I got smacked in the face…

… by a palm tree! Yes, you read that correctly. I was running today to get in my 5 training miles and I misjudged how low the leaves of a palm tree were hanging. Smack! Truthfully, it only grazed my forehead, but I don’t suggest running into a palm tree’s leaves. It doesn’t feel so great. Clearly, I laughed right after this happened.

Speaking of trees, it is h.o.t. outside and there is practically no shade to run in. If you run in the summer, you know what I’m talking about. Running on the shady (not to be confused with “shady”) side of the street whenever you can is a must. I should point out that it’s kind of humid here for typically being such a dry climate, but everyone we talk to tells us that this humidity is unusual for the area. Thank goodness. I grew up in one of the most humid climates I’ve ever experienced, and running outside at this time of year is practically not even an option there. So, I feel lucky that it’s pretty dry here, otherwise. Trees here don’t provide much shade for running, parking your car and leaving it for a while or reading a book outside. Palm trees and most any tree I’ve seen are just not big shade providers. :/ Typically we have a lot of clouds in the very early morning, but by 9 am, it’s sunny and there’s not a cloud in the sky.

I try to always remember to use sunscreen, because the sun is a bit brutal, too. And I laugh whenever I need to cross the street and wait for the light to turn red. Do you know about trying to stand in the minimal line of shade that the street light poles provide? Again, it’s laughable. And I bet the drivers who pass me are laughing, too. I’m ok with that. But if you can get that little bit of shade from a tree or pole, it feels about 10 degrees cooler (to me), and it’s glorious.

So, we’re halfway through our training cycle for the L.A. 1/2 Marathon. If you haven’t been following me or reading my blog, I’m running on Team ASPCA, and we have such a great team! Together, we’ve raised over $130,000 for abused and homeless animals. I’ve reached 1/3 of my goal, but I still need help! Please share my page with your pet-loving friends. And if you have a bit to donate, please do! Here’s my fundraising page. Or you can send a check–just e-mail me for where to send it. If your employer matches donations, that’s even better. You will receive a receipt for your donation for your tax records. Thank you!

And here’s the collage that our coach, Victoria put together after last week’s long run. That’s me in the teal shorts. Wish me luck this week… 10 miles on Saturday! xo

aspca oc_2


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No two runs are the same

No two runs are ever the same. And no run is ever “easy”. I was thinking about this today on my training run, which felt really good for the most part. It wasn’t easy, because it was pretty hot by the time I went out, but it was easier than other days have been lately. I decided at the beginning to just keep my mind in the moment, enjoy my surroundings and not think about the long list of things I have to do, especially with work.

I’m not sure if that made today’s run easier than other days last week, but let me tell you… Saturday’s long run was tough. Several of us on the OC team are in the advanced group, so we were scheduled to do 8 miles. Yes, I ran all 8, but only about the first 5 felt great. After that, we all felt it starting to heat up. This is why we meet at 7:00 am on Saturdays. In fact, as I mentioned before, this is probably why the park where we meet is packed before we even arrive.

Something that I kept telling myself on Saturday was that running is a very mental sport. Typically, if your mind is willing, your body will follow. This couldn’t be more true for me on most runs. I tend to be a very self-motivated person, and I usually don’t feel the need for any outside motivation when I’m working toward something. But the fact that we’re all running as a team to raise money to save animals from abuse and to relocate homeless animals makes it that much more motivating to get out there and get the job done.

Well, my mind was willing, but around mile 7, my body was tired. I made good time, but I’d really like to break my personal best of 1:51 in my half marathon this year, so we’ll see if I can get my mind in shape to keep up my speed to do that. As I said, each run is different from the last. Sometimes it’s hot, or extremely windy. Other times your legs just feel like lead. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep? Enough water? Who knows? I certainly take my rest days, but you often don’t know what to expect when you lace up your shoes and head out the door. The one thing that is always true… the feeling after a good run is always great.

After  I finished my 8 miles, I knew I’d done what I showed up to do. I felt great, and I was ready to enjoy the rest of the day. Our coach was on vacation this past week, but 5 of us showed up, and we had a great time. This is such a fun group. Stay tuned for more updates and pet dedications coming up soon!

OC Team_081614

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Running, Team ASPCA


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Project 365: Weeks 40 and 41

I’m finally caught up! It’s been some time since I’ve been up to date on my Project 365, and it feels good to not feel behind anymore. I hope I can maintain it, but life is busy! Here are Weeks 40 and 41. Enjoy and please feel free to comment, as always!

