Growing Up

Happy Friday!

I finally purchased my own domain to take this blogging thing more seriously, so if you are reading this (thank you) and please go on over to I am still in the process of finalizing a theme, but hope to do so in the next week.

Thanks to all that are reading.



Dinners with Blue Apron

The past few months I have been using Blue Apron to cook dinner and completely love it. If you’re not familiar with Blue Apron, it is a meal delivery service that sends fresh, mostly local ingredients with accompanying recipe cards. The package is delivered in a large box with ice packs and liners to keep things cold if you are not home when the package is delivered.

We’ve been using the 2 person plan for $9.99 per person per meal (about $60/week) for weeks where we feel like we’re in a food rut. Each box contains ingredients to make 3 different meals. They also offer a family plan for 4 people offering 2-4 meals per week for the price of $8.74 per person per meal. So many options for all kinds of families.

Beautiful recipe cards for each recipe!

Beautiful recipe cards for each recipe! Disregard my chipped nail polish 🙂

Some of my favorite things about this service:

  1. All ingredients come pre-portioned. So there is no waste from ingredients you had to buy to make one recipe (I’m looking at you jar of hoisin sauce). They provide exactly what is needed – no more and no less.
  2. I don’t have to stress about meal planning on Sundays! It takes all effort out of stressing about what to make and what to buy. I come home, pull out a recipe card and get to work.
  3. The directions are SO simple and convenient with the beautiful photos showcasing each step. This makes it very easy for E to make dinners when I am getting home late from work.
  4. You can select from various meals per week. If you are a meat eater you can select from various meat and fish options as well as vegetarian.
  5. You can skip weeks and aren’t charged anything! You just have to remember to “skip” a week by a certain time or else they send it to you anyway (and you are charged).
  6. The meals are around 500-700 calories per serving and take about 25-45 minutes to prepare.
  7. Recyclable materials. The geniuses at Blue Apron have been constantly innovating to make the packaging materials from their deliveries more “green.” They recently announced an even easier way to recycle the materials. 1), use a new recycling locator to find recycling options in your community, or 2), return your packaging to Blue Apron via USPS for free and we’ll recycle or reuse it for you. I will be using the USPS option!

Also, Blue Apron also just started a wine membership. I haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but it seems like a great idea since the wines are selected to pair with the meals.

Now for the best part – the meals!

This week we received the three vegetarian options (as we do every week). On the menu this week:

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.52.31 AM

We typically get our shipments on Fridays and then cook dinners for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

While they send you the pre-portioned ingredients, you still have to prepare the meals. So you still have to chop and dice and be the little chef you are. I love this about Blue Apron as it still gets me in the kitchen trying new techniques (I once cooked with cactus!).

This week’s meals were delicious but the favorite was the Thai Green Coconut Curry. It was delicious! I am already looking forward to next week’s meals!

I am not affiliated with Blue Apron, but simply wanted to share my own personal experience! 

Have you tried Blue Apron? 

What do you like to cook at home?

10/3 and 1/04 Weekend Happenings

And just like that it’s Monday. Somehow the weekends always fly by, without fail. But this was a good weekend. Let’s rewind.


I know this wasn’t technically the weekend, but I couldn’t go without mentioning my indoor soccer team’s championship! We played 2 games on Thursday night and ended up winning our league’s championship. No matter that our league is only 4 teams 😉 I love playing with these ladies and relive my soccer heyday.



Friday night was spent with some Thai food takeout, catching up on DVR and in bed by 10:30. The perfect Friday night if you ask me.


Saturday started with an Orangetheory workout followed by a Target run. This is how every Saturday should start! I was enticed by this shirt and decided I had to have it in my lounging wardrobe.

We had a packed day with a soccer game and some other errands that we had to run before heading to Oakland for our anniversary! Today is our actual anniversary, but we wanted to go out to a nice dinner (something we rarely do).

