My TGIF gratitude list for this week

What a fun and eventful week. It started off with a bang because I took a couple of days off from work. I took Monday and Tuesday off to spend time with my children. My daughter will be leaving for London in September. She will be getting her Master’s degree at King’s College. We are savoring and treasuring each single day before she leaves. We are sad that she will be so far, but happy that she has such a wonderful opportunity to better her future and in London of all places! We are also extremely proud of her. What an accomplishment. She will only be gone for a year, which makes it easier for me to digest the fact that she will be so far. Also, knowing that she will come back to visit during Christmas and that we will visit her in London makes it easier as well. We are very excited for our visit to London. We are also going to Paris and Ireland while there. I better start working on renewing my passport!

Greetings from Earth

It was an adventurous Monday which started with the solar eclipse on August 21st. I love August. It’s such a fiery month (if you’re a Leo, you know what I mean) and with the solar eclipse energy shift, it’s extra fiery this year (roar). But back to the eclipse, I decided not to buy special glasses and instead we used a welding helmet that had a rating of 13 to view the eclipse. We were careful not to view too long or too much just to be sure that we didn’t damage our eyes. Plus, we are in California, so it wasn’t a total eclipse, it was a partial eclipse. I think we only had 63% coverage of the sun. The eclipse started at 9:05 with a peak at 10:21. It was great to spend the morning together viewing the eclipse. I also made a viewing box and we took turns viewing the eclipse that way as well. It was a fun DIY project that actually worked well.

What’s in the box!?!

Our adventurous Monday was not over after the eclipse. We had afternoon tea which was a treat my daughter decided on as one of her going away events. Pinkies up! We both ordered afternoon tea. We had egg salad, cucumber and cream cheese and curried chicken salad sandwiches, a butterscotch scone with clotted cream and three tiny desserts. I chose an almond coconut green tea and my daughter had a cinnamon chai black tea.

Pinkies up!

My son ordered the grilled cheese sandwich and was so excited that it came with a fruit cup and gummy bears along the sides of the plate. His choice of tea was a mango tea which he ordered as iced.

I’ll have a sandwich with my gummy bears, please…

Afterwards, we went to the mall to do some shopping which is rare for me because I don’t really like going to the mall as much anymore. I prefer online shopping so I don’t have to deal with the crowds. We had a fun time shopping together. We ended our day playing Family Feud online together. It’s our latest obsession and a fun way to spend time together. My daughter gave me a goodbye gift which is a box filled with affirmations, pictures of us together and a little book filled with 50 “awesome things she loves about me”. She had been asking all week if she can give me her present and I finally said yes. I had been putting it off because it makes it more real that she is leaving for London. It is a very thoughtful and heart filled gift that I will treasure forever. When I miss her, I will open one of her little notes. I can’t wait to give her mine.


Our Tuesday was terrific! We went to Universal Studios. It was a weird but fun day because there was a power outage in the morning, so most of the rides were not working or experienced technical difficulties and glitches. We waited in line at the Despicable Me ride for a long time until they realized that the power went out. We left and went to the tram ride. The tram ride was hilarious because for some attractions, like the King Kong one, the audio wasn’t working and but the visual was working, so the tram guide had to do the sound effects himself. Also, everything else was working so we our tram was shaking and we were getting sprayed with water. It was kind of fun. It definitely was interesting. All of the attractions experienced some sort of technical difficulty or glitch. Jaws was frozen half way out of the water so we didn’t get to see him. We didn’t get into Studio 50. Fast and the Furious was also interesting because once the action started, only the audio was working and the tram was shaking, but there was no visual. My son was looking forward to that one and he didn’t get to experience it fully. Also, my daughter said all she could hear was my laughter. I couldn’t help it. It was so funny. We went on the Harry Potter ride and the ride got stuck when we were right in front of the tarantula. Yikes! The highlight for us was Water World. It ran smoothly with no technical difficulties. Even though it’s an “old” show, my children really enjoyed it because of the stunts, studio effects and pyrotechnics. It was a great show.

OMG, it spells POOP…

Wednesday was wonderful because it was the first day of school for my son. We were all ready to go. We had his school supplies all packed up, his hair was freshly cut, his uniform was new and freshly pressed, his shoes were new and clean and we had his summer homework all done and ready to hand in to the teacher. Josh had math homework to do which he completed and he had to read Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. His book report was to complete a cereal box based on the book. The name of his cereal was Fudgy Peter O’s and they were described as fudge covered oat cereal in the shape of O’s and P’s. We didn’t realize that when he drew the cereal as P’s and O’s, he spelled out POOP a few times. He swears he didn’t do it on purpose and I don’t think he did, because I watched him draw them sporadically in the bowl. It was hilarious though. Josh’s first day was awesome. He did great. I forgot to do the traditional first day of school tradition which is baking cookies. I’ll have to make it up to him but he actually didn’t really realize that we didn’t do it. I guess it’s more for me than it is for him. He was happy because his big sister picked him up on his first day. She’s also going to surprise him and pick him up today. He really enjoyed this week because it was a short week with early dismissal at 12 noon. He is excited about his first school project which is a culture bag describing his family’s culture and bringing in treats. We will work on that this weekend along with going shopping for Mexican and Filipino candy. Josh and I love shopping for candy!

Happy Fri-yay!

Sweet Monday

I am grateful for August, solar eclipse energy shifts, welding helmets, eyesight, days off from work, summer vacation, summer reading projects, thoughtful gifts from my daughter, expensive afternoon tea, glitchy rides, fake scary tarantulas, the first day of school, “I didn’t mean to spell poop” cereal boxes, and mostly, I am grateful for my children.

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Sunday Funday done right: A day trip with friends to Downtown L.A.

My friends and I decided to do Sunday Funday right last weekend and go to Downtown L.A. (DTLA). We thought it would be fun to spend a day exploring. We had a list of spots that we wanted to hit and I think we did a pretty good job of seeing them all. There were three of us and one of us (not me) was a pro at DTLA. She knew how to take the Metro, which stops to take, where to walk and how to get to all the places we wanted to go.

Our day started at 7:50 in the morning. We met at the Metro in NoHo. Our first stop off of the Metro was the Civic Center. Some of the attractions of Civic Center are the Ahmanson Theatre/Mark Taper Forum, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles City Hall, Grand Park, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Broad, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and Little Tokyo. Our purpose of getting off of this stop was to go to Little Tokyo.

It was still very early in the morning, so it was quite peaceful. We walked by the LA Times building and the Central Community LAPD police station. While passing by a Metro Bike Share station where you can rent a bike for $3.50 for 30 minutes, we decided to do it. It took a little bit of coaxing since two of us were on the fence about going bike riding in DTLA ( I was one of them).  But after some discussion, we got talked into it and I am so glad that we did! It ended up being my favorite part of the day. It was around 8:30 in the morning on a Sunday, so it was very calm. There weren’t a lot of people or cars, so our first time riding bikes in DTLA went smoothly. We rode to the Arts District and before our 30 minutes were up, we parked the bikes at one of the bike share stations and decided to walk to Cafe Gratitude to have a delicious and healthy breakfast. I was very grateful for this breakfast. It happened to be my 2nd favorite part of the day.

DTLA Arts district mural, Little Tokyo, LAPD Central Community police station, Cafe Gratitude

After breakfast, we made our way to Little Tokyo. On the way there, we stopped at a bookstore and passed by some really cool restaurants and apartments. There was a lot of public art spray painted on the sidewalk and murals on the side of the buildings that I found very interesting. I wish I had taken more pictures of them but I only took one.

We finally made it to Little Tokyo. We went to the Japanese Village Plaza Mall where we walked around the shops and stopped for mochi ice cream at Mikawaya.  If you don’t know what Mochi ice cream is, it’s ice cream wrapped in sweet sticky rice dough. The traditional flavors are green tea or vanilla. I picked plum wine for my Mochi ice cream flavor since I’ve never had it before. It was delicious! My friends had cookies and cream and coffee. We also went inside a Japanese grocery market. In there, I bought some Japanese candy for my kids. I can’t wait to go back to Little Tokyo to have lunch and do more exploring and shopping. There are so many sushi restaurants to try and a shabu shabu house. We saw people waiting in long lines to eat at the ramen restaurants. We quickly passed by (but didn’t go in) the Japanese American National Museum and the Higashi Hongashi Buddhist Temple. These places, along with the James Irvine Japanese Garden are places I would like to explore further next time I go to Little Tokyo.

Next stop was Pershing Square. Rather than taking the Metro to get there, we decided to walk it.  At Pershing Square you will find Pershing Square park, Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, Jewelry District, Millennium Biltmore Hotel, and the Richard J. Riordan Central Library. Our purpose of walking there was to see Clifton’s Cafeteria, the Central Library and the Last Bookstore.

Bradbury Building view of the glass ceiling

We stopped at the Bradbury Building which is Downtown’s oldest commercial building (1893). An impressive and very beautiful building made of brick, iron and wood and a really cool ambiance because of the natural lighting coming from the glass ceiling. I liked the bird cage style elevator. You can only explore the lobby area and first stair landing because the rest of the building is still being used for private office space. The steps of the stairs are marble and the railings are iron, so it’s worth it to go up the stairs. I just wish I took better pictures but I guess the pictures wouldn’t do it justice anyway.

The Bradbury Building elevator

We walked through Grand Central Market and saw all the really cool places to eat. It was crowded. There was even a Filipino restaurant, which we are going to try when we go back. We also passed by the Angel’s Flight Railway which leads to the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art).

Filipino restaurant in Grand Central Market
Angel’s Flight Railway

On our way to The Last Bookstore, we walked through a Farmer’s market. It was getting very hot and we had done a lot of walking by then, so I was a sweaty mess. It didn’t help that the Last Bookstore had no air conditioning (neither did the Grand Central Market), but it didn’t matter because they were both awesome.

The Last Bookstore

The Last Bookstore had a bohemian and vintage vibe which I really enjoyed. It’s interesting to know that it used to be a bank. I can see that with the high ceilings and marble pillars.  Filled with old books, it had a musty, vintage smell that only a book lover would love. I loved it. I enjoyed exploring this place especially the upstairs, which they call the Labyrinth. There were books formed into tunnels, books formed into artwork, magnifying glasses hanging from the ceilings and a really cool vault room filled with horror and sci-fi books. There were some artist’s spaces upstairs also and it was interesting to see what they were working on as well as viewing their finished works of art.

The tree in the middle of Clifton’s Cafeteria

Clifton’s Cafeteria was very cool. It had that 1930’s vibe and I loved exploring it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to eat here. It was actually the plan, but because we had already eaten our spontaneous breakfast at Cafe Gratitude after our spontaneous bike ride, we were still full. So we just explored but we are definitely going back to eat there.

Besides, we wanted to save our tummies for black ice cream. We went to Little Damage where they sell black soft serve ice cream in black ice cream cones. The flavor of the black ice cream is strawberry cheesecake. It’s dyed black with activated charcoal. Ironically, none of us ended up getting black ice cream which was the plan. Instead we got Unicorn Tears (blue ice cream with vanilla birthday cake flavor) and the Salted Coffeve (light salted caramel w/ a hint of coffee). We were lucky. We beat the lines. There weren’t many people there when we arrived. I had heard that the wait time in line is about 45 minutes and luckily, we didn’t experience that. However, we noticed that while we were eating our ice cream, a very long line had formed. We were grateful that we didn’t have to wait so long for our little expensive treat ($6, $7 if you want a black cone).

My $6 cup of Unicorn Tears with free sprinkles sans black cone

More walking, sweating and about 15,000 steps later (for me, because I’m short and take small steps) and we made it the Central Library. On the way there, we passed by the Jewelry District and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. We saw that they have afternoon tea there. That sounds like alot of fun.

Central Library ceiling art

The Central Library is an awesome library and the best part, it’s air conditioned! A perfect place to end our day after all the walking that we did. We did a little exploring, checked out the exhibit which was “Pintando: the Colors of Education, Art in Textbooks of the Mexican Educational System and admired the art on the ceilings and murals on the walls. After our little tour of the library, we sat down to relax. We ended up sitting for awhile. It was very comfortable. For a minute there, I remembered that we were in the library and realized that we were talking and laughing loudly. I was waiting for a librarian to come up and say “shhhh…”. It never happened. If it did, that would’ve been the icing on the cake for me because I’ve never been shushed by librarian in a library before.

Another walk to the Metro station. This time to take the metro back to the NoHo station so we can go home. The day went smoothly. We were out for 8 1/2 hours so it felt like a work day, but instead of work, we had fun. So much fun. We hit all of the spots we wanted to hit on our list. We never ran out of things to talk about. We had a great time exploring together. Can you believe I took 20,200 steps that day?!? 2 days worth of targeted steps for the day. A world record for me! My friend had taken 15,000 steps. So I’m not sure if my pedometer is broken or if I take little teeny tiny steps because I’m short.

This trip was so historic and so fun and there is still so much left to see in Downtown L.A. Guess what? We’re already planning our next trip, this time with plans to bike DTLA.

Stay tuned…

I am grateful for friends, adventures with friends, bike rides, legs for walking, broken pedometers, metros, old buildings, smelly books, tourists, gratitude food, a bucket list of restaurants we have yet to eat at, mochi ice cream, Japanese candy, expensive soft serve ice cream, air conditioning and invisible librarians.

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