Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Crunches: Bicycle Crunches

I know, I know.  You're thinking, "Bicycle crunches?!  Who writes about those horrid things?"  Well, I've only been blogging about cookies and fattening coffee drinks and getting drunk for cheap, that I thought it'd be safe to throw in an exercise.  I'm just sorry it's a boring exercise.  But I promise it's helpful.  And you can watch TV while doing it. #winwinkinda

Anyway, bicycle crunches.  No, I have not found a way to make them more exciting or easier.  I have found a way to make them more effective, though.  Or at least I feel my obliques more when I do it this way.

Start laying down on your back with your legs in a table top position.  Crunch up, and move your right elbow toward your left knee as you extend your right leg out to a 45 degree angle.  Do this slowly.  Slowly bring it back to table top.  Repeat on the same side.  Not alternating sides as bicycle crunches are usually taught will make your obliques tire.  When your muscles tire and you push through, you are building muscle endurance and in turn will begin to shape and tone your muscles... or so I'm told in Pilates ;)  From personal experience, I definitely feel it a lot more in the correct areas and it allows you to concentrate on your form (and how awesome you will look in a bikini come summertime).

Such a boring post, I know.  But it's all about working out to be able to eat what we want ;) #skinnyfat

Cookies and Coupons: Wine Wednesday trumps Taco Tuesday

Ehhh... not really.  But if you like wine, then you should stop by El Torito Grill on a Wednesday.  First of all, the Happy Hour (HH) is the latest one you can find.  It goes until 8pm every day, which is unheard of these days.  Go on Wednesday, and it's half off all bottles of wine.  The HH is pretty good too. #hh

My friend and I went last week and spent $30 total, including tip!  We got a bottle of wine, 5 street tacos (your choice of carnitas, chicken, beef, shrimp), a shrimp appetizer dish, and the usual chips/salsa and tortillas with butter.  Mmmmm I love this place.  Service could definitely be stepped up a few notches, but hey, you're only spending about $15 per person and you're full and seriously tipsy.  You can't even do that at home for $15! #cheapdate #wino

Let me clarify that this is El Torito GRILL, not El Torito.  Although, El Torito's HH goes until 8pm as well, but the food is not nearly as good.  AND they don't do the tortillas with butter which clearly is a make or break deal for me.  Whatevs, I take my Mexican food all food seriously.

PS... Don't judge me for not getting a margarita.  I looooove me some margaritas.  Trust me, it was a tough day trying to decide between the marg or the good deal.  That day, Asian trumped Mexican as I went with the vino. #gooddeal

Friday, December 7, 2012

Coupons: Starbucks Holiday Drinks

If you're not a gold Starbucks member already, get on it NOW.  After every 12 drinks, you get a free one.  I'm not going to tell you how many free drinks I've had in these recent months, but it's a good deal if you're a Starbucks freak like me.

We all love the red cups and holiday drinks.  Duh.  This year, Starbucks has a stamp/punch card. #genius  For every 5 holiday drinks you buy, you get a grande-sized holiday drink for FREE.  I don't know about you, but I just got my first free holiday drink (gingerbread latte, of course) today and it tastes much better than the 5 I paid for.  So get on it!!  If they don't offer you a stamp card, ask for one :)

What's your favorite Starbucks holiday drink?  #gingerbread #eggnog #skinnypeppermintmocha

Cookies: Literally.

I know Christmas is in full swing when this twentysomething year old goes completely domestic!  I want to decorate everything in sight, I listen to KOST 103.5's month-long Christmas music, I drink as many gingerbread lattes I can possibly afford (Coupons post to follow on SBUX holiday drinks), I donate to as many gift drives as I can, and best of all... I bake.  I absolutely LOVE Christmas time.  So much that I actually spend an entire day (or two) in the kitchen baking.  Plus, the boyfriend gave me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer last year for Christmas, and you know that makes baking soooo much better!

Every year, I give a batch of homemade cookies as gifts.  Everyone enjoys loves Christmas cookies.  Well, except for my boyfriend with chocolate allergies... BOOOOOO!  It's time consuming, but it's an inexpensive way to give a gift.  Wrap them up nicely, and BAM!  You've got a great gift.  Plus, I'm not going to lie... people think very highly of you when you're a good baker ;)  I live for those compliments, haha!  I'm so vain.  Whatever.  It's my holiday too!

