August 2009


Saturday morning, I got to surprise the girls with an extravagant meal at one of the most blissful spots in LA – Shutters on the Beach!  When I saw that this month’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 was taking place on August 29th, I realized it would be the first Saturday that Julia, Rachel and I would all be together and had to submit a proposal!

The three of us headed down to Santa Monica for a scenic walk down to Venice Beach. Perfect for building up an appetite :) The girls knew there was a surprise in store that involved food, but were otherwise in the dark! When we turned around and reached the beginning of the bike path again, I read them part of my Foodbuzz submission. Cue the waterworks!

Almost exactly three years ago, I left the East coast and became a bonafide California girl. Although I have been homesick hundreds of times, I have made many friends and even new "family," like my wonderful roommate Julia. I would say she is like the sister I never had, but I actually have two sisters, both of whom I’ve been trying to convince to move to CA. Secretly, I would like to upload my entire family to the East coast, and I finally have my first convert — my sister Rachel! She has bought her one way ticket to LA for the end of August, and Julia and I are ditching our duds in Hollywood to move down to the beach with Rachel.    

Since the 29th marks the first Saturday we will all spend together, I would love to share with my blood family and my friend family a fabulous meal that celebrates everything I have come to love about California — healthy food, sun, surf, laughter and the beach. 

The girls were beyond excited when we reached our destination!

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I had settled on Coast, the downstairs “casual” restaurant at Shutters.

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Coast is a little bit more laidback and has a very clean, “country cottage” feel to the decor.  We put in our names and got out of the killer heat! We snagged some fancy drinks from the bartender…they were so refreshing! No name, but this champagne cocktail contained sparkling wine, 1 ounce elderflower liqueur, shot of soda water and a lemon twist. 

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We got seated pretty quickly and settled down with our drinks in the covered patio area, which was wicked hot but gorgeous. Yep, that’s the ocean outside those sunny, glowing windows!

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The combination of our morning walk (6+ miles) and the late hour (nearly one!) made us hungry. Luckily there were some interesting packages on the table…

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…that turned out to be breadsticks! MMM.

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To start we ordered one of the best menu items to share – the Lemon Ricotta pancakes. Served with gorgeous berries, these pancakes are light, fluffy, and somewhat tangy.  I’ve honestly never tasted anything like them!

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We each ate one of these light, fluffy pillow-like pancakes immediately. Unlike most other pancakes, there is no real dry, wheat, or floury taste. These babies are so moist, it’s amazing that they stick together!

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To go along with our meals, we ordered an array of bubbly, colorful drinks. Sparkling rose for Julia, Prosecco for me, and a mimosa for Rachel.

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We ordered three distinctly unique dishes with the idea of sharing at least a few bites between the three of us. Rachel got the cheese and mushroom omelet with potatoes. These eggs were PACKED with ooey, gooey cheese!

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Julia ordered the steak & eggs, which also came with potatoes. The steak was incredibly tender and cut like butter!

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Both their dishes came with dry wheat toast, served in a cute straw basket.

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My meal was the best…sure, I might be biased, but it was pretty amazing! I ordered the Bulls Eye, which came with roasted eggplant, spicy tomato & sunny side eggs. The presentation was gorgeous!

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There was a crispy slice of bread on the side, smothered in a delicious…cheese? Whatever it was, the taste was pretty neutral but the texture was light and fluffy and complimented the crunchy bread.

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The eggplant & tomatoes were SPICY and the eggs were perfectly cooked! I would definitely order this again and might have to invent my own version so I can have it at home.

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Our waiter Jason must have known we were enjoying a special morning because he encouraged us to sit and relax for as long as we wanted, and was constantly stopping by the table to joke with us or chat for a minute. He even humored us by snapping a cute posed photo!

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And then the girls humored me by taking another posed picture outside the hotel :)

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My planned proposal was a big success! It was so great spending the day with two of my favorite people and we definitely accomplished exactly what I set out to do…

With a perfect view, delicious food, and fabulous company, this brunch would highlight how the simplest elements can take a meal and meld it into an experience that will hopefully forge a bond between the three of us, old family and new.

