Christmastime at Walt Disney World

There is nothing like Christmastime at the Walt Disney World Resort, and luckily, Christmas started early enough for us to enjoy all of the festivities. We spent our last full day of this trip at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

Here are a few of the day’s highlights:

Meeting Marie from The Aristocats

As we entered Main Street USA, I spotted my favorite fluffy white kitty: Marie! My sister and BIL were kind enough to wait in line with me to get a photo with her. Meow!

Lunch at Be Our Guest
My sister somehow got us Fastpasses for lunch at Be Our Guest. Yes, they have Fastpasses for a restaurant. It is just that popular! Disney did a beautiful job bringing the Beast’s Castle to life.

We pre-ordered our meals prior to our trip, so we just needed to confirm that we did not have any changes before we headed inside to find a place to sit. 
Finding a place to sit actually takes some decision-making skills because there are three distinct dining rooms within the restaurant. We took time exploring each one. 
The Grand Ballroom
The first room you entered after you have put your order in is the Grand Ballroom. It is also the largest of the three dining rooms. 
The ballroom was decorated in its Christmas-best with adorable Beauty and the Beast themed ornaments on the tree and wreaths. 
We thought the room was a bit too noisy, so we headed to one of the two side rooms. 

The Rose Gallery


We decided to enjoy our meal in the gorgeous Rose Gallery. The room was filled with tapestries and paintings of the characters from Beauty and the Beast. 
But the centerpiece of the room was a huge music box in the center of the dining room.

Our meal arrived a few minutes later via this rolling cart. 

We shared a potato leek soup, which was rich and creamy. 

 

 I had the roast beef sandwich with pomme frites and was quite happy with my choice. My dining mates had the croque monsieur and were not impressed.
 

For dessert, we spilt three cupcakes: Triple Chocolate Cupcake (chocolate sponge cake, chocolate mouse filling and chocolate ganache), The Master’s Cupcake (chocolate sponge cake topped with Lumiere’s special “Grey Stuff”) and Lemon Meringue Cupcake (vanilla sponge cake, lemon custard filling and flamed meringue icing). Yum!

 

 The West Wing

The final room is The West Wing. It was entirely too dark in that room for us to be able to eat our meal, but it was so cool to walk into. I watched Beauty and the Beast 900 times when I was in elementary school, and loved seeing this room in “real life.”

I highly recommend Be Our Guest for a unique dining experience while you are at the Magic Kingdom!

Hollywood Studios

We spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening at Hollywood Studios. We got to ride on my three favorite rides: Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror and Aerosmith’s Rock N Roller Coaster. 

I also got to meet another one of my favorite characters! James P. Sullivan/Sulley!! I love him. 

I also got to show Sulley his minature self, which he was very interested in.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Although we ran through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on the Wine & Dine Half Marathon course, it was very different seeing them during park hours. First of all, during the half marathon, the lights were not synced to music, thus they were not dancing. 
Second of all, it was raining during the race instead of (fake) snowing! Whee!

Stockings with the Osborne Family’s names on them


Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

We headed back to the Magic Kingdom after dinner to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. On those nights, visitors need a separate ticket to attend the Christmas party. We arrived too late to see Elsa from Frozen light up Cinderella’s Castle, but it was still a sight to behold. So sparkly!

The Christmas Parade was underway just as we got there. We saw all of our favorite characters dressed in their winter best. Of course, there were some Frozen characters making their first appearance this year.

Along with the parade, there was also a fireworks show.

Since the park was not as crowded as a normal night, it was the perfect opportunity to hop in some shorter than usual lines. We rode on the Seven Dwarves’ Mine Train for the first time, and also rode the Jingle Cruise.

Christmas Party guests also had unlimited access to hot chocolate and cookies. Once we were cookie-ed out, we asked for the “healthy” alternative, which were apple slices. Perfect!

