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Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, aka the unofficial start to summer! It’s actually a little bizarre because May and June are mayyyybe the worst weather months in San Diego: it’s been overcast, gray and chilly (by Southern California standards at least–temperatures are hovering in the 60s). Gray May and June Gloom!

It doesn’t exactly feel like time to break out the sundresses and sandals, but I’m still so excited: summer has always been my favorite season, and I’m especially excited to finally spend it on the coast. Beach days, BBQs, all of the summer produce: bring it on!

Life

When I was in college, my sorority’s charity was Ronald McDonald House: we made blankets and baked cookies, and in the grand optimism and naiveté of the young, I don’t think we ever thought that any of us would one day need the charity that we served. But early last year, I learned that one of the women in my sorority (not someone I knew super well, but a good friend of my close friends) had a baby girl who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. After spending the winter living in a Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis with their 1-year-old babe in chemo, baby Sloane passed away a few weeks ago. One of the things her parents are doing in her honor is encouraging their friends and family to join the Be the Match registry. It only takes a few minutes to join, and your DNA will be entered into a database to see if your bone marrow is a match to save the life of someone with cancer or rare genetic disorders. I signed up for my cheek swab kit earlier this week, and if you’re healthy and able: I’d love it if we could have even more people join the registry in memory of a baby girl who never got the chance to experience the rich, full life her parents dreamed for her.

Eats

Although I travel up to San Francisco pretty often, there were two spots on my list of highly recommended, highly Instagrammable places to go that had eluded me for a while. Alas! On my work trip this week, I found time to squeeze in dinner at Souvla and breakfast at Tartine. Both were absolutely fantastic, and I can’t wait to go back!

Souvla is fast-casual Greek with a few different locations in the Bay Area; I opted for a sidewalk seat at their tree-lined Hayes Valley location to enjoy my hearty salad of roasted white sweet potatoes, feta cheese, pickled red onions. And I couldn’t resist a tart frozen yogurt with sour cherry syrup in the super cute Greek coffee cup!

Tartine was worth the trek just to inhale deeply as you step inside: the smell of fresh-baked bread is incredible! And the strawberry toast was (as you can see) simply decadent. I need to figure out a way to time my next visit here to bring a loaf of bread home with me!

Reads

I usually don’t pay for wifi on my short flights up to the Bay Area, and take advantage of that hour or so of being disconnected to dive into a beach read. In my two days in San Francisco, I tore through Ghosted. IT HAS SUCH A GOOD TWIST (and another one!). That’s all I’ll tell you. Highly recommend for any short flights or long days on the beach you have coming up this summer.

Words

“The best book, like the best speech, will do it all – make us laugh, think, cry and cheer – preferably in that order.” -Madeleine Albright

This long weekend, we’re relaxing in San Diego! We have a tennis doubles date, and plans to catch up with some friends who are in town, but mostly, I want to sleep in my own bed and go to the dog park and see a beach sunset. 

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Is RTR Unlimited worth it? The short answer: yes! TLDR: I’ve been using RTR Unlimited for most of 2018, and although I was reluctant to try it, I’m now a huge advocate. It’s totally changed the way I shop!

Here’s the quick overview of how the service works: for $160 a month, you have unlimited access to the Rent the Runway closet of dresses, clothing and accessories. You can have four pieces at home at any one time and you can keep them for as long as you want: once you send one piece back, you can choose a new piece to be sent back to you. And if the below convinces you, use code CESTCHRISTINEPERK40 to get 40% off your first month (only for first time RTRers!).

  

As a packing hack

I’ve been using RTR Unlimited as a packing hack on recent domestic trips: instead of cramming my suitcase full, I have a RTR order sent directly to my hotel. Items are newly dry cleaned and generally less wrinkled than if they’d been packed in my suitcase, and can immediately be hung up. I drop the package off at a UPS dropbox or store before heading to the airport—or, depending the level of concierge at the hotel, leave it there to be picked up by UPS.

To experiment with new styles

I’m a style uniform devotee: I prefer to invest in a few quality pieces in cuts that I know will be flattering than buy a lot of on-trend pieces. But! The fun of RTR Unlimited has been that I feel a little freer to try out styles that I wouldn’t normally consider buying. I’m more interested in bright colors and funky cuts and pieces that stand out since I’m not as concerned with only spending money on items that are versatile, multifunctional and able to be dressed up or dressed down. It’s been fun to go a little bit out of my comfort zone! And it’s pretty low-risk: sometimes I order something that just doesn’t work, and I’ll just return it that day to swap it for something else to try. Similarly, it’s opened me up to designers I’ve never considered before—whether because I wasn’t familiar with them, or because the price point was higher than what I was comfortable with.

