Monday, December 17, 2012

Decorate for the Holidaze

We've been incredibly blessed to have inherited Christmas decorations from both sides of our family. 
Hand-me-down village houses...
Nativities everywhere...
Handcarved (and painted) reindeer from Grandaddy and Mema...
Two trees- I feel so extravagant with one in our ginormous bedroom...
Hand sewed stockings from our mothers...
And this year? Tree skirts from my best friend and my grandmother. I freakin LOVE these pompoms! I had to quickly get presents under the tree though because once a skirt went down, Ripley ran over and laid down. 
"Thanks, mom, for this great blanket!"
Mr. E also has a nutcracker collection (more like he had two and we've subsequently grown from there) as well as a thing for Santa ornaments. Couple this with my love of peppermint and BAM! we have a rustic-pop modern theme going on. 
My favorite thing in the world? Snuggling up with my hubby (and puppy), watching a movie with the tree as the only light. Absolutely  heavenly. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Court Date Revisited.

There are days that you feel overwhelmed. When you can't move because you're paralyzed with fear, with guilt, with consuming dread of the things you have to do that day.
I do not like these feelings.
In fact, I dislike them so much that I will actively do the things that need doing, just to avoid feeling like that.

I pride myself on being a strong person and getting things done, but sometimes there's that one thing that knocks me on my butt. That makes me wish I had my mom (but I'll settle for a husband too).

I don't know what it was about fighting this stupid train citation, but I was shaking uncontrollably as I exited the courtroom this morning (victorious!). As I looked around at my fellow infraction-committers I wondered where I had gone so wrong as to be stuck here. What a strange group. 

It reminded me of those times that I got in trouble at school and had to sit with the delinquents. Those kids who were always breaking rules, picking fights and talking back. 
I don't do that. 
I'm quiet in public. 
I try very hard to follow rules. 
So why was I here?

The courthouse itself is nothing note-worthy. Dirty, outdated, cranky sheriff officers; it's the same everywhere. My  husband, bless his sweet heart, offered to go in with me- to drive me there and sit with me in the courtroom so I wouldn't feel so alone. 

I took his hand as a lifeboat- the growing anxiety of getting in trouble threatened to swallow me whole. I was even ready to pay the fine (until I realized it could be upwards of $200). I imagined the anxiety building so high that I would finally jump out of my seat- Katniss Everdeen style- and volunteer to pay just to get out of there. But my husband whispered sweet nothings and silly jokes in my ear, telling me it was going to be okay.

And I wonder- I hope- that I'm there for him in this way. That when his panic attacks and spells of anxiety threaten to overtake him, that I could be his shelter and his refuge. I owe so much to this man for helping me see the true priorities in life.

In the end it was anticlimactic. They frog marched us to the front podium, the "referee" listed our issue and offered us 4 options. When I whispered told him that I did indeed have the ticket requested, he waived his hand and told me to be careful. "They're relentless," he said to me.

And that was it.

How did I ever get onstage and act if I couldn't even face court by myself?

But it was over and done with, fee free, and nothing changes your day like Disneyland.
Lab techs rock.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Banner

I started a project this weekend and finished it yesterday- though I suppose you could do it all in one day.

I have really fallen in love with the idea of bunting and/or banners- they're just so cute! And they come in so many different shapes and sizes, colors and sayings...

So, I had some odds and ends laying around and set to work!

I had some twine left over from my engagement party last year (only a year? Geez...) where my mom had used it to decorate her windows- tied with scraps of coordinating fabric. I love the rustic look to it, but as it happened I had two pieces, so the shorter got the axe. 

I also turned to my handy (and mutilated) book- are we sensing a theme here? After deciding what I wanted spelled out, I picked a font, traced the letters off of my computer screen and set to cutting. In retrospect I think I would make the font bigger, but I thought I had a lot of letters to cut (which I did) so I was unsure if it would fit.

Guess I'm missing an m?
After laying these all out, I eyeballed the length of twine to have the bottom string droop more than the first and tied the ends together. I then glued the tops of each letter onto the twine (using craft glue) and waited for them to dry. This is a very delicate project due to how small my letters were (and the fact that I made them out of paper). I could easily see these being more sturdy if I had glued the letters to a cardboard base (idea...) or used felt instead (other idea...). 
My chemistry book got some use after all!
Regardless, I like how simple this turned out and it was very easy to drape across our rather large picture frame. Decorated.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Film Set Weekend. Take 2.

I could spend this time complaining; talking about how lonely I was this weekend, how much I didn't get done, how guilty I am for not eating very well or working out.

Instead, this weekend rocked. I set out to do a list of things around the house, but instead I planted my butt on the couch, snuggled with my dog and crafted. I decorated my presents with ribbon. I did a load of laundry. I swept the dust bunnies that threatened to eat my 8lb dog.

