Food For the Gods

Food For the Gods is one of my favorite desserts, but it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that no one outside the Philippines really knew what it was. Huh? It's not an American/European dessert? But we don't even grow dates or walnuts in the Philippines! 

It's okay to be a tourist

If there's one opinion I have that's going to get me side-eyed, it's this: I like going to "touristy" places and doing "touristy" things. Everyone is always praising the sights and sounds "off the beaten track" and scorning the "touristy" stuff, but for first-timers, I think it's great! They are "touristy" for a reason -- because they are big and beautiful and iconic representations of a place.  

Saint Chapelle

When one thinks of cathedrals in Paris, the two that most probably come to mind are Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur. On this visit to Paris, I visited one that is much smaller, much lesser-known, but arguably more magnificent. The Sainte Chapelle is literally a hidden jewel in Paris' long list of architectural marvels.

Sainte Chapelle (or Holy Chapel) was commissioned by Louis IX and consecrated in 1248.  Its most amazing feature is the Upper Chapel, with thousands of panels of stained glass illustrating more than 1,100 biblical scenes. Spoiler alert: if you plan to visit and don't want to spoil the surprise, DO NOT click on the "Read More" link, ignore the rest of this post and read another one!

Monet's Garden at Giverny

I have loved the works of Claude Monet ever since I was a teenager, and every time I have visited France I have wanted to take a trip to his home and garden at Giverny. But there always seemed to be too many other things to do, and too little time. Finally, finally I got the chance to visit this summer, and it was everything I had dreamed it to be. It was literally Monet's famous paintings come to life! 

Reconnecting with Nature at Yosemite National Park

I've often said that Yosemite is my favorite place on earth. Yes, I know that's something of an exaggeration, because home is where the heart is and wherever my family is has to be my favorite place, but as far as scenery goes, it's definitely my favorite.

But for someone whose favorite place it supposedly is, I haven't exactly been visiting it much. I used to visit around once a year until The Pea was born. After I became a mom, I think we visited the place two or three times, and we haven't been at all for the last 10 years.  A visit was well overdue. We took a short trip to Yosemite this summer, and I was reminded all over again why I say it's my favorite place.

Tips for Road Tripping with a (Neurotic) Dog

Ever since The Pea went of to college, we have been taking road trips to visit her in Santa Barbara. Tim has been on many of those trips. Why take him along? For one thing, it was a great chance for The Pea to see him. Second, we know that spending time in a kennel stresses Tim out, so we try to avoid it unless we are traveling somewhere by plane. Third, kennels are expensive! Fourth, the only kennel that will take Tim is 40 miles in the *opposite* direction from Santa Barbara, so dropping him off before a road trip just makes the road trip longer (unless we are willing to pay for an extra day in the kennels).

As with many things, road trips and Tim don't get along very well. Being removed from his comfortable routine is just the beginning. Enduring a long car ride, staying in an unfamiliar hotel, constantly being exposed to strangers, being left in a car, are all things he hates.  Here are some ways we help minimize his anxiety and make the trip pleasant for him:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (FINALLY!)

I have wanted to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ever since it first opened in 2016 in London's West End. That year it opened, I tried so hard to get tickets, but it was always sold out. When it opened on Broadway in 2018, I wanted to fly to New York to watch it, but could never make it happen due to cost and family/work commitments (plus, it was always sold out).

Then it opened in San Francisco in 2019, but tickets were harder to get than ever. Then COVID happened, so I forgot all about things like theater.  Fast forward to 2022. I don't know what made me revisit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but I decided to finally go for it. I took the boys and we watched it at the Curran Theatre, and boy was it worth the wait.

Dreaming of Newport Beach

If I ever win the lotto, I'm definitely buying a place in Newport Beach. We visited Newport Beach for the first time when dropping Jammy off at UC Irvine, and it has quickly become the seaside town of my dreams.  

Family Time at Disneyland

I recently did a search on my Google Photos account and discovered that I have over 8,000 photos taken at the Disneyland Resort!  The boys were 5 and The Pea was 7 on their first visit, so we have been going there for 15 years. Gosh, we have had some great times at the Happiest Place on Earth. Once they get older, it gets more and more difficult to organize a trip with the kids. Their schedules are all over the place, it gets more expensive (gosh, teenage boys do eat a lot!), and quite frankly, they'd rather visit with their own friends than their parents!  

So when the opportunity arises to go back to the Disneyland Resort with the entire family, you don't think twice, you just take it.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland

If you are a Star Wars fan (and who isn't??), you simply must visit Star Wars Land at Disneyland or Disney World! The level of attention to detail is simply amazing, and just walking around the place is an experience. You really feel like you have stepped into a galaxy far, far away. Every little corner is crammed with machinery, landscaping, equipment, and characters from the movies.