#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!

a chicago summer

So I've been trying (and mostly failing) to write a blog for years. I guess this is the newest attempt? I've had an awesome 2015 so far and I'd really like to document it - plus I feel like writing a blog will encourage me to find interesting things to do (particularly in the winter) instead of just sitting at home and playing video games. Can you tell I feel awkward writing this? I feel awkward writing this.

It's officially fall and yes, it's cliche to say this, but I can't even believe the summer is over. After a really awful summer last year, this was the best one I've had in ages. Here's a quick recap of all the awesome stuff I did. Sorry for bragging. I'm lazy so I mostly used pictures from my Instagram but I'll try not to do that in the future.

Hockey playoffs with the best possible result. The Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons, and for the first time ever I got to go to a playoff game thanks to some work connections.  Actually, I got to go to two games - #spoiled - and they won both games. Clearly, I am good luck.

I saw a couple of great shows, including Riot Fest. First up, a concert at the Palmer House that was part of an event called Hilton@Play. I got invited through work (I work in hospitality) and if it's free and there's food I will BE THERE. It was actually supposed to be a Meghan Trainor show, but she got sick and canceled and frankly I'm glad because I'm not a huge fan. The replacements were Sydney Sierota (who is the lead singer of a band called Echosmith) and Andy Grammer, who I knew because of that one catchy radio tune. Sydney did an acoustic set which was very pretty but not really my thing, but Andy Grammer was really fun - very energetic and upbeat, poppy stuff.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, a friend had an extra ticket for RATATAT at the Riviera in Uptown.  This show was fantastic! I haven't really listened to RATATAT much since high school but since there aren't lyrics, all you really need to do to enjoy yourself is dance your ass off (which I did, despite the venue being about 1 million degrees even though it was September).

I think this year was my favorite Riot Fest ever, and I haven't missed one since I moved back to Chicago in 2010. It wasn't the best lineup I've ever seen, and the weather could have been better (nothing will top the first year they had it in Humboldt Park, which was glorious), but for the first time I had a big group of friends going AND I actually got to see Motorhead! It was a festival so I saw a lot of bands but my highlights were: Eagles of Death Metal, Motorhead (of course), Billy Idol, Iggy Pop, and the Prodigy.

I chopped off all of my hair and started focusing on my own happiness.  Those two things have nothing to do with each other, but they both felt very freeing. I had been spending a lot of time worrying about making other people happy, and it was fantastic to start worrying only about myself. And as an unexpected bonus, prioritizing myself meant that I had time to reconnect with old friends AND make new ones. I also got to spend a lot of time with my family and hang out with my brother and sister before they went back to school.

I got to travel... a LOT. I had not been on a real vacation since 2011, and then this year I went crazy. There was a long weekend in Seattle in March (I guess that's technically not summer but who cares). Then I went to Europe for three weeks in April. Wrapped it up with almost two weeks in Hawaii in August. I'll make separate posts about those though - way too much to share to include them in this recap!