Bestia, Beating Bordom + Boston?

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So I lied. I wasn’t going to post until after the half on Sunday but I have to tell you about Bestia. Oh Bestia. You really are living up to the hype. Four weeks of professional development for teachers begin on Monday, so Cecilia and I booked a reservation for six of us two months ago in anticipation of needing a celebration before the craziness begins. It’s been hectic at work getting everything ready for the new school year. The warehouse atmosphere and Italian comfort food made for a fun Thursday evening with friends in the Arts District. IMG_1315We ordered a lot of food…

  • Chicken Liver Crostino: chives, marjoram, aged balsamic, sea salt
  • Marinated Olives: cerignola, taggiasche, castelvetrano, gaeta, picholine (that means nothing to me)
  • Mussels and Clams: housemade spicy ‘nduja sausage, fennel seed, preserved orange, grilled bread
  • Grilled Beef Meatballs: braised beet greens, soffritto, tomatoes
  • Burrata Pizza: san marzano tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, oregano, fermented chilies
  • Pistaccio Pici Al Sugo Di Agnello: Lamb ragu, saffron, capra sarda, fig leaf, ground pistachios
  • Casarecce al Pomodoro: twisted semolina pasta, tomato sugo, fresh ricotta, basil oil
  • Valrhona Fair Trade Bittersweet Chocolate Budino: Salted caramel, cacao crust, olive oil and sea salt
  • Maple Ricotta Fritters: Maple butter ganache & sour cream and huckleberry jam ice cream
  • Butterscotch Coconut Tart: Coconut Sorbetto
  • I Am Sky: Vodka, strawberry syrup, cucumbers, mezcal, sea salt, lemon, blue thistle and cucumber
  • Oh Snap: Cap rock gin, velvet falernum, gran classico, snap peas, mint, salt, lemon juice, cracked black pepper
  • Slot Machine: Bourbon, banana liqueur, cynar, smoked cherries, cardamom bitters, lemon juice, tobacco essence

Going with a big group was perfect. We had seven of us, so we were able to sample a bunch of different food and drinks. My favorites….Ahh that chicken liver crostino. It was so flavorful I didn’t even get a picture, but I stole one from instagram and it’s below. I loved the lamb ragu with the homemade pasta and this was one of the first pizzas in LA that rivaled pizzas I’ve had on the east coast. And for dessert, the chocolate tart was perfectly sweet. Alaina, remember that time a piece fell in my shoe and you ate it? Yeah. It was that good. And I’m such a beer snob, but I’m really loving craft cocktails lately. I think my favorite was the I Am Sky. I guess what I really loved about Bestia was the food tasted authentic Italian. It wasn’t all about the chic vibe of the restaurant, the food tasted home cooked and felt like it was made with love and passion. Cheesy, but I really did feel like I was eating someone’s work of art. I may or may not have already booked another reservation for November…We have spots for 8 ūüôā We HAVE to go back because they were out of the bone marrow.

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OK, back to running. My co-worker Maria recently started running and asked me how I dealt with boredom. Boredom!? I never get bored running! I’m always running with friends, tempo-ing to music, or listening to nothing and just processing the day. Sometimes, especially on easy days, I like to listen to podcasts. My favorites, Freakonomics and This American Life. How do you deal with runner boredom? IMG_1272Isn’t Playa del Rey beautiful? Sighted on my Thursday morning run. Too bad morning runs end next week. Back to school! 
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And while in Michigan I had to purchase Zingermans Marshmallows. This IS the marshmallow project in the Lowry household. I have to portion out Brent’s portion so he doesn’t eat all mine ūüôā FullSizeRender

And running wise I took it fairly easy this week…

  • Monday: Eight Mile Run with no watch
  • Tuesday: Five Mile Run with Marta in Venice/Santa Monica (8:35 Average Pace)
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Six Mile Run with no watch
  • Friday: Four Mile Run with Back on My Feet

And last, I need your advice. Should I run Boston in 2016? I asked Brent and he looked at me like a crazy person saying it was an honor to run and I should run it ever year I can, but then tonight on the way home from work Mama was like “Good thing you’re not running Boston as a first year principal.” I really don’t know, and registration is in September. What do you think? Should I run Boston?

Oh and FINAL last, teachers..we’re ready for you!FullSizeRender (53)

This Week in LA…

I strive for balance with work, running and my personal life. Too often I see¬†talented educators push themselves to the limit and leave the profession overworked, exhausted, and defeated. Our work¬†as educators in the inner-city is too important. We can’t afford to lose¬†smart, passionate and impactful¬†teachers because they just can’t maintain the crazy lifestyle. I want to¬†be like my mom, in my sixties, still energized and enthusiastic¬†about improving my practice as a teacher. That means¬†knowing when to stop, learning how to control emotions, and training yourself to have an on/off switch. You also¬†know I worry about creeping into crazy runner zone. I keep the rest day sacred¬†and try¬†not¬†to let a long run interfere with taking advantage of living in LA. Who wants to be married to the annoying “I have a long run tomorrow” wife? So what does striving for balance look like?

