20/20 in 2020

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I finally did it. I got LASIK at Feinerman Vision Center. And now I understand why everyone says they wished they got it sooner because that is exactly how I feel. The entire process was about 15 mins long and I felt like I could see better immediately after than I could have before without contacts or glasses. The only discomfort I felt was on the car ride home (in traffic) when the numbing drops started to wear off and I didn’t have any pain medication to take. However, once I got home and popped some ibuprofen and took a nap, I was fine. I spent the weekend in bed and slept more than I’ve ever slept, probably ever.

I do see some halos around lights at night (which is common post surgery), but it is honestly not any different than what I experienced with contacts so it really doesn’t bother me. If this does improve, awesome. If it doesn’t, so be it. I’m just glad that I can now watch TV in bed and not have to get up to take off my contacts before sleeping!

Looking Back: Decade in Review

The 2010s. What a decade.

The first five years were painful and the lowest period of my life; the last five were exciting, yet stressful, with many important milestones checked off: I bought my first place, got promoted, and most importantly, reconnected with CT. We’ve since renovated our first home together, went on some amazing adventures, and got engaged (underwater!).

One of the most important things I’ve learned this decade is that asking for help is OK and this applies to all aspects in life: home, work, friends. I’ve had to work through this internal struggle of being burnt out but still wanting to do everything myself and then beating myself for being burnt out. In the beginning of the decade, I would have never, ever, ever, even have thought about hiring cleaners or a wedding planner, but here I am now with both because Iwe need the help. I’ve had to learn to delegate at work to save my own sanity – this is still a work in progress but I’m getting better at it. So as flattering as it would be to be considered Superwoman, I am not and I’m OK with that now. And btw, this is in no way a humblebrag – in fact, if you are someone that can do everything, I applaud you; YOU are amazing.

2010

I started this blog! I initially wanted a place for me to document the food I was eating, making and the places I was visiting. I started trying out more restaurants this year and one of my favorites was Alinea (and it still happens to be on my top 10 list).

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Alinea

2011

There was a lot of snowboarding. I even hiked up 13,000ft to ride the bowls at Breckenridge.

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2012

I took a hockey clinic hosted by the LA Kings!

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Also experienced via ferrata for the first time

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2013

I ran my first marathon.

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I also moved down to San Diego, intending to only stay for a year or two, but ended up living there for 6.

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2014

A rough year for me, but I got through it by getting back to the basics and focusing on myself. I read and cooked a lot this year.

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2015

I finally got a chance to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF.

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And became a first time homeowner!

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2016

I reconnected with CT ♥

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2017

CT and I ice skated on Lake Louise and snowshoed to Peyto Lake.

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We also explored Machu Picchu.

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2018

We renovated our first house together. This really tested how well we’re able to work together and communicate. There were definitely miscommunication at times and differences in opinion, but we got through it all and we’re super happy with the end result.

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kitchen before
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living room before
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master bath before
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downstairs guest bath before
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kitchen in process
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kitchen in process
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living room in process – CT’s sketch haha
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master bath in process
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downstairs guest bath in process
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kitchen after
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living room after
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master bath after
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downstairs guest bath after
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downstairs guest bath after – still in love with these floor tiles

We went on the vacation of my dreams and spent 2 weeks eating our way through Italy (and also a few days Barcelona). We listened to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in Vivaldi’s church in Venice, made fresh pasta in Bologna, reenacted “hey cutie” from Master of None Season 2 in Modena, witnessed a beautiful sunset in Florence, biked through Tuscany, hiked Cinque Terre, made pizza in Naples, and visited the historic sites of Rome.

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ode to Master of None season 2 – “hi cutie”
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2019

We completed our PADI certification in Maui.

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And then got engaged while diving in Seattle.

I’m excited for what lies ahead in the 2020s. And what better way to start the decade than by marrying my best friend ♥

Certified

My first time to Maui was in 2008. With H. I don’t remember much from that trip with the exception of snorkeling at Molokini Crater. The visibility was fantastic, but the water was really rough at the surface which made snorkeling a bit challenging. I took in a good amount of water, which really dampened the experience (no pun intended).

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So when CT initially asked to go to Maui together, I wasn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity. One, because I had already been. And two, I had already been with H. I know there shouldn’t be a problem with returning to a place that you had been with an ex, but I don’t know… it just always felt weird to do so. I was able to hold him off for about a year and a half by going to other places like Canada, Peru, and Italy. But it got to a point where I couldn’t ignore his request any longer. And besides, it would have been unfair to keep doing so.

To differentiate from the past, one of the things I thought we could do together on this trip was get PADI certified. This has been on my bucket list and it just made sense to check this off in a beautiful location with exotic marine life such as Maui. Luckily, CT was interested too!

I was considering two dive shops: ProDiver Maui and Maui Dive Shop. I ended going with ProDiver because it was cheaper and just had great reviews across all platforms (yelp, google, tripadvisor). ProDiver was $369/person for 3 days, while Maui Dive Shop was $499/person. E-learning is paid separately to PADI and the cost was $190/person.

The open water course spanned across 3 days so much of our vacation was dedicated to scuba. The first half of Day 1 consisted of taking a short quiz of the E-Learning material, practicing assembling and disassembling our gear, and then moving to the pool for the swim and float tests. These tests involved swimming for 200 meters without touching anything and floating/treading water for 10 minutes. This is non-negotiable – you must know how to swim in order to proceed. We were told that there are have been people that have signed up for the course thinking otherwise, which honestly blew my mind. People… DO YOU WANT TO LIVE?

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After the swim and float tests, we put on our gear and started practicing skills in the shallow end of the pool. That first breath underwater through the regulator was such an awkward experience for me. I kept panicking and thinking, this is NOT normal. It took a while for me to feel completely comfortable underwater, but once I did, I had no issues completing skills with the exception of mask/snorkel skills. As a contact lens wearer, mask skills were THE WORST. I was always afraid that I would lose my contacts in the water.

We then moved to the deep end of the pool where we practiced additional skills such as 5 point descent/ascent, proper weighting to achieve neutral buoyancy, hover, BCD oral inflation, etc. The first day felt a little bit overwhelming, but we were really excited to take what we learned into open water.

Day 2 was the first of our open water dives. The dive site was Makena Landing, which is about a 20 minute drive from Kihei.

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We set up and put on our gear, performed buddy checks on one another (CT and I) and then headed off into the water for OW Dive #1. I still panicked initially and it didn’t help that I seemed to have a difficult time descending down (our instructor had to check that I was weighted properly), but after I got over the initial descent, everything felt so natural and effortless.

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the first of many turtle sightings

After about 45 minutes or so, we headed back to our dive flag, ascended and swam back to shore. Once back on land, we switched out our tanks and discussed the dive plan and skills for the next dive. We performed buddy checks again and headed back into the water for OW Dive #2.

Once again, I was having trouble descending so our instructor tried to help by adding more weight to adjust my buoyancy. He started getting concerned when I had more weight than he did so he checked my BCD and lo and behold, the left weight that was supposed to be clipped into my BCD was missing. BUDDY CHECK FAIL, CT! Good thing one of the snorkelers near the shore found it and a ~9 lb. piece of lead wasn’t lost on the ocean floor!

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🤷

The last day of OW certification was our designated boat dive. We hopped onto a boat at the Kihei Boat Ramp and headed out to Molokini Crater.

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kihei boat ramp, taken in 2008
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same ole kihei boat ramp, taken in 2019
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Before we could have “fun” and explore, we had to knock out a few skills. One of which was to hover via BCD oral inflation. This means I had breathe in through my regulator, switch to the BCD, blow into that to inflate my BCD (and become more buoyant), but save enough air so that when I switch back to my regulator, I can clear it with another breath out before resuming normal breathing.

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oops! too much air

Another skill was the mask removal. This involved removing my mask completely, putting it back on and clearing it. I honestly thought I was going to have a panic attack, but I somehow managed to stay calm. I kept having to remind myself to only breathe through the regulator in my mouth and not through my nose. Sounds easy, but it really did take a lot of focus. And surprise, surprise, I also had trouble clearing my mask this time and ended up opening my eyes while I still had water in my mask. Ugh. THE WORST.

After completing our skills on OW Dive #3, we spent the rest of the dive exploring around Molokini Crater before heading to another dive site, White Rock, for OW Dive #4.

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The highlight of the dive was seeing a manta ray. What a great way to finish our certification!

Aaand just like that, we became PADI Open Water Certified. Bucket list ✔️

This was another great trip in the books, not only because of what we achieved but because it helped me get over my anxiety about returning to a place that I had been with an ex. Wonderful new memories of Maui have now replaced the faded old ones and I am actually looking forward to sharing the places that I love with CT and creating more memories together.

For The Love Of Matcha

Addiction is real.

During this sweater weather there have been days when I just crave a matcha latte. And when I say days, I mean like 5. In a row. Basically a week. Help.

