Book Report – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

February 16, 2016

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It’s Tuesday already! Usually, the worst day of the week, but today it’s not so bad as it is a day closer to Friday because of the holiday yesterday. I am pushing through my moods and trying to really appreciate what I have. I had sunshine for the last week, I got a good tan this weekend at the beach, we have HUGE steaks (thanks pop!) in the broiler right now, I have some whiskey in my system and I am so lucky in so many other ways. I just have to trust that everything is going to work out the way it is supposed to. So – with the sound of sizzling meat in the oven, I thought I would crank out my thoughts on the second book I read so far this year, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Now that I have read this book, I am hearing from most of my friends that they have read it when they were younger and loved it, but as we all know – I didn’t read when I was younger, so the time is now. Ready?

I told you that I asked all my friends for their favorite (or one of their top 3) book(s) of all time. So, when each book lands at my doorstep, I take it very seriously and I almost feel like someone has just handed me a piece of their soul. So, let me start this off by saying that this book was loaned to me by someone  I hold in very high regard. Someone who I know has so many parallels to my own being – we have very similar taste, life experiences and thoughts. There was a casual mention of this book the last time I saw my friend and I mentioned that I think I had seen the movie, but I am told, for the most part, that books are always better than the movies that portray them. So, even though I think I had luke warm feelings about the movie, I was intrigued by the book, but even more by my friend’s adoration for it. The book came with a casually written post-it that read “I hope you love this book as much as I did, it will suck you right in and change you”.

The book opens in the style that it keeps the whole way through. It starts with “Dear Friend,” and proceeds with stories delivered via a letter to an anonymous person (I thought writing this post in the same vein, calling the person who loaned it to me “Friend” and leaving him/her anonymous, would be fun). It is told from the perspective of the main character, a 15-year-old high school freshman who has just experienced a major loss, his name is, Charlie. He is someone who I think everyone who reads this book can identify with in some regard. He is emotional, he is vulnerable, he struggles with anxiety, he wants to belong and have friends and fall in love. The description could be talking about any of us, regardless of social status, in school, right? Charlie was different in many ways than people I thought I knew in school. He was emotional and not really able to hold it back, he wanted to belong, but not in the traditional sense, he didn’t believe in a false exterior to make people like you more, he believed in being genuine. He wanted friends, but did not want to be the popular kid in school, he just wanted the people he thought were special to reciprocate the sentiment. I liked him. I felt a connection to him right away. I wanted to hug him and tell him that “Everything was going to be okay”. I was in his corner from the beginning.

The book progresses and introduces you to Charlie’s family and its casual dysfunction, a teacher of Charlie’s that is a mentor, not only in academia, but in life and introductions are made to new friends that become the center of Charlie’s freshman year of high school as well as his educators on surviving his teenage years. Charlie also goes into his history on events that have shaped his fragile existence. We hear snippets of pretty horrible incidents that he has been witness to and you feel the seriousness of a lot of these situations and start to realize that Charlie is a lot more resilient and strong than he originally appears. He became, to me at least, a sort of hero and a sign of hope.

While reading this book, I was fondly reminiscing on my life in my last two years in high school, I was reminded for my love of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and how I started a club with my friend to talk all things RHPS. I remembered a zine that the same friend and I started that concentrated on music, poetry and art. I thought about my first experiences getting drunk, the first time I fell in love, the first time I felt heartbreak, times that I surprised myself with my courage, the first time I formed opinions that I wasn’t willing to compromise and all the awkwardness of being in high school came rushing right back. It was cathartic in a sense, as I hadn’t thought about a lot of those feelings and memories in a really long time. The trip down memory lane was intense and satisfying.

