this american life

What I'm Into Wednesday - Christmas Came Early

Last year we ventured to the faraway land of Cleveland, Ohio for Christmas celebrations so this year we made the executive decision to just stay home.

And while I'm stoked for a low key holiday, it was really nice to get to celebrate early with family as well. Angelo's mom, Vickie, came into town this past weekend and we did our Christmas celebrations with her, Domenica, and Mark. 

Pro-tip: always have baked brie at Christmas. Ain't no such thing as too much cheese. 


Part of my weekend that had nothing to do with Christmas was a workshop at MOSAIC yoga in Golden Hill. It was called Visualize 2018. I have to admit, I had completely different expectations for this workshop. I knew there would be an aspect of talking about the astrological predictions for the next year - but I thought that would be a very small portion. The name indicated that we'd be doing some goal setting, or at the very least, visualization and manifestation for 2018. I'd be lying if I said I was disappointed in the workshop as a whole. 

I know everyone has different opinions on astrology. I find it entertaining and I've always been one who likes to be like, hm that's interesting. But the most I read into it is as a way to get me thinking about myself and the world around me. To analyze - just like reading a book or reading a quote or hearing a podcast might do. Seeing it as a predictor doesn't resonate with me.

BUT, because we're all about focusing on the positives, part of this workshop exceeded all of my expectations - and that was Sophie's yin class. That woman is magical. I'll be going back to yin at MOSAIC as many Thursday nights as I can. 7:15pm for anyone who wants to/needs to join me in some serious unwinding, restoration, and renewal. The power of yin is real. 


Monday morning found me in the first week of my Boston 2018 training program. Holy crap, that came up fast. After 28 days off of running, I went for 2.5 miles on Saturday just to test it out. But the real fun began Monday morning with NP.

I was pretty excited to be back for this workout because it was at Park at the Park down at Petco - and working out here has been on my list ever since I was a leader of NP.

It lived up to it's expectation. It was beautiful, clean, and challenging - stairs, hills, and a bridge race. 2.8 miles later my butt was thoroughly kicked - man, coming back from time off never gets any easier. 


This week's podcast shout out is actually two weeks of the same story. This American Life took on "Our Town" - and the issue of illegal immigration. This two part-er examines life in rural Alabama during the 1990s and 2000s as thousands of legal and illegal immigrants flooded their town to find work at poultry processing plants. It looks at employment, crime, education, and most interestingly (to me) the attitude and interactions of the different demographic groups at odds in the town.

On a larger scale, they were looking to answer the very popular questions about how immigration (both illegal and legal) impact Americans. Does it really take jobs away from American citizens? Do immigrants cause increased drug use and violent crime? Do immigrants cost taxpayers money?

In our current political climate, I thought this was super informative and illuminating on the subject. 


So the second part of our "Christmas Day" celebrations consisted of a cookie party with some friends. Here's how cookie parties work:

Everyone makes a different type of cookie. You all gather and eat said cookies. Then you take a bunch of cookies home, swearing you won't want to eat them for a while because of your current stomachache. And then you wake up in the morning and eat cookies. 

When your friends are amazing in the kitchen, you know the cookies are gonna be good. And yes, yes they were. And yes, I've put a self imposed limit of 3 cookies/day on myself. 


Between the cheese in the morning and cookies at night, we figured we probably needed some real food.

Enter Mark to save us! Mark whipped up an amazing Thai dinner Saturday evening - and I swear I've never walked into a better smelling house.

Thai coconut green curry soup with mushrooms and peppers over jasmine rice and a papaya and carrot salad that was bomb.

Yay for veggies! Now to figure out how to cook that way. 

What I'm Into Wednesday - Travel November, Pt. 1

November shaped up to be a month of travelling, starting with the very first day. Angelo had to head up to Ventura for some nuun related business so Arlo and I decided to hop on the trip and turn it into a little day roadtrip.

We headed up to Ojai on Halloween, checked into a cute AirBnb, took Arlo adventuring on some local trails, and proceeded to enjoy the small town for the evening. The next day was all business - taking the drive to Ventura to pick up some stuff for nuun, shuttling it to Long Beach, and then heading home.

I love roadtrips and love that even work related road trips can turn into a quick night away.

More about what I loved on this two day adventure below!



One of the stops on our trip was a hike (of course). The hike was described as having a few creek crossings, but that was really all we knew (see below for more). When we parked the car at the trailhead, we realized you had to walk through some private land to get to the actual trail. That land happened to be a nature preserve - complete with goats, sheep, horses, and lots of birds. The bird area held chickens, roosters, and peacocks! They were absolutely gorgeous, and just feet away from us as we walked through. I had never seen a peacock with his feathers on full display (with the exception of maybe a zoo visit?) and we got to witness it here. Stunningly gorgeous. 



The hike itself was amazing as well. It's called the North Fork Matilija Trail. It weaves through forest, crosses a stream 5-6 times, has boulders and rocks and soft trail, and was the perfect fall feeling adventure. Arlo had an absolute blast crossing the stream (both swimming and jumping from rock to rock) and we enjoyed playing as well. The total hike is somewhere between 5-6 miles round trip. I'd love to go back and do the whole thing. We got through about 4 miles before running out of time. I highly recommend this trail!


Our Airbnb was just outside of Ojai and was surrounded by active ranches. It's not that I particularly like the smell of horses, but I do love the immediate feeling that you get when you smell them. You feel removed, away, and in the country. That was exactly the relaxing vibe we were hoping for when we booked the Airbnb. Living in a city lacks nature smells, so whether it's farm, or horse, or trees, or water - I welcome them.


For our one evening in Ojai we rounded up a few restaurant recommendations and ended up checking out Farmer and the Cook. This adorable organic, vegetarian/vegan friendly grocery store-meets-restaurant was perfect. The ambiance was hippie, the food hit the spot (the sweet potato lentil soup was bomb), and the people watching was perfect. Plus, dogs were allowed on the patio (always a win). But the true star of the night was dessert. They had a day old molasses cookie in the bakery case for $1 and Angelo and I took a chance. Holy cow, it was delish. Soft, chewy, rich tasting. Legit blew us away and overshadowed everything else. 


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Roadtrips mean podcast time. One of the podcasts I listened to on our drive was an episode of This American Life titled "In the Shadow of the City 2017". It was a fascinating collection of stories about interesting things that happen in the odd, far reaching, and dark corners of big cities - often right under the noses of residents, who never know. Give it a whirl. 


What I'm Into Wednesday - Bonuses

I consider myself to be lucky. I grew up in a well off family, in a good neighborhood. I had a good education and upstanding friends. This has all led to me being able to sit at 32 years old, at the kitchen table in my perfect cottage in one of the most expensive cities in the country, with my puppy underfoot, "working" - aka writing a blog. I find it important to remind myself that I am fortunate. That this isn't the normal reality for everyone. That it's a privilege, not a right, to be able to cavalierly share these random things I'm into with you all - for both me and you.

So in addition to the normal blog, this is also a reminder. A reminder that there are many whom are less fortunate than us. Maybe all the time, or maybe because of circumstances out of their control. We can, and should, help. How? There are so many ways. But this week I have just one suggestion: join us tomorrow. Thursday morning, 6AM, Law Street beach in North PB. Yes, it's a "free" run, but the suggestion is a $20 donation to the American Red Cross and/or that you volunteer or donate in some other way that speaks to you. We don't have to do grandiose things to give to others. We just have to do something. The fact that we can is a bonus for us, but it can literally change someone else's life. 

On to the silly stuff...


