Weekend in Pennsylvania + Whole Foods Salad Bar Hack

Another weekend in the books! I found out late last week I still couldn’t move into my apartment (that was supposed to be ready 9/1…WTF) so I went to PA to visit a friend because I figured might as well!


Friday:

Friday I had class pretty much all day. Made better by free coffee and a bagel. 


After class, I was hungry and needed a good meal. I didn’t know what I wanted but knew I wanted all of the things. Not having access to a kitchen has been stressful AF these past few weeks. 

Anyways, I hacked the salad bar and posted about it on my Insta stories and a lot of people seemed to like the idea so I’m sharing it again here:

I ate this at Whole Foods and was stuffing my face across the table from a super cute guy drinking kombucha and reading like a civilized human. Lol. What can I say I’m a savage.

After that, I visited my friend Joanna in BK for a few hours, then headed to my friend’s apt where I’ve been staying for a few hours of sleep. 

Saturday:

Saturday I was up bright and early to visit my friend Amanda in Pennsylvania. We took a lot of the same classes at NYU and she’s basically the best. I was so grateful she let me come visit this weekend.


I nommed on a banana while waiting for the bus. I also redeemed a free drink from some online promo thing from DD. 


Naturally, since it said I could select any size, I was super gross and picked the biggest size. #somuchcoffee


I got into Philly around 10:30 and popped my head into Reading Terminal Market. Yum!




My friend graciously picked me up and drove me to her house. 

Once we got there, we headed out to her epic garden to gather some goodies. She’s quite the gardener. #goals


Using some fresh tomatoes and cucs, I made a hummus lunch (with some pb for dessert) and we enjoyed the noms while watched Bravo. #perfection


After that we took her doggos on a quick nearby. It was beautiful! PA reminds me a lot of Wisco.


Back at her place, I showered and fell asleep for a few hours. Holy cow a real bed felt so nice.


Post shower/nap, Amanda picked a butternut squash from her garden and started roasting it to make butternut squash black bean burgers. 


She also made a farro salad with fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, artichoke heart, oil, vinegar, and salt & pepper. Yum!



A movie was next on the agenda. I fell asleep during it on the couch, then went up to bed around 12 and went straight back to sleep.

Sunday:

Sunday I slept til 8 which is super late from me but I think my body really needed the sleep. Breakfast with cinnamon apple oatmeal with almond butter. 


We decided to go apple picking at a nearby orchard next, which was fun. 


Applesss!!!


Lunch was delicious leftovers with a side of more Bravo.


Now I’m on the mega bus back into the city. Womp womp. Wondering if I can ever move into my apt…at this point I’m so frustrated I can hardly stand it. 


Bleh. New York is kinda the worst tbh. I was really apprehensive to move back here and after a lovely weekend in PA  am kinda like…what am I doing?

Anyways, I’m going to finish some readings for tm but thanks for stopping by! What’d you do this weekend? Comment below I love to hear from you!

San Fran Recap

Hello! If you follow me on Insta or know me IRL, you probably know I visited San Fran last week Friday – this week Wednesday. It was my first time there so it was quite the adventure. I thought I’d recap it on the blog since I love reading travel recaps. So here we go!     IMG_6556

Friday:

Friday I left work, went home, grabbed my stuff, and headed straight to the Milwaukee Airport for my 3:20pm flight to SFO! Travel snacks included apples, Trader Joe’s Just Beets beet chips (SO GOOD), a mix of almonds + cashews, a Larry’s and Lenny’s cookie, and Kashi Peanut Butter Chocolate bars (a new #vegan flavor)!

All were packed in my Stasher bags, which are my latest obsession. If you’re trying to reduce your plastic consumption, I highly reccomend them. They’re also silicone, so you can dishowasher them, and microwave food in them! #smartstuff #notsponsored #justafan

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Friday night I got in around 6:40pm local time and took an Uber into SF. Traffic was poopy so it took a solid 2 hours. Once I was in town, I met two of my good college friends for dinner at a place called Souvla. The place had super cute vibes and we sat outside in a garden area with Christmas lights and heating vents. I had heard SF gets cool at night, and I gotta say, that is true!

We all got giant salads. I’m not sure why so many of my photos from this trip are so blurry. I think I was often hangry and I also need a new phone.IMG_6516

I got one with Japanese sweet potatoes (my FAV!), olives, walnuts, pickled red onions, pea shoots, and subbed the garlic yogurt sauce for olive oil + lemon juice and asked for no cheese.On the side, we shared some Greek fries (that had olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, etc).IMG_6514

Nom! It was a good time catching up and enjoying some food (it was almost 10:30pm my time by that point, so I was starving). It was probably one of my fav meals of the trip! Kinda wish I had gone back and got a sandwich, but maybe next time!

