Good-Bye Dirty Thirty, Hello Fabulous Forty!

Or is it filthy forty? Ah who cares, I’m both! hehehe

I just survived my first two weeks being 40! Those two weeks were all over the place, including my first flight in two years for work, cross country. OMG, that was something else.

Then again, all of last year doesn’t count, right? So I’ve decided instead to be 35 for the fifth time! YAY!

So for this throwback Tuesday, I’d like to throw it back to the great times from the last decade with some wise words and learns. I’m supposed to be older and wiser, so I need to practice.

Here goes nothing…

#MsHalaTravels #Qatar

Trust in God, for God truly works in mysterious ways.

God is also the biggest practical joker, especially after we thought we had 2020 plans in order. You’d think I had learned my lesson when I attempted to draft out big plans for my 30s. Yet when the opportunity arose, I just tossed everything aside and made a complete 180. No, it was never part of my plans to somehow end up living the confused expatriate life for five plus years in Qatar.

And no, it was not the easiest transition or process but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

That experience made me realize that living in my comfort zone was never actually that comfortable. Being away from family, being in a different place, meeting all kinds of people was part of my growth as a person. It didn’t hurt that it also helped grow my career, my taste buds, and my appreciation for my own family’s immigrant stories.

True love actually exists.

It’s not like those of tall tales or blockbuster movies. It’s a feeling that you have to work towards to maintain, grow, and nourish. After becoming an auntie in my 30s, I came to the conclusion that I have loved a few times but true, authentic love is the one that just feels right yet surreal. The person and people that share that same feeling are those that act upon it, work for it, show it, and truly live it.

You can not change a person nor expect someone to change you.

You can inspire and be inspired by someone. You can be supportive and accept support. However, you can not force upon a person to change nor they you. You are family, friends, or lovers with that person as they are. They love you just as you are. We can’t demand to be loved and accepted for our authentic selves if we can’t reciprocate the same. Plain and simple.

#MsHalaDrinks #iHeartCoffee

You must own your happiness.

Can we please stop giving people the responsibility of our happiness? You must own your own. Period!

Someone or something can bring you joy but they can not make you happy. Once you know that difference, your perception widens. If you can’t be in the state of happiness in which you desire, no one person, place, or thing can.

Except for coffee, the sweet elixir of life! #SorryNotSorry

#MsHalaEats #ImAlwaysHungry

Money doesn’t buy happiness because happiness isn’t for sale.

Sure, money may make life easy but it doesn’t make one happy. As I grew in my career, so did my salary. I moved from a bigger apartment I didn’t need. The extra space was only a burden, it didn’t make me happy.

As I started to make more money I quickly learned that although I can afford it, it must do the following three: be functional, necessary, and bring me joy. Happiness is one’s state of mind, not material things.

Therefore, I eat, travel, and bought my first house with my family.

#MsHalaIsCrazy
#SeeMySF #SanFrancisco

Experiences last a lifetime!

With every experience, I find my joy. Be it traveling internationally or to a nearby town. Be it a museum or local comedy club. Be it jumping off a plane or sand dunning with eight passengers in my truck. Whether I’m with all my family and friends or have an evening to myself.

I do not take any experience, big or small, for granted. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that life is too short, to care for one’s self and, to be grateful, always.

God has blessed me in more ways than one.

I’m a firm believer that God has us intertwined with one another by passing our blessings through us. By that I mean that someone’s blessing is coming through me. I’ve received many a blessings through others. So who am I to betray that trust? Always give as much as you receive! Volunteer, donate, and teach another one of your life’s lessons.

I’m so grateful for my 30’s, it was truly fantastic! I can’t wait for what’s to come , God willing. Here I come forties, here I come!

SF Sundays – Summer Has Just Begun

It’s September already? Where has the summer gone? Wait, it’s the San Francisco Bay Area, summer has just begun!

This is also the perfect time to remind one and all to get vaccinated, wear your masks, and keep your distance. This Delta variant is scary and we need to do our part to curb this pandemic once and for all. So let’s get our act together and keep our summer going, safely.

