Best of 2020 – Bargains and Splurges List!

With a new name I figure I should have new content too, and after thoughtful consideration I plan to blog at least once a month to highlight my favorites of that month! But before I jump right into my January Favorites I thought I’d share a few of my BEST 2020 finds. 2020 was a rough year for everyone, and while I think these businesses are the bomb, I want to do my part so that they can stay in business for years to come! So, without future adu here are 2020 Favs!

$ Bargain Finds

Brioche Bread (The Brioche Lady): One of the few entries I did in 2020 was about this amazing little bakery called The Brioche Lady in Fresno, CA. See my entry here and lets just say that I got one of my foodie friends hooked and now her freezer is stuffed with loaves of these breads (and we live about 5 hours away lol). I believe a loaf is $5.50 or $6.50 depending on which flavors you pick.

Hot Chocolate (Timothy Adams): I drank a lot of hot chocolate in 2020, but the BEST Hot Chocolate ever is from Timothy Adams Chocolates in Palo Alto, CA. Read all about it here. For $7.50 you can indulge in the finer things without breaking the bank.

Matcha Toffee Drink (Urban Ritual): The most unique and tasty dessert drink you will probably ever have. I went to Urban Ritual twice in a week which is saying a LOT! But this was worth it. Read my full yelp review and order here. $6.50 for a decadent drink is pretty sweet (pun intended lol)

$$ favorites: Burrito (Taqueria San Bruno), Chimi-Churri Skirt Steak Pizza (Cambalache Grill), Student Noodle & others (Phnom Penh Noodle Shack), Garlic Chicken Pizza (Kech Cafe)

$$ Moderately Priced

Burrito (Taqueria San Bruno): The best burrito I found in 2020 was a surf and turf in San Bruno, CA (Northern California). You can read my full yelp review here, and for about $14, you can enjoy two meals and feel like a king/queen.

Cambodian Noodles (Phnom Penh Noodle Shack): I visited Phnom Penh Noodle Shack in Long Beach, CA pre-pandemic, but it’s been on my bookmarks for a LOOOOONG time. Read my full yelp review here. In short the Student Noodles (roughly $10) were the bomb!

Chimi-Churri Skirt Steak Pizza (Cambalache Grill): Wednesdays have officially become Pizza Night at Casa de Irene, because it’s BOGO Pizza from Cambalache in Fountain Valley, CA. For about $15 you can get 2 pies and please lots of happy family members. They have other types of pies, but the Chimi-Churri Skirt steak is definitely a family favorite and always devoured promptly.

Garlic Chicken Pizza (Kech Cafe): Kech Cafe truly defines the “never judge a book by it’s cover” slogan. Located in a gas station in Fountain Valley, CA, you’ll have a counter with everything made to order. $15 for a pie that will surely scare away all the vampires. Read my full yelp review here, along with other recommendations.

$$$ favorites: Secret Honey Dresses (Mary Poppins, Library Belle, Snow White)

$$$ Splurge:

Cosplay (Secret Honey, Hana Castle): I’ve often wondered where some cosplayers get their Disney Princess outfits and was introduced to this Japanese company called Secret Honey (IG Account) This brand sells cute fashionable outfits, but what makes them special is that they do annual Halloween collaborations with Disney to replicate outfits of popular Disney characters – honestly, their stuff could easily be mistaken as official Disney Parks outfits!

Unfortunately, Secret Honey only sells official licensed items in Japan and a small number of other countries. The US is not among them *cries* However, I was introduced to other company called HanaCastle (IG Account) and they are a third party site that sells untagged versions of those outfits. They also ship nationwide! Untagged means that the product didn’t meet the final inspection for official sale, but I’ve bought a couple Untagged outfits and did not notice any flaws. They’re also usually sold at a discount, but they still cost a pretty penny (Avg. Price $300 – $500 an outfit). I loooooove these outfits, and they photograph beautifully! In 2021 I’m sure I’ll have more professional photos taken, but if you want to see more be sure to follow my Cosplay IG account to see them! Suffice to say I’ve found a new guilty pleasure, and I can’t wait to see what new additions they’ll have this year!

$$$ favorites: Adorkabow custom bows

Adult Bows (Adorkabow): I’m a nerd and dork at the core, and bleed Sailor Moon – so when I found out about this independent shop that does Sailor Moon (and other franchises) inspired hairbows I was super interested. Adorkabow (FB Account) primarily sells Sailor Moon inspired enamel pins; however, Sarah, the founder and artist’s passion is making custom one-of-a-kind bows. I’ve ordered 5 already from her, which should say something! My small bows were around $40 a piece and the large one $60, although she can make extremely elaborate ones for more.

What business did you discover in 2020 that you want everyone to know about? Comment below!

Until next time!

Irene

Cosplaying at the World Premiere of Dark Phoenix at Hollywood, CA

I’m an avid movie goer and average about 5 movies a month; however when I was invited with my x-men cosplay family to attend the World Premiere of Dark Phoenix, I was beyond excited. I didn’t really know what to expect aside from potentially having the opportunity to see some of the cast and see a movie before anyone else. The day was beyond amazing and suffice to say I can now check mark off one of my bucket list items – attend a VIP Screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre!

Shots from the World Premiere

I arrived there with some friends at around 3:30pm to get checked-in for the 6pm red carpet event. There were so many amazing cosplay and I was actually really surprised by how far these cosplayers traveled. One of the Jean Greys few from Ohio with her boyfriend and a genderbend Magneto’s flew all the way from Dublin, Ireland! I sometimes forget that I live in one of the coolest places in the world and only had to drive 2 hours (mostly because of the traffic) to get here. There were ample reporters and press covering the event and you might see me (the only Psylocke there) in a few local and international televised and/or print clips! Some of the media outlets included one from Australia, a Chinese channel, Marvel, Disney etc.

More photos from the Premiere

After the press interviewed a few of the cosplayers and snatched candid footage, the movie cast members arrived! and walked the red carpet. I had the opportunity snap a few selfies with some of the actors including James McAvoy (Professor Xavier), Evan Peters (Quicksilver), and Jessica Chastin (Vuk)  *squeel* and take a group photo of the entire cast before we were moved to the theater to watch the movie!

I really enjoyed the movie and feel that it’s especially important to celebrate all our diverse backgrounds, gifts, and talents. It truly brought people from all corners of the earth and I will treasure this experience forever!

If you could choose your mutant power what would you pick? Obviously I pick psychic!

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Celebrating Batman’s 80th Birthday with Celebrity Guests Kevin Conroy, Lee Meriwether, Jim Lee, and more at Wondercon in Anaheim, CA

Over the weekend I attended one of my all time favorite conventions – Wondercon, the baby brother of the World Famous San Diego Comic Con. (2018 SDCC Cosplay Post, 2017 SDCC Cosplay Post) The three day geek convention has a vivid cosplay scene and with Batman celebrating an enormous milestone attendees were ready to party with the Dark Knight and crew! I attended the event as Nightwing and geeked out with 500+ attendees at the official DC Comics Birthday Bash.

Photos from Wondercon

The packed room featured an all-star panel included Kevin Conroy – the voice of Batman: The Animated Series, Jim Lee (DC Publisher CCO), David Mazouz (Young Bruce in Gotham), Lee Meriwether (Catwoman in 1960s Batman Movie), Diedrich Bader (Batman in Batman: Brave and the Bold), and Roger Craig Smith (Batman in Batman: Arkham Origins video game) as they reflected and shared memories. A gigantic cake was rolled out later in the program and all participants were given a Batman decorated cupcake and a mini Bat-signal flashlight as party favors.

Cosplaying as Nightwing

The event concluded with a montage of celebrities wishing the Cape Crusader a Happy Birthday and all the Batman cosplayers had a chance to take a group photo with the panelists. Attending this event was definitely a highlight of the convention and I’m still star struck that I got to be in a photo with the voice of Batman Kevin Conroy (!!!) who will forever be my Batman as I use to watch him everyday afterschool when I was an elementary and middle school student.

Whats your favorite Batman memory?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Not a game, but a hunt – Alita Experience at Los Angeles, CA

Does it bother you that I’m not completely human? — Alita. Over the weekend a few of my friends decided to head to “The Alita Experience“, a pop-up escape room that portrayed Iron City and other key movie scenes. We had a 4pm reservation and shortly after checking in we were joined by another guest to make up the robust yellow team.

