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Post-Irma thoughts, 2nd wedding anniversary, and living a flavorful marriage.

A little life update here as life has been a bit hectic and is just now calming down.

Living in Florida we are well versed in hurricanes. Irma scared me. Those few days before were a big adrenaline rush. Do we stay and bunker down in our house or leave the state with baby Leon in tow? Ultimately, we decided to stay with family in a higher evacuation zone.

As I was packing, I thought how nice it would be to be able to pack your most important belongings and essentials in a suitcase and leave. We live in a world where the clothes you wear, the car you drive, or how big your house is determines who are and even your happiness. I sometimes have the urge to sell everything and travel The Bucket List Family style. Even though Roger and I work so hard to have our home, in the end stuff in just stuff. I had my 2 prized possessions with me… my husband and my son. That’s all I needed.

We were so lucky it wasn’t worse. The hurricane came down to a category 2 by the time it hit us. It took a week for us to get power back and days worth of clean up from debris and a fallen tree on our property. Luckily, no damage to the house. With that being said, my heart is heavy for places like Puerto Rico, the Caribbean islands, and Mexico. 

In the middle of all this we also celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. And my goodness did it feel like the world was against us! I was a bit upset by it but in the end we got to celebrate a dinner out without baby and it was nice. We went to a restaurant in downtown St. Pete called Annata Wine and loved it. Overall, the each dish had different but cohesive flavors, even different textures. We had a very large charcuterie plate, octopus with lemon accents, and lobster risotto with avocado gelato! Roger and I always get excited about trying new restaurants, especially when we walk out happy. It was the perfect ending to our stressful week.  Here’s to two years of marriage my love!

She's CharmedShe's CharmedShe's CharmedShe's Charmed

Good Eats for a Weekend Babymoon in Washington D.C.

My husband took handle of this trip and planned our babymoon to Washington D.C. Due to recent outbreak of Zika virus, we had to skip out on the more glamourous sounding tropical vacations. When I think babymoon, I thought of lounging by the pool with belly out! It goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you go, but who your travel companions are. We also made the conscious effort to put our phones down and enjoy exploring a new city. Limited Snapping and Instagramming! It was a nice reminder before baby comes to stopping worrying about baby details and enjoy each other! This babymoon was everything I needed.

I also hit 31 weeks today! Walking around the city was doable but taking the Metro saved my feet. We visited the Smithsonian and National Air & Space Museum. We walked around the National Mall and visited the national monuments.  Little one doesn’t seem to mind all the waking either (hope he loves to travel). Oh, and apparently baby has developed taste buds by this time. Hope he enjoyed all the good food we found here in the city! Here are our recommendations:

Beef N Bread

750 6th Street NW Washington, DC 20001

This small deli in D.C’s Chinatown was at the top of our list of places to try. Our hotel was very close to Chinatown and we were able to walk a short distance after arriving into town. We got the Cali Roast Beef sandwich and split it. We regret not ordering our own!

Beef N Bread

Chaplin’s

1501 96th Street NW Washington, DC 20001

We’re always in search of good Japanese ramen. Chef Myo Htun’s ramen, “The Chaplin”,  did not disappoint! The pork/chicken shumai was amazing as well as the chicken katsu curry. Roger was also just in time for happy hour and enjoyed a nice diner beer. Baby Chan is craving a lot more sweets than I am used to. My matcha ice cream got a lot of stares from other guests, haha!

Chaplin's

Chaplin's

Chaplin's

Chaplin's

Chaplin's

A Baked Joint

440 K Street NW Washington, DC 20001

Our favorite brunch spot and also in walking distance from our hotel. Roger always gets the cold brew coffee wherever we go and he loved the biscuit sammie. I enjoyed smoked salmon with fried capers! If we are ever back in the area we are most definitely going back!

A Baked Joint

Bon Chon

1015 Half Street SE Washington, DC 20003

Crispy, sweet, AND spicy Korean style chicken wings… all of my favorite things in one. Bon Chon has several locations around the nation but none close to home. We stopped by for lunch and killed 20 wings between both of us! We went during a Nationals baseball game, so not much of a crowd too.

