I would like to wish my dear friend of over 10 years a Happy 30th Birthday. She is enjoying a vacation in her native country with her wonderful husband, probably sitting in an onsen as happy as a clam. Hope you two have a great time! This photo was taken in 2007. Isn't she beautiful?
At last I got to visit The Wooden Spoon, one of Downtown's newest culinary additions, and is what I believe to be the only Brazilian restaurant on our side of town. The food is honestly amongst the best we've had in downtown, and is definitely worth writing home about!
We started with the Pastel Portuguese (similar to crispy shrimp croquettes with a creamy coconut sauce), and the Calbreza Sausage & Yucca Fries, which are impressive! Our entree to share was the Beef Brazilian Grill, and was equally delectable. The lentil soup was piping hot and had some interesting spices, but was just average. Desert is not to be missed: the Bricadeeiro (decadent, rich chocolate truffles), and Passion Fruit Mousse. The cinnamon infused water hit the spot, and Brazilian coffee is perfect-I'm guessing a lot of cream and cinnamon. The coffee has kept me up late, but that won't keep me coming back for more.
The place was virtually empty upon arrival, and wasn't surprising to see it become jam packed with locals. The service seemed a little overwhelmed, but the price is right, and the atmosphere friendly.
Today marked 72 days of the writer's strike. Support the WGA!
Dave and I are in the middle of our 4th annual trip to San Francscio, a holiday gift to ourselves. It's become a bit of a tradition, much like many of the landmarks and restaurants we treat ourselves to.
Breaking with tradition, we chose not to stay in our usual spot the Hotel Majestic. Instead we are staying at the Hotel Kabuki for a change of pace. Our hotel, formerly the Miyako, just recently underwent a major renovation. It is still very different than our beloved Hotel Majestic--a terrific rendition of a rich uncle's mansion. We still enjoy being centrally located to Japantown, and feel very much at home with the view from our room.
Our retaurant itinerary:
Juban: Ate here our first night, it is very similar to Korean BBQ--yum!Aziza: Moroccan food, which we had never eaten together--everything we ordered was so festive and tasty.
Gary Danko: We elected to go here after reading the rave reviews on Chowhound and Yelp. It was over the top!
Perbaccoand Canteen are next on our list.
The heavy rain, has kept us indoors, but we have visited Dave's Grandma, his Uncle Mike, and cousin Lauren. The rain storm finally lifted today, and we visited the Point Bonito Lighthouse.
Here is what 2007 presented to me:
I rang in 2007 at my former job, Windows. I had finished a shift "early," and just missed the bustling celebrations below. This was no surprise to me considering my 10 year history of employment in the restaurant industry.
A couple weeks later, Dave and I traveled to San Francisco-a Christmas gift to each other. We visited family members, and met our niece, Karydis, for the first time. She is a doll, and we attempted to entertain her with a stuffed monkey. We wined and dined at some of the best restaurants in the city (SF is a foodie's paradise) and got some team photography under our belt.
San Francisco was the last hurrah as I begin nursing school in February (see last blog). It didn't take long before nursing school showed me who was boss. I could forget about seeing my family, or going for a run, because school took up so much time. I continued to wait tables at Windows, 4 night shifts a week, which left me in an academic limbo. I recall juggling the 2 hour daily commute, waking up at 4:30am, passing exams, caring for sick patients, marriage, cooking/cleaning, and a late night job in tow began to feel overwhelming to say the least.
I decided to act quick before flunking out, so I cut my schedule in half, and even later decided that quitting my job would be the best solution. In attempts to quit, ironically, I was informed that the restaurant had lost it's contract through AT&T, and would be closing on July 31 to be replaced with fat-cat office space (no surprise though, I had heard the rumors). I opted to stay for a couple night shifts/week. With a severance pay to come, the restaurant to become increasingly busy, and not being able to imagine myself not working...how could I resist staying? I agreed to stick it out, and thank God, got my grades together before successfully finishing that semester.
Over the summer, I continued my job, took courses in pharmacology (yikes!) and physical assessment (not too bad). This schedule kept me on my toes, but enjoyed having a breather from the hospital. I rediscovered the meaning of sleep, which I missed more than anything.
