Category Archives: Culture

Adventures in Atlanta

A few weeks ago I visited Atlanta for the first time and truly enjoyed my time there. I definitely felt that Southern charm and hospitality everywhere I went! I was able to do a little bit of everything, from visiting Underground Atlanta, trying real Southern cuisine, having fun at the World of Coca Cola, checking out the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and exploring the Centennial Olympic Park.

Underground Atlanta

This is an underground mall / shopping area which opened in 1969 as a “city beneath the streets,” in the Five Points neighborhood of downtown Atlanta.

Atlanta_Underground Train

Mary Mac’s Tea Room

This restaurant has been around since 1945 and is well known. The restaurant has adorable windows on the outside with white trim and colorful flowers. The interior is also lovely with a spacious and homey dining room.

Atlanta_Mary Mac

Chicken Pot Pie: The chicken pot pie had crust on top, as well as plenty of sauce. The filling was pretty good with peas, carrots, and celery, but there definitely wasn’t enough chicken. While the vegetables and chicken were very tender, I thought the filling could have used more seasoning. The crust was yummy, but difficult to get off the sides of the dish.

Vegetable and Cheese Souffle: Amazing! Incredibly cheesy with plenty of tasty and fresh corn and zucchini, all cooked in a delicious crispiness.

Sweet Potato Souffle: Like a sweet potato mash and came with a good amount of melted marshmallow on top. It was absolutely delicious and had a dollop of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and sweet syrup.

Peach Cobbler: This dessert was very good, with a ton of golden sweet peaches, their juices and some crust on top. It tasted so good: refreshing and not too sweet.

World of Coca Cola

I had a fun time interacting with different exhibits… My favorites included hugging the Coca Cola polar bear, experiencing the 4D movie, Taste it room where there were 100 flavors of Coke from all over the world, Milestones of Refreshment and Pop Culture Gallery.

Atlanta_Coca cola collage

Atlanta_Coca Cola Bear

Atlanta_coca cola flavors

In the Taste It room, drinks are separated into continents and really interesting… Some of my favorites: Bibo Candy Pine-Nut from Africa which truly did taste like pineapple + coconut candy! and a Strawberry flavored one.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Center

“Established in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”) has been a global destination, resource center and community institution for over a quarter century.”

Atlanta_MLK grave

This is the memorial tomb of Martin Luther King, Jr and his wife, Coretta Scott King. It is onstructed of Georgia marble, a timeless acknowledgement of Kings’ southern roots.

Atlanta_MLK house

Standing at the birth place of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Atlanta_MLK me

Here I am standing in solidarity with all who have marched and fought for social change, in the past, present and future.

Busy Bee Cafe

This restaurant claims to have the best fried chicken in Atlanta. While I am not sure if that is the case, they do serve some pretty darn delicious fried chicken!

Atlanta_Busy Bee Cafe

Cornbread: We were given cornbread that came in little muffin-like pieces and they were piping warm and so good! There was honey butter but even without the butter, the cornbread was buttery and melted in your mouth.

Fried Chicken: Absolutely delicious and had extremely flavorful crispy skin. I loved the crunchiness of the skin and the chicken itself was tender, succulent, wonderful. It definitely was some of the best chicken I have ever had!

Fried Okra: Little adorable bites and incredibly well seasoned. Each bite was encased in a crunchy batter and the little okra inside was fresh and tasty.

Blackberry Cobbler: It was a mess of dark purple berry with crust and really yummy, sweet and delectable. I just wish there was more crust that came witih it because the combination of crust and blackberry was the best.

Centennial Olympic Park

This park is absolutely gorgeous, with tons of grassy area perfect for picnics, water fountains and waterfalls, cool rock formations, pretty and colorful flowers and various Olympic statues throughout.

Atlanta_Park waterfalls

Atlanta_Park flowers

Atlanta_Park entrance

It was wonderful trip and I’m glad I got to experience a bit of what Atlanta has to offer!

 

 

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Sightseeing in Seattle

I had the opportunity to visit one of my friends in Seattle during New Year’s Eve weekend and had an amazing time exploring the city. We opted to purchase the Seattle CityPASS, which gave us admission to the following 5 attractions and helped us save 47%.

  • Space Needle
  • Seattle Aquarium
  • Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
  • Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) OR Woodland Park Zoo
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass OR Pacific Science Center

Day One

Seattle Aquarium

First, my friend and I headed to the Pier and the Seattle Aquarium.

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One unique exhibit was the Underwater Dome, which is “an undersea dome with a 360º view into a mammoth 400,000-gallon tank filled with hundreds of Puget Sound fish,” such as salmon, lingcod, sharks, sturgeon and more!

I also liked the Pacific Coral Reef, which displayed gorgeous and colorful fish and coral in hues of pink, blue, orange and yellow.

seattle-aquarium-fish

The Marine Mammals exhibit was super cute and included playful sea otters, river otters, fur seals and harbor seals. Life on the Edge was really cool and gave us the chance to touch the sea life of Puget Sound tide pools… Everything from sea cucumbers, sea urchins, hermit crabs and sea stars!

seattle-aquarium-tide-pool
Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour  

After the aquarium was the Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour. It was lovely to see the different skyline and views of Seattle as the cruise boat traveled around the Puget Sound. Our tour guide was wonderful and shared a lot of interesting information about Puget Sound and about Seattle as a city. For example, even though stereotypically Seattle is thought to get a lot of rain, Seattle is not even in the top 5 cities in the U.S. that receives the most rainfall. However, Seattle is one of the top foggiest cities in the U.S.

seattle-harbor-cruise

Pike Place Market

I loved Pike Place Market, which is a public marketplace, kind of like a massive and bustling farmer’s market with all kinds of specialty items: “Within the nine-acre historic district you’ll discover dozens of farmers, a bustling crafts market, and more than 200 unique owner-operated shops. There are more than 80 restaurants to tempt you, from take-out counters specializing in donuts to fine dining establishments.” I had a great time sampling delicious fruit, jams, honey, chocolate pasta, vinegar, yogurt and much more!

seattle-pike-place-market

Gum Wall

The Gum Wall wasn’t on my list of things I needed to see, but since it was right near Pike Place Market, we passed through and it was an interesting array of different colored chewed up pieces of gum covering the brick walls.

seattle-gum-wall

Day Two

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass was one of my favorite attractions while visiting Seattle. This place features the work and designs of Dale Chihuly’s breathtaking blown glass masterpieces and is right near the Space Needle (in fact, there is an amazing view of the Space Needle in the outdoor garden area).

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Within this museum is the Persian Ceiling (one of my favorites) where the entire ceiling is covered with brightly colored and lit plant/flower-like designs. The entire room is lit up in white, pink, yellow, green and it is an amazing sight to behold! My friend was impressed by the lighting, while I marveled at the incredible artistry of the beautiful glass above me on the ceiling.

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After that, there is a room filled with huge yellow flat flowers; tall red, green, purple, blue reeds and a massive structure with hot pink bottom and yellow top reaching and curling in all directions. This led to the Ikebana and Float Boat (another favorite), which showed of two botas. One had multi-colored and different shaped balls in and around the boat, while the other had a hodgepodge of plant/flower-like and wavy lines in brilliant bright hues of the rainbow. This was made even more incredible with the stark black background.

Seattle Chihuly Boat.JPG

My absolute favorite part of the entire place was by far the Glasshouse, where there was an incredible display of orange, yellow and reddish flowers on the ceiling – All made of clear gorgeous glass, against the lights and high glass dome.

seattle-chihuly-glasshouseVenturing outside, there are lovely glass within the real garden. There were tall candle-like structures, huge balls, more twisty designs and I liked the part with a symphony of blue hues the best.

Kerry Park

In the evening, before heading to the Space Needle, we stopped by Kerry Park and got to see a spectacular view of the entire city of Seattle, with the Space Needle being front and center.

Space Needle

The Observation Deck at the Space Needle is 520 feet high and has a 360 degree panorama of Seattle and it is so beautiful to see all the lights of downtown Seattle. The view was truly breathtaking.

seattle-space-needle-night

Day Three

Space Needle

We decided to check out the Space Needle when it was light out so that we could experience the view in the daylight. Luckily, it was a clear day out so we were able to see everything, from the snow-topped mountain ranges, Elliot Bay, Puget Sound, the buildings and sights of downtown Seattle.

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seattle-space-needle-day

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

The last stop was Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) which was awesome and fun. The current special exhibit is “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds” and costs $5 to go through it.

seattle-mopop-star-trek

My favorite exhibit (no longer at the museum) was “World of WearableArt,” which featured mannequins sporting a pretty glittery pink gown in glass material, a red convertible, a Gothic church building and other equally unique outfits. I also really enjoyed the “Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic” exhibit because it transported me to a different and magical world. There was memorabilia from The Wizard of Oz, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Chronicles of Narnia. Another exhibit of interest to me was the “Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film,” which includes “a laboratory-worthy wall of artifacts holds a plethora of film props that include the Nighthawk stake from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the axe from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and the facehugger from the 1979 Alien.” We also checked out: “Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction,” “Indie Game Revolution,” and ones for Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana.

seattle-mopop-collage

I truly enjoyed experiencing what Seattle has to offer and found it to be a lovely and charming city with great character.

seattle-space-needle-w-lights

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Bronycon 2015

A few weekends ago (August 7-9, 2015) I traveled to Baltimore, MD meeting up with friends to go to BronyCon, which is the largest convention for fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. For Bronycon, I dressed in purple and glitter (wearing a beautiful pale purple tulle skirt that my friend made for me), in the style of Twilight Sparkle. Here, I am pictured with the friendly Applejack!

bronycon_applejackThere were over hundred panels and activities at Bronycon this year. Some of panels were dedicated to the convention’s guests of honor, as well as panels from members of the fanbase on art, music, writing, video productions, and other community aspects. The convention also provided several activity rooms, such as for arts and crafts, video games, cosplay and card game tournaments.

The following were some of my favorite events:

Bronypalooza: A musical concert over two nights, featuring fan musicians, such as Jeff Burgess & the Bad Mares, SaxBrony, ElieMonty, Seventh Element, ArtAttack, Rhyme Flow, Eurobeat Brony and many more!

bronypaloozaCosplay/Costumes: I loved seeing all the gorgeous, flowing, handmade costumes throughout the conference. Below, I am pictured with Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.

Bronycon_fluttershyGrand Galloping Gala: Lovely and lively dance party, from classical music to more energetic tunes.

Hooves Line is it Anyway?: A fun-filled hilarious ponified-version of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” by talented actors.

Marketplace: Over 200 vendors selling handmade art, along with selected retail vendors with licensed My Little Pony merchandise, such as the ever popular plushies and games.

bronycon_purple dressbronycon_kidsHere is some of the merchandise that I purchased: Luna bag, glittery soap and a gorgeous drawing of Princess Celestia.

bronycon_merchOpen Mic: An eclectic mix of My Little Pony related poetry, singing, skits.

Also, while walking around the Baltimore Convention Center, we came across some great photo ops with Furries!

bronycon_furriesbronycon_furryI also enjoyed the conference’s close proximity to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which my friends and I explored during the late afternoons and evenings, enjoying several delicious meals in the area.

bronycon_inner harborOverall, I had an amazingly fun adventure-filled weekend at Bronycon, and I am so happy I got to share this experience with awesome friends.

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Amazing Grace on Broadway

amazinggrace_outsideI got the chance to see “Amazing Grace” during the previews and am so glad I did! This Broadway musical is based on a true story that tells the tale of how John Newton penned the hymn, “Amazing Grace.” There is an amazing back story to the song that was about slavery, love, bravery.

amazinggrace_stage
I was completely mesmerized by the show from the very first moment to the last. The musical really takes the audience on a journey… There were a lot of tough and emotional scenes, especially regarding slave trade. The musical gave us a glimpse of the brutality in which the imprisoned slaves were treated. I found myself feeling deeply for the slaves, and tearing up on quite a few occasions. Despite the hard to watch moments, there were many inspirational moments and gestures of kindness, as well.

The actors were superb and really captured the audience’s attention with their witty dialogue and beautiful singing. The songs were wonderful: Heartfelt, full of meaning and all the actors had gorgeous voices that harmonized perfectly.

The main actors were amazing… Josh Young who played John Newton was handsome, manly and stubborn. His character changed drastically during the show and Young portrayed this gracefully. Erin Mackey played Mary Catlett, Newton’s love interest and she was absolutely stunningly gorgeous, courageous, compassionate and wonderful. Her soprano voice was pure delight to the ears.

There were also a few characters I did not care for, but actually “loved to hate” – They played their villainous parts well.

I really liked the lavish costumes as well. The gowns were extravagant in all different colors with lots of pretty lace and material. The outfits for the men were sharp and smart.

Overall, “Amazing Grace” was powerful, compelling and beautiful. It will make you cry, laugh and feel.

amazinggrace_me

 

AMAZING GRACE at Nederlander Theatre
208 W 41 St
New York, NY

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Holidays in Monterey

I spent the holidays in Monterey, California visiting with family and friends. It felt wonderful to be home for a couple weeks and enjoyed the home cooking, baking, trying new restaurants, watching movies, shopping, going to the aquarium/downtown/Fisherman’s Wharf, catching up with friends and getting into the Christmas spirit of joy, love and wonder.

Here are from scenes from around the town of Monterey.

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Seasons Greetings from Fisherman’s Wharf

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Boats at Fisherman’s Wharf

Christmas Tree at Del Monte Shopping Center

I also enjoyed home cooking. One of the first meals I had back home was pork chops with onion, fried rice (made with purple rice), salad and a medley of colorful vegetables: Carrots, mushroom, celery. Everything tasted fresh, flavorful and wonderful.

Monterey2014_food
Another one of my favorite meals was made at a family friend’s place. We had Filipino style noodles with chicken, shrimp, carrots and lettuce. Then we made some fish with onions and shrimp with celery. For dessert, an assortment of cookies (some of them made by me!)

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I loved the homemade lamb chop dish that I helped make. The lamb was seasoned perfectly and tasted tender and delicious. We also added onion and potato, which paired beautifully with the lamb.

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On Christmas day, some family friends came over and we made Chinese steamed dumplings. We created the filling of sticky rice, mushrooms, meat and green onion from scratch and wrapped it in the dumpling skins. After that, they were steamed and they came out a bit soft but still very tasty, especially with some spicy soy sauce.

 

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I made some baked goods as well… The classic chocolate chip cookies and also Christmas cookies with nuts and raisin filling, which we make every holiday season.

Monterey2014_cookies

We had fun getting into the holiday spirit by decorating the house with stockings over the fireplace, poinsettias and other flowers, mini Christmas tree…

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Since we didn’t have an actual Christmas tree, we visited family friends who did.

Monterey2014_xmas tree

On Christmas Eve, I had a chance to go to Candy Cane Lane (yes, that is an actual street name) and each house has to decorate on the outside so there is are tons of beautiful lights, displays and a center area with sleigh, reindeer, life size gingerbread house and more. It’s like a magical Christmas Winter Wonderland!

Monterey2014_candy cane lane 2

Monterey2014_candy cane lane

Below was one of my favorite decorated houses. I just loved the sparkling lights, the bits of blue and red in between the white and the reindeer going up to the chimney! I thought it was both sophisticated and adorable at the same time.

Monterey2014_lightsChristmas morning I made French toast then we opened presents.

Monterey2014_xmas day
We had dinner at Benihana, where I had a $30 gift certificate for my birthday. We had a great time and great meal there, as usual. It is always fun to watch the chef prepare our meals with finesse and skill. I ordered a passion fruit smoothie with strawberry swirls which was sweet, refreshing and delightful. I would have liked a bit more strawberry flavor though. For my meal, I had Filet Mignon and shrimp, which came with a multitude of sides and appetizers including soup, salad, chicken fried rice, shrimp and vegetables: Mushroom, zucchini and onion. Everything was well made and delicious. I also had chocolate ice cream which came with a lit candle in it and one of the servers played the drums and sang Happy Birthday!

Monterey2014_benihanaSoon after Christmas (2 days), it was my birthday! A friend of mine took me to Carmel for exploring, shopping and lunch at Cypress Inn, a super cute place owned by Doris Day, where they allow dogs. I had the fish and chips, which came with garlic french fries and it tasted amazing. The fish was fried to perfection with great flavor and the french fries were crispy and well seasoned.

Monterey2014_carmel

Afterwards, I came home to a lovely surprise party! It was filled with amazing friends, great food, wonderful gifts and a delectable ice cream cake.

Monterey2014_cake

Below are some presents that I received: Clothes, money, scarves, accessories, chocolate and more. Some of my favorite gifts: A gorgeous gold heart necklace with diamonds and a scrapbook of Memories/my life that was made with love and care.

Monterey2014_gifts

Monterey2014_scrapbook

I had a wonderful holiday back home in California and hope that all your holidays were also beautiful and filled with love, family, friends, spectacular food and fun!

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Exploring Shanghai 2014

breakfast

I had an amazing time in China! I stayed with family in Shanghai, China most of the time, but we also took little trips to nearby smaller towns: Suzhou and Ningbo. (More on that later!)

I really enjoyed sightseeing at the Bund (with the view of the waterfront and Oriental Pearl Tower), Nanjing Lu and other famous shopping streets, beautiful malls, lovely botanical gardens, and Wild Animal Park (Z00), where we got to see lions, tigers/white tigers, cheetahs and bears up close in their natural habitat! Here are some photos from my adventures:

The Bund

The Bund

Shopping Street with the Best Bargains

Shopping Street with the Best Bargains

Purchases: Michael Kors & Dior handbags; Tea; Paris notebooks; London scarf

Purchases: Michael Kors & Dior handbags; Tea; Paris notebooks; London scarf

Mall

Mall

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

Close up of Tiger at Wild Animal Park

Close up of Tiger at Wild Animal Park

Feeding Baby White Tiger at Wild Animal Park

Feeding Baby White Tiger at Wild Animal Park

Family in China

Family in China

I will be adding more photos and stories of my experience in China soon!

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Weekend in Toronto

Toronto

A friend and I spent the Labor Day weekend in Toronto, Canada and had such an amazing time. In the short time that we were there, we were able to cover many of the sightseeing hot spots: Kensington Market, Eaton Centre, St. Lawrence Market, CN Tower, High Park, Casa Loma (Castle on the Hill) which was absolutely gorgeous, Royal Ontario Museum, as well as famous neighborhoods and streets. Favorites include Bloor Street West, Queen Street, Chinatown, Korea Town, and more…

Toronto, Day 1:

Toronto_Kensington Market

Kensington Market/Chinatown

Toronto_Eaton Centre

Toronto Eaton Centre, St. Lawrence Market, Yonge-Dundas Square

Toronto_CN Tower

CN Tower Experience

In the evening, we headed to the Distillery District but did not find it to be a very happening place, so we continued on our way and had dinner at an Indian restaurant called Bombay Palace. It was a nice, quiet spot with wonderful mango lassi and tandoori chicken/prawn/sausage/naan bread special that came on a sizzling plate.

Toronto, Day 2:

Toronto_Dupont

Dupont Subway Station

Toronto_High Park

High Park: Maple Leaf Bed

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In front of Casa Loma

Toronto_Casa Loma

Casa Loma

After Casa Loma, we headed to Honest Ed’s, a huge discount store. We were quite hungry so our next destination was Baton Rouge, where we ordered the baby back pork ribs which were delicious! They were cooked perfectly and slightly crispy. I also enjoyed the two sides: French fries and rice pilaf.

When we were done eating, we made our way to one of the famous streets (and my favorite street) of Toronto: Bloor Street West. We walked along Bloor St West from the HR department store with hot pink flags, and went past the high end shops, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Bata Shoe Museum, University of Toronto, cute little shops and eateries (including Greg’s Ice cream where I had the Coffee Toffee flavor which was truly delectable and a perfect balance of rich coffee and sweet toffee), Korea Town and more!

Toronto_Bloor St

My Favorite Street: Bloor St. West

Toronto, Day 3

Today was the last day so I spent the morning at the Royal Ontario Museum which is quite cool with all different types of exhibits, ranging from fashion to Asian, to geology, to mammals and dinosaurs, from Neoclassical to Renaissance, from Greek to Roman and so much more.

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Royal Ontario Museum

Toronto ROM_Fashion

Royal Ontario Museum Fashion Exhibit

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Royal Ontario Museum Million Dollar Coin

I really enjoyed my time in Toronto, Canada and would definitely return!

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Outside at the CN Tower

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