Cali On My Mind

I had a time tough thinking of a domain name that I liked. I knew I wanted to blog about my time here in Texas (which I have been very lazy about if you haven’t noticed), and I knew I would probably be homesick from time to time. Cali On My Mind came to me, and while yes, “Cali” is short for California, this is also Cali.

We got her when I was in high school when she was just a puppy. I named her. And believe it or not, I was not a “dog person” before we got her. Those of you who know me well, know that I stare at every dog that I pass on the street. She was mischievous, chewed on my clothes and flip flops, and was always hungry. Through the years though, she became fairly well behaved, fiercely independent and strangely very attached at the same time. At home, she would be very content doing her own thing unless you have food, but on off leash hikes, you wouldn’t be able to “lose” her if you tried. She was my favorite hiking buddy. Two years ago in March, we had to put her down. She was 11 years old, and my heart broke in a way that I thought it never could be broken.

In college, both my grandparents passed away within a few years of each other. I liked to think we were pretty close, but to be honest, Cali’s passing affected me so much more. For a while, I felt a little ashamed that I was more upset over my dog’s passing than my grandparents’ passing. Now that more time has passed, I’ve realized that it is okay. It is okay to be sad. It is okay to be angry. Her situation versus my grandparents was very sudden and made it that much harder. When you choose to have a pet in your life, they become a permanent part of your life, and they are hopelessly devoted to you. Your relationship with them is different from any other relationship you have with people, even family, so it is okay to react and feel differently. Do not feel bad about it.

Sometimes my mind will wander to Cali or I’ll be watching dog videos (whenever I giggle at home, Ken always asks if I’m watching a dog video) and be reminded of her. Sometimes I’m okay, and sometimes I miss her terribly. Either way, I know it’s only because she brought me so much joy.

Hello 2018!

How is it already 2018? It’s pretty insane. The years really do go by faster as you get older. It feels like just yesterday that I was celebrating 2017. This past year has been pretty much a blur. Here’s some highlights before I forget with old age.

          Ken and I got engaged right before we left for our quick trip to Costa Rica. Costa Rica was beautiful and a much calmer way of life. I did not enjoy all the gravel roads, so hooray for infrastructure at home. We visited the Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, and the beach. We did lots of hiking, ate yummy Costa Rican food, visited natural hot springs, saw monkeys, went ziplining, and hung out at the beach.

          After years and years of debating whether it was time to move to Texas, I finally decided it was time, and made a decision to move in May. Leaving my family, friends, and work was really hard. Thankfully, the transition wasn’t too difficult and I was able to continue working from home for a few months which was an absolute god send.

          We tried to be adults and decided it made financial sense to buy a house instead of rent. We spent a lot of time looking at houses. Our real estate agent warned that they would all start looking the same after a while, and I didn’t believe him. Turned out to be true. We finally came across a house that was a pretty good fit for us and in the right price range. The whole house buying process was a good learning experience. Looking back, we probably could have bought the house for a little cheaper, but you live and learn. Since closing on the house, we had some repairs done, and I became a pro painter (not really). But, since Ken was working so much, I did a lot of the painting and man, it is hard work! Crab grass is also terrible.

          We went home to California for a wedding the weekend Hurricane Harvey hit. We weren’t able to fly back for a whole week. I didn’t mind because I was still working from home at the time and that meant I had more time at home. We had been trying to figure out when we would have time to fly home and take our engagement photos, and luckily for us, our photographer was able to squeeze us in the week we were stuck at home. The photo shoot was unbelievably awkward for us, but I actually adore our photos. Our poor photographer who had to put up with our inability to be natural in front of a camera.

          I started my new job in Houston! New jobs are always an exciting but scary time for me. It takes time to fully understand your job responsibilities, and also to get used to a new work environment and coworkers. Ultimately, I like to think that there is something new to learn with every job and I love learning new things.

          Even though we both just wanted to elope at City Hall, somebody’s parents (hint: not mine) were not loving the idea. After consulting with my parents, friends, and coworkers, most of the advice was that it’s a nice thing to do for family and you do not want to piss off your in laws from the very beginning. So guess what we’ve been doing for a lot of 2017 and more in 2018…wedding planning (insert eye roll). As a compromise, we ae still doing our ceremony at City Hall but are hosting a reception. I do not enjoy planning things, and would prefer not to plan things if I don’t need to. I am a perfectionist and detail oriented for work, but generally, I’m a pretty loosey goosey person. So all the millions of little details that go into wedding planning annoy me, but the perfectionist in me also wants things to look nice.

I also think the amount of money people spend on weddings is absurd, which is another reason I wanted to forgo the whole thing to begin with. I didn’t want to feed into the insanity of the wedding industry. By now, I’ve accepted the fact that we could have bought a brand new car with our wedding money, so all is good. I suppose we should be thankful that we can pay for it ourselves. At the end of the day, I’m sure we will have a blast with our friends and family. We just have to deal with everything that comes before it :).

