RECAP // June 2014 on Dig This Jive

| June 30, 2014

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LUNCH BOX LIFT: CHOPPED SALAD WITH A SIDE OF SMOOTHIE | Learning to make use of quinoa, one dish at a time.

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COOL BARBECUE | A catalog of 11 items that can spruce up any backyard barbecue.

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STYLE // Cool Barbecue

| June 06, 2014

With summertime closing in, my husband and I have our eyes set on turning our barren backyard into an outdoor haven our friends and family wouldn’t mind visiting. So, I’ve started to put together a wish list of items I’d like to have on hand for the backyard barbecues we hope to host in the near future.

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1. Sipping Pretty. Granted, paper straws don’t hold up in drinks as long as their polymer counterparts, but they’re darn cuter and more Pinterest-worthy. That’s enough reason for me. // Navy Blue Striped Paper Straws, $2, at Box & Bow Supply. // Photo from Box & Bow Supply

2. Get Shady. Extend your graciousness as a host when you protect your guests from harmful UVs with this stylish shade structure. // Outdoor Canvas Striped Umbrella in Navy/White, $219, from Pottery Barn // Photo from Pottery Barn

3. Bottleneck Hold. Because bottle caps always need to be wrestled off. // Luchador Bottle Opener, $8, from Kikkerland // Photo from Kikkerland

4. Grill Instruments. For the grill chef who geeks out over barbecuing and organization. Includes aluminum storage case, chef’s spatula, grill tongs, silicone basting brush, 4 pairs of corn holders, cleaning brush, and extra brush head. // Cuisinart CGS-5014 14-Piece Deluxe Stainless-Steel Grill Set, $23.75, on Amazon // Photo from Amazon

5. Iron Seat. A true wish list item (because of its price tag), this hand-crafted chair is designed to encourage you to recline. Available in white, peacock blue, and orange. // Bunny Lounge Chair by Bend, $495, at House & Hold. // Photo from House & Hold

6. Earth-Friendly Utensil. Pass on the plastic! These classy, biodegradable, and compostable forks are made of FSC-certified birch. // Set of 12 Wooden Forks, $2.99, on The Tomkat Studio // Photo from ShopTomKat.com

7. Delectable Dishes. In case you want to throw some art deco into the barbecue mix. I know I do! // Set of 8 Paper Plates with Yellow Triangles, $6.99, The Tomkat Studio // Photo from ShopTomKat.com

8. Cart Blanche. Where does it say that drinking carts must remain indoors? This iron and wood number is perfect for serving food, drinks, or both to guests on the patio or in the garden. // Cyan Design Desmond Cart, $395, on Amazon.com // Photo from Amazon.com

9. Paper Chalice. I like paper cups that are fancy without being snooty. // Set of 8 Toot Sweet Gold Scallop Party Cup, $3.95, on Meri Meri // Photo from Meri Meri

10. Kettle Cooked. Because my appreciation for sleek, timeless design extends to grilling. // Weber Silver One-Touch Kettle Grill, $99, on Amazon // Photo from Amazon.com

11. Beverage Tub. When you want to break up covered-cooler practicality with some Nantucket cottage whimsy. // Outdoor Metal Drink Bucket, $29, at West Elm // Photo from West Elm

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LUNCH BOX LIFT // Chopped Salad With a Side of Smoothie

| June 04, 2014

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Quinoa is much eaten by the health-conscious because it’s high in fiber and protein, gluten-free, and devoid of saturated fat. As a result, it’s become the world’s latest cash crop. According to a 2012 NPR article, these seeds, which are a blip larger than a pen tip before they’re cooked, used to go for $1.50 per pound six years ago. Now? Well, I get the same amount of tri-color organic quinoa from my local Trader Joe’s for $4.99. But I don’t lament over the price because I’ve found some perspective: the same size and type of quinoa is sold by Trader Joe’s via Amazon for $11.95!

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Thankfully, a 1-pound bag of this Andean superfood lasts me for months because I only cook a 1/2 cup at a time, those times are separated by weeks (if not months), and I’m still figuring out how to use it in meals.

Enter the chopped salad. By itself, quinoa has a slightly bitter flavor. But add it to a mix of diced organic cucumber, diced organic sugar plum tomatoes, organic black beans, canned corn kernels, diced organic chicken tender, and crumbled feta, toss it all with a 1/2 tablespoon of a creamy dressing (in my case, Trader Joe’s Greek Style Feta Dressing), and forgo a fork for a tortilla chip? Dude.

Once you run out of chips, opt for a spoon. If a brothless gazpacho version of chunky chili didn’t exist before, it does now.

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For dessert, indulge yourself with a cup of homemade fruit smoothie (I made the one pictured with an organic banana, organic frozen berries, half of a mango, and water) and feel yourself glow with vitamins for the rest of the afternoon.

When I bring this to work, I find my gaze float up to the top right corner of my computer screen every hour or so as I eagerly wait for 1:00 p.m. to show itself. It’s one of my favorite work lunches to date, but one I’m careful not to make too many times in a week. I don’t want to get tired of it, after all.

