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Haunted Houses and Sangria

Happy Halloween weekend! I’m currently sitting at the airport. I arrived at my terminal nearly 2 hours before my flight was supposed to leave…definitely expected things to take longer! So I figure, why not blog my Friday and Saturday?

Friday morning started the way it normally does, with Crossfit. We did back squats, for long sets (which stink). Then an EMOM of 5 burpee pull ups on even minutes, and 10 wall balls on odd.

I had a festive breakfast afterwards—pumpkin yogurt with cinnamon granola and sunbutter.

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For lunch, I made a salad with hummus, goat cheese, champagne vinaigrette, and a microwave egg because I’m not cooking in the morning. My new tip for microwaving an egg is to rub a little olive oil on the bottom of the bowl, because the egg slides out much more easily then! Plus crackers.

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This was my afternoon:

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After work, my coworkers and I had plans to go to dinner and then to a haunted house. On the way to dinner, we got stuck in insane traffic. What should have been a 10 minute drive turned into over an hour of standstill.

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After sitting for an hour, I was texting my mom asking if she knew what was going on (I heard it was something political) and apparently Joe Biden was there? I asked where the event was, and she told me “The Pageant.” I asked my friend where that was….and she pointed right up. Apparently we were right in front of it!

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When we FINALLY made it to dinner, this was so necessary:

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We went to Seoul Taco, which was a Korean-Mexican fusion. I got a bowl with chicken and brown rice; there was no fusion in this though—it was all Korean flavors!

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So good!

Then, we made our way to Creepyworld, a haunted house. I had never been to a really legit haunted house, so I didn’t really know what to expect, or how I would react!

We waited in line for 1-1.5 hours before finally going in.

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This was intense! It took us over an hour to walk through everything! It was really cool. There were 12 different areas with different decor. There were plenty and people and props ready to jump out and scare you! I had a good time, but apparently I’m not too easily scared!

But what was supposed to be a reasonably early night turned into a 12:30 bedtime. My alarm felt far too early before my 8am spin class on Saturday!

Before spin, I had a bowl of Cinnamon Apple Cheerios. I’ve never been much of a Cheerio person, but I’m loving them pre workout right now!

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Class went well! Afterwards, I made a Flapjacked muffin and had some fruit on the side.

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And then, I was off to see my zoo friend play lacrosse! Somehow I forgot to take any pictures. I’ve never watched lacrosse before and it was fun to watch! She of course rocked it too, even though they lost (it was a close game!).

On the way home from the game, I got some groceries to prepare for my night and for my trip. And because I had no vegetables.

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For lunch, I had an egg white scramble with spinach and laughing cow, and avocado toast.

I spent the afternoon packing and doing chores, and prepping sangria.

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Here we have jazz apples and raspberries soaking in vodka.

For the wine, I found Robert Mondavi on sale. Remember when I visited that winery in the spring?

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We had such a hard time opening the bottle with a pocket knife corkscrew. And then opening the martinellis.

For the sangria, I mixed the fruit with Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling apple cider.

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I was adamant about dressing up.

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Unsurprisingly, I was a baseball player. My friends were a lax bro and a rugby player. Then, it was on to haunted house number 2, Darkness in Soulard.

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I thought this one was scarier than the last one, although not quite as extensive. There were lots of well hidden people ready to pop out at you, and the scariest part was it was so hard to tell what people/bodies were real or fake!

The next stop was Ballpark Village.

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There was an event going on, and we just wanted to watch baseball/hockey, so we didn’t end up going in. Instead, we opted for froyo (or in my case, frozen custard) at the fudge place.

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And then we headed back to my friend’s place to watch scary movies. I was home by 11!

Can I confess something? I really can’t bring myself to root for the Cubs. I really want to root for them. I do like the players. But in my heart I can’t. I hate being a sore loser, but after being the lone Giants fan in Chicago, it’s become ingrained to fervently root against them.

Oh well. I’m still enjoying watching the World Series!

