Tag Archives: food

Runner’s Fit And Fueled Course (or Planning On Starting 2018 The Right Way)

There are several things that I struggle with, but some of them are things I struggle with more often than others. And one of those things that is a constant struggle for me is nutrition and food. This will likely be a struggle the rest of my life as that is the nature of having an eating disorder. Hopefully the struggle is easier to deal with as I get into recovery, but I’ve come to the realization that it will never completely go away for me.

Another thing that has been a more recent struggle for me is getting back into running more. I’ve had some setbacks that have prevented me from working on my running, but I’ve also had excuses that really shouldn’t be stopping me. And I don’t have any 5K races that I’m working toward right now so my motivation for working on my running has decreased. But I do want to fix this as I know how awesome I’ve felt every time I’ve had a new accomplishment with running and I want to get that feeling back.

But I want to really work on both of these struggles in the new year and I think I found an awesome opportunity to do so! I was invited to participate in the Runner’s Fit and Fueled course that is starting on January 2nd! This course will include lessons, videos and handouts that is all about training as a runner and the proper nutrition that runners need.

In the course I’ll get sample meal plans, grocery lists, strength training workouts, a Facebook group for support, and guidance on how to get fit and reach my goals. This seriously sounds like the perfect way to start off the new year for me! It’s not as structured as some of the other nutrition things I’ve done before, but I think that will be good for me. This will teach me how to live normally but accomplish these goals. I won’t be on a strict diet plan that isn’t maintainable for me in the long run.

I’ve done a lot of nutrition things in the past, but this is the first time I’ll be doing a running course too. I know that I’m still a beginner runner, but I want to get better. I know that my endurance isn’t what it was earlier this year and I want to get back to that. I haven’t done a run outside of a workout in a while and now that it’s cooler in the mornings and afternoons I don’t have an excuse not to do them, but I haven’t been doing it. So I’m hoping that the guidance and motivation that I will get in this course will help me get back to that.

Of course, I’m a bit nervous about being such a beginner runner when others in the group might be people who have done marathons or other long runs before. But getting over those nerves to do something that is good for me is something else I need to struggle with. There is no reason why I have to be an expert before I try to get help. There’s nothing wrong with getting help at the beginning of my journey and I’m sure that the others in the group will be happy to help me out. That’s how I feel where there is someone new at Orangetheory and I can help them out.

Since I still have time before this course starts, I want to work on some goal setting ideas for what I want to get out of it. My big goals are a bit too big to be able to accomplish within a month, but I can create some smaller goals that I can work toward. Being better at cooking at home and not having as much sugar in my diet is one thing that I really want to work toward with my nutrition. And for my running I’d love to have some more running PRs with timed events and maybe even run further than I have before. And if I can find a 5K race toward the beginning of the year to use as a goal, that would be awesome too!

The Runner’s Fit and Fueled course starts on January 2nd, but the price goes up on December 15th so I recommend signing up now! And if you use the promo code BOMBSHELL you’ll get $5 off! I would love to have some of my readers in the course with me so we can support each other in reaching our goals!

Another Disney Birthday (or Eating All The Foods Again)

I love getting to celebrate my friend’s birthdays at Disneyland. I don’t really get to do it since my birthday is during the summer blackout for my annual pass. But celebrating someone else’s birthday at Disneyland makes me as happy as if it were my birthday. And this week, I was at Disneyland to celebrate my friend Dani’s birthday!

And not only was it an adventure to celebrate Dani’s birthday, we also wanted to go and try more of the foods at the Festival of Holidays at California Adventure. I had gotten to try several things the last time I was there, but there was so much that I wanted to try. And I still had a lot of tickets left of my Sip and Savor pass and this was possibly the last chance I would have to use it.

When we got to the parks, we immediately headed to the annual pass area for the Festival of Holidays so Dani could get her Sip and Savor pass. We all knew we’d be trying a bunch of food, and the pass really was the best option for us.

Over the time that we were in the parks, we all got to try a lot of food. I personally got the brisket, a eggnog macron, crab salad on polenta, a pretzel, and chocolate pot de creme. It was all delicious and the serving sizes were pretty good. I ate a bit too much, but I couldn’t help myself!

And between the eating, we did get some rides in. We let Dani pick the rides since it was her birthday. She wanted to check out California Screamin’ before it goes down for refurbishment.

And we went on Guardians of the Galaxy where we finally had a new song on the ride! I have now heard 4 of the 6 songs so I’ll hopefully complete that list soon.

