Category Archives: places

Engagement Pictures!!

First, I have not given up on that other blog I started, but it is going to be a while before I get caught up there.

Second, I think this will make up for the fact that I haven’t posted a picture here for, like, a billion posts.

Third, I consider these more pre-wedding pictures than engagement pictures because, let’s face it, we’re already halfway through our “engagement period”.  The teaser pics came out pretty nicely, I think, and I can’t wait to see the rest of them.

Mandi Contreras is our photographer, and she’s an associate photographer with Melissa McClure Photgraphy.  We got tons of amazing recommendations on photographers, but we couldn’t afford a lot of them.  Plus, the moment we sat down with Mandi, I loved her.  She came out to our house after Christmas and we took pictures in our neighborhood and then jaunted over the Old Poway Park.  She even got some photos of our pups (nicely groomed just before that last storm hit.. great timing!)

That last one is my favorite… it’s our family!  Minus the cats.  Look how cute the pups are!

Thanks, Mandi!  We had a blast posing and temple-nuzzling, and smiling big smiles all afternoon!

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New Zealand is just as amazing as they say it is

We are back from our short-but-awesome New Zealand vacation! We were fully aware that 8 days is an extremely short time to be in New Zealand, but 8 days is better than 0 days, don’t you think? We managed to pack in a lot of sightseeing and tourist activities in those 8 days and I can’t wait until the next time we can go. There are tons of pictures to clean up and post somewhere (excluding the super-secret, can’t-post-online Hobbit-holes) and many stories to tell.

In the meantime, here are some notes from our “holiday” abroad:

  • There is no “coffee” in New Zealand (actually, if you find “filter coffee”, run away because it is bad). Everything is espresso-based, which I kind of love.
  • There are cafes and pubs everywhere in Auckland. We actually saw a block with three cafes next to each other, all with plenty of people inside.
  • Pubs pour half pints! As an Asian lightweight, I truly appreciate this.
  • I can eat lamb every day and not get tired of it.
  • Two days of eating huge hunks of (delicious) cheese is a bit much. I’m actually cheesed out.
  • There are more sheep in New Zealand than in Scotland. Or it feels that way.
  • Sheep do outnumber people 10 to 1.
  • When you sit down to eat, you get a bottle or carafe of tap water. No more waiting for someone to fill up your water glass!
  • Bread is not free. In fact, it can cost quite a bit, something I don’t really understand.
  • Lots of cafes give you a piece of candy or fudge with your espresso drink. Why don’t they do that here?
  • If you see lambs fry on the menu and it sounds good and comforting with a pile of mashed potatoes, gravy, and sautéed onions, don’t order it! You’ll take a bite, discover you’re eating liver, and be very sad. Very, very sad.
  • Hokey pokey ice cream is absolutely wonderful. If we went into an ice cream shop and they didn’t have a hokey pokey flavor (flavour?), we didn’t get ice cream.

And last, but certainly not least: Even though you didn’t cry during the actual proposal, when you are telling people the story and you realize that it perfectly embodies the sweet man you are going to marry and then you start to tear up, you know he did a really good job and you couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Yes, people, we are getting married. Please bear with me; we’re starting to realize how little we know about wedding planning, wedding costs, and the fact that what we thought we wanted sounds boring and we want something a little bit more. We’re just not sure what that is yet.

Suffice to say, this was easily our best vacation ever.

We’re leaving on a jet plane

So, off we go on our vacation to New Zealand. The kitties are living it up in Vegas, the stupid chicken just started laying eggs again (she went mini-broody for a while), and the dogs will be well attended to by two sets of friends. I have packed, unpacked (thought I had too many clothes), repacked  (got scared it wasn’t enough), and finally just zipped up the suitcase and walked away.  I keep reminding myself that it’s not like we’re going to an impoverished country.  I’m pretty sure I can find a store if I’ve forgotten anything.  Plus, I want enough room (and weight allowance) to bring things home!  I find it amusing that the high temperature in Auckland is 60F and the low is anticipated to be 54F. I think we get larger temperature swings here in San Diego!

