Blackberry Bistro

Blackberry cafe

There is nothing like Sunday morning brunch! After a strolling through your local farmers market, a good sermon or a jog around the park, hop in the car and head to Lower Hills side of Oakland for some good eats on the corner of Park and Wellington, at Blackberry Bistro!

Chai Soy Latte

Start your morning off with a delightful Chai Soy Latte – perfectly sweeten, this little cup of sugar and spice well get your taste-buds on the right track for what’s to come. Add a little whip cream on top for a personal touch!

Crepe Suzzete

With plenty of charming menu items like their Crepe Suzete, Crispy Potato Pancakes topped with granny smith apple sauce and crème fraîche…

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and Vanilla Orange scented French Toast (with caramelized banana’s if you will), all made from scratch using fresh local produce, you are guaranteed to leave with a mouth dribbling for more.

Mi Rancho

Known for their savory egg scrambles, the “Mi Rancho” is a customer favorite!

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Stop by for lunch and try their sultry Coconut Curry Noodles with portobello mushrooms or Grilled Green Chile Corn Cakes.

Serving breakfast (or brunch as I like to call it for those late bloomers) and lunch with seasonal specials, Blackberry Bistro is the place to be for a relaxing and comfy dining experience. With in and outdoor sitting, on a sunny day take in a breath of fresh air, embrace the warm California breeze and laugh with friends over a meal to remember!

Fruitvale Station

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The howling sound of the BART train produced nostalgic feelings of my childhood growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. The sounds also re-hatched memories of the tragic event on New Years 2009; a tragedy that sparked action, eventually leading to this very film – Fruitvale Station. Opening up with real life cell phone footage from the platform of Fruitvale Station in Oakland CA, the fatal shot that ended Oscar Grants life is fired and the screen goes blank.

The film transitions into the last day of Grant’s life, giving us an intimate picture at the intricacies of the young man whose death shook the nation. In the aftermath of his death, heightened and polarized opinions of the real life man swarmed in the media. Writer and director, Ryan Coogler made sure to introduce the audience to who Grant was beyond the headlines. An exceptional performance by Michael B. Jordan humanized a multi-dimensional Grant. As a Bay Area native within Grant’s age cohort, I could not help but watch the film and think that this could have been my schoolmate, my relative, my friend.

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The essence of life is found in the lives of those we touch. This story was told from the perceptive of the relationships Grant had with the most important people in his life – his daughter, mother, girlfriend, friends, and extended family. The social reality of his character was displayed on screen, helping the audience to connect with him not as a “good” guy, or “bad” guy but as a human being.

On screen Grant affectionately and playfully connects with his daughter, Tatiana – his pride and joy. A Daddy’s girl, endearing moments of the two racing, making funny faces, being comforted when scared, and sneaking her extra fruit snacks showcased the caring father he was. A flashback to Grant’s time in prison also reveals the mistakes he once made that kept him from being the father he wanted so badly to be. It too, showed the pain of his own mother, Wanda, played by Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, who grew tired of enduring the painful reality of visiting an incarcerated son, and comforting his daughter who could not comprehend his absence. This very flashback reminded Grant of his desire to change his life though he struggled with keeping a job and providing financial support for his family. Trying to keep a lie, we see the attempts Grant makes to right his wrongs.

A family celebration for Wanda’s birthday was the heart of the film, where the most important people in Grant’s life gathered unbeknownst to them, for the last time. Eating a traditional Gumbo dish for New Year’s Eve, the family did what we all do around the holidays-chow down with laughter and fun as their main course. Following, the BART ride to San Francisco was a fun and exciting thrill – slappin’ Mac Dre, a deceased Bay Area rapper, everyone on the train could be heard rapping, “I’m in the building and I’m feeling myself.” Anyone who has ridden BART on New Years knows the magnetic feelings of this party bus that empties into the dynamic streets of San Francisco. It’s was a celebration and Grant and friends did just that!

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One moment can change a lifetime. Throughout the film there were opportunities where one decision might have altered the fatal outcome. The looming hope of an alternate ending was present. However, a scuffle on the BART train led to the event we all hoped to escape – Grant and his friends being held on the platform by police. Even in these last few moments you can see the multi-faceted sides of Grant as he was angered by feeling unfairly targeted, while yearning so badly to get home to his family. By the time audiences witnessed the fatal shot fired, an excruciating pain accompanies. There were no dry eyes in the theater.

Following Grant’s family and friends we all anxiously waited in hope of Grant’s recovery, at Highland Hospital. Any Bay Area native knows the fear that accompanies the cold halls of this well-known trauma center. The audience joined Grant and wanted so badly to see his life work out for the best. This was our son, father, boyfriend, and friend. We had spent the last hour getting up close and personal with Grant and mourned his loss potential. What weighed heavy on our hearts was our knowledge that this was more than a movie; it was real life – a reality we dreaded.

