July 22, 2009

Gold Frame Giveaway

Sorry, but I keep the picture of the Laie Temple, but you get the Fabulous Gold Frame! Leave a comment and I'll pick a winner on Friday. I'm not sending this, btw.

July 21, 2009


I guess it's getting real. I put in a change of address form with the post office (I'm going to miss our postman. he's so nice). Canceled all the magazines that J got for us for the year. Put a bookcase up on craigslist, and my wetsuit, too. I need to put up a whole lot of other stuff, too.

So...instead of crying, we're having dinner with friends, beach dates, pool dates, and all around good times. And in our spare time, we may pack a little.

Giving Seed Beads

Someone else was throwing these away. The kids had their fun with them, now you can, too. There are 4 trays.
Leave a comment and I'll pick a winner on Friday.

July 20, 2009

From My House to Yours

Following Brooke's lead, I'm going to post some giveaways for the next 3 weeks. I'm finally ready to face reality. We're moving and we have tons of stuff (and isn't it so much nicer when it goes to someone who really wants it?). So here's the first one. Seeds. Eggplant, lettuce, carrots, and a few watermelon seeds. Post a comment if you are desirous. And these are pick up only (sorry my friends in far off places).

July 7, 2009

Navigating Grad School in Irvine

So, this is the end. We're moving out in a few weeks. But I'd like to leave some bits of knowledge I've gained along the way. A lot of it learned the hard way. Living in Irvine as a dependent of a grad student is frightening. The first time you figure out the stipend minus rent minus insurance minus food and realize your left with a dollar each is pretty sad. And then when you realize you don't get your first paycheck until October with the new school year. Yikes!

On the bright side. Tons of us have done it. Survived. You can, too!

So. This will be my how to tutorial. How to live in Orange County on a TAship + summer work. Let me know if you have any topic proposals.

July 5, 2009

Grad School: Food Shopping

Here's the lowdown. I buy most of my groceries at Trader Joe's. Probably because I only have two kids and we don't eat a lot of meat. At TJ's I get bread, milk, yogurt, snacks, and eggs. I get my produce from Grower's Direct. I've been to Albertson's less than 10 times this year.

How can you deny Trader Joe's? I spend way too much money there. The kids love the anteater and the balloons. And happy kids=happy mom. And TJ's has an interesting markup policy. If I remember correctly, it's a straight 20% across the board. In other stores the markup varies widely. They may take a cut on milk but your pretzels will cost you $4, where they're 1.69 at TJ's.

I know some folks like Sprouts for produce, but I'm a fan of Grower's Direct. It's on 17th street in Costa Mesa. I think the produce is better and they play classical music. And they don't seem to mind if you have a wet swimsuit and sand on your toes. BTW, the produce is cheap.

I've tried the Grocery Game before. It was ok, but the coupons are for processed and prepackaged food. You can get great deals on cereal, shampoo, and razors. It's good to remember that Ralph's doubles coupons, so you can get great deals there.

I had a friend who shopped at Food 4 Less in Santa Ana. She'd go once a month and stock up because prices were so much better.

For bulk purchases, you should check out Smart and Final. There is a store on 19th in Costa Mesa and one on Culver right before the 5. It's a great place for cheese in bulk, giant bags of pinto beans, and your usual restaurant supply delights. There is no fee to join and they take foodstamps, unlike our beloved Costco (where I always spend at least $200.)

Every year we buy a bag of wheat, a bag of oats, and a bag of flour (you can also get a 50 lb bag at Smart and Final for a competitive price) from the church cannery. We don't can them, just put them in food grade buckets (try Costco bakery, they'll give them to you for free). I'm not sure how much they cost, but I know it's super cheap. The oats, especially are worth the trip. Fountain Valley is the closest cannery here. (get some dried apples while you're at it. so yummy)

July 3, 2009

House Lust

I'm in Love. Check out this house in Hollywood Hills by David Thompson of Assembledge.

Beaches we love and how we love the beach

I was thinking as I wrote our last beach post, that after 5 years of beaching with kids and some 6 years previous in Hawaii, I have learned a few tricks to make the beach easy, fun, and low key. Most of the things we need are in the car already.

In the car keep:
snacks like crackers and granola bars
water- we keep two juice bottles full of water in the back. It's good for rinsing off feet or drinking.
sand toys
in the summer we keep swimming suits in the back, with the beach nearby, it's good to be prepared.
quarters for parking
coupons for Baja Fresh

To the beach take:
more snacks/food and water

I use a big Ikea bag to keep it all together. It's light weight, waterproof, and holds a ton.

When and Where to go:

We go in the morning or late afternoon. This is a habit we picked up in Hawaii. 10-2 is the time when the beach is the most crowded and you're going to get the nastiest sunburn.
-Parking is free at Newport Pier after 6, so if you get there at 5 you only have to pay for one hour of parking.
-The surf is better at north of the pier. J likes it around 46th and up. If you get there around 4, residents haven't gotten home from work, so there's plenty of parking. On Saturdays, it's harder to get parking in the morning because people haven't left home yet (but it's doable).
-Crystal Cove is great during the winter. There usually isn't anyone taking money during the weekdays. They usually leave around 5 or 6 during the summer, but you don't have to leave the park until sunset. There are bathrooms by the parking lots. Quite a hike to get to the water, but worth it.
-We love Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach. Turn right on Cliff Drive and parking is free. Bathrooms and showers. Also check out Heisler Park just a little further south. Pay parking, bathrooms and showers.
-Little Corona is beautiful, free parking, bathrooms and showers (are they done renovating them yet?) but a steep hike w/ the kiddies. But, you can take a stroller down practically to the water. Try a little beach hike walking south. FUN!

We don't go out to eat very often. But we make an exception when we go to the beach. The kids just can't handle missing dinner, so last night we stopped by McD's and got the kids cheeseburgers and fries off of the dollar menu. $3.23 for fed, content kids, definitely worth it. There's a McD's on PCH in NB. Sometimes we stop by Baja Fresh for burritos. Yum. It's on PCH in CDM across from Albertson's.

We don't usually stay at the beach for more than 2 hours. No need to overload. It'll still be there tomorrow!

What are your favorite beaches? What do you have to bring?

My Dirty(dish) Little Secret

When I can't stand the thought of washing dishes, but dread thinking of overnight risotto encrusted bowls, I set the timer for 10 minutes and wash as many dishes as possible. Tonight, that was all of them. I took an extra minute to wipe down the counters and table. I want a prize.
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