Greetings from Tucson

Does anyone else remember that show? ๐Ÿ™‚

Hi everyone! I’ve been MIA because I’ve been in Tucson, AZ working on my doctorate capstone project. I did three mini presentations on Wednesday, one last night, and have one more today before going back home. It’s nice returning to my college town… especially during finals week and not personally having finals yourself. ๐Ÿ˜

I’ve been staying with a high school friend and we’ve been having a great time catching up. We can’t believe it’s been 9-10 years since we met in high school freshman honors bio. So much has changed yet so much still feels the same.

Her doggy is gorgeous –

Yesterday I took her to one of my absolute favorite places to eat in Tucson – Govinda’s!

It’s a buffet of Hare Krishna, which is influenced by Hinduism I believe. It’s vegetarian food (although yesterday was vegan day) that’s spiced very well – the flavors are amazing and it has an awesome salad bar with alfalfa sprouts, homemade dressings based on nuts, etc. It’s super affordable ($8.50 a person for the whole buffet, and students get a $1 discount) and the money goes toward the organization as well as feeding the homeless on Monday nights. They also have house made teas and kombuchas, samosas, lentil chips, havalah, etc. Plus there’s peacocks, parrots, and a koi pond on the property. And a store that sells so many Indian goodies (clothing, incense, etc). I love this place!!

We also checked out a student acapella concert that took place at one of the school buildings. It’s funny because this room reminds me of taking Nutrition 104 as an undergraduate student… like 5 years ago ๐Ÿ˜

Also, I guess Tucson just randomly got cold the day I got here. All I packed were tshirts and shorts because that’s all I needed up in Phoenix. Brrr finally feeling like winter!

Ever heard of Hare Krishna? Do you like acapella music? When was the last time you visited your college town and why?

Cheers! Nicole


$20 Sandwich?

Hi everyone!

I hope that ya’ll had a wonderful weekend! We just got back from a little weekend getaway to Las Vegas and I’m getting ready to work again. I don’t think 4AM wake-ups will ever get easier.

Have you ever heard of the $20 sandwich trick? Apparently if you stick a folded up $20 bill between your credit card and ID during check-in and ask for “complimentary upgrades,” there’s a decent chance that your check-in person will upgrade your room for free. I didn’t get the best vibe from our check-in person so I didn’t try it… but we did get moved from the 4th floor to the 32nd floor at the Treasure Island just by asking. Strip view would’ve been nice, but we’re lucky to have even gotten a higher floor. ๐Ÿ™‚

About to embark on a busy week. I can’t wait until I have a regular schedule again – I crave stability. Have a great day, everyone!

Have you ever tried the $20 trick? Best upgrade you’ve received from a hotel? Favorite place to stay in Las Vegas?

Cheers! Nicole

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Hi everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying your recreated Thanksgiving leftovers (fried mashed potato cakes? Turkey and cranberry paninis?) ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been feeling like a green-eyed monster lately. I stumbled upon the Instagram of a graduate school classmate who looks like she’s absolutely killing it — she’s graduating next month while working part-time while working with BeachBody/Shakeology (according to her social media, it’s helped her lose 35 lbs and earn $35k to help pay off the debt over the past 2.5 years), looks happily married, goes on work retreats, etc. She’s only one year older than me.

I have another friend who is wrapping up her master’s program and just got promoted to charge nurse at her unit. And another who is working as a flight attendant and is traveling to all these fun places. And another who’s killing her dual PhD/NP program. Etc etc. Maybe I need less ambitious friends…. (kidding! kind of).

I’m slowly getting through my graduate school project and will be doing my clinicals during the entire 2018 year. I’ve gained weight (less working out/activity since moving back home, eating as a stress reliever) and still trying to figure out my job balance (I was originally full-time, then part-time, then per diem and full-time, and now have three per diem jobs for the varied experiences). I’m also trying to plan a wedding and learn more self-care. I feel like some days I’m not doing enough, and other days I’ve got too much on my plate. If only life was simple….

… but I need to remember that my path is different, my experiences are different. In a perfect world, I’d have a regular schedule working part-time, work out daily, yoga daily, eat when I’m hungry (and stop when I’m full), sleep 8-9 hours a night, walk to work, spend time with my SO and family and friends, actually keep everything straight….

… and maybe that will be me. In about a year (minus the walk to work part). Who knows. We’ll see. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyone else having a quarter-life crisis? Please tell me that I’m not alone.

