Back in August…

Back in August…

Man, I have a TON of posts to catch up on! But if I procrastinate any longer, I proably won’t even remember enough about the pictures I have to write about them…better late than ever.

Also goes to show that being busy enough not to blog means that life things are picking up, and have me occupied in a good way. I have some big travel plans coming up in a few weeks (work-related, but still exciting!), and I’m looking forward to what that experience will bring.

In the meantime, I’ll reflect back on what I was doing in early August, right after my b-day celebrations and my sister’s arrival back in Cali. It was my last weekend with the car in my possession, but I didn’t have the desire to drive out too far…

Actually, there was a lot going on locally. The USC Village was something that was under construction for a long time now, near the downtown area. Since it’s grand opening was scheduled for mid-August to coincide with move-in day, some of the stores and restaurants had soft openings a week prior. One of the restaurants was CAVA…funny how I visited the Santa Monica location only days before!

CAVA, USC Village
CAVA, USC Village

For their soft opening, the CAVA at USC Village was giving away free food from 12-2pm! I stood in line with some of my labmates for almost 1.5 hours, but since I knew the kind of food we would be getting wasn’t some cheap meal, I had to begrudgingly admit that it was worth it.

CAVA Menu
CAVA Menu

Although…by the time we got inside and were able to place our orders, they had run out of flatbread. We all opted for grain bowls, and I had mine based with lentils, the spicy veggies and all of the other crisp veggie toppings. I think I opted for some lemon dressing this time around instead of the apricot sriracha, but it fit well with what ended up being a warm salad bowl.

Grain Bowl!
Grain Bowl!

I ate my late lunch with E before we continued on with our work day.

When Saturday rolled around, I first drove to Sprouts after a morning run to pick up a snack. I’ve been on a GoMacro bar kick lately (my latest bar obsession), and Sprouts carries their Everlasting Joy flavor, the proceeds of which go to help the homeless.

GoMacro Everlasting Joy
GoMacro Everlasting Joy

I love their chocolate chip/nut butter flavors, so this was an instant favorite of mine. I mean, coconut flakes added to either of those types of flavors can only make it better.

I worked in lab for some of the morning, and since E was also finishing up some stuff, we finished around noon and walked over to where I parked the car to drive off to lunch.

She suggested earlier in the week that we both share a Turkish Breakfast at Mama’s Secret, a cozy, Turkish establishment very close to Beverly Connection.

Anyone got $1,000 for breakfast??
Anyone got $1,000 for breakfast??

Maybe if we combined a good chunk of our monthly income, we could have split the $1,000 pancakes…but we weren’t feeling too rich that day, haha!

What we could afford vs. what we couldn't
What we could afford vs. what we couldn’t

Nah, the Turkish Breakfast and cheese-stuffed flatbread not only sounded affordable, but well-rounded and filling for two people.

The Turkish breakfast was served with an assortment of cheeses, veggies, turkey slices (that we left alone), and flatbread. The sauces/dips were filled in cups and included hummus, tahini, honey, jam, nutella, and a ricotta-looking cheese curd.

TURKISH BREAKFAST
TURKISH BREAKFAST

And of course we had some warm tea…

The cheese-stuffed flatbread was my favorite, even though it wasn’t part of the breakfast platter. It came out already cut out in small portions so it was easy to split.

One of the cheese-stuffed flatbreads they offered. I believe ours was spiced with parsley and basil.
One of the cheese-stuffed flatbreads they offered. I believe ours was spiced with parsley and basil.

I had no idea that these cheese-filled flatbreads were a staple of Turkish cuisine, but my friend confirmed this foodie fact. I’d go as far as to say it’s one of my new favorite dishes now!

E was meeting some other friends for a movie-in-the-park event (one that I actually went to myself for a friend’s birthday last year…) so I dropped her off before heading home. I felt tired enough to go to sleep early, but I did have a night dessert before turning in.

That Snickerdoodle Dough
That Snickerdoodle Dough

Nada Moo’s Snickerdoodle is cream was soft and creamy, but the lack of dough pieces was a huge disappointment and sub-par in comparison to So Delicious’ offering. Ah well, they tried…

What your current food obsession?

Have you ever had a Turkish breakfast?

Mama's Secret Bakery & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Exploration

Exploration

The best way to explore a new place is on foot—by running or walking.

Wood Chip Trail Tree

I was able to do just that in Hermosa Beach…and ended up walking along Manhattan Beach and across to Redondo Beach all in one day :P!

View from Here

To be fair, the three areas are quite cozy neighbors, where this…

Hermosa

Quickly becomes this…

Manhattan Beach!

A hour and half later, this…

Welcome to Redondo Beach

I remember staying in Redondo Beach when I was really young when we were visiting Disneyland, but I don’t remember what it actually looked like. That was quickly taken care of though, as I was on my feet all day—picturing myself as the nomadic traveler crossing cities and soaking in the scenes around me.

¤

I began my morning in Hermosa with a run along the wood chip trail.

Woodchip

On Woodchip

After 4 miles of running, I walked with no real destination in mind, and ended up walking alongside Manhattan Beach!

Manhattan Beach Strand

Even though it was Monday late morning, it certainly felt like the weekend since there were so many volleyballers on the beach, bikers, and locals strolling on the sidewalks.

