Winter Break Run Streak Days 1-12

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I started a run streak over my Winter Break. I was inspired by the Runner’s World Run Streak I kept seeing pop up on my Instagram feed since Thanksgiving, so I decided I would follow the same rule of running at least one mile a day every day. Unlike the RW Run Streak though, mine will only last for the 17 days of my school’s Winter Break…which is probably a good thing since before the streak I had only run 1-2x/week and I’m not looking to get injured!

I should explain a little bit more about why I wanted to do a run streak beyond just being inspired by fellow runners. No, this isn’t to counteract the heavy caloric intake that comes along with the holidays – after years of battling an eating disorder and years of recovery, I refuse to let running be a consequence for eating. No, this isn’t to push my mileage or speed boundaries (see not getting injured above!). For me, this run streak is an attempt to reinvigorate my love of running. Running has always been therapeutic for me. It is a time when my mind goes clear and any anxieties fall away. However, after some personal hardships earlier this year (2016 has been crappy y’all), running started having the opposite effect for me. Instead of clearing my mind, the familiar paths became poignant reminders of the difficult emotions I experienced in prior months.

I am overjoyed to report that this run streak has done just that. After an emotionally tolling first few runs combined with a change of location (yay for 3 days in Huntington Beach!), I was able to get back to a place of mental peace and clarity during this week’s runs. This was just what I needed to end 2016 on a positive note and kick off 2017 feeling motivated. That might have been kind of unexpectedly heavy tangent, so thanks for sticking around for the ride and now onto my run streak recap:

Day 1 – 5 miles @ 8:25 min/mile average pace

Day 2 – 6 miles @ 8:40 min/mile average pace

Day 3 – 3 miles @ 8:07 min/mile average pace

Day 4

Day 5 – 1 mile in 8:38

Day 6 – 4 miles @ 8:46 min/mile average pace

Day 7 – 2 miles – My Garmin watch wouldn’t start up on this day (I was worried it was broken – whew), so I’m not sure what my pace was…but I’m guessing it was pretty quick because I wanted to get out of that downpour as fast as possible!

Day 8 – 3 miles @ 8:32 min/mile average pace

Day 9 – 6 miles @ 10:09 min/mile average pace – You can see what muddy trails and significant elevation changes does to my running pace! Most of the runs I do in Los Olivos have less than 200 ft. of elevation gain.

Day 10 – 3 miles @ 8:43 min/mile average pace

Winston admiring my awesome new Harry Potter inspired running tights! Thanks Mama S 🙂

Day 11

Day 12

I’ve got 5 more days left of my run streak, let’s do this!

If you’d like to follow along in real time, please follow me on Instagram 🙂

Are you currently doing or have you ever done a run streak?

Why do you run?

This Week Part 2 (Christmas Edition)

Hi all! So in yesterday’s post I covered Mon-Weds of last week and now I want to fill you in on the rest of the week.

Thursday (12/22)

Thursday was a pretty low key and relaxed day after getting home from our trip to Huntington Beach, so I’ll keep this day’s recap short and sweet.

I decided to start a Winter Break Run Streak for the two weeks I’m on vacation (I’m a middle school teacher). I was bummed when I realized I missed out on the Runner’s World Run Streak from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve and decided to start my own mini run streak to stay motivated over the holidays…expect more on this in a blog post coming later this week.

And this is what happens when you’re starving after a run and have an empty fridge…

Sauteed onion, corn, eggplant, and chickpeas over brown rice.

…thankfully everything is made better with BBQ sauce and our basil plant lent a little color to this bland looking bowl! The rest of my day can be summed up with this picture:

Hanging on the couch with my furchild.

Friday (12/23)

Adrian doesn’t work on Fridays so we started the morning slow and by the time we headed over to our local coffee shop for breakfast it was already raining (and would continue to rain steadily for the next 12 hours or so). After breakfast, we bought little Christmas gifts to give to our local post office workers. Just to explain…our town is so small that we don’t have any home mail delivery and all use PO Boxes to get mail, so the 3 women that work in our local office do so so much for us, especially with all the packages we got around the holidays (see below!).

This is what happens when you go out of town for 3 days the week of Christmas!

Then we headed over to the Zinke Wines Tasting Room since we realized we never picked up our fall shipment back in October. We live in the middle of the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez Wine Country and became wine club members of Zinke about a month after moving to Los Olivos. We split a tasting and enjoyed hanging out inside as it continued to pour outside.

I loved the fat Christmas tree at Zinke’s!

After coming home, having lunch, and hanging out for a bit we headed out again to pick up our olive oil and vinegar shipment from Global Gardens (the only other local club we joined when we moved to Los Olivos). By then, I realized the rain wasn’t about to let up, so I braved the storm for a quick 2 miles to keep the run streak alive.

Thankfully, my jacket kept everything from the waist up dry, but my pants and shoes were soaked! We ended the night with dinner at the Wine Merchant Cafe and then coming home and watching The Santa Clause on TV. I forgot how much I loved that movie growing up…pretty sure I saw it in theaters?

Saturday (12/24 – Christmas Eve)

On Saturday, I went for a short run and then we hit the grocery store before heading down to my parents’ for Christmas Eve. My cousin was hosting a potluck-style Christmas dinner, so I had to grab a few items to make the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas from the Oh She Glow’s Cookbook to make and bring it the following day.

Once at my parents we snacked on Sriracha cauliflower and veggies with peanut sauce (my mom is awesome) along with a few other things before taking the dogs out for a romp.

We ran out of room for gifts around the tree – oops!
Adrian and Randy with our beloved furballs.

Winston (…and Adrian to be honest!) was happy to find some running water in Medea Creek.

Made even better by finding a log to swim around with.

