Vegan at Disneyland: Putting your willpower to the test

Just this past week I decided to take a 30 day vegan challenge. I have been a vegetarian for almost 3 years now. My reason for making the switch was to better my health and to stand up for animal rights. At the time, I had read Skinny Bitch and was shocked at some of the information in that book. Recently though, after losing my car, practicing yoga on a daily basis and living in California where health is a part of everyone’s life, I’ve decided to read up on veganism.

The public library has been a great resource and book I really enjoyed was The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone. Yes, there are recipes in this book, but the first 135 pages are devoted to explaining how meat, dairy, GMOs and all that crap is affecting our bodies, the animals and the environment. It’s shocking – read it.

I promised myself to try being vegan for 30 days and then reevaluate what I am able and willing to sacrifice to live a cruelty-free life. My first week went great until I was faced with the biggest challenge of my life: Disneyland. As you enter the park, the aroma of freshly popped kettle corn awakens your taste buds and whispers “just have a little bite, it won’t hurt you.” Wrong Mr.Kettle Corn! I know you will have me addicted by the first bite. I must resist. And I did.

Bachelorette Party at Disneyland!

Throughout the day, my friends enjoyed ice cream, cookies, cheesy pizza, fried this and chocolate covered that…It was torture. However, I did a little research before entering and found that my favorite Vegetarian Gumbo in Sourdough bread bowl was indeed vegan! For dinner we went to Wine Country Trattoria in California Adventure and they went above and beyond to accommodate my vegan needs. The chef came out and went over the menu with me and totally hooked my up with a delicious vegan, veggie-filled pasta dish!

We thought we were pretty clever until we got completely soaked at the bottom!

The only issue I had was treats. I was craving chocolate and could not find anything that did not contain butter or milk. Next time I will have to bring my own! My willpower was definite put to the test and passed with flying colors.

P.S If you’re interested in environmental issues, animal rights, social and political debates going on these days check out Face Issues on Facebook. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Categories: The little things in life | 1 Comment

Story Time

Gather around kids, it’s Story Time!

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who decided to go on a road trip up the West Coast because, clearly, her life wasn’t full enough of adventures. Well she and her high school friend, Pascale, set off on a fairly unprepared 12-day trip in Mabel the Gold Malibu! Our goal was to drive from Los Angeles to Vancouver along the coast and Couch Surf along the way in order to save money.

Side note about Couch Surfing for all you skeptics out there: It’s awesome. It’s a non-profit website  where you can create a profile and browse through a list of people in cities all over the world that are opening up their couch or guest bedroom to you for free while you are traveling! No, the majority are not mass murderers. I said the majority.

Back to the story. We kicked off the journey with an amazing 3-day stay in the Bay Area where my cousins Cathy, Jordan and Izzy live. We decided to splurge and spend a night at the Fort Mason Hostel in San Francisco. Best. Decision. Ever. There, we became friends with our hostel leader, Erinne, who invited us to an exclusive office party at boyfriend’s work on the 18th floor of a high-rise in the financial district. Let’s just say we were hanging with the big wigs. Now, we still had one night to stay in San Francisco, but no where to stay (the hostel was booked) so our very generous hostel friend, Erinne, offered up her couches to us! We rewarded her with a can of maple syrup and some maple candy that Pascale brought from the source!

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Fisherman’s Wharf on a typical windy San Francisco day

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3 yogis in Petaluma

Check out my high tech slideshow below for more pics of SF and the giant Redwoods!

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It was going to be hard to beat San Francisco…until we met Portland.

On our way to Portland we made a stop in Crescent City, CA where we slept in a very cozy KOA and in the morning, we went on a little trail adventure through the Redwood Forests.

 

A few hundred miles later we arrived in what is probably America’s most wonderful city: Portland. Food, bikes, beer and beautiful scenery. What else could you ask for? We were lucky enough to stay with some friends that my dad went to college with. We started out by roaming around the Pearl District where resides the best coffee shop in the world: Barista’s. Once our highly caffeinated bodies started to wake up, we walked/took the FREE train to Powell’s Bookstore. We basically stayed there for 2 days. I don’t think you understand how amazing this place was. Oh and it was right next door to a bangin’ record store that made me discover a band I now love: Walk The Moon.

We worked up an appetite and headed to the famous VooDoo Donuts. I had the “Old Dirty Bastard” which consisted of a donut the size of my head with chocolate and peanut butter melted over top. I died right then and there.

VooDoo Deliciousness

 

Keep Portland Weird

After eating your way through Portland and enjoying some local beers at Deschutes Brewery and the modern yet cozy Bailey’s Taproom, it was time to continue on to Seattle (no we did not drive immediately after leaving the pub)!

Ahhh the smell of oysters, fresh fish and coffee? Seattle greeted us with it’s cool weather and grey skies but along with that came the hustle and bustle of Pike’s Place Fish Market and the original Starbucks. As former employees, Pascale and I peeked in and immediately agreed that we would NEVER want to work at that location. It was just insane in there! Phew.

View of Seattle

Believe it or not, Jordan (cousin who we were staying with outside of San Francisco in case you lost track) was in Seattle at the same time visiting a friend and attending the Chelsea-Seattle Soccer game. We stayed on the floor of Jordan’s friend for one night and visited Seattle with them, enjoying good food, great beer and beautiful scenery. The second night we Couch Surfed with a very nice guy a little outside downtown Seattle. He left for work early in the morning and left us with the name of a coffee shop. Fuel was no Barista’s, but it did the trick!

Pike Place Market

Watching the boats come in

We thought we might be able to make up a secret sign and become part of the original Starbucks society

The story does not end here. The story only gets better from here on out. Good bye scenic, peaceful, easy travel. Good bye Mabel. We left Seattle happy as can be on our way to our final destination: Vancouver, BC. Unfortunately, out of the three of us (Me, Pascale and Mabel the Malibu) only 2 of us actually made it there.

Let me set the scene: Pascale is at the wheel, we’ve just travelled over 1300 miles, slept on strangers’ floors, spent most of our savings and use maple syrup as a currency. Mabel starts acting up so Pascale takes an exit for Bellingham, WA where Mabel breathes her last breath of gas. We got towed to a small local garage with 45 minutes before closing time. Our options: get transmission fixed for $3000 or sell the car for parts for $100. Wow. Considering Mabel was only worth $2500 (but millions in my books), I opted for option #2.

So we are now in an unknown town that is hosting a dirt car race this particular weekend meaning that all hotels are booked and rental cars have been rented out. Great. Luckily the mechanic was able to find us a rental car 30 minutes away from where we were. an $85 cab ride later, we were given the keys to a luxurious….wait for it….mini van! Yup, that happened. The good news was that we were only a few hours away from Vancouver. At the Canadian border, the agent asked us why we had a rental mini van. “WELL sir, let me tell you a little story!”. We passed the border with ease and a “Good Luck Girls!”.

Staying with a friend of a friend, Trini, we spent an amazing 3 days in Vancouver. I even bumped into a friend I went to College with in Ottawa! Small world!

Vancouver!

Good thing AAA provided me with this signs. It’s as though they knew

Goodbye old girl

View from Trini’s porch in Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

Me and Trini

Poutine!!! <3

As our nerves began to settle post-car abandonment, we started to think of the most logical and cheap way to get back to Los Angeles before Pascale’s flight for Montreal took off. Fabulous!

Option 1: Flying – eliminated right away because of all the stuff we had (rollerblades, yoga mat, suitcases, maple syrup…)

Option 2: Renting a car back – eliminated due to a million complications and $$$.

Option 3: Greyhound Bus – Winner! for $89 each this 52 passenger beauty will take us from Seattle Airport to downtown LA. All we need to do is return the rental van in Bellingham, take a shuttle from there to Seattle Airport and then take 3 Greyhound Buses (26 hours of luxury, comfort and serenity  *insert sarcastic tone here*) back to one of the most sketchy bus terminals in the world: Los Angeles Greyhound Terminal.

Homeless, carless and living off of peanut butter waiting for the Greyhound

The story has a happy ending though. My roommate Aimee picked us up from the bus station and took us back to our beloved laundry room by the beach. Side note: There was a fire in our last apartment and we have been in a friend’s laundry room on 2 twin beds for 3 months. The next morning Pascale and I had a very NORMAL day at the beach with Smore Cupcakes from my favorite cafe in Hermosa Beach, GumTree.

Home :)

All in all, ladies and gentlemen, we had an incredible adventure and, hey, it gives me something to write about!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m so Pinterested in you.

Never count on me to be on top of the newest, coolest gadget, social media site or latest fashion statement. BUT according to my confirmation email from Pinterest.com, and I quote:

“As one of the first members of Pinterest, your pins will help set the tone for the whole community. “

That’s right folks. Watch out because I will be setting the tone for the world of virtual…pinboarding?

Ok, so here’s how it works. You log on and can browse through various topics such as home decor, DIY crafts, fashion, photography, food… and you “pin” the pictures that you like and feel inspired by onto your magical virtual pin board! And WHY would you want to do this, you ask? Because then, you can create a board for, Oh I don’t know, YOUR PERFECT HOUSE BY THE BEACH WITH MASON JARS FOR OUTDOOR LIGHTING AND CUTE LITTLE FLOWER AND HERB GARDENS AND A…ok maybe that’s just me.

Also very useful for future gift shopping. No more giving your mom cooking utensils and your dad a plaid tie. It’s time to get creative and offer them something like this….

Who would't want this?

But more importantly I think this will be an amazing tool for my career in event planning. It’s possible to browse any other website and click on pictures and “pin” it and it will automatically go to your board of choice (birthday party ideas, wedding ideas, Grammys pre party…). Think of it as the 21st century Inspiration Board without ruining perfectly good magazines or getting glue all over your floor. Brilliant if you ask me.

Guys, there is a lot of interesting stuff on there for you too. If you want to sign up and follow what I’m “pinning” up on on boards, add me: gabriellenorton .

Now go see what might Pinterest you! http://www.pinterest.com

Categories: The little things in life | Leave a comment

What happened to her?

I know you have been dying to know more about what is going on in my life. Wait no more! I have plenty to talk about since the last time I blogged about the random-interesting-for-some-people things happening in my life. To make things easier, I made a list.

List of things happening in my life:

1) I moved to the beach! The beautiful, non touristy beach by the name of Redondo Beach is now where I reside. You can BARELY notice the giant factory down my street because if you look very closely behind the giant tree in front of our kitchen window, you can see the ocean :) . Totally worth it.

2) I commute 45 minutes without traffic or 1h33 minutes with traffic to get to work back in Pasadena. I don’t want to talk about it.

3) I got transferred to the lululemon in Manhattan Beach starting in 3 weeks! Estimated commute time: 7 minutes by car or 1h by bicycle by taking the beach strand and walking by bike up a giant hill. I have yet to test it out.

4) I still horseback ride…all the way up past Pasadena. It’s worth it as long as I miss traffic.

5) I got a tattoo. It’s a giant panther with wings and symbolized fierceness and freedom.

6) Totally did not get a tattoo.

7) Still have Mabel the Malibu. She is running like a charm but is also not enjoying the commute to Pasadena.

8) I have yet to learn how to surf.

9) My roommate and I go on bike rides almost every day and we saw a whale and some dolphins!

10) Got a 3 day Disneyland pass. Have been twice so far. It is indeed the Happiest Place on Earth where there are no calories!

11) I’m totally into yoga, juicing every fruit and vegetable that exists and riding my bike with my handy dandy basket everywhere.

11) Next visit to Canada is scheduled for the end of May :)


Categories: LA Journey, The little things in life | 1 Comment

Paddleboarding in the deep blue sea

What was supposed to be a Holiday training for the management team at lululemon Pasadena, turned out to be one of the funnest days yet!

Our manager surprised me, James and Shaunda with an afternoon of paddleboarding in Marina del Rey! Not sure what paddleboarding is? Check this out.

Did you see that guy in the first shot surfing the waves? Yeah well, we weren’t even close to that but we did do some yoga poses in the marina! We’ll be sent the pictures later this week.

We paddled a few feet away from sea lions and they would jump in and swim right under us. Kind of a scary feeling but very cool to watch. They smell awful by the way.

After spending an hour in the fog doing yoga poses and falling off, we ventured out to the open sea and circled around the Coast Guard ship. It was harder tok keep our balance out there because there were actual waves but we were pros at this point. ha.

We made it back 3 hours later and as we were paddleing up to the dock we saw a stingray and some crabs! Oh California, you will never cease to amaze me!

James and I did a double down dog yoga pose on a paddleboard!

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I think you got a little bit of mud right there

How to describe the Gladiator Rock n Run in one word? Muddy.

Minus the fact that I slammed my knee on the bottom of the mud pit out of pure excitement, the whole thing was a blast and I would definitely do it again!

As I was walking to my car covered head to toe in greyish brown caked on mud, I guy drove by in his Jeep Wrangler (I was very jealous) and yelled “I think you have a little bit of mud on your shoulder!”. Thank you Captain Obvious.

Check out the Glendale New Press for pics and keep an eye out for picture #14 you might see some familiar faces!

There was no saving my socks or shoes. They went straight to the trash and it took two loads of laundry to get every bit of mud off of my clothes. Yes yes it was still worth it!

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Visit from my favourite fazoolie

Fazoolie: noun, meaning ‘a person who looks or acts slightly crazy’. Used in sentences such as: “omg look at your hair, you look like a fazoolie!” or “I was going insane, I was acting like such a fazoolie”.

Erin, though my best friend, can act and look like a fazoolie. I, too, have been known to have fazoolie moments. It just happens! The night Erin flew in to LAX, the fun began. I had to work late and asked Scotty to pick her up at the airport (thank goodness he was there because trying to explain the LA bus system to anyone from outside LA would be a nightmare).

Scotty invited a bunch of friends over for a fish taco BBQ as a “Welcome to America” party for Erin! We ate, drank and made our way out to the Hermosa Pier where we stayed out and danced until the wee hours of the morning. The next day, I had to work back in Pasadena and Erin was on her own in the great land of opportunity. She took advantage of her freedom and….laid by my mini pool all day. I would have done the same.

Woo!

Once we were both rested up we were ready for our next adventure. That adventure would be none other than driving to Vegas and back in less than 48 hours! Go big or go home!

We played. We lost. We had fun and spent the next day at the pool.

Ready for a Monday night in Vegas!

Code Red was my favourite slot machine but then it took my money

Erin on the other hand did quite well!

Vegas!

After making it home alive and realizing we have no more money to spend on special activities we decided to drive back to the beach on my next day off. Erin wanted to see all the famous beaches like Venice and Santa Monica so my brilliant idea was to bike over there from Scotty’s! It sounded like a great idea until we got to our destination 3 hours later. Little did we know Hermosa Pier to Santa Monica Pier was about a 15 mile bike ride each way. We stopped in Venice for fish tacos to refuel and then made our way to Santa Monica Pier. Fun experience overall.

Only a few miles in. Still smiling

So far so good

We made it!..now we have to bike back before the sun sets.

Ah such a great trip! Until next year miss Wallace :)

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Better late than never

2 months later I will finally post about the rest of my trip back home to Canada land!

After leaving l’Assomption, I hitched a ride with a stranger (true story, but Erin was there with me and she knew him ha!) to the Nation’s Capital! Erin and I thought we had a good 2 full days to spend together. Wrong. It appears I got my dates wrong and my dad was scheduled to pick me up 17 hours after my arrival in Ottawa to transport me to Picton, ON.

Reunited!

Our time together was brief bit pleasant. The good news was that Erin was visiting me in LA a month later. Phew! We made dinner and caught up on all the latest gossip in our lives then went to bed. That night, Marley the devil cat, proceeded to lose his mind. I woke up with a few scratches and bags under my eyes. Erin left for work and my dad showed up!

After eating at our favourite Canadian Mexican restaurante Ahora, we walked around good ol’ downtown Ottawa. Dad took pictures, I bought maple candy for gifts. I ate half.

So much maple sugar!!!!!

What are we at now? Day 7? Anyway, I spent a day in Picton with the broski, picked vegetables in the garden and was forced to mow the lawn. Just kidding I actually volunteered!

