Adventures of the Traveling Teacher

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

When I was hired at the high school, the timing couldn’t have been better for me. One of the guidance counselors was moving north, and with his move came an opening to be the study abroad director at the school. I was shocked to learn that I was the only one gunning for the job, and with a lack of competition, I got it. A lot of the other teachers thought I was crazy being willing to take a ton of high school kids abroad without their parents, but I trusted my gut and started planning. What’s the worst that could happen? An Italy version of Taken — (insert 20 of my most recent nightmares here).

For two years I planned the trip to Europe. I recruited students, convinced parents that I wouldn’t let their kids die, and raised extra moo-lah for what seemed like forever. Finally this month after more meetings and stacks of insurance paperwork than I care to remember, it was time to take 20 high school kids on this trip to Italy, France, and Spain. — If you’re wondering..yes, more than once I was called insane.

We started in Italy in the Tuscany region. We traveled by train through four 16th century fishing villages called Cinque Terre. We hiked the side streets, went up into the mountains, and jumped off rocks into the crystal clear sea. (if the parents ask, leave out the rock jumping…) The villages were built up the mountain side and dead-ended in the sea via cliffs or steep mountain trails down to the water. It didn’t look real. We thought life couldn’t get any better.

But then it did. We continued on to Nice and Cannes in France where we stayed in a beautiful mountain resort. The kids didn’t know Cannes, so I threw in a few Entourage references and they quickly caught on to where we were. The film festival wrapped up a few weeks before our arrival, and there were still lots of tents up. At night, each group of students were given their own apartment. We fancy. The next day, we toured Monaco where we saw the prince’s palace and Grace Kelley’s grave. One day I’ll live in a palace and next to my grave will be a spot for tourist to take pictures too. We took a bus up to St Paul de Vence which is a village that dates back to 400 b.c. Whoa. Back in Nice, we shopped, swam, road bikes along the narrow alleyways, explored, and people watched. Life was good.

From France, we continued on to Barcelona, Spain where we spent about half of our trip. The adults on the trip all agreed that this is a city we’ll be returning to without kids one day. The night life looked INCREDIBLE from afar. Barcelona gave us all (teachers and students alike) a wonderful adventure. We took the metro (we had a mini-tutorial on safe metro practices for the students) to La Sagrada Familia (which was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen–we felt guilty taking pictures of it because they just didn’t do it justice) and Parc Guell. We saw Gaudi buildings and theaters too. The most fun thing about Barcelona for me was walking along Las Ramblas (the Main Street in Barcelona). There was so much to see and do in Barcelona that three days just wasn’t enough. I will definitely be going back one day.

Believe it or not, we made it back to the states with nobody being pick-potted, robbed, hurt, or lost. The kids had a wonderful time, and so did I!!

I’m trying to plan my next great adventure. Please comment here and let me know where you’ve been, why you’ve loved it, and where you most want to go!

The city square

The city square

Fishing villages on the Med Coast of Italy

Fishing villages on the Med Coast of Italy

Anxiety Calls.

origin_5561412422I recently read an article on anxiety from author: Brianna Weist on the Thought Catalog called 7 Things in Your Life You Don’t Realize are Giving You Anxiety.

I found this article interesting because I agree with all points, but why stop at only 7? So I’d like to take the opportunity to add more.

 

“1. Having low blood sugar.

If you find your anxiety is at it’s worst as soon as you wake up, it could be because you’re blood sugar levels are low. Essentially, your brain uses sugar (glucose) as fuel. After having gone all night without that, if the levels are particularly low and/or drop too fast, it will trigger a “fight or flight” response that will send cortisol through your body to deal with the threat which, in this case, is low fuel.

2. Lacking structure.

The root of a lot of anxiety is the unknown. Though this often plays out in more generalized, dramatic ways (losing a job, being sick, etc.) having a routine is a simple way to keep your mind “knowing what’s next” and therefore a little less likely to get carried away with “what if’s.”