A grande matcha with soy is $4.85 at Starbucks. That’s $34 a week. $146 a month. $1,770 a year. Holy shit! I’d rather use this money to travel!

So I decided to look for an alternative. My extensive internet research led me to one mind blowing realization… I can just make my own matcha latte!

I proceeded to purchase everything I need to turn myself into a part time barista:

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I followed these steps for green tea preparation (+honey). And added frothed up soy milk.

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Voila!

Tupananchikkama (Peru: Part III)

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Tupananchikkama (until we meet again)

That’s what we whispered as we peered over our shoulders to catch a glimpse of Huayna Picchu one last time.


…continued from Tupananchikkama (Peru: Part II)

After Machu Picchu, we headed to back to Lima and spent the last couple of days there. Our main objective was to EAT. And that we did. From a high brow tasting menu to a simple chicharron sandwich, we definitely had all of our food bases covered as we explored the city.

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El Chinito
had to get the signature sandwich
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Anticucheria El Tio Mario
this was surprisingly bland
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La Lucha Sangucheria
winner: El Chinito
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el beso in parque del amor
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La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
when in lima, we eat ceviche

And about that high brow meal at Maido (#8 on the World’s Best 50 Restaurant list of 2017)… so creative and delicious! I really appreciated the modern gastronomic showcase of Nikkei cuisine, which is a combination of Peruvian ingredients with Japanese techniques.

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beautiful interior of Maido
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cute glasses for our wine pairing
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an amazing meal from start to finish

Besides the food, I also loved the incredible street art in Lima, especially in Barranco, where our B&B was located. Here are some of my favorites that I captured while taking a stroll down to Playa Barranco.

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One of the things I wanted to do before we headed home was to watch the water show at Circuito Magico del Agua and explore the many water fountains in the park so that is what we did on our last night. The water show at the Fuente de la Fantasía (Fantasia Fountain) takes place 3 times a night, beginning at 7:15 pm, 8:15 pm and 9:30 pm.

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Fuente de la Fantasía (Fantasia Fountain)
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watching the show
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Fuente Mágica (Magic Fountain)
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Fuente de la Ilusión (Fountain of Illusion)
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Túnel de las Sorpresas (Tunnel of Surprises)
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Laberinto del Ensueño (Maze of the Dream)

This trip was short but amazing. We explored two very different cities in Peru, hiked around one of the new world wonders, tried various local ingredients, and ate at one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. I could not have asked for any more.

Where to next?

Verdicts:
Anticucheria El Tio Mario 3.5/5
El Chinito, 4/5
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, 4/5
La Lucha Sangucheria, 3.5/5
Maido, 4.5/5

Tupananchikkama (Peru: Part II)

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Tupananchikkama (until we meet again)

That’s what we whispered as we peered over our shoulders to catch a glimpse of Huayna Picchu one last time.


…continued from Tupananchikkama (Peru: Part I)

The next day, I had booked us what I thought would be an casual bike ride through the Sacred Valley of Peru. Boy, was I wrong! Why did I not learn from the last time I did any sort of physical activity at 11,000+ feet?! I usually love biking uphill because I’m all about working out that bootayy, but man, even biking the slightest incline was extremely difficult at this altitude. Our lungs were NOT prepared for this shit.

There were two stops on this tour. The first stop was Moray, an Incan ruin believed to have once been used as an agricultural laboratory of sorts. Each level of the circular terraced bowl exhibited a different micro climate, allowing the Incans to experiment with various vegetation.

While we did not bike to Moray (thank goodness), we did bike to our next stop: Maras. The path went from wide open and fairly flat to narrow, downhill, on the side of the mountain.

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Scary AF

The town of Maras is known for the salt ponds that sit on the slopes of the Qaqawiñay mountain. Some 3,000 shallow pools are filled with the hypersaline water that flows through an intricate network of channels from the Qoripujio spring. Once full, the water in the ponds is left to evaporate and the remaining deposits are raked into a basket to be sorted, bagged and sold. An admission fee of 10 soles and a short hike from the small parking lot take you down to the salt mines. We bought a few bags of salt to take home for ourselves and as gifts for our foodie friends. Based on what we purchased, the grain size is a bit more coarse than I’m used to so I would definitely recommend for use as a finishing salt rather than a salt to cook with. The taste is more salty, for the lack of a better description.

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And (drum roll) for the main event, we traveled to Machu Picchu bright and early the next morning aboard the Vistadome train. This train was an upgrade from the normal Expedition train, but the panoramic windows and food service offered both ways were well worth the extra cost.

all aboard!

Our journey began with 20 min car ride to the Poroy Train Station and from there, it took 3.5 hours to get to Machu Picchu by train (~ 4 hours one way). The Poroy Station is only open from May through December so for those considering traveling from January through April, the trip from Cusco to Machu Picchu consists of a long BUS ride to the Ollantaytambo Station and then taking a train from there (~4.5 hours one way).

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Great views on the train – those gray things on the side of the mountain are the Skylodge pods
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Given the limited vacation days we had for this trip, we decided against trekking to Machu Picchu. Although now looking back, I probably would have given up one day in Lima for a day trek to Machu Picchu.

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You can see people hiking the trail

The last stop of the train was the Machu Picchu Train Station, located in Machu Picchu Town aka Aguas Calientes. From the train station, we walked 10 min into town to the bus station and after a 30 min bus ride, we were finally at the entrance. FINALLY. After almost 5 hours. FIVE. CINCO.

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We met up with our tour guide and got to exploring this new wonder of the world.

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Bucket list √

Tupananchikkama (Peru: Part I)

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Tupananchikkama (until we meet again)

That’s what we whispered as we peered over our shoulders to catch a glimpse of Huayna Picchu one last time.


The plan:

  • Cusco, 4 days
  • Lima, 2 days

The activities:

  • Mountain biking to Moray and Salt Mines
  • Machu Picchu tour
  • Chocolate making class
  • Horseback riding
  • EAT

Like Canada, this was another short notice trip, by my standards anyway. We finalized travel plans in March for our trip in May. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time planning because there are so many things we didn’t get to do. But that’s why we have to go back, right?

This being my first international trip (to another continent), the travel time to Cusco was almost unbearable. We took a red eye to Lima, with a layover in Panama City, and then a domestic flight to Cusco. All in all, the total travel time including layovers was 17 hours. I am so so so thankful for airport lounges because we were able to relax, take a nap, stay hydrated or caffeinated, use wifi, and have access to clean restrooms.

When we finally arrived in Cusco, we were too tired to deal with having to negotiate a cheaper taxi fare so we just took an official taxi offered inside the airport. The ride to our hotel in the San Blas neighborhood cost us 50 soles (~$15). You can definitely get a cheaper fare (~15 soles) if you bargain with one of the many taxi drivers waiting outside in the airport parking lot.

Fair warning: taxi drivers here are CRAZY. I’m pretty sure I saw my life flash before my eyes a few times so I’m still amazed how we were not involved in any accidents nor did we witness one.

The best thing about our hotel, Pension Alemana, was this amazing view of Cusco…

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Having this view did come at a price, physically. Since it is situated higher than the main part of town, walking to and from our hotel was a real workout. While we didn’t suffer from any symptoms of altitude sickness (we took medicine beforehand), our lungs felt even the slightest bit of incline.

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our daily walk… so. many. steps.

The other pros of the hotel included continental breakfast and having water/tea/coffee/fruit available all day near the front desk. The continental breakfast is offered with made to order eggs in the restaurant upstairs (not just hard boiled eggs yay!). Tip: the wifi is actually MUCH better in the restaurant than in the room so make use of the free drink coupons provided or just grab a beer during whatever downtime and use the wifi there. 

The cons included thin walls and poor wifi. Our room (#303) was close to the stairs and we were able to hear people walking up and down. And even though our itinerary didn’t allow for us to sleep in much, we were still woken up fairly early due to construction on the building across the street.

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After checking in and freshening up a bit, we headed to dinner at Pachapapa, known for their cuy (guinea pig). YAAAAAS, WE TRIED GUINEA PIG! AND ALPACA!

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We enjoyed our meal with some live entertainment…

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when in peru… cuy horneado con huacatay y aji panca (roasted guinea pig) / pachapapa (alpaca) / ceviche de trucha (trout ceviche)

I was not a fan of the cuy. I’ve heard people say that it is too “gamey” but it wasn’t that for me. There was just so little meat! Despite the skin being nice and crispy, I honestly felt like I was just eating skin and fat, and if it was just that, why am I paying so much (72 soles!)? The alpaca, on the other hand, was delicious! The tenderness of the meat reminded me of veal and the flavor was very mild and not distinct. It was hard to pinpoint what it tasted like… chicken? beef? mixture of both? The ceviche, although good, was my least favorite ceviche we had during this trip.

The next day was spent exploring Cusco.

We started by heading down to Plaza de Armas, where there was a parade going on.

