Christmas, New Year’s, and Tons of Cats

Wow, I really haven’t had the motivation to blog lately, but here we are! I’m going to dive in with a succinct recap of the holidays, featuring lots and lots (and lots) of cats. Spoiler: We had 6 cats at my house on NYE.

The night before Christmas Eve, I made my pumpkin gingerbread, and enjoyed that with wine while watching Home Alone 2 (we watched the original last year).

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I started Christmas Eve with a festive spin class, of entirely Christmas songs.


On Christmas Eve night, my whole family went to Benihana’s per our tradition. I just got beer, a salad, and their amazing fried rice, and then stole bites of my family’s food.

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Before we knew it, it was Jackson’s first Christmas!

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Kitten’s first stocking!

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^This was after I caught him looking extremely guilty with a little tree in his mouth.

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For breakfast, we had gingerbread (for me)/croissants (my parents), plus scrambled eggs and turkey bacon.

After breakfast, my mom and I headed to the bay to take Chloe for a little Christmas walk.


Around lunchtime, my sister, her husband, and their two kitties came over (5 cats total in the house!)


We ate an easy lunch of soup, and then opened presents.

My sister made us all homemade gelato! Mine was salted caramel.

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^This was my present to my sis! Lava and Ash, her kitties!

My sister and I were tasked with cooking Christmas dinner, which is a first for us. We poured champagne with pomegranate juice, and mulled wine to sip on while we cooked.

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My sister made homemade pasta, pumpkin soup, and brussels sprouts. I made cranberry sauce (with maple syrup) and cranberry citrus relish, and then ended up sort of roasted a turkey. I wanted to buy some slices from Whole Foods like we did a few years ago, but when I went on Christmas Eve, they didn’t have that. So I ended up buying a whole (pre-cooked) Diestel turkey. Apparently I looked clueless enough at the store, and the store worker was super helpful and told me how to heat it up: 350 for 1.5 hours, with the first .5 hour covered. It came out super well (and we had a ton of leftovers which were enjoyed all week).

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My sister’s husband is Jewish, and the two of them have perfected the latke. These are lemon truffle latkes with homemade apple sauce that my aunt sent us!


Highlights from between the two holidays:


Leftover turkey-cranberry opened faced sandwiches with laughing cow.

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AMAZING turkey and rice soup. My mom made turkey broth from the carcass, and the flavor was incredible. Served with Brazilian cheese balls.

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Beer flight during the Alamo bowl. This was a fun flight because we picked out the individual beers from Trader Joe’s, so it was all good things! Sadly the game didn’t go as planned…


For our football food, we did BBQ turkey sweet potato nachos. Roasted sweet potato slices topped with BBQ sauce, 2% Mexican cheese, leftover turkey, and green onions.

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I made my weirdo salad with leftover roasted turkey instead of deli turkey and it was insanely good.


Friday night, my parents and I finally made it out to the local brewery. They have a beer called “Beer Kitty,” so naturally I had to get that.


They also had food trucks out. I had a kale salad with chicken, and french fries.


On the way home, we stopped for frozen yogurt. I had chocolate mint and  eggnog. Both were super good!



Saturday, I actually worked all day at the vet. It was good to be back, and we had lots of kitties that day—my favorite! I went out for dinner and beer with coworkers after as well. When I got home, it was madness. My family was gone, and my sister’s 2 kitties were staying with us as well. I got home to 5 kitties! Thankfully they all got along, and there were kitties EVERYWHERE!

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^All 5 in one shot!

My NYE consisted of a spin class, lots and lots of cat time, Jackson’s first kitten playdate at my friend’s house, then my friend bring her kitten to my house to make it 6 cats, and finally game night at a different friend’s house while our kitties played. The rest of the post will be exclusively cat pictures! I got a new phone, so the cat pictures are higher quality and I have more memory to store them! Happy New Year!

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How I Study

Hello, hello! I’m taking a study break to share some of my food as of late!

