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!

 

June Stitch Fix

stitch fix

Alright, alright, alright! It’s time for my June Stitch Fix review! Since my last fix I’ve added more things to my “Stitch Fix Style Inspiration” board on Pinterest to help my stylist really hone in on my style. For this fix, I wanted to, again, focus on casual spring and summer styles. I’ve also been finding a TON of cute outfits on Pinterest involving season-appropriate scarves, so I mentioned that, too.

So, here we go!

#1 Under Skies Rho Mixed Chevron Sleeveless Dress

under skies rho mixed chevron sleeveless dress

Unfortunately there wasn’t much I liked about this dress besides the fact that it was comfortable. I feel like the print and the fabric made the dress look and feel kind of cheap and it was a big fit all around. It was also too long for me as well. THE DECISION: Sent back.

#2 Spun Scarves by Subtle Luxury Mariella Bali Print Wrap Scarf

spun scarves by subtle luxury mariella bali print wrap scarf

Yay! I mentioned that I wanted scarf and Stitch Fix delivered on it! Love the colors of this scarf and the design. Stitch Fix recently posted about styling summer scarves, and this one will certainly be a part of my outfits in the coming months! THE DECISION: Kept.

#3 Renee C Cheli Striped Maxi Dress

renee c cheli striped maxi dress

When I first saw I was getting a maxi dress I was a bit worried. I love maxi dresses, but because I’m so petite, they’re typically WAY too long for me. I was pleasantly surprised that this one was the right length and didn’t make me look like I was swimming in the dress. This dress is simple, but super stylish and I love how it can cover up a lot for those days when I don’t feel so trim and fit :) THE DECISION: Kept.

#4 Level 99 Patrick Cropped Chino Pant

level 99 patrick cropped chino pant

Not a fan of these pants. The color reminded me of something between a periwinkle blue and washed out 80s jeans. On the plus side they were really comfy, but they were also really big, especially around the waste, so they made me look like my stomach puffed out more than it normally does. THE DECISION: Sent back.

#5 Renee C Ventura Chevron Print Keyhole Detail Tank

renee c ventura chevron print keyhole detail tank

This tank is great for warm weather! It’s really lightweight and I love the keyhole detail in the front and back. It was a tiny bit too big, but just like the maxi dress, it will be great on those days where I want something loose to cover up my midsection :) THE DECISION: I was on the fence, but I decided to keep this one.

There you have it, I was 3/5 for this fix. What do you think? Did I keep the right things?

_____________

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 :)

 

Why I Love Running

I’ve been a runner for almost 20 years.

running bibs and medals

A small sample of my running bibs and medals

Seriously, I just said almost 20 years. I’m a month shy of my 32nd birthday, so you do the math.

Of course, I’m not saying that’s the first time I ever ran, but the first time I felt the “running bug” and began doing it outside of P.E. in school. In high school, I’d go for a run to relax after coming home from school or cheerleading practice before tackling my homework for the evening. In college, I’d run between classes, after class or when I was really procrastinating and not wanting to study. I remember one time when I went on two runs in one day (only a few hours apart) because I had so much studying that I didn’t want to do and thought running would be a better way to spend my time. In grad school I found that I didn’t have much time to run during the year, but I’d always find my way back to it in the summer when I’d be bored and broke. At that point in my life, running was my cheap entertainment.

As an adult, I go through phases. I’ll go for months at a time without going for a run, but once I get the motivation to put my shoes on and go, I always begin to wonder why it had been so long since my last run. It’s something that’s really gotten into my core and has become a part of me, as silly as that may sound to some people. I love the wind in my face, music in my ears and the feeling I have after a great, long run. I love that it’s also a way to stay fit without having to pay for an expensive gym membership or equipment. It’s just you and your shoes.

Running is also more than just exercise to me; it’s one of the many things my dad and I do together. It has become a father-daughter tradition that we run the Bay to Breakers each year. The race takes place the 3rd Sunday in May and this past month we ran our 11th one together. Up until 2009, it was a race we also did with my uncle Javi. He passed away from cancer in late 2010 and wasn’t able to run due to his treatment the last two times it was held while he was with us. Those two years he had to sit out, my dad and I would visit him the day before the race and the three of us would talk about all of the fun times we had running together. The first race after his passing, my dad and I wore shirts with a picture of him running on it to honor him and our tradition.

bay to breakers 2014

My dad, husband and me right before beginning the 2014 Bay to Breakers

In November 2009, I ran my first half marathon. I trained pretty hard for it and had such an inexplicable sense of accomplishment at the end and since then I’ve run three more. It’s funny because I’ve had the same feelings before and after every single one – as I’m waiting to begin, I’m cold, tired and am really questioning why I wanted to get up so early and run so far AND why I paid a good chunk of money to do it. During the race, I forget about all of that and get into my groove and then afterward no matter how much my body hurts, I’m on such a high that I immediately think ahead to the next race I want to sign up for. It’s so crazy because before each half I tell myself that I won’t go through it all again, but something always brings me back.

