Weekly Roundup

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Something's different, right? Although you may have seen it in various phases of it's new look over the past few days, I have officially finished the redesign of my blog! I feel like it reflects me rather well and I'm really pleased with how it has tuned out. To celebrate, I've decided to officially start doing a weekly round-up of sorts with things I've been doing, reading, and learning about. Some people don't like this sort of post, but I always find that I can learn a lot about a person by seeing the things that they're interested in. Also, not everything going on in our lives is always worthy of an entire post, but you still want to share it in a way; this sort of post allows for that sort of thing.

We've been taking lots of walks around our neighborhood lately and all of the flowers and trees are in bloom. California seems to have forgotten about that "April Showers" thing, but it still brought enough gloomy weather and high winds over the weekend to ruin a bonfire on the beach that we'd been planning for a while. A day later it was 90˚ and perfectly sunny. The weather here can't decide; this reminds me of the East Coast's climate.

READING

  • The Martian by Andy Weir. It took me a while to get into this book, but soon I was hooked and couldn't put it down! I just had to know what was going to happen to Mark Watney. Partially through the first few chapters I Googled "The Martian movie" and sure enough, it's already been filmed. I am constantly checking things out on IMDB and was surprised to see Matt Damon listed as Watney. I, for one, could not get his character from Interstellar out of my head and struggled for a few chapters to separate Watney from said character. I believe everyone will be cheering for this version of Matt Damon as an astronaut and I'm really excited to see what Ridley Scott will do with this one. You have until November; get to reading! (Also, follow me on Goodreads! I'm constantly reading something fun.)

WATCHING

  • Manhattan by WGN Dan and I probably finished the first (and sadly, only) season of this show on Hulu and were so sad they haven't finished season two yet. Season two comes out in the fall and I can't wait! This show is about the scientists and families who were moved to New Mexico during WWII to create the first atomic bomb, aka, The Manhattan Project. You don't have to be a huge science buff to enjoy this one, but that definitely drew in Dan's interest. I enjoyed seeing the family dynamics and the 1940's lifestyle and fashion as well.
  • Belle I finally took a moment to sit and watch this on HBO Go and I'm so glad I did. Dido is the mixed-race daughter of an admiral during a time when slavery was still legal and prevalent in 1800's England. She is raised by her grandparents and struggles with "being too high a rank to dine with servants but to low of rank to dine with [her] family." It's a love story entwined with a society struggling with morality, and it doesn't hurt that the costumes are fabulous.

ON THE INTERNETS

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A Glimpse of Newport Beach

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California

Newport Beach is unfortunately one of the close-by cities I haven't spent much time exploring. I know that the peninsula stretches on far beyond the little part of the beach where I usually end up parking, but with so many beaches and towns around, I just have to accept that I cannot see it all. Fortunately, the area right around the Newport Beach Pier is charming enough. With the bay full of yachts and sailboats behind you and the beach ahead, it's a great place to get out and wander around. When a former coworker asked me if I wanted to meet her there for lunch a few days ago I was eager to get out of the apartment and to the oceanfront.

On a chilly weekday it was easy to park near all of the restaurants lined up down the short boardwalk. As I stood waiting for my friend to arrive I took in the various typical Southern California beach scenes. Joggers, skateboarders, surfers, bicyclists... bicyclists steering with one hand and holding onto their sandy surfboards with the other. I don't participate in the local beach culture here, but I sure do enjoy watching it!

A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California
A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California

We had lunch at a bar called Mutt Lynch's, a very loud and fun place I've visited many times when I make it down to Newport. Their sweet potato fries with sweet chili sauce are awesome and they serve ice cold beer and cider in huge schooners. But since it was 11:30am, I refrained this time. ;)

Mutt Lynch's Bar | A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California

A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California
When we were finished with lunch we wandered around on the beach and pier, snapping photos and continuing to catch up. After a short while we stopped in Newport Coffee Company for cold brew iced coffees. Even though it was a small space, this was the type of coffee shop I could spend hours in just talking with friends or working away from home. That may actually be something I should do sometime.

Newport Coffee Company | A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California
A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California

A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California

A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California

A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California

A Glimpse of Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California


I did a few head shots of my friend and she returned the favor. I'm so awkward in front of a camera, but I may get around to posting some of those at another time!

What It Takes to Make a Big Move

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Never in a million years did I dream that I would one day wake up in Orange County and think, "just another day." True, the days here are ordinary now. It's our life; work, chores and bills. Sometimes, though, we'll be taking in a great view someplace or hanging out in the big, green papasan chairs on our balcony and suddenly I'll go, "Holy crap, we live in California. How did that happen!?"