What were you for Halloween? Who are you rooting for?

 

Chicago: #dontstopbeliEVEN

Wow guys, what a trip. I’m so, so glad I was able to make it happen, even though the games didn’t turn out like I might have hoped.

I headed out first thing Friday morning after a quick run. While leaving, I felt like this was a journey I was destined to take!

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Also note that if you don’t follow baseball, this whole post may seem crazy. I dropped everything and drove 5 hours to a strange city by myself for a couple of games?

Yes. Yes I did.

I don’t know if you guys have seen How I Met Your Mother. I recently rewatched the series. (It’s interesting now that I feel like I’m more in that stage of my life…) Anyways, there’s an episode where Ted and Marshall drive to Chicago for pizza and the only song they can listen to is that “I would walk 500 miles” song on repeat, because the tape is stuck. I thought I would try that. I made a road trip playlist, and loaded the front of the playlist with 30 minutes straight of that song on repeat (8x). I thought I would see how long I lasted. I am happy to report I made it all 30 minutes. And yes, it did get better over time. In the middle there, I got a little bored with it, but by the end I came back around. It was a little jarring when a different song came on my playlist though!

I stopped for lunch about halfway, apparently in a town called Normal, IL. I found a Panera, and had the Fuji apple chicken salad.

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The drive was fine until I got to Chicago. I spent about an hour less than a mile from my hotel, sitting in traffic. The Chicago Marathon was this weekend, so that just made things worse. I have never been so happy to hand my keys to a valet.

I wanted some downtime before the game so I relaxed in my room and had a flapjacked smores muffin in the room for dinner.

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…which I came to regret later because I was STARVING at the game and couldn’t find anything I could eat, until I found a salad and it was the most exciting thing ever. But we’ll get to that. Let’s do some pictures.

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The train was PACKED!

First view of Wrigley:

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This is Wrigleyville. There are places (bars) that have stadium seats on the roof where you can watch the game without a ticket!

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And the inside. I was at the top of the centerfield bleachers, right below the old scoreboard.

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I was surrounded my plenty of nice Cubs fans, who grew rowdier as the beer flowed. I definitely got messed with a little bit, but it was all in good fun. Anytime anyone found out I had come by myself, they said “you’re brave.” It was a good game, but a frustrating ending. That being said, I also now really understand how much home field advantage matters. The momentum is everything.

Saturday morning I went for a run along Lake Michigan. To be perfectly honest, the lake made me strangely claustrophobic. It’s so strange to be to have something that looks like an ocean, but to know there’s land on the other side. I felt very landlocked. California problems, I suppose. It was a beautiful morning for an exploratory run though!

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On my run, I actually had an extremely awkward encounter with one of the Giants’ broadcasters. I said hi…and she looked confused and then I realized I didn’t actually have anything to say…awkward all around. Oh well.

Next on the agenda was brunch! I went to Wheat’s End, a totally gluten free cafe and bakery. There was a bit of a wait, so I put my name on the list and walked around a little bit.

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I started with a decaf cappuccino, and then got a side salad and popover with honey butter.

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I also got a pumpkin cinnamon roll for later but had half of it then because it was warm! Yum!

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Next stop?

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The bean!

Obligatory bean photos:

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I hung out at the bean for a little while. It was an interesting place to sit back and watch the city.

The other “must do” thing for Chicago was a visit to the Field Museum. It was about 2 miles away, so I meandered my way over, stopping to finish my cinnamon roll along the way.

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Look what I found! Lots of streets were blocked off for the marathon.

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I really enjoyed looking at the animal exhibits, especially now that I work at a zoo. It was interesting to read about and compare the animals to what we have at the Saint Louis Zoo.

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Look—Somali Wild Asses! I watch these guys 🙂

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Terra Cotta soldiers.

Next on the agenda was a super quick coffee date with a Stanford friend who just moved to Chicago. It took me FOREVER to get there thanks to traffic, and unfortunately we didn’t have a ton of time together, but it was great to catch up!

