Preparing: For a visit from my college girlfriend-turned-NYC roommate. On the agenda? Fish tacos, perhaps WowWow Waffle, and an al fresco meal at Buona Forchetta. She’s coming from chilly Chicago, so her main goal is to be outside as much as possible, and I can’t think of a better outdoor seating situation than Buona Forchetta’s string light-filled patio.
Eating: This freekeh salad. Since I was too busy to make a proper meal plan this week, I just made a pot full of this salad. Healthy grains are much needed after all that seafood, especially fried fish tacos, I had last week in Mexico.
Reading: Nothing. I have so many different projects and potential projects in the pipeline that all day my mind bounces around like a Plinko chip. By the time I have a hot second to sit down, I just want to clear my head and stare at a wall. It’s not quite meditation, but it does a mind good.
Watching: House of Cards, season 3 on Netflix. The plot points have gotten a wee unrealistic, but I still love it. Robin Wright is such a damn good ice queen.
Crying: About a sweet, dwarf golden retriever named Smiley who was born without eyes and saved from a puppy mill. Since his owner saved him, Smiley has become a therapy dog and brings so much joy to people in nursing homes and hospitals. Are you crying happy tears yet? Just look at his photo.
Packing for: Vegas! I’m headed to Sin City tomorrow on a work media trip for the opening of the new Omnia Nightclub. The weekend will also include dinner at the Michelin-starred Hakkasan (pinch me) and hopefully a Justin Bieber sighting because, get this, the Biebs is celebrating his 21st birthday at Omnia the same night we’ll be there. I’d probably be more excited to see Kate McKinnon as the pop punk, but sure, I can be a Belieber for a day.
Things probably look a whole lot different around here, and I’m so happy to share the new look for My SoCal’d Life! At the start of 2015, I felt the need to re-energize the blog—for myself. I was bored, uninspired, and knew the best way to shake it up was to give My SoCal’d Life a visual makeover.
First things first: a logo. I reached out to a talented graphic designer, Jess Jaime, whose work is equal parts precise, professional, and fun, as evidenced by this great logo she recently created for my friend’s blog, La Petite Winget. I told Jess that I wanted to convey a vibe that was beachy and colorful but not in an overpowering way and with a nod to vintage type.
A (secret) Pinterest board was created, an evening coffee meeting took place, and what resulted was this inspiration board that perfectly summed up the gibberish I spouted out to Jess:
We then went through a few rounds of edits—here are a few of Jess’ initial sketches—and decided on this watercolor iteration featuring her hand-drawn script. When I saw it, it felt happy and lighthearted but still polished. I’d like to think that that’s the spirit of this blog.
For my new template, I wanted to dial things down about, oh, 10 notches and go for a much more minimalist look so that the new logo and my photos (of colorful SoCal life!) could have some breathing room. I found this particular template via Blogzilla, which I highly recommend. Not only are their designs clean and professional, but after purchasing your choice online, the DIY installation is a breeze, thanks to their handy instructions. As a side note, I’m geeking out over the static navigation bar, which makes poking around the site so much easier.
The new look is mostly complete, but there are still a few tweaks to be made, so please bear with me during the process. Hope you love it!
After contracting some sort of GI bug yesterday, I thought I could get myself together in time for a post today, but it’s become abundantly clear that yeah, that ain’t gonna happen. I do feel much better than yesterday, when I had a fever, chills, and major body aches, but I’m still feeling residual weariness today. So excuse me while I crawl back into bed and go back to my Gatorade and white rice regimen.
Oof, this week was exhausting. Between too much time working on the computer and riding the emotional roller coaster that is self-employment, I think my brain is more tired than my body. I’m looking forward to a dinner date tonight with my boyfriend, a dinner date Saturday with my girlfriend, and a double dinner date on Sunday. Oodles of dates. Plus, as much as I love the loyal sunshine in San Diego, it’s supposed to rain the entire weekend and that’s good news not only for the drought-ridden state, but for me as well. We rarely get those days of gloom and drizzle, so a little imposed couch time and afternoon nappin’ sound downright luxurious.
Hope you have a happy one! Here are some reads to take you into the weekend:
Generally speaking, California, especially SoCal, is the land of flakers and people running late. This doesn’t bode well for me, someone who is insanely obsessed with punctuality. These six charts aptly describe by annoyance. (The Bold Italic)
This pineapple fried rice recipe is so dang good. (Cookie + Kate)
The new season of House of Cards has arrived! Here’s a fun (and grim) infographic about all the people Frank Underwood has backstabbed, blackmailed, manipulated, and/or killed. (Huffington Post)
How to brew the perfect cup of tea whether you’re drinking green, black, or loose leaf. (PAPER/PLATES)
Ten essential San Diego hikes. I still need to do Devil’s Punchbowl and Three Sisters, but I’m a little terrified of the latter. (UT-San Diego)
The remedy for dark under-eye circles? Red lipstick as a concealer. Yes, really! (Today)
I’m not usually one for quotes, but after seeing the above one-liner in a card from one of my best friends on Monday and then randomly again on Instagram yesterday, I felt like someone was trying to knock me over the head with its meaning. And man, is the time ripe for it.
I’ve never really had questioning years before. I almost always knew what I wanted. I wanted to go to journalism school; I wanted to study abroad in Australia; I wanted to move to New York; I wanted to work in the TV department at Entertainment Weekly. Hell, for three years I knew I wanted to do an around-the-world trip. Almost every year was an answer realized, which is certainly something to be thankful for.
But now this eternal planner is having a very unplanned last couple of years. The world of freelancing and self-employment is a tenuous thing. Where is your next paycheck coming from? Are you hustling enough? Did you network enough? Life can feel like a perpetual question mark, and I admit, it sometimes gets the best of me. It throws me into a deeper tailspin of questions: Am I doing the right thing? Can I survive with such instability? Will I see the light at the end of the tunnel? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
One friend recommended that I journal my thoughts to make them seem less scattered. Another reminded me that really, all of us are struggling with something. My friend who sent the card didn’t even know about my recent feelings of uncertainty, but she inadvertently woke me up to the realization that I don’t always have to have everything figured out. It’s a daunting thought for someone who likes things so figured-out, but I’m learning to roll with the punches. Succeeding sometimes, failing miserably other times.
Career, relationships, parenthood, what have you—I think this quote is a powerful one that extends wherever you need it. It’s helped me breathe a little more easily this week. Hopefully you find some solace in it, too.
Doing: Three fun writing assignments and finding the confidence to pitch ideas to new outlets.
Practicing: Yoga at night. I used to be really strict about going only in the mornings because I consider it a great day-starter, but there’s something to be said for winding down with a good stretch. I’ve also been feeling like come 6 p.m., my mind is bouncing around like an over-stimulated pinball, and evening yoga has been the only way to dial it down a few (hundred) notches.
As goal-oriented as I am, New Year’s resolutions used to feel so forced to me. But now that the new year aligns with our move-to-San-Diego anniversary, it seems more fitting to set a new intention for the next 12 months. It’s a time when I take stock of what I’ve accomplished, where I’ve faltered, and how better I can live this now not-so-new San Diego life. I have a bunch of resolutions on the docket, but here are three biggies:
Cook more, eat out less. I don’t drink, I’m not a concert-goer, I rarely go to the movie theater, and I definitely don’t shop much—so where is all my money going? Eating out. I had always thought I was so good about eating in, but after I looked at my last few credit card statements, I realized that all these lunch dates and dinner excursions are adding up. Part of that stems from the fact that I work from home and cabin fever is sometimes inevitable. I also try to justify extraneous grocery purchases—fancy tomato sauces or sesame oil that I’ll hardly ever use—by rationalizing that hey, I’m eating in! But I need to be less tempted; I don’t always need dessert and I shouldn’t snack just because I’m bored. I also need to plan non-dining activities with friends. The funny thing is I’m fortunate enough to eat out for free thanks to my day job as a freelance travel and food writer, so I’m certainly not deprived. I’m aiming for two (paid) meals out and 2-3 coffees per week. There are bigger things worth saving for in my opinion like travel (see below) and eventually, a house.
A trip or two. Everyone is all, “I want to travel more this year!” but I’m coming from a slightly different point of view. I’ve traveled a lot in my life. In fact, I spent 2011-2012 backpacking around the world, so I’m really not one to say I’m deficient in this department. But last year, we traveled only for weddings, to see our families, and one great but work-related trip to Palm Springs. For someone who spends her money on mainly just food or travel, I do feel like I’m missing out. Since both Eaman and I are self-employed, finances are not what they used to be, but I’d really like to save my pennies (see above) to go on one California road trip and one Hawaii trip. Or maybe combine those two to do something bigger like Cuba or Brazil.
A yoga headstand or handstand or tripod headstand or forearm stand. I started a regular yoga schedule last summer, and while I’ve seen progress in a few poses (crow and sidecrow), I’m still scared to death of being upside down. I think it’s rooted in my many years of classical Indian dance training, where the focus is about being very grounded. But I need to just get over myself. It’s really not about the physical. As many things, it’s all mental.
When you have a blog or are active on social media, there’s often this feeling of having to feed the beast constantly. Take a break? Take vacation? Hardly!
But actually, this time, I’m going to take that break. I’m going to take some time off from the blog until the new year (or maybe New Year’s Eve). Part of that time will be spent working, while the rest will be spent engaging in some G-rated fun, like watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, baking, hiking, long coffee dates, and more. Eaman and I were in San Diego last year during the holidays, and having that time in a fairly empty city felt like a staycation. We were forced to not think about work because no one was around. So even though we have to parse out some of that time for our to-do list (#selfemployment), we’re hoping to recreate some of last year’s fun and actually take a break.
Enjoy your holidays, safe travels, and happy holidays. I’ll still be around on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and I guarantee I’ll be spending more than a couple hours throughout the holidays on Pinterest with some gummy bears by my side. That’s my kind of holiday vacation.