Sunset in Newport Beach

Aaron and I grabbed our Canons to Newport Beach for a sunset photography session. We missed the sunset because we were circling around the parking lot for a good 30 minutes. It was such a beautiful day that all one million Orange County residents decided to go to the beach and enjoy the weather at the same time. I can’t blame them for that because we were basically there for the same reason.

Miraculously, we found parking and decided to challenge ourselves to take pictures with little lighting except from the rays beaming on the water.

Going to the beach always reminds me to be thankful for where I live. Sometimes we easily take the perfect weather in sunny SoCal for granted. We actually met a couple at the beach who were visiting from Chicago. Aaron and I were both thinking to ourselves, “Why would you visit Newport Beach? Why Orange County?” We realized it’s because the weather here can’t beat anything or anywhere else! We’re so blessed.

Thanks Aaron for challenging me to take pictures in a new setting instead of taking pictures of food! And thanks for listening to Taylor Swift in the car ride. Note to us: Go to beach a lot earlier because of parking.

Christmas Festivities 2014

Woah, Christmas flew by so quickly! That tends to happen every Christmas, right? When December comes around, I try to maximize it as best as I can. Here are some Christmas Festivities highlights that took place this month!

6th Annual Gingerbread Party hosted by my sister for her kids’ and their friends.

First Christmas Lighting Adventure for 2014. I go here almost every year since 2006 and I’m always amazed by all the miniature figurines put together in the garage! Here’s an old post about this place.

Location: 2351 Caper Tree Drive, Tustin, CA.

We also went over to another neighborhood in Tustin on Olwyn Drive & Red Hill for more Christmas lights!


Cara & Nathan’s Pre-School Christmas Performance. In the picture below, my nephew, Ben, told me that it wasn’t Santa but some guy in a costume. I, Auntie Tina, was appalled by his observation because Santa is real! Right?

These girls took my phone and decided to take a selfie!

Evan as an angel in The Nutcracker. She’s following my footsteps of being a dancer for now!

Happy Birthday, Briana! I made that wrapping paper with sponges and stamp pads at Unique LA.

More Christmas lights at Nellie Gail. This neighborhood is probably one of the best communities in south Orange County to check out Christmas lights! Read here about the first time I discovered this neighborhood.

Ben’s Christmas Show & KBBQ at Aria Restaurant with the family.

My brother took this picture of me playing with my nieces. I didn’t realize he took it because I was so focused on playing hand games with them like Lemonade and Crunchy Ice on repeat.

Vegas on Christmas Eve & Day

My family and I were in Vegas for less than 24 hours. Majority of the time, we were eating. We got the Buffet of Buffets pass for $70 that allowed us to eat at a range of buffets within 24 hours. We ate a lot and walked around a lot.

Then once we got home, I was able to catch the sunset in Laguna Beach to end my Christmas day.

I hope your Christmas was spent with friends and family you love and that you were reminded of and thankful for the birth of Jesus!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Woah. I. Am. 25. Years. Old. Can you believe it? I never thought this day would come. I remember turning 18 and thought that would never happen. Same with turning 21. Turning 18 and 21 are pretty significant turning points in life. Some may think turning 25 isn’t anything too special but rather depressing. I remember reading someone’s Facebook status that said, “I turned 25. What am I supposed to do? Rent a car?” Somehow that status stuck with me until I turned 25 recently. I knew that I was going to rent a car once I turned 25. Not just any car but a convertible Mustang GT for the day!

I don’t know what it is about that Mustang but it’s just a fun car to look at and drive especially with the top down in SoCal! So on my birthday, I didn’t even sleep in. I actually lost some sleep the night before because I was FaceTiming with Briana for almost an hour and a half! She was the first one to wish me a happy birthday! Thanks girl!

The picture above looks like we were having a virtual sleepover! Sorry the picture is so big but I just don’t want you to forget how she looks like since she’s one of my close friends!

I wanted to take advantage of driving my Mustang all day so I picked it up at 8 AM. On my birthday, I like to treat my mom out. I started doing this since college when a friend suggested that I buy flowers for my mom on my birthday. It’s nice to always give back to someone who always gives like my mom.

In the morning, I took my mom to a hipster coffee shop hidden in Dana Point called JC Beans Coffee HouseYelp gives this coffee shop 4.5 stars with 191 reviews. What’s so popular about this place is how cozy and friendly it is with the service and ambiance. There can be a long wait in the drive thru lanee but I say it’s best to sit down inside and sip your coffee!

