Raspberry Lime Tequila Sangria


Happy freakin' Friday everyone! I don't know about you guys, but this has been the longest short week ever. And I'm not sure whether it's because I'm staying sober this whole week leading up to the marathon or because of all the crazy stress from work and school, but I can't stop thinking about drinks to make for my post-race celebration! 

Ryan and I and a few friends had a picnic in Balboa Park this past weekend and it gave me an excuse to test drive a Pin that I've had my eye on for a while: a really simple recipe for an absolutely delicious Raspberry Lime Tequila Sangria that was originally on the Hopeless Domestic blog. This sangria was so refreshing and tasty for our summer afternoon and I can't wait to make it again. Here's the recipe with a few of my minor updates to the ingredients and the original directions from HD:

  • 2 oranges 
  • 3 limes 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1lb or 6 cups ice 
  • 1 (10 or 12oz) bag frozen sweetened raspberries 
  • 1 cup silver tequila 
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec 
  • 1 750 ml bottle of champagne  
  • 2 20oz bottles or 6 cups of lemon-lime soda

1. Juice one orange and two limes to measure 1/4 cup juice each. Combine juices and sugar in a microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Thinly slice remaining orange and lime.
2. Add ice, juice mixture, orange and lime slices, raspberries, tequila and triple sec in a pitcher and stir. Add champagne and soda, stir gently and serve.

Some notes: 
  • If you don't already have one, pick up a lime squeezer and an orange juicer or citrus reamer. So much easier than hand-squeezing the juice out!
  • This filled a 142oz beverage dispenser for us, so the serving size is a little over 10 Solo cups worth. :) 
  • But, don't make the mistake that I did and put this in a cheap beverage dispenser. There's a lot of raspberries inside that will clog the spigot if it's not big enough. However, a gallon pitcher will be slightly too small for this recipe, so if you do make this in a beverage dispenser, be sure to have a ladle or a way to pour this out of the top as a backup. 
  • For tequila, I used Peligroso Silver and for the champagne, I used Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee. 
  • I used regular Sprite in the one we drank and it was great. But with all the sugar in this recipe, it would probably be healthier to use Sprite Zero next time. 
  • All told, this sangria takes about 15 minutes to make. That said, make it as close to serving as possible. Otherwise you'll lose the carbonation after an hour or two and that's the best part!

Etsy Shop Highlight: Nuts and Bolts Design


How cute is Amy Taylor of TheMomBot.com? A blogger, DIYer, graphic designer and mom of two, Amy is a creative force to be reckoned with! For this Etsy Shop Highlight, I interviewed Amy about her graphic printables Etsy shop, Nuts and Bolts Design. I loved learning about Amy's approach to her work and how she balances being creative with being a stay-at-home mom. From birthday invitations to thank you cards to bridal shower decorations to birth announcements, Amy's creations are perfect for any event!

What gets you inspired to create items for your shop?
I find myself often inspired by other designers: I see something I love and start to figure out how they created it, step-by-step. This is often how I learn new techniques and come up with a new style or obsession. Because I read a ton of blogs, I usually pick up on trends and incorporate those into my designs. A lot of time, they end up being top sellers. For instance, the chalkboard trend has been big FOREVER and those items always sell really well for me. Some of the blogs I frequent that constantly inspire me are Poppytalk, How About Orange, Papernstitch, and Design is Mine.

When did you decide that you wanted to open an Etsy shop? 
I decided to open an Etsy shop in January of 2012. Design had become a big part of my life by then and I was already freelancing as a graphic designer, so I thought I would try my hand at having my own shop where I could sell all graphic printables. The draw was that I could create whatever I wanted how I wanted it, instead of having to follow instructions from a client.

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What are some of the products you'll be offering next?

I will soon be adding complete printable wedding sets to the shop - save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards, etc. They will be sold as a package for a reasonable price and all the buyer has to do is have them printed. It will save them tons of money, but still allow them to have a customized design that they love. I can't wait to get them up in the shop!

What does your workspace for the shop look like?
My workspace is a nightmare! I am very type-A and everything in my life is organized; except my desk. I work in the middle of our home (because I am also a stay-at-home mom) so I don't have a designated area to call my own; because of this, it frequently gets dumped on daily. Mail, bills, etc. seem to overtake the creative space. Every time I want to use my drawing pad for a project, I have to move a stack of papers to find it! Unfortunately I am not a morning person or a night owl, so I have to work during the day, which is hard to do with a 1 and 3 year old. When I am in the throngs of design work, I need to be left alone (which means I need to kick the family out or work during naptime). Music helps calm me and get me in the mood, and a cup of coffee is a necessity. A cookie doesn't hurt either...