After drying off the pups, we sat down to a fantastic meal starting with butternut squash soup, before moving on to the main course of Purely Elizabeth’s Vegan Pumpkin and Lentil Lasagna (again: my mom is awesome) with salad and bread on the side.

Then, we all settled onto the couch to watch Christmas Vacation and then play a couple of laughter-inducing rounds of the board game Name 5 before heading off to bed.

Christmas Vacation might just be the best Christmas movie.

Sunday (12/25 – Christmas Day)

Finally, the main event of the week was here! We woke up around 8am on Christmas morning and gathered around to empty stockings and open presents. I am so grateful for the wonderful gifts I received this year – highlights being a Nathan Intensity Hydration Backpack from my parents, a salt lamp (I’ve wanted one for months) from Adrian, and a telescope from my mother-in-law.

After a few hours we were all ready for breakfast! I made eggs, while my mom put break apart cinnamon rolls in the oven, and my stepdad made veggie sausages. Then, it was time to give my hydration vest a test drive with a 6 mile run in the trails behind my parents’ house.

It was still really muddy in parts due to Friday’s rainstorm.
But the views made mud-covered legs more than worth it.
I absolutely LOVE my hydration pack and was happy to wear my last year’s InkNBurn ugly sweater top again!

It was one of those perfect runs where, even though it wasn’t particularly fast, I loved every second of it and couldn’t stop smiling the whole way! Getting some “Merry Christmas” texts from my best friends in a group text at the turnaround point made it even better 🙂

Then, it was time to shower, assemble and bake the enchiladas, and head over to my cousin’s house. It was so nice to see a bunch of family members I hadn’t seen in months and I enjoyed myself so much catching up at dinner and during the white elephant gift exchange afterwards that I didn’t think to get out my phone and take pictures once – oops! Thankfully, my dad’s girlfriend, Sandy, was thoughtful enough to get a picture when we first arrived.

My dad, me, and my brother – thanks Sandy!

It was a wonderful holiday week and I am so happy and appreciate of all the family and friends that made the holiday so special. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and/or is having a Happy Hanukkah celebration!

If you celebrate, what did you do for the holidays?

Anyone interested in a Nathan Backpack review?




This Week Part 1 (Huntington Beach)

For those that celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas or beginning of Hanukkah celebration! I hope to be back tomorrow with a recap of mine. In the meantime, I wanted to flashback to last week.

Monday (12/19)

My Winter Break started off in the best way possible – with a free vacation! My husband, Adrian, is a salesman for Porsche and Mercedes and had a 3-day training in Huntington Beach to debut the new Porsche Panamera and I got to join him at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa. He didn’t need to be in until the afternoon, so after spending the night at my parents’ house (they generously offered to dogsit Winston) we enjoyed a leisurely drive down to Huntington beach, which included a stop at one of our all-time favorite restaurants, Thai Vegan.

Spicy Summer Rolls and Panang Tofu Curry.

We discovered this place when we used to live in Santa Monica and it basically became a weekly staple. Their summer rolls are the best I’ve ever had and it’s one of the only places I’ve found that serves vegan Thai Iced Tea.

Then, we walked around Venice Beach for a little bit before hitting the road again for the second half of our drive.

We checked into the hotel around 3pm and did some exploring of the 3 pool areas (sadly the main pool outside our room’s window was under construction) before Adrian had to take a quick test and go to the welcoming cocktail hour and I laced up for a quick 3 mile run.

The HB Hyatt is gorgeous, especially decked out for Christmas.

After my run, I hit the gym for a little weight room time and was really impressed by the variety of machines and that they had kettle bells along with regular free weights. Then, I headed to a solo dinner at Lemonade in the Pacific City shopping center.

The night ended with some relaxing (and entertaining) spa time with Adrian and a few of his training buddies before calling it a night.


Tuesday (12/20)

Tuesday began early since I joined Adrian for their 6am breakfast before he headed off to the Porsche Experience Center in Carson. Once he was loaded on the bus I headed out for a 6 mile run and some gym time.

Not a bad post-run view.

Then I walked around for a little over an hour catching up on the phone with one of my best friends, Kalis, and taking in the views from the pier.

Is this really December? I love California so much.

By then I was starving and walked over to Jan’s Health Bar. I got the house salad (without cheese) and the Beet It! juice.

I stumbled upon a nail salon about 2 doors down from my lunch stop and decided to make it a true vacation and treat myself to a pedicure since the weather called for flip flops. Annie’s Nails was great and I got one of the best foot/leg massages I’ve ever received with a pedicure.

With much prettier feet, I walked the mile and a half back to the hotel to hang out by the pool. Their “Spa Grotto” has 3 spas and I had one of them all to myself.

Paradise found.

Some clouds rolled in so I headed back out to Milk & Honey, a cute coffee and tea shop I had passed on my way to lunch.

Too cute.

After reading a number of Yelp reviews, I ordered the Lavender Latte (iced and with almond milk) and was not disappointed. So so good!

Then, I did a little holiday shopping on Main Street and cruised around Pacific City again before meeting up with Adrian and his coworker, Shane, to head out for dinner.

Shane had found a vegan restaurant on Yelp a few days before the trip called Vegan Nirvana that got 4.6 stars with over 500 reviews, so we were sold!

We ordered 2 appetizers and 2 entrees and split everything and they were all phenomenal. We could not get over how the flavors and textures of this meal. From “fish” tacos to “chicken” lettuce wraps, to “shrimp” and tofu stir-fries it, we were all raving about each dish and couldn’t choose a favorite.

Wednesday (12/21)

I chose to skip the 6am breakfast with Adrian, but soon regretted it once I realized I was awake at 6:30 and not falling back asleep. Oh well! I decided to get my workout for the day in early. I spent about 20 minutes in the gym before heading out for a run to keep my Winter Break Run Streak alive. However, I only made it a mile before my hunger got the best of me and I called it quits. I am one of those people that needs to eat first thing in the morning and should have known better! I went back to the room to shower before heading out to The Acai King.

