The Unexamined Life..Of Your Coffee Table

I love to explore, I like to plan a whole day in a new place, it gives me a new perspective to return home with. Traveling has been an influence on everything in my home. Experiences bring my imagination to life and I love to daydream about all the possibilities.

I try to make the best of what I have to work with, in part out of care for our environment but also because every object has potential!

So in cultivating my blog over the years I’ve been exploring avenues that I enjoy. Some of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my life I’ve been completely terrified of. Example: every single place we traveled in California had to be on the side of a mountain, and I am not a fan of heights. Am I glad I did them, yes. Was it terrifying, also yes! College, scary, did that too. Living with other people I didn’t know, scary, did that. Running for a town political role, suuuper scary but also exciting! Buying a home, scary, but extremely rewarding!

So what I’ve been doing lately has been designing a business. Im terrified. I really don’t like change. I have a pretty cushy job, and a pretty easy life. What business do I have trying to mix that up? Well the goal has been to step out of my comfort zone, to give the world a chance to understand what it is I want to give back to it and to try to live my best life!

So here it goes…

Background: I grew up an only child. Which requires me to answer the question, how did you like being an only child? I’ll be honest, it was fine. I pretty much had my imagination to entertain me, instead of another human. I think it also made me look closer at myself (critically) and also the relationship I had with other people. My fatal flaw is people -pleasing. While my parents were older from start, I had to grow up relatively quickly, with a few challenges. Mom had mental health issues, Dad had some workaholic issues. Everyone has issues, but it made my story, and shaped a lot of my strengths.

Neither parent really cared about our living space outside of whether it was clean(it was very dysfunctional). So I found myself making my bed, fluffing my stuffed animals and putting my own decorative towels in the bathroom for when guests came over. Right… I know, people pleaser. They didn’t see the value of a well designed home space. They did have some taste (sort of) Dad was kind of hippy, which now in the era of mid century modern times has found its way back in vogue (go Dad). Mom was more artist, mixed with Greek iconography. So my house was a shmorgusboard if hippy, Jesus and artwork. Not the most cute assembly of furniture pairing. Lots of random paint splatters, brushes and equipment… but it was home.

What I found myself doing in my younger years was constantly reorganizing my own space. My room was like my safe place. The family didn’t always get along, and life wasn’t always roses and sunshine. I tried to stay positive, keep my own space in order and looking as good as I could have it with the resources I had. I remember the feeling of seeing the redesigned space. It was like a breath of fresh air. The odd thing was remembering where everything was placed in the new arrangement. It was necessary to use what I had to work with because asking for something deemed “unnecessary” was more aggravating than making the best of it. In a lot of ways this allowed me to utilize the things I had creatively. I credit the rents with giving me a hard time enough that I had no choice but to make my own designs.

So here I am adulting and trying to find my purpose, and recycle, and drink enough water, and meet my personal goals, you know, be responsible (eye rolling emoji). What I’ve found is that I really want to help people live in the space they feel the most at home. Some people see the value in simplicity while others want their Pinterest dreams to come true. I’ve just found a happy balance of function and artsy, with unique hand made peices. What I’ve always wanted is my space to feel comfortable to anyone who enters. After years of trial and error I think I’ve achieved my design goals.

What is so counter intuitive to so many of my friends and family is making their space work for their family while still meeting their asthetic goals. I’ve always loved Martha Stewart, and I’m a huge fan of HGTV. The difference between my inspirations is that I try to incorporate personal experiences into spaces.

So many designers make your kitchen look like a home and garden magazine but fail to reflect the people who live there. One thing I love is holding the mirror up and saying you are, where you live. Your space is part of your health. Your wellness is directly related to your environment, and for me, I find clarity in order, and reorganization.

Part of the journey I am on in life is bringing my life experiences into my living space, as a reflection of who I am, where I’ve been and what I love.

I have so many photographs of my better half, Joe and I. I have pictures of our cat. I have my mothers artwork, our grandparents wedding photographs, friends, family, trips we’ve been on etc. Our kitchen has been completely redone (by us), and is now pig themed, subtly. before

(Two different times of year so bare with the decor in these pictures)

Our chandelier is restored from basically a dumpster to full beauty (Joe deemed it to be trash).

We built our own bar, we built our headboard, our kitchen island, our entry bench, our master bedroom bench. We redesigned our bathroom fixture. We built custom shelving, we built our ottoman, we’ve upcycled more stuff than we’ve bought. I’m proud of that.

Everything in our home has a story, and it’s about who we are and what we love.

We have made a beautiful space using mostly what we had, and adding our own spin. Our molding may not have perfect lines, although he did a very nice job for a beginner! Our life might not be exactly what you see in a magazine but it has cracks that came with weathering. My favorite part about our home is our life in it. After so many life experiences it’s easy to lose track of where you’ve been. I find a memory around every corner in the lake house that we love.

So I am officially beginning the exciting (and scary as hell) adventure of starting a consulting company for interior decorating, with a focus on life experience, and functional needs. I love to be reminded of all the fun I’ve had. I love my family, and my friends and I make it a point to focus on the positivity both in my life and in my home space. I have helped so many people see positivity and opportunities in their space so they can grow into it or shift into a better arrangement.

As for the coffee table, we turned it into an ottoman.

