Epic Saturday

I meant to finish writing this post last night, but I was feeling so awful after my run that I went directly to bed when I got home. Fortunately I was mostly recovered by the time I woke up this morning!

I had a pretty epic Saturday, for me at least. It started when I woke up early (earlier than I usually do on weekdays, actually) without the aid of an alarm. I felt so good that I rolled out of bed before 7 AM, got dressed, and went to Corner Bakery for breakfast. I always make sure to eat a substantial breakfast on Saturdays since I run in the evenings. That sounds like a good excuse to eat delicious scrambled eggs with sausage and veggies, right? Yummy. After breakfast I drove to the Block at Orange to finally see “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” It was awesome, and I’m not saying that just because I have a major crush on James McAvoy. I’m not as familiar with the original comic book storyline as I’d like (I’ve actually never read any comic books), but I really enjoyed the movie anyway. I remember going to see the first X-Men movie back in the summer of 2000 with a few other Boeing interns. That was a lot of fun, and this new movie was as well. After I left the theater I walked around the Block for a while, but I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without. Then it was lunchtime. Which ‘Wich would usually be my meal of choice since I was already in Orange, but yesterday I discovered that there’s a new Firehouse Subs that opened in the same area. Eureka! There was no way I was going to pass that up. I haven’t been to Firehouse since I was in DC in March (I ate there twice then) so I was ridiculously excited to get a Hook & Ladder sub for lunch without getting on an airplane. And it was just as delicious as I remembered, especially with a large cherry vanilla Coke on the side. I inhaled them both. I have a feeling I’ll be going there quite often. My entire morning was spent wearing my new orthotics in my running shoes to work on breaking them in. I only had to wear them for six hours yesterday (I’ll write more about the process another time) so I got to take them off when I got home at 1 PM. Phew! Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before I can actually wear them for running. But anyway, I spent most of my afternoon at home, relaxing and preparing myself for my evening run. I’d never run 8 miles before and I was really nervous about it (and rightly so, but I’ll write more about that later), so I went out and bought a small handheld water bottle so I wouldn’t get dehydrated. That turned out to be a good decision, even if holding the thing while running wasn’t that much fun. I survived my run last night, if only barely, and I practically collapsed into bed afterwards. I thought I was going to die. My last thought before falling asleep was, “Please let my body heal overnight!” And it mostly did, thank goodness. So that was how my crazy Saturday ended. Pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Writing prompt – Junk food

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from May 13, 2014:
How often do you eat foods that you know are bad for your body?

So I’m not going to answer this question with an exact number (mostly because the truth is scary), but I will say that I eat a little bit of junk food almost every day. (More than I’d like to admit, but that’s a story for another time.) “Everything in moderation” is pretty much the cornerstone of my dieting philosophy because I get cranky if I deprive myself of the food I crave for too long. I just try to minimize the amount of unhealthy things that I eat to make sure my body is properly fueled for running, and also to try and keep my weight in check. It hasn’t been working as well as I’d like, but it’s a work in progress. Unfortunately my Disneyland visit last night didn’t really help with this endeavor. Here’s what my dinner and dessert consisted of:

Chieftain Chicken Skewer (chicken in Polynesian sauce) from Bengal Barbecue
Safari Skewer (bacon wrapped asparagus) from Bengal Barbecue
Dole Whip Soft-Serve (pineapple frozen yogurt) from Tiki Juice Bar
Hot chocolate from Ghiradelli’s

All of this was so delicious! Especially the bacon wrapped asparagus. It was perfectly grilled, the bacon was crispy, and the asparagus was tender and slightly blackened. I could have eaten three of them, and I know I’ll be back for more on my next visit. The chicken skewer was tasty too, but not as remarkable. I will try one of the beef skewers next time. The Dole Whip was a new experience for me, which is hard to believe based on how many times I’ve been to the park since I got my annual pass. I admit the hot chocolate was too much after the Dole Whip (which I didn’t finish), but it was a bit chilly after the sun went down (I love Southern California!) and I wanted something warm. Plus I don’t have the willpower to walk by Ghiradelli’s without getting something bad for me. The hot chocolate really hit the spot, but I didn’t finish it either. At least I saved a few calories on the sweets!


