#MeatlessMondays While Traveling

It has almost been a year and a half since I started participating in #MeatlessMondays. From previous posts, it is definitely doable. It is definitely doable while traveling. I was in London in August, Nevada, Utah and flying into the Bay Area from Washington D.C. earlier this month and a day of travel meatless returning from Paris.

Yes, they’re vegetarian in London.

You even do it while traveling?” Yes, with so many options available everywhere, it is easy to do. You just have to curb your cravings when you smell certain proteins roasted or served to the table next to yours, or even your dining partner. Just look away!

Nikki‘s burger at Le Montignon in Paris. Not meatless.

During the #OBBRoadTrip, I found myself in Elko, Nevada at a Burger King to try their Impossible Burger that is advertised during my SimsFreePlay game on my iPad. I enjoy a Whopper. I am definitely not anti-fast food as it is convenient and reasonably priced. It isn’t the healthiest but even salads aren’t the best choice if you drench it in dressing and topped with fried chicken. (Mmmm, fried chicken.)

The friendly gal at the counter handed me the familiar brown bag from the drive-thru window and I parked my friend’s Ford in an open parking space. The Impossible Whopper was huge! I can’t remember the Whopper being as big as it was. I like my Whoppers with mustard and opened the burger to reveal its contents. I would say it looks the same however the patty had very defined edges, not curved like a normal burger patty would be. I replaced the bun and took a bite. Honestly, it tastes just like their regular Whopper but maybe just a bit drier and tougher. I would definitely have it again if I was in the mood for a burger on a Monday.

In Lindon, Utah, my dear friend was so nice to have changed her dinner plans to accommodate me. She originally was going to make tacos but I said I couldn’t have meat and I would figure something out. She made homemade pasta alfredo with broccoli instead. Isn’t she a dream? Just look at that face! The whole family ate it and we had tacos the following day. I didn’t take any photos but I assure you it was tasty. Who doesn’t like butter?!?

Jewelry by Stella & Dot

One week later, I was traveling from Washington D.C. to the Bay Area. I needed something to eat on the plane and accidentally slept thru the food service portion of the flight. I rang for the United attendant and ordered a sandwich after an unexpected rude “What do you want?” response. I apologize for my inconvenience, Flight Crew, but it’s a long flight across the country. My sandwich came with meat. It was removed and then became meatless and OK to eat that Monday. I apparently also made it OK for the tone but there was no reason to start a scene. Maybe she hasn’t eaten herself, who knows?

Back in the Bay Area, my awesome coworker picked me up from the airport. We had an afternoon out to lunch and working together at my house. We went to Three in San Mateo. See post HERE from my previous visit. I assure you, it’s still a good spot to go for brunch. My coworker had the delicious fried chicken and waffle sandwich. I had a meatless salad and I ate every single morsel. It was devoured.

I plan on continuing with Meatless Mondays. WeWork just posted an article on how your food choices can reverse climate change. Have you noticed how hot it has been with record setting temps? Read article HERE. Wont you join me? It’s easier than you think, I assure you. Leave me a comment below if you’re already participating, considering it or committed! I would love to cheer you on!

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Keep Going

I am again drafting this blog post from the stationary bike at the gym. I am getting warmed up for chest day and ideally 45 minutes on another cardio machine. This One Busy Bee woke up this morning seeing some progress in the mirror. My blemishes on my face is another thing. I am clearly not perfect or claim to be, but it is ok to recognize when results appear due to your hard work.

Post-workout photos I share with my fellow gym-goer to show we put the work in. They should too.

Approaching 40 and Mexico, Las Vegas and Hawaii in the near future, I felt there was a need to step it up. Things don’t tighten as quickly as they used to. Let’s see, what have I been doing differently? Well, maybe not differently. More like reminding myself and sometimes we need that.

DIET

Oh man, yes, I did enjoy those delicious fries at Quattro at the Four Season Palo Alto this week but I also had their roasted chicken, have had salads and green tea. A Vitality Bowl is also delicious and customizable. I usually have my Shredz supplements but I haven’t been taking them. I also bought a set of Elemis supplements while on the Golden Princess cruise ship but I haven’t even begun. I need to continue to eat better and make healthy choices. Buying a new car will also help you from going out and spending money on drinks with friends and coworkers, so I guess that helps too.

WORKOUTS

Yes, I have signed up for another half marathon. So much for saying, “Nope, never doing that again. That hurt.” This time will be at Disneyland Paris on my 39th birthday in September. I am doing more cardio to keep control of those heart problems and attempt to burn more calories than I take in. I still love to hit those weights and you burn more calories at a resting heart rate when your body fat is low and are muscular.

I am also starting to pick up more Wag walks (Use code Bernadette9307 for a free walk) that the weather is better. I get paid to walk people’s dogs, get some steps in and there are studies that a dog in your life has health benefits. I sure to do miss my Bevo.


PRIORITIZE

I am trying to keep my usual schedule of going to the gym or for a run in the morning before work. It helps me get the day started. However, those days I have to be at work early, I have made it to the gym after work. It’s funny to check into the gym via Yelp and Foursquare in less than 12 hours. But it had to get done.

