September Stitch Fix

stitch fix

It’s Stitch Fix time!

Now, I know it’s been a couple of months since I wrote about my monthly fix, but since I’ve become pregnant, trying on clothes has become one of my least favorite things. I mentioned in another post that for the first few months of my pregnancy, I didn’t look pregnant, but just looked like I’d gained a bunch of weight. Because of this, all I wanted to think about wearing was stretchy pants and large tops. Now that my baby bump is becoming more pronounced, dressing up has become fun again. Woohoo!

Since clothes weren’t fun to me anymore, I was just about to cancel my monthly fixes until I got an email from the company telling me that they’d added new maternity styles for expectant moms like me. Double woohoo! I was prompted to update my style profile with my due date and a few other details so that my stylist could help style me appropriately over the coming months. I loved my fix this month and am totally on board for continuing to get my monthly fixes! Thanks, Stitch Fix!

Okay, here we go with my no-makeup, messy guest room photos…

#1 Bella Boutique Bilson Silver Infinity Necklace

bella boutique bilson silver infinity necklace

As you’ve probably been able to tell from the jewelry I’ve kept in my other fixes, I love simple necklaces for everyday wear. This one totally fit the bill. THE DECISION: Kept.

#2 Market and Spruce Breyson Split-Neck Tab-Sleeve Knit Top

market and spruce breyson split-neck tab-sleeve knit top

I loved the color of this top and was hoping it’d work, but the fit wasn’t 100% there. It was a little big in the shoulders and made me look really broad and since I’m bigger everywhere else right now, I didn’t want to have to add my shoulders to that list. THE DECISION: Sent back.

#3 Pomelo Daley Colorblock & Striped Short Sleeve Shirt

pomelo daley colorblock & striped short sleeve shirt

Loved this top! There’s lots of room for me to continue to wear it for the months to come and I love the stripes and color blocking. It could be dressed up or down and it’s so comfy. Love! THE DECISION: Kept.

#4 Mystree Jackie Striped French Terry Asymmetrical Jacket

mystree jackie striped french terry asymmetrical jacket

Oh, I soooo wanted this to work. I was at a concert and saw and adorable pregnant gal wearing something similar and have been trying to find a style like this since. I was so happy when I saw this in my fix, but it was too short for this pregnant lady and a bit bulky. If it were a little longer, it probably would be in my closet, but I think as I progress with the pregnancy, the length of this jacket won’t be flattering at all. THE DECISION: Sent back.

#5 Tart Maternity Selanee Maternity Knit Dress

tart maternity delanee maternity knit dress

OMG. I am so in love with this dress that I want it in every color. The fit and style are great and will continue to flatter my body in the coming months. It’s so comfortable, but also has a classic fit and color that it can be worn with flip flops to the grocery store, with a cute cardigan and flats for a casual date night or with heels and a great necklace for a wedding or more dressy affair. The price was a bit high ($118), but there are a ton of ugly maternity clothes out there that I feel like if I find a style I love, I have to grab it. As I mentioned it’s also super versatile, so that helped soften the blow on my pocketbook when I think of all the different types of places I can wear it. THE DECISION: Kept.

So, there you have it! I went 3/5 this fix! What do you think? Did I keep the right things?

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If you’d like to learn more about Stitch Fix, read my overview to see if it’s something you want to try! You can also see what I got in my last fix!

Disclosure: I was not paid by Stitch Fix to write this post, but if you click on one of the links above and sign up, I do receive a referral credit to buy more cute new clothes. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing :)

California Road Trip, Part Three: Highway 1 and Monterey

Here we are! The third and final installment of our summer road trip recap! If you missed the first two parts, you can find them here and here.

highway 1

Our drive to start off the day, took us through some of the most beautiful parts of California I’ve ever seen. From the Paso Robles area, we drove on the 101 for a bit longer than hopped onto Highway 1 for the rest of our trip north. Even though in miles we weren’t far from the Monterey area, the drive took us quite a few hours because Highway 1 is only one lane each way and very curvy with lots of hills. We also stopped quite a few times to enjoy the scenery and take pictures.

san simeon

Our first stop we made was in San Simeon to take a look at the elephant seals (see above). They mostly were just lounging and soaking up the sun, but there were some adorable baby ones who were too cute to watch as they were fluttering around and trying to bury themselves in the sand.

