Vacation 2017: Palm Springs – La Quinta Resort & Club

Hands down one of the best vacations in a long time, and that’s huge praise considering I usually only get euphoric after San Francisco or Seattle.  The desert area of Palm Springs is typically not the type of destination I gravitate toward, seeing as how it’s terribly hot and to be frank, a bit unfamiliar to me. But this year I’ve been dealing with a lot more stress than I’m used to and the usual eat-run-sightsee-circus I generally put myself through didn’t appeal to me. In the spirit of trying something new I decided to check out the quiet but refreshing La Quinta Resort & Club in the city of La Quinta, California.

Disclaimer: not a sponsored ad/comped stay etc. etc. just a nice discovery that I’d thought I’d share for those of you who might want to travel somewhere neat sometime, etc. (back to the post)

As far as I know there’s no real easy way to get here other than driving in–you may have to fly then drive about 2 hours to come into the Palm Springs area. I’ll spare the locals the boredom of me explaining how to get here. Suffice it to say, a car is needed if you’re a mere mortal like me and protip: load a bunch of water, Gatorade and maybe a snack or two because your road food options are all fast food. I’m not going to knock the McDonald’s stops though–they have $2 vanilla iced coffees and I like McGriddle breakfast sandwiches (oooh, such elevated brekkie.)

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Once a very popular getaway for Hollywood stars, now a destination for golf, tennis, and other outdoor recreation.
La Quinta Resort was established sometime in the early 20s-30s, with the original casitas and other structures well-preserved throughout the ages. Since then the resort has grown to include more facilities that include not only regular rooms but full quad-style units, some with private patios and hot tubs to others with full kitchens and living amenities. By luck the casita I was assigned was part of the original rooms built in 1926. Despite its proximity to the lobby and main restaurants, the open layout of the resort and the lack of high rise structures makes the entire area feel expansive and free.

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Can barely see the casitas but they’re there behind the trees. Each little grouping has about 3-4 rooms together, with a small shaded seating area per room.
I unfortunately can’t tell you how the golf or tennis is because I don’t play either but if you want to be outdoors–you’ll have all the choices in the world. I didn’t see many folks outside for too long because average temperatures were in the 100-110Fs (37C+) during most of the day. But here’s some pictures while I was exploring the grounds:

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Behind this is the Fitness Center which I didn’t get to, but it looked pretty rad. There are also cruiser bikes to rent if you want to ride around the property which I should have done at nightfall. Hopefully I can come back next time to do more. I pretty much spent most of my outdoor time at the Plunge Pool which is the adults 21+ pool:

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It was quiet here all day, but by 4 pm I practically had it all to myself. First come first serve cabana-loungers in the back.
It’s hot and harsh and the sun is a serious force to be reckoned with. My cheeks peeled on the first day just because it was way drier in the desert than the humidity we’ve been having back home. But after the second and third day you get used to it and it’s sort of pleasant to step outside and be enveloped in the encompassing warmth. Remember to drink/replenish fluids, don’t be like me and forget. Heat illness is a serious thing. And don’t even get me started on sun protection. Sunglasses, hat, a shirt, and sunscreen every time I’m at the water. Even on the short walk from the room to breakfast you can go zero to lobster if you don’t cover up.

I am admittedly a n00b at resort vacationing so please excuse my wonder, but I do appreciate that the Hilton/Waldorf-Astoria experience was as advertised. I like to answer the post-visit reviews because it’s a genuine chance to give feedback and appreciation for the staff. There was nothing lacking period, from arrival to the room to the restaurants or grounds and amenities. If you’re needing to get away from it all but want a pleasant, relaxing, efficient stay, here it is.

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Entrance to Morgan’s in the desert–named after Walter H. Morgan, the original builder of the resort in the 20s.

Penultimate dinner at Morgan’s. American steak and seafood house featuring CA wines and fresh ingredients.


On the left: a mix of Spanish influences in the architecture and decor of the grounds. Right: Lilly Pulitzer offerings in one of the several boutiques on-site.

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One of the larger conference halls/meeting rooms, and the Santa Rosa mountains in view on the top left.

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From the main entrance and shopping area (sunny area), through a passageway to the original casitas.
It was great to really slow down, decompress, rest (naps anyone??) and enjoy a mid-year break. I haven’t been writing as much for quite a few reasons–I’m trying to save money and so I’ve been acquiring less overall, but it now enables me to do things like this. And after I got back from the Philippines last year I’ve been mentally challenging myself to want less so I can divert funds to experiences I can share with others, like food, travel or music.

When the fun money fund is restored, I should like to come back.

Everyday Face – June 2017 edition

Everyday Face – June 2017 edition

I had a post idea bubble up this morning as I was doing my makeup so I thought, let’s run with this inspiration and fire up the good ol’ blog! So here I am with a mid-year update; let’s get down to business, ne? Prepare thineself for the copious selfies–thou hast been warned.

The Glow-Up
I started writing/posting in 2013, and I wore nothing / pressed powder only:

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December 2013. I miss this crazy long hair. I was living out my Zooey Deschanel/MPDG dreams with the bangs and specs.

In 2014 I lost twenty pounds, grew more hair (that remained tangled, lol), and made a little routine called the “Five Minute Face” that began with my brows. It felt pretty good, and I enjoyed doing my eyebrows so I kept it up.

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No mascara, just brows and bb cream and powder.

2015 events brought the introduction of eyeliner and lipcolor, to varying success:

2016– muscle memory and control is a little better. Started looking for a nude lip color and bought a few new brushes to add to the makeup bag.

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Brow game solid by 2016.

2017’s Everyday Face no longer takes a mere five minutes, because I’ve since expanded my skill set. Here’s what I use on a regular basis (some steps optional):

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From left to right:

    1. Lorac Pro to Go Eye/Cheek Palette
    2. NARS Radiance Enhancing Light Optimizing Primer
    3. Rimmel Matte BB Cream 9-in-1 Skin Perfecting Super Makeup in Medium
    4. Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara in 001 Black
    5. Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Pencil in 005 Nude
    6. L’Oreal Infallible The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner in Black
    7. Rimmel Brow this Way Brow Gel in Clear
    8. L’Oreal True Match Pressed Powder in N3 – Natural Buff
    9. Nyx Blush in PB01 Mocha
    10. Urban Decay De-Slick Oil Control Setting Spray

In general:

    • Moisturizer with SPF (not photographed), NARS primer on eyes, BB cream, pressed powder.
    • Brow routine which is filling in sparse areas with a Bobbi Brown eyeshadow close to my hair color; Rimmel brow gel to set.
    • Eyes. I create my own version of a “cut crease” or what I think looks like a cut crease, but is really just a smudge of something, with the Lorac palette. Or if I’m in a rush and only can do one color, I use single MAC pots in a non-descript brown just to have some color on the eyelids. Optional: I’ll tightline the lower waterline with nude pencil for work, smudge the gold/bronze color if I’m in the mood. Same with mascara or eyeliner. If I’m wearing all of the above, I consider that my “fleekest” for the day. Not really. It still looks pretty restrained.
    • Blush because why not. Concealer if I really need it, but I tend to forget/eliminate this step.
    • Setting spray when done.

I like what I’ve been doing so far:

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Not photographed, on lips: NARS Matte Lip Pencil in Bansar

Hair’s all poofy.

This definitely takes a little longer than five minutes–I’d say about twenty, because I’m a lot more picky about my eyebrows and the eyeshadows when I do this. I’ve had days where I overfilled the brows and looked pretty silly or was sloppy on blending the shadow. But overall I really like where I am right now with the routine and while I am not quite yet a glazed donut perhaps 2018 might be my year! Maybe contouring will be passe by the time I get to it?

OOTDs: June 2016, Week 5 (End)

Last week of outfits for the month of June:

Monday: old Cotton On crop tee, Uniqlo ankle boyfriend jeans
Tuesday: Forever 21 floral print button front dress
Wednesday: Taylor Stitch Katherine oxford shirt in washed black, Uniqlo ankle boyfriend jeans
Thursday: old JCrew Factory check camp shirt, Gap real straight pants, Gap belt

I can’t stand how schlubby/disheveled I’ve been on the bike-to-work days (MWF) that I’ve been inspired to try a little harder on my driving days (TuTh). To me, the air feels humid lately–or maybe it’s just the house, but I don’t feel crisp in my clothes. And I don’t like the restlessness that comes with summer dressing–I don’t need new gear, I just need to be happy with what is already there. At least for workwear bottoms and tops.

Thus concludes our June series of OOTDs! I may leave small musings here and there as I see fit, but it’s been fun to write semi-regularly again.