Cheers! Nicole

Thanksgiving Weekend Catch-Up

Hello everyone! It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged… It’s been busy but not busy, if that makes sense. ๐Ÿ™‚

My dad returned from his trip to Asia and brought back this bracelet… luckily, my mom thinks it’s cute too. ๐Ÿ˜› Quite a fashion statement. I don’t think I’d personally wear it…

I might take on this fresh water pearl earring though. They were so big that they felt like gauges! PS – does anyone have any suggestions for toning down these freckles? I’ve had them since high school (tennis for four years) and my mom loves to remind me to get rid of them. I’ve tried Caudalie serum and it doesn’t seem to be helping much.

My mom’s a one-woman catering whiz. Our Thanksgiving spread was an unconventional feast of ham, lumpia (eggrolls), flautas, pancit (noodles), carrot cupcakes….

She was very proud of these cupcakes. Check out that piping!

According to my email, last Friday was free roast beef sandwich day at Arbys. My brother was one happy camper.

We don’t decorate much for the holidays but I did have a couple of boxes of free lights from my college apartment days. We strung them inside the house and called it good. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love how the neighborhoods are starting to decorate their homes for the holidays!

This flavor is yummy – gingery yet sweet from the raspberry taste.

Anyone else think these are cute? I only wear two types of shoes: sneakers or FitFlops. These FitFlops from TJ Maxx were cute and comfy!

Finally got one of these little doo-hickeys to stick on the back of my phone.

& spent Sunday studying and watched a movie called “Inside Man.” It was from 2006 and pretty good! Yesterday we watched “A Big Fat Greek Wedding”…. last time I watched that was when it first came out in 2002. Oldie but goody!

Favorite movie from early 2000s? Have you decorated your home with lights? Would wear sparkly flip flops?

Cheers! Nicole

PSA: Love your Loved Ones

A Facebook friend posted this on my news feed the other day. It’s in German with English subtitles but I highly recommend watching it. I was tearing up by the end… Sad elderly men are one of the top things that make me cry.

I believe this video is sponsored by a German supermarket. It’s a great PSA to visit (or at least call) your elderly loved ones. During my last couple years in my college town, I got into the habit of calling my grandparents living in the East coast a couple of times a week during my walking commute to work. Although I think it’s time they invest in some hearing aids, it’s a blessing that they’re pretty healthy/happy in their early and late 80s.

After you wipe away the blurriness from your tears… here’s an update on that pulp stuff from our juicer.

Although cinnamon-spiced pulp muffins sounded fannntastic, an egg bake was the healthier option. Mixed a cup of pulp with 1/2 a sliced onion, spices, and egg whites.

The onions looked like worms to me. It wasn’t my favorite recipe, but.. it’s edible? ๐Ÿ˜€

Lunches have been leftover won ton dumpling soup. Mmmm.

Followed by sliced persimmons…

And last night’s dinner was home made siao mai (pork dumplings) with a slab of coconut oil salmon steak. I like to eat food out of mugs and tiny plates…

I’ve been better not snacking at night time but I’m still gaining weight. I understand that our bodies fluctuate on a day-to-day basis but I’m someone who’s driven by obvious results (who isn’t?) so it’s been frustrating. I’ve been more laxed about eating wheat products but they’re probably contributing to my bloating.

Have you heard of NSV, aka “non-scale victory?” NSV are small, every day indications that you’re developing habits to a healthier lifestyle. Today’s NSV is that I’m drinking my tea plain without any almond/coconut milk. Earlier this year, I was drinking like 3 cups of coffee with reduced fat milk a day… then it became 2 cups… 1 cup… tea with reduced fat milk and honey… tea with just the milk… tea with non-dairy milk… and now, plain tea. Still a few other things I can clean up with my diet, but if you told me earlier this year that I would no longer be drinking my creamy iced coffees I wouldn’t believe ya.

What do you put in your coffee and/or tea? Favorite flavor of tea? Last time you called an older relative?

Cheers! Nicole

While everyone else is roasting turkeys and baking pies….

My mom decided to get into juicing.

Granted, we aren’t going to be substituting real food with juices any time soon (or any time, really). This is more of a supplement for our diets. An earthy, somewhat messy supplement. Juices cost ~$6 at our local grocery stores. I once paid $10 for a juice while exploring NYC for a mid-day pick-me-up during the middle of July. This bounty of produce cost us $30. The juicer was $149.99 before a 20% coupon at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. We bought celery, collard greens, kale, jicama, beets, lemons, oranges, apples, pineapples, romaine, cucumbers, mint, parsley, and ginger. The bananas were only $0.99 for a 5 lb bag… those will be going into smoothies. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients for our first juice… I was looking for ingredient lists online from popular juice bars, but we ended up just tossing together random things. Any guesses on what color this juice will end up being?