I ordered the Special and the acai was really tasty, but I made the mistake of not fully reading the menu and didn’t realize it had a bunch of pineapple in it, which I am not a fan of (I know, I know, I’m weird).

As soon as I was handed my bowl, it started pouring rain and I was more than a mile walk away from my hotel. I tried waiting it out for about 10 minutes while I ate my breakfast, but it just kept pouring harder, so I threw my hair up in a bun, zipped up my (non-waterproof) jacket, and decided to hoof it back to the hotel. Oh, and did I mention I was also in flip flops?…Great haha!

Looking like a wet rat after getting caught in the rain!

Of course, it stopped raining just as I approached the hotel – just my luck! I got dried off and then hung out watching TV as it started raining again until meeting up with Adrian for his goodbye lunch. We said our goodbyes to everyone, hit up Milk & Honey one more time (at my request), and headed home.

One more lavender latte before leaving.

All in all it was an amazing trip and I’m so thankful I could come along!

Have you been to Huntington Beach?

Ever tried a lavender latte?

Anyone else a teacher on Winter Break?

Hello Winter and Goodbye Fall [Bucket List]

Now that we are 2 days into winter, it’s high time to revisit my Fall Bucket List! The bad news…I only completed 8 of my 11 list items, but the good news is that I already have 3 items to add to next year’s bucket list (I know, I know, that was a bit of a stretch for my silver lining).

I can’t freaking believe I didn’t go on a hike this whole season. What the heck?! That one bums me out more than the other unchecked boxes on my list. We did so much hiking over the summer and then just stopped. Boo! We also totally missed the window for apple picking because we were gone for so many weekends in September and October. I had planned to use those apples to bake a pie, so those two kind of went out the window together. However, I still might make a pie sometime during the next week, so I’m not completely counting that out yet for 2016.

Okay, now to what I did do! I read 2 books – both in November, which means I need to start a new book ASAP. I read Mother, Can You Not? by Kate Friedman since my mom was given it by a friend (who is a family friend of the author) and lent it to me. The author is the creator of the @CrazyJewishMom Instagram account. Overall, it was a good quick read, but not a book I would be quick to recommend someone go out and buy right now. I could definitely relate to some of the humor because I grew up in the same area she did and, even though I don’t have a Jewish mom, I think everyone can agree that moms can be a bit crazy sometime despite the best of intentions 😉

The other book I read was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, which I absolutely adored. This was one of those books where I lost sleep on more than one occasion because I just couldn’t put it down. The story was heartbreaking, but with enough humor to keep the heavy storyline from being too overwhelming. It also had some great 80’s music references (I got most of them even though I’m admittedly too young for some!).

Next up, completing a half marathon. This was the first thing I checked off my list way back on October 8th when I completed the Yosemite Half Marathon. See my full recap here.

Oh man, I’ve made hot chocolate so many times over the last few months – I could put checks all over that list item! I’ve been using this 5 Minute Vegan Hot Cocoa recipe by the Minimalist Baker. It is so chocolatey and creamy. Perfection.

Drinking hot cocoa while reading Mother, Can You Not?  means two bucket list items at once!
My first time trying coconut cream topping – I’m in love.

We just went on our day trip to Ojai a little over a week ago. This was by far my favorite bucket list item to complete! You can read the recap here.

I did bake pumpkin bread back in October, but I used a box mix, so this was a little bit of a cheat. Oh well, still counting it!

As you may remember, we might have visited the coolest pumpkin patch I’ve ever been to because it included a corn maze!

Later that week, we watched Hocus Pocus as we carved our pumpkin, so that was another two’fer.


I think Winston likes Hocus Pocus as much as I do! Or maybe just the talking cat.

I was so darn exhausted after cleaning out that huge pumpkin I took the easy way out and grabbed a rubber mallet and cookie cutter to “carve” our pumpkin…lazy-girl problems.Time warp back to the present and now it may be time to start thinking about a Winter Bucket List. Any ideas?

What exciting adventures did you get up to this fall?

Anything that is a must-do for you during the winter season?



Afternoon in Ojai!

Yesterday Adrian and I headed out to Ojai for the afternoon. A visit to Ojai was on my Fall Bucket List because the Ojai Valley gets more fall foliage color-changing than our valley (and because I’d take any excuse to visit Ojai!).

On our drive over we had to stop to check out the beautiful views of Lake Casitas along Highway 150.

Lucky for us the weather held out and we didn’t get rained out.
This picture looks romantic, but in reality there was tons of trash littered on the side of the road…womp, womp.

The last time we were in Ojai – over a year ago for our three year anniversary – we also discovered Hip Vegan Cafe on Yelp and we couldn’t wait to go back! We got into town a little after 2pm and we were both more than ready to dive straight into lunch. Our meals each started with a bowl of White Bean Spinach Soup.

Hip Vegan Cafe’s White Bean Spinach Soup

The soup was super flavorful and I am now determined to recreate it at home. I ordered “Ray’s Reuben” and Adrian got the BBQ sandwich. Both were delicious! The BBQ sauce they use is unreal and I’m all for serrano chiles in a Reuben. We were so excited to eat our sandwiches that I didn’t get a chance to take pictures – oops! But I did snap a picture of their cute outdoor dining area as we were leaving.

After lunch Adrian grabbed coffee from Ojai Coffee Roasters and we walked about a mile through downtown over to Bart’s Books. Visiting “The World’s Greatest Outdoor Bookstore” was a must-do for yesterday’s visit since we ended up skipping it during last year’s anniversary trip because of heavy rainfall. It was worth the wait – this place is so cool you guys!

Outside Bart’s Books.

Even better that the first books we stumbled upon were running books. I guess my eyes are immediately drawn to all things marathon.