We stuck with that whole mini-Paleo diet for about a week. We both lost weight, but I suspect we just aren’t carb/gluten/grain-sensitive since 1) no one experienced any bouts of extreme energy or happiness, 2) there was no noticeable loss of bloat (or gain, once we shoved tortilla chips in our mouths), and 3) no adverse effects either abstaining from or re-encountering tasty carbohydrates. The little amount of weight I did lose came back after a couple of days and then went away again once I started running on the treadmill (working through Season 2 of True Blood!) and letting Jillian Michaels kick my butt via DVD and OnDemand. In all honesty, it wasn’t the diet itself that made me crack; it was the constant cooking at home. I’m sure people “better” than me at “clean eating” can easily maneuver their way around restaurant menus, but I had a hard time thinking of how to do it. In the end, I was tired of cooking dinner and I just wanted to go out and eat something someone else had made. Ironically, we ended up at Starlite where I had the crispy-skin chicken and Travis had a non-battered whole fish, both of which I’m pretty sure are diet-legal. Of course, he had a beer and I had a mule and then we went to Coronado and made ourselves sick finishing a peanut butter-hot fudge sundae.

And now we’re off to our vacation where diets are definitely not allowed. I look forward to as much lamb, seafood, cheese, wine, and chocolate as I can get my hands on. I suspect we’ll do a lot of walking, hiking, roaming, and other such activity, but I’ve also never really worried about it. I mean, no matter where we go, my clothes always still fit on the trip home. How much does one have to eat in a week before you seriously don’t fit your own clothes??

I have been working like crazy this last week trying to feel prepared to leave the office. At least I know that once we set foot on the plane, there’s nothing more I can do.

One tasty thing I did take away from this “diet” was a biscuit recipe that managed to keep me full from breakfast to lunch. Travis wasn’t too fond of them because of the nuttiness from the almond flour, but I liked them. They went well with almond butter or a fried egg in the morning.  And bacon.  They go really well with a crisp slice of bacon.

Almond Flour Biscuits

2 c. almond flour

¼ c. coconut flour (coconut flour makes the biscuit “breadier”)

3 eggs

½ tsp. baking soda

1 c. sour cream

Mix everything together and then scoop onto a lined baking sheet. I used a disher and ended up with 10 nice-sized biscuits. You don’t have to pat them down because the sour cream keeps the batter moist enough that they’ll spread and flatten a little during baking. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

‘sup?

hullo?

Yeah… it’s September now.  Does anyone know what happened to August?  I swear I left it right here, and then I turned around and it was gone.  I bet one of the dogs dragged it into the yard and chewed it up.  Those dogs… that’s why we can’t have nice things.

We spent a weekend in Temecula, then a weekend in Vegas for my mom’s birthday.  Went flightlining along a ridge in the desert (so fun!) and I got all dressed up to see Nora Jones and was fed overpriced, underwhelming food court pizza because the “brewpub” I was taken had closed their kitchen capabilities two years ago and all the good restaurants had an hour-long wait.

I had the best intentions to finally put up the photos of our New York trip, seeing as how it’s been a year since we were there, but – get this – it takes time to sit down, transfer pictures off the memory card, and then put together a post.  And I have not had time to sit.

We’re vacationing in New Zealand in a couple of weeks, a trip I’m excited about.  If all goes well, we’ll cram wine, beer, food, hiking, culture, caving, tubing, and hopefully more food into a(nother) whirlwind trip.  Seriously.  If we could just win that lottery and not have to worry about billable hours and paychecks, we could spend as much time as we wanted overseas.  Of course, I’d probably miss the pups.  Definitely the kittens.

My parents are generously watching our kittens while we’re gone; we dropped them off during our Vegas weekend and we’ll pick them up after we get home.  I’m hoping they get used to the many, many cats and dogs running around there.  They seemed a little overwhelmed when we left.