The Dabney

112 Blagden Aly NW Washington, DC 20001 

This little gem was our fancy dinning splurge. We were walking back from Chaplin’s when we noticed the restaurant lights. This was one restaurant we didn’t plan on going to but found it to be a really special experience. The restaurant is tucked away in Blagden Alley. We loved the ambiance and enjoyed watching the chef at work in their open kitchen and wood fire oven. Every small plate we got was packed with flavor and we were in heaven trying new dishes. I think it reminded Roger and me of our spontaneity and adventurous spirit that we love about each other. Who knew food could do that right?!

The Danny

You know dinner is going to be good when the Ciabatta bread and their own whipped butter is tastes amazing!

Seared Scallops is always my jam. Indulging in seafood is always a treat. The Dabney

Loved the flavors of their Autumn Olive Pork with roasted strawberries.The Dabney

Soft Shell Crab is always a hit or miss for me but they prepared this dish so nicely!The Dabney

Of coarse we had to get dessert!! Delicious bourbon ice-cream :P.The Dabney

Busboys & Poets

2021 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20009

Before heading home on Memorial Day we stopped by one more brunch spot. I had the sweet potato, kale, and poached egg with rice and a small latte (less than 250mg of caffeine don’t worry!).

Overall a relaxing mini-vacation with filled bellies (for me x2!). Hoping for a smooth 2 month prep before our little one arrives!

 

Japan Travel Diary: Kyoto Highlights Part I

Kyoto quickly became our favorite parts about our trip to Japan. We loved exploring the temples and hiking its scenic routes. We spent a total of 2 days in Kyoto. It was an easy day trip from Osaka. Once we arrived at Kyoto Station, we did have to purchase day passes for bus routes to get around the city.

Kiyomizudera Temple

We first stopped at Kiyomizudera Temple, a Buddhist Temple at the foot of the Otowa Waterfall. To get to the temple you walk through steep hills of the Higashiyama District where you can shop local venders and snacks. It is quite a hike and Roger and I did not hesitate to get another green tea ice cream!
Kiyomizudera Temple

I loved the scenic forest in the background!

Kiyomizudera Temple

Kiyomizudera Temple

At the foot of the falls are three streams that are said to bring good luck.

Nishiki Market

The Nishiki Market is close to the Kiyomizudera Temple. They have japanese delicacies… sweets, pickled vegetables, spices, seafood, and more sushi! We seriously loved sampling all the picked vegetables.

This is mackerel sushi, or Sabazushi. It is special to Kyoto’s culture as back in the day they had a hard time getting fresh fish to the city. The fish is lightly pickled, salted, lightly filleted, then wrapped.

Sabazushi

Poor us, sushi just isn’t going to be the same. Otoro, or tuna belly, is our FAVORITE.

Otoro sushi

Gion

Gion is Kyoto’s geisha district and in between Kiyomizudera Temple and Nikishi market. It is a whole different world with the traditional wooden houses. We didn’t get to see a real life geisha but enjoy walking through this area of Kyoto.  Gion

Gion in Kyoto, Japan

Gion in Kyoto, Japan

New York City Eats

Food is almost always the reason we travel. While our stay was limited, we still got to enjoy the diversity of food in New York City!

The Halal Guys

Walked through snowfall to get Halal Guys on 6th Ave. We got the combo plate with chicken and gyro. The red sauce is no joke! Spicy and warmed us up as we huddled from the snow to eat our bowl.

She's Charmed

Motorino

510 Columbus Ave NY, NY

Pizza in the city is a must. We ordered in one night and got our pizza fix!

The Mermaid Inn

96 2nd Ave NY, NY

We stayed in the Upper West Side and Roger was excited about happy hour oysters. I watched him eat his dinner completely jealous. I still to to indulge in calamari and fries!

She's Charmed

Senn Thai

452 Amsterdam Ave NY, NY

They DO NOT serve pad thai. I actually loved that, it makes guests explore other options on the menu. I got the Pad Gai and Roger got the Tom Yum soup!

Levain Bakery

167 W 74th St. NY, NY

YOU HAVE TO TRY IT. If you’re in the Upper West Side, Levain Bakery has the best cookies, the best! We got the chocolate chip walnut and the dark chocolate peanut butter.

