It took me 10+ years to figure out my favorite band even though it should have been quite obvious. After seeing Flogging Molly for the 12th time in 2015, I finally had the realization that the Celtic-rock band I’d been listening to since before high school was a clear and distant first place.
I’ve now seen Flogging Molly 14 times and have every intention of continuing to do so at every opportunity. I’ve attended their shows in Tempe, Peoria, Flagstaff, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and San Diego.
From the moment I heard their Irish-brand, sound I was in love. It mixed the depths of my emerald colored soul with the hard, punk sound I enjoy. When I went to my first Flogging Molly show in 2005 I had no idea what I was in for. The smell of beer and the drunken mob of pasty-white, American-Irish boys doing a combination of what can only be described as a ‘mosh-jig’, was both scary and mesmerizing at the same time. It’s something I’ve come to expect and appreciate with every FM concert I attend. I know exactly where I want to situate myself before the show for my ideal experience – near the front of the crowd, close to the stage and slightly to the left. If everything goes according to plan I am close enough to the mosh pit to be bumped by the over-zealous pushes, but out of direct harms way and with plenty of room to flail and jump around to the music myself.
I’ve changed a lot over the years, but my love for Flogging Molly, and the sweaty mess, absence of a voice, Lizzy I’m left with at the end of every show will always be a constant.
“No color left, but black and white and soon we’ll all turn grey.
But may these shadows rise to walk again with lessons truly learnt.
When the blossom flowers in each our hearts shall be the new found flame.”
Anyone who follows my blog and/or Instagram knows that I keep my eating habits fairly clean and pride myself on a healthy lifestyle. I also have a very sensitive body and it’s taken me years to find out what foods make me feel at my best.
Even with my vegan diet I can fall into a cycle of low-energy and ‘poor’ eating. My portions were too big and I was eating too late. I also didn’t feel like I had the energy to be active. I needed something to reset my body and mind back into balance – cue the 12 Day Smoothie Slim Detox.
As a vegan, drinking 3 fruit and veggie smoothies per day didn’t sound difficult, but it did sound like a great way to detox my body, shrink my stomach back to normal and hopefully get back to feeling great — and that’s exactly what happened.
12 Day Smoothie Slim Detox
Small amount of cravings
Low energy on day 1
As you an see… the pros well outweigh the cons.
The Smoothie Slim Detox is a 12 day plan of delicious smoothie recipes 3 times per day with 1-2 healthy snacks. It’s great because you can make all 3 smoothies in a batch each morning and divide them out for the day ahead (or even the night before).
For days that I knew the smoothie prep was a little more intensive I took the time the night before to prepare the various ingredients and snacks.
By day 6 I was 4.5 pounds down and feeling amazing. My energy levels were about double what they were prior to starting the detox and I began a new workout routine on day 7. Days 8-12 my energy continued to increase and so did my stamina.
Overall I have lost 8 pounds on the scale and gained muscle.
Starting weight: 154 lbs
Ending weight: 146 lbs
I now feel ready to jump back into my healthy world with better portion control and a more active lifestyle. I am on the continuous journey to be the best version of me.
Verdict: Highly recommend.
Instructions and recipes for the 12 Day Smoothie Slim Detox can be found here in an incredibly affordable e-book by Your Healthy World.
Reset your body and jump start healthy habits in less than 2 weeks!
I’ve been a vegetarian, leaning towards vegan, for some time now. At the turn of the New Year I made the decision to cut the small amount of remaining animal products out of my diet. Truly the only thing left was cheese – so I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult (although I really love cheese).
There are a lot of factors contributing to this choice and it’s been a long time coming. It’s not completely based in morality and not completely in health — I suppose I’m continually on a quest to find a diet that makes me feel the best that I can on a physical and spiritual level. I have found that right now this means eating as cleanly as possible. But even clean eating has it’s indulgence.
I found mine at Evolution Fast Food in San Diego. Vegan fast-food joints are popping up all over to provide plant-based eaters with versions of taboo items like cheeseburgers, tacos and milk-shakes. Chefs are finding amazing ways to create completely vegan-friendly substitutions for even the richest animal product foods.
