Adventures · Holidays

December 16-17 – Sisters’ Trip to San Francisco

Back in October, my sister Vickie and I told our other sister, Sophia, that she was going to take us to San Francisco during the holidays. Surprisingly she said yes haha! That weekend was also Melanie’s graduation ceremony so we weren’t going to leave until later that day. We ended up leaving Sacramento after 4PM and it took nearly three hours to get to our first destination, Japantown…

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Mount Diablo

Japantown was first because I wanted to have dinner at a Korean BBQ joint that was across the street from the shopping plaza, Yakiniq. I’ve been there before, also with my sisters, a few Christmases ago and it was amazing. We had a good time there but it did take an hour for a table.

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Pork Belly

We ate a few rounds of meat. Eating meat by itself is good but when it’s eaten in a wrap, it’s on a whole ‘nother level! We ate meat with picked radish and rice noodle sheets…I can’t eat Korean BBQ in any other way now haha. The radish contrasts with the greasy meats and it’s like a palette cleanser.


A stupid video I made on Instagram haha

After nearly two hours of chowing, we headed to the hotel (Marriot Marquis) which was a bitch to get to. I don’t remember what street we were on, definitely a main street, but it was absolutely packed with cars.

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Peace Pagoda in Japantown
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Decorated for the winter.

Random views to the hotel

 

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Our View

I don’t remember what floor we were on. 29? 34? The background has the Bay Bridge visible as a triangle, the SFMOMA is lit in the middle, and the Yerba Buena Gardens is on the bottom right.

After settling in, we explored the hotel for a bit and set out to Union Square to check out the Christmas tree.

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Market Street
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Just need to cross the street now…

It was gorgeous.

There were more people than I had anticipated to be there. I’ve never walked around SF at night so I wasn’t sure how it was going to be. Like NYC? Or Las Vegas? I felt safe though. Like I wasn’t going to get mugged or assaulted.

But it was a lot of fun…seeing people enjoy themselves in front of this beauty. I’ve visited this tree before when I came to SF with my sisters (like I mentioned earlier) but during the day time.

We call it a night since it was midnight and headed back to the hotel.

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Macy’s…always decked out. It was lovely.
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Neiman Marcus…with a fatass tree inside.
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A pile of rubbish on Market Street
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The Morning View

We ate breakfast at the hotel. The eggs and potatoes were forgettable but the bacon and sweets were to die for! The bacon was super crispy but not to the point where it broke apart when you start chewing it. The chocolate chip twist was flaky and wasn’t overly sweet.

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Breakfast

After breakfast, we went back to the room to begin the day. My plan was to visit the SFMOMA and do whatever else after I was done. Sophia and Vickie were just going to shop.

I actually spent my entire free time there. It was so big and a bit overwhelming. The Walker Evans exhibition was up so I spent a lot of time there.

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It was huge. Really, really huge.

And I didn’t take any pictures of his work. I felt like I shouldn’t…but I did take pictures of the photograph descriptions for future references. Here are a few that I got a kick out of.

I visited all floors of the museum (there are 7) but I completely forgot to visit the old side of the museum. That really bummed me out but there will always be next time. I spent nearly two hours there until I had to meet up with my sisters at the hotel.

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Tripe Elvis, Andy Warhol 1963
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Nam June Paik
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I almost fell to my death. I didn’t bump into the glass barrier, but it scared the shit outta me.

We had some time left before grabbing out luggage from the hotel so we attempted to try Boba Guys. It was a 15 minute walk but the line was out the door. Sophia wanted to wait 15 minutes to see where we’d end up. I wasn’t going to wait and forced us to leave haha. We ended up going back towards the hotel to order ShareTea at the Metreon instead.

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Hella bright day.

We left San Francisco shortly after and headed to my other older sister’s house in Pinole to visit my nephews. I was most looking forward to that to be honest. I love them so much! Hehe.

It was an eventful weekend that I enjoyed very much. It put me in a better mood for work for the rest of the year.

 

Holidays

Christmas 2016

Prep work for Christmas began a week before starting with chocolate chip cookies and Christmas colored M&M cookies.  I had arranged to bake a lot since I planned to give cookies to my friends (it didn’t happen) so I needed to prep the dough to bake two days before Christmas.

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Raw M&M cookies.
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After being baked, cooling on a rack.
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Finished chocolate chip and M&M cookies.

I had to bake at my sister’s house since her oven has two racks. Mine only has one so it would take forever to finish baking everything (it took three hours at my sister’s).

After I came home from work on Christmas Eve, I needed to go to the store to buy ingredients for my last minute decision to make chili.  The store was super busy as expected, but I didn’t mind the wait.  Once I got home, I had to get started on my lotus cookies.

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Deep fried cookies made of rice flour, coconut milk, eggs, a little water, and a shit ton of sugar. I posted this on Instagram and got A LOT of likes.

I woke up on Christmas day around 9AM. I had to help prep other foods with my mom before I could began with my chili.

