We Built A New Garage

We built a new garage. Sounds simple enough. Pour a slab. Build the frame. Electrical. Drywall. Roof. Door. Done….NOPE.

This was no easy task. Thank you city codes. Footers down into the bedrock – which happened to be about 7 feet below the ground. Retaining walls on two sides.

Also…the structure couldn’t be within 10′ of our existing house – or it would have to be attached. The two possible places to attach the new garage would either block our view (not gonna happen), or in the place that our septic tank currently occupies…meaning, we would have to move our septic tank (again, not gonna happen). So…unattached garage it is.

And then, it had to be no closer than 5 feet to the side property line, and 20 feet from the street property line. Lastly, it could not be over 12 feet high – we are all very serious about our views in this town!

With all of these measurements in mind, there was only one place the garage could go – with literally 1″ wiggle room and it was destined to be a 20×21 two-car space.  Thank you to CK Architecture and Made By Render for figuring this business out!

Here’s a little reference on the plans for the new garage:

And this was from demo day 1. The new garage sits right in this space:

And here is a little reminder of what came next…digging for the footers:

Concrete Poured footers here along with the frame for the concrete retaining walls: 

Walls poured:

And finally…a slab!

Next, it was time to frame and pour the new entry steps: 

It was about this time that we high-tailed it out of town. And we missed getting pictures of the framing. SO, smash cut to:


Electrical – done.  Now for drywall: And then…the standing seam roof. Yes please!

Fine-tuning the electrical and paint. Reference: we used Cabot stain and matched Clark + Kensington’s Black Chiffon  :

Final touch…the garage door. We went with a panel glass door, opaque so you can’t see it at night but not green during the day. And it is the quietest door ever. SO happy with it: 

And this was the finished product. New garage for us! 

Here’s and this is how it looks now. Curb appeal here we come!


Thanks for following along. More details to come next week.
Follow along on our entire house remodel here. 

We Poured A Lot Of Concrete

This was our view last August. A patio form…waiting for its substance to fill it all in.

Our crew from D&S Construction were awesome. Seriously – a great crew of people makes the disruption of a remodel so. much. better!!!

And finally…the first concrete pour began!
All hands were on deck to control the amount of concrete in each area and to smooth it down with an even finish. I’m not sure exactly how much concrete was poured, but in the end, there were 5 different pours to make this project happen. And suffice to say, it was a lot of concrete. This was pour #1:

We wanted the appearance of a light acid wash on our patio – and to do that we had to slightly expose the aggregate by spraying a chemical surface retarder (the blue stuff) onto the slab surface immediately after placing and finishing the concrete. This delays the set and gives the crew the flexibility to remove the cement paste up to a day or so later, by pressure washing.

And here is our first look at our new patio – which now sits level with the house floor and is about 4 feet higher than our old patio. View maximizer!

This was the point when we felt the genius behind the design of this patio. Thanks CK Architecture and Made By Render! The dogs were a little tentative at first, but they’re definitely getting used to all of the steps.
Sweet Lyle is checking it all out.

So stay tuned…there’s more to come…next week I’ll post some info about the new garage.
Follow along on our entire house remodel here. 

Getting Unstuck.

In general, I’m pretty good at initiating projects, planning and projecting schedules, and following them through to their glorious completion. Project management brings me great joy. Or maybe I should say, finishing projects brings me great joy. And satisfaction. And self-worth. And peace.

So last year, when we stalled out on like 15 different projects, I was upended into foreign and treacherous territory. Burnout territory.

We all know the perils of burnout. We hear about how bad it can be. We listen to podcasts and read blogs about warning signs of it and how-to avoid it – complete with methods to overcoming it. But still, so many of us fall victim to it.

For me, there is something about finishing projects, completing tasks, overcoming milestones, that maintains my self-esteem and sense of self-worth. When I boil it down to basics, I simply feel at ease once I’ve accomplished something. I can rest at the end of each day, knowing that my checklists are complete. But left to my own devices, I tend to take on too much. “Think of how awesome it will feel to get every thing done!” So I add more and more…and more to the plan – until finally, boom, insert some unforeseen circumstance, and all of a sudden, everything comes to a full stop.

And that is when I want to lose my mind. I cannot handle being stuck. I need progress.