My birthday. Historically not a good day for me. Something bad always seems to happen – and last year was the worst. It was enough to make me want to spend my next birthday hiding from the world, but I decided to do something else instead. I took the day off from work and went to Disneyland. Well, actually, I went to a doctor’s appointment first (it couldn’t be helped), but Disneyland was my second destination. Fortunately my ankle wasn’t any worse for wear after my run last night (phew!) so it was up for a day of walking around both Disney parks. And it was a lovely day in Anaheim, not too hot and not too cold – which might explain why there were so many people there! It was much busier than I expected for the middle of a post-holiday week. Maybe people took an extra week of vacation after the new year? One way or another, I had to share Disneyland with quite a few other people today. No big deal. My first stop upon entering the park was City Hall to get my personalized birthday button. It’s so much fun having people wish you happy birthday everywhere you go! Due to the aforementioned crowds I didn’t get on as many rides as I would have liked, but I didn’t really mind. One of my favorite activities at Disneyland is just walking around. One new thing was “Mickey and the Magical Map,” a live show that premiered last summer that I hadn’t seen until now. Very cool. At 2 PM I had a lunch reservation at Carthay Circle, a restaurant in California Adventure that opened in the last couple of years. I’d never eaten there before, and today I learned just how much I was missing. Here’s what I ordered:

Carthay Signature Fried Biscuits (stuffed with White Cheddar, Bacon and Jalapeno served with Apricot Honey Butter)
Ginger Pork Pot Stickers (accented with Lemon Grass and Mango Voodoo Sauce)
Ultimate Beef Sandwich (Slowly Braised Beef Short Rib served Open Faced with Sauteed Portobello Mushrooms, Parmesan Cheese and Arugula)

Sounds good, right? Words cannot describe how delicious that lunch was. It was hands down the best meal I’ve ever had inside a Disney park. I’ll have to go back there for dinner sometime. Since I had such a late lunch it was time to think about driving home when I was done eating. But not after a little birthday shopping! I got myself a 2014 pin to add to my collection and a couple of magnets too. I’ve been making do with two very old refrigerator magnets (one is of Legolas from 2001 when the first Lord of the Rings movie premiered) for over a year and now I have double that number! Woohoo! I spent so many years with a stainless steel fridge that I forgot how nice it is to display things like Christmas cards in the kitchen where you can see them all the time. I put the new Disneyland magnets on my refrigerator as soon as I got home. Then I whipped up a batch of red velvet brownies with cream cheese frosting to take to work with me tomorrow. One of my co-workers asks for them all the time and I figured I’d oblige since tomorrow is his birthday. I was thinking of making a blueberry pound cake as my own birthday cake, but I’ll just do that some other time. And now it’s bedtime. I can’t believe I got through this day without some major disaster. I guess birthdays don’t have to be terrible!

Disneyland dining – Paradise Garden Grill

Last night I had a problem. When I finally got home from the laundromat with all of my freshly cleaned clothes my options were stay home for the night or go out. And as tempting as it sounded to not have to drive anywhere, I knew that if I chose that route I would end up either sitting on the couch watching TV for hours or going jogging. Now jogging might sound like it would have been a great choice, but my legs were sore after increasing my mileage on Monday and Tuesday so they desperately needed a break. So to avoid the temptation I grabbed my keys and my annual pass and headed to Disneyland! The parks were crowded for a weeknight (hey, it’s still summer) so instead of trying to get on any rides I headed to California Adventure to get some dinner instead. Most of the food at Disneyland is mediocre at best, but there are some bright spots that you need to be aware of if you ever plan to get a meal there. One of my favorite places is Paradise Garden Grill that serves skewers with several different meal and sauce options. I’ve tried two different combinations – 1) Lemon-Oregano Chicken with Tzatziki and 2) Grilled Steak with Chimichurri (last night’s dinner) – and both were really delicious. I have written about my love of tzatziki many times (and even posted my own recipe) so I enjoyed the chiken with tzatziki the first time I ate there. And then last night I couldn’t get enough of the chimichurri sauce on the steak! While the meat wasn’t as tender as it could have been (a sharper knife would definitely have helped!), it was still very tasty and perfect with the scrumptious sauce. Besides the skewers themselves, the rice pilaf, cucumber salad, and pita bread on the side are top notch. I cleaned my plate, which is very rare…just about anywhere! Plus it’s probably one of the healthier meal options in either of the parks. So if you find yourself in California Adventure, looking for somewhere to eat, I cannot recommend the Paradise Garden Grill highly enough. I’m actually planning on eating there again this weekend!

Week of words/Sandwich tales

It’s no secret that some days I rely on photos or quotes (or recipes – sorry!) to fulfill my daily post requirement, but I know they’re no substitute for actual writing. So for the next seven days I vow to only update my webpage using my own words. This will be a good exercise for my out of shape writing skills and hopefully I can get around to posting some stories that I’ve been keeping in the back of my mind for a while. That being said, here’s the first one!

