Tuesday, November 19, 2013

October Wrap Up

Even though October ended several weeks ago, I've just now looked back at my October goals to see what I've actually completed. It's taken me a while to get to it, but better late than never! Again, this list wasn't made to be stressed out over, but rather for ideas of fun things to do.

I went to Apple Hill at the beginning of the month with my family, Lauren's family, and Heather. Even though I lugged my camera around all day, I didn't take any pictures...not even with my phone :( Despite my lack of photos, I did have fun. I ate garlic fries, bought tons of apples, and enjoyed a yummy burrito picnic.

While at Apple Hill I bought half of a bushel of mutsu apples. I knew that I wanted to make apple juice and I wanted to find the perfect tasting apples for it. I sampled several apple varieties, knowing that I wanted a sweet tasting one. Even though I could've easily bought apple juice at Apple Hill, where's the fun in that? I got a juicer for Christmas so I was ready for the challenge. I ended up juicing about 25 apples which yielded 50 ounces of juice.I refrigerated the extra juice in mason jars which worked out pretty well. Sadly I only drank half of the juice...I'm thinking I should now throw the rest out since it's been sitting in the refrigerator for over a month...

Shorty after I finished the Urban Cow Half Marathon, I reached 400 miles on my old Asics running shoes, so it was time for a new pair! I was so excited to go to Fleet Feet and be fitted for my next pair. I tried on a handful of different brands and styles, and it turns out I still love Asics. When you buy shoes at Fleet Feet, an employee analyzes how you run and looks at your normal gait to help find the best shoes for your specific feet. I knew that I had low arches, but interestingly enough, I discovered that I also overpronate. I found the Asics GT 2000 to be the most comfortable and last year's model was on clearance, so I bought those instead. While I don't particularly care for black running shoes, I know that I'll be able to get a new pair in a few months and that comfort is more important than appearance when it comes to running shoes. Since buying my shoes I've run about 100 miles in them...300 more miles until the next pair!

As for my huge pile of magazines that's about to take over the apartment...well I read two. Magazines just keep coming, I can't help it. I didn't order any more magazines or renew my subscriptions this Fall, so within the next few months my pile should truly start to shrink. Baby steps.

I really hoped that I'd find inspiration to do crafty things this month, but sadly it didn't happen. Although November is already halfway over, I'm beginning to come up with my November goals and I know I'll have lots of projects on my list for this month.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Urban Cow Half Marathon

Earlier this month, Lauren, Heather, Leti, and I participated in the Urban Cow Half Marathon. I'd never run this race before, but I heard it was a pretty flat course so I was excited to get a PR.

I've been "training" for five consecutive months now (the longest I've ever consistently run) and I feel like I'm already in better shape. I've lost a few pounds, but for the most part I'm still the same size. In January I made a resolution to run at least one mile a day. On my first run I remember realizing how out of shape I really was. I wasn't dying while I was running, but it wasn't an easy feat either. Even though I broke my resolution at the end of January, I got back into running in June and have been consistent with working out since. Now it's a breeze to run a mile and most Saturdays I run upwards of ten miles without feeling dead afterwards.

Anyways...back to the half marathon...

I did end up getting a PR at this race; I improved my time by seven minutes which I'm really happy about. This is the first race I've completed with intervals, and while I feel guilty walking every five minutes, these breaks made the race SO much easier to finish.

This is also the first time I ran a race with my CamelBak. While it's a nuisance to carry an extra few pounds of water on my back, it was awesome being able to hydrate anytime I wanted. Even though the CamelBak enabled me to carry lots of water and snacks, it also caused shoulder pain. I'll have to reconsider running with my CamelBak for the next race; I may end up just running with a water bottle instead. We shall see! 

The majority of the race took place in the Land Park neighborhood in Sacramento. I loved running past all of the cute houses; the miles flew by. Parts of the race also took part in downtown Sacramento which is always a nice area to run through. Plus, how could you not like participating in an event where the finisher's medal is a cow bell?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October Goals

I've decided that I want to start setting goals at the beginning of each month. I want to enjoy completing at least ten activities within a set amount of time. So for now on, on the first of each month, I'll compile and share a list of the ten things I plan on doing. It's not meant to be a challenge; it's meant to be fun.

In celebration of the start of Autumn many of my activities this month revolve around the new season.

1. Go to Apple Hill
2. Carve/decorate pumpkins
3. Make apple juice
4. Sew something
5. Start a knitting project
6. Take a day trip to another city and explore
7. Run 41 miles so I can get a new pair of running shoes
8. Read through a lot of magazines that I already own
9. Make something in celebration of Halloween
10. Start an art wall

Besides these ten things, I also hope to take a lot more pictures. I want to document my goals and my daily life. To me, a new season means a new schedule. I want to make more time in my day to do the things I enjoy and love to do.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Night

...is pizza night!

This week's pizza is made with homemade marinara sauce that we canned several weeks ago. I made the dough from a recipe out of Vegan with a Vengeance, and affixed the whole pie with:
- Daiya vegan mozzarella and cheddar cheeses
- Tomatoes
- Green bell peper
- Black olives
- Onion
- Zucchini
- Yellow squash

 I've always loved pizza, especially when I wasn't vegan or vegetarian. But when I gave up eating cheese, my obsession with pizza didn't it stop; I just had to adapt the traditional Italian dish to my dietary restrictions. For a while I would simply order a vegetarian pizza without cheese. Even though it tasted good, it never truly satisfied my craving. So I tried making my own pizza.

When the homemade pizza idea first came about, we just used store bought pizza dough (from Trader Joes or Whole Foods). Once I felt more comfortable with the whole pizza making process, I found a pizza dough recipe in a vegan cookbook we already owned. I'm sure there are tons of similar recipes all over Pinterest, but I'm happy with the one I've been using, so I'll stick with it. Eventually, I started substituting some of the white flour with whole wheat flour...you know, to make it a little bit healthier. My favorite "cheese" to use is Daiya; I find it tends to melt and taste the best.

