Mrs Gets a Personal Credit Card!

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After 9 years of not having a credit card, I decided I was ready to take that level of adulting on again. I told Rob that I wanted a card that gave me cash back and that looked pretty and impressive coming out of my wallet (hello, black Amex!). After a couple hours of research he had found a card for me through Chase with no annual fee, 1% cash back on regular purchases, 3% cash back at restaurants and bars (which is where I typically use my personal credit card) and no annual fee. Having no annual fee was particularly important because I’m not going to spend enough on this card for the cash back to cover an annual fee. The only cons to this otherwise perfectly matched card is that it is not very pretty (maroon, silver and generic) and it’s an AARP branded card. Little did we know before this search, but you don’t have to be a member of AARP or even be 65+ years of age to get an AARP branded card. And really this was less of a negative to me as it was just plain funny.

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Aftermath of mistakenly using my card on a scam website!

Despite the card not being the beaut I was hoping for, it hit the rest of my must-haves. No one outside of family and friends have commented on the AARP branding, but I am excited for the day when a server takes the card and does a double take trying to figure out if I really do look this good at 65+!

 

Mrs is Flipping a House: Update!

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We are halfway through the renovation phase of the flipping process! It has been a crazy three weeks full of excitement, a few choice swear words, late nights, and unexpected problems. We have learned a lot about lawn care and interior painting, but we are looking forward to future projects (and hiring out more of the rehab next time). There are many activities in life where the phrase “If you want it done right, do it yourself” apply, but rehabbing a house (unless you are a handy person or contractor) is not one of those activities.

Putting the stress of learning new skills in a short amount of time aside, I have been enjoying finalizing the design, making endless runs to Home Depot, organizing the contractors and timeline, and watching the progress unfold. It is amazing how a house can starts looking new and fresh even with the rehab only partially finished.

Mrs’ 6 Things to do on Catalina Island!

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I first discovered Catalina Island six years ago when I joined Rob’s family on a vacation there. The minute I stepped off the boat I was hooked. It looks and feels like a small European beach town with it’s multi colored buildings, cobblestone pedestrian-only road, and the hill that it’s built into. Visiting Avalon on Catalina Island is an easy way to escape during the summer and feel like you are much further away from reality than you are. Here are 6 tips for planning your next (or first) trip to Catalina Island!

1– Start Vacay on the boat ride over! Catalina Island is 26 miles off the coast of LA and will take about an hour to get there by boat. Start your vacation with The Catalina Express’ famous spicy Bloody Mary and look out the window for passing dolphins!

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Sunset and the line for Big Olaf’s

2– Cool off with Ice Cream at Big Olaf’s! Enjoying a heaping scoop of your favorite classic flavor in a homemade waffle cone while you walk along the beach at sunset.

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View from Table 1

3- Get Wiki Whacked at Luau Larry’s! Enjoy a fruity, tropical beverage at Table 1 where you can people watch, smell the fresh air and feel the brisk ocean breeze.

 

4- See the Stunning Views with a Hike or Run! Rob and I do this loop (https://runkeeper.com/user/154099350/route/4357063) several times on our trips to Catalina and the views (and steep, steady inclines) are breathtaking!

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5- Pamper Yourself at Descanso Beach Club! Rent a pair of lounge chairs or a cabana in the club area of the beach and enjoy not having to get up for anything while you relax under the sun. You can also enjoy the private beach area for $2/day if the lounges and cabanas aren’t your thing.

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6- Experience the Sea Life by Snorkeling! Rent a mask and some fins and enjoy the many colorful creatures of the sea at either Lover’s Point or Casino Point. The amount of tropical fish you see will make you forget you’re only 26 miles off the coast of LA!

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Lazy Sunday Reading with Mrs!

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IMG_2419Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

3 out of 5 stars

Recommended: Yes!

Fingersmith is more than  500 pages and it felt a bit daunting to start. However, I was drawn in right away because of the strong, female lead character. As I continued to read, she was joined by other strong, female characters and that pulled me in even more. It was a thrilling look at feminism, nature versus nurture, and love. Getting to know these women as they found their voices and strength in a time when women weren’t allowed to be strong was inspiring. And that combined with all of the curve balls that Sarah Waters threw, had me desperate to know what would happen next. I found myself reading late into the night on many occasions.

The only thing I struggled with was the time period. I am not as familiar with the Victorian Era in Britain and every now and then I found it hard to immerse myself in the story because I didn’t know the history that they were alluding to or I got tripped up by the pronunciation of certain words.

However, the pros definitely outweighed the cons and it was a great beginning of summer read!

Mrs is Flipping a House!

Two months ago, we moved to Dallas, TX. The sole purpose of this move was to launch my real estate developing career. Finally, after seeing 30+ properties and researching 5+ Dallas neighborhoods, I found my first deal! I am the proud owner of a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home that needs a bit of love and updating before it can be sold to the next proud owners!

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I’ve spent the last few weeks putting together the scope of work for the rehab, getting bids for various tasks, and figuring out a realistic timeline to get it all done in. Our profit margin is very tight, so Rob and I are going to be doing a chunk of the work ourselves. I wasn’t expecting to be this hands on, but we are excited to learn a lot of new skills. I will be posting updates periodically, but if you want behind the scenes footage and more before and after pics, follow me on Instagram and like my page on Facebook!

Mrs’ Big Sur Camping Highlights!

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Driving from Carmel down Highway 1 (the PCH) is home to some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. And ending the drive in Big Sur with its beautiful giant redwoods next to the beach is truly a unique area and probably one of my favorite places in CA. My family has been going every summer since I was in high school and this year we were lucky enough to be able to go two weekends in a row! We celebrated my brother’s golden birthday the first weekend and the 4th of July the next. Here are my top 4 highlights from our trip to Big Sur this year.

  • Ice cream cake– my brother’s favorite kind of birthday cake is ice cream cake. And because I love a good challenge I decided that was exactly the kind of birthday cake he would get, even if we would be in the middle of a redwood forest. We layered vanilla ice cream sandwiches with cool whip, fresh strawberries and a touch of strawberry jam. Surprisingly it turned out fantastic (even though it was a little melty).
  • Nepenthe– Hands down my favorite restaurant in CA. The laid back vibes combined with the stunning views and the delicious food keep me coming back at least once every time we visit Big Sur. Enjoy the sunset snuggled up with pillows and a good cocktail, around the fire pit!
  • Drinks in the creek– The River Inn is a beautiful resting point that pops up almost as soon as you enter the redwoods portion of Hwy 1. There is a store, a hotel, a restaurant and a few boutique shops. We love walking over in the evening for cocktail hour and relaxing in an adirondack chair in the middle of the creek. The sun always shines through the trees just so, and the cold water is refreshing. Not to mention sharing all of that with good friends and family!
  • Singing around the campfire– It started with hits from the 90s one night and ended with patriotic tunes on the 4th of July. It was a memory I will never forget: watching all my loved ones, their faces glowing in the fire, trying to remember words to songs we used to know by heart.

Hosting a Bachelor/Bachelorette Viewing Party with Mrs!

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We watch the Bachelor or Bachelorette religiously and one of my favorite things to do is host viewing parties. Next time a group of your friends gets together to indulge in this guilty pleasure TV show, use the episode as the theme for the party and serve up some delicious food and saucy cocktails!  

Signature Food-

“The Bachelorette (Bachelor) in Pennsylvania Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches”

  • Thinly sliced steak, onions, peppers and mushrooms grilled
  • Various toppings like mayo, ketchup, american cheese or cheese whiz!
  • Everyone build your own!

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Signature Drink-

“Between the Sheets” pairs perfectly with the Fantasy Suite episode in any season.

  • 1.5 oz. Cognac
  • .5 oz. Benedictine
  • .5 oz. Cointreau
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Other ideas:

  • “The Bachelor (Bachelorette) in Italy Pasta Bar”
  • “The Bachelorette (Bachelor) in Texas Chips and Queso”
  • “The Bachelorette (Bachelor) in Thailand Homemade Curry”
  • “Night One Flame of Love Martini”
  • “The Villain Episode” a Whiskey Sour, or Rusty Nail named for that season’s particular villain.
  • “The Two-on-One Date Episode” a Screwdriver or Stinger

**All cocktails were found in a Vintage Cocktails book from Anthropologie.

Mr’s Trick for Consuming Less Sugar!

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We’ve all been learning recently about how bad sugar is for us, so Rob decided about a year ago that he wanted to be more aware of how much sugar he was eating. So like we do with a lot of our healthy lifestyle habits, he made it into a game. He can only eat dessert or sweets every 2+ weeks. In the beginning he used an app to track when he had dessert. It held him accountable so that he could get through the initial withdrawal (both physically and situationally) of not having sugar, until a routine was established and he could keep track in his head. Now that he only has it every two weeks, he doesn’t crave it like he used to.

He plans out his dessert consumption weeks in advance to make sure he can enjoy special events like holidays, birthdays or anniversaries and he is very strict about his rule. I’ve only seen him break it once and it was more about being polite than having the dessert. This trick has definitely helped him consume less sugar, but it has also made eating dessert more special. Anticipating the next time he will have something sweet makes it feel like an event and therefore he is more aware of what he is eating instead of mindlessly picking at something I’ve ordered.

Homesick Surprises for Mrs

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Anytime I’ve been away from the Bay Area, I’ve been homesick for it. It is where I grew up and where I have called home for the majority of my life. A few months ago though, when I was getting that familiar nostalgic feeling in my gut and my heart, I was surprised. I wasn’t feeling homesick for just one place. I was homesick for both the Bay Area and NYC. 

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Before we began this nomadic lifestyle almost two years ago, I thought a lot about how moving every few months would affect us. The things I thought about were obvious. I wanted to make sure we made new friends when we moved. I wanted our temporary houses to have the comfortable feeling of being home.  I even thought about what the best way for us to get our exercise in would be. But the thought never occurred to me to prepare to be homesick for two places at the same time. And what surprised me even more than that was that I was homesick for a place I had only lived in for 14 months!

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It was strange to me at first, but now when I have those moments of homesickness, I laugh a little at what the heart decides to grow fond of, feel glad that the feelings I had about leaving NYC haven’t wavered and I acknowledge how fortunate I am to have more than one place to feel homesick for.

Lazy Sunday Reading with Mrs: Fates and Furies

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Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Overall: 4 stars (out of 5)

Recommended: Yes!

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Lauren Groff’s writing style in Fates and Furies is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. She uses what’s called “third person omniscient point of view” and I found this particularly effective at making the novel feel more intimate. Because the narrator (and subsequently me as the reader) knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters, I felt like I wasn’t just reading about them, I was them. Their thoughts and feelings were my thoughts and feelings. I got lost in the story more than I have in any story I’ve read before this one. Simply saying ‘I couldn’t put it down’, does not adequately describe how much I enjoyed this book. There was a physical need I felt to be reading this book when I wasn’t. My mind craved being in the character’s minds.

I prefer to be transported into a reality far from mine when I read a book or watch a movie. Surprisingly, the fact that the novel didn’t transport me was what I loved most about it. It was a real love story. It was not told through a filtered lens. It was raw and uncomfortable with happy and sad endings. It was dramatic, passionate, and full of secrets. I could have been reading about my own love story, or yours.

If you’re looking for a book to read this summer, I highly recommend Fates and Furies!

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