product review · things I'm loving

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.

san diego map art


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.
dog things · throwback thursday · winter

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.


IMG_8637snow in san diego countysan diego snow dog


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.

restaurant review

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

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

Photo courtesy of

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.

business review · fitness

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.

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.

barre 3 UTC challenge.png

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. 
race recap · running

Celebration Run San Diego – Half Marathon – Race Recap

Earlier this year, my friend Caitlin informed me that 1) she wanted to come visit me in San Diego, and 2) she wanted to run a half marathon while she was here. By August, she had already booked her flight and signed up for the race, which left me scrambling to sign up too. So I did.

But then, as it often happens…life got in the way. I threw out my back one Sunday I was going to do a long run (and spent all day laying on the couch on top of a heating pad), I spent two weekends traveling to and from the UK for work, friends and family came to visit…and so my training didn’t really happen. I went into this half marathon completely unsure of how I would do – and also a bit nervous, since I had trained for the La Jolla Half and injured my IT band/struggled on that course.

And so, when Caitlin arrived and told me she hadn’t done any legitimate training either, I felt a little better.

On race morning, as we sat eating our toast with peanut butter, we asked ourselves why we were up at the ass crack of dawn and why we were doing this silly race that would take us way longer than we expected and during which we’d be miserable.

And yet, just a few hours later, and we were smiling ear-to-ear, happy to have completed the race and have run along such a scenic course.

I’ve always heard people say that when they ran X race, the miles “just flew by,” and yet I’ve never actually understood that, because even for races I’ve been extremely well-prepared for, I’ve spent a lot of it asking myself why I was only at a certain mile, or why time was moving so slowly.

During this race, though, I got it. The miles actually did fly by and I’d say it was because 1) I had zero expectations of myself, and therefore didn’t stress out over my pace or effort, and 2) the course was just so beautiful.

This course was one of the prettiest I’ve ever run (though La Jolla and Newport, RI still hold the top spots).

Here are some photos from the course, courtesy of Caitlin:

The start line…

celebration run san diego start

From the course…

celebration run half marathon

celebration run san diego

celebration run san diego sign

celebration run san diego half marathon

celebration run san diego mile 13

The finish line…

celebration run san diego finish

Here’s what I loved:

  • The course. It was absolutely beautiful, taking you through parks, along bike baths, over bridges and by Mission Bay.
  • The volunteers, and the resulting number of (very efficient) water stations. The volunteers were awesome – not only were they on top of handing out drinks to everyone (and had what seemed like an endless supply of water and gatorade), but they were very good about specifying which table had which. There were probably water stations every 1.5 miles or so.
  • The start/finish. I love when races start and finish in the same location; it makes it easy to plan your morning and post-race transportation. Not only this, but the police (and race organizers) did an amazing job. We had no issues getting to the start of the race (we left at 5:45 am for the 7:00 am start, and had time to hang out on the beach for almost an hour before the start), and leaving was easy and carefree. I’ve never been able to get to or from a race as easily as I did for this race.

Here’s what I didn’t love:

  • The out-and-backs. Not ideal, and it seemed like there were a lot of them. The course map confirms this. The one thing I will say about these are that they kept Caitlin and me going when we wanted to take a breather; we knew we’d be passing each other at some point which kept us going so we’d be running past each other. And they also helped because at a couple of different points we were able to cheer each other on, and even high five.

The finish line was on sand, and they announced most people as they came in and cheered everyone on, and the finish line had tons of cold water and gatorade, in addition to bananas, ritz cracker sandwiches, fruit snacks, oranges, and granola bars. There were also a good number of vendors at the finish, but we didn’t stick around to check any of them out because we wanted our much-deserved brunch.

At the end of it all, neither of us were disappointed with our times (we were actually pretty happy about them!), and we were happy to have not died on the course or have fallen in the sand at the finish.

Overall, I’d say it was a win. And even though I know that I don’t have to convince Caitlin to come back to San Diego, running this race next year might be something we’ll do again together and something that’ll make her want to come back out here (because the abundant sunshine, beautiful beaches, and Maeby aren’t enough).

celebration run san diego beach

attractions · dog things · San Diego events · this weekend in san diego

This Weekend in San Diego: October 24-26

It’s been another crazy week but I’ve done a little research about what’s happening in San Diego this weekend.

Here are three events I think are worth checking out:

Howl-O-Ween 5k Mutt Run/Walk (event website)

Saturday, 8:00 am-12:00 pm

Run this 5k and help raise money for Labs and More! In addition to the race, there will be a raffle and a dog costume contest, the winners of which will receive prizes. This event takes place at Road Runner Sports in Kearny Mesa.

Howl at Helm’s Fundraiser for Second Chance Dog Rescue (event website)

Saturday, 4:00 pm-8:00 pm

dog pirate costume

As everyone knows, Maeby is a spokesdog for PetBox! The wonderful people at PetBox are hosting this event with Second Chance Dog Rescue at Helm’s Brewing Company in Kearny Mesa. This event is free, but there will be a food truck, raffle, costume contest (Maeby will be there as a pirate), and more! Proceeds will go to Second Chance Dog Rescue, an organization near and dear to my heart, as we almost fostered a dog through them.

Trick or Trot 5k and 3k Fun Run (event website)

Sunday, 8:00 am-12:00 pm

Here’s another race for a great cause. Proceeds from this event will go towards after-school clubs and enrichment programs for Roosevelt Middle School (80% of the kids at this school are low-income). You are encouraged to wear your costume and prizes will even be awarded to runners with the best costumes. This event take place in the beautiful Balboa Park.


What are your plans for this weekend?

attractions · dog things · friends · photos

This Weekend in Photos: October 10-12 + 17-19

Here’s what my last two weekends have looked like…

Two Saturdays ago, we drove up to Los Angeles for the engagement party of Adam’s friend. It was a lovely evening with great people!

engagement party

On our way back from Maeby’s overnight boarding…

funny dog picture

Last Wednesday, I went to paint night with my friend at Pinot’s Palette in Liberty Station. I’ve only been to one other location in San Diego, and I much preferred this place! They had an assistant who helped us, and a bartender who went around throughout the class to see if we wanted drinks. And I’m a big fan of Liberty Station, where there’s a Stone Brewery, Trader Joe’s and Slater’s 50/50. I will, for sure, be back at this location soon for another paint night.

paint night

I got Maeby a brand new toy. It lasted a total of an hour.

funny dog pictures

Morning glories on an evening walk…

morning glories

Korean BBQ with Adam at our favorite, Mapo.

korean bbq

We got Maeby a Halloween costume. She’s going to be a pirate.

dog pirate costume

And last but not least…

Adam and I spent our Saturday afternoon at the San Diego Zoo. We have annual passes (which weren’t much more than the cost of daily admission), so we got to go in for free! And we avoided the ticket lines, which was great because I’ve never seen the zoo so busy.





I also got some exciting news from work last week…

They’re sending me to our office in the UK for a week! After that, I’m going to take two days to go back to one of my favorite cities in the world: London. I studied abroad there for a semester when I was a junior in college, and I’ve been dying to go back ever since but didn’t know if I’d get the opportunity to go any time soon. I feel so lucky (and honored) that my work thinks my skills are strong enough to go engage in conversations and share my opinions with the higher ups at our company headquarters, and fortunate that I am able to take an extra couple of days to return to London.

Life’s been busy, but it’s been good!