Doing Holidays Differently | President’s Day Weekend 2015

This year, we treated this Hallmark holiday differently. Except when have we ever done it normally? I think this is only the second time Ez and I have ever been together for Valentine’s Day, which some may think calls for an extravagant celebration. But Ez just returned from two weeks in North Carolina and I spent all of Valentine’s Day at a conference with my mentorship program. So there’s that.

We opted for some takeout and spending time at home with my family. Nothing fancy, just some Lucille’s BBQ, a cake from Albertson’s, and the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. Zach LaVine FTW – #GoBruins.

Saturday, February 14

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Candy on the outside, cake on the inside

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A feast for the family

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I look tired from a long day

Sunday, February 15

The weather was beautiful so we had to go for a hike. Thankfully, there are all kinds of websites with detailed descriptions about the hiking paths/trails in San Diego County. Modern Hiker pointed us to Cabrillo National Monument – Bayside Trail, which was an easy hike with gorgeous views. Parking was free (and a nightmare) due to the holiday weekend, but I’m sure that was the case almost anywhere. The fog started setting in because we came in the late afternoon, but the trip was still worth it.

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Cabrillo National Monument 

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Views from Point Loma

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Fog falling over Bayside Trail

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Monday, February 16

Thankfully, Ez had a long weekend so we grabbed some lunch and explored our city a bit. Ez chose Breakwater Brewing Company because it was a short walk from where we parked. Good thing it boasted 4 stars on Yelp! After a bomb lunch (and some Rasbiscus Mead), we took a stroll on the pier to digest.

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Lunch at Breakwater Brewing Company

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Restaurant decor

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Oceanside Pier

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Charlie the Pelican

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“Are you sure this is Winter?”

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I had an awesome time not getting dressed up for a fancy dinner in a crowded restaurant. Quality time with my family and partner-in-crime made for such a great Valentine’s Day/President’s Day Weekend. (But I still don’t know how to feel about two “holidays” in one weekend.) Local adventures can be just as fulfilling as traveling to far-off destinations. And I’m sure we’ll be frequenting Downtown Oceanside. The weather averages 70 degrees year-round so there is no excuse. Until next time!

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Baes in the Bay | Ladies Do Brunch

It’s been a while, friends! I’ve got some thangs in the works, but life hasn’t stopped and I haven’t stopped living it. Got a passion project coming soon and I think you’ll enjoy it :)

As life goes, impromptu trips are necessary. This past weekend, I hopped on a bus to the Bay to see a friend who was visiting from NYC. Yes, this seems a little extreme for a brief reunion, seeing as I’ll be in New York in 2 weeks. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this post-grad life, it’s that you should do anything and everything to maintain relationships that are important to you. Spending three days with fabulous, inspiring folks was beautiful, necessary, and refreshing. We caught up with each other and rolled with the punches, making plans on the fly.

Saturday morning cravings called for brunch. My tourist instincts sought out the best brunch in every single SF neighborhood and one of the girls chose the spot in Cole Valley: Zazie. We knew it was meant to be when a parking spot opened as we pulled up to the packed restaurant. A 45-minute wait with no reservation at noon on Saturday was reasonable enough.

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Zazie was this chic little french bistro with some outdoor seating, a handful of indoor seats, and a sweet garden patio in the back. The five of us were seated in the middle of the restaurant’s hustle and bustle.

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The place was lined with French production posters and artwork. High ceilings made for a comfortable, sunlit setting to meet up with friends.

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Ain’t no shame is Brunch Spirits! I had the Le Metro, which is Zazie’s signature champagne refresher finished off with real lavender. Great way to start off a weekend.

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A cup of delicious butternut squash soup helped me get acclimated to the SF chill–it was nice to get out of the SoCal heat for a while! The creative paper garnish was much appreciated.

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I did one St. Trop poached egg (wild smoked salmon, capers, and red onions), which was the perfect portion after starting with a drink and some soup. Everything was super nomz, but I’m no food critic–as evidenced by my choice of adjectives. Their choice of flatware rounded out the cozy, welcoming vibe.

