Inside Oside: A Series

Oceanside is a beautiful, interesting place. I moved here less than two months ago and it’s already been quite a ride. Ez got stationed in California, which is GREAT. My work allowed me to switch regions and continue my regular duties, also GREAT. After more than 2 years of marriage, I finally live with my husband and that has been (and continues to be) a learning experience in itself.

When I graduated from college, Ez lived in North Carolina. I didn’t feel like moving there was right for me so we continued our long-distance relationship until he was assigned a new duty station. The stars aligned and we headed for Oceanside. I’m grateful to be close to my family and friends. Also, I found comfort in staying in California. How much different could it possibly be a couple hours south? It’s warm and sunny, there’s an In-N-Out, and we’re only a few minutes from the beach–but damn, it does feel like a military town sometimes! There are no people of color in our neighborhood and things can be quite conservative or unconscious at times.

I haven’t been out and about as much as I’ve wanted, but I have already witnessed some notable things in my short time here. I hope you’ll find as much amusement, life lessons, and/or challenges in these experiences as I do. Without further ado, I bring you “Inside Oside,” featuring some tales from my time in Oceanside and the greater San Diego area.

I’ll start you off with something simple. A few days ago, I was driving up the 15 freeway when I passed the following sign:



Doing Holidays Differently | President’s Day Weekend 2015

This year, we treated this Hallmark holiday differently. Except when have we ever done it normally? I think this is only the second time Ez and I have ever been together for Valentine’s Day, which some may think calls for an extravagant celebration. But Ez just returned from two weeks in North Carolina and I spent all of Valentine’s Day at a conference with my mentorship program. So there’s that.

We opted for some takeout and spending time at home with my family. Nothing fancy, just some Lucille’s BBQ, a cake from Albertson’s, and the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. Zach LaVine FTW – #GoBruins.

Saturday, February 14

Candy on the outside, cake on the inside
A feast for the family
I look tired from a long day

Sunday, February 15

The weather was beautiful so we had to go for a hike. Thankfully, there are all kinds of websites with detailed descriptions about the hiking paths/trails in San Diego County. Modern Hiker pointed us to Cabrillo National Monument – Bayside Trail, which was an easy hike with gorgeous views. Parking was free (and a nightmare) due to the holiday weekend, but I’m sure that was the case almost anywhere. The fog started setting in because we came in the late afternoon, but the trip was still worth it.


Cabrillo National Monument 
Views from Point Loma
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Fog falling over Bayside Trail




Monday, February 16

Thankfully, Ez had a long weekend so we grabbed some lunch and explored our city a bit. Ez chose Breakwater Brewing Company because it was a short walk from where we parked. Good thing it boasted 4 stars on Yelp! After a bomb lunch (and some Rasbiscus Mead), we took a stroll on the pier to digest.

Lunch at Breakwater Brewing Company
Restaurant decor
Oceanside Pier
Charlie the Pelican



“Are you sure this is Winter?”


I had an awesome time not getting dressed up for a fancy dinner in a crowded restaurant. Quality time with my family and partner-in-crime made for such a great Valentine’s Day/President’s Day Weekend. (But I still don’t know how to feel about two “holidays” in one weekend.) Local adventures can be just as fulfilling as traveling to far-off destinations. And I’m sure we’ll be frequenting Downtown Oceanside. The weather averages 70 degrees year-round so there is no excuse. Until next time!

Hang out with your friends.

If there’s one tough lesson I’ve learned in my post-grad years, it’s that maintaining relationships takes a lot of dedication and effort. In college, you saw the same folks due to a fairly consistent schedule. You went to class, attended meetings, and had your own flavor of social life. Once you graduated, you started building a career, finding yourself, and navigating the work-life balance. Most of your friends probably set out to do the same.

Sometimes you have a friend who organizes a birthday celebration or there is a wedding or a new baby. There is some big reason to get together, share a drink, and celebrate life. You bid each other goodnight, swear you’ll grab dinner soon, and that you won’t let it be so long until the next gathering. Suddenly months have passed and you’re just going through the motions.

Before I let life get away from me too quickly, I make a conscious effort to schedule time with friends. It sucks we can’t grab a bite on a moment’s notice. And 9-5’s mean we can’t stay out til the wee hours. It’s almost sad to calendar a round of drinks, but it’s necessary! Not just necessary to ensure friendship time happens, but necessary for my well-being.

Tonight, I met up with Cyrus in Downtown Fullerton. For those of you familiar with DTF, you might know about its abundance of bars and grimey nightlife. Definitely a choice hangout for college students. I had no idea of the culinary treasures to be found here. Cyrus and I basically did a neighborhood food tour, all while catching up. We started with ramen at Kopan, had some amazing wine at Twisted Vine, and finished off with desserts and coffee at Layer Cake. Y’all know I’m not much of a food critic, but the food was delicious. I’d love to go back to every place, but there are so many spots to try!

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Soft Shell Crab
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Small Fatty Pork Ramen

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Make time for your friends. Go on adventures. Nourish your soul.

panic at the disco, youngblood hawke, walk the moon, greek theater, los angeles, concerts

MOAR CONCERTS: Panic! At The Disco

Seriously, all the concerts. I guess I’m just prepping for the Made in America Festival this weekend. Summer is such a great time for music! This time, Kimi planned for us to see Panic! At The Disco. While I’m not familiar with most of their new music, I know every single word to every single song on A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. That album came out when I was in high school–their songs were just so IT when I was that age. [Also when I was in high school, I would listen to the same CD for two months straight, thus learning every lyric and quirk of each song.] Needless to say, I was super down to see them live even though they haven’t been under my purview in recent years. I was kinda skeptical because the one TV performance I watched years ago was horrible, but they proved me wrong. And thankfully so!

panic at the disco, youngblood hawke, walk the moon, greek theater, los angeles, concerts

We got to the Greek Theater around 5:30, even though gates didn’t open until 6:30. No matter how long I live in LA, I will never underestimate traffic. The crowd was full of youngsters with bad hair dye jobs wearing t-shirts of rock bands they probably don’t even know. It was endearing to see parents taking their kids to the concert, though. Also cute were the older couples who were probably my age or older when P!ATD’s first album came out.

panic at the disco, youngblood hawke, walk the moon, greek theater, los angeles, concerts

We headed straight for the bar, but soon realized there was no rush because majority of folks were underaged! We def bought a bottle of wine with no hesitation–yes, there is an entire bottle of wine in that plastic container I’m holding! Pretty sweet because you can actually bring that into the theater. But I’m sure you know ours never even made it close. panic at the disco, youngblood hawke, walk the moon, greek theater, los angeles, concerts

Even though our seats were “far,” the venue was actually smaller than I imagined. Youngblood Hawke and Walk the Moon opened, both of whom I’ve never heard of. They were great though! Looking forward to checking out more of their music. They did an awesome job of hyping us up for Panic!panic at the disco, youngblood hawke, walk the moon, greek theater, los angeles, concerts

I’m in absolute awe at the sound of Brendon Urie’s voice! I always thought it was digitally manipulated to have that signature intonation, but sheesh, that voice sings straight to your soul. He sounds exactly like he does on their albums. Panic! had such great energy during their show. I was even stoked during the songs I didn’t know. The real cause for panty-dropping though? They covered Bohemian Rhapsody! And of course, Brendon’s voice is probably one of only a handful that could do the song justice. You can take a peek of it below.

Basically, I spent the entire concert falling in love with Brendon Urie. First, he wowed me with his voice. [Again, how does it even sound like that?] Then he took his shirt off. Then he played the piano. And the guitar. He said the “F” word a lot. Then the Queen cover. And a screamo version of “giving it up for Youngblood Hawke and Walk the Moon,” which was hilarious. All night I wondered why he isn’t an opera singer or on Broadway with that voice. Seriously, imagine Brendon Urie singing every Disney prince’s part. I know, you want to throw panties too. But I suppose he’s too busy being in Panic! At The Disco.