I never go crazy with trying to make the cookies holiday-themed.  Why?  It's too much work.  I stick to the classics and recipes that don't take too much time.  As long as they taste great, people will be thankful (and again, think highly of you).  Here's my list of the usual suspects:

  • Snickerdoodles
  • Oatmeal chocolate chip
  • Mini red velvet cupcakes with green cream cheese frosting
  • Sugar cookies
  • Peppermint dark and white chocolate bark
This year, I'm thinking of adding another cookie to the list, and maybe slices of my famous banana nut bread.  Ok, it's not famous, but to my friends and family, it is.  I'm also considering adding these...

Maybe I'm biased, but my recipe for Snickerdoodles is the best I've found.  It's from an old white lady who used to reside in Montana (my mom's boyfriend's mom, if that's not confusing), so I consider it vintage.  The oatmeal chocolate chip cookies sound gross, but they are always the most popular.  The secret?  I add in maple syrup.  The red velvet cupcakes are always cute, festive, and yummy.  The secret?  Box mix ;)  There's nothing special about my sugar cookies or chocolate bark, but they're holiday staples and always tasty.

See?  Simple, but effective.  It's all about presentation.  I'll post the recipes to my Snickerdoodles and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies once I pull them out.  

What is everyone else planning on baking for the holidays?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cookies: Life's a Beach

Since it appears that the winter weather in Orange County is not showing its face this year, I thought it would be a perfect time to tell you about Beachcomber Cafe in Crystal Cove.

Although it's almost impossible to get a table without a reservation and/or without waiting for an hour plus, this place is worth it on a gorgeous day.  Not that the food is anything special, but Beachcomber truly allows you to appreciate where you live... near the beach!  The outdoor patio literally sits on the sand and you feel like you're in a completely different world.  Parking is across PCH, and you take the shuttle ($1 per person each way, so be sure to bring singles!) down to the beach.  I know, I said you'd have to wait forever for a table, but go to the bar!  Get yourself two or three Mai Tais and have yourself a little pretend Hawaiian vacay.  After all, you can walk off your buzz on the beach :)

I highly recommend the burger or the pesto portobello mushroom sandwich.  Don't opt for the salad.  I mean, you should never opt for the salad because fries are always better (regardless of where you go).  Duh.  A lot of the other dishes looked really tasty too.  The soups, specifically the baked bleu tomato, looked AMAZING.  I've never had a dinner entree because this is much more of a daytime spot, but I'm sure it's very romantic during sunset.

I wouldn't suggest getting a margarita.  It's $12 and the mix is just not good.  Stick with a beer or a mai tai if you want my 2 cents.

Oh, and FYI... yes, it's in Crystal Cove, but you'd never guess it because the prices are reasonable.  On a gorgeous and clear day, this is almost as good as a sale.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crunches: It feels good... yeaaahhhhh

I'm sure you've noticed that "cookies" and "coupons" dominate the majority of the my posts so far.  That should speak volumes.

BUT... believe it or not, I actually do workout 5-6 times per week.  Although, you'd never know it by looking at my waistline.  I stick to my usual Pilates Plus classes, and I throw in one or two Barry's Bootcamp classes when I know I desperately need cardio (aka I have rolls when I look in the mirror).  It really is a good mix for my body, but it's good to change it up every so often. #lazyass #iwanttobeskinny #ieattoomuch

Prior to joining Pilates Plus, I used to be an unlimited member at Core Power Yoga (CPY).  It took me awhile to actually try a class because I thought yoga was just stretching and meditation (boring).  These classes are actually pretty intense.  They have a variety of classes, including Yoga Sculpt, which is yoga with weights.  AND the classes are heated so you're sweating all your toxins out.  My favorite classes are Yoga Sculpt and C2, which is a heated Vinyasa flow class.  It's gross to be in the studios when everyone is sweating like crazy, but you feel oh so good after.  Totally worth it... great workout for (wait for the cliche)... your mind, body, and soul. #dontjudge #true

To be an unlimited member, it's actually very affordable.  I was paying the student rate of $99/month.  Thank you, Chapman University for not printing dates on the student ID's. :)  If you're not as fortunate to scheme the student rates, the normal prices aren't too bad either.  They also honor the student rate for seniors (55+). #workthesystem

