My Lightbulb Moment, Literally.

On a personal side note, before I write about what I was going to write about today, if anyone has any tips for getting rid of laryngitis please let me know. My voice went totally out last night and I’m freaking out about it not being healed before the Ridgebacks & Friends San Diego Yardsale on Saturday. I’ve been guzzling hot tea, but am practically willing to eat Tide Pods if someone were to tell me if it would help. (Seriously, I don’t condone eating Tide Pods, don’t send me hate mail).

This last week, I almost wasted about $100 on what would have been a really critical, dumb, error all because of a lightbulb. When my house was purchased in 2007, some most of the lighting in it was really weird. The living room had no lighting and like two outlets, the front outdoor lights were operated by a big green, funky dial and the light over by driveway in the backyard was on a motion sensor that only worked when it felt like it. All of the weird lighting issues have been solved except for the weird backyard driveway light. I always knew it was there and a problem that only really presented itself as a problem when there was activity in the driveway late at night. I love the idea of a motion sensor, when it works. This motion sensor light did not work. It would sometimes go on when you opened the door and sometimes would stay on and then sometimes go off right away. No matter how much I tried, I could not figure out what would trip it. This would present problems during times when I was in the driveway at night selling a dishwasher on Craigslist or sorting stuff for the Ridgebacks & Friends yardsale.

Last year our yardsale was pre daylight savings time and so we (my rescue partners and I) lost the natural light halfway through our sorting. The motion sensor light was acting super quirky and so we had to bring out several of my lamps to light my driveway. Naturally, I knocked one over and then had to clean up glass. I swore I would get it fixed before the next sale. The year came and went and the weird light still remained. Finally, it was 2.5 weeks until the sale and I knew something HAD to be done. I was not going to deal with the embarrassment of that dang light again. My plan was to buy a new light that was not connected to a motion sensor and hire someone on Task Rabbit because electrical work scares me a bit. Great plan, right? I was literally at my computer, set to order and book and then I realized a super small detail… In 11 years, I had never actually looked at the light up close. I didn’t know how big the base needed to be or how the light mounted. Obviously, these are critical things to know and I’m sure you can see where this is going, well before I did. I drag out the BIG latter (because I’m short), and finally get up there. What do I discover? The motion sensor is actually a screw in thing that acts as a bypass. Unscrew it, and the light acts normal. Well, damn. On one side, I’m happy that I saved upwards of $100, on the flip side, 11 years of this nonsense. ‘Nuff said.


The light with the motion sensor unscrewed, sigh.

When stupid stuff like this happens I try to take it as a learning experience. I have a tendency to jump to conclusions and always assume the worst. It’s something that I’m always working on but I think it really showed in this instance. I just assumed that this light was going to be a big issue and so I avoided it and jumped to the complex solution before looking at all the options. In the meantime, tell me about your house flubs!

Two planners needed a fence

This sounds like the start of an awful joke I know. For all of the light hearted jabs I make about my neighbors, I live in an awesome neighborhood and have the best neighbors on my right/south side ever. They are couple in their 60s who have been married for 30+ years with no kids. He’s a hippy, heavy metal rocker, city planner and she’s a quiet retired schoolteacher. They are the most unlikely couple but I seriously hit the neighbor jackpot with them and somehow they think I’m the best neighbor they ever had which is nice yet confusing at the same time because at times I think I’m kind of a crappy neighbor. She’s always sending him over with homemade goodies for every holiday and even sometimes just because. Since both my neighbor and I both have backgrounds in planning we just GET each other and understand the way the other thinks which makes for zero property line disputes and happy neighbors. We even coordinate our tree trimming together because the tree company gives us a little bit of a break because they can access both of our properties at once.

Last September I put up a new back fence (east side of the house – not with my awesome neighbors) and driveway gate. The back fence was falling down and the driveway gate was wrought iron and see through and I was sick of people looking into my backyard. I really didn’t know the people who live behind me (east side) and I sensed they were not up to splitting a fence and so I just did it and it turned out great. The crew was in and out in one day and the work was top notch. I knew the fence that borders the west side of my house (between me and my awesome neighbors) needed to be replaced but it’s a weird situation which I’ll explain in a minute. For whatever reason, I honestly thought was going to be a bigger deal than it turned out to be and truthfully I didn’t feel like dealing with it when I was doing the other fence work. I also felt awkward about approaching my neighbors with little notice right before the holiday season with what I thought was going to be a costly venture. To explain the situation better, there are three different materials that line our properties, a cinderblock wall, wire fence that had ivy on it from their side that died and a wood fence. I’m not sure how these different materials came to be because they were all there when the house was purchased. There’s also a weird concrete curb that the wire fence is resting on. A few years ago the wood part of the fence had termites and I hired a “guy” to replace the fence for cheap. If you read my previous post you will know I’m done hiring “guys”. Instead of replacing the fence he just put a new one over the fence and now everything is leaning. It looked dumb but I was super over him at that point and just wanted him gone so I left it.


