Monday, May 5, 2014

Summertime Yummies

Time for the bikini diet to start, ladies and gentlemen!  Don't skimp on me though, because a Hungry Yon is not sexy. 
Small steps 2-3x a week :) 

[Pic notes: cod, spinach, portobello, onions, and red quinoa]

1. I've replaced rice with quinoa every other meal. 
2. Fish fish fish! So yummy and way less fatty than the red meat, lamb, and chicken on bone I usually devour.

[Pic note: Duck sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, red quinoa and an arugula salad with lemon juice/olive oil dressing]
3. And lastly, two nights a week where I have zero drinks. I know, it's really pathetic, but I did say small steps. 

I was going to also post a picture of the shrimp with broccoli I made tonight, but I ate it too quickly and only remembered after I finished. 

What are you guys doing to get ready for summer?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Years Resolution Time!

Dear friends,

It's that magical time of year again where we make promises to ourselves (and to Facebook) that we'll make ourselves better people and perhaps cherish the wonderful lives that we have.
Now let's be honest though, how often do we actually succeed in fulfilling these resolutions? How many of us actually remember last year's resolution at all? I had to look mine up.  I do think to a certain extent I was more conscious of my goal to stop saying "I'm tired/stressed/busy" when people asked how I was doing... but honestly, I caught myself saying those phrases enough times to piss myself off.

This year, I've decided to join forces with friends to achieve goals.
As always, us American girls will be aiming to get into better shape this year. But instead of making some arbitrary statement of better health/lost weight for the new year, my friends and I have decided to take action and make a road map for success!
Many 30 Day Challenges are in store.
For the month of January, Meghan and I will be doing 30 days of unlimited hot yoga at Bikram Yoga Herald Square.  I enjoy picking up a well priced Living Social deal on exercise classes because it really pushes you mentally to "get your moneys worth" for that time period. I'm aiming for six classes. I usually find that I'm bored of the exercise by month's end so it's perfect timing to exit.
In addition, Kathleen and I will be doing a 30 Day Cardio Challenge. It's just meant to step up our game and supplement our other work outs. So on days where I'm doing yoga or she goes to dodgeball, we get a "pass" from the cardio challenge.
  30 Day New Year Cardio Workout Challenge Chart

Once February hits, we'll be doing a 30 Day Core Challenge ! If we see results, we may repeat in April just in time for swimsuit season :)

The way to success, so we hope, is that we keep each other accountable in our workouts. We log challenge days on a shared google doc and consistently check in via texts and IMs to ensure that a proper level of guilt is bestowed on the flaker.
And Don't quit if you slip up. We are human though after all. In the past, it's taken us more than 30 days to finish a challenge. In the full heat of my masters program, it actually took me 60 days to finish the Guns, Buns and Abs challenge. I stuck with it though and didn't feel down trodden because I "failed." Each day was still a challenge and in the end I had some results to show for it.

So just remember, making a resolution is just one step to reaching a goal. Now you have to put down in stone HOW you'll get there. and Who's going to keep you accountable?

Have a happy snowy new year everyone! 



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Upside Down French and a Sock Bun

In an attempt to fancy myself in a time crunch, I had my coworker, Zoila, help me French braid the bottom of my hair. Then when I got home, I threw a sock bun doughnut in and had someone help me pin the rest around.
This look can take less than 5 minutes if you can upside down French and have mastered the sock bun.

[Pic note: Photo cred: Ryan Brown]

There are two methods.

The Roll Down method: I prefer this one on ladies who have more textured hair than I do and those who have fewer layers.  (Minus the weird toothbrush part... Buy a bristle brush lady!!)
Check out Meghan's look after I gave her the sock bun look for her friend's wedding!
A thickening spray like Bumble and Bumble's, a dry shampoo or just standard hairspray have been helpful to add more "grip" to my hair when I opt for the Roll Down method.