The late afternoon started at Drake’s Dealership. The brand new restaurant establishment from Drake’s Brewing Company. We have been wanting to go since it opened, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out. The place is great. There is a large outdoor beer garden with a smaller, indoor area. It was a bit chilly, so we opted to sit inside and had a couple of tasters.


The beer was good and the company was even better 🙂

After we spent an hour or so here we ventured over to our favorite restaurant, Millennium. Millennium is a vegan restaurant that originally started in San Francisco in 1994. It consistently gets awards in the vegetarian and vegan restaurant categories. We have been here for every anniversary – it’s a bit of a tradition. This past year they moved locations due to building ownership changes, so this was our first time visiting their new location in Oakland. The verdict? I loved it!


The menu is seasonal and everything was delicious (as always). We started with the complimentary bread and cashew butter. This “butter” was made with cashews, tofu, sage, garlic and a few other ingredients our waiter mentioned. It was so creamy and delicious.

A glass of rose brut for the lady and a nice Russian River beer for the handsome gent.


We also split two appetizers:

PicMonkey Collage

On the left – Steamed Buns: smoked miso glazed grilled eggplant, edamame purée, house made sriracha, Asian pear, pickled celery root & carrot.

On the right – the salad I picked out isn’t on their online menu, but it consisted of arugula, pomegranate seeds, butternut squash and a balsamic vinaigrette. I am not doing the description justice, I’m sure.

For dinner we split two main courses:

PicMonkey Collage_2

On the left – Peanut Glazed Smoked Tempeh: West African spiced roasted pepper & peanut sauce, creamy millet grits, collard green & corn hash, black eyed pea chow chow

Review: Half Dome Hike

So, today I wanted to recap a recent hike I went on with E. I found myself reading endless reviews of this hike online, so I hope that this helps someone. I also want to have this memory for me when I forget all the details in a month. Ha!

On September 4, 2015 I checked a daunting and challenging item off of my bucket list: hike the elusive Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

**At the end of this post I provide more logistical details, tips and links to my gear and information on where we stayed.**

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Half Dome is 8,444 feet above sea level, but in reality you climb about 4,737 feet from the Yosemite Valley floor (since you are already well above sea level in Yosemite Valley!).

The day started bright and early with a 4:30am wake up call! We wanted to be on the trail by 5:30am at the latest to avoid crowds. It was cold and dark. We had some cold brew coffee that we chugged in the hotel room as well as a huge 1.5L bottle of water that we drank in the car on the 2-mile drive to the trail head.

4:30am wake up call!

4:30am wake up call!

Big smiles in the dark

Big smiles in the dark

We turned on our headlamp and flashlight (highly advise at least a flashlight if you start in the dark) and started our trek at the Happy Isles Trail Head!

We took the Mist trail up and the John Muir trail down. The Mist trail takes you along 2 waterfalls; both of which were barely falling (thank you, California draught) but still absolutely beautiful and incredibly serene at the early dawn hours.

Steep stairs up to Vernal Falls

Steep stairs up to Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls baby waterfall

Within 45 minutes we were at the top of Vernal falls. I think this was one of my favorite moments of the hike. The sunlight was just coming over the other mountains and the air was damp and cool. It was quiet and not full of people.

We took a quick photo break and kept on. Our next “monument” was Nevada Falls. This required climbing a handful of stone step switchbacks. E and I felt like we were on an adult playground climbing up and over rocks alongside this massive waterfall.

Hiking Nevada Falls

Hiking Nevada Falls

This is the point where the Mist trail and John Muir trail meet. There was also a bathroom here (otherwise known as a big hole in the ground with 4 walls around it) that we used. This is the last “real bathroom” on the trail to Half Dome.

The next 1-2 miles were a nice break. They were flat and featured more open land. It was nice to get a bit of a break.


After about 2-2.5 hours into the hike we approached the part of the trail that I like to call “Switchbacks for Days” because it is about 2 miles of very uphill switchbacks that lead to the base of the sub dome. There are many places to rest here and I advise that you do. You will need your legs and strength for the sub dome. This is also where you can more clearly get a glimpse of the cables (eek!).

