Favorite eco-friendly meal subscription service in NY/SF?


Photo:  via Purple Carrot


There are plenty of sites comparing the major players such as Blue Apron and Plated, but not many focusing on the eco-friendly (e.g., sustainably/responsibly sourced, organic, great selection of plant-based meals, healthy, eco-friendly packaging, delicious, interesting) aspect. After reading about the cost-effectiveness of meal subscription services for busy foodies, I would like to try a basic plan for my partner and myself! The appeal of trying new recipes, curated by chefs/nutritionists is also a plus. I’m looking at:

Green Chef

Purple Carrot


Sprig (SF)

Terra’s Kitchen


  • What is your favorite eco-friendly meal subscription service in New York City and/or San Francisco bay area?
  • If you only tried one: Which one was it? Was it worth it? Did you like it and would you subscribe again?


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Trail running groups, New York City

NYC running friends and visitors,

Tired of running on pavement? Here are two groups  I tried, while visiting away from my beloved home trail team and northern CA trails.

1)  Blockhouse run club

at the New York Running Company

They run on Bridle trails and in off the beaten paths in the north woods, (and sometimes do a fun scramble up rock faces), in Central Park. I ran with them last Sat. for the first time. The organizers are nice, funny, knowledgable, experienced runners. After the run, in the NYRC store, runners have access to the foam rollers in the store to stretch out and we also shared some nice cone-drip coffee. (Bonus: The Time Warner Center, where NYRC is located, happened to have great specials that day like a free back and neck massages, and a free yoga class and food from Equinox-Whole Foods.)

All abilities are welcome. Anyone can drop in. The Jeff Galloway run-walk group is also super nice, welcomes all abilities, and organizes a Sat. morning run. (When I was looking for the BRC group, they invited me to run with them if I could not find the group. (I was 1.5 hours early by mistake.)

Meets at New York Running Co. store, Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle, NYC. Saturdays 9AM and Tuesdays 7AM. Free. More info: Check out the Blockhouse run club, web page.

Watch video: Taste of Central Park trails


2)  Raw Trail group

Want to leave NYC and hit the trails?

Raw Trail organizes “hiking and trail running groups from NYC,” often with ride shares. The leader Denis is an experienced, knowledgable trail runner with top trail race finishes. (The group welcomes hikers and trail runners, which is perfect for slower folks like me coming back to running from injury.)

Summary:  I have met some nice people in these groups. Unlike the enormous road running groups in NYC (and in other places like CA), one can still get to know other trail runners of various abilities because the trail running community (compared to the road) is smaller, and it is still considered a fringe sport. These organizers are providing a true, healthy community service.  I’m always grateful on my travels to discover others who share one’s love of nature, camaraderie, trails, and physical challenges.

Happy trails!


Photo credit: Via Block House Run Group 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Modern German-designed radiator humidifier



  • Low tech
  • No electricity needed
  • Good for small spaces
  • Fits perfectly and unobtrusively on top of narrow radiator
  • Stainless steel
  • Clean design


I just received it in the mail, in time for the chronic sore throat. It will replace the classy pot of hot water on the modern table, by the blasting NYC radiator. I unboxed it to the tune of 2001: Space Odyssey. (Fun while ill…)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Are they worth it?

I generally prefer to be in the great outdoors in northern CA and don’t like working out in gyms. However, I found myself trying out gyms in NYC because I visit often for work. I wanted to keep up my training in the dark winter months and rehab from an injury, with good, qualified trainers at the gym. I also wanted work on upper body and core strength training, to balance out my running and hiking, and join group fitness classes.

Many said gym membership is expensive, but I found myself spending more on a la carte group fitness classes (like yoga) per month vs monthly gym membership (unlimited classes + facilities). Plus, at the time of my sign up there was a special, offering to refund initiation fee. The key is to ask the club for any sign up specials, and your company/professional organization if they offer any gym discounts.

Here are the top three I tried that were close to where I stayed/my activities:
Equinox, NYHRC, The Clay

I did end up joining EQ (single club membership at PH) due to my personal preferences for:  a good range of HQ fitness classes, nice design (warm lighting, very clean, spacious, low key but energetic music, low key members, plants, quiet yoga space during shavasana, etc.), well-maintained facilities, professional staff , trainers and class instructors, no wait time for machines, eucalyptus steam room to clear my breathing passages, discount offer, and proximity to Hudson River park greenway, where I run-walk, etc. If you are on a budget and plan to use only one club, single club (vs all-access) membership is the way to go.

Less expensive options

If I didn’t need the facilities and equipment and only wanted to sign up for group fitness classes with a great number of choices, good for any of my US and worldwide travels (incl. Canada, Australia, etc), I would have signed up with Classpass. (Again email them inquiring about special offers before signing up at full price — they offered me a special right away just for inquiring.) If I just wanted no-frills gym equipment and no group fitness classes, I would sign up with Blink.

Month-to-month membership

This is not advertised, but check with the membership advisor of the gym if this is possible. Sometimes, especially if one is nice and professional about it, the staff will work with you on this. In my case, I visit NYC regularly for work and explained this to them. Due to my special case, I will be able to cancel my year “single club” membership contract without penalty, due to “relocation.” Of course, I will have to show proof of relocation and fulfill all the requirements to do so. Before signing any contract, be absolutely clear about the terms and conditions, especially cancellation and hold policies and fees. Ask questions, if you are unclear.  (Had I signed up with the Clay or NYHRC, the respective staff at these clubs were willing to offer me the same cancellation process.)


To try any Equinox in the US, click on this referral link to get an invitation (free pass).


For questions on Equinox NYC, click on the referral link above or contact a membership advisor at (212) 243-7600, to try the gyms for free and sign up for membership. (Please tell the staff that RC Brillantes referred you. Disclosure: I do not work for the club, but I would receive a new member reward for a referral.)  Advisors based at the Printing House location can help you sign up for any location. The Highline location is described on the website as “green location designed by esteemed architecture firm Clodagh references the nearby art galleries and Meatpacking District. Environmentally sound details like power-saving lights, recycled glass and weathered steel breathe life into this historic corner of NYC.” Photos

I like that the philosophy is not only to train to be healthy, but also have a healthy environment to work out. It makes perfect sense as a regular feature of every gym. For me, if I don’t feel great working out in my gym, what’s the point?

For NYHRC (NY only), contact super nice, fellow runner-advisor Lenora at lhendley [at] nyhrc.com, visit website or call 212-220-0640 to get a free pass and sign up. NYHRC  has great saltwater pools (the only ones I found accessible in NYC) and recently remodeled most of their facilities. Recommended for swimmers.


In my experience, trying out four major chains in NYC, you get what you pay for. I did a fair amount of research in the past month (on the gym websites, Time Out, gym costs comparison, asking friends about personal experiences, etc.) because I do workout 4-6x/week, a significant time investment. I also take my health seriously, enjoy-train for amateur trail races in my free time, am recovering from injury, and thus want to work with qualified trainers who can guide me on safely on: building strength, flexibility, endurance, and injury prevention.




Filed under Uncategorized

Fermented beverage alternatives

I have been looking for organic wine and beer alternatives (for health reasons) to take to parties, other than sparkling cider. My friend Kira recently suggested kombucha, which I hadn’t drank in a while, and was amazed to find so many new varieties of kombucha in stores.


Has anyone tried the options above?  I would like to try these. I found these while researching on DIY kombucha — which J and I made in Austin and are trying to do again. We first started making kombucha from a SCOBY, from my anthropology professor, Dr. Stross. We tossed it into the compost pile when we moved to Siquijor island in 2004. (FYI, kombucha fans: in the SF E. bay now on sale at Whole Foods by case and by bottle. I bought some to drink and also to use as starter.)  Enjoy.

Photo credit: Home brew via the Kombucha Shop

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The logical conclusion to the love story

started in Drawing Restraint 9? (AKA Paying respects to woman-artist’s [continuing] journey)

Photo credit: Costume from the 2008 video for “Wanderlust” via NY Times. (This Shaman woman costume is one of my faves.) Now on display in her retrospective exhibit at MOMA, NY.


