Tag Archives: Santa Monica

Birthday Party Adventure! (or Another Traditional Celebration)

I’ve celebrated my birthday at Bodega Wine Bar a couple of times now. It’s such a great place to have a casual birthday hangout so when I was trying to plan what to do for my birthday this year I had going back to Bodega at the top of my list. I looked at having a party at other locations, but I kept coming back to thinking Bodega would be perfect. So I gave them a call and they were able to get me the same section I’ve had in the past for a birthday party this past Saturday! So it was another Bodega birthday adventure!

Before my party, I actually decided to go to DryBar to get a blowout. There is now a DryBar right by my house, so that’s so much easier than having to drive 10-15 minutes to another location. I could walk there, but that day was so hot and humid and I didn’t want to ruin my hairstyle on the walk back. Fortunately there was a meter right in front of the salon for me!

The blowout only took about 30 minutes so that gave me plenty of time to go back home so I could relax a bit before getting ready to go out. I didn’t take a photo of my outfit, but I decided to try to be dressy and casual at the same time so I wore a basic black sundress with some cute heels. And then it was time to head over to Bodega!

And I lucked out with a parking meter again! I found one that was right around the corner and it was free since it was after 6pm! It was perfect and I walked right over to see who was an early bird for the party.

I’m glad I wasn’t the first person to arrive because I always hate waiting for people. And right after I got there more people started to arrive. I’m glad I got a reserved section again because it made things much easier for us. The bar was a bit crowded with some other parties and this way we didn’t have to worry about finding space for everyone. Although at one point there were maybe 15 of us there and it was getting a bit crowded. But I don’t think that anyone really minded that.

I hadn’t had a drink since my birthday party last year, but I knew I’d be ordering one at my party this time. My liver surgeon has told me that I can drink, but I haven’t been drinking since I don’t want to put more stress on my liver than I need to. But this was a special occasion so I figured it was a good time to have my first drink in a year!

I knew my tolerance for alcohol would be down, but I was actually surprised how low it was. I’ve had time without drinking before and it never seemed like I lost too much of my tolerance. This time, I was able to drink maybe about half of it before I felt like it was hitting me. I ordered food to help me feel a bit better, but I ended up not drinking any more of my drink. It was delicious, but I guess I need to realize that I can’t drink the way I could before (at least not for a while).

But I didn’t have my party to be able to drink. I had it so I could hang out with my friends and have fun. And that’s exactly what happened! I love when different groups of friends come together and meet. And this had people from so many different parts of my life there. It was so fun watching my neighbor talk to someone who is part of the leadership of the Unite for Strength slate. Or to see one of my Disney friends talk to someone from my WIF mentoring group. It was just awesome sitting back and watching people get to know each other and have my worlds combine!

I didn’t want any presents (although I did tell people if they wanted to do something they could donate to Unite for Strength) because I wanted this to feel more like a regular fun hangout and not a birthday party. I didn’t want anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me or make anything a big deal. Some of my friends did pay for my food and drink, so that was special and I wasn’t expecting it. All I wanted from my friends was to have them there and get to have fun with them.

We ended up being at Bodega for a pretty long time. It was getting a bit noisy and I think most of us aren’t usually late night people so by 11:30 we were all ready to go. People had been coming and going all night so it was a rotating group of people there, but pretty much everyone who was still there decided to leave when at the same time at the end.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday adventure. It was fun and no-stress. Everyone there seemed to have a great time and that’s what I wanted. I always want everyone else to have fun and that’s what makes me happy!

While this was the main birthday adventure for me, what I have to write about in tomorrow’s post was almost the grand finale of the birthday fun!

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Air Food (or French Food In Santa Monica)

Because of this blog, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do some really cool stuff. And this past weekend, I got to do one of those cool things! Through a friend who I know through Orangetheory, I was able to attend the soft opening of a brand new restaurant in Santa Monica! And I’m so excited to share with you all about the amazing experience I had at Air Food!

Air Food was started by Marc and Thierry who both come from Paris. They started with doing pop-up restaurants there wanting to create gastronomic food with a variety of foods. They became very popular and decided to open a restaurant in LA, which is how Air Food was born!