Directions

Once inside we were directed to personalize our badge and head toward The Kansas, the local bar, until escorted to the main play arena. There were 5 other teams (with differing size makeup) and we were instructed to play at the different stations which gave us tasks to complete in order to earn “credits”. Some stations were more athletic oriented and others related to recalling trivia from the movie, and some tasks tested how quickly we could finish an assignment.

Me in robot gear

After completing the various stations we were directed at the end to place bets for Motor ball. Our team performed admirably and even took home the highest team score! We were awarded a priceless coin at the end and directed to the gift shop, which featured various robot gear.

In the movie Alita was willing to give up her heart, her most prizes possession? What item is most valuable to you?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Hero’s and Villains, Oh My! Attending the VIP My Hero Academia Voice Actor Panel and Autograph Signing at Anime Los Angeles in Ontario, CA

One of my favorite things to do at conventions is attend panels especially voice actor ones as I love learning about the audition process, and inspiration for characters. While I had the opportunity to see both the creator, voice actor for Deku and All Might at SDCC in 2019 (Post Here), Anime Los Angeles brought the full star studded My Hero Academia cast (!!!) for the weekended and included an autograph session for all attendees.      The weekend was far from short of My Hero Academia cosplays (post here) and the voice actors who brought their character’s voices to life including Justin Briner (Izuku Midoriya), Clifford Chapin (Katsuki Bakugo), David Matranga (Shoto Todoroki), Colleen Clinkenbeard (Momo Yaoyorozu) , Eric Vale (Tomura Shigaraki), Morgan Berry (Thirteen), and Christopher Wehkamp (Shota Aizawa) all participated in both individual and group panels. I was lucky to snag a front row seat in the group panel and got selfies with my two favorite voice actors Coleen Clinkenbeard (Momo) and David Matranga (Shot Todoroki)! I had a great time seeing these voice actors and loved that I got to converse with them in this more intimate convention. A few of the voice actors even complimented my spikes and were really impressed with my cosplay. I’m planning to continue working on it and who knows maybe at AX Momo will have even more refined details 🙂

Do you watch My Hero Academia? Who’s your favorite hero?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

“Gotta Catch ‘Em All” at Anime Los Angeles in Ontario, CA

Geek conventions are a great place to buy merchandise, watch panels, and see amazing cosplay! But one thing that differentiates Anime Los Angeles (ALA) from the other nerd gatherings is ribbon trading, an activity where you complete a task or trivial and in exchange get a ribbon to add to your badge.

Pokemon Gym Leaders

Anyone can participate in the ribbon trading and there are certain groups of individuals who work collectively to make the ribbon trading activity a scavenger hunt. One of the best groups is the Pokemon Group and this year they focused on Team Rocket Recruitment. Attendees would checkin at the “Pokemon Center” and be given a starter Pokemon (their first Pokemon ribbon). I started with Larvitar, a Rock/Ground Pokemon and needed to find other Gym Leaders (individuals with the Red and White Pokemon Button) to “battle” and collect more ribbons.

2019 Pokemon Rocket Challenge

Once you collect at least 14 of the 18 Pokemon types, you can see “The Boss” and collect the last badge – Pokemon 2019 Champion! It’s a fun activity to take part-in and it’s makes for a really cool souvenir.

Who would be your starter Pokemon?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Debuting My New Hero Cosplay at the “My Hero Academia” Photo Shoot at Anime Los Angeles in Ontario, CA

Over the weekend I attended Anime Los Angeles (ALA), a three day convention in Ontario, CA. While many conventions focus on celebrity guests appearances (Justice League SDCC post, Marvel SDCC post) or powerhouse media companies (VIZ Media @ Anime Expo Post), the cosplayers are the stars of this convention. Roughly 60% of attendees cosplayed and with My Hero Academia debuting a Season 4 later in 2019, there was an enormous hero and villian presence at ALA. I participated in one of the conventions largest cosplay meetup as Momo Yaoyorozu – Class 1A’s Vice President in her hero outfit (My Hero Casual Meetup post).

Meetup photos

As one of the first conventions of the new year, many cosplayers use this convention to debut new outfits. Personally, I spent my winter break sewing my belt and styling my wig and was happy to share my finished project. There were well over 200 cosplayers at the meetup and while I knew there would be an abundance of Deku, Shoto, and Bakugos, I was most surprised by the number of attendees who dressed as Deku’s mom! 

