The Grind

Early last week, I started asked my facebook friends where I should go to dinner after my 20 miler. I mean, clearly food is the most important thing after you run! I wanted to be prepared. ;) I got a lot of great suggestions, but ultimately my friend Nicole won with her suggestion of The Grind. The menu looked awesome and all of the food is coal fired. Not to mention the drink list looked amazing.

Nicole’s drink: The Moscow Mule

My Blackberry Sidecar. Probably my favorite thing I tasted all night. After one, they ran out of blackberry and I was sooooo sad!

For dinner all of us except for Lance ordered the turkey burger. Nicole and I added goat cheese to ours which was an excellent choice. I would add goat cheese to pretty much anything though.

The burger was seasoned well, but it was a fattier turkey than I would have preferred. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like my turkey burgers to be practically white, and at least 90% lean. A lot of restaurants in Phoenix offer some really lean turkey burgers, but this one was definitely a little greasy for my taste. It still tasted good, but not sure it’s something I would order again. Nicole and I also split an order of the half and half fries which were half herb fries and half sweet potato fries.

Honestly, they were pretty disappointing. The herb fries just tasted like regular old french fries, and the sweet potato fries were fine, but not exciting. Not like the sweet potato fries at Fez! They didn’t taste bad, just kinda boring. However, you know what was NOT boring? Umm this AMAZING dessert.

Hot, fresh donuts with a salted butterscotch dipping sauce. I diiiiieeee.


Seriously, the drinks and dessert alone were worth the entire experience. Steve’s veggies that we didn’t photograph were also perfectly seasoned and delicious, so maybe I just need to try and order something else for my main course? Either that, or just go for cocktails and dessert, because those are the most important things anyway. ;) Nicole posed with me to remind the world that I ran 20 miles. Good friends take silly pictures with you in public for you to post on your blog.

20 (.5)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That face is so cute, right? Maybe the next cycle of ANTM will be for old people, and I can pursue my amazing modeling skills.

What are your favorite restaurants and your favorite things about them??



The Grind on Urbanspoon

Jason’s 31st Birthday

So Jason is officially 31, which, if my memory serves me correctly, means we’ve been friends for about 11 years. It’s been quite a decade, and I have had the pleasure of watching one of my favorite people on earth grow up, and become this truly incredible version of himself. I love that about life long friendships–seeing how people change, and grow, and who they become along the way. I can’t wait to see how we all morph over the next decade!

Anyway, I wanted to make sure to celebrate Jason’s birthday before I left for the summer, so Saturday night we headed to O.H.S.O. Brewery. I read about this place on Marisa’s blog, and it looked like the perfect place for the occasion. Great looking menu, and enormous list of beers on tap, including some of my personal favorites.

“It’s my birthday!” Jason is going to be so happy I posted this picture.

Next to Jason is his friend Charles. Charles *hates* having his picture taken. He tried to hide from the camera several times, but he was right next to the birthday boy, so he’s in more shots than he knows ;)

Hermano is creepily trying to get into that shot in the background, hah.

Look Hermano, you get your OWN picture! ;)

While we waited for our food, we had some drinks. I had a half and half pint of coffee porter and sonoran white chocolate ale. Ummm, delicious. I’m a great beer mixer. I couldn’t wait for Jason to open his presents, so he started right after we ordered.

We got him the awesome Minnie Mouse bag. Hi Charles! ;)

Okay, so last week Jason was at my house, and his birthday present had come in the mail already, and Steve and I didn’t realize it was sitting out on the counter, so Jason picks it up and asks “Whose is this?” Crap. I totally froze, and blew the surprise, so he wasn’t exactly shocked when he opened it.

A GARMIN!!! What’s funny is Tom got him a one year gym membership. We didn’t consult until after we bought our respective gifts. I suggested to Bethany to make the whole thing really offensive and buy him a session of liposuction. Hah. But seriously, Jason has been doing awesome with his running, and I think he will get a ton of use out of this baby, especially since the day of his birthday celebration I pretty much forced him to sign up for a half marathon. Yes, I am a great friend. If you would like a super obnoxious friend that forces you to work out against your will, I am now accepting applications.

We also got him something he will probably enjoy even more…

It’s a People of Walmart book. Jason¬†hates Walmart, and he always talks about how trashy it is, so I knew he’d get a kick out of this book. Next, he opened Bethany’s present.

Clearly, it was a hit.

Great work, Bethy. Not only did you buy the best gift, and fit the gift theme, you also fit the wrapping theme. The hot pink is perfect.


Pump those biceps. It’s also the female shake weight. Gotta start somewhere.

We also had a pretty hilarious talk about shake weight injuries. Apparently, that thing can be dangerous! Shake with caution. Steve and I registered for one of those when we got married, but I am very sad to report that no one got us one.

Shortly after presents, our food arrived, and everything was so so soooo delicious. I didn’t take pictures of any of it because I was too busy inhaling my veggie burger. Yummmmm. Then we had birthday brownies for dessert.

Recipe coming soon. These were ridiculous.

O.H.S.O Brewery on Urbanspoon

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Hello from Ashland, OR! Tons of exciting things happening right now! Yesterday, I left Phoenix for the next 7 weeks. I’m on a little bit of a vacation for the next few days visiting my friend Mandie, then teaching/directing/choreographing in Portland, then off to Maui for my (late) honeymoon. Whew. Can you imagine packing for that many things at once? It was a little ridiculous. Even Clementine thought so.

“Mom. I think you’re forgetting something. If you don’t pack me, who will run circles around your neck and nibble on your nose all summer? Huhhhh???”

It’s definitely going to be a challenge to be away from Steve for the next 6 weeks. Before I left, he took me on the best date ever. This guy. He is amazing. It started out with my first trip ever to the baking supply store!

Then dinner at Bandera.

They have the bessssst cornbread!


Baking store and bread? Clearly, he know the way to my heart. ;)

I arrived in Ashland late last night, and pretty much went straight to bed. I can’t stay with Mandie because she has a cat, but she put me up in a super cute hotel down town! It kind of reminds me of a fancier hostel. There’s a shared bathroom, but private rooms, and the rooms are super cute and homey looking.

I woke up bright and early this morning. Of course. Why would my body ever possibly let me sleep in? Actually, it wasn’t bad, though. I looked at my phone, and it read 52 degrees, and I looked outside and saw clouds, and felt a beautiful breeze. I couldn’t wait to get outside, get my workout in, and explore the city! Today is the first official day of my marathon training. I had high hopes that my body would be like “OMG marathon training!! ALL BETTER!! Run all you want, Ari!” You can call me silly, but I prefer idealistic ;)

The truth is, running still hurts. Almost immediately. But it’s okay. I had surgery less than 2 weeks ago, and as much as I would love to wear a cape and stuff, I’m not super woman. The good news is it’s so early that this won’t set me back, and the mileage is really low, so I can walk my training plan until I’m back to normal. I actually forgot how great walking can be! I walked around downtown Ashland before finding Lithia Park that Mandie had mentioned to me when we drove in last night.

This park was absolutely gorgeous!! I really wished I had brought my camera with me, and not just my phone. I will definitely have to go back before I leave. I did manage to capture a bit of it on the android, though.

This beautiful creek runs all the way through the park, and there are tons of benches, and places to sit, as well as little paths down to the water. If I lived here, I would be here every day. The road started off paved, then turned into a trail.

I just kept walking, and let myself kind of get lost in there. I had been so excited to get out this morning, I hadn’t even thought to grab my ipod, and I ended up being really glad to be out there without it, and just be with nature. I saw lots of other walkers, a few runners (jealous face), and even some people doing yoga! Everyone was super friendly. In fact, I am kind of obsessed with this town. If I never make it back to Phoenix, you know why…

I have this thing for water. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the desert.

And the coolest part? I saw DEER!!!!!

I was walking by, and I heard rustling. The next thing I knew I was 3 feet away from these deer, staring them in the face. They weren’t the least bit frightened of me. How cool!!! Speaking of, I don’t know if I ever mentioned the time Nicole and I went on a driving adventure in Tempe, and saw a zebra in someone’s back yard?

Not quite as cool as the deer, but definitely interesting, haha. Can you imagine owning a zebra? Anyway, now I’m sitting at Starbucks enjoying some hot coffee.

Ohhh, how I’ve missed you. Grande bold coffee, 2 pumps sf mocha, 1 pump sf caramel, steamed soy.

Also, I have some really exciting news! A couple of weeks ago, I finally did something that I’ve wanted to do for quite some time, and I applied to be a FitFluential ambassador. I never thought in a million years that I would be accepted, but last night I received an email inviting me to join the team, and I am BEYOND thrilled!!! What an amazing opportunity to be a part of a community I value so highly with other bloggers that I admire. I am a lucky gal!


Firefly Run 5K Race Recap

Saturday evening I had the opportunity to participate in my first night race!

Heather, Emily, Nicole, Me, Bethany & Jason

Decked out in glow gear. We take night racing very seriously.

Steve, Jason, Bethany and I arrived pretty early so that Jason could register. We quickly met up with Nicole, Emily and Stacey, and hung out for a bit before lining up for the race.

Jason, Bethany and I started towards the back. It was Bethany’s first race, and we had all three planned to run it together. Usually, I’m a big jerk and I ditch my friends at races (or if I race with Nicole, I tell her to just leave me because I will never make it at her pace haha), but I really wanted to run Bethany’s first race with her, and I was excited about the idea of running with my two best friends.

When we started running, I was amazed at how nice it was to be able to look around and enjoy my surroundings. The only thing I usually see during the race is the face of little Garmi. And she’s cute, but Phoenix at night kind of is too. The weather was perfect, and it just felt amazing to be running through the city at night!

The race was an out and back route, so shortly after mile 1, we saw Nicole and Stacey racing back. We all shouted and waved at each other. I was ridiculously energetic, and I kept trying to talk to Jason and Bethany, but they were not feeling as chatty as me haha. Emily and Heather were pretty close to us for the majority of the race as well.

