Labor of Love

We’re back in the tundra!

“Tundra” meaning New York, meaning below freezing temperatures, meaning I’ve been warming up by standing next to the crock pot and wrapping my face in laundry straight out of the dryer.

Florida has made me soft.

Fortunately, we had smooth travels on both the auto train (a train running between Lorton, VA and Sanford, FL both ways that takes you and your car!) and on the drive back home from the train station. The auto train had some snazzy food for dinner that was quite impressive. Mom and I both tried their salmon with pesto, rice pilaf, and steamed veggies.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Not the least bit shabby for train food, I’d say!

On our drive back to New York from the train station in Virginia, we stopped by Woody’s Crab House for some crab cakes. We were in Maryland, so why not? These were some fantastic crab cakes too!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

shared house salad to start

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

my crab cake sandwich with coleslaw and steamed veggies // mom’s two crab cakes with sweet potato fries and corn on the cob

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

she wanted me to take a picture of the copious amount of lump crab meat in those cakes

We picked off each other’s plates (I helped her out a good bit with those sweet taters) and agreed that the crab cakes were phenomenal. It was worth going backwards 10 miles to this place just because Yelp told us it had stellar reviews. The labor of love for good food.

Speaking of a labor of love, we are also willing to go the distance to get a sweet taste of one of the most time-consuming fruits out there.

DSC_0717

massacre

Pomegranate! It takes a good 10-20 minutes to get all the arils out of that sucker, while it takes only 10 minutes to consume all of it if we really wanted to. Especially when you eat it with a spoon like my dad and me.

DSC_0718

But after my moves last night, which consisted of this cute (yet challenging) gymnastics core routine and the 500 rep workout from Purely Twins, I went for a more classy route of eating the rubies I harvested.

DSC_0719 DSC_0720

atop plain Greek yogurt sweetened with cherry vanilla stevia + BelVita biscuits for dippin’!

My friends and I always used to call pomegranate arils juicy little explosions of flavor. If you have never tried pomegranate, you must experience the tiny yet amazing explosion! Even if it means taking every single aril out of the rind. Or just buying pre-harvested arils.

P.S. we’ve already finished that whole pomegranate.

Breakfast this morning was a delicious “dough boy” smoothie inspired by Kath Eats!

DSC_0722

Last night I combined the following ingredients in a blender (just stirred them, not blended) and let them sit overnight in the fridge.

  • 1/2 c. almond milk
  • 1/2 c. quick oats (regular rolled oats would work too)
  • 1/3 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 heaping tbsp. peanut butter
  • dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt

This morning I added another 1/4 cup or so of almond milk and then blended it all up! The result is a thick, doughy, creamy smoothie that will make you smile. Unless you don’t like happiness in a mug.

DSC_0721

topped with cereal (times five) for crunch and eaten with a spoon!

I came to the realization that I want to make so many breakfast recipes before going back to college on Friday that I might just have breakfast for every meal of the day. #WinterBreakBreakfastMission isn’t over ’til it’s over.

I am currently blogging from my parents’ desktop computer because my laptop froze last night and will not start up, even after letting it load up throughout the whole night. I might have to take it to the Mac Store if it doesn’t cooperate. Meep.

Have a splendid day, folks! Here’s an awesome list of 25 ways to stop feeling overwhelmed and overworked, which is something we all need in life, especially as we get back into our working routines.

So tell me:

Is there a food for which you are willing to make a “labor of love”?

Do you like pomegranate?

Have you ever tried an overnight smoothie?

What are you doing today!?

I am going to pick up a new graphing calculator (my previous one got soaked in my backpack when it rained in Boston…I’m having the best luck with technology recently), pack and prepare for going back to school, work out, and see Daliza tonight!

University of Virginia + Washington DC Fun

Salutations! (Charlotte’s Web anyone?? 🙂 )

I totally wanted to put up a recap post of my visit to UVA yesterday, but I was pooped from another long day of walking and eating yet again. Thus, I’m comin’ atcha today with a huge photo dump from the past couple of days!

