Monthly Archives: May 2016

What I Hope To Get Out Of Moving 1,000 Miles Away

23 years ago, I was born in Riverside, California. I was brought home to the same blue home-sweet-home I live in today. I lived in Flagstaff, Arizona for 4 years of college, and returned home to sunny Southern California for one full year. Unbelievably enough, my graduation ceremony was one year ago today! And in 48 hours, I will be moving 1,000 miles away to Idaho.

Boise river Greenbelt Run (

{Boise River & Foothills}

Do I have any friends there? None.

A job lined up? Not yet.

Do I know the area? Nope. Google Maps, baby!

*I do, however, already have a gym membership ;)

Basically I’m heading towards a new apartment, new state, new job, new friends, new gym, new sights and scenery, new memories – it’s an opportunity for a brand new fresh start at shaping my life into whatever I want it to be.

Fresh Start Quote 2

Before I get caught up in moving in, I thought I would share some of my original intentions with this move as part of my post-grad journey that I’m sure so many girls can relate to. You don’t just quit your job, pack up your life and move 1,000 miles away for no reason. Here’s what I’m hoping Idaho life will bring:

1.) Once I am settled into my Boise home and working as a personal trainer, I hope to fully appreciate the moment I am in without a continual infatuation with the future. I’ve been so focused on “what comes next” for the past 9+ years. For the first time in a long time, I won’t be caught up in applying to grad school, apartment hunting, job searching, marathon training, etc. I want to give myself however many weeks or even months I need before I set a new goal and start launching in to something else new. I want to 100% soak in exactly where I am without concentrating on what else I need to do or where I need to go.

Boise River sunset (

2.) I hope that I can take this opportunity to meet new people to overcome some of the insecurities and social anxiety that I developed over the past 4 years. In high school, I was energetic and confident, and always eager to take pictures with my friends. Once I began the medical process to correct my venous malformation, I became more and more aware of my own imperfections and I let that dictate how I felt (feel) looking in the mirror, on camera, or meeting new people.

For the past couple of years, I comforted myself thinking that one day I will look perfect, and THEN I can start to meet new people and make new memories. I’ve only recently come to terms with the fact that my “medical journey” has risks that far outweigh the reward and that my flaws and imperfections are just something I need to embrace; they are here to stay. I hope that I can find confidence again, silence my self-criticism, and meet all kinds of new people.

Fresh Start Quote 3

3.) Huckleberries! Every time I’ve visited the PNW in the past 4 years, huckleberries aren’t in season. So I’ve settled for a huckleberry chocolate bar & huckleberry wine. I can’t wait to try the dang berry without high fructose corn syrup and fermentation.

4.) I hope to find Purpose! Okay this is a BIG one….and not something I expect to find right away. Like I said, I’m 23! But since I have this opportunity to begin a brand new job (and to put that NASM cert to use!) I hope to figure out what direction my passion and interests take me in my career. I went through the sports marketing thing, I had my first big corporate experience, and I have always loved writing. My “dream job” is still a mystery! (Unless Ben & Jerry’s wants to sponsor me to be a full-time runner.)

Fresh Start Quote 1

Initially I plan to work in an athletic club and pursue personal training, simply for the fact that I am OBSESSED with fitness, eager to learn and share what I know with others, and work in such an active and engaging environment.  After that, I have no set plans and will be happily figuring it out as I go along :)

Boise River Greenbelt run (

5.) I’m hoping for….More blogging material! To be perfectly honest, I’m banking on Idaho providing awesome photos and recaps! I hope that I take as many day-trips and adventures as I’m thinking I will and share beautiful pictures and stories on this online scrapbook. I love documenting my vacations and adventures with friends, looking back at old pictures and reading through the details like a story.

Beautiful Boise (

6.) I hope to Simplify. Leaving California will not be a sad day – I hate crowds, traffic, long lines, and cityscape. To be fair, nobody would claim to be a “fan” of traffic or long lines. But for some reason, millions of people see a benefit of living here that outweighs these cons. (Last week, the population of just the city of Los Angeles surpassed 4 million.) I personally don’t see the benefit. It must be clouded by all the smog ;)

I’ve visited Boise and surrounding towns enough to see that the pace of life is much slower and the people are a thousand times more genuine. We had the entire Target store practically to ourselves. One time I had to visit the Urgent Care, and I was seen and treated in less than an hour. (For comparison, I would be sitting in a Riverside waiting room for half a day.) Not to mention, the staff in Idaho actually looked healthy and my doctor was Grey’s Anatomy-worthy cute. Always a perk ;)

Fresh Start Quote 5

I am absolutely full of optimism and curiosity for this new chapter (ugh, sounds so cliche but it’s true.) I know that it’s fully up to ME to make the most of it – to make an effort to meet people, put myself out there, work hard, explore, and let go of any unnecessary negativity. So let’s do this!

I’ll try to document some of my roadtrip on my snapchat story if you want to follow along: @kenzalyse.

XOXO Kenz.

Healthy Baked Falafel Recipe

It’s a gloomy morning here, the absolute perfect kind for coffee and blogging. Today is a monumental day – I officially have “my usual” at a local coffee shop. Southern California coffee shops have an enormous customer base and everyone is a “regular.” It’s not like the movies where the barista’s memorize your beverage and call you by name.

When our realtor meets with us, we grab coffees at a local coffee shop and my Iced Americano with Almond Milk has officially been referred to as “the usual.” That’s a celebratory moment, my friends! Cheers!

Healthy Oven-Baked Falafel Recipe for Pita

In other news, I am super proud of this recipe I’m sharing today! We’ve been expanding our menu’s to include lots of fun “international” foods like naan, curry, and fusion favorites like asian pizzas. We added Greece to our culinary passport with these falafel pitas, complete with a Greek yogurt sauce and some spinach.

Falafels are a vegetarian protein source made with chickpeas. Fun fact: What’s the difference between “chickpeas” and “garbanzo beans”? NOTHING. Italians and French prefer the chickpea name while Spaniards prefer the term garbanzo. No difference between the two, both refer to the fiber and protein-packed nutty legumes.

The best part is how crispy these cook up without any frying or oil!  These start out with dried garbanzo beans that have been rinsed and soaked overnight.

Healthy Homemade Falafel Recipe

Oven-Baked Falafel Recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour (any type of flour will work)
  • 1/2 cup water

1.) The night before, put dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water. Cover with a towel and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse the next morning when you are ready to cook up the falafel.

2.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dice the onion and garlic.

3.) Cook onion and garlic in a frying pan over medium heat with cumin until evenly-glazed. Cover with lid and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

4.) Chop chickpeas in a food processor, pulsing until they reach a choppy consistency. (Don’t process too far; we are not blending them into hummus.) Transfer chickpeas and onion/garlic mixture to a large bowl.

5.) Incorporate lemon juice, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, black pepper, baking powder, flour and water.

6.) Form the dough into individual falafel balls like cookie dough. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until the exterior is a crispy golden.

Baked Falafel Pita

We ate these for a late lunch with whole wheat pita pockets, a layer of fresh baby spinach, and an easy homemade sauce made with two simple ingredients: 3 tablespoons plain non-fat greek yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon guacamole salsa (medium heat for a spicy kick!).

These would also be great as a vegan pizza topping or on a salad. Happy Monday, friends!

Kenz & Kerr Take Riverside

I’m so lucky to have a friend who thoroughly enjoys hiking, coffee, Gilmore Girls, wine and chocolate covered almonds from Sprout’s as much as I do. And who was able to fly to my hometown for a 4-day girl’s weekend just before I move to Idaho!

Girls Weekend Night Out stronglikemycoffee.comKerri, my cross country teammate and bff from college, lives in Arizona. After graduation we moved to separate states and haven’t seen each other in real life in almost a year. We crammed in as much as we could for our reunion weekend so this might turn into quite a lengthy post!

Thursday morning began as usual with a run and a coffee before heading to the airport to pick up Miss Kerri. Feel like such a grown up having a friend in from out-of-town ;)

Girls Weekend Begins

We talked non-stop the rest of the afternoon as we made ourselves a smoothie bowl for lunch, hit the gym for an arms and abs workout, stocked up on weekend snacks at Sprout’s (and yes, just like back at school, we innocently helped ourselves to “samples” of yogurt-covered almonds!), and decided to take a scenic tour de riverside on foot….aka walk around town during golden hour while yet another realtor looked at our house.

Girls Weekend Scenic Walk

After about an hour of walking (with a dozen stops for pictures of trees, of course) we worked up an appetite. The day included a morning run, an arms strength session at the gym and an hour walk so I happily indulged in pizza and wine while introducing Kerri to the life-changing entertainment of Gilmore Girls.

Girls Weekend Pizza and Wine

On Friday morning, we slept in and fueled up with oatmeal covered in nanas, coconut, almonds, blueberries and cashew milk. And LOTS of strong coffee. We packed a backpack and headed out for the day, beginning with a little hike up Mt. Rubidoux. It’s the closest thing to “hiking” we have in Riverside and gives great views of the city if we are having good weather.

Girls Weekend Rubidoux Hike

Girls Weekend Nature Hike

Girls Weekend View

Our 72-hour non-stop conversation continued up and down the hill, and we added on a couple more miles by walking around the park at the base of the hill. By then, our stomachs were growling and we wanted to find a cute local coffee shop in Riverside to hang out in rather than another chain. I’ve been to Molino’s before but it’s definitely my favorite for both coffee and atmosphere.

Girls Weekend Molinos Coffee

Girls Weekend Coffee Shop

And thennnnn we had a little “typical Kerri” moment that had us laughing until our stomach’s hurt.

Kerri is slightly clumsy. I definitely am too, so it’s okay for me to call her that ;) I said “Smile, I’m taking a picture with our coffees.” As we both smile and look at the camera on my phone, Kerri feels hot coffee spill onto her leg. She just keeps smiling and looking at the camera. I look down and it’s not just a few drops – she had literally sloshed out a good portion of her coffee while her cup with tipped, onto her lap and the floor. And we caught it in our picture. We just had to laugh! Embarrassing but oh so typical.

Girls Weekend Coffee Incident

I’m sure she had a nice espresso-y aroma after that. Once we cleaned up and stopped laughing, we ventured downtown to peak in some vintage shops and grab a granola bar that would tide us over until our adorably colorful lunches at home:

Girls Weekend Simple Lunch at Home

We were heading to the gym after lunch for “Leg Day” together, and I am still sore 3 days later from the overhead squats, deadlifts, bulgarian split squats, weighted step-ups, hip hikes and lunges. Working out with a friend makes the male-dominated weight room so much less intimidating though and some people might not include gym-time in their vacation weekend but we always enjoy it.

Girls Weekend Workout

A couple hours later we looked like completely different ladies….we finally got out of stretchy pants and gym shirts for an official Girl’s Night Out. We wanted a healthy-ish dinner so that we could splurge on cocktails. Mission accomplished!

Girls Weekend Dinner and Drinks


The weather on Saturday was not on our side and decided to throw a freak temper tantrum storm on the morning we planned to lay on the beach. But we improvised and had a pretty dang great time. A lot of Saturday went unphotographed as we crammed in as much as possible: gloomy day brunch at Panera, indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf, a picnic lunch at Andulka park, 4.5 mile run along my favorite path next to my house, a homemade sweet potato hash dinner, and a movie night at home with a coffee almond crunch ice cream bar.

Girls Weekend Panera Oatmeal and Coffee

Kerri’s flight back home left pretty early on Sunday morning but we woke up at 7am to get in one last walk and coffee stop in for this visit before we had to say goodbye. We walked a mile to Starbucks and already started planning for our next girl’s weekend – my turn to visit her in Flagstaff.

The first year out of college is pretty strange to begin with – trading homework and studying for other adult obligations like commuting and grocery shopping. Trading in leggings and sweatshirts for office-appropriate attire. Trading midnight frozen yogurt with friends for once-a-year weekend visits. This weekend combined all of my favorite things (coffee, running, wine, Gilmore Girls, cooking, hiking, dressing up) with one of my favorite people! A perfect final weekend in Riverside, and now I’m gearing up for my big move.

If you made it to the end of this the post, Happy Monday! :)

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