Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thankful Thirty

With November typically being a month in which people reflect on things they're thankful for I figured there was no better way to kick of my list of 30s then with a list things I'm grateful for.

1. My husband
I'm sure I don't thank the saint of a man who has found it in his heart to love and marry me with all my flaws. Always dependable and steadfast I know I can count on him to look out for me. I'm lucky to have such a thoughtful and loving partner to walk by my side through life's ups and downs.

2. My mom
A strong and funny woman who has helped guide me through some of my life's challenging moments (aka: adolecence). I'm blessed to have you as a mom and friend.

3. My dad
The man I get my looks and extremely dry humor who has always been a quiet but strong source of love and support throughout my  life. I'm grateful to call you my dad.

4. My grandparents
The people who were always picking me up from school and taking me here or there when I was younger. And of course the ones who spoiled me rotten. I am so thankful that I've had the opportunity to spend so much time with them.

5. My in-laws
Bad in-law jokes tend to be an easy joke for most, but I really lucked out in the in-law department. They've always embraced me as part of the family and I'm blessed to have married into such wonderful family with my family so far away.

6. My friends
I've been fortunate to meet lifelong friends in all stages of my life. Although I love spending time with friends nearby I also love having low maintenance friends that live afar.

7. My dog
The first several months with my dog were challenging to say the least, but as she's gotten older she's been a great addition to our family. It's so nice to come home to her smiley face and wagging tail. She great at playing fetch with herself - a true "only child" and she loves a lazy day of naps just as much as I.

8. My health
Although I may be currently dealing with some minor health issues my general health is excellent.

9. My education
My family prepared me for success in the best way they know how and made sure that I had a first rate education starting from kindergarten all the way through college. Everything I have today is thanks to the education I was allowed.

10. My home
It's said that a home should be your escape from the world. And I can really say that's true of my home. From my cozy bedroom to my deck-filled backyard that's perfect for entertaining I love my home and it's been an amazing first home.

11. My job
Like many people I can always find something to complain about my job, but all things said I'm thankful for the opportunity to get paid well while helping people at the same time.

12. The opportunity to travel
Between traveling with my parents and my husband I've been able to see different places in and outside of our country. Now that I live in California it makes traveling even more accessible then it used to be when I lived in Hawaii.

13. The bus driver
I am so thankful for the bus driver that gets me safely to work and back home almost every day. Not having to drive myself to work allows me to catch up on my blogging or catch some much needed shut eye.

14. Friendly strangers
Sometimes all it takes is smile from a stranger or a customer who asks how my day is going. Friendly strangers really make the world a nicer place to be in.

15. Trashy reality TV
Kardashians, Hip Hop and Hollywood, Real Housewives, 15 Kids and Counting...I love it all (much to my husband's dismay). I know a lot of people hate reality TV but sometimes there's something to be said about how relaxing and therapeutic it can be to veg out in front of the TV for a marathon of Real Housewives.

16. My comfy bed
I love sleeping and my comfy bed makes one of my favorite hobbies that much better. And nothing makes you appreciate the comfort of your own bed than a restless night in an uncomfortable foreign bed.

17. Growing up in Hawaii
This is something I admittedly did not appreciate nearly as much as I should have when I was growing up. Growing up on a beautiful tropical island with my friends and family only an hour drive away at most is an amazing way to grow up. Beautiful beaches and amazing weather pretty much year round provided a great backdrop for my childhood.

18. Bay area weather
With just the right amount of seasons I could not ask for more when it comes the the weather in the bay area. I am grateful that it gets warm enough to wear shorts I'm the summer without needing air conditioning in my home and cool enough in the fall/winter to see the leaves change colors and have an excuse to wear a nice pair of boots and jacket without having to worry about snow ruining it.

19. Double stamp Tuesdays
Our favorite sushi spot has a stamp reward program and offers double stamps on Tuesday. My husband and I take advantage of this at least once a week. On a day that's not as stressful as Monday but not quite to hump day it's nice to be able to have an excuse to treat ourselves to some good sushi.

