Thursday, June 18, 2009

Leisure Time

I'm loving the latest post over at I realized that I hardly ever take the time to truly relax. When I was little I used to sit in my bean bag chair and read books for hours. These days I can't tell you the last book I read (although I've purchased plenty that are gathering dust on my bookshelf). If I'm not at work, I'm rushing to the gym, going out with friends, or planning my next adventure. The days of craft projects, movies/popcorn on a Friday night, and a long nap have been replaced with LA traffic, rushed shopping trips, and hurrying to meet friends for a night out.

Now that I've moved into a quiet little place, I need to slow down. I need to stop worrying about what I'll be missing out on if I stay in for the night, put my new chaise to use, and watch life at the beach pass by. So this weekend I'm literally forcing myself to take some downtime...I have a few projects I need to work on and I'll definitely be sleeping in. And I'm going to try not to feel like I'm missing out on something...I've had enough fruity drinks to know that a night out will be much more appreciated when I stay in for a few. All these non-ambitious plans might be thrown out the window if fun plans come up, but at least I'll have made an attempt! When the world is rushing all around you, what do you do to take a step back & relax (workouts not included!)?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cowgirls & Coronas

After having so much fun on the cattle drive in Santa Ynez, I finally made it back up there to go horseback riding on Sunday. Jen and I picked up some snacks & beer and drove past all the gorgeous wineries before driving down a long dusty road. We met up with a guy I know who works on the ranch and we saddled up 3 horses for the trail ride. The horses were cutting horses used for chasing cattle, so they were especially responsive.

I thought that Jen had ridden before, but it turns out she was a new rider. So we had a slow and easy trail ride. I was dying to pick it up a notch, so our "cowboy" stayed with Jen while I galloped out in front. It is one of the most amazing experiences...literally takes the breath right out of you.

Cowboy had a saddle bag with a cooler (!), so we downed quite a few Coronas along the way. After a stream crossing, we made it to a small cabin where we had gourmet cheese and crackers...goat cheese, brie, salami, and more Coronas! Cowboy's dog's name was Side, and he would swim on command in the cattle troughs and run ahead to chase the squirrels.

When we got back to the barn, Cowboy suggested that we race around a small track that he keeps free of debris and squirrel holes. I was a little nervous, but took off after him anyway. Wow...we ran the track at a full gallop twice and I could have kept going and going. I love the exhilaration that comes with being on a horse. And the horses were so well trained that for a moment I felt like a true cowgirl : )

I can't image a better way to spend the day. I was pretty sad to come home on Sunday and had to remind myself that I can go up there anytime and ride. And hopefully someday I'll be living on small ranch with a few horses, a "race track," streams, squirrels, and a great guy to share it with. Until then I'm dreaming of my next trip to Santa Ynez...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Studio on the Sand - Beach Sheik

I'm so excited about my new place that I had to change my blog layout : ) It's taken a while to settle in, but I finally have some pictures to post. Peaceful and serene is the best way to describe it...I fall asleep to the sound of the waves and I make sure I'm home every night for the sunset. On the day I moved in, dolphins were right outside my living room window...stellar. And the sailboat regattas are pretty spectacular too. Here's my sandbucket full of photos:

My eyes are an ocean in which my dreams are reflected.

My neighbor gave me this table for's not "outdoor" proof, but I'm hoping it lasts through the summer! I wasn't much of a wine drinker until now...

Cozy living room...I love small spaces.

Life is Better at the Beach

A few of my favorite shells & rocks collected over the years - I bought the Oregon dolphin one on the left at Cannon Beach...still my favorite beach of all time.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.

I've always wanted a comfy chaise...this is an IKEA bargain with a shell embellished pillow from Target...perfect for a post vball nap : ) My silver sandals are a reminder of my Cabo vacay.

To find a seashell is to discover a world of imagination.
My IKEA coffee table is now ocean glam! I displayed my favorite travel photos with cute beach plaques from Ross, a TJ Maxx glass bowl and some gorgeous shells.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.

This is my favorite sunset picture so far...I love that the beach is usually deserted in the evenings.

The best time to reflect on the course of your life is when you are near water, such as the ocean, a quiet pond, or a small stream.

I've had this dresser since I was a little girl...I painted it black, sprayed the knobs silver, and it's almost vintage now. I added a few photos of the castles of the Loire, a pink chocolate tin from France, and a mirror I found at Ross.

Maryanne Radmacher is one of my favorite inspirational writers, and the artwork on the right is a defining life quote for me - "I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world." I always think of my time in South Africa when I look at it.

On the beach, you can live in bliss.

The lotus flower is my one of my favorites because I'm working on a park project where the lotus beds have significant historical value dating back 100 years. I topped it off with a porcelain shell bowl ($10 TJ Maxx find) filled with beachy washcloths.

I found this super cute IKEA chair cover in eggshell definitely updated my Poang chair without looking cheap.

I finally got rid of my double bed and invested in a Queen with a REAL bed reminds me of some of the B&Bs I've stayed in. The lamp is a favorite that I found at Marshalls for $20!. The nightstand is another "vintage" piece from my childhood. Duvet - Bed Bath & Beyond Lantana with with embroidered green leaves. Botanic prints - Kohls. I also used a french liquor bottle as a vase to hold pink flowers.

These frames showcase some of my favorite castles of the Loire Valley. Ode to Marshalls, Max, and Ross for cheap sheik housewares!

I fell in love with these dishes when I saw them online.,default,pd.html?cgid=BCOMB. Added sea blue sequined placements for $1 ea.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

To unpathed waters, undreamed shores

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How Many Frogs?

I was in a really good mood last week and met a guy named "Mark" at our local music spot. He was confident and came right up to introduce himself. We had 2 great dates...the first one I challenged him to the sand dune hill. He's pretty fit, but he still couldn't quite keep up. No problem though...he has a great personality and was pretty laid back. We finished it off with lunch, mimosas, and a walk on the beach.

We had our 2nd date (gasp!) on Monday night. He texted me to say, "I'm packed and ready for my trip. Cancel your plans tonight because I'm coming down to see you." Wow. Now that's what a girl likes to hear : ) It's been a while since I've had REAL dates...sometimes I think that dating is old news. I tend to meet more guys through friends of friends, vball, etc. Nevertheless, it's nice to meet a guy who knows HOW to date, as funny as that sounds. He brought over wine, homemade hazelnut beer, and a little gift. I told him that my hands are calloused from weights at the gym, and he brought a pair of pink weight lifting guy is super thoughtful. He checked out my new beach pad and we cracked open the beers. Any guy who loves seafood is a "catch", and we had a relaxing dinner on the harbor : ) We finished it off with listening to the waves over wine at my place.

So this is where I'm supposed to have butterflies and can't stop thinking about him. Ummm...nope. So this is where I play 80s love songs and walk around with a smile all day? Nah. And I'm looking at my phone every minute? Negative. Unfortunately I'm not into him, which is annoying considering the fact that he did ALL the right things a guy should do. It's a combination of things...I'm not that attracted to him, our personalities are almost TOO MUCH alike (we're both perfectionists), and there are significant cultural differences. So at this point I'm wondering how many frogs do I have to kiss before Mr. Right comes along? I'm proud of myself about keeping an open mind and letting things happen...I've had enough bad dates to know that this is closer to what I'm looking for in a guy. Someone who's spontaneous, can call his own shots/take charge, and is fit, funny, and smart. So I'm dedicating this post to Mark, the guy who reminded me that they are out there and sometimes frogs aren't so bad either.

How many frogs did y'all have to kiss before finding a good one?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Back from a Blog Break!

I can’t believe that I’m 6 months into my plan and things are going well…really well. My goal back in November was to be in shape for volleyball season. Volleyball is one of the few sports that I LOVE. I never thought that I'd be living at the beach, hopping on my beach cruiser, and meeting up with friends play volleyball on the weekends. Not to mention the fact that it’s a great workout and a very social sport. As I headed to class on Thursday (classes are the best way to meet new people), I was a little nervous. My friends were meeting me there, but I wasn’t sure who would be returning from last summer. It turns out that almost everyone was new. There were quite a few people (50 or so), and everyone was really nice. I had a blast meeting new people and refreshing my skills. I’m proud to say that I’m in pretty good shape now and the drills, which are somewhat challenging, were a piece of cake! Put a checkbox next to the goal of being fit for vball season : ) We all went out to the local beach bar afterwards and had a great time. I can’t wait until the next class this Thursday.

I am officially addicted to the sand dune workout. The first time I climbed it, I was able to go up 6 times and it was BRUTAL! Three weeks ago I climbed it 10 times!!! This was a more recent goal of mine, and I was able to repeat it the following weekend. Unfortunately my feet are really torn up and I only went up 5 times on Sunday. So I’ll have to take a little break from my addiction for the feet to rebound : )

I’m really proud to have stuck with it…I still have no idea if I hit my weight goal and I really haven’t thought about stepping on scale. I’m happy when I’m dripping with sweat after a 2 hour workout. I look forward to cooking with fresh foods. And I'm ecstatic when I reach the top of the dune after the 10th climb and I feel like I could keep going. Since I’m in a good place on the health front, it’s difficult to write about my health and fitness on a daily basis. Thankfully working out and eating right is a way of life for me again…there’s not much exciting news about hitting the gym, what I ate, small milestones, etc. And I’m bored with reading about what other people ate and calorie counts. I still love reading blogs that are about life and stories, love stories, career stories, etc. So for now I’ll refocus my blog : ) My first topic is...

Beach Bungalow Design
In two weeks I’ll be moving into a super neat apartment. I’ve had my share of pests/rodents in the tiny, garage-conversion I’m in now. So I’ve decided to step it up a notch and get a bigger place. Those of you who live near LA know that it’s really hard to find the perfect apartment, especially near the beach. I knew the minute I walked in that it was meant to be. It has a full ocean view, bigger kitchen, dishwasher, and washer/dryer. It’s a studio, but I’ve come up with some creative ways of designing the space (stay tuned) and would love your input. I’m obsessed with,, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. I have so many ideas and can’t wait to move in in 2 weeks.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bored with blogging & ups and downs

Yep, I'm bored with blogging (gasp). There hasn't been much new to report this week. I don't talk about it much, but my lupus started to flare last Sunday, and I've been sleeping 12 hours a night to recover & make it to work in the morning. My joints are sore and all I can think of is sleep. So I've been bummed on the fitness front, but hopefully that will change starting tonight (gym time). In the meantime, I had 2 extreme days this week...thought I'd share how funny it is when days go from fine to horrible and then great...just like that.

Monday - I had the day off so I slept in and started cleaning my apartment. As I searching for info. to complete my taxes, I found a check that hadn't been cashed. As I read the amount, $902.41, I couldn't believe it! Right below it it said "VOID after 180 days." It had been almost a heart sank. I'm really good at managing my finances, and I couldn't believe I never cashed my escrow reimbursement after selling my condo last year. I honestly thought I couldn't cash it now or get the money. It ruined my whole morning until I called the bank. Dummy me...of course they were able to reissue the check. Woo hoo. The day went from bad to good in an instant.

Today - I call my boss W*** the Weasel (terrible, I know). He steals ideas from other departments and asks his staff (me) to recreate the concept and pitch it as our own. Today he was especially sly and forwarded me the design concept of someone I really respect. Of course I'm supposed to reinvent this wheel and put my name on it. No can do, boss. I discussed it with a trusted co-worker and I made some off-handed remarks about W*** (something I RARELY do in the office). I take a lot of pride in being a hardworker and coming up with my own ideas/concepts. I didn't realize it, but it turns out that several managers were in a nearby cube. My co-worker thought they could hear us, and my jaw fell open. Did they hear us? Yikes. One of the mgrs came over a few minutes later and acted as if he heard everything. My blood started to boil and my day was ruined. I was so disappointed in myself for letting my guard down and venting. (Although I will note that W*** has a terrible reputation in our dept.) To make a long story short, I did some damage control with the mgr after lunch...asking for advice and whatnot. Turns out he didn't hear a thing. Thankfully he knows me well enough (I keep a VERY low profile and W*** is the toughest one to work for) and reassured me that even if he had heard the conversation, "it's probably nothing I haven't heard already." Whew. Another good lesson learned.

Happy Friday!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A World Away from LA

So what the heck am I doing in LA?  That was my question after driving down a dirt road in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Chugging a Coors Light to calm the nerves, I wondered what this little adventure would be like.  Sure enough, the 3 guides were pretty uh rugged hot.  And all engaged.  Shucks!   I had high hopes anyway...some other people showed up & we had a group of 10 or so... 2 pro surfer girls, a photographer, a wealthy ranch owner and his girlfriend, and 2 random guys.  So much for a laid back camping trip!  Other than that, the scenery was breathtaking...vineyards, green hills, and wildflowers.  We were one ranch over from Neverland...seriously. The cattle drive part was pretty was fun being on a horse and figuring out how to direct the cattle (including a huge white bull!). A bunch of people showed up for the branding (I guess it's a big deal when cows are stamped and castrated...ewww) and there was a bbq afterwards.  I made a connection with one of the guys who said I can come out and ride anytime.  This made my day...I'll be back up there as soon as I can get my butt out of this cubicle again.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cows and Camping

Thanks for all your comments...yes, as usual I'll continue to politely ignore her pushy tactics : ) Too bad, 'cause she now has one less client!

I'm really excited for tomorrow. It turns out that they're offering an overnight campout with the trip. I know it won't be true "roughing it" with dirt camping in the woods, but I can't wait to sleep in a tent and have the guides cook gourmet meals (I remind myself that this is still California after all!). I'll drive up tomorrow, ride all afternoon on the cattle drive, stay up late by the campfire, and do wine tasting on Saturday. The guide promised me it would be a fun group and that I'd have lots of riding time. This is the photo from the website..he he. Just what I need...get me out of LA already :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ms. Bootcamp is a sales stalker

I received a 4th email yesterday from my former trainer ("Ms. Bootcamp"), and I'd like to share it : ) Some of you guys may remember earlier postings where she was super pushy to get me signed up on a 2-3 times/wk training program. She was a good trainer, but way too aggressive and never gave me any info. so I could continue training on my own. Since then, it's been a polite battle every time I see her at the gym. I HAVE considered training again, but I'm now ruling it out because she's not being very professional. Ugh...enough pestering already! (My thoughts in bold).

Hi Laura! It good to see you at the gym working out from time to time. (from time to time???...uh, more like when I see you at the gym almost every night and politely say hello...working my ass off without your help) I hope you are doing well. I meant to get in touch with you again to see how things are going for you and to follow up on the conversation that we had earlier this week. You had asked me then and a few times before if I had some 7 and 8's open for training because you said that you wanted to get back on a training program with me. I told you yes, I do as of now. But then, you changed your answer and went back to the financial thing. (Uh, yeah because you charge a FORTUNE, you're too sales pushy, and I can do this on my own!) So let me know when you are going to start up. It end of march, and I know that you said in Feb/Jan that you wanted to start up in March. (Thanks for reminding me, but this sales pitch is getting OLD). Let's not wait any longer (-; Let's get the ball rolling! (-; It's your program, you decide how successful you want to be and I'll be your guide! (-; (That's right, I've chosen to be successful and save a few dollars in the process.) Take Care, Natalie (Please leave me alone already).

Any advice on how to respond? Or not at all?

Cattle Drive!

Lately I've been really missing horseback riding. I called my instructor, but the lessons are only in the ring...there's no potential for trail riding. I decided to wait a few days to decide if that's what I really want (lessons are a little pricey). As I was checking my facebook yesterday, I spotted an ad that said "wine tasting on horseback near Santa Barbara." Since I have a four day weekend coming up, I checked out the website and it looks amazing. It turns out that they need at least 2 people to do the wine tasting tour...darn...none of my friends can make it (most of them aren't interested in horseback riding anyway). And a gorgeous cowboy hasn't been in the picture since I left Oregon : (

Then he mentioned that I could come along for a cattle drive. Huh? They have cattle in Santa Barbara? (Well, it's actually closer to wine country). Woo hoo. Oh my gosh. Yep, that's was what I was thinking. Turns out that the guide is a former polo player and just started the business., he's very very handsome. Just when I thought it was going to be another beach weekend at home, I got restless and found this opportunity. Gotta love it...I've always said you have to make life happen : ) So this cowgirl's headed up to SB Friday morning...gettin' out of the city and back on a horse. The solo spontaneous adventures continue! Wish me luck : )