Home Builder’s Warehouse Depot

 

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The cottage kitchen is only bigger than the one we had in the Air Bnb in Paris. 💗 (the blue here represents where kitchen cabinets will exist) The Air bnb kitchen was amazing, but let’s face it, I was in Paris, anything seemed amazing. #francophile

How is it midnight and I’m just getting home from work?? My career has been amazing so far, and I’m excited to keep moving up and forward! (Fingers crossed). I mostly don’t mind working late, and this show looks like it’s going to turn out gorgeous. I’m excited to see it progress.

Meanwhile, speaking of progression, I’m also moving forward on the home renovation front. Today while perusing Pinterest for kitchen cabinet and cottage paint ideas I was reminded “how did I forget about shiplap?!!!” How many times have we heard Johanna Kerns talk about Shiplap?!  Jeesh! Yet somehow it completely slipped my mind. Looking at photos of cottage interiors made me realize I wish I could start over with this place and work with an actual professional designer because I could TOTALLY “cottage” my cottage up for realz! Add beams and shiplap….etc. But alas, I am on a budget. Also, by nature, I actually picked things that felt beach cottage-y anyways. Except the floor. I’ve never been convinced I have picked the right floor. I literally picked it because most “affordable” laminate or vinyl flooring is hideous so I picked the best one I could get for .68c a square foot. The sample looked decent in my place, so I pray it looks good when Mike lays it all down. My bathroom selections feel, to me, like a Ritzy beach cottage (marble tiles with hints of blue grey). I wish I could have done gold fixtures throughout, but those are more specific to my taste and less “neutral”, so I went with brushed nickel.

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I love this bedroom for The Cottage. I wish I could shiplap the walls like this. Technically I could. Maybe I’ll talk with Mike. Meanwhile I can definitely do the pastel colors and, the window trim, and fancy crown molding. I think my place will be its own version of this, I hope. This room looks substantial, warm, light, cozy, relaxing, and safe.
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I am OBSESSED with this ceiling!! Words I never thought I would hear myself say….Even the coral pendant is amazing. I wonder if it would be comfortable to live in a home like this. I don’t know, but it would definitely be comfortable to live under that ceiling! 💗

Sunday Rudi was busy training a puppy so I took one of my closest friends, Margaret, with me to meet Mike at Designer Warehouse. I know this isn’t the correct name of the place, but honestly I can’t ever remember the actual name of Mike’s favorite store in North Hollywood. Maybe it is Builders Depot? Anyways, it’s like Home Depot but less annoying with less choices. Also, it’s freezing in the store for some reason, but that’s neither here nor there (what does that expression even mean?? Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever used it before. I wonder if using it means I’m turning into an old lady. I hope not!!! Though Margaret did mention I seem “less carefree lately”. That breaks my heart. I’m not sure what she means by that, but I need to work on it!!!).

Sunday was slotted for selecting kitchen cabinets, kitchen backsplash, and front and back exterior doors. A friend shared with me the name of a supposedly affordable custom cabinet place, so I am using the cabinets at Designer Warehouse as my backup plan. We decide to go with a step up from “shaker doors”, and in natural wood which will allow us to paint them a color I want. The pre painted ones seriously look like cheap prison cupboards, so I am grateful my budget affords me something a bit classier. After my ikea experience, I am grateful for Mike who helped plan out a kitchen layout that makes me feel like living with a tiny kitchen for a while may not be so bad!! I may even have more space than I thought. I hope his ideas work out as nicely in person as they have on his unscaled drawings!! (Uh oh!). I have faith it’s going to be better than expected.


👆🏼Color palettes I’m considering for The Cottage interior. I love them all!

Deciding whether or not I should have a dishwasher has been like an existential dilemma. I don’t use them. I mean you have to wash the dishes to use the dishwasher, so what’s the point? It’s a waste of space, water, and electricity, in my opinion. If I was making this cottage for myself (as opposed to a tenant), I would have a wine fridge where the dishwasher “should” go, and I would call it a day. It’s been a constant struggle trying to remember that this cottage is to be a rental unit. I mean I WILL be living in it while the main house is renovated, so I wish I could splurge and design it as if it is mine as well. I have also been reminded by numerous friends that after a few months in a 580sf house, I’ll be excited to move into my house and rent this one out. I am looking forward to the income and would love to one day add another unit and turn the property into a real Bed and Breakfast! Regardless, I want the place to be cozy and nice but also durable. So the cabinets we picked, I think, will be great. It’s a good thing too! It turns out the custom cabinet place has a 3 week turn around and we’re chasing the clock so that I can move in and stop paying rent and mortgage simultaneously, which is eating money from my budget for the main house.