I didn’t realize how important running was to me until a few years back when I was diagnosed with runner’s knee. I was at work when I noticed my right knee was about three times its normal size. I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t put any weight on my right leg. One of my co-workers took me to Urgent Care where a physician told me that I had arthritis and should never run again. Right after he left the room, I started crying. My thoughts jumped straight to the Bay to Breakers, my dad and how I could go the rest of my life without doing something that brought me such strength, joy and confidence. After some x-rays it turned out I didn’t have arthritis (thanks, Urgent Care doc for jumping the gun on that diagnosis), but runner’s knee. It’s nothing serious at this point, but flare ups can happen at any time and the treatment is a lot of rest, ice and strengthening exercises.

I’ve come to know a lot of people who absolutely detest running. They always ask my why I love it, but it’s never something that I’ve really tried to put into words before now. Besides all of the reasons I just put down, here are some others for why I love it…

I love the control I have over my own body when I run.

I love that even though it can be painful, it makes me feel great.

I love that if I’m having a bad day, I can put on my running shoes and hit the open road and all of my troubles can seem to dissipate and I begin to think about and take in all of the beauty that surrounds me.

cheering on rock 'n' roll runners

Cheering on Rock ‘n’ Roll runners

This morning I got up early because I was so excited to cross something off my summer bucket list and cheer on the runners of the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll half and full marathon. I’ve always appreciated the strangers who line the street of every race I’ve taken part it and today I wanted to return the favor. I was so glad I had the honor of seeing the fastest man and woman to finish the race run by me and cheer them on. Congrats to all of those who finished today on a job well done!

Are you a runner? Why do you love running?

 

Happy Weekend!

Happy Weekend!

Not only is Memorial Day weekend the unofficial start of summer, this year it marks the start of my Summer Bucket List challenge! I have been itching to cross things off my list, so I hope to make the most out of this weekend and start summer off on the right foot.

No matter your plans, I hope you have a fun and safe weekend and take some time to stop and smell the roses!

P.S. I took this photo of a rose from my aunt’s yard a couple of weekends ago. Isn’t it breathtaking? Her green thumb is envious!

roseENJOY YOUR WEEKEND!

Book Review: The One & Only by Emily Giffin

I’m a HUGE Emily Giffin fan.

the one and only by emily griffin

I read her first book, Something Borrowedin June of 2007. I had just finished grad school and didn’t have a job, so I read a ton of books to pass the time (when I wasn’t looking for a job, of course). I fell in love with her characters, her writing style and I knew I just had to read everything she wrote. I finished Something Borrowed in two days and even stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it and was at the bookstore early the next morning to buy the follow-up, Something Blueand her third book, Baby Proof, both of which I finished in one or two sittings.

Fast forward almost seven years, I’ve purchased and read all of Emily’s subsequent novels the day they’ve come out. I get completely caught up in her characters and stories and for the short time it takes me to read her novels, nothing else exists and they’re all I can think about. I was on vacation in Park City two years ago when her last book, Where We Belong, came out and I stayed in for an entire day reading it and was so sad when it was over, that I immediately read it again.

Not only do I love Emily’s books, but I also adore her. I follow her on Facebook and Twitter and her personality is fantastic and she has created such a great community with her readers. We have a ton in common and I want her to be my BFF. Really.

Her new book The One & Only was released this past Tuesday. I pre-ordered the book on my Kindle and it actually downloaded the night before the book was supposed to be released. Eek! I was so excited and began reading it immediately and finished it at 2:30 this morning.

The book takes place in the college football-obsessed town of Walker, Texas and is told from the point-of-view of Shea Rigsby. Just like the rest of the town’s residents, Shea’s world revolves around football and the hometown Walker University Broncos; she attended Walker University and at the start of the book works in it’s athletic department. The book begins with a somber, tragic event which leads Shea to re-evaluate everything in her life including her job and boyfriend. Underneath it all, this book is really about finding your true passion and love in life and following it to wherever it takes you no matter how scary that prospect may be.

Emily has a way with words that is enviable to me. She is great at creating memorable characters who you want to be friends with in real life (or at least, I do). This book wasn’t my absolute favorite of Emily’s (that title goes to Something Borrowed or Where We Belong), but I still enjoyed it. I loved that the book took place in Texas because it reminded me of the years I lived there while I was in college. She even mentioned Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village which I’ve been to quite a few times and was one of my favorite restaurants in Texas. Also, the amount of football research she did to write this book was incredible and much appreciated.

