Category Archive: foodie

Fall visitors & a mostly vegan Thanksgiving

A pre-Thanksgiving visit

We were privileged with a visit from my lovable, adorable, stinker-of-a-brother Derek the week before Thanksgiving.  We spent a lot of time together, just hanging out and eating our way through Oakland and San Francisco.  🙂

We made a couple of visits to Fenton’s Creamery in Oakland, a cute ice cream parlor, for some delectable ice cream.

We also discovered this awesome ale house in Oakland called Cato’s that Derek likes to describe as a “classy dive bar”. Even though I couldn’t partake in the beer (boo!) the food more than made up for it.

And we spent an evening at Jessie’s pad eating some amazing food and a game night.

Thanksgiving weekend

Unfortunately he couldn’t stay for Thanksgiving, but fortunately for us we had another couple of visitors right on his heels: Kevin’s parents, Dorothy and George.  Dorothy flew up a few days ahead of George to spend some time together (and to prepare for the big feast that we were going to make and eat later that week) and it was nice having her around!

One evening that week we drove up to Richmond to visit Point Isabel (where Lola experienced her first open water swim!) so Lola could stretch her legs and so that we could watch the sunset over the SF city skyline.

We were so happy when George arrived from his long drive up from Long Beach and it was doubly nice that Kevin got four days off for the weekend as well!  We spent one of those evenings revisiting Fenton’s Creamery for some ice cream sundae goodness (or, in Kevin’s case, pie).

My idea of heaven (and don’t think for a minute that I didn’t scoop up some of that hot fudge from the plate)

George taking a good, long look at his and Dorothy’s chosen treat

Me, Kevin and George ready to dig in!

This was our third Thanksgiving spent up in the Bay Area (the first was spent with the Julian clan and last year’s was spent with Jessie in San Jose) and it was great having the Edmonds family in town to celebrate.  Dorothy and I got a lot of the work done the day before but we still got an early start on Thanksgiving day to make sure we were ready in time for our other guests (Jessie, Carleigh and Scott) to arrive.  Since Jess and I are vegetarian and Carleigh is vegan we decided to make it a mostly veg-friendly meal.  There were only two things that the vegan of our group couldn’t indulge in: the turkey (obviously) and my Aunt Tina’s infamous corn (made with lots of cream cheese and butter).  But other than that, all of the sides (including one of the pumpkin pies!) were made with no animal products whatsoever!

Kevin and George spent some time working on Kevin’s bike so that they could go mountain biking together later that weekend.

And Dorothy put the finishing touches on the dead bird…I mean, the turkey.

The group arrived and were ready to chow down!

The group minus George

The group minus me

Overall I think it was a pretty successful Thanksgiving meal, especially given that we were cooking for seven in the teeniest kitchen ever!

We had a really busy Friday, starting off with a long hike through Joaquin Miller park (a place Kevin and I have frequented many a time and were excited to share with his parents).

Dad, son and grandpup

Can you spot Kevin and Lola?

K + Lola braving the log

Beautiful trails!

Surprisingly beautiful mushrooms on a log

K + me

George + Dorothy

We rushed home so that we could meet with up our favorite friends from Irvine, Alison and Seth!  We hung out at our apartment for a bit (or until Seth’s stomach yelled at us to leave, haha) and then took them to one of our favorite Mexican places, Taqueria Monte Cristo in Berkeley.  It was SO nice seeing them, even if only for a couple of hours!

The Redlands gang (minus Seth!)

That night we were off again…to the Christmas tree lighting in Union Square!  Kevin and I had gone in 2009 with the Julians and we knew his parents would enjoy it as well.  I think once every two years is about as much crazy Christmas crowds I can handle.  😉

Macy’s all decorated for the holidays

George + us

Dorothy + us

Dorothy + me

It was surprisingly not as cold as it was two years prior but it still warranted my winter fuzzy hat.

This kid had it made: a helmet with straws feeding into two Starbucks’ hot cocoas! Hahahah!

The main event!

Kevin and George ended the weekend off right by spending a morning mountain biking in Joaquin Miller park with Lola.  I was a bit nervous about Lola going out with them but apparently she kept up pretty good!  Kevin hadn’t gone riding in a looooong time and I’m hoping it becomes more of a habit for him (hint, hint!)  🙂

We had a great 10 days full of visitors and we couldn’t have asked for better people to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with!  And now we’re sooo looking forward to Christmas…only 15 more days until we drive down to LB for a week full of family, friends, and food!

My 28th birthday

My birthday landed on a Thursday this year so I went to work like any ol’ day but came home to this wonderful little surprise…

Walking in the door I was greeted with a “Happy Birthday” banner

Then a batch of balloons, streamers, and a giant gift box.  What did I do to deserve such an amazing guy?!

What was in that giant box, you ask?  A sewing machine!  I’ve been wanting to learn to sew for years now and I am so excited to get started on these projects that I’ve been waiting to do forever now.

That night Jessie took me out to Yoshi’s in Oakland for some sushi and live music.  Yoshi’s is a pretty famous jazz club with locations in both Oakland and San Francisco and I’ve been wanting to go there for a while now.  The night we went, though, was a rare night of bluegrass music and not jazz but I was happy as a clam nevertheless!