We stopped for lunch in Big Sur at Cafe Kevah. Honestly we stopped there because we were starving and it was one of the first places we came across. We couldn’t get a phone signal in the area, so we weren’t able to look up other places, but it looked pretty popular and had breath-taking views, so it won us over. The food was pricey (which we expected) and fine. Nothing spectacular, but the view made up for everything.

After lunch, we got back on the road. Here are a couple of shots I took while traveling up Highway 1.

highway 1

highway 1

About mid-afternoon we reaching our final destination and home for the night – Pacific Grove Inn. Again, my BFF Hotwire found us this gem. Pacific Grove is a hop, skip and a jump from Monterey and on it’s own is a cute coastal town that was fun to explore. The Inn is a few minute walk from the main street and the ocean. There was a complimentary wine and cheese hour and at night they put out fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. They also have a huge selection of VHS tapes (yes, you remember VHS, right?) and microwave popcorn for you to enjoy a movie in your room. Our room was on the third floor and I think my favorite part were the towel warmers in the bathroom. I fell in love with towel warmers on my honeymoon in Italy and one day I want to install some in my house. There’s nothing better than a warm towel! Our stay also included a wonderful breakfast – much more than your typical free continental offering. I would definitely recommend this place and stay there again.

pacific grove inn

That evening we walked from our hotel to Monterey and back. Total it was a few miles and pooped me out, so once we got back into our room we picked some VHS tapes from the lobby and settled in for the night. The next morning we had our breakfast at the Inn, checked out and headed toward the 17 Mile Drive before we started the long trip home. Here are some photos from the drive…

17 mile drive

17 mile drive 17 mile drive

17 mile drive - lone cypress

After the scenic drive, we headed home since my husband had to work early the next morning.

Overall, my first multi-day road trip was a success! I can’t wait for the next one!

Maternity Musings

On my first blog, The Pastry Posts, I had a weekly post called Monday Musings where I just rambled about random things – TV, movies, food, work, life, etc. It’s not something I’ve started doing yet here, but I thought I’d kick it off with an installment of Maternity Musings.

onsies

I’ve been at the point in my pregnancy the past few weeks, where I don’t look pregnant, but just look overweight. For some reason I’m super self-conscious about it so I’ve found (and so has my husband) that I pop my tummy out more than it should be and rub it, just in case anyone who was staring gets the drift I’m pregnant. I know, I’m weird.

On that same subject — even though I know that to some people who don’t know me I may not look pregnant, I get offended when they say I’m not showing at all or that I look that same. As of my 16-week appointment last week, I had gained 12 pounds since getting pregnant, so of course I’m showing and, no, I don’t look the same!

I’ve not been able to concentrate long enough to read anything besides People magazine since I’ve been pregnant. And even thought it takes me about 12.2 minutes to read people magazine cover-to-cover, sometimes I can’t even focus long enough on that. I was on a book-reading roll a few months ago, but now nothing. I’ve tried to pick up a few magazines and a couple of books and I have no patience for them. I hope that changes soon.

I’m normally a sweet tooth, but haven’t been craving sweets at all really, which I totally thought I would. Instead I’ve been craving salty, fried foods. When I was just shy of 6 weeks pregnant I went to Disneyland and was in pregnant lady heaven eating those huge dill pickles they sell. My mouth is watering just thinking of them.

Okay, so maybe I have been craving sugar a bit in the form of fresh fruit. I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten my weight in watermelon and oranges the past four months. Can’t. Get. Enough.

