Friday, March 28, 2014

Finding Inspiration

Most of my days are so busy that I really don't have the time to think. Between the two kids I'm lucky if I get my hair brushed during the day.  Every week I set myself a goal I want to accomplish and if I get that one thing done over the course of seven days I consider it a win.

I think it's important for us women to pat ourselves on the back for what we do accomplish rather than beat ourselves up for what we don't. 

That being said I set a New Years goal of making my house feel like a home and gave myself a whole year to accomplish it. Ha! I know my limitations.  

It has been slow going but I have been making progress. I haven't really felt inspired.

Until recently.

I found my inspiration piece!

IKEA Premiar

It was so perfect. I have a huge blank wall that needed filling up and at 78" x 55", this would do it. I also have a special affinity for maps. My mother ALWAYS had maps in our house. She would always mark them with little notes and scribbles.

Mom even said that she always preferred books that had maps in the front because she could trace the heroes journey. In fact, she thought if the author took the time to make a map it had to be a decent book.

Ryan and I also share a love for all things nautical. There is just something about the sea....

So with all the meanings behind it I could not help but say, "That's it, I have to have it!" 

Below are some before I painted shots:

The first thing I needed to do was get the wall ready. It took me a week to accomplish but I finally got the ONE wall painted (Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter).  Awhile back I posted on painting my baseboards, which you can find here. It was such an improvement that I had to do the same on this wall. I wasnt dissapointed.

Below are shots of the painted wall sans baseboard paint:

Huge improvement with just the new color but after the baseboard are painted it really spices things up. (Yes, I am lame, but this stuff is exciting!)

I can hardly wait to get that map up on the wall! We are also building and painting shelves for either side of it. I'm so excited that everything is coming together nicely! It really inspires me to continue.

I think that is the key to figuring out what design elements work for you. Find a piece that inspires you and base your designs around it.

Though it is taking a lot longer then I had planned I'm still proud that I have even got this far! What do you think? Has there been any projects you have planned that took three times as long as you expected?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fiat Lux: Let There Be Light

Fiat Lux is the University of California system's motto.

It's been 10 years since I graduated from college. Crazy! How did a full decade pass by? Does that mean I am also a whole decade older? It's probably a good thing that I'm not really lamenting this whole ageing thing.

I visited my Alma Mater to commemorate this time. It was so strange walking the halls and viewing these old brick buildings through my 10 year-older-eyes. It was also strange to take my 4 year old 'potty' in the old Anthropology building in Watkins Hall. Yeah, I have 2 kids now. Big change from 10 years ago. It is no longer just me. 

Atticus taking a break outside of Sproul Hall

10 years ago today I took my last final in college. If I remember correctly, the class was a lower division course entitled "Religious Myth and Ritual" taught by Professor Brian K. Smith (who retired from teaching in 2004 to live as a Buddhist Monk and is now known as Lama Marut.). 

Outside of Rivera Library

I lived (well, I still do actually) about 50 miles north of my old school: the University of California, Riverside.  On that particular morning, the main artery through the San Bernardino mountains, the 15 freeway, was closed due to a traffic collision. Luckily, I had time to turn around before I started descending. Even more lucky for me, I had decided to leave a couple of hours early so I could do some studying before class.

My only option was to drive the 135 mile detour that took me through Lucerne Valley, Yucca Valley, on the edge of Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs, past Banning and Beaumont to the Eastern side of Riverside. It takes a little over 2 hours to drive this route (longer if there's any traffic) compared to the normal 50-60 minute commute.

By the time I got to school to take my test, I had no time to study and my butt was in my seat just as Professor Smith locked the door. I felt shaky, on the verge of hysteria, and sure that I was going to fail this final without question. All I could think about as I sat down, ready to start, was that my entire college career hinged on this one test for this one class. That if I failed this final, I would most likely not pass the class and I would therefore not graduate having not completed all of my requirements. I would have to spend another semester in college and I really couldn't afford to do that.

