San Diego

In Search of the Christmas Spirit


‘Tis the Season! I have been slowly but surely trying to find the Christmas spirit. It seems like Thanksgiving sped by and I haven’t had the opportunity to decompress and gear up for Santa.  However, having two small kids at home, I have to summon the essence of the holidays somehow, and in a hurry. So this year, I began my effort with a new twist on a holiday favorite as well as the original version: Debbie Allen’s “The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” and California Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” I so glad I decided to attend both!

Hot Chocolate NutcrackerDebbie Allen’s version was a high-spirited interesting twist on this holiday classic. Holding true to “The Nutcracker’s” central theme, Allen put a fun and entertaining spin on this production.  As an added bonus, “The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” was filmed and aired it on BET this year.  We decided to wait until we saw it live before we watched it on TV so we would go into the show without any expectations. 

Hot Chocolate NutcrackerThis year also featured the Ms. Raven-Symoné. She was fantastic! From her singing to her dancing, she reminded us all of why we first fell in love with her on the Cosby Show. She is a true talent. After the show, I was admittedly disappointed to not see Ms. Debbie Allen herself, not even during the curtain call. However, I realized when we watched the show on BET, that Ms. Allen was so smartly disguised as one of the mice who stole the show, I didn’t even recognize her! In all the dancing was fabulous; the incorporation of the aerial dancers, stilt walkers, and stepping, made the show even more enjoyable for my little ones. I have to say we all left with a little more Christmas glimmer in our souls!

California Ballet NutcrackerNext up, my oldest daughter and I attended the California Ballet’s version of “The Nutcracker”. We were both excited because my daughter studied ballet for years and this would bring back memories of her on stage. We opted to leave the little ones at home because it would be a late night and we just wanted to have a “grown girls” night out.  (My daughter will be 20 in February.) First I must say, the set was gorgeous! From the opening scene to the last, I was impressed by the attention to detail that went into creating each set. I’d also like to give special thanks to the California Ballet because we went on their military appreciation night and our two tickets cost us a whopping $5 total! Not only did we have great seats, but the performance was phenomenal! The dancing, music and imagery were outstanding!

I can say, after our marathon of Nutcracker, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere I go…. Here’s hoping you all have found your own holiday cheer!  Happy Holidays to you and yours and may your days be sunny and bright!

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Spring Break in Sunny San Diego (part 2)

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Monday started off leisurely, as we were planning a drive up to Temecula to go wine tasting. We decided to go during a week day so we could enjoy the discounted tastings.  With the vast number of wineries available, I narrowed our choices down to 3, Ponte, Weins, and Leoness.  The drive was beautiful and we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery (we even stopped for an impromptu shopping excursion) and just enjoy catching up and reminiscing about our college days.

Weins is known for it’s “Big Reds” so we had to put that on our list.  I think my favorite was their Dulce Maria which was a sweet blend of fruits with lovely apple and melon tones.  Ponte probably had the most beautiful grounds we visited.  This would be a great wedding site.  Lush greeneries and immaculate gardens surrounded the grounds.  They also have an inn, if your guests would like to stay on site.  I think next time we will actually schedule a vineyard tour and tasting.
 After drin119855king all that wine, we decided to take a trip down the coast and enjoy the happy hour lunch at the Chart House in Cardiff by the Sea. OMG! I would love to live there year around.  Nestled right on the coast of the Pacific, it’s hard to imagine any other place on earth as beautiful.  We were seated in front of one of the beautiful picturesque windows, which gave us a view of the beach.  Not to be outdone by it’s ambiance, the food was delicious!  I had the Shrimp Scampi, Daurice had the Salmon and we shared the Lobster & Shrimp Spring Rolls. Absolutely Superb!!
Our view of the ocean. . .
Cardiff by the Sea
1905949Tuesday was an early morning as we planned to spend the entire day in LA.  This was my birthday gift to Daurice, as this was her first visit ever to the City of Angels.  I’m so glad that I’m able to read maps, because my fear of driving in LA rush hour traffic made us decide to get a metro card and see all the sights via subway.  We started our tour of Los Angeles at the Japanese American museum.  Daurice’s father was Japanese, so it was a great tribute to go and visit the museum, for me to learn more about the history of Japanese Americans and for Daurice to see some of the history that she grew up hearing about.
We then headed back via subway toward the Staples Center and LA Live.  This is probably my favorite area in LA.  Great eateries, the Staples Center, the LA Convention Center, the Nokia theater, Grammy Museum and movie theater are all located in this area.  We went to the Grammy Museum, visited staples, and ate at Smashburger.  Then we went to Hollywood Boulevard to see the famous Graumman Chinese Theatre and take a tour of the stars’ homes.  We opted to take our chances with the tour companies that set up shop on the corners.  This actually was my 2nd time touring with this particular vendor and probably my most enjoyable tour.  For the price, you see a lot (Holllywood sign, Rodeo Drive, and stars homes) and both times we had a pretty good tour guide.
We were supposed to go visit the Savoy, but after that whirlwind tour, we just wanted to grab a bite to eat and head home.
Since Wednesday would be Daurice’s final full day in San Diego, we decided to see some of the local sites so we could end the day early so she could rest before her 6am flight the next day.Our first stop was breakfast at the Broken Yolk Café.  A local favorite, we thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast of pancakes and eggs.  Next we headed to LaJolla, one of the most beautiful areas (in my opinion) in San Diego.  I told Daurice about the beautiful white castle that I would pass everyday on the 5 and it wasn’t until her visit that I did research to find out it is the Mormon Temple.  Daurice grew up in the Mormon church so this was a definite stop on our way to LaJolla.  The grounds are simply magnificent.  The view upclose is even more majectic than the view driving by on the highway.  Although we were not able to go inside (you have to be a Mormon), just walking the grounds and taking in the beauty of the design was a treat.
We spent the rest of the day touring LaJolla, the beach, and UCSD.  I had planned for us to have lunch at Seasons 52.  This is one of my favorite restaurants.  The menu changes every week (hence the name Season 52) and the presentation alone is delightful!
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Spring Break in Sunny San Diego

