Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Reintroduction!

It has been a while since I introduced myself here, and lots of new things have happened since then, so I figured it was about time! For those of you who don't know, here is a little bit about me!

About Me

I grew up in a small town and loved it. I was able to find a love for all things outdoors as well as learn to enjoy staying inside during the long winters. I almost always have books and sneakers at the ready and like to dabble in many other hobbies.  I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and strive to live my faith on a daily basis.

About Us

Brett and I were married in September 2011 and it just keeps getting better. We graduated from Brigham Young University (him with an MPA, me in Secondary Education) and are living in Southern California. We both love the Northwest and were surprised to end up in California, but we love it and the life we are creating here. We like to watch movies, hike, camp, NBA basketball, experiencing new food, and exploring our new surroundings.

About Lovin’ Lee Life

I created Lovin’ Lee Life as a newlywed as a way to show my family what we were up to. My new sisters-in-law were also blogging about their families a lot at the time, so I have to admit that it was partially to fit in with them. Then I made a friend in real life who turned out to be pretty into blogging  and I was inspired. Through her I discovered this whole world of blogging and decided that I wanted in. I have loved finding so many different views, talents, and inspiring messages and hope that I can do my part to add to that collective community.

Here you can find a record of all things pertaining to our life, particularly how we are creating a life to love! Right now that means a mix of our adventures, my creative outlets, some books, and some fitness. This is a work in progress and I am excited to see where the roads of the future take me, my family, and this little piece of the world.

What else would you like to know? Ask away !

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New Apartment Tour

Now that we have been here for a while, I figured it was time to finally show our new apartment that we love so much. We have been so used to tiny, old, and impossible to keep clean college town apartments so we are absolutely loving all the space and windows this place has to offer! We are glad to feel so comfortable in a home that has space to grow with us for the next few years as we start out in this post-college stage of our lives. But enough of me talking, now you just need to see it!

When we moved we found this couch set at Goodwill for on $50 and they looked in great shape, so we naturally snagged them right up! They did however, pull the green color out of the wall paint (which started as a yellowish tan), so now we are on “control the green” actions. We are slowly accumulating some new pillows and a throw blanket to toss in there to break up some of that monotony.
Navy, Green, and Cream Bedroom

We are obsessed with the space in this bedroom! Since we now have a second room we can put our office things in, it's nice to have the the things in our master bedroom only be the things that belong in a bedroom. And the closet was big enough that we were able to hid Brett’s dresser in there so that it isn’t as obvious that none of our furniture matches! Right now the second bedroom just has a lone bookshelf, file cabinet, and desk. Its functional when we need to work on something, but mostly just open enough to fit a queen sized air mattress for visitors.

We have always wanted textured Navy bedding so this comforter was perfect. We focused on just getting some simple pillows that can help us transition into some lighter bedding details, like a bed skirt and some lighter accent pillows. The picture above the bed brings us back to our Pacific Northwest roots, so that was a nice touch of home to go with the navy, green and white theme we are looking for.

Overall we could not be more happy with our new home! We had to take a leap of faith with signing this place since we never got a chance to look at it while we were in Utah, but it has paid off! Over the next couple years I am sure some more small details will change and start to unify the different rooms, but for now we are settled in, and that is a wonderful feeling.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dining Table Makeover

Last summer I walked in my front door and something was different. After a minute I realized that the wooden card table we had set up in our temporary Seattle apartment had been replaced by a wooden table with a black top. Turns out that Brett saw it on the side of the road with a free sign and decided it was perfect for us. It was more solid and stable than the normal table we used, so why not?
A Simple Table Makeover

Well now that we have moved to a long term home and had the space on the balcony to tackle this kind of multi-day project we have refinished our dining room table! It took a lot longer than we thought it would, but we are really happy with the result, especially when we consider that we had no idea what the wood looked like underneath the black paint.

The biggest pain with this project came from stripping the old paint and varnish off before we started sanding. Neither of us had done this before so when I bought some stripper I just sort of picked one. And it didn’t work well. We thought this was because we didn’t use enough and let it sit for a long time, so we bought some more and tried again. Sadly, this left us with a table covered in paint and varnish that was now gummy, but still not coming off. The third time we went to the store we got a brand that worked wonders! It was a thick gel that spread out and as it peeled away the layers it would turn white so it was a relief to see that it was working after the previous days’ failures.

