Winter Break Highlights + New Years Fitness Resolutions

Ciao ragazzi,

I’m just making it back from a lovely and much need one month winter vacation. After a long first semester of grad school and adjusting to the SoCal life, I was so excited to have fun exploring a new city and getting back to the one that I love the most. This post is filled with the highlights of my time in Austin and Chicago. As you will notice, most of the featured selections are of food (go figure). I pretty much just ate my way through these cities. Luckily, both cities were more than equip to satiate me. List is in no particular order.

1.Torchy’s Tacos


torchys2So these were the best tacos that I’ve ever had in my life. Hands down. The first one if called “Mr. Pink” also known as blackened salmon + grilled corn + black bean relish and avocado sauce = heaven. The other is called the “Brush Fire” which is jerk chicken, grilled jalapeno and mango deliciousness. Seriously amazing. The little balls of joy in the second picture are deep fried chocolate chip cookies. Not exactly healthy, I know but when on vacation, one must indulge in the local delicacies. If you’re ever in Austin, this is an absolute must. I don’t know that average tacos will ever fully satisfy me again.

2. Trail of Lights – Cute little outdoor winter wonderland of lights and displays of childhood characters


3. These AMAZING cookies made from this recipe.


4. Little Goat

lgcollageWhile doing research for my restaurant adventures back in Chi-Chi, I stumbled across Girl and the Goat, award-winning resto by none other than Top Chef’s Stephanie Izard. I had also heard about this place through the foodie grapevine a few months back. I had planned to go visit the Girl and her Goat with my friend (hi Sabine!) for lunch only to realize that it’s exclusively a dinner/bar place that doesn’t open until 4:30. While stalking the website, however, I noticed a link to its hip, brunchy, diner-style sister resto Little Goat. After fighting the 7 degree fierce Chicago winds and enduring the 45 minute wait, I was more than pleased with my meal. Sloppy goat (sloppy joe made with goat meat and topped with rosemary slaw). Brussel sprouts with almonds. Hot crab dip. I was a fan. A big one. This place has definitely made the list of must-eats whenever I go back to the hometown.

5. And on the day that the polar vortex hit Chi-Town, I battled the -17 windchill to keep my reservation at Girl and the Goat. No regrets……Nope, none.


6. Enrgi Fitness Chicago

lSo of course I couldn’t be home for three weeks without finding a temporary gym home. While I would love to be one of those intense people who run in all types of weather, I could not bring myself, no matter how much expensive high-tech running gear I put on, to run in Chicago winters. I stumbled across this place online and was hesitant to join because it only offers classes (not a traditional gym with tons of cardio/strength equipment with which one can workout freely) and because it didn’t offer spinning. After testing out a gym that had both of those things and not being impressed with it, I gave Enrgi a shot and I was SO happy I did. I really hate that I had to leave this place. The people, both instructors and fellow class-goers, are awesome. Instructors are supportive and encouraging while still pushing you to challenge yourself mentally and physically. I had a great yoga instructor who challenged me to do poses that I was always to afraid to try and I discovered that I could do crow pose and, with assistance, a forearm stand. The classes are well designed so that you never leave feeling like you’ve wasted your time and you come away with confidence in your body’s strength. This place is definitely be my go-to gym spot whenever I’m back in the Chi for breaks. Read more about Enrgi in this Fitness Feature.

7. (And last but most certainly not least) Lovely and familiar faces

laura sabine One of the best parts about going back to Chi Chi is seeing the familiar faces that I’ve know and love and don’t get to see often enough. At this point in my life, I’m lucky enough to have friends that I met in high school, college, summer research programs, the gym, etc. to catch up with. It’s always nice to get caught up on each others lives before having to go another 5-6 months without seeing each other. There are others who I didn’t get pictures of but you know who you are. Thanks for making this vacation amazing.

And here’s some nature eye candy from Barton Creek in Austin.

bartoncreek3 bartoncreek4

Now on to the resolutions!

So I’m not really big on new years resolutions but I thought it would be an interesting exercise to think about what I would like to achieve in the fitness department. While there are a ton of other areas of my life that could possibly benefit from me making a commitment to certain goals, I’m just going to ignore them in favor of the fun stuff. 😛 By the end of 2014 I would like to …

  1. Have run a half marathon
  2. Be able to do a forearm stand OR scorpion pose

My list is only two things but I still think it’s pretty ambitious especially considering that I ran 5 miles yesterday and thought I was going to die. I’m telling myself that it’s just because I haven’t run in over a month rather than because my dreams of running a half marathon are ridiculous. 😀

2013 ended on a high note. I’m back in LA now. Gearing up for semester two of this whole PhD thing and excited about my new blog adventures. Hope you guys are as ready as I am to turn up in 2014.

What were some of the highlights of you guys’ holidays? What are your goals for the new year? GWHG

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