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Way Back When…

Frames From The Weekend 9/26/2014 – 9/28/2014

This is going to sound really moronic but I had no idea that October was starting this week. WHAT?!? I’m usually well aware of every upcoming start to a new month but it must’ve slipped my mind this time.

FFTW fall2

(Link up to ‘Frames From The Weekend’! Read the official “rules” here.)

This past weekend sadly didn’t feel fall-like at all. The temps hovered around 80 degrees here in NYC and forced me to keep the boots and scarves hidden in the closet.



{My weekend started on Friday night with a belated birthday dinner for a close friend at Canyon Rd. We feasted on Mexican food and enjoyed margaritas, wine, chips + salsa, and sombreros. After a few post-dinner rounds of flip-cup and beer pong (I despise these games but the birthday girl insisted), we ended our night at Sessions 73. Needless to say, I struggled to get out of bed the following morning and opted to stay in all of Saturday. The other weekend highlight was the arrival of most orders I placed last week – new Converse sneakers, three pairs of running shoes (the Saucony Cortanas cost only $100 here…that’s $50 cheaper than normal price!!!), and a package of goodies from iHerb. Sadly, my order from Macy’s was apparently lost despite being “delivered” so now I have to wait for my new blender again. On Sunday after my long run, I rested up and walked over for a quick shopping adventure at Banana Republic. I purchased a cute sweater but am still debating on whether I love it or not…}


{Food! My breakfast obsession continues to be runny eggs over Ezekiel + avocado toast. It’s so filling and delicious, especially with the addition of turkey bacon or some sliced chicken. Snack-wise, I’m in the middle of a serious love affair with toasted seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame. I make them on the stovetop and sprinkle them over everything ranging from yogurt to salads. In other lame news, I’m back to eating seafood again after a two week hiatus after Aruba. I topped a hearty salad with some sautéed shrimp, hardboiled eggs, and avocado for a filling post-run lunch.}

While this week is setting out to be uneventful, next week is something to look forward to – my mom and dad are coming to town for my marathon! Yup, my first marathon is officially less than two weeks away and panic is quickly setting in. At least my parents will be there to support me!

Runners – name the shoes you run in!

What’s your current breakfast of choice?

♥ Irina

Marathon Training (Week 20)

PEAK WEEK! This training week was…indescribable in the best way possible. With a weekday 10-miler and a PDR long run, week 20 was one that I’ve secretly been fearing since starting my marathon journey. It turned out to be the best training week I’ve had all season! I rocked every single run, broke the mental barrier of needing to rest, and actually ran each distance consecutively without stopping. Incredible.

P.S. –  Please donate to my cancer research fundraising here! All proceeds go to charity. Many many thanks!

Previous weeks:
Marathon Training (week 1-3)
Marathon Training (week 4)
Marathon Training (week 5)
Marathon Training (week 6-9)
Marathon Training (week 10)
Marathon Training (week 11)
Marathon Training (week 12)
Marathon Training (week 13)
Marathon Training (week 14)
Marathon Training (week 15)
Marathon Training (week 16)
Marathon Training (week 17)
Marathon Training (week 18)
Marathon Training (week 19)

Shot Bloks

{stocking up on Shot Bloks for the next few weeks}

WEEK 20 (9/15/2014 – 9/21/2014)
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 10 mile run (1:32:19 @ 9:14 min/mi)
Wednesday60 min Cross-training Rest
Thursday: 55 min tempo (6.21 miles @ 8:52 min/mi)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 20 mile run (3:13:02 @ 9:39 min/mi)
Sunday55 min bike Rest
TOTAL = 36.21 miles

Thoughts: So many thoughts and feelings. First of all, I’m officially tapering now! As mentioned earlier, this was a phenomenal training week for me. I can finally see that all my hard work, dedication, and efforts were worth it. It’s been a tough summer for running, one filled with self-doubt and disappointment. The reality is that I’m slower and heavier (marathon hunger is no joke), both of which have been difficult to accept. But week 20 helped me realize that running is now an integral part of my life and it’s a reflection of the ebb and flow of my days. I’m simply grateful to have the ability to run, let alone such long distances. Tuesday’s 10-miler was probably my favorite run…ever. I wanted to stop within the first few miles but pushed through and ran nonstop. It was windy, chilly, and pouring rain the entire time but I felt powerful and badass upon finishing before the workday even began. It was a true testament of my running ability. The 55 minute tempo was also the longest tempo on the schedule, and I completely rocked it with a speedy pace and no rest breaks. With two out of three runs completed way above expectations, I wanted to rock the 20-miler as well. And rock it I did! With the exception of a quick stop to refill my water bottle, I ran the entire time! It was challenging but invigorating, and the last three miles really tested my ability to break all mental barriers.

Another highlight of this week was a breakthrough with my running “injury” of the left arch. I discovered that the pain in my left foot stems from my ankle! Some of you may roll your eyes but this discovery was a really big deal for me. I started giving both the inside of my left ankle (right above that knobby bone) and the arch of the foot a deep tissue-style massage and it’s made a huge, HUGE difference in pain and recovery. I seriously can’t believe it’s taken me this long to uncover this. While the pain is still felt during long runs, it now feels more like a minor ache that tends to lessen with each mile. I can’t even express how excited I am about this!

The only other concern I have is my pre-run fueling strategy. These past few months I haven’t been eating anything before any of my runs, long runs included. With the exception of half of a banana before my 20-miler, I’ve been running on empty. It’s worked fine but I don’t want to take this approach before a marathon…so now I don’t know what to do!

Now that I’m approaching the end of this marathon journey, I realize that I’ll be finishing with a passion for the sport. Training burnout is no joke but I’m far from needing a break. In other words, running and I are still in love! Regardless of whatever happens on October 11th, I know I’ll walk (or waddle) away with all intents to continue the habit as soon as I physically heal.

♥ Irina

Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Fall is upon us at last, welcome to the first day of the season! I’m a total blogging cliche when it comes to the inevitable pumpkin obsession. In all fairness, I grew up with pumpkin and squash being a staple in fall cooking in my mom’s Russian kitchen, so my love for canned pumpkin was a natural transition.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

This pie came to be about two years ago when I was in search of the perfect “healthy” pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving. I based it off this recipe, made some obscure combinations, and fell in love with the result. Nowadays, I whip up this pie whenever the craving strikes, even if it’s in the dead heat of summer!

Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
Makes one 9″ pie (8 slices)

- ½ cup almond milk
– 4 ounces baking chocolate (100% cacao, unsweetened)
– 1.5 Tbs. ground flax or chia seed *
– ½ can (1 cup) pumpkin puree
– ¼ cup maple syrup **
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 2 Tbs. brown rice flour or almond meal
– pinch of salt
– 2 tsp. cinnamon ***
– ½ tsp. ginger ***
– ½ nutmeg ***
– one 9″ pie crust (store-bought or homemade)

* Alternative: use whole, unground chia seeds
** Alternative: use 2 Tbs. each of maple syrup and molasses for a bolder flavor
*** All spices are optional and should be left out if you’re interested in only a rich chocolate pie

Pre-heat oven to 350°F and in the meantime combine almond milk and chocolate in a large bowl and heat in the microwave until the chocolate is completely melted

chocolate vegan pumpkin pie

2.) Stir in flax or chia seed, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract, flour, salt, and spices (if adding) and combine well

3.) Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake for at least 1 hour or until the pie completely firms in the oven (it’s taken me upwards of 1.5 hours in the past)

chocolate vegan pumpkin pie

4.) After the pie firms and the top of it darkens, remove from heat and allow the pie to cool completely at room temperature – this step is critical and will ensure that the pie completely solidifies inside as well

chocolate vegan pumpkin pie

5.) Enjoy with some vegan coconut whipped cream or your favorite ice cream!

chocolate vegan pumpkin pie

Refrigerate the pie for up to one week or freeze individual slices and enjoy straight out of the freezer (so so delicious). Note that the above picture pie is made with chia seeds in place of flax seeds.

chocolate vegan pumpkin pie

This pie is everything you ever wanted in a dessert – silky smooth, creamy, decadent, and sweet all while secretly being healthy for you!

