Monday, March 26

beyond starbucks: curbside cafe

I've begun exploring north county a bit further with the help of my favorite local [and co-worker!] Johanna. Curbside Cafe is a legend in Vista and I could definitely see why. The staff is super friendly and fun, the atmosphere is very home-y and the food and coffee/tea beverages are some of the best in the area.

really freaken good iced tea [with sugar water!]

[mocha to die for]

 cinnamon bun the size of my head... i ate almost the whole thing*

california sando

local art


{*i don't recommend this... but it was absolutely the most perfect cinnamon bun ever}

Sunday, March 25

a brief recap of the weekend

My weekend started out not so good, due to an unfortunate car accident [that I caused. boo boo boo] which has left me carless and with a sore neck, but somehow, maybe due to the art of positive thinking, it definitely didn't end so terribly. I spent friday evening feeding myself, first with pizza from urbn, le duh, and then with cupcakes and tiramisu from Heaven Sent Desserts.

almost too pretty to eat... but clearly I ate it.
"when am i gonna need to cook tiramisu? am i gonna be a chef? NO!"

after the feast, i took a walk around my little 'hood... exploring all of the awesome galleries 
[this was one of my faves] 

 Today, despite my sore neck, was finally the hot chocolate 15k 
that I've been training for for months (9.3 miles)

this was clearly my motivation: chocolate fondue and goodies at the finish line.

amanda and i post race, pre demise

my first bib. pretty proud of myself!

backtracking a little bit, last weekend, lori and i created a craft club. which consists of me and 
her for right now. cuckoo clocks were our first project.

this weekend, we stenciled pillows. i used a quote from the best movie ever, garden state... 
the scene where sam tap dances is my absolute favorite [and the song that plays is pretty great too]

{hope everyone had a lovely weekend!}

Wednesday, March 21

i love days when...

I came up with this idea for a weekly entry when I was driving [and by driving I mean speeding through Vista like a crazy woman] on my lunch break. My sunglasses weren’t within my reach and I was only driving a couple of blocks back to work, but the sun was in my eyes and I could barely see. as I threw my hand up to block it, annoyed that the sun’s brightness was clouding my vision, I realized, "This is truly my only complaint today. That this day is TOO beautiful and in turn the sun is TOO bright.” Isn't that great? When you find yourself complaining about something so minute and petty, only to realize how much you really shouldn't be complaining about? So I decided that from here on out, once a week, I will post an entry entitled “I love days when…” to order to honor and appreciate the little things. That being said...

i love days when…
…my only complaint is that the sun is shining [too] much, and, god forbid, in my eyes.
…there’s no traffic on my commute home from work[!!!]
…i have something new, different and fun to look forward [cults tonight at belly up!]
...one suggestion at work is praised
...i feel completely content



{hump day! two days until the weekend!}

Monday, March 19

beyond starbucks: roast coach coffee bar

My second pick for the "Beyond Starbucks" mini series is Roast Coach Coffee Bar. located outside of Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park, Jenna from Marin County (!!!) specializes in pour over coffee... a first for San Diego! I haven't had a cup of coffee in about three years, but once I heard about this cute little stand, I knew I'd have to make an exception. Lori raved about it for a week before I finally got my butt out of bed early to check it out before work. Each cup is made to order [I'm talking beans are ground in front of you] and you can choose how much cream and sugar you'd like to add. For me, it was a lot. Oops. For now, Roast Coach is open Monday through Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eventually, they'll be open seven days a week AND eventually they hope to sell sweet treats too!

{warning: do not drink on an empty stomach... especially if you aren't a coffee drinker}
{that is all!}
{oops i lied:  3382 30th street, san diego}

Sunday, March 18

beyond starbucks: caffe calabria

In honor of New Year's Resolution #1, buy local and support local businesses, I've been on a mission lately to buy my iced tea somewhere else besides Starbucks. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the venti black iced tea lemonade [no sweetener] and I [guilty] have a gold card, but Starbucks is Starbucks and there are so many other options, local options, that provide the same product, but sometimes better! And almost always cheaper. My first favorite 'Beyond Starbucks' cafe is Caffe Calabria, located on 30th and Lincoln in North Park. The place is lively. The iced tea [ceylon] is 100% the best I've ever had AND they give you free refills. [do I even need to say it? If it's free, it's for me!] The baristas are super friendly and even though sometimes the line gets a little long, it's always worth it. Calabria has nommy treats like rugelach, mini salami sandwiches, bagels... the whole nine yards. and even though I'm not a coffee drinker, I've heard it's pretty darn tasty. 


