Art is Everywhere

I truly believe that wherever you look, there is something worth taking a picture of. You might think your everyday life looks mundane but if you try to look at life with an artistic perspective, you might see something different. When Alex and I were waiting to meet up with his friend, Justin, we decided to take a stroll around the neighborhood for a few minutes and take some fun pictures!

I wish I could have taken more pictures while we were waiting! One thing I’ve learned from traveling is that you should try to have the mentality of, “There won’t be next time.” So if you see something that is picture worthy, just go for it! Don’t tell yourself, “I’ll do it next time!” Trust me, you will forget and you will most likely not have that opportunity again to take a picture of it. It’s happened to me way too many times. Don’t let it happen to you.


Surprise Briana!

Briana, Christian, Mark and I were in a group text to plan a hangout since we were all in town for the holidays. Christian and Briana were able to meet up, but Mark never really responded if he was free. As we were all texting, I started another group text with just Mark and Christian saying that we should surprise Briana for her belated 25th birthday. Mark and Christian were down to surprise her! So last minute Christian bailed on the hang out and Mark continued to remain silent in the group text with Briana.

Christian and I trolling Briana.

Christian and I trolling Briana.

Planning this mini surprise gathering was challenging but exciting. I like to say it was pretty successful though since Briana was a little upset that Mark didn’t respond at all and that Christian bailed. So it worked out that she was expecting to not see them!

We surprised her in downtown Fullerton where we grabbed brunch at Rialto Cafe. The wait was about 30-40 minutes long. We decided to take some hipster pictures while we were waiting since Briana was dressed up all cute and there were a lot of good spots to take pictures. Here are some pictures from our quick photo shoot by the restaurant:

Briana was a natural! I didn’t have to direct her that much!

Once we got seated, Briana suggested what was popular at Rialto Cafe according to Yelp-Rialto Cafe. As she was doing her research on Yelp, I remembered that whenever the four of us came together to hang out, we usually had a set role. Back in the day, Mark was always the driver, Christian was the DJ playing music in the car, Briana would be the one to look through Yelp to find out what to eat at the restaurant, and I would be the one to plan where to meet. It was funny how Briana was on top of her duty of Yelping even though it’s been awhile since the last time the four of us hung out.

For brunch I got one of the popular items which was the smoke salmon with scramble, hash brown, and wheat toast on the side.  I’m not sure why people like this a lot but maybe it’s because of the salmon. It was a little too simple for me but maybe that’s another reason why it was a popular item.
Smoked Salmon Scramble

Another popular item on the menu was the stuffed French toast which Briana got. I would’ve picked this over the smoke salmon because it was sweet! Downside was that there was no meat. I kind of need my meat for my meals.
Stuffed French Toast

It was so nice to catch up with Mark, Christian, and Briana. Our group dynamic hasn’t changed since we’ve all been separated. Hanging out with them brought a lot of memories back. As we were eating, we were talking about cool apps for our iPhones.

Tutorial on Cart Wheel from Mark

By the way, we are kind of a tech savvy group of friends. More so with Christian and Mark. They’re always on top of that and so Briana and I are always in the know thanks to them. Some things we learned from them at brunch was about the Cart Wheel app from Target. It helps you save money for various products at Target by using the app.
Target's Cart Wheel App

Another handy dandy app is Tab where it helps you split the bill from the restaurant if you’re with multiple people. You basically take a picture of the bill and the app will then divi it up. You can even add names to each item on the bill!
Tab App

Thanks to Christian for introducing Tab to us, we were able to easily split up the bill! After Rialto Cafe, Mark had to head out.
Group picture at Rialto Cafe

Briana, Christian, and I went over to Green Bliss literally across the street. It’s a hip vegetarian cafe that serves sandwiches, coffee, and tea. Because it was a warm day, Briana and I both got an iced vanilla latte. The expresso was so strong that we wanted a refund. You could barely taste the sweetness of it. Luckily, the customer service was above and beyond that they were willing to give us a refund. They were willing to make adjustments for us, but we just wanted our money back and get Milk and Honey instead.
Green Bliss

I want to give Green Bliss a second chance next time since the customer service was superb, the ambiance and decor there was quite eccentric in a good way, and it had good reviews on Yelp-Green Bliss! I’ll come back for you Green Bliss! Don’t worry!

After Green Bliss, we headed over to Costa Mesa. We shopped a little at South Coast Plaza and then grabbed a drink at Milk and Honey where we felt at home! Briana and I got our usual Peach Aloe Tea which you can’t go wrong with at all and Christian got shaved ice.
Milk & Honey

We talked and laughed a lot that day. Oh man, it was honestly a fun day hanging out with them. It made me miss our college days when we were young and had so much freedom to play and go on so many adventures! It was nice to know that we were able to just pick up where we left off.
Last Group Picture of 2013
Thanks Christian and Mark for being good actors to surprise Briana! Briana, hope you had as much fun as I did hanging out with them! Happy belated 25th birthday!