A friend she met through her last job at the wine bar in Los Gatos happened to have three tickets to see his friend play the night of my birthday so she generously asked if I could tag along and alas, I ended up getting a fun night out on the town for my birthday!  Sure beat the alternative of me and Lola watching tv that night.  😉

The group was fantastic.  His friend (the blond on the left in the following photos) is now a featured musician at the club and will be performing with select musicians throughout the year.  For her debut she chose two women to perform bluegrass music with.  So the three of them aren’t really a band, this was the first time they ever played together, but boy were they amazing.  They played such a great mix of folk, bluegrass, and blues.

Here’s a video of the group performing one of their crazy-fast fiddle songs.

Jessie always has this amazing way of celebrating me for my birthday.  Last year she took me out to try escargot and then treated me to the Bridge School Benefit concert to see Pearl Jam, Modest Mouse, and Elton John, amongst others.  I sure got lucky in the sister department too!

The big plan for my birthday was to celebrate on Saturday night (so that Kevin could join in on the fun and not be at work) for some dinner and live music at Pena Pachamama in North Beach.  Pena Pachamama is a small, hole-in-the-wall Bolivian restaurant and music venue that serves mostly raw, organic food and has live music every weekend.  We reserved a table for 5 (me, Kevin, Jessie, Carleigh, and Scott) and spent a few hours there soaking in the amazing food and amazing sounds.

The girls! Me, Jess and Carleigh

Halfway through the show a few traditional Bolivian dancers came out to strut their stuff.

It didn’t take long for Carleigh and Scott to take over the dance floor!

Then me and Jess braved the floor as well…

Once the table full of intoxicated girls took over the dance floor we knew it was our cue to leave, so we danced our way out of the restaurant and onto the streets of North Beach.

Me and Kev outside of the restaurant

I had SUCH a good time with my dearest family and friends and could not have asked for a better birthday weekend.  And I couldn’t end this post without saying that the evening ended with me yelling out the car window to a trolley-full of tourists “It’s my birthday!” (after which said trolley-full of tourists yelled out “Happy Birthday!”) and then I yelled out “Occupy the trolley!” (and no, I was not one of those intoxicated girls I mentioned earlier, I was just on a high from good food, good music, and great company!).

Celebrating 5 years in Reno!

Now that we’ve got internet at our new apartment I can finally post the anniversary message I wrote for Kevin to celebrate our five years of marriage

Five years ago today we were gettin’ hitched.  We were surrounded by so many friends and family on that hot summer evening in San Pedro and the day could not have been more perfect.

To commemorate such a milestone in our relationship I thought I’d make a list of some of my top five favorite things about our marriage:

Five of my favorite adventures

  • Australia
    • Sand-boarding down the dunes on Moreton Island, the eco lodge in the Glass House Mountains, hanging out with the huge group of kangaroos, eating an apple for dinner in the park watching the trapeze artist in the trees, walking with our luggage through downtown Sydney for what seemed like forever, watching the sun set over Darling Harbor and the Opera House
  • Hawai’i
    • Our honeymoon was our first major trip together and we had such an incredible time snorkeling with sea turtles, eating dragon fruit and pineapple and papaya from fruit stands on the side of the road, waking up early to watch the sun rise (on the wrong side of the island!), hiking across a volcanic crater
  • Nicaragua
    • Braving the bus ride to Granada, being the translator between Kevin and my homestay family, going out for pizza and beer with Erin, cracking jokes with Danffer and Dorelia, getting to show Kevin the country that I had called home for three months, and of course, getting engaged
  • Moving to San Francisco
    • This move really opened up my eyes to the world beyond Long Beach and I have enjoyed every minute of it—we have grown so much closer and our relationship is so much stronger because of it, Kevin being able to go back to school to pursue one of his passions meant a lot to both of us, growing closer with my sister Jessie and reconnecting with our dear friend Carleigh, and we have kept ourselves very busy exploring and falling in love with the Bay Area (mainly to fill this blog up with fun things!)
  • Bringing Lola home
    • I think that Lola was one of the best decisions we made together—she is the apple of our eye and makes us so incredibly happy, she many times gives us a reason to get off our rears to get outside and go for a walk or make a trip to the park which is so good for us, and she is such a great companion for us

Five of my favorite things about our relationship

  • Wrestling
    • This may sound weird but Kevin and I love to wrestle and play fight with each other and it’s one of my absolute favorite things, more than anything it just shows how goofy we are and the fact that we’re able to be that way with each other is so perfect to me
  • We learn so much from each other
    • I know that I have grown by leaps and bounds being with Kevin and I think it’s the same for him and it is my hope that we continue to grow and learn from each other for years and years to come
  • How much family means to us
    • This is not only a favorite of mine because of how close we are with our families and what wonderful families we feel we married into but because I know that our kids are going to grow up in the same kind of close-knit family which is really important to me
  • How alike we are
    • Although we have a lot of differences I think we are a lot alike as well which makes us a great pair
  • How much we laugh together
    • We are constantly cracking each other up and I can’t think of a better trait to have in a relationship than a shared sense of humor. It’s so nice having someone who laughs at (almost) all of the goofy, dorky jokes that I come up with. He’s like my personal laugh track!

