Tag Archives: Lifestyle Blogger

Quick Wok: Tasty & Affordable Chinese Cuisine!

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During the summer, it’s always great when my sister and I can get together and take the kids out, especially since we have similar days off.  Earlier this month, we took the kids out for a fantastic lunch at Quick Wok, located in the Carmel Mountain area at Rancho Carmel Plaza.  The food was fast, delicious and the prices averaged at $10 or below, which made our lunch with drinks $35 for four people!

If you’re craving tasty Chinese cuisine at an affordable price, Quick Wok is located at 10175 Rancho Carmel Drive, San Diego, CA 92128 and they can be reached at (858) 592-7770.  If you’re in the area, you can also use Door Dash to have their full menu delivered to your door!

Cheers!

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Hot & Sour Soup

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The Sesame Chicken was amazing!

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My sister had the House Special Beef and she loved it! 

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The kids love dumplings, so each ordered the Fried Pot Stickers.  With a side of rice, it was a perfectly sized meal for each of them!

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Our entire meal as pictured, with four drinks came to $35! 

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FTC Disclosure:  I received compensation to patronize a business at Rancho Carmel Plaza.  Although I did receive compensation, the opinions in this post are strictly my own.

(All photos taken by Rholnna Jiao)

The Latest From LEGOLAND® – Splash Out to Summer 2017!

It’s getting hot here in San Diego, and what better way than to cool off at LEGOLAND’S® Water Park in Carlsbad!  A couple of months ago, my sister and I got to spend the day there with the kids to kick off their “Splash Out To Summer”.  In addition to the festivities, we also got to see behind the scenes during the construction of their newest attraction, Surfers’ Cove.  We captured all of the fun we had that day, and I’ll be sure to post when Surfers’ Cove officially opens!

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A very early morning at LEGOLAND®!

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(This image courtesy of LEGOLAND®)

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While I stayed with the kids at the Water Park, my sister got to tour the area where Surfers’ Cove was being built.

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This area is near where the entrance would be to Surfers’ Cove and the blue platform area will become the Surfers’ Ride.  There will also be a Beach Street Taco stand, and we got the chance to sample what will be offered.  Pictured below is a delicious fish taco!

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A fun little gift pack; I’m excited to finally have a waterproof carrier for my phone!

(Most pictures taken by Rholnna Jiao & Cy Chen, unless otherwise noted)

 

Silly Rabbit

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As mentioned in my previous post, I purchased two Victoria Beckham items at Target: a bomber jacket and a dress.  I purchased a black shirt dress with a white-collar and white cuffs by Glamorous back in 2013 that I wore to Fashion Week San Diego (post here) .  Unfortunately, I followed the wash instructions incorrectly and I damaged the collar and cuffs.  Since then, I have been on the hunt for something similar.  When I saw the Black Collared Dress from the Victoria Beckham for Target collection, I knew I had found the one.  It is extremely well made and fits perfectly, skimming my body without being too tight.  The rabbit details are more charming than cutesy, giving it a very vintage feel, which is why it was perfect that we did a photo shoot in South Park at Bad Madge, one of my favorite vintage stores in San Diego.  A big plus: the dress is machine washable, and came out just as perfect as when I bought it!

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Inside Bad Madge.  I was going to buy that cape, and let them know I was coming back for it.  I haven’t gone back yet, but I’m hoping it’s still there!

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I just HAD to take a picture with this sign outside Thee Inglorious Blacktree Barbaria.  Nothing like truth in advertising!

Outfit:  Black Collared Dress by Victoria Beckham for Target (no longer available online); Miista “Eva” pumps (no longer available); BCBG purse (from the outlet store); Kate Spade bracelet & earrings (no longer available); Tights c/o Berkshire at eberkshire.com; Savannah Animal Print Frames c/o Select Specs

(All photos by Rholnna Jiao)

Premier Sports & Pub Grub at Phileas Fogg’s in Sabre Springs Plaza!

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Having been to London three times (and counting), I have a great love of pubs.  I love the sports fueled atmosphere, the camaraderie, and especially the food, affectionately known as pub grub.  Recently, my sister and I had lunch at a great little pub located at Sabre Springs Plaza called Phileas Fogg’s Bar & Restaurant.  They were voted “San Diego’s Best” three years in a row, and by the experience we had, we could see why.  Right when I walked in, I felt like I entered a pub in London, soccer prominent at every turn, even on the ceiling!

The food was just as wonderful as the atmosphere, reminding me of England on one hand, as well as making me feel right at home.  Their menu ranges from traditional British fare, to Asian and Mexican.  I had the Bangers & Mash with brown gravy and onions, and my sister had the fish tacos, along with her favorite appetizer, poutine fries.  We finished off our afternoon with bread pudding and banana fritters with ice cream for dessert.  It’s good to know that I can have delicious pub grub right in my own backyard!

