Tulum Family Travel

Traveling with kids to Tulum, Mexico, was one of the best family vacations. We got to experience a small-town feel, white-sand beaches, warm weather, local ingredients, craft cocktails and a wonderfully contagious “chill” vibe that made us all want to stay much longer. Thankfully, I started this travel post weeks after our vacation so I can virtually relive Tulum before another super-charged school year begins.

La Zebra
La Zebra Tulum MexicoHighlights: family-friendly staff, beautiful and well-maintained surroundings, uncrowded, rustic-chic mixed with modern Mayan design, in-room fridge stocked daily with complimentary bottled water and other refreshments, the front desk team is amazing | lazebratulum.com

Tulum BeachHighlights: soft white sand, long walks, baby turtle nests, friendly iguanas, thatch roof umbrellas

Tulum Holiday with Kids
Tulum Beach KelpWhile we were there, a good glob of kelp washed up to the shores every day. And every morning, an army of men would remove the green invader. I’ll admit, there was quite a bit. However, that didn’t deter any of us from swimming, boogie boarding and enjoying the water.

Mayan Ruins
Mayan Ruins Coba MexicoStarred Photos: Private Tour Guide Kay
Highlights: early risers beat the crowds, historic landmarks, bicycling through the forest, Mayan Red Bull (homemade juice with bee pollen)

Akumal Beach
Akumal Beach Playa del Carmen MexicoHighlights: turquoise water, sea turtles, stingrays

Akumal Sea TurtlesPhotos: Private Tour Guide Kay

Cenote Chikin-Ha
Tulum Cenote Chikin-HaHighlights: most breathtaking ancient sinkholes, underwater caves, clean bathrooms and showers, nice picnic areas, peaceful, underground river

Sian Kaan Tulum FishingPhotos: Private Tour Guide Kay
Highlights: fishing in the Sian Ka’an biosphere, catch & release bonefish, permit fish, snapper, and puffer fish, spotted a barracuda, incredible water color and clarity, having an amazing guide who found this spot (thank you Kay)

Places to Eat
Posada Margherita
Posada Margherita Tulum Highlights: stone-tablet menus (yes it felt a bit religious), handmade pasta, good wine recommendations, staff sits with you to explain menu | posadamargherita.com

Posada Margherita Tulum

Casa Banana
Casa Banana Tulum MexicoHighlights: Argentine cuisine in the jungle, Argentine foosball table, cool mixologists | casabananatulum.com

Casa Banana Tulum Mexico

La Zebra
La Zebra Restaurant TulumHighlights: familiar dishes with local twist, staff treats you family, fresh coconut water, Cochinita Pibil (pulled pork), personal touch: when I felt sick (not from La Zebra) the staff made me a special chicken broth that was not on the menu

* We didn’t have a chance to visit Hartwood Tulum, but friends have told us it’s a must for food lovers.

Coqui Coqui Perfumerie
Coqui Coqui Perfumerie Tulum MexicoHighlights: locally-designed clothing, accessories and perfumes, beach-access boutique located in a lovely residence & spa, discovered a new favorite scent Coco Coco for summer, my daughter found her first perfume Rosas Secas – a soft floral that can be worn everyday, unique craftsmanship | Coqui Coqui Tulum

– Bring Florastor Probiotics for children’s florastor and adults. Start taking it before you leave and everyday on your holiday. You never know when a family member might encounter nasty bacteria from food, water or ice cubes

– Bring lots of mosquito repellent and sunscreen. If you plan to go out in the evening, don’t forget to put on repellent as most restaurants are outdoors.

– Use the most reliable ATM at the Chedraui, near the entrance of Tulum. We had some trouble taking out cash with the smaller machines scattered throughout Tulum.

– For a very personalized tour of Tulum and the surrounding areas, hire a knowledgeable and trustworthy tour guide. We LOVED Kay (pronounced Kie, rhymes with pie) whose expertise added so much depth and fun to our family visit. And he had a great sense of humor! You can read more about his work at Private Tour Guide Kay

– I really wanted to love Aktun Chen. With the zipline, underground river and animal conservation, I really wanted to love this place. When we arrived, it was crowded with visitors. While we waited for the next available staff person to help us, we saw Sammy. Sammy is a monkey who, according to a sign next to his habitat, is under recovery. One of the keepers told us that Sammy has been there since birth, four years now. I watched Sammy carry his own chain, which was wrapped around his neck, so he could simply move around. He could barely reached his food and water. I felt sad knowing he wasn’t under any shade, and that day was extremely hot. As I stared through the glass, I wondered why Aktun Chen didn’t give him a bigger habitat or longer chain or some shade. Sammy just kept pacing back and forth. Call me emotional but I gathered everyone, got into the car and drove away (sobbing). We never went inside the park so this really isn’t a fair or fully informed critique. I do hope there were happy jungle animals inside.

