Flying to California: Again

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Last week I share with you our last trip to California for business, well we did it again.  So, I figured I would share with you are vegan travels once again this trip.  We did do a lot of the same things in our off time but there were a few new adventures and vegan foods.  Hopefully you are enjoying this California vegan travels edition.  On to our most recent California business trip:

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It’s Fall Y’all!

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Colors are popping up over night and one can definitely tell it’s the changing of the seasons right before our eyes.  Leaves are changing to a multitude of oranges, reds and yellow hues and late autumn harvest produce is filling the farmers’ markets in Michigan.  When this occurs, consumers fall into stores, restaurants and so on to indulge in pumpkin and apple flavored items.  This year seems to be more so than others with everything coming out pumpkin spice.  So I figured it was time for some Blog Loving here on Genki Kitty: Pumpkin and Apple Inspired.

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Chocolatea Tea Shop Review

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We’re back!  In Michigan that is and we are out there testing Vegan restaurant options and enjoying the fall foliage.  Autumn is in direct competition with spring here in Michigan, if only it were warmer this time of year.  Thankfully, I found a treasure chest in all places Portage, Michigan.  Portage is an average sized town but in the area, it is the metropolis of all the others.  By this I mean there is a mall and more than a handful of stores.

Inside – the tea options. Sorry for the blurriness, I think my lens was dirty.

Seeing as it was cold, I wanted to have a fresh cup of tea but unfortunately Teavana was not open.  (It’s only available in the mall which does not open until around 10am! Yikes!)  So we followed a tip of a giant green tea cup sitting outside a little cafe in a cozy strip-mall.   (We checked, there’s no tea or coffee inside.)  Thankfully it was an great find that not only served hundreds of loose-leaf teas but also desserts.  It was a true tea house, in Michigan!  Gasp!  I’m still excited about this recent find as you can tell.
Chocolatea is a locally owned, family run “mom and pop’ business.  It serves loose leaf teas that can be enjoyed in-store by the cup or tea pot (first time I’ve ever seen this option available in Michigan).  I’d like to compare the tea-house to teavana seeing as the tea is all natural, loose-leaf and setup for tea lovers at heart.  You can also purchase made hot/cold tea to go and/or purchase tea to take home per 1 oz (which by the way is about 1/3 the price of Teavana).  Their website suggests there are at least 200+ teas available, I didn’t count them so I will take their word on that one. If tea isn’t your thing, they also serve bubble tea and I believe there was also a few coffee selections (but I was so excited about the tea options I forget if they had coffee).

Cuddle time is so much more special with seasonal tea and a cute pup.

Going beyond tea, I did notice there is also Yerba Mate in various flavors.  To add an extra for vegans and chocolate lovers, there are also a few options for locally made vegan chocolates!!!!  Yes, you read that right, vegan artisan chocolates!  There are also sandwiches and such but unfortunately none for vegans.  I’ll ignore that part since the owners are really trying to spread the health benefits and converting Michiganders to drinking tea which I applaud.

Inside, I’m assuming before all the seasonal gifts are setup. Stock photo but now the cafe is much more full of gifts.

As you can see, Chocolatea is like a dream come true and a great grasp into the future for tea and health lovers.  It has options for online purchases too so please check out their website for more information on everything they offer.

Al fresco sitting is available but I’d suggest the warm confines of the cafe as it’s getting cooler outside. Stock photo.

Chocolatea

7642 S Westnedge Ave, Portage, MI 49002 (Inside Portage Plaza)

(269) 903-2447

m-f: 6:30am-9pm; sat: 8am-9pm; Sun: 9am-7pm

Of course, it wouldn’t be a blog entry in Michigan without a sunset photo. It’s been cloudy here lately but there is a slight shimmer of color to enjoy at night.

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Recent Vegan Eats with Recipes

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Heirloom Pear Tomatoes

Genki husband and I have been flying back and forth between California these last two months so it has been difficult to get in all the recipes I have used since we have had quite the repetitive menu as of late.  Thankfully we have taken into account the seasonal produce and have delighted in eating homemade meals with the addition of pumpkin, squash, kale, and apples.  What could go wrong with these produce items?  Below are a few things we enjoyed along with the links to the recipes so you can make it at home too.  Enjoy!

