Author Archive: crystalleong

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crystalleong dot com


it was one of the hottest days in the valley when i took an extended lunch to go to an interview in van nuys. working as an editor at a dead-end, uninspiring [post] post production house was wearing on me, and i was ready for a significant change in my career. a pay-cutting change, even. i drove my air-conditionless honda crv down the miserable, pothole laden streets of van nuys with all my windows down, trying desperately to avoid showing up in a sweat-drenched blouse (this was apparently an invitation for a man in a wife beater with neck tattoos to holler at me through my open windows). i drove slowly down a street lined with industrial buildings, perplexed at where my directions were leading me. i’m interviewing for a tv show, i thought, what am i doing out here? i didn’t even know what i was looking for.

at the end of the street…

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happy halloweenie, weenies!



a swig for ol' 30

a swig for ol’ thirty

today i leave behind three decades of lessons well learned. the last of which brought forth the most growth and self-discovery. i’m grateful for my twenties, but i’m even more grateful they’re over. i spent much of those years trying so hard to be cool that i didn’t realize i already was this entire time. do you know how much time i wasted making sure i wore the hippest outfits to the hippest bars on the hippest nights, watching the hippest movies and listening to the hippest bands, drinking the darkest beers and wines to prove my refined palate, finding the most obscure things to like just for the sake of being “interesting?” too much time, if you ask me. screw that nonsense!

those things don’t matter. they won’t bring meaningful people into my life. they won’t inspire me to be a better person. they won’t give me confidence or a sense of self-worth. they won’t allow me to get to know myself. they won’t encourage me to be authentic and genuine. they won’t teach me compassion, forgiveness, or acceptance. they won’t help me practice gratitude, contentment, or sacrifice.  they won’t reveal my strengths and weaknesses, or how to deal when life throws me curve balls. they won’t bless me or enrich my spirit. they won’t motivate positivity. they won’t let me relax.

but somewhere amongst those years i managed to wise up, drop the nonsense, and channel my energy into those things that do matter. at 30 i am more fulfilled than ever.

bobble head


this is the biggest my head has ever looked on my body

because they said i couldn’t, i proved to them i could. after 2 miserable months of anger-driven weight loss, the results are as follows:

initial weigh-in: january 6, 2014

129.2 lbs.

mid-competition weigh-in: february 6, 2014

121.3 lbs.

final weigh-in: march 6, 2014

111.6 lbs.

total loss

17.6 lbs./13.6% body weight

1st place


my rewards….my delicious rewards.


i got a few tips from some wrestler friends on how to cut weight by fluid reduction. holy moly! i had no idea how easy it is to shed water weight in so little time.

things are happening


i survived my first production summer.

one day i wrote about my unemployment anxieties and the very next week i get calls up the wazoo from people looking for a post coordinator.

five days, four interviews –> three offers.

it’s either feast or famine.

i ended up taking a sweet gig on a show premiering on nbc this fall called the blacklist, featuring one of hollywood’s best villains, james spader.

(ahem, tune in every monday night this fall following the voice. series premiere september 23.)

there’s a lot of pressure riding on the success of this show. it’s going to be an intense season. i ain’t gonna lie: i’m pretty friggin’ intimidated. but i love a good challenge.

bring. it. on.

lumpia shanghai

like many self-proclaimed foodies and home cooks, i. love. food.

i love eating it. i love cooking it. and most of all, i love feeding it to people.

ahem. i hate to toot my own horn (toot!), but boy do people love my cooking. especially boys.

a crowd favorite is my lumpia shanghai, the filipino meat-filled eggroll. growing up, my father was the cook of the household, but when it came to making lumpia shangai, both mom and dad tag-teamed those tasty little buggers. dad artistically prepared the meat filling and mom skillfully rolled them up (usually calling on my assistance). and that’s where my training began.

i was inspired by the flavors in my dad’s lumpia, but i never asked him for his recipe. instead, i came up with a recipe of my own that perfectly blends much of the asian ingredients you can find in your own pantry (or in the asian section of your local super market).


lumpia shanghai (yields about 40-45 rolls uncut)

2 lbs. of ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, or combo)

1/4 lb. shrimp (chopped to a chunky paste or food processed)

5 cloves of garlic (minced)

6 green onion (chopped)

2 medium  carrots (grated)

