Bloggers take a hike

This weekend was truly beautiful. Highs in the 70’s and sunny barely a cloud in the sky both days! I took advantage by spending plenty of time outside and driving around my city with the windows down. Sunday in particular was awesome because I went on a hike with Monica, Kate, and Kaitlin in Runyon Canyon. I’ve hung out with Monica and Kaitlin before but I’ve never “met” Kate before (although I feel like I’ve met her because I’ve been reading her blog for a while now). It was great finally getting to know her. Oh, and she’s totally awesome. J

L-R: Kaitlin, Monica, Me, and Kate

I had never been to Runyon before but I was super excited to finally check it out. Not only are there great views, you are up in the Hollywood Hills so plenty of houses to “shop” for and people watching to do. We decided to tackle the moderate path (there are three). It was straight up hill but very doable. There were also a ton of adorbale dogs. I wanted to take one home but I know Izzy would be less than thrilled with a new sibling.

I.

Love.

Los Angeles.

I actually got a sun burn while we were hiking. Mid February and my running tan lines are coming back. I like it.

There were several places to stop and take pictures which we took full advantage of. At one of the vantage points I spotted this, perfect for Valentine’s Day:

 

Enjoying the views, talking about things like Hanson. You know… the usual.

We got to the top in about 50 some mins and then made out way back down. On the way down I realized how far we probably walked.

After we made it down we engaged in, what else, a photo shoot. We bloggers and our pictures 😉

Monica and I

Kaitlin and Kate

On the way home I swung by Starbucks and grabbed an ice tea. While I was there I saw the guy who impersonates Jesus on Hollywood Blvd. He was all dressed up in garb and the Barista knows his order- tall Americano, in case you were wondering.

Overall, it was a great day! After the hike I did homework, watched the Grammys and then did my Sunday night yoga. I’ve been on a workout/too much sun high for the past two days and thanks to the hike I was totally sore today. Thanks to Kaitlin for letting me use her pictures in this post.

How did you spend your weekend? Was the weather nice?

Public Service Announcement: You MUST cook this tonight

I intended to cook this weekend and post a fantastic recipe for you but I was sidetracked Jenna’s Channa Marsala.

Don’t ask questions; just make it for dinner tonight. I promise it will be fantastic.

Ok, I guess I can tell you why it’s so good.

Let me first just preface this by saying that if you don’t read Jenna’s blog you should, she’s one of my all time faves. Not only does her blog make me want to move to Wine Country and eat cookies with her while discussing books, she makes the best savory AND sweet recipes. Yes, there is a lot of liberal butter use which is fantastic. I’ve made her baked goods before and it totally delivered but this was the first savory dish of her I made. And I reiterate: make it tonight.

Other reasons to make it (besides Jenna’s awesomeness): it has an army of spices in it that add so much flavor (I actually, by happy coincidence, got a bunch of spices in the mail from my Mom for Valentine’s Day right before I made it- great minds think alike), caramelized onions, chickpeas, tomato paste with the sweetness “burned off” and also ginger! Not to mention it was very filling. I could tell you I made another entrée this weekend but that would be a lie… I lived off of this all weekend.

Just try it and you’ll understand too 😉

Early Valentine’s Day

Happy early Valentine’s Day!

I know people have polarizing opinions on Valentine’s day but regardless of my relationship status I have always loved Valentine’s day. What’s not to love? You have tons of treats, and you get to tell all the people you care about that they’re important to you and not just significant others but friends, family and yourself. Because at the end of the day, the most important love is self love. Seriously though, some of my favorite Valentine’s day memories are single memories, like getting brunch with my college roommate Carolyn and sipping possibly the greatest bloody Mary of all time at Aquitaine in Boston. Don’t get me wrong, I like hand holding and eating heart-shaped ravioli while gazing into someone’s eyes as much as the next girl (yes that was one way I once spent Valentine’s day) but being single has never been a deterred me from celebrating Valentine’s day.

This year I am single and I decided to start the party early with a trip to, where else, Susie Cakes. They’ve been sending emails and tweets for weeks and I was dying to try their special cup cake this month! They also warned that Monday is their busiest day of the year so to avoid the rush I went Thursday. Also, I only have so much self control.

