The Living & Dining Room

I know, I know, I know. I have been promising these photos forever. The problem with living in an open layout like mine is that it is almost impossible to get the whole place clean for good photos. Well, we’re all in luck because last Thursday was the apartment’s annual inspection, whatever that means, and we made sure the whole place was spic and span. I’m finally ready to reveal the main living space of the 825 sq. ft. apartment we affectionately call the Shoebox-by-the-Bay (a little ripoff of the community Cardiff-by-the-Sea… gotta love the chain of hyphens).

It sure is a learning curve going from our old place where we had to actually remove doors when we moved in, to a place that has three doors, total, including the front door. What an open layout! Here is the living and dining area from the kitchen. I love this shot:

Living and Dining Area

And here is a shot from the entry. Does this look like a bad real estate photo? This place is kind of dim and so awkward to shoot. I hope I am communicating the idea of the space, though!

Living and Dining Area

One of my goals with the blog and with this current apartment in particular is to show how living within constraints–decorating rules dictated by a landlord or management company, financial restraints due to the recession or just starting out on one’s own, for two examples–does not have to prevent a person from having a home with unique style.

Sometimes I get disheartened by so many blogs that I read. It’s not the blogs themselves that are disheartening–the opposite is true! They are so inspiring but I get frustrated that I can’t buy my own fixer-upper home, or redo my kitchen, or build a wall full of built-ins to make my home one-of-a-kind. I would say that there are at least fifty units exactly like mine in my complex, however I have made the place comfortable and infused it with personality. All without a kitchen remodel, or even anything as simple as painting a wall.

At the end of the day, I want to inspire my friends and readers who might be living in a huge complex like mine, or at home with their parents, or with some roommates, or simply on a strict budget, to take what they have, renew, refresh, or recycle it, and to steal furniture off the side of the street like there’s no tomorrow. Wink.

Enough of my soapbox. A few more photos…

Living and Dining Area

The purple book above is the ONLY book Mosey has ever chewed on–and it was right when we got him (he was 7 months old). It’s unfortunate, though, because Family is a really unique photography book!

One of my favorite things about the place is the gigantic pass-through that connects the kitchen to the rest of the space. What would otherwise be a cramped galley kitchen seems much more spacious. This is what one sees, sitting on the couch:

Living and Dining Area

Here’s our TV situation. Nope, we still don’t have a proper media unit. I’ve blogged about this before. I do have some construction plans rolling around in my brain, though, so my freshly-retired dad might be enlisted to help me build a little something-something soon. We’ll see what happens. Also featured (right photo) the blogger’s nightmare trifecta: popcorn ceiling, boob light, and ceiling fan. I sure was grateful for that fan during hot, hot move-in day, though.

Living and Dining Area

Hope you liked the little tour of 75% of our apartment! I’ve grouped some photos onto a revamped home tour page, but it’s still a work in progress over there as far as details go.

I hope my little soapbox interlude up there inspired you to make the most of wherever you are living!

Questions? Comments? I see that hand raised in the back! 

Closing Out 2012

As I type this, I am trying to ignore a nagging sore throat/cold that has lingered on for eight or nine days. Just when I have a good day and think it’s beat, the next day knocks me down worse than ever. I called in sick to work (RARE for me!) one day but have valiantly made it through several more since I managed to suppress symptoms with DayQuil.

When under the weather, it is really easy to dwell on the bad things, and that’s not really how I want to close 2012 out. Overall, it was an amazing year.

Early in the year I photographed our old house for the blog and I love those pictures–when I look at them I really want to go back. We put a lot of love into the house, inside and out, and I hope the new residents love it as much as we did.


However, I am so happy that we finally made the leap–and made my dream of moving back to San Diego a reality. Financially it has not been a walk in the park, but it’s something that we are proud to have accomplished. In some ways, the city is as if I never left. In other ways it is so much better (namely–Doug and Mosey are here with me)!

Merry Christmas from Staci, Doug, and Mosey

Not to mention our epic trip to Europe this summer–(parts one, two, and three), which was only six months ago but feels so far away…


Our New Year’s Resolution for 2012 was to make the final payment on our car, which we didn’t accomplish due to moving, but we have made some great progress toward financial freedom and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting nearer. My other goal of losing weight didn’t get accomplished either, however when I look at the highlights of the past 12 months I am glad things are the way they are. Accomplishments in other areas that we didn’t even plan–It’s important to weigh out the highs and the lows and get balance.

