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Category Archives: Daily Life




Most of the family together in one photo (missing everyone on the east coast, Uncle Carl and Andy)! Celebrating my Mom’s 52nd birthday.


One of my favorite photos from our frequent trips to the zoo.

Look who finally likes taking a bath in the tub! No more bath time in the kitchen sink.

Look who finally likes the tub! No more bath time in the kitchen sink.



Hiking Cuyamaca with our friends. Just a few crazy moms trying to push strollers uphill in the snow. We ditched the strollers and carried them for a while, before deciding on a picnic on the side of the path. Want to try this again…in the spring.


My very serious Valentine did a charity photo shoot.


Riding on the duffy in Newport Beach with Mike and Leilani.


Photographer in the making. Me learning Instagram and the magic of filters.



Decorating kites with friends for the festival in OB.


Playdate with one of her besties, Cyler.


Pure, heart bursting, life affirming, love.


The easiest lemon blueberry cream pie ever. Seriously, one of my favorite recipes from the whole year.


Discovering lip gloss.

Finishing my first 5k.

Finishing my first 5k.



Easter egg hunt with cousin Faith at Gramma’s house in Newport.


First pigtails!


Aunt Cathy passed down a family recipe book.


My kid loves asparagus?! Awesome!


Decorating the cake she helped make for her Dad’s birthday.



Leia autographed my copy of 50 Shades of Grey. I hope she finds this funny someday, I sure do.


I have never lacked a warm lap, we’re big on cuddles in this house. Daphne still naps with Leia almost everyday (mostly on the bed….).


M.I.L.F.’s (Moms In Lots of Foam), Foam Fest 5k with the ladies.


Feeding the ducks at Lake Murray with Grammy.



Face cream, my first attempt at homemade beauty products on a chemical detox kick.


Flipped that car seat! At 23 months my toddler started forward facing.


June 15th, Leia’s sister Dresden was born.


Grilled corn at the Del Mar Fair.


Playing with cousin Johnny at Grammy’s house.



Cousin Sarah visits from the east coast. Had such a good time while she was here, especially watching her get an amazing tattoo!


4th of July party with the Souzas.


My hopes for my daughter.


Helping make rainbow cupcakes for her birthday party.


My heart.



Best post-nap hair picture, ever.


The kitchen is my favorite place for making memories.


She’s sort of amazing with chopsticks! Enjoying our favorite lettuce wraps at PF Changs.


Where’s Leia?! Oh, she’s holding my birthday flowers, thanks Aunt Jamie! I turned 31 on the 31st, hello golden year!



Leia was a race car driver…and chased Grammy off the road.


It’s important to me that I raise Leia around animals, to teach her compassion and kindness to those who depend on us.


Few things are better than Paula Dean’s red velvet recipe – a special request from Rachel for our joint birthday celebration at Wine Steals.


Look who stopped biting her nails!


Pumpkin patch in Irvine on the first day of Fall.


Meeting my brother’s girlfriend and her daughter in Arizona. Visited Andy for his birthday, but forgot Leia’s birth certificate, so she missed him.



Leia discovers how to take pictures with the iPhone…and never stops.


Carving pumpkins at Grammy and Uncle Randy’s house.


Most of the Star Wars crew! We had 13 toddlers total (I think?) for trick or treating craziness this year.

Moms night out! Dinner and drinks (do you see that big white punch bowl?!) at Craft & Commerce.

Moms night out! Dinner and drinks (do you see that big white punch bowl?!) at Craft & Commerce.



Color Run 5k with Becca. We got covered in colored dust, it was a blast!


Honey Beer Bread. So amazing it’s making this list. It’s only 5 ingredients too!


Chargers game with Rachel and Pina! Thank goodness we won, Chargers had a terrible season. No Norv or AJ for 2013, yay!


Bonfire and s’mores at Mission Bay with our friends.


A sleepy hug on Thanksgiving. What a blessing.



Wiggin’ out for Crystal’s bachelorette party!