Double-checking I haven’t read this Jhumpa Lahiri book before.

I ended up buying three books: Chi Running by Danny Dryer, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran, and The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri (I loved The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies). I can’t wait to settle down with these babies over Winter Break!

My happy place 🙂

Leaving the bookstore we found one of the most Ojai-esque things ever. A family had set up a get-one, give-one quote exchange. I love this little hippy city.

We ended up pulling out a beautiful quote from a published poet along with an obviously kid-written and hilarious quote that gave us both a good laugh.

I had to stop to take a picture in some of the colorful leaves we had come to see.

We also enjoyed the trellises and fountains in Cluff Vista Park.

Next stop was the Casa Barranca Tasting Room downtown. This was definitely an impromptu stop that ended up being better than what we could have planned – we loved all the wines we tried in the flight we split, got serenaded by local carolers, and met an adorable Alaskan Husky that made us seriously consider getting another dog.

We also stopped into the cutest shop (I totally forget the name of it – let me know if you recognize it!) with all sorts of products from local and international artisans. We picked up this “Masked Bandit” raccoon ornament for our tree.

Finally, we decided to stop at Topa Mountain Winery on our way out of town. We’d seen the winery on our way into town and decided we might as well continue our wine-tasting at one more location. To be honest, neither of us were crazy about their wines, but the property and tasting room were amazing and they had live music and lawn games. We caught the end of the music set and played a [hilariously pathetic] game of cornhole as the sun went down.

The day ended with dinner at home. After dealing with a cold this week, I’ve been a little obsessed with turmeric everything (I made Golden Milk for the first time on Friday night) and made a miso and turmeric broth soup with somen and udon noodles, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, and carrots topped with thinly sliced raw onions.

Turmeric Noodle Soup.

Feelings about turmeric?

Favorite quote?

Any book recommendations for once I’ve finished these?

Weekend in San Francisco

Hi all! I’m currently attempting to abate my anxiety over the presidential election results (#nastywomenunite) by reminiscing on the wonderful weekend we spent in San Francisco. We went up for Manasi and Aditya’s wedding. Manasi is one of my dearest and best friends since 7th grade and I was over-the-moon-ecstatic to celebrate her marriage on Saturday.

The most gorgeous and brilliant bride - photo credit goes to Lisa!
The most gorgeous and brilliant bride – photo credit goes to Lisa!

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s back up to Friday…

Adrian’s mom and grandmother live about 40 miles south of San Francisco, so we were excited to get to combine the wedding trip with a family visit. To get as much family time in as possible, I was able to take a half day at work (shoutout to my coworker, An, for covering my last class – you da you da best!), so that we could make it up for dinner Friday night. We picked up pizza on our way to their house and stayed until after 10 catching up on Friday night. We hadn’t visited since Christmas almost a year ago, so this trip was much overdue!

We checked into our hotel and watched Real Time with Bill Maher as we got ready for bed. In prep for the wedding, I tried a new facial mask that I got as a free sample in my last Sephora order and I just had to let you all know about it!

Caudalie Instant Detox Mask
Caudalie Instant Detox Mask

It’s animal ingredient and animal cruelty free and made my skin so soft. I think I’m in love and now I want to try their whole weekly regimen.

Saturday started with a quick 2 mile run on the hotel gym treadmill and some free weights while Adrian went to the De Anza Flea Market in Cupertino with his best friend, Chris, who lives in the area. Then, we picked up sandwiches from Ike’s Place – the BEST – to have lunch with Adrian’s mom and grandma before getting ready for the wedding.

Which brings us to the main event…the wedding! It was held at Terra Gallery in the SoMa district. The venue was breathtaking – a huge open and modern space with one wall of huge windows with views of the city.

Terra SF


The table were decked out in blue and gold that I’m assuming were an homage to the fact that Manasi went to Cal (with me – Go Bears!) and Adit went to Michigan.

The ceremony was heart-warming and perfectly fit the couple. I loved how intimate it was to watch just the bride and groom without being flocked by bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Saying "I do."
Saying “I do.”

Then dinner was served (the food was phenomenal, Indian food = the best wedding food ever!) and the sisters’ gave their speech. Both Manasi and Adit have a younger sister each and they killed it – I was either tearing up from joy or laughter throughout their entire speech! Then, the party got started with a few coordinated dances to kick things off. Here’s a quick clip from my Instagram, so awesome!

To make the night even better, the wedding was like a mini-college reunion with so many friends I hadn’t seen in months and, in most cases, years! I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, but here’s some that my friends shared with me:

Jeannie! Thanks for the picture, my love!
Jeannie! Thanks for the picture, my love!
Lisa! Also stealing this photo from her ;)
Lisa! Also stealing this photo from her 😉


The Fab Four/The Oak Park Crew/The Three Best Friends That Anyone Could Have
The Fab Four/The Oak Park Crew/The Three Best Friends That Anyone Could Have

I can’t wait until the professional ones are made public! Everyone had an incredible time dancing the night away until the venue had to close at 11. Between the food, music, and insanely beautiful outfits, Indian weddings are basically the best weddings.

Speaking of outfits, I was extremely happy with my last-minute purchase from I ordered the All That Shimmers Is Gold Maxi Dress on Sunday less than a week before the event and it ended up working out perfectly. I got so many compliments on this dress and it was so simple to style.

"Glamour shot" by Jeannie in the bathroom hah!
“Glamour shot” by Jeannie in the bathroom hah!

Finally, on Sunday after checking out of the hotel, I dropped Adrian off to spend time with his mom as I headed up to San Francisco again to have brunch with some of my best friends from college – most of which I hadn’t seen since a camping trip 3 years ago!

Congrats to the [semi] newly engaged couple - Alex and Pam!
Congrats to the [semi] newly engaged couple – Alex and Pam!

This is love.
This is love.