I haven’t had many opportunities to try French food, so I was beyond excited to attend this dinner! I had a feeling that I was in for an amazing night of food, and fortunately one of the new dresses I bought recently was the perfect thing to wear since it wasn’t too body conscious and I would be able to enjoy all the food there.

When I arrived at Air Food, I was the first soft opening customer there. I was a bit nervous about that and was wondering if maybe I should have waited to arrive, but Marc immediately came over to greet me and I think being there first was a total blessing. Marc introduced me to Thierry who was busy cooking and then he introduced me to the space and the food that they have there.

I loved the space. It’s a pretty small restaurant, but that makes it great! It’s not too crowded and there is a mix of seating at tables and at the bar for people to choose from. And Marc let me know that being at the bar was best because then I would have a view of the kitchen and could watch all the cooking going on. And for the customers at the tables, they would be able to watch all the excitement of the cooking through a camera that is in the kitchen that will be played on a large tv.

Marc also showed me their full water menu. For me, going to a place that has different types of water is perfect. I don’t drink soda and I’m not really drinking alcohol right now, so knowing that I have a choice beyond plain tap water makes me so happy.

Marc showed me the water wall and told me about all the different bottles and where they came from. I’ve never gotten to experience meeting someone so knowledgeable about water, but it made me want to learn more about water options for my house beyond just drinking filtered tap water. I told Marc about how I like sparkling water, especially with orange flavor, and he suggested that with my food I try a new tangerine/lemongrass water from Voss. I agreed that it sounded perfect and took my seat at the bar to get ready to have some delicious food!

To start, Thierry prepared some foie gras for me. I’ve never had foie gras before and was intrigued to try it. I’m not too adventurous of an eater, but I’m glad I tried it and I have so many friends who are so excited to find out that there is a new restaurant in LA that serves their favorite treat!

I was then presented with the menu for the soft opening. Everything on the menu that night will be available when they open, but there are some things that will be on the regular menu that weren’t an option for me. But even with fewer options, there was plenty for me to choose from and I was torn on what I wanted to eat!

What pleased me the most seeing the menu was seeing how reasonable the prices were for the food. I know that when I think French food (and sometimes when I think of Santa Monica restaurants) I think of expensive prices that I usually can’t afford. But everything on the menu is affordable even for me! After going back and forth on a few things that sounded delicious (and with a little input from Marc), I decided on the artichoke gratin and the rib eye steak.

The gratin was so creamy and I loved that it had truffles in it! And artichokes are one of my favorites so I was so happy that there were giant pieces of artichokes in the gratin and the pieces weren’t hidden in there. And the steak was so perfectly cooked! It was tender and flavorful and I wasn’t able to stop eating it!

But I probably should have paced myself a bit because then there was also dessert to order.

I was so full, but after thinking about it I decided to order the apple tart for dessert. I love apple tart and recently had a great one at Wood & Vine. So I wanted to see how awesome this one would be since I knew it would be incredible. And when it arrived I wasn’t disappointed.

Not only was it beautiful (and it was so beautiful that I didn’t want to cut into it), but it was so good! It was light and the pastry wasn’t too much. It was a refreshing dessert that seemed like the perfect way to end the meal.

There is no question that I will be returning to Air Food. And even though the event I went to was a soft opening, you are all in luck! Because Air Food is having their grand opening today! So if you are in Santa Monica, you need to make sure you stop by for lunch or dinner. And make sure you say hi to Marc and Thierry! They have created such an amazing restaurant and I’m so excited for everyone else to get to experience the food to see how lucky we all are that we now have this food in Santa Monica!

Being An LA Tourist (or A Fun Saturday Night Out)

One of the reasons I missed the Festival Of Books was because I had plans on Saturday night.

I had dinner plans with some friends to celebrate a birthday. We had dinner reservations at Loteria Grill. I had never been there before, but I checked out them menu online and it looked quite yummy! And the location that we were going to was in Santa Monica, so it wasn’t too far for me to go (and there are parking structures all around that area so parking isn’t too horrible). It was actually located super close to my old day job, so I’m surprised that I had never been there before.