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What is the most interesting experience you've had as an Etsy shop owner?
My most interesting experience as an Etsy shop owner? The fact that people actually buy what I am selling! Last year at Christmas time, I only had 2 cards in my shop, and I managed to sell over $500 worth on just those 2 designs. That was HUGE for me (because my earnings hadn't been much before that) and made me realize that if I put in the time and effort, I could make this a more steady part of my income. Since then, I have focused more on my shop and consistently added new products, and each month my income has increased. It's been amazing and humbling to see the growth. I also have people contacting me for custom orders, which makes me smile every time.

What is your favorite craft or project to work on?
As a graphic designer, I love to create layouts; which is why I love doing marketing brochures and coming up with invitation designs. I find spacial design fun - which I know is super nerdy. Away from the computer, I love to craft and DIY, especially when it involves decorating my home. I've really gotten into redoing and building furniture - including a toddler bed for my daughter and an industrial coffee table. I feature a lot of my craft projects and tidbits from my personal life on my blog, www.themombot.com.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring Etsy shop owner?
My only piece of advice for another Etsy shop owner is to believe in what you do and what you put out there. If you know it's great, then you're probably right. Don't give up; get yourself out there and keep trying. It took me a year to see any significant growth in my shop, and I am still a work in progress. But if you love what you do, then the painstaking process is worth it.

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I think the best part about Amy's shop is that most of her items are instant downloads, so if you're a procrastinator like me, you don't have to worry about having invites or announcements custom-made at the last minute. But even the items that aren't instant downloads (like her series of hilarious Father's Day cards) are equally adorable and eco-friendly! Hint, hint, procrastinators: go buy your Father's Day card now so it gets there in time for June 16th!

And BONUS: If you enter promo code: SANBRIEGO at checkout, Amy will give you 20% off any item in the shop! 

Motivation Monday: The Week Before the Marathon


I'm here! The week before the marathon. I can't even believe it. After 12 weeks, countless hours, over 300 miles and over 30,000 calories burned, I am finally days away from the goal I've been working so hard towards. And honestly?

I feel panicked and under-prepared.

My mind is a jumble of: I should have done more 20-milers, I should have been cross-training, My average pace this month has been abysmal, I don't feel like I'm in the right headspace, Shouldn't I be excited?, What if I get sick before race day?, What if I get injured?, What if I can't do it?, What if I completely fail???? I am told this is completely normal. Still. I'm scared!

Last week was a good week. I had a really strong final long run and I ran four days and got some decent taper mileage in. This week I think I will only do a couple of short runs and then go to bikram a few times. Bikram should calm me down and energize and exhaust me at the same time so that I get some good sleep in the days before the race.

So, if anyone out there has any first marathon tips, please, please let me know! And if you want to track me on race day, I signed up to have splits posted to my @SanBriego Twitter account!

5/20/13 - 5/26/13 Health and Fitness Stats: 
  • ran 4 days for a total of 25 miles 
  • did my last long run (10 miles) at an average pace of 10'51"/mile!

Styling 400 Square Feet


Much to my dismay, I learned a little too late about Apartment Therapy's Small Cool 2013 contest to enter. The annual contest is for people with homes under 1000 sq. feet and there are five divisions: Teeny-Tiny (<400), Tiny, (<600), Little (<800), Small (<1000) and International (<1000). When I heard about the contest I knew our little bungalow would meet the size requirement, but we had no idea how many square feet it was until we measured it. As it turned out, we have 340 sq ft of "livable" space and the whole place only measures about 390 externally! Still, somehow, it never feels teeny-tiny to me!

As of today, there are about 28 entries in our category (<400), and there are definitely a lot of boring similarities. Chevron plays a part in multiple entries which seems counter-intuitive to me because I feel like it creates chaos and makes a space feel smaller. Ikea furniture and fixtures popped up in many of the entries, as is to be expected I suppose since Ikea's target audience is people with small, temporary living situations. Chalkboard is pretty popular in kitchens and offices. And a lot of popular prints, such as the For Like Ever poster showed up in several entries. After viewing all 28, I honestly think that our place is the coolest of small spaces! But since I was too late to enter The Sunset House this year, I thought I'd share some of my favorites from the Teeny Tiny category.

"Stephanie's Best Year Yet"

I'm normally not a fan of white walls, but when walls have as beautiful paneling as Stephanie's, I'm willing to make an exception. I love that she makes up for it with such bright pops of color. Especially the "For Like Ever" poster that keeps popping up on blogs these days. Turns out you can get it from Super Rural for, like, $60 bucks.

"Leah's Comic Strip Style"

The rest of Leah's apartment is not quite my style, but this sunny dining room section is right up my alley. I love breezy, cozy areas in homes, one where you could have a bunch of people sitting around but not feel cramped.

