Couch Week


Couch Week selfies... the blurrier the better. 

Ah, the end of Couch Week(s).

Ever since 2008, I've had the foresight and fortune to take the last week and a half of the year off from my job. And over the years this magical time has become known as Couch Week. Mostly, because I don't like to go too far from my couch. This is a time for naps, TV, cuddling with the dogs, TV, crocheting, TV, crafts, TV, reading, TV, and eating. And TV.

During this year's festivities I've watched about 20 episodes of guilty pleasure television, 5 movies, and the new Britney Spears documentary. I baked some sugar cookies (with a nutella surprise), made a giant dream catcher, got halfway through a book, did a TON of laundry and thought. A lot.

The one thing that I didn't do? Blog. I put it off to take a step back and plan for what I'd like to see this blog become in 2014. It's time for a fresh look, fresh outlook, and a new focus. And right now? It's also time to get off the couch, throw on a sparkly dress and prepare for our friends to head to our place for New Year's Eve.

Hope you ring in the New Year with someone special!!! And get ready for a bunch of surprises in 2014!

On Dasher, On Dancer, and ...


This morning, I'm sharing my favorite holiday memory over on the lovely Devon's blog, The Tale of a Mermaid. As I told Devon, a major part of our holiday traditions each year when my brother and I were kids was watching "Prancer" at my dad's house on Christmas Eve. Lo and behold, I found out that the whole thing is on YouTube. Which may or may not have made my Christmas this year.

I know what I'll be doing later. :)

Gifts for the Boho Beach Babe


Luxury Beach Towels // $149 from Fresco Towels - If there's one thing your surfer girl could use it's a new beach towel. The luxuriously huge Fresco Towels are made here in the U.S.A. with 100% Turkish Cotton and they really are the softest, fluffiest towels around. With over 50 designs to choose from, there's a dreamy pattern for everyone.

Billabong Secret Moon Boho Top // $54 from Swell - Minimalist boho at it's best. Loose and lovely, you can't go wrong with sizing on this one.

Mermaid Towel Hooks Trio // $36 from Boldhouse - Between bikinis, towels and wetsuits, your beach bum could use one or two of these adorable mermaid hooks.. so why not get her three?

Foam Magazine Subscription // $9.99 from Foam Magazine - FOAM ("Fashion Ocean Art Music") has been my favorite magazine since I came across my first issue in 2004. It's a great beach read and an endless source of inspiration for all things foamy.

Pura Vida Feather Charm Bracelet // $20 from Swell - I drive past Pura Vida's offices in La Jolla every night on my way to Bikram Yoga and I wish more people knew about the great mission behind this local company. Give with a purpose: every bracelet purchased helps to provide jobs for full-time artisans in Costa Rica.

Island Girl Sunglasses // $18 from Free People - Free People has surprisingly durable and affordable sunglasses, like these cute sunnies with a pop of island blue.

Mermaid Mala // $108 from Tiny Devotions - Made from Amazonite and Ocean Jasper, the Mermaid Mala is described as an "extremely calming stone that strives to align one’s center through love." I own this one and I wear all the time so the ocean never feels far away.

RVCA Khan Woven Cover Up // $49.50 from Swell - It may be cold outside now, but this sunny cover-up will give her something to look forward to or inspire a getaway to warmer weather.

Lifeproof iPhone Case // $79.99 from LifeProof - Let her Instagram, Tweet and Facebook her heart out at the beach without worrying about getting sand or water in her phone. The LifeProof case is dirt, shock and waterproof, making it beach-proof too.

Seashell Wine Glass Charms // $14 from Zealand Boutique - For your Sunday brunch hostess, these adorable seashell glass charms are made for her bubbly-popping household!

2-Person Cotton Hammock // $61 from hamanica - For some, the beach may be farther away than they'd like. Bring a little aloha to their backyard with a gorgeous boho hammock. I love, love, love our hamanica hammock but even if you order now, be warned that it may not get there in time for the holidays. Print out an image of the hammock and gift it with a couple of outdoor throw pillows to let them know it's on it's way.

Sun Bum Moisturizing SPF // $15.99 from SunBum - If she's a sun worshipper, there's one thing she'll never have enough of: sunscreen. Get her the best!

Surfrider Foundation Membership // $49 from Surfrider - The Surfrider Foundation works hard to protect the beaches, waves and oceans she loves the most. This year, with a $49 membership, she'll also get a $50 giftcard to!

September and October Reads


buy: 1 | 2

September and October were pretty nonfiction heavy, what with reading my beautiful cousin's anorexia memoir and with Ryan and I listening to the audiobook version of the biography of Steve Jobs. September and October were also over a month ago... something I only realized today when I was trying to remember if I did my reading wrap-up from the fall (Spoiler alert: I didn't).

I did however break into the double digits for books read, which sadly, is better than I did in 2011 and 2012 combined. Now that I have my iPad and am furiously trying to finish up a final couple of books on my Kindle app, I think that I will finish out the year with a decent number of books under my belt, but no where near my #50Books goal for the year. There's always 2014!

