Gracias Madre: Dine LA + Happy hour

At the end of this week, I went to Gracias Madre, a mexican vegan restaurant, for Dine LA and happy hour. We wanted to go for lunch which ended at 4pm and happy hour(3-6pm), so 3pm was an optimal time.

I’ve been to Gracias Madre once before and loved the food as well as the ambiance. The decor is very bright and inviting, and the food makes your tastebuds explode(literally). This is definitely my favorite vegan restaurant.

The Dine LA menu is $15 for lunch and allows you to pick 2 options out of quite a few, including appetizers and desserts. The 2 of us shared our 4 picks. The flautas de camote and winter empanadas were both warm, hearty dishes. The Coriflor frito was a smoky cauliflower with vegan cheese. Lastly, the fudge brownie dessert was too sweet in the brownie portion, but had more balance when paired with the ice cream on top. My favorite was the winter empanadas, and least favorite was the dessert(I’d probably try the Mexican wedding cookies next time; the brownie was just too sweet!).

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Flautas de camote & winter empanada 

From the happy hour menu we ordered nachos and 2 drinks–the Mezcal Mule and Purista Margarita. Nachos were a decent portion size which I enjoyed. Both of the drinks were a miss for me however. They were both very strong and bitter. Maybe because I don’t drink very much, I’m not sure how to assess these drinks but I’ve had much lighter and less strong drinks which suit me more. So if you drink, maybe these drinks will be more appreciated by you.

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Mezcal Mule & happy hour nachos; purista margarita in the background

All in all, I really enjoyed my dining experience at Gracias Madre. We spent about 1 and a half hours at the restaurant, but I really liked how spaced out the food was in terms of when it was served. It gave me a chance to digest and enjoy each plate. Because this restaurant is more on the pricy side, I would only come back during Dine LA or happy hour. The food is amazing though, trust me. I’m waiting for the next time Dine LA comes around 😉

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Dine LA round 1: TLT

Dine LA is happening right now! I’ve always wanted to go try a new place during the Dine LA restaurant week, and this was my first time going.

This week my apartment mates and I went to TLT food, a casual Asian fusion place in Westwood. For Dine LA lunch, I got the beef short rib quesadilla, Waldorf salad, and lime panna cotta dessert. These were all new items I had never tried.

The quesadilla was delicious, with a creamy sauce drizzled on top and plenty of beef inside. The salad was alright, but not something I would get again(in retrospect I probably should’ve tried the chimi wings instead). Lastly, the dessert was a custard-like, lime-flavored panna cotta with whipped cream on top.

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First ever Dine LA experience 

I’m no food critic, but TLT was pretty decent for Dine LA, at a reasonable price of $15. Bought separately, the items would have cost a total of $19, so we saved $4. That’s not a huge amount, but it was nice trying 3 new items that I probably wouldn’t have ordered if not for Dine LA. I was also really full after eating the entire quesadilla and part of the salad, which I had leftovers to bring home.

Next on my Dine LA list is Gracias Madre, my favorite vegan restaurant of all time! Stay tuned for that (:

Saturday hike: Temescal Canyon

Happy Sunday!

Yesterday I went on my first ever hike in LA! My friend, boyfriend, and I drove out to Pacific Palisades to Temescal Canyon. Parking was free on Temescal Canyon Rd, across from the high school. Paid parking is $7 and starts you closer to the trailhead.

We hiked a loop including the Temescal Canyon Trail and Viewpoint Trail. At the top of the hike, we saw views of downtown LA, Santa Monica Pier, and the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, it was foggy and we couldn’t see the view clearly, but I’m sure on a clear day the view would be gorgeous! I would characterize this as an intermediate hike(we definitely broke a sweat on the inclines), but definitely worth the views! Can’t wait to check it out again on a clear day.

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The fog turned the background white, but using the Instax mini outside was definitely better!

After the hike was girls brunch at Huckleberry, a bakery and brunch place in Santa Monica. Food was definitely pricy and the wait was long, so I probably wouldn’t come back for brunch.

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Beef brisket hash and poached eggs over vegetables

The conversations we had were great though and for that I’m thankful. It was so nice to catch up and hang out with a good, down-to-earth friend.

That wraps it up for now! Hope everyone’s having a great weekend!

 

Uncertainty

I’m about to graduate from college. Just 6 more months(plus summer school). Just 6 more months until the title of “college student” is taken away from me, to be replaced with “college graduate”. The comforting idea of college is taken away from me. The apartment that I live in, my roommates, the organizations I’m involved in–all that is taken away. Being a college student has become part of my identity, giving me a temporary goal for the future. I don’t have to do much deciding; the classes I can take for my major are outlined for me and I keep going, quarter after quarter, studying and working for that degree.