Well, that marks the end of my recent journey through Walt Disney World. As always it was a lot of fun for this kid at heart!
Thank you, Walt and Mickey!
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving! I will be spending the weekend here in Albuquerque with friends and family. I hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday!

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival took place this year over the span of 53 days in September through November, with Wine & Dine happening on the final weekend of the Festival. The Food & Wine Festival lets festival goers sample dishes and drinks from a multitude of countries from around the globe. Most dishes seemed to average at about $4 each and drinks anywhere from around $3 for a tasting glass to under $10 for a beer flight. 

We spent the morning after the half marathon hiding under the covers and finally rolled in to Epcot in time for lunch. Luckily, it was only a 10 minute walk from the Yacht Club directly to the International Gateway entrance to Epcot. 

Our first stop was France.
I picked up the boeuf bourguignon (braised short ribs in cabernet with mashed potatoes) – $5.75
Next stop: Brazil
Here, we shared the Brazilian cheese bread (Pao de Queijo) – $3.25
While I headed to the Morocco booth, my sister and BIL waited in line at Belgium. We reconvened to share a few things. 
We split the Beer Flight from Belgium, which featured Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Leffe Blonde and Stella Artois Cidre – $9.25
From Morocco, we had the Spicy Shrimp Roll with cilantro and mint sauce – $5.00
Our final stop on this leg of tasting around the world was Ireland
We had what turned out to be two of my favorite dishes. First was the lobster and seafood fisherman’s pie – $6.25
And the warm chocolate pudding with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur custard – $3.50 
We took a break from the eating to ride Soarin‘ and meet some characters. Here are me and Mickey Mouse! 
Then it was promptly back to more food! I started at Greece for their Tzatziki martini featuring Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka and BOLS Natural Yoghurt Liquer – $7.75. It was a little watered down for my taste. 
We also visited Puerto Rico to share the Ensalada de carrucho (Caribbean conch salad with onion, tomato and cilantro) – $4.25. 
Also from Puerto Rico were tostones (fried green plantains) with mayo ketchup – $3.50 

We hit up the Refreshment Port for a croissant doughnut – $4.69 and a Dole Whip – $3.99. Despite growing up near Disneyland, I am embarrassed to admit that this was my first Dole Whip. It was tasty but not as tasty as the doughnut. That thing was addictive. We actually went back at the end of the night and ordered three doughnuts to take home for breakfast the next morning. Yum!
Our second leg of eating ended with some disappointing dishes. From Scotland was the overcooked seared sea scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon – $4.50
And from Canada was the Canadian cheddar cheese soup – $4.25. I read so much about this dish that I was really excited to taste it, but unfortunately, it looked and had the consistency of white gravy. 
Another break from eating was in order. We rode Mission: Space and spent some time in the Festival Center, where there was a Ghirardelli Chocolate booth that was showcasing Disney character scenes made entirely of chocolate!
Chocolate Toy Story scene

They were also selling food-themed artwork. Honestly, I think Remy and Emil should be the Food & Wine mascots instead of Mickey!

As our night wound down, we still had a few eats to cross off our list. As we entered World Showcase, we made a stop at the Craft Beers pavilion to try their house-made country pate with pickled carrots and farmhouse bread – $3.75.
I made a non-Food-and-Wine-Festival-related request to stop at the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway
They ran out of Schoolbread so I tried the Lefse (potato flatbread rolled with sweet cinnamon butter) instead. 
Nope, still not done eating yet! We stopped by South Korea and picked up one tasty dish and one disappointing dish. The tasty one was the roasted pork lettuce wrap with kimchi slaw – $3.75
Not so tasty was the Kimchi dog with spicy mustard sauce – $4.00. So not worth it!
At this time of night and from the World Showcase, we were afforded a gorgeous view of Spaceship Earth
We still weren’t quite done for the night, so we stopped by the Brewers’ Collection for a beer flight consisting of: Radeberger Pilsner, BraufactuM Colonia, BraufactuM Palor and Schofferhofer Grapefruit – $9.25
While we enjoyed our beers, we shared the Kielbasa and potato pierogi with caramelized onions and sour cream from Poland
Then it was off to the Chase Lounge located on the third floor of the American Adventure Pavilion. Access to the Lounge is an exclusive benefit for Disney Visa cardholders, my sister is one. The Lounge is a beautiful space to relax. There was complimentary drinks, charging stations, lots of seating and even video games. Perfect place to rest our feet for a little while. 
Our final stop for the night was back to France, where we visited L’Artisan des Glaces for a chocolate macaron ice sandwich. Yum!  

