Frenchy Comes to Town

While I’m fortunate enough to be living with one of my roommate’s from college (Kelsey), one of my other former roommate/teammate/and best friend, Sòlene, lives all the way in France, so I don’t see her as often.

In fact, the last time I saw her was back in May of 2017 I blogged about it, which you can read about fully here and here.

Otherwise here’s a quick recap of our last visits together!

Switzerland-2017

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Barcelona-2016

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Albany, NY-2016

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Unfortunately, Kelsey and I had to work during the week, but that gave Sòlene some time to explore Downtown SD, Cabrillo, Point Loma, and other places on her own.

Since she had an early flight to Boston on Sunday, we tried to pack in as much of San Diego as possible on Saturday. Thankfully, the rain let up–I mean, since when does it rain here????–so we enjoyed better weather the rest of the weekend.

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We did spend Saturday packing in as much of San Diego as possible. After a late night hopping around Pacific Beach and of course getting some dancing in, we headed to Philz for coffee and Snooze for brunch. I started the day with a sweet and creamy coffee (you MUST try it) and eggs Benedict.

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With full bellies below and sunny skies overhead, we made a trip to the Glider Port in Torrey Pines. I’d been once for sunset and had forgotten about the incredible views. We were mesmerized by the blue, lapping ocean and colorful gliders passing by. One glider even fly by to give us a few high-fives!

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Once that stop was complete, we made our way south to La Jolla Cove for some seal/sea lion watching. I’m not sure what was more atrocious: the smell or the people trying to touch the WILD animals for their ridiculous photos.

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Savoring the last couple hours of sunlight, we went sailing in Mission Bay with a group of friends. Without the usual crowd of people in the bay, our sail was calm and quiet. Though brisk, it was lovely to feel the wind on my skin and see the glow of the golden hour as the sun started to set.

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Little Italy was hold a tree lighting ceremony with vendors lined up the closed streets. We walked around looking at the lights, the plaza’s Charlie Brown tree, and the different booths set up. When our stomachs could bear the hunger pains no more our reservation was ready at Mona Lisa’s. We dined on garlic bread, minestrone, and gnocchi before finally heading home in a warm bliss to sleep off the busy day.

I’m so happy that Sòlene and I kept our promise to see each other at least once as year, and I can’t wait to see where we meet again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Venice Queen

After sleeping off all that buttery Thanksgiving food, I headed up to Los Angeles for the weekend with he who must not be named. Friday was a bit more brisk than I’m used to in SD, but thankfully the sun was out, making it a beautiful day to explore Venice Beach and the surrounding boardwalk. 

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We arrived in the Venice area around noon and headed straight for lunch at Green Leaf. Though I can’t get enough of Thanksgiving leftovers, I think my stomach gave a sigh of relief when I ordered the LA LA Bowl with quinoa, balsamic vinaigrette, smashed avocado, black beans, tomatoes, corn, kale tossed in vegan ranch and drizzled with vegan nacho aioli–yum!

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The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the boardwalk and exploring the nearby shops. The boardwalk was bustling with people. I was surprised at how big the area is compared to Pacific Beach with the basketball/tennis/whatever else you can think of courts and of course muscle beach. Even the beach itself was larger and way more scenic with mountains looming in the background.

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The people watching there was top notch, especially at the skate park. I could’ve watched the skateboarders roll around for hours, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I swarmed in to get a good view with the rest of the crowd.

IMG_0597As night fell, we headed to our home for the weekend in Manhattan Beach where I had one of my best dinners in California. If you’re in the area, then you MUST check out Manhattan Beach Post  for delicious local and foreign dishes.

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To start, we had the warm blueberry cornbread with smoke jalapeño butter and dill inside that added the perfect touch, marinated olives, in-house goat ricotta with smoked olive oil, and Cabacero de Iberico de Bellota Pura aka the world’s best pork from an acorn foraging, black hoofed hog.

Every bite and combination was both interesting and delectable. For the mains, we tried the Japanese hamachi sashimi that had a unique tomato and melon salad, and the dark rye pappardelle with boar sumo. All that good food plus the wine and great company left me feeling full and happy. 

Saturday was game day. No, really. It was the USC v. Notre Dame game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Our pre-game pregame started a Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach. The rooftop views allowed us to see all of the boardwalk and beach, while basking in the sun. Though the views were awesome, the service was the complete opposite. If you do want to grab a drink with a good view, then I’d still check it out for that alone.

