#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. :)

#TacoTuesday: El Comal, North Park, San Diego


There is Taco Tuesday, which is about washing down "tacos" with drink specials alongside your best friends and then there is Taco Tuesday, which about celebrating the art of the taco with your best friends. Sometimes the two collide, but when they don't, you have a choice to make: great food or a gnarly (but inexpensive) Wednesday hangover? Recently, we chose great food and headed to El Comal, an inconspicuous authentic Mexican restaurant in North Park.

Truth be told, from it's tucked-away location on a side street and the outside appearance, I probably never would have stumbled in here. But I was determined to find a Taco Tuesday in North Park and when none surfaced, I opted for finding a great Mexican place in the neighborhood instead. When I called El Comal to ask them about any unadvertised specials, the man who answered the phone said their tacos were already priced very reasonably, so no, they didn't have specials. But, he added quickly, their tortillas were handmade and there was also a Groupon deal that was currently live. A Groupon deal!? #whitegirlproblems

When we arrived there were only one or two other tables that were occupied and a few people at the bar. It was quiet, but bright and cozy inside. In fact, over the course of the evening, I would say that it never got more than 60% full, but everyone there was having a good time. There was also a nice shaded patio that would have been perfect if it wasn't a little chilly out.

The Groupon included four house margaritas, eight tacos and two appetizers for $40, so we got to work immediately. Our round of house margaritas came out and truly, it was the best, freshest margarita I've had in a loooong time. We ordered the Queso Fundido, a cheese dip that I recommend highly, a Chicken Tamale and a Gordita Exotica, which included cactus. It was my first time trying cactus and it was interesting. It tasted a bit like a green bean with the consistency of a green bell pepper. Then came our tacos. We all tried something different and everyone loved their food. I had a chicken soft taco and a potato taco in a crispy shell and completely cleaned my plate. And the tacos ARE reasonably priced without any specials: most of them are $2.50 a la carte!

Ryan, me, Bonnie and Jason!

Everything about El Comal makes me want to have this be our default for Taco Tuesday. No waiting or fighting for tables, inexpensive but delicious and authentic Mexican food, beers for $3 and great house margaritas that are only $4 during Happy Hour (Mon-Wed 5-7pm, Thurs & Fri, 3-6pm), and really fantastic service (our server was so attentive and fun!). You can view the menu for yourself here, but you really have to try the food to understand why I'm such a fan. Next time you want Taco Tuesday without the stress, hit up El Comal and don't forget two magical words: Queso Fundido.

El Comal
3946 Illinois Street
San Diego, CA 92104
Phone: (619) 294-8292

Two Hours in Seattle


For as long as I've lived on the best coast, I've explored a surprisingly small amount of it. Truth be told, it's hard for me to leave this pretty little city of ours. Which is why, at the beginning of 2013, I actually made a resolution to visit three new places this year just to force myself to get out. While I can't really say that my trip to Seattle two weeks ago was of my own accord since I was there on business, I did force my sleep-deprived, travel-battered little body to take a 20 minute cab from Microsoft headquarters to downtown during my only free time at the conference.

Even though I only had a couple of hours to myself, I was determined to make the most of it. And so, after a day that started with a 4am taxi to the airport followed by a 2 hour flight then 6 hours of non-stop learning, I ventured out into the perpetual drizzle, hopped in a cab and headed to Pike's Place.

As cheesy as it was, I couldn't help but start my mad dash through Seattle with a visit to "the first" Starbucks. It was a simple, tiny store, that had very few of the hallmarks of a normal Starbucks and was packed wall-to-wall with foreign tourists. The most unique part about it is about to happen in the picture above: the cashiers toss the cups, orders scrawled on the side, across the store to the Baristas to fill each order.

While I was ordering my pumpkin spice latte, my cashier turned off the "Welcome and where are you from!?" charm he had used on the past ten customers after they ordered their coffee in various accents and gave me a look that said my American city-dwelling self should know better. I do, so I blame it on being both in desperate need of caffeine and amused by the novelty of being in the birthplace of my favorite chain. When they called my name, I elbowed my way up to the counter to grab my drink and quickly hurried out into the bustle of the closing stalls at Public Market.

