"Instructions For A Broken Heart"

image

A Book Review

Fly to Italy. No airfare required.

I truly enjoyed reading “Instructions for a Broken Heart because it unexpectedly brought me back to Italy.

As I was reading this book, it  transformed me into the unforgettable Italian cities that I visited on my trip almost 10 years ago. I got so lost in the story that I forgot that I was on a commute train to San Francisco.  I could almost see and hear the sights and sounds of Italy. I could see the breathtaking rolling hills  of the town of Assisi and feel the warm Umbrian sun as I was having my first taste of thick European chocolate; while I was sitting at a café with the medieval castles towering in the distance.

And once again, I saw the younger version of myself eating a gelato after a whole day of touring the Vatican in Rome.  It was such a delight to unexpectedly remember that trip as if it I just yesterday when I went.

Read More

100 Happy Moments
    #18. Football Season!
I just love football season! My parents forgot to call me (even though they said they did!) for us to go to church together and have brunch afterwards. I felt bad at first for being the only member of my family (well, including the BF) who was not able to go to church then brunch later.  They were blowing up my phone to drive down to San Jo to meet them for brunch but I decided to stay home.
But it was all good since I had a little bit of “me time” and able to enjoy watching Niners vs. Chargers with my kitty. (The BF was out and about.) I was badly craving cheese and crackers but since I have a work presentation tomorrow, I couldn’t. (I am lacto — major life fail.) I settled for smoked salmon instead on toasted bagel and a  glass (okay, two) of nice Pinot Noir.  It was so funny that my kitty would not leave me alone until it occurred to me  that he was eyeing the salmon. He is a nice kitty and not a thief — he left after a while to satisfy himself on kitty crunchies.
Here’s to a great football season! 7-21! GO NINERS!!!!
08. 24. 14

100 Happy Moments

    #18. Football Season!

I just love football season! My parents forgot to call me (even though they said they did!) for us to go to church together and have brunch afterwards. I felt bad at first for being the only member of my family (well, including the BF) who was not able to go to church then brunch later.  They were blowing up my phone to drive down to San Jo to meet them for brunch but I decided to stay home.

But it was all good since I had a little bit of “me time” and able to enjoy watching Niners vs. Chargers with my kitty. (The BF was out and about.) I was badly craving cheese and crackers but since I have a work presentation tomorrow, I couldn’t. (I am lacto — major life fail.) I settled for smoked salmon instead on toasted bagel and a  glass (okay, two) of nice Pinot Noir.  It was so funny that my kitty would not leave me alone until it occurred to me  that he was eyeing the salmon. He is a nice kitty and not a thief — he left after a while to satisfy himself on kitty crunchies.

Here’s to a great football season! 7-21! GO NINERS!!!!

08. 24. 14

100 Blessings

     15.  Beautiful Moments With My Parents

(Sleepover At My House And Exploring San Francisco)

During the last week, our home life has revolved around getting ready for my parents’ 3 day visit at my house. The BF was such a trooper— not only did he stay until 3 am on Saturday morning painting the bathroom, slept for 5 hours then continued painting again.  Then he graciously gave me space to really enjoy my parents by staying at his family’s house for 3 days. It was one of the most beautiful presents that he has given me.

It was not like the house was a mess. The truth is I am such a neat-freak and slightly OCD. I am just so excited that my mom and dad are staying at my house for 3 days.

Here are the highlights of their visit:

