, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, mix and shake well. For added zest, rim the serving glass with salt and pepper or celery salt, garnish with a slice of lime or a celery stick or some large green olives. Voila! Easy!

Bloody Mary/The Red Snapper (makes 1 cocktail)

1 oz. Belvedere vodka

2 oz. tomato juice

1 dash of lime juice

2 dashes salt

2 dashes black or white pepper

2 dashes cayenne pepper

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

a few dashes of chipotle hot sauce to taste

Mix everything together over ice and shake well. For added zest, rim the serving glass with salt and pepper, garnish with a slice of lime.