Mother’s Day 2017

Belated happy Mother’s Day! I am thankful for my mom and another opportunity to show my appreciation for her display of God’s love, selflessness, generosity, humility, and care towards me!

I had plans on Saturday to take my mom on a day trip to go hiking and explore and eat in SF, but it didn’t work out because my mom had some business to take care of. Instead, I stopped by the Sunnyvale Farmers Market after my doctor’s appointment and picked up some groceries, a bouquet of snapdragons and mums that I paired together, and Philz coffee to surprise my mom!

After running 5 miles on Sunday morning to finish week 1 of my 10 week training for my half marathon, I made breakfast with what we had at home – avocado egg toast and coffee!

About a month and a half ago, I made a dinner reservation for two at 6:00 PM at Black Sheep Brasserie in Downtown Willow Glen. When I bookmarked this place on Yelp a long time ago and even when I made the reservation, it was rated 4 stars, but recently dropped to 3.5 stars.

Decor and Ambience: A modern restaurant with light bulbs from the ceiling, succulents, a nice bar, and spacious seating indoor and outdoor. For Mother’s Day, the restaurant had a few tables occupied with early reservations, but some that weren’t filled until later reservations. The noise level was reasonable and ambience was casual. I liked the decor and ambience!

Service: Our server was so good! She was very nice, well-mannered, and gentle. She served our table, but had many other tables to serve and still did her job with calmness and politeness. The busboys were also attentive to our tables and cleared dishes off the table right away.

Food: While ambience and service was great, this meal was pretty good but the food was not good enough to want to come back. I would only order the mussels and fries again.

“Burnt” french onion soup with rich beef broth, gruyere crouton ($9) — I love cheese but this was too cheesy that it got really tiring to chew the gruyere so I didn’t eat all of the cheese in it

Mussels in saffron cream, pommes frites, aioli ($16) — best dish, mussels were big, generous amount of about 15 mussels, fries with aioli were so delicious

Pan roasted duck breast with peas and carrots, pearl onions, marcona almonds and mint ($29) – duck was good but a little fatty, we didn’t like the pairing with peas and carrots that weren’t cooked thoroughly. I mean who especially likes peas to have that be the side in an entree…

Despite what we thought about the food, Mom and I enjoyed our dinner! We checked off trying another restaurant in the South Bay, even though Nick’s Next Door will remain our favorite!

Black Sheep Brasserie: 1202 Lincoln Ave, Ste 30, San Jose, CA 95125
www.yelp.com/biz/black-sheep-brasserie-san-jose

Day Trip to the City with My Bestie

On Saturday, I took a day trip to the city with my bestie! It was a FULL fun day, we were out from 9am-12am! We used to go up to SF more often a few years ago with our mommas and families. Our busy schedules with work, travels, church, and other friends are different from each other, so lately we have made it a point to schedule our next hangout a little farther in advance. This way we are purposeful about making sure we spend time together even when our lives are busy! We both just came home from traveling and having really good eats so even though we were in SF surrounded by what we thought would be good eats everywhere, we were indecisive and picky about what we wanted to eat, plus our day wasn’t really planned out so we ate at odd hours. Also, I took my DSLR with me, but the tungsten light was turned on by accident, which made all my photos have a weird blue filter on it, so these photos from my phone will have to do!

10:00 AM // Hike at Mori Point: Mori Point Rd, Pacifica, CA 94044

I couldn’t find a hike in SF that was longer than one mile or one hour, so I started looking a little south of the city. I found Mori Point on bahiker, and it was going to be a 2-hour hike with 4 miles of ocean view and wild flowers. We didn’t realize it was Earth Day, which made it a perfect day to opt outside and enjoy God’s creation! This place felt like a piece of Ireland or Lord of the Rings with all of the green fields and valleys. I’d come back to see other flowers in bloom!IMG_7530.jpgIMG_7546.jpgIMG_7547.jpg

2:30 PM // Lunch at Marufuku Ramen: 1581 Webster St #235, San Francisco, CA 94115

We were so hungry that I didn’t look around for free parking when we got to Japantown. We paid for street parking at $5.25/hour and wasted the first hour waiting in line at Marufuku Ramen, but I also checked out some shops in the Kinokuniyo Building. We were on both waiting lists for Marufuku Ramen and Udon Mugizo, but decided to go with Marufuku because it had 4-star reviews and it was “Hot and New” on Yelp. We ordered the Hakata Tonkotsu and Hakata DX and shared the corn in the Hakata DX and tried the simmered pork belly in the Hakata Tonkotsu versus braised pork belly in the Hakata DX. The ramen tasted like Shin Sen Gumi, and the broth was tasty, not too salty or oily like some other places. The egg was cooked just right.

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4:00 PM // Boba Guys Fillmore: 1522 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

I hear mixed reviews about their milk tea, so we went with the Strawberry Matcha Latte, and it lived up to the hype. It cost $5 for 16 oz and $6 for 24 oz, which is more expensive but they use quality ingredients like Straus organic milk. We got the 16 oz to save room for whatever we were going to eat later. Next time I’d go back for the 24 oz to have more of that delicious strawberry puree with matcha! They also have some nice furniture, so we lounged on the sofa chairs and took turns asking and answering TableTopics questions. This turned out to be a fun “game”, getting to know my bestie of 27 years even better with random questions like what you would look for in a yard sale, what historical sporting event you would most like to go to, what concert you would like to watch, and 3 adjectives your family would use to describe you.

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6:00 PM // Shopping at Union Square: 865 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

We found an amazing free parking spot right down the street from Union Square Macy’s and walked into some shops along our way to Westfield SF Centre. I bought an eyelet skirt from Madewell and knee-high boots from Francesca’s on sale!

10:00 PM // Dinner at El Farolito: 2779 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

By the time we were done shopping at about 9:30, every possible place we wanted to eat at from San Tung to La Taqueria to Hong Kong cafes in Chinatown were closing at 10 and we wouldn’t have made it in time. We were surprised to find places in SF close so early!! El Farolito was like our only option at this hour because it thankfully closes at 3:30 AM. We shared the highly reviewed carne asade super suiza burrito, but for being so hungry which makes all things taste better, it wasn’t anything special. I want to try La Taqueria just down the street next time!

10:45 PM // Ice Cream at Humphry Slocombe: 2790 Harrison St A, San Francisco, CA 94110

Lots of ice cream shops also close at 10, so I wonder where people in SF go for their late night dessert runs. I understand that places like Bi-Rite make so much business that they don’t need to have their workers work so late in order to make ice cream available past 10. Even though I have been to Humphry Slocombe before and didn’t think too much of it, I came back because it was open until 11. I also wanted to satisfy my ice cream craving after something spicy in my burrito. Some of their flavors were not to my liking when I taste tested them, but I went with the Matcha Doodle (Snickerdoodle overpowers matcha) and flavorful Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee.

Until the next adventure…

Gospel Opportunity with a Stranger

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The highlight of this photo is not the delicious breakfast burrito in front of me but Deb’s Bible opened up in front of her. Thank God for discipleship with Deb, which started this year and lead to a Gospel opportunity with a stranger at the coffee shop where Deb and I met up on Saturday! Just before I arrived, a 50 year old man at the next table saw Deb reading her Bible and struck up a conversation with us about faith for about 45 minutes. Deb and I were blessed with a unique opportunity to share the Gospel and be challenged to defend the faith with a stranger who was raised Catholic and curious about Christianity. Much of what we shared was not new to the man who grew up attending mass and Catholic school, knew the stories of God’s creation and Jesus’s life, visited a Christian church once, and has explored other religions, philosophies, and ideas, including Buddhism and science. We got to share the simple message of the Gospel, God’s mercy and grace in sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross that no god of any other religion has done to bring salvation to man, and the freedom and hope that we have in our personal relationship with God. We answered some of his questions and realized our own lack of knowledge about other major religions and science. It convicted us to memorize Scripture so that we can use the Bible to defend the faith. After the man left the coffee shop, we prayed that God would grow the seed planted in his heart. I found it soul-satisfying to preach the Gospel not only to the stranger but also to myself. Praise God that we are not saved by our own understanding of an incomprehensible God but by God’s grace in opening our eyes to know and trust in Him!

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. –John 14:6

Coffee and More: 100 S Murphy Ave #1, Sunnyvale, CA 94086
www.yelp.com/biz/coffee-and-more-sunnyvale-5
ordered – breakfast burrito ($6.95) and medium roast Brazil fresh brewed coffee ($2.00)

Mission District and Lands End in SF

My full day out cruising down Highway 1 to Big Sur on Tuesday left me exhausted and really lazy at home on Wednesday, but then yesterday was another full day out – this time to San Francisco! Again, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. I was just talking with friends last weekend about how I have never ridden on the BART for having been born and raised in the Bay Area, but I rather drive because so far at least, I have always found perfect parking, perfect weather, and perfect timing. Thank God! So with the Mission District and Lands End on my mind, my mom and I enjoyed another day out exploring SF. The weather was clear skies, no clouds, no fog, no wind. It was a beautiful day in the city! I took another attempt with my Canon Rebel T2i and this time the Canon Lens 18-55mm that came with the camera so I could capture wide angle views. These are unedited photos so I need to practice manually adjusting the lighting and focus. Some photos are taken with my Nexus 5x too, see if you can tell the difference. Enjoy these shots!

