End of May Friday Favorites

Another week (or month I should say) has come and gone.  While work itself has slowed down, my schedule has not.  From gym classes to jet-setting about the Jersey Shore, I’ve had barely enough time to craft the perfect posts.  Ok, let’s be real, I just haven’t been very dedicated to writing.

However, since this weekend is going to be blissfully quiet (or so I hope), I might get my writing act together.  Sure I love bouncing about from place to place but with the amount of things I have on my “to-do” list that I just need to chill.  On the positive side, my roommate will be in town and we have some plans to go out one night and cook our feelings (or just work with Pinterest inspiration) away the next 🙂

~ Laundry
~ Grocery Shopping
~ Running
~ Food preparation
~ Cross Training
~ Jake Owen concert
~ Spring (almost summer) cleaning
~ Packing
~ Birthday gift shopping/shipping

Aren’t I an exciting individual? I know, I try.

Volunteering for the AIDS walk a few weeks back.  Glad I got to experience such a phenomenon and support such a good cause. Not to mention how much I love my coworkers.  Sarah was talking about community the other day and I am blessed with the community I have established at work.  Without them, I don’t know if I would have lasted this long in the city.

image(4)There’s a few other fun things coming your way.  First off, it will be my 2-year blog anniversary this Sunday!  Who knew that my little project could turn into such a fun lifestyle?  Hey, it’s even been a grand way to make friends!

Secondly, I’m oh oh so happy to help host this month’s edition of the Secret Blogger Club found on the Blonder Side of Life.  Oh the joys of being a smaller blogger 🙂 Interested in checking out what it’s about?  Come back around Monday!

Blend Retreat is in just 1 week! This gal will be meeting and greeting with some new blog friends and hopefully picking up some swag.  😉

8e52957bcff1c39ec7712a7b8a0ab15aAnything fun planned this weekend?

 

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Sights & Sounds of the Sea Shore

Within my heart of hearts, I am happiest in the mountains or by the sea.  The city is an oh-so-fun place to be and explore, but nothing beats the whistle of wind through the pine trees up north or the sound of the waves, lapping onto the shore.

IMG_4822IMG_4492Some of my favorite granola in the world (homemade of course) topped over Fage Greek yogurt…couldn’t get enough

IMG_4502Nothing like some homemade treats…even a surprise! My favorite were the chocolate toffee bars, which were similar to 7-Layer Bars

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This past weekend I was lucky enough to travel down the coast to Ocean City and spend three glorious days by the seaside.  We biked between streets and ran along the boardwalk.  We indulged in fresh fruit from the market and had BBQs under the setting sun.  (Tried to be an adult and sip on some American brew)

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Succeeded as a 23-year old and stayed out until 2am dancing up a storm at a local bar.  Ok, my friend and I may have called it quits around 12:45 and taken a nap in the car while we waited for her brother.  But still, we held our own on the dance floor and had quite a few fans. 😉

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To even out our late nights of dancing, we took our fair share of naps on the beach, completed a puzzle and set up a Yahtzee tournament, which I happened to win…no big deal.

IMG_4838Some good ‘ol boardwalk food

IMG_4840Everyone loves a candy store, especially homemade salt water taffy!

IMG_4835Check out that line! This is the famous Brown’s, where they make fresh donuts when you order.  People line up for ages just to get a taste of that melt-in-your-mouth flavor. 

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The Jersey shore is quite something.  I may even make quite the statement “West Coast Best Coast”.   I still have a few months left until I reach the one-year mark in the east.  I’ve enjoyed the seasons, the flavor of the city, and wide range of characters out and about, but let’s be real – I’ll always be a California girl.  So, putting that lofty statement aside, I want to talk about beaches and compare the good ‘ol Pacific to the Atlantic.  (*My review probably isn’t 100% accurate, as I haven’t seen all the beaches on the east or west coast.  This is just coming from my few experiences so please take it with a grain of salt)

  • Temperature – The east is known for its warm(er) water, although this past weekend probably wasn’t the best example with ~60F (or colder) temps.  I didn’t really have a problem as that’s the norm for us Californians and I could suck it up and take the plunge.  Come on people, it’s not like it’s the Arctic. 😉

