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“I Heart Summer” Tag Questions Answered and a Video for Fun

June 29, 2015

One of the things I love about blogging is meeting some truly awesome people. I have met many fellow bloggers that live in San Diego (one literally right down the street!), and those in other cities and states. Many of these wonderful people have become good friends to me “in real life.”

Two of these awesome bloggers are the ladies behind the Long Story Short video series on YouTube. Megan and Wendy are Southern California moms, both of whom have their own blogs and started doing these videos last fall.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a big YouTube person. Some people can spend hours watching online videos. I am not one of those people. But I LOVE what Megan and Wendy have done, and I get so excited when they release new videos each week.

One of my favorite Long Story Short video themes is the “tag,” which is basically a list of questions each of them answers. The tag is not exclusive to Megan and Wendy or videos, by the way; I’ve answered them here on my blog before too. Most recently they did a “I Heart Summer” tag, which inspired me to answer the questions here on my blog

So now that we’re in the full swing of summer, here are my answers to the “I Heart Summer” tag.


1. Your dream summer vacation. I’m a homebody and don’t vacation much. But Sophie and I recently experienced the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa in Dana Point and I quickly realized it was likely my ideal vacation. Because it was only a mere 40 minutes north of San Diego), it required no air travel (I hate flying!) and it was so beautiful and relaxing! I read my book and enjoyed a summer drink poolside while Sophie swam. We had good food and I enjoyed much-needed relaxation. I would go back in a heartbeat. You can read more about Laguna Cliffs and our trip here on Red Tricycle.)

2. Favorite summer drink. Lemonade

3. S’mores or ice cream? Ice cream

4. Pool or Beach? Pool! I can’t handle sand.

5. Would you rather spend a summer day outside in the pool or inside watching Netflix? This is a tough one given that I am prone to Netflix binges. But over the summer, I’m going with outside by the pool since I love having reading time during the day.

6. Your most fun summer memory? As a kid, it would be the family vacations we took each summer to Lake Tahoe or the East Coast. Or the annual trip to the San Diego County Fair that my dad took me and my sisters to each year. And I’ve always loved celebrating the 4th of July.

7. Favorite summer nail polish? I don’t wear nail polish in summer. Or fall. Or winter. Or spring.

8. Sunglasses or hats? Sunglasses always

9. Favorite summer scent? My Oceanside beach candle from Bath + Body Works

10. Favorite BBQ food? Good, old-fashioned hamburgers and hot dogs

11. Bikinis, tankinis, or one pieces? One piece

12. Summertime book recommendations. I love reading during the summer!I just finished Joyce Maynard’s memoir, At Home in the World (LOVE her books!). I’m working my way through Orphan Train. Next on my list is The Good Girl and The Girl on the Train. Stay tuned for a future post of summer book recommendations!

And check out Long Story Short with Megan and Wendy where they answer the summer tag in the Newlywed Game style.

Your turn to answer the “I Heart Summer” tag! And do you watch YouTube video series? What do you recommend?

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Goodbye School … Hello Summer Bucket List

June 23, 2015

Someone told me that as we (adults) get older, time passes by so much quicker. When I was young and when Sophie was a toddler, I always thought of time as a slow process with the days and months inching by. But now that I have a daughter who is actively experiencing life and going through time with me, life seems to move so much faster. It seems like it was just yesterday she was starting the school year, and now she’s officially done with first grade. I started this blog when she was barely 2, and now I have a second grader!

First grade was an amazing year for her. Her reading took off! Much like her parents, Sophie loves reading and now reads full chapter books. Her vocabulary and writing ability soared in first grade, as did her math skills. I remember at the beginning of the school year, the teacher said first grade is a year of tremendous growth, and WOW, she wasn’t kidding!

1st grade_first and last dayBut as much as Sophie loved school, we are both SO ready for summer! I just love the slower pace and (I’ll be honest) the sleeping in! We just posted our Summer List this weekend. We have been making these summer lists since 2010 and I absolutely love doing it. I hope we continue to make these lists as she grows older (although I’m sure the items will change).