JC Beans Coffee House is small but I love the layout of it. There are books on the shelves that you can check out but also purchase!

You can also sit outside which my mom and I did as we were sipping on our drinks. I was working on my blog as she was browsing the web on her iPad. She got a cup of coffee and I got a Vanilla Chai Latte. We both shared a pastry and with those 3 items together, the total was around $10-$12. It’s a little more on the pricey end but worth the ambiance and the taste.

My mom was pretty impressed how I took a picture of my drink and the pastry. Looks hip, right?

After an hour or so, we decided to get back on the road and make use of my Mustang. We drove down on PCH with the top down and made a stop at Laguna Beach. We took some pictures and walked around. I really don’t know where we were exactly in Laguna Beach but we found a good spot to hang out!

It was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was a breeze from the waves, and it was my birthday! Perfect day.

The view was so breathtaking that I really felt like I could just sit there and enjoy the beach as a living.

My mom took a candid picture of me that I thought looked pretty nice! Go mom!

By afternoon, my mom and I grabbed lunch with my sister at Panini Cafe in Corona Del Mar, right on PCH. Panini Cafe is a Greek, Italian, and Mediterranean kind of a restaurant.  They are located in eight different cities within Orange County and LA County. So you can’t miss one! The one we went to currently has 4 out of 5 stars with 289 reviews on Yelp.

We first ordered the Hummus Trio as an appetizer for $8.95. This large plate of hummus had the traditional garbanzo, black bean, and edmame hummus. The pita bread and the three different kinds of hummus easily filled us up!

After all that hummus, I got myself a healthy Mediterranean Greek Salad that was mixed with onions, Roma Tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese in balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

This beautiful green mountain made me feel clean! Actually, there may have been a tad bit too much dressing but overall, I enjoyed the various fresh vegetables mixed together for $8.95.

Beware that if you go to Panini Cafe on PCH in the afternoon, get there a little early because parking might be a little tough to find and it can get packed in the restaurant. Due to the busyness of the restaurant, there was a lack of quality customer service. I wasn’t too upset about it because I didn’t want to let that ruin my birthday lunch! Luckily, there was dinner to make up for it.

We headed back home in my Mustang, of course. I relaxed for a little bit at home and started to get ready for dinner at Laguna Beach with some friends! I curled my hair, did my make up, and slipped on my pink floral dress from Zara. The best part about this dress was that I bought it for only $10! I’m pretty sure it was originally priced at least $80 or so. Pretty good stinkin’ deal, right? It was my first time ever wearing it since I bought a little more than a year ago and I just had to save it for a perfect occasion like this!

So Cindy and Elaine came over to carpool to K’ya Bistro that is located on PCH.

Huge thanks to them for letting me put the top down and have their hair-do get a little messy. I say it was worth the mess!

I decided to have dinner at K’ya Bistro because it was on PCH. Again, I just had to take advantage of my Mustang by driving up and down PCH since it’s a perfect road to have the top down. I also just wanted to have dinner somewhere new and different. So I found this restaurant just from Yelping around and read great reviews about it. Yelp shows a solid 4 out of 5 stars with almost 700 reviews!

Right when you enter the restaurant, there’s a bar where you can order some drinks while waiting to be seated.

They’re known for their tapas of American and Mediterranean food. We all shared a little bit of everything. We started out with some Truffle-Parmesian Fries and Spiced Sweet Potato Fries at $5.50 each. They were pretty addicting to eat, so be careful!

I ordered one of their popular items, Lobster Mac and Cheese. They really knew how to stuff that Mac and Cheese with lobster! It was everything that I imagined it to be like. The Mac and Cheese had the perfect homemade texture and cheesiness to it. The lobster was melted smoothly with the whole Mac and Cheese.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of what I ate there because I was too distracted talking to my friends at dinner. I definitely have to come back here again and get that Lobster Mac and Cheese and take a picture of it! As for now, enjoy the pictures of my beautiful friends!

Whatever item you get on the menu, I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it a lot as my friends did. We all liked we got whether it was the salad, fries, empanadas, or any other tapas.

Thank you everyone for celebrating my 25th birthday with me! I’m excited to see what this new age has in stored!

