Pending Travel

Pending Travel

This post was written weeks ago, but with all the traveling I’ve been doing and no time to sit down and post, here it finally is with no edits to verb tense, haha!

These past two weeks have been on hyperdrive! Even my efforts in running seemed to be sub-par in comparison to my performance in previous weeks. Stress has been subconsciously hitting me I guess!

I’ve been scrambling putting together stuff at work, as well as prepping for two weeks of international travel. I haven’t packed yet (no surprise) but I do have a list going. Things are going to be coming back-to-back with no pause in between—sister’s graduation, traveling in Europe, my marathon in San Diego—this time off seems to be like it’s a lot more work than intended.

Salted Caramel blew me away in a good way. A mild, creamy base with a super salty caramel swirl, rich chocolate chunks and CASHEW pieces. So many more @so_delicious flavors to try 😩 it may take me forever but it should be a fun quest to complete 😋 #WhereIsMySponsorship #JkJk #Sorta 😉
Salted Caramel Cluster…it blew me away in a good way. A mild, creamy base with a super salty caramel swirl, rich chocolate chunks and CASHEW pieces. So many more @so_delicious flavors to try 😩 it may take me forever but it should be a fun quest to complete 😋 #WhereIsMySponsorship #JkJk #Sorta 😉

But hopefully the payoff is good. I’m anxious-excited about seeing my cousin, whom I haven’t seen in 17 years, and her 13 and 9 year old daughters I haven’t met yet, at all!

I went to the Westfield mall in Culver City last weekend with E to shop for said daughters. My cousin enlightened me on what they would really like as gifts and I was ready to have fun with it. I bought the younger one two cute dresses from Old Navy and The Children’s Place. I remember my wardrobe was literally all TCP from ages 7-10, and I was taller-than-average for my age lol.

I come with gifts!

For the older daughter, I got two pieces from Hollister…hard to believe (or is it?) that the brand is still popular among teens. Man, I remember feeling SO much unspoken peer pressure to wear Hollister and Abercrombie, haha.

After buying some chocolates from Target, and a cookie butter jar from Trader Joe’s (which I’m hoping they’ll love since Trader Joe’s isn’t available in Wales!), E and I decided to take a lunch break at the happening food court.

I spotted Bibigo down the walkway, and headed towards it while E went next door to Burger King.

Bibigo, Westfield Culver City
Bibigo, Westfield Culver City

A nice, warm veggie bowl with cool toppings sounded so appetizing at the time. So for my base, I had a bowl with salad greens. On top of that went pickled veggies like onions and slaw, and of course kimchi.

Side of wontons, warm tofu, and fres, cold veggies!
Side of wontons, warm tofu, and fres, cold veggies!

To finish it off, warm tofu cubes added a nice touch along with seaweed flakes. Even a guy who was behind me in line commented on how good it looked, haha.

A fantastic creation.
A fantastic creation.

The bowl was just filling enough to get my energy spent from shopping back up, and to power me to get back home. E and I had a fun bus ride back to the train station, and from there I traveled my usual commute home.

Couldn't resist snapping this pic of my city <3
Couldn’t resist snapping this pic of my city <3

It was too late to take a nap when I got home, but I tried to turn in early enough so that I could catch up on some sleep. At least it was a productive day overall though!

Do you like planning for trips?

Shoutfest at The Spoon

Shoutfest at The Spoon

Last week flew right on by! I took the first three days of the week fully off to recover from the marathon and let my muscles, black toe nail, and heel blister rest. I was able to get back into a running groove with some short runs, and actually felt quite refreshed!

Since E was in lab over the weekend (as was I, haha), we decided to convene for a late lunch in Koreatown after finishing up our work. We left around 2pm, but didn’t sit down to eat until about an hour later, since the restaurant we’d thought about visiting was closed for filming…despite there not being any signs/security guards indicating that the restaurant was closed to the public.

Since we were getting quite hungry, Korean-Italian sounded delicious and we immediately walked towards Wilshire/Western.

The Spoon was actually right across from the Paris Baguette I visited back in September after running a 10k in Koreatown. I remember noticing it at the time and thought how cute it looked…I then promptly forgot about it, until coming here now with E.

The Spoon
The Spoon in Koreatown

Inside, the set-up was sleek, yet adorable at the same time. Two adjectives that can only be used to describe a Korean fusion restaurant I suppose…

Menu and inside-of-restaurant peep.
Menu and inside-of-restaurant peep.

We both were unsure about what entree to get, so we decided to get a 10″ pizza and split it.

We waited a while for the pizza to show up, but in the meantime we sipped on some waters and tried to cool off from the brisk walk we had outside under the hot LA sun. It reminded me of how hot it got during the september 10k!

When our pizza arrived, we were more than ready to dig in. E’s a pescatarian, so it was easy to choose a pizza that satisfied both of us—the “Fresh Garden Pizza” was a thin crust pizza with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese cubes, onion, mushroom, zucchini, bell pepper, chopped romaine lettuce (that’s a first for me…), and roman tomato. The pizza was sliced up into ten almost-equivalent slices.

I actually like the crisp, cool touch of the lettuce. The cheese cubes were cute too.

Fresh Garden Vegetabe
Fresh Garden Pizza!!!

After devouring every slice but one, we got a waiter over to prepare the bill. As he turned to walk away, I asked that he split it but then E piped in right away instructing him not to do so. From that point on it was shout-fest between me and her, scaring the poor guy and confusing him as to whether he should split the bill or not.

Ultimately, E won since he said they could only put $10 minimum on a card. Our pizza was $18. So E had her way and pizza was on her—this time 😉

How often do you like going out to eat with friends?

Are your friends willing to split the bill, or is it always a battle when it comes to whose paying?

The Spoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Recruitment Recap #3 – An Interview in NYC!

Recruitment Recap #3 – An Interview in NYC!

This post is the second in a series regarding interview recaps of PhD programs I applied to. The first post in this series can be read here, and the second here.

Having been a California girl for almost an eternity (okay, so I’m exaggerating), visiting New York for the first time was a phenomenal experience. And being able to visit the major metropolis of the nation world because I was interviewing for grad school? Best. Reason. Ever.

My “adventure” began earlier than the crack of dawn. Despite weather warnings and imminent delays, I woke up at 3:15 AM ready to go. My dad, being a trooper, dropped me off at the airport and I went through security with ease. Since I was flying to SFO first, I hopped on board a mini jet with legit propellars. I also had a single seat by the window, and was able to lean my head against the wall for some much needed shuteye:

Mini Jet

I already knew that I would have limited time to get to my gate at SFO, but considering what happened next, I probably wouldn’t have jog-walked across the airport. My flight from SFO to JFK was originally supposed to depart at 7:00am, but after settling in, our pilot let us know that our flight “wasn’t suitable for the trip”. An explanation would have been nice, but it wouldn’t have helped anyways since us passengers were irritated with the fact that we had to get up and move after stowing away luggage and ripping open plastic-sealed blankets—I know I was!

So we were shuffled across to a different gate, but fortunately we were able to depart 45 min later. Happy that it wasn’t anything more dramatic than that, I slept for most of the 5.5 hour flight, read magazines, and admired the city of NYC from above just before landing.

I arrived around 5:00pm, and found a place to organize myself and whip out my winter coat. The next step was to hail a “taxi”…well, it was more like a pushy guy with an Italian accent get in a car with three other foreign tourists. Okay, so it wasn’t as shady as it sounds, but I was a bit on edge until I got to my destination. Despite having suspicions about my so-called cab driver however, I let my eyes soak in the snow-covered brick buildings that flanked the highways of New York. With 80’s music blasting from the car radio, I couldn’t help but think about The Cosby Show.

My nerves calmed down once I reached the hotel. The school I was interviewing with booked our rooms in a Upper West Side trendy hotel with loft-style rooms.  I met my roommate who was already settled in, freshened up myself, and then headed out the door for my Crumbs quest.

Closet to hang clothes / so many floors! / cozy bed / fun "locker-style" shelves
Closet to hang clothes / so many floors! / cozy bed / fun “locker-style” shelves

Walking outside was not much fun to say the least, but I did my best to take advantage of walking on NYC streets—icy numb-feet-inducing puddles and all ;).

Night of Nasty Weather
Night of Nasty Weather

After consuming my delicious cannoli cupcake from Crumbs, I was ready to hit the hay since the next day was interviews!

The so-cozy-you-can-sink beds / unused Keurig and FREE water bottle / window seat / view from window seat
The so-cozy-you-can-sink beds / unused Keurig and FREE water bottle / window seat / view from window seat

The next morning, my roommate and I met four other applicants in the lobby. After realizing that the cars that were supposed to pick us up were not going to make it on time, we had to hail cabs (real ones this time) in order to drive over to the school.

