Trimming the Tree

After I arrived home my brother and I were charged with a very important duty: trimming the tree.

I sat back and blogged err, supervised David putting the lights on the tree. I didn’t want to interfere with his raw tree lighting talent.

He did a bang up job. Interfering would have just been wrong, ya know? Better to let him handle it.

I did assist by getting the stockings out.

It should be noted that the dogs stocking is bigger than David’s, as illustrated below.

David would like you to know that his stocking, while smaller has a bell on it. Touche.

My stocking is super cute, and large!

Look at all the hard work I put in!

The we worked on the ornaments!

I hung my favorite one first…

Adorable!

The tree came together pretty well. It was a good team effort! I’m having a great time hanging out with my little brother. He made me my favorite breakfast treat this morning (we can call him lake coast contesso). Don’t worry, I followed him around with a camera and captured the whole thing. More on that to come later.

Also of note today: I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill. I did 4.1 miles at a just under 9 min pace. It was pretty awesome. These treadmill workouts have my running confidence up and have me thinking about some fun racing goals for 2011. Get excited people! Big things to come!

Oh, and one last thing. This sign was stopped in the center of the village I grew up in (yes village):

Yep. That sign says “be polite, walk your bike”. That’s right, I grew up in a presh little tiny town.

Top 10 Posts of 2010

Can you believe 2010 is almost over? I can’t. I started this blog last January so I’m a little shy of my “blog birthday” but I have enough material to generate a top ten list. So with no further ado, the top ten posts of 2010!

1. The one where I ran a 1/2 marathon


2. The one where I competed in Project Food Blog!


3.The one where I made my most popular recipe ever

4. The one where I finished my first year of law school


5. The one where I made homemade ravioli


6. The one where I discovered Tavern


7. The one where I got a car

8. The one where I went to Flour in Boston

9. The one where I take a hike


10. The one where she posted her first post

Honorable mentions: Illegally seeing Tom Petty, my brother visiting LA, my bucket list, visiting the pumpkin patch, my first race, hanging out with Bloggers, and giving thanks.

(Health) Club Can’t Even Handle Me Right Now

Greetings from showy Chicago!

I got in yesterday to this at Chicago O’Hare (basically the greatest airport of all time, in my opinion).

That, my friends, are holiday decorations done RIGHT!

My flight was uneventful and included no real good eats because the food selection at LAX is pretty awful. Anyone else feel like LAX has the poorest food selection of all time? There was nothing. My flight didn’t get in til 2 Chicago time and I kinda wanted to bring lunch on the plane but the options were limited. Also the line for Starbucks was crazy long.

I flew through O’Hare and happened on this horrifying thing:

It was at this time I considered heading right back to LA. Plus it was under 30 degrees. My blood has thinned and it was too cold for me. Don’t worry, I brought leggings to wear under my jeans. Obvi I didn’t head home to LA. I went to my parents house and ate cookies!

Then this happened:

I will admit, while snow can be slushy, wet and cold it is also very, very pretty!

Plus, snow is just dandy when you have a puppy Wally the White to keep you warm!

Today I slept in super late and enjoyed a typical breakfast of Vans and Kombucha. Thanks Mom! Love that I have a blog to advertise my faves.

Then I headed to the health club to run on the treadmill. I haven’t run on the treadmill for over a year and a half and didn’t really know what to expect. I set myself to go at my half marathon pace (10:00 mile) and every other song I kicked it up to 10k pace (8:40 mile). This was actually a pretty good workout for me! I don’t run with a watch so I almost never track my speed. This upcoming year I want to get into speed work so running intervals was nice to get used to the idea. I ran 5 miles in about 50 mins.

The health club can’t even handle me right now. That’s for you Amanda.

Then I came home and hung out with my little brother, probably one of my favorite parts of being home. We got Thai lunch in Evanston at Pinto on Central Street.

To start we shared Thai Rolls which had chicken and shrimp in them and a nut and mild spicy sauce on the side. Pretty tasty to start!

