Category Archives: San Francisco Bay Area

SF Sundays – It’s Cold Outside

Happy New Year! Welcome to San Francisco in January. It’s cold! I’m reminded of how cold it can get this time of year in the city every morning I leave for work before the sun. I’m also quite surprised at the number of tourists I’ve come across this cold season. Then again, we can still head out and enjoy the city despite a few rain showers and cold breezes, am I right?

So what to do when it rains? When it’s oh so cold outside? Here are a few ideas to stay warm, cultured and with a full belly this season.

HAPPENING AROUND TOWN

Tahitian Woman with a Flower – Gauguin, A Spiritual Journey

If your new year’s goal is to get more cultured, look no further then the city’s many beautiful galleries and museums, with most offering free admission days. The GLBT Museum offers free admission on the first Wednesday of the month while the Asian Art Museum does so on the first Sunday of every month.

Tuesdays have a few contenders such as the Contemporary Jewish Museumde Young Museum, Legion of Honor, and Museum of Craft and Design. Check the museum’s website for exact schedules of free admissions days.

Still want to go outside? The San Francisco City Guides‘ is a group of volunteer tour guides showcasing their pride in the city. They have walking tours scheduled throughout the day at varying points of the city, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Japanese Tea Garden. They even guide you back in time to the 1906 earthquake and fire.

YUMMINESS ACHIEVED

c/o visitoakland.com

Foodies, rejoice! Over 100 restaurants are participating in this year’s Oakland Restaurant Week, happening January 11th through the 20th. That’s two whole weekends for us to get hungry, eat it all up, walk it off, and repeat! There will also be a few special events throughout the week.

On January 12th, Brotzeit Lokal will donate a portion of the sales from their “prix fixe menu” to the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB). Also supporting the ACCFB is Baro on the 14th with a special benefit dinner. Then on the 15th, you can journey through Old Oakland Progressive and enjoy a multiple course dinner across three different restaurants.

San Francisco’s restaurant week returns soon after but I’ll more on that next week. If all that is not achieving yumminess, I don’t know what is. All I know is that I’m really hungry right now! Is it the 11th yet??

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by the events or restaurants listed. If you’d like me to check out or rant about a happening around town for my SF Sundays series, please email me at ha@mshala.co.

SF Sundays – History, Arts and Kebabs!

San Francisco. The city by the bay. The Bay Area. My hometown. Within the city’s many hills and along the city’s many beach shorelines, there are stories to be heard, history to be made, secrets to be revealed and delicious food to be eaten. Every year, the San Francisco Bay Area sees millions of tourists and natives like me come to discover it all. With that, I’ll regularly rant on happenings around my town not to be missed and yumminess to be achieved. Join me!

BUT FIRST, A QUICK HISTORY LESSON

This California peninsula city was founded and established in 1776 by colonists from Spain, naming it after Saint Francis of Assisi. Part of the foundation of the city started with the Presidio and Mission districts. Soon after, the gold rush brought in the influx of gold seekers and Eastern settlers. And in just the last hundred years or so, the city saw everything imaginable.

Related image
c/o San Francisco Chronicle

1906 brought about the largest earthquake to date, causing one of the most devastating fires the West had ever seen. It was rebuilt, in part, by the influx of immigrants who came from all over the globe to start a new life and contribute to the greater Bay Area. The “decade of love” protested a senseless war whilst demanding equality, tolerance and some form of peace. The belief that love is love put San Francisco at the helm of the LGBTQ community activism, being the first in the nation to have same-sex marriages (before Prop 8 came about).

We make history and get very hungry in the process. And while being the most culturally diverse metropolitan city in the country, we’ve become the most gastronomical one too. One can eat their heart out then head to the city’s many museums, music halls, art galleries, comedy clubs or movie screenings. Once outside, one can ice skate the many rinks open in the winter, swim the ocean seas in the summer, walk through the many green parks in the spring, or bike their way through one of the best cycling city in the world all year long. That’s my city!

HAPPENING AROUND TOWN

This week, I’d like to highlight the Contemporary Muslim Fashion exhibit being held at the de Young through the 6th of January, 2019. I’ve been to the exhibit multiple times and plan on going again before it closes. This is a historical first for such an exhibit and of course, where else would such a colorful and truly inspiring exhibit be than at the de Young?

Tickets average $30 per person but members get in free! Side note: If you’re a true fan of art, a Fine Arts membership is worth every penny. With lots of exhibits to see and membership perks to enjoy at both the de Young and Legion of Honor.

San Francisco Symphony last week held a screening feature of A Nightmare Before Christmas and it was truly spectacular! They’ll do it again with the screening of the holiday classic, Home Alone.

Want to go ice skating? We’re spoiled for choice all across the city. Just for the holidays, there are three ice rinks: one right in front of City Hall, a second in the middle of Union Square and a third at the Embarcadero Center. There’s also the Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center which is open all year round.

And if you still need to shop for gifts, look no further than the upcoming Etsy’s Maverick Holiday Market happening at the Crocker Galleria December 19th. Nothing beats buying from your local businesses, right? Shameless plug: I’ve started a small boutique shop on Etsy too!

YUMMINESS ACHIEVED

lamb stew at Bursa

This week, I’m highlighting an old favorite spot of mine, Bursa on West Portal. They truly serve up really good Arabic food with touches of gourmet and home. My favorite dishes are both the chicken and beef kebabs, succulent lamb stew, and the piping hot pastry cheese rolls. Just thinking about those cheesy rolls makes me hungry!

I’m not a fan of the seasonal pumpkin spice lattes (because yuck) but I did miss the occasional winter holiday coffee drinks. As a huge fan of Peet’s, I’ve been hooked on their peppermint mocha and the dark chocolate orange mocha. They are great pick-me-ups especially on those cold Monday mornings as you head back to work.

Until next time, Happy Sunday, peeps!

How to Help Those Affected by the California Wildfires

The wildfires in my home state of California has been devastating. The Camp Fire in Butte County has claimed over 40 lives, burned over 110,000 acres and only 30% contained as of writing. This fire has been so far the worst in California history. A second fire in Southern California’s Ventura County deemed the Woolsey Fire is fast spreading. CAL FIRE reports as of this writing that the fire has spread across over 91,500 acres and only 20% contained. There have been five injuries, three of which are firefighters and I’m praying there will not be reporting of causalities.

Being almost 200 miles away from Butte County, the billowing smoke has affected the air quality here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve used my rescue inhaler over twice a day since the fires began. I’ve stayed indoors as much as possible over the weekend, dunned a face mask when one was available to me but I keep thinking, how are the people in the heart of this disaster even coping?

The first responders have put their own lives on the line helping people evacuate and attempting to put out this fire. Many of them are from Butte County and have family forced to evacuate and lost their own homes in the fire.

So how can we help our fellow Californians in their times of need? Below are a few organizations I’m aware of that are on the grounds. Your donations in the form of finances and time would be greatly appreciated.

Source: AP/Noah Berger via Islamic Relief USA

Islamic Relief USA has a Disaster Response Team that is helping those affected by the fires in both northern and southern California. The California Community Foundation has a Wildfire Relief Fund currently supporting recovery and preparedness. Benevity is supporting the American Red Cross’ efforts on the ground.

According to the Sacramento Bee, shelters have been receiving “generous but useless donations”. Meaning, kindly check what is needed before donating your entire stash of hygiene products. If you can’t donate things like underwear or backpacks, the best thing to do is to donate a gift card from say Target. Your time is also highly appreciated but please inquire ahead, your safety and that of others come first.

I’ll update this post with any additional information I come across on how we can continue to help those affected throughout California. If you have additional information to share, kindly email me or post them in the comments below.

For help, support or information for Butte County, please go buttecounty.net or call 211.

UPDATE – 14 November: ABC7 News Bay Area is teaming up with Vitalant for a blood drive. The North Valley Community Foundation is collection corporate gifts and in-kind donations. To volunteer, head to Caring Choices for more information.

Captured November 21st at 7am on Judah Street

UPDATE – 16 November: GoFundMe has created a central page with verified campaigns to help the victims. The same has been done by Charity Navigator, listing all verified organizations on the grounds in both Northern and Southern California. The California Fire Foundation is providing both financial and emotional support to the firefighters and the fallen officers and their families. Let’s be sure to showcase our support and appreciation to the amazing firefighters and first responders.

For details on the current air quality in the Bay Area, go to airnow.gov and enter the zip code of your area. As of this writing, it’s lingering at 233 here in San Francisco which is “very unhealthy”. According to KTVU, we are experiencing the worst air quality in the world. I took this picture this morning of the smoke looming above the Sunset district. Due to the air quality, most schools and universities are not open today or the rest of the week.

UPDATE – November 21: I’m sure there are many small businesses supporting the victims of the California wildfires. One of them is San Francisco’s QSpa, located on both Steiner and Divisidaro, off the Haight. Right now, QSpa is donating 100% of the proceeds from the sales of their $25 in-house cuticle oil to those affected in Butte County. For $15, you can bring back your empty bottle for a refill.

Final Update – December 1: The Camp Fire may be fully out but there is still much to do to help our friends get their lives back to some form of normalcy and rebuild the many towns affected. I want to be able to continue to showcase my support in any way possible. Therefore, all season long, I’ll be donating some of the proceeds from Ms. Hala’s Boutique to the Islamic Relief USA  and the  California Fire Foundation, two of many amazing organizations helping our friends across the state. Please continue to share this post and add on it to with any additional information in the comments below.

 

vote. Vote. VOTE!

Today is November 6th, midterm election day! ☑️ Have you voted yet?

I finally got my vote by mail ballot a few days ago, so took out my fancy pen and voted. Every time I vote, I think of the sacrifices of the suffragettes, the civil rights leaders, and my immigrant family who have made voting for many of us possible.

As Oprah said last week, honor our ancestors and GO VOTE!

Picture of the Day

The Castro Theatre is one of the oldest and historical theatres here in San Francisco. In one of the most vibrant and colorful districts of the city, it only makes sense that this iconic theatre showcases colorful, thoughtful and beautiful works from local to global film makers.

I’ve come here many times to check out foreign films and film festivals over the years before moving abroad. Since moving back, I’ve been anxious to watch a screening here again. Most recently, I’ve watched movies during the Arab Film Festival and have not left disappointed.

I can’t imagine a more beautiful theatre for a movie buff to appreciate here in the city than I have at the Castro Theatre. I can’t wait to go back!

Picture of the Day

Throwback Thursday to accidentally on purpose finding sweetness at a classic spot in Burlingame. Royal Donut has been around longer than many of the eateries on famed Burlingame Avenue. Grab yourself a chocolate old-fashioned today!