Monthly Archives: November 2016

Getting Better+Cranberry Everything

Guys! Blogmas will begin shortly! In fact, this is probably the last normal post before it starts. I haven’t decided how I want to handle day to day things during Blogmas. I might include them in my Blogmas posts, or I may be double posting in a day. We shall see.

I wanted to recap a little food and a little fitness before I take a little trip tomorrow. Blogmas Day 1 and 2 posts are all typed up, scheduled, and ready to go!

All I’ve done fitness-wise this week is Crossfit. I was really excited for Monday’s workout. We are preparing for the open. It’s always interesting to see how different boxes prepare in terms of their programming. At my box last year, we did a ton of longer workouts, like 3 10 minute AMRAPS with a few minutes of rest in between. Where I am now, we’re working on endurance in the form of disgustingly long sets. We’re doing a set of 20 back squats, and a set of 20 presses. This week I did 120 lbs for the squat. It’s crazy how I can be sore from just one set. I was not excited for that. The thing I WAS excited for? We redid 16.2. I was really happy with my performance when I did it the first time. I had just gotten my toes to bar literally the week before, and was so proud of myself for getting through them. 16.2 was 25 toes to bar, 50 double unders, 15 cleans at 95 lbs. If you finish that in 4 minutes, you move on to do that again in 4 minutes, with the weight on the cleans increasing and the reps decreasing. Last time I got majorly tripped up on my doubles (LOL pun sort of intended), and finished with 46 doubles in the first round. My doubles are MILES better than in March, so I was really excited to tackle this again. Not a lot of people Rxed this so they definitely did more rounds than I did, but I really wanted to see what I could do. The doubles were cake. I finished the toes to bar and doubles in 3 minutes, and got through 5 of the cleans before running out of time. That’s 9 reps better than last time, but it’s a big 9 reps because the cleans are time consuming. I was panting and shaky at the 4 minute mark, and not entirely sad to be done with the workout.

This morning I went to 6am Crossfit because I woke up at 4am and could not fall back asleep. When it was 5:15 and I wasn’t even tired, I figured I should just get up and get it done, especially since I had plans to have a more interesting and large lunch than normal. We worked on snatches, and then the WOD was 3 rounds of 15 wall balls, 15 pull ups, and 15 deadlifts (I used 135#). I knew the pull ups would be a little challenging, but I’m not going to baby myself anymore with pull ups in workouts. Unless it’s a crazy number of reps, I just have to suck it up and do it. I’m at a place now with Crossfit where I feel like I’ve made a ton of progress over the past year, and I’ve started to finally get a lot of the movements, so to progress I need to suck it up and Rx the workouts, as slow as it may be, because the speed will come. Honestly, it’s a little bit of a pride issue. At my box, a lot of people don’t Rx the workouts, which is totally cool with me. But it means when I do Rx them, I’m often one of the last people working. But I need to get over that, because it’s the only way I’ll get better.

In terms of food…



Flapjacked muffin with blueberries.


Going strong with cranberry here. Yogurt with cocoa powder and maple syrup stirred in, topped with cranberry sauce. Eaten in about 5 minutes between Crossfit and taking my dog for a walk with a friend.


We got talked into signing up for a CSA box while picking up my bib at the turkey trot. It’s cool in that it’s delivered to your door, and you get to pick what you get in your box. I don’t always like Gala apples, but this was delicious. I had it with my typical breakfast (at least for the past 3 months) of yogurt, sunbutter, and cinnamon KIND granola.




Leftover Whole Foods Chicken Lemon Artichoke soup with avocado toast.

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Chinese food! I think everyone has that one Chinese restaurant that they’ve been going to forever. My sister just got back from 3 months in Europe, 2 of which were spent in Florence, Italy, and she was craving Chinese food like crazy. I haven’t had it in quite some time as well because I was worried soy sauce (it has a little gluten) would cause me to flare. Now, I feel pretty safe that it won’t, so I was excited as well! I started with egg drop soup, and then got chicken and vegetables with fried rice. And always extra sweet and sour sauce. To put on rice, to put on veggies, to put on chicken. Why not?