3. Identifying with it.

How many people do you know say: “I’m an anxious person?” (A lot, I imagine.) The more you identify yourself as being someone who is something as opposed to someone who occasionally experiences something (as we all do) the more it comes about and is harder to let go of. Rather than just being a feeling, it becomes a part of who you are.

4. Ignoring your gut instincts.

We’re so conditioned to deny any feeling that’s not “good” we completely miss the whole point of having a range of emotions. Granted, for some of us, those emotions can be irrationally present in various circumstances, but once in a while we often realize that our anxiety was signaling that something else was wrong, something we weren’t realizing. It’s not to enforce the A-Z logic that comes with panicking, but just to embrace the fact that our bodies give us messages for reasons, and there could be something you’re overlooking.

5. Being afraid to say what you’re afraid of.  

A lot of people find one of the most helpful exercises in getting rid of anxiety in the moment is to say out loud what you’re afraid of, and then dig and sift through it, why you’re afraid of it. Say it as a statement, and say it out loud. There’s some power in getting it out there. The more you repeat it, the less scary it becomes. Hidden things hold the most power, especially when they’re negative.

6. Being bored.

Unfortunately, as soon as our minds lose focus on one particular task, they tend to roam and find something else to worry about. We have a hard time just allowing ourselves to be happy, partially because as human beings, we’re animals programmed for survival. If there’s not enough going on in your life, you’ll find something to make a big deal out of to give yourself purpose — to use your “survival instincts” as you are meant to.

7. Engaging with social media too regularly.

When you subconsciously live your life and make decisions based on how they’re going to appear — to other people in your mind and more literally on social networks, you’re bound to have an abundance of anxiety over it. Studies show that social media is directly linked to a very new kind of anxiety, and honestly, it’s no wonder. There are whole anxiety disorders just based around needing to have your phone in your hand! Try dwindling your use or breaking away one site at a time. You’re not meant to live your life for the consumption of others, and never before has this been so readily prevalent as in the digital age.” – Brianna Weist

8. Unnecessary factors.

Whenever I feel like things are getting complicated I get anxiety. I always feel like things could get past the point of no return and there will be no way to simplify it again. Take this scenario for example (albeit menial): You want to invite a friend to dinner, but they are already with a friend, so they both decide to join. You friend’s friend looks you up on Facebook and realizes you have another friend in common and they know that friend isn’t doing anything for dinner, so they invite them. That person says, great! But, they were going to meet 3 other people for drinks. Why not add all the people together and get dinner and drinks? A new restaurant is chosen and they are all coming from the West side, so push it about an hour, (really 2). SEE?! Your quick dinner with a (one) friend at 7:30PM ends up being an all night event with 7 people at a place you never wanted to go at 9:30PM. HOW EXHAUSTING.

9. Temp Control

This may actually be a side effect more than an actual cause, but whenever a room is too hot or too cold, I can’t help but think it’s the end of the world. Especially if it’s hot. “Did I put on enough deodorant?”, “Am I sweating through this shirt?!”, “Is my makeup running off?!”. This is all awful and you know it. Not being able to adapt quickly to a drastic temperature change causes me extreme anxiety.

10. Being Misunderstood

This sucks. Being misunderstood is awful and makes me feel incredibly anxious every time. There’s that moment when you’re trying to confront the situation head on and rectify it before it’s too late. “Oh, I am sorry. I didn’t mean anything at all by saying your baby is ugly. It’s just that I think all babies are ugly. And loud. And generally uncomfortable for everyone not directly involved.” Ok, maybe that was a poor example, but what I meant to say was that I am trying to do the self scan at the grocery store and I cannot hold your ugly baby while it screams and shits itself so you run back for the milk you forgot. NO, THAT MAKES ME INCREDIBLY ANXIOUS!

Kristi added a few more, listed below:

11. Oceans and everything about them especially giant squids.

12. People assuming the wrong things about me. Not what people THINK about me, but what people are so sure they know about me that is actually false. “Kristi is crazy, she would totally help you rob that bank. I’ve known her for ten years she’s down for anything!” what?! no! “Kristi probably stole your mascara, she always takes everyones things” – no I don’t!

