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No-Bake Coconut Bars

Historically speaking, I haven’t had the chance to spend actual-Mother’s Day with my mom in many years (hooray for attending a school that’s across the country), but on the plus side, we did get to go out for food last week as an early celebration of sorts, and I got to call and talk to her yesterday (after I’d waited long enough to be sure that she was most likely awake; hello time zones). <3

I spent yesterday here with my “adopted mom.” (I think I’ve been ridiculously blessed in that I have really amazing people in my life, many of whom I’ve pretty much adopted as second families.) :] My original plan had actually been to treat her to brunch or dinner, but before I could ask, she intercepted with the very reasonable statement that there were lines everywhere and asked if I wanted to have huevos rancheros for breakfast. (Yes, yes I did. But now what was I gonna do? :[ )

My friend had already picked up flowers and wine for her, and since I knew she wasn’t the biggest fan of sweets, but loved coconut, I decided to make some coconut-y dessert. I was majorly pressed for time though since I’d studied most of the day away. There were a number of amazing-looking recipes, but many of them required baking, soaking things overnight, chilling for several hours…and let’s face it, ain’t nobody got time for that when it’s already 6 p.m. and dinner’s at 7:30 (+ you need to fit a grocery trip in there somehow). :O

So I did an adaptation of this! I brought along gelato (caramel cookie crunch!) just in case it didn’t turn out the way I hoped, but everything worked out quite well. :] If you don’t have 2 hours to let it sit in the fridge, you can stuff it in the freezer for 25 minutes like I did (and spend those 25-30 minutes folding/putting away clothes, washing dishes and speed-cleaning the apartment).

No-Bake Coconut Bars

~104 calories, 13g CHO’s, 5g fat, 3g protein, 2g fiber, 25mg sodium!

-2 cups rolled oats
-4 tbsp sweetened coconut flakes + some more for topping
-1/4 cup Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful
-1/4 cup natural almond butter
-1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
-2 tbsp honey
-1 tbsp hot chocolate powder
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-sprinkle of sea salt

1) Combine oatmeal + shredded coconut in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2) Combine peanut butter, almond butter, almond milk, honey and hot chocolate powder in a sauce pan. Cook on medium heat while stirring until well combined. Heat until mixture is fragrant + thickened (~5 minutes).
3) Turn off stove + stir in vanilla and sprinkle in some sea salt.
4) Pour mixture into oatmeal mixture and mix until well combined.
5) Pour into non-stick baking dish and press down until evenly distributed. Sprinkle with extra coconut.
6) Let sit in fridge for 2 hours, or in the freezer for 25-30 minutes.


birthday celebrations

It was my birthday last week, which is slightly bittersweet because it means that I now officially have to pay for my own health insurance (nooooo!!!). Parting is such sweet sorrow. :[! However, I have pretty much the coolest friends ever, so…three birthday celebrations later, I am finally actually writing about it. :O

On the actual day of, we had plans to go to the Chinese buffet in town because it was right after Easter and my friend was craving General Tso’s chicken (she gave up meat for Lent). Monika and Hira were about two steps from getting me a gift card to Kroger for my birthday (yes, such is my love for food and grocery-shopping), but decided instead to get me a curling iron for my “future cosmetic endeavors.” (They reasoned that I was much more likely to buy myself food vs. a curling iron, and they are indeed correct.) Mayhaps I can finally start learning how to do all of these hairstyles! <3 It’d be a great improvement from my current state (…I rarely comb my hair).

Andrea made me a strawberry mango cake!

On Friday, the gang (our band) and I were going to head to Stardust Cafe, a farm to table restaurant that’s probably one of my favorite eateries here…but we neglected to remember that it was Friday and that reservations might have been a good idea. (Oops.) We tried Food & Friends, but the wait was equally as long and we were all hungry, so I suggested we go to When Pigs Fly, which was not downtown and thus, less likely to not have a wait. It’s another one of my favorite restaurants in town because the owners are super friendly and welcoming, and they have awesome portions. And pulled chicken. PULLED CHICKEN. <3 (Every other place on earth seems to serve just pulled pork, which I cannot consume, hence my enthusiasm.) When they heard that we were out to celebrate my birthday, they asked if I wanted them to sing for me, while including as an aside that I probably would not want to hear it because they couldn’t sing very well.