Foursquare

MAKE IT FUN

We already did our half marathon at Walt Disney World. Nelly and I will be doing another run in June at Mare Island. I hear there’s a beer waiting for you at the finish line. If that’s not motivation…

My first half marathon at Walt Disney World.

Fitness is better with friends. Though my running friends know that I don’t really talk when I have a running goal in mind, it is fun to train together some way. Whether it’s a hike, yoga or walking the streets of new cities.

Trail waking in Santa Cruz, California – March 2019

Hiking in New Zealand – March 2019

Wandering around Hobbiton, New Zealand – March 2019

Yoga at Wild Canyon Adventures with my Cugina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
November 2018

Thanks for reading! I hope this post encourages you to keep going with whatever fitness goals you may have. Fitness is a lifestyle and it will have its ups and downs. Just roll with it…on a foam roller. Kill two birds with one stone.

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OBB Weekly – 4/9/19

One quarter of the year has already passed and time is flying by. Spring break and prom is happening around this time, taxes are due and my almost 13-year-old nephew doesn’t want to hunt for eggs this year. It is a reminder that there is no time like the present. Carpe diem. Don’t let opportunities pass you by. Let’s talk about some ways to do just that.

TRAVEL

You have plans to go to Las Vegas and need someone that also loves your dog to stay over and house sit. Thankfully my Bevo was a lover and super easy to watch so I had a few folks I was able to call. I am now returning the favor. If you love dogs and can house sit for people, do it if you can. It is always nice to have people you can trust to take good care of your home and your fur baby. You will never know where it will take you.

Bevo went everywhere I could take him like 21st Amendment in San Leandro, CA.

I have house sat and dog/cat sat for friends in Brentwood, Palo Alto, Emeryville, Sonoma and Santa Cruz in California. I am completely open to traveling abroad! Hint. Hint. You can’t go wrong with wine country and a beach town, right?

Don’t own a dog but love dogs? I have been a Wag Walker. It’s an Uber like dog-walking service. You can set up the range of areas you can serve and you can also dog sit overnight. I have done a couple of those. Dog sitting for new puppies while the owners have to work is also easy money. This can at least build your list of experience with dogs. For me, I have a 5-star rating, 84 reviews and have Wag walked over 100 miles. (Use code Bernadette9307 to get $50 in Wag credits.) With this experience, I’m sure friends and colleagues will think of you when they need someone reliable to stay at their beach house when they are off to Hawaii for a long weekend.

CONCIERGE

In my experience as a Concierge, you need to take advantage of the opportunities tour operators, wineries and attractions offer to experience their products. They put on events, networking functions, tastings and offer free trials so you can speak on it from a personal level to your clients. Popular tours all around the world are walking food tours. I have done one in Charleston, Sourth Carolina with my nephew. Along the lines of that are cooking classes.

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit on the food tour. My second one on this short trip in Charleston, South Carolina.

From my dear friend’s Mexico City solo trip, Julia took a cooking class. I almost spontaneously booked my trip to go with her but couldn’t get the time off. I then booked a cooking class while in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in November 2018 because her experience was so amazing. I booked with Cookin’ Cabo (juanmoretacooking on Instagram). I was a solo attendee as Julia couldn’t make the trip after all with me. I couldn’t not go so I took advantage of the opportunity of making new friends and learning new dishes. Now, with this knowledge, I am hoping to bring you a special and unique experience. Stay tuned!

Cookin’ over open heat on a gas stove in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

EVENT PLANNING

The Knot released the 2019 wedding trends we wedding planners should be aware of. One we love is that there’s an increase in couples hiring wedding planners. Thank you! Another trend is that couples are breaking the traditional rules. Ninety percent of couples don’t care about having a bride and groom side. Less and less couples are holding their ceremonies in religious institutions. I like to tell my couple that there are no real rules to their wedding. It’s never happened before! Couples want to bring in their own personality to the event and make it fun. And they should! After all, when would they be able to host this type of event at this level together again? It’s now or never.

FOOD

There is a lot of exotic food in the world to try. There are also interesting ways to save lives by going meatless. I have been participating in #MeatlessMondays for almost a year. There was one day earlier this week that I accidentally ate a piece of beef jerky from my coworker’s desk after my stomach growling. I failed in that one day but continued the rest of the day meatless and continued it on the day after just to make up for the day. With my participation, it has opened my eyes to alternatives.

At Coconuts in Palo Alto, I have had the grilled tofu platter while the rest of my coworkers had the jerk chicken. At the SFO airport, I enjoyed a big bowl of the Avocado and Citrus Salad from Gott’s Roadside while my roommate had the fish tacos. On the Golden Princess, I opted for the futomaki rolls as a starter. The header photo above is a brunch dish from Tavern on the Green in New York City. There are always vegetarian options available. Simple cooking at home options could include pasta with sauce or butter and parmesan cheese, quesadillas with jalepenos, a cucumber salad or broiled strips of bell peppers with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. It’s very simple and less weight sitting in your stomach when you’ve eaten too much. Try Meatless Monday. It can be done!