Monday: No school for President’s Day. Ran eight easy miles before meeting Mama, Papa and Carmen who were¬†in town. The weekend consisted of hiking¬†Los Liones, visiting¬†LACMA, touring¬†the Chinese Theatre, eating¬†at Gracias Madre (AMAZING MARGARITAS, good choice Marta), spending time¬†on the beach and relaxing¬†at my parents hotel, The Inn at Playa del Rey.¬†Oh how we loved the inn! The breakfast has a¬†homemade feel, they do wine and cheese from 5 PM – 7 PM every night in their lounge overlooking the Ballona Wetlands and the baked goods¬†they put in your room are nice treat.¬†I wish I could do a staycation there, although I’m not sure it’s worth it considering I live a mile away.

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LACMA, Los Liones, Chinese Theatre and Inn at Playa del Rey

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We hit up beach yoga in Santa Monica on Saturday

Tuesday: Dropped Mama and Papa off at the airport at 6 AM then met Alaina at the Westchester Starbucks before driving to school! I got to work a little before 7 AM. The day consisted of working with my third grade reading group, second grade reading group, unit planning for third grade math, studying a potential phonics curriculum, completing a school-wide walk through and meeting with the instructional lead team at the Elementary School after-school. The meeting runs from 4-5, and the team knows I have to leave right at 5 PM to make it to track on time. This week we ran a bunch of 1200. Brent always cooks dinner on Tuesday. This week he made homemade pizza, otherwise known as the night to dig in the fridge and find random pizza toppings. I made mine with brussels sprouts, mozzarella, gorgonzola and spinach. I also hung out with Alaina while she was doing laundry across the street. I miss seeing her everyday!photo 3 (3)

Wednesday: The morning started early. It was my day off running, but Back On My Feet had a clinic at ALTUS Sports Institute in Santa Monica at 5:15 AM. SO EARLY! They taught us a bunch of exercises¬†to help us stay strong as runners. I was happy that most of them are a part of my runner’s strengthening routine. Went straight to work and had a day filled with meetings. I got to demo a phonics lesson with a few kindergarteners which was super fun. I stayed at work later, and went straight to the Magic Castle for a night out with Brent, Gabe and Becca. Wow, the Magic Castle is an experience. Go if you ever have the chance! You need an invite, and even if you have an invitation from a member, theres a $20 cover and you have to dine there, but they have a magic shows throughout the castle that you pop into. Levitation, card tricks, mind reading.¬†The magicians are just SO talented. I was out past my bedtime and didn’t get to bed until after midnight. CRAZY for me! You can’t take photos inside, but I found a few online to give you an idea of what it looks like. It has this awesome old Hollywood feel.

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Thursday: Two big cups of coffee gave me the energy I needed to start my day. I went to a training with Families in Schools to learn more about meaningful parental involvement.¬†I met a ton of educators across the city, and got some great strategies to help me in my school design. The training took place at the Mercado la Paloma. After the training I ended up running into a KIPP LA tech team member and we had an impromptu lunch at a Vegan Ethiopian stand at the Mercado. It was nice to catch up and talk ed tech. Being away from distractions I was able to get some quality work in and was home around 5:30 PM and actually had the time and energy for a¬†10 mile run midweek! This is one of my highest mileage weeks, so I was glad to fit it in. I knew Brent was going to be coming home late, and dinner was already prepped from my handy dandy meal prep. I didn’t plan to run this as a tempo, it just kinda happened. Maybe it was the Ethiopian food that sped me up? Brent and I had dinner and I was asleep by 8:45 PM. Kinda embarrassing, but with our late night and with the hard run I was exhausted.photo 2 (3)

Friday: A few of us from Equitas visited¬†Endeavor College Prep. I was so impressed with their program. I especially enjoyed watching them implement¬†Eureka Math, a curriculum I’m considering adopting. The best professional development is watching experts in action.¬†In the evening it¬†got down to 66 degrees, so I was able to pull out my boots Brent got me for Christmas before heading to our Tripel dinner date.¬†photo 3 (2)

Saturday: Besides the 20 miler,¬†Brent and I went to The Tasting Kitchen¬†on Abbot Kinney in Venice for drinks and snacks. We split their burger and roasted carrots and sampled a bunch of their cocktails at the bar. I’m a big fan of the Road Runner cocktail made with mezcal. We’ve been here before for their 5 course tasting menu where they essentially cook whatever they are inspired to cook, and you don’t have to make any decisions. The tasting meal usually involves a homemade pasta, some sort of meat, a vegetable dish, and always has dessert. A few photos below from the awesome interior, our cocktails and some tasting menu items from times we’ve visited before.¬†photo 5

Sunday: Just got back from Lululemon run club. Had an awesome run with Ellen. Meeting up with a friend for brunch in a bit. Will do some math lesson planning on the couch, and will take advantage of the endless supply of sweet potato black bean burgers I have in the freezer for dinner. I doubled the recipe two weeks ago, and with fluffy hawaiian rolls and some BBQ sauce they are really satisfying. I love having a freezer filled with ready to go meals. Maybe go for a walk on the beach after dinner and evening church?

