Under the Table and Dreaming

You know how the music you liked as a teenager was just better than the music today? There’s actually some science behind that; this article from Salon is a really interesting explanation of why that is.

For me, I always have a soft spot for Dave Matthews Band. I was obsessed, obsessed I tell you, with them in high school. I even got to go to see Dave perform for a couple dozen people at a local radio station when I was 17, and it was at that time the best day of my life. I still smile any time I hear a DMB song.

SO. Imagine my excitement when I discovered Dreaming Tree Wines. DMB fans, you might already see where this is going: a collaboration between Dave Matthews and wine maker Steve Reeder for some soulful, joyful wines that make you want to dance and sing.

dreaming tree wine

 

I’ll admit I was a little nervous about trying their wine; I can be a bit of a wine snob, and if I didn’t like it I would be so, so disappointed. More disappointed than  when their Irvine concert selling out when I was 18, even.

Spoiler alert: it’s good. Quite good, actually. If it was just okay I’d probably still be excited because of the nostalgia factor, but I say without hesitation that I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Cabernets from the Alexander Valley are some of my favorites since they tend to not be as tannic as the big Napa cabs, and this one had a nice cocoa finish that I really liked. It was an easy drinking wine, but it has enough body to it that it could easily be paired up to a hearty steak. I personally would pair it with lamb– looking at their website, I see I hit the mark since that is what they suggested too.

(Dreaming Tree Wines’ website offers some great recipes for pairing with their wines too, so you can easily impress your date or your friends.)

I was already jazzed about this wine, and then I discovered that they also take sustainability seriously. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed that sustainability is something I take seriously. When I read about their recycled materials and lighter bottles, well, let’s just say it was like being at a concert when DMB busts out a 12 minute jam session during one of your favorite songs.

(Dislosure: I was gifted a bottle from Dreaming Tree Wines to try it out. We drank it last night, and I am stopping by Ralph’s to pick up a few more bottles today because I really mean what I said above.)

Confessions

A friend of mine has a video compilation of her one and a half year old bouncing and grooving to Usher’s “Confessions,” on many occasions. Apparently that’s the kid’s jam, and so now that I am writing a post about confessions, I’m imagining a toddler doing a little butt bounce and clapping his hands to These are my confessions. You just have to take my word for it that it’s pretty epic.

Anyway, it has been a minute since I linked up with Kathy’s Humpday Confessions, so here goes…

confessions

Classes begin next week, and I still haven’t gotten around to reading all of what I am assigning my students to read this semester. Oops.

I’m also not sure that I am going to fit into pants any time soon. Thank you for late Southern California summers, because I don’t think I can fit into anything other than skirts and dresses for a few more weeks.

That’s partly because I tasted Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Ice Cream. Just a taste I told myself. It got ugly after that.

2014-08-08 16.23.44I regret nothing.

I’m getting really sick of this ALS ice water bucket challenge. I get it, it raises money and awareness for ALS and it’s raised a lot of money, and it’s great. I’m just tired of my Facebook feed being clogged with videos of people dumping ice water over themselves. Also, in California, the drought is kind of a big problem. Just pony up the $100 and save water.

I am also nervous about the ways the drought is going to affect things; not just the obvious things like shorter showers and unflushed toilets, but the important things, like the price of wine.

(And produce, meat, pretty much everything. Haters gonna hate, but most of the things you love come from California).

Remember that cat we adopted last month, the one that we thought ran away but was just hiding? Well, she did run away. She never really gave us a chance. She ate the food we left out for her one more night, and then took off. We’re probably going to go adopt another black cat that looks just like her from the shelter, just to save face. Except that our cover is blown to anyone who reads here. I’m okay with that because I am a terrible liar. And I feel really bad for the kitty.

(Tips on introducing a rescue cat to a 5 month old puppy would be greatly appreciated. We know now to start her off in a smaller room than our living room, at the very least.)

I don’t particularly care about Taylor Swift, but all of the uproar over her video makes me feel like the SJW’s (Social Justice Warriors) have their panties in a bunch over nothing. There are plenty of social justice issues to be upset about them right now, and Taylor Swift showing how she cannot twerk is not one of them. But I don’t know, am I missing something? What do you think of the video?

