Category Archives: Hobbying

Hobbies and extracurricular activities - Franklin's new succulent terrarium

Five For Friday: Aquarium, Terrarium, and Bacon

Five for Friday is a weekly series about the five new things I learned each week. It could be anything from a new recipe, new skills, or a new life lesson.

Aquarium of the Pacific’s Discounted Late Nights

I love the Aquarium of the Pacific more now that I have experienced it in the night time with barely another soul in sight. The Aquarium offers discounted late hours admission in the summer from late July through Labor Day. For $14.95, you can roam the place from 5-9 p.m. - Aquarium of the Pacific

Seth and the Jellyfish

I set up a LBC Tweet Up event just for this on Tuesday. 4 others showed up for happy hour at Mai Tai Bar across the way, but only my friend Seth and I were left to explore the Aquarium at 8 p.m.  We almost never run into another group of people except for at the shark lagoon.  We got to have actual conversations with the volunteers and staff.  I can put my face right on the glass to say hello to the otters and penguins without having to fight with anyone.  Even the stingrays popped up to say hello because we were the only ones around to touch them!

Best part? Not a kid in sight. ;-)

I’ve been to the first Night Dive before. That was a great night event as well, 18 and over only with art exhibits, live band out at the shark lagoon, DJ spinning in front of the giant tank, and a few bars scattered around.  Still, there was quite a lot of people around.

But this was different. This was midweek at 8 p.m., quiet as a grave. Just you and the sea creatures. It was magical.

Dreams Do Come True…If You Work Hard

All of us have been saying that my friend Tara should open a brick-and-mortar store for her online-only candied bacon confections business, the Sticky Pig.

Yes. Candied. Bacon. Confections. Now, wipe off your drool and continue reading. Your day is about to get better…if you live in Southern California.

The Sticky Pig

The Bacon Vixen announced today that the Sticky Pig now has a retail shop. She said more details coming soon.

Tara, you are my idol.  You have been working her little toned butt off, developing new products, and wheeling and dealing.  Your dream store is now a reality. Way to rock it!

Pinterest Lab Success: Rolo Snickerdoodles

USC football starts tomorrow! This is also the time I scour the web for easy-to-make and easy-to-transport recipes to take to the tailgates. So, I played with this recipe for Rolo Snickerdoodles. (Isn’t that an awesome name for a garage band or dodgeball team?)

And wow. WOW.  I mean, it’s no Tara’s PB&J bacon cookies, but it’s pretty damn tasty for a recipe plucked from Pinterest!

I will post my version on Food.OakMonster soon. Promise!

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium

I pinned this terrarium project on Pinterest a while ago.  Essentially, you create a garden in a glass container.  Most terrariums I’ve seen are almost enclosed or some kind of fancy goblets and apothecary jars.  I decided that mine would be in a big glass dish because of the space I have. And it was on sale at Michael’s for all of $5. So I don’t know if my bowl of plants would still be considered a terrarium. An open-faced terrarium, maybe?

Anyway, I read up some more on the tips and tricks of keeping this thing alive. It turns out that the care of terrarium is different for succulents and cacti.  People just saw pretty pictures and didn’t think too much of the actual nature of the plants. Most would kill their terrariums in a few months.  But with the right amount of water, this little garden could last.

And now Franklin the Plant Gnome finally has a new garden to watch over. - Franklin's new succulent terrarium

Terrarium Experiment

Bottom layer of river rocks for drainage. A thin layer of charcoal to keep the soil and any leftover water clean. Then the cactus soil deep enough for the plants to get in.  Then top off with some pretty little pebbles.

I spritz water on this little garden instead of actually watering it.  I’m hoping that spraying keep the soil moist but not soaked, and therefore giving enough water for these guys without drowning them.  In a couple of months, we’ll see if this will get added to Pinterest Lab Success board.  Meanwhile, please feel free to post tips and suggestions. :)

Haka for Fallen Comrades

I learn that New Zealand soldiers pay their respect to their fallen brothers by performing the Haka…

…and that if an army of shirtless warriors coming at me like this, I’m fucking running away, man.

Alright. I’m done sharing. Your turn.

