Hikaru Sushi

Hi-dee-ho there, neighborinos! Happy Monday! Or, as I usually say instead, “It’s Monday.” I hope that everyone had a great, relaxing weekend. Mine was a little more low-key than they have been lately, which was actually pretty wonderful. I spent some time with the fam, Sean got me thoroughly engrossed in an amazing video game (Heavy Rain, I know I’m late to the party), and I got to spend Sunday afternoon with FOUR doggies at the Shirlington Dog Park (Harry, Daxter, their cousin Oreo, AND his friend Casey that my sister is dogsitting!). My boys even ventured into the stream next to the park for the first time. I was very proud.

My weekend kicked off, however, with a new (to me) restaurant and some wonderful company. I met up with my Freshman year roommate, Joanna, and her twin sister Aileen (you might recognize them from my Harry Potter birthday party a couple weeks ago) for dinner at Hikaru Sushi!

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Me & Jo

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Aileen!

Since you know I am ALWAYS game to test out new sushi places (and size them up against my beloved Koi Koi, hehe), I was really excited when Aileen suggested this place. Hikaru is a cute little place located in Arlington right near the Courthouse AMC Movie Theatre.

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I think there was a little bit of a mix-up about who our server was supposed to be at first, but eventually we ordered some sake and all was right in the world, hehe.

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We also shared an order of edamame (which was a HUGE plate — great value, IMO!) to start, and Jo and I got seaweed salads as well. Nom.

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As for the sushi list itself, I had a really hard time deciding! They definitely had a lot of really interesting specialty rolls. The pricing for their specialty rolls was a little bit higher than Koi Koi, but other than that I thought that their offerings were really comparable.

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I ended up going with the Eel Cucumber roll (love me some unagi!) and the Fruity Maki roll, which had mango, apple, and avocado inside (as well as being wrapped in avocado). It was SUPER delicious! The fruity roll was really refreshing, almost like dessert sushi. Now that is something I can CERTAINLY get on board with!

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One touch that I really loved about this place is that when they brought out our check, they gave us each a little box of this Asian gum. This was hugely nostalgic for me, because I used to get this gum all the time whenever I would accompany my mom to the Asian grocery store. I would always beg for it when we got to the register, as I did with all the other crap I had thrown into the cart as we went down each ridiculously tiny aisle. Pocky sticks, strawberry koalas, these little candy discs that my sister and I called “pepperonis”, and VitaSoy boxes were my jam. (Hmm, I think I need to take a trip to Great Wall soon…)

Is there any particular food or candy that is particularly nostalgic for you? In addition to my strange (read: awesome!) Asian candy obsessions, I also have a very special place in my heart for Kinder Eggs, which remind of my elementary school days in Warsaw, Poland. I would bike down our cobblestone street to the convenience shop on the corner, spend my allowance on an egg or two, and kept a whole little collection of the toys you find inside.

Woodberry Kitchen

Good morning lovers. Now, I know you are all anxiously awaiting to hear who the winner of the Sparkle Gift Pack is, but you’re going to have to wait just a smidge longer. As a bonus, however, there is lots of beautiful food in between now and then! Though technically, I guess you really could just scroll down to the end. It’s like I’d ever know. I place the choice firmly in your hands. 😉

So! Aside from my awesome rock climbing adventures from this weekend, I also got to spend a little QT with my “big” sis (the word “big” is loosely applied here, as she is 7 inches shorter than me). We spent Saturday afternoon scouring Old Navy and Target for swimsuits for our upcoming St. Maarten family vacation (I found a neon pink bikini that I am in lurrrrve with) and then chilled out in her apartment with the dogs while we made sushi. Mmmm.

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That night, while the skies opened up outside, we watched My Week with Marilyn, which was excellent! I am a HUGE Marilyn Monroe fan, and I found the movie/story really interesting. I want to read the book it is based on now! It also helped soften me towards Michelle Williams a little bit, who I don’t actually like very much as an actress (blasphemy, I know). I just can’t see past her Jen Lindley ways, I guess? Hahaha.

The following morning, after carting Harry & Daxter out in the freezing rain to do their biz-niz (if I ever move into an apartment, I am not even kidding about getting one of those fake lawns to put on the balcony.) I decided that I MUST have crepes. I whipped up a bit o’ batter with some whole wheat flour, milk, and an egg, and went to work.

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One sweet crepe filled with raspberry preserves, and one savory with sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and a sprinkle of cheese. And a runny egg (and pickles, hehe) on the side. Nom! I wanted to make sure we had enough to eat so that we wouldn’t be starving by the time we got around to lunch. Jenny had made a 1:30 lunch reservation for us at Woodberry Kitchen, an awesome restaurant in the sketchiest part of Baltimore, hehe.

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Woodberry Kitchen is a sustainability-focused, locally-sourced restaurant with a rustic American menu. On weekdays it’s only open for dinner, but on Saturdays and Sundays they also serve brunch from 10 to 2. The location is, as even Jenny admitted, rather obscure. It’s amidst this beautiful new development of row homes and higher-end shops… which is smack-dab in the middle of this run down, super sketchy area. There’s a huge warehouse with smashed windows and boarded up doors just a block over, haha.

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The whole place has a very farm-like feel to it, with a large, open main dining room (that has a small upstairs balcony area where we were seated), an open kitchen, and vintage decorations. All the servers wore plaid shirts (the guys) or skirts with handmade-looking aprons over them (the girls), which was pretty adorable. You can probably already tell that there was a definite hipster aesthetic to the whole place, which I dug!

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They had live music playing, which made for a really nice ambiance.

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From our upstairs seat right along the edge of the balcony, we could see right into the balcony, which was super fun for me! They prepared all their eggs in little cast-iron skillets which they put directly into their woodburning oven.

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They offered complimentary house-carbonated seltzer, so I was pretty much in love after that point. Jenny got a Bloody Mary which was really peppery and delicious, too. I also loved their house-made hot sauce — spicy! They boast that everything they serve is made in-house, although when we asked for ketchup it definitely tasted like Heinz to us, hehe.

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To start, we shared a piece of monkey bread which was so good, I wanted to wrap myself up in it and die. Holy moly, it was amazing. Fluffy and buttery on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Homina, homina, homina.

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Jenny ordered the Asparagus Croissant Sandwich, which came with goat cheese, spinach, chile oil, and skillet potatoes on the side. The goat cheese tasted SO fresh, it really rang out.

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I ordered the Egg in a Hole, which was made with Pullman Bread and had sauteed asparagus and ramp leaves. It also came with this sweet onion cream on the side, which I think our waiter called bisous (?). It. Was. Incredible. For the sauce, our server said they just cook down onions and blend it with cream, and it was so delicious — sweet and light and I just wanted to take a bath in it. I also got a side of scrapple, hehe.

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The food really was excellent. I obviously can’t speak for their dinner menu, though I’ve heard rave reviews from Jenny as well as others on that, but their baked goods are incredible. The monkey bread, croissant, and the bread in my dish were all outstanding. I’d say that between the two dishes we got, mine edged out Jenny’s just a little bit, only because the goat cheese masked a lot of the other flavors in her sandwich. Not that goat cheese doesn’t taste delicious on its own, but I guess we were just expecting a little more complexity. Either way, I definitely recommend Woodberry Kitchen if you’re looking for a new place in Baltimore and are willing to brave the drive there, hahaha.

Okay! For those of you who have survived this post thus far, here we go. Out of the most entries that I’ve ever had on a giveaway EVER, the randomly drawn winner of the V8 V-Fusion Sparkling gift pack is…

Dani! Congratulations! Shoot me an email ([email protected]) with your address details, and we’ll take it from there!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and I’ll try to come up with another fabulous giveaway soon! Have a great day, everyone!

Tono Sushi (Weigh-in)

Sorry for the late post this morning, friends! I met up with an old friend last night and we had so much to catch up on that it ended up being a much later night than I originally intended! That’s the mark of having some great conversation though, isn’t it? Looking at the clock and being flabbergasted at how much time has gone by? Love it.

