St. Petersburg Garden

St. Petersburg Garden

Monday, May 7, 2012

Oh What a Mayo

I'm not a big celebrator of Cinco De Mayo. I also don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Well, generally I don't. The "drinking holidays" are typically not my thing but something funny happened this year.

Funny ha ha? Oh no no. Funny ironic. Yes, I say ironic because that something was called Mom and Dad. Oh the irony.

It all started with the holiday of green. I hadn't planned on going out. I was still in my pajamas relaxing when my father asked if I wanted to head out with him and my crew.

I was taken aback. I didn't really want to go out but dad looked so....mischievous. That was all I needed. I'm all for a good night of mischief. I was in. I called the girls and we were set. Until dad bailed on me.

Yes, you read correctly. He bailed. Got me ready for the night and then he bailed on me. I was stuck. Plans were made. We proceeded - without dad. Beware when making plans with dad.
So many choices...

The months rolled along and May was here. This time it was mom's turn. She approached with her Cinco De Mayo plans. Tequila tasting, music, a new restaurant.

I was intrigued. I'm not big on Tequila but I'm always up for a new adventure. I was in. Mojave here we come. No, not the desert, the restaurant in Astoria, Queens.

We walked through the doors and the adventure began. The band was already playing as we arrived so we took our seats, sat back and grabbed the menu.

It was a latin evening and spicy was the tone of the night. Attitude and drink. My eye immediately flew to "jalapeno" and I was set.

Jalapeno infused tequila with a splash of lime was my drink of choice. Keep in mind I've stated that I'm not big on tequila. This drink was so good that I wanted more. I now know why Patti Stanger of the Millionaire Matchmaker fame has instated the two-drink maximum.

The food was good, dessert was great and of course those drinks were dangerously good. I was starting to think this celebrating mini holiday thing was a great idea after all. 

Bonus - we couldn't leave without getting a dose of free - T-shirts, bottle openers, key chains and the most important of all....tasters of tequila.

After all, a night celebrating the remembrance of the 1862 Battle of  Puebla would not be complete without some tasters of tequila.

After spending a good portion of the evening at Mojave it was time to hit the town. I am not familiar with Astoria. This is where my dad grew up. He had plans.

We were back in his hood. He wanted to show us around his old stomping grounds. We're always up for adventure. And if we see some interesting finds along the way that's an added bonus. As long as the driver is always willing to stop the car, we're good to go.

Mischief Patrol
First stop - the old apartment. We were like stealth bombers on a mission. Dad drove the car up the street and parked. We all ran up for our first picture. And then the door creaked open. Hhmmm.

We didn't see a no trespassing sign. It must have meant we were welcome. After all, dad used to live here. It's almost like he's a resident. No harm in a photo. We walked in.

Ah, the old apartment, straight ahead. I was tempted to knock and ask for a tour but I thought it was best to just get our "outside the apartment door" photo and call it a night.

Not quite. We weren't finished with our tour. Back into the car and around the streets we went. And down an alley. Mom was confused. An alley? Dad was amused. So were we.

He regaled us with childhood stories as we cruised down the alleys. Until we saw it. It was what made us stop the car. Not just a rolling stop. We needed the full stop here.  Yes, there, off to the side, was the cafe.

When you've had a rough day, when you need to relax from the stress of world, unwind in the privacy of your back-alley cafe. Have a glass of wine. Have a latte. Get away from it all.

I think I would have added a little palm tree. Create some green effect. A little serene privacy. Put some crawling ivy on that wall. Surrounded my cafe with nature.

Just remember, when you think you can't escape from it all, there's always a hidden place somewhere to lose yourself. Here it happens to be in an alley in the middle of it Astoria. This certainly was a Cinco De Mayo to remember.

A little nightcap on the "patio"
Please visit my other websites at:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It All Started With A Cupcake

I love a good cake. It's all about the desserts for me. I'm not ashamed to admit it. People talk about going lo-cal, watching the fat, watching the calories.

Sure, whatever. You do that. I'll take the cake. I'm not talking about eating the whole thing here. I can have a few bites and be good. Which is why I'm even a bigger fan of the cake of cup. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. 
My twist on the cupcake - Chocolate with Almost Frosting
Cupcakes. I'm obsessed. Give me a mini little cake and I'm a goner every time. If I walk down the street and see a shop with those tiny little bites of heaven gracing the store window I have to stop. I need to stop. 