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Flight out of California: Vegan Travels

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Finally our last day was brought on by some moisture our on car rental window.  We drove around to a few different areas and just enjoyed the sunshine for the last few hours.

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Hotel Review

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So you’ve seen the food, the beach and a few other local photos, now I figured you might want to see the hotel we stayed in right in Redondo Beach, California.  The hotel was chosen by our travel agent so we weren’t sure what we were getting into but we figured we were in good hands when it comes to an agent.  I have to admit, I’m a control freak when it comes to setting up arrangements for hotels and travel but this time around so I worked on my trust issues this time around.

Our hotel for the extended stay was: Residence Inn Redondo Beach.  It was a nice hotel and if we were staying for a week or longer it would have been perfect.  It had a kitchen complete with a dishwasher, full fridge, microwave, desk, larger than life flat screen TV, complimentary breakfast and so on.  On one of the nights they even had a social complete with drinks and appetizers but unfortunately our itinerary was completely full so we didn’t get to experience it.  Again, it was a really gorgeous hotel that really catered to the guests and the staff were all very professional and helpful with anything we asked.  In fact, they even have a free shuttle bus to the Hermosa Beach!

Outside there was a basketball court, pool, spa, firepit that was lite at night everynight, and grills for guests to use. Seriously I was thinking about just forgetting the flight and just staying here. If only our furry babies were here, we would not have left. (Sorry, we forgot to take a photo of the front – we will remember this next time around.)

This is the kitchen section of the hotel room. To the left is the front door, to the right where I was standing is the living area (photo below).  The cabinets were full of a dishes, cutlery, pots, pans and everything else one would expect from an extended stay hotel (including wine glasses).  Note the photo is from Manhattan Beach. There were a few people taking the same photo while we were there – we just had to laugh because we knew they also saw this photo someplace else.

Inside our hotel room, this was the ‘living area’ with a sofa complete with too many plush pillows, a side table, a desk with chair, and some gorgeous photos of the local area. It really did feel like an apartment.

Looking from the living area is the dresser to the right under the larger TV. To the left of the bedroom area is the bathroom. In our room there was a king size bed (California King, I’m not sure), an alarm clock, two lights and a large picture window.  Note:  It was very sunny outside so I had to close the windows but there are two different shades, one for light to beam in or the full enclosure type.

The complimentary gym to all residence. This is the image as you walk in the only door. There are mirrors on one side, large windows looking out towards the firepit & pool area, and finally two other blank walls. The wall to the left had towels to clean off the machines and maybe wipe that sweaty brow. There was also cups and water available just in case you really work it out hard – which is what I did.

This is the view from the doorway to the right. Thankfully no one was in the gym so I could take photos for all of you. They really did have a lot of options available, no matter what you wanted to work out. Thankfully everything was very clean and each machine had a remote – so no fighting necessary.

A closer look at the treadmills with the TV’s. Each one had a remote. Unfortunately everyone needs to bring headphones which I can understand but I was felling lazy to go the entire distance across the hotel just to get headphones to sweat it out. I just used Closed Captioning instead.

The pool and spa area. This was a gorgeous area, even with the power lines in view. It gave off a very California view – for normal people not the Hollywood lifestyle. If you look closer you can notice the handicap lift for the spa and the pool. I believe there is also wi-fi available outside since I saw a business man working the entire morning outside under an umbrella.

The pool area is already setup with towels on each seat. One can only do that in California where it almost never rains.

Driving the streets in California. Previously I had no idea there were so many trees in California. This was not next to the ocean so I thought it would be more dry. We did notice it did get hotter as you drove away from the gentle ocean breezes.

Good Year Blimp just sitting next to the road in a large parking lot. No idea why but it was there in all its glory. It was a full sized blimp.

Roadside Attraction on one of the highways, I think it was for a speedway.

 

 

Beach Scenes: Vegan in California

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So now that you saw most of the items  we ate while on our last trip to California I thought I might show you another passion of mine- the beach scenes.  Well, okay, I guess I can toss in a few other photos of the area but generally when driving we were paying attention to our iPhone’s for directions to the surrounding areas instead of taking photos.  We did manage to get to the beach each day while in California, why else would one want to go there right?  Kidding, there are a lot of things to do in California but the beach is one of the main attractions for us since we are nature lovers.  Whose with me on this one?

Redondo Beach, California, USA. We actually found this sign to the beach when we went to Happy Veggie but couldn’t find the main entrance that night. There’s supposed to be a nice shopping area nearby but we weren’t able to find it in our short amount of time there. If anyone knows what to do around this area let me know since we are going again.

The pier – we parked under here since it was the only place we could find available. There was a good amount of parking and it only cost about $0.50/hour. Note: Have lots of coins available when traveling around since most parking meters will not give exact change. We placed $1.00 and didn’t know this until it said so after we put the money inside the meter. Then we only got 1 hour instead of the paid 2 hours. Strange…

When you walk out of the parking garage you are facing a few fish restaurants (the smell is very strong so if you are pregnant or sensitive, I imagine this would not be the place to park). After the restaurants you go to the harbor where all of these gorgeous boats are just sitting around waiting to be used. We were rather early so there were no people but I can imagine on a holiday weekend this would be a jam-packed place.

After the main harbor, you walk along the pier and see other sides of the island. You can see this from the pier, it was very calm though since we were early in the morning before our flight out.

The pier is a good length but for some reason I only have photos of the ocean next to it instead of the actual pier. oops! But at least you get to see the gorgeous Pacific Ocean next to the American shoreline.

A view from part of the pier near the sandy beach in the morning sunlight. Minutes after this photo the sunshine went dark with fog- happens every morning here. It’s very interesting since we normally have fog when we awake and it then becomes sunny on the East Coast.

There were sea animal images all along the pier…

Hermosa Beach for a sunset picnic dinner.

Manhattan Beach for another sunset dinner. This was a bit more expensive to park in the parking ramps and was much more busy. I’d say since this is the closest to downtown LA compared to the others, it had the most tourists. We actually weren’t very impressed with this beach but would rather go to the other two since they were less busy.

Flowers we found outside a shop on the Redondo Beach Pier.

Succulents near the pier too. These were gorgeous sitting outside since on the Northeastern coast these must stay inside.

Traveling the streets in California on an early Autumn morning – this is just outside the parking ramp at Redondo Beach Pier.

 

Veggie Grill Restaurant Review: California

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Going on today with another California Vegan Restaurant is the VeggieGrill in two different locations.  This is a vegan chain restaurant that I could only wish was in other places around where we live.  Everything is fresh and made to order and did I mention 100% vegan!  When I heard we were going to California again, I knew this was the restaurant on the “must do” list.  Actually I was dreaming out it the entire time.  A week before I already had my order ready and waiting.  Genki Husband thought I was joking… ha-ha, nope!

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Happy Veggie Restaurant Review: California

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So now you know all about our trip to California, the flight.  Now it’s time to get down to business and talk about the food.  It was a short trip to California so we had very little time to drive all around but we did get to a few different places.  Our breakfast was mainly just at the hotel since we had free continental breakfast but our other meals were while we were out and about on the California streets.  First up on our vegan travels- Happy Veggie! (Note:  They also have a main website but I couldn’t get it to work.

Our first night in California we decided this was going to be the best option for vegan food since it was the closest to our hotel. It is also right next to Redondo Beach, which for some reason we ended up going to Hermosa Beach instead that night – no idea why… But this was a nice little find, cuddled away in a tiny strip mall. The staff were ever so nice to us even though we weren’t sure what to purchase since we wanted one of everything but our budget or stomachs could never handle that… There was a nice breeze coming in and the painting were all very cheery and comforting. There were also a few tables to come and enjoy inside if the temperatures got too much to handle outside.

Happy Veggie: It’s mostly Asian cuisine which reminds me of Loving Hut in Oahu Hawaii. They accept credit cards & cash. The parking outside is free.

Happy Veggie Vegan : Refreshing Spring Rolls. These were fresh and tasty but I’m not sure we would pay the $5 to get these again if we were already buying entrees. Tasty but nothing that special. Tip: Save your money on the delicious entrees!