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Next we created our own foodie tour of San Pedro Market

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Our game plan was to not get full off one thing and try a little bit of everything. We also targeted booths that seemed to be filled with locals, not tourists.

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first stop: jugos de frutas! i had naranja con mango y cherimoya
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second stop: some damn good caldo de gallina
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third stop: seco de cordero (lamb stew)

We tried our best, but by this time, we were pretty stuffed. We couldn’t pass up tamales though. We even bought a few extra in case we needed a snack later on.

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SO GOOD!

We finished our tour of San Pedro Market by perusing through the merchandise area for souvenirs to bring home. Afterwards, we set out in search of a local coffee shop for a pick me up and wifi.

As we were walking around, we passed by ChocoMuseo. While I was in the midst of planning this trip, I had considered booking a truffle making class, but held off since I wasn’t sure if we would have enough time. Now that we were actually there, I caught a major case of FOMO and didn’t want to leave Peru without taking a class. Unfortunately, the truffle class wasn’t available, but we were able to snag spots for the chocolate class later that day! But committing to the chocolate class meant that we had only 2.5 hours to get to and explore Sacsayhuaman, about 1 mile away. It would be a 30 minute walk, which didn’t sound too bad, so we decided we would walk there and take a cab ride back. Within 5 minutes, I regretted our decision…

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When we got to the first gate, I was so out of breath! To give you some perspective on the steepness of the walk up to Sacsayhuaman, this view is only half way up…

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Our exhaustion made us susceptible to hustlers. When we were approached by men offering us horseback riding to Sacsayhuaman with stops at other sites in between, we were basically like, JUST TAKE OUR MONEY.

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We stopped to check out Temple of the Moon while our “guide” (he really didn’t do much besides keep the horses in line) took a nap.

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While at the top of Temple of the Moon, CT was told about another temple nearby, Temple of the Monkey. We followed the general directions provided and even tried using GPS, but after 15 minutes of searching, we gave up and headed to Sacsayhuaman.

When we first agreed to horseback riding, we thought that we would be riding horseback to Sacsayhuaman. This turned out to not be the case. We had to get off our horses and walk down the main road for about 15 mins to get to Sacsayhuaman. This was pretty annoying since we were short on time. We essentially paid 40 soles each for an hour of riding, which isn’t bad when you think about it in US $ (~$13), but it probably wasn’t the best deal. However, I definitely would recommend horseback as a means to see the various ruins around Cusco!

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Sacsayhuaman, a fortress-temple complex made of stone, is one​ of the many sites included in the boleto turistico. There are a few options in purchasing the boleto turistico:

  • A complete ticket (130 soles) gives you access to all participating sites and is valid for 10 days
  • A partial ticket (70 soles) is broken up into circuits:
    • Sacsayhuaman, Q’enko, Tambomachay and Puca Pucara. Valid for 1 day.
    • Museum of Regional History, Museum of Contemporary Art, Koricancha Museum (but not Koricancha itself), Museum of Popular Art, Native Music and Dance Centre, Pachacutec Monument, Pikillacta & Tipon. Valid for 2 days.
    • Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero & Moray. Valid for 2 days.

Since we had planned to visit Sacsayhuaman and Moray, we purchased the full boleto turistico.

By the time we got to Sacsayhuaman, we really didn’t have much time explore. We walked around for about 15 mins, took some pictures, and headed back to town for the chocolate class.

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Was I sad that we didn’t have more time to explore Sacsayhuaman? Sure. Did I regret booking the chocolate class? Not for a second! I’m really glad we were able to take the class. It was informative, hands-on, entertaining, and most importantly, tasty! We sampled chocolate from various regions of Peru/South America and went through most of the steps of the chocolate making process. I say most because the class skips the step of melting chocolate for the sake of time. We also learned to use ingredients for other purposes: shells of the roasted cacao beans for tea and and paste we grinded from the beans into hot chocolate.

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At the end of class, we made our own chocolate molds and added whatever ingredients we wanted.

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We ended the day with a delicious dinner at Barrio Ceviche, one of the many restaurants that line Plaza de Armas.

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This was one of my favorite meals of the trip. We ordered the El Trio which is essentially a taster of the restaurant’s most popular dishes: classic ceviche (fish only), seafood fried rice, and fried seafood.  It was very reasonably priced and the portions were a good size. We also ordered an additional ceviche that included other seafood (octopus, calamari, shrimp).

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(left) ceviche clasico; (top) arroz con mariscos; (right) jalea
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ceviche arequipa

This meal was a delicious end to our jam-packed day. We headed back to our hotel after dinner since we had an early start for our mountain biking tour the next day.

to be continued…

Verdicts:
Pachapapa, 3.5/5
San Pedro Market, 4/5
Barrio Ceviche, 4.5/5

O Canada!

My first trip of 2017 was to the beautiful Canadian Rockies: Banff/Lake Louise. Banff has been on my radar for quite some time now. I actually intended to visit during summer so I could hike and canoe on Lake Moraine, but when I found out that there are a couple of popular ski resorts in the Banff area (included in the Mountain Collective Pass btw), I decided to stop waiting and persuaded CT to go.

The plan:

  • Fly into Calgary + 1 night
  • Drive to Banff/Lake Louise + 4 nights

The activities:

  • Peyto Lake lookout
  • Ice skating on Lake Louise
  • Ice Magic Festival
  • Banff Snow Days
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowmobiling

Prior to boarding our Air Canada flight, we relaxed in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at LAX. I’ve never actually been in a lounge before – it was always rush to the airport and wait by the gate. The lounge offered free beverages (middle-shelf alcohol and wine included), free food, clean bathrooms, comfy chairs. sweeeeeeet!

The flight to Calgary was about 3 hours + 1 hour for the time change. I had the window seat and was excited to see what Calgary looked like from the air and all I saw was…

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brown.

We breezed through Customs, grabbed our luggage, picked up our rental and headed into the city where we booked an AirBnB for the night.

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The location of the condo was fantastic. It was walking distance from bars, coffee shops, stores, restaurants. We even walked to dinner at Ox and Angela!

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stuffed squid in its own ink / salt cod and potatoe croquetta / jamon croquetta / paella

The paella, which I was most excited for, turned out to be most disappointing. Such a shame! The rice was overly salty while the calamari had absolutely no flavor. It was as if the calamari was an afterthought, just sprinkled on top instead of being incorporated into the dish. Everything else was really good, especially the jamon croquettes (not pictured). CT was not a big fan of the stuffed squid. I enjoyed them; they reminded me of the Vietnamese stuffed squid that I LOVE.

After dinner, we went to get ice cream. Because… I’m always down for ice cream. Even in 30 degree weather!

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The next day, we checked out and brunched at OEB.

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super cute decor!

I picked this place because of their expansive menu, which, for someone as indecisive as myself, doesn’t quiet make sense. It turned out to be surprisingly easy for me to order. My eyes honed in on two words: truffle and cheesecake.

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“gold digga” / “sweet dreams are made of these”

Underneath the beautifully poached egg of the “Gold Digga” were duck fat fried potatoes, pork belly, cheese curds and black truffle, all smothered in Hollandaise. To satisfy our sweet tooth, we ordered the “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These”, which is essentially a slice of NY cheesecake sandwiched between two pieces of french toast.

After this delicious meal, we rolled ourselves out and headed to Lake Louise. I’m not sure how I managed to keep myself awake during the 2 hour trip there. I’m a notorious car napper. Maybe it was because of the beautiful scenery…

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We stopped in Lake Louise to rent snowshoes. I had planned to hike to Peyto Lake lookout and from my research, I knew we would be walking in snow. I just wasn’t sure how deep it would be so I wanted to play it safe. Plus, now I could say that I’ve snowshoed!

Peyto Lake, the infamous wolf headed lake, is about a 40-50 min drive north of Lake Louise on Hwy 93 (Icefields Parkway). As you can see (below), in contrast to the Trans-Canada Highway (above), Icefields Parkway is not regularly plowed or maintained. The road was labeled as being in “poor condition” while we were there. If you’re planning to travel on the Icefields Parkway during winter, I would strongly suggest inquiring about snow tires. I’d also like to note that cell service is spotty at best in this area so plan accordingly.

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{Bow Summit And Peyto Lake Lookout In Winter } – this website was a great resource for me while planning this hike. I was able to recognize the trail head and the trail to the lookout based on the pictures posted.

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start of the trail: walk past the wooden washroom…

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then walk past the trees and turn right…

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continue up the road…

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you’ll pass a speed limit sign on your left, which could be covered depending on the amount of snow (this pic was taken looking down to the start of the trail) …

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continue until you see this sign…

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follow the path to the right and you will find…

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Gorgeous, right?!

If we didn’t have to return our snowshoes by 5pm, we would have hiked around the area. Instead we just lingered a bit to eat our packed lunch.

Back in Lake Louise, we essentially traded our snowshoes for ice skates

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bucket list: ice skate on lake louise √

Again, gorgeous right?!?!