And we went on Dani’s favorite ride, Toy Story Mania. It took 2 tries to get on that ride because it broke down right before we rode it, but we returned later that night and we were able to get on before we left.

We usually have a plan when we go to Disneyland, but this time we didn’t. So we ended up doing a lot of walking and going back and forth a lot. It was great because we all got a ton of steps in (we figured we walked about 7 miles that day), but I was feeling some pain.

But when we went over to the Disneyland side, I had a chance to rest. My friend Christopher was at Disneyland with his wife and kids. They were hanging out on a bench waiting to watch the castle light up at night. So we decided to join them and check out the castle. It was a very windy day so we knew the fireworks would be canceled, so this was our only chance for nighttime entertainment while we were there. It was awesome getting to catch up with a friend and we all loved seeing the castle change to the winter look. And while the castle was undergoing its transformation, fake snow was falling which just seemed magical!

The last ride that we went on at Disneyland was Small World Holiday. It’s always so pretty to see all the lights on the facade of the ride.

And the ride is fun during the holidays too. It’s different from the version during the rest of the year and I’m always happy to ride it. I don’t mind the regular version, but the holiday one is much better in my opinion. Maybe it’s all the extra lights that they add inside the ride!

After our ride, we decided to get a nice photo in front of the castle. Michelle’s annual pass includes Photopass photos now, so it’s nice to be able to take advantage of the photographers that Disneyland has. There was a line for the photos, but it went pretty quickly so we were able to get our nice group photo without too much of a wait.

By that point, we had walked back and forth quite a bit between the parks and it was starting to get cold. The temperature wasn’t too bad, but the wind made it feel much worse. We all decided that even though we would have loved to have gone on a few more rides that night, we were ready to head back (and to get into a nice warm car!).

My pass is good for part of next week and then I’m blacked out until the new year. I don’t think I’ll be making it next week but I know I’ll be back in January when my pass is good again. It’s almost time to renew my Disneyland pass and there is no question that I’ll be doing it. I get so much happiness out of my Disney days and I can’t imagine not having them anymore!

Family Thanksgiving (or Relaxing In San Diego)

As I have the past few years, I was down in San Diego for Thanksgiving. My grandma lives there and she cannot travel, so the rest of us come to her to celebrate. And again, my parents rented a house that was big enough for a good chunk of my family to stay in so I didn’t really have to worry too much about planning for the trip.

I ended up going down after I was done with work on Tuesday. I know traffic could be potentially bad so I was prepared to spend a long time in my car. I had to make a quick stop first to pick up some pies I was bringing with me, but it was technically on the way so it wasn’t that much of a detour for my trip. With no traffic, it’s about 2 hours to get to San Diego. But there was one time (not Thanksgiving but another holiday) where it was over 7 hours to get there. But somehow there really wasn’t too much traffic when I was driving and it was under 3 hours to get there. And I arrived just in time to see a gorgeous sunset.

The next day, I started by having to work one of my jobs for a few hours but it was before much was happening at the house. And once I was done working, I grabbed my Kindle and went outside to read. It was pretty hot so I was hanging out in the shade. But I wanted to take advantage of the amazing view that we had from the house.

That evening was my grandma’s birthday party. Even though we had stuff planned every day, the trip was pretty lazy and I didn’t have to do too much at all. It was nice to have time to relax and I definitely took advantage of that.

On Thanksgiving, I had my workout with my family and then I tried to help my mom get everything ready for dinner. We’ve found that it’s actually much easier to make most of the stuff we eat in advance so there wasn’t a ton that had to be cooked. But I did help get the table ready with the plant/place cards I made and decorated with the photos that my mom had printed out.

Everyone loved the plants, especially after we explained the meaning behind them. And it was so fun having family photos on the table because we were all checking them out and remembering when those photos were taken. And while the kid’s table didn’t have photos, they did have their plants and I think they were able to entertain themselves.

It was a bit stressful for my mom to do dinner again, but it turned out amazing! All the food was so good and getting to spend time with almost all of my family is something that I know I am lucky to get to do. It’s nice that we do this every year and that we know this tradition will continue.

After dinner we cleaned up and then things were pretty casual. We were mainly hanging out as a family in the living room and my cousin’s kids were entertaining us. It was the perfect way to spend the evening.

The day after Thanksgiving I had to spend the morning working but for most of the time I was working in the kitchen so I was around everyone. My great-aunt, great-uncle, and second cousin came by later and when they arrived I ended up finishing my work shift in the room I slept in. But I was done about an hour after they arrived so I didn’t miss out on too much family time.