We picked an awesome front door (Margaret helped a lot), and decided for sure on a dutch back door. I am super exited! I also put a bid on an antique door knocker- but no hints on that. You’ll just know if/when I win!

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Margaret showing off the back splash we picked. It was really fun having her with me, and I also appreciate and am grateful for her support. She’s been amazing at giving insight without imposing her own likes and dislikes onto me. This is a true art people! I am grateful for her!!

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The back splash was fairly easy to pick due to a lack of choices. It was sort of nice to not be overwhelmed. I love what I picked because it does feel modern beach-y. I started with  three styles, and once held to the countertop it was obvious which one had the best aesthetic. Mike is thrilled because I finally picked something easy to apply. The countertop choosing was more challenging because I had something in mind that didn’t exist at Home Depot Warehouse Whatever, likely because what I pictured probably costs a fortune and is not sold at discount places. What can I say, I have exquisite taste and should be having tea with the queen of England rather than working to be financially independent 😉 And on THAT note- seriously?? Let’s see how long The Prince and his wife last having “real jobs.” It just makes me think about the time I worked my very first job at The Ski Haüs (I worked there for one day!) I came home and I was like “Mom! They made me hang up clothes after people tried them on in the dressing room!” I thought I would be helping customers pick out ski clothes, not cleaning after them. I never went back. I’m honestly not even sure I got paid for the day I worked. I must have. This was a long time ago, so I probably made $30 (after taxes) for 8 full hours of work. They really need to raise minimum wage! But that’s a conversation for another time.

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Because I know y’all missed Rudi! Here he is working with his bff Brando (white Pomsky on the right). They are training the puppy in the center.

The last thing I picked was a kitchen faucet, which took all of 5 seconds. I looked and was like “I want that one.” Last time I was that sure of something was when I bought my car (which has worked out great so far). The time before that was when I got Daisy (best choice of my life!!) Actually I also felt that way when I decided to put a bid on this property. So that’s a great sign!!
Today on Pinterest I saw some color schemes (scroll back up for photos) that really inspired me for finish work on the house. And I purchased the barn doors I’ve been looking eyeing. It’s a good thing, too, because they’re gonna take 6 weeks to construct.

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Daisy Doo (left) with her brother Stanley, and sister Abby.

Im not sure what Mike has been up to today at the house but I know he didn’t go back to Builders Depot Home Design Warehouse to get anything because I saw no activity on my credit card. Come on Mike! I gotta move in soon!!

 

xoxo

QJ

QJ

IKEA madness

 

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The current shape of my kitchen. Look at the amazing c1963 wallpaper that was living below the drywall and old cabinets! How fun!! Remember, this is an original 1920 California bungalow, making it 100 year old/century home 💗 I can tell so much love has been exchanged here.

Oh Em Gee!! IKEA is maddening!! The bathroom has been so much fun, but designing this kitchen is nooooot as lovely of an experience. First of all, why in the world are IKEA cabinets $2200?! IKEA. Cabinets. Not including  the counter and appliances. Just. The. Cabinets. 🤯. It makes no sense to me!!

When I first arrived at IKEA, I was actually pleasantly surprised by how happy it made me. The tiny room displays were so inviting and pretty, I felt assured that both the cottage and main house would be gorgeous despite their compact statures. There was a really pretty living room, a bathroom I may copy for the 3/4 bath in the main house, and even a couple nice looking kitchens. At first I was intrigued and excited to begin the kitchen planning.

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Such a well decorated cute space. It’s all in the details.
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Love this little outdoor garden area. Perfect addition for a tiny home. An outdoor room can make a home feel bigger. Living in SoCal allows us that opportunity.
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Definitely plan on using the closet system in the main house. It’ll save me a ton of money. Plus they just look nice. This bedroom was only 230sf, yet felt elegant and nice. Wait a minute… 230sf isn’t actually small…..

