Wednesday, February 25, 2015

MY FAVORITE MORNINGS


I have a thing about mornings - from 5am-7am in particular. I'm kind of obsessed with them. It's a good obsession though. At night before I go to bed, after I've put the homework and laptop away, I lie down and think about what my morning will look like. It's this 5-7am slot that gets me up in the morning. I think of that portion of the day and how I'll have it all to myself. Between that time I am able to focus on me and do the things that I like to do. I am able to relax before the day picks up and starts getting hectic. I can get my morning workout in and follow it up with a healthy breakfast. I can check my social media and maybe catch up on some blogs (Kristina Bazan and Niomi Smart are two of my favorites!). I can maybe make a blog post of my own or read a book. The options are endless! 

But what got me thinking about all of this is that I don't always have this time to myself. Like when I'm back at school for instance. This semester of college so far, I have had so much work to do that I have to use the majority (if not all) of my "me" time for the day, and reserve it for getting homework done. I obsess and think to myself, "That's at least two extra hours I can be working on homework!" I'm have to choose this because the majority of the time, there just isn't enough time in a day to do what needs to be done. Sometimes I wish we didn't have to sleep, because then I get to thinking, "That's eight extra hours I could have to work on homework!" Ha! I can be a nut sometimes. Oh, the life of a college student!

On a more positive note on the subject, when I do have to cut my "me" time short to focus on other things, such as school work, I feel so good when I get it done, out of the way, and over with. I feel productive. Using my 5-7am slot for extra work pays off because then I know I've had that extra time to make sure I get assignments finished, and that I can possibly start the next morning with time for myself again, which in turn feels like a reward. Now I'm just rambling. So basically what I am trying to say is that since there are certain days when I can't spend my mornings fully for myself, I really appreciate the days that I do. Like today, for example...

Today I had my beloved 5am-7am slot for me again. ALL FOR ME! I had my morning workout, checked my social media, and enjoyed my favorite breakfast: Kutoa Chocolate Espresso Bean Bar with a cara cara orange and hot green tea with a slice of lemon. I was able to relax outside on the table in the grass, kicking back while eating my breakfast, listing in my head all the things I am thankful for, and thanking God for all that he has given and done for me. As I sipped my green tea over my Daily Devotional and Bible readings, I realized that it has been a while that I have relaxed outside, so I really enjoyed the fresh air underneath the tree, along with being surrounded by nature and feeling the warmth of the newly risen sun on my skin. While listening to relaxing hymns on the piano playing softly in the background, I had time to just think. All of this cleared my head and grounded me for what the day had ahead. All of this felt good and was well needed. These are my favorite kind of mornings.  

 






 What kind of things do you like to do in the mornings? When do you set aside free time for yourself? Do you ever feel like there isn't enough time in the day? Can you relate to any of this? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments! Have a beautiful day everyone!

Love,
Mickey

Monday, February 16, 2015

VALENTINE'S DAY

Valentine's Day is a day that I have yet to have the pleasure of celebrating with "that special someone." I have always preferred to celebrate with my family over anyone else. Maybe it's because I have ever only gone out with a guy for Valentine's once so I don't really have anything to compare to? I don't really know. But even without a man's company, I had a blast celebrating this day with my family.

The day began at 6am and I was so excited to eat some homemade chickpea veggie burgers I prepared the night before topped with mashed avocado, and to get the day started by going to the gym. We don't have gym memberships anymore, but on a recent stop at GNC, we picked up passes for a 3-consecutive day workout at LA Fitness (we chose to go Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). I haven't been to the gym in so long so it was pretty exciting. My mother, Caitlin, and I went around 8am and took an hour Total Body Workout class, which really killed my arms. The rest of my time at the gym was spent on machines, jogging on the treadmill, and a hot date, literally, with the 180 degree Fahrenheit sauna. You can bet I was dripping with sweat by the end of the morning! 

After spending a good three hours at the gym, I felt so refreshed once I took a shower and got ready to go out once again. My mother, Brianna, Caitlin, and I had reservations booked at 3pm for a late lunch at Claim Jumper in Temecula. It was about a thirty minute drive and it was the perfect place to dine since we haven't been in so long. The last time I was there was for prom night in 2013, but as a family it has been even longer. It is situated on a little hill in a shopping center, right across from the Temecula City Duck Pond. Our waitress immediately ordered our drinks and brought out a loaf of cheesy bread to follow. We browsed through the menu, and with my sister and I being vegans, we had to order custom made burgers. I ordered a Boca patty wrapped in lettuce topped with tomatoes and avocados, and a fresh fruit cup with grapes, cantaloupe, and melon to go on the side. When our food arrived after twenty minutes, I was excited to dig in, but embarrassed to remind the waitress that I had ordered a side of fruit and not fries, and avocados. She apologized and brought them both out in no time. She let us keep the fries, which was definitely a win for the others! The burger was really delicious and something that I would order again. The only downside was that the tomatoes and avocado was $2 extra each, so $4 extra total, so keep that in mind if you ever decide to add something extra to your food at Claim Jumper, if you're watching the price. Getting into desert, we took the plunge and ordered Claim Jumper's famous Chocolate Motherlode Cake. It is a moist chocolate, 6-layer cake, with chocolate fudge icing, topped with walnut halves. Just one slice is around $10, while the whole cake is about $40. I didn't have any, but I have had it in previous years and it is really rich and absolutely divine! I remember once after my 8th grade graduation, my family and I ate at this same Claim Jumper and my sister and I ended up tossing our forks aside and ate the cake with our hands! How civilized does that sound? This time, I just sat back and watched Brianna and our mom dig in, leaving my mouth watering while I took pictures.

We ended up staying at the restaurant for about three hours and somewhere in there, we decided that instead of heading across the street to the duck pond after eating, we would take a trip down to Oceanside Beach. By then it was already dark, and my camera had died from taking endless amounts of photos of the Motherlode cake, so it was up to Brianna to do the picture taking for the rest of the night. We walked up and down the pier, and later Brianna and I watched our mom and Caitlin splash in the freezing cold water! Even the sand itself was cold. We only stayed for an hour and by the time we got back home it was already past 10pm. It was a long, full, and fun day, and it was nice getting out especially after being stuck in my room pretty much all day every day doing endless amounts of homework! So my question for you is...what did you get up to this Valentine's Day?









Love,
Mickey

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

RAINFOREST CAFE

If you've never been to Rainforest Cafe, you're missing out. It's one of those restaurants I feel everyone should go at least once for the experience. I know it's especially exciting for kids. Coming here as a kid myself, I remember I couldn't sit still. I would get up, walk around, say hi to all the animals, look around the shop, and I wouldn't sit back down until our food came. After I ate, I would do it all over again until we had to leave. 

Last Saturday, my sisters and step-aunt decided to have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe in the Ontario Mills mall after visiting the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar. So it was an animal themed day for us. Before you enter the mall, there's a giraffe that looks like it's coming out of the wall (how creepy does that sound?) that you can take pictures with, and a waterfall right beside it. Ever since we've started coming here when I was little, it has been a tradition to get a picture with this giraffe, so this time was no different. Once you walk in, to the right will be Rainforest Cafe. The entrance takes you through the shop first, and then you wait in a line that wraps around a big aquatic tank full of sting rays and a variety of fish. 

The restaurant itself resembles a rain forest (hence the name), and you actually feel like you're dining with the animals. There's monkeys hanging on the ceiling, gorillas sitting behind you, elephants standing beside you, and cheetahs laying above you. The animals aren't real of course, but it seems like they are. The gorillas move their arms and turn their heads, looking as if they're observing the humans in their cafe. One gorilla cracks me up every time I go. There's this one that sits a little bit above and behind a round table in the corner at the back of the restaurant, and the gorilla just sits there, kind of hovering over whichever family that dines in that spot, and just stares intently with his red eyes. I added this picture towards the end of the post. My sister Brianna says he looks demented. The monkeys hanging from the ceiling swing back and forth every now and again. There's elephants that blink and look around. The cheetah sits up high and whips its tail back and forth swishes its tail that hangs over the side. When I was little, it was a goal of mine to be able to touch the cheetah's tail (#lifegoals), and I was thrilled when I finally could. The animals make little grunts and sounds too. So the animals are designed pretty realistically. The restaurant is in a dim setting and if you stand in the middle of the restaurant and look up, it is designed to look like the night sky. Periodically, here's the part that might scare a newcomer if they're not prepared for it, there will be "thunderstorms" and the animals go crazy. They make a whole bunch of distressed sounds, the elephants flap their ears, there's this one monkey that starts shaking a tree around, there's a loud sound of thunder, the lights dim in and out and everything. It's so interesting you want to stop whatever you're doing and watch the animals go into their little fit. It only lasts about fifteen seconds though and it only happens maybe once every thirty minutes. The cafe is decorated with flowers and greenery as well. The whole experience is to make you feel like you're dining in a rain forest, and that's exactly what it does.

Now, let's talk food. After walking around all day, and after going about six hours without eating, I was in need of lunch. I ordered the Rainforest Natural Burger, which came with a patty made from chickpeas instead of meat, giving it a slightly mushy consistency. Instead of a bun, I asked for mine wrapped in lettuce, and it definitely was. At first I was like, "Where's the patty!" But it was in there, hiding inside a cocoon of lettuce. The patty was topped with a slice of tomato and a dollop of guacamole, which was so amazing I ate some of it by itself. I had to remind myself to save some for the burger! I love avocados. On the side I got mixed vegetables of cucumbers, onions, squash, and broccoli, which was also really delicious, all topped with cheese, which I scrapped off. For dessert, Brianna ordered the ice cream sandwich cake, which looked to die for! It's an ice cream sandwich, topped with ice cream and fudge I believe, another layer of an ice cream sandwich topped with more ice cream, then there's whipped cream on the very top with crumbles of I don't even know what. Cookies maybe? And the whole thing is drizzled with chocolate syrup. As good as any dessert looks, I can't bring myself to eat any. But it doesn't stop me from photographing them though!

On our way out, we looked around the Rainforest shop. Our aunt said if it wasn't too expensive, she would buy us something. So we look around and Caitlin and I got really emotional over a stuffed hippo. It was one of the cutest things ever! It was $20 though, so I figured for a stuffed animal it would be a no-go. While we were leaving, I accidentally hung onto one of the hippos. I had it under my arm and was carrying it around without even realizing it. I'm glad Caitlin caught it before I walked out or else it would have looked like I was trying to shoplift! So we left with no hippos, but my sisters and I did get to take pictures in the photo booth. So we ended up leaving with a little souvenir from that day at the cafe after all.






I Am Wearing:
Floral Bodysuit - Forever 21
Shorts - Wallflower
Shoulder bag that I got a couple years ago from the San Diego Safari Park
Light pink cloth sneakers - Similar here
















I realize this post got to be a little bit long, but sometimes there's just so much to say when it comes to a dining-out experience. I hope you have enjoyed this post and the pictures nonetheless. Rainforest Cafe really is "a wild place to shop and eat!" Have you ever been to Rainforest Cafe? 

Love,
Mickey