Yesterday was Thanksgiving which has become my favorite holiday of the year. I LOVE Christmas, but the stress with getting presents takes away what Christmas is all about. That’s why I really enjoy Thanksgiving….it’s all about good food, spending time with your loved ones and it’s my starting day of decorating the house. So basically it’s everything I love about Christmas minus the presents. Our Thanksgiving always starts around 5am with the turkey trot (run) in Dana Point. It’s a 10k run andabout 10,000 runners each year. The course is not too difficult – mostly flat and has beautiful ocean and marina views. It’s a great way of earning your feast that day. Many runners dress up in Thanksgiving / Turkey outfits – I really need to step up my outfit game next year! After our traditional run we buy our Thanksgivingdinner. This year I made a roasted butternut squash soup (yummy- and yes, I will share the recipe if you’re really interested) and the other dishes we buy at Whole Foods (don’t judge I couldn’t cook it any better): vegan roast, roasted potatoes / sweet potatoes, green beans, roasted Brussel sprouts & carrots and mushroom gravy. Oh so good! We’re leaving out the pie, but instead have fresh fruit and dates. Then we eat and eat and…watch Christmas movies.Thanksgiving is also about reminiscing of what your thankful for…and I do remind myself every day how lucky I am to be healthy, have such a loving & supportive husband and that I’m living my dream here in Southern California. What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Do you watch movies or play boardgames? Do you get the entire family together or just a small gathering with friends? Please share I would love to hear!!
Christmas activities have started already around here. We attended two tree lighting ceremonies: one was at Fashion Island and the other one at the Ritz Carlton. Don’t be fooled and think it’s just someone pushing a button to turn the light on….no no no…afterall we’re in the entertainment capital of the world. 😉 So there’s Mario Lopez as a host, a full choreographed 30 minute show, 20 dancers dressed as reindeers, professional singers and of course Santa Clause himself (the real one) who gives the countdown to turn on the lights. I tear up every time (stop laughing)…Christmas makes me so sentimental. Can’t wait for more Christmas activities this month! What are your holiday plans? Do you have an advent calendar? Do you see the Nutcracker ballet or watch Christmas movies? I love hearing about Christmas traditions from around the world…
November also brings out the most stunning sunsets. Every night I get to witnessspectacular colors when the sun settles on the California coast. First it’s the golden hour where everything has the most beautiful golden glow, then as soon as the sun sets the sky turns to different shades of pink, purple, yellow, orange…it’s breathtaking. I tend to take too many pictures – I just can’t help it.
When we moved to Southern California we always imagined doing weekend trips to Las Vegas…and that’s what we still like to do. People think the only reason to go to Vegas is to either gamble or get drunk, but that’s not us. We enjoy the one-of-a kind hotels, world class entertainment and good food. It’s one of our favorite destinations to get away. The drive from our home is about a 4 hour drive, but lately it’s been a lot of traffic and this time we decided to fly (only 45min) – which is so convenient. During this trip we experienced extreme temperatures in Las Vegas like we never had before – about 125F! It was so boiling hot that even flights got cancelled or had to be rescheduled to the night where it was “only” 115F. You know that feeling when you check on your baking pie in the oven and the hot air blows in your face? That’s how it felt the entire time – on your entire body. I thought my hair and skin were on fire. I’ve never experienced such dry and hot temperatures. We also didn’t know that there was a huge EDC (music) festival over the same dates and there were lots of very interesting teenagers in (non-existent) costumes walking around. When I say costume I mean crazy hair and boots and just patches placed in certain areas of the body. 😉
Hotels: I have a handful of hotels in Vegas that are my absolute favorite – and we stayed in two of them.
Bellagio: Our accommodation here was in an amazing Bellagio Tower Corner Suite with fountain view. My highlight: You turn the TV channel to music and follow the synchronized fountain spectacular from your room. Amazing! I also LOVE all the seasonal decoration in the hotel. This time they had Italy and Amalfi Coast as a theme…all decoration is made out of real flowers. Incredible! With these temperatures we also checked out the pools…may I say the best pool area in all of Vegas :-). Breathtaking pool scenery with hand crafted stone fountains, Mediterranean designed tiles and lush citrus trees imported from Italy.