Sugar and Spice, vanilla cupcake with cinnamon butter cream frosting. HOLY YUM. There were also sprinkles inside of the cupcake.

In the spirit of full disclosure: there was a moment when I thought about getting the “heart shaped red velvet cake perfect for two binge eating on your couch while watching When Harry Met Sally“. I do like Susie’s Cakes’ red velvet but I was glad I tried something new. The cake was what I’ve come to expect from Susie Cakes: moist, not too sweet, and just crumbly enough. The frosting was the star of this show. I was literally licking it to make it last longer. Who needs a date when you can make out with frosting? The cinnamon flavor wasn’t overly obvious. It was light and smacked of brown sugar and light butter. This is the way butter cream should be done people: light and frothy and sugary, designed to put all other kinds to shame. It really is the best butter cream of all time.

Devoured. I love Susie Cakes. It may be my favorite bakery in LA. It took serious self control not to go over there again right after finishing this cupcake. Honestly, I could go to Susie Cakes for the smell alone. It smells like butter and sugar whipped bliss from the second you enter. Maybe that’s why I never leave without buying something. 😉 As for actual Valentine’s day I will likely celebrate by cooking myself a special meal, chatting with my close friends, pouring a cocktail, watching a sappy movie, and celebrating self love.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Do you mind being single on Valentine’s day?

Dealing with Stress

Let’s have a little chat about stress. Do you have it? Of course you do, everybody does. This time last year I was a major stress case. Spring of 1L (first year law school) is probably the most stressful time in law school. You’ve just gotten your grades, which thanks to a forced curve probably aren’t like what you became accustom to seeing in college. You’re applying to summer internships, getting your resume and cover letter together, sending out emails, hoping you get something respectable or that pays or that you actually are interested in. Plus you have various other things going on such as memo writing, classes, and journal participation. While UCLA is relatively non-competitive as far as law schools go spring of 1L is when the competition amongst classmates begins to be more evident. Plus, there is still the prospect of taking the bar and managing a career as an attorney.

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Truthfully, I did not cope well with the stress, at first. I took some great steps like eating healthier, running, and blogging. However I was still very anxious. It even got to the point where I developed heart burn for the first time in my life (ironic since I was eating healthier) and I could literally feel my heart racing and beating out of my chest. This is a bad sign of anxiety and not dealing with stress properly.

Thankfully, I took steps to reign in my stress and today am doing a good job of handling my anxiety. Changing the way I deal with stress has improved my quality of life drastically. So what do I do to manage my stress now?

Hand over heart (like the pledge of allegiance) and hand over stomach (like you’re preggo) breathing

In the moment anxiety, like a racing heart beat, this is the best strategy. Like I do in yoga class, put one hand on my heart and the other on my stomach, concentrate on my breath, and close my eyes. This takes me down a peg when I feel anxious. Concentrating on my just breathing is like a mini mental vacation. If your heart is racing nothing good is going to happen to you. I promise.

Give yourself down time

And when I say down time, I mean only down time. One of my problems was that I would have down time at night and I would be trying to get too many things done in my down time. For example, I would watch TV, while blogging, and reading other blogs. This isn’t down time; it’s multitasking for an hour under the guise of “relaxation”. Now I have my down time and I just do down time. I read a magazine. Or I’ll watch a show. Or I’ll read blogs but not all three at once.

Just say “no”

If you commit yourself to doing too many things you will not have time for down time and relaxation. This goes for school and your social life. It’s important not to take on too many responsibilities at school. Take it slow. Only take on one or two commitments at a time. If I don’t have enough time or I find myself getting stressed I ask for help. As far as social life, I know I can’t go out every night on the weekend partying and still be awake, alert and get my work done. Thus, I plan accordingly.

Pet an animal

Pets are suggested as companion and therapy animals for a reason. I cannot tell you how much seeing Izzy everyday has improved my mental state. In fact, she is kneading away on my leg right now. It’s nice to know that no matter how said stressful thing turns out that animal will still love you and think you’re fantastic (as long as you keep the treats coming). Plus, if you put them in a tutu you’ll have hours of endless enjoyment.