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Adventures in Joshua Tree (Californi-yah part III)

One of the greatest adventures in life is doing things you never pictured yourself doing. When you put yourself outside of what you consider your “comfort zone”, you grow. You also get perspective…

For those who don’t know me well, I am not a full blown snob, but I have pretty high standards for “things”. For example, I like to be at a comfortable temperature, I like fine dining, food for me is not a means for survival but for enjoyment, I appreciate flowers and nature but prefer sleeping indoors. Maybe it’s Goldie Locks syndrome but I believe things should be justttt rightttt … and this experience was a prime example of why you can’t define your fun by an all inclusive Caribbean package of porridge.

Picking up from our dinosaurs we knew that we had to get to our destination before sunset. There were two reasons for this, first because the gps didn’t pick up the actual location of our next Air BnB in the Joshua Tree National Park, and second so we could see a kick ass desert sunset.

We made it just in time to locate our desolate hipster wagon!

It was breathtaking.

Not only was the location prime, but the actual airstream was surprisingly spacious.

I used to romanticize camping as a kid, since my parents never went camping, my friends liked to camp and I had absolutely no idea what camping was. I asked for a tent one year for my birthday and that tent became my permanent fort in the yard. I had tea parties with all my favorite stuffed animals, but never entertained the idea of sleeping inside of it… and as an adult, I still don’t really have any interest in sleeping in a tent. Joseph, my better half, lives to camp in the woods, he goes 4-5 times a year. So, this was my version of camping,

Glamping!!

Before we got there we picked up the essentials at Whole Foods… you know…

Filet mignons, macrons, burrata cheese, craft beer and rosé…. and yes avocados…

It was valentines weekend, don’t judge.

A couple of beers and a thousand glamour shots of the airstream later… the wind picked up…

We bundled up and got settled in. If you are still paying attention, you might be wondering how we came to find this place or why we came at all… It just so happens, we planned this (I hate to use this word but) epic journey through the southern part of California, from LA to San Diego to Palm Springs, this was our next stop on the self-guided tour.

The Goals of Jtree

Each destination had with it a set of hopes, dreams and long winded Wikipedia explanations. I had planned 14 pages (respectively) of careful opportunities to see the most cool shit we could see.

Here are the major take aways…

1. Stargazing- in winter, in the desert, with my love in an airstream.

2. The airstream. (Coolest place I’ve ever slept)

3. National Park touring, Internet research told me it was pretty drivable and we got to see the major highlights without killing the entire day.

We arrived in the evening, set up our camp site. Put some layers on and enjoyed a cozy but pretty brisk dinner ala desert.

It was a pretty fabulous dinner I won’t lie. In fact I think drinking rose out of a tiny mason jar might have made me feel closer to god. Or maybe that was the California vibes… either way it was a rad dinner filled with luxury. Glamping is definitely the only way to go!

We proceeded to lay on the deck with winter jackets on, socks, boots, a comforter, and pillows to look for shooting stars.

We successfully experienced our stargazing glory!

I passed out from a combination of wine, red meat, sugar and overall exhaustion. It really was a rad experience, I highly recommend it!

When I woke up, this was my view, mountains of beautiful Joshua Tree granite and a deserty paradise.

Joshua Tree Mornings

Someone once said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That person must have started with Joshua Tree Coffee.

We ate, collected ourselves and got the final thousand pictures of the airstream, it really was the happiest place on earth.

The most luxurious breakfast in the desert. Made by me, Martha Stewart’s wannabe -child. Avocado toast, fried egg (microwaved because my resources were limited), leftover filet sliced up and topped with tapitito hot sauce.

Best. Breakfast. Ever.

The coffee though, was amazing!!! If anyone is interested, here’s the link to this coffee if the gods Joshua Tree Coffee Co. It was strong, smooth and literally my favorite no nonsense coffee since the amazing bulletproof coffee in LA.

Okay… enough airstream pictures, but do you understand the cool factor? I hope.

National Park virgin no longer!

Joshua Tree being my first, ever experience, in a National Park, was pretty perfect. Mainly because, Joshua Tree is the youngest National Park in the country, established in the 90s just like my cool kid attitude.

We named this first stop: gorilla rock.

This desert playground was not like what I had pictured in my head… no the cacti were stubby and there were Trees!

Joshua Trees are pretty much gods way of saying, ” you might be tripping on peyote”. The feeling here is serreal though, like something out of imagination…

The Joshua Trees came in all shapes and sizes, so many in fact that it was hard to decide which one was our favorite.

They look like pine trees married with palm trees, but yes they are spikey.

I couldn’t help feeling light here, like all the troubles of the world weren’t real, just adventures in the gumdrop forest of Joshua Trees.

Admittedly we didn’t spent as much time as one could while visiting but we had more adventures ahead…

The must see spots:

1. Keys View

2. Skull Rock

3. Cool Joshua Trees

The good news, again, was that the J Tree spots we picked were extremely drivable. The reason we limited our adventures here, is because we had a 5 hour drive to Death Valley thereafter. I could lie and say we started bright and early but we only arrived in the park at about 11:00am. We aren’t morning people.

The sky is so big, and the world is so beautiful. If I were reading this I would be planning my next vacation ASAP!

Site number one: Keys View

This location overlooks all of Coachella valley and I have once again tested my dramatic fear of heights.

This wasn’t a long hike, it was drivable and a short walk to the overlook point. I loved the pictures I saw of these incredible landscapes on Pinterest and on Instagram and all the places I searched prior to arrival. I was so excited to see this point… it was amazing.

