President’s Day Weekend ’17 – Part 1

President’s Day Weekend ’17 – Part 1

The last time I saw my cousin and her wife was in the summer of 2015…just before my parents moved from Cali and before I began my second year of grad school.

I didn’t think it would be another year and a half before seeing them again, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that my sister and I had a chance to visit.

A little guide dog that boarded the train :)
A little guide dog that boarded the train ๐Ÿ™‚

I left on a Thursday afternoon just so that I could spread out my travel time. I took the evening Amtrak bus/train, and my sister picked me up at the station. My bus arrived in Bakersfield an HOUR early, so waiting to board the train ended up being an uncontrollable waste of time. I did eventually get on and get to Fresno around 8:30pm. My sister and I immediately went to Sprouts to get snacks, chill, and got to sleep around midnight.

The next day, I woke up to go for a run, despite the intermittent showers. I ended up running a little under six miles, while my sister finished up her morning class. From there, we left for a late breakfast at her now all-time favorite brunch place Benediction. Seeing as it was my third time visiting the location, I didn’t think about taking pictures of my food. I left my phone in the car, and fully enjoyed some piping hot coffee, potatoes (still have a craving for the starchy goodness ever since my visit to JFAT), and my sister’s company.

From there, we left for Walnut Creek. It ended up being just about 3 hours of a drive and my sister was a trooper, driving through some horrid rain spots as we got closer to the bay. I offered to take over towards the end but she had it under control. We did have some bladder-related tasks to take care of, so when we finally got to my cousin’s apartment, we fled upstairs with the luggage still in our car. The first question we asked was “where is your bathroom?!”

Once we were settled in, we chatted for an hour our two while snacking on a slice of coffee-spiced cheese, apple slices, and oranges. I forgot how good the apple/cheese combo is!

We originally had plans to eat in for dinner, but then my cousin’s wife offered to pay for dinner since she got a bonus and wanted to treat all of us.

Welcome to Babalou's!
Welcome to Babalou’s!
Overview
Overview

Because of her sweet offer, we dined at Babalou’s for some fresh Mediterranean food.

Menu
Menu
Fun artwork!
Fun artwork!

I had the veggie plate, which came with two falafel, two dolmas (grape leaf rolls), a lentil salad, babaganoush, hummus, and tahini.

Veggie Plate
Veggie Plate

There was also of course some pita bread on the side to mop up any excess condiments.

Baba & Hummus
Baba & Hummus

After dinner, we made our way to the nearby theater to watch Lion. It was incredibly packed, more so than when I saw a movie out in LA on a Friday night.

Friday night at the movies!
Friday night at the movies!

All of us pretty much teared up or held our tears back by the time the movie was through. It was such a good story and the meaning of the title makes so much sense at the end.

We got home around 10:00 but we were all pretty tired to stay up and do anything. Dinner and a movie was all we could handle for the day!

Babalou's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Red, White, and Chew

Red, White, and Chew

My sis and I woke up bright and early on Sunday morning, with the goal of getting things wrapped up in lab and then heading off to Santa Monica for brunch.

I am honestly so grateful for the Expo line expansion…what would have originally been almost an hour and a half trip to the ever-popular Santa Monica now only takes 30-40 minutes!

chomp_eatery
Chomp Eatery

One of the stops is a convenient seven minute walk to Chomp Eatery and DK’s Donuts. One day when I have cash on hand, I will be back for some of their mouth-watering donuts, but my sis and I headed right next door to Chomp Eatery: a place we knew that takes credit cards and serves up an irresistible novelty.

The Unicorn Melt was something I came across on Instagram. It’s basically a grilled cheese with a rainbow theme, in that the cheese is colored with organic food coloring and melted so that a rainbow oozes out when the slices are pulled apart. Sound appetizing yet?

Since my sis and I decided to split the Unicorn Melt, we each got our own meals as well. I of course got one of the wellness bowls.

gojiberriesbowl
Of course I go straight to the bowls part of the menu…

The bowl I chose to go with was none other than the Goji Berries Banana Bowl, which had a plain greek yogurt base, and heavily topped with granola, cacao nibs, goji berries, banana , and agave syrup.

gojiberries_banana_bowl
Looks like a small bowl but there was tons of yogurt and a mountain of granola!!

My sister got one of the burger with a veggie patty, and it was an overflowing tower of rich, nutrient-packed veggies and creamy add-in like avocado and a fried egg.

burger_and_melt
Burgers + melts

My sister, a self-proclaimed carb-lover thought her burger + melt may have been too much at one time, but she enjoyed her burger. We both agreed that the melt wasn’t outstanding in taste, but as far as presentation and creativity goes…how could it be anything less than 110%? Not to mention, it was a pretty festive and fitting rainbow on the inside.

unicornmelt___
A red, white, and blue cheese melt!!

After devouring our sandwiches and chewing every last goji berry, we walked towards downtown Santa Monica, stopped inside Cotton On, and then boarded the train from the new downtown station in order to get to Union Station on time.

After dropping off my sister later that afternoon, I felt extremely exhausted and could not wait to go to bed—early! Haha. Needless to say, 4th of July was very low key. No fireworks, no veggie dogs…just plenty of lab work in the morning as usual, and then relaxing at home. At least I did sort of celebrate with a patriotic grilled cheese!

Chomp Eatery & Juice Station Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seattle Adventures – Part 4

Seattle Adventures – Part 4

Our last full day in Seattle began with yet another bus ride to Ravenna, where we were the previous day drinking tea. This time though, we had brunch at a hipster cafe, and one of my favorite places we ate during the whole trip: Wayward Cafe!

Wayward Cafe
Wayward Cafe

The clientele, employees, and restaurant space all had a hipster vibe going on, so obviously my sis, friend, and I felt out of place but this did not chase us from getting our share of comforting vegan food!

Countertop eating
Countertop eating

We sat at the counter, so in a way, we were somewhat secluded from the rest of the diners. It didn’t matter though, because we were all quite hungry and didn’t mind so much that the view in front of us was a mix of kitchen gear and foggy windows showcasing a highway.

Coffee :)
Coffee ๐Ÿ™‚

We each started off with coffee/tea, and you know I took those extra stevia packets for the road ๐Ÿ˜‰

Country Bumpkin!
Country Bumpkin!

For my dish, I was all for the Country Bumpkin. I finally got my biscuits and gravy craving taken care of on this trip!

Friend's dishes
Friend’s dishes

My sis got the Dixie Fried with a circular scone look-alike biscuit, and my friend got a gorgeous enchilada (I think) type dish smothered in sauce and aligned next to seasoned cubed potatoes.

Our grand-in-flavor brunch was also easy on the wallet, and we were able to catch a bus to downtown feeling renewed. On the way there, we rode alongside not one, but TWO adorable animals! The first was a cat “with an eating disorder” headed to the vet. He was a golden, obese tabby who had the most precious meow. The next was this adorable groomed pomeranian who obediently sat on his/her owner’s lap all the way to downtown! I have yet to see an animal board a bus here in LA so I was probably a little too excited upon observing these animals boarding the bus, haha!

LOOK AT THAT ADORABLE POM OHHHH!
LOOK AT THAT ADORABLE POM OHHHH!

Once we were in downtown (yet again), we actually took the time to go inside Pike’s Place Market (just like many other tourists), walk around, get bored, and then walked further down, ending up at the gum wall!

The infamous gum wall!
The infamous gum wall!

After taking a couple pictures with the wall in the background, doing our best to not LEAN against the wall, we walked back towards our starting point, and then made our way towards the movies to watch the latest Alice movie, since we couldn’t watch it the day before due to my sister not feeling well, and my friend was dying to see it. I never was a fan of the Disney Alice movies (I guess I liked the animated one?), so I found myself getting restless at some parts, but I was glad that watching the movie made my friend happy ๐Ÿ™‚

After the movies, we obviously had dinner ๐Ÿ˜› . And how could we pass by a Veggie Grill and not go in?

Veggie Grill, Downtown Seattle
Veggie Grill, Downtown Seattle

We all ended up ordering hearty meals like burgers, mac and cheese, and even shared my sis’s favorite chocolate pudding from when she tried it the first time we visited a VG.

Friends eat right.
Friends eat right.
Oh man, that pudding.
Oh man, that pudding.

I got the Buffalo Bomber, oozing with spicy BBQ sauce and a side of coleslaw.

How did I not have this before?
How did I not have this before?

Having warm meals in a restaurant with an orange hue made us feel so cozy with the weather starting to get cold and rainy outside.

Even though it looks the same, this VG seemed cozier than the others.
Even though it looks the same, this VG seemed cozier than the others.

After dinner, we just wanted to get back to the Airbnb and relax for our last night in Seattle. I actually ended up staying up until midnight, which is something I rarely do, but I had the energy to do so, and I wanted to really enjoy the time I had with my sister and friend because those chances are so few nowadays.

After a long night’s rest, I woke up the next morning, and got everything packed. After getting my sis and friend to do the same, we headed out to the Fremont District for one last adventure before flying out of the glorious PNW.

Welcome to Theo's Chocolates!
Welcome to Theo’s Chocolates!

Our destination was a chocolate tour at Theo’s Chocolates!

Welcome to Theo's Chocolates!
Welcome to Theo’s Chocolates!

The cost of the tour was only $10, but there were samples galore and learning about the process of making fair-trade and organic chocolate was quite interesting.

Theo Chocolates Factory Tour - waiting room
Theo Chocolates Factory Tour – waiting room

After putting on hairnets, we were guided into a small green room with benches where our guide explained to us the story of how the cacao plant becomes what we know as chocolate.

Theo Chocolates Factory Tour - lecturin'
Theo Chocolates Factory Tour – lecturin’

During her talk, she passes around samples, and I fell in love with a flavor speckled with raspberry.

Hello, raspberry.
Hello, raspberry.

After the short lecture, we were taken inside the factory, where we saw the vats and got to sample some cacao nibs: the mild and bitter ones! My sis and friend ended up buying a bag of the mild cacao nibs from the gift shop after the tour.

Inside the factory
Inside the factory

Once we made a rotation through the actual factory, we were lead into the kitchen, a.k.a. the best room on the tour. In this room, we were given the opportunity to sample truffles, limited edition chocolate flavors, and other intriguing sweet (and savory!) chocolate items. And immediately after that, we were given coupons and directed straight into the gift shop…where there were even MORE samples.

Theo Chocolates Factory Tour - store!
Theo Chocolates Factory Tour – store!

I literally made laps around the store sampling all the chocolate, even finding myself at one point just pacing near the main wall where the samples for the original chocolate flavors were. When my friend and sis were done picking out their cacao nibs and truffles, I even took some store samples for the road! I guess I didn’t completely overdose on sugar, because I still had some room in me for a small lunch! Flying Apron was just along the way, so we decided to sit down there and munch on something savory.

Flying Apron
Flying Apron

I was able to hit it right with my order of red lentil soup with a slice of their bread of the day (which I believe was multigrain).

They have shirts?
They have shirts?

My friend and sis however, weren’t so lucky. They shared three dishes among the two of them, a pesto salad, mac and cheez (with lots of spinach apparently), and a BBQ tofu pocket, all of which were doughy, and lacked flavor to the point where it tasted completely bland. I had to taste them myself just to believe it, and my sis and friend were absolutely right.

Flying Apron - the good, bad, and ugly
Flying Apron – the good, bad, and ugly

If I wasn’t sweetened out by all the chocolate I had earlier, maybe I could have tried a sweet baked good and could have given the chance for Flying Apron to redeem itself. Oh well, I was happy with my humble bowl of soup.

Maybe it would have been different with the sweets...
Maybe it would have been different with the sweets…

We spent another hour strolling around the Fremont district, and then took the bus back to our Airbnb in order to get our luggage and call for an Uber. My sis and friend were sharing a second suitcase filled with books from their Amazon Books adventure, so it was necessary.

It was hard to bid goodbye to them at the airport, since I was flying back separately to LA and the both of them were flying back to Nor Cal together.

Bye, Seattle. It's been fun :)
Bye, Seattle. It’s been fun ๐Ÿ™‚

Overall, I was so happy that the trip happened at the time that it did. Right now I’m already wrapped up again in my work but prior to my vacation, I was running on fumes and felt so burnt out from my work! There’s no doubt that I’ll probably need another week off (at least) by August rolls around, but until then, I think I feel refreshed enough to continue being my normal busy self. The fact that summer is just beginning kind of helps too ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have you been on a food factory tour before?

Wayward Vegan Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seattle Adventures – Part 3

Seattle Adventures – Part 3

Our second full day in Seattle was a busy, fulfilling, and even almost scary!

My friend is a huge Alice in Wonderland/Victorian period fan, and so when we were figuring out what we all wanted to do in Seattle, her day included all things tea and Alice.

So that morning, we got into our “fancier” clothes and took the bus out again to the University District area. It was a cloudy day outside and seemed like it would rain any minute.

We had reservations for 11am high tea at Queen Mary’s Tea Room, and we had twenty minutes to walk to the tea room from the bus stop where we got off. We were making a mad dash, but made in time for our reservation. At first we mistook the tea room’s emporium as our destination, but right across the street was the actual tea room.

tea__room
The arrows were in a bush…of course we’d look there *rolls eyes*

Inside, there were trinkets and tea EVERYWHERE. Not a space on the wall nor a bare floorboard could be seen. After checking in, we were seated at a table close to the window amongst teddy bears, a stuffed plush corgi, and a giant rabbit. Our hostess came by with a tea menu and asked us what we were celebrating. When we didn’t have an answer for her, she still asked us if wanted to wear tiaras! How could we decline ๐Ÿ™‚ ?

QMtea__room
So much cute stuff ah!

I didn’t participate in high tea, but in order to have tea, I had to have a “food purchase”, so I got a large green tea macaroon with my pot of french vanilla tea.

frenchvanillatea
Our table // french vanilla tea

My sis and friend went ahead with the high tea, and were given sorbets to start off with to cleanse the palate. Then, the creams came, along with the long awaited tower tray of sweets and savories.

tea__room__macc
Sorbet // cream // macaroon

By the time the tray came out, I was already finished with my creamy macaroon. My sis and friend took their sweet time getting through the tower, took a bathroom break in between, and even then couldn’t finished! I helped out by eating some of the fruit, and one of the cucumber sandwiches since it wasn’t so appealing to my friend.

tea
Top tray: scones and biscuits, middle: fruit and pea soup (?), bottom: cucumber sandwiches ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

After a filling and satisfying tea, we walked back to the bus stop, but not before checking out the tea emporium. There were so many cute items from teaspoons to shiny tea pots, but the fact that they were breakable and expensive was not a good mix for having to pack them up and bring them back to another state in one piece.

Instead, we passed on purchasing these items and headed back to downtown. I had a meet-up planned with Brittany in the afternoon, and the girls planned to hang out in the area at a cafe.

kindapretty
Downtown Seattle

Brittany was so thoughtful to bring her car (on board a ferry!) so we could easily drive over to lunch. She gave me a tour along the way, and once we were in Capitol Hill, we parked by a nearby cathedral and walked more into the district.

We had a late lunch at Plum Bistro, a fancy-looking vegan restaurant that had a special happy hour menu.

menu
I decided to get the Reuben & Chips because I just can’t get enough of carbs ๐Ÿ˜‰

I was hoping to order one of the Jamaican-inspired dishes that was featured on their menu online, but during the hour of our visit, only the happy hour menu was available.

plumbistro
One side reminded me of a boat deck and the other a bohemian-themed room.

Still, Brittany and I had a fun conversation while I munched on my Reuben and Chips and she, some colorful tacos and purple taquitos.

whatbrittanygotlol
Hi Brittany’s food!!

My dish was pretty filling, since underneath the rye bread were seitan strip steaks and bright purple sauerkraut-like cabbage. I didn’t even finish my fries, but I’m pretty sure my stores were refueled enough.

reuben and chips
There was so much cabbage underneath, don’t be fooled!

After our late lunch, we walked around for a bit, including through a park and then in the direction of the Starbucks Roastery. We went inside, and Brittany gave me a quick tour around the first floor. She compared it to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and I couldn’t agree more. Everything was so golden and warm…even a $1,000 bike positioned near the entrance ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Brittany dropped me off back in downtown so I could meet up with my sis and friend once again, but to my surprise, I didn’t find the girls at our planned meeting spot. After sending a nervous text, I found out that my sis was feeling nauseous and that she and my friend were closer to a restaurant close to the movie theater a couple blocks away, since we were planning on seeing the new Alice movie that night.

My sister didn’t actually throw up, but she felt extremely off that evening and we couldn’t figure out why. We decided to call it a day and were able to trade in our movie tickets for a Friday afternoon show. My sis felt better once we walked outside towards the bus stop to take us back to our Airbnb, but she still wanted to rest up so that she could be at her best for our last full day of the trip.

Thankfully she felt better the next morning, and we were able to continue the adventures without interruption ๐Ÿ™‚

Plum Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seattle Adventures – Part 2

Seattle Adventures – Part 2

After filling up at SHN for brunch, we popped into a bookstore that was in the Fremont District before heading out and onwards. My sis and friend found some books, but didn’t go too crazy since they didn’t have too much room in their bags ๐Ÿ˜‰

Since we had to pass Troll Ave., we got to take a look at the troll statue under the highway! We didn’t get too up close and personal, but we could see the eerie details from far away. He definitely did not look like this familiar face…

“I’m the grumpy ol’ troll, who lives under the bridge!”

More like this…

Bookstore // Fremont Troll
Bookstore // Fremont Troll

We then stopped at a QFC to refill our Orca cards, grab some water, and use the restroom before walking further north to Green Lake.

So blue and pretty
So blue and pretty

My sis and friends are certainly not the walking type. So when I said it was only “a 1-2 mile walk to the lake” from the QFC, they weren’t exactly excited since we already had to walk from the Fremont District to QFC. I was so relieved when we did make it to the lake though, and that we didn’t take a wrong turn along the way. I would have faced an unbearable wrath if things had happened differently, that’s for sure ๐Ÿ˜‰

duckssss
Ducky duck ducks.

I do think that watching ducks take group naps and feast on seeds soaked in peanut butter being tossed out by a local made the walk much more worthwhile.

Once we had our share of nature, we took a bus westward towards University of Washington. We ended up getting off farther out than we expected, since the bus got super crowded at one point, and the three of us got separated from each other on the bus.

When we were able to reconvene at a new bus stop, we re-navigated ourselves and eventually ended up at University Village where we wanted to be.

We…well, I…was in need of a coffee, so the first thing we did was stop at a Starbucks Reserve within the shopping complex.

Recharge & refuel!
Recharge & refuel!

While our phones recharged, I recharged with a cinnamon dolce latte with a (surprising) topping of whipped cream (the baristas seem to be really artistic here, haha). My friend got a frapp, and my sis an iced tea. We also ended up sharing stuffed Bantam Bagels…so warm, chewy, creamy, and messy!

Oozy bagel!
Oozy bagel!

After our afternoon coffee/tea/snack, we walked around for a bit until we found ourselves right in front of Amazon Books. I knew from that point on, I had lost my sis and friend…they were eager to pounce on in and when I told them I was leaving them to find another store that was on my radar, they were already steps into the store with baskets in their hand ready to tackle all the books they could!

This gave me plenty of time to find Oiselle, a women’s running apparel store based in Seattle. I had read about the brand in Runner’s World and how they sponsor elite women runners. Since I was in the area, I thought it would be a fun idea to pop in and see what they had to offer.

wazel
Oiselle in University Village

The store itself was small in size, but they had all different sizes of shorts, running tanks to longsleeves, and a small clearance rack in the back. I took a couple things to try on, and found a pair of running shorts that I deemed as a worthy investment. Anything that works as an incentive to keep running, right?

oisellefitting
Cute fitting room!

I returned to Amazon Books, and spent another half an hour within the store waiting for the girls to finish up. Once they were all good and ready, I announced that dinner—Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzaeia—would be a good walk away, but they weren’t too bummed by that since they were both in their happy place.

The walk did pose a challenge though. We had to climb three flights of stairs through what seemed like the woods over the course of the walk! My sister’s bag tore, and I gave her my oversized brown bag which held my shorts.

At least all of this trekking was worth it when we came upon graffiti pizza.

veganpizzapi
Vegan Pizza Pi

Before ordering at the counter, we took the menu to a table and pondered over the options.

yahthemenu
Menu

After much debate (it is vegan pizza after all), we decided to go with a large pizza, half “Aloha” and half “Buffalo Chicken”. The employees seemed to be super accommodating and were able to fulfill our half pizza request!

pizzainterior
Inside

Once the pizza arrived, I helped myself to an Aloha slice since that’s what I wanted. My sis and friend each took a Buffalo Chicken slice, and when I helped myself to a slice after finding my first slice of Aloha disappointing, I new that my choice could have been better.

pizzzzzza
1/2 Aloha, 1/2 Buffalo Chicken

The Aloha, which was pineapple, tofurky slices, tomatoes, and mushrooms on top of red sauce, ended up being a subpar combination. I thought the tofurky would actually be cubed in form to represent Canadian bacon, but that was not the case.

pizza
Slice Slice Slicin’!!!

The Buffalo Chicken had a kick of spice, a tangy ranch-like sauce, and seasoned soy chicken and celery bits. Overall this was obviously the winner.

But for ~$9 per person, and the option to have a large pizza split into two combinations, it was a great deal!

After pizza, we were more than ready to get back since it was starting to get colder. Even though we were having issues with our Airbnb (inconsistent wifi, no TV, no mirrors…), we did have a pretty fantastic view that added to the comfort vibe.

View from our Airbnb
View from our Airbnb

What are your favorite toppings and sauces for pizza?

Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzaeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seattle Adventures – Part I

Seattle Adventures – Part I

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I returned from Seattle! The trip was a blast…and man do I have so many photos! It’s going to be exhausting writing up posts, but I guess it’ll give me some consistent content for the blog while I think of some other “creative” things, haha.

I flew from LA into Seattle early in the morning on the Tuesday before Memorial Day Weekend. My sis and friend were arriving four hours after I landed, so I set up a standing work station where I worked and snacked on vegetarian sushi until their arrival.

Once my girls arrived, we figured out how to work the public transit, and got ourselves some Orca passes (the transit card used for the Metro system there).

It took us about an hour and a half to get to our Airbnb, and after dropping off our things, we caught a bus headed towards downtown to walk around Pike St. for a bit.

Pike's Place!
Pike’s Place!

We were all getting to the point of hanger since it was past six and pushing 7pm. Our original destination was El Borracho on 1st and Pike, since they had some tasty-sounding vegan nachos, but we were “kicked out” because my sis was underage, and they apparently don’t serve minors—not even food (!!!)—after 6pm. Um…okay, we’ll take our $$$ somewhere else??

The phrase that is on repeat through the minds of three hangry girls roam around Pike's Place...
The phrase that is on repeat through the minds of three hangry girls roaming around Pike’s Place…

A lot of the places were already closed surprisingly, but we did find Virginia Inn too be open, and while they were far from being a vegan-friendly restaurant, they did have some vegetarian options and it seemed to be something all three of us hangry girls could agree on.

They did have this though...lentils?!
They did have this though…lentils?!

The inside of the restaurant reminded me of a bar from the 1980s…like straight out of Cheers or something, haha.

virginia_INN
West Coast Cheers set?

My friend got a beer while my sis and I had waters (she is of age, haha). With her order of salmon, she got a plate of fries that came with ketchup and a flavor-less white sauce…as well as a side of complimentary bread because, carbs. My sis was able to get a vegetarian sandwich that they normally only serve at lunch.

food
Friend’s fries, sis’s sammie, and extra buuurrrrreaaaddd.

My dish was the curried lentils, which I did take a photo of, but must have accidentally deleted through the transfer and uploading of things! It wasn’t anything spectacular though, as it was sooooo small and definitely not worth the $16 price ๐Ÿ™ . Obviously this meant I needed to pick off my friend’s fry plate for added nourishment ๐Ÿ˜‰

But I did take a picture of the back of their coaster because it was an odd thing...
But I did take a picture of the back of their coaster because it was an odd thing…

After dinner, we had enough in our replenished stores to walk around Pike’s Market (literally, we didn’t go inside until later in the trip).

Walking around Public Market.
Walking around Public Market.

We took the bus back and rested at our Airbnb for the remainder of the evening. I brought my running things just in case I’d feel like running Seattle in the mornings, but I ended up taking those days I was on vacation “off”. And man did it feel good to sleep in!!

The next morning, we took our time getting ready, and headed into Fremont District for some brunch at Silence-Heart-Nest.

SHN
The chick paintings reminded me of marshmallow Peeps.

I read beforehand they had a delicious-sounding sweet potato biscuits with mushroom gravy…and that the owners are part of a cult (??). Maybe that’s just a local rumor ๐Ÿ˜›

SHN_2
Outside of SHN // Menu

Unfortunately, they only serve the sweet potato biscuit dish on weekends, so I had to get something else. I was initially thinking I’d get an eggs benedict dish as my back-up, but the vegan tofu scramble seemed to catch my eyes on the menu.

They truly caught my attention once they landed at the table.

tofuscramble!
Vegan Tofu Scramble

My sis and friend both got egg dishes that were absolutely drool-inducing. And my friend being the total random that she is, got a side of fruit that my sis and I ended up eating ๐Ÿ˜›

ohwowzathoseeggggggs
Eggs, potaaytoooes, and strawbs (friend’s dish)

After brunch, we continued our Seattle adventures from the evening before onwards toward Green Lake! More on that in the next post ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you ever visited Seattle?

Silence-Heart-Nest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Keeping Warm in the Snow

Keeping Warm in the Snow

My final few days left in Tulsa were spent staying close to home, mostly due to the weather, but also due to the fact that I probably wouldn’t see my family for quite some time. On Sunday, the rain got so bad, that we ended up having dinner in. My dad made chapatis and all the side fixings.

sunday_dinner
Plate 1 of home-cooked family dinner

After dinner, we ended up watching a movie that ended up being super boring by the middle, but we were to invested to quit watching. We made it through the end, and promptly went to bed!

On Monday, we woke up to find some fluffy white stuff everywhere…

monday_snow
What is this white fluffy stuff? Snow you say?

The last time I saw snow was in Chicago, so it definitely has been a while for this Cali girl ๐Ÿ˜‰

For my last meal with the fam before leaving for the airport, we chose to go to Ri-Le, a Vietnamese restaurant with vegetarian and vegan options.

Ri-Le___Restaurant
Ri-Le Restaurant

The menu was abundant with choices, but my Dad insisted we have their vegan soup special as an appetizer. My sis picked the sweet and sour dish, and I picked the soy ginger chicken, for all of us to share.

ri-le_2
Menu and interior.

The absolute star was our appetizer soup though. So warm and flavorful…basically the perfect bowl to combat the cold, frosty weather outside.

ri-le__3
A warm bowl of pho for all of us to share!!

When our entrees came, I helped myself to many plates.

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Servings from lunch.

The sweet and sour dish was served with sauced veggies and fried soy balls of some sort. I wasn’t a fan, so I let my sis finish off that one :P. I did enjoy my pick though ๐Ÿ™‚

ri-le_1
Sweet n Sour + Ginger

The best part of the meal was getting fortune cookies afterwards (even though they aren’t Vietnamese, let alone Chinese!)

fortune
Hmm…pretty accurate after all?

My fortune ended up being accurate since my second flight from Phoenix to LA that night was delayed by almost an hour!!

At least it gave me plenty of time to enjoy this $13 airport pizza?

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Margherita pizza at the airport.

I ended up getting home at 11pm California time, and had just enough energy to put this jar of edible cookie dough away in the fridge (my Dad knew how much I was enjoying this during my trip, so he encouraged me to grab one to take home since they’re hard to find ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

cookie_dough__pb
Peanut Butter edible cookie dough ๐Ÿ™‚

I felt sad about the fact that my time with family was kept to one week only, but since I had plenty to do in lab the following week and a time-sensitive experiment to fulfill, I had to cut my “vacation” short. Funny thing was, I was literally the only person working since this week was “officially” break for everyone else. It wasn’t too big of a deal though… after all, I had me, myself, my experiments, and this PB cookie dough to keep me busy ๐Ÿ˜‰

Balboa & Burgers

Balboa & Burgers

My sister and I took our time getting ready on Sunday morning. We had such a good night’s rest (at least I did…), and so we didn’t feel rushed when it came time to leave. We stopped by the breakfast buffet to see if there was anything good, but the crowds and the mess already created was a turn-off, so we decided to just leave and save our appetites for lunch. 

Our first stop that morning was Balboa Park, and we found a place to park at the Veteran’s Memorial Museum. From there, we walked north to where a cluster of other museums were, and took in the beautiful building sights before checking out one of the history museums. 

 Lovely architecture.
Lovely architecture.

We were intrigued by the Dr. Seuss exhibit at the museum. Apparently San Diego was his home for many years, and the exhibit displayed works that differed from his kid’s author/illustrator reputation. It was interesting, to say the least!

 Dr. Seuss exhibit.
Dr. Seuss exhibit.

The walrus in the above picture was a part of a taxidermy piece! Taxidermy of Dr. Seuss-esque characters, that is!

After about an hour in the museum, we walked back to where we parked, but not before taking a pit stop near some worldly murals.

 We also spotted a shady-looking shack and a lost moccasin?
We also spotted a shady-looking shack and a lost moccasin?

Once in the car, we only had to drive a short while to get to lunch at Evolution Fast Food.

 The small shack of Evolution Fast Food---all-vegan!
The small shack of Evolution Fast Food—all-vegan!

The eatery itself was quite small, and parking, while available, was a tight squeeze! There was a small room with a counter/kitchen in the back, and a large board menu hung from the ceiling.

 To-go items, daily specials, and desserts!
To-go items, daily specials, and desserts!

I was incredibly thirsty, so after placing my order, I requested a small cup of water. I was also given ice, and had to document these ice cubes since I had never seen anything like it before!

 That ice looks pretty interesting, amiright?
That ice looks pretty interesting, amiright?

Even though the ordering area was in a tight space, there was ample seating in the patio area.

 The nice and quiet patio area.
The nice and quiet patio area.

Since I found a table for us, my sister stayed back and eventually came with two brown bags containing our orders. She got the fish filet sandwich with a chocolate shake in the side.

 Fish filet sandwich - crispy battered fish with tartar sauce, shredded cabbage, tomato
Fish filet sandwich – crispy battered fish with tartar sauce, shredded cabbage, tomato

I got the chimichurri “carne” sandwich, which was full on flavor and zero on meat.

 Chimichurri carne sandwich - argentine marinated "steak" strips, lettuce, tomato, onion
Chimichurri carne sandwich – argentine marinated “steak” strips, lettuce, tomato, onion

The strips were marinated in spices and packed with flavor, but one of the buns was lathered with a spicy pesto sauce that only added to that flavor!

 So green, and so flavorful!
So green, and so flavorful!

It was just enough food to get us through the afternoon and drive home to LA. We did plan one more food-related stop before truly heading home though…

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The Beach Day We Wanted

The Beach Day We Wanted

A little power nap was all we needed, but my sis and I ended up taking a long 45 minute afternoon nap when we checked in to our hotel room for the night in San Diego.

 Rest!
Rest!

But when we woke up around 3, it was still bright and gorgeous outside! We still had time for a beach adventure ๐Ÿ™‚

 Hello, downtown San Diego!
Hello, downtown San Diego!

We had trouble getting out of the parking garage (a Zipcar Honda vs. a bunch of SUVs/Hummers/Trucks is not exactly an easy battle to win…), but fortunately we made it out without a scratch.

Our destination was Coronado Beach—which also took a while to get to due to traffic, ending up at the wrong side of the beach due to GPS issues, and having to park in a far off residential area once we found the beach. But, when we found it, it was about relaxation!

 To the beach!
To the beach!

Once at the beach, my sis and I laid out our towels and proceeded to sun bathe for the next hour and a half…only because our 45 minute nap wasn’t enough ๐Ÿ˜‰

 Time to relax...
Time to relax…

It was so peaceful though. Sure, there were crowds, but it was a beautiful California summer day, and we were finally able to say we were experiencing a real beach day.

Before heading back for dinner, we took pictures by the water and took our time getting to the car. The crowds had died down by then, and there was no traffic on our drive back to the hotel.

Before leaving for our weekend trip, I learned that Cafe Gratitude had opened a new location in San Diego—and it coincidentally happened to be in Little Italy, within walking distance from our hotel! Obviously this was our prime choice for dinner ๐Ÿ™‚

 Sunny skies and lofts in SD.
Sunny skies and lofts in SD.

Our stroll through downtown was a fun preamble to dinner, but when we saw the swanky CG location, we were more than ready to eat!

 My third time visiting Cafe Gratitude :)
My third time visiting Cafe Gratitude ๐Ÿ™‚

Since it was brand new, I wasn’t surprised by all the eager, vegan-loving San Diegans that were present that night.

 Soooo busy.
Soooo busy.

Because it was so busy, we almost had to sit outside, even though I had called in beforehand to make a reservation.

 Kind of cozy actually...
Kind of cozy actually…

The set-up reminded me of both their Venice and Larchmont locations, so I felt like I was in familiar territory. I was excited for my sister to experience CG for herself!

After staring long and hard at the menu, we both ended up deciding against a sandwich-based entree since we had our fill of that earlier in the day, and so we both ended up ordering the exact same thing. We both got the ‘Resolved’ entree, described as being a southern soul food sampler containing red beans and quinoa, seared tempeh, smashed maple garnet yams, spiced collards, coleslaw, and a gluten-free jalapeno biscuit.

Oh, and we couldn’t forget adding BBQ sauce on the side…even if it cost $2 (!!) extra.

It took almost half an hour, but at least our plates came full and ready for us to dig in.

 Vegan southern food platter.
Vegan southern food platter.

My favorite parts of this plate were the sweet mashed yams, the tempeh when dipped into the BBQ sauce, and the jalapeno biscuit (when dipped into the BBQ sauce as well). My sis didn’t like the yams so much, but was a fan of the coleslaw.

 Top: jalapeno biscuit (gluten-free!) // bite of tempeh // a bed of quinoa
Top: jalapeno biscuit (gluten-free!) // bite of tempeh // a bed of quinoa

It was a meal that we both agreed as being satisfying and sleep-inducing. I’ll admit it now—we are grandmas, but at least we eat well ๐Ÿ˜‰

When we got back to the hotel, we quickly changed into our jammies and watched TV until our eyes started to droop. It was certainly a summer Saturday well spent.

What do you like to do at the beach?

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The First Couple of Days

The First Couple of Days

For the first couple of days, we stayed at my aunt and uncle’s place, with our daily routine being something like this:

  • waking up between 6-7am, having coffee
  • going for a morning walk with uncle and dad
  • stopping by fruit & veg produce store
  • eating said produce after cleaning and chopping —> my favs were alphonso mango and sapotas ๐Ÿ™‚
  • brunch prepared by aunt around 10-11am
  • leaving for a relative’s house around 12pm —> when the day’s unique events actually began…

โ™ฅ

The morning view

My mornings began when I woke up anytime between 6-7am, with bright sunlight and the noise of the city greeting me through the windows. After some coffee and bidding good morning, I’d read the local newspapers and then get ready to go for a walk with my uncle and dad.

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view from cot // downstairs entrance to flat complex // looking down from 3rd floor

My surroundings

On these morning walks, we’d often have to stay close since traffic is insane, the roads are pretty dusty as well, and sweat is inevitable. But on the walks we were able to leave early enough in the morning for, we were able to cross quiet roads. During those times, I would take in my surroundings with great care. It was a sensory overload for sure…

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buying Indian sweets n snacks at a local shop // litter // sign with English misspellings

Daytime transport

After brunch courtesy of my aunt, we’d get set and go to our day’s destination via an auto. Autos are these speedy, three-wheeled vehicles that hold ~4 [lean] peopleย ย + the driver. Even though it was burning hot outside, there was no need for an A/C since there was a nice breeze cooling us off once we zoomed across the roads.

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views from inside the auto—motorcycle gang, haha.

In the evening

In the first couple of days of our visit, we retreated back to my aunt and uncle’s place after a day’s visit with some relative. Driving at night can be manic, but observing the outside environment is a nice way to pass the time.

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So much traffic and noise, but hey…it’s a city.

Unwinding for the dayย 

After the day’s events, I would find my aunt having started preparations for dinnerย and myย uncle watching a TV serial. Chopping up vegetables was my job one day,ย while snacking on fresh jackfruit was my “unofficial” job. After dinner, we’d all assemble in the living room and just relax! Then around 10pm, we’d all retire to our rooms and get some shut-eye.

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watching TV// cooking in the kitchen // greens, mango pieces, and jackfruit

This was the order of events for the first couple days, and even though at times it felt like the days were going at a snail’s pace, I did appreciate how relaxing the routine was.

Do you find it easy to adapt to a routine while vacationing?

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