What I’ve Gained

What I’ve Gained

I honestly can’t believe that March flew by so fast…to be honest, I’ve been in an emotional whirlwind for almost a month and a half! I sort of hinted at these feelings in an earlier post (that I literally feel like I wrote yesterday…), but now I feel like I’m comfortable with going more in detail.

My eating disorder first plagued me when I was in my senior year of high school, and I would say it had a firm grasp on me up until late 2015, when I finally started making steps towards real recovery. For 5 1/2 years, the only relationship I cared about was the one I had with food: how I could control it, make certain foods fit into a day, nap away hours in the afternoon just so I could eat again for dinner…it was barely an existence. 

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With each day passing day, it slowly becomes easier to push those thoughts and honor/respect my body enough to go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths at a dinner, even after a full day of eating. Starving all day just to save my calories for the end of the day doesn’t make sense to me anymore…

When they say an ED becomes your one and only relationship, nothing could be truer. Yes, my Dad and close friends were still nearby, but food took priority no matter what. I would sacrifice going out to a restaurant to hang out with my sister and our close friends just to avoid the calories. I would shout at my Dad for buying too many yogurts or granola canisters because they tempted me to binge. All because I had to live by a number, and ANYONE who got in the way of that would see the worst of me…

So to say that taking the plunge and going into recovery full force only helped me physically would be an understatement. I repaired not only a relationship with myself over the course of 2016, but I also repaired old relationships as well as planted the seeds for new ones. Therapy helped me to understand why I thought about things a certain way, as well as find ways to be okay with things as they are.

When my sister and I saw my Dad over the holidays this past year, the three of us had an emotional, yet necessary, talk about the future. It was the first time we heard all the details of my Dadโ€™s story, and having such a deep, emotionally-revealing discussion with both my Dad and sister made me feel so much more grateful for them. The discussion also helped to make me feel more comfortable with the idea of being open to pursuing a romantic relationship, or at least taking the steps to get to such a relationship in the future.

So that’s when I began to feel all the feels…and the first guy I thought about was That Tall Guyโ€ฆletโ€™s call him TTG (name changed for privacy, chose to go with the first thing my guy friend from my lab said when I told him about this whole thing, lol).

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The Culver City Stairs at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook—a challenge E and I took on this weekend in order to be rewarded with glorious views of the city from the top.

Preparing for my qualifying exam in January was enough to keep my feelings in check, as stress for that took over. But once that was taken care of, those flitter-flutter butterfly feelings started to come up again, and I couldn’t shake the thoughts of trying to see if something with That Tall Guy could work.

Around the time I visited my cousin, these feelings were growing even more, and I felt like I just HAD to tell someone or I would burst. My sister was the first one to know since we talk about everything as it comes up in our lives, but my friend E was the first one I told among the people I see on a daily basis (actually on my bus ride back after visiting my cousin) and since she has been actively trying to get her love life together too (lol), we thought these would be “fun distractions” to have while we continued on with our mundane lab lives ๐Ÿ˜›

Funny thing was, I started to see TTG a lot more frequently since my confession to E. He started using the same facility that I use for some of my experiments. He is a quiet/shy person in general, and I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to him. This also made things quite complicated as I soon learned. I knew that the first step in this whole process was to make him aware of my existence, so I began initiating conversations. Being the first one to say hello, how’s it going, following up on something that he may have mentioned in previous daysโ€ฆ

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Hello LA.

But it wasn’t like I was starting from scratch. Just a year ago, we were in the same class, and saw each other at least 2-3x a week for a two hour lecture. I thought he was attractive then too, but the feelings weren’t as strong (or I made myself ignore them/not allow myself to sit with them). I was also working on myself (recovery, body image issues, starting therapy) and so my thoughts were more focused on myself than seeking out a relationship. Then summer, fall, and winter came, and I rarely saw him for the rest of the year since I became plenty busy with lab/my qualifying exam.