I spent most of that afternoon outside with my grandma. My cousin’s kids were playing in the pool and my grandma and I were watching them. And Tucker seemed to be very focused on them too.

My grandma has some memory issues, but she was having some pretty good days while I was there. So we were talking about the pool that she had at her old house and how all the grandkids loved to play in it. We were always in the pool whenever we were visiting them. And my grandma loved to see kids playing in the pool and having fun. My cousin and her kids aren’t in San Diego that often, so I know my grandma appreciates the time that she does have with them.

And no family gathering would be complete without a game of backgammon. My grandma is amazing at the game and my grandpa used to say that she was a witch because she can always get the roll she needs. She struggled a bit with the game, but she still managed to beat my cousin by getting all the doubles that she needed to come back in the end to win!

As much as I would have liked to have stayed longer, I did have to get back to LA so I could get ready for the next day. I left just before dinnertime and was lucky again that traffic wasn’t that bad. But to get to spend 4 days with my family is something that I know not everyone can do so I’m glad that my schedule and jobs allow me to do that.

The next time we will all be together will be Thanksgiving next year. I’ll see my immediate family before that (and hopefully my grandma too), but to get everyone in the extended family is a once-a-year thing. But that’s ok because we seem to maximize the time we have together.

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Thanksgiving Prep Day (or How Much Can I Fit Into A Day)

While I didn’t try to procrastinate and do things at the last minute, that’s what seemed to happen this week for getting ready for Thanksgiving. I had every intention of getting stuff done the week before and then doing all the last minute stuff the weekend before. But somehow it all ended up happening the day before I had to leave.

Part of the reason was that I ended up going to the Vulture Festival, but that was an awesome reason to procrastinate. And then with the food I had to make I wanted to do things at the last minute because I knew that doing them too far in advance meant that things could spoil. So somehow pretty much everything ended up happening in one day.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but timing was tough. I had a workout in the morning and then had to take my car to the dealership at some point. I had recently taken my car to the dealer for an oil change (I was told that I might get a free oil change at the dealer which is why I went there) and right before taking it in I noticed one of the bolts holding my floor mats down was gone. So I mentioned that at the dealer and they had to order a new part for me. Fortunately my car has an awesome warranty on it so that new part was free. But I had to go back to get it taken care of.

I probably could have waited until after Thanksgiving, but I wanted to get it done. I also didn’t want to wait too long and have them ship the part back or something. It took about an hour and a half at the dealer since it was so busy, but I managed to get some work done while I was there so it wasn’t completely wasted time.

And for the food I had to make, it wasn’t as difficult as expected either. My main concern was that I only have one bowl for my food processor and I needed to use it for 2 different things. But since I made my banana bread and one of the dips in the food processor first, as soon as things were done I washed everything and by the time the banana bread was out of the oven I had my food processor bowl clean and dry to make the feta dip that I needed to do. I also had a few other things I needed to get to help out, but everything else was store-bought so that was super easy.

Packing was also a last minute thing. I had to pack my work stuff but I worked right up until I left so that couldn’t be done in advance. And while I tried to plan what outfits to bring ahead of time, I was still changing my mind right before I left so that ended up being done quickly too. Besides my workout clothes, I don’t think anything that I originally planned to bring as far as outfits go ended up being what I brought with me.

But not everything was left to the day before. There was one project that I started over a month ago that I’ll be bringing to Thanksgiving. If you are in my family and reading this before Thanksgiving, stop reading now or you will have something spoiled for you!

It’s kind of become a tradition in my family that we try to present something to everyone at Thanksgiving. It started a while ago when my aunt and uncle hosted and they created an awards ceremony for us all. We all got an award (even Dante!) and that kind of created a new thing. We haven’t always done something big but there have been some epic gifts for everyone in the past. A few years ago we gave everyone a cookbook that was a collection of family recipes. I use this cookbook all the time (the banana bread and feta dip are in it) and I think everyone in the family loves it!

And the year my grandpa passed away, I helped to find someone to create memory bears out of his sweaters. I don’t know if we will ever create a better gift for the family because those bears are so special and everyone was so surprised that we did it. Only my parents and I knew about them and it was really awesome to see everyone’s reactions to them.