The film closed with its final clip capturing Grant’s daughter at his 2013 Memorial service, reminding us of her immense lost.  A sorrowful feeling was partnered with hope and a call for us to cherish each moment we have with our loved ones because we never know when it will be our last.

Fentons Creamery

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It was the summer of 2010, and fresh out of college I trolled the city of Oakland in search for something sweet, cool and refreshing. While Rite Aid and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream had cured my sweet-tooth as a child, Fentons Creamery knew the song to my heart and on a late Friday or Saturday night served up to scoop of ice cream fit for the gods!

Fentons

Located on the infamous Piedmont Avenue, amongst trails of tasty hot-spots, Fentons hosts a variety of customers. Families celebrating birthday’s, softballs teams hanging out after the big game and ladies like us, just out for a little girl talk and something sweet!

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Old fashioned burgers, sandwiches and more are available for lunch and dinner. Most of us marvel with salivation in the presence of four different flavors of Sherbet, four flavors of yogurt and over thirty-three delectable flavors of ice cream, often choosing to skip the main course and go straight for dessert. Patrons favor: Rocky Road, Swiss Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Swirl!

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A family-owned company, Fentons Creamery was founded in 1894 – notable for their retro soda fountain appeal and most importantly their handcrafted ice cream and sauces. Do not fever lovelies if your preference is a sundae, try “The Black & Tan” sundae, a signature menu item made with their in-house invention “Toasted Almond Ice Cream.”

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Providing the community with a memorable experience at an age-old destination” – Fentons 119 year old philosophy, solidifies the family-oriented nature of this establishment. With friendly staff, outdoor sitting and delicious chili cheese fries (often our chosen “before dessert meal”), Fentons is the perfect venue for reuniting old friends, first dates and keeping things simple, to enjoy a deliriously delicious scoop of ice cream – my personal favorite: The Blueberry Sundae!

European Wax Center

Okay lovelies, today’s post is a little personal, but we’re family right?

Smiles and laughter was not what I expected my first time at the European Wax Center. In fact I had put it off for so long because I didn’t think I could endure what I thought would be the worst pain of my life. Now, let me kid you not, there is pain, but it’s nowhere near the amount of pain I had catastrophized in my head.

For starters when I made the appointment I was sold when the delightful receptionist told me my first time at European Wax Center would be half off AND I could be seen the same day!

Besides the affordable prices, I was matched with the perfect wax specialist. Gherri was patient and pleasant; the perfect match for a newbie! Now I must admit when I first laid down on the table I was freaking out! Shaking, sweaty, and did I mention I screamed as soon as the wax touched me. A bit dramatic I know.

Initially I didn’t think I would be able to complete the process but with each strip, I felt more comfortable and the pain eased.  When I saw how far I had gotten, that kicked the quitting spirit right out of me. If I had come this far I was going to finish! And I did!

Gherri coached me through every step of the way, taking her time to gently remove my “stubborn” hair. By the end I knew what to expect, how to breath, and I ended up making it all the way without crying! Did I mention Gherri and I had a blast while doing it?! My screams eventually turned into sighs and laughs. I must say I was pretty pleased with the outcome.

After only one time, I sort of feel like pro now! So if you would like to visit European Wax Center or any place to get a wax here are some tips I’d share from my experience with Gherri:

  1. Be hairy!: Do NOT shave before going to get a wax. You need to have at least ¼ inch of a hair, about the size of a grain of rice.
  2. Dress comfortably: You may be a little sensitive after so give yourself some wiggle room. 
  3. Plan Wisely: Because of potential sensitivity, especially if you’re a newbie, I would plan on a day when you can just chill afterwards. Give your body a little rest.
  4. Ask for Hard Wax: It’s less painful than other waxes
  5. Don’t freak yourself out: I was screaming before a strip had even been pulled off. Don’t hype yourself up. Pain differs for each person, although there will probably be some degree of pain, take it from a girl who used to cry EVERY time she got a shot, the pain is endurable.
  6. Breath!!: Inhale in and exhale out as the specialist removes the wax. It helps to reduce the pain, or at least take your mind off of it
  7. Apply Pressure: Gherri applied pressure with her hands on each area as she pulled a strip of wax off. This helped reduce the pain. I highly recommend!
  8. A little blood is okay: It’s natural. You are removing the roots of your hair!
  9. Powder helps!: The specialist will likely apply during the process.
  10. Use products: There are products available like lotions to care for your skin. Look into the one’s endorsed by your wax center.
  11. Stay on Top of It: If you want waxing to be your method of hair removal, stick to it by making regular appointments and don’t shave in between. The more you go, the more your body gets used to it, the more your hair thins out, the less pain.

I had the pleasure of visiting the El Cerrito Location in the SF Bay Area, but the European Wax Center is nationwide so find a location near you

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