Also…my body hurts. I don’t know what it was, but Crossfit hit me hard this week! I’m not sure what it is, maybe the programming, but I’ve spent a lot of time very, very sore. Someone had a shirt on yesterday that said “Everything hurts and I’m dying.” That’s sort of how I feel right about now.

I have been wimping out on my deadlifts lately (as in….the last year. whoops.) and did them with a partner the other day…so I was pushed to go a little heavier for sets of 5. I didn’t realize how sore I was until the next day, I reached down to pick up a horse’s foot and OW. And then it just keeps building. Yesterday was a spicy little couplet of 65# snatches and thrusters. I was expecting the thrusters to be trivial (for some reason…). Nope. The snatches felt much better. Oh, and here’s a new one: I bruised my hand doing pull ups (over 50 of them, to be fair). So that’s cool. But other than everything hurts and I’m dying, vet school life around here is going well! I’m actually fairly caught up on studying everything, which is a great feeling, and one that I’m not entirely familiar with. I completely changed my study habits when I got here, and honestly it takes away a ton of stress. This apparently is how I study:

  1. On the lap


2. On the iPad.


3. On the chair.


And then this was last night. Apparently Rina knows I’m a grandma and meowed at me to come to bed at 9pm, so I brought my studying to bed.


And while we’re on the topic of pets, guess who’s coming in just over a week??


I believe I promised you some food (and not just animals, but let’s be real here), so let’s dive in!



Watermelon, a GF pumpkin spice waffle, and plain greek yogurt with honey and cocoa powder.IMG_5339

Smoothie as I ran out the door after Crossfit: frozen banana, 1/2 school of chocolate Quest protein, milk, and cocoa powder. The classic.IMG_5520

Yogurt bowl with raspberry jam and sunbutter. This was supposed to be with passionfruit, but the very expensive passionfruit I got was pretty awful (and basically empty.)


Yogurt bowl with cinnamon granola and sunbutter, plus a farmer’s market plum.


Basically all packed salads. The treat was picking up a rotisserie chicken breast this week!


Salad with grapes, shaved parmesan, and rotisserie chicken. Tossed in light balsamic, served with rice cakes.IMG_5539

Fig, goat cheese, and chicken salad with balsamic vinaigrette.



Beet, carrot, apple juice at the farmer’s market.


Zucchini and corn tamale from the farmer’s market, plus a kale salad with nutritional yeast.


More zucchini soup with grilled cheese.


When I picked up the rotisserie chicken, it was perfectly warm. Dinner was chicken with ketchup and a side salad with ginger dressing.IMG_5525

This meal was a Quick and Easy FTW. I wasn’t sure what to make this week, so before going to the store I scrolled through to see what looked good and decided on this salad. Balsamic kale with roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, and parmesan. Chicken on the side.

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Another farmer’s market tamale. Can you tell I’m a little obsessed? This was chicken and vegetable. Ginger salad on the side.

That’s all I have—it’s dinner time!

All the Goodbyes

Hi friends! I’m blogging from my bed in California now! I am officially home for Thanksgiving!

I wanted to pop in and share a little bit from my very last day in St. Louis.

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What a freaking goof.

The cold came in Friday night, so I bundled up for Crossfit. My last one! Thankfully, the gym is heated. For the workout, we worked on hang cleans. The WOD was killer on the shoulders.

10 rounds:

10 push press (65 lb)

10 UNBROKEN double unders

10 weighted sit ups (25 lb)

I knew right away the push presses would be the hard part of this since 65 is a little heavy for me for a WOD. It was. Ouch. For the double unders, if they were broken (aka you messed up) you had to start over. Surprisingly, I only did this one set. It was a good workout to end on, and I said my goodbyes.

I went straight from Crossfit to The Mud House, a coffeeshop I visited once before, for some food and study time.

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Kombucha and cheddar chive grits. Why are grits more of a thing in California??

The place was absolutely packed for brunch, but I was able to snag a spot at the counter. But the line was smooched up against the counter, so I felt especially awkward pulling up my anthrax research for microbio.

I didn’t do too much that afternoon other than squeeze in some last kittie snuggles.

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Around dinnertime, I bundled up for one final outing.


Me and a couple of zoo buddies went to Seoul Taco in the loop. I had my last chocolate milk stout.


Plus a bowl with chicken and a very jiggly egg.


Next was our main event on the agenda, visiting Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. It was a big light display set up in the gardens, and I was really excited to see it! With lows in the 20s and wind, I was nervous for the weather. I finally made use of my winter coat, and the temperatures were only low 40s so it wasn’t too bad! Check out the lights though:

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I had such a great time, and it was a great way to welcome the holiday season.

Afterwards, we stopped at The Cup in Central West End to pick up cupcakes. They had 3 GF options! I got a chocolate cupcake with vanilla ice cream and it was SUPER delicious and fudgy.


We ate these while watching Insidious 2 back at my place, and Scooby kept us company (and Yoyo wandered around making sure to creak every floorboard in the dark old house!)


And then it was time to say goodbye. I’m really going to miss these people. It’s amazing the relationships you can form in 3 short months. I can’t bear to get to sappy here, but I’ll leave it by saying it’s not goodbye forever, because I WILL come visit.


Sunday morning I woke up to this:


29, feels like 25. Yeah. I decided my run could wait until the “feels like” was at least above freezing. What did I do instead?

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Finally I got out the door and did my normal 3 mile route. I had planned on running in Forest Park but didn’t want to spend the time driving there.


And then finally I said goodbye.


But with every goodbye comes a hello.


Oh, and I had my first cranberry orange bread of the season. This had warm spices which made it feel extra holiday-y.


As hard as it is to leave, I try to look forward as much as possible, because I’ve enjoyed my life at every stage lately and know that I will be just fine. (That doesn’t mean leaving people in the past though!)

How do you say goodbye?

End of a Journey: St. Louis Lasts

It’s my last FULL weekend in St. Louis! Where the heck did the time go?? I’m both excited to go home for the holidays and sad to leave this city.

The title of this post (the journey) refers mainly to the thing I planned my entire Satuday around. But we’ll get there.

First on the agenda? A morning run. I’ve been wanted to run along the river but never got around to it, so today was the day! I went to bed super early the night before, so I was wide awake and ready to face the day at 6am.


Brrrr. Hard to imagine how hot it was last time I was down around there, my very first weekend in St. Louis.

I did my usual 3 miles, enjoying the sights of this city I’ve called home for the past few months.

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Then, it was time to hit up my final coffeeshop of the list. Mississippi Mud House. I’ve been putting this one off since it’s downtown and that seemed like it required more effort. But like I said, I made a day of it. I ended up parking about half a mile from the coffeeshop, near where I was going to get lunch. I love walking around cities, on during the chilly early morning (like 8:45am).

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The place had a cool vibe. It was in the front of an art gallery.

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Of course, I got a decaf cappuccino.


This was probably the one of the best milk foams. I could tell the milk used was really high quality. The cappuccino was a little milky, which was what I was in the mood for, but I do have to dock a few points for style. I would maybe rank this just under Rise? The flavor wasn’t super deep.

But as I’ve finished my coffee tour of St. Louis, expect a full recap coming up! My Tuesday studying will be a little victory lap.

It felt good to start my morning with some productivity though!


My caffeine tolerance is sad. I don’t know what it is, but lately I’ve been feeling the caffeine even with decaf (and I’m sure it’s decaf). I can’t go through more than half a cup before feeling it.

After coffee I walked through the city to lunch. It was chilly so I decided to go back a block over in the sun, and ran into City Park!

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Lunch on that chilly day was hot soup from Bread Co. (Panera in St. Louis). I got the Autumn Squash soup.



While I was downtown, it did occur to me that I should probably visit Anheuser-Busch before I leave St. Louis. I went home and showered and then arrived at the brewery.


They offer complimentary 45 minutes tours of the facilities and the production process, complete with free sampling.

We even got to see the Clydesdales! I love them.

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From there, we started touring the facilities and learning about beer making.

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We had the option of tasting Budweiser Select or Bud Light. Why would you ever choose Bud Light?? I think it’s a step up from Coors Light though.

I won’t pretend like I understand beer making, so enjoy some pictures!

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At the end of the tour we got to choose any beer on tap to “sample” (I use quotes because it was a full glass). I went with Spaten. Not bad, but I like the dark Spaten better.


TO be honest, Budweiser isn’t my favorite beer. It seems a little bit water to me. That being said, at the Crossfit night out last weekend, I talked to a fellow Crossfitter who worked for Anheuser-Busch, and he brought up the point that Budweisser is really good for its style. And I’ve decided that that’s fair. It’s crisp, and not bad for a ballgame, but I personally like a little more complexity.

My next stop was to pick up some GF cannoli. Right??? I stopped by Piccone Pastry. They have tons of flavors, and they’ll fill the GF shell with whatever you want! I got a sea salt caramel and a chocolate chip.


I also picked up some tea at Blueprint across the street.


For dinner, I kept it on the light side because I fully intended on filling up on cannoli. I made avocado toast and cooked up my honeynut squash from Trader Joe’s. I bought this a few weeks ago because I thought it was cute and since it was small, it seemed like the perfect single girl’s squash. I was planning on microwaving it to soften it enough to cut, and then roast, but apparently 5 minutes was enough to make it totally soft. And then for some reason just turning on the janky oven here was enough to set off the fire alarm so that was out. I ended up finishing it up by sautéing it in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper.


I cut my cannoli in half in case I actually felt like using portion control but you better believe I devoured them.


I spent the first part of the evening watching Clueless, curled up with Scooby.


Then I went to watch a horror movie (Insidious) with my zoo buddy. I brought the last of my Oktoberfest beer. I had it in my bag with my wallet, keys, etc, and as I was getting out of my car, I dropped my bag and one of the bottles exploded. I was literally pouring beer out of my wallet. My bag was dripping and full of glass shards. Luckily, 2 of the 3 were spared, but my wallet and everything in it was a sloppy mess. I actually got a new wallet today, which was probably needed anyways! But everything smells like Oktoberfest (which thankfully is more pleasant than average beer).


Sunday morning I went to an Olympic Lifting class at Crossfit. They just got a new coach to teach it! I’ve been Olympic Lifting for over 6 years now, and in that time my focus on it has come and gone. I don’t work on my lifts as consistently with Crossfit (which I’ve been doing for over 3 years now) because we have so many other focuses, but I did work with my original trainer again last summer, and I got really strong and my technique improved greatly. I PRed all my Oly lifts last summer. Between my shoulder and my foot injuries, these lifts have kind of fallen by the wayside.That being said, I have pretty good technique. One thing the coach helped me on a lot was the position out of the bottom of my snatch, which is my weak point. I’m actually easy stronger from the hang than the ground, just because my position isn’t where it should be. He instructed me to arch my back more at the bottom, start with my hips a little higher, and bring the bar in closer to my shins. This worked to created a straight plane for the bar to move in, and it felt like it was flying up! My clean and jerk is definitely stronger for me (technique and weight-wise) so there were fewer comments for that!

I ran some errands afterwards including getting a flu shot, and made a quick lunch of avocado toast and pizza eggs (marina+cheese). img_0390

After lunch, I picked up my coworker and we drove out to Defiance, Missouri’s wine country. img_0392

We went to Sugar Creek Winery.


We did a $4 tasting, which included 4 samples and a wine glass. I went with all whites, plus the blackberry.

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I sampled the Vidal, the Boone Country, the peach, and the blackberry. All were delicious, with light flavors. Plus, the company wasn’t too bad!

We got a bottle of the Boone Country to share while chatting and enjoying the scenery.