But with “college graduate” comes responsibility; responsibility for figuring out my life, for making a living, for providing for myself. I no longer have a schedule determined by school, and no longer know what my immediate future will be. No more classes to sign up for next quarter. No more college to go to. And with that comes uncertainty. Will I find a job? Will I get into medical school? Will I have a career that is fulfilling for my soul but also provides for me? Will I achieve my dreams?

Sometimes I’ve felt alone in this feeling of uncertainty. But after talking to my friends, acquaintances, old friends I reconnect with… I find the same feeling. And I realize I’m not actually alone. In a way, life is uncertain for everyone. No matter how successful or happy someone may appear, they will sometimes experience that feeling of uncertainty. No one’s got it all figured out. Instead, why don’t we trust? Trust that things will work themselves out, trust that no matter how hard of a time we’re going through right now, we will make it out stronger and better.

I hope that I’ll be able to embrace uncertainty one day. To not run away and hide from this fear of mine, but to embrace my fears and trust in wherever this road takes me.

Natural Skincare/Health Favorites

Hi friends! It’s been so long since I’ve posted on this blog, but here’s to more consistent posting..

It’s winter! I’ve been experiencing more dry skin and chapped lips, unfortunately. Here are some products that I really like to use(in any time of the year, actually) for my skin & body:

Heritage Brand Rosewater

I’ve used both the rosewater and rosewater & glycerin before. I like to spray this all over my face as a toner, morning and night. After cleansing my skin at night, I spritz my face to tone and soothe my skin. In the morning, I don’t cleanse my face but simply give it a couple splashes of water and spritz with the rosewater. I buy my rosewater at Whole Foods, in the largest volume they sell(best bang for your buck).

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub 

I’ve used this scrub for at least a year and love the natural ingredients in it! It gently exfoliates my skin and I just love how natural it is. Also, it does NOT use plastic beads which a lot of exfoliating scrubs use(btw Obama recently signed a bill banning microbeads in products, which pollute our oceans and end up in animals stomachs).

Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap

This soap has a million uses, which you can find on google. I mainly use this as my bodywash. It’s a concentrated soap, so I dilute it with water(1 to 1 ratio) into a small bottle that I keep in the shower. A couple squirts of this on a Salux bath cloth and I’m good to go. The cheapest deal I’ve been able to find is at Trader Joe’s which sells a large bottle of the Peppermint scent for about 12 bucks. You can find other scents of Castile soap at other stores such as Target, Sprouts, Whole foods, etc.

Salux Bath cloth

This Japanese bath cloth saved my life(and my back). Sorry if this is TMI but I have had back acne for a LONG time and which I struggled to control. Then I started using this bath cloth and castile soap on my body and back. It’s helped immensely.

Trader Joe’s Enrich Moisturizing Face Lotion(SPF 15)

This is a tried and true face lotion for me. I’ve been using this every day for the past 3 years of so. I have no other face lotions to compare this to, as I’ve only ever used this, but it works really well for me. My favorites about this lotion are the price, SPF, physical sunscreen ingredients, and it’s non-comedogenic. LOVE LOVE LOVE. (But I’m open to trying other face lotions with SPF, so if you have any recommendations of a natural face lotion w/SPF please comment below! I know it isn’t the most natural face lotion on the market.)

100% Pure liquid eyeliner in Black Tea

I’m not a makeup person at all, but I’ve been growing more interested in it lately, specifically natural makeup. There’s so many natural makeup & skincare brands out there, but one that I’ve been using is 100% Pure. This eyeliner is pigmented using black tea(isn’t that super cool?). I’m pretty bad at applying liquid eyeliner but I’ve learned how to apply this eyeliner pretty well after a couple months. It stays put all day, is waterproof, and I can feel good about not putting chemicals near my eyes. I also bought some other goodies from this company on Cyber Monday and can’t wait to try them out.

Yes to Coconuts Lip Balm

A simple tube lip balm with a coconut scent. Between this and the coconut scented EOS lip balm, I can’t choose a better one but love both. Lip balm is a must in the winter! (And yes I’m obsessed with coconut scented things thanks to my brother haha).

Products that I need suggestions of are a good hand cream, as I have the worst dry skin on my hands 😦

Well that is it folks!! Wishing everyone a happy new year!