To visit different climates

When I moved to San Diego, I cleaned out my closet and got rid of a lot of sweaters, jackets and other cold weather clothes. And given the year-round sunshine in my new home, I’m not looking to spend my money on replacing them. That said, I travel regularly to San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest for work: climates that are often in need of a rain jacket or chic sweaters to layer. Instead of buying coats that would be worn only rarely, I just rent one for the trip.

To make every occasion feel like a special one

Although a friend’s housewarming party or a dinner date out doesn’t necessarily require a new outfit, I’m a little more inclined to find something new and fun to wear to just about any upcoming occasion with RTR Unlimited. I think this is particularly fun for me because I work from home. About 90% of my time is spent in Outdoor Voices leggings, Everlane tees and Allbirds, so when I do have a big client meeting or a party to attend, I’m more excited to actually get all done up for it!

To deal with the social media effect

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a huge reason why Unlimited is particularly compelling to me: the fact that I do like to share “outfit photos” on Instagram, and that I’m conscious of repeating the same pieces. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying it is. Having access to unlimited pieces for one price (even if it’s not exactly cheap!) makes more sense to me than buying a bunch of clothes that I’ll really only wear once or twice.

And lastly: although I’ve been using the Unlimited option, I am thinking about shifting to the recently introduced Update option: instead of unlimited access, you get four pieces per month for $60. I do get a little stressed out with “getting the most for my money” at the Unlimited level, so I’m constantly swapping out for new pieces—and I don’t always have enough events or reasons to wear them! Choosing four good pieces per month seems more in line with what I need, at a price point that feels better with my budget.

Note: Rent the Runway did offer me one free month of Unlimited, but I paid full price for the service for months before that offer and continue to pay full price now. Use code CESTCHRISTINEPERK40 to try it out! 

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After spending most of the month in New York City, we’re flying back to San Diego today! I was out here for a couple of work meetings in Manhattan and a company offsite in the Catskills, and it was so nice to have some time to catch up with coworkers, friends and family. I also forgot what it’s like to live in a hotel for a week: I am SO sick of eating out!

New York City obviously has some of the best food in the world, but I totally carb-loaded while I was here: I need a major break from bagels, pizza and pasta. I think I’m going to take the rest of May off drinking and try to limit my eating out: I hate swinging on such a crazy pendulum like this (big believer in constant moderation!), but I think a healthy reset is necessary before lots of summer travel. 

Drinks

Devocion was one of my favorite hidden coffee spots in Williamsburg: tucked away behind a nondescript black brick wall is a light- and plant-filled Colombian coffee shop. I was thrilled to discover that there was a similar unexpected oasis that recently opened in downtown Brooklyn. Such a beautiful space with incredible coffee, in a neighborhood that isn’t necessarily teeming with either. 

Looks

Current packing hack: using Rent the Runway Unlimited to get outfits sent directly to my hotel when I’m traveling. Although it didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped for this trip to New York City–I rented a bunch of super cute sundresses, and the weather ended up being far chillier and rainier than expected!–this dress was still a fave on one day when the temperatures heated up. Also: as David was taking this photo like the good Instagram husband he is, a older woman in a car parked at the red light behind him was calling out commands on how I should pose because ONLY IN NEW YORK! p.s. use code CESTCHRISTINEPERK40 for 40% off your first month of RTR Unlimited membership (only if you’re new to RTR!). 

Reads

I’m currently reading Educated: A Memoir, which I discovered through an interview with the author on Fresh Air. It’s the wild account of a girl who grew up in rural Idaho in a fundamentalist family that didn’t believe in birth certificates, modern medicine or school–and she somehow ended up getting a Cambridge PHD. It’s tough to read only because it’s hard to believe that it could possibly be real, and yet, somehow it is.

Words

“Ambition is the opposite of contentment.” –Tayari Jones, on Death, Sex & Money

This weekend, we’re back in San Diego! I am BEYOND excited to be sleeping in my own bed and eating in my own kitchen and taking my pug for walks in the park. 

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If you haven’t noticed via social media: I’m in New York City! I was out here last week on a fun little project with Southwest, and now I’m back for a few work meetings and our team retreat upstate next week. As opposed to the last time we were here, the weather is sensational, the trees are lush and blooming, and everyone is a good mood because the season for bare legs and sunglasses is FINALLY here.

As much as I’m glad to be living in San Diego, New York City will always have a piece of my heart–and it’s so fun to come back and catch up with good friends, go to our favorite haunts and check out all of the cool new spots. And most importantly: eat all of the bagels!

Drinks

I walked by a house for sale in my neighborhood last week, and noticed an orange tree in the yard OVERFLOWING with ripe oranges. I decided to take full advantage of this nearby bounty, and have been picking a few (OK, many!) on my morning walks with Gert and then squeezing fresh orange juice when I get home. Paired with a slice of sourdough avocado toast, it’s basically the California dream! The only downside is that I think it will now be impossible to enjoy a $6 glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice anywhere when I know I can get it for FREE at home (at least for a limited time!).