This is the point in the post that I want to pause and fully explain all of the projects, their status, and why we stalled out.  Suffice to say, we had just completed a major section of our  patio – yard – house remodel, and our contractor went m.i.a.  Literally he just vanished. I tried to re-inspire him to finish our project, but he didn’t respond. No replies. No explanations. I was stuck. And so it stopped.

For about 4 months. The projects. They all stopped.

To clarify…they all stopped, but I didn’t stop. I wish I could say that I took the time to rest. Relax. Enjoy the progress we’d made thus far.  Nope. I spent hours, and days and weeks looking for a new contractor, I researched how to finish certain things on my own, I googled metal fabricators, fence builders, elevator lift vendors, I called friends for recommendations on landscapers, powder coating shops, vent covers. e.t.c.!

I was determined. I had vision. I had a new day planner.

And sure enough. The wheels started slowly turning…like when a train begins to move from a dead stop. Very slow at first, one project started getting some traction. A landscape contractor, who went to my alma mater Cal Poly, signed on to the project (Go Mustangs!), and I started getting clarity on the finishing touches that would bring our projects to life.

I’m happy to say, that some how, it was probably the day planner, I stayed focused and got unstuck. And one by one, our projects are getting finished. And I’m ready to bring you along and show you what we’ve done!  One day, I’ll follow up with some learnings on burnout and rest. But for now…get a good planner, stay focused. That’s my learning!

Next week. The Garage. Stay tuned.


How To Build A Patio In California

How to build a patio in California…?

I’ll cut to the chase, after getting past the city requirements, I thought we were talking about a cement truck backing into our yard and dumping out the concrete ready to be shaped into place. I mean how hard can it be? Everyone has a patio.

But it turns out, at our house, it first involves about 6 weeks of digging.  Digging with tractors, digging with jack hammers, and lot’s of digging with pick axes. Digging to that point where you can’t see the top of the digger’s head because he’s digging so deep.

We expressed to a few people, one of which was our handy contractor, that, had we known about all of the digging, and the city requirements for a patio build, we would’ve probably put in a pool. Mr. Contractor explained that yes, a pool would’ve actually been easier and cheaper…that here on the coastal side of California, they like to dig those patio footers down to about middle-earth, ensuring that even an act of God couldn’t move that concrete.

Well despite that bit of not-so-helpful-after-the-fact information, we’re keeping our eye on the prize. At the end of this, we will have a beautiful indoor-outdoor living space. And in the meantime, we live in the sheer exhilaration and terror of the crew coming each day to demo and dig…all getting us one step closer to the build.

Here’s a little review of the last six weeks…

WEEK ONE:  Well, to start, I missed the very first strike of demo day: 

And then, they were off and sprinting…
BTW-Week One consisted of only two days, because they started on a Thursday. If only I could accomplish this much in two days: 

END OF WEEK TWO: So, we high-tailed it out of town for a week. When we returned and pulled in to our “driveway”, this is what we saw:

WEEK THREE: The crew came back after the 4th of July holiday, and actually started framing out the planters that will be in the patio. Yay for building stuff! 

Don’t be confused though, they’re still digging over on this side…

END OF WEEK FOUR: just some refinement digging…

Now to be honest, I’m not sure what happened in Week’s Five and Six. There were little structures built to hold dirt in and mark where the garage will be. The trenches were dug deeper. And there was lot’s of rebar being bent into shapes.  Oh…and there was this thing that happened with our septic tank – but that’s another story for another day (and not in a blog post).

Anyway, all of this was getting us ready to have our first inspection – which is happening today!
So, enjoy our current view as we wait: 

If our inspector is happy, there will be a cement truck here by the end of this week, pouring the footings for the planters. As explained by Mr. Contractor, this will be the first of probably 4 different concrete pours in the process.

Really…you can’t just back the truck in and dump a whole bunch of concrete down??? *sigh*

So stay tuned…more to come. And hopefully we’ll find out what is going to happen with all of that dirt!?!
Follow along on our entire house remodel here. 






Bureaucracy And The Hedge

For those of you following along, you’ll remember The Hedge, and if you are just joining in on our story, let me synopsize…We had a 6 foot oleander hedge. It blocked our view. And it was dying. And it was ugly. So we removed it. We thought we’d replace it with a short fence.

