Archive for the ‘Los Angeles’ Category

After packing up and grabbing a granola bar at the hotel, Velvet Husband and I headed to a church recommended by our dear friends from Russia who used to live in Pasadena. We enjoyed the beautiful sermon and setting. As grand as this church is, I can tell that they foster service and fellowship in the community. They made it a point to recognize and support our service men and women who protect our freedom. They have a church-affiliated program in which members write letters to service men and women suffering from mental illness to express love and encouragement.

With little time to spare between church and home-hunting appointments, we embraced our veggie cravings and returned to Green Earth Vegan Cuisine in Old Town. After yesterday’s heavy brunch at Marston’s, we wanted a veggie-full meal. Can we say creatures of habit?

This time, I knew better than to share the amazing quesadillas with Hungry Hubby. Filled with grilled eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, and vegan cheese, I can understand why Velvet Husband got a bit territorial.

This way I don’t have to worry about mysterious food disappearances. 😉 For entrees, Hubby ordered a BBQ tofu burger with sweet potato fries, and I lurved my glowing green spinach asparagus soup. The ubiquitous green monster smoothies have nothing on this chartreuse beauty.

For optimal soup enjoyment, insert stolen sweet potato fry, eat, and repeat. Vegan meal success, except that they were out of the carrot cake again. This carrot-loving bunny was not happy. It’s okay, I’ll be back.

After comparing a few homes to the current frontrunner and deciding frontrunner still holds the lead, we found Sugar Fix, a bakery in Old Town. Wouldn’t you know that carrot cake isn’t on their Sunday menu? Oh, don’t worry; I found a way to make the most of this dire carrot-cakeless situation . . .

Yes, everything turned out beautifully. Velvet Husband loved his snowy coconut cupcake, and my red velvet cupcake was lovely and moist. Better than my Dot’s experience, but it still doesn’t compare to the Southern Belle cupcake at Sugar Mama’s in Austin, my favorite cupcake shop eva.

After our cupcakes and a soy chai tea latte from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, we caught our short flight back to San Francisco. It was nice to sleep in our own bed after a week of hotels in Costa Mesa and Pasadena. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for the townhouse; thank you so much for your support!

Hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day! I have a new oatmeal recipe for you tomorrow, sweet devoaties!

Edited to add: I’m moving to a self-hosted site today, so if you have trouble accessing any content, that’s probably why. Thank you for your patience as my blog experiences growing pains. 🙂

Tell me, what did you do over the Memorial Day weekend?


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Hope you’re enjoying a beautiful holiday weekend with family and friends! After relaxing around the hotel and scheduling home-hunting appointments, Hubby and I walked to Marston’s Restaurant for Saturday brunch. Excellent yelp reviews and a short walk from our hotel? Yes, please. With its American flag, cute awning, and cosy interior, Marston’s brings an authentic small-town vibe to Pasadena. It’s tucked away several streets from the main drag in Old Town, so we felt lucky to find such a gem. Behold, the classic California brunch spot! Now we know where to bring our Texas family and friends to brunch!

Prepare your eyes for what simultaneously occupies a Vegan’s worst nightmares and a carnivorous Texan’s wildest brunch dreams. Yep, I savored my egg white omelet with turkey cilantro sausage and spinach topped with cheddar cheese and avocado. Maybe I score points by holding the sour cream? Regardless, it was delicious, colorful, and quite filling, so I wasn’t able to finish. I would have liked more veggies and less meat and cheese, but that’s just me (and most healthy living bloggers, methinks! We’re a rare and beautiful breed!).

After napping off my cheese headache at the hotel (oops), we checked out an apartment/townhouse that might be the one! I don’t want to jinx us, so I’m not posting pictures of the house just yet. Here’s the gorgeous tree just outside of what might be our bedroom window. To be honest, this post is a little short because this place is on my mind — and I don’t feel comfortable talking about it too much just yet. So, a few pictures of our day’s activities will have to suffice!

Told you! No pictures of [our] townhouse yet. Rather, I’ll distract you with pictures of colorfully cluttered places . . . like Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, where we ate dinner. (I’m so strategic.) Everyone was super friendly — note the guy behind Hubby in the background! My blackened fish, rice, and beans was a [relatively] healthy choice. Still, I can’t help but notice a lack of greens. Oh, you have to order a salad for that? My bad. 😉 It was filling.

So filling, in fact, that although we planned on grabbing cupcakes for dessert, but our full tummies had other plans. We knew we could eat cupcakes, but we also knew we wouldn’t enjoy them since we were satisfied with dinner. Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial, right? Of course my sweet tooth kicked in later, so I indulged with dark chocolate. Our hotel scores major points with me for its free dark chocolate mint squares in bowls throughout the lobby. Oh, don’t mind me! Just sneaking my fifth chocolate square! Yes, I’ve become well-acquainted with the lobby-folk. 😉

Today we attend a church service in Pasadena, check out a few more properties, put in an application for the front-runner, and fly back to San Francisco this evening. I am so ready to sleep in our bed! Love to all of you!

Have you ever had trouble deciding on which apartment/house/townhouse to rent/buy? (*Raises hand*)

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Happy Memorial Day Weekend, Lovelies!

We started Friday morning with steel cut oats at our hotel in beautiful Costa Mesa. Since I wasn’t in the mood for choco-oats, didn’t have access to peanut butter (sad face), and don’t generally don’t like my oats sugared up, these steel cuts were fruity-licious (and patriotic) with apple chunks, berries, walnuts, and banana slices. Mmm mmm mmmmm.

Good thing Velvet Husband ate a hearty breakfast, too, because he needed the energy. On our way from Costa Mesa to Pasadena to check out houses, a car swerved into our lane on the passenger side of our car, narrowly avoiding collision thanks to Hubby’s quick thinking and reflexes. I was on the passenger side, so I saw just how close they came to hitting us. My body braced for the car to spin out of control as my mind returned to an unwelcome place . . .

In 2004, while on my way to a summer school class, I lost control of my car on slick pavement. The car hydroplaned, flipped, and landed upside down. My car was totaled, but I walked away with only a chard of glass in my eye and a renewed gratitude for life. This accident left me with a palpable sense of driver’s anxiety that creeps up on me to this day. If I ever come across as a control freak in the car, this is [partially] why.

This close call reminded that life can change in an instant. Velvet Husband’s vigilance saved our lives. Just minutes before, we were discussing a few “conditions” I have on moving to LA. I’ve jokingly referred to a contract we’ll sign (the lawyer in me wants it in writing, y’all!), in which we’ll promise that the driver may never have their cellphone in the front seat. Back seat, trunk, or with the passenger? Fine. But no phones near the driver. I haven’t drawn this baby up in writing yet, but I’m so thankful we we were contractually adherent. 🙂

After our brush with disaster and checking out a Pasadena house, we were hungry. We found a vegan restaurant in Old Town to satisfy our veggie cravings, Green Earth Vegan Cuisine. Yes, I do crave things other than dark chocolate. Velvet Husband polished off five spring rolls in no time.

Someone’s a closet vegan! Not to worry though; the vegetable quesadillas were to die for. They were probably my favorite part of a fantastic meal.

We both ordered vegan lasagna — SO happy with our selections!

Only drawback? I was coveting the vegan carrot cake, but they didn’t have it! All for the best, though, because let’s be honest, it’s not like I was hungry after this fabulous vegan fare. And not to worry because I see a cupcake in my future. 😉

After linner (lunch-dinner, y’all), I enjoyed a soy chai tea latte, caught up with bloggity blogs, and checked myself out in photo booth at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Watch out, Hollywood; there’s a new couple in [Old] Town! Please note pocket protector action. 

After PDA-ing our way through Pasadena, we finally saw Bridesmaids. I can’t remember the last time I laugh-cried so hard during a movie! After our close call on the freeway, it felt amazing to laugh to the point of crying. Today we explore more places to live. Enjoy the weekend and be safe, y’all!

What’s making you LAUGH this weekend?

What’s your cell phone car policy?

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What better way to celebrate my return to health than an upper body weights workout and light cardio? Best of all, I practically had the hotel gym all to myself yesterday.

Except for the cleaning man who followed me around with his vacuum. (Said cleaning man was quite pleasant, but that doesn’t change the fact that the vacuum was annoying.) During his brief interlude to clean the filter, I captured photographic evidence of my [rather loud] workout intruder. Seriously, I felt like I was in the way. Um, should I leave now? 

After successfully dodging the vacuum, I enjoyed a convenient bowl of Starbucks oatmeal at South Coast Plaza, which is a shopper’s dream connected to our hotel. In addition to nuts, I mixed in banana slices and Starbucks dark chocolate for a delicious flavor combination. Believe me, this bowl got significantly more decadent when the chocolate melted post-stir. This was my first time trying Starbucks dark chocolate, and I’m a fan. They partner with TCHO for their chocolate, so go figure, it’s good stuff. I still prefer Ghiradelli 86% and Lindt 85%, but this is quality.

What’s that, you thought I had enough chocolate for one day? Oh, I’m sorry. No, I’m not. I’m very strict about chocolate consumption, i.e., it’s mandatory.

Room service? Don’t mind if I do.

I may have nibbled on Ghiradelli dark chocolate after dinner, too. 😉 Maybe it was Jenny’s chocoholic’s anonymous post, but I can’t seem to get enough dark chocolate lately. Lifting weights and increased dark chocolate consumption — sure signs of my returned vim and vigor, no?

Most importantly, thank you all so much for your overwhelming support of our Southern California move! I get even more excited reading through your comments! It seems fitting for this Thankful Thursday that I’m brimming with gratitude for each and every one of you and for your support of our move. I’ll keep you updated on job-hunting, house-hunting, and any accompanying stress-eating. *Reaches for chocolate.* Whaaat? 😉

What can you not get enough of this week?

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Happy Wednesday, Sweet Ones! Since my blog’s humble beginnings (i.e., the day I decided to snap a few pictures of dinner), I’ve been somewhat evasive about our future plans. ¿Por qué? Because we’ve been making plans, y’all! Well, the time has come to lift the curtain. We’re moving to . . .

Los Angeles! Yes, it’s true! We’re moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles for wonderful opportunities presented by my budding career as an actress Velvet Husband’s career. 😉 All joking aside, I’m really happy and ready to explore my career opportunities in sunny Southern California.

Aside from the excitement about our careers, how do I feel about the move? I’m ready for a fresh start in a new [to us] city, and I’m processing. As many of you know, I made several moves as a child because my father’s job took our Texas-based family to Norway, Indonesia, Russia, and then back to Texas. While this upbringing instilled in me a sense of adventure, it’s also part of my makeup to crave a sense of home. Well, Velvet Husband and I have decided it’s time to try flip-flops, palm trees, and avocados on for size and see how it feels to call Southern California home. We don’t know how long we’ll be in LA, but we’re confident that this a step in the right direction for us. We’re challenging ourselves and growing individually and as a couple as we make these oh-so-very adult decisions. For now, I’m learning to be comfortable with the unknown that lies ahead. Not easy for a girl who feels lost without her trusty [Lilly Pulitzer] planner. And yes, zee planner matches zee phone cover. Too matchy matchy, you say? I think not. I digress. Point is, as always, faith is my source of strength during this transitional time.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

And so, we take the first step. We’re staying at a hotel in Costa Mesa while Velvet Husband is at a work-related hearing and I scour the net for places to live in our community of choice, gorgeous Pasadena. Our goal is to move here in the next month and get comfortable in our (gulp) new home. In addition to a place to live, I’m also looking for a job (Mama needs a job, y’all!), so any and all leads are welcome. Yes, change is afoot!

Again, thank you so very much for your sweet comments wishing me a speedy recovery. Your sweet words mean so much to me! I’m happy to report that after taking a turn for the worse on Monday, I’m feeling much better today. Good enough to workout this morning, even. Hope each of you is enjoying a lovely day!

Are you in the midst of a transition of any kind? Do tell!

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been found myself in Lake Tahoe, Austin, Newport Coast, and Los Angeles. Away from my kitchen, gym, pilates, and yoga in San Francisco, you’d think it would be challenging to stay healthy. While it did require some forethought, staying healthy wasn’t so difficult after all. I’m no expert, but I thought it would be fun to share with you how I stayed healthy, happy, and energized on our extended trip away from the comforts of home.

  • If possible, stay in a place with a fully equipped kitchen.  If there’s no kitchen in your hotel room, request the essentials from the concierge.

Not only is this a healthy choice, it’s financially responsible. While taking the three-day California bar exam last year, I stayed at the hotel connected to the convention center exam site. Between last minute cram sessions and the unfortunate food options nearby, I had to get creative. My hotel room didn’t have any kitchen appliances, but I requested a refrigerator and microwave from the concierge desk. This enabled me to make my breakfast and lunch at the hotel and save time and money. Sure, I still ordered room service for breakfast on the mornings before the exam (built in wakeup call, too!), but I only did this on exam day mornings.

But let’s talk about the good stuff — vacation. You didn’t come here for bar exam survival tips, now did you? Alas, another time, another post. Vacationing is an entirely different animal. When vacationing, part of the fun is experiencing new things. Here were some colorful flavors we found at a Greek restaurant in Pasadena.

Even so, many of us don’t care to eat out for every meal, so plan accordingly. Depending on which meals you prefer to eat out, purchase a few essentials at the store or farmer’s market so you can eat some meals at the hotel and some meals out ‘n’ about. After a few too many dinners on the town while staying with my parents in Newport Coast, I made pan-seared salmon, sweet potato fries, and asparagus for dinner one night. Easy and delicious!

I also bought ingredients for smoothies and oatmeal. Oftentimes we ate out for breakfast or lunch, but I at least had the option of eating in when I wanted to; I was never forced to eat an overpriced or unappealing meal. To me, the key to staying healthy while away from home is about creating options and staying flexible. Sometimes all you need is a healthy smoothie or bowl of oatmeal to start the day.

  • On the other hand, don’t hold too fast to routine; try new things!
While it’s always nice to have our old favorites to fall back on, don’t pass up the opportunity to try new restaurants, especially when included with your hotel reservation. Our hotel stay in Los Angeles came with free breakfast for two at their beautiful onsite restaurant overlooking LA Live.
  • Choose restaurants wisely. Be selective. 

If I’m going to splurge on a meal while traveling, the restaurant should have authentic ambiance, atmosphere, and appeal. So when we decide to eat out, I try to ensure that the spot is worth our time and money.

As you can see, 1810 was well worth it. Also, although I don’t drink too often because it hurts my digestive system, I give myself latitude when I’m out with friends and family, like when I enjoyed a margarita at Mi Piace with Yummy Mummy and her hubby. Mi Piace was another restaurant that was an all-around wonderful dining experience because we went there on recommendation of friends who live in Pasadena. Vacationing is all about new experiences with friends and family, so don’t be afraid to try new things and listen to the locals!

  • Forgive and forget if you select a restaurant that turns out to be less than stellar. 

Velvet Husband and I were disappointed with our cupcakes from Dots Cupcakes in Pasadena. Thankfully, I went with a mini cupcake, so I didn’t waste too much space on this sugary disappointment so dry with its paltry frosting attempt. It only stands to reason that I would have high standards for red velvet cupcakes, no? Excuse me, but where is the frosting? 

  • Explore, walk, run, and cycle around your new surroundings. Engage in seasonal outdoor activities. 

Use the gym if you like, but don’t be a slave to gym workouts while traveling. Explore your surroundings by walking, running, or cycling. I went to the gym once in Newport Coast and took a body pump class with Velvet Husband in Austin. But instead of adhering to a strict schedule, I went on a few runs and walks to explore the resort grounds in Newport Coast. Gorgeous, but where are the clouds? I rely on them to protect the fair skin.

On our trip to Tahoe, I stayed active and perfected the art of camouflage in case Velvet Husband and I are ever attacked my marauding gangs of Northern Californian snowboarders. We’re safe!
  • Stay hydrated.

Try to keep a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go. I’m a work in progress here. But the bottle is pretty, right?

  • In addition to water, have healthy snack options readily available. 
I like to keep fruit, carrots, dark chocolate, and Larabars close by  in case I need to grab a snack on-the-go. After our salmon dinner in Newport Coast, I whipped up banana soft serve for dessert. Never mind that I was the only person in the house excited about mashed frozen banana; just means more for me! Do we like the new apron? And please, no commentary on the confining nature of the apron. It’s my blog. I like aprons. Done. Ooh, that felt nice. Hi.

  • Above all, be flexible, relax, and enjoy spending time in a new place with the people you love. 

Yes, you can hate me now. It’s okay, these pasty fair legs come with a healthy dose of self-esteem.

See tips on staying healthy while traveling from fellow healthy living bloggers Jenny and Cait in the comments sections here and here.
What did I miss? Do you have any suggestions on how to stay healthy while traveling?

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Good morning from Newport Coast! We may not have Westminster Abbey, but we do have this. And this is not bad.

On Thursday night, Velvet Husband and I met an old friend {we’ll call her Yummy Mummy, because yummy mummy to a 16-month old baby girl she is!} and her husband for dinner at Mi Piace, an adorable Italian kitchen & lounge in Old Town Pasadena. It was an exciting dinner because I hadn’t seen Yummy Mummy in over thirteen years. Why so long, you ask? My friends are scattered all over the world because I grew up in Norway, Indonesia, Russia, and Texas. And since we’re all over, it’s hard to keep up with everyone. Yummy Mummy and I were on almost every sports team together at the Anglo-American School of Moscow, even the AAS Cheerleading Squad. Oh, yes — there was an AAS cheerleading squad. Our school mascot was the Penguin. The Fighting Penguin to be exact. Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready to win? We’re back. Hey, hey! So let’s begin…

We had a ball reminiscing about the Russia days. There were margaritas. Appetizers. Entrees. Desserts. Tea and coffee. It was one of those dinners that you enjoy, not the awkward kind where you’re not sure what to say. We had so much fun that we walked around Old Town Pasadena after dinner to prolong the evening. Many thanks to Yummy Mummy and her sweet husband for a fabulous time!

Along with refreshing margaritas, we shared a delicioso bruschetta appetizer that would be fun to {attempt to} recreate at home. I enjoyed my sauteed salmone alla mi piace tossed with white mushrooms, bell peppers, broccolini, garlic, basil, and oregano in a lovely white wine butter sauce. Sadly, no pictures of our delicious margaritas because I hadn’t spilled the “healthy living blog” beans to Yummy Mummy before imbibing and didn’t want to weird her out by taking pictures of my margarita just yet. But don’t worry, as you can see from my pictures below, I wasn’t shy about the blog for long. Sometimes when I take pictures of my food, I think waiters and restaurant patrons just think I don’t get out much. Oh, poor thing, she gets so excited over a plate of food.

Let them think what they will; I have pretty pictures! I could have stopped after the appetizer and entree. I would have been just fine. Full, even. But we were having such a great time that we decided to prolong the fun with dessert, tea, and then a walk. Indeed, I was defenseless when I spotted Sugar Free Carrot Cake on the dessert menu. How could this carrot-cake connoisseur resist? Upon asking our waiter whether I had made a worthy choice, he gave me a skeptical look as if to say, Sugar free? Come on now, bambina. You honestly think that’s any good? Steadfast, I stood by my carrot cake convictions and was not disappointed. Indeed, Mi Piace! Wonderful dessert. Fabulous evening. Cheers to breathing new life into old friendships!

Have you ever reconnected with a long-lost friend? What was it like when you reconnected?

What was your high school mascot? 

Don’t forget to weigh in — how do you like to stay healthy while traveling?

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