I admit, this post is extremely overdue, but as you can probably guess from how delayed my posts have been, it’s obviously because I’ve been very busy, haha! But as the year comes to a close, I seem to have a need to catch-up on a lot of things in my life, blog posts included! And writing about ice cream pints that Enlightened graciously sent me over the summer? I’m glad I finally have some time to put together a review post!
The review box I received upon my return from Europe in early June contained the following flavors:
My sister was visiting me that week, and so I was happy to share some of the flavors with her as well 🙂
Butter Pecan – This flavor had a nutty flavor, with slight maple undertones. The pecan pieces had a roasted, crunchy texture despite being mixed into soft ice cream.
Chocolate – My sis had the privilege of trying this flavor. Of course, she was a fan. I suggested she wait a couple minutes to let the pint soften after taking it out from the freezer. She agreed that it had much creamier texture after doing so!
Toasted Almond – With Toasted Almond, the creamy ice cream with bite-size nut pieces was perfect enough as a simple treat—but then I added a mini Lenny & Larry’s chocolate chip cookie on top. A flavor explosion ensued 😛
Chocolate Peanut Butter – I forgot to take an “inside-the-pint” pic, but it was literally a smooth chocolate base with HUGE peanut butter chunks. It reminded me of Halo Top’s Peanut Butter Cup with the hardened peanut butter pieces, so this flavor was a winner in my book.
Snickerdoodle – Ahh, I had high hopes for this one…maybe I should have added a Snickerdoodle cookie as a topping. The ice cream itself was smooth and had a light cinnamon flavor, but maybe the addition of cookie pieces or cinnamon cake pieces would have done the trick to make this flavor a stellar one.
Vanilla Bean – I absolutely loved the smooth and creamy texture—literally like velvet! I even added one of my favorite bars from the summer, GoMacro’s Protein Replenishment! I’m still on Team GoMacro, but I was obsessed over the summer, haha!
I also happened to try two other flavors that I wasn’t sent, but were also new-to-me at the time. Found them at Sprouts, my all-time favorite grocery store (besides Grocery Outlet, haha):
Red Velvet – I found this to be a “dark” flavor, if that makes sense, haha! It looked like a dark chocolate, but it definitely had a lighter, milder flavor than a bitter dark chocolate (so, better than I expected!). I also liked the cream cheese swirl, and it reminded me of Frozen Hot Cocoa without the chocolate bits. It would have been cool however, if there were cake pieces thrown in!
Black Cherry – This was a flavor I definitely did not expect to be a favorite of mine, but it was smooth, had a light and fruity taste, and a fair mix of small chocolate chunks and chewy cherry pieces. It’s soft lavendar color was appealing too! Another cookie topping proved useful here too!
It feels good to get caught up on this review, haha! Looking back at all these pics is making me crave some ice cream now, and seeing that it’s going to be in the mid-80’s today by afternoon, it doesn’t seem like too crazy of an idea to have some 😛
The Saturday after my return to LA from my week in Tulsa was spent mostly sleeping, and catching up with myself emotionally. I didn’t have to go into lab, and honestly, didn’t feel like doing much since I was just feeling so exhausted.
I did manage to get some local brunch though, by finally making a trip to The OP Cafe. I could have had any of their brunch specials but I opted for nachos.
It was exactly what I was craving and it hit the spot.
I also found myself reflecting over a lot of things over this particular weekend, thinking about how there is literally one more month left in 2017, and despite all the crazy shenanigans and experiences this year, I can’t help but feel that this was the year I was finally able to turn over a new leaf.
I saw myself grow, adapt, and change over the months…as the seasons transitioned…as I finally came into my own. If I could use three words to describe my personal journey this year, it would have to be acceptance, confidence, and self-love—three things that I never thought I could fully feel for many years…
I entered January 2017 with a sense of determination (to continue with my physical and mental recovery from ED), but also a little bit of anxiety. I was anxious over having to prepare for my qualifying exam, and I know it got in the way of my recovery—I was body checking, worried about my measurements/weight, and having urges to binge on jars of Nutella or flavored nut butters. But as soon as my exam date passed and all went well, the cloud had been lifted and it was easier to tackle recovery once again.
In February I embraced the fact that I am a young, twenty-something woman who is going to feel feelings. I had a crush and I went with the flow. I felt giddy and happy for the first time, trying to hold onto this new set of feelings for dear life because it was like nothing I ever felt before.
March was more of the same…I was surprised that these feelings did hold on so long, but “the game” was getting tiring. The boy I ended up having feelings for was so hard to figure out. It was challenging, frustrating, and at times, left me with a sunken heart.
Aprilwas when I found out he had a girl already. The practical side of me tried to talk the emotional side of me out of it. But it was hard. I felt the aftermath physically…feeling a sense of fatigue you’d think could only be brought upon by a collision with a moving vehicle or a hard-ass workout. I tried to hate him, but I wanted to be nice. You know, just in case.
Maywas when I told myself I am perfect as I am, and I focused on me. I realized that I was able to cope with my triggers with ease, each and every passing day. I told my therapist after almost a year with her, that I felt it was time for me to move on. It was something I just felt in my gut.