Five things that I’m most looking forward to in the next five years

  • Traveling
    • I’m not sure what’s exactly in the cards for us but we plan on doing a lot more traveling in the years to come—on our wish list: La Virgen Gorda island in the Caribbean, a return trip to Hawai’i, Kevin’s first trip to New York, somewhere hopefully in Europe (like Ireland), and lots of camping
  • Buying a home
    • This one is definitely not set in stone but it’s a goal of ours and I would love nothing more than having an entire home to fill with memories
  • Seeing where life takes us with our jobs
    • I’m excited to see where Kevin ends up as an Aircraft Mechanic and I’m excited to see where I end up in the field of education, I know that there are great things ahead for us both
  • Gardening
    • We tried our hand at a flower garden at our last apartment and we’re looking forward to starting a vegetable garden at our new place, we both want to grow a lot of our food and I can only imagine how the incredible home-grown dinners are going to taste
  • Starting a family
    • We both want children very much and can’t wait until the day that we’re finally parents, that is one chapter in my life that I truly can’t wait to start with Kevin

The night of our anniversary (Friday, July 8th for any of you wondering) we spent the evening exploring a small part of our new city: Jack London Square.  We weren’t sure where we were going to eat so walked around for a bit trying to scope out a good place for dinner.

At first the place seemed dead, so much so that we were wondering if we weren’t really supposed to be walking around down there, haha.  But looking into the windows of all of the restaurants we figured out where all the people were since every place was packed!

We finally decided to eat at Bocanova, a pan-American grill, and holy smokes and I glad we did.  They serve small plates but just about every plate we got was fantastic.


Bottle of locally-brewed beer to share

Papas fritas, green/yellow beans, and a salmon tartare (I gotta be honest, I didn’t know what a tartare was until the plate showed up, haha)

And what anniversary dinner would be complete without dessert? We were STUFFED but just had to get a dessert.

Kevin about to start in on his cheesecake

Cheesecake and croissant bread pudding with Mexican chocolate ice cream (YUM!)

The happily married couple of five years!

Jack London’s cabin

We came out of the restaurant to a huge group of people taking salsa lessons, how cute!

The next day we were off bright and early to meet Carleigh to take our two pups to Pet Camp for the evening while their parents went to relax in Reno!  We’ve never left Lola at a pet boarding place before but we know she was left in really good hands since most of the staff worked with Kevin and remembered Lola really well.

Bye bye puppies, hello Reno!

We made a quick stop in the cute little town of Auburn

A giant gold miner statue

Welcome to Reno! This was my first real visit to the city (I think I had driven through it before growing up)

It was just Kevin, Carleigh and I for the day and into the early evening since Scott was at a conference at another hotel.  After checking in we went straight to the Island Buffet (not the best buffet in the world, but it did the job alright).

Then it was off to the POOL!

Yum, water

Beautiful pool!

After the pool we went to have some drinks at the bar inside…

Carleigh and martini.

Then we got ready to go out to dinner at Naan and Kabob across the street from the hotel.  I cannot complete this blog post without saying how AMAZING the food and service at this place was. We were so incredibly impressed by everything about the restaurant and I can’t believe we found such a place in Reno!

All dolled up!

Me and Kev at Naan and Kabob

After dinner we went to pick up Scott and went straight to the slot machines!

The Peppermill, the hotel/casino we stayed at

I was up about $100 but quickly lost it between Kevin and I 🙁 but Carleigh ended up being the big winner of the evening with a $300 win off a penny machine!

Concentrating a little too hard on their machines

She’s a winner!

Can you see us in the reflection of the ceiling?

Scott listening in to the “Yeee Haw!” machine

“Texas Tina”

Pretty casino ceiling

After a late night at the machines we surprisingly were able to get up early for some morning pool time!  Even at 8am it was hotter than heck out so was totally worth it for a dip in the pool.

On the way out of Reno we ate atPeg’s Glorified Ham n Eggs (sounds like the *perfect* place for a vegetarian and a vegan, right?) and it was surprisingly an amazing little breakfast place! I was so impressed by the food in Reno, something I was definitely not expecting to say after the trip.

Eat at Peg’s

My vegetarian skillet. Holy moly it was SO good!

I was SO incredibly happy that we were spending our anniversary weekend in Reno instead of moving like we had planned on. Thank you Carleigh and Scott for suggesting such a brilliant idea and for letting us tag along!

Photo of us in front of the casino’s wedding chapel

Weekend of parties in Long Beach!

Wednesday, May 25

Kevin and I got on the road on Wednesday evening with the Lola in tow.  The drive down was pretty uneventful (the best kind of trip down the 5 highway, I’d say!) and we got in at midnight.

Pretty cows out to graze!

Lola was quite intrigued by the cows

Our pretty little girl stretching out her legs

Thursday, May 26th

We were fortunate enough to stay at Kevin’s parent’s house for the trip and were treated to a yummy breakfast of eggs and toast.  We just hung out most of the day, running some errands and soaking in the sun (oh, the sun!)  As Dorothy was watering the garden, she quickly learned how much Lola LOVES the garden hose…

Watering her grandpup! Haha

That evening we met up for dinner at Lucille’s BBQ (our go-to place when we’re in town!) with none other but Brianne, Brian and Brianne’s sister Laura.

Oh how I’ve missed you!

Cutie pie

Kevin and Brian, stuffed silly

Kevin and Lola, posing for a photo at home

Friday, May 27th

For the few weeks leading up to our trip down south I was working with Kevin’s mom and sister Judith to plan a surprise graduation party for Kevin on Friday night.  We had a guest list of around 40 people and were anxious to get the party started!  But first, a lot of shopping and preparations to make sure that Kevin didn’t find out until the last possible minute (and since we were staying with his parents it proved to be a little difficult!)