Seriously, how did this happen!?

I was a country girl with big plans! I was going to go off to college, live somewhere exciting for a couple of years... and yeah, that's it. That was about the extent of my plan, because I never dreamed of living anywhere else when it came to settling down. I always just imagined that I would live at home after I was married, spending Sundays with my family like always and taking my kids over to my parents' house on random weeknights. Then I wake up several years later and it's 85˚ in January and I'm 12 miles from the beach. Again, how does this happen?

Many people have expressed to me that I'm "so lucky to be living this experience." I am, and I'm so grateful! This sentiment is often followed by, "I wish I could do that." But here's the thing... you can. Anyone with a certain amount of desire and the means to do so, can do so.

We weren't forced to move here because of a job or the military or anything like that; we chose this, and the freedom to do so has been an incredible blessing. It also helps that we weren't anchored by a well-loved job or young children we dare not uproot. We have been so, so lucky, and I'm so grateful for the experience we've had. But this did not come without sacrifice and hard work. Here's what it has taken to just up and move across the country like this:

We have sacrificed having our family and friends close by. This has been the hardest part of moving to California. Daniel and I are both very close with our families and grew up partaking in frequent family get-togethers. We've missed birthdays, weekends at the lake, and cousins' soccer games, cheerleading, and ballet recitals. I've never seen the house my brother and his wife bought last year. We have to get by on only one or two visits per year with our best friends back home. It has been hard. So why would we give all of these things up to move across the country, away from everything we knew? Because I wouldn't consider this a "blank vs blank" situation. We didn't trade our family and friends for this experience; they're still there, waiting for us to come home. And thank the internet for Skype! (And that my mom learned to text!)

Following that, it took guts to make this move. Moving to a place where you really don't know anyone? I think this is self-explanatory. We were willing to take the leap, though. We dove into the unknown and had no idea what to expect or how things would play out, but thank goodness all has worked out in our favor so far!



It took money. Some dream stories start by telling you how someone arrived "with only $20 in my pocket, and look at me now!" That was definitely not our situation, but we were far from wealthy when we made the move out here. I was actually unemployed for eight months before we moved, and Dan's old job paid a very average entry-level salary. Luckily, we were able to gather our savings and sell most of our belongings before we left so we would have something to work with when we arrived. Mind you, we did this with six weeks' notice. Almost everything went on Craigslist, then we had a yard sale. We saved up enough cash to pay for gas, food, and low-cost (but not scary) hotels on the way out here and brought only what would fit into the back of our Jetta with us. The rest of our savings paid a deposit and first month's rent on our apartment, and that was about it. When we realized we didn't even have anything to eat off of we went to Ikea and put plates and bowls on our credit card. We had no furniture and stood at the kitchen bar every night to eat our dinner. We borrowed an air mattress until we couldn't stand it any more and finally put a real mattress on our credit card. These were sparse but exciting times. Luckily, paychecks started rolling in and we began to furnish our space one small piece at a time. And when we move again we'll do the same exact thing. (By the way, does anyone in SoCal need furniture?)

We did have some sort of a plan. We didn't have much of a plan, but the only way we decided this move was possible is because Dan managed to line up a job. This job was the deciding factor and the reason we had to move so suddenly. Without this job, we couldn't have done it. Without this job, I couldn't have quit mine recently. Thank God for Dan's job and his willingness to work to provide for us. He is such a good man and has done so well. I'll stop being sappy now. ha!

So yeah, this took guts, sacrifice, a little bit of a plan, and some cash, but it's not completely out of reach if it's something you absolutely want. Life is to short to be intimidated by the things we'd like to try. Want to move to California for two years? Make it happen. Take an internship in another city. Study abroad in France for a semester or two. If the only thing holding you back is fear, make fear your bitch. Stomp all over that fear and make the leap. I promise you, you won't regret it.

This Was All Just Temporary

Monday, April 20, 2015

Jacaranda Tree of Southern California | Em Busy Living "This Was All Just Temporary"

I knew that this was all just temporary, but I hadn't really let on to that fact with many people. When we moved to California almost two years ago and we told people of our plans, "it's just for a year" was always something we tacked onto the end of that story. Within a month of arriving Dan and I knew we were in trouble... we loved it too much already and the idea of only spending a year here almost made us panic. Maybe we'd stay two? Maybe even three!

