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san diego

May 27, 2015


This past weekend we drove down to San Diego to stay at my brother’s new house (jealous) for Memorial Day weekend. He and his girlfriend both have a crazy weekend work schedule, so we didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked, but we did get a lot of good time with my niece. We went out to eat, roller skated, lounged by the pool, watched some TV (we started Fresh Off The Boat, and it is amazing), took the dogs to the park and threw a baseball around, ate dessert at Extraordinary Desserts and walked around Balboa Park…just had a relaxing weekend. Generally on trips I’m all about the plans and the itinerary, but this one we just went with the flow (and took a lot of naps). The weather has been really gloomy lately, which is a bummer, but I guess I can’t really complain when the other 11 months of the year are all sunshine. My sister is coming into town this weekend, and I think warmer temps are coming with her; I’m excited about both. Bring on summer!

P.S. These are the rest of the photos from my last roll of film (as always, shot manually and unedited).








-wonderland sam

joshua tree

May 26, 2015


As things go…two months later I’ve finished my last roll of film. The majority of the photos are from our Easter camping trip to Joshua Tree (I shared a few here). Though I still prefer the forests, the wide open desert spaces, the jumbo rocks, and the quirky trees were a fun change from our normal camping trips. Next up, a 4th of July three day kayaking/hiking/snorkeling trip on an island that my super outdoorsy, travel expert friend planned!










My dream as a kid (and currently) was to compete on Legends of the Hidden Temple. This rocky pathway reminded me of it. So…




Beautiful desert skies.




-wonderland sam

things that make me happy

May 22, 2015

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me happy and actively adding more of those things into my life. I’m a serial list maker, so you bet I even made a list. Here are some things that never fail to add a little light into my day (sometimes literally), which is why I’m planning on doing more of ’em.


Coffee dates. I really enjoy coffee, and maybe more than the coffee itself, I love the ritual of having a cup of it in the morning to start my day. My husband is not a big coffee drinker, but he’s always down to get out of the house, take a walk, and start our weekends early. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery, fresh air, and a Cup of Joe to motivate your Saturday mornings. Our Keurig has been broken, and I’ve been spending way too much lately on visits to Starbucks, so I finally went out and bought a tried and true, regular ol’ coffee maker (with a pot and everything). I love the sound of the pot gurgling and the smell of coffee wafting through the apartment. It’s a simple thing that starts my day off on a happy note.


Gardening. This past weekend we finally built ourselves another planter that is safe to grow edible fruits and vegetables in. Beyond the hobby of gardening, which we are really enjoying so far (I talked more about it here), it’s so rewarding to make something (in this case, the planter) with your own hands. I love crafting and DIY projects and need to incorporate more of that into my life. I’m a firm believer in the importance and necessity of hobbies, whether it’s reading, exercising, sewing, etc., as these all make up a meaningful and well-balanced life.


Sunshine. Seriously. It never fails to lift my spirits, and thankfully we get a whole lot of it here in Southern California. When I’m feeling lethargic or in the dumps, a walk outside helps me feel refreshed because nothing feels better than the sun on your skin. I’m also feeling more motivated to get outside for long walks to reach my Fitbit steps, so the added exercise doesn’t hurt either.


Pizza. When all else fails: pizza. Just kidding. But seriously. I’ve never been one to have a favorite food, but the more I think about it, pizza probably tops the list. I love it homemade, delivery, pizzeria style…all of it. Nothing completes a Friday night like a slice of pizza and an ice-cold soda.

Along the same lines as discovering what makes you happy, find what makes you unhappy and eliminate those things from your life (I’m working on that part). Matthew McConaughey gave (what I think) is a brilliant commencement speech, in which he talks about finding out who you are by instead pinpointing what you are not, a process of elimination if you will. Read the whole transcript here.

Happy Memorial Day weekend! We are heading down to San Diego to spend the weekend at my brother’s new house – all things that make me very, very happy.

-wonderland sam

the art of the carry-on

May 20, 2015


Last October we decided to take a last minute trip to Portland for our 2 year anniversary. Because we spent a chunk of change on tickets for a trip we hadn’t planned on taking, we didn’t want to spend the extra to check luggage. I also snuck apple picking into our itinerary, so you bet I was going to make room in my suitcase to bring bags of apples home; thus was born my first time only bringing a carry-on. It held exactly two outfits for the two days we would be there, and I had one pair of shoes that were on my feet. And a magical world was opened up for me.

