Korean in Burbank

Korean in Burbank

I was in the mood to venture out on Saturday, knowing that the Saturday to follow would be best spent close to home…to prepare for the arduous 26.2 mile journey on Valentine’s Day!

The week leading up to Saturday was taper week, and honestly, running ANY distance lower than 20 miles sounded appealing after that monsoon run! After a Tuesday 8 miler, I enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal with a melted Combat Crunch bar (cookies & cream flavor)!

 So warm and melty
So warm and melty

With the melted CC bar in there, it didn’t matter that I did not include some sort of nut butter or spread…the chocolate coating was perfect enough!

Before heading to Burbank for a late lunch on Saturday, I stopped by the library to pick up some holds…for the very first time since moving to LA! So far, I’ve only used my library card membership to download free music. After almost a year and a half, I managed to get around to actually checking out some books 😛

My pre-lunch snack was this Mission1 bar, in chocolate brownie. It was extremely chewy, with a consistency equivalent to chocolate taffy. I know they are the latest craze on social media right now, but to me it just tasted okay. Perhaps things would be different if I let it melt atop of some piping hot oatmeal…

At least the bar looks presentable?
At least the bar looks presentable?

From the library, the bus ride to Burbank took about an hour. At least my stop was right in front of Tony’s Darts Away on Magnolia.

Small pub vibes.
Small pub vibes.

I always feel so awkward when I walk into pubs, but my reason for ever venturing into one has always been for the vegan food. From what I can recall, all of my pub visits have involved vegan food—even one hidden in downtown Fresno that served pretty tasty vegan Mexican food!

After standing around awkwardly for five minutes, I made way to the counter and learned that I could order what I wanted at the front and then sit down wherever I wanted. I was able to find a table by a stack of board games, despite a loud birthday party that took up several tables.

I ordered the vegan Korean bowl, since it sounded appetizing with its kimchi, sticky rice, and glazed vegan pork slices. I didn’t have to wait too long to dig into this earthy, insanely-delicious bowl either!

Vegan Korean bowl featuring glazed vegan"pork" and sticky rice!!
Vegan Korean bowl featuring glazed vegan”pork” and sticky rice!!

The vegan “pork” ended up being my favorite of course, and I saved it for last to mix with my sticky rice. The kimchi was what I had first, and it was flavorful and tasted fine on its own. The entire bowl took me a while to finish, but I made my way to the very bottom. Even though I did feel full, I knew that a walk down a couple blocks on Magnolia would get my appetite revved up for some dessert…I did remember passing by a Yummy Cupcakes after all!

Do you drink?

Do you visit pubs for the drinks or food?

Tony's Darts Away Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

That Lab Life

That Lab Life

I often reference how I have to “pop into lab” or “go out for lunch after lab” in many of my posts, but I have not had the chance (or the patience) to go into detail about my life in lab. I thought it would be fun to describe the usual hierarchy of a lab, so you could have at least some idea of what I have to deal with on a daily basis…

Before I became the dedicated PhD student researcher I am today ( 😉 ) , I was an overworked, overexhausted undergrad student, who was treated like a grad student during my first lab research experience. Not all was bad though, as I learned a lot, and had face-time with my boss every time I was in the lab, but as an undergrad student I could only spend so much time in the lab. My boss at the time didn’t understand this, and she kept pressuring me to stay longer, work more, etc. I was able to hold on for a year before moving on to my next experience!

The undergrads in my current lab are more like these guys though…

(source)

They’re not annoying, but most of them work under a post-doc in my lab who likes to call them “minions”. In my lab, they tend to carry out smaller experiments and tasks, but don’t necessarily have a project on their own. In comparison, I would say I had it a lot better (if we’re talking about getting experience and training…if we’re talking about the preservation of my sanity, then perhaps it would be the opposite 😛 ).

Next up on the lab hierarchy are usually research techs/lab assistants. Usually people that are at this stage are students that just finished undergrad, and are trying to keep busy while waiting to hear from the grad/medical school programs they applied to. I fell into this stage right after I graduated from undergrad a year early, and fortunately, it was in a lab that was very laid-back. I wasn’t paid (so that meant working evening shifts at a local outlet store for some $$…), but it kept me in-tune with the research world as I applied, which also helped with my interviews! But not all research techs/lab assistants are students-in-waiting. In fact, I’ve come across many people who are older adults, or people who got a B.S. or M.S. in some science major and had to take a hiatus from lab work due to personal circumstances.

