Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Same Sex Marriage Legalized in the United States

Rainbow Piggie Bank
Welcome to the 21st century, America.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same sex marriage. In the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy, "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were." While I'm somewhat disturbed that the ability to determine a group's rights hinged on a single vote, I'm pleased with the final result.

It's been a long road to finally get same sex couples the rights they deserve. In 2008, I took to the streets to protest when California voters legalized discrimination by passing Proposition 8. Four years later, a U.S. appeals court ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional ultimately leading to the issue being sent to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final decision. Hard to believe that it's been 7 years, but in this country change is slow.

While we've finally eradicated this dark mark of legalized discrimination against same sex couples, the battle is not over yet. Since Friday's ruling, I've observed numerous individuals (mostly religious) around me and on social media express disagreement with the ruling, along with derogatory and stereotypical statements about LGBTs in general. Additionally, certain states and counties have already made efforts to deny marriage licenses to same sex couples (though I'm sure their efforts will be futile).

As a social worker, I have to be understanding of others' cultural and religious beliefs. However, I struggle when those belief systems involve supporting legislation that segregates and treats certain populations as sub-human. My hope is that with further education, these people will open their eyes and realize that we are all humans and hence should be treated with dignity and granted the same rights.

Congratulations, America! You did well this time!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Burnout Prevention: Epic Road Trip 2015!

Road Trip 2015
July is fast approaching, meaning it's time for my third annual trip to San Diego for Comic-Con! Thanks to convention scheduling, Comic-Con is extra early this year (July 8-July 12). I'm not ready!

To add to the July excitement, my friends at TSG.tv are hosting a Mario Marathon from July 17-24 to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Initially, my intention was to Amtrak down to Texas after Comic-Con. However, after finding out that a number of my friends are road-tripping south, I decided to take advantage of the time between Comic-Con and Mario Marathon and take a road trip of my own!

Here's my itinerary thus far:
  • San Diego (for Comic-Con)
  • El Paso, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Dallas, Texas (Mario Marathon)
  • Santa Fe/Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Santa Barbara, California
In the next few weeks, I'll try to post about my planning process from packing, arranging transportation, to booking the cheapest lodging possible (including some free hotels). This is probably one of my most ambitious trips yet, and it's certainly been a learning experience. It's also been an exhausting one as I've spent most of my free time and many late nights working on my itinerary and packing. Travel planning is a lot of work, but I'm hoping that it all pays off next month!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Social Workers are Ridiculously Underpaid

social workers are underpaid
I try not to gripe about my salary too much. As a medical social worker in California, I know my salary is above average compared to the rest of the country, allowing me to do things that many other social workers cannot do. While I make nowhere near what people with engineering, medical/nursing, and business degrees make, with the exception of housing woes I am actually doing alright.

However, I find it hard to stay quiet when it comes to unfair pay disparities within my profession. Social workers are mandated by their Code of Ethics to combat social injustice. One platitude frequently touted by the profession is "Equal Pay for Equal Work". While this statement is typically used to advocate for gender pay equality, I feel that it can also be applied to pushing for fair wages for social workers, especially those in the hospital setting.

As many medical social workers know, our jobs overlap heavily with nurse case managers. In fact, I perform many of the same discharge planning duties as RN case managers. With the exception of a few variations (i.e. RN case managers having to perform insurance review tasks and social workers handling most crisis situations), RN case managers and social workers are so similar that they are often grouped into the same department. Unfortunately, their pay is vastly different.

According to payscale.com, the average RN case manager salary is $66,000. The average medical social worker salary is $49,992. Or course, this varies on location. In the Bay Area, medical social worker salaries are higher and nursing salaries are much, much higher.

Recently, a coworker disclosed that a nurse case manager friend at another hospital recently received a five-figure bonus for good work. On top of that, she quoted a six-figure base salary that is more than double my hourly salary

Later I was looking at a complex case manager job postings which require either an RN or MSW degree. In a discussion with another coworker who works at other hospitals, I found out that MSWs still get paid significantly less than RN case managers despite performing identical duties and having the title "case manager".

