5 Free Things to do in LA + What’s Been Cookin

I want to start this post by congratulating Andrea on finishing her first marathon at the Banff Marathon yesterday! The video Alaina posted of her crossing the finish line was awesome. She looked SO strong! I’m hoping Andrea posts a review on here 🙂 The pictures of Banff look absolutely beautiful! HUGE congratulations. You’re in the marathon club!

In non-running news, Brent and I leave for Argentina TODAY! We’re celebrating our 5 year anniversary. In anticipation of spending lots of $$ over the next week, we tried to keep it low key this past weekend. Low key doesn’t have to mean boring. Los Angeles has plenty to offer without spending much. Here are 5 things we did this weekend requiring little to no dinero.

1. Lounge by the Pool: I’m lucky to have a pool at my apartment. If you don’t, chances are someone you know has a pool. A few magazines, sunscreen, a water bottle and I’m good for a few hours. The only thing I was missing was a sister, a BFF, and maybe a margarita.

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Saturday…

And again on Sunday :)

And again on Sunday 🙂

2. Lululemon Run Club: Always free. Always fun. Nothing like starting your Sunday morning chatting with friends and looking at houses you’ll never be able to afford. No Ellen this week though 😦 She’s off vacationing with Anna. This weekend we ran up Rodeo Drive instead of our usual route to look at the fancy cars for Beverly Hills’ Annual Concours d’Elegance. Another free thing to do if you’re into cars.FullSizeRender (29)FullSizeRender_1

3. Walk to the Beach: Do I really need to convince you? Who doesn’t love a nice walk on the beach. Brent and I kinda cheated yesterday and spend some cash. We got ice-cream and popsicles at Playa Provisions. 11136634_1646959868873727_8967178481304431201_n11138163_1637208449848869_7368755579268481107_n178351_10101748624174953_644579353_o

4. Athleta Summer Solstice Free Yoga in Santa Monica: Not sure how I got on the Athleta Santa Monica email list, but I’m glad I did. Today they hosted an awesome event in Tongva Park right next to the pier. The class was led by Liz Arch a Primal Yoga. It was a cool mix of martial arts and yoga. After sweating in the sun, Marta and I walked over to the Athleta store for free yoga mats, free juice from LA Juice, and some Kashi goodies. I’m not a juicer, but the Sunset Greens was so refreshing on a hot summer day. I love that they provide events like this for the community. Not all of us can afford $20+ yoga classes at studios! Get on the email list at Athleta to learn about other free community events. FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender_2 orig

5. Star Gazing Meet Up: No, not LA movie stars, like stars up in the sky. Sorry. No celebrity sighting to report. Brent and I have been to Venice Stargazing twice now. Basically it’s a bunch of people with telescopes who set up and you hang out and look up at the sky. Super chill, and it’s a come and go kinda thing. No pictures this time, but below are some photos of when we went in April. Today we went with Jared and Marta. Got a good view of the Moon and Jupiter. FullSizeRender (30) FullSizeRender (31)

And What’s Been Cookin’

I adapted this Tomato and Burrata Tart slightly. I’ve made it twice since last week. Again, not really a recipe, more a concept. Vicolo corn pizza crust (I’ve seen them at Whole Foods, and have wanted to try. Nice and thick. Delicious corn flavor.), fig jam as the sauce, cherry tomatoes above the jam. Cooked at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes so that the tomatoes roast and get some color. I then topped the tart with prosciutto, basil leaves, burrata and drizzled it with balsamic reduction from Trader Joe’s.

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Mama and I made these Zesty Shrimp Tacos a few weeks ago. So quick, so tasty, and great for the summer.

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And this is my latest overnight oats combination. Warning, it’s about to get VERY LA. Mix 1/2 cup oatmeal, gogi berries, chia seeds, cocoa nibs and lots of cinnamon. Stir in 1 cup of cashew milk and top with some raisins, a spoonful of peanut butter, blueberries, and a few banana slices. It’ll thicken up overnight. FullSizeRenderNext update will be from Buenos Aires!

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KIPP Academy of Opportunity 8th Grade Culmination

Four years ago Brent and I moved back to Los Angeles. I transferred from KIPP DC: AIM Academy in Anacostica to KIPP Academy of Opportunity in South LA. I took on a new role as a fifth grade reading teacher, a subject I’d never taught. I essentially copied a mentor reading teacher of mine, Lelac Almagor, building a classroom focused on developing a deep love of reading. It was the first year I felt successful as a teacher. I felt like I was finally hitting my stride. Students were invested, reading levels were improving, and I finally felt a sense of work-life balance. This group of student was particularly zesty (and by zesty I mean lots of energy, attitude and sassiness). Anacostia prepared me beautifully for any challenging classroom experience, so their behavior didn’t really faze me. They were needy and sometimes their energy was difficult to manage, making many teachers question how long they wanted to do this education thing. I’ve taught for six years, and “deaned” for two, and this group has by far been my favorite.