Arizmendi Bakery1268 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
https://www.yelp.com/biz/arizmendi-bakery-san-francisco-2

I was supposed to try this pizza on Labor Day, but unfortunately it was closed, so I came back to try it this time. I should have yelped it beforehand to know that it only makes one Pizza of the Day like Cheeseboard in Berkeley with no pizzas made-to-order. My mom can’t take certain cheeses like feta, so it was sad for her. She had to scrape off all the toppings except for the crust even though I offered to take her somewhere else after I was done with my pizza. Oops, I wish I had known. I also wish I had not asked for my pizza to go. The bottom slice got soggy because they stacked two slices on top of each other and wrapped them in foil instead of give me a box. The crust of the top piece was crispy, the cilantro on the pizza was tasty, but the pizza was super oily!

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Shopping on Valencia Street

My friend Kerri took me down Valencia Street before, so I wanted to return and take my mom shopping at these boutiques even though there’s not much for us to buy, only look. This street is home to Dandelion Chocolate, Four Barrel Coffee, local boutiques, and graffiti art.

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Four Barrel Coffee: 375 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103
https://www.yelp.com/biz/four-barrel-coffee-san-francisco

I tried the single pour over bar with five coffees and one espresso to choose from. I chose Golji from Ethiopia which was a light tea-like coffee, and my mom chose Gura Peaberry from Kenya. Both cups were $4.00, only 75 cents more for a barista to explain the pour over process and coffee beans while making one cup at a time. The experience felt a lot like Ballard Coffee Works in Seattle where I tried the same coffee bean brewed with different methods at their brew bar.

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Lands End Trail to Mile Rock Beach and Lands End Labyrinth

More than a year ago, I visited Sutro Baths with two friends, but neither my mom nor I recall the trail to Lands End Labyrinth. Thankfully we both brought a pair of sneakers, which was necessary for this dusty and sandy trail. It was good exercise and well worth our time, but I’m not sure visiting friends and relatives would have the time to make the trek on Lands End Trail when they want to see all the rest of SF on a one day trip. Also, Blue Angels was practicing over SF for Fleet Week this coming weekend, so we got to see the awesome view and air show!

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Dinner at Pacific Cafe: 7000 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121
https://www.yelp.com/biz/pacific-cafe-san-francisco

Leaving Lands End with shopping at Stanford on our minds, we decided to grab dinner in SF to avoid the rush hour traffic on the way back down to Palo Alto. I yelped this 4-star restaurant with 600+ reviews close to Lands End. By the time we drove over, it was 5:00 PM when the restaurant just opened, which was perfect since the restaurant doesn’t take reservations. Upon arrival, the hostess asked if I would like a complimentary glass of red/white wine, which was so generous! I think I’m allergic, but I tried a glass of the white wine to go with my seafood dinner. My mom ordered the combo of salmon and baked prawns, which she paired with clam chowder and rice pilaf as a side ($28). I had read on yelp that this place had the best crab cakes, so I ordered the sauté crab cake entree, which came with two crab cakes and I chose salmon bisque and roasted potatoes as a side ($30). We enjoyed our soups, both had real chunks of clams and salmon. I agreed that these were the best crab cakes I have had with a generous amount of crab. My mom liked her salmon a lot, we both liked her prawns which were baked with lots of garlic and came with 5 shrimps, and she liked her rice pilaf too. The meal was really good, service was great, and the restaurant had a nice cozy hospitable feel, such a nice find on yelp!

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Sunset at Sutro Baths

When we left dinner in SF and was about to head down to Palo Alto on the Great Highway along the Pacific coast, it was 6:40 PM – 5 minutes before sunset. Again, how PERFECT! Had we left the restaurant a few minutes later, we would have missed it. We parked at Sutro Baths, and I was able to take some shots of the sunset from Lands End Lookout.

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We finished the already tiring day with some quick shopping at Stanford before stores closed at 9:00 PM. At the moment while drafting this post, I have a pounding headache and dead sore legs. I just googled “hangover” and realized I have experienced all of these symptoms (fatigue, thirst, headache, nausea, and light sensitivity). Sad to say but for my best, I am super lightweight with alcohol and I think I have a hangover from drinking less than a glass of wine. At least this time I haven’t thrown up yet. Anyway, this is a weird note to end on, but I figured writing this down will dissuade me from taking advantage of free alcohol and feeling this again. It’s time to hit the sack and hope this pounding headache will be gone tomorrow so I can finish this post. Good night! Edit: Yay, my headache is gone! I had to wake up around 3am last night to pee from all the water I had after the wine. I think I’m done with wine… for a good while.

Heading back to the Mission District tonight for friends’ birthday celebration!