The sub dome is quite a beast. While it’s only a .25 miles long, it is VERY steep and full of very narrow stair switchbacks. So if you’re afraid of heights this could be scary. If it helps, I was actually less terrified than I thought I would be? There is a point where the stairs just disappear and you start to free climb straight up the rock face. The surface provides a lot of grip, so I just stayed very low to the ground a la ninja-style.

Hiking the Subdome

Hiking the Subdome

Once you reach the top of the sub dome you are faced with 400 feet of cables. Just put your head down and go. Don’t think about it. That’s what I had to do. I started first and E was right behind me. I chose to use the right side of the cables to pull myself up while E used both cables. He said I looked awkward and uncomfortable (I mean, hello, I was climbing a near vertical angle at 8,000+ feet with sheer cliffs on either side of me!) but it worked for me.HD_Pano


There were only 2 people ahead of us and we never caught up to them so there was no backup. I took my time. One wooden plank after another. There was a point about halfway up where the climb became very steep. I did not like this part, but kept my head down and used my “you’ve got this” mantra. E was very encouraging this whole time because he knew I was scared. It took us about 15 – 20 minutes to summit. Finally! At the top!


Yosemite Valley all the way down there!

Yosemite Valley all the way down there!

At the top it was truly a beautiful site. It didn’t even feel real. The top is much bigger than you might have expected and you can look out in all directions and see over the valley. At one point we were actually standing on the infamous diving board, but didn’t even know it until afterwards. We spent about 15 minutes admiring the view and our accomplishment, but truthfully I was dreading the descent down the cables.


The descent was hard. Not harder than the ascent, but not easier. Just different. This is where you want good shoes with a solid grip.


We did it! After this, we were on a high and had fun hiking all the way back down to the valley.

As mentioned above, on our descent we took the John Muir trail back down because we wanted to save our knees on the steep decline. There is also a lot more foot traffic on the Mist trail in the afternoon as Vernal and Nevada Falls are very popular day hikes. The John Muir trail was definitely longer. It felt like it went on, but we had some beautiful scenery to distract us.

At the top of Nevada Falls

At the top of Nevada Falls

We eventually made it down to the trail head. All-in-all it took us about 8.5-9 hours. We were exhausted and tired by the end of it all, but on such an adrenaline high. We climbed Half Dome!

We did it! Please excuse my "tough" face that came out very duck-like

We did it! Please excuse my “tough” face that came out very duck-like


In case you are interested in doing this for yourself, here are some details that I hope you find helpful:

Permits and the Lottery System: Due to increased traffic and dangerous conditions, permits to climb the cables were mandated in 2010. There is a lottery system that you must enter in order to obtain a permit to climb the cables (more on the cables below). The lottery opens at the beginning of March and closes at the end of April. You are notified by mid-April before the cables are put up right before memorial day. You are able to pre-select 7 different days from May – October that you would like to climb Half Dome. They only grant about 225 permits total per day. Both E and I entered the lottery and I was not selected for any of my dates, but luckily E was selected for one day – his 4th choice. There is also a daily lottery with 50 spots. These permits will be available based on the estimated rate of under-use and cancellation of permits. You can read more here.

 What are the cables? The cables are 400 feet of thick, steel braided cables that were originally constructed in 1919 (obviously repaired and renewed since then!). They are installed by the National Park Service in late May and can be used through early October when they are taken down.

Distance: There are a couple of trail routes on the way up and down to the Half Dome, but our journey took us about 17-18 miles. We took the Mist trail up part of the way (2.6 miles) before it joined the John Muir trail and instead of taking the Mist trail back down, we took the longer and less hill-y John Muir trail down (3.7 miles).

Should you do it? YES! If you have the opportunity and love nature, beauty, hiking and getting a huge sense of accomplishment I cannot recommend it more.