I ended up being the first one getting there (I knew that was going to happen), so I pursued the menu while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. After everyone else arrived (and doing some table moving), it was time to order and have fun.

I didn’t take any pictures of the food, but I had a burrito and it was delicious! It wasn’t a crazy sized burrito (like so many places serve) so I ate it all and it was perfect! We had also ordered chips and guacamole for the table. The guacamole was really good, but the serving size was a little small so that was disappointing.

After dinner, we decided to walk around Santa Monica for a bit. I love how they have the twinkle lights on the trees at 3rd Street Promenade up all year round! It makes it look festive all the time.

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We then decided to walk down to the pier. It’s not too long of a walk and I was happy to add more steps to my steps for the day. The pier was pretty crowded and there were a lot of street performers there. But it’s still fun to get to be out by the ocean.

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We thought about going on to the ferris wheel (I’ve never done it and have always wanted to), but the line for tickets was crazy long and the ride would have cost $8. So we settled on watching it light up over the water instead.

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We headed back before it got too late. The crowds were a bit overwhelming and it was starting to get a bit cold. I actually had forgotten my jacket at home so while we were at dinner I went across the way to Old Navy to buy a new hoodie (which will now live in my car as an emergency hoodie).

I don’t do a ton of touristy things in LA. It’s usually very crowded, there are people trying to sell you things or get you to pay them for something, and many touristy things aren’t that interesting to me. But the pier is something that I still love and am willing to play tourist for.

One More Outing To Bar Food (or A Friend Leaving LA)

After my training at the new job, I headed back over to my side of town to go see my friend Kate. Kate is moving away from LA today and I wanted to go and hang out with her before she left.

It’s been a fun novelty to have my best friend living in the same city as me. We grew up living close to each other. When we went to college, I moved here to LA and she moved to Minnesota. While I’ve been in LA for 12 1/2 years (wow, I’ve been here a long time!), Kate has moved around. She’s lived in Minnesota, Ireland, Missouri, Alabama, and Washington State. I’ve visited her over the years (only to Minnesota and Washington) but when she moved here about a year an a half ago, it was awesome!

It had been so long since we lived an easy driving distance away from each other (or in the same state). We’ve had some awesome adventures and I got to show Kate why I think that LA is the most amazing place to live.

But Kate’s boyfriend lives up in the Bay Area and she got a job offer up there, so she has to leave. When I went over to her apartment, I kept her company while she did some packing. We also spent a while reminiscing about funny stories that happened in high school. It was a pretty fun afternoon.

Once Kate got most of her packing for that day done, we headed out for dinner. Kate’s roommate, Beth, joined us as well. We just walked across the street to go to Bar Food. They don’t have free happy hour hot dogs anymore (they are now $2 each), but we all wanted to get some real dinner.

We started off with getting some drinks, where of course I ordered a Dirty Shirley.

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We ordered some spicy edamame to share for the table (I forgot to take a picture but it was really yummy!) and for my dinner, I ordered mac and cheese.

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It was the perfect dinner for a rainy evening. We also got some bread pudding for dessert, but of course I forgot to get a picture of that too.

While I’m sad that my best friend is moving out-of-town, I’m happy for her. She’s moving closer to her boyfriend and her new job is really amazing. She’s going to kick butt there. Plus, it’s only a short flight to the Bay Area and I go up there anyway to see my parents. So hopefully we will hang out more than we did when she lived in another state.

So if you are reading this in the morning, please think good driving thoughts for Kate. She’s driving up north with 2 cats in the backseat, one of whom is a good traveler and one that she’s not too sure of yet.

And I’m sure that the next time that Kate and I hang out, it will be another amazing adventure!

5K #9 (or I Still Don’t Like The Rain)

5K #9 was this past Saturday. And before I recap my race, here’s a little information about me.

I hate the rain.

Well, I guess that’s not completely true. I like the rain when I can stay inside and not have to deal with it. I will avoid running errands in the rain if I can help it. And while I do own umbrellas, I never remember to use them (or it takes too long to close them up when I’m getting into my car so I get wetter than if I was not using an umbrella). I’m definitely a California girl who prefers sunshine to anything else.