Can we talk about the crazy dreams you have when you’re pregnant?!?! Honestly, my dreams are so bizarre they don’t even make sense. Random people from my childhood, monsters and natural disasters have made appearances, I’ve been married to movie stars, I’ve lived in actual TV shows and played instruments I don’t even know how to play. Every couple of weeks, I’ve also had the anxiety dream where it’s the day of a final exam and you’ve never been to the class.

On the subject of sleeping, I hate sleeping on my side. Sleeping became uncomfortable for me very early on because I was a stomach sleeper and one night (before I had any sort of bump at all) I woke up on my stomach in a TON of pain. After that I decided I should start trying to sleep in another position, so I moved to my back. Then I found out that as you get bigger, you can’t sleep on your back because it lowers your blood pressure too much which then lowers the baby’s BP. So, I guess I’m left with my sides and it’s awful. I pretty much build a fort of pillows around me to keep me on my side every night (which I’m sure my husband loves) and I still find myself waking up on my back or trying to sleep on my stomach. Ugh.

Photo is from my Instagram profile

California Road Trip, Part Two: San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles

Alright, alright, alright! More road trip chat!

highway 101

After part one of our road trip, we hopped in our car and headed north on Highway 101. This scenic drive took us through Lompoc, Santa Maria, Pismo Beach and finally to our lunch destination – San Luis Obispo. I’d only ever driven through San Luis Obispo, so it was nice to finally be able to stop there and check out the town. I have a close family foodie friend who went to Cal Poly, so I hit her up for restaurant recommendations and she did not disappoint!

I was only hungry for small plates after devouring the cookie sandwich I mentioned in my last post, so we stopped into Novo for a quick bite. We sat at a table outside on their back patio that looked over a beautiful, tree-lined walkway and creek. I can only imagine how great the patio is on a nice summer evening with all the string lights and lanterns shining and a cold drink in-hand. We ordered the potato samosas and Korean short ribs and both were super tasty. Samosas were the perfect amount of spicy and the short ribs had such great flavor and were super juicy. I wish I was hungry for more while I was there! Hopefully we’ll have a chance to go back one day.

lunch at novo

I was pretty beat and wanted to get to our hotel and take a nap, so we decided to get back on the road right after lunch. That night we stayed in Atascadero at The Carlton Hotel. When looking for hotels, we wanted to stay in Paso Robles, but the prices were a bit higher than what we wanted, so that’s when my BFF Hotwire found us this hotel nearby. There’s not much going on in Atascadero, so it was a nice little hideaway where we could relax and not feel like we were missing out on much. The service at the hotel was top notch and our room and bathroom were large and you could tell the whole place was somewhat newly-renovated. This was really the nicest room we stayed in our entire vacation (and the cheapest, so woohoo)!

the carlton hotel

After a quick nap, we headed to Paso Robles for dinner at Artisan. It was by far the busiest restaurant in Paso Robles that evening and we really enjoyed the food. If you go, I highly recommend the fried pig wings (yes, I said pig wings). After dinner, we took a nice stroll around the downtown area of Paso Robles. It really was kind of a throwback town to me where folks gathered in the “town square” around sunset and the kids rode their bikes or kicked around a soccer ball. It totally reminded me of a scene from Gilmore Girls. I hope to go back to Paso Robles when I’m not pregnant to enjoy the wine country because it was absolutely gorgeous to drive through.

paso robles

More road trip chat coming up soon!

California Road Trip, Part One: Montecito and Santa Barbara

For our summer trip this year, my husband and I decided to take a few days and go on a road trip through central and southern California.

The pacific ocean from the car

Now, before I go any further, I must tell you that I’ve never been on a road trip like this before. Of course, I’ve traveled by car to a vacation destination, but nothing like this where we took a few days, spent the night in a different town each night and really had no plans in between. I’m a super expert planner, so leading up to this trip, I was a bit anxious about not really having a plan as we set out on our adventure. Yes, we had a place to stay each night, thanks to my BFF Hotwire (seriously, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hotwire), but had no plans other than that…well maybe, except for our first day.

