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giving thanks

November 25, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving!

I couldn’t be more ready for this Thanksgiving holiday if I tried. Yesterday I experienced one of my random anxiety attacks, so to have a vacation from work to just relax and spend time with family is straight up what the doctor ordered.

This year we’re heading to San Diego, as my brother and his girlfriend are hosting at their new house. We haven’t been able to see them (or my niece) since this summer, so I’m especially glad to get to celebrate with them. Planning on lots of eating (obvs), roller skating, photo taking, board game playing, puppy cuddling, and GoPro video making. I wish my mom, other two siblings, niece, and nephew could be here – this time of year makes the distance feel that much heavier on my heart. Dreaming of one day where we own a home and everyone will be able to visit and celebrate together.

It’s weird that spending the holidays together is something you take for granted growing up – and then you’re an adult and five years goes by since you’ve last spent the day together and how are we so old and why is time moving so fast and WHAT IS LIFE. So these next few days I’m going to focus on appreciating the now and all for which I have to be grateful. Did you know expressing gratitude is actually healthy? There have been studies and stuff, yo.

So even though life can feel hard sometimes (like, really hard), I know my struggles can’t compare with much of the rest of the world. And for that, I am thankful. For having a supportive family, a stable job, the means to not only provide me a home and running water and food – but the ability to travel and experience exciting things, for living in a huge city  of opportunity with the chance to chase my dreams, for having the freedom to be whoever I am, for not having to live in constant fear. A lot of bad stuff goes on in this world – and even though it’s okay for life to feel hard sometimes, try to remember that not all of it is.

-wonderland sam

for the love of film

November 24, 2015


Hey remember how I used to have a film camera that I would take photos with? Here’s a roll of film I never shared, and I figured it’s about time to – moments captured from the end of summer as it transitioned to fall. There are no photos of me and a lot of photos of my unsuspecting husband (my favorite kind).

Every time I look at a roll of developed film I am inspired by the magic of it and fall in love with it all over again. The tones, the nostalgia, the not knowing what you captured until you get it developed.

I still have said film camera.
And Thanksgiving is probably a good time to whip it out again.

P.S. As always, these photos were shot manually and are unedited.

P.P.S. We just got a GoPro and have already been making the most random videos of everything. After several near-death-adventures, I figured it’s about time I start recording this stuff. And you know, life from my dog’s point of view (you bet we got the GoPro dog harness).


Fiesta La Ballona (Culver City fair and closest thing we’ll get to a Stars Hollow celebration) – after the eating of the garlic fries and before the almost puking on the Gravitron.



Street Food Cinema – outdoor movies (this one was Jurassic Park) and my new favorite summer activity. You can picnic (yes), bring dogs (yes), and watch a classic movie under the stars (everything yes). They have a million food trucks, and basically it’s just really splendid.


Look! Never Ending Story.




Road trip to Palm Springs for my birthday weekend.



Our stay at the Ace Hotel – which was all about the air conditioning, pool, and cocktails.








Apple picking – before fall started in Southern California but before all the apples were gone. Pickings were slim, and the orchards weren’t as wondrous as they were in Portland last year – but fun all the same. Apples, pumpkins, and BBQ – I will force fall until my last breath.




Chickens! Rooster! When can I have a coop already?




Anything resembling a sunflower is A-OK in my book.

-wonderland sam

thanksgiving prep

November 12, 2015


Wasn’t it just summer? And my birthday? And Halloween? How is Thanksgiving 2 weeks away? Life never seems to slow down, does it? Also, when will I stop asking questions?

The next two months are going to be busy – busy with work and acting classes and the holidays (and God as my witness, a visit to California Adventure to relish in the Christmas glory), and I’m hoping not to wear myself out too much to the point where I can’t enjoy it all.

But this year I plan to help my brother host Thanksgiving at his new house. I won’t have to cook most of it (though I’m hoping to one day soon try that venture), so hopefully things won’t be too stressful. If you are planning, it doesn’t hurt to get your menu/shopping out of the way sooner rather than later. And I am nothing if not a planner. Some helpful tips/recipes:

Essential Thanksgiving – START HERE.

Cooking Schedule – Makes things easy, huh?

Thanksgiving Timeline – Don’t trust the one above? Here’s another that starts WEEKS before Thanksgiving.

Delicious Dinner Rolls – I make these every year, and everybody LOVES THEM.

40 Thanksgiving Recipes – These girls usually share recipes that aren’t too difficult to follow.

Caramel Apple Pie – Honestly, you can never go wrong with a Pioneer Woman recipe. This apple pie recipe KILLS IT.

50 Fun Fall Date Ideas – And if you are leaving the cooking to someone else, do 50 fun things instead!

-wonderland sam

belated halloween

November 6, 2015

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OH MY GOD IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!!! Guys, if there’s anything that can affect my mood, it’s the weather (and food, if I’m being honest). And this week (albeit a little late for my liking), the weather has cooled off. As in I have to wear a jacket! All my dreams are coming true.

I shared a recap of my October but didn’t include these photos from our office Halloween party. I for sure was going to dress up for Halloween, so I made the rest of the office do it too (slash guilted them into it) by planning a potluck lunch/costume contest. Because of my incessant guilt trips, we actually had a ton of food, and a fair amount of people dressed up. Whatever it takes, right?

Halloween weekend we watched my horror film with some friends, carved pumpkins, and went to Street Food Cinema’s showing of Shaun of the Dead in Exposition Park. A very Halloweeny time if you ask me.

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This wig makes me miss long hair, but ALSO THIS HAT. Can I wear it every day please?

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Instead of doing a couple’s costume this year, we each wanted to dress up as characters from our favorite stories. And for Whitney – that was a Jurassic Park worker…

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This is Tony, our resident photographer and Photoshop extraordinaire.

-wonderland sam


November 2, 2015


As much as I love the summer, the heat wave this year was brutal. Fall couldn’t come soon enough, and though it hasn’t been consistent (the sun came guns blazing Halloween day), I think cooler temperatures have generally come to stay. As with every season, I’ve tried to relish it as much as I can.

A lot of things are different this year – most notably the fact that I’m working 40 hours a week in an office. Though the extra income and stability that comes with that has been nice, I can’t lie and say I don’t miss my freedom – and time, TIME! Honestly, I don’t know how people work, sleep, and have a life – and when they throw kids in the mix? Must be some dark magic I tell you. So in between going to work and trying to exercise and cook at home and plan Halloween and everything else, I snapped photos. Only on my phone. Do you know I used to scoff at people who would use their phones as their primary camera? Like, THOSE AREN’T REAL PHONES – WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! And now that’s all I do. The guy who develops my film even noticed that I hardly go in there anymore. I could say I’m sad about that, but honestly, convenience reigns high these days.

So I did some baking. I did some a lot of pumpkin purchasing. I did a lot of Harry Potter reading on the train. I did apple picking and bike riding and costume planning and party attending and movie watching.

And I am exhausted.

Last year this happened with my what, eight Christmas parties? As I try to cram in as much holiday goodness as I can, I realize it’s wearing on me. I think I need quieter, more intentional time. I think I need to harness in that desire to do as much as possible with as many people as possible – that way I don’t feel like I’m just surviving the holidays. Because as introverted as I am, I don’t know how I’ve been managing it.

All this to say that I had a wonderful October. I dressed as Luna Lovegood for Halloween and sewed Kipling a Gryffindor scarf to match (my first ever sewing project – did I mention I bought a sewing machine? so yeah, trying to learn that too).

And perhaps the best part about this season – I had a film come out on Redbox. A horror film called Trace. At Halloween time. It feels pretty cool. But what feels even cooler is having all of my friends and family share in the excitement – sending me photos with the DVD and next to the Redbox and just being awesome.

So thank you all. I hope you had a wonderful Halloween and without trying to rush Thanksgiving…IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!

P.S. I finally watched Hocus Pocus for the first time ever – are we sure this is a children’s movie?








-wonderland sam


October 16, 2015


This photo has nothing to do with this post, but if you haven’t met them already, these are my garden friends : Marco, Aurora, Leonard, George, and Fred.

As I’m gearing up for this festive season, I’m trying to focus on being present and appreciative – to soak it all in. I’m pretty hardcore about the holidays (if you don’t already know this, YOU DON’T KNOW ME), and I don’t want a minute of it to be wasted. Lately I’ve realized (for the millionth time) that my phone/social media is the BIGGEST TIME SUCK. Seriously, I have much better things to do than scroll aimlessly on my phone, and nothing is a bigger reminder of that than “checking it for 5 minutes” and instead looking up at the clock and realizing 45 minutes have gone by. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? I for one don’t want to look back on my life and be like – “oh, don’t you remember those hours wasted staring at a screen?” (p.s. TV is not included in this because I’m a huge fan of it and the storytelling and the characters and I’m an actor so I get a pass on this one OKAY).

Anyway, here are the fun, productive, cherished, festive, wonderful things I can do this season instead of being on my phone.