A very bad picture of weird concrete, metal and wood

Fast forward to last October I had the back fence and gate work already completed and my neighbor and I were doing our biannual tree trimming. This is pretty much word for word how our conversation went down:

Me: I’m so glad we could coordinate on this biannual project once again. Thank you for being the project manager and coordinating with the tree company while I was out of town.

Neighbor: It’s just so much easier when there is access to both of our properties at once. By the way, I was noticing your new fence and I think the craftsmanship is of very high quality, would you be interested in cofunding a project in the first quarter of 2018 along our mutual property lines?

Me: Absolutely, as a matter of fact, I was anticipating having a conversation with you regarding this and so I will e-mail you a rough cost breakdown as well as timeline by the same company that did this fence.

Neighbor: Great! I’ll look for your e-mail and will comment with any questions or concerns.

Yes, seriously. That’s what happened. It was so easy and I felt like an idiot for not bringing it up sooner. After our conversation I e-mailed him a rough breakdown of the work that was needed and estimated cost based on what I paid. He thought it was great and we agreed to revisit the conversation in January and firm up things then.

When January rolled around we met with the same company that did my original fence work. They came out and gave a final estimate to us and gave my neighbor an estimate for some additional fence work he wanted done. Long story short, it all looked good and we decided to proceed. In order to alleviate any confusion with the fence company, we decided to send in our contracts and checks together. When we met to gather everything we both discovered we had written the same breakdown on the contracts (to further avoid confusion) and had written the same lengthy check memo. Planners at their finest! We set the installation for Friday February 23rd.

I’m not sure why but I had a weird inkling that there was going to be an issue with the date of the install. Call it intuition or what and I was super diligent about confirming with the company that the install was on Friday the 23rd. Fast forward to Thursday the 22nd at 8AM they rolled up ready to work. Normally I over prepare for these instances but with the holiday, this week turned into a little bit of a clusterfuck for lack of a better word. Thankfully I was up and dressed and ready to start the day and didn’t greet them with bedhead and gross pajamas however as I found out, that would have been the least of my worries. Two days before, a friend had given me an entire van full of stuff for the R&F yardsale coming up on March 17th and it was all over my back patio. It seriously looked like white trash had crashed the place. I profusely apologized, explained the situation and tried to condense the stuff so they had more room to work. This is when the story takes an embarrassing turn, THEY START LOOKING THROUGH THE STUFF ASKING ME FOR PRICES! I’m just internally dying at this point and already know that I’m going to have to rearrange my day and reschedule my appointments for tomorrow.

Another problematic aspect was the tortoise and I realize as I’m typing this that these are problems I’m pretty sure only I have. He hadn’t been out that much in the past few days and I was hoping that since it was pretty cool he would stay in his heated “Squirt Hut”. I planned on setting up “Squirt Jail” (48” dog crate) if he was out and super rambunctious and in the way. Naturally the dog crates were in my garage behind yardsale stuff that I was planning on reorganizing today in order to get the crate out. Of course around 10 AM he decided to come out and see what’s up. I could have moved stuff around in the garage to get to the crates but I decided that I didn’t want the fence guys to see my garage which is filled with yardsale merch and currently resembles an episode of hoarders and so it was easier just to keep an eye on him and make sure he wasn’t getting too far into the neighbors yard. It all actually worked out well because he actually liked sitting back and watching the fence more than getting up in the middle of things (phew!) Just to be safe, I did dump a mound of vegetables near him to keep him occupied.

In short, despite the minor issues, the fence looks fantastic! I never thought I would get so excited over a fence but despite this sounding like a huge Big Lebowski joke, it really does tie the yard together. It looks so much more warm and consistent than the weird metal, wood and concrete that provided little privacy.