Most of the photos for these weeks are from Santa Monica and San Juan Capistrano (as marked). We had a great time the last two Saturdays, hanging out and enjoying these places. Can’t wait to go back!

Day 274 (August 1, 2014): Moped reflections in Santa Monica

Day274_Moped reflectionsDay 275 (August 2, 2014): Santa Monica street mural

Day275_Santa Monica Street ArtDay 276 (August 3, 2014): Santa Monica Pier traffic

Day276_Pier trafficDay 277 (August 4, 2014): Santa Monica Pier

Day277_Santa Monica PierDay 278 (August 5, 2014): Fountain on Main Street in Santa Monica

Day278_Fountain on MainDay 279 (August 6, 2014): Farm fresh peaches (Farmer’s market in Fullerton, CA)

Day279_PeachesDay 280 (August 7, 2014): Red, red, red, green! (Farmer’s market in Fullerton, CA)

Day280_ApplesDay 281 (August 8, 2014): My personal coffice at one of my favorite places in Fullerton. This almond croissant was unbelievably good. :)

Day281_CofficeDay 282 (August 9, 2014): Super moon behind a palm tree (Placentia, CA)

Day282_Super moon with palm treeDay 283 (August 10, 2014): Camino Capistrano (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

Day283_Camino CapistranoDay 284 (August 11, 2014): Church –> (at the Mission in San Juan Capistrano, CA)

Day284_Church -->Day 285 (August 12, 2014): Mission Bell (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

Day285_Mission BellDay 286 (August 13, 2014): I shall rise again (Mission in San Juan Capistrano, CA)

Day286_ResurgamDay 287 (August 14, 2014): Mission Door (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

Day287_Mission Door


Have you been to Santa Monica or San Juan Capistrano? Which do you prefer (yes, I know they’re quite different!)? Which photo do you like the best of the Mission? I’m thinking of framing one.


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Project 365: Weeks 38 and 39

I’m slowly catching up again, and here are two weeks of my Project 365. Feel free to offer CC (constructive criticism)!

Day 260 (July 18, 2014): Red rock formation (Utah)

Day260_Red rock formationDay 261 (July 19, 2014): Church doors

Day261_Church doorsDay 262 (July 20, 2014): Stained glass window

Day262_Stained glass windowDay 263 (July 21, 2014): Farmhouse lights, blue awning and brick

Day263_Farmhouse Lights, blue and brickDay 264 (July 22, 2014): Water glassesDay 264 (July 22, 2014): Water glasses

Day264_Water glassesDay 265 (July 23, 2014): Coffee and croissant. Every time I see this photo, I want another croissant and a latte. :)

Day265_Coffee and croissantDay 266 (July 24, 2014): Mexican Skeleton. This guy is in a great restaurant on Main Street in Santa Monica, CA called Lula Cocina Mexicana. Amazing food!

Day266_Mexican skeletonDay 267 (July 25, 2014): barcopa. This sign caught my eye because of the simplicity and the rich , but faded red wall behind the worn lettering.

Day267_barcopaDay 268 (July 26, 2014): Coffee chats

Day268_Coffee chatDay 269 (July 27, 2014): Salad delivery wheels. Apparently you can get just about anything delivered. ;)

Day269_Salad deliveryDay 270 (July 28, 2014): Pops of green

Day270_Pops of greenDay 271 (July 29, 2014): Bubble Beach Laundry

Day271_Bubble beach laundryDay 272 (July 30, 2014): The Galley Mermaid

Day272_The Galley MermaidDay 273 (July 31, 2014): Fork Santa Monica. Talk about cool signage!

Day273_Fork Santa Monica

Thanks for reading, as always. Have a good week, friends!


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Team ASPCA: Week 4 Training and the OC Team


Last Saturday was my first time running with the Orange County Team ASPCA group. We had such a good time! The group met up at 7:00 a.m. at Yorba Regional Park and we had a chance to chat with each other for a few minutes beforehand. I was one of three people doing the advanced training run (7 miles) this week, so after some dynamic stretching, we started the first leg together.

oc collageWe quickly spread out, as we don’t all run the same pace. So, it was nice to just soak up the cool air and views of the nearby Anaheim Hills on my own. There were some herons around the first part of our run on the Santa Ana Trail. And lots of people were out there early, trying to beat the heat. In fact, when I arrived at the park, I was shocked to see that the parking lot was full. It definitely warms up here around 10 am, so it made sense that people wanted to get in their workouts early.