Eat Chow & Sprinkles Ice Cream

Christian was in town for the summer so as usual for our hang out, we had to have a food adventure! We went to Eat Chow in Newport Beach for dinner. FYI. Parking is kind of a bust. You have to park in the neighborhood. Eat Chow is a small, hip, homie kind of a restaurant with great customer service.
Eat Chow

As we were waiting to get seated, other customers were waiting next to us and apparently they go to Eat Chow several times a month because it’s that good. They suggested that we try everything because you can’t go wrong with anything. And you know what? They were right! Everything at Eat Chow was honestly really good!

We started out with the Truffle Parmesan Fries. They were addicting!
Truffle Parmesan Fries

Then we split the Truffle Mac “N” Cheese that had pieces of bacon.
Truffle Mac N Cheese

And! We split the The Chow burger with a side salad. Visually, it didn’t seem like enough food since we were splitting everything but we ended up being stuffed! Everything was honestly good and I wouldn’t mind getting the same exact thing the next time I come here.
The Chow Burger

The total for the fries, Mac N Cheese, and the burger came out to be $25. So for all that good food to split in half, $25 isn’t too bad.

For dessert, we headed over to Sprinkles for some ice cream. I actually got some cupcakes to take home. Then rushed over to the ice cream line before the line got super long. We probably stood in line for about 30 minutes for ice cream. I got a waffle cone with vanilla ice cream and red velvet cupcake crumbs for $3.75.
Sprinkles Ice Cream

I think the ice cream was a little overrated. Nothing too special about it. I probably could have made it myself by getting some Dreyer’s vanilla ice cream and red velvet cupcake all from the grocery store. Done! Sprinkles Ice Cream, you were a little too expensive and not too exciting as I wanted you to be. Sorry, there probably won’t be a next time with you.

Thanks Christian for a full on carbs and sugar filled night!

Happy Birthday Dasom!

After a long research of trying to find a place to take Dasom for her birthday, I found Regatta Cafe in Newport Beach. I was focused on finding a place in Newport Beach because the city itself has a comforting feeling to it where there’s always something to do. I mean, come on. You’re by the beach! Beach = fun. We weren’t going to go tan or swim before or after dinner but there’s place to walk around by the beach.

So Regatta Cafe is a little hidden restaurant that has great food and entertainment. When we got there, the restaurant was pretty empty. I don’t think a lot of people know about this restaurant most likely because of it’s poor location. It’s one block away from Mama D’s which by the way is a great place to check out when you get the chance. The restaurant had a European theme to it as it is a Italian restaurant but the antique chairs brought out the theme even more of the European style.

Once we got seated, we were served complimentary bread and salad with a light rasberry dressing afterwards.
Dasoms and food.

For dinner, Dasom ordered angel hair pasta with olive oil and shrimp. Simple ingredients involved yet so flavorful.
Angel hair pasta with shrimp.

I got the Fettucine Michelangelo which is a popular one. The pasta wasn’t too creamy or heavy. It had just the right amount of sauce. The quality overall and the portion of the pasta was perfect and I wouldn’t mind getting it again.
Fettucine Michelangelo

As we were eating, there was a man who just started singing out of nowhere. There was background music as he was singing opera style. He definitely had a beautiful deep and bold voice. I wish he was singing throughout the whole night but he ended up singing a song or two. There was a grand piano in the restaurant but I think they play the piano when the restaurant is more packed. Hopefully the next time I go, they’ll play the piano.
Singing Man.

For dessert, we got a peach cobbler a la mode style. Since it was fresh from the oven, oh man. It was so good. I probably could have eaten the whole thing by myself but I didn’t. I had to share it with the birthday girl!
Peach Cobbler

I hope this restaurant gets popular sooner than later because it’s definitely a great place to check out if you want good quality Italian food and entertainment at the same time. The price is reasonable for the most part. A plate can range from $12-$16. It’s a tad bit pricey by a buck or two but I definitely recommend their food. I don’t think anything on their menu will disappoint you.

After dinner, we drove around Newport Beach and ended up parking near the pier. It was too cold to go outside so we talked in the car like we always do. Late night car talks are the best. We caught up with each other and laughed like always!

Dasom, I can’t wait to see what comes in this new year for you! I am so blessed and thankful to be friends with! Hope you had a fun and happy birthday!