Faced with a two-week countdown to what could be a gluttonous trip (wine, cheese, ice cream, beer, meat!), I figured it would be a perfect time to also life-check that crazy Primal diet I keep reading about.  I know it’s pretty restrictive if you follow the rules, but we’re mainly just staying away from grains (did you know Primal considers corn a grain?), alcohol, and sugar.  Milk in the coffee, honey here and there, fruit – all accepted by me.  I’ve been playing with almond flour and coconut flour and I think almond flour makes a substantial baked good but coconut flour gives you something more baked-goody, although moisture-suckingly dry.  In a week, I’ve lost 5 pounds, which I suspect is water weight, or something close to it.  There’s no way I could lose 5 pounds of anything substantial.  One more week to see what happens and the end result as soon as I stick a piece of bread in my mouth.

As a parting gift, I offer you this kitty “glamour shot” pose:

meow

Happy discoveries from my last work trip

First, updates: I was going to get all creative and have the kitties pick the winner of The Jensen Project giveaway, but I ran out of time, then went away on a work trip, and I figured if I was going to pick a winner before too much time went by I’d have to rely on good ol’ Random Number Generator. So, I did. It picked #4 and the winner has been contacted. Congrats to Carole!

So… I took a short trip to SF for work. I helped out SF office on a project, which was undergoing public review, and attended a City Council meeting in case someone asked a tough question. I flew up in the morning, went to the office, carpooled to the meeting, got dropped off at my hotel, and flew out the next morning. It was a whirlwind trip and reminded me that I hate traveling.

Don’t get me wrong – I love going places, love vacations and seeing new places, and I love doing things. I’m just not a fan of getting there, at least not airplane-wise. You have to guess when you need to be at the airport to get through security, predict which line of people actually know what they’re doing and can get their stuff on the x-ray belt efficiently, decide how far from the gate you’re going to sit (because there are no open seats AT the gate), cram into a tiny seat (and I’m actually lucky because I’m short enough to be able to cross my legs in coach), and then fly with the drone of babies crying and toddlers shrieking. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to sit next to someone who smokes and/or doesn’t use deodorant. In those instances, I lean away and try to point the little air-spigot so it blows air away from me.

I also don’t like packing, unpacking, repacking, unpacking, and then doing laundry.

But, when you have to fly you just have to deal. I discovered two things on this last trip that made everything much better. One, I’m guessing you don’t know about. The other, I’m guessing everyone in the world knew about it and neglected to tell me.

I stayed at the Travelodge Airport South (don’t get confused with the North location). It’s located on El Camino Real in Millbrae, but it’s just minutes away from the SFO airport. Yes, it’s a Travelodge. Yes, it’s by the airport. But, here’s why I think it’s an awesome find:

There’s a free shuttle to and from the airport; you just need to call and let them know you’re waiting. They’re the first drop off after the hotel and from the hotel they go straight to the airport (no riding around to other hotels).

There’s free parking at the hotel, in case you need a rental car for your stay.

It’s within easy walking distance to the Millbrae BART, which takes you into the city (only costs $4.25 to get to Embarcadero but does take about 35 minutes to do so). Easy walking distance means E.A.S.Y. because I’m not really a fan of walking too far for anything.

It’s across the street from Walgreens, CVS, and a grocery store in case you want to grab a bottle of water or candy or ice cream.

It’s within easy walking distance of a Japanese restaurant, Chinese (we actually ate dim sum there on a separate occasion), coffee car, café, and a Vietnamese place (that is open until 10:30pm)

It’s next to Wendy’s and across from Chipotle, in case you like to eat fast food when traveling.

There is free wi-fi and more cable channels that you’ll know what to do with.

The rooms have all been renovated with pillowtop beds, soft pillows, and pretty tile showers.

Their “expanded” continental breakfast has two coffee machines (one Maxwell and one fancy espresso/latte), juice, toast/waffles/cinnamon French toast that you toast in a toaster, yogurt, cold cereal, granola, juice, fruit, scones/bread pudding squares/cinnamon rolls, organic jam, and real maple syrup. Very nice.

It’s quiet. I’ve stayed on the third floor and the ground floor and neither night did I need to put in earplugs because of noise.

When I went up for work, the room rate ended up being $95 after all the taxes and whatever. To me, that’s a pretty sweet deal.