The work week always tends to drag on, so we came up with Friday Pizza Night as something to look forward to at the end of a hard, busy week. It's also a good way to use up the last of our produce in preparation for the farmers' market on Sunday. Even if some of the vegetables are getting a little squishy, it won't make a difference once they're cooked on the pizza. It's a win-win; I get to eat pizza and I'm also eating some vegetables.

It's finally starting to get pretty windy and the weatherman says there's a chance of rain tomorrow...bring it on, Autumn! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

The other day I noticed we had two very ripe bananas lying on the counter; obviously no one was planning on eating them. So instead of letting them go to waste, I searched Pinterest for a vegan muffin recipe that calls for bananas. I had a very limited supply of flax (used as a substitute for eggs), and I wanted the muffins to be a tiny bit healthy. They're not cupcakes after all. I stumbled upon this recipe from One Green Planet.

I also didn't have any chocolate chips on hand, but I did have a semisweet vegan chocolate bar that didn't taste so good by itself. So, I cut up the chocolate bar into smaller chunks and used this in place of the chocolate chips. The recipe calls for 1.2-2 cups of chocolate, but I only used 1 cup and it was still a little too chocolate-y for me.

I'm not a big fan of bananas, but I actually really like these muffins. You can't even taste the banana...just the way I like it!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hooray for Saturday

It's Saturday and I couldn't be more happy that it's the weekend. Although I do wish it was Friday afternoon so that I could have an entire weekend again.

I started the weekend off right with homemade vegan pizza, followed by some vegan brownies. The brownies were pretty good, although I think they need more vanilla. I do love vanilla.

This morning I woke up when it was still dark outside. I hate waking up so early. It reminds me of having to wake up super early every Saturday morning for swim meets. Fortunately I didn't have to jump into a cold pool today though. I ran the Lake Natoma loop with SacFit today, and ended up completing 13.1 miles. This is the first time I ran a half marathon without doing so for a medal. Despite my lack of new hardware, I enjoyed it. SacFit set up aid stations about every 4 miles stocked with Pringles, fruit, Gatorade, candy, potatoes, and PB&J sandwiches. I love Pringles and orange Mike and Ikes. Food makes everything better. After our run, I went to Sunflower for lunch...YUM.

Tomorrow will be a day filled with chores and errands. It's going to be laundry central over here. Thankfully though, I love doing laundry. My only wish is that the washer and dryer weren't in the garage. I want a real indoor laundry room! But one day I will own a house with a laundry room, so everything is okay. Then it's off to the farmers' market, Costco, and Red Robin. Did you know Red Robin has pretzel buns now? They're delicious. Try one. Seriously.

And for your enjoyment: TOP THAT

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Glamping: Day Four

Check out time at Schoolhouse Canyon Campground was at 11 AM, so we had to set an alarm on the last day. We woke up at 8 and after showering, packing up the tent, and cleaning our site, we were ready to hit the road by 10. But we didn’t go straight home. There were a few places we just had to visit. 
Our first stop after leaving the campsite was Korbel Winery, just a few miles west of Schoolhouse Canyon. We made it there in time for the first tour of the day. After sampling several champagnes, I ended up buying two bottles: one for me and one for a gift. Korbel also had an amazing deli, so we decided to dine there for lunch. I decided to try the roasted eggplant sandwich and share the Asian slaw with Lauren. The Asian slaw was pretty good; I was just so thankful it was vegan! The sandwich on the other hand…well, it turns out I’m not such a big fan of eggplant. I ended up picking all of the eggplant out, leaving me with a lettuce, onion, and tomato sandwich. I will say though, the bread was really good!

Continuing our journey home, we stopped at the Petaluma Premium Outlets. A glamping trip wouldn’t be complete without some shopping, right? We spent several hours shopping, and I managed to be very selective in my purchases. I bought a pair of jeans from Gap which I love the fit of, and a pair of leggings and a maxi skirt from Cotton On.

We were back on the road for about an hour when we got hungry and needed to find a place for dinner. Heather suggested Vegan Paradice in Fairfield, but sadly it was closed by the time we would have gotten there. So, we opted for a Thai restaurant, Bangkok Paradise. We shared spring rolls, both fried and un-fried for starters. I ordered the vegetarian pad thai with tofu and no eggs for dinner. The spring rolls were delicious; the best spring rolls I’ve ever had! The pad thai was pretty good too; I just wish the sauce was thicker and that there was more of a peanut-y flavor to it. The service was really good and the people there were very friendly.

Shortly after dinner we made it back home to Sacramento. This trip opened all of our eyes to our new-found love for glamping. Before this trip, I had only been camping once. While I do enjoy cooking, I love trying new restaurants when I travel even more. The campsite fees were pretty inexpensive, so we splurged on eating out. I think we’re trying to plan another glamping, perhaps even camping trip for next month, so we’ll see if that happens.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Glamping: Day Three

We woke up without any real plans for the day. Because we didn’t bring that much food and we were planning on eating many of our meals out, we knew we better start figuring out where we wanted to go for lunch so that we could plan the rest of our day around that. Yes, my life is organized around food…sad, but true. We all agreed on Indian food, and Heather, being the queen of Yelp, found a restaurant in Windsor.

It turns out the restaurant we planned on going to really wasn’t Indian, which we should’ve been able to figure out by its name, “Himalayan Restaurant”. Thankfully Himalayan and Indian cuisines overlap one another quite a bit. We decided to share several appetizers and entrees. Their menu was nice because they labeled which items were vegan, facilitating the ordering process. We ended up ordering vegetable samosa, vegetable pakora, and dal (lentil soup) for starters. I’m not a big fan of samosa, but for a dish I don’t normally like, it was really good. Pakora on the other hand is my all time favorite Indian/Himalayan food. Their pakora was excellent, awesome crispiness and flavor! The dal was also really good; together we demolished all of the appetizers. For lunch we collectively ordered: chana saag, tofu saag vegan, aloo cauli vegan, and garlic naan. Even though naan isn’t vegan, I have a really hard time passing it up. I enjoyed everything we ordered, especially the chana saag. The service was also superb!  

