Before & After: Our Kitchen Renovation

Our kitchen + dining room renovation has been complete for over a month now, and as much as I've been dying to share the before & after pictures with anyone and everyone (they are SO good), I think I've been putting it off until I take "official pictures". Welp, that's just not going to happen. So I am just going to share the pictures I do have, most of which were taken with my iPhone (or are pictures from the original listing on our house). 

A little background info: We sold our first home in March, just after 2 years of living there, because the housing market in Los Angeles went even crazier than we ever imagined and it seemed like we might be able to make a decent amount of money. Our plan was to sell for a profit and buy a fixer that we could work to make our own. We did just that! We bought a 3 bedroom + 2 bathroom house in the San Fernando Valley that NEEDED EVERYTHING. In just a few short months of living here (we moved in April) we have replaced or repaired: The roof, the HVAC, the sewer line, all the flooring & paint, and now a complete renovation of the kitchen and dining room. We still need to fix/renovate: our front yard, back yard, pool, windows, and 2 bathrooms. So it's definitely a work in progress but we are absolutely in love with the kitchen and dining room changes. 

Disclaimer: Absolutely nothing about this renovation was sponsored. We paid real money for every single thing and we didn't work with any specific brands. None of the links in this post are affiliate links. All opinions are my own, obviously. And I will say right off the bat the most necessary kitchen item is a good quality bluetooth speaker. We used the Beats Pill every single day because KITCHENS ARE FOR DANCING. 

Here are some before/after pictures:  

Pretty different, huh? A few major things: We removed the wall that was between the dining room and the kitchen, relocated the refrigerator to a different wall, added a huge island, and of course, the major fireplace renovation. 

We removed all of the disgusting green carpet and replaced it with a high-quality laminate. We had hardwood in our old house and although it was beautiful, it was difficult to maintain with our two dogs. We've had the laminate for several months now and could not be happier with our decision. What I don't love about laminate is that it can look "stripey" so we picked a color with less variation between boards and we love how it looks. (Brand: Oasis, Color: Straws). So far it's held up perfectly and still looks brand new. 

We also removed the horrendous & very outdated rock fireplace. We had the rocks ripped out and new drywall put in, and then we replaced with some gorgeous cement tiles.  This was a splurge because cement tile + installing cement tile is expensive. However, going floor to ceiling with this tile really made a statement and it's now our FAVORITE design feature of the entire space. (Tile brand: Granada Tile, Pattern: Badajoz). We also called in a tile expert to install these (instead of using our contractor) and we are SO GLAD we did because they were challenging even for an expert. 

I'm still working on organizing and styling the open shelves, but we absolutely love them. It's so easy to just grab what you need from them and they are visually interesting as well. We ordered ours from Shelfology because you can order them to the exact width and length that you need. We ordered ours 30 inches long and 12 inches wide. (Color: Nearly Naked Smooth Alder). Our kitchen was done a few weeks before we received the open shelves and once we installed them we both agreed they absolutely MAKE the whole kitchen. 

Shout out to new kitchen appliances! The ones that came with the house were legitimately so gross. We scored big during some Memorial Day sales and ordered most of our appliances: Range, hood, Microwave and Dishwasher. My parents gave us their old refrigerator that they had only had for two years and got a new one, so that saved us a ton of money and we love the fridge! We lucked out and we seriously love every single appliance. The range/oven cooks SO well, the hood is amazing, the dishwasher cleans SO well and it's incredibly quiet, and we are obsessed with the drawer microwave. 

The other "splurge" item we decided on was the Delta touch faucet. We ordered it in champagne bronze. I was worried we overspent on something that wasn't that important but I am happy to report WE LOVE the touch feature and use it all day every day. It is just so darn easy and functional and amazing. The only downside is that now when I go to my Mom's house I  standing in front of her kitchen tapping the faucet waiting for it to come on for way too long before I realize my mistake. Plus the champagne bronze is so pretty and it goes really well with our LD Brushed Brass cabinet hardware from SemiHandmade. 


We also had our Electrician add a power outlet to the inside of our pantry. Our contractor installed pull out shelves in the pantry, so now we have the perfect hiding place for our coffee maker. It's easily accessible but doesn't take up any counter space. This is easily one of my favorite features - we love how it turned out!

The counter tops are quartz, but I don't have a brand name or color. Our contractor brought us several samples and we picked the one that looked the most similar to marble. So far we love them. I also spent an inordinate amount of time looking at tile for the backsplash but ultimately ended up with this tile from Floor & Decor because it was simple but different enough from the plain subway tile you see all the time AND it was $4.99 sq/foot so you can't beat that. I originally found it at Lowe's for $12.99 sq/foot so once I found almost the exact same tile for way cheaper, it was an easy decision. It's also the number one thing people comment on when they see our kitchen - everyone loves the backsplash. And so do we!

Our new dining room table is from Structube and it also gets lots of compliments. Our dining room chairs are from World Market and the stools at the end of our island are from Wayfair. The awesome floor-to-ceiling bookshelf is from CB2 and it fits perfect on an awkward, angled wall that is between our dining room and kitchen. 

The whole renovation took about 6 weeks, which feels like forever when you are living without a kitchen; but when you consider how much was done, I feel like it was actually a pretty reasonable amount of time. The aesthetic + functionality of the space was improved 150% and now we love living and entertaining in our little slice of LA heaven. 

We still have plans to add another chair or another small seating area by the fireplace & we need to find a fireplace screen that fits there as well. I plan to also keep adding/changing the items on the open shelving until they feel completely right (maybe some plants + artwork?). But overall we are just taking some deep breaths and enjoying the new space, before we think too much about everything else we still need to do to this house BEACUSE OMG WE HAVE SO MUCH LEFT TO DO. 


Oh and the pendant lights are from Wayfair but I can't find them anymore. Mmmmkay byeee! xoxo

Our Wedding


After 11 months of engaged bliss, Andrew and I got married! After going back and forth may times about if we should elope or not, we decided on a small mostly-family backyard wedding. My parents live on 2 and 1/2 acres and have a beautiful backyard, so we knew that would be the perfect spot. We wanted to keep things simple but beautiful, so we really tried to let that lead our decision making.

In the end, we had around 100 people who traveled from Hawaii, New Mexico and even Australia to celebrate with us. We served organic wood-fired pizza from Stella’s Pizza Pie for dinner, and had the best cherry pie and apple pie for dessert. We did not have bridesmaids or groomsmen, just some cute flower girls and a ring bearer for good measure! M dress was $500 and it was hand-made to fit me – and I didn’t even order it until 2 months before the wedding!

Here are some of my favorite snapshots of our night, thanks to our AMAZING photographer Emily of Palinka Shots. She is  seriously the funniest, sweetest and most talented photographer I know. She made everyone feel so comfortable – they loved her – and she caught the magic of our night so perfectly.



The tables we rented are from Circa Vintage Rentals and they were perfect and simple – no table cloth needed! I had our florist make simple eucalyptus garlands to go down the center of the tables. My parents actually have a HUGE eucalyptus tree in their front yard, so a few days before the wedding my Dad cut a few buckets of branches and took them to our florist. I was pretty much the only one who knew, but it made the night just a little extra special. We also used battery-operated candles so they would stay lit in case it was at all breezy – but it wasn’t. It was the most perfectly clear, calm and warm night.


We got married under this chandelier that hangs in my parents backyard under an arbor covered in Wisteria. The wisteria was not blooming in October, but was still beautiful.


We added flowers to the eucalyptus garlands on the sweetheart table, which was more cost-effective tan doing that for all the tables and it also made our table a little extra special.


We decided not to do a first-look and I was nervous about that, but ended up being really happy with that decision. The anticipation of seeing each other at the ceremony was so special, and when we finally did see each other as I was walking down the aisle we were both so overcome with emotion. It was so special seeing my soon-to-be-husband crying with happiness and it’s a moment I will never forget.

Our ceremony was written and performed by the pastor of our church, where Andrew and I have been attending since a few months into our relationship. I’m going to keep a lot of the ceremony pictures to ourselves, but here are some from after the ceremony!


I wanted my flowers and flower crown to be “backyard garden fiesta” and I have to say our florist nailed it. They were beautiful and also MAN THAT BOUQUET WAS HEAVY. I love the pops of pink and light peach and I felt like a bohemian princess all night in that flower crown.

My dress is from Kite & Butterfly – they are two sisters and designers from Australia and those are actually their names – Kite and Butterfly. Working with them was a dream. I wanted a simple, comfortable, bohemian dress than didn’t break the bank and they more than delivered. My dress arrived by mail and it slipped right on & was so comfortable that I could have worn it as pajamas. I wore gladiator-style lace up sandals that were from Target and cost $20.


The extent of our wedding party. SERIOUSLY THOUGH. How freaking adorable are they? The flower girls wore flower crowns too and carried miniature versions of my bouquet. Our ring bearer, Eli, is the son of one of my best friends and he took his job VERY seriously. It was adorable.


We had so much fun at the reception, it was amazing to be surround by so many friends ad family. I love that Emily got so many amazing and fun pictures from the reception, including OUR FOOD!


We were originally thinking of having a taco truck serve at our wedding and I still love that idea (because TACOS) but one day I was driving on the 405 freeway (okay, sitting in traffic on the 405 freeway) and I saw a truck pulling a pizza oven and it said Stella’s Pizza Pie on the side. I told Siri to remind me to look them up later and when she did, I discovered that they cater weddings! I contacted them and it was a match made in heave. They have so many different options for pizza and salad, and they could even do gluten-free crust for my Mom, leave the cheese off for our vegan friends, and vegetarian pizza is easy! Plus, pizza and salad felt very “backyard garden party/fiesta” don’t you agree?

Everyone from Stella’s was amazing and the pizza was a hit. My personal favorite was The Fig Fantastico pizza – it was DELICIOUS. Being the bride and groom, we got one of each kind of pizza delivered directly to our sweetheart table. THANK YOU JESUS.

And then before we knew it, it was TIME FOR DESSERT. Early on in the planning I knew I wanted a donut wall, but it took some convincing my family. My mom thought it was a weird idea and that no one would eat the donuts. I kept telling it was a GREAT idea and that “of course drunk people will eat donuts off of a wall”. In the end, my Dad custom build the donut wall and I ordered the “All You Need is Love and Donuts” sign from Etsy. I added faux flowers and greenery from Michaels to complete the wall.

Donuts are from Krispy Kreme and I am happy to say that we ordered NINE DOZEN donuts and at the end of the night, there wete only 7 left. Boooooyah!



We also opt

ed to serve pie instead of cake BECAUSE IT’S SO MUCH BETTER. Especially these pies. Sweet Lady Jane makes the best deep-dish pies I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting – and Oprah agrees with me too. Their cherry pie is one of Oprah’s Favorite Things and also one of my favorite things, so it was a no brainer, really.

The “I Love You. I Know” cake topper is also from Etsy and is a nod to Andrew’s beloved Star Wars.

Everyone danced, drank, ate donuts and feasted on cherry pie and apple pie. It was pretty fantastic, in my opinion. We even had some pie left over and it was just as good the next day.


My Dad, Andrew’s brothers and Andrew’s best friend all gave toasts that were hilarious and touching and made everyone laugh and cry. They were so incredible special and we will never forget them.


Then it was time for DANCING. Emily captured like a hundred amazing partying pictures, but I’ll just leave a few of my favorites here.


And I’ll leave you with this adorable picture of two of the best parents in the world – mine.


Best. Day. Ever.

It's 2016 and time for the ring!

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Well I've actually had the ring since 2015 if we are going for accuracy, but this is the year that Andrew and I are getting married!

We don't have an exact date nailed down yet, but up until now we've always said "We'll either elope on New Years Eve or well get married next fall"... aaaaaaand New Years Eve came and went and we didn't elope. Not that I wasn't tempted. If you've been following along for awhile now, you probably know that I've actually already been married once before. And needless to say, it didn't end so well. But to make a long story short, I moved on, tried online dating, went on ONE date and met the love of my life. I know, I know, go ahead and hate me. I have the most untypical online dating love story of all time, but it was actually kind of awesome for me so don't hate me too much, mmmkay?

Anyway, the first wedding I ever planned was MY DREAM WEDDING. No seriously. We got married in the church where my parent's were married and had the reception in my parents gorgeous backyard. It was magical and homegrown and vintage and we served amazing food and had a great time dancing the night away. It was seriously an awesome night, but the planning of the wedding was one of the most stressful things I have ever done. And to be quite honest, the idea of planning another wedding isn't on the top of my "Things That Sound Fun and I Really Want to Do" list. But the problem is that I had this awesome wedding, with the wrong person. And that hurts in entirely different places. Somethings you can do again - get a beautiful white dress and call all of your best friends and hire the same kickass wedding coordinator. But other things, the most important things, like getting married at the church where your parents were married, just doesn't feel the same anymore. That doesn't feel like something I can do again. And so while I'm totally thankful to be getting this epic do-over with a way better partner, I still feel like I've been robbed a little. I want my epic, awesome, best wedding ever with the RIGHT person.

But I don’t really want to plan it.

But I have really specific ideas about will make it awesome. Mainly- lots of confetti, sparkly lights, rainbow sprinkles everywhere, and my man’s mad dance skillzzzzz.

So I have to plan it.

But we gave ourselves a few months to just soak in being engaged, and now that it’s the new year, we are going to work together, on planning a day that is totally, completely us. And I really do think that since we are such a good match, that planning another wedding won’t be even half as stressful as the first. The things that excite me about this wedding are so different from the first. I find myself daydreaming about writing our own vows and dancing to our song and how I know I’ll be a big ball of tears. I dream about life after the wedding, living in our own home, curled up in front of a fireplace with our pets. I dream about the day that I’ll get to tell him we are going to be parents, and about picking out baby names. I dream about our lives together, and just how incredibly happy that makes me.

And lets be honest, I STILL day dream about this RING.

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And just for the sake of authenticity, this is the face you new fiance will make after to take a million pictures to get just the right shot of him, your engagement ring, and the golden gate bridge.

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real life & lots of donuts.

I knew that starting a new job was going to be tough - there is always so much to learn - but I really had no idea just how big of an adjustment it was going to be. I have officially survived two whole weeks in the Emergency Room of a major Los Angeles hospital as a Medical Social Worker. It's been absolutely bat-shit crazy and I've only cried twice (coincidentally, the two times I cried were in the same day and that day was this past friday). I have never been busier in my life. There are days where I have been trying to talk on my office phone when my work cell phone rings so I answer that one too and then someone is knocking on my door. It madness but I am starting to get the hang of it, I think I am making a few friends, and I like working with the patients.

Overall this was an exceptional career opportunity for me and I had to take it, but it was very hard to leave the job (and my coworkers and my clients) that I've had for the past three and a half years. I went from working with children in an outpatient setting with seven co-workers, to running around a busy ER all day, adult patients, and with fifty new coworkers (nurses and doctors). I've been keeping my sanity by taking naps after work and eating more donuts than usual.

This past Thursday (June 4th) was my would-be wedding anniversary. I honestly don't even know if I would have remembered, but facebook's super helpful "On This Day" memory reminder thingamahjig keep alerting me to this fact all week. Every morning I would read a comment or five from my friends from years ago saying things like "OMG only four more days until the big day" and "AHHHHH you are getting married TOMORROW!" Which was really super nice of them, I think to myself and I delete each and every comment. And I don't think it's ending any time soon. Now that the actual anniversary has passed, I've been getting a lot of comments like "Hope you are having an amazing honeymoon!"


I wasn't as sad as I thought I would be. I think this year has been easier than past ones because more time has passed, and also because I am just so happy and fulfilled in my life, both professionally and personally. That makes a huge difference, as you know. However, I still felt a little sting when I thought about it. It still feels weird to me that I no longer have any kind of relationship with this person who was in my life for so long. Don't get me wrong, given everything that has happened and HOW it all happened, I no longer want any kind of relationship with this person. But in the quiet, still moments it still feels strange to think about.

I think I'm finally at a place where I am grateful for everything that happened. I have had many moments of thankfulness over these past few years, but I feel that I have fully stepped into that. It was a bitch of a journey to get here, but now I am here and it's oh-so-good. I'm thanking God for all the things I could have sworn I would never be thankful for and my prayers now are like "Thank you Jesus for all of the times I cried myself to sleep and for the people who let me down and for the other woman and for K's complete lack of integrity and most of all for rescuing me from that life because now I get to live this one and thank you thank you thank you amen." It's nothing short of amazing to me how our great God redeems even the darkest of times in our lives.

I have a love like I have never known, both with Andrew and with myself. We have a big love. I try to use other adjectives to describe what is between us, but everything else fails except for "big". I have never felt so loved and accepted and encourage to be exactly who I am, and it shows. When we first moved in together, I was SO nervous about it. I had only lived with one other boy before (my ex-husband) and it went pretty badly from the start. Living with Andrew has been almost effortless. We really just have an excellent time together. And of course, this big, big love that I will forever try to explain but I hope I never can.

I'm so excited to see what else is to come, and so so thankful for the entire road it took to get here

ten feet under and upside down.

Do you ever feel like you don't know who you are anymore? Like, your life gets so wrapped up in this or that and suddenly you don't know where you begin and this other thing ends. I'm an expert at getting lost in things. Books, movie marathons, the aisles at Target... but then something always wakes you up. Maybe it's something a friend says to you in a casual conversation, or your pastor preaches at church, or you hear a particular song lyric that speaks to you. I remember a time in college when I was absolutely certain that Lifehouse's "Who We Are" cd was written just for me; Every single lyric seemed to hit a soft spot in my bones. Other times it more than a conversation or a lyric, it's being awoken from a deep sleep from the jolt of an earthquake. It's a phone call at 2 am that breaks your heart. For me, I'm petty sure it was the boat accident with my family on Christmas Eve. It's been months now and sometimes it feels like that whole thing was a dream, or a nightmare, like it didn't really happen. And then other times, the memories of floating out there in the bay, so helpless and small and alone come back to me. The indescribable fear I felt when I couldn't see my Dad anymore and I honestly thought he might be dead or unconscious or drowning. How hard I I had to fight away those fears and just keep swimming for shore, as car after car drove by without seeing the little floating blobs of yellow in the bay who were waving and yelling for help. It's absolutely stunning how much time can slow down in a situation like that. An hour of feeling those feelings and thinking those thoughts felt like days. Every single second hung in the air and fueled the fear. I've never had so many thoughts in my life. And yet, I was being carried. My boots that filled up with water should have pulled me under the water when we first went in and I was hyperventilating. Instead, I sat there floating in the water, crying and screaming and without any kind of flotation device. I wasn't even treading water. I was literally just floating, water-logged boots and all. My hair never even got wet the entire time we were out there. I didn't swallow any water and my eyes didn't burn with the sting of salt water. The current carried us first into the heart of the bay, and away from the waves in the ocean, and eventually towards the rocks where help would be waiting. We were scared and we were wet and we were tired, but we were ALL OKAY. I was the first one in the ambulance and I remember hearing that everyone was okay and out of the water and I just started crying. i was shaking from the cold, but also from the sobbing and the sheer thankfulness that I felt. I calmed down a bit when Isaac (my brother) joined me in the ambulance and gave me a hug. In an effort to comfort me he said "It's okay Adriana, we are all okay. We are all safe. Everything is going to be okay" and I just lost it again. Similarly, when I saw Andrew walking and talking with the paramedic, I felt immense relief. And when the EMT's told us, "We got your Dad, he is okay, but he is a little bit colder than you, so he is going to go to the hospital" I broke down again.

That woke me up, there is no doubt about it. Christmas with it's shine and sparkle and presents, my very favorite holiday of all, lost it's luster. We still sat around the Christmas tree and opened presents but nobody was very excited about anything. Suddenly, everything that had been on my wishlist and that was now in my hands didn't mean a thing. Nothing mattered, except that all of the people I love most in this world were sitting next to me.

One thing that I will never forget about this whole experience was the after. How everything felt so surreal. Driving back to my grandma's house naked, all wrapped in blankets. Seeing my Dad at the hospital, beneath all the warming equipment. Offering to finish my Mom's grocery shopping for Christmas Eve dinner so she could stay with my Dad at the hospital. Walking into the grocery store and being greeted by a worker saying, "Merry Christmas! How's your day going?" and feeling SO WEIRD about the fact that he was asking me how my day was going and one hour ago I was floating in the bay thinking my Dad was dead. I don't even remember how I answered, but that question will never leave my mind for as long as I live.

Now that I've got a few months on this whole experience, I'm struck by how similar it was to how I felt going though my divorce. Not physically, of course, but emotionally. It felt like my whole life was sinking and I had no idea how I was going to stay afloat. Part of me wanted to drown. I didn't know how I could face everyone in my life, or say goodbye to people who had been my family, my sisters, for so many years. I didn't know how I could walk away from this person I had known for over half of my life and that I'd promised to love until I died. Life didn't make sense anymore and no amount of yelling and screaming for help seemed to get me anywhere. And yet, I was being carried. I was floating instead of downing. My hair never even got wet.

When Andrew and I first found our amazing church, I couldn't go a single service without crying. Sometimes, I would sob. I imagine it was pretty confusing, or maybe even embarrassing for him. I stopped wearing mascara on Sundays. But I was crying from sheer joy and thankfulness. I can't believe I made it through. I made it out. And I'm on the other side. I get to live over here! I get to live and be loved and laugh more than I ever thought possible. I didn't even know how to form the words to ask for help, and yet all my questions and doubts were answered and blessing were thrown on me and at me, from every direction, even in the midst of my deepest, darkest pain. I still cry when I think about it. I guess it just comes down to the fact that I get to live this life. It's not perfect, not by a long shot. But it is very, very good. And so much better than I could have ever imagined, especially when I was floating around, helpless and small and cold in the water.

I am so thankful for where I am now; who I am now. But some days I still struggle with who that is. I was so sure I was going to be defined by my divorce forever. But I'm beginning to understand that I am not "the divorced girl" anymore than I am "the girl who survived that boat accident". Sure, those are parts of me. And like any good puzzle, those pieces fit into my soul somewhere. On my best days, I'm even thankful they are there, if for nothing else. the perspective they give me.

I'm still figuring it all out, but I know this for sure - I have been bent and boken, but - I hope - into a better shape. (Charles Dickens).

these crazy days.

Life is so crazy good these days. And also just crazy. I'm so busy that I can hardly see straight. I've been working a lot of overtime at work, which is both awesome and exhausting. Then I rush to Crossfit most nights and drag myself home afterwords for dinner and a shower. I don't even know the last time I read a book, but I have STACKS and STACKS of them waiting for me. And then there is Andrew. I don't write about him much, mostly because I feel like I would just sound all mushy-gushy-lovie-dovie because that's how I feel. So to try to avoid that, I will just say this. Things are good. I never knew it was even possible to be this happy in a relationship. We have a big love.

It especially blows my mind when I think about how unhappy I was when I was married. I thought I had found "the one" and I WAS SO WRONG. Oh so unbelievably wrong. And then on top of the unhappiness and the being wrongness, divorce entered in to the equation and it felt like relief for the teeniest second and then it felt like begin dragged through the mud. Everything I ever thought I knew about this person who said they had loved me for almost a decade went flying out the door and hit every single bone in my body on the way out. If integrity was money, he would have had mayyyybe enough to buy a coffee. And this was a person I chose to marry. That I pledged to love forever. And I was SO SO WRONG. So everything you've ever thought gets called into question. All of my judgement and decision-making abilities suddenly have no merit. Which was an interesting balance when I started dating again. I really didn't trust myself, but thankfully Andrew made things pretty easy. He just kinda walked into my life with his huge heart and perfect sense of humor and won over everyone in my life. My parents are bananas about him, my brother loves him, and he makes me laugh every single day. Just right now he looked at me and said, "What are you doing? Blogging?" and when I said yes he followed up with "You're beautiful, you're amazing, I love you, write nice things about me" and I couldn't help but laugh.

Anyway I don't know where I am going with all of this except that I wanted to write it down. I wanted to get the crazy out of my head. Sometimes I feel this weird pressure to be pegged as a certain kind of blogger - a DIY blogger or a fashion blogger or a lifestyle blogger, but then I get distracted by donuts and shiny things and forget that I've even supposed to pick one. At this point, I think its safe to say I eschew them all. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE fashion bloggers and DIY bloggers and lifestyle bloggers. Some of my favorite bloggers fall into those categories and they are huge inspirations to me. And maybe someday I will too. But for now, I'm gonna stick with the party planning and house decorating and occasional crossfitting and pool days and too many donuts. For the first time in a long time, this craziness fits me just fine.

i'm so much cooler online.

In reality, I eat oatmeal every single day for breakfast. Coach's oats (from costco) with honey roasted almond slivers and cut up strawberries. I've been cutting out coffee because I think too much caffeine has been giving me headaches. I'm not home from work for longer than ten seconds before I'm ripping off my clothes and reaching for my virgin yoga pants (virgin, because they've never been to yoga). Andrew and I make dinner - we're even meal planning these days because we are taking a stab at this responsible-adult-thing and some days its even kind of fun. Then we watch Netflix for a few hours and go to sleep. The most exciting thing to happen to me recently is that I won a bet against Andrew that the guy from Theory of Everything would win Best Actor at the Oscars, so Andrew has to do the dishes for a month. SERIOUSLY BEST BET EVER. On the weekends we nap and putz around LA and eat in-n-out just enough times to make Monday seem manageable. And then we do it all again.

ONLINE, I eat cupcakes for breakfast and drink champagne on Fridays and sometimes even Wednesdays and I wear clothes with rainbows and kittens and my house is perfectly organized and very, very white. I'm witty and sarcastic and maybe even interesting. I practically shit sprinkles.

In reality, Andrew is currently laying on the floor behind my chair and playing "cat music" for Nala. Yes, CAT MUSIC. He read something online about music made just for cats and it's like weird, dreamland-techno music with the sound of cats purring mixed into it. And this weekend we spent a good solid 45 minutes arguing about the white/gold vs. blue/black dress fiasco and introducing the concept to my parents. Okay, on second thought, that was pretty hilarious. And also, I was able to see BOTH white&gold and blue&black so I think that makes me a unicorn or a mermaid or something.

Online, I don't talk about my bad days or my hurt feelings or my insecurities. Well, not on instagram. That's what this place is for. This blog was my cutting board, my bleeding place for everything that has happened over the past few years. And instagram was a celebration of survival; a laugh-until-you-cry-disco dance party. And that was all good, for awhile. But it's not working out for me to have two so different sides to my life anymore. Writing has taken a backseat, because I don't know how to write about happiness. I know how to spell happiness in sprinkles, but not in actual words. And so the blog suffers and the donuts reign all.

I'm not opposed to the donuts reigning all, especially if I get to be the Donut Queen or something. But I need to acknowledge that these two sides of me do exist. Why is it SO hard for me to write about the good things in my life?

I promise to try to be better at it. (That's a promise to myself, but I'm writing it here.... well, because. Accountability. Duh.)


the scariest experience of my life.

I’ve been putting off writing about this for long enough now, and probably only because it feels like I’m already thinking about it all the time. But in bits and pieces. I’ll be in a room with other people, having a conversation and suddenly I’ll find that I’m not in that room anymore, but I can still hear the voices of my friends talking. They’ve continued the conversation, but I’m floating anyway to somewhere else entirely. I’ll be back in that water, floating, swimming, yelling for help. Watching car after car drive by without seeing us. Or I’ll be getting ready for bed, or listening to music, or trying to read a book. And again, my mind isn’t mine anymore.

We flew into Oregon the day before Christmas Eve, spent a few hours in Portland before heading to Tillamook, where my Grandma lives and where we were to spend Christmas. We’ve been doing this every other year since I can remember. My boyfriend Andrew came with us this year, and I was so excited to share all of our Tillamook traditions with him, including cheese samples at the Tillamook Cheese Factory and catching crab in Netarts Bay. The weather was supposed to be better on Christmas Day, but we didn’t think we would be able to rent a boat that day, so we decided to go crabbing on Christmas Eve. It was a little rainy and cold, but not bad. We were all wearing multiple layers of clothing – I myself had a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, a jacket and a bright yellow rain jacket on – along with yoga pants, rain pants, gloves and rubber boots. With so many layers on, I didn’t even think twice about trying to add a lifevest. Besides, we have been crabbing for as long as I can remember without incident.

This was Andrew’s first time crabbing and our one millionth, and we were all having a pretty decent time. We were doing our final pull of the day with plans to head in, when one of our crab pots was “sanded in”. I guess this happens somewhat regularly – or it can happen – when the tide is coming in so fast that sand gets in the trap and weighs it down. I don’t ever remember this happening to us before, but I guess it’s not that uncommon. My Dad and brother tried to pull it out for at least ten minutes, but we were getting close to the time we needed to be back at the boat landing and we still had more pots to pull. Being short of time, my Dad decided to try tying the rope from the crab pot to one of the cleats on the boat to drag it out. In hindsight, none of us would do this again. But in the moment, it seemed like a viable option. He tied the rope, started the engine and the boat immediately started rocking. I grabbed the side of the boat, said “I don’t like this, I don’t like this”, looked over my shoulder and saw the back of the boat dip into the water, but popped back up. Two seconds later I was grabbing for the boat again and it wasn’t there. We were all in the water.

I swear, nothing has ever happened so fast in my life. One second we were in the boat and I was clinging to the boat, the next second it was just gone. I was in complete and utter shock. I don’t remember much, except panicking. I was yelling/crying “Ahhhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhh! Oh my god!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!” over and over again for probably at least 15 seconds before my Dad yelled “Grab a life vest!” and I looked to see a seat cushion floating right in front of me. Andrew and I had been sitting next to each other on the boat, so he was the closest to me and he swam over with his seat cushion and grabbed my arm.

It’s hard to write accurately about what happened, because I was having so many thoughts. For a split second when the boat went under, I thought it was going to pop back up like it does in movies and we were all going to try to climb back in somehow. Then you think, okay someone will see us and come get us, until you remember that you were the only boat on the bay that day and there is no one around for miles. Then you think, okay I guess we are swimming to shore and you try to swim towards shore and don’t move at all.

On top of all of this, the panic and the racing thoughts and the absolute incredulity of it all, the water is petty damn cold. I think it was probably only minutes until were all separated. The tide was running in and we were all caught in the current. In the moment, this seemed horrible because shore was probably only 150 yards away (it really didn’t look that far) but to get there in meant swimming against the current. Andrew and I had been trying to hold on to each other, but we couldn’t swim like that, so we had to let go. We also eventually kicked off our rubber boots – which had filled with water and made it impossible to swim. We both had seat cushions, so we put them under our chests like kickboards and used our legs to kick/swim. My brother Isaac managed to get the closest to the shore, although at this point the current was taking us into the heart of the bay. Now the closest shoreline was about a mile away. Frustrated by not being able to swim more, Isaac decided to start yelling for help. Honestly, we were so far out and there was NOBODY around, I hadn’t even thought to yell for help. But he did. He yelled “Help! Help! My boat sunk! We need help!” Over and over and over again for what seemed like forever. Andrew and I were still pretty close together – maybe 50 yards apart. I could see and hear Isaac, and I could see and talk to Andrew, but I couldn’t see my Dad anymore. I knew he had been alert and okay when we first hit the water and that he had grabbed a life vest, but we got separated pretty quickly after that. Every so often I would turn around and look for him and I could see him in the distance, but he was too far away to yell to. I tried, but I didn’t get any response. I have a friend who knows someone who lost her father in a boating accident I kept thinking about that. I told myself to keep swimming, that this wasn’t going to be how my Dad died. Every time that thought popped into my head I would push it away, but I was terrified.

After about 30 minutes, we are now in the middle of the bay. Probably at least a half mile away from shore. Cars are driving by and we stop swimming to wave our arms over our heads and yell.

They don’t see us and keep driving. Over and over and over again, no one sees us, no one stops.

The water is freezing, the clock keeps ticking and now we’ve been in the water without anyone seeing us for almost 45 minutes, and I don’t know where my Dad is.

I couldn’t have known this at the time, but he took off his yellow rain jacket because he felt like it was slowing him down. So now when I scan the horizon for him, I can’t even see that little dot of yellow that he was. I am in an absolute panic at this point.

I don’t even remember feeling cold, just tired and scared. The shore seemed so far away, nobody knew where we were, I had no way of knowing if my Dad was okay. My thoughts were so jumbled. My mind was racing with “Please God, oh my God, Please God send someone to find us” to “I can’t believe this is happening” to “This isn’t how my Dad dies, this isn’t how anyone dies” and then circled back around to praying again.

It all still seemed so surreal.

I could still hear Isaac shouting for help in the distance, but he was further and further away from me. Andrew and I were still swimming and the shore was getting closer but I was SO TIRED. Eventually, I had this moment where I knew I was going to be okay. I felt okay, I didn’t feel too cold, and I knew that I was going to hit that shore eventually. I just didn’t know if my Dad was okay, or if he would be. I mean, even if I made it to shore, how long would it be before I could climb out on all of those rocks, and run to find help? What if, by the time I got to anyone, it was too late? I don’t know the specifics about hyperthermia except that it can KILL YOU if you are in cold water for too long. I didn’t know how long is too long, just that we had already been in the water for what felt like forever (but was really 45 minutes). Around this time, Isaac starts yelling at me and tells me “They are sending help! Help is coming!”

I would find out later that a man was walking his dog and heard Isaac yelling. He didn’t have a cell phone, so he ran back to where has was staying and called 9-1-1. Isaac just saw him running with his dog and wasn’t even sure he had heard him, until the man returned and yelled to Isaac and told him help was on the way.

After what felt like a really long time, we finally did hear sirens. An ambulance pulled up on front of me, still probably 20 yards away from shore. Cars were stopping now and pulling over.

I was actually the first one to make it to shore, where someone was waiting to help me up onto the rocks.

They had been asking me all kinds of questions – how many of us there were, how old my Dad was, if he had any medical conditions, my age, etc etc. As they asked me all of these things, I was standing outside of the ambulance and was told to strip down. I had to remove all of my sopping wet clothes in the middle of the street and they wrapped me in blankets and towels. I was sitting and crying in the ambulance when Isaac joined me, also stripped down and covered in blankets. I could see Andrew walking up the road – he had hit shore about 20 years up from me. The three of us were all in the same ambulance, trying to get warm and answering questions. The EMT also told us, “We had your Dad and he’s okay, but he is a little colder than the rest of you, so we are going to take him to the hospital.” I still hadn’t seen him at this point, as he was picked up by a rescue boat and taken to a separate ambulance. Isaac, Andrew and I were feeling okay, despite being cold, so we signed releases to skip the hospital visit. We were able to find the car keys in my Dad’s jean pocket and drove back to my Grandma’s house. All of us were naked, just wrapped in blankets and towels.

When we got back to my Grandma’s no one was there. My mom had left a note that she was going into town to the grocery store. We called her from Andrew’s cell phone (mine had been with me in the boat and wasn’t working) and she answered the phone, “Hi! How was crabbing?” I asked where she was, told her what happened, and that we were all okay, but that they took Dad to the hospital. She said she would go to the hospital and we all took showers to get warm and put on clothes.
My mom made it to the hospital before we did, and when we got there she just started sobbing and hugging us. I was crying too. It was just an overwhelming feeling – the experience of what we had just survived, and knowing that we were all there and safe. We got to see my Dad, for the first time since the boat sunk. He was covered in blankets and warming equipment, but he was alert and coherent and OKAY. It was such an unbelievable relief.

We would find out later that the man walking his dog who heard Isaac yelling was Jim Lyons, a guest at Netarts RV park (retired EMT). He ran for help and called 9-1-1, and he and the Manager of the RV Park, Ron Tonski (retired Fire Fighter) put their boats in the bay to come get us. They actually beat the Fire Department Rescue team.

The manager’s wife and their grandson were watching from the road and kept an eye on all four of us, and were actually on the phone with Coast Guard who were standing by and ready to send a helicopter if needed. They stayed on the line until they knew that all four of us were out of the water and safe.

This was the scariest and most surreal experience of my life. We all spent the next few days that we had together talking about the accident- a debriefing-of-sorts - and hearing each other’s perspectives. While I was absolutely in a blind panic about my Dad and if he was okay, my Dad said he could see all of us and hear us, and he felt pretty okay the whole time. He thought if he just kept moving a little bit, he would be okay. Isaac told us that by the time the boat pulled him out, he was having trouble moving his arms and his legs because he was so cold. Andrew said he just remembers the look on my face when the boat first sunk, and how scared I looked. He was mostly worried about me, since I was at risk of hyperventilating when we first hit the water.
The whole thing was so surreal, that now I feel like “Did that really happen?” It almost feels like it was just a dream (or a nightmare) or something I saw in a movie.

I am so thankful that angels were passing out life vests and making sure the current was running towards land and not out to sea. I’m thankful that God sent a storm a few days before, causing a lot of freshwater runoff into the bay, which raised the water temperatures from the normal 45 degrees to almost 55 degrees. I’m so thankful nobody hit their head or hyperventilated or got tangled in the rope that took the boat down.

A handful of the people I love the most in this world were in that boat with me and I couldn’t have walked away without a single one of them. I’m just so thankful and relieved that I didn’t have to.


The Leaving.

I've been asked a few times recently to "describe your blog" or "Write a little bit about what inspired you to start blogging" for various reasons. I obliged, wrote up a few paragraphs, and went on my way. No big deal. Did it a few more times. And I got it down to a science. The standard answer goes something like this:

"I’ve always been a writer and blogger, but I started really blogging when I was going through one of the most painful times of my life – my divorce. I was engaged at the age of 23, had my “dream wedding” at 24, and found myself divorced at 26."

