Interweb Finds: Houses filled with sand, traveling solo & more

black and white DTLA

Happy Sunday, y’all! How was everyone’s weekend? Mine got off to an early start with a party of sorts at the Brewery Art Complex I blogged about a few weeks ago, upping my cool factor a notch. The rest of the weekend was spent sleeping entirely too late and getting oddly psyched about cleaning. Today, we’ll be giving our garden some much-needed love with some pebbles and plants. It was such a sad little garden when we moved in, so I can’t WAIT to do a before and after blog post when it’s done.

And now, for the interweb finds!

Take a look at these amazing self-portraits by a shy photographer. Such originality.

Stick it to the man! The Occupy Wall Street movement spent just $400,000 to eliminate $14 million of a bunch of Americans’ debts. Here’s how.

Erika has a great roundup of handmade Etsy holiday cards. Support small businesses!

To avoid the high cost of renting in New York City, some people are opting to live in RVs parked on the city streets.

This house tour of a converted church is incredible.

These sand-filled homes in Africa are like something out of a dream or surrealist painting.

Bob Dylan’s interactive music video for “Like a Rolling Stone” and Pharrell Williams’ music video for “Happy” are both incredibly addictive, innovative, interactive, and just plain fun.

Finally, Rachel’s post on solo adventures resonated with me SO MUCH. I might just have to drive up into the mountains alone one of these days.


And that’s all for your Thanksgiving week web finds! I just have one class on Monday, and then I have the next six glorious days to spend in my PJs, get work done, make a Thanksgiving dinner for two, and relax.

What are YOU looking forward to this week? Leave a comment telling me what you’re most thankful for, and I’ll include it in a Thanksgiving-themed post later this week.

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3 months in L.A.: How I see money differently

Mo' money mo' problems

Before I moved to California, I had a lot of savings, very little debt, few financial responsibilities, and a restlessness for something more.

Now that I’ve been here for three and-a-half months (where does the time go?), my savings are dwindling, I’m thousands of dollars in debt, I’m paying most of my own bills, and that restlessness has morphed into general anxiety. I think I’m finally an Official American Adult.

Needless to say, the way I think about and deal with money has changed drastically in a few short months—which is a good thing, because I don’t take it for granted anymore. Still, money can be a challenge when you’re living in a new city. Part of the point of moving to a new city is actually experiencing the new city. Luckily, we’ve managed to do plenty of that with all the free and cheap things L.A. has to offer. But the several dozen or so amazing restaurants just down the street from our apartment? Not really in the budget to try out right now.

Earlier this week, I wrote a piece for Lady Clever about most people’s attitudes toward money and the false belief that more money means greater happiness. “As long as our basic needs are met and a few indulgences are granted,” I wrote, “We’re not getting any happier.” And yes, while we’d all welcome more cash always, it’s not going to fix depression, a lack of creative inspiration, relationships gone sour, or anything else that might be getting us down.

But my self-quote (ha) brings up an important point: indulgence. What exactly do I mean by indulgence? Well, when I still had a ton of my own money in the bank, I would indulge with the occasional shopping trip. Bad day at work? I’ll just head over to LOFT—I got a coupon in the mail, so I might as well use it to buy a cute new dress and feel better. Hell, good day at work? Today, I’m happy. I’ll celebrate with a new dress from LOFT.

…You see my point.

Now, what I consider indulgences are the basil plant sitting in our tiny 2×6 garden patch and the $6 car wash to keep my new, reliable car (that I still owe $10k for) free of the L.A. dust that’s always swirling around. Maybe if I’d always been of this mindset, I’d have saved even more money and wouldn’t be eyeing my savings account with a wary gaze.

And let’s not forget those student loans. I’m lucky that my undergrad schooling was paid for and relatively inexpensive to begin with, but what I’m spending for two years at USC for grad school (with additional living expenses, because I’m hardly earning enough part-time to pay half of rent) is, admittedly, obscene. To be honest, I frequently question whether I’ve made the right decision by going to this fancy school. Which is why it’s so important that I make the most of it and bust my ass so that when I graduate, I’m able to get a job—or several jobs—that will allow me to start paying back those loans… and hopefully afford to eat, too.

It’s an expensive life lesson, and one I’m grateful to learn early on. I recognize the privilege and opportunities I have by going to school, but I don’t have any delusions that the perfect, well-paying job will just land in my lap because of the prestigious name.

One of the biggest changes for me is how I think about material things. I never liked to think of myself as a material person. What person with substance does? But I was. Am still, I guess. To some extent, I probably always will be. I can’t help it—I love beautiful things. But I see them differently now. I got rid of more than a third of my wardrobe before moving out here, and looking in my closet now, I’d like to get rid of even more. Gone are the days when I shopped just for fun. I used to daydream about making our place Apartment Therapy-beautiful, but now all I care about is making it feel like home. And money? I could most definitely use more of it. But I no longer look at it as a gateway to happiness—just something to be monitored and dealt with. Money is what got me to L.A., along with some serious determination, patience, and planning. And for that, I’m grateful.