(Well, it all started out as a food blog.............)
Little Escapes: Staying at Home on a Gorgeous Day
Such a beautiful day today! It is sunny but cool. The shade in my tiny backyard looks so inviting.
I feel guilty for staying home. I should really be doing something today. Maybe I should visit the Rose Garden, or to go a sunny cafe to read, or maybe go window-shopping at the neighborhood boutiques, or get my nails done. Maybe I should go to the City to do a neighborhood stroll on the places on my list like Northbeach.
But I love to stay home. I love my cozy and tidy house. I enjoy hanging out with my cat. I have my books, kindle and movies. I have plenty of snacks from Trader Joe’s as well as a good supply of teas and wine.
And best of all, I love being in my pj’s. If I could wear pj’s to work and everywhere, I would. 
Well, it is a lovely Saturday all to myself. My guy is working. So far I have finished cleaning the house, taken a nice shower,  been blogging, eaten a snack from Trader Joe’s, been enjoying a glass of wine while in my pj’s. I am actually having fun! Okay, it is Saturday. I will just enjoy it as I please.
HAPPY SATURDAY!
04.19.14, Oakland
(Photo: Sunflowers that I picked up from Trader Joe’s last Thursday. They are now making my house bright and happy. Sunflowers are among my favorite flowers.)

Little Escapes: Staying at Home on a Gorgeous Day

Such a beautiful day today! It is sunny but cool. The shade in my tiny backyard looks so inviting.

I feel guilty for staying home. I should really be doing something today. Maybe I should visit the Rose Garden, or to go a sunny cafe to read, or maybe go window-shopping at the neighborhood boutiques, or get my nails done. Maybe I should go to the City to do a neighborhood stroll on the places on my list like Northbeach.

But I love to stay home. I love my cozy and tidy house. I enjoy hanging out with my cat. I have my books, kindle and movies. I have plenty of snacks from Trader Joe’s as well as a good supply of teas and wine.

And best of all, I love being in my pj’s. If I could wear pj’s to work and everywhere, I would. 

Well, it is a lovely Saturday all to myself. My guy is working. So far I have finished cleaning the house, taken a nice shower,  been blogging, eaten a snack from Trader Joe’s, been enjoying a glass of wine while in my pj’s. I am actually having fun! Okay, it is Saturday. I will just enjoy it as I please.

HAPPY SATURDAY!

04.19.14, Oakland

(Photo: Sunflowers that I picked up from Trader Joe’s last Thursday. They are now making my house bright and happy. Sunflowers are among my favorite flowers.)

19th of Apr 2014 •   Comments
Little Blessings #4: The Unexpected Gift of Friendship
When I was younger, it was all about being popular. As I get older, I realize that it is not about how many people who want to be associated with you, but how many real friends will stick around when you need them.  Distance and busyness of life have nothing to do with the bond of friendship - because loyal friends would look those life inconveniences straight in the eye — to be there for you in happy moments, or darkest days of your life.
I have less friends now but the ones that I have are the ones for life, and hopefully the ones I will grow old with.
And as I get older, I also realized that it is harder to establish strong friendships that are not based on partying, clubbing and gossips. True friends are becoming more of a rare find — but once you found one, you have found an unmatched wealth.
K is one of those friends who came later. What makes it more unusual was I was her boss for years. For years we developed a closeness that was grounded on professionalism and mutual respect. Now we are equals. I am no longer her supervisor and we do not have a work protocol to follow. She says that she learned a lot from me and that I am her mentor. Being over a decade and half older than me, I am the one who is learning a lot from her maturity and life experiences. And she continues to stay despite not really having to  see me anymore. People often say that they will keep in touch but made good with her words.  Despite everything she makes time to keep me posted about life in general. And I, in return, am always happy to hear from her and see her again.
So, today we met up for lunch and shared a pot of ginger tea. I just realized that I am blessed to find another real friend in this world of superficial relationships.
*100 Little Blessings — The challenge is to notice little joys everyday and to say a prayer of thanks for life’s little blessings.