I somehow don't have a picture of the iced tea... but it really is the greatest. though the tea and treats keep me coming back time and time again, I think the best part of this cafe is the people. On sunny days, locals will bring their dogs and hang out at the tables outside. When it's rainy [like today], people will sit for hours, reading a book, writing on their laptop or catching up with an old friend. Everyone always seems happy and friendly [probably because the iced tea is so good]. 
{3933 30th street, san diego}

Tuesday, March 13

passion

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about passion. Or maybe it's more appropriate to say that I've been feeling very passionate. It's something I've felt for a while: passion for my blog, food, travel, relationships, love, my kids in India, helping others... to name a few. Though to some, this "passionate feeling" may seem ordinary,  I find it somewhat unique. For those of us who are passionate about a certain something or even have a passion for life in general, I think we're lucky. and I also think we're the minority. So many of us just simply go through the motions, day in and day out, without really experiencing or living life. So many of us find things we like or care about, but finding a passion is often harder and at times, seemingly impossible. I know this because that used to be me. If there's one thing I could tell my high school self I'd say: "Someday, you will be blissfully happy and that happiness will come from you and your passions; not the guy next door or your absurdly expensive prom dress... but from you." I wish I could explain the feeling further, but I think this quote [and corresponding photo with some of my favorite people in the world] beautifully sums it up:

“Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping... waiting... and though unwanted... unbidden... it will stir... open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us... guides us... passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love... the clarity of hatred... and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we'd know some kind of peace... but we would be hollow... empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we'd be truly dead.” - Joss Whedon

{i could not have said it better myself}

Monday, March 12

seven layer 'crack' bars

This treat is one I've been making for a while. It pretty much combines every deliciously sweet ingredient that you could ever imagine. [Even for you skeptical nuggets who claim to dislike coconut, I can almost promise that even you will be convinced of these bars' crack-like powers.] I've heard them called seven layer bars or cookie bars. I like to refer to them as crack bars because they are truly addicting. They're easy, decadent and the perfect end to any meal.


Ingredients:
Graham crackers, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips,
shredded coconut, sliced almonds, butter &
can of sweetened condensed milk

Melt half of a stick of butter in the microwave. Using a large ziplock bag, smash 10-15 graham crackers until completely crumbled. Pour crumbled graham crackers and melted butter into the bottom of a pan to create a crust. Layer chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut and almonds. Evenly pour sweetened condensed milk on top. Bake on 250 degrees for 15 minutes [covered] and then uncovered until coconut and almonds lightly brown.

{Then eat them all. You gotta. They're crack.}

Saturday, March 10

katsuya opens in san diego (!!!)

I had been to a Katsuya back in the day in LA and when I heard one was opening here in San Diego, needless to say I was ecstatic. My mom's in town this weekend and I figured it'd be the perfect place to start our food-filled feastly weekend. From my previous Katsuya experience, though everything was to die for, I particularly remember the soft-shell crab being something to write home about. Even so, I was not prepared for the epic feast that was about to occur. This was most definitely the best meal I've had in a while. Every single thing we ordered [and we ordered a lot] was better than the next. From the green iced tea to the kobe beef skewers, I was in heaven. Though it's hard to choose which dish was the winner, I'm going to have to go with the miso-marinated cod. The fish cut like butter on the inside but had a semi-crispy and sweet layer on the outside. The asian-inspired flavors melded perfectly together and every bite of this delectable dish was like an explosion of happiness in your mouth. Call me dramatic ['cause I am] but it's true. This was the best dish i've eaten all year!!

interior... awesome chandelier 

soft shell crab

 miso-marinated black cod

almond-crusted scallops

kobe beef skewers

 mama bear

After finishing the best meal of 2012 [maybe 2011 too], we had to stop ordering food and leave [though I could have eaten everything on that menu]. I recommend a reservation as the newly opened Katsuya San Diego is most likely on the fast track to becoming one of the best restaurants and trendiest hot spots in the area. needless to say, I will be back soon [tomorrow maybe... just kidding... maybe...].


{kitties saying byebye!}

Wednesday, March 7

balance

lake tahoe | thanksgiving 2010

Balance is something that I’ve struggled with for a while, for as long as I can remember, actually. When I was little, I struggled [literally] balancing on the beam in gymnastics. As I got older, my gymnastics skills improved but I had trouble balancing my studies [I wanted to read and write only - go figure - and forget my multiplication tables]. In high school, it was finding a balance between relationships: a boyfriend, girlfriends, family and maintaining my relationship with myself. College, though a darn good time, was all about time management. balancing a job and an internship with sorority obligations, writing and editing the newspaper and oh yeah, that little thing called my business major and god forbid having a social life, clearly a priority. I conveniently learned to balance those "college things" just in time for graduation where afterwards, my entire life would change, yet again, and the balancing act would be...well... off balance. but this time, it'd be something I like to refer to as real life.

Now, in real time, it's balancing a full time 8:40 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. job with blogging [my passion] and cooking [my other passion] but also trying to incorporate working out [blah]… then of course trying to stay financially afloat.* It's keeping your head up when times get rough and you don't have your usual support system to pick you up. It's falling in love and miserably failing but realizing that you'll be okay, on your own. It's further strengthening your relationship with yourself all the while hoping to be able to check off some of your everyday "to-dos." 
*budgeting has never been one of my strengths. I find a way to rationalize every [mostly food] related purchase. But thanks to the everygirl, i'm learning! 

I think the moral of this story is that finding balance is a constant struggle. I'm not sure if anyone can ever say that their life is perfectly balanced. there's always more time you'd like to spend volunteering, more vegetables you should be eating or more credit you should be giving yourself. But I think striving for some semblance of balance - even if it's off balance - is something we should all attempt.


what's your take on balance? 
where do you strive? where do you struggle?

Tuesday, March 6

sauteed spinach and goat cheese lentils

I'd like to take credit for this recipe but I can't, because it's definitely not my own. It was invented by my best friend and other half, AJ [I'd link to her blog but it's currently under construction]. But anyways, this dish... though it may sound a little strange... has been a crowd pleaser at pot lucks, work events, date nights and family dinners. It's healthy, satisfying, easy, cheap and so dang delicious. It's great as a side to any chicken or fish dish... or it can be eaten as the main course. [versatile too!] Seriously, I can't say enough good things about it. So without further adieu, behold blogger world... THE recipe.


Ingredients:
Steamed lentils [Trader Joe's], garlic, spinach,
olive oil, salt, pepper & goat cheese

In a medium skillet, heat a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and crushed garlic over medium heat. Add a half of a bag of spinach [or more] and sautee with crushed garlic until spinach is wilted. Season lentils with salt and pepper and in a separate bowl, heat for three minutes.Add wilted spinach and however much goat cheese you like. Mix and serve!


{FEAST}

Monday, March 5

feast from the weekend: joshua tree

After an incredibly memorable night camping in Joshua Tree National Park, we started our journey home to San Diego, but decided to make a quick pit stop at The Natural Sisters Cafe for some breakfast. Let's just say it was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.


the interior was adorably decorated with art from local artists


cute centerpieces on the tables

spinach, egg and cheese wrap with a side of the best yogurt ever

biscuits and gravy... enough said.

If you ever have the opportunity to camp at Joshua Tree, don't miss out on this fantastic cafe located just outside of the park in the city of Joshua Tree.

Sunday, March 4

joshua tree national park

Lately, my weekends have consisted of too much beer and food and lazy days on the couch [feeling terrible]. This weekend, I was determined to mix it up. Thanks to a little inspiration from an article I wrote at work and the companionship of a good friend, I jetted off to Joshua Tree National Park. Just about two hours from my house in San Diego, I was surprised to find this vast desert land covered in absurdly large rock formations and interesting foliage.

we started how any good road trip beings... with in n out at 10 a.m.

Besides the beautiful weather we encountered, there was something else that made this trip extra special. sure the rocks and the terrain were cool, and the other friendly campers contributed as well, but there was a certain freshness in the air and an aura that seemed to follow us around. Feelings of certainty, almost a right place at the right time kind of feeling, contentment to be out and away from the city and the hustle and bustle of everyday life and peace filled every moment that I spent at joshua tree.


Don't get me wrong, I enjoy vacations planned around fancy hotels and expensive meals, but strangely [or maybe not so strangely] this mini vacation was better. Maybe it was being able to see an area, so close to where I live, that was so baffling and strange that it was almost mysterious. Maybe it was the fresh air, the clear skies where more stars than we'd ever see in san diego were visible. Maybe it was cooking the best chicken [ever] over an open fire and finishing the night with s'mores. Maybe it was sleeping on the ground, feeling just a tad too cold, but being so happy and content that the cold didn't even matter. Maybe it was that we turned off our cell phones and vowed not to check the time so as to be able to fully relax and truly not have an agenda. Or maybe it was all of those things combined. Whatever it was, Joshua Tree National Park captured my heart and spirit and I cannot wait to go back.

creatively climbing through the rocks


peak-a-boo

]
a joshua tree




chicken and zucchini


ending on a sweet note

Though there's always a sense of sadness leaving an incredible place and trip behind, I still feel happy and so very grateful for the relaxing weekend that i truly enjoyed to the fullest. I think the natural high from this trip will keep me going for a while.

{hope everyone's weekend was just as good!}