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San Diego Zoo in Fifth Grade

I love their self-awareness, their loyalty to their friends, their excitement for learning, and how they embody teamwork. During the course of their fifth grade year all of their core subject teachers left mid-year, except for Alaina and I. Some had valid reasons for leaving, and I fully supported their need to move on, but others left because it was just too hard. This was a trend not only during their fifth grade year, but continued throughout. Today they culminated from eighth grade, and are off to high school all over the city. I am not an overly emotional person, but seeing them brought back so many incredible memories. Together we brought reading marathons to KAO, and they proved to me they could read for two hours straight. Together we travelled to San Diego as fifth graders, and again in seventh grade. Together we were acknowledged as high performers for reading growth, being recognized as top ten across the entire KIPP network of 125+ schools. This group of students helped Alaina develop as a classroom teacher for the first time. Alaina and I supported each other through the challenging year of teacher turnover, and the experience gave me a best friend. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had with this group of students. I can’t wait to see what they achieve in life. I’m not trying to be overly sappy. They really are extraordinary. Below are few photos from the time we’ve spent together 🙂

UCSD in Fifth Grade

UCSD in Fifth Grade


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Reading Marathon in 5th Grade. 2 hours of reading with NO breaks. Straight.


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Healthy Foods Friday Party in Fifth Grade


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Ten minutes to spare? Let’s read in the hallway…


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Girls on the Run in Playa del Rey


Pajama Day in Fifth Grade

Pajama Day in Fifth Grade


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Alaina’s first year gen-Ed teaching. March Madness Michigan vs. Ohio


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San Diego Zoo in Seventh Grade


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Eighth Grade Culmination

OK, so I know I haven’t talked much about running lately, but there really is so much more to life than running. I love to run, but my work and relationships are so much more important. However, in VERY important running news, Alaina’s Ohio BFF Andrea is running her first marathon this weekend. Alaina, being the amazing friend she is, flew up to Banff this afternoon and will be cheering her on. After graduation we made a pit stop at the new Whole Foods in Playa Vista for Acai Bowl (yes, it was amazing) before dropping her off at LAX. Can’t wait to hear all about Andrea’s race! GOOD LUCK ANDREA!

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Topanga State Park, San Diego, School News + More

It’s almost the end of Mix It Up May, but I’m thinking of keeping many of my Mix It Up habits going. It’s nice to switch up runs with hiking, Rise Nation, spinning, and yoga. I’m using new muscles, learning new things, and exploring more that LA has to offer. Speaking of learning new things, Marta, paddle boarding next weekend? I also learned that I love running most, and that I’m thankful I don’t have to pay every time I run. Those workout classes are crazy expensive. This weekend I added another hike to the list of favorites. Brent and I spent Saturday afternoon with his old childhood friend, Matt, and his wife Holly. We hiked three miles out from the lot on Entrada Drive off of Topanga Canyon Road to the Parker Mesa Overlook. It had a nice wide path, wasn’t too busy, had some climbs but wasn’t too rigorous, and had an ocean view reward at the end. It was May Grey-ie on the beach, so the view from above the fog was beautiful. Will definitely be back.  FullSizeRender (15) FullSizeRender (16)

I also never posted pics from our nineteen mile run with Andrea in San Diego. Andrea is training for her first marathon in Banff. Marta and I couldn’t let her run long on her own. We were humbled, and learned that nineteen miles is NEVER easy. The route was gorgeous though. Gorgeously hilly. Andrea is so ready. She fueled well, focused on her hydration. She’s got this. Alaina also surprised her by telling her she would be there to cheer her on. I strive to be like Alaina. She is such a great friend.

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Pink buns!

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FullSizeRender (19)My big request in San Diego was going to Stone Brewery. Deep fried olives, beer flights, hemp seed pretzels, and AHH that quail. Tasted like fancy spicy orange chicken.
FullSizeRender (20) FullSizeRender (21) FullSizeRender (22)Speaking of food, Cecilia and I also recently celebrated her 27th birthday at KazuNori. We couldn’t even talk during the meal. All we could keep saying was oh my gosh…I can’t believe this is real life. The handrolls were so fresh, the rice was so fluffy, the nori perfectly crunchy. SO good. If you work downtown, go. It’s tiny with bar seating, so you might have to wait, but it’s well worth it. The line was out the door when we got there, but we were sitting within 15 minutes.

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In school news, our new middle school building is ready (we’re co-locating in year one) and our furniture order is ready to go! Cecilia and I also spent our Friday checking out how much we can save on our furniture budget by digging out stuff from the Equitas Storage space. We found some hidden gems.

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This week I also discovered Alfred Coffee. Pricey, so definitely not an everyday thing, but their Almond Milk Latte, ahh it made my Wednesday. I’m a sucker for coffee shops. Alaina, Bert and Ernie can’t wait to be reunited 🙂
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And I’m currently making a mess in the kitchen. Recipes coming soon. Need to see what’s worth posting first. The Maca Oatmeal muffins taste a little too healthy. Might try them with chocolate chips.

IMG_0546As far as running goes, It’s time to set some goals. I don’t really have any solidified goals for the next few months. It’s always fun to work towards something rather than running for the sake of running. I guess I’ll take some time figuring out what’s realistic. Have a great week!