And of course, the forecast for race day was rain. Lots of rain.

On Friday, I went to get my race number and shirt after work. I was lucky that the pickup location was only a few blocks from work, so it was easy to get over there.

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I went to bed hoping that the forecast was wrong. Or maybe that the rain would stop during the race.

When I woke up, this is what the forecast looked like.

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See that dot that says Santa Monica? That’s where I was going. And it was going to be raining for a long time.

My friend Kate was also doing this race (she was going to run it so we weren’t necessarily racing together), so I picked her up and we headed over to the race area. We lucked out in finding a parking meter about a block from the start/finish line so we hung out in the car until it was closer to the start time. I took my before picture in the car because I didn’t want to get wet.

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Once it was almost race time, we headed over to the start. Kate went up to the front of the pack with the fast runners and I hung back with the slow runners/walkers. It was drizzling at the start, so while I wasn’t happy about rain, it wasn’t too bad.

I’d say for the first 1.5 miles, it was drizzling with an occasional quick shower of rain. Not great, but not horrible. But right before I got to the 2 mile marker, it started to pour. I’m talking sheets of rain where it was hard for me to see. I was absolutely soaked. My clothes had water dripping off of them.

I finally finished (in under an hour so I’m happy about that) and headed back to the car where Kate was waiting for me (she wanted to get out of the rain too). I had Kate take a quick after photo of me, but you can’t tell how drenched I got.

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And even though I don’t like the rain and hated being wet, I’m smiling because I did it! Not only did I do another 5K (and almost double what my goal was for this year), I did one in the rain, which is something that I never thought I’d do. I don’t know if I’d like to do another race in the rain, but if I’m signed up for one and it happens to be raining that day, now I know that I can finish it.

I can’t believe I’m done with my 2013 races. When I set the goal to do 5 this year, I thought that would be a stretch. I’m really proud of myself that I did beyond my goal. I’m looking forward to the ones I’m planning on doing in 2014. I’m not necessarily going to focus on the number of races, but I want to sign up for ones that seem like they would be super fun to do.

And of course, I’ll keep doing recaps of the ones that I do end up doing next year.

Low Key Halloween (or Costume Flashback)

My Halloween wasn’t all too exciting. First of all, I had a full shift at work. We usually work evening shifts on Thursdays but we switched to an early shift so we’d all have time to go out after work (plus, we didn’t want to be calling people while they were out trick-or-treating with their kids).

Work was ok. The co-worker who hates me was not as mean to me as she was the other day. She still mumbled whenever I said something and made it seem as if I was completely unwelcome at work, but the horrible name calling did stop. I’m applying for new jobs every day, but it’s very hard to find something that pays enough and has the flexibility for auditions. But I’m trying.

I did dress up on Halloween. I figured why not? But I did pick a costume that didn’t look too outrageous while I was working. I decided to go as Minnie Mouse.

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Yes, I wore the hooded scarf I bought the last time I was at Disneyland! While I was working, I just kept the hooded scarf off to the side (I really couldn’t make phone calls while I was wearing it). And without the hooded scarf, my outfit seemed pretty normal so I blended in with my work (where only 2 other people dressed up).

This technically is a repeat costume for me since I went as Minnie Mouse for Halloween once as a little kid.

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I think if I could combine the dress I wore as a kid with my hooded scarf, that would be an amazing costume!

After work, I met some friends at Bodega Wine Bar (where I had my 30th birthday party). We were there during happy hour so we took advantage of the cheap drinks and food. While there were a couple of people dressed up for Halloween at the bar, not everyone was in costume.

After some drinks and food, we all headed home. I didn’t want to be up too late since I had an early shift at work the next morning, plus I wanted to be off the road before there were a lot of drunk drivers out. I was home around 9:30 and enjoyed the rest of my Halloween relaxing and watching “Grey’s Anatomy”.

While in some ways I wish I had had a crazy fun Halloween night, I’m okay that I did something low-key. Halloween can be stressful and right now, I don’t need to add any more stress to my life.

The only regret I have about my Halloween is that I didn’t get too many opportunities to wear a costume this year. I missed out on my favorite Halloween party this year so that was one fewer costumed outing than I thought I’d have this year. I’ll just have to make up for it next year.

Birthday Evening (or What Happened After 4pm)

So, the adventures of my 30th birthday continue.

After getting my hair done, I went home to get dressed for my party at Bodega Wine Bar. I had rented a cute sparkly top from Gwynnie Bee and I was super excited to wear it! The only problem was, the top was now a little too big on me (guess I have been losing a bit of weight). So I ended up wearing a sweater on top to cover up the too-big arm holes. But I think I looked pretty cute.

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The actual party was pretty chill, which is exactly how I wanted it. My friend Rayshell came over to my house early (since she works very close to where I live), so we hung out for a bit before heading over to the bar.

When we got to Bodega, we saw the reserved sign right away.

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The area we got was right next to the bar (we had a waitress so that didn’t matter too much) and right by a window looking out onto the street (that will come into play a bit later).

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Over the course of the evening, about 15 people made it out to celebrate with me. But it was nice that everyone wasn’t there at once so I actually had a chance to chat with everyone who made it.

As I mentioned before, Rayshell was there.

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So were my friends Kate and Beth.

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And my friend Jennifer who was married earlier this year (her husband came too!).

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As well as a bunch of other people (too many pictures to include everyone on here!).

I ended up drinking Prosecco the entire evening (it is one of my favorite things), but our waitress also brought over some celebratory shots for the group to enjoy as well (one was a Soju pineapple mint thing and I don’t remember what the other was). We also got some food for the table.

While the entire evening was fun, one of the funniest things that happened was when one of my co-workers tried to come by. I guess that she forgot to grab her ID with her when she came, so the bouncer wouldn’t let her in. As she was leaving, she noticed me in the window and I guess either she was waving or pointing at me (my back was to the window, so I only heard from my friends that someone was trying to get my attention). I saw her, walked over to the bouncer, and we finally convinced him to let her in without an ID. I was getting a good laugh from that.

Eventually, the evening came to a close (it was pretty close to midnight and I had to work the next morning).

I’m usually not the sort of person who has birthday parties. I normally just do a bunch of little events. Those seem easier to organize and are less stressful. But I have to say that this party was so much fun! I didn’t feel stressed at all (thanks Bodega for making things easy on us!) and I got to see a bunch of friends!

To everyone who said happy birthday to me (in person, on Facebook, on twitter, via email, on the phone), thank you! I had an amazing birthday and you were all a part of it!

Now, I get to move on with my life as a 30-something!

Bloggers And Bellinis (or A Fabulous Brunch With Fabulous People)

I’ve attended several events that have been organized by Eventbrite (the amazing online ticketing service that I’ve used so many times!). I’ve always had an amazing time, so when I got an email inviting me to Bloggers And Bellinis, I RSVPed yes right away!

The brunch was held at 41 Ocean, which is a private club right by the Santa Monica Pier. This was my first time there, and since it is a bit hidden, I had to circle back to find it. Our brunch was held in the courtyard, and it was so pretty!

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It was assigned seating at the brunch (it gave me a great opportunity to chat with bloggers I didn’t know). I loved the message that Leila, the marketing manager for Eventbrite, wrote on my place card!

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We had a couple of options for our main course for brunch.

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I chose the omelet. And of course, since it was brunch, there was champagne.

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I spent a lot of time chatting with the three other bloggers at my table and getting advice from them on how to make my blog grow and be better (I’m hoping to have some improvements on here in the coming months!). I’ve found it tough to find supportive bloggers out there (people seem to not want to share information), but fortunately, I was seated with super supportive people!

Eventually, our food came.

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There was also fruit, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and salad at the table (I forgot to take pictures of those). It was a really yummy and filling meal, and I had the best dessert at the table!

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These are macarons from Napoleon’s Macarons! They were seriously so delicious! And they gave me a secret discount word to share with you all! If you want to try a 6 pack of macarons (and why wouldn’t you?), whisper “Bonjour Napoleon” and you will get 40% off of your 6 macarons (offer is good through August 27th)!

After the meal, Leila led all of us in a trivia game about Eventbrite.

