Summer in Santa Barbara

I wish we could spend the whole summer in Santa Barbara, but I really can’t complain about having a week there. While Kauai is our top vacation spot, it’s a little out of our reach right now. Three plane tickets are expensive, and Mr. Sandwich and I agree that Baguette is not yet ready for the flight experience.

Fortunately, Santa Barbara is only about an hour and 15 minutes away by car (if traffic isn’t bad, which it often is). So for the last four summers, we’ve gone to Santa Barbara for our vacation. We prefer to rent a condo or other place to stay, and have had mixed success with that based on budget and timing (year 1–Motel 6; year 2–studio which I mistakenly thought had a kitchen; year 3–Homewood Suites in Oxnard, which was further away but a terrific place to stay; year 4–cottage behind the owner’s house, and dingdingding I think we have a winner).

As on prior visits, we went to the Santa Barbara Zoo (three times), destroyed sandcastles and splashed at Leadbetter Beach (twice), visited the ducks and the elaborate playscape at Alice Keck Park and the adjacent Alameda Plaza, and drove out to Ballard to see Sicilian donkeys at Seein’ Spots Farm.

Elephants

DCIM113SPORT

Ducks

Playground1

Playground2

Donkey

Because we had a kitchen, we ate breakfast in the cottage most days. While I like to go out to breakfast, I don’t like to have to go out to breakfast. We did get pancakes once at Garret’s Old Fashion, which is becoming a must-do on our Santa Barbara trips, but most mornings I was really happy with my toast and sunflower seed butter accompanied by yogurt and berries.

We did tend to eat lunch and dinner out, although even then we brought home leftovers that covered a few more meals. The standout new-to-us place was Eureka! In addition to excellent burgers, they had an array of beers and whiskeys.

By the way, in the past we’ve looked for bookstores in Santa Barbara. Apparently my previous Google searches failed miserably, because it turns out that there’s been an amazing one in our go-to neighborhood the whole time. It’s an independent store, and it’s got a children’s section that is large enough to be a separate children’s bookstore. So if you’re ever in Santa Barbara, stop by Chaucer’s Bookstore. You won’t be sorry.

Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara

And of course, we also paid a visit to McConnell’s.

McConnels

In the end, Baguette didn’t want to leave Santa Barbara–and, truth be told, neither did we.

Welcome to Summer!

Never mind that in California, we barely got a winter. What’s on my to-do list for this summer?

Sand Pail List

Go to the beach
A must-do. We all like the beach, and I think Baguette would like to live there. Well, really, so would her parents.

Go to the pool
On it. Mr. Sandwich is taking Baguette during the week, and we made our first family visit today. Baguette wanted me to jump off the diving board–something I haven’t done in at least 35 years–and then couldn’t watch when I did. But we’re hoping that Baguette will regain last year’s love of swimming, which faded over the winter in spite of our best efforts to find a pool for her. So this will definitely be a part of our summer.

Learn to make a really good hamburger
Right now, I can make a really good hockey puck.

It’s a short list, but I think it’s a good one. What’s on yours?

My Adventures in Jury Duty

Last month I got called for jury duty. It was not the first time. In fact, it was–by my count–the ninth time I have been called for jury duty.

I have never been selected for a jury.

The first time, I had moved out of the county. The second, I showed up, and all the cases that day were continued or dismissed–and eventually, so were we (dismissed, that is). The third time, they formed a jury before they got to me. The fourth time, the last juror picked was the guy sitting next to me.

At this point, it started to feel intentional.

The fifth time, the judge made the parties settle because, as he told us afterward, “I told them, ‘I am not going to impanel a jury over a $100 dispute about a dress.’”

The sixth time, the judge excused me because my mother was dying, and I had to travel out of state to be with her.

The seventh time, the judge excused me because I had plane tickets for travel that fell within the time span of the trial.

The eighth time, the parties settled while we sat out in the hallway.

This time, I showed up at the courthouse (the one that is closest to me, which anyone in Los Angeles will agree is a minor miracle in and of itself). I waited most of the day, went to lunch, came back, and was assigned to a case–this meant that I had to come back two days later.

After an excruciating day of voir dire, featuring a plaintiff’s attorney who really liked to hear himself talk, and a judge who had absolutely no sense of the passage of time, we were told to come back the following day. (Hey, at least I got to eat at Puro Sabor, which I’ve been wanting to do for years.)

So we did. And there was yet another excruciating day of voir dire. Eventually, they selected a jury, and I got to go home.

The frustrating thing is that I sat there for nothing. Because if I had been called to the box, they would have learned immediately that I could not serve due to a conflict of interest. That’s what happens when one of the parties to the lawsuit is your employer.

screen grab

I don’t think the court and I have the same definition of “fortunate.”

I do want to go back to Puro Sabor, though. More lomo saltado, please!

Playing Favorites

Here are a few of Baguette’s favorite things (right now):

Snack: Pirate’s Booty–crunchy and (I guess) cheesy, so yea!

Meal: Macaroni and Cheese–This girl loves her cheese and carbs.*

Dessert: Chocolate ice cream, in great big spoonfuls.

Animal: Elephants (but lions seem to be more fun to talk about).

Celestial Body: The MOON!

Article of Clothing: Pants, but only in leggings form.

Book: Is It Bedtime, Wibbly Pig?–Not if Wibbly Pig can help it.

Stuffed Animal: Wibbly Pig (Kangaroo is a close second).

TV show: Either Kipper or Wibbly Pig.

Website: Google, because she knows how to spell it–and if Google could hear how cute their name sounds when she spells it, they’d create an ad campaign based on that.

little girl with toys

She does have some flexibility within the broader categories of iPad, books, and plushes.

*I just came across a new product: Pirate’s Booty Macaroni and Cheese. Where can I buy it?

PSA: Mercury Can Kill You

Not the planet. Well, I’m sure it could, because it’s super hot and also if it fell on you, ouch! But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Mr. Sandwich and I try to be environmentally friendly. Yes, we love our air conditioning, but we also do things to cut down on how much energy we use.

  • We line-dry a lot of our laundry.
  • We have solar screens (that Mr. Sandwich made!) on the windows.
  • Mr. Sandwich has added insulation under the roof.
  • We replace our worn-out appliances with the most energy efficient ones we can afford.
  • We have a gray-water system (that Mr. Sandwich built!).

We’d love to have solar panels on the roof, but that’s a much bigger project.

And indoors, we’ve been using these:

compact fluorescent lightbulb

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs can save a lot of energy. They cost more up front than the old incandescent bulbs, but they last much, much longer.

Also, they contain mercury. This isn’t a problem unless one breaks.

The other night, I went into our bedroom and turned on the light–and a bulb popped. Over our bed, an assortment of Baguette’s stuffed animals, and some clothes.

So we pulled out the sofabed and slept in the living room. The next morning, Mr. Sandwich cleaned up the debris, following the directions from the EPA.

Please make a note of those instructions, because they are important. And a little research revealed that leaving a burned-out CFL in the socket can cause it to explode. So learn from us, and don’t do that.

For now, we’re switching (as the CFLs burn out, and we remove them from the socket immediately, because who needs more exploding bulbs?) to LEDs. They come with their own toxic elements, such as lead and arsenic, and they also need to be cleaned up with extreme care–but they use even less energy than CFLs.

So it’s literally a case of choosing your poison.

CFL Sign

Quite the Treat for Father’s Day

Disclosure: I received free credits from Treat.com in exchange for writing about my experience.
All views expressed are my own.

If you’re like me, you always remember to buy greeting cards for special occasions–just as you’re driving away from the store. Fortunately, there’s an alternative that you can count on no matter where you are.

Treat.com is an online greeting card company that allows you to create customized cards for any occasion, either on their website or through their app. Father’s Day? Check. Graduation? Check. Get well? Check. Blank cards? Again with the check.

Additionally, Treat is a subsidiary of photo storage and sharing site Shutterfly.com. That means that if (like me) you already use Shutterfly, you can use photos from that account in your Treat cards–but you can also use photos from social sites like Facebook and Picasa, as well as uploading them from your computer, tablet, or phone.

As it turns out, I used Treat’s website to order Mr. Sandwich’s 2011 Father’s Day card–although I’d forgotten where I’d created it, I still remember and love that card. So this year, I decided to use the app on my iPad.

My experience? Very good. It was easy to add the photo I wanted, and much of the suggested text on the interior was also customizable–which meant that I could include the message of my choice. It was harder to choose a design, because there really are a lot of options. The Treat app has a features wheel that actually makes it fun to sort by different parameters, so you can choose to look only at, say, birthday cards that have a photo on the front and include a heartfelt message.

I decided to go with another Father’s Day card, importing a photo and selecting a design. Here’s what I came up with:

Treat.com greeting card for Father's Day

And on the inside?

Treat.com greeting card for Father's Day - interior

You can also include a gift card, if you’re so inclined. And to save you from forgetting to go to the post office, Treat.com will also mail your card directly to the recipient!

I realized that, true to form, I had forgotten to buy a card for the snarkiest of my many younger cousins graduating this spring. Treat.com solved that problem, too:

Treat.com greeting card for graduation

(There’s a photo in the interior of that one, but I don’t have permission to share it. So you’ll have to make do with the outside.)

Treat also offers a pre-order bulk discount and same-day digital cards, as well as photo gift options such as smartphone cases, mugs, and canvas prints.

My only caveat is that the app is technically an iPhone app, so I needed to hold my iPad in portrait orientation–which was awkward, because it’s in a keyboard case that doesn’t allow for that. This meant that I had to keep turning the iPad to make sure that what I was typing showed up the way I meant it to. But the app was easy to use overall, so I’ll be relying on Treat.com in the future.

I was not compensated for this post, however I did receive a sample for my review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

#YesAllWomen

Trigger warning–the discussion linked to below is replete with people’s experiences that may bring up your own. Please be prepared; my goal is not to cause you more harm, but to educate those who need to think about it more.

With that in mind, please read the #YesAllWomen discussion on Twitter.

I’m among the fortunate, because I haven’t experienced many of the traumas discussed there.

And now we all need to take a minute and look at that sentence again, because here’s what that really means:

I’m lucky, because I haven’t been raped.

That shouldn’t be lucky. It just shouldn’t happen. People just shouldn’t rape. Mass murderers shouldn’t be excused because they felt so entitled to women–and so deprived of them by their own problems–that they decide to kill women.

Read the thread. Be horrified. Question how you’ve perceived some of the things people talk about, including mine:

YesAllWomen

Mr. Sandwich says no one has ever asked him to smile, unless he was having his picture taken. People don’t accost men on the street and tell them to smile. Why do they do that to women? We have the same thoughts, the same range of emotions, the same variety of daily experiences–we’re not necessarily smiling at the moment we pass by you, and that’s okay.

The “smile!” command is just the tip of the iceberg. But it is the tip of the iceberg. And that’s why–ever since I was in my 20s–I would respond to the command with a big, beaming smile.

And also I would flip that person off.

#YesAllWomen deals with this. Please pay attention to their stories.

45 Good Things: What I Learned

My plan was to do 45 good things by my 45th birthday. The things could be big or small. They could affect people directly or indirectly. They could be public or very personal. The idea wasn’t to change the world, but maybe to change someone’s day.

Picking up three pieces of trash in a row didn’t count, but picking up three pieces of trash at different times of the day did. Giving money and food to people counted on a per-person basis, whether they were sitting together or in entirely different parts of town.

So, 45 Good Things later, what did I learn?

  • I should have started earlier.
  • Sometimes holding the elevator door really means a lot to the other person.
  • No, really, I should have started earlier.
  • I made a lot of donations.
  • I didn’t pick up nearly as much trash as I thought I would.
  • It took a lot longer than I expected.
  • I could have done the whole thing just picking up dog poop.

Complete list here.