Purged by Shane K. Rotkis - Throughout my preteen and teenage years, I had no need to be concerned about weight. After all, I hovered around 100 lbs. Yet I was very worried that all my friends were on "diets" and I wasn't. I remember thinking that they knew something that I didn't... that we were all going to suddenly gain 20 lbs soon or that I should be skinnier. I struggled on and off with how I was supposed to feel about my size, but thankfully, I never developed anything close to resembling an eating disorder. My friends, however, did. And after reading my cousin Shane's memoir, "Purged" about her own struggles with anorexia and bulimia, I could see how easily things could have been very different for me. I read "Purged" as both a family member and as a woman who has seen several loved ones affected by various eating disorders and self-esteem issues. As a family member, I was stunned by how many thought impulses and viewpoints Shane and I have in common, despite the distance between us growing up (both in time and in age). Her courage to be transparent about her life reminded me that it's important to be transparent about my own - you never know who you'll connect with that way. As a woman, this book was eye-opening in so many ways to the brutal nature of these diseases. Shane captures them viscerally and it is a must-read for parents, friends and family of those who are currently battling anorexia or bulimia.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson - I have to say, this biography has been as inspiring as it has at times been surprising. I worked for Apple Retail for a while when Jobs was alive and it was his sister Mona Simpson's novel "Anywhere But Here" that first showed me the freedom and power to be found in storytelling. In these seemingly little ways, my life has been affected by him far past the larger impact he had on society through the innovations he led in technology, music, and design. That connection, however small, is what encouraged me to start this 630 page / 25 hour undertaking in the first place. But it was worth it. This biography was great and chock full of perspectives and anecdotes that I absolutely loved. I also think it's a great read for anyone pursuing a dream - whether they are an entrepreneur or artist, his story has something to inspire everyone. The book really helps to illustrate Jobs's flaws and failings in a way that shows how they led to his successes and the lessons there alone make it worth reading. But the journey through contemporary history and the detailed insight into the life of a modern da Vinci is just as enjoyable on its own accord.

'50 Books' Progress: 11/50

(Un)Motivation Thursday: My Carlsbad (Not) Training Plan


The Carlsbad Marathon is 6 weeks away and I haven't been running at all.

Like at all. My last logged runs were in the first week of November. Before that it was sporadic over the course of September and October. Before that.... was 26.2 miles on June 2nd.

I think I'm in trouble.

By this point in my training for the Rock N Roll, I had logged about 200 miles. Obviously I can't pull those miles out of thin air now. Truthfully? I don't want to. It's dark by the time I get home at night and I don't feel safe running alone in the dark. And with the holiday season, it feels like there is so much to do after work and no time to do it. Running just doesn't seem to fit into the plan. Plus... it's cold out.

You know what's not cold? The Bikram studio. Which is where I've been hiding while I haven't been running. It feels necessary to go there this time of year, not only for the warmth, but for the way it slows down life for 90 minutes. As I spend more time back in the studio, I remember why I fell in love with it in the first place. I had the chance to go on Thanksgiving morning last week (above) and it was so nice to be able to start my day that way. I wish I had the flexibility in my schedule to start every day with bikram.

But back to the marathon: I had a moment of panic over the weekend and looked into switching to the half but it's too late. So I have a Plan B: I'm going to start training for LA and just pretend Carlsbad is one of my long runs for that training. Either way, I have to let go of any stress I have over it and focus on what I can achieve before then.

Am I the only one who's ever been totally unprepared for an upcoming marathon? Probably.

11/18/13 - 11/24/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • 3-Day recovery / rest week 
11/25/13 - 12/1/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • bikram x3

Car Camping Checklist


Yesterday evening we got a text from our friend Heather asking us to join her and some friends who were camping up in Carlsbad. The sun was setting and we had no plans for the evening so within about an hour we were dressed, packed and on the road with the dogs. Nights like these are part of why I moved to California: last minute adventures outdoors, winter bonfires on the beach...

I also was looking for an excuse to really put my new favorite tote bag, the Santa Fe Gold Tote from Fresco Towels, to good use. I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to travel, so a giant tote is all I really need to pack for a night or two away. Here are my go-to essentials for an impromptu car camping trip:

-Pillows and blankets
-3-4 large pashminas to hang as curtains for privacy
-Phone charger
-Water bottle
-Toothbrush and toothpaste
-Dry shampoo (I love Sachajuan Volume Powder) and a brush 
-Toilet paper
-Hand sanitizer
-Food / snacks
-Wine and/or beer
-Wine key / corkscrew / bottle opener
-Fireball whiskey
-Solo cups
-Duct tape
-Lighter / matches
-Book or eReader
-Plastic bags for trash
-Dog food and bowls

It was actually my first time camping in Carlsbad and it was dark when we finally got to the campsite, so waking up next to these gorgeous coastal views was a bit of a surprise for me. But it was also a perfect start to the out-of-nowhere arrival of December (December?!), all snuggled up in the Versa with Ryan, Brewer and Banjo. 