Having only a carry-on was so liberating. I didn’t overpack. I didn’t have to wait at the carousel after my flight for my giant suitcase. I didn’t have to worry about luggage being lost. I didn’t have to lug a huge suitcase everywhere if we changed locations often. We traveled a lot last fall and winter, and every plane ride I only brought a carry-on. To New York, to Texas for Christmas, etc. I’m never going back. But how did I do it?

1. Try on everything. Try on every outfit you plan on bringing – I’m talking the bra, the top, the pants, and the shoes…the whole thing. Too often I’d overpack several “options” only to find I didn’t like how any of them looked on me or nothing went together. Make sure you have the right bra to wear with that specific top. Make sure that top looks good with those jeans. Pack specific outfits – you don’t need three different bottoms to maybe go with one top. Take out the “maybe”, and put in the “will”. Love every outfit you’re packing, so you know you will wear it…exactly how you planned.

2. Pack versatile pieces. Pack items that are both casual and classy. Sometimes you don’t have a set itinerary for a trip, but now is not the time to pack extra fancy dresses just in case you go out to a nice dinner (one is fine if you must). Pack classic pieces that always look nice and can be worn for any occasion, like black skinny jeans or a floral blouse – not something super trendy or off the wall that you might not find an occasion to wear it.

3. Wear your clothes more. This may seem outlandish (or even gross to some), but hey, you don’t have to wash your clothes after one wear. I generally wear the same top 2 or 3 times before washing, and the same pants for way longer. Unless you’re doing physical activity or sweating or spilling something on yourself, your clothes do not get “dirty” that fast. This means you can pack less clothes and worry less about what you’re going to wear, because hey, that outfit worked perfectly yesterday, why not wear it again today? P.S. This rule does not apply to panties and socks. Change those every day.

4. When it comes to shoes, less is more. If there’s one thing I’d say most women have a lot of, it’s shoes, and I am no exception. They’re fun and complete an outfit, so why not have a ton of options?! Wrong – on trips anyway. Shoes take up the most room, and you never end up wearing all of them. I say pack two pairs (maybe three if you need sneakers because you’re an overachiever and exercise even while on vacation ;p) at the most, and that’s including the pair you wear to the airport. When I went to both Portland and New York, I only brought the one pair of shoes on my feet. But like I said above, pack shoes that are versatile. Leave the heels at home; they take up more space, are more fragile, aren’t conducive to walking a lot (which is usually done on trips), and you won’t have many occasions to wear them. Instead, pack a pair of ballet flats; they take up little room in your suitcase, are great for walking, and can transition from day to night – with pants or dresses. If you want to bring a pair of bulkier shoes, like boots or sneakers, wear those to the airport.

5. Travel size it. I used to be opposed to buying travel sized bathroom essentials because hey, I already have a bottle of shampoo at home, why do I need to waste $1.50 to buy a super tiny one I’ll only get a few uses out of? Well guess what, they’re always worth it. Not only will it allow you to only bring a carry-on (we all know you aren’t allowed to pack large containers of liquid), but they save space and weight. I also used to think I had to check a bag in order to bring my razor (ridiculous right?), but you don’t. Those can go in carry-ons, so you don’t have to worry about going days without shaving! Hurray!

6. Don’t allow duplicates. If you’re staying in a hotel, chances are they will have a hair dryer, so don’t pack your personal one. If you’re staying with friends, ask them beforehand if they have a straightener or even bathroom essentials (like shampoo and conditioner) they wouldn’t mind you using. No point in everyone having one of everything that can easily be shared. This applies to clothes too; you don’t need 3 different jackets – one is enough. Wear it to the airport because jackets definitely take up a lot of valuable suitcase space.

7. Bring a carry-on that has wheels. Even if your bag is super small and light, it’s always nice to have a rolling suitcase when you’re traversing a large airport like LAX or Houston Intercontinental. I learned my lesson after bringing a gym bag and having to lug it over my shoulder as I trekked through the airport. Packing light is supposed to make the experience better and more comfortable, so don’t let the lack of wheels get in the way of that.

I’m sure there are other, more “professional” tips for packing, but these have all worked for me. Above all else, the whole “trying on everything” has been the best and most helpful rule for me to follow. Pack light, so your trip is easy breezy, and you can bring home more travel purchases (or picks, like apples!). Happy traveling!