panic at the disco, tour merchandise, crewneck, los angeles

This overwhelming show caused me to go home, put on my $45 sweatshirt and look through every single one of @brendonurie’s Instagram posts. And now I’ve just discovered all of their other covers on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, I love their music. I also appreciate artist’s covering other great artists’ works. Thank you for reading this ode to Brendon Urie. :P

//verbal diarrhea caused by swooning

hollywood, sam smith, avalon, los angeles, twc vma concert, mtv, vma

FO’ FREE: Tori Kelly x Sam Smith x Iggy Azalea

Living in LA does have its perks, even when it comes to your utility companies. Last week, I received an email informing me to pick up two free tickets to a VMA concert hosted by Time Warner Cable. All I had to do was show up to their store in Beverly Hills on a given date/time, verify my account, and grab my tickets. Whaaaaat?

We got to the Avalon in Hollywood about 4:30pm on Friday (doors were slated to open at 8am). With only a handful of people in line, Kimi and I opted for a pre-show happy hour at St. Felix. Thank heavens Kimi changed her work schedule to get to this concert–I swear am I always dragging her on my adventures! <3

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Free sunglasses and glow bracelets

We didn’t wait more than an hour an a half in line, which would have been fine if we realized how chilly it would be. Definitely a good preface to Made in America coming up this weekend–must bring a jacket! TWC reps were giving out free swag and reminding us to hashtag all our photos, as goes the new normal. This was our first time at the Avalon, which is a cross between a club and concert venue. When we got in, we immediately went to find some seating because how awesome would it be to comfortably sit and enjoy a Sam Smith performance? It’s the little things in life.

hollywood, mtv, vma, twc vma concert, avalon, los angeles, free concert

Just moments before entering the venue, we found out Tori Kelly had been added to the line-up. Seriously, the things you learn via social media. She opened the show with a short, but sweet set of original songs. Every piece spoke to my soul–so refreshing to witness such powerful songwriting and singing all at once. Of course, she sampled some “Thinkin’ Bout You” and “Rude” lyrics in the true cover form that got her noticed on YouTube. I was absolutely blown away by her sheer talent and stage presence. She had nothing but a guitar and her beautiful voice and it was all she needed. Can’t wait for her debut album! Also, she was killin’ it in that little black romper with all that hair. Yes, girl. hollywood, tori kelly, twc vma concert, vma, mtv, free concert, los angeles, avalon

Sam Smith was definitely the highlight of the night! I still cannot fathom how we were able to attend such an intimate performance for free, with hardly any hoops to jump through. He has been such a sensation this year, selling out two LA dates in just minutes. And I got to see him for free? Hearing his voice live is mind-blowing. [If you watched the VMAs and thought that was phenomenal, you definitely need to get to a concert.] There are only a handful of performers out there who sound better than their albums and he is one of them. It’s obvious how humble this man is from his stage presence to his no-frills set. He was up there doing what he loves and was delighted to find the crowd loving it. I was basically crying through the whole thing because all his songs bring out the feelz!hollywood, sam smith, avalon, los angeles, twc vma concert, mtv, vma hollywood, sam smith, avalon, los angeles, twc vma concert, mtv, vma

I’m just going to leave this semi-derpy picture of Iggy Azalea here. We stayed for maybe half her set. Her songs are catchy, but I’m not really a fan for a number of reasons–mostly because I’m a self-respecting critical person who tries not to eat up all the hype that comes my way. I will admit her performance was a crowd-pleaser and full of energy, but eh. I am a little sad I missed seeing her fall off the stage.

iggy azalea, twc vma concert, free concert, los angeles, vma, mtv, avalon, hollywood

Check out some clips of Sam Smith performing “How Will I Know?” live for the first time ever and also the super popular “Stay With Me.”

hollywood, avalon, los angeles, twc vma concert, mtv, vma

twc vma concert, mtv, vma, avalon, hollywood, los angeles, free concert

Despite some terrible customer service on the internet and cable end, Time Warner Cable definitely gets points for sponsoring such a great event! Los Angeles is one of the only places were superstars will put on a free show–gotta love it!

