Life with Dogs / Casper


Last weekend we built a bed frame for our bed (DIY post coming soon!), so in the spirit of new sleep arrangements we decided it was time the dogs got a new bed too. We were so excited to find a new Casper dog mattress delivered to our door. It’s the latest from the popular human mattress brand dubbed the “Warby Parker” of mattresses (for its hip design, easy online ordering, and delivery to your door). Their design and engineering teams came up with a new modern bed for dogs using soft, durable materials that cater to natural canine behaviors.

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The mattress arrived in a light box that was easy to get through the door. The dogs escorted the box in and Jack gave it the final OK inspection before we unpacked it. They sent us a large bed, which was perfect for both of them to lay on. It’s so big I can lay on it (and might have). How’s that for a visual. Putting it together was a breeze. The pressure-relieving memory foam and support foam are so nice and comfy. The outer material is soft and removes to be washed easily. It’s made from one of the strongest microfibers available to ensure it won’t easily be chewed or scratched through. They even added a durable surface layer with excess material on top to mimic the sensation of scratching/digging before laying down like most dogs do. Keeper is a fan of the supportive foam bolsters on the sides, which give the bed that enclosed feel – much like the feeling she gets in the “den” (we call it a fort) that her and Jack have going on beside couch.

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On a side note, ever since Jack’s balancing act went viral a few years ago, I’ve been slowly moving over from studying dolphins to training dogs. It’s been a side gig for a while now that I really enjoy. A few of my other dolphin-studying friends have forayed into the world of canine behavior too since dolphins and dogs are very similar intellect-wise. One common question I get is – how do I keep my dog off my furniture? There are lots of reasons why dogs like laying on the couch rather than the floor (and every dog is different), but one thing you can do first is give them more options on the floor. There are lots of design-friendly options for poufs and floor pillows out there that can be designated as “theirs”. I highly recommend a good bed like the Casper mattress. The design is modern and neutral and it’s durable so you won’t be replacing the bed for years (good for your dog and your wallet). They also give you a 100 night trial to return it if you’re not impressed. Putting their bed in areas that feel enclosed are also good so they feel safe and protected in a space that’s their own. We’ve moved our new Casper dog bed to the area beside the couch where they like to lay and it’s been a huge hit. If they aren’t playing outside, they are lounging and sleeping on it. That’s if the cat isn’t hogging it.

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(they’re serious about comfort).

Thank you Casper!

A road trip to Monterey with Jack Dog

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Jack and I took a solo trip down to Monterey last weekend. On the way down we stopped off and saw some sea otters milling about near Elkhorn Slough, then a huge humpback whale right off the beach at Seaside Beach, and some funny sea lions hanging out on the docks of Moss landing harbor. Then we drove along the coast to one of our favorite spots – Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, and stopped at a yurt in the hills on the way back. Monterey is a place we go at least 3-4 times a year. I always find myself there. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful and one of the best places to take a road trip, it’s one of the only spots in the US where you can sit on cliffs and look at migrating whales below. There’s a deep underwater canyon right off the beach in Monterey Bay where all kinds of animals frequent, especially whales. I’ve yet to convince Trey to go diving in the canyon in the kelp forests here – he thinks they’re too spooky. Diving buddy wanted!

Jack sat on the center console the whole way (his spot), then hopped up front to be closer to the air conditioning while driving the stretch of highway 1 in Big Sur. Whenever he does this I always strap him in with the seat belt like a human. He just stares out the window and occasionally glances over at me like, “you seein’ this?!”. He’s such a little buddha. Eventually he’ll hunker down and fall asleep on the arm rest.

It was nice to get away to one of our favorite places. Lucky us it’s only a couple hours from where we live. I can’t wait to go back…maybe in a few months when the elephant seals haul out. Until next time, Monterey!

See Monterey is giving away (1) complete trip package, including 2 nights at Monterey Tides, 2 tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and a wine blending at Joullian Vineyards. If interested, leave a comment to enter. This post is sponsored by See Monterey. All content and opinions expressed are my own.

A little greenhouse

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I’m thrilled to be starting a new greenhouse series here on Wildlandia. When I saw the listing for this house, I thought it was cool that it came with a gardening space. Kind of a fun story, our land lord is this really tall, happy Danish guy who lives up in the hills and fixes up old Italian sports cars. When I called about the listing, we ended up talking for twenty minutes about all kinds of things – gardening being one of them. We all met up and did a walk through, then a few days later went out for margaritas and nachos with him and his girlfriend to sign the lease. He’s been over a few times since then and brought us a tomato plant for the greenhouse that’s currently living in my sink. I’m excited to garden and get creative here. The couple who lived here before us really let the place go, so we’ve been rolling up our sleeves and tackling cool projects like pulling back ivy-covered walkways and finding all kinds of hidden treasures underneath.

I’ve never had a greenhouse. Up until now I’ve mostly had succulents because they are so easy to care for and can go long periods of time requiring little attention. Succulents are like the cats of plants. Or, the Mila cat of plants at least. I had this really great fiddle leaf fig tree once, but Keeper destroyed it as a puppy back when she was an uncivilized little punk (ok she still pretty much is. go girl, do it to it). This past weekend we washed the greenhouse inside and out, got all the spider webs out, and shoveled out the old, smelly, dry soil that was left behind in the planters.  Now we have two raised beds that I plan on planting veggies in, and lots of wooden shelves/sills to grow flowers in. A couple weeks ago I planted some seeds and so far I’ve had rainbow chard, spinach, and heirloom tomatoes start sprouting. It’s so fun to wake up and walk outside to the greenhouse to see what has grown overnight. My grandma used to grow the prettiest flowers in her backyard. I always remember it being such a peaceful place. I hope I can recreate that feeling with my space here.

Here are some before photos…

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At the hardware store the other day I picked up a quart of paint for the door to the greenhouse. I went with a color I’ve wanted to use on something for a while and love how it turned out. There’s something about finding the perfect color. I think it’s called synesthesia, where you think and feel in colors. I’ve always loved thinking in that way. This color was called “abyss” and it makes my brain happy.

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Herbs and veg and flowers here we come! I’m going to get a speaker to play music in there and look for a cool vintage stool to add inside too. One with a wooden seat and antiqued metal legs. And a little rug for any garden buddies that decide to join in.  Jack’s in it for the carrots. They’re his favorite. I already planted some for him. More to come!


Around Here

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The fog has rolled in and San Francisco is back to being mostly gray and overcast. It’s nice for working in the greenhouse though, nice and cool. Lately in the mornings when I drive over the bridge into the city, I’ve been looking down at the boats below to see who’s in the bay. I used to know all the captains from talking to them on the radio while out on the water. This time of year used to be when I’d start leading trips out to see humpback whales migrating south by the islands just outside the bay. There’s something about a foggy, cold morning that feels like home to me. I’ve been thinking about those islands and those whales a lot lately. Anyway, here are some things from around here these days…

1. This schoolhouse electric sign makes a domestic necessity a little cooler.
2a. I bought these shoes for a wedding I never went to. I’m not really a wedding person.
2b. I’ve been using Glossier’s ‘supers‘ face serum collection and like it a lot.
3. Sage, for aura cleansing and purifying…or something like that.
4. Mila’s favorite toy, on the sunny window sill, where she likes it.
5. Slip dresses over t-shirts, who knew it would come back?
6. The cashier at Whole Foods accidentally rang these puppies up as .99 bakery items because they were wrapped in brown paper. Oops. Win.
7. Jack is fall-ready with his little Pendleton blanket.
8. The cool-toned SF skyline from the Bay bridge.

Currently Watching


I love good tv. Trey and I like to decompress at night by catching up on our favorite shows we’ve missed. We hardly ever get to watch them when they actually come on – so instead, we stock pile and binge watch when we can. I always have my eye out for new shows and eagerly await trailers for new seasons of shows we watch and love. We have a rule when it comes to watching shows we’re mutually psyched on – no watching ahead without the other! It’s not really a rule, but fessing up to sneaking in an episode definitely feels like you’ve broken one. Most nights we fall asleep half way through, other nights we binge until our eyes cross. Here’s what’s been on lately:

1. Stranger Things
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There’s so much to love about this show. It’s like they took all the best elements from 80s sci-fi/horror movies and combined them into one nostalgic tv show. It’s very Steven Spielberg meets Stephen King. The kids riding their bikes through the streets reminds me a lot of E.T., and the pink dress/wig outfit the main character “Eleven” wears is very reminiscent of the twin girls from that hallway scene in The Shining. The jedi mind tricks, the Stand By Me-like group of boys, the list goes on. All of it…the music, the clothes, the characters, storyline…so so good! And Winona Ryder plays the mom. I’ve been a fan of hers since Heathers. Really lovin’ this show…and season 2 is already in the works! Woot!

2. Atlanta
There’s only been a few episodes of this show, but so far I’m loving it. The show was created by Donald Glover (Childish Gambino, Troy from Community), who also stars in it. It’s about two cousins who begin navigating the Atlanta rap scene after one of them starts making it big, leaving the other to take on the duty of being his Manager. The writing is great and the characters are fun – especially their odd friend who’s always stoned and imparts wisdom randomly. Come to think of it, those are usually my favorite characters.

3. Mr. Robot
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I’m still reeling from the crazy scene that happened the other night in this show. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it. Season 1 was amazing, and so far Season 2 has been pretty good too. The show follows Elliot, a cyber security programmer by day/leader of an anonymous group of vigilante hackers trying to take down a massive multinational conglomerate by night. They develop the characters so well in this show. Trey and I are big fans.

What are you watching? Any I should add to the list? I’m always looking for new ones!

A DIY Floating Clothing Rack


We’re loving the house so far. Not only do we have more space, but now we can really work on all the projects we want without worrying that we’re disturbing the neighbors. We’re just renting for the time being while we feel out whether or not the Oakland Hills are the place for us, so that means some of the details of the house we’ll just have to live with. Luckily for us though, we’re no strangers to coming up with creative solutions for quirky Bay Area spaces (cough, beds and offices in closets, cough).

My favorite room in the house is the bedroom. It faces southwest and has lots of windows that bring tons of sunlight in the afternoons. We thought the bedroom in our last place was peaceful and bright….but this bedroom might take the cake. It overlooks the trees in the back yard, and also allows us to spy on the dogs whenever we want: “YO KEEPER STOP BARKING AT THAT BIRD/SQUIRREL/TREE BRANCH WITH NOTHING ON IT!“. I can’t wait to paint the walls white to really make it feel airy in there.

Over the weekend we went to Lowes to pick up some supplies for our first few projects. One quirk with this house is there is no closet space in the bedroom. The tenants before us left behind a large armoire, but it was bulky and traditional and not really our style, so we thought it would be neat to make a floating clothing rack to hang our t-shirts and jackets on instead.

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Hardware stores are my jam. I can’t help but have this weird giddy energy every time I go in one. The possibilities are endless! Trey called me Tina “The Tool Woman” Taylor and I think I’m alright with it. Anyone remember JTT from Home Improvement? That hair. I mean, what a babe.

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We grabbed a cart and rode around on it like a bunch of kids, perused the aisles for the items we needed. Steve (Lowes employee, what up Steve!) helped us when we asked where we could find “14 feet of strong wire and a machete”. You know, for the felony we were about to commit. Just kidding. The wire was for the floating clothing rack and the machete was to clear a path in the woods in the back yard. We grew up in the back woods of North Carolina…if you needed to clear a path you didn’t call lawn services, you just took the machete out there and murdered some weeds yourself (safely, of course).

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Here’s a before and after:

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I think it turned out pretty cool. I like how simple it is, and it’s sturdy. The hooks are firmly secured into a stud in the ceiling and the wire supports up to 120 lbs – so we’ll hang lots of clothes on it (once we unpack more). We’re keeping our eyes out for a cool vintage trunk to put underneath it to store jeans in – or we might bring in a small dresser that’s currently hanging out in the garage. When the walls are painted white it will stand out and vibe more with our style. But, one thing at a time. I’m more of a show-as-you-go kind of girl….to me, seeing all the different stages as it comes together is cooler than just revealing a finished product. More to come!

Here’s what we used to make it:
Wooden dowel rod – we used a 1′ 1/8″ diameter rod, 48″ L
Eyelet hooks – 1/4″ x 3″ (ours screwed into a wood stud luckily – if drywall, you’ll need to also buy heavy duty anchors to support the weight).
2 Ferrule and stop kits – 1/16″ (make sure they match same diameter of your wire).
Stud finder
Level (every iphone has one – just go to the compass app and swipe left).
Tape measure
Wire cutters

Here’s how:
1. Use a stud finder to find out whether you’re working with studs or drywall. Ideally for this you’ll need to screw directly into studs in order to support the weight of your clothes on the rack.

2. Once you’ve found stud/studs, measure the distance you need between the eyelet hooks. This was about 40″ because you will want the dowel rod to overhang on the edges by a few inches.

3. Screw in eyelet hooks.

4. Determine the length you want your clothing rack to “float” from the ceiling and cut two pieces of wire using the wire cutters.

5. Loop wire through eyelet hook and secure ferrule and stop kit. Using the wire cutters, crimp down on the stopper to hold in place. Make sure wire is secure by pulling gently. Repeat on opposite end by securing ferrule and stop kit around the dowel rod. Trim excess wire.

6. Repeat on other end of dowel rod. Use a level to make sure the rod is even before securing the last ferrule and stopper on the final loop around dowel rod.

7. Hang clothes with hangers and do a happy dance.

Movin’ In

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We said goodbye to our apartment w/ shared yard in Berkeley (and the schnauzer who always had beef with Jack…his name was Chauncey and he was an asshole). We are really happy to be in a house with a nice big back yard of our own now.

Jack and Keeper have become well acquainted with the doggie door and are relishing their new found freedom. It’s funny to see them both try to squeeze through the door at the same time and get stuck. Mila figured it out too, so she’s been spending some time in the back yard pretending to be a dog with them. Yesterday we went to the hardware store and picked up lots of things for DIY projects. It’s good to be (in our new) home!


Turning the big 0-3.

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My apartment smells like fresh linen right now. Not like the smell of actual fresh linen, but like the glade plug-in “fresh linen” smell. They had a sale on them at the gas station across the street and I needed them because my landlord is showing our place from 2-4 today and my cat likes to pee on the closet floor if any clothes are left out and we’re not supposed to even have a cat so I had to mask the smell of cloroxed cat piss floor with gas station “fresh linen” smell. It was half clutch decision, half “this’ll do” because like I’m a chill human and it’s whatever. So things are going good. I’m writing to you from the car, where I’m sitting in an empty gym parking lot with my cat on my lap. The dogs are in the back staring at the half-eaten turkey and cheese sandwich I left on the dashboard. My landlord probably wouldn’t even be pissed if he found out we had a cat, I mean…he already knows we have dogs. Maybe part of me just wants the thrill of a mid-Sunday afternoon covert cat-hiding operation.

Trey is out of town. He turned 30 so I bought him tickets to NYC to go ride with his bmx friends. I figured since I spent my 30th birthday on the back of a motorbike in the Philippines a couple months ago (I know, I need to post the pics), he should go on a bike-related adventure too. Whenever he’s out of town I go full-on Home Alone level wild, except the 30 year old version. I stayed up late, sang Hall and Oats in the bathtub, watched like fifty episodes of Catfish re-runs in my underwear, pinned everything I want for Christmas this year and didn’t brush my teeth once. For dinner last night I had one of those Amy’s microwavable macaroni and cheeses, a spoonful of maybe-expired leftover soup, oatmeal, and half an heirloom tomato. I legit felt like that rat in Charlotte’s Web that floats down the river on his schmorgesborg of food singing into the night sky.

Anyway, I’ve been gone from here for a little bit. I had to deal with adult life things and so I took some time to do that. How vague is that? Very vague. 10/10 vague. Wow I never noticed how much vague looks like it could just be the french slang word for vag. I’m 30 now so I can make vagina references with confidence.

There are lots of new stuffs happening. For one, we’re moving! To a house in the hills like 10 minutes away with a big back yard and a greenhouse. There’s a creek too, and other grown-up things like a drive way and a dishwasher. Having a house seems like an adulty maneuver. I just laughed out loud because while writing that I got a flashback of us in the backseat of an uber last week taking turns violently breathing in each other’s face to make sure our breath didn’t stink. Thirty. 3-0. I feel more like 0-3. I got Trey those big fancy number balloons so when he came home he REALLY knew how old he was. FYI balloons are about the worst thing you can buy if you’re an anxious human. “Balloon” is just a cute word for I’m going to stretch this weird rubber thing to it’s limit, tie a pretty ribbon on it and then take it for a walk outside in the world where EVERYTHING IS SHARP. It feels oddly similar to those parenting exercises in high school where they give you the pretend babies to see whether you’d kill it or not.