By the time we got it sanded (using a friend’s power sander, because who wants to sand that whole thing by hand!?) we were happy with the wood we found underneath. It turns out that the top and legs were actually the same color and that the top, while pieced together with different scraps, was still sturdy and looked a little vintage, not trashy.

With the white cabinets, light walls, and lots of windows in our kitchen and dining area, I wanted the table to stay a lighter color so we just did one layer of a light stain before all the coats of sealant. Eight days after we first took the table apart we finally got to set it back up and we are happy with the result. We gambled on the free roadside table and now have something that should be able to last us for years as our family grows.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Summary from Goodreads: After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.
The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

My Thoughts: I liked this book, even though it is sad, it is touching. This book does a great job of showing that every person has their own battle to fight, whether it can be seen on the surface or not. I also liked the way this book ended, it is neither particularly sad or particularly happy, just simply the logical result of choices made by a collection of people, but it feels right. That is probably what I loved most about this book, that although it was fiction, it was still logical and in the realm of possibility. This is also the kind of historical fiction novel that I like, bringing decades and lifestyles to life and connecting them to our more recent history. I finished it with a great sense of awe as to how far medicine and technology has advanced since the 1920s.  Overall I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

How I Got Back Into Fitness, and You Can Too!

image via
I absolutely love fitness. For most of my life staying fit and active was a top priority, then when I first came to college it fell to the bottom, nearly off, the list. When I married Brett I started getting the little nagging feelings that I should be active again. He runs every day and plays basketball as often as possible, but since I thought running was the most boring thing in the world and I wasn't playing sports or taking fitness classes anymore I didn't know how I wanted to get back into it. After I found out that my genetics necessitate that I exercise more than a normal person I realized it was time to get as committed to fitness as I had been in the past. So how did I do that? What do I do now?

Step One: Realize that You Are Starting Over
This was the hardest part for me. I knew where I was just a few years ago, and it was hard for me to jump into an activity and realize how much stamina and strength I truly had lost. Since I had started playing sports and hiking when I was just a kid, I had never truly been through the process of getting in shape. Since realizing that starting over again is better than not, I had to remind myself that small steps are necessary.

Step Two: Find Something Enjoyable, but Efficient
For me, the most efficient exercise is running. When I am in an exercise rut I hate taking the time to do a routine for almost no effect. I like to feel my workout when I am done. Beginner's yoga alone just doesn't usually cut it for me by itself. The problem is that nobody who isn't already a runner actually likes running. I was lucky enough to like hanging out with my husband (and that he liked me) so I just started jumping in on his runs. For a while we would go on a run, then he would go on another without me, but now I have the stamina built back up and we do the same workout.

Since it took a while for me to enjoy the act of running I mixed in other exercise routines. My favorites are yoga, body weight, and pilates home workouts. I have a couple favorite sites that I use, for yoga I love Yoga with Adrianne, and for more the pilates, body weight type home workouts I like Jillian Michaels videos and Cassey Ho at Blogilates. Like I said before, I am not to the point with my yoga yet where I can say that it is a full days worth of exercise.

Step Three: Make a Routine
This is the easiest thing to do, and also makes the rest easier. I know that every weekday Brett and I will be going on a run first thing in the morning. This is helpful for me because when the alarm goes off in the morning and he gets up I know that if I don't get up I'm letting myself down for nothing but lazy sleep. Three days a week I will also do something supplemental in the afternoon. Usually this is yoga, but sometimes rotates through lifting and pilates. I have found that yoga really helps with my running by keeping me limber and fighting the stiffness. If you are anything like me I also recommend that you make a copy of your schedule that you can check off, whether it is a hard copy checklist or something electronic. Checking off your activity is so satisfying and can be even more motivation.

Step Four: Stick it Out
This ties back into Step One a little bit. I love the way fitness is an infinite progression if you stick it out. This also means that if you aren't consistent, and don't try long enough you won't get the chance to notice the progression. My biggest motivator when I run is to think about how there is no way I would have walked as far as I just ran, even if it was to school or for a desperately needed grocery item, and yet I just ran that by my own free will and actually enjoyed it. If there are weeks (like when I travel) when I slack off on running, the next week I have regressed to some degree. So stick it out. Its easier to keep going that start over, again.

Step Five: Remember, this is Supposed to be Fun!
Nothing makes fitness more difficult than thinking of it as a chore. I will have days where I can't run 2 miles without thinking I will die, but the next day I run 4 like its no problem. Fitness is so mental. Yes, you are supposed to push yourself and its going to be a struggle more than you might like, but that's how it works. Focus on the positives rather than the negatives. I know that I might feel tired for a little bit, but after a good workout and a shower I always feel more awake, centered, and ready to accomplish what needs to be done. Endorphins and energy are great motivation.

So there it is, how I got back into shape in the last year and plan to keep moving forward! Anything else you guys can think of? What motivates you to keep going on the days when you really want a break?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Crocheted Baby Blankets

As has already been evidenced several times here on this blog, I enjoy crocheting to pass the time. The amount always picks up in the winter, if I’m sick, or in the recent cases I’m living apart from Brett for a month and friends are having babies. In the last couple months I have been able to knock out two of the four baby blankets I wanted to do and just picked up the yarn for number 3. The funny thing about a project of this size is that it feels like I can work on it for hours and not see any result. Then suddenly I look down and have something beautiful laid across my lap.

I know it's a little old fashioned, and tedious, and these days isn’t any cheaper than buying a blanket as a gift, but I enjoy doing it. To me there is something special about seeing a gift that I have worked so hard on be used and loved. My mom was given a blanket crocheted by my great-grandmother and as I got older she was the one who taught me how. Now I feel like I carry the torch, keeping up the tradition of weaving my love into these gifts for people I hold dear.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thoughts on Moving to Orange County, California

Now that we have settled into a little groove here in our new location I wanted to share some of the thoughts we have had during this process. If you would have asked us seven months ago what part of the country we thought we would be living in we would have told you, “We are willing to go anywhere but are trying to go back to the Pacific Northwest.” And we got half of that, we still live on the Pacific Coast, but a little farther south than we ever imagined.

When came across this job posting it was perfect, exactly what Brett wanted to do, but we had no idea where San Clemente, California even was. After we looked it up and saw that it was the southernmost city in Orange County and right on the ocean we laughed, joking about how funny it would be. That there is no way the universe would align to have us move to Southern California when we had both been so drawn to the Northwest. But just like everyone does when they are graduating and looking for a job, Brett applied anyway. And here we are. The entire process was surprisingly easy, a whirlwind of change for sure, but everything went forward so smoothly and with such perfect timing that we had to acknowledge that we were meant to come here.

Even though we knew what we were doing, after hours and hours, turning into days and weeks of research, prayer, fasting, and talking it out, it was funny to see the reactions of those around us who were hearing the news for the first time. The most common reaction we got when people found out where we were moving was, “Um, you know it's expensive to live there, right?” To which we would laugh and say we did. Other times we would come back with “You know that we will be paying California bills with a California salary, not California bills with a Utah salary, right? And that the cost of living is more complicated that just how much gas is?” But that was only if we were feeling really sassy.

The next one we got was how terrible it would be to live in a city. The great thing about this part of California is that it's not really. We are right in the heart of the suburbs. Neighborhoods of subdivisions, schools, and parks in all directions. A suburb is where we would have ended up in the Northwest anyway in Seattle or Portland, so to us, a suburb is a suburb. My favorite part about our location is actually the variety of urban development we have access to. From our house we can get to the beach in 10 minutes, the “city” in 30, the airport in 30, expansive wilderness areas in 10, and the mountains in 30. We have so many options. We can still be the outdoorsy people we always have been, but we can also go to a MLB game, or NBA game, or a mall, or a play, or a movie, other things we love. We have found the perfect middle ground between urban and rural living, at least in my opinion. And honestly, I rarely get on the freeway here. Its not like I have to go to the heart of LA to buy groceries, it's still right down the street.

I guess what it comes down to is attitude. We are in a new place. A place that was previously foreign to us. A place where we didn’t know a soul. A place that was so different from anything we had ever encountered. And yet, with planning, research and an attitude of excitement we are crossing all these worries off our list. And while we explore we are falling in love with Orange County. This is our new home.

Friday, May 15, 2015

San Clemente Beach Trail

One of the first places we went in Orange County was the San Clemente Beach Trail. Brett’s office is in San Clemente, so we started our house hunt their and radiated out. When we were here looking for apartments in January I flew in long after dark and didn’t get a chance to see all the beauty of the area, so first thing the next morning we went straight for this trail to do our run. It was gorgeous.

The trail is about 2.5 miles one way, depending on when you want to stop. Extending to the south the trail continues, but is more narrow and uneven. The beach seems to go on forever. We have been here several times, both before work on a weekday and around noon on a Saturday, and both times we have enjoyed ourselves. Obviously there were more people on the Saturday, but we were still able to run with plenty of room to pass people on the wide path.

About halfway up the trail is the San Clemente Pier. This thing is massive and leads out a quarter mile into the ocean. The pier has restaurants and benches, and offers a great view of all the surfers that seem to flock to San Clemente Beach.

To the north, the trail meets up with the train station and comes to a very obvious end giving you the chance to head back to wherever you started from. Overall this is one of our favorite spots so far. We love how accessible it is and the fact that it feels more like a local hangout place (similar to Green Lake in Seattle) than a tourist beach.

I can promise you this, we will be back again. And again, and again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Summary from Goodreads: Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructed universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

My Thoughts: To be honest, I was disappointed in this book. I feel like it was misrepresented as a mystery novel and was somewhat of a letdown because of this. The idea behind the book, an Autistic boy trying to find out who killed a dog in the neighborhood, really intrigued me and I was excited to follow along from this unique perspective. However, not far into the book the killer very unceremoniously announces themselves ending the mystery almost as it is beginning. I assumed there would be a twist later to keep the mystery going, but nothing else happened in that regard. The remainder of the book focused on the struggles of the boy to relate those around him, reading emotions, and completing seemingly simple tasks. If the book would have been advertised as the everyday struggles of a boy struggling with Autism during some dramatic events I really think I would have enjoyed it more, but because I was always looking for the next part of the mystery I wasn’t able to enjoy what was there. Right now, I will have to give this book a 2 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Aliso Summit Trail-Orange County

Last weekend we decided to do some outdoor exploring our new area by going on a hike just a short distance from our house. Where we live is interesting because it is all at once city, suburb, and outdoor friendly and we can get to any of these options within 30 minutes. We both love being outside, so this works for us. More thoughts on this are coming in a later post.

We decided to start simple, finding a nearby lookout point and taking in all the scenery. Aliso Summit Trail was perfect for this and started just a 5 minute drive away. The trail starts on a ridge next to a neighborhood that overlooks the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and then works its way farther out the ridge to a lookout in the park.

We did a shorter version of the hike, starting at the trail head found on Talavera Dr. in Laguna Niguel. This made the trail just under a mile (one way) to the top of the lookout. For a full version of the hike, see this link. This shorter version was perfect for us to do on an evening like we did and made it possible to view the sunset from the lookout and make it back to the car before it was too dark to see.

Being able to get out to the top of this ridge and see the entire area where we lived was great for us. We could see the ocean, city, and mountains in the distance and the Wilderness park that is so nearby. We can't wait to keep exploring these areas and getting to know the little landmarks that make up our new home!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

101 in 1001 Update

Well I figured it had been long enough since I had talked about the 101 in 1001 goal list that I made about this time last year. Some of these things have been more difficult to accomplish that I planned. And with others there are several that I am working on all at once. Whatever the reason some of these have not yet been accomplished, it is nice to celebrate what has been accomplished and get a friendly reminder to myself of how much farther I have to go. Some of these goals might need to be edited slightly based on the fact that we are now living somewhere we didn’t expect a year ago, but they are all still accomplishable. It was also fun to go through the list and find ideas for posts! There have been so many things happen in the last year that have blessed our lives and I am excited to share more details about some of these things in the future.

