Category Archives: Uncategorized

Down Dogs and Cats

Training dogs and running a small business have taught me the importance of identifying small habits in order to make big changes. I’ve been reading a great book called, The Power of Habit, and in it the author highlights identifying cues and reinforcers that perpetuate habit loops. By identifying the things that cue us during the day and then by rewiring our response to these cues, we can make big changes. Making big changes is also easier when you make big life changes, like moving to a new house and city, which I’ve recently done. We’ve lived here for 7 months now, but I feel like I’m still in the process of figuring out how I want to live on a day to day basis. How I want to wake up in the morning, how to wake up being mindful of my thoughts so that they’re happy, upbeat, excited for the day. I know this sounds totally gross, but I also needed to identify when I need to brush my teeth. Do I brush them after I feed all of the animals, after breakfast and coffee or before yoga? Otherwise, being an at-home working girl, you end up getting into a workflow and then 3:00 rolls around and you still have nasty morning breath on a beautiful afternoon. All of these little “habits” need to be thought about, at least for me they do. I find that if I’m successful in starting my morning off right it sets the tone for my productivity during the rest of the day. I’ve always thought of myself as a night owl and not an early birdie, but with my new startup venture kicking into high gear, I have to seize the morning by its balls and own it! Or in other words, just make the best of it. My goal is to wake up at 6:00 (eventually, small baby steps right? So truthfully more like 7:30), feed the horses, sling some poop, feed the rest of the critters, sling some more poo out of the litterbox, eat a healthy vegan breakfast (after I wash my hands of course), drink too much coffee, do at least 30 mins of yoga via yogaglo.com with my four fellow furry yogis, brush my teeth, take a shower, look presentable for my furry office coworkers and then hit the ground running (sit at my desk) by 9. The next part entails taking over the world with my new venture, but more details on that to come! ; )

Has anyone else tried doing yoga at home with animals? It’s a total crack up! I find myself staring at cat butt holes and doing deep breathing exercises with Daisy panting into my face. Also, being this close to my hairy floor is way too personal. I’m afraid that I’m going to take a deep breath and choke to death on dog hair. I’d rather keep those furballs under the tv console out of sight and out of mind. But then again, yoga shouldn’t be serious and breathy all the time, and having four animals lick you, step on you, make you giggle and steal your mat space definitely beats random sweaty strangers accidentally touching you in the middle of savasana.

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20140306-120813.jpgNamaste!

 

 

Hello. My name is Brittany. And I’m a meegan.

As I type this, I’m sitting here stuffing my face with some egg-less, wheat-less, dairy-less quinoa pumpkin bread that’s actually pretty f-ing good. It doesn’t taste like cardboard! Instead of eggs it’s made with chia seeds, which are sneaky little seeds that are a perfect sub for the binding agent found in eggs. Not to mention they supposedly give you a boost in brain power, so I should probably eat them in mass quantities because I need all the help I can get. The windy cool weather outside and the smell of pumpkin bread makes me want to curl up on my sofa with my cuddle monsters and eat the whole damn thing. 

So why meegan you ask? Meegan is my fancy new word for being a meat eating vegan. Basically, I just found out that I’m highly intolerant to dairy and eggs. Upon further research I realized this basically means I can eat vegan recipes because they don’t contain eggs or dairy. Ugh. I highly considered cutting cute little farm animals out of my diet too, but holy cow, one step at a time. 

Moving to Topanga, Matt and I joked about how we’re going to become granola eating, hairy, happy hippies and it’s all coming true (especially the hairy part). We’re stuck up on the hill without very many good restaurants around us, so I’ve been cooking a ton, which has been great because I’ve always loved eating lean and green. However, I never suspected that eggs were a real problem for me, especially because I literally ate them every-single-morning-without-fail. I had sneaking suspicions about being intolerant to dairy because out of all of my friends I’ve always had more unmentionable stomach issues. The biggest problem that I’ve been dealing with for years has been my battle with zits. It just seemed so unfair to be a 27 year old with teenage pimple issues still. Pimple is such an awkward word. Much like moist. The pumpkin bread that I just made was very moist. 

I found out about all of this through my awesome neighbor, Pepita. My mom has struggled with intestinal issues her whole life and both of us are completely convinced that food is the reason why so many people suffer from so many illnesses and health struggles. Pepita is a nutritional health coach who has had great success in changing people’s lives by identifying foods that a person may be intolerant to and then developing a health plan and recipes to support the new diet restrictions. Pepita came over to our house to test both Matt, my mom and I with a simple pin prick blood test and then sent the samples into a lab. We’re all blood brothers now. Two weeks later we got the results, and let me tell you, I ate everything “bad” as possible within those two weeks because I had a sneaking suspicion that I shouldn’t be eating dairy or wheat. Low and behold, both my mom and I can eat wheat, but we are both highly intolerant to dairy and eggs. We’re also moderately intolerant to baker’s yeast, which gosh darn it, is in pretty much everything. There were a few other things that we should avoid. For some reason I can’t do almonds. Which means no almond milk. Boo. By the way, Matt is intolerant to nothing except for kidney beans. Lucky duck.