So when I did have time to start thinking about him again, on top of the fact that I was now seeing him again on a close to daily basis, I couldnโ€™t deny that I had feelings for him. These feelings felt so new and exhilarating—I was feeling euphoric for the first time in a long while! I didnโ€™t mind staying in lab longer, and since my experiments werenโ€™t time-sensitive, I tried to match my schedule to his so as not to be too obvious, but still increase the likelihood Iโ€™d encounter him. I was the first one to say hi, ask how he was/how his project was going, and smile a lot. It was so unlike me, but I was feeling adventurous and ready to get out of my comfort zone.

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Reflecting on things after the ascent.

I started leaving lab later because I learned mid-way through this whole lovesick journey that he took the same train I did, except in the opposite direction. One day, E and I secretly followed him (lol) just to see where he was going when leaving for the day, and thatโ€™s when we confirmed he didnโ€™t drive to work. I felt like I had found a hidden clue to solving this โ€œguy mysteryโ€.

Over the course of several weeks, my mind may have exaggerated things to mean more than what they were, but I couldn’t help but think these coincidental (and intentional, lol) encounters, exchanged smiles, and reaching out for help meant something more. He sent me a very thoughtful email asking to borrow an item from our lab, and E and I were practically squealing when writing up a reply. Infatuation at its peak I suppose.

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When you reach the climax.

After weeks of trying to time my Monday morning train ride with his, both our trains ended up at the stop at the same time. I literally had to power walk behind him just to catch up, but once I did, I initiated conversation. After asking how his project was going, he asked how my weekend was. When I asked the same question in return, that’s when he dropped the G word. I hadn’t seen him over the weekend because his GF was in town.

I played it cool, wished him a good day, and as soon as I got to lab I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. I then texted E and my sister. The game was over.

But because he is such a nice guy, I wanted to keep things as normal as possible. I still said hey to him when I saw him, and asked how is project was going. As the days went by, my feelings calmed down and in their place emotional exhaustion set in. I left lab early on some days, just to get home and rest up. I drifted from disappointment, sadness, irritation, anger, and fatigue.

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I left lab very early one day during the week, due to just feeling emotionally exhausted. Stopped by Sprouts and bought this bar. Instagram review —> “So happy to see that Sprouts has started to carry more RX Bars…including the Mint Chocolate flavor! It’s the last one I’ve been needing to try, and upon opening it, I was hit by a friendly peppermint-y aroma. Other than that, it pretty much tasted like the coconut flavor only because of it’s mixed-up texture, with the chocolate chunks and chopped nuts and all that ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹”

Overall, I see this as a life lesson. I’m grateful that I experienced such euphoria for six weeks. It proved to me—if anything—that I am continuing to push away from my eating disorder past and seek relationships. Even after hearing TTG had a GF, I did not feel the need to go to a mirror and body check. I knew that there was nothing wrong with ME, and that for whatever reason, the timing wasn’t right.

Yeah, we never went out for coffee. There was no first date, and I didnโ€™t learn anything new about him besides what he does in his lab, but I held my head high and carried on as usual. I felt exhausted, but the self-confidence I gained over the past six weeks still seemed to stick around. I may have not gotten the guy, but this chase has rewarded me with so much more.

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I honored myself with time to sit with my feelings, but then I respected myself to move forward from this experience. I’m just going to continue to keep doing what’s right for me. Continue to shower myself with lots of love, doing what makes me happy, making sure I feel my best…when the time is right, and when I am at my happiest, that one person will be there.

When I least expect it.

LA (+ Friends) Part 3

LA (+ Friends) Part 3

On the third day I had company, I made plans for us to visit the Santa Monica Pier together, as well as stop by the Hammer Museum. The museum plans never came to fruition, since everyone got up late (with the exception of me, miss early bird!), but we did make it out to the pier…after the bus ride that seemed to take longer than usual!

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Santa Monica Pier…in December!!

It was warmer during the day compared to the previous few days of my friends’ stay. We took pictures on the boardwalk, and sat down for a coffee break while Friend #1 and brother got burgers and fries for lunch. I got an iced Americano from The Coffee Bean nearby, and after taking one sip, immediately poured in some sweetner to mask the bitterness!

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Iced Americano from Coffee Bean –> not bad, after adding sweetener!

We chatted and people-watched: both of which are fun activities to do with friends ๐Ÿ˜‰ . Confident seagulls stood on guard on top of umbrellas, while pigeons did much of their “ruling” on the boardwalk floor.