I loooooove ice skating, but ice skating on natural ice, surrounded by beautiful views, with snow falling was just unreal.

We happened to be in Lake Louise during the annual Ice Magic Festival so we decided to check out the sculptures after ice skating.

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The festival is held outside Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, between the hotel and the actual lake. The first time we visited (after ice skating), the participants had just started working on the sculptures. We came back to see the finished products a couple of days later. Here are just a few of the amazing creations!

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Afterwards, we drove to Banff, checked into our hotel, Fox Hotel & Suites, and ended the day with a nice dinner at Three Ravens Restaurant.

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amuse bouche; smoked elk tartare with dehydrated bison; green eggs and ham duck breast; beef tenderloin; tonka bean creme brulee

Three Ravens is one of the more upscale restaurants in Banff. It is located in the corner of a large dining hall (cafeteria) on the 4th floor of the Banff Centre. With tall glass windows overlooking Banff, I’m sure the view is amazing. Unfortunately, we had dinner at 8PM, well after sunset.

The food and service were excellent. My duck and CT’s steak were cooked to perfection! I was less impressed with the creme brulee, but overall, it was a great meal. I would definitely recommend if you’re looking for a nice evening out in Banff.

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We spent the next couple of days snowboarding at two popular ski resorts in the Banff area: Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. My personal favorite is Lake Louise, but here are my general observations of both…

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Sunshine:

Pros (1) more runs (more variety), (2) better/more snow

Cons (1) more flat areas, (2) must take loooong gondola ride from base to mid mountain lifts

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Lake Louise:

Pros (1) longer runs, (2) consistent weather, (3) easier access from base (lifts or gondola take you mid mountain)

Cons (1) Farther drive from Banff (additional 30-40 mins)

So, Peyto Lake was gorgeous. Ice skating on Lake Louise was amazing. Snowboarding was fun. But what was the highlight of this trip?

Snowmobile tour. Hands down.

We woke up early and took a 2 hour bus ride to Panorama, BC for a full day snowmobile tour with Toby Creek Adventures.

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After checking in and gearing up, we met outside to pick our snowmobiles.

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I ended up being the first one in the group, which gave me a lot of anxiety. Given that this was my first time on a snowmobile, I was afraid that I would slow every one down! Thankfully, this was not the case. We did about 4-5 laps around a practice course and I quickly got the hang of accelerating and turning.

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And then we were off!

We rode up the mountain, stopped a few times to check out the beautiful views and got a brief lesson on avalanche control.

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Our destination was Paradise Mine/Basin, an old mining town located at about 8000 ft. elevation. When we arrived, we warmed up in small cabin with some hot chocolate and cookies.

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And then it was play time!!!!

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Our guide showed us the perimeter of the designated play area (the basin) and then we had about 40 mins to ride around. It could have been more or less, I’m not exactly sure, I was having way too much fun to keep track of time. I can assure you that there was definitely enough time to ride your heart out.

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The feeling of flying downhill was exhilarating. Also a bit scary, not gonna lie. But I never felt unsafe! However, we did hear about an accident in another group: a lady, who was riding as a passenger, fell off of the snowmobile. It didn’t seem too serious since she didn’t need medical attention. When I booked the tour, I contemplated whether to book two drivers or driver/passenger. Obviously, I ended up booking two drivers and I’m so glad I did because (1) riding as a passenger would have been boring and (2) either of us would have probably fallen off given how fast we were going off the hills.

Our tour included lunch which consisted of burgers or hot dogs. Nothing fancy, just enough fuel to get us back down the mountain. We took a different route descending and stopped for a short hike to a frozen waterfall.

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smith falls

I actually wasn’t expecting to see this waterfall. The site that I booked the tour through didn’t mention it or maybe I just didn’t pay attention, but it was a nice surprise. And a good prelude to the following day.

Our last dinner in Banff was at Block Kitchen + Bar. To be honest, I was hesitant to dine here at first. As evidenced from the menu, I would classify this restaurant as Asian fusion and my experiences with these kinds of restaurants have not been good. But I gotta say, Block Kitchen was GOOD. I legit could not stop eating the curry!

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asian lettuce wraps with duck / panang curry with prawns / red devil calamari

The dishes were so well executed and the flavors seemingly so authentic that we had to ask, who the heck is the Chef? We were told that Chef Stephane Prevost lived in Japan for a number of years and Asian influences helped refine his cooking style.

It would have been a great last night of our trip if I hadn’t developed some kind of stomach illness during the middle of the night. I highly doubt it was food poisoning since CT did not experience the same symptoms. But interesting enough, he did have some stomach pains a couple nights before. Maybe our stomach pains were related. Maybe not. Who knows? All I knew was that I wanted to die.

I had planned to hike to the waterfalls of Johnston Canyon the next morning and I was determined to not let my stomach pains get in the way. So I sucked it up and we made the short hike to the lower falls.

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The path was icy at times. I had bought Yaktrax specifically for this trip but was too lazy to put them on. Instead, I just walked slowly and carefully with my winter boots.

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The trail continues onto the upper falls, but I only had enough strength for the short hike to the lower falls. When we got back to the car, I immediately knocked out and napped all the way back to Calgary.

We were on our way to a quick meal before heading to the airport when we passed the Peace bridge. Of course we had to stop for a quick photo op with this amazing piece of architecture.

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This trip was everything I had hoped it would be (minus the stomach illness). And it made me miss the whole trip planning process. CT had a great time as well so I can proudly say that in terms of trip planning, I still got it! I can’t wait to plan our next trip.

Verdicts:
Ox and Angela, 3.5/5
Village Ice Cream, 4/5
OEB, 5/5
Three Ravens Restaurant, 4/5
Block Kitchen + Bar, 4/5
Noodle World Restaurant, 3.5/5

2016

2016 was a roller coaster. There were many highs (my promotion) and just as many lows (my toxic relationship with T). But overall, it was a good year. A year of growth, personally and professionally. Before I welcome 2017, let me reflect on all that happened in 2016…

I furnished my place…

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I received two awards at work: employee of the quarter and team of the quarter. Also got promoted! 💵 😁

I traveled to…

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I completed some amazing hikes…

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I cooked up some new recipes and made some oldies but goodies…

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Looking back, I really can’t complain. It’s been a good year and I look forward to even bigger and better things in 2017. Bring it on beeeeetches!

xoxo, kc

Pho Is Life

For as much Vietnamese food I consume, I must have been Vietnamese in my past life.

When I was with H, we ate pho almost every weekend.

T, who is Vietnamese, expanded my Vietnamese food horizons. Thanks to his sister, I was lucky enough to have home cooked Vietnamese food basically everyday. And family events on the weekend? Food. Heaven.

Now, with CT, my Vietnamese food cravings are as strong as ever. And though he’s very supportive, it’s usually just me in SD, so it’s up to me to satisfy my own cravings.

So what’s a girl to do? Make her own pho of course. In her instant pot.

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Tadaaaa

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Yaaaaaas. Happy tummy.

I Left My Heart In Seattle

For b‘s vacation before lactation (credit: g), I suggested Seattle. I could not think of a better place for a quick girls getaway. Thankfully, my suggestion was warmly welcomed! I was so so so exited to show them why I loved Seattle so much. And in true kc fashion, I detailed planned our trip, by the hour, in an excel spreadsheet. That’s how I do.

b had a few requests, which were happily obliged:

  • Sushi Kashiba (at sushi bar)
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass
  • Hike

We arrived in Seattle late Wed night and tried to make it to Toulouse Petit for a late night snack. Unfortunately, they had already made their last call for food so we walked down the street to Mecca Cafe. We legit demolished their corned beef hash and chicken fried steak. When it’s 1am, you’re super hungry, and you find yourself in Lower Queen Anne, head to Mecca!

After our first pig out of the trip, we headed to Gas Works Park, my favorite spot to see the Seattle skyline, especially at night.

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absolutely gorgeous

By the time we checked into our AirBnB in the Fremont neighborhood, it was almost 3am! We settled in right away and knocked out. The cozy, affordable studio was just perfect for the three of us. I would highly recommend and would definitely stay there again.

We started the next day with coffee at a local coffee shop before heading to the Fremont Troll. Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s just something you have to see!

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selfie inception game strong

After the troll, we stopped by Paseo for some sandwiches. Paseo has always been my top recommendation for anyone vising Seattle. The prawn and scallop sammies were so freakin’ delicious! In the days leading up to the trip, I craved them. I dreamt about them. There might have been some drooling involved. But when I actually got my hands on the sandwiches, I was disappointed. The prawn was overly salty. Almost to the point where I didn’t want to finish it. There was also less meat than I remembered. I thought Paseo was pretty generous before, but this time around, I got more lettuce and sauteed onions than anything else. Hopefully this was just an off day…

To work off our lunch, we rented kayaks and paddled out to Lake Union. I absolutely love water sports so this is one of my favorite activities in Seattle.