Reads

I’m currently working my way through A Little Life: it follows a group of four friends who met in college through their lives, and it’s extraordinary: completely compelling, but also incredibly sad and real and raw. I should also note that I tore through Castle of Water and I’ll be Gone in the Dark in the last couple of weeks, and both were two of the best books I’ve read in a while (although VERY different from each other). 

Looks

I got a haircut! I got new lipstick! I rented a shirt that had bottles of rose on it! I borrowed the most flattering pair of Levi’s from Aly! And I’m surrounded my cherry blossoms! Officially calling this a look in my happiest place.

Words

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” -Tom Wolfe

This weekend, we’re in Brooklyn! Top of my list: Skyting Domino, double pizza date at Lucali, catching up with as many friends as possible and enjoying the SENSATIONAL New York spring weather. 

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“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

The other day, I had a flight delay on a trip that already felt like it was going to be too short.

To be perfectly honest, for as much travel as I do, I’m not very good at handling the inevitable and uncontrollable issues that constantly arise in the process of travel. Things like flight delays, bad traffic, weather cancellations–things that are very much out of my control–can spark an almost primal response and put me on the border of a panic attack. Logically, I know that both I cannot control everything and also that my unreasonable emotional response isn’t going to change anything (other than cause my body a great deal of stress)–but I’m still not always great at accepting these things gracefully.

And so, when my flight was delayed, I immediately went into a spiral of this one thing has gone wrong, and now here are all of the other things that will go wrong. (To be fair, I was also dealing with a few technical difficulties that were out of my control that surely compounded my stress.) I texted my best friend: “Everything is going wrong, this weekend is going to be ruined.” She wrote back that sure, today might be ruined–or at the very least, sure, you might not be able to do everything you want to do today. But to be careful about taking that attitude into the weekend: because if I thought that the weekend was going to suck, then it would.

She was right. If I brought this downer attitude with me off the plane, I was going to waste not only a lot of energy but I was also going to prove myself right. I had to take a deep breath and leave behind the tears and the negative assumptions.

And so: the weekend ended up being incredibly fun. We packed a lot–activities, good food, catching up–into not a lot of time. Although my flight was delayed, traffic from the airport to the city was surprisingly light and I breezed through in a Lyft in half the time I thought it would take. The weather cooperated beautifully.

When I look back at how I reacted on the plane, I’m embarrassed. And I feel that way a lot in these situations! What feels overwhelming and joy-crushing at the time almost always seems like a minor roadblock in hindsight. They’re not just first-world problems, they can barely even be defined as “problems.”

The Henry Ford quote at the top is one of my favorites. I mostly think about it in terms of work: accepting challenges and turning them into achievements. But this weekend made me realize that it’s the same thing when it comes to managing my reactions and my emotions: if I let myself spiral, I’m going to spiral. But if I can realize the scope of the problem and focus my energy instead on finding a solution–or at the very least, understanding that I might as well just put that extra time into reading my book because there’s nothing else I can do about it–I can save myself a lot of tears and stress and find some peace instead.

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When my parents told me they were retiring to Arizona, I was pretty stoked: although I haven’t spent a ton of time in the state, I’m a big fan of the year-round heat and sunshine, hiking on crazy rock formations and prickly pear margaritas. So when The Wigwam reached out to me about visiting–and I realized the resort was located just 20 minutes from where my parents were moving–I was up for the opportunity to explore a new spot in an area where I’m about to spend a lot more time. 

And I’m so glad I did! I fully relaxed into the laid-back vacation vibes and enjoyed the sunshine, and can totally see how it would be the a super fun AND very easy warm-weather escape for solo travelers, couples, groups of friends or families. Without ever leaving the resort grounds, I took a tennis lesson, played foot golf (maaaaaaybe my new favorite game), had a facial, read by the pool, rode a waterslide, and ate and drank A LOT of good stuff. I already can’t wait to go back!

And unlike a lot of other hotels, I actually can. One of the particularly fun things about the Wigwam is that it’s not super pretentious about things being for “resort guests only”–not only are the incredible restaurants open to the public, but there are also memberships and day passes available for the spa treatments, tennis club, golf courses and pools. I’m already planning to take my parents for dinner at Litchfield’s, and to introduce David to foot golf on the Wigwam course (and maybe just stroll the grounds with Gert, since it’s dog-friendly!). Here are a few of the things that I loved the most during my stay:

Obviously, the #1 thing in my book was the DOUBLE WATERSLIDE. Y’all know I love a good waterslide, and this one was no exception! I get such pure unadulterated joy going down a waterslide, and I went down this one several times in a row (and several days in a row). It was the perfect way to cool off after soaking up plenty of sunshine reading by the pool. Pro tip: the covered one is a lot faster!