The thing that surprised me most about this book, and maybe made me glad that I read it at the ripe age of 32, was that I didn’t just insert myself in the rousing of high school happenings, but I realized that there were so many lines I could draw connecting my current self to most of the characters in the book. The feeling of longing for something that you prematurely got used to, the idea that you may be more invested in something than you realized, the excitement of feeling like you belong to something “infinite”, the fear of outwardly showing how you are feeling on the inside, the helplessness you feel when your mind starts to think too much and you can’t tell it to stop, the curiosity and eagerness to learn and experience new things and also the need to say “Yes” and accommodate everyone you come in contact with, even at the sacrifice of your own true happiness or comfort. This sounds so somber, but it actually made me happy. Like when your therapist makes you calm down because you are one in a million people who feel the way you do and are experiencing the same thing. You feel a sense of sameness and comfort, but also see that though Charlie struggles and hits bottom, as do his friends, they always rise above it with acceptance and understanding. They meet each other with a smile, optimism and compassion. I am not sure how much this book changed me, but I keep thinking about it even though I finished it 5 days ago, so maybe time will tell, stay tuned.

I tried not to give too much of it away, though, I am sure most of you have read it already. Even if you have read it before, I urge you to read it again, as an adult. Maybe you will get something more out of it. It is short and an easy read. DO IT.

I also want to make mention of one of the best parts of the book – the playlist that Charlie makes in the book. I love that the author exposes you to every detail of music playing throughout. They are all familiar songs, some that may not have been my favorite, but have new meaning for me now. From the Smiths, to the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana – find my Spotify playlist entitled: The Perks and you will find every song mentioned in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Listen to it while you read the book, it was fabulous. Also a good soundtrack for reading this book is not chronologically a match, but set the mood, anything by FUTURE ISLANDS. Try it – I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks to my friend who introduced me to this, we will talk about it, at length, someday soon.

Alright everyone, time to scoop myself a little Thrifty’s Rainbow Sherbert and wind down for the evening. My next Book Report will be on The Alchemist. Can you believe I am such a reader now? Fucking never thought it would happen. Loving it! Until next time…

Book Report – Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey

February 13, 2016

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Dear friends – I have been so absent lately. Apologies. My life is often busy, rarely too much to handle and even more rare is when I am so bogged down that I just don’t have time for the things that I really love to do. Writing to you is, most definitely, one of my most favorite things to do. I have had some issues going on that have been consuming my brain as of late. I never really go into massive detail on this blog because I just don’t know if it is really relevant, but just the fact that I am struggling at life a bit, is enough for you to know the head space I am in. Through all of the noise, I have managed to find quite a few things that have put huge smiles on my face. Books, surprisingly, have been one of those things!

I have NEVER been a reader. I don’t know what it is, I am a creative who thinks she has a pretty active and vivid imagination, but for some reason, I always liked stories played out for me in theater and film. I think mostly, the reason is that I could always multi task while watching a movie, I could be making jewelry, cooking dinner, playing on the computer, etc. and could still have a movie playing in the background and be able to follow it. When you read books, that was what you were doing, your nose in a book and nothing else. I am a multi-tasker that has never had time for books. Ha. Even in high school and college, I just took crazy good notes and was amazingly able to ace the tests, essays, etc. So, in truth, I think the last time I have read a full book was maybe in high school. So – 17 years ago?? Gawd – I sound so fucking old.

So, this year I wanted to have a strategy to force myself to take it easy and relax a little bit this year, so I made the resolution on New Year’s to read at least one book a month for the entire year. I wasn’t going to push myself too hard because what if it was harder for me to get into than I realized?

I pushed the idea out to my friends, asked for suggestions, but then asked for one better, I wanted the actual physical books that they had read. I always felt that it would mean more, I would feel more, if it was the actual book that they held, carried with them and read in various places, while varied happenings were occurring in their lives. My first ask was my sister, Becca. She has always had her nose in a book. She swears to this day, that books are her life. She gets so excited about what she reads and I was happy to let her know that she could finally start sharing these “happies” with me. She was thrilled by the idea and brought me two books literally 3 days after I had announced one of my resolutions.

The books were both by author James Frey. I started with her favorite  – Bright Shiny Morning. When I asked what it was about, she said that it was a bunch of stories that were all put together. That is pretty much all she gave me, but I was excited. The book, itself, was 500 pages (I think I have been exaggerating that fact to 700 if any of you reading this have talked about it with me in person, apologies, I tend to be a BIT of an exaggerator. Ha.) and I was a little intimidated by the thickness of the book, but I was one sleep away from a plane ride to Salt Lake City where I would have nothing better to do for a couple of hours than to dive in.

I started the book and was a little confused by a couple of things. First, I had never read a book that did not have proper punctuation. There were sentences that were fused into one run on sentence and there weren’t a lot of commas in spots where I thought there maybe should have been, so I had to re-read lines multiple times until I got used to his flow. Then, it starts with some history about Los Angeles, EARLY history. Then it launches into a flurry of stories about people either moving to L.A. escaping their current, dim situation or growing up in L.A. It explores lives of the rich and famous, but also the lives of the homeless in Venice and hits a human interest story everywhere in between. All of the stories were centered in Los Angeles County and I was grateful for that, as I grew up in California and could put some more colorful thought into the settings they were all in.

It was an interesting cadence of storytelling. Sometimes a story would last 8 pages and then you would be brought back for the next chapter in that particular story about 30 pages later and sometimes you didn’t come back to a story at all. All of them, though, were separated by the next chronological installment of the history of areas of interest in Los Angeles. You would get snippets about how Beverly Hills was once owned by lima bean farmers and then turned into a source for water for L.A., but you also got the history of gangs in L.A. County; the names of all the gangs and to which ethnicity they were attached to. It was all very interesting as a California native and current resident.

There are 3 or 4 stories that carry all the way through the entire book. All three are different enough to represent three completely different worlds within the same cities in which the characters would most likely NEVER cross each other’s paths. You have emotional attachment to all of the characters and all stories come to an end that you can accept, but it does leave you wanting a little more. There are not really any happy endings, but realistic enough to make you okay with it.

There were also stories that I wanted to see more of. The immigrant who had a dream of building something that families could enjoy together and have fun doing. He eventually builds a mini golf/arcade park and his dream comes to life, until the times aren’t as eager for that type of entertainment anymore and he has trouble keeping the doors open and his dreams eventually get crushed. What happens to him?? What about the college football phenom from Watts that got paralyzed in a car crash, but still got the girl and the family and the education? What happened to him? It left me itching for more bits of information. Even at the end of the book, at the end of the month it took me to read it, I was still thinking about characters that I was introduced to only once.

There were even random, runs of factoids that occur twice in the book, almost like an intermission of sorts. There he told you really random laws, facts about the county. i.e. it became legal to marry a rock in L.A. in the 50’s and it is still legal. Some lady married a piece of granite when it passed. There are also laws that still exist about herding sheep down busy city streets, though this would NEVER happen any longer. They are entertaining, a bit random, but add to the feel of the book as an almanac of sorts. It almost felt like a cooperative effort in which it was a compilation of different authors in one, but it was not.

Okay, I hope I didn’t ruin anything for you. I tried to leave the meat of the main stories out of it in case you decide to read it. All in all, my first completed read of the last 13 years was a success. It took me the whole month (minus 4 days) to read it all, but it was nice to have something to come back to in the absence of things to do. I already finished my second book of the year, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I will try to write something up on that Monday. Stay tuned. Until next time…

NYC Christmas Windows

December 20, 2015

It’s a quiet Sunday night in our little Santa Barbara tree house. It’s finally been cold in town after what felt like an entire extra season of Summer weather. I have the heater on and am snuggled under blankets with the pups. I think I told you guys that I have really not been feeling Christmas this year. It is the first year in my whole life I haven’t had a tree. I don’t have a stitch of holiday decor at all around the house. What the eff is wrong with me? Who am I? I was being kind of hard on myself for my lack of holiday cheer, but finally realized that I just have to do what feels right for me. If that means no Christmas tree and no decorations this year, than that is what it means. I hate to use the “busy” card, but what else can I say? All my work trips stacked up on me this year and are blending with the holidays a bit too much. I am making a very conscious effort to not be upset at myself for the lack of holiday spirit, the lack of multiple blog posts a week and overall – just making sure I take care of me and be happy. I am still getting out a ton and hanging with friends as well as keeping in touch with friends who do not live close. I am pretty darn happy with how everything is rolling out this holiday season. So – I am finally sitting down to show you guys some store windows from NYC. Again – it is going to be a bit more of a photo stream than an actual story, but you will get the gist. Enjoy and I think you will see me posting at least one more time before the holiday hits. Here is a look at some fantastic NYC Christmas Windows from this season.

