Friday, December 25, 2015

Latin Inspired Seafood at Sirena in San Diego

This time of year in my work as a school counselor, seniors are thinking ahead to college. Many are worried about leaving their friends behind when considering colleges and universities that are out of town or even out of state. With these worries, I always advise students that although it's nice to have lots of friends, the real important friends will still be your friends years after high school, whether or not they go away for college.

Fast forward 20 years, I find myself thinking back to when I was a senior in high school, having those same fears and worries about losing my friends. Today, I can count my closest friends on one hand. We try to schedule dinner dates every few months, most especially during birthdays and at the end of the year during the holidays. These dinner dates are special - we reminisce with funny stories growing up, we share mommy and wifey stories, and squeeze in a bit of innocent gossip here and there!

This past last week, we had the chance to visit Sirena Gourmet Latin Seafood Restaurant in Little Italy in San Diego for our holiday dinner date. It was such a treat to try a variety of the menu items to satisfy our tummies while we enjoyed each other's company.

We all studied the menu before hand but we had a hard time deciding on the appetizers since they all sounded so delicious. Sirena's host Michael suggested a few items on the menu for us to try. 

Here are our top 8 eats we loved at Sirena Gourmet Latin Seafood Restaurant: 

1) The appetizer Empanadas with crab and cream cheese was creamy, yummy goodness in a fluffy crust. They were very filling so be conservative when wanting to eat an entire empanada. You want to have space in your tummy for the other yummy goodies to enjoy!

2) The Seafood Wings appetizer with crab claws, chili sauce, and habanero parsley aioli was another hearty appetizer. I enjoyed the savory, spicy and sweet, crunchy flavors and textures of this dish.

3) The fusion of flavors in the Berry Good Ceviche brought a smile to my face. The yellowtail, shrimp, scallops, crab meat, pomegranate, kumquat, red jalapeno, cilantro, lime, blackberries, and red onion brought a unique combination of flavors to my palate. I liked the crunch of the pomegranate seeds and the tart blueberries, along with all the citrus flavors fused with the seafood. I love ceviche and this dish is a great twist to one of my favorite dishes. Every Wednesday, Sirena has specials on a variety of special ceviche dishes made just for day. I look forward to future visits on Wednesday to try the other awesome ceviche fusions.

4) The Scallops entree is presented with braised lima beans, chorizo, apple puree, tiny roots, parsley root aioli, and bone marrow butter. The saltiness of the roasted chorizo was a perfect compliment to the creamy bone marrow butter surrounding the generous helping of scallops.

5) The Chicken Seco entree has an airline chicken which was a boneless chicken breast with the drumette attached, Peruvian seco sauce, quinoa risotto, and an Argentinian criolla sauce. I love risotto so I gravitated towards this dish. The risotto was prepared drier than the usual Italian risotto, but was a great compliment to the juicy and moist chicken. The risotto soaked up the juices of the chicken to create a wonderful blend of Latin flavors.

6) The Flat Iron entree was a hearty steak with an onion ashes crust, corn tamal, cherry tomato relish, huitlacoche sauce. The steak was cooked medium rare which gave it a nice tender, juicy consistency. The steak, with it's accompanied flavors of corn and onion, really gave the dish a Latin flare. Super delish and mouth watering! It was more than we could eat - this can be a meal to share if you've had a few of the appetizers. 

7) We had the Coyota mexican pastry for dessert. The warm piloncillo, brown sugary yumminess, inside the warm doughy pastry was a pleasant treat topped with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberry, and fresh mango.

8) The other dessert we enjoyed was the White Chocolate which was white chocolate mousse topped with chocolate sauce, blueberries, and white wine gelée. The mousse had the consistency of hard tofu but the flavors of sweet white chocolate. I really liked the gelée which was wine infused gelatin. I could have eaten an entire bowl of the gelée alone!

We had a wonderful evening at Sirena. Nothing beats great company and delicious eats! Thanks to manager Michael and the entire staff at Sirena for an excellent experience!

Sirena Gourmet Latin Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer: My guests and I received complimentary meals in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What to Expect at LA Cookie Con!

Who loves cookies, cakes, and all things sweet? I do!
Red Velvet Ice Cream on a Red Velvet Cone =) 
My friend Joyce and I had so much fun at the Cupcake Fair and Expo a few months ago, we knew we had to check out LA Cookie Con!