20. Acts of kindness
From the person who picked up my wallet and gave it to a BART attendant without stealing from me to the bus driver who let me on when I realized I left my wallet at home. Simple acts like these shine bright in my memories as horrible days that were averted thanks to the kindness of others.

21. Target
In December I'll be starting a new job working for Target. I'm grateful for the opportunity to shift paths in my career when I feel like I really needed it.

22. Ice cream
Always there to brighten up a bad day...thank god for ice cream. Enough said.

23. My gas stove
For most of my life I had a gas stove and it wasn't until I moved into an apartment with an electric stove top did I realize how much better a gas stove is. That being said I am very appreciative for having a gas stove in my kitchen that gives me superior control over the temperature in which I cook with.

24. Financial security
I'm extremely grateful for the financial security hubs and I have. I know that not everyone is lucky enough to never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or whether or not they can afford that new winter coat they desperately need.

25. Lazy weekends
Little in life is as satisfying as getting to cuddle in front of the TV in your PJ's all weekend. With the busy holiday season coming up soon it reminds me of how rejuvenating it can be to have no obligations at all. I'll take them whenever I can get them.

26. Fun co-workers
I can honestly say that I've stayed with the company I've been at for 3 years because I truly enjoy working with the people. The pharmacists and technicians I work with make coming to work bearable day in and day out. I will miss them dearly when I leave at the end of this month.

27. SHN season tickets
This is the second year hubs and I have been SHN season ticket holders and we have yet to be disappointed. I love having great musicals to look forward to year round. Not to mention the perks of being able to buy tickets in advanced for shows that aren't included in our season.

28. Online shopping
Online shopping has taken the shopping experience to another level. With free shipping and returns your home becomes your dressing room (sans overly flattering mirrors). And with websites like ebates who gives you with cash back and coupon codes for shopping it's like being paid to shop (that might be a stretch... lol)

29. Care packages
Nothing says I love you from family and friends from afar like a care package. Big to little it doesn't matter...when someone takes the time to curate and mail a package to me it always warms my heart.

30. Google
Thank goodness for google! Always there to answer those nagging questions like "who's that actor in that movie?" or "how yo tell a coworker how to stop singing at work?" on a whim. I can't even remember a time when I had to do without the convenience of google.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Not So Dirty Thirty

October marked my thirtieth year on this planet. We celebrated the momentous occasion bu going to CPK to partake in one of my favorite desserts, butter cake, and then we caught a double feature at the drive-in. It may not be what most people think of when they think of how they want to or how they had celebrated their dirty thirty...dirty isn't really my stye anyway. Hubs and I did it low key just the way I like it.

warm buttery goodness

beautiful birthday flowers from hubs

With such a big birthday under my belt I figured some life reflection was in order. Throughout this year I'll be doing a series of reflections of things I've learned, things I'm grateful for, things I aspire toward, etc. So stay tuned for some hopefully interesting reflections on my life and what lies ahead.

Monday, September 22, 2014

NYC Advice and Tips

Getting Around: Use Public Transportation
Before we left for New York we looked into possibly buying a 7 day pass for a hop-on-hop-off style bus. We have them all over San Francisco and it seems like the easiest way to get around in the city without getting lost. However due to the higher cost we decided against it and went with the 7 day unlimited metro card for $30 each.
We found that getting around in New York was very easy with the aid of our friend Google Maps. We did a lot of walking which is made relatively easy due to their grid like numbered streets and avenues. And with the help of Google Maps we always knew which subway or bus we needed to take to get to where we wanted.

Attractions: Buy Online and Go Early
We considered buying one of the many city passes available for New York. However, after careful consideration of the attractions we actually wanted to go to it was cheaper for us to pay the individual entry fees instead (especially when you take into account that many museums offer discounted/free entry days, student discounts, or are donation based).
We purchased most of our attraction tickets online a day ahead of time which meant we didn't need to stand in line at the attractions to buy tickets. This ended up saving us a lot of time. We also tried to go to the attractions earlier in the day. We went to the Top of Rockefeller Center as soon as they opened and because we bought our tickets online ahead of time we had no lines to wait in to get up. Not to mention that it was so nice and peaceful up there since there were only a few other people at the top while we were there.