New Fence (With Oliver photobombing the pic)

Hopefully the last step of the backyard will happen this weekend, depending on if this weird Los Angeles windy cold snap continues. This will be California native plants in the flower beds as well as either mulch or pea gravel which I’m trying to decide on. Mulch is free from the city (which makes it more appealing) and seems more “natural” but pea gravel will be around longer and require less maintenance however it comes at a cost. If anyone out in internet land has opinions, I’m all ears!


My $207 backyard remodel (so far) **Results Not Typical

I want to say first and foremost, I’m not a decor money saving guru. My home projects typically run on budget because I’m a planner by nature but I do not think of myself as someone that gets screaming deals. This is mostly because I’m at the point in home ownership where I refuse to hire “guys” to do stuff. You and I both know the type, they can do a little bit of everything but never show up on time and the project takes twice as long as it should and probably costs more in the long run. I used to hire a “guy” for everything, now I either do it myself or hire a pro, meaning if I need a fence, I hire a fence guy, if I need plumbing I hire a plumber. I refuse to deal with jack of all trades, master of none unless it’s something REALLY small. It’s just not worth the hassle. With all that being said, I feel like I have to brag for a minute on the overall cost of my backyard remodel so far. There’s no denying it, my backyard looked SAD!

When my house was purchased in 2007 the backyard was super lush and nice with a beautiful lawn. Unfortunately the sellers had recently put in the sod to make the house look more appealing. It didn’t exactly die quickly but it never looked great and always had weeds. Fast forward 10 years to my really bad summer/fall this last year, I was so out of it physically and emotionally, I forgot to water my backyard. During the summer. In Southern California. Oops. Needless to say, by the time November rolled around, I had a crispy backyard with no grass which made me really sad.  I want nice grass, I want something pretty to look at and to not cringe when I look out my den window. I was actually planning on having my backyard redone before the holiday season but, I was hit with major expenses in October (both cars needing work and $2000 worth of tree trimming) and so my backyard renovation was put on hold which actually turned out to be a good thing.

The last weekend in January I happened to be at OSH killing time before getting a haircut in the area and I came across a display of Marathon grass seed. Suddenly, I had an epiphany that I was going DIY grass seed instead of doing sod. I had done it 10 years ago in my front yard and while it was doable, it was kind of a pain. Spreading the seed itself isn’t that labor intensive but the prep work and the smell of manure is THE WORST. I think by now I had rose colored glasses on the whole thing and had forgotten how bad it really was because, the price savings alone sold me on it. I bought the grass seed on the spot and now had plans for the next couple of weekends. The remainder of that Saturday was spent tilling the yard and digging up stray roots. My initial thought process for this project was to do the backyard in phases so that it would not be overwhelming physically and financially. Phase one would be to put grass seed down now so my yard would not look like a giant mud pit for the annual Ridgebacks & Friends Rescue yardsale at my house in March and also so Squirt the Tortoise would have a lush lawn to munch on this summer. Then later, when time and budget allowed I would do flagstone paths in obvious spots where grass would not grow.

This is where I ran into a bit of good luck. Around 9PM that Saturday night after a long day of tilling I had the crazy idea to look at Craigslist for rocks and flagstones. There were a few people giving them away for free but they wanted you to dig them up, no thank you I’m not doing your construction job, Then there were the people selling an entire pallet for $50 off the regular price, nope again. If I’m going to schlep flagstones in and out of my van I want real savings. If I’m going to end up paying full price for something, it’s coming to my house and being dropped in my driveway. My time is money. Somehow, I accidentally navigated to the Orange County craigslist and found it: the amount of flagstones I needed, in a color that was acceptable for $100. (These flagstones would probably be around $500-$700). Someone had purchased two pallets to get big stones and then wanted to get rid of the smaller stones. I happen to love the look of small flagstones because I think it looks more natural and charming, like something has been there for the ages. I immediately e-mailed the seller and imagined that there would be a lot of people e-mailing, so I tried to sell myself and not sound not flaky and totally normal so that I would get “picked.” “I promise I will show up!” “I have help and a van!” “Call me!” I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m not trying to sound creepy I come off as creepy and so I was pretty shocked and elated when they asked if I could come at 8AM the next morning. When I got there, they were pretty stoked that I didn’t haggle on price and I was excited that they had everything in the driveway and I could pull my van up. It was truly a no hassle Craigslist experience. This was the end result.

