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the magic of…

July 16, 2015

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The past three years I have taken an annual trip to Disneyland in the summer. My brother has gone with me once (and is not too excited about going again), my husband has gone with me once (and is not too excited about going again), my sister has gone with me once (and is not too excited about going again), and my niece has gone with me every time (and is ALWAYS EXCITED ABOUT GOING AGAIN). Lucky me, because I’d rather not have to make the visit alone. This year we decided to throw California Adventure into the mix because why not? I have only been one time shortly after the park opened many years ago, and I was curious to revisit. AND BOY AM I GLAD. California Adventure has all of the cuteness and summer fair nostalgia and good food and DRINKS and thrilling rides and less crowds and all of the awesomeness you could hope for. I’m already secretly/not so secretly planning with my niece to go back in December when it’s decorated for Christmas and drag my brother (her dad) and my husband with us (they’d love it).

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If you ever decide to go with me to one of these parks you need to know this: I do not mess around. I get there when it opens at 8am and stay until we’ve seen one of the shows (9 or 10pm). That’s 14 hours of Disney love and joy and fun, and if you ain’t down with it, you ain’t down with me. I do not diddle dalley through the park – I make my plan of action – which rides to hit first, in what order, and when we should grab Fast Passes (Space Mountain is always first). I thoroughly enjoy the experience, but I am not wasting precious time standing in an hour long line. Of course we will stop for food (duh) and yummy treats like Churros and Dole Whip but other than that, we can relax if we HAVE to wait in line or once we’ve hit all of the key rides. I am getting my money’s worth and my fun times’ worth. That’s how I roll.

My niece is 100% on board with me, so we are the perfect Disney buddies. We did all of the Disney rides in 2 hours, hopped over to California Adventure to do the rides on our list, then hopped back and forth between the two. I forced her to go on Tower of Terror and California Screamin’ (her first upside down rollercoaster) and though she was almost in tears (I’m a great aunt, I swear!) she ended up loving both of them (like I knew she would) and we rode each of those twice. My camera (phone) died (sadly) around 7pm, and my charger was back in my car, so I didn’t get any evening pics (oh how I wish). The Mad Tea Party was such a hoppin’ place to be, and even though I hate when people call Alice in Wonderland trippy and say Lewis Carroll must have been on drugs when he wrote it (yada yada yada), I loved what they did. Again, I’ll have to go with my husband when I can responsibly drink and not have to drive a child home afterwards.

All photos taken on my phone, edited with VSCO, and cropped to squares to match Instagram.

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-wonderland sam

Adventure Team 9

July 15, 2015

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I’m still trying to figure out what this space is to me – what I want it to be, if anything. I obviously haven’t made it a priority, and I share a lot (A LOT) on Instagram, so is it necessary? For the time being I will keep this space to see if I still have time for it and to determine what value it adds to my life. I have blogged a lot over the years, but this one I’ve kept for over four years, and I would be sad to let it go.

This lack of blogging is not for lack of content or inspiration. We have been so, so busy the past couple of months with visitors and plans and work that our fridge is empty, a giant pile of sheets and towels is laying in the middle of our living room, we ran out of poop bags for Kipling, I haven’t been able to finish the fifth Harry Potter in six weeks time, and generally I feel like I can’t keep the house in order. But it’s all okay. Because life is good, and our family is good, and summer is good.

Between all of the out of town visitors, we made a little trip “out of town” for our annual 4th of July camping trip. This time, my adventure/travel extraordinaire friend, Hank, planned the entire thing, right down to our packing list and meals. That in itself was glorious because although I’m a huge over planner myself, sometimes it’s nice to let someone else (who I can trust) take the reigns and do that work (thanks Hank). All (unedited) photos in this post are thanks to him as I didn’t bring my camera (but will probably share some from Whitney’s phone later – I shared a few on Instagram already).

So, about this trip…

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We took a ferry to the Channel Islands (Dramamine already in my system to avoid sea sickness), where we were then used as “unpaid help” to unload the entire boat. After the fox warnings from the park ranger, we walked the mile to camp and ate yummy chicken out of a plastic bag (this camping food was all new to me but oh so good), and I had some serious life-changing experiences having to eat my food off a dirty, outdoor table and share 5 (unwashed) spoons with 10 people (I grew a lot on this trip). We kayaked/tried to kayak against the current that afternoon, but a few of us (me) did not have the strength and turned around after getting to float through a sea cave and see a dead seal (sad face).

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Now the next day, the next day was the one we were terrified excited terrified about. We woke up at like, 5 am, to pack up camp, jerry-rig our kayaks with trash bag covered hiking backpacks, and set out the 9 miles to our next camping spot. There was virtually no time for rest because we (I) were so slow, and everyone was so fast, AND I HAVE NO IDEA HOW, but we had to get there before the winds showed up at 11 am and pushed us all the way back to the start. Though our shoulders were burning until they were numb, and I kept having to jump into the freezing water to pee, kayaking along an island coast in the ocean is pretty magnificent looking/feeling, and our seal friends following along didn’t hurt either. All of these photos are on my fancy underwater disposable camera that I’ll share once I get them developed.

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After reaching dry land (something that seemed impossible), we ate a ravenous lunch, only to pack up, and hike 3.5 miles uphill on a “strenuous” trail with all of our camping gear on our backs. This was the part I was most concerned about because I’m old, and my body is literally falling apart, and my chronic back pain was not going to be fun, and my wonky knee was going to hate me on any down slopes. I thought there was no possibility of me making it, but after approximately 7,236 “breaks”, we made it. And the camp was secluded, and the view was beautiful, and we had fancy appetizers and pasta and mini pies to celebrate the 4th of July as we watched a flea circus firework show 40 miles off in the distance.

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We did it. I did it. I probably looked like such a wuss, but I made it without dying. The next day we had to hike back, and it was literally 1 MILLION times easier (our packs were lighter, but also Whitney carried a lot more and it was mostly downhill).

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So, there you have it. We love to go camping and adventuring, but I won’t lie and say this wasn’t a lot for me. But I’m so glad for the experience and feel so accomplished. Also, I didn’t cry, so…there’s that.

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P.S. There were millions of little foxes running around trying to steal all of our things, but they were so cute, and I almost domesticated our little derpy fox who kept paying us visits. He even took his afternoon nap next to us, so I would say I was almost there.

-wonderland sam

pros of an office job

June 29, 2015
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So, guess what? I got an office job. And not as a sign of defeat with my acting career. But here’s the story:

My husband’s office was without an administrative assistant for a week or two. As the staff is growing, and the office is preparing for a move, hiring someone new fell to the wayside. He casually mentioned that I could help fill in for a week or two, and now I’m here, helping out at least for the next few months. I didn’t know how I’d like it. I’ve never had a full time job (just a variety of multiple part time jobs), and the times I’ve worked in an office I either disliked very much or was with several people in a casual environment I could talk to to get through the day. Besides the boss being totally supportive of my need to leave for auditions, etc., I’m making some extra income, and getting to see my husband (though not too much, we are on opposite ends of the office). I also knew pretty much everyone in the office already from BBQs and company parties. It’s a pretty perfect set up. I’ve been here two weeks, and here are some of the things I’m loving so far (for those that are struggling with the hum drum of office life, let’s change our attitude, shall we?!):

Routine: Since I had to keep my days open for auditions, I had no set routine. My days were open and free, and I got in a bad habit of not doing anything with them (who needs to when you have endless free time?). Now that I have to be at work every day, I wake up at the same time to start my day. I get dressed and pack my food (in turn I have a better and more filling eating schedule). Kipling gets a walk in the morning since we’re both gone until 5:30…and a walk when we get home (I have to be more diligent about my steps). Being at the office all day leaves little time to take care of chores, errands, and exercise, so those need to be scheduled. The time we have outside of work is precious, so we take advantage of it by seeing friends and planning fun outings. I already feel immensely more productive.

Clothing: Though I’ve recently reduced my wardrobe drastically to only clothes that fit great and that I love to wear, I still have several pieces I don’t wear often. I mean, why would I throw on that adorable Anthropologie dress just to sit at home or walk the dog? I’m having fun planning my outfits and putting my clothes to good use. I always feel better about myself and more confident when I am dressed and put together. It’s great to have an excuse to get dressed for the day (and not just sit in my pajamas until 2pm). Plus, it’s fun!

Keurig Cups: You might have seen me mention that our Keurig broke, and I was without coffee for a while (and took too many trips to Starbucks). Even with the Keurig machine, we never bought the cups because they’re so expensive. I ended up buying a regular ol’ coffee pot, which is just fine, but then I decided to cut back on coffee. I’m not happy to admit that my coffee drinking is coming back a bit with my early rise time and working all day, but I am happy to say that there is an abundance of free Keurig cups in every flavor I could imagine! Chai Latte, Mocha, regular coffee, etc. etc. It’s the little things in life, y’all.