13. When you text someone something slightly weird, creepy, judgmental, argumentative, confrontational, lovey-dovey, whatever and you aren’t sure of how they are going to take it and you sit by your phone for 3 hours freaking out until they finally respond to say “Hey left my phone in the car! That’s fine!” and you’re like great timing, asshole.

Needless to say, I could possibly be fairly high strung, (and maybe Kristi is, too).  But, in my defense, I am a magnet for crazy people. I think the crazies see me and think that I am just like them (for some reason) and feel like they can really let their freak flag fly with me and I am over it. It brings me incredible anxiety.

photo credit: porschelinn via photopin cc

[Most] Speeding Tickets are Stupid

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 9.20.19 AMAs a post-college adult, I consider myself a fairly responsible citizen.

I pay my taxes, I don’t steal things, I support myself without the help of government aid, and I make sure my bills are paid on time. I am never involved in any trouble that would warrant the intervention of police, fireman, or any other government employee (unless you consider getting drunk with public school teachers on the weekends) and I’m fairly certain that I pay more into the system than I currently get in return. In America, the greatest country in the world, what do we get in return for being good citizens? Freaking speeding tickets for going 69 miles per hour on the INTERSTATE.

I HATE SPEEDING TICKETS.

Last Monday afternoon I was driving back to Indy from Nashville. I had been cruising along at about 8mph over the 70mph speed limit the entire drive. I pass through Louisville and see that the speed has dropped to 55mph and I start to decelerate gradually – being that it would be completely unnecessary to slam on my brakes in the middle of a four lane interstate to stay under a ridiculous speed limit. I would even say I was going along with traffic, and I am definitely positive of the fact that cars were going faster than me. I had gone from 78 down to 69 when I passed a cop sitting on the left shoulder of the interstate, just waiting to pull someone over. That someone at that second was me. He pulled me over onto the left shoulder, in bumper to bumper traffic, which was actually way more dangerous than me just driving the 69mph to begin with.

This kind sir walked up to my window, asked for my driver’s license and registration and walked away. No questions, no explanations, no time for me to attempt to charm him into a verbal warning. He was back within three minutes with my $154 ticket – definitely not his first rodeo. He stayed parked on the left side of the interstate waiting for the next poor soul he could find to fine to drive by, while I waited for over ten minutes for a “reasonable” time to re-enter the interstate. Do you know how hard it is to merge on to the fast lane of a four lane interstate coming from a complete stop? It’s hard. I almost caused a ten car pileup because so many people had to brake behind me – also a lot more unsafe than just letting me cruise at 69mph.

As I was fuming and driving away, I wondered to myself all of the things this police officer could be doing rather than sitting on the side of the highway, causing more troubles than he is fining people for… so I did a little research. Since I was pulled over in Jeffersonville, IN a little Google search informed me that “A research company has named Jeffersonville, Indiana one of the top most 100 dangerous cities in America.” Well that’s funny. Perhaps if they did less time sitting on the interstate giving speeding tickets to regular, good people driving home from vacation then they would have more time to solve more important (aka REAL) crimes such as rape and murder.

Don’t get me wrong, I have the upmost respect for police officers and at the end of the day I know they are just doing their job, hitting their speeding citation quotas, and putting their lives in danger to make the world a better place. I get it. So maybe in order for us to stop blaming them for stupid things like speeding tickets, we should rally to change the laws. WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING AN INTERSTATE IF YOU CAN ONLY DRIVE 55MPH ON IT? Someone change that bologna. In non-work zone areas, there should be a recommended speed, an ultimate max speed (like 100mph) that could prevent super reckless driving, and then people should be allowed to drive however fast they want.

If you aren’t putting other people or things in danger, what does it matter if you are driving 70mph on a road that was deemed by some safety engineer somewhere to only be suitable for 55mph driving? On I-465 here in Indy, the speed limit is 55mph, but I can guarantee you if you drive that slow you will get a lot of dirty looks and possibly a couple of middle fingers flashed at you along the way. There’s no point in having a ridiculous limitation set if 1) people don’t follow it anyways and 2) when they don’t follow it nothing bad happens, reinforcing the idea that it was stupid in the first place.