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Catching up with these fierce womyn over brunch was amazing–and in the perfect setting! [Not to mention this place was built up by some powerful ladies as well!] We definitely felt grown discussing child-rearing techniques, cooking hacks, and career trajectories over brunch. Post-grad, who? Zazie serves brunch everyday (I know, right) from 8am-2pm. Definitely worth the stop, whether you’re a local or just visiting.

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Love these ladies!

Visiting happycakes :) | A Cupcake Wars Winner

You have probably never heard of Morehead City, North Carolina. I have only heard of Morehead City because my husband just so happens to live there. As a diehard LA resident, I was bored out of my mind visiting for two weeks… but they do have one claim to fame! happycakes :) [Okay, there are beautiful beaches. But like a true LA-native, I don’t actually like the beach.]

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happycakes :) is a young establishment, having won Season 9 of Cupcakes Wars in just their first year of existence. Needless to say, we had to stop in for a taste. You know I am not above overpriced desserts–or most novelty foods, for that matter. Ez and I got an espresso cinnamon sugar cupcake (Cupcake Wars winning flavor), a banana creme cupcake, and a huge chocolate chip cookie. 

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L: Espresso and cinnamon sugar | R: Banana creme

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Excited to dig in

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Everything was delicious! Moist cake and flavorful frosting that isn’t overbearingly sweet. We had to buy a box and share the love with Ez’s friends who hosted us for dinner. Two of these bad boys even journeyed across America so my roommate could try them. I brought them home in an attempt to alleviate our sadness from Crumbs closing

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Cute condiment station

This definitely lifted my spirits after hours cooped up in Ez’s apartment. It was nice to discover this gem tucked away in good ol’ Morehead City. Will have to go back sometime!

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Let the Birthdays Roll

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In the restroom at Blue Ribbon Rustic Kitchen

This weekend, I celebrated 24 years of life. With all the wedding madness, it was too much to plan anything big. I take a lot of opportunities to celebrate life daily (or at least weekly) so I didn’t see a need for a party or organized effort. I’m also doing the OC Heart Walk this weekend, which I am really excited about.

I spent the weekend in San Diego because of a work event. Rob came down with me on Friday and we had a bomb dinner at The Lion’s Share. I started drinking on an empty stomach so there was absolutely no time for food pics when dinner came out! After some starter salads, we opted for a few shared plates–beef wagyu satay, antelope sliders, and yellowtail tartare. All amazing! Had a couple of Jameson/ginger beers as well.

After dinner we met up with another friend TJ and his sister, who were also celebrating their birthdays in SD. They had a little pre-party and then got bottle service at Bar West in Pacific Beach. Rob and I didn’t stay too long, but it was nice to see them.

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I worked 9-5 on Saturday (my actual birthday), which wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. Kimi and Alex were super awesome and trekked to SD in the rain to party with lil ol’ me. After some drinks at the hotel bar, we got ready for dinner and headed over to Blue Ribbon Rustic Kitchen in Hillcrest. Again, BOMB. I had some pork belly and short ribs with celery puree. OMG. We walked across the street to a bar called Harvey Milk’s and had some birthday cake shots with dessert. We met some fun folks there and got our partying fix in for the night. [I swear I’m not getting old.]

After dinner and drinks, I just wanted to chill! So I ordered Lone Survivor in the hotel room for $18 -_- It was worth it! Super intense, graphic, and devastating in so many ways. I would say that we did a lot for my birthday! And I’m happy with how it turned out–had a ton of fun. Kimi and Alex are seriously the best for making that trip.

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I rounded out the humble festivities with my parents and dinner at home. Gotta thank them for these past 24 years. It was a nice change of pace not to do anything big this year. Maybe next year I’ll use my quarter-century celebration as an excuse to get crazy again.