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One of b‘s requests was to eat at the sushi bar of Sushi Kashiba. Reservations aren’t offered for the sushi bar so in order to secure a seat, I booked a reservation at 5:00pm, right when the restaurant opens. But being natural laggers and not accounting for the terrible parking sitch at Pike Place, we got there around 5:15pm and the sushi bar was already full. Luckily, we were told that the second seating for the sushi bar would start around 7pm so we had to option of either sitting at a regular table right away or waiting for the sushi bar. Of course we chose the latter.

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I’ve never had omakase before and I’m so glad my first time was at Sushi Kashiba. The fish was so fresh, the selection and progression was perfect for my tastes, the service was outstanding, and to top everything off, this delicious meal + sake was only $120! What a steal!

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aahhhhmazing

The last piece was blue-fin collar, my favorite of the whole meal. Talk about saving the best for last!

We followed up an amazing dinner with an amazing sunset down at the waterfront.

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The next day, we started with a quick visit to Snoqualmie Falls. It’s been 7 years or so since I last visited and there must have been some renovations because I remember the lookout point very differently.

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We then proceeded to the highlight of our trip, an 8 mile hike, or in this case, more like strategic walking on jagged rocks.

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If it wasn’t for the rocks, I would classify the hike as moderate

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The view was definitely worth it. All the pain, the exhaustion, the hunger, the thirst. EVERYTHING. Our only regret was not starting sooner so we could play in the water.

By the time we started heading back to the trailhead, it was already late. We hauled ass so we could make it home in time to get ready for a night out. Our poor feet.

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The promoter that g was talking to told us that we had to be at the club by 11pm, otherwise, there would be a really long wait. Well, we got there at 10:50pm (which btw we’ve probably never done, like ever) and it was COMPLETELY EMPTY. Not one single soul. So we just took a few shots and went to the lounge next door to drink some more.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It was so much more fun! One of the funnest nights I’ve had in a long while. Best part of the night? Witnessing a former male stripper twerk in a handstand. WOW.

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my loves

The next day, we ended the trip with a visit to Chihuly Glass and Garden, as b requested. And of course, we couldn’t leave without indulging in oysters!

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10 years ago, Seattle was just this mysterious place that was known to be rainy and depressing and the only significance it had was that he lived there. Seattle now has my heart for completely different reasons than it initially did, and I have all the wonderful memories from my numerous visits in the past 10 years to thank. From living in a treehouse to kayaking Lake Union to taking in the beauty of Mt. Rainier as I hit mile 10 of my first marathon, Seattle will always have a special place in my heart.

Home Is Hope. Home Is Here.

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It’s been 6 months since I got the keys to my place. I’m not entirely finished with decorating and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will be, but I think I’ve added enough personal touches to make it feel like home.

My favorite part of the house is the corner of my bedroom where my dresser sits. Atop my dresser are prints that mean so much to me. The Los Angeles print is self explanatory. The print of birds is a little less so. At my parent’s house, wild parrots squawk on telephone lines early in the morning before heading north and then return in the evening. These parrots were allegedly freed when a local pet store caught fire. In high school, the pre dual pane window days, I would curse at them for waking me up at such an ungodly hour on the weekends. But now I actually look forward to hearing those damn parrots whenever I stay at my parent’s. Isn’t it funny how sometimes the things you hate the most become the things you miss the most when they’re no longer around?

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe

I love Chrissy Teigen. So when her cookbook, Cravings, came out, I immediately got myself a copyLemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe was the first recipe I tried because, pasta. And cheese. It truly is SO simple, yet SO delushious, as Chrissy would say. The acidity of the lemon juice and bitterness of the arugula help cut the richness of the dish. It isn’t diet friendly (don’t expect her cookbook to be), but I honestly did not feel bad eating it!

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We Are All Kings

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Game 5 was a freaking roller coaster. One of the worst 1st periods I’ve ever seen the Kings play. Then a major comeback in the 2nd. Only to be crushed in the 3rd. My poor heart.

The last time I witnessed the handshake line, the Kings swept the Blues. We were on the losing end this time around, but it is still the best damn tradition in professional sports.

‘Till next season, boys 🙋

Go Kings Go!

My First Place

I’ve officially joined the homeowners club!

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Two months of searching (yes, I’m lucky) culminated into a 3037 day close. Being that this was my first experience, I freaked out at every step of the way…from getting a pre-approval letter to the final walkthrough.

Did I offer too much? Is this agent on my side? Do I have to read this whole contract? What’s a contingency? The seller wants what?! Wait.. How much are closing costs??!?! Can I back out? Am I going to regret this?

Now that I have my keys, I can honestly say, no, I don’t regret my decision at all. I love my place and I can’t wait to decorate it! Timing couldn’t have been better with Black Friday coming up. But first things first, this place needs a new paint job!

We Run SF, We Eat SF

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Ready, Set, Go!

I’ve wanted to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF for a few years now. The first year, I seriously considered it. Like, seriously. The second year, I actually signed up for random draw, but was rejected! The third year… well, I guess it’s true, 3rd time’s the charm! I had 14 weeks to prepare for my goal of sub-2, but unfortunately, life got in the way as it always does. Given that I only trained for about 3 weeks, my time of 2:14 isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s actually a PR! The view was not as beautiful as RnR Seattle’s marathon, but overall, I still liked the course.

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That last hill though…

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All for this blue box!

My preparation in the days leading up to the race involved a lot of eating. I shamelessly took full advantage of the necessary carbo-loading by stretching it over a couple of days. All for the race, guys. All for the race.

First stop off the plane was Limon Rotisserie for some Peruvian food.

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Ceviche Mixto… SO GOOD! One of the best ceviches I’ve ever had

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The infamous Pollo a la Brasa (half)
This dish comes with 2 sides… if you’re planning on ordering the Lomito Saltado, I would suggest not picking Papas Fritas and Vegetales Salteados for your sides like we did

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Lomito Saltado

Even though we were already stuffed from ordering too much food, we had to have dessert. Next stop: Bi-Rite Creamery.

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The usual… salted caramel and some kind of coffee, this time being Blue Bottle

For early dinner, we headed to Fort Mason Center for Off The Grid, a gathering of local, mobile vendors.

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From top left:
(1) Lobsta Roll from Lobsta Truck
(2) Tender Pork Belly Bao from The Chairman
(3) Lemongrass Chicken w/ Garlic Noodles combo from An The Go
(4) Boom Plate w/ Shrimp from Hula Truck
(5) Vanilla Creme Bizmark from Johnny Doughnuts
(6) Golden Ticket from The Creme Brulee Cart
Everything was really good except the Boom Plate. I found it unappetizing. Sorry, not sorry. What a waste of $9!

The following day we met up friends in San Mateo and had some bomb bruschetta at B Street and Vine.

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From left:
(1) Fresh mozzarella with tomato and basil
(2) Salami with feta and pesto
(3) Prosciutto with figs and mascarpone
(4) Hummus, tomato & avocado

And for my official carbo-load dinner, we had roasted garlic crab and garlic grab noodles at PPQ Dungeness Island. I know, I know… this isn’t your traditional carbo-load dinner but whatever, I do what I want. The crab was delicious, but I preferred the garlic noodles from An The Go.

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Best meal of the trip!

When I ran the marathon in Seattle, Atlas Genius’ When It Was Now carried me through the last few excruciating miles. This time, it was Chvrches’ new album Every Open Eye and the lady at mile 11.5 with the “bRUNch” sign. Not gonna lie, all I could think about was what I was going to eat afterwards…

First stop post race was Mr. Holmes Bakehouse for some pastries followed by Hong Kong Lounge for dim sum.

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Mr. Holmes Bakehouse was already sold out of the their infamous cruffins by the time we got there. Lame! Of the six pastries we ended up choosing, my fave was the ham and cheese danish

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The XLBs were so plump and juicy!!!

Stuffing my face with dim sum sent me into a food induced nap and when I woke up, it was time for my celebratory dinner at State Bird Provisions.

Getting a reservation at this place was almost as difficult as getting one at French Laundry, Alinea, etc. Seriously, WHY?! I went on Open Table, 60 days in advance, at 12:00AM ON THE DOT and I almost wasn’t able to secure a rez.

2015-10-23_09-48-28I’ve actually been enjoying dark beer. Stouts are delicious!

State Bird Provisions has a standard menu consisting of small bites (Toasts & Pancakes), main dishes (Commandables), and dessert. The provisions come on trays/carts and you select whatever you want and they mark it down at the bottom on your menu based on price, dim sum style. I remember the prices ranging from $3 to $15.

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From top left:
(1) Kung pao beef tongue and sweetbreads (Commandable)
(2) Rabbit meatball (Provision)
(3) Pork belly pluot salad (P)
(4) Hog island oyster (P)
(5) CA state bird with provisions, half (C)
(6) Miso glazed cod collar (P)
(7) Guinea hen dumpling (P)
(8) Duck liver mousse with almond biscuit (P)
(9) Charred octopus (P)

Overall, I enjoyed the meal but left underwhelmed. My favorite was the kung pao beef tongue and sweetbreads – the beef tongue was so tender and I’m just a sucker for sweetbreads! Besides this, nothing really stood out. The state bird, although flavorful, had too much breading. Perhaps I expected too much based on the 4.5 star rating on Yelp.

