Irvine Spectrum Shopping Center

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Today I’m going to talk about a shopping mall which is here in Irvine, very close to Gabi’s, Carolina’s and my own place. I do like this shopping mall because it’s different from others around here and specially quite different from Europe.IMG_2835

Who doesn’t like to walk, see new things and eventually buy new things and breath fresh air? Or get some sun when you’re buying new clothes? You’re definitely more happy than just be under a ceiling, right? ¬†ūüôāIMG_2836

Well, I do¬†recommend¬†this place, and for those who live close to it, like us, it’s a really nice walk to the mall and you don’t even have to take your car. But obviously you can take it if you want to. ūüėõ They offer lots of public parking, and it’s really easy to find a parking spot to leave your baby. Also you can feel pretty safe once you are there.IMG_2833

For those who love movies, they have a big theater with lots of rooms, including IMAX and RPX. All the chairs are very comfy, so you can watch your show relaxed and have a great time there. The only thing that I don’t like is the popcorn, but it’s just my Portuguese vein speaking, because in¬†Portugal we are used to the popcorn with sugar and here they’re only serve them with salt. Funny, huh? Cultures. ūüėČIMG_2845

On the other hand, if you just want to¬†go there for a walk, have fun, have an ice cream or a small lunch or simply have a chat with your friends, you can take advantage of all the seating areas in the mall. Some are close to a nice fountain which I like a lot. Also you can take a ride on the giant wheel which is super nice and fun to go on, and it’s not expensive. I’ve already tried it and obviously like it a lot. One advice though, don’t go at night, because you can’t see the “city”; go during the day or even during sunset, that would be perfect. ūüėÄ
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Also, the Spectrum offers activities for kids such as a merry-go-around. It is a great way to spend a really cool afternoon with them.
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I do recommend this place, even for those who live close to it and start getting tired of it, go there and try to see this shopping mall with other eyes, life is good and beautiful and we have to taste it and enjoy it every single day!
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After talking so much about the Spectrum, and because today it’s a beautiful day, I might ¬†follow my own advice and go to the mall really quick. Who wanna join me???
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Have a great weekend and enjoy the little things in life because they are the best and they’re free. ūüėõ

Lili

Brazilian Candy Shop

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So, I’m in Brazil! My husband and I came last week to spend three weeks with our friends and family. That’s why I’ve been away from the blog; and I miss it very much!

First we went to São Paulo.  It’s a busy busy city! I love it there because everyday we always have something different to do; but one thing I couldn’t stand was the crazy traffic. I knew it was like that, but now it’s even worse. Besides traffic, everything was perfect. We went to some very nice restaurants and shops; and today I’ll talk about a specific place.

Do you remember Flora? She writes here sometimes and she is from São Paulo. She was very nice with us there, and we spend a whole afternoon going to malls and shops (without the husbands, of course :P).  We went to a mall called Pátio Paulista first. Things are a bit expensive there, but some things are totally worth it.

For instance, we went to a little shop called Brigaderia. They only sell brigadeiros, it’s very cool! Brigadeiro are very famous (and yummy) Brazilian candies. They are made of cocoa powder, sweet condensed milk and butter. The texture of those candies is very smooth and sticky; they are also very sweet. It’s a very simple recipe, but the owner of Brigadeira created tons of different variations of the same base recipe. We found there brigadeiro with capirinha, lemon, white chocolate, crispy brigadeiro, and, of course, the traditional one too!

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Stay tuned to learn how to make brigadeiro, I‚Äôll soon post the recipe here. ūüėČ

Gabriela

Original Pizza – Newport Beach

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In the past few weeks Kris and I have discovered a few spots in the OC which are some of our new fav’ places to have lunch or dinner.

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This one is about a¬†pizzeria¬†which couldn’t be any more basic than that: Home-made dough, hypnotizing smell on the pavement and a family friendly place with big tables.

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Kris and I were¬†aiming for another place to eat, but where not convinced by it in the end and the smell of “Original Pizza” persuaded us to step in.

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You can even see that the dough is kneaded in the restaurant itself.

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If you’d like a nice American pizza eve’, forget about all those chains and try “Original Pizza“. You will not be¬†deceived!

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Buon appetito!

