Last year I attempted to read 50 books and made it to a pathetic 11. I did however, identify and rectify the problem: I "needed" an e-reader. This revelation justified the purchase of an iPad last fall and since then, the books and I have gotten along swimmingly. So much so that I figured, why not attempt it again? I mean, go big or go home right? Thus, I welcome you to the first installment of 2014's attempt at reading 50 books!
The Secret History by Donna Tartt - Truth be told, this book took me almost three months to finish. It's long, sure. I mean, in print I think it's about 500 pages. But the main reason it took me so long to finish had nothing to do with the word count and more to do with the words themselves. "The Secret History" is about a group of bizarre college students in the late 80s who make up the Classics program at a bougie liberal arts college in Vermont (Bennington). A pre-med dropout from California transfers there and decides to worm his way into their Cool Kid Club and it's from this dude's perspective that the novel is told. There's a couple of sociopathic murders, some homoerotic experimentation, incest, an anxiety attack / nervous breakdown every ten pages, and lots of quotes from Ancient Greek. It's not that I hated this book per se. But I definitely think it reads like it was written by a young writer in their early 20s, which [spoiler alert] was how old Tartt was when she wrote it. In the pros column, there's just barely enough suspense to carry you through to the finish line. I read this in preparation to read The Goldfinch, Tartt's new novel which everyone seems to love. I can only hope that the 800+ page Goldfinch reads like an accomplished writer in their prime wrote it, which [spoiler alert] is how old Tartt is now.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - When I was 18, I worked in the music department at Borders Bookstore (RIP) and spent my days reading and listening to new music. It was essentially the perfect job (when I didn't have to pretend to alphabetize CDs while actually reading books that I hid in the displays). It was at Borders that I found "Looking for Alaska," Green's first novel, and one of the only novels that I can actually say literally changed my life. It was all because of one line: "If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane." That line punched me in the gut and made me fall in love with words all over again. I switched my major to English and thought about nothing else except becoming a writer just so I could attempt to do with words what John Green was doing. I could go on and on about how and why he's an amazing writer and influence, but in the decade since I first picked up LFA, it turns out Green has amassed quite the fanbase who could do it for me, and better. There are legitimate Green groupies (also called Nerdfighters) everywhere, young and old.
I stopped reading John's novels in grad school, because the psuedo-pretentious nature of an MFA program in Manhattan led me to forsake the author who inspired me to go there in the first place. Green's novels are considered Young Adult Fiction and that is Not Real Writing, so it's taken me longer than it should have to pick up "The Fault in Our Stars." I started reading it the day after I finished "The Secret History" and I finished it in a week. Sure, it's a short book, but the main reason I finished it so quickly had nothing to do with the word count and everything to do with the words themselves. ;) I could have finished it in a day if I had the hours to spare. In fact, the main difference between the books I read this month is this: there are some books that you try to read as fast as possible because you just want them to be over so you don't have to suffer anymore and there are some books that you read as fast as possible because you can't read them any other way, even if you don't want them to end.
This book gives you the feels and makes you cry (a lot) and is kind of a kick in the ass to remember what matters and helps you to realize that love is always worth the risk. It's another Life Changer type of book and I may eventually have to dedicate a whole other post to explaining how I feel about it. For now, I will just say that I can't recommend it strongly enough.
2014 '50 Books' Progress: 2/50
Last week we finally had the chance to go check out the newish Waypoint Public in North Park, which opened up in the vacant spot left by The Linkery. We only popped in for one drink and sat along their drink rail. I wouldn't recommend the rail for groups of more than 3 people... it was too hard to have a conversation. I ordered a Dogfish Head Namaste, which is brewed with orange, coriander and lemongrass and would have been perfect for a summer afternoon there when their garage-door-style walls are open.
I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere, which was far more family friendly than I anticipated. It was akin to Station Tavern, complete with a play area for the kiddos and lots of long tables that are perfect for families. The place stayed pretty packed while we were there and I was way into their mistmatched dishware and the fun decor. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to eat, but the food around us looked and smelled delicious. We'll definitely head back and give their menu a shot for lunch on a warm, sunny day.
3794 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104
Phone: (619) 255-8778
1. A blurry selfie of Ryan and I from the #SDGetFit party thrown by San Diego Magazine at Fit Athletic Club last Friday. This is about the only picture I could post. Things got cray. #openbar
2. Walking the dogs after a trip to the vet for vaccines on Saturday morning.
3. The adorable Lazy Hummingbird cafe in OB.
4. Love the idea of grabbing a mug off the wall and settling in for coffee.
5. Cozy seating.
6. My delicious Acai Bowl.
7. The dusk view from Heather's deck.
8. Sunday BBQ, featuring spicy black bean burgers.
Because my mom is a graphic designer who worked in print production and my dad worked for a newspaper, growing up I had a strong appreciation for the printed page. I love testing different paper stocks and the art of fonts and the nostalgia of stationary in an increasingly digital age. I am a sucker for the sentiment of beautifully designed paper products and I believe that they have the power to make things stand out, whether it's a business card or an invitation. Both of which, by the way, I happen to be in the market for.