She's Charmed

Japan Travel Diary: Osaka Part II

We kept a relaxed itinerary during our vacation in Japan. Due to rain we postponed a day trip to Kyoto and decided to explore the local Osaka. Not only is the transportation intricate, Japan’s train stations are too. They are often made up of 7-8 story shopping centers and restaurants. I can imagine getting off of work after a long day, getting off the train, and eating a good Japanese dinner. Maybe a bowel of ramen, tonkatsu, or Japanese curry, there are too many options!

Osaka Station
Osaka Station

We window shopped and walked around Osaka Station. I went a little matcha green tea crazy. Every chance I got I wanted to try green tea everything. We found a dessert shop called Nana’s Green Tea and had to try their parfait dessert!

Nana's green tea

Nana's Green Tea

Umeda Sky Building

For a 360 view of Osaka we visited the Umeda Sky Building. It looks like a space shuttle can launch from here. There is an outdoor observatory 170 meters high.

Umeda Sky Building Umeda Sky Building

Okonomiyaki @ Kiji

Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake made of batter, cabbage, tempura bits, different types of meat and topped with sauce, mayo, seaweed, or bonito flakes. After the sky building, next door was a popular spot called Kiji. There is no english menu so a little help form the host to order may be needed. We sat next to the grill and our Okonomiyaki was made right in front of us!

Okonomiyaki

Japan Travel Diary: Osaka Part I

Osaka

We had a nice view from our AirBnb in the city of Osaka. We walked to the 7-11 around the corner and picked up breakfast. The selection is far more interesting than in the states. Pastries, steamed pork buns, hot meals, and sushi… we wanted to try it all! We planned out our day each morning while we ate our fancy breakfast on our Osaka balcony.

Osaka Castle

Osaka is known as Japan’s kitchen and second largest city. We were eager to start exploring and eating! First stop was the beautiful Osaka castle. Fell in love with the juxtaposition in Japan’s cities. They fuse urban life with picturesque parks so effortlessly.

Osaka Castle

It was a small hike to get to the castle entrance and green tea ice cream was the perfect treat.

Matcha green tea ice cream

Japan

Dotonbori Street Food

Dotonbori was at the top of our list. From Osaka castle we jumped on the train to Namba Station, closet station to the Dotonbori area. This region in Osaka is known for entertainment and theaters, but we came for the street food. When you see the Glica billboard you know you are close!

Glica man

In addition to shopping at Shinsaibashi, the street is lined with speciality vendors of Osaka specialities. Their large displays tell you what food they sell. We walked down the entire street first to plan out the food we wanted to try!

Dotonburi

Dotonbui

Takoyaki is a must! Battered ball goodness with octopus bits, scallions, panko and topped with sauce and shavings on bonito flakes.

Takoyaki

Gyoza – Pan Fried Dumplings

Gyoza

Melon Bread is a sweet bread and one of my favorite desserts. It reminds me so much of Pan De Sal (filipino bread)!

Melon bread

Dotonburi

Kuromon Market

We walked to Kuromon Market from Dotonbori for more food. Obviously our bellies were not satisfied! Kuromon is a market where you can also buy and sample Japan’s finest seafood.

Kuromon

There was a long line for these buttered grilled scallops. You pick you own and they prepare and grill them right in front of you. So delicious!

Buttered scallops

Buttered scallops

Uni, uni, uni… This was one of the highlights of the trip. I have always been reluctant to try Uni or sea urchin, but Japan is the place to do it. It is so buttery and smooth and definitely not what I was expecting!

Uni

Sushi is never ever going to be the same…

Sushi

Japan Travel Diary: Our First Meal in Japan

I took a much needed hiatus from life and blogging. Roger & I just returned form our 2 week trip exploring Japan, one of THE best vacations we have had. I am starting this Japan Travel Diary series to share our highlights!

We landed in Narita airport and took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo (Shinjuku). We planned a travel rest day before traveling to Osaka where we stayed for the first week.

Shinjuku

We were so tired from our flight we fell asleep and woke up around 3AM, hungry. We found a popular ramen spot called Ichiran open 24 hours (thank goodness!) for our first meal in Japan.