Hooters Peanut Butter Pie is no more

Five For Friday: So long peanut butter pie, hello dance walking

Five for Friday is a weekly series about the five new things I learned each week. It could be anything from a new recipe, new skills, or a new life lesson.

Welcome to the Five For Friday: Saturday edition! Because I’m a dork and I sent the publishing time wrong. LOL  I also learned something else new when I went out for a walk this morning. So…here you go!

I Gained 10 lbs. For Nothing

Well, I’m sure you’ve already read about my disappointment of not being able to donate blood despite finally having met the weight requirement. Le sigh…

Hooters No Longer Serves Peanut Butter Pie

Yes, I like Hooters. The wings are good. The beers are cold. The girls are friendly. And I kick ass on video trivia most of the time. But what I like best about Hooters is the chocolate peanut butter pie.  I haven’t been there a while, so I didn’t know that the menu has changed.  First, I couldn’t find the 1/2 lbs. of shrimps I usually get. And then, I looked at dessert.

Peanut butter pie is gone.  Instead of the luxurious, creamy, chocolaty deliciousness, you can get a caramel cheesecake.

What the fuck is THAT shenanigan?!  Well, I guess now I have to make my own pie now…

Hooters Peanut Butter Pie is no more

Goodbye lover. (Photo credit: Yelp)

Pinterest Lab Success: Linoleum Cleaner

My hands HATE strong chemicals. That is why I have switched to using Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day dish soap a few years ago. I still do have a bottle of Dawn under the sink when attacking baked on aftermaths.  And it is also why I’ve been experimenting with homemade, less toxic cleaning products.

The Dawn (apple), baking soda, and vinegar (I bought a big bottle of cleaning grade kind) combination worked well for me. I only did half the recipe because we only have 3 small areas to mop.  The floor looks great and it smells pretty good.  You can get the full recipe through my Pinterest Lab board.

Core a Lettuce in 3 Seconds

Mind. Blown.

Sprinting and Dance Walking

Well, this is not really something new I learned, but it is confirmed.  Sure, I haven’t the drive or motivation to run a 5K. The total walk to the park, do a couple of laps, then walk back home takes total of 30 minutes right now. But at least I’m moving.

I went for the walk/run combo again today. While I have succeeded in slowing myself down so I managed to jog longer distance per interval today, I still find jogging boring.  I decided to sprint the width of the park, back to where I left my water bottle, to end the work out. That there, was probably the most fun 15 seconds I had the entire session.

That and climbing through the kid’s jungle gym was fun. I totally can NOT swing on monkey bars any more. But running around in the playground was totally fun.

Now, I am thinking about forming a new fitness routine, combining sprinting, climbing through kid’s playground, and, naturally, dance walking.

How has your week been?

Know your meme. This is from Hyperbole And A Half.

Five for Friday: New Things I Learned This Week

Of course, I’ve been stuck on a writer’s block lately despite having all the time on my hand. So, I thought writing about 5 new things I’ve learned or am learning during the week would be cool.

15 minutes a day to a clean house

Know your meme. This is from Hyperbole And A Half.

Sure, I have all the time in the world now that I’m going on the 17th month of being mostly unemployed. But cleaning is still not my favorite thing to do.  Pinterest proves to be a useful and inspiring time suck as I found a few tips to help me get on top of this whole cleaning the house business.

Instead of taking most of the day to clean everything, these tips suggest that the chores are broken into small chunks so you spend less than an hour to work on something everyday. Like this one and this one.  I set mine up like this.

  • Monday: Dusting. Bathroom counters and mirrors. Windows.
  • Tuesday: Laundry. Toilets, tubs, and sinks.
  • Wednesday: Mop. (I don’t have a lot of floor space to mop. Kitchen and 2 bathrooms are simple enough with one bucket!) Clean the piano.
  • Thursday: Vacuum floor, sofa, and fans. Spot clean carpet.
  • Friday: Clean the kitchen, dining room table, and the pantry area.

So far, so good. I have stuck with the schedule except that I forgot Wednesday altogether. LOL  Give me a little break though, it’s my first week! I’m going to catch up with that today.

Pinterest Lab Successes: Clothing and Carpet Stain Removers

Not all things on Pinterest actually work. So I have been experimenting with a few “recipe” here on my Pinterest Lab board.

