Saturday, October 29, 2016

My Cuban Adventure - October 2016 #TLLBLND

My  trip to Cuba all began a couple years ago when my husband joined a social club in San Francisco, "Wingtip". Soon after he was accepted into the club he heard of an annual trip to Cuba for its willing members.  Sean and I looked at each other and immediately agreed "We're in!".  California Building Bridges is the non-profit that organizes trips to Cuba for Americans as a Cultural People-To-People exchange. The process of receiving travel information, submitting personal documents for a travel visa, and a nominal deposit for our trip to Cuba began in February 2016. To be firmly placed in the correct context Sean even had a linen suit made through Wingtip for this unprecedented family vacation.
The next touch point I recall was a conversation with the founder of Wingtip, Ami Arad, who emphatically stated "There is absolutely no reason why you can't smoke a Cuban cigar with every meal." At this point I knew the possibilities would be endless. NOTE: As you read this article, please take note of the hyperlinks for greater insights.
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A direct flight from the United States to Cuba is not available at the time of our departure from the west coast, so off we flew to Miami for an overnight stay. October through April is high season for travel and off-season for hurricanes. We spent a few hours having dinner and walking around South Beach at the recommendation of a fellow passenger on the flight over. This place is like no other. Ten-foot long Python snakes are on display along the restaurant lined promenade, a guy riding up and down the crowded street with a Ring-Tail Lemur on his shoulder, spirited celebrations of life was at every corner and some folks unusual clothing displays (or lack there-of) I cannot mention for this publication...
The next morning we boarded  American Airlines from Miami to Jose Marti Airport in Havana Cuba for a 40 minute flight. The distance from the Florida Keys to the island of Cuba is a mere 90 miles. The weather is hot and humid as our group of 13 walked from the foot of our airplane on the tarmac into the tiny airport. We were warmly greeted in Spanish by a uniformed airport official. Immigration was swift and without incident. Once you pass a brief interview, passport is stamped and have your photo taken, you are buzzed through a solid door one person at a time to retrieve your luggage at the turnstile but not before passing through a metal detector and submitting your visa and declaration paperwork to a woman seated at a folding card table.

Now the adventure begins!

We lodged at the Melia Cohiba Hotel, a Spanish hotel chain for seven days along the The Malecon Highway which follows the shore and seawall known to the locals as "The Sofa". The seawall is five miles long and took 20 years to build. The hotel is first-rate. Large impressive front lobby, friendly knowledgeable staff, currency exchange, gorgeous swimming pool, and two bars. Clean, comfortable rooms, efficient plumbing, clean towels daily, plenty of hot water, a morning buffet with a wide variety of tasty dishes including good Cuban coffee, make yourself Mimosas, and of course a Habanos cigar retail shop and smoking bar with nightly live entertainment is right across the hall.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pub Style Burger-The Luxury of Beef #TLLBLND

Cooking began for me as a 10-year old starved for sweets. My mother who is a wonderful cook at home and headed a restaurant for over 30 years on Palo Alto, California never purchased sweets from the grocery store nor can I say she was a very good baker, sorry Mom. It all began when I rode my bike to the grocery store, bought the necessary ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies, and let me say they were scrumptious because they were made with passion. Life is short, why would you ever eat bad food? Tonight I made my first ever gourmet Pub-Style beef burger by grinding my own burger meat. So thrilled at the tasty outcome I had to jump onto my laptop to share the details of my experience.

I own a KitchenAid stand mixer and had a five year curiosity to purchase the meat grinder attachment, but not until I saw an episode of 'Cook's Country Test Kitchen' on the proper meat grinding technique did I dive in to make my $50.00 purchase of the KitchenAid grinder attachment

Friday, March 8, 2013

Weekend In Los Angeles #TLLBLND

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend three days in Los Angeles. My husband had scheduled a business meeting for a Friday and asked if I would like to make a long weekend out of it? Sure, why not. As a SF Bay Area girl born and raised I had some doubts as to how enjoyable a trip this would become. Los Angeles is surrounded by many cliches regarding its people and lifestyle, I know you've heard them all: silicone-laden, phoney, trendy, drugs, fashion desert, etc. I have to admit with a little shame in my prior beliefs that my weekend was completely enjoyable. So inspired was I in the retelling of my weekend stories that two co-workers and one cashier at my local market have penciled in some of the details of my trip to discover on their own.

It begins with a vibrant boutique hotel 'Shade' in Manhattan Beach (click video)  5 miles from Los Angeles International Airport and 3 blocks from the beach. Only 38 well appointed rooms with Cyclone fireplace, spa bathtub for two under ever-changing colored lights, lounge in the sun  on their Skydeck with large Jacuzzi  complimentary wi-fi, seasonally fresh breakfast and bicycles to ride around the village for the day. Saturday night we visited their Zinc bar for a before dinner cocktail. My martini was served in a glass made of ice, refreshing does not begin to describe the unique experience on my lips.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fashion Highlights Spring-Summer 2013 #TLLBLND

It is almost the budding of Spring and another fashion season. Here are the the main highlights of what you should be wearing this season, or at very least an education enough to be conversational.


Braids for warmer months is an obvious choice, this season roll them up to create a textured bun, or weave back and forth like a southern garden trellis, add a few fresh flowers and voila a Garden of Eden and very youth making.

Wedges have been coming up through the ranks that past two seasons and this season they are practically a requirement. Wedges are no longer limited to hemp braided espadrilles anymore, a world of designs and interpretations are represented as closed clog, traditional English tassels, open toe sandals, ankle straps, funky and heel-less. Super-Pointy pumps with a metal toe caps have also been seen kicking it up..don't get her mad, you could really get injured.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Food, Eating and Xtreme Eating- #TLLBLND

I am becoming more self aware of what foods I eat. I choose to eat healthier. I do not have a weight problem, never have. I do enjoy the occasional drive-through for a quick fast-food fix but today I look at my parents in their 80's which prompted me to consider my life and a wish to be  lucky enough to live that long untethered by debilitating old age; complaining about pain in my everyday conversations, a collection of prescription bottles on my night stand and kitchen cupboard, limited mobility, etc. I want to give my mind and body every chance to live my twilight years travelling and visiting friends and family, without an oxygen suitcase on rollers or a chaperon to simply walk me to the loo.

Big city living is not conducive to healthy food shopping. In the inner cities residents living within the confines of public transportation only have daily access to "neighborhood corner markets". This is a euphemism all too often for a liquor store with a few apples and lemons sold out of a box shoved in the corner.