5 Reasons to Visit Thailand

it has been a dream of mine for quite some time to visit thailand and last week i was able to do so. before visiting thailand, i had never been to asia so i didn’t know exactly what to expect when stepping off the plane. but let me just say that thailand exceeded my dreams and provided me with so many amazing memories that i will treasure my whole life.

here are 5 reasons why you need to visit thailand….

Reasons to Visit Thailand

1. the scenery. every where i turned i felt like i was walking through a post card. from the high rises in bangkok to the jungle in chiang mai to the white sand in phi phi. every part of thailand is breathtaking in its own way.

2. the culture. before heading to thailand, i read a lot about the culture and etiquette.  i think it is important to know customs of any country before heading there so you understand the people more and do not offend them (sometimes without even knowing it). for example, when entering a thai home or temple (or some restaurants and spas even) it is customary to remove your shoes. second fun fact – did you know thailand has had the same king for 60+ years? the king and all the royal family are held in extremely high regard and you must never speak negatively about them. if you do, you could find yourself in prison.

3. the spirituality. there are so many temples to see while in thailand and these temples are viewed as the holiest of places. our tour guide in bangkok, tao, told us that the country is 95% buddhist but they do have a catholic church in bangkok and respect those who are of different faith. he also explained to us that since most of the country is buddhist, they are very superstitious.  you must not walk directly on the bottom of a door frame because there could be spirits there and they would be angry with you.
i also could not get over the plethora of monks roaming the streets. tao (our bangkok tour guide) told us that most teenage men study in the temple and are monks for at least a couple years (he was a monk before becoming a tour guide). i really felt such a strong sense of peace while traveling throughout the country.

4. the animal encounters. where else can you bathe, feed, walk and love on asian elephants? where else can you chill on the beach with monkeys trying to steal your food? where else can you scuba dive with sharks? okay there may be a few other places to do all of the above but that is beside the point. b is such an animal lover (as am i) and that is part of the reason we wanted to go to thailand so bad. there are so many opportunities to be around wildlife in their natural surroundings.

5. the food. i honestly can’t do a lot of spicy food but one of my favorite experiences while in thailand was taking a cooking class. it was eye opening for me to see how different curries were made ( & how to make them less spicy ha) and the origin of these dishes. did you know pad thai is the national dish but it has only been the national dish for 50+ years? for how old thailand is that was a bit surprising. i also loved how there was fresh juice around every corner!

oh thailand, i adore you.

SHARE THIS POST

Tuesday in Trader Joe’s : Dunkers & Caramels

we got back from thailand late sunday evening and i am still exhausted.
who knew jet lag could hit this hard?
and as much as i wanted to sleep the day away on monday, i had to work and then by the time i got off work i had to go grocery shopping since our kitchen was completely barren. then after all was said and done i was completely wired last night and could not fall asleep.
i was still up at midnight so i knew i had to take something if i was going to get any rest before work the next morning. thank heavens for ambien. but i really hate ambien at the same time. it feels like i am on something the whole next day and it does not feel good.

anyways, please excuse my pity party. after work i was actually excited to head to tj’s and grab some fresh vegetables after a week of eating out. while i was perusing tj’s, i was reminded of some more of my favorite sweet tj treats.

first up, dunkers!
let me preface by saying i don’t dip oreos, chocolate chip cookies or graham crackers in milk. that is just not how i roll. i prefer crunchy to soggy.
but tj’s dunkers are a whole different story.
dunkers are shaped long and skinny so it is easy to dunk in any glass, the chocolate chip cookie is extra crispy so even when you dunk you still get a crisp bite every time and the bottom of the cookie is coated with milk chocolate. need i say more?

unnamed (4)

 

i totally thought these sea salt caramels were a holiday item so it was a nice surprise to find them on a shelf yesterday. the dark chocolate and sea salt caramel combo is money. both the chocolate and caramel are such high quality that the combo is even more delicious. i also love how big the sea salt chunks are that top the chocolates. it really brings out the flavor.
i have actually bought these caramels for a housewarming gift and the hostess couldn’t stop thanking me!

what are some of your favorite tj treats?

can i let you in on a little secret?
b and i are headed to the airport this evening to spend 10 days in thailand.
i couldn’t be more excited. i have been wanting to visit thailand for many years and it is finally happening! we plan to hit up three different cities and explore everything that thailand has to offer.

fed95a803f59e5611b3f3f1861e0c9fd

 

so basically i will be mia next week.
i want to soak in this wonderful country and spend time with my husband. it will be my and b’s first time to asia. let the adventure begin!