The night ended back at the Yacht Club, where we enjoyed the fireworks from our balcony.

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival was the perfect way to spend the day after our wet and wild Wine & Dine Half Marathon! If you ever get a chance to attend, you will be sure to have plenty of eats and drinks to choose from. 

    runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2014 – Race Recap

    Wine & Dine Half Marathon Start Line
    My fourth half marathon was crowded, soggy and sloooow, but no matter how not ideal the Wine & Dine Half Marathon was, I am proud to say that I finished, especially when you consider that 14,000 people signed up for the race and fewer than 12,000 finished!
    Race night prep started the night before with the laying out of my race outfit. My sister, brother-in-law and I decided to do group costumes. I was Sulley, Chris was Mike and Rebecca was Celia from Monsters, Inc.
    Flat Irene ready to race!
    Sulley, Celia and Mike in the Yacht Club lobby

    After our naps, we got changed and headed downstairs to catch the race transportation to the start line. The race instructions indicated that we needed to be on the bus no later than 8 pm, but we were still waiting for the buses when the 8 o’clock hour rolled around.

    Waiting for the bus? Time to take pictures!

    Once we arrived at the starting area, we headed to bag drop-off and got in line for the port-a-potties. Then we were herded to our corrals, and we didn’t have time to take pictures with Chefs Chip and Dale. Sad face.

    At 10 pm the first corral was off, and luckily, we did not have to wait much longer. We all decided to join my sister in corral I and we started at around 10:30 pm. During Princess last year, there were fewer corrals with more people in each corral, so it took forever for some back corrals to start. For this race, there were more corrals with fewer people in each corral so there was less time between corrals.

    There was a lot of talk on the days leading up to the half marathon about the weather and for good reason because it just did not cooperate at all. It rained the ENTIRE time before, during and after our race.

    We began the race at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and from there did the three miles to Animal Kingdom.

    Mile 1: 14:15
    Mile 2: 15:17
    Mile 3: 21:14

    Our group decided to start and end the race together, and to do this, our plan was to meet up at each mile marker. We had a bit of miscommunication on the first few mile markers, but eventually found our rhythm and this plan worked out quite well.

    Between miles 3 and 4, we arrived at the Animal Kingdom. This part of the course was extremely narrow and there were times where it was impossible to run.

    Entrance to Animal Kingdom

    Mile 4: 17:03

    Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life

    I mentioned in previous posts that my training for this half marathon was pretty nonexistent. The farthest distance I ran during training was a 10K, so I did not have a time goal. Instead, I wanted to have fun and run with my sister. I also learned that although my sister had run twice the number of runDisney races as I have, she never was able to stop and take photos with the characters, so we definitely made a point to do that.

    Me and Timon. Where’s Pumbaa?

    As you can see, I had to add a layer of clothing to my Sulley costume. It was so cold and wet. The long sleeve jacket stayed on the whole race!

    Pirates of the Carribean ship

    The next four miles took us back on the streets, as we headed to Hollywood Studios.

    Mile 5: 17:22

    Mile 6: 13:51 *fastest mile*
    Mile 7: 14:44

    Mile 8: 13:56
    Mile 9: 15:52

    Although we covered most of our distance on the streets, running through the parks is one of the things that make runDisney races so special.

    Running past the Tower of Terror

    Mile 10: 18:46

    Since the Sorcerer’s Hat is being torn down early next year, I had to take a photo with it!