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't feel somewhat demoralized, especially compounded with my family support. I realize that nursing school is difficult, but so is getting a masters degree in social work. What continues to baffle me why a masters in social work deserves half the salary of an RN case manager with an associates or bachelors degree, especially when our job functions overlap so much.

I definitely understand why nurses earn what they do, and their salaries are fair given the cost of living around here (but ridiculously low everywhere outside of California). As I was writing this, I went back and reread my past post on nursing salaries to remind myself of the rationale behind why nurses are paid so much more. To be honest, until social workers unionize or our leadership stands up for us, then I'm not sure what can be done to fix our wages. On an individual level, if I demand an RN case manager salary for the work I do, I'm sure I'd get replaced by a social worker willing to work for much less.

So how do I cope with this on a daily basis? In the words of Peggy Carter, "I know my value". Going into social work, I knew that I would be overworked and underpaid. Even though others are getting paid much more for doing the same work, I find satisfaction in the work I do and the people I help on a daily basis. Making less does not make social work a lesser profession, nor does it make me a lesser person. I am much more than my paycheck.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Golden State Warriors NBA Championship Parade

I will preface this post by saying that I'm a spoiled sports fan who roots for all Bay Area professional sports teams. Growing up, I was lucky enough to see Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, and the San Francisco 49ers win multiple Super Bowls. I'll never forget the Battle of the Bay World Series of 1989, which I was preparing to watch on TV when the Loma Prieta earthquake happened. In college, I got to see Cal go to numerous bowl games and beat Stanford in the Big Game every single year I was a student. Between 2010 and 2014, I witnessed the magic of three successful World Series runs by the San Francisco Giants. Now, after 40 long years, it's time for the Golden State Warriors to have their moment! Yes, my friends who live in other states hate me, but I tell them I pay for it with Bay Area housing prices!

While the Golden State Warriors play in Oakland (and moving to San Francisco in 3 years), what sets them apart is that they are the entire Bay Area's basketball team. Unlike previous championship series with the Giants (as I work with diehard A's fans) and 49ers, everyone around me was unanimous in their support of the one local basketball team. In fact, when the Warrior finally clinched the championship last Tuesday, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose all erupted into celebration (with no riots or property damage in the Oakland area - take that, national media)!

In all honesty, I wasn't planning on attending the championship parade. While I've been following the Warriors since the days of Run TMC, Spree for Three, Chris Weber, Chris Gatling (who I ran into at the grocery store as a kid), etc., I'll readily admit that once high school started I didn't pay much attention to professional sports until I finished my masters program and fell in love with baseball again. Also, I didn't want to put my coworkers through the same scheduling "musical chairs" I pulled to get time off for the 2014 Giants World Series Parade. Fortunately, I had a scheduled day off, along with the rest of my family. Parade day for everyone!

While this parade incorporated components from other World Championship parades (i.e. double decker buses for better viewing, political dignitaries, cable cars, confetti galore, etc.), there were elements that I could only describe as "Oakland". Here are some pictures from a fun day!

Warriors Parade Banner
Blue and Gold banners lining the parade route
Libby Schaaf and MC Hammer
Oakland's mayor and MC Hammer riding a fire shooting snail!
The Janky Barge
Politicians riding "The Janky Barge"
Players' bus
Double decker buses so everyone can see them! Draymond Green did get off his bus and interact with the crowd, including high fiving my dad!
City of Oakland Float Warriors Parade
Oakland had some pretty unique and quirky floats during this parade. Here's another one!
SF Cable Car
Obligatory SF cable cars on wheels
Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala's MVP Bus
MVP Bus!
Stephen Curry and Larry O'Brien Trophy
Steph and trophy!
AC Transit Bus Warriors Parade
Can't forget about public transport!
BART float Warriors Parade
BART train!
Duck Congee and Chinese Donut
Lunch in Oakland's Chinatown! I'm sure this parade was great for local businesses!
Given Oakland's reputation in the national eye these days, there was probably nothing better for the city, their economy, and its people than a spirited celebration on a beautiful day! Bravo, Oakland! I couldn't be prouder of my birth city!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Product Review: trèStiQue Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon *UPDATE*