  • DAY 1: Took my parents shopping at Cost Plus at Jack London Square after I picked them up from my sister’s house in San Jose. Mom went crazy-shopping.
  • Mom and dad finally got to eat the jook, rice rolls and chinese broccoli that they have been craving for at Gum Kuo at Oakland Chinatown.
  • Took them to my house. All the hard work paid off. They commented  that my house is clean and looked beautiful. [Words that I wanted to hear from my parents. :) ] Of course, this did not prevent my mom from cleaning my house all over again! Like mother, like daughter = neat freaks!
  • DAY 2: My parents slept in until almost 9 am which they rarely do.  They said they slept soundly and comfortably.
  • Pancakes and  omelette  breakfast at Black Bear Diner in Emeryville. My mom really loved the veggie omelette and hashbrowns.
  • A quick stop at the Golden Gate Windmill for my mom who loves flowers.
  • Hiking at Ocean Beach with my parents. My dad was really pleased with himself for walking all the way to the Golden Gate lookout.
  • A quick lunch of hot chocolate and bagel, goat cheese and lox at the gift shop while having a breathtaking view of Sutro baths. My parents enjoyed browsing through the history of this part of San Francisco.
  • Nap time for the parents at around 2pm who wanted to go home first. I had this genuis idea of taking them to the Alamo Park — home of the Painted Ladies. (Remember Full House?) I let them sleep for an hour while I went strolling, woke them up, took a couple of pics then off we went to the next destination.
  • Took my parents shopping at TJ Maxx at SoMA. Mom went crazy shopping again!
  • Had to scratch off Japan Town on the list for dinner. Dinner of tempura and salmon sashimi at Shimizu Sushi — a neighborhood Japanese restaurant.
  • Parents were pleased and happy with our San Francisco adventures.
  • DAY 3: Dad and I picked up a box of pastries at Rockridge and ate it at home for breakfast over tea and coffee.
  • Spent the day at Oakland Chinatown buying bazillion dim sum which they took back to my sister’s house in San Jose.
  • Late lunch at 3 pm of hamburger, fries and onion rings at Barney’s on Piedmont. Dad was craving “good burger” not fast food. He enjoyed the burger and finished half while my mom and i just watched. We were still too full from breakfast!
  • A quick stop at Trader Joes for cheese (dad), strawberry mochi (baby nephew) and sunflowers (for me).
  • Brought my parents back to San Jose. I was exhausted but super-happy. Passed out when I got home.

Such a long TMI post but I want to always remember these days. Being able to spend these 3 days with my parents is such a rare treat. To be able to  enjoy my parents in their old age is one of the biggest blessings of my life, and I treasure every moment.

Afternoon Tea with Heather at Tara Y Tara

Tara Y Tara Tea Shoppe (San Francisco)

BFF Heather and I had a tea date at TYT. Neither of us had been here before. Located in a residential Richmond neighborhood in San Francisco, this place is hard to miss because of the handsome horse that is guarding the door.

image

Tara Y Tara is probably going to be the most unusual afternoon tea venue that I will ever visit. You will never suspect that inside a polo store  is a cozy tea shoppe. It is almost like a setting for a British children’s magic picture book in an equestrian setting.

image

The tea shoppe is located in the back of the store. It was old world and posh  with a huge dark wood fireplace.  There is even an antique coffee truck inside the store that adds to the chaotic fairy tale look.

image

The tea shoppe itself  is dark but warm and cozy.

image

BFF Heather generously treated me to an afternoon tea. She had a Groupon. (We both love Groupon! It enables us to discover new fun places and for a less!) 

We had the Prince William and Lady Katherine Tea Service for Two  ($54 regular price)

image

  •   Pot of tea for two
  •   Scottish shortbread cookies
  •   Classic motorloaf sandwiches
  •   Choice of two homemade scones with Devonshire cream and jam
  •   Two salads

Our teapots even came in tea cozies. I had the Strawberry Black Tea while Heather had the Breakfast Tea. My tea was delicious with milk and sugar!

image

Heather had the Mixed Spring Greens with country vinaigrette while I had the  Tal-y-Tara Wedge Salad with bleu cheese and peppered bacon.

image

And finally, we got to try the Motorloaf which is a hollowed-out loaf of bread.  Bread slices from the loaf are  filled with meats and spread, and put back inside the loaf crusts. Our dainty tea sandwich selections were  ham, turkey, egg salad, watercress and cucumber, and salmon and cream cheese. The lightly sweetened bread added to the deliciousness of the little sandwiches.

image

The food was plentiful and Heather and I were both stuffed! We had to take our scones with devonshire cream and jams to go (which we both enjoyed that weekend!)

image

Notes On Friendship:

The tea itself was wonderful but it was really being with Heather that made the afternoon very enjoyable. Afternoon teas with her are among my most favorite memories. They are special moments of really enjoying our friendship. Tea time is our time to finally let our hair down for a little bit, let go of worries by talking about them, cry a little (sometimes), laugh a lot… After many cups of tea, I always leave the place smiling and feeling a little lighther. And I think she feels the same way as well.

