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San Antonio with Nasir and Jessica

Last weekend, Jessica and I flew over from Seattle to San Antonio, Texas to visit some of Jessica’s relatives. We were set to stay for a week. Since it was the first time I’d ever been to San Antonio – and I really try to make the most out of wherever I go. So, I decided to make this trip as epic as possible by looking for the best places to go out, eat, sight see, and most importantly, have a really good time.

Six Flags

Iron Rattler

Iron Rattler

I’m the type of guy who likes a good adrenaline rush, so Six Flags Fiesta Texas was definitely number one on my list of things to do in San Antonio. But first – breakfast. We headed down over to Magnolia Pancake house, and I ordered their Bacon Pancakes. The pancake batter had bacon chunks, and that was enough to make me happy. Jessica ordered the Eggs Benedict, and the hollandaise sauce on them was just the right consistency. I ended up having a couple bites of Jessica’s and she had some of mine. Thumbs up for Magnolia Pancake house!

So we got to Six Flags, and we rode all the rides we possibly could. The Iron Rattler literally rattled my bones, and I felt my soul leave my body with the Poltergeist. Jessica didn’t want to ride on the bigger coasters, so she stuck to the Bugs’ White Water Rapids and Crow’s Nest. We both had a blast!

All For Sight-Seeing

The next day, we decided to go biking down the Mission Trail. The landscape was beautiful. Though we’re both avid hikers, we thought bikes would get us there faster. The trail starts at the Alamo and goes as far as nine miles. You can stop and visit the missions if you like, as we went down for a while just to have a look. It was pretty hot, but we had enough water to fuel us enough to make it through, and at the same time enjoy the historical sights.

Biking on the Trail

Biking on the Trail

Jessica and I were pretty tired by the late afternoon, so I wanted to take her out to a nice restaurant and just relax with her. I took her to Fig Tree Restaurant, and thought she’d appreciate the simple elegance of the restaurant. She did! We ordered Avocado stuffed with Shrimp Louis for starters, for entrees I got the Rib Eye, Jessica got the Duck Breast, and finished it off with some Baked Alaska. Everything was sublime, from the cozy ambiance of the restaurant, to the service. We’d definitely go back!

Last Stop

Before going back home, we made sure to visit the Sisters and Grimm Candlelight Ghost Tours. You learn a lot from Eric, the tour guide, as he tells you all about the history of San Antonio; creepy tales about its previous inhabitants. I shook the spook off later on that night by watching an NFL game at The Friendly Spot, which was also a pretty good bar. It was, overall, an epic weekend – and I can’t wait ‘til the next time Jessica has to visit her relatives again.

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Atlanta is Amazing by Jess

Amazing Atlanta

When people think about exploring the different parts of the U.S., the first cities that come to mind are big names; Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, to name a few. But there are so many other parts of the U.S. that are rich with culture, beauty, and history, but are overlooked by people who want to be dazzled by the hustle and bustle of these famous busy cities. So when I told my friends I wanted to discover the sights and sounds of Atlanta, they asked me – “why?”

I asked them, “why not?”

And so I went with Nasir – who is a history buff himself, and I, a nature lover. Needless to say, the city matched our interests, and we had the grandest time! Here is why Atlanta is now one of my most favorite cities.

I Love Trees

Atlanta’s lush greenery scored it extra awesome points for me. In fact, they call Atlanta a “city in a forest” because of how many trees inhabit the area. There’s just something about the way the warm streaks of sunlight go through the array of leaves that is so restful and comforting that automatically made me feel at home! I particularly loved the Stone Mountain theme Park, where you can take the summit skyride all the way to the top and have a gorgeous view of Atlanta city.

History Everywhere

Because Atlanta was part of the civil war (it was actually created because of an intersection between two railroads), it has so much to offer in terms of history. One museum I’d recommend everyone to visit is the Atlanta History Center, which boasts of having one of the most extensive collections of civil war memorabilia across the country. Make sure that you allot enough time when you tour to see the houses that they recommend visiting, such as the Swan House and the Margaret Mitchell House. My favorite was definitely Margaret Mitchell’s house, being a fan of the movie Gone With the Wind!

Home of Big Companies

Because CNN’s global headquarters are found in Atlanta, you can take a tour of their set, and see how one of the biggest media industries does its job! Aside from CNN, you may also take a tour of The World of Coca Cola. Admission is around $17 per person, and you can have all the coke you want towards the end of the tour. If you’re a Coca-Cola fan, this is a definite must.

“City Too Busy to Hate”

While the city has roots as deep as the early 1800’s, much of the progression towards equality for black and white races was formed in this city, deeming it the “city too busy to hate.” Interestingly enough, Martin Luther King was also born in Atlanta, and his house is a national historic site you can visit, and bring your own children to, to teach them about how he fought for human rights.

Good Food

To top off the whole experience, we had some seafood at The Optimist – and it was the fried Oysters I’ve ever had in my life. Definitely worth flying back to Atlanta for, and repeating our entire experience!

 

Spring in New York City Part 1

New York is one of my favorite cities in America, especially in the spring. The amount of diversity in the city is nothing I have ever seen before. Los Angeles and San Francisco have ethnic enclaves for food, culture, and entertainment, but New York blows both of them out of the water.

We took the 7 train from Manhattan and rode it all the way to the end of the line in Queens. When we got out of the subway, it didn’t look anything like the place we started from. Manhattan can be a bit posh and put together, Flushing was the opposite, but very charming and very exciting. Visiting Flushing, New York was almost like visiting another country. The buildings were old, the signs were only in Chinese, and the food was amazingly authentic and real. We stopped by at a small hole in the wall restaurant that had 6 small tables and a husband and wife team that made hand pulled noodles and handmade dumplings/wontons. The place is called White Bear for those interested.

We then stopped by to get real Chinese crepes. After seeing the video below on Youtube, I made it my mission to try one of these delectable street treats. The lady that made it was really sweet and she offered me extra hot sauce, which I gladly accepted. I didn’t get the name of the place, but I will make an update when I go back later this week.

 

Superbowl Hangover

So, it’s taken me a few months to digest the horrible play at the end of the Superbowl. I am still not happy about it.

 

Superbowl Sunday

Seahawks

Seahawks

As everyone and their mother knows, the Seahawks are back in the Superbowl. I am ecstatic that my team is back in the big game, but thrilled that they face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. As a football fan outside of Massachusetts, I’m sure you understand the strong negative feelings that I have for the Pats and their coaching staff. I want Russell Wilson to cement his name as one of the best in the league as he beats Brady and Bill in the biggest game of the year.

Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson

I’m also very excited to see Marshawn “Beastmode” Lynch get another ring and silence the critics. I feel like the league, yes you Mr. Goodell, wants people to have a negative view of Marshawn. They fined him for his crotch grab celebration, but they are hypocritically selling that image to make money for the league. Why would you fine someone for an action, yet condone it by selling it for a profit? I love football, but the NFL doesn’t make a lot of sense sometimes.

Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch

Pete Carroll looks like he will be continuing his winning legacy this Sunday. Multiple college championships with perennial powerhouse, USC, and a potential repeat Superbowl win.

I’ve got my money on the Seahawks this Sunday and I think it will be easiest hundred bucks I make all year. Nasir Shakouri’s prediction: 35 – 17 Seahawks.

CES 2015 in Las Vegas

Is anyone at CES this year? It looks like its going to be an amazing event. Our company got an exclusive sneak peek last night and one of the most intriguing things I saw was that Dish will be offering online streaming of sports games. This may be a game changer and the final dagger in the back for the cable companies. I really hate Comcast and Time Warner. The endless hours on the phone with “customer service” representatives and circular conversations are finally coming to an end. The Dish Sling TV will be offered at $20 a month for a batch of network channels including ESPN. Finally, a cable service that understands the needs of our generation. No one likes cable and everyone wants to unplug. Now, we have an option!

Ok, rant about cable companies over.

SLS Las Vegas

SLS Las Vegas

We are currently staying at the SLS Hotel on the strip, next to the Stratosphere. The Yelp reviews are pretty horrendous for a new Vegas strip resort. I don’t think I would have ever imagined staying anywhere near the Stratosphere hotel, but here we are. The SLS is pretty cool in an LA hipster chic way. The decorations are pretty modern and hip, but it just seems like they put slathered on a new coat of paint to the old Sahara. Jess isnt’ impressed. Also, the wifi connection is horrible and they tried to stick us in the Story Tower. For the uninformed, the Story Tower is a tiny room with yellow highlights, unfinished ceilings, and a tiny bar sink for a bathroom sink. We were horrified when we were first introduced to the room. The bellman asked us how we liked it and we gave him a passive aggressive “ummmmmm”. At least he was cool and moved us into the World Tower. The wifi still sucks, but at least we have a real room now. The rates for the SLS are ridiculous for what it is. The amenities are meh at best, and the casino is tiny. I guess the inflated CES room rates are really pumping up the prices. I don’t think I would stay here in the future.

Umami Burger

Umami Burger

On the plus side, the SLS has an Umami Burger. I’ve been to LA a bunch of times, but it took a trip to Las Vegas to check out the famous burger joint. I really liked the pork burger and skinny fries, but I don’t think I would pay $20 for this in the future. I guess it was nice eating a good burger and playing video poker.

I am looking forward to the next couple days of CES. I will update with any cool new gadgets I see.

 

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Eating Time of the Year!

Our trip to Los Angeles was amazing. I can’t talk about the weather enough. The days walking around in flip flops in November were awesome! We made a couple more trips to Gilbert’s in Santa Monica before we left. The Super Mule Burrito kept calling my name like a siren. One of the servers, Antonio, remembered us on our 3rd trip there and even asked if I was getting the Super Mule again. Needless to say, I said yes and got another humongous burrito for myself. We will be coming back to Los Angeles in February for a wedding, so it looks like I won’t be away for too long before I can stuff my face with more burritos. I thought I took more pictures, but it looks like they were deleted on accident. Sad face.

Thanksgiving was another day for us to pig out and gorge ourselves with cheat meals all day. Our Friendsgiving started with wonderful weather and ended with a fully belly and a sleepy girlfriend. Our friend Anne and her husband Pete hosted Friendsgiving and had the most epic prime rib roast, turkey, ham, and all the fixings. I must have gone up to get food at least 4 times before the night was over. Good food, good wine, and good company equals a great time. I miss my momma’s home cooking, but eating traditional American Thanksgiving food is really an awesome experience that everyone should get to try. I was very thankful for the friends and family that were around to enjoy this bountiful meal.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Look at that spread! #thanksgiving #friendsgiving

We experienced rain in Southern California. People were saying that we were lucky because it has rained 3 times in 2014 and we got to experience it. They were talking about how hard it was raining and how cold it was, but it really wasn’t that bad compared to home in December. The rain didn’t really bother me and it was nice to see a variety of California weather so we know what we are getting into if we decide to move to Los Angeles. I have been loading up on Pinterest images for the move and if you have any home decor suggestions, please send them my way! They say home is where the heart is and Los Angeles is kinda taking over my heart… By the way, we also got lucky enough to see the elusive Los Angeles rainbow while driving down the 405 freeway. Another thankful event in 2014.

Rainbow on the 405

Rainbow on the 405

I hope everyone had a lovely and filling Thanksgiving holiday. I know that Jess and I ate our fill and then some. Time to diet when we get back home? I think so! Or not.

 

 

Eating in Los Angeles with Nasir Shakouri

The first leg of our trip to Los Angeles has officially started! Nasir and I can’t stop talking about this weather and I kinda feel like a jerk walking around talking to strangers about this great weather. 75 degrees in NOVEMBER?! This feels unreal to a native of rainy and oftentimes cold Seattle. I don’t like the traffic, but I could definitely get used to the weather and the food.

Jess and Nasir Shakouri @ Sushi Tsujita

Chirashi bowl at Sushi Tsujita

Our first stop was at a sushi restaurant near UCLA called Sushi Tsujita. This restaurant shows four $$$$ signs on Yelp, but we stopped by for lunch and was pleasantly surprised by the relatively low cost for a chirashi bowl. A chirashi bowl with uni and ikura will cost betweent $14 and $18 at most run of the mill sushi spots located in strip malls. The bowl at Sushi Tsujita cost us $15. They only have 15 of these specially priced chirashi bowls a day, so get there early if you want to try it out. The service was impeccable and the decor was fancy. Nasir felt a little under dressed in flip flops and a tank top. Yes, you read that right. We wore flip flops in November. Sushi Tsujita is on our list of restaurants to eat at again before we leave. In case you didn’t know, Jess and Nasir Shakouri love sushi.

There was a really long line at a ramen place down the street with the same name. We will try Tsujita Ramen tomorrow and report on it to everyone. The line yesterday was much too long and Nasir can get quite hangry when he doesn’t eat every 3.5 hours.

Sushi Tsujita

Sushi Tsujita

For dinner, Nasir wanted to check out a Mexican restaurant that is highly reviewed on Yelp. Gilbert’s El Indio Restaurant in Santa Monica looks like an older El Torito family restaurant, but the staff is really attentive and the locals here seem to love it. The first thing I noticed was that the server brought out homemade tortilla chips, salsa, and pickled carrots. I don’t really like eating pickled carrots, but Nasir loves them! The server kept bringing more carrots and salsa, but she didn’t seemed fazed at all. I love restaurants that serve free appetizers like this. Nasir got a Super Mule Burrito and it was huge! The burrito was literally the size of both of my forearms and it was covered in cheese and a green sauce. I don’t know how he did it, but Nasir ate the whole thing and got another round of pickled carrots after. In case you didn’t know, Nasir Shakouri loves burritos. This wasn’t my favorite place, but seeing my man so happy made me feel happy. The atmosphere was fun and relaxed and I loved the old pictures on the walls.

Super Mule Burrito

Super Mule Burrito at Gilbert’s

The trip to LA has been pretty laid back and chill compared to our trip to Boston. We are definitely walking less and driving more because LA is so big. Driving from Santa Monica to Downtown is only 10 or 15 miles, but it took us over an hour in rush hour. I guess when you live here, you learn to stay off the road at certain times. Lesson learned. Now I know why the SNL skit about Californians is so funny. Nasir and I have been here for a couple days and we are already talking about different routes to different parts of the city.

I am looking forward to spending the week in a warm and sunny place with friends and family. Please leave comments below and tell Nasir how great Los Angeles is and why we should move here. Thanks!

Jess and Nasir are Moving!

So Jess and I are looking for a place to live in Los Angeles, Portland, or San Francisco. Since both of us can work remotely, we are looking to move out of Seattle for a couple years before we get married and have kids. Our decision will be based on four major factors; price, weather, access to good live music, and proximity to awesome food. I know that all three cities offer everything in this list, so we are going to visit each one in the coming weeks to get a real feel for the city.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

First on the list is Los Angeles. Los Angeles seems a lot different from Seattle and from the way the media portrays the city, it looks a little superficial and full of girls with plastic surgery. I’m not complaining about the plastic surgery, but it does seem a little foreign to me and I am kind of hesitant. Jess thinks I would do well in LA because I love the beach and I love comedy clubs (for those that don’t know, Los Angeles has a pretty cool comedy scene). The housing costs seem to be very diverse in Los Angeles. There are some areas that look really affordable and others that look ridiculously expensive. If we move to Los Angeles, I want to take full advantage of living in a city that is warm year round and live near the beach. The housing in the beach cities seem more expensive than the rent we are paying in Seattle, but cest la vie. I will update my next post with our adventures in Los Angeles.

San Francisco

San Francisco

The second city we will be visiting is San Francisco. I’ve visited San Francisco and I loved it. The restaurants are legendary and the nightlife was pretty fun. San Francisco seems a lot more laid back than Los Angeles and the people here don’t take themselves as seriously as their LA counterparts. The biggest problem is that the cost of living in San Francisco is higher than LA and Portland. I want to live in a fun city with good food, but I don’t want to not experience the city because I can’t afford anything other than housing. The weather is brisk and can be a bit colder in the winter, compared to LA, but it’s probably not much colder than Seattle. Jess loves Emeryville, a small city on the other side of the Bay Bridge. The housing looks more affordable on the East Bay and it is a quick BART ride to the city. San Francisco looks inviting and I can’t wait to visit again with Jess. I will post an update from San Francisco after our trip.

Portland

Portland

Portland is the last city on the list, but it’s definitely not the least. Jess and I have been to Portland many times in the last few years. We love how laid back the city is and the food culture is amazing. The only thing that is holding us back about Portland is that we have been there many times and even spent last summer there. Part of the reason that we are moving is so that we can experience a new city and a new way of life for a few years. Portland just seems like a home away from home and this will be our last stop on our search for a new hometown. Wish us luck and safe travels, because this is going to be an exciting time!

We have already started pinning apartment decor ideas on Pinterest. Check it out and send me some cool pins if you come across any.

 

Last Day in Boston

Dogs near the Esplanade

Dogs near the Esplanade

Our last day in Boston, we headed over to the Esplanade next to the Charles River, near Newbury Street. It was a pleasant walk through a corridor of parks with falling leaves. Jess and I saw a man walking 3 dogs and the dogs started rushing to this trash can next to a bench. Turns out the little trash can is filled with dog treats and the dogs knew it. It was such a funny site to see!

Fearless squirrel

Fearless squirrel

We finally got to the Esplanade and it was such a treat. The squirrels were running around collecting acorns and we saw a couple hawks eyeing the squirrels from a tree. The squirrels were not scared by humans at all. I literally walked up really close to this squirrel and took a picture without using zoom. It was pretty cool seeing all this wildlife in the middle of a major metropolitan area.

The Esplanade was probably my favorite spot in Boston. Jess was more excited about the restaurants, but she still had fun watching me chase squirrels and hand feeding them acorns. I don’t think our trip would have been complete without a trip to the Esplanade.

James Hook Lobsters

James Hook Lobsters

After our walk down the Esplanade we decided to eat at James Hook and Co. for our final lobster meal in Boston. The prices were a bit higher than Alive and Kicking, but still a great deal. Jess got the lobster roll and I got some lobster bisque and fresh tuna sashimi that the guys cut for us. I tried to convince Jess to take some lobsters back to Seattle, but she didn’t want to add to our already overloaded carry on bags. Good call Jess! Until next time, here’s a picture of our last meal in Boston.

 

Lobster Roll and Lobster Bisque

Lobster Roll and Lobster Bisque