The Bell Tower
But I didn't fail my test. When I finished it I knew that I passed (it was a lower division class, after all. Easy-peasy. Why DO I get myself all worked up??) and I breathed in the cool Spring air feeling such a sense of accomplishment. I had graduated from college. I had completed my B.A. with two majors in History and Religous Studies. I felt so much pride in my work. I wasn't one of those kids whose parents paid for their school or didn't have to work while in college. I had student loans and debt and when I started at UCR in 2002 I had a 1985 Toyota Cressida that had a failing transmission. If I stopped too long at a light, when I would accelerate, plumes of white smoke would drown out the cars all around me. But I still went. I didn't give up.

It's hard to believe that 10 years have gone by. I have to say that along with producing 2 beautiful baby boys, graduating with my Bachelor's is one of my greatest accomplishments. I never lived in a dorm, I never attended rush week or went to a frat party. I worked at the UCR Bookstore and listened to students talk about how they really hated it there but they had to go because their parents were making them, or how tired they were from this party or that party. I was just a student. I was interested in learning and getting that degree. I loved school, even though at times, it was really hard. 

In front of Rivera Library. History was on floor 2 and religious studies was in the was scary down there.
My plan after graduation was to go to graduate school to study Medieval religious history. Life has a way of diverting plans, however, and I didn't go back. While I berated myself about this for many years, I've since considered it a blessing in disguise because I no longer want to study religion. With age has come a more focused interest.

I now want to go to San Jose State University and do their Master's in Library and Information Science and work as an academic librarian at a college. I am a professed Bibliophile so it does seem silly that this idea never came to me before. But then again, my mother was a history teacher at Victor Valley College (where she wrote the curriculum for the Women in U.S. History class, thank you very much) and I, at an early age, became enthralled with teaching, colleges, and knowledge. 

The Humanities and Social Science Building, where I spent most of my time.
As I walked these halls, I remembered why I wanted to be a professor, why I loved it here so much. There is a sense of excitement, of learning and discovery that hums in the air. The orange trees were in bloom and the heavy smell of citrus blossoms impregnated the air. Every step held a new scent, a new plant, a new pathway to inspiration.

I was so sure of myself in college. I knew exactly who I was and what I was going to do. The rest of my 20's did not follow suit, though. I spent the rest of that decade questioning everything I did or didn't do. The last few years I've regained some of that confidence back. I guess I don't fear failure the same way I did when I was younger. It's still there, but it tends to not rear it's head as often.

The pathway in front of the Humanities Building.
There were professors that influenced me greatly. One was Professor Betsy Bauman-Martin who was a lecturer for religious studies. I took her for Women in Early Christianity and Women and Religion. She was so intelligent but so un-pretentious about it. Professors tend to think very highly of themselves and sometimes they would be very competitive with each other, openly, in front of students. But Professor Bauman-Martin, who wanted us to call her Betsy, was down to earth. I wish she had been a full time professor because I would have jumped at the chance to work with her.

The other professor was Ann Goldberg. My history degree is a concentration in medieval history. I didn't care much for this class, the professor was kind of boring (sacrilege to say such a thing, I know!) and I couldn't motivate myself in this series of classes. I missed a lot of class and only put minimal effort into it. I wish I had someone around at the time to tell me to just stop, take a break. Or at least to stop taking these Medieval history classes. I had taken one class with Professor Ann Goldberg. The class was called Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe. I loved this class. It was so interesting and Professor Goldberg was an excellent lecturer. She reminded me of my mother, the way she spoke, the way she would stand and write on the board. I really wish that I had changed my concentration to work under her and focus on the Early Modern period. It may have re-ignited a flame in me that was quickly smoldering out-and eventually did for a short time.

Orange Blossom: one of the most beautiful scents in the world.

UCR was started as a way to extend the citrus growing season here in California in 1907. There are still orange groves found around campus. The first undergraduate college opened in 1954 thus marking it's 50th anniversary the year I graduated.

Just to make my life more complicated, I would also like to attend UCR or Cal State Fullerton to get a M.A. in history with a concentration in the Early Modern period (women, witch hunts in Germany, and religion as concentrations). I don't know how in the heck I will do all that with two little kids but I know many women accomplish amazing things every day. Oh and did I mention I want to write a novel or two in the meantime?

