An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Back from a week in LA and E3 2014

It’s been an exciting week for T and I (perhaps even Max). We left Max the Maximum Dog in Las Vegas with a wonderful dog-sitter we found through dogvacay.com and he had so much activity with the other dogs in her house that we think he’s depressed now that he’s home with us. We’ll definitely check Max in with her again if we need to go out of town.

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In other (BIG) news, T’s game Axiom Verge won the GAMESPOT Best of E3 2014 (he’s excited to be mentioned alongside No Man’s Sky, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Batman) and also made the list for IGN’s Best of E3 2014 Best Action Game AND Best Playstation 4 Game.

The week was well-spent even though T was super apprehensive about having to show his game alone and meeting new people. I think one of the biggest breakthrough was him making new friends WITHOUT ME and getting invited to dinner TWICE with a super lovely couple – James Petruzzi (of Discord Games, who makes CHASM) and his master baker wife, Trang (check out the treats she makes here! OMG If I had her mad skills, I would die of FAT in 24 hours). It’s a super big deal for T because we ever only go out with my friends and I always feel he should have his own friends who share similar interests. So so proud of him for breaking out of his shell this week and he picked a fantastically fun couple for us to hang out with! Chop, stamp, approved!

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I didn’t get a pass to enter E3 so T had to be on his own – which made him really anxious but also forced him to step up his game. (See his “uniform” which we made indie-style with homemade iron-on sheets.) I was a little sad to be apart but I was also happy to have 4 days to hang out with my friends. To my husband’s initial horror, my friends suggested I drive to meet them where they were – West Hollywood and Marina Del Rey, while our hotel was Downtown LA. It was crazy traffic and I quickly learnt to increase my following distance because it seems like LA drivers don’t use their turn signals to indicate their intent and weave in and out of really tight traffic every opportunity they get. But I did fine… Pfffft!! Didn’t scratch the car, didn’t cause any accidents, didn’t hurt anyone. I feel POWERRRRFUL for braving the urban traffic in the US, considering I was just driving only on the other side of the road less than a year ago.

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  • On Monday, I got to hang out on set of a new indie feature film called Wiener Dog Internationals that was being filmed in Huntington Beach. I even got to hold a wiener dog (and umm… unwittingly ended up cupping its balls for a while but that’s another story), and be an extra in the film representing Singapore!
  • On Tuesday, it was all about the kiddos, we had lunch at Du-Par’s at the Original Farmer’s Market which was right across the road from the Peterson’s apartment, bought snacks at Trader Joe’s and headed for Coldwater Canyon Park in Beverly Hills before stocking up on instant noodles in Koreatown (I’m definitely going back to Galleria Market!).
  • On Wednesday, Stella and Kate brought me to Manhattan Beach after Kate finished school. Lovely low-key retailers with many unique wares, none of that mass market stuff and lots of yummy treats! We had ice cream at the Manhattan Beach Creamery and the shop itself was super fun! You know summer’s out when people are walking around in bikinis…
  • On Thursday, it was a lovely walk from the Yeo’s apartment in Marina Del Rey to TonyP’s for lunch, then to Mother’s Beach where Kate played on the playground for a bit before we walked to Abbot Kinney aka Hipster Central (I WANT TO GO THERE AGAIN).Oh I love the dreamy houses that we passed at the Venice Canal!

And of course, deserving mention would be

  • Drago Centro – posh-looking inside and out but when they missed out on my order they more than made up for it by offering to give it to me for free and while I waited for it to be cooked, I starved off hunger by eating some yummy bread they provided. YUM! Mushroom risotto! Lovely service staff!
  • Bottega Louie – fancy decor, super delicious treats all calling your name upon entering the door, very crowded (and noisy) but very efficient service.
  • Veggie Grill – Unpretentious vegetarian fast food! YO hello! You people need to open one in Las Vegas soon. I have eaten at your LA restaurants 4 times in a row! We need one here!!

With that, it’s bye LA, hello Vegas, I’m home.


