Why Suffer When You Don't Have To?

On Sunday I brought our laundry downstairs to the living room for folding, because I would have broken out in a sweat doing it upstairs.  I couldn't deal with the last load so I left it sitting in the basket.  I ran the blow dryer on my hair for exactly two seconds before realizing what a stupid idea that was because our air conditioning broke just in time for the hottest weekend of the year. San Diego county broke high temp records everywhere and there we were, putting off bedtime as long as possible because downstairs wasn't terrible, but upstairs was a sauna.  Laying there spread eagle in bed listening to the hum of the tower fan and feeling it's lukewarm air blow across my body brought back memories of the old days when I lived alone in a studio apartment.  Right now our only choice is to deal with the heat, but it reminded me of the days when I had a choice, and chose to suffer anyway.

It feels like a lifetime ago.  It was a lifetime ago.  I was living alone for the first time ever and newly single.  Street parking was tight, there was a shared laundry room that took quarters only, and no storage to speak of, but my little apartment was so cute.  I was proud that I did it on my own and living alone was pretty neat.  Like a lot of places, there was no central air.  It had a wall AC unit, but it was sufficient for cooling the whole place since the whole place was essentially the size of a room.  I was on the upper floor, so when it was hot, it was hot and there was no escape.  I don't know how I sat there sweltering, when I could have had relief with the flick of a switch.  The tower fan would have to do, because the wall unit was to be used ONLY while I worked out, and sometimes not even then depending on just how hot it was.  Those were the rules.  I went to bed in stifling heat some nights and woke up to damp sheets.  During the day I holed up in the library or went to the mall when it got too bad.  I took two showers a day because just breathing was enough to make me sweat, but upon pain of death I would not touch that wall unit.

Those were the rules.

And so many rules there were back then because life demanded it.  I could only buy clothing if I absolutely needed it and only from Walmart or Target.  I wasn't allowed to eat after six.  To cut down on gas I couldn't go too far from home most weekends and stops at 7-11 for 99 cent coffee was only allowed once a week. 

Those were the rules because money was tight and discipline of utmost importance. 

Diet soda was allowed daily.   I had one every day with "dinner" to help me feel full.  If you could even call it that.  Three slices of thinly sliced lunch meat ham, slapped between two slices of bread, a 2% Kraft Single, and the thinnest layer of mustard was the main dish with a side of exactly one serving of pretzel sticks.  I counted.  The cans were rinsed and stored in the dishwasher and taken to the recycling center monthly where I would receive my CRV in the form of a grocery store credit at Ralph's next door.  I parked in between the two, so I could haul my cans to the recycling center and then walk to the grocery store where I would painstakingly select each item after carefully scrutinizing the nutritional information.

The thing about it, is that my electric bill was so cheap.  I still don't know how it was so cheap, but it was only about $35.00 per month.  Allowing myself some relief and turning on the wall unit every now and then would have made me much more comfortable, and how high could my bill really get?  Not very high, as I would find out later, but I was too caught up in my own suffering and sadness to find out.    Everything had to be controlled to the maximum level possible.  I didn't allow myself to splurge.  Ever.  On anything.  I embraced hunger, the stifling heat and all the things about my life that was difficult without resistance, but it wasn't just about the money.  It was proving to myself what I had already come to accept at that time.  Life is hard and I wasn't meant to be happy.     
Then I met MJ.
I lived there for five years.  He lived in that little studio with me for the last six months, and you better believe that when it got hot he didn't hesitate for a second to turn that thing on.  He couldn't understand my logic.  Why suffer, when you don't have to?  I mean, if you have no choice that is one thing, but when you have a choice, why not choose comfort?  It's usually worth it.  Space was limited and sometimes the clutter made me cranky, but it wasn't just me against the world anymore, and that cold air circulating through the studio felt like a small miracle.  It was pure magic, and my oven which still pristine after five years of very little action was finally getting put to good use.  The girl who didn't want to eat had fallen in love with a foodie.

When we moved into our house I tried to make us both suffer.  Our expenses were high that year between the new house and the wedding.  Old habits die hard.  "We're fine," I'd say.  "It's not that hot," because I was used to sacrificing comfort to save a dime, but MJ wasn't having it.  He went crazy cranking up the AC at just the slightest hint of warm weather, and I went along with it until we got the bill.  I taught him the value of a savings account and he taught me to live a little. I gave in a bit, so did he, and we've found a pretty nice balance over the years. 

