Category Archives: Food

Disneyland Adjacent (or Downtown Disney)

This past weekend was a bit of a weird one for me. I ended up being in a bad mood on Sunday (for reasons I’m not sure about) and was planning on spending most of the day moping around and feeling a bit sorry for myself. But my plans changed when my friend Michelle texted me to see if I wanted to go to Disneyland for a few hours that evening!

I’m always down to go to Disneyland and even if we could only spend a few hours there I knew it would make my day amazing! I got my stuff together and got into the car to drive to Michelle’s house. But on the drive to her house, she called me to let me know that our passes were blacked out because of the holiday weekend (since we both have Mondays off we sometimes forget about 3 day weekends). We thought about going to Universal Studios instead, but we were blacked out there too.

I got to Michelle’s house and we were trying to figure out what to do. We both wanted to go do something and were torn on figuring out what to do. Finally, we decided that we should go to Disneyland anyway but instead of going to the parks we would get some dinner at Downtown Disney and try to watch the fireworks from between the parks (so we don’t have to pay to get in). And since there is 4 hours free parking at Downtown Disney (a long as you get dinner), we wouldn’t have to pay to park!

We headed down and got to Downtown Disney pretty quickly. We headed over to Tortilla Joe’s (which I love!) and put our names on the list. It was going to be over an hour for a table, but we had time to kill before the fireworks and were happy to walk around Downtown Disney do shop. There are so many things that I would love to buy, I just don’t have the money for it. But it’s always fun to look and there are some ideas of things I want to put on my wish list for the future and maybe to put on a list for my birthday.

We were done window shopping and it was finally time for us to get dinner. As much as I want to drink alcohol right now (and my surgeon said I could as long as I didn’t drink too much), I’m trying to be good and not drink. I really wanted a margarita, but I had to settle for a virgin strawberry one.

It wasn’t as good as a real margarita, but it was a nice change from just drinking water and made dinner feel a bit more special. And as always, the food there was awesome. Michelle and I might have eaten too many chips because we were both so hungry for dinner, but the chips were really good! And I had a tostada salad that I’ve had before there and it was the perfect dinner for me.

And besides just having a good dinner, it was so nice to get out of the house. I’m usually such a planner and having a spur of the moment adventure was a great way to get out of a rut. Plus, Michelle and I wanted to work on planning our next Disney day (which will be in a few weeks) so hanging out at dinner was nice.

After we were done with dinner, we walked over to the esplanade between Disneyland and California Adventure so we could watch the fireworks. I’ve watched the fireworks from there before so I knew while it was a slightly obstructed view it would still be fun. It was a bit weird to be at Disneyland but not to be at Disneyland, but it was still nice to feel like we there that night. We thought about taking a funny photo at the gates of the park trying to reach through, but we ended up just doing a selfie by the gates and were very happy with how our photo turned out (not bad for the selfie camera on my iPhone!).

We were waiting around and knew it was about the time that fireworks were going to start, but nothing was happening. We checked the website to see if we got the fireworks time wrong, but then we just thought that maybe they were a bit delayed. Since we weren’t in the park and couldn’t hear the announcements, we weren’t exactly sure what was happening. But about 10 minutes after the fireworks should have started, someone who was just inside the park walked by and said that the fireworks were cancelled that night.

It’s a bit sad when the fireworks were cancelled, but I understand why they have to do it. Sometimes it’s super windy higher up where the fireworks go and they can’t have the show happening with the wind like that. Or the clouds are too low and they know that nobody will be able to see much. I’m glad that someone told us all because we probably would have waited out there a bit longer to see what was going to happen.

So after that, we walked back to the car and made the drive back to LA. Even though we didn’t get to go into the park or see the fireworks, it was still a fun Disney adventure. It was the perfect thing to do when I needed something to boost my mood. I felt so much better being out at Downtown Disney than I would have if I stayed home. I got a nice dinner with an awesome friend, and I got a lot of walking in that I probably wouldn’t have done.

It really helped to make my Sunday a great day and I’m so glad that Michelle texted me to go on yet another adventure with her!