All images taken by Lizelle Green unless otherwise noted.

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12 Things to ❤️ at Mourad

Housed in one of my favorite downtown buildings, resides the beautiful Mourad. Aside from wanting to try Chef Lahlou’s new Moroccan recipes, I also wanted to check out the interior. The images from magazines and through the windows always looked swoon-worthy. Martin and I, along with the best dining partners, reveled in an evening of celebratory cocktails, good food, interesting wines, rich decor and our usual lively conversation… with lots to love at Mourad…

Cocktails at Mourad San Francisco1. The Cocktails
They have some delightful drinks like the Road to Marrakesh with Amaro Montenegro and curry (pictured bottom right). I had the Blue Suede Shoes with bourbon, grapefruit, blueberry shrub and elderflower (pictured left), which deserved a second round.

Mourad San Francisco2. The Bar
Don’t forget to look up and appreciate the well-designed bar while you enjoy a sip or two. Exposed brick never gets old.

Mourad San Francisco3. Floor Treatment
Then casually look down and admire the tile and rug pairing. Classy.

Mourad San Francisco4. Rich Texture
When you first enter, don’t miss the twisty detail of fallen wood against the industrial metal stairwell. Would love to know the design process behind this vignette.

Mourad San Francisco5. Sauces
These come at the beginning of your meal so pace yourself as you indulge in their spicy, sweet and savory secret sauces.

Mourad San Francisco6. The Kitchen
Mise en place (French for “everything in its place”). It’s a beautiful thing at Mourad.

Mourad San Francisco7. Modern Decanting
There’s something both quirky and sophisticated about decanting wine in a beaker. I’m a fan.

Mourad San Francisco8. Kanpachi
You may not want to share this one, especially with the mouth-watering cilantro and Harissa sauce.

Mourad San Francisco9. Tomato & Melon
This is what you get when you mix tomato, melon, hazelnut, cucumber and lemon confit in a bowl. Not much to look at but the flavors will blow your mind.

Mourad San Francisco10. Simple Dishes
Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best. If you like lamb (I love lamb!), this one should be on your must-order list.

Mourad San Francisco11. Dessert
I typically go for a post-dinner cheese platter, but they did not offer one. And thank goodness, the honey and almond with beeswax, granita and orange blossom was one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted (and probably rivals many cheese platters). Don’t miss this one.

Mourad San Francisco12. A Feast
Take your family and friends and make sure you have at least four diners in your group. With so many taste sensations, you’ll want to nibble on as many dishes as possible, and family style is the way to go.

Mourad | 415.660.2500
140 New Montgomery Street, Suite 1, San Francisco, California 94105

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Pink Zebra San Francisco

Pink Zebra San Francisco lantern lights

Pink Zebra
415.285.4926 | 3515 20th St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Why I Love This Place
You can sit at the bar and chat with their wise sushi chef.

They serve the most beautiful bioluminescent shrimp.

The sushi chef is also the DJ.

He plays Jamaican Ska, on vinyl!

Where else can you have sea grapes in a salad?

They let me take pictures.

That name.

It’s one of the best omakase experiences EVER.

Chef Jesse Kolde.

True craftsmanship.

Pink Zebra sea grapesOne bite and these sea grapes gently add a burst of salt water to the meal.

Pink Zebra Sushi TrayRidiculous, right?

Pink Zebra Omakse With the amount of attention given to each individual piece of sushi, I almost felt like we were in Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Pink Zebra Tamago SushiThey’ve perfected tamago.

Pink Zebra OpaleyeThe opaleye is opalicious.

Pink Zebra Bioluminescent Shrimp This is the finest melt-in-your-mouth bioluminescent shrimp.

Pink Zebra Skull DecorDon’t forget to tip.

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Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father's DayFunny, these are the same essentials you’d find in my WOMAN THINGS. Great minds eat alike.

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San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2015

A few weeks ago, my friends and I attended one of my favorite local events, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase. The annual event is an exciting visual experience, as you walk through each uniquely designed space. And it’s never boring. Last year, I took less pictures and focused on a few favorites, the kids bedroom and cocktail cubbies. This year, armed with my iPhone 6, I took more pictures with a variety of captured moments. I started on the main level, moved up to the third floor then ended at the lower level, where you’ll see the hanging-cast-arms lighting fixture. Hauntingly cool. If you’re visiting San Francisco in April or May and want to feel like you’re walking through the pages of a design magazine, be sure to add this event to your calendar. You can get more information San Francisco Decorator Showcase.

kitchen-vignette-navarra-designKitchen Vignette by Navarra Design

tea-room-jute-designsSalon de Thé by Jute Home

tea room jute designSalon de Thé by Jute Home

spray-paint-can-artSpray Paint Can Art in Street Soiree by Cecilie Starin Design (Bravo to my fellow Modern Art Council SFMOMA member on the room!)