♥ Irina

Frames From The Weekend 9/19/2014 – 9/21/2014

It’s officially the last day of summer and I confess I’m a bit sad about it. As much as I adore fall, I can’t quite grasp the fact that summer flew by so quickly. I’m not good with change…at least in the first few days of it.

FFTW Summer

(Link up to ‘Frames From The Weekend’! Read the official “rules” here.)

I unintentionally ended up being a complete homebody this weekend and barely left my apartment. I seem to be on the verge of having a full-blown cold/flu and every morning greets me with a sore throat and headache that recedes as the day goes on. Help!


{You guys, this dessert!!! I was craving some chocolate all day Friday and decided to stop by Maison Kayser to pick up a chocolate tart. Oh mah gawd I can’t even put into words how delicious this dessert was. It was easily one of the best chocolate desserts I’ve ever had in my life, and that’s a bold statement! The chocolate filling was extraordinarily creamy while the bitter chocolate truffle served as a perfect compliment to the luxuriously silky filling. Just describing this godly little tart makes me want to run over and buy another one. The other desserts I ate this weekend pale in comparison but they’re still worth mentioning – yogurt + chocolate chia seed pudding and a homemade superfood chocolate truffle (filled with maca powder, chia seeds, dried cherries, goji berries, hemp seeds, and coconut flakes).}


{Fridays are now officially my chore days. I actually woke up early to clean my entire apartment and do two loads of laundry before work! I even forced myself to visit Whole Foods after work to pick up much-needed groceries. That’s right, I officially despise grocery shopping now all thanks to NYC. I mean, who wants to lug heavy bags around the crowded subways and streets of Manhattan? It’s become such a chore which is sad because I used to adore grocery shopping. I also stopped by a running store to pick up Shot Bloks and accidentally bought the Citrus flavor instead of Margarita #firstworldproblems. In case you’re wondering – I cut my Shot Bloks in half as part of my fueling strategy. Two randoms – I spotted a Stikman on a crosswalk (I’ve seen them in Chicago as well) and I hung the evil eye I purchased in Aruba right by my door.}


{I struggled to wake up at 6AM on Saturday morning but still managed to drag myself out of bed, chug a cup of coffee with half of a banana, and set out on my longest run ever. 20 miles and over 3 hours later, I officially kicked ass on my training run, all before noon! The rest of the morning involved stretching and foam rolling (yes, those are indentations from my foot roller) and eating delicious recovery foods including a sweet potato skillet with eggs and chicken, yogurt with chocolate chia pudding, and plenty of fruits. Normally, I’m pretty good at having a social life at least once every weekend, usually on Saturday nights, but this was not the case this past weekend. My entire body protested all attempts to get off the couch. I’m not sure if it was the 20-miler and/or an internal fight against a seasonal cold, but I ultimately declined all socializing without regrets.}


{Despite staying in the night prior, I still woke up on Sunday feeling lousy – my throat hurt and my head felt completely congested. Even with my best attempts to go back to sleep, hunger (RUNger) forced me out of bed and straight into the kitchen way too early in the morning. This set the tone for the rest of Sunday – I basically felt weak and starving all day! I still managed to take a long walk outside and “accidentally” stopped by GNC (Quest Bars!) and T.J. Maxx, where I snagged a cute jacket, delicious tea, a loaf pan, and new cups (I broke two of mine). My productivity (or lack of) ended with the successful cleaning of my running drawer. I need more space!}

The start of fall is always a bittersweet time in my life. It’s when I feel most nostalgic about school and just about everything else. I start having deep thoughts on life and get more sensitive to my decisions on the future. This year is no exception. Regardless, I’m more than ready for whatever this new season will bring!

What’s the best dessert you’ve ever had?

Who else feels more sensitive and pensive in the fall?

♥ Irina