          We went on some short weekend trips to Denver and Charlotte. Both places were pretty nice. I enjoyed Charlotte more than I thought I would. It’s a city but with a small town feel. We happened to be there during one of the Bank of America Museum weekends, so a lot of the major museums were free. The history museums were my favorite. It’s easy to forget how much of the nation’s history is in the south.

          My family came to visit us during Thanksgiving and that was nice. I showed them around the area and my parents helped do a lot of house stuff for us. We’ve been meaning to install window screens so we can open the windows without mosquitos getting in, but we never got around to it. My daddy woke up early one morning, went to home depot to buy supplies, and made all the screens for us in one day. In case you’re wondering why I’m a daddy’s girl, this is why.

Prisoner of Sleep

I am a person who loves sleep. I also need a lot of it. I’m talking 8-9 hours is my optimum amount. Anything less than 8 hours means I’ll be slightly grumpy, with my grumpiness level increasing with less sleep. Late night studying in college? No, I was usually in bed by 11pm and would still have trouble making it to my 8am class. The only times I stayed up was if I was cramming for a midterm/final or trying to finish a paper. It was also the only time I actually sat at my desk. My usual place of study was…you guessed it, my bed!

When I first moved to Texas, I was really lucky and was able to telecommute for a while. This was like a dream come true for my sleep loving self, plus no commute. Back in September, I started a new job in downtown Houston, which on a perfect day with no traffic, is an hour drive from our house. Houston traffic is pretty terrible and starts very early, so I opted to drive to a park and ride, midway between Galveston and Houston, and ride the bus in. My employer pays for my bus pass, so that saves me a lot of money per week. With driving to the park and ride and riding the bus in, my total commute time ends up on average being a whopping 1.5 hours each way.

We are also trying our hardest to be a one car household, which in an area with limited public transit options, proves to be a bit difficult. You would think that with how flat Houston is and how much urban sprawl there is, a rail system would work great. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any big plans for that. I know cause I read the transit plan for the Houston-Galveston area, much to my disappointment. Ken has been on a funky schedule the past couple months, working a few days in between Galveston and Houston, and a couple days in Galveston. On the days he works outside Galveston, I drop him off on my way to the park and ride, which thankfully is not too much of a detour. On Wednesdays he has these meetings that start at 6am, so I’ve been trying to squeeze in a run before work since I get to downtown early.

Right now, I’m working 9 hour days, and take half days on Fridays. You can guess how much I love Fridays. In order to get to work at 7:30am, I have to wake up at 5:30am. I have been doing fairly well with this schedule, considering I have never had to wake up this early in my life. However, in order to be a functional human being, I have to be in bed usually around 9-9:30pm, especially on Wednesdays. Total granny status, which makes me very sad. When I get home from work, I only have a few hours to spare before I need to go to bed and repeat. Props to parents who have to go to work and still have enough energy to take care of their kids when they get home. I have enough trouble taking care of myself sometimes.

DIY Backyard Composting

After a failed attempt to do an open air compost pile (probably due to the constant random down pours in Galveston), finally found a little time and energy to set up my backyard compost bin for our leftover food scraps! No guarantees that it works since I literally just set up it up, but I’ll definitely do an update post. Here’s how to replicate in 5 easy steps:

1. Get a big plastic container. There are many different containers/set ups you can use for your backyard compost bin, ranging from old crates to chicken wire. This seemed the easiest for me at the moment. I am a little worried about chemicals leaching out from the plastic, but I figured I would set this up to see if it works first and perfect it later. You can use an old plastic storage container or go out and buy one for a few bucks.

2. Drill holes on all sides of your container (if you’re using a plastic container) for air flow. 20170919_1826501.jpg

3. Fill the bin 1/4 or so with dry brown waste (dead leaves, branches, shredded cardboard/newspaper, etc). We have plenty of dead leaves around our house so I mixed some of that with some shredded cardboard for my bin.20170919_192239[1]

4. Fill the bin with soil until it’s half full. We don’t have any excess soil hanging around so I just used potting soil that I had available.20170919_192305[1]

5. Mix your food scraps in with the dirt and add some water. I’ve been saving food scraps up for the past couple weeks in the fridge. Ken mentioned at one point that we had more garbage in the fridge than actual food. I added enough water so that the soil was slightly wet and spongy but not soaking. Put the lid back on and set it in a shady area. Then you’re done!