After a brunch that lasted well over 3 hours with over 10 of the most amazing people I know, it was time to drive home. I left with a heart filled to the brim with love. I am so grateful for the friends, family, and friends that are family that make the Bay Area still feel like a second home.

Day in the Country + The Solvang Farmer Pumpkin Patch

I hope everyone is having a great Sunday! My weekend has been a good one and even though it started with no plans on the calendar, we made some last minute decisions that have kept it active while still being a relaxing weekend at home after being away for the last 3 weekends in a row.

On Friday, I didn’t get home until around 6 because I was on a roll grading papers and getting my copies made for next week (I’m a seventh grade math teacher), so we decided to go out for dinner. We headed over to Solvang to go to Chomp, a diner-style burger place because we were both wanting something inexpensive and easy. They had their scarecrow out and decorated Chompy, their resident T-Rex (I have no clue if that’s its real name, but that’s what I’m calling it).

Garden Variety Runner // Chomp

After devouring my veggie burger and eating way too many fries, we walked around town for a while. It was overcast, but warm out so we enjoyed browsing the fall decorations at Valley Hardware and window shopping.

On our way back to our car we stumbled upon The Book Loft and it is an absolutely amazing book store. It looks small from outside, but it is packed on the inside – new books are on the first floor and the upstairs has used and antique books as well as a Hans Christian Andersen Museum.

This is only a small part of the upstairs, but that a printing press on the left and a bust of H.C. Andersen straight ahead.
This is only a small part of the upstairs, but that’s a printing press on the left and a bust of H.C. Andersen straight ahead.

The museum was just closing when we got there, so I only quickly got to poke my head in, but I definitely want to go back soon to spend a few hours looking through the museum and their shelves upon shelves of new and old books.

We came home and crashed on the couch to watch some TV before heading to bed. I also made the very last minute to sign-up for the Los Olivos “Day in the County” 5k Fun Run the next morning. The race start was about a minute away from our front door and the $20 registration fee goes towards beautifying our hometown, so even after just running a half marathon last weekend, I couldn’t resist signing up.

I woke up naturally at 6:28am before my alarm went off on Saturday morning (I get up at 5 or earlier on weekdays, so this was sleeping in for me). I got ready and then headed out around 7 to pick-up my bib from the registration table. Adrian, my hubby, was still sore after his first half marathon and said he didn’t think he wanted to run, but as I turned around from the registration he was behind me dressed to run and eating a banana. YES! He was going to run too…my plan to slowly convert him into a runner is working 😉 The race didn’t start until 8 so we went back home to pin our bibs and I took Winston out for a short walk before we headed over to the start.

There were only about 20 or so runners, so the race was really small and relaxed. Adrian and I ran together for the first mile. Thankfully, he wasn’t with me later because I ran the wrong way and added an extra loop on to the course. I was all alone and I knew that they said it was an out and back course except one loop, but there was no one in front of or behind me at that point and I decided I’d rather run further then find out I cut the course short. Darn! I was doing pretty well too, so I was bummed when I realized a little before hitting mile 3.

Garden Variety Runner // A Day in the Country 5k

Thankfully, of all the races to get lost on, a fun run is the time to do it! Adrian ended up finishing less than a minute or so before me since he didn’t make any wrong turns. We took a quick walk to check out the vendor tents as they were setting up before the crowds came in, then headed home, took a quick picture, stretched, and showered.

Garden Variety Runner

After showering we headed over to Corner House Coffee to have a real breakfast before watching the parade.

Delicious breakfast burrito (since there's a chance I may get asked, we eat almost exclusively vegan at home, but we do eat eggs and cheese when out).
Delicious breakfast burrito (since there’s a chance I may get asked: we’re vegetarian – while we eat almost exclusively vegan at home, we do eat eggs and cheese when out).

Then we walked over to check out the parade. It featured some old cars, equestrian groups, local politicians, and schools, but the grand finale (especially for the little ones in the crowd around us) was definitely the tractors.

Garden Variety Runner // A Day in the Country Parade
2 of about 8 or so tractors that finished out the parade.

Here’s a picture of one half of the vendor lined street from later in the day when the sun peeked out for a bit. There were a bunch of cute local stores that set up tents as well as local artists and artisans.

Garden Variety Runner

We hung around the house for a bit and got some chores done before heading out to the Solvang Farmer Pumpkin Patch in the afternoon. We had driven past it a few times over the past couple of weeks and I couldn’t wait to have time to actually go this weekend. The pumpkin patch has a ton of different varieties of pumpkins and gourds and much more reasonable prices than this city-girl is used to seeing at a pumpkin patch (I bought my pumpkins from the grocery store in recent years because I couldn’t justify spending over $20 for a pumpkin). It has some setups especially meant for photo-ops, which made it a family portrait and Instagrammers’ dream – we definitely saw lots of cute toddlers dressed for pictures and some couples our age in full make-up and flannel for solid social media shots 🙂

But, I didn’t even mention the best part – the pumpkin patch has a corn maze!

Time to go get lost!
Time to go get lost!

I have never been in a corn maze before and I was really excited. It was huge and I think we definitely did a few extra loops (guess that was yesterday’s theme!). It was a little rough to do all that wandering after a race – whoops! But, I was psyched to cross that off me bucket list…speaking of bucket lists, I’ll be back to update my Fall Bucket List later this week. We also found THE.BEST.PUMPKIN.EVER.

Y'all can stopping looking, we already found the best pumpkin.
Y’all can stopping looking, we already found the best pumpkin.

I mean, look at this stem…

Garden Variety Runner

I can’t wait to carve it and [per tradition and my obsession] watch Hocus Pocus tonight!

After the fun at the pumpkin patch, we came home and I made another throw-together veggie and grain bowl out of the things in our fridge and pantry.

