My Gratitude Journal

The Breakfast Club

Before the lockdown, my friends and I formed a breakfast club. Every month, on the second Sunday of the month, we had breakfast or brunch together. We took turns choosing the restaurant and we were encouraged to be as creative as possible. If you couldn’t make it, no big deal, you can make it to the next month’s brunch. Also, anyone is invited to join. There were usually about 10 of us in attendance every month. Although, sometimes there were more and sometimes there were less.

We started with the letter A. My friend, Alicia, chose Humble Bee in Lake Balboa. A really delicious breakfast spot. It was February 2019 and it was our first brunch get-together. It was raining that Sunday. I remember it being very loud in the restaurant. I ordered the waffles and they were very good. There were about 9 of us that day. We had two birthdays to celebrate that month so I made lemon cupcakes with a Valentine’s day theme. I sprinkled red sprinkles on top and put a heart on top of each one. Valentine’s Day Conversation Heart Cupcakes

My friend Adriana handed out little bottles with messages inside. My message said “Let go of the need to control, Trust…”

For our March brunch, my friend, Adriana, picked out the Tam O’Shanter Pub in Los Angeles. It was the perfect spot for a St. Patrick’s day celebration. She handed out little 4 leaf clover charms. Most of us ordered the corn beef hash.

April’s brunch was at the 1919 Cafe at the Huntington Library in San Marino. We ate outside. It was a beautiful sunny day. Afterwards, we took our customary picture together at the gardens and some of us walked around the grounds.

I wasn’t able to make it to June or July’s brunch. August’s brunch was at The Malibu Cafe in Malibu. It was a hot day but we were all dressed in our pretty sundresses. We ate outside. I ordered the most delicious drink with my waffles. It was called The Lazy River and it was a lavender rosemary gin with lemon.

Afterwards, we walked around, took lots of pictures and found the perfect candles:

In August, we met at a restaurant in Pasadena. I missed September’s get together which wasn’t a brunch but was actually a cruise to Mexico. October’s brunch was at the Village in Woodland Hills. After brunch, we walked around Costco. In November, we met at The Public School 818 in Sherman Oaks. It’s a school themed restaurant. I ordered the waffles. I don’t know if you notice a theme here, but I seem to always order waffles at these brunches.

Finally, it was December and it was my turn. I decided to be creative and although I didn’t pick a fun, new restaurant to try out (I picked Mimi’s Cafe in Northridge), I collaborated with my friend, Adriana and after breakfast, we went to her home which was fully decorated for Christmas to play games, drink wine and have dessert. We were too full from breakfast to have dessert but we did drink a lot of wine. We had two teams and we played Pictionary. My team won. I brought little prizes for the winners. Later, we exchanged our White Elephant gifts. The theme for the White Elephant gifts was that they had to be re-gifted items. I ended up with the coolest Christmas decoration. It was a little Christmas house that lit up.

January’s brunch was actually the most fun out of all the brunches and also the longest. Or at least it seemed like the longest. Everyone had a chance to pick and it was Alicia’s turn for the second time around. Round 2. She picked IKEA in Burbank. I’ve never had breakfast there and it was really fun (and cheap). Afterwards, we all broke off into groups and shopped. The group I was in, who were my closest friends, stayed the longest. I have never in my whole entire life, spent 6 1/2 hours in IKEA. I’m not much of a shopper anymore. I almost had a panic attack (I might be exaggerating) and I guess I could’ve left at anytime since I did drive there separately, but part of me didn’t want to abandon my friends. I think I was feeling claustrophobic. At one point (the point when I almost had a quote-unquote “panic attack”), I though we were almost out of there, but it turned out that there was a whole other section we had to go through. Finally we made it to the lines. After we paid, we ate for a second time, since we got there at 10:00 a.m. to eat breakfast and it was now 4:00 p.m. Good times…

I missed February’s brunch. And in March, I suggested that we postpone due to concerns regarding the coronavirus and not long after that, we were in lockdown.

I really enjoyed all of our brunches together and I look forward to doing it again sometime in the future. Maybe 2021…

So today I am grateful for breakfast, brunch, waffles, messages in little bottles, lucky charms, lemon cupcakes, sun, rain, pretty sundresses, group pictures, trying new things, Costco and 6 1/2 hours at IKEA.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

My Gratitude Journal

October Blessings and Halloween Fun

It’s October. I haven’t been in a writing mood lately but I need to remember to always have gratitude for the little things in life (which often times, end up being the big things). So here is my gratitude list for October:

My family and I did our yearly visit to the Pumpkin Patch.  We fed and pet the farm animals, looked at all the pumpkins and Halloween decorations, and bought a big bag of freshly popped kettle corn. We bought a pumpkin and we carved it.

Pretty baskets

We attended a Halloween party at my friend’s house. I was the big red riding hood and my son was the little bad wolf:


I went to Clifton’s Republic with my friend from Arizona who I haven’t seen in a long time. Clifton’s Republic is a cafeteria and bar in Downtown L.A. It was my friend’s first time there and she really enjoyed it. It was my first time eating breakfast there and it was a lot of fun picking out my breakfast items at the cafeteria. We enjoyed viewing the decorations and  Halloween themed sweets and desserts. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up going back there the following weekend for my birthday.

A patch of pumpkins

At work, we had our annual Harvest Festival. My friends and I dressed up as characters in the animation “Inside Out”. I dressed up as Disgust. We also entered the pumpkin decorating contest and won 3rd place. It was a really fun day.

Today I am grateful for pumpkin patch traditions, Halloween celebrations with friends, trips to DTLA, eating breakfast for the first time at Clifton’s and Halloween themed desserts. Most of all, I am grateful for family and friends.

My Gratitude Journal

Sunday Funday done right: A day trip with friends to Downtown L.A.

My friends and I decided to do Sunday Funday right last weekend and go to Downtown L.A. (DTLA). We thought it would be fun to spend a day exploring. We had a list of spots that we wanted to hit and I think we did a pretty good job of seeing them all. There were three of us and one of us (not me) was a pro at DTLA. She knew how to take the Metro, which stops to take, where to walk and how to get to all the places we wanted to go.

Our day started at 7:50 in the morning. We met at the Metro in NoHo. Our first stop off of the Metro was the Civic Center. Some of the attractions of Civic Center are the Ahmanson Theatre/Mark Taper Forum, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles City Hall, Grand Park, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Broad, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and Little Tokyo. Our purpose of getting off of this stop was to go to Little Tokyo.

It was still very early in the morning, so it was quite peaceful. We walked by the LA Times building and the Central Community LAPD police station. While passing by a Metro Bike Share station where you can rent a bike for $3.50 for 30 minutes, we decided to do it. It took a little bit of coaxing since two of us were on the fence about going bike riding in DTLA ( I was one of them).  But after some discussion, we got talked into it and I am so glad that we did! It ended up being my favorite part of the day. It was around 8:30 in the morning on a Sunday, so it was very calm. There weren’t a lot of people or cars, so our first time riding bikes in DTLA went smoothly. We rode to the Arts District and before our 30 minutes were up, we parked the bikes at one of the bike share stations and decided to walk to Cafe Gratitude to have a delicious and healthy breakfast. I was very grateful for this breakfast. It happened to be my 2nd favorite part of the day.

DTLA Arts district mural, Little Tokyo, LAPD Central Community police station, Cafe Gratitude

After breakfast, we made our way to Little Tokyo. On the way there, we stopped at a bookstore and passed by some really cool restaurants and apartments. There was a lot of public art spray painted on the sidewalk and murals on the side of the buildings that I found very interesting. I wish I had taken more pictures of them but I only took one.

We finally made it to Little Tokyo. We went to the Japanese Village Plaza Mall where we walked around the shops and stopped for mochi ice cream at Mikawaya.  If you don’t know what Mochi ice cream is, it’s ice cream wrapped in sweet sticky rice dough. The traditional flavors are green tea or vanilla. I picked plum wine for my Mochi ice cream flavor since I’ve never had it before. It was delicious! My friends had cookies and cream and coffee. We also went inside a Japanese grocery market. In there, I bought some Japanese candy for my kids. I can’t wait to go back to Little Tokyo to have lunch and do more exploring and shopping. There are so many sushi restaurants to try and a shabu shabu house. We saw people waiting in long lines to eat at the ramen restaurants. We quickly passed by (but didn’t go in) the Japanese American National Museum and the Higashi Hongashi Buddhist Temple. These places, along with the James Irvine Japanese Garden are places I would like to explore further next time I go to Little Tokyo.

Next stop was Pershing Square. Rather than taking the Metro to get there, we decided to walk it.  At Pershing Square you will find Pershing Square park, Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, Jewelry District, Millennium Biltmore Hotel, and the Richard J. Riordan Central Library. Our purpose of walking there was to see Clifton’s Cafeteria, the Central Library and the Last Bookstore.

We stopped at the Bradbury Building which is Downtown’s oldest commercial building (1893). An impressive and very beautiful building made of brick, iron and wood and a really cool ambiance because of the natural lighting coming from the glass ceiling. I liked the bird cage style elevator. You can only explore the lobby area and first stair landing because the rest of the building is still being used for private office space. The steps of the stairs are marble and the railings are iron, so it’s worth it to go up the stairs. I just wish I took better pictures but I guess the pictures wouldn’t do it justice anyway.

The Bradbury Building elevator

We walked through Grand Central Market and saw all the really cool places to eat. It was crowded. There was even a Filipino restaurant, which we are going to try when we go back. We also passed by the Angel’s Flight Railway which leads to the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art).

On our way to The Last Bookstore, we walked through a Farmer’s market. It was getting very hot and we had done a lot of walking by then, so I was a sweaty mess. It didn’t help that the Last Bookstore had no air conditioning (neither did the Grand Central Market), but it didn’t matter because they were both awesome.

The Last Bookstore had a bohemian and vintage vibe which I really enjoyed. It’s interesting to know that it used to be a bank. I can see that with the high ceilings and marble pillars.  Filled with old books, it had a musty, vintage smell that only a book lover would love. I loved it. I enjoyed exploring this place especially the upstairs, which they call the Labyrinth. There were books formed into tunnels, books formed into artwork, magnifying glasses hanging from the ceilings and a really cool vault room filled with horror and sci-fi books. There were some artist’s spaces upstairs also and it was interesting to see what they were working on as well as viewing their finished works of art.

Clifton’s Cafeteria was very cool. It had that 1930’s vibe and I loved exploring it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to eat here. It was actually the plan, but because we had already eaten our spontaneous breakfast at Cafe Gratitude after our spontaneous bike ride, we were still full. So we just explored but we are definitely going back to eat there.

Besides, we wanted to save our tummies for black ice cream. We went to Little Damage where they sell black soft serve ice cream in black ice cream cones. The flavor of the black ice cream is strawberry cheesecake. It’s dyed black with activated charcoal. Ironically, none of us ended up getting black ice cream which was the plan. Instead we got Unicorn Tears (blue ice cream with vanilla birthday cake flavor) and the Salted Coffeve (light salted caramel w/ a hint of coffee). We were lucky. We beat the lines. There weren’t many people there when we arrived. I had heard that the wait time in line is about 45 minutes and luckily, we didn’t experience that. However, we noticed that while we were eating our ice cream, a very long line had formed. We were grateful that we didn’t have to wait so long for our little expensive treat ($6, $7 if you want a black cone).

More walking, sweating and about 15,000 steps later (for me, because I’m short and take small steps) and we made it the Central Library. On the way there, we passed by the Jewelry District and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. We saw that they have afternoon tea there. That sounds like alot of fun.

The Central Library is an awesome library and the best part, it’s air conditioned! A perfect place to end our day after all the walking that we did. We did a little exploring, checked out the exhibit which was “Pintando: the Colors of Education, Art in Textbooks of the Mexican Educational System and admired the art on the ceilings and murals on the walls. After our little tour of the library, we sat down to relax. We ended up sitting for awhile. It was very comfortable. For a minute there, I remembered that we were in the library and realized that we were talking and laughing loudly. I was waiting for a librarian to come up and say “shhhh…”. It never happened. If it did, that would’ve been the icing on the cake for me because I’ve never been shushed by librarian in a library before.

Another walk to the Metro station. This time to take the metro back to the NoHo station so we can go home. The day went smoothly. We were out for 8 1/2 hours so it felt like a work day, but instead of work, we had fun. So much fun. We hit all of the spots we wanted to hit on our list. We never ran out of things to talk about. We had a great time exploring together. Can you believe I took 20,200 steps that day?!? 2 days worth of targeted steps for the day. A world record for me! My friend had taken 15,000 steps. So I’m not sure if my pedometer is broken or if I take little teeny tiny steps because I’m short.

This trip was so historic and so fun and there is still so much left to see in Downtown L.A. Guess what? We’re already planning our next trip, this time with plans to bike DTLA.

Stay tuned…

I am grateful for friends, adventures with friends, bike rides, legs for walking, broken pedometers, metros, old buildings, smelly books, tourists, gratitude food, a bucket list of restaurants we have yet to eat at, mochi ice cream, Japanese candy, expensive soft serve ice cream, air conditioning and invisible librarians.