Just wanted to post a quick follow-up to my review of trèStiQue's Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon! Today, I received my replacement shiny lip balm in the mail. Included was a lovely handwritten note from Jenn, one of trèStiQue's co-founders!

trèStiQue handwritten note and shiny lip balm
Handwritten note from Jenn!
I cannot say enough about the quality of trèStiQue's lip products and their excellent customer service! They are just wonderful! Thank you again, and I look forward to trying out more products soon!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Costs of Moving Out (2015 Edition)

As many of you are aware, I've been trying to move out of my parents' house for several years. Back in 2011, I ran into barriers with the rental markets and couldn't justify the costs. In more recent years, I've lost numerous bidding wars in my failed attempt to buy a house/condominium in the Bay Area thanks to bubbling prices. Now, I've decided to try out the rental markets again and had set a goal to move out by this August. Unfortunately, I'm now having serious second thoughts over whether I can afford to live on my own without sacrificing my retirement and living paycheck to paycheck. Here's a rundown of expenditures should I choose to move:

Rent: $1100 for a studio (one of the cheapest in the Silicon Valley)
Utilities: $0 (included with the studio)
Internet: $50 (no cheaper options)
Food: $100
Cell Phone: $30 (T-Mobile prepaid plan)
Health insurance: $250
Car insurance: $100
Gas/Car Maintenance: $300
Hygiene, cleaning supplies: $20
401K Contribution: $1500
Roth IRA Contribution: $458.33
Monthly Grand Total: $3908.33 
Annual Total: $46899.33
State and Federal Taxes: $15588 (if making $60000) to $21881 (if making $75000)

According to this calculation, I basically have to make roughly $65000 a year pre-tax to cover shelter, food, basic necessities, taxes, and retirement without going into debt. This does not account for an emergency fund or entertainment. Really not a lot of wiggle room here.

Possible solutions:
-Contribute less to my retirement funds
-Get some roommates
-Move in my boyfriend (and risk getting disowned)
-Continue living at home
-Eliminate all travel, shopping, and entertainment
-Get a higher paying job, or work multiple jobs
-Move out of the Bay Area

I definitely have a lot to think about over the next few months.
--------------------------------------
*UPDATE* It looks like I forgot to add my HSA contribution to my initial computation. Here's the updated budget breakdown:

Rent: $1100 for a studio (one of the cheapest in the Silicon Valley)
Utilities: $0 (included with the studio)
Internet: $50 (no cheaper options)
Food: $100
Cell Phone: $30 (T-Mobile prepaid plan)
Health insurance: $250
Car insurance: $100
Gas/Car Maintenance: $300
Hygiene, cleaning supplies: $20
401K Contribution: $1500
Roth IRA Contribution: $458.33
HSA Contribution: $279.17
Monthly Grand Total: $4187.50 
Annual Total:  $50250
State and Federal Taxes: $15588 (if making $60000) to $21881 (if making $75000)

Looks like I have to make more than $70000 now. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Product Review: trèStiQue Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon

trèStiQue Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon
trèStiQue Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon
As previously mentioned, I spent a considerable amount of time at the trèStiQue booth during Generation Beauty and fell in love with the makeup they have to offer. As a frequent traveler and someone who spends very little time applying makeup in the morning, I tend to gravitate towards products that are portable and multifunctional. According the website, "trèStiQue was founded by two industry veterans who believe: makeup should be simple for everyday and quick." This philosophy is perfectly in line with my personal habits!