What's the LA Cookie Con?
It's only the West Coast's BIGGEST baking and pastry convention! I'm giddy with anticipation!

What can you expect to see, and eat, at LA Cookie Con?
  • Delicious Samples 
  • Celebrity Appearances
  • Decorating Competitions and Retailers
  • Kids Zone
  • Baking Workshops and Demos
Here is a sample of the dozens of exhibitors:

Velvet Rope Bakeshop - bite-sized cake truffles and unforgettably delicious cookies.

Unbaked Bar: A Cookie Dough Bar

Sugar Hustle - Apparel and Accessories designs inspired by Chefs, Bakers, and Foodies alike

Last year, tickets were sold out! Buy your tickets today!

I'll see you at the LA Cookie Con sweeties!!

Disclaimer: I received complimentary entries to the LA Cookie Con in exchange for this blog post. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

#FoodieFriday - Tender Greens Mission Valley >>> NOW OPEN

I've been a fan of Tender Greens since it's first location opened in San Diego in 2008. Back then, I was a new mom looking for healthy meals to help me lose my baby pounds. Tender Greens was a welcomed alternative to fast food!

Now that Tender Greens' 4th location in Mission Valley is now open, the fresh and healthy dishes are even more easily accessible!

My top five favorites at Tender Greens are:

1) The salted white chocolate cookies are addicting! The saltiness was a nice compliment to the sweetness of the cookies. 

2) The backyard marinated steak as a hot plate with the mashed potatoes and spinach salad is a nice hearty meal that satisfies when I'm really hungry. The steak is cooked medium rare and seasoned in an herb marinade that's perfect . The creamy mashed potatoes just melts in your mouth. 

3) The roasted tomato soup with ciabatta croutons and basil oil is great for a cold day. I always ask for extra toasted bread on the side to dip and soak up this delicious soup.

4) The kids meal, Little Big Plate, with the fried chicken, side salad, and potatoes are a favorite of my boys. My boys love fried chicken and can be picky about how it's prepared. At Tender Greens, my boys always say "I love the fried chicken here!" 

5) I love the roasted brussel sprouts! Years ago, this was the first restaurant I had tried roasted brussel sprouts and I fell in love! I have a Tender Greens insider who shared the recipe with me (wink, wink) so I've learned how to bring one of Tender Greens yummies home!

What I appreciate the most about Tender Greens, is that everything they serve comes from the best, quality ingredients! The beef comes from grain-fed hormone/antibiotic free cows, the chickens are raised on the range in Northern California, not in cages, and the tuna is sustainably line caught from the Pacific.

Hope to bump into you at one of the San Diego locations at Tender Greens!

San Diego Locations:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Amazing Experience at the Moscow Ballet's Nutcracker!

Wide-eyed and at the front of our seats! My boys and I completely enjoyed our first experience watching the Nutcracker Ballet last night at the Copley Symphony Hall in Downtown San Diego. It was a treat to have this experience with the renowned Moscow Ballet! The entire performance was awesome!

Taken right before the performance at the Copley Symphony Hall
Our balcony seats waiting for the ballet to begin.

As a young girl, I dreamed of being a ballerina as many do.  They were pretty, graceful, and had cute tutus to twirl around in. At the Moscow Ballet last night, I felt like a little girl again. I found myself at the front of my seat, smiling with delight at the dancers crossed the stage. I even caught myself a few times dancing a bit in my seat, mimicking the moves of the ballerinas. I have to admit, I was enjoying every moment!

The ballerinas were a sight to see. I was in awe at how graceful they were, how physically strong they have to be to hold their dance positions, and at their endurance to do repetitions of very physically demanding dance moves. The costumes were beautiful. I loved the sparkle and shine - it was all I dreamed ballerinas would be!

We met one of the ballerinas after the show. She was so petite but on stage they seem so majestic!

We have a great special offer for our readers to enjoy the last few shows of the seasons touring around the United States. Right now you can receive the deepest discount of the season (up to $30 OFF!) with this exclusive PROMO CODE for US Family Guide Readers: CODE: JOY 


The production includes:
  • over 200 romantic costumes and 10' tall playful animal puppets
  • shimmering colorful, backdrops splashed with 3-D effects
  • life-sized Matrushka (Nesting) Dolls and a puppet show for shadowing the Nutcracker Story at the opening Christmas Party. 
All ages feel the spirit of the season at Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker! Families love Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker! It's the ultimate holiday tradition and creates memories for a lifetime.