Yes, we ordered wine with it as well to kick off our vacation.

MOTIVATION

Ever since the Hellyer 10K just over a week ago, I have been itching to book another run. There’s a cool run available on the peninsula at a private airport where you can do a race on the runway. I have never heard of that being done before. I have gotten dirty twice with Warrior Dash so I’m not interested in bathing with a garden hose. I have done a half marathon at Walt Disney World. I am thinking of doing a run at Disneyland Paris for my birthday and joining my roommate on the 60-mile Breast Cancer Walk in San Diego in November. But raising $1,600 was stressful. What would you do?

About to go for run along the beach outside the JW Marriott, Los Cabos.

My goal is to travel for my runs. I might register for the Napa Women’s Run in March 2020 and I already told Nelly, my running partner, that we’d do the Giants triple event starting during spring training in Arizona. I have been wanting to do a run in Hawaii. Even on early morning runs, it gets so warm! I usually want to jump in the ocean immediately after the run. I am clearly undecided on what I want to commit to this year but at least I want to continue running, ideally for a good cause.

Scheduled:
May 17, 2019
Foam Glow 5K – San Jose
September 2019
Teal Run once they announce the event – South Bay
October 12, 2019
Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Silicon Valley
January 11, 2020
RunDisney 10K – Walt Disney World

Taverna – Palo Alto, CA

You have 10 minutes.” A harmless threat to leaving the office and facing traffic of the Dumbarton Bridge to the East Bay if he wasn’t done ‘seeing what kind of trouble’ two other coworkers were getting themselves into. Before I could pack my Burberry, he finished in record time and we were off down the street to Taverna.

I have only seen this restaurant on my walks around town to get my daily steps in and those rare time I went to what my friend calls “Whole Paycheck”, aka Whole Foods. Ivan said Taverna was a bit higher priced but one of the top restaurants in Palo Alto. Wanting a unique glass of wine, I voted Greek. Having been to Greece a couple of times and a former write up on Orexi in San Francisco, I thought it’d be nice to change things up a bit. The owners are also associated with Kokkari in San Francisco, a popular restaurant I often tried to get my hotel guests a reservation. Book yours ahead of time.

Not terribly hungry, we were looking for something light to go with our red wine, a Xinomavro. The two items that caught my eye was the tzatziki and the octopus. They are common dishes and thankfully Ivan’s favorites as well. Sometimes, it’s easy with this guy. Both dishes were ordered. Two glasses were enjoyed, bread and butter arrived and friendly faces greeted my new boss who used to work for me. My, how the tables have turned.

A mound of firm yogurt and olive oil with grilled, seasoned pita bread appeared at our section of the bar top. It looks like a lot of dairy for four pieces of pita. I agreed to the extra slices of cucumber as a side to help finish it off. The side of bread also played a part.

Before the tzatziki was finished, the long grilled octopus tentacle appeared with a squash mash, capers, sausage, sauteed greens and a sort of chutney. I recalled the huge order of octopus I had placed in front of me while in Thira, Greece. It was the first time I couldn’t finish my octopus! This time, it was a perfect size to share between the two of us. It was perfectly cooked and the citrus flavor to the veggies added acidity to the dish.

The restaurant of maybe 40 seats was buzzing for a Thursday night. Apparently, it’s common and have successfully made it past their one year with expansion plans next door. People we were waiting just inside the door to be sat. Unfortunately, it was not quite warm enough that evening to sit outside lining the sidewalk. We came at just the right time. With that, we chatted with our bar neighbor, a local and friend of the owners. We shared laughs, the ‘what do you do?’ exchange and he convinced the restaurant to give us a taste of the wine he was having. It was a fruit bomb of a Cabernet Sauvignon. Quite a difference from our Xinomavro, which was easily drinkable. Perhaps it was a better pairing with his burger.

Not intending on having more to eat, I couldn’t turn down checking out the dessert menu. Before having a thorough look, Marlena highly recommended the bougatsa. Ivan described it was a baklava with custard. It was made with phyllo dough, custard, pistachios and ice cream. And it was warm. Not bad, but now I want a baklava.

It made me miss Greece and needing to go back to visit Mykonos. I love the white buildings, blue doors, the islands. Taverna also has a blue door and is a white building. The inside has clean walls, an darker blue-green accent wall, subtle Greek type on their white curtains, colorful but a bit muted and imperfectly shaped vases above the windows and very comfortable furniture. The staff is friendly, obviously appreciative of their best customers and the service was timely and well-organized. I’m sure we’ll be back.

Related articles:
Taverna brings warmth of Greek isles to downtown Palo Alto – SF Chronicle

Gabe & Maria – Thomas Fogarty Winery

The last wedding of the year for this Event Planner and Coordinator is complete. I am so happy for Gabe and Maria. This lovely couple tied the knot at the gorgeous Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside, California on December 1, 2018.

