Travel: San Francisco and San Jose

I am traveling back home today ending wonderful, long trip. This was my last time presenting the project I was working on over the last 2 years and I wanted to take the opportunity to network and have some fun. I spent ~2 days in San Francisco before heading to the conference in San Jose, then I flew to St. Louis for my mom’s 60th birthday.

I had been to San Francisco twice for a conference back in graduate school, but felt so much pressure to participate in the conference all day that I did not see much of the city. I took a ride on the trolley and had a manhattan claw chowder in a sourdough bread bowl down at fisherman’s wharf. I felt guilty doing even those 2 things.

There were peers I felt were doing better than me in the PhD program because it seemed like all they did was work, be at the top of the class and attend every session at these conferences. While a few folks and even my advisor went to the Exploratorium and the Golden Gate Bridge or even Alcatraz. I know now not to listen to those people who would say we were sent here for work not for play. My advisor was having fun, why did I not do the same?

When I arrived in San Francisco, I stopped by my hostel to drop off my things and then set off on a long walk to the Golden Gate Bridge. This meant I walked from one side of town to the other since I was staying near Coit Tower. I took the bus back though. Then I repeated the same sort of thing the next day by checking out many neighborhoods on my way to Golden Gate Park. I love exploring new places and really wanted some time to do so on my own.

The highlights of my 2 days was seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Japantown napping in front of the painted ladies and the amazing views of the bay. In Japantown I got to check out a Daiso, peruse manga and eat an amazing bowl of ramen. I love the feeling of consuming hot broth on a cold day. I feel comforted by warm beverages and food on chilly days, its one of my greatest joys in Fall.

I took the Caltrain down to San Jose for my first session of the ASTC conference and stayed in an AirBnB near San Jose State University. I caught up with a lot of colleagues and friends, then made some connections to hopefully help out with finding jobs where we move. The sessions on sustainability, education flash talks and my group’s session were all a great time. I also got to see San Jose’s Japantown for dinner one evening.

I was so ready to see my family after a week in California. I will miss them, but thankfully I will see them again in a month 🙂 And then a 3rd time in December! 🙂



What I Ate This Week (10/19 – 10/25/2017)

I spent 2 days in San Francisco, CA,  attended a conference in San Jose, CA and then flew to my hometown (St. Louis, MO) for my Mom’s birthday. This week was healthy and not healthy…


Random scone and yogurt – free breakfast at the Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco

Dim Sum – since I was so close to Chinatown town I picked up some dim sum one morning.


Conference breakfast – they provided free breakfast only one morning. I had a lot of fruit, scrambled eggs and “roasted potatoes” (it lacked potatoes and was mushy, but still tasty).


Dinner/lunch leftovers and an apple – after the first day of the conference, this is what I ate each morning.

1/3 spinach and red pepper omelet, 1 slice turkey bacon, 2 small slices sourdough baguette and blueberries – the birthday breakfast I prepared for my Mom.


Ramen and karaage – I love when I can get more than sushi and teriyaki at a Japanese restaurant, I went a little crazy in California.

Berkley bowl from The Grove – I use to attend a conference in San Francisco every year while in graduate school and The Grove was my favorite stop. They have fresh and delicious fare.


Conference food – Free lunch just cannot be passes up.


Buddha buns and a Gose beer from Good Kharma artisan ales and cafe


Apple mojito juice and Luna salad from Vitamina


Corn dog and 1/2 chili fries from Woofies – my Mom’s birthday lunch of choice.



Random baked goods, an apple and ice cream – last night in San Francisco and I was really tired, so I ate a lot of random stuff.

Dosa and paneer pakoda from Chennai Kings Express


Free conference dinners – I did not get any shots of the conference party food, mainly because I was so anxious with how crowded it was and having to network while eating and drinking a beer.


Takoyaki, 1/2 a small order of gyudon and 1/2 a small order of curry don from Kumako Ramen – again, I just can not find Japanese food like this at home! Must eat all the good food!!!!!