If you would like to indulge in some pub grub while catching your favorite football club on the telly, Phileas Fogg’s Bar & Restaurant is located at 11385 Poway Road, #100 San Diego, CA 92128 and they can be reached at (858) 486-4442.  Cheers!

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Football (NFL) & more football (soccer)?  Why yes!  Plus, take a look at that ceiling and the amount of jerseys and flags; I spotted Manchester United straight away!

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Above: Bangers & Mash; Poutine Fries

Below: Fish tacos

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Above: Banana fritters with ice cream

Below:  Bread pudding with white chocolate chips and caramel

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Pub grub just the way I love it!

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FTC Disclosure:  I received compensation to patronize a business at Sabre Springs Plaza.  Although I did receive compensation, the opinions in this post are strictly my own.

(Most photos taken by Rholnna Jiao)

“Mangia Mangia” at Bongiorno’s Pizza in Poway Valley Center!

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Hometown eateries are always a great find because they’re like hidden gems.  My sister and I have been discovering fun places to eat up near where she lives in Rancho Bernardo, and Bongiorno’s Pizza in the Poway Valley Center is a tasty and affordable choice for Italian cuisine.  Our entire lunch meal, which included our main dishes with garlic knots, drinks and dessert only came to $29!  There were so many great choices, which solidifies a return trip with our families!

If you would like a great and affordable Italian dining experience, Bongiorno’s Pizza is located at 13332 Poway Road, Poway CA 92064 and they can be reached at (858) 679-3278.  They also do deliveries within 5 miles.  Cheers!

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Bongiorno’s has a cozy feel, with lots of pictures of New York.  Isn’t that pizza clock awesome?

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I had the spaghetti with meat sauce, and my sister had the baked ziti.  Both were really good, and we loved the garlic knots!

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“Leave the gun, take the cannoli…”

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This is absolutely one of the best deals at Bongiorno’s: the Dough Bites.  They are deep fried dough rolled in powdered sugar, and come in a small pizza box.  The entire box was only $4.99 and so great hot and right out of the box!

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FTC Disclosure:  I received compensation to patronize a business at Poway Valley Center.  Although I did receive compensation, the opinions in this post are strictly my own.

(Most photos by Rholnna Jiao)

The Latest From LEGOLAND®: Dominic’s Birthday at The LEGO® Batman™ Movie Days!

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As you know, The LEGO® Batman Movie did extremely well at the theaters this year.  In conjunction with its release, LEGOLAND® California celebrated with The LEGO® Batman™ Movie Days during the last two weeks in February.  LEGOLAND® bloggers were invited to attend one of the weekends, so we decided to turn it into a birthday celebration for Dominic, who turned 8 on February 27th!  Being the amazing photographer that she is, my sister skillfully captured all of the festivities at LEGOLAND®.  The next day, we took Dominic out for breakfast at his favorite place, followed by The LEGO® Batman™ Movie.


The LEGO® Batman™ Movie Days at LEGOLAND® California

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My sister, Rholnna, in action!

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Mei-Lin & Dominic were ready to take on the Miniland Scavenger Hunt!

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Batman™ Mini-figures were hidden with letters throughout Miniland, which spelled out a word.  Once the word was unscrambled, participants could enter to win one of two LEGO® prize packs!

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Batman was present EVERYWHERE in places like The Big Shop.  Even yours truly got in on the fun!

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Mei-Lin & Dominic always have fun, and can find new things to do each time we go to LEGOLAND®.  This time, they tried their hands at panning for gold!

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Another big part of why we love LEGOLAND® is the amazing food.  I always go for the Bao Bun at the Ninja Kitchen in Ninjago® World.  The rest of the family feasted on desserts, like goodies from Castle Ice Cream and the Churro Stand at Castle Hill.  Here’s a tip: Get the churros with chocolate sauce, you won’t regret it!

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Dominic got an awesome XBOX gift card from Auntie Rholnna, Uncle Jeremy and Mei-Lin!

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Thanks again LEGOLAND®, Dominic said he had an awesome time!


Dominic’s Birthday

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My mom couldn’t make it to LEGOLAND®, so she opted to have breakfast with us at Breakfast Republic Dominic’s actual birthday.  I’ve been to the North Park location, and Dominic and I have eaten at the Liberty Station location.  Since we live near Downtown, we all ate at the East Village location for his birthday.

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Dominic’s favorite meal at Breakfast Republic are the Churro Pancakes!

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For his birthday, Dominic was also treated to coffee cake with his favorite fruit: strawberries!

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Dominic loved The LEGO® Batman™ Movie so much, this was actually round two for him!

Fifty Shades Darker Premiere Event Recap & Movie Review!

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In celebration of the release of the highly anticipated Fifty Shades Darker, I’m posting pictures of the premiere event that I attended with my best friend, Janice!  I feel I should tell the story of what led up to this dream-come-true opportunity:  I follow a few social media accounts featuring Fifty Shades, including all of the official ones.  Those fan based social media accounts and blogs who have supported the books and movies since the beginning are a part of a select group called the “Official Fifty”.  I had read in one of the accounts that there would be a premiere party and masquerade ball where fans and those involved with the Fifty Shades franchise would be able to celebrate together then watch the actual movie.  The Official Fifty then started to let other fans know that we could also sign up to receive a special invite to join them at the event.  I took a risk and signed up, and then let my friend, Zach , know that I would take him if I were to be invited (I watched the original Fifty Shades of Grey movie with him in 2015).

As the time for the release of Darker drew closer, I started to see more and more of the Official Fifty post pictures of their invites, so I felt I was out of luck.  To my surprise, I received an email last Monday entitled “Your Invitation to Fifty Shades Darker Premiere”.  I opened the email and read the following:

Dear Cyrillynn Chen,

You and a guest are invited to the Fifty Shades Darker Premiere Event, and your RSVP IS REQUIRED to confirm your attendance.

Please RSVP no later than Wednesday, February 1st

Sincerely,

Universal Pictures

Stunned, I read the email over and over and just couldn’t believe my eyes.  I replied to ensure I would get into the event no matter what, then contacted Zach to let him know I received the tickets to the event!  Due to work and health reasons, Zach couldn’t make it, but Janice was more than happy to step in!  I made arrangements with my new job to leave early that day, and off we went to take part in an event to remember!

Janice and I made the trek from San Diego to Los Angeles and arrived just in time to get a quick bite to eat and change.  Thankfully, valet parking was provided for all guests free of charge!  The party itself started at 5:00 pm and was held at Vibiana, a wedding, events and performing arts venue.  The event was a beautiful masquerade ball made to emulate the one in the movie.  We were treated to delicious food, entertainment and lots of activities to participate in where we could take home souvenirs to prove it wasn’t all just a dream.  To our surprise, Eric Johnson (“Jack Hyde”) and Dana Brunetti (producer) made their way through the crowd and caused quite the stir.  I got the chance to say to Dana Brunetti how excited we were to see the movie, to which he replied “You will love it!”  Jose James, who appears in the movie in the masquerade ball scene, also entertained us for the evening.  The highlight was obviously when director James Foley and author EL James were joined on stage by the main stars Jamie Dornan (“Christian Grey”) and Dakota Johnson (“Anastasia Steele”).  They briefly thanked everyone for being there and headed to the theater to greet everyone and introduce the movie.  Right around 7:30 pm, fans were transported by shuttle bus to the gorgeous Theatre at Ace Hotel.


My Review of Fifty Shades Darker

(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD, AND REMEMBER TO STAY THROUGH THE CREDITS!)

What can I say about the movie other than Oh. My. God!  In hindsight, I see the initial movie of Fifty Shades of Grey was definitely a teaser or maybe a really well executed college project.  I have seen the first movie more times than I care to count, and I now see a bit of awkwardness between Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson that I had not noticed before, or maybe denied to myself because I wanted to defend my precious Fifty Shades.  But I attribute the awkwardness to being put in a situation where so much was asked of them physically as actors, before they really got to know each other as people.  I initially reviewed the intimate scenes as simply stylized to avoid being graphic, but I clearly was being too kind.  The more I think about it, the more I think the envelope could have been pushed in the first movie.  But again, being that Jamie and Dakota were “thrust” together and didn’t quite fully trust each other as actors and friends, they clearly made up for that fact in Darker.

James Foley is known for movies like At Close Range, Fear and the series House of Cards.  He definitely brought forth a different style and directorial maturity than Sam Taylor-Johnson, the director of the first movie.  I felt this was more of a suspenseful movie with a plot that revealed Christian Grey’s complicated life behind his alternative lifestyle.  I could feel the desire and love between Christian and Anastasia, despite having to navigate through all of the craziness in his life.  With Niall Leonard, EL James’ husband, as screen writer, James’ vision was more clear in Darker, and this movie catered to what the fans wanted, which was lacking a bit in Fifty Shades.  At the premiere, I could tell that there was more of a partnership and trust between James and Foley, which ultimately made this sequel far better than the first.

