Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Napa Valley, California

I'm finally done traveling....for the next week! Traveling for 2 weeks in a row to 4 cities was exhausting. All I ever wanted in my job was to be able to travel; be careful what you wish for, I guess!

Travel = flying on work dollars = staying for the weekend. I'm lucky enough to have a job where they let me enjoy the weekend at whatever city I'm at. Of course when work took me to Sacramento, Adam and I had to make a trip out to Napa Valley! 

We try to do Napa once a quarter but this year we only got two trips in, which is ok since the reason why we couldn't was because we were too busy traveling to other places. Can you tell we love traveling? :)

We always have our signature places to visit: Robert Biale Vineyards & Brix. While we have other favorites, we try to experiment since Napa is just exploding with wineries and amazing restaurants. This time we tried Hall Winery, Domaine Chandon, Cakebread Cellars for new wineries and Long Meadow Ranch Farmstead and Etoile for restaurants.This doesn't happen very often but all of them were top notch; we pat ourselves on the backs for our perfect selections this time around!

Hall Wines - our newest Wine Club addition.

Long Meadow Farmstead Restaurant

Biale Vineyards - our favorite!

Cakebread Cellars 

Domaine Chandon - Limited Edition design. 

Hide and seek @ Cakebread Cellars

Bubblies @ Domaine Chandon

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pinterexperiments: Slow-Cook Ranch Mushrooms

Hi, friends! 

So, this is the easiest Pinterest recipe I've ever made, hands down. It's ridiculously simple, yet it's steakhouse quality! Beyond delicious and let me repeat, so easy

This recipe is perfect for a side dish for fish or steak, or even an addition to a pasta dish. Really versatile. 

1lb of mushrooms might sound like a lot but not only do they decrease in size significantly, it's so good that just two people can finish it off easily. Well. At least Adam and I did! :) 

 Slow-Cook Ranch Mushrooms 
Serves 2-3

What You'll Need:
 1 lb of mushrooms
 1 packet of Ranch seasoning mix
 1 stick of butter 
 1/4 Parmesan cheese *optional* 

 Completely melt the stick of butter in the microwave. 
 Stir the ranch powder in the melted butter. 
 Place mushrooms in the crock-pot.
 Drizzle melted butter & ranch mix over the mushrooms. 
 Sprinkle parmesan cheese. 
 Cook on low for 4 hours. 

Things to keep in mind: 
 If you have a larger or 'stronger' crock pot, keep your eye on it around the 3rd hour. The recipe called for 4 hours and some of my mushrooms on the edges were overcooked. 

See, so simple! Enjoy! xo

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Travel (Throwback) Tuesday: BFF in L.A

First night: Drinks at Picca in Beverly Hills
So this is a bit of a "Throwback" situation since my BFF visit was actually during Halloween but better late than never, right?

Anyway, my best friend Maya from Portland visited me during Halloween weekend which was also the 1st Hello Kitty Convention in L.A. We had so much fun and ugh, I missed her so much! She came down mainly for the Hello Kitty Convention here in L.A at the MOCA/JANM. We're not one of those crazy Hello Kitty fanatics but went more for nostalgia sake. We were both born and raised in Japan so we were surrounded by Hello Kitty growing up. My car isn't full of Hello Kitty and I don't have any of her tattoos - we just love her, just because it reminds us of home.

The convention was mind-blowing. The 25k tickets were completely sold out, people were lining up early just to get in, Little Tokyo was so busy - just absolute craziness! I was so impressed with Sanrio though. They did such a great job. The only thing is that they didn't expect that kind of turn out. There should have been more food trucks, a better system for the shops, etc. JANM (Japanese American National Museum)'s Hello Kitty exhibit runs through March of 2015 but since it was free for convention attendees, we checked it out. The exhibit was curated so perfectly, everything brought me back to my childhood in Tokyo and I loved every second of it. What a gorgeous museum, that is!

The Hello Kitty Con was on Halloween so we were completely wiped out by the time we were supposed to get ready to hit up West Hollywood for Halloween festivities. We ended up being old ladies and just swam in the pool. I'm pretty sure we were all cozied up in bed by 11pm, yikes!

The rest of the weekend was so much fun but a blur. We had breakfast coffee at Intelligentsia, then went to Din Tai Fung for lunch (Maya's fav!), drove all the way out to the Getty Villa and dinner at Mercado in Santa Monica. Oh and dessert with wine at the Grove. Can I just say that the Getty Villa is so beautiful? Can't wait to go back!

She left on Sunday but had some time to grab brunch in DTLA at Bottega Louie, my favorite.

I'm so sad she's gone but we had the best time catching up on life and being girly :) I miss her already but hopefully a trip up to Portland is in the works early 2015.  


Maya in front of the Hello Kitty Cafe


"You Can Never Have Too Many Friends"

She was everywhere!


Convention life. #TheStruggleIsReal

The view from our hotel room - pretty rainbow over Beverly Hills!

Getty Villa

Getty Villa

@LAX - waaah, don't leave me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Travel Tuesday: Tips & Tricks 101

What's in my carry-on?

I was so excited when I was approached by RelayRides to share some of my holiday travel tips! I've also had some friends and fellow bloggers ask me for advice and I'm so happy to finally be posting about it.

Just a little about my travels: Not only am I a former airline employee, I've been blessed to have been flying ever since I was born, both domestic and international. I've continued to travel quite a bit for leisure purposes but the past couple of years I've had to travel a lot for business. I fly at least once a month if not two or three times, a combination of leisure and business. I definitely rack up those miles!

I know the holidays are approaching and a lot of people will be traveling for the first time, or first time in a while. While we have no control over weather or mechanical delays, we sure have control over making the most out of the process!

So, here are some tips and tricks from a jetsetter and former airline employee that I hope will help you make traveling seamless and less stressful!

//Book your flight & hotel ASAP// - I'm in the hospitality business and a former airline employee so trust me on this. Book your flight and your hotel as soon as you know your plans. Unless you're booking third party (Expedia, Orbitz, etc), most hotels have a generous cancellation policy just in case you have a change of plans. Now airlines are not as generous but prices for both will go up and you will be sorry.

//Be on time// - I can't emphasize enough how much you need to be on time, especially during the holidays! Some people think I'm ridiculous for leaving my house 3-4 hours prior to departure but trust me, a lot of times I've been thankful I did. You can assume but never know for sure how busy the ticket counter is going to be or how low staffed TSA are that day.

//Renting a car// - I am such a huge fan of Uber but you can't exactly use that for your entire trip. There's a sharing community (think Air BnB but a car version) called RelayRides. Simply put, you rent someone's personal car. SFO and LAX already have established Relay Ride lots (so convenient!) but a lot of the RelayRides community have listings by several other airports. You search for a car (hybrids, luxury, convertibles, you name it!), contact the driver and boom. You have your car. You can see other people's reviews, be in constant touch with the car owner and do all of this online or through their awesome app. Sharing is caring, you guys! Test RelayRides out on your next trip.

//Get your liquids straight// - If you're a carry-on-only traveler like I try to be, have all of your liquids, 3.1 oz or less into a clear pouch. No, it doesn't matter if there's only 1 oz of product left in your 5 oz bottle, they're still going to throw it away. This way, you're more organized, you do yourself a favor and shows respect to the people behind you in line. Just don't be that person.

//Move, Drink & Moisturize// - Whether your flight is 1 hour or 15 hours, make a point to move around the cabin a little bit so your blood keeps a healthy flow. If your neighbor in the aisle seat is sleeping, then stretch out, do a little shake and move in place. Planes make you dehydrated. Buy yourself water pre-boarding or ask for water during drink/food service. Have lip-balm and moisturizer with you since the cabin can get extremely dry. Keep your gorgeous skin happy inside and out!

//Follow luggage rules// - I know you have your clutch, your carry-on and your tote but seriously, it's 1+1 on most airlines. Be respectful of other passengers and don't take up space that they deserve too. It's 1 large carry-on and 1 small handbag. The last thing you want is a boarding agent pulling you aside to rearrange your bags. I've had passengers miss their flight because they couldn't figure their bag situation out, true story.

//Carry cash// - I know a lot of us don't carry cash anymore since we have plastic and smart phones. However, you can't tip your valet/bellmen/room service, shuttle drivers with a card or phone and some cabs are not advanced enough to have touchscreen pay portals. I'm always so glad I have cash with me, even if it's only $10.

//Just relax!// - That's right, just relax. You've followed all my rules, you made your flight, got your car and now sitting cozy at your destination. I know traveling can be terrifying for a lot of people and trust me, I still get nervous traveling and I do it all the time! My vacation or work doesn't start when I get there, it starts when I start packing. Just enjoy the whole process, you're lucky to be traveling! 

Well, those are some of my essentials in a picture and the most basic yet important tips to keep in mind when traveling. If you're traveling this holiday season, be safe and have a wonderful time wherever you go

Thank you, RelayRides for reaching out! The concept of sharing your car when it's not in use is absolutely genius. Being in the hospitality business, I know that Air BnB is growing expeditiously and I know RelayRides will too. The sharing community is definitely revolutionizing the way we travel. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and download their super user-friendly App

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pinterexperiments: Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Hi, everyone! Time for some more recipes!

Adam has been studying for his recurring CFA exam and I decided to be a good girlfriend by cooking something new. I found this recipe on Pinterest and immediately wanted to try it. We both love lemon, rosemary and garlic.... so perfecto! 

This was delicious! I can't believe the chicken breast skin got that crispy! The rotisserie chicken from Costco has no chance!

Can't wait to make it again. 

♥ Lemon Rosemary Chicken  
Serves 4

What You'll Need: 

♥ 4 Bone-in Chicken Breast Halves (2 Whole Breasts)
♥ 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Rosemary
♥ 2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
♥ 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
♥ 1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper 
♥ 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest 
♥ 2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice 
♥ 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 


Pre-Eating Time: 
♥ 4-8 hours prior to eating time, prepare the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil together in a bowl. 
♥ Defrost the chicken if frozen and pat them dry. 
♥ Marinate the chicken with the mixture - make sure you cover the entire chicken. 
♥ Cover the chicken in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-8 hours. 

Cooking Time: 
♥ Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
♥ Place your marinated chicken breasts skin side down on a sheet pan. 
♥ Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the chicken skin side up. 
♥ Continue baking for another 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts. If you have a thermometer, the ideal temperature the chicken should be is at 160 degrees. 

Things to Consider: 
♥ After you flip the chicken, I added some sprigs of fresh rosemary and slices of lemon to the pan just to add some more fragrance and zest. 
♥ The ingredients are definite but the measurements are not. The above ingredients was taken from here - thank you! However, my chicken breasts were so large I had to almost double the amount it called for. 
♥ If you have time to marinate it for 8 hours, definitely do it! The longer the better. 
♥ If you're a garlic fan like I am, go ahead and mince however much you want! I think I minced about 8 cloves, haha! 

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Travel Thursday: Honolulu, Hawaii


Adios, LAX!
I think a lot of people already knew this but for my birthday, I decided to go big and celebrate it in Honolulu this year with Adam and some friends along the way. I had this planned since the beginning of the year and I can't believe it's already over. Definitely a sad-face emoji.

But honestly, I had the best time of my life. I hadn't returned to Honolulu in about 15 years and obviously it was time go back. I was lucky enough to have met my counterpart who works at the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber during a training class in May that ended up offering me the employee rate (which is never available for high demand properties) during my stay. We scored a fairly good price on Hawaiian Airlines and an unbelievable rate for a rental car. We were all set for four, beautiful days in Honolulu.

Our arrival time was a little bit before noon, which I loooove, since it didn't kill a day just from travel. Our ridiculous rental car was a Dodge Challenger (think NCIS), which we then cruised down H-1 to our hotel. The Holiday Inn Resort has a prime location. The beach is only steps away yet you're smack in the middle of all the shopping and eateries. It's a beautiful 500+ room high rise hotel and the service was just astounding. Honolulu really has their 'hospitality' down! Our room was ready by the time we checked in and to my surprise, my friend Natalie had upgraded us into one of their four suites on the top floor! We walk in and was greeted by not only this gorgeous suite but with flowers, a bottle of red wine, Honolulu Cookies and a birthday card signed by the staff. I definitely had some tears of happiness!

So sweet!
The first night, we went to the Hilton's Starlight Luau. It's definitely a bit overpriced for the quality of food and drinks but who complains about anything in paradise, right? We got our leis, maitais, kalua pork, the works. The performance was so much fun! All the different Polynesian dances, outfits and music - just adored them! And of course, all of us were on the edge of our seats waiting for the grand finale, the fire dance! It. Was. So. Cool. Seriously love the experience!

The next day, we had hiking at Diamond Head and snorkeling at Hanauma Bay planned. We discovered an amazing breakfast place by the Sheraton, Il Lupina. We shared an entire Papaya, had some guava juice and indulged in the macadamia nut pancakes which were to die for (so much so we went back again!).

Diamond Head was gorgeous. We went on the most perfect, cool day. I'm a bit out of shape so the hike, especially the end, was pretty challenging but of course completely worth it. The views were breathtaking and that seems like an understatement.

Right after the hike, we hopped down to Hanauma Bay to snorkel. Unfortunately we got there a little late and only had half an hour of snorkeling time. We still got to see a ton of fish and Adam was amazed since it was his first time there.

Our friends Sumit & Ros were visiting Honolulu at the same time (kinda planned but not really) so we decided to spend a day together visiting the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the Dole Plantation. Pearl Harbor was incredible. My mind was blown that even to this day, oil surfaces and colors the water. I don't really have the right word for how I felt knowing the bodies of our soldiers were still inside the USS Arizona. My heart sunk. It's a quiet, peaceful and beautiful place.

The Dole Plantation was just funny. We went straight to the Pineapple Whip and rode the Pineapple Express. The Pineapple Express was a bit questionable, it felt like we were going through fields of basically nothing. The best part (apart from the ice cream, duh) was the Pineapple Maze. It was definitely challenging and tested our relationship/friendship, haha! I've had horrible experiences with coworkers in mazes as a 'team-building' exercise since it turns into 'team-collapsing' exercises! The four of us had a ton of fun though and made it out with decent time ;)

Our flight back to LAX wasn't until 10PM the next day so we were able to get some shopping in after breakfast. We decided to go back to Hanauma Bay for some more decent snorkeling. It was even more beautiful that day and we spent a couple hours in the water hanging out with tropical fish!

Oh, Hawaii. You were so good to us. I had the best birthday weekend ever. As much as I love L.A, I loved being away from it, work and other normal life things! I can't wait to go back!

Mahalo, Honolulu! Love you! 

1st drink of many at the Hilton Luau

So cool!

The view from our suite at night. Downtown Honolulu.

My counterpart at the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber!

Our view in the morning! Too pretty!

Yes please!

Macadamia Nut Pancakes with Coconut syrup.

Beach life. 

I look like a local. 

Flash tats! Love them. 

Gorgeous sunset.

On our way up to the Diamond Head Summit! 

The bunker on Diamond Head!

We made it to the top of Diamond Head! Phew!


So happy from swimming with Nemo and friends.

USS Arizona / Pearl Harbor Memorial.

Dole Pineapple Whip Float! Yum!

Such tourists on the Pineapple Express.

Trying to find that darn Sea Urchin! 

Second visit to Hanauma Bay for snorkeling. 

We look haute. 


My new favorite drink: Island Latte (Macadamia & Coconut)

Goodbye, Hawaii. :(
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