The Wrap Method: This is easier and more stable for glossy or fine hair that tends to fall out of styles easily.  But if your hair is long like mine, you'll likely get that wrap around piece under the bun and aesthetically I am less pleased with this look.

[Pic note: Cab shot! Classy but quick look for a rehearsal dinner]

::Happy styling!::

Friday, October 11, 2013

I Made a Sock Bun Happen!

Too bad this is never how it turns out when I try a sock bun on my own hair.
But at least it was a success for Meghan's hair when I worked my magic for her friend's wedding :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Mascara Tour

Last Christmas, I got more mascara than I knew what to do with.
Here are my raves (and 'not so muches'):

They're Real by benefit
Pros: This stuff builds VERY quickly and is filled with fibers so your lashes look huge and bold with minimal effort. Definitely my go-to when I don't have time for falsies and need a bold 'going out' look. Also does a great job of lifting lashes.
Cons: It comes off in bits and takes a little more effort to rinse off (I steer clear of waterproof mascara b/c I'm too lazy to use make up remover on a daily basis). Also, after a longg night, some of the bits can sometimes rub off under-eye :/

[Pic note: They're Real mascara ]

Longest Lash by Jane Iredale
Pros: The brand adheres to a more natural product. It has a pretty skinny but bristley brush so I've used it for my bottom lashes only (read Cons)
Cons: This product does not layer at all. I could not use this for even my daytime look b/c it's just so light. I've relegated it to bottom lash territory only.

Hypnose Star by Lancome
Pros: Smells like roses and layers very well. This is my go-to day wear mascara of the year. Washes off easily in water.
Cons: None, it's awesome.

Telescopic by L'Oreal
Pros: This is my cheap drugstore go-to product. Love the thin plastic bristles that comb through clumps and gives great bold lash coverage. Layers very well. Washes off easily in water. Lasts forever too.
Cons: Doesn't do anything in the curl territory. 

Diorshow Maximizer and Diorshow Mascara
Pros: The Maximizer is a great primer to add thickness to lashes before putting the mascara on. It also supposedly helps hold a curl. Decent performance but not really worth the price.
Cons: I have the "sample size" so the wand length was hard to work with due to the substantial bristle widtch. Also, having to use two products is annoying. 

Until next Christmas!!
::Happy face::

Monday, July 22, 2013

My First Citibike Incident

Although they resemble a leisurely beach cruiser, Citibikes must be peddled at a more robust pace to keep up with speeding delivery men and of course the cars.
I can only use them on return trips home because I'm often found profusely sweating after a quick ride due in part to my traffic anxiety and also in part to the physical exertion.
Today, I decided to test my endurance with a 2.5 mile run and a one mile cool down bike ride. I set to planning with my handy Citibike app and charted out my 40 blocks of running to end next to a dock site. The thought hadn't crossed my mind that I'd ever get to a station and no bikes would exist. This occasionally happens at the stations by work and it makes little difference to me as I have not grown to depend on them. .. just yet.
So as I peddle my way to the next dock, two women approach me asking if they can take my bike... I stare at them both not really sure what to say except "sure" non-commitally in either of their directions. I dock and wait for them to hash it out on their own but instead of talking amongst themselves they're arguing their sides to me! My worst fear of the moment.
"I've been waiting for the next bike."
"These are like cabs. It's the first person to the curb!" Says the second lady with helmet in hand.
The "waiting lady" eventually won out with stronger body language to take the bike as I stood between them hoping they wouldn't notice me wipe the sweaty seat off.
She thanked me as I scuddled off toward home. Helmet lady ambled away half-heartedly, perhaps thinking about the nearest station... or perhaps what she used to do to get home just a few short months ago.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Coastal California: A Blissful Vacay

You step into the California sun, and sometimes it feels like a different sun. Brighter, lighter and more peaceful than the New York version. It felt like this after we left the confines of the LA area, but while we were there... 
We picked up our Avis car, a sweet red Chevy Cruze, and made our way to the first In and Out Burger joint we could find.
On our first and only day in LA, we decided to hit the beach for some blue skies and sweet sun action. We ended up on the deserted sands of Will Rogers Beach after a delicious lunch at Lenny's Deli. I got the delicious deluxe chicken sandwich and it really just blew my mind. The fresh-food-in-California-adventure started here. 