Making my way up Stewart, I stumbled upon a cute antique shop and even though I knew it was dangerous, I ducked inside. I could have spent hours in there, but I limited myself to fifteen minutes, which was far more difficult than it sounds. Miraculously, I walked out with nothing but a craving to head back there the next time I'm in town.

The rain held off while I power walked through the city, with the Waterfall Gardens in mind as my destination. After doing some frantic pre-planning on Trip Advisor in the cab, the mile-long walk through the city to this little park seemed like the perfect way to enjoy my latte and see some other landmarks along the way, such as the moving Hammering Man sculpture outside the Seattle Art Museum. As I walked, the streets and hills reminded me a bit of San Francisco, but far less occupied.

In fact, the closer I got to Waterfall Garden, the fewer pedestrians I saw and the more nervous I became since it was getting dark fast. It's funny... you would think after two years of living in Manhattan that empty city streets wouldn't faze me, but apparently I've lost all of my edge living in San Diego. By the time I reached the gated entrance to the Garden, it was closed, something I wasn't even aware was a possibility: apparently my cab research hadn't totally paid off. I peered through the bars at what looked like a great space to eat lunch or read a book and then briskly headed back to 1st Ave, walking behind a guy dressed in camouflage with a patch on his backpack that read "I love guns and Starbucks." Good to know.

About two blocks into my walk back up 1st on my way to catch a cab to the Space Needle, a storefront caught my eye. The store, E. Smith Mercantile, was dim inside and almost looked closed but the door was clearly open and upon closer inspection, there were a couple of people inside, browsing through clothes. I went in, thinking that I'd catch a few minutes before closing time to poke around, and was greeted with the distinct sound of bar chatter. Walking to the back of the store, I glanced around a partition to find an awesome, itty bitty speakeasy-style bar.

There was only room for about 20 or so patrons, so I hopped on a stool, read through their list of craft cocktails and ordered an Opal, made of gin, curacao, orange and absinthe. The sweet bartender, Jessie, welcomed me to Seattle and chatted with me for a few minutes about the bar, which had only been open for a few weeks. The atmosphere was the perfect respite from my day and the only part of my visit that didn't make me feel like a tourist.

With 30 minutes to spare before I needed to head back to Redmond for a networking reception, I was nervous that the line for the Space Needle would be too long for me to get to the top. Luckily, it was quite the opposite: a private event was being held inside the observation tower so not only was there no line at all, but my ticket was also discounted. My ears popped on the short elevator ride to the top, which offered a gorgeous view of the city, the impending rain clouds, and the Puget Sound. I had enough time to do a couple of laps around the observation deck, take pictures for some tourists and enjoy the smell of rain before it started coming down. Then I stopped by the gift shop and took a cab back to my hotel to get ready.

In all honesty, while I'm pretty impressed with how much I was able to accomplish during my whirlwind visit, I wasn't that taken with Seattle itself. Maybe it's because I had enough rain and greenery in Connecticut to last a lifetime, but there wasn't much at all that I found appealing during my short stay. So if you live in Seattle, I'd love to know why. Of the people I asked there, the answer was always the same: the few days or weeks of summer each year that are just absolutely perfect make the often dreary days worth it. My guess is that in reality, it's the opposite, that those people are actually there for the rain.

On the plane ride home, I listened to Jaymay's album, "Autumn Fallin'" which is an entirely appropriate soundtrack for Seattle in the fall and pretty much sums up my mood during the trip. Even though I was only away from San Diego for 48 hours, it was more than enough time. As a fellow Emerald City interloper once said, "There's no place like home."

Restaurant Review: Vessel at Kona Kai Resort, Shelter Island


About four years ago, I made up a rhyme to help friends and co-workers remember my dining preferences: "Nothing from the sea for Bri." That jingle is everything you'd expect from someone with a Master's in Creative Writing, right? Whatever the case, it stuck and thank god. That little phrase has saved me from many an awkward situation at a dinner party or restaurant. Unfortunately the sentiment behind it has also prevented me from enjoying many of the beautiful restaurants situated around San Diego's bay and coastline: very few restaurants on the water here have appetizing choices outside of their coastal fare. That is, until I went to Vessel at Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island. 

