Things to Think About (Or Real Estate and Stuff)

I’m back from Michigan… again.

I’ve made the trek to the Mitten State twice in the last eight weeks.

This last trip included a meeting with an estate planning attorney, four separate roof replacement estimates, a wedding, a baseball game, and meals with my parents (separately, of course).

See?

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Front row at Comerica Park with my papa.

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Papa showing the contractors his fancy gutter guards.

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My brilliant stepsister getting married in Ted Baker…. (I’m thrilled I was there.)

For some reason, I don’t have any pictures of my dinner (and staycation) at Ann Arbor’s Weber Boutique Inn with my mummy, but you get the idea….

I’m grateful I can get away to take care of my parents’ affairs, but I have mixed feelings every time I board the plane to return to LA.

I’ve been in California for nearly 18 years, and while it feels like home, I often question my decision to remain here.

I’m not ostensibly using my film degree(s) at present, which was the entire reason for moving to Southern California in the first place. I do have a strong support system in LA that I lack in my home state, but is that really a reason to stay?

That’s not to say that I don’t have a few truly wonderful friends in Michigan, but I have a much larger network here. I know it’s not about the number of friends you have; the depth of the relationship counts, and my Michigan friends are, without a doubt, made of amazing, but…

I’ve spent the better part of two decades building a life in LA, and it’s hard to think about saying goodbye to it.

Among other concerns, I often wonder what I’d do for money if left Southern California.

I’ve always wanted to renovate and flip houses — a much more attainable goal in a state where you can buy a house for less than the downpayment on a modest (read: small) house in LA, so there is that possibility.

For example…

This house in East Lansing is listed for $187,000.

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I die for these trees. (Photo credit: Zillow)

It has great bones, and a lot of renovation potential.

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Just look at the hardwood floors! (Photo credit: Zillow)

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While the cabinets and floor have to go, that light fixture is midcentury, retro fabulous. (Photo credit: Zillow)

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That bathtub is absolutely midcentury amazing, but the rest could use some help. (Photo credit: Zillow)

So now that you’ve seen an example of a house in my dad’s neighborhood, how about one in mine?

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This is listed at $1,175,00. (Photo Credit: Zillow)

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Yes, really… $1,175,000. (Photo credit: Zillow)

I’m not saying either house is move-in ready, but you get the idea….

So, anyway, I’m not sure what to do with my life. I just know I’m thinking about things I hadn’t considered five — or even ONE year ago.

Everything has changed since my dad was diagnosed with dementia and my mom with Parkinson’s….

Whatever happens, and wherever I go, I know I’m lucky to have these little nuggies by my side.

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They are stinky, and they are EVERYTHING.

Okay, that’s all for now.

I’m going to snuggle with the big dog babies before placing some sort of self-indulgent LA food delivery order.

I may as well do all of the So-Cal things while I still live here… however long that is.

Dog Yoga and Grocery Delivery (Or Things I Do on Sunday)

It’s a rainy Sunday in LA. It’s the perfect day for staying home and making a big mess of bacon-wrapped food.

The sky is a deep gray, both of my Boxers are asleep, and I’m listening to country music while waiting for my grocery delivery.

I realize the confluence of country music and an urban indulgence like grocery delivery is a bit of a contradiction, but I see it as a perfect microcosm for my identity. While I have somewhat of a redneck sensibility, I am also a spoiled urbanite, and I can’t bear entering a grocery store on a Sunday. The parking lot situation alone is reason enough to stay home — never mind the LA drivers who are blinded by a bit of rain on their windshields.

That leaves me over-spending on Sauvignon Blanc and prosciutto so I don’t have brave the “elements” (read: a light mist) to make dinner.

I recently declared 2019 as the year of productive creativity, so I’m going to get back to my novel outline while I wait for my groceries to arrive.

But first?

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Dog yoga

It’s not nearly as cool as goat yoga, and it involves a pose George invented called, “Barking Dog.”

It’s so relaxing living with Boxers… but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

My boys are everything.

 

Strawberry Balsamic Buffalo Mozzarella Salad (Or Easy Sunday Lunch)

It’s 98 in LA today.

98 on October 9, people.

You could basically do Bikram on my sidewalk if you were so inclined. It’s too hot to run, too hot to cook, and almost too hot to be alive.

I came home from church absolutely ravenous this afternoon. Since starving myself is rarely never an option, and neither is turning on the stove today, I decided to create a salad for lunch.

I had strawberries, arugula, balsamic reduction, and buffalo mozzarella lying around, so I threw it all together with a little olive oil and Maldon sea salt.

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Buffalo mozzarella makes everything better.

I’m not even kidding. I would probably eat a cardboard box if it had a ball of buffalo mozzarella on top.

If you want to make the salad yourself (and I think you should), the “recipe” is below.

I’m going to turn up my AC and yell at the LA Rams on TV now.

XOXO

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella

1 C Arugula
5 Strawberries, sliced
1 Buffalo mozzarella cheese ball
1 tsp Balsamic reduction*
2 tsp Olive oil
Pinch of Maldon Sea Salt

Place the strawberries and the mozzarella on a bed of arugula. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt to taste.

Salt and Straw for Warriors (Or I Reward Myself With Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream)

Yesterday I went to war… and I WON.

I crossed so many annoying items off my to-do list, my hallway is finally back to normal, and Albus is sleeping soundly now that my files are in proper order.

Please stop snapping pictures of me while I'm sleeping. It's creepy.

I do NOT care about your files. Just let me sleep, weirdo.

After my hallway battle, I went to the park, propped myself up on a picnic table, and did some work on my posterior chain.

See?

The dog is right. I am weird.

The dog is right. I am a weirdo.

I’d go into a whole, long story about how I googled ways to make my own glute-ham developer, but I don’t want to bore you. Besides, as much as I love power tools and plywood I do NOT need anything else in my house right now or I will go insane. This place is already bursting at the seems with egg poachers, ice cream makers, and golf clubs as it is.

That’s why I went to the park to work out. I figured I’d find everything I needed on a playground.

I was right.

Besides, who can argue with this view?

Also? Who can get mad about working your core while you’re looking at trees?

I blasted a little “Bootie in Your Face” because Deorro’s beats take the pain away. (They also make me drive like Danica Patrick, but that’s another story.)

I’m sure all of the nannies at the park thought I was a nut, but it’s LA… people should be used to nuts by now.

After my weird park work out, I came home and made bacon with Brussels sprouts and onions. (If you’re nice to me I’ll tell you how I did that tomorrow.)

I ended my day with two scoops of ice cream from Salt and Straw because warriors deserve roasted strawberry ice cream.

There may have been a whole pint in this cup.

True story.

Later!

XOXO

I’m Ready for War (Or the Wreckage of My Calabrian Pork Ribs)

Last night I made myself Spicy Calabrian Pork Ribs from this recipe I found in Bon Appetit. I had high hopes for the ribs, but I have to admit the flavors weren’t life changing.

That didn’t stop me from devouring the dish like a dinosaur, however.

I even got into the cold leftovers for lunch this afternoon.

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And I totally ate them standing up, just like this.

Why?

Because today is Tuesday. And Tuesday is the day to do battle.

I didn’t have time to sit around and have a leisurely lunch. I had to tackle things like a boss.

See, I recently listened to a sermon series Hank Fortener did on the origin of the days of the week, and in it Hank talks about how Tuesday was originally named for the ancient gods of war. The whole series is fascinating (you can find it here), and each talk ends with a guided meditation that is intended to invigorate you. The words that resonated with me in today’s meditation were these, “Thank you, God, for making me for this battle,” and I’m putting action behind the words.

I didn’t wake up looking for a fight because it’s Tuesday. I woke up knowing I needed to fight because the battle has been brought to me, and it’s my job to fight it. My health and my finances have suffered while I’ve been focused writing, so I’m taking action to ensure that I can continue writing with a clear mind that is not distracted by such things.

And even though my hallway looks like a hurricane hit it as I sort through my files, I’m doing the tough stuff necessary to make everything better.

I even have the words of Winston Churchill cheering me on.

It may be frightening my dog, but I have God — and the words of Winston Churchill — cheering me on. 

And even though my body aches, I’m heading out to a park to strengthen my posterior chain of muscles because that’s what I have to do to stop the pain in my back.

I was made for this battle, bitches.

I Make Martha’s Spinach, Peach, and Ginger Smoothie and It’s Only Aight (Or I Decide to Be Happy Anyway)

My grandpa always said people were too worried about whether or not they were happy. He said we should all stop thinking about it and just BE happy.

So today?

I woke up and just decided to be happy. I blasted some great tunes on my hike. Then I turned the music off, sat on my favorite rock in the woods, and got zen for five whole minutes.

When I got home I slurped down this spinach, peach, and ginger smoothie from Martha Stewart because I thought it sounded good.

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I make a strange smoothie face in this awkward selfie.

Is the smoothie perfect? No. Can I make it better? Yes.

Just not today.

Today I’m smiling even though these photos aren’t perfect and neither is the food.

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#anotherawkwardselfie

Maybe later I’ll head to spinning ‘cuz that… makes me happy too.

But first?

I’m people watching at Peet’s because I love their lattes and I have a great view of some seeeerious characters on the sidewalk. #thesepeoplehavepinkhair

#happy

The Roof, the Roof is On Fire (Or I Attempt to Fry Chicken)

So, LA is beyond weird. I mean, look at this madness.

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We ran into this bizarre little pony and his goat friend on our morning hike recently. They were apparently part of some strange movie being shot in our neighborhood. We also encountered a battered and bloodied Girl Scout running out of the woods wearing a bad beret, and that absolutely freaked Woodley out. She started barking like mad which probably ruined the shot, but that’s what people get for making unsavory low budget films when I’m trying to hike in the morning.

So anyway, I mostly embrace the madness that is LA, but there is a part of me that longs for something sort of homey and normal-like. So tonight in an attempt to keep things real, I made some fried chicken.

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I nearly set the place on fire and Albus had to retreat to the window for some fresh air, but it mostly turned out well.

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It’s probably safer over here.

I riffed off of this recipe from Miss Paula Deen (naturally). I used a mixture of mustard powder and onion powder instead of garlic powder, and it totally worked.

See?

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It was kind of awesome — even if my plating isn’t.

Later this week we’ll discuss last night’s Indian dish. And the state of my bedroom walls, ‘cuz that conversation is LONG overdue.

Now I’m going to crank up the Divine Miss Beyonce and attempt to get the grease off of my stovetop.

Lord. It’s a mess.