Luckily, the course was really well marked with orange cones every half mile and water at miles 2, 4 and 7. I don’t typically drink much on my runs, but the sun and dry air made me pretty thirsty. I really enjoyed the trail, but was even more pleasantly surprised with the path through the shady and green park. If you know Southern California, you know it’s mostly dry and brown. So, this park is a little diamond in the rough. The outer path of the park stretches for 3 miles and brings you back to the area where we all parked. It definitely made the miles fly by.

photo 3

At the end of our run, we met back at the ASPCA table and snacked on trail mix, pretzels, gatorade and water. We also posed for the photo above with fans featuring Larry the dog. Larry is the mascot for the No Pet Store Puppies campaign to end puppy mills. He’s often spotted at ASPCA events, too.

Several folks brought their pups out to run with them on Saturday. One of our team members adopted her dog Lacey just two weeks ago so that she would have a running pal. :)

photo 2 (8)

Victoria, our SoCal coach, is a really energetic lady. She’s funny and extremely supportive of everyone, no matter their fitness level. Originally from London, she’s been living in California for the past 8 years. She frequently runs marathons and practices yoga. This is nice, because at the end of the run, she teaches a new yoga pose each week that is especially helpful for runners.

So far, thanks to some incredibly generous family and friends, I’ve raised 24% of my fundraising goal. Please consider skipping your soy latte (or your drink of choice) today and donating that $5 to efforts to end animal cruelty! To donate, please visit my fundraising page or send me a note if you’d rather donate by check. Every little bit helps! Thanks, friends!

Photo credit: 1) Victoria, 2) me, 3) Victoria.



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Project 365: Weeks 36 and 37

Two weeks of my Project 365 are finally ready, although I’m still a bit behind. I hope to get out this afternoon to shoot some street photography and will be trying to catch up again in the coming week or so. For now, enjoy! Please feel free to offer CC (constructive criticism), as always.

Week 36

Day 246 (July 4, 2014): Pickerman’s on Jay Street. I really liked the shape of this sign and how they used it to reflect their product.

Day246_Soup signDay 247 (July 5, 2014): Potter’s hands. I stopped into this workshop/shop in downtown La Crosse, WI to pick up some gifts for some friends. When I saw this potter working on a mug, I quickly asked her if I could take a few shots. Without a second of hesitation, she said, “Of course. I’m a photographer, too.” See, it’s always worth asking! ;)

Day247_Potter's handsDay 248 (July 6, 2014): Handmade

Day248_Potter's hands_2Day 249 (July 7, 2014): Afternoon quiet and coffee. My favorite coffee shop in downtown La Crosse, WI (Grounded on Main St.).

Day249_Grounded coffee shopDay 250 (July 8, 2014): Hangers on the move

Day250_HangersDay 251 (July 9, 2014): Yellow bicycle

Day251_Yellow bicycleDay 252 (July 10, 2014): At the shop. We were at the shop last week to get a smog test in our new city, and I saw this van/truck parked outside. It struck me as an intriguing urban shot, because it’s rare that you see a plant when you visit the mechanic.

Day252_At the shop

Week 37

Day 253 (July 11, 2014): Wind turbines in Minnesota. We saw many of these are all over western MN, Iowa and Kansas. Wind energy!

Day253_Wind turbines in MinnesotaDay 254 (July 12, 2014): Picturesque. I may have at least 5 shots that are similar to this one from our drive through Utah. Breathtaking.

Day254_PicturesqueDay 255 (July 13, 2014): Drink… coffee. This sign is on the wall at our favorite new-to-us bakery here in SoCal. I like how they cut out some of the brick to make a pass-through window of sorts. It allows you to see the sign and lights. Smart design–I love it!

Day255_Drink coffeeDay 256 (July 14, 2014): Geometric lighting. This is in the same bakery. I love the geometric light fixtures. I need to figure out how to make one! The globe lights and plants on the charcoal gray wall also make me happy. :)

Day256_Geometric lightingDay 257 (July 15, 2014): Afternoon goodness. Need I say more?!

Day257_Afternoon goodnessDay 258 (July 16, 2014): Afternoon farmers market. We came across this farmers market the other day when we were running errands. We knew it took place on Thursdays, but we’d forgotten about it. I picked up a succulent and some blueberries from some local vendors.

Day258_Afternoon farmers marketDay 259 (July 17, 2014): Gloomy sky over beauty. This is another shot from our cross-country trip. So much to take in, and it makes you feel so small and insignificant.