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To start off with, Swarovski Crystal is celebrating their 120 year anniversary this year. Bergdorf Goodman was helping shine a spotlight on the celebration by using millions of crystals and pearls in their displays. Take a close look at the displays and you will see that everything is dripping in crystal beauty. Even the floor on this display is all tiny little crystals. It was so beautiful to see up close.

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They also had windows with some moving parts. The sun was out in full force, so apologies if there is some glare on the pictures.

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In addition to the stunning windows at Bergdorf’s – I snapped a couple from Anthropologie just for kicks. I had so many more, but they all came out fuzzy. There were so many people around that it was super hard to take photos without people’s big heads in the way.

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It was kind of a weird theme to me, baking, to sell clothes and the feeling of the holiday. I guess baked goods go hand in hand with the holidays, but… I thought it was a little bit of a stretch. The windows were just as stunning as usual though. That is all I have today. I will try and get a drink recipe out to you guys later this week! Until Next Time…

4 days in New York City

December 9, 2015

Happy almost Thursday! The week is chugging by rather quickly. I am fighting a sore throat/cold and I have a ton of work that I am catching up on after being gone for a week and a half, but I am still in good spirits. There is still a lot to be happy about in my world right now. So much. Lots of love and great vibes all around. I thought I would just bring you in on my time in NYC. I already showed you the street art findings, but I thought next I would rattle off the restaurants, bars and other places we journeyed to and indulged in. There are also pictures in case you just want to scroll and not read anything. Enjoy!

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Day one –
* Cafe Katja – Lower East Side – our favorite restaurant in the LES. Austrian – I always go.
* Rockwood Music Hall – Lower East Side – two buildings, two stages, music all night, every night – get a wristband and go into both spots.

Day Two
*Guggenheim Museum – Uptown – Alberto Burri Exhibit
* Vanessa’s Dumplings – Chinatown – Met a cool dude named Chris that said that the Chinatown location is the only one to go to. It is cheaper and more delicious said he.
* Mother’s Ruin – Nolita – Amazing bar – order the Inbred Donkey – a whisky drink that is YUM and the fried chicken salad with poached pears. So delicious.
*Tacombi at Fonda Nolita – Get transported to Mexico City. Amazing interiors with surprises around every corner. Food is good, drinks are great. Go for ambiance and snacks.

Day Three
* Momofuku Noodle Bar – East Village – a must go. We all know David Chang by now – go for lunch to beat the huge crowds. Ramen is on point. Best of my life.
* ABC Carpet and Home – The best for gifts, home and furniture. So good. It was a Christmas wonderland.
* Dudley’s – Lower East Side – amazing cocktails, intimate and vibey setting and delicious food. Get the Schnitzel.
* Roberta’s – Bushwick, Brooklyn – The best pizza of my life. The best atmosphere. We always travel for Roberta’s. They have it all simple and delicious.

Day Four
* Freeman’s – The Bowery – YUM times ten. Order the mac and cheese and the Freeman’s cocktail. You will die, in a good way.
* The Dressing Room – Divey bar in the middle of a vintage store. Get ready to be treated rudely, pay cash and possibly get molested, again, in a good way.

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Until next time…

NYC Street Art

December 7, 2015

I am back home again – well – for a little bit, that is… How are you all? I feel like I have so much to tell you all. Not only did we have one of the best Thanksgiving’s we have ever had, but Ant and I just got back from NYC. So – for starters – Thanksgiving – we went to my parent’s house in Irvine, like we do most holidays and it was my turn to cook the meal. I have done it a couple times in the past, but never for my pop. I was a little worried that something would go wrong, or that he might be a tad bit controlling over the whole process, but he completely let go and let me do what I wanted to. What I loved the most was that I was able to take the pressure off my pop and he was able to just sit and enjoy the family and have fun. We played games, drank and had the best time ever. I whipped up dinner with ease and it was all delicious! Nailed it. The days that followed involved a ton of family and reuniting with old friends, it was just a lovely 5 days. Then, we were off to NYC for another 5 days. Phew!