 Tips for Hiking:

  • Obtain a permit!
  • Train if you can. We live in the Bay Area so we hiked the North Peak of Mt. Diablo a few times as well as Mission Peak. We are both fairly active otherwise, so as long as you are physically and mentally prepared for hills, hills and more hills followed by steep, narrow stairs and an epic climb using a lot of upper body strength you have nothing to worry about 😉
  • Start early. We started at 5:30am while it was dark, but by the time we reached the summit there were only 2 other people on the cables (vs. when we descended a half hour later there were about 15 people ascending).
  • Fuel your body and bring enough water! We took about 3L each.
  • Bring layers. Depending on what time of year you hike you will experience temperature changes – especially ascending over 4,000 feet. I brought a jacket (which I quickly removed) and had a long-sleeved shirt over a tank top. On our way down I removed the long-sleeved shirt. I was happy I had enough layers. I am a wimp with temperatures.
  • Have proper hiking shoes. I cannot stress this enough! Half Dome is a big slab of smooth granite. The cable portion has been hiked for almost 100 years so the surface is smooth and slick. I bought these Merrell shoes and I loved them. I felt safe, secure and supported in these shoes.
  • Use a backpack with hydration pack. This is not essential, but I personally loved having it.
  • Bring gloves with neoprene grips for the cables. You simply cannot do this without gloves (IMHO). There is also a pile of gloves at the base of the cables where people recycle them after they are done with the cables. So you could rely on using those, but I recommend spending a few dollars and bringing your own. Simple garden gloves will do! Ours were about $5 from ACE hardware.
  • HAVE FUN! Take lots of pictures. We wore a GoPro camera going up the cables and it is so great to have that as a souvenir of our journey.
  • You can camp overnight in Little Yosemite Valley (about halfway between the valley floor and Half Dome) if you want to break up the hike. We did not do that as we wanted to get it covered in one day.

Where we stayed:

Yosemite Lodge at the Falls – This was perfect. It was right in the Valley so we were only about 2 miles from the trail head. We wanted to cut down on driving time in the morning, so this was a perfect option for us. I recommend staying in the Valley if you can. There are only a few hotels but a handful of places to camp.

The view from our room on our patio. Beautiful!

The view from our room on our patio. Beautiful!

Where we ate:

Curry Village Pizza Deck – Pretty decent pizza and a full bar! Good for a post-hike reward.

What I wore:


Gear I used:


Hello World

A feeling has been working its way through my brain over the past 6-9 months. I continue to read blogs on a daily basis, and love to get a peek into other’s lives, get exposure to ideas, ways of thinking, recipes, outfits, workouts, books (I could go on forever). I feel as though I’ve been friends with many of these bloggers for years while silently sitting behind my phone screen, scrolling through post after post.

I started blogging in 2009 after finding a small niche of healthy living blogs. I kept it up for about a year or so, posting a couple of times a week while I was a receptionist at an advertising agency (i.e. I had the free time). I really, really enjoyed it. I liked it because it was an outlet for me to write about my life, my workouts, and my nutrition and in a way it held me accountable for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And I still credit this community for influencing my lifestyle.

First 10k, June 2013

First 10k, June 2013

What I like about blogs are the individual personalities and different passions that shine. There is no one size fits all, and there is always something to learn.

I was first introduced to Orangetheory Fitness through Gina and Ashley. Once a studio opened up near me I immediately signed up because of these ladies’ reviews. I am now an OTF junky and credit it to changing my body and how I fuel it (more on this in another post).

I have added many beautiful and mostly affordable additions to my closet thanks to many stylish ladies. I am attempting to create a Capsule Wardrobe for the fall.

I have learned countless makeup and skincare tips and tricks. And how to contour (I think), shape brows and deep clean my pores.

I have been inspired by many braids, buns and effortless ponytails.

I have bookmarked or Pinned hundreds of vegan and vegetarian recipes. Discovered cauliflower pizza, spaghetti squash and how to turn those empty wine bottles into décor for my apartment.

I was introduced to Blue Apron, White Plum and Shakeology.

Essentially I was introduced to a lot of people that influence my current everyday life.

