Animal Party at City Hall

Some interesting creatures have emerged in front of San Francisco City Hall, bringing bold colors and playfulness to the plaza. These vibrant large-scale animal sculptures are created by Taiwanese artist, Hung Yi (洪易). The art installation is entitled “Fancy Animal Carnival” featuring 19 baked enamel on steel plate sculptures, which includes the Sharing Elephant, Auspicious Triple Sheep, and Money Frog.

Yip, mom, and I had a fun excursion viewing the artwork. It appeared others did as well as they posed and took pictures with the animal sculptures. Afterwards, we walked along Hayes Valley to my favorite sweet shop to enjoy the beautiful day.











The art installation is free and open to public at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza from April 19 to May 7, 2015.

Warm Dry Winter

Hello, it’s been a long long time. A year in transition — job change, moving, and growing. Overall, things are good.

Let me ease myself back into the blog by venturing into the safe topic about the weather. Yes this year has began with some crazy weather everywhere. The east coast have been hit with a freezing storm, while here in California it’s been a very warm winter. Sound great when we have nice sun and fresh air, except we are in a drought.

Last weekend, Yip and I went to Folsom Lake. The water level is at a historical low. It is striking to see — just imagining where the water once cover and now we are walking on dry land. Due the low water levels, the old Gold Rush town underneath the lake has emerged. There are some foundations and relics revealed. We haven’t found much time to hike lately, so this was an interesting site to go on a walk.














Lassen National Park – Camping

Lassen is now my favorite place to camp! The drive from our home was very smooth, no traffic and no inkling of feeling lost. There is really a bit of everything here. Whether you like trees, lakes or waterfall; there are wildflowers, mountains, and yes volcanoes! Lassen offers some unique hikes. One of Lassen most popular places to visit is their hydrothermal sites. Once we arrived, we decided to do the Bumpass Hell hike. This is like entering a steamy cauldron of smelly sulfur. A nice boardwalk takes you along to see mudpots, boiling pools, and steaming ground. Such a different side of nature, but still beautiful in its own way.

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The next day was quite an adventure to the Cinder Cone. I was excited to see this, but also nervous about the hike to the top. Firstly to get to the area, you’ll drive on an unpaved road. (It is a nice dirt road, drive slowly if you are concern.) At the start of the hike, there is a mile long sandy trail. You’ll see the Fantastic Lava Beds along the way to the volcano. Once the trees clear, the sight of the Cinder Cone stands alone and is just impressive and perfectly sculpted. Now the daunting part is to hike 700 ft up a steep angle path with no resting stop and nothing to grab on to. A few small children pass us and went up like it’s nothing. Two elderly women headed up as well. So me, healthy 20-something should stop being chicken and work it like everyone else. Sigh! It was so tough. Every two steps forward is a step back due to the loose gravel. Good thing, I found a walking stick on my way to the Cinder Cone because without it, I don’t know how I can manage to reach the top. I just look down at my feet and gave myself pep talks. I simply kept going and tried not to stop. This way I won’t get scare and freeze up.

At the top, you’ll see a magnificent landscape of wonderfully animated Painted Dunes, lava beds, and the devastation area — all created by the eruption of the volcano. You can even hike down inside the crater of the volcano too. We meet the elderly group from Washington and the East Coast who visits a different National Park every year! We enjoy a small packed lunch and walk around the rim before calling it a day. You’ll be glad to know that the going  down the Cinder Cone is much faster and easier. Some people even have fun sliding down. For me, I like to take it slow and steady. This is definitely the most unique hikes I’ve ever done.

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Spring Time Hike — North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve

Spring is around the corner! Last year during April, we went on an awesome hike in Oroville. Yip knows how I love fields of wildflowers (my fantasy of twirling like the Sound of Music). He found an amazing spot for us to explore called North Table Mountain. On the other side of Lake Oroville, the snow had not yet melted. But on the North Table Mountain, it was sure spring time and even felt like summer! A nice drive led up to the top of the plateau filled with many different wildflowers, cattle grazing, little critters, plus waterfalls! What appeared to be flat terrain, actually had rolling hills, volcanic rocks, and small canyons. Being out in the wide open field with no shades in hot weather did not make this an easy hike. However, the sight of waterfall next to wildflowers and sea of yellow and green was just so pretty. Peak wildflower blooming season is March and April.




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Snow Day with My Cat

Having hibernated through the winter season, we finally got off our butts to do some outdoor activities. While still cold, but with sunshine, we headed north to enjoy some snow! This time, we decided to take our cat Yun Yun on a road trip with us. I’ve always wanted to go on trips with the pets. Although dogs may be more ideal, right now I only have cats, therefore my perfect candidate is Yun Yun for her sense of adventure. We left Bumbe to snooze contently at home, knowing well that any disturbance in his rountine will stress him completely.

On our drive, we saw a turnout at Eldorado National Forest and decided to take a look. Yun Yun was most excited being out of the car and on solid grounds. We attached a leash on her and she immediately took charge exploring her environment. Suddenly the shock underneath her paws were cold and wet and Yun Yun just froze in one place. I held her and she quickly accepted and wanted my warmth and protection. I felt so needed and loved:) Yun Yun perched on our shoulders as we stroll around the winter park. I gave her the detachable furry part of my hood to wear. She looked ever so precious and glamorous. We ended the trip making a snow-kitty. After a day of new experiences, Yun Yun fell asleep on my lap all the way back home.












Fall Camping — Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is one my favorite place to camp. It is absolutely breathtaking and amazing being surrounded by the tallest and biggest trees ever. My bf and I went camping in the fall time and the weather was cool as the park sat along the coastline, yet moist. We experienced some rainfall, but being deep inside the woods, all the gigantic trees gave us good coverage.

We stayed at the Jedediah Smith Campground. Since this trip was off season, there was no reservation taken and our host allowed us to circle around the campground to find the site we liked. We decided to be nearby the river and set up tent between two huge trees to shield us from the rain. The camp site was beautiful, spacious, and peaceful. It had a nice cobblestone wall separating each campsites and acted as our front door to the home sweet home for the next few days. There were hardly any other campers around, which gave us lots of privacy and the whole park to ourselves. Our “backyard” with the river view had lots to explore like cute little frogs.

Hiking in the redwoods was such an unbelievable feeling. It was completely shocking, quiet, and time just about stopped for a while. Simply just you and nature. I came realized how small I am in comparison to this world. Some of the hiking trails were closed for the season, so we basically wandered around the lush woods, thinking we were following a trail and losing it again. I was hoping, “Let’s not get lost … let’s not go too deep.” Worried about my lack of survival skills, despite a marathon of watching Man, Woman, Wild, we were swallowed by the forest and not a person in sight. Yip would say, “Let’s walk for a little more” and a little became hours. Definitely quite an adventure, and we made it back to camp happy and hungry.

Our other favorite thing about camping aside from wondrous scenes nature offers is Camp Food! I love Yip’s cooking and so thankful he does it all. During our trip, he cooked a whole chicken, eggs and bacon for breakfast, steak and rice stew, plus perfectly baked potatoes. I contributed by making s’mores:) Plus leftovers on the ride back home were super delicious!

Our tent set up kept us perfectly dry! We really want to go back again because there is so much of this beautiful park to explore.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Celebrating Moon Festival

Happy Moon Festival! This year I am making an effort to celebrate Moon Festival on my own. Since moving away from home for a few years now, certain holidays have just been casually acknowledged. Moon Festival is such a great holiday to bring family and friends together, it is definitely a tradition I want to keep and pass along. In my childhood, we will lay out fruits, tea, and mooncakes on a table by an open window facing the moon. At night, mom will gather us together to observe the bright, beautiful full moon with lit lanterns and candles. Then we’ll go ahead and eat throughout the night until bedtime. In my nostalgic endeavor, Yip and I went to the Asian markets to buy mooncakes and an assortment of fruits. Here are some festive fruits we got:

Longan “Dragon Eye” (Doesn’t it look like an eyeball with its lacquered black seed)

Star Fruit

Dragon Fruit

Lotus seed paste and egg yolk mooncakes are Yip’s favorites. Most friends I know simply eat a slice and we are good for the year! Yip is the only one I know who can eat a whole box of mooncakes by himself! So it was difficult for him to wait and not eat them before I got to perform all my celebratory duties like taking these pictures. We celebrated in our community Movie in the Park event. Instead of lanterns, kids here were running around with glow sticks:) With the beautiful moon in sight, we had a little picnic with mooncake and fruits while watching Back to the Future.

