Life of Late ~ 11.27.15

For some of you, Black Friday has already been a shopping success.  Bless the souls who have been up and at ’em, fighting the sales and fighting the lines.  I made that mistake once and realized crowds were not my thing.  Funny since I maneuver the subway crowds on a daily basis.

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Anyways, after rolling out of bed – with a stomach still full from last night – my sister, her friend Laura, and I headed out to Runyon Canyon for a little hill workout with NP Los Angeles.  Having grown up in Southern California, I really hadn’t spent much time exploring the local hot spots.  Runyon Canyon and Griffith Park are both known for their hiking trails and so it was neat to see what L.A. has to offer.

IMG_3709^^ Always fun to have a friend with me from my NP_NYC family.  Of course I may be biased but I love the New York tribe so much.

Let’s work in a little bit of reverse manner.  Throwing it back a week, I drove down to visit Meghan in her college habitat and completely forgot about this little thing called traffic.  It took me a good 90 minutes to drive down when it only should have taken 30.  Good job.  Some might think it strange for someone to want to go back and stay in the dorm overnight but that just meant free breakfast and boy do they have an excellent spread.  Putting that college tuition at work. We met up for dinner at Eureka! Burger, grabbed some frozen yogurt from the Southern California famous 21 Choices, and then finished the weekend with a nice hike.

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^^ What we call Instagram vs. Reality.  I love those posts where bloggers share a picture from their social media account and actually explain the level of difficulty it took to get that perfect, swoon or drool worthy shot.  Yes, Meghan does deal with my foodie photography but usually gives me a hard time along the way.

The rest of the weekend was spent playing golf, prepping for the week, and helping the parents cook a good dinner.  On Monday I took an early Equinox spin class, thinking that waking up early would help me beat the LA traffic.  Nope, apparently all of Los Angeles is also up at the crack of dawn and it still took me 80 minutes to travel 22 miles to the LA office, which certainly raised my blood pressure.  Later on in the day I picked up a friend from Santa Monica and we braved the two hour commute back home.  I’m glad we had the time to catch up but I swear, that traffic is just a depressant. If I decide to move back to Southern California, I would try my best to live and work as close together as possible because if I had to drive that commute 1x or 2x per day, I may very well go insane.

Monday was actually my only day of work since I had coordinated my vacation time to align with the holidays…hello extra long weekend!

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^^ Tuesday was filled with all sorts of doctors appointments and lunch with a friend from high school.  We had originally targeted Tender Greens for a nice sandwich but when we saw the line around the corner, we opted for Pasadena’s newest addition – Urth Caffe – instead.  While I usually go for the Spanish Latte or Spanish Granita, I was feeling more of the green tea boba combo.

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Bored Panda ~ “18 Real-Life Locations That Inspired Disney” ~ So you know those times where you walk around a foreign city and you feel like it’s right out of a movie?  Well, turns out these gorgeous locations were the creative inspirations FOR various Disney movies.

I’m full of good clips today.  Sit back and relax 🙂

Ok, I may be a new Bieber fan and James Corden fan.  Watching James drive through Los Angeles with various fans had me cracking up.

The Healthy Maven ~ “Life Without Labels” ~ Another great one.

IMG_3637 ^^ I was finally able to get my friend Laura to test out the free fitness movement with me and on Wednesday we ran NP_LAX’s PR Day, which meant zig-zagging the four levels of the Hollywood Bowl twice, enough to feel the burn in both our legs and throats.  Now I just have to make my way to SF to visit her and test out the SF tribe.  #traaaaaaverbal 😉

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^^ Pasadena’s temperatures were well into the 50’s but one should never turn down a trip to the Ice Cream Lab.

IMG_3647 ^^ For the past two years, I have spent Thanksgiving across the coast in the chilly Northeast.  While it was a great experience to be away from home, build a little character, I really missed some of those traditions.  My favorite? The morning ritual of running around town, burning up an appetite for that afternoon.  Since I decided to warm up with my sister and her friend (both college athetles), this was destined to be my view.

IMG_3651 ^^ They were nice enough to humor me and agree to a picture.  Because if there wasn’t a picture, it didn’t happen.  Right?  I tried my best to keep up with them but that was a very long shot for three miles.  Still, I wasn’t too bummed with my effort, a 7:22 average for 3 miles and a total of 5 or so miles for the day with the warmup, cool-down and various gallivanting.