As we were driving home early this morning, I thought about how grateful I am that we can do stuff like this. It's days like these that I remember you should never take your health or your lifestyle or your circumstances for granted. If you can, while you can... take advantage of your ability to drop everything and have a last minute adventure. Pack a bag, hop in the car and just go. Sometimes waking up with the person (and animals) you love somewhere new in the great outdoors is a necessary reminder of how beautiful things can be. 

The Best Way to Go Temecula Wine Tasting ...

11.27.2013 in a limo. And a Viva Limousine if you're really doing it right.

A couple of weeks ago my dad, my brother, and my brother's girlfriend, Claire came out to visit and it was wonderful. Having the three of them here, let alone at the same time, meant so, so much to me. I only get to see them about once a year and it's not nearly enough. Not to mention, my family hadn't met Ryan's mom, Cindy, and stepdad, Ray, yet (who are a big part of my life out here) and so I was super excited to introduce everyone. To celebrate, I decided to rent a limo to take us wine tasting in Temecula, about an hour north of where we live in San Diego.

To plan the day, I researched a LOT of limo companies and party buses and Temecula winery tours. There's a lot to consider: price of limo per hour, whether or not gratuity is included, how many passengers, do they include tasting tickets or coupons, do we rent the limo and buy the tickets separately, what about lunch etc. etc. Who knew? I finally settled on Viva Limousine and their tasting tour package. I will be forever glad that I did because they truly made our day. Ken, the owner, and Kathy, our driver, were so exceptional. Having done the research, I can tell you now... if you are ever planning on doing a day like this, avoid the headache and go straight to them.

Bonus? Our driver Kathy makes and sells the most adorable wine cork tiaras and had one as a gift for me for booking with Viva Limousine! I made her take a picture with me and my tiara at Bel Vino. Isn't it cute? If you're going to Temecula for a bridal shower or a birthday party be sure to pre-order one of these for your guest of honor!

Our awesome driver and the owner of Wine Cork Tiara, Kathy Poblano

For the tastings, I picked four wineries in Temecula: Danza del Sol, South Coast, Falkner and Bel Vino. This was my second time at Danza del Sol and it was just as meh as the first time... skip this one if you can. The award-winning South Coast was huge and had beautiful grounds, not to mention they served the most generous pours of the four. Kathy had boxed lunches ready for us to enjoy outside with the spectacular view and wines at Bel Vino. But my favorite wine of the day was the Hot Lips at Falkner, a mulled wine perfect for chilly holidays.

We had so much fun from the moment we got to Cindy and Ray's for brunch on their patio to our drunken limo ride home. It was one of my favorite days ever and I wish the three of them lived here so there could be more days like that. But I'll take what I can get and what I got was pretty great. :)

DIY: Restoring a Thrifted Teak Bar


Back when I was surrounded by disposable Ikea decor like most people in their early twenties, I didn't care about furniture at all. Despite a couple of apartments that I rented for a while in both NYC and Connecticut, I was a nomad for the better part of those years, shuffling between friend's couches and living room floors. The furniture I did own during that time was purchased with my transient lifestyle in mind, so I didn't put a lot of thought into it.

But when I got to California and finally started to achieve some semblance of permanence, I became very picky about the furniture that I chose. I started out fairly sparse with a desk I got for free on Craigslist and spent months refinishing and a bookshelf that I bought for $15 while drunk. That was when I started to form a  pretty strong belief that furniture should have a story. Now, every time I see my desk (which is currently in Ryan's shop), I think about the months I spent working on it in the garage with my dog Coaly, during our first winter in California. And every time I look at my bookshelf I think about that hilarious afternoon with my friend Elysia, getting drunk off of mimosas, stumbling into the old Pat's Thrift Shop in North Park and having to walk four blocks back from the thrift store with it to her old apartment.

Around that time, my rules for furniture were born. First, it must have a story. Second, I have to be in love with it. Third, it should be unique, not too overly mass manufactured, and if it isn't, I should make it unique through modifications. Fourth, it should be high quality, durable. And finally, if it didn't meet the preceding criteria, then it should at the very least be necessary and functional to get us through the time until I find something that does. That last one is how I excuse the only piece of furniture in our house that doesn't meet the rest of my rules: the couch I'm sitting on as I type this. 

The story of this particular piece of furniture happened during one of my regular Craigslist trolling sessions. I stumbled across it in April of 2012, shortly before we moved into The Sunset House. The ad said it was a Vintage Teak Bar that they would sell for $50 bucks, but when I got there, the teak was completely painted over with a gross brown acrylic (minus the bottom of the bar, which is how they knew it was teak), covered in cobwebs and bugs from being outside and had a broken wheel. I haggled them down to $40.  Little did I know that I was walking away with something that currently sells for $1,250 on Frontgate and $2,000 on Westminister.