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I headed to the hotel to get ready. I felt so puffy every night: long sleeves+sweatshirt+giants shirt+fleece. I was cold in the bleachers thanks to wind, but my seats the next night were much more covered (and better!)

To be honest, I wasn’t feeling too great most of the day, and the soup place right by the train stop was a godsend. Exactly what I needed. It was called Soupbox, and I got carrot ginger bisque which was fantastic on a chilly day!

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(It came with a free topping, so I went with artichoke hearts.)

My seats for Saturday’s game were awesome. I was on the first base side in the lower level. It was also a lot less rowdy. A lot of older couples with season tickets. I apparently got the woman next to me’s son’s ticket!

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See that old scoreboard? I was right under that the previous night. Near the second to left column at the top.

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Sadly, we lost again. It was rough. To be honest, it was really hard being a Giants fan in a different city. It was sort of demoralizing/soul crushing. I’m so glad I had the awesome experience of going to Wrigley to see a playoff game, but I left feeling sort of emotionally crushed. I think my boys need to go home to the home crowd. We still have a chance, and we need to get it done!

Luckily, I had a blueberry muffin from the cafe early to ease my pain.

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The next morning, I walked around a little and stopped at Starbucks for some herbal tea and a banana, which I paired with a Luna for breakfast.

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I loved walking around the chilly city in the morning. I really liked Chicago. It reminded me a lot of San Francisco, and it makes me want to take more advantage of SF when I get home.

Then, it was time to make the trek back. It was actually not bad at all, although I was expecting it to be rough. I blasted some music (my Knoxville playlist) and enjoyed the open country. I’m at the point in my life where there is just SO much to think about. Driving through the midwest countryside is also super easy, compared to driving through CA (like from SF to LA).

I stopped halfway through for lunch+gas. I didn’t leave with a full tank because there wasn’t much in Chicago, so I got pretty nervous when it was time to get gas and I was in the middle of NOWHERE. Seeing gas+Subway was beautiful.

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I got a chopped salad with carved turkey (WAY more delicious than the normal turkey breast—it’s thicker cut), provolone, olives, tomatoes, oil and vinegar, and salt and pepper. I think Subway is the most underrated “healthy fast food.” There are a lot of great options, and you can literally find one anywhere, which is great if you’re in the middle of nowhere or in an unknown place.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, but it was nice to see the arch as I drove in. St. Louis is much more familiar! Also, coming home to cats? The best.

It’s honestly so great to be at a point in my life where I can just drive to a new city alone, and have a great weekend. It also gives me more confidence that no matter where I end up, I’ll be just find. I think the people you’re with are ultimately more important to the place, and it’s so exciting to go to different parts of the country, even driving through farmland.

It was quite the trip. I’m glad the drive went well, because I have an even longer solo drive coming up soon!

In summary: Chicago is a fantastic city, I had a great time, and GO GIANTS! Don’t stop beliEVEN!

 

 

 

But I’m Glad I Did

I feel like this weekend was full of “I almost didn’t do XYZ….but I’m glad I did.”

So with that theme, let’s get to it!

The weekend began with a surprise when I got home from work: a package from my parents! Best. Delivery. Ever.

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There was nothing “I almost didn’t” here though, because this was totally unexpected.

Yay!

To kick off my Friday, I bit the (expensive) bullet and ordered delivery from the vegetarian restaurant that is the sister restaurant to my spin studio where I teach.

I almost didn’t because it was crazy expensive (the delivery)…but I’m glad I did. The weather was yucky and with traffic, it would have taken forever to get home.

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I got a MASSIVE kale salad (I almost didn’t order the half size but I’m glad I did!) It was oil free, with marinated kale (in lemon juice?), scallions, sunflower seeds, tomato, avocado, and nutritional yeast. YUM. I also got a side of local, fresh and warm GF bread, and veggie spring rolls with truffle dipping sauce.

This was so good, but I was SO FULL after this. I was really looking forward to doing a baking experiment that night, and drinking an Oktoberfest beer while watching my college football team and the Giant’s game, but I couldn’t handle it. I settled for a microwave pumpkin pie thing. Pumpkin pie filling+egg whites+whipped cream, and a Dove milk chocolate ghost.

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The football game was ugly but the Giant’s game was AWESOME. I stayed up past midnight watching it (yay time difference), but it was so worth it.

Saturday morning I taught spin. I almost didn’t make a fresh spin class (I would have adapted an old one), but I’m glad I did because everything just flowed really well. I surprised myself by having pretty wobbly legs coming off the bike! I think you can check it out on Spotify here.

I went straight from spin to check out the Soulard Farmer’s Market,

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The market first started in 1779! Crazy! It’s pretty similar to Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, but on a smaller scale.

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I quickly realized I should have actually come with a plan about what I wanted to buy…I made a full pass through before stopping!

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My first purchase was beet, apple, carrot, ginger juice. Yum!

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Then, I got a chicken tamale. I absolutely love tamales. I took this outside and sat on a ledge while I ate this and decided what I wanted to buy.

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I almost didn’t buy this…but I’m glad I did because it was so delicious!

My plan for the rest of the morning was to go for a hike, since the weather isn’t too cold yet! I had to spend some time at home charging my phone before heading out. After sitting around, I was feeling lazy and I almost decided to just stay in…but I’m glad I went out. The plan was Route 66 State Park.

I was a little confused about where to go to reach the trailhead. I drove a few circles, and when I arrived at the visitor center and realized the trailhead wasn’t in the same place, I almost didn’t go in but I’m glad I did. There was a little history museum inside.

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I also learned some really interesting history about Route 66 State Park. It used to be the beach town of Times Beach, where St. Louis residents would spend their summers. Later, people lived there year round. Then, it was found to have been contaminated with dioxin, and evacuated. Years later and after having it cleaned, it was turned into a state park. (More info here if you’re curious.) I couldn’t see any evidence of the town while I was hiking around; it just looked like nature. It was crazy to imagine what it would have looked like back then, full of people.

While looking for a trailhead, I found myself at the boat dock. Which was not the trailhead. But I’m glad I made the stop, because I got a great view of the river.

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Finally, I found the trailhead, and while I enjoyed the scenery, I realized I made a bit of a mistake, as there were swarms of bugs (mosquitos) that would attack me anytime I stopped.

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I didn’t do the full loop; I decided that since there was a good paved portion, I would save it for a run, when more leaves have changed. Plus, I had a baseball game to watch!

I really planned my day around watching the Giants game. It is crunch time! I got MLB tv for super cheap, so I’m able to stream the games. And, I finally got my beer.

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My trusty sidekicks stuck with me through it all.

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It was an AMAZING game. Our rookie pitched amazingly, and got 2 hits! THAT is what October is all about.

My big experiment of the night was a pumpkin bread sort of attempt. I wanted to see if it was possible to make pumpkin bread from pumpkin pie filling. The answer?

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Ehhhh….not really. It wasn’t BAD per se, but didn’t really resemble pumpkin bread. I think my pumpkin ratio was off. It was more like a cross between pie and bread. Oh well, can’t win them all.

Saturday night, I took Claritin because Yoyo was threatening to sleep in my bed (he didn’t). It’s SUPPOSED to be non-drowsy, and I’ve never had an issue before. However, I was shocked to look at the clock and see it was almost 9 when I woke up Sunday morning! I woke up still so, so tired.

I spent the majority of the morning on the couch with the kitties because I felt so out of it.

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I had planned on a morning run, but since I was feeling so off, I almost didn’t. But I’m glad I did. It was exactly what I needed to shake the drowsiness, and I felt 1000x better and more awake afterwards.

I was running late, but I whipped up a quick lunch of egg whites+spinach+garlic and herb laughing cow, plus pineapple. The nectarine was from the farmer’s market the previous day, and it was just not good.

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Then, it was time for the main event of the weekend: Oktoberfest! I’ve never been to one, and one of my intern buddies found one last one (apparently they were all in September…whoops) in Grafton, Illinois. I almost didn’t want to go because it was an hour away, but I’m so glad I did!

I’ve never been to an Oktoberfest, and I’ve never been to Illinois. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

Armed with a live stream of the Giant’s game, we headed to Illinois.

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The first goal was to find some German beer, one thing I was excited for. At least at Oktoberfest, I didn’t have to worry about accidentally ended up with some sort of IPA!

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It was a smaller event, but it was still a fun trip! We got seats out on the water.

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And grabbed some snacks. Potato salad and applesauce for me.

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Even better? The Giants were killing it, and we WON! We are headed to the wildcard game on Wednesday!

I actually mentioned my blog to my zoo friends, so if you guys are reading: hi!

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I actually really enjoyed driving through the Illinois countryside. I really like seeing different parts of the country. I really enjoyed driving through TN as well over the summer. It’s so different from anything in California, even if it doesn’t seem like much.

On the drive back, I thought about how truly happy I was in that moment. Sometimes these moments are small, but they’re something to hold on to. (I’ve actually been thinking about best moments a little lately, so I thought I might do a fun post on that soon).

I am also really loving this fall weather. The cloudy skies. The leaves. The light changes. It was drizzly out, so when I got home, all I wanted for dinner was grilled cheese and tomato soup.

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The best part of cooking and buying all my own food is that no one can judge me for using American grilled. cheese. American is the only way to go for grilled cheese or burgers (unless we’re talking gourmet). I absolutely cannot do cheddar grilled cheese. I got the 2% American cheese in hopes that it might hold up a little bit better and be less soft.

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It was delicious. Judge me.

I almost didn’t buy the cheese and soup but I’m certainly glad I did. This was the perfect way to wrap up the weekend.

What is something you’re glad you did?

It’s Crunch Time, My Friends

Well, we’re in the home stretch. My app will be submitted on Friday. Lots to do before now and then! (Just a note for anyone who may see this post and benefit: I’m submitting my app about a month before the deadline so everything has time to process, just in case!)

Although it’s Tuesday, I thought we could still do a little weekend recap!

My Saturday morning began with a fun spin class and a trip to the farmer’s market.

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I really, really love figs. And California peaches—they cannot be beat! Pro-tip: put your farmer’s market peaches in the fridge ASAP even if they are still hard. They ripen super fast and will start to rot otherwise! (I knew this but still failed to do it…)

For lunch, I picked up a falafel salad with tahini dressing from a food truck.

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And enjoyed the last of the caramel sauce with Halo Top and whipped cream.

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The afternoon was low key, but dinner was delicious. We had grilled romaine salad with avocado, chicken, and grilled corn. Last time we made this salad, we used grade B maple syrup for the dressing, and this time we used syrup that was less than A. It made a HUGE difference—I’m never going away from B again! This was sweeter with less mapley flavor and the whole salad didn’t hve the same “wow” factor as before.

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I was in the mood to bake, but didn’t want to commit to a giant loaf of bread, so I tried the 2 ingredient cookies I’ve been seeing all over the internet lately. 2 bananas, 1 cup of oats, 12 minutes in the oven at 350. I spiced them up a bit by adding some milk and semi sweet chocolate chips (I may or may not have gone to the store exclusively to buy milk chocolate chips, but worth it!), and fresh strawberries to some of them.

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The verdict? Delicious, but I highly recommend adding chocolate chips. They MADE them.

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Sunday morning, I went for a run! I went to my favorite place ever to run, down by the reservoir. It is just so beautiful there. I was struck by the fact that the last time I ran there, I was running on a stress fracture. I ran 3 miles! This is a big deal, because it’s the furthest I’ve gone since my stress fracture. I don’t think I’m going to be running longer than 3 miles for a while though. It’s a good distance, and there’s no reason to take any risks. My foot definitely doesn’t feel as good as new. It feels really creaky, and I think there might be some scar tissue there. But again, I am being careful.