Talk to your friends

I hands down wouldn’t have gotten through last year without my pre-law school friends. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people in law school but chatting with people who knew me before always made me feel better. My Simmons friends have been some of my biggest cheerleaders and always remind me why I’m awesome. They also provide wonderful distractions from my own stress. Sometimes talking to someone else about their lives puts your own problems in perspective. At the very least, it’s a fun distraction. Note the oldie but goody picture below circa 2006.

Talk to an objective person/thing

Sometimes when talking about the things you really fear you need to talk to someone without an agenda or that won’t talk back. I personally think everyone should go to therapy and if you’re dealing with stress I would absolutely recommend it if you can afford it. Or, you can embrace the free option: talk to a worry doll. I got my worry doll when I was in college. When I’m feeling anxious and worried and don’t feel like I can verbalize how I feel to other person I take the worry doll and tell it to the doll. Sometimes just getting out your deepest fear can take the pressure off. Worry, stress and anxiety really are just born out of fear. Vocalizing fear is the first step towards diminishing fear. Get rid of the fear, get rid of the worry. I also sometimes talk to my cat. I swear I’m not a crazy cat lady.

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Develop healthy habits

Eating well and exercising is a great way to feel better and relieve stress. For me, running is like an Advil and a Prozac. Yoga is also a great way to relax and keep calm. Keeping healthy habits going while you’re busy isn’t easy but for me it’s worth making the time. Whether you’re thinking through the stressful things you’re facing or just totally zoning out working out is never a bad idea. Same thing goes for eating healthy. For me, nothing makes me feel worse than eating frozen meals. Sometimes when you’re stressed it seems like a good idea to cut corners and eat a box of mac and cheese or a ton of take out but for me I feel best when I’m eating fresh foods with limited preservatives.

Train your brain to think positively

I have a new favorite quote: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change“. I believe this is true because I have seen it work in my own life. Instead of thinking “I hate law school what I am doing here” I decided to think “wow, I am so lucky to have this opportunity to learn so much”. Or, instead of wishing I was running faster I think about how lucky I am to have a body that allows me to run. Finally, when something unexpected happens (like the T randomly stops running or the Presidential convoy causing you to be unable to cross the street for 45 mins) I don’t get upset anymore. I simply look at it as the universe telling me to take things slowly. When I was in Boston there was a morning when the T stopped running. Instead of panicking I walked to Starbucks, got a coffee and walked to school. When the President’s convoy shut down Wilshire last summer instead of getting upset like those around me I snapped photos, watched Barack drive by and people watched for 45 mins. No one was going to cross the street so there was no use in freaking out about it.

Make a gratitude list

This goes hand in hand with the suggestion above. Sometimes when I’m feel particularly worried, stressed or anxious I make a list of all the things in life I have to be grateful for. Sometimes I even do it by the alphabet like A is for apples fresh from the farmers market that nourish my body, B is for Boston and all the wonderful memories I have from living there, C is for cat because my cat mellows me out. It gets me out of my own head and helps me refocus on what is important in my life.

Get rid of bad vibes

I’m going to sound like a California hippie, but clean and smudge your apartment. It’s so much easier to get things done and think clearly when your living area has been cleansed.

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Put it in perspective

This goes with the gratitude list, but often I stress out over small, nonsense things like sounding stupid when I’m called on in class or getting stuck in traffic on the 405. These things are not going to have a long term impact on my life and it’s important to remember that. I like to apply the 10 year test: “will this matter in 10 years?” or even “will this matter in 1 year?” Generally the answer is no. If you can see the end point of the thing that stresses you out, it can be easier to get through.

Overall, stressful things are going to happen and sad things are going to happen in our lives. We are powerless to stop them from occurring or controlling them. The only thing we can control is how we respond to them. I believe that we make choices every day. Last year at this time I was stressed out and I acted in a way that perpetuated that stress but today I am making healthier choices for myself. When I feel anxious I put my hand over my heart and breath. When I’m upset I make a gratitude list. When I’m fearful I tell the cat or the worry doll. When I need a reality check I call my friends. I am much happier today because of it.