After that, I headed back to my friend’s place for the night (HUGE thank you to my friend Cassie for letting me stay at your place!). We just kinda crashed and watched RHONY <3.

Saturday:

Saturday morning started out with a trip to the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building. It was awesome! IMG_6553

We waited in line for about 30 minutes for Blue Bottle, but once we got (yummy yummy) coffee we were ready to explore:

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Yummy fresh produce and cute little baby gherkin cucumbers that looked like mini watermelons!

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#ViewsOnFleek

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Also at the farmer’s market tried fresh soy milk from this really cute homemade tofu stand. It was…much different than the kind you buy in the store lol.

After that we walked around inside and eventually headed over to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked across it! It was windy and a bit cold but pretty cool. We literally walked through clouds.

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Peaking sun at the top!

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Look! My wrinkles aren’t that noticeable here. lol #oldpeopleproblems

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Due to our inability to hail an Uber/Lyft on the other side, we walked back across, and then took an Uber to Blue Barn for a super late (like 5:30pm) lunch.

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I had a salad and some booch. It was okay but overpriced IMO. I think I misordered. I will say though the veggies were SO FRESH and the dressing was excellent.

I’m just not that into quinoa in salads? Not my thing. Wish I had noticed the build-your-own option before ordering! Wanted tofu!! Would have probably been way more satified if I’d noticed adding it was an option before paying. The tiny wedge of rosemary bread was delish though; wish I had 20 of them. Oh well!

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After that we went back to my friend’s place and chilled for a bit. At some point we ended up going to Oakland to go to some Japanese Fried Chicken Place and check out some bars. My bocce ball game was fuego, apparently (I think because I was the least only one not intoxicated?)

I didn’t take any pics because idk why. Anyways, it was a good time and I stayed out much later than usual!

Sunday:

Sunday I got up super late for me! Like 9am or something…granted it was 7am central time but still. After we got coffee at a cute place by my friend’s apartment, we strolled about and headed to brunch.

We stumbled upon a place called Jane, and shared avocado toast with pickled jalapeños (which I’d never had on avo toast before and it was super yum) and shallots, and a poached egg (which I let her enjoy), a super yummy seed bread with almond butter and house-made jam.

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We also shared a very refreshing a ‘detox’ smoothie bowl. Lol @ the use of word detox. P sure my liver and kidneys get rid of the toxins in my body, but ya know, #marketing.

I also liked how this cafe had a ‘Breakfast Salad’ on their menu. Such a cute, good idea. Because no rules say when you eat certain foods. #nofoodrules 🙂

Then my friend indulged my desire to be touristy and we went to Alamo Square so I could take photos of the Painted Ladies, aka the Full House houses. Cool shit, man.

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After that, I met another friend (originally from MKE) in Delores park. He was kind enough to show me around the Mission District (where I saw two men naked minus weiner covers).

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We popped into some various odd stores (like ones with bones and taxiderme’d (I googled past tense of ‘taxidermy’…and couldn’t find a definite answer lol) animals and adorable coffee shops and famous local chocolate and Mexican places.

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And saw some cool street art.

At one point, I wanted a snack, so we got some Sourdough bread at a bakery. I can’t recall the name which is a bummer, but it was yummmy. I got a big roll that was whole wheat sourdough + walnuts. I should have gotten 6. Give me bread all day long. I also ate an apple I found in my bag (lol).

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We also stopped at a bar, before I took an Uber to Trader Joe’s by my friend’s apartment around 7. I grabbed some veggies (since we were planning on dinner at her place that night) and, of course, former TJ’s employee that I am, a local bag.img_7233

At least at the Trader Joe’s I used to work at, it was a thing to collect bags from all over. I have Wisco, Colorado, Chicago, Arizona, and now San Fran, and am always eager to add to my collection. :).

I also got chocolate (for personal needs), some bananas (DUH), and an additional bag of beet chips. And one for my dear friend who was so kind to let me stay with her:).

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My friend sautéed some veggies in coconut aminos + oil and some other stuff and we made salad bowls. I also ate more bread and half an avocado. And chocolate. Because chocolate.