Trusting It Will Be Ok (or Dealing With Stress In A Healthy Way)

Even though a lot of recent events should have added a ton of extra stress in my life, I’ve been doing ok. I’m not letting any of my health issues get me down since I know that having a bad attitude won’t change anything for me. Money issues are still toward the front of my mind, but I’m also trying to not stress about those. I have had some things get better for me financially recently, but I think understanding my financial status by budgeting has been really great at keeping the stress down. But in the past week, things just have taken a crazy turn for me.

First, my weight loss is going a bit haywire. I know I should be losing weight, but it’s not showing up on the scale. In fact, the scale has been going up a lot recently. I don’t know what’s happening or why things aren’t going my way, but I’m trying to figure out what I can do to control the situation. This is stressing me out because I’m worried about trying different things when other things have worked for me in the past. But I also know that I need to get this under control and going the right way again sooner rather than later. But I also know that stressing about it is not going to help (and telling myself to relax just stressed me out more).

I’ve been stressing a lot about time management lately too. I don’t know why my days seem to be going so quickly and that I don’t have time to do everything, but that’s how I feel. I have a huge list of things to get done every day and I’m not making a huge dent on them each day. I’ve been tracking my time and there isn’t a ton of wasted time each day. Maybe I’m just taking on too much, but I feel like it shouldn’t be too tough to get all the things done each day that I set out to do. I know that going on Disney adventures doesn’t help, but those were on days where it seemed like my week was going to be super calm. But as the week goes on, things start piling up. I’m just trying to keep up with my to-do lists and hoping that something clicks soon.

And the thing that is causing me the most stress, especially in the last week, is the film festival that I run. The festival is happening this weekend, and everything was perfectly in place until last week. We discovered that our contact at the venue was no longer working with that venue and there was no record of our festival being scheduled to be there. Fortunately, the owner of that venue has another venue that we are going to use. But it is causing a lot of unknowns with the festival. I’ve never run it at any other location than our old one so I’m worried that things won’t be ok. I went to the venue for a site walk through earlier this week and that helped. But until Sunday is done, I think this will be causing me a ton of stress.

I hate that things are causing me so much stress, but it is also a good thing for me. In the past, I haven’t always had the best coping skills. Having a binge episode was a common way for me to deal. And when I found out about the venue for the film festival not having us scheduled, the first thought into my head was what I wanted to go eat for dinner that night. Even though I had planned out my meals for the week, I wanted to go get something that wasn’t a part of my plan for dinner. I wanted to eat something that would distract me from worrying about things. But I didn’t do that. I drove home and while I didn’t eat exactly how I had planned to do so that day, I didn’t do anything too extreme. I had to deal with my feelings the way a healthy person does and it wasn’t easy. But I did it and I got through it.

I hate feeling so stressed out about so many things, but this is just how my life is right now. I’m trying to trust that things will turn out ok, and in most cases I can see how things can get better. But until they do get better, it isn’t easy for me. All I can do is trying to get through these issues and know that when it is done I will have better coping skills to get through things in the future.

Adding Gadgets To My House (or Tools To Help Me Out)

While I’m trying to cut back on my spending and bringing more things into my house, sometimes you need to break that rule to make things better. It’s a hard balance to figure out because I’m sure I can justify spending for stuff I really don’t need. So I’m trying to be very picky and making sure that it’s something that I really need and not just something that I want. But there were two gadgets that fit into that rule that I ended up buying this week.

The first thing I got was a lamination machine for my house. Usually when I need to laminate stuff, I go to Staples and pay to get it done. I normally only need one thing or one page so it never seemed worth it to me to have my own lamination machine. But my mom has had one for a while and loved it, so when I was thinking about getting stuff laminated this week I looked into buying one for myself.

I did manage to find one that was heavily discounted on Amazon that would arrive that day at my house (thanks Amazon Prime)! And it was perfect because I have been working on my meal planning and wanted to create a nice reusable meal planning guide.

The machine I got is really easy to use and it came with a bunch of the laminating pages so I don’t need to buy any for a little bit. And I have been able to use the meal planning page I created each day (although I’m still trying to figure out how I can write on this without ruining it). And it’s small enough that it fits into a shelf on my desk so it is out of the way when I am not going to be using it.