Tapings: Only if You Have an Extended Stay in NYC
The tapings we went to were great and definitely a ton of fun. But if you're only in NYC for a few days don't waste your time. Going to the tapings was a huge time investment between standing in line to pick up tickets and then standing in line to get into the studio. Attending the live tapings we went to took up a good 5-6 hours of our day. If you have a short stay in New York don't waste it all by standing in line. There's so much more New York has to offer.

Broadway/Off-Broadway: TKTS for Deep Discounts
Tickets for almost every Broadway and off-Broadway show are available at the TKTS booth in Times Square. There are only a handful of extremely popular shows you won't be able to get there (ie: Wicked and Book of Mormon). I think it'd also be safe to assume that if a show has won any Tony awards this year (especially best musical or best play) you'll need to buy your tickets ahead of time.

While I'm no travel expert hopefully those of you who may be visiting New York for the first time will find these little tidbits helpful.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Motown: The Musical

Good morning, ya'll! Last night we went to see the first musical in our SHN 2014-2015, Motown: The Musical. This was our second year with season tickets and we decided to pick up a set of 4 tickets this season so that we could share our musical experience with some of our friends and family. We tried to figure out which of our friends and family would enjoy this show the most and ultimately decided to bring hub's dad and girlfriend with us. It seems like we made the right decision as they reminisced about growing up with the music of Motown.

 The music for the show was great! I mean how could it not with all the super hits that came out of the Motown record label? With songs like Ain't to Proud to Beg, What's Going On, and ABC the music of this show definitely had the audience bopping along. The story follows the conception and life of Motown Records by legendary producer and song writer Berry Gordy.

For me the plot fell short, so much focus was put on the music of Motown which is great, but I still feel like they could've done more with the story. I understand that clearly the focus of the show would be the amazing music they made, but there are other similar musicals out there like Jersey Boys and Beautiful: The Carol King Musical that focus highly on the music and are still able to make time to tell a story. My final thoughts...go for the music, but don't expect much of a storyline.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Our Favorite NYC Eats [picture heavy post]

Since we ate a lot of good food in New York I thought it'd be a good idea to compile some of our favorite eats from our trip.

On Sunday morning we brunched at Good Enough to Eat which was highly recommended by one of my high school classmates who lives in New York. Although the food was good it wasn't out of this world. But it was all worth it experience the quintessential brunch staple of the Upper West Side, strawberry butter. It boggles my mind to think of the genius who thought this delicious concoction up. Slathered on their warm biscuits or or all over fresh waffles it was absolutely magical. 
I'm literally drooling on my keyboard right now

That night we made our way to a Momofuku Milk Bar to try the legendary crack pie. When we got back to our hotel room with our pies we were a little weary of the fact that butter is the first ingredient listed...what had we gotten ourselves into??? After our first bite of buttery, sweet, chewy goodness I was in love. We went back to get crack pie to finish off our day almost every night we were in New York. There's definitely no denying why they call it crack pie. 
Oh butter, you've never done me wrong!
Unwrapped and in all it's crack pie glory
While researching places to eat in New York we happened across the BuzzFeed Donut Crawl. Although the author doesn't make the latter half of the donut crawl sound enjoyable by any means they did mention a creme brulee donut at Doughnut Plant which we knew we just had to try. Not only was the creme brulee donut to die for but their cake donuts all have fillings which make them extra moist and extra delicious. So good we had to do a repeat visit on our last day in New York.
top R to L: coffee cake donut and creme brulee donut
bottom R to L: creme brulee donut and tres leches cake donut
Coffee cake donut filled with creamy goodness

Later that day we went to Eataly and had lunch at Rosticceria where we shared to most delicious prime rib sandwich my mouth has ever had the pleasure of meeting. The bread was just the right amount of crusty (crunchy without tearing up the inside of your mouth) and the meat was seasoned to absolute perfection. So glad we stumbled upon this gem.
Ah-maze-ing!