Instead of immediately thinking that my life is over and poor me because I can’t eat any of the things I love anymore (lattes, lasagna, ice cream, muffins, egg scrambles, parmesan cheese, french toast, etc. etc.), I decided to take it on as a creative challenge! Pepita has been so wonderful and supportive. She’s a wealth of knowledge and it turns out that there are plenty of healthy substitutions. Chia seeds in water becomes a gelatinous substance that can be used in baked goods like eggs. Flax seed is another option. There’s all kinds of yummy milk alternatives like hemp, rice, coconut and my personal fave hazelnut milk. Instead of butter you can use coconut oil or olive oil. I haven’t tried this yet, but you can make “egg” scrambles with mashed up tofu, nutritional yeast, himalayan pink salt, quinoa and veggies. I’ve made some awesome vegan banana pancakes, lots of yummy vegan dishes with a little meat on top and of course the quinoa pumpkin bread that I’m eating right now. I’ve always been morally conflicted by loving animals so much, but still eating some of them. I hardly ever eat meat, but when I do I try to make sure that it’s organic and free range. I cross my fingers that the poor things at least had somewhat of a good life before we ate them. I seriously just need to become a real vegan. 

The one thing I’m super bummed about with my new creative diet is that we’re not going to get chickens anymore. I’ve been dying to get some chicks and build a fun coop, but oh well. Instead we’ll just have to get some alpacas and shear them for their fleece. Or maybe a pig! I’ve always wanted a pig. We’ll just have to figure out how to build coyote proof enclosures first. The one thing that I’m grateful for is that my mom and I were proactive about our health and we finally figured out what we can and can’t eat. We have each other for emotional support (which is going to be greatly needed during the holidays – i.e walk-away-from-the-pumpkin-pie, those mashed potatoes don’t mean anything to us, don’t even think about eating that cornbread casserole etc.) and we’re going to be healthier and happier despite the challenges. 

So the absolute best news about all of this is that I am finally acne free!!!! Hallelujah! I zapped those zits away with my dairy and egg free powers. Let me repeat- I am zitless! I’m no longer bloated either! Bloated with zits is not a good look. Not going to lie, the last few weeks I have been feeling some detox side effects that have made me feel a little blue, but I also think it’s  because I’m eating a lot less calories. Oh and did I mention that it’s doing wonders for my waistline? Forget about gimmicky weight loss fad diets, just figure out what you can and can’t eat or just cut out dairy, eggs and sugar and eat tons of veggies. 

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My personal recipe for happiness starts with one big heaping handful of healthiness. It may be challenging to eat clean and avoid temptations, but it feels so good to feel good. I love my life and I’d hate for it to be cut short because of poor eating decisions. That probably sounds pretty melodramatic, but it’s so true! Our physical health is so connected to our mental well being too. It’s hard to be happy when you’re not feeling good. I’m determined to feel good- physically, mentally and spiritually. Also, Pepita mentioned that in a cancer research study, a doctor found that 95% of his cancer patients were allergic to eggs. That’s a strong enough correlation if you ask me. Enough to keep me eating chia seeds for days. 

A Meegan’s Recipe for Happiness

5 cups of laugher

3 cups of chia seeds

18 tablespoons of puppy cuddling

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1 teaspoon of cat cuddling

5 1/8 cups of creativity

10 cups of love

1 cup of coconut oil

3 cups of hazelnut milk

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6 cups of horseback riding

3 tablespoons of muzzle nuzzles with Gracie and Moo

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1 tablespoon of a cozy blanket

6 cups of playing in nature

2 cups of a sunset

5 cups of wine (thank god I’m not intolerant to grapes or coffee!!)

12 tablespoons of gratitude for veggies

1 pinch of Matt’s cheeks

 

Here’s a real recipe for ya!

Vegan Quinoa Pumpkin Bread (Tastes a whole lot better than it sounds! Promise!!)

Recipe adapted from hungryhungryhippie.com

1 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsp of water (prepare first and set aside until it’s gelatinous)

2 mashed bananas

1/3 cup of coconut oil

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups quinoa flour (I used the Red Mill brand)

1/2 cup sugar or stevia baking blend

1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients together with a hand mixer. In a separate bowl combine and mix all of the dry ingredients. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix till smooth. Pour batter into a bread loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Poke it with a toothpick and if it comes out clean it’s ready. Enjoy! And try not to eat the whole loaf in one day like I did. 

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If you have a yummy vegan cheat recipe to share please email me! Would love any and all advice!  