The other new gadget I got this week also has to do a bit with my challenge to work on meal planning. I’ve thought for a long time that my kitchen was perfectly set up for me to cook, but I’m aware that I set it up based on what most people need and not what I need. I’m a pretty decent cook and my knife skills are ok, but when I have to cut up a bunch of stuff I’m not so great at it. So I have been looking casually at ideas to make chopping stuff easier and decided I needed to invest in a new cooking gadget. So I went out and got the Vidalia Chop Wizard.

I got it yesterday and used it last night to cook dinner. I made meatloaf muffins and this was perfect for chopping the onions and mushrooms I use it in. It was so much easier than chopping things by hand and everything was uniform so I didn’t bit into a huge piece of onion while eating dinner. I know that this can be used for a ton of stuff and I have a feeling that I will be discovering ways to use it on a regular basis.

And besides the new stuff I bought this week, I’ve been rediscovering stuff in my kitchen to help me with my food goals. I’ve been using my slow cooker (and I found my slow cooker liners so I don’t have to do much cleanup) to make easy meals and I’ve found recipes that don’t require browning food or getting another pan dirty to make the meal (my slow cooker pet peeve). And I’ve been using my food processor regularly the last few weeks and have started to think that maybe I need to buy another food processor bowl and blade so it will be easier to use it multiple times a day.

I know that I can do a lot of the work I’ve been using these gadgets for by hand, but why should I? This is making cooking easier and seems like I could be more likely to keep things up in the long run. The only downside is that I do need to go through my kitchen now and figure out what I really want to keep and what I can give to others because my kitchen is super tiny and lacking storage space. I don’t know where to put everything just yet (there are things all over my house that could live in the kitchen if there was space), but that will be something else I need to work on with organizing my house.

But for now, I’m just so glad that I was ok spending a bit of money to try to make things better for me with figuring other things out in my life.

Brunch Time (or Keeping Up With Our Group)

It’s now the 3rd year that my WIF mentoring group has been meeting and I’m so glad that we have been able to continue meeting as a group. Even though the past 2 years have been without our mentors, I still think our group is just as effective as ever. We have bonded so well as a group and the encouragement we get from each other is so important.

We had our first meeting of 2017 this past Sunday (we’ve discovered that brunch meetings seem to work best for us all) and it was nice getting to see almost the entire group together! We did miss 2 people due to scheduling issues, but it’s pretty tough to get everyone to be able to agree on a date with all the crazy schedules we all have. So we try to pick the time that works for most of us and that’s what we go with.

We had a nice brunch at Rush St (where my birthday party was 2 years ago) and even though it was Super Bowl Sunday, we were there early enough that the restaurant was still pretty empty and it was quiet. We all got there within a few minutes of each other and quickly ordered our food so we could get down to the business part of the meeting.

Every time I’m at Rush St for brunch, I have to get something that includes their tater tots. They are so amazing and even though this was a splurge meal for me, it was totally worth it (it was also my main meal for the day).

Once we got our food ordered, we had our traditional meeting with going around the group sharing what we have been up to for the past 2 months and asking for advice with things that we need help with. Everyone wanted me to go first so I updated everyone on my liver situation, the short film, and the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival (which is coming up this Sunday if you want tickets!).

I realized that I didn’t have too much to update everyone on beyond those things since lately my life hasn’t been too focused on my acting career. I didn’t realize how much I had been slacking on things until talking to the group so it was a big wake up call for me to get my butt in gear and start doing more. I know that I am putting things off because of the surgery in 2 months, but there is a lot I can do before surgery and I want to get things in place to be ready for me when I’m fully recovered (which will hopefully take about a month).

When everyone else was sharing, as always I was so inspired by each of them. While we all are at different stages of our careers, I know that we can all learn from each other and that the experience we each have is valuable. I love getting to hear what everyone else has been doing and the progress they’ve been able to make in the last 2 months. Some of the projects that we talk about are things that people have been working on since our very first meeting. It shows how important sticking with it and not giving up really is to having a successful career. As much as we all want to be overnight success stories, so many of those are really 10 years in the making.