1/2  8 oz. can water chestnut (finely chopped)

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

2 teaspoons white pepper

2 packages of 8×8″ spring roll sheets (or any size is fine. get a few more packages if you go with the smaller). i use Pamana brand lumpia wrappers or Menlo brand wrappers.

make sure you defrost them for at least an hour before you start.

use a food processor to chop your garlic, green onions, carrots, and water chestnuts. or, if you’re gansta like me, hand chop that ish.

combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. this recipe takes a lot of hand work, so don’t be afraid to get your mitts in there and work all the ingredients together really well.

when you open up the package of wrappers, they will be stuck together. carefully separate each sheet before you get to work. if it’s your first rodeo, you’re guaranteed to tear a few, so it’s a good thing you got two packages.

have a small saucer of warm water or a beaten egg to seal the egg roll.

take 1-2 tablespoons of your meat mixture for each egg roll and start rolling:

when you’re ready to fry, cut each roll into thirds with a pair of kitchen scissors.

deep fry in vegetable oil until golden brown and place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil.

you will end up with way more lumpia than you can eat in one sitting (or will you?) (yeah, you will). so freeze the rest of the rolls for a later date.

serve with thai sweet chili sauce. i use Mae Ploy brand.

eat the heck outa that lumpia, son! enjoy.


serving suggestion

Day 03 — Your parents, in great detail

i have a writing prompt consisting of 30 topics to write about each day of one full month. i gave up trying to do it daily, but i use them every now and then. i wrote this last year, but i wanted to share it with some of my new friends and followers.

my father was born in san juan, metro manila, philippines of a chinese immigrant and a filipino native. he’s the 8th of 10 brothers and sisters (the first-born lived with his mother and two cousins are pictured along with the family above). at age 23, he came to the states by way of guam and served in the US army during the vietnam war. i’ve always described his demeanor as “so chinese.” often quiet and stoic, he masks his feelings of meaninglessness behind an underbitten smile. after 20-some-odd years of living under his roof, i realize i don’t know much about my father. every time i asked about his past, he would give me brief, diluted responses. i got a sense he was avoiding it because there were emotions he chose not to revisit or express. so i left it.

we had a tough relationship growing up. i longed for us to have the kind of father/daughter relationship i saw on tv — a father whose heart was softened by his little girl — but we just didn’t understand each other. i wanted him to be uplifting, supportive and compassionate. instead, he was critical, unsupportive and stone-hearted. he wanted me to be an obedient daughter who trusted and respected him. instead he got one who was rebellious and challenging. i always wanted to pick a fight. i thought if i was terrible enough he would somehow realize i was trying to get his attention, and then he’d magically be the kind of father i needed. he was never a violent man, but i once tested him to the point where he raised a hand at me. we were both prideful, but it took several years for the Lord to soften my heart and give me the wisdom and understanding to realize that in order for us to have any kind of civil relationship, i had to swallow my jagged pride and set aside all the anger i was harboring. i understand him more than i ever did before, so we have the most loving relationship we could possibly have now.

my mother grew up in pasay city, metro manila, philippines. as the only daughter of a moderately wealthy family, she was spoiled but restricted. she had a maid, a driver, and a seamstress who made her new clothes every week. everything she wanted was hers, except freedom. her brothers — who are 13 and 16 years older than she — kept a constant watchful eye on her. she always used to tell us how much she longed to join the girl scouts, but all her parents allowed her to do was buy their cookies. after graduating college, she decided to see what the states had to offer and moved in with her eldest brother in east hollywood (where 30 some-odd years later, i would find myself living on the exact same street).

a devoted catholic for most of her life, she became a born-again christian in the 80s and started taking us to a foursquare church. she raised us to be God-fearing children, but as i got older, her fundamentalism and conservative upbringing came head to head with my youthful desires to “rock out.” i went to church every sunday, was consistently involved in the church youth group and friday night bible studies, and yet late nights in hollywood attending phantom planet and yeah yeah yeahs shows (but not necessarily doing anything bad) still labeled me the black sheep of the family. i grew tired of my mother’s constant preaching to “save my soul” when my soul was never lost to begin with. everything she said reflected everything i disliked about southern baptist/conservative filipino beliefs, and i left her church. as some of you may have caught (if you pay any attention to my posts), i left her church, but never left the faith.