Best Doughnuts in Orange County

doughnuts are definitely getting the spotlight lately.
move over cupcakes, macaroons and ice cream cookie sandwiches.
and frankly i would not have it any other way because
i am a doughnut enthusiast.
always have been always will be.
growing up, my mom used to buy a box of fresh doughnuts every monday for an after school snack. i would always race home to be sure i got one of my favorites (old fashioned, maple, apple fritter or sprinkle).

when we traveled down to southern orange county a month ago, my mom told me about a new doughnut place she had discovered. i knew i had to try it and so on the last day of the trip, we headed to sidecar doughnuts in costa mesa.

sidecar doughnuts serves the best doughnuts i have ever had.
my mom has always encouraged us to treat good food like an experience so that is exactly what we did. sidecar doughnut offers 10-15 different flavors (some flavors do change monthly) and we tried 8 of them. yes, 8.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

my favorites were huckleberry, lavender, cinnamon crumb, twist, and devils food cake. but even if they weren’t on my favorite list, no doughnut we tried was bad.  i love the creative flavor combinations, the gorgeous presentation and the melt in your mouth dough (like literally melt in your mouth). sidecar doughnuts makes their doughnuts daily and serves them warm. i think that may be another factor of why they are so gosh darn good.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetwhat is favorite doughnut flavor ??

also did you all ever know the difference between doughnut and donut? i actually had to look it up. apparently donut is just a short hand version for doughnut that became popular in the 20th century (thank you dunkin’ donuts).

Tuesday in Trader Joe’s : Powerberries

before any kind of road trip, i always hit up tj’s.
i think i learned this from my mother. she always packed the car full of snacks (including her favorite — tj’s popcorn)  because who knows what will be available to you on the road and you want to give yourself healthier options (relevant to a big mac).
so besides a big bag of almonds and some apples, my other go to road trip snack is powerberries.
powerberries are “real fruit juice pieces made with acai, pomegranate, cranberry and blueberry juices and dipped in dark chocolate”. powerberries provide me with vitamin c and a somewhat natural sugar high all at once. the dark chocolate and fruit combo is money and i can’t get enough.

FullSizeRender (4)

i know costco has a similar product but can i let you in on a little secret? they are nowhere near as satisfying as powerberries.
why you ask?
because the costco version has various sizes in their bag so you could get a berry as big as a cherry or as small as a raisin. there is no uniformity. their chocolate to berry ratio is all off because of the lack of consistency. and frankly the chocolate is waxy.

what are your favorite road trip snacks?

as of late

i feel like i blink for one second and it is already mid march.
how is 2015 going by so quickly?
it is true when they say “the days are long but the weeks are short”.
here is what i have been up to as of late…

three weekends in a row we have been up in the city & i am loving it.
sure it is a trek in and parking can be a nightmare but once you are there, i soak it all in and relish every moment, every view, every bite and every turn. san francisco is a beautiful city.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

^^^ that stunning building is a high school by dolores park. can you believe it? wish my high school looked like that…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
^
^ oh and those churches make me swoon every single time.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

new bonus to going to trader joe’s (as if i need another bonus but i will take it) is a nektar juice bar just opened up right next door. i love nektar juice from the moment i tried it years ago in southern california. the acai bowls, juices and shakes are all amazing. lately i have been hooked on the chocolate dream smoothie with carob chips and dates. you feel like you are treating yourself when in reality it is healthy. my kind of treat…

picstitch (1)

my office has fresh flowers delivered every week & last week the office was filled with pink and purple tulips. nothing says spring more than a beautiful tulip!

IMG_3466

 

and i had to save the best memory for last. my little sister (the redhead) decided to serve a mission for the church of jesus christ of latter day saints in houston, texas. i am so proud of her and her decision because it is a big one. she will be serving for 18 months and during that time we will only be able to email her and talk on the phone twice a year. i would be dishonest if i said i wasn’t terribly sad to see her go but she is where she is supposed to be. i am so grateful for my 3 sisters. they each inspire me in different ways. my love for them runs deep.

 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

what have you been up to lately?

St. Patty’s Party

i love planning events. i think it is safe to say it is one of my passions.
i love the logistical side as well as the creative side. i love bringing people together and making memories. i love celebrating the little monuments / holidays in life.

and because of my love for all things events,  i have searched high and low for the best local party shops to buy supplies from. i think it is important to look past the big chains (like party city and walmart) and find unique stores that offer a different variety of products.
and after much searching,  i finally found my dream party land!
it is called diddams amazing party store and they are located throughout the bay area.
diddams has endless options and unique products. i literally find everything i need in one stop (including candy, costumes and decor) .
another bonus? you are supporting the community by shopping local. i would say party city purchases 99% of their products internationally but not diddams. diddams purchases a majority of their product right here in the bay area.
i peruse diddams frequently to find inspiration for my future gatherings. their holiday decor is expansive and that is when i realized i really could be celebrating more than i already do!

one of those holidays that i do not celebrate annually but think i should is st. patrick’s day.
st. patrick’s day events can border on too cheesy or too boozy.  i wanted to create an event that brings a chic yet whimsical take on the irish holiday. and so a green tablescape and rainbow floating centerpiece was born…

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset    Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

did i mention every single product (besides tape) was bought at diddams? diddams saved me so much time running around that i was actually able to spend more time on the decor of my event.

are you ready for another bonus?? diddams is offering all vivre blog readers 10% off their entire st. patrick’s day purchase. head to their website now to print out your coupon today!

what are you favorite forgotten holidays to celebrate?