The only issue I had with CPY was that classes were sooooo crowded.  When everyone is sweating and moving around, it's pretty vomit-worthy when someone accidentally hits your arm with their foot.  Especially if it's a super sweaty dude.  But, the feeling you get after class is again, worth it.  Just try to take classes during non-peak hours.  Evening classes during the week and weekend mornings are usually pretty packed.  I like taking Sunday night class.  It kind of resets your body and gets you ready for that horrible thing called Monday.  Ugh. #crowded #sweaty

OH!  How could I not mention this earlier???  Your first week at CPY is FREEEEEE!!  Unlimited classes, so take advantage of it and see which classes and instructors you like.  It's definitely a nice little perk because what do you have to lose? #freeweek

At times, I definitely miss being a member at CPY, so I'll take a class every so often.  It's a great compliment to any workout regimen... and it feels so good to stretch, relax, recharge, and flow.

See you on the mat... Namaste.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cookies: Burger Lounge aka Heaven

Ok, I know I said I'd give restaurant suggestions in the OC area... but I was in San Diego this past weekend and I can't not share my love for Burger Lounge.  Burger Lounge is also one of the few reasons I want to live in San Diego... it's that good.

The menu is simple.  You order a burger.  Regular or baby size.  Pick your patty: beef, chicken, veggie (it's like a quinoa and bean mix), or bison.  Being the carnivore that I am, I highly suggest the beef.  It's so freakin amazing and you will thank me for years to come.  The burger comes with a house-made thousand island dressing, onions (fresh or grilled), lettuce and tomato... and that's IT.  The bun that it's served on is delish in every way possible.

PS... I really need to start posting pictures on here because I literally just spent 15 minutes drooling over pictures on their website.  You laugh now, but once you've had this burger, you'll find yourself doing the same.

PSS... Clearly, the reunion diet took a little vacay this weekend.  Oops.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coupons: Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy (and Athleta)

Sorry I'm late to the party with this one, but Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy stores (online only) are offering 30% off your entire purchase!  Annnnd get 20% off your entire Athleta purchase.  ENTIRE purchase, meaning sales items too.  It's their kickstart to the holiday season, I'm assuming.

It's a perfect time to buy gifts... gifts for yourself! ;)  30% is amazing when you're looking for a nice new coat or suit for work.  Banana has supercute jewlery too that you'd never pay full price for, so check those out.

Ok, fine.  It's a great time to buy actual gifts too.  I hate that the best sales are during the holidays when you have to be saving or buying for others' gifts.  #sadface

Promo code is GETSTARTED.  So what are you waiting for???  Get started!! :)

PS... Today is the last day of the amazing deal.  Makes you wonder what they will have in store for Black Friday and Cyber Monday....

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cookies: A Healthy Disguise

Remember I mentioned that my boyfriend has the appetite and metabolism of a child?  Well, he takes full advantage of his crazy metabolism and eats extremely unhealthy things.  For instance, just yesterday his meals consisted of pizza, fried mozzarella, chips and guacamole, and four cheese pasta.  Being a normal person, my metabolism just cannot keep up.  Trust me, I try, since all those things are so delicious, but I need some greens, whole grains, and fruits thrown in there too.

Shockingly, the bf claims to not like anything green (aside from guacamole, obviously) except peas (major EW).  So, I've tried to disguise healthy (well, healthier) items in our dinners.

Orzo.  My new friend.  My pasta-loving bf claims rice as a side dish is not filling enough.  Since I grew up eating rice daily, it is more than filling for me.  Our middle ground?  Orzo.  Technically a pasta, but resembles large grains of rice.  Disguise #1.  AND you can find it made from white flour or whole-grain flour.  Although you may think carbs are our enemy, orzo is actually low in fat and contains protein and fiber.

As much as I'd love to take credit for this one, I found a great orzo recipe on this cooking blog that I am obsessed with.  It's a 3 cheese orzo and spinach recipe.  Yes, spinach.  Disguise #2.  The bf actually loves this dish... the cheese obviously helps, but I put in less cheese than the recipe actually calls for.  Remember, I have a dress to fit into! ;)

Here's the link to the recipe.  You can serve it as a side dish, or throw in some sort of protein (chicken would probably be best) and serve it as a main dish.  I think asparagus would be great in this as well, but I'll have to work up to that one.  Can't be overly confident in my healthy disguises just yet!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Coupons: "Bloomingdale's" and "SALE" in the same sentence?!