Quarterly South Park, the neighborhood in which my little cottage sits, holds a fun event called Walkabout. Walkabout is designed to showcase the neighborhood, it's shops, restaurants, and bars. Places stay open later, offer drinks and discounts, hold art shows, and serve as venues for local bands. People come in droves, complete with kids and dogs, to wander up and down the tree lined streets. To me, it feels nostalgic of a previous time in America. Where neighbors knew each other, people smiled on the sidewalks, and you supported your local businesses instead of big chains. It's a lovely event and those 4 days are some of my favorites of the whole year. Personal fav spots? Graffiti Beach, Kindred, and Cafe Madeleine


Many of you know that I'm currently 5.5 weeks out from the North Face Endurance Challenge Series California 50k in San Francisco. This is an amazing trail race and I'm so stoked to be running it again. For the past few months (since my road marathon in May, really) I've been all about that dirt. Generally speaking, my body does better on trails. Sometimes life gets in the way of the best laid plans. For the next 3 weekends I have Saturday and Sunday commitments that will keep me from being able to do any more long, long runs. The next week is a taper week. After that I'm running Ragnar Los Coyotes (as an ultra team... 30+ miles each). And the next weekend is the race. Soooo...what's a girl to do? Well, this weekend became about getting in one last long, uncomfortable, and difficult run. I took it to the road. Which sounds weird in prepping for a trail race, but hear me out. I'm comfortable with my climbing abilities. What has been my biggest struggle this training cycle is long, flat runs. They just beat me up. So that's what I went for. It. Was. Brutal. Which I needed. Luckily, many of my miles found me ocean-side through Bird Rock and La Jolla. I've learned to mentally accept tough runs like Saturday. And in turn, that let me enjoy the views (and their toughness). Onward.


I happened to catch a video clip on my Facebook feed of two girls talking about sage-ing and palo santo-ing their apartment. If you don't know, both of these practices are thought to cleanse the energy of the room or space that you clear with them. With both, you light them on fire (either a bunch of sage or a palo santo wood stick) and then use the smoke the fire creates to cleanse a room. We use palo santo frequently to clear out yoga studios between classes and I love the smell. I remembered that I had been given palo santo as a gift and hadn't used it. So I set to cleansing my whole apartment. I loved it. It smells great and the act of setting positive intention into a space was very meditative. Who didn't love it so much? The dog. He just kept looking at me like I was a weirdo. I might be, but I'm okay with that. 


Podcasts galore this week! I knew my long run was gonna be rough from the beginning, so I had prepped a few podcasts. Yes, I listen to podcasts instead of music when I run long and solo. Why? I feel like I'm having a conversation (or getting to listen to people having a conversation) without having to actually talk. And I get to learn something. This week I listened to a This American Life episode titled DIY.  It's from 2005, but it chronicles the story of a young man who was imprisoned in 1980 for murder. He spent 21 years in prison for this crime. But, here's the kicker, he was innocent. How did this happen? And who finally helped him get out? It was a fascinating story, with intriguing people, and painted a layered portrait of American in the 80s. Definitely worth a listen.


 I. Love. Grocery Outlet. Did you know a new one opened on 54th? Near west College/east City Heights. It's a good one! I frequent the "NOSH" aisles, which are where the Whole Foods overstocks (and other organic, GF, vegan, etc. items) can be found. Lately I've been stocking up on boxes of Mary's Gone Crackers. These babies retail for between $4-6 in the store but GO has been stocking them for $1.99. When a deal is that good, you have to stock up (since you never know how long things will last). Yesterday I also grabbed a box of Mary's Gone Crackers Ginger Snaps. Holy yum. Without being too unhealthy for you either! It's always an adventure at GO...and something good always ends up coming home!

What I'm Into Wednesday - The Bathroom Edition

I have a friend. Her name is Amanda. She's hilarious. We agree on most things. But sometimes we fight. Mostly over toilet etiquette. So, Amanda, this week is all about toilets and just for you!



Probably about a year ago I wandered into this adorable store in North Park called Simply Local. It's set up almost in small booths, each one owned by a different local vendor. There's fun shirts, cute jewelry, greeting cards, candles, etc. There was a section in the back with posters and graphics printed on t-shirts and tank tops. There I found the perfect wall art for a bathroom. A lovely little meditating man with the phrase "Let That Shit Go". Clever and punny, just my style. 