: How ’bout this? Why don’t we give you free ice cream instead? That’ll be better for your ears anyway.
F: Deal! :O!

(They have homemade ice cream that I’ve been meaning to try.) It was hard to decide on a flavor. I sampled the black raspberry, blueberry pomegranate, orange cream and strawberry cheesecake and they were all equally amazing. *-* After dinner, we went back to our respective study hovels and I eventually returned to what I refer to as my crazy kids (aka the 80-ish cats at the shelter). I completely embrace the term, “crazy cat lady.” I’m fast headed in that direction and very much love it here. :]

Sarge’s progression from the bed to my butt. (“Well, your butt does have its own orbit…”)

This is how I lure the army of cats in at night so I can close the doors and prevent them from run-ins with the heartlessly cruel neighbor/getting eaten by coyotes.

The next morning, I got in some studying before running off to church. (I’m the pianist about 50% of the time.)

An obligatory picture of my church meal! They are amazing cooks. :x

I disappeared back into the catacombs to stuff in 5 lectures so that I could actually enjoy myself later on. My pastor invited a bunch of people over to his place to have a birthday party for me. :O!

Two types of fried rice (and not questionably reheated, so there were no traces of B. cereus!) + a vegetarian sushi roll! I probably had 6 plates because I have issues with moderation.

Jennifer made me an amazingly delicious chocolate cake with shredded coconut and pecans. We ate it with sliced bananas. <3

We improvised with the candle because the guys neglected to check their text messages when they went to Wally World and I insisted that they stay and not go back out to get one.

I was even serenaded by a quartet! This required three takes. Ronald got my name right on the third try, hahaha.

Someone’s prom is this coming weekend and my friend is helping her with the hair, so I was the guinea pig model for a waterfall braid. :D I need to learn to do this. And possibly also change my part every now and then.

I hadn’t played Settlers since grad school. We used to gather every weekend at someone’s house and play until we hated each other (for serious, this game gets pretty personal and breaks up friendships like no other–except Munchkin, which may well be the ultimate game of backstabbery). In spring semester, it got to the point where we actually brought the game to school to play during our study breaks.

I managed to win, but just barely! If Jennifer had not traded a card with me, she would’ve won right after my turn.

I’m the blue! :D They called my road the “Great Wall of China.” hah.

I’m really going to miss all the friends I made here. Here’s to hoping I pass my boards + get my schedule soon so I can plan out when I can come back to visit. >_>

easter sunday

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I realize that Easter was actually on the 20th of April, but since I write everything so far into the future (yes, I really am that kind of type A), most of the posts that I write in real-time end up getting posted much later. Bear with me! :O Sometimes, I even manage to make an edit of in my posts of something that’s actually current (e.g. happened in the last day or two). It’s rare, but it happens. This was the weekend after the last of my classes finally ended (hooray hooray!), so I volunteered to help my friend prepare food/help out with whatever she might need. F: Is there anything I should bring? What can I help with? E: Yes! Thank you so much for offering! Can you be here at 6 tomorrow? A: …in the morning? F: (thinking the exact same thought and thoroughly regretting having said anything) Due to a late study night/morning and the misplacement of my house keys, I ended up getting there at 7 and instead of helping with the cooking (Heidi had it well covered; she is magical in the kitchen) and helped with vacuuming, setting up all the tables, chairs, centerpieces and being the accompanist. Our breakfast included buckwheat or whole wheat pancakes, oatmeal banana waffles, a tofu scramble with veggies, walnut oat patties and hash browns. Toppings for the pancakes/waffles included coconut cream, diced strawberries/kiwi/cantaloupe, sliced bananas + apples, blueberry syrup and maple syrup. :]

The food was amazingly delicious and I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I ate 3 more plates of food even after I was already at the point of being uncomfortably stuffed. It was too good to pass up. :/

I thought all this looked pretty spiffy! :]

After studying on campus for several hours, I had a light dinner with Linda before heading to Sean/Isaac’s to study a little more before our weekly gathering for Game of Thrones.

My favorite roll at Fujiyama is the Paradise roll (It’s spicy salmon and avocado topped with more salmon.  <3)

Twas a good weekend. :D Probably one of the most relaxing ones I’m gonna have in a very long time.