I have a great love of turkey sandwiches. I used indulge my addiction at Schlotzsky’s Deli in Gainesville when I was at UF and at Potbelly Subs in DC when I was there on travel. Unfortunately I haven’t found a place in Los Angeles that makes a turkey sandwich that I’m really crazy about yet. I have been enjoying the search, though! I used to think Togo’s Sandwiches fit the bill, but then I heard about Jersey Mike’s. After trying it I’ve discovered that I could eat turkey subs from Jersey Mike’s every day. My favorite part is that they douse the sandwiches with oil and red wine vinegar and sprinkle oregano on top which makes them absolutely delicious. No mayo needed! So Jersey Mike’s has been my sandwich of choice for a while. But then I joined a couple of my co-workers for lunch on Monday at John’s Philly Grille near work. I have been staying away from John’s because I’ve tried their cheesesteaks and I’m not a big fan, but when the Italian sub one of my co-workers ordered had oil and seasonings on the top and I was inspired to order a turkey hoagie. It was so good! So now I have two places in my area that offer delicious turkey subs. But the question is, how far am I willing to go for a great sandwich? If I have time and I’m willing to brave a little traffic (and crowds, depending of the day/time) I head to Downtown Disney to visit Earl of Sandwich. I’ve written about this place a couple of times before, but I figured it was worth another mention. The ham and swiss sandwich there is delicious, but I haven’t tried turkey. Not by itself, at least. I’ve tried turkey with roast beef, but I have a feeling it would be pretty tasty alone too. I’ll have to order it next time I’m there. Another example of a sandwich shop that requires more than a short drive is Capriotti’s. Last week when I was nearby one I had lunch there because I’d heard good things about it. Unfortunately I was really disappointed by the turkey sub I ordered. It was dry and bland. But the bread was good so I’d like to go back and try something else when I’m in the vicinity again. And then there’s Firehouse Subs. My holy grail of delicious sandwiches. I’ve only been able to eat there in Tallahassee (twice when I was there for Christmas) and in Alexandria, VA which is the closest one to where I stay when I’m on travel in DC. Firehouse Subs has the best turkey sandwich I’ve ever eaten, but we Los Angeleans just don’t have access to it. At least not easy access. I checked the website today and I’d have to drive about sixty miles to indulge my addiction there. That’s quite a commitment, but don’t think I won’t do it one weekend! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. I’ll keep you posted.

Birthday lunch success!

Remember the failed birthday lunch I wrote about last week? Well, it successfully took place on Friday, one week late. It was probably a blessing in disguise that it was postponed because I was in a much, much better mood than I had been a week earlier. The week of my birthday was really quite horrible so it was a relief for things to be going better the following week. A couple of co-workers and I had to sneak out of a meeting early to go to lunch, but this time we weren’t letting anything stop us from going to Earl of Sandwich. We left for Anaheim at 11:30 AM and arrived at Downtown Disney about a half hour later. It was a warm day, very different weather than if we’d eaten there a week earlier when it was at least 20 degrees colder, and the line at Earl of Sandwich was out the door. I had to find some shade so I wouldn’t get sunburned while we were waiting! It took about twenty minutes to order and get our food. I ordered a turkey and roast beef sandwich that was very tasty (but not as good as the ham and swiss sandwich I’ve had there before). The highlight of the meal was a delicious double chocolate chip cookie that we split between the three of us. That was one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted! I wish I knew that recipe. We definitely had a good meal at Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney. We were gone for two hours, but it was worth it. I took a very syrupy Coke and a brownie back to work with me for an afternoon snack. It was the perfect belated birthday celebration.

Birthday lunch fail

I promise I will write a longer post about my actual birthday soon, but I’m a bit busy tonight so this short story about another birthday-related event will have to do for now.

Last Friday, two days after my birthday, a couple of my co-workers wanted to take me out to lunch for a belated celebration. Since my birthday itself had been a disaster I was really looking forward to this lunch. After some discussion we decided to drive to Downtown Disney to eat at Earl of Sandwich even though it was going to take quite a bit longer than an hour. We figured it was worth having to make up the extra time to eat someplace different for a change. If you can’t go to Disneyland, Downtown Disney is the next best thing. Being there always makes me happy, and happy was something I desperately needed after my horrible week. As of Thursday night I had already decided what I was going to order at Earl of Sandwich and everything, but unfortunately something came up at work on Friday morning and we couldn’t go. Boo! I was stuck at work all day where I had two cans of Mountain Dew for breakfast and a Clif Bar for lunch. Aargh! I just wanted one single thing to go right last week but I guess that was too much to ask. The good thing is that things can’t get much worse. Here’s to this week being better than the last!

