Hopper & Burr


Mike and I have been working pretty hard these last couple of days. I have two 6-day work weeks in a row, and Mike had 11 days straight of work. I know our wallets will be thanking us later, but currently our bodies are not. We even missed the opportunity to go out and grab coffee this past weekend. Shocker, I know! Thankfully, we’ve still got beans left over from Portola Coffee Roasters, so in gratitude, let me brag for a minute about our new favorite coffee shop down the street from our house, which was also opened by the same guy who started Portola. It’s called Hopper and Burr and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I am all about it. The location is in the heart of downtown Santa Ana, a few blocks from Sunday’s farmer’s market. The coffee shop sits underneath a clock tower that chimes every hour, and it has a prime spot on the corner of 4th street and Sycamore St..


You leave the brick sidewalk and enter the double doors to white counter tops and clean walls, metal stools, and exposed beams. Windows surround the entire shop, letting in so much light and allowing you to people watch while you sip your coffee. There is no shortage of interesting people in this part of town, I could tell you that. A collection of Kinfolk magazines sit in the corner of the store, and another collection of books stand propped against a beam.

Beams and even more beams
The perfect reading nook, or people watching spot. Whichever you prefer.
Clean lines, monochromatic tones.

The menu is projected onto their white walls, and it is definitely an interesting menu. The litmus is a flight of their latte, black coffee, and espresso, for just $6! The latte is perfection, and Mike and I even tried their Cafe Nico, citrusy in taste, and very refreshing. We’ve been having gorgeous California weather lately, so feel free to stop by and ask for a Kaffe tonic. And word on the street is that they use housemade ganache for their Cafe Mochas. Sweet.

Cafe Nico
Litmus flight and a Cafe Mocha please

They have an assortment of pastries, and unfortunately, Mike and I are the type where if we like something we stick with it. So every croissant you see here is the tomato and provolone croissant. It’s delicious by the way, perfect for nibbling on while you work away on your laptops.DSC_0027




Oh and the baristas are ridiculously sweet and knowledgeable about coffee. Their menu is simple but you can pretty much walk in and ask for anything and they will make it for you. They’re very enthusiastic about coffee and would love to tell you more about each type of drink, which is pretty much what they had to do for us since we have never encountered a Cafe Nico before, or a Litmus for that matter. Why not, I have no clue. And their presentation is perfection. They will set your drink down in an orientation that will always face you. These guys are brilliant!

All the bartenders are knowledgeable about their coffee
We just keep coming back for more.


In the Kitchen

Recipe #2: Lemon Pesto Pasta with Sun-dried tomatoes and Asparagus

DSC04420Mike and I usually come home from work at a later hour than most, about 7pm. He can easily tell you that I am alllll about easy and quick meal preps. This recipe is just the ticket, and it leaves you feeling healthy to boot! Plus, you can prepare it days in advance and it refrigerates and reheats really well. I like to make them on Sundays and that just helps me out in the middle of the work week. You can always serve this refreshing meal at your summer party and no one will ever know that you made it a few days before, I swear by it. If you don’t believe me, well, you’ll just have to try it for yourself.


  • Penne pasta
  • Sun dried tomatoes (I’m a huge tomato fanatic so I’ll use heaps of this stuff)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pesto (as much as you’d like)
  • Asparagus (or baby broccoli) – chopped and with the thick stalks cut off
  • Feta Cheese (mountains and globs of it if you’re like me, none of it if you’re like Mikey)


  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. In a large pot, mix in pasta, lemon juice, pesto, asparagus,sun dried tomatoes, and even more tomatoes.
  3.  Serve and sprinkle feta cheese on top.


In the Kitchen

Recipe #1: French toast

On the weekends, we like to step up our game from the weekday cereal and milk routine, so we frequently use our (currently) go-to french toast recipe. The best part is that it’s so easy to make! When we went to New Zealand for our honeymoon, we noticed that French toast was being served in every cafe and coffee shop that we visited. Huge variations of French toast! I even joked that I should just order French Toast every time in search for the best French toast in all of New Zealand (still on my bucket list). I mean, do these all not look drool worthy?

Return of Rad, near Mt. Eden at Auckland, North Island
Piccolo Cafe, Taupo, North Island
Atomic Coffee, near Mt. Eden, Auckland, New Zealand
Vudu Cafe, Queenstown, South Island

So now, this got us thinking. We have these two close friends who are Filipino and in true Filipino fashion, they never fail to serve any guests who are sleeping over at their house a breakfast that consists of fried rice, egg, and bacon. Every time. And me and Mike thought, “Hey! We could be the same except we serve everyone who sleeps here a plate of french toast!” So here is the recipe of our first successful batch. It is so good that we’ve used the same recipe the last three times we’ve made french toast for ourselves, but I swear we will try to discover more variations in the future to serve the world.


  • 1 inch slices of challah, sliced 1 inch thick 
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp rum, Kahlua, or Grand Marnier (we like Grand Marnier)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (for cooking the bread on a skillet)


  1. Whisk all the ingredients (minus the bread and the butter) together in a bowl.
  2. Soak the bread in the mixture.
  3. Place a slice of butter on the grill and grill each side of the bread on low heat (so the egg cooks through in the middle) for 3 minutes on each side, or until brown.
  4. Serve with syrup, fruit, powdered sugar, or whatever makes you happy! Done!

See, told you it was easy.



My SO CAL go-to coffee shops

Mike and I have a tradition of going to coffee shops every weekend. There is something about sitting down at a café, sipping on a cup of latte, and talking about our biggest ideas and dreams. He cares more about the coffee, I care more about the vibe (and the company). Maybe it’s being surrounded by like-minded folk, early birds who prefer one-on-one conversations, or introverts working on their laptops or reading their books in cozy corners. Honestly, it’s a way to escape the everyday grind (pun intended) and to just unwind. Even today, we look forward to coffee dates on lazy Sundays, the perfect touch to sleeping in and staying warm under the covers. Needless to say, we have been to our fair share of coffee shops. I decided to list a few of my favorites in Southern California, and give them awards while I’m at it. (Warning: I had a very difficult time narrowing it down. Please forgive me.)

Los Angeles County

Two Guns – best coffee to go


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Two guns espresso has a very small space, and usually, I would prefer to grab that cup to go, but don’t let that stop you from going in. This place sells arguably our favorite coffee in LA County! Definitely a must! And if you feel like enjoying your cup, feel free to sit on their porch. It’s definitely cozy.

Gum Tree Café – best place to grab aussie pies


Gum tree café is owned by an Aussie and his wife, Lori, who has a shop next to the café. They are absolutely adorable. Obviously, Aussie pies are available, but you’ll also catch me grabbing an avocado toast and a handful of mini muffins on the side. I have spent countless mornings in sunny Hermosa Beach at this exact spot, on the patio if I am by myself, and inside the café if I am with company. I have gone alone multiple times, I have to admit. The coffee is good, but the company even better. I love stopping by the shop to chat with Lori and I have bought many a girlfriend’s birthday, bridal, and just-because present from this store. Oh! And they host creative workshops on their patio. My dream is to host one of these one day!

Copa Vida – best place to get creative


Copa Vida is located in my favorite part of Pasadena. Not only is it next to an amazing art store where I would buy all the art supplies in the world if I could, but it is also just a great space with brick walls and beautiful tile on the floor. I found a cool spot in the back and my cousin and I stayed for four hours practicing calligraphy. They never kicked us out, or told us our laughter was too loud. Oh and their menu is also pretty good. One cortado and a croissant please!

The Source Café – best coffee for the health nut


Vegan? Gluten free? Want coffee, but hungry? No problem! They got you covered. This is probably your dream place to go. They even house veggie smoothies and juices, freshly made, as well as bottled and ready to go. Oh and they have a matcha latte for all you matcha lovers. Don’t let the VG, GF sign bother you, the apple donut is still amazing. You won’t regret it! Bring it out to the patio, or pick a drink up after taking a yoga class right across the street.

Urth Caffe – best place after a run

Image result for urth caffe

Okay, this award probably does not apply to anyone but us. But we used to always go to the Urth Caffe in Santa Monica (although I have also been to Beverly Hills and Pasadena) after a jog down Santa Monica boardwalk to Venice Beach and back. It was pretty much our reward. I love their large mugs of latte that I could guzzle down so that I could de-hydrate myself even more. Uhm, yumm! And the urth pudding is delicious. If I am craving a more measly meal, the brioche bread and jam does just the trick!

Orange County

Portola Coffee Lab – most unique item on the menu


This has now become our go to coffee place in OC. I awarded it with the most unique item on the menu because its coffee beans are used to make Elixir Specialty Coffee. Looks like whiskey, feels like tea, and made from coffee. If that isn’t mind-boggling enough, the elixir is made from coffee beans …. using soundwaves?!?! Yeah, go figure! The first American company to actually be a part of this Elixir making process was Copa Vida. Today, there are multiple elixirs out there from this Australian company, all displaying a spectrum of light to dark hues, with a number 1-24 written on the bottle, to signify how many hours it took to do whatever magic it is that they do. Check Elixir Specialty Coffee to learn more.

Kean Bean – greenest coffee


Kean beans has earned certification from Rainforest Alliance, and is very conscious about conserving biodiversity. Protector of waterways, soil health, wildlife, the forest itself, they have eliminated toxic agrochemicals and GMOs from their farms. They provide worker housing, education, day care, clean water, and farm support to their employed farmers.  They improve the livelihoods of their workers by providing safe working conditions without the dangerous chemicals, providing healthcare and insurance, prevention of child labor, and by simply giving back farm proceeds to the community enrichment projects. But on top of that, they produce my favorite coffee beans to take home. They have a huge selection of beans in store, with a variety of complex notes, and some of those bags are graded 95/100! Plus they have a selection of decaf coffees that I can now happily drink at home right before bed!

Hidden House Coffee – cutest tucked-away coffee house

Image result for hidden house coffee

The location of this place is just darling. Tucked away behind the railroad tracks in San Juan Capistrano along the cutest dirt path housing other similar cafes and shops, this must be what little Red Riding Hood’s grandma’s house looked like. The wooden patio is a perfect place to slowly wake up in the early morning. It is tucked away in the foliage, making this secluded spot a great place to get to know someone or catch up with an old friend.

Gypsy Den – best bohemian gathering hole

Related image

The décor of this place looks like the inside of a genie bottle. But I love the vibe and the music is very relaxed. This place really brightens my day and I would come here when I need a pick me up! It’s ideal for those who want a space to study or work on their laptops, because there is plenty of space to spread out and the wifi works great. And I should probably mention the delicious food. Chai tea latte with French toast would be my choice combo, just sayin’. Oh, and happy hour starts at 3pm.

Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders – best stop for home roasters


This award was granted by my coffee loving husband. I guess people can buy coffee beans and roast them themselves at home, and this place was voted top of the bunch. I am more of an ambience, vibe type judger, so I give them points for those huge glass garage doors that let in a breath of fresh air into the shop. Also, I am kind of biased because a high school friend works here. I like to pop in and see her face once in a while. As far as coffee goes, we pick up our cold brew here. We even have a howler to take home that we re-use every time. My sister’s favorite drink here is the matcha smoothie, and Mike tends to go for the Steampunk coffee. Me? I’ll take my basic latte, sometimes with mocha if I am feeling extra special that day.