Growing up, down and all around

We don’t really grow up. We grow up, down and all around. I’ve always visualized life in my head as a straight arrow pointing up and that life is just one smooth, straight line straight to the top. But as I “grow up” I’ve come to realize more and more that life is a very squiggly looking arrow that goes up, goes down, twists and turns, gets knotted up and fucked up, smooths out and changes ALL the time. It’s the way life is and it’s all good. Without the bad we would not know what good looks like or feels like. This year has been tricky. A lot of “bad” things have happened and a lot of truly AMAZING things have happened. The line of life has been very squiggly lately. The good news is that all of the people in my life are healthy and happy and that Matt and I are truly happy and in love with our life together. The bad news is that several animals have been hurt and in pain lately, which has caused me so much pain because I’m so connected to them and it hurts to see them in pain. Animals are so innocent and helpless, which makes me feel helpless sometimes. Sometimes there’s just nothing that you can do about it and it is what it is, but it’s so hard to surrender the emotional stress and guilt that you can’t help but feel.

I’ve been so torn up about some of the things happening in my life with animals lately, that I haven’t been able to write. I like to write when I’m feeling at peace and reflective, not when I’m a mess. It’s also so much easier to write about the good than it is about the bad. The previous post to this one, I wrote a few weeks ago, but just posted today because things have been so rough. This morning was really hard and yesterday was really great. Our friend Jason and a famous horseman named Dwight brought us Matt’s new horse that he has decided to name Moo. Moo is awesome, healthy and extremely well-trained. He’s super cute and such a sweetie. Dwight gave Matt a lesson on him yesterday and we all went for a fun long ride through Red Rock park. It’s all bittersweet though because Moo is Lady’s replacement. We’ve had Lady for six weeks and I’ve grown so attached to her, but the vet and several other horse professionals told us that we will never be able to ride her because of her stifle injury. We seriously considered keeping her despite her limitations, but it’s been so sad to see her in pain. Every time we would take Gracie out for a ride, Lady would go crazy in her stall and run around a lot on her bad knee. The next day the poor thing would barely be able to put weight on her back leg and her whole rear end would look painful to stand on. When Dwight came with Moo we asked him what we should do with Lady because several people have advised that we should put her down, which made me sick at the thought of it. Could you imagine having a bum knee and having to be put to death for it? Sure, I’m anthropomorphizing the situation, but I can’t help it. By the grace of God, Dwight said that he could take her and drop her off up north at a ranch where she could be turned out as a broodmare. This is the absolute best case scenario that could have played out, but I’m still so sad. She just left a few hours ago and it was so hard to say goodbye. It’s hard for me not to cry as I type this. I know it’s silly and that I’ve only known her for six weeks, but I really loved her personality and she was so much fun to ride. It’s such a shame that it all turned out this way, but I guess it’s all for the best. Lady won’t run around here and mess up her knee more and she’ll have a great life being turned out in a big pasture with a bunch of other mares. I’ll get over it, I guess. Gracie and Moo are neighing for Lady and Dwight’s horse Matt Dillon still. It breaks my heart.

Some other really tough things have happened in the midst of so much good. What I’ve realized more than anything is that 1) shit happens (I have to pick up a lot of it twice a day now, and I’ve come to really look forward to my “grounding” sessions) and 2) it’s all about how you react to “bad” things. You can get extremely emotional and upset, stressed and angry or you can choose to be calm, strong, brave and get through the bad gracefully. The truth is, it can always be worse, and you might as well train yourself to react in a calm, peaceful, strong way now because life will just continue to throw you more difficult, sad, unfair or downright terrible hardships. At least this is what I’m telling myself and trying to do. I’m also trying to focus whole-heartedly on the positives. So in the spirit of that, here is a list of all of the amazing positives going on right now…

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1) We’ve had the most amazing bbqs here at the Little Brown Ranch with our new neighbors and our friends and family. We seriously have such a great neighborhood!

2) It’s been so wonderful reconnecting with our LA family members and spending more time with them.

3) It’s been awesome spending more time with my Pappa and sharing lots of laughs and IPA beer with him.

4) We’ve done lots and lots of work on the Little Brown Ranch. It feels so good to have gotten so much done in such a short time. In the previous post I wished for some new dining room chair covers and now they are happily being sat on. I also wished for a tack room and we have revamped the old dilapidated little red shack into a super cute tack room complete with concrete pavers to make a floor and lots of hooks to hang up tack. We are also putting in the arena now. We built a huge retaining wall to add more square footage and we ordered 100 tons of sand. Unfortunately the huge tractor broke and now it’s standing there looking large and pathetic in our half graded arena. Can’t wait for it to get done so that I can start working more with Gracie.

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5) Speaking of Gracie, I’m in love with my crazy little girl. She keeps me on my toes and challenges me everyday which I love. Like a typical warmblood, when she gets anxious or nervous her brain can turn to scrambled eggs, so we’re working on learning how to be calm and to trust me. Gracie does so well on the technical parts of the trail though. When she has a job she turns into a powerhouse and steadily takes me up anything I point her at. She’s so sure footed and good on the trail. Now that Matt has his boy Moo, we’ll be able to ride all over the Santa Monica Mountains. Yippee!