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Chillin’ at SM Pier. Seagulls rule.

We decided to leave soon after our short break since it was actually getting hotter, and taking a ride on the ferris wheel didn’t seem like such a fun idea after learning about the $6/person price.

Instead, we walked over to the Promenade (which I have come to know well…), so that Friend #2 could finally finish her list of christmas shopping for others.

Time seemed to be going by so slowly though, and we were all counting down the hours until we could finally have dinner at Veggie Grill! I promised everyone we would go there for the day, and so we now had to find ways to kill time ๐Ÿ˜‰ . The museum idea was scrapped after we spent a little too much time than planned at the mall, and so once 2pm struck, we decided to just stick around until it was a more decent time to head on out to dinner. This meant more walking, sitting, standing, and selfie-taking ๐Ÿ˜›

Around 4:30pm, we took a bus to get closer to Veggie Grill on Wilshire. This saved us some time, and also gave us a chance to rest our feet from walking for another 30-40 minutes. At the stop we were dropped off at, we only had to walk one block to reach the restaurant.

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Veggie Grill, on Wilshire ๐Ÿ™‚

I let everyone know that dinner was on me ๐Ÿ˜€ . The free entree with the purchase of a $30 giftcard promo helped me in that regard ๐Ÿ˜‰

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One of the smaller VG locations.

Friend #2 and I got the all-new Sonoran Winter Bowl. I was excited to try the myriad of textures and flavors in this dish—especially the fire-roasted carrots. We both agreed that the spiciness from the sauce and jalapenos cleared our sinuses!

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The ALL NEW Sonoran Winter Bowl –> this bowl of beauty had spiced and fire-roasted carrots, seasoned black beans, avocado chunks, tomato corn salsa, jalapeรฑos, tortilla strips, roasted red pepper sauce (so hot btw) all of which was stacked on quinoa pilaf with dried grapes & almonds!!

The rest of the group got the burger/sandwich and fries kind of fare, which were nothing short of tasty!

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Other food at the table. Friend #2 got the Sonoran Winter Bowl, like me ๐Ÿ™‚

Once our meals were eaten, we had another adventure getting back home courtesy of public transit. We were supposed to transfer over to a bus that stops at the corner of my apartment, but when that bus completely passed our stop—right in front of us—we actually had to transfer back to the first bus, and then use the rail to get home! So even though getting home took longer than planned, we still made a fun time out of it. There was a guy on the rail jammin’ it out (and then soliciting tips afterwards, haha), and then when my sister learned that she got straight A’s for the semester (after she deliberately avoided checking her grades online for days…), we made a huge scene congratulating her for it.

The next day mainly involved packing, cleaning up the apartment (Swifer time!), and making the drive back up north to spend some time with our respective families. We got back around 6pm, and even though I had a great time with my best friends in the city, I was glad to be able to fully relax in my childhood home and completely de-stress…if only for a week and a half!!

Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

LA (+ Friends) Part 1

LA (+ Friends) Part 1

My sister, two best friends, and Friend #1’s younger brother, arrived in LA on Saturday night—and I couldn’t wait to start the party with them ๐Ÿ˜› 

I ended up showing them around my apartment, apartment complex, and showing them the gorgeous DTLA skyline at night before having tea and settling in for a mini chat-fest. 

The next morning, after I went out for a 10 mile run and after we all casually got ready, I herded the flock towards a nearby Metro rail stop to get TAP cards. We made an adventure out of taking the Expo Line and transferring to the crowded (and often smelly) Red Line to get to the Mid-City area. We got off at the closest stop to catch the bus where we needed to transfer to make our way further west, and after 20 minutes of riding in the bus, we finished our public transit trek across town. We walked down towards 3rd Street, and found LA’s single location of Magnolia Bakery waiting for us on the corner. 

 The interior of Magnolia Bakery---so lacy and cute!!
The interior of Magnolia Bakery—so lacy and cute!!

We were distracted by the sparkly blue & white table display of winter wonderland-themed cupcakes, that we didn’t know where to orient ourselves in order to make our purchases!

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Sitting at a table close to the tower of cupcakes didn’t help…

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What does that tiny “For display only” sign plan to accomplish?