[Pic note: Completely empty and pristine beach]

After a couple hours of sun-soaking, we decided to head toward our next destination: Yosemite National Park! We took 395 up through the Mojave Desert and made a pit stop in the Red Rock Canyon. It was a beautiful (but scorching) little mountain area where you could actually see the work of tectonic plates shifting and throwing billions of tons of gorgeous multi-layered rock into a nice 17 degree kilter. It wasn't exactly a fully furnished tourist spot so be careful here. It's hot and not that easy to figure out which way you came from. I had an "I'm lost in the desert moment!"

One of a few lessons I learned on this trip was taught at our next pit stop: Bishop, California. Unlike New York City, EVERYTHING closes at 9pm. Maybe not the bars, but on a long road trip in California, I was hoping for some delicious food stops. What we got was the Upper Crust. It was the only food establishment in (probably) hundreds of miles that was open. It was 'meh'. It was here that I also learned what a schooner (a draft beer size) was. It was larger than an American pint. After reading up on it, I am more confused. Apparently, it hails from Australia and is 2/3 the size of an English pint. [Baffled]
That evening, we stayed at Shiloh Inns in Mammoth Lake. It was a pretty great hotel considering where we were and where we'd just driven through (a desert/middle of nowhere). They had a 24-hour pool/sauna/hot tub/fitness center and free breakfast that prepared us for one of my favorite parts of the trip!
BTW, We used Orbitz to find places to stay the entire trip. We didn't book anything more than a day in advance because we wanted to be free as a bird to do as we pleased! Most of the places we stayed in were almost surprisingly nice and we never paid more than $130 a night.

Ryan wanted to visit Mono Lake  before we hit Yosemite. It was a spectacular area. Tuffa formations were really a sight to be seen. It felt quite warm, but in the not-too-far distance you could actually see snow-capped mountains!

Afterwards, we did the Yosemite upper region. We just got lost on a few hikes around mammoth boulders and beautiful lakes. Just go out and explore. That is my only advice.
The following day, we did the valley. Bring bug spray. The Mist Trail hike is definitely worth it. Strenuous but beautiful. And the waterfall mist is so rejuvenating after a couple of miles on this path!

San Francisco
Our next stop was San Fran! We didn't have too much time to spend here and Ryan had already been so we casually wondered around a few neighborhoods and let chance guide our days here.  

Some notable stops:
The Nob Hill Hotel is one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever stayed in. It was so unique and ornate. I would definitely recommend it!
[Pic note: Nob Hill Hotel room. How ornate!]

One afternoon, while strolling around, a friendly native mentioned that a classical music festival was happening at a nearby church and if we were free we should attend. So we did! Old Saint Mary's Cathedral: Summer Mozart Festival. What a lovely little treat!

[Pic note: Old Saint Mary's Cathedral]

City Lights Bookstore: Great poetry section upstairs! I picked up a multi-language book for my dad that had Chinese (translated) poetry that was a huge hit!
Coit Tower: Great view of the city. We didn't feel like paying the $7 to ride the elevator up to the top, mostly there was a line and also because the view from the "ground" was already pretty spectacular. We walked a lot of San Fransisco hills to get to this tower!
[Pic note: A view of Alcatraz on top of some art school... we may have loitered...]  

Golden Gate Park Rose Garden:  The park was a beautiful getaway right next to the city. Ryan and I wandered around for a few hours, catching dozens of turtles and even blue heron on the lake!

[Pic Note: Admiring a rose]

Food highlights:
Coco Bang: Korean hole-in-the-wall restaurant by our hotel.
Cafe Chanta: Hookah bar with friendly patrons and owners. We hung out here almost all night!
Thad's Cozy Cafe: Small restaurant with the most darling employees. We came here every morning!