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6) I’m so grateful for our awesome little veggie garden that we put in. It’s already grown at least 8 inches in two weeks and buds are popping up everywhere. We put in everything from tomatoes to onions, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli to herbs and spicy hot peppers. It’s really late in the season, but I think the heat wave that we’ve been having here will help it all along.

7) I’m also thankful that Bear, our cat, is still alive! he’s one smart little guy. I think he realizes that death lurks just outside of our doors so he’s been hanging out safely inside. Bad news: the automatic kitty shit box died on us the other day, but we’re still so smitten with it that we’ve decided to return it and give it another shot. Stay tuned for another consumer report.

8) It’s been so much fun cooking in our new kitchen and on the grill. I absolutely love trying out new healthy recipes and coming up with my own “unique” veggie bowls. They don’t always taste good, but when they do, they’re delish! I also love the barstools that we got for our kitchen counter because Matt pulls up a seat and we talk about our days while I chop. Have I mentioned how in love I am with veggies?! They’re insanely cool- the textures, the colors, the crunchiness, the freshness, the uniqueness, the flavors- a salad is like a party in your mouth. Except that I’ve realized that I’m not such a fan of lettuce. Lettuce can be really gnarly when it gets slimy. In fact it is one of my most unfavorite things. Lettuce gone bad. Hopefully the lettuce we’re growing will be yummy because it’ll be right out of the garden, which by the way is a box full of horse crap.

9)  I’m so grateful for our moms. Matt’s mom Chris came and stayed with us for two weeks and my mom came down three weekends in a row. We are so lucky to have such awesome moms. My mom has been so wonderful dealing with a lot of difficult things that have been happening with our business and has been handling all of the stress like a pro. I love her so much and for always taking such good care of me and the biz. We owe everything to our moms for all that they do for us our whole lives. I might be growing up, but I’ll still always be my mom’s little girl. I’m also so grateful that I have two moms now and that my mother-in-law is so awesome. Chris is always so much fun to be around and we laughed so hard while she was here. The pee-in-your-pants kind of laughs. From dancing in our living room to sharing stories on the porch to painting walls and doing errands, it was all so much fun.

10) Speaking of doing fun things, Chris is teaching me how to sew on the sewing machine that she got me as a housewarming present! I’ve always wanted to learn how and I’ve always wanted to be able to make dog collars. We made a pillow with polka dots on one side and chevron stripes on the other, complete with a fancy zipper. I also made Daisy a pretty zig zag collar and we tried to make her a bow tie, but it ended up looking like a prairie girl bow. So not cute for Daisy to be sporting around her friends. She would totally be made fun of. Next up, I’m going to make Taj a collar and tie for when he goes to work with Matt. Maybe a pair of cufflinks too. After that? I’m totally going to try to make my own wedding dress. No big deal, right?

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Horsin’ around

My life is complete. There is nothing else that I want or need in the world (besides some sweet kids one day, some baby chickens, an arena, a tack room and some new cushions for our dining room table chairs). Other than that, I am perfectly 100% happy. Horses and dogs can do that to you. As I put it to one neighbor yesterday, “Animals make life make sense to me.”

This last week, all I did was horse around. We ordered all of our pipe corrals, got a whole bunch of decomposed granite, leveled it all out with a tractor and then installed all of the corrals. A long time Topanga resident, Jimmy, put it all in for us and he did such a great job. There was a big rush to get everything done because we were supposed to pick up Gracie on Thursday. Matt had to go out of town for work, so I had to get most of it all done by myself with the help of Jimmy. On Wednesday everything was still in piles on the ground, but we pulled it off and everything got put up in time for Gracie. I had to go get a tow hitch put on the ol’ Tahoe and then I managed to hook up the trailer and then actually drive it on PCH and the 405 freeway to Palos Verdes all by myself. I was white knuckled to whole way there and back. I’m pretty much the worst driver, as evident by the minor accident I caused last week on Rodeo Drive (thank god it wasn’t the Bugatti we passed earlier, but I still feel so bad because I hit someone’s brand new car). LA is so terrifying to drive in! And then you add a horse trailer and I’m pretty much a disaster waiting to happen. But fortunately, Gracie and I survived and we made it back to Topanga in one piece. Gracie was not happy about leaving her old barn and it took five men to get her into the trailer, and then she proceeded to stomp around and whinny to tell us how unhappy she was to be in a metal box on wheels. I don’t blame her. She settled down once we got moving. It was so fun to drive with Gracie past the views of downtown LA and then come out of the tunnel in Santa Monica at PCH. Even though there’s usually a lot of traffic, you can’t complain about driving up the coast with the beach on your left. I still haven’t gotten over the novelty of turning up the canyon to head up to Topanga. Gracie and I blasted Edward Sharpe’s “Home” as we SLOWLY winded are way up the hill. We pulled up and all of the corrals were finished and Gracie’s home was all ready for her. Matt surprised me by getting home early from his trip. I was so happy he was there when we pulled up! Gracie has a huge princess pen with an in and out barn stall, but she’s too funny because she’s afraid to go inside the barn. Even with hay in there, she refuses to set foot in the scary barn. She’s been pacing quite a bit because she’s anxious being in her new home, but she’s slowly starting to relax. We brought Lady over to her new corral and the two of them have had a few bitch fights, but they’re starting to get used to each other and I think they’re both happy for the company and the entertainment.