How do you handle stress? I love hearing new suggestions!

Cha-Cha-Changes

A few weeks ago when I had lunch with Monica we were discussing blogs and things we wanted to change about our blogs. I’ve wanted to try a few different things on this blog for a while and my discussion with Monica has pushed me to seriously consider different lifestyle posts I want to do. Don’t worry; you will still find cooking, restaurants, running and tons of cupcakes on this blog. However you will also see various lifestyle posts on the blog.

New posts coming soon to LCC:

  • Dealing with stress
  • More “what I wore this week” ß loving doing this!
  • Navigating the farmer’s market without paying an arm and a leg
  • From the LCC book shelf ß a series detailing the books I’m reading for fun
  • Most posts about running, running music, and marathon training (!)

I also need to update my pages, and I have new pages I’m working on.

I want to keep what readers like about LCC while growing a little big and trying new things. I hope you all enjoy the changes that will be coming to the blog.

What do you like about LCC now? What would you like to see in the future?

 

 

Crashing with chocolate

Let’s talk about Tuesdays. Tuesday is my busy day this semester. On top of the busy day I have a class that goes from 5 pm til 9 pm. After walking home there are only so many things I want to do. They generally involve a magazine, a drink, and dessert. Last night was a banner night because I had all three.

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The Hollywood issue was in my mail box. Why hello Jake, Ryan and James. You look dashing.

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I poured a glass of Pinot Noir.

And I broke into this…

I decided it was finally time to try Pure Dark Chocolate. I got the chocolate for free as part of the Foodbuzz Taste Makers program. While the chocolate was free the opinions expressed here are truthful and my own.

I decided to brake off a piece of the bark AND the slab. I told you, banner night at the LCC casa. Both chocolates are dark, 60%, and each package has two servings (I didn’t have a full serving of either last night).

Slab on the top left and the rest is bark.

First I had the slab. Personally, I love dark chocolate. Even like really, really dark chocolate. Compared to other dark chocolates it was smoother and less intense. Overall I recommend it if you want something to supplement raw almonds as an afternoon snack or just for general after dinner noshing. I like to have a little chocolate after dinner to satisfy my sweet tooth.

My favorite though? The bark!

The bark had cherries, almonds, and caramelized cacao bits. Oh yes. The chocolate is just as smooth as the slab but with the sweetness of the cherries, light bitterness of the cacao and the nuttiness? Fantastic. Hit the spot after a long day.

Paired with a glass of wine and my new Vanity Fair full of new articles? Perfection.

Roll with it

Hey there! Sorry for the lame updating all weekend. I got busy with yoga and the farmers market and homework. Yesterday night I did something a little different with my dinner:

Egg rolls! I picked up these Nasoya wrappers the other day and have been playing around with them. These would be great when making appetizers for a party. You can wrap them and bake them or fry them but I baked because its healthier. You can basically stuff them with what ever you want, I choose green onions, shredded carrots and arugula.

I also used carrots from the farmer’s market and arugula.

I sauteed the mixture together in canola oil and let it reduce down. Then I put it back in the bowl and got ready to wrap. I put hte wrap on a corner and put filling in the bottom center of the roll.

I flipped the bottom over and folded in the corners:

And then I rolled it away from me.

Then I placed on a greased pan and I baked for 15 mins at 400 degrees.

so crispy and tasty.

I want to tinker with the fills options a little to make it more flavorful. Perhaps some chicken, bean sprouts, or maybe go crazy with cream cheese, bacon, or goat cheese.No complaints about the wrapper through. It was crispy and easy to assemble and bake. I decided to dip it in Trader Joe’s Soyaki.

Soyaki always adds the requisite flavor. This is a great side or addition to a party and I will definitely be experimenting with it more in the future!

What would you put into an egg roll?

Perfect Day

Yesterday was a nearly perfect day. Fridays kick off my weekend (yess, no class!) and it was beautiful outside. Instead of yoga I decided to break in my new shoes with a 6 mile walk. I had a destination in mind: Clementine. I haven’t walked to Clementine since my pre-Ryan days and it seemed like the perfect way to break in my shoes, study, eat something delicious and enjoy the weather.