-wonderland sam

a day in the life

May 19, 2015

Yesterday I decided to document a day in my life – a photo or several every hour. I did this for two reasons: 1) to have documentation of this point in my life and 2) I’m endlessly fascinated with people’s everyday routines, their daily life, and “behind the scenes”. My days do not have a typical schedule. I don’t wake up at 7am every day and head to an office. Usually my days are open for auditions, and I’m on call for my other two jobs (a nanny agency and an assistant agency). I’m supposed to be assisting Mondays, but the woman I work with is taking the next couple of weeks off. I also sometimes nanny Monday afternoons, but I had no jobs, so yesterday, Monday, May 18, I had no set schedule. This isn’t interesting to everyone, but it’s interesting to me and a good reminder of a day in 25 year old Sam’s life.

I’m so glad I did this, and I even learned a few things along the way. Because I knew I’d be taking a photo every hour, I was more productive (woo!). When I found myself distracted by scrolling through social media, I realized just how much of a time suck it is. I also generally underestimate how long it takes to do things and am always blown away by how quickly time flies.

7:30 am – I wake up (do not take a photo), take Kipling out to the bathroom and feed her, and pack my husband a lunch.


8:15 am – I pour a cup of coffee (our Keurig broke, so this is my first “real” coffee maker – is it strange that this makes me feel more like an adult than the fancier Keurig?). I sit at my computer to read the daily posts from my favorite bloggers and to write my own blog post. I do no photo editing, and this is one of my easier posts to write, so it doesn’t take too long.


9:15 am – I go outside to water our plants. These sunflowers (above) are growing strong, but I’m afraid we will have to pull some since they are growing so close together. :( I also check on the fruits and vegetables we planted this past weekend. Afterwards, I realize I’m starving, so I make myself a bowl of oatmeal and scroll Instagram before hopping in the shower.




10:15 am – I get dressed and ready for the day. I pick out this comfy sweater I bought off Poshmark because it looked like a cool, gloomy day outside. My “beauty” routine is pretty quick these days. I wash my hair every other day, run a blow dryer over my bangs and quickly through my hair just so it’s not soaking wet, and do nothing to it on the off days. For makeup, it’s some under eye concealer, blush, eyeliner on the corners of my top lids, mascara on the top lashes, and Chapstick.



11:15 am – I’ve done the dishes and start doing some hand-washing of a few articles of clothing (I never get around to doing this – those clothes sit in the hamper for far too long, so when I do wear them, they get several wears before going in the hamper). I like to light a candle and play music to help make household chores a little more enjoyable. I then sit down with my computer to meal plan and make a grocery list for the week.



12:15 pm – I head out to Trader Joe’s to do my grocery shopping. It’s less than a mile away (as are three other grocery stores).


1:15 pm – I’m back home from the grocery store (Am I the only one fascinated by what groceries people buy? I like looking at others’ carts in line to try to figure out a little bit about them based on what they’re buying. Just me? Okay.). I unload the groceries, make myself lunch (turkey sandwich and chips), and start going through my photos and tagging (in iPhoto) the ones I want printed for this past year’s album (that I need to start!).


2:15 pm – I make the dough for the pizza we are having tonight. It needs to rise for about 4 hours, so I have to plan ahead.



3:15 pm – Kipling and I are back from our 40 minute walk.


4:15 pm – I mean to sit on the couch to read but take a nap instead. I wake up, read a few pages, and make another cup of coffee to get out of that awful, post nap grog (and to test the programmable option on our coffee maker).



5:15 pm – I go outside to harvest some basil for our pizza and begin chopping up vegetables, making the sauce, and preheating the oven.



6:15 pm – The pizza is ready to go in the oven. Tonight’s toppings are mushrooms, spinach, grape tomatoes, zucchini, and basil on top of mozzarella cheese.


7:15 pm – We’ve eaten dinner (probably my best pizza to date) and are watching the Astros baseball game on TV. The game is slow, so I make a batch of homemade granola bars and clean up the kitchen. After the game is over (unfortunately the Astros lost), my husband and I go on a quick jog in our neighborhood. Then it’s home to relax, shower, and go to bed by 10:30pm.

How was your Monday? Next time I do this I may take more photos throughout instead of just on the hour. I’ll also try to do it on a day where my schedule is very different (filled with jobs and/or auditions). Even if you don’t blog or want to share your photos, I do recommend doing this if you’re having trouble staying motivated to get things done. I know that when I don’t have a schedule or deadline, it’s very hard for me to tackle that to-do list because I have endless time.