 

this post was sponsored by diddams amazing party store.
all thoughts, all opinions are my own. i actually sought them out for a collaboration since they are my favorite party store in the bay area!

Tuesday in Trader Joe’s : Cookie Butter Ice Cream

 remember when i said i have tried 90% of the desserts at trader joe’s?
well that was no exaggeration.
in fact, b read my post and asked, ” are you sure it is not more like 95%?”
{insert crying emoji here}
oh well i will own it and i will share another top tj (remember we are now calling trader joe’s tj because we see each other once a week and are the best of friends) dessert with you.

now i am sure you all have had cookie butter by now. and if not, well then what rock have you been sleeping under? i love cookie butter as much as the next guy. i think it is an inspired and delectable product. my dad was actually the one who introduced it to me many years ago and now i think it has consistently been in their pantry ever since. i mean a nice scoop of cookie butter does a mind good.

but i am more of a cold dessert lover. and so cookie butter ice cream is like the best of both worlds. it is a vanilla base ice cream with chunky cookie butter swirled in. and for those of you living under a rock, cookie butter almost takes like graham crackers + frosting + butter. so you can imagine what a treat it is to have in ice cream form.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

oh and don’t forget to top your cookie butter ice cream with midnight moo (tj’s substitute for hershey’s syrup but better).

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

what are you favorite tj ice creams?

Tuesday in Trader Joe’s : Ice Cream Bon Bons

confession.
i may have tried 90% of the desserts that trader joe’s offers. i just love sweets and tj’s (can i call it tj?) has a great assortment.
the ice cream bon bons definitely makes my top 10 list.
i love the bite size helping which makes me not feel as guilty (around 100 calories for each bon bon) , the brownie layer at the bottom and the perfect ratio of chocolate to vanilla. you guys these are seriously heavenly.
b always makes fun of me when i buy these.
“having more bon bons are we?”
but he just doesn’t get how delicious the bon bons are. he doesn’t get that i love ice cream treats more than i love most people. he doesn’t get that one bon bon can turn my day upside down.

but you know who does get it? trader joe’s.

ice cream bon bons trader joe's

 

tip! don’t be fooled by the lemon bars located next to the bon bons. trader joe’s does not sort by best frozen treats to worst. those lemon bars are not worth the calories. i bought them once and was incredibly disappointed by the lack of flavor. yes, i do expect my lemon bars to be tart and have a strong lemon taste. maybe that is my bad. and maybe i have just been spoiled by my mom’s and ina’s lemon bars. oh well tj, you can’t win them all.

36 Hours in San Francisco

friday afternoon i was completely blindsided when i received a text from b asking,
“instead of just going up to the city for dinner on saturday, do you want to stay up there all weekend?”.
my mouth dropped. was he asking what i think he was asking?
i quickly said yes and asked questions later.
why was i so shocked?
b does love exploring cities as do i so that did not shock me.
the spontaneity shocked me a little but the big shocker was that he wanted to be in san francisco for 36 hours straight!
b doesn’t love big cities. he grew up in salt lake city and i think that is as big of a city as he would like to live in. he finds san francisco to be some what of a headache with the traffic, high prices for parking, hoards of people and aggressive pedestrians. he finds the city dirty and the people odd.
but he knows i love the city. he knows i love exploring. he knows this is my ideal weekend and he wanted to give me a little belated valentine’s day present. bless his heart. i will always remember this weekend because it was simply perfect . here’s what we did..