Before bed, I enjoyed a white grapefruit I purchased at the Farmer’s Market the Day before. #SOFRESH. Have you ever had white grapefruit before? I had never!

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Then, it was Housewives (Orange County this time) + bed time.

Monday:

On Monday I had planned to attempt to get day-of tickets to Al Catraz, but ended up switching plans per recommendation of my friend Shawn who suggested I venture to Muir Woods National Monument.IMG_6659

I went with Shawn’s rec, and after a clusterfuck with my debit card not working and the bus route being messed up due to construction, I got in an Uber and headed on my way.

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I had put my Uber destination as a shuttle station for one of the shuttle buses that goes to Muir Woods, but after conversing with my Uber pool mates, realized that they were going to Muir Woods! Their final destination was Muir Woods, and they were in a hurry, so I asked the driver if I could just go to Muir Woods since he was headed there anyway and the Uber Pool mates didn’t want to waste the time dropping me off. He agreed! And didn’t even charge me extra. #win

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My Uber Pool mates also happened to be public health professors at a university (can’t remember which one exactly) in Austin, TX! How neat! I told them they were my #goals.

I got to Muir Woods around 11.

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There was no cell service/wifi which was pretty refreshing. I spent about an hour and a half walking around the grounds and scoping things out.

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Around 12:30, I headed back to the Visitor’s Center for some fuel. I ate a banana, an apple, a bagel with peanut butter, some random vegan ‘protein cookie’ thing (which I ate as a cookie, not as a protein supplement/meal replacer) and full bag of beet chips (lol). I packed food in anticipation of not having access to any, unaware that there’s an awesome looking organic cafe with vegan options at the visitors center…oh well…maybe next time? I guess I prob saved some $$, so at least there’s that.

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Then, I went on a longer hike way up into the tops of the mountains (? not sure these are actual mountains…but I hiked all the way up the steepness into the clouds).

Here’s me at the top (yes I asked a nice family to take my photo LIKE A SUPERFICIAL DORK.

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Muir Woods was SO lovely. Just look at the trees! The redwoods were ginormous. It was really refreshing to have a day to myself and disconnect.

Around 3 I decided I was pooped from walking up hill for over an hour and then downhill for an hour (after an hour + of walking flat surface pre-lunch) so I decided to catch the 3:15 shuttle to Sausalito.

I waited for the shuttle. 3:15 came. No bus. Not to complain or anything, but it was chilly. I was hangry. People were all grumpy and confused and wifi-less. Around 4:00pm, a bus rolled up and the driver told us that due to construction and a bus issue, they were short on busses and running behind.

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He then let on about 20 people (I was not one of them) and assured us another bus would come soon.

Around 4:30, another bus came. And the bus driver got off. And then he said it was time for his break….and to the displeasure of all of us waiting…proceeded to go pee and dissapeared for a while. Hey, everyone is entitled to a potty break….but I think the crowd was hangry, cold, and tired, and was quick to express displeasure lol.

I DID get on this bus when it came back tho. And eventually got to Sausalito around 5:15. I was debating taking an Uber back to SF since I was cold and exhausted, but then someone offered me a Ferry Ticket for $5 (regular price is $12) so I took it.

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The Ferry was….bumpy lol. The waves were a bit intense. But it was a nice experience.

The Ferry brought us to Pier 39. I walked back to my friend’s place. Along the way, I stumbled into Ghiradelli Square. I popped my head in to pee in their bathroom (lol) and as I walked in someone handed me free chocolate! I was super hangry so it was perfect. I didn’t take many pics there because I was so focused on peeing and eating and leaving.

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Near my friend’s hood, I grabbed a venti coconut milk chai from Starbucks while I waited for her to return. Then, she went to a kickball thing, and I just chilled. I also went out and grabbed some food at a nearby store (I just got a bunch of random things – multiple rolls, an almond butter packet, some potato thing (lol was def feeling carbs), and a salad. I ate that + a cookie and some chocolate.  And fell asleep at some point because I was pooped. Yay sleep!

Tuesday:

Tuesday was probably my fav day of the trip. I woke up and ate a banana with pb and then  took myself on a long walk to the famous Tartine Bakery. It was about a 50 minute walk from my friend’s place, but I had the time, and it was nice to see the city.

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I ordered the orange tea cake, which was the only vegan option. I really only wanted sourdough bread, but they said I’d have to buy a loaf….lame. The tea cake was pretty good, but not phenomenal for the $5 price tag. My friend said I couldn’t judge them since I ordered something vegan and that’s my own fault. It just wasn’t special. It was good, but only good (wouldn’t go back for it). It also wasn’t labeled vegan; I asked if there were any vegan options and that was it. So you could order it and not know it’s vegan.