3 years later, and we’re demoing the existing asphalt driveway, patio and front porch and we’re starting over with a new house-level patio, a new garage and driveway. The hope is to create a beautiful indoor-outdoor living space, with relaxing and inspiring areas that can be used to write, record and play music.

After numerous revisions with the architect and the city, here is our plan:

We happily broke ground a couple of weeks ago, but I have to admit, there were many times over the past 3 years that I wanted to ditch this whole project.

Oh boy. We were so naive. We thought – all we need to do is hire a landscaper. They’ll draw up some plans. We’ll give some revisions. Then demo. Then construction. And then we’ll have our beautiful outdoor space. It should take a few months, we’ll be done by summer! Of 2015.

Well, two ‘landscapers’ (btw-what exactly is a landscaper??), two contractors, two engineers, one surveyor, one architect, many many many meetings with the city, and a neighborhood review later, and here we are – with plans, ready to be executed and implemented!

Like I said, there were many times I wanted to bail out, but there was one person whose words and encouragement got me through to this point: My mom.

Throughout my life, I watched my mom ease through interior design, landscape and construction projects with decisiveness, firmness and perseverance. She just doesn’t let frustration overwhelm her and she keeps things moving forward despite obstacles.

Many times in the past few years I’ve recalled some of my mom’s parting words as I left for college: she explained that perhaps the biggest lesson I was about to learn was how to successfully navigate through a bureaucracy. She said, if I did in fact graduate (which I did…yaya Cal Poly SLO!), that I would take with me crucial life skills, necessary to flourish in today’s economic, political and social environment. Attention to the details, following the rules, tenacity, diplomacy…all of these things would matter in every day life.

Then she explained that the next 4 years would be unlike any other time in my life, so I’d better enjoy it!

As her words would cross my mind, (usually while standing in front of a clerk at the city planning counter), it only seemed right that I resist the urge to yell obscenities back to the person asking for some random detail and another check to get me to the next step in the process…that I bite my tongue, take a deep breath, smile, and follow the rules.  Yes Mom, that college education was totally worth it!

After 18 months of city planning and neighborhood approval reviews, there was a sublime sense of victory as I crossed the last threshold of city planning before beginning our project…it was bureaucracy at it’s fullest and finest…

Since we are in a fire hazard area (aka, the entire state of California), we had to submit a “Fuel Modification Plan” to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The plan included full size architectural drawings, with every existing and projected plant identified, listed according to regional zones, along with a detail on the irrigation locations, AND a signed document stating that the plan is true, and our “covenant agreement” to water the plants.

So, I took a day out to make a fuel modification plan. And then I took another day to deliver the plans. And then they were approved…ish.

All I had to do then, was:

  1. Get our Covenant Agreement notarized:
    (Notary Public Fee: $15) 
    2. Get a cashier’s check, payable to the Los Angeles County Fire Department
    (LACFD Fee: more than $400 and less than $600) !!
    (Bank Fee for cashier’s check: $5)

    3. Go to the County Registrar’s Office to certify and file the plan
    (Certification Fee: $35)
    (Filing Fee: $17)
    (Parking: $6)

    4. Mail the cashier’s check and the Covenant Agreement to Los Angeles County…2 different offices.
    (Stamps: $.98)

I included the fees for this last step, not to be snarky (well maybe to be a little snarky), but  really, to illustrate bureaucracy at it’s fullest. These were not permit fees. These were not plan check fees. These were random, not to be expected, not outlined in the process, over and above fees…fees that went to FIVE different government entities, and a bank, and a notary.

As I sit watching the demo crew rip apart our driveway with tractors, pitchforks and jack hammers, I can’t help but feel a sense of victory. Not victory-victory. I mean, I didn’t destroy the bureaucracy. I didn’t even fight the bureaucracy. In fact, the bureaucracy is alive and well. But I navigated the bureaucracy. I worked through it.  And here I am. Smug and victorious. Watching my driveway get demoed.

Pictures coming next time!!!

And in the meantime, for more about this project, start here:  The Hedge

Thanks for following along!





Shipping Container Studio – Crane Delivery

Our newly modified shipping container – soon to be recording studio iso-lounge – was delivered exactly three week’s ago today. I’ve been so excited to share pics and video of the delivery, but in that three week’s time, we’ve finished mixing one record, began mixing another record, shot a music video, released a single for one of our band’s, Moxi, began PR for it, went on a cruise to Alaska and demoed our entire yard – including our driveway, patio and front porch (more on that later)! Oh, and Bobby also finished tracking a few new songs and he wrote and recorded five new cues for TV.

*sigh*…we’re tired!

So, we’re settling back into normalcy, and are ready to share all the container details. A short summary of what we’re doing here…

The big picture is this: we are converting our existing garage into a studio space, which will be wired to a shipping container that sits next to the garage. The container will be a writing lounge and iso booth. The board and gear will be in the garage space.

Simple enough, yes. EXCEPT that, we are building a new garage on the opposite side of our property, and demoing the driveway (which leads to the existing garage). And the driveway had to be in tact to get the container into the place that we wanted. So, the container had to be delivered before demo day.

We bought the container from IPME in April, and worked with them to insulate the bottom of it, and to fabricate and install steel window and door frames. We kept the existing bamboo floors because they look amazing. And that was it – we didn’t go any further with the modification, because of our time constraints on delivery. Our demo crew had a hard start date, so we had to get the container in it’s place – which will leave us to handle electrical, a/c, insulation and drywall all on site.

Delivery day finally came, and while Bobby and I were stressing about the fact that a crane was going to pick up a 7000lb+ container and lift it up and over our house and set it down a foot away from a huge slope on the side of our property, the people doing the actual work were chilled out, calm, and very efficient. In fact, the whole delivery happened so fast – we couldn’t believe it, they were done about 2-1/2 hours after they started. Here’s how it all went down…

First up, the guys (aka, serious man-men), had to get the crane into place. Driving it across our driveway took some skillful maneuvering: 

We were concerned that the crane wouldn’t even make it down the driveway, but like I said, these guys are pros. We freak out backing our little car down the driveway, which, by the way has a rearview camera…the man-men just laughed at our stress faces.

Anyway, right as the crane footings were getting into place, our container showed up on a truck…

Adding to the surrealness of the day, our neighbor, Rick, who owns a towing company, was the man-man who showed up with our container!  Apparently, these guys work together all the time, so they stopped for a quick strategy convo, and then got to it:

And then, of course, Rick had to back his truck on down the driveway (don’t worry, he’s a pro man-man too):

I have to be honest here, one minute I was taking pictures of neighbor Rick untying the container, while it was on the truck, and the next minute, it was off the truck sitting on the driveway. I have no idea how it actually got off the truck. And then one minute later, they were attaching the crane straps to the top of the crane getting it ready to go: 

It was at about this moment that we were asked if anyone was in the house…which there was. We had someone inside hanging some shelves…and of course our fur babies were hiding in the bedroom. We were gently asked to make sure that everyone come outside until they were done.

It’s fine. These guys are professionals. Don’t worry. Just a precaution. *stress*

We cleared the house, and then…it’s lift off time! Up and over the house we go:

And. Just like that. Done.  Thanks Man-Men!

And now…um…how do these doors open…?

So, here it is! Check it out…double doors and a window on the main side. This main window will face into a window in the garage/studio. And we’ll have a deck built around the footing to tie it all together: 

The window on this end looks out on the LA-Long Beach harbor and over into Downtown LA.

The existing container doors will be fixed open, with another set of double doors with windows, adding to the visual length of the container and adding more light inside: 

We. Love. It!!   Time to celebrate!

Check out some video of the crane lifting the container over our house here. eee!

Now to finish this beauty out…if you’d like to follow along and see more about this shipping container remodel, check back here.

Container Modification Progress

I stopped by IPME this week to drop off some paint samples and was able to check out the progress on the container modifications. Moment. Of. Truth.  Is this gonna work? Is it gonna be cool? Functional? Worth it????

Or is it going to just be a big metal box sitting in our yard…looking like…you know…a shipping container:

Not. Cool.

Thankfully, my fears were completely put to rest and my expectations were far surpassed. The container is amazing! It is a 20’high cube (9-1/2’high as opposed to the standard 8’high) – and with the window modifications we’re making, it already feels open and spacious.

Craig Rapoza, the COO at IPME, and Brian Tanzer, the Sales Manager, took me on a little tour and filled me in on their progress. These guys are great people to work with – full of ideas, extremely flexible, and super upbeat. Craig designed the steel doors and window frames – which will be the focal point of the space. 

Before they made the cuts for the windows and doors, the container had to be crane-lifted on to these supports, so the foam insulation could be sprayed underneath. This will help to keep the sound down inside the container:

We decided to have all of the window frames set out about 2 inches from the container and the doors – this will give a little bit of dimension and adds another solid industrial feature to the exterior. 

There will be two sets of double doors like these. One on this side as shown – which will open to 120°. And another set will be installed just inside the container doors at the end. The container doors will be affixed open at 90° and, together with a little porch that we’ll install after delivery, will add about four linear feet to the container’s length. These doors were tack-welded on so I could see what they would look like:

On this opposite end, there will be a huge picture window, with a steel frame to match the one on the side. And we also put a 6’horizontal window on what we’re calling the canyon side – so we can…you know…see out to the canyon.  

You may have read last week’s post about our flooring questions. The vote tally so far is to go with a gray linoleum with a white herringbone plank woven in on one end of the container. But since then, we found out that the existing container floor is painted bamboo.  It looks pretty great at the moment – but may be a little dark. So, we’re gonna live with it and see how we feel about it once it’s delivered. 

This next week, IPME will finish the window and door frames, install the 1/2″ glass, and then paint the exterior…everything will be painted a dark charcoal color…except for the chrome bars on the container doors and the Customs Seal…we’ll leave that as is…legit: 

And then, a simple delivery, with a crane-lifted install. Over our garage. No big deal. Unless the crane tips and falls into the canyon. I’m not nervous about it all.

If you’d like to see more about this shipping container remodel, check here.

Shipping Container Floors

We pulled the trigger on our Shipping Container Studio Space!!
Last week, we bought a brand new 20′ high cube container, which will eventually find it’s home in our yard near our old garage. Together, the garage and the container will become a great writing room for Bobby and CatBeach Music. Here is a little mock-up I pulled together:

We bought the container from IPME, who helped us nail down the specifics of the modifications we’re making, including the steel framed windows and doors they are fabricating for us. IPME is also spraying foam insulation to the bottom exterior of the container, and handling the exterior paint. We plan to finish out the container interior ourselves.

Our first decision on the interior is to finalize our flooring choice. While the floors will be the last thing installed, we have to decide what we’re using and how they will be installed now as this will inform IPME where to place the door frames.

The container comes with bamboo subfloors, which some people finish as their final flooring. We love using natural materials, so the obvious choice for us would be to go with bamboo. But we decided to do something a little different and a little more playful.

We’ve been hearing about this resurgence of linoleum, so we thought we’d check it out. We went to Linoleum City in Hollywood and learned all about this wonder product. First of all,  much to our amazement, linoleum is a raw, all-natural, biodegradable material made of linseed oil (the oil in flax), pine resin and wood flour. Who knew!?  Second, there are some new linoleum manufacturers offering modern colors, textures and designs. Very cool!  And lastly, yes, you can still find the weird dull-colors and plastic-y looking tiles that we all remember from the 70’s.  No thanks!

After looking through hundreds of choices, we narrowed our search down to a manufacturer called Forbo Marmoleum. They have some really fun colors and potential applications that caught our eye. We really like their flat sheet linoleum product called Marmoleum Walton Uni – in the color called ‘Paving’. It has virtually no texture to it, and will be applied in one sheet. Here is an example: 

We like the idea of just a gray floor that mimics concrete, but we also like the idea of doing something a little playful with the floors. The great thing about this product is that you can get super creative with the floor design. We played around with a few marmoleum tile options flowing into the gray sheet, and created some tile patterns the appear inside of the gray sheet.

Take a look at these 3 options and let me know which one you like best in the comments!




Thanks for giving me your feedback. I’ll be posting updates on the container build – so check back here to follow along!


The Emmy’s, A Shipping Container, and One Heavy Jacuzzi

Do you ever have those seasons where it feels like the whole world opens up and gives you green lights…all at the same time?

We are in a ‘go-time’ right now, and honestly, we’re just trying our best to keep up, while we meet all of our commitments and have some fun along the way!

Last weekend was no joke, but we made it out alive.  The most glamorous and enjoyable moment was when we walked the red carpet at the 2017 Emmy Awards! Bobby and his co-writer, Daena Jay, were nominated for an Emmy – Best Original Song – Daytime. This was the second nom in a row for this songwriting team. They didn’t take home the award this year, but we certainly had fun celebrating all things music and television.

But, before we threw on our fancies, Bobby and I went over to IPME, and bought ourselves a brand new shipping container. Yes, a shipping container. You know, the big steel boxes that travel around the world on freight liners. A container that will be delivered into our yard in three weeks. The yard that is right next to our house. Where the shipping container will stay forever and ever.

I’m a little timid about the idea. Does it show?

Ok, actually, in spite of my reservations, I’m pretty excited about this project. We’re modifying the heck out of the container, with custom steel windows and doors, and added soundproofing and lighting. And then we’re going to tether it to our garage – which, all together will make up a nice studio space at our house. Here is a first draft Sketchup of what we’re planning: 

More sketches and pictures of the container mod to come. But in the meantime, we needed to make room in our aforementioned yard for the container. It’s landing place was occupied by an above ground jacuzzi…so we had to find a new home for the spa asap. Thankfully, our friends Tom and Christy were looking to add a jacuzzi to their backyard. And within a matter of days, Tom brought his friend Tulio over to tackle the transport.

They had it on it’s side before I could even grab the camera…but here are some snaps of the process: 

Upon close inspection, there was some termite damage to the bottom frame. 

Tom will have to build a new frame before installing it over at their house. 

The guys stopped to have a brain storming session about how to get the jacuzzi from here, into the truck. Seems it was just a smidge too heavy to carry. 

‘Let’s back up the trailer and flip it side over side onto the flatbed:’

I’m pretty sure I was sipping on a nice glass of rose at this moment. 

As the guy’s were finishing up, I looked at the space that the 8 foot-wide truck was sitting in, contemplating the 8 foot-wide (and 9’6″ tall) shipping container that would soon fill the space. And I noticed something….

As you can see from this angle below, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to getting the container past the roof…and not tipping down the slope. (And no, it can’t be crained in…we’ve got above ground telephone wires…thanks a lot Palos Verdes). 

Rest assured, pictures have been sent to people far smarter than I. I’m confident there is some three-armed container lift or some other monster that will handily solve this delivery problem. Right!?

The only issue after that will be for anyone who wants to remove the container…because this driveway will be long gone, and replaced with a cement patio that sits about 3 feet higher than the ground.

Nothing to worry about here. Just breathe. It will be fine. 

And with that…off goes the jacuzzi to Tom and Christy’s for a new life! 

Well, obviously, going to the Emmy’s was the best part of the weekend, but still, there was something thrilling about pulling the trigger on the container, and beginning to get the space ready for it.

I have a feeling the next few months are going to be a site to see….stay tuned!

Moxi On Vinyl – DREAM FEED


This cover art speaks everything I’m feeling right now. Spring is happening in an electric way all around…and I can barely keep up. We have so many projects that are at various stages of growth – and we’re anxiously cultivating and coaxing and grooming them. If all goes well, I’ll spend the next year sharing new creations – beautiful sounds, visuals and spaces – a year’s worth of rebirth and renewal.

We are kicking off this new season with a tribute to our favorite dream pop band, Moxi, and to indie music’s coveted Record Store Day. A compilation of their first two EP’s – ‘In My Dreams’ and ‘Through The Dark’ – in one luscious pink vinyl LP, designed by Matt Champagne.  Details below!

Record Store Day – SO CAL Special

Just in time for Record Store Day, 2017, Moxi is releasing their first two EP’s on collector’s edition vinyl.
Dream Feed is available now, exclusively, for the special price of $16.99 at our fave local record stores:

Crème Tangerine – Costa Mesa
Third Eye Records – Long Beach
Fingerprints – Long Beach
Amoeba Records – Hollywood
Permanent Records – Echo Park

Please pay a visit to one of these fine record shops and get some Moxi love!