IMG_4499Snacks seaside

  • Shore Length – These beaches extend for miles at a time – I am much more used to little coves and inlets that California beaches have and was surprised by how far the main beach extended.  From what I could tell, there really wasn’t an end in sight.
  • Sea Depth – Back home, you’d be lucky if you wade out a few yards and can still stand.  Here in Jersey, I walked about 20 yards and was still only up to my knees in water.  Our shores tend to drop off after about ten feet and allow you to bob around and body surf.  Speaking of body surfing, that leads me to the topic of waves.
  • Waves – Maybe it was the beach I was at but they seemed non-existent.  I barely had to bounce up to avoid a ½ foot wave and when I tried to body surf in, that plan failed.  Although, to be fair, not every beach is ideal for surfing and my friend hit some clutch waves down a ways.
  • Sunsets – Here’s a kicker for you west coast people.  The sun no longer sets over the ocean.  Ok, obvious I know, but when you are used to sitting on the sand, watching a great rosy globe set into the abyss, it’s sort of a weird concept.

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I did love the fact that it was such a small town and everyone not only knew some of their neighbors, but also could let the kids off on their own and roam around the boardwalk.  Maybe there are beach towns in California like this and maybe I just missed out on this little social experience.  Maybe Newport Beach, CA is similar where the kids can roam Balboa, surf during the day, or get into mischief 😉

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Anyways, I admit that I’m definitely biased based on the beach(es) I grew up going to but in a way, we always compare the current experience to that which we know best.  It was glorious spending some time with my east coast family and I wouldn’t have asked for a better weekend to start off summer.

Beach - Relaxation

In Solidarity

By now I’m sure you are familiar with the events that occurred late Friday night in the area north of Santa Barbara. The horrific event at Isla Vista, a place where my best friends called home for four years, will forever haunt me. I didn’t know the area well, but I had been there multiple times. My friends may have graduated but we still knew students on campus. How could something so near to our hearts become a crime scene?

What shocks me the most is the sad reality that people still do not feel loved enough. It’s tough to realize that while we all compare our lives to those portrayed in the media or social media, others feel the need to react instead of realize that each and every one of us is different and unique. It upsets that this event can happen to anyone and should not happen to anyone.

I may not have attended UCSB but I know many people that did and have a long history with the city. Please say a few prayers for everyone affected in this tragedy and any other tragedy that has occurred.

Eating Beyond the Doors of Judgement

Don’t tell me you have avoided a restaurant just by the was the outside appears? Because I sure have.

Growing up I had the immense privilege of dining at nice restaurants. This was because one grandfather had been in the restaurant business and the rest of my family was relatively interested in exploring new places.
We had our fair share of cafes and delis but not without significant research. The one thing I admit we didn’t do was move off the known track of dining options and explore the more hole-in-the-wall joints. (*Granted, there is a lot of research that goes into the selection of restaurants and my dad did an awesome job.)

The other day of was coming home from an impromptu gala with one of my friends. She’s living the NY dream by exploring something new each day or at least each week; thriving off the nightly dance scene, living off coffee, and never (rarely) visiting the same place twice. it was nearing 9 o’clock and we were both ravenous. The Quest bar I had eaten around 6 was decent but not really satisfactory for dinner.

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She recommended a Filipino restaurant that she had walked past before and read solid reviews about. Always up for a challenge and adventure, I agreed and we set off. As we walked up, I was a little skeptical. I admit that I have a problem judging some things by appearance and wasn’t sure what a relatively plain looking and somewhat underwhelming sign would lead to. Oh boy was I mistaken. The moment you walked though the door it was like you a were transported to a restaurant in the tropics or Costa Rica (my only point of reference) with the smell of something rich and flavorful filling your nostrils. The premise was upscaled and revamped Philippine street food.

IMG_4710There’s a sister restaurant (Maharlika) that focuses on more authentic Filipino cuisine as well. We were seated with menus and then one of the hosts (although “host” sounds a bit uppity for this place – we’ll go with locals) dressed in an Aloha shirt came over to sell us on the menu. The way he spoke about each item was as if it was his own precious creation.

NOODLES ~ KALAMANSI ~ PANCIT ~ CHICHARON

We even had the option to have a whole fish – head and all (that one turned me off a bit…still recovering from rabbit and octopus paella two years ago in Barcelona) The minute I read ribs, there was no turning back.

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I listened enthusiastically to the rest of the menu but knew I had decided. I also selected their take on sweet potato fries and salivate as I saw other customers orders waft in front of us.

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We asked for extra sides of the famous banana ketchup – their take on the American classic, which is truly just banana died red with a bit of seasoning. The way one local explained it was that ketchup is such an American item that Filipinos looked to replicate it at home. I guess banana was the way to go. Sorry Mr Heinz. Everything was cooked to perfection. The ribs melted off the bone and I practically licked my plate clean.

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Carmen’s burger looked divine and we bother savored our sweet potato fries, which had also been crisp and flavorful. By the time we had cleared our plates, I was ready for bed. But the question of dessert arose and after hearing their verbal menu, I knew I could make room for a few more bites. Now the epic sundae of fresh fruit and ube ice cream had to be left for another date – maybe after a long run when we could pair it with bottomless mimosas. No, no sundae or flan for us, but rather a single scoop of ube ice cream, as recommended by the house and my friend back home. No regrets here.

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So there are two types of travelers – those who research and those who fly by the seat of their pants. Honestly I’m surprised I’m not more of the latter.  But, like everything else in life, a little dabble in everything and moderation does the soul wonders.

A World of Social Firsts

Do you ever find yourself going through old pictures? Scrapbooks (yes I just went old-school there), Instagram, iPhoto library, or even old Facebook albums?  It’s funny how much we change over the weeks, days, and years.  Also remember those days when we used to post practically everything on Facebook?

Well, jumping on the #totalsocial bandwagon started by Helene in Between & Venus Trapped in Mars, and also found through my new blend (I hope) 🙂 The Blonder Side of Life.

FACEBOOK

Oh Facebook.  This is the social element that has been around longest for me and has certainly changed the most.  Thank you Facebook for truly bringing FOMO into our lives.  I admit, I got a Facebook in high school when it was still slightly rebellious.  It was also around cross country season so a race picture was the obvious choice for my first profile picture.

IMG_4387This was also the time that those status updates were on the rage and it started with one’s name – “Kaitlin is…”  Now of course this meant we had to think of a deep, thought provoking statement that would somehow capture the attention of your classmates who were also procrastinating online.  Not that the procrastination element changed much.  Our posting habits just did.

 CALIFORNIA ENDLESS SUMMER – BLOG

Funny enough I’m coming up on my 2 year anniversary for this blog. As I mentioned last week, I started this blog as a summer project.  It’s evolved into so much more and I love it.  But obviously that would be true since I continue to post with y’all.

 TWITTER

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Definitely arrived on the later side to the Twitter trend but missed out on the “post every single thing you are doing, eating, thinking, posting” trend.  I tend to scroll through and re-tweet other inspirational quotes, links about running, and of course a portal to post my own blog posts.

I tried to find my very first post and either I was quite boring and didn’t post anything or I wasn’t able to scroll back through a mere 1,700 tweets.

INSTAGRAM

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Last but not least is Instagram.  I definitely think that Instagram is my second favorite form of social media, behind my blog.  The fact that a picture can capture an entire event, feeling, moment, and more is unbelievable.  Not to mention it allows a user to shine his or her personality and creativity through one (or many more than that) pictures.

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As I looked back through my photos, it seems I was very into the whole artsy food photography.  Sadly enough I wasn’t cool enough to get likes back then and it wasn’t until this lovely meal that I felt I was established in the IG world. Still don’t know how my cousins have over 80 likes on their photos…

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What are some of your social media firsts?  

The Brooklyn Half Marathon

It’s funny because when I told a few people that I had run the Brooklyn half, they were utterly surprised.  They told me that they hadn’t read anything about it here, or even heard me talk about it.  Well, for once in my life, I’ve been able to keep my mouth shut.  Ok, let me rephrase this – I’m really good about keeping other people’s secrets, but I’m pretty much an open book and so nothing really stays under-wraps for long. 😉

I had a good friend who had signed up on time and was training for her first half.  As I helped train with her – from track workouts to long runs – I threw around the idea of running the race with her.  Since it was sold out, I thought I would be able to get away with just popping in after the start and out before the finish.  Oh I would have been so disappointed if I did this.  They had official check-ins with metal detectors and bib officials.  Good call, Kaitlin.