While I did like Shea, I can’t say she’s one of my favorite characters Emily has created. Coach Carr was also a likable character, but not as “dreamy” on paper as some of the leading men in her previous books. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the Shea/Coach Carr relationship. I didn’t find anything wrong with it, but to me it wasn’t totally believable. I didn’t get as hooked to these characters and this story like I have in the past, but the story was intriguing and I was interested enough to see where the characters ended up once the book was over – hence staying up until 2:30 in the morning to finish the book. There is A LOT of football talk in the book, so I could see how if you didn’t like the sport or don’t know a lot about it, those parts of the book could be boring or annoying.

Overall, I did like the book and if you’ve read all of Emily’s other books, this one is another one to add to your list. If you’ve never read one of her books, I’d start with the Something Borrowed/Something Blue series or Where We Belong then move on to this one. Not that if you read this one first, you wouldn’t like her writing or wouldn’t want to read anything else of hers, but I think the others showcase her way with words and ability to create an all-consuming story a bit better.

Did you read this book? Or have you read any of Emily Giffin’s other books? What did you think?

My Summer 2014 Bucket List

Making lists and crossing things off my lists make me happy. Like really happy.

2014 summer bucket listSo much so, in college I’d make daily to do lists that actually included things like – wake up, brush teeth, shower, eat lunch, etc. It’s not that I needed a reminder to do these things, but because I LOVE the feeling of accomplishment once I get to cross something off my list, I’d put super simple things on there to make me feel better about what I’d done in a day. So even if I didn’t do the big things like finish a paper or read five chapters in a textbook, I could look at my list at the end of the day and see that I actually did things I could cross off. Even if that thing was just waking up. Call it what you will, but that’s how I roll.

This week, one of my favorite food bloggers, posted a summer bucket list. Not only did I freak out because I love lists, but also because I feel like every summer I make such grand plans in my head for things I want to do and then when September rolls around, I feel bummed that I didn’t do a lot of them. This list will (hopefully) hold me accountable and make this a fantastic summer!

So here we go…MY 2014 SUMMER BUCKET LIST to be completed Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend (May 24 – September 1).

  • Read 7 books. I’ve totally fallen off the book-reading wagon as of late and need to hop back on!
  • Exercise as much as possible. NO EXCUSES!
  • Go to 3 outdoor concerts. I already have one on my calendar!
  • Go to the beach at least 5 times. This one seems silly because I live in San Diego, but I honestly don’t go to the beach that often. I think the last time I went was New Year’s Eve!
  • Take a vacation! We’ve already got dates marked off, but now we need to decide where to go and actually make the plans!
  • Go to another movie at Cinema Under the Stars.
  • Go to 3 baseball games. In high school and during my summers home from college, I pretty much lived at the Oakland Coliseum where the A’s play. So much so, that all of the ushers, ticket takers and A’s relief pitchers knew my name (I would sit right near the A’s bullpen). Since moving to San Diego, I haven’t really ever followed the Padres and haven’t been able to make the trip to Oakland for nearly as many games as I’d like. Hopefully I can change that!
  • Actually take my bike out for a ride. I bought a bike last year when I started my new job since I work about a 1/2 mile from home. My plan was to ride my bike to work everyday, but instead I’ve just been walking and my bike is collecting dust. I WILL take at least one bike ride this summer.
  • Have a picnic in the park. I got engaged during a picnic in a park, so it’s something I feel like I should do more often for nostalgia’s sake. A couple of years ago, my husband and I had a streak of a few weekends in a row where we’d pack a picnic, head to the park, eat and then play frisbee or read, but it’s been a while.
  • Take the ferry to Coronado.
  • Make burrata cheese at home.
  • Redecorate my living room and bedroom.
  • Complete 5 DIY projects around the house.
  • Make 4 new ice creams.
  • Take a spontaneous day trip.
  • Take a walk around my neighborhood at least once a week. My North Park neighborhood ROCKS! Great restaurants, bars, beer tasting rooms and shops open up almost weekly it seems. I’ve been to many, but still have a lot to explore!
  • Go to 3 restaurants in San Diego I’ve never been to. I eat at the same places all of the time. I need to branch out!
  • Watch a sunset from Sunset Cliffs.
  • Go to a farm and pick my own fruit.
  • Cross something off of my foodie bucket list.
  • Send 10 handwritten cards to friends/family. 
  • Always have fresh flowers in the house. Who doesn’t love fresh flowers????
  • Make a sign and cheer on runners at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. I’ve always appreciated the well-wishers that line the streets of every race I’ve ran, so I’ll be doing the same this year!
  • Have fun, relax and live each day to the fullest!

Okay, there’s my list! I plan on writing mini-updates as I begin to mark things off as well as add to this list as things pop in my head. I’ll post pictures of as many things as I can, so follow me on  Twitter and Instagram for updates, too!

Now that I’ve written mine, what’s on your summer bucket list????