And now…for a rather abrupt change in topics (I gotta work on my transitions!), I’m joining in on my first-ever fitness challenge that’s being hosted by Jen (a fellow GGSA), Samantha, Carley, and Anna. It’s basically to get in some kind of movement for at least 20 minutes for every day of May, which should be completely doable, and is something I very much need because I’ve been feeling guilty for even taking a break to eat these days because it detracts from my studying time. I just keep a bag of food next to me and eat while I study. Sad, but true.

JVKom Chronicles

Karen (also a fellow GGSA :) over at Kama Fitness is also doing a challenge, so I figured I’d just stack the two. The more the merrier!  You can find out more information by clicking the link below!

Kama Fitness

chillin’ at PSAC

The day after I finished my last final ever (it still feels unreal) and after I’d recovered from my Once-Upon-A-Time Netflix marathon-coma, I went to go help out at Please Save A Cat. :D Linda is pretty much like my mom here and I love getting to help out/hang out with her whenever I have the chance to. We share a lot of the same loves (animals, sushi, California, salmon, avocado…food of all sorts), and now that classes are over and done with, it makes being able to set my own schedule of studying/meals/working out/breaks a lot easier.

The sunset on the farm was breathtakingly gorgeous.

While I was out poop-scooping and feeding the cats, Linda put some salmon on the grill.

We had to get past a 15-cat barricade to get to the salmon in the grill.

Herman decided to hitch a ride across my shoulders.


Lady loves attention, but gives up fairly easily.

The cats? Not so much. :P

I have a purring rumbly cat-scarf. <3

We had a late dinner of grilled salmon with lime & celery, brown rice cooked in chicken broth, a bed of organic spring greens and half an avocado in the living room (while covered in happy, snuggly pets). :]! There really is no better way to spend my downtime. <3 I’m going to miss it here so much.

This is my adorable roommate when I stay over at Please Save A Cat.

I’m about two steps away from fostering/adopting her. ;_;

Her owner recently passed away from cancer and she’s been rather depressed, but lately, she’s been coming out of her shell and she apparently loves me. The only thing stopping me from actually taking her is the fact that I don’t want her to have to be moved around every couple months for wherever I happen to end up. I don’t stay anywhere long enough to settle down anywhere long enough right now. :[

Whatcha doin’ there?

Nike Women’s Marathon (2010)

In the rare instances where I write about doing any form of cardio, I think I invariably mention how much I hate it. This was not always the case. While I’ve never loved it, I really did give it a fighting chance and…tolerated it for a time. Back in the day, when I was dating an avid runner, he’d convince me to come with him on his crazy treks throughout town. The very first time, I obliged, but on my bike. That was actually kinda fun (and I didn’t feel like I was slowing him down, so there was that), but I was dragged on several more of these crazy adventures throughout the year, and it was pretty much a testament to how much I liked spending time with this guy. After he introduced me to/I fell in love with weightlifting, running was but a distant thing of the past (other than uh, some more 6-7 mile runs that I managed to live through only because it meant that we’d get to eat the world afterward).

Anyway, if you fastforwarded (really rewinded, since we are now in 2014) to May of 2010, a Nike college ambassador came into my exercise psychology class to pitch to us the awesome-ness that was the Nike Women’s Marathon. Her exact wording may have been something along the lines of how “finishers [would] get a Tiffany’s necklace presented to [them] on a silver platter by a hunky SF fireman in a tuxedo.”

I’m usually not into this whole expensive jewelry thing, since I’d much rather spend my money on food (they don’t call me a black hole for nothin’!). But if I were to run a half marathon and they’d give it to me? Why would I ever say no? Especially when there was a fat discount offered to college students? (My mom was appalled by the idea of having to pay to run. I think once upon a time, I thought the same way about this, but anyway.)