I watched White Christmas for the first time. I wrestled a twin mattress and boxspring into another room to make way for two armchairs. I eagerly avoided cleaning off Dan's desk.

I eyeballed our Christmas cards lying haphazardly on our coffee table, but there are a few things I share with my mom in that situation. 
1. I can procrastinate with the best of them
2. I am a professional when it comes to guilt from not doing something I know I should do.
3. I cannot wait around for my husband forever (although sometimes I want to)

I realize that Mr. E and I have an unusual relationship. I want to be with the guy all the time. Although, as a disclaimer, I'm not clingy- I encourage him to work, to go to the gym, to play video games with his friends, to go out and be with other people. 

But I also look forward to the time I get to spend with him- cooking together, walking the dog, watching movies. I cherish every minute I spend with him because I fought so hard to be here. 

So, as the honeymoon is clearly over, it becomes (frustrating) to put off doing activities that I would like to do or finish just to wait for a time when he's free. And when all he'd like to do is sit and watch a movie with me, it's hard to see the silver lining. 

It's the time-honored classic: "I want you to WANT to wash the dishes."

I cannot change my husband. And I cannot sit around and wait my whole life to do things with him. 

Sometimes you have to pull up your big girl panties and compromise.

So the Christmas cards? I'll write them, and address them (because I have the better handwriting anyways) and find some time to slip him the cards to sign so we can send them out on time. It may not be what I initially wanted, but after prioritizing (afterall, what did I really want out of this situation?) I knew how to achieve it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

This Thesis is Done

Mr. E keeps telling me he can't believe that he's done with his thesis.

Okay, technically, he's not even really DONE, he's just done shooting. So the part he was most involved in is over.

And he can tell me that all he wants, but I'm of two minds.

Dude. You're DONE. You can be home now and not catering to your other wives' needs (his editor, his producer, his cinematographer). I've had to share my husband's attentions long enough!

And then, a bit more forcefully...

Are you KIDDING? You will never be done with this project. This is your baby, your first and your biggest. You will hover over the editor's back (as he does his own movie, mind you) until YOU may as well edit the damn thing. You'll foley and find a kickin' soundtrack better than when you had to do our wedding. You'll fundraise to send this thing to festivals and you'll brag to all your family about how AWESOME it looks. 'Cuz it does.

It may not have hit you that shooting is done (all two weekends and 66+ hours of it), but I am personally gearing up for another step in the long process of film-making: post-production.

Here's to making it through to the thesis showing in April.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Best Friend

You know that feeling you get when you can be with someone and just let your hair down? You already know how they'll respond to your jokes and your stories so you don't have to impress them anymore and you just tell it like it is? When you feel so free to be YOU and not politically correct you or polite-but-distant you, but YOU to your bones?

This last week felt like that.

We decorated, we cooked, we played at Disneyland, we talked and chatted and gossiped for a full week. And it was awesome.

My best friend moved to the east coast almost exactly one year ago, and while I would like to visit, it just hasn't been in the budget. So when she offered to come out for a full week I had no qualms asking for a couple days off (for family reasons).

I had been sitting on my hands the week after Thanksgiving, itching to put up Christmas decorations. But I told myself it would be more fun to do with my best friend, so I waited. Impatiently. And allowed myself to at least take down my fall decorations. 

She came in on Friday night, and we immediately whisked her off to In n Out like a true Californian. Saturday Dan was on set all day (thankfully with reasonable hours) and Genna and I brought out all six boxes of Christmas decorations (packrat, much?), blasted Christmas carols and sipped apple cider. 

Because that's not enough of a project, I was also slated to cook food for Mr. E's 30 person set. Let's be clear: I cook and bake and I love it. Dinners, desserts, meals; I love feeding people. I don't think I'd make a career out of it, but there's something wholesome and right about serving home-cooked meals. 

However, cooking for 30 people and transporting said food? With a puppy in the car? Not as fun. Stressful, even.

I thought that I would take the easy way out and cook breakfast for dinner: pancakes, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs...we made a mess out of the kitchen. However, because I wanted everything to be hot (looking back, I would rather everything had been COOKED then reheated as opposed to hot) I waited until the last minute to cook everything...which resulted in mostly pancakes (easy) and half the bacon and sausage. 

They had barely gotten through half of the line (talent first) when the meat disappeared. Of course, with mostly guys I should have known bacon was a MUST. Thankfully, Mr. E's producer came to the rescue with a few pizzas...lesson learned. 

Sunday we drove to my parents house in Ramona: mountains, horses, more Christmas decorations. I was so happy to be able to decorate with my parents and my siblings (even sans hubby)- it's one of my favorite memories of each year to put the tree together, remembering each ornament and story.

We loaded the car again on Monday and day-tripped around San Diego, hitting Balboa Park and Oldtown. Poor Ripley was awful on her leash all day- too long in the car, then too many new things outside to sniff and tug and see. Genna and I took it in stride, though, take pictures, admiring the Christmas decorations and generally enjoying each others' company.
Riplicus Maximus at her finest.

This puppy has the worst case of camera-shy-ness.

Tuesday, of course, was a time-honored classic. We live only 4 miles away, and Genna said the past year had been the longest time she's ever been away from Disneyland. Poor thing. So we partied it up- Disneyland proper and California Adventure: rides, shows, churros (it was too cold for Dole whip). Fairly sure this was my first time actually riding the Haunted Mansion when it's decorated for the holidays...(blasphemy). 

Eventually I did have to go back to work, but after such a long "vacation" it was nice to be productive again. I was able to wrap presents AND get Genna addicted to Once Upon a Time . Vacation well-spent. We exchanged gifts the night before she left (at 6:30 in the morning: boo LA traffic) and we received this beautiful handmade tree skirt (by her mother, as Genna is not quite that crafty).

Freakin. I love the holidays.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Under the Tree

This Christmas I gave you my heart I did something I've always looked forward to doing.

I coordinated my wrapping paper.

Yes, I am geeky like that.

It doesn't bother me that presents are mismatched with whatever paper is on hand. I like to see all the different colors and patterns- the goofy reindeer and the mature glittery damask. It all has its place and time. 

One of our Christmases at home I remember my mom bought a huge roll of brown packing paper, rolled it out down the hallway and painted our hands blue and red (and white?) to decorate all bajillion yards. Not only was this a fun experience for us as kids, but watching the presents underneath the tree magically grow in size, decorated with our handprints was nothing short of inspiring. I can't wait to do the same with my own kids- one more way to include them in helping and learning about the winter holidays.

I did not have the time (or patience or space) this year to do that, but I've noticed similar trends popping up in magazines and on Pinterest. So I thought I'd take a crack at it.

My very own "brown paper packages tied up with string"!

The packing paper was 3.99/roll at CVS ( yards?) and is pretty thick. Next year I'll try and find something a little thinner. I was grateful I didn't break down and buy the special baking twine (100 yards or so) online, because the next day I found these at Target in the dollar section! Since I'm going basically reds, whites and silver in decorations, wrapping in green helped me differentiate between what was gifts for US and what were gifts for THEM. Plus, If I'm really on top of it this year (fingers crossed) I can save my string for next year. Just a few dollars, but it'll feel good to recycle.

Simplicity was key- I didn't want big bows or floofy ribbons, garish snowmen or cute little Santas. There are just too many choices! I'd always regret buying one roll when the next I found was even cuter. So I'm good to admire. I might feel adventurous enough to save some wrapping paper scraps to frame as Christmas decorations around the house though! (omg....epiphany!)

So I just wrapped to the best of my ability (while attempting to be frugal). I used the tape on hand (which is opaque and NOT clear) and some pieces weren't quite big enough. That's alright, we'll put them behind OTHER packages and no one will notice once they're open. :)

I wrapped some of the packages with twine: red for Mr. E and me, green for siblings, parents, nieces and nephews. 

And then the tags. I figured the wrapping was signature enough, so we don't need no stinkin' "From"'s here! And in keeping it simple stu- ah, we just did first initials. In lower case because I break all grammar rules when decorating. I used a book that I have no intention of reading and free-handed a bunch of letters in different orientations. So we have a lot of D's (handy since lower case D's and B's are just reversed) so Mr. E has some "tags" handy also!

The result? I love. Plus a close-up shot of that fabulous tree-skirt...handmade by my grandmother! All in blues and silvers, with sweet little bows. It's the perfect pop against our other decorations.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Makin' a Movie

Making a student film is like...

Baking cupcakes at the last minute for your kid to take to school the next day. Only your high hopes of showing off to all the other parents/teachers/volunteers by making treats from scratch is subject to things like reality and high expectations when you realize you need these cupcakes NOW and it's 10:30 at night but you have no ingredients. So you have to run to the store (Wal-Mart, because what the heck else is open?) and even though you attempted to make this a productive trip and wrote down a list and shit, you definitely forgot that in your car.

So you're cruising down the aisles, trying to remember what you wrote down, avoiding eye contact and worrying the whole time that you are losing SLEEP (you know, that thing you've looked forward to all day?) and spending MONEY despite a budget you've set yourself. But won't it be worth it? Won't your kid love you even more and look back on memories like this thinking, Gee, my mom loved me so much she spent the time to bake me special things
So you're all high on visions of grandeur, but really its just the smell of the person in front of you who has dandruff halfway down their back and you realize you completely forgot frosting. While you were willing to bake these mini cakes from scratch, you draw the line at frosting because those 7-year-olds won't even appreciate true buttercream frosting and besides you're already at the store. But then you realize that all the crap in your cart costs more than you expected and all you have is a ten dollar bill.

