Day Two

Good evening! How are you all this beautiful Friday evening? I for one could not be happier about being in bed and under the covers at 11:30 on a Friday night, away from the blustery cold and a long day.  I’m a little too comfortable… I’ll be very proud of myself if I make it through this whole post without nodding off!

We ended up making rich mugs of hot chocolate last night before we went to sleep (I’m not sure there’s a more perfect nightcap on the market) using Jacques Torres’ hot chocolate.

Ari was in charge of the preparation….

He did a pretty good job.

The chocolate was very thick and filling, almost like a pudding.  I topped mine with marshmallows and cinnamon.

It knocked me right out, and I fell asleep almost immediately.   Although I’ve been getting less rest than usual this past week, I bounded out of bed as soon as my alarm went off.  Must be the pre-work jitters!

I made another rich breakfast, hoping it would hold me well into the morning: 5 grain cereal with ground flax, cinnamon, 1 small banana, warmed frozen berries, almond butter and agave.

I got to the office right on time, ready to start Day 2 of training.  Did I mention I have my own office? 😀   Around 11:30 my stomach was growling pretty loudly, so I dug around in my purse for a snack.  Unfortunately I was a little distracted last night and didn’t have time to pack a lunch or snacks, but luckily I found a Date Heart Thrive hidden away!

We broke for lunch around 1:30 and I dashed out to grab a salad.  Hopefully I’ll be able to plan better in the future… I can’t spend $11 every day for a mediocre meal!  I had a mixed green salad with marinated mushrooms, tofu, avocado, asparagus, and chili lime vinaigrette.  It was pretty blah.

I needed a little pick-me-up, so I visited the fancy coffee machine in the communal pantry.

We’re running low, but there are so many flavors to choose from! Each cup is brewed “to order”, with the push of a button.  Pretty cool, hmm?

I spent the rest of the day trying to learn as much as possible from my trainer… I’m on my own starting Monday!

After work, I met my Little Redheaded Friend for dinner.  We went to Friend House 2 (I was very sad to discover that the original Friendhouse, one block over, had closed within the last month 😦 ) for Japanese.

We started with miso soup:

For my entrée, I strayed from my usual order (sashimi) and ordered a roll combination instead.  I must have been craving carbs!  By the time I finished my Sweet Potato, California, and Spicy Tuna rolls, I was thoroughly stuffed.

Kalle and I sat and chatted for a little while and let our tums settle before making our way to Whole Foods for dessert.  We’d originally wanted to go to a proper coffee or dessert shop, but it was so cold and windy out that we just decided to take refuge in the supermarket.  I got a “Caramelita bar”, which tastes like a cross between a Hello Dolly/Magic/7 Layer bar and Pecan Pie.

This was as big as it looks, and then some.  I’d broken it in half and had fully planned on saving the rest for later, but we were in the store for almost an hour and I ended up nibbling the whole thing. It was a little too rich for me, but it was still very tasty.

Well, I made it through the post without falling asleep!  I’m watching A Christmas Tale while I wait for Ari to get home, but it’s a pretty long movie my chances of finishing it are slim.  What are your favorite holiday movies?

Have a great weekend!



So, that’s my big news… I got a job! I got the call while I was literally on the way to the airport to go to Russia.  As you can imagine, it made the trip a lot more relaxing and stress-free.  Obviously I won’t get into any real details about the position, but I will say that it’s in the publishing field, which I’ve always dreamed of entering.  And guess what? Today was my very first day of work!

I thought breakfast should be special, so I used some of all of my favorite ingredients: banana, cinnamon, dark chocolate chips, lemon curd, pumpkin butter and flaxy peanut butter.

Mixed in with oats, it made for one rich bowl of oatmeal!  I actually found myself in the rare situation where I could not finish my meal.

I spent the day training with the employee who’d held the position before me. It was actually pretty fun! I do have to say, though: there is a lot to learn.   My trainer and I broke for lunch around 1:00 in the conference room.  I’d packed a sandwich made with Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin bread, hummus, a Dr. Praeger’s Texas veggie burger, mustard, spinach and sprouts.

I also had a Pineapple-flavored Chobani and a cup of hazelnut coffee with skim milk (our office kitchen has a fancy-shmancy coffee maker; each cup is brewed to your taste).  I saved the carrots and ate them at 4:30.

I left work at 5:30 and headed straight home to make dinner.  There hadn’t been time to do any prep work the night before so I knew we wouldn’t be eating for a little while; I snacked on a blueberry bar.

Ari just came home from tour last night (after being away for three weeks) and Ilana was coming for dinner so I wanted to make us a nice dinner.  We had mushroom lasagna (which we’ve deemed “Lucky Lasagna”) and steamed green beans.

