How to Make a Perfect Cheese Platter

July 14, 2015

Classic or Adventurous: How to Make Two Party-Perfect Cheese Platters // My SoCal'd Life (photography by Pasagraphy)When my best friend turned 30, I got her a set of these West Elm cheese knives with this slate cheese board. Unbeknownst to me, she had already gotten me a huge package of fromage varieties from New York’s famous Murray’s Cheese for my own 30th a few weeks later. I realized that this cheese plate thing is like an entryway to adulthood.

Maybe it’s because—and I speak for myself and many of my 30-something friends—we prefer quiet nights in versus ragers, dinner parties versus bottle service. And when we entertain, we want to entertain at our best, and a sophisticated cheese platter is at the top of the list.

So I turned to the beautiful new Little Italy fromagerie The Cheese Store of San Diego for some advice on how to create a chic, design-minded spread. Together we created two options to suit every cheese lover: one classic platter, one adventurous platter. Read ahead for helpful serving and pairing tips from owners Aaron, Marci, and the whole Cheese Store gang, along with photos by my talented friend Chantal Pasag of Pasagraphy.

It’s party season—time to get your cheese on:
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around san diego

A Design Lover’s Guide to 24 Hours in San Diego

July 9, 2015

A Design Lover's Guide to 24 Hours in San Diego // My SoCal'd Life

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions from visitors and recent transplants about San Diego—where to eat, what to see, where to go outdoors. And I must say, I’m honored. In the mere 2.5 years I’ve lived here, my day job as a food and travel magazine writer has forced me to get a firm handle on this city in a short amount of time, and now I can confidently recommend wonderful parks to visit, restaurants to try, and shops to peruse through.

So I wanted to launch a series of San Diego guides that pay homage to the never-ending joy I get out of giving people recommendations. Here, the first of five guides for how to spend 24 hours in San Diego. (I know what it’s like to zip around this city in one day, so I was very realistic with how many things to do during those non-dormant 24 hours. At the end of each post, I’ll offer more options for the ambitious tourist.)

If you love mid-century design, art museums, Instagram-worthy cacti, and the like, you’re in luck. Today, I’m tipping my tour guide hat to the Design Lover.

Take a look:

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around san diego - San Diego eats + drinks

Neighborhood Watch: Cardiff-by-the-Sea

July 7, 2015

Acai bowl // My SoCal'd LifeWith a name like Cardiff-by-the-Sea, can’t you just picture a quaint beach community of surfers and free spirits? That’s at least some of what’s on tap in this North County neighborhood, and in the latest issue of San Diego Magazine, I rounded up eight more food, drink, and outdoor Cardiff picks.

You can read the full story here.

Photo by Sam Wells


monthly favorites

5 June Favorites

July 2, 2015

The Everygirl + My SoCal'd Life: 5 Ways to Get Active and Where to Refuel After1. The Everygirl. I wrote my first piece for the wonderful women’s lifestyle site The Everygirl, and it was all about my favorite things—the outdoors and food. If you’re visiting San Diego, these are 10 of my absolute favorite spots in the city. It’s a best of the best, in my humble opinion. read more


A Guide to Temecula’s Wine Country

June 30, 2015

Temecula travel Guide — SoCal wine country!Just one hour north of San Diego is Temecula Valley, the laid-back wine region that boasts more than 40 wineries. Its rolling hills and Mission-style architecture—not to mention loads of wine tasting opportunities—make for an amazing day trip from San Diego or L.A. I was grateful to be there for a few days for a freelance assignment, and in our 2.5 days, we fell in love with this slice of SoCal country.

Here are a few places you need to visit: read more

around san diego

The San Diego Summer Guide from A to Z

June 25, 2015

San Diego Summer Guide // San Diego Magazine

Outdoor jazz concerts, opening day at the Del Mar races, boozy popsicles, dog-friendly happy hours at the Hotel Del, and more—I rounded up a summer-tastic lineup of food, drinks, and events for the new issue of San Diego Magazine. You can read the full story here. (The concert finder is my fave.)

Photo by Jen & Bec

around san diego - Design + Interiors

The Best San Diego Home + Gift Boutiques

June 23, 2015

The Best Home Decor and Gift Boutiques in San Diego // My SoCal'd Life

Birthdays, weddings, barbecues—’tis the season for a party, and shopping at local boutiques has become my new favorite outlet for gifts that are equal parts thoughtful, unique, and often locally made. Here are my eight favorite spots in San Diego for something special: read more


How To Go Off the Grid in Cabo

June 18, 2015

The Non-Touristy Guide to Cabo, Mexico // My  SoCal'd Life, a lifestyle blogWhile doing research for our vacation, I realized that even though we wanted to go to Cabo—it was the most affordable, logistically-sound beach destination to fly from San Diego—we did not want to go to Cabo. Let me explain.

What I had found in Cabo were tequila-shot-chugging parties, massive/generic hotel chains, wildly expensive luxury resorts, and more often than not, a lack of availability given our last-minute planning. (I’m sure there are wonderful off-the-beaten path finds, like this restaurant I want to visit some day, but I couldn’t find many. I wanted to get really off-the-beaten-path.) I wanted something quiet, on the beach, and for $100-200/night. I was told that would be impossible.

But I prevailed! In a last-ditch effort, I looked up ideas on one more site, and on a map of hotels, I saw a star indicating a hotel on Cabo’s East Cape. As it turned out, it was the dreamy hotel Villa Del Farro, and this is where we spent a glorious 4.5 days last week.

Villa Del Farro is located on 12 acres in Baja’s East Cape—a sprawling mansion split up into individual accommodations with a breakfast room, pool, and the great outdoors to share. Owned by an extended family of siblings and their spouses, VDF has seven different casitas, each with its own decor scheme. The grounds of the property are lush like a rain forest, with the desert on one side and the beach on the other. Because getting there requires an hour’s drive on a dirt road—we rented a car for $4/day—and there’s almost no other sign of life in the area minus a few homes, it’s incredibly, wonderfully secluded. That means it’s also very much an eco-hotel and suited to a certain type of traveler. There are no power lines, water heaters (solar panels instead), or air conditioning (you’ve been warned!), and drinking water is trucked in from a local ranch. With the area’s iffy plumbing network, guests also can’t flush toilet paper down the commode.

That said, as long as you’re willing to handle a few glamping scenarios, the payoff is 100 percent worth it. Nay, 200 percent. The owners have paid such amazing attention to decor details, the breakfast (included in the rate) is huge and delicious, and most importantly, the area is so quiet and the stars shine so bright, that it was just the recharge we needed. The world is so big that I rarely say I’ll revisit somewhere so soon, but I can absolutely see us making this an annual trip. It’s a special place.

Take a look: read more