Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Balboa Park: 100 Years Of Fun And Learning.

2015 was a very special year for Balboa Park, it marks the 100th anniversary since its opening.  Located in the heart of San Diego is one of our favorite family friendly attractions, which while living in San Diego we frequently visited. Now that we live in Northern California we try to visit a couple of times a year while visiting family.

To give you a little bit of background the park existed back in 1872, however it was more of an open space with wildflowers and wildlife. It was until 1909 that the San Diego Chamber of Commerce suggested and began working on the park to prepare it for the Panama-California Exposition. The Panama-California Exposition was a celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal and was meant to place San Diego as the first U.S. port of call for ships traveling North via the Canal. 

Fast forward to 2016 and Balboa Park is now home to 17 museums, 19 gardens, over 60 miles of hiking trails, and home to the world famous San Diego Zoo. We've shared about all several of our places to visit in the Park, but we wanted to share a small list of what to see while visiting. 

Mingei International Museum, is a Museum like no other as it collects and exhibits arts of daily use. On exhibit you will see traditional cultures from the past and present. The Museum is host to Family Sunday's on the second Sunday of each month. Inviting families to explore their exhibits and learn to create art. It is perfect for an afternoon of fun and learning. We've been there twice fro Family Sunday and several other times to explore their exhibits. My favorite display has always been on the one on the ceiling, reminds me of an artful angel ready to spread love, joy, and kindness. 

The Botanic Gardens at Balboa Park, are one of the most photographed building on the park, perhaps it has to do with the Koy pond out front of it or the lush green plants on display inside. On a hot summer day, it's the perfect spot to cool down. On any given day, you will feel as if you were transported to a jungle. During the holiday season it is home to a beautiful Poinsettia display. During our visit we saw several species of orchids, aren't they beautiful?

The San Diego Natural History Museum aka The NAT, you can expect to learn about the biodiversity the San Diego and Baja California region has to offer, the changes in the land and how the land meets the ocean. The last time we visited we enjoyed a special traveling exhibit on gemstones and jewels back in 2012, it was amazing. At the NAT you may also enjoy a documentary in their giant screen theatre, one in particular I look forward to seeing on our next visit is the Whales.

San Diego Museum of Art, an amazing museum with art from around the globe. During our most recent visit in January we were able to enjoy the exhibit on The Art of Music, it was truly amazing to see how music has an influence on artists from past and present. We got to enjoy paintings from Botero, Matisse and there was a station for guests draw while listening to jazz music. We enjoyed this exhibit very much.

San Diego Zoo, one of our many visits to the San Diego Zoo I remember meeting some tourists from Spain. They mentioned that when they first planned out their trip to California, they researched on places to visit with their family after said research the first item on their travel plans was the San Diego Zoo. What made the San Diego Zoo a premier choice for this family of tourists as many guests -us included, is the effort that San Diego Zoo makes to not only have animals from around the globe on exhibit, but also teach guests about conservation and how we can help to preserve wildlife. Are you planing to be in San Diego during the summer? If so, consider visiting the Zoo for its annual "Nighttime Zoo" event; during the evening/nighttime there are less crowds, it is cooler and most importantly most animals will be more active. 

International Cottages {House of Pacific Relations}, oh the places you'll go without having to leave San Diego. It is best to visit on a weekend when most if not all cottages are open. You will learn about other cultures and countries, such as Finland, Israel, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Denmark, Ireland, and many more. There are 32 cottages in total representing different nationalities, there is always something fun going on. Inside each cottage you will learn how people from each country live, as they're decorated according to the culture they represent. Amongst our favorites are: the house of China, the house of Israel, the house of Denmark, and the house of Finland. 

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center aka The Fleet, a fun and exciting museum in which you are mostly hands on with most if not all the exhibits while learning. While my kids were toddler we'd often visit the little city they have on the second floor. Most recently we visited to view a movie about Jerusalem in their IMAX theatre. 

San Diego Air and Space Museum, during our last visit we enjoyed this museum the most. My son has grown with a passion for all things transportation and appreciates all there is about space too. This museum has an exhibit on the history of flight, it's amazing to see what the first aircraft looked like compared to what airplanes look like now. Also a trip down memory lane in regards to the amenities that airlines used to offer their customers through the years, remember when flying was a luxury in the sense that you'd get served your meal in real porcelain or ceramic plates and real silverware not disposable ones like nowadays? The kids section is also fun, with games and experiments that teach you about flying, gravity and more. 

While visiting Balboa Park, make sure you enjoy a nice meal and lovely view at The Prado. Anytime during the year, request to be seated in their outdoor patio it is truly peaceful. With a small water fountain in the center and awnings you will feel as if you were in paradise. They have a children's lunch menu with great options from a salad to chicken fingers, grilled cheese sandwich, fish tacos and more!  Pictured above is the Marinated Skirt Steak Panini it has a delicious chimichurri sauce and house made garlic-shallot roll, it is perfection and I highly suggest you try it. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tips From A New Runner

The past couple of months have been about running, working on my endurance and setting a better PR -that's Personal Record. I have been learning from avid runners what to do and what not to do, I have a better idea of what I should be eating and what will help me reach a better PR.

