“Drink Local, Drink Often”: Caffeine Crawl 2015

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Last Friday, I was invited by the folks at The Lab to take part in this year’s Caffeine Crawl.  As a coffee enthusiast, I was so very excited and invited my fellow coffee connoisseur, Audrey (who used to work in a coffee-house a “back in the day”) to join me on this little adventure.  Audrey and I spent many a long night discussing “the world we live in and life in general” at different coffee houses throughout San Diego, so I couldn’t imagine doing a crawl with anyone but her!

We attended the “North Coast Crawl”, which allowed us to take in local coffee spots in the Encinitas area.  Our route took us to four different coffee houses, sampling coffee and baked goods in nearly each place.  We also received lessons on roasting, coffee producers, ways to brew coffee and even the science of what goes into great cup.

Our stops were as follows, which started at 2pm and ran until around 5pm.  We were very glad we wore flats because there was quite a distance between some of the stops.  But we enjoyed it because we discovered so many great places to eat and shop along the way.

North Coast:

Cafe Ipe

Pannikin Coffee & Tea

Lofty Coffee Co.

Ironsmith Coffee Roasters

I hope you enjoy my pictorial account of the crawl below.  Keep in touch with Caffeine Crawl through their official site, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest crawls in your hometown, and remember to hashtag #CaffeineCrawl on Instagram to share the love.  Special thanks to Sadie for the invite, to Emily for being our tour guide, and to all the wonderful owners, producers, roasters and baristas for sharing your time and knowledge with us!

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Caffeine Crawl 5Stop 1:  Coffee Coffee (aka Cafe Ipe) was our first coffee-house.  Roasters Dan & Scott, along with producer Victor and barista Matt, gave us great information on the types of beans they use, how their roasting process works and why their blends make a for a great cup of coffee.

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Caffeine Crawl 10Stop 2: Pannikin Coffee & Tea is a very familiar name in the San Diego area.  Owner Shawn and his son Dempsey were on hand with roaster Helena and producer Sam.  We were able to try out a new blend that has yet to be served in their cafe.  Helena provided some insightful information about coffee that I didn’t know:  “The oils in the coffee carry the flavor & the caffeine.”

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Stop 3:  Because of the distance between Pannikin and the next stop, Lofty Coffee Co., we didn’t get to see the demonstration or get to know the presenters.  We did arrive to one of my favorite blends called Guatemala Genesis, served both hot and cold.  I loved it so much I bought a bag!

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Caffeine Crawl 16Stop 4:  Our final stop was at Ironsmith Coffee Roasters, owned by Matt & Raul.  Their shop isn’t quite opened yet, but we still were treated to a “flash brew” where the coffee is shocked, as well as a very informative slide presentation.  Stay connected to their Facebook page for their grand opening!

Caffeine Crawl 18Dontcha love a good “SWAG Bag”?  The bag of Guatemala Genesis that I bought at Lofty Coffee Co. is at the top.  Can’t wait to grind all of these great coffees!

(FTC Disclosure:  I was offered the opportunity to attend this event as a courtesy, but not necessarily for the purposes of a review.  Although I attended free of charge, the opinions in this post are strictly my own.)

Color Theory: Hair by Kelly Cardenas Salon


Now that I’ve had my hair colored, I just can’t stop!  Imagine the elation I felt to be contacted by the folks at Kelly Cardenas Salon to try out their newest location in Hillcrest.  Tucked away on 5th Avenue, Kelly Cardenas Salon is quite the retreat.  It’s a very clean, minimalist space with Kelly’s infamous dreads logo sprinkled throughout.



I was greeted by Roxy, who contacted me initially, and was immediately offered a beverage and a place to store my personal belongings before being guided to a room change into a robe.  The workspace is large with an industrial look, and is quite organized.  The hair dryers drop from the ceiling, which really eliminates the feel of being tangled with other stylists.  The “Color Bar” is where all of the pigmentation magic happens!

My favorite part of the salon was the room where the hair washing occurs, but I didn’t have an opportunity to take any pictures because there were clients being attended to at the time.  It’s different from any other salon I’ve been to because usually the hair washing station is out in the open like the rest of the salon.  At KCS, their hair washing station is enclosed in a separate room and darkened, with soothing music playing in the background.  It takes that service to a higher and more zen level.  It’s like going to your favorite massage parlor, but for your hair!



KCS 5Salvador was my stylist for the day and he took such good care of me, asking me questions to ensure I get the color and cut I want, but gave me good guidance so that I understand what’s really best for me.  He did such a wonderful job that I went back again to get my second color selection with him.  I started with a subtle burgundy color for my first color change, then six weeks later I opted for a more vibrant purple.

From beginning to end, I felt completely taken care of, and didn’t have a worry in the world other than to enjoy the experience.  Not only did I have a great cut and color, but I also felt more informed about how to best style my hair and how to keep the color lasting all the way up to my next appointment.  Everyone was warm and kind, which made the atmosphere feel like I was with friends and family rather than just stylist and client, and the customer service was first class.  I want to thank everyone at Kelly Cardenas Salon for one of the best salon experiences I have ever had!


KCS 11From left to right: Ashley, Fernando, Roxy and Salvador.

(FTC Disclosure:  I was offered a service free of charge as a courtesy, but not necessarily for the purposes of a review.  Although I did receive a service free of charge, the opinions in this post are strictly my own.)

A LARP “Battle Royale” with Epic Toys

Mei Dominic LARP 1As we head into the weekend, I know my son will be delving into his video games.  He so does every weekend because we limit his play during the week while it’s the school year.  But rather than stay in all day in front of the telly or some kind of piece of technology, I really want to coax him outside more.  Last weekend, I was able to do so with these fantastic LARP Long Swords by Epic Toys.

Mei Dominic LARP 2Mei-Lin looking menacing…

Mei Dominic LARP 3But Dominic just wants to have fun!


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If you are unfamiliar with LARP, it stands for “Live Action Role Play”.  Most people who utilize these types of “toys” do so interactively, where they physically enact their characters.  Players usually wear costumes, and they participate in a setting that is also dressed to resemble the fictional (or possibly real) location.   In these cases, the appropriate equipment would be beneficial to complete the scenario, like these Long Swords.

The kids didn’t actually role play, but they loved the swords because they are made of foam, so no one was injured during the epic battle that followed.  Not to be left out of the fun, my sister and brother-in-law (Rholnna & Jeremy) then grabbed the swords themselves and hilarity ensued.  What happens next?  I guess we’ll see this weekend, cheers!

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Rholnna Jeremy LARP 1FTC Disclosure:  I received product and was asked to review the product in return.  Although I did receive product, the opinions in this post are strictly my own.