We set out Sunday morning, to meet up with my husband’s aunt, uncle and cousin in Anaheim. They were all in town from Austin for a conference, so we met up with them at their hotel for a quick visit. After that, we had another scheduled stop to make in Thousand Oaks to meet up with more friends who were in town from Dallas. After a lovely visit with them, we headed up to our final destination of the night – Montecito.

Montecito Inn

Montecito is a small town just outside of Santa Barbara. Folks like Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Drew Barrymore, among many others, are said to own homes there. Our home for the evening was the Montecito Inn. The Inn was a cute, little boutique hotel with a ton of history. Built in the late 1920s, by Fatty Arbuckle, Charlie Chaplin and friends as a place for them to escape the limelight of show business, the walls are lined with movie posters from Chaplin’s films and his likeness is even on one of the hotel signs. The hotel has lots of charm and is on the main street in Montecito and super close to Butterfly Beach.

Butterfly Beach

We stayed in a regular King room (and not a suite) and it was pretty tiny, but had a cozy bed with about a bajillion pillows on it. The bathroom was nice, but a bit on the tiny side as well. There was a large window in the bathroom that was a bit odd because people would walk right by it from the hallway right outside our room. You certainly couldn’t see anything by shapes, but it was still a little weird for me. We were beat from the long day, so we ordered room service for dinner. It was typical room service fare, but the customer service was really great from the folks at room service as well as everyone else at the hotel.

 

santa barbara public market

After our continental breakfast the next morning, we checked out and headed to near by Santa Barbara. Our first stop was the Santa Barbara Public Market. The market is right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara near State Street. It’s a super clean, gorgeous building with fantastic food offerings inside. Hands down one of the best things I ate on this trip was this RIDICULOUS cookie sandwich from Enjoy Cupcakes.

cookie sandwich from enjoy cupcakes

Seriously. If I could get these delivered to me everyday, I’d be on happy gal. The cookies were so soft, gooey and tasty and the vanilla frosting was perfect – light, delicious and really just the right amount for the cookies. Ugh. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

At the market we also had a breakfast quiche at Flagstone Pantry (yum) and hubby (the iced coffee snob) has some cold brew from Green Star Coffee. After a great walk up and down State Street, we headed back to our car and headed off to our next destination.

Stay tuned for more!

Book Review: Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

top secret 21

I currently have a love/hate relationship with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books.

On one side, I love them because they are a mindless “beach read” and really are entertaining to me, but on the other hand I’m not so in love with them because I really feel it’s the same story being told over and over just with different criminals and crimes. I’m a loyal Plum reader, though, so I feel like I’ll read them until Janet Evanovich stops writing them.

I read my first Stephanie Plum book in August 2005 right after I moved to San Diego. I had worked at Borders (remember book stores, kids?) during my year off between graduating from TCU and beginning my Masters program, and had bought the first Stephanie Plum book when I stocked up on books my last week there to take advantage of my awesome employee discount :) I read the book in the couple of free days I had after I was settled in San Diego but before I began my program. I was instantly hooked and bought the second book, but didn’t get a chance to finish it before the insanity that was my Masters program began. I re-picked up the second book during the winter break and proceeded to read through book nine! Seriously, I was addicted. At first I just bought one book at a time, but after the first few, I started buying them two at a time. I was the crazy girl who would wait outside the door of the book store for them to open so I could run in, get my book and get back home to read it.

That routine continued during all of my breaks from school until I was all caught up. Since then, I’ve pre-ordered each book so it was on my doorstep or on my Kindle the day it was released. Now that I’ve caught you up on my history with Stephanie Plum, let’s chat the newest book to the series – Top Secret Twenty-One!

If you’ve read even just a few Stephanie Plum books, you know they all follow a certain timeline – we’re introduced to all the characters, we learn who the main felon Stephanie is searching for is (for those of you who don’t know, Stephanie is a bounty-hunter), Stephanie goes back and forth between whether she loves Joe or Ranger more, Lula eats and talks a lot about food, Grandma Mazur gets into some sort of shenanigans at a viewing held at the local funeral home, Stephanie finally catches the felon and everyone lives happily ever after (except for the felon, of course). Somewhere in there, Stephanie’s current car explodes, she gets bailed out of some sticky situation by Ranger and she has an existential crisis about her line of work.

