Laguna Beach

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!

Throwback Thursday: Gelato Paradiso

I’m throwing it back to the one of the real summer days! Weather here in sunny SoCal is slowly starting to get chilly and it’s nice because there’s less of that blazing sun burning our skin! On the other hand, I’m going to miss getting a tan and going for ice cream runs at night because of the heat!

One summer night, Elaine and I had to just get out of the house, get some fresh air and explore. So we drove over to Gelato Paradiso in Laguna Beach! When we got there, this small gelato shop was packed and had a long line going out the door! We stood in line for 15 or 20 minutes and finally treated ourselves to some gelato with their fresh homemade waffle cone!

For $4.75 I got a peach and chocolate chip gelato in a waffle cone. Elaine got the pistachio gelato in a waffle cone also! I highly recommend getting the waffle cone as it is constantly made fresh and it goes perfectly well with all the various gelato flavors. The flavors genuinely taste like what its supposed to be and it just hits the spot!

Yelp shows 4.5 stars with more than 350 reviews! With that kind of rating, you know you just have to check this place out!

Check out my Gelato Paradiso Tastemade appisode here!
Gelato Paradiso 2

Elaine, thanks for taking me to this hidden gem in Laguna Beach! I’m going to miss our spontaneous summer runs to Laguna Beach just like this night!

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!

Jean Paul’s Goodies

I heard about Jean Paul’s Goodies from Sammie & Harold who heard about it from Ed. They said that Jean Paul’s Goodies has the best cappuccino ever! When I heard that, I knew I had to check it out prompto!

Prior to going, they told me and Elaine how there was an old grumpy grandpa running the store. The grandpa was so grumpy that you were able to tell by looking at him that he was not in a good mood. Apparently that’s just how he is general. Sounds like a character from some kind of movie, huh?

In general, there’s no menu in the shop so you have to know what you want or else he might just get grumpier. I guess Harold had asked before for the menu but the grandpa responded along the lines of, “You should know what you want.” Crazy, huh? Oddly enough, I think for Harold and Sammie, experiencing bad customer service was worth the cappuccino.

Since Elaine and I love coffee we decided to check out Jean Paul’s Goodies with Sammie & Harold. When the four of us got there, I was slowly starting to get nervous to meet the grumpy grandpa. He was pretty intimidating to look at even from afar. The ambiance at the shop was eery as we walked in. It was dead quiet. I’m sure customers knew not to talk while standing in line. You will know what I’m talking about once you walk in.

Luckily, Harold was able to order for the 4 of us so I wasn’t inside for long. The grandpa made the cappuccino himself using his cappuccino machine and poured milk. It was nothing fancy at all in the way he made it but once I had a sip of it, it tasted fancy! The texture was so smooth and nothing was too bitter. It was perfect. It was one good cappuccino!

Unfortunately, I have no pictures to show you other than the one in front of the store. I wanted to take more pictures but ended up getting too scared. Check out Yelp if you’re curious about the grumpy grandpa or other people’s reviews about the place. Even though it only has 3.5 stars with only 33 reviews, it’s definitely a hole in the wall place  to check out in Laguna Beach.

I wouldn’t mind going back there again for the cappuccino but I think I would want someone to order for me. By the way, this man closes whenever he wants! We got our drinks around 1PM on a Saturday. Once he made our drinks, he was already out the door! Customers tried to come in but he had to shoo them away! Sammie, Harold, Elaine and I concluded that because this grandpa makes good cappuccino, he probably has people coming back a lot! So his business must be really successful for him to leave whenever he wants though Yelp may not show the right numbers.

If you ever go, please let me know what your experience there is like! Don’t forget to know what you want before going there so you don’t get yelled at!

Thanks Harold and Sammie for treating me and Elaine out for some good cappuccino!