Because of all of our busy schedules, we had to keep this brunch pretty quick so we could all get to our various meetings, events, and jobs. It is awards season right now and there are so many things happening around LA. Plus, with the Super Bowl happening that day, the restaurant was starting to fill up and the sound was being turned on the tv so it was getting loud. So we all wrapped up our meeting and headed out to continue our day.

Our next meeting will be in April and it should be before my surgery. I joked that I wanted to hold the next meeting from my hospital room, but I’m glad that we don’t have to do that in case I’m in too much pain. But I think most of the people from the group are going to be visiting me when I am in the hospital. Plus, since so many of them live in my neighborhood, they have offered to help me out if I need it after surgery. I will have my parents here for about a week and a half, but it’s good to know that I have some amazing friends that can be there for me if I need it.

Time For Some Planning (or Trying A Challenge Again This Month)

It’s a new month and time for a new challenge in my Ink+Volt Planner! First, I want to reflect a bit on my January challenge. I set my challenge to be to work on tumor visualization every day. I set an alarm to remember to do this each morning and most of the time I would be able to do this before the alarm went off. Many mornings, I put my tumor visualization in my morning pages for “The Artist’s Way”. And if I didn’t write about it in the morning, I spent some time sitting quietly and thinking about my tumors getting smaller.

I won’t know if this worked until I have my next MRI in March, but I’m going to keep doing this until my surgery and then after surgery I will be doing liver visualization to work on getting my liver to regenerate quickly. I know that in the past, the power of positive thinking has worked really well for me so I’m looking forward to seeing how well it will work for me this time.

I’ll admit that my January challenge wasn’t too challenging for me. It was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t have to work too hard to do it. So since I did something easier last month, I’m doing something that has challenged me multiple times this month. My February challenge is to work on meal planning again.

I’ve attempted meal planning more times than I can count. I’ve tried doing it with bulk cooking, delivery diet meals, meal replacements, and just trying to cook more at home. They have all had moments of success, but none of them have really lasted that long. So this time, I’m attempting another method to see if this time it will be one that sticks. I believe that eventually, a method will be the one that I connect with and I can’t find that out until I try different ones.

I’m doing a pretty basic meal plan set up. I don’t have a specific diet or plan I’m trying to follow. I’m just trying to plan my meals so I don’t have to think too hard about what I’m going to eat that day and to be better and only getting what I need at the grocery store. I found a pretty basic meal plan printable and I started using that this week.

Originally, I typed in what I was planning to eat but because things keep changing I’ve been crossing things out a lot. I’m thinking about printing a blank template, getting it laminated, and using a dry erase pen or post-its to plan so it is easier to switch things around. There is also a grocery list printable that matches this, but I’m used to writing grocery lists on envelopes (if I’m using coupons) or on scratch paper so I don’t feel the need to use a fancy grocery list.

My ultimate goal would be where I could plan things out on Sunday and do my grocery shopping for the week and be done with it. If I don’t have to go to the grocery store to find something for dinner, maybe I won’t be tempted by all the things I shouldn’t be eating. If I plan things out, I can know exactly how many of each thing I need and then I can make better grocery lists. This could potentially save me money too, but that’s not the focus right now.

My main goal with meal planning is to be successful with following the plan for at least 2 meals a day. Breakfast should be pretty easy, but I do struggle with lunch and dinner a bit. But by having a plan, I can look forward to what I will be eating that day and hopefully it will take my mind off of thinking about what I should go to the store and buy after I’m done with work. I’m also hoping that it will help me with eating a better lunch on days that I’m working out. Sometimes, I don’t make the best food choices on workout days and my workouts do suffer because of that.

I’m not expecting a miracle. I know that there will be a lot of challenges with this and that there is potential that I will not be as successful as I like to be with my monthly challenges. But I have to try because I know that I need to make a change in my life to get into recovery and to lose weight. And if nothing else, this will force me to be more aware and a more conscious participant in my food choices and help to limit the lack of mindfulness that I do struggle with.

This won’t be an easy challenge for me to do, but it’s an important one for me. I’m going to do my best to plan and to figure out the best way for me to do the planning, and hopefully in a month I’ll be able to share with you all that this worked really well for me!

