More home updates

Since the first home update pictures, we finally had our kitchen and bathroom cabinets refaced. This means the cabinet boxes are the same, but we got new doors, drawers and hardware. This is a much cheaper option than replacing the cabinets and we were able to keep the existing countertops and backsplashes. We love how they turned out, especially that the drawers roll smoothly, we have roller drawers in the kitchen and they are soft closing drawers. The new cabinets and drawers definitely make us feel like we traveled from 1980 to the present day.

We also (thanks to the stimulus) put artificial grass in the backyard! The yard had some nice landscaping with rocks, lots of bushes and trees which now are very tall and mature. The turf company guided us to remove some of the very overgrown bushes to open up the yard more and we are so happy with their work and the new space we have! The backyard has areas that are always shaded which made it difficult to revive the grass and dead patches. Our new yard feels so much more open and fresh!

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

The Art of Decluttering

One of the most impactful books I’ve read is ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing‘ which is a best selling book by Marie Kondo. Her philosophy is only keeping what brings you joy and she walks you through steps on how to simplify and declutter your life and living space.

This book was kind of perfect for me because I hate clutter, but usually have little areas around the house that seem constantly cluttered. I love the feeling of de-cluttering and getting rid of things that are broken, I don’t use, don’t wear or that have served their purpose, but at the same time I like keeping things like souvenirs that remind me of my childhood or places we’ve visited. I reread parts of her book when we were preparing to move and we donated at least 20 large bags. I couldn’t believe how much we accumulated in just the 4 years we lived in our previous rental. 

Some of her key points that helped us declutter were:

-Only keep the items that bring you joy. Don’t just look at things in a closet, pick them up and see how they make you feel.

-Donate items that have served their purpose, think about how someone may be looking for that item or it may be very useful for someone whereas it’s just been sitting in your house.

We were very motivated to declutter because we didn’t want to have to pack and move things we didn’t really need. When we moved to our current house, it was much easier to unpack and everything had a place, there was no room for a junk drawer, room, closet or bookshelf. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. 

Welcome home

It’s been one month since we moved into our forever home! We are really loving our little rambler in the canyon. It’s so quiet and peaceful, especially compared to our rental the last 4 years which had a major city road behind it. Now, instead of hearing a constant flow of traffic or motorcycles roaring up the hill at 3 am we hear birds, wind blowing through the huge pine and redwood trees surrounding our home or silence. We love the natural light and single story – no more stairs! This is our 10th home or apartment we’ve lived in together since getting married and we are so happy to finally find a city and home where we want to spend the rest of our days.

Our home was built in 1978 so there were some updates previously done (like new windows) but some things we’ve contracted out to do like removing popcorn ceilings! We also got new interior doors on half the house, new carpet, painted the insides of all the cabinets which were dark brown and this week we are getting our kitchen and bathroom cabinets refaced and they will be white! It’s amazing what a can of white paint can do, not only to brighten our kitchen but the previous all green bathroom, bold accent walls in colors I’d never choose, and a bedroom that was floor to ceiling covered with wall paper. Another thing we’ve really been excited about is getting our garage interior painted and epoxied (the floor). It feels like a much cleaner space than the previous gross floor and walls that were just dry wall. Here are some pictures of the house so far, including our half unpacked kitchen. We didn’t want to unpack everything since we knew the cabinets were going to be refinished so we’ve been half using stuff in boxes still. Lots of work has gone into this house to make it ours and lots to come!

a few before and afters and then just random pictures of our lovely little home:

 

Here’s our dark kitchen that will look so much brighter and modern hopefully by next week!

 

What’s your favorite way to relax?

I always find myself more relaxed, happy and less stressed when I am outside enjoying nature or exercising. Exercise has always been a big part of my life but more recently when the kids have started school I’ve rediscovered my love of hiking and walking trails. We live in the perfect city for hiking, Chino Hills has over 40+ miles of trails! It’s an especially beautiful place in the early spring when the wildflowers bloom. The last few winters have brought enough rain that the drought finally ended (although I think it’s back). There is beauty in all parts of the world and our earth is pretty amazing.

 

7 Tips to Happiness

With all the craziness, stress and heartbreak the world can sometimes bring, I try to focus on the positives and see the glass half full. The key word in that sentence is ‘try’ because there are times when it’s definitely ok not to be ok. If I’m feeling sad, frustrated or going through a hard time (hello, year of Covid-19), I like to allow myself to feel all the emotions before trying to solve them. And sometimes, there is no end solution, but baby steps in a positive direction. Here are 7 things I’ve found to help make me happier:

7 Tips to happiness

click to download: 7 Tips to happiness

Interesting Podcasts

I didn’t start listening to any podcasts until last year when I had a lot of doctors appointments that coincided with LA rush hour (woohoo) so like most people in the LA metro area, I had a lot of time in the car. I first downloaded Serial because I’d heard so many good reviews and was instantly hooked. I still enjoy the true crime genre but have also found some other intriguing ones. This isn’t a “must listen to” list since we all have our own tastes, just a few that I enjoy and look forward to!

TRUE CRIME

Serial – The first season covered by an investigative journalist follows the case and trial of Adnan Syed who was convicted of murdering his high school girlfriend in 1999. The 12 episodes are so intriguing  I actually got lost driving back home I was so into it.

Crime Junkie – This podcast comes out on Mondays and is something to look forward to even for a Monday! The two hosts cover true crime stories, solved and unsolved.