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We also stopped down the street by The Venice Whaler, which is the only other restaurant/bar with a rooftop view in Venice Beach. This bar was way more relaxed and had a friendlier vibe. It’s definitely a good spot to catch a game.

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I’m not super into football, but the past few games I’ve been to have actually been fun…or should I say tailgates. This game was particularly engaging since #4 ND was getting smoked by USC. If you do follow football, then you know that ND did pull through and is now in the quarter finals. G’Irish!!!

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The weekend flew by and I was sad to leave, but a lot happier when I learned we were biking to Manhattan Beach for brunch. The bike was quick and helped make room in my stomach for The Strand.  I’m normally not one for sweets, especially for breakfast, but the stuffed french toast was calling my name (and the bacon). The challah bread was stuffed with huckleberries and mascarpone that I immediately devoured.

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After brunch, we walked around the pier for a bit, then biked back to the hotel. I thought we would immediately return to San Diego, but we made a stop in Newport Beach! I’d never been before and enjoyed walking around the quieter boardwalk.

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This perfect weekend ended with me slurping up a bowl of RakiRaki’s spicy kimchi ramen, while watching The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and then falling into a blissful slumber.

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November Noms

As basic as it may be, I’ve started tracking more of what I’ve been eating and snapping pictures. I like sharing it because I have found restaurant/dishes recommendations via blogs before, so my hope is that it will help someone else! And if not, I like remembering all the different foods and places I’ve tried. If that’s not for you then skip this little gallery! Otherwise, here are some of the places I tried in November.

Hash House A Go Go

With a lively atmosphere and heft portions, Hash House has topped my list for brunch in San Diego. I had the HH ORIGINAL, which is a whopping plate of eggs benedict, bacon,  tomato, spinach, and roasted red pepper cream that is phenomenal–I could probably cover everything in that cream–on top of MASHED POTATOES. Having mashed potatoes in a brunch dish is a dream come true for me.

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We also grabbed Bloody Mary’s–an original spicy for me and Johnny’s famous B.L.T. Mary. True to its name, you can actually build your own B.L.T. to enjoy, and it’s supposed to cure hangovers.

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Like most brunch places, the wait can be quite long, but you can spend that time exploring Hillcrest or grab a coffee from a nearby cafe.

Fireside 

Because what’s a weekend without brunch, right? Since Breakfast Republic–which I still love–had an absurd wait, we tried Fireside by the Patio. It wasn’t too busy and had a great vibe with the mostly outdoor seating. To our surprise there was a mouthwatering brunch buffet with many options that were hard to choose from.

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I went with the creamy cheddar grits, bacon, breakfast potatoes, and espresso rubbed brisket along with a salad and some fruit.  All of this was paired with my usual spicy Bloody Mary. This is definitely a great place for a large group to hang out, grab the food they want, and relax. You also gotta love the ability to go back for seconds!

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So I didn’t actually eat here, but I did utilize their build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and whipped up this cute little concoction complete with the classic skewer of olives and cheese.

Mein St. Asian Kitchen

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The Piazza della Famiglia is a new area of Little Italy that was recently completed this summer. In addition to a new plaza, fountain, and apartment buildings, there’s also a food hall with a handful of places to eat inside. I snagged a bowl of the spicy miso with fried tofu and enjoyed it outside with a view of the plaza.

Better Buzz

Give me all things avocado and toast. My family says “How California of you” to eat avotoast, but my love for it actually developed in Spain, drizzling olive oil on top of it for breakfast in the mountains.

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I know it’s simple enough to make at home–which I usually do–but I love the lemony taste of the toast at Better Buzz. I normally order the 3 SEED AVOCADO with feta (Avocado, sesame seed, chia seed, hemp seed, lemon, crushed red pepper & microgreens). My only complaint is that one piece is never enough!

Looking at pictures/reflecting on my meals has made me realize that I may have a Bloody Mary problem. I couldn’t stand them when I first moved here, but now an extra spicy bloody is my go-to.

 

 

 

November 2018 Favorites

Even though the year is almost over, these last few months have felt busier and busier. Looking back on November, there’s so much to write about, but little time to share it all. I think I’m going to start going through my monthly highlights to hopefully cover events, good books, movies, pics, etc. that I don’t get to share individually on my blog.

A Star is Born

If you’re looking for a good movie with a handsome man and voices that will bring you to tears, then go see A Star is Born. I fell in love with Bradley Cooper (even more so), Lady Gaga and their sultry soundtrack together.

Annie’s Canyon

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Before heading to the movies, I hiked Annie’s Canyon up in Solana Beach. It was an extremely difficult trek, lasting all of 6 minutes. No, really. It popped up as a popular hike in the area and the photos looked pretty cool, so I decided it was worth a trip.

The canyon itself was cool, especially the narrow parts the winded you through the sandstone. The hike though is super easy and the place was packed with kids, so if you like hiking with a hangover, then maybe avoid this place!

Surfing the Giants at Coronado

I finally set my fears aside and tried surfing. It was a little bit scary at first–growing up in Florida/my Dad humming the Jaws theme song when we’d go to the beach instilled a deep fear of sharks into me.

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After I warmed up to the idea of being in the ocean and possibly stepping on a sting ray, it was smooth surfing from there out. The waves at Coronado were relatively calm, but still gave me enough power to ride into the shore. We ended the lesson before the fog set in, which some random girl walking by happened to snap. Though my nerves have calmed a little bit, I do have to work up the courage to go again.

Camping at Big Bear

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A group of us headed up North to Big Bear for a night of camping in the woods. It was the absolute coldest I’ve been in California with the temperature dropping to 19 at night. We spent the remaining hours of daylight and most the of evening staying warm around the campfire.

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We had a yummy dinner of fajitas and some hot cider. When she wasn’t trying to run away from the fire, Artemis kept watch over us until she also fell also. It was nice getting out of the city for awhile and to see a clear sky of stars overhead.

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Like going back upstate, camping reminded me how much I take the calmness of nature for granted. It also reminded me how much I love NOT living in the cold.

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We had another campfire breakfast complete with bagels and lox–one of my favorites–then headed to a nearby trail to hike. Though it was just a night, the mini-camping trip was a great way to unwind with my friends–and take a break from the PB lifestyle.

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Thanksgiving

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It’s no secret that I love to eat, but I also enjoy cooking, which is why I gathered some of my friends who didn’t return home for the holiday together for a Thanksgiving dinner.

It was my first time cooking a turkey, but thankfully it turned out perfectly–and only took 6 hours to make lolz! Kelsey helped me prepare some of the other dishes (casseroles, stuffed mushrooms, cranberry sauce) and the rest of my friends brought treats to share as well like bomb cake pops, blueberry and brie stuffed filo dough, and corn bread.

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I also headed up to Los Angeles right after Thanksgiving, but that deserves a post on its own, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful

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How is it almost December, and Christmas, and 2019!? I know I’m not that only one who asks myself these questions, but it’s startling how quickly this year breezed by.

I mean, I’ve already been in living in San Diego for almost a year! It wasn’t too long ago that I was getting lost a million times and giving people blank stares when they explained which part of the city they lived in–oh wait, I still do that.

Maybe it’s the spirit of the holiday season or the after effects of eating too many mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, but I’ve been feeling very grateful for the time I’ve spent here so far.

Though I’m still trying to figure out my purpose/what I want to do in this lifetime (aren’t we all), I’ve definitely grown immensely in other areas of my life. I freed myself of a toxic relationship, claimed a newfound independence, and moved to a state I’d never even visited on a whim. I’m still writing, running, exploring, and doing all of the things I love. I’m making new friends, who are genuine, caring, and make me feel at home. I’ve kept in touch with old friends and the families abroad who I miss immensely all the time. I talk to my loved ones as much as I can, realizing that our briefs moments together are precious.

Like with most things, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the support of my family and friends. It’s not always easy or what I want to hear, but it’s honest and delivered when I need it the most.

No matter where I am in the world, I’ve never stopped feeling their support. They’ve shown me how much I can rely on them, encouraged me to strive for greatness, and helped me find my place in the world. Most importantly, they’ve shown me that I should never be embarrassed of my choices or mistakes, and especially not to look down on myself because of them.

This clarity has helped me gain more confidence in myself. I’m more driven to put myself first–in a necessary, not selfish way. I’ve focused on forgiving others and especially myself, so that I’m not holding on to things that will only drain my happiness. I’m not punishing myself for things I can’t change.

Of course, I’m not perfect, so there are days when I criticize myself about everything, let another person get under my skin or make silly mistakes, but I’ve learned to be more open, honest, and to seek the company of others who will support me and reinforce all the positive things I have in my life.

