Portland

Thinking about the Pacific Northwest makes me feel calm and content. It reminds me of my childhood, those glorious days where I lived carefree in Seattle. It makes me appreciate nature beauty to a whole different level. and it even makes me miss listening to the sound of rain.

Those thoughts are what I took to me on my trip to Portland. I passed my time by going to one coffee shop to another, reading books at Powell’s Books, and enjoying the nature around me. It was a fun-filled yet relaxing trip with my family and I do have to admit, that I actually did enjoy the Portland in the winter. It was kind of fun bundling up and experiencing winter (I know everyone in the east coast/midwest is probably laughing at me).

We stayed at the Riverplace Hotel on the Waterfront. The staff was wonderful, it was close enough to downtown but still set apart for some quiet and privacy.

Side note: Almost all the pic credits go to my brother..I really failed at taking pictures on my phone.

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There some some cute cafes near the waterfront. There was one that I was particularly fond of because they had games and crayons. I diligently started making a to-do list but then proceeded to doodling instead.

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My family loves to read so we could not have been more excited to check out Powell’s. Let’s just say a lot of Christmas shopping was done at there in the bookstore.

After Powell’s, we paused for a bit at Courier Coffee we ended up staying for a couple hours and enjoyed a nice long chat over a few lattes.

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Despite the winter cold, we made sure to enjoy Portland’s natural beauty by visiting the Multnomah Falls and Japanese Tea Garden.

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Next time, I’m visiting Portland in the summer to another kind of charm!

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Vegan Mondays

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Two years and some months ago, I came back home from studying abroad in Barcelona filled with great memories and joy. But with the good came the bad: I caught a stomach bug that made me lactose-intolerant, I had eaten so much jamon that the sight of meat made me weary, and I was just downright unhealthy. I knew I needed to change my lifestyle by focusing on my nutrition.

The thought of being completely vegan was too drastic for me so I challenged myself to eat vegan just once a week. I chose Monday because…

  1. Mondays already aren’t the most exciting day of the week so why spoil a perfectly good day, like a Friday?
  2. It gave me a chance to “cleanse” myself after a not-so-healthy weekend.
  3. In theory, I would have enough time to cook and prep on the weekends.

Eating vegan foods was challenging at first, but it pushed me to make more long-term changes to my diet. I switched from dairy milk to almond milk, started paying attention to ingredients in foods I would buy, and discovered the wonders of vegan chocolate.

Now, you can totally mess up the whole point of vegan mondays by eating oreos all day (yep, vegan), bread with margarine (yuck), and then washed that all down with high-sugar fruit juice. Trust me, I have found many loopholes. However, the reason I started this was to pay attention to my health by eating more wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables.

I continued with vegan mondays for about a year and stopped when I felt like I had a pretty solid grasp on a healthy lifestyle. However, recently I started to slip up again and needed a jump-start. Hence, the reason vegan mondays are back!

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The Mission

As a “lifestyle” blogger, I’m ashamedly bad at taking pictures of myself. It’s something I conveniently forget to do.  I decided it was time to stop making excuses and get some high-quality shots.

I went for the cliched hipster photo shoot: I had such a great time wandering The Mission with Adrienne Young, my accomplice and photographer for the day.

At Tartine’s we started off the day with creamy lattes and mouth-watering morning buns.

Adrienne captured a insta-worthy shot of latte art and pure deliciousness.

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The lighting in this at Happy Moose was absolutely stunning! Their juices were pretty bomb too.

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Ah! A classic mural shot.

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A perfect picture moment at Craftsman and Wolves. Shh don’t tell them we only went inside to take pictures…

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It was a productive morning exploring one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. And hey we got in a couple of good shots, right?

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Nike Half Marathon

Last year around this time, I ran my first half marathon and this past week, I completed my third at the Nike Women Half Marathon! I don’t think any race matches the energy of the Nike Half – the loads of free samples, the expotique, and the lovely necklace at the end make this event more than just a race.

Knowing that I already have two half marathons under my belt, I was a little less nervous this time around but equally as excited. To be fair, I was a little over-confident in my running abilities and slacked on on my training this time. I was also experiencing a lot of hip and other joint pain during my runs so I took it easy.

First off, the expotique; I stocked up with enough chocolate truffles, luna bars, and Neutrogena products to last me a while :).

We were forced to take a cheesy coursemap picture.