zazie san francisco storefront brunch cole valley

Baes in the Bay | Ladies Do Brunch

It’s been a while, friends! I’ve got some thangs in the works, but life hasn’t stopped and I haven’t stopped living it. Got a passion project coming soon and I think you’ll enjoy it :)

As life goes, impromptu trips are necessary. This past weekend, I hopped on a bus to the Bay to see a friend who was visiting from NYC. Yes, this seems a little extreme for a brief reunion, seeing as I’ll be in New York in 2 weeks. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this post-grad life, it’s that you should do anything and everything to maintain relationships that are important to you. Spending three days with fabulous, inspiring folks was beautiful, necessary, and refreshing. We caught up with each other and rolled with the punches, making plans on the fly.

Saturday morning cravings called for brunch. My tourist instincts sought out the best brunch in every single SF neighborhood and one of the girls chose the spot in Cole Valley: Zazie. We knew it was meant to be when a parking spot opened as we pulled up to the packed restaurant. A 45-minute wait with no reservation at noon on Saturday was reasonable enough.

zazie san francisco storefront brunch cole valley

Zazie was this chic little french bistro with some outdoor seating, a handful of indoor seats, and a sweet garden patio in the back. The five of us were seated in the middle of the restaurant’s hustle and bustle.

zazie san francisco brunch cole valley thrillist

The place was lined with French production posters and artwork. High ceilings made for a comfortable, sunlit setting to meet up with friends.

zazie san francisco brunch cole valley thrillist

Ain’t no shame is Brunch Spirits! I had the Le Metro, which is Zazie’s signature champagne refresher finished off with real lavender. Great way to start off a weekend.

zazie san francisco cole valley brunch drinks

A cup of delicious butternut squash soup helped me get acclimated to the SF chill–it was nice to get out of the SoCal heat for a while! The creative paper garnish was much appreciated.

zazie san francisco brunch cole valley butternut squash soup foodporn foodie

I did one St. Trop poached egg (wild smoked salmon, capers, and red onions), which was the perfect portion after starting with a drink and some soup. Everything was super nomz, but I’m no food critic–as evidenced by my choice of adjectives. Their choice of flatware rounded out the cozy, welcoming vibe.

zazie san francisco cole valley brunch foodporn foodie eggs benedict

Catching up with these fierce womyn over brunch was amazing–and in the perfect setting! [Not to mention this place was built up by some powerful ladies as well!] We definitely felt grown discussing child-rearing techniques, cooking hacks, and career trajectories over brunch. Post-grad, who? Zazie serves brunch everyday (I know, right) from 8am-2pm. Definitely worth the stop, whether you’re a local or just visiting.

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Love these ladies!

Visiting happycakes :) | A Cupcake Wars Winner

You have probably never heard of Morehead City, North Carolina. I have only heard of Morehead City because my husband just so happens to live there. As a diehard LA resident, I was bored out of my mind visiting for two weeks… but they do have one claim to fame! happycakes :) [Okay, there are beautiful beaches. But like a true LA-native, I don’t actually like the beach.]

happycakes storefront selfie

happycakes :) is a young establishment, having won Season 9 of Cupcakes Wars in just their first year of existence. Needless to say, we had to stop in for a taste. You know I am not above overpriced desserts–or most novelty foods, for that matter. Ez and I got an espresso cinnamon sugar cupcake (Cupcake Wars winning flavor), a banana creme cupcake, and a huge chocolate chip cookie. 

happycakes cupcakes
L: Espresso and cinnamon sugar | R: Banana creme
happycakes chocolate chip cookie
Excited to dig in

happycakes cupcakes

Everything was delicious! Moist cake and flavorful frosting that isn’t overbearingly sweet. We had to buy a box and share the love with Ez’s friends who hosted us for dinner. Two of these bad boys even journeyed across America so my roommate could try them. I brought them home in an attempt to alleviate our sadness from Crumbs closing

happycakes condiment station
Cute condiment station

This definitely lifted my spirits after hours cooped up in Ez’s apartment. It was nice to discover this gem tucked away in good ol’ Morehead City. Will have to go back sometime!

happycakes happy face