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Thank you Foodbuzz and Visa Signature for helping me create a perfect California moment!

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It’s the weekend, YAY! Friday was filled with lots of gorgeous eats. Always makes the day better, no?? Breakfast was a yogurt mess, with the nice addition of kiwi. I’ve been out of strawberries all week but it’s fun testing out different fruits instead!

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Stephanie was able to meet me at work for lunch, which was awesome because we both had a million and one things to talk about and majorly needed to catch up. Usually, I always hit Coral Tree but Steph convinced me to try the bowls at Take A Bao instead…

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So happy I gave this a try! I ordered the Coconut Curry Veggie Noodles, which came with tons of tofu, broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, green beans, napa cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, scallions & cilantro. Whew! That’s a mouthful! The sauce was super light & flavorful and I must admit, I ate every bite. It was seriously delicious! I wish the noodles would have been glass noodles (I had the oddest craving for those), but besides that, perfection!

One of my coworkers brought back some gorgeous chocolates from Israel and they were so pretty, I had to snap a picture.

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But I actually skipped these in favor of a baby chocolate froyo. It’s finally gotten HOT in California and I needed something cool. Ignore that this is actually half eaten…how perfect is this mini cup for an after lunch treat??

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After finally finishing out the long week, I headed home to meet up with Julia & Rachel. As per usual, we are slow as molasses and didn’t leave our house until 8:30 to walk to dinner. Standard! Even though we skipped our workouts, we DID walk 2+ miles each way to and from the restaurant. Can you tell I am giving myself a pat on the back?! The walk there definitely built up our appetite and the three of us shared a whole bunch of delicious treats.

We started off with a glass of white wine and the boys in the kitchen quickly sent over the grilled balsamic artichoke (that’s pesto tofunaise (pesto blended with veganaise) in the back, in case you were wondering!), Newsroom’s specialty.

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Followed by my favorite dish of the night (not counting dessert of course), the goat cheese salsa. Hot goat cheese!? Yes, please!!

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The three of us also split some turkey breast sandwiches on flatbread…

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…and a whole wheat quesadilla that was stuffed with low-fat cheese, smoked chicken, sundried tomatoes, pesto, pine nuts and corn salsa. Exotic, no? Topped with more corn salsa and avocado, this was delish!

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If that weren’t enough, the chef sent over our favorite flourless chocolate cake topped with vanilla bean ice cream. Okay, okay, we were going to order this even if he didn’t send it over but still, he totally read our minds!

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Our dessert was served with a shot of tequila that the bartender personally brought over so he could take one with us. Actually, make mine a 1/2 shot because I split it with our waiter!! Bellies full and bodies warmed for the walk home, we meandered the two miles back and literally collapsed into bed and passed out. Hey, it was midnight by then, so don’t judge!

Of course I woke up at 7 AM and after futzing around for a bit, am ready to wake the girls for our SURPRISE morning! More on that later! Happy weekend everyone :)

Today started and ended well. The middle was a little overwhelming. I kicked off the day with a yogurt mess. I don’t have too much fruit so I added a small peach this morning which was nice and crunchy.

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Julia came out to Century City and met me for lunch, which was awesome. It’s so nice getting away from the office for a bit! We took a quick walk across the street and settled on Piknic, a great soup, salad, and sandwich place. Of course we decided to eat all three! We both got the matzah ball soup to start even though it was 100+ degrees today. Hence why we ate inside :)

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I also got a veggie/goat cheese press sandwich with a salad on the side. It’s been a while since I last had goat cheese and it made this sammie especially delicious!

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The two of us also split an order of sweet potato fries! The boys at the register tried to be helpful and offered to switch out our side salads with a side of fries because they didn’t think we could eat all of this food. Oh how wrong they were. What can I say, we love to eat!

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The afternoon went downhill when one of my coworkers got fired. Long story…my job isn’t in any jeopardy but it was still a pretty rough day. Lucky for me, my sister is here now so I was able to swing home and pick her up and we went for a nice hike (and talk!) in Runyon Canyon. Sometimes just blabbering away helps, you know?

