Spring Break: Day 1: Solvang

It’s been a while, friends. I’ve been well for the most part, living my day to day as normally I have ever felt since being diagnosed almost three years ago. There are days when fatigue or emotions get a hold of me and I lay in bed most of the day, but I am inherently an active person and I try to muster up energy and keep myself busy when I’m feeling unlike myself. With the onset of warmer weather and spring blossoms all around, I am feeling well and happy. Each season is such a gift, I am thankful I can enjoy another spring.

Near the end of March, my family and I took a short trip to Solvang, Santa Barbara, and Ojai (pronounced OH-ha-ee) during Elaine’s spring break. We enjoyed another side of California that we had forgotten about–one that is peaceful and green with prairies and cows and horses, so different from the urban beach cities of LA. A taste of bucolic country near the city hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.

We started our trip in Solvang with typical touristy activities: walking around the Danish-inspired town eating Danishes, taking pictures in the giant red shoe and in front of windmills, and my favorite which was visiting a year-round Christmas shop. Because of our four-year-old, we also sought out a park in which she could run around and play. There was a unique park that I found online, but for some reason we couldn’t find its location because it wasn’t where some links were directing us. I initially saw that it was located at Hans Christian Andersen Park, but it turned out to be a skate park surrounded by greenery with tables, benches, and an everyday playground. It was great, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. Later I found out the park was a mile and half away from city-center, so we decided to hang around town for a bit and head to the park as our last stop before heading to Santa Barbara. The park was called Sunny Fields Park. I highly recommend stopping by if you have kids of your own.

Next post: Day 2 in Santa Barbara.


Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood

Every year Kaiser hosts an evening at Universal Studios for its employees and their families. We pay for discounted tickets and are admitted at 3pm and can stay until midnight. The park closes for non-Kaiser-family-people at 8pm, so the park is somewhat empty from 8pm-12am. Last year we went with my brother and sister.

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This year we went with my husband’s brother and my sister. It felt like we had a more leisurely time last year and were able to do so much: ride more rides, play some games at booths, participate in the kid’s corner, take a bunch of green-screen photos, eat leisurely, take photos with different costumed characters, sit and drink butter beer.  This year we didn’t do much in the same amount of time, and we felt rushed:  part of the reason may be because we spent 2+ hours in line to ride Studio Tour (we didn’t ride this last year).  You’d think we’d be pros by now with the number of theme parks we’ve visited in the past year, but it seems we are becoming more and more like novices and by our next visit we’ll be entering and leaving the park without having accomplished anything. Mind-boggling.

 

 

Breakfast Breakdown

The other night at the dinner table, we were discussing favorite foods and my husband said my favorite food would be brunch. “It wouldn’t be a food. It would be brunch,” he said. And he was half right. I love breakfast foods, but I also love noodles, pasta, and bread (i.e., carbs).

Here is a breakdown of my everyday breakfast:

  1. Gather a handful of frozen vegetables and berries. I steam broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage every other week and store them in the freezer. I buy frozen berries from Costco; the organic frozen berries are so cheap compared to ones from the grocery store.
  2. Pour ~1 cup of my mom’s recipe of brewed roots and berries: a 4-5 hour endeavor of brewing milk thistle and licorice roots, then seeping dried goji and schisandra berries for another 5 hours.
  3. Add the frozen vegetables and berries into the liquid, then add half an apple and a steamed beet. I buy steamed beets from Trader Joe’s; they sell them packs of 5 in air-tight bags and you can find them in the salad section. I’ve seen steamed beets in Sprouts and Vons, so other grocery stores carry them as well. It’s convenient because beets are messy and prices are comparable (buying fresh beets vs. steamed beets).

4. Blend everything together and it will produce about 2 tall glasses (~4 cups). I drink one and store the other in the fridge to drink the next day.

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5. Make toast. I recently bought a loaf of pumpkin and black sesame seed bread from Paris Baguette and it’s soft and somewhat healthy.

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6. While I wait for my toast in the toaster oven, I brew a cup of English breakfast tea. My sister recently brought a fancy one from her quick trip to England, so I’ve been drinking this when I feel fancy. When it’s finished brewing, I add a scoop of the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (a huge canister I found at Costco) and some almond milk.

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7. Spread the toast with some chunky almond butter and boysenberry jam.

That’s it!  I also change things up by eating eggs on toast or avocado on toast, and I also usually eat them on whole grain breads, but in any variation, I gotta have my toast. ;)

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Birthday at Disneyland

Birthday at Disneyland

We didn’t start out as Disney fans. Sure, we grew up watching Disney films and visited Disneyland maybe once every decade, but there was no ingrained fascination with the megacorp that a certain group of people seemed to share. We weren’t those people.

My husband and I moved down to SoCal (from the Bay Area) for his residency program in 2013 (before we had Elaine) and many of his colleagues were annual pass holders to Disneyland who seemed to make it their mission to haul him onto the bandwagon. “It’s only 30 minutes away,” they said. “You can go there for date nights/days whenever you want.” “You can go there on your days/afternoons off.” “It’s a bargain if you think about a day’s admission cost.” Spellbound, my husband found himself purchasing the premium annual memberships for the both of us so that we didn’t have blackout dates and we didn’t have to pay for parking for every visit. By the end that year, after about one or two visits a month, we were converts; we shared the same sentiment as the other Disney people whom we didn’t understand at first. There’s a certain desire for fiction and magic that Disney provides, and you come to love walking down Main Street with the view of the castle, the foods associated with each section of the park, and riding the silly rides that only last a minute or so. I rode “it’s a small world” at the end of the day around 11:30PM with a sleepy Elaine, and a family came rushing into the line standing behind me in which I overhead a lady say, “I always ride ‘it’s a small world’ whenever I come to Disneyland. If I don’t, did it even happen?”

Fiction, magic, traditions. That’s how they get’ya.

Food highlights from Pixar Fest (see this post for all the details): I had a long list of foods to try, but our stomachs could only handle so much in one day and we had a dinner reservation at Goofy’s Kitchen, which was a dinner buffet with the family, so we couldn’t stuff ourselves in the afternoon. We tried the grape soda cake pop, alien macaron, cheeseburger pizza, apple and cherry slushy in a Finding Nemo souvenir light-up sipper cup, a habanero meatball cone, and a “Choose Your Racer” churro in which I chose the red churro for Lightning McQueen. My favorite was the alien macaron because it wasn’t that sweet and it was a well-made macaron with a sweet-tangy blackberry flavored filling. I wanted to try at least 3 churros (the cocoa churro (inspired by Coco) and the multi-colored fruity churro (inspired by Up)), Jessie’s Berry Jubilee funnel cake (inspired by Toy Story 3), the three-flavored corn dog (inspired by Jack-Jack from The Incredibles), and the three-course Remi-inspired (from Ratatouille) menu at Cafe Orleans, but again, our stomachs could handle so much and I think the Lord was keeping me in check with all the sweets. ;) I didn’t indulge too much because I only took a bite or two from each food item. I just wanted a taste, that’s all. hehe.

 

 

Field Trip: Echo Park, L.A.

June 2nd: Impromptu trip to the Echo Park in L.A. The weather was sunny and not too hot. I thought it would be nice to have a picnic and ride the swan boats at the lake. Echo Park was also on my Summer List. We packed a light lunch by digging up leftovers from the week and headed to the park. Note to future visitors: street parking can be tricky on weekends because there’s a lot of people especially on nice days and the swan boat rides are $11 per adult and $7(?) for each child. I didn’t know it would be so costly, but since I didn’t think we would ride it ever again, we decided to take the plunge. All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon in the city.