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Tiffany and I went to JMU together (go Dukes!), but despite us both living up in DC since graduating, we haven’t seen each other in almost four years! After some Facebook back-and-forth, we realized we are actually going to be in Orlando (and, subsequently, HARRY POTTER WORLD!) at the same time later this month! Figuring that we shouldn’t have to wait until we’re in different states to meet up, we made plans to get dinner at Tono Sushi in Woodley Park.

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Tono Sushi is right around the corner from where Tiffany lives, and is her favorite place. I can see why! You know that I love me some Koi Koi, but I have to admit that this place was pretty great. They start you off with a little complimentary bowl of soy and sesame marinated bean sprouts, which were delicious.

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And we followed it up with an order of edamame, naturally.

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The main even was the sushi, of course. We each picked two rolls: pickled daikon and spicy crunch tuna for her, salmon & scallion and spicy crunch salmon for me!

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I got the spicy crunchy roll on her recommendation and it was spot on. I know it doesn’t exactly qualify as “healthy” sushi, but daaaaang was it good! The fish was so fresh, too, and the price was awesome! I always expect to spend a fortune getting sushi, but this place is SO reasonable. I only ended up spending about $15, and that’s including tax & tip! If you’re ever looking to try a new sushi place in the city, I heartily recommend this one.

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We headed around the corner to her apartment to hang out, ham it up in front of the camera (I mean, have you met me?), and continue chatting. A fabulous Tuesday night, all in all!

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Bonus: I ended up snapping this pretty awesome picture of her during the self-timed photo madness, hehe. The shot above is actually just a test shot I took while I was working out the timer, but I kind of love it. Gorgeous, isn’t she? 🙂

Okay, so before I head off, onto Weigh-in Wednesday business as usual:

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 193.8 lbs
This Weigh-in: 192.4 lbs
Difference: -1.4 lbs

Woot! Another pound down, another step back in the right direction. Onward and downward!

The Ultimate Frustration (Weigh-in)

All right: first things first. Thank you all so, so much for your comments on yesterday’s post on debt. I was more terrified publishing that than I have ever been about posting my weight (though that may have changed after this morning’s weigh-in…) and I was blown away by your willingness to share your own financial stories as well. It is, as always, very comforting to know that I’m certainly not alone in my struggles.

So what better way to recover from the emotional stress of confessing my financial woes to the world than by spending even more money on my favoritist thing ever?

Suuuuuushi

Oh, c’mon, I kid! I kid! Don’t worry, this guy paid:

Tag Along
And he was super psyched about it, too!

Yep, even amongst all my preparing for my upcoming Ottawa trip (I leave tomorrow!), Steve and I managed to find time for a quick but awesome (as usual) sushi dinner at Koi Koi. Well, sushi for me, teriyaki for him. Getting his sushi-resistant self just to take me to the restaurant is progress enough for me though!

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And before dinner? A smile-inducing trip to the dog park!

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Gimme!

Daxter, ever the social butterfly, managed to make friends with the big dogs…

Big Dog, Little Dog

… as well as the even-smaller-than-he-is dogs.

Who's the wiener?

While Harry, reporting for duty as the fun police, was quick to break up encounters with any of the aforementioned big dogs that could have possibly roughed up his little bro.

Roaming Free

It’s actually pretty cute that he’s so protective of Daxter, though somewhat obnoxious. I guess Harry’s just a family man dog, through and through.

Family

And now for the main event. I hope you have the above images of happy puppies deeply ingrained in your mind, ’cause it’s weigh-in time. And I’ve already alluded to the fact that this morning did not bring pleasant news (which is just what I wanted right before taking a trip to the land of beavertails and poutine!) There’s no use delaying the inevitable, so here it is:

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 186.0 lbs
This Weigh-in: 188.3 lbs
Difference: +2.3 lbs

WOMPITY WOMP WOMP WOMP.

*Deep breath*

Okay, so perhaps you can see why this is, er, mildly frustrating. Like, back to the 5 Stages of Grief type-frustrating. The last time I stepped on a scale, albeit unofficially, I was down to 183 lbs. Of course, this was in the wake of my latest kidney stone episode and my eating & drinking had been totally out of whack. Since I hadn’t been eating much, I knew that weigh-in didn’t count. Still, I couldn’t simply forget about that three-pound loss, “real” or not. And now I’ve actually gained two pounds from my last “official” weigh-in, which actually puts FIVE extra pounds on the scale from what I had last seen!

