Hello, Little Birdie!

A few months back, Walker and I made an awesome upgrade to the backyard and have been enjoying it ever since. Inspired by our grandfathers, who were both avid bird/animal lovers, we decided to bring some of our feathered friends to our little patch of green in the city by adding a few different kinds of bird feeders. Although it took the birds a week or so to find the feeders, now the birds (mostly sparrows, finches, mockingbirds, and the occasional bluejay) come in flocks of 10-20 to eat! They don’t even care if we are sitting out there anymore… they have gotten pretty brave!

My handsome man setting up the feeder pole :)

My handsome man setting up the feeder pole :)

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The hummingbird feeder is located in the tree above the other feeders but it doesn't get much action. So we are moving it to the other side, near the hibiscus and grape plants.

The hummingbird feeder is located in the tree above the other feeders but it doesn’t get much action. So we are moving it to the other side, near the hibiscus and grape plants.


We also started to gather a squirrel following (which I was not pleased about… those idiots were eating all the bird food and breaking the feeder), but a simple feed switch to “F.M. Brown’s Bird Lover’s Blend — No Squirrels… Just Birds” did the trick. The food uses chunks of hot chili peppers in the food, which the squirrels find insanely spicy since they are mammals, but the birds can’t taste the spice at all (and the chilies are actually quite good for them!). Plus, instead of sunflower seeds, it uses safflower seeds, which the squirrels find bitter and unappetizing. We haven’t seen a single squirrel since the day we switched the food (months ago)! Yippee!

Anyway, call us old people but we have really enjoyed listening to and watching the birds. There is something so soothing about having them around. :)BirdFeeder8

Beating the Heat: Evaporative Cooler, Portable AC Unit, or Fan?

Happy Friday, friends! A couple weeks back, LA was hit with a brutal heat wave. I can be kind of a baby about the heat, so let’s just say I wasn’t pleased. Our apartment has a wall AC unit in the living room, but it is expensive and completely ineffective unless you have it blasting on high and are sitting on the couch right in front of it.

See the unit hiding back there?

See the AC unit hiding back there?

And no, despite the odd placement and picture, the couch does not block the AC from working/circulating. Unfortunately, it really only cools the one room (and not well unless we want to spend a fortune), leaving our kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom sweltering hot. If I am a baby about dealing with the heat during the day, you should see me at night when the heat is keeping me awake!

We usually have an old, cheap, crappy bedroom fan, but it has been on the way out for a few months now. I finally put the last nail in its coffin by karate-chopping it to get it oscillating again… it didn’t work like it usually does (sometimes it stops oscillating and whacking the top usually gets it back on track!). Instead I killed the fan. Funny story: Walker mentioned this to one of his coworkers, who we have hung out with socially a few times, that I broke the fan by smacking it and his response was, “Oh, I see. She’s one of those girls that gets really frustrated and starts slamming things around, huh?” Yikes. Quite a reputation that I’m building out there. Thankfully, Walker laughed and assured him that I was not, but I think his mind was made up. He thinks I am a violent psychopath. I digress…

Anyway, after the homicide of our bedroom fan and upon the arrival of the torturous heat wave, we decided something needed to be done. After browsing Craigslist for places we could move and realizing that this was a preposterous and financially impossible solution to our cooling issue, we began to brainstorm more plausible answers. This brought us to the question:

Evaporative cooler, portable AC unit, or a new fan?

Our first instinct was that a portable AC unit would cost the same as running the window unit, but it would be the most effective and we could bring it into the bedroom at night. After a few seconds of research, though, we realized all “portable” AC units have to be vented with a giant hose out a window. Unfortunately, the layout of our apartment and the shape of our windows make that horribly inconvenient, if not impossible. Plus, you need to buy a kit for each window you want to use, so it can get pricy and super annoying. So portable AC got scratched off the list.

That brought us to an evaporative cooler. For those of you who don’t know what a evaporative cooler (or swamp cooler) is, it basically uses evaporated water to cool a room. Since it adds humidity to the air, it really only works well in dry climates. Since LA is pretty dry, we figured it could work here. Plus, it is energy efficient (MUCH cheaper to run then AC) and fully-portable (just needs an outlet). After reading a billion reviews, which were split between “this is an amazing miracle product” and “this is a piece of crap” with no middle ground, we decided to give it a go. We figured that if it was so black or white for people, we would know pretty quickly which camp we would fall into. After gallivanting all over town to find the one we wanted, we brought home this bad boy: the KuulAire Port-A-Cool.

Bo seems optimistic that the swamp cooler will work.

Bo seems optimistic that the swamp cooler will work.

We opened it up and were put off to find out that it was wet in there! It had clearly been used, drained, and returned before (without the remote and instruction manual, mind you). That should have been our first clue. My cockeyed optimism got the best of us though, so we took it out of the box, filled it with 4 gallons of water, and hit go. It felt like a mediocre fan. I thought that maybe it just needed some time to get going, but after using it all afternoon and all night, it was nothing but a miserably humid $200 fan. FAIL.

We were so disappointed, so we followed the cue of whoever bought this before us and drained it, packed it back up, and returned it in the same state we received it (and let the store know of what was missing, of course, so that they wouldn’t sell it to someone else like that).

So we finally resorted to plan C, buying a new tower fan. We splurged on a fancy Vornado brand fan, since we have been (forgive the pun) blown away by their quality in the past.VornadoFan

We brought it home, plugged it in, and enjoyed a nice breeze. We have had it for a couple of weeks now and couldn’t be happier. It’s a great fan… thank goodness. The heat wave ended but I’m sure we will be having many more before the summer comes to a close. At least we are ready this time… and I will try not to smack the fan around so that it lasts us! ;)

Grateful For The Good

The past three weeks have been fantastic around here! After completing another quarter of work (which I will share with you soon!) and pulling off another 4.0 (woooooo!), I had really earned a three-week break. As I mentioned earlier, I began my break with an amazing visit from my best friend and her husband. We spent their 5 day vacation enjoying the ocean, seeing wine country, and talking the hours away in our backyard. Life is good.LauraAndDavesVisit5 LauraAndDavesVisit6 LauraAndDavesVisit4 LauraAndDavesVisit2 LauraAndDavesVisit1 LauraAndDavesVisit3 LauraAndDavesVisit7

A few days later, we left for Nebraska to visit Walker’s family and friends because he got a bunch of time off for Independence Day. We stayed 6 days, and I managed to only take pictures of flowers at the gorgeous Sunken Garden in Lincoln. Thankfully, Walker snapped one picture of his mom and me, but I really blew it on the photo documentation responsibility!
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After 6 amazing days relaxing with his family, we came home to find this bad boy waiting for us in the mailbox:UncommonGoodsFallCatalog1

Walker opened it up, only to find the string art of yours truly gracing the pages of the centerfold!UncommonGoodsFallCatalog2 UncommonGoodsFallCatalog3

I jumped up and down for a while in sheer excitement at the idea of seeing my stuff in print. YIPPEE! Then I checked my email, only to find my string art also featured on their distribution email!UnCommonGoodsEmail

It was a very awesome surprise to come home to! I am really hoping that the string art does well in the catalog (tell your friends — they make amazing wedding and housewarming gifts!).

Anyway, I just wanted to fill you in on my past few weeks! I am so grateful for all of the great things and people I have in my life. The past three weeks have been rejuvenating, relaxing, and a ton of fun. The first day of classes for next quarter is Thursday (TIME FLIES!), so I will be trying to wrap up all loose ends and check off my to-do lists before then!