Getting Out Of A Food Funk (or I Need To Get Back To My Good Work)

I had been doing really great with food for the past few months. A lot of it started when I spent the day in the hospital and then was on a restricted diet for a bit while doctors figured out what was wrong with my liver. I lost quite a bit of weight during that time and I was binge free for a few weeks. I know that not having binges and restricted diet obviously helped with the weight loss, but I had also been keeping off the weight so I figured it was also the hard work I had been putting into things.

I’m still having trouble accepting compliments about the weight loss. It does still feel unearned to me in a way because the majority of what I lost was while I was sick so I didn’t feel like I did anything to earn it. I’m finally able to just say “thanks” when someone says I look like I’ve lost a lot of weight and not explain as much that it was because I was sick. But when people ask me what I did to lose the weight, then I end up telling them about being sick and the restricted diet I was on for a while.

There have been a lot of splurge meals lately. I need to be able to enjoy food and not stress about it, so I do allow splurges. The key is trying to get back on track with the next meal and not waiting for the next day, next week, next month to do so. I had been doing ok with that as well and I have been trying to plan my food around the splurge meals to try to eat lightly before and after the big meals. I think I’m a lot better at planning for before the meal than after, so I try to make those bigger meals dinners.

But this past week, I’ve been struggling a lot. It happened the day after my appointment with my therapist (ironic timing). I’ve had more binges in that week than I have had in a week in a while. The only good thing is that the binges are significantly fewer calories than they have been before. A lot of the binges are 1/3 or 1/4 of the calories of the old ones (yes, I track calories during binges when I can). I think that while this is a set back, it is progress at the same time and showing that my relationship with food is getting better. Obviously no binges would be better, but binges that are only 25% as strong as the old ones were is good.

From all the “bad” days I’ve had this past week, I’m up about 5 pounds. It’s not that much (and as a friend pointed out to me this gain could also be related to hormones), so the fact that I’m aware now is hopefully a sign that it will not continue to go up much and I can get it back down to where it was and then start making progress on my weight loss again. While my focus of getting my body ready for my liver surgery isn’t weight loss focuses, there is a number that I’d love to get to on the scale before I have surgery.

I know that being aware of these problems is a big step. In the past, I know that I have gone months before I realized that I had a problem. I’ve gained 40, 50, 60 pounds back after a weight loss before I took a second and realized that something wasn’t right. My binges were more of trances and I didn’t get out of the trance as quickly so I wouldn’t know I needed to stop. Awareness is a skill that I’m working on so I’m happy that there is a sign that it’s starting to work in my life. I just need to make that skill stronger and I don’t know how to do that outside of actual practice (which I don’t love because that means I can only work it when I have a binge episode).

I don’t want to blame the holidays for the increase in binges, but I know that having a busy social life can be a part of it. Things will be calming down for me in the next week or so, and hopefully that does help a bit. But on the other side, I know that being bored and having no plans can lead to binges as well so I need to find the perfect balance of busy and bored. It’s a balance that will be tough to find, but clearly I’m working my way toward that since these bad episodes are significantly better than they have been for me in the past.

A Christmas Lunch (or The Levin-Levin-Levine Summit)

I hope that you all had a really nice Christmas! I knew my day was going to be pretty low-key, and it was exactly that and perfect! Not everything went the way I was expecting, but I think overall I had the exact day that I needed.

It’s tradition to watch movies and eat Chinese food on Christmas for me. I love the tradition and I was looking forward to it again this year. The only thing that was slightly stressing me out was getting delivery food. I set it as a monthly challenge earlier this year to stop getting delivery food. And with the exception of getting Chipotle delivered from Postmates a few times (which to me is more about being too lazy to go to Chipotle than it is about delivery food), I haven’t had delivery food since February.

I was ok with breaking that streak for Christmas and was planning on doing just that. But then my friend Sarah Levin (technically we aren’t related but there is a study out there that says all people named Levin are 30th cousins or something) asked me what I was doing on Christmas. I invited her over to watch movies and get Chinese food, but she asked if we could go out for food instead. She had a friend (named Sara Levine) with her and wanted to go out for lunch. That sounded perfect to me and we all met up for Christmas lunch!