IMG_3406

DAY ONE

8pm: arrive in san francisco and check into the galleria park hotel.
the minute b asked me if i wanted to stay the weekend in the city, i scoured the internet for moderate priced hotels in good areas. i looked at both expedia and hotel tonight. have you ever used hotel tonight? it is my favorite travel app when searching for last minute deals. you are guaranteed a better rate booking through hotel tonight than expedia (i checked) but the catch is you can only book through the app 7 days prior to check in (it used to actually be the day of but they expanded their services).
the galleria park hotel is a boutique hotel located in the financial district (less than one mile from the ferry building). we greatly enjoyed our stay at the hotel. it was a stone’s throw from the bart station, the decor had a modern feel and the beds/pillows were especially comfy. the only draw back was the air conditioner was located in the window so you could hear noise from the street and the valet service was slow (despite paying $42/night — most hotels in sf charge this much or more for valet…)

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

9pm: head to dandelion chocolate factory (via the bart),located in the mission district, for hot chocolate, frozen hot chocolate and desserts.
dandelion chocolate factory closes at 10pm on friday nights so don’t delay. i love their passion for chocolate and how they only use the highest quality coco beans. do try the frozen hot chocolate (not like serendipity at all– more of a dark chocolate, rustic taste) and brownies.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

DAY TWO

9am: breakfast at il cane rosso located in the ferry building.
i partly picked this place because i can’t stay walking distance from the ferry building and not check out the weekend farmers market. and for how much b doesn’t love sf, he does love the ferry building (mainly for the cowgirl creamery).  this is a quaint cafe located next to blue bottle coffee. we enjoyed the french toast and slow scrambled eggs. do try to eat outside at their reserved tables so you can eat by the water (or bask in the sun as b enjoyed doing).

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

10am: walk around the ferry building
check out cowgirl creamery (one of our favorites) because they give you free samples of all their cheeses! we also love doing the olive oil sampling and meandering through the farmers market for fresh produce.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

11am: catch an uber to the complete opposite side of san francisco to hike land’s end
let me preface by saying, i am not really a hiker. my mother wishes i was with all her attempts during our vacations while i was growing up but i usually complained the whole time. i will say, that i am enjoying it more now and if every hike was like land’s end, i would love to hike every day. there are some steep parts of lands end but it is not too difficult of a hike with stunning views. b and were literally taking pictures every two feet. we took the coastal path through the presidio heights neighborhood and ended up at the presidio. it was gorgeous. i loved every second of it.
on an uber note, have you heard of the uber carpool option? i hadn’t until this weekend and it may be only available in san francisco (i have to look more into it). it is where you share an uber with a person traveling to a nearby destination and right now it is only $5 for 1-2 people! i am talking $5 no matter how far the destination is (we paid $5 for 8 mile ride) but you do have to stay within sf. uber carpool is bumped to $15 if you want to go outside the city.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset IMG_3397

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

12:30pm: then keep on walking to grab a sandwich at lou’s (located in the richmond area).i asked b his favorite part of the whole trip and besides spending time together he said lou’s. hands down. the sandwiches at lou’s are the best in the area (including south bay). b said it was some of the best turkey he has ever had. the sandwiches were thick and flavorful. i got the veggielicious sandwich and have never been so full in my life (considering no meat on the sandwich). you definitely get your money’s worth but be prepared to wait in a line and wait for your sandwich. well worth it as far as we were concerned.
do note, land’s end is not super close to lou’s. we were in the walking mood and just enjoyed the sunshine but it was a little bit of a trek. san francisco is known for making you walk miles upon miles though. b was monitoring his steps on his phone and we walked approx. 10 miles on saturday alone…

IMG_3387

at this time, we headed back to the hotel to shower and give ourselves a bit of a rest. after feeling a little rejuvenated, we walked around the city a bit more and took in the sights. i loved the architecture and could have gazed at some areas of the city for days.

7pm: dinner at foreign cinema (mission district)
i had heard good things about foreign cinema and funny enough my boss was an investor of the restaurant when it first started. foreign cinema is not in the best neighborhood, but once you walk through the doors you are transported into a vibrant / modern atmosphere.  the menu is ever changing with the seasons, just the way i like it. the star of the meal for me was the key lime pie dessert and for b it was his sole entree (typical). we ended up sitting inside so we were not able to see the movie and next time will opt for the movie route because it sounded like a different dining experience.
only drawback with this place is service is a little on the slower side.

And after you have trekked all the way back to home base (ie your hotel) you may get hungry again. i know we did. but hey you are burning so many more calories so you deserve dessert after dinner’s dessert. just head on over to bob’s donut + pastry shop for classic donuts and take your time because it is open 24 hours. now this is the kind of big city living i would like!

DAY THREE

9am: breakfast at tartine bakery (mission district)
yes, back to the mission and yes, 9am timing is a must (that’s when it opens). we made the mistake of taking a little longer to get ready and headed to tartine bakery around 10am and the line was insane! like 45 minute wait and i was getting hangrey at this point so truth be told we did not eat here but evident by the line (and my foodie sister recommended it), you should. we settled for craftsman + wolves and it was settling indeed. i was a little let down by my chocolate stacked croissant (lacked enough chocolate if you ask me) and b had the poppy seed muffin which was ordinary. lesson learned. wake up early for tartine bakery!