Staying permanently was never an option. We're both too family oriented to intentionally move 2,500 miles away from our parents, siblings, and extended family and want to stay there. This was just for fun, which is a bizarre concept for a lot of people back home. "You moved... for fun?" Yes, absolutely, we moved for fun! And we'll do it again, in just a few months. This is our one and only life and moving somewhere exciting for a little while was one of those things I didn't want to look back on and regret not doing! Mission accomplished.

Our fourteen month lease (which is common here, apparently) will be ending the first week of August and we'll be packing our bags and selling off our furniture to head back to the East Coast. We will have lived here for two years and two months. (Two and a half months actually, but who's worried with specifics?) Two years was a good amount of time. We spent the first year just trying to get settled, so I'm glad we didn't pack up and leave while we barely felt like we'd been here!

California has been a wonderful thing for us. It is the first time Dan and I have only had each other. We've had our awesome roommate Chelsea, of course, but we haven't had the daily support and availability of our family and friends while we've been this far away. It has been a growing experience for both of us and I am so glad we've had it.

But it's time to move on! We have finally settled on where we'll be moving next, but I'm afraid that announcing it this early may jinx our exciting plans. There are some family members who still do not know which city we have chosen from our two options, so I think it best to tell them first. Now is the time to enjoy what little time we have left, so I plan on spending the next three and a half months trying to fit in every little thing I saved for another time. There are absolutely many things on our "California Bucket List" that we didn't manage to cross off, but that's okay. We will definitely return later in life, especially to visit with family in San Diego and to see the friends we've made in Orange County.

For all of you following my blog, have no fear! I promise our next destination will be equally, if not more, exciting!

The jacaranda trees are blooming early this year and I'm already nostalgic for them. The first day we arrived in Orange County the jacarandas were in full bloom and I will always think of them for that. They are gorgeous, full and purple, and leave a terrible but beautiful mess of blooms all over the ground. (This must drive Californians crazy; not a single leaf should remain in a parking lot, for heaven's sake! Quick, grab the leaf blower!) I know that watching these trees turn from purple to green as they shed their petals this year will bring me some sadness because it will probably be many years before I can see them in bloom again. I just love them, and I love what they represent: the passing of time and the beginning of a new chapter.

Jacaranda Tree of Southern California | Em Busy Living "This Was All Just Temporary"
Jacaranda Tree of Southern California | Em Busy Living "This Was All Just Temporary"
Jacaranda Tree of Southern California | Em Busy Living "This Was All Just Temporary"

Life Lately

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

With our trip to Arizona behind us, I've found that I don't have too many things ahead to look forward to. This is a strange scenario for unemployed me; suddenly I feel like it's 2013 again, jobless and wondering what's next. I spent my time between leaving Young's and our trip to Arizona designing and developing my new portfolio website and then interviewing with a creative placement company. Now that we've returned I'm just looking around to see what's out there... freelance and part time work welcomed! I've even applied for some waitressing jobs, just to get me out of the house and to make a little extra cash.

That's not all I'm doing, though. I cook, clean, do laundry... the basic things I can expect myself to knock off the to-do list with all of this spare time, but I'm also fitting in a few things for myself these days. I have a couple of freelance jobs, which is nice. I'm reading the first draft of a friend's first novel. I have lunch with two of my old co-workers once each week and they are my absolute favorite people here, besides the two I live with of course. Some days I Chromecast Lynda.com videos to the TV and learn more about UX/UI design or how to better use my camera. Some days I just binge-watch a little Netflix and cuddle with Audrey cat. I've also cleaned out my closet and taken a huge load of clothing to a local consignment shop, preparing once again to pack all of my belongings into boxes for a late-summer move. So the days fill themselves up; I've found myself content. I would rather make a little money to contribute to the effort, but I also don't regret quitting that awful job for one minute. Best decision I've made out here.

The Maine performing at The House of Blues Anaheim, California | Em Then Now When

The Maine performing at The House of Blues Anaheim, California | Em Then Now When

We decided we should spoil ourselves last week and we headed to the House of Blues in Anaheim to see The Maine from our perfect and prime balcony seating. (Which were the same cost as tickets to stand in the pit and try to see over someone six inches taller than me!? What!? Lucky timing I guess!) I had never viewed a show this way, and I don't know if it's because we're getting old or what... but it was awesome. I could see the whole band the entire time, and anyone who frequently goes to shows knows what a rarity that is. I didn't get headbutted or bruised or anything... it was fabulous. We even had a cocktail waitress... no standing at the bar fighting to get a drink! The entire experience was relaxing and so fun. This was our third time seeing The Maine since we moved out here and after the show I hung around and was able to meet four of the five band members, all who were so nice and down to earth. Their new album "American Candy" was released at the end of March and I'm really loving it so far. The title track, "Unlost," and "Miles Away" are my three favorites so far. I highly suggest a listen!

Tuzigoot

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tuzigoot National Monument | Ancient Pueblo Ruins near Sedona, Arizona | Em Then Now When

Tuzigoot National Monument (or as my dad called it, "Tooti-Frooti") is a sister monument to Montezuma. Both were inhabited by the same tribe of natives, the Sinagua. This thousand year old pueblo village sits on top of a hill in the middle of basin surrounded by mountains and mesas, fortunately with the Verde River right at it's feet. Located just around 20 miles from Montezuma, and surrounded by countless other Sinagua settlements, it seems to have been a center of the culture and trade of that area.

Like Montezuma, the rooms were accessed by ladders and entrances on the roof, so I can only imagine what it would have been like to climb up this hillside and then venture around from roof to roof. There was only one doorway in the entire structure which they believe lead to a storage room right off the public gathering area.

Tuzigoot was found to have more well-preserved artifacts than any other local native settlement from that time period, providing a wealth of information about the Sinagua people who lived there. From weapons and tools to pottery and textiles, hundreds of artifacts in great condition (for their age) can been seen in the information center there.

Tuzigoot National Monument | Ancient Pueblo Ruins near Sedona, Arizona | Em Then Now When

Tuzigoot National Monument | Ancient Pueblo Ruins near Sedona, Arizona | Em Then Now When
Tuzigoot National Monument | Ancient Pueblo Ruins near Sedona, Arizona | Em Then Now When
Tuzigoot National Monument | Ancient Pueblo Ruins near Sedona, Arizona | Em Then Now When
Tuzigoot National Monument | Ancient Pueblo Ruins near Sedona, Arizona | Em Then Now When

Tuzigoot National Monument | Ancient Pueblo Ruins near Sedona, Arizona | Em Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Mike picked us up early on our third day in Sedona to take us hiking, something he does frequently while living there. The trail, Broken Arrow, was a fairly easy one and came in at one and a half miles each way. The end destination was a lookout on top a large rock formation called Chicken Point. From there we could see the terrifying "White Line Trail," which, well... look this crazy mess up. Uhmmmm, no thanks! haha!

Our hike was a lot of fun and my aqua tennis shoes are now permanently rust-colored. I wish we had been able to stay in Sedona all week just so we could have hiked every morning!

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Hiking Broken Arrow Trail to Chicken Point in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Off-Roading in Sedona

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

[Read Part 1 of our trip here.]

Friends of my parents, a couple they know from my dad's time in the Army, spent a few years living in Phoenix and loved Sedona so much that they bought a timeshare and then their own home there. Now they split their time between Virginia and Arizona, opting to spend their winters in gorgeous Sedona. We were thrilled to meet up and spend lots of time with them during our visit and they even let us use their condo for the trip. In fact, my first visit to Sedona when I was about 12 was a day trip to meet with Mike and Geri, so they've always been a part of Sedona for me. Mike was happy to show us around and discuss lots of geology, archaeology and history with us and we were overjoyed to have him do so!

Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When


My parents rented a jeep from Barlow Adventures for our first full day in Sedona and we met up with Mike and Geri early in the morning to head out for some off-roading. They own their own jeep and explore the area's many jeep trails frequently, so we followed them out of town onto the red dirt roads. Our first stop was to hike out and see some more Sinagua ruins, the Honanki cliff dwellings. There were many petroglyphs and petrographs on the cave walls there, which were amazing to see.

Ancient Honanki Cliff Dwellings in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Ancient Honanki Cliff Dwellings in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Ancient Honanki Cliff Dwellings in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Ancient Honanki Cliff Dwellings in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Ancient Honanki Cliff Dwellings in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Ancient Honanki Cliff Dwellings in Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When


Off-roading was much more exhausting than I expected it to be, in part because the trails were rougher than they appeared. I'm lucky I didn't end up with a concussion after speeding over one washboard patch of the road. But don't be fooled... we had a blast! Mike and Geri traded with us and let Dan drive their jeep, which was fun to ride in on our own. We need another couple of days to do this again and again.

Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When
Off-Roading on the jeep trails of Sedona, Arizona | Em, Then Now When

The desert in Sedona is just gorgeous and I'm so glad we were able to go out into the wilderness like this. We definitely couldn't have seen the area in this way without renting the jeep. It comes in very high on my list of recommendations for things to do when visiting Sedona!