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The Race

I don’t know why but I didn’t bring my A-game to the race. It could have been a combination of fatigue, mental exhaustion (two half marathons in 3 months is a first for me), and the weather to be honest. It was surprisingly warm for SF and that threw me off. Regardless, it was still fun and here’s a quick recap.

Mile 0-2.9: Unlike last year where the race went through the Embarcadero, this time it went through downtown and then the Tenderloin which made me chuckle a little bit – not the most scenic beginning. We started with some mild hills which were a good way to warm up but then…mile 2 we hit a decent-sized hill and I started to think “ I’m not ready for this yet!”. It was only mile 2 and I was already breathing heavy – this was not looking good.

Mile 3-7.9: A majority of this was through the Golden Gate Park which was beautiful. What I mainly remember from was the time was thinking “Keep up with the pacers – don’t let them get away!” At one point during these miles, I already felt like taking a short break (what was happening to me!) but I kept on going.

Miles 8-Finish: Through the Presidio, the Marina and DONE! I could start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel  at mile 8 but it was no time to rejoice as I still had 5 miles left. All was going well until I hit the largest hill that came at mile 10! I’m already pretty tired and then I’m faced with this giant hurdle. Once that was over, it was all downhill/flat from here. The last two miles were fine but I didn’t really have enough energy to sprint. With mascara smeared all of over my face (thanks sweat) and legs feeling like jello, the end had finally come.

What differs drastically from last year’s race and this year’s race is that last year I had no expectations in regards to my time but this year I did. I was hoping for PR but I’ll take what I got; I ended finishing in 2:05:39 . This just means I have a goal to works towards for next year.

To wrap it up, I received my coveted Tiffany’s necklace, took my oh-so-necessary picture with the firefighters, and grabbed some more free food before I was ready to leave.

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Same as last year, I thought I’d share my running playlist from this race.

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Three Years Later

It’s funny to think about how many seemingly-useless facts we store deep in the repository of our brains. These facts stay hidden for the most part, but they are brought to life at the perfect moments.

It’s those moments when you are catching-up with a friend after three years that you all of a sudden remember the name of the adorable dog that your Spanish teacher would bring to class. Or you remember the time you hosted a gongfucha tea session in the dorms. And on a more nostalgic note, remember the last time you saw each other: at FSM sitting outside in the cold during dead week.

I hadn’t seen Ruri since she graduated and moved back to Japan. However, a few weeks ago she IMed me saying “Akansha I am in Canada!” Although normally I wouldn’t think Canada is close to California, I was so stoked because it was a lot closer than Japan and made it much easier for her to visit!

Since we only had a day to explore the city – we made sure to make it meaningful.
From Fort Mason to Dolores Park, we covered a lot of ground. Our first stop was Delarosa. We shared a feast of mussels, meatballs, pasta, and salad!

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After meandering for a while in the Marina we decided it was time for dessert which leads us to our next stop: Tartine. Not only are their pastries delicious, they are also perfect for hipster instagram shots.

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One thing Ruri reminded me not to do is take this city for granted. After playing tourist for a day, I was almost mad of myself for binge-watching Netflix for five hours the weekend before. This place is beautiful and I vow to take full-advantage of it!

Good company, good food and soon-to-be great memories!

-Akansha

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My Go-To-Breakfast: Oatmeal

oatmeal

Yep, I’m writing a post about oatmeal because it is that good. Sometimes my bowl of oats in the morning is my motivation to get out of bed. I personally think that some people get the wrong idea of oatmeal because they associate it with mushy, overly-sweet instant oatmeal.

Let me teach you how to do it right:

  • ½ cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Almond milk (I like to cook my oats in water + almond milk)
  • Berries
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Sliced almonds
  • A pinch of cinnamon

The best part is that oatmeal is good for you! Oats are high in soluble fiber, berries are loaded with antioxidants, almonds are a great source of vitamins, and flaxseeds give you your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids!

If I feel like I need more protein in my diet, I add a couple of eggs to my breakfast and I am good to go!

Hopefully I can convert you into an oatmeal lover like me.

Happy Monday :)

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Labor Day In Tahoe

Tahoe has a different feel over summer. The quaint cottages and evergreen trees that were once covered in snow seem a little bare. Skis and snowboards are replaced by mountain bikes and kayaks, and the crisp cold by a warm bright sun.

