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.
I’ve been dying to write about my (short) stay in Spain, but I have the need to document the days leading up to it, since it was a couple of days of trying new restaurants with loved ones and a number of new-to-me ice cream flavors (hello, Halo Top!)
The weekend before I left, I was in lab (of course) taking care of some last minute things for my trip since I was going for a conference. E also came by, and we ended up going to DTLA since it was close. We walked around for a bit semi-aimlessly, just enjoying eachother’s company and the weather, but I was getting hungry.
We found Le Pain Quotidien, and I suggested we go inside since I had never been. E showed her super sweet side when we came across a homeless young woman asking if we had any spare change. Neither of us did, but E offered to get her a coffee and a croissant.
The woman was really happy with the gesture, and even though she seemed hesitant, she did come inside to get the coffee and food.
E and I then ordered for ourselves at the counter. I ended up getting their seasonal dragonfruit bowl, while she got some avocado toast.
To be honest, the amount I got for the price I paid was disproportionate. The bowl was a measly size, barely filling the size of my palm…
E’s toast was given to her in a paper box, and looked much more filling than my excuse for a bowl…
The next day, I was able to meet up with my sister who was heading back down from a week and a half long trip in Fresno catching up with friends. She picked me up from lab, poster in tow, and we drove to Santa Monica for some early dinner.
Bareburger has been on my list of places I’ve been meaning to visit, and so it was the perfect opportunity to go for a happy hour dinner.
The inside was super cozy and definitely had a Santa Monica beachy vibe. The bar was not crowded but the after-work crowd was definitely starting to show up.
Having dinner at happy hour meant being able to snag dinner-sized food at happy hour prices! My sis and I unanimously agreed on a cup of fried pickles with dipping ranch, and we got a handhold for each of us.
Mine was the Farmstead. I didn’t read the description carefully, so I thought my wrap was going to be a bread-based handhold. To my surprise, A green-layered wrap came out with chunks of sweet potato, hummus, and a wild rice patty nicely tucked inside. I was thrown off at first, but after the first bite, I was in love, haha.
My sis dropped me off after a quick run to the grocery store, and I immediately got to packing…okay, not exactly, but I made a list 😉
The week leading up to my trip was an excuse to finally taste some of the new Halo Top flavors. I remember last year around this time when I did an extensive series of Instagram reviews on their ten new flavors release. Now, I’m excited to see that even more flavors are out and worth trying, but I’m not racing to Ralph’s with the intention to hoard every new flavor I see. But as far as the flavors I tried so far…
Halo Top Cinnamon Roll:
Halo Top Candy Bar:
Halo Top Caramel Macchiato:
Halo Top Pancakes & Waffles:
I also had two flavors that were NOT Halo Top, and one fared to be just as good as the offerings from HT and the other…not so much.
Sprouts Organic Cinnamon Pumpkin Ice Cream:
Simple Truth Low Cow Lite Ice Cream – Birthday Cake:
Now that I’ve got some major work items out of the way (for now), I can get caught up on my Spain posts (even though that was work-related too, haha). Stay-tuned!
Last Saturday, I ran the Hard Rock Cafe 10k once again. I paired it with a weekend voting adventure that ended up being more memorable than I thought it would. The turmoil I faced in the afternoon did not make me regret the race though!
I woke up incredibly early in order to catch a 5AM train. Ugh it was far from what I wanted to do in regards to getting to the race start, but I did make it to Hollywood and Highland, fortunately all in one piece!
I picked up my race shirt and bib, and seeing as there was no packet pick-up YET AGAIN, I had to wear the shirt over my current shirt. I also got a cappuccino from Starbucks in the meantime, before assembling with the other runners at the race start.
The race began at 7AM, and the path was pretty much a 3 mile out and back in regards to the 10k. It was a run down Hollywood Boulevard, and we turned around at the border of Los Feliz. I honestly felt so light and free for the first three miles. My pace was sub 8:00 for a while and then slowly crept up after mile 3.
My breath and legs were catching up to me, but I didn’t feel so exhausted to the point that I had to slow down. I had a major dip at mile 5, but then had enough energy to kick it to the finish.