First, the clothing stain remover. It’s essentially homemade Oxyclean in a liquid/gel form. Mix fresh to use 2 parts hydrogen peroxide and 1 part each baking soda and Dawn dish soap. (People swore by the original blue. I use clear so I don’t run the risk of turning anything blue.)  Rub this onto gnarly yellow arm pit stain on white clothing or the stubborn grease stain on dark clothing. Scrub with a brush if you have if. Then wash with everything else. Voila! Clean clothes!  Because this mixture bubbles up, you just have to mix per use.

Second, the carpet stain remover. I didn’t do the whole procedure. I just mix the solution in a squirt bottle, dribble a little on and rub with paper towel, then again with clean water, and blot dry. Works like a charm!

Learning to Run…kind of

For those of you who’ve known me a while, you’d also know that I’m not sporty one bit. You would also know that I have tried and failed at distant running at least once a year. Most of the time, I failed spectacularly mostly because two reasons. One, I wuss out because of my ankle injury or the weather getting too cold. Two, as a former sprinter, I ran myself out of the long race.

Let me put it this way. What I did earlier this week with “walk half a block then run half a block” method, I did it with Adele on my playlist. That’s right. Adele. I was training to slow ballad in attempt to slow my ass down when I get to my half-block of run.  I still found myself sprinting after a few steps anyway.

I walked half a block and ran half a block for 3 blocks, damn near passed out, and was pretty much out of breath all the way walking home. I’m pathetic.

Maybe long distance running isn’t for me after all. Who says I need to run for miles and miles, right? I mean, what really matters in a zombie apocalypse is that few blocks. If you’re not faster than the zombies…or the other guy…in a few blocks, you’re dead anyway.

New Favorite Wine: Erath Winery Pinot Noir

I’m a part of Thirsty Girl twitter tasting crew. They occasionally sent wine to me to taste along with many others online and review them. (Check us out on #TGTaste!) This month, I was set  Erath Winery from Oregon pinot noir and pinot gris. I’m not big on dry white wine but I adore the pinot noir. Lightly chilled, the pinot noir is absolutely lovely on hot summer days like these.

OakMonster - TGTaste - Erath

Sarah Barelles’s Gravity

Back on the piano! Seriously, I need to do this more.

This song so simple to play on the piano yet so difficult to get right. So far my neighbors haven’t  reported any “cat being murdered” noise to the police yet so I must sound alright. Either that or they’re really polite folks. I’m betting they’re really, REALLY polite folks…

What about you? What have you been up to this week?

Be A Better Pinner: Click it before you repin/like it!

Be a Better Pinner in One Step

There are several websites out there, in addition to the official Pinterest Etiquette, that will tell you the many steps you need to do to be a good Pinterest citizen.

Yes, you should be respectful, be authentic, and report objectionable content. Don’t copy the recipe/instructions/part of the article into the comment. Be clear with your comment. Consider your audience. etc. etc.

But the cardinal sin of Pinterest is to pin blindly and not checking for the source of the pin.

Hello, my name is Oakley. I have been a bad pinner.

When I see something cute/funny/yummy/geeky/awesome on Pinterest, my instinct tells me to click “Like” and possibly “Repin” right away without even knowing what that image is linking to, or to whom it belongs.

I see your mouse hand twitching. You know what I’m talking about then. Don’t be shy. We all have done it at some point.

A few days ago while on a Pinterest binge, I actually followed through a few pins to check out the recipe or the story behind the image.  I landed on Google Image a few times and a few more Tumblr images that were NOT linked to the respective sites. The grand finale was that I ended up on some random websites that people set up just to trap wanderers like me and cash in on the website traffic.

That is when I decided to write this post and made this nifty graphic.

Be A Better Pinner: Click it before you repin/like it! A friendly reminder from

Being a blogger, amateur photographer, and graphic arts hobbyist myself, seeing someone’s gorgeous work pinned and repinned as an image lifted from Google Image or Tumblr just breaks my heart. And those misleading links people put on great images just make me angry.

So let’s put a stop to it.

It’ll take you just one more minute to find out if the Pin is a good one, the one that is really worth sharing with your friends.