My friends and sister got coffee and/or tea to accompany their desserts. My sister and Friend #2 got the famous banana pudding. The apparently “small” size was a good amount to share between two (maybe three) people—it was so thick and rich with banana flavor of course. In other words, it wasn’t my style.

I did have some of the custard though, just so I could say I tried the dessert Magnolia Bakery is recognized for! There were also chunks of bread (or cake?) mixed in for some added texture. 

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I kept things simple and sweet, and got a simple vanilla buttercream cupcake. I was hoping the girl behind the counter would hand me the purple-frosted one, but I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it when she pulled out this light and fresh cutie instead.

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It ain’t no Crumbs Bakeshop cupcake, but it is adorable!

As we sat at our table eating and drinking our late morning snackables, we kept admiring the interior and fun decorations. My (banana pudding) friend and I wondered how much this vintage coffee sign should have cost…originally, and now!

 Large ceiling fans, and vintage coffee signs.
Large ceiling fans, and vintage coffee signs.

Overall, I thought the bakery was a cute and homey one, and I’m glad to have “checked it off” my LA foodie bucket list, but I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites, or that I would seek out this particular location again. I guess it was because I would have preferred a wider variety of cupcakes and different kinds of cupcakes (such as some with cream fillings!!)

Once we were all ready to go, we continued to walk down 3rd Street until we reached The Grove. We popped into some shops along the way before reaching the Farmer’s Market, and hitting up Topshop as soon as we saw it. 

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Blue cow statue in front of Mendocino Farms // The Grove four days before Christmas // We were in Dylan’s Candy Bar for five minutes before walking out with a headache—screaming, excited children that are 1/4 of your height and are running all over the place can do that to a person…

We spent the rest of the afternoon (window) shopping, shopping at stores within our budget, and then taking a break at the Farmer’s Market before walking over to our dinner location.

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Trying on rings at Topshop (I like the boxy style, but I didn’t buy them…) // a pricey store of Indian goods at a shop on 3rd St. // a hot sauce store in the Farmer’s Market —> my friend took a picture of these ๐Ÿ˜›

For dinner, I gave my friends many options and put the decision-making task on them! In the end, I was pleased they decided to go for Inaka Natural Foods since it seemed like the perfect place to conclude the day’s adventures.

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I made a reservation for five people right at their opening for dinner. They open at 5:30pm for dinner, and have limited lunch hours, so we took our time walking over so we wouldn’t look to desperate for food ๐Ÿ˜‰ . We almost passed the place at first because the door was literally closed, and we had to open it as if we were entering someone’s house. And the restaurant workers made eye contact with us through the window as we were doing this, so it was awk-ward

The lighting was dim, and while it was the perfect environment for having dinner, it did not help with picture-taking.

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The restaurant is based on macrobiotic food, and the menu items are composed of simple but nutritionally-dense ingredients like seasonal vegetables from land and sea, grains, and protein (vegan-friendly tofu or pescatarian-friendly crustacean and fish).

There was a placard that outlined the main ingredient stars of the Inaka Plate, which is eventually what I decided to get (more specifically it was the Inaka Bowl, which was a smaller version of the plate. Our server said that the bowl was just enough for one person)!

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When my Inaka Bowl came out, it was a bowl that I couldn’t wait to dig into!

The brown rice was nestled at the bottom, covered by generous portions of butter beans (the day’s bean), tofu dipp (mashed tofu salad mixed with green onions—looked like cottage cheese spread or something!), kabocha ๐Ÿ™‚ , stewed veggies, sea veggies just oozing out with minerals, kale, lotus root, burdock, daikon, bean sprouts, and pickled cabbage. No soy sauce was needed to flavor this dish ๐Ÿ˜‰

INAKA BOWL small inaka plate

Going around the table, the others ordered dishes that included the Inaka Salad (like the bowl, but with salad instead of rice), a shrimp plate with similar assortment of veggies, and a hefty bowl of miso noodle soup.

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We left the restaurant with warm + nourished bellies, and walked north on La Brea to get to the bus stop. The ride back was a crowded one, but we were able to make a fun 1 hour ride out of it. Normally, long bus rides are sleep-inducing ways to kill time when I go out on solo weekend adventures, but it’s a completely different experience when out with friends…and I loved the change in routine ๐Ÿ™‚ !