California Veggie sandwich from Boudin at SFO, an apple and United pretzels


Pick 2 at Red Lobster (Shrimp scampi and cajun chicken alfredo)



Fruit – Apples and dates


Trail mix

Pretzel – more free conference food


1 slice of grandma cake and 2 scoops Ted Drewes frozen custard




Natural Product Review: Burt’s Bees lotion

Around the age of 23, I was told by a dermatologist to wear sunscreen everyday for maintaining healthy skin as I age. Ever since then I have made it a priority to wear sunscreen. I started off using regular sunscreen and then moved to sunscreen labelled that it is for your face. All of which was Neutrogena because I bought into their clean, healthy marketing.

When I turned 30, I knew I needed something meant for older skin, but still wanted something that would not break the bank. A lot of stuff out there is $20+ or even $90+ and one container lasts maybe a month. Luckily I found this Burt’s Bees Renewal Firming Day Lotion and so far so good!

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  • No sunburns. Essential for a day time lotion that should protect your skin.
  • The formula. The previous sunscreens I used made my face quite greasy looking on warmer days in the summer and this leaves my skin with a more natural sheen to it.
  • It has a nice scent.
  • Affordability. $15 for 2 oz that has lasted 6 months. This price use to make me cringe, but now I know it is great for a daily moisturizer for aging skin. I have found Olay products were a lot more pricier than this.
  • Accessibility. Available at Walgreens, Target, Meijer and Amazon, but I have seen it in some local natural stores as well.
  • Cruelty free. No animals were harmed in the making of this product.


  • Needs time to absorb. Apply your makeup too soon and it will look cakey. Usually fine if I doing one task in between, like brush my teeth or put in my contacts.
  • Unsure about every claim it makes. I am not sure it makes my skin look firmer or more youthful because I do not think my skin had shown those signs of aging yet.

What I Ate This Week (10/12 – 10/18/2017)

And I am off! I left on my long trip yesterday, so you will get a sneak peak on my activities and food 🙂 I am getting better about not letting my anxiety lead me to food. I have been trying to keep myself busy instead by going to get the mail, cleaning or playing a game with my partner. With this trip I should have plenty to do to keep my mind off food, I mean I did walk 7+ miles the first day.


Mango ginger kale smoothie + Bailey’s oats – Made plenty last week to have for this week too.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts – This is not a healthy tradition, but my partner and I go to Krispy Kreme once a year in October for Halloween themed donuts. I love Halloween and for me hot Krispy Kreme original glazed is a treat. And saying it is something special for October helps us not over indulge.


Gala apples and Larabar – Travel breakfast!



Green beans and Verisoy pork

Coconut Red Lentil Soup (Soup and Bread cookbook pg 145) with pita – Soup and Bread is one of my favorite cookbooks and I only got it in March. Every recipe I have tried so far is amazing!

Quinoa stuffing with Mushroom gravy and Soft-boiled egg + Maple spiced beets, carrots and squash with nuts – I used only leftovers and what I already had on hand to make this filling lunch.


Bread with stuff on it – I walked 7+ miles my first day in San Francisco, so you can say I carbed up.



Grilled cheese with spinach and artichoke dip and tomato soup

Acorn squash with Quinoa stuffing with Mushroom gravy

Oktoberfest dinner out – I got the sampler plate and a beer. I had the sausages another night for dinner.



Coconut Red Lentil Soup (Soup and Bread cookbook pg 145) with pita

Free taco dinner




Chocolate – It is life.


Apple with homemade cacao almond butter


Active Rest

When I first started working out seriously I was following Tone It Up on YouTube (TIU). TIU introduced me to the term active rest. Active rest means you are not doing activities to workout or stay in shape, you are doing them to enjoy the day or in doing your daily tasks.

I have been trying include active rest daily, like walking  to get the mail or explore around campus before my partner breaks for the day. I also love to be a tourist in my own city by walking everywhere to take beautiful pictures or see our town from different perspectives.

Not working out routinely is starting to get to me. I feel stressed, lethargic and emotional from sitting around more. I really miss all my activities. Sure I go for walks a few times a week to explore and do something, but seeing all the folks running along the river path across the street from our place makes me just to change into my compression leggings, slip into my running shoes and get running on that path again.