My mom and I have been on our own for dinner this week, and we both are fans of simple. We made open faced turkey and havarti sandwiches. Normally we do these with apples on top, but I wanted to try them with cranberry sauce. The verdict? Delicious. We also happened to buy some turkey that was more like carved turkey than deli turkey on accident, so it was perfect with the cranberry sauce! On the side, we sautéed up some zucchini noodles, one day with garlic, and another with smokey salt seasoning blend.

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After 16.2, I was sort of shaky and light headed, so I needed sugar and protein ASAP. I tried this flavor for the first time while cooking dinner. I saw it in St. Louis but never made the leap. It’s good! Who can complain with chocolate though, right? The cinnamon chocolate works with yogurt.


Trader Joe’s has really delicious peppermint bark. It’s SUPER thick and really hard to break up though! My sister also hadn’t been to Trader Joe’s in 3 months, so she was just a bit excited to go. I was really excited to see GF peppermint jo-jos. I got them, took a bite out of one, and then thought to check the label. They have coconut oil :/ I decided “screw it” and finished the cookie, but thanks to a coconut allergy I can’t eat them since I’m going to react. Darn. Why is coconut oil in everything these days?? At least I have peppermint bark to ease the pain though, right?


My first coffee back in CA! This was good. Search for the best coffee round 2?

Also, note: I am wearing jeans. It’s been at least 10 months since I wore jeans. Mark your calendars.

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This dessert right here is part of why I firmly believe there is space for a dessert every day. That bowl is only 140 calories. 120 without whipped cream. A serving of Halo Top, a spoonful of delicious gourmet salted rum caramel sauce from St. Helena (in Napa Valley), what could be better?

And with that, I’m signing off. Check back in tomorrow for Blogmas Day 1!

Visiting the Castle

We’ve been to Napa quite a few times now, but this year we did something pretty unique. More on that to come!

I mentioned yesterday that I was struggling with lack of appetite on this trip, so I was hoping starting my day with a workout might bump up my ability to eat a little bit! I was hoping to run, but it was raining and to be honest, a cold rainy run on vacation didn’t sound too nice. I modified Peanut Butter Runner’s 1000 rep workout to better meet my needs, and just cycled through for about 40 minutes (I didn’t get to 1000 reps).


Our big plan on the agenda for the day was a visit to Castello di Amorosa, an amazing winery based out of an authentic castle. It took 15 years to build, and every stone was imported from Italy.

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The castle has 107 rooms, many of which store wine. The winery opened in 2007, and have been making quality wine since then. Their red wines are aged about 4 years, so the red wines sold now are 2012. The tour was about 2 hours, and took us though the amazing rooms of the castle.

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This was styled to be like an authentic 13th century Italian castle, and even had a dungeon with torture devices!

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This awful looking chair would be heated, and the spikes would melt into one’s body. It’s apparently where the phrase “hot seat” came from.

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We also got to try some Cabernet Sauvignon straight from the barrel. This was a young red wine; it was only aged 2 years.

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The tour ended with a tasting. We got to pick out 5 different wines to try. I’m definitely more of a white wine girl, so I tended in that direction, although I did try the Cab that was the same kind as in the barrel, but fully aged. It had a lot more complexity!

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The wine was good, and our sommelier was super friendly and helpful. He overheard me talking about vet schools, and he offered to talk about Davis with me, since he got his Viniculture degree there.

We tried a couple of sweet wines which were really unique; the moscato was rich with flavor and complexity. In terms of regular wine, I liked the Chardonnay and the dry Gewürztraminer; this wine is often sweet, but their version is dry and had a really interesting flavor.

The wine is only sold on site, so we definitely took some bottles home!

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After our morning wine, we were ready for lunch in St. Helena, at the Bistro. This is one of my favorite restaurants, and it’s a meal I always look forward to!

We split a grilled artichoke to start.


And got the avocado salad with for my main course. Avocado, fresh mozzarella, tomato, high quality olive oil, and sea salt.


We also shared some of my dad’s sweet potato fries.