 Vegetable Samosa

Vegetable Pakora


Chana Saag

After lunch we walked around downtown Windsor. We stopped at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe where they sell every candy imaginable. To my surprise, I escaped with only a bag of sour jelly beans. Lauren was really looking forward to visiting a yarn store on our glamping trip. Oddly, we couldn’t find any yarn shops in Windsor. Luckily though, we found a few on Yelp in Santa Rosa. So off to Santa Rosa we went!

We were planning on going to Cast Away to look at yarn, but once we arrived we discovered a carnival was taking place and we would have to pay the carnival entry fare just to look at the store… at $10 a person with no desire to participate in carnival activities, no thanks. Back on our phones we went in search of other yarn stores in Santa Rosa. We found several, but after calling the shops to verify their hours of business, we learned that they had either gone out of business or they weren’t open on Sundays. Double fail! After more searching we located a yarn shop in Sebastopol. Even though we spent the entire previous day in Sebastopol, we decided to go back…the things we do for yarn.

It took us 20 minutes to get to Balls & Skeins, but it was well worth the numerous phone calls, Yelp/Google searches, and miles of driving. The owner was very nice and helpful. Lauren bought two skeins of MadTosh, and I bought a skein of Nichole yarn in the “Janice Joplin” colorway. I wanted to get something unique to Sebastopol or at Least Sonoma County. I couldn’t find anything made locally, but I’d never seen Nichole yarn before, so to me it was still unique, and I love the colors and weight of the yarn!

After driving around Windsor, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol all day we were exhausted, but it was our last night before having to go back home, so we didn’t want to waste it by napping. Once we got back to the campsite we started a campfire. We used the remainder of the Duraflame logs the previous night, so we had to start a fire and keep it burning using only matches. It took a few tries and a lot of matches, but we did it! I found it worked best to gather a bunch of small twigs and make a nest of them in the center of the fire pit. Using several matches, we lit various areas of the twig nest until the majority of it caught flame. Slowly, we added larger logs, making sure not to accidently put the fire out. It was a very proud moment for all of us :)

Even though we weren’t able to find vegan marshmallows, a glamping trip would not be complete without s’mores. Because Marissa isn’t vegetarian/vegan, she still roasted regular marshmallows. Despite the lack of vegan marshmallows, we made vegan s’mores with graham crackers and rice chocolate. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to partake in any roasting activities, but I still had a blast eating my chocolate! For dinner, we polished off the rest of the bean and rice burritos and grilled the leftover pizza from the previous day’s lunch. (The pizza was much better grilled.)

Day four of glamping coming up…     

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Glamping: Day Two

Before we left for Guerneville I looked up various vegan restaurants around the area. The one place that I just had to try was Slice of Life in Sebastopol. The majority of their menu was vegan and they offered a wide variety of food, so I was really excited to go there. We planned to spend the second day of our trip in downtown Sebastopol walking around and browsing cute shops.

When we woke up in the morning, we took our time getting ready. One of the best parts of the entire trip was the fact that there were no alarms forcing us to wake up at a certain time. The muffins and energy balls that we baked beforehand were awesome to have on hand, as we didn’t have to worry about cooking breakfast. Also, this way each person was able to eat whenever she wanted, without having to wait for everyone else.

We left the campsite en route to Sebastopol in the late morning. It took us half an hour to get there which wasn’t bad as the various vineyards were pretty to look at, but Marissa started getting car sick so it wasn’t that fun. We spent the day touring a small area of downtown; we walked around a main street encompassing several blocks full of shops and unique eateries. Best of all, or so I originally thought, we got to have lunch at Slice of Life! We were starving by the time we got there. After looking at the menu for quite some time, we decided to share a large pizza with vegan cheese, “pepperoni”, olives, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. I ordered the nutburger, Heather ordered blueberry pancakes, Lauren ordered the meatball sub, and Marissa just wanted pizza. My nutburger was pretty good, especially since I added “bacon”. However, the meatball sub and pizza could have been better. The sandwich had way too much “meat” and not enough marinara sauce. It had good flavor, but the proportions were off. The pizza crust was good, but it seemed like they didn’t even attempt to melt the cheese. I do admit it is a lot harder and more time consuming to melt vegan cheese than dairy cheese, but for a restaurant that specializes in vegan cuisine, I expected more.

Vegan nutburger with "bacon"
Vegan "meatball" sub

Pizza with vegan mozzarella, "pepperoni", olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic

After lunch we walked around downtown for a few more hours. We stopped in a shop dedicated to herbs and teas which was pretty interesting. Because I didn’t have any ailments that I needed a remedy for, I picked up a bar of orange coconut scented soap. I love the smell of citrus and coconut, so when they’re combined it’s really hard for me to pass up a good product. After, we stopped at Copperfield’s Bookstore that had a large table of clearance books. I bought the largest, most interesting novel I could find, “The Lonely Polygamist”. It ended up being a book that I got hooked onto, so it was well worth it. A few shops down from the bookstore was Sebastopol Cookie Company. They offered two vegan desserts: a coconut chocolate bar and an amaretti cookie. I chose that latter, and surprisingly I loved it. I had no idea what amaretti was nor tasted like, but it was delicious and I wish I bought more than one.

 On our way back to the campsite, we made a quick pit stop to Target to pick up some necessities. We needed tongs for grilling leftover pizza and burritos, and Marissa forgot her shower shoes. I also bought a sweater…completely non-camping related, but it was on sale!

