Desert Bloom | Anza-Borrego Springs

The heavy rains in southern California produced what news stations are referring to as a super bloom. You can best believe that I had to get in on some of this wild flower action. Desert Bloom is what we’re calling it, and Anza-Borrego Springs was the place to be these first few weeks of spring.

desertbloom 001

desertbloom 002

desertbloom 003

desertbloom 004

desertbloom 005

Desert Bloom

My go-to adventure buddies are my mom and sister as they’re always down to go on these “crazy” escapades with me. So, we hopped in the car before sunrise to make the 2-hour car journey to the desert. I almost forgot how hot the desert can get. To be fair, I also almost forgot that I grew up in Las Vegas. But that’s another story. By the time we reached our destination, it was 10AM and already 80 degrees!

After a quick bite to eat and chat with the state park volunteers, we drove to the wildflowers and were treated to quite the sight. And I’m not just talking about the yellow and purple flowers… We weren’t the only visitors that weekend, thousands of caterpillars were admiring the fields as well! There aren’t any photos here because it gives me the heebie jeebies just looking at them. But trust me when I say that there were a lot, and they were EVERYWHERE!!!!

desertbloom 006

desertbloom 007

Anza-Borrego Springs

After visiting Joshua Tree for the first time a week before, I was actually happy to be surrounded by cacti again. I personally found the cacti to be more photogenic than the wildflowers, and was most excited to see these tall, spiny things! I’ve become such a sucker for desert vibes, or maybe it’s just because it reminds me so much of Coachella. (Kinda bummed to not be attending this year, but happy that I’ve already experienced it for myself!!)

While we didn’t enjoy the heat, I can say that being surrounded by nature was a sweet treat. I think it’s really good to visit national parks. And more importantly, to respect them!

desertbloom 008

desertbloom 009

desertbloom 010

desertbloom 011



U-Pick Sunflowers | Suzie’s Farms

Hello blog! It’s been some time, and while I have no excuse, I’m very sorry for the lack in blog love! But I’m here right now and I’m excited to share this belated post! On the blog today I’m writing about one of my favorite places in San Diego’s South Bay – Suzie’s Farm! This organic farm is my favorite because they’re also a U-Pick farm. Visitors can pick strawberries in the summer, pumpkins in the fall, and sunflowers in the spring! Yes, you read that right, U-PICK SUNFLOWERS! Don’t you love the seasons? I know I do.

upick 001

upick 002

upick 003

Suzie’s Farm

So while the harvest varies by season, the local community flocks to Suzie’s Farm for fresh, organic produce year-round. Suzie’s Farm is a 70-acre USDA-certified organic farm with over 80 of the nicest employees. The farm also boasts 100+ varieties of fruits, veggies and flowers. What makes this farm extra special, however, is the U-Pick opportunities. They dedicate a few of their fields for the U-Pickers. Below is the makings of the strawberry fields!

upick 004

upick 005

upick 006

U-Pick Sunflowers

The hours of Suzie’s Farm are pretty limited. At the time this post is being written, the farm is only open to the public on Saturdays. So you can best believe that when it was announced that the sunflowers were ready to be picked, everyone and their mothers were at the fields.

With shears in hand, my mom, sister and I walked into the field of sunflowers on the lookout for the biggest and brightest ones. I made the rookie mistake of wearing an overall dress, meaning my legs were bare and amongst the rows of flowers. Who knew sunflower stems and leaves were so itchy? However, I did make the right decision to wear high socks. Woo!

I know that I personally had so much fun being amongst the flowers. Of course there were bees and other insects, but the photo opportunities were just unreal. For $1 a stem, we walked away with 7 individual blooms.

upick 007

upick 008

upick 009

upick 010

upick 011

upick 012

upick 013

Support your local farms and businesses!



Views from the Six | Toronto

Every Toronto local I crossed paths with seemed surprised when I’d list every place I saw in the Six in the short span I was there. Each day’s list would be an upwards of 4 city attractions, which I guess is a lot. What can I say, I don’t play. Especially when it comes to exploring.

toronto 001

The city of Toronto is small despite being geographically large. It’s also pretty walkable, but I totally understand the need to take transit. It helped knowing I had TTC tokens once my feet started to hurt. I just needed it for this purpose twice, and it was only because it was also raining.