Although we do plenty of lounging around and a few weeks of camp throughout the summer, I like that the Summer List gives us fun things to do during the 11 weeks she’s out of school. I love using the time off to take advantage of fun things in San Diego that we never do.

Here’s what’s in store for this year:

summer list 2015

And even though I don’t stop working over the summer, the days have a slower pace to them and I seem to have a bit more leisurely time. So with that, I have a few summer goals for myself. I plan to read most of the books in my TBR pile. I read more during the summer, probably since we spend a lot of time at pools and I read while Sophie swims.

I also have a goal of organizing all my old printed photos (including purging duplicates and shots of people that are no longer in my life). I want to clean out albums to make room for new prints, and order new shots to hang throughout the house. Even though I store my photos online, I’m still a big proponent of printed photos in albums. We love to look through them every now and then. I also want to organize and purge old office files, deal with my shredding and do more writing and blogging.

If you’re looking for some Summer List inspiration, here’s what we’ve done in the past:

Do you make a summer bucket list? What do you have planned while school is out?

The Many Faces of Facebook Users

June 16, 2015

Facebook — People either love it or think it’s the spawn of the devil. I love using Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, or seeing what my people and their kiddos are doing. (The first and last day of school photos get me every year.) And as an introvert, I especially like that it fosters communication without me needing to talk on the phone.

But over the years of using the social media giant, I have come to realize that Facebook users come in many different types. And several of those folks have some habits that can drive a person a bit batty. Let’s take a look at the different faces of Facebook users. Do you recognize a few on the list?

someecard_Leah Singer
Those who share memes and quotes as subtle messages
 – Let’s call this the passive-aggressive Facebook poster. You know the one — the person who posts those “deep thought” quotes that are actually directed at specific people. I’m all for a good quote now and then, but when they’re quite obviously directed at a person, go ahead and keep your opinion to yourself.

The “Vaguebooker” – Or more commonly known as the bater. The person who will hint at something, but will never come out and say what the situation really is. But it’s just enough to garner sympathy or for the “comment” section to fill up with messages of concern.

The “Happy to my Jewish, Christian, Gay, Mother, Whatever You Are Celebrating Today” – I understand the intent behind these posts are genuine and well-wishing messages. But it comes across as very “othering.” Can we agree that we are all humans and we all celebrate different things? And just say “Happy Hanukkah” instead of “Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends.”

The medical “experts” that post links about the cure to cancer and autism from unscientific publications – Here’s the deal: If there really is a cure for cancer, or a development in the cause of autism, it will be on CNN or in the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, or Scientific America. Not some fringe website with articles full of misspellings that cite universities by incorrect names (most recently I saw University of California David).

Someecard_Leah Singer2The Lurker – The lurker is the person who never or rarely posts anything, but you can bet they are looking at everything you’ve posted. My favorite is the lurker who then commits the social faux pas of saying to you in person, “I saw your kid doing that on Facebook.” If you’re going to lurk, do yourself a favor and play down your stalker tendencies.

[SIDE NOTE: It’s okay to lurk (we ALL do it). But for goodness sake, throw out a like, comment or status update every now and then so it’s not so creepy when you talk about in person what you read on Facebook.]

The person who only posts memes and photos with no personal information – This is similar to the lurker, but instead of not posting anything, they opt for posting funny photos, Mashable quizzes and memes. There’s not a personal photo or shred of originality anywhere on their profile.

Debbie Downer – I feel the life being sucked out of me every time I read a status update from these people. EVERY SINGLE status update a “woo is me” message. They are always being wronged and life is SO hard.

someecard_Leah Singer3Chain letters and the “I don’t think anyone is readying this but …” status update – This is the person who posts the chain messages and the “Sometimes when I’m alone, I put butter all over myself …” and then if you comment or like, you are tagged and have to do the same. To quote Seth and Amy, “Really!?!” Do you think I’m going to share that I lather myself in butter?!