Do you like doing things, or going to places you normally would do/go by yourself, with friends?

Magnolia Bakery on Urbanspoon Inaka Natural Foods on Urbanspoon

When I Don’t Study, I Eat

When I Don’t Study, I Eat

Last week was insane school-wise.

I had two intense exams in both of my classes on the SAME day, as well as a paper that was due over the weekend. Fun times in grad schoolโ€ฆ

 An hour before one of my exams, and not even free coffee could keep me from being distracted!
An hour before one of my exams, and not even free coffee could keep me from being distracted!

I still managed to have some โ€œfunโ€ and gave myself study breaks by making myself go out for some fresh air food. I was able to do just that on both weekends that sandwiched my horridly-scheduled exam week.

I mentioned that after my half, I had a late lunch. It was more like a super late breakfast, since I ended up ordering something to satisfy my sweet tooth from Jacks N Joe—a snug breakfast-centric restaurant tucked behind a strip mall.

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I arrived about half an hour before their closing time in the mid-afternoon. One of the employees was putting away the outdoor seats and tables, but she pleasantly held the door open for me as I approached the entrance. After declining a spot at the counter, I gladly took a table for one near the cash register, and didn’t mind since it gave me a central view of the restaurant.

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After looking over the menu another time (I looked at it dozens of times online ๐Ÿ˜› ), I decided to order one of their signature french toast plates.

SAMSUNGAnd it ended up being a heavenly choice ๐Ÿ˜‰

 7 Minutes in Heaven French Toast ~ 3 slices of Hawaiian french (lol) toast with nutella, bananas, and strawberries.
7 Minutes in Heaven French Toast ~ 3 slices of Hawaiian french (lol) toast with nutella, bananas, strawberries, and of course powdered sugar.

The bread was soft and chewy, and can you go wrong with strawberries and chocolate spread? I would have enjoyed this dish even without the bananas, but I’m not exactly a fan of the fruit so I’m a little biased there ๐Ÿ˜›

 I tolerated the banana slices because there was chocolate!
I tolerated the banana slices because there was chocolate!

I didn’t even touch the bottle of syrup that my waiter put on the table prior to my french toast coming out. There was truly no need!

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Despite averaging ~8 hours each day researching/writing for my paper the weekend after exam week, I still managed to get out for some eats. I decided not to venture off too far, since it was chilly as far as LA weather was concerned, and because my “free” time was limited.

I kept things simple by busing over to Fairfax Ave. since I could do some grocery shopping in the same area, while grabbing a bite to eat at Swinger’s Diner.

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The parking lot, entrance, and waiting near the door.

 The place was packed at 3pm on a Saturday, and no one wanted to eat outside since it was windy and cold, so I ended up having to wait twenty minutes for a seat. Even then, I was given the suggestion to get a booth at the back of the restaurant, and so I didn’t get to continue people watching. 

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People watching while waiting for a table. Mod art on the wall.

Instead, I ended up facing the cow wall, and had these condiments to entertain me.

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The menu was…entertaining as well, haha. I just quickly scanned through it to find the vegetarian and vegan options I had read online about, which was easy to do since a “thumbs up” icon next to a menu item meant it was vegetarian, and a peace sign meant it was vegan.

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Had to blur out some non-PG images, which I didn’t notice at first but then was like whoathere

After reading the fine print, I learned that tofu could be subbed in for chicken at no extra cost, so to my pleasant surprise, that opened up a lot more meal options! Because of that, I decided to get the grilled jamaican jerk chicken tofu ๐Ÿ˜€ . 

Waiting for my food to arrive took just as long as waiting for a seat. It was probably because the diner was still busy, but since I was literally facing a wall, time seemed to pass by slower than reality. Sure, there was a window to my left, but the view was the back of a hotel, and an obscured view at that since my booth was at a low level. 

When this came out, I wasn’t sure what to think exactly—why were the tofu pieces so thin and pathetic-looking? or plantains that look like french fries?? YES ๐Ÿ˜€ 

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Grilled Jamaican Jerk Tofu ~ jerk-marinated tofu with fried plantains black beans and sauteed quinoa.