During my three days in Toronto, I found myself all over the city. I like to believe that is plenty of time for all the must-see’s, especially during Canada’s cooler seasons. Aside from much colder temps than I’m used to, I’d say I came right when the weather was still manageable. Layers really helped.

Day 1

toronto 002

toronto 003

toronto 004

toronto 005

toronto 006

toronto 007

toronto 008

toronto 009

toronto 010

toronto 011

For my first day in Toronto, the universe conspired to give me the most perfect and beautiful autumn day to explore in. It also happened to be the one day that a good exchange friend of mine, Sudiksha, took off work (and that was before I told her I was coming!) How it all worked out amazes me. We started off in the northern part of Toronto at Kensington Market and worked our way south. We braved Chinatown in the daytime, walked through Graffiti Alley, took Queen Street West all the way to Toronto City Hall, and ended our day at the iconic CN Tower.

Day 2

toronto 012

toronto 013

toronto 014

toronto 015

toronto 016

The second day of my Canada visit brought the clouds and rain. Not wanting to get wet, this is the day I also braved the TTC subway on my own. My destination was way up north again – the Royal Ontario Museum. I spent a good chunk of my day walking around the exhibits before a brief stroll along all the posh shops in Yorkville. Realising that I didn’t want to shop yet, I decided to jump back onto the subway and head towards west Toronto. This part of the city is much more residential, so I spent the rest of the day admiring the cute and charming homes before venturing back to Kensington and home.

Day 3

toronto 017

toronto 018

toronto 019

toronto 020

toronto 021

toronto 022

toronto 023

I was whisked away to Ottawa and Niagara for the weekend, so the third day in Toronto was also my last day. I dedicated it to shopping and all the tourist stops I missed earlier in the week. Beginning in St. Lawrence Market, I was sent by Amanda to Paddington Pump to partake in a Torontonian staple, the Peameal Sandwich. Needing to walk it off, I headed over to the Distillery District before making my way over to the Eaton Centre. This shopping centre is insane! I spent a good 2 hours in there before treating myself to a BeaverTail.

Toronto aka The 6ix

toronto 024

The city of Drake treated this California girl very well. I loved exploring a new city and always have to pinch myself that this is real life. Feeling really grateful for these opportunities! Thanks again, Toronto!



Oh Canada!

A couple of months ago, I had this crazy idea to visit our great neighbor up north – Canada. The reasoning behind it was because of two long-overdue goals: to see the changing colors of fall and to visit some exchange friends after 2 years. And just like every trip, it crept up on me and ended too fast. So, in more ways than one, “Oh Canada!” is the perfect title for this post.

For one whole week in October, I decided to leave my warm California sunshine to experience a real autumn. I’m talking changing colors, chilly air, and falling leaves. We aren’t so lucky in that department here in so Cal. But little did it occur to me just how cold my destination would be. We’re so spoiled here, and I was going to our great neighbor up north, of course.

Toronto, Ontario

ohcanada001

Starting off in Toronto, its much milder climate was perfect to try and get me acclimated to Canadian weather. When I first arrived, the 6ix was so humid that I was perspiring! The next day? I just wore a long-sleeved shirt and sported a scarf when the sun went down. This was the kind of fall weather I’ve been used to. And it was perfect weather to get my bearings in Toronto. The next day brought the cold and rain, but I didn’t let this ruin my exploring. Read more about this in my last post here.

Parc Gatineau, Quebec

ohcanada002

ohcanada003

ohcanada004

ohcanada005

After our little road trip up to Ottawa, Amanda then drove us over the province border into Quebec – into Parc Gatineau, more specifically. We were met with rain all day, which is such a shame! That’s what I get for visiting Canada during a season other than summer. Or that’s what I was reminded of during the whole weekend. It rained the whole time. But LOOK AT THOSE COLORS! We don’t get that in southern California.

Ottawa, Ontario

ohcanada006

ohcanada007

ohcanada008

ohcanada009

The capital of Canada, Ottawa is home to PM Justin Trudeau, world diplomats, and Amanda’s family + friends. It’s a super cute town that again would probably be 100x cuter in the sunshine and warmth. It was wonderful regardless and I genuinely enjoyed meeting all of my host’s childhood and university friends. I experienced the famous Canadian hospitality and it’s something I will forever cherish. Thank you again Amanda for everything.

Niagara Falls, Ontario

ohcanada010

ohcanada011

ohcanada012

And finally, the grand and majestic Niagara Falls. No trip to the eastern part of Canada would be complete without a visit to the Falls. It was probably the highlight of my trip to Canada (aside from seeing my exchange friends, of course!). If you are ever in Ontario, you owe it to yourself to experience this natural wonder of the world. I caved in and took the Hornblower cruise that brings you and a whole bunch of other tourists face-to-face with Horseshoe Falls. It was a bonding moment for us all as we were pummeled by the mist.

ohcanada013

The sights, the people, the BeaverTails – Canada was amazing. I loved my first taste of Canada and I look forward to visiting more of it in 2017! Vancouver, I’m coming for you!



Cream Tea | Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Afternoon Tea

Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Afternoon Tea in La Mesa has been my go-to stop for all things British and afternoon tea. Now that San Diego has finally started to cool down, I’ve been aching for proper afternoon tea and a nice ‘cuppa. Years ago, my best friend was in town to celebrate her birthday and suggested we have high tea. That’s when we discovered Shakespeare’s. The last time I had afternoon tea was to celebrate her birthday, so a trip to the tearoom, for cream tea, was long overdue.

creamtea 001

creamtea 002

creamtea 003

To this day, Shakespeare’s is my favorite tea room. To be frank, I’ve only been to one but when you know, you know. The owners of the shop and tearoom, as well as the adjoining pub & grille, reign from England. Authenticity is something I always look for in everything, so learning that this place is the real thing thrilled me. And who wants English tea to not actually be English?

creamtea 004

creamtea 005

My Cream Tea Experience

My sister and I arrived 10 minutes prior to our 12PM sitting. We were greeted by our server, the shoppe owner, and an empty tea room. We were directed to the tea sniffing bar where we’d choose our teas. My sister went for the White Coconut Crème, while I stuck to the classic Earl Grey.

We returned to the patio to our own teapot and tea set. Yes, you get a WHOLE TEAPOT to yourself! And word to the wise, empty your bladder before you decide to get stuck in rush hour traffic. They also provide milk and sugar cubes for the table.

As we started to enjoy our tea, our server then brought out our plates of scones. Cream tea traditionally consists of tea with a combination of scones, clotted cream, and jam. And for $9.95, that is exactly what Shakespeare’s does. We were both really impressed with the freshly baked scone! Oh, and that Double Devon Cream!

creamtea 006

creamtea 007

creamtea 008

creamtea 009

I love a good tea party. Some of my fondest childhood memories are the tea parties that our Grandma Betty would host for me and my god-sisters. I remember walking out onto the patio to dainty tea sets and finger foods. It was always a great time and I’ll forever be grateful for those memories.

creamtea 010

creamtea 011

creamtea 012

creamtea 013

creamtea 014

creamtea 015

Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe

As I mentioned earlier, Shakespeare’s has been my go-to stop for British goodies. I’m a huge anglophile. As are pretty much all of the women in my life. I have mad love/respect for the British culture, and it’s been like this for as long as I can remember. Around the holidays, I like going there to get mince pies and a Dairy Milk Advent calendar. They ship in pretty much everything from the UK, including Peri Peri sauce, Crunchie bars, and mugs with the royals’ faces.

creamtea 016 creamtea 017

Shakespeare’s also hosts themed tea parties, in addition to the more traditional Afternoon Tea. Just this past week, they hosted Harry Potter themed tea – sorting hat and all. Next month, they are hosting a Game of Thrones one!

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back to the tearoom again. It’s my favorite and my only recommendation for an authentic British tea experience in San Diego.



Apple Picking in Julian | Sentenac Ranch

What better way to spend a Sunday than apple picking?

Yesterday, my mom, sister and I hopped in the car to Julian for the first of many autumn festivities to come.

applepicking 001

applepicking 002

applepicking 003

applepicking 004

applepicking 005

applepicking 006

applepicking 007

Sentenac Ranch 

We arrived around 2PM, after a little over an hour drive from south San Diego.

Secluded in the Julian woods, Sentenac Ranch is a 170-acre property that is part-venue, part-orchard. Upon arrival, we were greeted by extremely warm temps and the friendly owner. He told us that his orchard produces three different types of apples (Red Delicious, Golden Delicious & Rome), and assured us that he doesn’t spray them with pesticides. Big kudos to them for being 100% organic!

For one bag of apples, it’s $14. For two bags, they are $12 each. Then for 3 or more, they are $10 each.

He quickly briefed us on how to pick and choose our apples, and encouraged us to eat the apples right off the tree. After all, you want to know what the apples you’re picking taste like! I learned that apples with wormholes are much sweeter than those without. The worm is long gone, don’t worry.

Needless to say, we each had our fair share of apples. That’s IN ADDITION to the 100 ones we ended up walking away with.

applepicking 008

applepicking 009

applepicking 010

applepicking 011

applepicking 012

applepicking 013

applepicking 014

applepicking 016

applepicking 017

applepicking 018

applepicking 019

applepicking 020

applepicking 021

applepicking 022

Apple Picking in Julian

Apple picking season in Julian is from August to early October. It is recommended to get there at the start of the season, but there were still plenty of apples at Sentenac. And it’s already mid-September. Call ahead before you make the drive up if this is your kind of thing!

The cute little town is known for their apple pies, but why not take your Julian experience to the next level by picking some apples yourself? There’s something about being on a farm, picking the produce with your own hands. You’re also helping out your local farmers when you do!

I’ve always wanted to take part in apple picking, and after 23 years, it finally happened. Our household is now rich in apples, with enough to last us into the autumn season. We’ve already looked into some apple recipes, which I’m definitely sharing on the blog. So, stay tuned for those!

This has gotten me so pumped for fall, and I intend on making the most of it!!!



Ice Cream Flights | Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

Summer in San Diego just wouldn’t be complete without an ice cream cone… or six! You’ve heard of beer flights, but have you heard of ICE CREAM FLIGHTS?! We can all thank Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream for the brilliant concept. With flight options of 3, 6, and 32, no ice cream enthusiast walks out of the shop unsatisfied. A statement I personally know to be true.

icecreamflights 001

I remember first wanting to visit (way back in 2014) when I saw a picture of a flight of 6 on Tumblr, and I thought “Wow. Where is this place? I NEED to try it out.” A quick Google search later, I learned it was in my city! Needless to say, I paid a visit the very next day.

Hammond’s is now my go-to ice cream shop when I’m feeling like treating myself. I always go for the sorbets because I can’t say “no” to POG*-flavored anything. Flavor favorites amongst my sister and I are green tea, pineapple coconut, and pitaya.

(*Passionfruit-orange-guava)

icecreamflights 002

icecreamflights 003

Ice Cream Flights

With flavors such as toasted coconut, Kona coffee, and peanut butter guava jelly, it’s no secret that the ice creams are island-inspired. Hammond’s offers over 300 flavors of ice cream and sorbet made by Tropical Dreams in Hawaii. They specialize in super premium, meaning you’ll be partaking in super rich and creamy ice cream.

When I visit the shop, I always go for the flights. I commend myself on being able to making a sound decision, but sometimes you just don’t want to choose between chocolate and vanilla. That’s why these ice cream flights are simply amazing. I can get every flavor I want, and the flight itself is quite the aesthetic.

icecreamflights 004

icecreamflights 005

icecreamflights 006

Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

The initial shop opened two years ago in my favorite SD neighborhood of North Park, and now Hammond’s boasts a total of 3 locations in the city.

North Park – 3077 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104

Point Loma – 3740 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

Pacific Beach – 1418 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

Please do yourself the favor of visiting one (or all three) of these locations when you’re in San Diego!