    Good bye, Sorcerer’s Hat!

    Besides running through the public areas of the parks, we sometimes even get to go through some of the castmember only sections of the parks. For instance, this time we ran past the Costume Department.

    Costume Department at Hollywood Studios

    We also got to meet up with Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible.

    My favorite part of the race, though, was running through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! We took our time at this part of the course because we would never be able to see the lights with so few people around us. I am one of those people who is bothered by how early the Christmas season seems to be pushed up every year, but I was not bothered in the least by this sight. It was so beautiful!

    Before leaving Hollywood Studios, I ran in to Boba Fett and only got this blurry photo out of it!

    Mile marker 11 took us to the entrance of Hollywood Studios and I found myself waiting there for Mike and Celia for a very, very long time. At one point, I wondered if they had been swept and if I stayed there any longer, if I would be swept. People kept running past me, and then a massive herd of people ran towards me like it was the apocalypse.
    Then I saw my sister and BIL running towards me and yelling, “Keep going. The balloon ladies!” Then I saw them with my own eyes, the mythical creatures known as the balloon ladies. For those who don’t know, runDisney requires you to keep a 16 minute/mile pace. The balloon ladies are the very last people to start the race and keep the required pace. If they pass you on the course, there is a possibly that you will be forced off the course and not finish. In runDisney jargon, this is called “being swept.”
    Apparently, despite starting in corral I, we were going so slow that the balloon ladies caught us!

    Mile 11: 20:55

    Once I saw the balloon ladies, I took off without my family members and met back up with them at mile marker 12 since there was no where for you to get picked off the course at that point.

    The final three miles of the course were so crowded that I could not gain much ground. Plus, from Hollywood Studios, we headed to the BoardWalk and it was so wet and slippery that I did not want to risk falling. So we walked the remainder of the race. We finally entered Epcot for the last leg of the course and crossed the finish line in 3:52:16, which is 45 minutes slower than my first half marathon!

    Mile 12: 19:54
    Mile 13: 19:26

    I was hoping that the weather would calm down, but it seemed to pick up instead. We got our medals, refreshments, picked up our checked bags and grabbed our adult beverages before deciding to bypass the Finish Line Party and headed back to the hotel instead. At the end of the night, none of us were happy campers.

    Despite the weather, I did wind up having fun during the race. True, it would have been much more fun without the inclement weather, but what can you do?

    I honestly think this one was my last Walt Disney World race for the foreseeable future. I am glad that I did it!

    Disney’s BoardWalk and Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Lounge

    I was hoping to have my Wine & Dine Half Marathon race recap up today, but I have been so exhausted that I couldn’t get myself to write a long post. I think all of this traveling and home renovating is finally catching up to me! Instead, I bring you the day of the half marathon.

    Since Wine & Dine is a night race, we had the whole day to do as we pleased. After breakfast, we walked from our hotel, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, to Disney’s BoardWalk. The BoardWalk was inspired by the Atlantic City BoardWalk and is a lined with shops and restaurants.

    Views of Disney’s BoardWalk from the Beach Club

    We took a leisurely stroll and visited some of the shops.

    From the BoardWalk, we also had great views of the Yacht Club from across the water. I was hoping to fit in a run around the BoardWalk on Monday or Tuesday of our trip, but that was not to be.  
    In the afternoon, we headed over to the Grand Floridian for afternoon tea at the Garden View Lounge. One of the things I dislike about Walt Disney World is the amount of time you spend getting from one place to another. It took us over an hour to get to the Grand Floridian and we were late by a significant amount of time for our reservation!
    This was my first time visiting the Grand Floridian and it is as gorgeous as I had imagined. I was hoping that the gingerbread house would be up by our visit, but it was not. I read that they started building it a day or two after our vacation was over. 
    Beautiful lobby of the Grand Floridian
    Chandelier in the Grand Floridian

    We finally made it to the Garden View Lounge and were greeted by Chip and Mrs. Potts on the marble floor! Such an awesome touch.

