I Got My Headstand! Cooked a Lot! Saw GORILLAS.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm so set on writing these boring, tedious "catch-up" posts, but I am determined to see them through - so bear with me. I promise this place will be a little more exciting, with better content and more creative topics sometime in the near(ish) future. 

The week on July 20th was fairly slow - which meant time to whip up some food in the kitchen!

With the cucumbers Peter dad game me from their garden, I made a delicious cucumber salad with Greek yogurt, dill, onions and some apple cider vinegar. 

I'm still mastering the skill of cooking for one (and occasionally 2 when Peter eats at my apartment) so I ended up eating this as a side allllll week long. 

I also put together one of the pre-made salads from Trader Joe's - kale and quinoa with craisins and carrots and other goodies.  To make it more summery, I added my own touch - avocado and grapefruit! 

Probably my favorite creation of the week was a bean salad. I mixed edamame, black beans, sliced plum tomatoes and onions and MANGO with an aioli garlic mustard dressing using this deliciousness from Trader Joe's + lemon juice + olive oil. The dressing credit 100% goes to Kayla, who made it for our salad while we were in Cape Cod. I would serve this over greens and top with avocado for a protein-packed lunch. 

I didn't stop there! I also made a monstrous tub of chia seed pudding (chia seeds + unsweetened vanilla almond milk + honey + cinnamon + walnuts) for breakfast all week and last but not least, CHIA SEED RHUBARB JAM using the rhubarb from the Fetzer garden. 

Making the jam was surprisingly easy - I cut the rhubarb into small pieces, added honey, simmered until it got liquidy, added the chia seeds, stirred a bunch, and VOILA! 

Thursday night was Kayla's birthday and we all went to The Jeffrey to hang out with her and her parents. 

A) The Jeffrey has a really nice outdoor area, an awesome beer selection, and a fun menu. 

B) Both time's I've been, it was pretty packed, so it's not the place to go if you're looking for something low-key. 

C) I had the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin which was great - a grapefruit flavored beer that isn't 2% alcohol! Hooray! In fact, it's 7% ABV. 

D) Kayla's parents are awesome and it was nice getting to talk to them. 

Friday when I got out of work early I headed to Kayla's for some Dance Mom's watching and some delicious dinner cooking. 

We decided to give "Cauliflower Steaks" a shot - and it actually ended up turning out fabulously! 

We seasoned the cauliflower with an olive oil, cumin, tumeric and ginger sauce and garnished with cilantro. They were delicious! The consistency wasn't exactly steak - but it was substantial. 

Served with our cauliflower steak were zucchini noodles with pesto and quinoa. 

With our extra cauliflower, we roasted the florets with some oregano and nutritional yeast. It was SO delicious! I was shocked at how cheesy it tasted (thanks, nutritional yeast). 

As we cooked and watched Dance Moms we had another important project - juicing a watermelon to make cocktails for that night's festivities. 

We took a cut up watermelon and put the chunks into the blender. Once everything was blended and we had lots of juice, we strained it through a very fine strainer...about 5 times! By the end, we had beautiful, clear, smooth, 100% pure watermelon juice. 

We headed over to Jess's apartment with our cocktail supplies where we played games and chatted with Peter and Melissa.

The cocktail was superb, if we do say so ourselves. We mixed Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka with our fresh watermelon juice, limes, and strawberry watermelon seltzer! 

Around 10:00 we headed out for the night's main event - the anniversary performance of Nacho Bitches at the New York Comedy Club. 

This was my first NYC comedy show and I certainly hope it won't be my last. It was a fun night, with lots of laughs, especially since the four of us sat in the front row and got made fun of quite a lot throughout the different comedians sets. I loved how small and intimate the venue was! 

One of the comedians, Corinne Fisher, is from the podcast "Guys We Fucked" which you should check out if you want a good laugh and a healthy dose of female empowerment. 

Anyway, at the end of the show, Kayla got to take a birthday shot with the hosts, Corrine and Blaire. 

My one complaint? The show promised free nachos, but the nachos provided were L-A-M-E. Tostitos with a side of some sad looking melted cheese. Oh well!

The night ended way later than anticipated, after a stop at Kayla's rooftop, and Peter and I were slow to rise on Saturday morning. 

But when we eventually woke up, we headed to the gym because Peter had promised to give me my first swimming lesson. I was an eager student - with new swimsuit, goggles, ear plugs and bathing cap in hand. 

I jumped into the pool, showed him how I usually swim, and said, "Fix it." 

Trust me, he was probably thinking "Shit." 

My version of swimming isn't much better than a doggy-paddle. As soon as my face goes in the water, let alone my whole head, my chest tightens and I feel extremely anxious. 

But Peter was patient with me, hold me under my stomach while I tried to get the breathing motions down right, explaining proper stroke form with words that I could understand (ohhh, it ends in a tricep extension? K, got it). 

I can't say I had an equal amount of patience. 

Eventually, all of the different things to think about felt way too overwhelming and I told him I needed to stop before I just started getting extremely unpleasant. I knew the next step would be snapping at him, and I didn't want to do that. 

I felt bad that not only had I not gotten any type of real exercise out of the lesson, but Peter spent most of the time helping me instead of swimming his own laps. So after we changed out of our swim suits we played around in one of the studios. He killed me with a deadlift/push-up pyramid workout and we played around a little with squats and clean and presses. 

You have no idea how happy I am to have found someone to spend my Saturday morning "playing" at the gym with. Seriously. 

We finished up with some Peter-led yoga and I finally got up into my headstand all by myself!! 

Though I was desperately ready for a nap, I went back to my apartment and got ready for a long day/night of drinking/celebrating. 

First was Kayla's birthday party at Lucy's Cantina. 

Fun was had by all, especially when we realized that HUMONGOUS beer-garitas were no more expensive than a margarita on the rocks. 

On our way out from Kayla's party we stopped at Penn Plates, an outdoor food vendor area near Penn Station. I was DYING to try the California Earth Mama Salad - with arugula, grilled corn, sunflower seeds, watermelon radish and a ginger and sesame dressing. The pictures I had seen of it on Instagram were SO PRETTY (yes, that's why I wanted to try it). This salad was at the Jicama stand, which I've tried before. While I really wanted the salad with shrimp, $14 for a salad after spending the whole day out was a little steep - so I ordered mine with avocado. 

Turns out, they were out of avocado so he asked if I wanted chicken instead. Free chicken? Sure. 

(This is just the sample - I somehow didn't take a picture of mine. Perhaps it was the giant margaritas...)

Bad decision on my part. Whatever the chicken was seasoned in was SO salty. Not just like "Wow, someone was a little heavy handed on the salt." Burning my throat, completely overpowering everything else, level salty. I was so sad! From what I managed to eat that hadn't been poisoned by the sodium-soaked chicken was good, but overall the salad was pretty much ruined. 


Later that night we went to a going away party for our friend Pete from November Project - deserting us for the West Coast. 

And last, we ended up back at Jaime's apartment to say goodnight to the birthday gal. 

Though the weekend had already been rather eventful, Sunday had more fun in store. 

Peter and I went to the BRONX ZOO and it was so much fun. We walked a TON but it was a gorgeous day and there were so many great moments. 

Like the gorillas, DUH. There were little BABIES and one sitting so so close to us and I was melting and loving every second and Peter had to literally be like, "OK Lauren, it's time to go." Noooo, just let me sit here with the gorillas forever!! 

The sea lions were going CRAY when we got to them. We realized it was because their feeding time was coming up, and they definitely knew it. That's crazy to me, they're so smart! 

These guys were legit YELLING. They sounded like those hysterical videos of goats screaming. And then there was one little baby that didn't know how to do it yet and every time he tried it sounded like he was about to throw up. Peter was imitating it and I was losing it. I don't know how everyone at the sea lion exhibit wasn't pissing themselves. 

Mr. Turtle was FLIPPED OVER on his back when we got to him. Talk about struggle city. A lemur looked on as the turtle flailed his legs and tail back and forth violently - that little lemur knew exactly what was happening but didn't do anything to help. Eventually, a zoo keeper came into the enclosure and flipped him over. 

The leopards were out and playful and it's so awesome how they act just like giant version of a regular house cat! Watching them play was just like watching Doodle and his friend play at the Meow Parlour

That night I readied for the week ahead, which would bring lots of activities in my last week in NYC before my family vacation. But I'm getting ahead of myself...