We ended the night with ice cream at Swensen’s and a night time view of Coit Tower.

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‘Till next time, SF ♥

On Relationship Advice

An excerpt from The #1 Question To Ask Before Getting Married

What to look for in a partner: I once interviewed a psychologist for a column, and I asked him readers’ questions about what to look for in a mate. Without fail, his answer to almost every question was “choose someone kind, choose someone kind.” It was like a broken record, and I was annoyed. But you know what? Being with somebody who is fundamentally kind — to children and waiters and dogs — means that at the end of the day, they will be kind to you.

Knowing when to cut your losses:
Studies show that women who feel doubt before their weddings wind up significantly less happy. My plea to anyone feeling doubt would be to think about the future you want, not the past. Some people think, “I’ve invested so much already, how could I turn back?” But if you look at the future with this person and feel a significant kernel of doubt, you have to listen to that.

When reading this blog post, these two particular pieces of advice stuck out to me. “Choose someone kind, choose someone kind.” While this seems logical, is it really realistic? Am I cynical to think that someone who is kind to children, waiters, dogs, can absolutely not be kind to you? And regarding when to cut your losses… does it work the same way if you think, “I haven’t invested enough time, I should continue and see what happens”? When is enough, enough in this instance? How do you prevent crossing that thin line between I haven’t invested enough time and I’ve invested so much already?

On Moving Forward

“How were you able to tell me that you love me while you were seeing someone else?” I asked.

“I just pretended,” he replied, matter-of-factly.

At the time, that wasn’t enough for me. For someone who relies so heavily on logic and reason, someone who believes in the universal law of cause and effect, I needed a thorough explanation that connected all the dots and made sense. But what I eventually learned from this experience with H is that no one owes you an explanation, not even the person that you loved for the majority of a decade. You can bury yourself in the how’s and why’s or you can move on realizing that an explanation of any sort would just be a band aid, not a cure all for your pain.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that everything happens for a reason, but instead of letting that reason hold me back, I’m learning to let go and move forward.

Two

It was 1996.
Dolly the sheep was successfully cloned.
Mad Cow Disease hit Britain.
I started watching hockey.

I turned on the TV one day and hockey happened to be on. Normally I would have changed the channel, but for some reason I felt compelled to keep watching.

It was Kings vs. Avalanche. The game was fast-paced. The scoring went back and forth. The Kings won in OT! I was hooked!

And though the Kings didn’t make the playoffs that year, I became a fan. Two months later, I watched the Avs raise the Cup and wondered when I would see the Kings do so. Little did I know that it would take 16 years and a revolving door of goaltenders…

Hrudey
Dafoe
Storr
Fiset
Chabot
Legace
Potvin
Passmore
Huet
Cechmanek
Garon
Labarbera
Cloutier
Burke
Brust
Aubin
Ersberg

Quick

The highlight of those years, a memory that I often replayed in my head, was when Adam Deadmarsh eliminated the Red Wings in OT.

It was that memory that I recalled after Jarret Stoll scored the OT goal against the Canucks in 2012. Instead of losing Game 7 of the next round, the Kings went on to win the Stanley freakin’ Cup! In historic fashion no less!

Two seasons later, the Kings are champs again, making even more history this time around!

Two championships.
My team.
The Kings.

Is this real life?

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Yes. Yes it is.

Recover

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Blow by blow
Honest in every way I know
You appear
To face a decision I know you fear

And if I recover
Will you be my comfort?
Or it can be over
Or we can just leave it here
So pick any number
Choose any color
I’ve got the answer
Open the envelope

I’ll give you one more chance
To say we can change or part ways
And you take what you need
And you don’t need me

I’ll give you one more chance
To say we can change our old ways
And you take what you need
And you know you don’t need me

And you know you don’t need me

Bang Bang

So many firsts today!

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First time at a shooting range
First time shooting a rifle
First time using real bullets

I’ve shot a revolver before, but it was with wax bullets and we were doing trick shots. That was my first time ever shooting a gun and I had no idea what I was doing. It was purely beginners luck that I was able to hit any targets at all! Like a card thrown in the air…

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Actually aiming and hitting targets today was much more gratifying. The sound of the bullet hitting the metal target was like music to my ears!

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Initially, I was hesitant to shoot because I was afraid of the recoil, but it wasn’t bad at all. I had to sit down and shoot though because I just didn’t have the strength or steadiness to shoot standing up. I’m so weak!

Henry has been wanting to get a gun for quite some time and now I understand why. So much FUNSIES!

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I’m definitely looking forward to going back to shoot again. But geeez, such an expensive hobby…

On Changes

We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better. – C. JoyBell C.

The past year has been a time of change for me. Physically, mentally, emotionally.

I kicked off the year by continuing my pursuit of becoming fit and living a more healthy lifestyle. I achieved this through…

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endless tucking at Pure Barre

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my new-found obsession with inversions (and love for yoga)

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Getting back into shape wasn’t the biggest change of the year. It was moving down to San Diego for work.

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Despite the positives of living in San Diego, I’ve had a hard time adjusting. It’s been four months and I still don’t feel connected to my new home. Every chance I get, I go back to LA to see my family, friends and Henry. There is nothing that keeps me in SD. Nothing. It could have been an easier transition if I had a friend here who had an established social circle that he/she could introduce me to. Or maybe if I lived in the same area as most of my coworkers.

Before I made the move, I thought I would love living alone. I envisioned Bruce Willis screaming out “Freedom” in Braveheart. Um, negatory. Living alone SUCKS, especially after living with someone for the past 7 years. Living alone doesn’t lessen responsibilities, it increases them tenfold.

Who is going to move a 100 lb box of furniture into the living room and build it? Me.
Who is lugging 10 bags of groceries from the car to the 3rd floor? Me.
Who is lugging trash from the 3rd floor to the garage? Me.
Who is doing all the household chores? Me.

And while this whole experience has been mostly a pain, I owed it to myself to live alone at least once in my life. I needed to understand what it was like to not rely on anyone, to do things myself and for myself. Because only then would I be able to truly appreciate cohabitation with Henry. It’s kind of like how you need to learn to love yourself before loving others 🙂

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Whistler 12/26/2013

Speaking of Henry, we got past the “seven year itch”. Barely. We were broken up for a bit. Our relationship had been on cruise control for the past few years and as a result we got too comfortable. We mistook living with each other as spending quality time together. It’s not. We also mistook talking to each other because we lived together as communication. It’s not. So as painful as it was, having that short time apart was a good thing for us because we learned these important lessons.

As if making a big move, transitioning to a new job, and going through relationship issues weren’t enough to deal with, I had a health scare about a month ago. I found 3 enlarged nodes in my neck. After an ultrasound and 11 vials of blood (9 in one day!), my Dr. said that it’s likely not cancer or anything serious. I’ll continue to monitor the nodes and decide in a month or so whether I should go forward and get a biopsy… just in case.

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2013 has been rough, especially the last half of the year. So on this last day of 2013, I am happy to say, good riddance!

Hello, 2014!

Comfortable, adj.

After nearly half a year (if not more) of not picking up my Kindle except to recharge the battery (because you know, you always gotta be prepared), I decided to do some reading this weekend. I fully intended to finish Game of Thrones but The Lover’s Dictionary showed up first on my list having been the last ebook I purchased. What can I say? I’m fickle.

I started the book late Friday night and continued today after Pure Barre. As I finished the book, I could not help thinking about my own relationship.

The first word that comes to mind to describe my relationship?

Comfortable.

I recently had a conversation with another couple about a fight they had. He wanted to work out with her. She didn’t want to work out at all. His rationale was that if he went alone, it would mean more time away from her, more time that’s not spent together.

That’s interesting, I thought. Henry and I see each other in the morning and then not until about 11PM at night. I have work. He has school. We both work out at night. Henry also works during the day most weekends and our weekend nights are spent either grocery shopping or cooking. I never thought of this as a problem until somebody else pointed it out as a potential problem in their own relationship.

Is this a result of being together almost 7 years? Did I care before and not so much now?

Are we comfortable, or too comfortable?

First

This is officially my first real post of 2013. I’ve been trying to finish my Foodcation 2012 posts for like the last 3 months. FAIL.

Since my vacation in September, I’ve started a new workout schedule, come to the realization that I no longer want to live in NYC, gone to Mammoth twice and attended a funeral.