trèStiQue lip crayon outside box
Lip Crayon unboxed
Today, I'll be reviewing trèStiQue's Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon in Florence Fig and Rose Balm. This item retails on the trèStiQue site for $28, but I purchased it for 15% off at Generation Beauty.

trèStiQue Lip Crayon in Florence Fig and Rose Balm
Lip Crayon in Florence Fig and Rose Balm
With their patent pending 2-in-1 system, trèStiQue uses high quality makeup and employs magnets and tools to create a custom makeup pencil you can take anywhere! While trèStiQue's Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon comes with a lip color and a moisturizing balm, you can easily twist off the balm and replace it with a lip brush (sold separately).

trèStiQue Matte Color Pencil in Florence Fig
Matte Color side in Florence Fig
My favorite part of this lip duo is by far the matte lip color, which is a beautiful neutral pink that enhances my natural lip color. My job's dress code specifically prohibits bright makeup colors, so this is perfect for me! Additionally, the formula glides on smoothly, doesn't bleed, and is pretty moisturizing on its own. If I need additional moisture, I just flip the pencil over and apply the Rose Balm on the other side!

trèStiQue Shiny Balm side in Rose Balm
Shiny Balm side in Rose Balm
trèStiQue Shiny Balm Twists Off
The balm twists off and can be replaced by a lip brush (sold separately)
The Rose Balm is a sheer pink that can be used over the lip crayon without any color change. I really like how the balm moisturizes your lips and provides shine without the sticky, gooey feeling you get from most lip glosses. I just wish they gave you more balm!

trèStiQue Florence Fig and Rose Balm swatches in sun
Swatches in sunlight
trèStiQue Florence Fig and Rose Balm swatches in bathroom
Swatches under fluorescent bathroom light
My main problem with trèStiQue's Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon is the packaging. When removing the magnetic cap from the matte lip color, I have to be careful not to nick the product itself. Unfortunately, the balm side uses a non-magnetic cap that takes some effort to carefully snap off without touching the product. In fact, the first time I took the cap off the balm, I ended up denting the product.
trèStiQue Shiny Balm Lip dented
Dented lip balm :(
The second time, I accidentally broke the product off completely, leaving me really, really sad.

trèStiQue Shiny Balm broken
Broken lip balm :(
Fortunately, trèStiQue has a return/exchange policy, so I've e-mailed them and am waiting for a response. As much as I'd hate to part with the beautiful Florence Fig, the broken Shiny Balm is pretty much unusable at this point. Next time, I'll have to be a lot more careful, but trèStiQue should really consider making their products completely retractable to avoid damage while removing the caps!
*UPDATE* I received a response from trèStiQue's wonderful customer service and they are sending me a replacement balm! I am so happy! Thank you so much!

Critiques aside, I highly recommended trèStiQue due to their quality, portability, and simplicity of use! I look forward to trying their other products and vastly lightening my makeup load the next time I travel!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Generation Beauty 2015 Review

After a most enjoyable trip to Disneyland, it was time to meet up with my friend for our second annual trip to Generation Beauty! For last year's recap of Generation Beauty, please go here: Much Needed Self-Care: Generation Beauty 2014

Generation Beauty is a makeup convention sponsored by ipsy which started in 2013 with 1000 attendees (as announced at the start of the event). Since then, Generation Beauty has grown to over 4000 attendees, with an additional convention taking place in the fall in New York. The two-day event starts on Friday night with a special invite-only party for special guests. Following that are two days where attendees have an opportunity to mingle with representatives from various makeup brands and attend mini-panels with their favorite bloggers and vloggers.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to everything makeup related. While I spend more than I'd like to admit on cosmetics, I do not follow any makeup bloggers/vloggers and frankly have questionable makeup application abilities. In fact, my morning makeup routine involves applying sunscreen, quickly drawing on eyeliner (and mascara if I feel like it), and slapping on blush/powder before running out the door to sit in traffic. If I remember, I apply lipstick/gloss once I get to work (in non-patient care areas as per OHSA guidelines).

Generation Beauty appeals to me not only because I get to learn more about makeup, but because I get hundreds of dollars worth of free swag! As someone who tries to live on a budget, I can't help but love free stuff! Here's a rundown of the weekend:

Saturday morning, I show up to L.A. Live to check in and pick up my badge for the weekend. Included with the badge is a tote bag (to hold swag), a sheet of coupons you exchange at each booth for makeup, coupons for Saturday and Sunday's swag bags, and a box of water!

Boxed Water is Better Generation Beauty
Water in a box!
Upon entering the venue, my friend and I made a beeline to the Bare Minerals booth, one which had notorious long lines last year. We were the last people in line before staff members closed it off, likely for fire code reasons. Typically, the booths with the longest lines offered some service such as makeovers, hairstyling, foundation color matching, and interactive games for prizes. For those considering going to Generation Beauty next year, I highly recommend comfortable shoes and a lot of patience as you will be standing in line most of the day! Another tactic is to bring a friend so you can take turns exploring other booths while the other waits in line!

L.A. Live Generation Beauty
The inside of L.A. Live, where Generation Beauty is held
Another important item to bring to Generation Beauty is your smartphone (or wifi supported device). Generation Beauty is a social media heavy event, with many companies offering freebies if you tweet/facebook/instagram using certain hashtags. Additionally, if you had the Generation Beauty app, you could check into certain booths for additional freebies (on top of the paper coupons).

IT Cosmetics Generation Beauty
Many companies offered freebies for posting certain hashtags on social media. IT Cosmetics gave me a tote bag for posting this pic!
My friend and I spent day one focusing on getting as many free stuff as possible. By the end of day one, I had managed to fill an entire tote bag with makeup, not including a swag bag given to each attendee. It certainly felt like Halloween, but less sugary.

Day One Swag Haul Generation Beauty
Generation Beauty Day One Haul

Contents of Day One Swag Bag Generation Beauty
Contents of Day One Swag Bag
On day two, I focused more on experiencing the convention than collecting free stuff. I had exchanged most of my coupons by the end of day one, and while Greyhound fortunately allows for a second carry-on bag, I was fast running out of space! Hence, I spent the day getting my hair done at Oscar Blandi and getting a makeover at the Smashbox booth. It's not everyday I get to try out a new hairstyle or have a makeup artist work on my face! Sadly, day two was only four hours long and over way too soon!

Day Two Swag Haul Generation Beauty
Generation Beauty Day Two Haul
Day Two Swag Bag Generation Beauty
Contents of Day Two Swag Bag
 Here are some of my favorite swag from the weekend:
Too Faced Born This Way Foundation Generation Beauty
Too Faced Born This Way Foundation
While Too Faced had a really long line that was frequently closed off, the wait was worth it as they color matched you to their latest foundation and have you a full-sized bottle! This foundation doesn't launch until June 15, so it was great of Too Faced to be so generous with their sneak peak.

Jouer Sparkle & Shine Holiday Party Favor Generation Beauty
Jouer Sparkle & Shine Holiday Party Favor
Jouer Sparkle & Shine Inside Contents Generation Beauty
Inside contents minus noisemaker
Jouer was definitely one of the more generous booths of Generation Beauty, giving away two lipsticks, a small box of samples, and this adorable party favor with a mini lip gloss, accessories, and noisemaker (not pictured). I may get a few of these favors to give away as gifts this holiday season!

tre'StiQue Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon Generation Beauty
tre'StiQue Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon in Florence Fig and Rose Balm
tre'StiQue Booth Generation Beauty
Generation Beauty tre'StiQue Booth
One of my favorite booths at Generation Beauty was tre'StiQue, a new company specializing in travel-friendly makeup. As someone who travels frequently, I love the idea of space minimizing multitaskers, especially when it comes to makeup! While technically not a freebie, I got their matte color and shine balm lip crayon for 15% off and hope to try their other products in the future!