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Yes, we get our birthday every year. But if you’re not constantly celebrating life, then by all means, use it an excuse to have an extravagant birthday party. Bring folks together who you don’t regularly see, but love nonetheless. Do what you want on your birthday! Life is beautiful and to see another year is even better. Thank you to everyone who has shared this 24-year journey with me. I’m looking forward to more adventures and life-long learning.

Made by my cousin, Kelsay!

Made by my cousin, Kelsay!

Recap: Natural History Museum

Last week, Katrina was in town so naturally, we had to seek some adventures. Even after living in LA for 4+ years, there are so many staples we haven’t gotten around to. Originally, we intended on seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavour, but much to our embarrassment, that is not found at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. [Yes, we had several conversations over the course of two days about seeing the space shuttle and concurrently visiting the Natural History Museum. And yes, we wondered why on earth a space shuttle would be transported all the way to SoCal only to be housed with dinosaurs and shit. And yes, we have UCLA degrees. It just never clicked. At least we have another adventure planned for her next trip to LA!]

While I’m not big on animals and earthy things, I do like to make my way through the quintessential LA spots. Plus, there is always fun to be had and lessons to be learned in new experiences–like finding out a space shuttle would not be in a natural history museum.

We saw everything from dinosaur bones and fossils to live rats, huge ants, and snake skins. There was even a tortoise for guests to check out up close. Essentially I learned that the world is super old and all kinds of crazy things have walked this planet. Also, humans are messing everything up. A 2-hour visit, Aloha Hour at Roy’s, and Bottega Louie later, it turned out to be a wonderful LA fix. Get out there and live your lives… you can do it locally, ya know!

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Dino Selfies

Dino Selfies

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$6 cocktails during Aloha Hour

$6 cocktails during Aloha Hour

Best macarons in life

Best macarons in life

 

 

 

 

 

Glimpses of the Philippines – Coconuts

I spent 12 days in the Philippines with Ezrael and his family this past holiday season. While I’d love to recount every single moment for you, I’m sure you’d get bored… so let’s go with some glimpses!

Coconuts were introduced to the Philippines in 1642 as a colonial crop. Coconuts account for 26% of the total agricultural land in the PI. There are about 340 million coconut-bearing trees and 68 out of 79 provinces are coconut areas. For more coconut facts and historical perspective, check out the Philippine Coconut Authority. Yes, that’s a thing! It is managed by the Philippine Department of Agriculture.

Ez’s dad had a bunch of coconuts picked to make buko juice and buko pandan (a refreshing Filipino dessert). He also chopped up a couple with a machete so we could drink the fresh juice – check out the pics below!

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Coconuts make popular souvenirs, some of which I came across in the marketplace. We hunted for some souvenirs in Greenhills, which was a huge shopping center with boutique mall shops, restaurants, and stalls upon stalls in a flea market setup. You could bargain for anything from electronics to fake designers purses, clothing, home goods, and souvenirs. In one stall, I tried my skills at bargaining in Tagalog (“tawad”) and came away with quite a few pieces to set up in my apartment. My favorite piece has to be the fused coconut shells seen below, which make a wonderful platter for candies or snacks. On the top, you see pastillas (made from sugar and milk with different flavors), boat tarts on the left, and Choc-Nut candy on the right. Coconuts are a huge industry in the Philippines so it’s nice to have brought a piece of that back with me.

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A happy new year would be full of blogging.

If I was the New Year’s Resolution-type, I might say that I would like to blog consistently and record my life more overall.

Maybe I am the New Year’s Resolution-type and I just haven’t decided yet. It’s only January! Am I the only person who thinks it’s acceptable to greet people “Happy New Year” the first time you see them during the year, even though January 1st has passed? I swear, I’ll show up to meetings and gatherings giving out well wishes for the new year like it’s nobody’s business… even if it’s already February. The year is 365 days! At what point is it not “new” anymore?

Until I figure out this whole Plan of Action I’ve been meaning to work on since last summer… I’m just going to leave this photo here. This was taken on the last day of my recent trip to the Philippines. [Perhaps I should join that resolution bandwagon.]

The view from my parents-in-law's bedroom window

The view from my parents-in-law’s bedroom window