Archive | January, 2010

Winter makes me lazy

25 Jan

I woke up at 5 a.m. today and it took me about 15 minutes to roll out of bed.  I couldn’t find my work out clothes and my throat was dry.  I was about to go back to bed when I remembered that I can’t give up so easily so I looked some more and finally got dressed.  As I was standing on the treadmill I thought to myself why not just run 10 minutes and stretch?  I was about to start walking when I felt like a ninny so I sped up to my usual running time.

Eight minutes, nine minutes, nine and thirty seconds… I couldn’t keep my eyes from going back to the timer; it was as if a vicious compulsion kept my eyes darting back and forth from the timer to the morning news time display.  And you can imagine which option is more scintillating: morning news or treadmill timer?  Too bad the treadmill doesn’t come with cable. I really need to get audio books on my iTouch.

 Well I made it until 16 minutes. I jumped off as soon as I stopped it and headed to the weight room for some more torture.  I managed to put in 200 crunches on that ridiculously fun looking bouncy ball and I headed out the door as soon as my 20 minutes were up.

This weather makes me feel like holing up in bed with hot tea and snacks- plenty of snacks.  So I guess I should feel good about getting out of bed to work out.  Maybe by posting here I will feel guilty if I don’t?

Feel free to share your work out tips and regimes.

Happy Sweating!

Running and Walking

13 Jan

So here is my daily dose of exercise- give or take a few.

I wake up at 5 a.m. and go down to our gym and run 20 minutes.  It’s harder to run right after you woke up because your body is still half asleep so I only recommend it if there is absolutely no other time you can squeeze it in (my case); otherwise I would suggest waiting until you are fully awake after your morning routine. 

When I started running again in a regular basis I only ran 3 times a week for 20 minutes and averaged 10 minutes a mile which I though was pretty darn good for a self-professed running-hater.  I hated running with a passion. I mean what is so pleasant about sweating, feeling old and tired, your body swollen and sore, your muscles tangled with all sorts of weird bumps that hurt when you touch them.  Okay, I might be exaggerating a little bit but you get the point- most of us agree running sucks. 

So I suggest finding a running buddy or someone who is also running and will motivate you to keep going- or at least make you feel guilty when you don’t go.  That person for me is M, he makes me feel like a pansy when I don’t run and although I dislike him at the moment (I’m not above swearing at him in my head while he runs ahead of me when we run up Grand Ave.) I appreciate that it works. 

Now I run 20 minutes 6-7 times a week and average 7:30/7:45 a mile which is a big improvement.  I have also learned to not hate it as much and actually like it sometimes- weird!  Sometimes when I’m running outside I feel so free and relaxed that I spread my arms and run around like an airplane.. Don’t knock it until you try it. 

The point is that although I may still feel disdain for running, nothing beats all the benefits that I have felt in my body and daily routine since I started.  When I get to work I feel like I can take on anything; I feel alert, motivated and very awake.  I don’t worry about my weight because I am burning those extra 350 calories every morning.  I don’t crave candy or frosted treats; instead I crave apples, bananas, and hearty healthy vegetables.  It’s amazing! 

I should market running as the latest drug, or crazy super healthy berry like the Acai berry fad- I would make millions…

If you absolutely feel like you can’t  run anytime soon then you should walk.  I walk most days (when M doesn’t give me a ride) to the bus which is 0.4 miles, we take the A Dash to 1st./Central and walk to their school which is 0.3 mi away.  I drop them off and walk to work 0.6 miles.  That’s 1.3 miles of walking that you don’t even notice.  In the afternoon I walk back to the school and repeat the process in reverse which gives me more than 2 1/2 miles a day in walking.  When I feel like taking my time we walk home from the school.  We walk more and get to chat while we look at the shops and restaurants on Spring St., Broadway, and 7th St. 

The lesson here is that you can sneak in exercising throughout your day.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator even if it’s only for a couple of flights.  If you’re craving something you shouldn’t eat, go for a walk and when you get back if you’re still craving it then go ahead and indulge but after your heart rate speeds up- your body will probably decline that Snickers bar. 

So there you are, simple things for simple beginnings.  Eat less, exercise more.  Calories Burned – Calories Eaten = Whether you lose, gain or stay at the same weight! :)

I love my neighborhood

10 Jan

How awesome is it when you live in a neighborhood that people are learning to love and yet it is still underappreciated.  It means that you enjoy the growing number of restaurants that have sprouted throughout downtown’s micro-neighborhoods without reservations (except for that darn delicious Church and State – you always have to call a few days in advance unless you want dinner at 10:30 at night), there is always something to do whether it is visiting one of our many museums, a movie at the new Regal Live, or Pee Wee Herman at the Nokia, AND you get to enjoy nice runs on Bunker Hill without any car congestion on the weekends.

I could go on and on about why I love downtown.  The truth is that I have loved it for years- it was love at first sight when my mother brought me as a little kid to shop at the callejones (Santee Alley) for affordable wares.  For years I looked up at the then empty buildings (or full of sweat shops) and yearned to live there.  In high school I used to skip school (which is not a good idea kids!) and take the Metro 68 to downtown to stroll along Broadway, Spring St., and study at Central Library (I could spend hours reading books I would never find at the local library).  It feels like it has been a long distance crush relationship; as I got older and started working at City Hall I used to drive home to Boyle Heights over the 7th St Bridge and sigh as I left downtown behind me.

Now I live here with M, a four-year old and a five-year old and my life is in a completely different place that I envisioned.  A lot has happened in my relatively short life making me feel far older and hopefully wiser in the process.  The only thing that hasn’t changed is that I love downtown and now I am incredibly lucky enough to live here with the three best companions I could ever dream up of having (at least after two of them were potty-trained). 

Downtown is changing just like its inhabitants (myself included) and as I explore it further my love grows. 

It makes life so much easier when you can walk to a dinner date or to meet friends for drinks after work.  When your kids can go to a preschool that is a few blocks away from work, and when you can get home in less than an hour (by walking!). 

So whether you are a downtown cheerleader or a naysayer you have to admit that downtown Los Angeles sucks you in once you live here.  Whether you are having dinner in Little Tokyo at Spitz with a sangria – or two, or indulging in Rivera’s late night happy hour you have to admit that we are all incredibly lucky to live here. :)

Seared Ahi Tuna

10 Jan

Seared Ahi Tuna

 

Best part of cooking is leftovers!

 

 Seared Ahi Tuna  

Ingredients: 3 steaks of Ahi tuna, 1/2 cup of soysauce, 1/2 tea-spoon Chinese five-spice (I found it at Ralphs), 3/4 tea-spoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning (great for all types of sea food), 1 table-spoon wasabi (depending on how spicy you like your food you can add less), 1 tea-spoon olive oil  

In a large container pour soy sauce, 1/2 tea-spoon of chinese five-spice, 3/4 tea-spoon of Chesapeake bay seasoning, wasabi, and olive oil.  Use a whisk to mix well until it’s slightly foamy.  After you rinse your steaks and pat them dry place in the marinade and close container.  Refrigerate for 1 hour (you can do 1/2 hour but the longer you marinade the juicier your steak will be).  

Heat skillet to medium-high heat and spray a light layer of cooking oil.  You can use avocado oil, canola or olive oil.  Place your steak on skillet and turn over 1 1/2 – 2 minutes on each side. (I like my steaks seared and raw on the inside so you can do less or more based on preferences but you should do no longer than 2 1/2 minutes of your steak will be dry and fully cooked.)  

Remove from skillet and serve to your soon to be happy guests! :)

Tossed and sautéed Kale

10 Jan

Kale

Tossed and sautéed Kale

Kale is really healthy and a great anti-oxidant. Try this nutty-flavored recipe for a great side dish.

Ingredients:
1 bunch of Kale
Handful of Pine nuts
1 medium-sized red onion
3 small Roma tomatoes
1 tea-spoon minced Garlic
Coarse sea salt

Rinse kale, tomatoes and onion. Chop red onion into slices and separate into strands and toss in a mixing bowl with half a tea-spoon of olive oil. Place on pre-heated medium-heat pan along with your minced garlic (mix well) and stir occasionally for 3 minutes.

Chop kale and mix in bowl with pine nuts. Toss into your pan. Mix with onions (which should be lightly browned) and sprinkle sea salt. Cover and turn heat down to low for 5 minutes.

Chop tomatoes into fourths and toss into pan. Cover for 3-5 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

Golden Brown Brussels Sprouts

10 Jan

This easy recipe will have your kids asking for seconds! Tender, juicy and crispy on the outside Brussels sprouts.

15-20 small Brussels sprouts (choose closed-leafed, tightly wound- it will prevent them from falling apart)
Extra virgin olive oil (about 1 tea-spoon in a small dish) and 1 tea-spoon for pan
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tea-spoon of grated parmesan cheese

Rinse Brussels sprouts really well making sure to peel loose or brown leafs.  Cut off stems.

Cut Brussels sprouts in half (from top to bottom).  Rub the inside of the Brussels sprouts with olive oil.

Heat sautéing pan to low-medium heat and add a tea-spoon of extra virgin oil.  Place Brussels sprouts facing up on pan (single layer not touching), sprinkle sea salt and cover for 5 minutes.

Turn Brussels sprouts over, sprinkle parmesan cheese (very lightly to flavor and not overwhelm taste), sprinkle sea salt (again) and black pepper and cover. Turn off heat after 5-7 minutes.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Shrimp Ceviche

8 Jan
Ingredients:
2 lbs of Wild Caught Tiger Shrimp (Vietnam)
10 limes
1/4 orange
Crushed sea salt
Crushed pepper
Cilantro
roma tomatoes (look for firm bright red tomatoes)
1 purple onion
2 cucumbers
1/2 orange bell pepper
2 – 8 oz can tomato juice (unsalted)
2 ripe avocados
tostadas

1. Slice lemons in half and squeeze into a bowl
2. clean shrimp in ice cold water while removing the shell
3. rinse and devein (some shrimp may come deveined already to make it easier)
4. rinse and slice shrimp in half length wise (you may slice smaller if desired)
5. place clean shrimp into bowl with lime juice and add salt and pepper to taste (lightly and add as desired)
5. Slice a few strips of onion and toss with the shrimp
6. cover and store in refrigerator for minimum 1 hour to chill and “cook” shrimp in citrus
7. Dice onion, tomatoes, cilantro, bell pepper (finely) and place in your veggie bowl
8. skin cucumber and dice into small squares
9. chop cilantro finely and mix with rest of vegetables – season with salt and pepper- cover and chill in fridge
10. drain almost all of the lime juice from the shrimp and squeeze quarter of orange onto shrimp
11. mix in vegetables, two cans of tomato juice, keep stirring and mixing
12. cut avocados in half, remove seed, scoop out slices of avocado onto ceviche and mix
12. Taste (remember to add salt and pepper sparingly and increase to desired taste)
13. serve over tostadas and Enjoy!

shrimp ceviche tostadasNothing beats ceviche with homemade white sangria

Proposed Linear Park on Grand Ave

8 Jan

Last night I took the girls with me to a community workshop hosted by the CRA for a proposed linear park on Grand Ave.

With Matt at a BCS Championship party all I wanted to do was pick up the girls from school and go home to the comforts of my couch, a large sweatshirt, my fuzzy red socks, and tights. But alas I felt obligated to go and provide my input as well as observe what exactly goes on in these community workshops.

We walked a few blocks to Spring St and took the MTA 83 to get to the Public Works Building which is where the meeting was being held and got there 30 minutes early.  While we waited I had a cup of tea at Starbucks while the girls shared a yogurt parfait and chocolate soymilk- and again I wondered why I wasn’t lounging at home instead. 

When we walked over to the meeting place you would have thought they were having a holiday dinner from the food spread they had.  We grabbed a juice and sat down.

After the recap of the proposed project (which would be funded by a state grant from a Prop 84 park bond) we broke out into groups and brainstormed what we wanted to see in the possible site. 

The location is on Grand Ave between Olympic and 9th St and would be 8 feet wide on one side (in front of FIDM) and 20 feet wide on the other (in front of the Federal Reserve) which would result from DOT narrowing the street by removing a park lane and a full lane. 

The top recommendations for the site were:

1. Dog Run (which I agree with)

2. Benches and Landscape (which I thought was a given since it’s a park)

3. Water Feature

I have to say that I was one of only two parents that went to the meeting (Ginny and Alex were there with beautiful Miss Iolani) so there weren’t many votes for child equipment.  I picked up some surveys so please contact me downtownl.a.parents@gmail.com if you can swing by the Saturday Playdate so I can turn them in next Wed. at the next meeting.  I did raise my hand to say just that- I hoped the lack of presence from downtown parents would not undermine that fact that we need kids NON-Metal play equipment, and I must say that the group was pretty responsive overall. 

Next meeting the girls will have to sit it out- poor things were enticed by the chalk, stamps and ink pads (what were they thinking?) but no paper..

Next community workshop is on Wed. January 13 Time: 6-8:30 p.m.  @1149 Broadway SB Rm 6.  Again I know the timing is weird which makes it hard for people to go and especially difficult when you have kids and no nanny but send in your comments so that you can be heard if not in person at least through me or another lucky parent that attends. :)

Check out the related LATimes article:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-downtown-street6-2010jan06,0,5458088.story

and the workshop website: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_yFoCrxz6Jp8/S0Twn8YpfNI/AAAAAAAAAQA/YATgudiTIC0/s1600-h/091229_OlympicGrand_eblast_EngSpan%5B1%5D_Page_1.jpg

Healthy Recipes

7 Jan

Every time I show up at work with a healthy dish I get inquiries for the recipes; some of these inquiries are so basic such as cooking beans that it worries me as to the future of Food.

Food as in the comida your mother made you growing up whether it was tortillas, bread, or naan on the side.  More and more households rely heavily on eating out every night and also purchase their lunch at work!  The bottom line is that no one will care as much as you should about what is going down your throat and into your body- or your child or partner’s body. 