04.18.14 San Francisco

Little Blessings #4: The Unexpected Gift of Friendship

When I was younger, it was all about being popular. As I get older, I realize that it is not about how many people who want to be associated with you, but how many real friends will stick around when you need them.  Distance and busyness of life have nothing to do with the bond of friendship - because loyal friends would look those life inconveniences straight in the eye — to be there for you in happy moments, or darkest days of your life.

I have less friends now but the ones that I have are the ones for life, and hopefully the ones I will grow old with.

And as I get older, I also realized that it is harder to establish strong friendships that are not based on partying, clubbing and gossips. True friends are becoming more of a rare find — but once you found one, you have found an unmatched wealth.

K is one of those friends who came later. What makes it more unusual was I was her boss for years. For years we developed a closeness that was grounded on professionalism and mutual respect. Now we are equals. I am no longer her supervisor and we do not have a work protocol to follow. She says that she learned a lot from me and that I am her mentor. Being over a decade and half older than me, I am the one who is learning a lot from her maturity and life experiences. And she continues to stay despite not really having to  see me anymore. People often say that they will keep in touch but made good with her words.  Despite everything she makes time to keep me posted about life in general. And I, in return, am always happy to hear from her and see her again.

So, today we met up for lunch and shared a pot of ginger tea. I just realized that I am blessed to find another real friend in this world of superficial relationships.

*100 Little Blessings — The challenge is to notice little joys everyday and to say a prayer of thanks for life’s little blessings.

04.18.14 San Francisco

18th of Apr 2014 •   Comments
Little Blessings #3:
Delicious healthy lunch that I did not have to pay for — Specialty’s Chicken Caesar Salad and Double Chocolate Chip Cookie provided by work during our meeting.
04.17.14, San Francisco
*100 Little Blessings — The challenge is to notice little joys everyday and to say a prayer of thanks for life’s little blessings.

Little Blessings #3:

Delicious healthy lunch that I did not have to pay for — Specialty’s Chicken Caesar Salad and Double Chocolate Chip Cookie provided by work during our meeting.

04.17.14, San Francisco

*100 Little Blessings — The challenge is to notice little joys everyday and to say a prayer of thanks for life’s little blessings.

17th of Apr 2014 •   Comments

Gabriel García Márquez, Literary Pioneer, Dies at 87

My most favorite author in the world passed away today, April 17, 2014, in Mexico City.

It was such a privilege to be privy to the mind of this literary genius through his writings — One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Love in the Time of Cholera.

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I stayed up all night just devouring his books, and the magic has stayed with me way after I finished the last page.

Few years ago, while visiting Cartagena, Colombia, I was so thrilled when our tour guide pointed out Mr Marquez’ home to us. It was the closest I could ever be to one of the people that I admire in this life.

May your solitude lasts forever, Mr. García Márquez.

(Photo found on Google Image)

17th of Apr 2014 •   Comments
Little Blessings #2: A good night’s sleep and  hot shower — the beautiful refreshing feeling of warm water on my skin when I wake in the morning and after a long day of work.
(A sudden realization after my water heater broke for one night and I badly wanted a warm shower.)
04.16.14, Oakland *Boutique near my house on College Ave, Rockridge
*100 Little Blessings — The challenge is to notice little joys everyday and to say a prayer of thanks for life’s little blessings.

Little Blessings #2: 
A good night’s sleep and  hot shower — the beautiful refreshing feeling of warm water on my skin when I wake in the morning and after a long day of work.

(A sudden realization after my water heater broke for one night and I badly wanted a warm shower.)

04.16.14, Oakland *Boutique near my house on College Ave, Rockridge

*100 Little Blessings — The challenge is to notice little joys everyday and to say a prayer of thanks for life’s little blessings.

