SD with the Bestie

SD with the Bestie

E has now left the country, and while I’m going to miss her company so much, I definitely wanted to spend some stress-free time with her before she left. Hence, a weekend trip to San Diego was in order.

She’d been wanting to go there for a while, so I was glad we were able to make it happen. Since I had my sister’s car until the 26th, I was able to drive us down without having to worry about public transit.

It was about a 2.5 hour drive, and we made it into the area around noon. We tried setting our sights for the Point Loma Lighthouse, but ended up just north at a veterans’ memorial.

Views from the memorial // an old-school ship with sails in the disance
Views from the memorial // an old-school ship with sails in the distance

A local who was walking around told us that the lighthouse was actually a little bit west of our current location, so we decided to get back in the car and drive closer. We ended up the entrance to the Cabrillo National Monument, but had to turn around since their credit card machiene wasn’t working and we didn’t have cash in $5, $10, or $20 denominations. The sign outside stated they accepted cash and credit so we thought it was unfair, but we moved on.

Old Townj, San Diego
Old Town, San Diego

Instead, we drove into town from the coast, and found ourselves in Old Town SD, a huge market that housed a collection of street vendors, gift shops, and restaurants. E did some souvenir and gift shopping, but eventually we both were hungry enough to sit down to a late lunch.

Old Town SD Shopping
Old Town SD Shopping

Many of the restaurants featured Mexican cuisine, so we hopped on over to Miguel’s Cocina which was at the corner of a block we were approaching.

Miguel's
Miguel’s Cocina

After informing the waitress we were vegetarians, we were advised not to have their queso dip since it was cooked with chicken broth. As a result, we munched on complimentary chips and salsa. We even got complimentary guacamole since we couldn’t have the queso…score! Haha.

Lunch Spread
Lunch Spread

Between the two of us, we had fresh fajita veggies, veggie enchiladas, beans, and rice. It was all flavorful and delicious, but also quite filling. To-go boxes were pretty much mandatory for us.

After lunch, I asked E where to next. Most of the museums and exhibits were closing soon, so maybe something in nature (and that was free) made the most sense.

We drove back to the coast, this time to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs

Our timing was impeccable, and the views were perfect as the sun was setting.

Gorgeous views
Gorgeous views

E mentioned out loud that it would be the perfect place for a guy to propose. Someone overheard this and couldn’t help but speak out in agreement.

Rocky Shores
Rocky Shores

I was feeling super tired, so we decided to call it a day after walking around and checked in at our hotel. After getting settled in, E went to town with getting my make-up done (for fun) and we tried to watch a movie without falling asleep in the middle of it. Then we talked until we were completely exhausted and fell asleep, like the typical twelve-year-olds at a sleepover we were, haha 😉

Cozy
Cozy

We took our time getting ready the next morning, and beat the crowd to the free breakfast downstairs.

At around 10am, we took off for downtown.

Downtown SD
Downtown SD

Honestly, there’s not much to see in downtown…or in SD in general. I’ll admit that I probably wouldn’t be the best person to hire to advocate for SD, as I find it a pretty boring city to begin with. It’s like a beautiful and sunny San Francisco, and yeah, maybe a good place to work, raise a family, or retire, but to me? It’s just too boring, haha 😛 !

E did some more shopping, picked up some gift bags at CVS. and then we were off to our next location—the San Diego Botanic Garden, that was actually located in Encinitas.

San Diego Botanic Garden
San Diego Botanic Garden

Again if I’m being honest, the visit was a waste for us So Cal residents. Many of the plants featured in the garden could be seen all over the southern region of Cali, and I even recognized some from our campus! Still, it was an entertaining walk, and we found intriguing items like this Alphabet Garden:

'Stop and Smell' Alphabet Garden
‘Stop and Smell’ Alphabet Garden

P was for Pomegranate and E was for Elephant’s Foot, LOL!

After that little trek, we slowly headed back north to LA. We did make a stop in Newport Beach, I guess because we didn’t have our fill of ocean views??

Newport Beach
Newport Beach

These piers start to look the same after awhile, but the ocean views never get old. We walked for a bit and then made our way back to the car. It literally felt like a warm summer day and I had to turn on the A/C when we got back in the car…and it was Christmas Eve, what even is this weather?

After I dropped E off, all I wanted to do was sleep! I was still in active recovery mode so no runs were on the schedule. I was able to turn in early for the night, and sleep for most of Christmas Day after a long morning walk. It was definitely a sweet weekend with one of my dearest friends, and—I’ll make sure of it—many more adventures to come.

What was your Christmas weekend like?

Miguel's Cocina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

I Seriously Only Buy Food

I Seriously Only Buy Food

After walking over to Malibu Country Mart, I actually felt like shopping! What held me back was my wallet…even though there were some cute clothing shops, I couldn’t justify paying the prices that they were asking for.

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Malibu Country Mart

There was even a Lululemon, and usually I humor myself when I go in there. Maybe one day I’ll be crazy enough to “treat” myself to a luxuriously-priced piece of clothing that will, at the end of the day, end up being drenched in sweat (especially if worn for a long run). For now though, I usually walk in, notice how unenthusiastic the employees are about doing their job (i.e. helping customers), and walk out proudly, knowing that I did not succumb to fitness peer pressure.

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GROM Gelateria, Malibu

The gelato place I was more interested in was conveniently right next to Lulu. I actually knew about GROM from before because they have a location in Hollywood. Haven’t been to that one yet because it’s in a tourist hotspot that I do my best to avoid, but that won’t stop me from EVER going. This GROM was small and cleanly decorated. There were lots of children and their moms ahead of me in line, so I took that time to figure out what to get.

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Small, cute shop

They have small, medium, large, and extra large cups, as well as waffle cones. I’ve always been a cup kind of gal, but I had to do a double take on the small cup. Not sure how they could have fit even kids size scoop from Baskin-Robbins into that thing! Well, since it is an Italian brand perhaps things run smaller?

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100% natural, yay!

Also since I wanted to try two flavors, I chose to get the medium cup, which in my opinion holds a normal small-sized scoop. I got half Nutella and half lemon ginger which I later found out was actually sorbet, not gelato.

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1/2 Hazelnut (Nutella) + 1/2 Lemon Ginger

I sat in a picnic chair just outside the entrance, and needless to say, the Nutella side of my scoop was my favorite. It was creamy, and literally tasted like iced Nutella. The lemon ginger sorbet was fine too, but I guess I was not as thrilled by it because I had not intended on getting a sorbet flavor.

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From the top!

After savoring my sweet gelato, I walked around some more before calling it a day. I bought this cookie from a snack shop just before heading on the bus:

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Alternative Baking Company’s Cookie of the Season – Snicker Doodle

It literally smelled and tasted like pizza dough with a dusting of a cinnamon. In other words, disgusting. It’s unfortunate this one tasted so bad, as I wanted this vegan product to be so much better than it actually was. Maybe it was this particular flavor…but if they want to do better they should probably take a hint from Lenny & Larry’s.

My Labor Day off was a success in terms of relaxation, exploration, and eating nutritious foods that were also good for the soul. I felt a little bit more refreshed going into work the next day, but I’m not saying I couldn’t use more breaks 😉

Grom Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Fine Summer Weekend

A Fine Summer Weekend

My favorite kind of weekend is the kind that makes you feel like you’ve been on a week-long vacation come Sunday night. This past weekend had me feel just that, even though taking Friday off helped 😉

I left for the airport in Long Beach after taking care of things in lab during the day. I ended up having an hour to finish up packing, and rode the train down to the farthest stop it would go in Long Beach. Even though there was an accident on the railroad tracks by the time I boarded, the delay only took an extra half hour, and so I wasn’t panicking about missing my flight. I actually ended up making it to my gate with a good twenty minutes to spare!

We didn’t depart until ~8:30PM, which meant take-off took place when the sky just turned dark. Needless to say, the view was awesome from my window seat 😉 . I was able to sit back, listen to my MP3, and enjoy flying through the night sky. I landed close to 10PM, and my Dad was able to pick me up from the airport. I had no energy once arriving at the house, and promptly crashed into a pleasant night’s sleep.

The next morning, I went out for a 6 mile run along old routes. I was quickly reminded of how hot it gets in the summer, even at 8AM up in my part of Nor Cal, but I was still able to run at a fast-for-me pace despite this.

After the run, I kept things lazy with a nap at noon. Since my sister was also visiting this weekend, we decided to head out to the mall later in the afternoon with our friend who was at home with her family for the summer. We ended up doing some clothes shopping, and stopped at Barnes & Noble for some coffee and reading time (I appropriately read the issues of Runner’s World that I needed to catch up on 😉 ).

 Sbux and magazine reading at B&N // Stats from run earlier in the day!
Sbux and magazine reading at B&N // Stats from run earlier in the day!

For the rest of the evening, I sat down to a home-cooked meal and eventually went to sleep after some couch & TV time…it was the best 🙂

On Saturday, my Dad and I went to the gym, where I was able to fit in an upper-body workout followed by a soak in the spa. After running some errands, I had lunch followed by a glorious nap. Funny thing is, when I woke up from that nap, I felt like taking another one! I was certainly taking advantage of the hours of sleep I lost from my busy days in May!!

 Tried on the free tank I got in the mail a few days ago!
Tried on the free tank I got in the mail a few days ago!

I think I ended up napping the day away looking back at it now…but I have zero regrets about that. Upon waking up, I was able to convince my sister  (though it didn’t take much convincing…) to join me in a pint party. She treated herself to a chocolate-exploding flavor from Ben & Jerry’s, while I finally got my hands on and dug into a pint of The Tonight Dough!

thetonightdough!

I was expecting this flavor to be a lot more tastier than it ended up being, but found it to be heavy in the chocolate ice cream when compared to what was available caramel-wise. And the ‘gobs of cookie dough’ were really lacking, just sayin’

 Too much chocolate, not enough caramel, and is that a peanut butter cookie dough gob I see...or just my imagination??
Too much chocolate, not enough caramel, and is that a peanut butter cookie dough gob I see…or just my imagination??

We paired our ice cream party with a Netflix movie, specifically Mary & Max. Our thought was that claymation = a potentially cute and endearing movie, and while it was a good movie from the aspect of storytelling, it was interesting to see “certain themes” imaged through a medium primarily used for younger audiences….yeah, but what else can you expect from Netflix?

— 

On Sunday, I was able to “sleep in” until 7, and immediately got ready for my 12-mile long run after sharing coffee with my Dad. I went out for a 6 mile out-and-back with no music, and felt incredibly refreshed after my workout. I was even more elated to find out that my Dad made chocolate chip pancakes for my sister and I, and I topped mine with some cherry greek yogurt because greek yogurt >>> syrup. Again, just sayin’ 😉

 Homemade post-run brekkie fuel (aka, the best).
Homemade post-run brekkie fuel (aka, the best).

The morning fun continued with a stop at the gym, and a quick lunch before heading out for my first ever pedicure!

spa day

I initially went in with hopes of getting rid of two tough calluses that had formed on the sides of the balls of my feet (oh, the side effects of running…), but unfortunately the pedicurist didn’t do such a great job. It did feel nice to have my legs and feet pampered though…especially soon after a long run! 

And to continue my state of R&R bliss, I had another pint–#2 for the weekend!

thatsmyjam

The That’s My Jam Core was calling out my name—Ben & Jerry surely did want to redeem themselves for the sub-par flavor that was The Tonight Dough 😛 . And this core certainly did just that—it had just the right balance of chocolate and raspberry flavors, and the chocolate chunks were appropriately mixed in with the raspberry side of things 😉 

 Okay, so chocolate is finally giving some room for another flavor ;) . Raspberry ice cream and a raspberry jam core isn't such a bad flavor to share the spotlight with though!
Okay, so chocolate is finally giving some room for another flavor 😉 . Raspberry ice cream and a raspberry jam core isn’t such a bad flavor to share the spotlight with though!

Unlike on Saturday though, this pint served as my “nap cap”, and I fell into another deep, cozy nap. I accompanied my Dad to the grocery store when I woke up, and after returning, had dinner while watching The Next Food Network Star with the sister. Before going to bed, I finished packing up and before I knew it, I was awake again (though not due to my choosing…) and the blissful, relaxing weekend as I knew it had come to an end. 

This short trip was especially bittersweet for me this time around, since my parents are setting up to move out-of-state by the time summer ends. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it up again before the big move, so it may as well be the final time I stayed in the house that I grew up in for 14 years of my life…I still have ties to my hometown though, at least through my close, childhood friends, but not having a personal “home” in the place I lived most of my life will definitely be something that I’ll need to get used to.

What are your ingredients for a fine summer weekend?

Runners, how do you get rid of calluses? 

Fun in Fresno – Part 2

Fun in Fresno – Part 2

Day 2 of my visit to Fresno to see the darling sis started off great. I woke up at 7AM from a pleasant rest, and went out for a 6 mile run around the perimeter of her campus and nearby residential areas. It was certainly nice to have a change of scenery from my urban street runs to something more rural…even if there really wasn’t much to look at.

I got back from my run, and my sister and I got ready for a full day of eating, shopping, and (maybe) some studying. First thing on the agenda was lunch at Dusty Buns Bistro.

 A gorgeous, sunny Saturday morning. Perfect for taking pictures which was what we did before lunch!
A gorgeous, sunny Saturday morning. Perfect for taking pictures which was what we did before lunch!

The neighborhood that Dusty Buns was located in seemed quiet and peaceful (at least at 11AM in the morning), and we were the first customers of the day to enter.

insidebistro

There was a creative menu display on the wall of the left side of the register, but when I learned about the special of the day—the tofu chili—I decided to go with that. My sister chose to get an apple+brie combo (without bacon).

menuitems on wall

We were excited to put in our orders and try our sandwiches. My sister had the opportunity to try their trademark dusty buns when the food truck stopped by her campus a couple months ago. She had been looking for a chance to visit their brick-and-mortar Fresno location, and obviously I made for the perfect ‘foodie friend’ to go with 😉

But, our visit did come with some complications when our food arrived initially. First, they made the mistake of adding bacon to my sister’s sandwich, and adding chicken to my sandwich which already had tofu. This was slightly frustrating, but our server was able to have the kitchen remake our sandwiches the correct way, so things were A-OK in the end 🙂

 My sister's Le Grilled Cheese - Aged White Cheddar, (no) Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Sliced Apple. Second time's a charm.
My sister’s Le Grilled Cheese – Aged White Cheddar, (no) Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Sliced Apple. Second time’s a charm.
 My Tofu Chili Dusty Bun sandwich!
My Tofu Chili Dusty Bun sandwich!

When we got our correctly-made sandwiches, we truly enjoyed them. The buns were dusty due to the extra coating of flour on top. Toasting the buns made them more crisp, but they still kept a light, soft texture.

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There I go again eating my sandwich with a fork, from the inside out!

After our warm and satisfying lunch, we spent the remainder of the morning into the afternoon clothes shopping at Plato’s Closet, Ross, and stores at a nearby mall. It had been a while since I bought any new “regular”/street clothes, and I was able to find some good deals on two pairs of cute pants and a pair of jeans.

We made our way towards dinner around 5PM, again going into downtown to find the elusive Flaco’s—a well-known vegan Mexican food place in Berkeley that was now available in Fresno.

What we weren’t expecting however, was that Flaco’s didn’t have its own building per say…

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But rather it was the featured menu inside of a bar called Strummer’s! It was still the real deal, menu and all, it just (oddly) didn’t have its own physical location.

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At first we weren’t sure what the deal was, but after confirming that Flaco’s did indeed exist, we made our way inside Strummer’s.

looksshadybutwewereok!

Despite the off-putting dim lighting of the bar (and cigarette smoke coming from the area where happy hour was occurring…), we had a friendly waitress help us with our orders. Her friendly disposition certainly put us at ease.

My sister and I wanted to try the taquitos, so we made it into a plate that included black beans, Spanish rice, green salsa, and chopped salad. We also got nachos to split. We also confirmed with the waitress that yes, everything was vegan meaning it was vegetarian, so that we wouldn’t have another mess-up to deal with similar to what occurred that morning.

Between the time we ordered our food and its arrival to our table, I had enough time to use the restroom and learn the life story of an ex-con/drug dealer who had four kids in his 20s…fun times in Fresno for sure 😛

When our food was ready to eat, we each sample a taquito. The outside shell was certainly fried and crispy, and the soy protein on the inside was quite dry, so having the green salsa to dip it into was a necessity.

taquito-plate

The nacho chips were small, but seasoned similar to that of a Doritos chip!

da-nachos

The chips themselves were covered with refried beans and tons of the usual nacho veggies (lettuce, onion, tomato, etc.) + vegan cheese shreds.

Both meals split between two people was just enough to feel satiated but not stuffed. The quality of food—especially from what you’d think would come through the doors of a bar kitchen—was at level with many of the vegan restaurants I’ve visited in LA.

We thanked our waitress many times (and tipped her well) after finishing up. For the rest of the evening, we took a break back at my sister’s dorm, and rested/got some work done before heading out for the real event of the day night…

Dusty Buns Bistro on Urbanspoon

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 😉 . Confident seagulls stood on guard on top of umbrellas, while pigeons did much of their “ruling” on the boardwalk floor.

samo
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 😉 . 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 😛

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 🙂

I let everyone know that dinner was on me 😀 . The free entree with the purchase of a $30 giftcard promo helped me in that regard 😉

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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, jalapeños, 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!

food!
Other food at the table. Friend #2 got the Sonoran Winter Bowl, like me 🙂

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 2

LA (+ Friends) Part 2

On day 2 of my friends’ visit to LA, I went out for a short 3 miler while I took Friend #2 and Friend #1’s brother over to my apartment complex’s fitness room. My legs felt somewhat sore since I was running in some old shoes (whether I am breaking in new shoes, or wearing out old ones, my legs seem to be sore after either situation…).

We left for Union Station to take the Gold Line out to Pasadena, and made our way over to Intelligentsia Cafe for some pretentious coffee 😉

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Thanks to Google Maps, I led my friends through an alley and so we ended up entering the coffee shop from the back. The entrance already made it seem like we were entering an elite-only club 😛

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Once inside, we were amazed by how big the coffee shop actually was.

intelinterior

One side was an alcoholic side (which was unstationed at the the time we came in, around noon), and of course, the busy coffee/tea/chocolates side which was closer to the actual front entrance.

lightsandpretty

We were all scrambling around, and making the frequent customers just looking to get their usual cup for the day feel antsy. My sister, Friend #1, and her brother found seats for us at an empty counter while Friend #2 and I contemplated over what kind of coffee blend we should each order.

 Cute mugs, but a tiny menu!
Cute mugs, but a tiny menu!

I decided on an Ethiopian black coffee with hints of honeysuckle, apricot, and almond butter, while Friend #2 got the Rwandan blend (I forgot what hints of flavor it had…). Our coffees were “supposedly” 12 oz., but they had to put the overflow into containers that looked like they were maple syrup jars! The rest of the gang got a cheeseboard to split.

 I had some of those plump craisins---soooo good :) !
I had some of those plump craisins—soooo good 🙂 !
ethiopian_and__rwanda
My Ethiopian coffee at the top, and my friend’s Rwandan coffee at the bottom with milk.

I finished all of the coffee in my mug, and part of the “maple syrup jar” coffee, but wasn’t able to drink it all. I could detect the smooth, buttery taste of my blend, but I could only handle so much of the bitterness—perhaps I should have added some more sweetener? They had their own Intelligensia-packaged sweetener (Natvia brand) , and you better believed I took some “for the road” 😉 

After our coffee break, we headed east on Colorado towards Vroman’s Bookstore since my sister and Friend #1 are major book fanatics. Apparently, it is the oldest bookstore in Southern California…

 The kitty collection at the bookstore!
The kitty collection at the bookstore!

We left the bookstore after a good amount of time had passed. To kill some more time, we went back down the road towards where the majority of the stores were. We made our way (window shopping) through Urban Outfitters, Paper Source, and Madewell before heading over to our dinner stop at Green Earth Vegan Cuisine.

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We were the only group of people at the restaurant around 5pm on a weeknight, but that didn’t bother us. We were hungry, so no shame, haha. 

 Inside Green Earth Vegan Cuisine
Inside Green Earth Vegan Cuisine

For an appetizer, Friend #1 ordered the wontons.

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For her meal, she got one of the burgers—which was so hefty on the lettuce, that I couldn’t tell what the actual burger was.

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I got the Roast Beet Salad, but my favorite part of the dish was the grilled tofu. That, and the beets were the only redeeming qualities of the entire salad. Everything else seemed like it could have been poured in from a bulk bag of salad mix…which I wouldn’t doubt if it was.

Roasted garden beets, organic spring mix, carrots, cucumber, avocado, organic bean sprouts and sunflower shoots, and grilled tofu
Roasted garden beets, organic spring mix, carrots, cucumber, avocado, organic bean sprouts and sunflower shoots, and grilled tofu

Friend #2 got the Three Flavors, particularly for the eggplant. I remember getting a similar dish called the P.E.T. at another vegan restaurant in Pasadena. She wouldn’t stop raving about the eggplant, since she herself has not had success cooking with eggplant…yet 😉 

Pumpkin, eggplant, tofu, onion, sweet basil, red and green bell pepper, and king oyster mushroom with chef’s sauce 
Pumpkin, eggplant, tofu, onion, sweet basil, red and green bell pepper, and king oyster mushroom with chef’s sauce 

My sister got the Lasagne Di Vendure, which sounded pretty fancy but appeared to be a simple, homestyle-but-healthy kind of plate. She also had a whole bowl of toasted bread on the side. 

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Lasagna with eggplant, zucchini, onion, broccoli, green and red bell pepper served with mashed potatoes and toasted bread (she got a whole bowl, unpictured)

Once dinner was eaten, my crew and I headed back to Memorial Park Station, but along the way, stopped for gelato. We joked about the guy behind the counter who kept insisting on not to get the green tea flavor (for some reason, he kept questioning my friends about their green tea choice!), were entertained by the brass band street performers, and had fun taking selfies on the train. Back at my apartment, we all got cozy in our PJs and watched a movie before falling asleep. Looks like Day 2 was another success, and a memorable one!

Have you ever had “pretentious” coffee? 

Intelligentsia Cafe on Urbanspoon Green Earth Vegan Cuisine 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 😛 

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!

magnoliabakerywinterwonderlanddisplay

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

iwanttoeatthese
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. 

magnoliabakerybananapudding

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. 

explorations
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.

niftythings
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 😛

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 😉 . 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.

setting

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 🙂 , 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 😉

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.

misoudonnoodlesoup-shrimplplate-inakacountryvegsalad

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 🙂 !

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

Showing Off My City

Showing Off My City

After reuniting over pizza and dragging my Dad to a 10 mile race on the Saturday morning of my Dad and sis’s weekend visit, I planned to take both of them to some of my favorite places in the LA area so far—more so for my sister’s sake, since she had never been to Santa Monica. So after some homework and nap time, we left my apartment around 3pm and headed over to the Pier/Promenade area.

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We found $5 parking underground…a few blocks from a parking lot that had the nerve to charge $20 for a spot. Guess we showed them! My sis was feeling peckish, so she had some appetizer-size tacos from one of the food stalls at the food court in the upper-level.

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After having the chance to quell her munchies, we walked around the Promenade, and browsed a couple shops—including Urban Outiftters and Crossroads Trading Co. She’s more of a thrifter than I am, but I was the one that ended up making purchases that day (two jeans, one of which was a pair of dark wash Free People flares for only $25!) Yay!

After shopping, we found our patient Dad waiting for us outside. He was able to entertain himself, and us later, by showing us photos of the “interesting folk” that passed by. I (sort of) seriously recommended that he should make it a thing—could get an art book deal or something out of it 😛 !

 Crossing the street to get to dinner!
Crossing the street to get to dinner!

For dinner, we headed over to Real Food Daily since I was craving a huge bowl of wholesome food. My sister was surprisingly still ravenous, but I knew that RFD was the perfect solution!

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The SaMo location would be pretty easy to miss, if it were not for the square hanging sign humbly displayed outside. We entered the dimly lit restaurant, and asked if we could sit upstairs.

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We found a cozy spot in the back corner, and after settling in, we looked at the menu and decided to order family-style since it was the perfect opportunity to get a taste of all sorts of crazy-delicious RFD menu items. In the end, I picked the Not-Chos, my sis the Club, and my Dad the Basic Five, from which we selected five items from the categories of veggies, beans & grains, and one plant protein. After much convincing and a guarantee from our server that “yes, the golden gravy is flavorful, Dad”, we chose as a group our five selections to be the sea vegetables, garlicky greens, soba noodles, mashed potatoes w/gravy, and the almond “tuna”.

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After placing our family-size order, my sister and I climbed downstairs to wash our hands in the restroom. My sister didn’t lock the door since she was just washing her hands, but it was still awkward when one of the kitchen staff shot by me and opened the door to the bathroom without even knocking.

 The kitchen area where a member of the kitchen staff flew right by me!
The kitchen area where a member of the kitchen staff flew right by me!

After that awkward incident, we went back upstairs and chatted amongst eachother while we waited for our food…which, despite our growing hunger, was well worth the wait…

 Not-chos ~ Melted cashew cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, tofu sour cream, guacamole
Not-chos ~ Melted cashew cheese, black beans, pico de gallo,
tofu sour cream, guacamole
The Club ~ triple decker  or in a wrap w/ crispy seitan, tempeh bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, aioli, sourdough
The Club ~ triple decker or in a wrap w/ crispy seitan, tempeh bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, aioli, sourdough
 L-to-R going clockwise ~ almond "tuna", sea vegetables, soba noodles, mashed potatoes with gravy, garlicky greens---they forgot the golden gravy at first, so they brought it in a little bowl off to the side...
L-to-R going clockwise ~ almond “tuna”, sea vegetables, soba noodles, mashed potatoes with gravy, garlicky greens—they forgot the golden gravy at first, so they brought it in a little bowl off to the side…

I mostly attacked the nachos, but I wasn’t a fan of the chips. They tasted a bit too stale for me—but when topped with the almond “tuna”? De.licious.

So obviously I was using the almond “tuna” as an additional topping for my nachos because I couldn’t get enough of it. I also found the sea vegetables, garlicky greens, and soba noodles all flavorful and filling (very filling). My sister finally felt full after (almost) getting through all four sandwich quarters.

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Don’t let vegan food fool ya…it can be quite rich!

My Dad and sis were both pleased with the meal, with my sis saying she hasn’t had anything that tasty and delicious for quite some time, since her dining commons at school has nothing in comparison. I was glad that I was able to share another one of my favorites with them, and thought about taking them to the RFD in WeHo next time.

 Fancy art shows.
Fancy art shows on Ocean Ave.

We left with our bellies full (no room for dessert!) and semi-waddled over to Ocean Ave. We were too stuffed tired to make it down to the Pier, but I didn’t mind since we could always save that for another day. 

 The SM Pier @ night.
The SM Pier @ night

On Sunday, I let my Dad and sister sleep in while I went out for a morning long run with the group I’m training for the LA Marathon with. After the run, I came back to an apartment smelling like omelettes, coffee, and freshly-washed dishes. Gotta love parents!

My Dad had been wanting me to give him a campus tour, so that occupied the rest of our morning after running some last-minute in-house errands and helping the fam pack up. After walking around my campus (very slowly, in heels nonetheless), we decided to have a late Sunday lunch at the Urth Caffe in DTLA. When I told my sister about the amazing green tea tiramisu I had, she looked up the menu and had tre latti on the brain all weekend. I couldn’t deny her the indulgence after letting her in on the secret 😉 ! 

I have got to be honest and say it was hard to find, since it was in the middle of the Arts District downtown.

 Nice art!
Nice art!

It was also the only “edible” location in the area…

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While my Dad looked for parking, my sis and I found our spot in the queue that was (not surprisingly) already out the door.

waiting outside

When we made our way inside, we still had to face some crowds…

crowdsgrrr

…but, at least our eyes weren’t bored!

 Tea and mug wall // dessert goods // cool mural
Tea and mug wall // dessert goods // cool urth-y mural

There were a lot of seating options, and so we found a table in the indoor patio dining area.

 Beautiful room, not so beautiful display of wasted food.
Beautiful room, not so beautiful display of wasted food.

^ If I wasn’t wary of infectious diseases, I would have grabbed that tiramisu. Pity it had to go to waste 🙁

We ordered family-style again, but we ordered platter-style entrees that would be easy to split among three people. It was a long wait, but all of our food (and teas!) came out at once so it was like a feast:

 Platter
The Mediterranean Platter – a plate of feta cheese, grape leaves, hummus, tabouli, roasted peppers & mixed olives (with pits) garnished with mint, grilled artichokes and pure olive oil served with pita bread.
-  nori sheet stuffed with avocado, organic brown rice, carrots, broccoli, green onions, umeboshi plum paste, and five spice tofu served with a mixed greens salad and wasabi.
Nori Plum Rice Wrap –  nori sheet stuffed with avocado, organic brown rice, carrots, broccoli, green onions, umeboshi plum paste, and five spice tofu served with a mixed greens salad and wasabi.

Pita bread on the side 🙂

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I split the Moroccan Mint Tea with my Dad, while my sister indulged in the English Tea Latte with her Tre Latti!

Moroccan Tea Latté - made with organic green tea and cool creamy mint
Moroccan Tea Latté – made with organic green tea and cool creamy mint
English Tea Latte - a rich creamy organic tea latte perfect for high tea!
English Tea Latte – a rich creamy organic tea latte perfect for high tea!
Tre Latti - vanilla sponge cake soaked in FOUR different sweet milks, a layer of chantilly cream and iced with a caramelized meringue
Tre Latti – vanilla sponge cake soaked in FOUR different sweet milks, a layer of chantilly cream and iced with a caramelized meringue

The description itself sounds like it flew over from Italy personally, and landed on my sister’s plate!

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 Helpin' myself.
Helpin’ myself.

We were able to clean our plates (in other words, no excess food was ordered or wasted), and we left the restaurant happy with our family meal out, yet again.

I was dropped off at home while my Dad headed up north with my sis to drop her off at her college before Monday classes. My Dad actually ended up seeing me the next two days since he had to come back for business, but it was a real parting between my sister and I that afternoon since I wouldn’t be able to see her until Thanksgiving!

But for the time being, I would say we had a pretty swell time ♥

Real Food Daily on Urbanspoon

Urth Caffé on Urbanspoon

Batons and the Next Day

Batons and the Next Day

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend one of my friend’s competitions in baton twirling. She’s been a twirler since her elementary school days, but even though I have known her for just as long, I had never seen her perform in a competitive setting—mostly because her competitions were held out-of-state. But since this year’s competition was in Stockton, I seized the opportunity to go out and support my friend 😀 !

We had some bottom-of-the-bag Honey Nut Cheerios that needed to be finished up, so I mixed that with the last of my carob chips and had that as my car ride snack. The Cheerios may have outnumbered my beloved carob chips, but it mostly looked that way because they had a tendency to sink to the bottom.

Cheerios and Carob Chip Mix

It took us a little over an hour to get to the arena where they were holding the USTA Baton Twirling Championships. My friend’s performance was closer to noon, so by the time we arrived, we were able to watch some duet performances. My favorite was this take on Beauty and the Beast by this lovely “young couple”.

 Hard to see, but they were so tiny and limber. So cute!!
Hard to see, but they were so tiny and limber. So cute!!

After watching some creative performances, the groups that were to perform in the next set came out to the front. I found this group with the pink-and-black outfits to be my favorites appearance-wise, even though they were my friend’s team’s competitors!

batons

After about an hour of watching the group performances, and seeing my friend lead her pack (and whizz by so fast that it was almost impossible for me to get some good pictures of her in action), she met us up in the stands. She was super hungry (not surprisingly), so we accompanied her to find a place to pick up lunch.

Stockton is not exactly a go-to destination for gourmet dining, but my friend was able to get an entree salad sans croutons (since she’s gluten-intolerant). She was eager to get back to the arena and watch more performances, but my sis, other friend, and I left soon after since my friend’s group was done performing for the day.

The following day I had off from work, and so I asked my friend if she wanted to go (window) shopping for some small apartment necessities (kitchen, small appliances) with me. I only made it out with three kitchen things (a peeler, a spatula, and a bowl), since I still wanted to see if we had anything in my house that was not being used (so I could save $$ by not spending it on things we already have and that I could take). In the end, I mostly just observed and compared the prices of various items so I could go back and purchase them later. 

We were out driving and running about for almost four hours, so we decided to have a late sushi lunch at Little Madfish where my sister met up with us. 

littlemadfish (1)

There was barely anyone there, since it was pretty late in the afternoon.

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It was nice having such a large space “for ourselves”. The divider that blocked me from taking a good picture of the wall decor added to that sense of privacy.

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After settling in, we sipped on our waters while trying to figure out what to get.

place

We came in during Happy Hour so many items were discounted. Unfortunately, the (meager offering of) vegetarian rolls were not part of the promo, so my sis and I had to pay regular price for our orders.

 The menu
The menu

 Between the my sister and I, we did not spend too much on our Gobo and Avocado Cucumber Rolls:

Avocado Cucumber
Avocado Cucumber
Gobo = root of the greater burdock plant
Gobo = burdock plant root

I didn’t expect my roll to be so tiny, but given my options, I had to settle for my humble plate for the time being. The gobo reminded me (in taste and appearance) of a carrot, but spicier in flavor. I also had a piece of my sister’s avocado cucumber roll, and scolded myself for not ordering that in the first place 😉 !

My friend and her brother ordered a huge sampler plate of a variety of rolls, some even doused in spicy sauces and creams.

 Food of friends.
Food of friends.

I was desperately wishing that plate was veggie-friendly, but unfortunately it wasn’t so 🙁

So after nibbling at my Gobo roll, I resorted to finishing of the communal ginger and wasabi plate.

gingerwasabi

Overall, I found the restaurant to be okay, but certainly not worth venturing out to again. It’s one of my best friend’s favorite spots to eat at though, so I’m glad she and her brother at least left with full bellies 😉 .

littlemadfish (9)
At least I got to practice my chopstick skillz!

Do you go to places you don’t like but your family/friends do, just so you can make them happy?

Little Madfish on Urbanspoon

A Freebielicious Day

A Freebielicious Day

A sunny day in Santana Row, four girls eager to shop, and free item coupons to redeem—these are the makings of a fantastic birthday weekend day trip, particularly mine ;).

We arrived at Santana Row around midday, and admired the classic, old downtown-esque style of the buildings and how the shops were so close together.

Santana Row Walk

It’s such a fancy-schmancy place, you could dish out the big bucks and drive out with a Tesla car if you wanted to :P! I could imagine the conversation a rich couple living in Silicon Valley would have…

“Hey honey, what did you buy at the mall today?”

“Oh the usual, it’s out on the driveway.”

We soon arrived at the place that was the whole reason for making the trip down to Santana Row. I have been dying to visit ever since learning about their Northern California existence…

Veggie Grill!!!
Veggie Grill!!!

My friends are non-vegetarians, but they appreciate good vegetarian/vegan food as much as the “whole earth/plant-obsessed” vegan ;). My sister and I appreciate, and like to support, restaurants that are veg-friendly since we’ve been vegetarians since birth.

I didn’t need a menu since I already knew what I was going to order. My friends debated dishes from burgers to appetizers, but once we all knew what we wanted, we made our way to the counter to pay. I came prepared with a free dessert and free entree coupon, since I had joined their e-mail club program and their birthday perk is an entree on the house. We were able to wipe off $13 from our bill—not bad considering we were four hungry young ladies :P!

We found a booth near the cooking action. Perfect for taking “discreet” phone images.

Veggie Grill in Santana R.

Even though we were close to the kitchen and our stomachs were growling, we didn’t have to wait long. We got to sample the dessert we had already ordered. I never had an in-restaurant sample before, so that was new to me!

Sample

Within 10 minutes of sitting down, our food came to the table—fresh and pippin’ hot. Before fully digging into our own meals, we were slicing up samples for eachother, taking bites out of eachother’s burgers, and reaching over the table…it probably looked odd, but hilarious to all the other patrons!

I had come with a plan, and went with my growling gut on the decision to order a Crispy Chickin’ Plate.

Fried Chickin’, cauli-mashed potatoes, porcini mushroom gravy with fresh rosemary, steamin' kale
Fried Chickin’, cauli-mashed potatoes, porcini mushroom gravy with fresh rosemary, steamin’ kale.

What was great…

  • Breaded chickin’—enough said.
  • The gravy sauce was perfect with the chickin’.
  • It was an all-around favorite with the girls.

And not so great…

  • The kale could have been seasoned more, even though there was dressing on top.
  • I’m not a mashed potato fan, so the cauli-mashed potatoes were a bit of a bore to me.
  • Would have preferred more chickin’ over the potato or kale :P!

One of my friends ordered the Bali Bliss Burger.

“Too-Good” Tempeh, lettuce, tomato, red onion, chipotle ranch.
“Too-Good” Tempeh, lettuce, tomato, red onion, chipotle ranch.

What was great…

  • The adorably-shaped tempeh “patty”. Square beats circle when it comes to patties!
  • The cute, fluffy wheat bun.
  • Chipotle ranch….mmm!

And not so great…

  • Avocado cost extra ($1.50!!).
  • The side slaw was poorly seasoned and very mediocre.
  • The tempeh could have had more flavor.

My sister went for the Chickin’ Tacos.

Sauteed Chickin’, Mexican spices, cabbage, roasted corn salsa, white corn tortillas, with mashed avocado and tomato salad.
Sauteed Chickin’, Mexican spices, cabbage, roasted corn salsa, white corn tortillas, with mashed avocado and tomato salad.

