August Favorites 2022

Honestly, I’ve been doing a lot of prep work for the new school year and upcoming cosplay projects, so I haven’t explored as much as I had in previous months. Regardless, I found three for this month’s favorites. Enjoy!

$ Bargain

Thrift (Veteran’s Thrift): I was looking for a few basic items for an upcoming costume and found several very fair priced items at the Veteran’s Thrift Shop in Chula Vista, CA (San Diego). You’ll need to dig, but there were gems to be found! Read more here.  

$$ Moderate

Tom Yum Soup (Phucket Noodle): Most people don’t think to try Thai food in LA Chinatown, but this stall really gave me Thailand vibes with the whole setup. $8 for a filling Tom Yum soup was a way for me to enjoy lunch. Read more here.  

$$$ Splurge

Sashimi (Sushi Ota): This San Diego, CA sushi bar has been on my bookmarks for a long time and finally I got to cross it off! I did a omakase ($130), and while everything was tasty, the sashimi was to die for! The raw seafood is definitely worth a visit. Read about my entire experience here and tips here!

Until Next Time,

Irene

July Favorites 2022

Wow! We are more than halfway done with 2022 and I got to experience many firsts in the month of July! I traveled quite extensively that month and my favorites will include gems from London, and Southern California (San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County)! Please enjoy!

$: British Museum, OC Fair, Harry Potter Statue

$ Bargain

Harry Potter Statue (Harry Potter Statute): Come see the boy who lived immortalized! Located in Leicester Square, London, guests can see a young Harry Potter flying on a broomstick. It’s in a park that’s accessible for everyone and is a cool photo opt! See more here.

Museum (The British Museum): The British Museum in London, UK is enormous and has a very robust collection from all over the world. Entrance is free, and guests can easily spend hours here. Read more here.

Shopping (OC Fair): The OC Fair is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. Entrance fee is $12 and must be done online through Ticketmaster. You can go shopping, look at contest winners and watch shoes (The Alaskan Pig Race is my favorite).

$$: D23 Afternoon Mixer (Top, Middle), Ethopian Food (Left two photos), Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour

$$ Moderate

Indian Dinner (Tayyabs): I ate at quite a few Indian restaurants in London, but Tayyabs was my favorite. Their dry meat was so extremely succulent and tender, but everything there was fragrant and delicious. Read more here.

Harry Potter Backstage Tour (Warner Brothers Studio Tour London): Tickets for the WB Studio Tour London were a nightmare to get (and I’m not sure if it’s because they limited the number of timed tickets or if everyone just wants to go on vacation – probably a combination of both), but it was worth it (!!!) since it was my favorite memory on my entire London trip. There were a couple of interactive experiences, and I just loved reading about the details about the sets and seeing props/costumes etc. On my visit they opened up a new Mandrakes Greenhouse Exhibit which had great photo/video opportunities. Tickets were £49.50 (Roughly 60ish USD with tax for a single adult) If you’re a Potterhead you HAVE to come visit – but I recommend if you’re able to making those reservations at least 6 months out. See full review here.

Disney themed party (D23 Afternoon Mixer): The D23 Afternoon Mixer at the Punchbowl Social in San Diego was so much fun! It’s an annual two hour event held during San Diego Comic Con (with different themes each year). Attendees enjoy games, food, and character meet n greets. Admission was $30 per person, but you must be a D23 Gold Member to attend. Watch TikTok Video here and see more IG photos here.

Ethiopian Food (Fresh Ethiopian Food): Inglewood, CA has really great ethnic food and Fresh Ethiopian Food was no exception. The Veggie Platter is $17 for one, $34 for two and Lamb Tibs $18.99 (one portion). Really delicious and aromatic food for a reasonable price. Click here for more info.

$$$: Ritz London Afternoon Tea (Left Photos), Fortnum & Mason Shopping (Middle Two), Cursed Child Play (Right Photos)

$$$ Splurge

Theater Performance (Harry Potter & The Cursed Child): Watching Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a huge splurge as tickets were £199 (roughly 241.75 USD) for Orchestra 12 rows back; however, you must know that you’re watching two shows (so it’s an all day event). The special effects and the way they utilized the stage was really cool, and I enjoyed the storyline. Read all my tips here.

Tea Time (The Ritz London): If you want to experience the glitz and glamor of high society book yourself a tea time at the Ritz London. It’s hard to convey into words how regal and exquisite the experience is but I definitely think it’s worth checking out. Tea time was £67 per person (roughly 95 USD). Read full review here.