Happy Holidays to All of Our Readers!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tea Time at Tea Gallerie in San Diego

Friends and tea make a sweet combination! I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with my friends from the San Diego Filipino Blogger Network (SDFBN) to rediscover my love of tea and support a local, Filipino owned, small business 

Mommy members of SDFBN with Maria Harrison, owner of Tea Gallerie
Tea Gallerie, located in San Diego, California, carries teas from all over the world. They carry traditional teas and blends, but also offer unique and distinct teas to please any and all tea lovers, young and old.

Tea Gallerie really is a "gallery". They have wall-to-wall containers of all of teas where you can open them and smell the tea. The tea gallery is organized by type of tea. Oolong on one side, green, white, chai, and so on to the other side of the gallery. I found myself starting on one side and smelling my way over to the other side of the tea gallery.

Two of the teas we sampled.
Thanks for the awesome picture of the Tea Gallerie
During our tea tasting experience, Maria shared some tips on how to best enjoy your tea:

1) When choosing a tea, it's good to smell the tea. The smell of the tea parallels the tea's flavor. So, if you like the smell, you like the tea!

2) For those who are sensitive to caffeine, they can still enjoy teas that contain caffeine like black and green teas. To minimize the amount of caffeine in the tea, you can "flash steep" the tea for 15-20 seconds. In this way, you can still enjoy the flavor of the tea without all the caffeine.

3) Water temperature and steeping time varies for each type of tea. All of Tea Gallerie's teas come with water temperature and steeping time details.

4) You can steep your tea ahead of time and store in your refrigerator for a few days. You can enjoy it iced or re-warm in the microwave to enjoy.

Maria explaining the different teas of the tasting experience 
Here Maria is using a bottom dispensing tea infuser teapot to steep Hibiscus Rose Fruit Tea. This tea was sweet without any additional sweetener. The hibiscus, rose, vanilla, and rooibos was a pleasant blend that I know my kids would enjoy! This tea tasted lots like the Mexican jamaica drink.

We also sampled the Masala Chai prepared with coconut milk and raw Temecula Orange Blossom Honey, as well as the Carmelized Apple tea which reminded me of warm apple cider. Chatting with the ladies and sipping all the wonderful teas made for a very relaxing afternoon!

Tea Gallerie is also available to host private events like birthday parties or corporate events. Maria will work with you to create the best tea tasting experience for you and your guests.

Tea Gallerie also hosts community events such as the upcoming Holiday Social, as well as a Kundalini yoga and vibrational sound healing workshop.

Visit for details on store location and hours. 

Don't forget to follow via social media too:

Tea Gallerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary tea tasking in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Experience a Philippine Christmas in San Diego

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Come and experience a Filipino Christmas at PASACAT's annual Parol Festival right here in San Diego!

Enjoy a multi-generational event centered around the Parol Star Lantern. What is a 'parol'? It is an star-shaped Christmas lantern from the Philippines. It is traditionally made out of bamboo and paper and comes in various sizes and shapes, but most are made in a star pattern which symbolizes the Star Of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings to the manger of baby Jesus. It also symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and the Filipinos' hope and goodwill during the Christmas season.

Experience a taste of the Philippines with food, dance, music, and exhibits! Featuring performances by PASACAT, The Filharmonic, Mariachi Divinas, Marvin Calderon Jr., Teye Sa Thiosanne, Three Treasures Cultural Arts Society - Lion Dancers and more! It's fun for the entire family!

The 18th annual PASACAT Parol Festival will be on December 12, from 1-5PM.  Discounted tickets may be purchased on-line at Ticket includes entertainment and traditional Filipino food. Use promo code FILBLOG for discounted tickets. 

For more details go to for sponsor and vendor opportunities as well as information on the Parol Making Contest! 

Follow PASACAT on Social Media:

Monday, December 7, 2015

Long Hair Don't Care - No Frizz with Shielo Hair Products

Since I've been keeping my long, I have been trying different products to help minimize dryness and split ends. There are parts of my hair that easily tangle as well and finding products to help solve my hair problems has not been easy! All of the drug store products I've used haven't done the job and I'm too cheap to invest in a pricier product that "might" help.

