Tag Archives: meal out

26 — The (Birth)Day

Since my birthday was on Sunday, Mark decided to give me something really nice for my birthday — a beautiful Sunday brunch at a restaurant called Castaway, which I’ve actually written about before.

We had so much fun, ate so much food, and drank SO much champagne. Well, I did. I put the “endless” in “endless” mimosas.

Anyway, Mark and I were sure to take a picture with their pretty Christmas tree before I got silly brunch.

We’re cute.

Soon enough, however, we were seated.

We got started right away with the mimosas (I wasn’t messing around).

And then, it was time to eat!

There were SO many options from which to choose. There was a breakfast bar, a homemade omelet station, an oatmeal bar, a Meditteranean bar, a Mexican bar, a seafood bar, a make-your-own pasta station, and a huge dessert area. I might even be missing a few things.

My first plate:

That’s a cheese blintz, scrambled eggs, potatoes with peppers and onions, and a tiny almond croissant. I had only a bite or two of everything, though I did mostly finish the potatoes and eggs.

There was also a cappuccino station, which was awesome.

Mark tried to put whipped cream in mine. It didn’t work out so well.

It’s okay, though. I went back for another.

Much more manageable. ๐Ÿ™‚ Especially since the other one looked like this after a while.


Anyway, we digested for a bit and then went back for more. This is mac n cheese, beans & rice, cheesy broccoli, a stuffed grape leaf, and orzo salad. My eyes were a lot bigger than my stomach. I could barely make dents in most of this, though I did love and nearly finish both the mac n cheese and orzo salad.

It was a carb fest.

And don’t forget, I was still drinking.

At this point, I couldn’t really bear to eat anymore, but Mark (who had been to this brunch before) told me dessert was the best part. So, I went and got samples of all of the things I thought looked good.

That being said, this is all I ate of that plate:

What a waste. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I was also surprised with a piece of tiramisu with a candle in it!

This wasn’t so much “eaten” as it was “posed with.”

Being full stopped me from eating the cake, but did not stop me from downing my mimosa(s).

Happy birthday to meeeee!

Poor Mark.

After we finished eating, we went outside for the lovely view.

And, since we clearly hadn’t taken enough pictures, took some more.

As my sister said on the phone when she talked to me twenty minutes later, “Hey, Drunkie.”

Anyway, the rest of the day was spent shopping at the Americana in Glendale (I got myself some birthday presents in the form of some fun shirts at Forever 21!) opening presents from other people, taking more pictures with each other, and finally, eating the tiny amount of Chinese takeout that I could stomach while watching Happy Endings.

Some presents highlights include…

A homemade ornament from Mark, which is supposed to be us dancing but kiiiind of looks like we’re making out.

What a creeper.

A really cute shirt from my friend Jacky…

An incredibly thoughtful, healthy, low-sugar focused gift from my fiend Claire, who reads KWH (hi, Claire!):

Those are coconut crystals, agave, and dairy-free chocolate chips.

Isn’t that the sweetest, most KWH-friendly gift, ever?

I was also graced with many a card, an un-pictured gift card from my lovely friend Amy, and many, many a bottle of wine.


I guess people think I like wine?

Thank you so much to everyone for making my birthday special, but thank you especially to this guy, who made it perfect.


I am a very, very lucky girl.



Filed under Blog Posts, Recipes

My Other Office

So, just as I did back in April, I’ve picked up a little freelance writing work.

I have trouble focusing at home. The TV is there, Mark is there, and my pantry is there.. and all of a sudden I need to know what’s happening on Regis & Kelly and in Mark’s life, and I’m far hungrier than usual.

In other words, if I want to get anything done, I need to go somewhere else.

Enter: Panera. Just like it did in April.

Naturally, instead of working on my freelance work, I’m blogging.

Nothing has changed since high school. Nothing. Anyway, as it turns out, I’m good at finding distractions no matter where I go. But at least when I go to Panera, I know I have to get to work at some point.

I’ve been subsisting largely on coffee ever since I found out they gave free refills.

Seriously, guys. Free refills on coffee. Free refills on coffee! As much coffee as you can drink!!!!

I should probably cut back. I’m feeling a little buzzy.

I also got breakfast at Panera yesterday because I’d just gotten bloodwork done for my surgery after fasting and I was starving. I used to get bagels at Panera all the time back in college when I spent days there doing homework. One of my favorite combinations was the asiago cheese bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese.

I was very disappointed to learn that said cream cheese is seriously gone forever. I decided to try the same bagel with veggie cream cheese.

It worked, but it wasn’t the same.

Le sigh.

Anyway, this morning I had no such excuse of fasting and bloodwork and couldn’t rationalize buying breakfast out when I had perfectly good stuff at home, so I made myself breakfast before heading out.

A yogurt bowl, to be specific.

Into the mix went:

  • TJ’s Nonfat Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt
  • Kashi Go Lean Crunch! Honey Almond Flax
  • blueberries
  • TJ’s pumpkin butter


And now I’m at Panera, sipping my coffee and procrastinating writing a blog post. I should probably get to work.

Oh, but I first “had to” take these beautiful self-portraits to send to my mom. Because, obviously, she misses me. Who wouldn’t?

God, I’m a freak.

And yes, I did do that at Panera. And yes, people were around. And yes, people did look at me like I was crazy and probably considered moving away to a further table.

Whatever. I’m focusing. Duh.

Okay. No more distractions. Time to get to work!

Where do you go to get work done?


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Upon arriving home, I jumped right in. (Does that work well with the title, or what? Total coincidence, too, since I’m about to write about a restaurant called Splash.)

My flight was delayed, so I got in around 6:45am (I was supposed to get in at 5:30), at which time my admirable mother picked me up. We got breakfast, we went home, I gave my dad a big hug, and then I promptly took a two hour nap. I usually tough the jetlag out, but I had a big day ahead of me.

After I napped, I took a shower (sorely needed) and then my mom and I were off to pick my best friend, Will, up from the train station! We spent the afternoon catching up by the pool and then it was time to go out to dinner with my family to celebrate my dad’s birthday.

We went to a fancy-schmancy restaurant on the Sound, Splash.

We really enjoyed being in the sun and then watching the sun set over the water.

The idea behind the restaurant’s serving method is awesome — everything is served family-style, so everything is meant to be shared. Amongst the five of us, we got four appetizers, four entrees, and… oh, ten drinks? It was MORE than enough, but that doesn’t meant we didn’t do our very best in finishing it.


I only captured mine, but I got a coconut martini…

And a blueberry mojito…


So, like I said, we got four to split amongst the five of us. These were our options:

We got the Firecracker Spring Rolls…

The Thai Style Lettuce Wraps (my second favorite)…

The Blue Lump Crab Cakes…

And the Crispy Beef Tip Skewers (my favorite — which totally surprised me!)…


Again, we got four to split amongst the five of us. These were our choices:

We chose the Macadamia Crusted Swordfish (my second favorite)…

The Sea Bass Baked in a Banana Leaf…

The 5 Spiced Grilled Chicken…

And the “Shanghai Style” Filet Mignon (again, my favorite — so weird!)…

My (super packed) plate full of tastes:

Everything was absolutely delicious, but obviously the meat dishes were my favorite in each of the courses. I was surprised because my second least favorite appetizer was the one I’d chosen (the crab cakes) and my least favorite entree was also the one I’d chosen (the sea bass). Maybe I should let other people order for me from now on?

After dinner, we took a bunch of pictures by the water so we could capture the magic of the evening.

We also didn’t let it stop there — we were feeling pretty good from the cocktails and decided that we needed to keep the fun going. We headed to a mini-golf course (and may or may not have picked up a six-pack on the way…) and had a lot of fun being “that family” during the game.

No regrets. We all had a blast. It was a perfect first night home.


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Pop Champagne

A couple of weekends ago, I went on a really romantic date.

And I mean, really, really romantic.

It involved champagne….


Mood lighting…

Lots of loving eye contact…ย  good conversation…

Oh, and the best date ever…

My friend, Lauren!

You see, when I bought the LivingSocial deal for Pop Champagne and Dessert Bar, I assumed that I’d obviously find a guy with whom I’d want to go on a romantic date by the time it expired.

Well, you know what they say about assuming. Oh well! Lauren was more fun than some dumb boy anyway, right?

Anyway, Pop Champagne is on the pricey side, so we did things our own way. Instead of spending the whole deal on dinner, we figured we’d spend it on what they’re known for (champagne and dessert) and we went the classy route beforehand by picking up slices of pizza around the corner first. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Worth it! And FYI, that pizza was fantastic. Best pizza I’ve had in California (which isn’t saying much, but you know what I mean).

When we did head over for our reservation, we each started with a flight of champagnes.

Lauren got the “Pretty in Pink” and I got the “Around the World.” Because, you know, Lauren’s pretty and I’m worldly. Or something.

We also ordered, as you saw the above, the Meyer Lemon Tart. We got it mostly because it came with basil ice cream, which my friend Robyn had recommended.

The tart was lovely but the basil ice cream took it to another level. While we both sort of felt like we were eating pizza ice cream when we ate the ice cream alone, we loved it with the tart.

We spent most of the experience taking silly pictures of the champagne each other.

Ahh, we’re fun.

It was a lovely date. Right up there with the last romantic date I had.

Hmm… maybe I should get a boyfriend, huh?


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Sunset Dinner at The Castaway

As I mentioned in my weekend post, I went to a sunset dinner on Sunday. Amanda and Andy came into LA so we could go to dinner at a restaurant that Mark and I have wanted to try for a while — The Castaway in the hills of Burbank.

It was arguably the most romantic date I’ve ever been on. Too bad Mark’s like my brother, huh?

The vibe of the restaurant is like a tropical vacation restaurant. The second you arrive, you feel like you’re at a resort. I liked that a lot! What a wonderful way to escape for a few hours. You feel very far away from LA, despite that the whole draw of the place is that you’re looking over it. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a sort of pricey restaurant for people like us (by which I mean young people on a budget), but they have a great prix-fixe menu for the Sunset Dinner. It comes with soup or salad, an entree, and a dessert. This is, in my opinion, a really good deal for $19.95 — especially when you take the view into account!