WTF?

This isn’t necessarily an “I don’t know what happened!” kind of situation. It’s not like I can’t guess at some of the probable factors that contributed to this gain: My body trying to regulate itself after three days of barely eating and haphazard fluid consumption. Sushi last night, which means soy sauce, which means sodium, which leads to water retention. Celebrating my dad’s early birthday Sunday. Emotional tensions running high in my house leading to emotional eating. And so on, and so forth.

But it isn’t as if these things (aside from the kidney-stone-induced loss of appetite) are that out of the ordinary for me. And part of what makes this gain particularly frustrating is that I’ve actually been exercising, running, and legitimately TRYING in terms of physical activity, which, as you’re all aware, is certainly NOT the norm for me. I’ve been sticking to my race training plan surprisingly well, and the miles are starting to get easier. But evidently, the scale doesn’t really seem to care about how hard I’m trying in the fitness department. Ugh.

It’s just so difficult, because the truth is that I often feel quite happy at the weight I am right now. I feel accomplished for having lost as much weight as I have. I feel beautiful most of the time, and sometimes, if I’m dressed just right, I even feel–gasp!–thin. But acknowledging that, I still KNOW that I want to lose more weight, that I can still be much healthier, that I have further to go. I know that I’m still overweight, though VASTLY less so than I used to be, and I want to continue to make strides in the right direction. It sometimes feels as if I am battling myself, almost as if being in any way happy with my body means I can’t make progress in my weight loss. And that kind of thinking borders very dangerously on the self-loathing mentality that I swore never to return to. Like I said: it’s frustrating.

Sorry to be ending this wit a bit of a downer. Just scroll back up to the puppies and everything will be okay! I mean, it’s not like I’m not giving up (aw, HELL no!), I knew from the beginning that I was in this for the long haul. So I let myself deal, I get it all out here, and I press on.

So say we all.

Take 2

Ahhh, the bittersweet taste of Wednesday. We’re halfway there, but still halfway, er, away. Plus, it’s weigh-in day. Urk. After last week’s less-than-desirable weigh-in, I wasn’t really sure what to expect this morning. I tried to keep it fairly light all week, despite all the eating out that’s been occurring. Last night I met up with Reema for… SUSHI!

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And it was happy to see me!

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As we were to see it, hehehe.

Post-deliciousness, I was busy preparing for the worst. In order to make myself feel better after a potentially heartbreaking weigh-in, I spent a little time throwing together my second-ever vlog! That way, I’d at least have an excuse to watch myself talk afterwards, which we all know I vainly love to do.

I’ve definitely learned from my first experience with, sigh, vlogging (still hate the word.) I’m getting faster at splicing together clips, too. It only took me like, an hour and a half this time!

Note: my hair is wet because I had just showered (shock!), and I had just showered because I did 30 Day Shred (BIGGER SHOCK!)

All right, all right, time to get on with this other show:

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Week’s Weight: 189.4 lbs
This Week’s Weight: 186.2 lbs
This Week’s Change: -3.2 lbs

I DON’T UNDERSTAND MY BODY. I gain two and a half pounds last week, only to lose three now? Oy. I guess I should just take the loss (between the yo-yoing up and down, it’s a 0.7 pound loss overall for the past two weeks) and be happy, but I’m just so confused. I guess even when you limit yourself to a weekly weigh-in (although in full disclosure, I did take a couple of sneak peeks over the weekend…) things aren’t always going to be reflective of your “true” weight. As long as it’s all headed in the right direction I can’t be too upset though, I suppose!

Thoughts on the vlog this time around? Tips or ideas for next time?

Another question: is it true that sparkling water still isn’t good for you because the carbonation weakens bone density? Because if so, I will be sad. It makes water so much more interesting!

Edit: I just Googled the answer to this, and it looks like the answer is no! Evidently it isn’t the carbonation in soda that affects calcium levels and bone density, it’s other (worse) stuff. Huzzah!