It’s been a crazy, mind-fusing week, and my schedule is going to continue to fizz and foment like an over-shaken soda bottle until this semester ends.
You know that feeling. It’s like you’ve been injected with some kind of hyperactive drug and your bloodstream is pounding superhuman energy through your body and your mind is charging like a racehorse. It just never stops. It just never shuts up.
I don’t walk anymore; I dash—from one place to another, one work to another, one thought to another. Even when I’m sitting down, my fingers are scratching away at something or my foot is tapping anxiously, my mind teeming with all the tasks I need to accomplish. At night, I either knock out onto my bed, or lay staring into emptiness, waiting for my mind to catch up with my sleep-deprived body.
I’m hacking my way up the hump of my school semester right now, and all I see is the top that I never seem to reach. I both hate and relish this aggressive workload.
But there comes a breakpoint when you just need to rest. Thank you Lord. For giving us an innate timer that rings when we push our bodies too far. And thank God for my three friends—Marilyn, Tracy and Lindsey—who whisked me off to a whole day of nothing but wine, food and fun.
We had been planning this for weeks. My friend Marilyn and I share the same October birthday. Hers was last Tuesday, and mine is coming up this Friday. We decided to celebrate our birthday by taking a weekend’s trip to Las Vegas and party like real college students.
But then I chickened out because a Las Vegas trip costs a crapton of $$ and I’m totally broke. Well, that’s the second reason. The top reason I bowed out of the Las Vegas trip was because I got freaked out by my friends’ plans to visit strip clubs. I know, I’m such a frigid coward.
Anyway. We made a quick change of plans, and decided to make a day’s trip to Santa Barbara instead.
Santa Barbara is a quiet, sort of suburban town about 2 hours up north from Los Angeles. It’s also known as a wine country, although not to the prestige of Napa Valley. But with our budget and time limits, Santa Barbara was the perfect get-away spot.
We set off early Saturday morning, armed with a box of pastries from Porto’s Bakery, courtesy of the considerate Lindsey:
Chocolate croissant, cream cheese croissant, elephant ears and jam-filled shortbread cookies. Unpictured is also several cups of coffee to keep me awake.
A note on my friends. They are the most amazing people ever. I met Marilyn and Lindsey through Tracy, whom I met through a Daily Trojan assignment. We have completely different personalities, and somehow like a jigsaw puzzle, we fit.
I’ll let our outfits reveal our distinct characters for themselves:
From left to right: Tracy in the sweet summer dress, me in leather jacket and sensible button-down shirt, Lindsey in the bohemian ankle-length skirt, Marilyn in the spunky, girly skirt and tights.
We talk about everything together: boys, work, food, life, boys, boys and boys. What can I say? We’re working our way through Sex and the City together right now.
We piled into Lindsey’s Hello Kitty-themed car and said goodbye to Hollywood.
And then we talked and talked all throughout the 2-hour’s drive to downtown Santa Barbara.
Our plan was to just walk around the downtown streets and grab various bites to eat. Since I’ve never been to Santa Barbara before, I left the dining choices to Lindsey and Tracy.
Our first stop was The Natural Cafe:
It’s a cute little veggie-friendly cafe (Tracy’s vegetarian for ethical reasons). The menu is interesting, using fresh and local-based ingredients.
We got a vegetarian lasagna to share:
Spinach lasagna stuffed with ricotta cheese, summer squashes and marinara sauce, then topped with fresh Parmesan cheese.
With garlic bread and lemon herb dressing on the side:
I haven’t had lasagna for a long time, but all the lasagna I had was the meaty kind with tons of ground meat in marinara sauce. Even without the meat though, this lasagna had plenty of flavor, made most delicious with the mix of textures.
We got distracted stuffing our faces for a while, but then soon a conversation emerged about making our own lasagna one day, which somehow evolved into a kabocha pizza with mochi crust. I love the way our foodie brains work.
Mouths wiped and belly replenished, we marched on back to downtown Santa Barbara’s streets.
It’s a really pretty and slightly sleepy town. Totally different from where I live at Koreatown. There are cute trams tooting up and down the streets, lots of hip young couples and pet dogs and most importantly, clean benches.
Seriously, I’ve never seen a bench that were fit to sit in my area. I’ve never really realized how much of a dealmaker it is until we all sat down on a bench for a group picture, and didn’t stand up with crap on our pants:
(Photo courtesy of Lindsey)
By the way, warning: you’ll be seeing a lot of our faces in this Santa Barbara post.
Marilyn wanted something fruity for our next nibble. We were planning to go to a farmers market but couldn’t find one. But we did finally find a great fruit spot:
Backyard Bowls, the garden of SIABs. If you’re involved in the healthy living blog community, you’ll know the popular rage that is SIAB, which stands for smoothie in a bowl. I interpret the acronym as something else though.
But here at Backyard Bowls, they call it Acai bowl. As I stood in that cafe serviced by hippies with dreadlocks, I could envision groups of healthy living bloggers having a field trip here. A place that sells bowls of super fruits blended in Vitamixes? That’s HLB goldmine.
We left the choice to Marilyn, who decided on the Backyard bowl:
Blended acai, acerola, banana, strawberry and hemp milk; topped with more banana, fresh berries, goji berries, bee pollen, granola and honey.
Wow. This was a freaking gorgeous bowl. It photographed beautifully. No wonder it was a blogger favorite.
It had a nice contrast of textures, though I found the honey to be saccharine overkill. I really do not like smoothies that much, so I mostly ate off the honeyed top, which is probably why I thought it was a bit too sweet.
We then went to browse around this chocolate shop…
…where I completely fell in love with these adorable chocolate mushrooms:
And Halloween truffles!
For a chocolatier that is based on ancient cacao traditions, it was pretty New Age. Check out the Buddha!
Hahaha! Just look at his little chocolatey pot belly and belly button! That made me chuckle.
It was past mid-afternoon by that time, so we trudged into a nearby coffee shop for a caffeine boost.
And right now, as I’m typing this, I’m also chugging down coffee. Another long day today, and I need to jet.