The next weekend was the part I had been dreading, laying the grass seed putting down steer manure. Ten years ago when I first put grass seed down in the front yard a local now defunct nursery (Sherdian Gardens in Burbank, sniff sniff) told me to ignore everything on the marathon seed container and do the following: put down the grass seed and then coat it with an inch of steer manure and water it three times a day. Since it worked the first time I decided to go with their advice again. This time however, there is a 90 pound problem named Squirt the bulldozer tortoise that I didn’t have to contend with last time. There really is no way to keep him out of the area that’s going to be seeded so I decided to do 2-3 inches just to make sure that he didn’t dig up the seed while he’s patrolling the yard and watered it for 15 minutes, three times a day to really let the water sink in. Needless to say, I bought a LOT of steer manure (23 bags to be exact) and received several comments from people at Lowes. The cashier even asked me how much I exactly needed because she was sure I was overbuying. (Nope, I only had a bag to spare!) To answer the obvious questions, yes my van and yard smelled awful and my water bill was insane (normally $20-30 this time of year was $80). I’m pretty surprised I did not get a nasty note or e-mail from Burbank Water and Power. I also wanted to mention that there was 4 days of rain in the forecast that I was hoping would provide a nice, natural water. Sadly, the rain only came overnight one time and the majority of the watering was my sprinklers.

According to the directions it takes 10-14 days for Marathon seed to begin sprouting. Since it was put down on February 4th, I expected to start seeing stuff right around Valentine’s Day plus a few days. On the 13th I woke up to sprouts in my yard that had seemingly popped up overnight! As of this post, 17 days after seeding, the yard is at about 70% and I’m thrilled. I don’t expect a perfect lawn, especially with three dogs but I’m so happy Squirt the Tortoise has lots of grass to choose from and that I can look out my den and see mostly green. I’m going to give it a another week and then do some patch work.

Since I’m mostly done with the multiple times daily watering, I’m planning on putting in native plants this weekend on both sides to add some dimension and color. As much as I wanted to do it ASAP, I know it would be better for the plants to wait because native plants can be overwatered even when being established.

So to recap, here are my costs so far:

Shenandoah Craigslist Flagstone: $100 (and to be fair about $25 worth of gas driving to OC and back)

2 Buckets of Marathon I Grass Seed: $74.51

23 Bags of Steer Manure: 27.51 (Poop is cheap)

Sprinkler Parts because I was clumsy, tripped and snapped a head: $5

Humiliation of having to go back to Lowes smelling like Steer Manure to get said sprinkler parts: priceless.

The 10 Year Homeowner Itch

This July I will have officially been a homeowner for 11 years and time really does fly when you are “having fun.” It’s an interesting thing being in a house for so long, I really feel like I know it, like I knew my childhood home. I know all the weird sounds, creeks, I can walk around totally in the dark and know exactly where everything is.

When the house was first purchased in July of 2007 it needed a lot of work both cosmetically and behind the scenes. The next 4 months the house was basically a construction zone that didn’t subside until Thanksgiving! Kind of a funny story, I had it in my head that I was hosting Thanksgiving that year in the new house. I spent so much time getting the house together and realized at about 8PM the night before that I didn’t own dining room chairs. I had a table, but no chairs. This resulted in trips to about 5 different Target stores piecing together a chair set that I wanted!

I look at my living and dining rooms and see that they need painting and wonder how could it be?! They were JUST painted…. Oh not really, it was over a decade ago. Last year, was the year of doing not so fun stuff to the house: termite treatment, a new back fence and front gate, new roof, tree trimming and my favorite wall and attic insulation. They were improvements that were well worth it, but not exactly “fun” and besides the fence because you really don’t see your money. This year, I’m really itching to do some cosmetic upgrades that have been bugging me for a while, and fix some things that I’ve been living with mostly in the “master bedroom” (I use that term loosely because in my Lockheed Bungalow, the “master” is 11X11) and backyard.

I’m struggling with having homeowner ADD right now, similar to what went on when I moved in. I have two major projects going on and I feel like my life is in upheaval. I literally have a drill on my nightstand and boxes piled in my living room to the point where I can’t even get into my entry hall closet. Hopefully I’ll have this all fixed over the weekend and will have a new fun blog post about the master! The backyard will still be a work in progress for a few more weeks and unfortunately right now it smells like steer manure. (Fun times).


(Super classy decor, so you all believe me)

Anyone else have homeowner ADD going on? Is it an always thing or does it come in cycles. Leave me a comment and let me know!


Super fun topic, death of an estranged family member

I feel like I’m whenever I start a blog post, I end up apologizing for not blogging for a while. My catch-22 is I feel like I shouldn’t blog unless I have something interesting and of value to add, and the past few months, I haven’t felt that. In short, here is an explanation of what I’ve been up to the past few months that was the inspiration for today’s blog post. It serves a two fold purpose, explaining where I’ve been and using it as a fresh start for blogging. I’ve spoken about this a lot on my personal Facebook page and so if you are a friend, this entry may feel repetitive. I promise this week my blog will return to it’s normal shenanigans.

It’s not a huge secret that for most of my life I’ve been estranged from my mother. It’s a long involved story as to why, but the cliffs notes version is that my parents divorced a long time ago; I lived with my father and truthfully I was too young and immature to really understand my mother and mental illness. A friend who had a similar situation with her biological dad, messaged me in August to tell me that he had passed away that day and she was heading out of town to deal with it. I offered my condolences and told her that I did not know if I would be that good of a person when my own mother passes away. Less than 24 hours later, I was notified that my own mother had died due to long term, multiple substance abuse issues. It’s a day that I had anticipated and dreaded for a long time. As much as I wanted to avoid it, I was the “next of kin” and I had to deal with it.

This may seems like a really weird thing to blog about however, when I googled “dealing with the death of an estranged parent” it dealt with the emotional stuff. Obviously that’s a huge part of it and I’m not saying that process is not important, it is I went through it too! Before you can even deal with that, you need to get physically get through it, and it’s hard, weird and overwhelming. It’s one thing when a close family member dies. You want to do right by them, you know their wishes and who to notify. When an estranged parent or family member dies and you have to deal with it, it’s a bit confusing and chaotic. To understand where I am coming from, a bit of background on my own personal case. I had not spoken to my mother in almost two decades and even before that our relationship was tepid at best. She didn’t try and I didn’t try and yes, I have to live with that. Unfortunately, as I said above, she had quite a few substance abuse and mental health issues, a hoarding problem and therefore I think my situation dealing with her death was extreme since she had pretty much alienated everyone she knew. This is the list of what I wish I had known along with my own experiences.

  1. Usually with estranged family members they have burned bridges with family and friends; be prepared that you may or may not get a lot of help physically or financially. Try to at least notify people that your family member passed away, even if it’s an e-mail or Facebook message. It’s better than hearing about it second hand. As silly as it sounds, it may helpful to draw out a family tree so you don’t forget anyone. It’s a stressful time and you may draw a blank. I totally forgot to call my mother’s stepmother and also forgot she had two step siblings, oops. (To be fair, I probably could not pick them out of a lineup if I had to). Also, you may have to track down phone numbers and have awkward “hi, you haven’t heard from me in 20 years…” conversations. It’s weird, trust me. As far as handling things in my case, my cousin and aunt had been keeping an eye on my mother from a distance for years, were burnt out and I didn’t want to put that burden on them anymore. My brother has a family and he was limited in what he could do, so I did the physical running around mostly.
  2. Figure out their funeral and burial. This includes how it is going to be paid for and also in  terms of what to do for it. In my case, I had no idea what my mother would have wanted because I knew very little about her, and so I guessed. Other family members had very little input as well. I was “lucky” in the sense that my mother was in the Army in the 70s and I was able to locate her D-214 and therefore was able to use her VA benefits for the burial. While the VA does have it’s issues, I’m very grateful to them for the death benefits for veterans. Since I had no idea where my mother would have wanted to be buried, I had a funeral home do the cremation and had her buried in a military cemetery. I’m not going to lie, the fact that the plot was covered by the VA was a huge selling point but, I figured it was at least a dignified burial. While this sound awkward and cheap, it’s brutally honest. Would you want to pay for a plot for your neighbor from decades ago that you hadn’t seen or heard from since? It honestly was the equivalent of that for me. I thought about doing the an ash scattering and/or memorial, but it seemed trite and unnecessary because no one in the family was really interested in that kind of thing. Be prepared for awkwardness and feelings of indifference and be ok with it! There were questions that the funeral home asked me, that I had no idea as to the answer or had no opinion on, such as what type of emblem to put on her grave. At this point I had a “get it done” mentality I went with the most common thing per their suggestions. I could have beat myself up over it for hours and come to the same conclusion, “I don’t know” so why waste time? Remember, chances are you are planning a burial for someone you don’t really know and are doing the best you can.
  3. Piece together their finances and other important stuff as soon as possible. Notify social security (if applicable) ASAP because it takes a while for them to get their act together and you do not want to have to be in a repayment situation with them. (To this day I still do not understand how they prorate checks). Chances are (like me), you probably have no idea what the deceased’s financial situation was. As much as we all hope that we have a secret millionaire of a relative, chances are, it’s not going to be that and it’s not going to be pretty. Depending on how organized/disorganized they were it may be a detective game. My mother was a bit of a mixed bag in the sense that she had a lot of important papers in her car (who carries their birth certificate, divorce papers and army discharge papers in their car… my mother that’s who) but she had not opened mail in three years. (That was fun). Pulling her credit report helped answer some questions but others were a mystery, such as where she had her checking account. I finally found a 5 year old expired debit card and went to the bank with her death certificate, explained the situation; and yes it was literally “Hi, my estranged mother died and she may or may not have a checking account here, can you check?” I thought for sure they were going to throw me out, however I found that people were more receptive and willing to help if you lay everything on the table and admit how weird the situation is. Another instance was when the cable company was hassling me over the return of boxes and I bluntly said “she was a hoarder, there are bugs. Do you want the boxes back?” They didn’t. I know that some will say it’s not their business and this is the truth, but most people do have compassion and are willing to help if they understand the full situation.