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In my opinion, if a bakery is talented, or a chef is, they should be adaptable. I would have been happier if I just had my damn bread (was craving it), so I think my mood was already a bit skewed. What do you think?

Anyways, after that I got myself over to a train station and took the Cal Train for about an hour to Menlo Park to visit my friend who works at Facebook HQ! Lol yes, their address is really 1 Hacker Ave!

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Visiting Facebook was seriously awesome; thanks so much to my friend Travis for letting me visit!

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For lunch we hit up a food court type place (they have like 9 restaurants…it’s like an all-inclusive resort). I got a bunch of vegan kale ceaser (which was NOM), and some kelp noodles with pesto, a black rice salad, some bean dish, a curried cauliflower rice stuffed tomato, and tried famous Dutch crunch bread that was totally meant for a salad…but I just ate as a side 😀 (what can I say I love carbs lol).

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Then we ventured over to the Sweets Shop (yes, a whole resto for sweets) and I got a vegan vanilla froyo with chocolate covered hazelnuts, carob nibs, strawberries, and other random stuff. YUM. Oddly, this was the only frozen dessert I consumed in SF…not sure if it was just me…but I found the vegan dessert options lacking in the area?

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I couldn’t take pics inside, but we also went in some buildings. Holy cow they have amazing snack options. And beverage options.. Like, if I worked there I’d never not be consuming something. That’s all I will say lol.

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We also stopped at the Facebook gift shop and I got a super comfy eco-friendly Instagram shirt. #fashun. And some cool iconic Facebook Thumbs Up magnets.

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After that we took a bus to Insta HQ. And obvi I took some pics in these things lol.

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Then, my friend drove us back to SF. He worked out, while I charged my phone and answered some emails at Starbucks. At Starbucks I ordered a decaf iced Americano which was DEFIANTLY not decaf and I felt insane halfway through and asked if they made it wrong. They did. Blehh. Over-caffinated yuckies.

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Afterwords, we headed to dinner at Shizen, a vegan sushi place. It was supah cute inside!

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We got spicy soy shishito peppers, ginger miso ramen (my first time trying ramen!), a beet salad, and 3 sushi rolls (can’t remember which ones). My photos are blurry because by the time we ate it was like 9:00pm and I was HANG.GREE.

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OH! Also the best thing we ordered were these yummy sweet potato dumplings which were basically giant sweet potato tots. I could have eaten those all day errday.

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The food was yummy! A bit expensive tho IMO. I feel like SF is significantly more expensive for eating out than NYC…?

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Also, I feel meh about ramen, probably because I just don’t like broth with noodles in general (give me veggie soup or pasta…but broth with noodles? never been my thing). Maybe I should give it another go elsewhere, like a Ramen shop 🙂

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After food, it was late, and bed was on the agenda. I was going to go to Denver after SF, but last minute opted to go home instead (needed some me time/missed my baby), so I rescheduled my Denver trip for later this month (holy cow it’s August?!?!?! WTF), and went home to my baby. #NoRegrets.

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Overall, a good trip. Learned a lot and saw a lot. #success. Next time I’d def want to check out some more vegan-focused restaurants (I heard Vegan Burg is super good), but overall I had a good time. 8-). And it was lovely to see my friends!

Announcement: I’m Now On YouTube!

Hey there! Back from a crazy whirlwind 5-week teaching gig that came out of no where and swept me by my feet, followed by a fun-filled 5 day adventure vacation in San Francisco.

I’ve been feeling a bit unmotivated and out of sorts since returning from my trip. This sort of drove me crazy for a few days, but instead of judging my feelings I decided to sit with them, let them pass, and be gentle with myself and allow a few days to get my shit back together.

I’m going to do a little recap on SF on the blog, but I thought I’d have a post to share that I’m now on YouTubeI’m now on YouTube. Check it out here!

I’m new to the ‘Tube but am excited to play around with it. Requests for vids? LMK! Right now it’s super amateur but I’m hoping that with a few weeks of free time before I gear back up for school to just kinda mess around.

Give me your feedback!!

-Kbakes

Long Weekend in Colorado

This weekend I went to visit my sister in Denver, Colorado! She’s doing a dental residency program there so she and her husband moved there last June.

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While I was recovering from my mini toe-surgery I spent a lot of time online looking at flights and ended up booking a roundtrip long weekend for $69 (okay actually each way was $69, but I had points to use so I only paid for one way). So Denver it was!

Thursday:

My flight left at 5:35am on Thursday and I landed in Denver around 6:45am local time. Then I hopped on the light rail and my sister’s husband picked me up from a stop nearby their place. I spent a bit of time showering, settling in, and taking a break to relax and snack with the pups.

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I had a haircut scheduled with the lady who did my hair all of middle/high school at 11:30am so then I went and did that. It took 2 hours. She did a great job. It’s much too short for my taste though, and honestly I don’t really feel like myself and would like it about 2 inches longer. But I guess I just gotta wait it out.

I spent a bit of time walking around, getting coffee, and headed back to my sister’s place around 3:30pm. I ate a late lunch snack thing and rested for a while. My sister came home a little bit later and her husband made us an awesome dinner of homemade veggie burgers, TJ’s sweet potato fries, and salad with chickpeas, quinoa, nuts, and dried cranberries. He’s an awesome cook. He’s a vegetarian, and my sister also eats mostly vegetarian, so meals with them are often plant-based. Nom.

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The veggie burger patties were based on this recipe, and were truly outstanding. Served with avocado, tomato, lettuce, onion, and cucumbers, and some random hummus sauce that tasted nice. Also ketchup + hot sauce + BBQ sauce because we like condiments in our fam.

(Speaking of condiments, this tweet from Ed Sheerean is everything to me):

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Then we went to ice cream at Little Man’s. The experience was fun and filled with laughs. The vegan ice cream tasted okay but the texture was very gummy and unpleasant. Still an awesome time and nice evening.

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Friday:

The next day I drove my sister to work, and then explored the city a bit. I camped out at Denver Central Market for a bit to do some work, then went to Babette’s to get the most amazing bread ever period.

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After that I headed back to her place to make some lunch and shower. For lunch I had the leftover salad with added greens and cashews, and a ton of Babette’s bread. It was perfect. My appetite was a bit lower than usual, probably because it always takes me a little bit to adjust to altitude, so I was craving something not-too-heavy and fresh. This did the trick.

 

I did a bunch of work outside (it was so beautiful) until it started to rain. I came inside and ate more cashews (okay honestly Trader Joe’s organic cashews are somehow the best cashews ever period) and by that time it was almost time to get Jenn from work. I had intended to go shopping this day, but wasn’t in the mood.

We grabbed Jenn from work and brought the dogs, and planned on a walk, but it started to rain (hard) almost the minute we pulled up to the park. We headed back to my sister’s place, and by that time the rain had cleared (lol). But we got ready and headed to dinner.

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For dinner we went to Watercourse Foods, which is an all-vegan place. We ordered the MOST AMAZING cauliflower wings and a huge (much bigger than we anticipated) plate of nachos to start. I was very much infatuated by the wings.

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The nachos were good too, but I’m not a huge nacho person (I eat them and like them, but don’t crave for them, if that makes sense).

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After appetizers, we were basically full (lol) but our food came out anyways. I had ordered a vegan caesar salad with added miso-glazed tofu. I think my appetite was still adjusting cause I just didn’t have the giant appetite I usually do. This was a perfect entree following the apps.

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We were stuffed and passed on dessert (shocking, I know), and headed back to Jenn’s place where we walked the dogs.

Saturday:

Saturday started bright and early. I got up around 4:50am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Jenn got up at 5:30, and we had a breakfast of Babette’s bread with peanut butter and banana.

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Next we hit up yoga at Red Rocks at 7:00am, which was pretty damn awesome. The sun was shining, and the weather was great.

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The walk up to Red Rocks was probably the most strenuous part lol.

 

After that + an hour of yoga we were ready for iced coffee and some chill time.

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Here is the best selfie I took all trip:

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Back to hotel Jackson we went for some down time. Jenn napped, I chilled. We also ate a papaya at some point. I also had a banana + more bread + pb as a snack before we headed out for the park a little after noon.

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We spent a solid amount of time in the park with the dogs. The weather was so nice all weekend so we really soaked it all in.

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After our walk we headed to TJ’s to grab some stuff to make a corn and bean salad for a party later. I got some yummy Healthade Pink Lady Apple Booch + some slaw for the party (which was on demo and SO good) + some chocolate.

 

Look how cute the doggo stuff was!