I was assigned to a man named Paul who did explain he was fairly new at kitchen design. FYI, by the way, you can’t just show up and design a kitchen with a designer. Appointments have to be made well in advance  ( this IKEA was backed up by three weeks). Paul admitted the cottage kitchen was a challenge due to its lack of space in conjunction with its shape. I considered pushing out the back wall to create enough space to build a galley kitchen, but expanding the exterior would put me over budget and eat into the budget for the main house.

Different kitchen layouts

👆🏼In case anyone is interested in learning the different kitchen shapes, this is a great explanation.

Let me tell you, kitchen cabinets are actually hideous. And piecing them together is like playing Tetris except somehow not at all fun. If my budget was unlimited, I’m certain it would have been a better experience. It just seems like things are more expensive only because they are made for a kitchen. Maybe I should put bathroom cabinets in the kitchen. “Oh yes, these are DEFINITELY for a bath room. Only $50?! Great! Haha I fooled you, they’re going on my kitchen!!”

The issue with IKEA  cabinets (other than price) is the doors are not inset. On the one hand, this is what creates the sleek modern look ikea is known for. On the other hand, the door style requires there be space for the door to hinge open. Space being the key word. Space being something that is majorly lacking in the cottage kitchen. It was like trying to squeeze Cinderella’s mean step sister’s gigantic foot into the tiny glass slipper.

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IKEA’s design software was cool. Too bad my kitchen is so small nothing useful really fits. I’m not giving up! I know there will be a solution and something will fit and be great.

Once I realized three hours had passed, we still hadn’t figured out how to deal with the dead space to the left of the sink (a corner cabinet with lazy Susan won’t fit in my kitchen), and the moderately decent solution for too much money was actually less than moderately decent, I ran off. Poor Rudi needed to be free! I texted with Mike who assured me we’d find better cabinets for a significantly lower cost, as well as nice countertop that is reasonably priced (the quartz at ikea has a 25sf minimum and starts at….are you sitting?….$1500!! )

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Rudi had enough after 3 hours. He thinks a Dutch door from the kitchen to the back yard is a great idea though, and so do I 💗

It was a successful day but I’m exhausted.  I learned about how ikea works and I’m not sure custom cabinets would cost more. If so, then ikea could be a solution for the main house (not the counter top though!!) and/or for someone who wants a sleek modern look and can’t afford going custom but can afford ikea. The Home Depot cabinets are not pretty, but for a rental likely fine and worth the price. I feel like money is better spent on getting durable appliances and reasonably priced hard to ruin countertop.

 

I’ll keep y’all  posted.
Toodles!

Xoxo

QJ

QJ

The Bathroom Saga Continues

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So far this project has been so much fun!!! The holiday week gave me (and Rudi) extra time to really research and hunt down the perfect tile duo for the cottage bathroom floor and walls. I’ve also been looking for a 24” vanity, but I may actually need an 18”. Storage in the vanities these sizes is so minimal, it’s practically pointless.

I want the bathroom to feel casually luxurious so I can attract that higher end renter. After driving to Carson (Rudi dumped a huge gross load right in a gorgeous display bathroom!), Central LA (the store was closed with 3 homeless men sleeping on the entrance foyer), Santa Monica (nicest family owned shop with fantastic prices, and the owner was so creative and helpful with bathroom design ideas when I asked), I’ve finally narrowed it down to a glossy hexagonal marble floor tile with glossy white large rectangular wall tiles. I’ve been enjoying the challenge of finding something awesome but staying in budget.


I wish I could find a honed non-polished hexagonal floor tile, but they are all incredibly pricy!! It’s too bad, because I would like some contrast between the floor and the walls. The space is so small and cave-like and, despite the extra large window we installed, it’s still very dark!! I’m contemplating a sky light or just really great recessed lighting, since the ceiling real estate is limited and we have the fan, and the recessed lights going up there as well. The vanity and wall sconces will come next, and the shower and bath hardware have been selected. I really wanted bronze/gold details, but I’ll save that for the main house and stick with the less expensive brushed nickel in here.