Unless there’s a reason for staying in the city, I can’t imagine staying anywhere else.

I flew Southwest because they go non-stop to SFO. Flying Southwest means no assigned seating. I always get stuck in the middle seat when I travel with Travis because he likes the lean against the window. I actually prefer the aisle, so I don’t have to climb over anyone to get to the bathroom. So, for some reason, when I fly Southwest I’m obsessed with getting the best boarding number I can. Before I leave, I always check in online the minute I’m 24 hours away from departure, but on the way back I usually don’t have access to a computer and/or printer. For some reason, I thought if you check in online it creates hassles to print out a boarding pass at the airport (maybe because United gives me a hassle when I try to do this). So, I just check in when I get to the airport and then deal with my lowly boarding priority and hope for an empty flight. Well, this last time I decided there must be an iPhone app for exactly this type of problem and there is. You can check in online through the app (you can probably do this through the browser, too) and get your nice “A” group priority and when you get to the airport all you need to do is “reprint” your boarding pass. This all assumes you’re not checking luggage. If you’re checking luggage you have to deal with all sorts of other hassles, like immensely huge lines.

things to come

Many apologies for the stop-and-go flow of posting… it’s just that sometimes I get a lot of free time and get motivated to download pictures off the camera and sometimes I just don’t. If I was a dedicated “blogger”, I guess I would be disciplined enough to set aside the time to write posts and take pretty pictures for you on a regular basis. But, I have a day job and I just try to get dinner done on time for some couch-sitting, time on the treadmill or with Jillian Michaels, and occasionally a little face time with Travis. Plus, there are these dogs, a chicken, and new chicks that like attention and care and whatnot. I suppose that’s why I don’t have a blogger book coming out. I let my regular life take precedent over the internet. It’s also why I rely on Joel McHale to watch all the garbage on tv for me and sum it up weekly on The Soup.

There are exciting things coming down the pipeline, though! We named two out of three chicks and I have plans to take better pictures of them. The third chick we are still debating whether to give her a real name, give her a food name (like Pot Pie or Dinner), or just call her Chicken. It’s sad, but we just don’t like her as much as the other chicks. She’s not tiny and cute, she’s not going to be a pretty redhead, and so far she just seems like trouble. I say this now, but I’m sure when she grows up she’ll be very nice and we’ll love her (of course we’ll love her, we’ll probably just tease her a lot).

Travis managed to take some pictures of our Momofuku-inspired dinner, when he was off judging beers and I was left with an entire day to play in the kitchen. It was really good and we’ve been enjoying the leftovers all week. I don’t know if I’d be as impressed or excited if we hadn’t eaten there, though. Hard to say.

There is the possibility of a grill pan review coming up, paired with another giveaway! So, definitely keep an eye out for that. I think that will be fun.

We’ve been invited to the grand opening shindig for the “new and improved” Bali Hai restaurant tonight. I brought a camera, but the battery may not be charged, so you may end up with iPhone pictures or none at all. Sorry. Yet another reason I’m not a good enough blogger to have my own book in the works.

Bones (Denver)

It’s a blast from the past!  Not to mention an actual post about food!  With pictures (even if they are poor iPhone pics)!

So… back in February, we went to Denver (and surrounding areas) to visit some of Travis’ friends and see the new babies that are now walking and (practically) talking.  Yes, this post is 2 months late.  You should prepare yourselves for the posts from our New York trip I still haven’t written.

Because we were going to be bouncing around every day, visiting all these different people in different areas, I’d pretty much accepted that we’d just be eating whatever was convenient to wherever we ended up.  Except for the night we landed and the night we were leaving.  Since we had an 8 PM flight out of Denver and most of my choices didn’t even open for dinner until 5 PM (or later), I had to get a little creative.  Thus, I tried to plan a dinner at Bones for the night we arrived.  Because we were arriving on a Thursday and our flight was scheduled to come in at 8:30 PM, we had a very small window to make this happen (if we were flying in on a Friday, I would have had an extra hour before closing to play with).  I made the latest reservations I could, Travis signed up for the rental car “club” so we could pick up our car through a kiosk, and I started salivating over pork belly buns and lobster ramen (I was missing the pork belly buns from Ssam Bar).

I don’t know what I did to make the Universe mad at me, but it seemed like everything was conspiring against our making it to Bones for tasty food.  Our flight was delayed (the incoming flight was late, it took forever for people to board, plus we got stuck in the departing “line”).  The pilot said we’d make it up and actually land in Denver early.  He lied, we made it into Denver late, and I’m not ashamed to say I did not let people with connecting flights get off the plane before me.  I had a connection to make, too!  An important connection with tasty pig parts!  We race out of the airport and wait for the rental shuttle to show up.  I swear, we always rent from the company that has 1 shuttle when everyone else has 4 circling around.  Then, when we finally got to the rental counter, the kiosk would let us access our reservation.  We had to wait in line!  We finally get the paperwork done and go pick a car.  Wouldn’t you know it?  The car we picked has no gas.  Like, I don’t think it would have made it to the exit station.  So, we turn around and try to find another car and end up with some stupid Kia that barely goes 65 on the freeway!  Meanwhile, I’m constantly calling Bones, speaking with the lovely host Adam, telling him where we are and trying to figure out if we’ll make it before they close up.  He must have thought I was crazy, working so hard to eat there.  But we only had one shot!

We eventually get to Bones, after hitting every red light possible, and find a parking spot right across the street (of course we do, it’s practically 10 PM and everything’s getting ready to close!)  The second we get in the door, I let out a huge sigh and I swear everyone in there knew exactly who we were.  They were very nice about it all, though, and Adam brought us a glass of sake, sensing we needed a stiff drink to start off with.

I have to give many props to poor Travis for not only putting up with me through that whole craziness, getting us to Bones in a calm and orderly manner (while trying to go as fast as the car would allow), and not asking me what the big deal is and why we couldn’t just eat somewhere else.  He’s a good man.

pork buns!

We started with pork buns, of course!  It’s why we were there!  They were completely different from the ones at Ssam Bar, but delicious in their own right.  The buns were a little chewy, and the pork belly was cubed instead of sliced.  But, the pork belly also had a crispy later on top, which just makes you love pork even more.  There’s also a version of buns with suckling pig, which I contemplated ordering, but I’m a sucker for pork belly.  I can’t help it.

*drool* bone marrow

I’m also a sucker for bone marrow.  Even though I know how easy it is to make at home, I can’t resist ordering it if I see it on a menu.  Mainly because I don’t have to cook it, and also because it’s usually accompanied by some tasty condiments that I probably wouldn’t have at home.  This came with crispy/chewy bread slices and a figgy jam.  A smear of jam on the bread, with a dollop of marrow and a sprinkle of salt?  Incredible.

hard to find beer

Travis was excited to see they had a good beer list.  Here he’s enjoying a Lion Stout from Sri Lanka… it was very smooth.  I think.

buttery lobster ramen

Then, even though we were so full (at least, I was), we ordered ramen.  Because everything I’d read said that it was a must-eat.  Travis had the pork shoulder ramen with a poached egg and I got the miso lobster ramen.  I’ve eaten a lot of ramen in my life and I’ve never had anything like this.  The miso was very subtle – instead, the ramen broth was full of lobster flavor with a rich, buttery mouthfeel.  The noodles were perfectly chewy/soft and the edamame got tangled up in the noodles to add a little texture.  But the broth was amazing.  Travis’ ramen was good, too, but not life-changing.  Lobster ramen?  Life changing.

We didn’t get dessert there, mainly because I couldn’t have shoved another morsel (not even a wafer thin mint) into my mouth.  And, the dessert menu didn’t look as enticing and the rest of the food.  It was a really good meal and if we’re in Denver again I’d love to go back.  I’d have to go hungry, though, because there are more appetizers I’d like to try, but I don’t think I could pass up the lobster ramen.

Many thanks to the staff at Bones who encouraged us to keep trying to arrive on time, serving us well, and not making us feel bad for being the last diners there (in reality, we weren’t there much longer after the last people left).  It was an amazing meal and well worth the drama to get there!

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