TOWN HAPPENINGS

Are you a history buff? Do you love all things Egypt? Did you know that the largest collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts and replicas in Western North America is right here in the Bay Area?

The Rosicrucian Park and Museum is literally hidden in plain sight in San Jose. The Egyptian Museum, run by Egyptologists and volunteers, is very well curated. It is not as small as I initially thought because I was in there for a good couple of hours. The entire park takes up a city square block! Surrounding the museum is a temple, peace garden, a planetarium, and a labyrinth. The temple and planetarium are still closed but I can only imagine the magic that awaits my next visit.

Many of course asked me questions (because apparently all Egyptians are also Egyptologists) like where did these artifacts come from. I had two words, “colonialism” and “thift”. Many of these at the Rosicrucian Museum were donated by many museums in Europe, none I saw were from Egypt directly. There were also replicas of known artifacts and places in Egypt, like the tunnel into a pyramid within the museum.

Here are a few things still open for us to enjoy this summer:

LET’S EAT

With restaurants reopening, I’m still hesitant to go for indoor dining. So the more outdoor or take out options, the better! Since I’ve been talking about San Jose, it only makes sense to remind you all of some of the best pho spots in the South Bay.

In the heart of the Little Saigon neighborhood, off the Grand Century Mall on Story Road, is a small restaurant with a lot to offer. With plenty of outdoor seating, a wide selection of pho for all taste buds, and a fantastic staff! Seriously, I can’t recommend Pho 90 Degrees enough.

I had come here many times with friends but never more than 2-3 people. So imagine a group of eight who may or may not have tried pho before coming in with many questions and dietary needs. The team was extremely kind, courteous, and surprisingly fast with our order. The food of course, is on a whole other level. I salivated over my bowl of mouth watering chicken pho, washing it down with some great iced coffee.

Again, as we head back out on our foodie adventures, I urge you to be courteous to the restaurant management and staff. I’ve seen a few struggling with reopening regulations, limited staff, readjusted hours of operations, and even limiting the capacity for safety and service reasons. We are all in this together so let’s remain calm, kind, courteous, and hungry.

What are you trying again with the reopenings happening across the Bay Area? Do share your thoughts below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above-mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored rants are always based on actual experiences and/or interests. If you’d like me to check out a local event or eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

SF Sundays – Let’s Try This Again

Happy Father’s Day!! I hope this finds all the wonderful humans who are father figures in our lives enjoying their well-deserved day of rest, fun, and breakfast in bed. Yes, dads deserve breakfast in bed too!

This is also the perfect time to reignite the SF Sundays rant series. The last time I wrote for the rant series was right before the second state-wide shutdown in December. As summer approaches, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. San Francisco is one of the first major US cities to have over 80% of its eligible residents either fully or partially vaccinated. Most of the Bay Area, along with California, officially reopened last Tuesday!

As I type this, I’m excited but still as cautious as ever. With this rant, I hope to see a better and new normal. So let’s try this again and see what’s going on in the Bay Area.

TOWN HAPPENINGS

Max Field BalaGreetings from San Francisco mural

If you’ve got the kids this summer, time to impress them with some fun activities around the city. I was the cool auntie to my nephew a couple weeks ago when I took him out on a sunny day from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 39.

He LOVED the Cartoon Art Museum and seeing the history of animations and comic books’ superheroes. Currently, they are showcasing artwork reflective of George Takei’s graphic memoir, “They Called Us Enemy”. Later this summer, the museum will host an exhibit showcasing costumes and props from the Batman movies. We got a sneak peek and it looks promising.

We headed around the corner to Umbrella Alley. A fun outdoor alley with interactive murals by local artists for all your Instagram and photographic delights! From there, we strolled through Fishermen’s Wharf, where slowly but surely, local shops, eateries, bus tours, and boaters were reopening and welcoming everyone back.

Other fun things to do and check out this summer:

Wangechi MutuOutstretched, 2019

LET’S EAT

With restaurants reopening for both indoor and outdoor dining, I’m readly to back out on my foodie adventures, discovering renewed local spots while continuing to support my favorites. Personally thought, I’m not comfortable dining indoors. However, I’m glad that there are still so many options for those still hesitant like me.