Terrifying.

But amazing!!

The smile is hiding my complete concern for falling down into that valley… irrational but possible!

So there are a few more photos from this beautiful experience and then I’ll move on…

The daredevil himself… sitting on the edge of this crazy mountain.

We walked around embracing this larger than life experience, me a little more carefully, than my counterpart. In keeping with my usual attitude in life, risk adverse.

Site number 2: skull rock.

It looks like a skull and…. that’s about it, nothing more to see here!

There are tons of other places to see and go.

We didn’t have a lot of time and honestly had we had more time, there would be way more pictures, and adventures to be had here.

The landscape was just amazing. You ant imagine how peaceful the desert is until you’ve experienced it.

The desert of Joshua Tree is magnetic. Something about the energy is calming for your soul. I absolutely recommend experiencing this incredible place.

See the cactus garden for me!

Next up: Death Valley… and we started on the road to the largest national park in the US.

So long for now Joshua Tree, we will be back!

Hello scary but amazing Death Valley !!!!

A few hundred miles into the wild west we began. It was mid day, with our sites set on adventure….and our eyes on the road ahead.

Palm Springs- Cali forni yahhh!

When you drive into the dessert-y-seemingly uninteresting route for about an hour in the dark, only to come across perfectly placed palm trees, underlit, you enter into the parallel time of 1970s glamorous Palm Springs!!

This place like many others in Cali have this odd nostalgic romantic aura all around. It wasn’t a mirage, it was like Las Vegas, in that it offered a destination in a place that was so unexpected without the strung out Vegas vibe. Surrounded by mountains, this dessert city had so many facets of Americana proper.

Granted we only had a full day of exploration, but we truly loved the time we had.

The must do list:

1. Relax.

It was vacation and yes even the most exciting adventurers were in search of a good soak. It’s actually science.

We soaked in the hot spring fed pools at the Miracle Springs Hotel and Spa. In all honesty it was not the Ritz; the room was dated and there was a plastic spoon behind the night stand that had become part of the rug, but the pools made up for it.

Our room overlooked the courtyard with 8 different pools, with a fake background, I mean mountains in the back (seriously the mountains did look fake!) All of these glorious pools were different temperatures and were heated naturally by underground hot springs. After the previous 2 days of 45,913 steps and plenty of car time, our bodies were in heaven in this little oasis!

I wouldn’t recommend the hotel for a lavish experience, but if you need a good soak after a long journey then it’s 100% the place to stay.

It was cold at night and extremely windy, but once you get in the pools, it’s like warm hug!

Obviously I need a hot tub or at the very least a proper soaking tub… next house goals!

2. Tacos in full color!

….Because obviously my goal was usually tacos. So the next day we planned the day around soaking, lunch, and leisurely shopping. Also, dinosaurs but I’m getting ahead of myself.

After waking up and soaking for a few hours, we checked out and headed to lunch at (in my opinion) the ideal Palm Springs ambiance! It was like where you expect the lucky charms leprechaun to hang out, the skittles commercials to be filmed, the artists to be in their element… etc. It sure was colorful!

Bonus that they had these awesome Barbie (my favorite) modern art displays in their lobby.

What I loved the most about this was the mid-century modern design that was so authentic to the town. It had a certain joie de vivre unlike anywhere else; freedom, excitement and culture! It felt like a place made for tv. I suppose that is why movie stars loved Palm Springs. It’s a strange but comfortable get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

But the tacos….

were fresh!

And so the glorious experience came to an end…but actually just lunch.

3. Vintage shopping

Every Pinterest girl knows, that the best vintage clothes are in California and the capital of vintage shopping is clearly Palm Springs, or at least Pinterest told me (so it must be true)!

I’m going to be honest I was semi-obsessed with this particular location and was thus on a mission to find it. It wasn’t easy, in fact my poor sense of direction and little knowledge of anything in the area didn’t help, but we finally located it, after a little bit of round about walking. I will say I was surprised that there were not rows of glorious vintage charm shops lining the streets but I suppose we all have expectations. This store did not disappoint!!! If you are looking for the most fabulous classic Haute couture peices, at pretty reasonable prices, then The Fine Art Of Design is a must!!!

Did I mention I’m now officially obsessed (moreso than before) with hat boxes. I need to calm down. This place was quintessential vision. I loved it! I didn’t find the “can’t live without item” I was hoping for but in all honesty it was the experience of it that I can wrap myself up in. The pieces were cultivated and chosen with such care as if chosen for a personal closet rather than for resale.

I think I felt so comfortable here because across the street from a French cafe was a Greek cafe and marketplace, and so my Greek and French heritage was finally on the same page, or at least the same street. Everything made sense and all was in alignment…

I could go on and on, but ultimately it was a colorful day full of zest and high fashion vintage and tacos, what else is there?

4. Du du du dinosaurs!

Yes Pee Wee had a big adventure, and so did we!

We really didn’t stay long, because we knew we had to arrive at Joshua Tree for our next destination before dark, as instructed by our Air BnB host. Spoiler: we stayed in an airstream in the desert and it was awesome!

However like the great dinosaurs of Peewee’s Big Adventure we had to go out with a bang, or was it the ice age? It was definetly getting cold…. ( I didn’t see the movie) either way we found our way out of the dinosaurs and into the desert… and onto the next adventure.