I ended up with a pace of 8:12/mi ! My current 10K Race PR!
Like last year, there wasn’t much in terms of goodies.
They had the Nesquik truck again, but they also at least had Bai and this guy giving out LA Turkey Trot 2015 shorts! Obviously I thought the shorts were the best of all the race goodies being given out, even if they were more like bloomers, haha!
I left for North Hollywood soon after since I wanted to get voting out of the way (lol) but overall I was glad with how the race ended up. My last race experience in Hollywood was terrible so Saturday’s race definitely made up for that ordeal!
What would be a cool post-race freebie for a company to hand out?
The last time I went to a vegan food festival, it was when I had recently moved to LA and had learned about the inaugural Vegan Oktoberfest. I enjoyed the experience overall, but I haven’t been back since the event was first held in 2014 (if I were “invited”, perhaps I would reconsider 😉). So obviously, my attendance at a foodie festival was long overdue. I couldn’t have been more excited to attend So Cal Veg Fest!
The event was held at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Halloween weekend, but based on the food offerings and other activities planned, I had no reason to fear a thing. Except maybe transportation…
I originally thought about renting a Zipcar for the day, but then I thought about having to drive, rely on Google Maps and keeping my phone charged, crazy So Cal drivers, etc. I then estimated the cost of Uber/Lyft. It’s pretty much $50 one way from LA to Costa Mesa, and an all-day rental from Zipcar would have been around $82. In order to save just a little bit, I decided to take a bus to Downtown, and then from there take the 460 bus to Disneyland. From Disneyland, I got an Uber to Orange Coast College and that only cost me $19. Even though it would cost me a good chunk of money on my return trip, at least overall I would be spending less than if I had rented a Zipcar all day, which ultimately justifies my travel decisions 😉
When I got to the venue, I saw a plethora of tents set up and things seemed to be rolling. Since I wanted to check-in formally with the person who had been contacting me about being an ambassador, I figured the sensible thing to do would be to walk over to the information tent and find her there.
Unfortunately, I realized communication among the volunteers, staff, and media people was very unorganized. I could see everyone was working hard, but not one of the volunteers I spoke to had a clue who my contact person was. One person got so impatient with me that she just handed me one of the goody bags they were selling and some food vouchers said “just take these, I have more important things to deal with right now”, which I found downright rude as I honestly just wanted to formally meet the person who invited me to come. I wasn’t making this up!
Eventually, I thought to call my mysterious contact person since I remembered that she had her phone number in her e-mail signature. I did meet her, and she even gave me some extra food vouchers! I now felt more relaxed and eager to begin exploring all the tents.
There were samples at pretty much every tent—vegan egg rolls, protein smoothies, vegan cheese, vegan chocolate, I could have eaten a day’s worth of food in samples alone, but I had a strong enough appetite for many entrees…
I did watch part of a cooking demo while munching on my curry plate, but the idea of making second (and third) rounds at all the tents sounded more appealing.
As the day wore on, it definitely got warmer—a drastic change from the cool, breezy morning.
I wanted to spend a food voucher on some vegan Dippin’ Dots, but they didn’t take vouchers so I passed on that treat 🙁 …
Since I couldn’t get the vegan dippin dots, I “settled” for some frozen mint lemonade from Scandylicious Desserts. A lot of people had the same idea since as I made my way to the seating area near the main stage, every their person I saw had a frozen lemonade or a similar cool treat in their hands.
I actually sat down mid-presentation of a representative of Farm Sanctuary (or maybe he was the founder lol ?). He made a lot of relevant points in a non-preachy way. One of the points that I was happy to hear he believed was that veganism isn’t perfect, but it’s a lifestyle to aspire to, and that when animals are raised in a kind environment (NOT slaughterhouses) they are able to express their personalities and are such beautiful, sweet creatures. Hearing him compare turkeys to puppies and speak so lovingly about his charming rescue pigs definitely put a smile on my face, and while I’m not a vegan at this point in time, it is something I certainly want to work towards…if only for the animals and environmental conservation 😉
After the talk, I made yet another round of the tents, admiring plushies this time around, as well as using the last of my food vouchers on some vegan Hawaiian pizza. While the toppings and “cheese” were delicious, the dough was extremely chewy and it wouldn’t have hurt if it had spent more time in the oven. Oh well, I surprisingly still had an appetite (and room) for it since I engulfed it within minutes.
I decided to leave around 4pm when I felt full and ready for a nap, haha! It was at this time I braced myself as I dialed for an Uber that I knew would cost me more than a pretty penny.
But I took the perspective of that I was paying for the experience (and saving time). I was home within an hour, and my Uber driver was pretty chill and not that talkative once we were on the highway, which allowed me to listen to music while staring out the window.
When I got back home, I laid out my goods, and then promptly spent the rest of the night relaxing in my room and going to bed early.
The next day, I had a morning run with my team and after the run, didn’t feel like going out. Instead, I did some grocery shopping and was back home at 12pm…a 2 hour nap ensued, and so this pint+brownie combo happened as well:
Speaking of pints, I happened to have three more of the new Halo Top pint flavors. Not vegan, but very much vegetarian-friendly!
When I lived near DTLA, everything was pretty much an hour away by public transit. Hollywood, Pasadena, Santa Monica…it made choosing where to go on the weekends very, very hard.
My default place to go would be the Grove because all of my favorite food stores were pretty much in the same area, and there was always some new cool restaurant to check out.
Since moving to Santa Monica however, my inclination to go out has gotten smaller. Venturing out to anything past the SaMo seems so arduous! Haha. But, I don’t think I’m missing out at all…since I’ll be living in my current place until at least next summer, I might as well take in all of Santa Monica I can get!
It’s also incredibly easier to explore more of the city without time constraints, now that the Metro Expo line has expanded. I think I’ve stepped foot onto 3rd St. Promenade at least once every weekend this month, and when I lived in DTLA, this area was a destination. Now, it’s a landmark point for me to find other gems in the city. Mostly foodie-related ones, like Erven.
I think Erven took the place of RFD’s location in Santa Monica, because The interior was strangely familiar. It seemed to be a matching replacement though, since Erven is a restaurant serving vegan, plant-based cuisine.
For the lunch hours, they had their cold spread of foods like salads, cold sandwiches, and dessert goods at the front with the cashier. You also could order to dine in at the same counter.
For my meal, I decided to go with a hot sandwich and get the beer-battered tofu with a side of slaw. I found a table in the next room by a large window, perfect for people watching.
At the tables in front of me and in my view, there were groups of women having Saturday brunch. Actually there was a 20-30 year old group and a 30-50 year old group (if I were to guess the age ranges) and not a man in sight…except for the interesting painting on the wall, haha!
When my sandwich came, I was speechless…was this really beer-battered tofu, or a filet-o-fish sandwich?!
Literally looked too beautiful to eat.
The bottoms of each bun had a spicy tomato-like spread, and above the beer-battered tofu, there was more of the slaw that I originally has as a side. The tofu itself had a perfectly golden crust (as evident by the full picture of the sandwich) and overall I would describe it as tangy, crispy, warm, and hearty sandwich. Definitely hit the spot, and my plate was pretty much clean by the end of it!
I also made away with THREE new Halo Top flavors this weekend. I happened to stop by a Ralph’s in downtown just to see if they had any in stock. Lo and behold they did! They also happened to be the three with the largest amount of crushes on social media, haha.
I reviewed them on Instagram and here’s what I thought:
So even though I’ve been spending a lot more time close to home instead of venturing out, at least I have places to go that make staying close worth it 😉 !
When I came back after an eight mile run and didn’t see anyone in sight, I couldn’t help but feel a little down. I had run a solid 8:40/mi pace on legs still recouping from a 12 mile run the day before, but compared to the group I was running with that day, it felt like I had gone for a Sunday morning stroll in comparison.
For the past three months, I have been trying to find a running coach to take my training to the next level. It’s been really tough only because I don’t have any previous connections nor do I run at the elite level…I’m just trying to find someone to get me there…
I did end up contacting someone as a potential coach a couple months ago, but finding a time to meet kept getting pushed back further and further until this past weekend when I was invited to join this person’s group for a run.
I knew going in that this may not have been the best way to meet because I wasn’t about to run at a 6:30 pace overnight. Honestly I just wanted to meet over coffee, and have a real discussion about what I could do to get help with my training…without “squeezing a run in” be the main priority. I also did not want to risk being the girl who “didn’t know what she was in for”.
It feels like there are tons of resources for recreational runners or runners who have been running their whole life at a competitive level, and basically nothing for transitioning runners: anyone who wants to take what started as a hobby and grow it into something more serious—especially if they’re still running at a pace slower than 7:00/mi.
So yeah, I’ve got to admit that it hurt to come back to everyone gone. I got a text later from the potential coach apologizing for running ahead so quickly, explaining that they had been in a rush to get somewhere else. Would it have really been too much trouble to let me know beforehand??
I’ve been the victim of this kind of “ding dong ditch” behavior of other people my entire life, and while I have learned that this kind of behavior is not a reflection of myself but rather the lack of sensitivity, etiquette, and professionalism of others, it still sucks to have to say “no problem” or “it’s alright” or “I understand”.
At least this potential coach got back to me later that evening about how this person thought I needed extra training….um, yes, that’s exactly what I asked you three months ago in email. And at least I was given a contact for someone else I could try, and my quest to become a competitive runner continues.
I hope that my next opportunity to find someone will be more fruitful. In high school, I spent an entire summer serving 100 tennis balls a day in order to make my way into singles varsity from junior varsity. I also ran for president of my Robotics team and held that position for two years when my teacher thought I wasn’t interested in being there in the first place. I wasn’t a track star—in fact I hated running with all my heart—but somehow, it managed to crawl back into my life and now it is one of the things I want to immerse myself in fully.
I will do whatever I can to get to the level I want to be because that’s just my character. I’ve always been a lone wolf, partly due to my life circumstances and as a defense mechanism to protect myself from the drama brought on by others. This has led me to find my own solutions and figure out ways to help myself when no one else could.
Fortunately or unfortunately, this applies here too. I’m not going to stop my journey even if others around me aren’t fit to join me, or don’t understand my purpose. I do not have to have been a collegiate cross country star in order to relish in running today.
I hope that reaching out to my next contact as a possible running coach proves more successful, but no matter what I’m going to keep pushing. Being the underdog has been my specialty for so many years, and that’s one thing I don’ need help on improving…
Well, that was how my Sunday went in case you were wondering! But even though this situation didn’t exactly help to boost my self-esteem, I tried not to let it affect my body image and eating plans for the day.
As I was walking back and pondered over what had happened that morning, I also kept my eyes peeled for cute coffee shops and brunch places. I found myself again on Montana Ave., and with no particular place in mind, I just decided to walk until I found something.
I stumbled upon Frozen Fruit Co. and when I saw they offered “fruyo” bowls, I just had to have one.
I was their first customer that day because they opened at 11am and I was literally waiting outside the door trying not to look like a hungry and delirious runner.
As soon as I saw that a bowl was an option, I immediately went for that! For $8, you actually get quite a lot of variety and textures! I had granola as my base (honey and almond), then had a banana, coconut milk, dates, and pumpkin spice “fruyo”. On top of all that, I got to pick four toppings—pretty much what you’d find in a froyo shop 😉
I picked mango, strawberries, confetti sprinkles, and mochi because mochi is my jam.
I walked a little bit further down the street and found a solitary park bench to sit down and enjoy this healthier-than-it-looks bowl. I truly needed all of this food…even though I didn’t run at an elite runner’s pace, I was still starving!
Later on in the day, I stopped by Whole Foods because I still felt hungry. I had satisfied my weekly craving for Halo Top, so I was pleased to find this in the refrigerated aisle.
It’s been a while since I had this cookie dough, and since I had not tried Cookies N’ Dream, I couldn’t think of a better time to have it! This, and the fruyo bowl, while not completely uplifting my mood, did do their part to help.
Last week, the signs of a true fall began to take shape. Will LA finally have a fall that doesn’t feel like the depths of summer?? Only time will tell, but if the past week is any indication for what’s to come, maybe I will get to wear some of my sweaters gathering dust!
Early on in the week, I participated in the unofficial scavenger hunt for Halo Top, since they released 10 new flavors on the 10th. I managed to find a (now) older flavor the day before the new flavors were released, but since my second trip to Ralph’s was later on in the week, my options were down to Pistachio.
I have been looking for the Chocolate Mocha Chip flavor forever, and finally finding it made me feel less disappointed that I wasn’t able to get first dibs on the newest of the new. Even though the chocolate flavor wasn’t overbearing, I thought it was a boring flavor overall. The chocolate chips were minuscule, and looked more like small pieces of crushed nuts rather than actual chocolate. And because they were so small, it was hard to detect any flavor.
The color they picked for the Pistachio packaging was very eye-catching…just as appealing as the color of the smooth-textured ice cream itself. I had this on a Thursday evening after what was a rough day in lab. This flavor was the perfect form of therapy.
On the cookie front, I took a break from my Lenny & Larry’s Snickerdoodle addiction to try a flavor that’s more in season—Pumpkin Spice! I’m sure it would have tasted decadent warmed up, but since the spice was baked into the cookie, it didn’t blow me away like Snickerdoodle has this entire time. At least I gave it a shot, but I guess pumpkin spice doesn’t woooooo me as much as it does other people 😛
On Saturday, I participated in a 10k and was excited to see if my speed workouts from the past month had any benefit. The race was being held in Pasadena, and while this wouldn’t have been a big deal when I was living close to DTLA, it now was since I moved farther out west. The total transit time via bus and metro train would have been a little over two hours, meaning I would have had to wake up at 4 just to make it to an 8:30am race!
I made a compromise with myself and instead of sacrificing sleep, I traveled to downtown by train and then took an Uber to Pasadena. I try to only use Uber or Lyft only when absolutely necessary (like when leaving the airport at 11pm at night for example), but in this case, time was of the essence and it was worth $13 for a 20 minute ride versus a dirt cheap two hour one!
The race took place near the Rose Bowl Stadium, so I knew the weather conditions and course would be far from breezy. When I got there at 7:30 though, it was still cloudy and the air was still cool. I picked up my bib and shirt, and since there was no bag check, I wore the shirt over the one I was already wearing. I couldn’t exactly stuff it in my running belt since that was already holding my keys and phone, and that alone causing to bulge and hang lower on my hips. This was going to be fun to deal with.
I spent the next hour or so admiring the canines, adoring the felines, and getting a light amount of fuel from Power Crunch bar samples. They were “supposed” to be for after the race but the volunteers were chatting with each other and not paying attention… hehe.
When it got close to 8:30am, all of the runners were asked to walk towards the race start. It took us forever to actually get started. Between the three Laker girls helping us stretch and the nonstop announcements by a local news anchor, a couple of us were getting very impatient.
When we were allowed to start, the first thing I did was look for someone to be my pacer. My goal was to run under 8:00, between 7:40 and 7:50 since I knew I could reach that range based on how I’ve been doing at marathon team practices lately.
I was on my own for the first mile and a half in figuring out my right pace, but I eventually found my stride with an older, shorter woman with long, untied brown hair.
She was averaging an 8:08 pace, and I felt that if I pushed any further, me legs and lungs would not be able to sustain that for the next four miles. Knowing that running 7 something pace would not be a reality in this race was disappointing, but at least now I had a pacing buddy to help me from completely zoning out.
For the 10k, we had to run two loops around the stadium. There were at least two hills in one loop so running up inclines four times throughout this 10k was a challenge in itself. At the end of the day, I was happy with how things turned out. I averaged a 8:16/mi pace and ended up placing first in my age division! Funny thing was my pacing buddy also placed in her division. She ended up with a slightly faster time than I did because she took off in the last mile.
After the run, I paced a bit, chugged a bottle of water, and consumed more Power Crunch bar samples. I walked around the tents and picked up a free bag so I could FINALLY put my stuff somewhere. My bladder said many thank yous after that!
They had a cat/dog “fashion” show at the end so some fur babies could get some attention and hopefully a new home. I stepped on board the Catty Wagon instead, which was a mobile shelter for cats. I played with a curious little kitten for a while and then decided to head out of the Rose Bowl area into Pasadena for lunch. I didn’t have to worry about getting an Uber back because I was ok with taking the time to train/bus to lab. I had to stop there for a bit, but I wasn’t in a huge rush to get there.
I didn’t have my “restaurant list” on hand, so I wasn’t sure where I should head to once I got to Old Town Pasadena, but then I remembered that there was another Sage location I could check out. It had been a while since I paid them a visit in Culver City and Echo Park.
The Pasadena location’s storefront was quite small (bundled with other shops in a strip mall), and it could be easily missed if someone was not actively looking for it. Every table was empty except for one being occupied by runners from my race! Even the guy taking my order asked about the race since he noticed my bib and medals.
The menu was just as overwhelming as I remembered, but I felt like having something colorful and filling (like a salad bowl with protein) with some extra crunch. When I saw that they had Dill Cheese Tostadas on the menu, I was sold then and there.
I only had to wait about 15 minutes for my food to arrive, and in the meantime I sipped on my water while trying to get pictures of the interior without scaring my racing brethren (haha). The guy who helped me at the counter brought over my plate, which had two small-sized tostadas topped with black beans, cojita cheese, veggies, verde sauce, and smooth avocado slices. There was also some nacho “cheese” on the side.
I tried to get everything all in one bite, but had to eat it layer by layer because it all fell apart. While the avocado was delicious and creamy, my favorite part was the hearty beans and crunchy tostada, despite being the size of the palm of my hand.
After lunch, I slowly made my way to lab, and then from there was more than ready to just go home and crash! I stopped by Trader Joe’s because I heard that they had a new (for them) RX Bar in stock…
Pumpkin Spice! I mentioned how in love I was with Blueberry a couple posts back, and this bar was just what I needed to fuel up with on my way home…especially since I’ve been devoid of my weekly bar box 😛
This past week has tested my endurance, patience, and energy levels…between pulling an all-nighter in lab to attending my first bloggers conference, I was on my feet from pretty much the break of dawn till night.
A visit to the new The Halal Guys location in Koreatown wasn’t enough to fuel me (or prepare me) for my all-nighter on Monday. It was good enough for a Saturday afternoon lunch, but I feel like I needed a much longer break than that! Well, at least I did get some kind of break that weekend!
I first visited The Halal Guys with my sister at their new-at-the-time Costa Mesa location over Thanksgiving break last year. Our Airbnb was a few blocks away, so it was a serendipitous encounter indeed.
As expected, there was a line out the door, and I estimate that there was at least a 30 minute wait from when I first got in line to when I got a seat inside. So, not TOO bad, but in some places, even those that are not considered “fast food” restaurants, I’ve ordered and received food in half that time.
I ordered the falafel plate like last time, which came with lettuce, orange rice, five falafel, and sauces. There was some miscommunication at the register about my pita bread, so I ended up missing that. The next time I visit a Halal Guys I’ll have to remember to try the falafel sandwich, as that’s my other only option as a vegetarian :/
I didn’t enjoy this platter as much as I did the first time since everything tasted drier than what I remembered. Perhaps it was due to there being less sauce than usually administered, and I attribute that to a distracted employee. It was opening weekend, so I don’t blame her!
And even though I was feeling anxious all weekend about Monday’s upcoming events, I tried to keep my mind at ease with Halo Top and new-to-me Combat Crunch bars: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Coconut.
I topped the birthday cake Halo Top with the CCCD flavor, and I immediately wondered why I had not done this sooner?!
The bar itself wasn’t my absolute favorite, but the thing I like about Combat Crunch bars is the coated-crispies on the top of their bars. I repeated this combination with their newer Chocolate Coconut flavor with vanilla bean Halo Top, and found this to be the winning combination.