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GET OUT // Things to Do in San Diego, June 7-8

| June 02, 2014

What’s one way to ease into the Monday of the first week of June? Get a head start on planning the weekend. Lucky for those of you living in or within driving distance of San Diego, June 7 and 8 is ripe with possibilities. Here are three San Diego events that caught my eye.

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SATURDAY, JUNE 7: Art Around Adams. This free community event turns the neighborhoods of Normal Heights and Kensington into a festival of visual arts, performance arts, crafts, and music. Art galleries will be set up in front of Adams Avenue stores and over 50 musical acts will perform on nine different stages. And you don’t have to walk the 2-mile stretch if you don’t want to: a complimentary trolley featuring en-route comedy performances will shuttle attendees along Adams. Also, according to the Art Around Adams website, there’ll even be an appearance of the Electric Giraffe, a life-sized robotic giraffe that checks in at 17 feet tall when its neck is raised and–no kidding–actually walks! All. For. Free. // The event takes place from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. 3491 Adams Avenue, 92116. artaroundadams.org

(Banner from the Art Around Adams website.)

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SATURDAY & SUNDAY, JUNE 7-8: AirShow San Diego. Sequester schmequester: This annual event put on by Air Group One, the San Diego wing of the Texas-based nonprofit Commerative Air Force, is taking to the air just as it has in years past. In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, this year’s show will feature a collection of aircraft, vehicles, and acts representative of the World War II era. Though there is an admission charge to get in to the event, parking is free. // Pre-AirShow tickets start at $16 for adults; discounted prices for veterans, active military, seniors, and children. The event takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. 1960 Joe Crosson Drive, 92020. ag1caf.org

(Banner from a status shared on the AirShow San Diego Facebook page.)

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SATURDAY, JUNE 7: Opening day of the San Diego County Fair. And, guess what? If you buy your ticket for this Saturday at a San Diego County Albertsons or Sav-on, you only pay $4 admission (as long as you spend at least $10 at the Albertsons or Sav-on)! It’s just one of the many deals discussed on the website for the San Diego County Fair, from discount ticket prices, to tips on getting free admission for kids 12 and younger, to info on free parking. That’s right! There are plenty of ways to save in order to splurge on this year’s featured fair food which include Smoked Jack Daniels Bacon-Wrapped Churros, Grilled Cream Cheese Hot Dogs, and the much-discussed Triple Decker Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger. // The fair runs until July 6 and is closed on Mondays as well as June 10 and June 17. Check the website for hours. Regular admission at the gate is $14 for adults, $8 seniors (62 years and older) and children ages 6-12; children 5 years and younger are free. 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., 92014. sdfair.com

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RECAP // May 2014 on Dig This Jive

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“There’s no shortcut to a dream. / It’s all blood and sweat / And life is what you manage in-between.”
- Lyric from “October” by Broken Bells

I feel as though I’ve fallen short this month. I didn’t post as many articles as I had originally planned for May. I tried breaking into a regional travel magazine, but the editors passed on my story ideas. Lately, these setbacks have made me feel like I’ve been walking ankle-deep in warm sand: I know I should get to firmer ground, but the warmth is so comforting that I wonder what it might be like to just stand around for a bit.

Then, I remember that I’ve also been fortunate many times this month. I celebrated my eighth wedding anniversary, I was published in JEMS, and I finished the 100 Happy Days challenge. Some zucchini and cucumber seeds I planted only a week ago have sprouted. When it was unbearably hot outside during that horrific wildfire week, my home was safe and it stayed cool sans the use of an air-conditioner (we don’t have one).

So, it’s okay that I didn’t make it quite as far as I would have liked to in the marathon that is this blog and my freelance writing career. I made progress (rejection means that I tried). Sure, it didn’t lead to immediate success, but it was enough.

Now it’s time to regain momentum.

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10 THINGS: MARRIAGE | In honor of my wedding anniversary, I dedicated this month’s 10 Things list to a few of the reasons why I love being married to my best friend.

PUBLISHED: JEMS’ MAY 2014 ISSUE | I don’t only write about food, local events, and travel. My latest articles in print, which covered the topics of ambulance backboards and an ambulance outfitted with a CT scanner, appeared in the May 2014 issue of JEMS, the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.

100 HAPPY DAYS: THE FINISH LINE | What you can learn about yourself from taking on (and completing!) the 100 Happy Days challenge.

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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T GO OUT FOR MOTHER’S DAY | A photo essay of the multicultural afternoon tea my husband and I hosted for our moms on Mother’s Day.

LUNCH BOX LIFT: PESTO PENNE WITH CHICKEN SAUSAGE | Add pesto, then presto! How to fancy up your work lunch with an all-too-easy blend of basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan.

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SUNSET CLIFFS: A WALK WORTH REPEATING | Why a stroll along Sunset Cliffs should be a regular activity for every San Diegan.

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PURPLE WITH A PURPOSE | To raise awareness of Lupus, a disease affecting an estimated 1.5 million Americans alone, May 16 was designated as Put on Purple Day. In order to encourage readers to join me in wearing purple on that day and throughout the month, I shared a catalog of clothes and accessories in purple.

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