Before Remodeling Your Home, You Should Know…

There are a lot of things that happen when you remodel your home that can be frustrating–especially if you are living in said home during the remodel. You will constantly be covered in dust. Completion will take 2 months longer than projected. The costs will continue to climb as you discover things like defects in plumbing, or that you need a new front door since your current one won’t fit with the new floors you put in.  I could go on and on (don’t worry, I won’t), but if you are to remodel your own home, there is one that I need to warn you about:

home remodel cost

Our bedroom and bathroom, with a glass of rose to ease the frustration.

Friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, and even minor acquaintances will all have opinions and recommendations on what else you should do to your home. To be sure, they’re all lovely people who just want to help. And it turns out that these people have expensive taste.

So, you’re going to put a Jacuzzi in your backyard then, right?

What about new countertops, when are you doing that?

What you really need to do is replace this with a double oven. Oh and then upgrade all of your other appliances to match.

You’re getting a custom closet system, right? Oh, you’re not?..well I mean, you really should.

I’ve got an idea! What if you knocked out this wall and made this a big open space?

I would expect those suggestions from a contractor, but nope–he’s been very understanding about costs. All of the suggestions are good ones, but it’s what follows that is the most frustrating.

Me: Wellll, maybe, later on. We’re kind of over budget right now.

Them: [shaking head or wincing] I mean, I guess. You really should just splurge for that though. You’re going to regret it. I know so-and-so …[ and what follows is a story of how some person did or bought that expensive thing and loves it, or how some person has fill in the blank and it looks so awful; they should have just spent the money and got fill in the blank.]

For some reason, spending a ridiculous amount of money on your home gives people license to pretty much call you cheap to your face. I cannot tell you how many times the above conversation has continued with me explaining a couple more times that we just cannot afford what they are suggesting, only for them to suggest that we should afford it. (?)

So yes, yes I am going to get those cheaper mirrors from Ikea and no, I’m not buying my dining room table from Restoration Hardware. And if you remodel your own home, remember that it’s you who will live there (and is probably paying for it), and if others don’t like it, they can send you a check.

So Some Things Have Happened.

Oh hi there. Remember me? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Actually, looking back at my blog it looks like I pop in every 3 months or so, so apparently I’m right on schedule to chime in to basically say I’m still here! Pay attention to me and give me all of the comments and likes! (Not really but okay kind of.)

A lot has happened since I walked away from this blog. Many times I’ve wanted to sit down and write about it, to really throw myself back in to blogging. But then I scroll through my Bloglovin’ feed and realize that it’s the same ol’ shit on most blogs–but at least they’re shilling Charmin toilet paper while they’re at it!– and I get bored and discouraged. You can read a more detailed explanation of my feelings on it here.

But then I start itching to write. I start missing the creative outlet that blogging has given me, and I miss the push that blogging gave me to actually be creative, and I think maybe I can go back, and at least make my own blog not as shitty. But tomorrow. I’ll get to it tomorrow, and I’ll write something epic. But tomorrow.

So whatever, it’s now tomorrow 200 times over, and maybe this (probably) won’t be epic, but it will be something.

So yeah, a lot has happened since I stopped blogging, and maybe I’ll write about some of them, maybe I won’t.

I grew a garden. Some of the flowers kicked ass, some didn’t. I grew a lot of vegetables, but only ate about half of them. My dog ate almost all of my tomatoes.

2015-05-02 13.21.32I learned that you can take your dog wine tasting, at least in Paso Robles (my favorite CA wine region). This is obviously a game changer.

We went to Italy by way of Turkey, and it was an amazing trip.

Evidence that I was, indeed, in Venice.

I meant to work out more, but instead I gained probably 10 pounds since this time last year.

We gave up on DIY-ing our home remodel and called in a contractor. It was the best decision, but it’s been the most stressful, frustrating process.

We decided to start a family, I got pregnant, and then I miscarried a few weeks later.

C’s cousin and her dog moved in with us (temporarily).

I started taking Spanish courses at the local community college, pero no le hablo bien. 

And hmm, I felt like there was more than that, but maybe not.

So I can’t guarantee that I will blog every day, week, or even regularly, though I hope to. I really want to share the progress with our home, especially as I decorate. I want to dig into a lot of the topics that I have opinions on. But most importantly, I want to make sure that my blog doesn’t suck. I promise I will not be shilling toilet paper or tampons to make a quick buck.



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).


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

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.

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