Family Room

Hello hello!!!  I’m so excited to start sharing some of our fully completed home today with more coming this week, just a short 2.5 years after we bought our house and started the remodel process!  HA!  These things take time my friends, a lot of time, especially when you throw in a budget and a pandemic.  What an adventure!  But let’s dig into this room.  Originally it was functioning as a guest bedroom- a completely minimal but functional one.  Basically a mattress on the floor If I’m being transparent. And all was well and fine until our friend Nok Nok Design shared that he’d just added this iconic vintage couch to his collection and I promptly blew up his phone.  I’ve been obsessed with said couch FOR DECADES and before we even knew where we would put it I’d claimed it as my own.  That was really the true leaping off point for the room.  We couldn’t fit my dream couch AND a bed so a family room was born!  I worked in partnership with my forever favorite Room & Board to transform the space and as usual it was like the best Christmas ever when the truck arrived to deliver these beautiful goods.  I cannot say enough good things about the company- the quality of their pieces is unmatched and their company ethos fully aligns with my own.  Love, love love Room & Board and have for years.  So extra excited to share this all with you!  Click through to see more and for a full list of sources.  Thanks so much for reading!

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My Life with Crohn’s Disease- 10 Years Later

Hi, hello!  Oh my, it’s been a long while- my typing fingers are rusty!  I’ve been mainly sharing on Instagram these days but I’m a wordy lady and those text-limited captions don’t let me go very deep or say very much.  So I’m BACK AND IT FEELS AMAZING!  Grab a cup of tea and settle in because as promised, I’m long winded.

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Thank you to my long haul ride or die readers!!!!  I truly love you and feel so deeply honored that you have chosen to stick with me for all of these years!  I will never be able to really express what it has meant in my life, but please know my gratitude for you runs DEEP.  When you reference our Palm Springs house in a DM or share one of my recipes from 5 years ago on your Instagram I pinch myself.  Connecting with you all has been THE GREATEST part of this journey.  From the bottom of my big ol soft heart, I thank you.

I’m approaching the ten year anniversary of my Crohn’s disease diagnosis and I’m feeling all of the things about it.  First, that diagnosis was really the catalyst for starting this site and for all of the changes that came for me in the past decade.  Time traveling back to a decade ago this month…. I was fully immersed in the rat-race and living in LA, working my bones off photographing weddings (35 in 2010, most requiring travel) and feeling every bit of the pressure and exhaustion that comes with that.  We’d just completed a move (to this house, miss you DesignSponge!) and I was prepping for another full-speed year.  And then the stomach pain started.  I was in and out of the doctor’s offices and ER until finally I was admitted for a week long stay, and shortly thereafter diagnosed.

That diagnosis shifted EVERYTHING.  I no longer had the option to put myself last and my business first.  And I knew I needed to spend more time focusing on myself- which is where this site was born, as a space for me to share things I loved in an attempt to make myself spend more time on things I loved and less time on working.  Silly me, I would later turn this things I love blog into a full-blown workaholic business but I’ll save that story for another day. Bottom line- sometimes tigers have a REALLY hard time changing their stripes.

I still remember the overwhelming feeling I had when the doctor told me that I had Crohn’s disease and gave me his bleak predictions for my future (that I’d need to have portions of my intestines removed likely within 5 years, that I would spend the rest of my life on medication).  Thankfully, I decided not to believe him and here I am a decade later with my intestines still intact and medication free.  Now, I will say that I don’t think medications are wrong or a bad idea or that I have any feelings about them other than that they weren’t for me then, and don’t seem to be for me now.  That could change.  Or not.  The thing I’ve learned most over the past decade is that I control FAR less than I believe I control in this life.  It only took me four decades to figure that one out.  HA!

So here are some details about my health journey that I am reflecting back on today….I started my healing process with a macrobiotic diet and lifestyle.  I became wholly convinced that processed foods, meat and dairy were the true cause of my illness and I could just eliminate those, keep my lifestyle/low stress and be all good!  That was a really nice theory and truly did work for a bit, but after a couple of years of my vegan diet I began to develop a whole new host of symptoms- heart palpitations, fatigue, crippling anxiety, with bouts of Crohn’s flares in between.  After appointments with a handful of Eastern medicine practitioners (Ayurvedic, Acupuncture) and a dabbling with Homeopathic doctors, the resounding message they all gave me was that my body needed animal protein.  I reintroduced eggs, then chicken, and eventually found that I was gaining strength and vitality that couldn’t be denied.

Unfortunately, even though I eliminated most of my symptoms, I never fully escaped the occasional Crohn’s flares.  And so I started exploring and experimenting with diet some more.  I tried GAPS, AIP, and Paleo.  I learned loads about ancient cooking techniques and the wisdom of our ancestors and their cultured foods.  I took a deep dive into understanding gut health and the role it plays in our immune system.  I saw a functional medicine doctor.  I experimented with probiotics and a variety of supplements.  And here is where I’m at now:  I think I’m pretty dang healthy.  Healthier than I have been in the past decade.  I’m eating a grain-free and vegetable heavy diet.  I eat a variety of pasture raised, organic meats- mostly from a local farm.  I avoid sugar, gluten and processed foods.  I exercise regularly, I try to minimize stress when possible (ok so 2020 was a complete failure at that. I don’t know how to NOT stress during a global pandemic- if I figure it out in 2021 I’ll let you know!). I still minimize the exposure our family has to chemicals and try to make best choices for makeup and beauty products.

Crohn’s disease is a monkey on my back I’ve tried to fight off, ignore, banish through every trick in the book, meditate away, and that I have finally a decade later, learned to accept for what it is.  In many ways, I’ve made friends with that monkey.  It’s something that will be a part of my life (or won’t).   I can’t control it.  I can certainly manage it the best I can, but I have let go of the idea that I will heal it, transform myself into some human in perfect health who has no issues with her intestines, and be able to tell everyone else the best practices for living a healthy life.  WHAT A RELIEF!  Accepting what IS, well, it’s my life’s work.  For a recovering perfectionist it’s not easy but I remain committed to trying.

To all of those who also have a chronic illness I’m sending you all of my love, it’s not the easiest journey but it sure can be full of lots of unexpected gifts.  And to everyone who made it this far, thanks for reading… now, then and everywhere in between.   Hopefully it won’t take me so long to get back here again.   XX- Sarah

Coyuchi- the dreamiest organic bedding

Hi everyone!  I’m here today to share a little peek into our bedroom, and introduce you (if you don’t already know and love them), to Coyuchi– a maker of organically produced and ethically sourced home goods that I KNOW you will adore!  They were so kind to send us bedding for Teo’s bunks and I was so envious of his situation that it became a little ridiculous.  Picture me snuggled in blanket forts hiding from my family and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what was happening, on the regular.  SO, I’m very happy to say they swooped in and made my bedding dreams come true with the softest, most luxurious and cozy bed situation we’ve ever had so that I am no longer a disappearing mama.  OK fine I’m still disappearing whenever I get the chance but at least it’s to my own bed.

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Teo’s Big Boy Bedroom

Hello friends!  I can’t believe this moment is finally happening….we have a fully finished room in our house!  WHAT?!  One year after we purchased this little Ojai house the first room is done-DONE!  And it’s a room that just makes my heart melt right into a big old puddle. Ahhhh, I have never loved any rooms I’ve designed more than those that I’ve done for our baby boy!  I’m sure that’s everyone’s experience, right?  Ugh it’s just the best and his little face when he saw his bunkbeds for the first time, I could cry just thinking about how it lit up with the magic of it.  Here’s a little bit more about the room and links to all the pretty things you spy with your little eye at the bottom of the post…

Now that Teo is getting a bit bigger and ready to move into a bed I finally got to experience the dream I’ve had since I was a little girl- BUNKBEDS!  I never had them but was completely obsessed, so I suppose I saw my opportunity and leapt at it!  This set from Room & Board is my favorite on the market- that lower bunk at floor level is the perfect space to hang blankets and live that fort life.  I have to say, my inner child is DELIGHTED!  Bunk beds are just as fun and magical as I always knew they would be. Won’t say I don’t envy him a little as I tuck myself into my grown up bed.

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San Diego Final Home Tour 2.0

Hi friends!  It’s been awhile since I’ve updated with where we’re at with our renovation, and I want to write a long and detailed post about the experience but I also want to be on the other side of it when I do.  For right now we are two weeks from moving out of our San Diego house and a little more than five weeks from the end of construction on the Ojai house.  It’s been a wild ride but the end is FINALLY in sight!  Renovation fatigue is a real thing though my friends, and I’m feeling it hard.  I can’t wait to share it all with you soon, and I know it will be worth all of the efforts and headaches!  In the meantime like an actual crazy wackadoo I re-styled and photographed our San Diego home.  I didn’t re-style and re-shoot just for kicks though, it was for a feature on one of my most favorite design sites, MyDomaine, if that makes my insanity any more understandable!

Our bedroom is the most dramatic makeover- that partnership with Room & Board helped us completely reimagine the space and I am IN LOVE!  I’m sharing the whole tour here too because I’m feeling sentimental and I want record of this pretty space one last time before we bid adieu.  For the record it looks NOTHING like this now- there are piles of boxes everywhere, we’ve sold some major pieces of furniture and if I’m being honest I don’t think we’ve dusted or even done more than a light cleaning in a full month.  Ooof.  These photos are making me long for a sparkling clean, fully decorated and cozy house.  One day, one day it will happen again and I can’t wait!   I spent extra time on this post trying to include every single source I could think of so hopefully it’s good inspiration and a great resource.  If there is something I missed please ask me in the comments and I’ll respond.  I hope you love it!!  xx- Sarah

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Spotlight: Room & Board

Hi friends!  Today I’m here to talk about one of my most favorite places to shop for furniture and home decor, Room & Board!  Let me start by saying with full transparency that I’m producing this post in trade for items for our new house and a shoot I did for our San Diego house, so this is a sponsored post.  But you should also know that I’m a longtime fan of Room & Board– I’ve been wandering around their stores fantasizing about a grown-up life filled with beautiful furnishings since I decided I’d had enough of being a broke 20 something and started to imagine what life outside of Ikea could possibly look like!  In fact, one of the first big purchases Lou and I made as a couple was a set of bookshelves for our LA home in 2011.  I remember distinctly the day their beautifully branded delivery truck arrived-  I felt like I had “arrived”, like all of the hard work and long hours we’d sunk into our businesses had truly paid off!  I think many of us have those moments throughout our lives as we accomplish different goals, as we grow into adulthood, more fully into ourselves, more fully into the life we imagined and worked so hard for.  Room & Board has been a part of that for me, so I’m excited to introduce the company to those of you who may not be familiar, to show you some of my favorite pieces, and to tell you a bit about a few more reasons why this company speaks to me on many, many levels!

Hudson Vanity  // Halifax Candle Holders  //   Cloak Table Lamp  // Reclaimed Wood Bubble Stool  //  Case Study Planter  // Grove Bookcase  //  Hanneman Stool  //  Darby Stool  //  Cadence Carafes  //  Ashby Dresser //  Waverly Bunk Bed  //  Penrose Vase Planter

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