So long Palm Springs you sexy dessert flower! Not only was it a cool laid back groovy experience but the dessert of Palm Springs also made clean energy, for all my green friends! These turbines were rad!

Thanks for reading! Hope you liked it! We sure did!

Leave a comment! Send feedback! Definetly check out Palm Springs if you ever get the chance, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen, felt or done!

Next up… Joshua Tree!

Cali-forni- yahhh part II (Adventures in San Diego)

San Diego

Goals: Art, Tacos & Sea Lions

Picking up from Laguna, we drove right into San Diego. At night it wasn’t much to see, a city with lights, but no wow factors.

It wasn’t “late” but the time was 10:30-11pm which to our east-coast-bodies thought was more like 1-2am. We arrived at our next Air BnB, a bit confused since we were in an area that seemed to be an industrial park…

(Side note: we also had a really hard time finding our first Air BnB in Venice but it was only because we were tired and it was sort of a sneaky gate entrance.)

So we knew this BNB has specific directions from the confirmation email. You had to go into a gated parking garage (with a code) walk to a specific wall, to a lock box (another code), get the key, exit the parking garage, drive down another street to enter the parking garage then find the specific condo # parking spot. At that point we were cranky.

We eventually figured it out… and proceeded to our least exciting Air BnB condo. It was just vanilla. Nothing grand or special; it was clean thoug

We then proceed to pass out (dead) from our long exciting, fun filled day, with the next day’s plan ready to be implemented.

Lesson 1 of San Diego-Leave a trail of bread crumbs when you leave the condo…

First one up gets the coffee, so that was me. I spotted a Starbucks on our way in the night before. I took the key and carefully snuck out because being the good girlfriend that I am I decided I’d surprise Joe wth breakfast and coffee… I proceeded to Starbucks were the gentleman named my cup “Rabbit” because Robyn didn’t register for some reason (haha). If this wasn’t a sign that I’d gone down the rabbit hole I don’t know what was.

So I left, walked around a different path, thinking I was checking out the area. Wrong! So I went back in, swiping the key fob, only to get to the elevator and….no dice. The key fob didn’t work. We were on the 4th floor. So naturally I took the stairs, coffee and breakfast in tow. Once I arrived at the top, I was yet again locked out. Joe was definetly still sleeping, so I couldn’t very well wake him.A gentleman came out to the stairs probably on the same mission I was (caffeine), and had no access to the top floor because he didn’t live there (weird). So smart girl that I am, I returned back to the scene of the crime (the garage from the night before). Upon arriving I get into the nearest elevator (because why would it matt which elevator you take up) key fob still isn’t working. The custodian nicely swiped me in. Finally!

I was en route to eat my yogurt parfait in peace.. I get to the door, insert the key…. yes this was the right room number 407. Insert the key. Nope, said key did not work.

This is the same building I walked into with Joe and used this same key less than 12 hours ago! Now it’s time to wake the bear. What exactly was going on!? I was half-way through my large cold brew and so I know I was fully functional. Did someone send me to the twilight zone!??

I call joe. “I’m at the door can you open it…”

Joe- “ummmm no you aren’t”.

“I was in the parking garage, I took the elevator, I walked down the hallway, I’m at 407, the number is on the door”.

Joe- “uhhh you definetly are not.”

“Ok let’s try this again”….

Down the elevator.

Into the garage.

Around the corner.

Into the courtyard, in through the door I went out originally this morning. The pool was on my left…

Up the elevator. Nope it’s not working again… to the stairs.

Someone is coming out, I go in. Calling Joe-

“okay I’m here, 407, open the door”Joe, “Nope you aren’t, do you want me to come get you”….

“No! I will figure this out…”I finally found our actual room after the 4th or 5th attempt. In doing so I learned the buildings were identical; same numbers and amount of floors, but you each one was actually separate from the rest. That was the reason my key card would only work on one elevator. Extremely stupid.

So we proceed to exit the Air BnB with a scathing review of the insanity we faced both during the light of Day and at night, the rubik’s cube hotel was now behind us. First stop on our Journey through San Diego was La Jolla.

La Jolla

Not to be confused with La-Jol-a. Pronounced La-hoy-ya. (Thanks mom!)

So we arrived early (about 9:30am), we started our walk from children’s pool which was originally created for kids to swim in a protected space, then later became the hot hang out for the Seals.

As you can see the seals were quite happy. There were even babies!!!

We walked from here all the way down to Jim’s Sea Cave!

We walked down the steps to a cool little ocean cave.

From there we continued exploring all the way to Jim’s.

Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave was on the itinerary because it was originally created during the prohibition era. Yes the boardwalk empire on the east coast had some rivals!

145 Steps of man made cave was no small feet back in the day!

So that was pretty cool, a little history a little exercise and a lot of steps!

We definetly worked up an appetite and were ready to tear up some Tacos!

So we opted to walk around a bit and see the shops around La Jolla en route to The Taco Stand.

We have now officially checked off Seals and Art (a little art) from the list….

About the tacos..

Were they the best tacos ever? Maybe! The place was cool, cafeteria style but man were those some good tacos! Also the guacamole was top notch!

We were now off to Balboa Park, but not before stocking up on snacks, water, and miscellaneous items we needed for Joshua Tree- Yosemite. So we stopped to pick that list of stuff up and were on our way!