So here I am – forced to waste some of the little extra cash I have to pay a STUPID speeding ticket for doing absolutely nothing wrong but not slowing down fast enough on the interstate. I hope the city of Jeffersonville, IN takes my money that I’m sending to them, as well as everyone else’s who has gotten a ticket right there, and shoves it up their you-know-what. #rantover

 

My Relationships are Changing, and That’s OK

photoMy relationships are evolving.

Most are becoming less complicated, and those that aren’t I’m not fighting to keep up. It’s incredibly refreshing to have natural, free-flowing relationships that don’t have a ton of drama attached. The way I interact with my parents, my husband, my friends, and even myself is healthier than it has ever been.

I’m finally to the age where I view my parents as actual people. Up until age 25 (which coincidentally is the age a woman’s brain is fully developed), I viewed my parents as these all-knowing mythical creatures who somehow had the answers for everything. It turns out, they were right most of the time. Their all-knowing power came from nothing but experience–a trial and error process they had experienced and are now helping me through. They’re people, just like me (…I’m 50% each of them after all). They make mistakes; they crash land; they get back up and try again. As Nick and I consider when will be the right time to have kids, it’s hysterical to think that I’ll be making it up (the whole parenting thing) as I go along–just like my mom and dad did with me.

FINALLY, my friendships are natural and easy. I’ve found a group (albeit, a small one) of friends who understand me, and I understand them. Three of my five best friends are scattered across the country, and we’re just as close as ever–our definition of closeness is different now, since it’s not physical anymore, but our stories are far more entertaining because we’re on such different life paths. It’s nice; it’s easy–as I really believe friendship should be. We don’t fight, because what’s there to fight about? We don’t lie or cheat, because what’s the point? We’re happy for each other through good, and we’re sad for each other through the bad. We accept each other, through our many faults, and we share our experiences however different they are.

Nick and I are doing every single thing experienced couples told us not to do in our first year. We got married, started new jobs, and bought our first home all within a few months. We’ve been stressed, and often we’ve taken that stress out on each other. For twenty-four more hours, we share a one bedroom 600sqft apartment. These 600sqft have taught me one thing about marriage–it’s individual. My marriage isn’t like my brothers’ and sisters’ marriages. My marriage isn’t like what my friends’ are going to be. For us, and at this stage in our newlywed “bliss” (..insert extreme sarcasm here) we’re doing what works for us and our individual marriage. He likes me to cook him dinner, so I do. I like him to do all the “man things” like fix, carry, and hang stuff, so he does. Fighting has given way to strategic negotiating, and if one of us honestly wants something, the other concedes. I’ve been incredibly selfish in my relationships, so giving NIck 50% of every negotiation is a struggle (…he only gets 30%. Don’t tell him). We’re still finding out what works for us, and it’s fun figuring each other out.

My favorite piece of home decor is a square metal sign that I found at the dollar store in college. It reads, “Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did–but backwards and in high heels…” Doesn’t it just scream GIRL POWER?! As corny as it sounds, this sign has helped me believe in myself and my abilities as a woman. It’s about conquering silently, without any of the bragging rights. To me, the sign isn’t about recognition or the lack of acknowledgement Ginger Rogers got in the famous duo, but instead, about Ginger being so confident in herself that it didn’t matter what fame Fred Astaire got–in fact, Fred Astaire didn’t matter at all. Often, we find that our own successes are superseded or even ignored by others. This sign reminds me that it really, really, REALLY doesn’t matter what others think of me. If I’m doing my best, trying hard, and ultimately, as long as I’m good with God, then I’m good.

 

3 Things I Don’t Understand This Week

chapstick & fingernail clippers – can't work without em.

chapstick & fingernail clippers – can’t work without em.

A lot of things in this world confuse me. Typically after someone explains why something is a certain way, I can wrap my mind around it enough to move on and leave my state of confusion. Some things, however, I just can’t wrap my brain around. Let’s discuss them together.