2012 was an awesome year–I hope 2013 is just as good if not better. Here are a few resolutions–vague ones which will be much easier to check off next December, right?

  • Get over this stinking cold! 
  • Eat more healthily
  • Exercise more
  • Make at least one major trip for our anniversary
  • Pay off the car
  • Put more money into savings

What are you planning to work on? 

Reflections on Yard Work

The most recent photo of our exterior

Living in the hacienda marked our first year of taking care of a yard of our own. So here are some reflections–including a few contributions by Doug as well.

  • Raking leaves is the worst.

One good thing about this winter is that it was comparatively mild. We didn’t get any blizzards or snowed-in days. Unfortunately, this meant that the leaves took forever to fall, little by little. Our street is filled with old houses and mature trees– this translated into LOTS of leaves for a long time, since each species of tree dropped leaves at different times. We must have taken a pickup-bed full of leaves to the dump at least five times throughout the fall and winter!

  • Mild winters are awesome

One–we didn’t have to buy a snow shovel since the previous tenants had left one in the garage. WINNING! Two–we only had to use the snow shovel but once or twice since the winter was extremely mild. I was expecting the worst since in February and March 2011 my car got totally buried a couple of times.

  • Doug loves mowing the lawn.

I’m so happy for this fact. If it were up to me, I’d mow once a month. However, beginning in March-April, Doug started mowing the lawn when he got home from work every Friday (to get it over with before the weekend). Being a sports buff, he liked mowing it on the diagonal to make it look like the sports fields he’s seen on TV since he was little. To mow our “back forty,” the section beyond the wire fence) he had to awkwardly/sneakily cut through the neighbor’s carport so he only mowed that every 2-3 weeks. That section of the yard isn’t used at all, and is mostly weeds, but chopping everything down to an even level every so often really made it look nicer.

  • Related to the above: Edging really makes a difference.

Chalk it up to laziness, but I never saw the reason Doug pulled out the weed-whacker every time he mowed as well. (Eventually, the edging was reduced to every 2 weeks–once it got ridiculously hot). Again, if it were up to me, I would not have edged a thing! Truthfully, I could tell a big difference after edging and I’m glad he took the time to do it (even if he had to buy two extension cords to get all the way to the sidewalk!).

  • Planting seeds works!!

Back in March, we were shocked when a bulb came up all on its own. So I got all excited and planted a few packets of seeds I picked up from Wal-Mart for just a couple bucks each. Much to my surprise, around May, flowers started coming up!! I had seeded really really heavily since I was suspicious of them being picked up by birds or not beginning to grow at all. Big mistake. I really should have put them down with more thought and purpose. Turns out, lots of them grew and eventually ended up crowding each other out. We had to pull out all the poppies in August since they were yellow and withered, and eventually pulled out the cosmos and zinnias too.

  • Mulch makes a big difference–at first.

You can read about our (not-so-exciting) mulching adventures here. The bed looked fantastic until the cosmos and zinnias went crazy, got insanely tall (the zinnias over 5 feet!) and the bermuda grass started coming back through as well. If we had taken the time to weed a few times a week, we might have been able to keep it at bay, but temps were regularly over 100 this summer–and didn’t cool down in the evening like this California girl is used to!! I was not going to spend time out there. Oh, and did I mention how my body overreacts to mosquitoes? No, thank you. I’ll stay in and let the bermuda grass come through.

  • Watering is a huge pain.

Growing up, my parents always had underground sprinkler systems (that they installed themselves!) that made watering a no-brainer. To be honest, I didn’t notice a huge jump in the water bill like I’d been expecting, but hooking up the hose to the sprinkler and moving it around the yard was a huge pain. Not to mention, forgetting it was on at all! Some sections of the yard really benefitted from our forgetfulness. Doug and I had a standoff regarding how much/often to water, and we eventually compromised with watering most days–but not until the sun had started going down. Being a drought-conscious SoCal girl, it is heresy to water during peak/daylight hours (but people in our town do it all the time!!).

Do you remember any impressions you had from the first time you had your own yard? I’m glad we had this experience but, honestly, it’s a relief that we’ll be moving into an apartment complex with professional gardeners!