Which is why when I heard about a new show on the Food Network called "Cupcake Wars" I was all in. Yeah, I said it. All In.

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I was hooked. I couldn't miss an episode. Some people have mocked it. They feel it's a waste of an hour. They  don't understand the beauty of the cupcake.

Blueberry Pancakes
Each Sunday I found myself waiting to see which city the next batch of bakers (haha, see what I just did there?) would be from.

It was that fateful day when I saw it. The most delicious looking cupcake I had ever seen. And it was Vegan. I was intrigued. I had been on a dairy-free kick for a few weeks.

The judges couldn't stop raving about it. The chef's name was Chloe Coscarelli and she won the show. I was hooked. I needed to learn more.

I signed up for her newsletter and began getting her recipes. I tried out her cupcakes. They were the best I had ever eaten. I kept baking. My friends raved. They were the best they had ever eaten.

I was hooked. I tweaked the recipe and changed the frosting to make them my own. I couldn't stop. I could get into this vegan thing. Could I just eat cupcakes forever?

Cinnamon-Espresso Chocolate-Chip Cookies
I knew it was time to try some food. I'm not big on the cooking but I thought I'd give it a whirl. Chef Chloe had so many delicious Internet recipes. I tried a few and loved them.

*Sigh* They weren't enough for me to cook with everyday so I got lazy and just stuck with my dairy-free, vegan-cupcake infused diet.

Hey, a girl's gotta start somewhere. Might as well make sure the cupcake is first and foremost.

For the past year I had been happily creating my cupcakes. Playing with different frostings and doing my thing. My, I can-eat-whatever-I-want-as-long-as-it's-good-for-me thing.I don't like to follow diets.

I don't like to be told what or what not to eat. I like to follow my own rules. So this time when I saw that Chef Chloe was coming out with a vegan cookbook I thought it was time to give it another try. Except instead of being vegan, I was going to be vegan*.

That's right, vegan*. Here is my disclaimer. I am a chocoholic and I love sushi. Those are two things that I don't think I can willingly give up. Besides, chocolate and sushi are good for me. True story.

Falafel Burger
I know that there are some of you out there that have become vegans because of your love of animals. This is great. I love animals too. I adore them. But I have to admit these are not my reasons for going vegan.

I an becoming vegan* because I love the food and love the healthier lifestyle. I can't claim to do it because of animals.

I'd be a hypocrite if I said that. If I ate my vegan meal and then opened my leather Louis Vuitton purse to get out my leather Coach wallet to pay for my meal. Baby steps.

So it was with extreme excitement that I received my new cookbook in the mail. It was the first time I actually read a cookbook from cover to cover.

Mac & Cheese
I bookmarked all of the recipes that I wanted to try immediately and the next day I went to Whole Foods and bought all of the ingredients that I'd need.

I didn't recognize myself. It was an odd transformation. For the next two days I was a cooking fool. My parents were the beneficiaries of my new found skills. Cookies, burgers, pasta. I was unstoppable.

Well, until I ran out of ingredients. Then I was put on hold for few days. But that won't stop me. I'm into this cooking thing now. I'm even on a Brussels Sprouts kick. Didn't see that one. Ever.

I never thought we'd get much use out of our food processor when we registered for it years ago. If I'd have seen this coming I would have gone for the 12-quart. Who would have known.

My Cupcake twist - Chocolate with Peanut butter & Choclate Frosting

If you would like to find out more about Chef Chloe's cookbook, please visit her website at:

Please visit my other website at:

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Sport of the Shoe

I love shoes. It's not a secret. I'm not afraid to declare my love. I'll shout it from the rooftops.

Some people might refer to my love as an unhealthy addiction. This is just negativity.

I don't like to use such mean terminology for such a beautiful, um, sport. Yes, that's right, I said sport.

Sport you ask? How can a shoe collection be a sport? Well, maybe the actual collection can't be, but the shopping part? Sport. For sure, sport.

Can't I just take them all?
I know. I just participated in a sporting event at DSW's preview opening of their Flagship store in NYC.

My shoe team consisted of me and Liz. We arrived early thinking we'd have time to eat and prepare for the race. We were wrong.