The next day we ate dinner at a New York staple, Shake Shack. I remember standing in line for HOUUURSSSS in Madison Square with my parents in 2010 just to get a taste of Shake Shack goodness. Luckily now there are many more chains open and we were able to get our grub on in a reasonable amount of time. While the burgers ain't no In-N-Out their shakes are undeniably good.
nom-nom-nom-nom-nom

I love a good pastrami sandwich so we had to make a trip to the famed, Carnegie Deli. Their pastrami is so flavorful and tender without being overly fatty. Not to mention their monstrous portions are legendary. Even after sharing a sandwich we were so full we had to take our cheesecake to go.

Almost every night we came back to our hotel from the theater we would pass by a street cart with a huge line of people. We finally looked into it and found out that The Halal Guys is basically a New York City institution. Once we knew that we just HAD to give it a try. After reviewing yelp we decided on chicken and rice. The plate was so big that the two of us were able to fill up on just one plate. Needless to say yelp didn't lead us astray and the food was delicious.
so simple yet so delicious

Last up on our list of favorite eats was Gotham Pizza...you didn't think we'd have a list of NYC eats without pizza did you??? We ate a lot of good pizza but the grandma square pizza at Gotham was the best. The homemade marinara sauce and the drizzling of olive oil on the thin crispy crust was a perfect combo.
what New York trip would be complete without pizza?

And that concludes the series on our New York trip. I'm glad I  got to wrap up this final post just in time for us to get ready for out trip back in November!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NYC Sightseeing [picture heavy post]

Hubs and I will be sharing our birthday presents and taking another trip to NYC in November. Earlier we heard rumblings that one of my favorite actresses, Emma Stone, might be taking a role along side Alan Cumming in Cabaret on Broadway. Once the rumors were confirmed we knew we had to go back. With our next trip to New York booked I figured I better get on with finishing up my original NYC posts.

In the week we were in New York we tried to get in as much sightseeing as possible without overly exhausting ourselves. In the end I think we saw pretty much everything on our list of NYC sights.

We didn't do much sightseeing on our first day in New York. We mostly familiarized ourselves with the subway system and caught a matinee of Cinderella.

We hit the ground running on our second day in New York by going to the top of Rockefeller Center as soon as they opened. It was a nice clear day and we were early enough to beat the crowds allowing us to really enjoy the breathtaking views of the city.
L to R: city view and central park view from Rockefeller Center
Then we were off to a boat tour around half of the island of Manhattan with Circle Line Cruise. A friend of mine who lives in New York highly recommended doing a boat tour which gave us a pretty nice overview and some history behind some of the sights we planned to see later in the week.
top L to R: Lady Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Empire State Building from Circle Line Cruise
bottom L to R: Staten Island Ferry and lower Manhattan skyline
After the boat tour was over we rushed over for our Daily Show taping. After that we were off to see Avenue Q off-Broadway.
Before the end of the night we stopped by the Rockefeller Center one more time to take in the view with the city lights on. Again we were lucky to go late enough that there wasn't much of a crowd and we could enjoy the view without all the hassle of waiting in line or having people photobomb our pictures.
L to R: night view of Central Park and the city from Rockefeller Center

The next day we spent window shopping in SoHo. We also went to check out Eataly, an Italian-style market in the Flatiron District. So many people had mentioned we should check it out when we were getting suggestions for our New York trip. I thought it was so strange that people would recommend visiting a market, but once we entered I totally understood why it was so highly recommended. It really was a sight to see unto itself.
L: flat iron building
R top to bottom: handmade pasta and huge cheese selection in Eataly
That evening we went to our Tonight Show taping.

The following morning we spent in downtown. We started with our trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We spent some time at the Statue of Liberty where we were able to go up to the pedestal and visit the museum. But we just briefly got off the ferry to snap some quick photos of Ellis Island...since none of our relatives would've immigrated through there it wasn't really a point of interest for us.
L to R: Lady Liberty up close and personal, windy stairs up to the crown, replica of the torch
Once the ferry brought us back we headed to Wall Street to check out the financial hub of the United States.
L to R: rubbing the bulls balls for good luck, New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street,
and Trinity Church at the end of Wall Street
We then made our way to the 9/11 Memorial. Unfortunately for us we weren't able to go to the museum since it was scheduled to open a couple weeks after our trip. Although we were really disappointed that we couldn't go to the museum I'm glad we were able to pay our respects at the memorial. It's such a beautiful and peaceful place with such a tragic history behind it. I definitely got a little teary eyed being there.
L to R: 9/11 memorial pools and Freedom Tower
Then we made the long track across the Brooklyn bridge which provided a pretty awesome view of the Hudson River.
walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
We finished the day off with A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.