I returned from an exciting, thrilling, exhausting, and blissful two weeks in Europe in June feeling refreshed, but also nervous about the tasks that lay before me at work. It was going to be another hectic summer. At least I had my sister with me for two weeks. I felt single and free and just…doing okay. But then I wondered, why did he walk alongside me to the train station? Why did it seem like he noticed me and smiled without me initiating? I started to wonder…did lab boy really have a girlfriend, or did he mean girl (insert verrrryyy long space here) friend ?
July was spent working and wondering. My feelings weren’t as intense as before, but when I saw him and we exchanged hellos or smiles, my heart would melt. I had a third party who promised to confirm his situation with me, an undergrad who wasn’t coming back until August! Until then, I worked hard, played hard (since I had my sister’s car for the month!), and shared a bunch of laughs with E. It was a pretty easy-going, chill month.
August was my birthday month, and while I couldn’t spend it with my family, my labmates E and J made my 25th day special. I went out for dinner with E at a restaurant that comped our meal in exchange for a blog post, and overall, it was just a good day. I finalized and confirmed a lot of things this month: that I would be going to Spain for a conference, that my sis would be moving to Mission Viejo, that I had another three over-nighters to pull in lab, and that, yes, he indeed meant girlfriend. Once again, I felt free. Still a bit salty about being single, but I felt (mostly) okay.
September started off in a hurried fashion. I was putting together my conference poster and finishing up those all-nighters/last minute experiments. Unlike the year before, I did not have Labor Day off…I spent the night before sleeping on the couch in my office. I put the labor in Labor Day—easy to laugh about it now! Sadly, I was even looking to my conference trip to Barcelona as something I needed to “check-off”…I didn’t have time to plan what I would do the one day there I would have for myself.
But when I flew off to Spain and arrived in Barcelona, the whole experience was refreshing and new. It was my first solo international trip and once I got past the jetlag and physical fatigue (thanks hormones…), I fell in love with Barcelona. At first I was nervous walking around, not knowing Spanish and clutching onto my purse in order to avoid pickpocket encounters. But the city was so clean, quiet, and beautiful in its own way. During the days of my conference, I was able to interact more with people, and since the conference was in a beachside town, I was surprised with the most gorgeous views of the Mediterranean. It was unlike anything I had seen before.
By the time Octobercame around, I had a hard time getting back into my usual routine. After coming back from a place like Spain, things can never be the same, haha! And the fact that I met a guy who seemed to be smart and charming? Didn’t help at all.
We only did have one conversation while I was there, and it would have been nice to have gotten to talk to him more and get to know him better. After confiding with my friends, they encouraged me to do a daring thing and leave a note for him before I left.
Given the circumstances, I didn’t expect anything to result from this “bold move” but we did exchange messages, at least for a little while, upon my return. Again, it was a battle between my practical and emotional self in regards to how things would turn out realistically, but if anything, all of this proved I could move past my feelings for lab guy!
It also felt nice to do something that required me to be a little more confident 😉
When November rolled in, I was starting to feel mentally exhausted, but I was also starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for one of the projects I’m working on. Of course, in the world of science, that can always take a turn, but for now I can say my efforts in that foray are coming together. I also had the chance to spend a week with my Dad, run my 5th marathon, and embrace Thanksgiving with what I would say a pretty close to a full recovery from ED kind of mind. Even my Dad noticed all of the changes he saw me in that week compared to times past, and he couldn’t have been happier.
And now as December is here, and as this year comes to a close, I can’t help but wonder how 2018 will be. This month has already gotten off to a tough start, but based on all the things that have happened this year, and the skills and life lessons I’ve acquired, I think I have the ability to make it through.
As of right now, I’m totally feeling sad over the fact that I may lose my lab bestie if she isn’t able to secure a post-doc position here by the end of the year. There’s also the work that my projects require that seem to be never-ending…
I do hope that despite what 2018 may have in store, I am able to build on all that I have gained in this year, and that it makes me a stronger woman on all fronts 💪
It’s been a little over a week since I was in Tulsa, but unfortunately it just feels like time was frozen for that entire time, because when I went back to work on Monday, it felt like the trip never happened.
Well, I guess it’s what these blog posts are for, right?
We decided to take a day trip to Oklahoma City (OKC) since it was a drive, but local enough to call it a daytrip.
It was a cold morning, like all the other mornings that week, and after some morning coffee and a shakeout run (my muscle soreness seemed to calm down three days post-marathon), we left for OKC around 10am. From Tulsa, it was an one and a half hour drive.
I didn’t have much of an appetite when we left, but when we reached OKC, my head was aching and my hunger levels were increasing.
Apparently OKC is the the eighth-largest city in the U.S. by land area. And it was apparent..sure there were shops and infrastructure, but there was a whole lotta uninhabited land in between.
For lunch, we paid a visit to Green Goodies in Classen Curve.
It was primarily a cupcake shop, but they had some savory lunch options available.
I had their Southwest Quinoa Bowl since the avocado and spicy cream sauce sounded most appetizing to me at the time. My Dad had some more soup (lolol) and a veggie wrap.
The bowl was small, but definitely flavorful, warm, and filling for its size.
My dad’s soup and wrap looked like too meager to me, but he was alright with just that. He was starting to feel warm (later he ended up getting sick with a fever 🙁 ), so it was just enough for him.
After lunch, I noticed that my headache still seemed to linger around, and I feel like it was made worse thanks to the car drive. I tried to nap it off, but I didn’t want to leave the car and brace the wind chill once we got to the OKC Memorial.
But I eventually did get out…
The memorial was a bittersweet, but beautiful display. There were two large gates guarding two opposite sides of the memorial, marked with the relevant times the bombings took place. Chair statues on the lawn represented the lives that were lost, and there was a reflecting pool in the middle.
My dad and I went inside the museum after walking around the memorial grounds, where it was much warmer. Once inside, we walked through two floors of exhibits, organized from the day of the event all the way through the investigations, aftermath, and the influence this tragedy had on the events in years to come.
I definitely walked out with an understanding and empathy for those that suffered, even though I was just a toddler when the bombings happened. After spending about two hours at the memorial, my dad and I stopped for some coffee before going for a walk at one of the nature parks. Soon after, we made the long-ish drive back home, just before it got dark.
Thanksgiving was the next day, and I did my best to enjoy and relax in each and every minute. I started off the day with a shakeout run, taking in fall views of the Arkansas River.
We had a Thanksgiving potluck at a friend’s house, and I surprisingly wasn’t super hungry. I ate what I wanted, but I didn’t have the desire to stuff myself completely.
We left our friend’s house around 4pm, and my Dad wanted to check out Best Buy for the beginning of Black Friday sales. Even after having pumpkin pie, I had a hankering for some Halo Top, so I grabbed a pint from Reasor’s and snacked on it in the parking lot, haha!
It had small chunks of what seemed to be similar in taste and texture to pie crust, all mixed in a soft pumpkin ice cream base.
I went to sleep soon after returning home, and the next day was mostly spent running around to some more stores with my dad (on actual Black Friday, lol), and stopping by GNC for some bars to snack on on my flight back home.
Got to try two, new-to-me Fitjoy bars, and while I like the soft, chewy texture of Grandma’s Lemon Square, I couldn’t get behind the Raspberry Chocolate Truffle flavor much…I mean, if it’s dark chocolate? No thanks…
I made it back to LA close to 6pm, and grabbed some Subway for dinner since I was extremely exhausted. It was a chore just to unpack, but once I hit my bed, I was able to fall asleep so easily and peacefully 🙂
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Degustabox. All opinions are my own.
This month’s Degustabox came full of many items I was excited to try—everything from savory, sweet, crunchy, salty, melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
The sweet stuff always catches my eye, and the Bauducco Mini Panettone stood out to me a alot because it reminded me of my childhood. I didn’t like the cake as a child, but my mom was fond of the stuff. We’d always have a giant box in the kitchen around the holidays, when they were sold at Trader Joe’s or some other store.
But trying this mini version as an adult? I had an immediate liking for it! It was a sweet treat one weeknight after consuming a crockpot veg bowl and winding down with a show on Netflix :P. The bread seemed crumbly and flaky, but it actually held its own and had the appropriate amount of stiffness while still having a chewy texture.
Then there was this Goya Pico De Gallo Mild Salsa.
I’ve been using to coat my crockpot veg bowls of course! Although, as stated on the label, it’s supposed to be an all-purpose salsa that’s perfect for burritos, fajitas, tamales, pasta, salads and even eggs, haha.
Degustabox first sent some caramels from Lovely Candy Co. in April of this year, but these sea salt ones definitely had a saltier kick! I was still a fan of the brand after chewing on these—so flavorful!
Not gonna lie, I was ecstatic to find this Milka Oreo bar in this month’s box! I’ve actually been seeing a lot more of the Milka brand making a presence in US supermarkets. I think my local grocery store (Ralph’s) even offered a Milka bar as a free promo item a while back!
The Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs also brought up some fond memories from my childhood! We used to have Walkers shortbread around the house too, especially when we lived in the UK for two years when I was younger.
I had these scottie dogs as a pre-run snack, before heading out for a long run one Sunday with my marathon team.
I brought the Café Bustelo Café Con Leche Instant Coffee packs and Bell’s All Natural Salt‑Free Seasoning to Tulsa to share with my Dad.
We had the coffee one morning during my visit, but we weren’t huge fans. We found it to be too sweet, and slightly burnt, after preparation.
As for the seasoning, it added so much flavor to some wild rice stuffing we brought over for a Thanksgiving dinner at a family friend’s house. It was simply a mix of rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, and marjoram, but it was all that was necessary to elevate the flavor profile of this dish.
The Goya Soft Taco Flour Tortillas were a perfect side for my dinners—especially with a lentil bean chili I had one night.
I also received a bottle of Arteasan Yerba Mate tea. I let it sit in the fridge for a while to get it ice cold, and had it with one of my dinners. It wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be, but it was certainly refreshing. I think it would have lacked any flavor if it was at room temperature…it was as if the cold temperature helped to emphasize the mild peach and rosemary flavors.
I couldn’t have the Country Archer Turkey Jerky and Aneto Chicken Broth for obvious reasons, but one of my labmates (J.) was happy to have them! I left them on his desk in the morning and I forgot I had put them there when he found me later in the day and thanked me. I had no clue what he was talking about until he mentioned them, haha!
Which of these November Degustabox would you have been excited to try?
“Going home” always brings about a bunch of emotions, but this past week was quite peaceful, blissful, and just all-around couldn’t have been better.
When I originally planned my visit, it was to come for the Route 66 Marathon and stay for Thanksgiving. It was cheaper to fly out on Black Friday than it was to wait a few days, so even though I was able to spend a full week away, leaving abruptly after Thanksgiving Day did bring up some melancholy.
But let’s start at the beginning and focus on the good stuff 🙂 . Before leaving for a week in Tulsa, I had my order of four of the latest Lion’s Pack cookie dough flavors arrive:
I was expecting Frosted Sugar Cookie to be my favorite, but it’s off-lemon flavor took me by surprise. It had bright blue confetti sprinkles mixed in, but still…
What did end up being my prime favorite was the Golden Oreo and Cream flavor. It had a mild sugar cookie dough base, with chunks of broken golden cream sandwich cookies mixed in—so good!
Then there was White Chocolate Pistachio, which had a nice green hue. When I first saw a picture of this flavor, I thought it was a matcha green tea flavor but I later learned it was more on the salty side with whole pistachios mixed in, only to be balanced by mini white chocolate chips.
Pumpkin Chip Cookie had a smooth pumpkin flavor that was not overwhelming at all. It also had a colorful orange hue that harkened thoughts of pumpkins mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg. The chocolate chips were also small, smooth milk chocolate chips. I had the jar all in one go and it was way too delicious to put the spoon down.
I landed in Tulsa on a Friday night, and surprisingly, the weather was nice and cool—not freezing!
My Dad had made some dinner for me at home, and as soon as I finished gobbling it up I fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning, I tried to bond with our new cat. He’s an orange tabby who doesn’t like to be touched, so unfortunately it was hard to get any cat cuddles during my stay…BUT, he does have a liking for eggs? Especially the yolk, haha!
After breakfast, my Dad and I drove over to the Cox center in downtown for packet pick-up.
There were some crisp, strong winds outside, so we tried to get in the building as quickly as possible.
Pick-up was relatively simple: I got my bib and bag, and then after walking around the expo for a bit, I also got my race jacket as well. They were giving those out instead of race tees.
We didn’t stay too long since there weren’t a lot of freebies being given out. Instead, we ran some errands.
One of the stores we went to was Natural Grocers, which had an amazing selection of giant kombucha bottles…though they looked cool, they wouldn’t be too handy for the race. Instead, I got some Clif Shot Bloks, a more practical choice.
Once we got some errands done, we drove to Tulsa Hills for lunch. I tried Zoe’s Kitchen for the first time, a fast casual Medditeranean food place that had all the meat options but no falafel. How is that possible?
They did make it a point to highlight which items were vegetarian on their menu though. I got the power grain bowl (without meat protein) and my dad got a bowl of lentil soup.
The presentation of my bowl was lovely. The grain blend was flavorful, and it was perfectly balanced with cheese, tzatziki, and cucumber on the side.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing at home, and before I went to bed, I put out all of my stuff for race day so I’d be ready to go at 6:45am.
I actually managed to get a solid night’s sleep and so I felt a little groggy when I woke up Sunday morning. I was trepeditious about what I should have for breakfast, since I didn’t want a repeat of what happened in San Diego.
I thought a simple cup of coffee, half a bagel with some cookie butter, and a veggie patty should be enough and wouldn’t cause too much upset.
My Dad and I made the same drive as the day before to downtown Tulsa.
We even managed to park in the same spot as we did when we came for the expo!
I had plenty of time for bag check and taking care of bathroom-related items. (lol). The race start for this marthon was 8am, so later than what I was used to as far as marathons are concerned.
I think all of the marathon runners that had a predicted finish time under 5 hours were grouped into Corral A. So there was no delay in starting time.
Once we were given the signal, there was a huge confetti blast and we were off!
My plan was to stick with the 3:40 pacer for as long as I could, and then if I did slow down, at least finish it within the 3:50 and 4:00 pacer. I was hoping to whittle down my marathon time from earlier this year in LA.
The first 6 miles felt so light and free. My legs felt great, and even though the air was colder than what I was used to, I was slightly ahead of the pacer even though I tried to hold back. I wasn’t paying too much attention to my surroundings, but the time and miles seemed to pass by quickly since there were plenty of runners on the streets and crowds cheering us on.
When we reached Mile 10, things started to not feel so hot…I started to feel some mild cramping in my stomach but tried to push on. I felt like my tummy troubles from SD were acting up this time again, but I kept moving in hopes that they would pass.
The 3:40 pacer began to ratchet things up (or so it seemed) by the time we reached Mile 12. We had passed Riverside Parks by this time (the trail I ran on almost daily during my 2016 winter visit to Tulsa), and the half marathon runners were gleefully turning out to the finish. I still had another 13 to go, and things didn’t look or feel peachy at this point…
At Mile 13, I had to stop and use a porta-potty. I could see the time passing on my Garmin, but I hoped that this stop would help me make it through the rest of the race in peace. I was now behind the 3:40 group, but I did not see the 3:50 group pass by just yet…maybe they did, but I kept pushing on as if they had not.