Apparently we had to line up. A line? Damn. We had some stiff competition. We were starting to get nervous.

We had to focus. Wedges and heels. That's what we were here for. Wedges and heels. Find our size, grab the box and go.

The line began to move, they took our tickets and we were in. WE WERE IN. I was ready to hit the aisles. We hit the escalator and as we neared the top and rounded the corner it was like the sun was shining down on us.
Death by Shoe
I started to run to the right when ooooh to my left cake pops and Perrier. Oh My God they have Cake Pops!

A distraction. They threw in a distraction. Focus. I needed to focus. I was here on a mission. I forged ahead. Wait. I stepped back.

I grabbed a pop and got back on track. I headed down the aisle and my eye settled on a shoe when there it was. The Champagne Tray.

It was like an obstacle course. Every time you tried to get to the shoe you had to overcome the rope bridge or the giant wall.

Aisle after aisle of shoe. We didn't know where to start. And those crowds. Each time we thought we had it conquered we were told there was another floor. And there went that Champagne Tray again.
Hello? Want to come home?

The D.J. was playing, people were laughing, we were dancing and grabbing shoes at the same time.

Yes, it is possible to dance and try on shoes at the same time. We are professionals in our sport.

Our pile was growing. We had some decisions to make. Go with the cork or go with the red patent leather? Take the wedge or peep toe?

Several times during the event we switched shoes. Each time we thought we had our final choice we'd spot a new looker from afar and sprint. We had to get our shoe before anyone else did.

Then it was time to relax. The main event was over. We had completed our activity and had won. Big time. I'm talking gold medal here. We could fully enjoy the festivities. Goody bags, t-shirts, quadruple points for luxe members. We had earned our rewards.

Now let's go find that Champagne Tray.

You will be mine.
To find out more about the new flagship store visit:

Please visit my other website at:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

One of a Kind, Me.

Look, a pointer.

I had to make a trip back to the West Coast for some unfinished business. I know, poor me. It was a tough job but I knew I was up to the task.

I viewed this as my chance to do the things I kept saying I needed to do the last time I said I needed to do them and didn't. Did you follow that? Good.

First stop - Canine Companions. Sure, we'd been here before when we met Dean Koontz but we'd never taken a picture by that sign. You know, that sign. 

The sign that lets everyone know that this is where Dean Koontz has been. I've been meaning to take a picture here for five years. Yes, five years.

It's amazing what you do when you know you won't be around anymore. Which is why we ran across the street to the cemetery.

Why you ask? Because we always said we were going to stop for a long time. How long? Well...

We've been seeing this graveyard for...that's right...five years. Rumors flew. Pet cemetery, Indian graveyard. Time to find out.

Look at that - the burial place of Oceanside's founders. Mystery solved. It was a peaceful hill overlooking Mission San Luis Ray. Sure, not as exciting as a Pet Cemetery but...wait.

There was a headstone outside of the cemetery in the far corner. We had to investigate. Well, what do you know! A cat grave site. Okay, so there was a little truth to the rumors.

You find the best things on the street.
Another thing I'd always wanted to to in San Diego was go horseback riding. I had been trying to find a place for years but to no avail. It was either for couples or lessons.

I didn't want lessons and well, Mike didn't share my enthusiasm for the horse. I wasn't faring too well. I gave up my search. But then, as if the one-last-mission fairies were shining down upon me, there it was.

Well, maybe not the fairies, more like Groupon and Living Social. I got my ride at Vineyard Trail Rides in Ramona. I opted for the 9 a.m. slot. Sure, it was early but besides the guide, who was also the owner, I was the only person on the trail. This is how it should always be.

Gallop, trot, cantor, whatever. I could do it all in peace. I didn't have to worry about anyone else enjoying their ride either. Just me. My horse was great too. I barely had to do anything and of course it was another beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. Another good reason I took the early time slot. It was still cool but by the time I was done it was starting to heat up.

There was a bonus on the trail. It was actually a "ride and drink" offer. You take a two-hour trail ride and get a wine tasting.This may come as a shock but I actually forgot my wine.

*Gasp* I actually was in it for the ride. I know, I know, how could I. We rode for an hour, took a brake where I had my mini bottle, then continued for the next hour.

I didn't realize I left my bottle until I was driving away. And the tears came to my eyes.....