"Christopher's Non-Negotiables" 

Christopher's apartment in West Hollywood is kind of bold and dark, but what I like about it is how unique it is. It definitely has a personality of its own and you can see that every piece was selected with care. I love when apartments as eclectic as his. It seems to give the space energy.

"Kathryn's Tucked-Away Treasure"

The room I love most in Kathryn's apartment is the kitchen. I have the same idea as she does, to collect colorful pots and cookware to display on the wall, and I'm in the midst of that now. I LOVE her cupboards, the wood with open shelving so you can display pretty dishes. And last but not least, I'm a fan of all their houseplants. I hope to eventually have a number in our kitchen as well.

Of course, entries like this completely remodeled Airstream mobile home and this handbuilt house deserve the majority of the votes since the monetary prize that comes with winning the contest could help them out a lot more than any of the rentals that entered. Which one is your favorite? How many square feet do you have?

Motivation Monday: Living Up to What I've Already Done


Last night, I went for a run for the first time in 4 days. I was down by the harbor at sunset (so pretty, as you can see above), listening to Brett Dennen's album "Loverboy" and a lyric in one of the songs hit me at just the right moment:

i don't wanna become someone // who can't live up to what i've already done

After last week's depressing post about my runner burnout, my lack of motivation just kind of got worse. I only ran twice last week for a total of twelve miles. I skipped my long run altogether. I partied too much on the weekend and ate way too many carbs. And listening to that song, I realized that I've come way too far to give up now. Yes, I'm supposed to be in the taper and yes, maybe my body needed rest if I was going through burnout, but whatever the case, training for this marathon has been the most dedicated I've ever been to any endeavor in my life. I have spent almost 3 months training and I can't blow that all now. 

So for this week, I'm trying to find motivation in what I've already done. I've accomplished a lot and even though I have to taper off my training now, I still need to give the training I do have my all. And as embarrassing as it is to publicly post below-training plan mileage two weeks in a row, knowing that I do publicly admit my failures as well as all of the successes I've had during this marathon journey is also great motivation for this week. 

From now on, anytime I get stuck in a project, I'm definitely going to think of this lyric. It was so simple and yet so hard-hitting for me last night. It's true. Who wants to be someone who can't live up to what they've already accomplished? 

5/13/13 - 5/19/13 Health and Fitness Stats: 
  • ran 2 days for a total of 12.8 miles 

Looking Swell


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Swell.com has been my absolute favorite store and go-to for clothes ever since I got my first credit card 9 years ago.  I would say at least 60% of my wardrobe is from their store (including the RVCA sweater I'm wearing at work today.... and the Steve Madden boots I have on) and of that 60%, a decent amount are as old as my credit history! With an easy, breezy return policy, a 10% cash back credit rewards program, awesome customer service and my favorite brands (Billabong, Element, BCBGeneration), Swell makes it easy to love them as much as I do. 

Right now I'm so obsessed with most of their summer catalog that it's dangerous. The five dresses above are just a portion of the purchases I've made from Swell in the past week and I've bookmarked at least a dozen more. I can't stop shopping for summer clothes! 

UnMotivation Thursday: Runner Burnout


Well to be honest, I haven't been feeling very motivated.

Take this post for instance. I'm posting Motivation Monday on a Thursday because I was putting off admitting something I feel really guilty about: I didn't do my final 20 miler this past Saturday. This past weekend was supposed to be my final push and my last long run before the taper and at Mile 10 my body and brain just gave up. I walked the two miles home, completely defeated. And I've spent the past several days avoiding admitting this. I wanted so badly to go into the taper feeling like I gave it my all in my final hard training week. Instead I feel like I failed. 

I don't know if it's runner burnout or boredom from my routes or the fact that my MBA class has started up again but I have just not been motivated to run at all. Every day it's a major struggle to go on my runs and when I'm running all I can think about is all the stuff I need to be doing for work or school or personal errands. I've completely fallen behind on all the house cleaning and projects since I started training and I feel guilty that I'm not doing that instead of running. Guilt and stress and exhaustion. That's how I feel going into the taper. That and scared that I'm not prepared for race day. 

Whatever the case, I'm officially in the taper, the home stretch now, and what's done is done. This week has been all about trying to stop my whining and just follow my training plan, even when I feel too exhausted to put on my sneakers. And next week, it's definitely back to bikram for me. If my body could talk, you would hear it screaming that it needs to do camel pose in a 105° room. Even though I should have been crosstraining all along (something I finally know to be true though I denied it for the past 2.5 months), I hope that doing almost no running and all bikram for the two weeks before the marathon will make up for it. 

2.5 months. I can't believe that's how long I've been training. This is the most dedicated I've been for anything ever in my life. And now I only have 2.5 weeks left. 

Time to taper.

5/6/13 - 5/12/13 Health and Fitness Stats: 
  • ran 3 days for a total of 25.6 miles 

March and April Reads


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Well. At this rate, it looks like my goal of reading 50 Books in 2013 is in trouble! The bad news is that over the past two months, I only got around to reading two books (I blame marathon training). The good news is that they were two really good books. :)

Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed - Last August, my favorite singer and fellow San Diegan, Tristan Prettyman recommended this book in an interview with Glamour. Since her stamp of approval pretty much seals the deal for me, I ordered "Tiny, Beautiful Things" within minutes of reading the article, without even knowing what the book was about. When it finally arrived, I was slightly disappointed that it appeared to be a self-helpy type of  book. Not in the mood, I shelved it. 6 months worth of dust later, I heard that Cheryl Strayed was going to be one of 2013's speakers at my alma mater, Hunter College. I remembered seeing the name somewhere, and lo and behold there she was, already sitting on my bookshelf. Since Hunter's Distinguished Writers Series is another bona fide stamp of approval, I picked it up and began to read. I think I finished TBT faster than I've finished any book of comparable size. TBT is a collection of the "Dear Sugar" columns from the The Rumpus, which Strayed used to write anonymously. Every letter she writers to her readers is more similar to an essay than an advice column and within each essay, Strayed tries to drive home core truths: Sometimes life sucks and isn't fair. You can't change people. But you can always choose happiness. More than anything else, TBT truly succeeds as a humbling reality check. 

Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer - I still haven't read a piece of writing that accomplishes as much in as little space as "Beginning, End," a short, short story that Jess wrote during her last year at Hunter and which was subsequently published in Granta. Like "Beginning, End," her debut novel "Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots" (which came out this past month), dives deep into the secret tragedies of relationships and is the perfect book to cuddle up with on these cozy, rainy spring days. It explores two private and isolated relationships: that of a mother and adolescent daughter and that of an older woman and her recently deceased husband. Jessica is masterful at exploring the insecure halves of each of these relationships through the eyes of the daughter and the widow and exposing the regrets and unexpressed needs that these women harbor. Lovely and haunting, TTWBA really makes you take a second look at the relationships in your life and evaluate whether or not your actions as a partner, daughter, sibling or friend are ones that you can be proud of, ones that will leave you with no regrets.

'50 Books' Progress: 5/50

Motivation Monday: Running Back to Where I Came From


I discovered that I was a runner during my sophomore year of high school when the running coach tricked me into joining the Track team. Needless to say I was skeptical. After all, running was actually my sport's punishment.

In an effort to recruit some bodies onto the dwindling running teams, he had caught a few of my soccer games, the sport that I had lived and breathed for 10 years, and decided that I had the stamina to be a runner. That spring, I went Track and I never went back. I quit the soccer team the following autumn and joined Cross Country and then helped him to start an "Indoor Running Club" during the off season in between. I ran year round and because my high school and my house were a quarter mile apart, all of the routes that I ran for practice were the same as the routes that I ran during summers and weekends. And every twang of adolescent angst that I had was worked out on those routes. 

This past week, I went back to Connecticut, where I spent the first 23 years of my life, for reasons that I'll cover in another post. Because I'm at the peak of my marathon training plan, I knew I would have to run my longest run ever while I was there: 20 miles. So last Friday, for the first time in probably 5 years, I laced up my running shoes, walked out the door of the house I grew up in, and just ran.

I didn't have a specific route or combination of routes in mind when I started, but my feet seemed to take over out of muscle memory. I ran through Easton and Fairfield and Weston and Westport, down all of the roads where I found freedom in nature and the quiet to think through all of the teenage drama that felt suffocating behind the walls of my school or my bedroom or the mall, where I worked all through high school. And as I ran, I revisited a lot of that. 

Running saved me in high school. It taught me how to be alone in a way that was empowering. It gave me a new way to digest all of the strong emotions that you get slammed with as a 16 year old kid. It helped me to find one of the only ways I was ever able to appreciate where I lived: running in the nature of Connecticut is after all, one of the most beautiful places to run. 

So I'm glad that I had the chance to go back there for a run in the middle of this crazy marathon adventure. I know deep down that it was probably the last time I'll ever run in Connecticut, and that made it all the sweeter. It was nice to go back to my roots as a runner, nice to have a gorgeous change of scenery, nice to breathe in some fresh air, and nice to remember why I began running in the first place. 

4/29/13 - 5/5/13 Health and Fitness Stats: 
  • ran 3 days for a total of 32.75 miles 
  • ran my longest run yet - 20 miles!! 
  • completed two full months of marathon training
  • logged 113 miles in the month of April!!!