  4. Be strong, keep your guard up and use common sense. When you are dealing with a situation like this you have a lot of people telling you what to do. Some are involved and some unfortunately are not involved because they aren’t next of kin/executor/etc or they didn’t want to be, and just show up and make demands or even worse try and guilt you into something. For instance my mother’s landlord tried to extort money out of me saying that “my mother would have wanted it that way.” Without going into a rant that could be a blog post on it’s own about that, just keep your emotions out of it and say no. Run the situation by a neutral friend if you have to. I got sucked into a bit of drama and I really wish I hadn’t. Take a deep breath and think things through, no matter what it is, it can wait for a good sleep and tomorrow.

To sum it all up from “tips” and story is that it’s going to be weird, it’s going to be awkward and that’s okay. When the time comes for the emotional stuff, grieve in your own way. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should not be more or less upset. People will guilt you on both ends. As cliche as it sounds, just do you.

On a last personal note, someone told me early on that I should use this as an opportunity to get to know my mother. Out of all the “advice” I received I actually think this was wise. I did and here’s what I have to say. Unfortunately, she wasn’t well. She was under VA care and I think they did the best they could because you cannot help someone who doesn’t want help, and you have to find a balance between investing resources and “treat and street.” However with all the crazy, she was a veteran, served this country and that I’m very proud of.

Teaser Post…

Yes I’ve been away with no good excuses but I promise I have a lot of content coming up.

Teaser post… who wants to guess my project for tomorrow?

This is 3.5 yards of 54″ fabric to be applied up the bolt. Any guesses?

Mema’s Tulips

Back in December my the sale on my childhood home closed. It was also my father’s childhood home and so needless to say it was quite an emotional experience for me and for him as well.

Anyone who has gone through this knows that you obviously want to keep some tangible items from the house. The thing that I most wanted was the tulip bulbs. Believe it or not, my grandmother planted them well before I was born and despite neglect and never digging them up they bloomed every year. The day that I was born (April 17th) the tulips were in full bloom and my father took a picture of it. A few days later it snowed in typical Chicago fashion. Needless to say, they hold a pretty big significance to me.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 5.58.13 PM

Back in October when the house entered escrow my father dug up the bulbs and promised to send them to me and was “getting around to it” for some time. While I was on vacation this last week the box arrived and I opened it up today. My original plan was keeping them refrigerated until the fall and then plant them however, god bless my father but he did the absolute worst thing he could have possibly done… left the bulbs in a lot of soil and kept them moist in a plastic bag. They sprouted, all together in a gigantic mess. After a small fit major meltdown I called a master gardener friend and she instructed me to plant them ASAP and consider putting them in a container. A quick trip to Lowes and this is what I ended up with. I was able to separate some but a few were a lost cause since they were so intertwined. Ignore the dead dymondia in the background, that’s a whole other story completely. Fingers crossed that the tulips can be saved!