We’ve had quite a week with our Lady Bug. I rode her very lightly on the Loop around our house and on a pretty flat ride to Red Rock, and then she turned up really lame on Monday. I didn’t even canter her or take her up anything really steep. She really didn’t want to move her back end and looked like she was in a lot of pain. I called the vet out and they did a lameness test and x-rays. It turns out that Lady has a really funky looking rear knee from an old injury. On the xrays her patella looked like a baby’s face in a sonogram, and it’s supposed to look smooth. Her ligaments also looked like there was some significant scarring. The vet’s diagnosis was pretty bad. He said that she will probably never be able to do the type of trail riding that we had in mind. : ( Which is basically the worst news that you can get considering that we just got her and we just started to completely bond with her. We’ve had her on bute the last couple of days, which is probably why she looks better, but I swear she’s doing way better. I’m crossing my fingers and praying to God that she just strained a butt or back muscle and that the vet only thinks that it has to be the old knee injury because it looks so weird on the x-ray. I’m really hoping that she’s going to be fine, otherwise it looks like we’re going to have a third really large dog that literally eats up a whole lotta green. Matt is really sad because Lady is a horse for him and his mom, and now we probably won’t be able to ride her for awhile, if not ever. Ugh. We’re so bummed. Let’s just pray that she’s going to be fine. She’s been walking around her stall today and bearing a ton of weight on her back legs now, so she might just come out of it.

Right now I’m sitting on our porch and it overlooks the girls in their stalls. It’s funny how we traded in our ocean view for a view of horses, mountains and trees. All of which are our favorite things. I absolutely love the ocean, but I also absolutely love the serenity and stillness of the mountains. They’re so opposite and both so beautiful. I’m slowly turning even more ‘granola’ than I’ve always been. I swear that the energy here is different. At the beach it’s gorgeous and it has it’s quiet moments, but it’s also full of energy and very turbulent. It’s hardly ever really still. I always had a little bit of anxiety in my throat the last few years, but here, under the trees and in the mountains, I haven’t felt those feelings. I feel so at peace here. As though this is exactly where I’m supposed to be, with Matt and our animals.

Yay! Lady just rolled in her new stall and she’s been playing in her water. Gracie isn’t pacing as much. I think the girls are finally settling in. I think we’re all finally settling in.

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Wishing upon stars

Wishes do come true. I truly believe in this mostly because I truly believe in the power of thinking it, seeing it, believing it, creating it, working on it and acting upon it. Our thoughts become our realities with a lot of work in between. Sometimes I wonder if some people are luckier than others, or if some people just end up in the right place at the right time, or if some people just know how to make thoughts a reality. Or is life all about choices and connections? Is it all about God making magic happen from above? Or is it Mother Nature making the world vibrate? Are animals making the world go round? Or is it the total of everything combined in this beautiful world that makes life tick? Is it all just a fantastical allusion in our mind? 

Watching the meteor shower last night from our balcony made me feel so small and so happy to be part of something much greater. I used to be obsessed with finding the Truth about God, gods, the Universe etc., but now I’m quite happy with just accepting the fact that whatever it is, it’s much greater and more powerful than us mere humans can ever understand. Hell, I don’t even exactly understand what a meteor shower is. Or how time works, or what animals really think. They don’t have words to think in, so do they just think in feelings? What is it like to not have words scrolling across your mind all day? Lucky ducks. Some things in life just don’t have an answer. Just like not all things are good nor bad. Some things are just right and are exactly how they should be without a logical answer. It is what is and that’s a beautiful thing. 

On another less serious note… I’ve decided to accessorize my wedding dress with one of these fancy numbers…

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Or possibly this…

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Happy Tuesday!

Busy Brown bees

Matt and I have been hard at work on the little Brown ranch! It feels so good just to sit here on the porch and write instead of hauling around furniture, trash and boxes upon boxes of stuff. It also feels so good to get rid of stuff and to have space to put everything. We had the best ocean view apartment in Windansea, but dear god, we had no space to put anything. Matt’s toys (surfboards, dive gear, fishing poles, guitars, etc.) were all piled high in our living room along with all of my painting and dog stuff. It’s so awesome to have a garage now and to have a proper place for everything. We have drawers with nothing in them. It’s a beautiful feeling! Even Bear has his own little room under the stairs complete with his own fancy automatic kitty litter box. The auto kitty litter box is one of the best inventions of mankind. Our roomba, Harriet, and the magic cat shit box had a date the other day. It was really cute to see Harriet bumping into it cleaning up the kitty litter that Bear tracked out of the box as the box did it’s thing. It’s amazing how something so simple can make me so utterly happy. The magic cat shit box doesn’t smell at all and instead of having to clean out a litter box with a shovel while you hold your breath, you simply take out the bag of crap and toss it in the trash. The raking is done for you! Brilliant I say!

As I was saying, we’ve been busy busy around here. We have pretty much unpacked most of our things and we’ve been working on organizing everything. We’ve decorated our 70s living room and the rest of the house still needs a few pieces of furniture. I can’t wait to decorate the den and our master bedroom next. We’ve decided to whole heartedly embrace the 70s look and feel, so think boho and hippie. Outside we’ve been working hard to get the horse area ready so that we can pick up our other new horse Gracie. Lady has been staying in a temporary stall for the time being. We had the old horse corrals pulled out with a tractor and we had all of the junk from the barn hauled away. This week we’re getting 40 tons of decomposed granite delivered and a whole bunch of railroad ties to line the corrals. On Tuesday we’re getting all of the new corrals dropped off and a bobcat to spread all of the deegee. Hopefully by Wednesday everything will be installed and ready for Gracie to come home! I’m so excited! Today Matt and I are going to build out the dilapidated shed that’s going to be our tack room and my little art studio. I’m thinking I’m going to paint it a bright green color and one day make a deck off of it to set my easel up right under the trees and right near the horses. Some serious creative magic energy is going to come out of this studio once it’s done. I can’t wait to start painting again. I’m planning on doing a huge piece for the entryway of my favorite oak tree on the property.

This weekend the oak trees in front of our house got some haircuts. There were guys climbing high up in the trees with chainsaws swinging from their belts as they cut out all of the dead parts and exposed the beautiful scaffolding of the tree trunks. Not going to lie, they look a little naked right now, but they’ll grow in better and greener in no time. Our lot next to the house where all of the horses are is finally getting a little more cleaned up too. We’re planning on eventually putting in a nice wood fence along the front of the property and around the turnouts and arena. It’s so hard to wait and not doing everything at one time, but we’re going to be here forever, so I guess it’s fun to have lots of little projects to do over the years. Like completely gutting the house, but that’s a whole other story that’s not going to happen for a few years. For now we’re just focusing on making the outside nice and ready for the horses. We also really want to put in some raised beds for a garden and one day tier the hill behind our house. Our kitchen and the den looks right out at a dirt hill right now, and we’re dying to put in a bunch of gorgeous flowers and landscaping. Patience, grasshopper. One thing at a time!

Last night was perfect. Matt walked the dogs and I rode Lady bareback around the Loop. It was nice meeting a bunch of neighbors and watching the sunset from the top of the hill. Lady is really settling down and she’s already listening to me a lot more. I still can’t believe that we now live in LA, yet we can ride our horse around our neighborhood and walk our dogs off leash. We absolutely love it here and can’t believe that we found this perfect little place for us. After our walk we opened an awesome bottle of pinot, had dinner and enjoyed being in our house. I lit some candles and we watched a movie for the first time in our new den. We snuggled up with the dogs at our feet and I was asleep within the first five minutes of the movie as usual. Happiness is being at home with your family.

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Daisy: my feral dog

It’s pretty ironic that Daisy’s name is after a flower because right now she smells as bad as bad can get. She’s laying five feet away from me, outside, and the stench of skunk keeps hitting me in waves. The other night our little family was invited over to Steph and Dave’s new place in Hollywood Hills for a dinner party along with the McKemy’s and we wrecked havoc on their new place.

Daisy and Taj were so excited to investigate their yard that they ended up finding a skunk and Daisy got sprayed right in the face. She walked up to me pathetically with her eyes blinking and burning with a look that said, “Help.” So not only were we late to the party, now we had to deskunk our dog. Luckily, Steph came to the rescue with a bottle of Classico sausage pasta sauce. I dumped the whole thing on Daisy’s stinky head and rubbed the sausage chunks and tomato sauce all over her face. She was in heaven eating the sausage bits and I was in hell trying to get rid of the horrible stench. Surprisingly, it kind of worked along with a quarter bottle of Dove shampoo. The rest of the party was awesome (minus all of the destruction that we did in their house). True to form,  what started as a grown up dinner turned into a night of debauchery with homemade foil hats, cigars, awkward Insta videos and giant martini glasses.