The restaurant we went to ended up not being too crowded. It wasn’t one of the restaurants that does Jewish comics on Christmas (those were all booked up), but it had good Chinese food and had a large vegan selection since Sarah is vegan. We ordered several dishes to share (some vegan and some not) and it ended up being a really great selection for us all.

And besides great food, we had great conversation! We had so much random stuff we talked about (somehow the conversation took a dark turn, but that was fine with us all) and since the restaurant wasn’t too crowded, we didn’t feel rushed out or that we needed to hurry up. It was a relaxing lunch and all the food was so delicious!

And of course, with Chinese food you get fortunes and I think we all got some pretty awesome ones.

And because we thought it was so funny that 3 Jewish girls (2 named Levin and 1 named Levine) were together for Christmas lunch, we had to get a photo together. We took some normal ones, but I think the silly ones were best!

After lunch, I was planning on going home and resting for a bit before another friend was going to come over to watch movies with me for the evening. I felt fine at lunch, but after getting home I started to have some bad cramps. I thought at first it could have been from indulging at lunch, but sadly they ended up being menstrual cramps. I haven’t had to deal with those in forever because I was on the pill, but now I get to have them again. One of the reasons I was on the pill and took it continuously was because of the horrible cramps I used to get. Now I don’t have a way of avoiding them.

I texted my friend to let him know of the situation and ended up cancelling our plans. I was taking painkillers, but I was still feeling awful (the cramps ended up lasting about a day and a half so I’m doing better now). My afternoon and evening were spent on my couch with a heating pad on my abdomen, fake fire on my tv, and a good book on my Kindle.

I would have liked to have been able to be social on Christmas evening (I was invited to several parties that night), but my body needed me to rest. I’m working on listening to my body even though sometimes I do push through things because I’m stubborn. And my body said that my evening was going to be low-key and that’s exactly what I did.

It really was a nice way to spend Christmas. I have never really celebrated Christmas so all I care about it the few traditions I have been doing that day. Chinese food is only one part of that, but spending it with friends is important. And getting to combine the food and friends that day made things so much better. I didn’t order delivery food, which is a big risk for me to have a binge episode, so I’m glad I found another way to continue the traditions and to make them even better.

Another Grove Adventure (or Dinner And Not A Screening)

I rarely go to the Grove, so the fact that I went last week was unique enough. But the fact that I went back this week is totally crazy! But since it is the time that I get a lot of invitations to screenings, there is always a chance I’ll be back there. Most of the screenings I go to are at the Director’s Guild or other screening rooms, but from time to time the screenings are at regular movie theaters.

This week, I had been invited to a screening of “Sing” at the Grove. I RSVPed right away, but because it wasn’t a screening hosted by an organization that I’m a part of they said that they overbook and seating will be first come first served. I invited my friend Dani to come with me and since we both had that afternoon free we decided to meet up for dinner before the screening.

The screening was at 7:30 and we figured we should try to line up an hour or so early (that’s what I usually do), so we met for dinner at the Grove at 5. We ended up going to the Cheesecake Factory since it is next to the theater and were seated on the balcony. They have heating lamps out there so it wasn’t too cold, and I liked having the view of all the lights from our table.

We had a nice dinner and discussed lots of random stuff. Some of it was about our tickets for Pantages (it was at dinner that we realized our next show was on Oscar Sunday so we started to work on figuring out when to move our tickets to). And of course since she is my workout buddy we discussed Orangetheory. It’s always nice to be able to get together with a friend for dinner and I’m glad we had some time to hang out that wasn’t before a show or on the treadmills during class.

We enjoyed our dinner of salads and cheesecake (you can’t go to Cheesecake Factory without getting cheesecake!) and then headed to the theater next door to line up. The line wasn’t too full so I figured getting there when we did worked out pretty well. Dani has never joined me for a screening, so she was excited to go to one with me. And close to 7pm, the line started to move and we were getting excited to get inside.

But as we were almost at the front of the line, someone from the studio came over to say that the screening was at capacity and that there were no more seats. This is something I know can happen at screenings, but it’s never really happened to me. Turns out, the line that we saw when we got in line was only part of the line. They had been letting people inside the theater for almost an hour by the time we got there because some people were lining up 2 or 3 hours before the screening.

While I was sad that we didn’t get in, it wasn’t horrible. I do want to see “Sing”, but I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities to see it. I know I’m so lucky that I get to go to as many screenings as I do (movies are so expensive!) so I’m not going to be upset that I missed one of them. There were so many kids in line who didn’t get to see the movie and I feel so bad that they didn’t get in.

Since we no longer had a screening to go to, Dani and I decided to walk around the Grove a bit. The Christmas decorations were just as pretty as they were the week before, but it was so much more crowded there!

We decided to wander around Barnes and Noble where I found some new books I wanted to add to my library wish list plus some books that I want to buy as gifts for people next year. It was funny walking around a bookstore since I haven’t really done that in a while. And there were some sections in the bookstore where there were so many books in a row that I have read! I know I read a ton, but since they are usually on my Kindle I don’t think too much about the number of books I get through.

It was nice getting to window shop in a bunch of different stores and see the various holiday decorations that the stores have, but the crowds at the Grove were starting to get a bit overwhelming. It was tough to walk around without having to stop because there were too many people in front of us. So we decided it was time to leave there before the crowds got even worse.

Even though my plans that night were to get dinner and see a movie with a friend, it was just as nice to get dinner and window shop. Taking time to just walk around and check out what is happening isn’t something I do all the time, so it was a nice change of pace from what I’m used to.

Foodie Con (or Still Not Sure If Conventions Are My Thing)

A little while ago, I was asked if I’d be interested in attending a food convention that would be happening in LA. While I’m not a huge fan of conventions (I don’t love the crowds and overwhelming feeling I get there), I thought this could be something really fun to do. The convention I was invited to was Foodie Con LA and it was held this past weekend.

foodie-con-sign

I was only able to attend on Sunday (I was busy with work and other commitments on Saturday) and originally planned on trying to go with a friend. Unfortunately, my friend couldn’t make it so I headed there by myself and was determined to make the most of my time there.

While there were some really great things about Foodie Con, I was saddened to see that when I arrived there were several empty booths. I don’t know if those people were arriving late, but they weren’t there an hour after opening. It did help to have fewer booths to try to get to, but it was weird to see the emptiness in the space.

But besides the emptiness, I did have some fun there. I still had the overwhelming feeling of being at a convention and it was tough being there alone, but I did meet some cool vendors. I didn’t try anything (my stomach was having an off morning) but it was fun to see some of the new and creative food products out there.

If I had to pick a favorite vendor, I think it comes down to 2 options. The first favorite that I met is a grocery delivery/farmers market box service called Milk & Eggs. I’ve thought about doing a farmers market box in the past, but I’m always afraid that I won’t be able to eat everything in the box (or it will include things that I know I don’t like). But with Milk & Eggs, you can set it up to be more like a regular grocery delivery. They have the farmers market samplers that are very common to see with other companies, but they also have prepared foods and other thing available.

food-delivery

Yes, they have dairy and egg products (hence the name), but they also have pantry items and meat. And some of the things I was seeing online were holiday specials like honey ham and pastas. I don’t know if I want to have something like this delivered to me on the regular, but I like having it as an option. I’ve been thinking about when I have my liver surgery how I may be restricted in lifting things for a while. So a grocery delivery service may be necessary. And I think Milk & Eggs seems like an awesome one to use that is reasonably priced and has a lot of things that I would want to eat.

And my favorite food vendor was Truffles USA. I love truffles. They are just so yummy and when I see a dish that has truffles in it at a restaurant I will usually get that. And Truffles USA is all about truffles! They do sell whole truffles (which are very expensive and totally out of my budget), but they also have a lot of truffle products for sale.

truffle-table

I didn’t buy anything while I was there, but I have a feeling that I will be making some purchases from them soon. I’d love to have some truffle oil or truffle butter to use in recipes. It may help to get some creativity back into my meals. Truffles USA also posts some recipes on their website and I’m seeing if any of them seem to be something I could and would like to make. I’ll share with you any truffle recipes that I test out and love!

There were other nice vendors at Foodie Con, but I didn’t really connect with any of the other businesses there. Some of the stuff was food I wouldn’t really eat (a lot of vegan and gluten-free options compared to non-vegan or gluten foods) and there were a few booths that were so packed with people that I didn’t feel like I could go check it out. Even though there weren’t a ton of people at the event while I was there, it seemed like a few booths were the super popular ones that everyone went to and crowded around.

Overall, while conventions aren’t really my thing, I’m glad I checked out Foodie Con. I did get to meet some cool food people and I have a feeling that I will be checking out some of the vendors to see if I want to order from them at a later time. I’m grateful that I was invited to check it out and hopefully the next time I go to a convention like this I have a friend to check it out with me!

Thanksgiving Prep (or So Little Time)

Leading up to Thanksgiving, I knew there was a lot of stuff I had to get done and I was really trying to plan things out the best I could. Of course, things never work out the way you think they will. I’m just glad I got all my prep work done before I left last week!

The main part of my Thanksgiving prep was getting the food made that I knew I was bringing. I only was bringing 3 dishes with me, but when you have a tiny kitchen making 3 dishes can seem overwhelming! Especially when I don’t have multiples of the kitchen things I was using!

The first thing I made was banana bread. This has become a tradition over the past few years and I’m glad I’m able to make it to help out. It’s a pretty easy recipe to make and I happened to have some bananas that were overly ripe that I could use. I had almost all of the ingredients that I needed for the recipe at my house (except some of the dairy and the blueberries) and it was a quick thing to put together and get into the oven so I could make the 2 other things I needed to make.

The other dishes I was bringing were dips. I made the feta dip that is a tradition with the family (usually my mom makes it but it is now my thing to make). This is another easy thing to put together, but it is something that I usually don’t have the ingredients for in my house. But once you have everything you need, you just throw it all in the food processor and it is done! The other dip I made was a white bean dip that I found online. It was another really easy thing (just white beans, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and lemon) that was a food processor dip. The only complication I had was I only have one food processor bowl. So I made the feta dip, washed and dried the bowl, and made the other dip. Between the dips and the bread, I got everything done within about an hour.

thanksgiving-food

Packing was something else I tried to plan out, but it ended up being something that I was doing while I was working the day I was going to be driving to San Diego. My family now does casual Thanksgiving and that does make things easier with packing. But because I have lost a pretty significant amount of weight lately, I’ve been realizing that many of my clothes don’t fit anymore. So I grabbed all of the things I was thinking of packing and was trying them on between customers. I guess I should just feel lucky that my work is online chat and phones and my customers can’t see me!

Between packing and cooking, I felt like I had enough on my plate. But I also ended up having my liver MRI the night before driving to San Diego. I was at the hospital for a few hours getting it done so that was a bit of a time suck. The MRI itself wasn’t too horrible. Once the IV was in and I was in the machine, it was about 45 minutes. And at this hospital, you can listen to music while in the MRI tube. They had Pandora as an option and I requested the Broadway station. All the songs that played were things that I knew, but the best moment was when I heard my friend AJ singing on the “Heathers The Musical” soundtrack in-between 2 songs from “Hamilton”! That really made me happy and forget about all the stuff I had to do to prepare for San Diego the next morning.

And because all that craziness wasn’t enough leading up to San Diego, on Monday morning as I drove to my workout the power steering in my car died. I’ve never driven without power steering before and I knew that it was something that needed to be fixed before driving down. I took my car into the shop around 10am on Monday and discovered that the power steering in my car isn’t the standard one used so it would be tough to find a replacement part. They were hopeful that my car would be fixed by Friday, but that meant I wouldn’t have my car for Thanksgiving. Fortunately my mechanic offers free loaner cars so I got one of those and drove that to and from San Diego. As I’m writing this, my car still isn’t fixed. They got the replacement part in on Friday, but it’s still not fixing it. I’m hoping I’ll get my car back this week, but at least I have a loaner car to use so I don’t have to pay for a rental.

My Thanksgiving prep did end up being a bit stressful, but it all worked out in the end. I got everything done that I needed to (plus some things I wasn’t expecting) and I had an awesome Thanksgiving trip. But my Thanksgiving recap won’t be until tomorrow’s post!