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I WAS SO THRILLED to be sharing the experience of San Diego with my best friend. As a “fairly” recent transplant to the West Coast, I had been dying to share with my East Coast friends and family all the wonders of San Diego!  My plan was to pack the week with all the things I’ve wanted to see and do in San Diego, but hadn’t had the chance yet because I was either to busy, or Mr. Smith was gone on deployment, which means I have no babysitter for our two little ones (ages 10 and 2).

So, in true Tiffany fashion, I worked weeks to prepare the ultimate “Girlfriends’ Getaway” itinerary for Daurice’s visit.  And boy, did we have fun!

Daurice arrived on a Saturday, which was great. I had time to go get the car washed up and gassed up because we would be putting in a lot of miles. We decided the first day should be low-key because she would need to adjust to the 3 hour time distance, since she traveled from Virginia.

We did a mini tour around the city and took in Ocean Beach (OB), Point Loma, Normal Heights and of course I took her downtown.  A coworker had taken me to a local eatery, “Hodads” which is a San Diego legend known for its hamburgers. We attempted to have lunch at the OB location, but the line was down the block!  PASS! We opted instead to enjoy happy hour at the bar of Chili’s.

Sunday, we got up early and took a drive to Coronado where we visited the historic Hotel Del Coronado. We did a little shopping, grabbed some ice cream and enjoyed walking around the hotel. That afternoon we drove out to Kearny Mesa to have dinner at Crab Hut.  My coworker had also recommended this place to me and honey, I had no idea just how good those crab legs were going to be. We had a blast donning our plastic bibs, but for the life of us, neither of us knew what the heck we were supposed to do with the lemons and the little cups of salt & pepper… it didn’t matter either way because the crabs were so friggin good, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Hands down, those were the best crab legs I had ever eaten!

SIDE NOTE: When trying to enjoy a “Girlfriends’ Getaway” while your husband is watching your 2 year old and 10 year old, remember to TURN YOUR CELL PHONE OFF! About 2/3rds of the way through our meal, I get the following picture from my beloved husband. . .

As you can imagine, dinner ended a lot sooner than we planned…  We rushed home to make sure that all my children were in tact and then got ready for our evening of fun!
So that evening, we took a trip to Del Mar to see “Draft Day” at Cinepolis.  This is a luxury movie theater with a full service menu and cocktails.
The pluses:Zebra Popcorn

  • The luxury leather reclining seats were to die for!!  Roomy, comfy and they recline all the way back!
  • I ordered chicken tenders and the Zebra Popcorn… HONEY! That Zebra popcorn was to die for.  I thought I
    might not like the toffee and chocolate flavor on the popcorn, but it was absolutely marvelous!  Daurice ordered the Caramel popcorn, which was good, but not as delicious as the Zebra.

The negatives:

  • We decided to see a late showing, after having rode around San Diego all day.  BAD DECISION. By the time we were 10 minutes into the movie, with the darkness of the theatre, the surround sound providing a nice soothing vibration, and the reclining leather seats, both Daurice and I were KNOCKED OUT cold!  We both laughed when we woke up at the same time trying to figure out who was snoring… we concluded it was both of us!
  • The other negative is, this is definitely a LUXURY theater with luxury prices.  I think my
    final bill was over $70 for just myself.  (I had a couple of cocktails).

To be continued. . .
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