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^^ Connecting with a couple of Thetas.  Siissssssters 😉  (cue jokes from both my mother and sister, I’m sure)

Breakfast (pumpkin waffles made by Meghan and batter by Trader Joes) + Thanksgiving Day Parade + lounging around + food prep and next thing you know, it’s time for TURKEY!

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^^ stuffed for days but possibly ready for round two tonight {coconut sugar cranberry sauce, broiled carrots, rolls, mashers, brown butter sweet potato mash, brussels sprouts w/ pancetta, turkey, gravy, and sourdough stuffing}

IMG_3674 ^^ If we weren’t full enough, we had three pies for 9 people.  My favorite was the chocolate pecan but since it was Thanksgiving, I was obligated to eat some of the pumpkin pie.  Ok, maybe the pumpkin pie was tied for my favorite.  Or the Talenti pumpkin gelato.  Or all of the above.  With full stomachs, we fell asleep to the sound of the first Star Wars movie and there you go, back to the beginning.

Boy, it was great to be home for Thanksgiving.

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Lunch at Little Flower Candy Co.

Well my friends, I completely forgot to share this adorable cafe with you when I was home for the holidays.  So, while I may not be in California, there is always room for a good restaurant review.  Not to mention some sunshiney pictures as we east coasters go through the first few snow storms of the season.

 (source)

Little Flower Candy Co
1422 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91105

~ Cafe ~ Menu ~ About ~ Shop ~

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Little Flower Candy Co is a small little cafe and candy kitchen tucked on the side of the 134 freeway.  Filled with fresh food and delightful cups of coffee, it’s a perfect place to grab any meal of the day, catch up with friends, or soak up the Southern California sun.

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Of course it’s also known for it’s adorable and oh so sweet candy.  Just think, how perfect would these be for hostess gifts to table settings?  Or maybe a treat for yourself.

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White Bean & Prosciutto Salad
$11.50 arugula, baked prosciutto, white beans, avocado, parmesan, lemon thyme vinaigrette.

IMG_6353 Quiche + Salad ($8.50)

IMG_6354Salmon Bowl
$15.00 brown rice, shredded carrots & daikon radish, cucumber relish, micro greens, and ponzu dressing

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“All you need is love…and caramels”

Burgers and Ice Cream in Old Town, Pasadena

We Californians like to say that everything is located about 15-20 minutes away (not factoring in this little thing called traffic) but it just so happens that Old Town, Pasadena truly is just 15 minutes down the road.  Old Town is usually the spot to hang out and catch up with friends.  Sometimes my mom, sister, and I go shopping, grab a bite to eat, or hang out during the New Year’s parade on Colorado Boulevard.

I practically grew up in Pasadena, yet there are a number of historical or iconic buildings and locations that I never really knew much about.  Take Old Town for example.  Apprently it is the original commercial center of Pasadena and was named the “Athens of the West”.  It plays host to Caltech, JPL, the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, and the Norton Simon Museum.  (Note: if you ever watch the Rose Parade, make sure to look out for the giant rose that is displayed on the main wall of the Norton Simon Museum like below)

Now that I live in New York, I don’t have the opportunity to visit Old Town as much.  When I do go, I’m astounded at its transformation.  Just over the last few years, Pasadena has re-arranged some of the businesses, removed some stores and added countless others.  There used to be a time, probably about 10+ years ago, when Old Town was only popular for its movie theatre and a small, but cozy restaurant called Barney’s.  Sadly enough, both are now gone, but Pasadena has done a wonderful job revamping the block and it makes for a wonderful afternoon or evening of window shopping.

There are plenty of parking garages that offer 90 minutes free but if you aren’t in the mood to battle other drivers, try taking the light rail.  Pasadena is connected to Downtown Los Angeles via the Metro Gold Line (Los Angeles’s attempt at public transportation).

When I was home over the holidays, Meghan and I managed to squeeze in a night on the town with a couple of our college friends.  We decided to dine out at Umami Burger, a semi-gourmet burger joint with funky combinations such as braised short rib and truffled aioli or sprouts and a turkey patty.  They even had jumped onto the pumpkin train and offered a beef blend with pumpkin pie spiced mascarpone, tempura Japanese kabocha, roasted garlic aioli, and a coffee infused molasses drizzle.

I’ve picked up a habit of bombarding the waiter/waitress/cashier with questions about the specials and their favorite flavors. It may be annoying but hey, they tend to know what’s up and I never really regret my selection.

DINNER TIME @ UMAMI BURGER
49 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91105

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Got to love the thematic drinks. For those who aren’t familiar with Old Town, it’s located right above the Rose Bowl, in one of the many hearts of Pasadena.

Meghan and I divided and conquered the menu with a Greenbird (Turkey patty, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, green goddess) and Manly Burger (Beer-cheddar, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami house ketchup, mustard spread).

We also decided to skip out on the fries, simply because we HAD to check out this new ice cream shop that makes the ice cream right in front of you! Now, while I try to eat healthy 99% of the time, I sure have a mean sweet tooth. I think it’s this sweet tooth that gets the best of my healthy habits.

Ice Cream Lab
16 S Fair Oaks Ave
~ Locations ~ Menu ~ About ~

First opened in Beverly Hills, this ice cream phenomenon has come to be known as “Liqued Nitrogen Ice Cream”.  This is due to the fact that they pretty much use liquid nitrogen right in front of you to instantly freeze various ingredients into ice cream.

I have seen my fair share of cupcakeries and frozen yogurt joints (including the Southern California famous 21 Choices), and I have to say, the Ice Cream Lab has taken it to a whole new level.  The menu may be small, but the fresh and natural ingredients remove the need for artificial coloring or preservatives that are normally used in ice cream.   Not to mention, the fact that it is made right in front of you, guarantees a fresher and more flavorful treat.

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Meghan went for a salted caramel pretzel combination while I went with the cashier’s recommendation of banilla. Outcome? BEST.ICE CREAM.EVER. The combination of vanilla with the fresh banana and extra crunch of nilla wafers was pure bliss. I just was a bit bummed that I wasn’t able to make it back before my return to NYC.

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Additional Favorites

~ Umami Burger Pita Jungle21 Choices ** needs a post of its own ~ Le Pain Quitoden ~ The Ice Cream LabJake’s Billiards (I have yet to go but my cousins love it!) ~ Barney’s Beanery ~

Thirsty Thursday

Anyone else thinking the same thing?  In this case this post isn’t about booze, but rather my affixation with other liquid beverages that may or may not be considered part of the healthy bandwagon.  I admit, I fell to the trend of kombucha.  It was good for awhile, but the taste and high price wore off after awhile.

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Friday Favorites

A little taste of what I’ve been digging this week.  It’s been fun to test out a few food places, some of them new and others not so new, as I run errands and make my way through the traffic of Southern California.  Honestly, I am NOT a fan of traffic and sadly, it’s making me despise driving.  I have exhausted every radio station, even some of the bilingual ones, and will probably scream the next time I hear Daft Punk’s song about getting lucky or Selena Gomez’s latest musical melody attempt.  Don’t get me wrong, most of the songs on the radio are quite catchy, but there is only so many times they should be played and certainly not simultaneously on multiple radio stations.  Thoughts?

IMG_9297Visiting Megnan at her internship.  Not only does she have a little balance board, but she also had a stand-up desk and an amazing view of Santa Monica.  That should certainly balance out the hour+ drive to work 😉  I was actually on the south side of town to catch up with one of my mentors and get her thoughts on my post-college job search. IMG_9302But, a trip out should be rewarded, don’t you think?  Meghan and I took a quick trip to the food truck row and while I was drooling at some of the choices (even though slightly overpriced…then again, what isn’t these days), I had to go for a juice. Hello JUICEBOX! I’ve been reading how these juices provide the most amount of nutrients for the body because none of the products are cooked or altered.  Instead, you get 100% of the nutrients in one cup.  Seems like a great deal to me.
IMG_9303I was debating between the Citrusbox and Kalebox, but was wary of the beet addition.  I had been less than enthused with the last time I tried beet, so kale it was.  I thought it was a success, but then again I have a slight addiction to weird food combinations.  Meghan’s report was that it was alright, but would need some adjusting too.  I just told her that Kombucha had an even more distinctive flavor, so she was lucky. 🙂 IMG_9305 I’ve also been doing my fare share of cleaning out my room and house.  We are having a garage sale next week and I’ve been trying to get rid of all the junk lovely sentimental items that we have collected over the years.  I’m also helping my mom scrapbook our sports careers, which requires a lot of digging  through old newspaper clippings and picture boxes.  We come from a small town, so even the softball scores would get reported on.  My claim to fame was the fact that I could hit.  Not only that, but I threw right-handed and would bat left-handed.  Tricky, tricky, tricky.  IMG_9307 A trip to Pasadena is NEVER complete without a trip to 21 Choices.  I swear, I could go to this place every day and never get tired of it.  Well, maybe after awhile.  I guess there is such thing as too much of a good thing.

