North of Montana

Last year when we moved into our last apartment, we looked at is as a big step up.

We were moving North of Wilshire.

North of Wilshire.  North of the tourist madness.  A nice, quieter neighborhood where we could sort of be domestic without becoming too boring.  A tree-lined street where we could still walk to the city-like atmosphere of Wilshire, but we could also be just far enough away from it so that you couldn’t hear the traffic.

If you know Santa Monica, you also know that “North of Wilshire” means “South of Montana”.

Montana Avenue, which is like Santa Monica’s answer to Rodeo Drive.  Lots of cute little shops and stores and boutiques that I can’t really afford.  Lots of celebrity sightings.  Lots of Brentwood soccer moms at their soccer mom lunches while the nanny has the kids.  Lots of amazing cars and beautiful purses.  Lots of great people watching.

On the other side of Montana there aren’t apartment complexes.  There are gorgeous, multi-million dollar homes.  There is amazing architecture and unbelievable landscaping.  (see TRex)  Just across that one road, there is this other neighborhood that is fun to walk through, but completely out of reach.

Until I realized we just moved there.

Now, technically, we are still on Montana.  Not really North of Montana.  But our apartment is on the North side of the street, so I’m just going to go ahead and lump ourselves in with the wealthy producers and lawyers and doctors and whatever who live on this side of the street.

Brad and I are going to bring a little flavor to this side of the tracks.

Watch out.  We’re North of Montana now.


Movin’ On Up

with Gibson

The best word to describe our new apartment?  Calm. Even being on a busier street in Santa Monica and always having cars going by, this new place is absolute calm.  And after the nightmare that our last place turned into, … Continue reading

The Last of the Shy Cherry Family Meals

dinner at the Mathews

I remember a year ago moving into this apartment, we thought we had hit the jackpot. We loved our building.  We loved our courtyard.  We loved our landlord.  We loved our neighborhood. We had an amazing patio where everyone grew … Continue reading

I See a Red Room and I Want It Painted Shy Cherry

I think you know you love your apartment when you start painting.  That is when you know you’re gonna be sticking around for a bit.  Especially when you paint a room red.  That’s commitment.  Because, let’s face it, that’s never gonna get painted with enough coats to get it back to the boring white the rest of the apartment is.  When you move out you have some serious work ahead of you.

I guess I also know plenty of people who have painted their apartments because they DIDN’T love it.  You know, to try to make it a bit more livable.  Take my sister’s creepy senior year college house.  A little bright green paint and some sweet curtains made that room awesome.  And not creepy at all.  Nice work, Nicki.

But I have never painted a room.  Probably because, as mentioned before, Brad and I don’t tend to stay put very long.  Seven apartments in four years?  Four broken leases. (We found suitable replacements EVERY time.  We are still good tenants!)

We were apartment commitment-phobes.

But this apartment is different.  I really, really love it.  So yesterday I convinced Brad to go to the paint store with me and spend our night off together painting our dining room.

We showed up at the paint store knowing we wanted red.  And I insisted that we get a color with a food name.  That’s a reasonable request for a chef and a foodie painting their dining room, right?

The red genre turned out to be full of foods.  No problem here.

Chili peppers, crabs, tomatoes, lobsters, beets, raspberries, apples… A lot of foods are red.  We almost went “Rhubarb” until we found “Shy Cherry”.  Who can resist Shy Cherry?

For some reason we Googled “Shy Cherry” and found this cute little shy guy.  Shy Cherry was it.

So we found our perfect food paint color and then let the guy mix it up.  This is when I got a little silly.  Don’t give me ten minutes to do nothing in a paint store.  I’ve already gone through all the ridiculous paint names.  Now I’m gonna move on to the hardware part of the store.  Brushes, sponges, hats, sanders, and… painting suits.

I found a very affordable painting outfit to ensure that I would be paint free at the end of our adventure as well as look incredible glamorous the entire time.  And although Brad thought I was crazy, I knew looked great.

It was a bit hard to smile with those googles on.  Makes me feel for happy scientists.  It can’t be easy to be them.

Then, just for good measure, I tried out some dance moves.

Most absolutely dance worthy.  Best $8 I’ve ever spent.

Oh, we did a little bit of painting, too.  I even got fancy and paired my red paint with red wine.


By the end of the night we had a dining room that is not shy at all.  With only a few little mistakes that need covering up.  And one trash bag full of red stained paper towels and floor coverings that only mildly made it look like we had just murdered someone in our apartment.

Oh, and because I love food and a girl’s gotta eat, Brad then made me the most amazing Shrimp and Grits EVER.  With a chorizo sauce and cilantro.  I make a mean Shrimp and Grits, and I will never make it again because now I know Brad’s is 658689680 times better than mine.  Truth.

My contribution was whisking the Cheddar Cheese into the Grits, drinking more red wine, and wearing my paint outfit most of the rest of the night.  I think I did a great job.  And our dining room looks incredible.  Thanks, Shy Cherry.

Happy Brad and Kelly day off!!

My Dog Gibson

I decided last night that there are many reasons that I love our new apartment.  But reason #1?

Gibson likes it.

And not only does she like it, she likes to be outside of it.  And this, my friends, is a HUGE deal.

If this confuses you in any way, let me introduce you to our dog, Gibson.

Gibson is a very special dog in the most sarcastic of ways.  Brad and I found Gibson (then Truffles) on, where we had sort-of-kind-of been looking for a dog but not really.  Then we came across this picture:

I mean, seriously.  Isn’t she adorable?  I even still have the link saved because those pictures are so freaking adorable.