And, of course, a good way to make the waterslide even more fun: a poolside cocktail beforehand!

There are actually three (!) pools at the Wigwam. The Tower pool has the waterslide, cabanas, and generally, a pretty kid-friendly vibe–aka if you’re not traveling with kids, you miiiiight want to head over the Oasis pool. After Memorial Day, it becomes an adult-only pool–sometimes there is a DJ there, but in general, it has a more chill vibe than Tower. 

And the spa also has a private pool: if you book a treatment, make sure to schedule in some time to enjoy the serenity of a no-kids, no-music pool. I indulged in a facial while I was there, and in addition to thoroughly enjoying the treatment, I also love relaxing by the pool. Usually, I’m big on spending time in the sauna and/or steam room–but with 90+ degree temperatures outside, I figured I’d rather soak up the sunshine than have sweat it out inside. 

I started reading Castle of Water after I tore through I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Although they are VERY different books, both were totally enthralling and excellent options for poolside reading. I didn’t want to do anything other than stretch out with my Kindle on a chaise lounge and take regular dips in the pool to properly cool off.

I’ve played tennis off and on since high school, but I’ve been trying to get back into it since moving to San Diego. We joined the Balboa Tennis Club, but I don’t get to play as often as I’d like (David squeezes in matches with friends whenever I’m out of town!) and there are definitely a lot of places where I could improve. So! I was thrilled to hear that not only does Wigwam have a tennis club, but they also offer private and group lessons. I started one of my mornings with a private tennis lesson (definitely go early–it starts seriously getting hot by 8am!) and got in some good practice swings–AND some very actionable tips to improve my forehand. It’s a pretty active local tennis club, but still a great spot to reserve a court and squeeze in a game if you’re visiting. 

This was the first time I’d ever heard of Foot Golf: it’s a hybrid of soccer and golf, and it’s a really fun way to hang out with friends while doing something semi-athletic. It takes place on a normal golf course and has normal-ish golf rules (every hole has a par, etc.) but there are specific foot golf holes that are bigger (aka can fit a soccer ball). It was way more challenging but also more fun that I expected! Also, do not follow my example in the above photos: definitely would be easier in sneakers. I can’t wait to take David here to play when we visit my parents!

And after a rousing game of foot golf (or regular golf – the Wigwam has three 18-hole courses to choose from!), stop by Red’s to fill yourself up. We got to try out a paired beer and appetizer course, which is also something that will be on my list to bring David back to: deviled eggs, pretzel bites, IPAs!

In general, just such a big fan of all of the cacti and succulents and desert plants on the property! There’s a good amount of non-desert plants too, like rows of rowbushes and enormous fragrant bushes of star jasmine–but I’m always in love with those giant saguaros and prickly pears!

Can’t come to Arizona and not enjoy a prickly pear margarita!

The Wigwam is prepping to celebrate its centennial, and one of the coolest things about the resort is its history: it’s totally founded in those days of the wild west! The property is lined..

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One of the reasons why I blog is simply to have the space to write: getting things “on paper” helps me to process my feelings and organize my thoughts. I also love having a record of my life over the past few years: a place that holds all of my stories, my photos, the ups and downs of travel. But sometimes, I also just want to remember and share the little things that brought me day-to-day joy. Every Friday, I’ll give you a peek into the book I currently can’t put down, a great restaurant discovery, a fun new product or an inspiring quote: a few things that I think you might enjoy before we all take off into the glory that is the weekend!

On a whim (and maybe after a couple of glasses of wine) a few weeks ago, I decided to get a 23andMe Health & Ancestry Kit. My husband and I were chatting about health history in our families, and given my grandparents’ experience with cancer, dementia and heart disease, I was interested in the kit’s ability to identify variants and risks for certain diseases. Anyway! The four- to six-week waiting period felt like FOREVER, but when I finally got my results this week…it was so unsurprising and boring in the best possible way! Other than a slightly increased risk for celiac’s disease and a confirmation I’m likely lactose intolerant, I didn’t have any health risks (which is great!). And I’m also 100% European: no real surprise there, although I always thought I was a quarter German, a quarter Italian, a quarter Irish and a mix of Polish and British. Alas! Apparently, I’m almost 40% German, 30% Italian, and the rest a mix of Scandinavian, Iberian and broadly European. I don’t have any huge desire to do any deeper genealogy reports, but it is SO crazy to learn just how much of our health and ancestry can be found in our spit. Even though it didn’t end up being that interesting, I’m still so glad I did it!