I've finally found a product that works to me long, wavy hair: Shielo Hair's Restoration Oil. 

This premium hair oil has restored my hair from damage. The oil has added shine and smoothness to my wavy hair also. I love how it speeds up drying time by 40% and p from heat styling. . Because my hair is so thick, it takes a long time to dry, even with a hair dryer. Its color enhancement properties last long term, and it increases hair manageability and removes frizz. 

Shielo's Restoration Oil contains a unique combination of exotic oils from the amazon region in South America, including Brazilian Passionfruit,Brazil Nut, and Buriti oils. These ingredients have been used throughout history to restore and condition hair since they contain essential beneficial lipids. Fused together, they create a tri-fold complex of hair oil rich in vitamins and fatty acids which are required to make healthy and shiny hair. I just love it!

After shampooing and conditioning, I simply massage one pump into my damp hair. I also use the oil on my dry hair for removing frizz and adding shine. It lasts all day. The oil enhances the natural wave in my hair. I've even received lots of compliments on my hair since I've started using the product!

Shielo has combined ancient philosophies with modern innovations to provide a complete line of organic hair shampoos, conditioners, styling and skin care products. We only use wheat protein foam boosters, plant-derived Keratin protein and the most sophisticated plant ingredients for the best results. Through tough testing standards, our ingredients are reviewed and authenticated to ensure quality. None of our products contain parabens or formaldehyde preservatives.

Visit for their entire line of hair products!

Be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook also for special deals and promotions!

Disclaimer: I received a sample of Shielo's Restoration Oil in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are mine. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

College T-Shirt Drive for Sweetwater High School

Hello all - An English teacher at the school I am working at is embarking on a grand task and she's asking for our assistance.

She is co-advisor for this year's freshman class (Class of 2019) and she would like to get a college t-shirt for every freshman that they could then wear for the next four years (or however long they last!). While we could do a fundraiser to get 400 shirts from San Diego State (our local university), we would really like to get shirts from a HUGE variety of colleges and universities around this great country.

So here is our plea: If you are so inclined could you please send a t-shirt from your alma mater to Kris Elam c/o Sweetwater High School 2900 Highland Avenue, National City, CA 91950. All sizes are welcome as these are 14 and 15 year olds, so many are "full grown" while others are still awaiting puberty's arrival. If you are ordering a new shirt and would also like to include a small pennant flag please feel free! We are posting them all along the wall of our hallway.

Finally, to make this work we will need to rely on the joys of social media and ask you to share this post!

Thank you all in advance whether it is for sending a shirt or for simply passing this message along to your friends! I know I have friends who went to a wide variety of colleges so I am hoping this will expose my students to the idea that there are colleges out there!

Thanks for your support!

Check all for all the fun I have as a school counselor!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bring Your Family to SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration

Where can you find Shamu, Santa and more than one million glimmering lights this holiday season? WE found it all at SeaWorld, of course!

It’s all part of SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration®, kicking off Nov. 21 and continuing through Jan. 3, 2016. Festivities are included with park admission. The best way to enjoy SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is with a Fun Card. Guests who purchase a 2016 SeaWorld Fun Card can enjoy all of SeaWorld’s Christmas festivities in 2015, plus come back again and again in 2016.

Here’s a detailed look at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration 2015:

NEW – Toys for Tots Drive: Starting Nov. 6 through Dec. 13 SeaWorld San Diego is partnering with the Marine Corps Reserves San Diego Toys for Tots Program to deliver a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters through a new, unwrapped toy at Christmas. Guests can donate a toy (suggested retail value of $10 or more) at SeaWorld and receive a free child single-day admission with a full-paid single-day adult admission. Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity that has been delivering smiles and toys to families since 1948.

NEW – A Sesame Street Christmas: This new show at Mission Bay Theater stars all the favorite Sesame Street friends who come together to share Christmas with Abby, a three-year-old fairy that grew up in Fairyland and is not familiar with the celebration and traditions of the Christmas season. After singing Christmas carols, learning about Santa, reindeer, jingle bells and gift giving, Abby discovers the true meaning of Christmas.