Seriously, every book goes this way. BUT, I still read them. As I wrote before, they still entertain me. It only takes me a couple of days to read one book and it’s really great to kind of turn off my brain for a bit when I open my Kindle to read one of these books. All the characters are so quirky and funny and sometimes the situations are so outrageous that you just have to laugh at how ridiculous they are.

This book is a bit more reminiscent of the earlier Plum books, in that there was slightly more structure and depth to the story. There were multiple stories to keep up with versus just the one main one and this is different from the last bunch of Plum book because many of them have been super fluffy and the story wasn’t quite there. I just wish that sometime soon Stephanie makes up her mind about Joe and Ranger. Neither relationship is going anywhere and I think it would add so much to the story for something big to happen with either of them.

Overall, I did enjoy this book much more than the last few. If you’ve never picked up a Stephanie Plum book, I encourage you to do so! They’re a quick, entertaining read and there are so many in the series now, that you’ll have books to read for the foreseeable future!

Did you read this book? What did you think?

Summer Bucket List Update #2 {Birthday Edition}

Okay, okay! How is everyone doing on their summer bucket lists???? Summer is FLYING by so I feel like I really have to get a move on things because I only have about a month and a half to complete everything on my list. EEK!

I was able to cross quite a few things off of my list a couple of weeks back thanks to my wonderful husband. I celebrated my birthday on June 29 and he planned our entire day based on my list. In fact, he even mentioned that he wants me to write a summer bucket list every summer because it made it super easy for him to plan the day :)

Okay, so here were the things I was able to cross off my list…

coronado ferry trip

Go to the beach/Take a ride on the Coronado Ferry
So, I really had no idea what was in store for me when I woke up on my birthday morning. It started with my husband making me breakfast then telling me to dress comfortably for warm weather. I did as I was told and we headed out. We actually drove to Coronado then took the ferry back to downtown San Diego. The ferry landing is right near where we took our engagement photos, so it was nice to do a little reminiscing while we were waiting for our ride. It was a gorgeous and clear day so the ride across the bay was lovely. We sat on the top level of the ferry and basked in the wonderful San Diego sun while enjoying the views.

padres game at petco park

Attended baseball game #1 of 3
So, we took the ferry to the San Diego Convention Center and walked to Petco Park for a Padres game! Woohoo! Before we got to game, we stopped off for a yummy lunch of fish and chips at The Tin Fish. This place is always a MUST for me before heading to a game at Petco. I’m a HUGE fan of fish and chips and they have a great patio and singer/guitar player to listen to while you’re munching on food. After lunch we headed into the park to watch the Padres play the Diamondbacks. After the game we took the ferry back to Coronado and headed home to take a much needed nap after being out in the afternoon sun!

picnic and sunset at sunset cliffs

Have a picnic/Watch the sunset from Sunset Cliffs
After our nap, we headed to Whole Foods for some cheese, crackers, fruit and other snacks and then to my favorite cupcake place in San Diego, Cupcakes Squared, for my birthday dessert. Cupcakes Squared did our wedding cupcakes and we head back to them every year for an “anniversary cake” and try to visit whenever we’re in their area. From there we drove to Sunset Cliffs for our picnic and the sunset. Unfortunately, the marine layer came in a bit early this day, so the sunset was a bit hard to see, but we enjoyed our time there anyhow.

playing the slots at viejas casino

Take a spontaneous trip
So, I officially have the BEST. HUSBAND. EVER. While we were on our way back from Sunset Cliffs, he had to stop and get gas before we went home. As he was filling up, my husband popped his head inside the car and said “let’s not go home and take a trip to the casino, find out which one is closest.” Woohoo! Off to Viejas Casino we went! My husband doesn’t really gamble (he says mostly because he never wins) so he actually just sat and watched me play for about an hour. Who else would do that???? I didn’t win anything, but it didn’t really matter to me because I had just had the most fantastic birthday :)

Earlier in the day I had mentioned wanting to see the Sea World fireworks, but since they don’t begin until about 9:45pm, I didn’t think I’d make it since I was beat. Turns out on our way back from Viejas, we actually saw the fireworks from the freeway! What perfect timing and the best end to the best day.

There you have it – update #2! If you didn’t read my first one, you can find it here. How’s your list coming along?

Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

sharp objects by gillian flynn

This was the second book by Gillian Flynn I’d read. The first book was Gone Girl which I read a little over a year ago. If you haven’t read it, it’s a “must read” to me. I think I finished it in a couple of days because I was so enthralled from the get-go. Once the second half of the book started (if you’ve read it, you know which part I’m referring to), I was so shocked and immediately thought the author had to be some sort of psychopath (and/or writing genius) to come up with such an intricate, mind-blowing plot.

Right after I read Gone Girl, I downloaded Gillian Flynn’s two other books,  Sharp Objects and Dark Places. Unfortunately I am only just getting to read the first one of them now.

Sharp Objects takes place in a small town in Missouri and is told by reporter Camille Preaker. Camille is based in Chicago, but is assigned to cover a pair of child murders in her small Missouri hometown of Wind Gap. As Camille arrives home, we are introduced to her deeply flawed family members and gain a glimpse into her troubled childhood and self-destructing past.

I was a fan of Sharp Objects, but it wasn’t the page-turner that completely enveloped me like Gone Girl. The characters were well-developed, but flawed in some of the most extreme ways possible. Maybe this makes them relatable to some, but to me they were so disturbed I couldn’t really identify with them. Obviously I know the world isn’t a perfect place and we all have flaws, but seriously EVERY single person in this book has huge psychological issues. Like, HUGE. Because of these things I didn’t like and couldn’t identify to any of the characters which is one of the things that made it difficult for me to keep reading.

I also tend to lean toward squeamish, and this book centers around the murder investigation of two young girls. Because of this, parts of this book were uncomfortable for me to read because of the detail in their description. I know this all may sound totally vague, but it’s hard to chat details without spoiling the book for those who haven’t read it!

I think if I would have read Sharp Objects prior to Gone Girl I would have liked it more. Gone Girl completely blew my mind, so I expected a lot out of this book. I guess, at the same time, though, it’s possible if I read this book first and then Gone Girl, I would have never wanted to read the latter. Who knows???? As you can tell, I’m a little up in the air about this book.

Did you read it? What did you think? Please share!

Summer Bucket List Update #1

So I’m 18 days into my summer bucket list challenge and things are going well.

I was so excited to kick this challenge off over Memorial Day weekend and had high hopes for crossing lots of things off my list. Unfortunately, I came down with a bad cold and literally slept the entire weekend. No joke, the day before Memorial Day I slept a total of 16 hours. Ugh. Needless to say, nothing got crossed of my list that weekend.

I’m feeling better now, so here’s what I’ve been up to…

james taylor at the hollywood bowl

Attended outdoor concert #1 of 3
This past weekend, my husband and I drove to LA to see James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl. I’ve been wanting to see him for the LONGEST time now and am so happy I was able to do it. He was incredibly charming and such a great entertainer. It was also our first time at the Hollywood Bowl and I must say it’s a great concert venue. If you have a chance to catch a show there, DO IT!

fresh pink peonies

Fresh flowers
So far, so good! I LOVE having fresh flowers in the house and have been able to keep up with this item so far. This week I had the GORGEOUS peonies above in our living room. It put me in a good mood every time I saw them.

Reading
I’m in the process of finishing book #1 of 7 – Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Look for the book review soon!

Working on first DIY project
I’m also finishing up a DIY welcome wreath for our front door! I’m combining a couple of different wreaths I saw on Pinterest, so I’m hoping it turns out as well as it looks in my head :) Stay tuned!

cheering on rock 'n' roll runners

Made a sign and cheered runners at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon
As you may have seen from my post about Why I Love Running, I made a sign and cheered on the runners of the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll half and full marathon! It was so much fun to do! My husband and I got up early enough to see the winner of the entire marathon go by us as well as the fastest woman to finish. 