The plan that afternoon was to have his brother Thomas take him out for a few hours while Dorothy, George, Judith and I prepared the food, cleaned the house, and got the backyard all ready to go.  Unfortunately, Thomas had to go to work at 6pm (the same time the party started) so he had to drop Kevin off at 5:30, so the surprise was a little premature.  Nevertheless, Kevin was extremely surprised and had not idea what we had up our sleeves!

The guests started arriving…

Dan, Judith and Kevin

Jessie and her niece Lola (with Valerie, Vanessa and Rose in the background!)

Dan, Chris, Kevin, Brian, Dominic and Jayme

Same as above plus Dorothy, Loren, Shani, Andrea and Ron

Jess and Brianne

Mmm…veggie skewers! Oh yeah, and burgers & hot dogs for the carnivores

Christian (my mom’s boyfriend Steve’s grandson)

Lola and her new best “friend” Christian (he quickly wore her out [which is not an easy thing to do!] and so she got a little annoyed towards the end of the party since he was still full of energy and wanted to play!)

Me and Brianne

Kev and Jessie

Jess and Matt

After chowing down we brought out the cakes and said a little something about the man of the hour–for those of you that don’t know, Kevin just completed a two year Aviation Mechanics program at the College of Alameda.  It was a full-time program in which Kevin went to school from 4:30-10:30 every night for two years.  He ended up at the top of his class (no surprise here!) and just last week, at the recommendation of his instructor, was offered a job at Rolls Royce working on the V-22 Osprey engine!  It was SO great being able to celebrate Kevin and all of his accomplishments with the people that love him and it was even more wonderful that he was able to announce his new job just a week out of school.  We’re all so proud of you, Kev!

Applauding the guest of honor

The ADORABLE airplane cake the Dorothy baked and Shani decorated

It also happened to be Dan’s birthday so we sang a little song for him and gave him a cupcake to celebrate

Christian said he wanted the candle (not the cupcake, surprisingly) and said he was going to save it to put it on *his* birthday cake

A Cookie Monster cupcake will do that to you

I think everyone who attended really enjoyed celebrating Kevin and his accomplishments, thank you to everyone who was able to make it!

Saturday, May 28th

The main reason we made the trip to Long Beach this weekend was to celebrate with my good friends Kim and Frank on the day they got hitched!!

That morning we met up with my mom, Jessie, the Julians and Matt’s girlfriend Alexis at what other place but The Potholder?!

The whole gang

The wedding was scheduled to start at 4:30pm at the Art Theater in Long Beach–such a cool wedding venue!

The marquee said “A Love Story: Kimberly and Frank”…so cute!!

Jess, Steve, me, Kevin and my Auntie Tina in front of the theater

Me and Jess all dolled up

Me and Kev on the red carpet

Inside the theater they were showing silent films

Steve chowing on some popcorn (they had bags of it in the lobby for people to eat!)

Me and my mama

The ceremony was short and sweet, officiated by Kim’s dad Guy (who actually married Kevin and I as well!)

Kim and her mama Terry walking down the aisle.  What a beautiful bride!

The reception was behind the theater under a big tent…

Beautiful flower arrangement centerpieces

Lots and lots of wine for the masses!

Me and my party dress

Guy greeting my Auntie Tina and Jessie

Kim coming by to say hi

Hugs all around!

Matt and Alexis with the bride

Portrait of the bride…

…and the flower girl Bella

Me, mom, Tina, Jess and Kim (LOVE this photo!)

Me and Shan

Kim and Frank cracking up at Stacey (maid-of-honor’s) hilarious toast

The shoes…so perfect!

First dance

And Bella decided it was her time to show off her firefighter pole slide!

Susuico family dance (Stacey, Jay, Bella and Tasi)

Mom and Frank dancing

Kim and Steve dancing

Dancin’ shoes (mom and Jess)

Mom and Steve

Diane and Dave

Jess and Terry

Pretty sister!

Me and Kev (our obligatory shot)

They had an awesome candy bar for people to fill up little popcorn bags with treats…

The kiddos could be found swarming the table most of the evening

I swear she posed that way on her own! Haha

Their cake was AMAZING–made by one of her girlfriends Diana!  And it tasted better than it looks, no joke.

The adorable orange bride and groom to go with the citrus theme.

The ol’ hula gang!  Sayuri, Cat, Kim, mom and me

Finally warm enough weather to wear something that shows off my tattoo!

The evening was perfect and we felt so incredibly fortunate to be able to celebrate with our good friends Kim and Frank as they start a new life together!!

Sunday, May 29th

After a late night we met up with Brianne and Brian at The Coffee Cup Cafe for some good eats.

Me and Bri

We hung out with them for a few hours trying to distract Brian as Brianne went out to prepare for his very own surprise party, this time to celebrate his birthday!  That afternoon we had to pretend we were saying bye for good and that we wouldn’t be seeing him again until our next trip down, but little did he know that we’d be turning right back around to their apartment a few short hours later to celebrate with him and friends/family.

A video of the surprise!

Birthday banner made by Brianne


We got the chance to see our friend Lara and meet her brand-new baby Audrey!  Audrey was a total sweetheart and it was great being able to meet her after only seeing photos all this time.

Lara, Brianne and Audrey

Ted and Lara

Me and the flying baby!

Monday, May 30th

We were treated to a home-cooked breakfast of waffles covered in strawberries and a breakfast veggie stir fry (or bacon if your name is Kevin).  It was nice being able to spend a couple of hours at home with Dorothy and George before making our way back home to SF.