Happy Veggie Salad: Heavenly Salad. This reminded me so much of the delicious salad we used to buy in Oahu, Hawaii at Loving Hut. So delicious! I could literally eat this every day and be happy. Mmm It contains: tasty soy chicken mixed with a medley of purple and white cabbages, carrot, tofu. The sauce is almost like a peanut sauce. This was a large so it’s is around $8 USD.  (Note: those aren’t my hairy legs… Genki Husband’s… lol)

Happy Veggie: Lemon Grass Chicken. Again, this must be the same recipe as Loving Hut in Oahu, Hawaii. Sooooo delicious! It is not a very strong flavored stir-fry but it has a nice blend of all the flavors that just makes your mouth sing. The only downside is you sometimes get a few pieces of hard lemongrass that looks like hard grass. But, it’s worth it. Yep, that’s white rice since the brown rice costs extra. We figured we bought so much food already we would save a bit on the rice. haha

This is where we ate dinner the first night- right on the beach. It was so gorgeous! Not too many people at this time of night while the sun was going down – ironically more came out at night as we were leaving.

Of course we had to have dinner with a native Californian. We laughed because we knew if we went towards the water he would sneak into our food bag – that’s exactly what he did too. So funny! This must be common though seeing the gigantic size of them compared to Michigan.

Genki Husband at Hermosa Beach, California as the sun was going down.

Happy Veggie: Vegetarian Restaurant (100% Vegan)
709 N Pacific Coast HWY, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Corner of Catalina & Pacific HWY, in Albertsons Shopping Center)
E-mail: HappyVeggie@Live.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-3pm/5pm-9pm; Sat 11am-9pm; closed sundays
Telephone: 310-379-5035

Flying to California: Vegan Travels

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Finally I’m getting to the photos from our most recent business trip to California.  Genki Husband and I have both been to California but never to the specific location we were spent our time in, Los Angeles- the southern suburbs.  I wasn’t sure just how to post all the photos (well, a reduced amount from the 400 or so we took) but figured to start in the beginner.  Yeah, I thought that was logical too. ha-ha  So today’s post will be all about the flight over – including food of course.

Since we were leaving very early in the morning, we had to make a stop at the rest stop along the highway to get some coffee. It’s always nice to have something to stay awake on the road.

The day before leaving I prepared these gorgeous chocolate chip muffins to have ready for our car portion of the trip. It’s such a simple recipe and more more nutritionally dense than the stuff you purchase in the stores.  I’ll post the recipe later.

Since we don’t live in the north anymore we have gotten rid of our ipass (highway toll electronic paying device). When you get $ in return from the tolls, you get these $1 coins. So many of them right before going through airport security – nice. ha-ha

Since we are located in Michigan and have to fly out of Illinois, we had to leave very early to assure we got to the airport before our flight. It requires us to go through Chicago Rush-hour (which we are used to since we used to live there) but it’s very unpredictable so extra time is always necessary. This trip we had no issues so we stopped by Mitsuwa Japanese market and picked up the first batch of Vegan Sushi to hit the shelf. So delicious!

Trader Joe’s has premade wraps available such as this one that is vegan. It’s strange though the only wrap available is hummus seeing as TJ’s sells vegan meatless options but not in ready meals. Just saying TJ’s, you’re missing a good market opportunity. Genki Husband and I shared this with some pre-cut vegetables we brought from the house. It was okay but rather dry. We’d probably buy this again but if it were the only option around.

We also picked up a few general things such as pasta from Trader Joe’s (minus the PB pretzels since they aren’t selling them right now- gasp!!!!). For a seasonal item we found this tea – it is delicious! We placed it in our car since the temperatures weren’t going to be too bad while we were gone. I’d highly suggest this if you like cinnamon.

LAX- this is what you can see when you are flying in on an airplane and also what you first see when you exit the arrivals terminal. The fresh air, the blue skies, the smell of ocean water and the warm temperatures. After getting our arranged car rental, we seriously had to take off layers of clothes to adapt to the temperature variation between the coasts.  What the surveillance cameras must see everyday when we are around… LOL

Once we were in our airport, we changed quite fast into cooler clothes. It was about a 40 degree jump from Michigan to California temperatures. I love bright and cheery colors in the summertime. Considering it was the last day of summer, I planned ahead. Please ignore the towels on the ground, we took showers after arriving from our flight. BTW, does anyone know the trick to not get shorts to buckle up like that one shorter people?  I’d love to know!

Finally after getting into our hotel, taking showers, changing clothes we managed to get our vegan dinner out and take it to the Hermosa Beach -so gorgeous! It’s no wonder my 8yr old niece thinks I’m going to live on the beach – who wouldn’t want to with the peace it brings.

California Question:  What’s your favorite place to eat?  Place near LA?

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