Over the past year and a half, I have stopped and started work on this bar so many times. With all the crevices and corners, stripping it of the brown paint (and about 4 other layers of paint and stain) proved an almost impossible task. I needed to finish it and I needed help. So when my Dad came to visit a couple of weeks ago, I knew just the way to give this bar the story and memory it needed. My Dad is a house painter and he loves this stuff, so like any good daughter, I put him to work on his vacation. 

Over the course of the week, the two of us finished what I had put off for a year and a half. We started with SmartStrip, the only paint stripper my Dad will let me use, and finished stripping the brown paint from the inside. Then we scrubbed as much of the rest of it as we could with soap and water to get rid of the stripping paste. We sanded the whole bar down and I painted a few of the slats on the exterior to give it a bit of color and hopefully some of that surf shack vibe that I love so much. And for the last step, we sealed it with polyurethane.

It's not perfect, but it never could have been unless I had dumped $1,000+ on a new one. But the memory of working on it with my dad while he was here is perfect and worth so much more than that. I can't tell you how happy I am that we got to work on this together. I love the way it came out and I'm so glad to cross another resolution off of my list just in time! 

Motivation Monday: The Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day


Where do I even start?

Last year one of my closest friends/co-worker/cubicle neighbor walked the 2012 Susan G. Komen 3-Day 60 mile Walk for the Cure. She was a team of one during that walk, under the team name "Tit for Tat" that she has used for breast cancer fundraisers over the years, ever since her mom won a battle with the disease. This year, when she announced that she was going to do it again, I secretly considered signing up with her. But I kept that a secret for months because I wasn't sure I really wanted to commit.

Then I started reading a blog written by someone younger than me who was currently battling breast cancer. At the time she was having to drop out of a half marathon because of her diagnosis. Meanwhile, I was training for my first full marathon, so her situation hit just a little too close to home. And breast cancer does run in my family after all: I never got the chance to know my maternal grandmother or great-grandmother who both died because of it. I was inspired by her attitude and her story and decided then and there to register for the walk. As a proud new member of Team Tit for Tat, I would have to raise $2,300 to participate and walk 60 miles through San Diego over the course of one weekend.

Flash forward through 8 months of fundraising, including selling ads on this blog and crocheting beanies to raise money: the 3-Day finally arrived this past weekend. Our adorable Team Captain, Marisa (who somehow tricked 5 other people to join the team too) made us pins and Team Tit for Tat tank tops that we proudly modeled on Day 1.

Up at 5:30am at the Del Mar Fairgrounds for Opening Ceremonies

During the opening ceremony, I started to get an idea of just how emotional this weekend was going to get. Several men and women took the stage to read their reasons for walking and before long, I was bawling uncontrollably. Sometimes when you're fundraising for an event instead of doing service-related charity, it can be hard to understand the impact of what you're doing. Listening to these supporters and survivors, I started to understand what the Susan G. Komen foundation is actually able to do for people with the money we raise and that was a great way to start the weekend.

We started the walk at the Fairgrounds and walked through Del Mar on our way to Torrey Pines and La Jolla. As soon as we got into the downtown Del Mar area, I was overwhelmed with how huge this event really is. I could see a river of pink walking behind me and ahead of me and the sidewalks were lined with supporters, cheering us on, handing us snacks and beverages (one guy joked that it's called the 3-Day buffet), and doing whatever they could to make us laugh or thank us. And honestly? It all felt a little bit undeserved until we came across breast cancer survivors who told us via signs or cheers just how much our efforts meant to them (cue: more bawling on my part).

The lovely ladies of Team Tit for Tat at the top of our first big hill, Torrey Pines

Outside of Del Mar, our super sweet co-worker Kelli met us at the base of Torrey Pines hill and walked it with us. Kelli is one of those women who just lives life to the fullest. Whenever I talk to her she tells me about some awesome thing she's doing, like playing the uke in a meetup group or stand-up paddle-boarding. It was so great of her to come out and support us during our first major hill.

The course map said we walked 20 miles that first day but a lot of Walkers said their GPS's and apps read that we walked 25-27 miles. It sure felt like it. We started at 7:30am and crossed the Day 1 finish line into Mission Bay park around 5:30pm. My lovely bestie Bonnie came out to pick me up and give me a ride and after catching up on Scandal at her house (priorities), I headed home and went to sleep around 7pm.

One of the amazing groups of supporters who showed up every couple of miles to make us laugh - The Melon Men

We made it! The end of Day 1

At 6am on Day 2, I was hurting. Even though I am a runner, my running training did not prepare me for 8+ straight hours of physical activity, no matter how low impact it was. Yet, there I was, riding shotgun in Ryan's car on Day 2 at the crack of dawn, ready to do it all over again.

I met the team at Mission Bay and we headed through SeaWorld and along the San Diego River over to Ocean Beach where we spent the day walking amidst beautiful views in OB, Point Loma, Sunset Cliffs and Mission Beach. While Day 2 was the toughest on all of us physically, it was also the most fun. Our teammate Ashley's parents met us in OB with hot chocolate and Bailey's and between them, the SeaWorld employees, and the other supporters who cheered us on at Robb Field, we were really starting to feel the love - and understand why it was somewhat necessary to keep us going.

My favorite Walker Stalker, thanks to Team Hula Hooters

In fact, whenever my feet hurt or my back hurt or I started to get tired, I didn't have to look far for motivation. There were my beautiful and hilarious teammates, first and foremost, who were trucking on alongside me, there were Girl Scouts who were so excited to cheer us on with their chants and the pins they made us, there were the dancing SDPD bike cops cracking us up, there were survivors thanking us everywhere we went and just amazingly warm-hearted people rooting us on at every turn. Most of all, all I had to do was think about how insignificant my 3 days of achy, self-inflicted "suffering" was in comparison to that of the women and men who battle breast cancer. The outpouring of support and love and humor and generosity that you experience during an event like this is just unlike anything you could get anywhere else.

Still... the pain.

Motivation was constant, but so was the ache in my feet. Which is when we decided to call in reinforcements in the form of my favorite cinnamon flavored beverage, Fireball. The Fireball got us through all of our various ailments during the last few hours of Day 2 and left us finishing Mile 40 with happy, smiling faces.

Very discrete

More Fireball to get us through the "last 3 miles" of Day 2

Don't worry, contrary to what it may look like, I didn't actually lose a leg in a Fireball-induced haze

Day 3 was the final day that my amazing boyfriend had to cart my exhausted body over to the Starting Line at dawn. This time though, I had Brewer with me to pull me along for the first 5 miles. He made a pretty cute Walker in his pink bandanna and made my morning infinitely easier, even after he crapped all over my leg (much to my embarrassment, I didn't even notice until another Walker pointed it out). Ryan and Banjo met back up with us around Mile 45 in Mission Beach to relieve Brewer of his walking duties and I took advantage of the puppy photo op. 

Once Brewer left, it was a blur of nonstop pain and thorough exhaustion that neither Fireball nor cheerleading could really alleviate. We marched on though, putting one foot in front of the other, back around the San Diego River on our way to Old Town and the major hill (Juan Street) that awaited us there. Which is why we were so thankful to see Marisa's mom (a survivor herself) and mother-in-law and my dear friend Raina show us up to walk with us for what was arguably the most brutally boring part of the whole walk. Their presence came at a pretty crucial time during the day.

As we hobbled on through Hillcrest towards the finish line at Petco Park, none of us could really talk or think or feel our legs. I had shin splints and there was a surplus of bum knees and achy feet and painful backs. And this is where I started to get really emotional. The last five miles were just a flood of emotions for every reason you can think of. Finally, one Komen mile (the kind of mile that is actually anywhere from 1.1 to 5 miles long) away from Petco Park, a choir of singing children led by a survivor, absolutely annihilated me. In case you were wondering, I cried a lot this weekend. 

Then suddenly we were done. We crossed the finish line and picked up our t-shirts and stumbled over to South Paw to meet up with our family and friends and beer. Ryan and Bonnie and Ian and Anjali and Pre were waiting for me there and I could not have been happier to see them. I am always grateful to have such wonderful friends in my life. We managed to get a few beers in before the equally emotional closing ceremonies where everyone took off a shoe and raised it high in the sky in support of all those who couldn't walk with us and those we were walking for. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful weekend. 

There is so much that I'm forgetting and so many wonderful mammaries (sorry, my new breast friends and I have been speaking in boob jokes for days...) that I wish I could share. The thing is though, you just have to be there for this one. It's an unbelievable 3 days of camaraderie and love and strength and support. And while I don't think I'll walk another 3-Day, I will forever try to support the Walkers through cheering and Fireball stations and of course, donations. And now I'd like to thank those who donated to me, without whom, I wouldn't have had the privilege to experience this weekend firsthand:

My father and brother
My fantastic co-workers and company
Gayle Talabay - a beautiful and inspiring previvor and blogger
The Long Family
Peter Barker-Homek
My lovely friends Keri, Kemi, Anj and Pretesh
My Aunt Micki and Uncle Ed
One of my oldest friends Ashley and her mom, Grace
Devon DeMint - one of my favorite bloggers and whose cousin is the survivor who inspired me to commit!
Andie Lee

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

11/4/13 - 11/10/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • ran 1 day for a total of 4 miles (31 miles below target) 
11/11/13 - 11/17/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • walked 3 days for a total of 60 miles (20 miles over target)

Motivation Monday: Aaaaaaaand we're back


It's been a long time since my last proper Motivation Monday post. Two months to be exact. But since I'm officially 12 weeks out from the Carlsbad Marathon, I figured it was about time to hit the road. Literally.