Unfortunately the ride home was nowhere near as smooth as the ride down.  9 1/2 hours later we finally parked in front of our house.  Let that be a warning to anyone who thinks they can avoid the awful traffic on the 5 on a holiday!  🙂

We had SUCH an awesome trip, thanks to everyone who made an effort to see us and we can’t wait to go back!

Food truck heaven

To celebrate Kevin’s first Friday off of school (!) last week we decided to spend some time at Fort Mason to do some exploring (since Kevin had never been) but most importantly to eat our way through food truck heaven!  There’s an organization called Off the Grid that hosts food truck markets every week in the city.

We got to Fort Mason a little early so spent some time walking around and exploring.  Our first stop was the SFMOMA Artist’s Gallery.  There wasn’t too much to see but I was in love with this artist’s work (not necessarily with the subject [although I love me a good sugary treat] but with her style):

Then we stumbled into the Long Now Foundation‘s space which was a total trip.  Their purpose (in a nutshell) is to “creatively foster long-term thinking and responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years”.  Now if that in itself doesn’t blow your mind, then surely some of their projects will…

This poster is supposed to be posted in your time machine.  Yes, you read that right: your time machine.

Solar synchronizer, anyone?

My favorite quote: “I think of the oak beams in the ceilings of College Hall in New College, Oxford.  Last century when the beams needed replacing, the carpenters used oak trees that had been planted in 1386 when the dining hall was first built.  The 14th-century builder had planted the trees in anticipation of the time, hundreds of years in the future, when the beams would need replacing.” -Danny Hillis

“In having children–in engendering them, in loving them, in teaching them to love and care about the world–parents are betting, whether they know it or not, on the Clock of the Long Now.  They are betting on their children, and their children after them, and theirs beyond them, all the way down the line from now to 12,0006.” -Michael Chabon

Kevin’s mind? Officially blown.

I kind of felt like my brain was melting in that place.

Then we did some more walking around, anxiously waiting for the food truck extravaganza to start!

The time had finally arrived!

Hungry people

Zombie Curry Thai food

Mac ‘n cheese spring rolls!  Gotta try those next time.

Kimchee quesadilla! Gotta try that one next time too!

But I did help myself to a tiny cup of kimchee even though we didn’t buy anything from their cart. It was so tasty.

Kevin in line for lumpia (Philipino egg rolls)

Me and my okonomiyaki with an egg on top (soooo good!)

Musubi Kings! I LOVE musubi but unfortunately they didn’t have a vegetarian option…

But the Hawaiian truck IZ IT had a vegetarian option: musubi with tofu katsu

My tofu katsu musubi and Kevin with his Hawaiian beef taco

Dessert was horchata kettle corn, mmm!

Kevin enjoying a handful (or two) of the kettle corn.  It was windy that day so we were trying to throw the popcorn in the air and catch it (because everyone does that when eating popcorn, right??) –but because of the crazy winds we had to throw it to the side so that the popcorn could blow towards our mouths.  We were doing that on the side of the road for a few minutes not realizing that the traffic stopped at the red light was watching us…when the light turned green someone in a car yelled out “Good job! Do it again!” Hahaha!

Bird’s eye view of the event

We had SO much fun and we will definitely be making a habit out of going to these events more often.

Mexico City!

I was given an amazing opportunity at work to make a trip down to Mexico City in early May and I had such an incredible time!  I will be taking over Registrar duties for the Teacher Education students that study at our Mexico City campus and so I went with my boss and another administrator to visit the campus, visit some K-12 schools, and work on a plan for the fall semester.  It had been many years since I last visited Mexico and the only places I had ever visited growing up were Tijuana, Rosarito, and Baja California so I was really excited to see other parts of Mexico and to be immersed in a Spanish-speaking country again (the last time I did that was in 2004 when I was studying abroad in Nicaragua).  I have to admit, I was really nervous about how I’d do with my Spanish but I was SO happy to find out that it came back pretty quickly!

A map of Mexico for those of you not familiar with where Mexico City is…

(I may or may not have needed a refresher myself before my trip!)

Monday 5/9

I jumped on a plane from SFO in the afternoon to Benito Juarez airport in Mexico City.  The flight there is 3.5 hours and it was a pretty nice, easy ride in.  Dinner was $7 worth of cheese, crackers and dried fruit…

4 crackers, 4 pieces of cheese, 3 pieces of dried apricot and 2 pecans. Scrumptious.

We landed around 8pm (Central time, Mexico City is 2 hours ahead of CA) and after crawling our way through customs we were finally standing on Mexican soil!  We took a cab to our hotel (more on our hotel later) and after checking in it was around 9:30pm but we were starving so we went to the restaurant on the first floor called Sanborns Génova.  We were given a basket of bread, crackers and tortilla chips (all in the same basket) to hold us over as we waited for our food.  I ordered the most amazing shrimp tacos I have ever eaten in my entire life and I swear I dream about them even now!  Hahah.

The most delicious shrimp tacos ever created.

After dinner we went up to our respective rooms to try to get some sleep before the next day’s activities.

Tues. 5/10

We met for breakfast on the first floor and I was so impressed with the breakfast brunch!  There was such an amazing spread of fresh fruit (including papaya and mango) and some amazing fresh-squeezed orange juice and a huge basket piled high with pan dulce (my favorite).  And to top it off, there were about 6 cages filled with parakeets chirping along in the breakfast lounge.

The beautiful breakfast lounge on the first floor.

Oh how I wish I could eat like this everyday.

Chirp, chirp!