Yes, it will take a bit of adjustments. But after a while, you’ll start doing it automatically.

If we all do it, then going forward, we will put an end to the sharing of bad links and uncredited work.

So, from this point onward, I pledge to no longer like or repin any bad pin. I will also inform the pinner in the comment that s/he has a bad pin. If I have time, I will also find the original link for the poster so the pinner may make the correction. If the pin’s link is misleading, I will also report it to Pinterest.

If you agree to help stop bad pinning and would like to pledge to be a better pinner, please pin this image on your board and/or leave a comment below.

Have fun pinning consciously!


OakMonster Rises

I’ve been keeping busy since we last discussed about how my creativity has been stoked. I’ve played with Instagram a lot now that it’s available for Android. And I’ve been making some fun stuff. Kind of like found object art in a way. Whatever image strikes my fancy or something someone just said, I just whipped up something.

My Tumblr account hasn’t seen this much activities in months! And guess what? I’m having so much fun it’s ridiculous. :)

Pin away, interweb. Pin away!

bacon lover mantra

99 Darth Balloons

From the set of Star Trek 2 Spock in Space

eeyore and pinterest

george takei birthday


tardis steampunk hat project

Freeing My Creative Mind

It’s  been over 10 years since I worked in a truly creative environment. I had given up on being creative professionally.  When I got home, I didn’t do much either except for the costuming for Halloween/Renaissance Faire, food gift labels for the holidays, and the now-tradition Christmas e-card. Oh, and occasional alcohol-fueled rock star moments at the piano.

It only took three months working with and for these guys at Ignited to get me to WANT to be creative. All. The. Time.

I was tasked with reviving the company’s social media presence. So, for the next month, I read several articles on advertising and creativity daily. Some were passed along through tweets from the company’s executive creative directors Troy and Jordan and some I found sifting through our Facebook feed.

One of those articles I skimmed through pointed to a book, How To Steal Like An Artist, which I bought and read through in one afternoon.  Another book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, has been ordered and is on its way. I never thought I’d be buying and reading books on creativity. But I am doing it now.

To add more fuel to the fire, just about a month ago, Jeff Marx, the creator of “Avenue Q” came to speak to the company about finding creativity and passion in what you do. He discussed how he came to write the Tony Award winning hit.  A part of his talk was that he made a list of the 100 things he wanted to do before he dies. That extensive bucket list somehow helps him focus on what really makes him happy. It seems musical theater was it and not practicing law.

I started a list too as a part of my upcoming post. But as you can see, I haven’t posted it yet.  Well, I didn’t need a list to know what makes me happy. I have always known working in a creative environment makes me happy.

I just forgot about it for the past decade of working at jobs where the most creative thing I got to do was creating a monthly birthday flyer.

My time at Ignited both inspires and spoils me.  Now that I had worked in the creative industry, it’s hard for me to look at job descriptions that don’t involve creativity.  I want to find a job where I can let my crazy ideas fly and where people embrace my quirks instead of ridicule them. I want to work where I can grow and where I’m encouraged to learn.

Of course, you could argue that working at a non-creative place should NEVER stop me from being creative and working on my own stuff at home.  But that’s exactly what I said all those years ago too before I lost almost all of my inspiration and got my soul partly crushed.

But that was years ago. I know better now than to neglect my creative drive. Never again!

Yesterday, I went into Michael’s to get a few pieces of felt to make my new decorative little hat to top off the TARDIS corset for the Victorian/Steampunk look.  I found myself lost in the store for an hour and emerged with a whole new idea of a full scale top hat with steampunk doodads.  I spent another hour this afternoon getting the first part started.

And what an hour it was! I haven’t been this happy in quite sometime. Then again, I haven’t made anything in quite sometime.  It’s great to get to work on creative projects again.

Now I want to make more stuff. I want to play the piano. I want create more graphic arts. I want to make some videos. I want to write articles.

I want… I want… I want…


I’m going make the best out of this unemployment period, I tell you. Who knows, while I continue the search for the permanent professional habitat, I might end up with an Etsy storefront selling top hats made with felt and foam.

Speaking of which, I’d better check on that long dormant Cafe Press store I have…