How To Spend 8 Days In Cuba

Most times we are limited to how much time we take of from work and general responsibilities to go traveling.  Especially with a little one at home, I wanted to plan enough time to really experience the Cuban culture but didn’t want to spend too much time away from her.  That being said, you also want to give yourself some time to relax and recharge, and not feel like you are coming back stressed from the trip’s itinerary. After travel time, my trip ended up being about 8 days in Cuba.  I tried to get a little bit of everything, but of course you won’t be able to get everything in such a limited time.  My cousin and I kept to a certain region of the country to not spend additional time in traveling, but I would love to return one day and learn about the rest.  I am really […]

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What To Eat In Sweden

As I travel, I love to find some things that would be considered a favorite or local dish.  Some that I haven’t tried before and some that I have had but would like to try it from the source.  With Sweden, I don’t think I knew much of what they had besides Swedish meatballs from Ikea, and Swedish sticky buns that I know from Ann Sather’s in Chicago. I’ve made a list of things that a first timer in Sweden should definitely check out. Swedish meatballs We went to Östermalms Saluhall, off Östermalmstorg, is a great place to try different things.  They have isles of vendors, like a farmer’s market but with lots of food stalls to try different things.  We caught some attitude from the folks at Melanders after ordering the meatballs.  They weren’t bad, but the experience we had there makes us never want to return.  Instead, we stopped by Husman’s […]

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What to Do and What NOT to Do in Copenhagen

In most of my travels, I’ve generally come in with a plan of a couple things I would like to see with some wiggle room for exploring.  This was not unlike my most recent trip to Denmark.  With such a range of activities available to us in Copenhagen, I found myself (with my husband and daughter) figuring out some of our favorite things by experimentation.  The only thing we made sure to catch on a certain date was Halloween at Tivoli Gardens, other than that we let our level of energy and the weather decide on what we would go to next.  In some cases, it was a comedy of errors, but even with that, we made some amazing memories in this city. DO… get to Christiania.  DON’T… take photos on “Pusher Street”. Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen is basically government land that had been occupied and taken over by squatters […]

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What to Eat in Norway

After traveling to Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, I’ve grown a deep appreciation for some Scandinavian goodies. There’s a general sense of fresh seafoods, the use of local herbs, game meats and unique berries that we loved exploring out there. Generally, people had told us how food is pretty expensive out there, which is the case if you plan on eating in fancier restaurants the whole time. We found lots of grocery stores with food prices similar to what we pay out here in the Bay Area. Even convenience stores like 7-11 have a quality selection of cheeses and breads, so we picked up quick foods to go throughout the trip. I really miss the food in Norway and have found myself already trying to re-create dishes back here in Oakland.  As I go through the photos, my mouth can’t help but water at the sight. Keep in mind, I […]

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24 Hours in Oslo with Parents and a Little One

My retired parents spend about half the year in my childhood neighborhood in Illinois, and the other half of the year all the way out in the Philippines.  Neither place is anywhere by my daughter in Oakland.  My husband and I both had grandparents raising us in our childhood, and we sometimes worry that my daughter doesn’t have enough of that same quality time. We recently took a trip with them to Norway, and spent some time in Oslo together.  The idea of trying to experience a new city is a little daunting because we would be in a larger group, and at different stages of life’s interests and general fitness.  I can see the benefit and prefer to travel in small groups when necessary, but I knew some adjustments would need to be made to enjoy our time together and see all that we wanted to see. As we […]

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Making Family Traditions at a Colorful and Dry Yosemite

Ever since living here in California, I had only visited Yosemite in the springtime.  There’s something so fresh and clean about springtime there, with the falls gushing with water, crisp cold air, and sometimes a bit of snow on the ground.  We usually book a yurt with Yosemite Lakes Campground, just outside the park, so we’ve been a little spoiled by heated structures to relax in white we are there.  Going in the off-season also offers us a pretty open park, away from crowds and traffic, where we can really feel like we’ve escaped. This year, the campground was pretty booked and had availability in October.  With all the other things we had planned this month, it was a little inconvenient, but we booked it anyway and had hoped we could make it work.  The group of friends we go with changes slightly most years, and this time was no […]

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The Importance of Cooking with Kids

Last week, I had the pleasure of baking some Filipino bread rolls, called Pandesal, with Evie’s transitional kindergarten class.  The whole experience is so important for my family and I not only to share some of our culture with her school, but also to aid in her development. I have this memory of being in the second grade and bringing a Filipino steamed pork bun to school that I tell people often.  Kid’s can be mean when they don’t understand, and I was ridiculed for bringing such a thing to lunch.  Once home, I asked my mom to pack me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because I was so mortified to bring more Filipino food. Years later, my daughter is in school and I am making her lunches.  I am pleased to say her school encourages having various fare, encouraging families to share their culture to give students a sense […]

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A Quick 24 Hours in San Diego

Back when we were deciding where to move to when exiting Chicago, San Diego was actually my first choice.  I knew I wanted to be in California, and I knew that I had a lot of family there for when I got homesick.  As much time as we’ve spent in Los Angeles, or even Anaheim, I had not gone back to visit San Diego since first moving out to the Bay Area about 8 years ago. I have been wanting to go back for the past 4 years and introduce everyone to Evie, especially to my Auntie out there who always took care of my siblings and I when we came to visit on family vacations.  We’ve talked about spending the day at Legoland, or taking her to visit the pandas at San Diego Zoo.  It was finally time to stop talking about it and make a trip there. To […]

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Road Trip to LA and the Raising Bertie Premier

When our friend, Jon, told us that there was a premier for his new movie in Los Angeles, we jumped at the opportunity to be there with him.  He’s one of my husband’s oldest friends, my old roommate here in Oakland, one of our best men at our wedding, my wii-bowling nemesis, the official officiant for my wedding, and one of the most talented filmmaker and photographer I know. He left us out in Oakland one day to do some filming for a documentary in North Carolina and told us he would be back in a month or two.  He never returned.  As much as we missed him, we knew how important this was and we grew attached to the characters when he would talk about them.  It was a labor of love, filming over the span of six years, and anyone would be able to see the heart and soul […]

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Eating Around the Bay: 8 Places We Love to Show Off

August ended up being a pretty busy month for having visitors around.  Maybe it’s just a natural reaction to the fall season when we all need to get that one last vacation in.  Having just gone on vacation last month, and having some travel plans coming up, it’s nice to take some time to just stay home.  Luckily for us, staying around the Bay always feels like a pseudo vacation when we have company. I think in the matter of one month we had about 8 visitors!  Some have never been here, some used to live here, and some haven’t been here to visit in a couple years.  Whichever the case, I was glad to have all of them around to catch up with. Whenever a visitor comes around, we try to take them out to some of our favorite places to eat or drink, so I wanted to share […]

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