Our university’s campus is within two blocks of the hotel we stayed at and it was such a beautiful day so the quick walk was enjoyable.

El Monumento a La Independencia El Angel (The Angel of Independence monument) just a few blocks away!

Neat outdoor decorations in front of a church

The hotel and university are in the Zona Rosa (Pink Zone) which is known as the gay-friendly part of town

Beautiful statue of Diana La Cazadora

The following are photos of the Alliant International University (the university I work for) campus in Mexico City:

The front of the campus

The front entrance (once you get past the security guards, of course)

Beautiful courtyard in the middle of campus!

I loved these posters, showing our different campuses (San Francisco, San Diego, Hong Kong, Tokyo amongst the others in California)

The library

I would LOVE to have that view from my desk!

We were in a few meetings through mid-day but my boss and I got lucky with having the entire afternoon free to explore the city.  Our tour guide Sarah (who works for the university) led us downtown for lunch, sight-seeing, and some shopping.

We went to lunch at a restaurant called El Mayor which is on the roof of a building that oversees the excavation site of Aztec ruins.  The view was INCREDIBLE if you can imagine and the food was pretty darn good too!

Overlooking the ruins of the Aztec pyramid Tenochtitlán

La Catedral Metropolitana (The Metropolitan Cathedral)

After lunch we made our way to El Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (a really neat museum) and passed along the way…

A few life-size, plastic Jesuses

Necklaces with the Pope’s face

A beautiful Día de los Muertos statue

A gorgeous street scene

The museum is in an incredibly beautiful building with a gorgeous courtyard in the middle…

Beautiful, intricate details everywhere

Lots of gorgeous stained glass windows

Breathtaking murals

Incredible walkways

Most of the exhibits were closed that day but the one exposition I was able to see was the photography of Flor Garduño.

This was my favorite photo of hers (Google her name and you’ll see some incredible work)

Sarah left us at the museum to go pick up her kids and then met up with us again after about 45 minutes of exploring the museum.  Her kids are Beatríz (10) and Oliver (7) and they were so incredibly adorable!  They have such great, spunky personalities and were fun exploring the city with.  We took a cab to an outdoor market to do some shopping.

A beautiful church we passed on the way

Me, Bea and Oli in the taxi

The outdoor market

Beautiful alebrijes (brightly painted fantasy creatures, so cool!)

Sarah and Oli about to jump on the metro

Trudy on the metro

After parting ways with Sarah and her family, we had an hour or so to relax at the hotel (read: take a nap!) before heading out to dinner.  The concierege recommended Fonda El Refugio for dinner which was just a few blocks away and it was the perfect choice.  The special for the day (manchamanteles) sounded really good but I wanted it without meat (it came with a choice of pork or chicken) so I asked the waiter if that would be possible and it was cracking us up because he and about 3 others waiters stood in a circle and discussed if it would be possible for a few minutes before letting me know that they would be able to make the exception for me.

At the end of the meal we were provided with three lollipops covered in plastic wrap and a small bowl of hot water and were told to dip our lollipops in the water for a few minutes until the plastic fell off and then to suck the lollipop.  I had never experienced anything quite like that before and it was interesting to say the least!

After dinner I decided to explore the hotel a little bit to capture some photos.  We stayed at the Hotel Geneve which was built in 1907 and is an historic hotel and building.  My room was on the third floor and there were so many little corners and hallways to explore, I don’t think I saw even half of it.

View from the street

View looking out on the street from the 3rd floor hallway window

The third floor hallway (kinda spooky!)

The lobby was one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen in my life: floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with old books, chandelier, stained glass windows, gorgeous seats, fresh flowers, art everywhere…


Some neat details found in the lobby…

Vintage telephones

Antique safes

Display with women’s clothing

Display with a bullfighter’s clothes

The bar/lounge (too bad the singer they had performing that night was awful otherwise we would’ve spent some time in there!)

Me sneaking in a photo of myself (proof that I was there! Haha)

Wednesday 5/11

We woke up bright and early to meet at the campus so that we could begin our day visiting two K-12 private schools in different parts of the city to work on partnerships with them.  Both schools are bilingual so all students are fluent in both Spanish and English (and not just speaking but in analyzing literature and philosophy in both languages).  I was so incredibly impressed with the schools and, although I realize they are private schools and are not the typical experience for every Mexican public school student, these schools reminded me of how far we still have to go even with our public schools.

We did a lot of driving that day, from one part of the city to the other.  We passed Los Pinos, which is the residence of the President of Mexico.

And we also drove through Chapultepec Park which is the largest city park in Latin America.  It reminded me a lot of Golden Gate Park in SF and I’d love to explore the park more next time I’m in Mexico City.

After the all-day visits we ended up back at the campus for an evening reception for our recent graduates who earned their Master of Arts in Education: Teaching degrees.

We got back to our hotel around 6:30pm but I wasn’t feeling too hungry so decided to make a visit to the hotel’s gym downstairs to run 4 miles on the treadmill in preparation for the Bay to Breakers 12k race I had signed up for that was only four days away.  I hadn’t run on a treadmill in a long time and I realize how much I thrive running out in the open and not in a cramped room with no fresh air and no pavement/gravel beneath my feet!  I think next time I’m out of town or out of the country I’ll plan it better and go for a run out in the city instead.  But it was nice having the gym to fall back on!