It’s always great to see others dress up as your favorite characters and I can appreciate the care and craftsmanship that goes behind the design.

Do you watch My Hero Academia? Who’s your favorite hero? Villian?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Disney fun at Los Angeles Comic Con (Sunday) and New Disney Cosplay Reveal?!

Disney has been a big part of my life growing up so when I debuted my Violet Parr cosplay at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC post) this past summer, I was excited about all the upcoming Disney gathering and photo shoots since I’ve mainly done DC characters.

Disney Group Shoot

LACC seemed like forever ago (See Marvel post, and Street Fighter post), but a few photographers posted some shots of my Violet Parr cosplay and I was reached out by Kids Can Cosplay, a nonprofit organization to portray her in an upcoming holiday meet-and-greet event benefiting at-risk kids. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to blog about it since it’s a private event and I’d want to be sensitive about minors and their financial status, but we shall see if I can do the adult cosplayers!

Me, Disney Princesses, Nightmare Before Christmas

I’ve always so impressed by the Disney cosplayers and the Princess group always seemed so much fun, so… for 2019 I’m going to debut a NEW Disney cosplay and it’s going to be a Disney Princess!! *gasp*

Disney Pixar Characters

Can you guess which Disney princess I’m working on? I’ll give you a hint, she’s sassy and will have a live action movie coming up! Who’s your favorite Disney princess and why?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Heros and Villians Compete at the U.A. Sports Festival in Huntington Beach, CA

I’m aware that conventions attract the biggest comic geeks such as Los Angeles Comic Con (Day 1, Day 2) etc, but the fandom for My Hero Academia is on a whole other level. At Anime Expo & SDCC  fans waited hours to see the show’s creator. Suffice to say there will be a Season 4 and I’m sure many more seasons after that. There’s an arc in the earlier seasons where the first year students competed in various competitions  called the U.A. Sports Festival and Cosplayers Undercovercottonswab and Libbubblescosplay hosted a similar competition at Huntington Beach!

U.A. Medals; U.A, Teachers and Sports Festival Hosts

It was a beautiful sunny day and this casual event was hosted right on the beach. Fans of the anime came from far and wide, some in cosplay and some in beach-gear to experience the U.A. Tournament. There were various mini competitions such as the limbo, and jump rope, but everyone was eagerly anticipating the relay-style race to the finish and the contenders were wait for it… heros versus villians!

Hero Cosplayers

I had a great time meeting others who also love this anime series and was proud of myself for styling my characters wig (2 hours and a whole can of hairspray later… lol). The things we do for characters we love.

Do you watch/read My Hero Academia? Who’s your favorite character? Momo Yaoyorozu’s mine

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

X-men take over Los Angeles Comic Con (Saturday)

I always have a blast at LA Comic Con and Saturday’s event was particularly special because I got to debut a new cosplay and join my first Marvel group – The X-men! Woo-hoo! I spent most of my Friday (LACC 2018) exploring the floor, and making purchases, so Saturday was dedicated to photo and videoshoots! and let me tell  you the cosplays on Saturday were really on point! It’s like seeing characters from the TV show and movies pop right off the screen! and I definitely commend all the dedicated cosplayers who painted their entire body blue (props to you Mystique, Nightcrawler, and Beast!)!!

X-men Class Photo; Double Psylockes

During the morning our X-men group met with photographers to take individual and group shots including class photos, all girls, all guys, 90s animated, all telepaths etc. There were quite a few cosplayers who did genderbend versions of their characters and color me impressed- they pulled it off really well!

More photos at LACC (Saturday)

We reconvened at the official Marvel shoot outside the convention and I was surprised that we got to be a part of a unveiling of a new wheelchair! The Magic Wheelchair, an non-profit organization that transformed wheelchairs to amazing functional costumed vehicles, debuted a Venom inspired one. Seeing the kid’s face light up was the cherry on top and everyone in the Marvel shoot cheered for our newest hero.

In the early evening, my friends and I returned to the conventions Main Stage to support cosplay friends competing for cash prizes. Everyone did a great job and while I was beyond exhausted at the end of the day, I was so glad that I got to spend time with my geeky pals and make great memories with my cosfam.

Did you watch Xmen growing up? Who was your favorite character?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar