Tuesday, July 7, 2015

June Goals Update

Just wanted to keep you apprised of my June goals...

1. Finish bike ,000 challenge - unfortunately I was just 60 minutes short of this goal.  I am proud to say that I logged 940 minutes in June as well as my other exercise activity.  Also, those 940 minutes were full throttle biking so I have to say that should count for something.  July will be better and I will hit the 1,000.

2. Read "Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride" - finished (a few days into July).  June turned out to be more jammed packed than I thought.  Also, the book was a little less than riveting.  I am still thinking about what I liked and disliked about this book.

3. Try one new main course from the Hemsley + Himself cookbook - accomplished.  Actually, I tried a few new recipes from their book and all were excellent.  I am continuing to work my way through their recipes with zeal.

4. Write letters to friends - accomplished.  Need I say more?

5. Spa Day - put on hold until July.

Sorry, just had to write a quick update.  July goals are in the works.  Hope you have your goals set for this month and are working towards them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thoughts of biking to work so far...

So it finally happened. I am living the dream. I work at a place that is close enough to bike to work, and I do. Living in Southern California, it is extremely hard to live close enough to work. When I was in public accounting I practically lived in my car. My last job was less than 20 miles from my house and I was so excited. I thought that maybe I could bike to work there but unfortunately it was uphill the entire way and no showers were available. Also, I had to wear business formal everyday. Grr…. But I knew that one day I would make my goal come true and be able to bike to work.

My work now is a little less than 5 miles away with very few hills. Also, I get to wear jeans to work. Woohoo! While this change in my life is for the better, I am afraid like every other person out there who commutes via bicycle, I still have a few kinks to work out.

Some things I have noticed, need advice on, or need to change are as follows:

1. I pedal fast. I love going fast. Going fast makes me sweat. Showing up to work sweaty sucks. I need to slow down and take my time.

2. Part of my commute is over dirt and gravel. While I can just wash my bike and the dirt is gone, unfortunately my clothing is getting a little dusty during my ride to and from work. I need to figure out how to change this. Maybe bike in workout clothes and change at work?

3. I have a hybrid bike right now and am using hybrid road tires. While I love this bike and also use it with mountain bike tires, I am afraid it is not the best for commuting. I really want a road bike and to start training for a century ride, but I am also thinking I need a legitimate commuter bike with wheel/mud guards, a place for a pannier and a basket. Perhaps a cup and iPhone holder as well? I need something that will work on road and trail so a road bike is not the best option. What to do?

4. Speaking of panniers, I have no way to carry all of my crap as it is. I have a little tote bag that I am making into a makeshift backpack but that is really cumbersome and also, I don’t want to carry a backpack as it makes my back sweaty. I think I really need a bike that has utility and can carry my stuff. Also, I need to establish exactly what I am going to take to and from work.

5. So of course being in Southern California means that if you want to go to lunch you have a 98.4% chance of having to drive there (yes, I made that percentage up). While I pack lunch most days, people keep asking me to go out to lunch or are taking me out to get to know me more. I love going out to lunch with people. When we do I hate that I do not have a car with me to offer to drive. While no one has seemed to notice this yet, everyone knows it is curious to at least offer given the price of gas. I am thinking that I might just have designated days of biking and a designated day that I drive so that I can offer to drive when my car is there.

Anyway, these were just some thoughts I had…while riding my bike! I am open to questions, comments, recommendations, etc. And one day you too can live the dream and bike to work! (You know whom I am taking to.)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Think About It Thursday

"Some people come into your life as blessings. Others come into your life as lessons." ~Mother Teresa

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June Goals

Better late than never.  I actually just wrote down my goals for June this morning.  I realized I never posted my May goals, but here I am now with June.

1. Finish Bike 1,000 Challenge
I am trying to record my food and exercise on the LoseIt app and also decided to join a bunch of bike challenges on there.  One such challenge for June us to bike 1,000 minutes.  I did this (and more) in May and am confident I can do this in June as well.

2. Read "Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride"
This book is written by Peter Zheutlin and is about this little known story of the first woman to travel around the world on a bicycle.  There is so much more to this story and I am hoping to do a blog post on the book once I have finished reading it.

3. Try one new main course from the Hemsley + Himself cookbook
I have been eating Paleo/Whole30/Autoimmune Paleo for a few months now and this cookbook has amazing tasting recipes that are healthy and look fantastic.  Did I mention they taste quite delicious as well?  I have made their version of Vietnamese Pho at least twice a week for the past couple of months.  The recipe is seriously addicting.  I wanted to expand my current meals I am making and try something new to help me stay inspired and motivated.  There is nothing worse than getting into a food rut.

4. Write letters to friends
This is something I started doing more last year and am trying to make it a habit.  I love getting letters in the mail.  It takes more time and thought to send them and makes me feel truly loved.  I wanted to share that with the people in my life as well.  Also, there is something about sitting down and writing that truly makes your deep thoughts come to light.  Give it a try, you might like it.

5. Spa Day
I think this speaks for itself.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Bicycle

I have been looking to upgrade my current set of wheels and have been looking high and low for inspiration.  I happened to be looking at pictures I took last year in Italy and came across this beauty.  It was sitting outside a cafe in Bordighera, Italy as I walked down the street and I had to take a few quick snaps of the bike.

Enjoy the bike art!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Brewery Art Walk in LA

A few months ago I learned of this really cool art walk in LA that happens twice a year.  The gist of the walk is that there is an artist colony that took over an old brewery and twice a year there is an event in which the public can come and walk around the artist lofts and admire and maybe even purchase some original artwork. (Check out The Brewery Art Walk)

As you might remember, one of my goals for 2015 was to attend more arts and culture events and I am glad to say that another one can be checked off the list.

I met my friends Kyle and Lisa up in LA for the event and had a great time exploring the lofts and interpreting the artwork.

Parking was quite interesting... there were a lot of people there but I managed to score a spot in the lot that UPS was generously allowing visitors to park in.

I canvased the layout while waiting for Lisa and Kyle and spotted the beer station and fun restaurant nestled in the center of the  "campus" of artist lofts.  All that to say, I was doing the Whole 30 detox so I was not able to partake in the food and libations, next time for sure!  Also, apparently the location is very close to where Pocky sticks are manufactured and there were hundreds of boxes around with people munching on them.  The landscaping was water-wise with succulents, cactus, and sparse landscaping.  It said, "yes we love plants but we also know California is in a major drought."  I loved it!

The vibe was relaxed and interested.  People who were there seemed to genuinely want to see that art and were not just there to pass the afternoon, although I am sure that would be fun too.  (There are not too many photos of inside the studios as a lot of places ask not to take pictures.)

My first stop was to a gallery that boasted abstract oil canvas pieces (my favorite).  I was able to talk with the artist herself about the meaning and inspiration behind a few of her pieces, but after I had made my own interpretation first.  After all, art is how you interpret it, not what other people tell you to think.

If you are ever in the area, you should check this place out.  I am definitely going to the next event as well.  Check out their website HERE for details.

I bought these three cards and am going to frame them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Earl Grey Tea-poached salmon from Hemsley + Hemsley

So...I have been eating a bit of salmon lately.  Ironic since I do not particularly like fish.  I bought a package of wild caught salmon from Costco and have been attempting various dishes with it in the hopes that I find one I can add to my signature dish list of at least keep on the recipe rotating block.  This is the second attempt at poached fish and both have proven to be quite delicious.  Now I have to say that wild salmon is key.  I can honestly taste the difference between wild and farm-raised and I detest the taste of farm-raised not to mention you miss out of tons of nutrients.  

I found this recipe on the blog Hemsley + Hemsley. (Recipe HERE).  This blog was created by two sisters, Jasmine and Melissa, who believe in cooking sustainably and healthily.  I found the blog when I was on YouTube looking for spiraled vegetable recipes and came across their video in which they made this exact meal.

Since I am mostly eating Whole30 (if you don't know what it is, check out the info HERE) for the month of April I changed the recipe just slightly.  I did not add the parmesan cheese.  Also, no maple syrup in the house so I used honey.

I have to say that I have made the zucchini noodles (zoodles as the internet refers to them) a ton of times with this very simple lemon and olive oil dressing.  I have also made tea-poached salmon but this time the honey, tea, and butter reduction sauce kicked it up another level.  I did all but lick my plate when I was finished.  Ridiculously good tasting and quite healthy to boot.

Check out the Hemsley sister's website HERE and maybe give this recipe a try.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Easter Lunch

Just sharing a few pictures of my Easter Lunch with my family.  I got a chance to try something new out of the Ottolenghi Cookbook from my Cookbooks of the Month.  I made Grilled Cauliflower with Tomatoes, Dill, and Capers.  I am going to make this again!  My mother kept the leftovers and ended up having it for dinner.  (I think she liked it too.)  Anyway, it was fun and nice to hang out and laugh. Happy belated Easter!

Grilled Cauliflower with Tomatoes, Dill, and Capers from Ottolenghi
Baked chicken, baked sweet potato "fires", julienned cucumber salad, and Ottolenghi cauliflower
Our traditional Bunny Bread alla my mother

Monday, April 13, 2015

Quick trip to Santa Barbara

A few weeks back my sister had the week off as her school had spring break. I had been itching to go to Santa Barbara so we decided to head up there for the day.  (It is only a few hours away and the hotel rates were outrageous not to mention the VRBO cleaning fees).

We left between 5am and 6AM.  Close to 6AM because we still hit some LA traffic.  Our first stop was this great little neighborhood breakfast/bakery that we discovered on our last trip.  The last time we went to Santa Barbara we both wanted to split a breakfast burrito and Yelp told us this was the place.  It is a hidden gem that serves Intelligentsia Coffee which happens to be my favorite.  The place is called Crushcakes and Cafe.  If you are in the area, I highly suggest going.  There is a great outside patio that is obscured from street noise by potted plants and a water feature.  Of course you can always eat inside which appears to be an old converted house.

Next, we headed to The Funk Zone.  This zone is fairly new to Santa Barbara and is quite worth checking out.  The Funk Zone is an area just south of State Street that boasts art houses, wine tasting rooms, and new inventive restaurants.  Check out what there is HERE. The best part is that the Funk Zone is a block away from the train station.  You can take the train up, wine taste and dine in the Funk Zone, and then take the train home.  Who needs to drive?

After we had walked a fair amount we headed up to Babcock winery.  Babcock makes some great wine, and not to mention the owner of Babcock also owns one of my favorite restaurant, Walt's Wharf in Seal Beach. I had called ahead to make sure they were open, something I highly suggest you do.  Some tasting room websites will say they are open but I have found that you need to call because sometimes those tasting rooms can be closed for a private event.  When I called I asked the gentleman on the phone if he had one other winery he suggested trying in the area and he said to try Dierberg and Star Lane because they made so many different kinds of wine.  At Babcock and asked the woman working the same question and she also said Dierberg and Star Lane.  We left Babcock and headed to Dierberg and Star Lane where our first impression was the rustic green barn overlooking a water-wise garden.

Inside we were even more impressed.  My sister and I split the tasting, as we did at Babcock, because I was driving.  The wines were from all over Santa Barbara county and did not disappoint.  Not to mention the woman pouring the wine was very knowledgeable, attentive, and had recent passed her first round of sommelier training.

We left Dierberg and Star Lane with a few bottle in tow and headed back to the Funk Zone.  We walked around a bit more before heading in to AVA Santa Barbara Vintners tasting room.  The tasting room had this amazing map of the Santa Barbara AVAs and I recognized it as I had pinned this map to one of my Pinterest boards.  The place was very informational about the AVAs and we got to taste wine from all over the county once more.

It was then time for our dinner reservations.  When planning the trip we could not decide between going to The Lark, a new restaurant in the Funk Zone my sister had go to, or to Wine Cask which is just off State Street and where I can honestly say I have had one of the top five meals of my life here. We opted for The Lark as I had never tried it and we were exploring the Funk Zone.

Restaurant review...
When walking by earlier I asked, "What is that place?  It looks so cool."  My sister laughed and told me it was The Lark.  I thought that was a good sign.  The menu is meant to be shared family style and the portions are on the smaller side, just an FYI.  The service was amazing and they were very attentive.  To start, we ordered the Caramelized Asian Pears and Red Kale.  I have to laugh because I chose this one.  I had previously told my sisters that "I don't kale." meaning that I did not drink the cooled and jump on the kale bandwagon until the next "superfood" came along.  I am indifferent to kale but disdain how much attention people give it.  That being said, I throughly enjoyed the salad.

Our next plate was the Yellowtail Hamachi Crudo.  I was a little disappointed in the dish in that the sauce overpowered the fish which flavor was all but absent.  The presentation of the dish was beautiful, but I think this is something that needs to be tweaked.  Also, this dish was suppose to have pickled fennel in which only two pieces had fennel and the chili flakes were absent.  Maybe the person who prepared the dish was new and forgot?

The dishes we had ordered previously were quite small but we thought that would be fine.  We were wrong.  Even our waitress had suggested another dish saying the portions were small.  Oh well, live and learn.  We ordered another dish at this point (we had not eaten lunch).  The last plate we ordered was quite uncharacteristic of us as it was a pasta dish.  There is only one place that I order pasta, but we took a chance.  We ordered the Farmers Market Pappardelle.  Let me just say, this was the best dish of the meal and I am so glad we took the chance.  This was a bit larger portion and the flavors just melded.  The Meyer lemon breadcrumbs mixed into the pasta took the dish to an whole other level.  If you are planning on eating at The Lark I highly suggest this dish.

All in all I say it was a great trip.  I cannot wait to go back and stay longer and have a bike ride!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

March Goals: Follow Up

1. Finish Nike+ Challenge - ACCOMPLISHED.
This was one of those things that constantly hung over me.  If I wanted to go for a bike ride or wanted to to do Jillian Michael's Shred, I couldn't because I knew I needed to devote my time to running for the challenge instead.  I made this my main focus for the month and finished my goal within the first two weeks.  It was such a relief both mentally and physically.  I know that it made me go and do miles everyday which was great for discipline, I just wanted to transition that discipline to something that I enjoyed more. (See goal #5)

2. Read Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern Day Slave by Shyima Hall. - ACCOMPLISHED.
I posted a book review on this one and hope you will check it out.  (See short review HERE) I ended up meeting my my friends for a book club and had a great time talking about the issues of human trafficking and what our roles are to help end it in the US and worldwide.  I encourage you to become informed as well.

3. Burn my CDs to my computer. - Semi-ACCOMPLISHED.
I ended up needing a new computer and spent a lot of time transferring music and pictures and the like to me new computer.  This actually took hours upon hours of time and I had to put the burning of the CDs on hold.  I did manage to import quite a few but decided that I needed to reevaluate which CDs I was going to keep and which ones I would probably never listen to again.  To be continued...

4. Have another personal spa day. - ACCOMPLISHED.
Need I say more?

5. Start biking again. - ACCOMPLISHED.
The freedom that comes with riding a bike is something that cannot be described in words.  I love being on my bike and took full advantage of my time when my Nike+ challenge was completed.  The last couple rides I have had a problem with my chain and so I am taking my bike in for a much needed tune up.  While that is happening I have checked out my local YMCA and have been attending spin classes there.  Can I just say that I also love spin classes.  I find them truly addicting and burn a ton of calories.  This last class I burned over 800 calories, thank you heart rate monitor.  If you do not have or use a heart rate monitor I highly recommend it.  It is a great source for training and for tracking calories burned.  I just read this great article from FitnessMagazine.com that tells even more reasons that you should use a heart rate monitor.  Check out the article.

8 reasons to invest in a heart rate monitor ASAP

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set in present day, this narrative work takes a page from the much read "Gone Girl" in the flip-flopping of narratives from the book's three main characters. You are first introduced to Rachel, a divorced alcoholic living each day trying to forget her past. Anna, the new wife trying to make due stepping into the house and life of her husband's first wife. And Megan, the picture perfect wife with her picture perfect husband who goes missing. Slow to start and hard to identify with the main charecters for the first half of the book. (I almost gave up and googled the ending, but I stuck with it.) Once you pass the halfway point in the book it starts to pick up speed and you eventually find redeeming qualities in each of the main characters.

Twists and turns abound and you cannot help but to think everyone guilty at some point in the novel. This would be a great book to read while traveling, on vacation, or just when you need a distraction.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: Hidden Girl by Shyima Hall

Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child SlaveHidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave by Shyima Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shyima Hall represents a pillar of bravery and the power to overcome. I read this book because the fight against human trafficking is near to my heart and I wanted to support her efforts to get the word out to the public that this could be happening in your back yard and signs to look for.

Sold into slavery as a child in Egypt, Shyima was then illegally moved to the US and lived with her captors in Orange County, California until an anonymous tip was called in and authorities removed her from her "home". Fearing for her true families safety, battling the obstacle of believing she was not allowed to talk to any male outside of her family, as well as a language and cultural barrier, Shyima struggled to come out of her shell and realize that she was a person that mattered and deserved respect.

The book is written as a type of journal/cathartic way to catalog the events in her life that lead her to be a national speaker about human trafficking. It is amazing to see that a girl who had never been educated nor spoke more than three words of English until high school age could come so far as to write her own novel.

I applaud her bravery and feel that this is a great book to read when just learning of the consequences, both mentally a physically, a person has to overcome once they have escaped their captors.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Laguna Beach Artwalk

"The City We Love" by Joelle Blouin
For the artwork above, see artist details HERE.

I finally made it!  The city of Laguna Beach has an artwork the first Thursday of every month.  I have wanted to go for the las couple years but was never able to.  Whether it be because I had class at night of because of my late hours of work, this event has eluded me for far too long.

The frist Thursday in March was my first time attending this artwork.  To sum up, various art houses in the city of Laguna Beach open their doors to the public for a free viewing of their art and often times there are free snacks and cups of wine.  Unfortunately I had just had a fabulous dinner (one of my salmon nights) and was not the least bit hungry to eat or drink.

My oldest sister was able to join me straight from work and after the nightmare of finding parking in Laguna on a first Thursday, we headed off.  In all we went in about 10 or so galleries, some of which were a lot cooler then their websites lead me to believe.  Most of the galleries asked that no pictures be taken, so I only took a few pictures of the names of the galleries we attended.

Anyway, I am so glad I was able to go and finally see these amazing places. I did not find a piece that spoke to me personally, but I am forever on the hunt to own my own piece of original art.  I think when I see it I will just know.

Check out their website and if you have not already, I highly suggest you try it out.

Laguna Beach First Thursday Artwalk