Tote Bag Pacifica Beauty Generation Beauty
Tote Bag from Pacifica Beauty
In an attempt to pack light, I traveled down to Southern California with a small rolling duffel bag. Sadly, it was not enough to fit all the swag I received during Generation Beauty. Fortunately, Pacifica Beauty gave away this sturdy canvas tote which safely held all my goodies during the long bus ride up to the Bay Area.

Generation Beauty is a young convention that is rapidly growing in size. At this rate, unless ipsy decides to implement more stringent capping measures, I anticipate that the event may have to eventually move to a larger venue. I'm excited for Generation Beauty's potential, and hope to continue attending more conventions in the future!

What an busy and eventful week an a half! Now it's time to recover from whatever bug I contracted, make money, and plan my next series of excursions. Yay for summer travel!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

(not so) Cheap Social Worker Spends Too Much Money on Disneyland Food (60th Diamond Anniversary Spring Edition)

I usually spend the week after Clockwork Alchemy and Fanime generally feeling down and in the dumps because one of my favorite annual events is done. This year, I decided to temper that sadness by taking a short trip to Disneyland before Generation Beauty! With Disneyland celebrating their 60th Anniversary, I was excited to view the decorations, watch the new shows, and taste more food!

As we all know, Disney parks generally do not have cheap food. However, compared to other parks, Disney puts effort into providing dishes that are generally of good quality. My hope is that through these food posts, you can make a more informed decision on which foods are worth paying for and what to avoid! Please follow my advice at your own discretion and know that I am not affiliated with Disney in any way, shape, or form except for being a fangirl with a season pass! That said, here are the foods I ate during this trip:

*NOTE* ANNUAL PASS HOLDERS: Don't forget to show your annual pass for an extra 10-15% off! Might not seem much, but that savings can at least knock off taxes!

Day 1 (Arrival Day)

Disneyland 60th Birthday Diamond Anniversary
Welcome to Disneyland's 60th Birthday Celebration! Where's my cake?

Lunch/Dinner: Plaza Inn Fried Chicken ($15.99 + tax)

After a long Megabus ride to Anaheim, it was time for a late lunch/early dinner. Having perused multiple blogs discussing Disneyland food and read rave reviews, I opted for the fried chicken served by Disneyland's Plaza Inn on Main Street.

Disneyland 60th Diamond Anniversary Food Plaza Inn Fried Chicken
Plaza Inn Specialty Fried Chicken


For $14.99 you get three pieces of chicken (wing, thigh, and breast), green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a biscuit. Drinks are extra, so I just had a glass of water. Honey for the biscuits can be found in the condiments section past the cash register.

Disneyland 60th Diamond Anniversary Food Plaza Inn Fried Chicken

In all honesty, the green beans and mashed potatoes reminded me of standard hospital cafeteria food and were forgettable. The biscuit was somewhat dry, and would have been better if I found the honey before I finished my meal. The chicken, however, was cooked just how I liked it, with lots of very crispy skin (my favorite part) and juicy meat. While not the best fried chicken I've ever had, I left Plaza Inn feeling satisfied with my meal and quite stuffed. Given the large serving (as it should be for $14.99), I'd bring a friend, order dessert, and split the fried chicken platter next time.

Snack: Honey Bee Frozen Lemonade from Hungry Bear Restaurant ($5.99 + tax)

Disneyland 60th Diamond Anniversary Honey Bee Lemonade
Honey Bee Frozen Lemonade
Most Disneyland and California Adventure food establishments have released limited edition food items in celebration of Disneyland's 60th birthday. One such specialty drink is the Honey Bee Frozen Lemonade at Disneyland's Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country.

This beverage is essentially a frozen pink lemonade with whipped cream and a hard candy honey stick. Frozen blended lemonade is one of my favorite forms of hydration at Disney (next to the Dole Pineapple float), so this drink did not disappoint. My favorite part is actually the honey stick, which unfortunately only extends about an inch into the whipped cream. The next time I order this drink, I may have to beg the staff for extras! Disney, if you're reading this, please sell those honey sticks individually because they are delicious!