We made our usual stops in St. Helena:


Fideaux, an adorable pet store. I actually had to get some Christmas cat toys to mail to Yoyo and Scooby; I miss them!

Olivier, which is mainly olive oil, but has expanded to all sort of gourmet items like caramel sauce and tapenades, and has free samples of most of their products.

And of course, Woodhouse Chocolates.

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I managed to talk my dad into splitting some hot chocolate from Woodhouse, and it was of course delicious.

We relaxed the rest of the afternoon before heading to Oxbow Market for dinner. Oxbow used to have AMAZING arepas, but still has lots of good options! Since my family is now really into beer, we stopped at the taproom for Fieldwork Brewing Company and got a flight to share.


We picked out 5 beers to sample, but were most excited about the Bad Conduct, a chocolate maple imperial brown. It was delicious, but was a very strong flavor and we all agreed that we liked it a lot, but couldn’t imagine having a full glass of it! I thought the beer overall was pretty good, but not really as interesting as the St. Louis craft beer I’ve been drinking! It was fine, but nothing too special (with the exception of the chocolate maple).

Since I figured I should actually put some food in my stomach as well, my mom and I shared a gluten free margarita pizza and salad.

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The Oxbow Market is an indoor area with a lot of different shops and food places. It’s sort of like the Ferry Building in SF, but smaller.

For dessert, my family chose Kara’s Cupcakes, so I had a GF mini brownie with chocolate chip buttercream.


We finished the evening with chocolates and Gilmore Girls by the fire. I’m actually only starting Gilmore Girls now, only on season 2!

I began my last morning in Napa with a run. I love running around the edge of the property; it’s so beautiful there! I did 3 miles before breakfast.

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We went to the Grille for breakfast, which was a buffet.


On my plate was frittata, country potatoes, fruit, and Strauss yogurt with apple compote (mostly because I wanted the apple compote).


Then, it was back home. The only other highlights I want to share are my needy kitty, and homemade cranberry sauce.

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This is the worst picture ever, but I had some leftover cranberries and the desire to put cranberry sauce on everything, so I whipped up some cranberry sauce. It sort of kills me to pour white sugar into things, so I sweetened the sauce with maple syrup to taste, and the maple flavor came through amazingly. It seemed like it would be perfect on ice cream, so I made myself a little baby bowl. YUM. Cranberry sauce is seriously so easy to make. Heat cranberries on the stovetop with a little water until they break down, and add sugar as desired.

And that, my friends, is a wrap on Thanksgiving 2016.

Exploring Napa Valley (Again)

I go to Napa every year for Thanksgiving, but while we do a lot of the same things, we try to visit some new places as well. The world opened up when I turned 21!

Friday morning, my mom and I went to the spa for a massage and facial. We did this for the first time a year ago. Both were delightful. I started an actual skin care regimen after going last year, and I feel like my skin is a whole lot better now. I actually had the same person doing my facial as last year, and she was super nice (Ashly)! She said If I come back next year I should request her so we can catch up!

The next item on the agenda for the day was Genova Delicatessen, an Italian deli. Their egg salad is to do for, but this time I had a massive slab of cheesy polenta with some different salad sides: coleslaw with pineapple and Greek salad.

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After lunch we went across the street for our annual Ross Dress For Less trip. My sister and I used to spend hours there trying on party dresses when we were younger. I didn’t get too much because I just rediscovered 80% of my wardrobe (yay for living out of suitcases) so I wasn’t really in the shopping mood, but I did get some Blogmas props!

Next on the agenda was the real Black Friday shopping, at Domaine Chandon.

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Although we did a full tour with a tasting last year, we still did a tasting again!

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We did the basic tasting, which gave us tastes of 4 different champagnes. Last time we got to try the best of the best, which obviously I liked better!

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They have a nice outdoor seating area where you can sit and sip your tasting. They are also dog friendly in the outdoor area, so we are tentatively planning a Napa trip with Chloe sometime in the future, as the area is really dog-friendly and she could always use the socialization!


Upon arriving at our rental place, we broke into some fall Trader Joe’s finds, which was my first time trying both. The salsa may be my new favorite salsa; it reminds me of vegetarian chili and it isn’t too spicy!


Then, we headed out to enjoy a little holiday celebration: a tree lighting!

There were carolers, free hot drinks (hot chocolate for me), and Christmas cookies!

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We ordered takeout from the grill right next to the main house area, and came out just in time to see the tree being lit!

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For dinner, I shared a roasted brussels sprouts and apple appetizer, and had a salad with fresh mozzarella.

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For dessert, I had a gluten free brownie.


To be honest, I was really struggling with lack of appetite on this trip. This is a major annoyance of my stomach condition. I feel like I can hardly eat anything. Normally I have more appetite, but different foods, travel, and way less physical activity is making it hard for me to enjoy all the delicious food! That being said, I was still pretty sick this time last year so I’m thankful the worst I’m dealing with is mostly just getting full quickly!

This post is getting long, so I’ll save the castle post for tomorrow!

Have you ever been champagne tasting?

Thanksgiving 2016

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving full of family and delicious food! I know I did!

I got into the spirit early with some pumpkin spice Cheerios pre-Turkey Trot.


And took my annual pre-trot Charlie picture.


I did the Silicon Valley Turkey Tort, the biggest in the world. 28,000 people! It gets bigger every year! Normally I do the 10k, which starts before the 5k. This year I did the 5k, and they did a mass start for the 5 and 10k. That created a logistical nightmare. Each corral was supposed to start at a different time, but that wasn’t well publicized so it seemed like a lot of people started in earlier corrals. Parking was a nightmare with road closures. I ended up having to jump out of the car half a mile from the start because my mom was not going to be able to park anywhere and traffic was a terrible.


I ended up running with my phone, which was so necessary for communication. I made it to the start with plenty of time though.

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And then finally we were off! I am not capable of running a race without a time goal, so I set the modest goal of below an 8:45 pace for the 5k. It was not too crazy crowded at the start, but with the corral issues, the deeper into the race I went, the more I ran into walkers who went in earlier corrals. It got pretty clogged up in the last mile or so.

I was feeling really good on the run. No issues, not too tired.


Despite the initial issues, my mom ended up getting to an ideal place on the course. She was at around mile 2.5, but in the finishers’ village because the course looped back around from there. She got some truly awkward running pictures, because I was looking at my watch and calling out the distance to her because she didn’t know where on the course she was or when to expect me to finish.

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The mile markers were measuring a little short on my watch, but I crossed the finish line at exactly 3.1! Perfect!


I finished in 26:17, which I was more than happy with, and to be honest, a little surprised! I’ve only been running 2 days per week, but it goes to show you fitness in other areas carries over!


The free Noosa yogurt after the race served as the perfect pre-Thanskgiving breakfast!


Then, we had to do a quick-ish turn-around to make the drive to Napa!


I’ve had this skirt for a while, but I feel like I never get an occasion to wear it!

As is our tradition, we spent our Thanksgiving in Napa. We’ve gone to Napa every year for as long as I can remember. It’s absolutely gorgeous here this time of year.

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Please note my lips in the above pictures. Blue. My lips turn blue so fast when it’s cold!

This year my Grandma from Florida joined us for the holiday!

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We went to a big fancy buffet, like we usually do. We shared a bottle of champagne for the table, and of course I requested we get the pink one! It looks so festive!


Salad course was first:

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I got a green bean, mushroom, grape, and picked onion salad, assorted cheeses with dried fruit, and the star of the meal, pumpkin soup with gruyere. I go to the same buffet every year, and the soup is always the best part.

Main course:


Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy (it probably had some gluten so I didn’t want to go crazy), roasted cauliflower, and of course, cranberry sauce.

Guys, my ability to eat is just sad. While I don’t suffer many flare-ups and issues from my stomach condition anymore, I still have zero ability to eat large amounts of food. I couldn’t even finish this plate. I think my 81 year old grandma out-ate me.

Before getting my main course, I checked out the beautiful desserts and came up with a game plan. My family takes buffets seriously.

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I had a chocolate mouse cup filled with blackberry mousse, and then split pumpkin pie an pumpkin cheesecake with my mom. Pumpkin cheesecake was my main motivator for trying to see what happened when I eat gluten. I still avoided the crust, but felt confident enough that I didn’t have to worry about crumbs here or there!


Again, my eating performance was abysmal but the food was delicious!

After our afternoon feast, we checked into our room and relaxed and digested for a while before heading out to see a movie—another Thanksgiving tradition! We saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and I think everyone enjoyed it! I read all the Harry Potter books when I was younger and enjoyed them, but I’m not a fanatic. So coming from a non-fanatic, it was a good movie! I thought the relationship Newt had with his animals was adorable and relatable to me!

The movie ended pretty late, so we ended up not actually eating another meal that day. I was pretty hungry at that point, but an early bedtime won out since I don’t even know what time zone I’m on right now!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?


WIAW and How Do You Approach the Holidays?

We’re coming right up on the holiday season. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either interested in your health and fitness, or you’re my parents.

For those interested in health, the holidays can be a tumultuous time. There are conflicting tensions between the desire to maintain physical health while still enjoying holiday foods and festivities.


I knew in the past this has been an issue for me. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the holidays. I love the traditions, the food, the special events. But I also value my health. In the past, this tension would make me crazy, anxious, and angry around the holidays. I was always trying to avoid sugar, resist the goodies. But I would be miserable and feel like I was missing out. And I would inevitably give in and eat all the foods anyways, eat a ton of them, and feel terrible.


By the time the actual day of Christmas rolled around, I would be a mess. And every year around the holidays I would gain weight.

Last year was the first holiday season in many years that this didn’t happen. It was partly because I was still so sick then with my chronic stomach issue. I physically couldn’t go crazy eating things without my body turning on me. But that changed my perspective, because I appreciated what I could and did eat more. I think that experience, plus some maturity and changes in values, has shifted how I look at food and the holidays. That being said, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how to stay “healthy” throughout the holidays. (Note the quotations).


  1. Don’t think of it as “surviving the holidays.” Think about “enjoying the holidays.” I know it’s easier said than done, but the holidays are not about dieting and resisting delicious food, they’re about family, traditions, and joy.
  2. Similarly, I really don’t recommend trying to avoid all the holidays foods. In my experience, that leaves me miserable and craving them even more. Life’s too short to not enjoy eggnog, or a Christmas morning mimosa, or your Grandma’s special homemade pie. Letting go of that restrictive mentality isn’t easy, but it’s freeing.
  3. Trust your body. Don’t stress the changes. Here’s the deal. No one is going to wake up every single day weighing precisely the same amount. So many factors go into play. We see these stats everywhere: “Americans gain an average of 5 pounds every holiday season.” Here’s the deal. I guarantee that is not 5 pounds of pure fat. Carbohydrates hold 4x their weight in water. If you eat a lot of sugar or bread products over the holidays, your body will retain water. But guess what? That will disappear when you return to your normal routine. I finally started trusting my body. If I eat a big, delicious meal and lots of sugar, I realize that I might gain some weight but I don’t freak out because a) it’s not that serious and b) I trust that when things return to normal my body will too.


All those were more ways to mentally approach the holidays. While I definitely preach enjoying everything, I also want to make it a priority this holiday season to still feel good so I can fully enjoy everything. So I do want to talk about some ways to do that as well.

  1. Maintain your normal routine as much as possible when not at events. Go to holiday parties on the weekends, have a good time, and enjoy good food, but eating cake and cookies at a party on the weekend doesn’t mean you have to say “screw it” and eat junk all week. Stick to your normal workouts, eat your normal meals. I guarantee you will feel better.
  2. Make some healthy holiday treats. Some healthy swaps you won’t even notice. If you’re making gingerbread, why not look for a lower sugar recipe? If you’re making your own treats, why not make some healthier ones to have on hand? I personally plan on making some healthier treats that I don’t feel bad about enjoying on a regular basis. That way I never feel like I’m missing out on anything (And check back here for some recipes!)
  3. Get physical. No matter what I’m eating, I always feel 100x better when I get some exercise in.
  4. Start some new fit traditions. One of my favorite traditions that my family and I started doing was the Santa Run. It’s a 5k that finished at Christmas in the Park, a little Christmas village in downtown San Jose. It gets us in the holiday spirit! Last year on Christmas day, my family started our morning with a dog walk/run along the bay, followed by festive drinks, and it was an absolutely beautiful morning. Plus, Chloe got to join in! Take a night walk to look at lights (especially if you live in CA like I do and it’s not freezing!) Not every holiday tradition has to revolve around food.