My Mind: Guys, I don’t know if I need to tell you this, but spending significant lengths of time by yourself at home is not great for your soul. I was getting so antsy and feeling in such a rut/funk these last several months. I needed something to occupy my time. I needed something to motivate me. I needed a reason to get up and get moving with the day. Already this job has done wonders for all of that. I see people! I take lunch outside in the sunshine! I spend my free time at the computer actually working towards my acting career instead of surfing the internet! I’m more relaxed about finances, which that in itself has been a Godsend. That leads to relaxation in all areas of my life – I don’t feel as desperate, as worthless or insignificant (real talk here guys). I feel a sense of renewal with my acting and love the breaks I get to take to go to auditions or meetings. I don’t need the job. I can just enjoy it now.

Office life is not for everyone. It’s not for me either (heck, I’m an actress). But as a means to supplement my life while I pursue my dreams? It seems pretty good so far. Because God knows I can never go back to waiting tables again.

-wonderland sam

25 for my 25th : progress

June 10, 2015

Admittedly, I have not crossed off as many things on this list as I would’ve liked to by now, but I do have some plans in motion. I have exactly three months left until my birthday.

A little update on my 25 for 25th list:

1. Visit Portland, Oregon √

3. Make my own sandwich bread √

4. Go apple picking √

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5. Enroll Kipling in an obedience class 

We finished a 6 week course with Kipling earlier this year. It mostly covered basic obedience commands that Kipling already knows, but we did learn some helpful tips. I must admit we do need to be way more diligent about teaching her on our own and reinforcing things at home. Persistence is key if we want to make any real progress.

6. Read the entire Anne of Green Gables series / finished book 3 of 6; however, I’ve lost interest in the series (though the first is so great) and don’t think I’ll continue reading.

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9. Go camping at Joshua Tree 

We spent our annual Easter camping trip at Joshua Tree this year. You can see photos and read more about it here and here.

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14. Learn how to actually plant an herb garden 

I should edit this to just say “garden” because though the only herb we’ve planted is basil, we’ve planted a whole lot of other fruits and vegetables (bell peppers, onions, zucchini, strawberries). Check out our planter we made here (we ended up making two).

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16. Read Harry Potter / on book 5 of 7

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20. Have a picnic in Central Park 

Though it didn’t work out that we actually ATE in Central Park (we had Thanksgiving leftovers back at our friend’s apartment), we did have the opportunity to go to NYC this year and walk through Central Park (and see the famous Alice statue!). You can find more about our trip here, here, here, here, and here.

Some other plans in motion:

2. Learn how to use a sewing machine / I purchased this A Beautiful Mess e-course and am just waiting to procure a sewing machine to get started!

7. Buy a new mattress / This is actually our Christmas gift from my mom (this past year). We just have yet to pick one out.

11. Go on a day long hike / We are doing a three day kayaking/hiking/camping trip for 4th of July that should check this one off.

13. Take a SkillShare or other online class / I have a handful of free classes that I have already registered for and just need to make the time to actually take them.

See my previous update here. You can also follow my (slow) progress on Instagram through #sams25for25

-wonderland sam

balance

May 28, 2015

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I struggle with finding balance. To me, it’s usually an all or nothing thing. I either have to binge watch Netflix all day or cross off my to-dos like a maniac. I go from attending casting director workshops and submitting for projects and emailing industry contacts and reading Backstage articles to taking a step back and relaxing and letting go of the desperation. It has been very tricky for me to balance on that fine line somewhere in between.

This applies to pursuing my interests and discovering what I want from life in general. I want to do too many things. Or I want to do nothing. Everything inspires me, but everything bogs me down with too much information – my brain cannot possibly absorb all of it. I’m still working on this. Working on relaxing but staying motivated, working on gathering information but taking it with a grain of salt and ultimately trusting my own instincts. Working on being okay with the fact that I want to be and do a great many things but also that it’s okay for me to change my mind and not want to be or do certain things.

There is no blueprint for life. There are no steps to take that will ensure complete and utter happiness and success. It’s all about recognizing who you are, being okay with that, and doing what works for you. We are all different and complex and crazy, and it’s about accepting that. I must accept that I am all of the things I am, and I feel all of the things I feel, and that is okay. All we can do is focus is on the present moment and the current journey we are on – doing the things that promote love and joy. This is what I keep telling myself to keep me sane.

I read this and this yesterday and loved both – take a look. Everything above probably made no sense, but these women are so much more eloquent than I am.

-wonderland sam

san diego

May 27, 2015

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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).

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-wonderland sam

joshua tree

May 26, 2015

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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!

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

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Beautiful desert skies.

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-wonderland sam

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