For dinner we decided on Asian cuisine and I made chicken/veggie/soy sauce stir fry served with kale chips, TJ veggie eggroll, and 1/4 cup rice.  I LOVE these eggrolls, they are just as satisfying as the restaurant variety!

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Now we are just watching Friends and snacking on some Skinny Cow. Repeat picture but hey, it’s pretty :)

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I deserve this weekend and it’s shaping up to be a good one!! Tomorrow night we are planning a Newsroom dinner (YUM!) and then I have a big SURPRISE for the girls Saturday morning! Shh, it’s a secret but I think y’all will like it too :)

This morning I woke up to my sister sleeping on the floor! We are crammed in for a little bit but she’s officially a Cali girl now :)

Breakfast was standard and delicious.

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My morning was really rushed; I had to run a client meeting but it went well.  More things kept piling up on my plate (non-food things, sad) but I took a break around noon for some lettuce blend and basil tomatoes.

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These veggies powered me through another two hours of calls and writing and emails but I finally had to take a quick walk outside. Anyone have some good stress reducing tips? My heart was pounding from trying to meet all those last minute deadlines! I did pause for some rooibos tea; this flavor might be my absolute favorite and helped me relax for a moment.

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Around 2 PM I dug into the rest of my lunch…Dr. Praeger veggie burger and sweet potato. I almost grabbed a Lean Cuisine on the way out the door but thought of this combo instead. So glad — this meal is always so filling and makes me feel healthy every time I dig in.

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We always have tons of snacks in the office that I usually bypass but today we had an array of Yummy Cupcakes that were mini sized! Unfortunately none of the flavors were labeled (anyone else spoiled by the charts that come in boxes of chocolate??) but I snagged a delicious Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheese cupcake and was v. happy with my random selection!

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I am loving cream cheese icing lately! For some reason though, this cuppy cake tore up my stomach which was unfortunate.  Water chugging to follow :(

After work, I headed to the gym since my sister and my cousin were day tripping in Laguna Beach. Jealous much?! I sure was. They are still there right now eating dinner, lucky ducks. I did 45 minutes on the rear drive elliptical (thanks Susan for the tutorial!) and another 20 on the bike with this month’s “controversial cover” SELF.  According to the magazine, gliding backward on the elliptical burns 7% more calories and targets tush & hamstrings. Love that! I just recently started the backward action and I’m glad to hear it’s just as effective, if not more!

Dinner was random and easy. I was thinking pasta, stir fry rice, eggrolls, etc. but was actually craving veggies so I went with it.

Broccoli

Broccoli

Lettuce, tomato & hummus wrap

Lettuce, tomato & hummus wrap

I’m getting ready to settle down with a Skinny Cow fudge pop and TRUE BLOOD! I missed it Sunday and am antsy to catch up :)

Holla everybody! My sister moved to LA today, whoohoo! I’ve been psyched and busy the last two days getting ready for her arrival. I am definitely ready to wind down the night so I better get down to business…

Food photos! So pretty, makes me hungry just uploading them.

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Monday breakfast

Monday lunch -- 9 Grain Bread, hummus, Dr. Praeger California veggie burger (I think I might like the smashed Tex-mex ones more??)

Monday lunch -- 9 Grain Bread, hummus, Dr. Praeger California veggie burger (I think I might like the smashed Tex-mex ones more??)

Plus Dannon Light & Fit Key Lime yogurt

Plus Dannon Light & Fit Key Lime yogurt

Snack attack!

White peach

White peach

Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate square

Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate square

1/2 PB Fiber One bar

1/2 PB Fiber One bar

My snacks were great fuel for a speedy 30 minutes on the elliptical. 30 is better than zero, no? I had to get groceries, hit up Rite Aid, do laundry, all that jazz, so I finished fast and got home hungry and ready to dine.

New fave

New fave

TJ chicken sausage and cheetahs

TJ chicken sausage and cheetahs

Followed by some unpictured nibbles of hummus, pretzels and a Skinny Cow. I’m telling you, snack attack yesterday!