What was great…

  • Perfect ratio of inner ingredients to tortilla.
  • The jalapeno slices on the side.
  • Watching my sister’s taco face while devouring this :P!!

And not so great…

  • Vegan cheese could have taken this to the next level
  • The tacos were a tad too small.
  • The cabbage didn’t taste bad, but the bright white color of it didn’t work well appearance-wise with the other ingredients.

My other friend feasted on the “Crab” Cake Burger.

Crispy “crab” cake, spiced tartar sauce, pickles, tomato, lettuce, red onion.
Crispy “crab” cake, spiced tartar sauce, pickles, tomato, lettuce, red onion.

What was great…

  • The sweet potato fries with their “special” seasoning.
  • Dipping said fries into spiced tartar sauce.
  • Just this burger!

And not so great…

  • Not much to say except maybe I should have asked my friend if she wanted to swap dishes with me in the middle? While everyone loved my plate the best, I was a fan of this whole plate. 

After all of that vegetarian bliss, we wrapped up lunch with the Chocolate Pudding Parfait.

Made-from-scratch pudding, topped with chocolate sauce, crushed cookies, walnuts, VG Crema.
Made-from-scratch pudding, topped with chocolate sauce, crushed cookies, walnuts, VG Crema.

What was great…

  • The cookie crumbles.
  • The presentation: perfectly centered cream, cookie crumbles on top AND at the bottom.
  • Perfect for sharing.

And not so great…

  • Served at the same time as our other meals. It would have been nice to have been served this after we finished our main meals. <—This is a minor issue though :P!
  • The pudding tasted fine, but it would have been awesome if it came in other flavors like vanilla, strawberry, or caramel.
  • Should have had more cream…or maybe we should have ordered a glass of just cream :P!

After our vegan-friendly feast, we left with full bellies and decided to walk around. After some browsing and window shopping, we found this hilarious blackboard beckoning us.

Hey Girl.

We went inside the store, Paper Source, and found some interesting, cute, and “I-wish-I-had-those” items.

These would make fun gifts.
These would make fun gifts.
Books, paper, things organized by color...my kind of store!!
Books, paper, things organized by color…my kind of store!!

One of my friends really wanted to step into Lululemon, so we did since it was close by. I know so many bloggers are practically in love with Lulu, but can someone please justify a $44 sports bra? Until then, my humble earnings are staying in the bank…

Even though Santana Row is known for its pricey and upscale shopping, that didn’t stop us from making any purchases at all. We were just very picky. My sister was on cloud nine when she found…

The Container Store

Yup, The Container Store.

I’m not lying when I say we spent a full hour here, and I’m surprised we weren’t there for even longer. I like IKEA and stores like The Container Store, but since I wasn’t on the hunt for dorm or apartment things, I wasn’t in the mood to stay there longer than 15 minutes.

Good thing I found this ergonomic $99.00 stool thing.

ergoErgo

I sat here while the girls took their time browsing the lower level.

When I collected enough energy, I made my way to the second level. Some pretty cool stuff was there:

Container Store Cool Finds

 

Where else can you find a aisle of TRASH CANS?! Like, seriously…

Trash Aisle

My favorites include these cool kitchen finds:

Kitchen KutiesAnd I love the office supplies and cool wall magnet storage tiles:

For the Office and Organization

 

We took a look at the clearance items, and I was particularly intrigued by the Kapoosh knife storage.

Kapoosh

I finally managed to push my sister to check-out, and even though she bought some things, I didn’t have to tell her to “contain herself”…

I was tempted to buy this...
I was tempted to buy this…

After leaving the store, we walked across the street to Westfield Valley Fair Mall. What’s funny is that this mall is considered to be in Santa Clara, so we literally walked from city to city :P!

The first thing we did was look for Cako, since I had a coupon for a free birthday cupcake. We found the little mall booth in the center of one of the mall walkways.

Cako

There were some sweet-looking cupcakes (and macaroons of every pastel color of the rainbow!), but I chose to keep it simple and fun with the first cupcake I saw that had colorful sprinkles.

The Back to Basics Vanilla Sprinkles Cupcake
The Back to Basics Vanilla Sprinkles Cupcake

We split the cupcake into fourths since we didn’t want to shell out $3.50 x 3 more for three more cupcakes for each of us. In the end, we made the right decision since the frosting-to-cake ratio was less than extraordinary (not much frosting compared to the amount of cake we had), and the cake was very crumbly.

After our cake break, we did some more browsing and shopping. To continue the running theme of the day, we stopped by Victoria’s Secret since I had a coupon for free underwear from their PINK brand. This happened to be a coupon that I received in the mail by coincidence, but it was a great time to redeem it since I normally don’t shop at VS.

The only time it feels good to see zeroes!
The only time it feels good to see zeroes!

My friends went slightly crazy at Forever 21 while I gave my feet a break. At around that time, I noticed an acupressure booth highlighting which parts of the foot, when applied pressure to, affect other parts of the body.

My Feet Needed This...

Hmm, I’ll have to think about this next time I do some golf ball rolling with my feet after a long run :P!

We were shopped out by 7:30pm, and it took us about two hours to get home with the traffic. I was surprised that a lot of stuff I did that day was “free”, but I was happy mainly because it was a great day out with my most favorite girls, and nothing beats a smiles-and-laughter-filled girls day out!

The Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

What are your favorite birthday freebies? Not included in this post, but I always love getting a free birthday scoop coupon from Baskin-Robbins!

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