Monday, August 14, 2017

An Afternoon to Remember in Mazatlan, Mexico

I cannot believe that it has already been almost a year since Mr Sweetie and I went on a 10-day cruise to Mexico. How time flies! We went on our trip last November. I posted part of the trip on my old blog. My goal is to write about the rest of our  vacation on this blog before 2017 comes to an end. 

We docked at  four ports (Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas) during this trip.  If I have to vote which Mexican city I liked the most during this trip, my vote is for Mazatlan. We actually spent an entire day touring this city from early morning until evening.

We got lucky that we had a great tour guide.  Instead of booking the cruise-sponsored tours on the ship as we often do whenever we go on cruises (this has been our 3rd cruise), we took a chance based on the advice of veteran cruisers we met on the ship. Sure enough, when we got off the boat, independent tour operators were waiting. The tour cost $70 per person which was a lot cheaper (compared to $150+ pp if booked on the cruise).

Mr Sweetie and I chose an air-conditioned van with just another 4 couples. There was plenty of room on the van and we were offered unlimited beer and/or water. It was very clean and our driver was also very attentive.

Our driver took us to many beautiful places and attractions in Mazatlan.  I will try to create a separate post on the activities that we did in Mazatlan. This post is about a beautiful afternoon by the beach after touring all day. 

I wish I can remember the name of the resort that our driver took us to. (I am a hoarder of tickets, postcards and business cards when traveling. I might find it somewhere.) Mr Sweetie and I actually said that if ever return to Mazatlan,  we would actually stay here. There was a pool and it was right on the beach.
We were given over two hours to eat and chill. This was our last stop before being driven back to the cruise ship. It was already late afternoon. And that was what we exactly did -- drink beer, eat Mexican food and watch people who were parasailing.  They were just right in front of us.

It was such a treat as we were being provided with entertainment while resting our legs from a full day of sightseeing and shopping. (I was actually thinking, better them than me! I am not into extreme sports! And yes, I consider being suspended a hundred feet up in the air while my stomach is left on the ground extreme sport!)

We started out with tortilla chips and Coronas. (Gotta drink ice cold Corona when in Mexico!)

The food was actually very good! Mr Sweetie ordered a carne asada plate while I had shrimp and marlin tacos.

I still remember those tacos that I had, most especially the  marlin tacos to this day. Each plate came with guacamole, rice and refried beans, with a basket of warm tortillas, of course.

It has been a gorgeous day that I remember with fondness. Cold beer, delicious Mexican food, fresh seafood and an afternoon  spent with my sweetie at a beautiful beach in Mexico.

November 2016

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Simple Joys # 3: Kindness Disguised As Cupcakes

There are times when I want to do something nice for someone. Not for a close friend or loved one but a co-worker, random stranger or people who pass me by in my day to day life.  A lot of times, as noble as my intentions were, they remain nothing but mere private thoughts. It is because they get lost in the busyness of my daily life, or I dismiss them completely. Sometimes I would think that they might not mean anything to others.

Until I became the recipient of kindness of strangers. A sad event has taken place at work that impacted not just the entire organization but most especially my team. I  provided them the comfort that they needed being their supervisor. I take pride in working hard in  being the best leader and earning my team's loyalty that it made it more difficult to witness them struggle with having to find the courage to continue working. 

As we were meeting, two colleagues from another organization dropped in unannounced. They brought  two boxes of delicious cupcakes and a very sweet card. They said that they heard through the grapevine and they came to show their support. I was deeply touched because my relationship with them were purely formal and professional. Not only did they give us these thoughtful gifts but they came to deliver them in person!

The cupcakes were delicious. I gave them to my team and co-workers who enjoyed them with coffee . What really touched us was the unexpected thoughtfulness and kindness of these two near-strangers. 

I am considered a generous person by my friends and loved ones. In turn I am always blessed to be often spoiled by them as well. I think it is easier to provide for our loved ones and people that we know than to those who are not close to us, or impact our lives the way our family and friends do.

The kindness cycle should continue on.   I will not let the thoughts fly away somewhere in the universe as a good but empty energy. Next time I think of getting that pastry for a co-worker who seems to be having a difficult week, or our custodial staff who always empties my recycling bin with a smile on her face, I will just do it. 