Bathrooms are not known for their fragrance. But a few years ago I was given a gag gift that has turned out to be absolutely perfect. It's called Poo Pouri. If you haven't heard of it or used it, watch this video. Here's the thing about it though: it's freaking expensive. So, being the resourceful human that I am, I googled how to make it at home. Ingenious! And so simple. You can make whatever scent you like and it works just as well as the fancy packaged stuff. You're welcome.


If we're being honest, this is where Amanda and I argue. How to put the toilet paper on the roll. My belief (my strong, correct belief) is that the toilet paper goes on the over way, not the under way. That's all there is to it. End of discussion.


Again, not another category that you like to associate with the bathroom. This one's not gross though, don't worry. I keep my vitamins in the bathroom and I'm obsessed with gummy vitamins. Hear me out. I know they aren't as high quality or potent as many other types of supplements and vitamins. But I will forget to take anything in pill form. It's a fact. But I won't forget to eat gummies. So I get something in every day to supplement what my diet might miss. And for me, that's good enough. My go-to? VitaFusion - multivitamins and calcium. P.S. Pro tip - they usually have them cheaper than normal at Grocery Outlet!



This has nothing to do with bathrooms and is just what I've heard this week that I like. On the podcast train again and digging This American Life. Specifically the episode titled "One Last Thing Before You Go". Two very poignant (and vastly different) stories about final words surrounding death. Yes, it gets a little emotional but I promise there's humor to balance it out as well. 

What I'm Into Wednesday - I'm A Planner

A little behind the scenes info - I write this blog post on Mondays (usually). So that means that as of the writing of this week's post I haven't yet gone on my solo day. Spoiler alert: next week will probably be centered around my adventure.

But here's one of the cool things about planning adventure. Often, just the planning is fun! I'm a planner by nature so deciding what cool stuff to do with an entire day off has been a blast. More on that later. Anywho...



I mentioned last week that I've been on a podcast list. So of course, this week's hear is another podcast recommendation. This week I enjoyed a This American Life episode entitled "A Not-So-Simple Majority." It was an in depth look at an interesting case of a school district battle in New York that, of course, was indicative of much deeper cultural issues. What brought them to the surface was a large population of ultra conservative Jewish people in the district, who don't send their kids to public schools, taking over the public school board. It was fascinating, gripping, sometimes sad, very frustrating, and eye opening to an example of the battle that takes place in different ways around this country every day. Give it a listen.


One of my biggest worries getting a dog was that our house would start to smell like dog. Enter the magic of Saje once again. Their diffusers solve all of my worries. I have two different assortments of scents and having the ability to pick, choose, and decide how I want my air to smell (and therefore my house to feel) is amazing. Plus, did you know they help purify your air? Over time the collect dust and other particles from the air, trap them, and let them fall to the ground. Sweet!!


When I go to the farmer's market I love to make the rounds and see what looks good that day, but I definitely have my favorites. And one is the hummus guy! You know the one - he sells both hummus and garlic spread. And while the garlic spread is to die for, it's the hummus I'm obsessed with today! If you've never tried the Almond Date flavor of Majestic Sprouted Hummus you've been missing out. It's sweet - which sounds like it would be weird (but isn't) - and has the best texture. I try to catch him either at the Little Italy farmer's market on Saturdays or in Hillcrest on Sunday!


This week is all about planning! Even just for a little day trip, I love sitting down at my computer, looking at a map, planning a route, researching fun (and off the beaten path) things to do, deciding where to have coffee, where to eat, and picking people's brains for suggestions. This week's adventures will take me to Orange County. And by the time this is up, I will already be back. I can't wait to recap the adventures and finds next week!


Speaking of finding fun things to do, I have to include my favorite website of all time. I'm obsessed with Atlas Obscura when it comes to finding weird, creepy, unique, fun, and unusual things to do in cities that I'm visiting (or even in SD). They have the best curated sights, museums, landmarks, and otherwise non-touristy stuff. Check it out, but be ready to spend hours perusing their site!