This time around I'm following the same marathon training plan from Runner's World, but I'm attempting to stick to it a bit better and to increase my speed. I'd love to get down to around 4:30:00 for my time, which is a major difference from RnR SD, where my goal was simply to finish. How big of a difference? Oh, you know... over an hour.

There is some good news though: if I don't manage to finish in the time I want at Carlsbad, I won't have to wait too long for my second chance. Because this girl? This girl who said she was one and done? And then said she only signed up for Carlsbad because she was drunk? Well, this girl signed up for the ASICS LA Marathon in March. She signed up in the middle of the day. Completely sober.

Did I mention the marathons are less than two months apart?

Yeah, I don't know. I don't know how I plan to do this or why I thought it was a good idea, but it's happening. Which means I might have just gone and addicted myself to marathons.

With this newfound addiction of mine, I am most definitely in need of motivation to step up my game. Which is why I've gotten a running partner. He's fast and furry and you can catch a glimpse of his adorable little face above. This week I took him out running for the first time and learned that our little Banjo is apparently a great running buddy. He makes me go faster than I would if no one was watching and now that it's getting dark earlier, I feel safer with him around.

But I don't think I can stop there. I'm thinking about getting a running coach to really help me get more serious this time around. So if you know of any good ones in San Diego, send them my way! In the meantime, Banjo here will be running the show.

10/28/13 - 11/3/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • ran 5 days for a total of 25.5 miles (6.5 miles below target) 

Guerrilla Gardening


It's November already!! Where did this year go?

Last night we celebrated Halloween with a little guerrilla gardening across the street from our house. When I say "we," I should clarify that I am usually the lookout, liability and/or photographer in these missions, whereas Ryan is the green thumb and the inspired guerrilla gardener.

We planted a cactus that Ryan had liberated a couple of weeks ago during our walk up to Nate's Point dog park. It's a bright little slice of greenery in an otherwise drab, often littered highway embankment. We've also planted golden poppies there before (and will again), so the cactus makes a nice addition.

After a successful mission, we headed into Aero for some Halloween nightcaps. It was a decidedly less hectic holiday compared to previous Halloweens that we've spent at Monster Bash downtown or at Nightmare on Normal in Hillcrest or throwing a huge house party. Truthfully, I was really uninspired this year. I couldn't think of a costume idea that I liked to save my life.

Now that November is here, I'm attempting to squeeze in a few extremely chill days before the craziness sets in. Next week my dad and brother and his girlfriend get into town and then the 3-Day is the weekend after and then Thanksgiving and then holiday parties and then Christmas and Ryan's birthday and New Year's Eve in rapid fire succession. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Not to mention, I'll be training for Carlsbad the whole time. Which should actually be a good thing since it'll offset all of the food I'll be eating.

But even though the holidays bring a lot of stress and exhaustion among the good stuff, I'm excited. There's a lot to celebrate this year in our circle of friends and even more coming in 2014. So here's to an amazing holiday season... let the madness begin...

#FitBlogLA 2013, Part II: All the Swags


In case the fact that I had to create an entirely separate post in order to cover all my swag isn't enough of an indication: I made out like a BANDIT at #FitBlogLA.

In between the second and third panels, we stopped for lunch and to visit the sponsor booths. And honestly, whatever I had been expecting, it was nothing like what we were treated to. Most of the sponsor booths had a free gift for us, and I'm not talking about a pen or a tote bag. For example, I started with Dermalogica, where I received a quick skin assessment, a gym kit full of post-workout essentials, and a great workout tank. The moment they handed me my free gift, I realized I was about to celebrate Christmas in October.

My next stop was the Oakley booth where I was both amped and shocked to learn that we were going to get to pick out a free pair of Oakley running sunglasses. We had a choice between the Pulse Polarized and the Given. The Given aviators are especially nice because they added No-Snag nosepads so it doesn't get stuck in your hair, which most aviators do for me. In the end, I went with the Pulse and still can't believe the difference polarized makes.

I had seen the ROXY Outdoor Fitness booth on my way into the event and now that I knew the booths were giving out such amazing swag, I was really excited to stop by and check out their fitness wear line (which I have been interested in ever since I saw Devon of The Tale of a Mermaid rocking some in a blog post this summer). They told us that we could pick out an entire outfit (!!!) to take home. I scored the Atmosphere Jacket in Fuschia and their Get Faster Pant... over $150 worth of new gear! I'll definitely make good use of the jacket during marathon training this winter. Plus, it zips itself up into the pocket for travel, so it's perfect for layering during long runs.

Birkenstock was also there and initially I was kind of blase about stopping by their booth. Birkenstocks? I just don't consider myself a Birkenstock type. Wow, was I wrong. From the moment the rep put this adorable blue Gizeh Thong Sandal on my foot, I was a new fan. I never in a million years would have bought a pair of these on my own because of some of the crunchy stereotypes around Birkenstocks, but now? Now I will wear these until they disintegrate and then buy a new pair. These are the most comfortable and supportive sandals I have ever worn and I'm so happy to have them!

The last sponsor that I was really excited about was Saucony, who were releasing their Guide 7 sneakers a couple of weeks early to #FitBlogLA attendees. This was especially exciting since my Saucony Power Grid Triumph 9s (which I wore during training and the Rock and Roll SD Marathon) are one 60-Mile 3-Day Walk away from retirement. I started breaking the Guide 7s in this week and they will be the shoes I wear during the Carlsbad Marathon! I'm a loyal Saucony girl, so getting my next pair for free was pretty awesome.

And as you can see from the first picture at the top, there was so much more. Hair and beauty products, granola bars, snacks, Crystal Light, headbands and hair ties galore, tank tops, socks, a gift card to Oakley (so maybe I'll get the Given sunglasses anyway!) and the list goes on. The swag was unbelievable and I'm so grateful to Fitness Magazine for having me! Can't wait to start training for Carlsbad in all my new gear. :)

Restaurant Review: West Coast Tavern, North Park


Let's get one thing straight: at West Coast Tavern, no one is going to have to force you to eat your brussel sprouts.

I should know. Here is a secret about my boyfriend: he hates that people joke about the fact that he hates vegetables. In reality, he probably eats them more often than people know, but still, there is some truth to it. For instance, it would never in a million years occur to him to order brussel sprouts as an appetizer. And honestly? I don't know that it would be my first choice either. Enter the magic of West Coast Tavern, an impossibly chill restaurant and bar in North Park.

We headed there for dinner last Thursday and it proved the perfect spot for a date night. Incredible food, a laidback atmosphere, great jams on vinyl from their live DJ, and of course, some fantastic wine. It was a nice reprieve from what ended up being a crazy week for both of us. When things get hectic though, my first instinct is to take a little break, slow it down and enjoy a nice meal with my favorite person. And we kicked it all off with... the brussel sprouts.

I was told the brussel sprouts were a must and I will forever trust the person who recommended them to me on all future food-related instructions. Ryan and I surprised ourselves when we pretty much destroyed them in all their herbed, bacony, cheesy goodness. I barely touched my wine (a Francis Ford Coppola Pinot Noir) while I was caught up in my brussel sprouts frenzy and if you know me, you know that means they were something special.

Ryan's appetizer of choice came out next, the tangy, gooey wonder that is their Five Spice Chicken Wings. The sauce on these wings was unlike anything either of us had ever tried before. It was almost like a salty candy and even that explanation doesn't do them justice. They would have been a great snack to go with some craft beer and their Chicken and Spinach Mac and Cheese.

Our entrees were next and like I said, it had been a tough week. So it's rare that I order something as fancy as steak at dinner but thank god I did because their Grilled Flat Iron with Braised Kale and Butternut Squash Puree tastes like you're biting into autumn. Seriously. If you could bottle up every cozy, warm feeling and every autumnal spice and create a flavor and then pour that flavor over a meal, this would be what that would taste like. Eating my dinner, I was honestly so happy I could have cried. Ryan got the Angus Chuck Beef Sliders, but I don't think I even talked to him about his food since I was too busy being mesmerized by mine.

Somehow, someway, after all that, we both had room for dessert, but just barely. I ordered the Pumpkin Cheesecake with a graham cookie, salted caramel and spiced whipped cream on top, but the real winner was Ryan's Bread Pudding. My dessert was decent, but the Bread Pudding was truly heavenly. By the time we finally put our forks down, we were so stuffed I thought someone was going to have to roll us to our car.

I know they say don't eat your feelings and blah blah blah, but never in my life has a meal so completely changed my mood like my dinner at West Coast Tavern. It really was like magic. When we walked in we were both run down, stressed out, and slightly angry at our respective work situations, and by the end of the meal we were totally laidback, happy and relaxed. So if you're in need of some culinary magic, or just want to relax in one of the coolest bars and restaurants in San Diego, head to West Coast Tavern in North Park and don't forget: start with the brussel sprouts.

West Coast Tavern
2895 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92104
Phone: (619) 295-1688

#FitBlogLA 2013, Part I: My Takeaways


Ever since I began this blog in February, I am regularly stunned by the great opportunities that come my way because of it. But if I'm being honest, none have been nearly as cool or as inspirational as getting to attend Fitness Magazine's West Coast Blogger Meet and Tweet, #FitBlogLA.

About 50 fitness bloggers were invited to enjoy speaker panels, food, and sponsor interactions at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica. After checking in and getting my badge, I headed upstairs to get a seat for the panels. Immediately, the swag began: on our way in, we were given cute aqua-colored Camelbak Groove Insulated Bottles that have filters in the straws. Which is perfect for the times when I'm working out and there's only tap water available. I filled my new Camelbak up with lemon water and went inside to listen to Fitness Magazine's Editor-In-Chief, Betty Wong, interview the creator of P90X, Tony Horton.