As you can see, I like to do my own thing. I love it when someone wants to come along and join me in my adventures. The more the merrier. If you don't want to, that's okay, I'm fine trying things solo. I don't want to want to miss out on something because I was alone or felt silly doing it. 

I still haven't finished my list of needed sights to see. Yes, the list has gotten smaller but it does seem like the list is never ending. Which just means more traveling. I'm not complaining.

It's great to be unique, one of a kind, or as that great sign on the street says, the Black Sheep. Normal is so overrated.

Black Sheep are the best. Dirt is harder to find on them.

If you would like to learn more about the places mentioned in this blog you can visit their websites below:

Please visit my other blog at:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New York State of Mind

The new living room in the driveway look
Ah, New York. It seemed like we'd been planning this move for a long time. Probably because we had. Are we moving, are we not, should we move? We couldn't decide.

We kept putting it off but we finally made our decision and picked a date. Late December. It sounded like a great idea. Christmas in New York. Everyone loves the holidays in the city. I know I do.

What's not to love? The decorations, the city all aglow, the shopping, Broadway, stores open late. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. Until I remembered one little thing. The cold. Damn it. THE COLD. I had forgotten about that part. We'd just finished packing. Was is too late to turn back now? Just a joke. No really, I'm joking.

Amongst the Rooftops
We arrived in NY and to our surprise it was warm. A reprieve. Temporary, yes but it didn't matter. Anything to help us adjust would work. We knew what was coming. January. AND February. I might not make it after all.

Christmas was only a few days away. We had to unpack and put our things in place. Not an easy task when you have another house full of furniture to deal with. We had an easy solution. Set up outside. Nothing says welcome home like a couch in the driveway. My mom was amused. Dad, well, not so much.

Work was almost done. Now it was time to play. Into Manhattan we go. We were on our way to see a show. I'm all about the shows. I've been going to Broadway since I was 3 years old. That's a long time. Tonight's selection - How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

We arrived early. I know you're not supposed to take pictures in the theatre when the show starts but we were so early I thought hey, why not? Apparently they frown upon any pictures in the theatre at all. Let me stress that. AT ALL. I guess if I were famous they'd bend those rules a little. At this point, those rules were not bent.

The play was fantastic. My parents had seen it and loved it which is why we decided to see it. I highly recommend it. Although be careful when you get wine in those plastic sippy cups. They leak.

Afterwards we decided to walk around. The best part about the city is that it's open late. Yes, the whole city. Ok, maybe not the whole city but most of it. This is what I missed the most. When trying to get coffee late at night only to face a closed establishment, many a conversation has ended with, "you know, if we were in NY..."

On the plane ride over I had just read an article in my New York Magazine about an art installation called "Rooftops". I thought it was interesting. Just a bunch of rooftops placed on the ground. I was wondering if I'd be able to see it. For years I had been clipping places to see, things to do but since I was in San Diego it had never happened.

Well what to you know. Walking around the corner on the way back from our play - Rooftops! Fences prohibited us from climbing all over them but it was pretty cool to see them displayed in the middle of block. After all these years, I finally got to see something that I read about in my magazine. This move was starting to look better and better.

The stuff dreams are made of
Oh my God. It's the Peep Mobile! The freakin' Peep Mobile! I was just walking down the street in excitement from my rooftop display when there it was. Just sitting in the parking lot down the street in all of its yellow glory. Who knew one even existed?

It was turning out to be a perfect night. We'd only been back in NY for a few days and it was already magical. What a night this had turned out to be and it wasn't even over yet.

It was getting close to midnight, that's right, midnight, and the stores were still open. I knew I had to made one last stop. Cupcakes. Every night needs to end with a cupcake. Magnolia Bakery had my name on it. We strolled in and picked out a few chocolate creations and then our night was complete. Wait, that time thing is too good for me not to say it again. The bakery was open until midnight.

Yes, I know there are going to be good times and some not so good times. Like that January and February cold thing I mentioned earlier. Maybe I should have held off on the move until March when spring starts rolling in. But then I wouldn't have seen Rooftops or the Peep Mobile. Or Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed. And those are definitely some good times that I don't want to trade in. It's not too often you see a giant marshmallow bunny driving down the street.

For an alternate ending and for different pictures go to my other blog at: