Where has she been…? And who am I?

I’m in the business of seeing. At least I want to be.

Since senior year of college, I’ve been involved in the art world. As much as I’ve allowed myself to be. As much as the art world has allowed me to be. Creativity, expression, and art have always held an interesting place in my life. They have been my guiding lights, the tenets by which I live. Yet I have taken little action to assert myself in these ways. Without an artistic background or formal training, I have stood on the sidelines appreciating and wishing. It’s not that I am afraid of failure–it’s that sometimes it’s easier not to try. Sure, that’s not as gratifying. And there are always excuses to be made. But the point is I am now “doing me” as best as possible. As I’m rounding out my 25th year, I’m finding that not trying is getting harder than just doing the damn thing. This pent up energy must be put to good use. I still don’t have a clear picture of what this “thing” is, but I’m finally ready to start creating it. There is too much inspiration around me not to.

Consider this blog… why has it been 7 months since I have last written? It’s certainly not a lack of material. It might be hesitation to put myself out there, though people who know me would not believe that. Do I have better things to do? Have I been doing better things? Yes and no.

When I am getting to know somebody, I love to ask, “What you be doing if money, education, and time were not an issue?” Dream jobs can say a lot about person. Alternatively, I enjoy finding out what someone would do if they had one hour of free time. What would you most like to do in the world with 60 spare minutes? My default answer is writing. Specifically for this blog. But somehow, I’ve let seven months get away.

I do know one thing. I have been looking and seeing. And I’ve been inspired. I’ve been reading, watching, and listening. And I’ve been inspired. Feast your eyes on some of the beauty and creativity below.


Rest area at The Ebell of Long Beach, CA

Diaper babies I made for a baby shower

Diaper babies I made for a baby shower

Restroom sign at The Ebell of Long Beach

Restroom sign

My Halloween nail adornments

My Halloween nail adornments


Part of a Madmade Designs baby shower set-up at Booze Brothers in Vista, CA

Earlier this year, I made a decision to stay stagnant in my full-time position. It afforded me so much freedom, time for leisure, low stress. I convinced myself early on that I would have time to work on my other projects, which was true. Needless to say, I haven’t made much progress in those either. But I’ve reached a tipping point. I’m ready to do me. Really do me, even if that means doing extra work. Procrastination will no longer plague me. 2016 is not far off and there is plenty to accomplish. I’ve spoken some goals into existence, but here they are for good measure:

  • Find a meaningful full-time position
  • Lead a healthier lifestyle (physically and mentally)
  • Get my small business up and running (and profitable!)
  • Start (and hopefully finish) the digital photography certificate program I enrolled in
  • Buy a house
  • Travel to Europe



Inside Oside: Experiences at In-N-Out

I’ve lived in Southern California all my life, which means I’ve had the luxury of In-n-Out available all my life. Even though In-n-Out is a “normal” thing to me, it still never ceases to hit the spot. Any time. All the time. Most Californians I know are loyal to this establishment, even after trying the famed Shake Shack, Five Guys, or gourmet burger joints.

In-n-Out has wallpaper downloads on their website

In-n-Out has wallpaper downloads on their website

There is currently one In-n-Out in Oceanside and it happens to be 3 stoplights away from where I live. I have gotten food there at least once a week since I’ve moved here. I’ve seen a couple knockoffs in Downtown Oceanside, which are named Angelo’s Burgers, and this is extremely funny to me because I encountered these while my friend Angelo was in the car. Downtown Oceanside will be getting it’s very own In-n-Out soon, probably to the dismay of Angelo’s Burgers. Angelo’s serves a bunch of other stuff, but they might want to look into rebranding.

Photo courtesy of Darrell P. on Yelp

Photo courtesy of Darrell P. on Yelp

During a recent trip to my beloved, I opted to go inside instead of braving the drive-thru filled with 15+ cars. While in line, I learned that you can add pickles to your burger. WHAT. I never order the “Animal Style” burger (only Animal Style fries), so it never occurred to me to get pickle slices. This was mind-blowing. While tweeting this experience, I also learned that you can get chopped chilies and fried mustard on your burger as well. Thank Heavens for fellow In-n-Out lovers on my Twitter feed.

My high was quickly diminished by a conversation I overheard while waiting for my order.

If these beef patties were just a little bit bigger, I’d be all about this place.

Excuse me, sir… you mean, you’re not already all about this place?! Fine, I get it, nobody is perfect. But how dare this person not be all about In-n-Out! I gave him my meanest side-eye, hoping this would someone bestow my wrathful thoughts on him. If he wants bigger patties, he should go elsewhere. His negativity is not welcome is this haven of fresh ingredients, friendly service, and relatively cheap, delicious food. This place is what “a hamburger is all about.” I refused to stand by and let this man disgrace this institution… so I took my order, and proceeded to enjoy my burger (with pickles!) and Animal Style fries in the comfort of my home. Foodie high restored.


Inside Oside: A Series

Oceanside is a beautiful, interesting place. I moved here less than two months ago and it’s already been quite a ride. Ez got stationed in California, which is GREAT. My work allowed me to switch regions and continue my regular duties, also GREAT. After more than 2 years of marriage, I finally live with my husband and that has been (and continues to be) a learning experience in itself.

When I graduated from college, Ez lived in North Carolina. I didn’t feel like moving there was right for me so we continued our long-distance relationship until he was assigned a new duty station. The stars aligned and we headed for Oceanside. I’m grateful to be close to my family and friends. Also, I found comfort in staying in California. How much different could it possibly be a couple hours south? It’s warm and sunny, there’s an In-N-Out, and we’re only a few minutes from the beach–but damn, it does feel like a military town sometimes! There are no people of color in our neighborhood and things can be quite conservative or unconscious at times.

I haven’t been out and about as much as I’ve wanted, but I have already witnessed some notable things in my short time here. I hope you’ll find as much amusement, life lessons, and/or challenges in these experiences as I do. Without further ado, I bring you “Inside Oside,” featuring some tales from my time in Oceanside and the greater San Diego area.

I’ll start you off with something simple. A few days ago, I was driving up the 15 freeway when I passed the following sign:




Doing Holidays Differently | President’s Day Weekend 2015

This year, we treated this Hallmark holiday differently. Except when have we ever done it normally? I think this is only the second time Ez and I have ever been together for Valentine’s Day, which some may think calls for an extravagant celebration. But Ez just returned from two weeks in North Carolina and I spent all of Valentine’s Day at a conference with my mentorship program. So there’s that.

We opted for some takeout and spending time at home with my family. Nothing fancy, just some Lucille’s BBQ, a cake from Albertson’s, and the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. Zach LaVine FTW – #GoBruins.

Saturday, February 14


Candy on the outside, cake on the inside


A feast for the family


I look tired from a long day

Sunday, February 15

The weather was beautiful so we had to go for a hike. Thankfully, there are all kinds of websites with detailed descriptions about the hiking paths/trails in San Diego County. Modern Hiker pointed us to Cabrillo National Monument – Bayside Trail, which was an easy hike with gorgeous views. Parking was free (and a nightmare) due to the holiday weekend, but I’m sure that was the case almost anywhere. The fog started setting in because we came in the late afternoon, but the trip was still worth it.



Cabrillo National Monument 


Views from Point Loma

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Fog falling over Bayside Trail




Monday, February 16

Thankfully, Ez had a long weekend so we grabbed some lunch and explored our city a bit. Ez chose Breakwater Brewing Company because it was a short walk from where we parked. Good thing it boasted 4 stars on Yelp! After a bomb lunch (and some Rasbiscus Mead), we took a stroll on the pier to digest.


Lunch at Breakwater Brewing Company


Restaurant decor


Oceanside Pier


Charlie the Pelican




“Are you sure this is Winter?”


I had an awesome time not getting dressed up for a fancy dinner in a crowded restaurant. Quality time with my family and partner-in-crime made for such a great Valentine’s Day/President’s Day Weekend. (But I still don’t know how to feel about two “holidays” in one weekend.) Local adventures can be just as fulfilling as traveling to far-off destinations. And I’m sure we’ll be frequenting Downtown Oceanside. The weather averages 70 degrees year-round so there is no excuse. Until next time!


LA All Day: Food, Family, Fun

It’s been a while, folks! Is it still appropriate to say “Happy New Year” in February? Well, Happy New Year! So much has happened since December and I fully intend to reflect and recap it… but so much is happening now! Yes, I have moved into a house in Oceanside. But I have too much love for LA to stay away for long. I’ve been back every weekend since I’ve moved. Old habits are hard to break.

But these visits haven’t been without good reason! One of my good friends, Rob, is moving to another country! Rob is a wanderer deep in his soul so I can’t be too upset with him for leaving–plus, that means we’ve had an ongoing excuse to celebrate and go on adventures. Naturally, we navigated the vast offerings of Los Angeles, which I could explore every day for the rest of my life and still not fully experience. In college, I was raised on the the principles of “Food, Family, and Fun.” I’ve stuck with some awesome folks raised on this same mentality, so I know they are always with me when I get hyped for an outing like this.

IMG_8451Like my cheesy self does, I googled “Things to do in Los Angeles on a weekend.” I happened across this list, which I thought was silly at first, but we ended up doing 3 of the activities listed! Oh, they do know what they’re talking about. We started our day at Maze Room, which is a real-life version of those escape room video games. This one was castle-themed and we had an hour to escape. When we were first locked in, I had NO idea what to look for. The room looked barren with a couple props and a triple-locked door. Then we just delighted in what small children can’t help but do… TOUCH EVERYTHING. At first I was afraid that it would be scary, like those theme park Halloween mazes, but thank goodness it wasn’t like that. Our team of 6 escaped in 32 minutes–what a thrill! It’s no wonder these are growing in popularity. This particular venue just opened an FBI-themed room. Too down to go back.


Cheesin’ after our escape


Our efforts made us hungry so decided on some bomb Indonesian food at Simpang Asia in Culver City. As far as I know, this food is pretty authentic and many meals come wrapped in banana leaves. It’s so rich in flavor and reminds me of a mix of my favorite Southeast Asian cuisines. Suggestions for legit Indonesian food are welcome! We headed for Artists & Fleas, which originated in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and now has a market every 3rd Saturday of the month in LA. If it’s from New York, it’s obviously cool. I’m all about supporting the local artists and designers and just finding sweet stuff in general. This market definitely had some great finds from jewelry, to home goods, apparel, vintage pieces, and everything in between.


Kimi and I snagged some bracelets and I also picked up some succulents to decorate the house. The guys bought some health smoothies/juices to pass the time. They were good sports about it. I dragged them along on the promise there would be a beer garden, but there was no alcohol to be found. Seems I don’t read too well :/

IMG_8454Thirsty from the lack of libations, we stopped into the first bar we could find. Okay, the second bar, because the first bar only had beer and was way too cool. The better part of our evening/night was spent at Pour Haus, which was a wine bar that offered an awesome selection of wines, beers… and board games! Check two off the list.

Pour Haus had happy hour. On the weekend. WHAT? (Good) weekend happy hours are hard to come by, let alone at a place that has seats available. I was in love. We ordered up drinks and food and more drinks and more food, not knowing this was only the start to a fun-filled night.



Complimentary sip of lambrusco to start


Immediately ordered a bottle (and another) because we loved it


Greek Nachos – we ordered 3 of these


Huge selection of board games plus some wine bottles for sale


Kimi contemplating for Cards Against Humanity


Real-life version of Heads Up!


Men’s room accents


We tried to fit into the Arts District – are we cool yet?


Passed this cute outdoor cafe


For a third check off that list, we hit up EightyTwo, which is a bars that boasts a bunch of classic arcade games. They have an entire room dedicated to pinball machines. Yes, it’s awesome. You’ll see the greatest mix of people here from girls dressed up and only there for the drinks, to gamers not dressed up and only there for the games. And then there’s me and my friends, slightly liquored up and trying to keep the night going. We met up with even more people there and got some games in before the Saturday night crowd piled in. As it usually goes, I got hungry and we headed to our last stop of the night.

Belly and Snout has been on my bucket list since it opened. It’s a new Filipino Fusion spot in K-town, with limited, but BOMB offerings on the menu. You order at the front counter and grab a seat in the back–quite the interesting layout. They ran out of longanisa, which means it must be good and I must go back. Everything we ordered was delicious and it was a great end to the night.


Grilled cheese, hot dogs, and fries/tots


Sisig fries


Chicken adobo grilled cheese

I told Rob we’d take him to do some real LA shit and I must say that we were pretty successful. From West LA to the Arts District then to K-Town, it was the kind of day you see in movie montages with friends laughing endlessly and bright sunshine-y background music. It’s days like these I know I’m surrounded by the right people who are always down for food, family, and fun. I hope Rob found it to be a proper send-off and that everyone else enjoyed the day as much as I did. Here is to good vibes, good wishes, and a good 2015, y’all. Rob, we’re going to miss you!

BONUS MATERIAL//Peep below for behind-the-scenes photos of the lifestyle photographer hard at work.



//Thank you Rob, Kimi, and Kevin for sharing your photos with me <3


Roll Out

//coming to you from a layover in ATL


I just flew out of EWN (New Bern, North Carolina) for possibly the last time ever. There is nothing for me there… no job worth my while, not much to do, rarely anyone who shares my ideologies or values my experiences. Save for the fact that my husband has lived there for almost three and a half years. I’ve flown there countless times to spend a handful of days with him, often bored out of my mind while he was at work.

But we did the damn thing! Been together almost six years and married for over two, we have never even lived in the same city. Call us “crazy,” but we are in love. We’ve long awaited the time for us to actually live with each other and build a life together under the same roof. Well… it’s finally here! Ez has been assigned to Camp Pendleton and will be making his way back to sunny SoCal come next weekend. For the third time, we will be driving cross-country together.

This is not to say everything will be fine and dandy once he gets here. We’ve got to find somewhere to live, fulfill holiday obligations, figure out finances, and so much more. Who knows, I might want to strangle him once we actually live together. Despite the uncertainties, I know that these are exciting times. I could not be more excited to grow together and challenge each other in this next chapter.

Onto the next one!

Find the tutorial I used for these Scrabble Coasters here: http://simplydarrling.com/2014/03/diy-scrabble-tile-coasters/

DIY Bloggers Confound Me

Although this site has been up for a while, I’m just now finding the the blogging world is massive, with its culture and community still strange to me. I am discovering exactly the kind of camaraderie that can be found online, in our ever-connected world. It’s easy to get lost in the endless content that is produced. On the other hand,  it’s fascinating to experience the lives of others as they documents their struggles, passions, and everything in between.

Compared to my friends, I have a lot of free time. Now that I’m not planning my wedding, I’m exploring some of my other interests, such as crafting. There are so many DIY blogs out there! Currently, my Instagram feed is filled with Christmas decor inspiration from living rooms to ornaments, and even creative gift-wrapping and Christmas card envelopes. Really? At first sight, I get super excited. I do a quick check to see if any of these projects are feasible and affordable for me to complete. Then I start thinking about how all these bloggers have the time and money to do this full-time, essentially. Most of the accounts I’ve come across are women who are self-proclaimed crafting moms, sharing their creative life with others. They have tens of thousands of followers and certainly benefit from each other by sharing each others’ work or participating in group posts with a central theme. Just today, I saw a Target gift card giveaway that required you to follow 13 DIY Instagrams to enter. Easy enough for me! Part of why I’m following so many bloggers.

I’m realizing that the DIY/crafting world is quite a privileged one. I use to think making projects yourself was a way to save money–buy cheap materials, take pride in your work. Maybe even make cash off your creativity and patience. But seeing all these bloggers… I wonder how it was before they had thousands of follows. Did they just have a bunch of time to work on endless crafts, decor, and styling? And while raising children! I’m not hating, by any means. I’m sure they have their own struggles and stories. But one thing I did notice was that none of the bloggers I’ve followed are people of color and I rarely see crafters who are men.

I recently came across a call for submissions for an upcoming virtual exhibition by the Center for Art and Thought, entitled “Racecraft.” From the call for submission:

Slow. Sustainable. DIY. Green. Local. Anti-mainstream. These are some of the keywords associated with the contemporary craft movement. Enabled by technology and new media, craft culture has been described as a combination of traditional artisanal craftsmanship, punk culture, and a DIY sensibility. It often positions itself as a response to the problems of globalization, hyper-consumerism, and environmental degradation. Crafting is now, in the words of the maker-activist Betsy Greer, “craftivism,” a politically active site of social change.

But has “green” become the new white?

Despite its activist and inclusive ethos, the contemporary craft movement has been dominated by a neoliberal model of middle-class whiteness. Localism and lifestyle choices have become valorized as the primary modes of social change. People of color are often invisible in the craft movement, except as victims of globalization and exploitative labor practices who need to be saved by first world crafters.

It’s awesome that they are bringing this perspective to light. Hopefully there will be a variety of works submitted.  I’m glad I’m more conscious about this and want to find steps to raise awareness or support people of color in this movement.

I love crafting and making things myself. It’s a great hobby and I feel proud making something with my own hands. I now recognize the privilege in this, although I never further considered the social implications. Silly me, wasting my degree!

Find the tutorial I used for these Scrabble Coasters here: http://simplydarrling.com/2014/03/diy-scrabble-tile-coasters/

Scrabble coasters for a housewarming gift. Click here for the tutorial I used: http://simplydarrling.com/2014/03/diy-scrabble-tile-coasters/