Personally, I've never tried P90X. I've had plenty of friends who've attempted it and only one who actually completed it. And no one has ever said anything about it that has convinced me to try it myself, including Tony. As he was talking to Betty about his views on fitness and nutrition, he just came across as a cocky, over-caffeinated LA stereotype. Overall, I didn't take anything away from Tony's panel, but I will say that for his age, which is 55 years old (a fact he mentioned at least a dozen times), he does look really good in person.

The next panel was my absolute favorite, mostly because it was somewhat life-changing. I've never heard anyone talk about food or diets or nutrition in a way that resonated with me before I heard nutrition therapist Alyse Levine speak. She spoke a lot about our cultural relationship with food and our tendency to approach food with a deprivation mindset. Everything she said made so much sense and she gave me actionable advice that I've already started putting to use. For instance, "the fork rule": when food is in your mouth, put your fork down. Don't have the next bite ready while you chew.

As I get older and pay more attention to how I feel when I eat different foods, I've been thinking a lot lately about how I need to change my relationship with food. For instance, it's not funny anymore to profess to eating Cheez-Its, gummy bears and Diet Coke for breakfast every morning. In fact, it goes against another one of Dr. Levine's rules: choose real food. Another thing? While I used to think it was cute and made me like one of the guys to eat as fast as I do (which is really, really fast), I now realize it's actually really bad for me. Not only do I not get to enjoy food that way, but I eat too fast to notice that I'm full.

But the most important realization of all was that I have a lot of anxiety around food because of money. This wasn't something that Alyse talked about specifically, it just happened to occur to me as she was discussing the way that we deprive ourselves and then eat too much as a reward. The truth is, though I've rarely deprived myself of food on purpose (I'm not a fan of "diets"), I have, for much of my life, been deprived of good food against my will or because of means. For example, when there was no food in the house as a kid, my mom would buy huge bags of potato chips to "tide us over." Unfortunately, we never knew when she would be able to get to the grocery store, so I would end up eating the whole bag out of fear that I wouldn't be able to satiate my hunger with real food. This happened often enough that whenever I was at friends' houses or school parties or was being treated to lunch or dinner, I would binge on as much real food there as possible and as quickly as I could. It started a lifelong pattern of eating crap food like chips when I had no money and when I had money, I overate good food out of anxiety that I didn't know when the next good meal would be.

The problem is, that shouldn't be a problem anymore. Money is no longer an issue for me, but that anxiety still exists. Someone can treat me to lunch now and I feel guilty if I don't eat all of it. I feel compelled to eat the food that people bring to work to share just because it's free. Which is why I say Alyse's panel was life-changing. Without her, I don't think I would have experienced this revelation and I'm really inspired now to try to rewire my brain.

The third speaker was celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, who is responsible for one or two bodies you might have seen before: Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West (imagine having to tell him what to do), Jennifer Hudson, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Julianne Hough, and on and on and on (you can see the full list of his clients here). The roster of celebrities whose bodies Pasternak whips into shape is so long that it basically means he is THE trainer of Hollywood. And yet, he is just a humble guy who embodies Canadian niceness and who is actually kind of nerdy about his approach to fitness and research. He debunked a couple of myths during his talk (juicing and detoxes are BS) and said that one of the main reasons we're overweight as a nation is because we're walking thousands of steps less than other countries. He also doesn't believe in push-ups, so he is the best trainer in the world as far as I'm concerned.

Last but not least, Fitness's Digital Editor, the adorable Christie Griffin, moderated a discussion with four bloggers on how they've turned their blogs into businesses.The bloggers, two of whom I read regularly (Skinny Runner and Run Eat Repeat), shared a lot of really good information and insights as to what it takes to make a blog profitable and what they've learned along the way. It was pretty motivational and I really liked their overall outlook on how we should all support each other in this community, something that I've believed since I started blogging 14 years ago.

Following the blogging panel, Saucony was leading a run on the beach, but I had at least two hours worth of driving ahead of me so I bolted for my swag bag and hit the road. I was beaming the whole ride home, something I haven't felt as a result of a professional or creative endeavor in a very long time. It was such a great day, partly because of the swag (so much awesome stuff that I'll have to cover it in a separate post), partly because of the things I learned, but mostly because it of the energy I got from meeting so many awesome women from the blogging community, many of whom who share a lot of the same interests that I do. It made blogging suddenly seem very legitimate and full of potential for me, more so than ever before.

As Ira Glass just said in the episode of This American Life that I'm listening to right now, "The clumsy first steps that you take towards any big goal are inherently awkward." This blog was and is my first step since grad school into figuring out how to make writing a part of my life and, eventually, my income. Maybe I have gone about blogging somewhat awkwardly so far this year. But #FitBlogLA gave me the courage and motivation to take the next steps and that is exactly what I'm going to do. :)