Gabe and Maria did a beautiful job of doing majority of the work of planning this memorable event. They were very organized and stress-free and made the wedding day one of the easiest I have ever worked. I reviewed their work, brought up tasks and ideas for them to think about, put some ideas together for their honeymoon and recommended periodic status meetings to help with anything they may need. Otherwise, they did a really fantastic job. I didn’t have a lot of pre-wedding work to do and my car wasn’t filled with wedding items to where I couldn’t see out of the windows. Yes, this happens.

The wedding rehearsal took place at 10 AM the day before the wedding on a windy and chilly morning. The initial thought of how the wedding party would perform the procession was rethought during this time as it didn’t flow as I liked and there was a chance of rain the next day. We moved the starting point to inside the reception area, timed where they would start, stop for a photo, start, where to stand, how to angle themselves, how to hold their flowers and of course smile. “Don’t be that Bridesmaid/Groomsmen.” We ran thru it twice, made modifications as necessary and timed it just right. I figured out where I was going to stand, how I was going to queue the parties involved and more. We nailed it.

I relaxed the rest of the day as I knew it was going to be 12-hour day on my feet the next day. However, I was sure to pack my bag of usual goodies and items in case of an emergency – scissors, tape, markers/Sharpies, pen, lighters, lady toiletries, etc. I was out of my mini first aid kit and a mini sewing kit I had thanks to the JW Marriott in Los Cabos. Funny how that I needed both of these things on Wedding Day and came up short. I know better than that! I need to be better prepared. One thing the Bride and Groom did need were easels for their signage. I had three wooden ones and I laid down the backseat seats and loaded them in. 
As it was a rainy day and about an hour drive to the venue, I took off a little early just in case. I had time to spare so I took some time to review my timeline and other documents. Then it was showtime.

The photographers, McElvy Photography, beat me to the venue and Mike McElvy was up on a ladder adding lights to make sure the ceremony photos came out with the brighter background. I was super impressed with this husband and wife photography couple. Jack, I mean Mike, (inside joke) and Jill even came to the wedding rehearsal. They were so easy and a pleasure to work with. I hope to work with them again.

Kaitlin of Thomas Fogarty Winery introduced herself and looked incredibly relaxed. I was about to find out that it was because of their list of preferred vendors. She knew that the selected group for the day knew exactly what they had to do and knew the venue inside and out. Kaitlin was available for any of my questions and answered via text and/or came to find me with assistance. In the evening, Sherie took over and she also had the same demeanor. Over a break, (yes, I got not just one, but several!), she, Tony, the DJ and I had some time to chat. Some laughs were made but there was another reason why this venue was so great. Amazing people!
Toast Catering was also there unloading and prepping. I met their lady in charge, Mam (unsure of the spelling), and she was all over it. The schedule was taped to the fridge and things were being moved and progress was being made. I was introduced to Laura and Walter. They answered all of my questions, fulfilled my request for moving workers to the reception area to put down tables per the florist’s request and moving the heaters into place. I then later saw them running the show during the reception and killin’ it, plus making sure my Bride and Groom’s sweetheart table was perfect, they had their entrees along with their salads as requested and more. They were awesome. I even got to sit down at a table and enjoy the meal. The filet mignon and sauce was fantastic! The to go plate I enjoyed the next day of their salmon, massive stuffed chicken, veggies and rice was filling and flavorful, even as leftovers. That means something! I was super impressed by the quality, reliability and professionalism of the service staff. We had one boo boo where a tray of glasses hit the floor but thankfully nobody got hurt. Toast was also in charge of rentals. One
less additional vendor to worry about!

Tony V. with Elite Entertainment was great. He knew exactly what to do, hooked up the Officiant, also named Tony, with a mic for the ceremony even though he wasn’t aware of the need. He had a great personality and did great on the mic. He even spoke Spanish and kept the party going. He had Spanish versions of songs I didn’t know was around! I now know and want them as part of my music library. Por supuesto!
The Officiant Tony was also on top of it. He has experience and was a friend of Maria and Gabe’s. It was Uncle Tony to be exact. He was good, voice great ideas and took the lead well during the ceremony. May I also add, he was stylish in his deep purple suit.

The florist was made up of family members and were friends of the family. The arch was constructed and flowers were attached. The bouquets and bouttainaires were pretty.

TIP: If you want to save money on flowers. Fake ones are OK. Especially when they’ll only be seen for 20 minutes.

Corinthian Ground Transportation shuttled guests from the Courtyard Marriott Palo Alto to the venue. For an almost 200-person wedding, there wouldn’t be enough parking for each guest. Two trips were made and they were on time, reliable and friendly. 

The three layer cake was delivered and set in place. Only one layer was an actual cake.

TIP: The Bride and Groom were smart and saved money by ordering two sheet cakes to serve to guests. 

Walter of Toast called it a “cake weave.” I’m sure the couple’s pocketbook was A-OK with saving some money.

I love my job, my business. It is experiences like this and working with great vendors that make my job so easy. It was a pleasure to be a part of this special day.