The worst part of this drink is the $5.99 price tag. If you don't care for the honey stick or whipped cream, there are definitely cheaper frozen lemonade options in the park.

Snack: Matterhorn Macaroon ($1.99 + tax) and Abuelita ($2.79 + tax) from Carnation Cafe

Matterhorn Macaroon Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Matterhorn Macaroon and Abuelita
After a magnificent fireworks show commemorating Disneyland's 60th Anniversary, it was time for a late night snack before heading out for the day. Having read many reviews about the Matterhorn Macaroon, I decided to head to Disneyland's Carnation Cafe on Main Street try the cookie. Since it was starting to get chilly outside, I also got a cup of Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate.

Matterhorn Macaroon Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration Birthday
Matterhorn Macaroon
Not to be confused with a macaron or French macaroon, the Matterhorn Macaroon is a coconut macaroon shaped to look like the ride with its namesake! This cookie incorporates flavors and textures from both coconut and almond, and is dipped in white chocolate for an extra decadent treat. While I am normally not a fan of coconut macaroons, I loved the Matterhorn Macaroon thanks to the inclusion of almond and chocolate flavors. At $1.99, it's something I would get again!

Abuelita Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration Birthday
Abuelita
While I typically love Abuelita, I was greatly disappointment in how the Carnation Cafe prepared this beverage. To me, the drink was watery and tasted as if the hot water pot was not fully rinsed out after being soaped. This could be due to the water quality in Southern California, or the staff actually not rinsing the hot water pot adequately after cleaning it. Don't waste your money!

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration Birthday
Good night, Main Street!

Day 2


Breakfast: Free Hotel Food!

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Hotel Breakfast Food
Even though my parents typically bring a rice cooker and various canned meats when we go to Disneyland, I still attempt to book hotels with hot breakfasts included. Since I'm usually in a hurry to get to the park in the morning, I like the idea of not having to worry about food prep and clean-up. For this trip, I lucked out because I managed to get a heavily discounted room at a place that serves delicious hot breakfast food!

Snack: Cream Cheese Pretzel from Pretzel Cart next to Star Tours ($4.75, no tax, no annual pass discount)

Cream Cheese Pretzel Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Birthday 60th Celebration
Cream Cheese Pretzel
In my previous Disney food post, I raved about the cream cheese pretzel and stated that I would get my own next time. Well, next time is here, and the cream cheese pretzel is as delicious as ever! At this rate, it may even replace the churro as my go-to snack!

Cream Cheese Pretzel Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Sweet Cream Cheese Filling
While I purchased this pretzel next to Star Tours in Disneyland's Tomorrowland, I believe there is another cart that sells them along the path leading to It's A Small World in Disneyland's Fantasyland.

Lunch: Chili Cone Queso from Cozy Cone Motel ($7.49 + tax, no annual pass discount)

Chili Cone Queso Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Chili Cone Queso
Hungry for lunch, but not wanting a large meal, I headed over to California Adventure's Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land to try out their Chili Cone [sic] Queso. For $7.49 + tax you get a large bread cone filled with beef chili topped with shredded cheddar cheese and corn chips. For those of you who don't like chili or don't want to deal with bloating issues, there's also a bacon macaroni and cheese option and a new chile verde!

Chili Cone Queso Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Chili Cone Queso side view

Chili Cone Queso Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Biting into the bread cone
The Cozy Cone Motel does a great job with their chili, and the corn chips provide added crunch and flavor. While the bread cone is generally flavorless, lacks absorbency (for good reason), and has the texture of a flattened loaf of bread, I will admit that it's leak-free and makes for a great conversation starter. Overall, the Chili Cone Queso was a satisfying meal and I look forward to trying other cones in future visits!

Snack: Red's Apple Freeze from Cozy Cone Motel ($4.69 + tax, no annual pass discount)

Red's Apple Freeze Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Red's Apple Freeze
After finishing the Chili Cone Queso, I wanted something cold and refreshing to drink for dessert. I ordered a cup of Red's Apple Freeze, which consists of blended frozen apple juice, marshmallow syrup, and mango-passionfruit whipped cream.

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Cozy Cone Motel
On mistake I made was not stirring the marshmallow syrup into the blended frozen apple juice, as my first sip resulted in a mouth full of syrup! After mixing, the concoction tasted somewhat like frozen caramel apple cider. I didn't really care for the mango-passionfruit whipped cream, though, as it tasted like flowers to me. Not sure if I'll order this again, but I'm glad I was able to try it!

Snack: Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus from Bengal Barbeque ($4.19 + tax)

Bacon-wrapped asparagus Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus and a cup of water
After eating so many bread and sugar-filled substances, I started craving vegetables. Hence, I headed over to Bengal Barbeque in Disneyland's Adventure to try out their Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus (I never said I wanted healthy vegetables). As I was ordering, I spoke to a cast member named Mike who commented on the greatness of my Citi Forward Credit Card (which gives you 5x reward points for restaurant purchases). If you're out there, Mike, know that you're awesome and have great taste in credit cards!
 
bacon-wrapped asparagus Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus
The bacon-wrapped asparagus consisted of chopped asparagus individually wrapped in bacon, grilled, and served with a lemon slice. I especially liked that they chopped the asparagus before wrapping and grilling because it makes it so much easier to eat than a whole asparagus stalk.

While I'd probably order this again, I feel like two orders are needed for an adequate meal, and I'd hesitate to pay $8.38 + tax for something I could easily make at home.

Souvenir: Dinoco Oil Can Sipper w/fountain drink included from Cozy Cone Motel ($10.19 + tax, no annual pass discount)

Dinoco Oil Can Sipper Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Dinoco Oil Can Sipper
I spent a good amount of time debating whether to get the Dinoco Oil Can Sipper or Mickey Balloon Popcorn Bucket. In the end, I figured that I could actually use the sipper more often to keep water at work (and confuse/amuse my coworkers). It also helped that I'm a big fan of dinosaurs, and the brontosaurus logo looks similar to the logo on my favorite gas station. Yes, it's my favorite gas station because of the dinosaur (and the fact that the prices are typically the cheapest in my area).

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Dinosaur logo at my favorite gas station. See the resemblance?
After finishing up the oil, erm, root beer from my sipper, I was pretty stuffed. Hence, I spent the rest of the day watching shows and going on rides. While I wanted to try the special 60th Anniversary Chocolate Cake, I lost track of time and the restaurants closed! Will have to try again next time!

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Carthay Circle Restaurant decorated for the occasion!

Day 3 (Blockout day)

Breakfast: Free Hotel Food! I love biscuits and gravy!

Lunch: Gumbo Ya Ya from Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Express ($7.99 + tax)
 
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Gumbo Ya Ya
Unfortunately, I my season pass was blocked out on day 3, so I spent the morning exploring Downtown Disney before catching the bus to my friend's place. For lunch, I ordered gumbo from Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Express, the quick service version of the more expensive Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. Described on the menu as a "rich Roux-based Soup, Chicken and Andouille Sausage", I'm sure this gumbo is identical to the one served inside, except in a plastic takeout bowl at a fraction of the price. Don't forget that the Disney annual pass discount also applies to all Downtown Disney restaurants!

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Birthday Celebration
Goodnight, Sleeping Beauty Castle!
As usual, I was sad to leave Disneyland, especially since I am now blocked out until mid-August. However, my family (who all requested shirts) were excited to see my pictures and have every intention of making a trip to Disney before the end of this year. In fact, since coming home I've already booked a family room for November so we could see Diamond Anniversary themed Christmas decorations! I can't wait!