La Jolla Adventure

Amy, Chelsea and I finally reunited after a long distant friendship. Literally! Amy and I went to visit Chelsea down in La Jolla. We first went wedding dress shopping for Amy since she just got engaged a few months ago! We went to Here Comes the Bride which is where Chelsea bought her wedding dress. I can’t talk much about what she tried on because you’ll just have to wait for her wedding. The boutique had all the dresses organized by price range. There was great customer service and of course, beautiful dresses. Check it out if you’re looking for a dress. Wedding dress to be specific.
Here Comes the Bride

After Here Comes the Bride, we grabbed lunch at a well known restaurant that’s been on Food TV Network before called Studio Diner. It’s open 24/7!
Studio Diner

I got the monte cristo since I haven’t had that in so long. Ok, 3 years to be exact. It was so worth the fried and greasy sandwich mess with the raspberry spread! So good. I recommend it to everyone!
Monte Cristo

Amy got a club sandwich and Chelsea got the Boob Sandwich that has chicken breast with avocado and bacon!
La Jolla 010

The food there was so homey and made with heavy love.
La Jolla 009

From Studio Diner, we headed to Downtown La Jolla. I’d compare Downtown La Jolla to Orange County’s Fashion Island in Newport Beach and Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. Downtown La Jolla had the outdoors shopping and high end stores feelings to it. It was too expensive to purchase anything but fun to just window shop.
La Jolla 022

We stopped by The Living Room for some pastries and coffee. It was a small and cozy place to hang out with the mismatched furniture. Kind of like Central Perk from Friends. I got an iced vanilla latte which is my usual at any coffee shop. It was kind of expensive compared to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Starbucks. But then their drink size proportion was huge for a small. The drink was creamier than what I’ve tried at other places which was nothing bad. I would have to say that the expresso was probably a tad bit stronger than my usual. Overall, I wouldn’t mind getting the ice vanilla latte again at The Living Room.

We walked over to the beach to see some waves and sea lions. It was such a beautiful day out there with the sun shining and the fresh air.
Lovely La Jolla.

Eric met a new friend there, a squirrel. The squirrel seemed pretty friendly.
Eric and the Squirrel.

We saw some sea lions just sun bathing out in the open with no shame. They were fun to watch though they were doing nothing. We probably watched them lay there so freely for a good 15 minutes. It was surprisingly entertaining.

We walked back to our cars from the beach so we could start heading home. It was so much fun reuniting with Amy and Chelsea like the good old days in high school! There was so much more to see in San Diego but not enough time. Amy and I are going to see Chelsea again soon for another La Jolla adventure!
Last picture of the day.

Sidecar Doughnuts

Yes! Finally got the chance to try some hipster doughnuts with Chelsea and Eric! You don’t understand, I’ve been wanting to try some Sidecar doughnuts since the beginning of the year. I believe they had a soft opening earlier in the year just to see if people would like their doughnuts. I think it went really well. I mean, there was already a Yelp review on them right after the soft opening. If you check out their website, you’ll see that their doughnuts look really good! They don’t look like your ordinary donuts from those pink boxes.

So the three of us met up at Keans Coffee (hipster coffee place) in Newport Beach where Sidecar said that they would sell only 400 of their donuts. We were worried that the line would be crazy, but it was actually not that bad at all. I think Sidecar is still on the quiet side. So, please spread the word about them! There was a lady with a sample tray of huckleberry donuts. After trying a sample, I had to get one and everything else they had available.

They had the huckleberry, coffee, and cinnamon donuts. They’re expensive compared to your usual hole in the wall doughnut shops. The quality is different though. So you eat what you pay for which is about $3 per donut. Like Eric said, the donuts are on the cakey side. They’re thicker than usual.

The cinnamon was another winner just like the huckleberry. The bread was cinnamon and there was cinnamon on top of the frosting. Though it seems like too much cinnamon, it actually wasn’t too strong or too light. There was a good amount of cinnamon flavor when I took a bite of it. All of the doughnuts are recommended to try if you’re willing to spend about $3-4 for each doughnut.
Cinnamon Doughnut

What I like about Sidecar Doughnut is that they use fruits that are in season. So you know that the doughnuts aren’t just your everyday doughnuts. There’s character and flavor to them. Similar to the concept at Sprinkles Cupcake, the doughnut menu either changes on a daily or weekly basis. They only make a certain amount of batches for the day. So you need to get them before they’re out!

Look out for these doughnuts at Kean Coffee as they do sell them there now. Of course, look out for them for their grand opening! Can’t wait to try more of their doughnuts. Thanks Chelsea and Eric for stopping by Orange County to try some fancy doughnuts!