This year, I volunteered to do the gift for everyone. We wanted to do something special, but we also knew that we didn’t need to go crazy with it. My parents and I were thinking about what we could do and it finally came to me one day. When my grandpa passed away and my grandma moved to a different apartment, all of their outdoor plants were going to be tossed out. My grandma doesn’t have an outdoor space and there was no reason to keep them. When I went to San Diego to pick up some stuff that I was taking home I decided to take some cuttings of the succulents to bring back.

I had planted some of the succulents at my house and gave some to my parents as well. And if you know about succulents you know that they can be cut and replanted a lot. So I decided to get some small jars and put a cutting of one of the plants in each one. I made one for every member of the family and there will be a sticker of someone on each one. So these will be gifts as well as place cards for dinner.

I hope that everyone likes them and that they are able to replant them at their homes. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow when they are on the table!

While Thanksgiving prep was a bit more stressful than I would have liked this year, I’m excited to get to be with my family this week. We are so lucky that 4 generations of us get together each year. Not everyone in the family can make it this year, but it will be almost all of us.

Festival Of Holidays (or All The Food, Some Of The Rides)

After my last adventure to Disneyland, my friends and I tried to plan out when we could go for the rest of 2017. We knew that our winter holiday blackouts were coming soon with our passes and we were limited in how many more days we would be able to go. We made some plans for December but we were also hoping to figure out when we could go in November too. We couldn’t figure out when all 3 of us could go, but Michelle and I were both able to go this week so we decided to go for a Disney day!

The timing was perfect because the holiday stuff just started at Disneyland. And at California Adventure they were doing the Festival Of Holidays which consists of about a dozen different food booths with different holiday themed food offerings. It’s similar to what they did during the Food and Wine Festival earlier this year and we were excited to check out what food we could get! And as Annual Passholders, we could get the Sip and Savor pass which allows you to get 8 items for $45. Since most things were more expensive than $6, it’s a pretty great deal!

Michelle got 4 things and I got 3 things throughout the day. And most of the time we split stuff between us so we could each try as many things as possible. I think the salmon and brisket were my favorites so far. But I’ll be in the park at least one more time before the Festival Of Holidays ends (plus I still have 5 more food items I can get with my pass) so I’ll be trying many more.

And our priority was to try all the amazing foods, we did go on some rides as well. We went on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout twice in the hopes that we’d get a new song on the ride. There are 6 song choices and we had only had 3 before. But on the 2 rides we had, both times we had songs we had already heard before. Hopefully we will make it through all 6 songs one day!

We also went on California Screamin’ since that ride will be closing for a bit soon. They will be changing the theme of the ride (but keeping the ride the same) so it will be themed to “The Incredibles”. But we still wanted to make sure we got to go on it before it closed and changed.

And they will also be closing Mickey’s Fun Wheel to change the theme so we made a stop over there as well. We were about halfway up on the ferris wheel stopped because they were loading the cars below us. Michelle and I were focused on the fun view and looking at what food things we wanted to try next.

But we realized after a while that we had been at that spot for a while and when we looked down we realized that there was no longer a line for the ride. I don’t know what happened but it did break down so they had to move it so that each car could get off. But when they got our car down to the bottom it kept moving. It was weird and we thought maybe the ride was working again. But I guess they just made a mistake because it started going backwards so we could be let off. But they gave us a pass to use for another ride and we took that to go on Soarin Around The World.

We also got to see an incredible sunset while in the park. It kept changing colors as the sun was setting, but it looked amazing every time we looked at it.

After those rides and our food, we decided to go over to the Disneyland side. It was pretty crowded over there compared to California Adventure but it was still so pretty with all the holiday decorations up.

It felt so late but it wasn’t even 6pm! The time change really threw me off and I was already starting to feel tired. We tried to go look at the castle but they were filming the tv special that will be airing soon so the castle was blocked by various equipment. We kind of could see how pretty it looked, but I’m looking forward to seeing it another time when the view isn’t obstructed.

And we then had our final ride of the day which was Space Mountain. It’s back to the regular version of the ride, but that feels special since between Hyperspace Mountain and Ghost Galaxy it seems like I never ride the regular version.

We debated about trying to go on one more ride to wait out traffic, but we both were pretty close to being done. Even though we didn’t go on that many rides, we did a ton of walking. My Fitbit said I had done about 17,000 steps which is what we normally do in a full day of rides.

But even being tired while we were walking out, I couldn’t help but smile at how pretty Main Street looked with all the lights.

I’ll be back at Disneyland in a few weeks for sure, but there may be another adventure before that or right after before we are blacked out for the holidays. The holidays are so pretty at Disneyland and I want to make sure I experience it as much as possible before I have to wait a year for it to be back again!

