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St. Louis, I Missed You

Hello! I’m blogging to you from the other side of the country this morning. I’m in St. Louis! I haven’t been here a full day, but I’ve already taken a ton of pictures! My hotel happens to be literally right next to my second favorite coffeeshop in St. Louis, Comet Coffee, so I figured I would take advantage, enjoy a delicious cappuccino, and catch up. Plus, my friends requested a later morning!

I left for the airport at 4:30am yesterday….ouch, that was early. We ended up getting delayed on takeoff 45 minutes, which led to a tight connection and running through the Minneapolis airport for me! I swear, that was the biggest terminal! I was disappointed I had zero time though, because that airport actually has a lot of great, healthy food options, and I had to just grab the first random salad I saw!

Finally, around 2:30, I landed in St. Louis and was surprised by the 90 degrees and humidity.

As I drove into the city, it really hit me how much I like and miss this city. I had such an amazing time here. I honestly never understood the true appeal of summer and summertime activities until I lived in Tennessee, and then here. It just feels so laid back. I miss that a lot, and I’m determined to bring more of that back home with me!

My first stop was the zoo to visit some of my animals.

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First stop was my bear, Kali!

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I was happy to discover I could still ID the chimps.

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The handsomest gorilla <3

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Other friends:

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^SWAs (Somali Wild Asses)

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Around closing time, the sky started to darken, so I headed back to my hotel to check in. I was SO excited to be greeted by this complimentary gift:

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St. Louis classics: Gooey Butter Cake and Fitz’s root beer! (You may recall my visit to Fitz’s in this post.)

I did break into some of the gooey butter cake right before bed (my most common gluten reaction is to get SUPER sleepy, so I figured why not), and it was AMAZING.

Right after I checked in, my friend came over and we got ready for a night out. On the way, we picked up Jimmy John’s and I got a turkey “unwhich.”

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Then, we were off to ballpark village!

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It was sort of surreal to have my SF baseball team playing, all the way across the country!

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My friend won a cocktail party, which basically meant cheap drinks for us at one of the places there. When in St. Louis, you go for $3 Budweisers. For the record, Budweiser is better here (and you can get Select, which I don’t see at home).

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It was pretty incredible to be able to step out on the balcony and be able to clearly watch the game. Storms rolled in about halfway through, so we returned inside and waited out the rain delay there. Finally it was back on!

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It was so much fun to be back with these people, and I love that a large part of St. Louis’s night life is centered around baseball!

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We left during the top of the 9th to avoid crowds, but I watched the exciting (we came back from behind to win!) ending from my hotel.

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One of the things I love about St. Louis is how easy it is to just go downtown for the night. It is such a production to go into SF to do anything, especially on a weekend night. Parking is a nightmare in SF, so I rarely make it up there.

Saturday morning, I slept in (does it count as sleeping in with the time change?) and then dropped into my Crossfit here! It was so, so nice to see everyone and get a good sweat in. We did lots of shoulder strength pre-WOD, and then the WOD was 15 minutes of push press, rowing, lunges, and pull ups.

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They even gave me a pair of sunglasses to take home! <3

After Crossfit, I headed to Comet, as per the start of this post, and had a delicious decaf cappuccino.

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I think this coffee might actually be better than Blue Bottle….

I’m excited to go to Blueprint tomorrow!

I have to say….after being home for 6 months, coming back I like it here even more. I could even see myself coming back here, who knows? I really do want a change from California at some point, and once I’m done with school, living in California will be really expensive. So we’ll see!

I’m off for more adventures in a bit! Catch ya later!

Blogmas Day 7: Best Coffee in St. Louis, Ranked

Happy Blogmas! I hope everyone is having a fantastic start to this busy month!

Today’s Blogmas post will conclude my Coffee Tour of St. Louis, where I tried all the top ranked coffeeshops in the city, in search for the best place. I used this list as my guide, and added another place that I frequented. One that was also highly rated that I didn’t try was Coffee Cartel, so if I ever return, I may have to try that!

After 3 months of research, here’s my list. I’m linking to my visits and initial impressions. I evaluated each place by ordering a decaf cappuccino, and scored based on taste, milk foam, ambiance.