I want to return the favor.

So here I am.


Mac N’ Cheese Please

Ever since I can remember my favorite food has been macaroni and cheese.

It used to be of the blue box variety. Spirals, shapes, mixed with hot dogs, you name it. I ate it.

Sometimes I went for the Velveeta option. Actually, in college, it was pretty normal for me to eat an entire box (!!!) of Velveeta macaroni and cheese after long hours studying in the library. With a can of dr. pepper. In my bed. Watching Sex and the City on DVD.Yes, I went there.

It’s just something about that cheesy, gooey sound when you stir together thick cheese sauce and hot noodles. You know what sound I’m talking about. Mm. Yeah.

However, since I’ve become much more aware of the food I put in my body, I’ve taken a step back to shy away from processed food as much as possible. Especially ingredients that I cannot read, pronounce, or that sound like an evil chemical or STD. Seriously read some of the scary ingredients on processed food labels and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Now-a-days I’ll make my macaroni and cheese from scratch, or if I’m feeling lazy and don’t have the time, I’ll cook up a batch of Annie’s Organic White Cheddar macaroni and cheese. At least the ingredient list is short and sweet, and consists of real food I can recognize.

So last week I was craving the creamy, cheesy noodle dish and planned to make it this week. I decided to go with a fool-proof recipe that I’ve made a few times now, and happens to be one of Eric’s FAVORITE things I have ever made. The original recipe came from Angela at OhSheGlows, and get this – it’s 100% vegan. I kid you not, it still is one of the tastiest macaroni and cheese dishes I have ever had and there is not one shred of cheese in the entire thing. How does she do it? I don’t know, but I’m so glad she does!

The recipe is somewhat intimidating at first glance, but after I’ve made it a few times now, I can practically do it with my eyes closed. Once I found nutritional yeast (bulk bin at Whole Foods), my life has not been the same. In case you have never heard of this nutritional powerhouse that has a nutty, cheesy taste (aha! that’s where the cheesy flavor shines through), here is a little bit of background from Wikipedia:

It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins and is a complete protein. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium. Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of parmesan cheese. Another popular use is as a topping for popcorn. It can also be used in mashed and fried potatoes, as well as putting it into scrambled tofu or eggs. Some movie theaters offer it along with salt or cayenne pepper as a popcorn condiment.

I love that not only is it tasty, but it’s a complete protein and averages about 60 calories and 8.5 grams of protein per 2 heaping tablespoons. Sign me up. Douse tortilla chips with it. Bathe in it. Just go out and try it. Or better yet, try this recipe!

Tastiest Faux Mac N’ Cheese

(adapted from this recipe from OhSheGlows)

  • 1/2 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 of a large white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/5 c of raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • juice of 1 juicy lemon (about 1/3 cup)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 heaping Tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 tsp of mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c of bread crumbs (or make your own vegan breadcrumbs like Angela)
  • 2 cups dry, uncooked pasta. I love to use whole wheat rotini
  • Paprika for garnish
    Start by chopping the onion, carrots and potato. Once chopped, add to a small sauce pan and fill with water until the vegetables are just covered. 
    Bring water to boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes). You should also now preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) as well as bring enough water to a boil to cook the pasta. Once the pasta water is ready, cook pasta according to package directions. Strain and set aside. Meanwhile,  get out your cute little food processor (note: I have a four cup food processor, and it’s almost too small to handle the cheese sauce, but it works! If you have a larger one I recommend using this). Add the cashews to the food processor and process until the cashews form fine crumbs.
    Don’t go overboard here! Then add in the remaining cheese sauce ingredients and process until smooth (milk, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, mustard and salt and pepper).
    Once vegetables are done, drain and rinse under cold water. Add the vegetables to the food processor (this is when mine is about to overflow), and process until smooth.
    Then stick your finger in and taste this deliciously, faux cheesy sauce (seriously how is there no cheese in this?!?).Now here is the fun part! Mix the cooked pasta with the cheese sauce and pour into a greased casserole dish.
    Top with breadcrumbs and a touch of paprika for the beautiful color.
    Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove from oven and let cool (if you can handle to wait. this is when Eric gets impatient). Then dish up!
    You will be so happy you made this dish!