In reading Yelp reviews, I was under the impression that the service sucked and the food was lackluster, but that the views made up for it. The views were beautiful and the service did suck, but I actually thought the food was pretty great!

The bread was so good.

In fact, between a few slices of bread and the delicious salad, I filled up before my dinner came. Whoops!

I made it work, though.

I ended up eating the broccolini and half of the potatoes and then just took all of the chicken and the remaining potatoes home. I did, however, manage to finish my cheesecake. Priorities, people!

I didn’t get coffee, but Mark did, and I thought this picture was so pretty.

We were all really happy with our experience, even if Amanda and Andy don’t look like it. ๐Ÿ™‚

How could we not be, with these views?

Pretty, right?

Anyway, that meal ended up lasting me for three meals! I used the chicken and potatoes for not one, but two salads — both yesterday’s and today’s lunches.

All in all, not a bad deal for $19.95. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Wood & Vine

Alright, what do you say I quit the pouting? I woke up this morning to an email from my grandmother saying that I was depressing her, so I think it’s time that I snap out of it.

I mean, nobody likes someone who depresses sweet grandmas.

Anyway! Last night, I got together with a few friends from film school for dinner (well, “dinner” and drinks) at Wood & Vine in Hollywood.

We sat out on the patio, which was tres swanky.

Its the kind of fancy-schmancy place that has a new menu each day. See?

I have no idea what was up with my camera last night. You’ll see an even blurrier picture later.

I started off with a nice (but small, for $8!) glass of Pinot Noir.

The evening started with just me, Rod and Chan.

I was about to tell both of them, as I looked at the nice menu at this fancy place, that I would make fun of anyone who ordered a Miller Lite…

… when both of them ordered Miller Lites. ๐Ÿ˜‰

You guys… I think I’ve become a beer snob!

I’m okay with it.

The reason for getting together, by the way, was to say bye to Chan, who is moving far, far away.

He was one of my favorite people at film school and I will miss him dearly.

Anyway, the way Wood & Vine works is that you can order “sharing plates” or cheese plates, but no entrees. Everything comes out as it’s ready, rather than all at once.

Chan broke the rules immediately and ordered a sharing plate just for him. ๐Ÿ™‚

This was “hand-torn pasta.”

Then, the three of us ordered a cheese plate.

It comes with toasted baguette slices, honey and pickled vegetables, in addition to the three, six or nine cheeses you choose.

We got three: a soft french cheese with salt rind, a goat cheese, and a taleggio.

My favorite was the taleggio, followed by the goat cheese. I wasn’t a huge fan of the salt rind cheese, though Chan and Rod favored that one.

Soon after the cheese arrived, so did our friends Jenni, Brian and Brian (yes, two!).

Brian #1 immediately hijacked my camera and took pictures of himself and Brian #2. Here’s one.

When Brian #1 ordered a Summer Solstice and I stole a sip, I knew immediately that I’d need one of my own!

It was so good, guys. So, so good.

Not so good: the group picture we got on my automatic digital camera.

How does that even happen??

Anyway, it was a really fun night with lots of laughter. It was so good to catch up with these guys.

We’ll miss you, Chan!!!


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American Idol Finale

Hey, look, an early post!

You probably thought I stopped watching American Idol. You’re sort of right, but not really. I stopped watching it on time. I got so busy that I just was never able to actually watch it when it aired, so I ended up catching up on the weekends (and usually asking people to ruin it for me, which I never do — I usually hate spoilers!).This meant that I stopped writing about it.

I didn’t help that my favorites kept getting cut — first Casey, then James? Life just isn’t fair sometimes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, I was still watching and I was definitely still enjoying it. I think Lauren and Scotty are both adorable totally deserving of being the final two.


There are a bunch of things I love about American Idol, but there are a few things I really love. I love watching the contestants grow throughout the competition. I love watching them become friends. I love that the show offers the ultimate water cooler conversation (and I would know!)

I also love that, in that sense, it offers a social setting.

Enter: last night! My friends Laura, Rachel and I decided to have a mini American Idol finale viewing party.

TWSS. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We spent the night making snarky comments, discussing our favorite contestans of the season, guessing what was to come (we totally called Lauren performing with Carrie Underwood), and “aww”ing at the emotional moments. It was wonderful.

Seriously, though, was Ryan on something last night? I really think he was.

We also had really good takeout for dinner! We got food from Vegan Plate in Studio City. I highly recommend it! I got the Yellow Curry dinner special with tofu.


Honestly, with meals like that, I wonder how hard it would actually be to be vegan.

Anyway, even though Lady Gaga’s performance was pretty lame (which is sad, since her performances are usually kind of exciting), she did inspire my favorite picture of the night.

We “put our paws up:”

Anyway, I loved the end of the show. I think Scotty really will be a huge star. I worry that he would have been better off without the Idol contract, but I think he has an awesome career ahead of him no matter what.


And how cute were he and Lauren?



Do you watch American Idol? What did you think of the finale?

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