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But let’s take a few steps back (but really…).  Even though I though about running the race, it wasn’t until last Monday that I actually decided to do it.  I managed to get a bib and when I picked it up on Friday the 16th, I knew I was locked in.  I got to Friday’s happy hour and went right ahead with a glass of water.  When a few coworkers asked, I mentioned that I had decided to run a half marathon the next day.  They laughed and gave me a hard time that of course I would just decided to do such a thing.  Oh the things we runners put ourselves through.

Saturday arrived with a bright and early wake up call.  Oh how I don’t envy the people who get up at 5am every day.  Well, I actually admire you for doing that because boy, it’s tough.

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I met my friend Carmen at the subway only to realize the weekend and pre-normal hour schedule meant scattered and delayed subways. Cool.  We made it onto the 1 train and headed down to Brooklyn.  As you can see the platforms were PACKED and all of us practically pushed our way into the cars.  I felt bad for many of the people at further stations because there was absolutely no room to join and they just had to sit and wait.

There’s something magical and nerve-racking about getting ready for a race.  So many people with their own pre-race routines, different types of runners, etc.

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One of the main reasons I wanted to run this race was to catch a glimpse of Brooklyn.  As you probably notice from most of my posts, I don’t get off the island much.  I wanted to be able to see the different boroughs and what better way to do that than run?

IMG_4337Of course I would be running FAR behind these speedy people.  This was the starting line of the entire race I’m sure they zipped their way through the parks and streets as if it were just a casual long run.

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The last few miles were along the road pictured above, which also happened to remind me of home with the wide streets and houses spread out (relatively) along the road. 

Carmen started in the wave ahead of me so it was just me, the road, and my playlist for the next two hours (hopefully less…). Even though I told Carmen that I usually start out on the slower side, I realized this was far from true.  Adrenaline kicks in and I’m ready to race.  I had a solid 5, 6, and even seven first miles.  I started to amaze myself when I still felt strong around mile 8 and 9 but all good things come to an end and that would be mile 10.  Oh boy, not to be too dramatic but I did feel like crashing or passing out around this time.

I allowed myself to merge over to the aid station and try my luck with a goo and a bit of Gatorade.  I was going to try to persevere without it but knew I needed a bit of energy, however artificial it might be.  Only bummer about this was that I had to slow down to a slight stop in order to choke it down and then it took me a hundred yards or so to get back to speed.

Sure I went to bed thinking, hm, how could I have cut off the rest of that time?  Could I have pushed it more? Skipped out on the aid station? Who knows and as I think back to how I actually felt, I think I did give it my all and I’m proud of that.  Mile 10 was death and I definitely needed that fuel.  I normally don’t eat or drink during races (terrible, I know) since I have a finicky stomach and never practiced eating on the run.

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Well, for not really planning to run the race, I managed to power through those last three miles, onto the Coney Island boardwalk, and a personal best time!  I just barely missed a sub 1:40 time but was very happy with my effort.  That whole frustration with having larger than model quads?  I guess I have to thank my body for carrying me this far!

IMG_4349My oh so lovely announcement of a PR on Instagram – 1:41:05!  I normally don’t do selfies but just couldn’t resist. (P.S. this was so NOT a NYC bagel…disappointment)

IMG_4350 Carmen had brought along a few mini bottles to celebrate the finish.  Not exactly the best (maybe decent for 23-year olds and only costing $1) but fun in theory.  Shoutout to Carmen for her 1st half and running it in 1:40:09!!  She was a sprinter in college and killed it in her first race!

A better way to celebrate (at least in my mind) is with a delicious post-race meal!  Nathan’s seemed to be the location of choice for everyone and their extended family.  The wait was probably 45+ minutes but it was worth it.  Maybe it was my hunger but the hot dog + fries + lemonade hit the spot.

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I’ll have to come back to sample some of the other items and of course write up a decent review.  There’s so much character down in Coney Island that one has to spend almost an entire day soaking it in.

IMG_4364 I was too wrapped up in the end of the race and thrill of the day.  How can you blame me with views like this?  Especially after the winter that never seemed to end.  Oh and I forgot to mention that this comes 12 hours after flash flood warnings.  Yep, east coast you are quite the character.

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As I said, I will definitely be back to do another round of explorations and write-ups but for now, revel in the sun, the surf, and the gorgeous spring day.

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 “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”
– Vincent Lombardi