Other things I’ve been doing…
Exercising as much as my schedule allows
Keeping up with my neighborhood walks
Writing and sending handwritten cards to friends/family

There you have it – update #1! How is your list going????

All photos from my Instagram profile

Heirloom Panzanella with Fresh Mozzarella and Homemade Croutons

In my almost nine years of living in San Diego, I’ve become a weather wimp.

panzanella salad with fresh mozzarella and homemade croutons

You may think since I was born and raised in California that I was already a weather wimp, but honestly I wasn’t always this way. I grew up outside of San Francisco in a city called Livermore. It’s located in the “tri-valley” and experienced all seasons weather-wise. In the winter it would often dip down below freezing overnight and in the summer we’d often experience 90-100 degree heat. The spring and fall were somewhere in between and absolutely gorgeous.

After high school, I moved to Texas for college where we’d experience one or two snow days a year and endured summers that were not only crazy hot, but suffocatingly humid (well, at least to this California girl they were). Even though I thought I was going to pass out every time I stepped outside that first hot year, I got used to it and eventually was able to go on long runs and wear jeans in the ridiculous heat and humidity.

panzanella salad with fresh mozzarella and homemade croutons

Here in San Diego it’s a perfect 70 degrees and sunny most days. I’m not saying that for you to hate me. Why would I want you to hate me? I’m saying it because that’s precisely the reason I’ve become a certified weather wimp. If the temperature is higher than 75 and lower than 65, I find myself complaining that it’s too hot/cold. Every TV weather forecast here begins with “it’s going to be another gorgeous day here in San Diego.” My husband and I always joke that being a weather forecaster in San Diego must be one of the easiest jobs out there because it’s the same weather each day :)

There are, though, about two weeks a year when it actually does reach the high 80s or low 90s and our well-insulated, air condition-less apartment is unbearable. We experienced one of those weeks in mid-May and all I wanted to eat were salads so I wouldn’t have to turn on the oven. This salad is perfect for one of those days. It’s filled with fresh ingredients and is light and refreshing. If you don’t want to turn on your stove and make the croutons, you can certainly use pre-made ones and get away from that stove or oven on a hot day!

Happy Summer and Enjoy!

Panzanella with Fresh Mozzarella and Homemade Croutons
Serves 4 as a first course

Ingredients
1 loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (I used a 14oz sourdough boule from Trader Joes)
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for croutons
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 small red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pound heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium English/hothouse cucumber, cut into bite-sized pieces
25 large basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
8 ounces good quality fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt
Pepper
Optional: Maldon finishing salt, balsamic reduction (I used balsamic glaze from Trader Joes), sliced avocado

Directions

  • Set out the cubed bread in a bowl for about an hour (if you don’t have the time, no problem, just skip this step). Pop a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the bread and a few sprinkles of salt.
  • Stir the bread frequently until they get nice and brown, about 10 minutes. If the pan gets too dry, add a little more oil as needed.
  • While the croutons are browning, combine the onion, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, basil and fresh mozzarella in a large bowl and mix thoroughly to combine all of the ingredients.
  • Season with the 1/2 cup olive oil, red wine vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the croutons and mix.
  • Serve immediately or let everything hang out together for about 30 minutes to let all the flavors meld nicely.
  • I like to serve this salad with a sprinkle of Maldon finishing salt and some balsamic glaze on top, but it’s wonderful as is. Sliced avocado is also a nice touch on top!

To make ahead - The croutons can be made a couple of days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The salad can also be assembled (minus the olive oil, vinegar and croutons) and kept in the fridge for a couple of hours. Once you’re ready, just add those ingredients and you’re good to go!

A note on the raw red onions - If biting into raw onion is too much for you, soak the onions in cold water for at least 10 minutes to take away some of their “bite.” Just drain them before adding to the salad!