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Announcing Lemonade Restaurant Palo Alto opening this Friday



Lemonade Palo Alto


Great news Palo Alto, Lemonade Restaurant is set to open this Friday, June 24, at the newly redesigned 151 University Avenue location.


This will be Lemonade’s second of 6 planned locations in the Bay Area. The first opened two months ago in the Buena Yerba area in San Francisco, and more locations to open in Walnut Creek, Burlingame, Sunset and West Portal.  With  22 other locations in Southern California –  Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County, Lemonade is now heading North to share its highly popular restaurant concept with our Bay Area residents.

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Ten Great Gift Ideas for Teachers – thoughtful and for any budget!

gift ideas for teachers


Ten Great Gift Ideas for Teachers – thoughtful and for any budget!


The end of the school year is often marked by the graduations, promotions, saying goodbye, the anticipation of summer, and of course the presentation of teacher’s gifts. It is almost here, and before we take off on the lovely family vacation or make our abode guest-ready, we need to spend some time to help our children pick out thoughtful gifts for their teachers . Teachers have a demanding, yet rewarding job, and we want to show our appreciation by offering an end of year gift that will be thoughtful and carefully selected.


There are quite a variety of options, although sometimes it is challenging to figure out what is just right for your child’s teacher.  Take a look at ten of our ideas and don’t forget to involve the kids!


Cup or water bottle:

There are many kinds of cups and water bottles so it should be easy to find the perfect fit for the teacher. If you are on a budget, Target sells some inexpensive ones (as low as $6). They come in all shapes and sizes. If you want a sturdy, long lasting cup you can get a Tervis Tumbler. They run from $9 and up – they have tons of themes. If you want to personalize the cup, try Etsy. They have many sleek designs and can be customized, but that takes a little longer. A cup can be enough, however, it is always awesome to put some small things in the cup: lemonade packets, straws, gift cards, chapstick, candy.


Grill kit:

What a great idea! It’s good for those hard to think of male gifts. Get a bucket – inexpensive ones at a dollar store, or a sturdy one at any store that has a solid home and garden center. Add some sauces, a new spatula, a pair of tongs, some rubs, and a towel. Make it really personal with a favorite summer-time recipe.


Movie kit:

Who doesn’t like a movie? This one is a real winner because it encourages relaxing. Get a popcorn bowl or basket.  Your favorite craft store usually has plastic ones, or you can even try dollar stores. Get a movie theatre gift card or even a Redbox gift card at www.redbox.com/gifts.  Add a bag of popcorn and a box of Skittles or another favorite candy.


School supplies:

Not supplies for the classroom, but for the teacher. Give them a pack of their favorite pens or markers. If the teacher is the creative, colorful type, visit any craft store and get some colorful binder clips, pens, and paperclips. Get a practical or fun container to hold the supplies. If you want to add a personal touch, there are plenty of DIY projects for supply holders.


Personalized planners or notebooks:

You don’t have to splurge and spend $50 on a Graphic Image Planner for your teacher, but there are other ways to get a notebook or planner and have it personalized. It can be a small to-do notebook from any dollar bins at most of your craft stores. You can stencil, paint, or use stickers to put the teacher’s name.  She or he will love the personal touch that your child will put into creating this special gift.


Coffee Gift Certificate:

Buy a mug, from the Dollar Store or the local pottery shop, fill it with a Starbucks gift card that fits your budget. Don’t worry, if you give a teacher this gift and they don’t drink coffee, Starbucks sells a lot of other yummy treats. They’ll use it for sure!


Flower pot DIY: 

Buy a terracotta pot (any size will do). Have your son or daughter paint it – finger paint, sponge paint or with a design – you name it. Then, help them write the teacher’s name on it. Make a butterfly out of your child’s feet or hands. If you are really crafty, paint it yourself and have your son or daughter pot the plant! You can do inexpensive petunias or impatiens that tend to do better in the hot summer. Use waterproof paint if you want the design to endure.  


DIY photo gifts: 

Let your child pick out one of their favorite pictures of themselves and send it off to Walgreens or Walmart or Shutterfly.com to get an ornament (Of course it is not the Holidays yet). Or have your child make a frame out of popsicle sticks or paint a wooden one from the craft store ($1). The effort a kid puts in touches a teacher’s heart.


Summer themed bucket:

This is a great idea that you can tailor to your teacher’s personality. Here are some ideas of things you can put in the bucket: a book (your local library probably has some for sale), gum or mints, a towel, sunscreen, fun sunglasses, a magazine they might like, their favorite drink, small gift cards, candy (but not a lot). The options are endless.


Inspirational decorations/a personal message:

Teachers need motivation! You can buy frames and signs and key chains, bookmarks or anything similar with inspirational quotes. If you love DIY, try painting a canvas or a frame and use Modge Podge to secure the quote. Teachers also really personal notes from their students. Many teachers keep boxes or folders of notes from kids. They are some of the most cherished gifts for a lot of teachers.


Why the Four Seasons Maui Wailea is an ideal destination for solo travel

Four Seasons Resort Maui Wailea solo travel 10


Why the Four Seasons Maui Wailea is an ideal destination for solo travel.


I was never a fan of traveling without my husband, or family, or a girlfriend, and for the past 17 years that I have known my husband, we have often traveled as a couple and explored destinations together.  However, on Mother’s Day in 2014, it all changed and I had to hold the suitcase to a solo ride. The unplanned destiny, however, made me realize that sometimes, it’s perfectly alright to travel alone, where I could be, just me! And spend time doing nothing at all, or perhaps do whatever I want whether it is the obvious spa treatments or long uninterrupted walks or even rest without the sound of screaming kids, or inquiring husband!

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LA’s favorite eatery, Lemonade, is coming to Palo Alto


LA’s favorite eatery, Lemonade, is coming to Palo Alto

Last night, I was invited to the grand opening of Lemonade San Francisco, the newest member of the Lemonade family of fast casual restaurants.  This is the first of a series of restaurants opening up in the Bay Area.
In a few weeks, Lemonade will be making its way to Palo Alto and opening a much larger restaurant on University Avenue, across from Pizza My Heart.

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So I am a co-founder of a Silicon Valley startup

Mayma Raphael and Eric Xu Konstella co-founders
Mayma Raphael and Eric Xu Konstella



I am now co-founder of a Silicon Valley startup.


Since moving to Palo Alto, I have been approached by a few companies to work as a consultant and advisor, and another mom and ex-googler approached me to join her as a co-founder of a Pinterest-like app for secondhand items. These other experiences were wonderful, but nothing ever clicked as this great opportunity.

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Mother’s Day Brunch and Dinner in the Palo Alto Area




Mother’s Day is that special time of the year when we all want to show our love and heartfelt appreciation to those special persons in our lives who dedicate their whole time and efforts to genuinely and unconditionally loving and guiding us. And what better way to show them we truly care than with a special brunch or dinner? This year, in an attempt to help you offer the special mom in your life a moment of pure relaxation and culinary excitement, we have worked on a list of ten exquisite restaurants and hotels in the Bay Area that offer special Mother’s Day menus.

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Our first encounter with Palo Alto Police Department

agent green palo alto police
Agent DuJuan Green


A few weeks ago some Palo Alto schools enforced code blue lockdown, due to a manhunt for a suspect. The students had received training or drills on code blue and code red, and staff and students knew exactly what to do in either circumstance. For code blue, all doors in and out of the classrooms and school are locked, and teaching continues in the classrooms.  Students are encouraged to continue with what they are doing until it was safe for them to go outside. Code red is a bit more serious, and children are directed to hide in their classrooms, curtains and blinds closed, lights out, all doors are locked and listen to instructions on when it is safe or free from active danger.


During the recent code blue lockdown, it seems that everyone at my children’s school were very composed and kept calm, except maybe for one little girl who was crying quietly at her desk, hearing police sirens and helicopters and she thought that whoever was near may soon come to her classroom.  That little girl was my dear 8 year old daughter. She would later tell me how scared she felt and she thought that she was in danger.  My heart sank to my feet. The principal had sent an email on the incident so we knew some of the details. I still felt helpless as I tried to reassure her that whoever the officers were looking for, was now in police custody and that she had nothing to fear.


The next day she refused to go to school and nothing I said would convince her to go. I attempted to put her at ease by saying that this was an isolated incident and that everything would be fine when she goes back to school and that her teacher who was away would be back. She still insisted that she was not going.  So after trying to negotiate to no avail, I told her that I had alerted her teacher that she would not be coming in for the day, and I would try to take her out and get her mind off the incident.


I was thinking on a whim and trying to figure out what to do to get her back to school soon, before too much time went by, and she would develop a fear of school. My plan for the day was also to reach out to the Palo Alto Police Department and see if they would allow her come by and speak to one of the officers, who can let her know that the suspect was caught, he is not a threat to our community and that if there was something more serious at school they would have implemented a code red.


So I called the Police Department and a lovely lady answered the phone. I told her about my unusual request to come by and she tried to transfer my call, but the officer that she was putting me through to was not at his/her desk, so she indicated that she will have someone contact me.  Within 5 minutes, an officer identified himself as Agent Green; that he is a School Resource Officer; and works with the schools during code drills and other community outreach programs, and he was here to listen to my request and see how he could help.


I went through the story with him, he listened.  He had the most comforting voice. He also gave me a briefing on code blue procedures, mentioned that they could be used for any eminent danger that needed to be contained, including gas leaks, a bob cat on the run, a very serious accident near school, etc.


It felt remarkably outstanding that this officer was taking his time to explain how I should handle the situation: how I should talk to my daughter, what I should say to her. It was a trying moment for me, as I wanted to be sensitive to the way she felt, at the same time I did not want her to dislike her home away from home.  Agent Green also gave me his direct mobile contact and said that I can contact him if I needed more help with the situation, or if there is anything he can do to help, please reach out.


I put on my brave mommy face, met my daughter in the playroom and did just as Agent Green indicated.  She was very attentive, and her attitude changed immediately. After a brief moment, she said that she would go to school under one circumstance.  So when she requested that Agent Green meet her at school, I did not know how the request would have been received, but Agent Green happily obliged, and we drove into the school together just before lunch. He met with her for a brief moment, she smiled because she recognized him from her drills.  He gave her a badge for being a very brave girl, a few stickers and reassured her that everything will be ok. He would later contact me to find out how her day went and was pleased to hear that she was happy to be back at school again.


I was just blown away by how compassionate and considerate Agent Green was, and how he helped me with a very challenging situation, taking time away from his busy schedule.  With all the recent negativity that surrounds police departments within the US, it was so amazing to attest that our experience with Palo Alto Police Department and Agent Green in particular has been exceptional.   It is obvious that Agent Green’s training and personality and the culture that surrounds our Police Department allowed him to use his judgement and make a great effort to show empathy, compassion and a great sense of community.  Thank you Agent Green, for taking the time to help make a difference in our lives.

A blog about a family of five in Palo Alto

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