I intend to continue adding food scraps maybe once or twice a week. I have read that you should mix the new food scraps with dirt and add a little water every time, similar to the initial steps. I’ll let y’all know how it goes 🙂


Random Tidbits

Just five random tidbits that I wanted to share 🙂

  1. My favorite place that I’ve visited in the area so far is the Anahuac Wildlife Refuge. It’s not exactly close to us – we have to take a ferry to Bolivar Peninsula (which is free), and then drive about an hour to get there. Though it was smaller than I imagined, it was pretty cool. There were so many different birds and alligators. One of the volunteers said they saw an otter earlier in the morning. We weren’t so lucky, but we did see a pretty big gator. Planning to take my parents when they visit in September.
  1. Everything molds here. Ken and I went to Portland for a couple days without leaving the AC on, and we came back to a moldy office chair! My suede shoes also were moldy. Of all things that can mold…so annoying. Now we leave the AC on all the time, even if we set the temperature really high.
  1. I have learned that I will totally be a helicopter mom, if and when we decide to have kids. How do I know? Because I’m trying to grow some vegetables for the backyard at the house and I watch over them like a hawk. It makes me really happy to see them do well, and I get very worried when they are not looking too good. I imagine that’s what it’s like to have kids, haha.
  1. We have the option of picking where my energy source comes from – yay wind power! The energy market is deregulated here in TX, so I can choose what company to buy my energy from. In the Bay Area, there is only one gas and electric provider, PG&E. Here, since there are multiple companies, you have to do your homework to see which companies offer the best rates. Many energy companies here offer 100% renewable energy options, so our house is currently being powered by 100% wind power, which is absolutely awesome. Makes me feel less terrible about leaving the AC on. Did you know TX has the largest electricity market in the US? Think of all the renewable energy possibilities.
  1. We have no curbside recycling. Yes, you heard correctly, NO CURBSIDE RECYCLING. So, if you have curbside recycling available, you better use it, because it’s so annoying to remember to load all your recyclables into the car and bring it to the recycling center. Very difficult for me to come from a place with both curbside recycling and composting, to nothing. I have plans to start a compost pile in the backyard. Stay tuned to see how it goes.

A Month In

So it’s just a little over a month since I’ve been in Galveston. That’s essentially 1/12th of a year, which is pretty crazy if you think about it. I would say I’m adjusting fairly well, all things considering. I do miss home and not sweating every time I go outside, but it is really nice to see Ken everyday (after 5 years of seeing him every other month or so). I’ve been extremely lucky since my employer is letting me work remotely for a few months, so that keeps me fairly busy, but also gives me time to cook and clean and job hunt. This has also taught me that I would probably go crazy if I didn’t work, as much as I say how much I do not want to wake up for work >.<.

Our apartment is currently a few blocks from the beach, so it’s nice that I can go take a walk along the beach when I have time and mental power to withstand the heat. I usually go in the evening when it’s less hot, though it’s starting to heat up. It doesn’t beat beaches in California, but I suppose it’s better than having no beach at all. One thing I’ll note is that I have never seen a beach with so many trash cans available, yet so much trash along the shoreline. Ken knows better than to ask me to go jogging at the beach now because I get all distracted picking up trash. I find a lot of plastic bottle caps and plastic utensils, and after knowing about how much plastic is ending up in our oceans, I cannot with a good conscious just leave them in the sand to be washed into the ocean. I end up bringing a plastic bag with me to the beach to put all the trash I find. Breaks my poor little heart.

Ken and I have also been house hunting since I got here, and we are closing on our house this week! That took up a lot of time and house hunting is definitely not as fun as I thought it would be. I am super excited and nervous about owning our own house. Seems pretty surreal. Pictures and details to come!

Goodbye Long Distance

Ken and I met in college coaching gymnastics. I taught the little tiny kids how to do forward rolls and cartwheels, and Ken taught the older boys somewhat cooler things. I don’t really believe in soul mates, but I do believe in fate, and I am positive if my family never moved to Maine, if I got accepted into UCLA, or if I never saw that job posting for a gymnastics coach and thought “Oh what the heck, I’ll apply,” I would not be marrying Ken next July.

When I was in elementary school, my family moved to Maine for a few short years. My parents signed me up for gymnastics classes when we were there. I was an active, tomboyish child, so I’m sure they thought gymnastics would be a good outlet for my energy. It quickly became my favorite thing, and I spent a lot of time practicing at home. My dad even made me a baby beam for me at home and installed a bar in the doorway, where I remember doing pull overs and back hip circles. We moved back to California a couple years later, and that was the end of my gymnastics career. The great thing about being young and learning new skills is that they tend to stick with you, especially physical skills. Without these two years of gymnastics training that I had ten years before I went to UC Berkeley, I’m sure Ken and I would have never crossed paths.

After undergrad, Ken went off to med school in Dallas, and is now almost done with the first year of his five year residency. It’s been five years of long distance at this point. Right now, as I’m sitting on the plane headed to Houston, I look back at our relationship, and I can’t help but be proud. I think we have handled long distance with such commitment and grace that not all people are capable of. It took me a long, long time to feel ready to leave the San Francisco Bay Area, but I’m really excited for the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and live in a new place (we’ll see if I still feel that way in a month). Most of all, I’m excited to be together in one place, and hope that he doesn’t eat all of my cereal (inside joke between one of my bffs and me). Goodbye long distance, and hello new life in Texas.