#thirtyonederful (my life lately)

Happy belated Halloween! 🎃👻 I’ve been working on a post about our road trip to California, but it’s gotten so long that I think I’m going to have to split it into a few parts - not a bad thing, since we took a TON of pictures! Since that’s not finished yet, I thought I’d share some highlights from last weekend - including my 31st birthday!

Dinner at Cloak & Petal

My birthday was on Sunday this year (gross) so we decided to go out to dinner on Friday. We tried a spot in Little Italy called Cloak & Petal. This was a great date spot - there are huge (obviously fake) cherry blossom trees in the middle of the dining room, and they have large windows that open onto the street. It’s still a novelty to be able to enjoy nice weather in October, and since we were seated by the front windows we could watch kids walking by in their Halloween costumes! The food was very good - my favorite thing we ordered was the Cesar Chavez & Main St roll, full of spicy tuna, jalapeño & habañero. I love spicy sushi rolls and this didn’t disappoint! I ate it too fast for a photo but I have one of our oysters (also delicious) and my cocktail, the Absin-tea-ism.

We were able to try out a few other spots Friday night as well - pre-dinner beers at Bolt Brewery and a nightcap at El Camino afterwards, both just a short walk from the restaurant. I enjoyed both spots (love Bolt Brewery’s lightning logo, obviously) but especially liked the kitschy dive bar feel of El Camino.

Potato Chip Rock

On Saturday we got up early to check a San Diego bucket list hike off our list. We drove out to Ramona to hike up to this classic photo spot. We took a shorter back route up to the top, which was only about 4 miles round trip but was pretty steep. Next time I’d take the longer route from Lake Poway, which apparently has better scenery - but we still got some great views!

October 27th, 2018 - A view from near the top of the hike. So cool to live within driving distance of mountains!

October 27th, 2018 - A view from near the top of the hike. So cool to live within driving distance of mountains!

October 27th, 2018 - You can see all the way to downtown San Diego from up here (can’t tell from the picture, though).

October 27th, 2018 - You can see all the way to downtown San Diego from up here (can’t tell from the picture, though).

October 27th, 2018 - Nervous but excited to be conquering fears!

October 27th, 2018 - Nervous but excited to be conquering fears!

I was also extremely proud of myself for getting up onto Potato Chip Rock considering my fear of heights. The only way you can tell I’m super nervous is because I’m standing really far from the edge!

October 27th, 2018 - A cool sculpture in the Rashelica Winery & Art Garden

October 27th, 2018 - A cool sculpture in the Rashelica Winery & Art Garden

Afterwards we grabbed brunch in Ramona at Marinade on Main. Everyone keeps telling me that California is full of tiny, healthy portions… but the “salad” I ordered was more fried chicken & goat cheese than anything else! The portions were huge but delicious, and luckily we were super hungry after our hike! I thought I had some pictures but they seem to have disappeared, unfortunately.

On our drive back, we randomly stopped off at the Rashelica Winery & Art Garden because we were distracted by giant letters on the side of the road proclaiming ART. This place was pretty bonkers - we couldn’t even tell at first what exactly it was! A nursery? An eclectic person’s backyard? An outdoor museum? They appear to have a restaurant on site but the real highlight is definitely the enormous art garden with some truly strange sculptures, big chess set, and pretty plants. Worth a stop if you’re in the area for sure - it was free and there’s a parking lot as well.

Mac Sabbath at Casbah

Sunday was a pretty easygoing day because we had been out at a Halloween party the night before, but we made up for it on Monday night. We headed to the Casbah, an old-school rock/indie/punk venue in Little Italy. I liked it right off the bat - very divey and very small. Great place to see a show! First up was Franks & Deans, who cover Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra songs complete with a burlesque dancer (they are from Vegas, you can tell). We hadn’t really been expecting much but they were actually pretty fun to watch since I grew up listening to those songs.

But the real reason we went was to see Mac Sabbath!

This was so weird and awesome and I loved it. In case you can’t tell, they’re a McDonald’s-themed Black Sabbath cover band and they are bonkers - even their Wikipedia article is a real delight. The highlight is definitely the costumes and the stage spectacle (I wouldn’t say they’re really very good), but if you like Black Sabbath and you’re into weird stuff/Halloween/junk food, this is a blast. Definitely the most fun I’ve had on a Monday night in a while, and it was fun to check out a music venue in my new city.

