The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

After Miami, Evey and I drove to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. It was a short 3 hour drive with many many tolls to pay. I think I’ve paid more tolls on this one trip than I have the entire year. I had to pay the toll twice just from our hotel to the airport.

We had decided to stay at the Hard Rock  Hotel, which was located inside Universal Studios. If you stay at one of the hotels within park, your room key will get you an express pass for some of the rides and also early entrance to the parks. FYI – The room was clean, beds were comfy, shower pressure was lacking, and the shampoo/conditioner smelled like grass. The hotel staff was excellent though. Everyone seemed happy and were really helpful.

The hotel had many guitars and stuff displayed all over the place. These belong to Elton John. I want the one on the bottom right.


Good job Universal. Good job!




Imagine yourself as that kid. How lucky would you feeling right now?


Butter beer? Yes please. I like mine frozen. Thank you much!


In case you were wondering, that’s butterscotch whipped cream on top.


You have to buy candy from Honeydukes.



Aside from Harry Potter land, we also stopped by Seuss Landing and…you know…played. Even adults need to have fun sometimes.


Oh look at all the bright colors! Which way???



Note to self: start planning 2014 Miami/Orlando trip now.

Miami 2013

Miami started out as a bust. Seriously. I took the red-eye flight from LA because I had fully expected to sleep on the plane. Why? Because I always sleep on the plane. Well…except this time. As if we (Kristen and I) weren’t tired enough, our room was not ready when we arrived at the hotel. Oh Shore Club, you really failed us on this one. Had one of your staff not informed us the day before that we would have no issues with an early check-in, we wouldn’t have been so upset that our room wasn’t available when we got there at the crack of dawn. What is even more irritating was that the front desk told us that the standard check-in time was 3pm. Guess what happened when we came back from lunch at 3:30 and tried to check in to our Oceanview room? We were told it wasn’t ready. It wasn’t ready until 5pm! *sigh* At least the room was clean and they provided their guests with Malin + Goetz products. I think I am going to stay at the SLS next time. Yes, I am quite high maintenance when it comes to hotels.

Our extremely clean room. Is the purple suppose to be art?


After napping for four hours in our temporary standard room, we ventured out to Cafe Charlotte for lunch. At least Yelp didn’t fail us, the food was great.

Our very first grilled beef empanda.


Entraña skirt steak. Not a fan of the yucca fries here though.


After lunch, we walked around a bit and found a cute tree to look at while we ate our coffee & straciatella gelato.

The cute tree.


After Evey and Joanne arrived, we dressed up a bit and went to dinner at Ola. The restaurant was on the pricier side, but the service, ambiance and food was well worth it. This may be a little silly, but I think one of my favorite dishes was their cheese bread. It was gluten-free too!

I think this was the mixto ceviche with squid ink. I could be wrong, I wasn’t really paying attention. There were way too many ceviche choices on the menu.


Mystery meatballs. I don’t really care what it was made of because it was delicious.


Raspado de pato. Duck breast served with crispy rice. I didn’t try the rice so I don’t know if it was really crispy or not. The duck was pretty amazing though.


Panela Salmon.


Puerco Asado. Braised pork.


The next day was my idea of a relaxing vacation. I spent the entire day out on the beach under a huge umbrella, listening to the sound of the ocean and reading on my Kindle. Surprisingly all the food and beverages served on the beach were also quite decent. Expensive, but decent. For dinner, we decided to have Cuban food at Puerto Sagua, which was recommended by practically everyone we talked to about Miami. After the first bite of my Ropa Vieja, I knew why this place was so popular. I think I could eat dinner here every night.

Huge potato balls. I prefer Porto’s.


Ropa Vieja. Cuban style shredded beef.


Chuletas De Cerdo Frita. Fried pork chops.


Friscase de Rabo. Oxtail stew.


Another spot that was highly recommended was Yardbird. All restaurants should do bacon the way Yardbird does bacon. Fun atmosphere, great service, and delicious food. This was probably the best brunch I had all year.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?


Also beautiful, no? The biscuits were delicious. Oh and look at the little jars with the butter and jam. So cute.


According to Evey, their Mint Julep was awesome. Note to self, ask for Blanton’s.


I ignored the special and asked for the BLT Benedict Cast Iron Casserole. Yep. I did. It had bacon!!!


Have you ever seen grits look this gorgeous? Too bad I don’t like grits.


Mama’s Chicken Biscuits.


Cox Farm Alabama Char-Grilled Hanger Steak. So good, Kristen was speechless.


Butter lettuce and grilled mango salad.


Great company, great beaches, delicious food. I had a blast in Miami. I really hope we can make this an annual trip.

A Weekend At La Chateau de Grace

I had a girls only retreat at La Chateau de Grace. I can’t seem to recall doing anything other than sleeping, playing mah jong and eating. Oh there was so much eating. And later there were dishes. Lots and lots of dishes to wash.



We don’t skimp on dinner either. Care for a grilled prawn?


Garden fresh tomatoes and burrata.



Oh yes. There was lobster.



Grilled to perfection with the essence of Dana (plus butter and cajun seasoning).




Homemade. It took a long time.


Pork buns??? Yes please.


I think I’m still full from this weekend.

The Bazaar

My only DineLA reservation this round was at The Bazaar. I’ve heard some interesting things about the food and I’m glad the DineLA menu wasn’t a disappointment, because sometimes it can be. Actually sometimes it can be a total fail.

Have you ever seen such a long list of water?


Philly Cheesesteak. Air bread topped with wagyu beef, and filled with cheddar. Time sensitive but totally delicious.


Dungeness Crab. Umm… perhaps a bit too salty?


Jicama Wrapped Guacamole. Tasted like jicama and guacamole. Looks cute though.


I’m not 100% sure that this was the wagyu beef chorizo thing that I ordered. Perhaps they messed up my order? I hope it really wasn’t sausage made of wagyu beef because that would’ve been a waste. This was just meh. The egg was perfect though.


Wild Mushroom Rice. Tasty but I think my friend Dana’s is better.


They did good with the scallops.


Can’t say that I’m a fan. Sorry.


Pon Con Chocolate. I’m not a fan of flan, but in my opinion, this was quite tasty. That’s probably because the flan wasn’t in typical flan form (you know that glob of yellow thing that reminds you of jello).


Suenos de Chocolate. Yep that’s a chocolate martini with toasted marshmallow on top. Amazing!


The Bazaar

At the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills 

465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Emily & Cliff’s Wedding

There are no words to describe how absolutely wonderful Emily and Cliff’s wedding was. They put so much thought and hard work into every detail, and the result was amazing (like romantic comedy, fancy wedding, kind of amazing). I’m so happy to have been a part of it. Woohoo! Congratulations Emily and Cliff!

Now for some pictures…

The wedding dress needed to get a bit of fresh air. Do you see that beautiful beach in the background? Yea. That’s what we were looking at while we got our hair and make-up done. Emily does know how to spoil her bridesmaids.

1. Wedding Dress

2. Getting Ready

Yes. I think I may just sit on some hay while I wait for the ceremony to start.

3. Yes I think I might take just take a seat

Can you spot the cream soda? I had the orange. What did you have?

4. Of course I want a soda.

I really should have drank more before my speech.

5. Bar Menu

Did you find your place card? Mine was already at the feasting table. Oh…hi Kyle!

7. Name Cards

In case you were wondering, Cliff build those walls. Hmm…I wonder what Mr. Fung is thinking.

6. Entrance

So what do bridesmaid do while they wait for the ceremony to start? Take pictures of their bouquet with their phones or take  pictures of their bouquet and their phones. We did anyways.

8. Flowers and Cell Phones

The beautiful bride. Was she nervous?

9. Is she nervous

Hailin is a pro!

12. He is a pro.

Why are we missing Janet and Jennifer?

10. Marie and Emily

11.Emily and Rennie

Hi Mimi!

18. Mimi and Rennie

You have to have an invitation to get into this fabulous wedding.

13.Invitation Only

What did your centerpiece look like?


The food was delicious. I was a fan of the fish.

15. Dinner

This should be Cliff’s new FB picture.

16. Cliff

Who is that photo bombing in the mirror?

17. RCE

New friends?

26. New Friends

Janet and Chase. Damn she has a good tan.

21. Janet and Chase

Mimi and Emily

22. Mimi and Emily

Aww… cute.