We all have grueling schedules that keep us away from doing a lot of the things we wish we had time for but I feel that cooking your own food and exercising are two fundamental necessities that you should never give up.

My mother used to drive me crazy growing up when I would wake up at 3:45 A.M. to the sound of pots and pans banging in the kitchen.  She would set her buzzer (I can still hear the EEEEH EEEEEH in my ear) and start cooking while my father was in the shower.  She already had her veggies chopped the night before so it was mostly mixing and cooking the ingredients together. 

I used to hate her for being so good.  Why couldn’t she steal some extra minutes of sleep for herself instead of making sure my father would have dinner waiting when he came home? Now I admire her and thank her for teaching me the valuable lesson in stretching a day to work to your advantage.

Anyway sleeping is for the dead as my father used to say. 

Now I wake up at 4:30 in the morning when I was lazy the night before and didn’t prepare lunch alongside dinner.  I drag my body, heavy with sleep, to the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face.  I go to the kitchen and open the fridge, make a visual inventory of what I have and decide what to make. Here’s a few tips to making it easier.

Always make a pot of beans (or other type of filler/side dish that you eat every day) on the weekend to last you through most of the week.  I usually soak pinto or black beans (depending on my mood) overnight to get them nice and tender.  If I am running low on beans mid-week I do this on the night that I notice an imminent bean shortage. :) The next morning the first thing I do is rinse the beans again until the water is clear and fill it with the appropriate amount of water and place them on mid-low heat by 5 a.m.

I get my running clothes on and go downstairs to run 20 minutes on the treadmill.  That’s all- 20 minutes every day.  You probably stare at the wall longer than that.

I head back upstairs and check on my beans and turn down the heat to low.  I prep my veggies and half an hour later I have breakfast and lunch ready.

I wake up the kiddos at 6 a.m. and they fold their blankets and change into the clothes I have laid out for them.  Bella makes our bed and Iza puts their things (blankets/toys) away.  Once they have their chores done they sit at the counter and eat the breakfast that I have served for them.

I hop in the shower by 6:10 and out in 10 minutes.  I get dressed and check on my beans. I season them with oregano, cumin, garlic and salt (minimal) and keep the heat on. 

I comb the girls’ hair and make sure they brush their teeth while I dry my hair and finish getting ready. By 6:45 I get our lunches ready in our containers, turn off the stove and walk out of my the door by 6:55.  A ten minute walk later and we are catching the dash off to start our day.

Some people might say that they think it’s ridiculous to be waking up early to do this but I feel great when I get to work with the knowledge that I have a yummy lunch waiting for me and that I went for a run- so if I want to reach for a piece of dark chocolate as a snack- that’s okay.  You can always make time- always.

Recap since I started the Downtown Parent gig

7 Jan

kids enjoying the pool @ Market Lofts

made lots of friends at our first meet up

It seems that over a year ago I thought that the hours in the day would magically extend for me and that on top of the writing for Blogdowntown.com, full-time job, being a parent of two, being a girlfriend, taking online classes, and doing the basic stuff like eating and sleeping I would be able to write a daily journal on life.

Well a year later and not much has changed in my schedule but I have an itch to write and I figured why not blog so you can listen to me? :)

A recap of the last year:

I found Bella and Iza a “local” elementary school for them to go to this September, I turned in magnet applications to another school as a back up, and I’m having a hard time letting go of the comfort of Lumbini (their current school) since it is a 15 minute walk from work. 

But as we all know money rules the world and I need to save the tuition mullah for other things like say a second bedroom or college- for them not me.

As soon as I thought that I could pat myself on the back and relax after my school hunt was over I realized that it was more of an individual hope for the best solution.  I’m worried that the girls will not get into the school through open enrollment, that the magnet bus schedule will make it impossible to go to the back up plan, and what the heck will I do with them for the 3 mos.+ of vacation that LAUSD gives to kids each year.

I did start a parent group so I could start building a sense of community for the girls and myself as a parent and it has gone very well.  Downtown L.A. Parents on facebook has 98 members- some of them representing a family other parents each being a member – and the weekly playdates have been incredible. 

Our first big meeting reminded me of House on Mango Street when Sandra Cisneros dreams of having homeless people living in her attic..but in a less, less, waaay less creepy way.

The potluck/pool party was at my building’s community room and people were invited through fliers that I left at multiple residential buildings, libraries, and the girls’ school.  I sent out emails and invited parents I ran into at the park and told them to spread the word.

You might think that I am absolutely crazy for inviting complete strangers but I felt a sense of security not being specifically at my home and the whole kid thing seemed like a good screening- no kid- no entrance.

It was a great turn out- about 50 people showed up and I made awesome friends which is so hard in L.A.

So now here I am January 2010 and I want to take it to the next level.  We’ve met, we’ve chatted now how about that school?

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