Evolution is situated just outside of Balboa Park and next to another vegan restaurant Donna Jean which I’m sure I’ll talk about in another post. Evolution is even equipped with a drive-thru; as any good fast-food place should be. I stood looking at the menu for much more time than I should have, but there were so many amazing choices that I wanted to order everything! I settled on a few ‘classics’ — ‘cheeseburger’, chili ‘cheese’ fries and a chocolate shake.
*Besides becoming vegan by choice I am also plagued by multiple food intolerances including soy and gluten. This can make finding vegan substitutions difficult. I often choose to avoid substitutions altogether and stick to plant-based home cooking.
I was visibly excited as I awaited my name to be called and to be handed the brown paper bag of vegan goodness.
Gluten-free, soy free, black bean-quinoa patty. Vegan cheese. Ketchup, mustard, and vegan mayo. Gluten-Free bun (optional).
‘Chili Cheese Fries’
*Evolution offers vegan shakes and ice creams, but I opted for a smoothie called ‘Mystic Monk’.
Almond milk,chocolate powder, tahini, banana and ginger.
Verdict – absolutely delicious. And this fast food meal didn’t leave me feeling bloated and with an upset-grease filled stomach. Even for non-vegans I believe plant-based fast food restaurants like ‘Evolution’ are a great option.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding vegan diets, and I consider myself on a continual learning-based journey that will shape the way I live my life – including diet. Here’s the way I see it.
I like animals. I don’t agree with the production-line food industry that we have created in this society on many, many levels. I feel better when I am not consuming meat and dairy. By choosing a diet that makes me feel good physically I also excuse myself from supporting a corrupt industry that I find to be unethical on the levels of animal treatment, honesty in business, and environmental impacts.
This is my only body and my only earth. I hope to continue finding ways both big and small to take care of it.
I know that there are farmers, businesses, chefs and consumers dedicated to operating according to the best possible standards of food production and preparation both plant and animal based. I choose to opt out of animal-based consumption as I don’t feel I have the resources or time to support these operations on a scale that would make me comfortable enough to do otherwise. To those under the category described above – thank you.
Panama. Before travelling to Panama the only thing I really knew about the country was that there was a famous canal there. I will even admit that prior to visiting the Panama Canal I didn’t really know anything about it either. But what an incredible country. We spent a week in Panama, but this post will focus on one adventure in particular: El Valle De Anton.
I don’t consider myself a particularly avid hiker, but I do fancy a day walking through the wilderness every once in awhile, and when I’m in a foreign place I’m always down. We didn’t make a lot of plans prior to getting on the plane to Central America, but I did know that I wanted to hike in the Rain Forest. We got one day in El Valle De Anton, and it was incredible.
Located inland, the valley is an inactive volcanic crater and is surrounded by dense Rain Forest; which is where our hiking adventure begins. We had a guide to help us navigate through the forest – this is not required, but we chose to bring a local along as not to get lost. It was a grueling hike to the peak – but it was well worth it. The upward path was filled with waterfalls, thousand year old stone etchings, and dense, damp, green jungle.
As we made it to the top, the forest opened up into vast hills with views of the valley below. And then…all of a sudden — MIST. It happened so fast that it was had to believe. The valley below disappeared into a thick fog and less then 10 seconds later rain began to pour from the sky. It was one of the most beautiful and happiest moments of my life thus far. Truly incredible. The rain began to turn into a downpour and our guide suggested making our way down as it was only going to get worse.
I had thought the walk upward was difficult – I was not prepared for the slippery waterfall awaiting us on the way down . As we made the descent along the same path we had ascended it turned into a river before our eyes. My first thought was that our journey down was going to be dangerous, but storms in the Rain Forest can last for hours, so it was the only option. We cautiously found our footing and made it down the mountain to the town. I slipped a few times – only once all the way on my ass. It was slow going, and the path that was clear on the way up had rushing water halfway up our calves on the way down. By the time we reached the town we were soaked to the bone and exhausted. I loved every second.
I’ve traveled to the East Coast on various occasions – each one filled with a lot of fun and food – but in 2013 I experienced one of my most memorable trips. Accompanied by my 3 roommates I traveled from Flagstaff, AZ to Boston, MA and over the course of 5 days we did Boston, NYC, Saratoga, New Haven, and Martha’s Vineyard. It was an exhausting whirlwind and so worth it.