I've learned to listen even more to my body, in order for one to achieve what we want our bodies to do we need to be in tune with them.  Here's a list of what I've learned that works for me and may work for you too:

- 8 hours of sleep per night is a must, it allows my body to recharge and prepare for the next day even if it's a rest day.

- Eating before running gives me more energy, in fact when I've ran without having a small breakfast I end up having reflux and have to stop continuously or run uncomfortably.

- Eating a balanced diet lets me run smoothly without feeling the need to gasp for air.

- Dressing appropriately for the weather is best. For the past 2 years we were in the tropics which means that our wardrobe consisted of mainly summer clothes. Now, we live in cooler temperatures.  I've run in 39ºF temperature and it was truly uncomfortable. My legs felt stiff and my cheeks, lips and hands were numb which is why my family prepared me even more for my runs with weather appropriate attire and I've felt more comfortable running or taking a walk in warmer clothes.

- My lips have been burning from how dry the air feels, I've tried several lip balms and ended up going back to Burt's Bess my preference is for the pomegranate one but recently tried the grapefruit one. They both work on my lips. 

- I recently read that you should change your running shoes every 300 miles or 6 months. At first I will admit I thought it was a marketing ploy to get us to buy new sneakers often, but the past couple of weeks I've noticed my right foot keeps bothering me to the point where I end up taking brisk walks and just maybe it could mean it's time for a new pair. I added up all my miles since I got this pair in Spring 2015 and although I'm not at 300, my shoes do need replacement and pronto.

- Hydration is key, as a high blood pressure patient that takes medications for to help control it I need to drink water while on my runs and my parents found the perfect running belt for me that has 2- 6oz water bottles and a place that keeps them safe on my belt plus there's a zip pocket for my phone, keys and whatever else I might need. It also helps to have my hands free of holding the water bottle. 

It's amazing how great one feels when working towards a goal and I've been working towards mine at my own pace. In running, just like anything else you shouldn't compare yourself and your achievements to others. Instead you should compare them to yourself a few weeks or months before. You will surely notice milestones and how far you've come.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Yalla Mediterranean

It’s been a whirlwind year, this weekend we celebrated our first year anniversary since we moved back to the Bay Area. It’s amazing how time goes by so quickly, specially when you are enjoying life. To celebrate our friends at Yalla Mediterranean invited us to try their new location in Fremont and of course we are thankful that we had this great opportunity.

Last Friday after school pickups, I surprised my kids with a visit to Yalla. As soon as we arrived we were all excited to try their delicious food, we had been following them on Instagram and had a general idea of what we’d order. 

First things first, we are a detail oriented family. This means we look at every single detail in our surroundings, from colors to textures to tastes; Yalla’s logo captured our attention. A simple slice of lemon and the name, to us this meant simple ingredients in a modern and clean restaurant. We also noticed the combination of colors in the décor: Yellow, teal and gray, looks perfect to us.

As we entered Yalla, we were greeted by smiling faces ready to cook our order. Wait a minute, did I say cook? Yes, I did. You see, at Yalla they prepare your meat, chicken and/or fish the moment you order it. First they ask what style you’d like, options are: wrap, salad or plate. We all chose plate style, which comes with 3 sides for adult portions and 2 sides for kids portion. 

I ordered the Chicken Skewers plate, this is all natural chicken breast that has herbs and spices served on top of Basmati Rice and seasonal vegetables –our server suggested to try the Spiced Lentils and they were delicious! a side of Moroccan Carrot Salad {carrots, cumin, dill, golden raisins, honey and greek vinaigrette}, Fattoush Salad {cucumber, olives, dill, red onion, green onion}, Israeli Cous Cous {cous cous, dried fig, dried apricots, almonds, parsley, scallions, fennel, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar}. Everything tasted fresh and was delicious. 

I should point out that all of their sides are Vegetarian and Gluten Free, some are even Dairy Free and Yalla only uses GMO Free ingredients. Every morning the Yalla team chops, dices, zests and spices 360 pounds of fresh produce, I absolutely love this! 

The kids’ menu is perfect for ages 10 and under, they have the same choices: Salmon or Chicken or Kefta Skewer, or Falafel. My kids ordered Salmon Skewer and chicken Skewer and liked it. It is served with Basmati Rice, Yalla Fries and 1 Yalla Side, and includes your choice of Organic Milk or House-Made Lemonade. 

The ambience at Yalla is casual, family friendly and even though your food is prepared and cooked at the moment you order, you are enjoying it within 5-10 minutes.  After our meal, we ordered dessert Greek Frozen Yogurt with chocolate sauce. 

My family enjoyed their food, the ambience and friendly team that were always smiling. In fact as we were leaving my kids asked if we could come back the next day to eat another delicious, freshly made dinner. As for me, I do plan on returning. The taste, temperature and quality of the service were fantastic. 

Special thanks to Evonna, she suggested I try the Beet and Kale Salad {roasted beets, kale, feta cheese and Greek Vinaigrette} it was so good and will be added to my faves for our next visit.  

We live 40 minutes from this location, but I did ask if they were planning on opening anywhere in the South Bay Area and was told that it is planed to happen in 2016 –yay!

*This is a sponsored post, all opinions, story and images are 100% our own.*