April 27, 2010

Glorious Sunshine

California has finally decided that winter is over. For the first time in far too long it was a proper California weekend this weekend: sunny and warm.

I was in the kitchen, cooking--as usual--when it struck me that I should share some of this glorious sunshine with my beloved succulents. They've been suffering through the rainy weather. I got quite worried about them a few weeks ago--a series of storms brought on one last cold snap and I noticed that they were freezing to death on top of my dresser. So I moved them to the living room and next to the heater where it was a few degrees warmer.

I brought them into the kitchen with me and placed them directly in the sunshine. I like to think that they enjoyed themselves.

On a (slight) side note: they've grown! A little bit, but they're still bigger.

April 25, 2010

Ichiban Kan, my new love

How ramen + Ichiban Kan makes me feel.

Evan and I recently dined at one of our new-found (and favorite) Japanese restaurants: Katana-Ya Ramen Restaurant. We first visited Katana-Ya, which resides in a little strip mall with a bunch of other Japanese businesses in El Cerrito, one Saturday for lunch. After recovering from a brief bout of shock brought on by the sheer magnitude of their menu--which is truly immense-- I settled on a bowl of ramen complete with bamboo shoots, kelp, corn and a tempura shrimp. It was my first non-instant ramen and I loved it. We returned to Kanata-Ya last weekend for dinner. This time I had a mixed tempura rice bowl which came with a salad, miso soup, a potato croquette, and pickled vegetable--and all for $10! Although the menu is immense and repetitive, Kanata-ya's tasty, reasonably priced has made food this little hole-in-the wall worth the occasional trip to El Cerrito.

Wow, I wasn't planning on making this post a restaurant review, but I felt that I needed to provide some back story. But back to my point: after dinner we decided to do some exploring. We waddled down the sidewalk to check out the surrounding businesses and wound up in a shop named Ichiban Kan. A mixture of convenience store and 99 cent store, Ichiban Kan carries anything and everything Japanese from imported snacks and drinks to bento boxes and gardening tools, and everything in between. (They even carry imported, Japanese toothpaste and hair dye!)

I, of course, was instantly drawn to everything cute and bizarre. We had so much fun perusing the aisles, gaping in awe at all the goodies and picking up every item, that I'm sure we made a marvelous pair of tourists. I had a verrry hard time resisting the overwhelming temptation of purchasing one of each cute eraser, bizzare snack or packet of stickers, but I left satisfied with a few goodies:

Meet Ham: orange, cute, and 100% eraser.

Ham now resides on my nightstand and has become fast friends with Wee Guy.

Cracker Snacks

Evan picked out the Every Burger snacks and I (of course) chose the mushroom ones. The Every Burgers have a very, very strong sesame flavor and the mushrooms are nothing more than plain crackers with chocolate caps.

This little mushroom hockey player is what sold me on these treats and I have to say, they are the tastiest fungi that I've ever tasted.


I love (LOVE) stickers. And I went batty for the stickers at Ichiban Kan. There were so many kinds stickers and each pack was no more than $2 each--not exactly a huge investment. Nevertheless, I limited myself to only three packs...

...that have made lovely additions to my collection.