Spooky Halloween Things

I did dress up for Halloween last Saturday, but because we moved recently and I’ve been a bit distracted, I wasn’t really super happy with my costume. I needed something low-cost and easy, so I ended up dressing as Mugatu. It turned out alright for a last minute job! I’m glad I got to celebrate my favorite holiday still, even though we’re not totally settled in yet!

October 27th, 2018 - the only real photo I got of my Mugatu costume :(

October 27th, 2018 - the only real photo I got of my Mugatu costume :(

We’ve also been spending most nights the last week or two watching the Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. I loved it! It’s creepy-scary (not gory at all) and I regularly ended up with goosebumps, and it’s a one-season show so it’s not a huge time commitment. It’s worth a watch even though Halloween is sadly over.

I’m planning on checking out the traditional Dia de los Muertos celebrations later today - being so close to Mexico it’s no surprise that San Diego is home to some pretty spectacular-looking parades & festivals. I’m hoping to bring my camera along - if I end up with some good photos, maybe I’ll write a separate post about that!

That’s pretty much what I’ve been up to lately! I’ve been feeling inspired by some "daily life” blogs I’ve discovered lately (my favorite is Sleepy Waldo) and since I’m mostly sharing this with family & friends far away/back in Chicago, I hope to do more of these kind of posts. I’ve been trying to remember to get better about taking photos, even when they aren’t Instagram-worthy or perfect. I’m also trying out a new meal-planning service that I have loved so I’m planning on sharing a bit about that as well. Definitely have more posts coming soon - maybe I’m finally getting into the blogging groove a little bit!

2017 book report

One of my resolutions for 2018 was to correct my lapse in reading. In 2015-2016, I steadily increased the number of books I was reading, meeting my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal each year. For 2017, my goal was 20 books. I failed to meet my goal for the first time in two years. 

For the last two years I've also put together a little recap of my reading activity, an idea I borrowed from my friend Erin at like/want/need. I've always enjoyed doing them, and in the spirit of my 2018 motto, I've decided to dive back into blogging with an easy start - my 2017 Book Report.

Past Book Reports: 2015, 2016

2017 Books.PNG

Seeing these covers laid out like this makes me cringe a little - because a good chunk of these books were audiobooks I have already read! It definitely throws into sharp relief how little reading I did last year. 

  • GOAL: 20 books

  • READ: 16 books

  • BOOKS BOUGHT AT INDIE STORES: 9 - this is the one positive from last year! Almost every physical book I read was purchased at an indie store.

  • FAVORITE: A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Predictable, but dystopias are my favorite genre and it was far and away the best book of the bunch. Honorable mention to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, my second-favorite HP book, and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry (Fredrik Backman).

  • LEAST FAVORITE: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. This was very much NOT a book for me. I read this for a book club I attended one meeting for and quickly realized I was out of my element and that I needed to find a different club.

  • LONGEST: The longest book I "read" (really listened to on audiobook) is an HP book for the second consecutive year - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 759 pages.

  • SHORTEST: An exact tie between What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell and On Love by Alain de Botton - both 194 pages.

  • FUNNIEST: Continuing with my theme of reading mostly sad, dark or serious books, not many funny ones in this bunch. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is the clear winner here, although I find Half-Blood Prince to be very funny in parts.

  • SADDEST: Honestly don't think I can choose one - a lot of these were quite sad. I guess if forced to choose I would say that The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan would probably be it. I need to balance out some uplifting books...

  • BEST COVER: Not a lot of great covers here. I always love the HP illustrated covers, but my favorite is probably The Association of Small Bombs.

  • WORST COVER: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - a boring cover for a boring book.

  • MOST OVERRATED: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek again. It astonishes me that this has 4+ stars on Goodreads.

  • READ OFF MODERN LIBRARY TOP 100: 0 - in my last book report, I said I needed to focus on this in 2017. So much for that... at this rate I will finish this list when I am 100.

  • READ FOR BOOK CLUB: 3 - I read the first two books for a book club I stopped attending, and I was able to join a great new club at the end of the year!

  • AUDIOBOOKS: 5 - the last two Harry Potter's and Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy. I genuinely loved listening to these series from my childhood and I miss them now that I've finished. I started on some embarrassingly nerdy and VERY childish series after that - I refuse to put them on Goodreads though...

  • GOAL FOR 2018: I decided to try to keep my same goal (since I didn't finish it last year). I'm already doing much better this year having read 6 books already!