Those are my thoughts for how to approach the holidays. Trust your body, and just think about trying to feel your best to enjoy the season. Again, it’s not that serious.


On that note, let’s finally dive into WIAW, Jenn‘s baby! Now that I’m home, my food is a little bit more interesting so I want to share it more!



My new favorite pre-workout food is Cheerios. I don’t even know what time zone I’m on right now, but I had plenty of time before morning Crossfit to eat! I had a bowl of pumpkin spice Cheerios. (We ordered a few boxes online from Target because they were getting hard to find!)


I did some technique work on snatches. I used 65# for a complex of a power snatch, overhead squat, and full snatch. Then we worked on bar muscles ups (LOL). I practiced some turnovers (assisted) and worked on negative pull ups. The WOD was a 7 min AMRAP of 5 power cleans and 10 toes to bar. I have toes to bar, but the coach and me do knees to elbow instead so I could really focus on getting into a good position that should later help me string together toes to bar. It was a lot more shoulder intensive the way he had me doing them! I used 85 for the cleans.


I had the same breakfast most days in St. Louis and I’m finally sick of it. I discovered some chocolate KIND granola in the pantry, so I centered my breakfast on that. I made a yogurt with with Fage 2% a little bit of maple syrup, and cocoa powder. Topped with granola and crunchy Sunbutter. I had jumbo blueberries on the side.



I had more leftover lemon chicken rice soup, with added spinach. I also seasoned it with thyme lemon bay sea salt, and topped it with feta. On the side are leftover roasted shaved brussels with truffle salt.



I had another sea salt chocolate bar from 88 Acres (more info here) as well as a Medjol date, since it had been so long since I had one strangely enough. So good!

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I also nibbled on some Cranberry Orange bread while cutting up some slices for the freezer.

Dinner Part 1:

I volunteered to sub a 7:30pm spin class this evening which is a super awkward time for me, especially since I’m still sort of on St. Louis time. I decided to eat a light dinner pretty early.

Trader Joe’s GF cornbread with a little whipped butter.


And a small bowl of butternut squash and chicken soup.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to come to a spin class that late, the week of Thanksgiving. Since it’s at the university, most people are gone for break. Luckily, I had a few people, and had a blast! It’s different teaching here, and it’s good to be back.

The rest of the evening didn’t go as planned. I drive an older car, and it can be pretty finicky. I had a lot of issues with the engine when I first started driving it a few years ago, but since then it has been fine. It didn’t appreciate not being driven too much while I was gone, it turns out. It took a while to start driving there, and when I got in to drive home after spin, the engine started shaking like crazy and then just died. Thereby stranding me 25 minutes from home. The worst thing was I was able to get out of my parking spot before it died, so I was directly blocking in a few cars. I called Triple A to get it towed, and my mom came and picked me up. Thankfully the process was relatively painless all things considered, and I’m grateful I didn’t even make it out of the parking lot and it didn’t die on the highway. That being said, I don’t have a good feeling about what may be wrong with it.

When my mom and I drove off around 9:30, we were both on the exact same wavelength: froyo. When I had mono freshman year of college, I ate mass quantities of froyo so I still remembered more or less what places were open until 10! We stopped at Yumi Yogurt, which is pretty big in my area. I got a butterscotch flavor burst with mini m&ms. Sadly, aesthetics were sacrificed in favor of more toppings but this was delicious, and the perfect post-workout refuel!


While it’s never fun watching your car get towed, I’m thankful the situation wasn’t worse. A

And on that note….

How do you approach the holidays?