Spray paint can art - up closeSpray Paint Can Art Up Close in Street Soiree by Cecilie Starin Design

Hanging egg shellsDyed Egg Shells in Fireplace in Street Soiree by Cecilie Starin Design

His Office by Brittany HainesHis Office by Authenticity B. Designs

Shredded paper artShredded maps hanging above the staircase, artist unknown

Decorator Showcase SF En Vogue SalonEn Vogue Salon by Artistic Designs for Living

Decorator Showcase SF Gentleman's Private LoungeA Gentleman’s Private Lounge by Eche Martinez

Decorator Showcase SF Karter's Krash PadKarter’s Krash Pad by Willem Racké Studio

Decorator Showcase Karter's BathKarter’s Bath by De Meza + Architecture

Decorator Showcase SF Karter's BathKarter’s Bath by De Meza + Architecture

Decorator Showcase SF Pent RoomPent Room by Green Couch Interior Design

Decorator Showcase SF Nest DesignLip Service Bathroom by Nest Design | Artwork by Tauba Auerbach and curated by my talented friend Tatem Read

Decorator Showcase SF Gold cast arms hanging from ceiling by Lizette Marie Interior Design

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Simple Shrimp Salad

shrimp salad recipe

1 lb. wild shrimp, peeled and deveined
1-2 tsps. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 C. arugula
Mango salsa (store bought)
2 flour tortillas (optional)

When I’m in a pinch, I like to use a mix of homemade and store-bought ingredients. Here, I used the mango salsa (love) at Whole Foods, you’ll find it in the cold produce section. It’s fresh and goes so well with shrimp and fish. I like to eat this dish as a salad but my husband enjoys it as a wrap. Both are super tasty!

Mix paprika, garlic powder, cumin and kosher salt in a small bowl. Put aside. Place shrimp in a Ziploc bag. Pour dry mix into bag, seal, and shake. Store in refrigerator overnight.

Warn pan over medium-high heat. Pour olive oil in pan. Once hot, place one layer of shrimp on pan. I was able to place all the shrimp on a 12″ pan. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, more if you want them crispy brown.

Prepare plates with a warmed tortilla and generous helping of arugula. Place shrimp on top of salad and top with a few spoonfuls of mango salsa.

Serves 2.

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Urban Putt

urban putt token
The magic token. This is what you need to start your journey through Urban Putt, a 14-hole indoor miniature golf course in San Francisco. If Alice in Wonderland and Salvador Dalí teamed up with the folks in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and mixed a little modern architecture and engineering, I believe they’d create something like this place. Although the mastermind design behind Urban Putt really does put it in a class of its own. The man behind the magic is Steve Fox, a former publisher and editor who has clearly moved on to greener pastures. My husband and I knew Steve from our days at CNET long, long ago (but now I’m dating myself). Urban Putt is a must-see for locals who appreciate ingenuity and out-of-towners who are tired of the usual tourist spots… and want to hang out in the hipster Mission District.

But if you really want to know why I love this place, read on:

Located near the entrance to the mini course and open at 11:00am on weekends, you can enjoy a drink while watching parents chase their kid’s errant golf balls. For late-night golfers, the bar is open until midnight for post-game burgers and cocktails. What’s not to love?

Homemade cherry soda for kidsurban putt cherry sodasHOMEMADE CHERRY SODA
Who does that? The kids were thrilled to watch our friendly bartender mix a made-to-order soda before their very eyes. And he even put a cherry on top.

Urban PuttDECOR
I love the steampunk-inspired designs, like this one at Hole 3: Penny Pitch.

Urban Putt

Urban Putt

Urban PuttGood Food
Miniature golf AND good food? This was an only-in-San-Francisco moment. After the game, we walked upstairs to their restaurant where we enjoyed poke, french toast, chilaquiles and a few snacks, including my favorite 4505 Chicharrones (bonus points).

Urban Putt Urban PuttProper Drinks
Here’s our friendly mixologist making my first (or second) pomegranate bellini, the Mother’s Day Special. It’s an impressive full bar for such a small space. So yes you can have a Manhattan.

Urban PuttSleepwalkers
My pictures are terrible, I couldn’t quite get a clear image of the sleepwalker installation by Dan Rosenfeld. We got jaw-dropping looks from our kids when the little “person” jumped out and touched their fingers. Watch the video for a complete story.

Urban PuttHole 2: Skeeball

Urban PuttHole 3: Penny Pitch

Urban PuttHole 9: Dia de los Muertos

Urban PuttHole 11: Golfland at the Beach

At the heart of it all, the putting green. A compact space that somehow manages multiple active golf balls through a carnival of obstacles, making each hole a journey of surprises. What a delight.

For the last hole, Fibonacci’s Finale, the ball rolls up and down and is lifted upward, then dropped into this wire grid container. Each ball is reused for the next player. There’s my girl adding our scores. I lost.

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