Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vegas - Part I

It's been awhile since I've gone away on a trip that hasn't involved running. I normally schedule my vacations around my races...twofers! But last Friday I woke up at the crack of dawn to make the drive to Vegas...just to relax!

We headed straight to this famous (Man v. Food) breakfast joint.

With portions so large, you definitely should come wearing baggy pants. I will write a more in depth review at a later time.

We made it a point to stop by the gardens at Bellagio where they have decked the place with Chinese New Year decor since that is coming up early February. Those garden decorations changes with the holidays.

I love lanterns!

Clay warriors display...

These are just lovely!

Ancient Chinese coins...these were large!

I needed some gambling money...

Oops, can't take me anywhere!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Are We Still Living In The Dark Ages?

I had all the intentions of writing a recap of my weekend in Vegas but something is bothering me and I need to shed some light on it. Racism.

It deeply saddens me that there are so many ignorant, hypocritical and closed-minded individuals out there. I can only assume these people behave this way because they are either bullies and/or compensating for some sort of lacking in their lives.

On top of being sad, I am also angry. I know I should not let these sort of things bother me because in doing so I am giving power to the abusers. It frightens me that I cannot even go on a trip outside of my town without being belittled.

Currently, there is an ugly race debate on my hometown's Facebook page. It's ironic because certain members of the the Hispanic community is making blatant racist comments about the Asian community. I mean, really? I'm not a political person so I can't effectively speak against this but aren't there certain parts of the US where they are on the receiving end of prejudice.

And then the other day, my family and I decided to have breakfast at a popular local restaurant in Las Vegas when we were so fortunate to be seated next to a table full of drunken racism morons. They were making disgusting comments about the waitress and each other. I'm sure their moms must be so proud. They saw me take a photo of my food (for the blog) and made some comment that contained the word "gook". Really...because no one but Asians take lots of photos everywhere they go, right? I can't think of a better way to start my morning than with a glass of orange juice and some racism remark.

I don't have anything else nice to say so I'm going to stop here!

Next of Kindle

I've never been a big reader. I only read in school because it was required. On a few occasions, I did manage to go out of my way to go and seek out a book to read. Those instances were few and far between. It's not that I do not like to read because I do. When I get engrossed in a book, it is hard to get me to put it down. I've read 600+ page books in a matter of days. That hasn't happened in many years. These days, I mostly read magazines, newspapers and articles on the internet. The last book I read was John Steinbeck's East of Eden. And to be honest, I only picked up that book because it was one of Oprah's book of the month and I like the way John Steinbeck writes.

I think it is time for me to pick up a book and read. But not in the literal sense, because now there is something that will allow me to buy books easily and will be thin enough for me to stick into my purse and take with me wherever I go.

And look what came in the morning mail...

It got here faster than I had thought.

I was so excited!

I introduce you to my new Kindle...

Of course I got the purple protector! :)

Who knows why I haven't read much lately. Maybe it was the chore of having to go to the book store or my impatience that kept me from ordering a book online. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter now. Time to turn the proverbial new page.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This is Better than That

I've been eating a lot of snacks lately. Mostly because I find that I get to eat more different kinds of food if I eat them in snack portions. I've been trying out different products which I would like to talk about in this post.

I purchased this almond butter from the Blue Diamond almond company. For a company that specializes in almonds, this didn't rock my world. The color is darker than other almond butters I've had before. Plus, for being a creamy butter, it wasn't all that creamy. More like gritty-looking. I don't think I am going to buy anymore after I finish this jar. I have to admit that I purchased this because I was too cheap.

Too cheap to buy this brand. No kidding, this is my favorite almond butter but it is expensive. As in, I would have to get a second job if I develop a habit. Luckily, I'm not really an almond butter fan but if I were, this one would be the one I would want to be buried with.

Moving on...I got a sample of this Everlast bar in PB Chocolate Crunch at my last race. I don't know how I feel about a bar made by the same company that makes workout wear.

Looks yummy doesn't it? It wasn't! I should have known! I didn't like it very much. It was really ordinary and had a little bit of a bitter after-taste. 

This Iced Gingerbread Clif Bar was a part of my birthday gift from Sister J this past year. It is a very sweet and moist bar. You can literally see the "moist-ness" of this bar when you unwrap it. It glistened. Sorry, I was hungry and forgot to snap a photo of the inside. I think I still like the Cherry Almond one best.

Ok, I'm done ragging on food for now. I'm heading to Las Vegas this weekend, so hopefully I will get to eat some real food. I'll be back in a few days with a fun Sin City post. Off to pack I go. Ciao!

Another Shot at Bikram

I went to Bikram last night. I've only been there one other time about two years ago. After that initial class I didn't feel like going back. It was hot and smelly and frankly I have about a million excuses of why I had not gone back.

But just like the fading of marathon day soreness, I've since forgotten everything about my initial experience. So I am going back to give it another chance.

Post Bikram session 1 comment: Well I did it. I made it to the Bikram studio and finished the session. I am sore today. They installed new carpet in the room so it smelled a lot better. The instructor didn't pick on my lack of experience at all this time around. Overall, I had a better experience than last time. It is actually quite nice to be in that hot room when the weather is cold outside. I purchased a Groupon deal a while back for 10 classes, so I have 9 more classes to go. I want to dedicate myself to using up all 9 sessions before I make up my mind about liking or not liking Bikram. I consider myself an active person but this type of yoga is not easy. Some of the poses are difficult to do and always reminds me of how little I spend stretching on a daily basis. Pose four looks innocent enough but is quite difficult to maintain for any period of time. Especially when you are sweaty and your skin becomes slippery. My breathing is also sub-par but I love the deep stretching that I get out of this type of yoga. Going back next week.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Doggy Birthday Fun

My pup celebrated his 4th birthday yesterday. He was nice enough to invite me to the party.

I'm singing the birthday song to him here. I must have been singing on-key else his head would be tilted to one side.

What is this? A pupcake? Thank you Auntie J for this most delicious treat! 

He was really diggin' the carob sprinkles. Well, that's it for now. Someone needs some privacy so that he can stuff his face. Of course he didn't share any with me. Typical Yorkie behavior.

Teavana - The High Price of Being a Snobby Tea Drinker

I recently developed a terrible new obsession. No, not to shoes, drugs, or even to that pasty guy in that vampire movie with the diamond skin, but to high-end teas. I've always loved tea but this is an entirely different story.

It all started innocently enough. I was walking around the mall one day and as I walked pass this one store, the air around me was suddenly scented with the aroma of sweet exotic fruit. I looked up at the store name...Teavana. Sounds like Nirvana. Sure I want some of that. I was intrigued! So I walked in and got the second worse case of sticker shock in my life, only second to this other time.

As you enter the store, there are shelves against the wall on both sides of the space. The shelves are filled with delicate tea sets, tumblers, high tech tea making devices, thermos, mugs and teas pots for making different teas. There are heavy duty flat pots for brewing Japaneses teas and regular individual circular shaped pots for other teas. I don't yet know all the aspects of teas and pots so I cannot go into more detail. What you probably won't find in here are teas in bags. Probably a sin around these parts. What you will find at the back of the store behind the counter/register area are large aluminum tins filled with exotic teas stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling with the names of the teas display on a white label on the front. Inside these tins are endless scents and flavors of teas from all around the world. Some you probably have never heard of or probably didn't know existed.

It was here that my tea obsession started. First, they tempt you with small sample cups of their best sellers. Either iced Youthberry or some aromatic Oolong. These teas smell and taste like nothing a teabag can ever be. Then, they invite you inside where they invite you to smell the teas but really once you've tasted the tea, it's pretty hard to just walk away. I managed to walk away a few times before I finally purchased my first tin of one of their best sellers, Youthberry. A fruity white tea blend of acai berries, white tea leaves, mixed with an orange flavored component. My sister describes it as a "warm hug" and it truly is a little piece of heaven in a cup.

This is how it all began...

There are dried apple and orange pieces in there. 

This is the color of the tea that the Youthberry blend produces. There is a timer in this photo because it is really important not to under or over brew your tea else you will end up with bland or bitter tea.

They also sell this German rock sugar there which they tell me is only 25 calories for a teaspoon.

But frankly I prefer to take my tea sweetened with a bit of this stuff.... 

And for Christmas, one of sisters got me this Trudeau tumbler which makes brewing and sipping loose leaf teas on the go a breeze!

Then because I'm such a smooth operator in the kitchen and broke a glass mug in the microwave heating up water and kept burning myself with boiling water, my sweetie got me this Hamilton Beach 10-cup electric kettle. It can boil a lot of water pretty quickly. I still managed to splash hot water on myself with this thing. When you press that button on the top of the handle, it kind of just pops the lid open and the condensation on the lid will get you if you are not careful. Don't be like me.

In conclusion, I'm officially obsessed!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Birthday Wishes

Today is a very special day to me, as it is not only my mommy's birthday but it is also Teddy's birthday! Teddy turns 4 (28 in human years - he's maturing nicely!) and my mom, well she's just timeless and amazing at any age. We actually celebrated my mom's birthday this past weekend.

My camera is not the best but this cake was a pretty lavender color. It was a Taro cake. Ever had taro cake? It has a nice rich flavor. A little too rich maybe for cake but I love taro so for me this was a good cake.

I got her these lovely flowers. Her favorite color is purple, as is mine. The other sisters got her presents as well but I must have been asleep at the camera because I don't have any photos of that.

 The whole family took her out to dinner at one of her favorite restaurant...

 ...where this lobster noodle dish was the star of the dinner show.

Teddy's First Birthday (circa 2008) - he was too distracted to let me put the pointy birthday hat on...

...but I am tricky...so he ended up wearing it. Someone was not likin' it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse is one of those places that I only go to because either someone else brought up the idea or I'm meeting a group of people there. Don't get me wrong, they have some delicious food but it is all pretty much not very healthy. I'm not the healthiest eater but it is hard to eat healthy here even if I wanted to. I try not to visit this restaurant frequently because it is hard not to give in to all the wonderful smells of pizzas and pizookies! It is essentially a losing battle...for your waistline, not for your taste-buds. Your taste-buds will thank you!