  1. Blueprint. This was actually the first place I went, but it looks like I lucked out with my first! High quality coffee, and you can tell they know their stuff. In addition, a ton of other coffeeshops in this area brew Blueprint coffee, so you know it’s legit. img_0439
  2. Comet Coffee. High quality coffee and milk foam, and bonus for serving the coffee in a mug with a black cat.img_0202
  3. Living Room (ArtHouse Coffee). To be honest, I had the hardest time remembering this place at the end of my time here, but past Aurora ranked it pretty highly.
  4. Foundation Grounds: This one won in terms of ambiance. It was a cozy, bright shop and felt like the perfect place to curl up with a cappuccino and a laptop on a cold day.
  5. Rise. This was a solid cappuccino, and I wen there several times to study.
  6. Kayak Coffee. This wasn’t on the original list, but it was nearish to the zoo, and I went there a few times to study since the food was good. The coffee looked excellent, so I decided to try it out! I loved the presentation: served with sparkling water and a chocolate covered espresso bean. I also had a maple pumpkin latte here that was awesome.
  7. Mississippi Mud House. Good milk foam, quality coffee, really cook vibe. It’s at the front of an art gallery. My cappuccino was a little on the milky side, but it was high quality milk. I really enjoyed the drink but I’m docking a little bit due to deviation on style.
  8. The Mud House. I liked the coffee a lot, but I’m pretty sure my decaf was actually full caff which made me a little sick. The food was really good as well. I went there again on my last weekend for cheesy grits and kombucha.
  9. Sump Coffee. This coffee was really, really good. However, they didn’t offer decaf, and the neighborhood wasn’t the greatest (not dangerous per se, but I was a little worried about leaving my car parked on the street).
  10. Park Avenue Coffee. I didn’t really like the cappuccino, and the milk foam wasn’t great. However, they have some of the best gooey butter cake in the city (featured on Food Network) in a crazy variety of flavors. I can attest that it was delicious. Also, I didn’t try the original location, I tried the Hill location.
  11. Northwest Coffee Roasting Company. Not my favorite coffee, and no air conditioning which was little rough on an August morning.

There you have it! My full coffee rankings for St. Louis. Next up—San Francisco?

Where is your favorite coffee?

 

Blogmas Day 4: Best Moments

Today in Blogmas we’re taking a break from recipes (more to come though) to talk about something a little bit different: being grateful and finding light in dark times. Everyone has been talking about how 2016 was a terrible year, that we’re just waiting to end. While a lot of terrible things did happen this year, life is too short to write off a whole year, or even a whole bunch as we wait for 2016 to end.

As 2016 draws to a close, I encourage everyone to take a moment and look back on the good times in 2016. What’s done is done, but we can shift our mindset. Don’t let the negatives wash out the positives for 2016. Life really is filtered by whatever attitude you take on. I challenge you to look back over the past year and find 10 of your “best moments.” 10 times that you were exhilaratingly happy, times that you were proud, times that you felt loved. Let go of the negativity and hold these 10 best moments close to you as we hop into 2017.

For inspiration, here are my best moments.

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A fantastic night with a best friend resulted in a victory in which we won expensive wine.

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I finally made it out to some Stanford baseball games. One of my big college regrets was not going to more games, so I made it happen in my final year.

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Doing better than expected in the Crossfit Open. I didn’t rank super highly by any means, but I made some big breakthroughs in Crossfit and I think they started to come out in the Open. Plus, good workouts with good people? Always fun.

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Going to Seattle for spring break with some of my best friends, and especially this night. I had dark beer for the first time and the beer I had was the best I’d ever had. Still on a beer kick since then!

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Running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in DC. This race was a dream for me to run, and I was so excited to get in through the lottery. I may have been slightly sick, had a broken foot, and run in sub-freezing 50 mph wind, but it was all totally worth it.

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Going to a beach house with some good friends. It was so great to spend time together, get off campus, and unplug (no cell signal there).

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Not letting the boot hold me back. I tried to have fun with it and do all the same fun activities with it. I put lights on it. It was my pal, my trusty sidekick. Always find the positive in negative situations.

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This is one of the moments where I was just so overwhelming happy. I had a little graduation party during the last week of school, and everyone I care about came. It was incredible. There was a school tradition of walking around campus as a giant group on the last night of the year, ending in the fountain. I had never been since I would usually go home earlier than that, and everyone wanted to go. I had just gotten my boot off and could barely walk, and surely couldn’t make it all the way across campus on foot. My friends literally took turns carrying me across campus. So grateful for them.

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Visiting Emily in Nashville when I was living in Tennessee. I had such an amazing time, and it was great to see a friendly face and catch up after some time living alone, plus getting some solid life advice.

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My time in Knoxville was incredible. I think one of the best moments was leading an alpaca around, although I don’t have pictures of that for confidentiality reasons. It was one of those moments where I just thought, “this is so freaking cool.” When I came home, I felt like a completely different person thanks to all my experiences there. And it got me even more excited about my future career path.

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Coming home from Knoxville and seeing old friends, and getting a good look at this view. I love my city.

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Doing something I never thought I’d do: go to a country concert. After living in Tennessee for 5 weeks, I felt pretty qualified to attend a Florida Georgia Line concert in St. Louis. I went alone, but still had a blast. Made me miss TN!

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The Giant’s wildcard win, which was incredible and allowed me the chance to take a trip to Chicago (my first time there!) to see my home team play in the playoffs. We can also toss in our Game 3 victory which was the biggest roller coaster of emotions and kept me up past 3 am.

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Bottle feeding young goats at Grant’s Farm. Or even just being surrounded my goats. I love goats.

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Running the Halloween Race in St. Louis. It was my grand return to racing post-stress fracture, and it’s always fun to do races in new cities.

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Yindi (Tasmanian Devil) playing with a pumpkin. This made my morning, my week, and my year. This was the only thing that was going to cheer me up the day after the election.

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Wine tasting in Missouri wine country with my fantastic coworkers. But seriously, my zoo buddies were incredible and I miss them dearly!

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And finally, having the opportunity to spend hours a week with this fantastic creature. I miss Kali!

What is one of your best moments?

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.

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

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Plus a bowl with chicken and a very jiggly egg.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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Sunday morning I woke up to this:

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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.

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And then finally I said goodbye.

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But with every goodbye comes a hello.

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

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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?

Last Day At The Zoo

Hi friends. It’s Friday night and I’m cuddling with Scooby in my bed while listening to the crazy wind outside.

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The weather here is crazy. Get this: yesterday: highs of about 80. No jacket weather. Hot. This morning: similar. About 70 degrees. The rain started and it was warm. One hour later, the temperature dropped 10 degrees. And has been dropping steadily since. Lows for tomorrow are in the 20s. What?? I don’t understand crazy St. Louis weather.

This morning goodbyes continued at Crossfit. The workout today was a great one though. We did 5 sets of 5 deadlifts at 65%, and I used 155 lbs. Then the WOD was a partner “double Jackie,” which equated to 2000m row, 100 thrusters (35#), 60 pull ups split between 2 people. The coach matched us up, and I was paired with another coach. So I knew it was legit. We switched every 250m for the row, every 10 for the thrusters, and every 5 for the pull ups. I knew the pull ups were definitely going to be the hardest for me. I can’t really do more than a set of 5 for lots of reps, and my only rest time between sets was while my partner did her 5. So there was very little rest. The last few sets were tough! I already feel things in my shoulders.

Because it was so warm, I was strangely craving a protein smoothie afterwards. It went along well with my plan of using everything up, so I went with it!

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Frozen banana, cocoa powder, milk, Quest salted caramel protein. Plus some snap pea crisps on the side. I’m a little obsessed and have then any time of day.

This morning I had to say goodbye to this goober:

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He was being especially playful this morning. He started by tossing his rawhide bone around the pool, and then came right up to the glass and interacted with this kids.

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What a goof.

I love the sights and decorations around the zoo.

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I especially love the gumdrops.

Today it was supposed to rain, and I almost made it without getting wet. I just hate wet feet. I brought 2 pairs of extra socks to change throughout the day. My feet got super wet coming back from these guys:

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Here’s Saka and Makini looking like they felt just about how I did about the rain:

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Lunch:

Quest chips for protein and a salad with pear, goat cheese, and Newman’s Lite Balsamic.

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And before I knew it, I was at my last observation. I was FREEZING. The temperatures had dropped quite a bit, and with wet feet I stood no chance. I had dry socks, but those only get you so far with wet shoes…

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After work, I went to Whole Foods for dinner+productivity. I majorly struck out with the hot bar. All the delicious looking things either had wheat or tree nuts, so I ended up with 3 forms of potato. Not the end of the world though. Anything you can douse in ketchup, right? I also had some mango kombucha.

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After eating, I pulled out my laptop and got some work done on my Microbiology class. While doing that, I noticed an add on my table for 4 Hands Stout. I went to 4 Hands on the Brewery Tour and have been loving their Chocolate Milk Stout ever since. Well, the add was for some of their seasonal flavors, Gingerbread Stout and S’mores Stout. What?? As it turns out, this Whole Foods had quite a selection of beer on draft. Right??

So naturally, I had to give it a try. With that discovery, my night of studying got a whole lot more interesting.

I ordered a Gingerbread Stout.

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It was delicious. To be honest, not really sure I got the Gingerbread flavor, but it was great stout. Maybe a little milder than the Chocolate Milk?

I spent an hour or so sipping that and doing homework before picking up a treat to take home and eat in front of Netflix, cozied up with a kitty.

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Honestly, this is all I wanted for this night. A coworker invited me to a speakeasy downtown, which sounded like a ton of fun, but after freezing my butt off all afternoon and with rapidly dropping temperatures and crazy wind, I did not particularly want to venture outside again!

Wish me luck as I brave the cold tomorrow!