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Part of my workout schedule consists of Pure Barre classes Tue, Thur, Fri-Sun. I started Pure Barre classes when I saw a friend post on FB about how great of a workout it was. At that time, I hadn’t worked out consistently in a very, very long time. I would run on sporadic occasions, but was never able to maintain a schedule. This really all changed with Pure Barre. One class and I was hooked. I’m about to finish my 5th month and be part of 100 club (100 classes completed)! I’ve made it this far and plan to continue because I absolutely love the workout and the class schedule just fits perfectly with my work schedule. And though I’ve taken classes for a while now, the exercises are still challenging. They haven’t gotten any easier. TRUST. If you take a class and don’t feel the burn, you’re probably not doing it right or you’re not working hard enough!

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In addition to Pure Barre, I’ve been taking Turbo Kick classes on Mon and Wed at 24Hr Fitness. I used to take these classes like 3 years ago, but stopped because of my work schedule. Now, 3 years later, the class schedule has changed and I’m back! I loved it then and I still love it now. The best part is that Turbo Kick doesn’t feel like a workout, but I always leave the class DRENCHED in sweat!

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J, A and I visited V in NYC this past December. It was a great trip filled with delicious food and late night talks. It was also an eye opening experience for me. I was in love with the city after my first few visits. I was in tourist mode. Everything was new and exciting. I loved the fast paced nature of NYC. I wanted to move there! But my love has waned after subsequent visits. This last visit made me realize that at this point in my life, living in NYC is not for me. First, I don’t think I could afford to live comfortably AND enjoy the finer things in life. I don’t want to share an apartment with anyone and I don’t want to live in tiny studio apartment. I do want to go out and try all the fantastic restaurants and maybe catch a Broadway show, hockey game or the Opera sometime. Living in NYC and not being able to enjoy it is pointless. Second, I’ve always thought that NYC public transportation was really great. And to a certain extent, it is. But from my last visit, I realized that it’s not as fast as I previously thought. On my last day I went to Laduree in the UES and round trip from Stuyvesant Town with a stop at Halal Cart took over an hour and half. Third, Henry hates NYC. So yea, for now, I’m fine with just visiting NYC and delicious food like…

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Uni at Soto

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Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai

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SmokeShack and Frozen Custard at Shake Shack

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Miso Black Cod at Gotham Bar & Grill

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Halal Cart!! We had this twice during our trip and I even brought two orders home!

Right before my trip to NYC, Henry and I had our first Mammoth trip of the season. And seriously, what a difference a season makes…

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It was early December, but coverage was great since it dumped the weeks before. I’m happy I rekindled my love for Mammoth’s backside!

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Our 2nd trip to Mammoth was during MLK weekend.

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We were fortunate to stay with our new snowboarding pals, B and P. They’re great to ride with because they’re fast and they have endurance! And they have the cutest, most well-behaved dog ever!

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Henry doesn’t want any dog besides a Husky or Chow Chow so for now, I’ll just have to obsessively lurk on Instagram for Bulldog or Corgi pictures. 🙂

And onto the sad news. Last week, I attended Henry’s grandma’s funeral. She lived a full life, for sure, passing away at the age of 100. It’s really sad to think that she won’t be at our wedding, I mean, if we decide to have one that is. Henry’s cousin liked to joke that I was grandma’s favorite. And while that probably isn’t true, it was nice to feel the love from her when she would hold my hand while we watched TV. RIP ♥

The Cut

I finally cut my hair! FINALLY!!!

It’s been about a year and a half since I last got a hair cut. My hair grew to be so long, almost long enough for me to sit on! I promised B that I would get a hair cut before her wedding and I’m so so so glad I did. It feels damn liberating.

I didn’t go all long hair, don’t care for nothing. No, no. I donated about 10 inches of my hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths Program in honor of my aunt who passed away from stomach cancer earlier this year.

The last time I visited my aunt happened to be a few days before she passed away. She was basically skin and bones at that point, almost unrecognizable. I sat beside her, holding her tiny hands, trying desperately to be strong and hold it together. I don’t think I was doing a good job because she started consoling me, at which point I started bawling. All illnesses and diseases are horrible, but even more so when it is a loved one who is suffering.

LA Kings Women’s Workshop

So I’ve always wanted to learn to play hockey. It’s on THE list.

Having watched hockey since I was in junior high, I can say that I understand the game fairly well, but actually playing the game, as I’ve recently learned, is completely different. Let’s just say, from now on, I’ll think twice about yelling obscenities at the TV (or at Staples) when players turn the puck over, fall, fan on a shot or shoot the puck high and wide.

I was on FB this past Valentine’s Day and saw this flyer from the LA Kings:

And I thought to myself… even though I won’t know anyone there and I’ve only ice skated twice in my entire life, why the hell not?

When I met the other girls at the gear fitting, I was relieved to find out that 95% did not have any hockey experience. The fitting was enlightening because I had no idea how much shit ice hockey players had to put on. I also had no idea how anything was supposed to fit, but Hillary and Ashley from the LA Kings Org and the guys at Hockey Tron were very helpful. I left with a hockey bag stuffed with a full set of gear: caged helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, shin guards, hockey pants and socks, gloves, skates, jersey with my last name and random #, stick, green tape/green laces/green blade cover/jill strap (additional $).

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It wouldn’t be me without the green! 😀

Having only ice skated twice in my life, I’m actually not too bad at going forward. I can generate some speed and more importantly, not wobble or fall. My problem is stopping. I don’t have to crash into the boards or anything in order to stop, I just slow down and ease my way into stopping. I do think that this workshop has gotten me to a point where I can almost do a full hockey stop. Almost.

The first two sessions of the workshop were held at the LA Kings Valley Ice Center. We worked on skating and puck handling basics. My favorite drills were Superman/Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman with a twist. SO FUN! BTW, falling on the ice wasn’t so bad because of all the gear we had on.

“Oh, that’s not bad.” Yea, thanks, guys. 😛

Our third practice was at STAPLES CENTER. This experience alone was well worth the cost of the workshop.

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As expected, Staples Center ice > LA Kings Valley Ice Center ice

The final session was the official “Game Day”. Family and friends were invited to watch 😀

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People outside the hockey world who think couple minute shifts are easy just have no idea. I was seriously gassed after every shift. GASSED. Legs could not move anymore!

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Do you see the huge smile on my face in this blurry picture?

I am SO glad I took part in this workshop. It was such a blast and I learned a lot in a short matter of time! To continue my progression and also in preparation for the LA Kings Women’s Intermediate Workshop in the summer, I’m considering taking an adult learn to play hockey class at the Toyota Sports Center (I work 5 minutes away). SO. EXCITED.

Special thanks to Daryl Evans and Hillary Hodding!

Half

I ran my first half marathon!

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My goal was a 10 minute pace, which is not at all unreasonable. I’m comfortable running a 5K distance so two weeks before the half marathon, I increased my distance to 6 miles and then to 10 miles the week before. I had planned to run about 12 miles on Friday, rest and carb up on Saturday in preparation for the half marathon on Sunday. When I started my run on Friday, I noticed sharp pain and tightness in my right calf. I thought I could just run it off, but I wasn’t able to make it out of my driveway (I have a long driveway :P)! I spent the rest of Friday and the whole day Saturday drinking lots of water and stretching out my calf. By the time Sunday came around, I wasn’t 100%, but at least I was able to run. I tried to maintain my usual pace, but I had to slow down when I felt my calf tightening up.

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Henry can’t hang so I conned his brother into running with me 😀

Time: 2:16:03
Pace: 10:23

Considering I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run two days before the race, I’m satisfied with my time. There’s definitely room for improvement!

Surprise

I didn’t think he had it in him.

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I asked him to be more romantic. And he went above and beyond by surprising me with a home cooked meal.

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Butter Poached Lobster

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Pan Seared Rib-Eye with Sauteed Mushrooms and Asparagus

We finished our meal with red velvet cheesecake and coffee.

Perfect Valentine’s day. ♥

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Who remembers this Simpsons episode?? LOL

Smile

A rollerblading accident during the summer after 7th grade left me with two broken wrists, teeth knocked out of place and two permanent scars on my face (one below my nose and one on my chin). I spent that VERY HOT summer with a half cast on my left arm and a full cast on my right. 😥 Though my wrists eventually healed, I’ve had to deal with my snaggletooth and scars ever since. At first I was really self-conscious about my face and smile, but over time, I just got used to it.

I had the opportunity to get braces in high school, but I didn’t take it because I didn’t want to look like a dork. 🙄 Also, my parents would have had to pay for everything out of pocket since I didn’t have dental insurance. Increasing my parents’ financial burden was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t have insurance at the time of my accident so the bills for the ambulance, hospital room, x rays, out-patient follow ups added up to more than $6,000.

In college, getting braces was out of the question. Hello?! So not cute!

It wasn’t until I graduated and started working full time that I seriously considered getting braces. I had good insurance, had the financial means so … why not? I couldn’t come up with a good answer so in August of 2009, I made the jump.

Source: cartoonworks.com

Well folks, after 2.5 years, I’m finally braces free! I’ll have to wear retainers for the rest of my life and believe me, I will do so religiously – I’m not taking anything for granted.