Nathalie

The Groves Antique Market

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Kris is a typical man when it comes to shopping: he simply doesn’t like it. Full stop. One thing we can agree on though, is browsing through flea markets and antique markets. We’ve been pretty lucky, since the past few days have been so beautiful weatherwise. So what a great reason to visit the¬†Groves Antique Market¬†in Irvine! Little Albert had a blast too, meeting lots of four-legged friends.¬†Irvine Markets2 Irvine Markets3Irvine Markets17Irvine Markets4 Irvine Markets5 Irvine Markets6 Irvine Markets7 Irvine Markets9Irvine Markets8Irvine Markets10IMG_1528Irvine Markets16Irvine Markets11Irvine Markets12Irvine Markets13Irvine Markets15Irvine Markets20Irvine Markets21Irvine Markets18Irvine Markets22We even discovered that Irvine has a pretty community garden with happy looking chickens!

I hope you had a beautiful weekend too!

Nathalie

San Francisco – Bernal Heights

bernal hillBernal Heights is one of my favorite places in San Francisco. You really feel home in this neighbourhood. It is one of those places where houses are so colourful and on very steep streets. When I am there, I have to go up to Bernal Heights Park. From the East side you will have the best view over Downtown SF (of course!) but more importantly on a clear day you’ll be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge! I have been on a few hills so far in the city and the Golden Gate Bridge was always hidden by something (mostly another hill) else.

If you like Farmer‚Äôs Markets there is one on Saturdays:¬†Alemany Farmer‚Äôs Market¬†(100 Alemany Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94110). Lots of nice fruits and veggies, also sun dried apples but pears (yum!). The food trucks are apparently very good. But you should not miss ‚Äúthe hummus guy‚ÄĚ! Guess what he is selling! And take a bag of Lemon Pita Chips on his stall with any hummus version you like! They are really addictive!

Cortland Avenue is the main street in this neighborhood and it is really nice to browse around on that street. Small shops, cafés and restaurants. I tested are the Sandbox, Moki’s and the Liberty Café.

Sandbox (833 cortland avenue) does marvelous baked goods, great with your morning coffee, which you can get there of course too. I can’t suggest any baked goods specifically so far all I had were delicious.

If you’d like a proper cooked breakfast then go to the Liberty Café (410 Cortlanda Avenue). They have a delicious home-made chai tea and the eggs Florentine are very tasty.

In the evening I like to go to Moki’s (615 Cortland Avenue) a very delicious sushi place. Very original sushis and fairly filling too!

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Bon appetit!

Nathalie

San Francisco – The Mission

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Dolores Park

When I am in San Francisco, I spend a lot of time in the Mission District. I like the neighbourhood a lot for being more independent (I haven’t seen any Starbuck’s around there!).

Be sure that every time I am in town, I’ll go at least once to Dolores Park¬†(between 18th¬†and 20th¬†Street and along Dolores Street): It offers a really great view over the city.¬†Lots of people hang around, enjoying the good weather, many many dogs running around, and drinking a beer¬†doesn’t¬†seem to be too much of a problem in that park either. A fabulous way to enjoy a relaxed afternoon in the city among the locals.

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Dolores Park

Close by there is the¬†Revolution caf√©¬†(3248 22nd Street). It has a bit of a boh√®me atmosphere and according to¬†Diamond Dave¬†a local hippy, it is still one of the authentic places in town (My friend Annette and I met him in front of our door step. He seems to know everything which is going on in the city, so we followed his suggestion and were not¬†deceived).¬† In that caf√© they regularly have live music, mostly jazz. When we were there for an afternoon lemonade (the bar tender made us a special mix, don’t ask me what it was, it was very tasty though!) we had the chance to have a nice band to make our experience complete.

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For a nice sandwich go to Mr. Pickles (3380 20th Street). The sandwiches are seriously massive! We kept half of our sandwiches for next day’s lunch! The place is not particularly comfy but you could for example get a sandwich there and eat it in in Dolores Park which is sort of around the corner!

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For the afternoon-coffee-need go to Four Barrels on Valencia Street (375 Valencia St. (at 15th Street). Nice location, lots of hip people and Macs on the counter. Valencia Street is by the way a great street for second hand shopping or decoration shops.