-wonderland sam


May 18, 2015


reading : Claire Marvel by John Burnham Schwartz, a random book I picked up from my neighborhood’s little free library.

listening : to Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin and his interviews with successful actors. What do they all have in common? They all just did what they loved and didn’t care what people thought.

smelling : Ashland Soothing Sandalwood candle.

watching : Friends, from the beginning, and of course crushin’ on Chandler. P.S. If you need some new series to start that are only one season in, I highly, highly recommend Bloodline (Netflix) and Togetherness (HBO). Need a fantastic and compelling movie to watch? Check out the French film, Mommy.

feeling : all manners of things lately. isn’t a quarter life crisis the new thing?

planning : on taking Cardio Barre classes. I got a Groupon to get me back into the swing of things.

catching up : on my Project Life album for this past year (hoping to order photos today).

working on : our garden. basil and bell peppers and strawberries and zucchini and onions and lavender and sunflowers.

cooking : homemade pizza tonight (any excuse to harvest from our basil plant).

going : to San Diego for Memorial Day weekend at my brother’s new house.

wishing : for sunnier days. June gloom has come early this year.

brainstorming : ways to be productive on my off days (it involves a lot of lists).

anticipating : my sister’s visit in a couple of weeks!

receiving : texts from my niece. happy she got a new phone, and I have a fun way to check in with her. she’s trying out for a play this week, and I’m so excited for her!

buying : a new swimsuit for summer, and it’s a one piece! i haven’t had one of those since 6th grade swim team, but it’s black and flattering and has just enough vintage style (and was 40% off!).

-wonderland sam


May 13, 2015


A couple of years ago I thought I’d be ambitious with my first foray into gardening and attempt to grow herbs from seeds. Well, it was very exciting the first couple of weeks when the seeds sprouted and little one inch plants were born. But that’s where it ended. While the parsley quickly did not survive, I held out hope for my basil until I realized it was just never going to grow. Well this year I was determined to grow a garden for real, so a few weeks ago, during a trip to Home Depot, we decided on a whim to pick up some starters and supplies to build our own planter.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that only after my husband spent all day helping me build a beautiful planter did we realize the wood had been previously stained. Wah wah. We salvaged most of the vegetable and herb plants and repotted them in random pots we found around our apartment. We even thought we’d try one in a random patch of dirt, and that one seems to be growing the strongest.

We couldn’t let the planter go to waste, so we planted a couple of (inedible) lavender plants and a lot of sunflower seeds – both dwarf and teddy bear. My husband has plans for a more complex planter we’re hoping to build soon, but if you decide to make one like this, ask the Home Depot guys to point you in the direction of non-toxic wood (that also won’t warp). We were pretty bummed at first, but I’m also pretty excited to have a little sunflower garden; they are my favorite flowers after all.


The design of the planter is simple. We made a frame with a post at each corner and then screwed two planks of wood to each side. For the bottom of the planter, we laid down planks of wood with gaps in between for drainage; we also drilled holes into the planks for extra drainage. We put four wheels (with locks) on the bottom, so we could easily move the planter and lock it into place.










Right now we are growing basil and an assortment of bell peppers, in addition to the lavender and sunflowers in the planters. I’m not sure what I want to grow when we make another planter, but I’m thinking tomatoes and some other herbs.


The sunflower seeds are sprouting after only a week! Is it weird how excited this makes me? I’m obsessed.



Do you see that bell pepper already growing? It gets bigger every day. Nature is crazy, y’all.


I’m happy, and hopeful, to check this off my 25 for 25 list. My husband has been surprisingly really into it as well, checking his seedlings every day to water and nurture them. I think the reason gardening appeals to me, much like motherhood does, is I get to focus my attention outside of myself. It’s not about me; it’s about them. I get to check into how they’re doing – watering them when they’re drooping, making sure they get enough sunlight, marveling at their quick growth. Life is a beautiful thing. And I don’t think I’ll ever stop being amazed.

Happy gardening!

P.S. The fiddle leaf fig we have in our bedroom isn’t doing so hot. The bottom leaves are browning, and a couple have fallen off. I think those leaves must not be getting enough light, as the top ones seem to be doing well. I may have to move it outside and see how it fares. Anyone have experience with these? It saddens me to see it hurt so.

-wonderland sam


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