When Hannah told me she was going to visit Orange County, I got super excited because I haven’t see her in so long! Also I was excited because she suggested that we hit up Lemonade, a cool-hip restaurant at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. It’s a type of restaurant where you stand in line cafeteria style with a tray, pick out what you want, pay at the end of the line, they give you a number, and they deliver the food to you.

I heard mixed reviews about Lemonade but it wasn’t going to stop me from going! When we got there, the line was pretty long because it was lunch time but mainly due to lack of efficiency within its logistics. Lemonade has too many items on the menu that it slows down the line. I know it sounds ridiculous for a restaurant to have too many items but because there was no one cohesive theme within its food, it seemed like it made customers indecisive and slow to get the right order.

In the beginning of the line, you can order sides of various mixed vegetables pasta salads which they call “Marketplace”. Everything from the Marketplace looked fresh, very green, and healthy. If you don’t want anything from the Marketplace, you can order traditional sandwiches, Land + Sea which consisted of chicken or fish entrees, or get some of their homey food like Beef Stroganoff from the Braise section of the menu. They have gluten free desserts and various refreshing fruity drinks.

Hannah and I ended up getting the same order of a traditional sandwich. It had SW turkey club, blue cheese, avocado, chipotle chili-bacon mayo with a side salad.

We got our food before we were even seated. Like I mentioned before, the logistics at Lemonade was a little off. I mean, it’s good that we got the food pretty quickly but we should’ve gotten it once we were seated. So you can tell that the line to order was so slow and inefficient that we got our food before we were even ready to sit down!
Hannah at Lemonade!

So the food was ok. It wasn’t strikingly amazing or even close to it. The chipotle chili-bacon mayo spread was light in flavor and the SW turkey club was quite dry. Overall, the sandwich itself was pretty bland. The salad was too healthy that I felt like I was just eating grass. I’m not sure what dressing they used, but I think it was just a sprinkle of water. Ok, I don’t think it was water but it was close to it. I couldn’t really figure out the flavor of the dressing because it was so light making the salad itself bitter. Hannah and I had to eat it with the sandwich to make the salad taste less bitter.
Traditional Sandwich

We both agreed that we wouldn’t come back here. The concept at Lemonade is like Tender Greens where it’s about that green life but I think Tender Greens’ execution in their menu and logistics are more satisfying for me and Hannah.

Sorry, Lemonade. You were quite a disappointment.

Hannah, I’m sorry that we both didn’t enjoy Lemonade as much as we wanted to. When you’re back, we’ll hit up Tender Greens where we feel more at home. I’m glad we got to catch up on a lot but I feel like there’s still more to catch up on! Next time, it’ll be you, me, and Briana!

Celebration at BLD

Apoorva, my friend since we were 13 years old, is moving to San Francisco! She is my C-Bean friend aka Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf friend. In other words, because we used to live so close to each other, we would meet up at the closest Coffee Bean to study or to just catch up on life at least every other week. Now, I will no longer have a C-Bean friend as she will find a new Coffee Bean friend who is a real hipster in San Fran!

To say farewell/congratulations on the new job, we went to LA for brunch with a few other old friends. We hit up BLD which is a restaurant filled with cool hipsters in there. Different kind of scenery but I liked it! Food was uber good. I mean, it got 4/5 stars on Yelp with 1400+ reviews! The Yelpers were definitely right about everything. You can’t go wrong with Yelp.

I got the Spanish Scramble that had chorizo, fingerling potatoes, roasted piquillo peppers, paprika, and manchego cheese. This huge plate that I was not able to finish was kind of pricey but almost worth the $15. I was pretty upset that I wasn’t able to finish it because it was so good. That chorizo though…I don’t know how to describe it. It was a tad bit salty the more you had it, but it was flavorful because of the seasoning.
Spanish Scramble

I’m glad I was able to eat this good food at a hipster place with my hipster friend who’s moving to a hipster town!

Me and Apoorva

aka Harold and Kumar

Apoorva, I’m glad we got the chance to hang out before your last day! I’m so happy and excited for this new chapter in your life! You definitely deserve this after all the hard work and many hours spent at Coffee Bean! I can’t wait to hear your stories! See you soon!

L to R: Derek, Jerry, Me, Apoorva, Apoorva’s Cousin, Aaron.