That's right, my friends.  Bloomingdale's is having a SALE.  To be honest, I've never even purchased anything from Bloomingdale's because I thought "Bloomie's" meant "full price".  And sorry, but I never buy anything at full price.  Well, except for lululemon items.  And chocolate ice cream when I have those cravings.

Anyway, I stumbled across this sale because I have been looking for a cute dress for John's high school reunion.  (Yes, we are that old.)  You know, the girlfriend has to be pretty, in shape, and have good taste in clothes.  Otherwise, I'd probably be at Forever 21 or some Asian store trying on $20 dresses.  Lucky for me, the Bloomingdale's Friends and Family sale is going on until November 12th!  #winning  20% off almost anything in the store, even sale items.  The discount obviously does not apply to the super designers like Prada, Chanel, etc.... but um hi... I'm not dropping $1,000 on a reunion.  I'd hope I don't need that much help in the looks department!  But pretty much anything a normal consumer would buy is 20% off in stores and online.  The promo code is FANDF if you're buying online.

Happy Shopping! :)

Crunches: Current Workout Regimen

I guess I'll start on a high note and tell you about my current workout routine.

I'm lazy.  Every time I join a gym, I am basically donating a monthly fee.  I can't motivate myself to exercise whatsoever.  So, I'm stuck with taking classes.  Unfortunately, that means more $$$ per month, but at least I am putting those dollars to work.

I currently take Pilates group classes.  Pilates in general is expensive, but of course, I have found the most inexpensive way to do it.  I go to Pilates Plus OC, where there are 2 studios: Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.  I love this place.  I always describe it as "Pilates on crack".  Classy, I know.  It's not a traditional reformer... they call it a Megaformer.  Sounds cheesy, but it allows you to work on both the front and back of the machine, creating more exercises to do.  Pilates traditionally focuses on core strength, but I have seen a noticeable difference in my arms and legs as well.  Too bad I eat too much to actually see the difference in my mid-section, so you'll have to take my word for it... my core is strong.

Pilates Plus OC is great for lazy asses like myself.  Why?  1, it's expensive enough to where you want to get your money's worth.  2, there is a 24-hour cancellation policy that is strictly enforced.  If you don't make it to class, you are charged $25.  3, it's low impact, but you see results pretty quickly.  It's not super strenuous, so you don't even really have to be awake for those 6am classes.  The best part is, they offer an unlimited monthly package.  I pay $199/month and I take 5-6 (sometimes 7) classes a week.  This makes classes around $9-$10 each, which you'd never find anywhere else.  The Costa Mesa studio also offers a 10 class package for $150, which is still really inexpensive for Pilates... you just have to take from the good instructors who push you.  My suggestions: Kris, Vanessa, Emily.  Check them out...  #skinny #fatdeal

The only problem with Pilates, is that you need cardio too.  I know, I know... LAME!  So, me being the lazy bum, I have to take cardio classes too.  Barry's Bootcamp was probably the most intimidating thing ever.  It's a mix of interval training on the treadmills and weights for specific body parts depending on the day.  My apartment is literally walking distance from here, but obviously the only thing that brought me in was the Groupon deal.  Duh.  I was super nervous I was going to pass out or worse, have to walk out embarrassed, but I made it through the first class... now, I'm hooked.  It's kind of ridiculous to pay for a workout that you can do on your own, but if you're unmotivated like I am, it's definitely worth it.  You'll feel like you can eat whatever you want because you just torched a bajillion calories.  And trust me, I take advantage of that eating feeling ;)  Their prices are a little steep, but they do offer a student discount and package deals.  Look 'em up...  #skinny #cardio #crazy

Welcome to Cookies, Coupons, and Crunches!

If you are like me, your days are consumed with thoughts of what to make/eat for dinner, when and how you're going to exercise, and how you're going to afford it all.  I am a girl who eats well.  Not right, WELL.  I try to be health conscious every now and then, but let's be honest... it's usually not worth it.  I exercise to stay in shape, not for health reasons.  Duh.  And I'm Asian... so I love coupons, sales, and deals.  Hence, Cookies, Coupons, and Crunches.

Here, I'll share with you tried and true recipes, restaurant suggestions in the Orange County area, great workouts that actually work, and any sales or coupons worth mentioning.

Happy reading....