Aria: The second hotel we stayed in on this trip is Aria. As soon as you enter the lobby you get enticed with their signature Vanilla smell … MHHHH. Usually in Vegas there’s smoke in the casinos, but not at Aria. It’s one of the greenest hotels and also is up to speed with the latest technology (you got my play of words here,right? ;-)) in the rooms and throughout the hotel. Aria has a young vibe and my favorite gym in Vegas with a fireplace to relax 😊
There are so many fun activities you can do in Southern California. I love being outdoors from sunrise to sunset. Here’s a sneak peak in our adventurous and fun Sunday: Starting with cycling on Pacific Coast highway…from sunny skies to marine layer moving in, riding along the coast and in the canyon back over hilly roads…so beautiful. You just have to do this ride super early – otherwise there’s too much traffic on Highway 1. After our morning work out we took out the jet ski at Dana Point Harbor and were lucky to see lots of dolphins. The water was perfect to get some speed and jumping in. Lunch was at Good Choice Sushi on PCH with a nice view at the beach. Then we headed off to Newport Coast / Corona Del Mar to our favorite juice/bowl place called Sejuced (the best!). Time to work off the calories at the beach with some volleyball, jump in the ocean and back to beach workout. Finally, no better way to end this day with a picnic at Salt Creek Beach. I would call this the perfect day 🙂 Thankful everyday for being healthy and live in pretty Southern California – there’s really no place like it.
This past weekend was the LA Marathon which has become a tradition in our house (aka Ulli running it). It 26.2 miles from Dodgers Stadium, through Downtown LA, over Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive to Santa Monica beach…sounds like fun, right? It is if you don’t have to run it 🙂 We were staying in this glamorous boutique hotel right on Rodeo Drive called Luxe Rodeo Drive. It’s the only hotel right on Rodeo Drive and besides the location and trendy interior their staff is what makes the real difference.
Also, I was surprised how spacious the rooms where for this location. Our room had a view right on Rodeo Drive – really one of a kind. However, my absolute favorite part about the hotel was the rooftop gym! I LOVE hotels who put as much thought & style in their gym as in their lobby/guestrooms. The equipment was brand new, even had TRX, jumping rope and elastic bands and the treadmills were outside with view on the Hollywood Hills. AHHH! Gym dreams do come true… 🙂
So while Ulli was running the marathon, I was doing my own morning run in the Beverly Hills neighborhood. Those palm trees streets are never ending there! No matter what turn I took there was another spectacular view of the sun rising behind the Palm Trees and beautiful mansions. This is where the tourist buses usually make up stories about the “homes of the stars tours”. Luckily it was too early for that 🙂 I was greeting the locals walking their dogs, taking pictures along the way and ending up at the Beverly Hills Hotel where I turned around.
When I got back to Rodeo Drive the first elite runners came in – it’s just impressive to see how fast they run a marathon (I don’t think I can sprint that fast for 1 mile). While the runners were fighting mentally and physically outside, I decided to have a breakfast in the hotel. Ha! Ulli came in quickly after and ran a great pace- he didn’t look like he had 17 miles under his running shoes when he got to BH (here’s a video). Once he passed by Rodeo Drive I quickly packed up and headed to Santa Monica for the finish.
Driving from Beverly Hills to Hollywood the weather changed, as the marine layer was hanging over Santa Monica beach. It was perfect weather for the runners. I’m proud as usual when I see Ulli coming through the finish – esp. with no cramps and a smile on his face (even if he’s just pretending this was “easy”). We spent the rest of the afternoon in Santa Monica and actually walked another 6 miles from the beach to Montana Avenue. I really can’t get this guy tired! 🙂 We discovered this new restaurant in Santa Monica (there’s always a new one) called Musha Restaurant – which was Japanese/Asian Fusion but very innovative, small plates. We tried several different items my favorite was the albacore sashimi with avocado (sounds simple but the flavor wow!) and also the Takotama: a signature dish – omelette with octopus. Winner! Can you recommend any hotels/ restaurants in LA? There are always new ones popping up so it’s hard to keep up. It was a fun weekend and my favorite memory was having Rodeo Drive to myself for a few hours.
These days are flying by. The last few weeks have been super busy at work and on the weekend I’ve been using every minute to find my balance outdoors. Each Saturday I get up at 5am to be out on the beach volleyball court for lesson and playing and I’ve had so much fun learning this sport (ok also a lot of frustration too as my body is not cooperating the way I want to sometimes). I had been playing for a few months, but have found an awesome coach who is patient with me to get me to the next level. I also made some new friends while playing and it’s been so much fun being at the beach from sunrise to sunset. I’m still hoping to see Kerri Walsh out on practice sometime, I know she trains around here…:-)
We also have had some very unique weather especially where I live – close to the beach. With warm days and cool ocean water the marine layer clouds develop and the fog moves in over the coastal areas. As we live on top of a canyon, it’s a spectacular phenomenon to witness and something you don’t see every day. I posted some pictures below and video here so you can see for yourself. They actually call it “June gloom” but it’s just March now. Does that mean it’s already hotter than it’s supposed to be?
Another highlight these past days was going to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers live at the Staples Center (here’s a sneak peak). The venue is iconic (home of the LA Lakers) and seeing the band that loves LA as much as I do was freaking awesome. I almost forgot how many incredible songs they have and now they’re back on my running playlist. My current favorite tracks are Give it Away, Can’t stop and Soul to Squeeze. RHCP are such a cool band and they’re touring right now – so go see them! On that note, Ulli met Anthony Kiedis a while ago in Malibu and they had a quick chat about motorcycles and stuff…really nice guy too!
We also went one day to Big Bear Mountain to go snowboarding (first time this year), as we had some unusual storms earlier this month (you may remember the flooding in Northern California). Rain at the beach means snow in the mountains, so we had a blast playing in the snow. I always have to decide snow or sunshine each weekend – and so far beach & sun have won (Ulli is not happy). Last weekend we’ve been to Indian wells which is in the desert (next to Palm Springs). We went to the tennis tournament there and I actually struggled with the heat at 100F. It’s so unique to California to experience snow, extreme heat, marine fog and sunny 70F all within a 2 hour driving radius (so you can even go on the same day). For me as an outdoor enthusiast it’s a true adventure paradise – and hard to choose where to go each weekend (yeah I know tough life).
What have you been up to lately? How is the March weather where you are? Have you been to any memorable concerts or sports events? Would love to hear!
P.S. As we’re talking music today – I discovered the band LANY (my #1 song is “ILYSB”) and Matt Franco “Fresh Eyes” – L.O.V.E. these two songs! Is anyone with me on this?
It was a rainy, cool Sunday – very unusual California weather. I was longing for a warm and cozy place and remembered I always wanted to go to the Wi Spa in Koreatown. This is a one of a kind spa – not one I ever been to before. It’s close to Downtown LA and open 24 hours. I know what you’re thinking – but it is a legitimate Spa. 🙂 If you ever just have a layover in LA and need a few relaxing hours to hang out – this is the place to go. The entry fee is only $25 which includes access to the saunas and bath amenities. I didn’t know what to expect but I was ready for a day of surprise. I signed up for the buff & massage – which is their “signature” scrub down combined with a full body massage. When you check-in you will get their branded t-shirt, shorts, flip flops and towel for your stay. The spa is on several levels – one floor for women, one for men, one shared area with a restaurant and a rooftop. As it was my first time visiting the spa they explained the wellness etiquette – most importantly in the spa / sauna are no clothing allowed. Well, being from Germany that shouldn’t be a problem. So I got to the locker room and changed into my Wi Spa shirt and shorts and went up to the JimJilBang room to meet Ulli. When you enter you see people laying on mats on the floor, as the floors are heated. They also have a Korean restaurant, library, computer area and kids area up there. My favorite was to experience the different saunas: Bulgama (made out of oak wood), Salt Sauna (helps respiratory system), ice sauna (last stop) and my highlight was the clay sauna (clay is imported from Korea). You actually lie down in the warm clay stones to relax. Ahh that felt sooo good!
Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays as it’s the start of Christmas season but without the stress of getting presents. It’s all about good food and spending quality time together with your loved ones. This Thanksgiving day we had a super early start at 4:30am as we signed up for the 10k Turkey Trot run in Dana Point. It was a crisp morning in the 50s with over 16,000 runners. I usually run part of this route on my own as it’s so scenic, but it was fun going out together as a group. Also, there were a lot of unique costumes and people (and dogs) cheering the runners on. I was happy to finish in 59minutes which was 10min faster than two weeks ago in Las Vegas. I guess a 15k has to be the next challenge…
The rest of the day we spent decorating the house, going for a walk on the beach and enjoying our feast (vegan roast was delicious). It’s also the season when I can finally watch all Christmas movies again. We watched Love Actually and Family Man – what are your favorite Christmas movies?
While everyone else was in the Halloween spirit this weekend, we attended two unique culinary experiences. First we went to the Vegan Festival in Costa Mesa on Saturday. I’m not vegan, but I don’t eat any dairy / cheese or meat (read my blog post about my diet change). However, I’m always eager to learn about nutrition and the latest vegan products on the market. There were many trucks and booth set up with everything from food, vegan clothing, juices, nutritional supplements and even information about local animal shelters / farms. They also had a stage with inspirational speakers, which we listened to a few of them. One of the speakers spoke about the fact that you can be vegan and still eat unhealthy – like coca cola & french fries! So being vegan doesn’t mean you’re eating healthy. Nevertheless, most vegans eat consciously. Another interesting point of view he mentioned was how in other countries our farm animals are considered as “holy” but our pets (like dogs) are eaten like in China. In Germany they eat horse and people in Peru eat guinea pigs. Basically it mainly depends on where you grow up that influences your opinion on which animals to eat is “normal”. When you visit a sanctuary with farm animals like pigs you can experience that they behave like dogs – rolling on their back when you give them belly rubs and wagging their tail when they’re happy. And cows are cute! Just because you grow up thinking its “normal” to eat pigs and cows it doesn’t make it right. I also watched a cooking demonstration by Jackie Sobon for a (healthy & vegan) corn chowder. She had such an energetic and positive personality – it was fun to watch. I learned some new tricks, e.g. about cooking with liquid smoke (Am I the only one that never heard of this before?). If you want to check out her vegan blog or cookbook – here’s the link. In my opinion, there are so many delicious and healthy meatless options from all around the world available in the grocery store – there’s really no excuse not to give up meat.
On Sunday we attended a much different culinary experience in Torrey Pines (close to San Diego). The annual event “Celebrate the Craft” was held at the beautiful Terrace at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. It’s a food and wine festival with the best chefs from the region. They are representing innovative dishes and highlighting ingredients from local farms or ranches. They also have local breweries and vintners to pair with the plates – but I don’t drink alcohol, so can’t tell much about it. It was a delightful experience as you could experience how creative and with much love for food each chef prepared their dish. My favorite was a cauliflower Brussels sprout salad by True Food Kitchen – which I have to visit in Newport Beach soon.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. On the weekend we usually do a big breakfast with fruit bowls, eggs or tofu scramble and fresh squeezed orange juice. During the week there’s less time and I don’t want any of the sugary cereals. For a while I made a smoothie each morning but it’s also time consuming with washing the fruits/ veggies and most of all washing my blender (lazy me). So for the past couple of years I started making breakfast in a jar. The base is always the same: rolled oats and chia seeds – which are high in fiber, omega 3 and help lower your (bad) cholesterol. They also keep you full for a long time. With this base I mix in different nuts that I have on hand like almonds (sliced), walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, Brazilian nuts and spice it with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Then I stir it up with almond or rice milk and top it off with my favorite fruits apple or mango (berries are good too but don’t stay good for that long). If you have a sweet tooth you can also add one with (non-sweetened) cocoa powder instead of fruit. Another suggestion would be a tropical “pina colada” theme with coconut flakes, pineapple and coconut milk. You can come up with different combinations for each day.
The best part is that I prepare all jars on Sunday and can store them in the fridge for the entire week. So each morning I grab my glass and a spoon and I’m ready to go. It’s a healthy start in the day and keeps me full until lunch. What’s your go to breakfast?
16oz glass jar with lid
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chia seeds
Handful of each of your favorite nuts
Pinch of cinnamon
Optional sweetener: agave syrup, honey or molasses (sometimes I cut up dates instead of a sweetener)
Fill it up with your choice of (non dairy) milk
Top it with your favorite fruit (mango & apple are my favorites)
Mix it – Put a lid on it – and store in then fridge for up to 5 days
I have been a vegetarian since I was 13 years old. The reason was simple: My best friend tried it and I agreed to go along with it for one week. After the week I would try it for one month. The more I learnt about animal cruelty the easier was my decision to stay vegetarian. Later I still started to eat fish, but no other meat. I still drank milk, ate yoghurt and candy – hey it’s vegetarian. When I grew up in Germany I was sick a lot. I had asthma and needed to use an inhaler every time I would run or do any exercise outside or just get my heart beat going. Also, I had many allergies – starting from pollen to animals to food (most of fruits including apples, peaches, cherries, etc. but also to raw eggs which is in most dressings). I was probably sick once a month with a cold and asthma. I still liked to be active, but was limited in my lifestyle. My boyfriend had two dogs that I loved, but I was allergic and I would sneeze nonstop and get asthma everytime we went on walks. I ignored it as I loved them so much. The doctor gave me inhalers and antibiotics for my cold, and I accepted to live with it. When we traveled (which is one of my other passions besides animals) I was limited to what food I could eat. Exploring a different country and learning about the culture you really experience is by indulging in local cuisine. Unfortunately, I was never able to do this as I didn’t want to have my throat swell up if my allergies started. I never thought about that a different life would be possible for me, and just accepted to live this way with my allergies and asthma.