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I Guess I Am Doing Some Cutting Back (or My Willpower Is Coming Back)

I’ve been trying to work on getting my food back on track and it’s not going the way I was hoping. I want to get back to how things were last year but it seems like things are preventing me from doing that. Or at least that is the excuse I have been making to myself. I really want to work on this but it’s not easy and I know that the more frustrated I get about things the harder it will be.

Since this has been so difficult, I’ve wondered if I have lost the willpower I’ve had in the past. It’s never easy for me to have willpower and I know that it’s not something that I can get back easily. And of course, I know that willpower isn’t necessarily real, but it is nice when things are going easily for me and that I don’t have to think about food. I don’t think it will ever be easy for me and it’s been tough to understand that reality. But I think that knowing it is a step forward.

But while I’ve been in a bit of a funk about my lack of willpower about my food, I’ve realized that I haven’t totally lost my willpower. While I’m not a huge clothes shopper, I do like to shop and when I find things that fit and are a good price I usually get them. It’s not too often I find things that are right for me so I feel a need to get them if I do find them. I know that this is a problem and I’ve been trying to be better about not buying more stuff. I’m trying to go through my closet to see what I already own because I have rediscovered things that I forgot I owned. But there are still times that I can’t resist an amazing sale.

But yesterday I was looking at the Nordstrom Rack Clear The Rack sale online and found a bunch of things I’ve been thinking of getting in the sale. There are some dresses I’ve looked at that are down to almost $10 (they were $50 previously). I looked at a bunch of stuff and had a lot of tabs open with what I was thinking of buying. I was just trying to decide what I wanted and what I could skip on getting.

But the more I looked at what I was looking at, the less I wanted to get it. I have been wanting to get a lot of these things for months so I don’t know what changed. Maybe it was the money I didn’t want to spend (even though getting 6 things was going to only be about $60) or maybe I didn’t want to buy things until I lost more weight. But whatever the reason, I closed all the tabs with all the things I was looking at and didn’t buy anything.

It was a bit depressing for a minute thinking that I was no longer interested in things that I have been wanting for a while. But then I realized that not buying this stuff was a bit of willpower. Nothing I was looking at was something that I needed. It was all fun stuff that I liked but could live without. So by not getting them I was resisting spending money that I didn’t need to spend and getting clothes that I don’t need.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I wish my willpower could be transferred from one area of my life to another. I’m good at having willpower for things that aren’t too important, but when it comes to the big things it’s not always there. I don’t necessarily know how to find it again and it’s a mystery to me a lot when I do have it. But maybe being aware of having it in an area of my life that I’m not expecting it I can use that to try to find it where I need it.

I know that being on the right track with my food now is a tough thing. I have lots of things coming up that are going to make it easy to fall into bad habits that I’m trying to avoid. I have the holidays coming up and all the parties that happen this time of year. Again, I don’t want to use these as excuses, but I’m aware that allowing for things to not be as structured as I’d like will help in the long run. I don’t want to feel like I’ve screwed everything up and will try to start another time. I’m not putting off getting back on track because then I will never do it. But I need to find the balance I need to have in my life and the willpower that will help me not go off the rails like I have in the past.

Stock The Crock (or I Hope This Gets Me Back On Track With Cooking)

As much as I want to be an awesome cook, it’s something that has been very difficult for me to get into. It’s always tough to cook when it’s just for you because you know you’ll have a bunch of leftovers for a while. Also, I hate buying a ton of ingredients for just one meal and it seems like many recipes call for things that I just don’t have at my house all the time. But I’m trying to be better about cooking especially since I can use my slow cooker on days that I’m not going to the gym after I’m done with work.

So when I was offered a chance to get a copy of “Stock The Crock” I immediately said yes!

I’ve gotten a few slow cooker cookbooks since I got my slow cooker, but this is the one I wish I had gotten first! So many of the cookbooks I have involve too many ingredients or they require you to cook things before putting them into the slow cooker (I’ll admit, I’m lazy). But this one has an amazing mix of recipes that are simple and basic (but not boring) and the more involved recipes that I haven’t really been doing yet.

When I was looking through the cookbook, everything looked great to me. But one recipe stood out. It was the recipe for chicken with salsa.

This is a basic recipe, but that’s what caught my attention. This really only requires 2 ingredients; chicken and salsa.