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Weekend in Los Angeles, California

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T and I took a trip up to LA 2 weekends ago so that I could be around some familiar faces. My friends G & K who live in Hollywood just had their 2nd baby around Christmas and it was also the baby’s full moon party. The best part other than seeing a childhood pal whom I’ve known since 6, was being able to bring Max along on this trip. It was a relatively easy drive and we had Max in a comfy hammock at the backseat of our Jeep Wrangler. IMG_3123IMG_3122

On this trip, we stayed at Motel 6 Hollywood (we’ve previously had good experiences with this pet-friendly chain) even though they have a bad rep for selling rooms by the hours in the past (if you know what I mean). We paid US$111 inclusive of taxes for a night’s stay in a relatively clean and very spacious room along Hollywood Boulevard. I mean, it was literally round the corner from the Hollywood Walk of Fame (0.4mi) and Mann’s Chinese Theatre (0.4mi).

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For dinner on Saturday, T and I went on a fancy dinner date to Osteria Mozza. If that sounds familiar, that’s because I wrote about the one I visited in Singapore last year. On top of that, we went to Farmer’s Market and had soul-foody lunch with my friends at Du-par’s.

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The key thing to this trip was having a dog-sitter because we couldn’t bring Max around when we went sight-seeing and while my pal G recommended several doggy daycare services, I found a true gem in dogvacay.com. I wrote to several dog-sitters to see who was available to take Max and a wonderful lady called Chriselle answered my call. We brought Max to Chriselle’s home once we got into LA and after he was introduced to her dogs, she took his leash, food and water bowl, and that was that. She lived in an apartment that is directly opposite the Bellevue Recreation Center so we know that he was frequently walked. She also sent us picture updates of Max making himself comfortable, going on a short hike and playing with her little dogs. So Max was left with Chriselle on Saturday from 12 to about 7.30pm. Then again on Sunday from 11.30am (after we checked out of the hotel) to about 3pm when we headed back home. Such a brilliant idea!

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It was a short weekend that allowed both of us to see more of LA and eat some yummy food. I liked that we got to do some touristy things and also hangout with friends. So great that LA is only about 4 hours drive away from us! Can’t wait to do more of these short weekend trips…


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Outpost Cafe in Oak Hills, California

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Last Saturday while driving through the Mojave desert from Las Vegas to Carlsbad, California, we chanced upon the OUTPOST CAFE and made a pitstop for lunch. We had earlier seen a sign for Franky’s Diner in Victorville but were disappointed to see it all boarded up. I love our roadtrip adventures and eating is such a life’s pleasure. These truckers or roadside diners are as much the highlight of the trip for me, as it is seeing Max the Maximum Dog (who is now ready to come home).

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T and I have previously been to 2 other diners (both in Yermo) and I wrote about them too. Peggy Sue’s and Penny’s Diner were 50s style diners and were basically situated just across the road from each other. We drove quite a while from Las Vegas before we hit the Outpost Cafe and it really didn’t seem like much from the outside. I was so glad we stopped because I was virtually famished and this is the first cowboy-themed diner that we visited. T loved the wagon wheel chandelier and the iron cast finish on the counter seats, while I just wandered around taking pictures of the decor in the entire place. The toilets were spacious and clean. There were many different types of seating – including outdoors, and there was a good selection of food (even for us vegetarians).

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T and I spent under USD35 (including a 20% cash tip) for my breakfast burrito, his Karma veggie burger and fries, our 2 refillable Cokes and a shared slice of Red Velvet Cake. That was not bad in my books. While T thought the patty in his burger and the cakes were “store bought”, I thought the redeeming factor was the small-town feel and their decor! I would definitely love to be back to see what other veggie-friendly options they have.

Ambience 4/5

Food 3.5/5

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OUTPOST CAFE

8685 US Highway 395

Oak Hills, California 92344

Phone: (760) 949 0808

Facebook Page: facebook.com/OutpostCafe

Twitter: @OutpostCafe


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My first time at IndieCade

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Technically T and I only attended IndieXchange Summit, which is an off-site (20 min walk) event that was held last Thursday 3rd October 2013. T didn’t have enough time off from work to attend the entire IndieCade event but made this one day really count. I went along because he didn’t want to leave me behind, it’s nicer to have someone on the 4 1/2hr drive to LA and I’m apparently “the one with the people skills” . Hahaha… I am really just a nosey parker and I do enjoy meeting new people.