I know this all probably sounds sappy or like slew of inspirational quotes strung together, but when I look back on last November to where I am now, I truly am thankful.

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(Almost) Caught Up

Trying to catch up on blogging is really teaching me that I shouldn’t slack to begin with. November is almost over, but I still have to recap October. I would just skip straight to this month, but October held two very special events.

What I Did:

Headed Home

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Before making my way to Staten Island, I spent a quick three days at home. It went by way too quickly, but I’m grateful that I was able to visit my family and friends.

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I also found out that I have new chicken brothers..according to my mom. Meet Fireball (Not pictured: Chicken Little)

Weddings on Weddings

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I attended my first wedding as an adult, and then a week later a second one! The wedding was gorgeous and Katie looked like she was straight out of a fairy tale, walking down the aisle with Phil…that is until they broke out their WWF Wrestling belt and moves on the dance floor. Both of them radiated pure joy and love that I think everyone around them could feel that day.

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The wedding was also a great reunion for me where I was able to see friends and faces that I haven’t since college.

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May’s intimate backyard reception was held at a unique house hidden under trees and twinkling lights. From the honey wedding favors and the signature cocktails to the Baked Bear ice cream sandwiches, every last detail was well-planned and very thoughtful.

IMG_5042IMG_0013May also made a beautiful bride, and I was ecstatic to share this special day with another one of my friends. Her wedding reminded me how lucky I am to have met such genuinely kind people in my new home state.

Halloween

Have you ever even celebrated Halloween if you don’t dress up as the Spice Girls at least ONCE in your life?

Here are some photos to SPICE UP YOUR LIFE!

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What I Ate:

My food photos from this month are pretty weak.

Creekside Cafe

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If you’re in Trumansburg, NY and you don’t visit this place. You’re doing it all wrong.

AND I’M OUT

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Do You Remember?

And the saga continues. Here’s the September briefing.

What I did:

Labor Day Weekend

September kicked off with a packed Labor Day weekend showing my grandparents My grandparents had been traveling for a couple months across country. They started in Florida, hit up a bunch of different cities,  stopped to visit my cousin in Alaska, and then finally me in San Diego.

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We walked around Cabrillo National Monument, which has some of my favorite views in San Diego, then walked around Old Town exploring the shops before grabbing lunch. After a much needed plate of tacos, I took them to Coronado to see the Del and some of the views from the bay.

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While, I didn’t make the trop to L.A. with them that Sunday, we did venture to Tijuana on Labor Day where we did some more walking and stopped by the Telefónica Gastro Park before heading back stateside, so my Grandma could dip her toes into the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

Beer Olympics

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My friend Lisa celebrated her birthday with a beer olympics. Though the judging was rigged (cough cough USSR), Team Jamaica (us) stayed strong despite the beer washing off some of our painted on uniform.

Kaaboo

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Since there are no weekends off in San Diego, a group of us headed up to Del Mar for Kaaboo music festival. The line-up was fantastic, including the Foo Fighters (who sadly ended their set early before I could see them), but I did manage to fall apart at Post Malone. Image result for kaaboo 2018

My favorite performances of the festival were Big Boi, Imagine Dragons, Baby Rexha, TLC, and The All-American Rejects. I also discovered a newfound love for Quinn XCII or Quinn 92 if you’re (Roman) numerically challenged like myself.

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The post-concert silent disco also killed it as did the late-night trek back to our air bnb for pizza and headsup.

Jay-Z & Beyoncé

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Are you even the least bit surprised that the On the Run II concert was amazing? I already knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t realize how mind-blowing it would be until I watched Jay-Z and Beyoncé battle it out on stage.

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The 2+ hour performance exceeded expectations, taking us through their imperfectly perfect relationships with top individual hits, duets, and stunning visuals that resembled a 70’s movie trailer about the drug cartel. More personal footage was also included, showing their daughter Blue and twins at home with the couple. I went back and forth of who my favorite performer was throughout the concert, but they honestly both delivered an outstanding show.

 

What I ate:

Telefónica Gastro Park:

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Phils BBQ:

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We started Labor Day weekend with a stack of BBQ ribs at Phils–yum! (Thanks Insta for capturing what I didn’t)

 

Fred’s Mexican in Old Town:

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The Grass Skirt:

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Pork bunz @ Sunday happy hour (though I’m pretty sure the brussel sprouts gave me mild food poisoning–ugh)

 

Hammond’s:

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Not a great picture, but a super cute and yummy ice cream flight.