{If you haven’t read the other posts from my great college tour finale, you may want to check out what I think of University of Maryland and Charlottesville!}

Monday

Up and at ’em at 7:30 AM!

DSC_7916

Breakfast part 1: banana with coconut peanut butter in the hotel room

DSC_7917

Breakfast part 2: trail mix in the hotel room

IMG_4012

Breakfast part 3: hunk o’ yummy banana bread at the UVA Days on the Lawn Welcome (pear saved for later)

IMG_4013

Super talented a cappella groups entertaining us as we waited for the event to start

IMG_4016

Grand Wahoo welcome!

IMG_4017

Singing one of their famous anthems

IMG_4018

Bavaro Hall

IMG_4021 IMG_4022

Kinesiology info session

IMG_4023

Word.

IMG_4024

After all our dining out this past weekend, I was more than ready for these veggies from the dining hall. They had some delicious options!

IMG_4025

And then this. Free froyo, people.

Alright, I’m sure you want to know the verdict on University of Virginia, so here’s the rundown:

Pros:

  • Gorgeous campus
  • Super nice people
  • Charlottesville is a very walkable town
  • Great education
  • Awesome Catholic center
  • Blogger/foodie town
  • Kinesiology program
  • Best campus food I’ve had so far
  • The students seem very serious about their studies
  • School spirit

Cons:

  • Out-of-state tuition is pricey
  • Distance (7 hour drive from home)
  • Not very close to a big city
  • The opportunities did not seem quite as vast as UMD

Conclusion:

I do not think I will attend UVA. As much as I liked my experience at Cville this weekend, UVA just didn’t click with me like UMD did. The price and distance are also major factors. This conclusion took a lot of thinking and pondering!

After the Days on the Lawn finished, mom and I drove to Dulles Airport (near DC) to pick my friend, Victoria, and her mom, who flew in from California! We’ve known each other since we were 5 years old when my family lived in southern California. Victoria is also visiting colleges on the east coast, so I have a buddy for this college decision process!

We went out to dinner with their friends who live in DC, which was fun, delicious, and filling. As if I hadn’t eaten enough this spring break. The restaurant was called Miss Saigon, and the food was absolutely fantastic.

DSC_7918

We shared a ton of dishes family style. We also left with four containers of leftovers.

DSC_7922

But there’s always room for mango with sticky rice!

I feel like I’ve had a food baby after every dinner on this trip. SO MUCH FOOD.

We did make it over 20,000 steps that day though!

Moves: a crapton of walking.

DSC_7923

Champs.

I ended up giving the Polar Loop to my mom so she could track her steps, and we were super excited to see that we made it to 20.6K steps on Monday!

Tuesday

Slept in until 8:30 AM. I basically max out at 8 hours of sleep nowadays.

IMG_4038

Coffee and hot cocoa at Illy with Victoria 🙂

We walked around American University for a while since that is one of Victoria’s top choices right now. It has a beautiful campus in the midst of DC. Plus, if she goes there and I go to UMD, we would be super close to one another! SoCal girls’ partayyyy.

IMG_4040

I guess I like to get in my veggies at lunchtime. This is the veggie burger in a lettuce wrap from Elevation Burger at the AU dining hall. Very tasty! Especially since it took 10 minutes for them to make…

In the afternoon, Victoria and her mom went to an art museum in DC while my mom and I went back to relax at the hotel. I snacked and got some homework done.

After picking them up and having dinner at the hotel cafe (we ordered a bunch of apps to share), everyone except my mom walked through wind, rain, and suddenly freezing temperatures for one reason and one reason alone.

Cupcakes.

IMG_4041

Baked and Wired Bakery

IMG_4042

DSC_7927

After our courageous trek. Hi from Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

DSC_7928

Our reward!

DSC_7926

Carrot cake cupcake (they call them “cakecups”). It’s supposed to be “enough to share”…Haha. Nah.

DSC_7929

DEMOLISHED that sucker.

It’s a cycle, really. Snacky breakfast➔ veggies at lunch➔ sugar at night. It balances out.

This “cakecup” got me all sugared up for a late night workout at the spiffy hotel fitness center. Moves included a 1 mile run on the treadmill, some bodyweight lunges, pushups, and Julie’s 8 minute ab tabata. It felt good to move! And groove to my music when no one was watching 😉

Unrelated side note: I officially despise— DESPISE—driving in DC. Half of the roads are one-way for only certain hours in the day, some roads are two-lane or one-lane for certain hours in the day, there are too many roundabouts, tour buses are everywhere, cars are parked in driving lanes….holy moly. DC makes NYC look like a breeze.

And that’s a wrap! I apologize for the length of this post, but it was another two-days-in-one-post deal.

Hope you all have a happy hump day!

So tell me:

Have you ever been to Washington DC?

Do you like veggie burgers?

What is your favorite cake/cupcake flavor?

Where is the worst place in which you’ve driven?

 

Behind the Scenes #16: Little Italy to Maryland

Hello hello!

I did not mean to abandon you yesterday without notice, but on Wednesday night, I had jazz class, ate dinner, had a deep, teary (but good!) conversation with my dad for no particular reason, and then I went to bed. Thus, I’m here now to tell you what’s been up the past couple of days!

I’ll do this Thinking Out Loud style, even though I missed the linkup yesterday. Meep.

1. As I mentioned on Wednesday, my Italian class went on a field trip to Little Italy, and it was great! We went to the Italian American museum, we ate, and then…..we ate some more. It was also a gorgeous day for walking around. Who could complain about that?

photo 1 photo 1

This isn’t even close to showing all the food. Heh heh.

photo 2 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

Hey, Arman, I can get my hands on some awesome gelato too! Salted caramel and pistachio. So dreamy.

2. I have officially kicked off my final search for the place I will be for the next four years. AKA college. I am currently typing up this post from College Park, Maryland since UMD is the first stop of the trip. Mom and I drove down here yesterday so we could attend the accepted students’ day today.

DSC_7840

 This is my third time visiting UMD, so we’ll see if I love it as much as I did the other two times! I’m just excited to be visiting my top three colleges this spring break so that I can make a decision. Eee!

3. This hotel has great lotion. I appreciate some nice-smelling, quality lotion, ya know?

4. Dinner last night was the bomb. We went to a restaurant super close to campus called Pho D’Lite, and I ordered the pork vermicelli bowl. The flavor of the pork was fantastic, and the crushed peanuts added such a great texture! The appetizer was lame though. “Asian Poppers” were more like greasy mystery meat nuggets.

DSC_7838

Yuck.

DSC_7839

YUM.

5. My butt hurts from sitting in the car all day. Just thought I’d throw that out there. My school friends would understand that completely.

6. We may or may not have brought peanut butter for breakfasts during our trip…

DSC_7841

Which means there is a possibility I’ll have some this morning since I need to eat up those English muffins and bananas we also brought along. So much for my personal nut-butter-less Fridays during Lent rule.

7. We’re headed for Virginia tomorrow so that I can check out UVA’s accepted students’ day on Monday, which they call “Days on the Lawn.” That kinda makes me want to dress up and have a tea party there. Do you think they would like me if I tried to organize that?

8. I’m gonna hit the hay now (typing this at night)— it’s been a long day! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

IT’S SPRING BREAK FINALLY!

So tell me:

What is your favorite gelato flavor?

Do you ever bring nut butter with you on vacation?

What are you doing this weekend?

