Dinner at Applebee’s

Dinner at Applebee's
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After a full day of shopping, we needed a place to plonk our tired selves down, grab a bite to eat and then continue shopping till they chase us out of the store at closing time. Applebee’s was conveniently nearby so we went for it. There was a good crowd but they managed to find us a table right away.

We ordered the 2 for $20 which comes with 1 appetizer + 2 main dishes (I think). The onion rings came with 2 dips, ranch and barbecue.

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We had the Chicken Tenders which were okay as chicken tenders go.

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And the Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp which Raine swears is the best thing ever and she would definitely go back for more of the same!

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And the Lemon Shrimp Fettucine that came with lots of shrimp and tasted pretty good.

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The servings were plenty for us and we went away with a box of leftover chicken tenders and onion rings. They kept well in the fridge at the hotel and even after more than a day later, they still tasted pretty good when we reheated them at home. A little greasy but still edible.

Ribs at Red Robin

Ribs at Red Robin
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A while back, I posted a question on this blog asking for recommendations on where to eat at, and one of my commenters suggested Red Robin. So Red Robin it was! Steev has been there a couple of times before and said the food is decent. The place was crowded when we got there but we didn’t have to wait long before we got seated.

Water is free at all restaurants (in 3W restaurants, they charge you for water which is and should rightly be a basic human right!). Steev ordered a Coke and ended up getting 7 free refills. Gotta love great food, great service and unlimited refills that come with a smile (not a long face) and in a fresh glass every single time.

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I love ribs but it’s something I rarely order because I don’t like paying through my nose for a rack of skin and bones from some poor, malnourished animal. How happy I am that these ribs are meaty, succulent and full of flavor, and were beautifully grilled and didn’t burn a hole in my wallet. A huge rack of ribs with salad, chicken, fries and an endless supply of ranch, y’all!

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Raine had the chicken and shrimp.

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Steev’s burger and fries which he chomped up in no time and started diving into our portions. A growing boy needs good food, right?

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Of course, we still had leftovers for the next day. Meals in Cali come big and you can’t help but go home with huge bags of leftovers unlike in some places where you lick the platter clean, run up a huge bill for a tiny meal, then go home and be hungry 2 hours later 😆 .

Of stereotypes and luggage space snatchers

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And so it is that when some people find out you’re going away on vacation, they’ll stay up nights to draw up their shopping list for you to take on your vacation so you can shop for them. It’s inevitable that something like this would happen. Growing up, I’ve seen often enough how the grown-ups have been “obligated” to take on such burdens for the sake of not offending someone.

I don’t like to impose on people. I say it’s their vacation, let them enjoy themselves without the burden of your demands hanging over their heads. Since I don’t do it, I don’t appreciate people doing it to me either. If it’s not out of the way and luggage space is not an issue, I might do it but no guarantees. I’m certainly not obligated to do anything on my vacation time except to have myself a great time. Fair?

Inadvertently the friend of a friend (Friend#2) who lives in the Bay Area heard about us coming to town and immediately informed us they had some gifts for us to bring back to our mutual friend (Friend#1). Apparently Friend#2 visits Friend#1 three times a year and he can’t bring those gifts himself? Amazing how some folks think nothing of inconveniencing other people!

Oh, Friend#2 offered to put us up in their home and show us around San Francisco. Being that we don’t know Friend#2 + wife from Adam+Eve, I’m not particularly keen to stay over at their house or have them show us around. This is our family vacation. If we’d wanted to travel with a bunch of strangers, we’d have signed up for a guided tour. And we know San Francisco like the backs of our hands so we really have no need for a couple of self-appointed tourist guides.

As expected, he insisted. We said no. How about lunch or dinner? he insisted. Obviously some people can’t take no for an answer. Finally we had to spell it out – we’ve planned our hotel booking and agenda, thank you very much. I know some folks are all up for exactly this sort of free ride with complete strangers anywhere in the world. I’m not “some folks”.

The issue remained that we still had to meet up somehow so they could pass those gifts to us. Friend#2 suggested we met at the Coach outlet where his wife wanted to do some shopping and where, he told Steev, he was “sure your mom would be shopping” too.

So here’s the thing. Without ever having met me, how could he presume to know me or what I like? Big question mark there! The only thing left to say is, so sorry to disappoint you, old chap, but I don’t do Coach! *faking a British accent, just for the LOLs*

Well, I do own one Coach bag, only one, which I bought wa-ay back in 1997 long before Coach was cool. Beautiful black leather! Classic design and very classy! Coach bags in those days were simple and classy, and rare, a far cry from what they are today. I’m so done with Coach!

But I’m glad he suggested meeting at Coach because it gave me the perfect excuse to send Steev as the messenger and not show up myself. Friend#2 had been insisting from the very start that he wanted to meet me. Unfortunately for him, the feeling is not mutual. I’m a very busy woman with a long shopping list to fulfill. At some store other than Coach, I’m afraid.

It was a bright sunny day but as soon as Steev showed up, it started to rain questions. Friend#2 wasted no time launching into a fullscale interrogation about our family. So typical. My kids know the drill. If you don’t make a hasty enough retreat, you might find yourself charting your family tree up to 5 generations back right there on the sidewalk.

Shopped till we dropped, literally

Shopped till we dropped, literally
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There was no way we could go to San Francisco without working in a bit of retail therapy. Okay, so a bit is a bit of an understatement. First off, the Memorial Day sales are not to be missed. Second of all, this spree constitutes our entire year’s worth of shopping. Once we get our hands on everything our hearts desire, we’re done… for this entire year!

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We snagged a few, only about a dozen pairs of Levi’s jeans (the only brand our family officially wears, for some strange reason), a dozen pairs of shoes (including a pair of Chinese Laundry for myself hohoho), and I-have-no-idea-how-many tops, hoodies and lingerie. This is part of the stash. I don’t think we did too badly 😆 .

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Shopaholics are ingenious at figuring out ways to trick their minds into believing there’s always room for more shopping. So here’s what we did. We would unpack and put away each day’s shopping so when we woke up the next day, it’s like we’d not even started shopping and then we’d be off again, completely guilt-free 😆 .

But first, we had to make room in our suitcase. To do that, we donated several suitcasefuls of unused (I won’t say old because some of the clothes were practically brand new and had not been worn) clothing to Goodwill. At least we know whatever we can’t use is going to a good cause. This is the first of the suitcases we dropped off.

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Next, we ordered 2 more big suitcases online. All in all, we’re very happy with our haul. One of the best ever. Love the prices and quality, and the cool weather that didn’t tire us out. Man, do I love a productive shopping spree! And so we’re done shopping for the year. Yep, you heard me! Done for the rest of the year. How’s that for self-control, huh? 😉

Can’t get enough of San Francisco

Can't get enough of San Francisco
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Just ahead of Memorial Day weekend, we took a road trip to San Francisco. Yes, you heard me – a road trip. This from a person who does not drive long distance, period, but when I’m in Cali, I’m a whole different animal. This is one place where I could do road trips every day. The roads are safe, barely any idiotic drivers to stress over, no toll, the radio stations rock and the scenery is awesome 😀 .

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San Francisco is beautiful this time of year. The weather is chilly, windy and sunny all at the same time. Here we are, approaching the Golden Gate Bridge which stands as majestic as when I last left it. Not a big parking lot here and it was full. Still we managed to get a parking spot within 10 minutes. Now tell me, how amazing is that!

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A short drive from the Golden Gate Bridge is the Palace of Fine Arts. It was love at first sight for me when I visited it during my college days. I’m a sucker for Greek and Roman architecture, what can I say? I could sit on a park bench and soak in the beauty of the fountain, swans and the buildings themselves for hours… and I’ve done it before too. The people who live in the homes just across the street are so-ooo lucky.

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We made a quick stop at Fisherman’s Wharf which is a lot busier than before, partly because the road running through it is now under construction. We walked around looking for my regular clam chowder joint but couldn’t find it *sobs*. But we did chance upon a sub (not the kind they serve at Subway). This was the real thang, the USS Pampanito, docked so close to shore I could stretch out my hand and touch it, almost.

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I’ve been to San Francisco countless times, yet its roller-coaster roads and oh-so-cute homes never fail to mesmerize me. They’re even prettier at night when the lights are on and you can get a sneak peek of the cozy insides.

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Can you tell that I love San Francisco, “the city that rocks, the city that never stops, we built this city….”? No? Well, okay 😀 .

Quick lunch at Whole Foods

Quick lunch at Whole Foods
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Whenever we want a quick, healthy meal without having to roll up our sleeves, Whole Foods is the place we head to. Aside from the fact that Whole Foods is where many Hollywood celebs do their grocery shopping, they have a buffet spread that’s always interesting and always changing so you never know what you’re going to find on any particular day.

My lunch selection of a nut and berry salad, steamed broccoli, chicken tikka and potatoes. It doesn’t look like a lot but it’s pretty filling.

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Raine’s had mac and cheese, steamed broccoli, chicken tikka and potatoes, and some cantaloupe. She was disappointed they didn’t have those yummy turkey cubes that we all love.

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Whenever Steev ate there, he would also grab a few boxes to go so he wouldn’t need to cook for the next few meals. The food is charged by weight and features quite a selection from salads to pastas and pizzas. And the plates, boxes and napkins are earth-friendly too 😀 .

Have you ever tried the food buffet at Whole Foods? What do you think of the selection?

Wednesday Hodgepodge 125

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1. May is National Blood Pressure Month…what sends yours soaring, either literally or figuratively? What calms you down? When did you last have your bp checked?

Nothing much except for my usual gripes about rudeness, selfishness, bad attitudes and having no concept of personal space and respect for others, that’s all. But not here, not now, I’m having too much fun 😀 .

2. You just found $1-what do you spend it on? How about 10$ 100?

Add it to my wallet and spend it on retail therapy which I’m doing a lot of lately.

3. Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food has been proposed, but not enacted in the US. How much attention do you give food labels before you buy? Are you in favor of labeling if it means an increase in food prices? Is this an issue you’ve been following and feel strongly about, or is this the first you’ve heard of the controversy?

I do read food labels, I think they’re important. It depends, there are many that just can’t be trusted. For instance, I’ve come across products with a 1 or 2 year expiry that say “No Preservatives” on the label. How is that even possible? There’s this thing called business ethics. I don’t mind paying more if companies would play by it and be truthful about what they’re really putting in our food.

4. May 15th marks the birthdate of Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz. At this point in time, are you more in need of brains, courage, heart, or a trip back home? Explain.

I feel like I’ve just made a trip back home to California. This is where my heart is at.

5. “There’s no place like home” is an oft repeated line from Baum’s book. When was the last time you felt the truth of that statement?

Right now. I’m happiest when I am here.

6. Steak…yes please or no thank you? What cut do you prefer and how do you like yours cooked? Sauce or no sauce? Besides your own kitchen, where’s a place you like to go to get a great steak?

I don’t eat steak often but I’ve recently fallen in love with the tri-tip taco which is totally out of this world.

7. When was the last time you were in a genuine hurry?

Coming into California last weekend, we had back-to-back flights with less than a hour’s layover in Hong Kong. This meant getting off the flight, trying to make our way through the airport and getting into an impossibly long line to board our connecting flight to San Francisco – all within less than an hour. It was like running a marathon with a 16-hour flight thrown in.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Loving the long days. The sun is pouring in at 6a and sets at 8p. Been waking up with a smile in my heart, eating a lot, shopping a lot and cooking for my son. Happy days! Hope you’re having a great spring.

Driving, love renewed

Driving, love renewed
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We hopped off the plane in San Francisco after a 16-hour flight and having slept only an hour on the plane, no thanks to the hyperactive woman sitting beside me who kept moving about and disturbing my sleep.

So on with the drive after a quick pastry lunch before leaving the airport…

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Long distance driving, for someone like me who otherwise avoids road trips like the plague, is easy and relatively safe. No contending with the kind of crazies I’m used to. No potholed highways, no speeding trucks on the fast lane, no tail gaters, no lane cutters. My love for driving is renewed.

With Raine as my navigator, we headed out. Midway through, zombied and jetlagged, we pulled up at a Walmart parking lot to catch some zzz’s and make a bathroom run. And then we were off again, arriving at Steev’s apartment just in time to rush back out for dinner at Chili’s and a quick grocery run. Of course, I was thrilled to see Steev again. My poor son who has been starved his mama’s cooking for far too long.

The eagle has landed

The eagle has landed
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… in sunny California. Soaring high across the Pacific and I’m home 😀 ! Well, it sure feels like home. Lived and loved this place for oh so long.

We just woke up to beautiful gray skies and 60 degrees outside. Woohoo, soo cool and crisp as was last night I practically danced outside. I saw flowers as I was driving in and yes, they’re blooming!

Our first meal at our usual San Francisco airport bake shop.

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Making breakfast. Lots to do today. Catch y’all later…

A photo to be proud of…

A photo to be proud of...
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but I wasn’t the one who took it. I’m a strictly point-and-click kind of girl. But I guess I can claim half-credit since I gave birth to the person who took this shot 😆 .

Yup, my son was snapping away with his kick*ss camera (that’s why he’s the pro) while we were enjoying the show. This photo is unedited and it’s one of my favorite photos of all time.

Killer whales are so amazingly beautiful and graceful, aren’t they, with skin like dye leather and that smooth, flawless complexion? 😉

Going Green with the Grizls
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