Veggie Grill Lent Lunch in Irvine, CA

Meat-free healthy meals for the herbivore

I confess I didn’t give up anything for Lent this year, but if meat was your item of choice visiting Veggie Grill may help make the 40 day period more tolerable. A group of foodies met to provide insight on menu items and we were given the opportunity to sample 6 items ranging from appetizers to dessert. We began our tasting with the chill out wings.

I’ll admit I really detest fake meat. The spongy texture just cannot do the meal thing justice. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty and convincing these wings were. It was very tender and flavorful. 5 Stars! The next item we tried was the buffalo chicken. The base item was the same as the chill out wings, but the sauce is the star in this item.

Veggie Grill Lent Lunch in Irvine, CA

We then moved on to their entrees and sampled their quinoa and kale salad. This was an extremely healthy offering and very light, perfect for those days when you feel fat and bloated. The Harvest Bowl on the other-hand was dense and rich. This may be a seasonal item limited to the fall as it makes the consumer feel warm and fuzzy inside. The last entrée we sampled was the Bombay Bowl, a curry over quinoa. The flavor was solid; however, the whole almonds added a crunch that I was not use to.

We then finished up our meal with their carrot-cake. I usually never make it to dessert, but I would for theirs! Overall, it was a pleasant tasting event and among the offerings the chill out wings takes the cake. If you’re a first time visitor, try their “fish” tacos, they’re amazing!

April Fool’s Day Media Event at Rance’s Chicago Pizza in Costa Mesa, Ca

040114 Rance Menu

On April 1st, I had the opportunity to revisit a local favorite for an intimate blogger’s party. Rance’s Chicago Pizza (Yelp Review) in Costa Mesa, CA spoiled us with a nice spread of appetizers and pies. Although it was April Fool’s Day, their food certainly was no joke and they were very generous with their offerings. We started off with a nice spring salad with 4 different homemade dressings. I enjoyed the assortment of veggies and while the dressings were nice, they were nothing to run home about. Next we moved on to hot appetizers. If you like heat, their artichoke dip certainly will clear your sinuses and the bruschetta was a nice start, but I was obviously holding out for the main dish- a deep dish. Mmm…

040114 Appetizers

Salad and Appetizers

As soon as we finished up the last of bite size apps, we were then given the opportunity to try two thin crust pizzas and 5 stuffed pies. Among my sampling the CSP (Chicken Spinach Pesto) was and still is my favorite- with the stuffed Margarita as a close second. Be sure to get their stuffed as opposed to thin crust as it makes all the difference!

I was beyond stuffed by the time we ended our meal and the owner came by to hand us each a small cup of honey. He stated that in other pizza parlors patrons dip their crust in honey to bring out the flavor. Cool, so I grabbed my crust and dunked it in. I was pleasantly surprised by this simple of great way to end the meal.

What do you like on your pies?




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Festival of Colors – Norwalk, CA 2014

Holi Festival

Festival Goers enjoying the concert

As an older sister I’ve always been the reasonable and responsible one. But when I heard about an event dedicated to causing mischief and being a kid again, I was more than happy to jump on the band wagon and promote an annual Indian celebration called the Festival of Colors. I’d seen pictures of children and adults alike covered in an array of colors and on one Saturday, I decided that I would partake in the festivities as well.

I attended the Holi Festival Of Colors 2014 up in Norwalk and what a celebration! The event filled with non-stop live music from great bands, yoga, mantras, dance, cuisine, and of course the “throwing of dry colors festival goers.” Entrée fee was $5 and bags of colors were available for purchase. I picked up a bag of purple powder to throw at attendees and from my “before” and “after” shot you can see my lost battle. This is definitely a great event for everyone and they’re touring different states. Check out their schedule here.



Black, White, and Red all over – 2014 February Outfits and Events

Happy Lunar New Year everyone, albeit late, but better late than never! February has been crazy busy with events galore and all with red themes. So today’s post will feature a few of my favorite ways to wear this “not for the faint” color. Hope you enjoy the post!

Every girl should have a red dress in her closet and this little Betsey Johnson number is one of my favorites – purchased at a trunk show in New York for $20 new (crazy I know!!). It’s a showstopper number and I absolutely love the layered tiers and the crinkled texture of this dress. I paired with piece with pearls and nude heals, making it the ultimate girly ensemble (but with a classic twist). Photographer David Lin did a great job in capturing this dress in all its glory. Check out the rest of his work here.