No restraint

It’s interesting to me when artists decide to document a love story, involving their partners. A couple of years ago friends Adele, Karl, Nicole and partner, and Wofford came over to watch the documentary No Restraint  (link to trailer) by director Alison Chernick, with John and me. It’s a compelling behind-the-scenes look at the making of the performance artist Matthew Barney’s (Björk’s partner of many years and father of her child) film “Drawing Restraint 9,” mainly filmed on a Japanese fishing vessel with an actual Japanese fishing crew, who seemed baffled, as part of the cast. (Photographer friend Norma watched in absentia.) There’s some narrative involving creativity(?), Japanese rituals and a giant petroleum jelly mold. The story is more eloquently described by SF MOMA. The parallel story line in the DR9 is a love story:

“Below deck, the two main characters participate as guests in a tea ceremony, where they are formally engaged after arriving on the ship as strangers. As the film progresses, the guests [played by Björk and Barney]  go through an emotional and physical transformation slowly transfiguring from land mammals into sea mammals, as they fall in love. ”
DR9, Wikipedia

There were definite call outs after the screening about Orientalism and heated, verbal cabbage throwing, not surprising from a group dominated by asian american creative women. For me, I felt that Björk’s performance and music gave his technically flawless film a soul, as other critics have pointed out.  (The few long films I’ve seen of his generally frighten and disgust me, speaking to the most base parts of my humanity. The main feeling I’ve had after seeing his past films and most recent trailer for River of Fundament (trailer): devolution.)


Lion Song

(and initial thoughts on Björk’s new breakup album, from a Björk *fan*)

** Please watch this on the big screen. Thank you.

Last night, John and I  watched the new moving video Lion Song from Bjork’s latest album, Vulnicura. It made me just feel like I wanted to give her a hug, actually anyone sad from a breakup, a hug. I think it was the string section that got me. What I always loved about Björk’s music, no matter how techno-influenced is: the influence of nature in her music and her describing past creative processes of singing in nature.  I’ve always found her music soulful and transcendent, even though she is labeled primarily as a pop musician who uses a lot of processing in her work. I like her music and would have wished to be at her concert (with tissue box) at Carnegie Hall last week to hear her sing live and with a live string orchestra too.

The “Invisible Woman”

Quite a few interesting articles have been written about the new album, but the most interesting one so far:
The Invisible Woman: A conversation with Björk, by Jessica Hopper in Pitchfork

“You’re a coward if you don’t stand up. Not for you, but for women. Say something.”

Surprisingly, of the insightful threads in the article is about her new album, but about Björk working in the music industry as a woman. One example of the chauvinism she reportedly experienced repeatedly:

“I did 80% of the beats on Vespertine and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats—it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn’t do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album…

After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself….”


In her work, I find an artist embodying both traditional and modern female roles. I admire how her work can transcend both with good artistry and humanism. Back to the new album: In one of the most moving songs,  she mourns the death of her family in the song “Family.”

“Is there a place
Where I can pay respects
For the death of my family
Show some respect”




The Invisible Woman: A conversation with Björk, by Jessica Hopper, Pitchfork


Sometimes Heartbreak Takes a Hostage: For Björk, a New Album, ‘Vulnicura,’ and a MoMA Show, by John Pareles, NY Times

Review: Björk at Carnegie Hall, Heartbreak and Pathos, by Nate Chinen, NY Times

Björk sings karaoke cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Unlikely pacer

I was taking a leisurely stroll through the woods minding my own business, when a shirtless man with a white beard wearing a bib that said “pacer,” popped out of nowhere. He looked like the legendary man I had only read about in books. He introduced himself and indeed, it was the father of modern-day ultra-running. How did I get here?


TRT endurance runs 50k and 50 mile start

TRT endurance runs 50k and 50 mile start



After cheering on team mates John and Henri at the start of the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) Endurance Run at 6 AM, I started a solo hike through quiet woods with a plan for a nap and a date with my sandwich among the singing aspen trees and shimmering Marlette Lake. The TRT race is one of the hardest (if not the hardest) area trail race — an ultramarathon mountain race at altitudes of 7000 to 9214 feet, with rocky terrain and lots of climbs.  I had just flown into CA days before, and haven’t had anytime to really chill out since taking care of my dying Mom. No friends were available that weekend, so I started on my last-minute trek to the lake alone. After all the crowds and fanfare, I thought this would be a good place to clear my head.



The crazy period started last fall, when I begged my tough elderly mother to retire from her late night shifts at her urban, private medical practice, and at a mental hospital, respectively. One night she got mugged. Another night her car was stolen from outside of her office. On yet another night she called me while driving home to say that she was being followed. I urged her to drive to the police dept.  Then, the crazy year of 2014 started with a call on New Year’s Eve that she was in the hospital. She was in a car accident — she had hit a police car while having a stroke.