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We arrived in Culver City, California close to midnight on Wednesday and spent the night at a TravelLodge. While it cost us more than twice what we paid for a room in Motel6 in Carlsbad, it is also slightly cleaner and much bigger (2 king-sized bed was all they had).

IndieXchange was an eye-opener because video games aren’t my thing to begin with. We got there early because T was unfamiliar with this place and wanted to be sure he got there ahead of time just in case we got lost. I spent a lot of time people-watching and it was quite cool. All you had to do was make eye-contact, say hello and people would tell you all about the game they were making. There were your FarmVille types, your Neopets types, there were some crazy RTS games but I realised most people worked with a team or had at least one other partner. I spend virtually everyday waiting for T to finish his time with his coding – he goes to work to code, he comes home from work and codes some more. He is a one-man show who makes the artwork, creates the narrative, composes the music and… uhm, writes lines upon lines of code.

At the summit, T had several talks that he wanted to attend, questions that had to be answered, he also had one-on-one meetings with publishers and also demo-ed his game. On top of that, T was interviewed for GameLoading, a feature length documentary on indie game makers.

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At some point in the afternoon, T set up his laptop and played his game. While people came by to ask questions, I gave out namecards. Some strangers played his game and gave him feedback, others asked if he was interested to collaborate – like musicians who were there to find a game to make music for.

The people in attendance also included those who work freelance on different game projects to make a living, those who work on their own games in their spare time while working in a completely different field for their day jobs and fresh graduates who are aspiring game developers but don’t know where to start.

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Anyway, among the many interesting gamemakers we spoke to were:

  1. Christine Love whose game (inspired by ancient Korea) T has recently started playing and was really excited to meet
  2. Henry Fernandez who just spent 3 weeks in Japan for TGS and will return to Venezuela in about a week
  3. Spencer & Trish Yip who make educational games and has invited T to a press mixer in LA sometime in November
  4. Ryan Leonski who showed us this really cute “reverse Mario” game and is also working on 3 others right now
  5. Mathew Crooks and his brother who’re making a game set in the Gaul

And there was this one French guy whose PC game just got green-lit. I forgot his name and the name of his game, I just remembered that when I asked what kind of game it was he said it was a type of RTS but his partner said it was F.A.R.T.S.

T is one of the lucky ones with a full-time job as a GameDev in a company he enjoys working at and returns home to derive more pleasure from programming in his free time making Axiom Verge. It was interesting to have met so many other types at this conference and I certainly learnt a lot.

So that was my first IndieCade. Yup!


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Not Your Average Woman: Katie Ichtertz

IMG_9120IMG_9144This is a special one – I went to visit Katie on 7th September when I was in New York City, to do this feature! Katie is my pal Ryddy’s ex-classmate from King’s College London (where they did their MA). Since they last met, Katie has lost a considerable amount of weight for health reasons but she did admit that she’ll “never be a toothpick” and at her current size, is probably the happiest she’s been. We go by the fashion industry’s misguided standards of anyone above a size 12 being PLUS SIZED and I’ve been happy flipping the metaphorical bird with my features of sassy, confident and stylish women who lead interesting, non-average lives. And I am proud to have Miss Katie Ichtertz (or kay-tee-aye as she’s more commonly known) in this month’s NYAW.

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Katie, a California native, is all of 25 years old. While she currently shares a cool apartment with 3 other flatmates in Downtown Brooklyn, she’s also lived in Spain and England. Her adventures started in 2008 when she graduated from the University of California to a lacklustre job market. She took the plunge and decided that the 1-year programme offered by KCL was going to be her next move.

IMG_9115For the last 3 years since finishing grad school, Katie has been living out of a suitcase. For work she has been jet-setting and living in different parts of the US – half a year at the Lincoln Center in New York, then the other half at the Sundance Film Festival (in Park City, Utah). How exciting is that? If anything, this girl is really dipping her fingers in every pie! Right now though, she’s decided that her base would be New York City and she’s also embarked on something else that has come her way – touring the country with the production “Man in a Case”, a play with stories adapted from Anton Chekov featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov! In case you’re wondering, he’s a famous Russian ballet dancer who’s also been in Sex & the City (wooing Carrie Bradshaw, no less).