Beach Volleyball

I made my way to the pier…

The Pier

…so I could get a closer view of the ocean…

Ocean

After breathing in that fresh (salty) air, I made my back to the woodchip trail but passed some shops and restaurants (that I made sure to add to my mental foodie list 😉 ) along the way.

More Woodchip

I knew I wanted to check out Sprouts, and after learning there was a location nearby in Redondo Beach (about 2.5 miles from our hotel), I decided to trek on.

Totally random pair of running shoes out there in the open...haha :)
Totally random pair of running shoes out there in the open…haha 🙂

One thing I must mention though before wandering around anywhere is MAKE SURE THE AREA IS SAFE. You don’t want to be the naïve nomad, that’s for sure ;). Fortunately, there wasn’t much to worry about since I was walking through safe beach house-style neighborhoods and major plazas and marketplaces. Also add on the fact that it was broad daylight and 80 something degrees…

It was a good thing I got a run in early in the morning because the 2.5 mile walk killed my legs by the time I got to Sprouts. I think it was a mix of being on my feet all morning plus the heat. Needless to say, I felt like I had found my oasis when I walked inside.

Sprouts Farmer's Market

To be honest, I wasn’t blown away by the store, but I do like checking out health food/organic stores for fun :P. And they had this bar I hadn’t tried yet!

Greens Plus Omega 3 Chia Chocolate Energy Bar  Yummy!
Greens Plus Omega 3 Chia Chocolate Energy Bar
Smooth chocolate coat over a crunchy and crispy center with, you guessed it, CHIA SEEDS 🙂

I was exhausted from all of the day’s running and walking, so after resting for a while at the Panera next door, my Dad came by to pick me up so I could freshen up before dinner.

¤

We decided to stay local since we were both tired from our respective events of the day. Finding a vegetarian place to eat wasn’t hard, especially with a place called Happy Veggie a short drive away from us.

Happy Veggie

At first, we missed it since it was nestled in a strip mall, but we soon made our way inside and helped ourselves to some seats near the entrance and peered into the menu.

Happy Veggie Menu

Inside Happy Veggie Menu

The green bamboo theme was quite welcoming.

Side of Table

Weeknight Crowd

Weeknight Crowd 2

We decided to order one dish each, and order an additional dish if we were still hungry. It took us about ten minutes for our food to arrive, but when it did, we could tell we were having some happy veggies ;).

Dad’s order:

Veggie Stir-Fry Delight
Soup with Steamed Veggies and Tofu

and ofcourse, a side of brown rice:

Side of Brown Rice

I felt like having a curry something:

Curry Vegetable Masala
Curry Vegetable Masala

Still a bit hungry, we decided to split the Mongolion (Soy) Chicken entrée.

Soy chicken simmered with onions and bell peppers in a garlic and black bean sauce
Soy chicken simmered with onions and bell peppers in a garlic and black bean sauce

I sort of wish I had ordered this dish earlier! The black bean sauce made this so spicy and so my style ;)!

Overall, the dishes were not out-of-this-world amazing, and yeah, I could make this stuff at home, but the option to have something vegetarian and nutritious (especially when you are on the road) is something I am always grateful for.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and I went to sleep early. Both of us had busy days the next day, so some rest and recuperation was very much needed for me ;)!

How can you NOT relax with this view?
How can you NOT relax with this view?

How do you like to explore a new city or area?

Happy Veggie on Urbanspoon

The So-Called Bloggy Break, Part Trois

The So-Called Bloggy Break, Part Trois

To see part one (or part two) and learn more about the “break”, click here!

Aug 13th) Home

Palm trees = Cali = Home
Palm trees = Cali = Home♥

Aug 14th) Stillness

The still trees at the local park on a warm August day :)
The still trees at the local park on a warm August day 🙂

Aug 15th) Books

I like books as much as the next person, but my sister is the bookaholic...this is just one shelf.
I like books as much as the next person, but my sister is the bookaholic…this is just one shelf.

Aug 16th) Floral

So many lovely flowers are finally starting to grow in our garden :]
So many lovely flowers are finally starting to grow in our garden :]

Aug 17th) Touch

Cat fur...enough said ;)!
Cat fur…enough said ;)!

Aug 18th) Looking Down

Looking down on a cherry tomato plant. They're fun to pick and top on salads :)!
Looking down on a cherry tomato plant. They’re fun to pick and top on salads :)!

Aug 19th) White

First night of short trip to So Cal---clean duvet covers are nice to lie on when in a car for six hours...
First night of short trip to So Cal—clean duvet covers are nice to lie on when in a car for six hours…

Aug 20th) Taste

Two new-to-me bars!
Two new-to-me bars! I love the Greens Plus Natural Peanut Butter Protein Bar, even if the greenish hue can be off-putting to some. And of course the Pure Organic Wild Blueberry Bar. It’s a good snack to munch on even if you have butterflies in your stomach ;).

Aug 21st) Something Old

They may look old, but these stairs have a charming beauty...and they lead you to the beach!
They may look old, but these stairs have a charming beauty…and they lead you to the beach!

Aug 22nd) Midday

I saw these while walking through the beachy neighborhoods of  Hermosa Beach midday, and they reminded me of tomatillos.
I saw these while walking through the beachy neighborhoods of Hermosa Beach midday, and they reminded me of tomatillos.
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