For lunch I had Crazy Noodles, which I pretty much destroyed post run.

Perfect portion!

I must go now, there is tree trimming happening! Glad it finally feels like CHRISTMAS!

pop champagne in the rain

This has been the scene in LA since Thursday night. No, this is not from September. Yes, it’s December. Yes, Christmas is less than one week away. I don’t mind the rain, but it’s interfering with running at this point. But who am I kidding? This is way better than the freezing cold temperatures I’ll face when I go to Chicago Monday.

I did brave the rain and drove to Pasadena for a book exchange and dessert at Pop Champagne. Pop Champagne is a restaurant, dessert and champagne bar. The decor was super cute and the food was good too!

Love a chandeliers! The menu had a great mix of appetizers, desserts (hello, jello shooters!) and drinks.

All I wanted after my drinks the afternoon before (and uh, the bottomless mimosas from earlier that afternoon) was a simple prosecco.

Simple and crisp, as always.

Emily’s drink was pretty noteworthy, she wanted to avoid sweetness so she got a Guinness and sparking wine. I am not a big fan of Guinness but this drink was pretty good. I would order this next time I go out!

Before Catie arrived Em and I ordered fries with truffle salt and Parmesan. Yum, yum, yum! I love that I’ve hooked all my friends on truffles. Such a bad influence.

After going back and forth for a while about what I wanted to order I settled on nutella crepes. I mean, how can you NOT order the nutella crepes?

Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, nutella and crepes with sugary syrup. It was pretty delicious.

The book exchange was good too! I got Water for Elephants. Many of my friends have read it and loved it. It will be good plane reading. Tomorrow I take off for Chicago for a little over a week to celebrate Christmas! I am very exciting to head home for the holiday season but I’m worried about the cold. Now that I’m a California Girl I’m not sure how I’ll take to the cold but hey it should be super “holidayish” unlike the rain in LA.

Halfway There

Hey ya! Guess what? As of last Thursday I am half way done with law school! I know, I can’t believe it either. I feel like just yesterday I was in the fog of 1L and now I’m halfway done. Crazy.

My last final was a four hour long wills and trusts exam, of course I snacked on a Larabar during it. Seriously, I am incapable of sitting for more than two hours without a snack.

After the exam I stumbled out of the exam room with a delirious happy smile on my face and met up with some friends. Everyone had just finished and the obvious choice was to go day drinking. You know finals are over when I’m sipping a cocktail at 1 pm. We made our way to Enterprise Fish Company in Santa Monica for lunch and drinks.

Clearly, we were the only people who wanted fried seafood and booze at 2 in the afternoon.

The menu looked pretty good and there were many things I wanted to try but there was one dish that was the obvious choice: beer battered fish with sweet potato chips. Clearly this needed to be ordered and enjoyed!

Polished it off with no problem. I mean, all I’d had all day was breakfast and a larabar. The outside of the fish was lightly fried and delicious. The meal was heavy but it didn’t leave me feeling overwhelmingly icky. Just what I needed.

There were also drinks consumed. If you are a friend or frequent reader then you know I don’t love overly sweet drinks. When you go somewhere and order their specialty drinks you never really know what your going to get, especially if you order a sweet cocktail. I am happy to report the drinks at Enterprise Fish Company were sweet but not too sweet. They had real fruit and agave as opposed to juice and sour mix (ick sour mix).

Molly, David and I all started with the blackberry, strawberry mojito thing. I was a bad blogger and didn’t take notes on the actual drinks. Whoops. I can tell you that there was agave instead of simple syrup which was an excellent substitution. Also, notice how tired I look in the picture.

My second drink was similar to a screw driver with orange juice and vodka. Again, I believe there was agave in this drink but I wasn’t really paying attention when she said the ingredients. Others ordered it and it looked refreshing so I ordered it 🙂

Delish!

After the meal I went shopping with Molly and nearly knocked over a mirror in H&M. Whoops. Also, I bought a turtleneck. I’m going to try and bring them back!