We had wanted to see a bit more of the gas lamp district and in fact had initially booked our AirBnB right in the center of it, but sadly they cancelled on us last minute…

Balboa Park

As we entered there was a building size pipe organ and a small concert being performed.

The architecture was clearly Spanish and Greco Roman romanticism; I mean look at the detail! So beautiful!

Joe wanted to check out the fine arts museum and I saw Frida hanging on the wall… for those of you you don’t know who Frida is…. she’s a hero. She paved the way for a specific form of art that was self expressive, political and just down right baller. Check out the Frida Kahlo exhibit if it ever comes through your city.

So I went to see Frida.

Second lesson of San Diego– just ask.

We enter the building, pay for our tickets, go through the exhibit listed Frida…

Not. One. Portrait.

So I asked, and as it turns out the tuesday prior they sent the exhibit back to Paris.

Sad, but there was other art so we moved on. The building was incredible and we officially checked art off the “San Diego goal bucket list”.

Next stop Botanical Garden!!

I was on a mission though, Pinterest made me obsessed with these colorful steps. I swear Pinterest is always to blame.

My mission was find the colorful steps in the Spanish Village, which was pretty complicated to find based on the map…but we made it!!

This was kind of a marketplace of goods and art and it was everything I hoped for!!

It basically had hand painted steps. The candy land of America. It was amazing! Simple but effective design.

So we had seen art, the botanicals and the Spanish steps, but that wasn’t all… then we hoped to check out some local breweries since the city is known for their craft brew game. We also had 2 more beaches and at least one coffee shop to check out before heading to our next destination.

We decided coffee first, then we needed to get to the Torrey Pines / Black’s beach at sunset to get the full effect and we were running short on both energy and time.

Landing at the amazing Cafe Bassam we enjoyed European style coffee and flair.

We opted for coffee instead of beer, and we were off, back toward the Coast to finish the day with some amazing views.

We arrived at Torrey pines which on a clear day overlooks Orange County, and all the way down to Tijuana.

This is where some people (not me) paraglide off the high cliffs all the way down to La Jolla proper. It’s pretty spectacular except for those of us who are afraid of heights.

Here you can see a small group of specs near the water, and yes those are people.

We were at least a thousand feet up. Or a million in my scared mind.

On that terrifying cliff there were some pretty spectacular views, although not the most amazing sunset. Still, we closed the day with this grand San Diego cliff and just like that, we had made the most of a beautiful day in San Diego.

6:00 pm we left for our next adventure to the retro- fabulous dessert sanctuary of Palm Springs. There are 9 days total of this glorious Californiadventure and 7 to go…

19,708 Steps

30 flights of stairs

Seals. Tacos and Art.

✌🏻until next time San Diego.

We learned lessons and we had fun, but we didn’t get to check out a brewery or see the Gas Lamp district, so we’ll have to go back someday! The rest of the journey is coming soon! Like, share, comment and follow for more adventures, inspirations and sentiments. Let me know what you think! I love to hear from you!

Next… up Palm Springs!

Ciao!

Cali-forn-yahhhh! Part I

So we recently went on a 9 day journey throughout the southern region of California. To give you an idea of how long this 9 days took to plan, let’s just say we booked the flights in November just before Thanksgiving, then the Air BNB’s after that and didn’t finally finish booking the lodging until the end of December… Mostly we were looking for good deals, but we were also trying to gauge our ability to actually do as much as I had planned for us to do…

We ended up with 7 (ok 10) destinations, 12 pages of itinerary, and a lot of amazing sites to see ahead of us.

I’ll admit, I’ve been reluctant to dive into the experience because (selfishly) I was so overwhelmed with joy while we were there, that I was afraid by sharing it I would lose a piece… but maybe instead this will inspire some new grand tour! I hope so!

So the plan was… to take a rod trip… a fun, carefully planned adventure which I assure you was an eye opener (brilliant and terrifying).

In the process of deciding where we wanted to go we considered Hawaii (flight took too long), Bali (we have a friend there who could tour guide us on a budget, but again the flight problem), Iceland (too cold in February), and finally… it dawned on me… I’ve (I mean we) always wanted to go to California!!

In fact, (my geeky side is showing) on my “5 year plan” (that is actually more of a loose set of hopes for the next 5 years) California is on there! It seems like a logical destination as well, since we wouldn’t need to worry about international barriers.

The good news is I checked off this glorious item from my bucket list. The bad news is, now I want to go back and see everything else!

Considering the length (depth) of the trip I chose to break it down into several blogs. Ready!

Day one….

Los Angeles

Oh yes the city of Angels: traffic, surfing, legal marijuana (which was clear by the clouds), and of course Hollywood. How can you possibly not be excited to brush past some super famous star on your way to get a gluten-free-soy-organic-bone-broth-frappe?

All jokes aside, I hardly pay attention to movie stars, I don’t watch reality shows, and unless it’s Mila Kunis, Ryan Reynolds or like 3 other people I could recognize, I wouldn’t be that excited. So Hollywood, we avoided. Venice beach however, was a totally different vibe.

The beach, was gigantic! It’s like a football field of sand. I guess the East Coast beaches have less girth… it was awesome!

The urban art game was amazing (on fleek)!

Only downside:

I was shocked at the homeless population; but despite their circumstances everyone seemed content, which was another surprise. I didn’t see many people that looked unhappy. It’s hard to pin down but going to a city like New York, people aren’t that outwardly easy to read. It seemed that there was a lot more transparency on the west coast.

So we walked Ocean Ave from our Air BNB to the downtown area of Venice, up the boardwalk and down to Bulletproof which was where my coffee game changed forever.

Clearly I had to bring this recipe to my kitchen because it was literally the best tasting, most energizing coffee I’ve had but without the crash! I should be getting paid for this endorsement, but it’s just true!

There we had brunch and it was still only 9:30 am, thanks to East Coast time for making me a West Coast morning person!

This was a yucca (gluten free potato-like thing) toast with avocado, smoked salmon and some other glorious magic! It was a whole new level of avocado toast.

So we fueled up and headed down route 1, starting out on our epic 9 day journey all around the southern part of California.

But first!

Santa Monica Pier

We would have ridden bikes down to it but it was a bit further than we wanted so we drove about 15 minutes north to check it out!

As we were walking in, a Buddhist monk offered Joe a bracelet saying something that sounded like “Pizza” and we realized he was saying “peace”. He was asking for a donation to help build a temple, so naturally joe offered him $5. But he pointed in his wallet to the $20 and said “noooo peeeaaassa”.

So we gave him a $10 and got two bracelets , wrote our names in his little book and now we can add “getting shaken down by a Buddhist monk for temple money” to our list of random life experiences we never expected!

The place was cute for kids! I think if I were a teenager I’d want my boyfriend to take me here for a date!

There were many people playing instruments and singing and even some jazz flute which made my day!

It was a cool place, but off we went to our next destination(s).

Rodondo Beach

On the list of beaches I wanted to see this one was pretty high, mainly because it’s somewhere in the middle of busy LA life and laid back OC life…

It was a bit overcast but no problem for us since we didn’t plan to actually lay on the beach…

This was the Narragansett of the LA beaches in my opinion. Quaint but upscale and definetly beautiful!

So peaceful and again the beaches were huge in depth!

We then drove down Route 1 through some rough neighborhoods, and some oil rigs, (the Bridgeport of route 1), industrial and not too pretty.

Then we got to the pretty parts:

As we drove down this historic highway 1, I couldn’t help but think how cool it must have been in the 1960s driving a muscle car or a convertible down this route.

It really is the most beautiful after we got out of the city, and refinery area.

I couldn’t believe it was only 2:00pm… we had jammed so much in such a small amount of time but we didn’t feel rushed or tired it was just incredible!

I had an itinerary for each place we went, the LA one was pretty short, since we really only wanted to sleep, see some beaches, eat some tacos and set out our way… but the way down to San Diego had a lot of stops.

Beaches mostly, but the last stop was in Orange County at Laguna beach. Again, not for the reality stars, just for the beaches. I must say, I definitely understand what the hype is about. It’s amazingly beautiful!

We walked the majority of the walk on this walkway which I’m sure was donated by someone or in memory of someone but I didn’t catch the plaque.

So, there were a few different beaches here, the first was Goff’s Island beach.

The next was Treasure Island, where there were sea caves that glow purple and possibly hidden treasure.

As we continued down this path, my ultimate goal beach was Victoria beach and 1000 Steps beach, which were on opposite ends of each other.

Victoria beach was my main interest. The castle-like structure has a conflicting history. Some say it was for pirates, others say it was a light house. What is known for sure, is that the most recent owner was Bette Mitler. It is definetly a staircase, and it is definitely beautiful!

Some history is unknown by me but maybe someone can fill in the blanks. I know at high tide these (foundation looking) pools fill up with water and become warm tide pools!

What is inside? A rusty old spiral staircase. Spoiler!

What a beautiful place though! It really has this enchanting element, doesn’t it?

We got here just in time to realize we only paid for 2 hours of parking and we definetly were going to miss that window… so we scrambled back to the car.

At this point it was about 4:30 almost 5:00 and the sun was going down fast… 1000 Steps beach will be for my next Southern California tour.

We met up with some friends at a rooftop bar in town, called Sky Loft. It was a little swanky but mostly laid back, and the view was amazing!

We had some cocktails and dinner then headed for our final destination…

20,572 steps later….and a couple hundred drivable miles.

San Diego.

Stay tuned to hear about the next step in this 9 day adventure. Fun, fancy free, creative and on a budget!

If you like my blog please leave feedback or share with a friend. Or follow on Instagram! Thanks for reading!

For more information on the details of this trip shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll be happy to give you more info!

How to Break Your Stress Cycle… (and other adulting hazards).

When did you decide this was it? Did you wake up today and decide this is exactly what you meant to do? Well from 7:00am-5:30pm, Monday through Friday I do not. Then, after my day is over, I return to what I meant to do with my time. I know what you’re thinking: You’re Batman?! Sadly, no. I’ve managed to micromanage myself into a clear cycle… one which must be broken!

Here we go!

I go home, and proceed with the rituals established when I started a 9-5… (exercise, make dinner…you see where this is going). If you have kids you already know the struggle. Butthis is not a parental story, this is self imposed insanity! Arguably worse because there is no small child to blame for why I am so burnt out. (Sound familiar, friends?) I digress.

On the weekends I have the luxury of relaxing right?

Absolutely not.

I’m cleaning. I’m prepping. Yes, I’m having a little (carefully scheduled) fun. But all the while thinking: “I need to do something productive so I’m not ‘stressed out’ this week.”

Yes some might say this is anxiety in full form; stressing about feeling stressed. I happen to think it’s a condition that being in the modern workforce instills in us. It’s the fear…

What is the fear?

You’re afraid to be late.

You’re afraid you’ll get fired.

You’re afraid you aren’t meeting the goals.

You are afraid that you might derail your diet or whatever limits you’ve placed on yourself.

You’re afraid of drama in the office, or just nervously watching your back because fake-friend-Terry (not a real person) is going to snap at any moment.

Afraid of your boss.

Afraid of offending someone.

Afraid of growing old.

Afraid of being a disappointment or failing your team.

Just plain old strung out and scared for Monday…. All throughout your weekend… as you fly from errand to errand, carefully making sure to stay within your budget, while you grocery shop with the rest of the working class crowd.

Then FOMO (“fear of missing out”: for the real adults) kicks in, and you realize you spent so much time being afraid you only really have 1 day or maybe mearly hours of your weekend left. Those precious hours of recharging or just being “yourself” are quickly evaporating. Now that you’re really triggered, you’re scrambling to make the most of what is now the end of your Sunday. You realize that you still have to return to your daily “grind”…and the fun sizzles right out…

So why are we hard wired with the fear?

In a book I recently read called Tribes it addresses the fear as a manifestation of a “sheepwalking life”. Basically, if you deviate from your self imposed or office imposed “norms” then you get the fear. The fear is not defined in the book but I thought it was valuable to mention.Throughout this book I find it outlandish and yet romanticized to consider changing up the “status quo”, and forge a not-so-cookie-cutter path. However I don’t know when I’ll have time… (But if you are ready to change or or perhaps already have, the book is compelling and worth a look! Back to my point…)

Insert sadness…

Then sadness and reality is the next stage: It’s Sunday. That Friday-feeling has completely turned into your meal prepping Sunday blues…

How do you make a mark on the world with 2 days off (if your job is insignificant) and when 79% of the total 2 days is spent stressing out about the week ahead?

Regret, here it comes people…

It is during this point that you decide to sulk. You have to return to real life and yet you feel that you hardly got started. Suddenly the high school math homework nightmares seem like they really could have been the answer. You should have gone to school for something “better”… and the Monday-dread wouldn’t be this bad. Bargaining with yourself is also a stage of grief… (just saying).

So the cycle continues…

How do you break the cycle of adulting stress? I have a couple of simple solutions to get your needs met and live a little!

1. Make a list of happy wants and needs.

Yes I want to clean out my closet. I do not need to do that to function on Monday. Make your list work for you!

Use categories:

  • Things you want to see this weekend: A movie? An art exhibit? A new park in town? Yes the world exists outside of Facebook, you need to get there!
  • Things you want to do for peace of mind: (see above cleaning of the closet.) There is a lot to be said for good living space vibes and fung shui.
  • Goals are always good. They make us feel like we must pay attention to them. If you need to set goals to see a movie, do it!

2. Make time for yourself ALONE, no social media allowed.

  • The latest Facebook rant can wait for 45 minutes. You need time for you.
  • Find a quiet space and just hang out with your fur baby, or read, or be still. Meditation is an idea but something tells me you aren’t there yet.
  • Gather your thoughts. Focus your attention on what your body is telling you. Maybe you need a pedicure, and it’s clear…
  • Give yourself the break you need, don’t harp on the things that aren’t getting done. You don’t NEED to do everything.

3. Try something new.

  • I promise: It’s hard but it’s rewarding. Try a new route to the grocery store. Try a new recipe. Try to step outside your comfort zone and feel uncomfortable. I assure you it’s a step in the right direction. You need this!
  • Change the routine in a way that allows you to get your needs met and gives you new perspective. Maybe you just needed to do your grocery shopping online for once, from the luxury of your couch. So what if it costs $10 for delivery! You deserve a break!

4. Do something you care about, if you don’t know what that is… take the first step.

  • Maybe you always wanted to learn a language. Try it!
  • Maybe you like to paint or draw or some art inspired thing. Do it!
  • Maybe you really want to give back to your local community.
  • Maybe you just want to spend time looking for ideas for a new project.

Burnout is born when we give up our time for things we don’t care about.

We must actively pay attention to what our thoughts and our body and our lives are telling us. I know personally, I’ve been known to overdo it. I have to check myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed and bring it back to home base.

Perspective is how you look at things, but self reflection is how you choose your path. You can conquer the things you think are looming and have a life! You can look at it as a positive or a negative but you still have to show up on Monday…

Remember! You decide how to spend the time you have. Once you find yourself in the cycle, I hope you dance (I mean stop it from spiraling)! If you need an intervention phone a friend, make a plan, but don’t sit idle and suffer through a weekend of the same stressors. You need to recharge and you don’t need to be everything to everyone!

Now get out there and be free to own your freedom!

Trading Flowers for Adventure

Seeing how it’s Valentine’s Day and the social networks will be flooded with a million women’s flowers from significant others or chocolates or date nights… etc, I would like to admit, I too am guilty. I’m guilty of posting the obligatory picture of flowers, cards etc. adding to the multitudes of flower pics hashtags and all.

This year for Valentine’s Day I’m not getting flowers, and it’s not because he doesn’t love me, but it’s because I took the wheel and decided that this year was going to be different!

This year instead of flowers, wine and unnecessary (but still cute gifts) I planned a 10 day adventure in Southern California…

February in Connecticut was just cold enough to give you cabin fever and we did get a few good warm beach-y days here, but it’s better than a beach! Now, obviously not everyone wants to see the world, and not everyone wants to spend Valentine’s Day in the hottest, lowest altitude point of the world…(bad jokes are coming) I definetly don’t feel like the lowest person in the world.. haha… (get it?)

Anyway it’s beautiful and exciting and dangerous! It’s a lot better than a box of chocolates and flowers. It’s memories.

I believe that gifts are nice, but when you give someone adventure, they remember those moments for a lifetime. I will not remember the flowers (although they are always beautiful), I won’t remember th chocolates (sad) or the wine (double sad), but I will always remember my Valentine’s Day in Death Valley.

Not only is this place a natural phenomenon but movies like Star Wars were shot here. Some of the great western classics were shot here. The most incredible story was of a woman, who happened to have a flat tire, here in the Death Valley junction. She found an old opera house (which is next to a haunted but cool looking town) and decided to stay and buy the place. She was a successful ballerina in New York City and in the 40s (or around there since the details were loose), she came into the bar at the restsraunt we ate at last night. She would come in regularly and an artist decided to honor her with this painting.

As it happened she then became world renowned for her opera house in the desert which would draw people and critics from all around the world. And to think… a person with a flat tire would do all that…

So let’s just hold off on the flowers and start believing in our hearts that we don’t NEED flowers and instead we need to be ourselves, let free into the world to see and do everything we want! I still want flowers to decorate my home, I still like chocolate and I still will probably hashtag something Valentine’s Day-y but, the point is, don’t settle for anything less than adventure!

He/ she needs to give you wings to fly and I’m sure the flowers will serve as a reminder that you can totally start your own world renowned opera house in the desert. Support the ones you love and be true to yourself. This year I’m doing all the things with the people I love, and maybe we’ll see some dessert flowers on our journey.

Travel, Even if it’s nearby.


Something about being in a new place fills your soul and your core with this uneasy, excited, butterfly, poop feeling. It’s like you are going up a roller coaster and you know it’s going to be exciting and thrilling. Being in a place you have known and you are revisiting somehow gives us that same sentiment. It’s like Boston for me. I spent many many days and nights in Boston. When I return something inside me awakens. It’s as if my skin is on fire and my heart is awake. It’s a great feeling.

When you travel, even close by, you look carefully at things.  You see things differently, with rose colored glasses. The effects of stopping and smelling the roses my friends, is overall life satisfaction.

You start to see those familiar signs on the highway, and pay your final toll, then you see Fenway and suddenly it all comes back.” I remember why I love this place”.  When you finally arrive it’s like a rush of adrenaline and you can’t wait to explore the places you have been and try new ones as well.

I suppose traveling and love have the same general feeling. It’s exciting and new and always makes you feel kind of queasy, in a good way. There is something  about planning a trip that just fills you with new opportunity. The chance to explore is probably a fundamental human need. It’s on the same scale as creating something or leaving your mark on the world.

I have often wondered how people I know can simply drop their real life in exchange for a backpack and go to Europe with no plan. That idea sounds insane, that is not the kind of trip I could take. It’s too passé.

I would love to be able to travel, as most people would, but on my own terms and with certainty that when I return I have a schedule to get back to. It’s important to have balance in life and getting a backpack and going, indefinetly, is not my idea of a good time. I admit I’m too high maintenance for whimsical ideas like that. I need to know my hotel is clean/ has good reviews and I have a general itinerary so I don’t go totally crazy trying to organize myself.

Being free isn’t what I’m good at. I suppose those people have some kind of ingrained spirit that allows them to let go of reality and live in the moment. This is great, but when you go back home how can you settle down? Once you fly how can you go back to walking? I don’t think you can. It’s like caging a wild bird. They might stay in their cage but they will always try to escape. I’ve met many untamed people like this and they are often the most interesting and sad. They are restless and nothing makes them happy, unfortunately for their partners they have to constantly restrain them. It’s always a fight for freedom in their minds. I have known many free-birds and while I am envious of their “wing-it” attitude I am certain they will never find home, or be happy in one place for long.

It’s strange to feel at home in so many places. I feel at home in my condo, at my father’s house where I grew up, in Rhode Island in many places, parts of Boston, and in certain people’s homes. I don’t feel like traveling without knowing at some point I will sleep in my own bed. Travel is like a roller coaster, you go up while you get to where ever you are going you get to the top and you feel enlightened by the new-ness of it all and as you descend it’s exhilarating to have had all these experience and finally you get home with your feet on the ground. It’s a safe and comfortable feeling but you always want to do it again. It was awesome. You carry the experience with you at home and with those you encounter. You wait impatiently, until your next roller coaster ride. All the while knowing you still have home. Home is always my favorite place, no matter where I am going or where I have been.

Maybe I like feeling grounded, maybe it’s because I’ve made “home” a place of refuge surrounded by comfort. Or maybe traveling is better done in doses so you appreciate every moment. Being home we plan for the places we will go, being away makes us value our lives. It makes us humble and it keeps us human. The feeling of returning home is just as exciting as arriving in a new place or even a familiar place. That feeling is what we love about life. It’s taking that deep breath of fresh ocean air or smelling th burning fireplace in the living room. It’s a feeling like love.

Travel often in life, and remember where you came from, for both are worth the ride.