24. Daning

Their bromance was also very cute.

20. AJ Cliff

Yep. There were like six cakes, cookies, s’mores and an ice cream cart. We were all loaded on sugar.

19. Cake


There were carnival games for the kids. Emily and Cliff thought of everything.

25. Games

Schurr High School Class of 2000 + one from 2001 (me).

28 SHS

Dos Pueblos Ranch

220 La Casa Grande Circle

Goleta, CA 93117

My First Trip to Seattle

A few weekends ago I visited Seattle for the first time. The weather was a little fickle, ranging from gray skies, light showers, heavy rain, hail and perfect sunshine. The sun poked its head out for a few hours during our walk through Kubota Garden in Rainier Beach and also on the day we were leaving. I think I saw a glimpse of it when we were trying to take pictures in front of Pike Place Market too.


We rented a condo in Belltown, which turned out to be within walking distance of every restaurant that we had planned on eating at. It was only about 5-6 blocks from Pike Place too. Some of my favorite dining spots were Bedlam Coffee, Local 360, Serious Pie, Tilikum Place Cafe and The Crumpet Shop.

I wish I could have a lavender mocha from Bedlam Coffee everyday.


 There was something about the fries at Local 360 that was extremely addictive.


The baked egg at Tilikum Cafe was delish.


I don’t often eat pizza, but I have to say the pizzas at Serious Pie were one of the better ones that I’ve had. Oh yea that’s an egg on top.



My first crumpet from The Crumpet Shop was amazing. Ricotta, honey and walnuts? An excellent combo. I am going to try to make this at home.


We also did some touristy things and two of my favorite were the Chihuly exhibit and the Underground Tour.



There may not have been any strip clubs or drunk bar hopping activities, but we still had a great time. For anyone who is planning on visiting Seattle, I highly recommend booking a condo with Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals. Our condo was pretty,clean, well stocked and included parking.

On Dublin Street

I’m not quite sure what prompted me to finally buy On Dublin Street by Samantha Young. I had read a few of her of other books such as the Warriors of Anhk and The Tale of Lunamorte series, and enjoyed both. On Dublin Street had been popping up on my recommended reading list on both Amazon and Goodreads, and I had ignored it for months. A few days ago while I was stocking up on cold remedies at Target, I came across the book and decided to read the synopsis in the back. I don’t remember being particularly interested in the synopsis but for god knows why, I decided to buy it on my Kindle when I got home. I think it was my subconscious’ attempt to avoid having to read the rest of Norwegian Wood. Because the previous works that I’ve read from Young was in the supernatural genre, I had expected the same from this book. Now anybody that read the synopsis on this book would probably be like…you must have been smoking something. In my defense, I was groggy from the DayQuil. I had expected the main characters to possess some type of supernatural abilities, but they only had money. It was a very contemporary romance set in a very contemporary Edinburgh. I was so sure Braden was going to be a werewolf or something, especially with his “caveman” attitude toward Joss and him being Scottish and all.  Although the fey were not present, and there were no shapeshifters in sight, I still thought the book was quite enjoyable. I would recommend it to my girlfriends.

On Dublin Street

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

After a failed attempt at baking a flourless Nutella cake, I decided to focus my mind on flour based goods instead. I was craving peanut butter and Nutella so I found a recipe online at Erica’s Sweet Tooth that utilized both ingredients. I didn’t have regular pb at home, so I used my fancy white chocolate pb instead. I think I could have used a little more Nutella, but the cookies turned out pretty good anyways.


Vanilla Condensed Milk Cake

Whenever I mention my love for condensed milk, more often than not, people around me gasp and look at me like I’m crazy. I don’t get it. The stuff is good. Have you ever dipped strawberries in condensed milk? Delicious. Have you ever spread condensed milk over toast? Heaven. Have you had dripped coffee with condensed milk? Caffeine boost and sugar rush. It’s amazing.

Someone, I don’t remember who, recently posted about condensed milk cake. I wanted some. So I searched the internet for a recipe and decided to use the one I found on pizzarossa.

I think I may have kept it in the oven a little too long, but aside from the thin layer on the outside of the cake being a little on the crispier side, it was still moist on the inside and surprisingly not too sweet. I’m tempted to add a little more condensed milk next time.