Because this was my first marathon running forefoot, my calves were seriously taking a beating by the time I reached Mile 15. I began to walk through water stops at this point, taking a couple seconds to massage out my claves, stretch, and gulp down two cups of water.
The streets were barren at this point, and seeing rolling hills in the horizon literally made me want to cry. Actually, it was a strange sensation I had never felt during a race before…it was as if my throat was closing up and I was trying to catch my breath, usually the muscular contractions you before you cry. I didn’t actually cry, but it was certainly an odd sensation I could not shake off through the duration of the race.
Things just seemed to get worse after that. Miles 18-22 were an absolute pain. I tried to distract myself by the sights of the University of Tulsa, a very pretty campus, but my tight calves got the best of me. At this point, it was just getting through the race one mile at a time.
And of course the last 1.5 miles was a mindgame. There was an optional Center of the Universe detour, and when I saw the sign, my mind screamed “NO!”. When the finish was in view, I couldn’t have felt more relieved.
I didn’t have nausea, but my calves felt beaten. My appetite was at an extreme low, and even though Mazzio’s Pizza was at the finisher’s walk-through handing out free slices of pizza, I did not have the desire to get one, even for later.
I saw my Dad at the exit and gave him a hug. He could see I had a pained expression on my face so we slowly walked until I found a place to sit down on the sidewalk. I know that the number one rule after a marathon is to keep walking and all that, but my calves were screaming at me at this point. I had to sit down, and just let my whole body catch up.
The race didn’t go as planned…it didn’t meet my expectations, but I was glad I made it one piece and that I was able to run a marathon with my Dad spectating. All of the marathons I had run previously were without his attendance, so having him physically present was nice.
This race was also Marathon #5 for me. I didn’t exactly go into this year thinking I’d do three marathons, and I honestly thought this would be a nice PR race, but when my coach suggested I switch to forefoot running 4 months ago, that really affected how things turned out. I’m looking at this as another learning experience though, and I’m only more motivated to put in the work and tweak my training as I need to for 2018.
Even though my appetite was shot and it took us forever to walk back to the car thanks to my slow-as-molasses legs, we still decided to go out for a decent lunch. We also figured that in the time it would take us to pick a place to eat, order, and have te food ready, my appetite should return.
We decided to eat at Cosmo Cafe, which my Dad remembered as being one of my sister’s faves when she stayed over the summer.
And, we were right in our assumption that it would take forever to eat. First, it took about fifteen minutes before someone got to us. Then, we had to figure out what to get…and since I had no appetite, my decision was much harder.
I decided on their Vegetarian Pizza which came served on french bread and a side salad. My Dad once again, had soup (lol).
I think it almost took half an hour before our food came out. I even managed to waddle over to the restroom, and when I waddled back, our food was sitting at the table. My Dad had to send his soup back because it came out cold and brothy, but the waiter appologized and even offered to comp the soup.
I offered some of my pizza and devoured the rest. My appetite quickly came back once I consumed the first slice of pizza. I just love it when that happens :/
After our late lunch, we returned home where I took a long, glorious nap on the couch. The rest of the evening was spent just veggin’ out, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Before leaving for Tulsa for my marathon and Thanksgiving, I wanted to pay my sister another visit in the good ol’ MV because I certainly needed the mini getaway.
I love how the Metrolink train offers a discounted day pass on weekends. One way tickets on the weekdays are pretty steep so getting a $10 day pass that works all day on a Saturday or Sunday was a relief for my wallet.
So I left on a Saturday afternoon after a morning run and packing right after. When I arrived at the Tustin station around 3, my sister was ready to pick me up and from there we drove over to Dough & Arrow in Costa Mesa.
One of the latest food trends to hit So Cal is scoopable cookie dough, mimicking that of scoopable ice cream shops. Dough & Arrow was a cookie dough lover’s dream, and them some:
It was a small shop of course, but there was plenty of spacious seating and a giant plastic cookie statue in the center, perfect for Instagramming.
My sister and I took a while to figure out what exactly we wanted, but we were firm with our final decisions. She wasn’t quite feeling the whole straight-up cookie dough vibe, so she opted for two chewy unique-flavored cookies and a latte.
I went for a chocolate fudge-flavored cookie dough in their smallest size. Even at 8oz, the dessert was quite rich and mouthwatering.
Because we came a few hours before “proper” dinner time, we took our sweet time eating our sweet treats and catching up on two weeks worth of gossip.
When it was getting closer to five, we joined the traffic on the freeway heading south to get some dinner in Mission Viejo before heading home. My sis was cravin North Indian food, so we stopped by a local favorite that she tried before: Tikka Curry Wraps and Bowls.
Since it was now dark outside with a nice chill, I was definitely craving something warm. A chickpea daal curry bowl with basmati rice did the trick, while my sis feasted on a spicy paneer wrap.
My bowl was an aesthetic piece of art, haha!
For the rest of the evening, my sis was glued to her laptop lecture notes while I did some data analysis/procrastinated with the cats. They are my sister’s roomate’s cats, but they are two adorable little guys who come in a demanded to be petted and cuddled with.
The next morning, I managed to go out for a six mile run despite feeling sore all over, and managed not to feel too bogged down by the hills! My sister got ready as soon as I got back, and from there we drove towards Santa Ana to meet up with her lab partner at a cafe for a study session. I continued my lab data analysis while they discussed their class work. All of us got some form of latte coffee.
My order was a ginger snap cookie with a warm Spanish latte. It was also pretty chilly out so I also borrowed my sister’s cardigan since we were sitting outside.
We finished and left close to noon, and headed back home since my sis was working from 3-7pm at her job at one of the stores in the local mall. After taking a quick lunch break at home, we headed to the mall and I set up shop near the food court.
We actually didn’t leave until 8pm because they held my sis back to recover the store. It was frustrating, as I found myself pacing back and forth through the mall, but I recall how mind-numbing and annoying my retail jobs used to be, and I could only feel for my poor sis.
When she did get out, we had dinner at Native Foods in Aliso Viejo and I surely did not complain. By the end of our meal, we were both more than ready to fall asleep. She of course had to Skype with her BF though, so she ended up going to bed hours after I did, haha.
In the morning, she dropped me off at the train station and I made the long trek to lab on a Monday morning. We didn’t have time to pick up coffee, but I managed to get some of the new birthday cake-flavored Quest bars while at the mall the day before from GNC.
The bar itself was softer than the usual Quest bars, but I was in favor of the chewy consistency. Of course there was some of that slightly grainy protein bar flavor, but overall I liked it more than the original flavors.
The rest of the week was busy with work and prepping things so that I my stuff at work would be taken care of on all points while I was out. Once Friday rolled around, I was more than ready to be pampered at home…and I guess, for the Route 66 Marathon too 😉
The last time I ran the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in LA was three years ago, when I had just moved to LA. I was excited to have it be my first run in my new home, and a half marathon at that. It was before my marathon racing days…my how time flies, haha.
But with time, I’ve also become more jaded with the whole expo/lead-up to race day. It’s like everything is such a routine, with nothing new to expect…to be honest, going to expos for packet pick-up seems more like a chore for me now than an exciting thing to do. I even got in a long run before stepping into this expo because of my marathon training schedule. This race was just another opportunity to run and get some miles in while continuing on my Route 66 Marathon journey—which happens to be in less than two days upon publishing this post!!
Needless to say, I was in and out of the convention center within a half hour. I made plans to spend the rest of the day with E back in my neighborhood. We met up near Venice and Figueroa, and hopped on a bus to take us to Abbot Kinney.
We made our way through the crowds of tourists and Lululemon-wearing locals to get to The Tasting Kitchen, where we came across even more crowds of pretentious folk socializing over brunch. Would our grad student salaries get us much here? LOL!
We were eventually seated near the back, in the middle of two other groups: one couple and to our left, another pair of friends.
The menu was tricky to figure out. When our waiter came by, I just ended up asking what were the vegetarian options on their menu, since I couldn’t figure it out. He recommended the burrata dish, so I just agreed to get that, along with a plain biscuit. E got a sandwich that had a really long description and name, as well as a cream cheese and chive biscuit.
Our waiter walked away in a jiffy as soon as he got our orders, but came back pretty quickly to notify E of some unfortunate news: they had run out of cream cheese and chive biscuits. E was just like…”uhh, can I just get a plain biscuit?” and the “problem” was solved? Haha, at least the waiter offered to comp her biscuit.
When our orders came, I justified the price I was paying for the meal with the fact that the presentation was perfectly on point. Roasted butternut squash slices topped with bubbly burrata and chopped hazelnuts, coated with a balsamic sauce. Was I really in Venice, or some upscale restaurant in New York owned by a chef fresh from taping a series of Top Chef?
The biscuit was super flaky and he flavor was quite enhanced by the butter and salt. A great vehicle for mopping up the leftover balsamic sauce.
After lunch, we tried to forget how much money E and I spent on a mid-day meal and walked into a few shops along Abbot Kinney. We then walked towards the Venice Canals, and then ended up at the beach. We ended up walking a TON but the walk was made eventful with a bunch of gossiping and laughing. My legs were shot, but I was able to get home by 4 and spent the rest of the evening rolling out my legs and resting as much as possible before race day.
The next morning, I woke up around 4am. I had a couple minutes to roll out my muscles more, and wore some knee-highs to help with some form of compression (even if it was a placebo effect, it seemed to work, haha). I also remembered to take some ibuprofen the night before, and that seemed to help attenuate the soreness from yesterday’s events.
I didn’t have to spend money on a ride share service (yes!) since the Metro conveniently had trains running early Sunday morning with a stop close to the race start. I soon learned that other runners had the same idea when I saw them begin to board as we got closer and closer to DTLA.
As soon as I got to the start, I walked straight over to bag check, and luckily found some free snack bars to munch on as pre-race fuel. I also tried to keep warm by one of the heat lamps that a local restaurant in LA Live had set out, and waited until it was time to find my place at the start.