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Read a book. I’m about to embark on the last of the Harry Potter books, and my heart is so sad/excited/wants to read it as fast as I can but also doesn’t want it to end so WHAT DO I DO.

Like, clean my house. I’m a ball of anxiety most days and having a messy home does not help it in the least bit. It magnifies it. I always feel most calm and relaxed with my mind at ease when the dishes are cleaned and shoes are put away and the rug isn’t matted with dog hair. Why can’t I remember this? Mental note to clean more.

Craft. The 8-5 grind is real y’all, and I haven’t made much time for anything else on the week days. I miss making seasonal crafts and want to find time for it like, now. I was gifted money towards a sewing machine, so hey, maybe I’ll order that today. I finally started on my Project Life album for last year (kind of sad I don’t have as many photos in it but also kind of not because it can get really overwhelming). On that note, does anyone know of an app that prints Instagram photos? I need to print them straight from my Instagram feed, not my phone, as I don’t have all of them saved anymore.


Be there for my dog. This is a real thing that needs to happen more. I feel bad enough as it is that she’s home by herself all day every day now. I need to make more of an effort to spend time with her (get those walks back in) and not just be okay with sitting around the apartment with her…nearby. I’M SORRY KIPLING.

Exercise. Ugh, the eternal struggle. I get on such good kicks, and then I fail miserably. I hate that my longer commute is getting in the way of this, but no more excuses.

Go on a walk. This encompasses those last two things, but really, I need to get my Fitbit replaced (again. ugh.) and get those steps instead of being a lazy butt. The weather is (crosses fingers) cooling off, and I LOVE evening walks this time of year.


Bake autumn treats. I did get around to baking some sandwich bread a couple of weeks ago. And banana bread. And now I have a billion apples in my fridge waiting to be done up all autumn style, yo. So I want to spend more time baking – but less time eating because I also want to exercise and get back in shape? The conundrum of life, y’all.

Call my mother. I seriously didn’t talk to my mom for like – 2 or 3 weeks. Which is absurd. We were on separate trips and then I kept forgetting at work and at night I’d waste my time doing nothing else.

Plus one million other better ways to spend my time. Because just seeing the light emanate from the phone screen is getting me all riled up these days.

I think I’m really just having a hard time balancing my life. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but I’m pretty much an all or nothing type of person. I do it a lot and then burn out quickly and then do nothing. I sound pretty awesome, don’t I? Anyway, I need to get over the fact that I wake up early and get home later and have less time because if I just MAKE THE TIME, there will be time. Kind of. At least more of it.

That’s it for today – just a random post of random musings. I finished a roll of film so will share that as soon as I get it developed (we went apple picking!). We’re also getting away this weekend for our anniversary (3 years this past Tuesday!). Time flies (especially when you waste it on your phone).

P.S. Check out this series that comments on the whole phone thing.

P.P.S. Yes, it’s staged, and yes the phones were physically taken out before the photos were snapped. And yes, it would look the same if the people had books in their hands, but that’s not the point because people don’t stare mindlessly at their phones every second of the day and even if they did at least they’d be learning something and stimulating their minds and therefore bettering themselves.

P.P.P.S. I am often one of these people, and that’s why I want things to change.

-wonderland sam

a walk

October 8, 2015

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You all know how often I take walks. Or I did. Before I started the daily grind of an 8-5 job. I need them back in my life, so hopefully I’ll start getting my lazy butt off the couch at night and go outside. I need it. My dog needs it. My Fitbit needs it (it’s screaming for attention).

Anyway, this last weekend we walked- 5 kilometers to be exact, which is just over 3 miles. My husband and I were tasked with organizing our company’s team for the American Heart Association charity walk. We raised money and designed t-shirts and walked as a team before enjoying (admittedly a very unhealthy) lunch. Kipling got to come too. It was nice weather and pretty views, and I’m glad we participated.

I promptly passed out for 3 hours once we got home – due to my state of unfitness or food overindulgence or both. The rest of the weekend we did much of nothing, which was okay by me since I feel like we’ve just been go-go-going. But it’s already a week into October, so I really need to get into the EXPLORE EVERYTHING ABOUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON mindset and start doing things. Things, things, more things!

We have a personal photographer at our company. When I say personal photographer I mean he works for the company, but we don’t pay him to take photos – but he loves taking photos, and I’ll happily allow it, as I’ve always been the picture taker in my family/friend groups, and I love a break every once in a while. I also love run-on sentences. Sometimes.

Now I’m talking about nothing, so here are some photos from that day, which I’m mostly posting because my dog is just the CUTEST THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, AND I’LL NEVER GET OVER IT.

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-wonderland sam


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