My life has been turned upside down since: her illnesses lead to the discovery of her advanced stage of cancer, taking leave from my work, having a long-distance relationship, my unsuccessful fight to move Mom to a hospice among the trees, the literal loss of my voice, her death soon after diagnosis, and now the great solo task of closing down her business and her home on the opposite coast. The stress has become a part of my daily life. I had stopped running  for over a month (any free time was for a bit of sleep), and just haven’t been running much since starting this insane flying between coasts to take care of my Mom and her business in Feb.

Perhaps the endurance running prepared me for the long, overnight shifts taking care of Mom, who could not rest from her intense pain and awoke every 5-10 mins. though she was on morphine. I took shift turns with my pregnant sister (who flew in with her son from their home in Hawaii). When Mom and I did not sleep the night, I looked forward to her going for her radiation treatments so I could take a nap and she could let go of my hand. The problem was that she never wanted to let go of my hand.

I was in my reverie in the forest for about five minutes, then a shirtless guy wearing a bib that said “pacer,” popped out of nowhere. He looked like the Legend I had only read about in books. He introduced himself and indeed, it was Him. I had no choice but to get off my lazy b___.  The Living Legend insisted on running behind me for a while, so I sucked hard on thin air and nervously complied. Later, I attempted to chase him when he sped up. He stopped occasionally to point out such things as a mountain or a grouse, which allowed me to catch my breath. He regaled me with stories (about counseling addicts,  alcoholism, being a chiropractor, Cowman, horse riding, power to weight ratios, dopamine, his last WS race, etc.) as we ran. His stories reminded me that I was out there battling my family’s addiction. I thought of how that addiction lead to the destruction of my poor mother, formerly a smart and successful person.

My mother was born in the countryside, surrounded by the Cordillera mountains. Her parents, who were part of the Philippine resistance, were on the run from the Japanese military during WWII. She moved to the lowlands as an adult. She generally lead a sedentary lifestyle until her death, despite all her travels, medical missions, and raising her children near the South Mountain Reservation. (However, I imagine an alternate reality in which she became an ultra runner, perhaps trekking the Cordillera Great Traverse.) I tried in her final years to make amends, encourage her to hike, do yoga, eat healthy foods, plan an intervention for her addiction with her friends, but I was too late in her lifetime. Slowly, with time, I will erase the illness from my memory with every footfall and every ascent. Today, I took pictures  on the trail, with my Mom’s camera-phone (which I have been carrying to inform people of her death). The pictures are of some of the places I wanted to take her had she actually lived to retire in CA, and been on the road to recovery.


Marlette Lake


The Legend inspired me to run past Marlette Lake — and beyond. We parted ways on the ascent to Marlette peak (where I walked with an injured runner-racer for a while to make sure she was alright). Before he left, I asked him, what is the lesson to your story? He said simply (something like):

“Keep going.”

Two of the most unlikely trail partners to meet on this earth.

Two of the most unlikely trail partners to meet on this earth.



My plan to hike an easy flat-ish ten miles was foiled. It turned into a ~19 mile trek: from Spooner Lake — Marlette Lake — Marlette campground — Snow Valley Peak* — last aid station (to cheer on John) — Spooner finish to meet and support John, and friends Remi, and Nu.
* This is the peak where I usually suffer from lightheadedness from thin air and altitude sickness.


Marlette Lake with Lake Tahoe in background


On the way to Snow Valley Peak







I couldn’t have dreamed of a more amazing day with great friends and volunteers, awe-inspiring natural beauty, and the Ultimate trail partner. I am so blessed to have my health and the angels around me through my life’s continuing, strange, beautiful and awesome journey. Hope you had a good rest of your run, Doc and thank you for the pep talk!

PS Runners, ask me if you want to know what kind of shoes the Legend was wearing and about the mysterious red drink in his hand bottles.  🙂



to my life partner John (55k), friends Henri (50mi), Remi (100mi)! Crew and ultra pacer Nu! You all rock, bravely meeting and surpassing your goals on a tough course, through heat, higher altitude, lightning, and nightfall. John beat his goal in spite of a sprained ankle from the previous weekend. Our friend Henri was one of the runners, who was stuck at Snow Valley peak huddled with a bunch of other’s in a volunteer’s car, waiting out the loud lightning storm. I’m happy you made it down safely and so very proud of you all. Blessed to know these fine runners and see their training progress over the years. Cheers.



The Legend of Dr. Gordon Ainsleigh and how he started the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run:

(It all started 40 years ago…)


Nuggets of wisdom for ultra runners from Dr. Ainsleigh and WSER veterans panel, 2013:


About Dr. Gordon Ainsleigh

Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance trail runs


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized