Saturday, April 17, 2010

Flower Fields are in Full Bloom

Flower Fields
Originally uploaded by greenbeangirl74
The hills are alive with the site of ranuncula's in bloom. The Flower Field website is now reporting that everything is full swing for the season. Spring has officially arrived to Southern California

Every year, March through May, the Flower Fields of Carlsbad are open to the public to experience a spectacular display of flowers, featuring ranunculas but also including roses, sweet peas, poinsettias and gardens of many other kinds.

Every weekend there is a new activity from Canon photography workshops, to band, kids activities and arts/crafts. Check the event calendar and make your plans to go.

This year they are also displaying Santa's Playground that used to be at Lake Arrowhead's Santa's Village. Become a kid again as you go through the sweet pea maze or run around the giant mushrooms and Dollhouse.

I can't wait to go back and take some photos and eat the delicious strawberries for sale at the entrance! Yum. I have been several times and it never fails to amaze!

Tix for adults are $10, parking is free!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beautiful Day in Laguna nearly ruined by yahoos.

This was my view for most of the four hours I spent chillin' at the beach on Saturday. It was sunny, warm, peaceful, serene and ideal. I got to watch a toddler play in the sand with his father and grandfather. I saw high school boys, clearly not from CA, try and body surf and only hurt themselves in the process. I saw lovers stroll hand in hand down the beach. At one point we even saw dolphins follicking in the water. It was practically a spiritual moment.

Yes! It was awesome and picture perfect UNTIL two yahoos came and stood right in front of us. WHAT? The beach was nearly empty and these middle-aged men came and stood right in front of us blocking our entire view of everything including the ocean. I mean they were about 10 feet in front of us, that close. Isn't there a rule that if the place is empty you don't go sit or be by the only other person in the area? Isn't that a rule of thumb for being polite in public. It's an American custom. I'm pretty sure.

So WHY? I even asked them why, but they wouldn't turn around and wouldn't answer my question. If you have the entire beach to choose from, go stand elsewhere. Then they were talking so loud we could hear every word they said. Their conversation was inane and ridiculous. It wasn't like they were discussing life and death. The balding guy was upset that his girlfriend killed his buzz when they were bar-hopping by taking too long to decide where they were going next and when she finally decided the next place was too far. Then she had the audacity to keep talking and nearly ruin his night. So apparently that's why he had to ruin my view.

The ocean spoke back. The tide was coming back in and came right up to where they were. They shrieked like little girls and went running because heaven forbid you get wet at the beach. Seriously.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gelato Paradiso - Taste of Italian Heaven in Laguna

Gelato Paradiso
Originally uploaded by greenbeangirl74
A trip to Laguna Beach is not complete until you traverse down the quaint alleyway to Gelato Paradiso.

That's right, there is an actual white-light strewn alley leading you to this sweet lovers paradise. Be transported to another place.

Coming in from the main sidewalk you pass a restaurant and chocolate shop to get to the sweet aroma of freshly-made waffles wafting from the small shop. But don't stop press on towards the gelato, it is worth it.

Made in a time-honored Sicilian way that maximizes flavor, with half the fat and calories of regular ice cream, their web site says! Can it be true? Perhaps, it's from the imported Italian ingredients, they lose calories on the flight over.

That's right, this italian ice-cream chain says that they actually import some of their ingredients straight from Italy to make sure it is done the same way it has been done for centuries. Does it make a difference? I have no idea but it's delicious and the line of people waiting for their tasty treat must agree. Their flavor list is relatively small but you're sure to find something to please you with flavors ranging from chocolate hazelnut, cookies & cream, espresso, dulce de leche, tiramisu to the sorbetos like limone, mango and strawberry.

Now this decadence comes at a price, the medium size (two scoops) will run you about $5. Not as cheap as frozen yogurt but a taste sensation definitely worth the trip. I had lemon sorbeto and italian cream gelato. The sweet and sour were a perfect pair in my mouth. My friend Gina got pistachio and chocolate almond. She was in gelato heaven.

So go tempt your taste buds at Gelato Paradiso.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kaffa! Coffee - Free wifi few outlets!

Originally uploaded by greenbeangirl74
Named the best coffee house in 2008 and 2009 by various OC publications and news outlets. This small coffee house has a lot of hype to live up to.

Located in a, primarily medical, strip mall, parking is ample. When I arrived at 3 p.m. the coffee house was nearly empty. Score. After my trip to Chapman Coffee House I was ready to get some work done. Decorated in black wood wainscoting and yellow walls, filled with local art for sale, Kaffa! feels intimate and cozy.

Employees are friendly and helpful. They are ready to suggest a drink, sandwich or dessert. By 3 p.m. their pastries are pretty picked over, so I opt for another iced coffee. It is steeped for 72 hours in cold water. Wow. That is some strong iced coffee. Good though.

Wifi is password protected, so be sure to ask for it. However, beware, there are few outlets.In fact there is only one they want you to use and it is up front. The one I found in the back is linked to the kitchen circuit and it could be tripped if you use it. Yikes. So if you go, be sure your battery is charged or don't plan on being there long to work.

Aahh happy to be at a place where I can settle in for a bit, or as long as my battery holds.

Too Old Chapman Coffee House?

My coffee and free wifi search of the day takes me to Chapman Coffee House, which is practically on the Chapman University campus, on the corner of Glassell and Walnut. It is also in walking distance of the Orange Circle.

Parking, as is the case in downtown Orange, is a bit hairy. There is 20 minute parking behind the coffee house, but if you plan to do more than take your coffee to go you must fair with street parking. Be careful of the green curbs, which means only 1 hour parking. Usually you can find an empty spot on one of the side streets for longer stays.

With its proximity to the university expect lots of students, seems silly to say, but just be warned. This place is full. There was only one empty table in the place when I arrived at 2 p.m. and this table was no where near an outlet. Instead I opted for the very cute "outdoor living room." While it has no outlet, the wifi is still free, you can enjoy the outdoors, watch people pass by and soak up some sun. It is a perfect place to sit and relax and sip your coffee.

Ah yes, the coffee. They offer the usual coffee house variety but seem to have a special affinity for chai. They have it in every variety - milk shakes, soy, lemonade, strawberryade, etc. This was like Bubba's list of shrimp, but with chai. Insane. I did not try any of those, I went for the iced coffee, which is brewed for 24 hours in cold and purified water. ($2.72 for the large) All I can say is wow, rich. They also offer quite the selection of pastries, even one called the "Strawberry Pastry to die for." Wow. Impressive.

It is interesting to listen to the students talk around me. Some are studying for tests, others are frantically trying to find an internship, others desperate for a date. Aahh your early 20s, all the angst and ridiculousness, when you think you know everything and act accordingly. It was fun to sip my coffee and listen to them wax on about life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

Everything at Chapman Coffee House nice enough, but it doesn't feel like a place I will frequent very often to work. No real reason. Employees nice enough. Coffee decent. Maybe I'm just too old. But it doesn't fit my personality, somehow. Now, I would be back with a friend to share a pastry worth dying for.

Chapman Coffee House

505 N Glassell St. Orange, CA 92867

Open Daily 7am to 10pm

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happily Unfound at The Lost Bean

Since I am unemployed, I am perpetually on the look out for cool coffee shops with free wifi. If coffee or drink refills are free then so much the better.

I did a cursory search on Yelp and found several that I will be frequenting soon! The stop today is The Lost Bean. Located in a very cute plaza on Newport Blvd in Tustin. Beware that all parking spots in front of the cafe are 1 hour or less, some even just 10 minutes. Be sure to park in the back if you plan on partaking of the free wife.

Inside the cafe has a stamped, gray cement floor with warm, dark wood tables, chairs and bar. A bright predominantly yellow wall with the recessed lighting and dim over-table lighting is just right for reading, computer work and conversation. I arrived at 3 p.m. and it was about half full. The wifi is only free with a purchase. It is a secure network, so be sure to ask your barista for the code when you try one of the sandwiches, desserts or drinks.

I tried one of the ice teas on brew for the day, an organic black Hawaiian. It is was great. A black tea with subtle tropical flavors, mainly pineapple. A refreshing blend. I also treated myself to an amazing chocolate croissant. Oh my! The kind barista offered to heat it for me and all of the chocolate melted into the croissant. Heaven. So good. I have to say that the employees are super friendly and conversational unlike Panera or other shops where they just take your order and say next. I get the feeling that if you came here often they would remember what you like.

Other than the really loud conversations happening around me, I am pleased with my trip to The Lost Bean. Granted, it is loud in most coffee shops, but at some the noise all blends together to be a general clatter, here it's a smaller local and individual conversations assault your consciousness.

Regardless, I will be back and will recommend it to others. Also for sale are works from local artists, organic tea offerings and other coffee and tea accouterments.

The Lost Bean
13011 Newport Blvd, Tustin, CA

Monday, April 5, 2010

E Street Cafe a lucky find

E Street Cafe
Originally uploaded by greenbeangirl74
Wrapping up our whirlwind afternoon in Encinitas Nicole and I decided to stop and hydrate up at this cute cafe on the street where our cars were parked, aptly named E Street Cafe.

It is adorable! Warm and cozy with free wifi, Dell workstations for rent, live music at night, delicious pastries and coffee drinks galore. These aren't just your grandma's coffees instead its a specially selected organic, free trade coffee blended and mixed into your favorite drink. Also on hand are a variety of loose leaf teas.

We were there around 1:30 p.m. and the place was busy but not overly crowded. There was also a great mix of people, not just a bunch of loud teenagers. I know that comment makes me sound old, but you know what I'm talking about.

I had an iced coffee that was delicious. They had a bunch of syrups, even in sugar free, to choose from but I went with it straight. Nicole had a Pellegrino and we shared one of the plethora of desserts, a chocolate chip crumb cake. It was great! Prices were about average for a place of its kind.

I know I would definitely go back.