Running Break

Running Break

Last weekend, I was feeling a little anxious and glum about having to hold off on running for a week or two due to shin splints. I was trying to figure out what I could do for cross-training, and also realized that some strength training would have to be squeezed in too, even though I haven’t done any focused weight training in months

I contemplated all of this over lunch this past Saturday at Grilliant. I had to stop in lab earlier that day, and by the time I was done, I didn’t feel like venturing out too far just for lunch. #DecemberFeels

Grilliant, Culver City
Grilliant, Culver City

I had been wanting to check out Grilliant for a while now though. I mean, it boasted Mediterranean cuisine as the theme of its menu, so how could I resist?

Portabello Wrap with Eggplant Mirza
Portabello Wrap with Eggplant Mirza

I wound up getting a portabello (veggie) flatbread wrap with some eggplant mirza on the side (it was the closest thing to babaganoush, so that’s why I went for it). An unexpected serving of tzatziki and a sweet & lemony tomato sauce side came along with it. 

Up close!
Up close!

I thought the portabello pieces were slightly overcooked, but everything together made for a well-balanced and nourishing meal. 

I also stopped at Sprouts before heading home, and picked up a seasonal almond butter flavor that was much cheaper than the chocolate peanut butter I usually get, haha!

Sprouts Gingerbread Spice Almond Butter
Sprouts Gingerbread Spice Almond Butter

It definitely had a spicy kick to it, but the oil-to-almond butter ratio was pretty proportionate. It was only when I got to the bottom 0.5 inch of the jar did it start to get grainy.

On Tuesday, I woke up early enough to set aside ~2 hours to go on a 6 mile walk for active recovery. Since I’m always complaining about how Abbot Kinney is so hard to get to via public transit, I designed my walking route to include a stop at Blue Bottle Coffee at my turn-around point.

Blue Bottle Coffee
Blue Bottle Coffee

Upon entering, I could definitely sense the pretentious coffee shop vibe. The baristas were nice and helped me to pick out what they thought was a good hot coffee blend, but I felt slightly out of place even though I was wearing my stretchy Nike running capris like most athletic wear, clothing-wearing Los Angelenos, haha.

Walking back.
Walking back.

I got the “Three Africas” coffee as per their recommendation, which was described as a blend of “the radiant fruit of two coffees from Ethiopia, one washed and one natural, with the balance and authority of a washed coffee from Uganda“. I wasn’t a fan though…even after adding some cream and brown sugar, the lemon zest was slightly off-putting.

At least I had a crispy, double chocolate cookie with a hint of ginger as a back-up treat?

Yum, breakfast cookie!
Yum, breakfast cookie!

The walk was earlier in the week, so I still felt some soreness in my shins. I do think they are getting better though, at least I hope so. Since then, I’ve been cross-training with the eliptical and doing some light weight training for muscle groups I often neglect when plain running. I never thought I’d find the monotony of a still gym a refreshing break from running, and despite feeling DOMS in every muscle group except my calves right now, I found that being in the gym may be what just I needed for my mental sanity too!

Do you find it difficult to cross-train for a sport/exercise activity you predominantly do?

Grilliant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Please excuse the awkward title…at least it’s not a boring “4th of July Weekend Part blah blah” 😉

So after my sister and I completed our journey for vegan donuts, our next stop was to the beach! We realized that there was a hurdle in our plans however…since we were all the way up in Northeast LA, it was going to take at least another two hours before we arrived in West LA. Oh boy…

But, we couldn’t let traveling time get in the way of our plans. On the brightside, it would be “another adventure” for us.

We caught the train around 3pm, and transferred to a bus at Union Station. From there, things got hazy since I drifted in and out of sleep on the bus while my sister listened to music. The bus was packed by the time we got off, and we witnessed some crazy passengers saying some crazy things when we were on board. Perhaps it was the 4th of July-induced adrenaline?

We got off in Venice, and decided to walk down to Marina Del Rey where the fireworks were taking place that night. Even though we were complaining about the walking we had to do earlier in the day, this stroll was more pleasant since there was an ocean breeze along with it being overcast.

We walked alongside the path that I remember running on one of my team long runs during marathon training season. It was such a gorgeous sight to see the yachts and boats docked in the water…on a cloudy summer evening.

 Boats docked at Fisherman's Village.
Boats docked at Fisherman’s Village.

We stopped at Fisherman’s Village for some photo-taking, and pondered over whether we should stay and wait for the fireworks then and there, or continue onwards to find something to eat.

 Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?
Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?

We chose to do the latter of course, and though the walk continued to be long, we could not help but enjoy the fantastic views of the water…

 Perfect weather & views.
Perfect weather & views.

We eventually made it to Dockweiler Beach, and walked inland from there to check out the small offering of eateries and cafes. We weren’t craving anything in particular, but we were able to find a cute, veggie-friendly storefront in the middle of a strip mall.

 The Mad Carrot!
The Mad Carrot!

The Mad Carrot looked like any ol’ cafe from the front, but the colors inside were extremely warm and inviting.

 Inside...
Inside…

They had menu cards at the front, and my eyes were immediately drawn towards the Not-chos.

 Colorful menu!
Colorful menu!

Unfortunately, they were made with turkey chili, and even though I asked if they could be made without the chili, it ended up being more complicated than it should have been. So I settled for the Vegan Sausage.

The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.
The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.

My sister got the Veggie Melt, which also came with a side of chips…

 This one actually looked pretty good!  :P
This one actually looked pretty good! 😛

Since the cafe was closing early due to the 4th of July festivities, we were given foam to-go boxes. My sis and I found a bench in the strip mall, and ate our meals before walking back to the beach. Both of us agreed that neither of our orders were knock-outs, and that we easily could have whipped something up of that caliber at home. But for the time being, it would do.

By the time we finished eating, we immediately felt weary. We had another two hours or so until the sky would be dark enough for the fireworks show. It felt like it would take an eternity though…

After some back and forth, my sister and I let our inner grannies make the decision to call it a day and head home. I arranged for our ride back with Uber, using a first-time user coupon code for a free ride up to $30! We were glad to be able to be dropped off directly at home. Needless to say, we were exhausted from our jettin’-across-LA-via-public-transit tour!

It was certainly something hot chocolate could fix!

 Yum-ay
Yum-ay

The next morning, we stayed in my apartment until an hour before my sister’s bus was scheduled to leave. After dropping her off at the station, I went by Target to pick up some eggs and a B&J’s pint for later (of course ;)) .

  Hmm...maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this...
Hmm…maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this…

I was thinking of getting another exclusive flavor, but when I saw Milk & Cookies for the first time ever, I knew I had to try it right away!

 Milk and Cookies pint!!!!
Milk and Cookies pint!!!!

It looked like an ice cream core when I opened it, but it just turned out to be a huge chunk of chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I am not complaining when I say this though!

Once I started making my way through the pint, it was slowly transforming from ice cream to milkshake—a “cookie shake” to be more precise.

The rest of the day, and weekend for that matter, was spent relaxing at home, and going to sleep very early. Sometimes the most fun events in life can make you (happily) exhausted.

If you live in the US, did you celebrate the 4th of July with a fireworks show?

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Little Tokyo Treats

Little Tokyo Treats

I’m glad to say that this past weekend was mine to seize yet again! Many of my classmates and I were wiped out the entire week leading up to this particular weekend, since we were slowly getting over the onslaught of exams from the week before. Needless to say, it was particularly difficult for me to stay awake through most of my lectures—good thing we have recordings!

To be honest, I didn’t have anything specific planned until I learned about the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt. Even though I missed out on the pin-collecting insanity (most of the participating restaurants distributed collectible pins with their Hello Kitty-themed dishes, and they unsurprisingly ran out right away), I most certainly knew that I wanted to try some of the Hello Kitty food items before the promo ends on November 21st.

Many of the participating restaurants were in the Downtown/Little Tokyo area, and that’s when I realized why not just explore the area while I’m at it? So after some coffee and my morning run, I walked into the heart of downtown, and slightly east towards Little Tokyo. 

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It was also 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and I was wearing shorts and a tank top. November in LA is all I can say…

When I turned the corner into the Village Plaza, I found one of the target locations of the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt—Cafe Dulce.

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It was the exact place I needed to visit to get a hold of an actual Hello Kitty donut!

cafedulce

Even the front counter had a HK-themed pumpkin on display. The cafe had a long, stretched layout, with the seating options being limited to a counter with bar stools near the front window, or outside. I made no hesitations in my order, even though there were so many cute desserts to choose from! 

I chose to get the chocolate (versus strawberry flavor), and enjoyed it with a fork because I don’t eat donuts with my hands like normal people 😛

 How can you not love the bow? Almost looked too graceful to eat!
How can you not love the bow? Almost looked too graceful to eat!

It would have been awesome to have chocolate custard as the filling, but normal custard tasted fine in this case even so…

custardfilledchocolatehellokittychocolatedonut

After my snack, I walked around the Village Plaza for a little bit, and even took the time to check out the Japanese grocery market. I ended up not buying anything since I didn’t think I would be heading home for a couple hours, and I didn’t want to carry perishables too early and have them out for a long time.

 Shiritake noodles on sale!
Shiritake noodles on sale!

I was also not in too much of a buying mood since I still felt hungry. It was time for a real lunch, and since I also wasn’t in the mood to stand in line for sushi/ramen—or worse, stand in line only to realize that no vegetarian options were available—I decided to pay a creperie that was across the street a visit.

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Four Leaf Tea and Crepes was a cozy cafe tucked in between other small establishments. I think it was also not as crowded as the other eateries nearby because of this.

fourleaf

I was the only customer to walk in a little after noon to order a crepe and milk tea, and to also have that meal indoors. After ordering My Country Garden crepe and matcha milk tea, I waited for my meal while other customers slowly trickled in. Most of them ignored the crepes part of the equation, but made elaborate orders for milk and boba tea. 

 Matcha Milk Tea - it tasted nice, cold, and sweet for the first several sips, and then the green tea flavor kicks in! Love how the layers separate appearance-wise, but if that's an indication of how well the flavors mix, they didn't do so well there...
Matcha Milk Tea – it tasted nice, cold, and sweet for the first several sips, and then the green tea flavor kicks in! Love how the layers separate appearance-wise, but if that’s an indication of how well the flavors mix, they didn’t do so well there…
 My crepe was compactly folded into a triangle shape, and tucked away carefully in sheets of parchment-like paper. Again, I had to use a fork instead of just grabbing it and taking a bite out of it like a burger or sandwich. The filling included: corn, guac, sour cream, salad leaves, tomatoes.
My crepe was compactly folded into a triangle shape, and tucked away carefully in sheets of parchment-like paper. Again, I had to use a fork instead of just grabbing it and taking a bite out of it like a burger or sandwich. The filling included: corn, guac, sour cream, salad leaves, tomatoes. The crepe itself was thin, soft, and chewy!

The day wasn’t complete until one more thing—froyo! I literally did not have a decent cup of froyo since Labor Day weekend, so the reason was justified. Plus, Yogurtland has all the right flavors and toppings necessary. 

In the mix was a flavor combo of pistachio, cookies n cream, and green tea froyo, with mochi pieces, poppers, carob chips, and mango—you know, the usual 😉

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I snacked on this while walking by the Japanese American National Museum, and realized that they were hosting a free admission day until 4pm! Since I hadn’t planned to visit the museum, I passed on the opportunity. And since the Hello Kitty exhibit wasn’t part of that promo, I felt like there would be other days.

Instead, I watched a couple folks work on this mural:

outsidemuseum

And then hopped on the gold line to do some grocery shopping in Pasadena 🙂 

Are you a scavenger hunt fan? 

Café Dulcé on Urbanspoon

Four Leaf Tea Room on Urbanspoon

Running for Ragu

Running for Ragu

Guess where I finally went on Sunday?

smblvd

Yup, this time I did not give myself any excuses to get out of my own plans. Even though I went to bed on Saturday night feeling completely exhausted, I knew that a visit to Santa Monica would not disappoint—especially if it included a run and brunch!

I woke up on Sunday morning around 7:30am, and got ready in time to walk over to the bus stop where a bus that takes about an hour to get to SaMo stops. The ride took forever only because we avoided the freeway, and instead I got a “scenic tour” of West LA, Culver City, and Venice.

I arrived in SaMo near the pier close to 10:00am, and proceeded to the Nike Store for their 10:30am Sunday runs. The store wasn’t hard to miss since they were at a corner of a busy intersection in the outdoor mall.

NIkeSM

I was one of the first people to arrive, so I went for a quick 10-minute walk to see what other cafes/restaurants/shops were in the area. I came back as more people started to assemble in front of the store. I got to try on the Pegasus shoes again, and waited around until it was time to get going.

The employee-pacers called the group in to do a team chant (“Who runs Santa Monica? We run Santa Monica!!”), and then did roll call where they introduced who would be leading the 3, 5, and 7 mile groups. Being the overachiever that I am (ha), I joined the 7 mile group of lean-muscular guys who ran at paces lower than 8:00/mi. I was one out of two females in the group, and ended up being the “slowest” of the pack with a pace of 9:30/mi. I didn’t mind though, since I was treating the run as my LSD for the week and only cared about getting the mileage. Plus, it was one of the hottest runs I have run recently, despite being near the water!

The 7 mi pacer was super nice though and finished the run with me even though he was always yards ahead of me throughout the run. Overall, it was a pleasant experience, but the best part was treating myself to brunch afterwards 😉

I walked about a mile-and-something east to get to 10th street where the cafe was. It felt like so much longer though in the 80+ Fahrenheit heat!! But once I saw this sign, I knew I only had a couple more feet to go before coming upon the entrance to good food. 

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So fortunate about not having to worry about parking!

Despite looking like a quaint and quiet entrance, I didn’t give a thought to how crowded Huckleberry Cafe would be on a Sunday during brunch hours.

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I ended up having to make my way to the back of the restaurant to get in the Order line. But despite being so busy, they had a good system going.

 Busy Sunday brunch crowd.
Busy Sunday brunch crowd.

After placing an order, you would go into the Pay Here line, and then be assigned a table if you wanted to eat in the restaurant. So in other words, the wait wasn’t too bad.

Especially with the entertaining wall decor: 

 Piggies! And that dude in the photograph...haha
Piggies! And that dude in the photograph…haha

And with the recent launch of the owner’s (Zoe Nathan) cookbook, there was also a recipe for Vanilla Apple Butter (sounds delicious!) on the blackboard near the restrooms.

welcome2huckleberry

As I inched my way closer to the counter, I was greeted by the cold-case goods like these salads:

HuckleberryCafeSalads

As well as these enticing desserts—the people in front of and behind me were ordering enough for a feast!

desserts!

I even got to get a glimpse of the hard-at-work staff in the kitchen:

behindthescenes
And I may have also helped myself to some complimentary stevia packets…to-go

An interesting thing I learned about the establishment was that customers are charged an extra 3% of their bill so that the cafe can give their employees full-coverage healthcare. I thought that was a pretty awesome deal 😀

After paying for my order, I found a seat at a long table that was designed to be communal style, but the people flanking me were couples so that made things slightly awkward. That’s where my stealthy stevia packet plans came in, and I entertained myself with that while waiting for my food to come out. The wait wasn’t too long, since like I said, they had a system in place and were rolling plates out like a factory.

But the presentation and taste was nowhere near “factory quality” at all.

Lentil ragu with poached eggs, swiss chard, feta & country bread
Lentil ragu with poached eggs, swiss chard, feta & country bread

My warm bowl of lentil ragu had a hint of sweetness from the tomato sauce, and the cooked lentils and swiss chard quickly filled me up and replenished my depleted reserves from running. I saved the two soft-boiled poached eggs for last, and used the bread to mop up leftover sauce 🙂

When going out to eat with family in the past, we would often turn down a restaurant if we saw a huge line out the door, but that’s obviously indicative that something good is being cooked in there. Delicious meals are worth waiting for, and I felt like my patience really did pay off this time around.

How long would you wait in a line at a restaurant?

Huckleberry Café on Urbanspoon

Total Fake-Out

Total Fake-Out

I need to make a habit of walking to downtown a lot more…especially on the weekends. The first couple blocks are not exactly picturesque, but once past the Staples Center, I can’t help but not look up at those tall buildings and just think, wow…I live in the city.

walkto7thmetro

I decided to walk to the 7th St. Metro Rail Station in order to get to my restaurant of choice for lunch. Since where I wanted to go was a little place located in Hollywood, the fastest (and cheapest) way to get there was via the red line. The station was busy on this Saturday afternoon, and when I was waiting for my train to arrive, I was reminded of my brief subway adventure in NYC back in February.  

About 20 minutes later, I arrived at the Hollywood and Vine station, stopping to admire the palm-tree themed columns. It’s hard to see in the picture, but the ceiling is covered in film reels! The station also steps right out onto the Walk of Fame, but I had to walk fast towards my real destination so that I wouldn’t be prey for tourist predators and their brochures and whatnot 😛

hollywoodandvine

The restaurant of choice on this Saturday was located in a strip mall area, but even squeezed between thai massage and beauty salon establishments, a vegan restaurant cannot be missed in my eyes—especially one that specializes in vegan-izing old-fashioned American diner/southern food. 

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Doomie’s Home Cookin’ was a Yelp find that I knew I had to set out and experience for myself. When the waitress handed me a menu, I took it politely and pretended to glance through it, but I came in already knowing I wanted to try the Southern Fried “Chicken”.

doomiehomecookinmenu

I found a small table with one seat and settled in while waiting for my order. I couldn’t help but notice the adorable cow jar with glasses sitting on the counter (which I assume was a tip jar? I paid tip through my receipt so I’m not sure…). I also had a clearer view of the kitchen (more so than the other patrons), so I was able to watch the cooks go about their duties. 

insideDHC

When my plate came out, I was amazed at what appeared before me. I think my non-veg friends would easily have been fooled by this plate as well. Roasted red potato coins, corn on the cob, a chewy bread roll, and two thick, crunchy pieces of realistic, but “not” fried chicken. 

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Oh, and a side salad with Asian dressing was part of the meal. Can’t forget that…

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But—back to the “chicken”. It honestly is the closest thing to meat that fake meat will ever be able to reach! When biting into the square-ish piece, I was able to see the soy meat resembling the chicken meat. Three layers of textured protein covered the softer soy meat in lieu of real chicken skin, all of which was coated with breadcrumbs and fried to a crisp. In the second piece, they even inserted a dowel to mimic a chicken bone! I even bit into it at first and was like, what is this?!

totalfakeout

As a whole, the meal was delicious and satisfying. Just comes to show that Hollywood strip mall establishments have their share of gems, and that quality vegetarian/vegan food can be found in the most random places 😛 .

After lunch, I walked about 3.3 miles in the hot sun to get some specific grocery purchases. My walk soon became a game of “find the shady spots”, and I ended up turning onto June St. and walking down a long, quiet road of gorgeous houses. 

junest.

^ Hmm, maybe someday. Just having a nice, clean apartment to crash in after another weekend of exploring is good enough for me right now 🙂

Have you ever eaten something that was vegetarian/vegan that resembled the real thing a little too well?

Doomie's Home Cookin' Veggie-Vegan on Urbanspoon

Feetures High Performance Socks

Feetures High Performance Socks

Seeing as though my only fitness product review to-date is this one, I felt like putting the spotlight on something fitness-related that wasn’t edible—even if it meant blogging about a pair of socks I received as part of my swag bag from this race.

feetures! (1)

feetures! (7)

These socks were part of the ZOOMA race swag bag for the Napa Valley race, courtesy of Feetures. The company was started in 2002, and since then has been manufacturing socks for active lifestyles (and even the injuries caused by them, as evidenced by their therapeutic and plantar fasciitis sleeves).

feetures! (6)

In my swag bag, I was given a pair of Electric Pink High Performance socks.

feetures! (3)

 They are perfect for runners at least by the description, since they are described to hug your feet, prevent blisters, and keep feet from getting bogged down by sweat.

feetures! (4)
A little picture demonstrating the “sweat-free technology”.

They even provide a lifetime guarantee—but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did wear out after some time of hard core running. I mean a runner’s socks do eventually have to give in…

feetures! (2)

I wore my pair for my first run after the ZOOMA race. They felt snug when I first put them on, especially around the ankle, but I liked how they had a no show tab. I’m a fan of ankle socks, so this fit the bill in that regard. 

feetures! (5)

As far as material is concerned, I wish they were softer. I like my socks snug, but it’s also nice to feel like there are pillows under my feet. Perhaps I should check out their Elite Merino+ pairs if I want a more cozy pair next time.

What is your favorite pair of socks for running and other workouts?

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 🙂
  • brunch prepared by aunt around 10-11am
  • leaving for a relative’s house around 12pm —> when the day’s unique events actually began…

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.

caption
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] people  + 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.

caption
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.

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

Unwinding for the day 

After the day’s events, I would find my aunt having started preparations for dinner and my uncle watching a TV serial. Chopping up vegetables was my job one day, 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?

Recruitment Recap #3 – An Interview in NYC!

Recruitment Recap #3 – An Interview in NYC!

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

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

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

Mini Jet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night of Nasty Weather
Night of Nasty Weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West 3rd Common (1)

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

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

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

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

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

Walking Around NYC to eventually get to NHM (3)

The NHM building was a beautiful one…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYC—love or hate it?

The So-Called Bloggy Break, Part Trois

The So-Called Bloggy Break, Part Trois

To see part one (or part two) and learn more about the “break”, click here!

Aug 13th) Home

Palm trees = Cali = Home
Palm trees = Cali = Home♥

Aug 14th) Stillness

The still trees at the local park on a warm August day :)
The still trees at the local park on a warm August day 🙂

Aug 15th) Books

I like books as much as the next person, but my sister is the bookaholic...this is just one shelf.
I like books as much as the next person, but my sister is the bookaholic…this is just one shelf.

Aug 16th) Floral

So many lovely flowers are finally starting to grow in our garden :]
So many lovely flowers are finally starting to grow in our garden :]

Aug 17th) Touch

Cat fur...enough said ;)!
Cat fur…enough said ;)!

Aug 18th) Looking Down

Looking down on a cherry tomato plant. They're fun to pick and top on salads :)!
Looking down on a cherry tomato plant. They’re fun to pick and top on salads :)!

Aug 19th) White

First night of short trip to So Cal---clean duvet covers are nice to lie on when in a car for six hours...
First night of short trip to So Cal—clean duvet covers are nice to lie on when in a car for six hours…

Aug 20th) Taste

Two new-to-me bars!
Two new-to-me bars! I love the Greens Plus Natural Peanut Butter Protein Bar, even if the greenish hue can be off-putting to some. And of course the Pure Organic Wild Blueberry Bar. It’s a good snack to munch on even if you have butterflies in your stomach ;).

Aug 21st) Something Old

They may look old, but these stairs have a charming beauty...and they lead you to the beach!
They may look old, but these stairs have a charming beauty…and they lead you to the beach!

Aug 22nd) Midday

I saw these while walking through the beachy neighborhoods of  Hermosa Beach midday, and they reminded me of tomatillos.
I saw these while walking through the beachy neighborhoods of Hermosa Beach midday, and they reminded me of tomatillos.
Summertime

Summertime

It’s almost the end of the second week of summer, and I’m finally getting into a more relaxed mode.

I think it takes me about three days to feel comfortable with a shifting schedule. Last week was the hardest, because I went from a stress-heavy/event-packed week to a very, very “lazy” one. I felt anxious about not having to go to class, coming to my senses about the fact that I had just graduated and would not be returning to school in the fall, and things I need/want to do before graduate school.

I did my best to just take things day-by-day last week, and tried to carry this relaxed attitude into this week.

  • I let go of the fact that my weekly running mileage was poor to my standards, and kept active through ZUMBA, U-Jam, weights, tennis, and walking instead. I had to remind myself that fatigue and sore legs after running 3+ miles would be expected after a week of not running (thanks to final exams!!)
  • I wasted time enjoyed watching movies and special summer TV series’ (HGTV and Food Network star!)

    I always watch "the star" shows when they premiere every summer. Millionaire Matchmaker has been a show I've recently picked up (what happens when you wake up at 5 am everyday and it's "the only thing good on".
    I always watch “the Star” shows when they premiere every summer. Millionaire Matchmaker has been a show I’ve recently picked up (what happens when you wake up at 5 am everyday and it’s “the only thing good on”). Someone recommended The Newsroom to me, and I HIGHLY recommend it!
  • I kept my brain busy by going to the lab, since I am continuing my internship into the summer. In regards to grad school prep, I began researching schools, programs, and faculty.
  • On the job front…I got a part-time job as a sales associate at a pretty nice clothing store (now I won’t have an excuse not to gradually shift my wardrobe to be more “professional”) that pays more per hour than any job I’ve had so far. I also submitted an application for a job in “my industry”, but we’ll see how that turns out :)!

I think I feel less anxious and more at ease with how things are going right now. I also have some exciting things planned for this summer, and I shouldn’t be worried about anything right now. In fact, I should feel the happiest I have been in a long time.

Food wise, I have been on a strange (but good) pancake kick lately. It’s been a canvas for our frozen bags of blueberries, chocolate peanut butter spread, and $0.66 Chobani cups.

A large blueberry pancake topped with dark cherry Chob. (Rest of the cup not pictured)
A large blueberry pancake topped with dark cherry Chob. (Rest of the cup not pictured)

I also signed up for three races, but am looking for three more to meet my “race for each month of the year” goal. One of them includes this exciting half…

(source)

It’s gonna rock!!! is an understatement, for sure.

And to add more excitement to the running fun, I am thinking about running for charity at a destination race sometime early next year. There is still a lot that needs to be worked out, but I am hoping it happens because I believe this is the perfect time to do something like this.

How are you enjoying your summer?

 Are you running the NW(H)M?

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