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I also got Lili a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans from that shop, since she was kind enough to dog-sit Albert whilst we were gone. I like the simple package and the amazing smell!

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A bit further East and slightly less hipster there is Philz Coffee (3101 24th St. at Folsom St.) They have benches just outside, so when the weather is nice it is very enjoyable to watch people passing by. I spent a couple of hours there with Annette watching the city life.

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To finish your day in this neighbourhood you should get a drink.¬†In the UK, I was really into pubs. They have something cosy and not too fancy. In the U.S. I discovered the counterpart: Dive Bars. They seem sometimes slightly more dodgy as they are often a bit dark but I like them anyway. The¬†Elbo Room¬†(647 Valencia St.)¬†is a nice divish bar in the way that it is a bit more classy. They serve a nice range of beers. In the dark beers, I can recommend the ‚ÄúDeath & Taxes‚ÄĚ (I love the name too!).

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Have a good one!

Nathalie

London!

London

Last year I went to visit London, and even though it was only for a couple of days, it was enough to see the most popular buildings and historical parts of this beautiful city.

I loved¬†being¬†there, it was a great weekend and I’m about to show you the things that I loved the most about it.

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All Big Ben

Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, officially named Elizabeth Tower. This Tower holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower. It’s now 153 years old and in 31 May 2013 it’s gonna be 154 years. This great and huge tower was completed in 1858 and has become one of the most prominent symbols of England and of course London.

I loved seeing the Big Ben, because everyone knows it, but see it in front of you it’s¬†completely¬†different,¬†¬†it’s beautiful, magic, and I can’t even¬†describe¬†more about that. If you think of visiting this city, you really should go there and see the tower with your eyes, because pictures can show you the beauty of the thing, but seeing it, you can feel all the magic.

Funny fact, this clock is considered one of the most effective and correct clocks in the world, it never misses a beat.

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Buckingham Palace is the official London residence and principal workplace of the British monarch; it’s located in the City of Westminster.
The palace is also the most touristic places to visit.
Originally known as Buckingham House, this building which forms the core of today’s palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705.

When I got there, it was so crowded we couldn’t even see it well, but we saw it all including the guards just standing in there, I found them so funny, because they can’t move and some people say jokes and try to get a smile from them, but without success, they can’t move a muscle. I was a bit shocked¬†in the¬†beginning, I didn’t knew about that fact, but then I started to question myself: “What if the guy have a tummy¬†ache?” Ahahha.

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The London Eye is the beautiful giant wheel in the south part of the¬†Thames¬†river, in London. The entire structure is 135¬†meters¬†(443 ft) tall and 129¬†meters¬†(394 ft) diameter. It’s now the most visited tourist attraction in the UK, visited by over 3.5 million people annually. It was built in 1999.
We went up there and it really is amazing and jaw dropping inspiring to see the whole city from there, check out a few photos we took:

When I saw this giant wheel, I said: “OMG, it’s hugeee!!! I wanna go there!”, so we did and saw the city from the sky. It was the most beautiful experience that I ever had, it’s beautiful and incredible how they could build such a huge¬†attraction for tourists right in the middle of London. Needless to say there was a gigantic line of tourists, waiting for their chance to see London with a¬†different¬†perspective.

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Also, here’s a little tip for those visiting London, I really recommend you to visit a¬†Portuguese restaurant¬†called O¬†Cantinho de Portugal¬†(137 Stockwell Road) and the Portuguese grocery store (which is right next to the restaurant). I’m a bit suspicious to talk about Portuguese food, but I can assure you that you’re gonna love it, we have one of the richest gastronomy in the world. And it’s not far from the Big Ben (10 minute walk), and they have good prices too. You have GOT to try the natas, our¬†specialty¬†pastry.

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If you opt for a meal, here’s two of the delicious options, Bacalhau com Natas, and Bitoque.

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So, I really loved being there and all but I havent told you the “real” reason we visited, there’s this famous trance band called Above&Beyond that we love, we got to see a special gig from them at the¬†Brixton Academy.¬†Here’s a photo of me after the gig… you can tell I jumped a lot ūüėõ

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Hope you enjoyed it!

Lili