Is everyone done with work and finals? How fantastic does freedom feel?

One more and Done

Yesterday was possibly the longest day of my life. I only had 24 hours to go before the Wills exam and I knew I needed to buckle down. I worked diligently all morning. After a couple hours of working I decided to drive home. On the way I passed by Huckleberry and there was an open metered space in front with 35 mins left in it! Why does this always happen to me?

I darted in and decided to get some of their prepared salads. A small portion is less than $4 and they have plenty of tasty ones to offer. I chose a protein rich garbanzo bean salad with cilantro and red onion.

This was a great meal. It was just big enough, inexpensive and kept me full. For me, getting a prepared salad doesn’t happen very often but I think I’m going to do it more often. I even had room for a little something sweet.

Yum. Runner’s fuel.

Yes, you heard me runner’s fuel. I went on a glorious 7.5 mile run yesterday. I’ve only gone on one other 8 mile run since the half and afterwards I felt tight and gross. Yesterday was totally different. I just threw on some music and enjoyed the route. It was weird because normally I listen to what can be described as “the trashiest music of all time” but yesterday I listened to an acoustic version of “Champagne Supernova” in the last mile. Go figure.

I also tried this during my run…

After the incident in my half where I reached for shot blocks and they stuck to my teeth I knew that while I really liked them, I needed to try something else. I liked how these “felt” when I was running but I didn’t like the taste. It was weirdly bitter to me. Maybe another flavor will do the trick.

Any runners have flavor suggestions?

Sweet Treat

This was the scene at my Wills & Trusts review:

Day 14.

People looked like they were about to pass out from the combination of sleep deprivation, stress, and countless hours in front of a lit computer screen. Then my professor announced he brought doughnuts: to our 100 person class. Full applause and smiles all around. Yes, I have a new favorite Professor.

Any yes, it pays to sit with a friend who appreciates the necessity of having 1 and a 1/2 doughnuts. I appreciate not being the only one who really wants more than one doughnut and has no problem vocalizing it.  Thanks Kelly.

One more study day and 4 hour test stand between me and being half way done with law school. Ah! I can’t believe it!

That is all. As you were.

Report from the Front

Finals: Day 13

Really, in theory it seems like a good idea to have finals last for 17 days but in practice its a little sadistic. The week days and weekends are beginning to blend together. I actually have to think about when the weekend was. I have no sense of time anymore.

Catching up from the weekend?

This weekend I set a new 5k PR with Amanda and Kaitlin.

Kaitlin and I

Amanda, Kaitlin and I

If you liked my recap you should check their recaps out! Here is Amanda’s. Here is Kaitlin’s. Photo credit to Kaitlin.

But the big story of the weekend was the weather! Some people in colder climates have told me not to post anymore beautiful pictures of the weather so I will post the adorbs dress I wore on Sunday.

You get the picture? It was niiiiiice out. It literally felt like Summer and it put me in an awesome mood for the final weekend of finals!

I also tried some foodie favorites. When I was with Kaitlin and Amanda we were talking about how something will pop up on blogs and we’ll see it so many times we just can’t stop ourselves from trying it. For me, Kombucha was that thing this week. Kombucha is a fermented tea that has many rumored health benefits. I tried Synergy from Whole Foods.

Some times foodie favs let me down but this didn’t! I had gingerberry flavor which I loved! Ginger might just be my favorite flavor of all time. The drink was fermented in such a way that it tasted carbonated. It also have very few ingredients, all of which were organic. Tasty and delicious. Just what I need, to get hooked on another $3 drink 😉

Today was all about getting in the groove. This is the final push for finals and I want to treat myself and my body well. I had lunch at home and made sure it had plenty of green.

I love this because it looks like Christmas! Can you believe it’s next week? I haven’t done any shopping because of finals. I need to get on that!

