In Line at the Grocery Store

Today I was standing in line at the grocery store, staring at the racks of aspirational magazines. This was at Sprouts, so instead of People and US with their tales of celebrity divorces, they have OC Living, Sunset, and Epicurean to make you feel better about yourself for shopping at Sprouts, while reminding you that your neighbors are probably living better than you are.

While I stared at the images of chicly landscaped back yards and scanned over headlines that promised to let you in on the secrets of living better than everyone else, I couldn’t help but feel like I was doing life wrong, just in general. There was an old man in line in front of me, hunched over his shopping cart, wearing a neatly ironed button-down stars and stripes shirt and a red cap. He turned to me, smiled, and broke me out of my haze by asking with a wink, “Boy is there some kind of holiday happening this weekend or something?”

“That’s what I hear, but I’m not sure I believe it,” I replied, winking back.

He leaned in and said, “You know, this will be my 83rd Fourth of July.”

“Wow, nicely done!”

“But what’s even better,” he added, nodding toward his wife who was now at the cashier stand, “We just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary!”

“Oh wow, congratulations, that’s great!”

“Yeah, she keeps me alive,” he continued grinning.

“Well she deserves a medal for that, doesn’t she.” I winked; he laughed.

He went on to tell me about how they’ve lived in the same home since 1955 when they bought a half acre of land for $12,000. The city had even offered to buy them out, but their children and grandchildren have urged them to keep the home.

“Smart move,” I said, and meant it. A half acre of land in Huntington Beach is worth a lot of money, but even more, you could hear the pride in his voice as he brought up the family and home that he obviously loves very much.

His wife finished paying for their groceries. “It was nice talking to you; have a good weekend!” He said.

“And you have a happy Fourth of July, ” I answered. From his smile I am certain  that he will.

It was then that I realized that the truly aspirational lifestyle couldn’t be found on the magazine covers; it had been standing right in front of me.

Oh Happy Day

Oh hi there. It’s been a while. I’ve got a lot of things that I want to say, but for now I just want to use this space to cover one important issue:

 

 

Ya know?

When I woke up to the news yesterday, I was pretty much like this:

liz lemon dance

seinfeld happy dance

I would’ve posted something yesterday, but there was this:

poppin bottles

 

I wrote the following 2 years ago (when the supreme court was about to rule on California’s Prop 8), and reading it again I can only think, damn, what she said. So here’s what I said then and what I believe still:

Once upon a time, I had a boyfriend (before C) who was, well, to put it nicely…an asshole. This was back in 2008, when Prop 8 was on the ballot here in California. He was in favor of the proposition and vehemently believed that gay marriage should not be legal. His main reason? “I don’t like gays, and it’s my vote, so I am going to vote against them.”

I told you he was an asshole.

We argued about this endlessly, and after I’d point out his bigotry and the ugliness of his words, he’d shake his head and shout, “Why do you even care?! You’re not gay! What’s it even matter to you?!”

I care because I believe in love. I believe that no matter what your preference, another person’s love is just as valid as my own love. It is wrong for our society to legislate whose love is more significant or righteous than another’s.

I care because I hope to one day get married, and when I get married, I want my marriage to be about love, and about the love between me and my spouse, and not about what upholds the sanctity of someone else’s marriage. If the sanctity of marriage is upheld by making sure it is exclusive, then it is an institution I do not want to be a part of.

I care because I believe it is wrong to treat any group of people like a lower class of citizens. A person’s sexual preference does not make him or her any less human. When you treat a group of people as if they are not, it makes YOU less human.

I care because denying one group a civil liberty puts all groups at risk of losing a civil liberty. I may detest the Westboro Baptist Church, but I believe in their right to free speech. I would never want to take that away from them, as it is a right that affects us all. Just because you don’t like or approve of a group does not mean that they do not deserve the same rights that you do. And when you agree to strip the rights of one group, you are expressing consent for others groups to not have the same rights, and that group may some day include you.

I care because logical fallacies make me want to smash things. If you say that allowing gays to marry will lead to people marrying their dogs, you are just plain stupid. Let me break it down for you: Two rational and consenting adults are not equal to one rational consenting adult and a canine. It is not logical to assume that allowing two gay adults to marry will lead to people allowing others to marry their pets. A homosexual significant other is not a pet. He or she is a human being.

While some people might believe in a 3000+ year old document that has been translated through several archaic languages, not everyone does. Like it or not, the United States is NOT a Christian nation. I respect everyone’s religious beliefs, but our legislature is not dictated by the bible. I care too much about our democracy to quietly let us fall into a theocracy. You are free to believe what you want to, but you cannot force those beliefs onto others with the law.

And most of all, I care because it’s a small step towards what I hope will be a sea change in our culture, when we stop letting fear and hatred win, and collectively decide that love is all we really need…

carlton dance

My, Those March Goals!

I don’t know about you, but for me March always seems like the real start to the year. (I know I’m not alone–this is probably why so many cultures historically celebrated a new year at the Spring Equinox!)

For me at least, February always feels “blah,” and if I made a new year’s resolution, I have certainly failed by that time. I start feeling like nothing good is going on in my life, and then suddenly March comes around–March, the great month of  my birthday, St. Patrick’s day, spring break, the official start of spring, and longer days. It is, without a doubt, my favorite month of the year.

march goals (2)

So cheers to March! Here’s what I plan to do to help make it even better:

  • Blog at least once a week. I know, slow down there turbo, once a week? Hey, I’m easing in.
  • Get back in to running. After I ran a marathon back in 2013, I stopped running. My attitude was basically “Check! Done and done!” But I do miss it. I don’t plan to train for a race or anything, but I did like the way it kept my head clear and my metabolism more normal. I’ve been taking Khaleesi to a school yard at the end of our street to play fetch, and for the past couple of days we’ve run together around the track. Just a mile– you know, so she doesn’t get too worn out– and it’s been fun. I’ll soon go for longer runs without her though. It’s only fun for both of us when she doesn’t need to be on a leash.
  • Finish planting my garden. I have my veggies planted, and they are flourishing. (!) Now I want to reseed the grass and plant an English style garden on one side of our back yard. I have this fantasy of sipping tea and reading a book surrounded by lavender and hydrangeas this summer, all Downton Abbey style. I don’t know if the garden will live that long, but I will at least get it planted!
downton abbey garden

It’s totally going to be like this, guys.  (Via)

  • Finish one of those home decor DIY projects I have pinned. I have so many ideas, yet so little motivation or patience to get them done.
  • Catch up on Coursera classes. Holy moly, if you slack off for one week, you fall way behind. I am such a bad student!
  • Age gracefully. I turn one year older later this month. I plan for it to be a very low-key, unceremonious occasion, but I still plan to make it special for me.

It’s shaping up to be a busy, but utterly wonderful month. Does anyone else agree that March is the best month of them all?

Life Lately

I keep convincing myself that there is nothing “blog worthy” going on in my life these days, and really that inner voice of mine is right. My life lately has been about delaying gratification, learning patience, and waiting to see what lies around the next corner.

But those in-between phases, the ones without many photographs or exciting stories, make us just as much who we are as those more exciting, glamorous times.

winter sunset

Winter these days is rough.

So with this in mind I want to remember this unremarkable time and put into writing what is going on in my life lately:

  • Our home– it is under construction. We are remodeling just about everything in this house. This house has its charm, but it was built in 1964 and is overdo for a new look. Right now our living room is stripped bear, down to concrete and studs.

Here’s the kicker: we’re doing it all ourselves. If you know only me, this statement would probably make you laugh out loud or cause your jaw to drop. But C is quite handy with this kind of thing; in fact, I’m learning more and more each day that he’s really handy at this kind of thing. Like, if for some reason the whole doctor gig doesn’t work out for him, he could be a contractor.

hardhat zone

But as his assistant, I do not know what I am doing AT ALL. I am getting a crash course and learning quickly, but holy guacamole is this new territory for me. And this home remodel will be going on, for well, forever. I anticipate that for the rest of 2015 at least one room will always be under construction.

  • Projects– I am inspired by C’s DIY spirit, and so while he works on things that he doesn’t need my assistance on, I am giving a go at all of those projects I’ve pinned on Pinterest. I’ll share with you the ones that go well.  I’m also heading up the back yard project, beginning with a vegetable and flower garden (and much, much more to come). I’m actually really loving gardening. Unfortunately for me, Khaleesi is too.

khaleesi gardening german shepherd

(If you have any tips for how to keep a dog from digging in your garden, I am all ears. I have a temporary fence around my veggies now, but I’d like for it to come down eventually. I have heard that sprinkling cayenne pepper in the soil helps, but I’m waiting for more assurances on this before I take down the fence. )