San Diego

Last Saturday, I went to a free (donation-based) yoga class on a bluff overlooking the ocean while David surfed in the waves at Pacific Beach below. It was so beautiful and relaxing, and basically everything we dreamed of when we moved to San Diego last year! After that morning, we pinkie-promised that we’ll do that every Saturday when we’re both in town going forward: it felt like something that we would make a priority on vacation, and we feel so lucky that it’s part of our “normal” life at home.

Reads

No surprises here, but two of my major interests are Sacramento and true crime and when they come together, I am ENTHRALLED. I had a few friends recommend I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (knowing my obsession with both of those things), but it wasn’t until headlines broke this week about the Golden State Killer being arrested that I was finally spurred into action. I ended up reading the book in 24 hours before “breaking” the Golden State Killer news to myself and clicking on the headlines, and let me just tell you, it was a WILD ride. I wasn’t familiar with the Golden State Killer (or, as he’s known in Sacramento, the East Area Rapist) cases, but I mentioned that I was reading the book to my parents–and my dad, who grew up in Modesto and Sacramento, immediately recognized the cases (they occurred more than 40 years ago!). Anyway, the book is incredible: although the topic and details are grisly, McNamara writes about it in a way that is both direct and descriptive but also poetic.

Podcasts

One of my girlfriends recommended The Thread last week, and I totally binged the first season on a six-mile solo hike around San Diego this weekend. It’s a history podcast that traces current events back along the threads that tie all of these seemingly unrelated historic movements together: the first season connects John Lennon’s death to Lenin, and the second draws a line from the founding of MGM to the #MeToo movement.

Words

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” -Bob Dylan

This weekend, I’m relaxing at Wigwam Resort in Arizona! Think reading by the pool, playing tennis in the sunshine and enjoying plenty of desert sunsets. 

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Tijuana doesn’t exactly have the greatest reputation: I mean, who doesn’t remember the iconic episode of The OC where everything goes wrong in the seediest part of TJ?! Although Tijuana wasn’t exactly suuuuper high on my list of places to explore in Mexico (obviously, Mexico City was #1 and totally took the cake), it’s also fewer than 20 miles from San Diego and we’d heard rumors of a burgeoning craft beer scene.

So, we popped down with another couple for a Saturday of brewery hopping to celebrate a birthday–and although it took us some time to get our bearings, we ended up having so much fun! We went to three different breweries, one dive billiards bar, and a trendy restaurant for dinner. Bonus: it was all super affordable and so easy to hop around from place to place!

In terms of logistics: we took a Lyft to the border crossing (it takes about 20 minutes and only costs about $15 from the center of the city), walked across the border at the San Ysidro crossing (pretty quick and easy to cross over to Mexico) and then grabbed a taxi to the main drag of Avenida Revolucion (cost about $5 and took about five minutes). Overall, I’d say it didn’t take more than an hour from hopping in a Lyft at our apartment until we were sitting in a brewery with a beer in front of us! The biggest thing that slowed us down was that cell service was spotty, especially right on the border: I have a plan with AT&T that works in Mexico, but it took some time to get coverage on maps. We agreed beforehand that we all wanted to be back before dark, so we caught a cab back to the border around 6pm. It took a little more time to get back across to the USA, but thank goodness for Global Entry!

Before we totally dove into drinking, we stopped by Mercado El Popo and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I want to be more strategic next time about what ingredients I can bring back: I wasn’t sure what would be allowed in terms of liquids or agriculture, but this could be such a boon for spices and Mexican flavors. 

Our first stop was Mamut Brewery: there’s a great second story patio for prime people watching. It took us a while to find the entrance from the main street: it’s not super well-marked, but look for the long hallway with a mural to guide you upstairs. There are some food options available, mostly pizza and nachos: nothing incredibly good, but options to tide you over if you’re hangry (as we were, after a few wrong turns!). 

Another place that was a bit of a challenge to find (the theme of this trip is that nothing is exactly where you think it will be!) was Norte Brewery: located on the fifth floor of a parking garage, we were also a bit thrown off since it didn’t open until noon, and we arrived around 11:45am. We decided to wait out the opening, and enjoy the surprisingly good city views from the parking garage, and I’m so glad we did. The beer was fantastic–lots of good IPA options, all paired with raunchy English names–and the city views in the floor-to-ceiling windows were unparalleled.

Without a doubt, my favorite stop was the Teorema/Ludica Tasting Room: it had a super chic design (that wouldn’t be out of place in San Diego’s hippest neighborhoods), incredible beers (a blood orange IPA was next-level) at super affordable prices, and lots of games to choose from. We played a too-quick game of Jenga and a far too-long game of Uno, ha! Highly recommend this spot, and it’ll be #1 on our list when we go back to Tijuana.

Some quick background on this crew: we actually met through my blog (this post, to be exact!) and immediately bonded over a shared tennis club membership. Now Erin and I are in a book club together, and Cam and David either play tennis or pool whenever our book club meets. The guys spotted a billiards club out the window of one of the breweries, and insisted on checking it out. It was a definite dive club vibe, aka cheap tequila shots were in order!

Our last stop was La Justina for dinner: fantastic cocktails, excellent good, and a superb (surprise) dessert to celebrate Cam’s birthday. Although I don’t think any of the food was as good as Mexico City, this was a really fun and delicious place to stop before heading back to San Diego. 

More than anything: totally recommend a day trip here a) if you’re already in San Diego and b) if you love craft beer! We had so many grade-A beers at a fraction of the price of California, and all of the breweries had a great, low-key vibe. Can’t wait to go back and explore more!

Have you ever visited Tijuana? Do you have any questions about traveling there?
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One of the reasons why I blog is simply to have the space to write: getting things “on paper” helps me to process my feelings and organize my thoughts. I also love having a record of my life over the past few years: a place that holds all of my stories, my photos, the ups and downs of travel. But sometimes, I also just want to remember and share the little things that brought me day-to-day joy. Every Friday, I’ll give you a peek into the book I currently can’t put down, a great restaurant discovery, a fun new product or an inspiring quote: a few things that I think you might enjoy before we all take off into the glory that is the weekend!

After a few whirlwind weeks of travel, I took full advantage of my week at home: lots of extra-long walks to the dog park, reading an extra chapter before bed, eating healthy snacks and drinking the most delicious made-by-David coffee. I especially savored it because I’m gearing up for A LOT of travel in May and June. For day-job work, I’ll be popping up to San Francisco and Los Angeles–and heading out to New York City! For blog work, I’m heading to a resort in Arizona and back out to New York City. And for play: I’m going to London, Slovenia, Paris and Jackson Hole. Even though I’m a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of hours I’ll be spending on airplanes, I’m really excited to head back to some of my favorite places (helloooo Brooklyn, London and Paris!) and explore some new ones.

Beauty

After hearing so many good things about The Ordinary (and having a bunch of people recommend it on this post), I went a little bit nuts and bought A LOT of products to try out! It’s easy to go a little bit overboard because everything costs around $5 (as opposed to similar products being anywhere from $40 to $100 at Sephora). Although it’s still early days, I’m a big fan so far! I especially love Buffet for anti-aging, Salicylic Acid for acne (and acne scarring) on my chin, and the High Adherence Primer. Updated beauty routine likely coming soon!

Looks

I got to try out the new Everlane Day Glove and, oh man, they are SO soft and so comfortable. I will admit that I don’t totally love the top of the shoe (I prefer it a little closer to the toe, like a true ballet flat) BUT they are also the first pair of flats in so long that haven’t given me any blisters! When I’m traveling for work, I do so much walking so I usually bring a pair of Allbirds to wear when I’m not in meetings–but I think these will actually work for meetings AND walking. Stoked!

Drinks

Fun fact: San Diego county has more than 130 breweries, and it’s often called the craft brewing capital of the country. There are SO many microbreweries in our neighborhood, and I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface on trying them all out. Part of that is because we love Modern Times so much: you can do a lot of people (and dog) watching at the window seats, the decor is funky and quirky (a wall of floppy disks, a bar made out of VHS tapes) and really excellent beers. I love the Orderville IPA and the Fruitlands Sour, but it’s also really fun to do a flight and try out the seasonal options. I had one with strawberry and vanilla this week, and it was SO good.

Podcasts

Gimlet released three new shows this week (full disclosure: Gimlet is my day job!), and they are SO good. I’m especially into Sandra, a futuristic thriller starring Kristen Wiig. And Habitat is all about this crazy NASA experiment where six volunteers lived in this bubble on the side of a volcano in Hawaii to simulate life on Mars–true story! Both were binge releases, so I’m looking forward to working my way through them this weekend.

Reads

I mentioned reading An American Marriage last week, and want to follow up to heartily and thoroughly recommend it. I finished it in just one day! It’s completely enthralling, terribly sad and a perspective that we don’t often hear when we talk about the incarceration rates in the USA. i also thought the ending was really well done! I’m currently reading Florida, a set of short and engrossing stories set in that wild and diverse state.

Words

“Forever is composed of nows.” -Emily Dickinson

We’re staying in San Diego this weekend! I’m excited to try out this “hike” in my neighborhood and 

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Here’s what I love most about living in San Diego: year-round sunshine, laid-back lifestyle, easy access to beaches and hiking trails, a dynamic craft cocktail and microbrewery scene, and unsurprisingly, excellent tacos. And lucky for you: all of those things also make it a fantastic place to visit, even if it’s just for a quick weekend escape!

A few quick things to know before I dive into a million recommendations: the airport is located incredibly close to the heart of the city (when you’re flying in, snag a window seat on the left side of the plane to see the skyscrapers of downtown, or on the right side to see Balboa Park stretching out). If you’re only staying for a couple of days, it’s pretty easy to plan strategically and get around just with Lyft or Uber. If you want to do some exploring further afield (like hiking or checking out towns in North County), it might be worth renting a car–just note that parking is definitely limited in many neighborhoods. And the city is currently awash in options for on-demand bike, e-bike and scooter rental: download the LimeBike, Bird and Ofo apps on your phone before you arrive to take advantage. People are generally nice and helpful, and the city is overwhelmingly dog friendly if you want to bring your pooch along. And overall: the city is so much fun!

Where to eat

Your first stop after you land should be Crack Shack: located just two short miles from the airport, this hip al fresco spot features next-level chicken sandwiches, delectable deviled eggs and a full selection of local craft beers.

Located right next door to Crack Shack (both are owned by Richard Blais of Top Chef fame), Juniper & Ivy is worth making a reservation for and coming back all gussied up. It’s arguably one of the best restaurants in the city, with inventive yet refined offerings. Make sure to save room for dessert: the yodel is an chocolate explosion of textures and flavors.

One of our go-to favorites for a Friday night out with friends is Kettner Exchange: you can start the evening with a drink while watching the sunset on the open-air, second-floor patio, and then head downstairs for a dinner of New American share plates in the oversized booths. Another option is The Patio on Goldfinch: they have a great happy hour and a super dog-friendly front patio.

Although it’s no traditional ramen joint, Underbelly delivers on heaping portions and cool vibes. My husband always goes for the Belly of the Beast (complete with oxtail dumplings and beef short rib), and I prefer the Farmers Market with a rotating selection of seasonal veggies.

This isn’t anything fancy, but we regularly pop up to Poki One N Half for lunch or an easy dinner. It features affordable, make-your-own poke bowls and poke burritos: a nice option if you want something light and relatively healthy.

Of course, you can’t come to San Diego without tacos! The city is located just 20 miles from the Mexican border, so there are myriad choices for cheap, incredible, authentic Mexican food (and we’ve barely scratched the surface–please send recommendations!). A few of our North Park neighborhood favorites: The Taco Stand (simple and delicious, with multiple locations across the city), City Tacos (more inventive flavor combinations) and Lucha Libre (the famed “California burrito” with french fries in it). And although I’m not much of a meat eater, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the pork-centric tacos at Carnitas Snack Shack. Del Sur Mexican Cantina is another solid option for a selection of margaritas and Mexican food.

When it comes to breakfast, The Mission has been a San Diego standard for ages (we used to go here when I had soccer tournaments in the area!), and I’m still a big fan of the rosemary potatoes and strawberry granola pancakes. Breakfast Republic and Great Maple are other popular spots for egg-based meals and breakfast cocktails–go early, or prepare for a long wait.

The Rose is a laid-back neighborhood wine bar that also has a good selection of Spanish tapas and flatbreads.

An idea that I’m surprised hasn’t caught on more places: the ice cream flight! You can try a variety of flavors in small scoops at Hammond’s, and it’s pretty Instagrammable. And if you’re willing to commit to a bigger scoop of delicious-ness in plenty of crazy flavor combinations, Portland-based Salt & Straw recently opened an outpost in Little Italy.

Where to drink: cocktails

Located in the sometimes-gritty East Village, You & Yours is worth seeking out. The female-owned distillery specializes in vodka and gin cocktails (and tasting flights). And while the drinks are fantastic, the real star is the space: it feels like you’re hanging out in the living room of your most stylish friend.

To be honest, one of my favorite things about Polite Provisions is that it has cocktails on tap (my favorite is the Uncle Jalapeno: tequila, jalapeno and pineapple soda). Beyond that, the sun-soaked apothocary-esque space has an old-time charm  and bartenders who take the art of cocktail crafting very seriously.

It’s hard to know where to start with Kindred: there are just so many cool things! The first thing to know is that it’s a completely vegan establishment, drinks included. But don’t let that stop you from sampling: the BBQ sandwich is shockingly good. The decor seems to be pretty pink and feminine at first glance…until you look closer and realize that the custom wallpaper is carnivorous plants and fighting eyeballs.

Where to drink: beer

Quick fact: San Diego county has more than 130 breweries, and is widely regarded as the microbrewery capital of the USA. There is A LOT of good beer to drink here, particularly in the styles of super-hoppy West Coast IPAs and sours. There are breweries and tasting rooms all over the city, and most restaurants have a local-heavy beer list: try something new while you’re in town!