Then I went on a wonderful 2 mile run. I tucked along at a nice pace but I was so dehydrated. I’ve done a poor job since the half of hydrating before my runs. In my head I think “oh its only 4 miles” and I leave the water bottle at home or I don’t drink enough before I leave. But today it was 80 and less than one mile in I got “hungry”. The word is in quotes because it was like a phantom hunger. Once I had water I wasn’t actually hunger anymore. So, I am recommitting now to drinking water! I just need to sip on it more during the day and while studying. Water is free at Coffee Bean so this shouldn’t be an issue. I just have to make it a priority.

And now, in honor of the home stretch of finals… here are my favorite procrastination haunts on the web:

Hope you enjoy! What are your favorite digital time wasters?

Flex your mussels

I had something interesting in my fridge yesterday…

So I haven’t really cooked with Mussels before but after realizing that I hadn’t blogged something I cooked myself that wasn’t potato pancakes for 9 days I decided it was time to take drastic measures. I ambled into Whole Foods and asked for a pound of mussels. When asking how I should store them until today I realized that they were alive (uh, duh) and would need to be in water (double duh). Yep,  I am the awkward party. Anyways, that’s how I wound up with a container of mussels in my fridge.

Then I started thinking about how they were alive. Then I started to psych myself out. I almost named them. Almost.

Tonight I made a dish out of a self published French cookbook my Mom found at a book sale and sent me. Isn’t it cute?

All the recipes look tasty but mussels remind me of New England so I made Mussels Marinara.

The first thing I had to do was get rid of the sand, grit, and breads. I dissolved a tea spoon of salt in warm water. Then I mixed the warm salt water in a large bowl with cold water. I scrubbed the mussels and placed them in the water bowl. When they were all in the bowl I cut a lemon in half and squeezed it into the bowl. Once I was done squeezing the lemon I placed them in the water bowl.

Let sit for 20 mins. After 20 mins take the mussels out of the water and drain the water out. Then I got started on the sauce!

The recipe calls for a basic white wine based marinara sauce.

You will need:

Red pepper flakes, 2 minced cloves of garlic, half a lemon (ignore the S&P), half a stick of butter, half a container of cut tomatoes with no salt added, and a 1/4 cup of white wine.

I used this kind from South Africa (and obviously, Trader Joe’s).

Start the sauce by heating a tablespoon of EVO and sauteing the garlic and a dash of red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 min, it should be fragrant. Make sure not to burn the garlic!

Then add the butter. Make sure it doesn’t burn.

Once it melts down add the white wine. Let the white wine cook, stirring occasionally, until it reduces. About 4 mins.

Then squeeze half a lemon and add some thyme (however much you like!)

Then add the tomatoes and simmer for 4 mins.

Now, it is time to put on your brave face.

Please note that this is my nervous face. You will see it when I 1) cook mussels, 2) think about the bar exam or 3) hear a loud thump in the middle of the night

I felt like I was committing a small act of genocide. They were opening and for a fleeting moment I thought about keeping one in the fridge as a pet but then I remembered I already have a pet and I just womened up and did it.

I let the mussels simmer in the sauce for four mins and when I took the top off?

Yay everyone opened up!

This recipe makes two servings. Before I made the sauce I cooked two servings worth of brown spaghetti. Once the mussels opened up I combined the pasta and the sauce. Topped it off with parm.

I also played around with some camera effects.

This was a delicious dinner! It was pretty simple to make despite my nerves. I used only one pot so clean up was really simple. The mussels tasted like a summer day in Massachusetts. Using the white wine sauce as a based made the marinara extra special.  The only change I made from my version and the cookbook version was the brown spaghetti. Their recipe calls for angel hair pasta, but I just used what I had on hand. Mussels are a great treat and actually are pretty cheap when purchased by the pound. A nice little treat for the hard studying souls.

Bon Appetit!

Santa Monica to Venice Christmas Run

Today I learned a couple of lessons about preparing for races and I set a new 5k PR.