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart, you totally rocked. Everything was flawless thanks to you. It was a long day and yet you always had a smile on your face. Everyone loved everything and they were very impressed with how it all turned out” – Maria, the Bride.
Just want to say Thank you for everything!!! Idk what we would’ve done without you!! Sorry for the late text. But you’re the bomb!!!” – Gabe, the Groom.
Maria also says “I’ve never seen you in the zone like that before. You rocked it! Thank you!” I met Maria and most of those in the below photo maybe ten years ago through our love of music, specifically for the band Los Lonely Boys. Now she’s married! And the band Liked my Tweet to them that it was them that brought us together. I am thankful for their trust in handling their special day, but mostly for their friendship.

So happy for you, Maria and Gabe!

Wait, I’m not putting on the Bride’s shoes or bustling her dress? That’s what that silly face is for.

Money dance! Paying to dance with both of them. 
Had to do an example for the guests. Happy to be the first one to sign.

Are we in Hawai’i?

The Mexican Riviera via Holland America Line – Day 2

RING!

RING!
After a much needed rest, I was awoken with two short but repetative rings on a phone that definitely wasn’t mine. Finding it in the perfectly dark stateroom, I answered it and found a friendly person asking about our pre-ordered breakfast. We ordered scrambled eggs and cottage cheese and fruit and cranberry juice. However, I forgot to mark at what time we wanted it to arrive. Providing the answer, I went back to bed. Easily.
With Catherine still asleep and breakfast scheduled to arrive later that morning, I got dressed in the dark for the gym. I learned from my last cruise in Europe in 2012 that I need to do something about weight gain while on a ship. The first cruise on Celebrity was for two weeks and I went to the gym twice and ate anything and everything because I was on vacation, and it was a tough year. (I Am Single.) This go around, I was hoping I didn’t add too much to my already roundness.
On my way to the gym on the 9th floor is the Lido Market where you’re tempted with the variety of breakfast items. I opted in for fat free milk, charcuterie and cheese and their frittata with jalepenos: some protein to start the day and watch the sunrise. I didn’t bring my Shredzpre-workout or BCAA supplements or have anything for post workout. I should have. We had a full day at sea so I got in an hour of cardio in. Sadly, my new iPhone X didn’t download all of the songs I have and I had very few songs to get me going during this cardio. It felt the AC wasn’t very strong in a place where it should be blowing pretty darn hard. That is one thing I’d like to request my cruise ship to have: awesome AC power in the gym. The gym had a view looking out from the bow and the rising sun. There was not enough cardio machines for the guests also wanting to get a workout in and all of the machines were pretty close together.

Back in our stateroom, Catherine wasn’t ready to start her day so I got cleaned up, had some breakfast that arrived and checked out the tour of the kitchen. Being a Co-Owner of a restaurant in San Francisco and have been in the food and beverage industry for almost 20 years, I was interested in seeing this massive kitchen. We met in the main dining room and were escorted thru the different parts of the kitchen. Unfortunately, not everyone could hear what the guide was saying. I got up close so I could hear what I can. The kitchen was impeccably clean, as it should be. Product was produced in massive quantities – chopped mushrooms, desserts and bread. I was interested in seeing the menu posted, how each station had a document posted that displayed the picture of what it should look like, the ingredients, nutritional facts and more. There were a few boards that outlined the menus for the week and the map of the entire dining rooms were large and overwhelming. Though working for the banquets department of the Hyatt in Burlingame, California, I wanted to learn more. 

Luckily, The Executive Chef came to speak with us and he spoke on how everyone had their own responsibilities, had shifts and that the Pastry Chef stayed in the compartment that was directly above his head. He also mentioned that the two restaurants that are extra have their own designated kitchens. They have different menus and therefore have a different process. He was friendly, informative and appreciative of our business. I think it’s great that so many guests came these tours. For people that have never worked in the food and beverage industry, they don’t understand what goes into serving people, especially when they hungry. Remember those Snickers commercials?
At the end of the tour, we were given a delicious mushroom crostini and what I believe was a crusted quail egg and cucumber in a soup spoon. We exited though The Pinnacle Grill restaurant. It was a rather small and dim space. I do not believe I will be dining there this trip but I am sure it was amazing.

I went back to the room to see what Catherine was up to and we decided to just hang out on the deck in the sun and that’s what we did! After touring a bit more of the ship, we sat by the pool, I wrote yesterday’s post, she read the paper and used her Kindle with virgin Bloody Marys and Diet Cokes at our side. I eventually moved back to champagne and tried their Strawberries and Bubbles cocktail (vodka, strawberries and sparkling wine.) I went back to champagne after that. I’ll stick to what I like. Funny, on the last cruise, all I drank were peach bellinis. I really do like bubbles. Poolside, bubbles were made by kids chasing each other and even a girl wearing a mermaid tail. Tears were made by one little girl. Oh, where are your parents?