Shamu Christmas Miracles: Thrilling seasonal music rings out as amazing killer whales, gifted trainers and a talented female vocalist share a story of reflection and understanding, of peace and friendship and of the everyday miracles that surround us all year long. Guests will experience the power and beauty of Shamu’s family in this touching holiday favorite.

Dolphin Island Christmas: This Christmas-themed dolphin show celebrates the holidays with a tropical twist. Dolphins and pilot whales perform amazing athletic feats. Dancers get into the spirit as well during this daytime show at Dolphin Stadium.

Clyde and Seamore’s Christmas Special: SeaWorld’s prank-loving pinnipeds Clyde and Seamore have a hilarious holiday time in this Christmas-themed sea lion and otter show.

The Pets Rule Christmas: A specially-themed show featuring the shelter-adopted stars of the park’s Pets Rule! show. As the winter season begins, the pets partake in holiday hijinks.

KyXy Tree Lighting: Starting Nov. 27 and continuing through Dec. 25, KyXy 96.5 will simulcast the nightly SeaWorld’s Christmas Tree of Lights show at 6 p.m. The lights of Southern California’s largest Christmas tree—SeaWorld’s 320-foot Christmas Tree of Lights—will dance in sync with classic holiday songs.

A video posted by @lovelylysa on

Santa’s Christmas Village: This magical, holiday area is brimming with Christmas fun! Guests can mingle with Santa’s elves and Mrs. Claus; enjoy a sweet treat such as a waffle-on-a-stick; and, every day before Christmas get a photo with Santa. Plus, Mrs. Claus invites everyone to join her in a spirited sing-along to help her and the elves light a festive 40-foot animated tree. Rather than wait in line at Santa’s Cottage, guests can check in for a pager that allows families to hold their spot in line, freeing them up to enjoy all the Christmas Village has to offer.

Live Entertainment on Village Stage: Guests will enjoy sipping a cup of hot chocolate while listening to favorite holiday tunes from the Christmas Brass Band and new this year, performances by local community groups.

Santa’s Reindeer: On the lawn in front of Animal Connections, real reindeer from Santa’s workshop will delight guests with up-close and educational encounters. Guests can also get in the spirit by playing reindeer games or hopping on Santa’s sleigh for a magical Christmas photo.

Treat Yourself to Delectable Holiday Delights: Guests will be able to explore and celebrate culinary creations created by SeaWorld’s Executive Chef, Axel Dirolf. Favorites returning to the Christmas Village are waffle-on-a-stick, holiday mac & cheese, fresh baked pies and new this year is mashed potato pizza. Adults will delight in seasonal craft beer cart and adult holiday beverages. Christmas isn’t complete without a delicious turkey dinner and Chef Axel has pulled out all the fixings at Café 64 with SeaWorld’s “All About Turkey” menu featuring sweet chili turkey wings, classic oven roasted carved turkey, home-style holiday turkey pot-pie and more. In addition, holiday menus can be found at all of the park’s signature restaurants. Examples include the turkey cranberry burger at Shipwreck Reef Café and braised lamb shank at Calypso Bay Smokehouse.

Holiday Atmosphere: SeaWorld will be decked out more than ever before, with more than one and a half million low-energy holiday lights and a 40-foot tree with an animated light show. New specialty lighting will be glimmering bright at Explorer’s Reef, welcoming guests inside the park. Outside Pets’ Playhouse, guests will find the Cat’s Christmas Parlor, where the feline stars of Pets Rule! hang out in their own Christmas-themed house. Animal exhibits such as Shark Encounter, Penguin Encounter and Animal Connections get a
splash of holiday spirit with specialty-themed décor inside.

All Christmas Celebration festivities (except for arcade-style games and reserved experiences such as Breakfast With Shamu and Santa) are included with SeaWorld admission.

Visit SeaWorld website for details on tickets and hours of admission! Admission is $89 for ages 10 and older; $83 for ages 3-9; free for under 3. Parking is $16; $11 for motorcycles; $21 for RVs and Up-Close. Those who purchase a 2016 Fun Card can enjoy SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration this year, plus all that SeaWorld has to offer in 2016!

For more details, 

Disclaimer: I received complimentary admissions to SeaWorld San DIego in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are mine. 

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