    We each ordered the Buckingham Tea, which included a pot of tea, assorted tea sandwiches, a tart and scone and a choice of dessert.

    Assorted tea sandwiches

    Jam tart and scone served with preserves, devon cream and lemon curd
    Strawberries and cream

     Everything was delicious, except for the jam tart which was very, very sweet. My pot of tea guaranteed that I had enough caffeine to get me through the rest of the day.

    As we were leaving the Grand Floridian, this band was playing in the lobby. So fancy.

    We made our way back to the Yacht Club, purchased some food for our pre-race meal and took a short nap. We had plans to go for a swim before our nap, but it was getting cold.

    Next up, a look at my soggiest and slowest half marathon ever!

    runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Health & Fitness Expo 2014

    This fall has certainly been a busy travel season for me. I returned Tuesday night from a five day trip to Walt Disney World to run my fourth half marathon: the 2014 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Wine & Dine takes place during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and at the beginning of Disney’s Christmas season, so along with running 13.1 miles, I spent some time taking in the seasonal sights at WDW.

    My sister, brother-in-law and I arrived in Florida on Friday afternoon, and after checking in to our hotel, headed to the Expo, which was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

    The Expo itself was nothing to write home about. In fact, there was not a whole lot going on. 
    It was already pretty late in the evening, so the lines had dwindled by the time we got there. Picking up our packets and purchasing our race memorabilia was a breeze.
    I did have to stop by the runDisney booth to see the Star Wars and Avengers medals in person!
    We also spotted the one and only Jeff Galloway and wanted to meet him, but there were too many people having 15 minutes conversations with him. So I just took a creeper photo of him.
    For the rest of the evening, we hung out in Downtown Disney for dinner and shopping.

    Pluto water art in Downtown Disney

    Christmas Mickey water art in Downtown Disney

     

    This is my third runDisney half marathon and is possibly my last, so I decided to dress up this time. Can you guess who I was?

    That’s right, Duffy! I was Sulley (James P. Sullivan) from Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University.

    Can’t wait to tell you about the rest of my trip and especially about race day!

    Dinner at The Wallace and A Day in San Diego

    [Sorry for the weird formatting. That is what happens when I try to blog on a mobile device! Edited for formatting and added a missing photo]

    After Hello Kitty Con, I had about an hour to rest before meeting up with my good friend for dinner in my old neighborhood, Culver City. I used to be able to walk to Downtown Culver City and loved being in that part of town.

    We met up at The Wallace, and neither of us had dined there before. The Wallace is a shared plate establishment, so we ordered four dishes to split.

    First up, a jar of chicken liver mousse. So yummy.

    Then we had roasted bone marrow. I have only had bone marrow once before and it made me feel super gassy for the next three days. This version was much better and did not have the unpleasant after effects.

    Our third plate was a persimmon salad that also had pomegranate seeds. It was a refreshing dish. Persimmons are one of my favorite fruits, but I had never had them in a salad before or cooked for that matter.
    While our first three dishes were delicious, the fourth one was pretty gross. We had monkfish and it was served with crab, fennel and apples. The worst part of it was the sauce. It tasted kind of sweet and ketchup-y. Not yummy, disappointing to end our savory dishes on that note.
    For dessert, we shared the caramel pudding with graham crackers and whipped cream. Thankfully, this dish was a good finale to our meal. It was not to sweet and I loved the added texture of the crumbled graham crackers
    Although it was Halloween, my meal at The Wallace was the only thing I did that evening and I was fine with that.
    The next morning, my parents and I hit the road and headed down to San Diego for a day. This was a familiar sight off the 5 Freeway. Boobies! Okay, they aren’t really boobies. They are part of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
    After meeting up with the baby brother and his wife, we had lunch at Ramen Yamadaya. I started with a pork belly bun, which had way too much mayonnaise on it. Luckily, I was able to scrap most of it off. We also shared a helping of Japanese-style potato salad. I was so excited that they had tsukemen ramen. The broth was rich and flavorful, while the noodles had that firm snap that makes ramen ramen. I can always eat ramen any time, any day.
    After lunch, we headed over to Old T own, where there was a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival going on. There was face painting and sugar skull decorating booths set up all along the street. Altars were also beautifully decorated and on display throughout Old Town.
    That evening we waited over an hour to eat all you can eat Korean barbecue. I must have been so hungry that I forgot to take photos.
    The next day, I had to head back to Albuquerque, so we left San Diego after brunch to make the drive back to LA. My final meal for this trip was at Elijah’s, a Jewish deli. I was torn on what to order, but finally decided on the whitefish salad platter. It was yummy and so much food!
    My trips to California always remind me of my past life living in that state.
    Hope you all remember our Veterans today!

