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 😉 . It absolutely made my week and I thanked him for it!
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.
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.
We found seats by the wall, set-up our workspaces, and waited for our caffeinated creations to be completed.
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.
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.
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 😉 . 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 🙂 ?
Disclaimer: I was not provided compensation except for product samples for review by Eat Enlightened, and all opinions are my own.
I rent a room in a house of an elderly couple, so I usually feel slightly embarrassed when packages arrive addressed to me. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want them assuming things if a large box arrives that says “keep on ice” or “handle with care”. Haha, they’ve never brought up their curiosities surrounding my packages, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were holding such thoughts back.
Anyways, regardless of what they thought, I was extremely excited to open up a box I received a few weeks ago to find all seven of the Eat Enlightened ice cream pints, all in brand new packaging.
I tried 6/7 flavors in earlier times, but I had not tried Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. Obviously, I used this opportunity to try the flavor that has been most elusive to me all this time.
The ice cream base definitely tasted thicker, and had a peanut flavor of course. The chocolate chips were more like small chocolate chunk bits. To be honest, I got tired of this combination very quickly, but I still had the whole pint in one sitting. I am now certain that this flavor isn’t one of my top favorites, but I am so happy to have finally tried it!
Back in April, I first tried Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch, and it left me with these thoughts:
“Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch on the other hand, made my Monday evening pleasant. After a long day in lab, coming home to this pint mixed with cookie pieces and oatmeal flakes in a caramel base was super comforting.”
The new version is just as comforting as before. On first glance, I didn’t see an abundance of cookie crunch pieces, but the swirl was still there and once I got into the pint, the cookie pieces made themselves known.
I first tried Frozen Hot Cocoa the same weekend as COCC, and even topped it with a bar that did not spark the enlightened (he he) thoughts that occurred after tasting my first spoon of this pint:
“Frozen Hot Cocoa blew me away…probably because the ingredients listed GHEE as an ingredient (which I have never seen as an ice cream ingredient before!!) and the swirls were insanely delicious. Of course I soon got tired of the chocolate, but those swirls!!”
Yup, those swirls still had me. I can go through miles of chocolate ice cream if cream swirls are involved!
Apparently, I appreciated the “earthy mint” flavor of Mint Chocolate Chip in my prior tasting of it.
I knew that I would continue to like this flavor, unless there was a major change in its formulation. Fortunately, that was not the case. This time around, I topped it with a D’s Natural Mint Cocao Bar. Delicious times all around!
“But Sea Salt Caramel absolutely took my breath away. Some would argue that the caramel swirls might be too sweet, but it was all too perfect for me…ahh, if they weren’t almost $6 a pint, I would have stocked up for sure.”
I have been in awe of this flavor from the very beginning. The bright blue packaging and cursive font has only made this admiration stronger.
Since I’ve also picked up an infatuation for RX Bars, I topped it with a Coconut Chocolate RX Bar. I say, this is a tropical combo (sea + salt + coconut) that can’t be argued with 😉
I tried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough a few weeks before this box arrived, and it was a good pick-me up after learning about the election.
“I seriously had a loss of appetite after Tuesday’s events, so I’m glad its back and roared up again, haha. Despite the sadness that creeped up over me yesterday, I had to be happy about one small thing…finding the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Eatenlightened pint! I’ve been complaining about how it’s been hard to locate anywhere in LA, but I happened to find these stocked on the shelves at a Bristol Farms in Santa Monica (on Wilshire, right across from Petco, for those who are local and have been trying to find this elusive flavor yourself)! Sometimes it helps to eat your sorrows away, if it involves cookie dough chunks and a smooth, creamy ice cream 😉”
In the past few weeks since first trying it, my thoughts haven’t changed. I may have had the newer pint when it didn’t completely thaw (so it wasn’t completely smooth), but the taste was still spectacular, and the chocolate chip/cookie dough ratio was just right.
I subconsciously saved the Triple Chocolate flavor for last, as I wasn’t too fond of it when I first tried it:
“I found the Triple Chocolate Enlightened pint to be too overwhelming after a few spoonfuls (too much chocolate for me, but perhaps suitable for a choco-holic)”
For some reason, the chocolate ice cream wasn’t too overwhelming this time around, maybe because I was too focused on the chocolate fudge sauce swirl 🙂 ? Like I said, contrasting swirls balance everything out.
Overall, all of the flavors have stayed consistent in their formulation and tasted how I remembered (with the excpetion of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, since this box allowed me to try it for the first time). I also think the switch from plasic to paper-based packaging was a good decision, as it’ll make recycling them a simpler task.
Which of these flavors are your favorite, or which would you like to try?
Last week was a shocker and after Tuesday, it seemed like there was a cloud of sadness everywhere that just would not dissipate. I am glad that people are still talking about politics, since I honestly believe that despite the strong emotions it can bring up, it is extremely important to bring awareness and question things that have a huge impact on how we live our lives.
I also was feeling from physical exhaustion that prevented me from running higher mileage that week. My body craved extra rest, and I obliged. I’ve been pulling long hours in lab as well, so the extra rest was welcomed on all fronts.
Saturday ended up being a rest day, and a day that my running team and I scheduled as a day for volunteering. We helped organize maternal and baby goods for a non-profit that distributes these items to low income expecting and first-time moms. It was a Saturday morning well spent, and obviously I had worked long enough to build up a strong appetite for lunch.
Since I did want to go home as soon as I could, and face plant into a pillow for nap time, I decided to stop by a plant-based foods cafe in Culver City since it was on the way. I originally came by Make Out Everyday over Labor Day Weekend, but they were unfortunately closed at that time.
I was in luck this time however. I used my ninja photography skills (haha) to capture the elegant interior decor, but the cashier had noticed a man outside who was going out of his way to get the perfect picture capturing the cafe’s logo from outside! I’m so glad that wasn’t me, haha!
It took a while for me to decide what I wanted to get, as there were all sorts of smoothies, latte “potions”, wraps, salads, sandwiches, small bites, bowls…I went with a bowl (no surprise) even though I was debating between that and one of the wraps.
My bowl of choice was the Mexican bowl, which had chopped lettuce, quinoa and rice mixed with chipotle crema, sunflower chorizo, and a dollop of mashed avocado. The garnish was fabulous too…I’m not sure what that watermelon-colored root vegetable is called, but it certainly looked pretty!
The portion sizes are small, so I wouldn’t recommend coming in with a voracious appetite. If you do, you may have to order multiple plates which doesn’t sound bad, but this place isn’t McDonald’s cheap either…
Sunday was a long run day in Santa Monica so I didn’t have to worry about waking up super early to carpool with my running team. After the run, I immediately went home and crashed. I planned to get some work done, but that didn’t happen to the extent that I had wished to. Oh well, I don’t think the time went to waste since I slept so soundly throughout the day and was sleepy enough to go to bed (for real) around 8:30pm.
I’m not surprised one bit that I craved so much sleep this week. I don’t see how anyone could have issue with that 😉
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!
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 😛
It felt so freeing to be able to take a break from being a “city girl”, and take a week off to go to my first home of Tulsa, OK. It was an easy-going week filled with naps, cuddling with my cat, runs at River Park (though they were shorter than what I’m used to doing, due to some shin pain I’ve been having), ice cream and custard runs, get-togethers, shopping, movie and Olympics-watching, and getting in as much home-cooked dinners as possible.
In the beginning of the week, I spent most of my time at home, and when my Dad got off work, we would go grocery shopping or to River Park for some breath of fresh air. After familiarizing myself with the area, I went to River Park in the following days for morning runs. My left posterior shin was acting up, so my runs ended up being short and semi-sweet.
On one night, we went stopped by Braum’s—a ubiquitous dairy shop in Oklahoma—for some late night ice cream. It’s almost like the dessert version of McDonald’s in Oklahoma. I got a cup of birthday cake ice cream, which ended up being a bright blue scoop with soft chunks of vanilla pound cake mixed in.
Since my Dad had a free pastry to redeem at Panera, we went there for breakfast. We split a coffee, an egg sandwich with cheese and avocado, and a sugary-sweet bearclaw.
We didn’t eat out much on this trip because I wanted to take advantage of having home-cooked meals prepared (with love J ) and we also ate at get-togethers at friends’ houses. For lunch on my last full day in Tulsa, we went to a housewarming of one of my dad’s co-workers. They had Desi food catered, and we piled on the trays as we made our way down the marble countertop in the kitchen of their new home.
Later that day, my Dad and I went to the movies to watch Ghostbusters (while I love the SNL ladies, the movie was ‘meh’), and afterwards, had a treat to cool-off that’s favored in the Midwest and South over froyo! I think there is only about two froyo places in all of Tulsa, and if you have a craving for something sweet, frozen, but not ice cream, your next best thing is frozen custard.
Andy’s Frozen Custard was very close to the theater we went to, and I told my Dad I would pay for the both of us. My way of saying thanks for not having to buy groceries that week 😉
They had so many variations on frozen custard available. While vanilla and chocolate are the main base flavors, they can be included in the creation of a sundae or concrete, the latter of which involves a crazy amount of mix-ins and sauces depending on what combination caught your eye.
My Dad and I decided to keep it simple and just get a cone/cup of the base flavors chocolate and vanilla. We enjoyed our desserts outside, and I took note of the smooth, creamy taste of my custard. It was light, but not froyo-light. It actually had the creaminess of a soft-serve you’d get at a fast food restaurant.
I knew that after giving one of the base flavors a try, I would have to come back to try a concrete. Seeing as my next trip won’t be until December, I’ll probably have the chance to choose from seasonal flavors…like candy cane!
Overall, my six-day trip to Oklahoma was a good one. I was sad to leave so soon, and honestly wouldn’t have mind staying another week. Time will fly by before I know it though, and I am planning to make my winter stay a longer one.
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?
Sunday was a peaceful day for me. After a pleasant long run in downtown (because of the overcast skies and lack of people due to it being early in the morning on a non-working day), I was able to fit in a shopping trip to Sprouts. They were having a BOGO deal on Arctic Zero (!!), so that honestly was my main reason for the trip 😛
I had to get all of this done in the morning since I had to go into lab for an hour in the afternoon (ugh), but it was also a refreshing change to do “my weekend things” in the morning vs. afternoon.