Blossoming Almond Trees

During March, the almonds trees come to blossom and they make a lovely scene of soft white petals. California grows so much almonds. You’re able to see rows of blossom trees driving on I-80 around Dixon and Woodland. I am lucky enough to live close to them and eat fresh almonds all year long. They might be my favorite nut! As you may know, I blog a lot about orchards and farms…well I love it out there! Yip and I stopped by one of the orchard and it was a dream come true to run around ’til sunset in such a beautiful sea of flowering trees. Blossoms are sweet like snow flakes, without the cold and wet. Definitely a romantic place to be. Perfect for an engagement session! Just let us know if you like a photo shoot!

Also I just found out this Sunday, March 11 is the Capay Valley Almond Festival. I have never attended and unfortunately I made plans this year too. It’s an event that seem interesting to me, so if you’re there, let me know how it goes.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the sight of my kitties and the blossom tree outside my window:)

California State Fair 2011

California State Fair is here! Our schedule has been quite busy lately and there are so much activities and editing to do. We were contemplating whether we should go or not, and I’m so glad we did! The weather this week is in its 80s, sunny and a little breezy, which is perfect for walking outdoors. What I like about the state fair in comparison to other theme parks is the variety of attractions, such as animals, rides, exhibits, live shows, competitions, and yep the FOOD! Everything is deep fried and on a stick! And there are many interesting creations too like raccoon on a stick?! By far the most scary sign I saw was “Deep Fried Butter”! Aside from the weird stuff, we saw a lot of typical carnival food like funnel cakes, cotton candy, and corn dogs. We went Friday after work and I was pretty tired from the day. But once we arrived, I was so excited about our fantastic unhealthy dinner! I got the energy to last through the night!

A very popular item at the fair is the Turkey Leg. This is a huge smoked turkey leg smothered with bbq sauce. Definitely the tastiest thing we ate at the fair: cooked perfectly, fresh, moist, and big!

I also like the Catfish on a Stick and deep-fried artichoke hearts. The Giant Blooming Onion looked like a lot of fun, but it was too greasy and there was not enough dressing.

Here’s our Cherry Icee to wash everything down!

We were pretty full and grease out, so we explored other parts of the fair. The farm animals are so cute and you can get really close up to them. People bring their best animals to the state fair for prizes.

Before we knew it, the sun was beginning to set. We spent some time at the ferris wheel, games and rides section. I love looking at  all the lights and design of the rides. Given that there was no peer pressure, I opted out on participating in being locked up in any torture spinning and scary height dropping machines. Yep I’m chicken >_<!

One thing I recommend seeing at the state fair this year is the Big Bug Exhibit. Very cool giant robotic bugs!

Even though we were having fun and relaxing on our day off, Yip wanted to do some filming. So stay tuned for some short clips!

We ended the night watching fireworks before the state fair closed.  Overall, I enjoyed all the novelties of the carnival. Food was overpriced, but expected. Had more fun this time than few years ago. Didn’t have enough time to see everything, but I’m extremely happy spending date night with my sweetie. What a fun-filled Friday night and a great start to the rest my weekend!

There is still time to go! The California State Fair runs from July 14-31, 10am-10pm at the Cal Expo in Sacramento. $12 general admission + $10 parking.

Fruit Orchard, Part 2- More fruit picking

Last week, I talked about my favorite fruit to pick, cherries. Well, I’m not done yet because there are so much more fruits at my local u-pickin’ farm, Impossible Acres. They are open for picking all summer long!

Let me explain how it works: when you arrive, there is a front stand where you ask for boxes to put your fruits in. Then you may go ahead and pick any fruits and veggies you like. When you are done having fun, bring your crops back to the front stand and just pay for what you pick! The average price is $2-3 per pound, depending on the type of fruits. There is no admission fee or time limit. It is really a fun activity for family and fruit lovers, without spending a whole lot of money.

Don’t forget to wear a hat and protect yourself from the beaming sun. Even though there are lots of trees, they are not tall enough to provide enough shade.

I love the smell of peaches. White peaches are one of my favorite fruits!

Apricots trees are so pretty!

Look at all the cute name signs!

Berries are delicious!

We meet some friendly animals nearby:)

So many fruits to pick: raspberry, strawberry, and plum.

Late in the summer and fall, there are apples available for picking!

Our colorful fruits and vegetables, hand picked fresh! They are such great inspirations for cooking and baking:)