San Diego Map Art + A Gallery Wall

In our office, we have this one weird wall that’s been missing something. We try to keep the space creative and fun, which we hope will reflect in the work we do.

As Adam does most of his writing there, he has one wall full of whiteboards, bulletin boards with notes and quotes pinned, and posters from some of his favorite bands.

The wall opposite that has served as an often-rotating canvas, full of some of my photos from abroad and random assortment of other things we liked. Even after almost three years of living here, we never really put that much effort into that wall, though I’ve been wanting to do a funky and fun gallery wall for almost as long.

When Jennifer, with Modern Map Art, reached out to me about her San Diego art print, I was so excited! Finally, that wall would have a focal point and I could begin making something fun out of it.

When I visited the website, I loved how many options there were.

In addition, each of these beautiful maps is available in five different sizes: 8×10, 12×18, 16×20, 18×24 and 24×36. I talked with Adam and we decided to go with the blue and yellow one in 16×20. I wanted to make sure it was large enough to be a focal point on that wall, and I loved how bright and fun the colors were.

A little over a week after ordering, the map had arrived! It came in a large hard cardboard tube (which Maeby later stole because she thought it was a fun toy), and when I unrolled it, I was in love.

The bright blues and yellows did not disappoint and that night I got to work on our wall. I initially planned to order a frame (and still will in the coming weeks), but I was so excited to get this map up that for now, I have it hung with some white binder clips and push pins. It took me awhile to figure out what to put up there with it, but since I wanted the wall to be a culmination of things Adam and I love, I knew it would be a nice collection of photos, musical pieces, and other miscellaneous items.

On the wall, we have:

  • Two canvas prints – One Adam’s friend did a loooooong time ago and one I made when I first moved here
  • Three framed photos – One of me and my teammates from college, one of two of our best friends, and one of Adam and his friends from when he first moved out here
  • A large print from my time abroad
  • A Beatles record – Adam’s favorite band of all time
  • A signed poster of another band Adam liked back in the day
  • My old license plate from the car I drove across country a little over three years ago (letters blocked out)

And, in the middle of it all: the San Diego map print!

There are still quite a bit of blank spaces and the wall is pretty big, so we plan to add to it as we can. For now, I love that this wall is a representation of us, regardless of the mixed media types, and that it fully captures the creative and colorful vibe we’ve been trying to convey in our office for a long time.

Most of all, I love that this map is a fun and beautiful cartographic representation of San Diego. Adam and I plan to move back to New England in the coming years. Life in San Diego is wonderful but New England, full of its cold weather and sarcasm, will always be home. This print will always be representative of our beginnings and my time in America’s Finest City, and we can take it with us wherever we go.

 

Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions are my own.

Snow in San Diego?

Not quite…but kind of!

One thing that’s pretty cool about living here that I never experienced before is that you can leave your house, where it’s 80 degrees, and drive an hour east into the mountains, and there’s snow and it’s in the 30s or 40s.

Back in December, I heard that it snowed in the Laguna Mountain area (in San Diego county), so I grabbed Maeby and we made the drive east. A lot of the snow had already melted but there were still people out there sledding and it was very much worth heading out that way. Here are some highlights from our trip out there.

 

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It was during the week and as I mentioned, a lot of the snow had already melted, so it was an easy drive without traffic or any snow/ice on the roads. That being said, if you do choose to head out towards Laguna Mountain to go sledding or play in the snow on a weekend, I recommend getting up there early to avoid traffic. The best part about all of this though? Once you’re cold and/or done with the snow, it’s right back to warm, sunny weather.

Fostering Dogs: Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone who knows me knows that I am huge dog lover. In February of 2015, I began volunteering with a local dog rescue by helping out at adoption events. For me, it was a way to get involved in a bigger cause, feel like I was making a difference, and since I wanted a second dog but was not in a position to get one, it allowed me to play with and engage with other dogs.

In the summer of 2015, Adam and I were given the opportunity to temporarily foster a dog named Dorothy. She was a very neurotic dog, and a little possessive over her people, but we fell in love with her and a temporary foster situation became long-term until she found her forever home.

In September, Dorothy had gotten an incredible application in and when the family came to meet us, we knew it was a perfect fit. That afternoon, she went home.

Since Dorothy, we’ve done a few temporary fosters again, but also some of our very own long-term fosters.

There was Coleman (who I found on Craigslist and who I took in while I could network him to a rescue)…

Gracie, the sweetest and gentlest dog ever, and also a tri-paw…

and Sophie, a puppy from Mexico…

I would by no means call myself an expert on fostering, but there are some things I’ve learned throughout the process that will hopefully push anyone who’s considering it in the right direction. Here are some questions that I’ve been asked:

What is fostering?

When you foster a dog, you take the dog in and usually, all expenses (food, grooming, medical) are covered. All you have to do is love the dog! Some shelters offer this and most rescues offer this – the rescue we foster with doesn’t have a physical boarding location for its dogs; all of the dogs are in foster homes, learning what life is like in a home, often with kids, other dogs and cats.

What are the benefits of fostering?

For a rescue, it’s way more affordable than boarding a dog. Dogs benefit in that it’s a great way to prepare them for life in a forever home, especially since many dogs get very stressed out in boarding or in the shelter environment. Adopters can be pretty confident when talking to a knowledgeable and thorough foster about what kind of environment the dog needs and whether their home will be a good fit. For example, we have a large dog (Maeby!), so if we get an application where they already have a dog, we know that our foster will do likely do well with that dog. We still do meet and greets to make sure the dogs get along, but it’s helpful for the adopter to already know how the foster dog is living with another dog.

Does the foster get to choose where the dog ends up?

Different rescues have different processes, but with the one I foster with, we get to review the applications that come in and have final say in where the dog ends up. Our rescue believes that no one knows the dog better than the foster, so they should choose where the dog would be happiest and what kind of family would be best-suited for it.

How do you not fall in love with the dog and keep it?

This one is tough, haha. Within a day of getting a new foster dog, Adam always proudly declares we are keeping it. I have to be the voice of reason and say that we shouldn’t/we can’t. I really wanted to keep Gracie, and Adam really wanted to keep Coleman. But we try to be honest with ourselves about what we can afford and what’s best for the dog, and also remember that if we were to adopt one of our fosters, we wouldn’t be in a position to continue fostering and helping other dogs.

Can you adopt your foster dog?

A lot of foster families I know do end up keeping their foster dog! That’s what we call a “foster fail.” It depends on the rescue’s policy, but ours allows the foster family to adopt the dog.

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Any other questions? I’d love to hear from you. Share them in the comments below!

3 Best Burgers in San Diego

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good burger. Growing up, it didn’t matter where we went out to dinner, whether it was fancy or casual, or what the occasion was, I’d get a burger. I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not.

Naturally, living in San Diego has endless options for delicious burgers, and I’m not just talking about In-N-Out Burger.

Best Build-Your-Own Burger

Great Maple, Washington St (Hillcrest)

great maple san diego burger

Photo courtesy of Yelp.

Whether you go for the grass-fed beef or opt for the turkey burger, Great Maple’s burger patties are flavorful and made with the finest ingredients. What do I recommend you add on to your burger? Cheddar, bacon and caramelized onions. Upgrade your fries to the truffle fries (come on now, they’re only $1 more) and you’ve got yourself one hell of a meal.

 

Best Homemade Burger

Dan Diego’s, Morena Blvd (Bay Ho)
Dan Diegos Burger

o

Photo courtesy of Yelp.

To be honest, no matter what you choose to order at Dan Diego’s, you will know it’s made with love. This place is undoubtedly our favorite place to go in San Diego, because it’s local, family-owned, and everything is homemade. About the burger though? Let me tell you what it consists of:

  • Ground steak patty
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Corned beef
  • Caramelized onions
  • Bacon
  • Horseradish Sauce

This thing is unreal. Pair this burger with one of their many unique beers on tap (or enjoy with my personal favorite, a “red cider” [half hard cider, half sangria]) and life will be perfect. I do advise that you don’t eat the whole thing and you save some room for dessert. One of the owners makes all of the desserts herself, and the bread pudding is everything you could ever possibly want in a dessert, so plan accordingly and thank me later!

Best Bacon Burger

Slater’s 50-50, Liberty Station (Point Loma)
50-50 Burger

gallery-burgers-01

Photo courtesy of slaters5050.com.

What is the 50-50 burger? It’s half ground beef, half ground bacon. This is an obvious pick for bacon lovers. They even have a burger called the B’ B’ Bacon Burger, which includes bacon american cheese, bacon, bacon island dressing and a bacon pretzel bun. Excessive? Maybe. But if you’re a bacon lover, this is your spot. Pair it with one of their many, many amazing beers on tap and you’ll be a happy camper.

This Week in Review: August 2, 2015

Well, this should probably be more of a “these past four months in review” but hey, what are you gonna do?

So what have I been up to since March?

photo 1

My favorite people in the whole world came to visit.

dog in birthday hat

Maeby turned 3. I love this picture and I love this dog.

connecticut trees

I headed back to Connecticut to see family, friends, and celebrate my grandmother’s 99th birthday.

A week later, I had to go back during one of the hardest moments of my life.

dog san diego beach

Upon returning after my second trip to Connecticut, I spent a lot of time focusing on myself. Time at the beach with Maeby definitely helped.

houston skyline

I headed to Houston for work.

del mar sunset

Caught some amazing sunsets while my mom and her boyfriend were in town…

torrey pines san diego

Hiked Torrey Pines with them…

petco park at night san diego

Caught a Padres game at Petco Park.

rain in san diego

Survived a pretty epic thunderstorm in San Diego and the first real rain storm we’ve gotten in a looooong time.

dog adoption event san diego

And met this handsome guy while volunteering at an adoption event.

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Obviously this isn’t all that I’ve been doing, but definitely some highlights. I’d say over the past few months, there have been some incredible lows and some very incredible highs, but overall, everything has been good.

I’ll get into the details of life’s lows a little later on, but for now, I want to know:

What’s been the highlight of your summer so far?

Throwback Thursday: All Smiles Edition

happy dog

Jazzercise College Area Review

I recently had the opportunity to try out Jazzercise College Area (in La Mesa, right near SDSU). If you’re like most people, you probably hear the word “jazzercise” and think of women wearing leg warmers and leotards. The bad news is, you won’t get to wear that leotard you’ve been holding onto, but the good news? It’s nothing like you think it is, and it’s everything you hope it would be.

la mesa jazzercise

This studio is conveniently located right near SDSU (at 6360 El Cajon Blvd), so it wasn’t a surprise to me when I saw a couple of college students at the class I attended. One girl even brought her boyfriend, who felt awkward and laughed a lot in the beginning, but after a few songs, he was winded and running to grab his water bottle.

Like most studio classes I’ve attended (including barre, spinning and yoga), the class was comprised of women and men of all ages – college students, as I’ve mentioned, as well as individuals in their 50s and 60s.

jazzercise college area sdsu

When I walked in, the instructor, Allison, was waiting at the front desk to check people in. She was very friendly and explained the class to me and also helped me pick out weights (I went with 5-pound dumbbells) and a mat. I put that stuff off to the side until we got to that portion of the class.

jazzercise college area la mesa

Each class is about 55-60 minutes long, with a brief warmup, 35 minutes of cardio, and about 25 minutes of weight training/ab work. I’ve never attended zumba, but I imagine the cardio portion is similar to that. We danced our way through several songs, and the energy in the room was infectious. You could tell that Allison really loved teaching the class, and that the people attending really loved the workout – everyone would clap, sing out loud and get really into just having fun and letting go throughout all of our dance moves.

