Tag Archives: A beautiful life

Simple updates for big impact

When you’re looking at a room, it’s the little things that pull that space together. If you’re like me, it takes a lof of time some time to figure out exactly which details you need to focus on! (I am seriously so slow at making decisions- blame it on decision fatigue.)

Our living room is off the kitchen, and we don’t use it as frequently as our family room, so it gets pushed off to the bottom of my list. This room is, however, the first space you see when you walk into our home, so I’ve been making more of an effort to pull it together.

It used to look like this:

I was AD|GIFTED new curtains from Jinchan.com (check out their Instagram, too!) Let’s be real- my old curtains had seen better days. I had chopped cut them sloppily at the bottom because I was too rushed, and they just weren’t providing enough privacy. I get that they were sheers, but there’s different levels of opacity, and they just weren’t cutting it.

These new curtains have a subtle embroidered vine detail that gives them a more finished look, as well as a heavier weight so I feel like we have a little more privacy. They do let in the light gloriously, though!

I am so pleased with how this little change made a big difference in the feel of this room! What do you think?



Dusting myself off

It’s been a minute two months since I last posted.

Writing has been on my to do list for a month, at least: write two blog posts this week. I start with good intentions, and then, I fall flat and push it off until tomorrow.

I have had a lot on my mind and on my plate, and it’s easy to get caught up in the inane minutiae of adulthood. My career- or lack thereof- has been something I’ve been grappling with. I’m not teaching this year- partly by my own choice, partly by things that are beyond what I could control.

I’ve struggled with feeling like a weakling, like I couldn’t hack it back in the classroom so I’m here sitting on the sidelines. I come from a teaching sector that is very, very competitive and also pretty traditional.  A common mentality in this field is if you don’t go full speed all year, you’re a poor teacher.  I know, deep down, I’m not a failure- in fact,  in having the courage, maybe even the audacity, to chase what makes me truly fulfilled, despite what others may say about that choice, is the best way to carve out my path to success- it’s also difficult to face your former colleagues and tell them you’re “throwing in the towel.”

When I was five, I declared I didn’t want to live in Bakersfield when I grew up. When I was nine, I decided I was going to go to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. One of my  high school teachers commented he had never seen a student so determined to accomplish her goals. With this in mind, admitting I don’t know what I want to do with my life is difficult, and frankly, a little embarrassing. Glennon Doyle talks about this- the falling, the waiting, and the rising. I know I’ll figure it out, but in the meanwhile, I just have to sit and wait- not one of my strong suits. 

On top of my <not even close to> midlife crisis, I’ve had to put both of my children into child care programs. They’ve both been great and are flourishing (David cries when he has to LEAVE preschool, no lie!). However, I miss them! I loved being able to be home with these two incredible little kids who amaze me every single day. I realize part of motherhood is letting go, but that certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

Finally, Jensen and I have had our house renovation plans derailed by this ^&*($Y% stupid retaining wall. Jensen has been working SO hard on finishing it, but it’s an 80 foot long project, and the hill is nearly 5 feet tall at some points, so it’s been slow going.  We decided we’re going to finish a few small projects after we finish this &*$($)# wall so we feel like we can have actually accomplished something! 

I have to keep reminding myself that faltering is part of growing. Pursuing what makes me genuinely happy is worthwhile. This too, shall pass. If you’re in a place like I am, filled with uncertainty, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other- keep on dusting yourself up, and get back on that damn horse and ride, a piece of wisdome I learned from my years of horseback riding. Some days you’ll go forward, some days you’ll fall back, but ultimately, by deciding that what you want is more important than what others want for you, you will get to the place where you’re living an authentic life. And frankly, don’t you think you deserve that?

You do.




Family room update

I’ve been absent for a bit because life has been busy! We’ve had lots of guests, the kids have been very active- Caroline is becoming quite the confident walker!- and I’m trying to savor my time with my children before I have to go back to the working world.

Jensen and I had big plans for doing more renovations, but the wind was knocked out of our sails when our retaining wall failed



I hate this fricking wall. 