July 9, Dave and I celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary. It didn't matter how many times I had been forewarned about being a newlywed and a new nursing student, the first year was pure bliss!. My husband's support and my resulting success renewed our closeness.
July 31 rolled around. I turned 27, and my job came to an end. It felt odd to have always be employed, and to have suddenly become jobless. What would I do with my time?
My question was answered that same evening. The husband of my dreams picked me up in our new truck from my final work party. We made our yearly pilgrimage to Las Vegas to attend the world's largest computer hacking convention. I felt like I was a princess in a fairy tale, being swept up by my prince. We stayed for 5 days, and had a blast. What a wonderful birthday!
If Vegas wasn't enough of a vacation, we left a couple days later, on a road trip in "Blue-j" (we named our new FJ Cruiser) to Santa Fe, NM. We stayed near the plaza, where we dined at some the best restaurants. We went off-roading with Blue-J though the beautiful mountains of New Mexico. I saw my first opera, Cosi fan Tutte at the world's only outdoor opera house, the Santa Fe Opera!. I fell in love with Santa Fe, and was sad when we had to leave.
By the time we returned home from Santa Fe, my younger brother, Josh had relocated to Austin, TX. He is my closest sibling, and I have missed him dearly.
On August 25, my closest girlfriend, Wakako, got married. She was the most beautiful bride. The wedding took place in her backyard and was stunning! I was one of her bridesmaids, and felt a great sense of gratitude to be a part of something so significant!
A couple days later, I began my second round of nursing school. Hello fluid and electrolytes (what plants crave), goodbye freedom. Who would have thought one could lose so much sleep over potassium and sodium? I was assigned to the med-surg unit at UCLA. I completed an internship there 5 years ago and love the floor I was stationed. The exams got more difficult, the workload picked up, and I mastered the art of microwaving dinners. I frequently come home whiney and grouchy. I was beginning to miss my family and friends. I watched many a Downtown Artwalk take place outside our window while I memorized insulin onset times. My sister turned 40, but I was too buys to make the trip to her big bash. We do decided to take on Thanksgiving dinner at our place. I performed poorly on the following test because I had stepped away from my studies. I was again reminded that school ruled.
On a more positive note, I was relieved to be unemployed, and be connected to an amazing study group. My next clinical assignment was the psychiatry unit at the V.A. I became fascinated by this field of nursing and loved working with the vets! I served as our class secretary, and got more involved in the Student Nursing Association (SNA). I was elected SNA President for my last semester, which is 6 months away. It was an exciting semester, and my performance improved dramatically over the first. School let out on Dec 13, and marked the half-way point of completion.
With vacation, brings sleeping in with my husband, catching flicks at the Archlight, and hanging out with friends. We have caught up on our Netflix, and it seems like we eat out more, and cook less. We even opted for a store bought ham and a potluck style meal for our Christmas Eve dinner we hosted (a far cry from our 100% homemade Thanksgiving meal-even salad dressing was homemade). Maybe we are regrouping, and trying to make the most of "the calm before the storm"-the most difficult part of school is on the horizon and will begin in February.
I hope this lengthly post makes up for my lack of blogging this year. I feel fortunate for the good things that 2007 brought. With that being said, I wish everyone a delightful and restful holiday. Tonight I will enjoy a celebration amongst friends and neighbors with my sweetie, and not ringing in the New Year on the job.
I know. I haven’t blogged in months…I suck.
Finished my first semester in nursing school, aka boot camp. Spent the first half of clinicals in a convalescent home, and the second half at St Johns in acute care (much more challenging). It was agony waking up at the crack of dawn and felt occasionally discouraged by the workload. I am passionate about the acquisition of practical skills and patient education. I also feel that my duty as a nurse is very meaningful and know that nursing is a purposeful profession.
I am currently taking a couple summer school courses while working a couple days a week. My workload isn’t quite as intense as it was with clinicals, and indulge in my preferred 8 hours of sleep. In the meantime, I’m scrambling to take in the outdoor activities, mingling, and other projects, which will be impossible in the Fall. Dave and I are also planning a road trip to New Mexico in August-more details to be disclosed.