Backing up. I woke up this morning at 7 am which was a nice wake up call for a race! Normally I’m up at 5 or 6 am on race morning. I was thankful for the extra 2 hours. I was thirsty when I woke up. I went out last night and had a drink. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem (I mean, I had wine the night before my half!)  but I woke up so thirsty. I downed a glass of water and felt full so I stopped drinking water, had peanut butter toast and a enough coffee to wake myself up (muhahahaha, I’m not telling you how much that is).

Lesson #1: Make sure you are properly hydrated. Instead of that fantastic St. Germain cocktail, order a water. Or chase it with several glasses of water. Normally for every glass of booze I order I get at least one glass of water. This didn’t happen last night.

go number 3289!

I got in the car and drove to Santa Monica with plenty of time. I wanted to save parking money and warm up my legs so I parked at Santa Monica Place and walked the mile and a half. I had plenty of time and felt totally relaxed. I brought a bottle of water and I meant to drink it but I forgot that it was in my bag. I got to the start line and started to look for the bag drop.

Lesson #2: Check to make sure there is a bag drop.

Yep. There wasn’t one. This lead to panic. The race organizer just looked at me blankly when I asked what I should do. Not helpful. I was also trying to find Kaitlin and Amanda and I just wasn’t seeing them which frazzled me. Then I figured out that I could stash my bag with the Primetime Timing people. Thank god. Remember that if you’re ever in a race day bind.

I finally caught up with Kaitlin. I felt all thrown off by the bag drama. I didn’t have a second snack and I didn’t have the water I brought. Yep. I only had one glass of water before the race. Poor choice.

Because I really wanted to PR I went towards the front of the line. I was next to a 60 year old man in swimming shorts, no top, and he had an Ironman tattoo. He looked hardcore. It was a lot for my mind to process in the accelerated state it was in.

The gun went off and the race started. The course went into Venice and back to Santa Monica on the board walk. The marine layer was pretty thick today but the sun peaked through. I cruised for the first mile and a half. My feet and legs felt awesome on the mostly flat course (after Malibu its going to take some serious hills to throw me). Since I wanted to PR I pushed myself for the first mile and a half. Around mile 2 the course turned back towards Santa Monica and we ran back along the boardwalk.

If you know anything about Venice, you know its a great place for people watching, which kept me entertained along the boardwalk. I needed it! After mile two I started to feel tired. I was super thirsty and hungry (probably because I was thirsty) and I felt winded. I was kicking myself for freaking out before and forgetting to hydrate. I walked through a water station.

Lesson #3: A 5k is really hard

During the last mile, while watching the surfers, people pumping iron at muscle beach, randoms eating breakfast, and smelling the smoke pouring out of the “medical dispensary” (for real, you can just tell you’re in Venice by the smell) I thought about how hard a 5k is. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that everyone can train for and run a 5k but it is much different than the distance running I’ve been doing. During a 5k I’m compelled to run as fast as possible unlike the half where the goal was just to finish. I have major respect for anyone who runs a 5k.

Before I knew I saw the blessed mile 3 sign and my reflective moment ended. I sprinted to the finish. I finished the 5k in 25:25, with an average pace of 8:10 setting a new PR!

Part of me really wanted to break 25 min. but, overall, I am very happy with my time. After grabbing water I went back and watched Kaitlin and Amanda finish their races strong! It was Kaitlin’s birthday and she wrote “its my birthday” on her shirt. Someone even sang to her while she was running. Best idea ever, kicking off your birthday with a race. There were some adorable dogs running including a dog wearing antlers, a golden, and another probably 60 lb dog being carried that last .1 mile by their owner!

After the race we headed back to Santa Monica for breakfast. I had steel cut oats.

There might have been some hash browns and an iced coffee too. And by might, I mean there were.

After breakfast I said goodbye to everyone and headed home. My foot felt a little twinge so I iced it on a bottle of gin and took it easy.

Here is the playlist that I listened to (I finished during the Peas).

Overall my 5th race was great! It felt great to run and to PR. I am definitely hooked on racing and cannot wait to run the next one.