Ichiran Ramen - Shibuya Japan

Most ramen restaurants have a vending machine upon entering.  You input cash and choose your order. We both ordered tonkatsu ramen, their specialty. Ichiran Ramen is known for their isolation booths during your meal as a way to heighten your food experience. We chose our level of spice and firmness of noodles. Our meal came out behind a curtain ready for us to indulge!
Ichiran

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Our itinerary in a nutshell: (I will post a more elaborate itinerary for our trip soon)

  • Week 1: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara
  • Week 2: Tokyo

 

Foodie Adventures: Week of Sept. 4, 2016

The theme of the week has been fancy dining! The month of September is my lucky month and I’ve been overly indulging in the treat yo self movement.

Went over to our neighbor’s house and they had a homemade charcuterie prepared. Staying in and catching up with friend is always the perfect night.

homemade charcuterie

Il Ritorno

One of Roger & I favorite restaurants downtown. They are a contemporary Italian restaurant that pays extra attention to the flavors of each dish. The menu always changes here but they never seem to disappoint.

Preserved Truffle Risotto 

Il Ritorno

Charred Coulotte Steak

Il Ritorno: 449 Central Ave #101, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Engine No. 9

This one not so fancy, but Engine No. 9 always fulfills my burger cravings. This is the XXX Burger.
Engine No. 9

Engine No 9: 56 Doctor M.L.K. Jr St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

The Most Romantic Big Sur Itinerary

http://cargocollective.com/maedecena/Branding-Big-Sur-California

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Big Sur = big memories for Roger and I!  The Big Sur is a stretch of northern California’s coast from Carmel to San Simeon. May 7, 2011 was a special day for us. Roger not only planned a surprise engagement but an entire week of adventure. I look back on it now, and it surely sets the tone for the rest of our lives. We love traveling and experiencing new places! I also included some other great places to visit along the way that we’ve visited at other times.

Monterey

We started at Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf. With its local shops, dessert shops, seafood restaurants, it makes a nice stop before heading down highway 1. The Wharf has our FAVORITE spot for clam chowder. The kind of clam chowder that you dream about and can never find a comparison. Believe me, we’ve searched for anything remotely similar and no luck!

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Old Fisherman’s Grotto
Old Fisherman's Grotto

Our favorite clam chowder in a bread bowl. Go there, get it, you won’t regret it!
Best clam chowder in monterey 5702938376_c0b76c9a44_o

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a great place to experience before heading down Highway 1. Roger and I have been here twice already because we love it so much. The sea otters are our favorite!

17 mile drive

17 mile drive is a small detour that runs across famous golf courses in addition to beautiful views. There are beautiful homes, mansions, castles?, that Roger and I love to pretend we can afford one day. The Lone Cypress is also along this road and is a historical California landmark.

Carmel-By-The-Sea

Carmel-By-The-Sea is not your average beach town. We love the brick roads, local cafes, and historic homes. The white sand beach is just another perfect stop before getting onto Highway 1.

Big Sur/Highway 1

Roll your windows down, enjoy the weather, stop frequently, take in the views, and hike the trails. It can get a bit touristy and crowded, but totally worth it, as every stop is a photo opportunity. The Bixby Bridge is another infamous picture ready stop.

Big Sur

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Hiking along the paths of the Big Sur with no idea what was about to happen!

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SURPRISE! BEST DAY EVER!

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Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach

McWay Falls

We did not get to stop to see McWay Falls, but we hear it’s another one of California coastal gems.

 

 

But wait, there’s more! We headed back up north to Santa Cruz and spent the rest of the week in San Francisco. Look out for Part II.

Sweet Sunday

Happy Sunday all! Roger and I got out of the house today for a mini-adventure around downtown St. Pete. I slapped on some sunscreen, concealer, and put my hair up in a bun. It’s hot as heck outside but I desperately needed some vitamin D. We stopped at Swah-rey for the first time to fulfill the cupcake craving I was having. I got a Red Velvet mini with coffee. You can also get WINE with your mini cupcake, what a cute concept! Roger got the Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake, which was totally appropriate for sharing.

Swah-rey

Red velvet
We headed to Northshore Park to walk off the carbs and sugar. It’s always nice to be around people who are running, biking, out with their families, and playing Pokemon (lol!). Roger and I are really appreciating spending quality time together. We are also eager to go to the places we have been meaning to visit in St. Pete because… LIFE UPDATE: We finally found a house! Our soon to be first home. More on this soon 🙂

Northshore Park

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