This is no minor issue- its only ten feet from the side of our house, and it’s nearly fifty feet long. It’s also very expensive to repair- like, three bathroom updates expensive… Needless to say, we lost a little bit of our motivation and got the wind knocked out of our sails, so we’ve been sitting in stasis for a bit, trying to find solutions to this major problem that won’t gut our finances.

On a positive note, I finally got 95% of the boxes unpacked and sorted, so it feels a bit more like home every day. David finally stopped asking about going to his old house, which also helps.

I wanted to do a quick overview of the family room, as this is where we spend most of our time and it’s really the most finished room in the house… besides art work. That’s always something I struggle with.


This is the view from the kitchen dining nook. I love this room- I really do. I love the paint color (Sherwin Williams Sea Salt FOR LYFE!), I love the rug (Costco special, although someday I’ll buy a gorgeous vintage rug when I don’t have to worry about kids destroying it), and I love our sofa- down feather- wrapped cushions are dreamy, people. Dreamy. I also adore the parquet floor, which surprises Jensen to no end. It’s real hardwood, and I am enamored with the way it sounds and feels underfoot. We need to get drawbacks for the sheers (Ikea, by the way), but every single time I go to buy them, I forget when I’m shopping. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this!?!?!?!

This is our current toy storage situation. It’s not BAD, but it’s certainly not ideal. I got some really great ideas from readers on Instagram, and  I’m trying to figure out if I want to buy a cubby system or use what I already have and maybe build a simple floating shelf. We also need to refinish the children’s table that we have so we can create an art station. I wanted to keep the kids toys in the family room so that I can keep an eye on them when they’re playing. <No, it’s not this clean during the day, but we clean up toys every night as part of our bedtime routine. See the post here to get more information about how we put our toddler to bed each night.> (Also, peep the bar- I can’t wait to have more parties so I can really utilize this thing!)



I missed putting a pair of little boy’s shoes away… oops. 

There’s only thing I really don’t like in this space- and there’s so much to like, seriously! It’s a large room, it has incredible INCREDIBLE light because of the skylights, the floors, and the sliding glass door (which is okay but we’ll update eventually to French doors… can’t wait…) I hate the fireplace. Some people really like the rock fascia on the fireplace, but it’s just really not my jam. It’s A LOT of rock. Like, an 8 foot corner of rock. And I also prefer to have rooms that are predominately white or light colored, not brown. I think this fireplace just drags the room down. I’ve been doing a lot of Pinterest hunting on this, and have narrowed it down to a few ideas, and I’m drawn to painted white brick or white paneling. (Surprise, surprise) I also want to add a mantle- it needs SOMETHING there to break it up.

Thanks for joining me on this little tour- step by step, this house is coming together!




Just breathe

I reached out to a friend this past week. I had a feeling this person was just not feeling right, and my hunch turned out to be accurate. They shared that they are tired… they are tired of seeing so much bad news and so much sadness.

I can’t help but agree. It’s heart wrenching.  It kills me seeing images of babies separated from their families. It hurts watching environmental atrocities occur on a regular basis. It’s painful listening to my friends of color share experiences that are appalling and dehumanizing. It’s depressing reading Facebook interactions where name calling and character bashing are seen as normal.

I’m going to share with you the same thing I told my friend. It’s okay to check out for a few days and just breathe. Seriously. The world will keep on turning if you aren’t up to the minute on current events. We live in such a quick news cycle that it sometimes feels never ending- and I don’t say that negatively, it’s just our reality. You have to take care of your self- and if you’re feeling depleted by bad news, unplug.

It’s okay to stop reading the news at night- if I do, I find that my mind races and my heart pumps and I want to get up and do something. If this is you, as well- read the news in the morning. Let it fire you up and give you even more incentive to get the day started.

Follow people on social media who are fighting for what they believe in. They’ll inspire you and give you hope. YOU get to choose who you follow on social media- choose wisely. What you feed your mind is what your mind becomes.

As far as feeling like you can’t do enough, ponder this: if you consider yourself a candle, remember your light won’t be dimmed by lighting other candles. So keep on doing whatever thing you’re doing, big or small. Donate to causes you believe in. Talk to and engage with people and have intelligent conversation, and don’t stoop to name calling. Go to protests if that’s your style. Call your elected representatives. Be neighborly and kind to strangers, even the ones you don’t agree with. In every little thing you do, you’re spreading your light in some small way, and a bunch of candles together can brighten up the darkest room.