living away from my parents was the best thing for our relationship. it gave me a chance to step back and appreciate who they are without the dense fog our differences created. despite my mother’s annoying tendencies, the heart in this woman is incredible. she is the hardest-working, selfless, most loving and generous woman i have ever known. her inability to understand sarcasm and american idioms is one of the most endearing things about her, and when she tries to use them, it’s so hilarious that we all laugh until we’re red in the face.

for 2013

i covered the zombies on my tiny instruments

closet fangirl

this is what i see when patrick warburton smiles at me.

i work on the show rules of engagement, starring the actor behind my favorite spoof-superhero and cartoon bodyguard to super science family. having worked in entertainment for a few years now, i’ve had my fair share of celebrity sightings in and out of work, and i’ve always been very professional around the actors, respecting their privacy and their desire to be treated like a normal human being. so i’m usually good about keeping my cool, even when i’m a huge fan of a person’s work.

but c’mon. we’re talking brock samson here. i approached him for the first time at craft services. he was warming his sandwich, and i had 30 seconds to make something happen. i calmly and respectfully introduced myself, but not more than a moment passed before i melted into an awkward teen gushing about how big a fan i was of his work on the tick and the venture bros. since then, we’ve spoken a few times in passing…shared smiles…waves…a pair of salad tongs at the dinner line before last night’s shoot…but, you know, who’s counting? i’m trying really hard to keep it together, keep this fangirl closeted, and be one of his co-workers instead of one of his fans. but i just snuck a picture of him at today’s table read. the fangirl is muscling her way out.

announcement: i am a woman

things i thought were dumb 15 years ago:

  1. make-up
  2. crying
  3. kittens
  4. skirts/dresses
  5. sexy underwear
  6. boys
  7. scented lotions
  8.  jewlery
  9. home-making
  10. showering

that list today:

  1. make-up
  2. crying
  3. kittens
  4. skirts/dresses
  5. sexy underwear
  6. boys
  7. scented lotions
  8. jewelry
  9. home-making
  10. showering

as the only girl in the family, growing up with brothers wasn’t a tough thing to do if you thought you were a boy yourself. i remember having to look down at my clothes to verify my gender before walking into the appropriate bathroom (not that it mattered, anyway, since my tiny tomboyish frame was always dressed in boys clothes). but it was that confusing for me. at home, my brothers and i would wrestle, play in the mud, and collect comic books. at school, i would get into fights with boys, have burping contests, and talk about punching things because i thought i was a badass.

over time, hormones sanded my rough edges and a desire to be more socially accepted as a female made me refine my actions and demeanor. but emotions became more overwhelming than i had ever experienced at the time (probably ever). at 15, i remember being up at 5am, crying at an episode of saved by the bell on tbs. zack was perfect for kelly! why did she have to choose jeff over him?!

it was dumb then, and i still think it’s dumb now — crying, that is. but only because my emotions annoyingly bring me to tears way more than it did 15 years ago. crying is perfectly okay (and encouraged) when you have good reason to do it. and, let’s face it, boys are never not going to be dumb. so crying over some dumb thing a dumb boy did can be dumbfounding, but reasonable. just learn from it and don’t let that dumb boy do anything dumb to you again.

oh, and my love for home-making? well, that’s an entirely new thing that i just discovered. it’s funny how traditional gender roles developed organically in my last relationship. neither of us were expecting anything of the sort, but being a nurturer by nature(r), i found myself filling my time with making a clean/cute home, cooking dinners, cross-stitching and offering “my other” a beer after a long day’s work. he, in turn — because he was making that sweet cartoon money while i was on hiatus — took me out and picked up the bill without hesitation. don’t get me wrong; i wouldn’t quit my day job now that i have one (and i’m not looking to be taken care of), but i really enjoyed it at the time, and i could see myself being really happy doing that if i ever get tired of the workforce.

these days, i’ve noticed my interests changing. i just got into scented lotions. girls nights with whiskey (one manly exception), face masks and manicures appeal to me. i tell myself that i enjoy them like i enjoy a terrible nicholas cage movie: they’re so silly, how could you not? but underneath my semi-satirical view on hyper-femme activities is a real revelry of womanhood, and i’m finally embracing it. i do my nails. i get waxed. i enjoy sharing the intimate details of my relationships with my girlfriends. it’s liberating to finally come clean after all these years. i am a woman.