Yet, a skirt can also be a stand-alone piece as well. I recently wore this beautiful Asian designed lucky skirt at Yelp’s Sweet Social event in downtown Buena Park, CA. I decided to wear it with tights and a slick black blazer to pull the entire look together and keep warm as the event was held outdoors in the Krikorian Metroplex courtyard. The Sweet Social featured local businesses from around the area and yelpers and guests had the privilege to sample various food and beverage items. My favorite items were the dole whip Berrysweet (yelp page) and the salted caramel ice cream made from liquid nitrogen from Poof Ice Cream (yelp page).  Mmm… yummy, delicious dessert indeed! Splendid photobooth was also present and we all enjoyed poising for the camera. It was a great event.


The next day I attended a Matthew Morrison concert in Costa Mesa, CA. Name not ring a bell? Matthew Morrison is a broadway regular, but most people know him as the High School Choir Teacher – Will Schuester – on Glee. Ah, yes… it all makes sense now. He serenaded the audience with a range of show tunes and blue grass music that was to die for! Such a talented artist and you bet he gave us an incredible performance.

The concert was hosted at Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall (yelp review), so it was definitely a dress to impress type of soiree. As I looked into my closest to find the perfect dress, I pulled out this sparkly Cynthia Steffe number – it screamed “pick me!” so naturally I obliged. I paired it with a white tuxedo blazer from Aidan Mattox that I purchased for less than 1/7th of the original price (retail $350, Loehmanns $50) and my favorite red Revlon lip butter (in the color wild watermelon). I also accessorized my nails with my 1st high-end nail polish purchase from Deborah Lippman‘s glitter line (in the color Ruby Red Slippers) to help add a pop of color. Red is such a statement color and it could easily be one that completes an outfit.

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I love the color red as it symbolizes good fortune and can help anyone exude confidence.

How do you wear the color red?



13 Moments in 2013

IMG_04142013 was a year of extremes – the highs were high and the lows were extremely low. It was a roller coaster this year, and while a lot of changes happened I felt that I’ve grown tremendously from them. Here are thirteen moments of 2013

1. Spotted celebrities in the Golden State! I attended KLG and Hoda’s (The Today Show’s 4th Hour) on location shoot in Hollywood, CA (blog post) – yes that’s Jaleel White otherwise known as Steve Urkel (!!!), Alton Brown during his “Edible Inevitable Tour,” Youtube make-up guru Ben Green (blog post) at the LA IMATS (blog post), and Giada De Laurentis at South Coast Plaza for her book tour (blog post). It was a star-studded year!  

2. Chopped off my hair and donated it “locks-of-love,” an organization that gives wigs to children with cancer (blog post).    

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3. Growing up I went to a language school on Saturdays, so this year I relieved my childhood memories by watching tons and tons of toons (not ashamed of it!) – including (in no particular order) 6 or 7 seasons of Pokemon, All Batman the Animated Series, Batman & Beyond, My Little Pony, and Justice League episodes.  I’m up to season 4 for Sailor Moon (I was Sailor Mars for Halloween) and currently… I am on Season 3 of the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles! They don’t make cartoons like they use to.

4. A promise was broken. My heart shattered and I couldn’t comprehend the abandonment and betrayal. I felt helpless and naive for believing the best in people and while I was no saint in this marriage, the decision to have it end was already made for me. Divorce is a difficult process, but tackling it all while enduring tremendous health, financial, and family problems during the day and nightmares at night – I just couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t keep it all together and I honestly felt doomed. I’d never felt so hopeless than I did during that month.

I never like asking for help, but I extended my hand out – ashamed – but God was merciful and showered me with love and compassion. He knew that I couldn’t carry the burden myself and sent brothers and sisters to pray for me, hug me, spend time with me. I slowly regained my strength and confidence and while that extremely vulnerable moment could have easily consumed me, my God is good gave me light through the darkness.


5. Visited the “Happiest Place on Earth” twice and attended the D23 Expo (A Tradeshow for Disney Enthusiasts.) There’s something magical about this theme park and while the tickets are outrageously priced, Disney sure knows how to create a moment.

6. Drove across the United States from Boston, MA down to Pensacola, FL all the way west to Orange County, CA.  My favorite spots included: Belgium Beer & Mussels from Monk’s in Philadelphia, PA, Coconut Cake from Peninsula Grill in Charleston, SC (Yelp Review), Red Royals from Joe Patti’s Seafood in Pensacola, FL (Yelp Review), Real Rootbeer from Tombstone Sarsaparilla  in Tombstone, AZ, (Yelp Review) just to name a few.

7. I’d been a dance teacher for 15+ years, but completely stopped all forms of this art. This year I took it upon myself to learn and teach the iconic Michael Jackson Thriller routine to my most difficult students – teachers, ahh!! But it was a success

8. I had the best meal of my life (and most expensive – blog post) at O Ya (Yelp Review) in Boston, MA. The food is out of this world and while my teacher’s salary can’t justify the bill, it certainly is a once in a lifetime place to appreciate amazing food.

IMG_1299 IMG_13049. Received two “Review of the Day” (ROTD) features on Yelp’s Homepage for my write-up for Deli-licious (Yelp Review) & IKneadLove (Yelp Review); completed “2013 Yelp 100 Reviews Challenge” – just barely; and reached an enormous milestone – 500 reviews!

10. After sending many resumes, cover letters, and enduring “thank you for applying” letters/emails – I finally secured a job as a school counselor. Thank you God for trusting me to help these students.

11. I lost my German Shepard, Boomer. He passed away in his sleep. I miss you!   photo (14)

12. I spent nearly every other day with my grandma who had two major surgeries. She’s getting older and spending time with her priceless. No one every said that they regretted spending time with loved ones.

13. I made the switch over to wordpress, achieved over 90+ “likes” on facebook (facebook page), and hosted my first blogger event at Deja New (Yelp Review).

No one every said that growing up was going to be easy, but I hope that I’ll be able to take on the new adventures in 2014 with more courage, confidence and savvyness. My goals for 2014 include: laughing more, worrying less, and taking every opportunity to enjoy the moment. Here’s to 2014!

What are you looking forward to in 2014?



2013 Delicious Gender Neutral Gift Ideas

It’s that time of year again- holiday shopping for all your family, friends, co-workers, etc. I’ll be the first to admit that holiday shopping for others can be quite stressful… and expensive (yikes!) But I’ve come up with a short gender neutral list to appease almost everyone on your list. You’ll see that my inspiration stems from my foodie side, which will make for a delicious list! So, lets get started!

Gourmet GiftThe Entertainer 

Food brings people together and I absolutely love gourmet gifts that I can share. But creating a dish is just as fun as eating with your loved one. So why not hand-select colorful noodles or fun-shaped characters (for the kids of course :P) to accompany your favorite Marinara or Alfredo sauce. If you want to be extra fancy you could also add in a large festive bowl so that the entree has a new home to sit-in, wrap clear saran-wrap around the items and voila! Not only is this gift idea easy on the eyes, but also yummy for the tummy. I found these at my local TJ Maxx and Big Lots, but of course you can support small local mom n’ pop shops too!

Now you can always expand past the entrees and go straight into dessert realm as well. Recently I purchased two Sprinkles Cupcakes mix  from the Newport Beach store and had it wrapped in a traditional Sprinkles Cupcake box sealed with their signature sticker. This special person has a sweet tooth for Red Velvet and her kids do too! 

ImageThe Multi-tasker 

I love multi-functional gifts that look and smell great, but are also practical as well. The Herb Garden from Trader Joe’s is just that (oh and it’s affordable too!). Can you believe this pot has 13 different herbs for less than 7 bucks. Craziness! These plants not only help liven up a kitchen counter top but also add so much flavor to your dishes as well. Rosemaries are my favorite, because they are just fragrant- they taste great with potatoes!



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If it seems that time is not on your side and finding the perfect gift is not something you look forward to perhaps you can consider treating your spe

cial person for a meal. Grab a business card from your favorite restaurant and on the back of it, write “lunch with your favorite _________” (ie. cousin, sister, daughter, foodie), and pop it into a festive card. Not only will this person fully understand your immaculate taste, but also get to spend some quality time with you.

If separate meals for all your family and friends seems unrealistic, perhaps picking your favorite family-style restaurant would do the trick. I absolutely love the Stimulus Packagefrom Stonefire Grill (Yelp Review) in Fountain Valley, the AYCE BBQ at Cham Sut Gol Korean BBQ  (Yelp Review) in Garden Grove, and the enormous portions at Hash House A-Go-Go (Yelp Review) in Las Vegas. If you want ideas of other frugal but filling restaurant locations, leave a comment below :)


The Rich 

The word of God is gold and giving someone a copy with their own name on it is really special. I especially love this NIV Trimline Snap Flap from (Link) because it’s very sleek and the perfect size for many of my handbags. The online store also sells it in navy and black, which are classic colors for everyone. Though appearance aside, this truly is a transformational gift and out of all the gifts that I’ve mentioned this one will never leave you hungry again. 

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 3: 35 (NIV)


What are some other great gift ideas?