Thursday 5/12

We were up at 5am to pack our bags and get ready for one last school visit (our appointment with the school was at 8am and it was in a hard-to-get-to part of the city, hence the ridiculous wake-up call).  After that final school visit we said our goodbyes to Sarah and the other staff and made our way back to the airport.  The flight back was 4.5 hours and luckily I slept most of the way!

I had such an incredible time and feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go there for work.  Although I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to take on the Registrar duties for our Mexico City students I’m really looking forward to it!

¡Adiós, México!

Dad & Mysty’s visit

The evening of the same day that we said bye to Thomas and Ashley, we welcomed my dad and his pup Mysty for a few days!  They drove out from Las Vegas and got in around 8:30 pm on Wednesday April 20th.  After catching up for a bit we hit the sack because we were all feeling pretty tired and Kevin and I had work the next morning.

Mysty was a little suspicious of us at first, haha!

While Kevin and I were at work on Thursday, my dad and Mysty made a trip down to San Jose to visit with my sister Jess and check out her apartment and her wine bar.  That night the three of us went to dinner at our favorite Salvadoran restaurant Balompie.  It was my dad’s second time having pupusas (but only the first time eating them at a restaurant) and I think we made a fan out of him!  After stuffing ourselves silly we made our way up the street to El Rico Pan, a Salvadoran bakery, for some goodies and coffee.  The pound cake was TO DIE FOR as well as the churro that Kevin swears by now so we’ll definitely have to make a trip (or two) back here.

All the yummy goodness within El Rico Pan bakery

Me and my dad with our pound cake!

On Friday while I was at work for a half day, Kevin and my dad took the pups to McLaren Park in our neighborhood to get the girls some exercise.  They then made their way to Pier 39 and walked around a bit while I finished up things at the office.  Once I was able to tear myself away, I jumped in the back of the car with the pups and we made our way to Golden Gate Park!

Me with barely enough room to sit with those two doggies in the backseat!

We made our way to (you guessed it!) Strawberry Hill and Stow Lake to take in the scenery and give ourselves and the dogs some exercise.  Lots of nature to be seen…

Ducks, seagulls and a turtle

Two ducks and a whole group of tiny ducklings!

Lola was a thirsty dog by the end of the hike!

A super random little character tied up in the tree.  Not sure what to make of it but felt the need to take a photo!

That night we took it easy, ordered in pizza from Pizzeria Sophia (it was our first time ordering from them…holy moly, such good pizza!) and watched some of the Laker game.  It had been a couple of years since I saw my dad (and a few for Kevin) so it was great spending a few days with him.  Hopefully a visit to Vegas is in the cards for Kevin and I in the near future!  🙂

Thomas & Ashley’s visit

Right on the heels of my trip to Napa with Jess, Kevin’s brother Thomas and his girlfriend Ashley came up for a 2-day visit!  They were here early the morning of Monday 4/18 and left super early Wednesday morning (ahem, 4:30am wake up call!) but it was an adventurous two days to say the least.  This was Ashley’s first time visiting SF so we pulled out all the stops for her visit.  🙂

We spent the afternoon enjoying the concrete Seward slides (see our first visit to the slides here) in the Castro.  At first we only had a few scrap pieces of cardboard to slide down and they weren’t too useful when the slides were dewy so we were actually on our way back to the car when we spotted a brand-spankin’ new computer monitor box in all its glory just calling out our names.  So after some slick maneuvering by Thomas (who, in essence, rummaged through this random person’s trash for our sliding enjoyment) we were on our way back to the slides to get some extreme sliding in.

Thomas and me

Kevin and Thomas (check out Kevin’s signature arm placement in this and the next photo, haha!)

Kevin and Ashley

The sliding was so extreme that on one ride down Thomas was propelled to his feet and then flat on his face!  The craziest part was that none of us even noticed Thomas flying through the air and all we saw were his arms and legs flailing up while on his back as the end result.  I’m still not quite sure how it happened.

There’s Thomas lying down in the slide!  “Help me, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”

Me and Kevin

Awesome action shot of Thomas mid-slide

We then took a drive to our favorite part of Golden Gate Park, Stow Lake and Strawberry Hill.  It was a bit drizzly and foggy but we made the most of it with a walk around the lake and a hike up the hill.

Thomas and Ashley sitting on the bridge over the lake (this was taken with a “miniature” mode on our camera, so cool!)

The green, green lake and its surroundings

Well hello Mr. Squirrel!  He was anxious for some treats, too bad I tricked him and only wanted to take his photo.

Ashley & Thomas

Me & Kevin

Kooky brothers


Thomas and the waterfall

Bluebird amongst the fire red leaves

We then made our way through the Presidio and ended up exploring some of the abandoned bunkers on the coast.

Great view of the Golden Gate Bridge in all its foggy glory

So apparently our camera also has a fish-eye lens mode–didn’t realize Kevin took this photo in that mode until later, hilarious!

Ashley, Thomas and the GGB

See how drizzly it was?  Water was covering Kevin’s glasses.

We had a lovely evening introducing Ashley to the world of Indian Pizza at Zante Pizza.  YUM!!!

The following day while I was at work the three amigos went to explore the Marin Headlands.  They were trying to find the entrance to an underground bunker that apparently hasn’t been sealed shut and only a handful of people have been successful finding but, unfortunately (or fortunately?) they didn’t find it.  Kevin is determined to find the thing.

Green, green everywhere in Marin!