I must say thank you, Aaron, for taking us to BLD! Great pick! I definitely want to come back here! Thanks also for letting me post this picture up! #nofilter

City and Colour

There’s quite some history behind City and Colour that you should know. One is that Dallas Green is the main singer of City and Colour. I guess he didn’t want his full name out there so he turned his name (Dallas) into City and his last name (Green) turned to Colour. Pretty clever, huh?

Before City and Colour, he was part of Alexisonfire which was a post-hardcore Canadian band. Alexisonfire didn’t really work out, so Dallas Green started doing his own thing. As a solo artist, he started out with just his voice and guitar. He turned acoustic and folkie with his music. At first he released a few songs on the internet, then next thing you know he’s had 3 albums out since 2007. Now, he has his 4th album out called “The Hurry and the Harm” which was released earlier this year.

I got the lucky opportunity to see him perform live at Club Nokia in LA, thanks to Calvin! When you listen to him at home, his voice is quite clear and soothing. But when you hear him live, the clarity of his voice is so ridiculous. It’s almost unbelievable to hear him sing like that live!
City and Colour

I have to say that my favorite part of his 2 hour show was him singing my favorite song “The Girl”. I felt like he was singing to me as he stood on stage by himself with his guitar. I think he loves me…

If you want to hear his latest album, check it out here:

Thanks Calvin for introducing me to City and Colour!

Blackmarket Bakery

When I got back from Boston, I had to meet up with Briana to celebrate her acceptance to pharmacy school! Yay, Briana! Praise the Lord!

We celebrated at Blacketmarket Bakery located in the hipster area of Costa Mesa, The Camp. There we tried out some fancy sweets. We shared two of their popular desserts,the Black Widow Tart and  the Basque Berry.
Black Market Sweets

Black Widow Tart. Dark Chocolate Ganache over caramel in a chocolate tart shell. If you like heavy chocolate, then this is the way to go.
Black Widow Tart

Basque Berry. Raspberries and lemon curd under a rich batter, topped with sliced almonds. This has a light tangy flavor to it.
Basque Berry

According to Briana, it’s weird to switch from the Basque Berry to the Black Widow Tart. I actually tried the Black Widow Tart first and then went over to the Basque Berry. I’d have to say it’s better to switch from sweet to tangy.

For two of these tarts, they were a little less than $10. Would I come back here again? Eh, probably not. I wouldn’t go out of my way to try it again. It’s an a-ok bakery just because of what we tried didn’t stand out too much. They were just simply ok good.

While we were eating some sweets, I gave her some sweets from Boston! There’s actually not a lot of souvenirs to buy in Boston. So I ended up just getting her a baby penguin chocolate from a fancy popular chocolate shop called La Burdick.
Bri & Baby Penguin

Congratulations on pharmacy school, Briana! So proud of you!

Urth Cafe & The Halls of LA

I was sensing a hipster night in LA, so my friends and I decided to hit up Urth Cafe for a late dinner. This was officially my first time ever trying Urth Cafe! I had to try out one of their most popular drinks which is the Spanish Latte. I wanted to stick with my usual vanilla latte but I was highly encouraged by my peers to get the hot Spanish Latte. Hot because you want to get the latte art in there.

My friend Apoorva and I both got the Spanish Latte with hipster latte art. There was a unique taste to this Spanish Latte where it’s a sweet in a different way compared to any general vanilla latte. This Spanish Latte has a sweet kicker to it.
Spanish Latte

We also shared a Panini Caprese that had mozarella, roasted peppers, sun dried tomatoes, pesto and olive spread. It was a simple yet filling panini.
Panini Caprese

Derek got a Moroccan Mint Tea Latte with a Hello Kitty foam work. Derek looked pretty happy with his latte art.
Derek & his Hello Kitty latte.

Victoria got a vegetarian Sprout Sandwich that is filled with a lot of good veggies.
Victoria and veggie sandwich.

We were probably there past 9:30PM and it was still packed! After sipping on some hipster drinks and eating hipster food, we decided to just walk around some concert halls. We checked out the Ahmanson Theater. You can just stand there for awhile and simply be entertained by the water show.
Ahmanson Theater

We went over to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Oh man, that venue has a bunch of hidden spots of beauty. The garden reminds me of the forest scenes in Snow White. Perhaps the landscape is designed in relations to the Disney’s movies. Though it was quite dark when we were exploring the outside of the concert hall, it was still beautiful. I’d definitely like to see it in sunlight. (Sorry for the poor quality of the picture below. I forgot to bring my fancy camera! This was taken with my iPhone.)
Walt Disney Concert Hall Garden

After much exploration, we headed back home. Thanks Apoorva for joining me last minute to hang out in Los Angeles with Derek and Victoria. Thanks Derek for driving us around!