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Then it was home for a late lunch and some more down time. I had leftover salad + miso glazed tofu (from last night) and more bread. Because bread.

That night, we headed out to one of my sister + Tyler’s friends party. On the way, we stopped for beer at a rando liquor store which just so happened to be next door to Beet Box!

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Beet Box is a vegan bakery I sought out last time I was in town. SUPER yummy all-vegan bakery and cafe. While Tyler was grabbing booze, I grabbed some sweet carby snacks.

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I got us a vanilla coconut doughnut, an apple cinnamon walnut doughnut, and a giant cinnamon roll to share. The vanilla coconut doughnut was a bit sweet for me, but the other two were EXCELLENT. LOVED the cinnamon roll.

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We headed to the party where we hung out for several hours. It was a grill out and the hosts were sweet enough to grill Tyler and I some mushroom caps. I made a sandwich thing with a mushroom cap + a grilled peach + avo + tomato + onion + lettuce + slaw + hummus + had some more slaw + bean salad on the side. Not pictured: veggies + more hummus + chips + more guac. It looks really gross in the following pic:

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I headed back to the Jackson’s in an uber around 10:30 cause I was pooped from my inability to nap during the tow opportunties available to me that day.

Except then I couldn’t really sleep well because the doggos kept barking. I think their neighbors were having a party or something. Anyways, I didn’t get to sleep until around 12:30am. Blah.

Sunday

Sunday I slept in til 7:30am, which is pretty darn late for me. I spent the morning hours outside on their deck reading and drinking coffee in the sun. My sister got up around 9:30am and we got ready for a day of adventures.

First we swung by Denver Central Market to hit up Babette’s for another loaf for me to take home. We also grabbed some coffee from Boxcar. Love that place.

 

We piled into the car and got on the road. St. Mary’s Glacier was on our agenda.

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My sister and her husband took me here in January, but it was SO cold and windy (like 20 degrees and super gusty) and I had Millie in my arms who was so pissed about the whole thing I spent all of my energy clutching her in my arms and carrying her up the glacier gloveless (I had a good grip and she was so swirmy I didn’t wanna bother) that I barely remember much except making sure Millie was okay. I had really thought she would have liked the hike but didn’t realize it was that freezing that day in the mountains. Oh well.

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See? Look how PISSED she looks lol.

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Anyways, it was nice to be able to see the glacier but like actually see and enjoy it.

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We hiked up, took some pics, and felt anxious watching people ski down the glacier. Then we hiked up the glacier a bit more and had a snack break: apples + TJ’s Walnut Fig Date Nut Bar. I LOVE this bar.

 

After some water, views, and snacks, we headed back down to the car and got back on our way. We stopped in Idaho Springs for more water from a gas station and decided to go up to Mount Evans to try to see some mountain goats.

 

Back on the road we went. The road was the highest road in America. I freaked the fuck out and made us stop. Holy cow did that road scare me. And I’m not even afraid of heights. Anyways, we stopped on the road and took in more views and snapped some more pics before I made us turn back around and head home.

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We returned to the Jackson’s around 3:30pm and had some snacks + all of the water + chill time. Altitude takes a lot out of me.

Around 6 we headed to dinner at Vital Root.

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I ordered a grilled beet arugula salad with candied walnuts + their avocado toast.

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Can we talk about this avo toast for a minute? Hands down the BEST I’ve ever had. It had glazed nuts, crispy chickpeas, microgreens, radish strips, and balsamic glaze on top. And it came with a side of this really yummy spicy green stuff.

The sunflower seed bread it was served on was SUPER thick and like tasted French toasted somehow. I don’t know how they did it, but holy cow. This was so.good. I could have eaten 4 of them.

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Post-din din we went on an ice cream adventure. I got black sesame, pb fudge and berry chip from Frozen Matter. Yes, it was excessive. I also added Oreos which I regretted. I should have gotten cocoa nibs but the girl kinda talked me out of those. Boo. Oh well. Still really good, especially the black sesame. It tasted like blue moon.

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I managed to inhale this entire 3 scoop concoction with impressive speed. It was around 8:15 at that point, so back home it was. Jenn and I watched the Simple Life and she did some work while I chilled.

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Monday:

I was super tired Monday and my tummy was a bit off so I chilled in the morning. I went to a nearby coffee shop to get some work done, and then headed back around 2 to pack up. My flight got delayed about 90 times and I ended up being around long enough for dinner.