    In other news. I got two new books yesterday! Pictures of You and A Secret Kept (same author of Sarah’s Key – one of my favorite books of all time).

      I started Pictures of You last night after reading Jenna’s review. 50 pages in and I am already hooked! In fact, I tweeted how obsessed with the book I am and the author contacted me to send me a bookplate! WOW! Social media is AWESOME.
      Go read. Go eat. Enjoy your Wednesday.

      Here are a few FUN things I’ve stumbled across today:

    Morning Workout Motivators (from my favorite bloggers!)

    Peanut Butter Fudge Stuffed Cupcakes from How Sweet Eats (I mean HELLO YUM I need to make these stat)

    The Best Ever Stir-fry

    The weekend has come to and end. It’s Monday. I’m tired and desperately waiting for Friday to approach. I had such a great weekend that I want another one –stat!

    It all started with a fabulous little Friday evening in with Eric. I made some stir fry using Emily’s healthy peanut sauce recipe. Seriously this sauce is so good. I’ve made it so many times, and now add my own touches such as minced garlic and fresh ginger. This is one of Eric’s favorite meals, and every time we make it there are NEVER leftovers.

    Eric’s Favorite Stir-fry


    Stir-fry Ingredients:

    • 1 package broccoli slaw
    • 1 package Tofu Shirataki spaghetti noodles
    • 1 package extra firm tofu, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
    • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
    • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
    • 1 T freshly grated ginger
    • 1 T mined garlic
    • peanuts for garnish
    • Peanut sauce (see below for recipe)

    Peanut Sauce ingredients:

    • 1/4 c peanut flour (Trader Joe’s carries this. It’s AMAZING)
    • 2 T soy sauce
    • 1 T sesame oil
    • 1 T rice wine vinegar
    • 3 T water
    • dashes of garlic and ginger powder
    • Start by draining the extra water from the tofu. If you’re fancy, use a tofu press. If you’re me and cry because you don’t have a tofu press, use every heavy book you can to sit on top of the tofu wrapped in a towel in between two cutting boards or cookie sheets to absorb the excess moisture.

      There really is tofu under this huge pile of alcoholic beverage books – I swear. While your tofu is being pressed (approximately 10 minutes), prepare and chop all of the vegetables (onions, garlic, bell pepper, ginger and garlic). After about 10 minutes time (longer is better) spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray and turn up the heat to medium.
      Sauté your 1 inch cube pieces of tofu until they are browned on one side – approximately 5 minutes. Flip the tofu and continue to brown. About 5 more minutes.
      Meanwhile, sauté your onions and garlic in another large pan. Sauté over medium-low heat about 5-10 minutes until onions are translucent. Add in the bell peppers, broccoli slaw, ginger and let the veggies cook down about 10 minutes or so. Reduce heat to low and add in tofu and rinsed shirataki noodles. 
      Whisk together all peanut sauce ingredients in a bowl. Stir into tofu/veggie/noodle mixture. Serve in bowls and topped with chopped green onions and peanuts. You can make this so many ways with any vegetables or meat you have on hand. That’s why I love this recipe – it’s so versatile!

    In an effort  to make more dinners for Eric during the week I’ve created a meal plan for this week!

    Sunday: Tofu enchiladas + black bean cilantro rice

    Monday: Vegan Mac N’ Cheese

    Tuesday: Protein Power Salad

    Wednesday: Sweet potato flax balls + cauliflower and brussel sprouts gratin

    Thursday: Free for all – any leftovers, etc.

    Friday: Chicken and broccoli stir-fry (clearly we love our stir fry)

    Do you like to meal plan? I find it helps me keep my grocery bill in check as well as give me something to look forward to all day! I love coming home to cook dinner after a stressful day.