The original recipe called for chicken thighs, but they were much more expensive at the store so I used chicken breasts instead. But what’s awesome about “Stock The Crock” is that there is a section for substitutions at the bottom. There are a bunch of different options for how you can change the recipe to fit different dietary restrictions or tastes. And it gives the directions on how to use those substitutions so you don’t have to worry about what to do.

I’m aware that I’m a bit skittish when it comes to cooking. I’ve tried some recipes that sounded delicious and ended up pretty much going immediately to the trash. But most of the time, that happens when the recipes are too complicated or need me to use ingredients I’m not used to using. But since salsa and chicken are both things I’m familiar with, I was excited to try this recipe.

It couldn’t have been easier. Put the chicken in the slow cooker and cover it with a jar of salsa. Then set it on low for about 4 hours (it was a bit faster with the chicken breasts). Once it’s done, shred the chicken and you can use it however you’d like. I decided to make a bowl with rice, some pico de gallo, cheese, greek yogurt (I use that instead of sour cream in most things) and avocado. It was the perfect dinner bowl!

And I have a ton of leftover chicken to use for more bowls or other things. I might see what else I can do with shredded chicken so I don’t waste any of it.

I’ve said this before, but each time I successfully make something I gain more cooking confidence. I don’t know how long it will take before I feel totally comfortable trying to cook new things from time to time, but I have a feeling that this cookbook is going to be a big part of that journey. Even the more complicated recipes are on the easier side. And if they are too complicated, there are enough modifications I can make to make it something that I can do and not need to buy too much stuff.

But I’ve also been inspired by some of the recipes in the cookbook to try some more ambitious things. I know that you can bake using your slow cooker and there are some recipes that I might want to see if I can do it. And getting this cookbook reminded me of how I should be using my slow cooker more often. I don’t think about using it as often as I should because it always seemed like slow cooker recipes were big deals. But this has reminded me that I can make simple and delicious meals. And this is the perfect way to cook when it’s too hot to think about using any other appliances.

I’m so grateful that I was given a copy of “Stock The Crock” because I have a feeling that I will be using it all the time. I have so many cookbooks that only have one or two recipes that I want to try and they just take up space. But this one has inspired me to try lots of new things and I’m getting excited about trying out each recipe and seeing what becomes new favorites of mine!

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An Epic End To The Pantages Season (or We Aren’t Going To Throw Away Our Shot)

This past Sunday was the final show for my group in our current season at the Pantages. While we are a bit sad our season is over, we already have bought our season tickets for next season and we are really excited for that. But what was even more exciting was that the final show for the season was Hamilton! Getting to see Hamilton was the reason many people got season tickets this season. But I think all of us in my group were just excited to see all of the shows. Hamilton was just going to be a super amazing addition to the season!

And as we have done with the past few shows, we went to dinner at Wood & Vine before the show. And Wood & Vine just introduced a new menu with their new chef so we were ready to try some amazing new food and to have some of our favorites! Everything on the menu looked incredible, but we had to try to limit ourselves to make sure we didn’t feel overstuffed while at the show.

We ordered some veggies because they sounded delicious and they were a lighter option. The squash had an amazing butter sauce with some cheese and they were perfectly cooked so they still had a bit of crunch to them. And the carrots reminded us all of eating Honey Nut Cheerios! It was so crazy how sweet they were without having the sweetness overpowering the flavor of the carrots.

And while we knew we’d be ordering the bone marrow again, everything else that we got was something that was new to the menu. We were also able to have the tuna tartare, pork belly tacos, and the branzino filet.

And as we expected, everything was just incredible. I only had a taste of the tuna as it had a chili sauce on it and I’m really sensitive to spicy food. But it was really good and everyone else loved it. The pork belly tacos were so tender and the sauce on it was really refreshing. And the branzino was flaky and so flavorful! And of course, the bone marrow was out of this world! We had 2 orders of it and between the 4 of us the bones looked like this within minutes of the plate being brought to us.

When the bones were empty, Dani and Michelle decided to order some shots to have with the bones. They were actually talking about doing this the night before at my party so it was pretty funny that they were getting to do this. Doing a bone luge is a thing, I just hadn’t heard of it before they were talking about it at my party. If I knew I could handle a drink, I think I would have joined in with them. But it was cool getting to watch them and they seemed to really like it (even if it was a bit messy).

We also got to try some of the new desserts! They have a buttermilk panna cotta now which had berries on top. But what was our favorite was the new Nutella bombshell (and yes, I loved that it had bombshell in the name)! It had chocolate cake that was light and fluffy topped with Nutella mousse that reminded us of the texture of ice cream but was room temperature. It was so good that I can’t even think of better ways to describe it! And we also were given the butterscotch that we’ve had in the past but now it comes with maple ice cream which was loved by all of us.

Then the chef, Jennifer O’Neill came out to the table. It was wonderful to meet her and we were so excited to tell her how much we loved the food! And we got to learn about some things that might be coming up at Wood & Vine that we can’t wait for. I can’t share that stuff yet, but trust me I will as soon as I can!

After dinner we headed across the street for the show. We couldn’t believe it was finally time to see Hamilton! We ordered our season tickets about a year and a half ago and it seemed like we would never get to this date. And we were all remembering how we realized at my birthday party last year that it marked one year until the show. And it was finally here!

The energy in the theater was electric. I think everyone was just so excited to see the show (it only opened 2 days before so it was still very new to LA). The 4 of us kept saying how we couldn’t wait for the show to start. Michelle and I both have listen to the music from the show (many, many times) and have seen videos as well. But Dani and Elisa both tried to avoid seeing stuff about the show ahead of time since that’s how they like to see shows. But we were all equally ready for the show to start.

And I’m happy to say that all the hype about the show is true and more! I don’t know how to explain how amazing this show was and how it really is an incredible piece of theater. I wish that more people could see it because it’s that great. I know that ticket prices are high and there aren’t enough seats for everyone to see it now who want to. But hopefully eventually with the tours more people can experience this show.

While it’s a pretty long show (almost 3 hours when you include the intermission), it doesn’t feel like that at all. It goes by so quickly even though it is a very full show. I could see how there could be so much more show that I’d want to see and now I’m even more motivated than ever to finish reading the book that the show is based on (I’m about 1/4 of the way through the book).

I think all of us agree that this was such a highlight of what ended up being a pretty amazing season at the Pantages. We are all hoping that we will win the Ham4Ham lottery so we can go see the show again. It’s in LA for a few months so there’s a chance that at least one of us will win. But no matter what, we are all so grateful that we were able to see it with our season tickets!

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Birthday Party Adventure! (or Another Traditional Celebration)

I’ve celebrated my birthday at Bodega Wine Bar a couple of times now. It’s such a great place to have a casual birthday hangout so when I was trying to plan what to do for my birthday this year I had going back to Bodega at the top of my list. I looked at having a party at other locations, but I kept coming back to thinking Bodega would be perfect. So I gave them a call and they were able to get me the same section I’ve had in the past for a birthday party this past Saturday! So it was another Bodega birthday adventure!

Before my party, I actually decided to go to DryBar to get a blowout. There is now a DryBar right by my house, so that’s so much easier than having to drive 10-15 minutes to another location. I could walk there, but that day was so hot and humid and I didn’t want to ruin my hairstyle on the walk back. Fortunately there was a meter right in front of the salon for me!

The blowout only took about 30 minutes so that gave me plenty of time to go back home so I could relax a bit before getting ready to go out. I didn’t take a photo of my outfit, but I decided to try to be dressy and casual at the same time so I wore a basic black sundress with some cute heels. And then it was time to head over to Bodega!

And I lucked out with a parking meter again! I found one that was right around the corner and it was free since it was after 6pm! It was perfect and I walked right over to see who was an early bird for the party.

I’m glad I wasn’t the first person to arrive because I always hate waiting for people. And right after I got there more people started to arrive. I’m glad I got a reserved section again because it made things much easier for us. The bar was a bit crowded with some other parties and this way we didn’t have to worry about finding space for everyone. Although at one point there were maybe 15 of us there and it was getting a bit crowded. But I don’t think that anyone really minded that.

I hadn’t had a drink since my birthday party last year, but I knew I’d be ordering one at my party this time. My liver surgeon has told me that I can drink, but I haven’t been drinking since I don’t want to put more stress on my liver than I need to. But this was a special occasion so I figured it was a good time to have my first drink in a year!

I knew my tolerance for alcohol would be down, but I was actually surprised how low it was. I’ve had time without drinking before and it never seemed like I lost too much of my tolerance. This time, I was able to drink maybe about half of it before I felt like it was hitting me. I ordered food to help me feel a bit better, but I ended up not drinking any more of my drink. It was delicious, but I guess I need to realize that I can’t drink the way I could before (at least not for a while).