“Merry Christmas, best friend.” Leia learned that from a cartoon and says it often, turns me to mush.


Annual Girls Christmas Party!


Hating Santa for the third year in a row. Priceless.


Straight out of a celebrity tabloid, these are some adorable kids.

Our beautiful Christmas card! Thank you Brooke for your amazing design skills!


Online Dating

I made a profile on Plenty of Fish. A few weeks ago I had a single mom heart-to-heart with Kat while she was cutting my hair. My social life revolves around a close knit group of girlfriends and an amazing mom group. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to meet new people. So even if I’m not ready to jump into a serious relationship yet, it can’t hurt to see what’s out there. I suppose it’s possible I could meet someone while chasing Leia around the zoo or the grocery store. But that sounds like a predictable romantic comedy, not my life.

It turns out there’s tons of fish in the sea. Even when I set a bunch of parameters on the advanced search page it returns hundreds of results. I think I’m a great catch (whoa, pun!), and I’m happy being single. My free time is precious, so I’m picky about who I spend it on.

I spent more time than I’ll admit flipping through pictures and profiles indulging my shallow side – “too short” “weird hair” “ridiculous outfit.” Kate reminded me that looks fade and personality is forever. It’s true. I’m sure a bunch of the profiles I rejected within 10 seconds are nice guys with potential for entertaining and meaningful conversation. But if I’m being honest there needs to be some initial physical attraction.

Here’s my observations so far:

  • Cell phone self portraits in a bathroom mirror don’t highlight anyone’s assets. Same goes for pictures laying on a bed or a couch.
  • A good smile goes a long way. Besides making you approachable, guys with nice teeth are sexy.
  • If you send a message that just says “Hey” or “Sup girl” I’ll assume you’re sending the same thing to 158 other girls and have no conversation skills. I’m not asking for a novel introduction, but at least ask a relevant question or two.
  • If I don’t respond to your initial message, I’m not interested. It would be polite to send a nice short response like “thanks for your time, but I’m not interested” – which I’ve done for a few people – but most just get deleted. Don’t worry, I get the same treatment. The first few times I sent someone a message and got crickets in return it bruised my ego.
  • If you have kids, that’s great! Don’t put pictures of them on a dating site. Crop them out of the pictures you use on your profile.
  • So many people list favorite activities like this… “running, hiking, kayaking, going to the gym, surfing, snowboarding, playing pool, golfing, bowling, hockey, etc.” Kudos to you super active people, where do you get the free time?! I’m not lazy by any means, but that is really intense. Although one of the perks with meeting new people is having someone to be active with, and try things out of my comfort zone. I want to learn how to surf. I’d like to take shooting lessons. I’m terrified of breaking my neck on a snowboard, but I would try it.

I feel pretty proud of myself for just putting my foot in the water and testing out the online dating thing. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Candy, Football, 5k

This year we celebrated Halloween with our mom group. Chelle’s family turned their house into party central with delicious food and festive decorations. We even managed to get (almost) all the kids posed for a picture! Getting a big group of us together always reminds me how meaningful these friendships are, for Leia and myself. The neighborhood was perfect for trick or treating. Compared to last year, Leia realized knocking on a door and saying “trick or treat” resulted in candy. She practiced saying “trick or treat” and “happy halloween” all day. My normally shy kid was bursting with excitement all night, pointing out spooky ghosts and witches, running alongside her friends, shouting “yay! more houses!” I loved watching her experience trick or treating the way I did as a child – in a neighborhood asking strangers for candy on their doorsteps.

Painting pumpkins on our patio

Carving pumpkins with Grammy and Uncle Randy

The force is strong with these ones…



The day after Halloween, my Mom watched Leia so I could go to a Chargers game with Rachel and Pina. We only make it to one game a year because the tickets are so expensive, even for the “bird’s eye view” section, ha. Parking is $25. Beers are $9 ($11 if you want an import). Madness! So the girls met at my place and we filled up on pizza, cakepops, and a few drinks before walking to the game. The Chargers won, breaking a two game losing streak. It was a great girls night out. I lost my ID, which is a bummer. I’m not sure where it fell out of my pocket, but I’m hoping some good samaritan puts it in the mail.