I coerced two of my friends from junior high to come along and run it with me. At the time, I’d started running somewhat regularly, but was forced to take a break in the fall due to a super-fun back injury. The idea of this half-marathon entered my head when I’d just gone through ~1.5 quarters of cardio kickboxing. I figured that signing up for this would do me a whole lot of good, including:
1) Motivating me to actually run regularly
2) Giving me an excuse to hang out with Whitney/Becca once we were all back home (this was the year we all graduated from undergrad, in case you were wondering)
3) Brag rights if I finished running it without dying

#2 slightly backfired because Whitney ended up not being able to do the run with us. #1’s “regularly” was relative, but considering my running as of that year before and how grumpy I got after mile 3 or so, I’d have to say this was a vast improvement.

The Friday before, I got together with Becca so we could make shirts for the occasion. My fabric paint backfired on us (or at least, the colors I wanted to use did), so we ended up using pink. I think they turned out fairly well though. As somewhat of an explanation, two years ago, we were trying to come up with a term that could collectively incorporate all three of us, and we somehow came up with this:

“We Be Friends,” because we’re hella ghetto.

We went off to SF at noon to pick up our race packets and check out the expotique. We’d gone on an epic run up Mill Creek on Monday (bright and early at 6 a.m., because my physics class had gotten cancelled and covered about 10-11 miles, which, at that point in time, was the longest distance I’d ever run. I figured 2-3 more miles should definitely be do-able.

My name on the wall! It made me feel super-special awesome, but alas, I’m too short, and could only point to ‘Frank.'”

My main concern was to be able to finish the race without dying (such an ambitious goal, I know), mostly because I hadn’t really have a lot of time to train for speed. (Although to be honest, I doubt I ran anywhere near as much as I should have to prepare for it.) For the better part of my high school/college years,my favorite forms of physical activity have been [and still are] gymnastics, horseback riding and dance, none of which were a regular occurrence. (I have since added on weightlifting, MMA, pole-dancing, occasional yoga/pilates, and for that short period of time, running.)

We had a pasta dinner the night before and went back to Becca’s mom’s friend’s hotel room. On the way back, I was stopped by a guy who asked me what I used to style my hair.
F: (recalls how she stayed up til 4 a.m. the night morning before watching Make It or Break It, and blearily woke up this morning to pick up Becca) Um, nothing?
Guy: You don’t use anything to get it so perfectly straight like that?
F: I didn’t even comb it this morning. :[
How’s that for honesty? It’s nice to know some things don’t ever change.

Bright and early at 4:30 a.m. (I’ve only ever gotten up this early to run one other time in my life >_> ), we got up to eat and get everything ready, then walked our way over to the starting point. Auntie Judy handed us bottles of water, but since we’d overestimated how much time it would take by…a lot, Becca and I ended up leaving to give our water away to two homeless people we’d passed by on our way there.

Somewhere around 6 a.m. in the morning…

Waiting for the race to start…

The first three miles or so felt pretty surreal. I couldn’t really believe it was actually happening, and before I knew it, we’d already gotten to Mile 6, which was the start of the horrible hills. Oh, what fun. But they weren’t actually that terrible, most likely because the Mill Creek run did us a lot of good.

We were handed all sorts of things throughout the different miles (water and Gatorade every other mile, orange slices, POM, Luna bars & Clif Shot Blocks at Mile 9, Ghirardelli chocolate squares at Mile 12… I ran with Becca for 13 miles and sprinted the last 0.1-ish. Finishing it felt pretty much like…it hadn’t really happened. I thought it’d be a hell of a lot harder.

So. I forgot to get a picture with my fireman. :[ But we did do a video testimonial together that they probably shouldn’t use. I believe I said something about how you get a pretty necklace from a super-sexy fireman and how Don’t Stop Believin’ is an awesome song in a semi-fob accent. And then we couldn’t figure out how to turn the thing off because we’re hella awesome. Yeah.

The fruits of our labor!

NWM 2010 Necklace! :D

I didn’t die! :D

I seriously cannot fathom running even 3 miles now without gasping for breath, which is pretty depressing. When I look back on this, I usually feel a sense of complete disbelief that it ever even happened. So why am I talking about running to begin with?

I’m thinking of actually starting that up again. Linda took me on a mini-tour through the town I’ve been living in for the past 1.5 years and I discovered that there’s a beautiful park with an amphitheater, a track, what used to be the pool that is now a community garden, pull up bars, parallel bars, playgrounds, picnic benches the river…and it’s literally less than half a mile away, just down the hill from where I live. How did I not know that this existed!?