We ended the day with another campfire and our notorious bean and rice burritos for dinner. The night wouldn’t have been complete without several hours of card games as well. Pounce is the best card game ever invented!

Day three of glamping coming up…

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Glamping: Day One

Two weeks ago I went camping, or should I say glamping. Yes that’s right, “camping for glamorous girls”. Lauren, Marissa, Heather, and I headed over to Guerneville for a few days. While we did sleep in a tent, we ate the majority of our meals out at various restaurants in nearby cities and spent a large part of the days outside of the campsite. We left for Guerneville Friday morning and returned to Sacramento Monday evening. I decided to blog about my glamping experience as a short series, one blog post per each day of camping.

Lauren found Schoolhouse Canyon Campground online, and noting its proximity to larger cities, we all agreed to camp there. I really liked the campground; I could not have asked for a cleaner campsite with all of the necessary amenities. Even though Schoolhouse is family friendly, they have an adult-only area that’s usually kid-free throughout the day…very much appreciated! There were several bathroom stalls with full plumbing and coin operated hot showers as well.

Everyone agreed that we would go out to eat a lot so that we wouldn’t have to cook while we were there. We already had a car full of people and camping gear, and didn’t really have room for cooking supplies. We did make sure to bring lots of snacks though. Marissa and Heather were in charge of bringing individual boxes of chocolate soy milk and vegan muddy buddies. I’ve never had muddy buddies before, but they’re so good! Lauren, Lauren’s mom, and I spent the night before our trip baking blueberry muffins, bean and rice burritos (homemade tortillas too!), and energy balls. We ended up eating the muffins and energy balls every morning for breakfast before venturing out of the campsite.

We had spent the day before in a desperate quest for vegan marshmallows to no avail. The last time I checked, Whole Foods carried two brands: Sweet & Sara and Dandies. But all of the Whole Foods in the greater Sacramento area didn’t have any in stock. So on our way to Guerneville we stopped off at the Whole Foods in Santa Rosa praying that they had a bag left…no such luck. Apparently there’s a problem in Dandies production; that’s the rumor anyway.

While at Whole Foods in Santa Rosa we decided to have lunch. I love buying premade food from there; there are always so many vegan options to choose from. I ended up getting the lentil soup and a salad, as I’ve been wanting to try their vegan Caesar dressing. The soup had a really weird flavor that I didn’t really care for, and the Caesar dressing was alright, but I still definitely prefer Annie’s Goddess dressing.

We got to the campsite around 4 in the afternoon. It only took the four of us girls half an hour to set up the tent, followed by the guy across from us mentioning, “I had my doubts, but it looks like you girls were able to set up the tent”. Yes sir we did! After setting everything up, we walked across the street to a private river access. This point in the river was really shallow and we had no desire to wade in the water, but the access point did offer a nice view and a half of a mile of nice “trails”. We ended up playing cards for the rest of the evening (after napping of course) while sitting around the fire we built (thanks Duraflame!). Each campsite has their own fire pit too…how cool is that? For dinner we devoured some of the premade burritos, which instantly became a popular nightly occurrence.  

Day two of glamping coming up…

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Chunk, Chocolate Swirl Vegan Ice Cream

...and the award for the longest title ever goes to this post right here!

Anyways, for the past year I've been dying to get an ice cream maker so I could make different types of vegan ice creams and sorbets. For my birthday, Lauren got me a Cuisinart Stainless-Steel Ice Cream Maker and I've been so excited to try my hand at various ice cream concoctions. I found this on Pinterest, so I decided to start my research there.

I learned that fat is needed to achieve the desired creamy texture of real ice cream. As much as I dislike it, coconut milk is the best vegan ingredient for this needed fat. Because I don't really care for the taste of coconut, I added extra vanilla to mask its flavor.

I decided to begin my ice cream adventure with a recipe from Edible Perspective. I did however use store bought peanut butter, and I used vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean. I also used regular refined sugar instead of coconut sugar, and left out the coconut oil from the chocolate mixture. I spread out my peanut butter mixture thinner than the recipe called for, so I didn't get true chunks of peanut butter in my ice cream, but it was still really good. If you leave out the chocolate and peanut butter, this recipe also serves as a good vanilla base that I'll be using in the future for different combinations of add-ins. I'm thinking cookie dough!

This recipe made about 1.5 quarts, so I ended up with a lot leftover. I also received an insulated ice cream container for my birthday so that I can freeze the extra ice cream. It's awesome, mainly because it's orange, but also because it allows me to travel with my ice cream. I drove 45 minutes with the ice cream in the container, and it was still frozen by the time I got to my destination. Very cool if you ask me! Did you catch that pun?


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wicked 'Wich

Today I went to lunch at Wicked 'Wich in Sacramento's Downtown Plaza. I've been wanting to try their food as soon as I read their menu and discovered they offer several vegan options (they have omnivore food too). Not only are there multiple vegan choices, but their vegan patties are made from scratch! I always appreciate companies that support veganism and so I was really excited to try their food.

I selected the "Tree Hugger" sandiwch for lunch, with a side of black pepper garlic fries to share. The "Tree Hugger" is served on sourdough bread with a scratch-made vegan patty (tofu and veggies I think), vinaigrette cabbage slaw, hand cut fries, Daiya vegan cheese, and secret vegan "Wich sauce".

The sandwich was so good! The cheese was perfectly melted (I always have problems trying to get vegan cheese to melt all the way), the bread was toasted just right, and the overall flavor of the meal was tasty. I had just finished running 9.5 miles so I had a huge appetite, and I was afraid I'd still be hungry after my sandwich. Boy was I wrong. I couldn't even finish it all; I had like one bite left, but I was stuffed! That's a good thing ;)

Even though my sandwich had fries in it, Lauren wanted to try the black pepper garlic fries. I LOVE garlic, so of course I couldn't pass those up either. I think it's awesome that they cut their own potatoes for the fries and cook all of their food from scratch. You can definitely taste the difference between frozen and fresh food. The garlic fries were really good too, just a little on the oily side.

Their restaurant is located in the downtown mall food court, so it's a little out of the way. They had great customer service and delicious vegan food, so I'll definitely be coming back.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy August!

I'm getting super excited for the next few weeks!

Camping in Guerneville
Making lots of birthday presents
Running, running, and more running
More baking and cooking
Sewing clothes
Knitting colorful cowls
Cross stitching my Summer Sampler
Bunco night 

And I have a new goal: be able to do a round off back handspring. I've got the round off down, now I just need to learn how to do a back hand spring...

...andddd, check out this cool picture I drew...I'm very proud of myself :)


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

23 Things

Since I'm turning 23 today, I decided to share 23 somewhat interesting things about my current self...

1. This is the first year that I actually made a birthday wish list.
2. I can't watch scary movies or shows. I love the plots of thrillers, but I'll have nightmares for weeks. I love Criminal Minds and Law and Order: SVU, but even those shows give me nightmares.
3. I got a toe ring for my birthday last year, and I haven't taken it off since.
4. I've only been camping in a tent once. I'll be going for a second time at the end of August though!
5. I love doing the laundry. I love separating clothes into piles, loading them into the washing machine and dryer, and putting them away. I just love washing clothes. I had a front loading washing machine for a year in college and I loved sitting in front of it, watching the colorful clothes spin. Seriously.
6. I like to quote "Mean Girls", even though it annoys people. I can't help it sometimes.
7. I'm afraid of almost all animals.
8. Someday I want to be able to do handstand pushups.
9. When I find a shirt that I really love, I want to buy it in every color.
10. I'm allergic to almost every tree, grass, and cats. I'm also allergic to soy, wheat, corn, and most nuts, according to a blood test. I tried eliminating those foods from my vegan diet and I felt like I was going to die after a week, so I still eat all of those foods. I carry an EpiPen around, just in case.
11. My favorite salad dressing is Annie's Goddess Dressing. So good!!
12. I have a callous on my middle finger of my right hand from writing too much in school. 
13. I like the volume on my car radio to be on an even number.
14. I recently heard that there's a gene that causes people to have dry earwax, if they are recessive for this trait. Recessive people also don't have bad body odor. Guess what? I have dry earwax. I don't smell bad. Very cool! Don't believe me? Look!
15. I'm currently eating bananadoodle cookies.
16. I get to buy new running shoes once I've put 400 miles on my current ones. Only 170 more miles!
17. I'm pretty sure I have flat feet.
18. All my cousins on my mom's side are boys; all my cousins on my dad's side are girls.
19. I broke my toe jumping off a moving jet ski.
20. I used to hate hummus. Now, I can't eat a sandwich without it.
21. I have two blue colored moles. I'm an alien.
22. I love potatoes. French fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, tater tots, hash browns, potato chips...you name it, I love it.
23. I played basketball for an Asian league when I was 15. I had never played before but I was the starting center and leading rebounder because I was the tallest one on the team. I'm 5'4''. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Davis Moo-nlight

On Saturday Lauren and I ran the Davis Moo-nlight half marathon with her mom, Leti. This was hardly planned. Lauren had been talking about how she wanted to run this race for several months, but I kept telling her that I didn't think we were ready for another one yet. I didn't want to run an evening half marathon in the middle of summer. Unsurprisingly, Lauren won that battle and we signed up for the half marathon less than a week before race day. I didn't feel physically or mentally prepared for this one.

We actually ran this same race last year; it was my first half marathon. Ever. I had the worst experience last year. I didn't train at all for the 13.1 miles, and ended up having to walk a lot of the race because my knees were killing me. Since I was one of the last runners throughout the course, many of the aid stations ran out of Gatorade and I was running in complete darkness the majority of the night. To make matters worse, all of the post-race booths had packed up by the time I finished so I didn't get to even bask in the glory of all the complimentary snacks. I did however get a really cool glow-in-the-dark medal though!

Last year: Pre-race

This year was a little better. The half marathon was split into two waves, with the slower runners starting first. Based on my fastest half marathon time, I could have run in the latter wave, but I chose to run in the first wave so that I would finish earlier in the night. That was the best decision of the night. I was able to get Gatorade at all of the aid stations this year and was able to enjoy the post-race booths. It also greatly helped that I carried a water bottle with me. Some of the aid stations even filled it up when I got low on water :) I tried Honey Stinger Chews for the first time, about two chews every two miles, and while they tasted really good, I don't think they helped my endurance and stamina that much. I also ended up taking a vanilla PowerBar PowerGel around mile 10. I now know that vanilla is my least favorite flavor. It tastes like yogurt which many people may like, but not me. I do really like the consistency of the PowerBar PowerGels much better than Gu though.

Even though Lauren and I were able to run the majority of our previous half marathons, we ended up walking about 3 miles this race. I think it was the heat at the beginning that killed us. That, and the fact that we ran 6 additional miles that morning. Oh well.

This year: Pre-race

This year: Post-race

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Graduation Dress

Last year, I took a sewing class called "Costume Construction" during my final quarter of college. The majority of the class had never threaded a needle before, let alone use a sewing machine, so there was a wide range of skill. For our final projects, we were let loose and given the freedom to select any pattern to make for ourselves with fabric of our choice. Since graduation was approaching, I wanted to sew myself a graduation dress.

I took to the internet to find a pattern I wanted to use; something I hadn't done before. I stumbled upon Grainline and browsed through her pattern shop. The moment I saw the Kat Strapless Dress, I knew that was the dress I wanted to make.

I ended up purchasing three patterns: the dress, the Scout Woven Tee, and the Tiny Pocket Tank.

Lauren and I spent an entire day fabric shopping in San Francisco. I had the idea embedded in my mind that I wanted needed a floral rayon for the main fabric of the dress. I finally found what I had been searching for at our last stop. I spent forever trying to pick the perfect colors of solids that would go well with the floral print. Luckily our classroom had a large supply of boning, so all I needed to get after I selected my fabric was interfacing, which wasn't so hard to pick out.

The class met for one hour, three times a week, but I also spent a lot of time out of class working on my dress. All in all, my dress took me about 40 hours to complete, including the printing/taping/cutting of the pattern. I know that seems like a lot of time, but it was the first garment I sewed for myself from a pattern.

The pattern was pretty easy to follow, although I am thankful I had lots of help from my professor with the boning in the bodice and inserting the zipper. It turns out using boning isn't hard at all, but it does look pretty scary if you've never attempted it before.

I love my finished dress, but I wish I made a smaller size. Throughout the graduation ceremony, I was constantly readjusting because my dress kept falling down...yikes! Needless to say, I haven't worn the dress again, but once I work up enough courage to take out the zipper and reinsert it, I'm going to take in my dress so that I'll be able to wear it much more.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I did it...

I registered to run the California International Marathon in December. I'm crazy, I know.

At least I have 5 months to train for the race. I started Sacfit with the hope of maybe running more than a half marathon. So I bit the bullet and took the first step.

Sacfit started in early June with a short pace run, so that we could get placed in groups based on our physical fitness level. Our heart rates following our run were factored into our average split times. I'm not a fast runner and it doesn't help that I'm out of shape, so I was placed into a slower pace group. The following week I went out and ran with that group, but I didn't feel like I put any effort into that run. It felt more like a casual fast walk than a workout to me. I talked with the coaches afterward, and together we decided that I should run with a slightly faster group next time. So I'll see how the new pace group goes on Saturday.

On Tuesday we ran stairs and two days later, my calves are still burning. I. Hate. Stairs.

While I'm excited to complete 26.2 miles, I'm also really nervous. I've already told a lot of people that I'm training for a marathon, and so now I have to prove to myself and everyone else that I really can do it. There's no turning back now. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Graduation Season

Congratulations to my brother Frank for graduating from high school and my sister Marissa for graduating from college! Wahoo!

Two of my siblings graduated last weekend...yes, on the same day. Frank's graduation was in Sacramento and Marissa's was in Moraga, and both of the ceremonies were in the morning. Unfortunately, because it's a one and a half hour drive between the two locations, I wasn't able to attend both. I ended up going to Marissa's graduation with my mom, Lauren, several aunts and uncles, and cousins.

The graduation ceremony was okay. I mean, it's a three hour presentation...how good can it be? I didn't even like my graduation ceremony. I will admit, the weather was really nice, so I can't complain that much.

Following the ceremony, we all went out to lunch at Lark Creek in Walnut Creek. Lauren and I looked at the menu beforehand, and reading that they would be "happy to accommodate your specific dietary requests", believed that we would have several entrees to choose from, or at least alter to make vegan. However, our waiter wasn't very happy to accommodate us when we mentioned we were vegan. They had a vegetarian burger on the menu that sounded really good, but the veggie patty contained cream. I was going to order some pasta and marinara with sauteed veggies, but the pasta is made with eggs. We were informed that most of the salads can be made vegan, but I had high hopes for this restaurant and I didn't want to settle for a salad. Our waiter admitted that the only other vegan option was the vegetable platter. How descriptive, I know. So Lauren and I both ordered that, but we didn't hesitate to add that we didn't like mushrooms or eggplant. I was pleasantly surprised to see my entree when it arrived. They whipped us up roasted potatoes with sauteed asparagus, green beans, and peas covered in a garlic-y olive oil sauce. Despite the initial frustration, it was seriously delicious.

After lunch, we all went to The Olde San Francisco Creamery next door. They had several sorbet flavors, but I settled on the orange-passion fruit. I got half way through my dessert when I realized that the waiter brought me mango-peach instead, but I was okay with that mistake. My mom ordered orange-passion fruit sorbet as well. I tasted hers and it was so tart. I was so happy that the waiter got my order wrong.

Lauren came up with an amazing idea for Marissa's graduation gift. We bought Dr. Seuss' "Oh, the Place You'll Go", and had all my family members and some friends write a message on random pages throughout the book. She also received a Punky Jane necklace to go along with the theme. Marissa said this was the best present she's ever got. Mission accomplished :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Did I Get Myself Into?

Last night I signed up for the Sacfit training program. *Insert applause and nervous laughter*

Ultimately, by December, I should be able to run the California International Marathon (CIM). Although I do plan on completing all of the training, I'm still unsure if I will participate in the actual marathon. I figure, if anything, I'll get more exercise in, and I'll be able to crush my half marathon time by October. Hopefully.

The past few weeks I've been running a lot more than I have in the past, thanks to Lauren and Leti, and the Nike+ app. Lauren and I ran together almost every evening or morning. Leti would join us on Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings. Running with other people really helps me stay on track and holds me accountable, which is one of the reasons I decided to sign up for Sacfit. I refuse to run without my phone attached to me. One of my favorite parts about running is analyzing and reviewing my completed runs with the Nike+ app. No joke. After every run I spend a good solid ten minutes just gazing at the route I ran; I become fixated on my split times. Then when I hit the "done" button, I like to watch my total miles increase. If I don't have access to this app, I seriously won't run. I don't want to run any distance and not have it be counted towards my total miles. Yes, I am that person.

Anyways...the Sacfit program starts on June 15th, and is held every Tuesday and Saturday until the CIM on December 8th. The best part about the group is that on the first day you determine which pace group you should be in, based on a one to three mile run. Eventually the majority of your training runs will be conducted with your pace group. I think this component is really going to help me reach my half marathon time goal. If I can keep up with my pace group, I think I'll pursue the CIM challenge. Maybe.

Lauren, Leti, and I have been talking about signing up for Sacfit for awhile, but now that I've actually signed up and paid, it's real. And now that I've blogged about it, it's even more real, if that's possible.

Friday, May 10, 2013

American River Parkway Half Marathon

This past Saturday, Lauren and I completed the American River Parkway Half Marathon. I still haven't gotten good about training, but I did run a few times during the week prior to the race. Baby steps.

The entire race was on the bike trail, which I really liked. I grew up near the bike trail and now I can recognize many of the landmarks, which really helped the 13 miles go by quicker. I was running at record pace (for me) up until mile 10, then the heat really got to me. I guess the heat was getting to everyone else too. I saw several ambulances and firetrucks taking runners away before they were able to finish the race. I didn't want to have another incident, so I thought it best to walk a little bit. I think I walked about .25 miles, which set me back a few minutes. But I'm okay with that. I rather finish the race a little slower than not finish at all.

I carried a PowerBar Gel and a Gu Energy Gel with me this time; both were mandarin/tangerine flavors. Before the race I had decided that I was going to consume both of them while I was running, even if I didn't feel like I needed them. I figured even if I didn't need them, they would only help me more. So, I planned on eating? drinking? one of them around mile 6, and the last one around mile 10. After reading the packages I discovered you're supposed to drink water with them, hence I had to wait for water stations. I ended up drinking the PowerBar Gel around mile 6.5 and the Gu Energy Gel around mile 10.5. Both times I split the gu's with Lauren. I preferred the PowerBar Gel because it wasn't as thick as the Gu Energy Gel. But Lauren liked the Gu Energy Gel better because it's thicker. It's a toss up.

We did end up beating our personal records, even though we did walk a bit. My final time was 2:44:29.21, which is ten minutes faster than my previous best. So I'm happy with that.

We're considering running the Davis Moo-nlight Half Marathon in July. We ran this race last summer, but I didn't care for the course too much. The race starts in the evening, so the majority of the race is run in the dark...on the trails. Personally, I didn't think the course was that safe. But now that our times have decreased by about 40 minutes, perhaps we wouldn't be running in the dark for so long. We did get a cool glow-in-the-dark medal though...so I'll consider it :) 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Capital City Classic

This past weekend, I ran the Capital City Classic 10 mile race with Lauren, my sister Marissa, and her friend Heather. Let me just say- 10 miles is SO much easier than 13. Fainting at the end of my last half marathon made me afraid to run this race. I was scared to feel the fatigue and lack of energy I experienced before, but I kept reminding myself that this race was over 3 miles shorter. And boy did those 3 miles make a difference.

I kept telling myself that I was going to start running and training again once my knee felt better after my fall. The pain did completely subside about two weeks later; I just never started running again. Oops. A week before this race though, I knew I needed to run a little bit so my knees wouldn’t be so achy after 10 miles. So the Monday before the race I ran a 5k, and I ran another one the following day. That Thursday I ran 4 miles, and stopped my training there. I should have started running again weeks ago, I know. My bad. 

At the Shamrock’n half, I noticed a lot of people going through energy gels throughout the race. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give them a try. So this time I bought two different brands: PowerBar Gel and Gu Energy Gel, and carried one of them in my iPhone armband throughout the entire race, just in case I needed a pick-me-up. I thought I would end up using one of the energy sources around mile 8 (where I started to feel like I wanted to quit last time). Race volunteers were also handing out Gels right before miles 5 and 7. I was tempted to grab another, just in case I felt like dying towards the end of the race. But as it goes, because I carried one in my armband (which caused chaffing), I didn’t end up needing it. I felt tired, but not nearly as horrible as I did during the Shamrock’n half. So I still have no idea what the Gels or Gu’s taste like.  

The four of us have completed several runs together before. Marissa and Heather always stick together, and I always run with Lauren. Lauren and I originally set a goal of under two hours for this race, and then later decided that 2 hours and 10 minutes is more realistic for us. Fortunately, we beat our final goal with a time of 2:09:43.72, and we ran the entire race (another goal accomplished!). Next up in the running world for me: the American River Parkway Half Marathon on May 4th. I hope to be better about training for this race by following the last two weeks of the training program I had started for the Shamrock’n half. So far, so good!  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chipotle: Vegan Style

Chipotle is one of my favorite places to eat at, especially when I'm dining with my carnivorous family. Seriously, my brothers love meat and a meal isn't complete without it. So if I'm planning on going out to eat with my family, Chipotle always ends up on my list of suggestions. There's plenty of meat for the others, and I have plenty of vegan options to work with.

I have a "usual" that I always order: a vegetarian burrito bowl with brown rice, extra black beans, grilled fajita veggies, mild salsa, corn salsa, and lettuce. But times have changed. A new era has begun.

Chipotle now offers sofritas at all of their Northern California locations. I've found that the shredded tofu braised with chipotle chiles, roasted poblanos, and other spieces is an excellent addition to my "usual". A few years ago Chipotle was testing out vegan/vegetarian chicken. I thought the chicken was alright and I would probably order it again every once in a while, but apparently other people didn't care for it since the item didn't stay on the menu. Luckily though, the sofritas are now a permanent addition and I'll most likely order it all the time. I've already been to Chipotle twice in the past week just for this item. The sofritas remind me a lot of ground beef; they're a little spicy, but still super tasty.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter 2013

Since I haven't written that many blog entries yet, it was really easy to locate last year's Easter post. I realized that my family and I like to stick to tradition. We had brunch at Arden Hills again, and took our obligatory picture with the Easter bunny. Being vegan, it's not always easy to find hearty food from an omnivore's menu. Luckily though, this buffet had more vegan-friendly selections than most places. I loaded up on pineapple, roasted potatoes, and salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. I also asked for sauteed spinach, onion, and bell peppers from the omelet station. I grabbed some plain pretzels and graham crackers from the chocolate fountain setup for dessert.