I shake my head sometimes thinking about how my life has changed since then.  All for the better, and I am so thankful.  We own a home with central air, we take trips, I don't think twice about stopping at 7-11 for coffee, and I have an Amazon addiction.  My meals are nutritionally balanced, I have an awesome husband, and I no longer look for any excuse to martyr myself.  I'm happy.

Why suffer when you don't have to?  The answer is, you shouldn't.  Air cooling is a wonderful invention.  I am truly humbled after being without it for six hot days and can't wait for it to be fixed next week. 

Disclaimer:  This post was brought to you by our broken air conditioning unit and the wonder that is air cooling, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Mysteries of Instagram

I discovered Snap Chat last year, and it's been fun, but out of all the social media outlets Instagram is still my favorite.  I enjoy the ease of interaction and it's also been really helpful to me on my fitness journey.  I joined a great fitness challenge, find inspiration, and discovered a protein powder I love.  It has also gotten me to buy clothes, but we won't talk specific on that.  I originally just had one with my super secret blog handle, and now that they finally made it easier to toggle between accounts I made a personal one so I could follow friends and family.  It truly is like a time capsule of your life.   Sometimes I fall down the rabbit hole of my own posts just because it's fun to look back on old times.

I have always loved taking pictures, so sometimes I do try for the perfect staged Instagram shot.  I utilize filters.  I take way too many pictures of food and other things that may or may not get posted, but mainly I try to capture the moment.  I am just a regular old run of the mill Instagram user so there are some things I don't understand. 

A photo posted by Cece (@mahoganydrive) on
Are there really people out there who get to spend their entire lives traveling the world on a perpetual vacation?  Like how?  I wanna do that!!

How do some people post their first post one day and then have over 500 followers in a day?  Like how? They have to be buying followers right, but how does that even work?  Second question.  Why is it that important?  Especially if you are not a business.  Who are you?

I get it, people love talented all star cheerleaders and dancers, but how do people get so many followers when they are not celebrity/professional athlete/singer songwriter/public figure type?  Some of them have more followers than Misty Copeland.  Who are theyand why are they so interesting? 

What is up with those Insta accounts that have two posts and a ton of followers?  They don't post.  Are those followers just hoping they will again some day?

What is up with those Insta accounts that have four sexy pics and call me for a date in the bio?  What are the logistics of that? Are the pics fakes? What does she really want and why is she following me? 

How do people get so many selfies and videos at the gym? Personally, I find selfie taking in public kind of embarrassing.  I sneak them in every now and then, but I won't do it if anyone is around!

How do the fitspo girls learn to pose like that?  I get it.  Booty gains is really in right now, and the contortions put it on full display, but try as I might I cannot get my back and waist to contort without looking like I've turned into a statue and stopped breathing.  Mind you, I used to be a gymnast.

Why do people post porn on Instagram?  I found out the hard way while innocently searching hashtag snapchat.

A photo posted by Cece (@mahoganydrive) on

Do people have personal photographers follow them around taking pictures?  They must!  I'm mostly reduced to selfies and candid shots are very few and far between...like maybe when I'm on vacation.

I realize there is this whole thing about having a theme for your Instagram, but how can someone maintain that for years and years on end?  I scrolled an Instagram account back to August 2015 just out of curiosity and aside from food and denim there were literally seven pictures that featured color outside of black, grey or white but the monochromatic theme, went back much further than that. Are those the only colors that you wear?  Do you systematically refrain from posting Instagram pics while you are wearing vibrant colors?  Themed Instagrams are pretty to look at, but it must take a lot of the Insta out of Instagram. 

What is this obsession with white white fur rugs and all white sheets?  I can't help but notice that the flowers, coffee, aviator sunglasses combo is very popular atop white rugs and in the passenger side seats of cars.  Do they really like Starbucks and fresh flowers that much or is it just for Instagram?

Why are so many Instagram accounts starting to look alike?

Why is the list of hashtags on some posts a mile long and sometimes include hashtags that have nothing to do with the picture?  

Why post one picture in a collage of two or three pictures that are exactly the same.  I look for a difference, but nope.  The same exact picture.  

Lastly, how do people always manage to find a perfect brick wall (bonus if it's covered in really cool graffiti) to pose in front of.  I haven't seen any and if I did, I wouldn't have anyone to take a picture of me in front of it!

Okay.  I think that covers it.  I have much to learn.