When I compare Darker to Fifty Shades, Darker is paced more quickly, which allows time for more of the scenes we as fans wanted to see from the book.  Fifty Shades had longer scenes, but not necessarily of the ones I wanted to see.  For instance, quite a bit of time was spent on the interview scene, but not enough time in Georgia.  Christian seemed to be more aloof in the Fifty Shades movie than in the book, which is where I think Jamie was criticized for being a bit stiff in his initial portrayal.  Again, I think the chemistry is a bit off in the first movie because Jamie and Dakota did not know each other well enough to be as comfortable with the more intimate scenes.  In Fifty Shades, Jamie skimmed Dakota’s body rather than ravage it as Christian does in the books.  In Darker, all that has gone away and I do recall Jamie saying in an interview that he and Dakota decided to just go for it, since they had time to build up a true friendship which created the trust needed to go as far as they did.  To me, that’s what shows in this movie, a definite closeness between the two main characters, which makes for hotter scenes that pleasantly shocked me.

I also noticed gaps in Fifty Shades that I filled in myself because I know the books so well.  For instance, Christian says in the elevator right after their first kiss, “What is it about elevators?”  Although that’s a line straight out of the book, what’s missing is seeing a couple who was giggling in an elevator after also getting caught kissing prior to them going in.  Later, when Christian and Ana are getting ready to go to dinner at his parents, he asks Ana “Do you got everything you need?”  She remarks knowingly “Yeah”.  Well, what movie-goers don’t know that fans do, is that Ana’s panties are missing, which means she is going to meet his parents sans underwear, which drives him crazy throughout the evening.  Darker is more of a complete movie that can actually stand alone if needed.  Christian’s horrifying childhood is more fleshed out with flashbacks and they refer back to the original movie by mentioning why Christian was so eager to get out of Georgia (Leila), why he can’t bear to be touched, and the actual introduction of Elena.

I also found more humor and lightness amid the drama in Christian’s life.  Jamie mentioned in another interview that the funnier moments are now evenly dispersed between the two, and I find myself so drawn to their cuteness as a couple.  In one scene, Anastasia wanders into The Red Room and Christian catches her there.  He said that Ms. Jones must have left the door unlocked and Anastasia says something to the effect of “What does she do in here…dust?”  In another funny scene where a certain piece of sexual paraphernalia is finally introduced (true fans will know what I’m talking about), Christian gives Anastasia the “second chance” Cartier earrings he meant to give to her previously, prior to the masquerade ball.  Christian then says “Don’t worry, these are for your ears,” much to Ana’s relief!

Still apparent in Darker is Anastasia’s strength.  Despite all that happens with her boss Jack Hyde, meeting Elena Lincoln and her run-in with Christian’s ex-sub Leila Williams, Anastasia provides the emotional stability Christian needs and desires.  Most of the scenes that we love from the book showing their developing emotional intimacy come alive on film: the “road-map” scenes, Christian as submissive, their confrontation with Elena and the proposal scenes are all present and accounted for.  In all of those instances, it is Ana who is the most honest because this is her first real relationship, where Christian’s relationships were always premeditated and outlined in contracts that eventually terminated.  Ana knows that does not a relationship make, and Christian eventually comes to that realization as well.  What Foley does well in this film is marry all of Christian’s past with their sexual and emotional discovery, creating a nicely packaged erotic thriller.

Some wants that didn’t come to life on-screen:  They didn’t use the “Put the chicken in the fridge” line prior to their first sexual encounter in Anastasia’s apartment; the pool table scene, which was filmed and cut from this version (I hope and pray there will be another “extended cut” with that scene added); and Hugh Dancy does not make any appearance, nor is there any mention of Dr. Flynn.  Despite those missing parts, Darker was more exciting, thrilling, sensual and emotional than Fifty Shades of Grey.  Foley’s tenure in film far exceeds Taylor-Johnson’s and although she gave it the good old college try, it just doesn’t stack up to Fifty Shades Darker.  I cannot wait to see it again tonight (with Zach)!


Photos from the Masquerade Ball Premiere Party

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Our bracelets for the event, as taken by Janice.

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Our first selfie inside the ball.  Doesn’t it look like Christian Grey is walking behind us?

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We received free masks, along with our ticket for the movie premiere.

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Earl Grey Tea and Macarons

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We had plenty of food and drinks, some of it served by mysterious gentlemen in masks!

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Lovely “Shades of Red” lipsticks provided by Sisley.

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From the top left: Myself with producer Dana Brunetti; Eric Johnson making his way through the uber-excited crowd; Jose James performing.

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I had to include this picture as taken by Instagram user @fiftydornan because that’s me behind Eric Johnson…looking shocked that he just walked through the crowd!

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EL James, Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson and James Foley.  What a treat for them to be there!

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Fun souvenirs from the magical evening!

I really loved the 360 camera.  We were in quite a line, but it was so worth the wait!