This morning I ran the Color Run 5k with Becca. My Mom reminded me I could use my passport in lieu of my lost ID to pick up my registration packet, whew! She brought Leia and they watched from the sidelines. It was a huge event! It took us at least 30 minutes to get through the starting line. The crowd was fun and energetic, we got covered in colored dust. I kept my goal of “no walking” and ran the whole way, except a stop to get water. At the end of 3 miles, I’m definitely done, so I don’t see a longer run in my near future. But these fun runs are great! I’m hoping to sign up for the Electric Run next.

I’m shocked she didn’t freak out next to the big unicorn.

Removing The Temptation To Spend

I’ve had to tighten the budget recently, I mean really tight. I overspent on frivolous stuff in the last six months – extra meals out, too many trips to Target. Important expenses increased too, an extra trip to OC each month adds $50 for gas. Combined with losing a source of income I was expecting for the next two months, I’m definitely watching every penny. I applied for food stamps. I already receive WIC, and was surprised I could get both. Considering we eat almost all our meals at home, and my love for trying new recipes, groceries are the biggest chunk of my monthly budget. I looked into selling plasma. There’s a facility in La Mesa that pays $55 a week if you come in twice a week to donate your blood for plasmapheresis. I just got pierced (read: frivolous spend), now I’m ineligible to give blood 12 months. I’m driving less. I’m avoiding Target like it’s a zombie trap. I canceled Netflix. Even little things like riding the carousel and the train at Balboa Park, or buying ice cream at SeaWorld, are on hiatus for the next few months.

After the initial shock of recalculating my budget (and sadness of making Target forbidden) I’ve felt empowered by this reminder of a “less is more” mentality. I got all excited to clip coupons, but most of them are for packaged meals and processed foods. Not that I don’t eat packaged food, it just doesn’t make up the majority of my grocery list. Why are there no coupons for produce? I did end up clipping some coupons for almond milk, pretzels, fruit snacks, dry pasta and yogurt. WIC gives me a check for $6 a month to spend on produce. They give me $25 worth of milk and $10 worth of juice we don’t drink, I wish I could swap the value for more produce.

I had a short lived fantasy that I would just eat every other day – save money and drop 10 pounds – winning! Back in reality I realized that I love food and most days I have a hard time waiting a few hours between meals.

As I was scrolling through my inbox this morning I realized I get close to 50 emails a day tempting me with discounts and deals. I get emails from Groupon, Living Social, Gap, Old Navy, Pottery Barn Kids, Lucky, Overstock, Zulily, Mama Bargains, Shutterfly, Gilt, Picaboo, TravelZoo, Aaron Brothers, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, ModCloth…the list goes on. One of the emails today was a Kindle for $79 (normally $149) and it included a $20 gift card to WalMart. I really wanted to buy it! Do I need a Kindle? No, I’m doing just fine using the free Kindle app on my iPhone. Was it the Kindle I really want? Nope. I want the Kindle Fire so I can download apps. I’m just a broke ass moth flying towards the sparkly sale flame. No deal is worth spending money I don’t have, I know.

So I’m removing the temptation, especially with Christmas is around the corner (or already in our lap if you go to any retailer). These emails are just going to get more enticing and promise me all kinds of things I want at super bargains that trick me into justifying the splurge. I have to keep telling myself I’m on survival mode for a few months, and it’s good for me. Like spending a few weeks eating salads after the holidays, I’m going to trim down a little.

I unsubscribed to almost all of my emails. I hesitated, thinking “what if I miss a really good deal for something I need?!” But I won’t, because I don’t need any of that right now. Goodbye Groupon with your cheap bikini waxes and pedicures. Goodbye Zulily with your sweet deals on kids clothes and toys. Goodbye Old Navy with your 30% off all the dresses and leggings I need want. Not any time soon, and maybe not as often as before, but I’m sure we will meet again.

A Crafty Wanna-Be Mom

I loved my Grandma’s sewing room. Inside was all kinds of crafty goodness – colored paper, fabric, markers, pipe cleaners, foam shapes, you name it. She would take me to Michael’s and let me pick out silk flowers, cake decorating sets, sticker books. I remember her teaching me how to curl ribbon for a present. I was so frustrated I couldn’t do it as effortlessly as she did. “Sarah, when you’ve practiced for 50 years (our age difference), you’ll be even better than me.”

Pinterest is an endless source of DIY and craft ideas. Some things I pin, thinking “that’s actually pretty cute, and useful, and not too time consuming.” But most of it I just laugh and think “really, who has time for that madness?!” It’s important to me that Leia experience the magic of art and creativity. But if I’m being honest, I’m totally slacking in the kid friendly crafts department. Same goes for my house and DIY projects – lots of great ideas, not a whole lot of action. I’m not being overly ambitious either. I’m not trying to make flower vases from wine bottles or turn an old TV stand into a play kitchen.

We made hand print hugs today for both Grandmas.

Here are other projects I consider realistic:

Use a paper punch to make shapes from paint cards and string them together. One step up from the good ol’ paper chain. I think this would be fun to do with Leia for different shapes for different holidays.

Buy felt. Attach to wall (command strips?). Cut shapes.      Easy peasy.

Mod podge tissue paper to the inside of a glass jar and drop a LED candle inside. There are no less than 8,345 uses for a Mason jar on Pinterest.

Easy to make dough, cookie cutter shapes, stamps for a pattern and paint. Merry Christmas!

Cornstarch + water + food color = sidewalk paint.

Here are ones that make me laugh:

Make your own sandals! No thanks. I’ll get some flip flops for $2 at Old Navy.

Maybe it’s because I’ve only recently had decent fingernails to paint, but 99% of the pins for decorated nails look ridiculous to me.

Pretty much all of the ideas to radically transform one item of clothing into something else make me laugh. Maybe if I loved a sewing machine like I love a stand mixer I’d feel differently.

See comment above. This was made from a man’s dress shirt. I’d rather buy a different shirt/skirt/whatever than take the time and effort to create one from something else.

16 hours and 127 tiny paper flowers later…

Ain’t nobody got time for that. Exactly.

Clutter and procrastination

Things that feel good: Getting a haircut. Cleaning out the refrigerator. Tossing Leia’s ragged old toys. Going through my closets to make a pile of donations.

I love getting rid of old things, making space in my life. But lately I’ve been slacking off, feeling overwhelmed with the clutter, putting off organizing because I can’t figure out where I want to start. Or worse, I get stuck in the mindset that I might need _____ in the near future, despite the fact that it’s been collecting dust for a year.

I used to do a lot of cleaning and organizing after Leia went to bed at night. Now I just like to read and drink tea or a glass of wine. Facebook has taken a far backseat to Pinterest. Occasionally I update this blog. I rarely turn on the TV since I only follow a few shows throughout the year. Speaking of shows, Vampire Diaries is new this week! Yes, I know I’m twice the age of their target audience, hush. The point being, I’ve really come to love my “me” time in the evening.

So when does stuff get done? When Leia is awake I usually have her help with the everyday stuff – laundry, dishes, etc. Obviously it’s just fun involvement right now, but I figure it’s better for her to learn about chores now. Also, with just the two of us, it’s not that much cleaning. That statement probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m not a clean freak, a little dust doesn’t scare me. I don’t vacuum regularly, just when the carpet looks dirty. So “it’s not that much cleaning” is based on my standards.

I really need to tackle my kitchen. Why have 12 wine glasses when I’m only getting 1-2 dirty before running the dishwasher? People don’t come over to drink wine these days (sad face), so those poor glasses in the back get no love. My drawers are a hot mess, with cooking utensils just shoved in randomly. It doesn’t help that Leia can reach all the drawers with her step stool now and rearranges for me. I need to get all the sharp stuff up out of her reach – top of the fridge I guess? I have four flower vases. Once in the last two years I’ve bought flowers at the farmers market, not enough to justify four vases. Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg. I’m no hoarder, not by a long shot, but I’m starting to feel the weight of extra stuff around the house.

I keep saying I’m going to have my mom come over for a few hours and watch Leia while I tackle my big to do list. Then when she comes over I usually end up going to the gym – with my iPhone and kindle app because I like to squeeze in extra reading time. Just like I can squeeze on my pants from last year, woohoo! I am aware that squeezing is not the same as fitting, but it’s a step in the right direction.



Milk and Meat

Last week I watched Forks Over Knives, with a new appreciation for the vegan lifestyle. I completely understand how a whole food, plant based diet would be ideal for our bodies. It’s disturbing to be reminded of the abundance of processed food around us and how it becomes an addition. The negative impact on our bodies and the planet from consuming animal products is legit. Still, I can’t imagine living without dairy or meat. Like the strangers interviewed, I grew up thinking “I need milk for calcium” and “I need meat for protein.” It’s one thing to incorporate healthier alternatives as I educate myself, but removing them completely? Probably not going to happen.

When Leia was a year old I planned to wean her from breast milk to cows milk. I assumed all kids drank milk. The only people who drank “those other milks” were vegan hippies or lactose intolerant. It turned out Leia doesn’t like (non breast) milk. I offered her whole milk, low fat milk, soy/coconut/rice/almond “milks” – technically it’s not milk if it’s not from a mammary gland right? She’ll eat cheese (sometimes), yogurt (every morning), and ice cream (duh) so I just shrugged it off assuming she’d get calcium others ways. Then I got on a smoothie kick and started buying unsweetened almond milk because the calories were lower than my nonfat cow milk. Several months later I haven’t gone back to cow milk. After talking to a few nutrition savvy friends and doing research online I realized milk isn’t quite the “super food” were taught growing up. Cow milk is for baby cows. Even with hormone-free organic milk, you’re doing little more than ingesting a multivitamin. The calcium in milk is not easily absorbed by our bodies. Countries with the lowest consumption of dairy have the least hip fractures and vice versa. Shocking right?

I’m open to trying dairy free alternatives, like those tasty soy ice cream sandwiches from Trader Joes. I sometimes substitute coconut oil for butter, depending on the recipe. I bought soy coffee creamer. That said, I’m hardly running for the non dairy hills. In my heart I know I’ll never give it up completely. I love cheese, and it would ruin my life not to eat it. I also love ice cream. I eat yogurt several days a week.

We eat a lot of chicken. I’d love to say I only buy organic and free range, but I don’t. Maybe by eating less meat I can afford the price difference. Despite all the meals from scratch made in my kitchen, pre-cooked chicken nuggets are a staple in my freezer.

I feel less guilty about the chicken nuggets I usually get because I splurge on the “healthier” options. She loves them, and sometimes it’s just easy to heat something up for lunch. For meatballs, tacos, burgers I use turkey. We don’t eat red meat very often. Occasionally we’ll have beef ribs with my mom and uncle, or every few months I’ll make a roast in the crock pot. But a well prepared steak will always make me salivate.

I’ll never completely give up meat but we’re going to eat less of it. Harm reduction, right? I want to cook more with lentils. I think they’d make a great filler in ground meat recipes. I might even cook with tofu on occasion – if I can get the recipe for the only tofu I’ve enjoyed from the JPeds. I’ve been keeping an eye out for tasty vegetarian ideas when I scan Pinterest. Today was an unofficial Meatless Monday: Breakfast was peanut butter on a whole grain waffle, banana, coffee with soy creamer. Lunch was a sandwich with cheese, veggies and a big scoop of avocado hummus. Dinner was half a bell pepper stuffed with quinoa, zucchini and sweet potato. Snacks were an apple and a pumpkin muffin. I didn’t feel deprived at all.