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Before
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After

I looked at numerous recipes for chili and they were all very similar. Some called for tons of different spices while other called for only two or three. I pretty much combined all the recipes. My ingredients were: 2lb lean ground beef, two cans of dark kidney beans, a can of cannellini beans, three cans of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, a small can of tomato paste, a can of beef broth, two green bell peppers, onions, garlic, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, salt & pepper. I feel like I’m leaving out some more spices, but honestly I just kind of threw everything in there. And it turned out great! I was really surprised it turned out well. I was afraid it was going to be too tomato-y. I had crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, and cheese for toppings.

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The menu: Pineapple, boiled chicken (Hmong style), fried tilapia with with a tomato and onion sauce, sticky rice + regular rice, chili, and a spinach & strawberry salad.
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Menu continued: BBQed tri tip and roasted prime rib.

After eating, everything went by really fast. We opened presents (I got Dolce&Gabanna’s Light Blue and a robe), the little kids opened presents, celebrated my sister’s birthday, and then everyone left. My sister and I slowly began to clean up and that was pretty much it for that day.

From my friends’ portion of Christmas, I got Dolce&Gabanna’s Light Blue in a roller ball form, argan oil by Josie Maran, and bobby bins.

(I began this post a little after 11PM and wanted to finish before the year technically ended, but I’m currently sick and got tired half way. This post is going to abruptly end.)

Happy new year, to you all!

Holidays · Story Time

Thanksgiving 2016

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. Mine was…okay. I was scheduled to work later that night (retail) so all day I was worried about whether I would have enough rest to last me from 10PM to 5AM.

My family has never really celebrated Thanksgiving until I found out that the oven still worked. The broil function no longer works, but you can still bake. So one year I mustered up the courage to bake a turkey. I’ve baked a turkey before using one of those Ronco ovens, but the smallest turkey was always too big for it. I’ve had to cut off the drumsticks and cook it separately.

I believe this would be the fourth year we’ve celebrated. And I’ve always been the one cooking everything. I’ve always bought everything, prepped and baked the turkey, and made the typical side dishes. We also celebrate my dad’s birthday since the whole family would be under one roof.

This year I bought a 14lb turkey. I was looking for a 12lb since not many people were planning to come over, but I couldn’t find one and I couldn’t be bothered to ask an associate if there were any left in the back. It was the smallest out of all. I put it in water on Monday night and left it in the garage to defrost. It was thawed by Tuesday night.

For a few days, I researched different brining recipes. Originally I had planned to brine the turkey in apple cider and oranges, but I discovered some buttermilk recipes that tenderized the meat so I went with that.

I didn’t measure anything out, expect the water to kosher salt ratio. Other than that, I threw a whole bunch of stuff in.

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The brine consists of: water, kosher salt, peppercorns, sticks of cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic cloves, orange peel, oranges, onion, and buttermilk.

The turkey was meant to be placed in that pot but it was too large so it went back into the pail it defrosted in. And it went back into the garage.

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I was a bit worried about the temperature since Wednesday was going to reach to 60 degrees.

I also had a really late shift on Wednesday night (6PM to 2AM). I came home around 2:15AM and started working on the herb butter 15 minutes later. I set out two sticks of butter earlier that day to soften but it was still hard by the time I needed it. I had to incorporate everything by hand.

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Butter, thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic, salt, and black pepper

I woke up at 8:15 the next morning so that I could get the turkey in by 9AM. On a normal year, I’d wait until 12PM to pop in the turkey but since I worked later in the evening, I wanted everything done early so I could rest later.

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The prepped turkey on top of onion, carrots, celery, garlic. It’s stuffed with more onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Salt and pepper all around.

I started prepping my side dishes about a hour before the turkey was done around 1PM. I got side tracked and didn’t manage my time well enough because the first guests came before any of the sides were done. I don’t have any pictures of side dishes because I was running around the kitchen. This is what we had though: buttermilk biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, stuffing, buttered corn kernals, and steamed broccoli. I planned to make a fish but I forgot. I hadn’t had fish for a long time.

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The finished turkey, resting in the oven.

I had my sister Sophia carve the turkey. The meat wasn’t arranged in any fancy way. Just chopped and placed into an aluminum pan.

The turkey turned out a bit salty unfortunately. I may have added too much salt to the brine. But it turned out really moist and juicy!

After eating and bumming around for a bit, I decided to shower and take a nap which only lasted two hours. We had to set up the cake for my dad’s birthday. I don’t have an actual photo of the cake with the candles, so this one will have to do:

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Nicely secured in the front seat. It’s a mango mousse shortcake.

Once the celebration and cake was done, everyone headed home while I headed for some more rest. I had contemplated whether I should go black Friday shopping after I got off but I just hopped back into bed that only lasted 3 hours. Once I was up, I headed to Target to buy some goodies.

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Each pack of socks were $5, each movie was $6.

I needed new socks for the longest time since all of mine were hand-me-downs from my sister so I was pretty excited for them. And it’s such a steal. They’re originally $9.19. I decided to buy  Mockingjay to complete the series. I had no interest it when it first came out on blu-ray because it was such a disappointment. But since it was only $6…and I bought Martian just for the hell of it. Before Thanksgiving, I also bought X-Men: Apocalypse and Brooklyn.

Later on that day, I went back to the store with Sophia to buy more stuff. I bought a Chromecast which I do kind of regret because the WiFi at home is so slow. And then I bought my nephews’ Christmas presents that consists of clothes. They’re not getting any more toys.