SD Eats: Alforon

Alforon: 5965 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115

https://m.yelp.com/biz/alforon-san-Diego

Chicken Tawook: marinated chicken, garlic paste, and pickles ($9.25) with cheese (+$1.25)

Alforon’s World Famous Falafels: 1/2 dozen served with Lebanese bread, tahini, and pickles ($7.95)

Ouzi Lamb: oven-baked leg of lamb de-boned and spread over ouzi rice cooked with meat then topped with roasted pine nuts and roasted almonds, served with its own broth / au jus and a side of house-made yogurt ($18.95)

Lahm Bajeen: fresh ground beef, fresh tomato, onion, spices on an extremely thin oven baked flat bread ($4.95) with cheese (+$1.25)

Authentic Lebanese/Mediterranean food that I haven’t had before! I didn’t know how to order, but thankfully my brother and sister-in-law have come here multiple times over the years and know the menu. We met the owner’s wife who gave us such a warm welcome when we arrived, during the meal, and before we left. I can see why people regularly come back with this service and delicious food. The flat breads were the best and one of the most popular items on the menu. Chicken Tawook was tasty since the chicken was surprisingly tender. Both Chicken Tawook and Lahm Bajeen were delicious with cheese. We asked what kind of cheese was so good and found out that it is a white Lebanese cheese called “akawi” which is similar to Mexican queso blanco. My brother says the falafels are the best he has ever had. The lamb was too lean, but the ouzi rice with pine nuts and broth poured on top was yummy. We saw other people order “kibbies” (one of the oldest and most traditional Lebanese dishes made with extremely lean beef, cracked wheat, special herbs and spices), which is something I can try next time. Alforon was a uniquely tasty experience!

Advertisements

Day Trip to Hike Pinnacles National Park

After weeks of feeling drained, physically and mentally exhausted to my limit from finishing parent-teacher conferences (with 26 students, that’s more than 13 hours of talking on top of teaching!) and being on the go with my busy life outside of work, yesterday was rejuvenating! Opting outside, being active, having fun and good conversations with some of my closest friends on a day trip to Pinnacles National Park! We were on perfect timing all day, and everything went according to plan. We made it back in time for me to make Women’s Group last night. As we closed the discussion on our book this year, my soul was encouraged and perspective was refocused. It was such a great, productive day off from work for Veteran’s Day! Praise God, and thanks to my friends for sticking with the original plan even though we almost canceled our hike. After we purchased the national park annual pass on our Utah and Arizona hiking trip over Fall Break, which was so worth $80, we are trying to hit up more national parks this year!

So about Pinnacles National Park! It’s the closest/most local national park to my house, 80 miles southeast of San Jose. It’s one of the newest national parks that Obama established in 2013. It’s known for the eroded leftovers of an extinct volcano as well as talus caves. Pinnacles has a bit of everything – cool rock formations, a serene reservoir, pretty green landscapes, awesome CAVES where flashlights are required to adventurously explore in the dark and see bat roosts… and the largest spiders/tarantulas I have ever seen in my life. Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, we hiked 9.5 miles round trip around the perimeter trails in a clockwise fashion starting and ending from Old Pinnacles Trailhead. We saw the whole park and both the lower Bear Gulch cave and Balconies cave that were open, and we didn’t have to go back on the same route at any point. I’d say Pinnacles National Park tops my list for most fun hike in California so far!

8:30 AM – Left my house for 1.5 hours drive from San Jose

10:00 AM – Arrived at the Visitor Center to get a bathroom break, pick up my souvenir postcard, and show my annual pass for a free parking permit

10:45 AM – Parked at Old Pinnacles Trailhead and started the hike

5 minutes into the hike, tarantula #1 (see the gum that was spit out when someone with real arachnophobia screamed HAHA for scale)IMG_2799.jpg

Bench TrailIMG_2803.jpg

Bear Gulch TrailIMG_2805.jpg

Moses Spring TrailIMG_2809.jpg

Bear Gulch Cave TrailIMG_2815.jpgIMG_2817.jpgIMG_2818.jpg

12:30 PM – Ate our pb&j sandwiches for lunch at Bear Gulch ReservoirIMG_2823.jpgIMG_2855.jpgIMG_2821.jpg

High Peaks Trail / Juniper Canyon TrailIMG_2829.jpgIMG_2833.jpg

Tarantula #2 (see shoes for scale)IMG_2836.jpg

Balconies TrailIMG_2840.jpg

Balconies Cave TrailIMG_2843.jpg

4:00 PM – Left the park sore and tired, but we survived 9.5 miles and it was so fun! IMG_2846.jpg

Up next, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon!?

Rooftop Party for My 28th Birthday

One month late to post photos from a rooftop party to celebrate my 28th birthday! 🔥

After traveling for 5 weeks to Hong Kong, Thailand, and Tokyo and then coming home with an unconfirmed stomach ulcer, my summer flew by and I didn’t get to hang out with friends much. With my birthday on a Sunday (and not on the first day of school) this year, I am so thankful to have had some of my closest friends (including Nadia & Joby home from Milwaukee!) join me for my last summer hurrah before school started. Thanks to Albee, we were able to reserve the awesome rooftop at his complex for a BBQ dinner and a chill hangout. We busted out gold and silver star balloons, enjoyed steak that Peter grilled and yummy food my mom prepared, ate around a large dining table like family, watched the sunset, lounged by the fire, ate cheesecake with macarons, had a cupcake tasting of SusieCakes from Anita & Scott, and soaked in a nice summer evening with each other’s company. It was just what I wanted for my birthday!

IMG_20170813_190051

IMG_20170813_200152IMG_20170813_201100

IMG_9939IMG_9945IMG_9946

10-Week Training for the SF Half Marathon

The SF Half Marathon is coming up on July 23, and it will be my FIRST half marathon, finally!! Finishing 13.1 miles will accomplish one of my 2017 New Year’s resolutions, and I can check it off my bucket list! I have a goal to beat 2 hours, which is about 9 minutes per mile. I started running once a week on Sunday morning with Anita or Joy. Then I found this 10-week training plan for a Sunday race on halfmarathons.net even though I had 11 weeks left until the race. I have been asked about my mileage and pace, so I’m blogging my training plan now that I have gotten into the habit of running 5 days a week and stayed on schedule to Week 4. See my Workout Log.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 6.24.35 PM.png

I am dreading that I will have to keep up my training in Hong Kong for 5 weeks this summer, my last month before the race. I will have to make it happen, whether paying for the gym or waking up in the wee hours to run outside before it gets uncomfortably humid. Also, I only have a week after returning from Hong Kong to adjust to the weather back home and recover from jetlag before the race. I realized it takes hard work and discipline to train for and run a half marathon, especially having to push past mental laziness after an exhausting day of teaching first graders. I have nooo interest in running a marathon and don’t know what people think about for such long runs. It hasn’t gotten any easier or any less painful to run after 3.5 weeks, but I am slowly chipping away at my pace, getting faster and stronger, and it will be worth it once I’m done. On another but related note, I just signed up for my second 10K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day!

Some random photos from my training over these months…

Colette’s Turning One

Wow I’ve been at Pillar long enough to watch Deb and Pastor Danny grow their family into four! Deb was my small group leader when I first came to Pillar, she initiated meeting up with me, and then she became pregnant with Cami. Then I became her small group leader a few years later and then she became pregnant with Coco. Pastor Danny has been with me in Women’s Group since the start and has supported and encouraged me a lot in this ministry over these 3 years. I’ve seen Cami born and turn one (see Camilla Turns One Today!) and Coco born and now turn one too, looking like mini Cami. So thankful for Deb and Pastor Danny, love your family!! Happy first birthday, Coco baby!!! You are so adorable, and Laurel eemo loves you! The team of ladies from Angela’s Twinkle Twinkle Baby Shower put on another fabulous party with an amazing canvas painting backdrop done by Sarah and Deb, gorgeous flowers by Jenn, and all the beautiful details by Deb! We had all-you-can-eat hot pot at Shabu House for my first time and cake from Susiecakes, and it was all delicious. Colette’s first birthday party was a fun celebration!