The cupcakes were so appreciated by my team but mostly by me because it has been the first in days when I saw them smile again. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Magical Sushi Date Night

I promise that this post is not about drugs although it sounds like one! Ha! Ha! Magical sushi = magic mushrooms. NOT!

This post is about a sushi date night at a spot in our neighborhood in North Oakland.  At the end of this post, you will see why it is "magical".

Mr Sweetie and I hardly go to the same restaurant twice. There are thousands of places to eat in the Bay Area which make it fun to be adventurous during  date nights. It is unusual for us to repeatedly go back to the same place again so soon. Well, we have been to RnR Sushi & Bowl 3 times in like -- 3 months. Mr Sweetie, who had a brief stint with a poser from Hawaii(RAWR! *claws coming out*) and also stayed there for a little bit thought that the poke at RnR was one of the closest he has had in Kauai.

Okay, talk is cheap. Here are the mouth-watering pictures:

Just look at this poke appetizer.  It is loaded with big chunks of tuna and sashimi topped with seaweed. This is just an appetizer but this is a meal in itself! This is what brought us back to this restaurant 3 times and will likely bring us back again and again!

I will not name the sushi that we ordered but we definitely go sushi-happy everytime we eat here!

Now, on to the bowl of "sushi and bowl". I ordered the Tofu Teriyaki Bowl. What is amazing about this bowl was that this was humongous. I could not believe it myself when it was placed in front of me. It was only $8.95. For $3.95 more, I was able to add an Alaska Roll! I was only able to eat half of this bowl and took the rest to work for lunch on Monday.

So why "magical sushi"? Because RnR's backyard is sweet and magical. The Bay Area has many hidden gardens like this one. And it is always a lovely surprise to be led into one like RnR's backyard. Tiny lights hung on the trees and walls and there were gurgling water fountains as well. Chinese bamboo plants surrounded the garden.

RnR has one of the best values in the Bay Area. The food is fresh which is very important when eating sushi. Everything that we had so far was delicious. Our usual tab (with a large hot sake and tip) is about $90. With the amount of food that we had -- this is a total bargain!

So this is why I consider this place magical!

June 3, 2017 & July 29, 2017

Beautiful Birthday Girl Celebrates in San Francisco

It has been our tradition since we became BFFs over a decade ago to spoil each other rotten on our birthdays. In all reality, BFF spoils me rotten on any given day by always giving me treats, lunches and all the cutest stuff in this world whenever we see other.

It was my turn to spoil her on her birthday. Per our birthday tradition, we take the afternoon off and spend the day in the City (which is where we both work). 

This year the birthday lunch venue was at Delarosa. Located in Yerba Buena Lane in Downtown SF, a pretty alley that leads to museums, eateries and Yerba BuenaGardens, it was a perfectly bright and sunny spot to imbibe and ravish all the delicious little plates that we ordered.  

What did we not order?! We had:
  1. Dungeness crab arancini, calabrese aioli 11
  2. Mussels, white wine, tomato, sofrito 9
  3. Burrata bruschetta, hazelnut & honey 8
  4. Heirloom tomato panzanella, cucumber, red onion & fennel
We imbibed a couple of glasses of Aperol Spritz aperol, seltzer, orange 9 (for the birthday girl) and bubblies for me.

(One more picture of the Dungeness Arancini Balls -- so yummy!)
This year we broke away from tradition. Year after year, we walk to the Ferry Building (aka BFF HQ) after lunch to spend the rest of the afternoon there sipping coffee while enjoying the view of the bay. 

We chose to walk the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art instead for coffee, cake and culture. (This is now our second BFF HQ since I have become a member.)

Here is the birthday girl!
We sat in the outdoor patio of SFMOMA and continued to celebrate over coffee and Princess cake.  It was such a gorgeous day. I look forward to BFF ‘s birthday because I enjoy it as much (if not more!). I am truly blessed to have Heather as my  best friend for life. To those of us who know her, she is beautiful, amazing and strong. God has given me the present of this amazing and kind woman when He put her in this world. 

I am looking forward to many more years of fun birthday celebrations with her! It will be interesting what fun birthday adventure we will come up with when we turn 70 years old – which is quite a very long time from now!

Happy Birthday, BFF! xoxo