Feeling Kind of Trashy

fullsizerender-6Today’s post was spawned by this picture from my Facebook “On This Day” memories  from 2015. This is me standing on top of a giant pile of garbage. That year I participated in the City of Burbank’s Master Recycling Program. It was a neat program where you were educated and learned about different ways of recycling and waste reduction.

One Saturday we actually had a field trip to Burbank’s Landfill #3 located on Lockheed View Drive up on the hill. A little bit of background on Burbank’s waste disposal history. My house was built in 1938 and was of course one of the Lockheed bungalows like so many in Burbank. Behind my garage is a garbage incinerator which is how trash used to be taken care of. One of these days I’m going to turn it into a planter or something but I’ve been saying that for a decade. When it does happen, it will be a blog post. A short time after that, landfills #1 and #2 were built and handled the cities trash until 1970. (Source Cal Recycle) After that our current landfill, #3 was built and continues to handle our trash until this day. I was told that back in the 1980s they did a study and estimated there were about 50 years left on the landfill but that is also when Burbank started ramping up its recycling program. Now as it stands today, the estimated closure date of Landfill #3 is 2053 and that number can fluctuate depending on the use of the city. (Source Burbank Public Works)

I didn’t know what to exactly expect that day at the landfill but what I saw certainly was not it. I had visions of a big heap of trash, some old guy hoarding copper and drinking beer watching the entire thing like the local municipal dump of my childhood. For a landfill, it’s actually very clean and since this is located very close to residential homes, etc the trash is covered every day and layering with dirt happens to keep the area nice and tidy. All in all for a landfill, it’s pretty neat and unfortunately not normally open to the public.

Before the recycling program I considered myself a pretty avid recycler. I composted and recycled what I could but I still had 2-3 bags of trash a week. After the trip and viewing where my trash goes it parked something inside of me. Now anytime I throw something away I imagine it sitting in a landfill. The same goes for bulky item pickup too (I seriously have nightmares about my old beat up sofa sitting up there!) With very little effort I was able to reduce myself to one small bag a week. I wouldn’t even set out my trash bin every week if it wasn’t for the smell. (I have pets if you catch my drift!) So, with all that being said what did I do and what can people do help out Burbank’s landfill.

1. Recycle (Obviously) – Burbank is a pretty easy city to recycle in. Everything recyclable can go into one blue bin. There are three options of bins. A 32 gallon, 65 gallon and 96 gallon. The city does not charge for a bigger size so I say get the biggest one you can and set it out only when it’s full. There’s reasoning behind that but that’s another blog post all together.  The Burbank Recycling Center has a list here and a pretty nifty diagram that shows what can be recycled at the curb and at the center on Flower Street.


Side note- the city DOES charge based on the size of your black trash container so if you have a 65 gallon one that you don’t fill up, get a smaller one and save a few bucks a month! The number to public works is 818.238.3800

2. Find ways to recycle specialty items – A lot of times items go into the trash simply because there is no way to dispose of them locally. A few items that I’ve struggled with personally are clothing in poor shape, old CDs of the printer software type variety, and styrofoam. Thankfully now we live in a world with google and where there is a will there is a way. There are ways to dispose of clothing not suitable for donation. I’ve heard that many Goodwill places will still take it but I have yet to find one. I usually end up putting it in a yellow Planet Aid Bin. I know there is some controversy with Planet Aid since they sell textiles however I personally feel that at least selling the goods to companies that repurpose them into insulation, playground paving and carpet pads just to name a few is better than it sitting in Landfill #3. CD’s can be sent to the CD Recycling Center through the mail. #6 styrofoam / peanuts is tricky… the best solution I have so far is I bring it to my friend’s house who lives in LA and her curbside recycling takes it or I save it to reship stuff. (Lame I know). The point I’m trying to drive home is there are solutions, they may not be as convenient as dropping it in your blue bin.

3. Reusing and reducing – Everyone knows the three Rs. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We also all know to donate our old stuff to charity. What we forget is we tend to focus on the last one and forget about the first two, especially reduce. This is something I’ve struggled with but little changes can make all the difference. I stopped buying milk and orange juice in cartons and buy them in recyclable plastic containers instead. Prewrapped individual packs are great, but terrible for the environment. It’s the little stuff like that can make a huge impact.