*In 2013 I was still a full blown omnivore and although I was aware of my allergy to wheat I was still willing to suffer for good food.*
Boston is one of those places that every time I visit I can 100% see myself living there. The food scene alone is enough to make me want to become a Bostonian and not to mention when you live in the cluster that is the New England area you’re never far from anywhere else (NYC, Vermont, Maryland.. even Canada).
Mike’s Pastry – Home of the Cannoli. If you’re walking around Boston it’s not difficult to figure out that Mike’s Pastry is the place to visit – locals and tourists alike are carrying their signature white and blue pastry boxes all over the city. Inside it’s exactly what you would imagine for a popular New England bakery – loud and fast. There are multiple lines, numbers, and you can tell that the employees are no-bullshit (with a smile). You better know what you want before you get to the counter because you do not want to be the person holding up that well-oiled machine. Home of the Cannoli indeed.
Regina Pizzeria. That’s one thing about good East Coast eateries – lines lines lines. Every place is well worth it though – why else would people line up around the street? There are now many locations all over the city, but the original Regina Pizzeria (since 1926) is in Boston’s North End on Thacher St. — Once inside it really just feels like any other local sports bar with pitchers of beer and crankin’ out the pizzas. One good indicator of the amount of tables this place goes through is the fact that they use paper plates – no time for washing dishes. For delicious, local, brick-oven pizza – Regina Pizzeria is the place.
Regina Pizzeria – Boston, MA
Regina Pizzeria – Boston, MA
Regina Pizzera – Boston, MA
Chinatown – Boston, MA. I don’t know about everyone else – but when I’m traveling and there is a Chinatown located in one of the cities I like to venture that direction because I know I’ll find some good eats. Boston was no different. Boston Chinatown is one of the largest and well known in the U.S. — it has a great location in the heart of the city, so it’s easy to get to and easy to get to where you’re going next. Restaurants, bakeries and shops line the colorful streets.
China Town – Boston, MA
China Town – Boston, MA
China Town – Boston, MA
James Hook & Co. You can’t visit Boston without enjoying a Lobster Roll. I’ve sampled Lobster Rolls on the East and West coast.. and sorry, home – but they’ve definitely got us beat. There’s just nothing like the traditional New England ‘lobstah’ roll. Located on the water’s edge it feels right walking into James Hook & Co’s tiny building and sampling fresh seafood. Do yourself a favor and order the classic lobster roll and you won’t be disappointed with the mountains of lobster meat between 2 buttery sides of toasted bun.
There’s quite a lot to see and do in Connecticut, but I’ll focus on New Haven (home of Yale University) and Norwalk. As a side note, I’d like to point out that Yale is the closest thing to Hogwarts I’ve ever experienced (besides The Wizarding World of Harry Potter of course).
Memo’s Colombian Restaurant & Bakery in Norwalk, CT is an experience to say the least. It’s an incredibly unassuming establishment that had I not been accompanied by a Colombian from Connecticut I’d never have even known it was there. Having never eaten Colombian food before and with no idea what to expect we decided on the follwing — order one of almost everything on the menu and multiple bakery items. I mean… I had 3 strapping young men with me to assist in consuming these heaps of food. Try as we might we couldn’t finish everything, but it was delicious, heavy, meat-forward food that made you want to nap for the entire rest of the day. Just plain good ol’, home-cooked food.
Memo’s – Norwalk, CT
Memo’s Colombian – Norwalk, CT
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana – New Haven, CT. We walked all over New Haven exploring the campus of Yale University, a local farmer’s market, and then through some shady neighborhood streets and across train tracks to get to Frank Pepe Pizzeria. A little history is necessary with this classic Napoletana style pizza joint. New Haven, CT is considered one of the best pizza cities in the nation – but often overlooked due to it’s small town status. Frank Pepe’s was started in the early 1900’s by one of the many immigrant families from Napoli, Italy and immediately established itself as the number one pizza place in the area. A bit unique in it’s style their pizza is coal fired, thin crust, and popular toppings include white sauce, clams, tangy tomato sauces and sometimes cheese. There is a notorious rivalry between Frank Pepe and Sally’s Apizza – so don’t hesitate to check them both out and make your own decision.
Lines. Lines. Lines.
New York, New York.
