08.13.2014

Weekend packing – Summer edition

Weekend Packing A couple of weekends ago we went on a trip to Nevada City, and I decided that packing light was the way to go. As I mentioned before in a previous post, I tend to pack a lot, especially when we drive. There’s some conversation in my head that goes like this: “I don’t need to pack much. What’s the point? We are just going to Nevada City. It’s super casual there.” “That’s silly, we are driving, I can park whatever I want. There’s no maximum liquid allowance or weight limit.”
So, the latter nonsense tends to win. But, this specific weekend, I decided that I was going to pack super light, and you know what, it’s such a breeze! First, you don’t need to keep track of all your clothes and extra stuff you want to bring, and second, it takes no time to unpack, which, let’s face it, is always a pain.

I decided to use this small bag to limit what I was bringing. I wore my hat, a maxi dress and flats, and the rest went in the bag.

Weekend Packing

The bag

In this case I decided to bring this one from Lo & Sons. I hadn’t used it in a while and I wanted to test it for this specific occasion since I tend to use it as a handbag.

Clothes

I love to use packing cubes, but due to the shape of my bag I used a jumbo plastic bag. I feel it was easier to pack it, but for suitcases the packing cubes are the way to go. I packed three tops, two pairs of shorts, a maxi dress, pajamas, a bikini and undergarments.

Weekend Packing

Toiletries

This time I used my 3-1-1 bag for when I fly. Packing this little bag is not too bad; the key is to use little containers to pack your creams. There’s really no reason to pack a big jar for two or three uses. My only advice is to be careful with these kinds of containers. I remember packing one that I couldn’t open and had to throw it out and make another trip to the store.

For makeup, I just brought this little bag which is pretty much what I use every day. In the end I didn’t even use it.

Other necessities

In order to save space, I just packed my iPad instead of a laptop. I didn’t bring a handbag but I brought a wristlet that lately I am using as a wallet.

Weekend Packing

Done, easy breezy. Let’s see what happens in the winter!

Do you have any tips to maximize space when packing?

 

08.11.2014

Dreaming of… Thailand

Temple Complex - North Thailand

Temple Complex – North Thailand

Lately, Thailand is the number one country that keeps coming back in conversations with friends and family. How can you not be lured by those beaches? And let me tell you, I’m not a beach person; I can only stand a couple of hours at a time. But if we are talking Thailand, I’ll make an effort…
My sister went there a few years ago, and fell in love with the country and can’t wait to go back. My friend spent a few weeks there too, and same thing. It was an unbelievable experience. I really hope we can go there in the next few years. I have never been to Asia, and I really want to see that other side of the world.

Stay

Phuket Beach

Phuket Beach

The offer is huge and pretty affordable. There are plenty of safe, clean hostels for the world travellers. And of course, you can find the most incredible resorts. One of them is the Katathani Phuket Beach Resort, which is a beach-front property in Phuket. My sister absolutely loved this place. It’s serene, beautiful, the service is excellent and the food is delicious.

Do

Yi Peng Lantern Festival - Thailand

Yi Peng Lantern Festival – photo credit Mark Fischer

Depending on the time of the year, you can catch the Lantern Festival. Seriously, I just can’t wait to see this. It’s a religious ceremony in Thai that happens in Chiang Mai. There’s a second English ceremony geared to foreigners that happens a week later.

Pattaya Elephant Show

Pattaya Elephant Show – I’m not volunteering for this

You can also do an elephant ride or volunteer at an elephant sanctuary, like my friend did. I have to say that if you read my post here, you’ll see that the ride is as much as I would do and after lots of begging from my husband. That’s a big stretch for moi.

Wat Chai Watthanaram Temple Buddhism Ayutthaya

Wat Chai Watthanaram Temple Buddhism Ayutthaya

There are quite a few temples to visit, with incredible culture and architecture that is just out of this world. The statues and monuments are so intricate, elaborate, and bright, so different from the Europe I’m used to. How can you not want to go there?

Eat

Lots and lots of Thai food, or food, as it is called in Thailand. I really love this food; the mix of flavors, the colors, the texture, the 1500-calorie pad Thai… Thai food is about the complexity of its ingredients coming together in a sweet and spicy way. Don’t forget to take a break for some tea. Check out TWG Tea or for tea Erawan Tea Room.

Floating Market - Thailand

Floating Market – Thailand

Sunset - Thailand

Sunset

 

Sunset

Let me know about your experience travelling to Thailand or other exotic countries.

08.08.2014

Outside Lands Music Festival

Outside Lands Music Festival

Outside Lands via Brandon Carson

The Sunset and Richmond neighborhoods of San Francisco were originally known as the “Outside Lands”, which were the original suburbs of San Francisco, before Marin County became “the” suburb. Needles to say, they aren’t suburbs any more, although they are still very quiet neighborhoods. Now, if you are familiar with music festivals then you’ve probably heard of the Outside Lands Music Festival.

Outside Lands Crowd - outside lands music festival

Outside Lands Crowd via Edward Blake

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08.06.2014

Basic Kitchen Tools

Kitchen Basics Basic kitchen tools? Yeah, if I can figure out how to make chicken in a microwave, that’s pretty much the only tool I need. I used to “cook” mash potatoes from a box. The thought of that now makes me cringe.

I really have to thank the Food Network for this one. When we moved to NYC we didn’t have cable, but for some reason we had this channel. I figure it was because their studios are right there, but I never knew the real reason.
I remember watching 30 Minute Meals and thinking, wow, I can do that too. I would watch the show, then buy ingredients I wasn’t familiar with (molasses?) and others I may have been familiar with but, I probably hadn’t tried before (celery, for example). Eventually I developed an obsession for cooking and that’s the only thing I wanted to do. I even thought about going to Culinary School, but ended up going to business school. I still regret not taking formal cooking classes. Over the years, after spending way too much money on kitchen tools, I can say that there are some that are the minimum that anybody should have to make their lives easier in the kitchen. Here are my basic kitchen tools:

  1. A sharp Chef’s knife. This is to me, the single most important piece of equipment. You can do anything with it. Granted, there are other specialty knives, but when you start, you just really need this one. You don’t need to go ultra fancy, but a good piece will last you a long time; I bought mine 11 years ago.
  2. A wooden cutting board. The bigger the better, although they can be a little bit difficult to clean. Wood is better than plastic for the knife. Plastic will dull the blade.
  3. Plastic cutting board. This is mainly for raw meat. It’s easier to sanitize and you can also throw it in the dishwasher.
  4. Measuring spoons and measuring cups (dry and liquid). These are important for baking since you have to be very precise. They are less important for cooking, especially if you are an experienced cook. If you are just starting out, take the time to measure everything until you get the hang of it.
  5. Mixing bowls. Making meatballs? Cookies? You’ll need these bowls. I prefer glass to metal because I can put them in the microwave if I need to.
  6. Baking sheet. It can be used both to bake cookies or your favorite salmon recipe.
  7. Grater. Great for grating and zesting lemons, oranges, limes, nutmeg, etc… There different kinds for cheese too.
  8. Food processor. Use it for pesto, hummus, purees, almond butter. What I like about a food processor over a blender, if you can only have one, is that it can deal with both dry and wet ingredients. A blender needs liquids.
  9. Vegetable Peeler. You can always use a small knife but this tool will make your life easier. It can also be used to make “vegetable ribbons”.
  10. Whisk. Use it to make sauces, scrambled eggs or whipped cream.
  11. Wooden spoon. I love this spoon because for some reason I feel professional, but any spoon, wooden or silicon, will work.
  12. Can opener. Self-explanatory.
  13. Tongs. Perfect for picking up food from a distance without piercing it.

This list is by no means exclusive, or mandatory, to come up with some awesome dishes. But I could go on and on in regards to kitchen essentials; pans anyone? What are your basics in the kitchen?

08.04.2014

Weekend Getaway – Nevada City

Downtown Nevada City - Broad Street

Downtown Nevada City – Broad Street

We didn’t have any vacation plans for the summer. We went to Venice/Santa Monica at the end of the June, but that was it. It doesn’t bother me much because being in San Francisco, it doesn’t really feel like summer so I don’t feel the need to escape. But, we still need some nice weather, a beach, a river or something! So, enter Nevada City.

Nevada City

Little shopping area

We are very lucky to live about 2.5 hours from Nevada City, which is perfect for a quick weekend getaway. This beautiful old mining town is located in the California Gold Country.
I remember the first time I went there, a little over 10 years ago (it feels like a lifetime). We arrived at night and when we entered the main street, Broad Street, I thought the town had just been taken out from a western movie. They keep the town with that feel, with its little stores, hotels, inns, and restaurants that remind you of the Saloons from the gold rush era.

Nevada City

Main Street

What amazes me the most, is that for such a little town, there’s always some kind of event. The restaurants are fantastic. There is a great Thai restaurant, and also a great Mexican restaurant, Las Katarinas – I always have to go there and I always order the same thing. There’s also Lefty’s Grill, which has a little bit of everything, and some other good restaurants. The offering is pretty broad for such a little town.

The other advantage of this town is that it is an hour and a half away from the beaches of North Lake Tahoe, to enjoy during the summer. There’s also the Yuba River, which I believe you can swim in certain areas but I haven’t really been there.

National Hotel - Nevada City

The National Hotel is supposed to be haunted

Nevada City is nestled in the mountains, literally you are surrounded by trees and hiking trails, so If you like nature, kayaking, fishing, hiking or biking, this is a good place to visit. I, for the most part, spend most of the time relaxing eating out, walking down the creek, and going up to Tahoe, especially if there’s snow (we know how bad it’s been this past season).

Have you ever been to Nevada City or the surrounding areas? Where do you like to go for a quick weekend getaway?