In either case, they’re on a never-ending quest to prove that they’ve got what it takes.

(source)

Then there are the grad students, the PhD-type 😉 . Their origin can be one of these two: a continuing masters student, or one who is constantly replying “No, I came straight from bachelors” to anyone who asks “Did you get a masters first?”.

Compared to my years as an undergrad, I would say being a grad student is less intense. Shocked? Don’t be! I still have plenty of work, and with my qualifying exam coming up, I’ll probably be rethinking what I type here, but I am being completely honest when I say I felt more stressed/anxious/obsessive about my work as an undergrad than I do now. I view the work I do now as my job, and I don’t necessarily see myself as a student in the traditional sense. I do have classes I have to take, but unlike in undergrad where my focus was on class and doing well in class, now it’s produce work in lab and just show your face in class 😛

This will totally be me as I get closer to earning my degree!

Just above the PhD students, you have the post-docs. These guys and gals try very hard to make sure everyone knows that they are NO LONGER STUDENTS and that they do in fact have 100% earned the right to be called _______ , PhD. There is no denying the fact that they do deserve this, but it can get irritating when you have grad student vs. post-doc arguments debates. The PhD student doesn’t want to look stupid when he/she asks a question to the post-doc, and the post-doc wants to make sure that they give the right answer, and “look good” doing so. They also have added pressure to be even more independent than a student, and are often regarded as mini-bosses in the lab.

I think they’re having one of those grad student vs. post-doc “debates”. The grad student is a fiesty one 😉

Finally, we have the primary investigator (PI). The head honcho. The big boss. The don…

LOL! Can you imagine Shah Rukh Khan—the face of Bollywood—leading a scientific research lab?!

I’ve come across three PIs in my overall experience so far (not including rotations), and while they all have their own quirks and personality traits, a couple things stay common for all. As a PI, your biggest responsibility is making sure your lab has adequate finances. It’s what gives you the freedom to run your lab the way you want to. It’s no secret that funding is extremely tight, so labs can get competitive when it comes to raking in mon-ayyy. In order to make sure that your lab is successful, a PI needs to be assertive, exact, frank, and be able to compromise if necessary (especially when it comes to collaborations, as science is definitely a “it’s who you know” kind of industry)!

Me minus the fur :P
Me minus the fur :P

It’s kind of funny that as a grad student, I fall right in the middle of all these interesting characters! At times, it almost feels like I’m in a sitcom or a TV show with all the crazy interactions and dynamics that go on around me or involve me. I do love it though 😛 !

Do you like your workplace?

There’s Always Time for Ice Cream

There’s Always Time for Ice Cream

I’ve gotten so distracted by my work lately, that eating out—and even running—have started to retain less and less of my attention. Last year around this time, I was celebrating my weekends with long run victories and skipping all over LA finding good places to eat post-runs.

Of course I’m still eating and running, but this past weekend, I wasn’t in the mood to eat out and I had plenty to do anyways. On Saturday, I volunteered for a STEM-related event my campus was sponsoring. Along with nourishing young minds, I was nourishing myself with this delightful veggie sandwich. It was stuffed with lettuce, tapenade, and layerzzzz of swiss cheese.

one fine veggie sandwich
Free (veggie) food for volunteers!!

Instead of going out to eat afterwards, I made a quick stop downtown to grab some groceries from Walgreen’s and the Whole Foods that recently opened. I found two truffle-jammed B&J pints, and since they were Walgreen’s exclusives, I couldn’t pass them up.

I had Triple Caramel Chunk Saturday night, and fell head over heels for this caramel-insane pint! I loved the mild, sweet caramel ice cream, and the caramel swirl that reminded me of the Karamel Sutra Core flavor. Of course, the mini caramel truffle cups were smallest, but best part!

triple_Caramel_CHunk
Triple Caramel Chunk

On Sunday, rain and thunder were in the forecast for LA. Even so, my marathon training team still drove all the way to the beach to get in our longest, grittiest run pre-marathon of 22 miles. It was the best/worst decision I ever made. I felt strong and amazing for the first six miles, but by mile seven, it was pouring, I was soaking wet, and I loathed the fact that I wasn’t even half way done yet. The last two miles were what killed me…the wind gusts were so great off the ocean that sand was literally sticking to my legs. Not to mention the fact that it was freezing cold! I wanted to smack our team captain in the face for making us go out for the run, but then it was probably one of those things that would help us out on race day…if we survived the monsoon run, we could survive a milder 26.2 in two weeks, right? 😉

I came home later that day soaking wet, and ready to dig in into my other pint: Truffle Trifecta.

truffle trifecta
Truffle Trifecta

It was all chocolate ice cream so I wasn’t expecting it to be an all-time favorite, but it was fun trying to find all three truffles that were supposedly mixed in this entire pint!

chocolate_top
It’s ALL chocolate?

I found fudge…

chocolate truffle
Fudge truffle

…and caramel…

caramel_truffle_now_where_is_the_marshmello_truffle
Caramel truffle

…but “marshmallow”? Nope. I couldn’t find any white, pectin-based marshmallow truffles to my disappointment.

Even though I treated myself to some decadent ice creams this weekend, I am looking forward to a lab-free weekend coming up! It’s also taper week, so my long run on Sunday will only be 8 miles…meaning more time for doing what I love best: hopping all over LA and stuffing my face with its good eats!

Do you easily get caught up with work?

Hope on a Cloudy Day

Hope on a Cloudy Day

After weekend out in Westwood and a killer 16 miler in the same area the next day (marathon training yet again!), the week that followed was less thrilling.

The days were quite routine, and not made any better by this Oh Yeah! One Birthday Cake flavored bar. It seems to be getting so much hype on social media, but it was just ‘meh’ to me. Yes, it has sprinkles, and yes, it has a sweet scent reminiscent of a vanilla birthday cake candle, but it’s small size didn’t exactly win me over.

 Sprinkles usually makes everything good, but unfortunately this was a pretty sub-par bar...
Sprinkles usually makes everything good, but unfortunately this was a pretty sub-par bar…

Certainly not worth forking up $24.99 over for a box, on sale. Yeah, I’ve paid that much for Quest bars numerous times, but even they don’t appease my taste buds as much anymore…

By the time Friday rolled around, I was ready to get into weekend mode! I celebrated with an unpictured pint of ice cream, and lots of rest (I was in bed by 9pm, and I don’t feel shameful about it at all 😛 ).

On Saturday, I woke up to cloudy skies and took the red line to Studio City after lab. I had a late lunch at this positively healthy place…

 Healthy Organic Positive Eating
Healthy Organic Positive Eating

This place is so calm on the inside. On first glance, it seems as though everyone was at peace here.

 So zen in here.
So zen in here.

I got a chuckle out of the menu!

 Haha, gotta love the menu!
Haha, gotta love the menu!

It took a while to get a waiter over, but after debating myself over a few choices, I decided to go for the vegan pumpkin curry with seitan as my protein, and with a side of brown rice.

My square bowl came out hot and fresh, with the steam still rising and orange broth so bright.

 Vegan pumpkin curry! All the good stuff is in here...
Vegan pumpkin curry! All the good stuff is in here…

The coconut milk tasted perfect, and my melange of peppers, pumpkin, and seitan mixed with the broth nicely.

 Brown rice in the shape of a ♥
Brown rice in the shape of a ♥

I spent the rest of the afternoon walking a few blocks in Studio City. I stopped in Free People, Urban Outfitters, and Brandy Melville, and ended up making a purchase in the latter of the three 😉 . After one final stop at Trader Joe’s, I lugged my coming week’s worth of groceries back on the train.

I may have ended up buying my routine items for my routine meals, but maybe this coming week will be less routine even though my meals may not be!

Are you a fan of thai curry?

H.O.P.E Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lunch with the Roomie

Lunch with the Roomie

This past weekend, my roommate and I finally had some time to hang out together—at least for lunch!

She wanted to check out UCLA, and even though I wanted to get some grocery shopping done (I can’t miss an opportunity to shop at Westwood’s Sprouts!), she was able to meet up with an old friend.

Prior to Saturday’s plans, I made my usual crockpot dinner much more satisfying with the addition of a Trader Joe’s pretzel bagel. I’ve also been taking them to school/lab smothered in hummus and a slice of cheese. The combination is definitely a satisfying mid-day snack!

Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3
Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3

On Saturday, my roommate and I took the Metro train and a bus to head on over to Westwood. For lunch, we made our way to TLT Food: the brick-and-mortar location for The Lime Truck food truck.

TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck
TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck

I remember first passing by this restaurant one day early last year, when I spent a whole day strolling through Westwood. It was because of its bright green walls and eye-catching colors, inside and out…

It took me almost a year to actually venture inside, and at least my first visit was with company! There were a few, ready-made vegetarian menu options listed, but I wanted something classic, like nachos or fries.

Pork Belly Nachos was listed, but I was able to have the pork belly subbed with spicy tofu cubes. I love it when restaurants don’t hesitate to be accomodating. My roommate got the steak fries. We were both given buzzers (like the ones they give at Olive Garden when you have to wait 20 minutes for an open table on a Saturday night…), and in the meantime, found seats.

Seating area.
Seating area.

When our buzzers lit up, we had to go to the pick-up counter to get our food.

Pick-up counter
Pick-up counter

My nachos looked classy…slightly fancier than what you’d get at a ballpark :)

Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!
Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!

Even though they didn’t put my tofu cubes IN the nachos, I happily ate all eight cubes individually, appreciating the spices and texture of each boxy bite.

Spicy tofu cubes!
Spicy tofu cubes!

Without the pork belly, my nachos were comprised of crisped, puffed triangular tortilla chips (that were also slightly spiced), creamy queso, and fresh pico de gallo. I ate them by hand and with the help of a fork 😛

After lunch, my roommate and I parted ways. I headed to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, and even stopped at Bristol Farms to pick up some edible cookie dough for snacking later.

I made it home before my roommate did (haha), and dove into the cookie dough when I was all settled into my pjs, robe, and a collection of recorded tv shows I needed to catch up on.

Edoughble -
Edoughble – Chocolate Chip Off the Ol’ Block

Compared to the birthday cake flavor, I wasn’t a real fan of this chocolate chip one. It reminded me of the chocolate chip one by Cookie Dough Cafe, which I didn’t like that much…oh well!

Have you tried Trader Joe’s pretzel bagels or any of the Edoughble flavors?

If you ever had a roommate, were you friends/enemies?

TLT Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burgers in Chinatown

Burgers in Chinatown

It’s hard to believe that the LA Marathon is about a month and a half away! I bring this up because I’m running it again with my marathon team, and this Sunday marked the day we get back into increasing long run mileage. We did run 20 miles as our longest run prior to the holidays, but now is when things are getting serious 😉

I had to run today’s 14 miles alone since our team is only going to resume group practices next week, but prior to my run, I fueled up in the very best way—even though it wasn’t my birthday!

Muscle Butter Birthday Cake!
Muscle Butter Birthday Cake!

Despite not being a true fan of the glazed donut Muscle Butter flavor, I picked up this jar along with two boxes of birthday cake Lenny & Larry’s cookies since I had a $50 rewards certificate to redeem from Vitamin Shoppe. I found that both combined together is a combination beyond words. Colorful sprinkles go a long way!

For lunch later that day, it was only a short bus drive away to Chinatown for some burgers!

Chinatown's #1 Burger
Chinatown’s #1 Burger

I’ve walked through Chinatown before to get to a race, but besides that, I never set aside time to explore Chinatown itself. Even so, I find the area charming, and one day I’ll devote a day exploring it fully.

Quaint seating area
Quaint seating area

I ordered my burger at the counter, and went for the vegan cheeseburger because why not have an extra cheese slice? I’m not sure if the cheese slice was vegan, but at least it was vegetarian! Once I made my order, I was given my order number and waited until my box of burger and fries was prepared.

When my number was called, I took my In-N-Out style meal over to the seating area.

Vegan cheeseburger and fries
Vegan cheeseburger and fries

It’s funny how it looks like an In-N-Out burger box, since there was another restaurant patron nearby who commented on how Burgerlords was a “more expensive, less tasty” version of In-N-Out. 😛

Vegan cheeseburger with fries.
Vegan cheeseburger with fries.

The burger was soft, and layered with tomato, cheese, onion, and lettuce with a burger tucked in between two buns spread with thousand island dressing. I attacked the fries with a fork, after squeezing some ketchup on top of course! It came with a cute food flag, and at the bottom of the box, I was reminded where I was 😉

Burgerlords in a box.
Burgerlords in a box.

The location is spot-on as well, right in the heart of Old Chinatown where countless stores are aligned. It makes total sense for hungry shoppers to take a break and purchase a burger to quickly eat before hopping over to the next shop. Since it was getting colder, I didn’t stay too long, but like I said, Chinatown is still a spot I plan to explore thoroughly in time :)

Warm at Wirtshaus

Warm at Wirtshaus

While everyone around me has slowly been getting back into their work routines, I have not had to worry about that one bit :) . In fact, I felt slightly bored this week. I wasn’t feeling that creative with my snacks and meals, and so when I finally received a jar of Muscle Butter that should have come with my original Vitamin Shoppe order of Lenny & Larry’s cookies and Quest protein powder, I felt obligated to try it by itself, in some proyo, and in some unpictured OIAJ because I finished it that quickly 😛

Muscle Butter - Glazed Donut
Muscle Butter – Glazed Donut

While it does taste nutty and sweet, I wouldn’t call it butter if we’re naming things based on consistency. It was actually quite crumbly, and reminded me of cashew burphi that needed to be pressed together a bit more.

On Saturday morning, I woke up around 6am feeling ravenous. The cold weather must have gotten to me because I had a hankering for a full, hot bowl of oatmeal with a generous dollop of peanut butter on top. In fact, two instant packets did the trick, along with a tablespoon of chia seeds.

Maple & brown sugar oatmeal from the packet(s), PB, and chia seeds for a delightful Saturday morning breakfast.
Maple & brown sugar oatmeal from the packet(s), PB, and chia seeds for a delightful Saturday morning breakfast.

After breakfast, I tuned into the FIRST robotics kick-off online. I previously blogged about my experiences volunteering and judging the competitions here & here. After learning about this year’s game, I couldn’t be more excited for all of the high school robotics students currently involved in this program! It’s a medieval theme, and I’m sure it will be just as thrilling for the audience as it is for the students come competition time :) Has it really been six years since my last kick-off as a high school student??

After breakfast, I was off to lab just for a little bit. I was very hungry around noon, so had to stop for a snack before truly heading out for lunch. I ended up traveling to the Grove area again like last weekend, but this time, I went a little bit farther out. I walked along North La Brea to reach Wirtshaus.

Wirtshaus on N. La Brea
Wirtshaus on N. La Brea

Since it was a seat yourself kind of place, I chose to sit outside only because there was a giant heat lamp next to me. Once I was settled in, one of the waiters brought over a mug filled with napkins, forks, and knives, and placed it on the table.

Where there is a heat lamp, I will sit.
Where there is a heat lamp, I will sit.

I was also given a menu, and had a choice between only two vegetarian entrees. I ended up going with the Vegetarische Wurst Cali, since the bratwurst apparently had apples, yukon potatoes, and sage mixed in. Plus it was cheaper by $1 compared to the Vegetarische Wurst Europa 😛

With the wurst, I was also allowed to pick two sides. The red cabbage and roasted garlic brussels sprouts intrigued me the most. When my plate came, I was surprised by how “small” it looked at first, but it was indeed very filling.

German food can be vegetarian---vegan even!!
German food can be vegetarian—vegan even!!

Along with my sides, there were three refreshing pickle slices and a small cup of spicy mustard.

Beautiful brussels sprouts
Beautiful brussels sprouts

But my favorite was the brussels sprouts…maybe they should offer a dish that consists of a BOWL of these with chopped vegetarian bratwurst mixed in?? Feel free to take that idea Wirtshaus 😉

Sweet, brine-y red cabbage, pickles & mustard, close-up of this veg-bratwurst
Sweet, brine-y red cabbage, pickles & mustard, close-up of this veg-bratwurst

After lunch, I did some grocery shopping while trying to run away from the rain. I was peckish in the late afternoon, and I stopped by Whole Foods to get a snack.

Seeing that it had been a while since I last had a Hail Merry tart, I felt like having one in a flavor I hadn’t tried before.

Hail Merry's Chocolate Almond Butter Tart...it's hard to resist picking it up and eating it as a hand-hold, but breaking into it with a fork is just as fun!
Hail Merry’s Chocolate Almond Butter Tart…it’s hard to resist picking it up and eating it as a hand-hold, but breaking into it with a fork is just as fun!

Just like I remembered, the ganache layer was undeniably delicious. Once broken into, it was hard to not see the almond butter layer making its appearance.

For a cold and almost rainy LA day, it seems like I intuitively chose some (heart)warming foods :)

Wirtshaus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

First Meal Out in 2016

First Meal Out in 2016

Even though I was back to work after my week in Tulsa, my lab mates were still taking advantage of their break, and I literally had the entire lab floor to myself 😛

I did have work to do though, and kept my energy levels up with some Vitamin Shoppe purchases I made prior to my trip…including two of the newest Lenny and Larry’s cookies!

Coconut Chocolate
Coconut Chocolate
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl

From these two flavors, my favorite was Coconut Chocolate. It had pieces of dried coconut mixed in, along with the classic chocolate chip cookie base. The DCPBS flavor was delicious too, but in comparison, was softer and more mundane in its flavor profile.

Along with these insanely addicting cookies, I ended up getting a canister of Quest protein powder with the same Vitamin Shoppe order, since it was on sale. Of course, I’ve been mixing it with yogurt and topping it with interesting cookie butter flavors (like this one—a macaroon cookie butter!!), but I also tried it mixed in with a hot bowl of oatmeal which wasn’t too bad!

Quest Strawberries and Cream
Quest Strawberries and Cream

By the time the weekend rolled around, I was able to make it out to the Grove and walk not too far to reach Sweetgreen. I actually learned about its existence that day while looking for places to eat lunch as I was in-between experiments in lab.

Sweetgreen, by the Grove
Sweetgreen, by the Grove

The restaurant is in a two-story building, so while the width was small, the height of the space was the exact opposite. At the front of the restaurant, a chalkboard listed farms and local partners that Sweetgreen gets its produce and food goods from.

That color though...
That color though…

The ordering-style is set-up so that you build your salad bowl like you would a sandwich at Subway. There are combinations all set and listed on the menu, or you can create your own.

Everything fresh and from modern farms.
Everything fresh and from modern farms.

I decided to get the Hummus Tahina, and from there the process was very simple. The girl who was helping me knew exactly was to put in, how much, and I even ended up “skipping” the person in front of me because my bowl was just done that fast 😛

With bowl, water, fork, and napkins in tow, I climbed upstairs and found plenty of seats.

Upstairs seating!
Upstairs seating!

As soon as I was settled in, I was more than ready to dig in!

shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, pita chips, local feta, housemade hummus, baked falafel, cucumber tahini yogurt
shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, pita chips, local feta, housemade hummus, baked falafel, cucumber tahini yogurt

Everything was perfectly dressed with cucumber tahini yogurt, and just like I save my dollop of nut butter/nutella/cookie spread in my proyo bowls for last, I did the same with my hummus dollop. What took me by surprise the most was how creamy the small pieces of feta tasted, and how doughy the falafel was. Even though this falafel wasn’t green, I actually liked its consitency—at least in this bowl.

Even though it felt like just another week and weekend, at least my first meal dining out for 2016 was a success!

Sweetgreen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Keeping Warm in the Snow

Keeping Warm in the Snow

My final few days left in Tulsa were spent staying close to home, mostly due to the weather, but also due to the fact that I probably wouldn’t see my family for quite some time. On Sunday, the rain got so bad, that we ended up having dinner in. My dad made chapatis and all the side fixings.

sunday_dinner
Plate 1 of home-cooked family dinner

After dinner, we ended up watching a movie that ended up being super boring by the middle, but we were to invested to quit watching. We made it through the end, and promptly went to bed!

On Monday, we woke up to find some fluffy white stuff everywhere…

monday_snow
What is this white fluffy stuff? Snow you say?

The last time I saw snow was in Chicago, so it definitely has been a while for this Cali girl 😉

For my last meal with the fam before leaving for the airport, we chose to go to Ri-Le, a Vietnamese restaurant with vegetarian and vegan options.

Ri-Le___Restaurant
Ri-Le Restaurant

The menu was abundant with choices, but my Dad insisted we have their vegan soup special as an appetizer. My sis picked the sweet and sour dish, and I picked the soy ginger chicken, for all of us to share.

ri-le_2
Menu and interior.

The absolute star was our appetizer soup though. So warm and flavorful…basically the perfect bowl to combat the cold, frosty weather outside.

ri-le__3
A warm bowl of pho for all of us to share!!

When our entrees came, I helped myself to many plates.

ri-le__4
Servings from lunch.