This itch to feel that runner’s high or even to lift weights again has me feeling a little down, more than the weight gain itself. Being active is very important to my mental state, so I have been prioritizing yoga and getting out of the apartment. I am resting to heal my hormones and staying active any way possible to provide a boost to my mental health.

Later this month I will be off on another trip for work and to spend time with family. I am planning out my adventures and hoping to stay on track with eating well while enjoying some of the fabulous foods these cities have to offer. I am also really looking forward to fun times and activities with my family. Thankfully my intrepid spirit was inherited! This trip should be uplifting for my current state of mind.

I can not wait to share my adventures! What active rest have you been up to or have planned for this Fall?

What I Ate This Week (10/5 – 10/11/2017)

This week involved a lot of finishing off items to make room in the fridge. We finished up the last of our cider, Bailey’s Irish Cream, frozen peaches, almonds, blue cheese dressing, watermelon, Verisoy pork, mozzarella, yellow tomatoes, spinach, cream cheese, tomato soup, and the soy milk I stocked up on when it was on sale last month. The fridge has so much more space! #satisfying


Spiced orange chia seed pudding with Mango ginger kale smoothieleftovers from last week

Berry cider bread with Mango ginger kale smoothie – What can I say, I love this smoothie. I also added some ginger spiced pear butter to these.


Apple and homemade cacao almond butter


Bailey’s oats – We were suppose to have guests this week, but they had to chance their trip. I had planned to make this for them to help us get rid of booze we just do not drink. I prepared these in the instant pot with the last of the Bailey’s, water and raisins. Now to find a way to get rid of the last of the tequila and rum we have wasting space in our freezer.



Marinated Beet Salad with Raspberries and blue cheese dressing – I got the idea for this from a picture I saw online. It was okay, I only had it twice. Cooked beets were marinated in red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Then I placed them over chopped romaine with hazelnuts, raspberries and a yogurt based blue cheese dressing. If I made this again I might use a different green, add blue cheese crumbles and a different dressing.


Cinnamon peanut butter sweet potato mash and Lime Watermelon SCOBY smoothie – leftovers from last week

Green beans and Verisoy pork – I will be very honest, the Verisoy pork smells like dog biscuits. I have had the beef before and like that better.



C&D Noodles with edamame – leftovers from last week

Simple tomato, olive and mozzarella pizza with St. Louis style crust – When you live far from your hometown with all its glorious foods, you make them from scratch! I might make the cheese next time 😉


Grilled cheese with spinach and artichoke dip and tomato soup – I made spinach and artichoke dip to use up leftover spinach, cream cheese and other cheeses and then used it to make a sandwich that my partner and I split. It was brilliant with the tomato soup.


Acorn squash filled with Quinoa stuffing and topped with Mushroom gravy – my partner was sad that we would not have my Thanksgiving dinner leftover concoctions this year since we are visiting my family, so I am trying to feature a few items I would have made this fall and this is one of them. We love this quinoa stuffing. Last year we ate what was left with gravy and a fried egg. I think the mushroom gravy and acorn squash health it up a bit 😉



Popcorn – a Jungle Jim’s find from my trip to Cincinnati last week.


Chocolate – I could not deny a piece of pumpkin seed BarkThins while at Costco…

C&D Chocolate cookies – I left out the chocolate chips since we do not have any and we were desperate for a cookie. I also reduced the amount of coconut sugar to 1/2 cup and it made the sweetness perfect for me.



Getting Out of Your PJs

A message to myself, GET OUT OF YOUR PJs! Put on some real clothes. You know it makes you feel like a normal human who provides something to the world.

Sometimes you need things like this. I am no longer sick and have been trying to get out of the house at least once a day. Even if it is just to go check the mail or take out the trash. I spent a decent amount of September in my PJs from being ill after our Austin trip and having a load of proposals to read through, but it is time to get dressed everyday.

Something has me thinking a lot about these negative feelings I have my job ending and being in limbo. I read an article about a study from my alma mater showing how you can improve after experiencing a failure. Not having a job is making me feel like a failure, as I had felt in 2012 when I was unable to continue my PhD. After morning the loss of the future I thought I should have, I grew from those negative emotions. I have confidence in myself that I will do so again.

What am I going to do today? I am going raspberry and apple picking. I am also going to bake cider bread with a leftover cider we have in the fridge. I need to complete the Red Cross Advanced Child Care course as well. This will help me pick up some babysitting gigs. I figured the most flexible way to make some money while I wait for my partner to complete his PhD is to babysit. I already completed their CPR certification.

What are you up to today?


What I Ate This Week (9/28 – 10/4/2017)

This week I had a day trip to Chicago and went to visit my cousin in Cincinnati. Loads of fun and good food!


Popcorn chips with chia seeds, flax seeds, whole quinoa and sunflower seeds from Trader Joe’s – Not the breakfast of champions, but things just worked out this way two days in a row.

Samples at Jungle Jims – I was not hungry until we got there and boy did they have some great samples 🙂

Fruit, Scrambled eggs and 1/2 a Blue Oven bakery croissant

Spiced orange chia seed pudding with Mango ginger kale smoothie



Barley salad and RXbar – I finished off that rubbish salad from the test recipe and had a Pineapple Mango RXbar.

Pear, Walnut and Blue cheese salad


Pulled pork, Cheddar jalapeno grits, Mac and cheese and chips – My cousin too me to Eli’s BBQ in Cincinnati after we picked up the chips at Jungle Jim’s 🙂 We shared the sides and chips.


Cinnamon peanut butter sweet potato mash and Lime Watermelon SCOBY smoothie – I have been craving sweet things lately and with what I had on hand this tackled that perfectly.



Sesame Kale Macro bowl and Thai Chili Brussels Sprouts from Native Foods – Highly recommend these 2 items. Though I should have only ate half of the bowl because eating both of these made me stuffed, uncomfortable so.


Spicy Hairy arepa from Empanadas Aqui – They were at the Art After Dark event at the Cincinnati Art Museum on Friday night.

Veggie pasta and watermelon


Bet It All On Black Garlic burger – first night we split a regular size 4 way Skyline chili on the side and the second night we had it with baked fries to use up the last of the gold potatoes.


C&D Noodles with edamame – I make these with soba noodles since black bean noodles cost more and are harder to find in my area.



Cookies – I was in a meeting where someone bought me cookies… so I ate them. They were turtle cookies and delicious, but I should have politely declined. I am going to try my best to not eat sweets like this the rest of the week at least.

Beer – While in Cincinnati I enjoyed some local beer and cider from Rhinegeist


Pina Colada Dole Whip – just 2 or so cups frozen pineapple, 2 fl oz coconut rum and 2 fl oz full-fat coconut milk in a food processor blended until smooth.



Bulking is the Worst

I mentioned a while back that I had been bulking, see that blog post here. I was trying to build muscle and thought I should try bulking because to gain weight as muscle or fat, you must eat more. So I figured the best time to try it out was over the holiday season when I would be eating more anyway. Unfortunately, I do not have the healthiest relationship with food, particularly sweets.

From indulging in sweets over the holiday season, I went right back to my sugar addicted ways. Worst part was I was trying to hide it from my partner. Granted I did not try hard hide, all he would need to do is walk out into the kitchen and there I would be standing over the pint of ice cream. These unhealthy habits were not aided by the anxiety I was feeling from the transitions going on in my life.

Thus, my digestion has been up and down all 2017. I say bulking is the worst mainly because I did it wrong and allowed myself to develop a mindset of, “oh it is ok if I have this extra food because I am bulking.” The extra food should have been extra produce or grains or protein, not cupcakes, pints of ice cream, cookies and fried foods. I am not sure if I will try bulking ever again. I really just want to get back to eating when I am hungry and stopping when I feel satiated.

When my cycle is back to being regular and I feel I have regained a healthy relationship with food I would like to gain muscle again, but we shall see when life takes me. 😉