We packed up the van, put Cole far enough in the back so he couldn’t reach me and hit the road. Destination: Toronto airport to pick up brother #2 (I should call them Thing 1 and Thing 2. Kidding) and then en route to Mars, PA to see gpa and gma!

Nortons don’t stop for food. Only coffee and treats :)

In Toronto traffic

 

The rest of a trip went by so fast. For the 3rd year in a row Grandpa and Grandma Norton have the 4 of us, gma’s sister Terry, her 2 kids Cathy and Willie and Cathy’s family Jordan and Izzy over for a week. Let’s just say there is never a boring moment during this time!

Gma is getting ready to ride the rollercoaster

There she goes!

One thing we did a lot of that week was eat. It’s so hard to stopppp! But when it was time to leave, we have a family tradition that involves everyone to get out a white kleenex and wave good bye to the person in the car. That’s always the saddest moment! The good news is the Nortons will all be flying in to LAX in December :)

Aurevoir!

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Poutine!

10 months after fixing up Goonie the Green Honda Civic and hittin’ the road for the West Coast, I am back in my home land. Even though 10 days on the East Coast seems like a decent amount of time to visit friends and family, it isn’t when you have to visit no one, but 5 cities!

Day 1-2: Mont-Tremblant. Jodi picked me up at the airport and after an emotional hello, we drove up to le Lac Mont-Tremblant. We bought some snacks and a bottle of wine and sailed off on True Colours, her recently restored sailboat. However, with no wind on the lake, we didn’t do much sailing. Instead, we used her 1960’s Mercury Boat Motor to get us 12 km in to the middle of the lake. It was a perfect day of sun bathing, swimming and chatting. With 2.5 hours of sleep and a 3-hour time difference; my 4 naps on the boat were justified.

Going boating on Lac Tremblant!

The next day was just as exciting. We woke up and had a typical Quebec breakfast of french toast and REAL maple syrup and Tim Hortons coffee. The we went on a little hike up Gray Rocks, an old ski mountain that is no longer open to the public. Once we burned a few calories, we hopped in Rosie the 1970 red Jeep Wrangler and drove to St-Jovite for a real quebec Poutine. I was in heaven.

Key ingredients for a Canadian breakfast: maple syrup and Tim Hortons coffee

 

At last the moment I've been waiting for...REAL poutine while sitting in Rosie the Jeep :)

Day 2-3: Met up with my mom in Val-David where she was staying with friends and we drove to downtown Montreal for the 7:30pm broadway show of the Lion King. Ummmm…AMAZING! With a real orchestra below the stage and incredible costumes, the musical was perfect for any age. They’re in Montreal until September 4th if anyone wants to see it!

Today, day 3, I drove to St-Urbain to see Candee and her new home. She is going to be very happy there. I saddled her up and took her out in the field for one last ride. Well, they told me I could come see here whenever I was in town :)

She is a very happy girl over there

Day 4: The fun never ends when you’re in Quebec! I’m having 6-7 of my closest friends over for mimosas and food. Mom cooked up storm today and we got some cute mini cupcakes from downtown l’Assomption for dessert.

Our colourful assortment of desserts

Next time on the adventures of Not Too Shabby Gabby – Back in Canada…birthdays, besties and Ottawa!

 

Categories: The little things in life | 1 Comment

They See Me Rollin’

Guess what’s back and cooler than ever? Rollerblades! That’s right. I brought them here to Cali all the way from Montreal and have convinced a few other friends to join me as I roll around the Rosebowl and on the beach boardwalk. Umm hello coolness! I still believe it’s the best workout I’ve ever done. It’s so much better on your joints and it works those saddlebags (ladies, no one finds those attractive let’s be honest)!

A workout by the ocean, can't complain

What else have I been up to?

  • Working
  • Trying to reach some goals
  • Trying new types of workouts
  • Planning my trip back home in August!!
  • Looking to buy a bike
  • Still searching for furniture for my room
  • Dating…yes occasionally, it’s harder than you think in LA!
  • Getting back into riding
  • Trying to write more blog posts
  • Keeping up with all my friends and family members on the east coast
  • Planning on surfing
  • Going to the beach when I can
  • Working on my tan
The list goes on….it must be on my scrap of paper somewhere.
Categories: The little things in life | Leave a comment

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