So where am I going?

Shout out to my favorite take-out spot, Old Mandarin Islamic in San Francisco. It’s one of the few halal Chinese spots in the Bay and they’ve gotten better over the years. They still have the outdoor parklet and limited indoor seating so I’m comfortable heading back out there (and I’ll try to remember to take pictures before I dig, I promise!).

Vegan and halal? Yes please! I’ve got to head back to Grandeur Oakland for those amazing adobe chicken wings! They have a great vegan selection, including the cauliflower wings which were just as good with the amazing selection of sauces.

As we head back out on our foodie adventures, kindly be courteous to the restaurant management and staff. I’ve seen a few struggling with reopening regulations, limited staff, readjusted hours of operations, and even limiting the capacity for safety and service reasons. We are all in this together so let’s remain calm, kind, and courteous.

What are you trying again with the reopenings happening across the Bay Area? Do share your thoughts below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above-mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored rants are always based on actual experiences and/or interests. If you’d like me to check out a local event or eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

SF Sundays – A New Normal

The last time I wrote for SF Sundays rant series was right before the local and state-wide shut down due to a surge in covid cases. Now as we approach the winter season, we are once again seeing a surge in cases. California alone has reached over one million cases but still persisting to flatten that curve with the lastest shelter in place curfew being enforced this week.

This latest entry is being written with the knowledge that some businesses are still safely open as we continue living during this “new normal”. I was honestly hesitant these past few months but I think it’s an appropriate time to slowly relaunch this rant series to show some much-needed support to our local businesses and organizations.

So let’s see what’s open and how we can enjoy the Bay’s “new normal” living this winter season.

TOWN HAPPENINGS

Thanks to the Frida Kahlo Museum (aka The Blue House) in Mexico City, Mexico, we here in the Bay will get to see some of Frida Kahlo’s personal items along with some of her magnificent works of art.

The Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving exhibit at the de Young Museum is open to the public through February 2021. Whether or not you are a FAMSF member, you need to book your tickets online, marked with the scheduled entrance time with respect to the museum’s limit capacity protocol.

In other museum news, the lovely Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) was expected to slowly reopen to the public this Thanksgiving week. Sadly, the reopening has been postponed until further notice. I’ll be sure to post once a reopening date has been announced.

If you’re looking for an activity to do safely with the family, my brother and I headed out to Mulatto Meadows recently for a horseback riding lesson. I got really lucky to meet and ride the one and only Dapper! This is the same lovely horse that Mulatto Meadows owner and activist Brianna Noble rode during the Black Lives Matter protests in Oakland. It was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to continue taking lessons in the near future. Interested parties are asked to call ahead and schedule their lessons in advance.

LET’S EAT

My foodie family and I have either been cooking more at home or ordering take out from our favorite local restaurants these past few months. However, I’ve only allowed myself to go out to a handful of places that have been keeping up with safety protocols such as outdoor seating and limited capacity to allow distancing. One of these favorites have been Pacifica Brewery.

Off the CA Highway 1, this spot is literally spot on. You don’t have to be a drinker to appreciate the beautifully plated dishes and friendly service that bring me back for more. Their menu is seasonally changing except for a few staples and crowd favorites like the PB burger and their delicious take on beignets. This season, you must try the chestnut and butternut squash ravioli of their dinner menu.

How are you going about the “new normal” this winter season? Do share your thoughts below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above-mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored or paid rants are always based on actual experiences and/or interests. If you’d like me to check out a local event or eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

SF Sundays – Top Ten Musts for 2020

It’s February, can I still say Happy 2020? Probably not but I’ll say it anyways… HAPPY 2020!

It’s actually been a bit busy for me, with my full time work, side projects and recent certification exam (long story, short, I like to keep learning!). However, I have been making a list of all the things I must see, do and eat in the Bay Area when I realized, does everyone else know about these sweet delights in our backyard?

