April 28, 2015

A little bit softer, now

I don't do well with people yelling at me to do things... just ask any of my old P.E. coaches.

I am not very competitive and have always preferred solitary activities like dance, yoga, horse back riding, tennis, etc. During my soccer days, I was usually the goalie, and not half bad. I liked guarding the goal, rubbing chalk between my gloved hands, and waiting for the ball to come shooting at my head, rather than chasing it down the field. I once participated in a company-wide 30-day health challenge and was the only participant to not fluctuate a single percentage on the scale. I'm the human placebo. I only run if I'm being chased, and even then, I'll depend more on my wit than speed. My husband once told me, "You should probably have a back-up plan if you're ever being chased by a wild animal". I do: scratch it behind its ears and rub its belly, duh. But I digress. 

Everywhere we turn these days, someone is telling us what to do, how we should be doing it, and how to be better, faster, happier, more successful.  I get it, pushing ourselves is necessary, but we live in such a noisy world and it feels like everyone is constantly yelling, trying to be the loudest in the crowd, wanting to make sure they are being heard. Our culture is unique in that it embraces self expression, the sharing of opinions, and speaking of personal truths, but lately it feels like everyone is competing for the same audience. Since we are constantly connected through technology and social media, the noise can be overwhelming. As a blogger, the irony of this post is not lost on me, but to be honest, I have been doing a lot of reevaluating about my presence here. 

Do I have really anything to talk about? Am I just adding to the noise?

This space has seen me through my "adolescent years" as a blogger. Without having a clear direction, this blog was simply a place for me to document my everyday life as a twenty-something and write down a little bit of what I know about marriage, moving, making a home, work, pets, and places around the world. I've had sudden bursts of inspiration and long gaps of silence here. Unlike my first blog (long retired), I didn't have a goal going into it of growing this space, advertising anywhere, or collaborating with other bloggers. It may not be my best writing, but at least I know it's my own voice. I like having a simple space to come to when I want, and I am sincerely grateful for those who have read along and waited for me here. And sorry for all the flip-flopping I've done. I'm trying to figure some things out in terms of my new business and I don't really know yet how much of that will be reflected here. I know there are bloggers who have seamlessly blended their businesses and personal lives while the whole internet watched, but the thought of that straight up scares me. I'm leaning towards creating an entirely separate, new space for my business and keeping this one about my everyday life, but two unique spaces feels overwhelming. See what I'm doing? Noise. Noise. Noise.

So that's probably all I have to say about that today.

Peace & quiet & love,


April 27, 2015

Un Patio Festivo (a mini backyard update)

There are so many things that I love about our little beach bungalow. It gets a ton of natural light, has bamboo floors throughout (easy clean-up with 3 pets), a big kitchen, and a separate studio room in back. The only thing it was really lacking was a functional backyard. When we moved in, the actual yard area was dirt, debris, and overgrown bushes so making it a more pet-friendly place was our first priority. We ripped out the shrubs and trimmed back trees, installed edging, lattice, and sod, and created a "doggy" area with pea-gravel and pavers. Our backyard was super low-maintenance but not exactly an oasis that beckoned coffee or cocktail drinking, which are two of my personal favorite outdoor activities.

We have a small deck off of our bedroom that we hadn't given much thought to until recently. Unfortnately, I don't think I even took a decent photo of it until this weekend, because of just how sad it was. Our old metal table and chairs from Denver had rusted in the salty air and empty flower pots were stacked in a corner against a wall where the cord from the strand of lights we hung last year dangled loosely. You get the picture, it was no bueno. But a few cans of spray paint, some fresh plants, and a couple of fun decorations helped bring new life to this neglected space. Now it's a colorful and comfortable retreat that serves bottomless margaritas and the best guacamole around, no passport required. Come see it for yourself! We're open daily. 



April 24, 2015

Going "Home" to Colorado

A month ago we took a trip to Colorado over Dan's birthday. It was our first time back since we moved to California two years ago and we were excited to visit our friends and see our old stomping grounds. Having gotten home from India five days before, I had just enough time to recover from jet lag, spend a day in the emergency room (it wasn't Malaria, it was still crazy expensive), and do laundry before packing again for the snow. My bag for one week in Colorado weighed more than my bag coming home from India, but the flight was approximately 28 hours shorter, so it evened out. 

We landed, picked up our rental car, and then sat in the familiar traffic on I-70 (or "THE" 70 because I'm from California and that's what freeways are called) heading into Denver. We drove through our old neighborhood and past our old house. We circled the block slowly three times but didn't get out of the car. To be honest, it looked like just a house

My relationship with our first home was complicated. We bought our condo just six months into our marriage; we were young (22 and 27) and it was way over our budget. We instantly fell in love with the home's Victorian charm and it was the most unique of the properties we had previewed in Denver. We believed we could make small improvements to boost its resale value and ultimately be happy there for a few years as we finished school (undergrad for me, graduate for Dan). Unfortunately opposite school schedules, a 2-hour commute, and a loathsome lack of natural light, not to mention endless projects and repairs, made our condo feel more hollow than homey. 

To be fair, the house, and my husband, were patient and forgiving as I constantly shifted through decorating phases. I battled with throw pillows and area rugs, furniture and picture frames, trying to DIY and buy the perfect space. Truthfully, the house never felt finished or as put-together as it did the day it went on the market. In some ways, I think I was trying to compensate for so much of what was missing in our lives: peace, contentment, security, familiarity. Home decorations were something I could control. Ultimately it just equaled a lot of reckless spending and too many trips to Goodwill when we moved. 

In the end, that house saw us through some of the best and worst times of our relationship and when we closed the door for the final time and drove away, I never looked back. It really was the perfect time for us to move on and driving by the house again seemed to confirm this. Sure, it was fun to see that the grass we planted was still alive, the gutters and light fixtures we installed outside still functioned, and the place hadn't crumbled to the ground thanks, at least in part, to the foundation repair work we invested in. I hope that whoever calls it home now is happy there and walks to the nearby parks and restaurants and farmer's market as we once did. I hope they love the home, and its quirks, and that it will fill them with joyful memories. And when they move on, I hope someone else brings new life into its old walls. 

Obviously, seeing our old house was not why we went back to Colorado. We had a week full of time with friends, skiing, eating, drinking, and relaxing planned. It was just a two-hour flight, and yet a whole lifetime away, but Colorado was still there, pretty much just as we left it and it was fabulous. We hit all of our favorite spots. Some of our friends have since moved out of state (two heretwo here,  some in California, Florida, Arizona, and beyond), but we enjoyed some awesome quality time with a few of our favorite humans (and their new babies!) on earth. Two years does not seem like that long until you meet toddlers who can talk, that were born after you moved. We'll try to come back before they're all in high school. 

Sean, Melissa, Jack, Jeff, Katie, Kristin, Ryan, Nora, Kim, Taylor, Avery, Justin, Stevie, Ellie, Grace, Heather, Kyle, Saberi, Indira, Kiri... you guys rule. You are what we love, and miss, most about Colorado and you are what make it still feel like home in many ways.  Thanks for letting us crash your living rooms and lunches. Now everyone come to California, k?

Bye California!

a wild fries drive-by.

So many memories from this place, not that I can remember any of them...

shuffle board champions.

Birthday dinner at our favorite restaurant on the planet. 

pure magic.

Ski day! First time in 20 years and I didn't die fall! It's not the worst thing.

Chile relleno-induced happiness. After a brief shortage scare, not one but TWO managers tracked down the last of the rellenos (no, I didn't ask where. or how.) and there were tears. 

Birthday pool party at Wynkoop Brewery, old stomping grounds.

Chewy, the most badass dog ever gave us a tour around his property line.

So I take a lot of pictures of our friend's pets. But come on! This is Olaf. I love him.

Oh Pinche Tacos. Words cannot describe the deep deep love we have for you. 

Hi Coor's field and Mile High Stadium!

See ya next time, Colorado!


April 22, 2015

Life Lately

Today's iphone photo-dump is brought to you by my latest chapter in life that I like to call "working from home, and by for myself, minus a paycheck, plus a whole lot of happiness." Since I haven't posted much about my everyday life in a while, I figured it was time for a little update. Basically, I left my job at the Art Supply shop at the end of February, just a few days before my trip, with the goal of committing myself full-time to building my own business that I am hoping to launch later this year. Without divulging too many juicy details just yet, this has been a dream of mine for over a decade, and I finally started putting the wheels in motion to make it a reality at the end of summer last year. The long-term plan is to have a brick-and-mortar shop, possibly here in San Clemente, but as such things require a whole lot of capital ($$$), I am hoping to start with something small and web-based that I can manage from home. While I have a pretty firm grasp on the general concept, design, and, to probably use a word incorrectly, "ethos" behind the business itself, I am still in the early stages of bringing it to life (read: living with a paralyzing fear of spending real money on something that is entirely my responsibility. Sure, I throw myself full-speed into building and consulting on other people's businesses and careers, but my own? Yikes. Pressure, dude. )

But anyway, despite me, the past few weeks of adjusting to my new "schedule" have been nothing short of rewarding and rejuvenating. They have been spent enjoying meals with people I love, refreshing the neglected spaces of our home, taking field trips to the new dog park, putting my feet in the ocean, creating in my studio, and apparently drinking plenty of cocktails. There's a big part of me that struggles with the guilt of feeling like I'm not "contributing" enough each day, mostly because of the whole no-paycheck-yet thing, but I am constantly being reminded that this was the best decision for me and my little family. When Dan works a 12-hour day and can come home to a clean house, warm meal, and happy pets, I feel full. I know that the work I am putting into my business now, on the front-end, is just as important as the days spent placing orders and cutting paychecks will be eventually. And people wiser and more experienced than me keep reminding me that these things, business-planning-things, always take more time than we expect them to. One day I will probably look back on these quieter days with longing and wonder why I was in such a rush to move on. When I start feeling overwhelmed and anxious I need to remind myself to stay present, breathe, and a pour a glass of wine, it'll all be just great.