Thanks for the delicious afternoon tea treat, wonderful and relaxing afternoon and being the best BFF ever! xoxo

Like!  ♡ 

08.016.14, Wednesday @ 1pm

Date Night at Belly Uptown

 Belly Uptown (Oakland)

image

I was tempted to leave my review at this to make everyone drool. Just kidding. That’s naughty of me.

Belly is a great find! 

image

The menu is small focusing on “The Art of Street Tacos” and burgers. It is located in the middle of Uptown neighborhood in Oakland surrounded by new condos.

image

The place is bright and contemporary but also warm and cute. . Everything is sparkling and new inside and the service is very friendly.

image

We ordered:

  • Mine: UPTOWN BURGER $11

Grilled Patty, Grilled Red Onions, Bleu Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Garlic Aioli

  • BF: BELLY BURGER $11
House Marinated Patty, Red Onion Tempura, Sauteed Mushrooms, Cheddar Cheese, House Pickled Cucumbers, Garlic Aioli, Kimchi Aioli
  • 2 orders of TRUFFLE FRIES $6
The burgers look alike so I am only posting one picture.
CHECK: $48 including tip and two sodas

VERDICT:

I only eat burgers about 1-2x a year. (Last time on record was 8/24/13 @ Umami). I know I had sneaked in a slider or two here and there. Bottom line is Belly is a winner in my book! Next time I decide to eat a burger again, Belly is a very likely possibility. The burgers were very juicy and the bun was soft. Next I will go for the regular fries instead. The truffle fries were just okay.  (I like True Burger and Umami as well.) And next time, I will definitely have to try Belly’s “Art of Street Tacos.”

image

Love! 

07.26.14, Saturday

Date Night at Athineon (Berkeley)

 Athineon (Berkeley)

The BF and I try new restaurants every Saturday night. And in the  Bay Area where there are thousands of places to eat, it is fun to play this foodie game.

Despite our resolve to not go to the same restaurant twice, Athineon is one place I really want to go back to. I am salivating just thinking about it right now.

image

Athineon is not just a great find but a total gem. It is a cozy little Greek restaurant in Berkeley. On a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon, the restaurant was cheerful and bright with  whimsical sea blue walls and Mediterranean decor. A Greek-speaking grandma was working in the kitchen.

image

We started off with Mykono Platter $13: 4 Different dips of Hummus, Melitzanosalata, Tzatziki, & Tirokafteri w/ Pita. The pita breads were warm and plentiful.

image

Now this is the reason why I want to go back:  BRAISED LAMB SHANK!  $19 Braised in wine sauce, served over rice and came with a generous plate of green salad. This lamb was soooo tender and tasty that I still remember it to this day! The portion was huge that I enjoyed the leftovers as well.

image

SPARTAN GYRO $13: Touted as the biggest sandwich in town with Gyro and Souvlaki combined, my guy was pretty disappointed with the size. It was not really all that big compared to many manwiches in the Bay Area (Hello, Ike’s Place!)

image

Despite being stuffed and going home with leftovers, I could not resist taking a honey-drizzled Baklava $4 to go! So heavenly!

$75 including  a glass of Retsina $9 (traditional Greek wine which was just  okay), iced tea and tip

NOTES TO SELF:

  • Go back and order Braised Lamb again.
  • Try the Sex Cake. (It’s described as warm chocolate cake drizzled with more chocolate and whipped cream. I ‘m not kidding!)

Love! 

06.28.14, Saturday

Saturday In My Kitchen:

Tri-Color Pasta With Prawns, Fresh Tomatoes, Blood Orange EVOO, Parmesan-Romano and Fresh Lemon-Thyme

Rare Saturday where the BF and I were not together. No LQ this time. :) Just family responsibilities on both sides that we had to attend to separately. 

I spent the day shopping at Cost Plus, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Grocery Outlet. I did some home decor haul at CP and Bed, Bath and Beyond — a new print for the fireplace mantel, soap dishes, bath linens — all in preparation for my parents’ 3 day visit at my house.

Also took advantage and stocked up on teas and  wines (5 bottles) to add to my collection. You know,  for those evenings when a glass of wine is such a well-deserved treat. Among my purchase from Cost Plus is a pack of tri-color pasta.