Pumpkin milkshake

Another one of our holiday traditions at work has become lunch at Ruby’s during our last week of the year. We’ve been doing this in groups of various sizes for the last three or four years. For anyone who’s not familiar, Ruby’s is an old fashioned style American diner that specializes in burgers and shakes. It became quite popular with Boeing folks when one opened right down the street from the Seal Beach facility. So to celebrate the 2012 holiday season, and to keep our tradition alive, I had lunch at Ruby’s today with two of my co-workers. I ordered a turkey burger, sweet potato fries, and a pumpkin milkshake. I’ve been dreaming about a pumpkin milkshake all fall/winter. I got one from Jack in the Box last month, but it tasted almost identical to a regular vanilla milkshake so I was pretty disappointed. Luckily the one I ordered at Ruby’s today was delicious. Like pumpkin pie in a glass! I’m glad they don’t have it on the menu all year or I would be tempted to eat at Ruby’s more often! One of my co-workers snapped this picture on his cell phone before I dug in to the shake. You can’t quite tell, but there was a lone candy corn sitting on top of the whipped cream. Considering candy corn is out of season right now I was concerned about the freshness of that little guy when I first saw him. Then I popped the candy corn in my mouth and my suspicions were confirmed. It was hard as a rock! But the pumpkin milkshake was so good so I forgave them for the stale candy corn. I only drank half of the shake to minimize the damage to my girlish figure but it wasn’t easy Good thing I’m flying to Florida for Christmas soon or else I wouldn’t be able to resist going back for another one!

Last weekend

At long last here is the weekend write up I’ve been working on all week…

On Saturday I was determined to get up and go to the gym first thing in the morning. And I did…after I stayed in bed reading a book and surfing the web for a few hours first. But I did go to the gym! I was there too early to watch the SEC championship game between Alabama and Georgia, but I saw enough of the pregame broadcast to really wish Florida was playing. I kept thinking how nice it would be if I was in Atlanta to watch the Gators play for the title, but it was not meant to be this year. The peril of being in the SEC is that losing a single game to the wrong team (i.e., Georgia) can completely take you out of the running for the season. But as every disappointed football fan says, there’s always next year. The good news is that Florida’s quarterback is only a sophomore so he has two more years to learn, improve, and potentially lead his team to a national championship. That’s a nice dream for us Gator fans. Anyway, after I left the gym I had just one thing on my mind – cookies! The guys I work with on the East Coast are always complaining that they don’t get to partake of the desserts I bake for my West Coast colleagues so I promised to send them a box of cookies right after Thanksgiving. I guess I procrastinated a little, huh? So I left the gym on Saturday, went shopping for some essential baking supplies, and barricaded myself at home. I spent the rest of the day whipping up four different kinds of cookies while catching up on all of the backlogged shows on my DVR (Glee, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Once Upon A Time, Project Runway, Top Chef, and countless made-for-TV holiday movies). Here are the festive, but a little bit off the wall recipes I used to make this latest batch of cookies.

1) Chocolate gingersnap bars – These were very interesting. Some of my West Coast co-workers loved them, but I wasn’t such a huge fan.
2) Lemon snickerdoodles – These were even more interesting (in my opinion). They needed a little more cinnamon and nutmeg, but I thought the flavor was great.
3) Applesauce bars – These turned out more like cake than cookies (some frosting on top wouldn’t have been out of place), but they were really tasty and everyone seemed to enjoy them.
4) Cornstarch chocolate chip cookies – I didn’t really use a particular recipe for this, but based on a tip from Pinterest I added some cornstarch to my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe to see what happened. The results were good, but I couldn’t tell that the cornstarch made any difference at all.

On Sunday I was a bit busier. I went to the gym again in the morning, showered quickly, and then immediately drove to Orange to see a movie with a co-worker. We’ve both been trying to see “Wreck-It Ralph” for weeks without success so we decided to go together over the weekend. It was a great movie. Very original and really funny. It helps that my current favorite song is “When Can I See You Again?” (the first song played during the credits) which I hear on Radio Disney at least once a day. After the movie I drove back home to change clothes before meeting some other co-workers for dinner. We went to Sevilla, a tapas restaurant in Long Beach, and the food was delicious. The company was very enjoyable too. When I got home from dinner I packed up all of the cookies I made the day before into Tupperware to mail to the East Coast. To save me from myself I packed up all of the leftovers into Ziploc bags to take to work with me. I am fully aware of my lack of self-control when it comes to sweets so I couldn’t possibly keep the extra cookies just sitting in the kitchen waiting for a snack attack to hit me. Why do you think I give away all of the desserts I make? To fit into my jeans, of course!

So that’s how I spent last weekend. And it only took my six days to get this post written and published. Just in time to start another weekend!