Even though the tofu was a disappointment, the plantains picked up the slack—having just enough crisp on the outside, yet chewy on the inside. The black beans added flavor that the “marinade” on the excuse-for-tofu was lacking, and the quinoa added some extra crispiness to the dish, since it was sauteed.

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So after getting some food in me and doing some grocery shopping at the Grove, I got back home just as the sun was setting and felt refreshed enough to revise another draft of my paper. Sunday’s “adventures” were limited to a long run at Griffth Park with my running group, and then literally sitting at my kitchen table for almost 8 hours total wrapping up the paper that controlled my weekend.

Well, at least it’s done now!

How often do you need breaks when you study/work?

Jacks N Joe on Urbanspoon

Swingers on Urbanspoon

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

It’s hard to believe that within a week, I will be living on my own for the first time. I commuted as an undergrad, and even though I did spend my first year in the dorms, I came home almost every weekend without doubt. Seeing as I will now be about 7 hours away, that’s not going to be possible.

But that’s okay. I’ve been waiting for this transition—for this time to stand on my own two feet (as cliche as it may sound)—for quite some time now. It’s just hard to believe that all this waiting is coming to a close and that it is finally happening.

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My Dad and I had to fly down for my program’s orientation last week (he for business), so that also gave me a good opportunity to check in on my apartment and get some other errands done. The orientation was in the morning, and I was out by early afternoon. I was able to cool off with a chilly find from Sprouts as a snack.

Artic Zero Sea Salt Caramel

One of the newer flavors of Artic Zero—Sea Salt Caramel ๐Ÿ™‚ ! It was so scorching outside and in the car, so this was a great way to cool off on the way to the hotel. I also think this is my new favorite flavor, since it actually tastes like a caramel fudgesicle, if not ice cream. 

After checking into the hotel, I spent some time resting up before we decided to head out to some place local for dinner, since driving in LA traffic didn’t seem like something my Dad and I both felt like doing. Finding some fresh and filling food was not a problem, however, since Natural Selection was only 5 minutes away from the hotel.

Outdoorz

The restaurant itself was located in a small space, but inside decor was beautiful.

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indoors

The ceiling was my favorite part—it’s raining fruits ๐Ÿ™‚ !

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There was a menu on the wall, but I already knew what I wanted since I had taken a look at their menu online prior to heading out.

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We found a spot to sit at near the front window, and on the wall across from us were some picture collages of organic food/local farm produce logos cut out from boxes.

Wall Decor

After about ten minutes, my Dad’s drink came out: a strawberry-kiwi all-natural juice. It definitely tasted like the fruits were freshly-pressed, but it was a bit watery for my taste.

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Soon after the drink came out, our plates arrived. I tackled my Hawaiian Burger with a knife and fork. The pineapple ring was what classified this burger as Hawaiian I suppose, but overall it was a tasty burger. I especially liked the teriyaki/yogurt mayo combo (and adding siracha helped with the flavor too)!!

Hawaiian Burger - Veggie or turkey patty, jack cheese, grilled organic pineapple, organic tomatoes, onions, lettuce, yogurt based mayo, teriyaki sauce on a whole  wheat bun
Hawaiian Burger – Veggie or turkey patty, jack cheese, grilled organic pineapple, organic tomatoes, onions, lettuce, yogurt based mayo, teriyaki sauce on a whole wheat bun

My Dad’s Meditteranean Wrap—he was eating the other half when this picture was taken ๐Ÿ˜› .

Mediterranean Wrap Grilled chicken breast, feta cheese, black olives, organic baby greens, cucumbers, hummus and homemade Mediterranean dressing
Mediterranean Wrap – Grilled chicken breast Veggie patty, feta cheese, black olives, organic baby greens, cucumbers, hummus and homemade Mediterranean dressing

While it would have been nice to have more fruit on the side, I appreciated how they were at least blackberries and kiwi—in other words, a “pricier” offering ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Not sure when my next post will be up, but since this week is going to be jam-packed with things I need to do, will do, and hope to do regarding my move and school, blogging may have to take a back-seat until when I am all settled in ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

What are your thoughts on moving?

Natural Selection on Urbanspoon

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