(BTW, it’s catchy as hell and I hate it for that.)

Vodka and Soda

 

The Surreal Desert

One of the great things about Joshua Tree is that aside from its own natural beauty, there is a thriving community of eclectic and eccentric artists that give the place a character of its own. Probably the most famous and most interesting site to visit in Joshua Tree is the Noah Purifoy museum.

Purifoy museum 22

 

purifoy museum 12

 

Purifoy is more famously known for the Watts Towers, but if you take a series of dirt roads off of highway 62 to one of the High Desert Test Sites (Ominous sounding, I know!) you will find this one of a kind outdoor museum.

purifoy museum 17 purifoy museum Purifoy museum 21 Purifoy museum 20 purifoy museum 18 purifoy museum 16

Standing proudly among the Joshua and Cholla trees are some of his most impressive assemblage sculptures, all made from discarded materials, all weathered from the harsh desert conditions.

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As you wander through, you imagine you’ve stumbled into some sort of post apocalyptic city, or have somehow stumbled into a surrealist painting. The isolation of the location and the punishing sun make you feel as though you’ve some how crossed into a new dimension, a new world where bicycle wheels and toilet seats are worshiped.

purifoy museum 5 purifoy museum 4 purifoy museum 3 purifoy museum 2

Khaleesi especially found the museum inspiring, as she’s made plenty of her own garbage assemblages since we’ve come home.

Purifoy museum 19 khaleesi

If you find yourself in Joshua Tree, it is definitely worth venturing off the highway to go exploring. You can find directions here. 

(Linking up with Travel Tuesday)

A Desert Getaway

It’s rare for C and I to have a few days off at the same time. It’s even more rare that we have that time off (unplanned!) during the best nights for viewing the year’s best meteor shower. We took this as a sign and quickly booked a cabin through Air BnB, packed up the car, and headed out to one of our favorite places– Joshua Tree.

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Sure it’s hot as balls in the middle of the desert in the middle of August, but the beauty of Joshua Tree makes it all worth it.

joshua tree 0814

For our first night, we booked the most charming homestead cabin I have ever seen. It was a cozy, one room space with a kitchenette, bathroom, and pull out bed– really all you need. The property was huge and pretty remote; there were neighbors down the dirt road in similar cabins, but they were far enough away that it felt as though we had the desert to ourselves.

Once the moon rose and the stars came out to play, C and I opened a bottle of wine, set up some reclining chairs, and stretched out in the warm desert breeze, watching the sky. We saw plenty of meteors streak across the night sky, enough that me whispering “the more you know…” each time started to get old. This year’s moon was extra bright, and so by the time 12:30 rolled around, the sky was too bright to see as many meteors. We tucked into bed just as the wild coyotes in the distance yipped and howled at the glowing sky (which Khaleesi found quite distressing).

The next morning I woke with the sun, and as C slept in, I got to enjoy a couple hours of the still-cool sunny morning in solitude.

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I slipped back inside as it warmed up, equally happy to enjoy the cabin. I have to tell you, I really fell in love with this place.

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"I like it here, Mom."

“I like it here, Mom.”

C and I are even considering buying property in Joshua Tree as a vacation home and putting it up on Air BnB the rest of the time. Given how slowly we’ve moved with our own home, I don’t expect that this will happen too soon, but I am so in love with the idea of having my own sweet escape in the desert.

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Until then, Joshua Tree is only a 2 hour drive away. See you soon, desert!

For the Home: How to Choose a Fireplace

As you may remember, C and I are planning to remodel this house. It’s been about a year since we’ve first put things in to motion, but we’re still nowhere near any level of completion. In fact, the back two rooms downstairs are completely sectioned off with a baby gate (for the dog) because we’ve started the demolition, but we still haven’t gotten the plans approved or looked for a contractor. Baby steps, baby steps.

Anyway, one of the exciting things about this remodel is getting the two fireplaces back in working order. One is completely covered with dry wall, the other in the back room that has been used for storage. Restoring and remodeling them is probably the project I am most excited for (after the new closet, of course).