The next morning, Matt and I put Daisy in a large trash bag and put her in the car. With only her head sticking out (the part that actually got sprayed by the skunk) we finally got her home. The night of drinking, the windy roads back home and the smell of skunk in the car was completely nauseating. We got home and took care of Lady, only for Daisy to find a huge rat in a bucket of horse feed. She proceeded to try to eat it. Did I mention that a couple of days before that she found a fly trap bag full of disgusting liquid that smells like dead animal carcasses to roll in? That was probably even more nasty than her skunkification. Daisy has always been a wild thing. She’s rolled in dead birds and fish on the beach, and one time found a dead rattlesnake to roll in (luckily it was dead). Living in the canyon has definitely reminded us that Daisy is more like a feral dog than she is a tame little apartment dog. She can truly be a little bitch sometimes too, as she  demonstrated by beating up our friend’s dog at our party last weekend. Dogs will be dogs, and Daisy reminds us of this often. Does anyone know of a good dog trainer? Just kidding.

Ever since we’ve moved into our little Brown ranch, Daisy has done nothing but sit outside and watch nature do it’s thing. Trapping her in our little apartment squashed her little soul in the past. She’s been so happy out here, being able to be a dog and roll in whatever she pleases. She loves to watch all of the birds and sit on the porch watching over her domain. She loves following me around as I take care of Lady and clean up outside. She loves watching for the coyotes and raccoons and barking at them to go away. She’s as happy as can be just like me. I love my crazy little feral Daisy no matter what kind of trouble she finds herself in.

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A horse, a home and two happy hippies

Matt and I are home. We have a home that we are going to fill up with love. I still can’t believe it’s real. After all of the waiting, wishing and hoping- we are finally here. Right now I’m sitting on our porch that looks out over the ginormous oak trees and the rustic old barn below. The light through the trees is gorgeous at this hour. I feel like we live in a tree house. It’s all wood and au natural. I haven’t shaved my legs in five days. And I’m lovin’ it. Matt, not so much.

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So much has happened in the last two weeks! We got the keys to our new house and we got a new horse. We found her in Norco and she was living with the nicest couple who took really good care of her. She’s a beautiful sorrel quarter horse mare with a big pretty blaze and a long mane and tail. She has the most gentle and kind personality. I just know that I can trust her to take care of Matt. Matt wants to name her Lady. Mostly because he wants to walk up to her and say, “Hey lady!”. I can’t help but think of Gangnam Style. But she is definitely a Lady and she’s so pretty that she needs a pretty girly name. We can’t wait to take our horses out on all of the trails and go exploring all over Red Rock. After a long tedious adventure to pick her up , it was so much fun to follow Matt and the horse trailer along the PCH and up the canyon. We’ve been hanging out under the trees grooming her and giving her love all day long. Whoever thought three months ago that we would end up here? Living in awesome hippieville? With a horse?

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Today we woke up to the sound of horses neighing, birds chirping and a director shouting, “Action!”. We have officially moved to LA. They’re filming a Lifetime movie called A Dollywood Christmas, but sadly no Dolly Parton in these parts today. Apparently the house across the street looks more like a house in Tennessee than any houses in Tennessee, if that makes any sense. All of the neighbors have been out and about to check out all of the action. Everyone is so nice and everyone absolutely loves living here. More than a handful of the neighbors have lived here for 24 plus years. Our neighbor has lived here for 40. We take this to be a really good sign! There’s a ton of kids on our street and a preschool right across the street. We have a lot of rooms to fill up, but for now we’ll just have horses as our babies.

When we found our house on Trulia, I was so excited! However,  I wondered if it was even livable. The pictures looked pretty bad. I spent hours and hours staring at the pictures and looking past all of the orange linoleum and wood paneling. I could only see gorgeous floor to ceiling steel windows, wide hand scraped oak plank floors and clean modern lines. Matt and I talked about all of the changes we would make the second that we stepped foot in our ugly dream house, but then a weird thing happened. Once we got the keys and stepped inside our new home, we decided that we absolutely love it the way that it is. It is absolutely perfect for right now. I LOVE the funky linoleum, the knotty pine wood paneling, the practically antique stove, the stone fireplace and the awesome spa like bathroom upstairs. It’s totally 70s and totally awesome. Well, except for the nasty old carpet that I literally ripped out with scissors and the type of superhuman power that somehow develops during a move. We were shopping at Costco to get basic supplies for the homestead when we came across some laminate floors that looks just like wood. At $1.48/sq ft we just couldn’t leave it behind. We heaved and hoed all the boxes into our giant Uhaul that we rented for a week and we begged our dads to help us install it. Luckily my Pappa will do anything for a Sierra Nevada extra IPA Torpedo, so it wasn’t too hard to convince him. This all happened in a matter of 24 hours right before our housewarming party. There were literally piles of sawdust in our kitchen and tools everywhere right before everyone got there, but the superhuman moving powers made it all somehow happen.

