February Reads


One of my resolutions for 2013 is to read 50 books this year. I've been such a slacker about reading ever since I moved to San Diego. For the most part, I blame my lack of a work commute. I used to have a ton of time to read on the train or the subway in New York and here I drive 15 minutes each way to the office. Not that I'm complaining. :)

Unfortunately, I haven't made much progress on my '50 Books' goal just yet. With my current MBA class, work, and our trip to San Francisco, I haven't found much time for leisurely reading. In fact, one of the books I read this month was for school. But hopefully that will change next week when I'm finished with this class and off from school for two months!

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart - Gary is a Hunter grad as well and finished his MFA the year before I started mine. Although I never had class with him, I did meet him at several Hunter/literary functions. However, I'd never read any of his books until Super Sad. SSTLS is a dystopian novel set in the near future in Manhattan. It alternates between two voices: the protagonist, Lenny Abramov, and his love interest, Eunice Park. Two thoughts on this book: 1. It is super sad. Not necessarily the love story itself, but rather the general melancholy and pessimism of the whole book. I didn't realize it until after I finished, but it kind of depressed me and not in a meaningful way. 2. The narrator tells us only horrible things about Eunice Park and yet expects the reader to buy his obsession with her. Put another way: Shteyngart doesn't even dress up Lenny's obsession as misguided or confused. Lenny is smart and all too aware of Eunice's many flaws. He himself has trouble finding things about her to love, except for her looks and daddy issues. It was hard to invest in his feelings for her (which is the foundation for the whole story) when he couldn't even seem to do so. 

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell - Karen Russell is the 'one that got away.' For one of our final MFA projects we had to interview an author and Karen was my top choice. At the time, she had only published her first short story collection and I'd read one of these stories in Best American Short Stories 2009 and fallen in love. Somehow, one of my classmates beat me to her, but I had the privilege of interviewing the author of my favorite short story collection of all time instead, so it all worked out. Still, I would have loved to pick her brain at that point in my development. Confession: this the first Karen Russell book I've actually read cover to cover. I own the other two, but haven't had a chance to finish them. From the moment I picked up Vampires though, I knew that my earlier predictions were right: Karen Russell is poised to be one of America's greatest short story writers of all-time. Vampires showcases her range in 8 haunting, eerie stories. 

The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson - This is a nonfiction book that was assigned for my MBA class, "Organizational Creativity, Discovery, and Innovation." Normally, I don't even attempt to read books assigned for school, but I'm glad I finished this one. The Medici Effect focuses on how to create the right circumstances to poise yourself for innovation in your work. While a lot of the exercises and anecdotes are really useful for the corporate workplace, I've found myself applying them to my personal creative work as well. It's a quick read and useful if you're having any kind of creative block. 

'50 Books' Progress: 3/50

Sadly, that's it for February! The good news is that I have several books I can't wait to start in March. What books did you read this month? Any recommendations?

DIY: Barefoot Sandals


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How cute are these barefoot sandals by Aya Omura for Free People?  I expected to see a lot of crocheted foot ties at Coachella last year and was kind of surprised when I didn't. They're such a fun, bright accessory for festivals, yoga, or beach days. 

These are sold out now, but I think they went for $45 a pair when they were in stock. Of course, after seeing the price tag, my first thought was, "I could make that." So on Saturday morning, I came back from running errands with $30 worth of DMC embroidery thread and a nice new 2.75MM Boye crochet hook. I've been using the free "Goddess Barefoot Sandals" pattern from Julie at Gleeful Things for my initial attempts. It's a fairly easy pattern and though Julie uses a single color for each pair, I made mine tri-colored by tying on a new color after Rounds 2 and 4. Here's my first pair:

I'm working on my own pattern now and it's back to Michael's this weekend to get some beads and other enhancements to incorporate into the new ones. And hopefully I'll finally have time for a pedicure this weekend too, so I'll post some photos of what they look like on my feet!

Another Man's Treasure


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I have a complicated relationship with the show "Girls." The show has an uncanny ability to trigger a form of PTSD for me. After all, anyone who has spent any brief amount of time with me could tell you that I hated my years spent as a would-be writer in NYC: the striving, the transparent posturing involved in attending readings and Paris Review parties, the dual constants of being broke and hungover, the painfully stereotypical OKC dates, the cold and the humidity. It was the worst. Dark days.

That said, I'm glad I did it. If only to learn how I didn't want to live my life. So when I was watching Hannah's "Don't tell anyone this, but I just want to be happy" speech in the episode "One Man's Trash," I started to think about why the desire to be happy was such a stigma back then. Everything Hannah said, right down to the Fiona Apple quote that I also read in NYM, resonated.

Somewhere between school and the city and the Midtown studio that I shared with Mickey and Minnie (the two mice that lived in my defunct radiator), I cultivated a belief system that the key to my success as a writer was not writing, but research: I needed to experience as much as possible, the good and the bad. Especially the bad. The bad experiences were better material, so I sought them out constantly until finally they just started to happen to me. And like Hannah, I purposefully let them happen. Soon, "writer" became synonymous with "victim" and suddenly the "research" portion of my non-career was my actual life.

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In 2010, shortly after my quality of life had hit rock bottom, I traded harsh Manhattan winters for breezy San Diego summers. I just wanted to be happy. Once I made that choice, everything else fell into place. I focused on my day job, made friends with genuine, kind people, and didn't waste my time dating until I found someone who was perfect for me in every way.

Of course, happiness came with a price. As expected, my material dried out. For a while, I lost the motivation to write. I slowly stopped talking to my former MFA classmates because I didn't know what to say to them anymore. Worst of all is the fear that they'll think I've sold out: living in Southern California, working in Corporate America, enjoying my little slice of domestic bliss.

But watching Hannah have a nervous breakdown in front of Patrick Wilson and feeling a wave of relief that I am not that girl any more, it occurred to me that even if I have "sold out," it's better than selling myself short. To that end, the belief that I can't be a writer without victimizing myself is, in fact, as short as it gets. Which is why starting this blog this year was so important to me: I need an outlet where I can learn to write from a happy place. Now it's time to get some new material.

"They say California is a recipe for a black hole, and I say I've got my best shoes on, I'm ready to go" -Rilo Kiley, 'Pictures of Success' 

Love + Haight


The worst part of having good friends move away is pretty much everything. But the best part is having an excuse to visit a new city! Ryan and I just got back from a weekend spent having too much fun in San Francisco. We stayed with our recently-engaged friends Bonney and Lou in Cole Valley, a really idyllic, laid back neighborhood near Haight-Ashbury.

For the most part we skipped the touristy stuff in favor of getting to spend as much quality time as possible with Bonney, Lou and the other Frannies (as Ryan likes to call them). But we did get to stop by Alamo Square, go on an amazing tour of Anchor Steam Brewing Co., do some shopping in Haight-Ashbury, and check out Alcatraz.

Foodwise, we scarfed down a delicious brunch at Zazie on Sunday morning (so worth the 45-minute line!), a group dinner at King of Thai Noodle and Bar in North Beach, grilled cheese and tomato soup at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in SoMa, and drunk pizza at Golden Boy. We also stopped by a couple of decent bars: Gold Cane Cocktail Lounge, a relaxed dive in Haight-Ashbury, and Tope in North Beach, which we just wandered into and ended up staying at for hours.

There is so much more to explore in SF and I can't wait to go back. Especially to do some more shopping. I did manage to snag a couple of items that I can't wait to wear, like a hat that I bought at X Generation 2, a store that I fell in love with in the Haight.

As is common with me these days though, visiting new cities just makes me fall more in love with San Diego. Which is why I've made it a resolution to travel to at least three new places this year: if I didn't, I'd never want to leave. One down, two to go!

Wrapped Up


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For me, the most wonderful time of the year isn't Christmas... it's Coachella. And right now it's less than two months away. Which means that any time I should be doing homework or washing dishes, I'm probably shopping for festival wear online. On my to-buy list? Gauzy sundresses, denim cutoffs, gladiator sandals, and some boho jewelry, which, of course, includes wrap bracelets.

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Of the ones that I've seen so far, these are a few of my favorites. What are your go-to shops for boho jewelry? 

Malibu Beach House


source: Elle Decor

I was going through old magazines last week and I found these photos inside the August 2012 issue of Elle Decor. I think it's really hard to do beach or nautical themes in a fresh and homey way so that they don't come out looking like an overdone spread from Coastal Living. Eric Hughes and Nathan Turner really managed to accomplish that and create a casual space for themselves and their two dogs. They went for a "Fourth of July weekend on the Atlantic shore" vibe and maybe that's what I like about it the most: how they brought a little east coast to a SoCal beach house. 

There are a lot of elements that I was into. On the cheesier side, I'm always a sucker for beadboard paneling and built-in shelving, so I like that they kept those from the original home. Because of that texture, the white walls really work for me here. And the bohemian patterns and vintage nautical pieces that they found to tie the whole beach theme together really make me want to go thrifting. Maybe a trip to South Cedros Ave is in order?

Inspiration: Andy Davis


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I don't think there is an artist whose aesthetic appeals to me more completely than Andy Davis's does. He's a local, based right up the 5 in Leucadia. He draws his inspiration from cartoons like Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera, and Dr. Seuss. And of course, surfing.

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I love the colors and whimsy in every piece. It totally captures the laid back attitude and happy outlook that I love to see in art.

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If I could afford to put Andy Davis artwork all over my house, I would. It's hard for me to pick a favorite, but  "Summer Love Special" and "Hand Jive" are definitely the two prints that I am one lottery win away from buying right now.

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In several interviews, he's talked about how he and his family want to move to New Zealand and how it's what he envisions California was like in the 60s. Just another excuse to add NZ to my travel wishlist. Maybe after our friend Ann moves there? ;)
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On what inspires him: "I admire anybody who has the passion to do things that make them happier and that challenge them to help them grow and learn, so that they can evolve and be the best they can be, whether it is someone who is a gardener or someone who’s a mechanic or even a chef.

Well, hello there....


About a year ago, my boyfriend came to me with a great idea for a blog title. He knew that I'd been meaning to get back into blogging for a while and that I was hung up on trying to figure out a catchy name. Within minutes of hearing his idea, SanBriego.com was purchased. And there it sat. Because now that I had a name, I had to come up with a design.

Flash forward 10 months later. Writing out my 2013 resolutions, I made sure to put "launch SanBriego" at the top of my list. A month into the New Year, I realized that I would never get anywhere if I didn't have some help. That's where Natalie of 2317studio came in. I found her while searching for a blog designer on Etsy and thank god I did. She was amazing to work with and just what I needed. She understood exactly what I was looking to do and had this beautiful blog up and running within a few days. I can't recommend her enough.

So here we are! I can't wait to get started!