best of 2013.

2013.  what a ride you were.  i can honestly say you held some of the best & worst moments.  you were challenging and frustrating and trying and honest.  and yet, at the same time, you were surprising, full of new experiences, love, magic and most of all, growth.

i didn't document much this year- and that's okay.  i lived.  i embraced.  i forgave.  i moved.  i learned.  sometimes without even knowing it, i did what i needed to do.  and in the end, it made this past year perfect.

so adios 2013.  i know this next year will hold much wonder and joy- and for that, i'm thrilled.

christmas 2013.

christmas this year was magic.  
a. and i picked up our tree on a random tuesday night.  
we decorated our home.  
we visited brightly lit neighborhoods and ventured to festive events throughout the month.
we received holiday cards from loved ones near and far.
we made homemade kielbasa and wrapped presents.  
we celebrated christmas eve with our annual fondue fest.
we bonfired often.
we basked in amazingly warm san diego weather.
we surrounded ourselves with family and friends.
we opened presents.
we laughed.
we loved.
we celebrated.
christmas, you're my favorite, one million times over.


tea time.

from left to right: tie kwan yin, glass mug, tea maker, cast iron teapot, tea spoon, countess of seville

i love tea.  generally, i drink a few cups a day- one or two in the morning, another around 3:00 in the afternoon and finally, an herbal tea before bed- assuming i don't choose an adult beverage instead.

but i have to be honest, while i've always loved tea, i never truly became obsessed until a. and i purchased this coffee/hot water maker.  it's awesome because water's always hot and ready- making it perfect for an impromptu cup of tea at anytime of the day or night.

as my interest in tea has grown, so has my desire for more specialized tea accessories.  i love loose leaf tea, so the tea maker and cast iron tea pots make using the loose stuff convenient, and since it's a bit more expensive, the tea spoon helps me gauge how much tea i'm using per cup.  win-win-win.

in addition to finding tea at our local farmers market, i also buy from teavana and david's tea.  there's a ton of flavors out there- so that can be a little overwhelming.  i recommend starting with what you like or making a purchase with a friend and split the loot.  i'm a bit of a purist...green, black and oolong are my go-to choices.  but i've also experimented with buying some fruity herbal teas and mix them with mate or another base flavor.  it's a fun way to find your fave combination.

if you're looking for a last-minute gift for the tea-lover in your life, i'd say start with anything listed above.  i guarantee they'll be happy campers.


13.1 miles.

on sunday, a. and i raced in our very first 1/2 marathon.  this race took place along the sliver strand, a strip of highway in san diego that connects coronado island and imperial beach.  i won't lie.  i was nervous.  like, am i going to be able to do this thing, nervous.  luckily i not only signed up with a. but also with my sister-in-law and a friend and his daughter (both of whom do races like this all the time and convinced me that if i stick to my training, i'll be fine).

early into my training, i decided this race wasn't about time.  it couldn't be.  this race, my very first 1/2 marathon, had to be about finishing.  so i adopted a motto to keep me focused: chug-a-lug.  i'm not sure when or where i first heard this, but i loved it immediately.
after a cloudy and cold couple of days, we woke up on sunday to the most beautiful, sun-soaked, southern california weather.  the morning was cool and refreshing and as we stretched and the sun rose, the day just got better and better.

the coolest part of this race is that in addition to the 1/2 marathon, they offer races for rollerbladers (this is what my sister-in-law did--actually, she's the one that peer pressured us into doing this in the first place), hand-powered equipment, a 10K and a 5K.  there is literally something for everyone.  plus, the entire race is flat...the perfect course for a bunch of novices or speed racers.
during the race i had a great time.  i ran solo and enjoyed listening to the various coaches and other people's conversations while taking in panoramic views of the pacific ocean and san diego bay.  it wasn't until mile 8 that i started getting hot spots on my feet and had to adjust my socks and shoes.  at this time, i also decided it was time for music.

during the race, i divided the course into four 5K races with 1 mile remaining at the end.  this helped me break down the race into manageable pieces and not get overwhelmed with miles and miles of road ahead of me.  while slow, i stayed really steady and finished strong.  so strong in fact, that i definitely could have ran longer if for some crazy reason i decided i wanted to.
as for 1/2 marathoning, i now have a time to beat and another goal to set my sights for.  i'll definitely do another one in the recent future and plan to continue to keep long runs as part of my overall training.  the entire process, while initially unnerving, was a lot of fun, totally gratifying, and made me so proud of our exciting accomplishment. 


ready or not.

after years of talking about this, months of training for this, weeks of not feeling ready for this, and days full of anxiousness about this...i'm finally doing this.  a half marathon.

my legs feel strong & i have great tunes.  i've also saved some podcasts and audio books for the long run as well.  more importantly, it looks like we're going to have some rare, cool weather in san diego...so i'm looking at that as an added blessing.

i'm excited and right now, my plan is just to finish the 13.1 miles on two feet.  but if i roll, crawl or scoot across the finish line, i'll definitely consider that a success as well.


catalina island.

on saturday, before the sun was even thinking about waking up, a. woke me up and filled me in on a little secret.  we were heading on a surprise date.  he had taken the liberty to plan a day trip, packed us a bag and told me to dress casually for lots of walking and kayaking.

as we headed north on the 5, after much anticipation, he filled me in on his plan.  we were heading to catalina island.
the interesting thing about san diego for a. and i is, despite all the time we've lived here (cumulatively) we've never been able to explore this state as we have the others we've lived in.  so this surprise getaway was not only a much needed adventure, but a great way for us to start really exploring this new home of ours.
we left out of dana point and headed toward avalon, the main town on the island of catalina.  about 30 minutes into the ferry ride, we hit a huge blanket of fog that socked us in for the remainder of the commute.  when we arrived to avalon, the town was just waking up and the blanket of fog created a cold and cozy atmosphere throughout the sleepy town.  we warmed up over breakfast and set off to explore.
as people started waking up and filling the streets, the fog never really lifted.  instead, the sun stayed tucked away and the fog got thicker and thicker.  determined to enjoy everything catalina had to offer, a. and i rented paddle boards and set out for the sea.  this is when i wish i had known where we were headed, because a waterproof camera would have been amazing!  but alas, those few hours of still water, dolphins and seals, and the crystal clear depths of the sea will stay with us only in memories.
after a nice long lunch on descanso beach, we continued to explore avalon by foot and walked for miles up and down the streets of the small town (you can literally see the entire town in about an hour) people watching and window shopping.  we found a rocky beach where we searched for rocks and finally, still trying to beat the chilly weather, decided to head back into town to warm up over drinks.
the catalina brew house offered up some amazing locally crafted beer (from san diego and los angeles) & we sat there for the remainder of the day talking, and dreaming and hashing out some things we've been working on for the past month.  as we waited out the last hour on the island, the fog finally started to clear and blessed us with beautiful blue sky and a colorful sunset.
catalina is such a magical place.  so much so that we're already to make plans to go again before the year ends.  this spontaneous trip was exactly what we both needed.



this weekend was one of the first in a while where i had absolutely no plans.  so i lounged, tried to beat the heat, chatted with my love, continued the house hunt and spent some much needed time at the beach listening to some live reggae music and playing in the sand.

it was low-key, full of sun and my favorite peeps, and just what the doctor ordered.


hey there september.

this most-awesome quote welcomed me this past tuesday morning.  all with the flip of a calendar page my monthly mantra found me.  and it's so perfect for where i am right now.

i'm not quite sure what i expect of september, and honestly i think that's one of the best parts.  for the most part, i don't have anything out of the ordinary planned and yet on the other hand, september is unlike any month i've experienced since october of 2011.

as is always the case in military land, a. had to leave town for a while.  luckily he's only away for the month for training & so it's up to me to creatively fill my evenings, plan adventures and meals and keep things plugging along as regularly scheduled.  and for now they are.

i think it's best to keep september whimsical and unpredictable.  i'm hoping to get a couple projects started and catch up on others i've neglected over the summer.  i'm hoping to put my culinary skills to the test with some awesome fall-ish recipes.  i'm hoping make time to grow some new friendships and hit the pavement for some much-needed runs.  i'm hoping to make progress in the house hunt.

so those are my hopes.  depending on my productivity and stamina i may or may not accomplish everything that i'd like,  but i do know this, i'm right where i'm meant to be.