Welp, that's a nice, neat little way to summarize the past few hellish years of my life. It all sounds so.... tidy. Engaged, Married, Divorced. Boom. Boom. Boom. When you put it that way, it doesn't even sound half bad. I guess that's why it's a summary though. You can't spell out the tedium or the fear or the uncertainly of the past few years. And even if you could, you don't need to. It's all buried in this blog anyway, somewhere along the way from there to here. This. This is the "after" that I have been dreaming about for so long. I'm licensed now. I have an amazing, hilarious, and handsome roommate who cooks, cleans, sings in the shower and only snores occasionally. I have the best friends anyone could ever hope for and so many fun and exciting opportunities coming my way. I'm headed to Hawaii for 12 days in less than a week, and will be spending Christmas with my family and my Grandma in the small town where I used to spend my summers.

Life is sweet.

Like, literally sweet. I eat a lot of donuts.  But also metaphorically sweet. And simultaneously calm and INSANELY BUSY at the same time.

Also, I've been thinking lately. People fall in and out of love all the time. They get married, they get divorced. They cheat, they leave, they run away. Whatever. That all happens. I can wrap my mind around those things and I can accept the version of events that happened in my life.

What I cannot understand is how you treat someone you've known half of your life and claimed to love for 6+ years with so little regard. Like, it's okay that you wanted out. I wanted out too, eventually. It's even okay that you found someone else, although I would have preferred that maybe that came a little later. But I can accept that those things happen. You cheated and you left. Got it. But did you have to scream at me and threaten me and try to force me into signing "agreements" without even letting me consult with a lawyer? Did you have to scare me so much that I changed the locks on the first place we ever called our home? Did you have to open your own bank account without my knowing, or show up one day on my door step and announce that I will now be solely responsible for paying any and all utility bills simply because you decided it should be so? And then drive me around Los Angeles to these various utility places that very day, all the while I am sobbing and trying not to throw up?

I think the banker at Chase thought he had a gun to my leg under the table or something, I was crying and shaking so much when we signed that paperwork to transfer accounts.

The leaving I can forgive and even move past. I'm glad the leaving happened. I'm happy he left.

How he handled the leaving still breaks my heart.

I have so much more to say and I've written entire paragraphs here and deleted them, so I think I'll just leave it at that for now.

I'll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I'll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace.

i am not bossy, i am the boss.

So after studying for over four months, today I took and passed the second LCSW exam, officially making me a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I can't even explain how relieved I feel. Before you take these exams, you hear all of these horror stories, of people studying for 2+ hours a night, and 10+ hours on the weekend for months on end, only to fail the exam and have to wait six months to take it again. I honestly only know a handful of people who have passed both exams on the first time, so I was scared as shit. Thankfully, it was recommended to me to use the Therapist Development Center's study program and it was IN.CRED.IBLE. And now I am one of those handful of people that I know.

I think I'm also in a little bit of shock. Like, I have so much time for activities! I don't know what to do first (and I'm little nervous I'll wake up tomorrow and that this will have all been a dream). There are so many things I want to do - take another writing class, learn calligraphy, take a water-coloring class, go on more LA adventures, visit my friends and family more.... the list goes on and on. But first things first, the boyf and I are headed to Maui for Thanksgiving! I've never been (only to Kauai and Hawaii years ago),  and Andrew grew up in Maui so I'm looking forward to meeting his family and having a local tour guide to show me around :) We are going to be there for 12 days! I can't wait. Longest vacation I've had in ages. I want to eat lots of Thanksgiving food and do a lot of snorkeling. Also, speaking of those two things, I should probably invest in a one piece bathing suit...

The holidays last year were rough. Yes, I was in my new apartment and loving all of that, but they were my first holidays I spent single. Which wasn't so bad except the holidays are when you see all of your friends and family and EVERYONE looked at me with sadness and spoke softly to me, like "How are you doing? Are you okay?" Which again, very nice of them, but only the first three people. Then I wanted to throw vases at everyone else.

One highlight from last year: My mom sends a Christmas letter to friends and family every year, and obviously in the recent past years she wrote about K and I... getting married, buying a condo, adopting Nala, etc etc. So she asked me what she should say in this letter. We decided to just say something like "Adriana and Nala have moved into a new apartment...." and then talk about my work, or whatever. It wasn't like we were trying to hide anything (everyone already knew anyway) but it just seemed more tasteful and appropriate somehow. I don't know. Anyway, she wrote that and sent the letter. On Christmas morning, we were all opening our cards and stockings, which included a card from my Grandma with HER yearly letter in it. First line of the first paragraph of her Christmas letter read:

"Dear Loved Ones,

This has been a year of many changes. Adriana is single again."

That's honestly all I remember because I stopped reading I was laughing so hard. Gotta love her, my Grandma. Always straight to the point, and then moving on.

I hung that letter on my refrigerator until just a few weeks ago. I went to go grab it to take a picture of it just now and then remembered that I finally threw it out. I'm kicking myself now. That should have been framed.

My sweet Grandma has had a rough year this past year. I'm looking forward to seeing her for Christmas this year in Oregon, and reading her highly-anticipated Christmas letter for 2014.

Now, what am I going to be able to write about in MY 2015 Christmas letter? Gotta get to doing all these activities that I now have the time to do.... You know, because I'm an LCSW. Which I will be obnoxiously writing on EVERYTHING I sign from now on.

xoxo Adriana, LCSW