So let that light of yours shine, and breathe. Just breathe.



Labor of love

The most difficult thing I’ve ever done is be a mother. I’ve been through some pretty big trials throughout my life- but those trials have had an end. Not motherhood. Every single day, I’m responsible for someone else… well, two someone else’s. I can’t just drop everything and go on a spontaneous trip, or go out for drinks on a Saturday night, or schedule a hair cut whenever I want. I have to think about how two little people are going to be taken care of, and how they might feel. I’m not saying I don’t love being a mother; quite the contrary. But I will say I have made some major life adjustments, especially in the area of my career, that wouldn’t have occurred if I didn’t have David and Caroline. 



I have to hold him in order to get a picture with him nowadays. Three year olds, I tell yah.

Motherhood is hard. It’s hard always putting someone else first. It’s hard seeing your body change. It’s hard being so damn tired all the time. It’s hard having to think so much. It’s hard being consistent with discipline. It’s hard not sleeping in. Damn, do I miss sleeping in



She wanted the pom poms on my tank. Never any personal space around here.

But you know what makes motherhood even harder than all of the things I mentioned above?

Our culture’s expectations of how mothers “should be.”



“This hat is obnoxious.”



We are fed a narrative that tells us we should look a certain way, act a certain way, and sacrifice everything for our children.

That’s ridiculous. 

Motherhood doesn’t mean you have to loose yourself in your children. It doesn’t mean parenting the same way or acting a certain way. 




He sees the world as pure magic. So refreshing.



Because we believe we have to be a certain way, we compare ourselves. Comparison is the thief of joy, people! Women have told me they think I have it all together… puh-lease. My car is filled with goldfish crackers in the nooks and crannies, too, and more days than not I have my children’s bodily fluids on some part of my body. I don’t wash my hair enough, and I still have boxes I have yet to unpack- 7 weeks after moving later. My life is a mess, too, folks. All of us have messes.


Embrace the messy, give yourself grace. Don’t buy the story you’ve been fed that mothers have to be perfect. They don’t. Moms only need to love their children fiercely and love on them. That’s the definition of a perfect mother. 


Fine, call me a hippie…

Only one person I know has ever called me a hippie, but frankly, I don’t see it as a bad thing. He called me that because I liked to recycle in my classroom <insert eye roll here- in the mot loving way possible. I love my co-worker! :)>.


I’m the same way around my home. I figure that if we all do a bunch of little things, we will all collectively be more gentle with this place we live. I don’t understand the mentality of wastefulness anyway- even if you don’t care about the environmental aspect, at least be frugal.



I’m going to share a few easy ways I lighten my impact on this planet- maybe you’ve heard of these, maybe not, and this list isn’t exhaustive, but if you could incorporate them into your own home, you’ll find they’re pretty painless to do.

  1. Unplug your phone chargers when they’re not in use. They’re still using power
  2. Only run full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher
  3. Speaking of laundry- seriously, clean out your dryer vent regularly. I get it, it sucks. But we pulled out nearly FOUR POUNDS of lint out of our dryer vent- imagine how much energy that dryer was wasting while the previous owners used it!
  4. Avoid using paper towels. I have a massive stack of cloth towels that I’ve accumulated over the years. I also have a bin to store them in after they’re used, so they’re all in the same place ready to be washed.
  5. On the same note- cloth napkins! We use ours for a day or two, then throw them in the wash.
  6. Vinegar and baking soda are fantastic cleaners- seriously. Use diluted white vinegar to clean floors and deodorize and soften laundry. Baking soda is a great yet gentle abrasive cleanser for bath tubs and sinks. I promise the smell dissipates quickly- including any bad odors that might have been lingering. … Just don’t use them together at the same time.
  7. Bring your own bags to the grocery. This is a law in California- and it really made a difference. Before the law was passed, plastic bags were the third most commonly collected item in beach clean ups. Afterwards? It wasn’t even in the top ten.
  8. LED or CFL lightbulbs. Easy, efficient, and they last forever. I hate replacing light bulbs. PS- you can’t throw your CFL’s away in the trash, dispose of them at a place like Home Depot. They have a collection bin right inside the front entrance, usually.


