04 March 2015

February Favourites

February was a pretty hectic month for me, and a large portion was taken up with my trip to Washington and California, which already feels like a long time ago. Here are some of my favourite things that didn't make it onto the blog.

Colourful running kit

I have a couple of pairs of Brooks shoes for 'serious' running at home, but one of the items on my US shopping list was a new pair of lightweight running shoes for travel and casual use. I flirted with some Asics, but in the end, my heart was won over by a pair of green-turquoise, pink and black Nike Free 5.0s ($100), which I picked up at City Sports in DC and which I have since customised with a pair of pink laces. They are colourful, comfortable and lightweight, and I'm really pleased with them.

But that wasn't enough colour for one shopping trip and I couldn't resist these floral running capris in all of my favourite colours from Athleta ($74). I usually go for dark bottoms and bright tops, but these make me happy. The quality is good, although not quite as nice as my Lululemon leggings, and they match my new trainers.

Four Barrel Coffee

I was only in San Francisco for six hours, but that was long enough to find a new coffee favourite: Four Barrel. The pourover was great and I knew it was a sign when the barista made it with the Colombian Andino coffee ($19.50) I had already picked out to take home. I've been grinding up the beans at home for the past week, and the coffee still has a wonderfully rich, chocolatey flavour. If you don't live in the Bay Area, you can order beans from their online store.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant's story of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston's North End during the early 20th century is a smart, richly detailed portrait of immigrant life in the United States. Diamant's heroine Addie is an intelligent, feminist character who goes on to have an extraordinary life, the story of which she is telling to her favourite granddaughter, decades later. The writing is lively and it's a fascinating read.

Byron's B-Rex burger

To celebrate the return of its popular special burger, the B-Rex, Byron gave away hundreds of vouchers for free B-Rexes last week, and I managed to bag myself one. The B-Rex (£10.50) is pretty epic: it comes with an onion ring, streaky bacon, cheese, jalapeƱos, pickles, onion, BBQ sauce and mayo. It probably wouldn't have been my first choice — I'm a purist and tend to err on the side of cheeseburgers — but it was really good. I asked them to hold the jalapeƱos and the pickles, but my burger was still a towering beast of a thing. And while I was there, it seemed silly not to order one of Byron's delicious Oreo shakes. It was probably the least healthy but most fun Monday of the year so far.

The event obviously went well because the B-Rex has now earned a place in Byron's classic specials hall of fame.

A Soft Murmur ambient noise website
On the Slate Culture Gabfest earlier this month, one of the gabbers recommended an ambient noise website called Rainy Cafe, which allows you to play your perfect combination of rain and cafe noise — always helpful if you can't stand to work in the sound of silence. I then found another site called A Soft Murmur, which adds a few more sounds to the mix, including waves, birds and fire. I've enjoyed using both websites when I needed a little ambient noise to help me concentrate on whatever I'm working on, both at work and at home.

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