What does balance look like for you?

Playa Provisions

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In¬†June of 2011 Brent and I found out we were moving back to Los Angeles from Washington DC in less than a month. Brent flew out to LA for a 24 hours trip with one objective, find us an apartment. Our plan was to move to Manhattan Beach. Easy 105 access was the goal, but everything Brent found was either gorgeous and WAY too expensive or an affordable dump on the beach. Brent decided to look beyond Manhattan Beach¬†and fell in love with an apartment in Playa del Rey. I was hesitant. I‚Äôd never even heard of Playa del Rey. It’s¬†right by the airport and close to the bonfire beach, Dockweiler. I was skeptical but trusted his judgment. I‚Äôm so glad I did. Over the years I have become quite the Playa enthusiast and Alaina lives in Playa too!

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Not only is Playa amazing for running (I live a mile from the beach path and it goes for about fifteen miles in either direction), Playa has become cooler over the years. It‚Äôs always been known as a sleepy beach community, hidden by the Ballona Wetlands. Culver Blvd, the street that runs down to the beach has some great dive bars, like The Shack and Prince O’ Wales. My true love is The Tripel, which has been around since Brent and I moved to Playa, but over the past year great new restaurants have been popping up. You‚Äôve seen my Playa Provisions pictures before, but I wanted to write an official review.

cropped-Playa-Provisions_2014-07-08_11-09-03_IMG_9860_¬©RyanTanaka2014-11Playa Provisions was once Playa Cantina and Tower 42. Despite a location ON the beach, restaurants kept failing‚Ķlikely due to it‚Äôs massive size. Lucky for us, The Tripel‚Äôs Brooke Williamson and her husband Nick Roberts took on the challenge and created an incredible four-concept restaurant.¬†Playa Provisions is split up into Dockside (think nice¬†seafood), Grain (whisky bar in the back), Small Batch (ice-cream stand) and King Beach (counter style breakfast, lunch and pastries).¬†Although embarrassing to admit, there¬†have been days when I’ve been to¬†Provisions more than once. My record is three times. Once for coffee, later for lunch and a post dinner drink. I especially love the¬†bakery. They do all kinds of fun seasonal stuff like Super Bowl cakes, Christmas cookies and Halloween cupcakes. So what do I like to order?

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My Playa Provisions Favorites List:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookie- HUGE chips, crunchy on the outside, doughy in the middle
  • Pretzel Croissant with Ham and Cheese- Ask for it warm
  • Dulce de Leche Biscuit- Buttery Deliciousness
  • Quinoa Salad- Sounds boring but the almond and corn add crunch
  • Corned Beef Sandwich- If you’re really hungry ahh it is sooo good
  • Chicken Salad- I love mayo
  • Kentucky Maid- Light and fresh cocktail
  • Crab Pops- Delicious and cute presentation
  • Lobster Mac & Cheese- Gotta love¬†cheesy macaroni
  • NEW YEARS EVE PRE-FIXE-¬†Collage below

I should probably stop before I list the entire menu. Basically if you live in LA, go to Playa Provisions. It’s great a snack after a trip to the beach, for families, cyclists and runners love it, for¬†a quick drink, or for a fancy dinner. I’m a fan of going after a good workout, sipping on a latte and sharing a bunch of pastries. There’s no pressure to rush, you can lounge for as long as you like, and the location right on the beach is perfection. Anyone in for a Playa Provisions visit¬†this weekend?

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IMG_3092I think you get the point with the pictures. Sadly this is not my entire collection of Provisions photos.

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Quick Running Updates:

  • I got bullied into running a 5K on Sunday with the RunMDR crew so I’ll do¬†the rest of my long run miles after that.
  • Beach Yoga is happening on Saturday again. I love beach yoga with Brad!!!!
  • I did the mile challenge at track this week in 5:48. I haven’t run a mile since high-school PE! Excited to improve my time.
  • I say this all the time, but I really need to foam roll more. Maybe I should take my foam roller to work.
  • We’re at $325! Help Ellen and I meet our goal! www.raceplanner.com/donate/Ellen-and-Cristina-Run-LA

I’ll be back Sunday with a 5K update and long run notes!