There’s a rumor of hot chocolate in bed, so I’m going to sign off.  I’ve got to get myself onto a “working” schedule! I’ll try and be a better blog friend this weekend.

Bonne nuit 🙂

From Russia, With Love

Здравствуйте, друзья!  How have you been? It seems like such a long time, but I was only in Russia for a week.  It was a quick trip, but one that- if you’ll forgive the wording- was life-changing.  My dad and I traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg, packing as much into each day as humanly possible.  We soaked up culture, food, and a little vodka 😉

Although Moscow felt like one of the most “foreign” places I’ve been, there are, unsurprisingly, a number of American chains…

This is the biggest MacDonald’s in Moscow.

One day, while my dad was working, I ventured out onto Tverskaya Street (one of the biggest boulevards in Moscow) to explore on my own.  While the city streets are perfectly safe, the sidewalks are separated by 8 lanes of traffic that move at different times and speeds.

There is next to nothing that would convince me to drive here.  What would be a 10 minute walk can take over an hour in slow-moving traffic.

Instead of crossing, pedestrians use underpasses to get from one street to the other.

Underground, the walls are lined with stores that sell everything from tchotkes to malt liquor.

After getting turned around in the underpasses more than a few times (few people speak English), I finally made my way to Red Square, home of the Kremlin, Lenin’s Tomb, the GUM department store and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, among other sights.

What else does Russia have that the US doesn’t? For now, Sarah!

We had so much fun together.  We chatted, ate, frolicked at the Museum of the Revolution…

… at the zoo…

… she even took me to one of her classes!  I think I may have convinced her students to try mixing peanut butter into their kasha (oatmeal).

While Moscow did have a lot of beautiful areas, there was an undeniable shadow cast over the city leftover from Soviet times.  St. Petersburg, on the other hand, felt rich and luxurious; there were colorful buildings and palaces that, thanks to recent restorations, seemed almost untouched by war and dictatorship.

On our last night in Russia, my dad and I went to the famous Mariinsky Theater to see the opera “The Marriage of Figaro.”  While operas may not be quite my cup of tea (yet), it was incredible to be in such a beautiful, culturally rich space.

The pickings for a vegetarian (or pescatarian) were slim, and my snacks from home came in very handy.

Our hotel, luckily, had an amazing breakfast that held me for hours.

Soups were also a safe bet, and very tasty.

Traditional Russian salads are not made with leafy greens, but either tossed with mayonnaise or olive oil, like this one with tomato, cucumber, dill, and chives.

I encountered several “pancake” dishes, stuffed with cheese or mushrooms.  The dough was sweet, like a crêpe.

Vegetable and meat-stuffed pies are also a specialty.  They are ornate, and are made with a similar sweet-tasting dough.

Our best meal in Moscow was, ironically, at an Italian/Russian restaurant.  I had a rich bowl of homemade gnocchi with smoked ricotta, and ate every bite.

The best meal in St. Petersburg was at a Georgian restaurant.  The cuisine is almost Mediterranean, and uses more vegetables than traditional Russian fare.  This appetizer platter, for example, had lightly roasted carrots and eggplant, two kinds of nutmeats, and pomegranate.  A raw foodist would approve!

We also dined on hachapuri, a Georgian bread similar to pizza.

One of their desserts, made with grapes, tastes like a combination of jelly and pudding.

Speaking of desserts, we did not skimp in the sweet department.  We tried the Duke’s Ruins, a nut cake made with prunes, as well as many chocolate varieties.  The tap water isn’t safe to drink, so more often than not, the fruit garnishes went uneaten.

We sampled interesting juices, like raspberry, blueberry, and pumpkin!

And what’s more festive than hot mulled wine?

The food was interesting, and while it may not have been my favorite, it was fun to sample traditional Russian cuisine.  However, I’m looking forward to eating vegetables again and being able to hydrate at will! It was an amazing trip that I’ll never forget.  I haven’t been able to spend as much time with my dad recently, and it was so nice to travel and experience a new culture together.

I’ve got a busy week ahead of me now that I’m back.  Sunday is my 15k race; while I was able to use the gym in Moscow and complete two treadmill workouts (2 miles and 5 miles), I didn’t get my long run in on Sunday.  I did, however, wake up and crank out 8 miles yesterday… the farthest I’ve ever gone!  There were times when I felt like giving up and going home, but then I imagined how happy and satisfied I’d feel when I was done.  I’m a little nervous about Sunday’s race; I’ve never run 9.3 miles before! Running 8 yesterday gave me a little more confidence, though, and I’m not aiming for speed or a specific time, I’m running to finish.

Please accept my apologies in advance as I take time to get settled.  I do have some news I’m excited to share with you tomorrow!  Hope you’re having a great week 🙂

Whole Wide World

Important! While I’m in Russia, the site will be under construction for a day or two.  In order to stay in the loop, please update your readers to include  Thanks, and sorry for the inconvenience!

Morning!  So sorry about disappearing last night… I was so exhausted that I was in bed, asleep at 9:30!  I don’t know when the last time I woke up naturally at 7:30 feeling well-rested and ready for the day, but it was great 🙂

Yesterday I had a long run scheduled, so I fueled up with a slice of Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin toast spread with almond butter, 1/4 banana and a drizzle of honey.

While I drank a mug of coffee and digested a little, I opened my prize from a contest I won over at my friend Meghan’s blog, Lila Puppy.  (You may recall that my mom and I went to Utah back in August to attend Meghan’s beautiful wedding.)

The prize? Hand-knit beer cozies and a wrist cuff!

As much as I wanted to drink beer at 10 AM, I didn’t think I was quite hardcore enough to chug before a run.   I cozied my water instead.

My 15K race is two weeks from yesterday, so it’s really important that I log my miles.  I set out with a good playlist, ready to run.  (Yes, I’ve had the song “Whole Wide World” in my head for the last month! And I am in desperate need of new music.)

I took a roundabout route through Riverside Park (up, down, and back up again) to make sure that I got my 7 miles in.  I ran at a slow and steady pace; when going on a long run, it’s more important to go the distance than hit a specific time. My energy started lagging and I got a little lightheaded around mile 6, so I stopped and sucked down half of a banana-flavored Hammer gel.  The flavor was pretty good and tasted like real bananas, but I think in the future I’d prefer something more natural (and cheaper), so it looks like I’ll be making Angela’s 50 Cent All Natural Homemade Energy Gel soon!

When I got home I felt completely drained and exhausted, but I did it!!! I used MapMyRun to calculate the approximate distance, and it turns out I ran closer to 7.5 miles!!!

Total distance: 7.5 miles

Total time: 1:15:41

Average pace: 10:05 minutes/mile <— not bad for a long run!

I was very pleased with my stats.  While my mom made lunch,  I somehow kept myself awake long enough to do an 8-minute abs practice.  Then I charged into the dining room to wolf down this salad (spinach, apples, cauliflower, walnuts, hard-boiled egg & leftover Brussels sprouts).

We were going to a Sunday matinee, so there wasn’t too much time to dilly-dally with my shower and dressing.  I really could have just put my head down on the table and gone to sleep, so we stopped on the way to the theater to pick up some coffee.  (Sorry about the blur; this was taken on a moving subway car.)

Good thing I was caffeinated, because we were sitting right in the front row of “The Story of a Childhood”, the first installment of Horton Foote’s The Orphans’ Home Cycle.

The play was really good.  I’d seen the last installment of the Cycle about 10 years ago, and it was was interesting to see it a little out of order.

My energy started to lag again, but we came prepared with clementines, dark chocolate, and slices of Criterion apples…

… and I did not fall asleep.  My dad has a theory about escaping jet lag that involves taking 1/3 of a tablet of Melatonin- what I take when I need a little extra help falling asleep- at 5 PM the day before a flight, and I’m sure that didn’t help my fatigue one bit!

By the time the play was over I was starving again (I guess a 7.5 mile run will do that to you!) so I dug around in my purse and came up with a Chocolate Heart Thrive Cake.

We stopped to run some last-minute errands for the trip on the way home, and as soon as I walked in our front door I made a bee-line for my bed, where I stayed until dinner was ready.  My dad made a fabulous dinner: Cajun-spiced grilled salmon with a cucumber accompaniment, kale sautéd with shallots

… and a sweet potato with brown sugar.

We had Deep Chocolate and Black Mission Fig goat’s milk ice cream for dessert…

… which of course was incomplete without a little hot fudge.

The dessert was like a lullaby, and I went right to sleep after dinner.

Well, we’re leaving for Moscow in just a few hours! I’m not quite sure what the internet situation will be like over there, but I know that posting will NOT be regular.   I will have e-mail, though, so if you send me your Russian questions I’ll do my very best to answer them!

Have a fabulous week 🙂

Keeping It Classy

Back again from a very short but lovely visit with Ari’s family in Maryland.   Of course I wish Ari could have been there himself, but his parents are warm, welcoming, and put me completely at ease.