So, no, I’m not like, living in a yurt off the grid. But all these little baby steps add up to a whole lot of something. I’m embracing and- living a modern life AND being thoughtful with how I use our resources.

What little things do you do to make your impact a little softer on the planet?



“Can you ever just be whelmed?”

“I think you can in Europe.”
If you haven’t watched 10 Things I Hate About You, this quote won’t be very funny. However, if you have, it’s one of the dozens of one liners that stick with you long after the movie is over.
It kind of sums up the last few weeks of my life. I’m not overwhelmed- the house is mostly unpacked (!!!) and both of my kids are starting to settle into a rhythm. We go to the aquarium once a week, and library story time every week. We go to the park on occasion, play outside, and go to Target, too. (David loves going to Target!)
I’m not underwhelmed, either- I love living here. I love the weather- there’s a 30 degree temperature range, and it hasn’t gotten over 85F. I’m close to the beach and there’s otters in the estuary… and I love otters. Like, l.o.v.e.
I’m just whelmed. We can’t afford for me to stay home forever, and the future I had planned- being a teacher- just isn’t panning out the way I had wanted. I had anticipated more job openings in my credential area, based on my research and inquiries, and those aren’t happening. That leaves me looking for jobs in industry, but being a teacher hasn’t given me those specialized, technical skills employers are looking for. Lacking a second language is definitely stymying my confidence in applying for many jobs, as well. Our list of home improvements is long, and Jensen has been working so much, it feels like we’ll never make progress- I’ve been trying to hang art on the walls for the last two and a half weeks, and something always pops up that makes it not happen!
Remember my post a few weeks back about what is happening behind the scenes of those pretty Instagram pictures? This is behind the scenes- this is my real life. It’s not easy to share our fears, but there’s value in being transparent… we’re all struggling with something.
Part of my process of getting out of this funk is that I need to acknowledge these feelings, and then work on a solution. So, today, I created a LinkedIn profile. Tomorrow, I’m going to get out a hammer and start hanging some damn pictures. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the only way to eat an entire elephant is to take one bite at a time.
Hugs, friends. Create that to-do list, outline how you’re going to get to your goals, and it’ll happen, if you keep on trying.

Joyeux anniversaire

On Saturday, Jensen and I will celebrate six years of marriage. It’s hard to believe that the man I met at college bar nearly twelve years ago, when all we did was drink drink drink….


Is now the same man I have two beautiful children with.


Twelve years is a long time when you’re 33- that’s nearly a third of my life. We dated long distance for six years before we got married and finally lived in the same town. We’ve lost beloved family members, moved multiple times, changed jobs, lived in a place we didn’t like at all, had babies, endured a very stressful pregnancy during which we thought Caroline had some potentially serious health problems, he supported me as I struggled with postpartum anxiety, Jensen completed a strenuous fellowship program our first year of marriage and I finished graduate school during David’s first year. It’s never been easy, not once.


And I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve heard people say that opposites attract, and in some ways, I guess that is true about us. I’m much more of an emoter and Jensen takes longer to share how he feels, for instance. But I believe our core values are very similar, and that’s why we’ve been able to make it through so many challenges. We’re honest with each other, sometimes painfully so. We laugh together, at the same kind of things. We love to explore the world and see new things (we have a shared travel list on our family organizer app!). We value personal growth. He tolerates my desire to watch Anchorman over and over and also my resistance to watching anything but comedies.

Marriage isn’t easy, but it’s good. Some days are harder than others. Some days are really, really fun. Some days you have to clean up puke from your toddler that you caught in your hands… <those aren’t the best kind of days>… and some days you walk 10 miles in London with your partner and find the world’s best paella from a street vendor on Portobello Road or get tickets to seats only twelve rows up from home plate at Yankee Stadium or are lounging on a beach in Cabo San Lucas eating plate after plate of nachos. (I love nachos.) There are going to be highs, and there are going to be lows… are you going to hold each other through each of those?

If I had to share one rule I’ve practiced the past six years, it’s this- treat your partner, and yourself, with respect. We always, always try to be respectful of one another. If you are respectful, you are kind, thoughtful of one another’s wishes and to one another, and admit your mistakes- these things will make your marriage a happy one. I believe it has for us.



I’m about to eat some nachos. Just kidding. Maybe. 


I’m so glad I yelled at Jensen across the Z Club during graduation weekend in 2006. There’s no one in the world I would rather do life with than him.






Better than before

I love second hand furniture.

I’m frugal, I like old stuff, I hate furniture shopping- coincidentally, this is the only kind of shopping I hate- but I either inherit furniture from family members or find it on Craigslist or vintage shops.

I think my best find yet came from Farm Girls Vintage Finds in Bakersfield, California. The owners go on buying trips across the country, because, let’s be honest here, most of the good antiques and vintage come from the east coast, at least in my experience. When I found these chairs, something about me told me to take another look:


They had an interesting shape over the top that I haven’t seen very often, and I love deep armchairs… I like to be able to pull my legs up and cuddle in. When I saw the price tag- $150 for two chairs- I just decided to bite the bullet and get them. We were getting ready to buy our new home and knew we needed more furniture to fill it.

Before I even purchased and picked them up, I knew I’d have to reupholster them, so I went to a local lady and asked her for a quote. When she gave me the price range- between $400-600, depending on the fabric- I knew it would be worth it.  A well made piece of furniture will cost at least this much, if not more, so I felt this was definitely the right decision.

I really, REALLY struggled with picking out the fabric… I wanted something bold, but wasn’t sure if I could live with it. I even put it to a vote on my Instagram stories, and I’m grateful you all helped me pick this fabric.


I cannot tell you how overwhelming selecting fabric can be- when there are literally 23,000 options! I narrowed it down by color and pattern type, and ordered swatches. Admittedly, this added about $30 to the cost AND slowed the process of getting the chairs finished sooner rather than later, but I really needed to see the fabric in person.

I dropped off the fabric- all sixteen yards of it!- to Lori, and waited patiently. We moved across the state in the meanwhile, but thankfully my parents were willing to pick them up for me and bring them to me when they came up to visit.

Sometimes you just need to follow your gut when you make a bold choice, and I’m glad I did. These chairs are amazing. They were worth the wait and every single penny!


My dad said when the upholsterer described the fabric to him, he couldn’t believe I’d picked yellow- but when he saw them in person, he admitted he was wrong. They’re gorgeous, and yes, I’m biased and I love mustard colored anything and I’m a sucker for a bird and floral print, but holy cow. HOLY COW.

I can’t wait to finish the living room and do them justice, but in the meanwhile, I smile everytime I see them. They’re bright and sunshiney and really bold, and I am positively delighted!

I do need to offer a few pointers if you are going to reupholster furniture. This was my first experience, and I had a learning curve!

  • Pick quality furniture. These chairs are solid wood- probably from the 1940’s or 1950’s. They had upholstery tacks on them, which definitely dated them from before the 1960’s. These chairs will outlive me. It’s worth it to invest money in something that will last so long. You’re not going to want to spend this much money on an Ikea couch- I do love me some Ikea finds, but this wasn’t the time or place for it.
  • Pick the right fabric. <Do as I say, not as I do>The fabric I selected is NOT heavy duty fabric, and this will probably be something I regret- kind of. It’s not designed for every day use on furniture- I’ve seen it on drapes and it’s most likely better suited for that. However, these are occasional chairs, so I’m not going to sweat it. I knew this fabric would be an issue, but nothing else spoke to me, so…
  • Don’t be afraid to go bold, especially if the fabric really speaks to you. If you think I’m crazy for saying this, this rule doesn’t apply to you- but if you get me, you know this is right.
  • Find an upholsterer you trust, check their work, and communicate with them. I found Lori through Yelp, she was honest, I loved her work, and her enthusiasm for these chairs was all I needed. She answered my questions honestly, as well. She was great!
  • Get quotes before you start. Obviously.

Have you ever loved a piece of furniture so much you got it recovered? What was your experience? Comment below!

Happy Tuesday!