16th of Apr 2014 •   Comments
Quiet Tuesday
Highlight of this day: A serene lunch at Burmese Kitchen at 3 pm. Many cups of hot Burmese tea, lentil and brown rice and pumpkin stew while reading “Catching Fire” on my Kindle brought calmness to my day.
Little Blessings #1: Soothing cups of hot Burmese Tea and the garden at work that I hardly visit.
*100 Little Blessings — The challenge is to notice little joys everyday and to say a prayer of thanks for life’s little blessings.
04.15.14, San Francisco

Quiet Tuesday

Highlight of this day: A serene lunch at Burmese Kitchen at 3 pm. Many cups of hot Burmese tea, lentil and brown rice and pumpkin stew while reading “Catching Fire” on my Kindle brought calmness to my day.

Little Blessings #1: Soothing cups of hot Burmese Tea and the garden at work that I hardly visit.

*100 Little Blessings — The challenge is to notice little joys everyday and to say a prayer of thanks for life’s little blessings.

04.15.14, San Francisco

15th of Apr 2014 •   Comments
Monday Morning Pumpkin Muffin from Market Hall, Rockridge (Oakland)


I usually refuse to eat anything pumpkin unless it is Fall or Winter, but sometimes it is fun to break my own rules! The pumpkin muffin at Market Hall Rockridge was yummy! It was freshly baked this morning from scratch and it reminded me of Fall — my favorite season of the year!
Happy Monday! 
04.14.14, Oakland
[Personal Notes]

Monday Morning Pumpkin Muffin from Market Hall, Rockridge (Oakland)

I usually refuse to eat anything pumpkin unless it is Fall or Winter, but sometimes it is fun to break my own rules! The pumpkin muffin at Market Hall Rockridge was yummy! It was freshly baked this morning from scratch and it reminded me of Fall — my favorite season of the year!

Happy Monday!

04.14.14, Oakland

[Personal Notes]

14th of Apr 2014 •   Comments
Pretty Things: EGG: Exciting Good + Goodies (Philippines)
When I went back to visit Manila last year, I fell in love with EGG. It is a store that sells the cutest stuff — tablet and cell phone covers, travel tags, pretty pouches, etc.
I was so excited that I just started grabbing all kinds of stuff for myself and my girls. I got a cover for my Kindle and recently, I got a new Samsung S4. I badly needed something to protect it then I remembered the stuff I got from EGG.
All my girlfriends love their make up purses and phone pouches as well - in polka dots and pastels. When the staff overheard that I was planning to give the items as presents, they just gave me a bunch of store paper pouch to put them in. Even the paper pouches were so cute — no need to wrap the presents, I just wish I knew where I put them.
I use my Kindle and cell phone pouches every single day, and use the travel tag for my train card. They remind me of the PI and just make me happy. Simple joys.
I am dreaming of visiting the PI again just so I can shop at EGG once again.

Pretty Things: EGG: Exciting Good + Goodies (Philippines)

When I went back to visit Manila last year, I fell in love with EGG. It is a store that sells the cutest stuff — tablet and cell phone covers, travel tags, pretty pouches, etc.

I was so excited that I just started grabbing all kinds of stuff for myself and my girls. I got a cover for my Kindle and recently, I got a new Samsung S4. I badly needed something to protect it then I remembered the stuff I got from EGG.

All my girlfriends love their make up purses and phone pouches as well - in polka dots and pastels. When the staff overheard that I was planning to give the items as presents, they just gave me a bunch of store paper pouch to put them in. Even the paper pouches were so cute — no need to wrap the presents, I just wish I knew where I put them.

I use my Kindle and cell phone pouches every single day, and use the travel tag for my train card. They remind me of the PI and just make me happy. Simple joys.

I am dreaming of visiting the PI again just so I can shop at EGG once again.

14th of Apr 2014 •   Comments
Food and Friendship: Clover Chips and Dried Herring
Yummy Filipino treats from BFF! I remember eating Clover Chips when I was a kid in the Philippines. I haven’t had these chips in decades!  And I am looking forward to eating the dried herring with hot steaming sinangag (garlic rice) one of these days! YUMS!
Thanks, Heather! xoxo
 04.10.14

Food and Friendship: Clover Chips and Dried Herring

Yummy Filipino treats from BFF! I remember eating Clover Chips when I was a kid in the Philippines. I haven’t had these chips in decades!  And I am looking forward to eating the dried herring with hot steaming sinangag (garlic rice) one of these days! YUMS!