After the blog post was drafted and there was space in the hot tub, we quickly gathered our belongings and jumped in. There we eventually met Eduardo and Raquel from Iguana, Mexico. He was a lawyer turned entertainment business owner. Raquel was a school principal. She didn’t speak any English but Eduardo did and we had some fun conversations. He was pretty funny. We also saw Cornelius again and met his friend Arie. Good people.
We then got ready for the Gala evening. All in black and Stella & Dot jewelry, we went to go tour some parts of the ship we haven’t seen yet. I saw some meeting space and we stopped at the Ocean Bar and had another drink. Catherine tried the grapefruit martini and I stuck with what I like. Then we went to dinner and was placed at a table for two on the third floor which is typically scheduled seating, not open seating. We had a special menu with four courses, not three. A corn amuse bouche went down the hatch and I had the escargot with herb garlic butter, Burgundy wine and French bread. The second course was an artichoke and heritage carrot soup with arugula pesto sauce and crème fraiche.  The maple-lacquered duck breast with a corn-cranberry pudding, candied figs, braised Swiss chard and haricots verts was special. And for a simple but delicious dessert, I had the balsamic strawberries with a white chocolate mousse. Everything was delicious again. I ate everything!

Dressed and rested from the long day before, we saw the Billboard Hits show of three singers singing Billoard’s number one hits where Catherine and I got pulled up to dance with them on the floor on the last song. Thanks to the blondie for singing to me often during the show. I love when that happens. Afterwards, we hit up the B.B. King Lounge, listened to the band, had drinks at the Queens Bar, made new friends from Missouri, Utah and Arizona. We had a lot of laughs, met some great people and a lot of beverages. We watched two pianists play simultaneously, danced a bit at the 30-minute club playing OK music and then went back to join our friends at another bar. We were shutting down the ship and it was getting late. Things were SILLY. We eventually said goodnight and went back to our room. Unfortunately there was no food available at that hour and we ordered room service. Within 20 minutes, a quesadilla, Caesar salad and club sandwich and chips appeared. Devoured, we went to be sleep. We will be hitting our first port in the morning: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

An Evening in Palo Alto, California

In the Silicon Valley of California, come down to Palo Alto, the home of Stanford University. Friends who want to switch it up on the weekend from going to ‘the city’ aka San Francisco or staying local such as the country bar called The Saddlerack or the fun downtown Livermore, downtown Palo Alto is a nice option. It has shopping, restaurants and is mainly safe.

Shop the high-end stores at the outdoor mall or by walking down University Avenue. Feel all the ‘like butter’ things at Restoration Hardware. Don’t mind the show-like ready dogs accompanying their owners placing custom orders of leather couches and matching plush robes. Not going to lie, that $3,500 headboard was on sale and a bit tempting. The other store I was ventured in was Letter Perfect, a stationary store with cute cards, notebooks, books, paper gifts and an area for custom invites. I checked in alerting my followers they do wedding invitations.

I had plans to have dinner with my lawyer-friend, Ivan, after a brief appearance at a gathering for Stella & Dot. I didn’t want to eat anything heavy. I almost went to the French bakery and purchased a coffee as I have just come from Paris, France. I also almost grabbed at beer at The Taproom. I love cute A-frame signs like the one below. However, in an attempt to not overspend, I found a spot that was offering happy hour. There were many options however I decided to stop into Local Union 271. When dining alone, I prefer to sit at the bar, unless I will have my laptop with me and I need more room, I would then grab a table.

I was greeted by Katie, the Bartender, with a beautiful smile and she asks, ‘Your name starts with S, right?‘ Apparently, I look familiar. I have been getting that quite a bit lately. There’s an imposter out there! Don’t be fooled! She apologized but there was no need. She highlighted the happy hour offerings including where to find particular items on the menu. Sticking to my ‘budget’ for this dining experience, I went with the $7 sangria and two chicken tacos, stacked high with cabbage, jalapenos and sides of guacamole and salsa for also $7.

The bar had decor on its shelves, spaced out placement of liquor bottles, a wine dispensing section and I overheard that they replaced Bud Light with Coors Light. No big deal to me! I don’t drink that stuff. They also had two large televisions playing the basketball game and the US soccer game. On our last day in Santorini recently, Papichulo was explaining soccer to me. I have never watched an entire game and I was completely ignorant. I sent him a Snap (‘bappletree’) asking him if he was proud because I was watching soccer. Apparently, he was also watching the same game in his hotel room in Tampa, Florida. I asked my several questions and the game had my complete attention. I did not need my phone to keep me entertained. Papichulo explained the current rankings and what would need to happen for the US to make it to the World Cup. My face and complete devotion to this game must have communicated that I knew more than what I actually did about this sport because a gentleman left his table and asked me how the US was doing. I relayed Papichulo’s knowledge to him and I think it made me appear pretty smart. I think I also impressed the doctor that was sitting next to me too because we started talking about sports. In summary, thanks for the televisions and entertainment, Local Union 271.

I had to head over to my next meeting at Gravity Bistro & Wine Bar around the corner to meet with my Stella & Dot upline and I wanted to check out the new holiday collection. Sandy had a long high table on the second floor and the new collection was absolutely gorgeous. I’m glad I waited until that event before placing another order to add to my collection. I loved the Constantine Feather Necklace ($149) the best. Of course I do! I naturally have expensive tastes. ‘Fancy’ is what Papichulo calls me. It’s accurate. Other items include pieces from Designer Rebecca Minkoff and they now have a beanie with detachable poufs and inside it says ‘Hello Gorgeous.’

 

 
 
 
I do have to mention that every time I see Sandy, she does a little gasp. I have been a Stylist for six years and am One Busy Bee, as my readers know. To show up at one of these events and being able to put some energy into this business, I think she’s always shocked when I do and definitely when I do well. She has been a wonderful mentor, trainer and motivator and someone I call whenever I need inspiration, assistance and guidance. I am thankful for that. I also love the Stella & Dot business. It’s fun, flexible and I get to work in fashion and get compliments. I like words of affirmation.

We got into discussions about the business, the pieces, what the trends are but I had to go. She sweetly but firmly asked me “Where are you going?!?” I had to meet with Ivan, a former Law Clerk of mine turned Lawyer and Entrepreneur needing help with his start-up. We were going to catch up and talk business. She understood and said goodbye after a selfie.

 

I walked over to Zola and waited for Ivan to arrive. Guests were seated
at the couple of tables outside and the tall, smart blonde walked in and gave me a hug. He was greeted by the staff and I realized he was ‘that’ guy, the regular restaurants love to have. He even brought over a bottle of wine for them to decanter before dinner so it was ready to drink. This is a guy that has Tiffany martini glasses! The man is smart, classy and damn, did he used to irritate me. He was that UC Berkeley kid that just wanted to argue with me as the Office Manager and then send me borderline sexual harassment email responses to new guidelines and procedures. It’s great to now call him a friend. I was honored to have sworn him in as a lawyer. As a bonus, I am honored to have shared this special bottle of Bordeaux wine with him. I was EIGHT during this vintage. Holy!

 

As Zola was his regular spot, I told Ivan I wasn’t that hungry and allowed him to order dinner. It really is nice when a man can do that. He ordered the delicious ricotta gnocchi with brown butter and summer truffles, an endive and pear salad, the flounder and pork chop. This was a dinner I did not break out my camera and take photos of EXCEPT that bottle of wine. If I have another opportunity, photos will be taken, I promise! The salad was light and for this salad lover, gone in 60 seconds. The flounder was also light with capers and a burre blanc sauce, a classic French sauce of butter, wine and cream and the pork chop was absolutely delicious. I was so full but I continued to eat. I think I could have rolled to my car if I was allowed to.

It was a great night in Palo Alto with old friends and making new ones, and exploring what this city has to offer.

Cheers!

Three – San Mateo, California

When you haven’t seen your close cousin and nephew in sometime, you schedule a brunch. Browsing OpenTable, I found Three. A restaurant with good reviews in Downtown San Mateo. I picked up the boys on the other side of Highway 101 and went down Third Street until I found street parking near the restaurant. No need to look for a Pay By Phone sign for parking. The meters do not need to be fed.
Walk in the main door and you immediately see the bar and a podium to check in for our reservation. The first dining room had natural light coming in from our right, there were chalkboard drawings on the walls, banquet seating and individual tables. We room where we were sat was an area between that room and another room near the kitchen near a server station and the door to go downstairs for the bathroom. In the room we could see from our table, there was a nice long table of about 20 filled with guests. I could only assume more of the kitchen was to the left and just beyond that long table.
We started out at the bar with a Guava Mimosa for my cousin and a very sweet sparkling cocktail for me.
Cocktail plus the Taj Clutch by Stella & Dot
We were sat at a large table for four, though there was three of us dining that Sunday afternoon at Three. I honestly picked this place to get my 100 dining points to use another time and for their unique brunch selections. We should all have had the chicken and waffles but here, they made it into a sandwich. Add an egg if you wish! We did! We all ordered the same thing. The boys have never dined here but they have used the likes of Doordash to get the same sandwich delivered. My cousin was excited to have it fresh.
We started with crispy pork belly which was sinfullydelicious. The belly was stuck to the plate a bit but it was a fight we were invested in to win. We also had the mushroom rolls which was basically diced mushroom fried in thin wrappers.

My cousin Yelps, my nephew Snapchats and I do both plus blog! Here we are doing what we do. It clearly runs in the family. You’re welcome, Three, for the social media exposure.
I could not complete the sandwich and took off the soggy waffles and just ate the eggs and chicken. I prefer my waffles a bit crispy, my eggs over medium which came out over easy but the chicken was flavorful and a healthy portion. It all felt really heavy and I added a parfait with fresh fruit. The bowl was HUGE with a ton of granola on top. I think it helped balance out my good and bad intake for this meal.

Friendly service all around. I’d like to come back for their dinner.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.

Three times here and always a good time. The first time was having a birthday luncheon out on the patio with Bevo after a long walk on the beach. The second time was after hiking Purisima Trail with friends. And this last time was with my sister for her birthday weekend. 