If you guessed purplish, you’re right! Beets always override all other colors. I would be careful with the amount of beets, apples, oranges, and carrots (along with other fruit) — they are high in sugar. All of that produce on the cookie sheet yielded this much juice:

No wonder juices are pricey! When a juicer extracts all of the nutrients and liquid, it leaves behind a “pulp.” This stuff contains some nutrients and pretty much all of the fiber. I was reading up on what to do with the pulp and other people suggested adding it to breads, soups, mac and cheese, meatballs, etc. Other people just throw it out. I might add it to scrambled egg whites or something.

I ate about 1/2 a cup of this with a spoon before digging into an actual glass of juice.

What’s your favorite juice to buy?ย Do you own a juicer? Do you have any suggestions on what to do with all this pulp?

Cheers! Nicole

Brunch is Always a Good Idea

Hi everyone! K’s grandparents are visiting from Northern California and their backyard persimmon tree was brimming with fruit. Guess who got lucky…

I love persimmons! It might be the texture, the taste, or the nostalgia of my mom cutting and serving it to us when we were younger. I love getting people’s backyard harvests as gifts. ๐Ÿ˜

A nearby town was having a parade mostly attended by local businesses and kids organizations. We happened to run into it as we tried to get brunch. A few representatives from the Noosa yogurt company had wagons filled with these Noosa mates in chocolate and cranberry add-in flavors… we both chose the cranberry granola ๐Ÿ˜‹ I just ate the yogurt though. K said the mix in was good! It was a perfect, creamy 10am snack to hold us over until lunch time instead of brunching.

I was curious why Noosa spells it “yoghurt.” I guess I didn’t research enough because I couldn’t find it using the Swagbucksย search engine (I did find 7 Swagbucks, though!), but I did learn Noosa was founded in Australia. Sure is a cheeky little company!


Instead of plastic spoons, the Noosa reps were handing out these cute little foldable paper spoons. Eco-friendly!

We ended up leaving after enjoying our “yoghurts” to beat the parade crowd. The next day, we tried brunch again. There’s always a line atย Snooze, An AM Eatery so we left about an hour before we actually thought we’d get hungry. This place doesn’t do reservations but it’s always super busy! They’ll send a text to your phone once there’s a spot available. Forty minutes later….

3 Egg Omelet or Scramble
Our farm fresh eggs with a choice of three fillings served with hash browns and choice of toast or tortillas.

I chose the 3 egg scramble with shrimp, beef barbacoa, and pulled pork with a crispy hash brown round and substituted my toast for a pineapple upside pancake for an extra $4. The hash brown was divine (and I don’t use that word casually) and the meat of the scramble added a hearty juiciness.

Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes
Buttermilk pancakes with caramelized pineapple chunks, housemade vanilla crรจme anglaise and cinnamon butter.

K loved this pancake! They also had a pancake of the day named after Buddy the Elf from the movie Elf — cinnamon sugar and candies galore!

Chili Verde Benedict
Green Chili sauced tortillas and melted cheese with yourย choice of slow cooked pulled pork or barbacoa style beef, topped with poached cage free eggs, green chili hollandaise, pico de gallo, and cotija cheese.

Along with his Brewmosa (freshly squeezed orange juice + craft Belgian style wheat beer), K enjoyed his Benny. Look at that beautiful mound of food!

There was a grocery store on the way back so we took a little walk around it. I love watching the frenzy of Thanksgiving shoppers – doesn’t that sound a little crazy?

Sent a picture of this to my mum…

At the supermarket, we passed by a coin counting machine that was charging 11.9% commission. So if you had $100 worth of coins, the machine collects $11.90 of it as its fee… that’s like one dish at brunch! Since I’m supposed to take it easy (activity-wise) because of my irritated incisions, I asked K if he had any coins to sort out… and boy, did he ever.

That’s not even all of it. I got thru a few episodes of Fuller House and Sex in the City while simply just separating the denominations and rolling $8 worth of pennies. This’ll be a long project ๐Ÿ˜

Would you pay a third-party machine to count your coins for a 11.9% commission? Favorite relatively healthy thing to order at brunch? Tried a persimmon?

Cheers! Nicole

Disclaimer: No products sponsored this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.