We spent Thursday morning wandering around Central Park. Even though it was a gloomy morning it was impossible for me to day dream about how lovely it must be to live close enough to stroll the park every day. We even had a Gossip Girl moment as we sat on the Met steps.
That afternoon we strolled around in Grand Central Station. It's amazing to think how many trains stop there and go through New York everyday.
top L to R: hanging out in Central Park on a rainy day, Bethesda Fountain, and spotted on the Met steps
bottom L to R: outside and inside Grand Central
We ended the day with Rocky.

On our last day in New York we walked along the High Line which is a park built on a historic freight rail line above the Lower West Side of Manhattan. We took one last walk through Central Park and then made our way to FAO Schwartz for some window shopping. Our last stop on our trip in New York was MOMA where we learned that we aren't huge fans of modern art. But since we got in free for Uniqlo's Free Friday Nights so we couldn't really complain.
L to R: strolling along the High Line, of course we had to check out the Lego displays in FAO Schwartz,
and enjoying Van Gogh's Starry Night

We sure had a ton of fun playing all over the city. Next up I'll be sharing some of our favorite eats from the trip.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

NYC Musicals: Rocky


On the Thusday we were in New York we planned to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neal Patrick Harris. It was the musical that hubs bought tickets for as soon as we knew we'd be in New York because we love NPH. Needless to say we were super excited to see that show. However, it wasn't until we were on our way to pick up our tickets from will call that we realized we'd made a terrible mistake. Apparently we put Hedwig on  the wrong day in our calendar and booked A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder for the same day. We completely missed Hedwig without even knowing it! We hurried over to the box office to see if there was anything we could do to get tickets, but they informed us that tickets were sold out over a month in advanced are escorted Heartbreaking to say the least.

We sadly walked toward Times Square where I proceeded to get separated from hubs in the hoards of people when he crossed a street before I was able to. Thank goodness for cell phones! After being reunited we made our way over to the TKS booth to see if there was anything we wanted to see. Hubs had been pointing out the Rocky billboards everywhere we went in New York but I was less than excited to see a musical based on a movie I'd never seen. But since hubs was so forlorn about messing up our Hedwig tickets I suggested we see Rocky in hopes of cheering him up. The musical is up for a few Tony awards including best actor in a musical and best scenic design so I figured it couldn't be so bad.

Since I haven't seen the movie I can't attest to how true the musical is to the movie, but hubs says that they did a pretty good job. To me the story seems pretty depressing up until the big fight at the end, but again apparently that's how it's supposed to be. The actor who played Rocky definitely had the Sylvester Stallone voice down, but strangely had a very distinct country twang whenever he sang. I honestly wasn't very impressed with the lyrics throughout the musical. For some reason they seemed forced. But maybe that's just what happens when you're trying turn a non-musical movie into a musical.

Even though I wasn't blown away by the story or lyrics of Rocky I'm glad we saw it for it's production value alone. If this play doesn't win best scenic design I will be shocked. The stage design of this show is absolutely incredible. From the little things like the rain that trickles down the windows in scenes where it's raining to the cameras they use to put up live images so it looks like we're really watching the news coverage of Rocky training for the big fight. But most impressive is the boxing ring that moves seemlessly around the stage throughout the show. In fact for the fight scene between Rocky and Apollo Creed a regulation sized boxing ring slides out into the audience and a jumbo tron drops from the ceiling just like you'd see at a real boxing match. The audience members sitting in the center of the first 10-15 rows are escorted on stage to sit in bleachers to watch the big fight. It really makes you feel like you've been transported into the movie. I can't imagine how they would possibly take such a large production on the road so if you liked the movie I'd reccomend seeing the musical in New York just for the sheer amazingness of the set.