Scotty the Highlander, UCR's mascot. Atticus was a little shy.

I would love for my kids to go to UCR or any college for that matter. I think an education is so important. Going to college is hard. It's even harder when you have a long commute, little money, and other difficulties that distract you from your goal. But if you can make it happen, it is worth every penny as far as I'm concerned. Getting an education at this level really impacted me: it opened me up to ideas and peoples and experiences that I would never have been exposed to had I not attended. It is a nice feeling to know that no matter what I do in life, I still hold a B.A. from the University of California at Riverside with two majors in history and religious studies. That can never be taken away from me. College may not make you rich...especially if you study the humanities-let's be honest. But the wealth you gain in other areas is priceless.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Painting Baseboards

I had been thinking about replacing my baseboards since we moved in almost four years ago but the cost was always too high. The previous owners had installed wood flooring and put shoe molding around the edges to finish it off. Instead of painting the shoe molding white to match the baseboard they matched it to the floor. It creates a weird look. Definitely shortens the walls.

Then one day Stacy said...."Have you ever thought about just painting them?" Nope. Didn't occur to me.

So we busted out some white paint I had and lined the floor with frog tape then did a test run to see how it would look. (Sorry no pics with the frog tape. I was too excited to see the end result!)

The difference is ridiculous! This is one quick coat. Imagine after another coat? 

The difference is really pronounced where the painted and the non painted baseboards meet. (Don't mind the scratches...cats and babies are rough on wood. One day I may sand it and refinish it but the kids will have to be much older.)

Its definitely a rough coat and I cant wait to see how it looks after they are all done properly. I don't look forward to all that crouching down but I think it will be worth it.

Have you ever painted all your baseboards? Any tips you would like to share? We love input!

Saturday, March 8, 2014


There's this really awesome website called Goodreads. It allows you to track what you read and rate it, if you want to, and even write a review. You also have different 'shelves' so you can track not only what you have read, but what you want to read and what you are currently reading. I love this website and I've learned about some great books this way.

I just finished reading Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild about her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail when she was 22 years old. I really liked this book. So I thought I would share my review of it.

's review
Mar 08, 14  ·  edit
5 of 5 stars
Read from September 24, 2013 to March 06, 2014

“…the death of my mother was the thing that made me believe the most deeply in my safety: nothing bad could happen to me, I thought. The worst thing already had.”

This book. Maybe it was the death of my mom a little over a year ago. Maybe it was the nearly one year it took me to read this book. Yes, almost one year. Not because it was slow or boring or insignificant. This book took 11 months to read because I continually had to put it down. It bites. It drowns. It puts words to feelings I didn't even know I had until I read it and recognized it within myself.

I've read and heard about women who's mothers passed and they are sad, yes, but not floored. Strayed spoke to me as I was more than floored by the death of my mother, I was drowned by it. Once I came above water, I realized that my life was different, I was different. My life, at 33, was sectioned into before and after. That was how great a love I had for my mother and she for me. Strayed knows about that great love between mother and daughter. I am so grateful that she wrote this book and that I was able to read it at this time in my life. I needed it. I yearned for it before I actually knew about it.

I will miss my mother for the rest of my life, and even though I didn't swallow her bones whole, I know that she will always be a part of me. Strayed helped me see that a little bit. So yeah, I totally loved this book. But it was brutal.

Oh and, it made me want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. No, not really, but kind of. Whether the PCT or the Camino de Santigo de Campostela in Spain. Great grief seems to bring about the need for a long and arduous journey to do some deep soul searching. Alas, with two small children, I cannot take off on a pilgrimage. But I want to.

 “I made it the mantra of those days; when I paused before yet another series of switchbacks or skidded down knee-jarring slopes, when patches of flesh peeled off my feet along with my socks, when I lay alone and lonely in my tent at night I asked, often out loud: Who is tougher than me?The answer was always the same, and even when I knew absolutely there was no way on this earth that it was true, I said it anyway: No one.”

I could use some of that toughening up. :)

Good reading everyone!