I am always down to visit New York City. It’s everything you would ever imagine based on the countless TV shows, movies, and stories you hear about the city that never sleeps. You could live there your entire life and never experience all of the culinary wonders awaiting around every corner – but every time I visit I’m drawn to two places time and again – Chinatown and Little Italy. There are Michelin star restaurants, hole in the wall pizza joints, and delicious delis lining every street of this grand city, but my heart (and stomach) wants what it wants.
Chinatown – NYC.
One word: Noodles. If you like dumplings, whole cooked ducks on display in the window, and lemon chicken (yes lemon.. not f***ing orange) – then Chinatown NYC is for you. I myself search out dem noodles. It’s difficult to go wrong in choosing a place to eat – I’m sure they’re all amazing. I was on the search for my favorite NYC Chinatown place – ‘Happy Lucky’ but on the way we ran into a women on the street that said – “Do you like noodles? This place has the best noodles.” How did she know!? So I said “Sorry, guys, I know I was raving about Happy Lucky but we’re going here instead”.
Best. Decision. Ever.
Little Italy – NYC. Little Italy and Chinatown are located conveniently adjacent to each other in NYC making it very easy to have two full meals one right after the other — because obviously. Go anywhere in Little Italy for a good slice of pizza, amazing pasta, and delicious cannoli. I’m not even joking – there are old Italian men, dressed to the nines, sitting on chairs outside of their restaurants, and grandmas yelling in Italian at each other out of apartment windows across the busy streets below… it’s surreal.
Many more adventures than this were had by me and my compatriots throughout this New England trip, but I hope you enjoyed hearing about some of the best food I’ve ever had.
And cheers to the best housemates I’ve ever had also.
Thailand – The land of smiles. It really is very aptly named – the locals are always smiling and so welcoming. I think this has partially to do with a genuine appreciation for life, and some with the fact that they understand tourism is a major part of their economic upkeep. Regardless of the reason, the Thai are a pleasant people.
I spent almost 2 weeks in Thailand, and surely will post many times about various adventures, but this will focus on my experience on the Similan Islands. Not the most popular island destination associated with Thailand (that would probably go to Phi Phi Island), but surely one of it’s most beautiful. Don’t get me wrong; they’re all beautiful — but from the stories I’ve heard, Phi Phi is a little overrun with tourists and for that fact overrun with tourist traps. The Similan Islands are less traveled.
The Similan Islands are so called because ‘similan’ means nine and there are NINE islands. Not all are tourist friendly – but Koh Miang (No.4), Koh Payu (No.7), Koh Similan (No. 8), and Koh Ba Ngu (No.9) are most commonly visited.
My travel companion and I booked a tour to the Similan Islands — this was a good plan as it’s a bit of a boat ride to the islands and it included a lot for a little cost. Wow Andaman was a fantastic deal — see the end of this entry for details.
We booked a full day trip and were in for a multitude of adventures — boat rides to multiple islands, snorkeling, hiking, a stellar lunch spread, and beautiful landscapes/beaches. I will remember those white sands and piercing blue waters forever.
I’ll admit I was a bit nervous for the snorkeling portion, but I was able to overcome my fear and enjoy it for the most part. The water off this coast of Thailand is so clear you almost don’t need a snorkeling mask to see the wildlife below – but I donned one anyways.
My FAVORITE part of the day was the hike. I’ve never been much of a “beach bunny” as my mom would say — but give me a good hike and I’m there. The beaches of the Similan Islands are as much a jungle as they are a beach — which is unique for someone whose beach experience prior to Thailand consisted mostly of Southern California. There’s a slight mountainous quality to the beaches along the Similan Islands that lends itself well to hiking for those willing to brave some slightly treacherous heights — and I was very willing. The views… *sigh*… the views.
I’d like to highlight the lunch provided by Wow Andaman tours – traditional, plentiful, and delicious. We enjoyed a buffet of Thai food in the heart of Similan National Park (basically a beautiful jungle). After a slighty grueling hike, an hour or so of snorkeling, and a filling lunch, I opted for some time enjoying the unique beach. As I mentioned I’m not much of a beach person, but even I didn’t want to miss out on the unique experience that is the beaches of Thailand.
Exhausted, sunburned, and happy, we endured the hour+ boat ride back to the shores of Phuket. A day well spent and a day long remembered: The Similan Islands.
Wow Andaman – Well. Worth. The. Money. — Great service, great time. That’s really all I have to say.