13.1 miles. It’s PR time…let’s do this!
When we were set to take off, I was able to gauge my pace so that I didn’t start off too fast unlike how I paced myself in the beginning at the Dodger’s 10k. I think I was a little ahead of the 1:45 pacer, but the pack eventually caught up to me at around mile 2.5. I stuck close to him, even though O felt like I was putting in a slightly harder effort for so early in the race.
Still, I felt good, my legs still felt fresh, and my shins were fine. Unfortunately, I began to lag at around mile 6, when we hit a steep hill in downtown approaching Koreatown. At that point, I was like, okay, I’ll just be a few minutes off, but maybe I can still PR.
I was able to keep my pace within 8:15-8:20/mi, even with water breaks. There were a ton of rolling hills between DTLA and Koreatown, all along Wilshire. At first, the hills seemed intimidating and never-ending—even though I was well-accustomed to the area and they weren’t really a surprise—but I felt strong overall and I was able to attack the upcoming hills with a newfound energy.
I was able to speed up towards the finish, and it seemed like my fatigue happily vanished. I finished the (technically) 13.3 mi course at a pace of 8:18/mi. Even though this course seemed less painful than the one I ran three years ago, I wouldn’t call this year’s course a fantastic change. I still prefer it to the one I ran in the past though.
The weather conditions were perfect: not too hot, not too cold. Transportation was easy to manage, the race loot was decent, and the medal had a snazzy design.
I didn’t PR, but I was happy with my outcome given the shin and calf soreness I was feeling leading up to the race. I also saw it as a great warm-up/race condition-simulating run for marathon prep. We’ll see how much it functioned as the latter come marathon race day this Sunday!
Even though I spent a blissful weekend in south OC with the sis, I could NOT avoid returning only a few days later, because Dad was in town.
I immediately got myself over to Union Station on a Tuesday evening when I was able to leave lab for the day. I was not looking forward to the long weeknight train ride (daily commuters, I feel ya…), but I was able to get off at an earlier stop in Irvine, where my Dad was waiting for me.
After a big hug, we drove for a short while to Mission Viejo to have dinner with my sis. She was coming off a long day of classes so we picked a local, veggie-friendly place so she wouldn’t have to drive too far.
We got to Barbonzai earlier than she did, but she came a few minutes after us, after figuring out the strip mall parking lot.
Barbonzai had a small staff, but one of the employees had a really bubbly personality and was super helpful in explaining the menu to us. At the end, we decided to get some tabouli (Dad’s fave) as a starter. My sis and Dad got wraps, and I got a falafel bowl with their yellow falafel.
My sis and I were pretty exhausted from each of our long days, and so we had to get some food in us first before we could have a nice conversation with Dad. Once I took a couple bites of my yellow falafel bowl, I felt a little bit more chatty 🙂
Barbonzai closes at 8pm on weekdays, and while we didn’t want to hold up the staff with accommodating us, we tried to get as much time in all-together with the three of us before having to leave. We ended up stopping by Albertson’s which was across the way, and got some night snacks/morning munchables. My sis and I spotted the new Breyer’s low cal pints, and since they didn’t have Halo Top (I got my sister hooked, lol), I persuaded her to try the Breyer’s chocolate version while I got cookies and cream.
She took hers to go, and after saying goodbye to my Dad and I, drove back home since she had another long day the next day. I left with my Dad, and was able to stay with him that night and the following night, just like old times. We stayed in a hotel in Mission Viejo, and as soon as we checked in I crashed. I did not want to leave—just chill, eat ice cream, and sleep.
This “ice cream” though—a HUGE disappointment. It was literally ice, chalky, and a chore to get through. Much like the Ralph’s version of Halo Top I had a while back…
The next morning, I went for a short (but painful—oooh those hills!) run, and when I came back, my Dad prepped some coffee from me from the hotel. He was driving up to LA for the day, and so we were able to spend a good hour together in the car since he dropped me off in lab. He picked me up later in the day, and we spent another good hour and a half driving back to the OC. We may have spent most of the time we had together in the car, but at least it was time spent together.
My sister had a closing shift that day, so it was just the two of us having dinner. We decided on Lemonade in Irvine since my Dad liked their cafeteria-like set-up based on our visit to the Pasadena location a while ago.
It’s a bit frustrating that they have yet to introduce any veggie-friendly proteins, but their veggie sides are pretty flavorful…so it’s not like we had absolutely nothing to choose from when making a plate of five different sides.
There was a colorful array to choose from, but I think I did well with my plate:
It had curried (crunchy!) cauliflower, soba noodles, a sweet potato and corn succotash, and cheese-sprinkled broccoli florets. Despite the extra layer of salt and whatever else added to make this taste so heavenly, it was a quite a nutrient-dense meal especially for its size!
My Dad’s plate was no exception:
His plate differed from mine with the slaw, tortellini and tomatoes, and gorgeous beet red salad.