Rush, Rush

Saturday = CRAZY.

I woke up at 7AM and rushed to Staples Center to run the 2012 LA Kings 5K. My one week of training prepared me enough to finish almost 2 minutes faster than last year’s time. I crossed the finish line in 26:34, which averages to an 8:34 pace. What my training did not prepare me for was having to run 3.1 miles IN THE RAIN. It wasn’t light sprinkles, IT WAS RAIN. Needless to say, I was soaked afterward.

There was no time to chill and hang out at the event because I had to take my last GMAT practice CAT and Henry had groomsman duties to attend to. I completed my test at 2PM, which left me with only half an hour to get ready for the wedding! I didn’t even have time to eat! 😦

Things finally settled down once I arrived at the wedding venue: Muckenthaler Mansion in Fullerton.

Congrats, Jen & Thai ♥

The ceremony went off without a hitch and the meatballs served during cocktail hour were DELISH! I was so hungry I ate 8 of them!!! 😀

Although I had fun celebrating with friends, weddings, in general, give me anxiety. Personally, I would rather skip the wedding and go straight to the honeymoon – I’m working on getting everybody else on board with that idea. So far, my mom, who’s opinion is obviously most important, said she’s fine with me not having a wedding. Hopefully she’s not lying to me…

Pictures And Words

My friends and I spent NYE stuffing ourselves full of red meat and shrimp (3 burner hot pot feast!), watching the Kings play one of their best games of season (4 goals? OH WHAT?!), and laughing our asses off playing telephone pictionary.

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Round 2: Movies

Somehow Predator became Pokemon.

Best. Game. Ever. amirite?

Working On My Fitness

I was tired of being a piece of lard, so I finally did something about it. After a year of failing to get back into an after work gym routine, I came to grips with reality: I’M TOO DAMN LAZY TO GO TO THE GYM AFTER WORK. 10+ hours of work makes me just want to chill out and do nothing afterwards… is that so wrong????? Anyway, if I really wanted to work out and get back into shape, mornings were my only option. Thanks to J, I signed up for 10 sessions of morning boot camp that meet 2x a week at 6AM!

6AM!!

Crazy right? On Mondays and Wednesdays, I get up at 4:30AM, eat a light breakfast and head out to Marina del Rey before 5. There are usually about 10 people and this class kicks all of our asses. TRUST.

Henry and I have also been trying to eat more healthy. This week we poached a big batch of chicken and split it into two recipes. We made pesto chicken sandwiches for lunch…


{via Cooking Light}

Note: I omitted lemon juice, walnuts and celery from the recipe. I used Classico Traditional Pesto Sauce, fat free mayo and regular wheat bread. SO DAMN GOOD.

… and chicken salad with cranberries for dinner.

{via Cooking Light}

Note: I omitted almonds and celery from the recipe and reduced the ground pepper (1/2 tsp is a bit much, I think). I used fat free mayo and plain fat free yogurt.

Notice a theme? I HATE CELERY.

Bridesmaids

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I had the opportunity to attend a screening for Bridesmaids last weekend with a couple of friends. And we did not go as just regular people. No, no. We were VIP! 😀 Being VIP meant that we didn’t have to wait in line and were treated with cupcakes, champagne and water. La dolce vita!

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As for the movie… IT WAS HILARIOUS!!! OMG, I haven’t laughed that much during a movie in a long, long time. At one point, I felt a little embarrassed. Why? Well, I have a boisterous laugh and a loud clap to go with it. Yup. I mentioned that my nickname in sorority was husky giggler, right? 😛

Duh. Winning.

No, not really.

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I didn’t train at all for the LA Kings 5K, which is exactly why I am hurting all over right now. Most of you are smart enough not to follow my example, but just to be clear… I WAS STUPID. I SHOULD HAVE TRAINED.

Anyway, for not being prepared and for this being my first 5k, I think I did OK. I finished in about 28 minutes, which averages to 9 min pace. Obviously, I wasn’t even close to winning the race, but I know that with the right training, I can definitely improve my time for my next 5k.

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That’s Henry crossing the finish line. He really didn’t want to run, but I made him 🙂

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Why hello, Luongo. So nice of you to show up at an LA Kings event.

This little kid was just a taste of what I would see later that afternoon at the Kings vs Canucks game: A sea of fucking blue jerseys. Where the hell did all these Canucks fans come from???? I’d say that Staples was filled with 70/30 Canucks! Bullshit.

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View from 209, 7, 7-8

You know what else was bullshit? The officiating. Bad calls on both sides. But the non-call that led to D. Sedin goal pissed me off the most, obviously, since it was the game winning goal. The Kings really couldn’t recover from that, especially Doughty, who just completely went bat shit crazy and got a stupid diving penalty. Good thing the Canucks PP was just as horrible as the Kings PP or else the final score would have been a lot different.

It was a physical game right from the start. Both teams were playing like they had tiger blood and Adonis DNA. Well… except for H. Sedin, who pouted like a little baby after a high stick from Doughty. Look Henrik, suck it up until you’ve had a few pucks to the face like your brother and your old friend Willie Mitchell. They kept replaying this bit on the jumbotron, in slow motion! I totally wish I took a picture. Damnit.

Running Around

Henry and I registered for LA Kings 5K on March 5th. With registration, you receive a t-shirt and tickets to a game of your choice (Vancouver, Dallas or St. Louis). Of course, I chose the Canucks game!

So… I guess I have to start running again, huh? Perhaps buying new running shoes will give me some motivation. The ones I have right now are about 4 years old. Yea, it’s due time. I’m thinking about these:

ASICS Women’s GT 2150 available at Amazon.com for $71.33 (size 6)!

Beauty and the Beast

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2008 – Phantom of the Opera
2009 – Rent
2010 – Beauty and the Beast

I’ve now watched three shows at Segerstrom Hall in the Orange County Performing Arts Center (OCPAC) and I have yet to be disappointed with my seats or the production. I’ve usually sat in the center between rows L-O; the view is great.

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This past weekend, I watched Beauty and the Beast and WOW, what a great show! Even HENRY thought it was entertaining 😀 Just like the movie, my favorite characters of the musical were Lumiere, Cogsworth and CHIP (he was SO DAMN CUTE!). Most of the special effects were fantastic; I only found the “wolves” to be really cheesy.

The next show I’m looking forward to watching is Wicked (March 2011). Yes, I’m lame…I’ve never seen Wicked 😦

Women Run The World, Obviously

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Waking up extra early, sitting in traffic, fighting for parking, waiting in line for half an hour, standing for the whole duration of the opening session. All this for the Women’s Conference. And I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to experience this convergence of amazing, well-spoken, dynamic women. I cried. I laughed. I listened. I learned. I came away inspired.

Here is a recap in pictures:

imageBeing the First Lady of California, Maria Shriver has been responsible for putting together this annual Women’s Conference. I attended a few years back and I have to say, my experience this year far surpassed the previous. Perhaps Maria wanted to go out with a bang? Whatever the case, she did a fantastic job.

imageMichelle Obama closed out the opening session by addressing her cause: military families.

imageAfter the opening session, we broke out into our morning conversation topics. I attended “It’s Time To Talk About Your Happiness” (with Deepak Chopra and Goldie Hawn)

imageLunch Session: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Both women shared their trials and tribulations of being a woman during a time when it was truly a man’s world and Sandra expressed what it was like to finally break the glass ceiling of the highest court in the US. To me, these two embody the word empowerment.

imageThe Village! Free goodies and samples! ♥ ♥

imageGrand Finale. Oprah was presented with a Minerva award along with four other amazing women.

imageSarah McLachlan performed during the Grand Finale. I’ve always loved her music and I was already in awe when I saw her on TV during the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Games, but seeing her LIVE? Chills down my spine.

imageThe loot I came away with = 3 bags full. My shoulder hurt like hell throughout the day, but seriously, how can you say no to free stuff?

I’m not sure if I’ll get the opportunity to attend next year, but I wonder what it will be like without Maria at the helm…

Apparently I’m Delicious

My 2nd attempt to hike the Mt. Wilson trail was pretty much a FAIL. I only made it to the second stop: Orchard Camp. Along the way, I seriously wanted to just keel over and die. This trail is no joke, especially in 80 degree heat.

I’d like to blame my physical weakness on the fact that I didn’t eat much for breakfast – just a few pieces of fruit. But it was most likely because I haven’t exercised regularly in months! Yup, that’s how I do it. No exercise for a month and then BAM, 30 mile bike ride or 8 mile hike. My body loves me.

A few days later, I started to itch at work. A few hours later, I counted 18 bumps all over my body; Two more bites developed over the next couple of days. At first, some of my coworkers thought it was fleas, but the bites really didn’t resemble flea bites (I googled :)). The big welts seemed more like spider or mosquito bites. Regardless, whatever bug(s) bit me had a good freakin’ meal. You’re welcome.