This morning I woke up early to snuggle with the kittens. They finally got spayed yesterday, poor dears. Maybe now Ella will stop marking her territory and peeing in my bed? Then it was back to the routine…

Coffee, yogurt mess

Coffee, yogurt mess

Busy day at the office; scored a few good media hits (YAY!) but still had 8 million things on my plate. One of those things happened to be a salty tomato w/basil. Shocking.

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I also had yummy leftovers! Makes a crazy day a wee bit simpler whenever I do dinner x2. No photograph sadly because my tummy was feeling wonky and I ate my sweet potato and chicken sausage over 2 hours, slooooooowly.

Snackage continued over from Tuesday, except today I came prepared with salad blend. Plain Jane. Is that weird? I just really love crunchy lettuce!

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And my last white peach!

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I stayed late at work so that I could go straight to the airport. Fun times, clearly. I left enough time to swing by Trader Joe’s for some of that super light cheese; I promised Rachel a delicious dinner! It was SO good to see her face! I can’t believe she is going to be LIVING here. I have been trying to recruit my family to come out to LA since I moved 3 years ago and it’s actually happening!

We stuffed the car with her life, neatly packed into checked baggage, and headed to my place. Not without making a stop on the way home to get dessert for later…yes, Yogurtland. I’ve only been talking it up for ages!  As soon as we got everything into the door, I got started on some quick and easy calzones, stuffed with mushrooms, red onion, bell pepper, tomato sauce, and TJ cheese.

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Sidenote, I am seriously excited to be cooking for two. Until Rachel gets on her own schedule, she will be eating on mine tehehe. Like she’s gonna complain…

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Rachel gave dessert thumbs up too but she got too tired to eat hers (darn East Coast time) so it was all me :)

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Off to bed! Hump day already?! Sweet!

What a gorgeous, lovely weekend! Friday night I ate dinner while getting ready to meet up with my cousin. I had one of my new favorite combos — Dr. Praeger veggie burger smushed on a piece of toasted Newsroom 9 Grain bread. Appearances are deceiving, I swear!

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I had another forgotten favorite — sliced tomato topped with salt & basil.

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It was SO GREAT to see my cousin! He’s lived in Switzerland for the past 6 years, working as a fashion designer for Hugo Boss in Milan. I know, so cool, right?! I met up with him and some of his friends at a party in the hills, which was tons of fun. I started getting super sleepy and hungry, so I ducked out, thinking it was around 2 AM…when I got into my car, I found out it was actually 4:30! No wonder I was ready to eat! I forgot that Europeans head out to bars around 3:30 AM, so the late hour was completely normal for them. Not so much for me :)

When I got back to my place, I had a slice of toast with jelly before crawling into bed.

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I still woke up early Saturday morning and had a nice day relaxing with some good eats…

Hearty pancakes with banana and cinnamon applesauce

Hearty pancakes with banana and cinnamon applesauce

Tomato with basil

Tomato with basil

Poached egg on toast

Poached egg on toast

Froyo with mango, bloobs, gummy bears

Froyo with mango, bloobs, gummy bears

Later, I headed across the street with Julia & her mom for a glass of wine and some appetizers. They make a mean pita and hummus plate over there! (What is with me and hummus lately??) I meant to head down to Laguna Beach after but it got late and I got tired, so I called it an early (ish) night. This morning I woke up early and grabbed a bowl of the usual yogurt mess before driving down to Laguna. A group of us spent an amazing day down at the beach. The waves were wicked high and all my clothes & towel got soaked at one point, but besides that, it was literally perfect. (And even the wave-soaking was pretty funny!) The weather has been a little questionable lately but it was sunny and warm until we left around 6. We played some bocce ball, tanned, took a long walk on the beach, read some magazines…amazing :)

When I got back to my place, I ate another toast with poached egg and some broiled eggplant and cheetahs.

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Now I am just winding down with some TV and dessert, snacking on a baby-sized yogurt mess and this guy:

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I don’t want this weekend to end! You know what’s going to happen, I am definitely staying up super late tonight to prolong Sunday. Does anyone else ever do that?? Good thing you can always count on Law & Order to be running at least one marathon on Sunday nights :)

You guys have no idea how happy I am that it’s Friday! This week has been so busy. Work thangs got better, although definitely not less hectic. I’ve started off every morning with a nice coffee and a yogurt mess. Will I ever get sick of this breakfast?? I just can’t imagine that…

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Lunch Wednesday was a gorgeous reuse of my Indian leftovers. I topped a big container of salad blend with green coconut curry sauce. Hello love!

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I also mixed the leftover tofu with 1/2 cup rice. Portion control the second time around :)

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Finally I was able to make it to the gym and did a totally fierce hour on the elliptical. On the way home, I stopped off at the grocery store for some EGGS! Lately, I have been trying to make myself consider omelets or scrambled eggs for dinner but they never sound appealing. Then I had a light bulb moment — it’s the Egg Beaters I’m not feeling. Poached eggs are a WHOLE different story!

I poached up an egg and added it to a dry end from our Newsroom stash. Yolk-soaked bread is pretty heavenly, huh? Sorry if that made some of you shudder!

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I made some kale chips and a little mix of eggplant, red onion, and tomatoes on the side. I left the tomatoes raw and cooked the rest, and the hot/cold combo was really yummy!

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This dinner was perfect sized cause I still had room for a Skinny Cow fudge pop after.  My night was pretty low key (I am guessing, because I really can’t remember what else I did Wednesday night!). Thursday morning…can you guess?

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Another busy bee day; I paused around noon to scarf down some orange bell pepper strips.

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Then about an hour later, I took a quasi-break (aka reading some magazines at my desk while eating) and dug into a deliciously random lunch of a slice of Newsroom 9 Grain bread toasted and topped with a smashed Dr. Praeger veggie burger, leftover eggplant & red onion mix, and half a salted tomato.

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I know, I know, these burgers really look unattractive…but it tasted awesome this way! After eating, I ducked out of the office with a co-worker for a quick lap around the Farmers’ Market. Sadly I didn’t have any cash on me, but I did get to sample a couple of delicious fun fruits like mango nectarines and dinosaur egg plutots.  Around 3:30 I dug into some fruit of my own — the last of my white nectarines!

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After work, I met Becky for dinner and a catch-up session. She goes back to NYC after this weekend :(

We had originally decided on Thai but changed our minds at the last second and went to Bossa Nova instead.  This place is billed as Brazilian, but I secretly love it for the pizza!  I got one made with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, oven roasted marinated eggplant, capers and fresh parsley.  I think they forgot the capers but that was okay because eggplant is salty enough on its own!

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I ate three of these slices…and stuck my fork into Becky’s chicken, rice & grilled veggies as well!

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Beck-O ordered some pao de queijo (Brazillian cheese breads) for the table, so I taste tested one. Gotta say, I am a salty, doughy/sea salt/olive oil bread person myself!

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I also ordered a glass of white wine but only drank about half. Apparently you CAN get wine at a restaurant and not finish it, imagine that :)

After dinner, we headed over to India’s house for a foot-dunking hot tub chat session with the lady of the house, Katie Jo, and Marissa. We gossiped about all things inappropriate before calling it a night. I was v. full but craving a little sweet so I had a wee bit for fruit before hopping into bed. This morning I woke up without much appetite but don’t worry, it returned by the time I got into the office!

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Aren’t Fridays supposed to be slow days? Today was anything but! I was happy to break for my delicious lunch: a sweet potato and leftover veggies. I didn’t bring any rice but some stuck along for the ride! Plus one bite piece of chicken all the way in the back that didn’t get eaten last night.

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I had to leave early for a doctor appointment which is part of the reason why I was in such a rush. Luckily everything went smoothly and I even got to the gym early. I did 40 minutes on the elliptical and then another 12ish on the stairs before calling it quits.  Now I am blogging and reading for a bit before I make dinner and get ready to go out for the night. My cousin is in town from Italy and apparently he has friends in LA who are throwing him a party. I can’t wait to see him! This weekend is looking like a BIG one, opposed to last week’s laze-fest.  Happy Friday everybody! Hope you are all kicking it off with a bang :)

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