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I love the bold choices in both these display bathrooms at Floor&Decor  in Carson. I can’t wait to get to the main house, where I can add a little more drama.
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Rudi’s bathroom 😉

Rudi and I also started the hunt for vinyl flooring for the rest of the house. It’s supposed to be voc free and warmer on the feet than tile and other faux wood options, and more economical than real wood. So far it’s all been pretty hideous so we shall see!

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I’m slightly in love with this beautiful water cut marble from Italy. I’ve learned so much about marble. It’s porous but durable. There are many regions, mostly in Italy, where marble is indigenous. Different colors and veining affects the cost. The whiter the marble, the more expensive. And if it’s water cut to be detailed, like these beautiful magnolias, it’s the most pricey. Marble is naturally cold. It can be honed (matte) or polished. It’s also stunning.

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays with their own fun projects!! With the new year afoot, I’m sticking to my plan that I began at the start of the  Jewish new year (as per the Rabbi’s sermon)- in the immortal words of Phillip Knight, this is the year to Just Do It!! I’m also going to try and keep up with my attempted one book a month pledge, which definitely made my brain feel more healthy and exercised in 2019.

Happy New Year everyone!! Let’s make 2020 a fantastic one full of health, wealth, love, and joy. I’m posting this without checking my work (because it’s 3am and I just feel like it), so hopefully it all makes sense. 💗

 

xoxo

QJ

QJ

The Bathroom Quandary: A Sink Conundrum.

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You’re my obsession, Farm Sink. You may be SO last year (actually these were apparently a big deal in 2017), but I 100% agree with  Design Chic , totally in love with the look of these antique farm sinks.

Last night I met with my contractor, Mike, at the “rental cottage” (which we’ve named it, so I will call it that from now on). I am SO excited!! He has already done so much work. The marred mildewed floors are all pulled up and the disgusting dilapidated appliances are all out. There’s already a hole in the wall in preparation for the barn doors, and I can tell the space will feel much more open that way. Also the closet has been demo’ed so we can put in our ikea hacked closet system (once i muster up enough nerve to actually go to ikea and pick one out).

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The hole in the wall, and i’m not talking about the bar in Austin (though that bar makes FANTASTIC tacos!). I decided to add barn doors so the tenant can decide if he/she wants to make the apartment feel more open or if an actual closed- off bedroom is ideal. Also, when its time to sleep, the doors can be shut for privacy.

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Here’s my demolished bathroom. I love it! It’s on its way to the clean slate phase. The death of the past, soon to move on to the introduction of its re birth. It will be gorgeous and the site of many wonderful gifts!

First we discussed the bathroom in great detail. As you can see, it is TINY. Maybe it is hard to tell with no reference, but seriously, it’s the size of a hallway. Not as tiny, apparently, as Mike’s guest bath, but in my opinion its TINY. I’m still excited because I have big things planned for this bitsy space. I’m looking into a 30″x 48″ window on the back wall to open up the space and to allow in abundant natural sunlight. The window will be right at the shower and is large, so I am  looking at one that can become opaque by the push of a button! It has been challenging to remember this isn’t really MY space to live in, its a rental. So I have to stay neutral and universal with my choices. My “homework” , assigned by Mike,  is to pick out tiles and a sink/vanity. It is harder than I thought (but still totally fun) because there are SO many choices. My designer, David, recommended Daltile (daltile.com) and Mike recommended Emser Tile (Emser.com) so i’ve been perusing both websites while waiting for story board revisions to come in at work. I’ve also been looking at small bathroom ideas on pinterest. I want to give the room the illusion of space. Here are some ideas I am considering. Maybe someone out there reading this will have some input:

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This was my inspiration for the window. I originally wanted to copy this entire bathroom, but now that i’ve thought about it, I imagine its too many lines for my ity bitty space,  and will be an eye sore. I do like the mirror, the colors, and the idea of a floating sink (more floor space is better).

 

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I apparently am into navy, black and blue, and my eye is drawn to subway tile. I love this bathroom. I love the contrast of the floor juxtaposed against the wall, and I adore the wallpaper (which is shocking me!).  At least I love this photo of this bathroom. Would i love it in real life? I am not sure. Also, is it something a renter would like?