“30 Days of Thanks” Reflection

This month I participated in the “30 Days of Thanks” where I focused on a single blessing for the entire month of November. I posted daily on my Facebook page and tried to write something new and different each day. Some days were harder than others, as I struggled to find the ray of sunshine through looming dark clouds on those “everything that could have gone wrong went wrong” days. Yet, I survived and successfully completed my 30-day mission. I have my last day to write up and thought I’d unveil Day 30 on my blog. But before we jump to the end, here’s the first 29 days. 

Day 1: Jesus, my lord and savior, for loving me (flaws and all)

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Day 2: I am thankful for a job that allows me to play a role in kids future as their School Counselor

Day 3: I am thankful for an extra hour to sleep-in, woohoo daylight savings rocks! 

Day 4: I am thankful for my strong grandmother. She has a lot of medical complications and it breaks my heart to see her in so much pain, but I’m lucky that I get to spend time with her.

Day 5: I am thankful for Taco Tuesdays. I love fish tacos, and Rubio’s has it for half-off today (after 2:30pm)! Woohoo!

Day 6: I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in my Wednesday large small group. God brought us together, but the food served at all our bible studies, holiday gatherings, and random “I just feel like throwing a party!” moments couldn’t keep us apart! I also am thankful for all the prayers and random acts of kindness. They’ve been there for me in thick and thin and I am blessed to be a part of the family. 

Day 7: I am thankful for great hard-working coworkers, because I know they’re hard to come by.

Day 8: I am thankful to K-USC for playing beautiful classical music. It’s the only station I listen to on my daily commute to work. What kind of music do you listen to?

Day 9: I am thankful for youtube and hulu (plus other misc site), because now I can watch (almost) anything anytime 

Day 10: I am thankful for new adventures and that I get to spent it with a family member who always has my back- love you cousin Larry!!


Day 11: I am thankful to our troops and all the men and women in uniform who fight to protect our rights. The United States would not be a land of opportunity without your service and dedication. Thank you.

Day 12: I hate shots and going to the hospital, but I am thankful for health insurance. I remember a time period when I couldn’t see the doctor and boy was that a crummy time. I won’t take regular check-ups for granted again.

Day 13: I am thankful to my brothers & sisters who open their beautiful home and welcome me in as one of their own.

Day 14: My kids drive me crazy, but I am thankful that I get to work. Actually, I have a pretty sweet gig- a nice large office, AC, new equipment/furniture etc. Now I just need to figure out how to extend all these college deadline, hmm…

Day 15: I am thankful that I live in a place where I can wear boots and scarves one day and shorts and flip flops the next. Gotta love SoCa

Day 16: I am thankful that my church offers Saturday service. I am definitely in dire need of some rechargin’. It’s been a long day


Day 17: I am thankful that I can fill my weekends with fun activities including book signings from celebrity chefs

Day 18: There were problems galore at work today, but I am thankful that my superiors have my back (at least so far :P).

Day 19: I am thankful for good health and a fast metabolism 

Day 20: I am thankful for people who lift me up when I feel down.

Day 21: I am thankful for random acts of kindness from people in my life. (FYI, It involves foods) *smiles* I just feel very loved  

Day 22: Even though I get cold very easily, I am thankful for the rain because without it our plants and trees would not be able to grow and bloom. The fresh smell of flowers and herbs not only help me relax when I’m stressed, but they’re beautiful as well.


Day 23: I am thankful that I have become a stronger, wiser person from the struggles I’ve endured this year. While some of the challenges still sting, I’m thankful that God has delivered me through betrayal, abandonment, deceit, and corruption. I am beautiful, because I am created in God’s image and no one can take that away. Thank you God for your beacon of light during those darkest moments.

Day 24: I am thankful for teachers (in and out of the classroom) who invested in me and helped me become the person I am today.

Day 25: I am thankful for fluffy pillows and warm blankets to snuggle up in on cold nights.

Day 26: I am thankful to the woman who carried me for 9 months and selflessly put my needs ahead of her own. Love you mommy!!

Day 27: I am thankful for my father for giving me a childhood filled with many wonderful memories and experiences that broaden my horizon. He taught me that spending quality time with the people you love is priceless and that money wasn’t everything. Thank you daddy for teaching me right

Day 28: I am proud to be an American and thankful that I get to celebrate a holiday to give thanks.


Day 29: I am thankful for lazy days so that I can rest and recharge.

And finally…

Day 30: I am thankful to all my readers and fans for supporting this blog and encouraging me to keep going.  This blog has been a great outlet to share my strengths and struggles, and I hope that these posts can bring hope, laughter, and tears (of joy… obviously!) from my home to yours. Here’s to a strong finish and to all the adventures ahead!  

What are you thankful for?