Cold – covers the cold case of Susan Powell who disappeared in 2009 in Utah. It also talks about domestic abuse and abusive relationships.

Dirty John – a crazy, true story about a con man, deceit and survival. The story mostly takes place in Southern California in 2016

HISTORY

Hardcore History – There are so many episodes about different historical events that Dan Carlin covered. I’ve only listened to the series “Blueprint for Armageddon” focusing on WW1. It’s long but very interesting!

Slow Burn – I listened to and enjoyed the two seasons which covered Watergate and the Monica Lewinsky Scandal. Both I had heard of but didn’t really know much about.

The Chernobyl Podcast – This parallels the HBO documentary about Chernobyl. Again, an event that I’d heard about but really didn’t know much about how it unfolded, the actual event and the aftereffects.

The Dropout – A really fascinating story about Elizabeth Holmes, a brilliant young scientist, her ‘amazing’ product and the deceit that follows. She was sometimes called ‘the next Steve Jobs’. This story only happened a few years ago in 2015 but I don’t recall hearing anything about it.

INTERESTING

How I Built This – fascinating series that tells the backstories of big companies, inventors and entrepreneurs. Not only are their stories unique and interesting, they are sometimes very risky and always inspirational.

Stuff You Should Know – each short episode covers a different random topic. I’ haven’t listened to all of them, but some noteworthy episodes have covered how to survive in the desert, peanut butter, coyotes, yawning, prison food, etc. According to Google, right now there are 1,400+ episodes!

Getting Curious – Jonathan Van Ness (Queer Eye) interviews experts about something he wants to learn more about. Some of the interesting topics have been about the Australian wildfires, gun control, global health, religion in the middle east, skin care, how Queer Eye was first created, etc.

Armchair Expert – Dax Shepherd interviews all sorts of interesting people from fellow celebrities, experts, etc. I’ve loved the interviews with Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Rhys Darby, the Avett Brothers, Mayor Garcetti (Los Angeles), Kumail Nanjiani, Aubrey Plaza….there are just too many!

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend – Conan interviews different celebrities, it honestly doesn’t need much of an intro because he is hilarious!

Office Ladies – Jenna Fisher and Angela Kinsey (Pam and Angela) from The Office go through episode by episode telling behind the scenes stories about The Office! I love hearing their experiences about what it was like to be on a documentary show, the other actors, writers, etc.

SPORTS

Sports Wars – Each series covers different sports rivalries like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, etc.

30 for 30 – an ESPN podcast covering lots of different and interesting sports stories. I particularly enjoyed the episode about the 1999 US women’s national soccer team and the episode about the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.

Trained – a Nike podcast featuring really cool interviews with athletes, trainers, sports psychologists, and researchers. Very inspirational and enlightening.

 

Gratitude Jar

November and fall are a natural time to feel more grateful as we start to focus on Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays. When I was younger, I remember my mom having a gratitude jar where we would write down things we were grateful for and paper feathers and then read them on Thanksgiving. We have done that with our kids a few times and last year mixed it up by having a jar filled with gratitude ideas or prompts. We try to find an evening time when we’re all together (like most nightly dinners) and each person will pull out an idea strip, give their answer and then each person will go around and say theirs. Most of the idea prompts are super simple such as “a hobby I am grateful for”,  “a person outside of my family I am grateful for” or “a sound I am grateful for” and it’s always interesting and insightful to hear everyone’s take on the same idea.

We’ve loved this family activity as a way to be together, express our gratitude and be more cognizant of the many blessings we have.

Click here to download the full PDF:  Gratitude Jar Ideas

The Last Bookstore: cool things in LA

Los Angeles in endless in good food, things to see and things to do. I always say we live in a gem city, meaning that we’re close to everything but it doesn’t feel congested the way downtown does with more traffic, people, etc. A cool spot we’ve found downtown in The Last Bookstore. It’s definitely worth a trip to see if you’re in the area! Not only does it have a large selection of new and used books, they’ve created art with books and upstairs there’s small art galleries.

book tunnel! ^

 

Austin, the sequel

We went back to visit one of our favorite cities, Austin, Texas! When we moved to Austin in 2016, we chose a city where we pictured ourselves living forever, a city to love and put down roots. It was bittersweet leaving because we loved the city and people and were also excited about returning to Southern California with its amazing weather and beaches.

Dave had a work trip in Austin and the kids and I got to tag along. We loved visiting some of our favorite places, people and restaurants and seeing some new sights. One of the new places we visited was the Austin Public Library downtown which was everything we could have wanted in a library, a dream public library! It is beautifully designed with multiple levels, an awesome kids area with lots of board games, rooftop gardens, and amazing outdoor reading patios.

We also checked out the Austin Nature and Science Center and our most favorite restaurant in Austin, Terry Black’s BBQ.

Best brisket ever! ^

More of our Austin favorites highlighted here

 

Delicious Fool Proof Chocolate Bundt Cake

I’ve never described myself as a ‘baker’ but I would definitely describe myself as an ‘eater’. Last year, I found a chocolate bundt cake described as ‘fool proof’, this was intriguing to me as a novice baker and someone who loves chocolate cake. It’s now my favorite chocolate cake recipe and great news, it’s actually simple to follow the recipe and make! I’ve made it a few times since I first tasted it at my friend’s house. The recipe is from A Bountiful Kitchen. 

foolproof chocolate bundt cake easy recipe

foolproof chocolate bundt cake easy recipe

click image for recipe ^