At mile 2, I could tell Bethany was getting tired, but she turned it up a little bit and surprised Jason and me. I started thinking at that point

10 years ago, who would have thought that we would be here?

10 years ago I was near the end of my “first round” of weight loss. I was ridiculously unhealthy, and in a very bad place in my life. We had all been through an impossibly tough and life changing situation together, and the three of us were doing the best we could to get by. Sometimes I can’t believe we’ve made it to this point in our lives–not running a 5k, but maintained our friendship through thick and thin, grown and changed so much as human beings, and found even deeper love and appreciation of our friendships.

I began to get a little lot sentimental, and started to wish that our whole group could be together, but mostly, I was just happy to have these 2 amazing friends in my life, and to be accomplishing goals together. We’ve always been really different. Neither of them are into theatre, and we’re all just really different, so it was awesome to be going after something together.

Bethany kicked some serious ass, didn’t stop once, and ran the fastest she’s run in this stage of her life. I couldn’t be more proud of her!

Before we finished, Steve caught Stacey busting through the finish line with a rockin’ PR!!

You PR that shit, Stacey!!

Then at the very end, Jason picked it up a little and finished a few seconds before Bethany and me.

So serious!

Shortly after, Bethany rocked it out and pulled out a sub 9 pace for the last stretch. I finished with the biggest grin on my face.

Running is fun!!

WHEEEEE!!! I love running!!!! Usually at the end of a race I hate running. This was a pleasant change ;)

After the race,  we headed over to Papago Brewing Company for food and drinks, where we met up with Nacho.

And Miriam and Scott who were visiting from Indiana.

Jason and Nacho had been to Papago Brewing Company before, finding it after we had all been huge fans of their brews at various other restaurants. The beer selection was ridiculous, and the food was incredible! Almost everyone ordered pizza.

Everything I tasted was delicious, and I absolutely loved the atmosphere of this place! I was worried it was going to be a little stuffy since it’s in Scottsdale, but it was definitely beer people atmosphere if that makes sense. I absolutely loved it and will definitely be back in the future!

Final funny note: I mentioned to Steve that he didn’t get a single picture of Nicole after the race began and he commented “She ran by so fast at the end, the camera couldn’t focus on her!” Nice job, Speedy Gonzales. ;)


Nicole’s Birthday @ Pizzeria Bianco

If you live in Arizona, and maybe even if you don’t, you’ve probably heard of Pizzeria Bianco. Several reviews call it the best pizza in the United States. It is a tiny little restaurant in downtown Phoenix, and they are known for their delicious, wood oven baked pizzas, and their outrageous wait times. I’ve heard up to 4-5 hours!! And people wait. There’s a bar next door that I’m sure gets a ton of business as people go through multiple bottles of wine waiting for their chance at some pizza.

I had tried to get a reservation there for my birthday, but was told you need to make them about 1-2 months out (YIKES!!). Also, they only make them for parties of 6 or more. For Nicole’s birthday, we made a plan pretty far out in advance, that we would brave the wait times and finally get to try this place.

I want one of these in my house. I'm counting on Lance to make that happen. Nicole's husband has magical powers. Like building ovens, fixing electricity, and changing light bulbs. Yes, I do find changing a light bulb magical. I would be too lazy to even consider it until I had to get out the flashlight app on my phone.

Oh look, my favorite food! Maybe they should create a race special to end right out front and at the end, instead of a medal, they just give you a loaf of bread. A girl can dream...

To our surprise, we were seated immediately! Apparently 6pm on a Tuesday night is the time to get your pizza fix, friends! I was pretty impressed with their fancy glass coke bottles.

It was really nice to get to know some of Nicole’s friends! They were super awesome and fun (obviously, because awesome people keep awesome company ;) )

The Birthday Girl aka my BBFF. Nicole, that means Blog BFF. I created that title just for you. I hope you like it and don't think I'm a freak. ;)

Sheena...I hope I spelled that right!



I have no idea who that crazy is with the cute husband.

We all ended up ordering a different pizza, and I have to say, none of them disappointed!

Steve and I shared this one. It's called the Rosa and has rosemary, pistaccios, and red onions. It was soooo flavorful!! It was like my tastebuds were having a party like that little rat in Rattatouie!

Nicole's pizza. I know it had ricotta cheese and arugala. It was also super delicious, but I liked mine better :)

Lance's had....meat. So descriptive, I know. I didn't taste it, but he liked it!

I don't remember who ordered this or what it was, but it looks good!

And the winner issss....! Oh yes, that is my pizza again.

Everything was delicious. I seriously could not get over how bold the flavors were. I don’t think I would wait 4 hours, but I would absolutely go back again!

After dinner we took some pictures. I know, you’re shocked.

BBFFs. This could get awkward real quick if Nicole tells me this term is totally unacceptable and ridiculous.

Then we went back to Nicole’s house for dessert, which of course means I have an other recipe to share with you soon.

This birthday girl knows how to cut some brownies!

I had so much fun celebrating with Nicole and her friends! I feel so honored to be a part of her real life friends group, and to have such an amazing friend in my life!! Happy birthday Niole!!!

Pizzeria Bianco on Urbanspoon