 Abby, you'll thank me for this one day. Maybe.

Because we are already dressed up for this occasion, my siblings and I always persuade our parents to take a family picture that will hopefully be our Christmas card picture at the end of the year. There should be at least one good picture to choose from, right?

After brunch, Lauren and I went to her mom's house for Easter dinner. We spent the afternoon watching DIY network and "helping" prepare dinner. I always love going over to Leti and Dan's house...they always make an effort to have delicious vegan food. For us vegans, we had Gardein stuffed turkey with gravy, scalloped potatoes, sauteed green beans with slivered almonds, steamed broccoli, and garlic bread. YUM! The potatoes were my favorite...of course!

Next it was time for our annual Easter egg hunt, wahoo! Each year Lauren and I fill eggs for each other, and we take turns hiding the eggs. This is probably my favorite part about Easter. Yes, I know I'm 22. Still. It's so fun to camouflage the eggs. (Put the green colored eggs in plants, put the white eggs behind the blinds, etc.) I'm pretty sure I found all of my eggs before Lauren...what are best friends for anyway? :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Shamrock'n Half Marathon

Last Sunday Lauren and I ran our second half marathon! Wahoo!!!

My one resolution for this year was to run at least one mile a day, everyday. January was great. I felt so pumped at the beginning that I even registered to run a half marathon in March. However, my running high didn't last long. The last week of January I had the stomach flu (eww), which prevented me from running for a few days. There was no way I could run; I felt horrible. But once I did start feeling better, going to the gym everyday wasn't a priority anymore. Thus, I hadn't run since like January 28. I kept telling myself that I would start running again to train for my half marathon, but I never did. I even started the year off following a 12-week training program...

Despite my lack of thorough conditioning, this half marathon was so much easier and felt much better than the one I ran in July. When I ran that half marathon, I ran a total of maybe 5 times that entire year, haha! So even though I only ran for less than a month leading up to the Shamrock'n half marathon, it was a lot more training than I had put in before.



Okay, so I fell. I was literally 20 feet (if that) from crossing the finish line when I fainted. I was running at full speed (as fast as my legs could carry me after 13 miles), and I ended up on my knees.

Regardless of my graceful fall, I managed to beat my previous half marathon time by about 28 minutes, and I reached my goal of finishing under 3 hours! All's well that ends well?

Sooooo...I've already registered to run a 10 mile race in April and my third half marathon in May. My left knee is still too sore to run, but hopefully I'll be able to start training again by Tuesday. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stitch Marker Swap

This past weekend Lauren and I attended Stitches West in Santa Clara. For those who have never heard of this event, it's essentially a HUGE yarn convention where thousands of knitters, crocheters, weavers, and anyone else who enjoys yarn, gather to take classes and/or shop the vendors' booths. But I'll post more about the actual event later.

Ravelry is an excellent site, containing many free and for-purchase crochet and knit patterns. Mostly everything I knit comes from patterns I've seen on this site. More recently however, I discovered the "groups" feature which allows any member to join and start a discussion based on the topic of the group. THANK YOU LAUREN FOR FINDING THE STITCHES WEST GROUP and urging me to join. Lauren also read in a discussion thread through the Stitches West group about a Ravelry member who was hosting a stitch marker swap at the event. The thought of making swaps and scouting out people to trade with quickly brought me back to my days years of being a Girl Scout. I have fond memories of swapping with other girls years ago, so I immediately jumped on the idea to make and swap stitch markers with fellow yarn-loving companions.

All of the potential swappers were notified that approximately 100 other swappers would be in attendance. Thus I knew I HAD to make 100 swaps as I was bound to trade with everyone! I was very adamant that I wanted to use up some of the crafting supplies we already have to keep the cost of production down. After hours of brainstorming, Lauren and I decided to make stitch markers out of clay. Many people chose to use beads for their stitch markers, so we wanted to create something really different and unique. Lauren chose to assemble different colored birds, and I dabbled in sculpting rubber duckies.

I started by molding the clay into two different sized balls: the smaller ball for the head and the larger ball for the duck's body. I next rolled the larger ball into a shape that somewhat resembles a boat (that's the best description I could come up with, sorry...). I used a plastic knife to score the bottom surface of the head and the top surface of the body so that the two pieces would stick together better. With a sliver of orange clay, I added an orange beak onto the head. I then stuck a pin (bought at Michael's) in each duck and baked them in the oven.

I had a horrible incident where I scorched 40 ducks to death by turning up the oven temperature too high. Seriously...they were black. I was devastated. But besides that, everything else went smoothly.

Lauren helped me (and by help I mean graciously did everything) attach the jump rings and/or lobster claps to my finished ducks. It turns out that I'm not too good with pliers or wire cutters...

Then I used some black and white acrylic paint with q-tips and toothpicks to adorn the ducks with eyes. I was finally all set to swap!

There were dedicated times to swap: Friday and Saturday evenings at 5 PM. However, Lauren and I didn't get to Stitches West till Saturday, so we missed swapping Friday night. Everyone was given a button to wear, identifying him or her as a "swapper". If we spotted a button during the market shopping hours, we excitedly asked to swap with them. We were the first ones ready at the swap location on Saturday night...that's how excited we were. It was fun meeting everyone, but mostly it was so interesting to see what all of the other knitters and crocheters created. Here's my haul:

I'll probably never need that many stitch markers, but that's okay. I didn't participate in the swap to gain stitch markers, but rather I needed to fulfill my weird urge to make something useful that others could benefit from while concurrently using up some of my stashed materials. I loved trading with others and I was happy to see that I wasn't the only adult eager to swap. I'm already devising plans on what to create next year for my stitch marker swap!