Time flies! One year ago, David and I married in one of our favorite neighborhood spots. It has been an honor to experience life with someone who is profoundly inspiring. It’s been very exciting watch one another progress into nursing and photography, and to co-exist within our rapidly evolving downtown home.
David is an extraordinary person, a loving husband, and an understanding friend. I absolutely love him and look forward to our numerous endeavors =]
We are both taking the day off and will walk over to a local restaurant that we are crazy about for dinner. I think a hike to Griffith Park Observatory and some fierce scrabbling at the top are also on the agenda (we somehow become addicted to Scrabble during our honeymoon).
Wasn't sure what to think as we approached the all-women's convalescent home, which would be the official site of our clinical rotation for the next 4 weeks. I won't say where, but from the outside, my first impression is a Palm Springs resort. According to our clinical instructor, Mrs. Black, it's supposed to be one of the "nicer" convalescent homes around, and it is run by nuns. In fact, many of the patients are/were nuns (do nuns retire?).
I was assigned to my first patient ever, with my classmate Kate. Our 83 year old patient was just admitted to the home, and had been diagnosed with Dementia, amongst a number of other things. She had dysphasia (impaired swallowing) and had a very limited range of motion. She wouldn't say anything except an occasional "no," and was very lethargic-she even fell asleep on me while I was feeding her. She responded very well to stimuli, and was certain she could understand me based on her facial expressions. I'm not sure she was enjoying my company so much, but it was a great accomplishment getting her cleaned up and dressed.
So, my overall experience? As it turns out, I have a profound love for patient care, only I felt so ill-equipped... being temporarily clueless as to where all the little things were. The poor LVNs were swamped with work! I observed how quickly they had to move. They perform to the best of their ability and have such little time with each patient. I hope I am never put in one of these places when I grow old.
I love my instructor and everyone in my clinical group. I really dig the nun scene-it makes for a very special environment.
Today is Dave's Birthday, and I would like to send him tender birthday wishes. He has been a very loving husband, and especially helpful and supportive during this tough nursing school transition. I know that he is a very special person to many of us.
Tonight, we will go out to a restaurant of his choosing-yey!
...with only 16 more to go. What a privilege it is to be where I'm at. I now attend school, Monday-Thursday.
The first couple days is lecture and discussion group with Mr. Williams, who has been an enjoyable instructor. I have concluded that he is perceived to be a bit stringent, but he is very reasonable if you work hard, and has this lovely southern drawl. In his class, he talks a lot about communication-which in this field I have discovered, is rather meticulous.
The other two days are clinicals, which have been so far, at school in labs. We have learned and been tested to perform practical skills: take vitals, change bed pans, bathe patients, provide dental care, and change beds. Today we learned how to assess range of motion in elders-pretty fascinating stuff. Taking blood pressure, as it turns out, is no easy task. It was driving me bonkers practicing, but was a huge relief to have cleared my blood-presure skills test earlier this morning. This Thursday, we will move our clinicals into a convalescent home, where I will have my first patient...joy!
Our class of roughly 30 students, is divided up into 4 clinical groups. My all-chick group has worked out perfectly. Each person brings something interesting to the table, yet so supportive of one other. We work very well together, and talk each others ears off during breaks. A couple of students in our group have dropped, but hopefully we'll all stick around for graduation.
I continue to work three evening shifts at the restaurant towards the end the week, and am beginning to wonder if I'm half crazy. The time-management thing hasn't quite been completely determined, and I feel tired a lot from getting up so early. As long as I stay focused and take some naps, I'll keep my sanity. Thank God, my husband has been such a great guy and helps me out when needed.
More updates soon! =]
We were awoken this morning at roughly 5am by ringing fire alarms in the neighboring tower in our building. The air outside and hallways were filled with smoke, and prepared to evacuate. We could see people and their pets running down the fire escape, when we realized that the smoke was traveling from the next block. Dave, naturally, wanted to capture the blaze on camera, so we compulsively headed out with our firefighter-happy neighbor, Shannon, and followed the smoke to the eye of the fire.