One of the bunkers they explored

They met up with me at work and we went to dinner on Pier 39 at Wipeout Bar & Grill (just “okay” food, nothing to write home about…luckily I get a discount there because I work so close to the pier).  We then had a nice long walk along the piers and made our way to Ghirardelli Square so that Ashley and I could share a super delicious chocolate fudge/peanut butter sundae.  Mmm, mmm!

Thomas had to get an obligatory sourdough bowl and clam chowder; Kevin in front of the Chowder Hut

The “Penny Mist” boat docked near Fisherman’s Wharf

Two old(ish) men playing checkers on the corner of Beach & Hyde

We had to drop those two knuckleheads off at the airport at 4:30 in the morning the following day (yikes!) but we wish they could’ve spent at least another day or two exploring the city with us!  Until next time (hint, hint!)  🙂

Weekend in Napa for Jessie’s birthday

My sister Jess celebrated her birthday in style in Napa and I was lucky enough to be the one she invited to tag along!  🙂  This was my first trip to Napa (Kevin and I visited Sonoma last year) so I was excited to see what the fuss was all about!

We made our first stop to Chappelet Winery which her friend Daniel works at.  We spent a few wonderful hours there, sipping on some super yummy wines, taking in the amazing scenery, and enjoying each other’s company!  My favorite wine we tasted was the Chenin Blanc and Jessie was in love with the Signature Cabernet.

The entrance to Chappelet

Jess sipping on the first of many wines we tasted

I love being in the dark, cool wineries surrounded by barrels and barrels of wine!

Our private tasting area!

Me and the barrels

We eventually joined in with a group that was tasting and touring the facility (Jessie’s friend Daniel is the one in the middle pouring)

Wine from the 1970’s

Jess on the tour

What a view!

Sister, sister!

After a few hours at Chappelet we were starving so made our way to Rutherford Grill.  The food was super tasty but the company was even greater!  🙂

After stuffing ourselves silly we made our way to the hotel (which Jessie had won through a contest at work)–the Silverado Country Club.  It was so fancy, we had to follow a guy in a golf cart to get to our room, ha!

That night we got out and explored downtown Napa at the Oxbow Public Market.  It reminded us a lot of the Ferry Plaza in San Francisco with a lot of similar stores.  Jess enjoyed a cup of joe from Ritual Coffee and we shared a super yummy tiramisu.

The next morning I woke up bright and early and am happy to report that I went for a 3 mile run while on vacation!  You sure can’t beat the terrain–it was so gorgeous at 8 in the morning and it was such a treat being able to enjoy the views on foot instead of zooming down the road by car.

On the way back home we had some breakfast at Gillwoods Cafe which just hit the spot (yummy granola pancakes!)

Thank you Jessie for inviting me along to enjoy your birthday weekend with you!  We’ve never taken a sisters trip before and we know we have to make this a regular thing!

Mom & Steve’s visit

My mom and her boyfriend Steve came up for another visit (see their past visits here and here) from April 1st-3rd and we had a nice time.

Friday night I joined them in Los Gatos at Jessie’s work, Enoteca La Storia (a super cute wine bar) for some champagne and cheese (a lovely combination 😉 ).

Jess hard at work and me hard at drinking 😉

Jess nommin’ on some goodies

The spread (or what was left of it)

Mom & Steve (in shadows, wah!)

The only scraps we left on the cutting board

Mom, me and Steve through the window

After Jessie’s shift ended we ventured to another wine bar in downtown Los Gatos, Cin-Cin, for dinner.  The restaurant offered small plates and they were fantastic!  We then took a stroll down the main strip and landed at the Dolce Spazio Dessert Cafe for some gelato. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Beautiful blue sky on the drive to SJ

Afterwards we drove back to San Jose to check out an art walk that happens on the first Friday of every month in downtown San Jose called South First Fridays.  Only a couple of galleries peaked our interest: the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles and another gallery that I didn’t catch the name of that featured pieces about size (from microscopic to ginormous).

Me and Jess in front of some beautiful quilts

One of my favorite pieces.  If you look closely…

…you’ll notice that the artist carved the alphabet out of the tips of these pencils.  Incredible!

I felt like I walked straight into a Dr. Seuss book with these funky tree sculptures.


On Saturday, mom and Steve came out to SF for some exploring.  Our first stop was lunch at Chilango Mexican restaurant.  Now I’ve always been a fan of Mexican food (I mean hello, I’m half Mexican) but I have never fallen so deeply in love with a Mexican restaurant as I did with Chilango.  Their food is in traditional Mexico, D.F. (the capital) style and it is SO AMAZING!  A little pricey but holy hell it’s worth it.

Okay, I’m done drooling now.

My mom and I giving Chilango two thumbs up!

We then took a nice drive through the Castro, starting out at the Seward slides (see a video of me and Kevin going down the slides here, with Kevin’s crazy drop straight on his rear at the bottom of the slide), then winding our way up through the beautiful neighborhood and finally ending at Corona Heights park.  Mom, Kevin and I went for a brief hike up to the top of the rock formations and really enjoyed the views of the city.

Beautiful colored rocks against a bright blue sky.

A random little “village” we came across.  These little houses were maybe 6 inches tall, so cute!

Me and Kev at the top of Corona Heights

For dinner we shared our love of Ethiopian food with mom and Steve and they quickly became fans!  We went to Cafe Ethiopia in the Mission which we had tried before and definitely loved (except for one of the waiters telling us, at the end of our meal, that “there are people waiting to eat”, we got the hint!)

Dig in!!

We had a really nice visit (and lots of yummy food to boot!) with mom and Steve.  Looking forward to their next visit!