The only thing that scared us a little was #1 the mention of St Bernard in the mix and #2 the size of our one bedroom apartment.  But we were in love – with each other and with this “Truffles” – so we called and made an appointment to go check out this adorable little mutt.

We drove out to some house in the middle of the woods way out in the middle-of-nowhere Orlando (yes, that exists), and were greeted by this tiny puppy who was absolutely terrified of us.  Kim, the woman who runs In Harmony With Nature Animal Haven, practically had to drag her over to meet us.  She explained that the whole litter of puppies had been to three or four different puppy mills and had been miraculously saved each time.  In their 4 months of life, they’d had a pretty rough go of it.  “Truffles” was one of three of the puppies left at her shelter to be adopted to good homes.  She was the smallest of the litter and definitely the most shy, but she seemed to perk up a little around her brother.

Then a woman in a full spandex bicycling suit (I will never forget this detail – wtf?!?) came out with another puppy who looked exactly like “Truffles”, but had long, shaggy hair.

Meet Mr. Freeman, whose hair was even more ridiculous than this picture in person.

Instantly, “Truffles” perked up a little and started sniffing around and playing with her brother.  It was like she forgot that scary strangers were trying to pet her.  And Mr Freeman, besides having a really fantastic name, was hilarious.  We wanted to get them both, but couldn’t afford it and REALLY didn’t have the space for two St Bernard mixes.  And just to seal the deal, because I am a terrible impulse buyer, Mr Freeman got heart worm pretty bad in one of the puppy mills and was not up for adoption until he was all better.


We may have been a little leery to adopt such a shy dog until right before we left, Gibson built up some courage and gave me a little kiss on the face.  I was hooked.  (Nice work, girl) We left a check with Kim and rushed off to Target to get all the necessary puppy things.  Oh and “Truffles” had to go.  Brad named her Gibson,after the guitars obviously.

When we got Gibson back to our apartment, she was incredibly shy.  Her favorite place was under the coffee table and she was terrified of the busy city street that we lived on.  It was almost a shame she was so cute because everyone wanted to pet her and play with her, but she was so scared.  We started prefacing everything with “Sorry, she’s really shy” so people wouldn’t feel bad about themselves when this cute little puppy didn’t like them.

We took her to dog parks, we had a lot of people over to visit, I took her on runs, we socialized her every way we knew how and every way Google told us to.  But our dog went outside to do her business and come back in.  And when anyone other than Brad or me was at our apartment, she would do her own thing.

Gibson is four years old now and has lived in as many apartments (7) and states (3) as Brad and I have together.  It was a lot to ask of a shy dog to get on a plane and fly to California, but she did it.  And she was even delivered to us at LAX in her crate on a forklift.  True story.

It’s taken a loooong time, but Gibs is definitely starting to come out of her shell.  Inside the apartment, she is neurotic and hyper and loves to play with anyone who will play with her and one of her toys. She’s still cautious around new people and afraid of almost everything, but she tends to trust who we trust and will get into a good game of tug-of-war wherever she can with whoever is willing.  She barks at and chases reflections of lights on the walls and ceiling, she loves Brad’s cooking and the dog park, she keeps my feet warm in bed every night, and she even has a few tricks up her paws.

But she still hates walks.

Which is why last night, when she walked confidently ahead of me down the block in front of our new apartment building, I just followed and let her do her thing.  Maybe Gibson has found a neighborhood that suits her.  Maybe this block has a good vibe.  Whatever it is, I immediately knew I was in love with this new apartment when my scared little Gibson felt like exploring.  It was worth every stressful minute of moving the day after getting back from vacation and every penny we’ve had to (and are going to have to) pinch to make this work.

Oh, and Mr Truffles?  We actually went back about a month after getting Gibson and decided if he was still there we were getting him.  When we got there, a mom and her son were packing him up to take back to Tallahassee and renaming him Reilly.  It is probably our biggest regret, especially because Mr. Freeman is a WAY cooler name than Reilly.

PS.  And she’s totally NOT a St Bernard.  WTF??

Apartment Number Seven

Hip hip hooray!!

A year and a half ago, Brad and I had to make a quick move from one apartment to another here in Santa Monica on seriously limited funds. We found a decent little one bedroom with a pool and a patio and we settled in.

Fun fact?

Brad and I have lived in three states at six different addresses in four years. Two in Florida, two in New York, and two in California. We are really good at moving.

The apartment we are in now marks the first time we have completed a lease together EVER. We actually didn’t know what to do when our year was up and we didn’t want to move. That’s how nomadic we are. Sorry, how nomadic we WERE until L.A. But when apartments cost what they cost out here in Santa Monica, you tend to stay put with what you can afford. Two words – rent control. Two more words – we’re poor.

So I am excited to tell you that we got approved for a much nicer apartment in a much nicer area today! And although we have terrible timing and will be moving two days after getting back from a ten day vacation, this is the best possible thing to happen.

A few things we can now say goodbye to:

  • Moldy walls
  • Trash truck earthquakes every Monday at 7am
  • Cockroaches
  • Bedroom walls with no insulation
  • Garbage disposals you can’t put lettuce in
  • Leaking bathtubs
  • Hearing our neighbors conversations through the walls

Sigh. Of. Relief.

Our new place (!!!) has huge French windows, built in storage and bookshelves, a dining room, a front and a back patio, and it’s 8 blocks from my restaurant. Goodbye Jillian Michaels, this girl is gonna get her exercise by walking to work! No more crazy push-up jumping jacks.

Not that I was really keeping up with that recently anyway…

So I drop off the security deposit tomorrow and get the keys the day we get back from the East Coast! Hopefully soon I will be writing about how amazing our new apartment life is and throwing fantastic dinner parties for you all to enjoy.