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I got 7 out of 10 questions right, so I knew a bunch, but sadly didn’t win (the winner got a $50 credit to attend any event on Eventbrite!).

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to my fellow bloggers. I had a bunch of errands I wanted to get done over the weekend, and even though I wanted to stay at brunch all day, I knew I needed to head home.

On my way out, I got a fabulous gift bag.

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And it was filled with some awesome goodies including things from Krave Jerky, KIND Bars, Cardio Barre, Uber (this link is good for a $10 credit!), and Pretzel Crisps.

This was such a wonderful event to go to, and I wanted to thank Leila for inviting me! I’m already looking forward to my next Eventbrite event!

Are You Freaking Kidding Me?!?!?!?! (or It Feels Like “Groundhog Day”)

Remember me wishing that car accidents wouldn’t be an annual thing? How about not wishing that car accidents would be a weekly thing?

Yup. I got into another accident. And before you think of me as a horrible driver, the accident last week involved someone backing up into me. So unless I could see the future, it was pretty hard to avoid that one (and it was not my fault at all).

This time, I was trying to merge lanes and a driver sped up to avoid letting me in. So I ended up tapping the rear bumper of their car. Sadly, my car got most of the damage. It’s not bad, but it’s not pretty.

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The woman from the other car insisted on getting the police involved, but the officer didn’t write up a report.

I planned on handling this outside of insurance. The other driver had a small scratch on her rear bumper, so I figured it couldn’t be too expensive to fix (it was a car similar to mine, not super fancy). But when she called me later that day to tell me how much it was, the estimate from the only shop she was willing to go to was over $1,000. I would also have to pay for her rental car, which almost doubled the cost she quoted me. She also mentioned possibly needing new tires after the accident and getting her lawyer involved.

All of this was a little too much for me to handle on my own, so I’m going through my insurance now (that’s what they are there for, right?). I eventually want to get my car fixed, but my deductible is $500 so I need to save up for that. I think I can save it up by the time I go to the wedding, so if I get my car fixed then, I won’t need to worry about a rental car (my insurance will only pay 80% of the rental fee).

The only funny thing about this entire incident was when I was talking with the police officer. I mentioned how any minute, my boss would be driving by (the accident occurred on the freeway off ramp closest to my work) and he would most likely be laughing at me. And as soon as I said that, my boss drove by, and yes, he was laughing (in his defense, he says he wasn’t laughing at me but just smiling nervously).

I’m hoping that this accident is the last bit of bad luck that I have for a while. I feel like I’m due for some happy things now.

Playing Beach Chicken (or How To Fully Enjoy Only Having To Work A Half Day On Saturdays)

I’m making an effort to fully enjoy the time that I have on Saturdays after I work my half shift at work (my shift then is from 10-2). So this past Saturday, my friend Kate and I made a plan to hang out for the afternoon.

First stop was Monte Alban for lunch. I got fajitas (which were delicious).

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But I did notice that on the menu, they had a pretty odd option for a meat.

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After lunch, we drove up PCH to go find a fun beach to hang out at. We ended up at Thornhill Broome Beach because the beach was super close to the road (unlike in Santa Monica where it’s 1/4 mile or so from where to park to the water).

It was such a gorgeous day out.

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We got our feet in the water a bit.

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And then we played beach chicken. Beach chicken is essentially playing chicken with the waves. You go out into the water and only run away when the wave is going to be too big (or for me, when the wave was going to get my clothes wet).

Honestly, it was a lot of fun.

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At least until a bigger wave came and was higher than my knees.

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I really don’t take advantage of living near the water as often as I should. I don’t think I went to the beach at all last summer. And the last time I had my feet in the water was probably 2 or 3 years ago (I’m not a huge fan of the ocean).

But running in and out of the waves really was an awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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Eventually, we had to head back to our part of town. I needed to run errands and Kate had a super early day at work the next day and wanted to go to bed early. On the drive back, we saw a lot of people surfing, and even a kite surfer (who seemed to be going very fast).

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It really was a great way to spend a free afternoon. I’m going to make an effort to make it to the beach a few more times this summer. Maybe I’ll start to like the ocean more (which would be helpful before I go to Hawaii).