This was on the sweeter side and it was pretty easy to drink. So, how does MO wine compare to CA wine? I talked to a wine distributer about this at the Crossfit night out, and I think I agree with his assessment that CA is better for the price. These were also all lighter flavors than a lot of CA wines. I’m going wine tasting in Napa over Thanksgiving so I guess I’ll have a direct comparison!
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And now I’m on the couch. I wasn’t planning on being here for the rest of the night BUT i’m currently under 2 kitties. Yoyo decided to join me halfway through this post. He really wanted to settle on my laptop, which was a problem. Now he’s on my belly and my laptop is lodged in the space between 2 kitties. I’ll miss these boys.


That’s all for now! I’ll catch you guys later!

When You Feel Like a Potato

This morning I woke up and was having one of those days. I felt sluggish, lazy, sort of sad, and overall like a blob. The best way to describe it? I felt like a potato. My diet has strayed more on the side of sweets lately and I felt kind of off as a result. Lack of sleep from the election. And after spending the previous night talking politics to my mom and ranting on the blog, I woke up feeling dirty. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to just stay in bed with a massive bowl of cereal and hide from the world, and slide into more potato-ness.

But then I decided that that just wouldn’t do. I needed to figure out how to turn myself around, because I had scary visions of my entire rest of my gap year in potato-land. As I mindfully made this decision, I wanted to do a post on it, because we all have potato days. Here are some things I did to bring myself out, or that made me smile.

-I started referring to myself as a potato which I definitely found amusing. It lightened the situation.

-I decided to make a blog post about coming out of bad days, therefore forcing me to focus on the small positives throughout my day.

-I started my morning with a workout. Exercise first thing ALWAYS helps. We did 4 sets of 10 back squats today (yuck) at a relatively light weight. Then the WOD was 5 rounds of 150m run, 15 box jumps, and 10 hand stand push ups (which I did off a box). At the start of the WOD, I just didn’t feel like moving. But one round in, I felt much better.

-I made myself presentable. Looking good on the outside always makes me feel better on the inside. I didn’t have the option to wear cozy clothes (zoo uniform), but I considered not wearing any makeup, and decided I would feel better if I actually put the extra 2 minutes in.

-I hugged a Yoyo on the way out the door. A selfie occurred. He was not amused, and both kitties were a little suspicious about why I was chasing around trying to hug them, but it lifted my spirits! Especially because then they got riled up and started wrestling and it was kind of adorable.


-I took a second to appreciate the pretty leaves outside on my way to the car. I love fall.


-I played my current jam on the way to work.


-I got an awesome parking spot at work (also I love my Spanish music. Enrique <3)


-The zoo is starting to put out holiday decorations and I love it!


-Polar bear eating lettuce. Enough said.


-Watching and listening to little kids can be endlessly amusing. They all LOVE our polar bear Kali. This comment this morning that a kid was repeating over and over cracked me up: “He’s a beautiful specimen with a giant butt!” True.

-Vegetables. The best way to feel better and to start eating better again. Nothing crazy, just veggies. I had a salad with champagne vinaigrette, humus, goat cheese, and an egg for lunch.


-Productivity. Sometimes I feel guilty about not getting things done and it can be a little bit paralyzing. I took some time on my lunch break to get ahead on Microbiology reading.


-Timehop. I love it. I wish it would somehow be able to look at pictures on my computer since I’ve deleted most from my phone, but I saw this gem. I was a minute early on 11/11/11 at 11:11 I guess!


-The Sun Bears were pretty active today, which made them fun to watch!


-My zoo buddy hung out with my for the very end of my observation while I was a little bit overwhelmed, and it was helpful to have an extra set of eyes! Plus she brought me a cookie <3


-I made plans with myself to do something more interesting for dinner than eggs and lettuce, so I stopped at Whole Foods so I could get dinner and spend some time afterwards studying.


The food wasn’t that great since I was early and it was probably still from lunch. But I was enough out of my potato-ness that this didn’t bother me.

-Kombucha. Always helps.

-A delicious and healthy dessert to eat while curled up on the couch. I had half a piece of healthy pumpkin bread with semisweet chocolate chips, vanilla Halo Top, and whipped cream.


-Spending the rest of the night snuggled up with Scooby, watching a Rom-Com set at Christmastime, while eating said bowl of deliciousness.

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And now I don’t feel like a potato.