The sweet and sour dish was served with sauced veggies and fried soy balls of some sort. I wasn’t a fan, so I let my sis finish off that one :P. I did enjoy my pick though :)

ri-le_1
Sweet n Sour + Ginger

The best part of the meal was getting fortune cookies afterwards (even though they aren’t Vietnamese, let alone Chinese!)

fortune
Hmm…pretty accurate after all?

My fortune ended up being accurate since my second flight from Phoenix to LA that night was delayed by almost an hour!!

At least it gave me plenty of time to enjoy this $13 airport pizza?

airportpizza__13dollars
Margherita pizza at the airport.

I ended up getting home at 11pm California time, and had just enough energy to put this jar of edible cookie dough away in the fridge (my Dad knew how much I was enjoying this during my trip, so he encouraged me to grab one to take home since they’re hard to find :) ).

cookie_dough__pb
Peanut Butter edible cookie dough :)

I felt sad about the fact that my time with family was kept to one week only, but since I had plenty to do in lab the following week and a time-sensitive experiment to fulfill, I had to cut my “vacation” short. Funny thing was, I was literally the only person working since this week was “officially” break for everyone else. It wasn’t too big of a deal though… after all, I had me, myself, my experiments, and this PB cookie dough to keep me busy 😉

Christmas and Chimera

Christmas and Chimera

My family and I spent a busy Christmas Eve shopping (yes, but at least I got my sister exactly what she wanted 😉 ), and cooking dishes for a dinner we were attending that evening at a friends house. The dinner was a success, but we got home pretty late and all of us wanted to go to sleep right away. That meant gift-opening would be postponed until Christmas morning…which is the norm for lots of folks, but we got into the habit of having our gift exchange on Christmas Eve, so it was a little change for us 😀

On Christmas morning, I felt like having some Talenti, and so that’s exactly what I did.

talenti_christmasday
Talenti Gelato – Caramel Apple Pie

Since we didn’t have any dessert for after our Christmas dinner, it was fitting that this flavor of Talenti was Caramel Apple Pie. It had chunks of dried apples and gobs of cinnamon swirl! I didn’t eat this whole pint for breakfast, thinking my sis would wake up and want to try some, but I did finish it off later in the day when she expressed her disinterest in this flavor. Oh well, more for me!

Our dinner spread was just enough for all of us, and was pretty much like our past Thanksgiving meals. Our Tofurky ball with rice stuffing was the star of course, and it was what I helped myself to the most…and the roasted brussels sprouts.

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Christmas Dinner

The next day, the weather took a sharp turn. It had been sunny (if not warm) for the first few days of my visit, but by Saturday, it was pouring. We had to make a quick dash inside to our late lunch destination in order to avoid getting drenched.

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Chimera Cafe, Brady Arts District

Once we were inside, we picked up some menus, and tried to decide what vegan dishes sounded appetizing in this Tulsa establishment that reminded me of a West Coast coffee shop.

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Chimera sweets and decor.

After making our orders at the front, we found some seats by the window and chatted while we waited for our food.

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Sitting by the window, and admiring the rain.

My plate was the Daydream Nation, a hearty plate filled to the brim with greens, tofu, avocado, adzuki bean strips, vegan cream cashew sauce, roasted potatoes, and other fun vegan delights I can’t particularly remember. The bean strips were my favorite though!

daydreamnation
Daydream Nation :)

My sister happened to be craving a vegan caesar salad this entire time, so when she saw it on the menu, she chose to get it right away. Her bowl was more crouton than salad, but she enjoyed her bowl. My Dad got the tofu scramble plate, which featured all of the fixins of my plate, plus a side of toast that came with jam.

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Vegan Caesar Salad & Tofu Scramble

Our rainy day lunch kept us warm and nourished as we drove home in the rain. The downpour got even worse, and the roads we drove on to get back home were starting to get muddy and flooded. That meant only one thing: changing into pajamas and wearing some cozy bunny slippers.

slippers_and_rain
Cozy in my slippers on this rainy day!

My sis and I also tried another cookie dough cafe flavor, which was ‘Monster’. It was a chunky flavor mixed with M&Ms, peanut butter, and oats. It wasn’t our favorite, especially when compared to the cookies and cream flavor, but it was something worth snacking on as we passed the rest of the rainy day away.

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MONSTER Cookie Dough

Do you miss the holidays now that it’s 2016??

Chimera Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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