Sunday afternoon, I went to a Giant’s game with my friend. It was AMAZING weather. No jacket—what??

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My lunch was actually a salad. At a baseball game. I do concede that that is sort of ridiculous. I normally get amazing flatbread, but I’ve gotten it the last couple of times. This beet+parmesan salad was delicious though!

We left a little early to get on the train to go home, and in that time the lead was blown and we lost. :/

I was hungry by the time we got home, so my family and I quickly threw together fig and goat cheese salad with grilled chicken, and had some of the homemade buttermilk biscuits my mom whipped up that morning.

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Monday consisted of vet school apps and a hard but fun Crossfit workout. We worked on snatches, and I was able to hit the prescribed 65% feeling good!

The WOD was full of all the things I love to do. I was the only one in the class, and would have preferred someone to suffer through it with! It was:

10 rounds: 5 pull ups, 7 front squats, 9 push ups

I think it took me around 16 minutes? I used 75# for the pull ups.

Food highlights for the day included butternut squash, chicken, and quinoa stew with roasted brussels spouts:

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And leftover graduation cupcakes from the freezer:

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2 months later, I stand by my decision to ask the cupcake place to switch the dulce de leche and chocolate frostings, resulting in dulce cake with chocolate frosting, and chocolate cake with dulce frosting.

The best part? I still have 2 more in the freezer, which I’m eyeing for dessert tonight!

Did you ever apply to grad school? How was the process?

 

Giant’s Race 2015

Hello! Guess who did a race this past weekend?

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The Giant’s Race finishes in the Giant’s ballpark. It’s awesome. It was my first ever race! This year I did the 10k, not the half like I did the past 2 years. I had a hard time with my training for my April half because I was so sick, that I was just not up for it. That, and I had no time or energy to train with work. This summer I was on my feet 8 hrs a day, and half marathon training plus that would have torn up my feet!

So, I settled on the 10k.

It’s so crazy to me. 4 years ago, I ran this race for the first time.

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I was about to start my freshman year of college. Where the heck did the time go?? When I ran it 4 years ago, I actually won my age group. I was in my best shape of my life at the time, and followed a strict training schedule to work up to that distance (at the time a PDR). This year, I ran the race about 7 minutes slower. Instead of moaning about how much slower I’ve gotten, I’m appreciating how my body has changed to allow me to run this distance without issue, essentially without training.

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I didn’t have any expectations for the race. I didn’t want to die, but I wanted to run a decent pace. I was actually a second away from my last minute goal time. I mostly just wanted to enjoy this race. It’s an amazing course-along the Embarcadero, under the Bay Bridge, and out past Fisherman’s Wharf. Bonus-the 10k is flat. The half marathon course actually goes to Chrissy field, with a fantastic view of the Golden Gate.

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The energy of the runners is amazing as well-lots of like-minded people (aka Giant’s fans). Plus, finishing on the field never gets old. I definitely enjoyed this race!

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After the race, I met up with my mom and grabbed a complimentary post-race beer, just because I could. Yayy for 21. I only had a few sips though because we had other plans for beverages that morning!

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There was also a little sandbag toss, for prizes. Of course, I had to take part. I nailed my first 2 bags right in the whole. I still have some softball player left in me, and walked away with some new sunglasses!

After my coffee exploration in New York, I figured I should use a trip to the city as an excuse to try some of the best San Francisco has to offer! I picked out a place, and it turned out they had gourmet and gluten free doughnuts! Dynamo Donuts. We arrived minutes before they opened.

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I had a chocolate raspberry and a lemon buttermilk gluten free donut. Both were delicious, and you definitely could not tell they were gluten free.

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Plus, OF COURSE a cappuccino. Excellent as well. Good coffee is just so much smoother, and without the bitterness.

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Overall, it was a great morning!

Tell me-where’s the best coffee?