Since I traveled to the Sprouts in Westwood, and I FINALLY had cash on hand, I decided to stop by The Bigg Chill for some morning froyo.
Having cash on hand was a major moment for me, since I always use cards. Inside the small establishment within a strip mall, the ambiance was very much like a classic ice cream parlor (at least at the counter, the tables and chairs seemed to be more modern.
After ordering at the counter, I sat across from the glowing neon sign on the far left wall, next to all the Quest bars on a rack, haha. It’s actually a trend I’ve been seeing at many froyo places that offer low-carb options.
The counter was packed with so many edible (and non-edible) items, but behind the counter I was able to see the variety of toppings I could choose from, and at first wasn’t sure what size I wanted either. I ended up going with the 8oz macaron flavor that was dairy-free, topped with vegan chocolate chip cookie dough, mochi (all-time fav), and strawberries.
The macaron flavor was very smooth and had a milky taste to it, and mixed with the mochi, it was perfection. The strawberries were just for show, and while I had high hopes for the VCCCD, it wasn’t that great, and rather than having a fudgy consistency was somewhat oilier than it should have been.
But if we’re talking about appearances, it was certainly one beauty of a cup.
Last week was crazy busy, and on more nights than usual, I ended up coming back to my apartment close to 8pm, even with my early morning start to the day. But I’ve always preferred being busy over being too relaxed, so while at times it did feel exhausting, at least it kept my mind occupied.
Because we have a couple students graduating/people leaving from my lab this year, we decided to go out as a lab for lunch on Thursday. It was the first time we had everyone together (well, almost…since my boss was out of town and we were missing one person…haha, the day we actually have EVERYONE together in the same room will be some kind of miracle!!). Spicy Indian buffet food was on the menu, and surprisingly, I didn’t nod off in class later despite it!
When I got home that night, I decided to kick-off the weekend earlier than usual with a THURSDAY night pint, a So Delicious one in fact. I’ve gotta say…this pint rocks! Since it’s made with coconut milk, you can actually taste the slivers of coconut mixed in with the cookie dough chunks. How have I gone this long avoiding these So Delicious pints?! I’m glad that even though I took a break from Snickerdoodle, this flavor was right up there with it!
Friday ended up being less busy, and I got home at a decent time. To celebrate the end of this busy week, I made myself a protein-rich snack plate featuring some of my favorites (once warmed up in the microwaved for ~20 seconds).
On Saturday, I had to go into lab for just two hours, and from there made it over to Melrose to see what little food shop was causing excitement on the ‘gram. Fala Bar, a Mediterranean food place that has locations on Melrose and Abbot Kinney in Venice, offers five varieties (!!) of falafel, but is popular because of their falafel burger offerings. Not only are they creative in their menu items and falafel flavors (original, sweet potato what??, spicy, crunchy, and kale), they also are all-vegan, giving all the more reason to go falafel-crazy!
Because I rarely ever stray from ordering similar types of foods at restaurants, I got the fala plate even though the falafel burgers sounded mouth-watering. Definitely getting that when I visit the Venice location (yes, when 😉 ). For my plate, I had to choose one flavor of falafel for the four falafel balls that came with the plate. I went with ‘crunchy’, even though looking back, it would have been more fun to try sweet potato or kale. Maybe my intuitive choice for ‘crunchy’ meant I had some pent up anger I needed to get out? Haha, or maybe I just wanted some crunchy falafel!
Since the storefront is very small, there is no indoor seating…just a couple tables outside under some shade. At least it was all taking place on Melrose Ave., so people-watching was at its prime.
One of the employees was nice enough to bring out my plate, and it was not skimpy by any means! Underneath my artistically-placed falafel were two kinds of cabbage slaw, and tabouli. Tahini and hummus were in the corners, and a soft, warm pocket of pita bread was served on the side.
At first I was saving the spreads for the falafel and pita bread, but in the end I just mixed everything all up because it was all so good, and good together. For the price, the plate was very filling and substantial. I did notice that the burgers were cheaper however, and I wonder if they would be just as filling. That’s my mission for next time!
Just like last weekend, pints were raised up (for pictures) and dug into 🙂
Because the So Delicious pint from Thursday blew me away, I decided to keep venturing into the flavor offerings of this brand. The almond milk offering of cookies ‘n cream had me very excited about trying at first, but unfortunately it was a disappointment. The cookie chunks were small, sparse, and did not carry much flavor. I’m not even sure what flavor the ice cream was supposed to be because it was lacking that much! Oh well, not everything can be a winner!
The Caramel Coffee Fudge flavor Ben & Jerry’s from their non-dairy frozen dessert line was also something I was looking forward to, after PB & Cookies proved itself, but was another disappointment as well. One unsual thing about this flavor was the crunchiness of the fudge blocks. They were fudge chunks, but they made a potato chip-like crunching sound when I ate them. It was odd, but very intriguing, haha.
Have you ever tried a falafel made with the not-so-normal ingredients?