San Diego County

Coffee + Tea Collective – most unique coffee notes


Mike and I have only been here a few times back when I was living in San Diego for an internship, but we can both agree that this place sells the coffee with the most unique coffee notes. All we remember is that we really enjoyed this coffee, a LOT. So I guess it goes first on the SD list because it is our favorite in this county. The space is small, minimalist, but welcomes in a lot of light, and doesn’t feel crowded. We took a few coffee bags home because we liked it so much. My favorite coffee tasted like citrusy orange, chocolate, and flower, all combined. I bet it goes well with those Orange chocolates shaped in oranges that you can crack and out comes slices…

Moniker Coffee – best place to shop

Image result for moniker coffee

Moniker Coffee is a newly opened coffee shop in Liberty Station, and yes, the award is all about shopping at Moniker General. To be fair, the coffee shop and the general store are actually connected to each other. And I am biased about the shop thing, because some of the items they sell are created by either people I know or people I have met and talked to. For example, my wedding videographer founded Bradley Mountain Co and makes leather goods which can be found at this shop. Also, my hair stylist’s husband works for Moniker Made and he made the furniture in the coffee shop. Rose and Fitzgerald who I met and talked to at a convention in LA for ethical goods sells their home goods there. So yeah, biases everywhere.

James Coffee Co – most industrial creative space

Image result for james coffee co

I love Love LOVE the vibe of this place. We were introduced to this space by our two photographers Chad and Jenika. This is where we met them for the first time. Set in an old hangar, the place is made mostly of metal, with a very grungy masculine appeal. There are some shops that sell what I would consider hipster eyewear and clothes, and you can even get a haircut in the back of the hangar at a very retro looking barbershop. The male baristas usually have long hair and the female ones usually sport short hair. Almost everyone shows up wearing overalls, or grunge boots, or short sleeve button downs with awesome patterns in dark colors. I love it here. I don’t necessarily belong with the crowd, but I like them a lot. I like the freedom of expression and their creativity. I can sip coffee here all day and just look around. Oh and my future Dalmation or Great Dane can join me too!

Holsem Coffee – best location


Coffee houses are usually in the greatest spots. But I have to give Holsem coffee the best location award on this list. It is located in North Park, which is the more hipster part of San Diego. I loved grabbing a cup of coffee to go, and then walking with Mike down the street. We checked out old record shops and perused for deals. We walked into small creative businesses where everything was hand-made by the shop owner. Even stores smelling of incense with incantation books lining the shelves were great to look at. And I just ooh and ahh at the antique stores there too. There’s a Corepower yoga a few streets down, as well as our favorite stop in the area to get b-o-m-b mexican food, El Comal Restaurant. It only follows that Holsem coffee has a creative and b-o-m-b menu as well. I love their lavender latte and their La Vie en Rose Cappuccino (rose water, rose petal, honey, cardamom, and milk). Pair that with one of their paninis and I am golden for the rest of the day. I guess moral of the story is that I care about the food probably more than I care about the coffee… but I love my coffee shops!

And that wraps up this coffee post for the day. After talking about coffee so much, I am ready to go grab a cup myself! Anyone else?


Green Sauce Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas


Whenever I think of summer recipes, Mexican food always come to mind! Granted, we DO love our Mexican food in this house, so maybe that isn’t quite fair. Regardless, one of the meals we love to make is Mike’s recipe for chicken and cheese enchiladas in green sauce.

What you need:

  • 1 pd chicken breast
  • 16 oz green enchilada sauce (we are pretty liberal with the sauce)
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 cups Mexican shredded cheese (or Mozzarella cheese)
  • Tortilla

How to:

  • Slice the chicken breast in half long ways to make a thinner breast. Place both pieces in a frying pan with a little bit of oil over low hear and cover with the lid. Allow one side to cook for one minute, then flip over. Let it cook for another 6 minutes before flipping over one last time. Allow to cook for 6 minutes and remove from heat.
  • While the chicken breast is cooking, I dice my onion and my jalapeno pepper.
  • Fry the tortillas in a little bit of oil so that they do not break while you are rolling the enchiladas.
  • Once the chicken finishes cooking, shred into small pieces.
  • Cover the bottom of a baking pan with enchilada sauce.
  • Time to roll tortillas! Dip each tortilla into the enchilada sauce to soak up that goodness, then add chicken, cheese and onion. Roll and place in the baking pan. Continue adding rolled enchiladas until baking pan is filled.
  • Pour left over green sauce over the enchiladas.
  • Sprinkle left over mexican cheese to make it even better!
  • Lastly, add the jalapenos for a little kick.
  • Place baking pan in oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove, and enjoy!