 

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Maybe something like this would be better. I love the floor. It is pretty and seems like it could give the room an illusion of depth. The glossy subway tiles filed with white grout appear cleaner than the subway tiles in the first photo. The all white ensemble would reflect the light and give a sense of space, maybe?

Mike liked the idea of a floating vanity. He did say with such a small space, it is better to have less on the floor. I love the one in the first photo. I found it in two places, both cost a fortune.

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Smart to have a shelf above the sink, since there is no vanity space. Which actually could be a problem for renters. No vanity space is No bueno, really. Mike and I did discuss a linen/storage closet at the end of the bathroom, but under the sink cabinet space may be imperative. Not sure its worth putting expensive design over functionality in this situation. Maybe it would be better to find a nice sink that does have under cabinet storage. I do love this though, and it seems compact which is perfect for this particular bathroom. Of course I would want it in navy. In case you are interested, here’s where you can find these:

Antique Farm Sink by Kohler Amazon $1200

 Farm Sink on Houzz for $1400

I will keep searching for floating wall mounted vanities. So far….yuk. I like the farm sink. I haven’t even begun to think about what color to paint the half wall that will not be tiled. haha. I’ll get there!

It’s interesting how its hard to take my own taste out of it and be neutral. I’ve never been “average”, so it is a challenge for me to try and think like “the masses”. It is difficult to put my head into the mind of the “average Joe” when I truly believe each and every one of us, at least deep down if not evident on the surface, is totally unique. I do love that I am practicing my decision making skills. For a long time (like, my entire life), I made decisions based on what would make other people happy and/or what would keep me far away from conflict. Now I will need to make executive choices based on this cottage being a business. Let’s be honest, I would be so excited if one day I could build another unit over the garage, and then call the triplex an ACTUAL Bed and Breakfast/Hotel! I am happily energized by doing research, and making these choices. I am improving my visionary skills! And if I pick something that doesn’t work, we can (and will) change it!

More to come! Mike is sending possible kitchen layouts soon.

 

xoxo

QJ

QJ

New Decade, New Digs.

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On December 3, 2019 Rudi and I bought a house!!

I guess the process took four or five years. When I first started writing this blog, I was looking for a house. I feel like my years with MSM was a wrinkle in time that took me off my path. Actually not really, because I definitely loved him and the breakup nearly destroyed me. It turned me into a totally different person. On the good side, I am now more self sufficient. I have no interest in falling so in love with anyone ever again. Never again will I admire my mate to the point that I need them to validate me and my choices. I have no interest in that. I just want to be with someone who can take care of themselves, let me take care of myself,  and then sometimes we can hang out and have fun together. In my dreams I still want a kind and loving relationship filled with pets, travels, service to the world, joy, laughter, self  growth (learning new things together), and passion. I am working on trusting the process to get there, and trusting the entire thing, actually. For now I bought a house. I don’t know what got me starting to look. Actually, yes I do. I was fostering my dog Rudi, who I am somehow trying to keep but as I stated before I don’t want too much attachment to anyone, so he is free to leave me if someone else can provide him with a better life. I challenge anyone to that, though, because I adore this dog, and have invested A LOT into his happiness. It’s a fantastic return on investment because he is sweet, makes me laugh, and he is unconditionally loving. Anyways, I was fostering Rudi and he was barking a lot and he MAYBE chewed the balcony post in the amazing duplex i was renting (i LOVED that place) so the landlord didn’t renew my lease. I am not certain thats WHY he didn’t renew it because the day I left (literally moments later), I stuck the address into google search, and up it came for $500/mo more rent. So it is extremely possible the landlord just wanted more money. Greedy bastard. But I do understand. LA is expensive. Especially Santa Monica. They gave me 20days notice. That’s right. Twenty days to find a new house, pack my stuff, and move out (more bastardly than raising the rent). Was I stressed, you ask? BEYOND. This entire scenario has wreaked havoc on my blood pressure (Not kidding. Quite serious in fact.  I’m working on that with a doctor and really hoping we can get this under control and consistently good in what I hope is quick period of time because I don’t do well when I am in fear of health issues). I ended up in an Air BNB for 3 weeks (cost a fortune), a few hotels (which was somewhat fun. I should have reviewed them!), and then renting a holding cell, which is actually a lovely apartment, in the same complex where my nephew and his wife live. The amenities are amazing, the people are friendly, the rent isn’t bad, and the staff are really sweet people. I love the pool and hot tub, I love that i have a parking space in a garage, and I love that my nephew and niece are so close. It has been fun living there, actually, despite how dark my unit is. And I never unpacked fully because immediately I started house hunting fairly aggressively. I just would like to go somewhere and live there at least five years and NOT be kicked out or worry about rent going up. This way I will own something and hopefully…..HOPEFULLY it will appreciate this time (unlike last time when I bought in 2006 and then the crash happened in 2008). I’ve been gun-shy, but I am excited. Rudi loves the yard and seems at home in the space. The fun part is, the entire place needs to be completely renovated. So I am going to get to basically make my own home. With restrictions, of course. I have to stick within my budget. I WILL make a nice home. The greatest part of it all is its a duplex. Two 1920 single family bungalows on one lot. So I will be renting out one of them to help pay the mortgage. The hard part is my  budget and the bungalows are both pretty small. I know that anything under 1500SF is too small for me, so I am going to need to figure out how to make 1100SF FEEL like 1500. Solution #1-  I hired a Feng Shui specialist to go through the space with hopes she can help me create an efficient, open and airy floor plan. #2-  I am currently talking with different architects and interior designers so I can find an affordable one to work with and support me to do this right. My contractor, Mike, is one of my closest friend’s best friend. So lets hope we are all still in love with each other on the flip side. Pun intended hahaha

The Feng Shui lady was interesting……I was SUPER excited about her. She got fantastic yelp reviews but when she showed up she was frazzled. In her defense she wasn’t feeling well, and apparently had bronchitis. At first she seemed mean, but I am sensitive so I knew I may have been taking things wrong. Once time passed, she was really very sweet and gave me a lot of her time. However, every time I email a question, her answers, though they do answer my questions, seem abrasive. I guess its hard to tell tone in an email so I’ve been giving her the benefit of the doubt. She didn’t give me colors or a basic layout describing what quadrant was what- so I ‘m not sure where “love” is (now I know because I asked) or “finance”, or “helpful people”. Whats advantageous about knowing these things is one can put stuff in the quadrants to enhance positive energy in each arena. For example, in the helpful people quadrant (ie friends), its good to hang art with groups of people, and to place certain colors and elements that go with that idea to promote more friendships in life. As a bonus, once done, the rooms seem well designed because Feng Shui lays down ideas for color and decor in the different quadrants. Since my Feng Shui lady didn’t share this information with me, I will not likely be using her for anything else. I may even call a different Feng Shui person,  or just use what she did give me, trust it, and not worry about it ever again? Her stuff was more about protecting the house and making it a strong, energetically safe, place to live. And that is a good thing.

Rudi is SO excited about his new house and yard. My friend Ina and her pup Elvis stopped by. My first friend to see the place. I’m excited she got to see the “before”. 

I wish I had blogged through my breakup and the creation of my last home (the duplex I rented). All the bumble dates and self growth I went through, I am sure, would have been funny and also may have helped other people going through a break up. It just all felt very personal and I didn’t want any of it out in the internet. There are probably a lot of blogs that cover that topic.

So thats the catch up. I plan to blog about the renovation and where I am at in my life and how this is all going. Coincidentally I picked the death card in my tarot reading the other day (yeah, I did a tarot reading, keep your comments to yourself haha). This obviously scared the crap out of me, but then I read that it actually was not literal. That it meant all negative things that I no longer need will be leaving my life. That if I do whats needed, my health will be improved and back to fantastic. That it is a good time to renovate and start new projects. Perfect timing with the New Year just around the corner,  I am really excited to create something new. I am excited to have this fun project, to pick colors and tiles, and shower heads, and to plot out a floor plan. I am excited to create this new home and business (the rental unit), and to build a strong foundation for love, health, prosperity, and happiness in the new decade! I am standing up to the challenge of creating something amazing in my tiny home with my tiny budget.  download

xoxo

QJ

QJ

Pizzana? More like Pizza?Nah!

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This chocolate cake was truly a masterpiece.

I walked into Pizzana with cheerful anticipation. Italian is my favorite faire, and for some reason instinctually I was feeling that this meal was going to be amazing. The restaurant itself was small and narrow and unassuming. Upon entering I was slapped in the ears with the din of loud music bouncing off concrete floors mixed with the buzzing roar of patrons, but later as I walked back to my seat the area became acoustically kind, and I could once again hear myself think.

The hostess was kind and accommodating despite my being almost an hour early. Luckily there was room at the Chef’s bar with a full view of the kitchen which appeared clean, organized, and minimal. At first I was mortified because it seemed the pizza peel was directly on the floor! After careful scrutinization I discovered that it was not, thank goodness! I decided to do the bathroom check prior to ordering (in attempt to view the kitchen from a different angle and confirm the pizza peel wasn’t on the floor). The multi-gendered bathrooms were fairly clean, though every spec of dirt and splash of water was visible on the dark tiled floors. The bus station was in a strange spot, nestled in the corner en route to the rest room.

Once back at my seat I watched the pizzaiolos in the kitchen with some uncertainty. The oven itself was impressive with its grand stature and Star Wars looking facet, but every pizza leaving its threshold appeared burnt!

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The oven reminded me of a dark side R2D2 for some reason. Why wasn’t there an evil nemesis to R2D2? Was there and I am forgetting it??

The menu, which acted as a placemat, was small but ample and the price per plate was easy to swallow (horrible pun intended). The wine list prices were ridiculously high, however, with 3 oz of wine costing $12-$20, exponentially more than the entire bottle’s market price. I understand the concept of mark-up and making a profit, but the drink prices vs amount served seemed inappropriate and almost insulting. There is a certain clientele here, however, that would likely not bat an eye at the high cost of a cocktail.

My waiter, Matt, was attractive, welcoming, timely and knowledgeable. The water and wine were delivered within the 3 minute rule, and the utensils were immediately available and clean. Matt did deliver the salad before the antipasti, which, unfortunately, was an unfavorable choice. In his defense it was probably a kitchen decision, not his. I had decided to try the chopped salad because its a classic that can easily act as a hypothetical benchmark. The  pepperoni and sausage in the salad were reminiscent of divine European meats that are incomparably better than the American made counterparts  (with some exceptions from the smaller local butchers). I did miss the turkey that is found in some Italian chops, but the Clarion Chile vinaigrette more than made up for it, with its zesty delicious kick. Overall the salad was well balanced but I did feel the individual pieces of meat could have been chopped a bit more slender.

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Overall the chopped salad was really yummy.

As aforementioned, the antipasti was served next. I was steered towards the Carciofi Arrostiti because of my love for artichoke hearts. When the plate was delivered the hearts were unrecognizable. Instead it appeared I was staring at a plate full of hay. Perhaps this dish, with its light lemon spritz, would have been tasty if served prior to the spicy chop but after the spice I am afraid it tasted exactly as it looked- like hay. It was dry and flavorless. I tried adding more lemon and salt. It didn’t help. This dish, sadly, was an epic fail. I did find a few full sized artichoke hearts at the bottom that were not terrible, in comparison, to the hay stack above.

Moving on, the wine was fantastic. As per suggestion, I decided to pair my food with the 2015 Quercia Al Pggio Chianti and once again the Sangiovese did not disappoint. It didn’t save the hay stack, but it was a beautifully aromatic wine with a flavorful palette and warming tannins that spread across the palette nicely.

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Is this not a spitting image of a haystack?!

For the pizza, once again, I chose the pepperoni. Not to be boring, because they did offer some gourmet pizzas that seemed very promising and interesting, but I wanted something simple for comparison purposes. To add a little variety, though, I had them add the cremini mushrooms as per the menu’s recommendation. The pizza was ok. It wasn’t awful. It was better than the pizza we used to get at work that we donned “prison pizza”.  I feel like the pizza could have been good. I wanted it to be good. Sadly, it just wasn’t good. I silently shook my head as the pizza came towards me because, as expected, the outside was burnt. The pie was extremely thin which is normally great, except here the middle was raw and when I lifted a slice, it went limp like a 60 year old man without viagra. My erstwhile concern was confirmed, every pizza being served was burnt.

The woman to my left had suggested I try the chocolate cake for dessert. I wasn’t hungry anymore but I tasted one bite (it was decent) and took home the left over cake along with left over pizza. The next morning the cold breakfast pizza was flavorful and had a better texture than the night prior when it was hot and limp. The charred crust, however, was still inedible and tasted exactly how one would imagine burnt soggy wood. The chocolate cake was FANTASTIC the next day. Light, moist, and decadently chocolate.  I think I will rename this restaurant PizzaNO PastryYA.

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This looks amazing, but unfortunately the burnt crust really destroyed the flavor.

Overall the staff was friendly and accommodating, the other patrons were typical for the area, the space itself was clean (though not acoustically the best for good conversation). Regarding the food, though the meats were truly fantastic, one can find much better pizza at another restaurant not too far away, a delicious pizza that can easily be paired with a less expensive BOTTLE of chianti from anywhere. C-

 

xoxo

QJ

QJ

Cevichería

LAC

 

As I lock my car after parking on a quiet street near  Cevichería,  I am a bit worried I wouldn’t have any tires when I return. Oddly, I don’t feel too nervous walking the block to the restaurant because somehow the neighborhood feels snug and somewhat safeguarded. As I turn the corner onto Pico Boulevard, the  Cevicheria is revealed, sitting quietly with all of its bright blue splendor, in its place behind the sidewalk. It’s an unassuming ostensible hole in the wall. There is a small silver lawn table with two matching chairs out front,  and a tiny 7 table restaurant inside. Its impression is that of a movie set; a restaurant facade in an impoverished area, perhaps where two antagonists will meet to discuss love, life, and friendships. This appearance is extremely deceptive, except for the friendship part because the inside does house friends yet unknown. The staff and clientele are familiar and convivial as if I’ve been visiting here for years. I receive a menu and water immediately. Owner and Chef, Carolina Orellana is welcoming, accepting, and all around lovely, not to mention an AMAZING culinary artist. She is excited to give recommendations and impressively as excited to TAKE recommendations. A sign that Cevicheria’s menu will never be stale or stagnant.

In the Tostadas De Ceviche department I order the Pescado but am served the Camrón. This is an obvious error but somehow, in this laid back environment, feels acceptable. The mix up is actually a blessing in disguise. The dish comprised of perfectly small bits of shrimp, moistened with citrus and chiles, sits beautifully atop a crispy tortilla with an avocado topper. With a squeeze of extra lime, the Camarones dish tastes bright and fresh and is unexpectedly filling!

 

sC

The Mejillones, muscles in garlic butter sauce, are outstandingly decadent. Unlike other restaurants, each muscle is sweet, well cleaned (no sand, thank you!) and has the perfect texture blend of chewy and silky. A party in the mouth for any garlic lover.

 

Mussels

My favorite dish on the menu is one that Carolina recommends as a Guatemalan favorite, called Aguachiles. This dish of raw shrimp marinated in a light green sauce of line, cilantro, jalepeño and onion is out of this world. OMG That sauce! Its fresh and crisp with that perfect amount of citrus zing. Its dreamy, and if it were up to me I would use it on practically every dish I make! In fact, once the large chalice of Camarón Ceviche lands on the table,  we pour the remaining green sauce over the camerones to see how the flavor changes. The results: in the immortal words of Emeril Legasse, “BAM!” The other flavors become so alive and active, each bite is just WOW. The camarones ceviche also remained delicious over the next three days (I took home left overs, with the green sauce mixed in).

shrimp

Having gotten to know Carolina a little, I am not surprised that the kitchen appeared clean and well-organized. The service was great, despite any mishaps. The waitress offered to correct the error immediately, but I was excited and happy to go with the flow and taste whatever came to the table. Thats the thing about Cevichería, visiting there was like taking a little break from the pressures of mundanity and reminding me to just go with the flow and see what the universe brings; and at this place, most likely everything it brings will be delicious. I highly recommend taking what will feel like a little trip to another world and visiting Cevicherįa. You will not be disappointed. And I hear the Blood Clams are amazing, so I guess I’ll be going back!

On a side note, my tires were fully in tact when I returned to my car.

A+