OOTDs: June 2016, Week 4

Here I go again on my own:

Monday: ?  gifted cotton tank purchased in Hawaii, Everlane culottes
Tuesday (not photographed)
Wednesday: Target Merona black v-neck flowy tank, Everlane culottes
Thursday: old Madewell linen striped pocket v-neck tee, old Zara denim culottes
Friday: old Forever 21 rayon/viscose split neck top, Uniqlo boyfriend fit ankle jeans

It’s been so hot that I’ve been scrambling to identify what to wear to work. I didn’t really succeed this week. I feel like dressy goes out the door when the heat goes up. It also doesn’t help that my footwear choices are limited; my Gentle Souls flats are so beat up, they’re embarrassing to wear out in public. So thus begins the footwear search once more.

My shoe wishlist includes:
– something in the shape of the Sam Edelman Trina sandals. Neutral, low, simple two strap construction. I’d prefer a stacked heel rather than the metallic one.
– red ballet flats. and red sneakers.
– gold or silver flats

But then I just wrote all that and thinking of looking for all of those different shoes frustrates me, so maybe I’ll just go and buy another pair of Nike Flyknit Frees.

Dinner with Irenia Supper Club

Dinner with Irenia Supper Club

One of my hobbies lately is tracking the development and progression of this trend called the “Filipino Food Movement.” It’s a hashtag I’ve been using to promote my own culture’s food–more often when I eat out but also on the rare occasion when I cook something at home. I’m hoping Filipino food gets more traction internationally, just like how Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai food are familiar to Western palates now.

In support of such awareness and growth of Filipino cuisine in my own neighborhood, I attended one of Irenia Supper Club‘s pop-up dinners in Costa Mesa, CA. Yesterday was my first time going to such an event, and it was a great introduction into the world of fine dining. Irenia Supper Club is the brainchild of Chef Ryan Garlitos, who named his restaurant after his grandmother Irenia. “…the Irenia Supper Club aims to create modern Filipino inspired dishes that are reflective of grandmother’s style and values and also demonstrate Chef’s commitment to making deliciously imaginative plates. Currently a monthly Pop-Up Supper Club, Irenia’s long-term goal is to operate as a brick and mortar restaurant in Orange County.”1

Yesterday’s event occurred at Famosa Tile in the OC Mix/South Coast Collection (SOCO) plaza.
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Kitchen, bar seating, and main seating for the guests.

Last night’s dinner was six courses prepared by two teams: Chef Garlitos and the folks from Irenia Supper Club, and Chefs Nate Overstreet and Ashly Amador of Wheat and Sons Butcher.  I should clarify that not all the courses were strictly Filipino-based, but the non-Filipino dishes presented flavors that remind me a lot of Spanish cuisine, but within an American framework.

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From left: Corinne Mosqueda of Irenia Supper Club, Chase Valencia of Lasa LA, Ashly Amador and Nate Overstreet of Wheat and Sons Butcher.
Here are the six courses from the dinner:

1. Salad Sariwa (Tagalog for “fresh”)

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Persian cucumber, radishes, pea shoots, pickled red onion, milkfish tonnato, bagoong caramel
I wanted more salad so I could eat more dressing >_> 😀

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Nico De Leon of Lasa LA and Ryan Garlitos of Irenia Supper Club preparing the Salad Sariwa.
2. Dungeness Crab Conserva

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Smoked paprika, tarragon, baguette
3. Repolyo

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Grilled cabbage, tinola broth, chayote, crispy chicken skin, preserved meyer lemon
I would call this a very friendly, comforting introduction to chicken tinola soup. My own family tends to make theirs with a little more ginger/lemon edge with chicken drumsticks in a big pot. The version above is definitely a more elegant, muted take on what I remember from youth.

4. Mussels Caldo Verde

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Linguica, potato, cherry tomato
A hearty thick broth with potatoes, tomatoes, and chopped sausage. Almost reminded me of gumbo with the smoky sausage.

5. Afritada

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Braised ‘Cooks Pigs’ pork shoulder, roasted dwarf carrot, charred shishito, jasmine rice
I’ve made afritada for myself before–but only with chicken thigh. This pork shoulder was tender, but a little dry. I much prefer making this dish with chicken. Nevertheless, the roasted carrot and shishito was a treat for me, and I could spoon the sauce over rice for days.

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Kitchen flow.
6. Cassava Cake

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Burnt coconut cream, San Miguel ‘Negro’ glaze, morro grape
I’m not much of a coconut or cassava fan but this was delicious and not too sweet! Win win.