So I laced up my shoes and hit the road.

It was a truly beautiful day. A little on the cold side, but I’ll take it!

I snapped some shots on my way to Clementine.

Before I knew it I was there!

I enjoyed reading my legal research for my paper that is due at the end of the semester. I’m actually pretty excited about it. I haven’t gotten to really write (outside of exam writing) for nearly 2 years and I can’t wait to get back into it.

I also noshed on this:

Ham and swiss on soft pumpernickel bread with coleslaw. But to appreciate what makes this sandwich great you need to see the back…

Sweet and hot mustard! This was what makes the sandwich great. Next time I have a cold I’m going to Clementine and getting this sandwich. The mustard totally clears out the sinuses. Besides the amazing mustard this sandwich benefited from the perfect meat to bread to coleslaw to cheese ratio. So important to making a successful sandwich.

On my way out I grabbed something for the road.

Yeah peanut butter sandwich cookie!

Overall the whole excursion took about 3 hours and I covered 6 miles plus I ate plus I got reading done! My day was made even better because yesterday I also went out with some friends I haven’t been out with in a while for drinks and I didn’t have to drive. Major excitement people, MAJOR excitement! I definitely celebrated. I was moving a little ah, slowly, this morning but I did manage to run 6 miles this afternoon and I rocked some Simmons Pride while running.

Simmons, my undergrad, was recently named one of the top ten Women’s colleges. To celebrate, I ran in my “Simmons Superfan” t-shirt. Deciding to go attend a Women’s college (and Simmons) was probably the single best decision I’ve ever made. It was so empowering! Read about it here.

Oh, and my foot felt good on the run. I rolled my left foot afterwords. Things are looking better and better.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

shrimp linguine in marinara sauce

One of the odd side effects of the new semester is that my week days and week nights have been busy and my weekends have been chill. I am not complaining, because it leave time for kitchen experimentation. I’ve been itching to cook shrimp for the past few weeks and decided that Sunday was the night.

I started this party with 1/2 an onion and 2 cloves of garlic chopped and sauteed in EVO at medium heat. Keep at medium heat while cooking.

I then added a 1/2 lb of shrimp and added it to the pan.I also salt and peppered it.

Let it cook.

Get ready to make the sauce! With 1 can of diced tomatoes, basil, and crushed red pepper.

Let it simmer, adjusting the spices for about 7 mins. I like my sauce milder so I added more basil and less crushed red pepper. After 7 mins I added a hand full of spinach.

I warmed it with the shrimp and let it cook down. While all of this was happening, I cooked two servings of pasta (yeah leftovers for lunch) until al dente. Combine the pasta with the sauce and heat up a little bit.

Serve with parm topping!

Tasty, simple, and exactly what I wanted! We all know I love pasta and it was nice to make a quick and easy marinara sauce to go with it. It would be easy to kick this up a notch with roasted veggies, more spicy seasoning or some fresh herbs. The left overs reheated well. I’m a little iffy on reheated shrimp. It’s a bit tougher and has that “fishey” taste. Overall, it wasn’t too bad after reheating. I think I will make this dish again!

In other news: My new, more cushioned running shoes came in today. I’ve been resting my foot after a crappy run on Saturday waiting for my new shoes. After I got them I went for a 3 mile run with .5 miles of walking on either end of the run. It felt pretty good! I continued to roll my foot on my ball and iced it. Fingers crossed that this situation has resolved itself!

Accent Vlog

Hey hey hey!

For the past few weeks there has been a “vlog” or video blog going around the internet within the healthy living community about accents. I saw Healthy Tipping Point do it so I thought I would give it a shot and enter the world of vlogging! Plus, now all you readers who don’t know be can get a grasp of what I’m like!

The words: Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

The Questions:

  • What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
  • What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
  • What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  • What do you call gym shoes?
  • What do you say to address a group of people?
  • What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
  • What do you call your grandparents?
  • What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  • What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  • What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

So what do you think? Do I have an accent? Did you like the vlog? Would you like me to incorporate vlogging into Left Coast Contessa?