C really wants to add one like this to the house, too. We’ll see…

So today I have Liam sharing with you some ideas for adding a fireplace to your home. I never really thought about the possibility of adding a fireplace, but you totally can. I’ll let Liam explain more:

A fireplace is both a functional and decorative feature. It can brighten up your home by creating a focal point in a living room or the entire house. Fireplaces radiate warmth and give people a sense of home. This feature was traditionally used as the sole source of heat in a home but this has changed over the years and most houses now have heating systems installed. However, you can use your fireplace as an alternative source of heat when there is no mains power especially during storms.


There are three main fireplace options that you can choose from when you want to brighten up a house including electric, gas, and wood fireplaces. The option you choose will depend on your preferences and house design.


Electric Fireplace
This is one an affordable fireplace option. Electric fireplaces are usually portable, allowing you to move them to any room in the house. This is an ideal choice if you have limited space in your home. It will still offer the aesthetic appeal and warmth you get with traditional fireplaces. You can buy one off the suppliers of modern stoves to brighten and warm up your space.



Wood Fireplace
If you prefer a traditional fireplace, wood is an ideal choice. A wood fireplace allows you to enjoy the smell and sound of wood as it burns. You have to construct a big chimney in your home to accommodate this type of fireplace. This can be an expensive option because you have to create a hole in your house to fit the fireplace and lay additional foundation to support the chimney. For a cost effective solution, you can purchased a manufactured fireplace. This kind of fireplace is made of insulated steel. The box is installed on your floor and it usually comes with chimney sections that you can easily screw together.



It is advisable to install fire resistant material in front of the fireplace to prevent fire hazards. Slate and ceramic tiles are a great choice for this area. You can also install a mantle to cover the fireplace opening. The mantle allows you to display some of your favourite pictures and art pieces. Adding a mantle is one of the best ways to make your fireplace the focal point in the room.


Gas Fireplace
If you want something modern and more convenient, a gas fireplace is ideal. It is easier to install and cheaper compared to a wood fireplace. Another advantage is that you can install this type of fireplace in any part of the house. Most of the gas fireplaces come with sealed doors and you can get one that is specifically designed for bedrooms. Gas fireplaces can be installed on any exterior wall. It is important to have an efficient vent to direct the gas outside the house.



A fireplace can add some glamour and style to your home. It can also create a warm feeling. If you intend to sell your house in future, adding a fireplace is one of the best ways to add value to your property. You can choose a gas, electric or wood fireplace to suit your preferences and room needs.

 

My Problem With People Having a Problem With a Tweet

In the wake of the terrible news of Robin Williams’ suicide, there have been many touching memorials and tributes, including this now (inf)amous tweet from The Academy:

genie, you're freeI don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of links to articles arguing that this tweet is problematic and in bad taste. While I understand where people making this argument are coming from, and assume that their intentions are pure in doing so, I have to respectfully disagree. I want to dig into this topic today because I feel that reactions and controversy to Robin Williams’ suicide really highlights the problematic way that we understand and treat mental illness in this country.

The main problem people have with this message is that it suggests that death is liberation, that for a person struggling with depression, suicide would mean freedom. I understand that point of view, and I would never want to suggest to a person struggling with depression that suicide is the best option. It probably isn’t.

But let’s entertain this idea: say Williams had died of cancer, and this same tweet was published. People would read it as him being free from the misery and pain of the disease. People would find solace in this. But we don’t treat mental illness and depression the same way we do physical diseases like cancer. When a person dies of cancer, they are a victim who fought to the very end. But when a person dies at his/her own hands due to depression, many will quickly judge and determine it a selfish choice that the person made.

Let’s talk about that, that idea of suicide always being wrong and always being a selfish choice. In my darkest moments I have never gotten to the point of suicidal thoughts, and I am very lucky for that. I can’t even imagine just how awful that degree of depression must be, and that’s just the thing– if you have no experience with that kind of depression, it’s hard to understand what that person is going through. Even more, it should make it harder to judge someone in those darkest moments, and yet we do.

For many people in the throes of deep depression, suicide is not just a choice, it seems like the only choice. I’ve heard many talk about how they felt that to continue living was selfish and burdensome to their loved ones, and that suicide was the least selfish choice to make. If you’ve never been in that position, try to empathize, try to imagine just how utterly shitty that is.

Depression is a disease, just like any physical disease. It is not the result of a person’s poor choices or lack of emotional strength. By taking the emphasis off of the suffering and misery, and emphasizing instead the selfishness of a suicide, the bigger risk is that more people will not seek treatment. When we write off suicide as nothing more than a choice, a black and white issue where anyone who does it is deeply flawed, we alienate those who are on the precipice and who really need help. In those darkest moments of depression, a person doesn’t need a “reality check” or “a come to Jesus moment;” that person needs compassion and empathy.

Depression is hard to understand; I’ll admit that I don’t always fully understand how others might feel or why they feel that way. But the best explanation I have heard addresses the misconception that the opposite of depression is joy; that if a depressed person could just find some joy, it will all be okay. That seems like a natural way to understand what depression is, but it’s just false. The reality is that the opposite of depression is just…caring about anything at all, being able to feel something other than apathy. “Joy” isn’t even a goal or a priority; “feeling” is. Again, as someone who has never been there, I can only imagine just how scary that must feel, and how frustrating and lonely it must be. And while I can only imagine what it must be like, I also understand that it probably feels much worse than what I am assuming. Depression is not just feeling blue and having a bad few days. Going out for a walk or having some ice cream cannot wash it all away. We as a culture need to better understand the complexities of depression, and to quit treating it like nothing more than a character flaw. We need to understand that it is a disease, and understand that there is still a lot we don’t understand about it.

So back to that tweet. On the surface it just seems like a thoughtful tribute to a great actor, comedian, and all around decent human being, using a sweet line from one of his movies. But by acknowledging that Williams is now “free,” it acknowledges the shackles of this still misunderstood disease, and it acknowledges the pain and suffering that he and his loved ones have endured. Williams inspired so many through laughter and tears, through thoughtful insight and child-like glee in the world around him. May his lasting legacy be that he also inspires us to seek compassion and understanding.

My Mind is Blown, Science Fair Volcano Style

If you spend a few minutes on Pinterest, you will quickly learn that white vinegar is the most versatile, amazing substance out there. I know, this is hardly breaking news.

white-vinegar

 

But I just wanted to share with everyone how my mind is blown by the discovery that if you dump some in the bottom of the dishwasher, yes, just dump it in there, don’t even aim for the detergent tray, your dishes will be spotless. Don’t ask me how much because that is science and we’re talking miracles. Just shake the bottle at the space below the rack, push start, and let the magic happen.

I realize that my life has hit a new low when I am this excited about clean glasses, but really, we were considering buying a new dishwasher because no detergent or rinse aid was working, and our dishes and glasses were looking nasty. Like, so nasty that no scrubbing was getting the film off. But I just poured some cheap vinegar in there and voila! The icky film was gone.

So now I am all ears to the magic of vinegar. What else does it do for you? Please, blow my mind!

Friday Funnies

It’s Fridaaayyy, and I’ve got some funnies for you!

I love me some sign humor– but I think you knew that already. This week I’ve got some great signs for your viewing pleasure…

sign drunk signsign fire sign no unibrows

I want to put this sign in my yard…

sign slow down

Target for the win again…

sign target sign tongue

That’s my kind of Back to School sale…

signs back to school signs harley signs ish signs megafucks signs police surveillanceHave a great weekend!

Summer Beauty Favorites

summer beauty favorites   I’ve gotta be honest: I’m pretty sloppy in the summer. If I put on pants and run a brush through my hair, that’s a good day. Sometimes work gets in the way of my laziness and I have to make some effort to look presentable, but even then I can’t be bothered to wear that much make up. With that in mind, these are my favorite beauty products for the summer. They fit right in with my lazy lifestyle, and yet also make me feel just that much, well, prettier…

Egpytian Magic . Have you guys heard of this stuff? I was a little skeptical, because really? Magic? With that cheesy packaging? It reminds me a lot of Vaseline, which if you remember, I DO think is magic. However, if you rub this balm between your fingers it becomes oily, and that is when the magic occurs. I use this as a night cream. I worried it would be too oily even for my combination/sometimes very dry skin, but it isn’t. Somehow it leaves my skin not only moisturized, but more clear. It’s supposed to heal all sorts of things like acne scars, stretch marks, cuts and burns (I’ve tried it on a welt from a bad eyebrow wax and it did help!).