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This little joint is a little like ColdStone Creamery, but eons better.  They have daily flavors of frozen yogurt, along with a couple of regulars.  Then, you are welcome to choose from the many toppings, which they will mix in on a frozen countertop.  They will offer you a taste of your yogurt and if you are satisfied, you proceed to pay and devour the remaining bowl.  If not, they will be happy to try to make your creation again.

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I have been known to sit inside and wait for a customer to refuse their selection because the bowl of heaven will then be offered to the customers in line for free.  Ok, this only happened once when I was simply tasting looking at the day’s flavors.  My parent’s won’t let me forget it though.

IMG_9313This is relatively new; a board of recommended pairings, many of which I wouldn’t even have been able to create on my own.  Sometimes you just need a little help. 
IMG_9316 IMG_9317I went for the “Salty Sailor” complete with cookie dough, peanut butter, and sea salt.  They even let me keep the spoon they used to scoop out the peanut butter.  You see, it’s the little things that make me happy. IMG_9318Meghan happens to be a pro at ordering 21 Choices because she has the privilege to attend Claremont McKenna.  Why do I make this connection?  Well, Claremont is host to TWO 21 Choices, so it can often be a weekly outing, especially since she and her other cross-country friends run so much and work up quite the appetite.  I’d like to think my time on the elliptical works up the same amount of appetite or maybe it’s just my love for ice cream and frozen treats.  IMG_9319As you can see, some things never change.  I’ve been in love with ice cream since a young child.  This stuff is legit, right out of the old-fashioned ice cream machine.  Ah, I also was recently made aware that when we lived in England (granted I lived there from 6 months – 2.5 years old), my grandparents would treat me to an ice cream cone quite often.  This trend seemed to have continued as we all got older and you can always count on them to offer up a scoop.

IMG_9326Rarely do I get to purchase something from Lululemon, but a birthday gift card enabled me to splurge on my very first pair of shorts and I am oh so excited to wear them today as we head to Mammoth Mountain.  Let’s just say they will be getting a lot of use in the future 🙂 I also am loving the new style of bags Lululemon has out for the summer.  Theresa actually got me on the #lululunches bandwagon and I have to say, these bags are perfect for packing all sorts of tupperware away. IMG_9321Maybe my coffee addiction is a little out of hand.  Or not.  This was an attempt to find the perfect beverage – soy vanilla latte.  I promise that when I make the big bucks, I will treat my mom to coffee all the time.  For now, I am eternally grateful for your sharing nature and am pleased to be your coffee buddy 🙂

IMG_9324Last up, I had the chance to visit my high school friend Laura out in Westwood. She took me to one of her favorite places in Santa Monica, Urth Cafee, which has simply some of the best teas/coffees and salads.  I was in seventh heaven with my mixed veggie salad and Spanish Latte Granita, a perfect blend – creamy and sweet.

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Had I taken a look at the breakfast side of the menu, I might have gone that route, but felt a salad was in order.  Yes, salads can be sort of boring, but call me crazy, I just had a craving for a massive plate of vegetables. (I’m fully aware how strange this sounds to some people…go with it).  May I also recommend the scrumptious looking desserts?  Apparently their pumpkin pie is to die for.  Oh goodness, just looking at the menu makes me wish I could eat there more often.  Maybe I’ll resort to making some of the tasty selections from home.  More cost and time-efficient for sure.

Today we are heading up to Mammoth Lakes, one of my favorite places during the summer.  I’ll be sure to pick up a coffee or two 😉 and share some of my favorite places next week.

What are some of your favorite places where you live?  Who knows, maybe I’ll put it on my to-do list and visit one day!