Empanadas, Pastries, and More | Liberty Public Market

libertypublicmarket 001

libertypublicmarket 002

libertypublicmarket 003
libertypublicmarket 004

libertypublicmarket 005

libertypublicmarket 006

libertypublicmarket 007

libertypublicmarket 008

libertypublicmarket 009

libertypublicmarket 010

libertypublicmarket 011

libertypublicmarket 012

libertypublicmarket 013

libertypublicmarket 014

Last week, I had the chance to finally pay a visit to Liberty Station’s newest resident – Liberty Public Market. For those of you not aware, Liberty Public Market is a farmers market composed of local San Diego and southern California vendors. Inside you’ll find everything from food vendors to fresh produce and even wine tastings. There’s something for everyone – with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free options as well. It is basically a foodie’s paradise.

I was mostly interested in trying the Argentine empanadas from Paraná. The empanadas are baked, made with all natural ingredients, and are to-die for. I ordered the Mushroom & Cheese, Margherita, and Beef (for my sister) empanadas – and they were delicious. I loved the crust of the empanadas, and the Mushroom filling was so flavorful! Definitely a must-try.

It’s also worth it to mention that we went to the market during its peak time around noon. This place was poppin’, which resulted in not enough photographs of the many vendors inside of Liberty Public Market. There are a total of 25 resident “artisans,” and you could very well spend half a day there trying everything.

There’s no shortage of great food and fun at Liberty Public Market. Enjoy something healthy and raw from Fishbone Kitchen, something fried and greasy from Cane Patch Kitchen, or something sweet from Crafted Baked Goods and Le Parfait Paris! I had a lot of fun looking at all the pastries – it’s a favorite past-time of mine.

I’m a huge proponent of shopping and eating local, so I’m glad that I have Liberty Public Market. I love going to farmers markets here in San Diego, but now I don’t have to wait until the weekend.

If you ever find yourself in San Diego, make sure you give yourself half a day to enjoy this amazing marketplace. You won’t regret it!



Bad Owl Coffee | A Harry Potter Café

Potterheads come one, come all to the cutest Harry Potter café in the Las Vegas valley! I was finally able to check out Bad Owl Coffee during Fourth of July weekend. After hearing about this new place opening up in the city I grew up in, I knew I’d have to pay a visit the next time I was in town.

badowlcoffee 001

badowlcoffee 002

badowlcoffee 003

Bad Owl Coffee – Henderson, Nevada

We arrived to the magical café at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon. All the tables (each adorned with different HP expressions and quotes) were taken when we first walked in. However, by the time we ordered, the “Everyday I’m Mugglin’” table cleared up, which stood across their own Platform 9 ¾.

As we waited for our drinks and dessert, I sat fascinated with the number of customers that this café brings in. Every table sat a customer, and there was constantly someone giving their order. For such a small shop, they seemed to be doing quite well. Big kudos to all of them for supporting local businesses!

badowlcoffee 004

badowlcoffee 005

badowlcoffee 006

The Menu

For being a small coffee shop, Bad Owl has a great selection of coffees, teas, and foods. Going in, I knew that I wanted to try the most Harry Potter-esque drink, in addition to their new waffles.

  • Butterbrew latte – my friend Angela and I both ordered this Hogsmeade classic, and were pleasantly surprised with their rendition. Had it iced, without the optional espresso shot. Wasn’t overpoweringly sweet like some Butterscotch flavoring can be. I would definitely recommend this drink.
  • Matcha latte – my sister ordered this and said that it was very creamy (from the milk presumably) but also very sweet.
  • Toffee coffee – my mom opted for an iced coffee, and really enjoyed the flavor.
  • Matcha waffle – this was as perfect as a waffle could be: crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Served with maple syrup, matcha sauce, butter, and Thrifty’s vanilla bean ice cream. Best sweet treat, ever.

 

A Harry Potter Café in Las Vegas

You don’t have to be a wizard to understand that J.K. Rowling’s beloved book series has become something bigger than itself. With successful film adaptations and a Wizarding World of Harry Potter on either side of the country, it’s no wonder that Potterheads are finding new ways to keep it alive! There’s now Bad Owl Coffee.

Next time you find yourself in Sin City, make sure to venture away from the Strip and check out this Harry Potter café!



6 Disneyland Must Do’s From an AP Holder

disneymustdo 001

The past year has seen an upwards of 10 trips to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure for myself, and it’s all thanks to this bad boy: my Annual Passport. But fortunately, my 6 Disneyland Must Do’s don’t require the expensive Annual Pass – just the standard Disney ticket. Before you head out for your next Disneyland trip, check out this list!

1. Get a FastPass for Space Mountain

disneymustdo 002

My number one tip for anyone who loves rides (but hates waiting in long lines) is to get the FastPass. It’s honestly one of the greatest concepts; it lets you skip the lines and gives you more time to enjoy the park. Most of, if not all, the popular rides issue their respective FastPass – including (Hyper)Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, California Screamin’, Tower of Terror, and Radiator Springs Racers! Noticeably missing is Matterhorn, but they do have single rider passes for those keen on getting in and out quickly.

You are limited on how many FastPass tickets you can have at a time though, so plan accordingly. If tackling Disneyland, I recommend getting a FastPass for Space Mountain first. California Adventure? Definitely Radiator Springs Racers. Though, they do have a separate line for single riders.

2. Order the Pomme Frites

disneymustdo 003

Don’t get me started on the food. One of the best parts of Disneyland, if not the best part, is the food. They have something to meet everyone’s dietary needs and wants. We’re talking turkey legs for meat-eaters, veggie burgers for vegans, and delicious snacks for even the pickiest of kids.

There’s an Instagram account completely dedicated to the food, and I suggest following @foodsofdisneyland before your trip to the Magic Kingdom. I’m craving the pomme frites at Café Orleans right now; and dream about those Disneyland pickles on the daily.

3. Enjoy drinks by the Pier

disneymustdo 004

If you’re of age, you should know that all your adult beverages will be found in California Adventure. The only alcohol in Disneyland is in Club 33 and probably with Jack Sparrow and crew on the Pirates’ ride (*disclaimer: the latter part is a joke).

Check out Cove Bar to enjoy drinks, appetizers, and the view of Paradise Pier. Funnily enough, as I write about alcoholic drinks, I elected for the non-alcoholic Cotton Candy lemonade.

4. Rub noses with Winnie 

disneymustdo 005

Some of the older guests are quick to dismiss meeting the characters as child’s play, but it really is part of the magic that Disney is known for. What better place to be a kid than at the Magic Kingdom?

I’ve seen everything from babies crying in fear to grown adults crying of happiness when meeting their favorite Disney characters. The overall sentiment, though, is always one of awe. I like to believe that Disney was one of the first places where people were able to meet characters they read in books and saw in films. My personal favorites (and where to find them) are Princess Jasmine at Aladdin’s Oasis, Peter Pan in Fantasyland, the main Mouse himself basically everywhere, and of course Pooh bear in Critter County. Bonus points for cute poses!

5. Learn how to draw Minnie Mouse

disneymustdo 006

Learn to draw your favorite classic animated characters! I took my first drawing class with Animation Academy during my last couple of months as an AP holder, and I wish I discovered it sooner. You follow step-by-step instructions from a Disney artist to draw either Mickey or one of his friends. It is a lot of fun, and as I said, I wish I had checked it out sooner. I’ve drawn Winnie the Pooh, Pluto, and Minnie (as seen above).

6. Take the Cliché Photo-Op

disneymustdo 007

The typical Disneyland picture is one with the castle. If you don’t take a picture with Sleeping Beauty’s castle, did you even go to Disneyland? Some may argue otherwise, but it’s definitely something that needs to be done. My favorite spot is off to the side of the castle; it’s in a little nook on the way to Snow White’s wishing well.

Disneyland Must Do’s 

I am heartbroken to say that my annual pass expired back in May, and I have no plans to visit the parks in the near future. But this past year as an AP holder has been one of the most fun. Should you be heading to the Anaheim parks soon, I do hope you keep these in mind! They were a MUST every visit I took.