san francisco trip report – august 2013

San Francisco Highlights

My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last week in San Francisco. We were both ready for a mini-vacation, and the City by the Bay was the perfect spot to relax and have fun. We were only going for the weekend, so I “bravely” left my laptop and camera at home.  Armed with only our cell phone (chiefly used for navigation, taking photos, and Instagram posting), we were off to a leisurely weekend, with no real agenda or schedule to follow. As a bonus, we decided not to rent a car so we didn’t have to deal with traffic and finding parking spaces! A true vacation, indeed! Continue reading

london highlights: cream tea

Cream tea is a lighter afternoon tea, which is really more like a snack, consisting of a pot of tea and scones serve with clotted cream and jam. While in London, I got in the habit of having cream tea every afternoon. I would return to my hotel room from a thoroughly enjoyable, yet exhausting day of sightseeing, shopping, museum-going, and other touristy things, and I would treat myself to a cup of tea and a scone slathered with copious amounts of clotted cream and jam. It was a more restful break than having tea at a tearoom or café since I can take off my boots, put my feet up, (take a short nap), check emails (yeeah for free in-room wi-fi) and plan the rest of the evening’s activities in the comfort of my room. It was a nice, warm respite from the drizzly, gray London skies.

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london highlights: borough market

Mushroom Display at Turnips, Borough Market in London

I am a big city girl at heart, and when I got an opportunity to visit London, one of my favorite big cities in the world, I jumped at the chance. It was a quick trip, but I made the most of the four full days I had.  I didn’t have a strict agenda, being content with walking around the city and exploring different neighborhoods. This was my fourth time visiting London, and each time I grow more in love with this fast-paced, energetic city, with a charm all it’s own. Over the next couple of posts, I will be sharing the highlights of my trip. I hope you enjoy reading about them!

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new york city trip report – february 2012

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to take a few days off from my daily grind and jet off to New York City.  During this short four-day trip, I recharged and reenergized myself; what better place to do that than in New York City.  The more time I spend there, the more I fall in love with the city and its frenetic pace and energy.  I love wandering around the different neighborhoods, each with its own charm and personality, and, of course, discovering the city’s culinary treasures.  I am always armed with a long list of restaurants to try, knowing that I would be lucky to eat at just a handful of them, unless I eat six times a day. On this trip I visited some old standbys and also uncovered some new gems.  I left New York City completely inspired by my new food discoveries, and I am ready to duplicate these treats in my kitchen, with my own twists, of course. Continue reading

manzanar national historic site

Guard Tower at Manzanar National Historic Site

On our drive down from Mammoth last week on US-395, we stopped at the Manzanar Natiional Historic Site. Ironically just a short distance from the town of Independence, Manzanar was one of ten relocation centers where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. There are not many structures left, but you can see cement foundations, outlines of gardens, and signage of the buildings that once stood there, still surrounded by barbed wire fences. A replica of one of the eight guard towers that were used by military police equipped with search lights and sub-machine guns stands as a reminder that the Japanese Americans were held there against their will, and not “for their protection.” The desolate landscape against snow-covered mountains was an eerily beautiful and moving sight, almost haunting, really.

This dark chapter in American history began in 1942 when the U.S. government under President Roosevelt enacted Executive Order 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War to declare areas of the United States (mostly in the western US) as military areas “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” The Executive Order also established the War Relocation Authority, which paved the way for the creation of relocation camps which would house over 100,000 Japanese Americans, most of whom were American citizens by birth or were willing to become citizens but were denied the opportunity due to the immigration laws at the time. No charges were ever brought against any of the internees, nor were there any trials or due process, as prescribed by the Constitution of the United States.

Manzanar resembled a small town housing up to 11,000 prisoners and was self-sustained in many ways. The camp had its own hospital, schools, farms, co-ops and more. There were dances and baseball games. Most people held jobs within the camp or helped with the American war effort by making camouflage nets. Despite the severity of the circumstances they endured, these (mostly) American citizens of Japanese ancestry made the most of their imprisonment and lived hopeful lives even though many had lost everything.

As America celebrated the 235th anniversary of its independence, I thought it was fitting to end with this quote inscribed on a plaque by the guardhouse that says:

May the injustices and humiliation suffered here as a result of hysteria, racism, and economic exploitation never emerge again.

Soul Comforting Tower at Manzanar National Historic Site

I know this is more serious than most of my posts, but I was truly moved by visiting this site. If you are ever driving up US-395 heading towards Mammoth, I urge you to stop at Manzanar to learn about the courage and the indomitable spirit of the Japanese Americans and the fragility of the freedom and liberty we sometimes take for granted.

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the oc mart mix

OC Mart Mix

Orange County’s version of the SF’s Ferry Building is the OC Mart Mix, located within the South Coast Collection (SoCo) in Costa Mesa.  It is a retail complex housed in a modern open loft-like space built with recycled natural woods, corrugated metals, and sustainable materials.  Small boutiques are clustered around an atrium furnished with comfy sofas and chairs creating a warm and inviting place to meet friends and hang out.  The OC Mart Mix has an eclectic array of vendors selling home accessories, handmade and vintage clothing, paper goods, fine foods, and furniture.  There is also a wine bar/olive oil purveyor and a stylish coffee bar.  On Saturdays, there is a farmers market outside featuring a small group food purveyors and a rotating lineup of haute food trucks.

OC Mart MixOC Mart Mix

The outdoor patios are done in a minimalist style, complete with rock gardens and succulent plants in tall modern containers.
OC Mart Mix