What should we get? 
#ALLTHEBEER
My friend John of Mujicians Brewing Company always gets all the beer at a brewery to try them all! Why choose just three? Why choose beers you think you’ll like? Tasting beer is just as fun as wine tasting. With so many breweries popping up, I assure you, they’re not all Bud Lights (thank God). Some won’t taste like you think they would. I enjoy being shocked with a unique scent and an unexpected flavor or color. I am no expert on the topic but I can tell you you’ll have fun if you get ‘All The Beer!’

I told Nelson that this should be addition to his food truck.

My sister, Melyssa, has never experienced this and we received a tray of all the local beers on tap. The Filipino in her thought we had to finish them all. Nope, just finish what you like. We took beer menu, wrote down what we thought we tasted and put in order which were our favorites.

The results:
Our favorite – HMB’s Apricot & Passion Fruit Belgian Blonde. 5.5% ABV. 20 IBU.
Melyssa’s #2 – HMB’s Kolsch. 5.1% ABV. 21 IBU.
My #2 – HMB’s Calf-eine Coffee Milk Stout. 7% ABV. 23 IBU.
Melyssa’s #3 – HMB’s Calf-eine Coffee Milk Stout. 7% ABV. 23 IBU.
My #3 – HMB’s Daily Ritual Coffee Blonde. 5% ABV. 16 IBUs. Because it was soooo weird!

Other notes were that the Honey Ale was like nothing. It was the Bud Light on the tray. The Honk If You’re Heffy from El Granada, CA was 5.4% ABV and a Bavarian wheat beer. It smelled of rotting oranges and the finish was not pleasing. Sorry, Honky beer on the tray.
My sister ended up going with a pint of our favorite, the fruity Belgian Blonde. Sadly, she couldn’t finish it and I did. It’s good!
Frank, our Server, was awesome and attentive. He also delivered a pretzel with melted cheese, two crab sandwiches and  my Jameson just like I like it.

After the flight of beer, I wanted a picture in my Kauai Island Brewing Company sweatshirt near their sign. Clearly, the beer and whiskey has kicked in. 

Take 2

 

Cheers! And remember, order ALL THE BEER!

Mother’s Day 2017

Being a mother is just not in the cards for me and I have recently come to grips with that. As a product of divorce and my lovely dating track record, I do not wish having an innocent go thru what I went thru if I have anything to do with it.  I’m OK with being a puppy momma to Bevo and an aunt to my several nieces and nephews.

Yesterday, I met up with our former Pastry Chef, Michelle, at her baby’s first birthday party in San Bruno. It was a windy day and I had to stand in the sun. It was nice to catch up and know that she’ll be A-OK after DW. Gabe is her first baby. He’s a cutie and is smiling a lot more.

Then I spent time with my best friend and my niece and nephew. I treated her to a quick beauty session at the mall and a ‘fancy’ dinner at The Habit. We sang Moana songs in the car and had some Snapchat fun. Christy works so hard, is a good mom and does basically everything for the kids. I tried to do what I can to make sure she knows she’s loved on Mother’s Day, even though we did it one day before.

Spontaneously, I ended up a the Grand Opening of Dirty Bird in Hayward thanks to a text received by my Cousin Leslie. She was there because our friend Peter knows one of the samba dancers they were having. I had no idea the Dirty Bird was there. I always saw when I drove down Mission but never went. It’s a pretty cool spot. I’ll have to try their food some time. They had a fried chicken sandwich and empanadas. I was super full from The Habit so I just stuck with water.

My Cousin Leslie has three children with the youngest being 8 months old. I haven’t met Logan yet. But soon! She’s going to school, working full time and definitely has her hands full.

Today, on actual Mother’s Day,  I took my Lola to church and then went to A’trio at the Marriott in Walnut Creek. The experience was pretty terrible with the busser setting the table throwing a spoon in front of Lola and roughly putting down semi-clean coffee mugs top-side down on the table. Servers were yelling across the dining room floor at each other. Our Server, Mimi, was nice but I had a 12:30 PM reservation and they pulled the buffet at that time. Thank goodness we arrived early to get some food. We were offered the lunch menu but no offer to have whatever we wanted at a discount or comped price. Why would they offer a 12:30 PM reservation on Opentable if the food wasn’t going to be offered. They also charged a 20% service charge for three people. I can’t say I’ll ever take important women like my Lola and my sister there ever again. The topping on the cake was that I asked for a special events packet from the front desk. They told me they didn’t have any and that I should come back tomorrow. As an Event Planner and part owner of a Restaurant, how hard is it to have this information readily available? It’s kind of mind blowing how awful that experience was at a popular, international hotel chain.

Nonetheless, I was there to spend time with my family. My sister will be moving to North Carolina soon so holidays like this will be few and far between.

Wearing the Odeon Pendant Necklace ($128) by Stella & Dot

These are Wonder Women in my eyes. They are all different, have different responsibilities and challenges but they have chosen to take their role as a mother, own it and do what they can for their children. Cheers to you!