After completing this portion of the class, we grabbed our weights and a mat, and used the weights for some arm strength training, and then used the mat to do some ab work and leg/glute work. The leg/glute portion was similar to what we do in barre, and was definitely a challenge after dancing for 35 minutes. To wrap up class, we stretched it out, using various moves from yoga.

jazzercise college area san diego

After class, Allison checked in with me and some of the other new attendees to see how we liked it. I love when the instructor seems to genuinely care that you’ve had a positive experience, so this was definitely one more thing that I liked about this studio.

Now that class is over, would I attend another one at this location? Absolutely. It was an energizing way to start my Sunday, and I had so much fun getting in a great workout. This is definitely the most fun I’ve had working out in a long time.

If you’re in the San Diego area, I recommend stopping by Jazzercise College Area to get in a fun and challenging workout. You’ll have a great time, leave in a better mood and feeling more energized, and you’ll definitely want to come back.

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Have you ever tried Jazzercise? What’s one workout that you’ve never done but you’ve been dying to try out?

This Weekend in Photos: March 13-15 – Running, Volunteering and Jazzercise

Friday

Friday evening after a crazy work week, I met up with some friends for dinner and drinks at Eureka in UTC. It was great to catch up and spend some time with some of my favorite ladies, and everything we got was delicious. If you ever end up there, I highly recommend the truffle cheese fries. Yes – they are as good as they sound.

Saturday

I woke up early and took Maeby to Mission Bay Park for a nice and easy run.

misson bay san diego park

mission bay sd

It was quiet when we first started, but within ten minutes, the path got kind of crowded due to a St. Patrick’s Day race happening at the park. Maeby did so well though, despite the crowds and the noise, and we finished our short run all smiles.

dog enjoying sunshine

Saturday afternoon, I volunteered with a local dog rescue.

Per my new year’s resolutions, so far this year, I have spent a good amount of time determining what makes me happy, and finding a way to do more of that. Knowing that all of these dogs are in foster care and if I can help get one adopted, it means another dog somewhere gets to leave the shelter, is incredibly rewarding. It doesn’t hurt that I literally just pet and play with dogs for a few hours. I started volunteering every Saturday about a month ago, and it’s the highlight of my week.

dog named toast

second chance dog rescue

second chance dog san diego

second chance animal rescue san diego

All of these dogs are available for adoption (and they’re all so, so sweet!), so if you or someone you know might be interested in making a new best friend, please let me know. And if it’s not one of the dogs pictured here, we have many more of all breeds and sizes, so again, feel free to reach out if you’re in the San Diego area and are interested.

san diego night sky

Saturday evening, after running a few errands, I caught a beautiful sunset on my way home, and spent the rest of my evening taking it easy with Adam, watching bad reality TV and Tina Fey’s new show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Sunday

I tried out a new-to-me exercise studio in the college area (La Mesa, right near SDSU).

la mesa jazzercize

I had never tried Jazzercise before, and I’m sure my perception of it was similar to what your perception probably is…but real talk? It was SO much fun. I’ll be sharing a full review of my experience in a few days, but if you’re in the San Diego area, definitely give this studio a try, and if you’re not, try and find a studio near you. It was such an energized and fun class, and I would totally recommend this studio to any of my friends.

The workout was definitely a good way to start out my day, especially since later in the afternoon, a few of our friends came over to watch some hockey and barbecue.

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I also wanted to note that I’ve shared this post through Running ‘N’ Reading’s Weekend Update! As always, thanks for hosting!

How was your weekend and what was the highlight of it?

Choose happiness.

choose happiness

One of my new year’s resolutions was to do more of what makes me happy. I also mentioned that I’d like to stop being so scared to make decisions that will positively affect my happiness.

Long story short, though I had only been at my previous employer for a little over a year, I wasn’t happy. I won’t get into specifics, but I was at a point where I was actually dreading going into work, often feeling anxious and sick to my stomach on weekday mornings. I got a lot of feedback from people that “no one loves their job” or “no job is perfect.” I’d like to state that the former is false; the people who say that are the ones who don’t love what they do. And that’s okay for some people. But for me? I want to look forward to work every day. The latter part of the above is true; not every day is going to be perfect. There will be challenges and some days might be difficult, but if you are unhappy about something every day, then that something is not right for you. So anyway, you know what I did? I began looking for new jobs. I was selective about what I applied to, but in the end, I made the choice to move into a new position at a new company, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

I’m a firm believer that if you aren’t happy about something then you should change it. You can change it.

I got sick of being unhappy and decided to choose happiness.

And this doesn’t just apply to jobs – it applies to everything.

Are you unhappy with your partner? Work with them to make some changes, or if it’s beyond that point, then move on. Don’t like your current living situation? Find a new one. Bummed out that you’re lacking a specific skill? Learn that skill.

In the end, you have a choice that you can make every single day. If you aren’t happy, then do something about it.

The choice is yours.

How do you choose happiness?

 

Barre3 UTC: Challenge Review

As I mentioned last month, while trying out ClassPass, one of the studios I tried out was Barre3 in UTC/La Jolla. I had previously tried out another barre studio in San Diego and had a pretty negative experience. I was hesitant to try barre again, but after a lot of encouragement from others, I decided to give it a chance, and I’m glad I chose Barre3.

barre3 utc

In the beginning of January, Lauren, the manager of Barre3 in UTC invited me to try out the Barre3 Challenge, which would involve taking four barre classes a week, one online class, and trying a new Barre3 recipe each week (which you receive in weekly email newsletters). The challenge began Monday, January 5 and ended yesterday, Sunday, February 1. After having such a positive first experience at this studio, I excitedly told her that I was interested and that week, the challenge began.

barre3 challenge results

Each Barre3 class consists of:

  • Warm-up
  • Leg work
  • Combo work (this is when you use weights and do full-body exercises)
  • “Seat” work
  • Abs
  • Stretching/cool-down

Classes are an hour long, and movements are small – you are literally told to move up an inch and down an inch. Don’t let the small movements fool you though – classes are tough!

Committing to four days a week was pretty easy for me; I usually attended two classes during the week and two on the weekend. Class times are consistent and offered throughout the morning and evening, so I never had a hard time fitting in a class, and the instructors rotate which classes they teach, which was great because I think I had a class with every single instructor at least once. They all have different styles, but I got to know them all, and all of them are friendly, helpful and there to give you a solid workout.

The weekly 10-minute workout was also part of the challenge. I usually did these after a run, and it was nice that I was able to do it at home. Overall, the digital support provided throughout the challenge (through weekly emails and podcasts), was really nice, but the support I felt at the studio was even better.

barre3 utc challenge

(image courtesy of the Barre3 UTC Instagram)

There was a chart on the wall where we’d put a sticker for each class that we came to, and challengers supported each other. People talked about it, encouraged each other, and the creator of Barre3, Sadie Lincoln, even came to the UTC studio to teach classes and get people even more excited about the challenge.

So what were my results from the Barre3 Challenge?

I didn’t take measurements since I don’t have a measuring tape, but I can tell you that there was a significant change in the composition of my body, and I did lose a few pounds. Jeans that were feeling a little tight prior to the challenge are actually comfortable to wear, and friends noted that I look more toned and everything looks a little tighter. My posture improved, clothes began fitting better, and I genuinely looked forward to class each day.

Keep in mind that I’ve tried every exercise in the world – Bikram, CrossFit, Les Mills classes, long distance running, spinning, and yoga. I can honestly say that none of these exercises have changed my body as much as Barre3, and I’m excited about these changes.

The challenge might be over, but I’ve enjoyed Barre3 so much that I plan on continuing with classes, and have even purchased a two-month membership at the studio in UTC.

Have you ever done a “challenge” at a studio? What kind of workout has prompted the most significant change in your body?

 

Disclosure: Barre3 UTC provided me a complimentary month of service in exchange for sharing my experience with the Barre3 Challenge. All opinions, as usual, are my own.