Since BF was not coming home until pretty late, I cooked a pot of Tri-Color Pasta With Prawns, Fresh Tomatoes, Blood Orange EVOO, Parmesan-Romano and Fresh Lemon-Thyme in my Straub Coq Au Vin. (This is one of  most prized possessions in my kitchen. Mine looks exactly like this.)

There is really nothing to this dish and anyone can make it. Such a forgiving recipe that you can totally improvise:

Ingredients are the same as the title of this recipe.

  • Cook your fave pasta according to package direction.
  • Saute minced garlic in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).
  • Then remove from skillet to avoid burning.
  •  Saute the prawns using the same oil in the pan.
  •  Mix the pasta, shrimp, garlic and fresh diced tomatoes together and top with grated or shaved Parmesan. (Add feta cheese if you want.)
  • Drizzle EVOO on top. ( I used Blood Orange Infused EVOO)
  • Freshly ground pepper is a must for me!
  • Add some chili flakes to heat things up!
  • I pinched some fresh lemon-thyme from my herb garden, chopped and mixed in for earthy, refreshing flavors. 

So easy! So comforting! So yummy! With a glass of nice Pinot Noir, it turned out a nice “me time” while waiting for the BF to come home.

08.09.14

Week in Pics: 08.10.14, Sunday

Between work and family, this week just went by so fast. It felt like I closed my eyes on Monday and I woke up on Saturday. There were a lot of family stuff, even though I did not see my parents again until Sunday. Just a lot of planning of family activities over the phone.

  • Lots of Filipino food leftovers that my mom and sister-in-law cooked from last weekend that I did not have to go out for weekday  lunches at all. I feasted on menudo, igado, stirfried sitaw (green beans) — yummy Pinoy dishes!
  • Highlight of my week was a wonderful afternoon tea with BFF Heather at Tara Y Tara Tea House in the City. What a delicious afternoon spent with her just catching up, slowing down and relaxing over many cups of hot tea and tea sandwiches in a cozy setting.  (Separate post to follow.)
  • The BF was also busy with his side of the family. We had to divide and conquer. No date night on Saturday :(. He had to spend it with his family…..
  • While I opted to spend Saturday getting the house ready for my parents’ visit next week. I was out and about shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Cost Plus. I used this as an excuse to finally buy a new artwork for the living room. I like it!
  • And I could not resist getting a couple of bars of chocolates —- coconut dark chocolate and chili super-dark chocolates, few bottles of wine and some stationary thingy-s that I just MUST have. :)
  • Sunday was spent with my parents at my sister’s house. Lots of yummy Filipino food again. My mom cooked salmon sinigang. We also had fried tilapia, fried smelt and green beans adobo. So nice to hangout with my mom and dad, and play with my little nephew.

Grateful for each precious moment with my mom, dad and family.

100 Blessings & 100 Happy Moments

14 & 17: Nephew’s 11th Birthday Party AND Mom & Dad’s Welcome Party

Thank you, Lord, for these special moments with my family.

San Jose YMCA

08.02.14

Soul Groove (SF)

Girlfriends Lunch Date with Adrienna

Before you start drooling, don’t. Just. Don’t.  My meal at Soul Groove was an utter failure. 

There was a time in my life when I could have chosen fried chicken and waffles to be my last meal on earth. Now that I no longer have the metabolism of a teenager on steroids, I am proud to say that I live a healthier lifestyle. Once in a while we are entitled to be a little bad, right?

My friend Adrienna and I looked forward to eating at Soul Groove. Located in the Tenderloin, the place is casual, cute and whimsy with checkered tablecloth and milk cans to hold the utensils.

I ordered everything a la carte since I did not really want to eat a waffle and big piece of fried chicken. I had:

  • An order of sweet potato fries (Soggy, limp and greasy!)
  • Fried chicken breast (DRY and tasted freezer-burnt! Gross!)
  • Black beans and rice (Bland. The canned version is better.)

To add insult to injury, my tab was $13 for food that I did not eat!

My GF fared better. She said her Chicken Fried Soul which is fried chicken sandwich wrapped in bacon in between two waffles was not good nor bad but just okay. $6.50

Here’s my Chicken and Waffle Résumé:

These are okay to good places to get your chicken and waffle groove on. * are my faves but the ultimate favorites are Brenda’s and Lois the Pie Queen.

Enjoy!

 💔Never again! 💔