Sun. Oh how much I missed you living in foggy San Francisco. But I digress.

I love Tahoe because it allows you to create the feel of home away from home. Stay a cabin, bring a book for an evening read, cook a nice little feast and then watch movies at night. As much as I try to do these things back at home, I get caught up in a never-ending routine. I almost need an excuse for good-quality relaxation.

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We stayed in the north, just a short drive away from the lake. Suprisingly, we didn’t spend that much time near Lake Tahoe. Instead, we hiked a couple of miles to a set of different lakes near Squaw Valley. There was a steady, moderate elevation gain throughout the hike and it got a little rocky around the way, but the end was completely worth it.

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five lakes

In the evening, we had dinner at Manzanita at the Ritz. I ordered chilled avocado soup that was surprisingly tangy but delicious.

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After dinner, we made our way to the lake to watch the sunset.

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One thing I learned about myself: I cannot skip rocks if my life depended on it.

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Exploring the City – One Jog at a Time

the city from afar

Wow, first of all, thank you guys so much for all the positive feedback on my last blog post! It feels great to be back to blogging.

Today I want to talk about my love/hate relationship with running. I cannot even begin to explain the mental battle that fires off first thing in the morning:

Rinngg Riingg. Alarm goes off.
(looks out window) Ugh it looks so dreary and cold outside, I think I’m better off getting 30 minutes of sleep.
– No you idiot, you’re already up so get out and go on your run.
(wastes some time lying in bed) Ok fine.
– Good.
– Oh shit, I’ve been debating this for the past 20 minutes, if I leave now I will be late for work.
– Stop making excuses, maybe its a 3 mile run today instead of 5. Now go go GO!”

Unfortunately, it’s a regular occurrence.

But one thing that keeps me coming back to running is the sense of adventure I feel when I run outdoors. There is no better way to explore the city than by foot and it’s amazing what kind of cool things I discover during my runs.

One morning, without paying much heed to my route, I ran past Fort Mason, Ghirardelli square, and Lombard street. I felt like such a tourist – yet such an efficient one! I also came across a cute little garden.

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the golden gate

The best kind of runs are the ones in which I get lost. First I cover more distance than anticipated (win) and I discover something new (double-win). During one long-run, I traveled the long windy roads and somehow ended up in the Presidio. Not a person in sight, it was just me and Mother Nature.

the presidio
How did I leave the busy streets of San Francisco into this quaint historical haven?

It’s almost impossible for me to go on a run without taking pictures.

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Change

Pensive

During the past few weeks I’ve been debating whether I want to come back to this blog. So much has changed in these past few months that I felt like I couldn’t do justice to blogging.

What do I say? How do I get back to this blogging business?

I’ll start with this:

I become quiet during change. Quiet as in I disappear from this blog for 5 months. Occasionally, I would take this blog out of the dark depths of my closet, wipe off the dust, and draft a post. But the posts never came to life. Other times I would take a quick peek to see if people were still stopping by. It was encouraging to find that there were still a few stragglers who would come across my content.

Last time you heard from me I recently I moved to San Francisco. Well I’m still here and I’m slowly adjusting to life in the city. I’m finally taking the time to enjoy and explore it. I’ve also switched positions at my company which has put me on a very different career path. Finally, I’ve been forced to come out of my comfort zone when it comes to my relationships. I’ve surrounded myself with new friends and a new lifestyle. I’ll be honest it is kind of scary, but exciting.

I’ve held back for a while but I am finally back.

Cheers to a new beginning!
-Akansha

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Napa Getaway

I’ve been craving a quick getaway, a mental break from my daily-routine. I didn’t want the hassle of planning big vacation; I just needed something easy and enjoyable nearby. My solution: Napa.

I had NEVER been wine tasting in Napa and considering that I now live an hour away, I knew that was completely unacceptable.

wheel barrow

There was one winery, called Ehlers Estate that I absolutely adored. The wine was exquisite, but the decor of the winery took it to a whole different level. The winery looked like it belonged in a Anthropologie catalog: rustic, vintage, and spruced up with few bright chairs and cushions.

ehlers estate

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Dinner was at Mustards Grill. Outside of the restaurant, they had a cute little herb and flower garden. I insisted on taking pictures!

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Napa, I don’t know why it took me so long to come visit you, but now that I have…I’m officially hooked.

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