As soon as I was picked up from the bus stop we drove to one of their favorite Italian restaurants for dinner.  We split an order of fresh bruschetta (crusty bread topped withtomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and what Ilana claims to be the best tomato sauce on earth).

I ordered freshly-caught Rock Fish from the Chesapeake Bay (with lemon and olive oil sauce on the side)…

… and a side order of linguine marinara.

This was the same restaurant we came to two years ago, when I was meeting Ari’s family for the first time.  Time flies!  After dinner, the girls went to see New Moon (the movie wasn’t quite Ari’s dad’s style).  I’ve only read the first two Twilight books, saw the first movie, and did not have high hopes for this one.  But… I really liked it!  My friends who have read all four books say that Book 2 is the weakest, but I really think Stephanie Meyer nailed Bella’s heartbreak in both the book and the movie.

This morning we all got up early, had breakfast, and got ready for a bridal shower.  The food spread was pretty grand.  We had Beth’s Famous Zucchini-Wrapped Salmon (I helped with the zucchini and dill garnish):

Three different kinds of quiche (spinach, mushroom & cheese), croissants, salad, pasta salad, cheese, crackers, hummus

I ate my fill and then some more.

We had a chocolate fountain with fruit, marshmallows, and pretzels for dipping…

And did I metnion there were Jello shots?

To keep things classy, we also had hot apple cider (warmed in a crock pot) spiked with Goldschlager.

This was my first bridal shower, and it was a lot of fun! I’m sure there will be many more to come.

I ate leftovers on the bus ride back to New York, and feel like I haven’t stopped eating since before the holidays!  It’s kind of nice, since these were all meals I spent with people I love and are thankful for even when it’s not a holiday.  The trip home was very productive… thanks to my good friend Mr. Dramamine, I read Elements of Style in its entirety and moved on to The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society. Nothing really signals that the holidays have arrived like having the time to curl up with a good book.  What’s the best thing you’ve read recently?

As some of you know, I’m headed off to Russia on Monday to spend 10 days with my dad and Sarah.  While I’m gone, are there any burning questions you have about Russian culture, history or food that you’d like me to try to investigate? I’m at your service! Sarah’s informed me that while there will probably be fish available at every restaurant, strictly vegetarian options will be harder to come by.  I’ll let you know how I fare.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

An Intimate Thanksgiving

Good morning and happy Black Friday!  Who’s shopping the sales? You know, in all of my 22 years (I’m ancient, I know ;-), I don’t think I’ve ever gone shopping the Friday after Thanksgiving.  The crowds sound terrible! I heard on the radio that some stores opened as early as midnight, 3 and 4 AM. Craziness!  I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings, whatever you did.  We had a very nice day, but by the time we got home last night I was so tired that I went right to sleep!

Yesterday morning I was up at 8, with the full intention to go for a run early in the morning.  Well… that didn’t quite work out.  I was really tired, and wanted to relax a little around the house.  Around 9:30, I made a protein shake using the Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Tera’s Whey Protein powder (which I won from one of Holly‘s contests), frozen strawberries, and skim milk.

It was good, but needed a little something.  Over-ripe banana it was!

The result was perfect: rich, chocolatey, and with the slightest hint of fruit.

Around 10:45 I finally got my act together: I laced up, piled on the layers, and went for a run.  According to my training schedule I needed to run 5 miles and work on speedwork.  Because my heart rate monitor doesn’t have GPS and not all of the streets are marked in Riverside Park, I had to approximate “2 x 1600 @ 8:47”.  Basically, I warmed up with a mile, ra really fast for 4 minutes, resumed a regular pace, ran fast around a mini-track for 3 laps, and ran slowly home again.  Not ideal, but it got the job done.  How do you concentrate on speedwork when you’re not on a treadmill or a calibrated path?

When I got home, I had a quick lunch: salad and miso soup leftover from my bento box.

I iced my knees (I’m trying to get in the habit of doing this after every run that’s longer than 2 miles) and helped my mom with our caramel pecan rolls.

We make these “sticky buns” every year (recipe can be found here), and they’re always a hit.

It was very hard not to dig in before the feast!

I wanted to bring something vegetarian, so I made Heidi Swanson’s Carmelized Tofu & Brussels Sprouts recipe.  I’ve made this a few times… I just love this.

Everyone (besides me) is carnivorous, so I wanted to make a sweet recipe that would make tofu a little less intimidating.

We got to George & Judy’s house, and went straight upstairs to look at the view from the top apartment in their building.

Note: when lusting after a piece of real estate, speak in earnest and rub your palms together with enthusiasm.

Fondle the exposed brick…

… and allow your photo to be taken, however camera-shy you may be.

We went back downstairs to partake in cocktails and appetizers.

I was very excited to see Cowgirl Creamery cheese, which I’d coveted from the re-caps of the Foodbuzz Food Festival.

I may have overdone it on the crudités… my stomach was upset for most of dinner 😦

Jack on the rocks made it a little better…

… and the company almost healed me.

The turkey was lovely.

We ate buffet-style…

… and I loaded my plate to the max with red cabbage with apples, rutabaga, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, my Brussels sprouts & tofu, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and a sticky bun.

I didn’t know if I’d be hungry for dessert, but I managed to pack in slivers of pumpkin and pecan pie, with a little homemade whipped cream.

It was another fabulous Thanksgiving.  Can’t wait to see how you celebrated!

I’m off to scrounge for leftovers and head to Ari’s family’s house (though he will not be there).  Have a great weekend!

LVP’s Thanksgiving 2008

Back In Time

As of 3 minutes ago, it’s officially Thanksgiving! I’m cozy at home in my bed, surrounded by my stuffed animals, Polaroids from high school, and hundreds of books, among other things. What was your childhood bedroom like?

Speaking of childhood, I got a fun e-mail from my friend Jenny at 8 this morning while I was sipping on my coffee. Jenny is hands-down my oldest friend; our mothers grew up together, and although Jenny and I have been separate by half a country for our entire lives and only get to see each other once a year, we’ve always been close. When my grandfather was still living, my parents and I visited him in Indianapolis every winter between Christmas and New Year’s; this photo is from the winter of 1988. (That’s me on the right, with the bowl cut.)

Here we are this past summer, in Lake Michigan.

I miss her so much during the year. We look forward to our week on the lake so much!

After my trip down memory lane, I made a quick breakfast: Ezekiel English muffin with almond butter and a banana, raspberry jam on one side and pumpkin butter on the other.

I went to the post office to mail something; it didn’t open until 10 (which seems a little later) but there was a machine that got the job done. Then to physical therapy I went! It as a particularly good appointment. I learned some new exercises to stretch my hips; I can easily do them from the hotel room in Russia. After PT I raced back home to eat lunch before I had to turn right back around and go to an interview. I made a quick salad:

In the mix:

It was one of the rare occasions where I could not finish my meal. Usually, once I’ve dished a certain amount of food out, I will eat every last scrap even if I’ve long since reached capacity. (Last night’s pasta plate was an example of this.) However, today I started getting a stomachache about partway through, and just picked out what I wanted (roast vegetables, tofu, hummus), leaving a fair amount of spinach.

I felt guilty about throwing the rest out (I won’t be back at the house for two weeks), but it was better than making myself sick. As it was, my tum hurt for the next two hours. My eyes are bigger than my head sometimes, and I think the most important thing I need to remember to do is slow down while I’m eating. I’ve been so rushed these past few weeks that although I’ve been eating foods I love, I’ve barely tasted them as I’ve had to practically inhale them to get from appointment to appointment on time. It’ll be nice to have a little break 🙂

There’s always room for sweets, though! I had a couple of these strawberry gummy candies from the Japanese grocery store in our neighborhood. Not bad!

I was starving after my interview. Luckily I had about four different snacks in my bag, so I ate one of the apple-flavored Heart Thrive bars that I was sent to review. I’ll do a formal review once I’ve sampled all of the products, but I liked this a lot!

When I got home I folded laundry and did some preparatory packing for my trip to Russia. I am one of the worst packers ever. I always take too much and forget crucial items, like spare contact lenses or pajama pants. Do you have any fool-proof (or LVP proof!) packing tips?

I snacked on some Concord grapes that were about to go bad while I waited for my dad to help me pack some things up. These grapes are really addicting. There are seeds, which I thought I wouldn’t like, but are actually kind of fun to work through and take longer to eat. Plus, these are the kind of grapes used to make grape juice, so they’re the perfect combination of sweet + tart.

While my dad was at a holiday party, my mom and I had dinner at watched Hannah And Her Sisters. Not only is this a really good Woody Allen film, but it’s told between two years’ worth of Thanksgivings! I ordered a bento box for dinner, which came with a spicy tuna roll, tempura, sashimi & shrimp shumai. (It came with rice, salad & miso soup as well, but I’m saving those for tomorrow.)

I also had a glass of Black Box Wine’s Sauvignon Blanc.

My mom brought home dessert from Billy’s Bakery, the same shop she ordered my birthday cupcakes from.

She bought one pumpkin cupcake and one pumpkin bar; we split them three ways. De-lish.

I’m off to bed. There’s a lot on the agenda tomorrow! Have a great night, a happy holiday, and safe travels wherever your day takes you.