So, that’s my story for right now. Doing adulty things and turning into magical 0-3 year olds. Here’s a picture of Trey at his friend’s bike shop with his buddies this weekend (this photo is for you, future kids! look at your dad’s ponytail under his bucket hat!)!



Summer Reads

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Summer is such a great time for reading. I like all kinds of books, but off-beat fiction is what I really like to get lost in. I usually have a few going at a time – a book for the gym, one by the bath tub, another on my side of the bed – each with their pages dog-earred and stained with some ubiquitous liquid. Mila cat is my reading buddy. She usually finds me and cuddles up, snoring big fat snores into the crease of my elbow. I’m not sure there’s much better than a sweet kitty laying next to you in the late-evening summer sun with a book. Here are a few of the good ones I’ve read lately:

You’ll Grow Out Of It
Jesse Klein
After listening to Terri Gross’ interview with comic Jesse Klein about her book on NPR, I knew I had to read it. And boy did it deliver. Klein, who is currently the head writer/exec producer of “Inside Amy Schumer”, shares 24 humorous short stories from her life in this book…everything from growing up, to dating and “failing at” the rites of womanhood. She opens the book by introducing herself as a “tom man”, a term she coined for when a tomboy just never grows out of it. It’s been my favorite read so far this summer.

The Girls
Emma Cline
I couldn’t put this one down. The story takes place in the late 1960s and follows a young girl who encounters a group of free-spirited girls in the park and is drawn to them. Soon she is becoming a part of the group, which we later learn is a cult led by a charismatic leader. It reminded me of The Virgin Suicides during some parts, which I loved….mixed with a little psychological thrill.

Me, Earl, And The Dying Girl
Jesse Andrews
I am such a fan of the way Jesse Andrews writes. It’s so refreshingly honest and funny. This is his debut novel, although he’s been a screenwriter for years. He tells a coming of age story that follows a teenage guy as he navigates high school and adolescence, and how an unlikely relationship with a girl in his class with leukemia ends up being the closest thing he has to a friend. I loved how unconventional the story is and how it’s full of both light-hearted and deep moments. The film adaptation is really great too!

Modern Lovers
Emma Straub
I haven’t finished this one, but it’s been a good read so far. The story is about two couples who have been friends for a long time and live on the same block in Brooklyn with their teenage children. It’s the perfect book if you have ever wondered what happens to hipsters when they get older.

One Simple Trick

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Life with Dogs
Tip #11: Using a distinct whistle.

When I was a kid, my brother and I used to spend all summer outside. Just before it got dark every evening, my dad would stand on the edge of the porch and whistle for us to come in. That whistle would carry through the trees and across the pasture, down to the creek, and straight into our ears. Whenever we heard the whistle, we knew it was time to make our way back home.

I’ve found this not only works for two scraggly kids roaming through the woods (ha!), it also works with dogs. By choosing a sound and using it when you want their attention, over time it will become distinct and memorable to them. Most of us do it already without really noticing.

When I’m on trails in the woods, I like to give the dogs space to wander. It’s a trust we have with one another – they can roam freely as long as they come back when I whistle for them. I like letting them be dogs and giving them the freedom to sniff and investigate. The two of them stick together most of the time. Keep stays right at Jack’s heels, or vice versa. When they get too far from me, I whistle for them and they run back by my side. There are times, of course, when they forget or ignore me because they are too interested in what they are doing, and that’s ok. I just whistle a few more times and wait for them.

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A good way to train your dog to come to your distinct whistle is to start in the house or at the dog park with a ball or toy. Throw the ball or toy and whistle for them to bring it back instead of saying anything. Over time, they will make the association that your whistle means to come back. This will also get them familiar with the sound of the whistle you’ve chosen.

My go-tos are: a high-pitched whistle or a sharp kiss-like sound I used to use with horses growing up. Both are effective, and I like that even in a crowd of dogs I can get their individual attention. Do you guys have a special whistle or call that gets your dog’s attention? I want to know!