Harvest blend grains, peas, and roasted portobello mushrooms with a walnut pesto sauce.
Harvest blend grains, peas, and roasted portobello mushrooms with a walnut pesto sauce.

We also had our first rain of the season!! This is a huge deal here – it’s been a long dry summer for us in Central and Southern California and I love rain (at least California style rain that never sticks around long enough to get sick of it).

Since it was raining and this weekend became all about all things fall, I decided to whip up pumpkin bread for breakfast today using Trader Joe’s boxed pumpkin bread mix.

Garden Variety Runner // Pumpkin Bread

I always sub in chia seeds “eggs” for eggs in Trader Joe’s bread mixes (I swear they make their cornbread even better), but this time I also subbed in pumpkin puree for the oil. I think that was a bit of a mistake…it made it too pumpkin-y? I guess it just made the pumpkin a little overpowering – oh well – let’s be honest, it won’t stop me from eating it!

Finally I kicked off today by watching some morning news shows, eating said pumpkin bread, and loving on Winston.Garden Variety Runner

After a slow morning, I got ready for a run and leashed up Winston for a pre-run walk. It started raining again (YAY) as we were on our walk, so I came home and changed into a light running rain jacket before leaving on my run. This ended up being a BIG mistake! It was lightly raining, but it was warm enough out that I think the jacket was just as wet on the inside from sweat as it was on the outside from rain; not the best situation.

Garden Variety Runner // 5 Mile Run

Maybe my expectations were too high because I usually love running in the rain, but this was not the greatest run. I was overheating because of the jacket situation and my calf was feeling a bit overworked after the 5k yesterday, so I ended up cutting short what I had hoped to be a 6-8 mile run. Still better than no run! Hopefully I have a lot more opportunities to redeem running in the rain for me in the near future!

Are you getting a pumpkin this Halloween?

Have you ever done a small local race? I used to love the ones put on by Zombie Runner in Palo Alto when I lived in San Jose.

Yosemite Half Marathon Race Recap

You guys, I had such an amazing weekend in Yosemite! I am so glad that my husband and parents all agreed to sign up when I asked them back in December after seeing an advertisement for Vacation Races Yosemite Half Marathon on my Facebook newsfeed. This was my eleventh half marathon, but – way more exciting – this was Adrian’s first half marathon! (He says it’s also his last…I’m hoping that changes in the future, but he said he’d be up for some 5 and 10k’s, so I’m not about to complain.) I’m jumping the gun though, let’s go back to Friday.

I took the day off from work so that we could leave on Friday morning since we live about 5 hours away. We arrived in Oakhurst – the town just south of Yosemite National Park right next to Bass Lake – around 3pm, met up with my parents at our hotel, dropped off our bags, and headed over to the race packet pick-up to grab our bibs.

We seemed to hit rush hour at the pre-race expo, but it the volunteers were well organized and moved the line along quickly. After grabbing our bibs, we got to pick out our race shirt – they had 3 colors to choose from (women could choose from blue, mint, or gray), which I loved. I’m usually a gray girl through and through, but I couldn’t turn down the mint.

Did I mention how much I love these race shirts?!
Did I mention how much I love these race shirts?!

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite Half

There were a handful of great vendors, this was a race expo that understood quality over quantity. I was excited to grab some Evolve Protein Shakes – I’ve been wanting to try them for a while – while the guys grabbed some Kicking Horse Coffee.

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite Half

I was also psyched about my race number because our anniversary is September 29th! I also bought an awesome John Muir shirt by Meridian that I couldn’t wait to wear the next day when we visited Yosemite Valley.

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite Half

Then it was off to grab an early pasta dinner around 4:45 since we all knew we wanted to get to bed early. We were lucky we went when we did because I think there was only one Italian restaurant in town and by the time we let there was a line out the door and we heard they were no longer taking reservations. Then, it was back to the room to get ready for race day by laying out our gear and hydrating like it was our jobs.

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite Half
I didn’t end up wearing my FlipBelt since I was wearing my Nathan belt and realized I could just fit my phone in the mesh pocket. I also didn’t end up taking any of the electrolyte supplements.
Gatorade, water, and chamomile tea.
Gatorade, water, and chamomile tea.

My alarm went off at 3:30am (Ouch! Those dark mornings always makes me question my sanity…) because we had to go catch the shuttles at 4:30. The shuttles were the only part of the race where Vacation Races still needs to get some organizational details figured out (this is only their second year running the Yosemite race) because the line up of cars to the parking lot was unreal and the shuttle had to stop for over 20 minutes to let others pass since the road was so narrow. I actually ended up getting car sick on the ride up the mountain…not a fun day to start race day, but I was thankful for the bathroom at the back of the charter bus.

My stepdad, husband, and I. (My mom was playing photographer.)
My stepdad, husband, and I. (My mom was playing photographer.)

The race start was FREEZING! We basically stood in a huddle (again questioning our sanity) for about 45 minutes until we regretfully put our jackets into the drop bags before the National Anthem began. Thankfully, the drop bag system was all very easy and organized.

The first 5 miles of the race were on a fire trail that relatively flat with gently rolling ups and downs.

Mile 1 – 8:44 This mile went by in an adrenaline fueled frozen blur.

Mile 2 – 8:55 Wondering if I could die of hypothermia while running. I honestly can’t think of a time I’ve ever been this miserably cold in my life (and only wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and gloves to fight off the cold).

Mile 3 – 10:27 Finally warming up, had to stop at the first port-a-potty since I had to go pee from the start, but couldn’t convince myself to do it until my hands were defrosted. I also dropped my gloves in the on course clothing drop containers (such a great idea, I should have kept a jacket on until then too).

Mile 4 – 7:44

Mile 5 – 7:55 Off the trail and onto the road. Miles 5-9 were all downhill.

Those trees though :D
Those trees though 🙂 This was the only picture I ended up taking during the race that wasn’t completely blurry.

Mile 6 – 7:59

Mile 7 – 8:26

Mile 8 – 7:46

Mile 9 – 7:23 Letting my legs free cycle down the hills. Maybe letting myself go a bit too much (I would feel it later), but it seemed like it would be more painful to slow down than let myself just go for it.

Mile 10 – 7:35 This is when the downhill ended and then 3 miles of mental torture started. Only my high school cross-country teammates will understand this, but running around Bass Lake gave me flashbacks to our mile time trails at Lake Mary in Mammoth (year after year this was never a good day for me).

Mile 11 – 8:48 Just trying to hold on doing the mental tallies of getting a PR vs. running a sub-2 hour half.

Mile 12 – 9:32 Feeling like those dreams where you try to run and can’t move. Similar to running in quicksand.

Mile 13 – 9:16

Final .1 – 7:50 pace

Official time 1:50:38. So bummed! Two seconds off my PR of 1:50:36 that I ran in May. Now my third half marathon that I’ve ran a 1:50:xx. I want that 1:49 so badly, I guess that means it’s time to start putting in the legwork (literally).

About 7 minutes later, this guy came through! He finished in 1:57, so freaking proud of him!

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite Half

My mom and Randy, my stepdad, weren’t far behind. Adrian and I decided to take advantage of this race ending at a lake by taking an ice bath.

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite Half

Adrian took the whole “bath” thing a little more seriously…

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite HalfWe all couldn’t stop talking about these race medals. They are spectacular and El Capitan and Half Dome are etched into the back.

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite Half

Once we got back to the hotel we enjoyed what we had decided was a mandatory jacuzzi session before stuffing ourselves with Mexican food and heading into Yosemite National Park to see the views the park is famous for.

Tunnel Vista Point
Tunnel Vista Point

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite

Mama and Randy <3
Mama and Randy <3

Garden Variety Runner // Yosemite

Have you ever been to Yosemite?

Has anyone done a different Vacation Races race at another park?

Sunday Fun in Los Alamos

Sorry for the delay on this post, I was originally hoping to write it on Monday, but after a weekend away, work had really piled up over the last few days! After a couple of days of long hours, I finally feel like I’m getting caught up and wanted to take a moment to fill you in on the rest of Sunday.

As Adrian and I were driving home from our anniversary trip, I was texting with my mom to let her know we were on our way (they were at our house dog sitting Winston). My mom said she and Randy, my stepdad, were planning on heading over to Bob’s Well Bread Bakery in Los Alamos for brunch and asked if I’d like to join. I was more than willing to take them up on that offer! I had wanted to go to Bob’s ever since we had walked past it to go to Plenty on Bell back in August.

We got back around 9:45am and Adrian got ready to go to work and said his goodbyes. We lounged around for a bit catching up, my parents got ready, and we walked the dogs while Randy had to deal with a work phone call. Then it was off to Bob’s! We got there around 11:30 and it was busy, but still relaxed (side note: I actually find the whole town of Los Alamos incredibly relaxing – my kind of place 🙂). I ordered the Avocado Toast Tartine with an added farm fresh poached egg and a chai tea latte with almond milk.

Avocado Toast Tartine + Chai Tea

It was the perfect brunch and the thick cut bread is what carb lovers like me dream about. We enjoyed an extended brunch in their garden under the oak trees and the perfect brunch was made even better by the company of these two:

My mom and Randy are the cutest! 

After eating we walked around main street and enjoyed poking our heads into all of the adorable shops and restaurants. A highlight was taking a quick look around the 1880 Union Hotel Saloon. It felt like walking back in time (much like the saloons in Virginia City, Nevada, if you’ve ever been!). I look forward to going back and enjoying a cocktail there sometime in the future! Los Alamos is only 15 minutes from our home, but I love how going there feels like a mini-vacation in itself.

Once we’d walked up one side of main street and back down the other, we headed back to Los Olivos so my parents could get on the road before Sunday traffic starts backing up. The rest of my Sunday was spent catching up on laundry, writing Sunday’s blog post, and getting mentally ready for a busy, but short, work week ahead since I’m taking off Friday to head up to Yosemite for the Yosemite Half Marathon this weekend!

Are you on the avocado toast bandwagon? I’ve been on it for a fews years and I don’t see myself getting off anytime soon 😉


4 Year Anniversary Trip to Hearst Castle

Happy Sunday, all! We just got back from a quick trip to San Simeon for the weekend to celebrate our four year anniversary (I still have no clue how it has been 4 years since we got married, what?!). Adrian and I wanted to go somewhere close so that we could save money and get home before Adrian had to go into work on Sunday, so when I found out he had never been to Hearst Castle a few months ago, it seemed like the perfect fit!

We left town on Friday after work (for me that is – Adrian has Fridays off). **Quick tangent: big thanks to my parents for watching our dog, Winston, while we were gone and to Adrian for cleaning up the house before they arrived!** Anyways, we didn’t actually hit the road until about 5 and we knew the chances of finding vegetarian food in a small town like San Simeon were slim to none, so we stopped for dinner in Morro Bay. We ended up finding a Thai food place – Thai is our favorite – on Yelp. We started with fresh rolls, Adrian had the Drunken Noodles (they were so, so good I definitely had food envy), and I had the Pumpkin Curry with tofu.

Pumpkin Tofu Curry - I ate about half of it before remembering to snap a pic - oops!
Pumpkin Tofu Curry – I ate about half of it before remembering to snap a pic – oops!
We didn’t get to the hotel until after 8 and we were both tired from the work week, so we got in our PJs and cuddled up to watch a movie on TV. Our room got HBO, so we ended up watching Trainwreck before bed and falling asleep by 10:30.  I’d seen the movie before with my dad, but Adrian hadn’t – he’s not a huge Amy Schumer fan, but even he admitted it was a pretty good movie.