1) Why do people get so grossed out by other people clipping their fingernails? I understand that according to societal standards clipping your nails in front of other people, in public, at work where others can hear you, wherever, is a giant no-no. The thing I don’t understand is WHY. Why can someone cough and sneeze and choke on their own snot all day but I can’t take thirty seconds to clip a broken nail? Why is this such a taboo act? There is nothing gross happening (to me, at least) and people get SO UPSET about the act of nail clipping.

2) Why does it cost so much to go to college? Since I have been out of college for a hot minute now and the only thing that remains of my time spent at Purdue is a box full of shot glasses and a giant student loan debt looming over my head, I have spent a lot of time thinking (and being bitter) about how much money I spent to attend college. There are people I know that didn’t get as good of grades as I did in high school, didn’t involve themselves in as many extracurriculars, and still got to go to college for free. I’m talking about full scholarship, grocery stipend, no student loan debt at all free. These people then failed multiple classes and took their precious time to graduate (don’t blame them) and are now starting their lives student-loan-debt free. If your parents are wealthy enough to pay for your college, good for them. If you are an excellent athlete, super full-ride scholastic genius, or have a great sob story to tell for a scholarship award – good for you. If you’re like the rest of us that have parents who work and are successful, but not quite successful enough to bank roll your $100k four year adventure, then join me in not being able to understand why the heck we will be paying for a semi-useless degree for the next thirty years when we could be using the money for other things…like saving it. Crazy idea, right?

3) Why don’t we all get a summer break? Teachers get multiple week (or longer) breaks a year.. in case you haven’t checked your Facebook news feed lately and haven’t seen the million teacher posts about summer vacation. Sure, they work hard and mold the future of America. But a lot of people in other profession’s work just as hard and barely get any vacation time at all. (Don’t even get me started on the numerous gifts they get throughout the year for just going to work.) European’s have government mandated vacation times, but here in the good ol’ USA we like to spend our spare time working more so we can pay off our aforementioned student loans. If we can’t take extra weeks off at a time, what about evening out the work life balance in general? Work five days a week, get two days off a week. It doesn’t take the brightest crayon in the box to tell you those don’t even out. I propose that we keep our forty hour work week, but work 12pm-5 on Monday, 7:30-6:30 Tuesday-Thursdays, and 8am-12:30pm on Fridays taking a thirty minute lunch each day. Ease ourselves in and out of the work week with a couple half days – think it over, corporate America.

If you can shed some light on any of my issues, I’d love to hear what you have to say. If you are interested in reforming the standard work week with me, just let me know. We’ll throw a petition together sometime.

 

Orange is the New Everything

o-ORANGE-IS-THE-NEW-BLACK-570This weekend I binge-watched the second season of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and it was worth all 13.5 hoursspent. If you can believe it, this season was even better than the last, despite the first episode totally sucking. After watching the full season, I have a few questions, concerns and demands…

QUESTIONS: Are we ever going to figure out exactly what happened to everyone? In both seasons we get to spend each episode learning more about a specific character. Great, right?! No, they leave us hanging without any knowledge of what ended up happening. I am sure there is some deeper meaning behind it, like that whatever crime they’ve committed is not important. That whatever it was doesn’t define these women within the confines of their new lives behind bars. And in a way I agree, but it becomes a double edge sword. The audience doesn’t want to know more because it evens the playing field. They are all in a minimum security prison, so they all did about the same level of wrong, correct?! Wrong again. But, also, do I want to know? These flashbacks do humanize the characters a bit more. We can connect with them on a deeper level because the stories are painted in a light, where nearly everyone can empathize.
CONCERNS: This new character, Vee, shakes things up in the prison, which I appreciated A LOT mainly because I don’t think I could have sat through 13.5 hours more of Piper being a whiney bitch. I loathed her character in the first season. She was unrelatable and in the dichotomy of her home life and her prison life – I wanted to slap her. The incredibly amazing and deep roots created by the other characters really pulled me in.

Praise Pennsatucky, Piper gets over it in season 2! Which allows us to focus on the other more interesting characters and how they are relating and interacting with each other. Don’t worry though, they filled the quota for the annoying, whiney bitch – her name is Soso and I guarantee that you hate her, but at least you don’t feel guilty – she really is a dumb twat.

After this season, she cannot have more time in jail, they just added onto her sentence and then what JENJI?!!

DEMANDS: Pouseey or P really stepped up this season and wins all of our hearts. She reminds us that if you stand up for what you believe in, it may suck, but you’ll be better off in the end. Look forward to hearing more about Morello, too.

I know I’m excited to hear more about Piper’s push to expose the prison system for how terrible it is. I guess I demand more answers, more laughs, more great one-liners, more character interactions, more unnecessary fighting, more background stories, more insiders knowledge to what’s happening to these women in our prisons – but, alas we have to wait until next frigggin’ June.
I hate/love you, Netflix.

The Power of Karma – The good, the bad, and the deserved

Hippy tree hugging

Mom is a Karma show-off

In the Buddhist culture, Karma is the idea that your actions (whether good or bad) at the present will determine your future fate. As the daughter of the queen of the hippies, I was raised to trust in the great and powerful will of karma. The whole “do unto others” idea wasn’t lost on me; that’s for sure.  Unfortunately for me, I went through a few “stages” where I consciously chose to hurt others… and it definitely caught up to me.

To the girl who I sang nasty rhymes about  in high school–you win. I was out for a jog on Monday, and I was struggling for sure–I haven’t really ran since the wedding. I was jamming out to some late 90s hits (the best, I know), when a group of teenagers pulled up beside me in a car. At first, I thought they might have been my students, so I slowed down, turned to them, took out my ear buds, and smiled–waiting for someone to poke their head out and say, “Hey Mrs. Jones!” Didn’t happen. They did poke their heads out…. and “Mmooooooooooo’d” at me.  That felt nice. Touche Karam, touche.

To the girl I picked on in middle school–you win. You’ve been a  finalist for Ms. Indiana, and you’re easily one of the most beautiful people I’ve seen in real life. Not only are you beautiful, you’re nice, smart, and I hear you’re funny too. Want to be friends?? I’m really sorry about 12-year-old-Abbie (she’s such a B****, I agree!!).

I asked my friends (who shall remain nameless) what a few of their bad-Karma stories were, and this is what they said:

Guy Friend 1: We were a food festival last week. A girl in line behind us had a beard-a full on beard. I stared. I said a few choice words to my buddy whose facial hair wasn’t coming in as nicely as this girls’. Karma–I got my first gray hairs today.

Girl Friend 1: I was awful to my little sister growing up. I beat her up, called her bleeping bleepy little bleep–and you’re fat too. Now she’s graduating summa cum laude from a top university, has already been offered FOUR jobs, and there’s no doubt that she’s my parents favorite. Cool. I just moved into their basement.

Girl Friend 2: In high school, I told this guy I wouldn’t date him because he smelled. Well, he started wearing deodorant. Then he went on to become a mechanical engineer and works in Europe. His girlfriend is basically a supermodel. I work at Geico on the phones.

There is a moral  story to these Karma tales, and it’s fairly simple . The Karma spirits are real, and they’re definitely out to get you. Keep it clean; keep it nice; keep it friendly, and always remember- do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

What are some of the funnier Karma “got-cha’s” you’ve experienced? I would love to hear all about them — maybe they’ll make me feel better!

Girls Guide to Living On a Budget:

small__11657524815There are some very true assumptions about Hollywood and some false. I am going to touch on one that I have struggled with for years:”isn’t LA super expensive?”
Well, yes and no. Anywhere is expensive if you live a crazy lifestyle. Since my lifestyle entails going out a lot, it can get expensive. So today I am going to go through some money saving tips that I have picked up through the years.
#1. You don’t have to always get a drink. If you’re like me you’re going out 4 or 5 nights a week and that can definitely add up. If it’s a commitment that I have made, sometimes I go and do the fake-em out drink. I order a water with lime and no one knows the difference.
#2. Carry a flask. The dollar store carries a collapsible “water” container for (you guessed it) $1. I fill it up with my drink of choice and carry it on my person. Worst case scenario, you have to throw it away- it was only $1. If the plan works you can save yourself the $11-$15/ drink.
#3. This one is not drink related but food related. There are several grocery stores in LA that have very reasonable produce, Trader Joe’s being one of them. I recommend grocery hoping. Especially if TJ’s is close to any other major grocery chain. I promise you, if you’re trying hard enough you can get a weeks worth of groceries for under $60.
#4. Pick and chose your battles. If you have a friend in town or a birthday to go to- go out to eat. Otherwise, save that money, giiiirl. I know it’s tempting to get chipotle when you’re over it, but don’t do it! That’s $10 you’ll never see again. Ok, maybe Chipotle is worth it, but delivery and take out is most definitely not!
#5. I watch my fuel. There are several arguments against this, but it’s been working for me for years. Some times you’re driving along and you just need gas, I won’t negate that. In LA you can hit the most inopportune neighborhoods at the worst time- don’t buy into it! If I am driving through Beverly Hills and I need gas, I get $10 worth until I reach a more affordable area. Some people argue that you waste gas when you buy in small increments, but I say get your booty to a cheaper gas station if you can.
#6. Entertainment. Sometimes you’re just going to want to get those concert tickets – and you should, you earned them. Make sure you check StubHub and Craigslist first, but do it! Otherwise, check all your friends and see if any of them knows somebody that knows somebody that works for the venue. Also, befriend someone that works at an agency. They have access to all the best tv shows and films and they can help a sister out from time to time. Dinners? Check Groupon! There’s always a way to save money on entertainment in LA!
#7. Rides. We really don’t have a reliable method of public transit here, but luckily we have Lyft and Uber. They can certainly add up after a long weekend, but I guarantee that they will cost less than a DUI! Also, they are all much more reliable and much cheaper than cabs.
I would love more tips on saving money, if you have them please comment below! From one penny pincher to many more, there’s always a way to get a discount!

photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc

So We Decided to Get a Puppy…

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 4.22.51 PM Meet Maizy – supposedly her mom was an Airedale terrier mix and her dad was a Jackhuahua, aka a Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix. We had seen pictures of her before we adopted her but none of them had anything where we could reference just how tiny she was… only three pounds! She was born on March 28th somewhere around Cincinnati and we were lucky enough to drive to Ohio the Saturday before Memorial Day to adopt this little nugget. We are absolutely obsessed with her.

Brandon and I have wanted to get a dog for some time now (both individually and together) but wanted to wait until summer for training purposes, until we found a reasonably priced puppy to adopt from a shelter, and until we found a puppy whose breed we believed would fit our lifestyles well. We researched, planned, discussed, argued (sleep in bed or sleep in crate? debate still ongoing..) about how we would handle a little pup before we even applied to adopt one, but I think our crazy amount of preparation is what is helping making little Maizy’s transition to our home easier. She’s already learned her name, what “no” means, has minimal accidents in the house, and can even sit and lay down on command! She’s almost too smart for her own good. She’s not a fan of her crate AT ALL, but I think her stays in there during the day are getting a little more pleasant… now if only we could sleep through the night in there! (I totally sound like a puppy mom right now, my apologies.)

We may have only had our little girl for over a week, but I can tell that it was one of the best decisions we’ve made together. A lot of people recently have felt the need to unsolicitedly voice their concern about some decisions I (and others I know) have made in life, and one of those opinions was on getting a dog with my boyfriend. Since I consider myself to be a well-educated, fairly mature, responsible 25 year old adult, it is almost condescending to consistently hear people second guess, or judge, my decisions and feel the need to voice their concerns about how I’m living my life. While I know my friends, coworkers, and whoever else aside from family (who have all been 100% supportive in every decision I’ve made) only have my best interests at heart, I think it’s a little crazy that I still have to have the “It’s my life – let me live it” talk with people after the age of 18. Especially since I feel I haven’t made many mistakes in my past to warrant such judgmental behavior from outsiders.Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 4.22.42 PM

We aren’t in high school, we aren’t in college, I don’t sit around wondering what I’m going to do with my life at night while eating Ramen noodles in my parent’s basement. I wake up, go to work, come home, maybe work out – maybe watch trashy tv, do some chores, make dinner, go to sleep, repeat. Since I’m at the place I’d love to continue working and living for a few years, I don’t see what exactly is going to change and why my situation would warrant everyone flipping out about me adopting a puppy. I’m an adult now. This is my life. My life now involves a puppy. If this makes you uncomfortable, please keep your opinions to yourself.

People need to remember that what may be considered a big step in life to one person, is probably not considered a big step in life to someone else. Think before you decide to cynically judge your friends, family, and co workers personal decisions if you know they are of sound mind to think for themselves. If something goes wrong, then it goes wrong. Be there to support them, not tear them down for not listening to you in the first place.

If I had listened to all the judgers and worry warts in the world, I wouldn’t have woken up to kisses from the cutest little poof ball this side of the Mississippi – and from Maizy too. If one day I don’t get to wake up and get those kisses, then at least I’ll know I can look back and be happy that I made the decision to do what I wanted, when I wanted to do it. After all, having no regrets is the only way to live.

PS – I can think of a few people reading this post right now that might think I’m essentially referring to them, but I’m not. This was a culmination of thoughts provoked by myself, and many conversations with people in similar situations to myself. Any resemblance to any real life situation is merely coincidental – love you all!

 

Home Makeover on a Budget

Our Little Home

Our Little Home

My husband Nick and I had an accepted offer on a house in a great neighborhood, with a huge yard, and more rooms than we have furniture to fill! It was a perfect house–for someone with a much larger repair budget than us. The house was a bankruptcy that needed a LOT of work, and luckily for me, Nick and his family could do the work that the seller disclosed. We put about $2,000 in the house before closing on inspections, appraisals, and contractors, just to find out that the house needed about $12,000 more in foundation repairs before we could even move in. The seller (the bank in our case) refused to make the repairs, and we were stuck–out $2,000 with an apartment lease that is ending mid-June. The search continued, but our expectations were high on our limited budget.

Luckily, after searching for what seemed like centuries, we found a cute little house in an area we love. We put an offer on it last week, and we’re hoping to hear some good news soon! The house is small, but the yard is big, and the work that needs done is minimal. I’m really looking forward to spending my summer making this house my first home. And with Pinterest on my side, there’s no telling where my sanding, staining, crafting, and painting will take me!

My first project is to take our mismatched, hand-me-down dressers, and make them look like they belonged together since birth! You see, Nick and I are cheap, but in the way I think most twenty-somethings should be cheap. We have a retirement fund going strong, and we’re well on our way to a fully funded emergency fund. I don’t see dressers and other home furnishings as needs–they’re wants. So until I can afford new Crate and Barrell furnishings, I’ll copy their styles using Pinterest plans like this one that I’m going to use to make our completely mismatched dressers match with dark stain and new hardware. Instead of dropping $1,000 on new dressers, I’ll drop $60 and make them look like they cost thousands!

The next step to making our new house a home will be fencing in the yard and making it an oasis. The best part about this house is its location. It’s in an older neighborhood with a private yard and mature trees, and it’s close to everything a 20-something would want their house to be close to–shopping, trails, and nightlife! Right now, the yard needs some work. We plan on fencing the entire yard in for under $2,500 by doing it ourselves. We’ll buy wood boards, stain them ourselves, and use a horizontal fencing style like this one to make it have a modern edge. Luckily I have summers off, so you know where I’ll be all June and July–out in the yard!

Nick’s summer chores include not only putting up the fence boards that I’ll be staining, but expanding the closet in the master bedroom. Eventually (within 2 years) we’re going to convert the garage into a true master using plans like this one that I found (shockingly..) on Pinterest! The garage is finished now, but it needs a transformation with carpet, paint, and drywall to make it livable space.

This whole house-buying thing has been an experience, but I can’t wait to really make my new house our home using some of these easy Pinterest techniques. What easy tips have you used on your house or apartment to make it your own?