The television show spoiler – There really should be some cardinal rule that you can’t talk about television show plot twists and turns the night the show airs, because us West Coasters always get screwed. Even the well-intentioned “Spoiler Alert” preface doesn’t do much when you go on to say, “I am devastated over tonight’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.” Spoiler alert: We can tell from your update that it’s going to be bad.

People who hate on Facebook – Here’s the simple truth: If you hate it so much, don’t use it.

What type of Facebook user drives you crazy? Did I miss any types here?

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What It’s REALLY Like to Work From Home

May 29, 2015

Three years ago I made the decision to leave a full-time job outside the house to be a freelance writer and run my own business from home. It’s been an amazing three years and I continue to be blessed with new opportunities and challenges every day.

One thing I find fascinating about working full-time from home is how so many people have opinions and assumptions about what I do during the day. For my own amusement – and to dispel all the rumors – I’m taking a few minutes to address these assumptions and tell you what it’s really like to work full-time from home.

1. Don’t you get lonely all day by yourself?
NO! I’m an introvert, so I NEED alone time! I recharge by being alone. I wish I had more alone time.

And the fact of the matter is that I am around people quite a bit. I attend networking events. I chat with parents when I drop off and pick up Sophie at school each day. I teach 23 college students about marketing and brand development once a week. I participate in a weekly Skype meeting with one of my client teams. And I interview people for feature stories I write. Plus I have an extroverted daughter to keep me company every afternoon. That’s about all I can take.

2. It must be nice to have all that time to volunteer at Sophie’s school and go on field trips.
Yes, that is a perk of working at home. However what you don’t see behind my Facebook posts and Instagram photos is me working until midnight the night before or later that evening making sure the work is done. Because my workload is a full-time job, I have to make sure it’s complete on time and deadlines are met. (even if that’s not during daylight hours). You can often  find me on the computer after Sophie goes to bed.

disney checkin
3. You get to attend so many cool events!
Because I am the editor of Red Tricycle SoCal, we do attend a lot of events. And yes, it’s pretty awesome. But as I said earlier, for every hour I spend not sitting at my desk during the day, the work gets done in other hours. And the results of all those awesome events I attend are the feature stories I write for Red Tricycle (like this, this or this one) and other publications. And sick days? Forget it!

4. You get to work in your pajamas all day.
Okay, I’m not going to lie. This is true and a huge benefit. But for me, it’s typically yoga pants, flip flops and a shirt since I take Sophie to and from school.

5. Don’t you get distracted being at home all day?
Working from home is not for everyone. In order to do it well, you have to be disciplined. Luckily for me, I’m a very disciplined and focused person, and I don’t get distracted easily.

I also have my own pressure system every day to get the work done while Sophie’s in school. This isn’t to say that I don’t work when she’s home. But it’s harder to do larger jobs and writing when I want to be present to help Sophie with homework, make sure she practices piano, and take the dogs for their walk.

6. It must be nice to be able to do a load of laundry, clean the house or watch television during the day.
I think my husband can attest to the fact that the house is not magically cleaned when he comes home each day. And laundry? Yeah, no! That happens once a week on the weekends. I can’t waste my precious work hours sans child doing household chores or grocery shopping (no matter how tempting it is to shop without Sophie).

I think it’s difficult for some people to understand what I do all day is my job. It’s NOT a hobby. It’s exactly what I’d do if I was working full-time outside the house. And just like working for someone else, if the work isn’t done, I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, my clients aren’t happy. That means my mortgage, household bills, credit cards, life insurance and everything else doesn’t get paid. I don’t have the luxury of being someone who doesn’t earn an income.

7. Do you get to take summers off?
I’m not a teacher, Supreme Court justice or member of Congress. So no, I don’t get summers off. (And this is not a diss at teachers. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve more than summer off!)

8. You can relax on Fridays.
I wish! I sometimes long for the the Furlough Fridays of my past at homeA view of my desk. (Yes, it’s clean and organized. Clutter gives me anxiety.)

9. You’re a writer, so writing must be really easy for you.
I make my living writing; so yes, I am skilled at it. But it’s not easy and it takes a lot of time.

10. It sounds like you’re really busy! I haven’t heard back from you.
Okay, these comments are not just directed at people who work from home. This type of statement is universal, and it bothers me! Yes, I am very busy and I don’t have a lot of extra time. But we are ALL busy. And as I said before, this is my full-time job where I earn a salary to support my family.

And by the way, I’m not that busy every moment of every day. I just don’t post photos of me in my pajamas, wearing glasses, reading on the couch all weekend, and binge-watching Law & Order: SVU reruns!


I hope you don’t think of this post as a complaint or rant. I absolutely love what I do and that I earn a decent living doing it. But sometimes it’s important to dispel the rumors so people know what it’s really like for me to work full-time from home.

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Erika Robuck is Back With Her New Novel “The House of Hawthorne”

May 12, 2015

I think it’s safe to assume that every reader of American literature has read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter at some point. I remember so clearly reading this masterpiece in my junior year high school English class. I love the story of Hester Prynne, and am still drawn to the story today. It’s fascinating how the references to the novel have continued to penetrate popular culture, movies and literature since it was published centuries ago. I think that’s the sign of a great story, for which we have an equally talented writer to thank.

house of hawthorneI haven’t read many other of Hawthorne’s works, but I’ve always been interested in him as a writer. So I was thrilled that Erika Robuck’s latest novel, The House of Hawthorne, was a personal story about Hawthorne himself.

You may recall I’ve written about Erika and her previous books on this blog. I loved Call Me Zelda, Fallen Beauty and Hemingway’s Girl. She has an incredible knack for creating fascinating stories around these literary giants. I am so lucky that I’ve gotten to know Erika through the wonderful world of social media and blogging. So of course I jumped at the chance to read The House of Hawthorne for this blog.

I know I’ve said this before of her books, but I really think Erika’s novels just keep getting better. And this story stands out for another reason. With her other novels, Erika created a fictional character to tell the story. In The House of Hawthorne, she told the story in the voice and perspective of an actual person, Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, Nathaniel’s wife.

Here’s a look at The House of Hawthorne (from Penguin):

The unlikely marriage between Nathaniel Hawthorne, the celebrated novelist, and Sophia Peabody, the invalid artist, was a true union of passion and intellect.

Beset by crippling headaches from a young age and endowed with a talent for drawing, Sophia is discouraged by her well-known New England family from pursuing a woman’s traditional roles. But from their first meeting, Nathaniel and Sophia begin an intense romantic relationship that despite many setbacks leads to their marriage. Together, they will cross continents, raise children, and experience all the beauty and tragedy of an exceptional partnership. Sophia’s vivid journals and her masterful paintings kindle a fire in Nathaniel, inspiring his writing. But their children’s needs and the death of loved ones steal Sophia’s energy and time for her art, fueling in her a perennial tug-of-war between fulfilling her domestic duties and pursuing her own desires.

Spanning the years from the 1830s to the Civil War, and moving from Massachusetts to England, Portugal, and Italy, The House of Hawthorne explores the tension within a famous marriage of two soulful, strong-willed people, each devoted to the other but also driven by a powerful need to explore the far reaches of their creative impulses. It is the story of a forgotten woman in history, who inspired one of the greatest writers of American literature.

I highly recommend you add The House of Hawthorne to your “to be read” pile. It’s a fascinating story and really gives you an understanding of the man behind one of America’s most popular and pervasive stories. Thanks, Erika, for another amazing read!

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The House of Hawthorne to review for this blog post.  All opinions are my own and I only endorse books that I am proud to recommend to others.

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