What I have resorted to doing when I do come here is to either order a couple of small  appetizers or a turkey sandwich with everything on the side. Somehow they have a way of making even what seems healthy into something not so much. For example, if you want the bread on your turkey sandwich to be toasted plain, you have to say so...otherwise it will come to you "buttered" and toasted. I tried to order a salad once but the salads are so loaded with cheese, bacon and/or meat that I might as well just order a burger. One time, I actually ask them to make me a romaine salad w/ just avocado and some vinaigrette. I should have just ordered a sandwich. :s

Aside from the food, BJ's is also a brewhouse, so they have tons of beers for you to choose from. I don't drink very often but I know they have beer flights you can sample if you are not sure what you want to order. There are also lots of TVs on the wall at this place. Some big, some small but they all have sports on them. If that is not your thing, don't come here. Also, please note that the wait time is ridiculous (around 45 minutes to 1 hour) around lunch and dinner time, especially on Fri-Sun. I believe you can make a reservation, I would advise that if you plan to come here on a weekend evening. This place is also very crowded during major games or UFC nights.

Chicken Pot Stickers w/ a soy ginger dipping sauce.

Mini Tacos (Barbacoa beef) on corn tortillas.

Half and Half Pizookie (Chocolate Chunk and White Chocolate Macadamia nut).

...with Vanilla Ice Cream on the side.

I normally have the Classic Turkey Sandwich on multi-grain bread. I order this "dry" (with mayo or spread on the side so that I can control how much I put on my sandwich) and remove the cheese. The sandwich is tasty. I love the bread.

Roasted Turkey Cobb Sandwich w/ seasoned wedge fries.

BJ's Favorite Pizza (Deep Dish).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Running Team Relay Race Tips

After watching the Hood to Coast movie earlier in the week, it got me thinking about the Ragnar Relay that I ran. Which got me thinking about all the packing and prep work that goes into doing one of these events. These are just some of my personal suggestions. If you have already done one of these events, this post is probably old news. These are just things that I had not even consider before I did one of these events. So maybe it will help someone out.

1) Forming a team: Want to do this event but don't already have a team? Ask around and talk about this with people you like. Why, only ask people you like? Because you don't want to end up in a van for 36 hours with someone you don't like. You never know who may be interested in doing this. School friends, coworkers, blog friends, runner and non-runner friends, social groups you are a part of, etc... Trust me, I've seen teams made-up of the strangest bunch of people you will ever meet.

2) Costume and theme: Really good to establish these 2 things. It will become your identity. When you are a 12-person team, it is hard for other teams to get to know each member of a team individually. So having a team identity is high priority. Pick something clever or funny. Example...I saw a teams with names like Rucking Funners or the all popular WTF (Where's the Finish?).

3) Van decoration: This is important, make sure you decorate your van. Decorating your van to match your theme and costumes is a plus! You will look like a totally lame team if you don't decorate your van. Everyone will mistaken your ride for a delivery van or kidnapping van.

4) Van (your home away from home): it is probably in your best interest to rent a large van. Sure you can use your friend's Explorer or a minivan but based on my experience, renting a 15 passenger van is the way to go. Trust me, you want to have a lot of room to relax in and not be pressed up against your sweaty friend who just came in from running their leg.

5) Showers: this one is purely optional but will make this race a lot more enjoyable. What you want to do, depending on which van you are in is to rent a cheap motel or hotel room along the route during your van break just after everyone in your van is done with their second leg. Even though you and your van mates will likely not get to sleep much in the room, it is still nice for everyone to be able to take a shower. Doing this will make the final leg of the race SO much more tolerable. Not going to lie, the third leg is not pleasant. You are tired and hungry, the last thing you want to be is stinky, chafing or have swamp privates. You definitely don't want that last thing.

6) Misc Items: Bring cowbells/vuvuzelas/pompoms (to cheer your runners on from the van or sidelines), sidewalk chalk and sharpies, gallon size Ziplock bags and heavy duty trash bags. Towels, bring a couple to sit on and wrap around yourself after your leg(s).

That's about all I can think of right now. I was kinda reaching on that last item. The first 5 are important, the last one is if you have space on the van. Except for the trash bags and towels. Those are important.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Farmers Market kinda day

So instead of getting my long run in this morning like a good little runner...

Instead, I still got up bright and early and headed to the Farmers Market...

Citrus and apple season in full swing.

Some lovely leafy greens.

Of course I stopped by here.

More walking around...

That large bear came home with me. Should last me for one week...hehehe.

And if that wasn't enough shopping, I also made a stop here to pick up some stuff to make breakfast.

I picked up these beautiful tuberose...they smell amazing!

This probably looks like a chocolate chip cookie from afar but it is actually blueberry pancakes being made. I love a lot of blueberries in my pancakes.

Red velvet bundt cake from the rum-cake stall. Yummy!

Modeling the cute apron that Sister K got for me for my birthday last year. That tells you how much I cook. :D

My blogging companion.

Hope you are having a wonderful Saturday. We are having some terrific weather today in the OC. I'm going to go and take advantage of it now. Ciao!