Monday, March 31, 2008

Vito's Pizza - LaCienaga (Between Santa Monica and Melrose)

Although the flavors of the pizza and crust texture is great, they seem to have a problem with burning the bottom of the pizza crust which gives the pizza a bitter burnt taste. it is almost is happening on a regular basis unfortunately (well, at least the last couple of times i've been there). the crust is so thin that you can't remove the burnt parts easily. i passed on the pizza this time and ordered the chicken parmesan sandwich ($9) on a french roll. they burned part of the french roll too. do they even know about this problem? tomato sauce on top of the chicken parmesan was delicious and had lots of garlic. albano's brooklyn pizza on melrose is now enzo pizza which i have yet to try. too bad albano's closed down - they had some good pizza. i might start going to pizza hut.

James' Beach Restaurant/Bar in Venice

Contemporary restaurant/bar/hangout place. Food was very good. Service was extrememly slow. Entrees ranged in price from $20-30. i tasted both the halibut (with string beans and mashed potatoes) and brisket (with roasted vegetables). Both dishes were very tasty. side note - menu stated that their french fries were voted "best in l.a." (we don't know by whom). they were just ok. nothing to brag about. i've definitely had better. after 10 pm, seems to turn in to a pickup joint. lots of blonds, both attractive and unattractive. mostly 30 somethings and a couple of 40 somethings. spotted mike d from beastie boyz there.

Pharaoh Sanders Quartet at the Jazz Bakery (Helms)

1.5 hour concert in an intimate setting. only about 100 seats. tickets were $30. a friend is a big fan of pharoah sanders, a great saxophonist. friend loved the show so much that he even wanted to see him again the next night, but he couldn't make it. luckily for my friend, he will again be playing at the Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood on 7/31, 8/1, 8/2 and 8/3. tickets were only $30 at the jazz bakery which seems like a bargain these days. Pharoah Sanders played with William Henderson (pianist), Willie Jones III (drums)and Nat Reeves (bass) - all great as well.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bloomingdales Private Sale

Not really private sale. Bloomingdales big semi annual sale going on until friday, march 28th. i received coupons in the mail ($25 off/$100 or more. the beverly center location had some jeans for an additional 40% off clearance and regular jeans. i found some lightweight ginger stretch 7 for all mankind jeans - normally $187 marked down to $157 plus an additional 40% off ($95). the sales person in the denim area said the $25 coupon didn't apply to premium denim as stated in the fine print. i walked to the lingerie dept. all clearance lingerie's were an additional 50%. i found a brassiere for $6, reduced from $28 to $12. now that's a steal-i practically got the jeans half off, but still was expensive. my total was $100 and the salesperson (she could care less what the jeans were - premium or not, whatever) in the lingerie department gave me the $25 off. i also purchased a pair of $119 raybans with the $25 off - total with tax was $101. show your receipt of spending more than $100 before tax and you get a $15 bloomingdales gift card (can be used for anything including cosmetics) to be used from march 29th thru april 13th. I spent $180 not including tax and only got one $15 off card.

updated 4/5 - so yesterday, i decided to return a pair of white sleepwear shorts that i bought for very cheap $6.75, since they were too see-through for me. since i used the coupon, i was only refunded $5.20 (23% less than what i paid because of the coupon). it doesn't make sense to me because my total even without the shorts was over $100 and i would have still gotten the $25 off. it's the principal of the matter.
i also refunded the sunglasses and the salesperson asked for the $15 gift card back and if i didn't have it, she would have to subtract $15 from my refund. i told her that i only got 1 gift card with 2 receipts and my total was still over $100. she gave me a total refund, but what a hassle.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Original Pantry Restaurant

Right before the lakers game, i ate at the pantry. even though i used to work only a block away, i never thought about coming here to eat. i had eaten there a couple of times many years prior and wasn't impressed. there was a line full of people waiting to get a table. i was able to get a seat right away at the bar. i had a philly cheesesteak ($11) and i remembered why i did not come here, because it wasn't so great. i saw the chef cooking many things people in the restaurant had ordered, since the large grill was in front of my seat. one steak grossed me out, it was brown-gray colored before placed on the grill and did not look fresh at all. i had purchased a red steak from ralph's once and the next day it turned to brown-gray color and it didn't smell that great either. i'm positive that the person who ordered that steak probably had no idea, but then again, i'm sure i've been served many a times brown-gray colored steaks that was masked in color by the searing. also, the color of the cooked green beans that came with the plate dinners reminded me of elementary school green beans. i almost lost my appetite. on the upside, the coleslaw was good.

Lakers Game Yesterday at Staples Center

i hadn't been to a lakers game since i left my last job 4 years ago, which used to provide free VIP tickets via raffle whenever they weren't being used by a marketer. although i wasn't much of a sports fan, the ambience was always fun. Lakers played the seattle supersonics. lakers won (130-105). lakers were leading pretty much 10-15 points from the get go. i left before the game ended but it was announced that everyone in the audience would receive 2 free taco coupons from jack in the box if the lakers won with at least 100 points or more. it was obvious the supersonics were not going to catch up during the 4th quarter. the free coupon wasn't enough for anyone to stay until the end. many people started to leave during half of the 4th quarter. our seats were located in front of one side of the basket, so it was even hard to search for stars, something i always used to do with binoculars. of course, i did spot jack.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Day Off Today - Shopping Extravaganza

Today i got the day off since it was considered a holiday (good friday). i shopped right after getting my car back at 11. i took a 2 month hiatus from shopping. i almost forgot about loehmanns since i don't seem to get any coupons from them emailed to me. the beverly hills location expanded - the men's section is no longer there (moved to beverly connection) - there is more of a selection of handbags and accesories, almost overwhelming. shoe department is the same. i did not find a single thing to buy despite the large selection and new arrivals of some italian items. they had several items from philosophy di alberta ferreti but were expensive (eg. $500 suites marked down from $1500). please. my next stop was h&m in the beverly center. i could not find anything interesting and only purchased 3 white plain tank tops for $6 after over 1.5 hours searching. lots of same stuff as last year, a lot of black tops, some colored designs. boring. luckily, i don't really have to buy any new clothes since the styles are the same. last stop was marshalls at the beverly connection. purchased a dana buchman black short trench for $60 but it has a leopard print inside. yuck. well at least i have 30 days to decide whether to refund it or not.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dell xps m1330 review

i've had the dell xps m1330 laptop for a total of 3 days. so far, so good and i didn't even get top of the line. much faster than my last computer and i'm actually able to run several programs without delays at the same time. 6 cell battery lasts about 2 hours. i'm still getting used to microsoft's vista but haven't encountered any problems yet, however i have not tried out all the functions on vista. computer is light and very portable but not as light as i thought it would be - i think mine is 5 pounds - my last laptop was double the weight.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Weekend Vegas Trip

Vegas weekend. Booked 2 nights at the mirage (a so-called 4 star hotel?). Room we were assigned to was clearly out of date. old crt television, rough sheets, sagging bed, broken faucet. room decor was awful. we were able to get out of our 2 night hotel reservation after only 1 night with no penalty. Mirage did finally offer to move us to a newly renovated room, but it was too late. also, mirage check in desk, was nice looking with a hugh aquarium background, was inconveniently located far away from the hotel elevator. the guests actually have to walk thru the same walkway as the visitors thru the casino. obviously, not something i wanted to do since people were leisurely walking around (in my way at times), while i wanted to get to the hotel room asap. luckily, the flamingo hotel had available "go" rooms. when we checked in, we were automatically upgraded from a regular go room to a mini suite go room (600 sq ft). the room was quite spacious with 2 large lcd televisions and 1 small lcd embedded in the bathroom mirror. the room also had an assortment of complimentary nuts, crackers, cheese, dried apricots and chocolate awaiting our arrival. lastly, the room was on the 29th floor, the highest floor of the flamingo i believe, with a view of the bellagio fountains. i will most likely be returning to flamingo if ever in vegas again. i think i just got sucked into the mgm properties (mgm, treasure island, mirage) from their website. harrah's website is not as nice. their properties include flamingo, caesars palace, imperial palace, bally's).

i also saw cirque du soleil's ka at the mgm hotel. good production effects, especially in the first 15 minutes. similar type dramatic performances and skimpy costumes (male thongs, etc) as in other cirque shows i've seen (mystere, o, delirium).

i won a total of $200 playing blackjack at the $10 table (imperial palace and o'sheas), some winnings from the help of a dealer nice enough to give his expert advice to me. it was a roller coaster ride all night for both nights.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dell Laptop - XPS M1330

Just ordered a refurbished laptop from yesterday. i watched the stock come and go for 5 days, constantly refreshing the page for new inventory. immediately when you see a new laptop(s) added, you should add it to your cart to hold it for 15 minutes and then read the stats after. anything in your cart is removed after being in your cart for 15 minutes or you can always remove it from your cart. i've had experiences reading the description first and then trying to add to my cart with no luck (it's no longer available because someone else added it to their cart first). very high turnover. outlet computer warranty is for 1 year (you can buy additional 2/3 year warranties) and there is 21 day money back guarantee. i chose the xps m1330 because of it's light weight. My current laptop (dell 5100) still works, but is thick, heavy and slow. i've had it for about 5 years and it cost me $1350 back then.

below are the notebook stats for the computer i purchased. total was $816.77 ($729 + 19.99 shipping + $6 environmental disposal fee)
also, i just got an automated voicemail from dell. apparently, dell xps computers have their own dedicated tech support number (answer in 5 minutes or less: 800-964-8321). how wonderful!

1 XPS M1330 Laptop: Intel Core 2 Duo T7100 (2MB cache/1.8GHz/800Mhz FSB)
1 6 Cell Primary Battery
1 120 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
1 Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium
1 Bluetooth Wireless Card 355
1 13.3 inch WXGA Standard Display
1 8X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability
1 3945 802.11a/g Wireless Mini Card
1 Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 3000
1 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM 677MHz (2 DIMMs)
1 Integrated 2.0 Mega Pixel Web Camera

i also chose dell because the prices were competitive in comparison to other brands (sony, hp, lenovo, mac) with the similar stats. i use my computer for basic stuff (documents, spreadsheets, photos, internet, itunes), so i didn't need top of the line ram or graphics card or hard drive. hopefully this computer will hold me over another 5 years and then i'll upgrade again.

Bialetti Mukka Express Cappuccino Maker Warranty

Since I had purchased my Mukka Cappuccino maker over a year ago, I have had a cup of cappuccino almost every day since. Although it is available in many stores (Crate and barrel, Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc), I purchased mine from Williams-Sonoma who is the only store that sells the Mukka with a black bottom. My first purchase was 11/2006 and approximately 6 months later, the black bottom layer started to peel off. I took it back to Williams-Sonoma and they exchanged it with a new one with no questions asked. The next Mukka black bottom started to peel and bubble also many months later. I contacted the manufacturer (Bradshaw International, 800-421-6290)instead of Williams Sonoma and they said they would replace the black bottom with a steel bottom. Their only request was to send a picture of the black bottom. I sent a photo on 3/3/08 and received a whole new Mukka with a steel bottom including the top one week later. They also sent me a letter thanking me for informing them of that problem. That was really nice of them.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Pinkberry Tax

I just could not understand why i'd be charged tax at pinkberry sometimes and not other times, so i finally asked.
apparently, if you order your pinkberry 'to go', they do not charge tax, but if you order it for 'eat in', tax is charged. go figure. i had already placed my order for 'eat in' before i asked, so i was charged tax, but at least i now know for next time.

Joan's on Third Price Increase

I took a month hiatus from joan's. Needing to restock the pickles in my fridge, I headed over there only to find out the price increase of the trio salad increasing from $10.25 to now $11.25. It hadn't even been that long since they raised the price from $9 to $10.25 (almost 10%). My favorite trio combo was the cous cous, ariminata pasta and penne. i don't think i want to pay that much now especially since i can get a comparable good meal for less, so i will not probably not go there as much, unless of course i need more pickles.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

LA Marathon

LA Marathon tomorrow, March 2nd. 26.2 mile route starts from Universal City all the way to Downtown. Thank goodness it's only once a year, although I'd rather have it zero times a year. It's a drag to try to drive anywhere if you live in the city near the routes or if you're trying to go anywhere. Streets are usually blocked all day.

Zyliss Easy Slice 2 Folding Mandoline

So I was in the mood to try to figure out a similar sweet pickle recipe to Joan's on Third's pickles (polly's picklesand needed a mandoline. I wanted an easy to use, compact mandoline. OXO Mandoline had to many pieces so I returned it. I purchased a very cheap one in January 08 (Chef Mate) for $10 at Target. The price one month later in Feb was $15, a 50% increase. The chef mate was not adjustable and had only 1 thickness setting. the food holder was not stable and the blades was not sharp (it came with 3 interchangeable blades. Returned yesterday. I went to Sur La Table yesterday and purchased the Zyliss Easy Slice 2 Folding Mandoline. Perfect. For only $35. Food holder is stable, blade is sharp and there are not too many pieces. It only slices thin to thick and can cut potatoes into french fries, no other function, which is exactly what i needed. It folds in half for compact storage and easy to clean. Be careful and always use the food holder as recommended in the included DVD. I became lazy and I sliced a piece of skin off my finger.

Side note: still have not figured joan's pickle recipe-it will be a matter of trial and error. i just bought a jar a joan's and now am trying to identify the spices. coriander, dill, allspice?, whole black pepper. i did make a great asian type pickle yesterday out of sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar after soaking sliced cucumbers and onions in a bath of tap water and kosher salt for a couple of hours. the onions were not as pungent.