What must we see, do and eat in the Bay? Here are a few off the tip of my very long list for 2020:

50 Years! I can’t be the only one that didn’t realize there is a fantastic museum that encompasses our history as a state just off the Lake Merritt Bart Station in Oakland. The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is a fantastic space housing local art, history and culture with beautiful collections and visiting exhibits. This year, the OMCA is on my must revisit list as it celebrates it’s 50th anniversary of not just being a fabulous museum, but a welcoming “gathering place in the heart of Oakland”.

Let’s Eat! Reem’s has been added to my must eat list after seeing the nonstop hype behind it. Even the local news was all giddy when it was announced that this Oakland staple was opening up shop in San Francisco’s historic Mission District. Like a typical foodie, I went to check out the menu and literally salivated. It’s also worth mentioning that this is an Arab American lady owned business. So I’m biased in thinking it’s up to the hype and I can’t wait to eat it all up!

Up Above the Clouds! Taking a hot air balloon ride has been on my bucket list for a while. In looking to tick it off my list this year, I’ve come to find out I can do just that in the North Bay’s beautiful Napa Valley. We are spoiled for choice, whether going up with a group or privately, for an hour or so. Regardless, you can head to Visit Napa Valley to see which option best suits you, as well as other things to do while you’re up there.

Broadway! One of the longest running shows on Broadway is roaring it’s way to the Bay! The Lion King will be showcasing for a limited time this summer at the Center for Performing Arts in San Jose. As this is a limited engagement, it’s on my must see list because tickets will sell fast. Especially since it’s happening right after Hamilton’s extended run in San Francisco. What? You haven’t seen Hamilton in the Bay yet? What are you waiting for? It’s now extended through May 31st so add it to your 2020 must see list!

Frida! The most anticipated exhibit of the season coming to the Bay has to be Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving. Thanks to the Frida Kahlo Museum (aka The Blue House) in Mexico City, Mexico, we here in the Bay will get to see some of her personal items along with some of her magnificent works of art. As a fan of this prolific artist, this exhibit is on my must experience list, with the accompanying lectures, docent talks and much more at the de Young Museum.

Jazz It Up! The music scene in the Bay last year has been absolutely amazing. So much so, I started 2020 by heading to SFJAZZ‘s annual new year concert series of the legendary trumpeter Chris Botti! This concert was just a peak into the amazing line up happening this season. I’m now a proud member and so should you if you don’t want to miss out on great shows like this…

Hole In The Wall! Did you know, there’s a Peephole Cinema in San Francisco? Blink and you miss it! Peephole Cinema San Francisco is located in the Mission District at 280 Orange Alley, looping silent short films for those who’d like to take a peak. Another one was just added at SFO’s Terminal 1, thanks in kind to the curator, Sarah Klein. If you’re a movie buff or at least appreciate the art form, then add this to your must see list.

Yummy Delicious! The two day Eat Real Fest in Oakland’s Jack London Square has announced it’s dates for the year. What makes this food festival exciting is not only the great food expected to be shared, but the celebration of sustainable local ingredients and the craft behind the dishes and drinks served. I missed last year’s festival so I’m looking forward to eating my heart out while checking out all the cooking classes and demos that are being planned as we speak. Yummy!

Under The Sea! From the depths of the seas, statues of a three headed serpent and a mysterious deity were found, possibly lying in shipwrecks for centuries. The LOST AT SEA exhibit now through March is only happening at the Asian Art Museum. This tops my list as this one of a kind exhibit is only happening in San Francisco through March. You’re welcome to join our InterNations Culture and Art Group as we time travel and explore these wondrous beauties in February.

Just For Laughs! I LOVE the stand up comedy scene here in the Bay! We are truly blessed to get some of the best up and comers as well as established comedians stopping by to make us laugh. Ali Wong and Trevor Noah ended 2019 by coming through with sold out shows! 2020 shouldn’t be any different, if not better. I personally can’t wait for Michelle Wolf‘s return to the Bay later this week. Later this season, Jim Carrey, Whitney Cummings and Ali Wong will be in town too, woohoo!

So what’s on your Bay Area list for 2020?

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored or paid rants are for time spent, never for a biased take or review. If you’d like me to check out a happening around town or a local eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.