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I have been going to NYC for at least once a year for the past 6 years. I used to go with my old job for the NY Gift Show and then, once I left that job, I felt a need to be back in the city and it’s energy. So, Ant and I make a shopping, eating and discovery pilgrimage to my favorite city once a year to keep up with all the newness that New York has to offer. I will share our favorite spots we hit this trip in a couple days, but I wanted to share some art with you today. We went to the Guggenheim to see an Alberto Burri exhibit and it was amazing. Hands down, one of the most interesting shows I have ever seen. He used mixed media like paper, fabric, paint, tar and plastics to make 3 dimensional, multi-texture works of art. He also used fire to make the pieces have an added dimension. It was inspiring. BUT – I also found so much street art that was also inspiring. So many colors and so many textures. I took a bunch of photos I thought I would share with you. Let me know what you think.

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That’s all I got! I hope you guys enjoyed this art as much as I did seeing it in person. There is so much more, but these were the highlights. I loved that i got to see one in progress and the others are so original and on the most unexpected places. More content on the next post – new restaurant suggestions and more. Until next time…

A Week in Knoxville, TN

November 24, 2015

Guys – it has been seriously so long! I am so sorry. I have been more preoccupied as ever. Between work, social life and everything else in between, I have not had time to think, let alone formulate a blog post. I just got back from our annual GOA show in Knoxville, TN and went from 5 days there to 4 days in Nashville. I thought I would recap the whole experience. Today I thought I would recap Knoxville and Nashville I will get to later this week. Now – bear with me – I don’t have really great pics, but wanted to recap some great restaurants and bars for you if you ever find yourself there.

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The trip started off a little rough. Anthony drove me to LAX and I boarded the red-eye around 11 PM. I slept the whole ride out to Atlanta – only about 4 hours, then freshened up a bit on the layover and then flew for another hour to Knoxville. Easy. Not much sleep, but I was on a bit of a high, so I was good. I went to grab my bag from the carousel, but there was no bag in sight. I went to the baggage office and they said my bag was still in LA. GAH. I was literally one step up from wearing my pjs. I had no change of clothes and I had to go to work. I hate not being presentable. I had a tee shirt dress on with a grandpa sweater and chucks. I looked horrible. Not only did I go out in public and meet the guys for breakfast (soaking up the fryer smell of the restaurant in my sweater the whole time), but I unloaded pallets and set up in a dress in 50 degree weather. The guys wanted to go to lunch and I could NOT go out in public like this again. I found a pair of leggings in my bag and a XXL see through white tee with the DELTA emblem on it from the airline in their “oops we lost your luggage” kit. I changed into it. I looked even worse. I asked the front desk where the nearest clothing store was. She guided me to an urban outfitters. I was trying to sneak out of the hotel without anyone seeing me, but of course, I saw a couple of my buyers in the most humiliating outfit I have ever put on. The guys got me out of there and proceeded to start picking outfits for me in UO. I was so embarassed, I told them to quit suggesting and let me do my thing. I was a speed shopper and found some new undies and an outfit. I threw it on and wanted to burn the other clothes I had on. I felt like a new woman. It is crazy how much of a difference an outfit makes; not just to overall appearance, but also to my confidence and how I held myself. So – there was that. The rest of the trip, however, was totally good.

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Let me continue by explaining just exactly how trade shows work in our industry. We work hella hard all day – talking, selling and putting that smile on. I’m sure a lot of people probably think it’s an act, but in the outdoor industry, the people are so solid. Even though you are working a lot of the time, there is not a terrible person in the bunch and we all believe in the product we are selling. I can genuinely say that I respect, love and have so much fun with everyone I work with. It is also like a family Reunion at every one of the trade shows we go to. We spent Monday though Friday at the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Show selling the TOAD line, catching up on each other’s lives and talking business. It was exhausting, but I can genuinely buy into the cliche saying: “We work hard so we can play hard”. Every night we made sure we unwound with a cocktail or two (or 8 bottles of wine) and ventured through the night.

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 was the best support system I could imagine. Even though we got an average of 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night, we were pumped and ready to KILL IT every day. I even kept up with my workouts – believe it or not. If I didn’t, I know I would have been hungover every day. While we were in Knoxville for the show, we not only frequented some great bars, but we ate some good food too! Here’s what I would suggest:

Eat at:
* Knox Mason –  New Age Southern food, great cocktails and interesting twists on old favorite dishes. YUM. Also has a great ambiance. Service can be tricky, but worth it.
* Cru Bistro – more access to southern food, but also had a lot of other good eats and amazing cocktails. Sit at the bar before going into Knox Mason or stay for dinner. Such friendly, good service too!
*The French Market – Great breakfast/Brunch – amazing sweet and savory crepes. They have indoor and outdoor seating, too which is a major plus!
*Sunspot Restaurant – An American restaurant next to the university. The drinks are a little weak, but the food is good and it is usually hopping with people, so it has great energy.
*Tupelo Honey – I have not been here yet, but I heard that it is really great. Southern food with some soul. I am definitely going to try it next time I am in town.

Drink:
* Peter Kern Library – A speakeasy in the Oliver hotel. You can access it through an alley with only a red light on the outside letting you know where it is. You can also enter through a hallway to the bathroom from the hotel or hotel restaurant. They have some really great cocktails, although I had one that I thought tasted like pickle juice that I made a sour puss face every time I took a sip, but everyone else’s drinks were on point.
*Clancy’s Tavern – A whiskey bar above all whiskey bars. They have tasting flights! The flights are not some wimpy pours, either. Full, oversized shots and great service. Delicious and we all had such a wonderful time! Get ready to get tipsy.
* Cotton Eyed Joe – I have also not been here, but I heard from plenty of people that it is a great spot to go and listen to love music. No joke – the cab driver said that Old Dominion had just played an impromptu show there the day before I got there! Ah. Just missed them.

I think that is all that is fit to print on my week in Knoxville – We were indoors all day, so all our great times were at night, but I am sure there is a lot more to do in Knoxville, this was just my take on it. Sorry for the short post, but I will try and recap our Nashville weekend by Friday! Until next time…

Potek Winery – Santa Barbara

October 27, 2015

Finally!! I have been in Sales Meeting lala land for a whole week. You guys know how it is by now since I write about our sales meetings every 6 months or so. We got to see all our sales rep friends and spent every night laughing and drinking and having a great time. BUT – its time to get back to real life. The relaxed life with a glass of wine every night, not 5 and without Wednesday night flip cup competitions. Ha. What else has been going on? Well – we have had a lot of friends come by the house and visit, Anthony went to a Neil Young concert, we have been playing on a softball team every Tuesday, the weather has not gone below 80 degrees during the day in what feels like an eternity, I am going to dress as a strawberry for Halloween and we are only a couple weeks away from a work trip to TN ending with a weekend in Nashville. Life is good I would say. In the midst of all this business – I have reunited with a fabulous friend from high school, Margaret – and she came to visit weekend before last. She is an avid wine connoisseur and wanted to go taste in the Funk Zone as well as taste at Municipal Winemaker’s new project – POTEK Winery. Here is a glimpse into our experience.

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Potek is in a new up and coming area over on Haley St. Rumor has it that there were “Haley Honies” back in the day. Some trannys, some not – a spot for some real local seedy business, but not anymore! Although it is still home to the $.99 store, this street is about to go off. The barnwood-skinned building that Potek calls home is named the the MILL. It will soon have a new brewery – called Third Window and an eatery called Wildwood Kitchen. These last two are not open yet, but we are hoping they will open up within the next couple months or so. All in all, it is a beautifully renovated space and I can’t wait to see if the new businesses coming in are as impressive at POTEK.

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The Mill Storefront

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Wine Barrels on site for both Potek and Muni

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My man approaching the scene

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The Patio is simple and inviting.

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Grape Leaves!

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If you taste inside, you get the fancy glasses specific to each wine.

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Each wine has an origin history and a little story from the winemaker. All printed with a signature typeface.

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merchandising the wine

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I love the labels on the wine with the barrels in the background.

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Flowers by Ella + Louie! Find them on Instagram – you won’t regret it.

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I wanted some flowers, but was out of $$

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More scenes from the patio

That is it! The wine was so delicious. More expensive than Muni – you can tell you are an elevated tasting room, but as such, they are very conservative with the pours. Everything was so tasty. The grenache was delicious! I will be back to pick up some special bottles. Hope you enjoy and make your way over there soon! Until next time…

Santa Barbara Backyard Renovation

October 14, 2015

Holy Shit – I have been so crazy busy lately. So sorry its been so long since I posted three times a week.  We have been planning our sales meeting at work, Anthony is on the work softball team, we have had company and I am getting back to the blog – I promise. It’s also the subject of this post that has kept me so freaking busy! I showed you guys my plans for the yard a couple weeks back, remember? Well – Anthony and I took action and went for it! This was our first time doing a major overhaul on something for the house. Well – for anything, really. Here is how it all turned out! Let me know what you think. Here is the Santa Barbara Backyard Renovation.

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Maybe I should give you some before pics to refresh your memory.

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Then we decided to till the dirt, even out the surface, lay down wire mesh for the gophers and weed fabric to prevent weeds, then finally gravel on top. 2 yards of grey peat gravel to be exact. We evened that all out as well.

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Then we set stepping-stones and mother thyme “faux” stepping-stones. We also spray painted the hammock stand copper, sealed it, bought a new hammock, bought large planters, some lavender and herbs and saved some aloe plants from the previous yard and bought them some companions in fescue grasses and planted those in between the large pots. We obviously had to buy some white rock to offset the color of the main gravel and separate it with some logs we had lying around the yard.

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Then on the other side, we built a deck from scratch! David at Goleta Building Materials was such a gem! Not only did he help us with the gravel and the process of prepping the area, but he also gave us some great tips on building the deck. I think my baby did such a phenomenal job carving it out. We dug 15″ holes and set 4″x4″ posts in the corners and set them with cement. Then we built the frame, and supports, laid the top planks and then stained and waterproofed the whole thing.

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Then – I am sure you are noticing by now, that the chairs are different colors than before. We used the natural stain we made from vinegar and steel wool to coat it and then used a waterproofing sealant to protect it.

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Lastly, we shuffled some furniture around and I made some succulent arrangements to spruce it up a bit. I really love the touches of natural green all over the backyard now. The succulents were “gifts” from my neighbors. We have such a plethora of them in the ‘hood, no one will even notice I helped myself. All in all, this is what we ended up with. We are so happy with it, but still have some work to do on our fence, but that is for a later time. I hope you guys love it as much as we do! Until next time…

Adventures in Home Decorating

October 6, 2015

Ahhhh. I am so sorry it has taken me so long to get back to this! In my last post, I told you all about the makeover we were doing on the backyard – well – we have been doing each and every thing that I talked about in the post! It has been such a crazy learning experience and feat to accomplish! But- the yard isn’t all spruced up yet – so I am waiting to reveal it to you until it is 100% done. Anthony and I have had so much fun doing this project that I can’t wait for the next one! I am already starting to think about what I want to do to the inside of the house. I thought I would let you in on a trend I have been seeing out there that I think I want to adapt into the Brito/Nguyen household. Here are my adventures in home decorating.

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photo cred: Apartment Therapy

I have been loving all the contrasting black and white hits with a wood tone to warm it up. I think this is totally something we can do in our house. As you guys know, we rent – so it is kind of hard to envision a complete overhaul because A. we have to pay for it and B. we would not get to take it with us if we moved. So, I wanted to make sure we did something moderate to the building itself and concentrate mostly on color where we can incorporate makeovers on things we actually own, like furniture and artwork. I love in this pic above the accent black wall, the white rug with black accents and the wood floor! I have all the base for this look, I just have to work on the accents a bit.

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Photo Cred: Apartment Therapy

I love how this one is more white concentrated with black accents  and the metal fixtures add another dimension to the room almost outlining the space. I would do less brown unless it was wood grain and stick with flat black or white.

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Photo Cred: Studio M

Love this one! You still get the wood hit on the ceiling, you get white all around and the black accent wall AND the metal fixtures, but you also get a really great idea for artwork that you can make yourself and the animal faux fur is a nice complex texture to add in the mix.

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Photo Cred: Tessa Neustdat

This one gave me a good idea to bring a pop of color in with the rug. It is a total piece from left field, but it works. It makes the vibe a little more comfy and less stark. I know this is a bathroom, but I like the vibe for a living room.

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Photo Cred: Erin Williamson

I know, another bathroom, but that floor!! I have the worst kitchen floor in the history of kitchen floors, I thought this would be a totally fun way to do the kitchen. I love the trick on the eyes these tiles create and the interest and easy cleanup. I could also be swayed to just paint it solid black. We will see.

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Photo Cred: thedesignchaser.com

This pic spoke to me just from all the green in there! I have house plants, but want them to be at a higher level and more plentiful. I am seriously thinking about putting in some shelves in to prop up some plants as well as get some more wood accents around.

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Photo Cred: Studioarrc.com

These next too are just more black inspo. Black with red brick, black with greenery and white, ya know – basically just dream houses. More eye candy complete with all the elements in the theme I am obsessed with.

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Photo Cred: CS Squirrel Run

All in all – I will be re-furbishing my coffee table, my vintage cabinet and my kitchen chairs. I will also be painting my window paneled door black and my kitchen floor, I may get ambitious and try and lay out a white subway tile backsplash behind the stove, I want to work on the light fixtures in my house to be more modern and brass in color instead of vintage crystal, I want a rug and will also be propping out my couch with newly covered pillows and lastly – I might be reupholstering my love seat with a vintage rug and possibly faux leather arms. Then there is artwork – A nice quote in a hand drawn font, maybe a simple wall hanging made from a drop cloth that can span the length behind the couch – ah – the sky is the limit!! Hope you enjoyed. Until next time…

Backyard Garden Makeover

September 24, 2015

Hi everyone! As you know, California has been in a drought for what seems like an eternity. When we first moved into this house, we did an overhaul of the backyard by tilling the entire yard, pulling every weed, ripping out invasive roots – the works. We planted grass seed and watched it sprout. We fertilized it and watered it until it was beautiful! We were so proud and then the drought hit and no more watering. I should have known better, but I always wanted a lawn for the dogs to run around on and rest on. So – now we are left with a big dirt lot with gopher holes all over it. So it is finally time for a backyard garden makeover. Here is what we were thinking.

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This is what our yard looks like right now. No bueno. Dirt on dirt. This is only one side of the yard, we have another one to do as well. I was having trouble sleeping the other night and I got on Pinterest. 3 hours later, I had a plan on what to do in the yard! Ha. I can’t sit still ever – unless I am asleep. When Anthony woke up – I made him grab a pencil and draw it out with me. He is so supportive. Even at 8 am on a Saturday. Here is what I found while I was on Pinterest that sparked my ideas:

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Courtesy of DWELL – I really liked two different color rocks and the fescue peaking out of the rocks.

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Courtesy of Chicagohomemag.com – the height that you get from these planters. I need to make some.

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Courtesy of Remodelista – I love the stepping stones and the segmented garden blocks.

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Courtesy of Architecture Co. LTD. – THis was just a dream sequence – could never make this happen and there is grass, but i thought it was so dreamy.

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Courtesy of SchoeneGaerten – I was drooling over the massive amounts of lavender and the color it threw off.

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Courtesy of Welke – I love the wood deck that almost just blends into the ground and isn’t really raised.

From all this inspo we came up with this drawing:

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It is really hard to see what we wrote, but basically the little circles are fescue grasses, the hash marks are large white rocks, the squares are planters that I am going to make from pavers, the spots where we labeled the measurements are going to be an inlaid wood deck and the open areas are going to be small loose gravel. It is going to be the shit! But – will be a lot of work. Our first job is going to be to rent a tiller this Saturday and churn up all that dirt so we can get some chicken wire in the foundation to battle the gophers. Wish us luck! I will keep everyone posted on our progress. There will be some DIYS in the garden for sure. Until next time…