4. Food scraps and compost – Instead of throwing food scraps in the trash compost or at the very least throw fruit and veggies into your green bin. I’ve been an avid composter for about 7 years and it really does make a difference. I also found personally doing two smaller shops a week instead of a huge big shop prevents food waste because inevitably I will have a night where I’m too lazy to cook what I’ve planned and order Dino’s.

So there you have it. Typing this out I should retitle this post to “How I went from a pretty good recycler to beyond crazy about it.” Anyone else have any tips? What’s your recycling like?


Rainpocalypse 2017

The ongoing drama in Washington is a pretty big deal but what’s an even bigger deal? Rain in SoCal. Seriously, the top news story on our local news channel is not about politics, it’s about rain and for good reason, by California standards this is a pretty big storm, “Heavy Rain Blankets Southern California” to be exact. Being from Chicago,  I’m not any stranger to weather but I have to admit almost 14 years in Burbank leaves me with a little bit childlike wonder when it rains. It’s not so much rain hysteria, it’s more that I’m a weather geek thanks in part to growing up with Tom Skilling on WGN. I do all the normal things that people do in So-Cal: sandbag my downward slanting garage so it doesn’t flood, find my one umbrella and of course post on social media the minute it starts raining.

Like I mentioned above, I’m a weather geek and prepping for rain So-Cal style is not enough. What do I do? Well for starters I have at least half a dozen weather apps on my phone, an antique barometer and a weather radio. I’m not paranoid about the weather, I just find it fascinating. Needless to say, my trusty weather radio has been going off all day with flash flood warnings.


I also like so many decided to take a long weekend, hunker down with the ridgebacks and binge my favorite mini series, From The Earth To The Moon. Earlier this morning I was convinced that the storm had shifted and crazy rain was not going to happen but I stand corrected, this is some of the worst rain I’ve seen here.

Like many I’ve been on social media for the better part of the day discussing the rain. I’m amazed, so many friends in LA are without power, here in Burbank we’ve had a few flickers, some and some sketchy U-Verse service but nothing major. It really reminds me how fortunate I am and how much I really love this city.

Making New Friends Today

Last week I had a friendship blind date of sorts, I met someone that I didn’t really know for dinner. About six months ago I posted in the City of Burbank Facebook group looking for a recommendation for a fence company. One individual messaged me with a recommendation and sent me some pictures of her fence. We got to talking and we eventually friended each other on Facebook. We commented on each other’s status and met officially by chance at a Burbank Coordinating Council meeting. Since the holiday season is over and things have settled down, we decided to meet for dinner at The Hanger Grille on Magnolia Blvd (which by the way is delicious!) All in all we had a fantastic time and will hopefully get together soon.

This isn’t the first time I’ve met people this way. About ten years ago I signed up for a now defunct couponing website, “The Grocery Game” and joined their message boards. Eventually with the Facebook revolution a bunch of the “regulars” and I friended each other on Facebook and had a local meet-up. One of the people from that message board actually lives in Burbank and has become a close friend to the point where I go to her house for Thanksgiving almost every year. If it wasn’t for this message board, we probably would never have met. We don’t live in the same neighborhood or run in the same circles. She has kids and I do not and the only thing that brought us together was a love scoring deals with coupons. In October of 2011 another person I befriended happened to be traveling to Texas from New York for business and decided to meet up with a bunch of the people from the message board who live there. A few other people and I found a good deal on airfare and decided to join for a girls weekend. Four of us came from the west coast, and a couple from the East Coast and we all had a fun weekend. (This was when I had super short hair) Before that weekend I had only met one person in that picture. Now I’ve traveled with some of them a few times.



I really do think online and through social media  is the new way that people make friends. it brings unlikely people together with a common interest that they may not find organically. Thinking back,  I think the last time I made a true friend that didn’t start out online was probably 2010ish and that was through work. Before that it was friends I made in college and in high school/grade school in Chicago. Are they good friends? Yes. Are they friends that would fly to Chicago from Atlanta to help me have an estate sale at my father’s house? Probably not but that’s really the only kind of once in a lifetime childhood friend that would do that and I don’t know if that could ever be found online. Here is my BFF from junior high and beyond Carolyn and I acting like we are teenagers in my dad’s basement making fun of a bunch of 90s flip phones and pagers we found. Why was I dressed up and she was in casual clothes? It’s seriously the nature of our friendship.



Anyone else met friends online? How do you meet people today? Drop me a line and let me know, I’m curious.