Turns out that this monster of a fire started a few blocks over, on 4th and Broadway on the NE corner, and completely destroyed some retail shops and a couple taquerias. Dave took photos up-close and chatted with the firefighters, while Shannon and I were asked to step away. We spoke with some police officers, and they concurred that this one was the worst in downtown they had witnessed. It is now 6:45, and I am safe in our home with our little guys, although still very smokey outside. Dave is probably continuing his usual royal downtown appearance and befriending our neighbor heros.
What a heck of a way to start a Monday morning.
This past Christmas, Dave and I opted to enjoy one another's company traveling after the new year, rather than buying each other stuff. Last week, we returned home from San Francisco, where we explored the town up close to take a multitude of photos, and indulge in fine dining. We had an opportunity to visit my sister and her family, Uncle Mike, and Grandma Vera.
Where do I start? The trip was overwhelmingly wonderful to say the least, and so much happened in five days!
We began our adventure with a drive along Hwy 1...windy and long, but well worth the scenic view. We stopped at Hearts Castle and took a tour. There, I adopted Dave's camera (Canon 30D w/ 85mm f/1.2 L lens) and took some photos of my own. It has a very small range of field, and was a bit tricky to learn in a fun sorta way. Our guide gave a bitchen tour, and the castle was as unbelievable as I remembered it.
We later made our arrival to Hotel Majestic, where we've always stayed. The hotel just missed the terrible fire following the Great Earthquake of 1906, making it an oversized antique. The hotel lives up to it's name! The charming details and friendly staff keep us faithful to The Majestic. We were immediately upgraded to a junior suite upon request. Our room was very romantic and really does have that "rich uncle's mansion" feel. We felt very much at home with a sweet four post bed, a cozy fireplace, and a claw-footed bath tub.
The first night, we went to Perbacco, a fairly new italian restaurant. We were mesmerized by the food and impeccable service in an ultra vogue ambiance. We also happened to be conveniently sitting next to the owners, whom Dave paid compliments to. Another place worth noting was Fishermans's Grotto Number 9, an old school seafood restaurant that has consistently had great food with a a nice view of Fisherman's Warf. For our last night, Dave saved the best for last: La Folie, the supposed the creme de la creme of all french restaurants in the area. For the first time, I sampled a foie gras that was so tasty to my pallet. I ordered a 3 course meal, while Dave enjoyed 5 courses. We were able to choose each course from various categories and had paired up wines accordingly with the assistance of their sommelier. Our server was extremely friendly and well acquainted with the food. We swapped our plates as we usually do, and had a heck of a time. The whole experience was a genuine class act and the restaurant certainly lived up to it's reputation.
We visited my sister and husband, Keith, on the second night, and saw our 11-week-old niece, Karydis. Dave led a compulsory photo shoot of the family, while I dressed up our stuffed monkey (long story) in Karydis's onesie and attempted to keep their dog, Lilah out of the way. I tried to get a smile out of Baby Karydis with our dancing monkey, but my outlandish humor served our niece no purpose, nor was I any good at keeping the dog in check. Afterwards, Keith and Merrilee took us to a very nice Mexican restaurant called La Pinata, where I ordered my standard cheese enchilada dish, which was outstanding. With a boozy margarita in one hand and an adorable cooing baby in my lap, I was in in heaven. It is always thrilling to see my sister and her family, and we are adamant about the next visit.
We also got to see Dave's mother's brother, Mike, who lives in SF, and his daughter Lauren. We were treated to Cafe Tiramisu for a tasty lunch. We were fortunate to catch our scholarly cousin Lauren, who was home from college, and was frantically preparing for a semester abroad in Paris (Bonjour Lauren!). Uncle Mike entertained us with some humorous stories about his past times working in a hospital. He is a wonderful story-teller with a terrific sense of humor, and is always most interesting to listen to.