Thanks, Heather! xoxo

 04.10.14

13th of Apr 2014 •   Comments
Girls Tea Date: Leland Tea Company (SF)
04.10.14
[Personal Notes]
Photo Credit: Heather Z

Girls Tea Date: Leland Tea Company (SF)

04.10.14

[Personal Notes]

Photo Credit: Heather Z

13th of Apr 2014 •   Comments

Girls Afternoon Tea Date

Leland Tea Company (SF)

04.10.2014, Thursday, Warm and Sunny

Many Bay Area folks would admit to having a torrid love affair with brunch. Not only do I hate brunch, I prefer afternoon tea. If I had the luxury of time and tons of dollars, I will make sure to indulge in afternoon teas everyday, and dress up for it. 

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An elaborate afternoon tea with pretty teapots and delicate cups, and dainty little cakes and tea sandwiches is magical. And afternoon teas are just always so pretty.

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Since I cannot have that every single day, what I can have, though, at any time of the day is a cup of tea. Even one single hot cup that warms my hands and my body is so healing.

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Tea tells me that it is okay to stop for a moment. To have a perfect few minutes in this chaotic world. Tea brings me serenity and joy.

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Tea, when shared with a good friend, enables us to let go of whatever is in our heart. That is the magic of tea. No demands. You can just be quiet or laugh or reminisce or share your worries. Being in a company of a good friend over tea, you feel like that you have everything you need — warmth, friendship and being cared for.

My BFF, Heather, treated me to an afternoon tea at Leland Tea Company. Leland Tea is a casual tea shop.

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The decor was quirky and nostalgic. It reminds me of the rolling 20s and bygone eras.

Our tea set came with a choice of two teas, two tea sandwiches and pastries. I really enjoyed the house black tea. I wish I knew what it was but it was aromatic and pleasantly strong. Heather and I shared the little salmon sandwiches, cucumber tea sandwiches, madeleines and scones.  The sandwiches were lovely but I was not impressed with the pastries.

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Our tea was simple but pretty as expected.

It was a short but sweet break. Heather and I met up during our lunch break. However, with the lovely tea and equally lovely company, I went back to work happy and feeling blessed for being given such a great friend.

Thanks for the lovely treat, Heather!

xoxo

13th of Apr 2014 •   Comments

Date Night: Ikaros Greek (Oakland)

04.05.14

Greek food coma! 

It has been a long time since I have eaten this much to the point where I felt like I was going to burst. I guess it is because at the back of our head, Mediterranean diet is really a “healthy” diet. Well, of course, if you gorge yourself like we did, it really defeats the purpose.

The truth is  we ate so much because the food at Ikaros Greek is just really good. This has been our second time here, and both dinners did not disappoint.

We had:

  • Ikaros Fries (fries topped with feta cheese) $5.50
  • Pita Bread with 3 Dips: Hummus, Melitzanosalata  (roasted whipped eggplant with lemon and olive oil), Tirokafteri (spicy feta spread, with hot peppers, olive oil and spices). $15.50
  • Souvlaki Combo served on a platter family style: 9 skewers of Pork, Chicken and Lamb skewers. $40.50
  • A glass of very nice full-bodied Greek red wine suggested by our server. $9

                                    $93 (including tax and tip)

We really did not need the last lamb skewer that I took it to go and had it for lunch with rice the next day. Everything was delicious! Our server was very attentive and even gave us 2 slices of toasted bread to finish off our dips. The meats were tender and flavorful.

 Ikaros’ menu is extensive and there are so many more Greek food goodness that we want to try.  The place is open,casual and fun. The decor is nautical with  blue walls and Greek statues on  display.

We rolled ourselves out of Ikaros and went for a stroll on Grand Ave. We ended up buying truffles at the chocolate boutique next door, Michael Misher.  Another fun date night!

♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡  I Love It!

PS Parking here is horrible! We almost went somewhere else when we circled around 5 times until we lucked out in the parking lot at the back of Ikaros.

12th of Apr 2014 •   Comments
Serendipity:
You forgot to grab an oatmeal packet before you left home for work, then you walk into your building and there is a breakfast spread for staff. Grabbed me some blueberry muffin, banana nut muffin and Starbucks. Thank God for life’s little surprises.
Happy Friday!

04.04.14, San Francisco

Serendipity:

You forgot to grab an oatmeal packet before you left home for work, then you walk into your building and there is a breakfast spread for staff. Grabbed me some blueberry muffin, banana nut muffin and Starbucks. Thank God for life’s little surprises.

Happy Friday!

04.04.14, San Francisco

11th of Apr 2014 •   Comments

Date Night/Sweet Cravings: Michael Mischer Chocolates (Oakland)

Saturday, 04.05.14 @ 8:30 pm

Happening upon Michael Mischer Chocolates was another happy serendipitious date night.

When we walked into Michael Mischer after a delicous Greek dinner on Grand Ave, I did not expect to find a very chic and high-end chocolate shop. There were cool paintings on the wall. The red walls and bistro tables look more like a Parisian boudoir than a neighborhood shop in Oakland.

Truffles of many mouthwatering flavors were individually displayed on  little plates: champagne, Kentucky Bourbon, lavender and honey, marzipan, salted caramel, etc. And exotic flavored chocolate bars like Spiced Mango Chocolate were on the counters calling my name….

[Personal Notes]

♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ I Love My Chocolates!

6th of Apr 2014 •   Comments

Date Night: Tribune Tavern (Oakland)

04.2014, Stormy and Gloomy Afternoon

Here is the link to our 1st visit in 2013.

It was cold and wet out there, and we were super-lazy.  I did not even want to dress up for date night. I just wanted to wear stretchy yoga pants, sweatshirt and running shoes. We thought that Tribune Tavern’s casual ambiance would be the perfect place to get some comfort food without having to dress up for it.

We have been to Tribune Tavern before but on a nice sunny afternoon. We dined al fresco. We thought that with the restaurant’s open space, it might get pretty cold. However, when we got there, it was warm, festive and loud — just like how a tavern should be except this one is not your traditional tavern. What Tribune Tavern really serves is New American cuisine.

These were what we ordered:

  • A glass of Zinfandel which was not full-bodied enough for me but drinkable enough for $6 which is Happy Hour price.
  • Guilty Fries $17 (beer, cheese fondue and pulled pork) for the BF. Just the thought of this combo made me shiver. I did not even want try it.
  • Barbecue Chicken Wings $12 for the BF as well.
  • Buckwheat Polenta $12 with asparagus, English peas, slow cooked egg for me.
  • A side of fries and aioli $6 for me.
  • Walnut Chocolate Pudding with ice cream and caramel sauce $7. We usually do not order dessert but we wanted to linger. This dessert was okay.

VERDICT:

It was a very enjoyable meal. We enjoyed the party-like but not rowdy ambiance that brought a little excitement in our otherwise lazy Saturday afternoon.

My guy loved his Guilty Fries but his chicken wings stayed in the fryer few minutes too long— making them slightly over-fried. My Crispy Polenta dish would have been fabulous. The polenta was hot, flavorful and crispy while the veggies were very fresh and crisp. However, the Sriracha sauce ruined this dish. It should have been served with some white sauce instead.

We still like this place and we will be back again for lesser guilt California comfort food.

HISTORY:

By the way, I love this building’s history. Not only was it the former home of Oakland’s newspaper — The Oakland Tribune,  a lot of the character of the building was retained by new resident as well, thank God.

My most favorite trivia, though, was in 1923, Harry Houdini did one of his escapist acts from the building’s 9th floor. How’s that for history?!

                                                  $90 

                                    (including tax and tip)

♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ Not as great as the first time but we still liked it!

6th of Apr 2014 •   Comments