Day259_Gloomy sky over beautyHope you’re having a good Sunday. Will share more here soon! xo



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A humbling moment

Last weekend we had a garage sale before our upcoming move. It wasn’t too much work in general. I’d been gathering things to send off to Goodwill for a while, since we knew we were moving. However, there were several things that I knew were still so new or hardly used/worn, that we could make a little bit of money from selling them. I really didn’t have time to worry about doing a lot of extra advertising, so I just placed an ad in the paper and bought a few signs from Home Depot to put out. I’d noticed that once the weather got warmer around here in late May, the garage sales starting popping up every weekend. So, I knew that we would get a crowd if we placed our signs correctly. Saturday morning came, and we had plenty of shoppers (or “rummagers”).

Up here, people often use the term “rummage sale” instead of “garage sale”, which you do also hear, but not as much. Have you ever thought about how many words there are for these kinds of things? Seriously, think about it… we have rummage, yard, garage, tag and thrift sales. I’m sure there are more words that I don’t even know, but I found it interesting to think about all the terms we use and how they differ, depending on where you are geographically. Yes, I am a nerd and I work with words… I digress.

So, we had a good crowd of people come to our sale, and we sold quite a bit. Our main goal was to get rid of things we don’t use/need/want anymore, and whatever money we made, we’d be happy. We had at least 5 people comment on how unique our items were. I think that helped, as we ended up selling a lot of home decor items. In fact, that was the majority of our revenue that day. At one point around 1 pm, a young girl stopped by. She was with an older woman (her grandmother, perhaps?), who waited in their van while she looked around. I tried to greet everyone who came by, and perhaps it’s my southern self talking here, but I enjoy talking to people, even strangers. So, I asked if she was looking for anything in particular. She said she was moving into a new apartment. I told her that I remember moving into my first apartment and piecing together different items to make it feel more like a home. I pointed out a few things she might like, and she mentioned that she liked some of them. At one point, she started to seem a little uncomfortable. So, I stopped talking and let her look for herself. After looking at everything, she said she might come back later and quickly walked back to her van.

I mentioned to my husband that I doubted she’d be back, as it was already close to the end of our sale. Since there were so many sales in our area that day, I figured she was going to browse around other sales and see if she could find something more her style or in her price range. Honestly, these were my assumptions, because our items were priced very low, but you never know what people are looking to spend. I thought very little about it after that, since plenty of people stop by garage sales and don’t find something to buy. At 3 pm, we started to bring what was left inside and take apart our tables. My husband grabbed our signs from the road, and we started to gather what was left to donate.

Then, I heard a car stop close to our drive and I looked up. It was the same girl that stopped by earlier in the afternoon. I walked over to their van and asked her if there was anything she’d like to see again, because we were just starting to put things away and she was more than welcome to still look and buy whatever she liked. She came back to the garage with me and said she would like to buy a few items she’d seen the first time she was there. I started to pull things out for her from the piles we’d gathered, and she picked a few things. Remembering how I just really wanted to get rid of these items, I decided to give her a few items, too. I asked what else she might need and she picked out a basket. After filling two bags, she asked what she owed. $3.50. She looked at me in shock. “Really? That’s all?” she asked me. “Yep, that’s it.” I could tell she didn’t have the means to pay much, and she couldn’t have been more than 18 years old. I knew she needed these things and that she was being very careful about how much money she should spend.

As we were picking up the bags to help her put them in her van, I asked her if she needed a kitchen cart for her kitchen. I told her I’d give it to her for free if she wanted it. Again, a look of shock. “Yes, really. We are happy to give it to you if you can use it,” I told her.  She admitted that her kitchen was very small and a kitchen cart would help a lot with storage.

In fact, that’s why we bought the cart in the first place. When we had a smaller apartment with a small kitchen and little storage, it came in very handy. We simply didn’t need it anymore. I could tell she was excited to have it, so we brought it over to the van, too. When she opened the sliding door, I saw a little guy in the back seat. He looked like he was about 2 years old. She told us he was her son. Immediately I felt like this was supposed to happen. She came back to get these few extra items to start putting together their home. And then, as soon as they drove away, I felt an immediate sense of guilt. I really did not think she would have come back for anything after she left the first time. I wished I had thought to give her more. After all, we were going to donate the rest anyhow. I know that she chose what she wanted from what we had left, but I still had a twinge of guilt the rest of the day, thinking that I could have done more.

All this to say, it’s important to remember that we don’t know what others are dealing with in life. This humbling experience made me stop for a while after what has been an incredibly hectic and stressful month and think about how quickly we can judge a situation without considering someone else’s struggles. It makes our everyday annoyances and complaints seem silly in comparison. I don’t usually share these types of things on my blog, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week. Kind of wordy… I know. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading.

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Miscellaneous


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