So here it is, my updated list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. So far I have accomplished 38% of the things on my list, which is right on schedule.  

start: April 23, 2014
end: January 18, 2017
completed: 38%


1. Decide 101 things (April 28, 2014)
2. Finish and upload my blog remodel (April 28, 2014)
3. Send 30 handwritten notes/letters
4. Organize my music
5. Get a passport
6. Write in my journal twice a month for a year
7. Put $10 in savings for each completed thing
8. Reach 100 blog followers
9. Read The Book of Mormon
10. Read the Doctrine and Covenants
11. Read the Pearl of Great Price
12. Read the Old Testament
13. Read the New Testament
14. Keep a gratitude journal
15. Blog every day for a month
16. Attend the temple once a month for a year (1/12)
17. Be featured on another blog
18. Make a blog calendar (done March 1, 2014)
19. Get a job for our Seattle summer move
20. Meet up with an old friend
21. Make a new friend


22. 2014 Lee Family Reunion (April 2014)
23. Take family pictures in Seattle
24. Have Family Home Evening every week for 6 months
25. Go on a date twice a month for six months
26. Celebrate 3 years of marriage
27. Celebrate 4 years of marriage
28. Celebrate 5 years of marriage
29. Create a working list of names, addresses, and birthdays
30. Start a new tradition
31. Take an updated Tingey family picture
32. Spend time with every sister and sister-in-law individually
33. Organize something nice for my parents
34. Organize something nice for my in-laws


35. Move to Seattle for summer internship (May 2014)
36. Move to our first semi-permanent place
37. Make a picture gallery wall
38. Plan and host a dinner party
39. Pick a wedding picture to enlarge
40. Have houseplants
41. Create a home library/office
42. Stick to a weekly cleaning schedule for 3 months
43. Display some of Sierra's pictures


44. Visit Camas
45. Visit Rathdrum
46. Go on a beach vacation with Brett
47. Hike Mt. Timpanogos
48. Visit the Ape Caves at Mt. St. Helens
49. Visit Glacier National Park
50. Go to a Mariners Game
51. Visit Arizona
52. Visit a Museum
53. Go 3 camping trips
54. Go on 10 hikes
55. Fly on an airplane again
56. Go to a farmer's market
57. Hike the "Y" with Brett
58. Go to a rodeo
59. Go into Canada
60. Swim in the ocean
61. Ride a Ferry
62. Watch a meteor shower


63. Make an indoor herb garden
64. Sew a bedspread
65. Crochet a blanket
66. Print photo books up to present
67. Make a Lee Family sign
68. DIY 3 other projects
69. Buy a nice camera
70. Learn how to edit pictures


71. Get cholesterol down to health levels
72. Run a 5k
73. Run a 10k
74. Run a half marathon
75. Try a regular yoga schedule for 3 months
76. Follow low cholesterol diet until Anniversary
77. Re-evaluate cholesterol diet after doctor appointment
78. Finish #1800 minute challenge
79. Wake at 6 every day for two weeks
80. Not drink soda for 6 months
81. Whiten my teeth


82. Buy at least one book from Powell's Books
83. Start Student Teaching
84. Finish Student Teaching
85. Graduate from BYU
86. Start drawing again
87. Read 50 new books
88. Reread 5 favorite books
89. Start a book club
90. Memorize a poem
91. Read the Lord of the Rings
92. Learn a new skill


93. Make a meal from Pike's Market
94. Go to 5 Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives restaurants
95. Consolidate and organize recipes
96. Try 20 new recipes
97. Create my own recipe
98. Decorate a cake for someone
99. Cook my way through a book/blog
100. Create a good menu planning system
101. Plan a month's menu and stick to it

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review: What Alice Forgot

Summary from Goodreads: "Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over."

My Thoughts: It's a funny thing actually, but the more I think about this book the more I like it. At first I was feeling a little let down, thinking that it had been over-hyped, which is still probably true. But now I have talked about it with a few people, thought about it some more, and I am liking it. Its a book about taking responsibility for your actions, thoughts, and priorities. It really makes a person stop and think about what you would think of the life you are living if a version of you 10 years ago was to step in and take over. What I found to be most interesting wasn't the main character of Alice, but the side characters who were able to help her find who she was while also allowing Alice to fix offences of the past.  While it is growing on me, I still feel like I wanted something more from it, so I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars.