My Gratitude Journal

High Tea at Madeline Garden Bistro in Pasadena

It’s way-back Wednesday! I’ve been doing some reminiscing about good times spent in the past. I remember the time my best friend from high school and I went to Madeline Garden Bistro in Pasadena for high tea.

We had a favorite tea house that we would frequent often since early 2000. We celebrated many birthdays, bridal and baby showers there. It was called the Gilded Rose Manor and it was located in Granada Hills, CA. When it closed down, we started another tradition of trying out different tea houses for our birthdays. It’s just how we like to celebrate!

Going way back to 2017, my friend and I went to Madeline Garden Bistro in Pasadena to celebrate our birthdays. It is located at 1030 E Green St., Pasadena, CA, 91106. This restaurant has a very European feel to it because of it’s French Italian style décor, cuisine and atmosphere. They serve a champagne brunch, high tea or dinner. They also serve tapas.

We ordered the high tea and it was very different than the usual tea sandwiches,  scones and dessert. This tea offered a soup or salad, a hot tier, a cold tier, scones and dessert.

For my tea, I ordered Earl Grey. That was unusual for me because I usually like to order teas that I haven’t tried before and that have an unusual combination. I still enjoyed it and as usual, I added milk and sugar to my tea. Delicious.

The first course came out and it was the scones with clotted cream and apricot jam.  We’re used to getting that as our second course, so we ended up saving that for later. The second course came out and it was our soup and salad. I chose the tomato soup and my friend chose the ginger butternut squash yam soup.

You say tomato, I say tomato…soup

There are three choices for high tea. There is the Princess Madeline which includes 7 hors d’oeuvre & 2 sweets ($36). There is the Prince Charming which includes 6 hors d’oeuvre & 2 sweets ($33). Lastly, there is the Royal Tier which includes 8 hors d’oeuvre & 3 sweets ($53).  We chose the Royal Tier.

There were two tiers for the hors d’oeuvre. The first tier was a hot tier which included steak, potatoes au gratin, a hot crab salad and shrimp.

the hot tier

We started on the hot tier. The next tier was the cold tier.

so cold

This tier included the tea sandwiches which were a salmon and butter tea sandwich and a cucumber and cream cheese tea sandwich. There was also a caprese salad skewer and a shrimp cocktail. 

Since we saved our scone for later,  we decided it was time to eat it once we finished our hot and cold tiers. The waiter said it was a Christmas scone so it had pieces of dried fruit in it, like a Christmas fruitcake.  It was pretty good.

The dessert tier was next. It was very elegant. It had creme brulee, a macaroon and a chocolate brownie with frosting and peppermint sprinkles on top.

I really enjoyed this experience. I liked the European décor. Our table was set nicely. We sat on elegant couches with cute fluffy pillows. On this day, there was a guitarist playing music in the background. They have very good service and are very friendly and accommodating.  Our Royal Tier afternoon tea came with champagne but our waiter forgot to give it to us. They apologized and gave us a discount on our bill. I think it would have been fun to drink champagne with a high tea. I will try that next time.

I can’t wait to go back to Madeline Garden Bistro. It was a fun experience for afternoon tea. Until then, pinkies up!

Today I am grateful for afternoon tea traditions, birthday celebrations, feeling bougie while sitting on tres chic chairs with fluffy pillows while eating expensive food that still leave you feeling hungry, champagne with afternoon tea, getting a discount on champagne that you weren’t served with your afternoon tea, planning a future champagne and afternoon tea, obsessing on champagne served with afternoon tea, and new experiences and adventures shared and planned with my best friend from high school.

My Gratitude Journal

Flashback Friday: A trip to Shoreditch, London, 2018

It’s flashback Friday! Since we can’t really travel right now, I thought I would reminisce about the time my son and I went to Shoreditch, London in 2018. My daughter was living there at the time and we took 10 days off to visit her. She had just completed her Master’s Degree from King’s College and was working full time remotely for a small company. She was quite busy but we still had some time to galavant around town.

My daughter and son in Shoreditch

We visited my daughter in Shoreditch during the last few days of October, including Halloween through the first week of November. We saw a few little children dressed up for Halloween while walking around with their parents around town. My daughter bought my son a bucket of Halloween candy similar to the kinds we have in America but different because of the names, packaging and brands. I think the only candy I recognized was Milky Way. They were good and before we left London, we stopped at the store to buy more to bring home.

Yummy candy…

Our first few days in Shoreditch were spent walking around (a lot of walking around) and checking out the boutiques and street art. Here are a few samples of the street art that we saw:

We also ate at my daughter’s favorite restaurants, one of them being Nando’s, a South African restaurant. The chicken and sides are so good! We also made a lot of stops to Pret A Manger for coffee, hot chai tea lattes, toasties and crisps. We didn’t want to pay extra to eat in, so we always took it for takeaway and ate and sipped while we walked.

I wanted to do the Big Bus Tour of London. I didn’t get to do it the last time I was in London. My kids weren’t interested in doing it, but they indulged me and we finally went! I got a chance to see the Buckingham Palace again, the London Eye and a few other landmarks. I didn’t get to do the full bus tour around. My daughter saw her favorite clothing store and wanted to stop. We ended up shopping for clothes and didn’t hop back on the Big Bus when we were done because it would take forever to get back to her apartment. We walked it (I told you, lots of walking) instead. I definitely got my 10,000 steps in everyday, if not more.

Another thing we did in London was get a daith piercing. My daughter and I suffer from migraines. We went to the London Migraine clinic to get it done. A daith piercing is a piercing through the smallest fold of cartilage in your ear. Basically, it is done for vagus nerve stimulation. The piercing stimulates the vagus nerve in the ear and helps reduce migraines. The clinician used a special device to locate the vagus nerve. Yes, it hurt. Yes, it was pretty. No, I don’t have it anymore. Unfortunately, the earring fell out of my ear and it was very difficult to put back in. It happened just recently and maybe after the pandemic, if the hole it still there, I will go to the tattoo and piercing shop to get it put back in. Interestingly, the week after it fell out, I had the worst migraine which lasted for the usual three days. It’s been awhile since I had one and I’m not sure if it was coincidental.

We visited Kew Gardens to look at the flowers and while we were there, we had afternoon tea. We also went to Notting Hill to sightsee and had the best charcuterie and pizza. We also visited a spot where farm animals lived, a flower mart and parks… a lot of different parks. They had the best parks in London with really awesome play and climbing equipment. My kids and I had the greatest time playing in the park.

Some art we saw while in the park

This flashback to Shoreditch, London was fun! It’s one of my favorite memories. I hope someday to go back to London. Until then, cheerio!

Today, I am grateful for 2018 trips to London, walking 10,000 steps a day, frequent stops to Pret a Manger, calling chips “crisps”, fries “chips” and hot sandwiches “toasties”, big bus tours cut short but done, eating British candy for Halloween, daith ear piercings that fall out 2 years later, street art, eclectic boutiques, afternoon tea, charcuterie and pizza, and playing in the park with my children.

My Gratitude Journal

“Thankful November” Gratitude List 2020

Being in a constant state of gratitude is a great way to celebrate your blessings. Everyday is Thanksgiving, especially when there is so much to be thankful for, the big things and the little things. So for this thankful November, here is my gratitude list:

  1. A Friday the 13th night dinner: I took my aunt out for dinner to celebrate her birthday. I picked a restaurant close to us called The Odyssey in Granada Hills. The atmosphere and ambience there is great. They did a good job setting up their tables out on the patio and following L.A. County restrictions. There is a firepit and lights strung about. You get a wonderful view of the San Fernando Valley. There is also a skyline boardwalk. The waiter gives you a list of how to practice social distancing while eating out such as wearing your mask when leaving the table. In addition, the waiters are wearing gloves, a mask and a plastic shield around their face. Talk about extra protection. I was very excited to go out and it was my second time this year (since the pandemic started) to go to a restaurant. The first time was on my birthday. The first order of business was to order drinks (or as I like to call them “dranks”). I had a glass of white wine and my aunt ordered a Mai Tai. We also ordered crab cakes for an appetizer. It was delicious, especially with the mustard sauce. This was all on the Happy Hour menu. I love Happy Hour at this restaurant. I noticed on the menu that there was a mini winter squash chicken pot pie. I wanted to get that, but I had already had in my mind to order a burger and fries, which I ended up ordering. I was not disappointed. The burger was delicious and the fries were amazing! It had a little bit of garlic and rosemary on it. Yum. My aunt ordered the roasted chicken and it came with the mini winter squash chicken pot pie. Instead of a pie crust, the chicken pot pie was in a mini pumpkin. It was a beautiful presentation. I was happy that I got to try a little bit of it. Our waiter was great and the staff was so friendly. It was a really fun night.
Thank you, Odyssey. We had fun!

2. A loving and kind grandmother: Unfortunately, the next day around midnight, my grandmother passed away. She was 98 years old. I am grateful to have her as my grandmother. She was a loving, happy, kind, compassionate and strong woman. My favorite memory of her is that every time I saw her, the first thing she would say to me was “I love you”. I will miss her.

3. A Sunday Funday tea and painting party with two of my favorite friends: The next day, I went over to a friend’s house (backyard) to hang out, catch up, drink tea, eat snacks and desserts and paint. It was great seeing them and catching up. We hung out in the backyard (which was beautiful, peaceful and serene), with social distancing and masks in place. It was a little hard to talk with my mask on, it kept falling down as I talked, but it was worth it because I had such a great time catching up with my friends. I made pumpkin muffins with streusel on top Lovable Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping and my friend made food for the gods Food for the Gods, A Filipino Heavenly Treat. We did a paint-a-long together. We painted a very colorful elephant.

My painting is the one on the top right, very bold and bright…

4. I started a book club with my friends: We decided that instead of voting for a book each month to read, we would take turns picking a book. I picked the first book which was “Where’d you go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple. I picked it because my daughter bought the book and read it in one night because it was so good. I also picked it because I’ve been watching “Jane the Virgin” on Netflix and on a few episodes, they plugged that book. I was hoping it was worth the hype. It was published in 2012 so it’s been around for 7 years. Here’s how Goodreads described this book: “When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.” I struggled with the first half, mostly because I had a hard time following the correspondence between people. But once I got to the 2nd half, I was hooked and I couldn’t put it down. Lots of plot twists and I just had to know what happened to Bernadette! New York Times describes this book as “Divinely funny” and it’s true, it’s insanely hilarious. Bernadette is crazy.

5. Getting ready for Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving will look a little different this year for some people. But as long as everyone is safe and healthy, that’s all that matters. I decided to go non-traditional this year (it’s 2020 after all) and we are having tamales, ribs and rotisserie chicken instead of turkey or ham. But I will still make my usual Thanksgiving sides of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and green bean casserole. We will also have pumpkin pie for dessert. It’s a lot of food, but what’s Thanksgiving dinner without leftovers? The whole point of Thanksgiving is to have a week’s worth of leftovers. I am always thankful for that! Cook all day for one day and not have to cook the rest of the week, that’s a plus. Something different this year is that I set up our family Thanksgiving zoom meeting so that we can all still see each other.

6. And finally, Thanksgiving day: I am grateful for a fun and family filled Thanksgiving day. Yes, the family filled part was done virtually but it was one of the best parts and made it all the more memorable. I made the sides the night before, so all I had to do was heat it up in the oven. At the same time, I also heated up the ribs, rotisserie chicken and tamales. Did we miss the turkey? No. Did we miss the ham? Kind of. But the non-traditional main courses were delicious. The family Thanksgiving zoom meeting with my parents, sister and brother was fun. Everybody had a great time saying hi to one another and catching up. It was also fun showing off our puppies and taking a Thanksgiving family picture zoom style.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” —”

― William Arthur Ward

I am grateful for Friday the 13th night dinners, mini pumpkins pretending to be pot pies, elephant painting parties, masks that fall down when I talk, boring books turned good, Thanksgivings 2020 style, Thanksgiving zoom family pictures and most of all, kind and loving grandmothers.

Happy Thanksgiving!