But I didn’t have my party to be able to drink. I had it so I could hang out with my friends and have fun. And that’s exactly what happened! I love when different groups of friends come together and meet. And this had people from so many different parts of my life there. It was so fun watching my neighbor talk to someone who is part of the leadership of the Unite for Strength slate. Or to see one of my Disney friends talk to someone from my WIF mentoring group. It was just awesome sitting back and watching people get to know each other and have my worlds combine!

I didn’t want any presents (although I did tell people if they wanted to do something they could donate to Unite for Strength) because I wanted this to feel more like a regular fun hangout and not a birthday party. I didn’t want anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me or make anything a big deal. Some of my friends did pay for my food and drink, so that was special and I wasn’t expecting it. All I wanted from my friends was to have them there and get to have fun with them.

We ended up being at Bodega for a pretty long time. It was getting a bit noisy and I think most of us aren’t usually late night people so by 11:30 we were all ready to go. People had been coming and going all night so it was a rotating group of people there, but pretty much everyone who was still there decided to leave when at the same time at the end.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday adventure. It was fun and no-stress. Everyone there seemed to have a great time and that’s what I wanted. I always want everyone else to have fun and that’s what makes me happy!

While this was the main birthday adventure for me, what I have to write about in tomorrow’s post was almost the grand finale of the birthday fun!

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Birthday Twin Tradition (or An Almost Free Meal)

One of my favorite birthday traditions is going to Truxton’s with my birthday twin Joanna for dinner. We’ve been doing this for pretty much as long as we’ve been friends and it’s always a fun night for us. We try to have more catch up hangouts throughout the year and we’ve been getting better at doing that. But our birthday dinner is something we always look forward to.

We were going to try to do our dinner on our actual birthday again this year, but our schedules didn’t quite work out that way. So we ended up going 2 days before our birthday which was a great way to kick off each of us celebrating our birthday week!

We did a later dinner than normal, but that was fine because parking meters in Santa Monica were free! We both found parking pretty easily and walked over to the restaurant together. Because it was a later dinner, the restaurant wasn’t that packed, but that was nice since it wasn’t horribly noisy either.

When we started going to Truxton’s the birthday deal was a free entrĂ©e and free dessert. That made things really simple for us but we also always felt like we didn’t need 2 desserts. Now, the deal is $20 toward the bill. They used to combine the coupons (so we could get $40 total) but now it has to be split onto 2 checks. We decided to try to see if we could make it so when it was split each half would be $20 and we would get our totally free meal again.

We originally wanted to get Monkey Bread as an appetizer (it’s so good there!), but unfortunately they were all out! It was crazy that they were out, but we figured it just wasn’t meant to be. And for our entrees, we both were kind of debating between the same two things: the brisket sandwich and the club sandwich. So we decided that we would order both and would each have half.

It was a bit messy when we tried to cut the sandwiches in half, but it was fine. And it ended up being the perfect thing since we both got to have some of each thing we were craving. We also did one sandwich with garlic fries and one with regular fries so we got to have both options.

And dessert is always the highlight of the meal for us. We decided to go for the giant cookie that has ice cream on top. It’s pretty decadent and seems like one of the more festive desserts they have there.

They brought plates out for us so we could try to split the cookie and ice cream up, but there was no way to really do that. And we are fine sharing a plate so we each grabbed a spoon and pretty much stuck to one half of the pan. And even though we were both full from the sandwiches and fries (it’s probably a good thing we couldn’t get Monkey Bread), somehow we were able to finish the entire dessert!

We really tried to do some planning on what we were going to order to see if there was a way that we could make sure that each half of the bill would be $20 or less. Technically there was a way to do it, but it would have been with the dinners we really weren’t wanting. As much as we want a totally free meal, it’s better to order what we want to eat. And even though we didn’t have our free birthday tradition, it was still a very cheap dinner out.

And even though the bill was super cheap, we like to leave a big tip because we know that servers make most of their income from the tips (we left about $20 on what would have been a $41 bill).

And while the food was awesome, getting to catch up with Joanna was even better! It had been a while since our last catch up meal and we both had so much to share! Joanna has gone on some fun trips and has had some changes in her day jobs. I’ve become a medical miracle and also have had some changes in my day jobs. But I’m lucky because even though it’s been a few months since we had seen each other, when we get together it seems like we can always pick up where we left off.

We ended up hanging out at dinner for about 2 hours before we both had to head back home. The next tradition we have is our cheesecake outing that we do around the new year, but I know that we both are going to keep trying to make an effort to see each other more often (even if it isn’t a free meal that we are meeting up for).

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