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Our housewarming party (the first of several!) was so awesome! Mostly because my dad showed up in his stretch nylon 70’s outfit complete with his white platform shoes with goldfish in the soles. And because Megan and Johnathan read my mind and brought us a picnic table that they made by hand with love. It fits perfectly in our side yard under the oak tree. We absolutely love love love it! Everyone brought us such sweet presents- flowers, champagne, wine, passionfruit fines, dragon fruit plants, homemade eggs and jams. A bunch of our friends showed up in 70’s outfits and helped us make our house finally feel like a home. My little brother made the trip up from San Diego and it definitely wouldn’t have been the same without him. The boys swung from a rope they put high up in a tree and the girls caught up on life. No matter how much furniture we get or floors we put in, a house just doesn’t feel like home until you put your loved ones inside of it.

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It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of craziness over the last few months, but it feels so damn good to finally just sit and be still on our porch. To soak it in and really realize that we are finally home. This place feels so perfect for us, like there’s no other place that we should be, but here. Under the oaks, listening to the birds, watching for coyotes, playing with our dogs, loving our horses and loving each other.

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27 years of happiness!

I’ve been so filled with love and gratitude lately that I can’t help but be cheesy-weezy. Today I caught myself saying, “Birthdays aren’t a big deal anymore now that I’m an old lady.” Well, guess what?! This is completely and totally untrue! Birthdays are a huge deal! Why?! Because it’s another year and another day and another minute that we’re alive and well!! I am so happy to still be alive, to be healthy, to be in love and to be oh-so happy (insert cheeseball grin here)! 

Here is my super cheesy list of 27 things I’m really thankful for today and everyday…

1) most obviously my awesome family and my growing family. I’m so thankful to have such great parents and to have a radical little brother. They are extremely awesome. I’m also so thankful for all of the rest of the Alwerud’s and Zahyna’s. It’s been so fun moving up to LA and spending more time with my extended family. I’m soooo grateful for my sexy hunk of love and his great parents! I’m also so lucky to be able to soon call Matt’s mom and dad, my mother-in-law and father-in-law. They are awesome too! This list is going to be really long if I go on like this!

2) awesome friends and all of the old and new friends that we’re connecting with now that we live up in LA. Friends are family in my book. Big love to you all. 

3) surprise, surprise! Dogs and all animals! This one is obvious. But I am so grateful for all of the love that animals share with me. I’m so excited to bring Gracie home! And to get a flock of wee little chicks. Can’t wait! 

4) super thankful for DogZenergy and our whole team of amazing dog walkers. I can’t say enough how grateful I am for my mom and the whole rest of the team. It’s not an easy job and they make sure that all of our dogs our loved and safe!

5) our new home! I’m over-the-moon excited about getting the keys to our first house! I told Matt that all I want for my birthday is a super-dooper keychain and some BABY CHICKENS! 

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6) being healthy. We take this for granted so much.

7) cuddling with my fur babies

8) long convos about life, love, family and business with my manly man

9) just doing nothing with my man

10) Mother Nature – I love her and all of her beautiful creatures. The ocean, the mountains, leaves, veggies, fruits, air, water, etc. etc. it’s all awesome, beautiful and amazing.

11) lessons from the Universe/God/Mother Nature/higher power/what-have-you. Good, just right, bad or whatever, everything happens like it should and will always be. It is what it is and it will always be just as it should be. 

12) long walks on the beach at sunset with my dogs (how cornball is that? But it’s so true!)

13) to have lived in La Jolla for nearly 10 years. 

14) to have lived in our beach front surf shack apartment for four years

15) to move to Topanga and truly embrace my hippie radicalness. Oh yes, I’m so naming our trees and I just might hug them everyday! Does this mean that I can stop shaving my legs?

16) creativity and art. So excited to finally have space to paint and have a little art studio out of my garage. I want to pull my easel right out to Gracie’s stall and paint all day while she eats all day.

17) horseback riding. Can’t wait to ride everyday and awaken the part of my soul that goes dormant when horses aren’t in my life.

18) BABY CHICKENS!

19) cooking healthy food. There’s nothing better than home grown veggies and making food for the people you love. 

20) unicorns

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21) experiencing new things! For my birthday my Pappa took me to Paradise Cove in Malibu. It was like I was on a faraway island for a few hours.

22) traveling with my main squeeze (where did this phrase come from? Main squeeze?). The past year has been filled with fun romantic trips with Matt all over the world. I asked my dad what he thinks makes marriages last forever and he said, “Doing things together.” Check! 

23) asking questions. I’ve been trying to talk less and listen more. My friends would probably say I haven’t succeeded in this. But it’s amazing how much you can learn by asking questions. I’m especially fascinated about asking questions about relationships, love and happiness. See above. 

24) learning about new things! Like BABY CHICKENS! Below is a Showgirl chicken, but he’s a rooster, so I guess he’s a Chickendale chicken?

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25) making Matt happy and seeing him smile

26) laughing out loud or crying tears of joy

27) change

**this list is not in chronological favorite order, otherwise BABY CHICKENS would be numero uno on the list.