This is What Relaxation Looks Like

We had such a good time in Temecula that I knew we'd be back.  I just didn't realize how soon.  Two weeks after our first stay MJ was like, I wanna go back, and I was like me too and that is how we found ourselves back at South Coast Winery just a month later.  It was like deja vu except this time we stayed for two nights and I already knew just how much fun it was going to be.

I think we have a winery addiction.

The place 'aint cheap so we went with a Thursday to Saturday stay and enjoyed a four day weekend.  Well, technically 3 1/2 day weekend for me since I insisted on working a half day on Thursday.

It was hot.  So hot!  It's been gloomy in So Cal, but it warmed up significantly making Friday one of the most perfect pool days ever.  It got up to 98 degrees while we were out there.  I don't know how people sit in the sun for hours without cover, but I am not a rotisserie chicken, so an umbrella is absolutely mandatory. When you have cover you're set.  We stayed there for hours taking a dip when it got too hot, and relaxing.  We subsisted on wine, cheese, grapes, and salami during the day.  We drank our complimentary bottle of wine at the pool, and then did a tasting at Ponte Winery next door.  Our favorite wine from there is Late Harvest.  It's a red, but so sweet you can taste the berries.  MJ bought two bottles when we were there last time.  We finally ate some real food at the South Coast Winery Rose Restaurant that night.


We most definitely will make it to Napa eventually, but until then Temecula will do nicely.  The grounds are quiet, and serene, but the mood is festive and fun.  There really isn't that much to do at a winery except drink, eat and relax.  I have no problem with that.


Make Me an Artist and Let Me Drink Wine

I don't have an artistic bone in my body.  I can't sing.  I can't dance, unless you count the adult ballet classes I used to take.  Actually, I was kind of good.  I can't draw, and I'm not crafty.  I can't do anything Pinterest worthy.  Maybe I can write, but that's about it, so when MJ organized a painting class for date night at Pinot's Palette in Liberty Station I was pretty sure it would be a total fail.

Maybe it's paint my numbers.  It has to be, because when I saw what we were supposed to be painting that night I just knew there wasn't any other way it was possible to get people who haven't held a paint brush since middle school art class to replicate a beautiful painting.  Painting the walls in your house doesn't count.  There was no overlay, nothing to trace.  We showed up to rows of blank white canvas and I figured that whatever I did would look like kindergarten finger painting.   My fate was sealed.  There was nothing else to do but drown my sorrows in a glass of wine...or two.

I was too busy drinking and nibbling off of the fancy meat and cheese platter MJ prepared to pay too much attention at first, but eventually I hit my stride.  It went a little something like this.  Sip wine.  Brush paint onto canvas.  Sip wine.  Dip paint brush in water.  Blot.  Brush strokes on canvas.  Sip wine.  Mix black and white paint.  Flip the canvas upside down.  Sip wine.  Add a little bit of white paint to the blue paint.  Eat cheese.  Brush strokes.  Blend.  Sip wine.  Sip wine.  It was so much fun! 
Mine on the left, the one I was copying on the right.  I added more leaves after MJ pointed out my bare branches
The trees were the scariest part, because they would be the center piece of the whole thing.  After adding the first set, MJ's canvas looked really good.  Mine was still looking pretty hopeless, so I drank more wine and persevered.  The music was pumping.  Nothing classical for us budding Picasso's.  It was all Biggie Smalls and Justin Bieber...you know, for inspiration.  By the time we got to dotting on the leaves I was having a lot of fun, and really excited to that it wasn't going to be a hot mess.  All it took was two hours, wine, and step by step instructions to make me feel like a legit artist. You don't have to have any talent whatsoever.  They tell you exactly what to do, you do it, and you will have a decent painting.  It's brilliant!  I'm actually pretty proud of my painting, and I still can't believe I did it.

Now.  What to do with our masterpieces?  They are not allowed in MJ's room, because the contemporary Neo-Classic aesthetic clashes with the Buffalo Bills motif, but I must find a home for them somewhere in our house.


16 First Date Don'ts

I meant to post this a few weeks ago, but I went off on this tangent about how I fell in love with MJ at Souplantation on our 3rd date, and it turned into that post instead.  Then, we went to Temecula Wine Country, and I blogged about that, then work got busy and I was too tired to even read blogs let alone write a post, then the longer you go without blogging the easier it is to...not blog.


I listen to this radio segment called Second Try or is it Good-Bye? on Channel 94.1 that usually comes on during my commute to work.  I don't even get mad about traffic those days because it means I won't miss the conclusion.  If I hear the first part I have to know what happens! The basic idea is that people who have been jilted after a first date call in to see if the radio station can find out why, and/or try to get them a second date.  When it first started, I couldn't believe they were going to embarrass people like that on the radio.  So cringe worthy! So awkward!  I mean, how sad for a person to hear why another person doesn't like them and never wants to see them again blasted over the radio.  I certainly wouldn't have the guts to call in for that information and be publicly rejected.  It's still very awkward when people get all defensive or if it turns into an argument, but I've gotten used to it and now I just  look forward to the juicy details.

I am very fascinated by relationships in general, which is why it's no surprise that I love Married at First Sight.  Never mind how it's gone off the deep end.   I find it so interesting to see how relationships are as unique as the individuals themselves and how each person introduces personality and viewpoints that have such a huge impact on whether the relationship works, or doesn't even start.  First impressions are huge and some things are deal breakers.  The track record is not good.  Most people don't get second dates.

And here you have it, 16 things not to do on a first date as discovered by single people of San Diego.  Single or married, it's a fun read.
1.  Don't talk excessively, non-stop and exclusively about Music.  This probably goes for anything.  It's okay to be passionate about it and excited that you share something in common, but if she has no clue who you are because you made her listen to song after song on your phone and sang a few of them at the top of your lungs you are probably overdoing it. YES
2.  Don't hate excessively on the restaurant that your date chooses.  You never know if it is owned by one of her family members.  Even if it isn't there is no need to make your date feel bad with a running commentary of everything you hate about it. NO
3.  Don't hate excessively on children, even if you are out at night in an adult atmosphere.  I get it.  As a single and ready to mingle kind of person, riding an elevator in your skin tight party dress with a few toddlers is probably not your cup of tea.  A comment is no big deal, but refrain from complaining and expressing how insulted you are over it the entire night.   Kids are part of the world and your date may be part of a gigantic Italian family with kids everywhere, and very accepting of them even if you aren't. NO

4.  Don't order any fun foods that might might get attention at restaurants.  Stay away from sizzling fajitas or big ass Margaritas the size of your head or else your date may think that you are an attention monger just like his ex girlfriend. NO

5.  Don't wear too much over the top make up when he's already seen you at the gym looking perfect as ever au natural.  If you show up with fake lashes, show girl make-up, tons of jewelry, and a short tight dress he might feel like he's dating an entirely different girl than the one he asked out. YES

6.  Don't make too much money and choose a restaurant for the first date that is way out of his price range.  If he's a barista, and you are a lawyer it is not going to work.  He's tried it before and he knows that at some point your friends and family will be talking crap behind his back and he doesn't want to go through that again. NO

7.  Don't spit on the ground excessively.  I think a gal can understand if you are sick with a cold or just happen to have a bit of phlegm that can't wait, but do not spit consistently throughout the date.  It's really a turn off. NO

8.  Don't stalk your date on every form of social media and then talk to him about things that you would only know if you had done that.  It might make a cute story after  you've  been together for a while, but on your first date.  Creepy.  When you express concern over this don't be surprised if he says, "Well, good luck dating people who don't like you." NO

9.  Don't insist that your dog is basically the same thing as a child. Don't claim that you understand her struggle as a single mom because you are single and  you have a dog.  If she insists that it's actually different, don't dig in your heels and say that it's the same exact thing, because you also have to get a babysitter when you go out of town or on a date. NO

10.  Don't talk about all the hot guys you've dated. Name dropping is also not necessary.  You might think it is making you appear more desirable and amazing, but it gives the impression that you are superficial, and it makes him feel insecure and like he couldn't possibly measure up to the hunks that have kissed your lips. NO
11.  Don't invite your ex boyfriend to join you while you are on your first date with another guy, if you happen to see him sitting alone at the bar. NO

12.  Don't assume that just because you blew up the bathroom with your unexpected and totally inconvenient post dinner poops after she invited you into her tiny apartment for a drink that she never wants to talk to you again.  She and her roommate were not laughing at you, and don't  find you the most disgusting person on earth.  They actually had no idea that it even happened.  YES

13.  Don't drop your phone in the toilet, switch to a temporary flip phone, and lose her number. YES

14.  Don't be "just a bartender" when your date is only interested in men with an established career or actively pursuing an established career.  You might find out later, that he is actually in grad school and change your mind when he calls into a radio station to find out why you didn't want a second date, but by then it's too late because he's already extremely offended by your attitude.  NO