 

 

Thursday Things + University of Maryland Pt. 2

Hey everyone! I really enjoyed doing this kind of random thoughts post last week, so I’m thinking of making it a regular weekly post. I’m considering calling it “Loggin’ the Noggin,” but I have a feeling I’m going to regret starting that name a year or two from now. It’s definitely a little Dr. Seuss-y, so I it would probably just do me a disservice in the long run (In college: “I have a new post called Loggin’ the Noggin!”…..What?). Speaking of college, I’m also going to talk a little bit about what I thought of the University of Maryland (spoiler: LOVED it. That’s why I’m taking the time to review it, I guess). At any rate though, here’s what’s going on in the noggin this week:

1. Wacky Wednesday was a success for the whole school! I’ve seen wackier days in years past, but some of the outfits were certainly head-turners. I don’t own any super bright neon clothing, and I’m too lazy to go out of my way to make the clothes I do have more wacky, so I usually just settle for mixing and non-matching. 🙂

photo 1 copy 3 photo 2 copy 5

2. Ever since eating those amazing crispy brussels sprouts from Zaytinya, I have been obsessed with the vegetable I thought I hated. I always knew I enjoyed brussels sprouts roasted, but one incident in which I ate them raw sort of ruined my relationship with them. Zaytinya reconciled all harsh feelings. When we got home, my mom bought some sprouts and sauteed them with avocado oil, a little garlic seasoning, and pepper. I have been poppin’ those like candy.

DSC_6247

3. I am slightly  really obsessed with Tori Kelly right now. I found her through someone’s tweet of her “Suit and Tie” cover a while ago. I don’t know how I came across her again, but I have been replaying all her songs on Youtube about 100 times a day. She has the most AMAZING voice, awesome music style, and sweet personality. And her hair– she rocks that ‘do! Some of my favorites of hers include “Dear No One” (I can actually relate to it, unlike so many other songs on the radio), “Fill a Heart,” and “All In My Head.”

4. This morning, we high school seniors are having a “breakfast tailgate” at 7 AM in the school’s senior parking lot. I am all over the fact that we are going to be hanging out while eating my favorite meal of the day, but ugh–getting to school that early? (I’m typing this Wednesday night, which is why I’m regarding to this even as the future.) I guess it should be okay though, because I usually start eating breakfast around 7 anyway. It’s just that I need at least 20 minutes to eat it, causing me to leave at around 7:30.  But I’ll just be using that time to drive to school and eat there. Alright, so it’s not so bad anymore 😀

Let’s move onto Maryland! The drive to our hotel was about 5 hours with traffic, which isn’t too bad in terms of distance from home. I already talked a bit about our hotel and the fantastic fitness center there, so now I’m going to focus on the real reason we went–to visit the University of Maryland in College Park! UMD has slowly turned into my number one choice ever since I first visited the campus earlier this year. They had an Open House on Monday (which I had off for Columbus Day), so my mom and I excitedly took the opportunity to go again and see if I still really like it.

The event started with “Information Express,” which was basically a setup of booths for all the different schools and programs available at the university. Since it started at 8 AM, they provided lots of mini muffins, juice, and coffee. Nice touch!

DSC_6205 DSC_6207

DSC_6208

I stopped by the College of Public Health, Campus Recreation, and Dining Services tables. I guess that’s predictable, huh?–fitness and food. I also caught a picture with the Maryland Terp (short for terrapin {turtle})!

DSC_6211

DSC_6210

After touring the booths and picking up some brochures, we followed a large group to the Freshmen Admissions session where we were briefed on application specifics. Then we proceeded to a specialized session for the School of Public Health since I’m interested in studying kinesiology. The director of the school and student panel were super informative, and now I’m even more pumped about kinesiology! To be honest, I’ve been telling people that I don’t really know what exactly I want to study (and of course, nothing is set in stone still–it may not be set for a while), but at least my interest in physical therapy has been reinforced!

I was actually really tired that day since I had a little insomnia the night before, so we skipped the campus tour. We also went on a tour the last time we visited. Even so, my mom and I walked over 11,000 steps all over campus (thanks to her pedometer)! It is such a huge, spread out campus that it requires a good walking workout whenever commuting from one class/building to the next. We also got lost a few times, so that added to our step count significantly. Luckily, the weather was perfect and the campus is gorgeous, so walking around certainly was not a chore.

DSC_6227

DSC_6230

DSC_6234

We visited the Recreation Center first to check out the fitness facilities, and we were so impressed. There are several weight rooms, group class rooms, cardio rooms, swimming pools, a track, and even a room specifically for functional training! My kind of area!

photo 1

photo 2

Those are all the photos I took before one of the staff members told us we couldn’t take pictures of the rooms if people were exercising inside for privacy reasons.

By this point, we were on the verge of being “hangry.” My mom was thinking that we should go off campus for lunch, but the aroma of food spilling from the dining halls was tantalizing. I also wanted to try the campus food while we were there, so we settled for UMD’s “Diner.” I didn’t get anything fancy because I was really just in the mood for a big ol’ wrap. I asked for lettuce, tomato, brown mustard, grilled chicken, and more honey dijon dressing in a whole wheat wrap. The lady went a little honey-mustard-dressing-happy, but it still hit the spot. 

DSC_6235

My mom’s lunch looked and tasted delicious! She went to the pasta station and ordered whole wheat pasta with mushrooms, artichokes (!!), broccoli, chicken, and tomato sauce. They give you the option of having the veggies stir fried or steamed, so my mom went with steamed. Thumbs up for healthy options! And the sauce was quite flavorful.

DSC_6236

Also, the portions were HEFTY. I mean, I finished all of my wrap except a few pieces of tortilla (hungry hungry), but they give you a lot of food for a pretty good price (about $7 for each our meals) compared to other colleges we’ve visited. My mom got a lunch and dinner out of her meal as she ate her leftovers that night. That container was FULL!

Once our tummies were satisfied, we went to the last stop of our trip, the Catholic Student Center. My faith is of utmost importance to me, so I wanted to check out the place where I would probably spend a good chuck of my time.

DSC_6237

DSC_6238

DSC_6241

DSC_6245

The center was a little off campus, but it was well-kept and pretty big for a relatively small group on campus. At first there was no one there, so I just walked around and took pictures, but then a couple guys came in and introduced themselves. One of them was actually a kinesiology major, and both of them thought the name of my uncle (a priest) sounded familiar when I talked about him. Small world! Other members of the Catholic group stopped by, and I was happy to meet such kind, passionate people. Another reason I’m loving UMD!

So that’s about it, I believe. I apologize for this being such a long post, and I hope you weren’t bored to tears. Actually you wouldn’t be reading these last remarks if you got that bored. But if you’re still hangin’ tight, I hope you enjoyed my Thursday Things and MD recap!

So tell me: Do you like brussels sprouts? Have any favorite Youtube musicians? Tell me something that you love about your alma mater/favorite college!

WIAW: A Dinner of Small Plates

It’s Wacky Wednesday in the world of high school (or at least my high school)! It’s homecoming week right now, so all the days are themed, all the students are a little more wild, and some teachers are a little more annoyed. All in good fun! Yesterday was “Retro Tuesday,” but apparently everyone wanted to change it to pajama day this past weekend, so most people donned their adult onesies and subsequently burned all day inside their warm felt suits. I and a few others kept the Retro Day theme. I actually just threw together the outfit Monday night, because pajama day just seemed bland on my end since I don’t own a onesie.

photo 1 copy 2

Don’t ask me which decade I’m from, because I’m not sure myself.

But I’m sure you all know what else is going on today….the most amazing food party on the web! Thanks, Jenn for hosting another fabulous What I Ate Wednesday! I’m going to be showing some random good eats in no particular fashion (not all from one day, as some of my friends thought) until I decide to move onto the most amazing dinner that my mom and I had in Washington DC. (Also, I totally owe you a Maryland recap. Coming tomorrow hopefully!) So here we gooooo:

what i ate wednesday october breast cancer awareness halloween button

DSC_6168

A quick breakfast before teaching Sunday School: Honeycrisp apple with yogurt+pepita sunseed butter dip

DSC_6114

Random but delicious dinner: Grilled cheese and tomato, salad with homemade honey mustard dressing, grapes

DSC_6169

Three part lunch before hitting the road to MD: Leftover veggie and egg quinoa/brown rice, Greek yogurt with pineapple, veggies with hummus. I’m not efficient with dish and utensil use. 

DSC_6166

Pumpkin oats with sunflower seed butter. This time I didn’t add banana, and it tasted more pumpkin-y! 

DSC_6165

Spinach, egg, salsa, sauteed onions, and sweet potato (yam?)

DSC_6167

Classic: Avocado toast, two sunny eggs (that became hard because I let them cook too long 😦 ), sauteed onions and spinach underneath

And now onto the absolutely fabulous dinner at Zaytinya in DC! It’s a pretty upscale Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese small plates restaurant (called mezze instead of tapas, which are Spanish small plates) by chef Jose Andres, who owns several other popular restaurants in DC. This place is so incredibly popular, guys. We called in to make reservations at around 7 pm and the earliest opening for two people was 8:30. Once we got there, the place was packed and we still had to wait a few minutes to be seated. The clean, modern, open ambiance made the wait much more bearable despite our growling stomachs.

DSC_6170

DSC_6172

DSC_6173

Zaytinya has been gracious in helping out the furloughed workers in DC by giving away free sandwiches from 3-5 every day! How awesome!

DSC_6174

We were seated in the upper level of the restaurant, giving us quite a nice view of the restaurant and the urban streets.

DSC_6179

The friendly servers gave us hot-out-of-the-oven pita bread that was SO puffy and delicious! Served with olive oil + balsamic and hummus.

DSC_6176 DSC_6180

DSC_6181

Then it was time to order. If you’re not familiar with tapas or mezze, each person is supposed to order a few dishes, or small plates, instead of one appetizer/entree. My mom and I were starving, but we had to make sure our eyes weren’t bigger than our stomachs, so we settled for six mezze. Boy am I glad we didn’t order more, because we were stuffed by the end! But so happily stuffed. 🙂

DSC_6183

Red lentil patties with yogurt sauce. Tasted like falafel, but not fried!

DSC_6184

Crispy brussel sprouts with coriander and tangy yogurt sauce. ONE OF THE BEST DISHES OF THE NIGHT. Surprising, right?! We knew we had to try them after raving reviews for them on Yelp. Glad we did!

DSC_6185

Spanikopita. Fresh and delicious. And shaped like an egg roll. How could you go wrong?

DSC_6189

Mushroom pearl couscous. Creamy and tasty. One of mom’s favorites.

DSC_6190

Baby crab cakes! Yummy, but nothing super wow-ing.

DSC_6193

Potato-crusted snails. Another hit!! The potato crust was spiced perfectly, and these little bites were just so unique and delicious.

It may not look like a lot since the plates were so small, but we were so full after we finished these. However, our dessert compartments were still calling the sweet selections 😉 The desserts luckily came in mezze-style (mini) and full portions, so we each ordered a mezze-style.

DSC_6195

For me: “Turkish Delight” Walnut ice cream, yogurt mousse, honey gelee, phyllo pastry, and pine nuts. Oh so divine.

DSC_6197

For mom: “Chocolate Rose” Rose ice cream, chocolate mousse, spiced berry compote. The rose ice cream was amazing!! She wished she had just ordered that by itself since they actually had that flavor available. Next time, next time. She still enjoyed the chocolate though.

And that concludes our culinary adventure. The dinner was pricey, but if you want some fabulous and unique Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese food whenever you’re in DC, definitely check out Zaytinya! You won’t regret it.

DSC_6200

A note for the staff 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

So tell me: What yummy things have you been eating? Have you ever tried tapas/mezze before?