Little Lab Outing

Little Lab Outing

We recently has a post-doc leave our lab to pursue a new job, and as a result, we’ve been shifting the seating arrangements of our lab personnel…in other words, my lab bestie (E) moved into the office I am in, as well as another person I like talking to in lab! From the two offices our lab occupies, my office became the “loud and fun one” pretty much overnight πŸ˜›

To celebrate the new arrangements, me, E, and our other colleague went out for lunch Tuesday afternoon. Azla Vegan Ethiopian was a food court-style restaurant in a mini shopping complex called Mercado de Paloma, but this specific food spot was a place I had on my foodie radar for a while now (like so many places I am realizing, haha)!

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Azla Ethiopian Vegan

E and I ended up eating here while our colleague got a quesadilla lunch from one of the other food court stalls. We picked 3-4 side items, and got two rolls of injera with our plates.

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Small, but one of the cuter storefronts in the shopping complex.

We were able to pick from dressed lentil salads, curried lentils, greens, cooked vegetables, and spicy tofu to pair up with our injera.

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Salads!

There was also a small assortment of vegan baked goods, but we (well at least I did!) knew our plates would be filling enough.

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Savory, and a bunch of sweets.

E’s plate was full, packed and looked delicious! I didn’t get the lentil salad, but looking at E’s plate made me second-guess that decision.

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E’s plate

My plate had the curried lentils, boiled potatoes/cabbage/carrot, gomen (cooked spinach), and two rolls of injera. The three of us walked over with our plates of food and found a table to sit at, amongst racks of clothes and in front of other food stalls.

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My plate πŸ™‚

We spent the next hour enjoying our lunch and each other’s company. I made this comment on Instagram, but being able to go out for lunch on a Tuesday with lab mates, and not having food be the focus felt so refreshing. It was just another reminder that I am progressing through recovery, and that I’m also improving when it comes to taking advantage of social opportunities. I’m forming relationships, and allowing those to grow while, gradually with each day, I am squashing that eating disorder voice. This is recovery in action, and I’m loving that days like these are starting to occur more in frequency.

We went back to work after lunch, but I felt much more energized from both the food and endorphin burst from all the laughing we did. I’m sure these lunches will become a regular occurrence, and seeing that it took me two years to feel “at home” at work, I couldn’t be happier about this prospect.

Do you hang out with work colleagues outside of work?

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

Let the Good Times Roll

Let the Good Times Roll

I got a good dose of endorphins and happy hormones last Saturday. Actually, the happiness rush began last Thursday evening, when I received a care package from my Dad! He says it’s for passing my quals, but I think he would have been kind enough to send me a little something regardless πŸ˜‰ . It absolutely made my week and I thanked him for it!

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“This is what happens when your Dad wants to surprise you for passing your qualifying exam a little over a month ago…and when Sprouts has a 3/$5 deal on @lennyandlarrys cookies. Shipping just the cookies alone in a small mailing box did not justify the shipping price. So in went some other items, and the box naturally grew wider πŸ˜‚. Haha, I was so happy to find this at my doorstep yesterday evening ☺️”

On Saturday, my friend from lab (let’s call her “E”) and I were able to hang out outside of lab again. We had not spent some free time together since our movie outing to see Hidden Figures last month, so a girl’s day was overdue!

We both met in lab (duh) Saturday morning to take care of some things for our experiments. From there, we bused to Koreatown, laptops in hand and with coffee on the mind.

She used to frequent a little, hole-in-the-wall place known as Document Cafe. Based on her previous ventures, she has been insisting that we both go together sometime to have coffee and get some work done, since they have a good environment for working and strong wi-fi.

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People here know the drill…

We finally did so on Saturday, and I was able to prevent her from buying for me ;). She got a simple cappucino (with barista foam art) and I felt adventurous and bought their affogato.

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“Affogatos and data analysis on a Saturday afternoon with the lab bestie β˜•οΈ πŸ”¬ πŸ€“. This vanilla bean ice cream + chicory root coffee mix from @document_coffee_bar was excellent!”

We found seats by the wall, set-up our workspaces, and waited for our caffeinated creations to be completed.

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Waiting for treats!

My affogato immediately reminded me of a mini root beer float. It had a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream at the bottom, chicory root coffee throughout the cup, and then another generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream at the top.

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Cute little spoon to eat the Affogato with.

I will say that it doesn’t taste good unless you completely immerse the coffee with some of the ice cream, the melted parts. Otherwise the drink tastes too bitter…

We spent about 2 hours at the cafe enjoying our afternoon treats and working on lab-related data analysis/readings. We also chatted while doing so, just so that we made the whole experience a little bit more fun.

After getting our fill of caffeine, we had enough energy to walk to Wilshire/Vermont. It was approaching 4pm, and we figured why not have some froyo before calling it a day?

Yogurtland was just down the way, and I went to town with three different flavors of froyo, poppers, mochi, maraschino cherries, and Whoppers chocolate malt balls.

froYO
“Yesterday’s fun day out in K-Town naturally ended with a stop at @yogurtlandinc . Froyo makes the best accompaniment for lab gossip πŸ™ŠπŸ˜œ”

We gossiped about lab and the crazy antics of our colleagues. It felt so good to be able to vent and laugh with E outside of lab!!

I left for home around 5, and got back around 6. Since our “last” team long run before the marathon was the next morning, I went to sleep early to ensure I’d be rested enough to put in a good effort into the taper πŸ˜‰ . Sure enough, it worked since I ran the 12 miles at an average pace of 8:07/mi! Really, really hoping that I can pull off a sub-4:00 come next Sunday!

I definitely do think that having days much like Saturday have been helpful in keeping my mood up, and feeling validated by my running improvements has also helped a lot. I know that it’s normal to have an ebb and flow with moods and feelings (it’s HEALTHY to feel sad sometimes), but if I can find ways to keep my happiness up the majority of the time, why not πŸ™‚ ?

What do you do to keep happy?

Document Coffee Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sit Back and Relax?

Sit Back and Relax?

Once Wednesday morning rolled around last week, I felt much less anxious, but I did have some lingering adrenaline because I could not sleep. Post-presentation jitters? I guess that’s a thing.

I did treat myself to a latte in the morning: the new Cascara latte from Starbucks.

As a treat for my major accomplishment yesterday, I treated myself to a tall cup of the new Cascara Latte from Sbux. Was it worth a $1.00 extra vs a cappucino? Interestingly, I thought the froth was softer and creamier, and maybe it was the stevia, but it tasted so sweet. I usually have to add two packets of stevia to my cappuccino in order to get half the sweetness I got with this cup.
As a treat for my major accomplishment yesterday, I treated myself to a tall cup of the new Cascara Latte from Sbux. Was it worth a $1.00 extra vs a cappucino? Interestingly, I thought the froth was softer and creamier, and maybe it was the stevia, but it tasted so sweet. I usually have to add two packets of stevia to my cappuccino in order to get half the sweetness I got with this cup.

I saved my celebrations for the weekend though. My friend from lab and I snuck out a little early Friday evening to head downtown and see Hidden Figures. It was my friend’s second time seeing it, but she loved it so much that she didn’t mind seeing it again with me.

She ended up buying both of our tickets even though I insisted she didn’t. Ah, now I owe her—if she’ll ever give me the chance πŸ˜‰ !

I absolutely loved the movie, though I will admit I love movies and books about people and their stories. I loved reading biographies as a kid, and even now I prefer memoirs over anything else literature-wise.

On Saturday, I gave myself a rest day knowing that the next morning I would have to get up and run 15 miles. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with my day, knowing I had it all to myself with no impending items on my to-so list…

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Except maybe go frolicking around Westwood?

I ended up walking around Santa Monica in the morning because I woke up ravenous, and I wanted to get donuts from DK’s. Unfortunately, my debit card wasn’t working and I couldn’t withdraw any cash to buy any donuts from the cash-only shop. I don’t understand why they can’t take credit cards at this point with all their success/recognition, but one day I’ll be able to see what the hullabaloo is about…when I have cash in my pocket.

In the meantime, I had to find something pronto because my stomach was growling…

SuperFood Cafe in Santa Monica
SuperFood Cafe in Santa Monica

I totally forgot about SuperFood Cafe’s existence, even though I had been planning to check this place out a while back. They have an incredible amount of vegan and vegetarian items, hinted by the size of their large laminated menus.

At the counter, I ordered a warm bowl called Chef Tofu and a coffee because that morning I desperately needed one. I then found a seat and admired the high ceilings and warm, cozy color tones.

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Nothing says comfort like a giant mug of coffee

I added two packets of brown sugar and one serving of creamer to the coffee, which made it taste much more magical. My bowl came in a very interesting-shaped bowl—it looked like something you’d find in an art gallery.

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That crazy looking bowl though.

The bowl itself contained organic tofu, hemp seed, organic broccoli, kale & spinach, and organic tomato-corn-chipotle salsa. The tofu had a nice spice to it, being coated with a light curry sauce and all.

chef_TOfuuu
Ah, a bowl of yum!

With my hunger satisfied, I decided I might as well do something fun, but cultural, with my free day. I took the bus (which stopped right in front of SuperFood, conveniently!) to Westwood, and decided to check out the Hammer Museum since I hadn’t been yet!

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Hammer Museum—an illusion of size

The museum was actually pretty small. From the outside it looks enormous, but then I realized that the bulk of it was a parking garage…so much for culture! While it was gorgeous on the inside, there were only TWO art displays open, and so my visit was drastically cut down to a fifteen minute walk-through…

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Pretty, but small & quiet

So, I ended up doing what I pretty much do on my weekends when not in lab…grocery shop, and then head home to nap! At least at my grocery stops over the weekends, I treated myself to some delicious new finds:

I had this Falafel Wrap from Trader Joe’s on Sunday, after a 15-mile long run with my team. After having the Veggie Hummus and Grilled Eggplant wraps though, I found this one to be awfully dry even with the provided tahini sauce. It didn’t help that all the falafel were to one side (it made it harder to dip that side into the sauce cup)…maybe if they had been assembled in a staggered arrangement, it would have helped with the dunking?

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Trader Joe’s Falafel Wrap

I also used some Vitamin Shoppe points I had to go towards my first jar of D’s Naturals Fluffbutter!

I tried D's Naturals Fluffbutter for the first time last night! It's a vegan protein-infused peanut butter that comes in a number of flavors, but Creamy Chocolate S'mores caught my eye immediately. It has a thick consistency, but that's balanced out with a good proportion of peanut oil to make it easy to spread. It tastes like a mild chocolate peanut butter, and comes in the perfect small-sized jar. So excited to get my hands on the other flavors and see how they compare!
I tried D’s Naturals Fluffbutter for the first time last night! It’s a vegan protein-infused peanut butter that comes in a number of flavors, but Creamy Chocolate S’mores caught my eye immediately. It has a thick consistency, but that’s balanced out with a good proportion of peanut oil to make it easy to spread. It tastes like a mild chocolate peanut butter, and comes in the perfect small-sized jar. So excited to get my hands on the other flavors and see how they compare!

As described by my caption so succinctly, I enjoyed this flavor immensely πŸ™‚

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I will be on the hunt for the others!

I would say that my post-exam jitters finally went away Monday morning. I woke up feeling much more refreshed than I did last Wednesday, and so far, that feeling’s been holding up pretty well πŸ™‚

Does it take you a while (psychologically) to get back to your normal routine after a long stressful event is over?

Superfood Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Her 21st

Her 21st

Last weekend’s events were spectacular. I am so grateful for being able to visit my sister on a milestone occasion—her 21st birthday!

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Slice of chocolate birthday cake. Can’t pass up a slice in celebration!

I wanted to maximize the time I spent with her so much that I took a night MegaBus so that I could get to Oakland by 7am that Friday morning. From there, one of our besties who also didn’t want to miss out picked me up, and after getting coffee we drove 3 hours to Fresno!

My sister couldn’t contain her excitement when she knew we were close. She skipped class (haha) so that we could all have lunch together at Taqueria Don Pepe.

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Taqueria Don Pepe

It was incredibly hot outside (pushing 100s!!) but they had a small, shaded patio where we could sit down and enjoy our lunch. My sister and I both got vegetarian tortes while our friend got enchiladas (despite talking nonstop about her taco craving for the 3 hours I drove with her, lol).

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Pickle bar, small interior

The torta was made with a soft but toasted hoagie roll and filled with refried beans, good ol’ avocado, tomato slices, onion, and shredded cheese. My friend seemed to like her enchiladas, but she actually got bored mid-plate and started talking about splitting fries with my sister from Dog House Grill next door!

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Veg torta anyone?

We went shopping for a bit afterwards at Target, and then came back to my sister’a dorm for some rest before heading out to dinner.

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Everythannnng in here

My sis and friend spent forever doing their makeup, and opened a bottle of wine to drink before we left. I was “designated mommy” since I don’t drink, so I let my sis enjoy her new-found freedom with alcohol. She’s actually probably the smartest person I know when it comes to drinking safety…she did her research and did not go crazy at all. She told me she stayed hydrated and drank only after eating something substantial the night she had her first drink, on her actual birthday. Obviously I’m bragging now because I’m such a proud older sis.

After they had their fun, I drove us all to The Cheesecake Factory because my sister had a giftcard she wanted to use, and because I had never been to TCH!!

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The Cheesecake Factory on a Friday…so busy!!

We had to wait about 45 minutes before we could get a table, and when we were taken to our seats we came across a server who was scrambling to set up our table. It was the most awkward thing ever, as it looked like he was literally playing musical chairs with silverware. We stood there in polite silence, but were all actually thinking what the…

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Sis and friend’s drinks…I helped myself to chips and guac.

We ordered A TON, and I ended up reprimanding both ladies for it afterwards because we needed up taking four boxes home. We devoured a whole bread basket, shared chips and guacamole, and my sis and friend ordered huge plates of burgers with sides. My sis got a side salad that she didn’t even touch because she got the kale salad appetizer. I tried the mozzarella flatbread, and while it was crisp and creamy from the cheese, it was not the most stellar thing to cross paths with my tastebuds.

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A sub-par flatbread pizza

After dinner, we walked through the mall for a bit and then drove back. We finished the night with the Bratz movie (just to make fun of it, and it was unsurprisingly the only thing we could all agree upon) and I was the first one to fall asleep.

I woke up the next morning to squeeze in a 6 miler, but as soon as the ladies woke up, we for ourselves ready for an eggy brunch—Fresno style!

Do you drink?

What was your first alcoholic drink ?

Taqueria Don Pepe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast

Last week was a hectic one, and this week was insane. Thankfully it’s Friday, and my vacation to the PNW is coming up πŸ˜‰

Since last week was graduation, and we had two people in my lab walk in the ceremony and officially receive their PhDs, everyone has been feeling the stress (and excitement). I would say for me, it’s more stress than excitement, but I’m doing my best to work it out, and work it out with the people that are involved.

Did I mention that I need a vacation?

Snacks leading up to graduation were alright, and featured some new-to-me bars. I tried the NoGii brand for the first time, and Oh Yeah! One’s newest flavor: chocolate birthday cake!

The NoGii super protein bar in chocolate peanut butter flavor had a mild after taste and the chocolate layer seemed filmy, but the chocolate flavor itself was alright.

NoGii Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Crisp Super Protein
NoGii Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Crisp Super Protein

The cookies & creme flavor had a harder texture, but it didn’t have an abnormal aftertaste.

NoGii Cookies & Creme Super Protein Bar
NoGii Cookies & Creme Super Protein Bar

The campus bookstore was fully stocked of Oh Yeah! One’s newest, chocolate birthday cake, and it tasted more like a stick of fudge with sprinkles. Perhaps if it had a cake-like center things would have been more different?

OhYeah! One Bar - Chocolate Birthday Cake
OhYeah! One Bar – Chocolate Birthday Cake

On the Saturday after graduation, one of my lab mates and I attended a series of talks in the afternoon. Prior to the event, we had a light lunch at Dinette, a small but cleanly-designed eating space in the heart of Echo Park.

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Somewhere in Echo Park

Even the umbrellas looked fresh.

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Dinette

The ordering counter was encased in glass, and there were pastries/savories placed by the display case on the side.

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Such clean windows at the ordering counter
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Behind all those pastries…

The menu was written on a classic blackboard, but I knew I wanted the avocado toast, and it didn’t take much convincing for my friend to order it either πŸ˜‰

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Menu!

We were able to find an empty table in the patio area as we waited for our names to be called and our toasts to be handed over to us.

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Patio seating…don’t mind that guy’s leg, haha.

My friend’s name was called before mine even though she ordered after me, but they handed her my toast as well.

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Avocado toast with olive oil and chili flakes…

Each toast was placed on branded parchment paper in a baking tray, and spread generously with heapings of avocado, chili flakes, and olive oil drizzle.

Just look at it though…

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I SAID, avocado toast with olive oil and chili flakes…

Once our toasts were eaten and not a crumb was left, we ended up walking in the wrong direction for ten minutes before turning around and heading to the actual event! We stayed in the area until about 4pm, and then took the bus back home since we live in the same general area (and since neither of us have a car!).

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Heading home.

It was a nice break in routine to spend a weekend outing with another person, instead of having yet another solo adventure…and it was even someone from work, which made it more fun in since I got to know them in a more casual setting.

An (avocado) toast—to sharing more weekend outings with acquaintances that slowly become friends πŸ™‚

What is/are your favorite topping(s) for toast?

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

Fries & Friends

Fries & Friends

I originally didn’t plan to have much of an exciting Halloween weekend this year. While this year’s festivities didn’t include a Halloween-themed race or an excuse to buy a costume, I at least had the opportunity to meet two fabulous bloggers for a “Halloween Eve” dinner on Friday night.

My FriDAY included the usual things—lab from morning to evening, but leaving an hour before the dinner meet-up so that I would have enough time to get to Los Feliz by bus. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much traffic for a Friday night, and the bus wasn’t too crowded either!

 It wasn't quite Halloween, but it was starting to feel like Christmas with the lights out and all!!
It wasn’t quite Halloween, but it was starting to feel like Christmas with the lights out and all!!

It took me about 10 minutes to walk from the bus stop over to our restaurant destination, and once I arrived, I waited outside.

 Outside of Spitz in Los Feliz
Outside of Spitz in Los Feliz

To be honest, I was a bit nervous about meeting these two ladies, but when I finally met them, I realized I had nothing to be worried about. Britt and Gigi were all smiles, and after a quick set of easy-going intros, we all proceeded inside—straight towards the restrooms, haha.

 Menus outside
Menus outside

After freshening up, we gravitated towards the counter so we could order food. Gigi is an expert on all things Spitz, so she knew exactly what to get. Brittany ordered a vegan-friendly plate with one (adorable) falafel on the side, and I decided to chow down on the Street Cart Fries. I think the words “garlic aioli” are what caught my attention on that one πŸ˜‰ !

 Can you guess what I got? Not sure if the arrow helps ;)
Can you guess what I got? Not sure if the arrow helps πŸ˜‰

We found a table at the back of the restaurant, and quickly got into conversation. Our conversation naturally focused on food, running, blogging, and anticipation about B’s and G’s trip to Disneyland the next day, so there was no room for awkward silences πŸ˜›

 Street Cart Fries - fries topped with garlic aioli, feta, onion, green pepper, tomato, olives, and pepperoncinis
Street Cart Fries – fries topped with garlic aioli, feta, onion, green pepper, tomato, olives, and pepperoncinis

The only exception would be was when our food arrived. We were all so hungry, so it was understandable. Plus, food >>> spoken words, it’s a well-known fact.

 Close-up of fries. Yum yum!
Close-up of fries. Yum yum!

I ended up getting the happy hour portion, which was supposedly smaller than the regular portion. The cashier recommended that it would be enough food, and even though I found that to be true, I felt like I could have cleaned out the regular-sized basket. The fries were that good…probably because of the aioli and feta. I was also blown away by the roasted chickpeas Gigi ordered and kindly shared with the table.

Our meet-up was only ~ 1hr long, and my only regret was not being able to spend more time with these lovely ladies! After being dropped off at the closest Metro, we exchanged hugs and wished each other well. Hopefully there will be more chances in the future to get to know these two more πŸ™‚ !

My first-ever bloggers meet-up was a success, and hopefully it won’t be my last πŸ˜€ !

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

Crossroads Kitchen & a Troubador Concert

Crossroads Kitchen & a Troubador Concert

I normally don’t do much on weekend nights, since I tend to do all of my adventuring during the day, but when my friend (who I met from my marathon training team last year) invited me to attend a concert with her at the Troubador, I agreed because why not?

Before getting to the venue at 8pm, we had dinner at a way-too-fancy vegan place—Crossroads Kitchen.

 Crossroads Kitchen
Crossroads Kitchen

Even though the lighting was not ideal for pictures, it was beautiful. We were able to get a high table near the front of the restaurant, and the view from high(er) up was awesome.

 Dim, but beautiful lighting!
Dim, but beautiful lighting!

It took us a while to get our orders in, but we didn’t order that much anyway. Just a small salad and a pizza to share. We were even warned by our hostess that the portions would be small, but we decided to go through with our initial choices and consider ordering more later if need be.

 Tapas-style menu.
Tapas-style menu.

One of the iconic dishes served here is the “seafood” tower, which is really all plant-based, vegan-friendly, seafood-shaped finger food to share among 4-6 people. It’s also pretty pricey…$45 I think!

 Front and back of Crossroads Kitchen.
Front and back of Crossroads Kitchen.

Our baby beet salad came out first, and featured a variety of mellon-balled beets mixed with feta, walnuts, apple slices, and balsamic sauce.

Baby Beet Salad - candied walnuts, kit hill almond cheese, granny smith apples, balsamic gastrique
Baby Beet Salad – candied walnuts, kit hill almond cheese, granny smith apples, balsamic gastrique

The pizza—which was certainly perfect for one—was our favorite. The crust was warm and toasty, while the cheese and “meatball” pieces had just enough crumble for added texture without falling all over the plate.

Spicy Meatball Pizza - housemade "meatballs", calabrese peppers, almond ricotta, micro basil
Spicy Meatball Pizza – housemade “meatballs”, calabrese peppers, almond ricotta, micro basil

These two dishes were actually enough to tide us over for the concert. We were also running short on time, so we thought it would be wise to not invest in more food.

We got to the Troubador a little before 8pm, and waited near the stage until the concert started at 8:30pm. The act was William Fitzsimmons, an indie folk singer with a mellow, acoustic sound.

 At the Troubador before the show start.
At the Troubador before the show start.

There was opening act before WF playing until 9:30pm, and WF took the stage until 11:15pm, but my friend and I left around 10:30pm since I was feeling tired and she had a 40 minute drive back home. Overall, it was a very soothing concert…even though I had to stand up the entire time since my friend insited we be close to the stage πŸ˜‰

At least I was exhausted enough to fall into a deep sleep once I got home!

Are you a fan of indie folk music?

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

william fitzsimmons.

Can’t Go Wrong with Carbs

Can’t Go Wrong with Carbs

The week after LDW was one that started off slow, but once it picked up momentum, I couldn’t believe it was the weekend by the time Friday rolled around. My meals during the week were the routine, somewhat mundane meals I have often talked about on the blog, but my proyo bowls for this particular week had a new addition to them.

 Wowbutter!
Wowbutter!

I found this intriguing jar of Wowbutter while shopping at Sprouts over LDW, and was fascinated by how it tasted exactly like peanut butter…even though it was completely peanut-free! Soy nuts were the key ingredient instead, and the crunchy version tasted much better than regular ol’ crunchy peanut butter I’ve had in the past.

wowbutter_proyo
Me and my predictable proyo bowls :9

I had it topped on Raw Meal mixed in with lemon greek yogurt, and altogether it was an awesome combination!

On Friday night, I was able to meet up with a few of my classmates from last year, and I was especially excited about this meeting since I had not seen them since the beginning of summer! We’ve all been crazy busy in our respective labs, and so when one of my friends invited me to a wine & lasagna night being held at her house, I couldn’t pass up the invite! Plus, CARBS!

friday night lasagna
Multiple servings of freshly-made lasagna, soft garlic bread, and brownies from the box πŸ˜›

After lab, I carpooled with my friend to her house, and helped her and her roommate (a first-year actually!) with lasagna prep. I was on zucchini-cutting duty ;D . After a couple hours, more people arrived—mostly first-years by the time everyone showed up, but a few of my classmates/friends showed up as well, and it was nice seeing them again!

After getting my fill of food and chatter, I started to feel tired around 11pm (shocker I even stayed up that late, I know…) and my friend graciously offered her bed for me to use. I still couldn’t get to a sound state of sleep, since people had to pass through her bedroom to get to the only bathroom in the house, and the constant party noise/bright lights from the dining room didn’t help…so it wasn’t really until 2am that I finally got some shut-eye. Well…my friend’s dogs were a bit noisy, but they’re adorable lap dogs so I’ll give ’em a pass πŸ˜‰

On Saturday morning, my friend dropped me off in lab, where I spent an exhausting morning on my feet collecting that data. I did force myself to go grocery shopping though, and when I was finally done with everything by the late afternoon, I came home to find my roommate stepping out to go to a party. I had the apartment to myself for the rest of the evening, so that obviously only meant one thing: TV & ice cream!

 Chubby Hubby? Don't mind if I do...
Chubby Hubby? Don’t mind if I do…

I had high hopes for this flavor, but was somewhat disappointed with the odd shape of the pretzels. They were definitely not the usual knot shape, but had the shape similar to that of cheese puffs. They were covered in chocolate though, so maybe that made up for it?

I did like the peanut butter swirl though (even if it was only a sliver in the entire pint).

My low-key Saturday night soon became a productive Sunday morning: an early morning long run followed by lab work, and an insatiable craving for donuts once I was finished with all of that. California Donuts was on my mind, so I decided to finally pay them a visit before heading home to catch up on some reading for class.

california donuts (1)
Outside of California Donuts

I expected to find a stand-alone donut shop decorated with bright lights and a room for seating, but what I found was a strip mall donut shop with counter service. Even though it was too hot for steamy donuts, there was a still a long line at the burn-me-to-a-crisp hour of 3pm.

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“Stop staring at me!” the donuts cried.

At least standing in line gave me enough time to figure out what in the world I wanted…

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A Koreatown institution.

Once it was my turn, I ended up choosing one flavor that caught my eyes initially—blueberry cinnamon toast crunch, and then I had to pick a chocolate-based one for “balance”, so butterfinger crunch it was πŸ˜‰

california donuts (4)
Donuts eaten with a fork.

To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the too soft, too doughy consistency of the donuts (yes, even though dough is part of the name!). The glaze for each was flavorful, but I felt like it couldn’t do much to affect the taste of the entire donut. When it comes to desserts in the cake family, I prefer a 50/50 cake/bread-to-icing/frosting ratio…maybe even more in the icing/frosting department. In terms of this personal rubric, unfortunately these two donuts didn’t meet the mark.

california donuts (5)
Closer…

But they sure were pretty to look at!

california donuts (6)
They were photogenic though…

I think for now, Donut Friend seems to outrank California Donuts in my book…but there are still a bajillion more donut shops to check out in the LA area and beyond, so my ranking may or may not change in the future πŸ˜‰ !

California Donut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Please excuse the awkward title…at least it’s not a boring “4th of July Weekend Part blah blah” πŸ˜‰

So after my sister and I completed our journey for vegan donuts, our next stop was to the beach! We realized that there was a hurdle in our plans however…since we were all the way up in Northeast LA, it was going to take at least another two hours before we arrived in West LA. Oh boy…

But, we couldn’t let traveling time get in the way of our plans. On the brightside, it would be “another adventure” for us.

We caught the train around 3pm, and transferred to a bus at Union Station. From there, things got hazy since I drifted in and out of sleep on the bus while my sister listened to music. The bus was packed by the time we got off, and we witnessed some crazy passengers saying some crazy things when we were on board. Perhaps it was the 4th of July-induced adrenaline?

We got off in Venice, and decided to walk down to Marina Del Rey where the fireworks were taking place that night. Even though we were complaining about the walking we had to do earlier in the day, this stroll was more pleasant since there was an ocean breeze along with it being overcast.

We walked alongside the path that I remember running on one of my team long runs during marathon training season. It was such a gorgeous sight to see the yachts and boats docked in the water…on a cloudy summer evening.

 Boats docked at Fisherman's Village.
Boats docked at Fisherman’s Village.

We stopped at Fisherman’s Village for some photo-taking, and pondered over whether we should stay and wait for the fireworks then and there, or continue onwards to find something to eat.

 Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?
Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?

We chose to do the latter of course, and though the walk continued to be long, we could not help but enjoy the fantastic views of the water…

 Perfect weather & views.
Perfect weather & views.

We eventually made it to Dockweiler Beach, and walked inland from there to check out the small offering of eateries and cafes. We weren’t craving anything in particular, but we were able to find a cute, veggie-friendly storefront in the middle of a strip mall.

 The Mad Carrot!
The Mad Carrot!

The Mad Carrot looked like any ol’ cafe from the front, but the colors inside were extremely warm and inviting.

 Inside...
Inside…

They had menu cards at the front, and my eyes were immediately drawn towards the Not-chos.

 Colorful menu!
Colorful menu!

Unfortunately, they were made with turkey chili, and even though I asked if they could be made without the chili, it ended up being more complicated than it should have been. So I settled for the Vegan Sausage.

The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.
The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.

My sister got the Veggie Melt, which also came with a side of chips…

 This one actually looked pretty good!  :P
This one actually looked pretty good! πŸ˜›

Since the cafe was closing early due to the 4th of July festivities, we were given foam to-go boxes. My sis and I found a bench in the strip mall, and ate our meals before walking back to the beach. Both of us agreed that neither of our orders were knock-outs, and that we easily could have whipped something up of that caliber at home. But for the time being, it would do.

By the time we finished eating, we immediately felt weary. We had another two hours or so until the sky would be dark enough for the fireworks show. It felt like it would take an eternity though…

After some back and forth, my sister and I let our inner grannies make the decision to call it a day and head home. I arranged for our ride back with Uber, using a first-time user coupon code for a free ride up to $30! We were glad to be able to be dropped off directly at home. Needless to say, we were exhausted from our jettin’-across-LA-via-public-transit tour!

It was certainly something hot chocolate could fix!

 Yum-ay
Yum-ay

The next morning, we stayed in my apartment until an hour before my sister’s bus was scheduled to leave. After dropping her off at the station, I went by Target to pick up some eggs and a B&J’s pint for later (of course ;)) .

  Hmm...maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this...
Hmm…maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this…

I was thinking of getting another exclusive flavor, but when I saw Milk & Cookies for the first time ever, I knew I had to try it right away!

 Milk and Cookies pint!!!!
Milk and Cookies pint!!!!

It looked like an ice cream core when I opened it, but it just turned out to be a huge chunk of chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I am not complaining when I say this though!

Once I started making my way through the pint, it was slowly transforming from ice cream to milkshake—a “cookie shake” to be more precise.

The rest of the day, and weekend for that matter, was spent relaxing at home, and going to sleep very early. Sometimes the most fun events in life can make you (happily) exhausted.

If you live in the US, did you celebrate the 4th of July with a fireworks show?

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Pizza and a Movie

Pizza and a Movie

After spending ten straight days running, it felt glorious to sleep in, and not have to worry about getting a mandatory workout in. It was the absolute perfect way to start the three-day Independence Day weekend!

Since my sister was staying with me for a few days, we had tons of fun things planned πŸ˜‰

The fun began later in the morning, after stopping by lab to check on an experiment. We were out by noon, and proceeded to take the train + bus to WeHo for a scrumptious lunch before hitting the movie theater.

 Enter, EVO Kitchen
Enter, EVO Kitchen

While it wasn’t a completely vegetarian/vegan establishment, EVO Kitchen offered plenty of organic, vegan, and gluten-free options. Many of the menu items could be made meatless upon request however. This was a fact that pleased my sister and I, after taking an extensive amount of time looking at the large offering of pizzas.

 All the pizzas sound amazing. Right before getting our pizzas, the waiter gave us some garlic salt and pepper flakes!
All the pizzas sound amazing. Right before getting our pizzas, the waiter gave us some garlic salt and pepper flakes!

The restaurant itself was small and cozy, with a smattering of booths and small tables + chairs. There was a bar to the right, and from where we were sitting, we could see part of the kitchen and the cooks hard at work!

iterior
The cozy interior.

It took a while for our pizzas to arrive (or maybe we were just that hungry?) but when they did, my sister and I split our pizzas in half to share with one another. πŸ˜‰

On top: the BLEU CHEESE STEAK without steak - mushrooms, onions, marinara, mozzarella and gorgonzola // on bottom: the BBQ CHICKEN without chicken - BBQ sauce, tofu cubes, scallions, onions, soy cheese.
On top: the BLEU CHEESE STEAK without steak – mushrooms, onions, marinara, mozzarella and gorgonzola // on bottom: the BBQ CHICKEN without chicken – BBQ sauce, tofu cubes, scallions, onions, soy cheese.

Out of the two pizzas, the one I ordered [the BLEU CHEESE “STEAK”] was my favorite. I ordered it with multigrain crust, and it came out super crunchy as a result. There was also a mild tang to the marinara, and overall, was perfectly-sized for a lunch portion.

 The chili flakes added a pop of color...and just look at those scallions!
The chili flakes added a pop of color…and just look at those scallions!

The BBQ pizza, from the slices I tried, was good…just not mind-blowing. The BBQ sauce tasted more like ketchup than a spicy BBQ sauce, but at least the tofu cubes were quite chewy and added variety to the toppings.

 BBQ with tofu!!
BBQ with tofu!!

After lunch, we made a semi-made dash for the bus stop to head to The Grove. We wanted to make the 4PM showing of Inside Out, but ended up having to get tickets for the following show at 5:30PM…not because we missed the bus or anything, but rather all of the seats for the 4PM show were reserved. I have never heard of reserved seating for “regular” movies before (plays, yes), nor have I ever had to pay $15 for a movie that was not in 3D.

 A nice looking theater---inside & out (haha...)---but the $15 ticket price? Not so nice...
A nice looking theater—inside & out (haha…)—but the $15 ticket price? Not so nice…

Good thing Inside Out was beyond worth it. The story, concept, characters, and ending were all on point, and I was glad that I was patient enough to wait to see the movie with my sister. After leaving the theater, we couldn’t stop talking about our favorite scenes πŸ™‚

Since it was still sunny and gorgeous outside, my sister and I stayed out longer to get some snacks from Trader Joe’s.

 Festive times at The Grove.
Festive times at The Grove.

It took us an hour or so to get home, but once we got back to my apartment, I made some scrambled eggs on toast for my hungry sister.

 Had to prove to my Dad that I was not starving my sister.  ;)
Had to prove to my Dad that I was not starving my sister. πŸ˜‰

We stayed up until 11PM (which is unusual for me πŸ˜› ) watching Friends and munching on snacks. It was nice to not have to worry about getting up early again the next day—especially since we had another fun-filled day planned for the 4th!!

Have you seen Inside Out?

How do you like your pizza?

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