Cruising Down Highway 1 to Big Sur

Hello Fall Break! The first 6.5 weeks of this new school year felt as busy as my first year with working around the clock, so I didn’t have time to think ahead and make plans to travel anywhere. I visited Portland last year at this time and Chicago and Milwaukee for two years in a row before that. Without flights/hotel booked, I wanted to take a small road trip to see some beach/coastal views. Yesterday turned out to be one of those days that couldn’t have rolled out more perfectly than planned. With Santa Cruz and Big Sur on my mind, I drove down Highway 17 and Highway 1 and let spontaneity and adventure take over… with the help of Google Maps.

About 240 miles of driving in one day, which was more than one way to Mendocino where my mom had wanted to visit, but we got to explore some coastal cities with pretty views and delicious eats along Highway 1, and it was a fun mom and me day out! Adventure is out there!

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I took out my Canon Rebel T2i camera from my brother which I haven’t used in over a year and vintage Nikon Lens Series E 50mm from my parents’ wedding to manually take photos. It was a fun, challenging experiment because this lens has no zoom so I couldn’t capture a wide view and I need to practice adjusting the functions manually to take clearer photos. Enjoy some captures!

Santa Cruz / Soquel

Verve Coffee Roasters: 1540 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

https://www.yelp.com/biz/verve-coffee-roasters-santa-cruz-3

My friend Anita carries around a Verve canteen and I realized it’s a local coffee shop in Santa Cruz so I decided to check it out. I tried a large coffee ($3.50) on the daily menu, which was La Fortuna from Honduras and described as cinnamon, apple juice, and elegant. It was really smooth but citris-y. My mom tried the large latte ($4.50) and thought it was smooth too, but she didn’t really enjoy hers… maybe it was too strong? Both cups were very generous in size.

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Shopping on Pacific Avenue

I am so happy to finally find a jacket that I have long been looking for at Heavenly Couture. There were lots of interesting boutiques and shops from clothes to shoes to kitchenware to books.

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Cafe Cruz: 2621 41st Ave, Soquel, CA 95073

https://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-cruz-rosticceria-and-bar-soquel

After a few attempts of considering restaurants that were too tourist-y near Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or didn’t have good reviews, I yelped this 4-star restaurant with 500+ reviews and found plenty of people eating here around 1:30 PM. We shared the Grilled Prawn Sandwich with fries ($14.00), which had quite a lot of prawns inside and a soft bread, and the Chop Salad with blackened chicken, watermelon, heirloom tomato, roasted white corn, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, creamy lemon basil vinaigrette, and Pt. Reyes blue cheese on the side ($16.50).

The Penny Ice Creamery: Multiple locations

Should have ordered only one item at lunch in order to fit ice cream from this local Santa Cruz ice cream shop that has Verve coffee flavor and torched marshmallow fluff. Next time!

Monterey / Pacific Grove

Shopping on Lighthouse Avenue

The street was quiet and too slow-paced for me with antique shops and few boutiques.

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Shopping on Ocean Avenue and Carmel Plaza

I saw the most Chinese tourists here and felt like I fit right in with my camera on me. This area had lots of retail shops like Coach, Kate Spade, Sur La Table, J.Crew, and Anthropologie.

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Big Sur

Rocky Creek Bridge

I mistakenly thought this was the bridge that friends have taken photos and sat on the edge.

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Bixby Bridge

But after I drove farther south, I realized this was the bridge where people sat on the edge and found that I couldn’t do it with my fear of heights. The coastal views were gorgeous.

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Somewhere along Highway 1 on the way to McWay Falls

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McWay Cove and McWay Falls

I have also seen this in friends’ photos, a pretty looking cove with a small waterfall that looks like someone’s peeing. It really doesn’t help to look at this when you have to pee. This was a long drive down Highway 1, especially with an Asian driver who didn’t know how to let other drivers pass him when there were 3 cars right behind him. It’s also super curvy along the cliffs. I was trying to make it here before sunset. I don’t think this was worth the drive out of the way since I wasn’t passing through on my way to SLO or somewhere farther south. We risked being low on gas and had to drive all the way back up the windy Highway 1 to Monterey in order to get home.

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Moss Landing

Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery: 7600 Sandholdt Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039

https://www.yelp.com/biz/phils-fish-market-and-eatery-moss-landing

While driving back home and it being 8:30 PM, I yelped this 4-star restaurant with 1,600+ reviews and knew it had to be good because it was a fish market by the coast. I laughed when I turned off the main road to a dark, sketchy street that seemed to be leading me to nowhere, but found a lot of people here even with only 30 minutes left before closing. We shared a medium/pint of New England Clam Chowder ($8.95), which was generous in size and ingredients like cabbage and not potatoes, and a half order/1 pound of green steamed mussels from New Zealand ($12.95), which was the plumpest mussels I have ever had, and they were still juicy and yummy.

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Until next time… either a trip to Half Moon Bay/SF/Sausalito, Oakland, Sacramento, or we’ll see!