    Hello Kitty Con 2014

    Sanrio threw a huge 40th anniversary party for Hello Kitty last weekend in Los Angeles in the form of the four day long Hello Kitty Con. It also happened to be the first ever HK Con in the whole world! I just had to be there, even if it was for just one day. I was a huge Sanrio fan as a child and I still love Hello Kitty and her friends.

    Hello Kitty Con took place in the Little Tokyo section of Downtown LA at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and the Japanese American National Museum. Hello Kitty was all over the city from billboards to roadside banners.

    We arrived just around 10 am, when the doors officially opened. We still had to pick up our badges and wait in the entrance line.

    Once we got inside, there were lines, lines, lines and people everywhere! There was also so many things to see and do. Although I was not able to do everything there was to do, here is a look at what I saw.
    The Coin Purse
    This little treasure is what started it all! The first Hello Kitty product from 1975.

    Lovely Kitty Wonder

    Curated by Stephanie Nguyen of JapanLA Clothing, this fashion exhibit featured designs inspired by Hello Kitty.

    Vintage Village
    I started getting into Sanrio around the fourth grade, so that would have been 1989. I know I owned some of the items that were on display in the Vintage Village. Too bad I don’t still have them!

    Friendship Village
    This area featured a Hello Kitty House and loads of Hello Kitty photo opportunities. If only Raisin Bread would let me decorate our entire house with Hello Kitty!

    Hello Kitty Topiary

    Hello Kitty Kitchen

    Hello Kitty Office

    Hello Kitty Living Room


    Hello Kitty Zen Garden
    Located within the Super Supermarket was this adorable torii gate.


    Hello Kitty Sweet Happy Plaza
    In addition to the indoor activities, there was a section outside the MOCA with food trucks, a penny stretcher and free activities like pumpkin decorating, nail art, face painting and crafts for kids.


    Hello Kitty Cafe
    The first Hello Kitty Cafe in the US will be opening in 2015. This food truck version gave us a sneak peek of what they have in store.

    Temporary Tattoos
    My awesome temporary tattoo! There were so many to choose from that I had a hard time deciding which one to get!

    Workshops
    I attended two of the sold out workshops on the day I went. They were a lot of fun, but I already felt pretty rushed because the lines were so long and it was so crowded. The workshops definitely ate in to my convention time.

    Hello Kitty Spam Musubi
    Katie Chin (cookbook author, television chef, etc.) taught us how to make the most adorable Spam musubi in the world. It was easy because we had a mold, which was also being sold at the Super Supermarket.

    Me and my finished Hello Kitty Spam Musubi

    Hello Kitty Plush
    Crafter Steff Bomb showed us how to make a Hello Kitty cupcake plush by hand. I actually did not have enough time to finish my creation.

    In my haste, I also forgot to take home the felt that I had cut for her whiskers. This is what my plush currently looks like.

    Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty at JANM
    Convention-goers were able to see the Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum with their convention badge. Unlike the rest of the con, this exhibit will be on view until April 2015.

    The exhibition was organized into two general sections. The first showcased the variety of Hello Kitty goods that have been created from sports items, figurines, household goods and more. 
    Hello Kitty phone dangles

    The second part of the exhibition featured Hello Kitty the Muse. We saw artwork created by contemporary artists that were inspired by Hello Kitty.

    Lady Gaga’s Hello Kitty Dress
    Katy Perry’s Hello Kitty corset
    Hello Kitty Con was a lot of fun! It was crowded and rushed, but it was worth it!

    New and Old Favorites in Los Angeles

    Last Wednesday after work, I hopped on a plane for the less than two hour flight to Los Angeles. The weekend was full of family, friends, my favorite foods and Hello Kitty!

    After my late arrival, my parents and I headed to Gardena for dinner at Lee’s Tofu. I have been craving soon doo boo now that it has started to get chilly. My boiling bowl of spicy seafood and tofu sure hit the spot!

    After dinner, we went to 85C Bakery, also in Gardena, to pick up some Taiwanese pastries and baked goods. I have been hearing so much about this bakery that I am happy I was finally able to make it there. I enjoyed not one but two of the buns the next morning for breakfast. Yum!

    Bakery stash

    Thursday was a solitary day for me. I am definitely an introvert and one of the things that actually relaxes me is exploring on my own. I headed over to Koreatown for lunch at Ma Dang Gook Soo for some cold Korean noodles.

    I started off with an order of yummy kimbap.

    Then I had a huge bowl of cold spicy acorn noodles with veggies. Waay too much food, but the noodles were delicious!

    This was followed by a four hour visit to the Korean spa. I am not quite sure why, but this was my first time going to a Korean spa. I never made it while I was living in LA, but I felt like I was prepared for what was about to go down. I arrived at Olympic Spa two hours before my appointment time to make full use of the facilities.

    After showering, I headed to the mugwort tea pool and then spent the rest of the time alternating between the steam room and three saunas. There was a dry clay sauna, an infrared sauna and a Himalayan sea salt sauna. I also made sure to drink lots of water and barley tea, rest and dip into the cold pool.

    My appointment time eventually arrived. I had the “Goddess” and it was an hour and forty-five minutes of bliss. It included a full body scrub, massage, shampoo, facial and moisturizer. It felt amazing. After my treatment, I laid out a blanket and pillow on the hot jade floor and took a little rest before hesitantly changing and heading out of the spa. If you have never been to a Korean spa before, I highly recommend it, just make sure you read up on it before you go so you know what to expect!

    Next, I headed to Melrose Avenue next to visit JapanLA. I was hoping they would have some Hello Kitty stuff available so I could just get it there instead of waiting for the convention.

    So much adorable stuff to buy. I left with a new tote bag and pin (Hello Kitty, of course)!

    I was planning to meet up with a friend in Culver City for dinner, and I still had a couple of hours to kill, so I decided to get a flu shot (lol!) and then reward myself with a boba from one of my old haunts, Cafe 70 Degrees!

    Almond milk tea with boba

    For dinner, we went to Versailles and shared their famous garlic chicken and garlic pork. I cannot remember when the last time I ate here was, but my memory did not do it justice. It was way yummier than I recall, especially the chicken.

    Finally, despite how full she was, I somehow managed to convince my friend to go to Scoops Westside with me. My favorite Los Angeles ice cream shop made a great ending to the day!

    The westside location has brown brown bread, versus brown bread at the East Hollywood location. Apparently, this just means loads more Grape Nuts. It was super yummy! I also tried the yogurt honey toffee.

    It was a long and eventful day! The next day had even more fun in store for me.

    Sneak Peek: Los Angeles

    Hope you all had a Happy Halloween and that November is off to a good start. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you will know that I was in California for a few days and also that the main event was Hello Kitty Con
    My visits to California are always too short and always a good break from “real life.” I will bring you more about my trip during the week. For now, here is the grand entrance to Hello Kitty Con.
    Hello Kitty Con at the MOCA Geffen Contemporary