Four Seas Restaurant in San Fran's Chinatown was a bit of a let down. We got a few different dim sum platters and they were all rather unsavory.
Sabella and La Torre: There are a dozen different seafood shacks and restaurants along the Fisherman's Wharf. Every one of them has cat callers beckoning you in. This was the one I chose. I can't vouch for the other ones but I wasn't that excited about my meal. I got fish tacos, expecting super-fresh and juicy fillings. Instead I got a random white fish covered in SALSA! It just didn't make sense to completely stampede over a mild flavor with salsa like that. The clam chowder was delicious though.

Point Reyes National Seashore: Beautiful off the beaten trail site to visit. It was very windy the day we went out so it was completely deserted. Supposedly when in season, whales and other animal sitings occur frequently here. We didn't see anything good but it was still worth the drive for the miles of cow pastures we drove through!

Jack London Lodge: Really sweet little hotel with gorgeous interiors, Pool and hot tub. I'd stay there again. 
Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen. Pork Shoulder was delish. Flounder was a great choice as well. NO Corkage fee so stop by a vineyard and pick up  a bottle before dinner!

BR Cohn was our favorite vineyard. They even have an olive oil store on site as well!
Sunflower Caffe: Smoked Duck Sandwich was eh. Goat Cheese/Avocado/Bacon on sourdough was a much better choice. Outdoor patio is this lush garden with overhang to provide the perfect shade.
Cornerstone Gardens: Avant Garde art space with evolving exhibits all year long. Definitely a fun spot to roam around for a couple of hours.

[Pic note: Some Cornerstone art]

Arcata and the journey

[Pic note: 'Somewhere' on the coast by the Marine Lab]
Fred Telonicher Marine Laboratory: Cool pitstop along the way up the coast! There's a free small aquarium and random beach paths where you can (seasonally) spot sea animals.
Cafe Mokka and Finnish Country Sauna and Tubs: This was one of the most interesting stops of our trip! The cafe has a large backyard where there are private saunas and hot tubs available for rent in 30 minute increments. They're all individually fenced in with a small changing room so you can basically have a 1-4 person sauna or hot tub to yourself. How cool, right?!
Six Rivers Brewery: Fun brewery with interesting flavors (pepper beer anyone?)

[Pic note: Six Rivers Brewery sampler!]

Crosswinds in Arcata. Complimentary champagne on weekends with brunch!
Kinetic Grand Championships on Memorial Day weekend was a bizarre "race" of sorts where contestants need to build human powered vehicles (essentially bike-powered) that will traverse miles across Humboldt County, CA. The artwork here is phenomenal!

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area.

[Pic Note: Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area siting!]


Eugene is a sleepy town with loads of happy hippy people. Biking around town and to the U was one of the highlights of our visit! A couple of other places we visited were:
Sweet Life desserts: So many options, so little belly space!

Falling Sky Brewery: A friend's friend opened this amazing brewery with great food. Great beer. Great burger. Can't go wrong.

Blairalley Arcade bar! That's right: Beer and games all under one roof. Asteroid is free!

Last Stop: Portland, Oregon

Hotel Deluxe: Free upgrade for talking up the concierge. We ended up in a beautiful suite where the Easter bunny might stay if he vacationed in Portland. It was soft, plush, and so many pastel colors :)
Pok Pok: The spicy fish sauce wings are the best wings I've ever eaten in my entire life. And what good fortune: They opened a location in New York a month after my return!!!
Rogue Ales Public House and Distillery: Nothing seems to open very late on the west coast including their bars. This was a sweet spot with a great beer selection but they were closed by midnight on my birthday! boo :(
[Pic note: My Instagram shot of the bottle selection at Rogue]

What a wonderful trip we had roaming up the California coast to Oregon. It's a trip I won't soon forget and hope to repeat again some day.

::Happy traveling!::