The rest of the day consisted of meeting the program directors, interviews, lunch that was buffet-style with current grad students, a wine and cheese reception, and a tour of a current student’s studio apartment (her room had an amazing view of the NYC skyline).

Even though the day’s events left me depleted of energy, we still had to make our way to the subway in order to get to dinner in West Village.

Oh New Yorkers---always on the go!
Oh New Yorkers—always on the go!

Not exactly the most thrilling event of the trip, but at least now I can say I rode the subway, right? To be honest, it just reminded me of the BART.

Dinner was at an American restaurant (burger and fries fare) which one of the grad students booked in advance. We had a custom menu, and many in our group took advantage of the open bar…especially the current grad students. Our group took up tables for almost three hours, since each of us had to order an appetizer and meal. I opted for a plate of mediocre garlic fries (unpictured)  as my meal because I was still full from lunch, and didn’t have room for a veggie burger. I did have a bowl of well-seasoned brussel sprouts as my appetizer (sorry for the blurry photo—had to be sneaky!)

West 3rd Common (1)

The three hours went by slowly, but the time was spent chatting it up with grad students, from topics spanning running (on of the students I spoke to was a serious runner!) to lab rotations. They were a fun bunch, and the student organizer who planned the event was super sweet when she came around from time-to-time in order to check-in and see if everything was alright.

Around 10:30pm, our huge group parted, with one group heading out to another bar for drinks, and the other heading back to the hotel. Guess which one I joined? It was obviously past my bedtime ;), so back to the hotel I went, via subway.

The next morning, we had a late start. Our group met up with recruits from sister programs for brunch at a nearby diner. Again, dining options were made from a set menu, and again, considering how our groups was even larger now, it was pretty much time for linner by the time we left ;).

We split up into smaller groups to check out different museums and such. I went off with the Natural History group and enjoyed the view of New York City during the day.

New York is just as pretty during the day.
New York is just as pretty during the day.

Walking Around NYC to eventually get to NHM (3)

The NHM building was a beautiful one…

From the corner / closer / as we approached the side entryway
From the corner / closer / as we approached the side entryway

I spent around three hours in there, and at one point ended up with two other recruits from my program and a current grad student escort whom we “kidnapped” from another program. We decided to head back to the hotel, but we had a blizzard to face outside! By the time we stepped inside the lobby, we looked like snowmen! We chatted in the lounge until it was time to assemble for dinner.

Hung out in the hotel lounge with two recruits and a “kidnapped” grad student from another program than my own :P!

Dinner on Saturday night was at a local Korean restaurant in Midtown. My group arrived from the hotel via subway, and the grad student organizer who planned out the previous day’s events was able to arrange a vegan friendly version of Korean BBQ for me and three other vegetarians/vegans.

Me and three other veggie people demolished three bowls of bibibamp, noodles, appetizers, and sauteed mushrooms.
Me and three other veggie people demolished three bowls of {vegetarian} bibibamp, buckwheat noodles with sesame seeds, appetizers, and sauteed mushrooms that was meant to be a meat replacement.

We seriously ripped out our chopsticks and went at it. The four of us went through three bowls of veggie bibibamp (no egg though since a vegan was present), and savored sauteed mushrooms as much as our meat-eating collegues were enjoying their meaty barbecue. After the meal, we all sat back and went back and forth about how delicious everything was!

It was around 9:30pm when a few students were escorted back to the hotel via cabs, and even though bowling (and drinks, for those who were still “thirsty”) was on the schedule, I wanted to spend some more time exploring the city at night—now that I knew to be more wary about slushy puddles.

So roaming around I did. The buildings look so beautiful at night, and I spotted 16 Handles from across the street. I would have gone in for some late night Saturday froyo, but I was (unfortunately) quite full from the Korean meal.

I love the tall brick buildings / snow shoveled to the side / 16 Handles! <— been wanting to go there since seeing it on ‘Giving You the Business’

I left around 8:00am the next morning, and after a six-hour flight and a lay-over in LAX, I was home in time for dinner and sleeping in at 8:00pm PST…which was totally okay since I was still on EST.

NYC left a wonderful impression on me, and I only wish I could have stayed longer and even had the chance to meet with some of my favorite NYC bloggers ;). Only time will tell if I have the chance to explore this amazing city again, so I am glad for just being able to visit at least once.

NYC—love or hate it?

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