Also, for those who are interested, we stayed at The Morgan. It was nothing too fancy, but it definitely had some of the more competitive prices in the area and it was less than 10 minutes away from Hearst Castle. We were also lucky enough to get an ocean-facing room, but we were in the kind of odd second building. The only bummer was that the hotel only has a pool and no jacuzzi and it was definitely too cold this weekend to find a pool appealing. I also found it super strange they didn’t provide a blow dryer – don’t mind my air-dried hair in the following pics!

Saturday morning we were both awake by 7:30 and we decided to go on a short run on the beach. The beach was only about a half mile long, so we ran it 3 times before getting a little bored and calling it quits. It was a perfect way to start the day with a little exercise. I’m pretty excited that I’ve been able to get Adrian to run with me lately since we’re both signed up for the Yosemite Half Marathon next weekend (can’t wait – even though I’m not in great shape I love love love Yosemite!). Afterwards we headed back to shower and get ready for the day. We had breakfast at Big Sur Restaurant (not horrible, but I also wouldn’t recommend it) and then headed over to Hearst Castle.

We got to Hearst Castle around 10:20am and when we checked in the attendant asked if we wanted to move our 11:30 reservation up to 11:20 and also let us know that would give us just enough time to catch the movie, “Hearst Castle – Building the Dream,” in the theater at 10:30 before starting the tour. I kept gushing about what perfect timing we had for everything and Adrian laughed at me for getting so darn excited over such little details – it’s the little things, right?!

Of course, Hearst Castle was beautiful to take in and I loved hearing the history again. We did the hour long Grand Rooms tour and then enjoyed exploring outside for a while after the tour was over. And a head’s up for anyone visiting in the next year – Neptune’s Pool is currently under construction, so it’s not much to see right now.

Getting of the shuttle bus.
Getting of the shuttle bus.
The main entrance to "La Casa Grande"
The main entrance to “La Casa Grande.”
Overlooking the San Simeon Bay.
Overlooking San Simeon Bay.
I look awkward standing alone, but I just love the architecture of the guest houses and the vibrant bougainvilleas.
I look awkward standing alone, but I just love the architecture of the guest houses and the vibrant bougainvilleas.
Down in the gardens by Neptune's Pool.
Down in the gardens by Neptune’s Pool.
The indoor pool - my favorite.
The indoor pool – my favorite.
After leaving Hearst Castle, we set out to check out the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and see the elephant seals. The lighthouse was closed – womp, womp – not a big deal since it was a totally in the moment decision to check it out. Thankfully, the elephant seals were all out in their full glory sunbathing on the beach. There must have been over a hundred of them and we kept laughing at how funny they looked using their flippers to throw sand over their backs and at the sounds they were making…it was kind of a snort and a bark combined.

A beach full of elephant seals and two of them duking it out in the waves!
A beach full of elephant seals and two of them duking it out in the waves.
We headed back to the hotel for a quick outfit change and then headed 6 miles south to Cambria for a late lunch around 2pm. We both wanted sandwiches and Sandy’s ended up being the perfect spot. We both got the “Mother Nature” sandwich and said it reminded us almost exactly of the amazing sandwiches we got at High St. Deli in SLO by the same name.

Bad lighting, but amazing sandwich!
Bad lighting, but amazing sandwich!
We enjoyed our sandwiches out in the sun on the patio and then walked and drove around Cambria – the main tourist area is split into two and you have to drive a little down the street before finding the second half of it. The city is mostly filled with restaurants, art galleries, and antiques. We stopped into a really cool new looking grocery store called Thrive and also checked out a small artisan foods shop before heading back to our hotel for a couple of hours.

We relaxed and I fell asleep for a short nap before deciding to head back into Cambria for dinner. We had a couple ideas of places to go from Yelp, but ended up going somewhere completely different once we saw everyone flocking to Linn’s Restaurant. There was a 30 minute wait since we didn’t have reservations, but the hostess was extremely friendly and suggested heading to the saloon across the street to have a drink while we waited and even offered to come across the street and find us if a table opened up before we came back! The saloon was funky and seemed to be a place where locals and not just tourist hang out. Adrian said his cocktail was great and, while I didn’t have a drink, I can vouch for their free popcorn being a winner.

By the time we sat down to dinner it was almost 8:30, so we were thankful for the quick and kind service we got at Linn’s. They are known for their Olallieberry pie and also serve Olallieberry preserves with their bread to start and it was divine. I had the Roasted Vegetable Polenta and Adrian had their vegetarian pot pie and we were both really happy with what we ordered. We were way too stuffed to order dessert even though they looked so good in the display case, so I finished my meal with their decaf Olallieberry black tea and it was a perfect way to end the meal. After dinner it was almost 10, so we headed back to the hotel and watched a little TV before falling asleep.

Sunday morning we got up at 7 since Adrian had to be back at work by 11.  We packed up our bags, checked out, and grabbed bagels from the hotel’s continental breakfast. One last stop before heading home – to take pictures with all the scarecrows! The cities of San Simeon and Cambria have a scarecrow festival during October and have handmade scarecrows in front of every business in the area. Some are funny, others are creepy, some are just strange, but we’d been seeing them all weekend and had to take some pictures before leaving.

Trying to mimic the pumpkin's face...success?
Trying to mimic the pumpkin’s face…success?
We had a little too much fun…

Garden Variety Runner

Then we hit the road and got home by 9:45. Perfect timing for Adrian to change and head into work. Since my parents were still here, the three of us got to head out on a little adventure, but I’ll share that tomorrow since this post is already getting way too long!

Have a start to your week tomorrow and happy October!

Have you ever been to Hearst Castle?

Does your city have any Halloween/fall traditions? I just found out our valley has a scarecrow festival too that starts next week!