By the time we arrived on a rainy Wednesday night, it was too dark outside to capture the beautiful views and natural light from it's floor-to-ceiling windows that Vessel has to offer, so my camera certainly doesn't do the interior justice. I love the distressed blue and white washed wood that lines the walls and the overall vintage beach style that inspired the design. Most importantly, the views of the marina and harbor are on full display from both the bar and the main dining area and there is plenty of outdoor dining space as well. 

Vessel had invited myself, Ryan, and several other bloggers and food columnists to enjoy a special dinner and so we received the star treatment from the moment we pulled up to the resort. Valet parked our car while the General Manager showed us to the bar area where we enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and some drinks. I ordered the Kentucky Buck cocktail with ginger beer and Ryan got a nice glass of the Layer Cake Cab Sav. A jazz band played in the lounge space in the bar and the singer blew me away with her voice. It was the perfect musical backdrop for our evening.

The team at Vessel had an amazing six course meal planned out for us with wine pairings for each dish. I can not even begin to express how impressed I was with the resort, the restaurant, the service and the event as it was, but Vessel went out of their way to create non-seafood dishes off of the prix fixe event menu for me. It was perfect because I got a chance to learn about all the dishes Vessel has for a turf-only lover like me. The first course was their Tomato & Burrata salad with onion, aged balsamic and jalapeno pesto. I devoured mine and Ryan's (you say, 'tomato', he says, 'no thanks'). 

As the evening went on we relaxed and shared in great conversations on our end of the table with some executives from Noble House Hotels, Britta from Edible San Diego, and Mary from This Tasty Life. The second and third courses consisted of a Tomato and Avocado Mole Tostada and an Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap. The second course also featured my favorite wine of the night, a 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Kim Crawford in New Zealand. 

A Mole Marinated Pork Loin and Braised Short Ribs in Carrot Puree made up the fourth and fifth courses and I have been dreaming about the short ribs ever since. The ribs were so tender and the carrot puree was so unexpectedly tasty. It was truly my favorite dish of the night. And then dessert happened. I have seven words for you: Whipped Cheese Cake and Warm Berry Cobbler. 

I can't say enough good things about our dinner at Vessel. Perfect for a date night, a celebration or a girl's night, Vessel provides stunning views, relaxing live music, and a superb menu for every palate. 

Kona Kai Resort & Marina 
1551 Shelter Island Drive 
San Diego , CA 92106 
Phone: (619) 221-8000

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a SkinAgain Giveaway!


Breast Cancer Awareness Month has taken on a whole new meaning for me this year now that I'm participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day 60 Mile Walk for the Cure here in San Diego in November. Now that I'm in involved with fundraising for Breast Cancer Research, I've been humbled by the number of stories that I have heard from friends, family, readers and co-workers about how breast cancer has affected their lives. And with each story, I am that much more aware of the desperate need for a cure.

When SkinAgain contacted me and asked me if I'd like to partner with them in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I immediately said yes for three reasons: 1. I love supporting local businesses and SkinAgain is located just up the coast from me in Carlsbad, 2. It's a female-founded, all natural, paraben- and cruelty-free company and 3. They're not only supporting breast cancer awareness this month by donating 5% of all proceeds to The Breast Cancer Society, Inc., they're also making products that can actually help women who are battling breast cancer.

The founder, Sherrie Berry, started the company after suffering from a chemical burn in her backyard. She was given a cream to help with the healing by a Swiss entrepreneur and soon realized that the product held exceptional potential for helping other women who suffered from burns. SkinAgain was born and its first product, the Rescue cream, does just that. Today, Rescue is the #1 leading product for post-cosmetic, post-hair removal and post-radiation procedures, as well as burns.

I'm excited to be giving away two full-size bottles of their Relief and Rescue products. Relief is the go-to for getting through these dry winters, when your skin gets itchy and red in the cold air. It can also help to control rosacea, something you might know a thing or two about if you've got Irish skin like me. Rescue is a a cure-all for everything from sunburns to post-wax or laser treatment to burning yourself on the oven while you frantically cook your Thanksgiving dinner. Together, these two creams work to protect your skin and are a must-have for your medicine cabinet! Oh and did I mention.... this is a $100 value?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Even if you don't win the giveaway, I encourage you to check out SkinAgain's other products like Youth, which diminishes darks spots and wrinkles, and Vanish, which works to reduce cellulite. And, throughout the month of October, you can use Promo Code: ILOVETATAS and receive 20% off your order! Plus, the first 30 customers who use this code will receive a pink jute tote bag as a thank you for helping SkinAgain to boost their donations efforts during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Save your skin, save the tatas and enjoy a discount while you do it!

Two Years


Two years! It's hard to imagine that I could be a part of anything in San Diego that's been two years long, because sometimes it feels like I just moved here. Sometimes it feels like I've been here forever. Over time, I have felt a lot of my past lives in NYC and Connecticut becoming very, very unfamiliar, like something I read in a book once instead of my actual history. This isn't a bad thing. I can say pretty confidently that I was never truly happy in those places. In fact, most of the time I was quite the opposite. Then I came to San Diego for vacation, and then a two month stay, and then a weekend trip and every time I was here I knew: San Diego is home.

And you know what they say? Home is where the heart is. Almost everything that I love about my life (including and especially the love of my life), I found in this beautiful city: Ryan, my dogs, my friends, my job (most days, haha), my house. I fell in love with running again here, I found bikram, I regained my confidence, I started writing again, at least in the form of this blog. All the parts of myself that I thought got beaten out of me by Manhattan and toxic relationships and bad memories and the challenges of my writing program.... they took a while to fix and restore but I feel like I did it. I feel like me, like the person I've always known I am supposed to be, for the first time. Oh yeah and me, by the way, is now one of those annoying people who tells you that you have to be able to love yourself before you can love someone else.

Another cheesy saying that I can't believe comes out of my mouth these days (and trust me, there's a few more coming)? I had loved people before but I had never even come close to being in love with someone until we were together. The exact moment that I realized I was in love with Ryan is still crystal clear to me and it makes me smile every time. All these people who had been telling me all my life "When you meet the right person, you'll know" were actually not full of it. I met an amazing, hilarious, intelligent, kind, patient, authentic, super hot guy who I just absolutely love the crap out of. To think, me sitting here in San Diego, saying this.... if I had told my New York self this, she would have laughed in my face.

We celebrated our two year anniversary last week on October 1st, with a little picnic out on one of the secret beaches on Coronado. We sat on a blanket on the beach on the bay and watched the skyline lights come on and drank wine and ate cheese and talked about this pretty city of ours. It was a perfect night, as are so many of the nights I get to spend with this guy, whether we're out with friends or just sitting at home with the dogs. I'm grateful to have spent these past two years with this man and so excited about the future.

When I think about how fast time has flown these past couple of years and yet how I can't remember life without Ryan, I can't even fathom what I would be missing out on right now if I hadn't worked hard to let go of my negative, pessimistic habits and become the me that I knew could exist. You know how it goes... add sun and water and it will grow. ;)

#TacoTuesday: South Beach Bar, Ocean Beach, San Diego


If you look at any "Best of Taco Tuesday" list in San Diego, Ocean Beach's South Beach Bar and Grille is likely in the Top 5, if not number one. South Beach is the ultimate Taco Tuesday. With a second floor where you can see the sun set into the ocean, tacos for $2.75, and crazy craft beer specials, it's no surprise how many people flock here after rush hour. Let me say that again: don't be surprised at how many people go to South Beach for Taco Tuesday.

Sure, the crowd can sometimes be a good thing. For one, it's great for the atmosphere. If you're single, it's better for meeting people. And crowds always say something about the food, which is pretty tasty. But for the most part, the crowd means that you have to have a strategy and your game face on. Tables are first come first serve, so expect a group of people to hover around your table as soon as they see the waitress hand you a check. On the same note, don't be afraid to hover over other people. Other tactics involve splitting up (upstairs and downstairs recon is suggested) and texting when one of you spots an open table or asking the waitstaff if they think any one of their tables will be finishing soon.

For all the hassle of getting a table at South Beach, the wait is worth it. And hey, sometimes you get lucky, especially if you go later, after 8:30pm or so. Plus, they recently started accepting credit cards so the hassle of their no cash bar is no more. I love Taco Tuesdays at South Beach and I love their deep fried zucchini tacos (pictured above) even more. South Beach is 21+ only so grab a bunch of your legal friends and thank me later for your hangover.

South Beach Bar & Grill
5059 Newport Ave #104
San Diego, California 92107
Phone: (619) 226-4577