And with Carrie Bradshaw, I’d now like segue to Katie’s style philosophy:

  • What is your dress/shoe size? I am a US dress size 14 with a size 10 shoe.
  • Describe Your Style Regal rocker. I love denim, studs and skulls, gems and jewels, wraps and classy frocks. I’m a huge fan of taking staple pieces like a color-blocked dress or a seemingly simple pencil skirt with blouse and glamming them up with fun statement accessories.
  • What do you normally wear to work or a work event/meeting? In the office, I usually wear black jeans with a blazer or a fun colorful blouse. I work long hours so I need to be comfortable but I also want to show off my personality and creativity. For events (of which there are many) I love to get dressed up to the nines. I plan a lot of parties and attend a lot of performances/screenings, so my favorite part is choosing what to wear (I’ve even calendered my outfits for festivals in my Outlook schedule!).
  • Where and how do you shop?  I have to be pretty strategic about my shopping since I live out of suitcases for much of the year. Each piece I buy has to count: it has to be timeless, comfortable and capable of being dressed up or dressed down. The benefit to being so calculating is that I only buy pieces that I absolutely love. You know when you’re in a dressing room of a shop and you think “I have to have this”… that’s my cue to buy. If it doesn’t scream to be taken home, I have to leave it behind. In the States, I most often shop at larger anchor stores like Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Target, etc. In London, I love Monsoon, Accessorize, and Dorothy P. In Spain, C&A is a trusty go-to… the sizing is too small and short (I’m 5′ 9”) everywhere else!
  • What are your favourite things to buy? JEWELRY! I go bonkers for fun earrings and necklaces. I spend more money on jewelry from Etsy, Modcloth and eBay than I do on clothing or shoes combined.
  • What are your favourite brands or shops? My favorite NYC shops for clothing are probably Fox’s and Century 21, both in the Upper West Side. I love finding unique and quirky jewelry on Etsy or at any of the awesome flea markets and craft fairs that pop up in Brooklyn (I love to support DIYers whenever I can!). For sneakers and sunglasses, I’m loyal to Converse and Ray-ban.
  • How do you dress on your blah-days? When I’m having one of those days, I put on a tried and true outfit, something that I know I look and feel great in and then I really doll myself up with makeup and baubles. Blah-days are when you most deserve to take some time to primp and pamper yourself.
  • When you were 12, what did you imagine your life would be like at your current age? When I was 12, I was absolutely convinced I would be married with children by 25. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would travel to and live in the places that I have. How lucky I am to have been so wrong. I hope for a family in the future, but right now I am very much in love with my gypsy life and my blossoming career.

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From being a UC Davis graduate in Spanish and International Relations to earning her MA in Cultural and Creative Industries from King’s College London to leading such an exciting, jet-setting life – this girl has energy, imagination and lots of guts! Go and be inspired by Kickass Katie!IMG_9121


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Penny’s Diner in Yermo, California

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When I was writing up the post about Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner, I came across mentions and comparison’s between them and Penny’s Diner (which was just across the street). As we were driving to Carlsbad last Saturday to visit Max the Maximum Dog, I saw a small sign for Penny’s Diner and yelped! T reacted quickly and turned off to exit from the highway so that we could have lunch.

Unlike Peggy Sue’s where advertising billboards (yes, with an “s” cos there were several) can be seen more than a hour’s drive away from their actual location, I don’t recall seeing anything for Penny’s. Penny’s Diner is apparently part of the Oak Tree Inn that’s right next to it. So I guess people who are staying at the hotel would go to Penny’s for their meals and maybe that’s why they don’t need much advertising.

According to T, most roadside diners look like Penny’s – I’m taking this to mean the chrome Airstream exterior and Art Deco interior. There were some booth tables and some seats at the bar counter. We sat near the back in a booth seat, not far from the toilet – which was actually more updated and cleaner than Peggy Sue’s. T got to write and decorate the wall of the diner with some dry erase markers while we waited for our food.

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When it came to taking our orders, we had a very friendly waitress attend to us. We explained that we were vegetarians and she recommended some options, then offered to swop some of the meat ingredients out to customise our meal. I ordered the Hopped Up Hashbrowns, nachos, onion rings and a sweet tea. T had french toast, a side of hashbrowns and a cola. And for desert, we shared a homemade bread pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Our total came up to about USD35 inclusive of taxes and a 20% cash tip – price wise, similar to Peggy Sue’s. What’s different was, we were asked repeatedly if we wanted refills for our drinks – something that T enjoyed because he does love his soda. I didn’t because the sweet tea was too sweet and I instead had a glass of ice cold plain water to wash everything down. I think the hopped up hashbrowns and regular hashbrown were both good. I particularly enjoyed the nachos which were actually deep fried corn tortillas. I highly recommend it!

IMG_9840With both Peggy Sue’s and Penny’s, I don’t think I’ll travel all the way just to eat their food. I do think that Penny’s food tasted less “store-bought” and their service is much better but Peggy Sue’s decor is so much fun. With them both just side by side, I guess if I come this way again, I’ll go to Peggy Sue’s for pictures and to check out their gift shop, then head to Penny’s for my meal.

Penny’s Diner

35450 Yermo Rd

Yermo, CA 92398

Phone: (760) 254-1148


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Motel 6 Carlsbad South

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So last Saturday morning T and I drove up to California again to visit Max. This time, we decided that the prudent thing to do was to spend the night. We didn’t rent a car because there were only 2 of us. Petrol in California is more expensive than in Nevada and we didn’t want to drive back and forth since it’ll cost us twice as much than if we were to stay in a budget hotel. T found a Motel 6 that was less than 10 minutes away from the hospital and booked it online the night before we left. We got to see Max on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday!

The drive through the desert was boring after about an hour or so. I tried to entertain T (and myself) by clapping. T was puzzled but didn’t ask me why I clapped repeatedly. He has long come to accept that I’m a special snowflake and there are just some things that I do that defies logic. I saw that we drove through Zzyxz Road (Cool name right?) and I spotted a sign for Penny’s Diner! We dropped in for lunch (will write another post on this) and headed straight for the hospital to play with Max.

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When we finally got to check in, we drove to the wrong Motel 6. There are apparently more than one of them within a short distance. T said that he didn’t like the first one because the reception area smelled bad and he was glad the one we stayed was better.

I think the Motel6 website for this particular establishment has outdated pictures. Our room was definitely much nicer. At the very least, the sheets and decor was more modern. We had a queen-sized bed, a TV (with many cable channels for FREE), an area with shelves, hanging rail and 6 hangers for clothes, ensuite bathroom with toilet and bath tub, a spacious vanity/sink outside the bathroom (very handy when you have more than 1 person in the room) as well as a small corner table with 2 seats (suitable for a proper sit-down meal or just throwing all your stuff). Outside, there are some vending machines, an ice machine and also a pool.

20130923-202221.jpgWe paid just over USD60 inclusive of taxes and I think it was a decent price. It’s basic and clean. For the amount of time we spent in there, I think the room served us just fine. We checked in at about 4pm on Saturday, rested for about an hour, then headed out to have dinner with my friends Noel and Stella (and their baby Kate) who’ve just moved to LA from Singapore. LA is a 90-minute drive from Carlsbad and by the time we got back to the hotel, it was close to midnight. A quick shower, some TV and it was lights out till about 9.30am on Sunday. Check out time is 12 noon and we dilly-dallied watching more TV until it was just about 5 minutes to check out.

They provide more than an adequate number of towels (wash cloth, bath towels, face towel, floor towel for the bathroom), 4 plastic cups and a plastic container (similar to a generic ice cream tub) for ice. There’s no in-room mini-bar, and there are no toiletries except for 2 small bars of soap (one at the sink, one at the bathtub). But that’s okay, right?

Staying in a motel is definitely not as good as being in your own bed at home. I couldn’t wait to get back to our house but I’d say Motel 6 wasn’t too bad. If it’s necessary, we might stay at a Motel 6 again sometime soon.

Motel 6 Carlsbad South #471
750 Raintree Drive
I-5/San Diego Freeway at Poinsettia Lane
Carlsbad CA 92011
Phone: (760) 431-0745