When you finally get home you're exhausted but you whip up a quick batter, pop those babies in the oven, take one look at the mess you've made in the kitchen and slide it all into the sink. That's clean enough. Who's really going to fault you except yourself? It's the cupcakes that are the priority, not the clean counters. Yeah, that's some first class justification you just dealt yourself, but it's 11:30 at night (much later than you had initially _wanted_ to go to bed) and some things are expendable.

Sadly, you spend another 45 minutes waiting for the cupcakes to cool so you can frost them and dammit if they don't frost properly. So then you have sugar all over your fingers, sprinkles between your toes (because of course you spilled) and your expectations for these glorious cupcakes are quickly dropping. You spend another ten minutes hunting for the tupperware you know will fit all of these damn cakes, only to realize your husband used it to put away leftovers (for once). 

In the morning your kid has those friggin cupcakes, proud as can be, maybe not for the reasons you envisioned, but they're made, they're frosted and they're out of your hands. Now it's up to someone else to enjoy them.

Yeah, making a student film is kind of like that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cater to Your Every Whim

I think I may have lost my mind.

In an effort to cut costs and support Mr. E on his student film, I offered to cater food for 3 of 5 days. 

Let's be clear.

I cook. Pretty well too! Pork chops with peaches, Meatloaves, burgers, mashed potatoes, etc etc.

I bake. Pies, cookies, homemade breads, etc etc.

Because I do these things, and I enjoy doing these things, and I've heard praise for doing these things...I thought helping Mr. E out would be useful. Fun, even.

And then I realized that I need three meals on different days for 30+ people. 

Pizza is frowned upon for SAG actors because it's too "cliche". Though I could probably swing it if I wanted (hello? pizza and salad and apple crisp? that's not your average college set, now is it?!)

So I need to get creative.
Pasta and meatballs...with salad and garlic bread.
     Meatballs are easy enough to make ahead of time. The pasta dried out by the time I transported it to set last time, so we'll see if we can think of something sneaky to keep it slippery and serve-able.

Carne Asada fries
     French fries, carne asada meat, refried beans, cheese, guacamole (optional) and sour cream (optional).
     I loved getting these at theatre rehearsals- everyone loves Mexican food and these are SO EASY to whip up. Mr. E requested these the last day due to bean content.

My coup de grace? Breakfast for dinner.
     I'll cook dozens of pancakes and just fry up sausage and bacon! Who doesn't eat bacon? Plus, I've already made lemon bars for the masses, so we'll call that their "fresh fruit" for the day, yeah? 
We can all ignore the three sticks of butter I added, mmkay?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Coming Home

There are few things more ahh-worthy than coming home from an extended stay to a clean house.

The stress and worry of your (relaxing) weekend melt away to the sight of your perfectly plumped, extremely inviting couch. Oh and that already-made bed? Begging you to jump in and sleep, please.

I love visiting family. I love seeing everyone, cooking, baking, watching movies, playing games- it's great. But there comes one night too many when you realize you would LOVE to sleep in your own bed instead of the couch. 

But possibly the most excited of all of us? Ripley bee-lined inside the house exactly to where she left her poor mangled Hippo, carried his pink pelt to her favorite chew spot and went to town.
She even forwent her new bone for that stuffed animal. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012


In the last few years I can truly say that my cup runneth over with blessings. Most notably:

1. My husband. Of course, so much of what I have and look forward to having is because of this man.

2. My wonderfully supportive family. I am absolutely enveloped in love and understanding each time I see them. I am so thankful to have such a great support group behind me.

3. My job. I have struggled- and often still do- with what I want to do with my life. I've always had part time jobs since everything took a back seat to school and while graduating has cut down on some of the stress, I find it strange to adjust to ONE job ALL the time. But having a job that pays well not only sets me up for a career but bolsters my self-worth: I work full-time. I am useful and I am using the knowledge that I struggled through four years of school to get. That makes what I do a million times more fulfilling.

4. Our home! We live in Orange County and I can't tell you how thankful I am that we pay what we do. I've looked around at other apartments, townhouses and condos and we are far and away getting the best bang-for-our-buck. We are in a nice neighborhood within walking distance of school and groceries, we have a small yard and a garage plus our utilities are paid for. 
     You know that saying, "What if you woke up with only the things you thanked God for last night?" I would never lose this house!

5. A few of our "things" (though not for reasons you would think!)
 Our car: this clunker has broken down on us twice, but I am so thankful to have a car to rely on when we need it. We've found other ways to make-up for any mishaps, but having a car has really given us the independence to be able to do the things we want together.
Our Kitchen-aid: This handy machine has not only helped me with cooking, but it's useful as relationship glue too! Cooking is a way of reaching out to people, sharing and enjoying memories with others. Yes, I could do do the same thing without it, but it's certainly a luxury I enjoy.

 Our TV: This might come off as a little indulgent, but as Mr. E is a film student, showing movies in the best quality is really important! When it's basically your job to KNOW why movies look the way they do and each time you sit down is a chance to study lighting, effects, cinematography, etc, it's helpful to have a nice TV. Someday (when we're feeling even more indulgent) we'll work on the sound too...

 Our Ripley: I'm glad we waited to get her, but having a puppy has really kicked our butts in to gear. Sad to say, but we were getting pretty lazy at home looking after only ourselves- having a puppy motivates us to get things done more often. Plus, she's pretty cute, so there's that. ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


This is no good. 

No durn good.

Today I am home sick. Today I will rest and nap and cuddle my puppy in huge blankets watching Netflix.

Today I feel conflicted about not going to work- I like work, but I also cannot speak and I had a slight fever last night. So maybe it's for the best.

I came home yesterday sounding like a pubescent boy because my voice cracked so bad. Mr. E plopped me down on the couch with his favorite comforter and made me some Spongebob mac and cheese (blue box, of course). It was full of preservatives and delicious.

I did nothing but sit on the couch all evening- only half watching shows. And to some extent it felt nice to not do anything. But I also get restless easily. 

I wish there was some way to read and watch TV at the same time. 

Monday, November 19, 2012


I think I love all seasons equally.

Spring, when the whole world is waking up. Mornings seem brighter, grass smells new and that insatiable tugging in your chest reminds you that outside is better.

Summer, with its lazy days and warm nights; less clothes, more grilling and time seems to stop in the middle of a glorious afternoon.

Fall, its hints and traces of smoke, of cold and of color. By turns one season and then another, never quite deciding which way to sway until it slowly slips to colder weather.

And winter. Bundling, snuggling, nesting, cozy. Even in southern California you find more reasons to stay inside, enjoying company and food and memories as the world continues on outside.

Sometimes, I jump the gun on seasons. Sometimes, I catch myself remembering a season past or a season to come and I remind myself to try to enjoy the season I'm in before it's gone.

Now that the holidays are coming up I find myself cleaning and organzing with renewed zeal. Spring cleaning doesn't have ANYTHING on fall nesting! All of the projects I should have started months ago are forefront in my mind, constantly reminding me that I have procrastinated too long.

Do I have enough thread?
Will my packages get out on time?
Is the bathroom clean for guests?
Did I remember to write down the paint color I need?

As crazy as it gets, I live for this. I love giving, I love helping and I love keeping my things organized. With all the projects I have going on, it's important to be able to find exactly what I need for when the mood strikes. It's also important to be able to shove it away quickly when we have guests over.

What crazy love/hate relationships do you have with your habits?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mommy Dearest


Otherwise you wear a hand-me-down skirt on your commute to work, only to realize three quarters of the way there that the slit in the back is so. long. that your unmentionables are clearly visible as you pass a storefront window.

So then you're forced to hold your beautiful gifted leather messenger work bag strategically behind your bare self. And fight the bright red blush you can feel crawling all over your body.

Sometimes you're lucky enough to be a crafty mother-duck and have embroidery thread for your cross-stitch in your bag.

And then you lock yourself in the biggest bathroom stall, pop a squat and sew the foot long slit with tiny black stitches.

Sure, you may never be able to face your fellow commuters again, but at least no one at work saw you. Like the little old Asian men who walked behind you up the stairs. Yeah, they definitely didn't see anything.

Dinner Dilemma Solved

I recently created a dry-erase menu frame for our kitchen. Another, project, another frame, another dinner mystery...demystified. I had all of these materials lying around from other projects (YES!), so put-together was relatively easy.
Even keeping us up-to-date on the weekly menu is fun because I get to use markers. What can I say, I'm a kid at heart.

This is much easier for both myself and my husband- we can brainstorm in five minutes what we'd like to eat for the week, touch base with each other's schedules and focus on how best to spend time together.

Typical weeks look something like this:
     Italian (pasta, ravioli, lasagna if I feel ambitious)
     Fish (tuna or tiliapia: I don't do fish)
     Grilled (steaks, chicken, pork: this is Dan's territory)
     Something easy (mac and cheese, taquitos, freezer pizza)
     Mexican (tacos, Hamburger Helper, nachos)
     Burgers (Yes, we eat them almost once a week- they're never the same though!)

A lot of nights we opt to go easy- he's still in school with a weird schedule, work some nights, production meetings for his movie on others...and I get home at dinner time. 

One of my favorite "throw together" meals includes black beans- tilapia and beans, tacos and beans, chicken and beans. I used to drain them, heat them, season and go. Easy protein, right?

I came across this recipe for black beans one night and decided to try it. They reccommend dry beans, but I cut corners. They smelled delicious (Duh! Vinegar!) and when I taste-tested I realized I could almost eat them straight out of the pot.

My hubby, bless his heart, told me this was the first time he actually liked beans. I've been cooking this poor guy beans at LEAST once a week for a year and I never knew!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Court Date

Some days you strangle the anxiety and the neophobia and you get stuff done.

Other days odds are against you.

But ultimately it's how you deal with your problems that counts.

A few months ago I got a citation from riding the Metrolink without a ticket. I had one...but I forgot it. I could win awards for forgetting things. Regardless, I was asked by an officer to present it, and as I was unable to, promptly cited. 

That in itself was stressful- I was embarassed for forgetting, I was flustered because I KNEW I had bought a ticket and the officer was incredibly nosy. As I was trying to show him all the other ticket stubs I had, he was trying to peer into my bag, pointing and gesturing that I should show him all these things. 
My wallet. 
My lunch. 
My cross-stitching. 
My feminine products. 
Are you happy, Mr. Officer? 

His little nugget of information bequeathed to me as he left: "Bring your ticket and the citation to the court date and the judge will probably waive it."

Back to today.

I live less than 10 minutes from the courthouse and since my citation said 8am, I figured I would have this all resolved in time for me to get to work just a little bit late, with hopefully no one the wiser.

Oh, what a sweet naive world I live in.

I left at 7:30 and promptly remembered I hate driving new places. I get frustrated and confused and embarassed about my old car. Also, downtown is crazy crowded at 8 in the morning. And every single building looks official enough to be a courthouse. 

So I'm racing past these buildings, hoping that the directions I remembered Googling were right. Hoping that each parking lot I pass isn't the one I should be parking at. 

I find a lot that pays with plastic (I can barely remember the last time I carried cash regularly) and park. Next to a law library? Whatever- I'll find a map and figure it out, right?

Naive. SO. NAIVE.

I find a map, but I have no idea what my orientation is. Regardless, my citation has an address and a room number. Funny thing is, the room number matches a building number on the map that is titled OCTA. Which is what I want, right? I'm running late, but instead of letting that get to me, I give myself props for getting all the way down there on my own and get on with my task.

I walk my poor frozen feet in what I think is the right direction and quickly realize that I'm walking an urban obstacle course with checkpoints at each map.  I cross the street and grit my teeth past the homeless people milling around the map. Yes, they give me the heebie-jeebies; yes, I wish that I had money to give them; yes, I grew up learning to avoid eye contact and keep my valuables close. It's then that I realize that my bright yellow wallet is clutched in my hand in full view of everyone.

Grit your teeth and bear it, girl. Walk with purpose.

I find the next map and realize I've walked the wrong way down the street. About face. 

The building I'm pretty sure is the right one is shaped funny- sort of oblong and round rather than a square. No matter, I can smell victory. I'll just go in, flash a smile, say how truly sorry I am for not having a ticket and be on my merry way with a reduced fine.

However, this building hates me. Its address on the side is the address I want...+20. But I'm in the right area. So I walk around the building, hoping for an entrance, a receptionist and some clearer directions. The door I find is labelled "Health Care". Not quite the "Transportation" I was looking for. I walk in and realize the building directory has NOTHING to do with public transportation.

So I turn around and keep going around the building. There was no receptionist and no one in the lobby, so I figure I'll do better on my own. 

I walk around that building TWICE more before I find the address I want- and the sign saying that the "OCTA" part of the building has been closed since 2008. 

It's about this time (when I can't feel my toes anymore) that I start muttering to myself. This does not help my mood as I'm starting to blend in to my surrounding peers...only I smell much better.

I walk into a building that looks official and ask the officers behind the glass exactly where I'm supposed to go. They tell me that I've mixed up "room" and "building".

Oh. Did I mention I'm a college graduate? I am what discourages earlier generations.

Swallowing tears of frustration, I don my sunglasses once more and head in the general direction they've pointed me to. And then I realize that the walkway they've mentioned is filled to bursting with homeless people. 

It's like in the movies when the hero must literally face her fears by  trudging through them. Chin up, boobs out, I walk through, almost tripping because I can't feel my toes in my heels anymore. Did I mention that I'm now 45 minutes late?

I get in a line to get inside the building I think I'm supposed to enter, only to realize that it's the juror's entrance. And it's that last straw that does it for me. I am so frustrated and confused at this point that I would rather pay the darn ticket. After all, when the Officer wrote my information down, he wrote down almost everything wrong. No driver's license number, my name, address and birthdate were all incorrect...I start wondering if I'll even hear from anybody about this.

So I left. Let's keep things real: I gave up. Maybe not my finest moment, but some days it just doesn't work the way you want it to. Obstacles are placed in your path and you are continually discouraged. But regardless of how my day started, I am determined the rest of this day will work out.

I will be productive, both at work and at home. 
I will not let my bad mood affect those around me, no matter how much I want to.
I will move forward and learn from my mistakes.
I will take care of this another way. Instead of completely ignoring this and hoping it will take care of itself, I am calling the DMV to see if I have any fines or citations on my license. 

So in the end it didn't work out exactly how I imagined, but I compromised with myself, set a goal and powered through the rest of my commute to work. 

County system got you down? Day didn't turn out exactly how you planned but you feel triumphant regardless? Today I need your support.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Self explanation

What in the world am I doing? I can barely keep a diary going for more than 2 weeks, and yet I've fallen (head-first) into an indefinite writing commitment. Silly me.
This is a lifestyle blog. That's what you call it when you write about the car breaking down the same week your husband starts his (mostly driving) new job, the crispy-crunchy-not-so-fluffy marshmallow cookies you found on Pinterest and all the wacky ways you've found to decorate your one bedroom apartment with three bedrooms full of stuff. And also movies and science and self-righteous venting, though maybe less of the latter and more cute puppy pictures. 
I don't fit in a box and neither does my blog.
It's a lot about me making and baking, the way I see it and the way I won't. About Mr. E, his trials in filmmaking, how our love of movies and each other leads to our happy ending. Plus a little about Ripley who's our kid-in-training and named after Sigourney Weaver, believe it or not.
Choose your own sandwich shops give me anxiety and Hershey's chocolate is never the answer. If I'm not curled on the couch binge watching a TV series I missed during he 90s I'm trying to bake the perfect pie crust or yelling at my sewing machine. Usually at the same time.
I'm still searching for what I want to be when I grow up. My life is full of half-finisheds and almost-dones, searching for practically perfect but always lacking somewhere. I find joy in accomplishments and graduating with a microbiology degree was the most fulfilling that i'd ever done until I got married. I'm still not grown up but we're getting there slowly with books on my back, a dog in my arms and my husbands hand in mine. 
Now that you know all about my love of sun-warmed blackberries and my dreams of a yellow kitchen, I want to know what makes you tick!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eat You Up

I feel that very soon I will have a problem.

As my husband is finishing up his last. year. in. school. (gasp!) we are quickly hurtling towards dual-adultship. Moving-out-of-our-awesome-rented-house-adultship.

Big steps here, people.

And how to I deal with stress? I craft! Nevermind that we'll likely move into a smaller home. Don't think about the fact wall and shelf space will be limited. Ignore the fact that none of our gigantic furniture will fit in anything smaller than a two bedroom place.
See this queen bed.

See this huge desk.
See my beautiful couch.
See his gorgeous TV. 
Those are the only things we'll have room for in LA! (I'm exaggerating...I think.)

I'm actually less stressed about the fact that we might move in 8 months...I'm wholly behind "Home is where your husband is". Until I have kids.

Back to the project. I picked up some large frames off the street.

(The STREET, people! For FREE!)

And brought them home to have my way with them.

I was either stumbling or pinning to waste time and I came across this cute idea -I've been turning it over in my head, trying to put my own spin to it. I finally got so fed up with it that I did it...and it turned out a little less than perfect, but it's done and out of my head, off my to-do list and I can fix it if I want.

It seems she painted over the original painting, allowing the colors to come through. I did not like my original colors, but I loved the size and shape of my frames so I made do.

I painted over the original painting (a cowboy, an indecent lady and a schoolteacher from the late 1800s? His gun was disproportionate to his face so he had to go) with the color scheme I'd like in our bedroom: cool grays, teals and blues, with pops of green. While our bedroom only _kind_ of has these colors, someday I'll have the time (+ energy + money) to bring it all together.
I painted the majority of the pattern/colors I wanted in the corner I knew I was going to stick my quote, so it looked a little bare and lopsided. 
I'll eat you up, I love you so. -- Maurice Sendak
Runner-up quotes:
1. Let's be poor together-- Johnny Lloyd Rollins
2. This too shall pass.
3. Do more of what makes you happy.
4. Yours is the light by which my spirit's born: -you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.-- EE Cummings
5. Just know you're not alone, cuz I'm gonna make this place your home.-- Phillip Phillips

I stuck, held my breath and painted over it all. 
Those bubbly parts didn't stay.
I waited, held my breath and peeled off my stickers.
There was a lot of hyperventilation in this house.

Some of the paint came off with the stickers, but it's small and I can easily paint back in with my fine motor skills. I'm a little more concerned about the swirl of gray paint that I wasn't able to smooth out...Maybe next time I'll dip my paintbrush first, then go at it instead of pouring the paint onto the picture itself. Lesson learned.

A new picture means re-arranging the art in our bedroom! Won't my husband be soooo happy to re-hang all of our pictures? I can just imagine. :D

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Soup

I am feeling incredibly grown up in the last few months. Not only have I successfully added green beans to my regular diet (laughable only two years ago), I found a way to eat cauliflower, AND I made soup.

Soup and I have a long sordid history together. I can remember when my mom would make soup on a semi-regular basis- you know, back before she had a paying job and such...

Minestrone, ham and split-pea, lentil, broccoli and cheese...I distinctly remember smelling each one and dreading the dinner table that night. Sorry, mom. It wasn't until I grew older (and out of my ketchup-obsession) that I realized how good I had it. Don't get me wrong, I won't TOUCH ham and split-pea soup, but I'm not as wary of soup as I was.

Soup is one of the foods I just don't know what to do with. There's liquid (which you should swallow) and there's chunks (which you should chew) so you end up sloshing around a mouthful of fluid-like pieces, terrified that I'm going to choke from half-eaten bites of veggies.

Give me a good old tomato soup- sippable, dippable, easy to drink.

In keeping with that idea, I came across this recipe for pumpkin soup and I thought, Why not? You puree the crap out of it, so there's no chunks, right? I like pumpkin so this seems win-win.

Sadly, this recipe calls for cardamom. I have never had cardamom and I have no idea what it tastes like, so really I have no idea what I'm missing. I substituted coriander instead. It gave the soup a subtly sweet flavor (maybe that was just the cumin) but I was head over heels! 
This made enough for three servings (all for myself, fortunately: Mr. E wasn't as excited about this recipe). 
The first time I added dried cranberries (sooo yummy).
The second time I used barbequed chicken (hubby's homemade BBQ sauce) and Laughing Cow creamy Swiss spreadable cheese.
The third time I added the suggested plain Greek yogurt as well as some chopped almonds and more cranberries (what can I say, I'm a sucker for cranberries).

I would have really liked to try pumpkin seeds in my pumpkin soup, but those never last very long in our house. After Mr. E finished singing my praises about the fact that I made them, he burned his tongue, put them in a bag and I never saw them again. 

Monday, October 15, 2012


I am bleeding creativity.

In the best possible way.

As a science major at a research-centric school, creativity was often playing second fiddle. And on a quarter system I was hard pressed to churn out the results I needed every ten weeks. Can we clarify how HAPPY I am that I don't have any more schoolwork?

To make up for the last 4 years, I have hit the ground running: reading anything I can get my hands on (trashy, classics, graphic novels), painting, doodling, crocheting, cross-stitching....If I see a project, I will find the materials to make it. 

When you get married, you are incredibly blessed with all manner of necessities by friends and family. Kitchen utensils, sheets, towels, dishes, and so on...but who gives decorations? Who gives ornaments and paintings and vases? 

Decorations show what is important to you: what's important enough to showcase on your walls and your shelves. Something you want to look at everyday, be reminded of and display to others.

I certainly don't believe that decorations need to be bought, and if they do there's no need for them to be expensive. I look forward to the day when I can frame board games on the walls for our kids- well loved, creased and garishly painted. 

I decorate with magazines.
I decorate with hardbound books.

I decorate with wedding vases. And ribbon. 
I decorate with my husband's action figures (NOT toys, sweetheart).
I decorate with textbooks. And movies. And broken cameras.

Things we had lying around, left over from school, from our rooms when we lived at home or from family members. We have been incredibly blessed to have family reach out to us when they're ready to donate household items. We have no obligation to keep anything they offer, but it has been a Godsend to have extra sets of eyes looking out for things we might need.

Yes, most of our things are secondhand. There are few things in our home that don't have their own story behind them- and that's half the fun! Surrounding ourselves with the love and support of others, I feel more at home here than I ever have before.

But then come holidays and in an effort to make our sunny California home feel more seasonal (that white stuff in the air? Probably dust from the neighbor's leaf-blower) I like to decorate. I use what I have and make do when I don't. The cheaper the better.

I've been coveting frames with book pages. So I made them with leaves from down the street (my dog thought I was nuts).
At a recent family birthday my grandmother brought embroidery hoops to make fall mobiles. We then brainstormed how to make them more multi-seasonal (plastic eggs- or blown out real ones- felt hearts, paper snowflakes...).

My husband and I had no fall/Halloween I saved all the odds and ends of glassware we had in our fridge and set my little heart on a color scheme to paint. Sure, only six of the planned 15 made it out in time for the season, but my husband didn't seem to care. And our guests were floored that I had that idea in the first place. 

A few bottles of cheap paint from Michael's later (and an extra fine paintbrush) and we had these.

My favorite part about crafting is that it gives my hands something to do. I am such a multi-tasker. 
Commute to work? Read. 
Watch a TV show? Crochet. 
Baking night with friends? Make a pumpkin out of a book- what?! 
I can't sit still. I have this insatiable NEED to do, do, do. At the end of the day, I go to bed satisfied that I made the best possible use of my time. What do you do to keep yourself occupied?