Try a flight of flavor-forward ales at Modern Times (tasting rooms in Point Loma and North Park): although I’m a big fan of the Orderville IPA and Fruitlands sour, I always like to sample a seasonal or something funky that they’re testing out. It also has a cool, quirky (somewhat relevant) decor vibe: a wall of floppy disks, a bar made out of VHS tapes.

A few other breweries with fun tasting rooms that are worth checking it: Mike Hess Brewing, Stone Brewing, Ballast Point, North Park Beer Co  and Mikkeller.

And if you want to try a variety of breweries in one beautiful historic craftsman home, The Brew Project has an extensive rotation of local brews on tap–and beer cocktails, and a dog menu!

Where to drink: coffee

Home of the Insta-famous “Coffee + Flowers” wall, Communal Coffee is half flower-themed coffee shop (think rose vanilla lattes, sparkling lavender lemonade and lavender honey toast) and half actual flower shop. If that wasn’t enough, it shares a courtyard with a nursery! It’s absolutely adorable, and home to good coffee and toast flights to boot. I highly recommend the half-sweet lavender latte, and also checking out their super cute trailer set-up in their location in South Park.

Better Buzz is a San Diego institution, with eight locations scattered across the city and North County–my favorite is the large, airy and super chic flagship in Hillcrest. Their speciality is the Best Drink Ever, which is a classic Americano with signature creamy vanilla–and I have to admit, it’s pretty darn good.

Located on bustling University Avenue in North Park, Holsem focuses on excellent coffee–with some unexpected flavor combinations, using ingredients like rose, orange and cardamom to spice up ordinary mochas and lattes.

The coffee at James Coffee Co. is top-notch, but I especially love the space here: it’s like a very cool curated garage, with a barbershop, home goods store and card shop.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters roasts their own beans, and has a pretty no-frills approach to good coffee.

Bird Rock Coffee places a huge emphasis on high-quality, fair-trade, ethically-sourced beans–and the effort shows in the cups of coffee themselves. Although there are a few different locations, I love the original in Bird Rock: it’s just a few blocks from the ocean, so it’s delightful to grab a mug to go and enjoy overlooking the Pacific. It’s also right down the street from Riffs Studio, a very zen option for outdoor yoga (I always feel like I’ve magically transported to a yoga retreat in Costa Rica when I take a class on the lush back deck).

Although it’s not quite coffee, Holy Matcha is a star when it comes to good drinks in a very pretty location: think lots and lots of pink and green in decor and menu items.

Where to shop

Pigment is the holy grail of gift shops in San Diego (and maybe the world). It’s a beautifully curated space, with a succulent wall (and a build-your-own-succulent station), oodles of adorable cards and fun party favors, and the perfect place to find a gift for anyone on your list (especially a stylish baby or a person who loves artisan cocktail fare). It’s also home to a very Instagrammable pink wall.

The next best thing to gift shopping in Mexico itself is popping into the super colorful and fun Artlexia: it’s a very cool space full of cookbooks, quirky home goods and fiesta decor.

Maven features a ton of goods from independent, local makers and fashion designers. The space feels very Scandinavian: airy, light-filled and sparsely stacked with only the coolest items.

Shop Good is a clean beauty store, buuuuuut it’s also super chic and cool and doesn’t smell like incense at all. It features a ton of makeup, skin care and other ingredients for self-care that are all clean and non-toxic. They also have a holistic spa for healing facials, waxes and steams.

For a solid selection of used and rare books, pop into Verbatim Books. And if you want to pick up something to bring Fido at home, Dexter’s Deli is Gert’s hearty recommendation for healthy homemade treats and plenty of toys.

Moniker General is a concept store that has great coffee in the morning, wine, beer and craft cocktails in the evening, and a expertly curated selection of lifestyle products to browse through any time of day. It’s located in Liberty Station in Point Loma: formerly a Naval Training Center, it’s now home to plenty of restaurants, cafes and shops to explore.

What to do 

Balboa Park is an enormous expanse of things to do in San Diego: the 1200-acre park is home to hiking trails, gardens, museums, restaurants, the biggest outdoor organ in the world and, of course, the world-famous San Diego Zoo. There are SO many things to do here, and I highly recommend making some time in your itinerary to explore. If nothing else, I love just seeing the Botanical Building and Lily Pond (especially beautiful at sunset) and enjoying all of the Spanish-influenced architecture of the museums that line the esplanade. We usually take out-of-towners to eat on the patio at The Prado (make reservations in advance!) and walk around the stretch of museums before or after–and maybe pop over to the Old Cactus Garden. The northeast corner of the park also houses the Morley Field Sports Complex, which has a tennis club and a pool that the public can use with drop-in rates.

The island of Coronado is a short drive or ferry ride away from downtown San Diego, but it feels like you’ve stepped into the southern Californian version of Pleasantville as..

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