With only a few hours remaining in the city before our departure, we visited Grandma Vera. She will be turning 95 next month, yet like Uncle Mike, is a master story-teller. She has an outstanding recollection of the past, which is so impressive considering how forgetful I am at the age of 27. Her stories play a very important role in our family and know that through them, there is much to learn. I was honored to personally listen to her. She has great physical beauty, and is very likable because she is so cheerful and optimistic. She is very proud of Dave and gave us a lot of encouragement. We only spent a couple hours with her, before she had to prepare for dinner. I was sad to leave because I wanted to hear more stories, and only hope that visit wasn't our last.
To make a long story short, we visited: The Explortorium, Chinatown, Fort Point, Point Bonita, Treasure Island, and San Francisco City Hall. We took advantage of the cable cars near our hotel and visited the Cable Car Museum. We also hung out at a drum n' bass club one evening...a little different from and much smaller than the scene in Los Angeles.
The best part about the trip was my husbands presence, and the memories created. He worked very hard to make the trip a reality, and he did a fine job, which I can't thank him enough.
Been tagged by Dave, and came up with the following 5:
I only know a few of you with sites that haven't been tagged:Dan Garza
About an hour ago, the last of our 13 guests left a very successful Thanksgiving bash. We were left with 4 pies, leftovers from a 19 pound turkey with a sherry gravy, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, 2 kinds of stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green beans with caramelized shallots, succotash, and several bottles of unopened wine, champagne, and eggnogg.
It only took Dave and I 14 hours of grueling work between food preapration and giving our place a face lift. We literally made everything from scratch...from the salad dressing, to the homemade whipped cream atop handmade pies (fyi, those pie crusts were not store bought). Thanks to Dave The Iron Chef, the food was superior!
It was the first Thanksgiving spent in our place. Aside from some donated wine and pie, we stubbornly refused assistance. I began to feel overwhelmed and lost my focus as our peeps poured in. We pulled it off with the assistance of my amazing mother. I feel so drained and yet overjoyed of our super duper husband-wife capabilities. Without any hesitation, we will do it again next year, with some experience and a better understanding of hosting a crowd of 15 in a 800 sq foot closet.
We are taking advantage of some of that left over champagne and will be hibernating tomorrow. =]
There's a new kid on the block. My sister, Merrilee, gave birth on November 6 to little Karydis at 5:20 pm. She is 7 lb, 7 oz, 20 3/4" and roughly one week overdue. I am happy to say that she and my sister are doing well. I haven't seen my new niece yet, but I already love her and know that she must be fabulous! I am utterly happy for my sister and her husband, Keith. Congratulations guys!
My niece's name, Karydis Lina came from the names of Great-grandmothers from each side of her family. We knew she would be a girl, but the name is a delightful surprise.
Dave and I went to see our long awaited movie, Borat, on the opening night. Sadly, The Archlight, our theatre of choice, wasn't playing Borat, so we opted for the Burbank AMC (our first mistake), being one of the closest theaters after our trip to the opening day at Griffith Park Observatory. We spent so much time trying to find a spot in a poorly designed parking structure, that we missed our movie. It was a Friday night (our second mistake), and there was a stampede of loud obnoxious teenagers throughout the theatre, all there for Borat. We watched in total disbelief, everyone walking on top of one another to find a seat. This is precisely why reserved seating makes sense.
Then the previews started, and the kids behind us wouldn't shut up. The guy kept kicking Dave's seat, and Dave finally yelled at them. They immediately shut their pie holes and remained quiet. After the movie, the rugrats were waiting for us, probably angry at Dave. One of the guys bumped into me to prove a point. The parking, the seating, and the rude behavior wouldn't have been an issue at the The Archlight.
To end on a good note, we caught the next movie of Borat, and managed to snag some great seats. Borat was hysterical and watched him uninterrupted! We really enjoyed this movie and I'm glad we went despite it all.
Pick up more than one box of chocolate lava cakes and french onion soup, straight out of the Trader Joe's Frozen Food aisle! If you've ever tried either one, you'll know what I'm talking about. Both are remarkably better than any french onion soup or lava cakes from a restaurant, and are highly addictive!
Frozen food (yuck!) was commonplace in my home growing up, so I have a great understanding of how tasteless frozen food gets. We have officially established a weekly "soup and lava cake night." =)