15.  Don't spend half the date talking on the phone to your twelve year old daughter who is perfectly capable and self sufficient.  He may think that you don't have room in your life for a man right now.   YES

16.  Don't deny being a smoker when you pick him up in your car that reeks of cigarette smoke.  All the mints in the world won't hide the taste of tobacco when he goes in for a good-night kiss.  Smoking can be a deal breaker and even though you say you would be willing to quit for the right person, you've already shown yourself to be a liar.  NO

Only 5 out of 16 got second dates proving once again that first impressions really are everything.  Make it count. 


When You Can't Make it to Napa

What do you want to do for your Birthday?
I don't know.
It's in two weeks.  What do you want to do?
I don't know.
Then I'm planning something.

The next day I said, consider your Birthday planned, and that is how we ended up in Temecula for a surprise Birthday mini getaway.

I took Friday off because he was off Friday, his Birthday was on a Monday and I can always use a five day weekend.  We hit the road much later than I planned for two reasons.  One, I have packing anxiety.  I packed the night before, but I get this anxiety about forgetting something which makes it hard to leave the house, because once I leave I can no longer throw any last minute items into my suitcase.  Two, somebody waits until the last minute to do everything.  Hint.  That somebody is not me.  Then, he realized he forgot his wallet the minute we got on the highway so we had to turn around.  I should have set a specific time, but I didn't because we really didn't have specific time commitments. 

We got there later than I wanted to, but once we made it we had so much fun.  Like, every single moment was perfection and my only regret is that I got a little more wine drunk than I should have and that we didn't stay an extra night.
Temecula Wine Country
The weather was looking kind of sketchy, but by the time we got into Temecula it was all sun.  We were able to check into our room at South Coast Winery and then, immediately go to the tasting room for our four complimentary tastings.  The second stop was Ponte Winery next door.  Mainly, we were hungry and needed something in our bellies.  We were going to eat then taste, but found out that they had wine flights in the basement lounge so we did it all at once.  We got two wine flights.  We did not need two flights of wine because each pour was a big old glass of wine.  I drank it all, and it did me in, but it was seriously the best wine I've ever had in my life.  I'm partial to sweet wines, which were all amazing, but even the non-sweets were so good.  We went back the next day and took home two bottles. 

I was feeling it.  Even MJ was feeling it.  The yummy burger and chicken sandwich we ordered and split wasn't enough to fully absorb what we were putting down.  We absolutely did not need a 3rd tastings after the huge pours at Ponte, but I planned on three wine tastings and I wanted to do them all.  It was a short walk to Wiens Family Cellars where they do six tasting per set.  We looked at each other. 

Should we split it?  
No.  Let's get our own.  

We did not need our own.  Going into the Jacuzzi right after that allowed the wine to completely marinate my insides.  I brought games, our little Bose sound bar, and cheese/salami/crackers for us to enjoy that night with wine, but it was not happening.  I took a shower and dropped into bed like a pile of bricks.  I will say that being wine drunk feels a lot better than being Tequila drunk.  It was more relaxing than anything else, and I felt fine, but I was so sleepy.  We did get to enjoy the room for a little while in the morning in our matching complimentary white bathrobes, which feels so decadent by the way.  I don't know why, but there is something luxurious about prancing around a hotel in white robes.

The next surprise was the spa.  I haven't had a facial in a million years (not really, less than 1) so I went with that, and I booked a massage for MJ.  It was the perfect way to end our time at the winery.

At the Grape Seed Spa
I really love staying at a Winery.  When we checked in we got a bottle of wine and from now on, I would like a bottle of wine anytime I check in anywhere!  Also, there aren't any silly no alcohol rules.   The winery is there to make wine and people are there because they love it, so you can drink it anywhere you want without feeling like a party animal alcoholic.  Napa is on the must do travel list.  We haven't made it there yet, but Temecula is really the next best thing, since it's right in our backyard just an hour away. It's beautiful and serene, and there is some really good wine to be had.  There are many more wineries out there to visit and we'll definitely be back.  MJ was really happy with his surprise, and we had a great time.  Mission accomplished.

I got so caught up in the planning that I never got around to securing a gift.  I finally asked him.

What do you want for your Birthday?
I don't know.

I should have known better than to ask.