Needless to say, our dinners hit the spot, and after eating, we were both pretty full and tired to do much else. The hotel had a working pool and jacuzzi, so I was able to put my legs in and just relax. It reminded me of the times when I used to live at home, and my Dad and I would end our gym sessions with some time spent relaxing in the jacuzzi. It’s now only a few years ago since then, but so much has changed…
I took the 7am train back to LA the next morning, with it being my final day being a “nomad” carrying things to-and-from the OC over a few consecutive days. I didn’t mind though—if going the extra mile meant extra time with family and being in a city I truly love, it’s all worth it right 😉 ?
Do you prefer to save your relaxation time for the weekend, or try to have it spread out throughout the week?
Two weekends ago, I was gifted with the chance to spend a weekend with my sister in her Mission Viejo digs, as well as spend some time with Dad since he was going to be in town soon after for business.
I managed to have two of my undergrad assistants come in to take care of something for me over the weekend, so I would be able to make my visit an overnight one. I left on a Saturday afternoon, and arrived just as my sister was getting off work.
She picked me up from the Metrolink station, and from there, we hunted down dinner at Burger Boss.
My sister had been wanting to check it out, and we got the chance to do so since the location was close by. They actually have a number of locations around the OC. It also happened to be right next to a Creamistry, so you could guess what we had for dessert…
When we entered BB, we saw some LCD screens on the wall, as well as an order/paying counter wayyyy up at the front. We decided to give the LCD screens a shot despite making a fool out of our orders—because the buttons were so hard to press, my sis ended up with four different kinds of cheeses on her veg burger and I ended up with two sauces in my burger bowl, haha!
I made sure put ALL THE VEGGIES AND FRUIT (pineapple, lol) in my burger bowl, on a bed of spinach. My sis’ burger was definitely not lacking in cheese.
Like I alluded to earlier in the post, we walked right next door to Creamistry after getting our fill of veggies and protein.
I was leaning towards ordering a nutella or speculoos flavored liquid nitrogen-based ice cream (per usual), but then my sister pointed out their Halloween special: black ice cream with cookie pieces. I was sold.
My sis, of course, had her beloved chocolate. We had our frozen treats inside instead of taking them to go. It was not surprising that we felt cold afterwards, haha.
My sister was adamant about making the next day a “study day”, since she had some exams coming up. I didn’t mind, since I had data to analyze anyways. The next morning, I met her at a Starbucks after a morning run. I had her bring my laptop and things over in the car, so it worked out perfectly 😛
We spent the morning working on our respective items, and when my sister suggested we get lunch, she didn’t have to tell me twice. To make things simple and local, we drove over to the Veggie Grill in Laguna Niguel.
I love how VG has seasonal menus—its makes my multiple visits to their various locations all the more worth it 😛
This season’s menu seemed to offer a number of delicious-sounding options. I finally chose to get the Rustic Farm Bowl. My sis stuck to her fave chik’n ranch burger.
The angles of the picture make it look like the bowl was a large one, but the contents were petite to my dismay. Still, it was quite filling! Just fibrous veggies doing their job I suppose…
After lunch, we took a long afternoon nap and went out later in the evening to pick up some snacks to have at home so my sis could continue studying. Despite staying within my sister’s home turf and spending most of our time together at our laptops, it was a great weekend getaway for me. Mission Viejo is literally eye candy with its rolling hills and sunshine (although I will say it’s a runner’s nightmare—at least this runner’s nightmare, with all those hills!!)
After spending a Saturday together in Hollywood exploring the history of broken relationships, I didn’t get a chance to see my sister for another two weeks. She soon got busy with work, classes, and…a boy?
Haha, yes. She’s yet another one of my once-single friends to get herself a BF lol. I briefly met him the night of her graduation when they were just friends, but since it was 11pm and I was suffering from deep exhaustion after the day’s celebrations, I fell asleep under my sister’s dorm bed soon after he arrived. No shame—I needed my beauty sleep!
I met them for brunch on a Saturday, soon after getting my morning long run in. He had come into LA to drop off a friend at the airport, and my sis picked him up on her way from the OC. They picked me up from my place, and we had our brunch at a local favorite—Truxton’s American Bistro.
My sis and I were crazy for their monkey bread when we visited their Westchester location two summers ago, but this time around, we were looking for something that wasn’t 100% carb.
The poor BF had to spend the night in the airport so he was literally falling asleep at the table. I used the time to catch up with the sis, and also figure out which brunch item to get.
I ended up going for a squash and Brussels sprouts hash topped with a fried egg. The other two got sandwiches.
I think the pictures can speak for themselves, but it was definitely a mouth-watering dish. The crostini on the side wasn’t super necessary (actually, it was hard to bite into and didn’t help with mopping up any leftover sauce), but it helped somewhat.
They were both pretty tired after that, so my sis dropped me off after taking me to Sprouts for a quick grocery trip. I invited them to check it Cold Rolled with me, but apparently her BF doesn’t like sweets (I was personally in shock), so I let it be and let them head back to get some rest 🙂
The following day, I made plans to check out the Body Worlds exhibit with E.
It was actually an intriguing display…actually, everything looked so cleaned, polished, waxed, fixed, etc. to appear “real”, but they did have a video explanation of how everything is preserved and that, in fact, all of the displays were donated human bodies…
It was also a really hot day for October in LA (felt more like July…), so retreating inside the California Science Center where it was cool and air-conditioned was a smart idea.