I’m not going to lie – before visiting Napa, everything I knew about it I learned from Dennis Quaid in the 1998 version of The Parent Trap. And let’s be honest… what woman wouldn’t want to go down into Nick Parker’s wine cellar?
Well, I may not have met Dennis Quaid while traipsing around Napa, but I did try some amazing wine and meet some amazing people. I experienced more than just fermented grapes, but this entry will focus on the wineries I visited.
My trip to Napa was only 2.5 days; and in that time I managed to see 6 of their over 400 wineries. So much wine, so little time. The first full day in Napa my travel companion and I decided to book a wine tour so we didn’t have to worry about figuring out which wineries to visit and transportation (you don’t really want to be driving around the curvy back roads between wineries once your 3 of 4 tastings deep). We chose Platypus for our excursion and I’m SO glad we did. *See the end of this entry for more information.
Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert on wine (revert to the beginning of this post for confirmation on that) but I like what I like. The descriptions below are not reviews, but rather narrations of my experiences – all positive.
The first stop of our tour and my favorite wines of the day. What a perfect beginning. The atmosphere was woodsy and relaxed. The tasting featured some delicious wines – but I must highlight one in particular – The Poet [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec]. It was the star of the show. It was silky smooth with notes of blackberry and dark red cherries – subtle warming spice – I loved it.
Auburn James Winery
Out of the wineries we visited this was my favorite tasting experience. The wines were all delicious and the tasting was awesome. It was very informative and also laid back. Tim Ennis, the winery’s manager, hosted the tasting and we were fortunate enough to get some face time with Jim Frost (the James in Aurburn James) – the winemaker. Favorite wine: Speedster [45% Petit Verdot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc]. If you’re looking for a small, intimate tasting experience with some delicious wines – this place is perfect.
The neatest part of this place was the ‘wine cave’. The wines were not my favorite, but they were good. What can I say? It’s wine. But the cave was awesome. Nestled in the side of the Napa hillside, the cave is hidden behind two beautiful wooden doors and filled with rows and rows of wine barrels. That’s what I’ll remember out Fairwinds.
Large spanning vineyards, beautiful outdoor patio – big scale operation with a personal feel. Provenance winery had a very intimate style tasting – sitting in lounge furniture around an outdoor fire pit. Our host took us inside for a ‘barrel-tasting’ – this. was. awesome. We had the opportunity to sample wine in the middle of the fermenting process – although not particularly tasty, it was well worth the experience.
Black Stallion Estate Winery
Fo over all experience – I choose Black Stallion Estate Winery. The grounds of the vineyard are breathtaking, the buildings architecturally pleasing, delicious wines, and great staff. We had the pleasure of meeting the General Manager, Josh and he took us into the processing area to learn about wine making – what a treat! Two fun facts about Black Stallion – they’re built on the grounds of an actual horseman’s center (stables, trails, riding arena… the whole bit) and their 2012 Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon was served at the 2017 presidential inauguration (I’d like to point out that this in no way reflects the political views of Black Stallion Estate Winery or it’s employees – but rather simply examples their amazing wine making).
Luna is located right off of Silverado Trail just down the road from Black Stallion Winery. It’s a beautiful little building with a 2nd floor viewing deck that looks over their expanse of vineyards. This is also the only winery where I tried Sparkling Wine [Carneros] – YUM.
I feel satisfied with the amount of wine I ingested while in Napa, and very much plan to visit again to drink delicious wine, with amazing people, in a beautiful place.
P.S. I also had some awesome non-wine related experiences in Napa – check out my Michelin Star blog entry here and coming soon – Napa Valley Sans Wine.
Let’s talk Platypus Wine Tours.
We booked this tour VERY last minute (as in 11:00pm the night before) and boy am I glad we did. The shuttle picked us up at our hotel (Napa Valley Marriott) and we were greeted by the most wonderful driver – Dave. The tour included shuttle service to 4 wineries (always random – always awesome), complimentary water, and complimentary CHEESE plate… yeah, cheese plate! The wine tastings are not included in the price – BUT – you receive a discounted price of $15/tasting at most of the wineries (and some tastings can be pretty pricey otherwise). Many of the wineries also offer discounts on purchasing wines while on a Platypus tour.
Check them out here. We had a couple on our shuttle who had been on SEVEN Platypus tours over the years…if that doesn’t speak volumes, I don’t know what does.