KoJa Dinner Party

Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good meal. I'm alllls about the eating part, but occasionally, the experience of home cooking is also satisfying to me. These days, Jason cooks dinner most of the time at our house, but a few times a year I'll find an excuse to cook for a small or large group. A holiday, a birthday, a long-time-no-see-you-day, I always feel a burst of energy when I take the reins and design a menu and shop for ingredients.

Feeding a group of people who truly know how to appreciate food is satisfying to me, but also strangely motivating. Like, I want to push myself to the limit to meet and exceed their tastes. Most of the time, I try out a new recipe. Even if I'm making it for the very first time, I feel confident in the kitchen when I'm excited about a dish. Other times, I'll make a rendition of a dish I'm already familiar with (although I admit those tests don't always turn out so well).

One time, we had a foodie/photographer friend spending the night. I'd missed her birthday so I wanted to treat her to dinner. I asked her, "what do you feel like?" and she requested, "asian", and to that I laughed and said, "challenge accepted". I invited over my sister and her husband, as well, thinking they might enjoy a home cooked meal. This dinner was my play on the concept of 'kaiseki', a multi-course Japanese meal. But instead of going hella fancy, I went for a full on comfort food menu and added a Korean-influenced twist, as a nod to my husband's culture. It turned out pretty well, but next time, I'd want to incorporate more Korean ingredients and technique (e.g. pickling) to make the fusion more obvious. 

 

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toshikoshi matcha soba - a warm noodle broth, traditionally served as the first meal in the new year, made with a fish base that is popular in Korean stews, and topped with a tempura shrimp

hiyayakko + miso saba duo with kimchee - a hot & cold duo with a kick

pickled cucumber with gochujang dip - cold, crunchy and spicy

green bean shirae -  a cool side dish with a textural sesame paste

seafood pajeon - a savory pancake (store bought!)

chicken katsu - hot and crispy, drizzled with tonkatsu sauce served on a bed of japanese cabbage

bulgogi nikujagu - a potato stew, with Korean-style marinated sliced beef instead of pork

ochazuke - salmon over rice with Korean barley tea

olive oil cake and coffee jello - a dessert my mom used to serve at her restaurant, where I first learned to appreciate a good meal

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Photo credit to Marita Madeloni, the aforementioned birthday girl

Glossier Branding + Self Care

Seriously THE BEST branding and copywriting I've seen. No joke. Love it. Ugh. Who said they could change my life. I ordered their starter pack and their packaging is en pointe. It even came with a small poster and a freak'n' sticker pack. Talk about accessing my little prepubescent collector nerd self.

Oh and the Glossier products are pretty good too. Now that I'm 30 I decided to shape up and act like an adult woman who loves herself and has a beauty regimen. I like to think I'm natural and a minimalist, but I think I just need to care more. I've been terrible about applying sunscreen / moisturizer my whole life, and my daily routine hasn't changed for 8 years. I'll do the basic eyeliner, mascara and blush, and sometimes I'll wash my face. Nice. 

Now, I'm changing how I view "beauty". Instead of something superficial and reaching, I approach adorning my body with joy and taking care of my outer self as a way of honoring my soul's expression. So, this Glossier starter kit includes a gloss, mist, and lotion that I now use regularly. Every other week I use this Korean clay bubble mask that feels super weird but I like it. I Adele my nails. Shower every once in a while. I don't know if it makes a difference really, I'm certainly not seeing any Benji Button effects, but I know and trust that there is something sacred in the ritual of self-love and self-care. 

Playing with Ink

Jason's been participating in Inktober (one ink drawing a day for the month of October) so it inspired me to do a little play of my own. I pulled out this big ol' surface from behind the couch that I prepped over a year ago, put on headphones and went for it with zero plans. Layering, pooling, dropping, speeding with the sun and holding hands with it. What I ended up with I'm not entirely happy about as a cohesive piece, but close up there's some interesting isolated moments on different parts of the canvas. I might even cut this down into four different paintings, cause why not?

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A Crystallic Study

Page from the ol' sketchbook that I turned into a pattern. Submitted it to a project but it unfortunately didn't get selected. What should I do with it now? 

A Collaborative Effort III

The Collective Laboratory is a project that I started with some design colleagues of mine during my senior year of college. We recognized a desire for more collaboration within the design program and took initiative to create a place for people to explore that. For the rest of the year we organized weekly workshops in my living room and coordinated public events to promote for an end of the year collaborative exhibition.

We talked to people, recruited members, generated excitement about your own work. We had a t-shirt competition and Semar taught us all how to hand screen print the winning designs over two afternoons in the textiles lab on campus. We took part in the annual Picnic Day event and held an live screen printing demo for the public, giving away free posters that advertised the show. We signed up in shifts to sell our shirts during school to raise money for the show. We printed posters with Clayton's A4 printer and hung them all over campus. Ivan and Angie designed a poster that eventually became our logo. Mitzi connected us with the school paper to get interviewed twice. We met at my house every Wednesday with drinks and food and [minimal] space to work on our pieces for the show. Eventually our evenings of good times doubled to twice a week in preparation for the show. With no project management experience under my belt and many trial and error moments, I learned so much about leadership, teamwork, timing, resources and people. That time of my life was so rich and good. 

The article below is a feature on the third installment of the Co/Lab Show led by people who picked up the torch after I graduated college. Having people keep the fire burning was probably the most unexpected and inspiring part of that project. My peers and I were on to something at that time. And still to this day, I find myself looking for that feeling in my career and in my daily life. The desire for collaboration and community is human.

In the article, I mention personal potential. I think that the most powerful thing about being a part of a community is the resources that are available to you and that how you choose to utilize them is completely up to you. In a community you create relationships with others, and yourself. Standing next to one another you realize how tall you are, how loud you are, how brave you are, how talented you are. Among others you learn about your strengths and your weaknesses and you learn to accept them and work on them. In that setting, it's your potential that is realized, met, and raised.

A Collaborative Effort: Co/Lab show opens today in the Art Lounge


Written by LAURA KROEGER
Published May 28, 2009

If you've got that urge to create, you have more options for expression than those art studio classes that you can't really fit in your schedule.

Co/Lab is a loosely organized club made up of mostly UC Davis students whose mission is simple: to create art in a fun, collaborative way.

Works from the Co/Lab will be on display today through June 12 in the Art Lounge, located on the second floor of the Memorial Union. A reception will be held today at 5 p.m. in the Art Lounge.

The exhibit will cover a broad range of topics and media, inspired by collaborative ideas from Co/Lab members.

"The whole idea behind it was to get art students and design students together," said senior design major and club organizer Devin Croda.

He added that Co/Lab is designed to bridge two similar departments that often operate separately, though students from all majors and disciplines are welcome to contribute.

The organization began two years ago by UC Davis alumna Milan Phan, a design student who graduated in 2007. Tired of design projects restricted to individual work, Phan collected a group of friends in November 2006 and brainstormed the concept of Co/Lab into existence.

"It's interesting to see people take the initiative and get together with their own peers," said Phan, who was inspired by many peer-driven art shows in the area.

Co/Lab, which is short for collective laboratory, keeps one rule sacred: members can create whatever they want, as long as they create with another person. The group's intention is summed up by their motto "two heads are better than one."

Though Phan has graduated, undergraduates have stepped up each year to sustain the organization.

"The focus [is] on collaborating with all different types of people from different backgrounds and what comes out of that," Croda said.

"It's basically just a group of people getting together to do art - and it can be anyone," said Kyle Scollin, a senior graphic design major and organizer for Co/Lab.

Scollin added that Co/Lab is a non-judgmental space to explore creativity.

"As long as people are excited about [their art], I'm excited about it," he said.

Scollin and Croda organized the show in the Art Lounge, but they allowed each Co/Lab member to create and contribute their work on their own. In fact, setting up for the show was the first time the two had seen some of the artwork.

Some Co/Lab members created a miniature cardboard city, said to "come alive" with the help of a projector, Scollin said. Other members created pieces of trash art.

Also featured in the exhibit will be a photo project in which participating members took a picture every hour and documented the progression of their day.

Phan pointed out one of the most useful and unique aspects of Co/Lab. By standing next to another talented individual, you discover your own strengths and weaknesses and learn how to work with both, she said.

"You recognize your own potential when you work with other people," Phan said.

Co/Lab holds workshops on most Thursdays at Scollin's house. For information on how to get involved, contact Scollin at kscollin@gmail.com.
 

Cabo San Lucas

My first time to Mexico couldn't have been any better. J and I flew to Cabo for a destination wedding—along with 30 other of our close college friends. I can't explain how cool it is to travel with friends to a new place. These are the friends we saw all the time in college over a decade ago. Wherever we went in Cabo, we saw friends as if we were neighbors living in paradise after all these years. We all used to work together at a restaurant, or were in the same fraternity, or were girlfriends or roommates of another...whatever connection that was then is still bond today and it was so special to time-travel back to easier, freer times.

We stayed at an all-inclusive resort called Fiesta Americana Grand. As an all-inclusive virgin, I was totally impressed! We could not get that level of service and quality of food at an all-inclusive here in the states. We ate at a different restaurant every night, ordered room service for breakfast and late night and by the pool, and slept on the beach watching the stars. Not to mention, the bride and groom did so much to make sure all their guests had an incredible time, from a welcome bonfire the first night to a pool party at the bikini bar the next day (not pictured).

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Man, Sarah and Aug, you did it right. I hope you know all that hard work paid off. The wedding was beautiful and full of love. You gave us the most epic vacation ever. I'm so glad we could be there with you. Congratulations to you lovebirds.