Tea & Souvenirs (Fortnum & Mason):No trip to the UK would be complete without buying tea fit for a queen. Fortnum & Mason has been serving her royal highness and the royal family for quite some time so picking up a few cannisters is a must. There are two locations, and I’ve gone to both twice each actually and definitely spent money there. Read more here.

The month of August will likely have more local OC, LA favorites as I’ll be returning to work.

Until Next Time,

Irene

June Favorites 2022

I know this is long past overdue but I promise you this post is well worth the wait! In the month of June I travelled across the pond and visited five different cities around the United Kingdom. This post took me so long in part because 1) I visited a ton of restaurants, shops, and sites and was trying to remember where I went AND pick my favorites and 2) I was still jetlagged lol

Nevertheless, I’ve come up with my favorites for this month. There’s ONE London favorites and the rest really are the best of the best in the UK. My July Favorites will include many MANY more London favorites, but without further adu please enjoy!

$: Harry Potter Scenes (Durham Cathedral),Thrift (Cats Protection – Newcastle upon Tyne Charity Shop

$ Bargain

Thrift (Cats Protection – Newcastle upon Tyne Charity Shop): I’ve been to my fair share of thrift shops and among the many shops I visited in the UK, Cats Protection had the best selection of ready to wear apparel at very reasonable prices. I bought my new favorite black wool coat (£10), 2 dresses (1 for £4 and the other £8), a necklace (I think £4), and a Pusheen bag (£2.5). All proceeds benefit cat rescue, education, and protection. Read more here.

Harry Potter Scenes (Durham Cathedral): If you consider yourself a Potterhead this is a MUST visit Durham Cathedral! They filmed several courtyard scenes from the early movies and you truly will feel like you’re a student at Hogwarts. Admission is free, but guests may donate £5. Read more here.

$$ Thrift (Save The Children Charity Shop), Indian Food (Nutmeg Bristol), Sight Seeing (Stonehenge)

$$ Moderate

Thrift (Save The Children Charity Shop): One of the nicest looking thrift shops I’ve ever visited is this mid-sized store in Clifton Village (Bristol), UK. They carry many designer and mid-high range items and honestly, you’d never know that you were at a charity shop. All proceeds benefits Save The Children, which is a cause I can stand behind. I bought this fuchsia pink dress for £20 and I absolutely love it! Read more here.

Sight Seeing (Stonehenge): I’m pretty sure no one can argue Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England taking a coveted spot in this month’s favorites. Admission is £24, and definitely worth every penny. I mean this is a piece of history that dates back to 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Get more info here.

Indian Food (Nutmeg Bristol): Fantastic curry with bold dynamic flavors and fluffy naan bread. The atmosphere at Nutmeg is equally as vibrant. The Sharabi Jhinga (Shrimp Curry) was £22 and Garlic Naan was £3.50. Click here for more.

$$$ Splurge

$$$ 2 Michelin Star Dinner (Da Terra), Dinner (Six)

Dinner (Six): To be fair work treated me here, but I loved everything about this restaurant. Located in New Castle, UK, Six is a fine dining establishment that rests at the top of a building. It has glass windows everywhere which gives you the most magnificent view of the river and city. The food was also beautifully presented and delicious. You can read more about my experience here.

2 Michelin Star Dinner (Da Terra): My friend and I decided that we were going to treat ourselves to a really extravagant meal in London to celebrate our survival of the school year. After extensive research I picked Da Terra and this restaurant gave me the best meal of my life. At £189 per person, this omakase experience is not cheap; however, considering the four hour experience and over 30 unique items presented (all of which I loved) and the fact that I did not leave hungry makes this a more than worthy awardee for my June favorites. I wrote more extensively about my experience here on yelp and posted many photos (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) on IG. Maybe one day I’ll do a dedicated post on the dishes Chef Rafael presented in a future post.

July will most likely be late as well, but I can tell you that that post will be crammed with favorites!

Until Next Time,

Irene

November Favorites 2021

I’m so thankful for getting to try so many different restaurants and experience wonderful places. Many of this months’ favorites are from my recent Arizona roadtrip that I took. Come check out my recs for my November favorites!

$: Arizona Humane Society Thrfit Shop; Society of St Vinent De Paul – Scottsdale

$ Bargain

Thrifted Goods (Society of St Vincent De Paul- Scottsdale): Hands down best thrift shop in Scottsdale, AZ. Everything is very reasonably priced and they have a cool bridal section if you’re in the market. If I come back to Phoenix I will definitely want to make a trip here. Read my complete review here.

Thrifted Goods (Arizona Humane Society Thrift Shop): This is another awesome second hand shop with great finds! You definitely need to dig but all purchases benefit fur babies and that alone is hard to beat. On this trip I bought a pair of Jimmy Choos for $2 (!!!!), a Banana Republic jumpsuit for $4, and brand new Talbots Gold Flats for $2. Click here to read more.

$$ from Left to Right First Row: French Cruller (Tourist Home Cafe), Italian Sandwich (Sedona Memories Cafe & Bakery), Salad (Flower Child); Second Row: Local Goods (Gilbert Farmers Market), Creme Brulee Donuts (The Local Donut), Historical Site (Montezuma’s Castle

$$ Moderate

French Cruller (Tourist Home Cafe): If I visit Flagstaff, AZ again I will definitely be back for these bad boys! They’re served daily until noon, but can sell out! so pick these up early. Read details here. It’s three bucks for one of these “donuts” – I say that because it’s more like a churro.

Creme Brulee Schmancy Donut (The Local Donut): One of the best donuts I’ve had period. Read all about this Phoenix, AZ favorite here. $3.50 for a little piece of heaven.

Historical Site (Montezuma Castle): What?! Not food? Honestly, the highlight of my Arizona adventure. It’s incredible to see how resourceful Indians were back then and to see it in person is remarkable. $10 admission. Read more here.

Salad (Flower Child – Gilbert): I make salad for lunch regularly, but I aspire to make salad like this! The butternut squash and organic pear salad has loads of delicious ingredients including candied pecan, cranberries, ricotta salata and more. The salad by itself is $10.95, but patrons can add a protein for an additional fee. Salmon would be my choice. There are multiple locations; read the full review here.

Italian Sandwich (Sedona Memories Cafe & Bakery): I was looking for a good lunch spot and this cafe popped up as a local favorite. The sandwich is HUGE, both in size and in flavor. Get the Italian and you won’t regret it. $9.95 for the sando. Read more here.

Local Goods (Gilbert Farmers Market): The variety of small business products is awesome here! Open 8am-12pm on Saturdays this is a popular spot to enjoy local and support small. I have a VERY lengthy review here that gives my picks and tips!

$$$: Chai Tea – Loose Leaf (Prickly Pear Tea Co); Tortilla (Benny Blanco)

$$$ Splurge

Handmade Tortilla (Benny Blanco): Damn! Fresh tortilla made with lard is delicious! For $7 for 6 large tortilla it’s definitely a splurge. I think you can get twice as many for two bucks or so at other places, but if you feel like indulging this would hit the spot. They’re working on shipping, but for now they can be found at the Gilbert Farmers Market. Check out their website here.

Tea (Prickly Pear Tea Co): It’s not often that I splurge on drinks (especially for myself) but for $20 for a bag of hand picked Prickly Pear (which is also very unique), I couldn’t help myself but get two. LOL I spoke to the owner, who I met at the Uptown Farmers Market in Phoenix, AZ and she said that they were contacted by Mayo Clinic as there’s immense benefits to consuming Prickly Pears! The Chai Prickly Pear is the best. They ship if you’re interested. Click here.

Which of these finds are you hoping to try?

Until Next Time,

Irene

October Favorites 2021

Come check out my favorite finds for this month!

$ Misc things I thrifted at (Assistance League of Huntington Beach)

$ Bargain

Thrift Shop (Assistance League of Huntington Beach): I started thrifting a little more frequently this month as I was in the market for a couple of pieces for my cosplays, some of which I found here. The hours are limited and the store is relatively small; however, I usually find at least one hidden gem, whether it’s clothing, knick knacks, craft material or others. Every Saturday they usually have a 1/2 off sale on whatever designated item which is the section of the store I will visit. Read my entire review here.

$$ Shrimp Tacos (Marisco 4 Viento), San Marcos stay (AirBnB), Chicken Soup (Lourdes)

$$ Moderate

Shrimp Taco (Marisco 4 Vientos): I was doing a photoshoot with friends up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA so naturally I wanted some authentic Mexican fare. They don’t look that photogenic; however, the deep fried shrimp taco ($2.50) is definitely worth getting. Read here to see what else I ate.

Room (AirBnB): When I plan a trip my room/board destination isn’t usually the highlight of a trip; however, this stay in San Marcos was well beyond my expectations. For $84 a night (plus cleaning fee, service fee etc), I was given a comfortable bed, hot shower, breakfast, an amazing outdoor patio view, a private playground (w/ a trampoline), golf course, and a well stocked snack section. Honestly, if I didn’t have my weekend planned out already this would have been an amazing place to just stay in. See stay here.

Chicken Soup (Lourdes): I doubt most people would go out of their way for soup, but the chicken soup here is definitely worth the drive! For a 32oz bowl ($9.65) you get fresh flour or corn tortilla, slices of avocado, a well seasoned soup that’s perfect for a cold day. Read the full review here.

$$$ Jasmine Wig (C80thingamabob)

$$$ Splurge

Jasmine Wig (C80thingamabob): I commissioned this wig from C80thingamabobs (IG) back in July; however, I never got a chance to wear her until Halloween weekend. I was so incredibly impressed with it. It is heavy, but it looks just like the original Disney parks Jasmine wig and I got so many compliments wearing her. The wig was $225 plus shipping, but honestly I felt like a million bucks and a true princess.

Which of these finds are you hoping to try?

Until Next Time,

Irene

September Favorites 2021

Wake me up when September ends…

Welp! It’s now the end of September and time for another round of my monthly favorites! Check them out below!

$: Almond Cookies (Phoenix Bakery), Museum (Chinese American Museum(

$ Bargain

Almond Cookies (Phoenix Bakery): Situated in the heart of Chinatown LA, CA is Phoenix Bakery, which is home to their delicious Almond Cookies. I’ve purchased a double dozen box ($6.95) twice in the same month, which should be saying something! Read all about it here.

Museum (Chinese American Museum): This three story hub offers complimentary admission for all visitors. I thought it was a great exhibit to learn about the Chinese immigrants and their contributions to New Chinatown ironically located in Chinatown LA, CA. Read more here

$$: Mini Taiyaki (Costco), Vegan Burger (Burgerlords)

$$ Moderate

Mini Taiyaki (Costco): I’m usually pretty good about my purchases from Costco in terms of moderation for a particular purchase – that was not the case with Suji’s Taiyaki. I bought four boxes in one week *gasp* But only because it’s not regularly stocked at my Costco (For some odd reason).This 30 count fish shaped dessert found in the freezer section has been in my regular snack rotation since I’ve started using an air fryer. For $10.54 a box I now can experience a taste of Japan in the comfort of my home. If you like crispy dough and cream custard you would love this!

Vegan Burger (Burgerlords): I’m open to trying new food and I really enjoyed my “cheeseburger” here. At $9 a pop, this fast food joint does a good job creating a meat-free option. Read about my experience here.

$$$ Oogie Boogie Bash (Disneys California Adventures)

$$$ Splurge

Oogie Boogie Bash (Disney’s California Adventure): Trick or Treating with villains and dressing up in costume to Disney? Yes please! While this event in Anaheim, California is sold out I enjoyed the character meet-n-greets and definitely stocked up on candy/health snacks from the Trick-or-Treat Trails. Also the lines for rides in DCA were very short! See more photos of the rare character encounters here here.

So Fall is just around the corner, which means lots of pumpkin flavors. Are you a fan or prefer other seasonal flavors?

Until Next Time,

Irene

Enjoying a little bit of France in Fresno

I love bread, but it all goes to my hips, so, I seldom eat carbs now in days. However, on my recent Fresno trip I stumbled upon a little bakery called The Brioche Lady – the name alone perked up my ears and I was eager to try her baked goods. When I entered, to my right were two racks of fresh Brioche with little colored stickers indicating their flavors. They have a lot of traditional, as well as asian inspired fillings, so my parents and I bought a couple of loaves: strawberry cream cheese, taro, and red bean.

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cute decor and my three loaves!

We also tried the chocolate chip croissant warmed up and a Croque Madame (brioche, ham, egg, sandwich). The appearance of the Croque Madame wasn’t as elegant as I imagined in my head, but it tasted good, and the chocolate chip croissant was buttery and flakey. Definitely worthy of the calories.

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We asked if they could slice and warm up for us – it was heavenly 😀

I gifted one of the loaves to my uncle who loves bread and even though we were going to have lunch, he dug in and wanted to try some. Little did I know his little piece turned out to be 1/4 of the loaf (!!!) but I can’t blame him, since I myself also kept eating my leftovers.

If you’re in the Fresno area this little bakery is definitely a wonderful charming place to indulge in carbs – especially if you’re not baking sourdough at home. Did I mention that they’re award winning too? (2017 People’s Choice Award – Fresno Food Expo)

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

The Brioche Lady

1085 E Herndon Ave #101

Fresno, CA 93720

Chowing Down on Authentic German Cuisine in Colorado Springs, CA

Colorado is known for it’s picture perfect scenery, but when its came to food, I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what to expect.  It was my first time visiting this state, so when my coworkers (who were based out in Colorado) made reservations to their favorite German restaurant I figured I’d be in for a treat! And right I was! Upon entering I noticed several awards and accolades and crossed my fingers that Edelweiss Restaurant would be all that and more.

Live Entertainment

Our party of 20 entered the restaurant and it was truly decked out in an old world fashion. It seemed as if we were were transported to a German square and I had major Pinocchio vibes. There were many wooden furnishings and while the restaurant was spacious it had a cozy warm feel to it. We were seated quite promptly in a long table and menu had many traditional offerings. A singer came by and serenaded to use with his accordion, as we were deciding on what to order.

Rahmschnitzel ($20.50)

After thoughtful consideration I ordered the Rahmschnitzel, a breaded boneless pork cutlet sautéed and topped with a mushroom cream sauce, house spatzle, and fresh vegetables, as it came highly recommend. Boy! let me tell you this is definitely not diet food, but considering I almost died on the Manitou Incline (Post here) I felt this dinner was worthy of the calories.I essentially polished off the plate and looking at my coworkers entrees it seemed that everyone enjoyed their meal as well.

Do you have a go-to entree when you eat German food? Schnitzel? Bratwurst? Something else?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

A Dozen Delicious Tamales Demolished From The Tamale Lady in Chicago, IL

I live in Southern California so I have very high expectations of Mexican food so when I learned that Chicago has a thriving tamale scene I had to see it for myself. After extensive research many reviewers gave high marks to “The Tamale Lady” in Pilsen and raved about her hand-made pockets of joy especially the ones with spicy green sauce. A few even stated that there would be long lines bright and early in the morning and that they were worth the wait.    

Green Chicken (Spicy) and Red Pork (Mild) Tamales

The weather forecasted rain, but since I saw photos of her standing in the snow during the winter months I had no doubt she’d sell her goods in case it poured cats and dogs – and I was right! There was no line at 9am (probably because of the rain and humidity) and she had everything available. I decided to grab a dozen of the tamales with green chicken (spicy) and a half dozen with red pork (mild) to bring back home for my family and friends to enjoy a piece of Chicago. But before packing them up, I took it upon myself to be a guinea pig and taste test one of the red ones. Oh-Em-Gee, it was delicious!! The corn to meat ratio was perfect and the flavor brought everything together cohesively.

Tamale Cart

I recently went to a “must eat” tamale shop in LA recently, and I would rather have the tamales from THIS lady. For $15 a dozen or $1.25 for a single, I would definitely come back and buy more!

Between the two tamales – if you could only have one which would you pick? Red Pork (mild) or Green Chicken (spicy)?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

The Tamale Lady
21ST Pl, Chicago, IL 60608

Hours
Sun – Sat: 7am until they sell out

Snacking on a “Match Made in Heaven” duo in Grand Rapids, MI

I didn’t really know much about Grand Rapids and as such I did not have high expectations on the food scene. However, to my surprise there were several restaurants that came on my radar. One of them was Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop, a small mom n’ pop restaurant specializing in homemade soups! They rotates twelve made from scratch batches and patrons can choose to enjoy alone or pair them one of their with gourmet sandwiches creations – yum!

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Counter

The store is certainly eclectic and because the menu changes frequently all soups are written on a chalk board. The descriptions all looked incredible and as a first timer I didn’t know where to start. Luckily everyone is allowed to sample before making a purchase which is awesome since the flavor profiles of each were so different!

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Enjoying my Soup and Sammy

I eventually decided to grab a cup of the Reuben (stand alone) and Tomato Saffron to pair it with The Old Goat Sandwich (White Cheddar, pulled Mozzarella, and Rosemary Goat Cheese Spread). It was comfort food, but not super dense that I couldn’t move for the rest of the afternoon. They also have a sister store called The Electric Cheetah, which is more of a traditional sit-down dinning experience with a larger menu (beyond soups and sandwiches), if you were interested and just down the street, but this meal was perfect for what I needed.

While I was trying to stay away from carbs, I felt that my calories were well spent at Uncle Cheetahs.

What would be your cheat meal?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop
1133 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
(616) 451-4780

Hours
Sun: 11am – 5pm
Mon-Sat: 11am – 8pm