I prefer the white chocolate coating of the bar, and was able to detect the coconut flakes inside the bar. It seemed to mesh well with the soft, creamy, but not too overpowering vanilla bean flavor of the light ice cream.
Monday-Wednesday were far from enjoyable, but when Thursday came around, I had something fun to look forward to—Blogfest! I was able to attend this year because I was able to get my registration waived AND it was in LA, so it made it so much easier to attend and work around my lab schedule.
Gigi invited me to have lunch at Spitz with some other bloggers in downtown/Little Tokyo before heading over to the expo, and this served as my incentive to get through my morning lab work as quickly as possible!
Even though it was a weekday, Spitz was packed and busy catering to downtown office workers on their lunch break. I ordered the Garden Bowl, which made for an appropriate light lunch so I would have room for expo samples later!
A short Uber ride later, we arrived at the Convention Center where the expo was taking place. Since Thursday was the first full day the expo was open and all the activities were in full swing, many of the vendors had freebies galore and there were so many eager recepients wandering around.
I literally ended up hauling four full-sized bags of free stuff, and now my fridge is stocked with sparkling water to last me for days…
I attended the expo on Thursday and Friday afternoons, met some new and familiar faces (including Julianna and Kaila), and overall had a fun time. It was what I needed to get over the overexhausted/depressed funk from the all-nighter and long working days earlier in the week.
I’ve always had a sweet spot in my heart for the month of May—it truly is a month of changes, but the changes are usually hopeful, sometimes with a tinge of nostalgia, and almost always involve connections.
It also is the beginning of “free time” for a lot of people, since students are free to go on vacation (if they aren’t necessarily given a summer break anymore, which is my case!) and usually, people have a more relaxed schedule in general.
Even though my work has not died down in the slightest (actually, I would say it’s increased over the past two weeks and my summer will most certainly be busy), having a boss away for the summer does allow one to be more flexible schedule-wise 😉
And when your flexible schedule meshes with another person’s blogger’s schedule, it’s bound to result in good happenings.
I was able to meet Julianna this past Saturday, and chat with the vibrant lady over some hot, fresh-out-of-the-brick-oven pizza. I’ve been following her blog over the years, reading about her undergrad journey in UCLA from the beginning. She’s graduating soon and heading off the Atlanta, and I couldn’t be more excited for her 🙂 !
We met outside the pizzeria Prova, and thankfully my awkward handshake didn’t scare her off (haha, it’s a habit I developed after grad school interviews two years ago!).
The enticing menu made us take a while to make a final decision on what to get, but Julianna got one of the tomato sauce-less pizzas with egg on it while I went the same sauce-less route, ordering a mozzarella pizza with artichoke and mushrooms.
Our pizzas were the thin-crust kind, with a really flat center and easy to fold. Seeing the golden yolk on Julianna’s pizza made me second guess my pizza choice, but seeing as though I left nothing but half a piece of one slice’s crust, I’d say I wasn’t too regretful of my pizza combination.
I always get a bit nervous before blogger meet-ups, but once they happen, I find my nervousness to be a silly feeling. In the few blogger meet-ups I’ve had to-date, I’ve always left each feeling happy that I got to know someone I’ve been following for years in person. Julianna was no exception, and her energetic, positive personality certainly matches how she expresses herself in her blog posts.
One of the things we asked each other was our favorite dessert, and of course I had to say ice cream. Even though I couldn’t find a certain flavor of Halo Top I thought would be in any of the grocery stores near Prova, I happened to find it the next day close to home, and stayed true to my answer 😉
Halo Top Birthday Cake! It’s been so coveted that only three (!!) pints were left when I stopped by my local grocery on Sunday.
Would I say it was worth the hype? Probably not…I mean, it had sprinkles and a very creamy vanilla flavor with an iced-cake like texture (if you can imagine that), but it got really old, really quick. I guess putting confetti-colored sprinkles on anything nowadays means it’s a birthday cake :/
Do you get nervous before blogger meet-ups or meeting someone for the first time in person?
Are you tired of the birthday cake trend or do you love it?