  • I’m learning all sorts of things from Coursera. I’m having a hard time staying disciplined and keeping up on a regular schedule with lectures (let alone assignments), but I really do love getting my learn on. It’s keeping me from over-indulging in bad tv or internet gossip, so that’s an added perk. Have you ever taken a class in Coursera (or something similar)? I am curious to hear about others’ experiences.
  • But I’m still watching too much tv, both good and bad (ahem, Vanderpump Rules). But Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver are keeping my Sunday nights busy! (And maybe a little dizzy, watching all three in that order.)
  • And despite all of that, I am trying to just relax. Seriously. My blood pressure has been ridiculously high the last few times I’ve checked it, and while I am sure that is mainly due to never losing that 10 pounds I kept vowing to lose last fall, some of it has to do with feeling anxious and stressed out. I am teaching myself that it is okay if a day gets away from me. My to-do list doesn’t need to be packed each day, and the number of items checked off of a list doesn’t define me. Right? I have to get used to that idea, because on days when I am not productive, I kept help shaking that feeling that I just suck at life.
  • Because of that, I am thinking about working some yoga into my life more. I always say that, but really. I’m cutting back on Krav Maga –making it to classes each evening was stressing me out, and I have some other big plans for this year that will prevent me from training– and so I need some outlet to stay active and to relieve stress. Does anyone have a recommendation of good online yoga workouts I can stream? And does anyone else have a problem with pets trying to get in on the action any time you roll out a yoga mat?

So, now that I look back on this post, early 2015 ain’t so bad. It’s those little things, the in-between stages in life that are important, no matter how mundane they seem. Ya know?

 

Friday Funnies

Wait, What?!

I know! It’s been so long since I’ve done a Friday Funnies post. Or any post for that matter. I am planning on easing myself back in to blogging, really, and I thought I’d start by sharing some things that have made me laugh recently.

(And really, these posts require much less writing or creativity on my part, so there’s that. And yet, some of these images are still blurry. Laziest.Blogger.Ever.)

2-5 bitches need class

 

2-5 don't mind if I do

 

2-5 drinks own me

 

2-5 hipster hamsters

 

2-5 maths

 

2-5 not sure what to do with face

 

2-5 scared of toaster

 

2-5 texting

 

2-5 wine trigger

 

I also want to acknowledge that I was a douche who did not respond to those kind and funny and helpful comments on my last post, about why I haven’t been blogging. You all really made my day, and I suck for not taking the time to respond individually. Sorry.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Why I (Sort Of) Stopped Blogging

Maybe you’ve noticed– and maybe you haven’t; that’s cool– that I haven’t blogged since before Thanksgiving of last year. I’ve been fine since then; in fact, I’ve been great. I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this post for weeks now, but I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write. There’s no good reason why I couldn’t. I just wasn’t feeling it.

And I guess that’s why I haven’t blogged since then– I’m just not feeling it. Blogging in general has lost its luster for me. I love writing and sharing ideas, but the blogging world, or blogosphere I guess (?) has left me feeling uninspired.

blogging in 2015

See, here’s the thing: some bloggers out there have made a lot of money. And then most of the other bloggers have followed their lead and tried to make money too. And all of this has turned into blogs that really suck.

Some of these “big blogs,” the ones that make tons of money, have become nothing more than a catalog. They feature these polished looks and interiors and recipes that just aren’t real. No one’s life looks like that. I used to really envy the lives of these glamorous “big bloggers,” but I don’t anymore.  Maybe it’s the all-white home decor (who lives like that?), the expensive “c/o” clothing, or the overly staged Instagrams of happy hour that lose me. Their blogs and lives are not appealing to me any more, and feel so staged and inauthentic.

Then there are the smaller bloggers trying to become big bloggers, and their blogs have left me feeling even more frustrated with blogging. Everything has become about increasing page views, gaining followers, having “Pinnable posts,” and basically turning their blogs into nothing but click bait. I get it that bloggers want to see their audience grow– I’ve been there myself! But when I see blog title after blog title that is so obviously constructed as click bait (you know, posts like “The top 10 best ______ EVER!”) I am just turned off from the entire blogging medium. These people who were once interesting and relatable to me have turned their blogs into nothing more than a busted up Buzzfeed. And it bums me out.

So when it comes to my own blog, I just started getting tired of coming up with content for several days a week. I felt like I was becoming one of those blogs that I don’t like. Posts felt so forced. I was constantly thinking about what I would be posting about in the upcoming week, and whether or not I had photos for it. I couldn’t try a recipe or open a new subscription box without feeling like I had to stop and photograph it first, because I needed some kind of blog content. It was exhausting.

And so I took a break. I had a fabulous Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, and I didn’t photograph it. It felt great to just enjoy it all, and to not think about whether or not it was “blogworthy.”

But this doesn’t mean I am quitting blogging forever and ever. Like I said before, I really enjoy writing and being creative. I like sharing ideas and putting together posts when I am inspired. So you will be hearing from me this year, just less of me. I’ve got some HUGE projects currently under way that I am excited to share in the future. And I am looking forward to discovering blogs new and familiar that inspire me to try new things or think of things differently. I want you to know when you read my blog that I am posting because I want to, and not because blogs that post 3-5 times a week get more clicks. I want to focus more on my life and share some of it on here, rather than focusing on my blog and living for blog content.

So here’s to less blogging and more living authentically in 2015!

Road Tripping in an Electric Car

A few weeks ago I guest posted on The Hungry Goat, and I figured this would be a good one to share with you today, since C, Khaleesi and I are hitting the road this morning.  Also, my mom was asking questions about this very topic, so here you go, Mom!


 

With the holidays coming up, I know many of you will have some sort of road trip in store to see family– we’re making the 10 hour drive from Orange County to Flagstaff, AZ for Thanksgiving, and I am actually looking forward to it. Road trips are one of my favorite traditions, but last year we complicated this tradition a bit by purchasing an electric car (a Tesla).

tesla

One of the major hesitations people have about electric cars is the range it can get. We hear it all the time: sure, it’s a nice car, but you can’t exactly go very far, can you? It’s not something you can use for a road trip. 

Au contraire! We’ve made several trips up to Northern California, even to the windy coastal highways of Big Sur, without ever having to purchase gas. In fact, it’s really not much different at all, and so I want to dispel the myth that electric cars are impractical.

First, it’s important to know that there are many electric car charging stations just off of major highways. Tesla has a network of superchargers up the west coast, down the eastern corridor, and along two routes that connect the two coasts. With the superchargers, you can get a full “tank” of electricity in about 25 minutes– a full charge gets you about 265 miles. Now sure, 25 minutes is longer than the 5-10 minutes it takes at a gas station, but it’s free, and you can walk away from your car while it’s charging to go grab a cup of coffee or some lunch.

A Tesla Supercharger station.

A Tesla Supercharger station.

There are some lower voltage chargers available too, and here’s where it takes just a little more planning than a regular trip. We usually make reservations at hotels that have a charging outlet, and let the car charge overnight. More hotels have them than you’d think, as it really only takes the voltage of a clothes dryer. It just needs to be an accessible outlet. Imagine staying at a hotel AND getting a free tank of gas– that would never happen, but with an electric car, it does! We’ve found some of our favorite hotels this way (like the posh but accessible Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara or the cozy Hillcrest Lodge in Big Bear) by searching forums and websites like Plugshare.com.

That’s the other thing: there are a lot of resources to help you map out and plan a road trip. There’s EVJourney that let’s you plug in your destination and plans the best route, or Plugshare, which let’s you know about charging stations in any city, including hotels.

So, the only drawback (if any) is that you must have a little bit of a plan in mind. You can’t just plan on hopping in your car, filling up along the way at whichever gas station you come across, and stopping at the first motel with a “Vacancy” sign.  But the planning itself is so easy; we’ve booked a place on Air BnB the night before we wanted to leave, charged the car overnight, and took off to the desert just like that.

But. But! The best part is that you never pay for gas! A round trip from L.A. to San Francisco will always cost me at least a hundred if we took my Mini Cooper, and that’s an efficient little car. Driving to San Francisco in the Tesla means that we make a couple of stops for about 30 minutes each, but we pay nothing!

My hope is that as more people see how little life changes with an electric car, the cars become more mainstream. No matter what your political leanings, I think that we can all agree that becoming less oil-dependent is good for many reasons. If you have questions about life with an EV, let me know in the comments!

Understanding Privilege

Yesterday I came across this story on Buzzfeed, and I’d really like to share it here today:

“I once saw a high school teacher lead a simple, powerful exercise to teach his class about privilege and social mobility. He started by giving each student a scrap piece of paper and asked them to crumple it up.

Then he moved the recycling bin to the front of the room.

He said, “The game is simple — you all represent the country’s population. And everyone in the country has a chance to become wealthy and move into the upper class.”

“To move into the upper class, all you must do is throw your wadded-up paper into the bin while sitting in your seat.”

The students in the back of the room immediately piped up, “This is unfair!” They could see the rows of students in front of them had a much better chance.

Everyone took their shots, and — as expected — most of the students in the front made it (but not all) and only a few students in the back of the room made it.

He concluded by saying, “The closer you were to the recycling bin, the better your odds. This is what privilege looks like. Did you notice how the only ones who complained about fairness were in the back of the room?”

“By contrast, people in the front of the room were less likely to be aware of the privilege they were born into. All they can see is 10 feet between them and their goal.”

“Your job — as students who are receiving an education — is to be aware of your privilege. And use this particular privilege called “education” to do your best to achieve great things, all the while advocating for those in the rows behind you.”

As someone who snagged a seat towards the front of the classroom, not only am I aware of my privilege, but I WILL advocate for those who got a seat behind me.

ferguson police

“Let’s not just make noise. Let’s make a difference.” — Mike Brown’s family.

White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

I must be what the kids these days call a “basic bitch,” because I do love pumpkin flavored things. And no, I did not burn out on pumpkin in October, and I hope that you didn’t either.

That’s because these cookies are a fun, autumnal take on my favorite cookie: The Snickerdoodle.

white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles

A snickerdoodle is good any time of the year, but throw in some pumpkin and white chocolate, and you’ve got yourself a real winner for that office potluck you probably have before Thanksgiving.

They’re super chewy and moist.

Yes, I said moist. Why is that suddenly the word that everyone hates? Oh yeah, because of that episode of How I Met Your Mother. Get over it, people. These cookies are moist.

white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles 6

This recipe relies on the pumpkin bringing most of the moisture, with no egg added. This makes the cookies really soft, but it also means that you need to cool them on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

This recipe comes from Sally’s Baking Addiction, but I’ve doubled it for you here, since these are sure to be gobbled up quickly.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips

Start by melting the butter in the microwave, and then whisk in the brown sugar and half of the granulated sugar until there are no more lumps, and then blend in the vanilla and pumpkin.

In a larger bowl, toss together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, half of the cinnamon, and the pumpkin pie spice. Pour in the wet ingredients, blending with a spatula, and then gently fold in the white chocolate chips.

Sneak a few bites, and then chill the dough for 30 minutes at the very minimum. You can’t skip this step, because you melted the butter earlier, and you need this dough to harden up some. If you refrigerate them overnight, you will need to let them sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes so that you can roll the dough.

When your dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix together that other 1/2 of the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Roll the dough into small balls, and then dip them into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. You’ll want to flatten out the cookies a little on the sheet, because these will rise more than they will spread.

smush 'em down a little

smush ‘em down a little

Bake these for 8-10 minutes, and then like I said before, allow them to cool for about 10 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. If you don’t, they may fall apart, and then you will have to eat them all so no one sees your sad broken cookies.  This can make for an excellent excuse to gobble them up, but if you want these to look nice to serve to others, let them cool for a little while.

white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles 5

And there you have it! These are so nice with a cup of tea and a good book. If you’re a “basic bitch” like me, you’ll love these.

white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles 3

It’s Been Awhile.

Aaaaand, I’m back.

I took a little hiatus there, thanks to, well, life. I was busy with work and stressed out with my second Krav Maga test, and I just needed a break from blogging. I missed some of it, but to be honest, it was nice to not worry about what I was going to post each day or feeling guilty when I didn’t respond to comments.

But what I did miss was getting to spill my thoughts onto the screen. C has been working a lot, and Khaleesi is an okay listener (but a bit judgey sometimes, ya know?). So here’s what I’ve been thinking about:

Training for this Krav test was a bit too much for me, and I wish I had skipped a testing cycle. I’ll explain more about it later, but for now, I finally feel like I can take a deep breath (which is a little ironic, since the test consisted of almost 5 hours of gasping for air).

Is anyone else excited about the return of The Newsroom? I love it, even though all of the characters’ monologues sound like those speeches you write in your head when you can’t sleep at night and you’re thinking about what you wish you had said in that moment. So no, none of it is realistic. But damn, those “re-written” monologues are good.

Popcorn with truffle-infused olive oil and a little sea salt is amazing. I make it at home with my cheap little air popper and some truffle olive oil I got on sale at Home Goods, and I feel all fancy.

I continue to be inspired by my international students. Writing a thoughtful essay in a language you are still learning is no simple task, and yet they rise to the occasion.

I totally respect people’s dietary restrictions/lifestyles, but Thanksgiving is not the time to be an asshole about it. Sneering at anything not paleo, making comments about how you don’t want any dead animals on your table, or complaining about the gluten in some dishes just makes you a douche. Shut up and just navigate your way around what’s on the table. Trust me, there’s something there that you can eat, and you won’t starve. The next day you can eat all of the vegan/gluten-free/paleo stuff you love.

I am not including a picture in this blog post because I just don’t feel like it. Deal with it.

 

 

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