I have been considering getting blogger business cards for some time now and am also ready to start shopping for baby shower invitations for two of my adorable besties, Bonney and Lou, that are welcoming their firstborn this year. So when I heard about minted I decided to check out what they have to offer and I was immediately taken with their site and beautiful designs.
From Valentine's Day cards to calendars to Save the Dates to art prints, minted has a pretty huge selection of paper goods all with designs from independent artists. Not to mention, they have a wide variety of customizable options like borders, paper stock and colors. I've been browsing their baby shower invites and these are the ones I like the best so far.
To me, minted means not having to sacrifice originality or design for quality paper products... there, it seems you can get them both. I'm excited to try minted and I think the shower guests will be excited to receive one of these gorgeous invites as well.
What do you think? Have you ever used minted before?
About 6 months ago, I decided that Ryan and I needed to go on vacation. A real "do-nothing-but-relax" vacation. Because honestly? I've never been on one.
When you move far away from home, your "vacations" are trips back home to see family or attend weddings or to spend the holidays there. The flights are expensive, the days are far from relaxing and the PTO you get from work dwindles away before you know it. Since I moved to San Diego in 2010, we have our annual trip to Coachella, I've been to Vegas a couple of times for weekend trips and spent a weekend away each in San Francisco and Big Sur, but none of our getaways have been really, truly relaxing. So it was time.
At the top of my travel list? Sayulita, Mexico. Ever since I read about this small town in Foam Magazine years ago, I have wanted to go. When I first got to San Diego though, I told a few people about my wishlist destination and across the board the reaction was: Mexico??? Because of San Diego's proximity to Mexico, most people from here are kind of over it or their experiences with TJ have led them to believe all of Mexico is unsafe. Being a clueless East Coaster, I decided to put it off and put it off. But late last year, I put my foot down and booked a trip.
Why? Because according to the hundreds of American weddings that happen there each year, the professional surfers who call it their second home and Conde Nast Traveler magazine, it is totally safe and totally stress-free. Which is exactly what we need right now. And after a ton of research, we picked the totally gorgeous Playa Escondida resort to spend the last half of our week there.
So far, it's clear we made the right choice! It's been so easy to plan and communicate with them and the staff there is just incredibly nice and knowledgeable. We rented the Sol 3 which is a stand alone beachfront bungalow and based on their pictures, I am SO anxious to just get there and enjoy our hot tub on the beach!
As I count down the days to our February 9th departure, be prepared for lots of pre-Sayulita anticipation and shopping posts. In the meantime, I strongly suggest you go daydream on Playa Escondida's website and see what other gorgeous rooms they have to offer!
A long time ago, in a drunken haze far, far away, I decided that I wanted to run another marathon. The Carlsbad marathon to be specific, which is in mid-January each year. It's a beautiful course and draws a great crowd and should I ever decide to do a marathon again, I still don't know if I would pick this one. You know why? Because it's in January.
My logic behind this was, "I'll have an excuse for all the food I eat during the holidays!" and "I'll stay fit during the holidays!" and "I miss training for a marathon!" and "It'll keep me in shape for our vacation to Mexico in February!". All very notable goals. Unfortunately, with my current work/life/school schedule, they're just not very realistic ones. I have to be at work at 7am which means in order to complete my training runs, shower and drive the 20 minutes to Del Mar, I'd have to be up at like 4:30am every morning. Let's just not kid ourselves.
And by the time I got home each night this past fall and winter, it was dark outside. I would never consider my neighborhood dangerous, but it's definitely not a place I want to run alone in the dark. So I tried taking Banjo for a while, but then family came to visit, and after that the holidays took over. It was almost impossible to schedule in runs at a time that was safe and not pull-my-hair-out stressful. Something had to give. Last spring, it was my personal life. This time around, it was running.
I digress. Because this story has a happy ending, I swear! As the running gods would have it, after spending the past two months silently freaking out about my lack of training and realizing that I couldn't just switch to the half because it was sold out, I received a miracle at the hand of Jen over at Marshmallows and Margaritas. She was supposed to be running the half but got called away on a last minute work trip and was kind enough to accompany me to the expo to pick up and give me her bib. At one point during the race yesterday, I cried just thinking about how grateful I was. I get really emotional during races, ok?
Anyway, Jen is a lifesaver (and if you don't read her blog already you really, really should). So yesterday, I sucked up my guilt for not being prepared for the full marathon, drove to Carlsbad and ran what I consider to be my best half marathon yet.
Carlsbad was just absolutely stunning. It's a mostly flat and fast course, through cute neighborhoods and along the water and had a huge, enthusiastic crowd to boot. The runners were all so smiley and in such great moods and the signs were the most hilarious ones I've seen yet. Plus, one of my coworkers came out to run a mile with me and another cheered me on at Mile 11. It was a GREAT race and in my mind, I PR'ed (though the gun time of 2:30:21 would disagree... but I had my best, most consistent pace and was only taken out by an unfortunately necessary porta-potty stop).
At the finish line I continued my tradition of being the most ungraceful, dramatic finisher you've ever seen. Heaving sighs and tears, moaning, stumbling, messy gulping of water, throwing myself on the pavement, writhing and crying and generally looking like I just found out I lost someone close to me in a horrific accident. This is how I finish races.
As I was laying there, avoiding the stares of all the happy, painfully energetic runners around me, I thought... this is enough. Halfs. Not full marathons. I don't want to train for another full, I don't want to run one, I don't even know if I can right now since I'm fairly certain I may have exacerbated a fractured bone in my left foot. So, I've got some thinking to do before LA in March. More immediately, I have some icing to do.
But that's not all!
For those of you who have stuck with me throughout this neurotic, fairly lame race recap, and whom happen to live in San Diego, I would encourage you to check out the fantastic event that San Diego Magazine is putting together this Friday, January 24th from 7-9pm. The "Get Fit San Diego" party is a great way to start your night in the Gaslamp with hosted bites and complimentary drinks and is being thrown in honor of their new monthly "Move" column. You can check out the full list of vendors and buy tickets at the event page, but lucky for you, I have a second pair of tickets to give away!
To win the tickets, all you have to do is tweet the following: "I want to go to #SDGetFit with @SanBriego and @SanDiegoMag this Friday!"
I will pick a winner Thursday, January 23rd at noon PST and I'll see the rest of you this Friday night at the Fit Athletic Club downtown.
But wait, there's more!
If you don't live here in San Diego, it's probably pretty miserable where you are. In fact, today is commonly referred to as Blue Monday, aka the most depressing day of the year. By this point, maybe your fitness resolutions are taking a backseat to Netflix marathons and eating your feelings. If that's the case, I want to help get you (and me!) motivated again! First, go check out MeetTheMoment.com for some fitness inspo. Then, tweet me (@SanBriego) a picture of your workout this week with the hashtag #MeetTheMoment and I will select 5 winners to receive a Clif Bar gift pack!
Now get out there and get sweaty!
Some weeks are better off forgotten and this has truly been one of them. With all the craziness going on between work and school, even if I'd had the time to blog, I haven't had much happy stuff to blog about. Hopefully that's over now that a couple of things are out of the way.
The wonderful thing is, no matter how stressful life can get sometimes, being home always makes me feel better. Last night I came home from work and spent the evening relaxing with Ryan and the dogs. We grabbed a few drinks next door at the bar, went back home and hung out in the yard and lit up the chiminea (which by far is Ryan's best Craigslist find).
Our Christmas tree has been outside drying out for a few weeks and we decided it was finally time to burn it up while we had a fire going. Over the course of a few hours we cut off all the branches until all that was left was a twiggy trunk (which we're saving for a DIY project that I'll share soon!).
There was something nice about the cyclical nature of burning it up and watching it float off in sparks and smoke. For me, seeing all those discarded trees on the side of the road each year is such a sad sight and I'm glad we could get rid of ours this way instead.
It's Hump Day and if yours is going anything like mine, I bet you can't wait for the weekend. I snapped this picture of the crazy hanging succulent on our porch last night, just as the sunset was hitting it perfectly. It's flourished so much since Ryan brought it home and found a nice, sunny spot for it. For me, having it greet me every time I come home is a nice reminder to enjoy the simple things. So wherever you're
I feel you, America. Really, I do. I too have suffered through single-digit-and-with-wind-chill-it's-really-negative-8-degrees-out temperatures for years. I mean, now I live in San Diego and yesterday I drove home with the AC on in my car. But, I feel your pain. I promise.
So tonight, while you pile on layer after layer of everything you can find for warmth (coats, cats, tablecloths, rugs...) and wish for the love of god that there was some new TV that you could watch to take your mind off of the fact that your body is slowly shutting down, consider a little crochet project to pass the time. This is a pretty, lacy infinity scarf that I made for my brother's girlfriend for Christmas. They live in Boston (RIP).
This infinity scarf is actually perfect for beginners because it's super easy and fairly short. Not only will it keep you occupied for 3 hours or so, but it will also keep you warm when you're done.
- 2-3 skeins of thick yarn, preferably wool
- Size 9mm crochet hook (For thinner yarn use a size 6mm)
- Sewing/tapestry needle with an eye big enough for the yarn
My latest infinity scarf in the making
Directions (for beginners)
- With thicker yarn like Lion's Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, you'll want to make a simple chain of 23 stitches. This should measure about 10 inches long. If it's a thinner yarn you'll want to chain longer in 6 stitch increments. 29 or 35 stitches total should be the max. When you chain, make sure to keep the stitches really loose, otherwise this end will be tight and will make the scarf curl.
- Double crochet into the fifth chain back from the hook. At the top of the double crochet, make one chain, then do a second double crochet into the same chain at the bottom where you did the first one.
- At the bottom, count two chains from where your first pair of double crochets are, then double crochet into the third chain. Chain one, then do a second double crochet into that same chain at the bottom. Repeat this until you get to the end, so it looks like: 2 double crochets in one chain space, 2 chain spaces, 2 double crochets in one chain space, 2 chain spaces, etc.
- At the end of the row, when there are three chains left, skip two chains and in the last chain do one double crochet and then chain three at the top of it.
- Turn it around and double crochet into the middle chain space that you made at the top of the first pair of double crochets. This will be to the left of the hook (or to the right if you started it left-handed). Repeat this until the last chain space.
- Skip two chains at the bottom and double crochet into the third chain, which will kind of be on the side of the row. Then chain three. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you have the length you want. It should be long enough to loop around your neck twice.
- On your final double crochet, instead of chaining three, tie a knot and leave about 12 inches of yarn, then cut. With the tail and the needle, sew the ends together and weave in what's left.
- Ch 23.
- Dc into 5th ch from hook. Ch 1 and dc back into same chain at bottom. Sk 2 and (dc, ch 1, dc)*. Repeat * until the last ch. In the last ch, dc, then ch 3.
- Turn and (dc into ch-1 sp. Ch 1 then dc back into same chain)*. Repeat * through last ch-1 sp. Sk 2 then dc (chain will be on the side). Ch 3, turn and repeat until desired length.
- Tie off and leave about 12 inches of yarn to sew ends together. Weave the remainder through.
If you try this, let me know! You can tag me on Instagram @sanbriego. Stay warm kids!
Confession? I had no idea what a pomegranate actually was until last month. For years, I've bought pomegranate flavored things without actually ever eating a real pomegranate, though I've always imagined it to be like a nectarine or a peach on the inside. Juicy, messy, and soft.
That is incorrect.
It's not like we had them hanging from trees in Connecticut (did we??) and I don't ever remember anyone I know ever eating one on the east coast. Even though I've loved the flavor in my lip glosses and margaritas, I don't think I even saw one up close until I moved to California.
See, here in San Diego, they do hang from trees. In fact, there's a pomegranate tree in the neighborhood two blocks away from me. So a couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge and bought a few at Trader's Joe's. After a few minutes of contemplating whether or not to just bite right into it, I googled "How do you eat a pomegranate" and was more or less stunned at how wrong I was.
Today, I am home sick after a whopping day and a half back in the office (Little known fact: our office was the inspiration for Contagion). While I prepared a little snack for my afternoon of popping DayQuil and finishing a book on my iPad, I thought that I would help out my fellow pomegranate-phobes and make a short Intstagram video sharing my newly mastered methods.
music: tristan prettyman - "the rebound"
One of my favorite companies, Tiny Devotions, has a manifesto that drives their brand. It's their promise to themselves and their customers and it informs everything they do. And one of the things that I spent a lot of time thinking about during Couch Week was how I wanted to create a manifesto for this blog.
This will help to set the intention behind every post. Every DIY, every Taco Tuesday. Moreover, it comprises everything that I want this blog to be this year. A source of inspiration, a fun read during your morning Red Bull, and a salty kiss on the cheek when you're feeling down.
Today is the start of a new year and somehow we managed to conquer our hangovers and get out of the house long enough to take in this beautiful view.
Nothing beats the vibe in Ocean Beach and our day there set a tone for the year. It helped me to set my intention for this upcoming year as well: to keep things easy, breezy and bright, just like OB. But I always like to get a few goals down in writing, so here is my list for 2014.
1. Spend at least three days each month at the beach.
2. Finally, really learn how to swim.
3. Try stand-up paddle boarding.
4. Learn to play the ukelele.
5. Go to bikram at least 2x a week.
6. Pause more in the moment.
7. Smile at one stranger every day.
Let's do this 2014. I can't wait to see what you have in store.