They’re Real mascara by Benefit. I’ve said it before, and you probably already use this too, but this stuff is the ish. I wish it was easier to remove at night, but I’ll take that as a fair trade off. I always come back ot this mascara, and it is worth every penny.

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In with Keratin. I love this line of hair products since it’s sulfate-free (important for my Keratin treatment) and it smells wonderful. I spray this in my hair before I blow dry to protect it from heat and give it a nice shine. If it’s a beach day or pool day, I through my hair into a top knot and spray this generously over the top knot to help protect from sun and chlorine damage.

Fake Bake Flawless Self Tanner. Look, I am as white as white can be, which isn’t always flattering when I want to wear shorts or a skirt. I refuse to damage my skin any further than I already did in my 20′s (ugh). That’s where Fake Bake comes in: it gives a good glowy fake tan without being too orange-y, and most importantly, without being stinky!

Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm in Pixi Pink. This is just a lip balm, so the lazy girl in me appreciates this. It has a pretty pop of pink, so the girl in me who knows she could do better appreciates this. It’s affordable, pretty, and lightweight, so all of me likes this. Oh, and it keeps your lips soft and moisturized when the summer sun dries them out, so added bonus!

Kai Perfume Oil I keep a small rollerball of this perfume oil in my purse, and I just adore it. It’s mostly a gardenia scent, which is subtle and pretty. Since it’s a perfume oil, it doesn’t have an alcohol-y characteristic to it at all. That helps you pull off an effortless glamour, like, oh, I just smell good all of the time. No perfume here!

Sacha Juan Body Lotion I love slathering this all over my skin right as I get out of the shower. Shiny Citrus is great, as is Ginger Flower.

Essie Nail Polish in Play Date. Summer time means pedicures. I cannot live without them, even in the dead of winter. This color is just perfect for summer, and has become my go-to, along with Bikini so Teeny.

So those are my lazy summer go-to products. What about you? What makes you feel pretty even during the dog days of Summer?

HIIT-workout

HIIT It!

It’s been a while since I talked about fitness, mostly because I had been in a slump and I’d been looking for motivation myself. If you remember a few months ago I posted about how I have been training in Krav Maga, and that has seriously, without exaggeration, been a life changer. I’ll be writing about it more in future posts, but for now I want to talk about the most effective part of what we do in training, the part that I love to hate the most: HIIT workouts.

High Intensity Interval Training  (HIIT) is hardly a new thing; in fact, many of you probably do this style of training and can back me up on how awesome they are. But it’s newish to me, and I’m kind of obsessed with it. There are a few different ways that people define HIIT, but in terms of what I’m talking about, it’s a short workout (usually 10-30 minutes) that consists of various dynamic exercises that you do full force, as hard as you can, for under a minute, with a short rest in between. I like 50 second activity- 10 second rest intervals. 10 seconds of rest really means, 10 seconds, and those ten seconds go by quickly. The objective is to push as hard as you can and work yourself to exhaustion in those 20 minutes, and then be out.

For instance, here’s a good example of a very doable HIIT workout:

HIIT workout

(via Pinterest)

You can burn 200+ calories in those 20 minutes, and the best part is that you continue to burn fat for the next 24 hours, thanks to the combination of cardio and strength training. You can do it with no equipment, or make it harder with the addition of simple equipment pieces like a jump rope, medicine ball, or sandbag.

If you really want to push yourself and try some badass HIIT workouts, I really recommend Melissa Ioja’s workouts on youtube. She runs the HIIT classes at Beach Cities Krav Maga, but you can work out with her at home. Seriously, she’s like a super hero and her workouts will kick your butt. Here’s an example of what she does:

Since I have been doing these, I’ve noticed a big change in my strength and stamina. I wish I could report on pounds and inches lost, but I never did a preliminary check and to be honest, I’ve been focusing on not paying too much attention to the numbers, and just becoming my strongest, most fierce self.

Also, don’t trick yourself into buying expensive equipment (unless you really want to). The soft medicine balls like what Melissa uses can cost over 100 bucks, but I use this one and it’s great. You can also download a timer app for your phone, like this one. 

Anyone else obsessed with HIIT? Got any workouts I should try?

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