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We went to Biju’s Little Curry Shop, which is kind of like a Chipotle of Indian Food. It was also randomly on Triple D recently. Anyways, I got a reallllyyyy spicy curry with rice, lentils, cabbage, green beans, potatoes and slaw. And more hot sauce.

Biju’s is some of the only Indian-type food I like. Most curry tastes muddy and greasy to me. This tastes fresh and flavorful and doesn’t make me poop my pants. Score.

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Then we grabbed a quick cider sampler drink and after that I hopped on the lightrail to the airport for what ended up being a super duper late flight back to MKE. I got back around 2:00am, ate some chocolate, brushed my teeth, and went to bed with my Millie (it was SO good to see her little face!!!)

That’s all for this Denver trip. Can’t wait for the next!

What’s your fav place to travel?

that one time i lived in paris.

Exactly a year ago, I was working hard to cross things off my Paris-bucklet list as I savored my last few days in France. I spent six weeks nestled in a story-book-like schoolhouse in the Latin Quarter, commuting to French class 4 days a week at the quant NYU Paris campus through NYU Study abroad.

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goofin off en Paris!

I’m not really even sure where to start with Paris. It was almost surreal and when I reflect on it, part of me can’t believe that I lived it. Undoubtably, it was probably one of the best – if not the best – experience of my life.

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This is in retrospect, though. At the time I didn’t really realize how fucking lucky I was to be there. I was battling home-sickness and New York-sickness, as well as constant stomach problems brought on by the change in cuisine. I actually had a countdown on my wall, and happily crossed off the days until I headed home. The thought of this countdown disgusts me now, and looking back my only regret is that I would have been more open-minded, lived in the moment more, and tried harder to enjoy myself instead of wallowing in self-pity. Change in environment and food and culture and routine certainly let my anxiety creep over and control me a bit, but all that said, I still had the most amazing time and will never ever forget those beautiful six weeks.

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I got to do so much. I met the most amazing people, whom I’m still quite close with (in fact, the girl I’m lucky enough to call “roommate” for the upcoming year was someone I met in Paris). What I love most about my “Paris friends” (as I call them) is that we’re all incredibly different. We had different majors, interests, backgrounds – but somehow we all sort of clicked as a mini group. If we hadn’t all been tossed into Paris together hat summer, I’m not sure I would have found any of them or even if I had, gone out of my way to be friends with them. But I love them. They provided comfort, laughs, emotional support, and adventure buddyship I needed to get through study abroad. And even though some of them have since graduated college and even live in different parts of the world, we’re still connected. We still talk, and we still hang out. And that’s a bit miraculous to me. They became and remained some of my closest friends, which is something I never expected to gain from the trip.

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Not only did I make friends, I learned SO much. Likely more in six weeks than I normally do over a year. I learned a lot about France, the language, and French culture, of course, but less obviously I learned so damn much about myself I felt like I grew up 10 years mentally and emotionally. While I was there I realized how set I can be in my ways. Lesson learned – I’m now more open and more flexible, and try to appreciate things and humans for the way they are. And I’m happy about this. I also realized how much I am absolutely in love with New York. I’m having withdrawals this summer, as well. Anytime I leave for an extended period of time, I crave it. Life just makes more sense there to me. Where else can you get any kind of food delivered to your door at any hour of the day? I love not having to rely on a car, and adore how – although it sounds paradoxical to some – walking alone at 3am in the big city somehow feels totally safe. I love that in a 30 minute walk I can be in several neighborhoods and feel how their cultures make each very distinct and as if its its own city. I love that I can have access to basically anything at any hour of the day. 24 hour restaurants, pharmacies, office supplies stores, Best Buys – man we are SPOILED in the city. And now every other city just feels kind of limiting. So I guess, in Paris, I learned I’m becoming a New Yorker- and possibly a lifelong one.

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Speaking of spoiled, New York tainted my ability to appreciate French cuisine. Well aware that I’m likely making many people doubt my ability to know/love good food – I gotta say – I did not think the cuisine in Paris was all that great. This is totally personal, and probably has a lot to do with the fact that I do not like meat, which a lot of classic French cuisine includes. Aside from that, I found a lot of dishes over-buttered and under-seasoned. Often times I would eat an omelet or a side of cooked vegetables and taste only butter. I’m sorry – I’m Italian – I’m all about olive oil, and using it only to enhance (rather than overpower) the flavors of food. As someone who has never craved grease in my life, I found a lot of French entrees to be just a bit too rich for my taste.

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we found healthy food at Le Pain Quotidian – a Belgium place with a French name that was familiar to us as they have many locations in NYC (this is one of my favorite spots for any meal)

That said there were some things France knocked out of the park. What stands out most clearly in my memory was the fruit and the cheese. Fruit in France is all grown more or less organically – there are way fewer pesticides and nothing is genetically modified. And you can tell! The strawberries are all tiny, but pack much sweeter, deeper flavors than the large commercial ones you see in American grocery stores. In fact, all the fruit tastes sweeter. I’m not sure if its the water or the soil, but every piece of fruit was as satisfying to me as candy – and I have a raging sweet tooth. I also fell in love with donut peaches and fresh apricots in France – I ate so so many of these. And the pink lady apples were tarter, crisper, and sweeter – just overall more intense – than any I’ve been able to find here.

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Regarding true sweets, France did have delicious pasteries. They used almonds, coconut, pistachio and nutella (all things I love) in many of their desserts, and did it quite well. I had a soft spot for coconut and almond croissants, as well as macaroons and absolutely anything filled with pastry cream. I’d like to say these stood out to me more than American pastries, but sadly they didn’t. I’ve been very spoiled by excellent bakeries in New York and Milwaukee, and France’s pastries, while delicious, where simply among (not ahead of) others I’ve had. That said, I loved their use of many ingredients in dessert that are often overlooked in the United States, and I left inspired as a baker.

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MMMmmm but all that sweetness needs something to balance it – this is perhaps why cheese is often or after served among dessert or fruit in france. And yes, the rumors are true. France knows and loves its cheese. It sits on a Parisienne pedestal and for good reason. I had a LOT of kinds of cheese, but goat has always been my favorite. And the goat cheese I had there (and I ate it a lot – salad chèvre was my go-to dish at a lot of restaurants) perfectly tangy and creamy. It was absolutely blissful to eat dipped with some chewy French baguette.

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salad with goat cheese…a favorite dish of mine in france

Speaking of grains, both my digestive system and I, truly missed whole grains while in France. My body is so used to consuming whole grain 90% of the time (because I truly prefer the taste), so the lack of fiber and sudden influx of refined flour wrecked havoc on my intestines. An overshare, perhaps, but this prevented me from enjoying a lot of food/experiences while in France.

All this talk of food makes me thirsty. So let’s move on to another France no-brainer: WINE. I was not a wine drinker before France. I was convinced I didn’t like it. Now I love it. Thanks you France! I kid you not, in some grocery stores, you could buy (cheap) wine for less than soda, some full sized bottles cashing in at a mere Euro (about $1.30 USD). I was even lucky enough to go on an NYU-sponsored all-expenses-paid field trip to Bordeux, where in addition to boat tours and excessive wining and dining, we were lucky enough to tour a winery. That weekend remains one of the most cherished of my entire life. I felt like I was living in a painting or a dream. It remains surreal, even as a memory.

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I’m going to finish my France food post with something I know and love: ice cream. More specifically, gelato. In Paris I fell deeply in love. With Armorino Gelato. A Paris born chain started by two Italian men (because Italians do everything best), Amorino was on every corner to satisfy my ice cream addition. Expensive, yes, but well worth the money. It is clearly  made from real, quality ingredients (think – actual fruit, high quality chocolate, real cherries and coconut, etc) and they let you layer as many flavors into a beautiful flower as you could fit. This gelato was perfection. Creamy, but not too creamy, it boasted a a balance that was never too rich nor too sweet to overpower the star ingredient of each flavor. I became quite partial to the Speculoos, pistachio, coconut, mango, and amaretto (almond with cherry chunks). It was one of my favorite treats in France, and by some lucky miracle, the only Amorino in the US is within walking distance to my apartment in New York City, so I haven’t had to give it up. I go there from time to time, not only because it’s incredible, but because every bite is laced with nostalgia. And let’s be honest – food that can wash you with warm memories and fuzzy feelings always becomes a favorite.

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amorino gelato

So there you have it. A really unorganized food-laced reflection on France. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. But my Paris experience has never left me. My friends are still very present, and it has inspired me to be more open-minded and embracing of life. Most invaluably, I try harder to explore my world around me. Milwaukee, New York – Paris taught me to take advantage of my surroundings and see what the world has to offer. It’s important to experience life and not post up in your room. The world is meant for seeing. Every site, sound, and bite you take helps you grow up. Merci, Paris, for teaching me much more than how to ask someone, “où sont les salles de bains?”