Overall the dinner was well-executed, and I could not have asked for a nicer first pop-up supper. I am looking forward to attending the Los Angeles series of dinners by Lasa LA.

If you’re in the Southern California area and want to learn more about fine dining and Filipino cuisine check out the following:

Irenia Supper Club (Orange County)
Lasa LA (Los Angeles)

A few helpful links on Instagram, where I get my foodie news from:
@savorfilipino
#filipinofoodmovement
#FFMSoCal

It feels good to learn new things every day! 🙂

En route

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Personal picture. Grand Central Station, New York, November 2014.

I need respite.

These last few weeks have been full of #adulthood–the daily stresses of work, construction and disruption at the house, increasing responsibilities. I am doing my best to respond to all of them with poise and efficiency, but I need recharging time.

As for blogging regularly, that seems to have gone awry these past couple months. It’s a combination of avoiding shopping/thinking about material goods, to shifting of resources: I’ve been spending a lot more on food and drink. I’ve also been back at climbing and running with a vengeance and have achieved some modest gains in both hobbies. These are all things that have pulled me in other directions and made me better equipped to beast at my own life–with perhaps the exception of greasy food and coffee. Those are purely for fun.

With all that a-brewin’ (hah), I’m looking forward to the upcoming travel this week to  Seattle, Washington–follow my photo diary (of sorts) on Instagram. Stay in touch!

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life.exe

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy, hence the slowdown of posts here.

I think it’s probably easier to show you what I’ve been up to rather than to write about it, so here goes:

I’m still drinking a pile of coffee. Not much of a surprise there.

A macchiato at Hopper and Burr in Santa Ana.

Post-coffee wandering around downtown Santa Ana. Those cutoffs are getting some serious mileage.

Typical Kristina portrait. Poor friends get pressed into snapping my picture when out and about.

Still eating like a teenager, but with none of that youthful metabolism:

Loaded hot dogs, fresh tater tots and potato chips from Joe Schmoe’s.

Attempting to rectify said metabolism with bouts of exercise:

I sent my first V1 (equivalent 5.10 c-d) earlier this month!!! WOOOOOO

More bouts of exercise part 2: night bouldering in the San Bernardino National Forest with people from my climbing gym. Didn’t climb anything because we hit boulders with routes/problems beyond my grade (everything we hit waas V3+). Still had tons of fun shooting photos of the climbers and taking in the views during the hike out, which was probably the most strenuous I’ve ever been on. We got to the campsite at 5 pm and hiked/climbed until 2 am (hehe!)

Early part of the hike (6:30ish pm) so still pretty stoked about nature at this point. At midnight, we took a break to lay on the crash pads to look at the stars. It is something I’d like to see again soon.

Last week I attended the Workhorse Rye x Little Sparrow Cafe event featuring specialty cocktails made with bitters from WHR.

Took home the small bottle of India Pear bitters courtesy of WHR’s Rob Easter. This will be fun to bring to share at my friend’s house later this month.

I chose the “Arabikakozu”: India Pear Bitters, cold brew Four Barrel coffee, Takara Organic Nama Sake, Gran Classico. I would say sake and coffee is an interesting blend. Not something I would normally think would go together, but when done like this it reminded me of a very lime-forward, bitter-lemonade. As with much of my food explorations, these tastes are all very new to me still, so my observations will be disjointed at best.

Finally, my local craft bakery/coffee/beer/eatery Bakers and Baristas celebrated their grand opening last weekend. I went to have brunch at opening and ordered this gourmet twist on a classic Filipino breakfast: skirt steak tapsilog. Tapa is usually cured meat, typically a bit harder and drier, but the chefs decided to play with that interpretation and served up a juicy, tender, medium-rare steak.

skirt steak, garlic fried rice, pickled carrots, poached egg. I love that the chefs are incorporating heritage and experience into the rotating menu. Apparently congee (rice porridge) might be in the works for brunch.

With all this activity, I’ve almost reached my limit of functioning normally (usually, by this point I’d be sick.) Thankfully (or unfortunately) all I’ve had so far is a scratchy throat and a low-grade headache. I think I accepted every social invitation there was to accept, so now I’m craving some normalcy and quiet so I can regroup.

For those of you coming by and reading the blog at this juncture, it’s probably pretty weird to see all these food and coffee posts, isn’t it? (all three or four of you reading out there, haha.) I do have some odd thoughts here and there about fashion, specifically shoes; maybe I’ll write that later on its own.

Hope everyone is having an excellent end to their August! Let me know how you all are doing.